April 30th, 3184
Monday - Morning
Over the past half a week, I haven’t really talked to many people aside from Jiro. The four of us all parted ways to train on our own so we could showcase our strength for the tournament. As Kiyoko and I headed for the school, we took a glance at the tournament listing on the bulletin board.
The tournament is set up bracket style where each student will fight another as the winner moves on. That winner then fights one of the winners of the that round’s bracket. That continues until there is only one person left and they are declared the winner. Because of the large list of students, even with the tournaments being separated by year, that still leaves with around 300 students per tournament. Apparently Mirai didn’t think of that and had sent us an e-mail stating that only a select few of us would be participating. Unclear as to the method of choosing, which Mirai states is a ‘flawless choice’, the number of participants for each year has been knocked down to about 30. That means that whoever the overall winner is will have to fight one fight every single day for the entire school week.
The further you go in this competition, not only will the opponents be more tough, but your physical condition will be drastically lowered after each day, making it even more difficult to keep up. But in a strange way, that makes it completely fair. The fights don’t start until 10 a.m., but they also don’t end until 8 p.m. On the first day, that’s two fights an hour, but that’s not even including the second and third year fights that are happening on the same days at different sections of the school.
For this entire week, there aren’t any classes for anyone—even those outside of the highschool division because tournaments are happening all around. On the bracket board, we search for our names with the time slot below them. The students have been given details about the tournament, but not specifics as to who we’re fighting and at what time. On the board, we look at the few notable names.
Ena fights at 12:15 p.m. against someone named Shogo.
I fight against Tanaka at 1:00 p.m.
Isamu fights at 5:45 p.m. against a student named Genji.
Kiyoko, at 7:00 p.m., fights Miho.
“Oh wow,” I marvel, “Some interesting fights today.”
“Yeah,” Kiyoko murmurs.
“What, are you not excited to fight Miho?!”
“It’s not that,” she corrects, “It’s just that now we know for sure that at least one of us will be guaranteed to be dropped in the first round. For some reason the thought of that gets me very worried.”
“Aw, it’s okay,” I reassured as I patted her back, “I’m sure you’ll do fine.”
“Are you not worried about Miho losing?”
“Eh,” I gasp, “I’m not telling you who I’m rooting for!”
As Kiyoko and I talked for a moment, we headed inside the school. Both of us thinking we’re ready, we simply head to the tournament grounds and watch the fights that happen.
Mirai had made an announcement in front of the audiences, welcoming them to ‘The Tournament That Will Determine Who Will Save The Future And Who Won’t.’ Because some fights happen in different fighting grounds, she doesn’t have any special seat made for her or anything, and just finds a random spot to view each fight in. I haven’t even seen her interact with any of the fighters so it appears that she’s staying completely impartial to all of this.
After a while, I needed to use the bathroom so I left Kiyoko alone for a moment. Walking down the busy hall, I see Ena talking to someone. She’s up against the wall as a tan skinned man hovers over her. I realize something’s not right and hurry my pace.
“Just back away,” Ena demands, “We’ll settle this later.”
“No, no, no,” the man says as he puts his hand on the wall, “You’re going to drop out. Now.”
Ena notices me as I approach, and for a split second, gives a face as though she’s looking for help. I casually approach the two and speak.
“You two alright,” I ask.
“We’re doing just fine,” the man says as he shoves me away.
“Hey,” Ena yells as she extends her finger, “This is between you and me.”
“Oh, come on. Like I’m going to hurt a cute little thing like you. Let’s just settle this in the back room.”
“Okay, listen up,” Ena says as she pokes him, “You got two things right there. One: I most certainly am a cute little thing. And two: you absolutely can not hurt this 'cute little thing'. You won’t even be able to touch me. Now back off before I get this guy to suck the soul out of your body.”
Ena points her thumb to me as the man puffs and walks away.
“What was that about,” I ask.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” Ena says casually as she brushes her skirt, “It’s just my first opponent. His name is Chogo or something—I can’t remember.”
“Shogo,” I correct.
“Yeah, that's it,” Ena lights up, “I want to remember his name when I crush him to the ground.
“I bet it’ll feel real satisfying to beat him clean, I’m sure.”
Ena looks fired up all of a sudden, a side of her I haven’t really seen yet. I guess I don’t need to ask if she’s ready for her fight or not as her energy gives it away.
“What are you doing here, anyway,” Ena says, reverting back to her normal self, “Shouldn’t you be making out with your girlfriend in the bleachers as you watch the fights?”
“First of all, Kiyoko is not my girlfriend.”
“I never mentioned her name—funny how you connected the dots there, pup,” Ena says mocks.
“And second of all,” I continued sternly, “I’m just heading to the washroom when I ran into you.”
“Ew, I didn’t need the details. Just go to the washroom and leave me alone.”
Ena waves her hand, dismissing me as she walks away. As she does, she crosses her arms and rubs them. Ena shrinks her head a little as she heads in the opposite direction as Shogo.
“Hey,” I called out to Ena, “Are you okay?”
“Huh,” Ena says, surprised as she flicks her head around, “Of course! And it’s none of your business, mutt.”
Ena turns back around and continues walking with a strut. With what had happened, she may not be showing it, but I don’t think she was comfortable with that—well, obviously, though. I mean who would? But Ena, the supposed ‘Princess of Fear’ being looked down upon by anyone just seems impossible. I really do hope she kicks his ass.
After going to the washroom, I make my way back to the bleacher to find Miho sitting a seat down below Kiyomi.
“Oh, hey bro,” Miho yells, “You excited?”
“Yeah, definitely,” I responded as I sat down beside Kiyoko, “Ena’s fight; I’m definitely looking forward to that.”
Kiyoko gave me a look as Miho continued.
“Right? And Kiyoko and I will be giving it our all! Isn’t it gonna be fun?”
Miho glances at Kiyoko, waiting for her to respond while she stares blankly.
“Huh,” she says as she snaps back to reality, “Yeah, totally.”
“Everything okay,” I ask.
“Yeah, I’m just talking with Mei right now.”
“Ooo,” Miho awes, “Who’s Mei?”
“That’s none of your business,” Kiyoko snaps.
After some casual chit chat, 12:15 approaches as Shogo arrives at the arena with Ena arriving about a minute after.
“Can’t even keep track of time,” Shogo scoffs, “You really aren’t fit for this kind of stuff.”
Ena doesn’t respond as the referee approaches.
“Shogo, are you ready?”
“Of course, is that even a question?”
The referee looks at Ena.
“Ena, are you ready?”
“Yeah,” Ena says after a pause.
The referee takes a few steps back and raises his hand.
“Three! Two! One! Activate your Soul Gears,” the referee yells as he swings his hand down.
“First Gear” Shogo yells.
Burning on his hands forms two charcoal gauntlets with blue flames igniting on the rims. He slams them together as cracks form in them, revealing a glowing blue underlayer.
“What, are you too scared to fight me?”
Ena says nothing and stares blankly at him. Confused, Shogo pauses before shrugging his shoulders.
“Oh well, I guess the mighty Princess of Fear is nothing but a masochistic coward.”
Ena’s eyes darted in Shogo’s direction. Shogo slams his fists together once more and skips a few steps forward. He then crouches down, grinding the tips of his fingers against the concrete ground as they ignite into a blue flame. Shogo flicks them toward Ena as a trail of blue fire is sent into her direction from the ground. As it encompasses the bottom half of her body, a smoke covers the field momentarily. As it fades away, the ground where the fire had touched is frozen solid along with Ena’s legs and feet which are encased in ice.
“Now you can’t move,” Shogo announces as he marches toward Ena, “And now you’re nothing but a punching bag.”
Shogo dashes toward Ena, reading a punch when she suddenly speaks.
“First Gear,” Ena whispers.
From behind her back, Ena’s Gemini drones appeared as one flew high and the other went low. The one closer to the ground swooped in and smashed into Shogo’s feet, causing him to crash and tumble to the ground.
“Dammit,” he mumbles.
The other Gemini drone flew behind Ena and readied a red blast. As it did, the laser flew through the sky and crashed just behind Ena’s feet. Suddenly, from the force of the blast, the ice surrounding her legs exploded as shrapnel flew toward Shogo. Pieces hitting him all throughout his body, he stumbles and crawls back a few feet. Ena slowly walked toward Shogo as he made his way up.
“Lucky shot,” Shogo grunts.
Ena approached Shogo and stood, not saying a word, as the two stared at each other. The two lock eye contact for a moment before Ena raises her hand.
The sharp sound echoed throughout the room as the crowd instantly grew silent. Ena holds her hand just above her chest, fingers extended, as Shogo’s face begins to red. Looking to the side because of the slap, he gently places his hand on his cheek as he glares at Ena with his eyes.
“You bitch,” Shogo growls.
“I’d be focusing on what’s behind you if I were you.”
Shogo spins his head around before Ena grabs his shoulders and rams her knee deep in his groin with a sharp cracking sound. Shogo howls in pain as he crashes to the ground, holding on to his tenders. Ena spins around and walks away. She raises her left hand and snaps.
Suddenly, a large purple beam rains down from the sky on top of Shogo, completely encompassing him in the light. After a moment, the beam dissipates as her two Gemini fly down and return to Ena before disappearing.
The crowd, still in silence, waits for Shogo to rise back up—but nothing. The referee runs toward Shogo and checks on his condition. Shooting up, the referee yells into his microphone.
“Shogo Yuki is unconscious, resulting in Ena Minamoto as our winner for this round!”
The crowd, somewhat confused, cheers for Ena’s victory as she walks off the stage, refusing to make eye contact with anyone.
I begin to get up and follow Ena before a hand grabs my arm. I look down at who’s holding me to find Kiyoko giving me a sorry look.
“I get that you want to check up on her,” Kiyoko says, “But your fight is up really soon. It’s best to think of yourself just for now and then you can see if she’s okay later.”
I pause and look at my feet before slowly sitting back down. Miho, sitting in front of us, glances back toward us.
“I get it,” I say, understanding, "You’re probably right.”
Kiyoko stares at me, analyzing my face for a moment before speaking.
“Why do you care about her, suddenly?”
“About Ena. One day, she picks on us, calling us puppies, and the next—well, she still does. But now you’re fine with it? I just don’t understand.”
“Look,” I say with a sigh, “To be honest, I don’t know if I even understand myself. But I see glimpses of someone who is actually a nice, thoughtful person. It’s buried beneath so much, but it’s there.”
“How do you know?”
“It started after our match. I wanted to tear her to shreds during it, but after what happened, happened, she came up to me and admitted her defeat.”
“You won that fight?”
“She had this rule where if I made her move from her spot, she’d forfeit. As it turns out, unknowing to me, at the last second before chaos landed, I made her move. She pushed her pride to the side by stopping me in the halls to announce me as the victor. That is the last thing I would have thought she’d have done. To me, that proves she’s someone worth trying to become friends with. I couldn’t tell you why she acts the way that she does, but I know that deep down, she’s someone who might actually care for people.”
“You’re saying she’s just putting up an act,” Miho asks.
“I don’t know,” I responded, “That’s why I want to get to know her more to see if it truly is an act or not.”
Kiyoko looks down and fiddles with her hands. Deep in thought, she stares blankly for a few moments before speaking.
“Alright,” she says, “I think I understand. I highly doubt she and I will ever see eye to eye, but I think I can see where you’re coming from.”
“Thanks for understanding, Kiyoko.”
Shooting her attention back to me, she blurts out something.
“Enough about her, though. It’s time for you to get ready for your fight!”
“Yeah, bro,” Miho says as he shoots up as he slams his fists together, “Let’s go find your opponent and scare the crap out of them!”
“Absolutely not,” Kiyoko and I said simultaneously.
As we made our way out of the fighting grounds, Kiyoko, Miho, and I talked on our ways through the halls. Once we reached the prep room for the participants, we split ways as I entered the room. Inside are a few medical professionals, various teachers, and some students waiting for their fight.
In one of the chairs placed in front of a wall mirror a girl with short black hair sits, staring deeply at her reflection. As I cautiously approach her, she notices me from the reflection and spins around, almost a little scared.
“Oh, hey,” I awkwardly greet as I wave my hand, “Tanaka, right? It’s Kurayami, I think I’m your first opponent.”
Still slightly on edge, Tanaka grabs her APM that sat on the table in front of her. After a couple button presses, she simply stares at the device for a moment before showing it to me.
“It’s nice to meet you,” the APM read, “Yes, I am Tanaka. I have to communicate through this, but as long as I can see your mouth, you’re fine to talk to me as you normally would anyone else.”
“Oh,” I exclaim, “I completely forgot about that—I’m so sorry!”
Her APM automatically deletes the old text and adds new text.
“LOL. It’s okay.”
Before I can get another word out, Ryuu speeds into the room as he stands in between the two of us. He places a hand on her shoulder then speaks.
“You’re going to win, okay,” he says with a hardened tone, “If you don’t, you prove to them that you’re nothing but a failure.”
“Hey,” I interrupt, placing a hand on Ryuu’s shoulder, “We were in the middle of a conversation. What are you even doing here?”
“As you can see,” Ryuu says as he spins around, “I’m just trying to support my girlfriend.”
After a moment, he realizes who I am.
“Oh, it’s you,” Ryuu states tiredly.
“Yeah, it’s me,” I echo, “Shouldn’t you be off dealing with your own tournament?”
“Well, I should be, but instead I’d rather give my girlfriend some encouraging words. So how about you back off?”
Tanaka tugs on Ryuu’s shoulder, trying to calm him down. Instead, he just rolls it off.
“Wait a minute,” Ryuu says as he looks back to Tanaka for a moment, “You’re her opponent, aren’t you?”
“And I wouldn’t win if I were you. I don’t care what kind of Second Gear you have. You don’t want to mess with me. So I suggest just to back off.”
Without even giving me another second, Ryuu spins around, quickly places his hand on Tanaka’s head before storming off, slamming the door behind him. After a moment of silence between Tanaka and I, I speak.
“I don’t mean to be rude, but that’s your boyfriend?”
Tanaka smiles for a moment before showing me her APM.
“To be honest, it was just a bit of a misunderstanding at first, but he decided to continue with it. I don’t really have the guts to tell him that I was never actually interested.”
Tanaka takes back her APM for a moment before showing it to me once more.
“He’s… not the best person, of course. But he means well... I think.”
We both chuckle at her last statement before I speak.
“Well, as long as you don’t feel like you’re being forced into this, I guess it’s fine. But if you really do want to confront him, I’d suggest doing it sooner rather than later—no matter how scary he may seem.”
Tanaka slowly nods her head as she thinks about what I just said. I take a look at my APM and see the time is five minutes to our battle.
“Well,” I continue, “I’ll be heading out there, I suppose. I’ll see you in a bit. I wish you the best of luck.”
In shock, Tanaka blushes before soon showing me her APM.
“Thank you. You’re a good person. Part of me hopes you’ll win… but at the same time, I don’t want Ryuu to get mad at you.”
“Don’t worry,” I say confidently, “He doesn’t scare me.”
With that, I give Tanaka a nod as I head for the arena surrounded by an excited audience. My match is about to begin.
Please log in to leave a comment.