“Are you referring to what happened in the room?” he asked, keeping his voice low so that only you could hear him as you bumped along towards level 2.
“Yes! You just let that guy hit you!”
“I had to,” he replied, “if I had reacted, even though I have no weapon, it would have shown thet I’m actually a higher level player pretending to be a new player and then that would have made them suspicious of us and we wouldn’t have gotten this far…”
Your eyes scanned his face and then widened as you realized how quickly he had calculated all of that.
“Wow,” you breathed, “you’re clever… I wouldn’t have read into it that much”
“The reason I stood up was to protect you… the guy with the bat was aiming to hit you but when I moved he aimed for me instead.”
“What?!” You gasped, holding his hand, “you… no! Why would he have aimed for me? I wasn’t doing anything!”
“He just wanted to hit either of us, unfortunately he had just picked you. I fear I wouldn’t have been able to control myself if he had actually hit you. I would have ruined the mission… and his face.”
You giggled and kissed his cheek.
“Well let’s let this fuel our energy for the mission. I want to hit that guy with a bat once we’ve bought this syndicate down!”
He smiled at you then looked out the side of the wagon, looking ahead up the track.
“Are we almost at the wasp?” you asked.
You both waited, but no wasp appeared and you looked out the back of the wagon to see a man with two other players standing off the side of the track, the two players showing the slave seal, peaking outside from under their sleeves.
“Slaves?” you whispered to Tamajiki.
He nodded. “I think we may have underestimated this group…”
“What do you mean?” you asked.
“It looks like they might have an army sized slave contract group who are inclined to do their bidding,” Tamajiki mused.
Up to the level 2 teleport station the wagon went and the driver jumped down then came around to the back of the wagon.
“Ok, out ya get,” he said, unlocking the back gate and dropping it down.
You and Tamajiki hopped out and the driver ushered you both up onto the platform then produced blindfolds for you both to put on.
“‘Ere ya go, put these on,” the driver said, “can’t have ya knowing where we’re takin’ ya,” he said, getting onto the platform as well.
Reluctantly you put the blindfold on and so did Tamajiki.
“Level 11!” The driver called out.
“Ah, ok, so we WERE on the right level before…” you thought as your body was sucked into the swirling mass of blue and white, then transported to level 11.
Unable to see, you just blindly followed Tamajiki, holding his hand as he walked ahead, lead by the driver, and it wasn’t long before you were walked into a building.
“You can take ya folds off,” the driver said to you.
You did so, and quickly looked around.
It was a very polished looking place. Void of life, apart from you, Tamajiki, and the driver.
“This way,” the driver said, leading you to the closest room and entering.
Inside was a man sitting at a desk and he motioned for you both to step forward.
“State your business,” he said in a bored voice.
“To level up quick,” Tamajiki said confidently.
The guy nodded. “You, go through that door,” he pointed to Tamajiki then to a door to his left. “And you?” he then asked you, but you were watching Tamajiki walk away, nervous about being separated from him.
“Uh… same thing, to level up quick… can I please stay with my boyfriend?” you asked quickly.
“No,” the man said gruffly, “go through that door.”
You hesitated, watching Tamajiki leave, but at the last second he looked back at you and nodded so you relaxed a little and followed orders – walking towards the other room.
As you were leaving you heard the man behind the desk speak again- but this time to the driver.
“Two freshies,” you heard him say with a smirk, “that’s 30,000 Mahi each.”
“What?!” you thought, your head whipping back to look at them, just in time to see the exchange of money, before you were grabbed by the shoulder and roughly pushed through the door to the other room.
You stumbled forwards and kept walking down the corridor, flanked on both side by guards.
“Wow, so I’m literally being trafficked here. They pay the driver for bringing in new people. This is wrong on so many levels.”
You were taken into another room where there were a small group of people waiting and you immediately knew that they were other young hopefuls who wanted to level up fast- judging by them all being in the same villager gear as you.
“Hey,” you said to another player as you walked up to the group.
“Hey,” they replied, “you here to level up?”
“Did you come in the cart here too?”
“Yeah,” they replied.
“Wait so… if the driver is getting $30,000 mahi for each person here and there are 6 people in this room alone…” you scrunched your eyebrows and thought hard, trying to do the maths in your head, “ok so that’s 6 x 3 … which is 18… so 6 x 30 would be 180 … WAIT?! What the fuck?! The driver alone has just made $180k from this room of people alone?! How many other people does he move a day?!”
You refocused your attention on the player who you had been talking with.
“Hey, uh,” you said, getting their attention again, “did you come with anyone today?”
“Yeah… my boyfriend, but he got sent into the other room…”
“I came with my friend, he got sent there too,” he said.
“Well that’s two more to add to that amount then,” you thought, then continued.
“Wanna somehow swap your friend with me so I can be in his place with my boyfriend and you can be with your friend again?”
“That’d be cool,” they replied.
You nodded. “Yeah, but how are we gonna do that?” you wondered to yourself.
In the other room, Tamajiki stood with another small group of 6.
“Hey man, you here to level up?” another player asked Tamajiki.
“Yeah, me too,” the player said, nodding, “one thing I didn’t ask though was when we could get out of this slave contract thing but I’m assuming it’ll be after we’ve reached the level we wanted to get to…”