Chapter 11:

The Trusted Alliance

The WTP Club

Sousui and Glenn had arranged to meet at the main square. When Glenn saw Sousui approaching, he immidiately noticed that he was nervous and lost in thought. They greeted each other, then Sousui indicated which direction he wanted to take and started walking. Silence reigned between the two for most of the way.

At first, Glenn was confused by Sousui's mental absence, but when he noticed what Sousui was heading for, he suddenly understood what was going on.

"You can do this", he told his friend, patting his shoulder supportively as they arrived at a hospital.

Sousui nodded and took a deep breath.

At the reception desk, he introduced himself and was picked up by a nurse along with Glenn. 

"This is your first time here, isn't it?" the nurse asked Sousui as she led the way.

Sousui nodded slightly embarrassed.

The woman noticed that the question had made him uncomfortable and continued "That's really brave of you."

She opened a door to a room and invited the two students inside.

There Sousui saw she lying, his mother. She was all pale and emaciated. She had some tubes attached to her that were connected to strange machines at the other end. Her face, however, to Sousui's relief, looked calm and peaceful.

Glenn put his arm around Sousui. 

"She's beautiful", Sousui stammered as a tear trickled down his cheek. Then he narrated "She raised me all by herself, you must know. My father left us when I was a baby. She did everything humanly possible to give me a normal childhood despite that." Sousui was now completely lost in memories. "Whenever I was sad about something, she would kneel down in front of me, look me in the eyes, and say with a voice of deep confidence ‘Everything will be all right for sure.' And you know what? In the end, somehow everything always turned out to be all right. I wondered at that time if maybe she had some sort of magical ability to solve all my problems. I wish I could look her in the eyes and tell her with the same confidence that everything will be all right now."

That all sounded really hard. Glenn wondered if he should say anything uplifting. However, it seemed best to him to just remain silent and continue to listen.

"Two years ago she met my stepfather", Sousui continued "She was so happy and I thought she was finally going to get all the happiness she'd always deserved. And then something like this happens..."

Sousui shook his head in disbelief. He strode up to his mother and took her hand. "Can you leave me alone with her for a moment?" he asked quietly.

"Of course", Glenn replied before turning around and leaving the room. 

Glenn waited outside the door for about fifteen minutes before Sousui appeared again. As he left his mother's room, he appeared calm and even smiled a little. Glenn noticed, however, that he must have cried a lot; his eyes were still all red.

"How was it?" Glenn asked cautiously as they left the hospital again.

"Liberating... mentally liberating", Sousui replied, looking off into the distance "I can feel that she is fighting. And that's wonderful to see."

He gave Glenn a hug, then took a deep breath and said "Now that the WTP Club meetings are always in the evening anyway, I’m going to check in on her every day right after school! I'll support her!"


When Glenn came into the clubroom that evening, there was already a lot of excitement in the air.

Va was jumping up and down like a rubber ball and asked "Why haven’t we heard anything from Sikh yet? Maybe they locked him up and torture him right now to make him tell all the WTP secrets! Glenn, do you think everything is okay with Sikh!?"

"Va, it's only 7:15 pm. Sikh will still be in the tryout", Sousui replied placatingly. He, to Glenn's relief, seemed much more lively again. 

"Ugh!!! I can't stand this tension", Va whined "Lenin, entertainment!"

Lenin started displaying a video of panda bears doing somersaults.

"Oh my god, how cute!" Va and Emily exclaimed almost in chorus.

"How cute!" Glenn confirmed in his thoughts, but referred to Va who was now lying in front of the screen with shining eyes.

"So, are you alright?" Glenn walked up to Sousui to check on him.

The latter smiled. "Yes, thank you, you were really a great help today. I wouldn't have dared to enter this room alone I think." He paused for a moment, then continued "I'm not the only one, who has decided to make some changes by the way." He pointed at Wark, who was sitting in a corner, being consumed by a book.

"What's he reading?", Glenn asked, then continued with rolling eyes "I bet it’s some stupid comic book."

Sousui shook his head and said "An introduction to different social systems and their respective cultural backgrounds." 

Glenn marveled. Now that he thought about it, he realized that Wark had actually begun to change in a positive way. Wark had spent the last week exclusively with activities other than playing computer games and silly fantasizing. He actually seemed to gain a foothold in reality and seemed to want to develop his character. Glenn, convinced that this was just the beginning of Wark's alpha transformation, felt proud of him. 

While Va and Emily clicked through videos of cute animals on the Internet together, Glenn played a card game with Sousui, but was constantly defeated and soon lost all interest in continuing to play. Then, all of a sudden, Va's phone rang.

"I passed tryout", Sikh euphorically said at the other end of the line "I'm coming to you now!"

When he entered the WTP headquarter, Va asked nervously "What was it like? Were you attacked?"

"Not really", Sikh placated "Landini is very nice. And others are very nice too!"

Va eyed Sikh skeptically. Then she replied "I don't think so. You probably just didn't understand all the diabolical things they were saying." She demanded to hear the audio recording, whereupon Sikh handed her his phone.

The recording had been started outside Landini's house. After Sikh was heard ringing the bell, he was met by Landini and invited inside. It seemed as if everything had worked flawlessly with the recording. From the beginning on, the group heard all the voices clearly.

Sikh was led to the basement of the house and was told by Landini that he and a friend had set up a gaming room there. Apparently, some other people had already gathered in this room for the tryout.

The WTP members heard how Sikh was greeted friendly by several voices after he had entered the room. Landini offered drinks to the guests and then the sounds of the consoles starting could be heard. Next, Landini explained the tryout rules, but nobody in the WTP Club except from Sikh could follow. After that, nothing happened that was of slightest interest to WTP. In fact, after the tryout had kicked off, all that could be heard were strategy discussions related to the game and players cursing now and then.

"How boring", Glenn yawned after a while, but tried to stay alert after being elbowed in the stomach by Va.

After about 20 minutes, Landini announced a break and left the room. The players took the opportunity to get to know each other. They introduced themselves and started having small talk. A lot of nerd topics were discussed. They exchanged about their favorite superheroes and their favorite series.

Va pricked up her ears when one of the players suddenly said "I have to admit, it would be so nice if girls in reality were like the ones in Hoen Ryomen, if they were grateful and sincere."

"Yes, and if they were also interested in gamers for once", another voice added with a laugh.

"That damn video game", Va cursed "It's turning everyone into perverts." 

The sound of a door opening was heard in the recording. Landini's mother had appeared, offering home-baked cookies to the attendants. Sikh, as well as the others, eagerly grabbed them before Landini returned and asked the players to pick up their consoles again.

The second phase of the tryout went much like the first, and Va, to Glenn's relief, was eventually even persuaded to fast-forward the recording a bit. After the match was over, Landini announced the names of those he would accept into the clan. Sikh and two others had passed. Those who had not made it were encouraged to continue training and try again in the future. Sikh and the other two people were presented the clan's training schedule. Training was every other evening from 7 to 10 pm. Landini commented that while this was a very ambitious training schedule, the Trusted Alliance, as Landini called the clan, had set themselves high goals.

"Yes, and that goal is world domination!" Va shouted indignantly into Sikh's phone.

"I fear that recording alone isn't proof enough", Sousui smirked and tried to calm Va a little.

The end of the recording showed Sikh saying goodbye to his new clan mates. Then the tape stopped.

"Well", Sousui tried to sum it all up "I think we can state that this is indeed a gaming clan that Landini is trying to recruit people for, right Wark?"

Wark nodded.

"At the same time, we see that Hoen Ryomen gamers seem to be frustrated with girls in general and have certain sympathies for girls from games and animes."

"They hate real girls and idolize anime girls", Va corrected.

"Maybe", Sousui speculated "those who often make disrespectful comments about women, like the ones we heard in the recording, will get invited into some kind of a more exclusive inner circle at some point.”

Va nodded satisfied. "Yes and that inner circle will then work on Keiichi’s real goals. Very well analyzed, Sousui! That's probably how it is. +10 importance for Sousui!"

"If that's true", Wark added "Sikh only has to play along and make a couple of positive comments about the girls from the game and negative comments about real girls in order to be accepted into that inner circle, right?”

Va nodded again, looking highly consumed by the topic.

Emily sighed. "Landini is - just like Keiichi - in my class, as you all may know. He's always been totally inconspicuous though. It's a strange feeling to have surrounded yourself with such an odd person all this time without knowing it." 

"People are never really what they seem to outsiders", Sousui confirmed, then added with a laugh "I have been in a class with Va for over a year now, and I've never seen her act the way she does in the WTP Club."

"Hey! Don't compare me to Landini, that pervert!" Va exclaimed angrily.

"In your case, I like the real you better than the introverted girl you seem to be in class", Sousui explained, regaining his sympathy points with Va.

"I’m shall make negative comments about girls?" Sikh asked. He couldn't quite follow the conversation and was now trying to figure out what exactly the WTP Club expected from him.

"Try saying 'Real girls are totally disgusting. I love anime girls!" Va dictated.

"Real girls are totally disgusting. I love anime girls!" Sikh repeated, grinning from cheek to cheek "But why? I’m like real women more!" Sikh was visibly confused still.

"This way you can gain Landini's trust", Va explained "Landini doesn't like real women, only anime girls!"

"Oh, I see!" Sikh confirmed and repeated several times "Real girls are totally disgusting. I love anime girls! Real girls are totally disgusting. I love anime girls!"

Va cheered enthusiastically and rewarded him with +20 importance.

"Can this really work?", Glenn wondered, raising his eyebrows skeptically as he heard Sikh practicing his lines.

Sousui shrugged. "I honestly can't think of a better plan. I guess it's worth a try."

Thus passed one evening after another that Sikh spent in his new clan. At the first official training, he was introduced to three other people who were part of the clan too. One of them was none other than Keiichi himself. For the most part, nothing spectacular happened during the training sessions, which led the uninvited audience to soon decide not to listen through the recordings together anymore, but to take turns. This also left them more time to get back to the more enjoyable club activities they had been engaged in prior to Sikh's tryout.

Wark, in particular, was relieved to be able to invest more time in the self-discovery process he had just begun. On the one hand, he was still reading the book through which he hoped to gain a deeper understanding of different ways to live a life. On the other hand, he was devoting himself to a new hobby: teaching himself to knit, crochet, and sew. 

Glenn considered these to be very feminine activities and didn't understand how bothering with them would be benefitial for an alpha transformation. Nevertheless he was pleased that Wark seemed to be leaving his life as a nerd behind and devoting himself to things that - in Glenn's eyes – served actual value to society.

On the recordings, after several sessions, there was still nothing to be heard of plans for world domination or anything similar. The only thing everyone noticed on a regular basis was that the comments about women became more and more derogatory as the clan members got to know each other better. Glenn's doubts that Sikh's rehearsed statements might sound weird turned out to be redundant.

The first time Sikh dropped his "Real girls are totally disgusting! I love anime girls!"-line, Landini laughingly agreed with him "That's right! Anime girls will always be better than real girls."

The clan members criticized that real girls would be easily dazzled and as a result would throw themselves at jerks, who were just playing with them. They complained that real girls would not notice the positive qualities that they apparently had and contrasted women from video games and anime in a positive way. 

Anime girls - according to the Trusted Alliance members - would still appreciate attentive behavior, loving gestures, and a good heart. After only a few sessions, the term sluts became synonymous with real girls in conversations.

Va then rehearsed more blatant statements with Sikh, which always received positive encouragement in his clan circle.

Sikh, who was never quite clear about what he was actually saying, was simply thankful that Va helped him integrate so well into the new community. The fact that his new clanmates laughed so much with him made them sympathetic in his eyes. He did not recognize the questionable background of the laughter.

Glenn, Sousui, Emily, and Wark soon realized that Va's story might not be true in terms of the group making serious plans for world domination. But she had not lied about the weirdness and nastiness of Keiichi and his friends, as well as their obsession with anime girls and their rejection of real girls. The group sensed that things were going to get more serious from now on.