Hello World 1.1

I've formatted this more or less like a Japanese light novel. Each chapter is separated into two parts: a slice-of-life segment and an action/supernatural segment (the transition is denoted by an emoticon mid-chapter).

Chapter 1

The alarm on Ayane's cell phone rang. She stirred a little in her sleep before reaching out towards her phone. Her hand was a good sixty centimeters from the table where her phone was chirping away. There were two reasons why the table was as far away as it was. One was so that Ayane wouldn't roll into the table in her sleep and inadvertently hurt herself. The other reason was...

There was a loud bang as Ayane fell onto the floor between her bed and table. She hadn't quite been able to reach her phone before tipping over the edge of her bed. She just lay there for a while, not really wanting to get up but also not exactly enjoying the cold bare floor. With a yawn, she picked herself up off the ground. After groggily picking up her phone and turning the alarm off, Ayane stretched her arm out. She looked at the new school uniform draped over her chair and smiled before starting her morning routine. Today was the first day of senior high school.

Ayane stood 167 cm tall with brown hair that stopped just below her shoulders. Her most noticeable feature was her mechanical left arm, built to receive signals and function much like a normal human arm would. Most of her arm was covered by the sailor uniform's long sleeve; only her hand shone dully in the morning sun. As she walked down the street to her new school, Ayane could see her friend Kenji farther down the road. Kenji stood three centimeters taller than Ayane, a minor point of annoyance for her. His short dark brown hair was combed down except for a few tufts that stubbornly stuck out of the sides of his head. His uniform hung loosely over his shoulders, his shirt untucked and his jacket unbuttoned. Ayane quickened her pace before breaking into a run. As soon as she got close enough, she leapt forward with both arms outstretched. Kenji felt the bulk of Ayane's weight as she gave his back a solid push. He fell forward a little, caught himself, and soon regained his lazy stroll. Ayane walked next to him on his right. 

A: "Morning."

K: "Morning. Any particular reason for pushing me?"

A: "Um...it's the first day of school?"

K: "True, but that's a pretty crappy reason."

A: "Alright, fine. I just felt like pushing you, is that better?"

K: "Not really. Though it's not like you can come up with anything better, so..."

He trailed off. Ayane glared at Kenji and gave him a punch to the shoulder.

K: "You know your left hand really hurts, right?"

A: "Like I care. You should be used to it by now."

K: "That's not exactly something to be proud of."

A: "Whatever."

Ayane and Kenji continued "chatting" like this until they reached the school gates. They checked the announcement board in the front courtyard for their class assignments. Ayane and Kenji pushed and shoved their way through the mass of students that had gathered there before them. When they got close enough, they began searching for their names under the "First-Year" section. Kenji sighed.

K: "Aw, man."

A: "What?"

Kenji pointed at the board. On the paper labeled Class 1-6, near the middle of the list of names, Ayane could see "Egami Kenji." A few more names down the sheet she found her own name, "Mori Ayane."

A: "Great, another year with you..."

K: "Oh? Remind me again, who is it that keeps asking me for help on math?

A: "...Shut up."

She would've punched him, but the close proximity of the other students didn't allow for such movement. Ayane and Kenji squeezed out of the crowd before they could be trampled to death. They walked past the school's entrance doors, kept open during the morning and after-school rush of students, and went to their respective shoe lockers before heading off to their classroom. Inside the classroom were a dozen or so students in small clusters scattered throughout the room. The desks were arranged in five columns of six desks for a total of thirty desks. Kenji walked towards the farthest row that ran alongside the windows overlooking the athletic field. He had intended to take the last seat in that row, but as he approached the desk Ayane quickly tossed her book bag onto the desk's hook and sat down decisively. For a while, the two of them simply stared at each other, Kenji more out of annoyance and Ayane more out of defiance. Finally Kenji just sighed and took the next best thing: the seat in front of Ayane.

K: "You do realize that if I sit in front of you, you won't be able to see the board, right?"

A: "Shut up. You're not that much taller than me."

She punched him in the shoulder. Soon, other students began coming in, some of whom Ayane and Kenji knew. They talked until the homeroom teacher arrived, at which point everyone stopped talking and stood by their chosen seats respectfully. After the teacher gave the students instructions for the morning's activities, they all went to the school auditorium for the high school entrance ceremony. The ceremony was nothing special; the principal made his grand speech encouraging student to do their best this year, the students and staff rose to sing the national anthem, and everyone was sent back to class. Upon Class 1-6's return, the teacher introduced himself as Surokawa-sensei and wrote his name on the board. The students then proceeded to introduce themselves in turn, saying their full names, what junior high they attended, and any interesting facts about themselves. With the usual first-day activities taken care of, class began. The first day of school was off to a rather mundane start.

Ayane and Kenji ate lunch by themselves in the classroom. Kenji had turned his chair around so that they were both eating on Ayane's desk. A good number of their friends were in different classes, and the few friends that were in the same class were either out of the classroom or eating lunch with others. Ayane stared at Kenji's bento intently. Kenji could feel her staring but continued to eat as if everything was normal. He knew she was up to something, he just wasn't sure what. Without saying anything, Ayane quickly reached out with her chopsticks and snatched a slice of takuan from the top of his rice. Kenji looked down and stared at the yellow stain where the pickle used to be.

A: "Thanks."

Ayane and Kenji heard a sliding sound followed by a clatter as a desk and two chairs were pushed next to Ayane's. They looked up to see Hikaru and Hikari Konoki take their seats and open their lunch boxes in perfect unison.

HH: "Good afternoon."

K: "Yo, Konoki."

A: "Good afternoon."

The Konoki sisters were an interesting pair. They were identical twins; both were 156 cm tall, wore glasses, had expressionless faces, were left-handed, and had a habit of sleeping in the middle of class. Despite this last fact, they still boasted the highest grades in the class. It was a well-known fact that the Konoki sisters never missed a question on anything, be it finals or pop quizzes. Their only difference was that Hikaru had wavy hair and Hikari had straight hair. In both cases, their hair ended at chest height. The odd thing about the Konoki sisters was that it seemed as if they shared a common brain. Basically whatever one sister did the other sister would also do. It was like seeing double, except both people were really there. On occasion they would operate independent of what the other was doing, but for the most part they were the same brain in two bodies. That was why most people referred to the sisters as a single person; it was just easier that way. There were rumors among the students that the Konoki sisters were aliens from another dimension, come to observe humans. Kenji thought that they might be some organic humanoid computers from the future. Ayane thought that they were just unique twins.

K: "So, what were you doing?"

HH: "We just woke up."

K+A: "Ah."

Ayane and Kenji often wondered what the Konoki sisters did in their free time whenever they weren't sleeping. Hikaru and Hikari each opened a box of chocolate-covered biscuit sticks and began feasting on the contents. That was the other weird thing about the Konoki sisters. Their lunches consisted of nothing but sweets and snacks. Every lunch period of junior high, Ayane and Kenji would see Hikaru and Hikari munching on a rice cracker, chip, chocolate bar, or anything else of that sort. The truly strange part was that they didn't seem to be putting on any weight as a result of the daily lunchtime binge. They couldn't do rigorous exercise―Ayane and Kenji knew that from past P.E. classes―and yet the excessive sugar and calorie intake never seemed to have an effect on the Konoki sisters' figures. Which seemed to fit in perfectly with most people's perception of the sisters as aliens.

"Oi, Mori-san!"

The four of them turned in the direction of Daisuke Tonashida. The 174 cm tall boy had short, rough, rust-red hair that jutted out at all angles and a "cool boy" attitude that was a bit pretentious for his under-average grades.

A: "Hey Tonashida."

K: "Yo, Tonashida."

HH: "Good afternoon."

Daisuke turned towards Kenji.

D: "Hanging with the girls again, I see."

Kenji gave him an irritated glare.

K: "You came all the way here to tell me that?"

Daisuke chuckled a little, ignored Kenji's question, and turned to Ayane.

D: "Hey, did you understand today's English lesson?"

Ayane nodded. English was one of her better subjects.

D: "Could I borrow your notes please?"

A: "Yeah, sure. Hang on a sec."

Ayane opened her schoolbag and rifled through her books.

A: "Oh, that's right, one of my friends has my notes. I'll go see if she's done with them or not. Excuse me."

Ayane got up and walked over to the door. Kenji and Tonashida watched her walk out of the room and close the door.

K: "Well well, looks like you're not the only one who's struggling this early in the year."

D: "Shut up. I've gotten this far just fine, haven't I?"

K: "You've gotten this far by copying other people's notes and homework. Honestly, you should change the way you work at school. I don't even know how you got through junior high."

D: "Whatever."

Daisuke's face suddenly lit up. He smiled mischievously and gave Kenji a nudge on the shoulder.

D: "Hey, you guys go on a date yet?"

K: "Huh? Who?"

D: "C'mon, you know who."

Kenji stared at him. He was pretty sure he knew exactly who Daisuke was talking about, but he played dumb on the hope that, just maybe, Daisuke was talking about someone else.

D: "Mori-san? You should ask her out some time."

K: "Really? This again? Give it a rest, would you?"

D: "What? I'm trying to help you out here."

K: "As if you'd know what it means to help other people out..."

HH: "It's not like he's making a random conjecture, though. In comparison to your general behavior around other people, your behavior around Mori-chan does imply a sort of affection."

K: "So daily physical and verbal abuse is a sign of affection?"

HH: "Love/Hate relationship."

K: "Isn't that usually between siblings?"

HH: "...Siscon..."

K: "No, that's even worse. She's not even my sister."

Ayane came back with her notes in her hand. Out of habit, she absentmindedly smacked the back of Kenji's head with the notes.

A: "I'm back. What are you guys talking about?"

D: "Ah, Mori-san. Actually, we were just..."

Kenji's glare cut him off. It seemed to say, "Take the notes and get the hell out of here".

D: "W-well, in any case, I should get going. I don't want to hold onto your notes longer than necessary."

A: "Um, okay..."

Daisuke took the notes from Ayane and began walking away.

A: "Hey, why don't you eat lunch with us?

D: "Already got a cool bunch of guys to hang out with. Sorry, but your group's a bit too feminine for my tastes. No offense, Egami. But hey, you're doing better than most of the other guys here."

Kenji scoffed as Daisuke walked away grinning. Ayane sat down and turned towards Kenji.

A: "Seriously, what were you guys talking about?"

K: "Don't worry about it."

Ayane was going to say something in retort but decided against it. She could tell Kenji wasn't going to tell her anything.  Instead she stole a piece of kara-age from his bento, thus reviving normal lunchtime activities.


Ayane and Kenji left school a bit later than the other students on account of Ayane having to get her notes back from Daisuke. That in itself didn't take very long, but then Daisuke asked for Kenji's math notes. He had to plead for a while before Kenji finally relented. As Kenji opened the small metal door to his normal, everyday shoes, he noticed a piece of folded paper lying on top of them. Curious, he picked the note up and unfolded it.

"Meet me on the fourth floor, seventh door from the right."

There was no name on the paper, and Kenji didn't recognize the handwriting. Maybe it was a secret admirer? Probably not. He wasn't the kind of person people admired; Ayane and he could agree on that much. Ayane walked towards him.

A: "Oh, you got one of those too?"

Ayane was holding up a piece of paper identical to the one Kenji had.

A: "What do you think this is?"

K: "It's a note."

A: "No, really?"

K: "I thought you could've figured that out by yourself. I guess not."


A: "You're an idiot."

K: "You can't take a joke."


A: "Jerk."

K: "Stop punching me."

A: "Then tell me."

Kenji gave in. He had made Ayane angry enough for now. Besides, his shoulder was starting to throb. She had a pretty solid punch, and her metal arm didn't make the impact any softer.

K: "Some stalker, maybe?"

A: "Of both of us?"

K: "Definitely not you. Who'd want to waste their time on you?"

Punch. Punch. Punch. And a shove for good measure.

A: "Says the person who's known me the longest. Besides, it's not like anyone would want to see you either."

Kenji shrugged.

K: "You never know. Hm...maybe it's Tonashida..."

A: "What? Why would Tonashida write this? This isn't even his handwriting."

K: "Oh, he has his reasons."

A: "What reasons?"

K: "Never mind. But you're right, it's not his handwriting."

A: "What do you think we should do? I don't exactly want to ignore this and have something bad happen."

K: "You can go check it out if you want to. I personally don't really care about this whole thing. It's probably just some creeper from another class. If anything, the guy probably hit the wrong lockers. Tell me what happens tomorrow."

Ayane pouted a little as Kenji started to walk away. 

A: "Hey."

K: "What?"

Kenji turned back around to face Ayane. Suddenly she grabbed him by his tie and began dragging him towards the elevator.

K: "Hey!"

A: "I'm going to go check it out."

K: "So why are you dragging me with you?"

A: "I don't feel like going by myself."

Ayane smacked the "Up" button next to the elevator door. The elevator doors whirred open and Kenji was yanked inside. His tie was still being held captive as they rode up in the elevator.

K: "You can let go of my tie now."

A: "Oh, yeah."

The elevator pinged and they stepped out onto the fourth floor, which was entirely dedicated to clubrooms. They started walking down the hallway, passing the doors to the Literature Club, the Computer Club, and a few others Ayane and Kenji weren't sure about. They looked up at the sign for the seventh room. It was blank, meaning the room wasn't being used by any club.

K: "Shady."

A: "Yeah."

They stood there in silence for a moment.

A: "You open the door."

K: "What? Why me?"

A: "Because I asked you to."

K: "That's not a reason..."

A: "Just open the door."

Kenji grimaced at her. She stared back at him, an annoyed expression on her face.

K: "You owe me."

He opened the door.

K: "Excuse the intrusion."

Empty. Ayane and Kenji looked around but could find no one inside the room. The room itself wasn't all that impressive. There were two wooden tables surrounded by 6 fold-up metal chairs in the center of the room. There were more chairs folded up and stacked against the left wall next to an empty bookshelf. The wall opposite the bookshelf had a whiteboard with a couple of markers on the board's tray. A clock hung on the wall above the whiteboard and a small empty shelf sat next to the whiteboard. There was a window on the far wall with closed blinds.

A: "Maybe the person went looking for us."

K: "Maybe. Want to stick around and wait?"

Ayane was about to answer when she noticed a flash of movement out of the corner of her eye. She turned towards the far corner of the room, where she had seen the movement.

K: "Hey, is something wrong?"

A: "Just now. Someone, or something, just moved back there."

The two of them scanned the back wall for about a minute, but nothing else moved. Kenji was about to pass it off as a trick of the light and tease Ayane about it when he suddenly felt a pair of eyes staring at him from...above him? He looked up, but no one was there.

A: "What's wrong?"

K: "I felt someone staring at me just now...from the ceiling..."

A: "So we're both crazy. That's just great."

The two of them slowly backed towards the door, watching out for anything suspicious.

K: "Hey, Tonashida! If this is your idea of a joke, it isn't funny!"

No reply.

A: "I thought I told you it couldn't be him."

K: "Yeah, but right now I kind of wish it was."

Momentary silence.

A: "This is getting really creepy. I think we should get out of here."

K: "My thoughts exactly."

The two of them bumped up against the wall behind them. Ayane felt along the wall, searching for the doorknob with her hand. 

A: "Um, Kenji?"

K: "What?"

A: "The door's gone."

K: "Really now? Stop joking around."

A: "No, I'm serious. The door's gone."

Kenji took his chances and turned around. This better be good.

K: "Oh crap, the door really is gone."

Kenji just stood there, not really believing what he was seeing. The door, which was the only way in and out of the room unless a student felt like jumping from a fourth-story window, had vanished. Kenji inspected the now doorless wall, which seemed perfectly normal except for the fact that, only moments before, there had been a door there. Ayane looked at the clock on the wall. The seconds hand was still moving. 

A: "Okay, so time hasn't stopped...yet..."

Kenji looked up at the clock.

K: "I suppose not."

At that moment, the wall in question rippled. The ripples were fast and brief, disappearing as seamlessly as they had appeared. Ayane and Kenji stared at the wall in disbelief.

A: "Did the wall just...ripple?"

K: "I...think so..."

They took a couple steps away from the wall. Suddenly the wall exploded. A burst of dust and small wall fragments surged into the room, knocking Ayane and Kenji onto the ground about a meter away from where they had been standing. There was now a large, perfectly circular hole in the wall, large enough for someone to walk through. And a girl did walk through. She was small; her head was barely level with Kenji's shoulders. She had short purple hair held to the side by a hair clip, and her violet eyes shone brightly. Metallic bands wrapped around her arms and legs near the joints. She also had a metallic band at the base of her neck. A boy entered behind the girl. He looked tall, but that was mainly because his hair stood straight up; he would've been just a little taller than Kenji if his hair didn't add an extra six centimeters to his height. He wore a plain white headband that covered his entire forehead. Both the girl and the boy were wearing school uniforms. The girl looked around, though with all the smoke one can only guess as to why she even bothered.

"Two life forms, both human. No other life forms detected. Strange, I wonder what they're doing here."

The girl turned towards her companion.

"Whoever compiled this space is either very good at hiding or has disappeared somehow. Want to try rebuilding the space?"

"Already on it."

The girl picked up the sound of coughing from the far wall.

K: "Damn, that hurt..."

Kenji stood up from underneath a mess of wall fragments. He saw Ayane a little ways off and made his way towards her.

K: "Hey, you alright?"

A: "Yeah, I'm fine. Here, help me up."

Kenji pulled her up onto her feet. As they stood there patting dust off of their clothes, they felt the room begin to change. The debris flew in reverse and came back together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Within a few seconds, the room had returned to how it was when Ayane and Kenji had entered it; even the disappearing door had returned. It was at this time that they noticed the two strangers standing on the opposite side of the room. The girl was the first to speak.

"Well, it looks like you two aren't seriously injured."

K: "Who are you guys? You nearly killed us just now."

The girl gave a nervous laugh and grinned apologetically.

"Ah, I'm really sorry about that. I didn't know you two were inside the room, let alone so close to the door."

K: "Don't you think you should at least sincerely apologize to us?"

The girl either didn't hear Kenji or ignored him. Either way, his question was left unanswered. The boy spoke next.

"By the way, what were you two doing here? I didn't think there were any clubs using this room after school."

K: "We could ask you the same thing. Last time I checked, students don't go around blowing up walls."

"I-I guess that's true..."

Kenji eyed the boy suspiciously. The girl could sense the tension growing and tried her best to calm the boys down.

"C'mon, let's all have a seat. Then we can all explain what we're doing here."

Kenji remained standing despite the girl's plea. Ayane stood next to him, looking confused.

K: "Why should we trust you? For all I know you could be trying to kill us."

"We have no reason to kill you. Besides, if we really wanted you two dead..." She walked past Kenji as she spoke. "...you wouldn't have had the opportunity to ask us that question."

Kenji felt a shiver down his spine. Her calm and matter-of-fact tone told Kenji that she wasn't kidding, even if her appearance was anything but intimidating. Trust was beside the point now. The four of them each took a seat at the table. The girl resumed her odd cheerfulness.

"Now that we're all settled down, let's introduce ourselves. I'll start."

The girl stood up and bowed towards Ayane and Kenji.

"My name is Hiraya Kasumi. Nice to meet you."

Before she sat down, Kasumi gestured towards the boy, who also stood up and bowed.

"Tanaka Minoru. Nice to meet you."

Minoru took his seat. Kenji's irritated expression told Ayane that he wouldn't be introducing himself anytime soon. With a sigh, Ayane stood up and introduced herself.

A: "My name is Mori Ayane. Nice to meet you."

She bowed and waited for Kenji to follow suit. When he did not, Ayane blew out an irritated sigh and gave Kenji a pat on the head. A very rough pat on the head.

A: "And this stubborn idiot is Egami Kenji."

She tried making him bow his head; first with one hand, then with two. Kenji was putting up a pretty good fight considering he was only using his neck muscles. They struggled for about 10 seconds before Ayane finally won out, making Kenji's head hit the table with a low thud. Having accomplished her goal, Ayane took her seat, and an awkward silence ensued. Kenji just grumbled and rubbed his forehead.

Ka: "...S-So then, why don't we all explain what we're doing here? You guys start."

Kenji looked at Kasumi suspiciously.

K: "Don't you think you should explain yourselves first? After all, you're the ones who barged in here after us."

Ka: "True, but what we say―or rather, what we can tell you―really all depends on what you tell us."

Kasumi evidently sensed Kenji's annoyance because she suddenly donned a sinister aura and looked straight at Kenji. Or straight through him; her glare could have split a piece of steel clean in half. She smiled innocently, thinly disguising her aura.

Ka: "Is there a problem with that?"

K: "N-No, that's fine..."

For such a small girl, she certainly had a considerable fear factor. Ayane began brainstorming how to explain Kenji's and her current predicament in a way normal people would understand, not that her audience was even remotely normal to begin with.

A: "Um...well, you see..."

She never was much good at brainstorming. Time to initiate Plan B. Ayane gave Kenji a sideways look.

A: "It's your fault we're in this mess. You tell them."

He gave her a sideways look back. He had a feeling this would happen. Whenever Ayane couldn't do something―and there were a lot of things she couldn't do―Kenji often found the work thrust onto his shoulders.

K: "What are you talking about? You're the one that dragged me here."

A: "Please? I'm asking you nicely for once!"

Ayane grabbed Kenji by his shoulders and began shaking him from side to side. Kenji's head lolled back and forth so vigorously that it seemed as if it could fly off at any given moment. He didn't seem to mind. Kasumi and Minoru watched in slight confusion.

Ka: "Hey Tanaka, you think that's how they usually are?"

M: "I really don't know."

Ayane continued to pester Kenji as he played the role of human rag-doll.

A: "Please please please please please!"

K: "You can be so annoying at times..."

Ayane suddenly let go of Kenji; more of a push then a release, really. He crashed to the floor, the chair clattering onto its side. Kenji rubbed his head where it had hit the floor. It occurred to him that he'd been injured a lot that first day, and he wondered if the rest of the school year would be like that. Then again, Ayane was always hitting him anyway, so that day wasn't entirely out of the ordinary in that regard. In all other regards, however, that day was entirely out of the ordinary.

A: "Who are you calling annoying?! If anyone's annoying, it's you because you won't tell them why we're here!"

K: "Doesn't that make you annoying as well?"

A: "...S-Shut up!"

She kicked Kenji back down as he was getting up and sat down in her seat, her face turning red with both anger and embarrassment. Kenji stood up without a problem this time, a dull pain in his head and a new pain in his side, neither of which was unfamiliar to him. There was no point in arguing with Ayane; she wasn't going to tell their story any time soon, and he was the one that wanted to get answers anyway. He sat down and explained Ayane's and his predicament to Kasumi and Minoru.

K: "You two wouldn't have anything to do with the door disappearing, would you?"

Ka: "No."

She thought about it.

K: "Well, not exactly. Do you still have the notes?"

K: "Wait. Before we go any further, I think you guys should explain what the heck's been going on here. A lot of crazy stuff's happened since class was dismissed; first the notes, then the door, then you guys. I think we deserve to know why."

Ka: "Yes, I suppose that is something you should be aware of, but I can't tell you for sure until I see the notes."

It looked as if the four of them weren't going to go anywhere until Kasumi had the notes. Ayane pulled out her note from her pocket and handed it to Kasumi. Reluctantly, Kenji did the same.

Ka: "Thank you. I'll return these as soon as I'm done with them."

She stared at the papers without blinking, and Kenji got the impression that she was scanning the pieces of paper. He even thought her purple irises were focusing in and out like camera lenses. After a while she blinked and looked up.

Ka: "These were definitely written by a human, or at least something human-like."

That seemed rather obvious to Ayane and Kenji; after all, what else could have possibly written the notes? Kasumi handed the notes to Minoru, who took a more normal look at them.

Ka: "Whoever it is, he's not making it easy for us to find him. There's nothing on here that I can trace an identity to."

M: "I'll take your word on that, but that doesn't really fix the issue at hand."

Minoru returned the notes to Ayane and Kenji.

M: "Are you guys sure you're normal humans?"

A: "Of course. What else could we be?"

Kasumi and Minoru looked at each other, suggesting that perhaps Ayane's question wasn't quite as rhetorical as she had thought.

M: "I just thought I'd ask because there must be something special about you two; something that would explain why someone would want to contact you two. Or kill you two."

Ayane paled at Minoru's last statement. Whatever crime they were being accused of, she was sure it was all Kenji's fault. Only a few seconds passed before Kenji replied.

K: "If we knew, I doubt we'd be in this situation."

It was a rather calm reply considering that Minoru had just said that someone or something was potentially trying to murder them. But it was in Kenji's nature to not seem that concerned about most things. He was surprised, no doubt, but he seemed more amused than afraid. Not to mention he was fond of supernatural things.

M: "True, things certainly would have turned out differently in that case. But since that isn't the case, we just have one more mystery to solve. Not only do we not know what contacted you, we also have no idea why it contacted you."

He turned towards Kasumi.

M: "What do you say we do?"

Ka: "The simplest course of action would be for Tanaka and me to keep an eye on you two at all times, but I'm sure you can already guess as to why that wouldn't work."

Kenji nodded. Being tailed by Kasumi or Minoru twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week would be like having a personal bodyguard at all times. However, having a personal bodyguard would cause problems. At school the problems would be minimal, but when Ayane and Kenji returned home things could get troublesome. It was better to not think about what could happen. Besides, Kasumi and Minoru were still students at the school, so they still had their academic responsibilities to deal with. Ayane had no clue about any of this, so Kenji took the time to explain it to her.

Ka: "Probably the best thing we can do is prepare you guys in case anything like today happens again. If the stalker is benevolent, great. If he's out to kill you, at least you won't die without a fight."

K: "Right..."

Ka: "Say, this room isn't in use, is it?"

K: "Doesn't seem to be, at least for the time being. Why?"

Ka: "If you guys wouldn't mind coming here after classes end, I could write up a club application with us four as the members. We could teach you two everything you need to know about how to fend for yourself should today's events repeat themselves. In return, you guys can help Minoru and me with my secondary mission here. You'll gain some experience from that anyways, so it's a win-win situation. How about it?"

A: "That's fine and all, but...don't you need five people to start a club?"

Ka: "Eh, really?"

A: "Yeah, one of my friends said she wanted to start a club but couldn't find four other students to join her."

Ka: "Hmm, I'll worry about that later. But other than that, the idea is fine, right?"

Ayane and Kenji looked at each other. They were about to get involved with something they were pretty sure they knew nothing about. And yet it seemed like it was the best if not the only option available to them. There was no turning back now; their lives had been forever changed the moment they had set foot in that room. Mustering up their resolve, Ayane and Kenji agreed to Kasumi's proposition.

Ka: "Great! I'm going to run down to the teachers' office and get an application. Be right back!"

Kasumi dashed out the door, slamming it shut behind her and leaving the other three students in a moment of stunned silence.

A: "She knows what she's doing, right?"

M: "More or less. I'm sure she can figure out whatever she doesn't know."

Kasumi burst into the room a minute or two later. She had a club application as well as a pen in her hand. Setting the application down onto the table, she took a seat and began twirling the pen.

Ka: "Alright, then. So there are us four as the members, as well as a fifth member I'll go find. I'll also go find a teacher to be the club supervisor. Let's see, what else is there...'Club Name'. Any suggestions?"

K: "The club name should reflect what the club is doing, right? How about we fill out the 'Club Objective' section first then decide on a name?"

Ka: "Okay, that sounds good. So for club objective..."

What was the club objective? Ayane and Kenji were told that they'd be trained or otherwise prepared for situations like today, but that really didn't say that much about what they would actually be doing. It was obvious that Kasumi had it all planned out, though. She thought for a moment, choosing her words before proceeding to fill out the application.

Ka: "Teaching students...how to...integrate...programming...into their daily lives. There."

Ayane and Kenji looked at what Kasumi had written. Programming? They were going to survive events like today by using a computer? Maybe by throwing the computer or using it as a shield, yes, but certainly not by programming. Kasumi saw their puzzled expressions and smiled apologetically.

Ka: "Don't worry, we'll explain everything later. This is just a normalized explanation so that teachers won't question our actions as...out of the ordinary, shall we say. So then, any suggestions for club name?"

The four of them thought for a while. Coming up with a good club name was hard. Especially if all you had to go off of was "programming". Suddenly, Minoru had an idea.

M: "How about 'Hello World'? The default program in pretty much every programming language is a program that displays 'Hello World'. It's the first thing you see when you start to learn how to program. That's kind of what we're doing here, so I thought it'd be appropriate. Not only that, but..."

He turned to Ayane and Kenji.

M: "...what we're going to teach you two is something normal humans like yourselves are unfamiliar with, so in a sense we're introducing you to a 'new world'."

If that last part was supposed to be a joke, it wasn't all that funny. But it did make sense, and it did apply to the club's objective, so it was adopted as the new club's name. With that settled, all there was left to do was to find a fifth member. After that, if the student council approved the application, the club would be official. Then again, the four of them would probably still meet in that room even if the application was rejected.

K: "Oh yeah. You said you wanted our help with whatever it is you're doing here. What exactly are you doing?"

A: "Yeah, I was wondering about that too."

Ka: "My superior sent me to this Public Domain with orders to locate and protect two special individuals from said domain. I wasn't given any specifications about the individuals, only that I would know them when I saw them. That's my primary mission. My secondary mission to minimize Virus levels in the surrounding area, which is what I'd like your help with."

K: "I don't really know what you mean by 'this Public Domain' or 'Virus' or whatever, but I assume Ayane and I are those two special individuals?"

Ka: "I believe so. Unless you know some other pair in a similar situation."

No, they certainly didn't. Not counting the pair in front of them, of course.

M: "Well, it's been a long day for all of us, first day of school and all. Especially long for you two, I would assume."

He nodded towards Ayane and Kenji.

M: "It's getting late, so why don't we head home for now and continue this discussion tomorrow?"

They all looked at the clock. Indeed, they had been in the club room for a little over 30 minutes. More than enough time for Ayane and Kenji to have walked home. Twice. Their parents would be wondering where they were. How were Ayane and Kenji supposed to explain what took them so long?

A: "Any chance you guys could turn back time?"

M: "Sorry, no can do. I'll tell you if I find out how to, though."

Ayane grumbled to herself and put her head on the table. Everyone else stood up and got ready to leave. Kenji stood by Ayane's chair, waiting for her.

K: "C'mon. Let's go."

Reluctantly, Ayane stood up. She pointed to where her school bag was sitting on the table.

A: "Give me my bag."

K: "Get it yourself. You're closer to it, anyway."

Ayane grabbed her bag and shoved Kenji out of her way as she left the room. Kenji stumbled to the side and watched as Ayane marched away, leaving him behind.

Ka: "You guys certainly look like good friends."

K: "Yeah? You're not the first to notice that."

Kasumi was the last to leave. At the doorway, she turned back into the room and smiled to herself before heading out; this could turn out to be a very interesting year.

The End

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