Chapter 50:

Vol. 2, Ch. 25: Magical & Out of this World

The Integrity of the Super Club [Beta version]

According to Skater Girl’s interpretation of the Glove Alien Fight coding, she made sure her match against Wildebeest Squittoo would be a Strongest Hero match. Only the competitors could see the gold rings in a Ring Finder game, and spectators could do next to nothing during a Deathmatch game. For Rover and his comrades, it was in their best interest to take advantage of their sizable support team by scouting for virtual enemies.Bookmark here

However, Quintegrity chose not to partake in this match. While it was for the best, it also meant they were missing their most valuable member.Bookmark here

In the Finuzhai District located in Northish Thugwood, Rover sat on top of the Soil Gladiators Headquarters building, trying to stay hidden from anyone and everyone. The low growls of the Thugforce Militia chopper were still audible from two blocks away as he crawled into a nook among several ventilation ducts. It was a good hiding place—out of the sun, concealed from above and all directions.Bookmark here

We’ll have to step it up without Quintegrity here, he thought.Bookmark here

With the VR headset on, he synched it to his phone and controller, then booted up Glove Alien Fight.Bookmark here

“R here. I’m in position,” he said into his communication earpiece. “I’m projecting my avatar into the AR environment now.”Bookmark here

“Must be nice to hide and not move,” Adele sighed through the broadcast. “The rest of us gotta put ourselves out there.”Bookmark here

“Gwa-har-har!” Graphite’s annoying guffaws filled everyone’s ears. “I ain’t putting myself out there. I have a VR headset, too!”Bookmark here

Tallyhawk’s voice came through the communicators. “Just make sure ya found a good spot, G.”Bookmark here

“No worries, T. I’m a master at hiding.” Graphite’s snooty smirk was practically oozing through the earpieces.Bookmark here

“Cowardly tactics are your strength, eh, G?” Rover snickered.Bookmark here

“Shove it, R.”Bookmark here

Rover pulled his visor over his eyes, putting his perspective behind his AR character. He leaned back, getting comfortable in his little nook.Bookmark here

Quintegrity and I are the only ones who really need to hide. The others only run the risk of being heckled while they provide support for the match. If I get noticed, people will definitely try screwing with me, and if the Thugforce Militia and Cohort Squadron know I’m here… Well, the less they know about what I’m doing, the better…although they probably have their suspicions already.Bookmark here

He gripped his game controller, cracking a sneer.Bookmark here

Still, I’ve made up my mind. I’ll face the T.G.E. headfirst to lift the gameplay mandate…and be there for Quintegrity… I’m so happy she’s staying out of this match.Bookmark here

*Whooooosh!*Bookmark here

“Man,” Rover muttered, having his avatar shimmy down a rain gutter, “it’s windy today.”Bookmark here

“…Is it?” Lumpy asked. “Probably where you are, R.”Bookmark here

“SG,” Rover said into the communicator earpiece, “what’s the situation?”Bookmark here

“Wildebeest just arrived,” Skater Girl answered. “Jeez, this dude is huge! He’s a bigger meathead than MH. No offense, MH.”Bookmark here

“Whatever,” Isho grunted. “My codename says it all.”Bookmark here

“For real,” Hodge chuckled, peering over the rooftop he occupied and sneaking a peek at Wildebeest. “I don’t even need my telescope to see that dude from where I am.”Bookmark here

The competitors met in a small, one-block park in the Finuzhai District downtown area. Before the match was underway, there was some good-sport crap-talk between Skater Girl and the hulking, muscular, shirtless Wildebeest Squittoo. His long, untamed hair was beyond feral—borderline mythological, even, reaching down to his waist and protruding nearly as far in every other direction. Elaborate tribal tattoos covered every part of his skin. However, he was very eloquent and friendly, although his knack for chewing on palmaple sticks and talking with his mouth full was off-putting.Bookmark here

“A good crowd is gathering around the players,” Adele commented. She was on the roof of a public pool complex, the rooftop pool being by far the most popular and packed with families and kids. Using her magnifying holoshades, she observed the park where the match would take place. “We all need to make sure nobody knows what we’re doing because people will get ideas in the future.”Bookmark here

“I think it’s too late for that,” Graphite said, having his character perch on a ledge to get a good view with his VR perspective.Bookmark here

“Yeah,” Rover said, finding a good vantage point for his own avatar on the building adjacent to his physical hiding spot. “Lots of people already know what we’re doing. It’s all over the forums and online videos of AR matches. On top of that, we’re known as the ones who started the support team idea.” He let out a long sigh. “I never really cared about fame or notoriety much, but with…uh, certain things going on, all this attention is worrying me.”Bookmark here

*Whoooooosh!*Bookmark here

Rover caught a sudden chill. He lifted his headset visor to look around the rooftop for a few seconds, unsure of what he was looking for, and then lowered the visor. Through the VR view from behind his AR character, he fixated on the match competitors as they commenced the setup.Bookmark here

“Strongest Hero was selected,” he heard Skater Girl say.Bookmark here

The other support team members snickered and maybe said some cocky comments…but Rover didn’t really listen.Bookmark here

We’re doing the right thing, he thought, getting snug in his rooftop hiding spot among the ventilation ducts. We’re also being safe now. On top of that, we’re the freakin’ Super Club! We have awesome members and club interns now!Bookmark here

He cracked a grin and suppressed a chuckle.Bookmark here

50!50@50#50$50%50^50&50*50(50)50_50+50Bookmark here

In the airspace above the Finuzhai District, the three-light Cohort Squadron helicopter prowled under the cover of AR cloaking technology. Cohort Dukewell Maxable kicked back in the cockpit, sipping a bottle of Warzone synergy drink while manually piloting the aircraft with one hand on the controls. Next to him, Cohort Sarlis o’Okuo sorted through some photographs presented on his side of the AR holovision windshield.Bookmark here

“It’s mostly the same group here today,” the shorter Cohort told the handsome Cohort.Bookmark here

Cohort Dukewell Maxable sneered. “Of course it is. I’m certain the Dumbass hacker is among them. Well, as certain as I can be without being able to take legal action. We’re missing enough hard evidence to dole out instant de-rationalization.”Bookmark here

“Look at this,” Cohort Sarlis o’Okuo said with an amused smirk, pointing at one of the photographs. “Our favorite high schooler thinks he’s being sneaky.” He used his finger to slide the photo across the windshield to his fellow agent.Bookmark here

The handsome Cohort activated the chopper’s autopilot. Peeking over his sunglasses, he leaned toward the displayed picture taken of a nearby rooftop, and he touched the onscreen commands to toggle through the different layers of deep-soul scans in the image. An off-color, human figure was shown to be hidden inside a tight cluster of ventilation ducts on a building rooftop, captured by the helicopter’s funkovision detection. Further investigation through several other deep-soul modes revealed the person was wearing a virtual reality headset.Bookmark here

Cohort Dukewell Maxable smiled when he brought up the target’s information: Rover Chork.Bookmark here

“I’m currently tapping into the wireless devices in the area,” Cohort Sarlis o’Okuo said as he operated the Disc Jockey User Interface around him. “It’ll be easy to weed out our suspects with voice recognition filters.”Bookmark here

The handsome Cohort leaned back, swirling the contents in his synergy drink bottle and wearing a smug smirk. “They tried being covert with codenames over their communicators in the Southbound School Dungeon. It’s rather cute, kids playing secret agent.”Bookmark here

“Kids will be kids.” The shorter Cohort took a moment to filter through the thousands of wireless communications in the area. He eventually narrowed down the frequencies with all the voices matching the recordings taken from the Southbound School Dungeon the previous night. He then routed the wiretapped conversations to the speakers in the stealthy helicopter’s cockpit. “Okay, we’re in. Their ears are our ears. I’m working on tapping into their cell phones, now.”Bookmark here

As the handsome Cohort looked through the new photographs on his side of the windshield, he listened to the wiretapped conversations, hearing their scouting party plans.Bookmark here

“They’re quite coordinated,” he commented. “Teenagers can be formidable when they aren’t distracted by poor judgment and horny intentions.”Bookmark here

“You’re one to talk.”Bookmark here

“Ha-ha! Yes…I suppose you have a point.” Cohort Dukewell Maxable skimmed over the photographs again. “Not everyone from the Southbound School Dungeon last night is here.”Bookmark here

“That teacher, Vilith Orion, is absent,” Cohort Sarlis o’Okua replied, popping open his own bottle of Warzone synergy drink, emitting a chalky-candy scent from the synergizing liquid. “So is that Jones the Bones character. Most importantly, that ‘Mole Woman’ isn’t here.”Bookmark here

“Yes, the one they called ‘Q’ in the School Dungeon. Her voiceprint matched the fake Mole Woman’s. I received the feedback on my report concerning that phony.” The coldness of his coolheaded grin could freeze a grease fire. “The Records Sensei herself said the results were inconclusive—a statement she hadn’t used since the Huge Database had been implemented. In other words, our captured voiceprint of this ‘Q’ is the first on record.”Bookmark here

The shorter Cohort looked at his companion with disbelief. “The first on record?! In the entire Huge Database?!”Bookmark here

Cohort Dukewell Maxable seemed to be enjoying the mystery. “You aren’t the only one who’s intrigued.”Bookmark here

“Y-Yes…this is unprecedented. CEO Claudius knows of this by now, right?”Bookmark here

“Most likely.”Bookmark here

“Hmm.” Cohort Sarlis o’Okuo brought up the images taken the previous night at Southbound Thugwood High School. “Oh…there’s a fourth who was at the school who doesn’t seem to be here today.” Chuckling, he pointed at the toy poodle in one of the pictures with cotton candy-like fur the color of cherry blossoms.Bookmark here

Breathing a chuckle out his nose, Cohort Dukewell Maxable said, “Good work, sir. You pinpointed a key suspect.”Bookmark here

“I can see the headlines now: ‘Floofy Poodle Bests Cohort Squadron.’ Think of the bad reputation that’ll spread.”Bookmark here

The two men shared laughter drier than the northernmost deserts outside Thugwood. Taking a swig of his drink, Cohort Sarlis o’Okuo changed the holovision windshield’s display to the aircraft’s exterior cameras.Bookmark here

“That bird is still holding on,” he said with a snicker, nodding at the live footage. “The one on the underside.”Bookmark here

Cohort Dukewell Maxable laughed. “I tell ya, that is one ugly scald eagle. I’ve never seen one up close, but I didn’t think they looked that mangy. Maybe those wildlife articles and shows use doctored images to make them look better. I don’t know why we bother protecting them.”Bookmark here

“Uh, because they’re endangered.”Bookmark here

“Heh, sure.” He finished the last of his Warzone synergy drink and tossed the bottle in the vaporizing trash bin. Switching off the autopilot and clutching the steering controls in both hands, he grinned handsomely. “Let’s see if I can knock it off. We’re safe from the g-force inside our Anti-Grav environment…but our feathered friend is in for a ride.”Bookmark here

50!50@50#50$50%50^50&50*50(50)50_50+50Bookmark here

Magical Poodle Snickerdoodle clung to the underside of the Cohort Squadron helicopter, using sticky magic as the aircraft darted around the sky. He was wearing a half-convincing scald eagle suit with an orichalcum latex underlining, something Quintegrity had spent all night crafting.Bookmark here

Suddenly, the helicopter started making preposterous maneuvers exceeding sixty g-force for no apparent reason. His magic protected him from the potentially deadly force, and he was barely able to remain conscious as his brain rattled and teeth chattered from the wicked speeds, all while his spare utility collar eavesdropped on the Cohorts’ conversation.Bookmark here

50!50@50#50$50%50^50&50*50(50)50_50+50Bookmark here

In an okonomiyaki restaurant outside of the Finuzhai District, Quintegrity sat at a table, grilling her savory pancake of flavorful savagery while disguised as a very plain businesswoman in a forgettable business casual outfit. She listened in on Snickerdoodle’s captured Cohort conversation being transmitted to her earpiece.Bookmark here

As she happily flipped her concoction on the grill at her table, she recalled what Skater Girl had said before they had headed to the Finuzhai District.Bookmark here

“Quinn, I’m not done with your request to make the Poodle Network,” the punky girl had said during the quick meeting in Rover’s bedroom earlier that day, “but I discovered something. Snickerdoodle’s collar can transmit signals to any receptive device and do so without being tapped or detected by anything, including the Cohort Squadron technology. See, Cohort Squadron communicators use a sort of encryption for their wireless signals, and the devices themselves aren’t that big of a secret. However, they’re manufactured using materials and machinery normal people don’t have access to. But this dog collar is something totally different! I’m clueless as to how it works, like it’s digital telepathy or something… It truly is magical and out of this world! Only one catch, though—only the outgoing transmissions from the collar are special. Any transmissions it receives will obviously be normal signals and can be intercepted.”Bookmark here

Quintegrity giggled as she listened to the two Cohorts argue about what would win in a fight: a sasquatch with carpal tunnel, or an iguana with a Ph.D.Bookmark here

She moved her okonomiyaki from the grill to her plate. It had achieved perfection.Bookmark here

50!50@50#50$50%50^50&50*50(50)50_50+50Bookmark here

The AR match continued with Skater Girl and Wildebeest neck-and-neck the entire time. Although Skater Girl’s support team kept her informed of the type and direction of every enemy, Wildebeest had a rare weapon leveled up to the maximum: the Ancient Magus Glove Aliens.Bookmark here

“Those Glove Aliens are intense,” Rover commented as he checked the area. “They have attacks for Ice, Lightning, and Sad Elementals…all long-range with high attack power. I have them equipped right now from when I played a little this morning, but they aren’t leveled up all the way.”Bookmark here

“Well, they’re doing a lot of damage,” Skater Girl grunted, using her last Hateful Carpet Bomb available for the match. “It just so happens most of these enemies are weak to Ice, Lightning, or Sad Elemental.”Bookmark here

Suspicious, Rover said, “I found mine in our School Dungeon. How’d he get them? Did he go into the AR dungeon, too?”Bookmark here

“I think I know,” Tallyhawk said as she jogged down an alley to the next street. “Those Glove Aliens are obtainable by completing a side quest at the end of the regular game. I have them, too, because I completed that quest.”Bookmark here

Wildebeest chomped on a fresh palmaple twig (which his pockets were loaded with), and he had his character use the Ancient Magus Glove Aliens’ final ability earned from maxing them out. The spectators saw his avatar glow the colors of the weapon’s three Elementals as three summoned critters appeared around it: a Chilly Kobold with an ice sword, a Zappy Bot with stun gun fingers, and a Crying Crocodile with fake tears flowing from its eyes belying its toothy, sadistic grin.Bookmark here

“Damn!” Skater Girl’s avatar lobbed some explosive items into a wave of incoming beasts, swapped to her Stupid Glove Aliens, and then met the foes with tides of the Sadness Elemental. “His summoned things are really racking up the kills for him…and they automatically target the enemies weak to their respective Elementals!”Bookmark here

Rover spotted another horde of cretins approaching, most of them weak against Sadness damage. “Well, keep those Stupid Glove Aliens on. A bunch of Optimistic Optometrist Orcs are coming down Usagi Trail Boulevard.”Bookmark here

“Copy that!”Bookmark here

“Ignore them!” Isho said, seeing another horde from his vantage point on a second-floor balcony of a gourmet nugget parlor. “Some Sadness-absorbing Beluga Wails are coming from the south.”Bookmark here

Clenching her teeth, Skater Girl’s trembling fingers slid across her huge gaming phone’s screen. Her character took some strong hits from several enemies at once, and she barely managed to heal with some items.Bookmark here

“I’m gonna get overwhelmed like this…” she muttered.Bookmark here

Suddenly, a very manly cry came through the support teammates’ earpieces.Bookmark here

“The heck—?” Skater Girl, in her flurry of attacking and dodging, noticed her opponent was suddenly howling in pain, holding his mouth.Bookmark here

“What’s going on?” Hodge asked, turning his telescope to the competitors.Bookmark here

“Not sure,” the punky girl replied, quickly focusing back on her own fight, “but I’m guessing he got a splinter from that wood he kept chewing on.”Bookmark here

The huge, musclebound man looked like a giant toddler who had bitten a spicy wraith pepper. One of the spectators happened to be a dentist and helped remove the culprit of pain: a splinter in the roof of Wildebeest’s mouth. Long after the splinter was removed, Wildebeest blubbered and yowled as his avatar was mauled by the digital fiends. All the spectators were confused and mildly disturbed by the show.Bookmark here

The match kept going. Similar to the Ring Finder matches, the final score decided the outcome even if the players reached zero HP.Bookmark here

“He’s out!” she announced through the earpieces.Bookmark here

“All right!” Lumpy replied. “The rest of the enemies are yours!”Bookmark here

However, the punky girl’s avatar was soon swarmed with enemies without her opponent helping hold them back. She held on as long as she could, burning through her stock of consumable items without care and taking out a bunch of foes. Wildebeest continued his uncontrolled wailing.Bookmark here

“To hell with saving these items!” she yelled as the crowd cheered for her valiant gameplay. “If I lose, they’ll all be lost, anyway!”Bookmark here

Despite her efforts, she was also taken out of the match before the timer counted down, ending the game early. Nonetheless, the eruption of applause was aimed toward her, drowning out the big man’s howls. After Skater Girl confirmed the influx of items into her inventory, including Special Number 1, she slinked away from Wildebeest Squittoo with the rest of the crowd.Bookmark here

50!50@50#50$50%50^50&50*50(50)50_50+50Bookmark here

Rover, Quintegrity, Adele, and Lumpy sat on the roof outside Rover’s bedroom window, grilling yakitori on Quintegrity’s mini charcoal grill under the stars. Quintegrity was talking on the phone with Skater Girl whom called from her home.Bookmark here

“The Poodle Network is good to go, Quinn! I can drop off Snickerdoodle’s network collar first thing tomorrow, and if it works, I’ll upgrade the backup collar, too.”Bookmark here

“Sounds snazzy!” Quintegrity replied, holding the Militia-grade phone in her left hand and flipping skewers with tongs in her right. “Excellent work, Skates! Meet me in the shady alley behind Nu Clear R-Cade at five o’clock in the morning, and we can make the transaction.”Bookmark here

F-Five in the morning?!”Bookmark here

“Tootle-loo!”Bookmark here

“She finished the Poodle Network, huh?” Lumpy said, blowing on his steaming skewer. “Man…she’s incredible.”Bookmark here

Rover washed down a bite of yakitori with some Gettin’ It soda pop. “Having our own private communication network will be a huge help.”Bookmark here

“Yes,” Quintegrity said. “I’ll be able to join your AR match efforts again. Without the Cohort Squadron tapping our communication, I don’t need to worry about them sniffing my whereabouts.”Bookmark here

“Eh,” Lumpy muttered, “you should still stay hidden…but I know you won’t.”Bookmark here

“Screw the Cohort Squadron,” Adele grunted. “Stupid government spies…”Bookmark here

“While I dislike the Cohort Squadron,” Quintegrity said, flipping some skewers on the mini grill, “I cannot call them ‘stupid.’”Bookmark here

Flames shot from the coal as the tare sauce dripped from the chicken.Bookmark here

“Why do you say that?” Rover asked.Bookmark here

Not looking up from the fire, she answered, “They’re on to me. I overheard their conversation when Snickerdoodle eavesdropped on them during today’s AR match.” Her eyes met Rover’s. “Also, they know you all were there, and they suspect the Dumbass is among us.”Bookmark here

After some thick silence during which the sizzling grill and crickets were accentuated, Rover shrugged.Bookmark here

“It’s not stopping us,” he said before taking another bite of succulent chicken doused in tare sauce.Bookmark here

*******Bookmark here

<<<STATUS>>>Bookmark here

Rover… Lvl 1,010Bookmark here

AthletaCom Points… 12Bookmark here

All Money… {T}13,705Bookmark here

Allowance… {T}12,705Bookmark here

Fundraiser… {T}0Bookmark here

Food Slip… {T}1,000Bookmark here

<<<EXPENSE GOALS>>>Bookmark here

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

<<<CURRENT EQUIPMENT>>>Bookmark here

Weapon… Ancient MagusBookmark here

Armor… FASCAR ShirtBookmark here

Acc. 1… Yakuza ToolsBookmark here

Acc. 2… Heist HoovesBookmark here

<<<PERIPHERALS>>>Bookmark here

ControllerBookmark here

VR HeadsetBookmark here

<<<SPECIAL NUMBERS>>>Bookmark here

#1, #10Bookmark here

<<<LEGENDARY COGS>>>Bookmark here


Bookmark here

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