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52 Pickup This is War. As in War, the card game. Nevermind.
Posted 09 August 2016 - 03:25 PM
Where... where am I?
Everything is black. The last thing I remember is...
The last thing I remember is...
The car. The red light. Aiko-chan.
I sit up with a start, and that causes a spotlight to shine onto me.
I look around. Other than the spotlight on me, the... room, I guess... is dark.
Am I... dead?
I pushed Aiko-chan out of the way of the car... I remember... an impact...
That's right. I got hit by the car.
Then... I guess I am dead.
Surprisingly... I don't really feel anything about it.
Maybe it's because I still haven't fully come to terms with it...
"Not so fast," a voice calls out.
"Who's there?" I ask instinctively. Suddenly another spotlight comes on, a short distance away from me, illuminating a table at which sits a hooded figure.
"Despite your initial thoughts... you aren't dead. Not yet," the voice continues. It seems to be coming from the hooded figure.
I slowly and cautiously walk over to the table.
"Who are you?" I say, in an almost irritated manner.
The figure simply chuckles in response.
"Oh, that's not important..." they respond. I can't seem to place a gender on the voice.
"Though I'm sure you would like to know, wouldn't you..." they continue.
Posted 09 August 2016 - 05:30 PM
"Sasaki Junpei-san?" they finish.
"I know many things, Junpei-san. But again, that's not important," they reply.
I keep silent at that.
"I guess I'll cut straight to the point," they say. They wave their hand over the table, and a deck of cards magically appears in the center of the table, and some sort of map becomes visible.
This map... this is a map of my city, isn't it?
The figure nods.
"You're going to participate in a little game of mine," they say, "A competition, if you will."
"A competition?" I ask.
"Indeed. You will wake up in a hospital bed. The car that hit you? A bad accident, but you'll survive. You'll recover after a few weeks with no complications post-treatment. And your life will start to return to normal."
The figure picks up the cards on the table, then, faster than I can blink, distributes them on the table.
"Phase one will begin. Fifty-two 'cards' will be distributed throughout the city," they continue. The way they emphasized the word 'cards'...
"Phase one involves acquiring these cards. Of course, you're not alone. You are, in fact, the 37th participant. You'll have to be resourceful, and quickly find a card before they're all acquired. You can have up to a maximum of six cards in Phase One."
"And if I don't acquire any cards?" I ask.
"You'll suffer another accident. One you won't wake up from," they reply, "Oh, I shouldn't mislead you, by the way. If you refuse to participate, you won't wake up either."
I gulp. So I'm forced into this, huh? Unless I want to die...
"Phase one will take place over one month, or until all the cards are acquired. Then Phase Two will begin. Any unclaimed cards will disappear. And when that time comes... if you're still alive, instructions for Phase Two will arrive."
"What are these cards? What do they look like?" I ask.
"You won't have to worry about that. You'll know," they reply.
Suddenly, a sharp, burning pain hits me in the wrist, which subsides after a few seconds. I look down at my wrist in surprise, which now has a large number 37 burned onto it... it almost looks like a tattoo.
"Only you, other participants, and the cards themselves will be able to see those, by the way."
"Wait... the cards are people?" I ask.
"Indeed. They are all girls, in fact," they reply.
"Uh... huh," I stammer.
So... the cards are all girls, and I have to 'acquire' them, huh.
"Seal the contract with a kiss. It's that simple. I presume you're a man enough to do something like that. Now enough talk."
I feel the air get cold.
"The choice is yours. Will you participate or not? If not, no worries. I'll find another 37. Not much solace for you though, I wouldn't think."
...There's not really much of a choice here, is there?
"Yeah," I say, "I'll participate."
I don't want to die just yet.
"Good," they say, "Then there's no need for you to stay here any longer. Hold on... this might be a bit jarring. You're going to wake up right... about..."
I awake with a start, the previous events entirely lucid in my head. I look around. I'm in a hospital bed, and I can see my legs in casts. My eyes move down to see that I'm also in a neck brace.
"Onii-chan!" I hear a voice cry. A face comes into view.
"You're okay... I'm so sorry..." she cries, before sobbing into her hands.
"Aiko-chan..." I mumble, looking at her.
"Onii-chan... you... remember me!" she yelps.
"Of... Of course, why wouldn't I?" I ask.
"It's just... it's just... I got worried that you'd lose your memory... and..." Aiko sniffs.
"That's nonsense, I haven't lost my memory," I state.
"Are you sure...? Then... then what school do we go to?"
She's testing me...
>Aozora High School
>Midoriyama High School
Posted 10 August 2016 - 03:24 AM
"Shinkibou Academy," I state, "Come on, Aiko-chan, this is tiresome."
"Ah... so you really haven't lost your memory," Aiko says. She looks down.
"I'm... so sorry, onii-chan... It's all my fault... If I'd been paying attention..." she starts, tears forming in her eyes.
"That's enough," I say firmly. She looks at me in surprise.
"I would never forgive myself if you'd gotten hit by that car," I say, "I wouldn't be able to handle it. That's why... that's why I chose to do what I did. I don't regret it."
"Onii-chan..." she mumbles, sniffling. She wipes her eyes with the back of her hand.
"Where's Mom and Dad?" I ask.
"They're... at work," she says, "They told me to call them if you woke up or..."
"So? Did you call them?" I ask.
"Uh... Ah! H-Hold on!" she cries, before taking out her phone and leaving the room.
From the hallway, I can hear her relay the news of my recovery over the phone. After a minute, she comes back, a smile on her face.
"They were so happy..." she says, "They'll be here... relatively soon."
I sigh in relief.
I deign myself to rest.
"Onii-chan?" Aiko asks.
"Yeah, I'm just gonna get some rest," I say sleepily.
"Okay, onii-chan. Sleep well."
I'm gently awoken by Aiko-chan, and I see two other people standing beside her.
"Mom. Dad," I state.
"We're so glad you're awake, honey," Mom says, "we were worried you'd never wake up again."
Dad simply sits there without saying a word, but it's clear he's relieved to see me awake, too.
"The doctor said it was a miracle that you weren't injured more than you were," Mom continues.
Yeah, I guess miracle would be the best way to describe it. I think back to that mysterious figure I saw in that place...
"Onii-chan?" Aiko says.
"Huh? What is it?" I ask.
"Ah, no it's just... you spaced out for a second," she replies.
"I'm fine," I say, "How long was I out?"
"For... about a week and a half," Aiko says.
"Only a week and a half, huh?" I ask idly.
Just then, the door opens, and a doctor walks in.
"He's awake. How are you doing?" he asks.
"Considering the situation, as well as I can be," I reply.
The doctor nods.
"Visiting hours are almost up," the doctor states. Mom, Dad, and Aiko nods, and stand up to leave.
"We'll come visit as often as possible, okay, honey?" Mom says, and I nod... as well as I can.
They leave, and the doctor write a few things down on a clipboard.
"Well, get some rest, alright, Sasaki-san?" he says.
"Yeah, alright," I say.
The doctor leaves, and eventually, I fall asleep.
A few days pass, with my family occasionally visiting to check up on me. The days begin to blur, until someone else comes to visit me... I would say five days later.
There's a knock on the door.
"Knock knock? Junpei-kun, you home?" a female voice calls out.
"Koharu-chan... what if he's sleeping?" another voice says.
"It'll be fine, Chihiro-kun!" the female voice replies, before the door suddenly opens, and two people enter the room.
"Koharu-chan... Chihiro-kun," I say, as my two friends enter the room.
"We came to see you," Chihiro says.
Hisayuki Koharu and Matsumae Chihiro. These two have been my friends since childhood, they've stuck with me for as long as I can remember.
Koharu is a family friend. We actually didn't get along at first, but as we hung around each other more, we discovered we actually had a lot more in common than we thought.
Chihiro is a guy I met one day on a trip to the mountains. Even though we met each other there, it turned out that we actually lived not too far from each other. And considering how much I hung out with Koharu, those two became friends as well.
It's funny because Chihiro was more boyish back then than he is now, which causes him a bit of grief when someone doesn't realize he's not a girl.
"Are you holding up alright, Junpei-kun?" Koharu asks me.
"As well as I can be, I guess," I reply.
"That's good," Chihiro says, "Everyone in school is worried about you, you know."
"Yeah, I figured. The accident happened in front of the school, after all," I say.
They both nod.
"Wait, isn't it class time?" I ask.
"Lunch time, actually," Koharu says, "We're only gonna be here for a short while."
"Alright, well..." I say, smiling, "Thanks for dropping by."
"You're welcome, Junpei-kun. We're glad you're safe," Chihiro says.
We chat for a while.
"Chihiro-kun, we should get going," Koharu eventually says.
"Right, Chihiro says, "See you later, Junpei-kun."
"See you guys. Thanks for dropping by."
They leave right as the doctor enters.
A few weeks pass, and I'm now standing in front of the gates to my school. The doctor said it was another miracle that I recovered with no long term complications. I should be relieved about that, but after what the mysterious figure said, I wasn't surprised at the outcome.
I sigh, before heading through the school gates. I run into Chihiro and Koharu at the shoe lockers, and we head to class together.
Class 2-1. The the classroom sign hangs over the door, and we enter.
"Junpei-kun! You're back!" I classmate calls, and soon I'm being crowded around.
"Thank god you're alive!"
"Must have been so boring at the hospital, huh?"
"What was it like to be hit by a car?"
"Are you planning to sue?"
Oy, oy. What were those last two questions.
"Guys, I can't..." I start, but the room suddenly opens and the teacher walks in.
The questions stop abruptly as everyone scrambles back into their seats.
"Looks like I missed quite a party," she says gruffly, before locking her eyes on me.
"Glad to see that you're back with us, Junpei-kun," she continues, "But next time, if you're going to cause a ruckus, don't do it right before class starts, understand?"
"Yes, ma'am... sorry..." I reply. The three of us head to our seats.
Nobody plays around while Shiizaki-sensei is around.
"Anyway... before we start, I know it's a bit late in the year, but we've got a new student joining us today," Shiizaki-sensei says.
A transfer student? In June? That's weird...
"Come on in," she calls out to the hallway.
>Who could it be? (Roll 1d8)
Posted 10 August 2016 - 10:27 PM
>Who could it be? (8)
"Yes, ma'am!" a voice calls from the hall. The door opens and a girl walks in to the front of the class.
"Nice to meet you all!" she says, with a mix of professionalism and enthusiasm, "I'm Tsujihara Asami. I look forward to working with all of you!"
She bows, and Shiizaki-sensei claps.
"Welcome to the class. We'll talk after school about catching up on your studies," she says, "For now, you can take that free seat next to Sasaki-san."
That's my name.
Right, the seat next to me is empty, isn't it?
Asami walks up to me, and our eyes meet for a few seconds. She smiles briefly before sitting down next to me.
"Now... since it's almost July, that means exams are coming up," Shiizaki-sensei continues, to which the class collectively groans.
"Yeah, yeah, it sucks, but it's important, now..."
Homeroom passes without incident.
After classes end, lunch time comes around.
"Yo, Junpei-kun! Lunch is upon us!" Koharu says cheerfully, walking up to me with Chihiro in tow.
"Back to the routine, huh?" I ask, "I missed that."
I stand, following the two. We're about the walk out of the classroom, when.
"Um, excuse me!" someone calls. I turn around. It's Asami.
"Tsujihara-san?" I ask.
"Actually, if it's okay with you, can I join you for lunch?" she asks.
Koharu, Chihiro and I look at each other.
"We'll defer this decision to you, Leader," Koharu says with a barely perceptible sly grin.
Leader, huh? Now that's a name I haven't heard in a long time.
I turn back to Asami.
>Let her join
>Don't let her join
Posted 11 August 2016 - 03:45 AM
"I don't mind at all. You're more than welcome to join us," I say.
"Really? Thank you!" Asami replies.
We head out, with Asami in tow, to our regular location. There's a small garden next to a pond near the edge of the campus, and we've chosen that as our usual lunch spot about a month into our first year here.
"Wow, a place like this exists on the campus, huh?" Asami muses, as she looks around the garden.
"Yep, this is our usual lunch spot. Popular enough among the student body, but never enough that it gets too crowded to sit," Koharu chimes in. Meanwhile, Chihiro sets a picnic blanket down on the green.
"Alright, let's eat!" he says, clapping his hands.
We all sit down on the blanket and take out our lunches.
"Ooh, a well made bentou as always, huh, Chihiro-kun?" Koharu says, eyeing his lunch. She swiftly nabs one of his tamagoyaki and stuffs it in her mouth.
"Geez, Koharu-chan... can't you just eat your own food?" Chihiro asks.
"I can't help it! The stuff you make always tastes so good!" Koharu replies.
While this is happening, I quietly eat my own food.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Koharu peeking at Asami's bentou. I follow her lead.
It's very utilitarian, I notice. Everything is very neatly packed in, without any additional flair or garish.
"Hmm?" Asami says, noticing two pairs of eyes on her.
"Oh, don't mind me," Koharu says, and I notice her chopsticks inching toward Asami's bentou.
I stretch my leg out, my foot hitting Koharu's shin.
"Ow! What the heck, Junpei-kun?" she asks me, grabbing at her shin in pain.
"Chihiro is fine," I say, "But don't take Asami's food."
"Huh? Why am I fine?" Chihiro asks me.
"Because you guys are best friends," I say, taking a bite of my fish.
"Fair enough, I guess," Koharu says, reaching for Chihiro's lunch again.
"Come on, Koharu-chan..." Chihiro mumbles.
Asami giggles a bit.
"You guys are great friends, aren't you?" she says.
"Well, we've only known each other for about twelve years," I state.
"Twelve years, huh?" Asami says, before looking down, "It must be nice having friends like that..."
"Do you not have childhood friends?" I ask.
She shakes her head.
"I've just... never had a chance to," she says.
Koharu, Chihiro and I look at each other, then at Asami.
Suddenly Koharu puts her arm around Asami.
"Hwa! Hisayuki... -san?" Asami asks quietly.
"Nope, it's Koharu-chan, now! We'll be your friends, no problem!" Koharu states.
"That's right. You can call us your friends," Chihiro chimes.
I simply nod my head and smile approvingly.
"Thank you... guys..." Asami whispers, smiling.
"So, Asami-san, why did you transfer in so late?" I ask.
"Huh? Well... I moved in from the other side of town," she says.
"Really?" Koharu asks.
"Yup," she says.
Her parents must have moved for a job or something.
The pre-class bell rings, signalling that classes will resume soon.
"Oh, that's the bell. We should head back," I say. The others nod, and we pack up.
Afternoon classes end.
"Oh, that's right," Shiizaki-sensei says, "Sasaki-san, can you stay for a few minutes?"
"Huh?" I ask.
"There's something I need to ask of you," Shiizaki-sensei says.
I sit back down. I look to Koharu, who shrugs.
"We'll see you later," Chihiro says, and they leave. Soon, the classroom empties, and the other people left in the room are me, Shiizaki-sensei, and Asami.
Ah, is this about catching Asami up on her studies?
"Alright, Sasaki-san, you..." Shiizaki-sensei says.
"Yeah, I think I understand already," I say. Throughout the first year, I've had many people ask me for help with their studies. It happened so frequently that even the teachers took notice.
I always knew it would come down to this.
"Hmm. Then I guess I'll keep this short," Shiizaki-sensei says, "Tsujihara-san. Sasaki-san will be the one catching you up with your studies. It won't be too much of a hassle I'm sure, looking at your previous academic history."
Asami nods, then turns to me, smiling.
"Just go over what you're missing with Sasaki-san and he'll take over from there," Shiizaki-sensei finishes, before leaving the classroom.
Now it's just the two of us.
"Um... heehee... I didn't think you'd be the one tutoring me," Asami says.
"Perhaps tutoring is a strong word, but yeah, I guess I'll be helping you out here," I reply.
Now... where should we go to study? We need some place that's quiet, where not many people would be at this time.
>The back garden
>Right here is fine