Real Life Starfight
July 15 2018 - It had been a while since Sun, Steve, and Ryuuji had been able to play Starfight together, though Sun and Steve would still talk a couple times a week. Wanting to catch up, Ryuuji tells him everything that happened up to this point; the rest of their confrontation with Seiji and his new unwanted friendship, fighting in that new dungeon, and all the great rewards. Steve can’t help feeling jealous of the fun adventures, explaining he’s been too busy helping his dad with work related things ever since school ended for him last month.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been able to play as much Sun.” Steve says, missing the time they spend together in-game.
“It’s okay! I’ve been having a lot of fun with everyone else.”
“Ouch, it sounds like you weren’t missed.” Ryuuji says, teasing Steve.
“It is surprising to hear her say that, but I’m glad! Just another reason to thank you, Ryuuji. Any time I would take a leave of absence from Starfight, even just for a week, I would get yelled at! Now that she has more friends I won’t get in trouble.” Steve explains, ending with a laugh.
However, telling another embarrassing side to Sun that she would rather not have Ryuuji know, she yells at Steve, telling him to watch what he says. Steve quickly apologizes per usual, saying it slipped out. Ryuuji can only laugh despite hearing it plenty of times in their short encounters.
“Anyway, your new friend, what’s his username?”
“Did I not mention that yet?” Ryuuji ponders before saying, “It’s Hargrave.”
Steve then shouts, piercing their ears, “NO WAAYY!! He’s the great hero Hargrave? You? Friends with him??”
“Is there a problem with that?” Ryuuji says, confused by his reaction.
“I’m insanely jealous. All the legendary players are so cool, but I’ve never met any of them.” Steve says, pouting. “How could you forget to mention he’s one of them?”
“I guess I’m just used to it? Besides I’d rather not think of that brat when I don’t have to.”
“You guys have to introduce me some time.” Steve asks, practically begging.
Sun explains that Seiji and Hana are on a trip with her family, otherwise he may have been able to meet them today, but adds that she will try to set something up soon. Steve, wanting to meet as soon as possible, is instantly reminded that he has to help his dad again tomorrow so he will just have to keep waiting. Ryuuji tries to tell him that he’s not missing out, but Steve fails to find the humor in his comment, causing Ryuuji to laugh in response.
“Well, let's just put that disappointment aside. I have great news!” Steve says, changing back to his usual tone. Thanks to my dad’s business deal, I should be moving to Japan by next month!
“You mean we can finally be together again?!” Sun says, overjoyed.
“Oh yeah baby!” Steve shouts in English, then switching back to Japanese. “I have a chance to attend your school as well, even though our schools are set up differently.”
“What are you saying, Sun, am I not enough?” Ryuuji asks jokingly.
“As if!” Sun shouts.
“Figures.” Ryuuji says, expecting that response. “So what, is your dad the head of a business or something?”
“My dad owns a company that helps produce and distribute gaming software.” Steve explains. “I wasn’t allowed to mention anything even though the news was already released, but my dad bought Komi Industries! You know, the creators of this game!”
“What?” Is all Ryuuji can say as he tries to comprehend what he just heard. Not noticing his comment, Steve continues.
“My dad told me the rest of the paperwork was finalized this week for us to move over! I was told that many other companies tried to purchase Komi before, but never succeeded. I guess my dad’s deal was too good to pass up! He said I may even be able to help run it after I graduate. That’s why I’ve been so busy recently, I want to be involved as much as possible from the start--”
As Steve continued to talk, excited to share the news, Ryuuji stopped listening after he said ‘my dad bought Komi Industries’. That one sentence just keeps repeating in his head. The rage that Ryuuji has been suppressing after losing his home, money, life, and to him, even his father, is slowly building up again. About to explode, Ryuuji shouts as loud as he can.
“YOU RUINED MY LIFE!!”
Confused by the sudden shouting, Steve questions what he’s talking about. Meanwhile Sun, knowing his situation, fears what Ryuuji will do next. She then realizes that Ryuuji hasn’t even hinted at what happened to his family since they started talking. It’s all coming out right at this moment.
“That was my father’s company!! You….your father...he stole it!” Ryuuji continues to shout, not making himself much clearer, unable to say much beyond a few words.
“We stole it? But I was told--” Steve tries to have a conversation to better understand what he means, but is cut off.
“I can’t believe I thought we were friends, you’re not different from the rest! Sun! I can’t believe you hid this from me!”
“No, I had no idea!” Sun says, shaking her head in real life despite no one able to see.
In the game, Ryuuji requests friendly fire against Steve’s character HeroHiro. Although Steve would rather not, he feels denying the request would upset Ryuuji more, so he hits accept and hopes to converse during it. However, Ryuuji attacks immediately, enraged by the situation. Surprised at first, Steve is still able to defend himself against the attacks that follow. Sun can only watch as Ryuuji continues to attack with Steve defending.
“Just defending over and over, why don’t you actually fight??”
“Why should I?!” Steve shouts, getting upset. “I don’t even understand any of this, explain it to me!!”
HeroHiro then successfully pushes Akaninja back, but this just gives him the chance to jump towards Hero with his ‘ninja speed’, injuring him in the process.
“Damn he’s too fast!” Steve complains. He then turns his character to face Akaninja once more, but continues to only defend.
Meanwhile Sun, feeling she has to do something, opens her spell list. Although Ryuuji didn’t directly send her a request for friendly fire, she is a party member and is sure she has that option activated so she can still take part. Sun considers using the barrier she just learned, but knows it won’t make Ryuuji talk. She then looks at her spell, ‘Single Cell’, which she was finally able to use thanks to Hana’s advice. Hesitant at first, she clicks to use it and then starts charging, aiming at Akaninja. However since he keeps moving, she has to wait for the perfect opportunity. Luckily it doesn’t take long as Ryuuji takes a break from attacking, annoyed that he's making no progress.
“This is going nowhere!”
“I agree.” Sun says, drawing attention to her.
They both look towards Sunshine to see her aiming a glowing arrow at Akaninja. Ryuuji, caught off guard, realizes what spell she is using and immediately knows he’s in danger. Sun whispers ‘I’m sorry’ before releasing the arrow, hitting Akaninja in the chest, and completely draining his health. He disappears right after, not giving Ryuuji the chance to say another word. Now that things have settled down, Steve tries speaking with Sun, treading carefully since he knows she’s upset as well.
“Sun, everything Ryuuji just said….is it true?”
“Yes.” Sun says, then trying to explain his situation. “A little before Ryuuji transferred to my school, his father’s company was sold and he somehow lost all rights to the company. Since his father was left jobless, Ryuuji was forced to move, change schools, and even get a job himself. For him, everything completely changed."
Pausing for a moment to take it all in, Steve can’t help asking why none of this was mentioned to him before. However Sun isn’t really sure herself, she just assumes Ryuuji was tired of talking about it. Starting to feel upset once more, Sun apologizes and says she needs to log off for today. Steve doesn’t try to stop her, but reassures her that he will talk to his father to try and do something about this.
“Ryuuji is my friend too. You know I never meant for this to happen.” Steve adds.
Although he can’t see it, Sun smiles before saying “Thank you.”
Sun then logs off, with Steve doing the same shortly after. He lets out a heavy sigh, exhausted from that encounter. Steve assumed it would be a regular gaming session with a dungeon or two, but instead he was hit with a flood of new information. He immediately gets ready to meet his father, planning to inquire about what he just heard.
Meanwhile, Ryuuji is left staring at the original log in screen, stating; You are dead. Revive now? Yes/No. Not feeling any better, Ryuuji slams his fists on his desk.
“Of all people, why does he have to be involved? And Sun...”
Ryuuji thinks back to when Sun apologized before attacking. Although she whispered, he clearly heard it. With rage continuing to build, Ryuuji shoves his keyboard off his desk, resulting in his keys scattering across the floor.
July 16th 2018 - At school, Sun enters the classroom to see Ryuuji already at his desk, leaning on his arm, clearly still upset. Nervous after how suddenly everything ended last night, she walks up to his desk, attempting to talk with him.
“Ryuuji, I’m sor-” Sun says before getting cut off.
“I already heard your apology last night. Nice job killing me by the way.” Ryuuji says in a sharp tone, looking her straight in the eyes.
Upset by his tone, Sun still tries to explain herself. “I was just trying to help you calm down. I didn’t think it would work.”
“And I didn’t think I’d be killed by my best friend!” Ryuuji shouts, getting more frustrated. “Now is there something you want?! Because I think you did enough already!”
Struck by his remark, Sun takes a step back, lip quivering. She tries to hold herself together, then shouting back at Ryuuji, “Fine have it your way! I’m only trying to help, but...I can see you're still the same selfish idiot who transferred here months ago!”
Sun then goes to her desk and quickly takes a seat, holding back tears, taking a deep breath to calm herself and get ready for class. Meanwhile, after watching her walk away, Ryuuji turns to the front of the classroom, not feeling the need to say anything.
When the day is over, Ryuuji wastes no time heading to the train station for work, trying to avoid another confrontation with Sun and the brat, knowing they will only add to his frustration just like this morning. Similar to Ryuuji, Sun also wants to avoid another confrontation and simply sits at her desk, deciding to wait for another train instead. After about 10 minutes, she gets up to leave.
Outside, near the school gate, Sun notices Seiji and Hanabi. She smiles and runs over to them, immediately asking about their trip. They both say it was a lot of fun, with Hanabi telling her that they got her and Ryuuji souvenirs, adding that Seiji insisted they bring something back for them. Seiji ignores that remark and instead asks where Ryuuji is. Bringing up the one thing she doesn’t want to talk about, Sun tries to say that he has work so he left in a hurry. However, they both know Ryuuji works in the area where Sun lives, so they would normally take the same train. Sun tries to continue talking with a smile, but it steadily turns into a pained expression.
Seeing that something is clearly wrong, Seiji bluntly asks, “What happened while we were gone?”
Surprised by the question and no longer able to hold it back, Sun looks away and starts tearing up. Hanabi rushes to her side to try and comfort her.
“Seiji! Don’t make her cry!”
“What? It must have been Ryuuji, not me.”
“He is being a jerk, but he’s not being completely unreasonable either.” Sun explains, still crying.
Seiji lets out a sigh, “Let’s just go somewhere in private so we can talk. You look like you need it.”
Sun agrees to go with them, trying to calm down on the way. They go to a shopping area close by and Sun and Hanabi take a seat on a bench while Seiji gets them some drinks at a stand across the way. He hands a drink to each of them, deciding not to get one himself, and takes a seat, leaning back with his arms up on the bench, waiting until Sun is ready. After a few minutes, she proceeds to explain what happened. Starting with her, Steve, Ryuuji talking in Starfight last night, the sudden news about Komi Industries, Ryuuji lashing out and attacking Steve, and Sun taking out his character. She can’t help crying as she explains, then saying she tried to talk to Ryuuji this morning, but he was clearly just as upset as last night. After letting it all out, she settles down, wiping away the tears that are left. Seiji is the first to speak up.
“We’re gone for one weekend and it gets this bad?”
“I’m sorry we couldn’t be there to help.” Hanabi says with her hand on Sun’s shoulder, trying to comfort her.
“Don’t worry about it.” Sun says, looking towards them with a slight smile. “You really have nothing to do with this anyway. Ryuuji simply blames Steve and even thinks I was hiding this from him.”
“Sounds like this is becoming more complicated than he expected. Want me to try talking to him?” Seiji asks, leaning around Hanabi to get a better look at Sun.
“No, I don’t think your words will be enough. You know how stubborn he is.” Sun says, thankful he's willing to help.
“Alright but-” Seiji tries to respond, but Hanabi pops up in front of him, getting closer to Sun with a determined look;
“But we will still be here to support you whenever you need it!”
Seiji then complains, “C’mon Hana, don’t steal my line like that.”
Hanabi pats Seiji on the back and apologizes, but their interaction just makes Sun laugh. She thanks them for listening, and she apologizes that they had to see such a weak side to her.
“You don’t need to apologize for that. We all have a weak side, some just don’t show it as much.” Seiji says.
“See you still got to say something cool.” Hanabi says, poking fun at his comment just now.
Seiji looks away, slightly embarrassed. Hanabi gives the bag of souvenirs to Sun, telling her it’s just a few sweets from the area they visited, suggesting she share it with Ryuuji when they can talk again. Seiji tells her that they’ll give them some space in the game as well, just asking that she keeps them updated. Sun agrees to tell them if anything else happens, thanking them once more for everything they've done. With the discussion complete, Sun walks to the train station to wait for the next train while Seiji walks Hanabi home.
Over the next few days, their conflict remains unresolved. Despite Ryuuji working every night, Sun still doesn’t hesitate to take the same train. Even with summer vacation only a week away, she would rather it not take longer to get home each day. Sun just makes sure to avoid running into Ryuuji for now. As the week goes by, Ryuuji doesn’t talk to any of his friends nor does he log into Starfight. However, the day before school ends for summer vacation, Seiji spots Ryuuji in the hallways and decides to talk to him.
As Seiji walks up to him, Ryuuji turns around and grins.
“Oh hey you’re still talking to me? I thought for sure you’d be on Sun’s side.”
“What the hell are you talking about ‘sides’ for? There's no need for that, we’re all friends aren’t we?” Seiji says, upset by his remark.
Ryuuji then sighs as his smile fades.
“You’re right, that was too far for a joke. Sorry.”
“I’m not the one you should be apologizing to. Tomorrow if the last day of school until break ends, are you really okay with things ending this way?” Seiji asks.
“I know I know! Geez can’t believe I’m being lectured by a kid.” Ryuuji says, rolling his eyes after hearing his comment. “I have a plan to fix this. I just needed some extra time to….cool off. This whole situation with my dad’s company won’t stop blowing up in my face.”
Ryuuji leans against the wall beside them. “I’m sending a message out tonight in Starfight, to you and Hinami as well. I was working extra days this past week because they needed help. Since I have off I should be able to fix my keyboard.”
“What did you throw it?” Seiji asks, even though it’s obvious to him that’s what happened.
“Yeah, basically. When I wasn’t at my best.” Ryuuji admits.
“Well that side of you seems to come out more than it should, but anyway, why did you just say so? I have a spare at home.”
“That would help a lot. Mind if I stop by after school?” Ryuuji asks.
“Stop….over?” Seiji moves his lips in an attempt to speak, but he is suddenly stricken with fear and unable to. The very idea of having someone come over to where he lives causes a panic attack, leaving him frozen.
This lasts for a few seconds until he hears Ryuuji’s voice, “Seiji can you hear me?!” he shouts after trying to get his attention with no response.
Seiji looks up to see a concerned Ryuuji. Trying to pass by what just happened and to show he’s alright, Seiji smiles and pushes himself to speak up, “Sorry, come to think of it, I can’t remember where I put it.”
As he was speaking, Seiji avoided looking at Ryuuji, instead looking to his left towards the windows in the hall. Ryuuji could immediately tell something was wrong, but decided to save it for another day, not knowing how to handle it since this is the first time he’s seen him act this way.
“Don’t worry about it, I should be able to fix mine tonight. I don’t want a brat hounding me to return it anyway.”
“As if I would do something like that.”
After observing Seiji once more, Ryuuji says his goodbye and walks away. Now left alone, Seiji takes a deep breath and lets it all out, then punches the wall, annoyed by how he acted.
“That was pathetic! I consider Ryuuji a friend yet still panicked when it came to him coming to my place. What is there to be worried about?”
Later at home, Ryuuji is checking his keys after putting them all back in place. One by one, making sure they still work and are in the correct spot. Once complete, he opens Starfight and logs in, thinking this is a new record for number of days not logging in. Once in, he checks his party list to see that none of his friends are online, not that this affects his plans.
Ryuuji opens a new private message and types; July 30th 11am (my time) Duel of a lifetime. The amazing Akaninja vs the clever HeroHiro! You don’t want to miss it! He sends that to everyone and then also a coliseum challenge to Steve for the same date and time.
Ryuuji normally avoids the coliseum ever since the hacker incident from over a year ago. Players would get hacked and after the battle, it was erased from the game. At least 3 players were affected. Komi Industries was unable to recover any lost data or track down the hacker, so they discontinued coliseum challenges until they could create a more secure system. It took 6 months to do so and there hasn’t been an incident since then, reassuring Ryuuji that everything would work out.
When Ryuuji sent the message, it was past 1am in California where Steve resides. Having gone to bed shortly before, and being a light sleeper, the first alert from the message only makes his eyes twitch. The second from the challenge, causes him to open his eyes, frustrated as he only wants to sleep.
“I told them I was going to bed….what the hell do they want?”
Steve complains as he gets out of his bed, thinking it’s his friends from school who he was playing with today. He sits in front of his computer and puts on his glasses in the process. Only half awake, Steve’s eyes are barely open. He sees the notification is for Starfight and as he logs in, he thinks to himself ‘I haven’t seen Sun play since the night of the fight. I hope she's alright.’
Steve yawns as he checks his inbox, then his eyes widen when he notices a message and challenge from Ryuuji. He wastes no time reading them, ‘duel of a lifetime?’ coliseum challenge?’ Steve sits back in his chair and smiles.
“So that’s how he wants to settle this. Fine by me.” Steve says before accepting the challenge and responding to the group message. Afterwards, he turns off his monitor, the sound, and literally falls into bed, not even removing his glasses, smiling as he falls asleep.
Back in Japan, Ryuuji hears a notification and sees that Steve responded already. He laughs, knowing it’s probably really late where he is, wondering what he is doing up at this hour. He reads the message aloud, “Don’t expect an easy win, ninja boy.”
Meanwhile Seiji, Hanabi, and Sun also read the messages, giving them a better feeling after what has happened.
“So this is the plan he had in mind, why am I not surprised?” Seiji.
“It looks like he won’t be holding a grudge after all.” Hanabi.
“That’s right...he really has changed.” Sun.
Ryuuji notices that everyone has now logged in and assumes they read the message as well. With the pieces all set, that leaves just a few days to wait.
Far away in another country, a young Asian woman is sitting at her desk, tapping her finger, visibly upset, then shouts, “Dammit all! I can’t believe Hei has to get another surgery in a few weeks. Having 3 surgeries in the span of 7 months...he’s still only 10 years old! I wish there was a way I could cheer him up.”
She then looks at her computer’s desktop and logs into Starfight, except instead of the usual method, she hacks into the system. She attempts to hack into the colosseum, just as she did over a year ago before they improved their system, but this time switching the code around to try something different. To her surprise, she is able to get in. She immediately celebrates, letting out a big laugh and clapping her hands in joy.
“Amazing! They were able to lock me out before, but I guess they got lazy. Let’s~ see~ what~ we~ have~ here~!”
Humming to herself, she opens the list of upcoming battles, able to see the character name, class, country, date, and time. Seemingly uninterested in most of the scheduled matches as she scrolls through them, she stops when she sees “Akaninja, Ninja, Japan vs HeroHiro, warrior, US”
“A ninja? If I remember right there’s only one in the game. And the date...it’s in a few days! I know Hei will love this. See you there ninja~”
She sets up a reminder on her digital calendar and laughs once more, excited to take part, planning to hack Akaninja as she’s never been able to use that class before.
-Even when not logged in, players have the option to receive notifications for messages and challenges through their computer.
-In order for a coliseum challenge to be scheduled, it must first be accepted by the challenger. They can hold a date and time for 24 hours, after that the challenge is null. Players have the option to accept any challenges or not accept any. There only isn’t an option to automatically deny them when it’s from those who you form a party with.