Chapter 22:

Vol. 1, Ch. 22: Raising Destiny: The Currency of All that Exists

The Integrity of the Super Club [Beta version]

Before school the following morning, Rover made it priority to inform Benedict Torrent that the first two conditions had been met for their AR match.Bookmark here

“Special Number 5, huh?” Benedict sounded pleased over the phone. “That’s certainly impressive! Now, all that remains is—”Bookmark here

“The hundred thousand thuggoons,” Rover grunted. “Yeah, I’m still working on that. And yes, I still think it’s a rip-off.”Bookmark here

“Such is the price of business,” Benedict reminded him.Bookmark here

Oh, that almighty reminder that money is the only way around Thugwood.Bookmark here

And yet, as he was met with Quintegrity’s hug as he stepped outside onto his doorstep, he almost forgot about the upcoming match while being smothered in his girlfriend’s warmth.Bookmark here

“Congratulations on getting to level nine hundred ninety-nine!!!” She squeezed Rover tighter, pushing the blood into his face.Bookmark here

“How’d you know?” he asked when released from the hug.Bookmark here

“You emailed me yesterday. Judging by your recent obsessed behavior and the loose tone of your email, I assumed you did so in a mindless, half-asleep daze.”Bookmark here

“…Oh. Good enough, I suppose…”Bookmark here

As Rover walked to school with Quintegrity and Adele, admiring his girlfriend’s optimism so early in the day, an inkling of a notion seeped into his head: Maybe some people had the means of sidestepping the entrapment of money, not just because they had a lot of it, but because they could exist outside the system altogether.Bookmark here

Exist outside the walls.Bookmark here

Quintegrity said she lived outside the Jerry Co. Walls…in exile…Bookmark here

He zoned out until his sister spoke up.Bookmark here

“Next is paying Benedict the hundred thousand thuggoons,” Adele said. She turned to Quintegrity. “Do you really think we’ll make that much from our little café fundraiser?”Bookmark here

“Absotively posilutely!” Quintegrity replied, marching down the street with her timely high steps. “Our school is huge with even huger appetites and a simply hugest addiction for anything the Super Club does. They’ll flock, eat, and pay! You’ll be getting papercuts and finger blisters from all the money-counting at the end of the day! Hee-hee! Not really…because there’s no such thing as paper and coin currency anymore.”Bookmark here

Quintegrity stopped walking. Rover and Adele stopped too, looking at her.Bookmark here

“Oh, I almost forgot to tell you,” she said, grinning. “I informed Headmaster that the Super Club will be procuring provisions today. We won’t be going to school so we can shop for groceries and goodies.”Bookmark here

Rover’s and Adele’s faces lit up.Bookmark here

Wide-eyed, Adele said, “You mean…we don’t have to go to school today?”Bookmark here

“Correct.”Bookmark here

“All right!” Rover cheered. “It’s awesome that you got permission to skip school in the name of the Super Club.”Bookmark here

“I didn’t ask Headmaster for permission,” Quintegrity said proudly. “I told him.”Bookmark here

Being in the Super Club really did have its perks.Bookmark here

22!22@22#22$22%22^22&22*22(22)22_22+22Bookmark here

While every other student in every other school all across the Thugwood Metropolitan Address attended their routine, mundane classes, the four Super Club members journeyed around to various grocery stores and foodstuff suppliers. They bought wiggly puddings and aromatic spices and succulent meatchops and exotic creams and decadent dangers of delicious disarray, checking each item off their sprawling shopping list one-by-one.Bookmark here

Quintegrity paid for all of it, never flinching at the total prices racking up. During checkout at the seventh supermarket they visited, Lumpy whispered into Rover’s ear.Bookmark here

“Quinn uses that Mythril credit card like she has infinite funds.”Bookmark here

Rover shrugged. “Maybe it is infinite.”Bookmark here

“Like she has no monetary limits…”Bookmark here

“Maybe financially, she’s outside the system.”Bookmark here

Outside the walls.Bookmark here

22!22@22#22$22%22^22&22*22(22)22_22+22Bookmark here

Later that week on the day of the fundraiser, the Super Club began their preparations for Operation Maid Invasion first thing before school was in session. Every student was given a “Maid Pass” that allowed them to skip one full class of their choosing to attend the maid café.Bookmark here

As such, normal lunch was canceled. The cafeteria was practically handed over to the Super Club, and the scary lunch ladies were given paid leave to embark on whatever the lunch ladies did on their days off. (Cooking children in their homes was an urban legend, but the absence of any evidence against the myth was very disturbing.)Bookmark here

Getting the kitchen ready and prepping the food so early in the morning was already annoying. However, as Rover slipped the shiny black shoes on his feet and placed the frilly, lacey headband on his noggin, he realized there were many things in life far more awful than manual labor.Bookmark here

He looked at Olaf and Daremont as they assembled the embarrassing outfits—the same outfit Rover had to wear.Bookmark here

“Do we really have to wear…”—Rover gulped, not wanting to hear his own voice say it— “maid outfits?”Bookmark here

After a breathy, droning moan, Olaf placed a hand on his hip (and the poofy skirt covering his hip).Bookmark here

“Wearing a maid outfit in a maid café?” he said. “Yeah, that makes noooo sense.”Bookmark here

“It was Quintegrity’s idea, I guess.” Rover sighed, realizing he should’ve left his pride at the door. “She went through the trouble of hiring a tailor for these outfits, so it wouldn’t be right to let her down.”Bookmark here

Daremont’s eyes shimmered as he cracked a smile—Rover knew something stupid was coming.Bookmark here

“It’s safe to say that Quinn…”Bookmark here

“No!” Rover bared his teeth at Daremont. “Don’t you fucking say it!”Bookmark here

“…had these tailor-maid for us!!!”Bookmark here

Dragging his palms down his face, Rover truly rued not having left his pride at the door.Bookmark here

22!22@22#22$22%22^22&22*22(22)22_22+22Bookmark here

When first class started, the breakfast rush hit the café fast and hard. Despite not having a real breakfast menu (or any specific mealtime menu, for that matter), the students flocked to the maid café, desperate to try whatever kooky concoctions the Super Club’s sorcery had sorceled up. Even some teachers, upon finding their entire first period classes empty, joined in the mob.Bookmark here

Adele was quickly overwhelmed, trying to seat the masses and take their orders with a tablet. Her primary source of stress, though, was having to uphold her friendly maid façade while dealing with the unruly customers.Bookmark here

“Nice outfit!” the boys would say, their sneers and snickers rubbing Adele the wrong way. She sensed the underlying motives in their crude leers directed at the tight leggings and short skirt.Bookmark here

“How adorable!” the girls would say, their glowing eyes and blushing cheeks getting under Adele’s skin during the waves of questions regarding every possible punitive detail behind the maid costume’s design.Bookmark here

“I-It’s not like I wanted to wear this outfit!” she barked at one point.Bookmark here

“Ooh,” a boy said with a sly smirk, “she’s a tsundere maid!”Bookmark here

What’d you call me, bitch?!?”Bookmark here

The boy laughed with Adele’s fist quivering centimetres away from his nose. Suddenly, a gentle hand grabbed her shoulder from behind.Bookmark here

“Now, now,” Quintegrity told her with astonishing tenderness, “that’s no way to speak to a customer, Adele.”Bookmark here

Adele and everyone around were mesmerized by Quintegrity’s grace, and they all fell into order. It was no surprise that Quintegrity looked amazing in a maid outfit, as if it amplified her hospitality and well-meaning personality. Everyone in earshot nodded, happy to oblige with her statement of peace among the students.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, the kitchen was getting its ass kicked.Bookmark here

A small printer wirelessly received the orders from the tablets Lumpy and Adele carried, and it was spitting out order tickets like rapid fire.Bookmark here

“We need three more corndog sundaes!” Rover shouted, ripping the ticket from the printer and hanging it on the ticket rail over the pickup window, a curtain comprised of dozens of little pieces of paper listing off the customers’ desires.Bookmark here

Every ticket had a customization comment: “Make it funk-a-licious <3 (>.<)”Bookmark here

“Scratch that,” Rover said, “five more corndog sundaes!”Bookmark here

“Like that’ll be easy!” Olaf replied, his sarcastic tone still monotonous even while shouting. He slammed food onto several plates at once, setting them out for the servers to take.Bookmark here

“Palmaple syrup salad, sub almond butter!” Rover said, reading the next ticket and wiping his sweaty brow on his delicate sleeve. His frilly headband seemed to crinkle in tune with his distress. “And…another five orders of chicken wings?!”Bookmark here

“Maybe those wings should be a liiiitle more popular!” Olaf said, his hands moving wildly as he plated food at breakneck speed, as if we was a drummer for a heavy metal band during a brutal drum solo. The lacey ends of his sleeves seemed to whistle in the wind of his movements.Bookmark here

“These wings are just flying outta the kitchen!” Daremont declared as he literally threw order after order of chicken wings through the window (Quintegrity caught them all, even while in the middle of expediting and helping place/deliver orders—she moved very fast).Bookmark here

“You look adorable, Lumpy!” Quintegrity chortled, appearing as a blur while grabbing plates of food. “Your scrawny figure is wonderful for crossdressing!”Bookmark here

“Greeeat,” he muttered, short-winded as he picked up two deluxe parfaits.Bookmark here

The orders never seemed to stop coming in because Quintegrity never stopped seating customers. Adele and Lumpy stumbled toward the kitchen window, collapsing facedown. In the heat of the battle, stuck between Daremont and Olaf, Rover forged on.Bookmark here

This is to pay Benedict Torrent! This is to be a king at Glove Alien Fight! This is to beat CEO Claudius and lift the daily quota mandate! This isBookmark here

Rover caught a fleeting snapshot of Quintegrity’s face, glowing, sparkling, shining. He saw her lost in the thrill of the moment, the exuberance of doing what she does day in and day out.Bookmark here

The boy saw true, honest joy inside her.Bookmark here

This is for her.Bookmark here

For the rest of the day, no matter how grueling the pace Quintegrity set for the café, Rover made sure to match it.Bookmark here

And he did.Bookmark here

22!22@22#22$22%22^22&22*22(22)22_22+22Bookmark here

All six Operation Maid Invasion workers occupied the Super Club penthouse, the highest number of warm bodies to fill the expanse of top-notch accommodations all schoolyear. The club president stood next to the enormous TV as she addressed her team.Bookmark here

“The café ran slower than optimum,” Quintegrity told Rover, Olaf, and Daremont, “because the kitchen couldn’t keep up.”Bookmark here

Rover checked the bandage on his knuckle. Using a chef’s knife was nothing new, but the fundraiser had demanded he utilize one under less-than-comfortable circumstances and in ways he didn’t know a knife could or should be used.Bookmark here

The thick adhesive bandage was clotted underneath with a spot of blood, but it looked dry.Bookmark here

It probably won’t interfere with my match against Benedict, he thought as he pressed the bandage back down.Bookmark here

“We did fine,” Rover told Quintegrity. “We’re not superhuman like you.”Bookmark here

“So, you’re forgiven,” she replied with a humble bow. “TV-chan!”Bookmark here

“What now?” the irate female voice grumbled.Bookmark here

“Show the revenue report, pretty please.”Bookmark here

“Fine.”Bookmark here

A line chart appeared on the wall-sized television, showing the number of customers served and income made each hour, but most importantly, the total amount of money made that day: over eighty-seven thousand thuggoons.Bookmark here

“That’s all we made?” Rover moaned. “No way! Quintegrity, how much did we charge the customers?”Bookmark here

“A flat rate of a hundred thuggoons,” she replied, “no matter what they ordered.”Bookmark here

What?!” Rover hollered. “For all that work, that’s all you charged?!”Bookmark here

She laughed. “Of course! Lower prices equal easier access for customers. Also, we aren’t just raising money…we’re raising destiny: The currency of all that exists!”Bookmark here

Adele muttered, “But we fell short of a hundred thousand. If we cut into our savings, we’ll have enough…but I don’t wanna do that.”Bookmark here

“We’re still good,” Lumpy said. “We didn’t have to make all of it from this alone.”Bookmark here

“This is a little more than I thought we’d make,” Quintegrity said. “Tomorrow, the full moon will be in effect, so when we run the Full Moon Special, we’ll make more money than we did today.”Bookmark here

The color drained from everyone else’s faces.Bookmark here

“Tomorrow?” Rover asked, his voice small. “You mean…?”Bookmark here

Quintegrity nodded. “Yes. It’s a two-day fundraiser.”Bookmark here

A lot of staring happened. Quintegrity blinked, then gave a meager smile.Bookmark here

“Uh…I told you that…didn’t I?”Bookmark here

NO!!!”Bookmark here

She stuck out her tongue and bonked herself on the head with her fist. “Oops! Aah…I’m sorry, everyone. Tee-hee…”Bookmark here

22!22@22#22$22%22^22&22*22(22)22_22+22Bookmark here

Day two of Operation Maid Invasion was host to the same intensity of work as the first day. Afterward, when the six of them were draped over the chairs and couches in the club penthouse—all but Quintegrity sore and tuckered out—they reviewed the sales report, and had earned more that day than the first.Bookmark here

22!22@22#22$22%22^22&22*22(22)22_22+22Bookmark here

When Benedict received news of Rover’s payment being ready, he laughed, pleasantly surprised.Bookmark here

“Not that I was rushing you,” he told Rover over the phone, “although, I had expected it to take a little more time.”Bookmark here

The six Operation Maid Invasion workers were celebrating their achievement with light snacks at Leche la Orihime-A, the best ice cream pub in Southbound Thugwood.Bookmark here

“Shows you that I’m not holding back.” Rover couldn’t help but smile as he used his straw to stir his expensive minty allspice lemonade.Bookmark here

“What say we meet somewhere this Sundun-day?” Benedict suggested. “The weather should be clear that day, but you know how the weatherman does us sometimes. You can make the payment then, and we’ll figure out where to go from there. Sound good?”Bookmark here

“Deal.”Bookmark here

“Awesome. I’m thinking we meet at the Icarus Centre at noon.”Bookmark here

“Works for me,” Rover said.Bookmark here

When the conversation ended, everyone else had their eyes on Rover.Bookmark here

“This Sundun-day at noon,” he told the others, taking a sip of his drink, “at the Icarus Centre.”Bookmark here

“Where it all began with Graphite,” Lumpy commented, sniffing his cracker, which tasted over-seasoned.Bookmark here

“Benedict totally didn’t do that on purpose, did he?” Olaf pushed his remaining salmon dragon salad around the plate, smearing the balsamic ranch dressing into speckled, creamy whorls. “The Icarus Centre is the leeaast bit ironic.”Bookmark here

Daremont had his mouth full of a tapioca ice cream sandwich, but he desperately and vigorously chewed faster to get his imminent pun out. By the gods, Adele seized the moment to punt his pun into the tall grass, never to be heard from.Bookmark here

“You really wanna go through with this, Big Bro?” She looked directly at her brother, a firm and observational stare. “We have all that money from the fundraiser that we busted our booties for. It can go toward anything,”—a depraved shadow flashed through her eyes, ever so slight that only Rover had noticed, being familiar with it— “even go straight into our own pockets and toward that Anti-Grav skateboard.”Bookmark here

Daremont grabbed his head, suffering from brain freeze, his warbling pun dying from the chill.Bookmark here

“Of course I wanna do this,” Rover replied, sighing. “You gotta ask that?” He looked at Quintegrity sitting next to him. She didn’t look back, but he knew she was aware of his gaze.Bookmark here

Rover stirred his drink again. “It’s actually up to Quintegrity where that money goes, though. Right, Super Club President?”Bookmark here

This time, she looked at him, returning a smile twice as big as his.Bookmark here

“Are you asking me to bail you out of your match against Benedict Torrent?” she joked.Bookmark here

“Ha! Caught in the act.”Bookmark here

“Nice try! But I’ll personally drag you there myself if you get cold feet on me now!”Bookmark here

She turned her body toward Rover, and he found himself drawn into her presence, full of jazzy pizzazz that emanated outward, making all of the other customers feel oddly fuzzy for reasons they couldn’t explain.Bookmark here

Rover slurped the rest of his drink and set the glass on the table with a confident twinkle in his eye.Bookmark here

“Then I better put my wool socks on so I don’t get cold feet!”Bookmark here

Daremont clapped, and Rover realized his friends were rubbing off on him, if only a little.Bookmark here

*******Bookmark here

<<<STATUS>>>Bookmark here

Rover… Lvl 999Bookmark here

All Money… {T}213,600Bookmark here

Allowance… {T}34,200Bookmark here

Fundraiser… {T}178,400Bookmark here

Food Slip… {T}1,000Bookmark here

<<<EXPENSE GOALS>>>Bookmark here

Benedict’s Pay… {T}100,000Bookmark here

Anti-Grav Skateboard… {T}499,999Bookmark here

<<<CURRENT EQUIPMENT>>>Bookmark here

Weapon… BeelzebubBookmark here

Armor… Brutal SuitBookmark here

Acc. 1… Yakuza ToolsBookmark here

Acc. 2… Unsetting SunBookmark here

<<<SPECIAL NUMBERS>>>Bookmark here

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