The Cote d’Azur greeted us with all the splendor of the Mediterranean atmosphere of an early spring evening. I stopped Mercedes in front of the villa. Letitia still had a cell phone in her hand.

“Aren’t you tired of games?” I asked.

She laughed and put her cell phone in her purse. There was a big generation gap between us. Letitia grew up with screens and games.

“Garena Free Fire is the perfect game. You don’t understand,” she replied in her smooth voice.

“You’re wrong,” I said. “In that game, every ten minutes, a player will find himself on a desert island where he fights with 49 other players. You need to explore the map, camouflage yourself in the environment, and develop your skills in battle against other players. I also know Old Man’s Journey, The House of Da Vinci 2, Need for Speed. Do you want me to move on?”

“Oh,” she replied in surprise.

I frowned. Perfect games can be dangerous and deadly. One such game, which has no name and is never finished, was the book’s backbone, “Infernal Affairs.” Although unfinished, that game left a deep blood trail behind. It was a little lacking for that trail to be much bloodier.

In the “Squid game” series, the cruelest is the video games for which the script was written by Dong Huck back in 2008. But our actual, nameless match was even more brutal. The foundation of this book is my own experience in this hellish affair.

I paused for a moment at the entrance to the villa.

Did the four young hackers end the sinister game after all? I was wondering.

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He appeared between the walls, bent over, with a machine gun in preparation for action, just as he had been taught on training grounds. The training is systematic, learning how to walk in motion and at the same time represent the minor possible goal. The elbows must be pressed against the body, the legs dragged along the ground, and the gaze left-right. Rarely is an opponent expected from above.

I jumped on top of him from a height of about four yards. We rolled over and stopped in a cloud of dust. The Uzi machine gun flew away. My opponent got up quickly and took a fighting stance. It was a better attitude than being taught in ordinary martial arts courses. There was no doubt that the commandos in front of me had been practicing karate for a long time. After all, most true mercenaries regularly practice fighting with their bare hands. He buried his hind leg firmly in the sand, the front barely touching the ground with his toes. It was a classic ko-kutsu, a fighting stance most commonly used by goyuriu school fighters. I noticed he had a knife behind his belt, but he didn’t try to reach for it because we were too close. He correctly concluded that I would seize the moment and attack him as he drew his weapon. He stood motionless, looking me in the eye. It was my height, but broader, of more robust construction. I knew he wouldn’t attack. He could wait because time worked for him. He expected help.

I took a fighting stance (fudo-dachi) and moved closer. He slid back, not changing his posture.

“You can’t retreat your whole life,” I hissed.

Not a muscle moved on his face. Through clenched teeth, I heard an intense voice.

“I’m in no hurry.”

“They won’t arrive,” I continued provocatively.

“It will,” he replied calmly.

“It’s going to be late,” I said, adding. “Late for you.”

He responded with a bark-like laugh and lowered his position even more.

Lower postures are not suitable for the attack; they are good for defense. The man in front of me knew what he was doing.

I attacked with a combination of mae – geri – zuki, a classic with a kick, and a punch with a fist. He blocked skillfully and delivered a solid counterblow for my stomach. For a mediocre fighter, that would be the end of the fight. But I was far from a mediocre fighter. My stomach is like a stone. I wanted a quick back and deliberately allowed him to place that kick. That way, he got pretty close to me. I took half a step to the left, turned in a flash, and kicked backward (ushiro-geri). He tried to block, but my leg broke the block. A decisive blow hit him in the chest and threw him backward. He fell on his back, unconscious. I grabbed his machine gun and approached him. I raised the weapon above my head and struck.

The iron frame of Uzi’s gunstock pierced the skull.