Luck Turns Around
As luck would have it, none of them were particularly lucky.
The previous night, Mary got them all quite excited.
Most of them had never gambled before, but as Lucy tried to hold her back, Mary told story after story of how she would sneak into casinos and gamble with all the other adults.
Unfortunately, as Lucy made evident after every story, she always ended up losing everything.
As most inferred, it wasn't even a question of luck or not — going by Lucy's active correction of every story, it would seem that Mary was just *bad* at pretty much every casino game.
When playing card games, she would make her choices completely at random, and while playing luck based games, she kept of betting the previous win, so it was no surprise her earnings quickly went down the drain.
However, her stories did get them quite enthusiastic for the following day. As long as they didn't let Mary play, they should all be fine.
So immediately after their morning shift, they all went straight to the betting carnival, but their hopes were quickly destroyed.
Instead of the casino games Mary had gotten them all thinking about, the betting carnival really was more of a carnival.
And instead of skill, they all learned quite quickly that luck replaced pretty much all of it.
After a quick, and depressing hour, Lucy asked the group: "So, how much left do you all have… I'm at 430…"
Ken followed up: "613…"
Jane: "This is unexpectedly hard… 257…"
Sean, replying to Jane's comment: "Hahaha, you really do suck, don't you!"
"How much do you have then?" Ting questioned back.
"258!" he answered with enthusiasm, followed by a collective group sigh.
"I'm only at 309 myself…" Ting continued.
"0!" Mary yelled with even more enthusiasm that Sean.
Although they didn't let her play, they thought that as things were getting rough, they might as well give her one shot…
Unfortunately, she used all her points in one go, and was clapping as she lost it all, betting on a turtle race, when her turtle went off in a completely different direction.
"How much did you lose, Aki?" Mary said, looking at the person behind her.
"Please don't call me that…" Akira replied back.
He did lift his card though, and said "Balance" out loud, to which his score read 1283, to everyone's amazement.
"How did yours get so big!?" Mary yelled back.
"Every time someone betted on something, I simply betted on something else." Akira responded.
Once again, everyone sighed.
There was no way they could all use that tactic, Lucy thought.
If only David were there, he might be able to think of something, then again, they wouldn't even need to participate in the day's challenge if he were.
They all decided they needed to regroup, so they found a bench surrounded by trees and other greenery, to strategize a bit.
Unlike what they initially thought, the things they were betting on were completely arbitrary.
Between turtle races where most of the turtles didn't even make it to the finish line to guessing numbers between 0 and 10000, there really was no fool proof way of getting around this.
Lucy was thinking of what Will told them about the entrance exam; it would seem that this really was the luck portion of life they were emulating as a part of this exam.
The whole situation felt like that to her — overcoming challenges, working together to achieve a goal…
it really was rather magnificent how good of friends they all became in such a short while.
With all these thoughts floating around in her head, Lucy smiled as she sat down on the bench, while the rest were actually brainstorming ideas out loud.
Suddenly, a voice spoke out from behind them: "It seems you guys are in a bit of a pinch!" the voice said.
"If you are willing to pay up, I might just be willing to give you guys all our points. it won't… be… cheap… thou…" his voice started slowing down, as the group turned to him.
His eyes immediately made contact with those of Mary and Sean's, and he stood there frozen as if he had just seen Medusa's face.
Unable to do anything, Sean interrupted him: "You again…"
Immediately, the ringleader, and his posse groveled to the floor asking for forgiveness.
"It seems we didn't make our message clear yesterday morning…" Sean yelled back at them.
As he did, Mary explained the whole situation to the others.
"So even things like this were going… selling points for real money…" Lucy said.
"I thought you said you wouldn't fight anymore though!" Lucy said worriedly.
"Sean didn't seem that dependable, so I just took charge haha!" Mary said laughing.
Sean, fortunately, was yelling too loudly to hear any of that.
His yelling stopped when Ken called out to him though: "Sean, I have an idea, let me talk to them…"
"So, this John person is controlling you too, right?"
The ring leader answered back: "Yeah, he took one of our friends hostage, and told us to bring him as much money as possible…"
Ken just assumed before that they weren't traveling as a group, but they were indeed only seven.
"I see. What's your name?" Ken asked back.
"Ji… Jimmy…" the ringleader said.
"So, Jimmy, how many points do you have? Have your card read it out for us, so we know you aren't lying…"
Jimmy held out his card, and said "Balance". The amount was truly staggering: 28,726
Akira whistled to the number in the background it was so large.
Even if David were still with them, they wouldn't have nearly that amount.
"How are you earning this?" Ken asked back calmly.
"Well, first we sell points to other students, then, with the money, we bribe the teachers at the stalls to get more points than what we sold them for."
Ken absorbed the situation.
"I'll tell you what. Let's make a deal. We have a score to pick with this John guy, and you don't honestly seem like that bad a group if you are trying to help your friend." Ken said.
"We happen to know what tomorrow's challenge is, and with it, we plan to not only disqualify John, but also teach to him what it means to not regard others with respect."
"Essentially, we'll help your friend, if you help us." Ken said.
The other group all looked at each other with smiles hinting at hope on their faces.
"Akira, give him 1000 points please" Ken asked.
"Are you sure?" Akira asked back.
"You can't win anything if you don't take a risk" Ken said smiling.
"Anyway, I would like to offer this to you as an investment. Consider it a pact that we trust you." Ken said, as Akira transferred the score over.
"I want you to grow this as large as you can today. Meet us behind the cafeteria before breakfast tomorrow morning to give it back, as we'll be needing it if we want to beat John's group." Ken continued.
"Really, you'll trust us that much?" Jimmy said.
"After everything we did to those two, you'll still trust us?"
"Although I don't agree with what you did, I would have probably done the same." Lucy spoke up behind Ken.
"Don't worry about it, it was a good warmup!" Mary said joyfully next to her.
"Don't sweat it dude, your heart was in the right place" Sean said.
Jimmy's, along with his friend's, eyes started watering up.
"I don't know how to thank you!"
"Just meet us at the cafeteria and that will be enough" Ken said smiling.
As Jimmy's group left, Ken turned back to his own.
"Is it alright to trust him?" Ting spoke out.
"I don't mean it in a bad way, it's just what if something happens to him, or that John guy finds out?"
"We'll just have to trust them." Akira spoke out.
After some silence, Jane spoke up: "Unfortunately, we missed the lunch rush, so theres not much else to do at the cafeteria, so we'll have to wait for tonight's shift."
"Is it even worth going at this point?" Sean asked.
"Every little bit counts." Jane responded.
"Tomorrow, we'll be either doubling what we have, or losing it all, so we need as much as possible to start with."
"As long as we stick to the plan though, everything should be fine!" Mary said with eagerness, as they headed back to their dorms.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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