Chapter 39:

Vol. 2, Ch. 14: Supreme Business of Maximum Importance

The Integrity of the Super Club [Beta version]

“I brought another Spynote Report for you to review.” Lawellen Skofkov tucked her briefcase under her arm and handed a folder to a handsome man wearing a dark suit. She’d caught up with him in the corridors of the Thugwood Governmental Entity Capitol Sanctum.Bookmark here

Turning the folder away, the man replied with a smile, “You know where to deliver any Spynote Reports. I see so many of them these days, so I’ll only bother with them during the allotted time.”Bookmark here

His empty smile hardly hid his arrogance, and that coldness was emphasized by his hardened charm and handsomeness. He brushed his stylish strands of grovenut-colored hair from his face and peeked over his sunglasses, all so Lawellen could clearly see the condescending edge in his pecan eyes.Bookmark here

However, being equally haughty at heart, Lawellen was merely amused, taking the opportunity to assume dominance in their little patronizing exchange.Bookmark here

The brunette woman stepped closer, holding the folder to the man’s face.Bookmark here

“Your fancy Cohort suit means nothing to me.” Her smirk seemed to be made of needles, thin and sharp, and her chilly, computer-glow eyes gleamed through her spectacles. “Underneath it is just another man, and today, that man will face regret for not reading this report right now.”Bookmark here

Intrigued, the handsome man took the folder, keeping his attention on the brunette woman and matching her smirk. “That’s a longwinded way of saying something is urgent.”Bookmark here

“I know,” Lawellen replied with a sultry chuckle. She grabbed the man’s tie in one hand and brought him closer. “All business aside, it’s also the perfect excuse for me and you to have a little privacy to review an important report.”Bookmark here

He stared at her over his sunglasses, his eyes finally crinkling along with his smile.Bookmark here

“My office should be nice and private,” he told her.Bookmark here

39!39@39#39$39%39^39&39*39(39)39_39+39Bookmark here

Standing before the enormous double doors leading to the audience chamber, Lawellen made sure her hair was tidied and shirt was properly tucked in. The handsome man next to her chuckled impatiently.Bookmark here

“You’re presentable,” he said.Bookmark here

“If so,” she replied, “then it means you failed to be rough enough.”Bookmark here

“By all means, because of this audience, I needed you to still be able to walk.”Bookmark here

“Such a gentleman.” Satisfied with her appearance, Lawellen gripped her folder and briefcase. “Very well, let’s proceed.”Bookmark here

The man rapped the door knocker four times in a steady rhythm, and the sound rang uninhibited down the corridors. Seconds later, an elderly man with the straightest spine and driest personality cracked open one of the double doors.Bookmark here

“Ah, Cohort Dukewell Maxable,” the elderly man greeted. “You brought Lawellen Skofkov. Good, we’ve been expecting you.” His hair was like cotton balls and his soft, furtive speech sounded as if he were reciting the narrative from a cozy mystery novel.Bookmark here

“Thank you, Sir Vint,” Cohort Dukewell Maxable said.Bookmark here

Sir Vint swung open both ginormous doors leading to one of the largest rooms in the Capitol Sanctum. The Cohort nodded at Lawellen, and they followed the elderly man into the audience chamber. Their footsteps on the marble floor echoed into the highest reaches of the ceiling, but the space was so big that the echoes did not return—lost forever among the ostentatious chandeliers illuminating the overhead mural depicting the gods inputting their first cheat codes in arcade video games. Grandiose pillars lined the straight pathway to the opposite side of the audience chamber where, sitting upon his diamond-spangled gaming chair, Chief Executive Overlord Claudius awaited his guests.Bookmark here

The supreme ruler of Thugwood stared at his approaching audience. To his right stood a tall man with dark skin dressed in a pinstripe suit and frisky fedora, wielding a brass-blazed trombone. Sir Vint took his post to the ruler’s left, standing as straight as the pillars holding the high ceiling above their heads.Bookmark here

Lawellen and Cohort Dukewell Maxable stood at the foot of the steps ascending to their absolute figure, and they offered courteous bows. CEO Claudius did not respond, keeping his eyes on them. His enormous, suited body did more than fill the giant gaming chair, making him appear as an adult utilizing children’s furniture.Bookmark here

“Good evening, Your Honor,” the Cohort said. Knowing he wouldn’t receive a reply, he continued, “I am here with Lawellen Skofkov, who is speaking on behalf of the Glove Alien Fight development team. It has come to our attention to relay urgent news to you.”Bookmark here

He nodded at Lawellen, and the woman spoke.Bookmark here

“Your Honor, I brought with me a Spynote Report composed by the Glove Alien Fight development team this afternoon.”Bookmark here

CEO Claudius watched Lawellen remove a stack of text-heavy papers from her folder.Bookmark here

“Earlier today around ten hundred hours,” she began, “the Glove Alien Fight development team reported the Next Phase had been commenced by a player possessing the ten Special Number items. The player activated the first quantum peripheral: the Southbound Prefecture peripheral and the affiliated Southbound School Dungeon. The development team reported expected activity on the second floor soon thereafter, indicating the augmented reality dungeon had been accessed and used.”Bookmark here

“What about the Mech Bot General’s activation?” Thugwood’s Chief Executive Overlord immediately overtook the entire audience chamber with a single uttered question.Bookmark here

“Yes.” Lawellen thumbed through her papers to look for the section mentioning the Mech Bot General. “That was a primary focus to this Spynote Report… If I can find the page—”Bookmark here

The woman was interrupted by nothing more than CEO Claudius rising from his gaming chair. Despite the simplicity of the action, everyone in Thugwood instinctively understood that if CEO Claudius did anything, it would not and could not be without sheer deliberation and go ignored.Bookmark here

With a standing height at a towering two hundred fifty-nine centimetres (eight feet and six inches by arcane, otherworldly measurements) and weighing over one hundred eighty kilograms (approximately four hundred pounds in equally asinine units), the ruler’s presence was the dominating factor in every occasion.Bookmark here

With deft nimbleness belied by his heft, CEO Claudius descended the steps away from his seat. He snapped his fingers once, signaling to Sir Vint and the hip trombonist to accompany him. Lawellen stopped searching through the papers in her hands, giving the ruler a curious look.Bookmark here

“Your Honor?” she asked as the giant man walked right past her.Bookmark here

*Step. Step. Step. Step.*Bookmark here

“Your Honor,” Cohort Dukewell Maxable said as the CEO continued toward the huge double doors. “May I ask where you’re going? We have this very urgent report.”Bookmark here

The enormous man stopped, and the audience chamber sank into a deafening silence at the absence of his rhythmic steps. He turned, keeping a formal, upright posture and gave the two guests a steely look.Bookmark here

“I don’t need your little report.” At that, he faced toward the doors again. “I’ll see to it that I get my information directly from the source.”Bookmark here

*Step. Step. Step. Step.*Bookmark here

His footsteps were the only echoes to return from the loftiest nooks above the chamber.Bookmark here

Lawellen and Cohort Dukewell Maxable obediently stood by until CEO Claudius reached the exit. Sir Vint opened both doors wide.Bookmark here

“Cohort,” the ruler called from the doorway, “come this way.” With no change of tone, he added, “Miss Skofkov, you are dismissed.”Bookmark here

The Cohort cracked a wry smile. “He knows about us,” he muttered to Lawellen.Bookmark here

“Secrets sure don’t last long in the Capitol Sanctum.” The woman smirked with a low exhale of a chuckle, and she followed the handsome man out of the audience chamber before heading off on her own.Bookmark here

39!39@39#39$39%39^39&39*39(39)39_39+39Bookmark here

Brassy melodies followed CEO Claudius on his journey through the Capitol Sanctum courtesy of the hip trombonist. They navigated the winding corridors and rode the massive elevators of glass and steel, quite an expedition in and of itself. The openness of the sprawling Capitol Sanctum created the illusion of a luxurious palace laden with utilitarian design, a balance of aesthetics and usefulness. However, this domain of the government’s central operations was very far from a palace—it was a fortress, nothing less, yet everything more.Bookmark here

Thousands of government workers were alerted that their ruler was on the move when they heard the funky, groovy trombone declare as such. Many of them shied away from the brassy sound, putting aside their curiosity to keep their heads down and attention off themselves. They knew CEO Claudius only made his way around the Capitol Sanctum if something revolutionary was in the works, and workers needed to mind their own business to avoid instant de-rationalization without question and trial.Bookmark here

The automatic door to the Glove Alien Fight Game Dev Lab slid open. The programmers and game server managers were alerted by a trendy trombone fanfare—CEO Claudius was here. At once, everyone stood at attention, abandoning their desks, computers, potato crisps, and solitaire sessions to formally acknowledge the presence of their supreme ruler.Bookmark here

“Your Honor.” A wiry, sinewy man in a lab coat twitched his way up to the CEO, his face and fingers jittering from excessive caffeine intake. “May I help you, sir?”Bookmark here

“Tell me about the Next Phase commencement, Doctor Director,” CEO Claudius said firmly, his expression rigid and unchanged.Bookmark here

“Yes!” The twitchy director led the CEO farther inside the lab. “This morning, we detected that the proper in-game quantum sequences had been activated. A player has entered the Southbound Thugwood High School Dungeon. We completed the Spynote and marked it as urgent, which you should have received from Miss Skofkov by now.”Bookmark here

“What of the Mech Bot General stationed there?”Bookmark here

A cascade of twitchiness ran from Doctor Director’s head down to his toes.Bookmark here

“Ah, most unusual!” He let out a high-pitched laugh. “All of the in-game events necessary for the Mech Bot General’s boot-up were not activated. That means whatever that player did to reach the hundredth floor was outside of the game’s intended parameters.”Bookmark here

“Hacking,” CEO Claudius said. He cast a quick glance around the lab, making every developer shiver in their shoes. “Cheating.”Bookmark here

Cohort Dukewell Maxable lifted an eyebrow at that notion.Bookmark here

“Not just any hacking.” The director stepped closer to the enormous man, having to look straight up to meet eye-to-eye. “Quantum hacking. By all means, nobody should have that kind of capability…unless they have funding from the government like we have.” He narrowed his eyes. “Sabotage from within your ranks, perhaps?”Bookmark here

“What became of the Mech Bot General?”Bookmark here

The Doctor probably shrugged, but his profuse twitching made his movements look like he was having a seizure.Bookmark here

“The feedback has gone dark,” he wheezed. “It seems it’s been deactivated, and the Machine Team is busy looking into the hardware right now. We know for certain the Mech Bot General has handed over its Legendary Cog item, the first in play.” He cracked a grin of coffee-stained teeth. “I don’t know exactly what happened, but despite this anomaly, the game is still progressing as intended.”Bookmark here

“Who is this player who entered the School Dungeon?”Bookmark here

“We cannot tell,” Doctor Director said with a disappointed frown. “The quantum hacking scrambled the data. I can explain it to you detail. When the programs in place—”Bookmark here

Saying no more, CEO Claudius exited the Game Dev Lab as the hip trombonist struck up the funky beat.Bookmark here

39!39@39#39$39%39^39&39*39(39)39_39+39Bookmark here

“These are the images taken from our helicopters.” Sergeant Major Zohar Bloodshank clicked a button on his remote, and the walls of the briefing room flickered on to display the various photographs.Bookmark here

CEO Claudius stood at the end of the long table closest to the door. He moved his eyes from one photograph of Planet Quinn to the next, the screen lights from all angles accenting the stern expression he wore. The captured footage numbered in the thousands of photos and videos, filling the entire room’s walls.Bookmark here

Sgt. Maj. Bloodshank continued, “Thugforce Militia intel provides strong evidence supporting the theory that this floating, spherical mass is the Mech Bot General of Southbound Thugwood. It has remained in place over the high school there.”Bookmark here

The ruler still directed his attention toward the television walls. “How did it end up this way?”Bookmark here

“It has to do with its quantum processors going out of control,” the militant man answered. “I’m not a computer guy, so I apologize that my layman’s terms are insufficient for an in-depth explanation.” With the press of a button on the remote, he magnified all the pictures. “Take a look at that.”Bookmark here

Some of the pictures of Planet Quinn contained a peculiar entity appearing as a streak of pure light.Bookmark here

Removing his sunglasses to see the images better, Cohort Dukewell Maxable raised his eyebrows. “Looks like a comet.”Bookmark here

“We don’t know what that is,” the sergeant major told them. “Our personnel weren’t prepared for an event of this magnitude and were poorly equipped to record this phenomenon. Whatever that ‘comet’ is, our reports say it was what contended with the Mech Bot General. Perhaps a two-star or three-star Cohort Squadron helicopter would have been more successful with intel with their equipped deep-soul scanners, but that remains as speculation.”Bookmark here

The supreme ruler stared at the images of the comet while Sir Vint moved close to a nearby picture of the floating mass of mangled mechanicals.Bookmark here

“How does it stay afloat like that?” the old man asked, his voice low and curious.Bookmark here

“Rogue Anti-Grav,” Sgt. Maj. Bloodshank said. “That is what I’ve been told.”Bookmark here

“Told by whom?” CEO Claudius finally met the militant man’s eyes—sharp and beady iron-sight eyes that could fire a petrifying round. Yet, the CEO was more than capable of reflecting such a shot straight back into the barrel.Bookmark here

Softened by the ruler’s superior gaze, the sergeant major replied, “By Hooxikuk Uryr in the Machine Team, the man in charge of building and maintaining the Mech Bot Generals and School Dungeons.”Bookmark here

A boasting trombone and timely, marching steps were the response as the CEO and his entourage exited. Alone in the room, Sgt. Maj. Bloodshank crossed his arms and stared at the images around him. Moments later, without a word, he clicked the remote, and the walls went dark.Bookmark here

39!39@39#39$39%39^39&39*39(39)39_39+39Bookmark here

“We call it ‘rogue’ becauz it iz not actual Anti-Grav technology,” Hooxikuk Uryr explained to CEO Claudius.Bookmark here

The ruler had taken no more than eight rhythmic steps into the Machine Team factory when the stout Mole Man intercepted him. Thunderous heartbeats and coughs of industrial production filled the area; not even the constant pounding and roaring of enormous factory functions could drown out the hip trombone’s soulful, syncopated honking as the ruler was led through the facility.Bookmark here

Hooxikuk showed the CEO a hunk of formless machinery resting on a giant examination platform. Hundreds of needlelike probes were poking and prodding the metal mass of tangled wires and circuits, and the numerous readings stumped the engineers who tried interpreting the information.Bookmark here

The Mole Man adjusted his hardhat as he explained in his Mole Person accent, “Ze samplez I receeved from ze Zugforce Militzia indicate zat ze Mech Bot General’z quantum procezzorz had acheeved creating gravity-defying componentz, but ze structzure and workingz of ze componentz are nowhere cloze to ze patented technology uzed by ze Anti-Grav brand. Zis ‘rogue Anti-Grav’ doezn’t only counteract the world’z gravity, but createz itz own gravitatzional feeld!”Bookmark here

The tiny eyes behind the thick, round glasses glistened with excitement as Hooxikuk wiggled his whiskers, a bucktoothed grin under his mole-y mustache.Bookmark here

“Ze rezulting structzure iz like itz own planet! Ze local nickname iz more zan only a silly moniker given by ze lowly pleeberz living in zat area! Gwee-hee-hee!”Bookmark here

“What nickname did they give it?” CEO Claudius asked.Bookmark here

“‘Planet Quinn,’ Your Honor.”Bookmark here

With his unchanging stern stare, the CEO studied the Mole Man in charge of the Machine Team. “Why did they name it that?”Bookmark here

“Who knowz?” Hooxikuk waved away the thought. “A pleeber iz prone to prepozterouznezz. Nyuk-nyuk! Probably zought it waz funneeee!”Bookmark here

In no time, the trombone fanfare faded away as CEO Claudius left without a word, giving full reign of noisiness back to the factory equipment.Bookmark here

39!39@39#39$39%39^39&39*39(39)39_39+39Bookmark here

In the Capitol Sanctum bridge, Captain Wanda Origami lounged back in her captain’s chair, watching the new episode of Magical Poodle Snickerdoodle on her smartphone as the governmental fortress continued on its course. She absentmindedly toyed with her shoulder-length, peacock-feather hair. The clouds outside were unusual that day, having a stupid formation that only meant the weather was mocking the meteorologists again.Bookmark here

“Captain.” First Mate Billy approached, his face drenched with anxiety. He was a wiry lad with boyish features and squirrely mannerisms.Bookmark here

“The hell ya want?” Captain Origami griped, looking at her phone. “I’m busy here. Snickerdoodle and Goober McDubious just found the caterpillar.”Bookmark here

First Mate Billy adjusted the collar of his sailor uniform.Bookmark here

“I j-just got an email, a-and—”Bookmark here

“Is it about the approaching trombone?” The captain sighed, directing her annoyed glare toward the bridge bulkhead from which the muffled fanfare came.Bookmark here

“Y-Yes, ma’am.”Bookmark here

The captain stuffed her phone in her pants pocket. She stood and gave First Mate Billy an irritated look. “He’s coming, then.”Bookmark here

“Yes, ma’am.”Bookmark here

And with a brassy bass blast of trombone magnificence, CEO Claudius was shadowing the entire bridge with his mighty figure.Bookmark here

Captain Wanda Origami saluted the giant tyrant. “Good day, Your Honor.”Bookmark here

“Change course,” the ruler told her.Bookmark here

“Very well,” she replied with a bow. “Where to, sir?”Bookmark here

Turning to leave, the CEO answered, “Southbound Thugwood High School. I’ll be issuing a notice to the headmaster there that I am to arrive on campus Wenno-day morning. I have supreme business of maximum importance to attend to there.”Bookmark here

“Aye.” The captain faced forward to address her crew. “Set the course for Southbound Thugwood High School.”Bookmark here

“Yes, ma’am!” the sailors replied in unison.Bookmark here

First Mate Billy manned the helm and spun the wheel. At his fingertips, he singlehandedly changed the course of the Thugwood Governmental Entity Capitol Sanctum.Bookmark here

The flying fortress housing over eighty thousand government workers was on its way, soaring high over the endless wastelands beyond the Jerry Co. Walls.Bookmark here

*******Bookmark here

<<<STATUS>>>Bookmark here

Rover… Lvl 1,002Bookmark here

AthletaCom Points… 9Bookmark here

All Money… {T}10,705Bookmark here

Allowance… {T}9,705Bookmark here

Food Slip… {T}1,000Bookmark here

<<<EXPENSE GOALS>>>Bookmark here

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

<<<CURRENT EQUIPMENT>>>Bookmark here

Weapon… InfantryBookmark here

Armor… FASCAR ShirtBookmark here

Acc. 1… Yakuza ToolsBookmark here

Acc. 2… Heist HoovesBookmark here

<<<PERIPHERALS>>>Bookmark here

<None>Bookmark here

<<<SPECIAL NUMBERS>>>Bookmark here

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