Queen of Dodge!
The following day at practice the entire team stood in a line on one side of the court as Renataro stood across from them. They then dashed towards at extreme speed before they each grabbed a ball and threw them at him. Rentaro looked around at the balls that had been thrown. His life seemed to slow down and soon several physics, sciences, and maybe equations formed. He could see who threw what ball, how they threw their own ball, and what methods he could use to avoid them. He advanced towards them and stepped to the side and watched one fly past him. As he approached the next one he lifted it slightly before throwing it back. He grabbed the next ball he came to and knocked them aside before throwing the one in his hand.
The two balls he threw each hit one of the team members before bouncing off of them and taking out the rest of them. “Hm,” Rentaro said as he lifted her hand to his chin to think, “You know, I think I know what’s going on here.” He looked at his teammates who all groaned and got themselves off the floor, “You all lack any actual formal training, at least when it comes to dodgeball. Except for maybe Daisuke, even so, he’s still a bit off.”
“What?! But we’ve been training every day since we got here!” Gaoma said,
“I don’t doubt that,” Rentaro said, “However, you all just seem to be aimlessly throwing the balls and jumping around hoping to not get hit.”
“Well, it’s not exactly our fault…” Daisuke said with a sigh, “We don’t exactly have a coach.”
“You don’t?” Rentaro responded,
“Nope,” Daisuke said, “We’ve never once actually won a game, so the school doesn’t exactly have the time or budget for a coach.”
“I see,” Rentaro said, “So, starting today we’re going to do formal training. Minamimōto tells me that your qualification match is in a few weeks. So we’ll do our hardest to train.”
“Speaking of Choki-San, where is she?” Ryusuke asked,
“Hm?” Rentaro looked around before saying, “I don’t actually know. I could’ve sworn she came in with me.” He sighed before then saying, “Either way, let’s start with some training and conditioning.”
“What do you suggest?” Yaguchi asked,
“We’ll start with Pacers.” Rentaro said, “You’ll run from one side of the gym to the other. You’ll go back and forth along the short way, you’ll touch the line on each side and go back and forth.”
“Oh, that sounds easy!” Pacho said, “How many do we have to do?!”
“A successful Pacer would be 100.”
“Wh-What?!” Pacho then said, totally shocked, “How is that possible?!”
“It’s not that hard, even so, doing dodgeball is essentially like doing half of a pacer. You’re always running from one side of the court to the middle and back again.” Rentaro said, “Now then, let’s get in a line and start!” The team gave a dull groan before they all lined up on one side of the gym. Rentaro then picked up a stopwatch from the sports equipment and said, “Alright, ready…” He then clicked the stopwatch before saying, “Go!”
As the team started to do their pacers Minami eventually walked into the gym, “Hey! Sorry, I’m late!” She said before she ran over to Rentaro, “What are they doing?”
“They lack formal training,” Rentaro said, “I’m having them do Pacers.”
“Oh, uh, well, do we need to go that hard on them?”
“Do you not want them to win?”
“I do, I just figured that maybe…everyone was alright as they were.”
“You know very well that if you don’t train to win then you’ll most certainly lose.”
“Where have you been? As Captain, it’s your duty to be here with the team.”
“I was ordering the team uniforms!” Minami said a bit annoyed, “I couldn’t exactly do that here in the gym!”
“That makes sense, you could’ve at least told me.”
“I thought I did.”
“You didn’t. You said you’d catch up in a second.”
“Yeah, and now I’m caught up with you.”
“If you say so.”
Minami sighed before she then turned at the sudden sound of the gym door opening. A few girls walked in before they took notice of Rentaro and they started to walk over to him, “Woah! Hey! What’s going on?” Minami asked,
“We’re here for Choki-Kun!” A girl in the front said
“He’s very focused right now!” Minami said, “Can I help you with something?”
“Oh, uh…well…” she responded a bit sheepish,
“This is the dodgeball team right?” Another girl asked,
“It is,” Minami said as she folded her arms, “Why?”
“Well, with Choki-Kun being on the team we wanted to come and root for him!”
“Root for him?” Minami asked, “Like cheerleaders?”
“Yes!” They said in unison,
“Oh, uh, well,” she then opened her bag and pulled out a large stack of papers. “If you can all fill one of these out it would be great, afterwards take it to the principal and I’m sure he can get you guys taken care of.”
“You mean it?!” They all said,
“Yeah! Of course!” Minami said before she then handed out each girl a form to fill out. Ryusuke huffed and wheezed before he stopped and looked over at the group of girls,
“What are they doing here…?” He asked as he placed his hands on his hips,
“No clue,” Daisuke responded as he ran past Ryusuke,
“Maybe they’re-“ Before Ryusuke could finish he was then hit in the face with a dodgeball. As he fell onto his back he rubbed his face before he sat up to see Rentaro look him in the eyes.
“Don’t slow down, you still have quite a few more to go,” Rentaro said,
Eventually, the day came to a close and the next day came. This time the team focused on agility and dodging. They performed side steps which seemed easy, they eventually messed up when Rentaro would throw a ball at them and hit them in the face or stomach. Ryusuke seemed to get hit the most, which Rentaro took note of. They continued to train throughout the week. One day Rentaro went to test something.
“Alright,” Rentaro said, “We’re going to see how well you all can catch a ball. Any questions?”
“Uh…” Ryusuke said before a ball was then thrown at him. He panicked before he reached out to grab the ball when it hit him in the face. Rentaro then approached Ryusuke as he held his hands over his nose.
“Hmmm,” he then stopped when he came to Ryusuke and said, “So, are you just bad at sports?” The rest of the team had chills shoot up their spines. Ryusuke looked into Rentaro’s arms and swallowed nervously,
“O-O-Oh, w-well, I-“
“No matter how much we train and the others improve, you seem to be really far behind. When we train and I throw a ball at you, you always get hit, and when you do dodge it’s at the last second. Do you even want to be here to play dodgeball?”
“Or are you here because you’re in love with my sister?” Chills shot up Ryusuke’s body as he looked around to see if Minami heard that. Luckily she wasn’t even here. “I’m going, to be honest with you, I don’t think you’re cut out for-“ Rentaro then paused as he looked Ryusuke in the eyes. He leaned forward and looked even deeper into Ryusuke’s eyes. Ryusuke looked around before he went to walk away, Rentaro then grabbed onto Ryusuke’s wrist to prevent him from running. He then grabbed onto Ryusuke’s goggles and took them off his face.
Rentaro stood up and examined the goggles before saying, “How long have you had these?”
“W-Well, I got them before the school year started. I knew I wanted to be on the team so-“ Ryusuke then screamed as Rentaro popped the left lens out of the frame. He then flipped the lens and put it back in before he cleaned it off with his shirt. He then handed the goggles back to Ryusuke and said,
“Here, now try.” Rentaro then turned and picked up a ball as Ryusuke put on his glasses. Rentaro turned and threw the ball with immense force. Ryusuke panicked before he quickly held his hands up and hid behind them. Ryusuke then slowly opened his eyes to notice he had caught the ball in his hands.
“Woah! Nice!” Daisuke said,
“Way to go Ryuko!!!” Gaoma said,
“How did I…” Ryusuke said before looking at Rentaro, “How did you…? What did you do?”
“It was hard to notice at first, but I eventually got it. The lens in your goggles was backward. As such you were getting a clear image on one side and not that great of an image on the other. It’s a long and tiresome explanation, but that’s basically what it was.”
“Wow,” Ryusuke said, “Thank you!”
“Of course, I don’t know why I didn’t catch onto it sooner.”
“Yeah, me too.” He then paused as he said, “And about what you said…about me being in love with Minami…well-“
“I understand if you love her. She had very admirable qualities and would make an amazing girlfriend. However, more often than not she has a very specific type.”
“Oh, yeah, I know…”
“However, if you want to ask her out you should do it sooner rather than later, as I see that she has someone in her heart already.”
It was at that moment that Minami burst into the gym with a large box. “THEY’RE HERE!!!” She then set the box on a bench as everyone raced over to her, even the cheerleaders purely here for Rentaro.
“What are they?” Daisuke asked,
“They’re the team uniforms!” Minami said as she opened the box, “It took me a while to get a design but here they are!” She took out the first jersey on the top and showed it off to everyone. The main color of the jersey was a dark blue almost black and in the center of the chest was a large violet star with a gold circle in the center. In the center of the gold circle was a silver dot with five red dots along the outside of the gold circle which lined up with the points of the stars. On the back of the jerseys were silver stripes going down the length of the back along with each player’s number and surname.
“Woah…!” Ryusuke said,
“ALRIGHT!!! IS THIS ONE MINE?!!?!?!!!” Gaoma asked as he reached to grab the jersey in Minami’s hand,
“No! This one's mine!” Minami responded before she dug through the box and handed him his jersey, “Here! This one is yours!”
Minami handed out the team members their clothes before she gave the cheerleaders their outfits as well as their pom-poms. Minami then sat down on the bench watching the teammates show off their outfits to the cheerleaders and the cheerleaders back to them. Renataro then came and sat beside Minami and said, “I really didn’t know what I was in for when you asked me to come out here and play.”
“Yeah,” she said, “I knew it was a long shot, especially considering you’ve been in Okinawa this whole time. It’s usually so peaceful out there, and here it’s really loud and there’s a lot of noise and new things.”
“It’s fine,” he said as he folded his arms, “I really don’t mind some of them. In fact, I’m glad that I’m here with you. I was really starting to miss you.”
“Yeah, I missed you too…”
“Do you like Ryusuke?”
“Hm?” She responded as she turned to Rentaro, “Ryusuke…?” She then turned and looked at Ryusuke as he stood there having a conversation with the other team members. “Oh…uh….I don’t know. I kind of like someone else.”
“I figured as such.” He said, “What’s his name?”
“Oh, uh…” Minami said as she searched for a random name to give him, “His name is Kazuya.”
“I see, and what do you think he’s doing right now?”
“I really don’t know.”
His footsteps were powerful and heavy, leaving the ‘thoom’ sound every time his foot touched the ground. He wore a harness which was tied to a thick rope which was tied around the front wheels of a C-130 Hercules Plane which slowly rolled down the runway as it was pulled. A man in a suit watched on before he looked down at his stopwatch and clicked the top of it. “Sir, it seems you’ve been able to top the record from last time.”
“I see,” Yakuza said as he then stopped and placed his hands on his knees as he began to pant, “By how much?”
“Only a few seconds, was it what you were hoping for?”
“No,” Yakuza responded as he undid the harness and started to steady his breathing, “But it’ll have to do.”
“Sir, at your ripe age of 16, I highly suggest you don’t push yourself to this extreme. Most men capable of pulling off this feat are fully grown and have been training for a lot longer than you have. They even have twice your current muscle mass.”
“If I don’t push myself then I’ll only become weaker,” he then stood up and took the water bottle handed to him by the man in the suit,
“Could it be possible you’re doing this for that young woman?”
“For Choki?” He responded as he took a breathe in between drinking, “Don’t be absurd.”
“You’re 16, you are at the age when you can start dating. And she really seems like a nice young woman. After all, it was your idea to give her a ride to the Health Center.”
“She looked lost,”
“She did, but you’ve never offered any other girl a ride before. Hell, even after you showed up to their school you had me take you there to see if she was there.”
“I only went because she surprised me,” he said, “No one has been able to catch a ball I’ve thrown at them.”
“So you like her because she’s strong?”
“I never said I liked her,”
“I have an image of you smiling in the car after saying that you liked her for her burning spirit. If that’s not a sign of a developing crush then I don’t know what is.”
“You don’t know what is,” he responded, “I have a reputation to keep Didymus. I don’t have time for things like feelings. The only thing I care about is absolutely destroying her during the qualification match.”
“I see,” he said as the two walked over to a black car, “So tell me, what will you do if she defies expectations and beats you?”
“She’s not going to,” he said as Didymus opened the car door and he got inside. Didymus closed the door and got into the front seat. “She has skill, but the first time I ever faced her I could tell she has no experience with dodgeball. She has martial arts experience and that’s really it.”
“All you had was martial arts experience when you started off, sir.”
“Shut up and drive Didymus.”
The next day before sunrise Minami woke up and put on a pair of leggings followed by a sports bra and a sweatshirt. She walked through her apartment before stopping at the front door where she put on her tennis shoes. The second she left her apartment she walked down the street before she then started to run. She had no idea where she was going, she was just going to let her legs take her on an adventure.
She ran through the city and then through a park. She ran a few laps around the park before she stopped at a tree to catch her breath. She took a bunch of heavy breaths before standing up and placing her hands behind her head. She saw a pair of swings and walked over to them. She then sat down and moved herself back and forth. “I didn’t expect to see you here,” Daisuke said as he came over to the swings.
“Oh, hi!” She said as she turned to him,
“Mind if I sit?”
“Thanks,” Daisuke said as he walked to the swing beside her and sat down.
“Why are you here so early?”
“I almost always go on a run before school. What about you?”
“I couldn’t sleep,” Minami said, “I needed to clear my head.”
“Ah, I see, what were you thinking about?”
She then sighed before saying, “Ryusuke…” she looked down as she pushed herself back and forth, “I feel like he likes me, and I asked him if he does, but he didn’t tell me.”
“Do you like him?”
“….I think I do…” She said with a blush, “Only a little bit though…I like someone else, but I also like Ryusuke…”
“Well, I can tell you that he doesn’t like you.” He said, “Instead, he’s absolutely in love with you.”
She froze before she turned to him and said, “H-He loves me…?”
“Are you kidding? He doesn’t shut up about you.”
“Then why didn’t he tell me…?”
“He’s probably just shy,” Daisuke responded, “Maybe he knows you like someone else and he just wants you to be happy.”
“I’d be happy with him too…”
“Then let him know.”
“Maybe….I just think that as Captain, maybe I shouldn’t date the other team members. I don’t want to seem unprofessional and like I’m a bad Captain.”
“You’re not a bad Team Captain,” Daisuke said, “Honestly, you’ve done a lot better than I did.” He smiled as he looked up at the sky as it’s dark blue became lighter, “You and your brother have put us through some tough training, but honestly, it’s the most I’ve ever trained for this sport. I feel myself improving and so do the other guys. We all believe in you and we’re willing to be at your side through thick and thin.”
“You really feel that way?” She asked as her face turned red,
“Of course we do,” he looked at her and smiled, “You were the greatest thing to happen to this school and their dodgeball team.”
She smiled back before she stood up and said, “Alright! If that’s the case we’re going to train even harder!”
“That’s the spirit!” Daisuke said as he stood up and gave her a high five. Daisuke looked past her to see a young man come up the hill. Minami turned and looked at the same young man.
“Ryuji,” Daisuke said, “He’s my boyfriend.” He looked to Minami and said, “Keep it a secret, I still haven’t told my parents I’m bisexual yet.”
“Yeah, of course,” Minami said as Daisuke walked over to Ryuji and they then ran off. Minami smiled before she clenched her fists and gave a nod, “Alright! I’m going to push myself harder than I ever have before! I’m going to take our team to victory and then crush Yakuza!”
As the week went on both Minami and Yakuza did their own intense training. Minami would lay on a bench and bench press anywhere from 190 to 245 pounds. During Yakuza’s weightlifting training he wrapped a heavy chain around his waist and legs and performed pull-ups with 400-pound weights entangled in the same chains around his waist. Minami’s next workout focused on her throwing dodgeballs. She held two in each hand and would throw them on and off against the wall. Meanwhile, Yakuza performed a right overhand throw with a 50-pound weight ball before he caught it with his left underhand. He threw the ball back and forth against the wall with ease making the weighted ball seem light. As Minami did Battle Rope Training, Yakuza pulled on a rope with immeasurable force causing the Monster Truck tire attached to it to fly towards him, before he knocked it onto the floor and slid it backward.
The two pushed themselves to new heights with their intense training. Weights after weights were dropped and even thrown from their Weighted Squats. They continued to break their own timed records with their speed and agility. They worked tirelessly until they each performed their final exercise. They each threw their heads back and screamed before saying, “I’M COMING FOR YOU!!!”
“YAKUZA!!!!” Minami screamed,
“CHOKI MINAMI!!!” Yakuza screamed as he turned and looked at the calendar. He then folded his arms and grinned before saying, “It’s time.”
Wow! Yesterday we surpassed 1K reads! I can’t thank you all enough for this! Even if I don’t win the contest then I still want to thank all of you! In my career as a writer, no work of mine has ever reached 1K reads! All of my works combined don’t even make it to 1K!
Anyways, after this chapter is the climax of this first arc! Starting Saturday there will be a chapter every day until the end of the Climax! You won’t want to miss it!
Last time I mentioned Rentaro has a fighting game character motif with Yakuza and Minami! Yakuza is Kazuya Mishima! And for Minami, I’ve been stuck between two characters. Sometimes she’s like Ken from Street Fighter, specifically Ken from Street Fighter V! Other times she’s like Kung Lao from Mortal Kombat! So I’ve decided she is a new character known as Ken Lao!
Now that we’ve reached this point, there will now be a character popularity poll! The poll will last until next Thursday! So make sure to vote who your favorite character is! The popularity poll will be here!