78 Welcome to the Committee
Alice was beginning to feel uneasy. About twenty minutes of traveling through the forest passed and they still haven't gotten to their destination yet. What if this man was actually a bad person!? Alice tried not to imagine the unspeakable things he might do to her. Such horror!
"What is it?" he turned his head.
"What's your name?" she asked. At least she would have a name in case he did anything to her. Perhaps write out his name in her blood if he ever left her dead somewhere.
"Oh right. I haven't introduced myself yet, huh? My name is Wen," he replied. "I didn't get your name either."
Noo! I should have given a fake name, Alice thought.
"Nice name," he commented.
She couldn't help but blush. "T-Thank you," she said shyly.
In front of them was a stone building covered in vines that looked like the entrance to a dungeon. Wen got off the back of Alice's cat Kimmy, who was currently a large white fox.
"Now, this is the part where I need your help. Can your shapeshifter fit through that hole over there?" Wen pointed at a hole at the bottom right corner of the entrance door. "There should be some sort of switch inside to open the door."
Alice had Kimmy transform back into a cat. Kimmy effortlessly went in the hole and pressed the switch. The doors opened in response.
"Thank goodness," Wen sighed in relief. "Thanks. You can wait here while I retrieve the package inside."
"I have a friend, you see, who loves to communicate through the most inconvenient means. He has me going to faraway remote areas like these to receive his notes." Wen sighed as he walked inside the building.
Alice felt bad for doubting him.
A minute later, Wen emerged from the building with a mysterious box. "Alright, let's go."
Suddenly, five people dressed in masks and cloaks appeared out of nowhere and surrounded them. They appeared to be interested in the box Wen was holding. Alice had no idea who they were.
Wen cursed under his breath. His hand clenched the pistol he kept with him. "We have to fight them."
"Fight!?" Alice was in panic. She was but a low level newbie who just joined Aries.
Wen saw her player level and reconsidered. "Never mind. I'll find us an opening. Once I do, have your cat carry us out of here fast." He swiftly shot every enemy who tried to get near him. "Alice, now!"
Alice had Kimmy transform into a white fox again. She climbed on top and extended her hand to Wen. He was able to grab hold of it, but not after one enemy rose and did a quick feet sweep. He stumbled to the ground. Soon, he and the enemy were wrestling for the box.
"Kimmy! Help him!" Alice commanded.
A large paw swept both Wen and a cloaked person like a car window wiper. This allowed Wen to safely grab the box.
"Sorry!" Alice apologized.
"Alice, take this and run!" Wen threw the box at her.
She grabbed it. "But what about you?"
"Run. I can handle myself. I'll catch up." He punched an enemy in the face before Alice was targeted.
Alice nodded and dashed as fast as she could. Once she thought she was far away enough, she stopped. A hidden person took this chance and shot her in the shoulder with an arrow. She fell to the ground. It didn't hurt, but she was in danger of losing all her health.
Kimmy stood in between Alice and the person.
"Hand over the box and you won't be harmed." The enemy had an arrow aimed straight at her.
"No!" Alice hugged the box.
"An unwise move leaving the package with a low level player."
Alice braced herself for the hit. At the last minute, the enemy was shot from behind. He staggered. A second shot came. This time, he fell to the ground.
Several meters away was Wen with a sniper rifle. He always made sure to carry different varieties of guns. Just in case.
"Wen!" Alice was happy to see him.
He made his way towards her. He was a little injured, but nothing too bad that couldn't be fixed with first aid techniques. He caught his breath.
"Good job," he praised her and gave her a pat on the head.
"You're injured! I'll fix you." She excitedly took out her first aid kit. She was told that Aries didn't cause physical harm to players, but Wen appeared to have sustained physical injuries. She didn't quite understand it. In the meantime, she concentrated on patching him up. "Patching. Patching."
"Thanks." He smiled. "Here's your pay." He gave her a pouch of gold.
Alice happily accepted it. She finally had money to buy equipment!
"You know, I could use an assistant like you. I understand that you might not want to because it might get dangerous like today, but it'd be great if you'd accept." Wen decided that Alice was a good candidate.
"But I'm still a newbie." Alice was still not confident with her abilities. She had so much to get used to.
"I'll help level you up. I'll also take care of your meals and lodging." He glanced at Kimmy. "Your cat's meals as well."
Alice was tempted by the free food, but she couldn't forget her main purpose of being in Aries. "I'm looking for my friends. If you'll help me find them too, I'll join you."
"Deal. Welcome to the Aries Defense Committee."
That day, Alice unknowingly joined the secret team employed by M.K. to keep watch over hacking activities.