Chapter XXXIX – Back Train (Day 3)

The next day, the two were asked to wear the Arkiman suit because they will undergo training at an Arkiman gym. For breakfast, they were again served with a few pieces of vegetables, a hot drink, and two tablets.

Right after finishing their meals, the group went down and into the limousine. They traveled for a few minutes and stopped in front of a small building. Rem wondered why such a small establishment can accommodate their training.

Right after getting off the vehicle, Vincent swiped his badge through the sensor of the electronic door. The gate opened. The building was just a two-story, 200-meter square and without any parking lot. The front door, which was made from glass, automatically opened. Two guards appeared. Rem smiled as they headed into an elevator. He concluded that there was something underground.

Rem was never wrong — the underground revealed a huge place, obviously for knife-throwing. He thought it was a combination of level 2 knife throwing and defense shooting where the atrium-built place features different types of target.

Vincent walked in one place and pressed a button. The floor moved putting all the targets to the side.

“Alright, for days, this will be your training ground,” said Vincent. “The two of you will just have to show us what you have really learned in the island. Some parts of your training will be put in a live streaming so investors can have early favorites.”

“This place is computer-powered. Once you are inside and the commands are activated, the computer will decide what environment you will train. You must have to target all threats coming your way.

“The threats are also computer generated creatures – CGC to be short. They can hurt you. So, be alert.

“The two of you will go together and your main goal is to survive in a given period of time or get the token that you can locate using this map,” said Vincent handing Rem a piece of rectangular object same size of a matchbox.

“Any questions?”

Rem and Marybeth shook their heads. He was busy inspecting the mag because he was wondering how the thing worked. He saw a small button. He pressed it but nothing happened.

“Alright, we’ll leave you. Take this you’ll need this,” said Vincent handing them two belt bags containing daggers. Vincent and the escorts immediately left the room.

“Alright, Rem and Marybeth, good luck,” said Vincent via the microphone.

The place immediately transformed into a rocky place before their eyes.

“Press the button on the map,” said Vincent.

Rem followed and a digital drawing of the place with bright dots appeared, obviously showing their location. He nodded to Marybeth. They walked. They were both alert and cautious to their environment.

A few minutes later, Rem heard a stretching sound and he knew it’s coming from a bow. He turned around and saw an obviously-computer-made figure aiming at them from the higher grounds.

Rem was able to dodge the arrow and pushed Marybeth into a huge rock to hide. He peeked after a few seconds.

“200 feet,” he said to himself, pertaining to the distance of the arrow man to them.

“Wait here,” said Rem while handing Marybeth the map. He ran towards the arrow man with his eyes on him. Every time the arrow man aimed and release the arrow, he will throw his body into another direction to avoid the arrow. When he reached a certain distance he thought he can shoot him, he swung and fired a dagger.

The arrow man was hit and immediately disappeared.

Marybeth clapped as she walked towards him. Rem boastfully met her. She, however, hit him on his head.

“You think that’s great,” Marybeth said angrily.

“What? What did I do?” Rem said moving backward to avoid her.

“You think leaving me there, risking your life will make us win?” she said as she continued to land palms on him.

“I’m sorry. I thought it’s much better if I’ll take him by myself.”

“No. We should take each and every enemy together,” she said in a more serious note. “In that way, we will win.”

Rem just rubbed his head.

“And please, Burrows, can you stop treating me like a girl. I use to feel I’m weak. We’ve beaten the strongest Arkiman in the island… together.”

Rem looked at her. It’s was obvious that he realized something.

“Come now, we have to look for this token. I already have the idea where it is.”

Rem and Marybeth walked a few more minutes when they heard a loud drop and it was coming from their side.

They both looked and he was another computer-made figure, but this time holding a mace with huge spiky head, almost the same size of an exercise ball. He charged, ran towards them and tried to them using his weapon.

Rem and Marybeth separated to dodge the attack.

The man easily lifted his weapon and swung it around forcing Rem and Marybeth to move away. The big man then walked towards the direction of Rem.

Rem tried to throw a dagger, but the big man just covered himself with the metal ball. He knew he had no choice, but to attack at a close range and find an opening.

Marybeth, on the other hand, tried to keep up, but the big man was directing Rem to a place where they will be hidden. So, instead of keeping up, she just climbed in an attempt to check them from above. When she saw them, she threw a dagger and she hit the bullseye. However, the big man just looked at her, picked a huge rock using his left hand and threw it to her. She was surprised but was able to think fast. She opted to throw herself down the rocks than be hit by the boulder. She landed badly.

Rem saw the whole thing and had the urge of going to Marybeth. So, he hid somewhere in the boulder to give him some time to think. He then quickly carved the dried soil, picked it, appeared from the rocks and threw it at his enemy. The big man responded by hitting the huge chunk of dried mud with his ball, sending dust into the air. Rem uses that as an opportunity to have a bare hand fight with the big man. Faster, he was able to overpower the big man and hit him several times, including a hard kick on his tummy. The big man immediately vanished. He ran fast to check her.

Marybeth was trying to get up. However, from her looks, she was injured.

“Mr. Vincent, Marybeth’s hurt,” shouted Rem.

No answer.

“Mr. Vincent,” he again shouted.

Marybeth pulled Rem.

“No. They won’t let us and I get it,” said Marybeth. “When we are in the game, there are no timeouts. So let’s continue.”

Rem understood. He picked Marybeth and supported her as they walked towards the location of the token. A few minutes of walking, she asked him to go to the forest part of the place

Once they were in the forest, Marybeth looked around collecting leaves, bark, sap, roots, and more. Rem watched her and he knew she will try to nurse her injuries. She then combined all the juices resulting in dark green goo. She immediately took it.

“Anti-inflammatory?” Rem asked.

Marybeth just nodded while showing a disgusted look.

“Not too good?” Rem said.

“Yeah, but too good for me,” said Marybeth, who immediately walked away.

“Hey, we should be resting your ankle.”

“We should finish this training. My medicine will surely work.”

He obliged. They both walked for a few minutes and Rem was impressed; she continued to show signs of improvement and within an hour, she was completely healed. Another hour passed, they were still tracking the token when two computerized women appeared in front of them.

Rem already knew that they will attack, so he readied himself. He wasn’t wrong, the two ran towards them – one ran into him while the other one to Marybeth. He was able to avoid all the kicks and punches thrown at him. He saw her also doing the same thing.

After dodging the attacks, Rem looked at Marybeth and nodded. She nodded back and together, they launched an attacked. Both of them tried their best to stay close to one another.

Rem overpowered the smaller and weaker foe. He immediately turned to Marybeth’s and together, they fought. Because they outnumbered her, she wasn’t able to fight back and opted to retreat. She made a wrong move because both were sharp shooters. Two daggers then pinched to her body that made her vanished.

Rem smiled at Marybeth and gave her a high five.

“From now on, no more I-will-do-everything guy,” said Rem locking Marybeth on his arm. “I’ll give you my full trust,” he added giving her a kiss on her forehead.

Marybeth mildly punched Rem on his stomach, removed his arm and walked away.

Rem and Marybeth eventually stumbled on a mysterious and creepy cave. According to the map, they must pass through it. Hesitant, he stopped her by grabbing her arm.

“I feel something weird towards this cave,” said Rem.

“It’s the only way to the token,” said Marybeth showing the map.

“I know. But I think we should be prepared for something. Not just our daggers.”

Marybeth paused for a while.

“What’s your plan?”

“Maybe, if we would go to the sides, we can find something useful. It’s luscious in there.”

“Alright, let’s go.”

“Marybeth, can you help me look for agave or any plant, trees, you that can produce ropes?” said Rem after they entered the forest.

“Alright.”

Rem and Marybeth searched through the thick vegetation for an hour. They failed. Marybeth thought of a substitute. She walked searching through the tall trees and when she saw vines, she asked Rem to help her pull it.

Using her dagger, Marybeth peeled the thick vines and asked Rem to do the same. When they were finished, she used a fist-sized rock to soften the fabric and instructed him to braid it. Later, Rem got what he wanted – a pile of rope. They continued traveling through the cave. Meters by meters, the cave got darker.

“Wait, this is what I’m talking about,” said Rem pulling Marybeth’s arm. He then cut a rope, tied one end around his wrist and the other end around hers. He remained alerted as they walk.

Rem smiled and found relief that he was wrong after seeing light coming from the exit of the cave. He then cut the rope and wrapped his arm around Marybeth’s shoulder. He was wrong for thinking that he was wrong.

Both of them looked back after sounds of falling rocks were heard. They were both shocked seeing an angry creature and it was about to charge. It first roared and ran towards them.

Rem’s eyes widened and ran while pulling Marybeth.

“Run. Let’s run to the exit.”

Marybeth responded and ran as fast as she can. Rem, on the other hand, was intentionally getting left behind pulling all the huge rocks he can reach to at least hinder the wild creature. Using his bionic mind, he knew that they can go outside before the creature can catch them. So, he pulled his rope and immediately made a small weave. He then threw the other end to Marybeth, who immediately got his idea. Right after getting out, he shouted.

“Pull!” he said throwing himself to the side of the cave. Marybeth did the same. She was surprised that the rope made the creature cry in pain. She looked. She was impressed that he was able to tie several daggers into the weave that badly injured the creature. Trapped with the rope and wounded, it had no choice but retreat back inside. The two remained on their positions pulling the ropes for a few more minutes and when they knew that they were already safe, they both leaned on the rocky wall.

Rem looked at Marybeth. Charmed with his smile, she smiled back.

“You are awesome. You thought of that in a snap,” said Marybeth.

“Because I wanted to protect you,” Rem replied.

“Shut up and let’s continue.”

Rem wasn’t joking; it’s true. He thought of those things because he wanted to keep her safe.

The two continued. They followed the map and both of them were excited as they go near the right place. More chills were sent to their nerves when they were on the right spot.

The token was located on top of a plateau of a not-so-hard-to-climb mountain. There, they were surprised with a man wearing a robe. He was facing the chest where the token was kept. The man stood and faced them… It was Jonathan Cooney with that haughty looks on his face.

“Mr. Cooney, what a pleasant surprise,” said Rem smiling. But, he knew his mentor was tasked with protecting the chest. So, he was also ready.

“It’s also a pleasure, Burrows. I won’t give you any mercy despite you are my favorite student,” said Cooney already wearing his face mask “Can you please wear your masks too?”

“Beat me please, so I know I’m not a lame teacher,” he added while picking something on his bag. He then threw a dagger to Marybeth, quickly removed his robe, and threw it hard on Jay that blocked his sight.

Cooney grabbed the chest and threw it below to make sure they’ll fight him.

“Retrieve it if you can.”

Rem attacked first and Marybeth immediately followed. They ganged Cooney up, but he was also quick and able to block and dodge the attacks coming from the two. A few minutes after, he made some moves that threw Marybeth a few distance.

Immediately, Jonathan faced Rem and launched a powerful punch.

Rem pulled his rope and successfully caught Cooney’s arm. The more experienced fighter just pulled him, stole a dagger in his bag and used it to cut the rope.

Rem was surprised that Jonathan was able to counter it and unable to think fast. Next thing he knew, a kick landed on his leg. he was then pushed created a huge distance between them.

“That’s it?” asked Cooney staring at him. “Show me your moves.”

Rem nodded on Marybeth and together, they launched another attack. This time, both of them were quicker but more mindful of their moves. However, Jonathan adjusted just like the Kung Fu master sweeping all his enemies.

After a few minutes, Marybeth retreated to catch some air that gave Jonathan the opportunity. He faced Rem, had some exchanges of punches and kicks. The student was getting overpowered. She saw what happened that prompted her to help her partner. She ran while grabbing a dagger. What she saw next shocked… right before her eyes, Jonathan grabbed Rem, swung his body, and then they were rolling down.

Marybeth tried to follow, but they were too fast and she was still gasping for air. She found a little relief when they were about to reach a flat surfaced. Jonathan quick in flipping their position that gave Rem the hard impact. She can’t do anything but watch.

Cooney walked and pulled the weak Rem to a boulder to keep them hidden. He then sat on his chest while his two feet are putting weight on his wrists. The mentor gave his several punches on his cheeks.

Marybeth can’t do something but run to see what’s happening. She was horrified seeing that the more experienced Jonathan brutally hurting Rem. She ran faster and brandished a knife into Jonathan, who immediately backed off. However, he tripped and was shocked seeing he was being dragged by Rem, using two ropes that are separately tied around his ankles.

Puzzled on how Rem did it, Cooney tried to fight back by using his strength, but he was the disadvantaged. He also attempted to cut the ropes, but Marybeth was already in front of him that left him no choice, but to defend her attacks. Rem also pulled him.

Rem threw the other end of the rope to Marybeth and together, they pulled him into a boulder and tied him. He walked towards the chest, she followed him. He picked it and faced Marybeth. He was surprised that Cooney held her hostage.

“Time’s up,” said Cooney. Rem wasn’t able to react because the room suddenly turned to it’s original.

Vincent appeared clapping. Jonathan, on the other hand, released Marybeth and kissed her on her cheek. He walked towards Rem and gave him a hug.

“So proud of you buddy. You indeed are my favorite student,” whispered Jonathan.

“How’d you do it?” Rem asked because he was baffled by the quickness of Jonathan.

“Well done, well done,” said Vincent as he came near them. “Rem, you are one heck of a fighter. You knew you didn’t stand a chance on him physically. So, you fought with wit… Same as you Marybeth… Per contra to your skills, you guys tend to forget to keep your guards and you underestimated your enemies.”

“I can also see you backing off on me, Rem,” said Cooney. “In the real games, there’s no superiority. If you had the chance to stab him… do it.”

“Well, take these lessons carefully!” said Vincent.

Both nodded. Rem was surprised that the chest was still on his hand.

“Mr. Vincent, what happened?” said Rem showing the chest.

“Nah! The only thing that is real in this room are your knives, that chest, and the token inside,” said Vincent. “Go ahead and open it. You worked hard for it,” he added chuckling.

Rem looked at Marybeth and opened the chest. He then smiled, mildly laughed, picked two pieces of papers and handed it to her.

“Get out of here!!!” said Marybeth laughing.

The tokens were two gift certificates from a company named Applenana.

“That restaurant serves the best sweets in town,” Vincent shouted as he walked away. “Get dressed so you can try the banoffee pie and Apple peppermint ice tea.”

Rem just wrapped his arm around Marybeth’s shoulders, gave her a kiss on her forehead and walked along with her to the exit.