Rainbow of the Horizon—Illuminating Our Darkened Path | Our World
It was a very powerful meow. He was already prepared for the situation, and even sitting in between two auras of extreme awkwardness. While Shiro hesitated to take a seat, he once again meowed.
But even if the two are not currently on terms, both of them don't have any idea what is going on, for Haku to pull them in together, using his furry self as bait. Several had pointed it out already, but Haku's intelligence is finally surfacing up. Finally, Shiro sat down.
What were the cat’s intentions—no one knew. However different his mind runs from the majority of the felines, there was no one to comprehend what is on his mind. People can only speculate, since he is and is only a cat. Or at least that is how hoomans perceive him. But if Mato and Kyohei's claim was true, then there will be a huge change to the game.
"U-Umm…" Nagi started. "I've been meaning to ask you, Haku… No, not like you can actually understand-"
A geniune glare then directed towards him.
"…! S-Sorry… Can you actually understand what I am saying?"
In response, he nodded constantly and lied down on fours afterwards. He closed his eyes from taking a consecutive look on the two, but his ears are still up.
Weirdly as it is, Nagi began to think that their quarrel had come to a point where even a cat had decided to mediate between them. And that what majority of people will think is not down to earth, is now actually is.
"N… Nagi… Are you really going to be okay with it… with the possibility of us moving…?"
The question that Shiro uttered still had a hint of being forced, but she thought that it was miles better than keeping herself silent.
Without looking at her eyes, he honestly responded. "It is sort of evident that I'm not really fine with it with the way I snapped. But there can be no better time for me to apologize for what I did…
I have no excuses… All I wanted at that time was letting all my sentiments out. I was honestly hurt when I heard about it. But I'm still scared to face your parents… I don't know if I can really hold my head high in front of them…"
Shiro's fists tightened on her somewhat weighted, heavy knees. It was not immediately seen in the dark, but her tears began to fall.
"You… You're not going to ask me whether I'm okay with it or not…?
Of course I can never be okay with it…!
I'm scared of everything repeating again… I hated being in Cobalt because I'm always betrayed by what I thought were my friends… But I went there in Blue Ink, and I finally found my happiness there… I don't want those genuine memories to just disappear… I still want to be part of the happiness I'm feeling…
I don't want to leave… I don't want to leave all of you…"
"Is this… how Shiro truly feels…?"
He was left dumbfounded after finally realizing what he didn't. But a jolt in his mind struck him. It was not only their relationship that is concerning Shiro's feelings. The sincere friendship that she sought for finally came to her grasp, and it was painful for her to even imagine herself growing apart to the people that gave their trust to her, and to whom she placed her trust. It has become clear to Nagi what was ought to be done.
"Come here, I'll lend you a shoulder."
The sudden tackle of the girl made Haku move from where he was resting. Still in tears, Shiro clung to Nagi's chest as he gently stroke her hair, in an attempt to make her calm down.
"If there is at least one time for me to do something, I can't promise you that I can convince or persuade your parents, but I can at least talk to them and reach out.
Shiro… please let me prove something, so that I can confidently say that I'm someone important to you—that I'm someone you can give your complete trust."
"You don't have to tell me… I really, really need you… all of you…"
The night has become quiet, but it was immediately broken by another deep meow. A paw slowly tapped Nagi's knee twice, and without any sound Haku walked away, opening the door and leaving with a nod. And it was as Nagi expected, that Shiro had fallen asleep.
Rin was woken up by the rattling sound, revealing Shiro being carried on Nagi's arms.
Although Rin's sight was still not entirely clear, she had perceived it and mumbled, "You know… if I was Potato, I would be feeling a sense of deja vu right now…"
She wrapped herself back in the blanket and continued sleeping.
And the rest that happened was indeed some sort of a deja vu. However, Gin who then sat together with Mato and Kyohei did not know what was going on. It was ultimately quiet, yet they weren't able to hear a thing. The sleepwalker however came back to the guest room with Haku already in deep slumber.
▪ ▪ ▪
The sun may have risen clearly, but the club woke up on a minute problem.
Kyohei, her sister and Mato are all standing in the kitchen.
"Mato-san… We really shouldn't have drunk last night…"
"I'm very sorry…"
"The industrial refrigerator is full, right? Where will we put them, then?" Yuzuri tapped her foot.
Nonetheless, Mato wore an apron and took out a knife. "I have to make breakfast anyway, so it should lessen the contents of the fridge."
Rin, being the first person to wake up caught the predicament while the teacher is handling a tamagoyaki pan. Having a prior thought, she expected that some other two might be getting up late. She entered the living space with the owner sighing.
"Good morning. Is something wrong, Kyohei-san?"
"There is…" he pointed out the fridge in the public kitchen. "I forgot to defrost this, and the industrial one is still full. If I can't find somewhere cold to place the inside of this fridge, then they will spoil otherwise. Hahh…"
"Can I see?" she then opened it and pondered something on her mind.
"Kyohei-san," she called, "can you wait until Gin has woken up? I have an idea."
~ ~ ~
"So… you're saying Rin, we have to empty this refrigerator so it can be defrosted?" it was not long before he woke up. "Alright, I know a place where we can store them until such time."
"Though, I'll need a cooler so I can transport them. And I see that Mato is making tamagoyaki right there. We probably should eat first."
"Yeah, we can't have a weak Potato jumping on poles-"
Mato instinctively turned around and said, "You were saying something, Ringo?"
"N-N-Nevermind, Mato-sen…! I was just talking to myself…!"
With all that being said, Gin indeed jumped poles, but with caution since the sun is up, and that he can't afford to ruin the raw ingredients inside a cooler. However anxious he was, he successfully came back to his house and made her little sister make room in the fridge.
At the same time back in the inn…
A car door sounded outside the gate.
"Been a while. Hot springs again, finally…"
"Well, I guess I'll pick you up at the same time the club leaves, Akira."
Upon entering through the gate, he called out as he walked with a bag of clothes with him.
As he was walking towards where the reception area is, he saw a woman wearing a yukata under a ryokan haori, walking on the porch. Realizing who it was as she recognized the person, she called out.
"Ah, Mitsumi-san…! I didn't think I'd see you here!" he waved enthusiastically.
"Ah! Please don't run away!"
Like a wind, she suddenly ran away in panic after noticing Akira. She was surprised that someone recognized her, even in her true appearance as an adult. She knows for a fact that aside from Gin, Ringo, and Jean, no one knows about her occupation.
"Geez… I was about to explain…"
Nevertheless, he continued to look for the owner of the inn… until finishing his matters in the reception and going straight to greet him in the living area.
"Oh! You guys are here!"
"Akira?!" Ginji turned to him.
"We didn't know you're coming," said Rin.
"Let's just say that this is a surprise. Dad gave me a vacation so I'll be staying here until you guys are going to leave." Having another point to make, he nudged close to Rin and whispered, "More importantly, Ringo. Can you please call Mitsumi-san for me? She ran away when I met her earlier. And… why did I see Gin jumping over electric posts with a case of some sort?"
"Ahhh… He went back in his house for a bit since Kyohei-san asked a favor. And about Mitsumi-san, I'll look for her later."
Rin, completely unfazed, did not ask Akira how she recognized Ichika.
"Heyo. What're you whispering about with Rin?" Gin suddenly appeared.
"Woah, you're back already. I just saw you over poles minutes ago. That was fast."
"Already up to speed, huh.
Kyohei-san…! I'm back! The goods are all tucked neatly in one, dark and quiet place."
"Thank you, Gin-san!"
"Don't say those misleading stuff like you're some sort of a yakuza!" Mato grumbled upon hearing Gin.
"Anyway, thanks for having me in!"
Afterwards, the conflict that frightened Ichika was then cleared as Akira explained that being the principal's secretary means that he also knew about Anew, Yuzuri, and that Kaizo Ryuuya is going back in Blue Ink. She was relieved that she won't get fired in her dear job.
~ ~ ~
"Woah… so this is how much progress you've already made… I think three weeks is far too long a duration."
"Ah, no. Please don't say that if we're actually being sent back once we're done."
Right after Akira settled in on the inn, he asked if he can accompany us in our mural work, which is totally fine. It hasn't even been a few minutes, but he's already looking around it like a museum.
"I said that I'll be staying until you guys leave, right?
Oh, actually. Mato-sen, do you have spare materials? I want to spruce up a block myself."
He then handed out a variety of brushes to Akira and went back to his post.
"You're free to use any paint and airbrush here. No way I'll be telling you what to do from the very beginning, so you still better have an Art Club mind with you."
"You kid, Mato-sen. I oil my gears regularly.
By the way, Nacchi and Shiro sure are taking their sweet time. I already made a lot of noise and they're still not awake."
Rin's light bulb turned on.
"Well, Akira… I vaguely remember Haku waking up Shiro in the midnight, and then… was I dreaming or did I see Nacchi carrying Shiro back to our room?"
"Wait, what. That happened, Rin?"
"I don't really know, though. I was half-asleep."
Speaking of midnight, I was not very convinced with what the drinking adults told me last night, since I haven't observed a proof from them. But I remember asking the same thing Akira asked back in the inn, and I heard someone saying, "Just let those two have a date on their own."
I cannot be mistaken with what I heard. I comprehended the words loud and clear. There was no way that I was just hearing things. And yet, when I heard that, I heard Haku meowing at the same time.
"Mato… now that I recall, are you serious when you told me that you can understand what cats are saying?"
It seems that I caught everyone's attention.
"If you want a detailed explanation, I can give you one."
"Of course I want to hear. I'm intrigued!"
"Well, I don't know if you will believe this… Actually, it is still quite hard to explain since there's no official basis about it, but I guess it has something to do in my brain that lets me perceive what they actually wish to say. On the outside, I can still hear meows but it feels as if there is a secondary sound entering my ear, which what a cat says. But then again, the most that I hear are 'I'm hungry' or 'Sleeping is the best thing in the world'. So I was so surprised when Haku told us that he has something to do and that 'it's a secret, and better not know'. That cat is so smart.
Well, that was long. Did I sate your satisfaction, though?"
Oh, dear… So it's most likely that… I may have just heard Haku speak earlier…" I fidgeted.
"Hah?! You're saying that you heard him, even after more than a year of being under the same roof?"
"I-I think I did…"
Suddenly, something climbed up on my shoulder, and then I heard a…
I heard that very close to my ear… But it was not the only thing I heard. What I heard was…
"Yep, you really did."
I was taken by surprise. Calling it flinching was an understatement, as I launched my way eleven feet up. Haku held tight, needless to say.
"H-Haku?! You followed us here?"
"Meow. (Your reaction was funny when it lasted, but then I had to sneeze.)"
Having heard that gave a strong chill from my skull down to my feet.
"M-M-Mato… tell me you're hearing what he said…"
"I heard… So that was the gasping noise I was hearing earlier…"
"Meow. (Anyway, you finally heard me, huh. Took you long enough.)"
"AAAAAHHHHHH!!!! A cat's really talking to me like it's no one's business…! This is driving me insane…!"
I then fell to my knees while Haku still grasped on my back. Thus, I realized something after reflecting on what I just said.
"Wait… I'm already insane to begin with! No…!"
"Don't say such creepy things, Potato…!" Rin screamed sounding mad, while on the contrary is trembling in laughter.
"Meow. (Ringo-ojou, you're the creepy one to be laughing over the insanity of your boyfriend.)"
"BFFT…! Don't say that, Haku…! Ahahahaha…!"
Laughter is contagious.
But it seems that Mato is somehow enjoying this farce. "Ringo… that cat is calling you creepy… Pff."
Amidst of that, however, I realized some things that I then whispered to Haku.
However way I think of, talking to a cat is still utterly weird!
"Wait… You actually call Rin like that, and you know what a boyfriend is? No, now that I think about it, you said 'date' earlier."
"Meow. (I can at least say that I may have made them make up.)"
what the heck this cat is so amazing
I made so little of a progress because of Haku, being able to speak, and that I am actually able to understand him. It was astonishing to the point that I became a dried twig carried away by the wind. In any case, I really thought that the surprises of this world had come to a halt, but it still keeps going like a surge of nature.
I had thought of nature, and immediately looked up to the sky. The gray clouds have started to accumulate.
"Mato~! Do you think it's time to take a break from mural work?"
"What do you mean?"
"There's a typhoon, right?"
He went on a long pause, somewhat in a daze.
"Alright, let's pack up! We have to secure the wall properly for the storm."
"Seems like a load of heavy work…" Yuuga complained. "I don't even know how we can do that at this point."
Out of instinct, I looked at G who is also staring at me for a reason that might be linked to what I am thinking about. We walked towards each other and did a high five without saying a thing.
~ ~ ~
"Uhh… What are you guys going to do with these butt huge concrete nails?" asked Mato sarcastically.
To summarize, G and I volunteered to do the intensive labor, having understood the extent of each other's abilities to do the work. On the other hand, the others including Akira and Haku just sat in a bit of a distance and watched. In the end, Nagi and Shiro never came here.
Without further ado, we laid out the first tarp's two corners on the corner between the wall and the concrete walkway. In convenience, the tarps already had holes on their corners in which the nails fitted snug on prior inspection. With them finally being on the right place, I positioned myself, the hammer on my hand, and the nail through the hole.
Mori had a doubting expression, and so shared his opinion. "I don't think Gin can hammer that down…"
But Jean optimistically defended, "Those two are fine on their own."
"Hup…!" a loud hammering sound was produced after the swing I made and saw that the nail is completely buried with the head still able to be grasped.
"See that, Mori?" Rin turned to look at him.
"Why do you look so smug…?"
But it seems that my swing made the ground feel an impact. I was just so thankful that nothing cracked.
Having that thought aside, we took the opposite ends of the tarp and leaped on top of the wall, examining where the two of us can land on. Having found a space secured, we jumped down to the other side of the wall.
"Mum…! I'm outside Wall Maria!" G shouted.
Mato turned to look confusingly at the others while pointing his finger on the wall and shouted, "What's up with those two?!"
"Oh, they are perfectly in sync," said Jean, with a blank expression, similar to Akira and Rin.
"You three aren't even surprised, my word…!"
~ ~ ~
Thus, more than half of the sixty meter wall was covered neatly.
"With this, we would be fine while the storm is occurring!" I said, while shaking my hands together from the dust.
But while walking towards the others, G asked. "Why do they look more tired than us?"
I turned to them and saw Mato, Yuuga, and Mori's head spinning literally.
By the time of lunch, we walked our way back to the inn after the security of the murals was established. Upon entering the gate, we went towards a hose that is attached to a faucet while Rin made her way to take a soap and towels.
"We're back!" she shouted while walking towards the bathroom, and hear someone responding with a "welcome back".
"Of course those two will be awake. I really hope that those two really made up…
At least according to Haku…"
With clean feet and hands, we were finally able to safely walk on the wooden floor of the inn. None of our stomachs have rumbled yet, but it is not far to assume that all of us are thinking of food.
We were hearing a few voices before stopping in front of the living space. Jean then led and opened the slightly opened door with his foot after taking a peek.
Intentionally tiptoeing our way on cushions without making a sound, we watched the kitchen after establishing a seat. It did seem that our presence was not acknowledged by those in the kitchen. And so we listened to the blunder.
"Don't you think you minced too many onions, Nagi?"
"Huh? I think it's just enough. What about you? What's with that shower of black pepper?"
"We have addicts of black pepper in our club, you know."
"I really thought you were going to add sugar instead of salt, though. All that you think of is sweets."
"Oh, come on! You've seen me cook many times already!"
Haku whispered a meow, "(They're much fluffier than I am, Aruji.)"
"You're really calling me like that? But I agree," I whispered back.
"Is lunch finally ready~?" on a fawning smile while her chin is under her palms, Rin blatantly asked.
"EH?!" Nagi and Shiro detonated a blush bomb and hid behind the counter for no reason. They immediately stood up with bashful looks, however.
"Don't tease them yet, Rin."
▪ ▪ ▪
Don't talk when your mouth is full. So we did not, but still started a conversation and made explanations on various things. As what Haku have said earlier, the conflict between Nagi and Shiro was finally cleared up, and now they are back to their own pace after properly addressing it together to the club. And the other explanation was regarding with Haku and how Mato and Kyohei-san can talk to cats; and how I surprisingly became level with their league. Even Mato was taken aback that I was able to talk to him when I can't until today, but the others truly didn't seem to understand anything that he says.
And so, Akira found an opportunity to speak, which made us remember what our occupation truly is.
So he spoke.
"I'm actually relaying a message from the principal saying that he is expecting an update to everyone's individual school cloud drives. So I think it is a good opportunity to do your requirements while you're on break!"
Akira, being the secretary of the principal, is now sounding more like a teacher. Oh, responsibilities! On the serious note, I'm relieved that we are finally getting to balance our priorities.
"Ah, snap. So you can't make an erasure, huh.
Akira, are these quizzes made from Marco's language?"
When I realized that erasing is not allowed, I finally understood it. Our online assessments are made to actually be 100% cheat-free. If my assumption was correct, then it would make sense.
"Yep. Dad told me that."
So that's it. Just like it was nothing, Marco in the base made his own programming language where he is the only one that can understand how it works in the world, literally since it was made from scratch without the use of any basis. If that is the case, no one in this world aside from him—even if it was an expert hacker—can bypass and exploit for modification. And to add, he even created a development software for whatever he wants to program. This is… what can really be called as one of a kind.
And about the cloud drive, it is a cloud storage made exclusively for the school, and the administration has access to it irregardless of the security signed by the student. It sounds like one's privacy is at risk because of that, but the storage is strictly used for academic materials that are digital. Thus, anything that is uploaded that is not Blue Ink related is completely terminated from the servers.
Anyway, we managed to keep up with our school life for the rest of the day.
▪ ▪ ▪
Come the morning of the next day, and things are really not looking good. The rain hasn't yet turned into a downpour or torrential rain, but the wind sure was blowing hard. So I stepped out with a raincoat on since I am immune to a common cold and checked up on the condition of the tarps covering the wall. Actually saying that things aren't looking good might still be quite shallow, though. I would seriously be flying with the wind if not because of the endurance I've built up. I inferred that we are perhaps nearly under the eye of the storm. The wind is so surreal, if not destructive.
But thankfully, the covers are not budging at all. I made my way back to the inn safe and sound, but I don't know if everyone is. I then pulled out my phone and attempted to contact Anna through a video call. I don't think I've been this relieved to see the face of my little sister.
"Oh, thank goodness it connected… Anna, you there? You're still okay there, right?"
"How's the neighborhood? I can hear rainfall right now. Is it strong?"
"Quite… But it hasn't flooded here yet. Look."
She faced the camera of her phone to the window which showed the visibility of the rain and the road. It was already wet with the constant showers, but I saw no inundations.
"That's good to know. Remember the points I told you when things go bad, okay? If ever there's an urgent need for you to go outside, use the spare AMM coat I have there."
"Got it. I'll make sure nothing happens here."
"Thank you, Anna. I'll have to call Mom and Dad now, so take care."
"Hahh… that really got me worried…"
"I hope they will be fine there. I guess I'll have to call my parents too," Rin worried.
"We might actually have it worse. It looked like it's all rain without too much wind. While here in the mountains we're always at risk of power cutting off."
Nagi smirked, "It's gotten really cold, though."
"Wow, you still can say that, huh."
"Gin-kun, are you here?" Yuzuri-san appeared at the doorway.
"Yuzuri-san? What is it?"
"I got a message from the company."
"They still work even in this weather condition?"
After reading a message that is somewhat directed to me, I gathered everyone aside from G, Yuuga, and Mori. But in G's case, there is really not a need for him to be excluded. But nonetheless, the discussion began.
"Is that all of them, Gin-kun?"
"Why are we gathered anyway? Is something the matter, Yuzuri-san?" Mato asked.
"There is indeed. Our company and Blue Ink High had come to an agreement about the events from two years ago. But it seems that even Arlo-san was even kept in the dark."
"Ah, Yuzuri-san. At that point, only the principal knew about it."
"I see… So that's how it is.
In any case, I have someone to introduce to you. Although I am very much aware that Gin-kun, Ringo-san, Jin-san, and Juushiro-san already knows what I'm talking about.
You can come out now."
"Paisen… are you sure this won't get me fired…?" a voice from a small opening talked.
"Ugh! You've read the email five times already! Just come out now you stubborn little junior!"
"Ehhh… Paisen is being mean…"
"Hahaha. Mitsumi-san is such little kid," I teased.
The door slammed open, revealing herself while exclaiming in annoyance. "Who're you calling a little kid, you punk?!"
The ignorant three's eyes became a perfect circle and expanded beyond the boundaries of their faces. They still remembered the face—the face of Ichika Mitsumi, but as a high schooler. And yet, they are seeing an Ichika Mitsumi that is on her twenties.
"Ahaha! So Mitsumi-san has an older sister! Don't joke like that, Gin!" Nagi blankly laughed while pointing at her.
"Get real, Nagi Kajima."
"Is this cereal, Gin?!" he then exclaimed.
"Yes, and a bowl of milk!"
We had to wait for the three to calm down. But their eyes did not return to their normalcy.
Yuzuri-san began to speak.
"So apparently, Principal Juushiro negotiated with the Anew Company for this matter. Therefore the two of us are in front of you.
I asked to gather the people in direct contact with the observation subject Gin Sakato from the time when he was still in fourth year. And Arlo-san is also here since he is an educator of the school."
"So the Ichika Mitsumi from back then is the same Ichika Mitsumi here…"
"That's right, Mato. They are employees of Anew Company from Japan, while Mitsumi-san was one of the people in charge of Kaizo Ryuuya's observation. That means that all of the transferees from Japan in 2017 were affiliated to Anew."
"Wow… it's so like ReL*FE…" Shiro mumbled.
"Gin-kun… That's the only thing they can say when it comes to this, huh…"
"Please don't mind it, Yuzuri-san."
Mato however reasoned out, "It sounds like this is very confidential, so why put the risk of saying all of this?"
"We are increasing our company's transparency although very little, Mato-sensei," Mitsumi-san answered.
If that's the case then we have nothing more to say. It's good to meet you again, Mitsumi-san."
"Mato, it's actually rare to see her this docile."
"Agh…! You're so annoying, Gin-chan-san-kun!!!"
~ ~ ~
No matter how cold the temperature can be, it was not enough to satisfy our boredom, and the constant noise of the falling rain does not help either. The boring atmosphere had gotten so bad that even Kyohei-san was affected by it, and is now rolling around blankly.
Even I was getting depressed while I'm still worrying about what's going on back in our neighborhood. I'm scared that the windows in my and in my family's house might be done for again.
But there was a very fleeting thought that came to my mind which then shattered my boredom.
"I know…! You guys know about Spyfall right?!"
Hearing that, Nagi began fiddling on his phone. "It's the one that we played when we were in third year, right?"
"I know that too!" Rin raised her hand. "I've never been caught when I'm the spy!"
"Oh, that's good… We finally have something to do right now-"
Everything became dark.
Kyohei-san immediately grabbed a flashlight that dimly illuminated the big room.
"I think… there's a blackout…"
"Oh… I see… Hahahaha… I get it… Ahahahahaha…"
Meow. (Afterwards, he went and sat on a dark corner even when the electricity went back. Poor Aruji.)
That ends 057!
So yeah, this story has come from a man with a PTSD to a story with talking cats.
Thank you for reading!
058: Playing games and savoring the present.