Chess Move: Overprotection- Choosing to protect one area relentlessly, bolstering its defenses more than necessary. Usually used to push opponents to make faulty or self-destructive plans.
“Heya,” she smiled, talking past the cigarette. “So, I’ve been watching you, and I see you’ve gathered three other people. I want to join your group too!”
This just got interesting. Normally, I would have no interest in someone who would be of no help, but she works for Brother. I could use that information to my own benefit. If I survive the game, then I would probably want to take down Brother, even if it kills me along the way. After all, that horrendous company is the cause of all this.
I couldn’t let her know my true intentions, so I kept my gaze away from the emblem and directed it straight at her eyes.
“Why?” I asked flatly.
“Well, you see, everyone here is such a drag. They’re all so boring, and I know that half of these guys aren’t even going to survive the first round. But you… you’re interesting. You’re a winner too. Mr. Alistois over there is right. You may have thought no one was listening in, but I was on the other side of the column. He’s right in making a bet on you. I want to join in on the bet,” she puffed out a ring of smoke after she finished, looking up at the steel roof.
Oh. So she was going to use me. I was okay with using others, but not okay with others using me so blatantly. I had no interest once again.
I began to walk away, but then she said something that interested me a lot.
“Your mother’s name was Nira Terala, and your father’s name was Daimon Grenlit. I knew both of them when I worked for Brother as a scientist. I can tell you whatever you want to know about them.”
I hesitated. That was something I didn’t expect. I could learn about my mother’s past which was unknown to me before. She had shot me down whenever I asked. I barely remembered my father, so that was something that aroused my curiosity as well. It almost made me allow her to join.
She sensed my weakness and went on, blowing another smoke ring, “I’ll also tell you whatever you want to know about the company.”
She knew that I saw the emblem and watched it. She was good. Extremely good. Now I want her.
“Fine. I’ll let you join my group. What do you go by?” I turned around and stuck out my hand.
“Teresa’s fine,” she said, while shaking my hand.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll need to go find the final member of the group,” I said, and began to walk off.
“What does she look like?” Teresa asked curiously.
“She’s Asian. Full, I think. Long black hair, has tiny cuts on her hands. Walks really lightly,” I said, remembering the details.
“Eh… I saw her. She’s there right now, by the attendants.” Teresa pointed.
“You have five minutes left,” an attendant called out.
I dashed over to her, pushing past everyone until I reached her. No one was giving me any stares anymore. They were all recruited already and busily discussing plans with their team. She didn’t seem to have one however. She was just talking to one of the attendants up there, with the same expression-less face. I reached them, panting. The time was ticking down and I needed one more player. Not just any player. That girl. For some reason, I was fixated on her. I just knew somehow, that she would be essential for the group. There would be no replacement. I tapped her shoulder and she whirled around, a dagger in her hands. It seemed to appear out of nowhere and she held it out at me to keep me away.
“You’re that boy… what do you want?” she snarled.
“Do you have a team?” I asked, holding my hands up in the air in a show of peace.
“No. I don’t plan to join one. I’m going to win this by myself, for myself,” she replied, waving her dagger.
The attendant stepped in between us.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Li-Ying, but you will need a team. Otherwise, you will be disqualified,” he bowed to her.
Finally, her face showed some emotion: shock, reluctance, anger.
She turned her dagger down on him, and cried, “Why were the participants not informed of this!?”
“Those rules should have been obvious. If they were not, we sincerely apologize. However, you now have one minute to join a party. Otherwise, you will need to wait for the other countries to finish their own recruitment and join the leftover team. You will have a late start into the game as well.”
She spluttered, “O-one minute?”
The attendant kept his eyes downwards, “Yes, one minute. Might I suggest the young boy before you? Otherwise, you might not have the opportunity to join anyone else.”
She seemed to contemplate the choice. Get a late start into the game with a ragtag team just thrown together, or get a team that seems to have carefully selected members. The choice was obvious.
“I request to join your team, Noah Grenlit,” she grimaced.
“I accept!” I nodded tersely, knowing that time was already running out.
“Time is over! Everyone must cease talking and moving. No one else may be recruited,” the attendant shouted, just mere seconds after I accepted her request.
“We have been watching and keeping track of the people recruited and the people left over. So far, all teams have managed to gain an addition five members besides the leader. The leftover participants will remain here until further instructed. We will now announce the team formations.” The attendant stuck out his hand and another put a list on it. He listed off all the names that were in teams and all the people listed stood and walked to the front with the attendants.
“Noah Grenlit’s team consists of himself, Teresa Ravenheart, Alistois Ambroid, Lai Li-Ying, Nonnith and Ataraxia Geminio. This is the final group. Members, please remain up here.”
I stood up, with Teresa on my right, and Nonnith on my left. All the members of my group took curious glances at each other, with me being the only exception. I watched the attendants carefully, as they gestured and whispered among one another. One of them pointed to a large steel gate fifty feet ahead. Finally, one attendant came up.
“All of you will now be staying with your team for the rest of the game. There are a few rules we must go over before we begin. First, take these badges.” The attendants walked around, handing badges with names emblazed on them. I was handed mine. It had jewels sparkling all around it and seemed to be made of solid gold! And they gave these to everyone!? I could see the other participants looking hungrily at each of their badges.
“This is your ‘wish’ token. To get your own wish, you must return your own badge to an attendant after the game ends. However, you must be part of the winning teams. There is one more way to gain a wish. You may gain a wish if you have a team leader’s badge. The leader must be in the winning team as well. If you do have a winning team leader’s badge, you can exchange it for their wish, regardless of whether you won or lost. Players may gain more than one wish. Each team must have all seven keys to advance to the finale round. From there, only two teams will achieve victory. We will pass out your pagers after this first round. Please, follow me inside here,” the attendant pushed a button besides the large gate, and it creaked open slowly.
She led us into an extremely high-tech room. When I say extremely high-tech, I mean EXTREMELY high-tech. There were Dream Spinners all around the place. Seemed like one per person. Let me explain, a Dream Spinner is a device that was designed to throw people into dreams that they made themselves. Anything could happen in that world, and the amazing part is, no matter how frightening or dangerous the dream is, you take no damage, physical or mental. They were shaped like beds, with a large steel covering that swung upwards in order to reveal a fuzzy interior with buttons all around the walls covering the inside. All of them seemed to be connected to one large computer. That means we would be going to a virtual world. This round didn’t seem really dangerous, but that aspect probably only belonged to this continent’s round.
The attendant stopped at the computer and turned back toward us and said, “Before we enter the first round, everyone should know what these are,” she gestured at the large Dream Spinners. “These are Dream Spinners. They send people into a comatose state in order to push them into the dreams of their choosing. Normally, these machines are designed not to inflict mental or physical harm. However, we have adjusted them. If you die in this round, you are sent into a vegetative state.”
Everyone started muttering to each other. Only my team and Lilly’s team said nothing about the new changes. This wouldn’t be good. I was wrong. This round wasn’t a safe one. I told myself that I could get through it. I could get through it. I could get through it.
The attendant clapped his hands and everyone fell quiet once more. “We will now begin the round, Mind Warfare. Leaders, choose a set of the Dream Spinners and enter in. We will start as soon as everyone is in a dream spinner.”
I walked around, looking at each set. All of them had a different emblem on the top. One of them had a fire insignia, another with the insignia of water. Each of them seemed to have their own, but other than that, the Dream Spinners were no difference. If we were to play a war game, what would the symbols represent?
“Land,” Teresa puffed out past her cigarette.
“What?” I said, startled out of my thoughts.
“These symbols probably represent land. If we’re going to play a war game, we’re most likely going to need bases. Each of the symbols shows the environment we’ll be placed in,” Teresa explained. Of course… the environment! I should have known. We would need a good environment. A few other people caught on as well, and began to rush past the Dream Spinners, trying to find one that would be to their advantage.
“We should go for one that has good cover. One that we can use to hide in. I don’t want to get my brother directly involved in fights,” Nonnith commented.
“Preferably the woods then. I can use my skills to the best of their abilities there,” Alistois jumped in.
“Yes, I would prefer the woods as well,” Lai mused.
“It’s settled then. We’ll go for one with the insignia of the woods, assuming there is one,” I pointed out different directions to each of my members and told them to whistle when they found one.
I went straight ahead, pushing past the bunches of people gathered around the Dream Spinners. Many of them were just haphazardly going into the closest ones. After a few seconds of result-less searching, I heard a whistle. I turned to my left and started to head that way until I ran into Ataraxia. He looked at me, pulled my sleeve, and then pointed at one of the Dream Spinners. There was a tree symbol on the cover! Nonnith, Alistois, Teresa, and finally Lai all arrived.
“Hopefully these are the woods,” Lai muttered darkly.
I said nothing and got in. I waited for a short time until I heard a voice crackle into the intercom located on the interior side of the cover as it closed down on me.
“We’ll begin the game now. First, I will be transporting everyone inside a massive dream. We’ll discuss the rules of the round there. Please get ready. Close your eyes. Relax yourselves,” one of the attendants droned.
A gas spewed out from one of the sides and floated all around me. I could feel myself drifting off to sleep… slowly... slowly… and then I was in. I opened my eyes and found myself lying on cold stone floor. Everyone else was getting up as well. We were all gathered around a large computer, much larger than the one in the previous room we were all in. This one was connected to many smaller computers. There was one computer for every team here. Finally, an attendant appeared out of nowhere, a light surrounding him and he swung his hands to the computer.
“We are now in a common dream. I will explain the rules of this round. Each team is located in certain large areas. There are eleven areas in total, with three teams located in each area. Those areas will be your home environments. To win, you must all try to get to this base and enter in a password of your choosing. Conversely, if an opposing team manages to get your password and enters it into the computer over there,” he directed our attention to a small black computer, “that team will gain an advantage after this round and will also force you out of this game.”
“There are a few other ways to be forced out of this game. Each team will be given two team emblems with their team leader’s name written on the back. If you lose both of these emblems, then you lose the game. In order to obtain opponent emblems, you must first declare war. If you do not declare war, you may not take opponents’ emblems. If you lose the war, meaning the opponent is completely eliminated, or the person concedes, then you get the emblem. Along with the password needed for the computer, you will also put in two emblems besides your own. The computer will recognize your password and your emblem, so do not attempt to place the emblems you started out with inside the machine. When you answer both your own password AND enter two emblems, then you win this round and pass on. Your emblems will be waiting for you in your bases.”
“There is one more additional information that we, the attendants, will have to announce. Lago, please take over,” the attendant stepped off and another attendant with a different mask stepped on. He was holding a remote of some sort and was pointing it at the super computer.
“The last thing we have to tell you is that leaders will get one power during this game. You choose from this super computer. We will call you up, one by one, randomly, for you to tell us the power you want. To use the power, all you need do is think about using it. This is based on luck of the draw, and nothing else. If you choose a power someone else has already decided upon, you will be told to choose another. Lastly, one more thing. If your opponent discovers the power you have, the person will be granted that same ability for one hour of their choosing. So, try not to let anyone discover the power you have. You may not use your powers until the game starts. Now, direct your attention to the screen, where there will be thirty-four powers. One will be left over and we will reveal that power for your benefit.”
He clicked a button and the screen burst forward, with squares all on it. I began to look at it quickly, taking in all the powers. Hypnosis, water control, fire control, illusions, teleportation, and many others. A plan began to form in my head. Keeping your power to yourself would be paramount to the game. One hour of the opponent’s choosing? They could come back in that amount of time! As I looked at the powers, I realized that some of them were marked with numbers. Illusion was marked with three, hypnosis was marked with five. Half of them had numbers while the other half did not. I assumed that the numbers would be the times that the power could be used. I already decided on my power. Illusion. It had the least usages of all the powers, but I already had a plan. After ten more seconds, the attendant called out for us to stop.
“Now, we will call the leaders up, one by one. Hopefully you get the powers you want. Lilly Hua.”
She made her way up to the stage and whispered something into the attendant’s ear. He nodded and made a note on the computer in front of him. The screen did not change.
Mia came up and whispered something into the attendants’ ear as well. I began to worry. If any of them chose my powers, I didn’t have a backup ready. I looked up at the screen again. No, there was nothing that would help me have an assured victory besides Illusion! After three more people were called, my name was finally announced. I was lucky five people had only gone before me.
I went up and muttered to him while looking down, in case anyone could read lips, “Illusion.” I then waited with baited breath for his answer. Please, please, please let nobody have chosen that already! He marked the computer and nodded. Yes! I went back down and began to wait for all the people to be called up. After another five people passed, there were a lot of “Choose again” answers from the attendant. Finally, after what seemed like hours, the leaders had chosen their powers.
“The game begins when you enter the teleportation capsules to your left,” the attendant pointed. We looked over and saw pads with base emblems emblazed on them.
“Choose the pad that had your Dream Spinner’s emblem on it. Any of them, as long as no other team is already using it. We will now show the power not chosen.”
I quickly walked over to the pad with a tree emblem on it, trying not to draw attention. My team shot me glances and attempted to follow, but I held a hand to signal them to stop. Right before he showed the power, my foot touched the pad and I looked at the screen. One usage of Illusion was down. I only had two more usages left. No one noticed me step on the pad. Hopefully. The screen turned dark and then turned white, with only one dark square on it. It was the power of Illusion. I made it so that the remaining power was Illusion so nobody would be able to guess it.
I heard a few mutterings. “Wait!” one person called out. It was James Attarky. He went up to the attendant a few people after me.
“But I chose that power!” Attarky complained. The attendant said nothing, but I could see him glance at me quickly, just once. I walked away from the pad and made my way back to my team. Thankfully, everyone was focused on Attarky so they didn’t notice me.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Attarky. The computer must have malfunctioned when I told you to choose again so I did not realize Illusion was still open. That, or someone used their power in order to make it look like Illusion was on the screen. There are a few powers that could do that. However, the game has not started for anyone,” he nodded at James and pointed at the pads. No one was near them. Only my team had saw me make my way to the pads.
“So, because of this, it’s very likely that the computer malfunctioned. I apologize for my possible mistake, Mr. Attarky. Hopefully, your secondary ability will be sufficient.”
He said nothing and backed down. There was no victory in that situation for him. I smirked to myself. Teresa was looking at me. It was an emotionless glance, as if she were analyzing a lab specimen. She knew what I had done, as did my other teammates. She was the only one looking at me though. The others were focused on the attendant.
“Now. We will start the game. We look forward to congratulating the victors. Good luck.”