Chapter 42:

Vol. 2, Ch. 17: Oops! I Just Created an Alternate Universe, and Its Name Is "Hugh"

The Integrity of the Super Club [Beta version]

High above Thugwood that Thurdur-day morning, Rover sipped his Earl Slay tea, careful not to spill any on the lavish couch and nutmeg cream-toned carpet as the room tilted and swayed. It was his first time in a helicopter, and he was not accustomed to the gentle rocking of an aircraft in flight. However, the swanky interior was nicer than the government limousine in which he’d been interrogated, and he felt slightly more welcome in this occasion…aside from his grumpy host.Bookmark here

Facing Rover from across the cabin was the aircraft’s owner, Captain Pretentious. She sat with one leg over the other with a displeased expression on her childlike face. Her stiffly starched, murdered-rainbow jacket crinkled with her agitated posture as she laced her fingers.Bookmark here

“You have some nerve, prick.” Glints of anger appeared in her highlighter-flamingo-colored eyes. “You call me on my personal phone to schedule a meeting, and then you actually expect me to join your efforts?”Bookmark here

“That’s about the gist,” Rover replied with a smug shrug, looking directly at the little woman.Bookmark here

“Ugh.” She stroked her kitty-ear headband on her head of frosty hair, giving the boy a slanted grimace. “I refuse to side with a cheater of your caliber. Not only would that be against my glorious morals, but my public image would tank if I’m caught aligning with you.”Bookmark here

The cocky teen swallowed some of his tea, then cast a sneer at Captain Pretentious. “That doesn’t make sense, considering you’ve recently created a stir on your own. A very reliable source suggested I should start paying attention to the Glove Alien Fight forums and online activity. Taking their advice, I learned last night that you were busted for possession of illegally jailbroken tablets.”Bookmark here

“Yes.” Captain Pretentious narrowed her eyes at her curt guest. “One million thuggoons. That’s the fine I coughed up.”Bookmark here

Some deep chuckles escaped Rover’s chest. “That’s a heck of a hit! Seeing as my fine for cheating was only fifty thousand, I’d say your deed was way dirtier.”Bookmark here

A vein bulged on the little woman’s forehead as she fought to keep her composure, saying through clenched teeth, “What I did wasn’t the same, and you know it. I didn’t do it for personal gain. It wasn’t even for Glove Alien Fight.” She adjusted herself on her seat. After a moment, she asked, “Do you know how I got caught?”Bookmark here

“Your tablets’ cameras picked up something they weren’t supposed to.”Bookmark here

“A Cohort Squadron helicopter, apparently. It was hidden with augmented reality cloaking technology. I thought it was part of Glove Alien Fight. Everyone saw me react to it, including the Thugforce Militia while they monitored our match, which is how I got caught. Of course, the government didn’t confirm what I’d seen, but it’s pretty obvious.”Bookmark here

Rover nodded.Bookmark here

Not many people know how I really found out about the invisible Cohort Squadron helicopters, he thought. I can’t let anyone know about Quintegrity’s ability to see the AR.Bookmark here

Taking a risk by keeping the topic going, Rover asked, “What was the Cohort Squadron doing there that day?”Bookmark here

Captain Pretentious shook her head. “Hell if I know. They’re not called a secret service for nothing.”Bookmark here

Rover merely shrugged. He looked out the window, seeing Planet Quinn hovering in the same location as always, keeping a slow rotation over the construction site at Southbound Thugwood High School.Bookmark here

“There are most likely more in Thugwood,” he said in a low voice, still looking at the floating mass. “More of those.”Bookmark here

Captain Pretentious followed Rover’s eyes peering out the window. “You think so?” She activated her tablet resting on its stand upon the table in front of her. “I had my suspicions after seeing the Special Number items are back in play.”Bookmark here

“You know about them, then.”Bookmark here

“Obviously,” she huffed. “I acquired Special Number 4 when I reached level nine hundred ninety-nine early this morning.”Bookmark here

“Congratulations.”Bookmark here

“Shove it.” She brought up an online search on her tablet. “Anyway, tell me your thoughts on this.”Bookmark here

Turning her tablet around to face Rover, she showed him a news article. Rover took a moment to read the first paragraph.Bookmark here

“It’s about the Glove Alien Fight level cap,” he replied.Bookmark here

The miniature woman nodded. “My game character is level one thousand now, and I’m not the only one who’s in the quadruple digits. I also have the ‘Legendary Collector’ passive skill. ‘Now you can become a collector of the most important artifacts.’ That’s its description.” Her face became stern, making her appear as a child trying too hard to act smart. “What do you know about it?”Bookmark here

Legendary Cog items, Rover thought.Bookmark here

“Nothing,” he said.Bookmark here

“I can see the lies in your eyes, dammit!” the woman spat, pointing her silk-gloved finger at Rover.Bookmark here

“Okay, I do know something.” He looked down at his cup of Earl Slay tea. The cup was so dainty that he thought he could crush it in one hand, like it was made from edible glass or something. “Normally, I’d love to rub my discovery in people’s faces. This time…I’m keeping it a secret because it’s safer that way.”Bookmark here

Frustrated, Captain Pretentious turned her tablet back around, and she leaned back in her little lavish couch, staring at the boy. “And why do you think it’s safer to keep it a secret?”Bookmark here

“Because,” Rover said, “if people don’t know about it, then they won’t go after it. I told Benedict Torrent about it, but only because I trust him with the information.”Bookmark here

“You’re putting your trust in someone you hardly even know.”Bookmark here

Rover shrugged. “And you’re saying I should do it again by telling you.”Bookmark here

“You might as well tell me. I’m going to look into it myself because you’ve sparked my curiosity.”Bookmark here

“Then I’ll let you figure it out for yourself so I won’t be responsible for you digging your own grave.”Bookmark here

“You had no problem giving this info to Benedict so he could dig his own grave.”Bookmark here

Realizing the little woman was right, the boy had no comeback.Bookmark here

She balled her fists. “And that is why I’m not teaming up with you! Not only because you’re a high-class cheater, but you’re also a secretive, little snotty-nosed prick.”Bookmark here

Rover scoffed. “That’s too bad. As a high-class cheater and snotty-nosed prick, I may or may not know of ways to redeem oneself after their public image is ruined.” He smiled like a smartass at his miniscule host. “I could help you regain some of your positive reputation. It doesn’t seem like too many people hate you for the jailbroken tablets, so it should be an easy fix.”Bookmark here

“Oh-ho-hoo!” Captain Pretentious forced a laugh. “Listen to you, sounding like you can convince me.”Bookmark here

“I’m hoping I can.”Bookmark here

“Well then,” she said, crossing her arms with a grumpy glower, “convince me.”Bookmark here

“Did you see the news this morning? The Thugforce Militia declared it illegal for anyone to close off the AR dungeon underneath that high school.”Bookmark here

“You mean your high school?”Bookmark here

Rover’s heart skipped a beat. “Y-You know which school I go to?”Bookmark here

“Of course I do, you knucklehead! You were a big news topic for a while, so naturally everyone knows you went to Southbound Thugwood High School!”Bookmark here

Sweating, Rover asked, “Uh…so, does that mean everyone knows who went into the School Dungeon?”Bookmark here

“No. They legally weren’t able to publicly reveal identities in that situation without consent.”Bookmark here

Good. That means our secret is safe…for now.Bookmark here

“But,” she added, “it’s different for what the government might know about it.”Bookmark here

That’s not so good…Bookmark here

“Now,” she continued, “you were convincing me…?”Bookmark here

As Captain Pretentious stared at him, Rover said, “Well, I propose providing an AR dungeon exploration service. The government is making sure people can still access the School Dungeon if they desire, probably because it’s important to Glove Alien Fight and CEO Claudius’ plan.”Bookmark here

“And you want me to be part of this exploration service?” The woman’s sharp tone showed she wasn’t buying it.Bookmark here

“I do. It’ll be a fundraiser held by the school club I’m in, a very popular and influential club known for our fundraisers. If you participate, students and the public alike will swarm to the event. That could be great for us and you. Also,”—he smirked— “we can expect a huge payout if we charge people. Our club has full control over what to do with our fundraiser earnings, and considering that nasty fine you just paid, it’d be a good prospect for you.”Bookmark here

This time, the woman’s laugh was genuine. “Wow, aren’t you just a devious little devil?” Her own wry smirk stretched on her face as she held Rover with her gaze.Bookmark here

“Maybe I am.” Rover gulped the rest of his tea, tilting the dainty teacup upside down to get the last drop. “Hey…this tea is really good…”Bookmark here

“Dare I say it, kid, but you offer a convincing proposition on the surface.”Bookmark here

“So…does that mean you’re in?”Bookmark here

Directing her gaze at the ceiling, she replied, “It means I’ll think about it.” She clapped her hands twice, and a ruffled tuxedo shirt-wearing boy was instantly by her side. “Please see my guest here to the exit.”Bookmark here

Rover blinked, his hands growing clammy. “Uhh…y-you’re kicking me out?”Bookmark here

“Yes. We are done here.”Bookmark here

“B-But we’re in the air! And we aren’t even close to my neighborhood—”Bookmark here

With a swift flick of his hand, the tuxedo shirt-boy smacked Rover with a concealed weapon: a teenager prod. The painful voltage paralyzed his entire body, and he collapsed to the hazelnut cream-toned carpet. He writhed in agony as the groomed boy fitted Rover with a parachute, dragged him to the door, kicked open the hatch, and rolled him out.Bookmark here

The freezing, howling wind was Rover’s only companion as his stomach pushed into his throat. He’d never skydived before, and his numb, uncoordinated arms flailed helplessly in search for the string to pull the parachute. However, the parachute was automatic and deployed itself after several seconds.Bookmark here

From the ground, hundreds of people noticed the descending parachute, its underside containing huge neon letters spelling out the word “ASSHOLE” for all to witness. Some curious onlookers followed the skydiver to the landing point, only to find a twitchy, teary-eyed Rover Chork dangling from a streetlamp by his defaming parachute.Bookmark here

42!42@42#42$42%42^42&42*42(42)42_42+42Bookmark here

That afternoon, Rover sat on his bed, trembling with the blanket wrapped around him. His nerves still tingled from the teenager prod, and the traumatic memories of falling from a helicopter were still fresh and vivid. Quintegrity was in the room with him, spinning in place in his desk chair.Bookmark here

“I commend you,” she told her shuddering boyfriend. “Not only did you come up with a wonderful Super Club fundraiser idea on your own, but you used it to possibly recruit Captain Pretentious to our war efforts.” The chair stopped abruptly, and she gave him an adorable smile. “I’m so proud of you!”Bookmark here

“Th-Those t-teenager p-prods suck.” Rover’s voice had a taste to it, like charred waffles and overheated computer parts.Bookmark here

“Are you feeling any better?”Bookmark here

“A little.” He cracked a bone-dry grin. “I m-might’ve gone a little too f-far with trying to get her to join us. She didn’t give a d-definite answer.”Bookmark here

Quintegrity pondered something and asked, “Do you think Captain Pretentious will be a good addition to your efforts?”Bookmark here

“Heck yeah. She has leverage—money, fame, experience. I just wish she wasn’t such a pretentious little—” He coughed and grimaced, smacking his lips. “Blech…that tasted like burnt bacon…”Bookmark here

“Hmm…” Quintegrity put her index finger to her chin, going deeper into thought. “What qualities do you think would make a great teammate in Glove Alien Fight and our efforts against our foolish overlord?”Bookmark here

“I dunno.” Rover pulled the blanket off himself and stretched.Bookmark here

“A superhero!” Adele snuck up from nowhere. “Somebody with strength, wit, and awesome abilities, like Quinn.”Bookmark here

“Get real,” Rover muttered.Bookmark here

“I’m kinda serious,” his sister told him. “I mean, Quinn’s real. She’s a genuine criminal goddess!” She chuckled, adding, “Imagine if we had another in our club like her.”Bookmark here

“We’d be way OP,” Rover said. “Well, we’re already OP as it is.”Bookmark here

Adele shrugged. “I was just throwing it out there. Honestly, the more people on our side, the better. We’re gonna need everyone we can to help with your idiotic heroics.” She turned to leave. “I’m gonna get a bowl of cereal before Dad eats the last of the Cocoa Cataracts. I swear he’s such a glutton for chocolate cereal.”Bookmark here

“Don’t waste time,” Rover told her crassly. “You need to be leveling up in Glove Alien Fight to get a Special Number.”Bookmark here

“Get off my back, Big Bro. I’m taking a short break. I don’t wanna end up being a crumbling corpse like you were when you played for days on end with no sleep.”Bookmark here

“Psht. Amateur.”Bookmark here

When Adele left, Quintegrity perked up. “Aha! I just got an idea!” Her excitement warmed the entire room, reviving some of the feeling in Rover’s numbed extremities as he kept stretching his legs over the side of the bed.Bookmark here

The boy raised an eyebrow in skepticism. “Oh yeah…? For what?”Bookmark here

“Our next party member!” she cheered, jumping in the air. “Adele’s suggestion gave me an idea. There’s only one catch…”Bookmark here

“…Please tell.”Bookmark here

Quintegrity smiled somewhat nervously. “Well…it requires me to use some of my new, experimental powers.”Bookmark here

“Don’t destroy our house, Quintegrity.”Bookmark here

“No promises!” she snorted. “Allow me to explain.”Bookmark here

“…Please explain.”Bookmark here

She began, “Remember when I said fighting that Mech Bot General would have an effect on me? I said I’d never be able to go back to the way I was.”Bookmark here

“Yeah…”Bookmark here

“Well, that’s the case.” She stood with her hands on her hips. “I am waaay more powerful and awesome than before!”Bookmark here

Rover blinked. “You are??? In what ways???”Bookmark here

“Hmm…” With a finger on her lips, she thought about it. “I’m still experimenting, but it’s hard to do when I don’t wanna flatten a house or something.” A grin spread on her lips. “But, I accidentally discovered something this morning.”Bookmark here

He was very curious. “What?”Bookmark here

“It’s a little embarrassing, though.” Hesitant and bashful, she added, “I was drinking a bunch of fizzy soda pops to drown the traumatic memories of my fight against that robot. The carbonation built up in my belly…and I burped.”Bookmark here

Rover deadpanned. “You burped…”Bookmark here

“Huuuge.” Her eyes widened as she made a circular “huge” motion with both arms. “A genuine belch.”Bookmark here

“That’s not that embarrassing.”Bookmark here

“But I sneezed and coughed at the same time. The sound was disturbing, and the sensation was disconcerting.”Bookmark here

“Uhhh…”Bookmark here

“Anyway, the force of all that expelling jumbled the boogies and grooves within my chakras…”Bookmark here

“The hell are ‘chakras’?”Bookmark here

She grinned. “And then *POOF*! A universe was born!”Bookmark here

Huh???”Bookmark here

“I didn’t know what to do! It was a Big Bang kinda thing, and I was all like, ‘Oops! I just created an alternate universe…’ and its name is ‘Hugh.’”Bookmark here

Rover gawked, unconvinced. “Bullshit.”Bookmark here

“No, it’s not!” She pouted, flailing her arms and puffing her cheeks in frustration. “It’s a result of my funk boost going haywire! Here, I’ll prove it to you!”Bookmark here

She held out her hands by her sides, palms up, channeling her awesomeness. In seconds, Rover witnessed everything distorting and bending as tingly, squiggly feelings tickled his bones.Bookmark here

“Whoa! S-Stop it! Stop!!!”Bookmark here

“Come!” She declared. “Let us venture together through a portal into the Hughniverse! Ha-ha-ha!”Bookmark here

“Nooo!”Bookmark here

Everything returned to normal (other than Rover’s pulse and blood pressure). As the boy trembled on his bed, addled and speechless, Quintegrity giggled.Bookmark here

“Right, sorry,” she said. “Now that I think about it, other people might not survive the trip.”Bookmark here


“Tee-hee!” She bonked herself on the head, poking her tongue out. “My bad…”Bookmark here

When Rover saw that the fabrics of reality had settled down, he asked, “So…what’s this have to do with a new party member? You have someone in mind to help us in Glove Alien Fight?”Bookmark here

“Yes. I’ll see if I can recreate the forces that were at work when I accidentally created the Hughniverse. I may be able to bridge the dimensional gaps between worlds, but with control this time.Bookmark here

The blood drained from Rover’s face. “I swear if you summon a demon lord or some crazy tentacle monster…”Bookmark here

“Just trust me. Trust the funk.”Bookmark here

Rover watched Quintegrity close her eyes as her hips began to sway to a beat that seemed to pulse through his head. She held her arms out, her hands and fingers moving to a musical flow that she conjured straight from the earth and the air. The groovy rhythms of her soul rode the currents of energy around the bedroom, tickling Rover’s nose and making him feel like an audience member in the front row of an awesome funk orchestra.Bookmark here

*One and two and three and four and—*Bookmark here

*One and two and three and four and—*Bookmark here

She lifted her finger and struck up a cue directed at the TV. The screen flicked on.Bookmark here

Astonished and dumbfounded, Rover experienced the uplifting swell like empowering music. His girlfriend continued making flowing, conducting motions with her hands, coaxing the static on the TV to frizzle and shimmer with her beat.Bookmark here

With one last, strenuous pull, Quintegrity yanked the static straight from the television screen. Nothing but a mass of visual noise at first, it quickly took the shape of a small animal, then popped into the real world with a groovy bass drop.Bookmark here

The boy’s eyes bugged out. His throat closed entirely.Bookmark here

There, on his bedroom floor, sat a little dog with cotton-candy fur styled into poofy fluffs the color of cherry blossoms: Magical Poodle Snickerdoodle.Bookmark here

Baffled, the dog glanced around—this was not where he just was! He gazed up at the TV screen—the interior of the bland house belonging to his trusty owner, Goober McDubious, was displayed. Snickerdoodle’s eyelids twitched, his mind fuzzy from the interdimensional travel. As a toy poodle—the smallest breed size—standing at just over twenty-five centimetres at his withers, he was just a tiny dog in a huge, foreign world.Bookmark here

WHAT THE HELL?!?” Rover thundered, hopping to his feet. “Th-That’s…that’s…”Bookmark here

“Our newest Super Club member!” Quintegrity sang. Her boisterous voice caught the clueless canine’s attention. “Not only does he fit Adele’s suggestion for a member, but he’s absolutely adorable!”Bookmark here

She knelt to give the dog his warm welcome. Snickerdoodle, frozen with terror, was witness to the grinning, gorgeous smile of a stunningly beautiful girl descending from the heavens, her expression bathed in celestial glory. She lifted him into the air by his two front paws. While being spun around, the stupefied pup was at pointblank range to receive Quintegrity’s mesmerizing magnificence.Bookmark here

The funk resonated with all life, including dogs.Bookmark here

When his paws were released, Snickerdoodle touched down on the carpet. Newfound comfort filled his entire being, the result of the girl who had summoned him from the world behind the television screen. He then trotted up to this delightful, mysterious human being, looking up at her and wagging his tail, the furry pompom on its end moving back and forth.Bookmark here

*Clang!*Bookmark here

“Holy shit.”Bookmark here

Adele stood in the doorway, the dropped bowl of cereal by her feet. As the milk soaked into the carpet with nary a care from anyone, she stared at Snickerdoodle as he magically drifted into the air, joining Quintegrity in a funky dance around the bedroom.Bookmark here

Adele’s fingers jerked from both astonishment and terror. “M-M-Magical Poodle S-Snickerdoodle?!?”Bookmark here

The Chork siblings forfeited their speech and logical thought. Bug-eyed and baffled, they could only gawk and tremble as Quintegrity and Snickerdoodle boogied around the bedroom as waves of funk filled the air and flashes of color radiated from the television screen. The disco-dancing doggy spawned his signature sunglasses out of nowhere, slipped them over his eyes, and grinned, keeping in synch to the dazzling girl’s soulful beat.Bookmark here

*******Bookmark here

<<<STATUS>>>Bookmark here

Rover… Lvl 1,003Bookmark 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… Brutal SuitBookmark here

Acc. 1… Yakuza ToolsBookmark here

Acc. 2… Heist HoovesBookmark here

<<<PERIPHERALS>>>Bookmark here

ControllerBookmark here

VR HeadsetBookmark here

<<<SPECIAL NUMBERS>>>Bookmark here

<None>Bookmark here

<<<LEGENDARY COGS>>>Bookmark here

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