The WTP Club
While Va was gone, Glenn pulled Sousui aside. He had become really surprised by the commitment he was showing.
"Tell me, do you actually think there could be something to Va's story, or why else would you spend the evening looking for Landini's ad?"
Sousui thought about Glenn's question for a moment, then replied "You're also pumping a surprising amount of energy into this club, considering the fact that you wanted to leave right away on the first day. I'm assuming you don't necessarily believe Va either. So I'm guessing you're pursuing some other personal goal with this club... maybe I am too."
"And what goal would it serve to spend your evening doing such a weird 'research'?", Glenn asked sceptically. His own true motives were a bit more obvious.
Before Sousui could answer, Glenn felt himself being pawed at the shoulder.
"What's up, Glenn?", Beat said, trying to sound as self-confident as possible.
"What do you want? Weren’t you taught not to interrupt other people's conversations?", Glenn asked slightly annoyed.
Beat laughed weirdly. As the group had already noticed, that generally seemed to be Beat's way of dealing with situations that were uncomfortable for him.
"I've fallen in love with Star from my class, and I was hoping you could give me some advice on how to make her my girlfriend."
"Star?", Glenn laughed. He remembered running into Star regularly when working out. Even though he barely knew her personally, she seemed many leagues above Beat. At first, he wasn’t quite sure what to answer. On the one hand, he could imagine that Beat's desire to get together with Star might motivate him to work on himself. On the other hand, he didn't want to give him false hope. In the end, he decided to stick to the truth, but add a little twist.
"Star won't be interested in someone like you at all. But if you finally start doing an alpha transformation, maybe you can have a chance with a girl like Star someday in the distant future."
Beat didn't seem satisfied with the answer. Defiantly, he said "In the future, Star may already be with someone else. Besides, I want her now. So what should I do?"
"My answer remains the same", Glenn replied disinterestedly.
Undeterred, Beat continued to fantasize "I should ask her if she wants to be my girlfriend."
"No, you shouldn't!", Glenn said sternly "You'll just embarrass yourself in front of everyone."
"But maybe she loves me too", Beat replied, already picturing in his mind how beautiful the relationship with Star would be.
"What makes you think she would love you?", Glenn asked amusedly.
"Luigi emptied his orange juice over my head today and said that with my unkemptness, that is still an improvement for my hygiene. Star then told him to leave me alone and accompanied me to the sink to clean my hair. At the end of the break, she said I could always come to her if I needed help."
Glenn was a little speechless for a moment. "Don't tell me that's why you fell in love with her", he then said in disbelief.
"Yes, that’s why I fell in love with her", Beat confirmed "Star is wonderful, a shining heroine."
Glenn clutched his head and Sousui also sighed.
"Star pities you", Glenn explained "There is a huge difference between pity and love."
"Maybe not", Beat replied with the same stubborn tone.
"There I am!" The door was yanked open loudly and Va walked into the classroom with six small game consoles in her hand. "What did I miss?", she asked with a broad grin on her face.
Beat took advantage of her question, hoping to get encouragement for his plan from Va. "I told Glenn that I love Star. I should ask her to be my girlfriend, right?"
"Sure!", Va said promptly "Go get her, sis!”
Beat seemed in a much happier mood now that he had received the affirmation that he had longed for. Sousui noticed that Beat's intention had never been to actually get advice.
Va handed out the games and declared "Enough time wasted on unnecessary love talk. Now let's get back to serious business."
"Hoen Ryomen" appeared in large letters on the screen as the consoles were turned on. The six were prompted to select their player’s name before an introduction played.
"Welcome to the Hoen Ryomen world. This world is inhabited by busty girls who find happiness in mud wrestling with other girls. You, as a young trainer, have the task of preparing the girls for their fights in the best way possible. But be careful: It can happen that a girl wants to get close to you and maybe even falls in love with you. So always be prepared! A world of adventures awaits! Let's go!!"
"Disgusting", Va commented angrily, while Sousui wondered why this game hadn't been pulled from the market for having misogynist content.
Wark, on the other hand, seemed to be quite enthusiastic about the task and said "Oh that sounds great! I'll take great care of my girls!"
The players started their adventure. Spread across the map they found the announced busty girls, all designed in anime style with huge eyes and a petite physique. They all looked very similar to each other and could only be told apart by their hair colour. One could gain the trust of a girl through a friendly conversation and make her part of one's team. In training battles, the player then had the task of raising the "level", thus raising the fighting strength of the girls, before signing up for tournaments to win badges. The game didn't seem to offer more content really, and Glenn soon found himself wondering why anyone in the world would even waste their time playing it.
Despite the simplicity of the game, both Va and Glenn failed to even recruit a girl for their team. As it turned out, the interaction options "Gift her a roll of toilet paper" and "Grab her by the hair and drag her away" didn't lead to success in the conversations.
Sousui and Wark managed to assemble a team but failed miserably in their first tournament matches. Only Beat and Sikh seemed to have an easy time.
Glenn, who disliked failing, quickly lost interest in the game and put his console away.
Sousui followed suit.
Va tried to learn from Beat and Sikh and had them explain to her what exactly she had to pay attention to in training and in tournament fights. As it turned out, despite the simplicity of the game, many complex variables decided the outcome of a fight and Va was quickly overwhelmed by all the things that she had to keep in mind.
"Wait, wait, 'Aive'? 'Eeve? Can you repeat that again?", she was heard stammering while digging through her hair.
Wark, like Glenn and Sousui, also decided to give up on his trainer career at some point. Instead of quitting the game entirely, however, he began to focus on another aspect of it. He set himself the goal of being the greatest caretaker possible for all the girls who had become part of his team. Irritated, Glenn and Sousui watched him feeding them and talking to them as if they were virtual pets of his.
Then Sousui said "For our goal to infiltrate the clan, it's actually enough if only Beat and Sikh are good at the game, right? I'm going to return my console. Maybe I'll get the money back. I feel uncomfortable that we're even supporting such a disgusting thing with our money."
"Take mine with you", Glenn instructed while handing him the console "I won't waste another minute playing it either."
While Sousui left the classroom, Va preached "You have well realized that we can only stop Keiichi if we focus on our respective strengths! +20 importance to Sikh and Beat for making use of their abilities so well!”
Sikh seemed to have understood the importance ranking by now and was curious where he stood in the rankings. "Lenin, inpontance!", he commanded.
Instead of displaying the importance list, however, Lenin now spoke "Learn our language or we will kick your unemployed ass out of the country!”
Sikh, who could not follow, looked confused at Va. Glenn laughed out loud. Although he didn't quite want to admit it to himself, the WTP Club was entertaining him more and more. On the one hand Va was pretending to be super-serious all the time, while on the other hand such absurd things happened out of the blue.
"Are you sure Lenin is 'communist'?", he asked amusedly "Maybe he's just politically radical in every way."
"Don't insult Lenin!", Va said angrily, "He's also an important part of the club. Better make yourself useful instead of loafing around while Sikh and Beat work so hard toward our goal."
"I could intimidate Landini a bit and threaten to beat him up if he doesn't come out with details", Glenn suggested with a grin.
"No, Keiichi doesn't seem to know anything about WTP's goals yet, and we want to keep it that way! We must not become too offensive yet!", Va cautioned.
"Too late for that.” Va and Glenn were interrupted by Sousui, who had suddenly reappeared in the doorway. "Look what I found on the bulletin board", Sousui said and held out a flyer to the group.
It showed a large picture of Keiichi and surrounding his face was a writing that read "Stop the living anime girls! Become part of the world saviors! Join the REAL WTP Club!" At the bottom of the flyer were contact details of Bane.
Va gulped, then screeched "What an idiot! Why would he reveal WTP's goals to the entire school!? And what does he mean by 'real' WTP Club anyway!?"
"Take it easy", Glen said calmingly and suggested "Instead of Landini, I could also threaten Bane to beat him up."
Va, however, was not in the mood for his jokes. Clearly, the whole thing was really bothering her. "We need to search the school for more flyers and destroy all of them. Maybe Keiichi hasn't seen them yet", she said nervously.
Even though the others didn't really understand what exactly made Va so uncomfortable, they all agreed to help. So they split up and started searching.
Va and Wark inspected the area outside the school building. Glenn checked the attic, Beat and Sikh worked their way through the classrooms, and searching the basement became Sousui's job. As it turned out, Bane had not only pinned a single flyer on the bulletin board but had actually flooded half the school with them. Everyone was walking around with at least a dozen flyers in no time. One would have assumed that the WTP members were in the process of spreading them themselves.
One of the last classrooms Beat inspected was 4-B, Keiichi's and Landini's class. Beat found what he was looking for right away; Bane had attached two flyers to the blackboard with magnets.
Just as Beat was removing them, the door opened. A threatening aura suddenly permeated the classroom and into the doorway stepped none other than Landini. Beat flinched.
"Why so tense?", Landini asked skeptically, quickly realizing from Beat's expression that something was wrong. He began to look deeply into Beat's eyes.
"I uhh... I uhh...", Beat stuttered.
He suddenly had a thousand things going through his head. What if Va had been telling the truth all along? What if Landini and Keiichi were actual criminals? Suddenly he realized how stupid and naive he had been to get involved with this club. Why was he exposing himself to this risk?
Landini calmly walked up to him and then snatched the flyer from his hand in one quick movement.
"Hey!", Beat protested.
Landini looked at him pityingly. Then he read through the text on the flyer and asked dryly "Are you part of this WTP Club? Didn't Va start the club a few days ago? I didn't realize you were all about 'saving the world'."
Beat didn't make a sound. His heart was beating so furiously that he feared his chest would explode at any moment.
Then Landini sighed and put on a friendlier look again. "You're really a weirdo, but it's nice to see that you've made friends who are obviously as weird as you are. Interesting idea, by the way, to keep a group together."
Beat slowly composed himself. "What do you mean? 'What is an 'interesting idea'?", he asked shakily.
"A common enemy", Landini explained "As they say: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. A common enemy is the most effective way to create harmony and a sense of togetherness within a group." Then he thought for a moment and continued "Keiichi is a buddy of mine though, and he's a really good guy. I don't think what you do is fair to him. At least make sure he doesn't find out about this and don't expose him on flyers!"
Beat didn't know what to answer. Landini didn't seem to feel threatened by the club at all. If he was actually a criminal collaborating with Keiichi, he would react differently, no?
Landini finally gave him back the flyer. Then he went to his seat, picked up a book he had apparently forgotten, and said goodbye.
Beat felt the tension ease. Exhausted, he let himself fall against the blackboard. For a moment, he had thought that his life was about to end. The fact that he had gotten out of the situation unharmed relieved him immensely. He wondered if that confirmed that Va's story was just made up after all. Regardless, he had to inform the others about his encounter.
As he strode somewhat paranoidly back to the clubroom, the conviction grew in him that he had to confess his love to Star as soon as possible. He told himself that, by doing so, he would show gratitude to fate for having granted him survival.
After the rest of WTP heard what had happened, Va cursed "Fuck, this is a major setback!"
Glenn patted her on the shoulder supportively. Va seemed to be getting seriously into it. This wasn't just acting anymore, was it? This girl raised so many questions.
Sousui took the floor "So Landini now knows that you, Beat, are in the WTP Club, and he knows it from Va, and he probably mistakenly thinks Bane is part of it too, right?"
"Then at least he still doesn't know about the other four of us", Sousui continued after thinking for a moment "That means we can still easily infiltrate Sikh into Landini's clan. Wark, Glenn and I can also still benefit from Keiichi not knowing that we want to stop him. We have to look at the bright side of it."
"That's true", Va confirmed while still nervously playing around with her fingers "Nevertheless, we have to make sure that Landini and Keiichi don't suspect any connection between us. We should probably stop talking to each other at school and move our club activities to another place. After all, this classroom here was listed as the club's meeting place on my flyer.”
Glenn was really irritated by Va's seriousness. She didn't want to talk to him and the others at school anymore, just because it was required by the script of her role-playing game? Glenn didn't understand Va one bit anymore.
Sousui, on the other hand, felt that Va's seriousness was tearing him away. Even though it was clear to him that he and his friends were not really in danger, Va's reaction to the events created an impressive thriller atmosphere. A glance at Beat, who had started to sweat again, also told him that this feeling unfolded in everyone. It fascinated Sousui immensely.
"I think it would be the best to end our club meeting for today", Va concluded, "Now it's weekend anyway, we'll have plenty of time to think about everything. I'll open a chat where we can exchange ideas about our next steps." Then she said to Beat "You and I have to be careful from now on; we are in danger!”
They left the classroom at short intervals from each other. Va demanded these safety precautions so that they would not run the risk of being seen together by Landini. At least, to Va's relief, another encounter between Landini and one of the club members did not take place.