Chapter 71:

Summoning City

Red-Black Course

“Initiate the ABC!” Mike shouted the command, and soon enough, a robotic voice from inside the walls replied. However, the exact words it sounded were not the same as usual:

“Command registered. Initiating Aoba’s Battle Circuit…”

Once he realized there was something wrong, Mike’s smile soon disappeared, as now a cold sweat poured on his forehead.

“… Battle Circuit? Isn’t it supposed to be Betting Circle?”

Glancing to the side only to see Lewis showing the same confused look at himself, while Zain from afar could only reply which a shrug, the shadow of doubt within Mike only grew bigger by the second.

It was already enough proof that something went amiss, but the crazed laugh coming from the black-haired girl was like adding fuel to the flames:

“Ahahaha! You fool! You forgot to implement the safety lock!”

“… Safety lock?” The more he knew, the more panicked Mike became.

“It’s a safety mechanism to prevent violent acts and bets from happening, idiot! Without it, the ABC is no different from a virtual arena, where fights to the death are still present! And naturally, we bet our lives!”

Once Mirai’s words were uttered, there was no taking back. The robotic voice, upon hearing the declaration, continued:

“Stakes acquired… Challenging side, please pick a theme of contest…”

“W-Wait!” Shouted Mike. “Shouldn’t bets be agreed upon by both sides? We haven’t had anything to say about it!”

“Sorry to burst your bubble,” Yusei continued. “But that’s also part of the safety mechanism. Normally, with fair contests, bets have to be equivalent in value. But without it, anything goes. It’s why the Battle Circuit was supposed to be a prototype never meant to be deployed… who gave you that code?”

Mike, at the moment, was truly afraid. He thought he had been able to help his friends, but instead, he was just delaying the inevitable.


Before he could say any further, Zain had already sounded for him. “The theme is NLS!”

Turning to a still distraught Mike, the young man continued with a grin. “Don’t worry, you did the right thing. Now we get to have another chance at taking back our lives, that’s all.”

Zain’s words gave the boy the courage he needed, as his dejected face soon turned into a smile to follow along.

“You’re right! This is still our chance!” Mike continued. “We’ve picked the theme, you hear me, automated system?”

“Command accepted… setting theme as ‘NLS’… begin the transferring process…”

A flash engulfed the entire room, sending the six people inside into a deep abyss. When they came to, the pitch-black void still hadn’t let them go, and the only things they could see were one another, and a small holographic list of challenges, as per the NLS theme suggested.

Yusei was the first to approach the list. Swiping through his choices, the young man continued. “Since the challengers choose the theme, we will choose the game, as per ABC rules.”

“Of course,” nodded Mike. “What are we playing then?”

Yusei paused for a moment, his eyes still shifting up and down to see exactly what he could do. After a while, his fingers finally stopped as the hologram grew large enough for everyone to see, thanks to his push of a button.

“I choose… this! Summoning City!”

“… Huh?” Mike exclaimed in both shock and confusion. “Are you sure you want to choose that?”

“Even if I’m not, you can’t undo the decision, right? Then don’t pay attention.”

“Well… you have a point, I guess…”

“Then it’s settled,” Yusei clicked on the screen, before giving out a condescending grin as his body slowly dissolved into data. “Try not to die too early.”

Before Mike or Zain could react, both also realized that their bodies were experiencing the same thing, and it was the same for everyone else. As the last person disappeared from the black void, bits and bits of data started to converge, building around themselves to construct an entirely new scenery.

When Zain came to, he was already standing in a dark alleyway of a certain city landscape. Not waiting for the young man to even ask himself, in the center space of the city, a giant screen appeared, and along with it was the same voice from the automated system:

“Welcome, one and all, to today’s main event, Summoning City! Don’t bother asking who I am, for I’m just a pre-recorded message from the developers, in case some dumb-dumbs decided to try this game without knowing any of the rules! Yes, you! I mean you specifically!”

The snide remark caused two people to grumble in anger – Zain on one end, and Lewis on another end of the city.

The voice, of course, didn’t know that. And so, it continued its intended job of explanation and commentary.

“Now listen up, noobs! Summoning City is a complex multiplayer online battle arena. That’s right, it’s a MOBA! And what does that mean?

Why, it means that currently, this entire city will be our playing field, of course!

The game can be played as a team-based competition or a complete free-for-all! However, in this specific case, it will be a team game of… these players here!”

As the words echoed through the city, a giant screen popped up once more, revealing the players. On the blue side were Zain and Mike, while on the red side were the others – Yusei, Lewis, Mirai, and Hanabi.

“And since this is a team-based game, your objective is to wipe everyone on the opponent’s side! Simple, right? Well yes, but actually no! Because if it was that simple, then the developers should just ditch the name and make a fighting ring, right?

Here’s the true kicker of Summoning City: well, if you have half a decent brain, you’d know that it’s in the name itself! But what do you summon, you may ask?

Three types of summoning can be used in this game! They are Weapons, which are the only items you can use to deal damage to other players, each with their own strengths and weaknesses; Boosts, which are enchantments on yourself to gain some nice stats for both offense and defense; and finally Traps, which are just what they are – various booby traps that you can set up at anywhere once you’ve summoned them to get in your opponent’s way!”

On the screen, the teams disappeared, while taking their place were three icons of different-colored dice.

“Scattered across this playing field are these – Summoning Dice! Each color represents a different type of summoning – red for Traps, green for Boosts, and blue for Weapons! Meanwhile, on the dice is only one value. This value will decide how strong the summoning effect is. As with normal dice, the values range from 1 to 6 – make sure to get the best summoning to aid you in beating your opponents!”

Thinking that it was everything he needed, Zain attempted to leave the alleyway. As he was about to take a step, however, the young man noticed something strange hovering near his feet – a hologram of three hearts.

“Speaking of which,” the voice on the screen continued. “Each of you will have three hearts, representing your life. Once your three hearts are depleted, you’re wiped! And to make it more interesting, any attacks from a Weapon-wielded player, with or without Boosts, will deplete a heart, so don’t think about blocking normally! Either dodge or get a Boost that can block attacks!

And that’s everything to know about Summoning City! Now, players, on your mark…

Get set…


Zain quickly dashed out of the alleyway into the crowded streets. Though it was virtual, the random people walking about were as real as they could get, just minus the angered shouts and grunting whenever the young man would accidentally bump into one of them. These fake pedestrians were here as NPCs and obstacles to him and the others, as well as to make a natural disguise for them – to hide a leaf, hide in a forest. Zain knew of this too, and so, he deliberately chose to emerge into the street, even if it was a lot more difficult to maneuver around.

The young man glanced all over, trying to find whatever suspicious enough as a clue. At that moment, Zain also realized another use of the sea of people. With NPCs blocking his way like this, finding a small object like a die would be immensely more difficult.

Seeing this, Zain stopped moving to think. Do I need to find a die right away? Or is it better to rendezvous with my team first?

Both options had their advantages and demerits. On one hand, a player would be able to equip themselves more if they chose to find the dice first. On the other hand, meeting up with teammates meant that they’d have strength in numbers and a better laid-out strategy. Zain figured that either would be good for him since Mike would certainly be the best tactician among the six players. However, finding a person in this crowded field was not much different from finding a small object, and so, Zain decided to keep going in search of both, and whatever he met first would be his intended strategy.

Unfortunately for Zain, things wouldn’t go according to his plan. After a few minutes of searching around, he had the rotten luck to run into the one person that was the hardest for him to deal with.

“Of all people, it had to be you…”


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