After having agreed to the little bet, all nine of them rented out a booth and headed over to the area. The people who walked by simply ignored what was going on. There were too many people in one section, it blocked outsiders from being able to see anything that was going on. Although they did find it strange that so many people were in one booth, it still wasn't interesting enough for them to actively try and find out what was happening.
Now, all that was left was to decide who from which team would go first.
"Please let me do it." Sam volunteered himself. "I know you guys don't really know who I am and just met me, but those guys just rub me the wrong way. Think of it as a freebie. You can observe for the meantime, and when I get stuck on a level it should make things easier for you guys."
Since Sam was insistent and sincere, the others found it hard to refuse his offer. In addition, Quinn liked the look of determination in his eyes.
"Sure, go ahead." Quinn responded.
They were confident that they wouldn't lose, especially against some of the other students, but against people like these that never tried to get through life with their own hard work, then no. They wouldn't allow themselves to lose to people like this.
Sam on the other hand, volunteered because he was worried that the others might humiliate themselves. He could tell by their stripes on their shoulder that they were only first years. It was most likely that they had never played a game like this before. In fact, the game was more difficult than it looked. One would have to be able to keep their concentration at their best while also multitasking. If he could beat everyone from the opponent's side, then there would be no need for anyone else to step in.
"Zippy will go first," Zac said.
The student approached the metal pole while the rest of the players stepped back a few meters away from the room, just outside the game zone.
Zippy was a level 4 ability user, he was the lowest on the other team.
"3…2..1... Level 1, Start."
The game had started. The top two sections of the metal pole started twisting. At first, the machine was incredibly slow and Zippy was able to block two attacks. This continued on for a little while, Quinn noticed that only two parts of the machine were moving. This was due to the machine only being set at Level 1.
What Quinn also realized was the other part of the machine would only move once the person placed their hand or leg down. After blocking the attack, if one were to keep their arms up, then the machine wouldn't start until it was able to sense that the arm had gone back down again.
Forty five seconds had now passed. All of a sudden, the machine started speeding up for the last fifteen seconds, Zippy's expression changed as a little bit of sweat started running down his face.
One minute had passed and the sound of the buzzer had gone off, this indicated he had passed. Zippy let out a big sigh while he wiped the sweat from his forehead, he walked back to his teammates.
"Good job, Zippy. If you couldn't even pass Level 1, then I was going to ask why you were still hanging around us," Zac said.
Zippy held his head down when he walked past the other, he had no response to give.
Next was Quinn's team.
"Whoa! Go on Pam!" Fex shouted while clapping his hands.
"It's Sam," Vorden corrected him, slapping his head, and slightly embarrassed as to why he was even with such an idiot.
Even though the game had started, Sam didn't look nervous at all. Instead, he was calmly breathing and keeping it steady while blocking all of the attacks.
"He's quite good, at least he's been taught well," Vorden commented.
Quinn thought the same. Once he concentrated and closed his eyes, he was able to focus on his hearing. When he listened to Sam's heartbeat, he could tell it was stable unlike the contestant from before. Even during the last fifteen seconds, Sam stayed the same.
When Sam walked back to the others, they each gave him a high five and congratulated him on a good job.
"Pfft! Look at them, celebrating when they only passed Level 1, they're acting like they've already won," Zac said in an annoyed tone.
It was Zippy's turn once again, this time, he was on Level 2. On this level, three of the different sections started moving. This caused the player to also move up and down, blocking the attacks not only to their head, but also the ones headed towards their body. Zippy was doing well so far with only fifteen more seconds to go.
Just like last time, it sped up in the last quarter. Zippy blocked the first two hits and lifted his hand up to block an attack to the left of his face, and then another to his right.
This was when the others started noticing something wrong. Although the machine's strikes weren't all that powerful but if the attack wasn't properly blocked, it would still hurt. It was quite similar to someone giving a soft-padded punch, especially since the bars themselves were covered. Yet, for some reason, Zippy's hands were shaking.
When the third bar swung towards the right side of his rib, Zippy hesitated since he thought back to the words Zac just said. His concentration broke and it ruined his form, his movements became as erratic as he was nervous. This slip-in was more than enough, he was just a split-second late in blocking the blow heading towards his ribs.
"Beep! Beep! Beep!"
As he walked back to his team, he hung his head in shame. He didn't even bother making eye contact with Zac. Zac too didn't say anything to him. It was a stupid mistake someone at their level should never make. In his mind, Zippy wanted to blame Zac for placing too much pressure on him, however, he knew that his words would be pointless.
Now, it was time for Sam to go again. Just like previously, he dealt with the multiple bars coming towards him with ease. When the game started speeding up towards the end, his breathing was a little quicker, but it didn't batter, his pace was incredible and it looked like he was playing some sort of rhythm game.
"Beep! Level 2, Completed."
Instead of heading back to the others, Sam remained in the game room. This was because of their agreement beforehand, after another member from the opposing side was eliminated , the other one would stay and go onto the next level. Like this, the other team would have a slight advantage, this was how the game worked.
For example, Zippy lost for being hit in the ribs. By seeing this, Sam would be able to observe and dodge the same strike. Not that it would have helped much at this stage anyways.
"Level 3, Begin."
The machine started once again, and there seemed to be a big jump in difficulty from Level 2 to Level 3. All six of the sections were moving this time. Having just completed the last round, Sam was a little tired, however, he still managed to persevere by blocking each of the bars.
When the last fifteen seconds came, the machine's speed looked like it almost doubled.
"Left block, right block, knee raise, right block again, elbow down." Sam thought about every move, but this was his downfall. Before, since he had enough time to think about everything he was doing, it worked out for him. Now that the attacks were too fast. He forgot to breathe as he was too focused on thinking and blocking. And suddenly, he needed to gasp for air. When taking in a deep breath, a bar came swinging out and whacked him on the face.
Sam looked disappointed in himself. He thought he would have been able to help out the others more. And yet, he was only able to eliminate a single player from the other team. He realized that playing this time of game on your own and as a team was a little different.
When you were on your own, you could start the same level again while remembering the speed and attack patterns. You could easily get better and adjust to the game's leve. It wasn't that Sam couldn't pass Level 3, but he would have needed to play it a couple more times before being able to do so.
With the team mode, they only had one chance. Each player only had a single life.
"I'm sorry,." Sam said as he walked back to the others.
"Don't worry about it, I learned quite a bit from watching you," Quinn said, not taking his eyes off the machine.
Sam felt like it was all over after realizing the difference in playing as a team and as a single player. He never imagined that they could win anymore. Instead, he started praying to the Karma Gods, hoping that their opponents would get what they deserve and somehow lose the match.
Another student from Zac's team walked forward and started the game. While Sam was busy playing the game, this student had been practising off at the side while trying to match the machine's speed. Now that he had a good idea what the attacks would be like, everything seemed to work out for him.
After the minute had passed, the game was over and they completed Level 3.
"Alright, who's going next on your team?" Zac asked them with a sneer on his face.
While clenching his hand into a fist like he was getting into a fight, Fex stepped forward.
"Haha! Time to show you how easy this little thing is!" Before he could get into the game area, a hand appeared on his shoulder and pulled him back.
"Let me take this one," Quinn said.
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