Chapter 3:

Let the Party Begin!


“So, you calmed your tits yet?” the winged player asked, arms crossed, finger tapping on her elbow.

She looked at Jason with the expression of a disappointed parent, waiting for their child’s tantrum to end. She wasn’t fazed at all by the sword lodged between her breasts. Even a lucky crit only amounted to 0 DMG. She still had over 70,000 HP to go.

“Bruh don’t try and play the ‘calm’ game, you tried to kill me first!”

What annoyed him more than the fact that she jumped him was how reasonable she was. He had hoped for her to be a bit more shocked, especially after she tried pulling off her whole villain shtick.

“I tried to kill you. You can’t die. So I stopped,” her replies—curt. Her shoulders—shrugged. “You’re too weak to hurt me. Maybe you should stop too?”

He clicked his tongue, annoyed that this murder-happy lunatic was making more sense than him. Unable to retort, he kept his Wooden Sword back to where it belonged.

“So who’s this Cosmolore dude? And why should I even help you? Aren’t you the strongest player in this whole server?” his annoyance was so palpable, she could taste the salt in his words.

With a sigh, she explained, “He’s a Raid Boss. But once you knocked his HP down enough, he does this unavoidable instant kill attack. Automatic party wipe. But since you’re immortal—”

“Invincible. Immortal means I can’t age. Invincible means I can’t die.”

“Okay,, chill. Immortal, invincible, imbecile—whatever it is, we might be able to beat him once and for all.”

Jason scoffed, “Makes sense. But unlike you, I don’t have time to play games. I’m here for work.”

“Oh my, I didn’t realise you were sitting on such a high horse. Lemme guess—you some kind of streamer, influencer, content creator?”

Of all the attacks that she used so far, this was the most effective. His eyes appeared to expand twice their size, twitching in disbelief that she even dared to give him that label.

“I’m a filmmaker! A documentary filmmaker! And YOU are getting in the way of MY job!”

“Wait, are you filming me right now?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll edit out or blur your—”

Aaaand she blew him a kiss.

“The hell are you doing?!” he recoiled back in disgust.

“You can use that part as my character intro. Or would you like another take? Should I lean forwards?”

“NO!” he turned his back on her, opting to record the lava instead, “And why on earth would I want to feature you?”

“Aww don’t be like that. Everyone on the server will kill you on sight, y’know? But I’m polite enough to say hi.”

After you tried to kill me first. Jeez, I’m tired of talking. Bye,” he dismissed her as he walked the other way.

“Wait!” she called out as she teleported, appearing right in front of him, “I can help you. Everyone on the server knows me. Making your documentary will be a cinch!”

“Oh really? Everyone knows you? Even Black Hat?”

“B-B-Black Hat?”

Jason grinned. He could only take a gander as to why she shuddered at the name, but seeing her falter made him satisfied.

“Yeah. My business is with Black Hat. What? Any problem?”

“Well…you see…” she fiddled with her fingers nervously, “BH knows me, but uhh…I don’t know them. Like in a personal sense. The BH members swap around alts in the server all the time so uhh…they know everyone, but nobody knows who they are! Geddit?”

“Right. I get it. Thanks for confirming that you’re useless.”


This time, she did an acrobatic leap over Jason, landing in a T-pose in an attempt to stop him. Her [ Blink ] ability was on cooldown.

“I don’t know where or how to contact BH, but I do know how you can get them to contact you.”

“Last chance. Talk,” he was relishing the feeling of superiority perhaps a little too much.

“Aite, so hear me out. Beating Cosmolore unlocks this section of the game that no one has ever explored before. Ever. Even in the official release. Once the world discovers that Maniavolution is the only way AO players can access this hidden content—”

“—What does that have to—”

“Shush! I’m getting there. BH isn’t going to be happy if there’s an influx of new players. So if word gets out that one of the biggest secrets in gaming is finally solved…”

“...They’re gonna have a word with me.”

Jason knew how elusive Black Hat was. By doing this, he would essentially be placing a target on his head. But there was a side of him that was itching for some form of validation. Nothing great ever came out of a comfort zone, and if the best way to get noticed was to stir the hornet’s nest, so be it. The only problem was:

“Why should I trust you? You’re spawn camping Lvl 1 players. If anything, you look like you’re working for Black Hat.”

“Huh?” I’m not killing Newbloods because BH told me to…

…I’m killing them because IT’S FUN!”

Her eyes seemed to glow as she revealed her heart’s desire. Just like that top hat and plague doctor mask both sharing the same space on her head, she possesses a bizarre duality, someone who was both rational and irrational at the same time. Jason felt as if he was looking at a walking paradox.

“That’s your idea of fun? Killing new players who're trying to get into the game?”

“Don’t be such a hypocrite. Killing players, monsters, NPCs, what’s the difference? It’s just a game. I simply want to have the most fun when I’m playing. Don’t you?”


“And with you around, killing Cosmolore and exploring the hidden region will be sooo much more fun than staying here doing this—”

Dozens of black beams shot out from behind her back, cascading onto its target. Jason didn’t even realise that another newbie had just spawned in. When he finally noticed, the victim was already turned to crystal.

“I don’t know. This all feels too convenient. What if Speedrun Studios was just trolling, and beating the boss does nothing? We don’t know for certain that Black Hat will want to find me.”

“Oh they will. If the server finds out that there’s an immo—I mean, invincible guy who’s out to clear Cosmolore, all the hardcore regulars like me are gonna back you up. And whenever something big happens in the server, BH is going to be there watching. But I want front row seats, you hear?”

“I can party with other players and defeat Cosmolore just fine. Why must I party with you?”

“You can’t. Because I would’ve killed them. So you either let me in your party or no one goes in.”

Jason audibly facepalmed. She had the skills and the spunk to back up her claim. All things considered, she was probably a Raid Boss in her own right.

“And besides,” she continued, “You’re still weak to status ailments. Once you get past the lava, there’s a whole circus full of endgame mobs. Even though they can’t kill you, they’ll be more than happy to make your life a living hell.”

Damn it.

He had wanted to get rid of her, but the undertaking was treading into Sisyphean territory. Teaming up with her made the most sense, but she was mad! What if it was contagious?

“Argh fine! I’ll help you kill the Raid Boss and you’ll help me find Black Hat. After that, we’re done!”

“Pleasure doing business with you.”

She offered her hand out to him. For the third time today, he accepted. With this handshake, a new party dawned on the lawless server that was Maniavolution.

“The name’s SakurAlice, but I’ll give you permission to call me Alice.”

“Json Null.”

“Wait, that’s your username?”


“God, it’s so stupid it wrapped around the world and became genius! No wonder you can’t die!”

It was her turn to facepalm, but Jason wasn’t sure if he just got a compliment or an insult.

“What has my username got to do with it?”

“It’s a programming thing. I’m willing to bet that “JSON” and “null” are messing up how the game’s code sees your character. Holy cow, I haven’t found an exploit this exciting in ages! How’d you come up with something so damn smart?!”

“It’s…the name of my channel.”


“My…MP4Everyone channel,” he mumbled weakly.

“So you ARE a content creator! And here I was thinking you’re some hotshot director.”

“Shut up. I don’t make content. I make art.”

“But you still need views, right?”



“Yes, I need money, okay?! Are you happy now?”

“Oh wow, 20,104 subs. You’re legit. I guess?”

“Did you just search me up?”

“Can’t have party members lying dead or lying through their teeth. Trust is important, no?”

His face nestled into his cupped hands, defeated. The shame was akin to someone reading your diary without permission.

“Aww, don’t feel bad. There, I made it 20,105 subs. Yay congrats!”

“Just kill me now.”

“I can’t.”