The WTP Club
The next day, Va left class a few minutes early to wait outside the school for her club colleagues.
Sikh was the first to appear and was immidiately beckoned over by Va. She had hunkered down behind a row of little bushes that adorned the entrance gates to the school.
"You have a nice day”, he greeted her, then continued with a grin "And a nice shirt too!"
According to the dress code, Va wore a white long-sleeved shirt showing two women with bright hair colors and large breasts fighting each other.
Glenn was the next to step out of the school. When he noticed the two pairs of eyes staring intently at him from the other side of the hedge, he picked up speed quickly and pretended not to have seen anything.
Va was faster though. She jumped out of the bush and dragged him by the hand over to Sikh.
To her displeasure, Glenn disregarded the dress code. "How are we supposed to spy on Keiichi when you're dressed so suspiciously?", she reproached him.
Sikh agreed with her. "Black t-shirt is not anime!"
Glenn sighed and said sarcastically "Yeah, what a shame. I guess I should just go straight home, so we don’t risk getting caught."
Next, Wark appeared, dressed in a t-shirt with a drawing of a yellow sponge and a pink starfish. "The most anime-like thing I found", he justified himself.
Va wanted to angrily lecture him as well, but suddenly she caught sight of Keiichi waddling out of the school with a tired look on his face. "Quick, hide!", she hissed, pushing Glenn's and Wark's heads down.
"This way we won't attract any attention at all", Glenn commented in his usual sarcastic tone.
"Why are Sousui and Beat still not here?", Va complained and instructed "Wark, Glenn, you two try to find them, while Sikh and I go after Keiichi. We'll let you know where we are."
The next moment she stormed off with Sikh by the hand.
Once Wark and Glenn were alone, Glenn said rebelliously “Alright, I’m going home, ciao.”
As he was about to step over the bush, he saw Sousui running toward him.
"Sorry I'm late", he apologized "The hospital called, that's why I got held up."
"The hospital?", Glenn inquired.
Sousui faltered. Apparently, he had told more than he had intended. "Never mind, never mind", he deflected "Where are Va, Beat, and Sikh?"
"And Bane", Wark added.
"Bane is leaving the club", Sousui reported "During a break, Va told me that Bane had texted her last night that he was - quote - tired of this bullshit, that we'd never stop Keiichi this way, and that he felt unfairly treated by our arbitrary assignments of importance. Bane was totally dismissive to me in class too, didn't even say hello to me and muttered something about that he would show us how to actually capture Keiichi."
"How can he take that so seriously, what's wrong with him?", Glenn asked incredulously.
Sousui shrugged. "So, what about the rest?"
Wark explained that Va and Sikh had already gone ahead and that they still needed to round up Beat.
After Beat still hadn't shown up two minutes later, Wark decided to give him a call. "Beat, where are you?"
"Uh... uh...", one could hear him stutter at the other end of the line "I already headed home. Spying on someone sounds like something my parents would tell me not to do."
Glenn suddenly saw a purpose in the mission. He snatched the phone out of Wark's hand and yelled "Beat! Be a man and not a mama's boy! Get your ass over here!"
Beat tried desperately to find excuses. "But I have so much homework to do..."
"Get your ass over here, NOW!", Glenn repeated once again mercilessly, then hung up.
"He'll come", he said convinced to Wark and Sousui, while returning the phone.
While the three waited for Beat's arrival, Wark tried to break the ice and finally get to know his clubmates on a more personal level.
"So?", he said "What do you guys actually like to do in your spare time?"
Glenn gave him a slightly annoyed look and replied "Preferably not hanging out with you."
Sousui responded more politely "Well, as you may know, I am passionate about chess, plus..."
"Do we really have to make small talk", Glenn interrupted "If anything, let's talk about the important questions in life: Where do you see yourselves in 10 years?"
Sousui faltered and suddenly looked visibly saddened.
Wark, in turn, reacted with a broad grin. "In 10 years, I will have married a beautiful woman and started family with her. I will be drawing a stable income and perhaps..."
"No woman in the world would start a family with you", Glenn interrupted viciously.
"What could you possibly offer a woman?"
Wark was undeterred by Glenn's contemptuous words. Stubbornly, he replied "I'm kind and I take good care for others. Besides, I'm going to inherit a lot of money one day."
"If you really think that this is all it takes, you've got a lot to learn", Glenn said, rolling his eyes "But I put more hopes in you than in Beat."
"Speaking of Beat...", Sousui interrupted the conversation, pointing down the street where Beat could be spotted walking toward the three of them with tiny steps.
Wark took out his phone again and called Va. "Hi Va, I managed to gather all..."
"Very good", Va whispered "Come to the City Hall right away, something incredible is happening here." Then she immediately hung up before Wark could reply anything.
"You pathetic wimp", Glenn insulted Beat.
The latter buried his face in his shirt and muttered "I don't want to go with you."
Glenn, however, had already grabbed him by the arm and was dragging him away.
Halfway there, Wark received another call from Va. Before he could say a word, Va hissed "Forget about the City Hall. I'll meet you in front of Keiichi's house." She quickly gave him the address and immediately hung up once again.
Sighing, the group changed routes and Glenn started having doubts whether PlatinumOne's task was really worth all the effort. Especially the fact that Wark and Beat had began to talk about some racing game for the PC strained Glenn's nerves immensely. And he couldn't even rant about them to Sousui, because Sousui had become quite lost in his thoughts.
When the four finally found Va, she came running up to them agitated. "You won't believe what we overheard! Tell them Sikh!"
The four listened intently.
"Keiichi and Landini met for a coffee to go. It is really terrible!", Sikh explained with a sinister look.
Sousui listened up. "Landini? Isn't that that one guy from class 4-B, the one with the bald head and expressionless face?"
"Yeah, really awful that Keiichi dragged him into his plans too", Glenn commented sarcastically.
Va didn’t notice the sarcasm once again and seemed even more agitated now. "Isn't it? Isn't it? But that wasn’t even the shocking part! Landini was talking about building an 'army'. So he's already preparing for a war against humanity."
"An army?", Sousui reassured himself "Are you sure that's what he said?"
"Do you think they were really talking about an actual army? After all, armies also exist in card games and computer games", Wark noted.
"Or is it possible that this conversation never took place like that and your imagination is running away with you again?", Glenn said bored.
"That's exactly how it took place!", Va exclaimed angrily "Tell them Sikh!"
"Yes, I am think conversation was about arms and legs maybe, I don’t know." Sikh pondered strained.
"How exactly is Landini supposed to build this army then?" Sousui decided to play along once again and dig a little deeper.
"Through the Internet", Va explained "Probably their plan is to recruit nerds on forums who believe in the dream of a new world filled with anime girls and are willing to fight for it."
"Well then, we could just search for Landini on the internet. We'll probably learn more that way than by just speculating", Sousui reasoned.
"Good idea, good idea!", Va replied "+20 importance for Sousui."
"What are we doing in front of Keiichi's house by the way?" Glenn changed the topic.
"Well Keiichi went back home after the talk", Va explained.
"Again, what are we doing here?", Glenn asked impatiently.
"I brought binoculars, we're spying on him!" Va grinned innocently.
"There's nothing to be afraid of, Glenn. In case of an attack, I'm fully prepared."
"Afraid?" Glenn was incensed. "If anything, I'm afraid that we'll end up watching Keiichi doing some perverted stuff again. I can spare myself the pictures!"
Without waiting for another response, Glenn turned around and stomped away. Before Va could say anything, Beat also took the chance and stuttered "Yeah, I agree, the pictures uhh... I can spare myself!" Nimbly, he followed Glenn.
"I'm afraid I'm going to leave as well and rather focus on the internet research", Sousui explained cautiously, viewing the observation of Keiichi's room as a clear violation of Keiichi's privacy and thus hoping to get out of the affair.
Va was visibly unhappy about her members' resistance. "This will have consequences!", she shouted angrily after the traitors but that didn't stop them.
That left only Wark, Sikh and Va, the iron core of WTP, as Va now called the three. Despite the loss of half the group, Va still seemed determined to spend the afternoon in front of Keiichi's house. She had already familiarized herself with the surround area and spotted a tree-covered hill nearby. Overzealous, she dragged her clubmates to the hill and climbed up the earthy slope with them. Once they reached the height of Keiichi's roof, she instructed the others to try out from which place they could best see into Keiichi's room.
To Va's displeasure, however, Wark didn't quite realize the seriousness of their mission and seemed to view the operation as a socializing event. After only a few minutes, he began pestering Va with various questions about her family, her hobbies, and her favorite subjects instead of looking for a suitable lookout spot. At first Va tried not to let him distract her. After a while, however, it began to annoy her quite a lot.
In addition, the plants posed a much bigger challenge than she had expected. Although they protected one from being discovered, they also caused quite an obstruction of the field of vision. In the end, Va threw in the towel and decided to end the WTP meeting for the day.
The next day, the group met again at 4:30 pm in the classroom that Va had been allowed to use for her club meetings. Sousui's concern that Va might hold a grudge against them proved unfounded. She greeted everyone with a broad grin and acted as if nothing had happened.
Glenn again instructed the others to do a quick workout. Then he gave them a crash course on all the foods that, apparently, were essential for a healthy, balanced diet. The fact that Wark was stuffing a packet of potato chips down his throat in the meantime caused him to flare up briefly, but Sousui's interested inquiries eventually brought him back down.
Sousui then presented his research findings to the group. He had actually tracked down some online profiles of Landini the night before and had come across a call from Landini looking for players for his "clan" in Hoen Ryomen. He ended his report by concluding that Wark's suspicions seemed to be true. Apparently, Keiichi and Landini had indeed been talking about an army in a video game.
"Or....", Va added, causing Glenn to prepare himself for another completely absurd story "He wants to hire players for a trivial video game clan first, so he can put them through their paces. Perhaps only those who seem to have a real affinity for Keiichi's visions will be offered to join the actual Keiichi-army."
"And how would he want to verify that?", Sousui asked.
"To find out, I guess we'll have to apply for the clan ourselves! Lenin, search for 'Landini Hoen Ryomen Clan'", Va ordered.
Lenin positioned himself on the desk and displayed the page he was instructed to. The six gathered around Lenin.
"Yes, that's the ad", Sousui confirmed.
"But it says you need competitive experience in order to be accepted to the clan", Wark noted.
"Can you translate that from nerd-language into our language?", Glenn asked wearily.
"Well, simply put, it means that you're expected to have played Hoen Ryomen at a high level for a long time", Wark explained.
"Surely you've been playing Hoen Ryomen at a high level for a long time, Beat, no?", Va speculated "What else would you be doing all day long?"
"No", Beat replied "I just play racing games and jump n' runs."
"How useless", Va said contemptuously "-20 importance for Beat."
Beat felt uncomfortable with how Va always put him down, but he didn't have the guts to stand up to her.
"Then I guess we'll have to learn the game ourselves, how hard can it be?", Va declared optimistically, reaching for her jacket "I'm going to the Gamestore quickly, see you in a minute!"