Volume 14, Chapter 43: Just Your Standard Fair

Tuesday Summer Quarter 2016 Week 5

“That character didn’t work for me, Long. Her route sucked. Cute design but s*** execution,” Kuan chatted with Zhuyu as we prepared for our mission.

I couldn’t hear Zhuyu’s response since they spoke on a private channel. Whatever, their discussion didn’t interest me. I checked out the broadcast booth while waiting. This was really high up. There were multiple monitors and an entire control console containing switches and sliders. There was a notebook on one of the nearby chairs. Huh, meticulous notes on battles. I checked for a name and noticed the handwriting varied from page to page. Must be a shared notebook between whoever was doing commentary.

So this was it felt like for the people narrating all the action I saw in the archived battle videos. Pretty cool. I wouldn’t mind giving it a try sometime. I glanced downward and noticed Yui and Champ entering through the tunnel. I exited the broadcast booth and headed back down. Kuan and I filled them in about the details of Kuan’s seal.

“You think it’ll be hard to crack?” Champ questioned.

“No idea. I’ve been on a couple of these and it’s different each time,” I replied.

“Any signs of danger upon arrival?” Yui asked.

“Nothing from Tess’ reports but things can always change. Kuan, ready?” I called out to the man.

“Yep,” Kuan responded.

“Let’s get this started then,” I announced.

Dimension Tau CLV

Carnival music played in the background. A man, wearing a striped shirt, offered me a balloon. The f***? I hesitated but accepted the balloon. The man smiled at me and walked away, offering his items to a different guest. In the distance, I saw a Ferris wheel and roller coaster tracks.

“Not the weirdest place I’ve been to,” Kuan commented, putting away his gun.

“You were gonna shoot him?” I waved my balloon around.

“Can’t trust anything in a new place,” Kuan confirmed.

“I haven’t been to an amusement park in forever.” Champ’s face lit up with excitement.

“Not even with Yuka?” I followed Kuan.

“I’ve only taken her to a fair before, nothing like this,” Champ responded.

“Zhuyu, you there?” I contacted the zero vector user.

“Yep, I’ve got visuals. Pretty interesting place and big too,” Zhuyu responded.

“We’ll split up. Kuan, you’re with me. See any good spots we can meet up at later?” I asked everyone.

“How about that statue? Long, is the shared channel working okay?” the man questioned.

“Everything’s fine,” Zhuyu confirmed.

Yui and Champ headed toward the rides. Kuan and I inspected the nearby booths.

“You think the seal might be hidden as one of the games?” I observed a ring toss game.

“Might be. Let’s find out,” Kuan answered. “Yuki, something’s weird.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“It’s all kids here. No adults at all,” Kuan pointed out.

We passed by more booths and arrived at a haunted house. No one stood outside the entrance. I opened up my grimoire and checked the magic levels.

“Magic levels are very low. But, something’s off. We should check it out,” I decided.

Ominous music played once we entered. Flashing red eyes appeared around us and the sound of fluttering wings grew louder. Kuan walked over to a skeleton hanging from the ceiling. All of a sudden, the skeleton lunged toward the man. The hero shook his head and poked the prop. The skeleton scooted back to its original position.

Walking further along, I heard the revving of a chainsaw. Classic. Eventually, we came face to face with a masked person wielding a chainsaw. Without warning, the person charged at Kuan and aimed for his head. The hero pulled out his gun and shot the assailant’s arm. It didn’t impact them at all and they continued targeting him. I fired off an electric bolt and the chainsaw sputtered. Kuan fired off two shots, one hitting their leg and the other their hand. I created spinning electric balls and my attacks collapsed in on the opponent. Kuan switched to a shotgun, firing off three explosive shots at the man’s legs. Our attacks knocked them to the ground and they didn’t move.

“Zhuyu, you there?” I called out.

“Yeah, you made the right choice to check the place out,” the man replied.

Kuan removed their mask to reveal an unconscious man with short hair. I searched his body but found nothing useful.

“Someone was controlling him with the mask,” Kuan reported.

“This again?” I responded.

I updated Yui and Champ about our encounter with the masked assailant. Yui let me know they hadn’t found anything and were still investigating the food stalls.

The rest of the haunted house was uneventful. After exiting, we were near the meeting spot. Memoria and Champ arrived twenty minutes later and we exchanged information.

“Check this out.” Kuan ripped off a piece of paper taped to a nearby wall.

In bold letters, it advertised a paint gun competition. The prize was a replica of a famous gun.

“This has to be it, right?” I glanced at Kuan.

“There’s a catch for entering though,” he pointed at the fine print.

A prerequisite was going on at least ten rides and collecting stamps from each of them.

“Only one of us has to go and get the stamps,” Kuan tapped the the second paragraph of the instructions.

“Oh, oh! Let me do it!” Champ volunteered.

“We’ll see what else we can find while you do that,” I decided.

Champ scampered towards the roller coaster. Maybe I should get Yuka and Champ tickets for a carnival or amusement park as a present. I found a nearby information booth and asked for more details about the paint gun competition. I learned this was the tenth iteration of the event and the prizes were different for each one. The replica gun was special since they hired someone from outside of the dimension to work on it.

“Zhuyu, you think the prize might be an Artifact?” I inquired.

“Sounds like it, could be what Kuan needs,” Zhuyu answered.

Champ finally returned and showed us all his stamps. We headed towards the registration desk and signed up. We were provided with all the equipment and a rule book. Everyone changed into their equipment, ready to win this thing.

“Welcome! This year, we have a very special prize. It is a full replica and let me stress, functional, model. It was featured in one of the top ten grossing movies of this century, used in the final battle between the crew of….” the MC launched into a long tangent about the production and cultural history of the firearm.

“Kuan, where’s our starting point?” I questioned.

“Near the Ferris wheel,” he responded.

At our base camp, there was a large tent containing table, chairs, and miscellaneous boxes scattered across the floor. Kuan opened up the boxes and distributed the supplies to all of us.

“Those are rations. Spare bullets and parts to fix up your weapon in case anything breaks,” Kuan explained, pointing at the items.

“There’s a beep when someone not on your team is near you.” I skimmed the manual.

“That’s what these are for.” Kuan tapped the silver bracelet on his wrist.

“How do you tell if you’re out of the game?” Champ questioned.

“The bracelet detects shots. This will turn red when you get hit,” Kuan replied.

We discussed tactics for eliminating the other teams and how to split up. Kuan would snipe and also scout. Someone would accompany him, covering the hero in case he was compromised.

“Champ, you’ve never used something like this before, right?” Kuan questioned Yuka’s boyfriend as we wrapped up the planning stages.

“I don’t have any firearms training,” Champ confirmed.

“You’ll be bait when I need to lure someone out,” Kuan decided.

Champ was okay at dodging so it wasn’t the worst use of him. Going through one more check, we all separated and headed to our positions. As I approached the teacup ride, I heard a loud commotion.

“Kuan, I hear people throwing punches. I’m going to check it out,” I informed him.

“Might be a trap. I’ll cover you,” Kuan decided.

I inched closer and saw two unconscious men. They were stripped of their equipment and weapons.

“Kuan, you seeing this?” I whispered.

“Yeah, there’s blood too,” Kuan replied.

“Should I go in for a closer look?” I asked.

“I have you covered. Go for it,” Kuan encouraged.

They were still alive at least. A gunshot rang out behind me and I spun around. A man, wearing a ski mask, fell to the ground.

“This is an actual battlefield now. Magic levels are rising too. Yuki, don’t hold back,” Kuan directed.

I inspected the sharp knife near the man Kuan took out. Blood was on the blade. I froze the man’s hands and legs. I also added a layer of electricity to shock him if he broke free.

“Ahem, testing…. one, two, three! For all the dweebs out there, this isn’t a paintball game anymore. It’s a real fight now, baby! You might as well surrender now to avoid the hurt that’s coming!” An unfamiliar voice blared through the speakers located throughout the area.

“Zhuyu, any idea of what’s going on?” I asked him.

“Not really. Kuan, you have a plan?” the math major responded.

“Let’s just play along. Should be easy to take care of them if we can use our powers now, right?” Kuan answered.

“If we’re dealing with amateurs, yeah. You have Yuki with you so I’m not too worried. I’ll try to find more information,” Zhuyu said.

If our enemies weren’t going to play by the rules, I didn’t have to either.

“Are you able to detect the enemy location?” I asked the zero vector user.

“I’ll try using one of Tess’ programs,” Zhuyu replied.

Of course Tess designed a program for this situation.

“I’m transferring the data over to everyone now,” Zhuyu said.

There was already someone near me. After I cut through the food court, the enemy was only a few feet away.

“Behind the counter!” Zhuyu informed me.

I applied a thin layer of ice magic onto the floor. Would that be enough? Might as well put more stuff down. I checked my bracelet and saw it flash. Someone, wearing combat goggles and a helmet, leaped out and fired at me. I blocked the bullets with an ice wall and triggered my trap. The enemy slipped and flames engulfed their body. Sparks of electricity pinned them to the ground as icicles crashed down into their body.

“Why the hell do you want that gun so badly?” I fired a paralysis arrow into their arm.

“What kind of fuckin’ machine are you? You’re not from here, using all this fancy magic,” they uttered.

“Just answer the damn question.” I shoved their face into the ground.

“It’s a freakin Artifact! That’s what Boss said. You won’t take him down,” they answered.

Great, nothing useful. I grabbed rope from a nearby supply room, tied them up, and dangled them from the ceiling. I set an electric shock to run every thirty seconds, enough to cause discomfort, but not enough to cause permanent damage.

“Zhuyu, who’s the closest person to me?” I questioned.

“Somewhere around the Ferris wheel,” Zhuyu answered.

“Someone’s at the top!” Kuan informed me when I arrived at the ride.

I rolled to my left as bullets flew at me. Another round of shots rang out but I wasn’t their target.

“Give me time, I haven’t found their location yet,” Kuan requested.

I inched closer and caught sight of the person firing at me. They swung from compartment to compartment, evading Kuan’s shots. I applied a layer of ice onto the Ferris wheel pods and the enemy lost their footing.

“Got him!” Kuan reported.

I dashed over, caught our adversary, and disarmed them. Trapping them in a paralysis circle, I started my interrogation.

“I’m not saying anything.” The man glared at me.

“Putting him to sleep,” Kuan decided.

I stepped away and Kuan’s tranquilizer shot struck the enemy’s right arm. I dispelled the paralysis circle and chained them to the bottom Ferris wheel pod. How many members of this team were remaining?

“Champ, Memoria, check in.” I followed the only remaining signal on the map.

“Close to where you are. I’ll…,” Champ cut off.

I arrived at a horse stable. Around the animal exhibit, huh? I heard static through my communicator. There was a sharp crack and the stable fence behind me shattered. I protected myself with a reflective shield as bullets flew at me.

“The game ends here. I’ve taken out your allies,” a booming voice declared.

All of a sudden, Kuan dropped down from a hole in the ceiling. There was a gash across his left cheek, blood dripping down from his wound. The man grasped his left shoulder with a grimace.

“I lost contact with you there for a little bit. Long, you there?” Kuan tapped his earpiece.

I expanded my shield, protecting him from further attacks. The bullets bounced off, striking against each other with a clink. I glanced upward, making sure no one else suddenly showed up.

“Broken shoulder?” I questioned.

“Might have dislocated it when I fought that big guy. S***, didn’t think he throw me into the damn carousel,” Kuan answered.

“Finally got through. What’s your status?” Zhuyu’s voice broke through the static.

“Bad. Kuan might have a dislocated shoulder and we’re fighting against a hidden enemy,” I updated him on our situation.

“Guessing Memoria and Champ are down?” Zhuyu predicted.

“Yeah. Kuan, any idea how to stop this guy?” I questioned.

“This should work.” Kuan stared at the bullets striking my protective barrier.

I noticed the incoming bullets hitting the same location each time. Kuan grinned and dashed off. One minute later, a man with a red bandanna tackled Kuan through a nearby wall. The hero gave me a reassuring look. The red bandanna wearing man punched the ground in the same spot each time, missing Kuan’s head. Same thing again, huh?
Kuan pointed his gun at the man’s leg. The enemy slumped to the floor after the hero fired two shots. He fired another shot at the ceiling and multiple beams fell onto the enemy, trapping him underneath it.

“Is it over?” I glanced over at Kuan.

“Maybe.” Kuan shrugged.

I heard a beeping and our bracelets fell off. Kuan returned five minutes later, pulling a cart containing Champ and Memoria. They weren’t too beat up, just unconscious.

“There’s still more to do.” Tess suddenly appeared next to me.

“So, what next?” I questioned.

“Receive the prize and I’ll determine the next steps. Yuki, you are free to leave. You have fulfilled your role for this mission,” Tess answered.

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