Chapter 13:


The WTP Club

As it was already mid-October, the students were about to take their first exams. Sousui, who now regularly visited his mother, lacked time to study. Nevertheless, he had the claim to himself to maintain his good grades and therefore, the following day, he decided to use the entire time in the club room to prepare for the exams.

The others took this as an opportunity to unpack their textbooks too and follow Sousui’s example. For them, however, it was much more difficult to grasp the material. Luckily, Sousui was gracious enough to give them help whenever needed.

At some point, when fatigue overcame, Sikh asked "Where are Va and Glenn, by the way?"

The two had usually been one of the first in the clubroom during the past few weeks. On this day, however, there was no sign of them, even though it was nearly 9 pm. Sikh glanced outside, where it had begun to drizzle lightly. 

"It’s Glenn’s turn to listen the recording of yesterday. Maybe he’s being hide”, Sikh speculated.

"Or maybe Va and Glenn ran off with each other after their workout yesterday", Sousui laughed.

"That's so unfair!" Emily complained grumpily "Besides me, there's only one other girl in the club and still she has to throw herself at my guy of all men!"

Wark first felt the urge to remind Emily that he was still available and was a great guy too. However, he slowly started to understand what was considered as weird in conversations and decided to keep his mouth shut.

Suddenly, footsteps approaching the clubroom could be heard.

"That must be Glenn and Va", Sousui wanted to say, but the last words stuck in his throat.

The curtain was pulled aside and in the doorway two people, dressed completely in black and covering their faces with white masks, appeared. One person held ropes in their hand, the other some sort of sign.

Wark and Sikh startled, and Emily began to shriek.

This triggered a pre-programmed message from Lenin, who suddenly commented "Panicked chickens and Keiichi fans are a danger to the liberal democracy."

"Lenin, this is not the time for jokes!", Emily exclaimed angrily.

Then she suddenly noticed Sousui signaling her to calm down. He pointed at the sign, and Emily noticed that it read "Keiichi forever! Down with WTP!". Moreover, as she lowered her gaze to the hand holding the sign, Va's iconic dices caught her eye. 

Wark had not figured out what was going on yet and saw his opportunity to prove himself to the group. He let out a battle cry and - before Sousui could stop him - ran at the person that Emily had quickly identified as Va. He lunged to strike, but before he could land a hit, he was grabbed by the arm and wrestled down to the ground in seconds. He tried to pull himself up again but had no chance against his opponent.

Pseudo-heroically, he shouted "Escape quickly, leave me behind!"

Then he got his hands tied behind his back and was unable to get up anymore.

"Sousui, we have to fight too!", Sikh shouted. Unlike Wark, he had understood who the attackers were, but thought the whole thing was supposed to be combat exercise or a game. He ran toward the intruders, but quickly met a similar fate as Wark.

Sousui didn't seem too thrilled with the idea of being tied up. He just rolled his eyes and commented "Ugh, you guys are idiots."

"Sousui, be a man and face the fight!" Glenn's voice was heard from under one of the masks.

"You fool, you'll reveal our identities!" Va scolded, angrily jabbing her accomplice in the stomach. 

"We never would have figured out your identities otherwise", Sousui said in a sarcastic tone and poured tea into a cup for the two strange maskguys.

Va, however, showed no mercy. Within a secord, she charged at Sousui, knocked the thermos out of his hand and pushed him to the ground.

Glenn, meanwhile, tied up the visibly confused Emily, who made no great effort to resist.

"With that, Keiichi has won! Muhahaha!”, Va cheered, showing off a victory pose.

Then she helped Sousui, who now looked a bit annoyed, back up.

"Honestly", Sousui reproached them as he untied the knot from Wark's rope "What are you thinking? Emily almost had a heart attack."

Then he turned to Wark and asked if everything was okay with him.

Wark nodded. He looked very perplexed, and also seemed to be a little embarrassed by the situation; otherwise he was unharmed though.

"We are now in the hot phase of our mission, remember?” Va justified herself while taking off her mask "We wanted to prepare you for what we could face any time now. Apart from Wark, you all reacted poorly by the way. Emily, you must fight back when you're being tied up!" 

"At first, I thought Va's plan was ridiculous too, but Va's not wrong", Glenn elaborated "The more we find out about our opponents, the more sinister they seem to me. Having experienced such a situation before, can potentially help us reacting better to actual dangers."

"We brought you something as compensation", Va announced while getting her backpack from the anteroom. She first pulled out some blankets, explaining that it would get increasingly colder in the club room from now on. Next she unpacked a bottle of champagne and, last but not least, two framed photos. Emily had taken these on the roof a few weeks prior. One showed Va dancing under the stars, and the other one was a selfie of Emily making a piece sign in front of Glenn, Sousui, Wark, and Sikh. Va hung the photos on the walls and then passed out glasses for the champagne.

She explained “Because it’s going to be more serious from now on, we should toast to our peaceful club days and remember the good times."

Wark slowly regained his composure. Va's sentimental speech touched him and he could no longer resent her odd prank. He still felt a little ashamed that he had been wrestled to the ground with only one arm and on top of that by a girl. However, he decided to not let that spoil the evening. Rather than being frustrated over what had happened, he wanted to learn from the experience. Va even gave him credit for his fighting spirit and rewarded him with +20 importance.

The group toasted with champagne. After that, the WTP members got lost in banal topics and Sousui completely forgot that he had initially planned to dedicate the evening to studying.

Glenn noticed at some point that Emily was surprisingly quiet. He pulled her aside and asked "Did we actually scare you? If we did, I'm really sorry. That wasn't our intention."

Emily shook her head. "That's not the point. It just made me realize what kind of danger we're actually exposing ourselves to. And that scares me a little."

"If you don't want to expose yourself to it, you can always leave the club", Glenn reassured her "I would completely understand that."

Emily shook her head again. "No, I have to take the leap of faith. My life has always been so carefree. And Va is so strong, I need to take a cue from her. I want to become as strong as she is."

"I guess Va is indeed the strongest of us all", Glenn confirmed, looking dreamily at Va.

"Are you in love with Va?", Emily asked curiously; the look in Glenn’s eyes spoke for itself though.

He nodded wordlessly.

Emily giggled. "I had already thought that such a strange action doesn't suit you at all. But I guess you do crazy things for love." 

"Yes, I guess the whole WTP Club made me do things that don't suit me at all", Glenn confirmed again.

Then there was a brief moment of silence between the two.

"Thanks for listening to me", Emily ultimately said "I'm feeling a little better now. Let's go back to the others... Oh, and I'm rooting for you to get together with Va!" She hugged him before rejoining the rest.

Meanwhile, the group had once again opened their debate game. Glenn joined in and challenged his fellow contestants to a political duel. He expressed the opinion that the nation-state was the best model of government and - after Wark expressed doubts about it - gave an enthusiastic speech about all the impressive achievements their own country had made in the past.

Afterwards, Emily professed that she thought Boys Who Cry were the best singers of all time, but had to admit in the course of the debate that even Boys Who Cry's songs could not compete with Koni's Hupen from Hochtirol.

Last but not least, Va made the claim that Spain had actually once been part of Mexico but had then been cut off from the mainland and its inhabitants had paddled across the Atlantic Ocean with the landmass. When Sousui then began to give her a dry lecture on the physical laws to which humanity was subject, she directly raised the white flag and conceded defeat.

At the end of the evening, Va got serious. "Glenn already knows about it; now I will tell you too: Bane called me yesterday just before midnight. He found out that Keiichi's parents are out of town, and he wants to launch an assault on his house tomorrow morning. He plans to break down the door with axes and then take Keiichi's laptop with force. He puts all his eggs in one basket and hopes to be able to prove Keiichi's criminal plans beyond doubt with the laptop alone. Well, and since I am part of his 'WTP' Club, he expects my participation. If I shirk, Smoke might suspect that Bane and I aren't really pulling together, but that I'm actually pursuing a different plan."

"So you're going to break into Keiichi's house tomorrow?" Wark exclaimed shocked "What if the police catch you?"

"That would still be the lesser of two evils." Va sighed. "Since Smoke and Keiichi are working together, Keiichi will be prepared. And I'd clearly rather fall into the arms of the police than in Keiichi’s arms."

"You could tell Bane that you think Smoke is not actually part of your team. Maybe then he'll change his plans again", Emily reasoned.  

"That's what I did", Va replied "He meant that I shouldn't talk such nonsense and assumed that I was just jealous because my WTP Club hasn't had a member as capable as Smoke."

Then Va went to her bag and pulled out a small chip.

"This is a tracking device", she explained "I'm going to tie it into my hair tomorrow morning and will try to keep it on me. You'll be able to locate me through Lenin at any time via the command 'Va’s Location'... unless that chip is found on me and removed of course."

The group nodded spellbound.

"Wait until 1pm; if you haven't heard from me by then, please call the police and send them to my location. If they catch Keiichi holding me against my will, perhaps they can be convinced to also search for proof for his cruel plans. I still fear that Keiichi might have some henchmen within the police who would then try to sweep certain things under the table, but it would be worth a try in this case."

The faces of the group had become gloomy. Everyone had taken Va deep into their hearts and worried about her. Both Keiichi and Bane were unpredictable, and seeing Va run straight into the arms of their enemies gave them an uneasy feeling. 

Sousui ultimately took the floor "I'm sure you are aware that a lot can go wrong. Even if your preparations are smart and well thought out, many unpredictable things can happen. I don't like that you decided to go with Bane, but I respect your decision and can assure you that we will support you in the best possible way."

Va smiled happily. "Everything always sounds so intelligent coming from you, Sousui. Thank you all so much for everything!” She strode past the pictures hanging on the wall. "It was really such a great time", she concluded sentimentally.

Before saying goodbye, they agreed on Wark's suggestion to meet in the clubroom the following morning to pursue Va's mission together. The weekend had arrived, which meant they had no other obligations. And no one would be able to sleep well in under these circumstances anyway.