InoBato: Volume 1 Chapter 5
Chapter 5: Crane Game, A Universal Theory
Lunchtime of a certain day.
After buying a can of Black Coffee from the vending machine in front of the cafeteria, I began walking around while showing off as ‘someone who only drinks their coffee black’ towards the passer-by.
While aimlessly wandering around holding onto the can instead of putting it away in my pocket, I found Sayumi-san near a staircase.
She’s talking to an unfamiliar girl. I first assumed that she was her friend, but hostility between them said otherwise. I could feel the tension between them even from a distance.
After waiting for a moment the unfamiliar girl left and Sayumi-san heaved a tired sigh. I went over to her and inquired.
“Was that your friend just now?”
“Rather than a friend. That person just now was Student Council president Mirei Kudo-san.”
Is that so. That was the first time I saw her. I didn’t really care so I didn’t know that our Student Council president was such a beauty.
“If that person was the Student Council president then the reason why the conversation just now looked bad was because of...”
“As you have guessed it, it’s about the Literature Club.”
I did hear that the Literature Club was being marked by the Student Council. As the club president, it could be that Sayumi-san was being troubled without us knowing.
“For agents of ‘those guys’ to use such underhanded methods instead of fighting us head on. What a cautious and troublesome opponents they are.
“It seems so.”
“But whatever power the enemies have got, in front of my <Dark and Dark> all will turn to being ash regardless.”
“Right, like protein.”
Sayumi-san’s reply was incredibly negligent. Her eyes were telling me that she was ‘Pissed off’ so I switched back to my normal mode.
“They won’t shut down the club right?”
“That won’t be a problem. But maybe it would be a good idea if we end the club activities earlier.”
“Ah, we do stay here until it’s late quite often.”
It’s just that we spend a lot of time in there without any of us realising it.
It’s just that the clubroom is so comfortable.
“Besides that, we also have to think of activities apart from the literature magazine we publish once a year.”
For that reason the club activity after school was.
“So who’s got an idea for a new activity? !”
For some reason I get to be the host in this kind of situations so I asked everyone this question. But no one raised their hand.
“Even if you say activities, I’m not really up for it.”
Leaning back on her chair, Tomoyo spoke. Hatoko was resting her chin on the table and said ‘Yeah~’ and agreed with her.
“I don’t particularly want to do any activities~ I just wanna laze around like always~”
“Hey you lazy pigs!... is what I want to say but I’m with you guys.”
To tell you the truth, I really didn’t want to do anything. I joined this club because I didn’t want to do anything. So now that they are telling us to do something, there’s no motivation at all.
When I was looking around with a glassy stare, my eyes met with Chifuyu, holding onto her Lissun.
“Today’s conversation has got nothing to do with you right, Chifuyu-chan.”
It might be easy to forget this but, Chifuyu isn’t a member of this club. Obviously, she did not participate in the last year’s Literature Magazine either.
But Chifuyu then pouted looking like she was dissatisfied.
“Uuu- That’s not true.”
“I don’t like that Chifuyu is left out.”
She pouted like she was a little angry.
C-Cute… Woah, what is this cute creature….
I just wanna take her home with me and cuddle her everyday before going to bed!
“I’m so sorry Chifuyu. That’s right, our Chifuyu is also part of the Literature club.”
“However-- Chifuyu Himeki. Have you made your resolve? Once you become our comrade, you won't be able to return to your world where the sun shines. So are you willing to fall with us?”
“Then I’ll pass.”
Quickly refused. It looks like Chifuyu is a Japanese who can say ‘NO’. At this rate she won’t have any problems dealing with one of those weird door-to-door salesman.
“Then shall we think of something that Chifuyu-chan can participate in.”
Sayumi-san said to conclude the conversation.
When I thought for a moment, I came across an idea.
“How about we do a relay novel this time too? We had a lot of fun last time we did it”
It’s a good idea if I say so myself. In the past it used to be just the four of us in the club, but I think it shouldn't be a problem if we add Chifuyu to make it five of us this time.
“If we set a theme and after doing some editing, publish it as a Literature Magazine, than I think it’ll be an activity that’s quite like literature club's… eh?”
When I came to my senses, i saw that other three high schoolers were making uncomfortable faces.
“W-What’s wrong guys?.”
“We just remembered the Relay novel we did last time ….”
“Tomoyo… Wh? It was fun right?”
What is this about. I hurriedly looked at other’s reactions. Both Sayumi-san and Hatoko were nodding their heads in agreement with Tomoyo.
“For example, Do you remember the round where you were the last person.”
Hmm, let’s see. If I remember correctly…
First Sayumi-san wrote about a meeting between Satomi, a girl who had an incurable illness and Yuuki, a boy with a broken dream. The setting had a cliché feeling, but the fated meeting between these two had paved a potential for a sad story.
Next Hatoko wrote about their comical everyday lives. There wasn't much progress, but it feels like Yuuki being slowly attracted to Satomi is well displayed.
Then Tomoyo wrote about Satomi’s condition getting worse. By portraying Yuuki’s failed past without any fault, she had managed to write out ‘Yuuki’s Past’ that Sayumi-san had foreshadowed beautifully. After overcoming his past, Yuuki sneaks into Satomi’s hospital room.
“... Then it was your turn to write .”
“The possible settings from then were… for a miracle to happen and the girl survives, or the girl dies as expected, it’s between these two right?”
“Well, generally stories out there in the public having a setting about incurable diseases have similar endings.”
“And what did you do?”
“It turns out that Satomi is heiress of a dark household who have inherited a power of gods <Neo Ragnarok> from the ancient times, and that her incurable disease was just a symptom of that power awakening. And Yuuki, who had been incarnating for countless generations, but had lost his memories, finally managed to recollect his past. To save his lover from his previous lives he fights with his life on the line. The story becomes something supernatural.”
“Why did you drag a story that had ‘It’s a great story~’ feel to a Chuuni battle!? ”
“I just thought that such a common story was boring.”
“Just because it’s original, doesn't mean it’s good!”
“What~? I thought it was great.”
Satomi [Please…Kill me while I can still get a hold of myself. If you don’t, my <Neo Ragnarok> will destroy the world. Hurry!]
Yuuki [It cannot end like this. I’ve finally found you after all…]
Satomi [Please kill me, and become a hero that saved the world...]
Yuuki [You or the world, so I can’t save both, but only one…]
“[Collapsing world! Fast approaching final battle! Flowing tears! Boiling emotions! What will the boy pick, the world or the girl, or… To be continued.]”
“Stop it! Don’t use [Our fight has only just begun, The End] scenario when you’re the last person!”
“Well I can’t help it right? Satomi’s <Neo Ragnarok> is so powerful that nothing can be done. It’s inflation you know, inflation.” <TN all of our TL have given up on this section. Fuck you Ando>
“It’s nothing but you yourself in the middle of an absurd scenario.”
“Maybe this is what they call ‘Characters move on their own’.”
“Are you sure you didn’t meant ‘Did not go according to foreshadowing’?”
“Always with the criticism… It’s fine, Foreshadowing comes alive when you don't follow through and throw it out of the window. How many works do you think that actually go through with what were foreshadowed?”
“A-After saying things too awkward to argue...”
Maybe she’s got something in her mind, Tomoyo didn’t argue about my point. But she then changed the topic and hurled a complaint towards me.
“After the result of that absurd relay novel, we decided that Ando shouldn’t be left for the ending, so we decided to make Ando go first.”
“Ah yeah true.”
Humanity, after being defeated and chased out from the surface of the Earth by newly evolved lifeform <Arsgear>, they now live underneath the surface in a place called <Paradise>. There, the society is dictated by a government by the name of [Central Committee].
To reclaim the surface from <Arsgear>, the Central Committee has combined magic and mechanical engineering and created new combat style called Armoured Magecraft.
The ones who pilot these are called Armoured Mages.
Our main character is Signa L, attending the school to raise such pilots. Signa has been labeled as a failure around the school, but his combat ability is well beyond the level of any students. In the past, Signa was subjected to a secret experiment ran by the Central Committee, thus in his body lies the gene of <Arsgear>. Due to his dark past, if his emotions get the good of him he won’t be able to suppress the power himself. That’s why in normal life he acts as a failure and avoids conflict.
But the ones who took interest in him were a group of rebels who have opposed the rule of [Central Committee] known as [ZEED] and a religious group who believe that <Arsgear> is the ruler of this world [Azure Flame Alliance]. <red> TN 蒼炎會 in kanji/chinese> </ref>
[ZEED] who are trying to recruit main character as one of their force, who are trying to use the main character as a bridge between the humankind and <Arsgear> and finally [Central Committee] who have started to make their own move.
Signa’s tainted fate begins with a fatefull encounter with a nameless girl.
[You are a man! Then go and save like a world or something!]
A boy who’s been avoiding conflict until now, he heads toward a battlefield just for this girl who had saved him---
“What do you want us to do with this complicated back story.?!”
“Just do something with it, that’s the real fun of Relay Novel.”
“Impossible! Isn’t this that kind of setting where if this was a Light Novel it’ll easily take 20 volumes isn’t it?! For sure first volume will be dedicated just on the character introduction right?!” Actually for the beginning of Relay Novel it might have been too much. It’ll be asking too much of me if someone told me to write the next part.
“... Whatever that sounds fun always give us a headache...”
“Oh really? You think it’ll be fun?”
“D-Definitely not! S-Seriously not at all!”
It’s true that Tomoyo is an excellent comrade that can understand me. But not wanting to accept this, Tomoyo kept raising her voice.
“If we start the Relay Novel with such a chuuni setting then the ending will be such a horrific scene!”
“... Well, the probability of the setting getting out of control, I can’t say it’ll be low.”
“It’s positive, probability is 100%”
“I’ll just say that probability is comparable to the probability that when a main character and a heroine from Light Novel go out just with two of them, the destination will be the Crane Game at the arcade.”
“So what’s the probability then?!”
That’s right. Why is it that in a Light Novel, they always go to an arcade just to play that Crane Game? That’s definitely a wrong date plan.
The probability of the girl being sick of the date after you invest huge amount of money in fit of anger because you couldn’t win anything is way too high
That happened before when Hatoko and I went to an arcade before...
Getting all gloomy after remembering the painful past, Sayumi-san started her special commentary.
“The the main demographics of the Light Novels, the chances of these people having trouble imagining a date with opposite sex might be high. In that regard an arcade will be a familiar place. Using the crane game to show off the main character’s special ability and his thoughtfulness, and furthermore show that our dignified heroine has girly side to her who can be wooed with cute stuffed dolls. I guess you can say it is used to hit these two effects.”
…… As usual it was a commentary devoid of any hopes and dreams but I can agree with that.
Amazing, these crane games.
Combining three [Awakening], [Crane game], [Power of Friendship], let us call these the Holy Trinity of Light Novel.
Explanation for <Power of Friendship> will be for next time.
“Crane game eh~ Now i think about it, I haven’t gone in awhile~.”
Hatoko said to me in a joyful tone.
“You know, I still kept that teddy bear Ju-kun spent 5000 Yen on without losing it till now~.”
Old wound was reopened by an innocent blade.
... … Hatoko. This might be a good memory of yours that you can just laugh about, but to me it’s a memory that still accompanies a deep regret of mine …
When I was about to be beyond recoverable, Sayumi-san said ‘Let’s get back to the topic’ and took the lead.
“Anyway, for the subject of Relay Novel, conclusion is that from now on ‘Ando-kun won’t participate’, does everyone agree?”
I’ve been unanimously outcasted. What is this public bullying…
“But in reality. I think it’ll be hard to create Relay Novel. These type of composition is usually best between friends.”
“That’s true. Even the ones we’ve done in the past were mostly things only we would understand. Do we need to change the method then… Any ideas Hatoko?”
Tomoyo turned to Hatoko. After folding her arm and groaning for a bit, Hatoko clapped like she thought of something.
“Tomoyo. In other words, we just don’t want literature club to be scolded by the Student Council president right?”
“Yeah. the reason we are searching for new activities is just for that one reason, and not it’s true intentions.”
“Then let’s just beg the student council president. “Please just cut us some slack~” like this.”
That response was something totally amiss, but at the same time a revolutionary idea, an ethereal idea just something Hatoko would think of.
Tomoyo’s face said she can’t even respond to that idea.
“Hatoko… that’s, well?”
“That’s right, Hatoko. Student Council President is one of ‘Their’ minions. To bow our head to them even as a temporal solution, my pride won’t let me do such a thing.”
“You just be quiet Ando.”
“Uu~ I thought it was a nice idea~”
“Hmm, but Hatoko’s idea has also got it’s own merits. Instead of following other’s opinions, we can cause an action from completely different angle.”
After thinking for a bit, I thought of a brilliant idea.
“Okay, Tomoyo. Commence hacking of Student Council president's PC! We must find all of her weaknesses!”
“As if i could do that!!”
“Ah, you can’t?”
“What’s up with that surprised face?!”
“But the only thing you do is play around with that computer of yours.”
“Even so how can I even hack! There’s no High school student who has that kind of super ability!”
“There are a lot in manga and anime. Surprising amounts too. Genius cracker <?hacker> who happen to be a Highschool student, or brilliant inventor at High School age.”
“What’s up with you. Since you always carry around that stupid computer of yours, so I was hoping that you had hidden skill like that… Haaaa…..”
“Stop being disappointed! What have i done wrong?!”
Having a conversation with Tomoyo like that, I suddenly remembered something.
I remembered her half-brother Kiryu-san.
Thinking back, that person was also a member of literature club in that past. Maybe he also had a dilemma about the same things like us right now.
When I was thinking about that without any thoughts, I felt a gaze from the side. Looking at the source, I saw Sayumi-san had approached my face and had been observing this side of my face.
“Ahh! W-What is it? Sayumi-san.”
“... I can smell something.”
“Fujoshi sensor inside me has activated.”
“Fujoshi sensor?! What the hell is that?!”
“Girls have that kind of thing in them.”
I sent a ‘really?’ gaze toward Tomoyo. She quickly shook her head.
Sayumi-san then proclaimed confidently.
“Ando-kun. It looks like you are in love with a fellow man!”
I’m shocked at the sudden proclamation. What is this person even saying?
“Over the few days, it feels like you have become much more adult like. Unlike before, it’s like there is a charm of immorality reeking from you.”
“I- Is that so…?”
“You are in love and have the charm of an adult on you.”
Sayumi-san is spouting nonsense. Quite unusual actually.
But why is it that, even though I’m getting praised by a girl, I feel a little bit unhappy?
“Ando-kun. Have you perhaps had a meeting with a handsome man recently?”
“Well, if we are talking about meetings, I did have a fated meeting with a handsome guy…”
“Fated?!” “No! Not the fated one girl's love, but the fated one chuunis love!”
Oh crap! Without paying attention, I admitted to being chuuni.
“...Cut me some slack Sayumi-san. It’s true that I do love him, think about him whenever I’m bored, wonder things like ‘If it were him, would he like it?’ whenever I come up with aliases while remembering him, and think deeply about how I want to meet and talk with him again, but…”
“If that isn’t love, then what is?!”
“What?! It’s true!”
This is love!
I have fallen in love with Kiryu-san!
Surprisingly, I myself didn’t even know about my own feelings.
“...Wow, So I have fallen in love with a guy... I am... I am...”
I fell to the floor on my knees in despair. Suddenly, a hand was gently placed on my shoulder. When I lifted my face, Sayumi-san smiled like a godmother.
“Ando-kun. There is nothing to be ashamed of. No, it’s ok to be embarrassed. The thing known as love is embarrassing for anyone of any age.”
“Sayumi-san… I was wrong. Until now, I wasn’t honest with myself. I, I, actually like––”
In an instant, my body suffered countless blows. Not consecutive blows, but perfectly simultaneous blows. A rush of more than 10 retorts was instantly felt without even the tiniest space between each.
This is a stunt only the girl who can control time can do.
“Guh… [Closed Clock], you bastard! You used [Instant Jail]...”
Let me explain!
[Instant Jail] is a retort rush finishing move that can only be activated when Tomoyo Kanzaki’s stress exceeds a certain threshold.
...It doesn’t do any damage, but is not used in the everyday life, so it make you feel bad!
“You guys! It’s fine to fool around, but don’t involve someone else’s big brother!”
“I, It’s not like I like your big brother or anything!”
“Don’t do a tsundere act!”
“Yeah, well… Sorry about that. It’s just fooling around as usual, so forgive us. Right, Sayumi-san? You weren’t serious about what you said either, right?
“That’s right. It was just a joke, so don’t take it seriously. I am not the type of fujoshi who would confuse real life with delusions. ...Tch.”
Huh. Did she just click her tongue at the end? Hey, she discreetly clicked her tongue right?
“Tomoyo-chan’s big brother?”
Hatoko made a wondering face.
“Ju-kun. You have met Tomoyo-chan’s big brother?”
Oh crap. In the flow of the conversation, we accidentally brought up Kiryu-san.
It’s not like Tomoyo forbid me from speaking about him, but when thinking about the complicated circumstances around the Kanzaki family, I thought it was best not to let the others know about it and kept silent about it.
“It’s fine. In fact, I don’t like it more when you are being too considerate of me.”
Tomoyo didn’t care too much and explained it in short to everyone with “I met Ando by chance some time ago”.
“Hmm. What is Tomoyo-chan’s big brother doing? Is he a university student? A worker?”
At the casual small talk, Tomoyo’s expression froze.
Hey you, that’s a taboo word…
“H, He is, um… Free...dom?”
He is not even a part-time worker. That reminds me, he told me he got fired.
“In other words, Ando-kun is in love with your big brother…! What an incredible thing. I expect some muddy development like the ones in soap operas.”
“What the hell are you saying with your eyes all sparkly Sayumi-san?!”
“Ju-kun… It can’t be… Ju-kun, likes, that guy…?”
“Why the hell are you making a face like the world is gonna end?!”
“Ju-kun, even though you promised a long time ago… ‘When I grow up, I will––”
“Ah, did I say something like ‘Make you my wife’? That was just some children’s talk...”
“––When I grow up, I will awaken you, release your inner power, and let you live your new life as the immortal bird of darkness!’ is what you promised me…”
“Did I say something like that?!”
No, it sounds like something I would say! It sounds like a cool thing I would say!
And like this, our clubroom became noisy.
In the middle of the noisy uproar, the girl who had been spacing out from the beginning to the end, muttered with a flat voice.
“What will be the new activity of this club?”
The three high schoolers all went silent at once.
It was the picture of a grade schooler correcting the path of high schoolers.
The conversation strayed off from the subject and in the end, we didn’t reach any conclusion.
In this club, it was a common occurrence.
Although our meeting continued after that, but it ended without us finding any good ideas.
“Let’s call it a day. Everybody let’s hurry home quickly, if we go past the school time too much our already bad reputation will get worse.”
At Sayumi-san’s urge everyone hurriedly started to pack up. Everyone hastily put the notebook and pencil case that were used for the meeting back into their bag.
Just then… I saw an end of the black notebook in the middle of the table.
This dark thing was [Bloody Bible]?
Eh? Did i take out my [Bloody Bible] from my bag today?
“Ju-kun hurry hurry~”
“Yeah i’m coming.”
For now i shoved my [Bloody Bible] into my bag and left the club room. I ran towards Hatoko and rest of the gang walking next to each other.
That’s that… but it was unexpected that we were unable find any solution.
I’ve got a feeling that we just finished our day without achieving anything again.
“You know~ Ju-kun.”
When the mood was getting sober, Hatoko poked her face in front of mine and smiled brightly.
“It was fun today too right~?”
That face, was genuinely smiling from happiness.
“... That is so” and I just laughed.
Today’s Literature club activities were… as usual.
It may be worthless, but it does mean something.
That is our activity.
There was no reason to find new activity.
All we have to do was stand up and proudly say that we’re doing something.
We will not let anyone say that this club is ‘useless’
Be it Student Council president, or God, or Dio-sama…
“... Wait. Maybe Dio-sama is still too much?”
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