Chapter 8:

Chapter 8

I Accidentally Killed The Protagonist

With a wave, Yuuna bid farewell to the Occult Club for the evening, and Tsugumi followed with a bow, subtly aimed at Shintaro, although Shintaro had only discovered waving, bowing was still beyond him at this point.

He'll learn eventually.

Before I could tell him to head home for the day as well, Fushigi approached him. He flinched for a second.

"Well that makes my life a little easier," she spoke. "Any longer with only one member and they'd ask me to dissolve the club and give up the room. If you and those girls hadn't shown up then I wouldn't know where I'd be. After all the upperclassmen graduated, I was kind of willing to give it up. But it looks like there's still some saps around with their heads in the clouds."

She placed her hand on the club application form.

"I better run this to the faculty office. Even among those that operate with the mysteries that lie beyond the boundary, none are free from the demon that is paperwork."

On the desk on the way out, Fushigi noticed, or perhaps remembered, that Shigenori was still in the room, asleep with his arms on the desk. I couldn't blame him for being tired out by what happened earlier. Fushigi's lips formed a smirk and she snatched a marker from one of the shelves, drawing spirals on his cheeks and clicking the lid back on the pen with a huff of satisfaction. 

"Maybe I'll even let this guy join if he gets his act straight. Idiot~"

She then returned to the door, but stopped for a moment to admire something.

"Aww, look at this little guy. Are you lost, sir?"

She crouched down to interact with the creature on the floor. She soon started to pet it gently. It was something shiny. And black. With two long, spindly antennae...

"A cockroach," announced Shintaro, as if answering a quiz question.

A cockroach.

"Mhmm~" replied Fushigi, and gave Shintaro a wink before leaving. 



And with that, I eagerly skip ahead to the next exciting event for our protagonist: Shintaro's first volleyball game, the one that will decide his sporting career going forward.

("This is the ball-tossing batallion, yes?")

(Please just call it a volleyball team.)


(Volleyball. Look, whatever, close enough.)

Shintaro was, currently, in his homeroom class, preparing to change into his P.E. clothes for ballyba- volleyball. We had waited until everyone else had finished changing so that the room was empty to prevent any complications, but I still waited outside the door, still not massively eager to see an alien strip. We communicated through the door as normal, the distance not impeding the telepathy in any noticeable way.

("So, um, Nare, what is volleyball?")

(Oh, you said it right this time. Volleyball is a sport, a recreational physical activity, where you have to hit the ball over a net into the marked area on the other team's side. But there's one catch: each person on your side of the net can only hit the ball once before it passes back over. That's why it's a team game.)

("We don't have any games like that on my planet. Most of them are played on an individual against individual basis.")

(Well you'll want to work with your team on this one. There are three basic actions: receiving, passing and spiking, so in essence, defence, support and offence, and it's impossible for one person to accomplish all of them on their own.)


(Don't even try it. It's Shintaro's... your goal to achieve a position on the school team's starting lineup, but trying to do everything alone like an idiot is not the way to accomplish that. If I give you any more help at this point I might as well just play for you, the best way for you to learn is to go out there on the court and experience it yourself. But still, try not to mess it up.)

("There was one sport I was known for being skilled at on my home planet.")

(Oh really? Well, maybe it won't be that hard after all.)

("Yes, it was a sport that required a lot of finesse and thought.")

(Oh yeah? What was that?)

("It was named... hmm... it's a hard one to translate. Let me check my device.")

There was a short pause before I heard another reply from him.

(Boulder, Sheet, Clippers.)

Of course. What did I expect?

("I was undefeated.")

(Good for you.)

("Although, I wasn't the best sportsplayer among the people I knew. There is one who is amazingly talented. Nobody could even hope to match them. T-")

(Alright, alright, get a move on. We're already late by being the last person in the room, we can't afford to chat.)

("I see...")

The door slid open and Shintaro appeared, wearing his P.E. uniform. I hovered around him to inspect his appearance.

(Everything seems to be in order. Uh... go get 'em?)

I slapped his back, and he looked at me in confusion. I had no idea why I thought that was a good idea. Soon after, we entered the gymnasium, and before anything could even begin, Shintaro was met with stares from everyone already assembled in the centre, a natural reaction for someone who was, at this point, about ten minutes late. One person, in particular, was shooting daggers right at his chest, and I recognised her from earlier. It was... Nagumo Yawara, the selfsame teacher who had picked Shintaro up by the collar and dragged him to class for being late on the first day. Her sharp features and dark eyes only helped to accentuate the deathly gaze she was giving, made clearer by the fact that her deep black hair was tied into a ponytail, with no hope of obstructing her face.

"Kiriguchi...this is the second time this week. You're clearly intent on testing my patience."

I had already taught Shintaro to apologise whenever he was in doubt about what to say, but this time no direction was needed. "Sorry", he responded, the vengeful aura emitted by Miss Yawara more than enough to make the reaction innate. 

He's bowing too!?

"Alright," Miss Yawara sighed. "I haven't got the energy to deal with this so I'll let it slide as it's the first week of school, but consider this a warning. Let's get on with class."

The boys all gather in a semi-circle facing Miss Yawara, who was, in stereotypical sports teacher fashion, holding a ball with a whistle hanging from her waist.

"The situation is as follows," she announced, raising her knuckle to her lips. "This will be the first of three practice matches during the first weeks of this school year, both to determine your base skill as players, but also to decide who will be on the first starting lineup for the year."

As the explanation went on, I scanned the crowd to see who we might be up against. As expected, Kotaro Megishima was there, already doing stretches and psyching himself up, as if the match he was about to take part in, in his mind, were some manner of Olympic-level, life-defining event.

I guess that's just how some people get in these stories.

The second person I came across, however, was much more of a surprise. Scrawny, with arms like springtime bean stems, Shigenori was somehow here as well, although he looked about as confused about this as I was. I noticed he was talking to himself, so I heightened my hearing to listen in.

"Curses..." he mumbled. "That fool of a nurse, for her to not be convinced by my performance is truly a disaster. How on earth could I not have seemed ailed to her? The amount of screaming and writhing should have made that obvious."

I think that was what gave you away if anything.

"It does seem, however, that my eternal companion, Shintaro, has also joined. Fate shines down upon me, my random selection of volleyball when forcibly coerced to select a sport was not in vain. I shall support him as much as possible."

Taken in my Shigenori's monologuing much more than I, or anyone, should be, Miss Yawara's announcement had already shifted into allocating the teams.

"Oohaka, you're on Megishima's team."

Shigenori turned around and looked toward Kotaro and the beginnings of his team. He then looked at the opposing team and noticed Shintaro. Shintaro waved meekly back at him.


He skulked over to Kotaro's team, and along with him, the remainder of the teams were picked out. 

"Teams, take your sides. As soon as everyone is in position, we'll begin the match."

Everyone took their positions, with six players on either side. Shintaro started out as an outside hitter on the far side of the court, which, as lame as it sounds, relieved me. At least he wouldn't have to worry about being responsible for blocking and spiking right off the bat.

Kotaro was doing his best to rile up Shintaro from the opposite side of the net, flashing grimaces at him, but Shintaro was too far from the net to notice, no matter how many times Kotaro moved his head or reangled his attempts. One of the guys in front of the net, I think his name was Bonta, had a gaumless expression, and pointed at himself as if wondering why Kotaro was making those faces at him, but Kotaro just became flustered, groaned and then gave up.

"Let's get this game going," uttered Miss Yawara. "To start, it'll be heads for Megishima's team, tails for Tsumanaigawa's team."

The coin was tossed into the air and, catching it, she revealed it had landed on heads.

"Alright," said Miss Yawara, raising the whistle to her lips. "Match start!"

Lobbing the ball to Megishima, he was the first up to serve. Unfortunately, I had no way of reading his thoughts right now, no doubt it was something like 'I better win this match,' or 'this is all or nothing,' or 'watch this, Shintaro!.' I could definitely pick up on the last one, because as the echoing squeaks of his sneakers against the glistening gymnasium floor rose up and he leapt into the air for his serve, his shot was angled right toward Shintaro.

As the ball sped toward him, I had a few seconds of time to assist.

(Shintaro, quickly, bend your knees and hold your arms like this. Oh, and uh, lean forward a bi-)

Before I could finish my sentence, the ball had struck him square on the head, and he toppled over. His classmates looked on in awe as the ball was in the air. Using Shintaro as a distraction, I guided the ball through the air, giving it a helpful arc for his team to make the pass. Your sacrifice wasn't in vain, Shintaro.


(Try with your arms next time. We've got only a short time till we need to pick up the next ball, it's a quick game. Keep an eye on the ball and use your head. Well, actually, don't use your head...)

("Got it!")

He sprung back to his feet like he was made of rubber.

(When in doubt, watch what the others do.)

I saw Shintaro scan around the nearby players, and he then shuffled his feet to be shoulder-width apart. I was soon interrupted by a noise from the other side of the net.

"Foolish ball! Shudder in awe at my ultimate technique. Immovable Black Anchor!"

Unlike Kotaro, I have no trouble wondering what Shigenori is thinking.

He moved into a squat position and held out his arms, although for him it looked like he was lifting a mountain, with his lips puckered and... is he sweating?

The ball clashed with his arms and his bump was successful. Although, it was just an ordinary bump.

"Endeavour to return this, Shintaro my friend! The energy I have imbued into the ball with Immovable Black Anchor shall build and build with each successive pass, until it becomes a comet fired to your side, in the form of Shining Black Supern-"

His team had long since spiked the ball to our side of the net, courtesy of Kotaro, who seemed to be his team's ace. The rest of the team all had cringe plastered on their faces, doing their best to ignore Shigenori. This time, Shintaro didn't have to receive, but he ran toward the ball anyway. With me demonstrating the action of passing to him just in the corner of his eye, he was able to mimic it just well enough to perform a moderate pass and get the ball back over the net.

"Fantastic performance, my companion!" cheered Shigenori through the net.

Whose side are you on?

The match raged on, with Kotaro applying the pressure wherever he could. Even the person who seemed to be our team's strongest yet also somehow most average player, Bonta Tsumanaigawa, wasn't able to keep up the defence. I knew, despite how crazy it seemed, I needed to get Shintaro in a position to spike. After his blunder right at the start of the game, his teammates, understandably, weren't willing to send the ball his way.

From the other side, however, Shigenori was given his own chance, and made sure everyone knew about it.

"Here it comes! Starbreaker Starspike!"

Shigenori struck the ball as hard as he could, which to most of the players on the pitch appeared as if he barely hit it at all. As a result, it pinged off the net and wobbled away, providing Shintaro's team with a point.

"Curses, I forgot... for Starbreaker Starspike to succeed, the alignments of Betelgeuse and Aldebaran must be perfect! How could I have been so misguided as to brashly attempt it now?"

Sure, whatever helps you sleep at night.

Shintaro's team were up to serve again, although it was Bonta's serve. It was also his team, but I was going to continue to choose to ignore that. He did so, well, averagely. It got over the net.

The opposing team charged into position and set up Kotaro for a spike, which had already imbued the Pavlovian reaction into Shintaro's team to step back and square up for a strong hit. Kotaro took full advantage of this, tapping it lightly with a smirk and knocking it just over the net, meaning that no one was close enough to reach it. At least, so he thought. Shintaro launched himself from the back of the court and slid the entire distance to the net, able to hit it up from the ground, much to the gasps of his teammates, who all scrambled to get the ball back over. Kotaro huffed from the other side of the net, looking down at Shintaro who was nothing more than a pile on the floor, nursing his arm.

Was he impressed? But that was ridiculous...

Clearly far too embroiled in the energy of the game, Shintaro dragged himself back onto his feet and caught his eye on the ball. Without thinking, he leapt into the air to strike it, only to collide with the person who had already run up to spike it. The relieved, excited glow that the teammates once held toward him seconds ago faded away in an instant.


Shintaro, picking himself up from the ground this game more often than someone picks up litter, slunk back to his position. But his desire didn't seem dulled by his experience.

("Hitting that ball in the air... Jintaro would want to do that, correct?")

(You mean you would like to.)


(All I can say is it's a team game, remember? So prove to your team you can do it.)

He seemed confused by this at first but then nodded. The ball then flew back to his side of the net and, this time, he was able to nail the receive, some would say he even perfected the Immovable Black Anchor technique there and then.

The mood of his team lifted somewhat, and this was the moment I was waiting for.

(Go for it.)

("But last time...")

(It's fine. Go for it.)

The ball was reaching the setter, and Shintaro's head was still hanging, analysing what to do. I was about to push him forward myself, before he shot his head upward, flicking tiny beads of sweat from his brow, and calling out to his team:

"Over here!"

His arms were spread wide, and he moved into a sprint from the back of the court. There was no way that the opposing team hadn't noticed. Even I'd think the setter a fool for setting the ball to Shintaro with how much of a fuss he was making. But regardless, Shintaro ran, faster than I'd ever seen him, than I even thought him capable. The setter, Bonta Tsumanaigawa himself, wore a hopeless smile and readied himself. The guy that Shintaro collided with earlier also stood well back, observing the blockers on the other side, ready to jump.

Shintaro came to a dead halt before the net, the force of which thundered through the floor, and in that second leapt into the air, his feet thrusting off the ground without even knowing if the ball would go to him. Fortunately, Bonta had some faith in him, however slim, and the ball flew through the air across the court. But even Bonta was looking on in awe, as did everyone else nearby. Shintaro had jumped to a point so high so quickly that he appeared as if he were flying. Even Kotaro nodded approvingly.

Never underestimate extra-terrestrial athleticism...

He was in prime position. Shintaro was more than high enough to guarantee himself time to score. And so, he took his swing.

And missed.

The ball had already passed his hand, and he swept at empty air, before crashing back to the ground. One of Shintaro's other teammates saw this as an opportunity, and used Shintaro's presence as a feint, knocking the ball onto the other side of the court.

Watching that has really tired me out... I don't know how much more narration I can manage. Let's review the footage... hm... okay, it doesn't look like anything else interesting happens, and the game ends soon, so I'll skip ahead.

The match came to a relatively uneventful end, with Kotaro's team winning by a margin of five points. For the rest of the match, from Shintaro's perspective, I was floating in the air like a television on standby. I think he asked me for advice a couple of times, but honestly, I had nothing more to give him for the time being. His crowd-pleasing display was more than enough.

"Try not to worry too much about today's results," highlighted Miss Yawara. "Today is only the first of the test matches, and it's only the beginning of the year. Any mistakes made here are made knowing we can spend that time ironing them out later. For anyone who still wants to stay, we have ten minutes left before class ends, so some passing drills might be a good idea."


("...Hm? Oh, yes, me.")

(You should pair up with Kotaro. It's a valuable chance to pick up skills from the guy. As well as also, yknow, maybe find any weaknesses he might have.)


(Kotaro Megishima.)

("...It's not coming to me.")

(The guy we were just playing against.)

I point at Kotaro, who was busy fraternising with his teammates, jostling around and chuckling heartily.

("Oh, right. That oddly competitive human. Mm... sure! A rival's best place is by their side, after all")

That's kind of sweet.

("How else will I learn to brutally defeat him later?")

I can't say I didn't encourage this...

Shintaro wandered over to Kotaro, looking back every few steps, and I gestured with my hands for him to keep going.

"Oh, hey Shintaro," scoffed Kotaro, once he had finally arrived. He waved a hand at the others nearby, and they departed into the background. "Quite the feat, this game... I see even in defeat you're not willing to go down without a fight."

Despite his earlier words of confidence, Shintaro was unable to reply to him.

"I suppose you picked up on the fact that your team wasn't enough for you and thought you'd show off your jump despite your oncoming loss", breathed Kotaro. "I gotta say... smart move. Sometimes it can't be helped."

It looked like Shintaro was about to move in with a reply, but Kotaro cut him short, turning his head to the side and throwing his arms up behind his head, glancing at him from the side. "But you better get serious with me next game. I won't take you treating me lightly a second time. That is... unless you really have gone soft over the break." 

I think Shintaro could be the worst player of all time and this guy would still come over acting like they're equals... what did Shintaro do in first year that started this whole schtick?

"To be honest, I couldn't give a damn how the actual results of the next match go. It'll be me against you. A battle of 'Shin vs Ko' - 'New Vs Old'. So let's see if you've got any new tricks up your sleeve, Shin."

Shintaro still fumbled in silence, checking his P.E. uniform sleeves for anything he might be able to use. Kotaro meanwhile turned with a lighthearted scoff and tossed his hand in the air.

"Until next time."

Shintaro was only safe from human contact for so long as Shigenori, who had been awkwardly waiting for Kotaro to leave, dashed over when he saw the chance.

"Truly an untenable performance with that jump, Shintaro my confidant!" he cajoled. "I have already considered numerous applications for your ability. Should the alien threat arrive, and the leader of Deus Nostromo Maximus face us, your jump could allow us to stand on equal ground with their levitating fortresses! Your assistance is, as always, without peer. In fact, I believe the Occult Club should be consulted on this matter post haste, given that you are a member after all."

Ah, so that's what this is about...

Shintaro was soon dragged to the door of the Occult Club room without even being given a chance to change. The door clattered open, and Fushigi looked on.

"Good evening, dear president. I have a suggestion that will revolutionise our anti-extra-terrestrial escapades. Shintaro here has the magnificent ability to ju-"

The door was slammed on him, and the gust that bellowed out from it blustered Shigenori's loose hair about his forlorn face.

Don't be too harsh, Fushigi. I don't want to actually have to start rooting for this guy.