Chapter 9:

Chapter 8 - To Learn From Mistakes | Part 2

Wings of Unity

“Did you review the material that I provided for you to read, Kitaru-kun?” Chizuru asked me as we walked towards the Holographic Arena together.

I nodded my head. “I read what you told me to read, and for the past week I’ve been getting the Blue Team to get adjusted to what I think is now the best result for them.”

“Good, I’m sure you did your best, Kitaru-kun,” Chizuru returned the nod.

A group of first-years crossed paths with us and began to walk a bit ahead of Chizuru and I. As I was about to tune their voices out during our walk, I heard a familiar name get mentioned.

“Tachibana-senpai?” one of the first-years said. “What happened this time?”

“Hey, didn’t you hear?” a first-year with brown hair, spoke up. “Tachibana-senpai is implementing a new curfew that won’t allow students to be out past ten.”

“Eh?” a first-year with black hair looked surprised. “Is she serious? What the hell is wrong with her?”

“Apparently it’s to make sure nobody is out at an unsafe hour…” the brunette replied.

“That bitch,” a first-year with dark-red hair exclaimed with a scoff. “She’s just jealous that we all get together and hang out, but she’s stuck alone living a boring life as the President. Seriously, she needs to get a life or something.”


The girls, except the brunette, began to laugh.

“Kitaru-kun… are you hearing this?” Chizuru asked me, a worried look on her face.

“Ye-yeah…” I shook my head and frowned. “And I don’t like it…”

“It's not my fault she’s a loner!” the girl with black hair said. “But hey, I don’t make the rules. If it were up to me, we’d be allowed to stay out as late as we want!”

“Unfortunately, our rules are made by a complete maniac,” the girl with dark-red hair spoke up again. “All she does is regulate the rules and run this school with an iron fist. No wonder nobody likes her.”

How dare they… I have to say something.

I fastened my pace towards the girls in preparation to confront them but before I could, I was stopped by Chizuru.

“Nobody likes who?” a male voice seemingly shouted. I looked over and saw Senji approaching them from out of nowhere. He glanced over at me, and I swear I saw him wink. “You dare speak about our President like that?”

They stopped in their tracks, surprised at his arrival. Chizuru and I stopped as well, standing a few feet away from them as Senji took a few steps closer.

“Se-Senji-senpai…” the first-year with dark-red hair meekly said, her voice trembling. They were now aware of our presence, and she glanced over at me. “And… Ozaki-senpai…”

“The one who… touched Danketsu…” the black-haired first-year gulped. “We-we didn’t mean to! We were just…”

“Both of you are… members of the Student Council…” the brunette said.

“Silence!” Senji commanded in a demanding tone. “You three should be ashamed of yourselves, speaking so crudely about our President! All she’s done is make sure we are all safe, and this is how you repay her?”

The three first-years stood in silence.

“Senji,” a voice spoke. I turned and saw Yusa coming up from behind. “It’s fine.”

She walked by Chizuru and I, seemingly ignoring the two of us as she tended to the matter at hand.

“Tachibana-san?” Senji seemed surprised. “Are you sure? Didn’t you hear what was going on?”

“I did,” she nodded as she walked in front of the first-years, who trembled where they stood. Yusa glared her eyes at them and huffed. “Or maybe I may have misheard, they were most likely talking about a different President… correct?”

Tachibana-san… what are you doing?

The three girls nodded their heads.

“Understood, Tachibana-san,” Senji said with a nod.

“You’re dismissed,” Yusa told them coldly. The three girls bowed and frantically ran off towards wherever they were needed.

“Tachibana-san?” I called her name.

Yusa turned to Chizuru and I, her face stern – the unforgiving gaze of hers returning.

“Don’t you have a simulation to do?”

“U-uh… ye-yeah…”

The silver-haired girl nodded, and I caught her golden-yellow eyes lock onto Chizuru for a split second. “Hmph. Best of luck to you, then.”

She began to walk away, and the two of us watched as Senji trailed behind her. I exchanged looks with Chizuru and we continued on to the Holographic Arena.

“Kitaru-kun,” Chizuru finally spoke up as we walked. “What was that about?”

“I’m…” I rubbed my chin in thought. “I’m not entirely sure…” I looked up at the cloudless blue sky. “But I’m sure I’ll find out eventually… for now, we have a simulation to conquer.”

Chizuru nodded. “Right, Kitaru-kun.”

Soon enough, I found myself geared up in my armor and running around in the foggy wasteland from a week ago. I tightly gripped onto my M22 Assault Rifle and heard the commanding sound of the rest of Blue Team’s footsteps around me.

“Get those walls up! I want a perimeter effectively surrounding our position!” I barked out my orders. Nobu, Mika, and Tatsuharu broke off from us, and in a matter of seconds, blue walls of Construct energy formed nearby.

“Walls are up, senpai!” Mika shouted back.

“Good to go, sir!” Nobu added on.

Tatsuharu returned and stood in front of us. He glanced over his shoulder at the rest of us and placed a foot forward. “Defense Construct: Spear Wall!” in front of us, long green spikes formed in a similar fashion to a barricade.

“Everyone, to your positions!” I shouted. “Remember what we’ve been learning this entire week – we can do this!”

Nobu, Tatsuharu, and Tomoko activated their jump-packs and soared to the two-story building. Everyone else took defensive positions around me, readying their M22 Assault Rifles in their hands.

HRAAAAAAGHH!” the combined screech of a Runner horde sounded in our ears, and I looked around at the Blue Team in their positions.

“Here they come! Everyone, brace yourselves!” I yelled to the first-years.

“Ayano…” Yukino said to her friend. “Please don’t run ahead.”

“Yeah, yeah…” Ayano scoffed as she aimed her M22 Assault Rifle. “I won’t.”

Ahead of us in the dense fog, dozens of red eyes appeared and before we knew it – the horde was here. Out from the fog emerged countless undead, and we began opening fire on them.

Blood flew from the bullets that struck the Runners, and from a quick glance around I saw that the Runners who tried to attack us from the sides had been effectively sealed away from us by the Construct walls.

I felt the kick from my M22 Assault Rifle as I fired wildly into the crowd of the undead – and I watched as we gunned them down. Stalkers appeared within the ranks of the Runners, towering over them.

“Shadow, Kyōyama-san!” I shouted.

In an instant, the two dashed by the rest of us – Erika with her katana in hand, and Shadow with his SR1 Sniper Rifle in his hands, with a tantō hanging from his waist. They ran to meet the Runners head-on, as they had shown through their training that they excelled in close-quarters combat.

Summon: Darkness Blade,” Erika commanded, and the same black katana materialized. She lunged herself toward one of the Stalkers – diving her blades into its chest causing blood to spew out. She used the momentum to do a flip over it, dragging the blades over the Stalker, and did a spinning move through a group of Runners ahead of her that cut each of them down.

“Still a badass!” Nobu shouted from the top as he rained bullets down from above. “Isn’t that right, Hirasawa-san?”

“That is right!” Tomoko shouted with glee while firing her weapon. “Erika-chan is definitely a bad… bad butt!”

Our chemistry’s getting better… and we’re doing great so far…

I smiled underneath my helmet as I gunned down another Runner.

Shadow activated his jump-pack, shooting a Stalker straight in the head with his SR1 Sniper Rifle, cocking his weapon, and then firing another shot that pierced a Stalker where its heart would be.

He landed, and a Stalker in front of him swung its giant blade of an arm at Shadow – which he instantly blocked with his gun. With force, he pushed the weight of the huge Stalker off him, and he brought out his tantō, stabbing the Stalker straight in its mutated face and then proceeded to clash with Runners in melee combat.

Runners got stuck within the Construct that Tatsuharu had created earlier, and we shot them down instantly. Seeing the numbers of Runners begin to deteriorate from the massive horde earlier brought a positive feeling, and I could feel it resonate with the other members of Blue Team.

“Senpai!” I heard Sayaka shout and saw her looking down at a tablet in her hands. “My scanners detect that the number of Runners within the area are decreasing – we can move up to where the beacon is!”

“Thank you, Takimoto-san!” I said. “You guys heard that? Let’s move up!”

The Blue Team acknowledged my orders and we slowly began to move from our positions towards the objective, all the while still shooting the Runners down. Nobu, Tatsuharu, and Tomoko utilized their jump-packs to jump from building to building, still maintaining their height advantage.

“Second wave incoming!” Ayano shouted.

A second horde came into view, and since we were now at a closer position the Runners had a better chance to overrun us.

I slung my weapon over my back and channeled my energy towards my fist – feeling it flow through my veins to my arms. My hands lit up with a blue light and I shot multiple majutsu blasts out from my fists – eradicating many Runners in my wake.

Erika and Shadow joined our ranks, and they did their best to keep as many Runners as possible from breaching our lines. Nearing the objective, we advanced on – taking down the Runners before us with ease.

I looked over and saw Tatsuharu gun down the Runner that was about to eliminate Mika, and I smiled.

We’re doing this!

“Third wave incoming, senpai!” Sayaka shouted. “And there’s a whole lot more of them this time! Just… just what is going on? There’s way more Runners this time than before!”

“Heh!” Ayano shouted. “They probably think we’re going to ace this! And it looks like we are!”

“If I may!” Tatsuharu’s voice intervened, and we saw him firing down from the rooftop. “The number of Runners we’ve encountered so far are equivalent to the amount we will find in a Tier 1 Battlezone…!”

“So, like, we’re still at the basic settings!?” Ayano screamed.

“We’re far below basic!” Tatsuharu yelled back.

Mika pushed a Runner off her and immediately shot it to pieces. “Keep up the good work, everyone! We’ll make it through this! But… Kitaru-senpai, do you have a plan!?”

“I do!” I said. “I think!”

“WHAT!?” The Blue Team all shouted in unison.

More Runners emerged and I looked over at Yukino, and she locked eyes with me.

“Akiyama-san, now!” I said to her.

The raven-haired girl nodded.

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, before opening them wide and yelling, “Raven’s Mercy!

She lunged forward, with her arms outstretched and palms opened. A violet flame emerged from her palms, and immediately took the form of dozens of birds flying towards the Runners with speed.

She did it! Akiyama-san did it!

We watched and continued to shoot the Runners down as the majutsu birds soared through the Runners as if they were spears – gutting them and cutting them down with each passing moment.

The Runners in front of us were now all gone, and Yukino successfully created an opening for Ayano to make her way to set up the device.

The auburn-haired girl ran forward, and quickly dropped to her knees. She stabbed a small orb into the ground and activated it. The orb mechanized and turned into a beacon.

“Device has been set up, Kitaru-senpai!” Ayano shouted with a thumbs-up.

Out from the communications device, a blue beam emerged from it – going upwards high into the sky. The buildings around us began to vanish, and so did everything around us – the simulation was over.

I looked up and saw Chizuru watching us from the bleachers above. She had a giant smile and look of happiness on her face, and she gave us a thumbs-up. Glancing around, the Blue Team celebrated their success with each other.

Stealing a second to look back at the bleachers, I saw Yusa and Senji standing far away from Chizuru.

They were there the entire time…

Yusa still had the same serious look from earlier written across her face, but she acknowledged me with a nod that I returned. She began to walk away from where she stood in the bleachers and Senji followed her.

For some reason, despite our victory, I felt a hollowness in my heart that I couldn’t explain.

Just what exactly is wrong, Tachibana-san?