Was rum and coke usually this strong? As a chef, Zen tasted some of this previously before he died. However, he didn't remember getting knocked out after one small shot glass. How much rum did Vera add to that?
No time for questions, Zen looked around at this strange place he was thrown to. After getting kicked around to different places within the last week from the void to earth, from the soul world to reality, from reality to virtual reality, Zen no longer questioned where he was.
"This looks familiar," he mused. It looked very similar to the jungle that they were thrown into on the first death game where four hundred died.
Actually, on closer look, this was the same jungle! The shots at the bar really were game highlight clips! Zen marvelled at the creativity of the game designer and how realistic this memory playback was. As the person this game highlight clip belonged to, Zen knew what was coming up. The loud thunderclap sound in the distance told him that the announcement had finished and the game had officially started.
With no time to waste, Zen quickly chose the best spot to watch the show. If the game highlight clip placed him here, it should only be that event!
Although the young master of the Taro family had never climbed trees before, it was different for Zen when he was a civilian. Climbing buildings and trees were things he knew how to do. With some difficulty, Zen pulled himself up onto the tree right above where he knew he would set up camp.
At the very start of this death game, everyone was given ten minutes to gear up with the things they could find in the boxes at the centre. There were some other resource boxes scattered around the area, but nobody wanted to risk the ten-minute immunity looking for those. He remembered how there was a stampede to the centre with a lot of fighting and snatching. The immunity period only specified there would be no deaths and no damage taken, but Zen remembered how it hurt badly when someone kicked him in the back. He suffered no damages, but it hurt so badly that made him decide to leave the red zone even if there was still plenty of time before the immunity time ran out.
While others ran towards the centre for the best resources and weapons, Zen scurried outside. They were given maps of this jungle terrain although not in great detail. Nobody knew where anyone else would be because it didn't work as a mini-map. Most of the candidates deemed it useless but not Zen. As a gamer, he knew that the other resource packs scattered around shouldn't be too difficult to find. The topography of this jungle made it easy for him to guess where these resources would be located.
Seeing as the resource packages in the middle were out in the open, Zen targeted the nearby open areas. These should also be game checkpoints and possibly safe zones. While Zen in the memory clip searched for the other resource packs, Zen, who was sitting in a tree comfortably, tried to recall details of what happened. This happened less than twenty-four hours ago, but his memories of it were already starting to get hazy. Perhaps it was due to the information overload after the first day. Meeting so many people and becoming allies with strong candidates weren't things he thought would happen.
Zen in the game found his resource pack. Unlike the other resource packs at the centre of the game starting point, the wilderness area's resource pack didn't contain weapons. It contained some rather useless essential items for survival. In a death game with a purge after four hours, the survival kit resource pack would've been any other mafia heir's worst nightmare.
However, this was perfect for someone like Zen. The camouflage uniform was very helpful in blending with the surroundings. He also had some rope, a pocket knife and a lighter.
Zen watched as his game self hiked up to this part of the mountain and surveyed the area. Based on the map, this was a good spot for trapping and camping. Over the next four hours, many people will die. Zen hoped that he could hide it out until the four-hour mark and build his fortress to defend and trap those who were out to kill him. After four hours, the invigilators would be allowed into the game. These invigilators were given the right to hunt any students they come across during the purge if more than a hundred students remained after four hours. Zen didn't know how powerful the invigilators were, but he had a different plan if he survived that long.
Zen watched as the memory playback blurred and fast-forwarded. His head grew dizzy, but he understood the summarised version of what occurred. His game self started cutting down trees, digging pits and creating primitive traps. The fortress took about two hours to complete, and in that time, it was amazing how nobody came by. Zen chose a very good spot to set up camp after all. Zen remembered playing a particular game that taught him how to hide within a challenging to navigate terrain, away from his enemies' sight. Most people wouldn't even bother searching this area first. It was always better to chase prey that you can see than hunt one that is hiding far out of your reach.
Things were boring, and Zen entertained himself, munching on some edible berries he harvested from the area. None of his traps had been triggered, but Zen counted the number of times the system sounded a thunderclap, indicating the death of a candidate. So far, it sounded two-hundred and seventy-eight times. There were still a little less than half to go. The intervals between these thunderclaps were getting longer. There was no doubt that the purge would be happening if they didn't pick up the pace.
Like all battle royale games, lesser individual deaths occurred in the mid-stages. Most people started to form temporary alliances for the sake of survival. There shouldn't be many soloists left alive, and that made him worried. If a group stumbled across his flimsy fortress and found him, it would be all over.
Three and a half hours after the game started, Zen finally had some action in the area. His trap was set off, and the intruder appeared to be very clumsy. It was a girl who didn't know how to remain silent. Zen laid low on his stomach on the tree, wrapped up in his camouflage uniform. It wouldn't be easy to spot him, and Zen didn't know what to do if this person foiled everything. Perhaps he should move to location B and C that he found on the map after his location was discovered. In a game of hide-and-seek, he should be able to still hold out until the four-hour mark. In a direct confrontation, he would surely die.
The blonde Russian sniper appeared from the bushes and cussed as she untangled the sticks in her hair. Who would have expected to fall into a pit inside a bush? This was definitely deliberate and not part of the game. A prey was near!
Zen watched how his past self tensed as Sasha circled the area near the tree he was in. He remembered this moment clearly but looking at it from a third- person's view, he still couldn't understand how Sasha could find his location so quickly. Then again, it could be the traps within the area that gave him away. If Sasha didn't know or suspect that anyone was in the area, she might not have looked so closely. The Russian sniper was a high-mobility sniper. That meant she wasn't so good at disguises and camouflaging for a kill.
Sasha circled the area three times and avoided most of Zen's amateur traps. Zen, who was on the tree in his camouflage uniform, didn't know what to do. He was running out of luck as Saasha disarmed everything and laid his carefully prepared traps to waste. Initially, Zen thought that the number of traps around would be enough to deal with two or three people and scare them away. He didn't expect to encounter Sasha, who was just hellbent on hunting the prey she stumbled across. This was his bad luck.
Fifteen minutes before the purge, it finally happened. Zen who was watching the memory playback couldn't help but cringe as he watched how his past-self launched a desperate attempt to disarm her sniper rifle by throwing an orange-like fruit he collected.
With his terrible aim, his only hope at living it out crumbled. Sasha dodged and fired her rifle on reflex, startling Zen out of his tree. He fell onto the ground with a loud thud, and it definitely hurt. Zen felt stunned from the long fall, but the adrenaline and fear of dying made him run. He remembered that not all the traps were activated and ran towards them.
Sasha was too engrossed in chasing Zen that she fell or the traps in the way. Without enough time to disarm them, Sasha was smacked in the face by a whipping tree branch that Zen tied. The small knife in his hand slashed the rope as he passed it and that move saved him from getting shot at point-blank. Watching Sasha get hit by that tree branch was both satisfying. Zen did a great job with that rap. It bought him a few precious seconds to lose Sasha for a while.
When Sasha realised that Zen was missing, she immediately climbed to the highest point and located him by observing the unusual movements within the forest. That was how the chase happened.
Zen didn't want to remember how Sasha chased him all the way to the edge of the waterfall, which was his point C retreat checkpoint. The way she shot him in the shoulder and fired another to end his life still gave him the chills. That was a very close call. Fortunately, he slipped, and her shot missed.
Thinking about it, Sasha must have been very frustrated that he escaped her so many times. Her reputation as the high-mobility sniper "Two Shots" was at stake. Thankfully, the game highlight clip did not show him discovering the safe zone in the cave underneath the waterfall.
As he slowly returned to the virtual bar, Zen felt a pair of curious eyes watching him.
"One minute. You're very fast! How are you feeling?"
Zen groaned and lifted his throbbing head. Vera had a twinkle in her eyes, and he felt uneasy when looking at the ninety-nine shots left on the table. It felt way longer than a minute.
"Ninety-nine more times, right?" he asked and looked at the drinks. "Which is rank #56's memory?"
Vera laughed and pushed a cocktail to him. Zen looked at the pina colada. It was yellow and reminded him of Sasha's hair. With a burst of boldness, he downed the pineapple flavoured cocktail and felt his head crash onto the wooden surface again, drifting off into his next one-minute nap.
"Ninety-eight more times to repeat this process," he thought to himself as he was dragged into Sasha's memory game highlight memory.