Voyage of Dreams [Collab]
Time to shift the gears of this story! Let's go back, just a bit. That's right, back to combat class!
Leo was in a pinch after Haruka had taken his disc. Damn it! This was all the fault of that Torajima bastard for making him turn it off earlier!! <-- It was actually Leo's fault for not turning it back on in time.
Right now, the students of Neo Orion High School were spread across the battlefield doing different exercises. That's why, this time, the story will shift towards one of them. A particularly cute one at that!
-There she is, Haruka-sama!-
A girl around sixteen, the same age as the others, was hiding behind one of the grand metallic barriers. Her name was Sato Iori. She wasn't great in combat or anything. She was rather average. You could say she was the invisible kind that blended in with the crowd, sometimes... a little too invisible.
The girl with wavy, shoulder-length, brown hair sighed and adjusted her glasses. Since this was combat class, they were free to move around! This time she would approach Haruka for sure! All for the sake of the ultimate mission. One akin to protecting the fate of the galaxy.
She would try to... make friends!!
But first! She had to witness the resolution for this battle no matter what! Seeing Haruka-sama in action was so cool!! Go Haruka, go! Now that Leo is missing his disc it's checkmate!
Something wasn't right. Why was Haruka's hand bleeding? She was cut by a blade?! How?! She was watching the entire time! There was no way Leo could activate his disc!
Iori looked to her left after listening to the voice of a boy who (not so) silently celebrated to himself.
"Heh. You owe me one, Leo!" Rio Milan hid a small device in his pocket.
"Don't tell me..."
Upon realizing what happened, Iori made it her mission to chase this sexy blonde to the ends of the galaxy.
A minute later, Rio didn't know why he was running but the girl with glasses was coming at him with killing intent.
“Excuse me! Coming through!”
Rio slipped between or jumped over several other students while they were locked in combat practice as he ran for his life within the massive, but confined battle hall. Before the other students could call him out on his interference, they were blown away by the sheer explosive force from a second person who didn’t even seem to acknowledge their existence.
It was horrifying whenever Rio looked back to check on the distance between himself and his pursuer.
The bespectacled girl was getting closer and closer to catching up with him, almost like she kept gaining a burst in speed whenever their eyes met. Her face was twisted with rapture, both hands outstretched and clawed.
Who was she? It was only now that Rio acknowledged her existence. This was not a joint training class with another section right!?
His train of thoughts were derailed when his spine arched forward thanks to a vicious tackle from behind.
Groaning and flat on his back, Rio tried to get up, but the upper half of his body refused to respond aside from one free arm. His azure eyes slowly opened. Rio saw a blurry image at first, but then his face warmed up at what he saw.
The girl was on top of him and the gap between his face and her chest was almost non-existent. Brown hair fell to him like a curtain and her glasses slipped off, revealing hazel eyes that narrowed down into slits. Her smile was that of a vixen.
“Hi, I'm Sato Iori! Sorry for the sudden attack! I just couldn’t stand how you and Leo were double-teaming Haruka-sama, so I decided to help her and take you on in her stead,” she tightened her hold. “I’m not very good at fighting, but I know a little Judo.”
Instead of responding, Rio tried to squirm and struggle his way out Iori's pin, but it was mostly in vain. He was at least able to free himself from a glomping suffocation.
“Oh, how about this? If you tell me your name, I’ll give you a hint on how to escape from this ‘scarf hold’” Iori proposed.
Rio looked away, and clicked his tongue. This was humiliating.
“Delta team. Laguna Tesla.” Rio lied while clenching his teeth.
“Oh? What was that?” Iori pulled his collar even closer to her. “I can’t hear you.”
“Delta Team! Laguna Tesla!”
The girl suddenly let him go, making his body fell head first.
“Well… Laguna…” the girl said as she activated her disk with her right hand. “I may not be good at combat per se, but…”
Her voice abruptly became a lot chipper, as she gestured some sort of combat code with her hand.
“An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” Iori smiled in a wide grin.
Before the boy could react, a hand grabbed the girl’s disk.
It was Torajima.
He had stopped the disk with just his bare-hands.
“This guy is a monster…” Rio thought to himself.
“HEEEEYYYYYYY!!!” The bulky man yelled. “This is hand-to-hand combat! Are you guys deaf?!”
“Eeep!” The former brave girl kneeled down and curled into a ball. Getting on Torajima’s bad side was scary, after all.
“Hand-to-hand he says, but he let Leo go… Not fair…” Rio thought to himself, as he stood up and cleaned the lint off his clothes.
“And YOU!” Torajima said as he pointed violently at Rio.
“I know what you did. Expect extra lessons later this afternoon.”
“Hey, but wh-”
His sentence was cut off midways.
Torajima had glared back at him, before resuming his way.
Iori was now walking through the hallways after the whole incident was resolved. When Mr Torajima left, the boy who called himself 'Laguna' made a run for it while she was still curled up into a little ball just like a hamster. The brown haired girl sighed, extending her arms into an unreachable ceiling. She had lost track of Haruka and now she was depressed she wouldn't be able to make friends having lost her golden chance a few minutes ago thanks to Leo and Rio's antics to defeat her unfairly (or at least that's how she saw it). She started wondering since when she wanted to make friends with her, with her heart pounding miles per hour each time she saw her. Even if they weren't in the same class or had never had direct contact per se, she felt something stabbing her chest and making her hide as soon as Haruka was near, unable to approach due to a sudden increase of nervousness and a small dose of anxiety.
"Yet, I want to be friends with Haruka-sama!" she cheered herself up, closing her eyes, just to bump into someone. Iori fell to the ground, hitting herself. "That hurt..."
"Are you okay?"
Iori couldn't believe what she was hearing. It was a miracle. Indeed a miracle!!
Opening her chestnut eyes, Iori was seeing Haruka-sama extending her hand like a handsome prince towards her in order to help her to stand up. Frozen solid in place, Iori couldn't even mumble getting lost in every single aspect of her cherished Haruka. Yet, the hand Haruka was extending to her was the same one she had gotten injured during the lesson. She couldn't let such a precious hand wait a minute longer, it would be rude as well.
"I'm sorry for bumping into you, I was deep in thought..." Haruka apologizes.
"F-Frie...." Iori couldn't even look at her directly, while fidgeting with her hands. She wanted to thank her but...
"Frie...? Fries? Are you hungry?" Haruka raised an eyebrow in suspicion.
Internally, Iori was screaming for all that was happening: (WHY CAN'T I SAY FRIENDS!?)
Though however Iori tried, her tongue was still twisted. Her mind was in a fritz over the matter of a simple word. Iori looked up, noticing Haruka’s perplexed stare at her.
(W-What should I do?! If I don’t say something, Haruka-sama is going to think that I’m weird!)
Her mind raced for a sentence—any sentence that can remedy this situation. She felt like hours passed, but in fact it was only a few seconds. Her lips was sealed tight, unable to open unless a suitable sentence will spill out.
“Umm, as long as you’re fine, then I’ll be heading—”
Haruka turned as she was about to finish her sentence. Iori knew that she wasted too much of her time, and now Haruka was in a hurry to leave. All because she couldn’t muster a single word.
(I-If I don’t say anything, then I won’t be able to move on at all! Come on! SAY IT!)
Iori shouted, stopping Haruka in her tracks. Iori didn’t realize how brave she was at the moment, and now she was hoping for a miracle.
“W-W-Would you like to eat some fries with me?!”
Iori said, but she said the wrong ‘F’ word. Rather, if she said friend, the sentence would have sounded horrifying. Haruka widened her eyes at the bold question, and noticed the sincere look in Iori’s eyes.
“…Sure,” Haruka smiled. “I owe you for the help before, so I’ll take care of the pay.”
“N-No!” Iori interrupted. “I-I have no intention of milking you for money! I… really just want to hang out with you…!”
Iori’s cheeks blazed as she finally released what was inside. Haruka got surprised, but then she smiled warmly.
“Then, the fries on you, Iori-san!”
There it was, her name spoken from Haruka’s lips. Iori’s eyes widened to their sockets, and her smile rose wider than that.
Iori then stood side by side with Haruka as they headed to the cafeteria for some much-needed fries.
Walking with Haruka-sama felt like an eternity Iori could live with, that's for sure. She sometimes timidly looked around to make sure no one was going to go after Haruka, she could see the eyes of other people glare at her as she walked with her precious idol.
Soon, the two had arrived and stood in line to order. She wanted to make some conversation with her, but she was too shy to think of something to say in public. Maybe, just maybe when she gets to the table with her, she'll be able to say something!
After the two had ordered their fries, Iori sat down across from Haruka and began to eat. She ate so daintily, like an angel! She was truly someone to aspire to be like, that's her Haruka-sama for sure!
"U-Umm, Haruka-sama!?" Iori sputtered.
"Yes, Iori-san?" Haruka responded.
"I-I've... always wanted to talk to you!" She managed to say to her, with a bright blush covering her cheeks.
Haruka couldn't help but smile. Iori seemed like such a nice girl, much nicer than Leo and his friend for sure.
Wait, were they even friends? Right now, all she could hope for is that she won't ask about her hand.
"I appreciate that, Iori-san. It's nice having some female company for once."
"I don't get why you hang around that Leo all the time! You should be spending more time with other girls instead, we're nicer than him!"
Haruka tensed up somewhat, a small frown creeping over her features.
"Well, I have my reasons. He's still someone I consider dear, even if I think he's an idiot at times."
Iori wanted to say this next sentence so badly, but she couldn't bring herself to. It was her only chance to spend time with Haruka-sama, so why couldn't she get it out right now!?
Haruka was about to stand up and excuse herself.
"W-Wait!" Iori raised her voice.
"Yes?" Haruka blinked.
“U-umm…” Iori stuttered. She knew she had to say something, and fast, but she hasn’t even thought about it.
Haruka noticed the girl looking down to her lap, and got closer to her.
“Are you alright?” the long haired girl asked in a worried tone. This, however made Iori panic even more.
“Oh god, what should I say now? What if what I say offends her, again? What if I say something very stupid?” various stray thoughts invaded Iori’s mind.
A barehand was placed on Iori’s forehead. It was her precious Haruka’s.
“Are you sure you are okay?” Haruka asked worried. “You were sweating a lot, and couldn’t listen to me…”
“Ah- No- I mean Yes!! I’m alright!!! No need to worry about me!” The short haired girl hurriedly replied.
Despite what Iori said, Haruka still looked concerned about her. Maybe, Iori still didn’t trust her enough, after all…
“I see…” the long haired girl gave a sad smile, and moved back her hand. “Still, please be careful, okay?”
Haruka stood up, and quietly walked away.
“…I messed up.” Iori thought to herself as she pressed the automatic clean up button on the table. She stared at the void as her dishes were magically teleported away.
The artificial sun streamed through the fake sky while Iori decided to take a walk around a man-made park, yet her mind was clouded with grey. Inside the spaceship, you could find almost everything to recreate an optimal environment. That is why there was a park, however the sun was fake. It was just to give the illusion they were on a real one.
Her mood ricocheted between low and lower. She had no energy or motivation to get done the mountain of work that awaited her on her next class. So she sat in one of the wooden benches and sighed. She had ruined her first chance to make friends with her precious Haruka-sama.
Yet, a sudden spark illuminated her mind.
"How did Haruka-sama know my name if we are not in the same class and have never interacted with each other before?" deep in thought, she continued. "Could it be that...?"
A girl's blonde hair tumbled forwards over her face, bleached whiter by the fake sun and looking more pale against her summer tan. With her longer hair she'd been in the habit of flicking it back or else tying it up, but with the shoulder length bob it simply moved all on its own.
"Nio-san?" Iori fixed her glasses just to see one of her classmates approaching and sitting next to her. "H-Hi...!"
"What are you doing here looking all depressed? That's not like you!"
Iori wondered why Nio approached her. They casually talked during class about trivial stuff and the blonde haired girl could make friends easily with everyone. That's why she felt like a relaxing presence.
"I..." mumbled Iori. "I... kinda... ruined something I had been waiting to do for a long time..."
"Well, almost everything that has been ruined can be fixed! Let me help you!" Nio smiled. However, her personal communication wristband started to sound and she looked displeased when the screen with a name showed up. "Give me a second..."
"Sure." Iori smiled.
"What happened now, Rio!?" Nio said in a bothered voice.
(Rio?) Iori had never heard that name before.
“Detention with General Torajima?!” Nio shouted into her communication wristband. “…You’ll miss karaoke-chess tonight! …Fine, I’ll wait for you. Geez, Rio.” She ended the call and turned to Iori. “My dumb cousin got detention and wants me to meet him after.”
Iori stared at Nio. “Detention with Torajima-sensei?” A devilish grin spread on her face; she was thinking of something. “Can I meet this cousin of yours?”
When class ended, Iori followed Nio to Detention Hall. Two boys waited in the hallway…Iori recognized them both.
“Iori, this is my dumb cousin, Rio,” Nio introduced the blond boy.
(This is bad!) Rio thought as the bespectacled girl’s stare gave him goosebumps.
“Ohhh, ‘Rio’.” Iori’s smile was menacing. “Nice meeting you, ‘Rio’. I’m Sato Iori!”
“H-hi…” Rio squeaked, sweating.
“Leo, too?” Nio groaned. “Combat training mishap?”
“Yeah,” both boys muttered.
A girl with honey yellow eyes approached, and Iori’s heart soared as she now wore the same distressed face as Rio. It was Haruka.
“It was a dirty trick!” Haruka told Leo, but she smiled. “Also, very clever. Still, you deserved detention for unauthorized remote control of a Data Disc.”
“Clever remote control,” Leo snickered.
“Haruka-sama!” Iori burst out excitedly.
(‘Sama’?) Everyone wondered.
“Thank you for the fries earlier!” Iori bowed down stiffly. “You are a good f-f-frie…”
Nio looked at Haruka and realized something.
“You’re Aida Haruka,” Nio said. “Your gravity combat skills are wonderful!”
Haruka humbly replied, “Thank you!”
“Um,” Iori said shyly, holding her Data Disc, “I practice gravity manipulation, too. You inspired me, Haruka-sama…” She forced a smile. “I’ll show you!”
Iori activated her Data Disc, which floated in midair. It sparked, shuddered violently, then turned black. Everyone felt a slight tug toward the malfunctioning disc.
“Oh no!” Haruka immediately recognized the problem, being versed in gravity techniques. “You black holed it!”
“Welp, that’s not good,” Rio said, scratching the back of his head as the data disc continue to pull at him.
“Don’t look so lax!” Haruka shouted as she held up her own data disc. “Hold on, I got this!”
Haruka then threw her data disc at the blackened disc, generating a spark that coiled around her disc like a snake as it reached towards the black hole.
The disc entered seamlessly, then the black hole expanded in size, immediately making the gravity around it stronger to the point of getting everyone else to hold onto the wall next to them.
Then, the black hole ceased to be, with two of the discs falling down, one belonging to Iori being no longer electrified, and the blackened disc that looked to be burnt out and smoking.
“Ah…” Iori made a peep, her cheeks beginning to blaze up from the embarrassing sight. “I-I’m…”
“Hah, you should be more careful,” Haruka said, marching towards her disc and picking it up. “It’s good to show off, but if you carelessly use gravity techniques, you’ll end up making a black hole accident.”
“I-I’m so sorry…” Iori said, lowering her bespectacled gaze at the ground.
“W-Well, at least no one is hurt from this…” Rio said, picking up the burnt disc from the ground and giving it to Iori. “Here you go.”
“T-Thanks…” Iori picked up the disc from Rio, but then gave him a short glare that made him flinch in response.
“Well, now that that’s over with, how about we get this detention thing over with so that we can get to our karaoke-chess night!?”
Nio shouted, bringing her fist up into the air. She wanted to let go of this awkward atmosphere as soon as she could, getting everyone to go along with it.
Once the two boys got into the detention and served their time with the infamous General Torajima, the two boys came out completely exhausted, their eyes practically dead and their cheeks sunk in as if they were sucked all of their energy out.
And just as Leo thought his day couldn't get any worse, he spotted a certain orange haired boy from across the hall, the one person who annoyed him even more than Haruka...it was Jax.
Leo's face dropped to a disdainful scowl as he prepared for Jax to go on another spiel about how great he is and how not-great Leo is.
"Well, well, well...look who's decided to show their sorry face."
"Nobody's exactly celebrating you making an appearance eith-" Leo muttered under his breath...
"Out of the way, daydreamer."
...but Jax cut him off as he pushed him out of the way and walked past him, straight up to Rio.
They proceeded to show off an elaborate handshake that had clearly been practiced as Jax gave Leo, Haruka, Nio, and Iori looks of dissaproval before breaking out into laughter.
"Heh, I swear, you're too funy sometimes! Fancy seeing you hanging around with these lot!"
A sweat drop formed on Rio's forehead. Jax even puts Rio on edge.
"Eh, some stuff happened, detention with Torajima, now we're about to go for some karaoke-chess, you know how it is."
"Hmph, yeah I get it. Just don't turn into one of them, yeah? I'll see you on Saturday if we're still doing that competition."
"Yeah, I'll be there, don't worry."
"Alright I'll leave you to...this, then. See ya, Laguna."
Jax walked off wearing the same smug grin as he always does, as soon as he was out of auiditory range, Haruka and Leo gave Rio menacing death stares.
"Hey, what are you looking at me like that for?! Just watch and learn, will ya?"
What was this boy talking about? Everyone's sight followed Rio's index finger. W-what was about to happen? Iori felt so lost. Was this some inside joke that she was left out of?! And she still didn't trust this boy at all! Why did he say he was named Laguna, anyway? Everyone was clearly calling him Rio, right? Wait. Rio was river in spanish. Wasn't Laguna just lake? That... was such a dumb line of thinking, how could she fall for such a dumb trick?!
Wait a second!! Just now, this Jax person called him Laguna didn't he?! So that meant...!!
Yep. A good explanation came right after in the form a sudden explosion coming from the palm of Jax's hand. It wasn't anything lethal but it had some tweaks here and there to send the boy blasting off into the distance.
"Hehe, that's a nice one! What do you think? It's the first time I try it out!" Rio looked so proud of himself. Almost too proud. For some reason that infuriated Iori. Not because she cared about Jax at all, it's just that Rio's sexy face was so punchable!!
"Hey no fair I came up with that prank!" Nio hit his cousin with her elbow jokingly.
"What? It's not my problem you were too late!" He laughed, giving Leo a wink. "Dude, we've known each other since ever why would you doubt me now?"
"I didn't doubt you but hey, if I don't react for dramatic effect who will?" Leo crossed his arms as he spoke like this was just a matter of fact.
"Any-way!!" Haruka stepped in, breaking the flow of the prankster. "Let's go, shall we?" Taking notice of Iori being out of place, Haruka tangled their elbows together.
"H-H-Hawawah!!" Iori's sudden squeal could be heard even far away.
"Are you feeling okay?"
(Haruka-sama's face is so close!! S-Say something!!)
"Y-Yeah! I'm just new to karaoke-chess is all!!"
"Hah? You don't know what karaoke-chess is?!" Rio grinned mockingly. "There's no choice, guess I'll explain!"
Rio started fiddling with his data disc until a projection appeared on the wall. "All right! Karaoke-chess! First of all, it's played by two teams, Red and White," Rio said, as a bunch of stick figures appeared on the screen. "There are 8 people per team, and each of them takes control of a chess piece! So you start by choosing a piece to challenge and telling them what song they need to sing, and if they sing it well then they advance one space, and if they sing it badly, you capture that piece and they have to drop out! Whichever piece advances 8 squares the fastest gets to challenge the king and they have to do a duet and whoever sings better wins! Okay, any questions?"
Everyone looked at Rio's presentation with their mouths gaping open. "Um...no, I think..." Haruka said.
"Rio-san, there's only five of us," Iori said.
"Well then...we'll have the fudge the rules a bit. Let's make this...boys versus girls!" Rio said, winking.
Iori and Haruka looked at each other; Iori blushing as she realized she'd be on a team with her idol. "That's...that's a wonderful idea!" she said.
The five of them made their way to the ships' recreational deck. Like the educational wing, it was built to provide all the comforts of a typical downtown area in a typical modest-sized city. At the karaoke parlor, Haruka presented her ID. "Five for the big room, please," she asked the AI that served as the attendant.
"You have 63 credits. How many hours would you like the big room for?" the monitor asked.
"Hmmm. I think...maybe three hours should be sufficient?" Haruka said.
"Three hours? You must be ready for a good game of karaoke-chess then. Please proceed to room 2 when you are ready."
"All right, let's go!" Haruka said as the door to the karaoke rooms unlocked with a click. "Iori-chan, how good are you at death metal?"
"Death metal...Wh-what's that?" Iori asked.
☆ Death metal? It was quite the odd question but the answer would come to Iori really soon.
At first that was your regular karaoke room. After all, the tradition of good old karaoke wasn't lost in this new world just yet. Of course, once the system for karaoke-chess was activated, what stood before them was far from your usual image of karaoke. A giant chess board stood in the midst of the heavens. And then, the board itself spread out into a maze that connected all the way with a town standing above the clouds, all in true RPG fashion. Since they had been divided by teams: Haruka, Iori and Nio stood over the red clouds to the west while Leo and Rio stood over the green clouds to the east.
A microphone popped out of their ear pieces and with a fun jingle it was Game Start!
First it was Haruka's turn, no surprise there. What song would she choose? Iori looked intently as the velvet haired girl scrolled down the holographic window.
Something Rio never mentioned is that this was still karaoke. Even though the goal was to challenge a chess piece, you had to sing too. If the piece sang better than you, it was all over.
The electronic voice of the Pawn was soon drowned out by Haruka's powerful death metal screams.
(W-Wha-?!) For a second, Iori's voice completely froze over. (What a lovely angelic voice!! As expected from Haruka-sama!!)
But then, something changed. At the moment, they didn't know a thing but something was beginning.