"C-Come again." I couldn't help but repeat as I processed the words that I just heard. Mei Raiden, the girl who I just witnessed show some serious skill with the bokken, wanted me to join the kendo club?
To me? A person who she had just met four days ago and had shown no interest in the kendo arts?
"I think you would be a good fit on the team," She said as the resolve in her eyes never faded. "I think you could learn to do kendo like how Midori does."
Kendo like Midori? My mind wandered back to how she had scored even the first point in the kendo match. By taking advantage of Mei probably lowering her guard after scoring the match's first point.
She knew how to dissect her opponent's way of fighting to turn it into her way to victory.
"I-I'm flattered that you think I can be like Aki-san one day but I don't really have any kendo training like you do." I stammered as I was still trying to wrap my head around this.
"That's fine, most people who join the club have never touched a bokken before." Mei, unrelenting in her quest, assured me.
So Mei Raiden believed that one day that I could one day reach her level, that was...surprisingly reassuring coming from her. I mean the fact that someone who would become a Valkyrie thought I had potential had to mean something.
The prospect of joining the Kendo Club had many benefits to it. The most obvious one being that I could now have an excuse to get closer to Mei now, seeing how she was the one who invited me to join. I had an inkling that there were many applicants for the club but if Mei wanted to get me I don't think the club leader could refuse.
Another benefit was that I could somewhat begin to train my body more rigorously in preparation of the role that I knew I would have to play.
But a small part of my mind told me that this wasn't the right course of action. That something was wrong with the whole decision if I did join the club.
But confusingly I had the same feeling when it came to the chess club.
First things first
"Mei, why exactly did you think that I needed to join your club?" I asked curiously as I knew I had not made any prior indication that I wanted to join the club. Hell, I didn't even know that the Kendo Club existed or the fact that Mei was a part of it from the events of the game.
Mei just scratched her cheek as her cheeks became slightly flushed, "Promise me that you won't laugh."
I smiled before nodding, "Of course."
"Well yesterday when you were out of it and the teacher called on you," She smiled as she remembered the first time she would see Haruto Nakamura be caught off-guard. "And you answered that you had a bad night's rest."
"You reminded me of my father," She confessed as her eyes gained a softer glow in them. "Lying when confronted about what troubles them."
I couldn't help but open my mouth in awe at what Mei had just said. She had seen right through me when I was able to fool everyone else. A mask that I had on ever since I could learn how to walk, a mask that I had upgraded when I knew that I was in the universe of Honkai.
And the one person who I wanted to be most affected by it had seen right through it.
Mei continued onward with her explanation, "My father is hardworking, that I will never blame him for. Nor do I hate him for not having enough time for me, I know that would be too selfish of me to ask of him."
"But I wished that he wouldn't have to lie about how everything is okay when it clearly isn't." Her father yesterday had been in a bad mood, a rare occurrence for her father. That meant this was something more than a bad meeting with the board.
When she pressed him about it, he simply smiled and told her that he had everything under control.
She wasn't an idiot, he knew there were things beyond the company that was troubling but she didn't want him to worry so she kept her mouth silent as she simply did her best to keep him relaxed at home.
As Mei contemplated the reason why her father was acting so strange yesterday, I could feel my heartrate speed up as I pondered her words. Oh god was her father already losing his job already? Had Anti-Entropy begun to sink their claws into ME Corp? Had I screwed up the timeline already?!
No, the news outlets would've said something about it by now, especially the local ones. Anything that happened in ME they would know in a matter of hours and then the headlines would start rolling.
Perhaps Anti Entropy was beginning to move against him? That was a possibility but then that begged the question how exactly did Mei's father lose the corporation. If he knew if it was happening from the beginning did that mean he just let it happen?
I took a mental reminder to watch out for anything related to the ME Corporation for the next couple of days.
"So when I saw you do the same thing as my father, I wanted to try and help you in any way that I could." She broke me out of my internal rambling as she brought out her bokken and fondly smiled at it, like if she was greeting an old friend.
"And I thought about what made me find comfort and realized that kendo helped me in times of need," She smiled at me as she placed her bokken back at the side of her hip.
I...couldn't disagree with her logic, but even if her points were all valid I needed time to think about this. "Sorry Raiden-san, but…" I trailed off thinking of how not to be rude. "I need some time to think this over."
Mei just gave me a considerate smile as she nodded in understanding. "Oh forgive me, I forgot to realize that there might be other clubs you might be interested in."
I just waved off her concern, "That's okay...you've just given me a lot-" I was cut short when the final bell of the day rang throughout the academy.
"Oh looks like that's it for today. Just remember Nakamura-san that you have until the start of class tomorrow to turn in your application." She reminded me as I gave her nod of confirmation before saying my farewells to her before turning to the exit.
I was about halfway when I could hear Mei running up to me, "Oh wait I forgot something!" I stopped so that she could do whatever she needed to be done. "Take out your phone."
Confused, I just took out my phone for her when she then began to type something into it. "Here, if you need to ask me about anything relating to kendo."
I looked at what she had exactly typed into my phone, to see that she was typing her phone number into my phone. She typed a smiling face into my text messages to see if she had done it right and broke into a smile when it went through.
"See you tomorrow Nakamura-san!" She said as I gave my farewells, my mind not properly registering what she had done.
And not a second later after her farewell did I realize what she had just done. My cheeks grew flushed as I looked at my phone to confirm that this just happened.
Was this what I think it was?!
Did Mei just give me her phone number?!
The only answer I got was the breeze of wind that had been let in by the open door.
"How's your new 'throne' Kuro?" I asked as the black feline was getting a new feel for the playset that I had purchased for her. It was more of a tower of scratching posts with boxes that she could maneuver through than an actual playset.
My grandmother had warned me that cats had a tendency to rip up any furniture if they didn't have the proper tools to groom their claws. Since there were times that strays might stop near the apartment she felt that Kuro might also feel the need to mark her territory from any challengers.
The look on my grandmother's face when she explained this all to me was more than clear to know that if any of the furniture that I had was damaged, there would be hell to pay.
So while buying this scratching tower set was quite expensive, my wallet taking a massive hit in buying the most appropriate sized set for the apartment, it was a worthy sacrifice in avoiding my grandmother's wrath.
The wrath of a mother was something to fear, the wrath of a mother who had no qualms about speaking her mind and acting on it was entirely something else to watch out for.
Kuro just gave a satisfied meow as she got herself comfortable on the highest perch. She supposed that this was enough to satisfy her...for now.
"You don't do anything crazy now, I don't want to have to explain to Oba-san why the couch has a large tear in it." I could've sworn that Kuro just rolled her eyes in exasperation as I went inside my own room.
Now within the privacy of my own room, I reached into my pocket to retrieve two papers in it. Taking the neatly folded papers, I placed the two onto my desk before unfolding it. "Alright, let's start the hard part now."
I stared at the two papers as I could feel a migraine beginning to build.
On my right was Keji's Chess Club Flyer.
And on my left was the Kendo Club Flyer. I had been lucky to have snagged one from the kendo booth at the end of the day. It wasn't a surprise to see that the kendo club was the most popular club of them all.
I had to give it to Midori, the exhibition match really did draw in support and ensured that there wouldn't be any stop to club applications.
Flopping down onto my study chair, I plopped my elbows on the desk as I clasped my hands together. "Alright Haruto, one step at a time," I said to myself as I got my brain ready for the ordeal I was about to put it through. "What are the advantages of the Chess Club?"
Well for starters, I had a feeling that I was more orientated to strategy than actual combat. Ever since I joined my old track club, it was clear to me that I would always be better when it came to academics than athleticism.
Joining the chess club would only sharpen my mind, maybe I would have a secret infinity towards the game of wits. Strategy games had always been my forte back in my old life, only the hardest difficulty giving me a semblance of a challenge.
And if I wanted to be the captain of the Hyperion, then I needed to be the best damn admiral that Schicksal had.
The cons? Well I didn't even know if the chess club would be able to garner enough people for it to stay official. Maybe my little talk did wonders on Keji's mood and he could've potentially attracted a few more people to get interested.
Then again, I had a gut feeling that they would quickly be discouraged when they realized that Ishigami-sensei would be the club sponsor.
And there was that too. Keji and Ishigami were both characters that I didn't know were going to be somehow relevant to the story. I didn't want to lower their importance but compared to that of Mei's they were essentially NPCs right now.
Mentally listing all that I could if I did join the Chess Club, I looked over to the kendo club flyer and began to think of what joining that club would yield.
For one, Mei was available for me to get closer to. No one would bat an eyebrow if I tried to get closer to the heiress, they would just think that I was just a fanboy or something. And judging by how easily it was to talk with her, joining for that alone was worth it.
Also I could begin to train my body in preparation to becoming, what was it again, a Knight? Wasn't the male equivalent of a Valkyrie called a Knight?
Wielding a blade certainly had its pros but…
Thus came my dilemma with joining the kendo club. Would I even be good in combat if I somehow survive the Third Honkai Impact and got to St. Freya Highschool in one piece. Physical training wouldn't get me far when I had to now consider stigmas and other factors.
For example, I knew for a fact that there was no way in hell I could ever be on the same level of Bronya, Kiana, and Mei. The main three I knew were considered to be the strongest team out of their entire class and it wasn't without good reason.
Kiana was a Kaslana, granting her the supernatural strength and fighting instincts that came with the name. She also had the DNA of Sirin, the original Herrscher of Void, in her which probably subconsciously strengthened her abilities. She was the team's ace after all.
Bronya I knew to be a child soldier before she was taken in by Cocolia's orphanage. From what my memory recalled, Bronya was somewhat feared from her killing abilities as a soldier. Couple that with the robot that she used, Project Bunny was it? She was the most level headed when in the midst of battle, their tactician.
Mei had the benefits of being a Herrscher. Incomplete or not, the abilities and power that her Herrscher self had probably leaked into her abilities as a Valkyrie. Combine that with her kendo training she was probably the most well rounded of them all.
And as for me, the only thing that I had was my knowledge of the future. Which I knew would become obsolete if I changed the future too much.
I tiredly sighed as I relaxed my head against the back of my chair's headrest. I knew that I honestly would not be able to catch up to them, let alone surpass them.
Even if I did somehow surpass them in terms of combat ability, they were just the tip of the iceberg as there were plenty of people in this world that were way stronger than them. The only reason that they were able to beat them in the first place was anything short of a miracle.
Each side had their own pros that were appealing, but also their own cons that would be troublesome down the road.
Not to mention the strange deja vu that would fill me if I ever tried to consolidate my choice. It was the same deja vu that I had whenever I would see something related to the Honkai Universe when I was a child. I had an inkling that this deja vu was telling me what choice I should be making.
Which confused me as it was basically telling me not to choose either of the clubs. I couldn't join two clubs, that was an actual rule of Chiba Academy to ensure that club activities didn't clash if people did choose two clubs. It was a fair rule to ensure that if you did join a club, you were actually contributing to that club.
"Hey voice in my head," I said out loud as I knew who exactly was giving me this deja vu in the first place. "If you're trying to tell me something, why don't you just say it to me? Subtlety isn't exactly needed now."
A few seconds passed as I expected an answer to come from the reclusive entity living in my head.
Yet I heard nothing.
"Fine be like that then," I grumbled as I leaned my entire back onto my chair, closing my eyes to help soothe the headache that I now had. If it was trying to help me so much, maybe it should give me at least a clue of what I should be looking at.
Opening my eyes I was treated to a familiar sight of my room's ceiling as I could feel my body falling backwards as it seemed that I leaned too far into my chair and now said chair was falling towards the ground.
This was oddly familiar.
"Mother-" My curse was left unfinished as the chair connected with the ground and my vision blacked out, the feeling of being submerged in water overtook me once more.
I awoke with a gasp, fully expecting to be back in my fallen chair. I did wake up in a chair, one far fancier than the one I used. And the fact I was nowhere remotely close to my room.
Looking around from my chair, all I could see was water. An endless body of water that seemed to stretch on as far as the eye could see. Looking down I wasn't surprised to see the chair that I was sitting in barely touched the surface of the water yet I hadn't fallen in.
Definitely somewhere not on Earth, that was for sure.
"You called," A voice spoke across from me. Bringing my head from looking at the water floor, I laid eyes on a cloaked figure sitting in an identical chair only a few feet away from me. "And I am here." The voice in my head gestured to itself.
"You couldn't have just, I don't know, just speak to me in my head like normal." I gestured to the massive mindscape that he pulled me into. "You didn't have to go this far if you wanted to speak."
"When it came to this however," Even if the hooded figure in front of me had no physical way of showing facial expressions, I could feel that it was smiling beneath its hood. "I could not talk to you without you realizing where exactly you stand."
"As in water?" I dryly joked.
"As in where you exactly stand in fate, for you are at a crossroads my dear captain." If it wasn't for the nonchalant tone that it had, I would've missed the seriousness of the situation. I straightened my back and began to take this seriously as the message was received.
If the entity in my head was pleased by the change in my demeanor, it did not show it. "Contrary to popular belief, fate is so easily changed. Decisions can be changed if the person wishes so and they can do so without repercussions."
"However there are points in fate in which a decision cannot be changed, a point in life that is instrumental to how one's journey ends. Crossroads is what they are known as." Waving a hand, two paths began to take shape behind them as they continued talking.
"Many spend their lives without ever encountering a crossroads, only a select few will ever have to encounter a crossroad. Even fewer encounter a crossroads like the one you are experiencing.
"Lucky me," I chuckled as I clenched the armrest of my chair. Was it about to go into some kind of prophecy now of how I was the destined hero to save the universe?
"Would you wish to hear that?" My eyes widened as the being across from me just sighed. "Oh come on, you do know that we are in your mind right now?"
Oh yeah we were in my mind again, totally forgot about that
"And if you are the so-called 'hero' of this universe,? That has yet to be seen," It gestured to me, "After all, as of now you are nothing more than a pawn of fate."
"But let us put that idea on hold and discuss your current dilemma," The entity leaned forward as a table appeared between us, an empty chess board on it. "On one side you have the bishop,"
On my left, a bishop piece appears.
"And on the other side you have the knight," On the opposite side of the bishop, a knight took shape. The two pieces were the only present.
"Tell me, what do you see?"
"Two chess pieces obviously," I replied like it was the most obvious thing in the world. Was their point that they were trying to make here?
"And there lies the problem, you look at things at face value. You do not look beyond what your eyes see." The hooded figure gestured to the pieces once more. "Look again, what do you see?"
Not quite sure what was being told, I begrudgingly looked back at the two pieces once more. Nothing about them had changed so how was I meant to look past their physical appearance? Were they meant to be symbols of somethi-. My mind paused as it began to connect the dots as the pieces were transformed right before my eyes.
The bishop piece was replaced with a timid but passionate chess player while the knight piece was replaced with a kind-hearted kendo practitioner.
"You've caught on," The entity in front of me clapped as the pieces began to float towards them. "This crossroad ultimately determines what kind of role you play in future events."
"The bishop specializes in breaking the enemy formations, striking from angles that the enemy cannot defend from," They explained as they reached out and grabbed the bishop piece, fiddling with it as they continued. "An opening in the enemy's plan can easily be exploited by an exceptional strategist for a path to victory."
"The knight faces their enemy head on, their strength unmatched by most." With their other hand the entity grabbed the knight piece. "A warrior has no fear of an army approaching if they have mastered the blade."
"But yet…" I trailed off as I now had an inkling to the point that was now being made.
"Yes, while these two pieces have their own strengths." They threw the pieces back onto the board before snapping their fingers. The two pieces were now suddenly surrounded by various other pieces.
The unique thing about the pieces was that you could not find a distinct pattern with any two pieces. Like if you had taken pieces from other chess boards to substitute a full game. One piece would be made of dark oak wood while one another seemed to be made of pure glass.
"The limitations of each piece in how they move are a disadvantage, a disadvantage that you cannot afford."
They were right about that. The bishop and knight, while from my prior knowledge about chess wasn't the best, were pretty important pieces. However they, like most of the pieces, could only move in a specific way which limited how they could exactly be played.
And to go off the point that entity who lived in my head made, by choosing one of the clubs I would severely limit what actions I could make in the future.
"So your solution for me is to not join any of the clubs?" I asked in disbelief.
The entity across from me simply tilted their head in amusement. "If you were to choose none of the clubs, should I replay that vision I gave you a day ago?"
The scene of Kiana screaming in pain on the science table played violently in my mind for a split second before I pushed it away. That was not a pleasant scene to watch.
I was about to ask them what they exactly wanted me to do when thunder suddenly boomed ominously like a warning. "It seems that our time together has come to a close." The entity chuckled as the table between us got sucked up by the ocean floor.
"A final hint that should help you make your decision." Bringing their hand out, the hooded figure was able to move their head enough that I was able to catch a glimpse of their eyes for a mere second.
And marvel at how ethereal their gold eyes were.
"Your presence is anything but normal, so why should your path be any different? Figure out the best path for you, and you will become the piece that can change everything."
"Till next time we meet."
They snapped their fingers.
And the water under me then broke as I was swallowed up by the water.
"H-Huh?" I groaned as I found myself back where I was left before that strange mindtrip.
On my chair that was still on the ground.
I wasn't left much time to ponder when my phone suddenly began to buzz as an unknown caller ID popped on the screen.
Without leaving my spot on the fallen chair, I took the call. "H-Hello?"
"Nakamura-san?" The sudden voice of Mei made me ashamedly yelp in surprise as I fell over on the ground with an audible thud.
"Nakamura-san!" Mei's worried voice called from my phone. "Are you okay?!"
"Yeah everything's doing well Raiden-san," I assured her as I picked up my chair. "Can I help you with anything?" I asked as I took a seat, making sure this time I didn't fall over.
"Well I had some questions that I need some help with on Ishigami-sensei's assignment." I nodded my head as I reached into my bag and pulled out the folder where I kept all of my assignments in.
"I'm guessing it's page two right? The one with all the equations on it."
"H-Hai," Mei replied with a twinge of embarrassment. "Forgive me for asking you so lat-."
"It's no problem at all Raiden-san." I interrupted as I brought the right page out of my organized stack of assignments. "Asking people for help is nothing to be ashamed about."
"Thank you Nakamura-san." I could practically imagine the smile that Mei probably had. The thought of making her smile...just brought a smile to my lips. "No problem, alright where exactly did you need help with?"
The next half hour was spent with me helping Mei with the problems that she got stuck on. She knew the material fairly well, better than our other classmates, but there were some parts that she didn't have a great grasp on.
By the time half an hour had rolled by, I was confident that Mei had a complete grasp over the subject.
"Nakamura-san?" She asked me as I was in the midst of packing my things away. "Have you decided on what club you wanted to join?"
I paused just as I finished putting my last textbook away. Dammit I had totally forgotten about that whole mess. "Sorry," I admitted as I pulled out the club application form. Everything had been filled out, all except for…
What club I was exactly going to join.
"I've been conflicted on what club I want to join." I chuckled as I began to explain my dilemma. "There are two clubs that I really want to join, but…" I trailed off as I couldn't exactly tell her of Honkai and what this choice really meant.
"There are two people who I really want to be friends with, but I feel that if I join one club I won't be able to connect with the other person. Also the fact I want to learn from both clubs doesn't help my decision." In her bedroom, Mei wondered if the kendo club was one of his choices.
She couldn't exactly explain why she wanted Haruto to join her club. Her gut was telling her to just do it. "Have you ever considered trying to befriend the person whose club you didn't join? She offered.
"Wouldn't that be, I don't know, kind of mean? Like I joined the other club but I still want to be your friend." She could imagine Haruto shrugging his shoulders. "Feels like I would belittle them that their club was inferior to the one that I chose."
Classic Haruto, always considerent about the other person's feelings before acting. Even if she had known him for less than a week, she was quite confident that he was a very kind hearted person.
"How about if you asked them for some private lessons so you could technically learn the club craft? You're not exactly taking advantage of them and you could always offer to teach them in return."
"You could offer your services as a tutor for Ishigami-sensei's class." Mei joked as I couldn't help but crack a laugh. If I did that then-!
My mind took a double take as I processed her words over once, then twice, and then three times just to make sure I had heard her right.
"Your presence is anything but normal, so why should your path be any different." The hint that the voice in my head gave me rang as I began to connect ideas together.
This...this could work!
"Mei you're an absolute genius!" The sudden drop of the honorific had Mei pause as she made sure what she had heard was just right. "Oh my god you are amazing Mei!" Haruto gushed over the phone as the heiress could hear the frantic moves of him as he was writing something down.
"You have no idea how much you've helped me! I need to finish this application. Mei, I'll call you tomorrow." She couldn't even get a word in when Haruto hung up, probably off to finish whatever he was doing.
With her homework for tomorrow finished, Mei placed her phone down on the bed before she fell on the comfy mattress. She should've felt hurt from being hung up like that but…
It did feel good to be called by her first name from Haruto.
Keji Furuta had a nervous smile on his face as he watched the clock slowly go by in what was meant to be the clubroom for the Chess Club. Only fifteen minutes till class started and all club applications were meant to be turned in.
And still he was the only member of the club.
"I told you Furuta-san, chess isn't something that clicked for this generation," Behind him was Akira Ishigami. The teacher was sitting at one of the desks as he absently played with his watch.
The former Chess Grandmaster wasn't someone remarkable at first glance. The science teacher always wore his lab coat everywhere, Keji had a feeling that he also wore it at home as well. His black hair was always combed neatly and there wasn't a trace of tiredness in his brown eyes, unlike his fellow teachers who always drank coffee to stay awake. He just drank it because he liked the taste.
And he just somehow made the whole glasses look so much more intimidating than it was meant to be!
"M-Maybe they're just late," He said as he tried to get the teacher's confidence back. "If we give them another 5 minutes I'm sure that-" He was interrupted as the teacher stood up from his chair.
"I know you mean well Furuta-san but I think it's time that we state the obvious." He bluntly said as Keji flinched as the fears that he had tried to ignore for the past hour were reality.
No one wanted to join his chess club. He had been so sure at least a couple of people might have been interested in it. Surely someone in this school had to have shared his passion!
But he should've seen the writing on the walls at the reception his booth had gotten. He was happy that Haruto had shown such interest in his club that he was confident that the red head was going to join.
However he overheard some gossip that Midori Aki had personally dragged him to the gymnasium, only for Mei to come out of the gymnasium fifteen minutes later with a smile on her face.
It didn't take long for him to know that he had been recruited to join the Kendo club. After all, why would Haruto join his club when someone as popular as Mei Raiden wanted you to be in her club?
Ishigami sighed as walked up to the lone student and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "I will admit, I didn't expect you to do this whole chess club in the first place. When I had offered the idea of you starting the club if you wanted me to teach you, I had expected you to give up."
The teacher smiled as he patted the student's shoulder. "You should be proud, many would've given-". The little pep talk was interrupted as the club's door was swung wide open.
"S-Sorry," A panting Haruto wheezed as sweat clung to his forehead and placed his hands on his knees. It was clear that the student had to probably run to school. "M-My phone died and I woke up an hour later than I should've."
You couldn't fault me for waking up so late! I had spent the rest of the night planning that I simply forgot what time it was and when I checked it had already been late into the night.
And to make matters worse my phone had died when I had gone to sleep meaning I had woken up to not my alarm but rather to Kuro.
"H-Haruto?" Keji asked confusedly. "What are you doing here? Class starts in a few minutes, you're going to be late."
"Well…" I trailed off as I fished out the crumbled club application that I shoved into my pocket before leaving my apartment in a hurry. "Don't I have to submit this in order to be part of the club?" I grinned when my paper was swiftly snatched out by Keji.
"You didn't," He breathed in shock as he reread the paper to make sure that his eyes weren't deceiving him.
"But," He looked at me before looking at the paper.
"Yup," I smiled as Keji looked like he was about to burst into tears from my application. So it didn't shock me when I was suddenly enveloped in a hug. I didn't have the heart within me to push him off so I merely patted his back in comfort.
"Thank you," The chess enthusiast whispered.
"This is nice and all but as the sponsor of this club, may I have Nakamura's application so he can officially be a part of this club." Ishigami broke Keji out of the hug as he realized what he had exactly done. Bowing profusely in apology to me, which I simply put my hands up and said was okay, he gave the application to the teacher.
"You surprise me, both of you. I didn't expect you to be the one to join this club, then again you are a special case aren't you Haruto Nakamura." Stamping the paper, my club application to the Chess Club had been confirmed.
"As the sponsor of this club I dictate how many people are required to join in order for it to be official. My only condition for Furuta-san was that he recruit someone to the club, which he has done so the Chess Club has now officially been created."
"However," His tone grew dark as he pushed his glasses up, light seemingly emitted from the lenses as me and Keji couldn't help but stiffen up at the menacing sight. "Do not expect me to coddle you like children. You joined because you wanted to learn how to play? Then do not expect me to hold back."
The light from his glasses gave way as his brown eyes bore into the both of us. "By the time I am done with you, I will show you why exactly I was feared on the battlefield known as Chess."
I couldn't help but nervously gulp at what I had exactly signed up for, but as I glanced at Keji I knew that I made the right choice seeing at how his body was brimming with excitement and happiness.
There was one more thing that I needed to do however before I could pat myself on the back.
The heiress was quite disappointed when Haruto didn't show up to the kendo club in the morning. She was sure that she didn't show it but Midori had patted her shoulder in reassurance as they welcomed the newest member to the club.
Still, she would not hold any ill-feelings towards Haruto for choosing the chess club. She was curious about his choice in the chess club and she had tried to ask him what had solidified his choice.
"Sorry Mei, could we meet at the gymnasium after school? I'll explain everything there." Was all that Mei had before class began for that day.
Trusting in his words, that was how Mei was currently approaching the gymnasium at the end of the day. It was only used to host any big sporting events so she didn't have to worry about meeting anyone else as it would be empty..
"Nakamura-san?" Shec allied out as she opened the door to see the redhead standing alone in the middle of the court.
"Ah Raiden-san," He greeted. "This feels kind of strange, you called me here only yesterday but here I am doing the same." He chuckled as he rubbed the back of his neck.
"Why did you call me here Nakamura-san?" She asked me as I knew that she definitely wanted answers. Hopefully this doesn't backfire in my face.
"Well do you remember the advice that you gave me yesterday? Well…" I shuffled my feet nervously as I readied myself for the plan that I had made.
"I w-want to learn Kendo from you." I admitted.
Mei's eyes widened in shock as I began to elaborate. "Well I wanted to learn both kendo and chess but when I thought about it really hard I realized I wanted to learn kendo because of you."
It was true, the way that she held herself in that arena match, the way that she never lost composure, the way that she held her blade with unmatched confidence.
I truly admired that side of her.
"A-And I remembered what you said of how I could befriend the person whose club I didn't get to join." This was it, the critical moment. Bowing as far as possible without falling, "If you would like I could help you with Ishigami-sensei's class in exchange for you teaching me how to do kendo!"
Silence reigned as sweat began to drip from my head. Did I say it wrong? Had I messed up?
My fears were assuaged fortunately when Mei suddenly began to giggle. I looked up in shock to see Mei holding her hand up to her mouth as she struggled to contain her laughter.
"I-I'm sorry, you just looked so serious about this that I couldn't help but laugh a bit." As her laughing ended, she gave me a smile. "I have to refuse your offer though."
Before the terror hit me, Mei continued. "Because I would've helped you train regardless if you had offered help with Ishigami-sensei's work. Though I do have one request."
She walked up to me and offered her hand out. "Let's make this official, let's be friends."
My mouth was left open as I stared at the open hand in disbelief.
This wasn't the girl ostracized by the people around her, that she would be wary of everyone she met.
This was the Mei that was kind to everyone, a saint among people. The heiress who wore her heart on her sleeve.
I smiled as I took her hand as we shook, "Yes Raiden-san, let's be friends."
"Mei," She insisted. "Calling me by my last name feels like we're strangers."
I had to chuckle at that before I corrected myself. "Sorry about that, Mei-san. Though in return please call me Haruto."
"Yes...Haruto-san." The two of us shared one last smile as we had become officially friends. But as we began to talk as friends rather than acquaintances while we waited for the day to come to a close.
I could not shake the feeling that something was amiss.
"For the last time Cocolia, your plan is madness." In her office located at the Anti-Entropy's headquarters in California, Cocolia had to suppress the urge to scream in rage.
"Please Ryoma, if you would just please listen-".
"Cocolia, have you listened to yourself?!" Ryoma Raiden hotly argued back. "You want to create an artificial honkai eruption in order to create a Herrscher just so that we have a chance, a chance, to subdue it just so we could study it."
"This plan is absolute madness! Do you have no regard for the innocent people that will die from this course of action? And what if our forces couldn't stop the Herrscher? How many more would die from them?!"
More than Cocolia was comfortable in sacrificing. She wasn't a heartless woman, she didn't want to intentionally kill innocent people. But as she looked at the picture that she had on her desk, she was reminded of the kids that she protected.
And the one kid that she had failed to protect, the one she had sacrificed for the sake of advancements in Honkai technology.
She could handle scorn by other people, she would stand fearlessly in front of a massive Honkai horde, she would betray as many people she would need to.
But if the orphanage learned of what she had done to keep them safe, she didn't know what she would do.
"Ryoma please," She begged as she poured every emotion that she could into those words, hoping that the father would recognize her distress.
"I'm sorry but I just can't Cocolia, I'm sorry." Was the last thing that he said before he hung up.
The Anti-Entropy leader angrily grabbed the nearest object to her, which was a cold cup of coffee, before she screamed and threw it at the wall with as much force as she could muster. Even as the coffee splattered across her office's walls, her rage was not quelled.
"Trouble in paradise dear Cocolia?" The synthetic voice that suddenly filled her office made the blond turn her head up to glare at the uninvited guest. "I'm in no time for one of your games, Gray Serpent." She hissed the last part as the masked man simply sat down on one of the chairs near her desk.
She should've been concerned that this masked man was able to sneak in undetected, in a heavily defended complex no less, but after a while she grew to accept the fact that no matter how much she strengthened security.
The World Serpent always found a way.
"Why are you so intent in solving this diplomatically?" The hacker asked as he rested his hand on his chair's armrest. "We both know that you have done much worse for far less."
She wanted to argue that she wasn't some heartless creature with no empathy for the people around her, but who was she kidding. He could see right through her.
"Have you forgotten our deal? If you can supplement us with a Herrscher core, we offer the safe return of the girl known as Seele."
"And how do I know that you will keep your end of the bargain?" She said through barely repressed anger.
"You don't," The masked serpent leaned forward, his red artificial eye peering into her soul. "But do you really have another option to save her?" She had to bite her lip at the reminder of her countless failures to try and rescue Seele from the Sea of Quanta.
When her efforts had all but yielded failure, any files regarding the X-10 experiment were kept under tight locks, she should know. She made sure that the encryption on them was still working every month.
And he had so effortlessly broken through them like they were paper.
"Remember Cocolia, the serpent is patient." He stood up and approached the door. As his hand rested on the door's handle, he turned his head to her. "But it cannot be patient forever."
It was pouring in the dead of night for California, the rare rain was a welcome sight for the people as it the rainwater was sparse for the desert land.
Atop one of the many highrises that were near the headquarters of Anti-Entropy, The Gray Serpent had an umbrella over him as he watched the building.
"So that was a bust." In one of the many laboratories that the World Serpent possessed, overlooking an experiment that she had made great strides in, a high-ranking serpent known as Jackal was on a call with him.
And in the middle of London, within a dark room with a bloody body tied to a chair and a single light hanging above them, the assassin known as Raven was also present in the call.
"Still don't see the point of you being so...forgiving to her Gray Serpent." Raven said as she checked her claws if they were still sharp.
"Because she has all of the qualities that a serpent requires, she hates Honkai as much as we do. All that we must do is simply push her in the right direction."
"And I suppose you have already made a plan for that then?" Jackal had a feeling that this call was more than a simple check-up call.
"Raiden Ryoma proves to be a thorn in her side, a thorn in our plan to free our sovereign from the Sea of Quanta." The Gray Serpent looked on apathetically at the people down below his vantage point, all pawns to be used in their plans.
For no sacrifice was too great for the plans that their leader had for the salvation of this world.
"So we shall hit two birds with one stone, we shall dispose of Raiden Ryoma whilst also giving Cocolia the means to create an artificial eruption. However I have encountered a problem, a problem that I hope one of you will be able to solve."
"And what exactly is the problem here?" Raven asked as she looked back to the dead body in the room with her. A traitor who tried to sell their secrets to Schicksal in exchange for asylum. The secrets that he had died with him.
"Raiden Ryoma is a close ally of Einstein and Tesla, Einstein will most definitely notice any attempt to hack into the ME Corp's mainframe. And I do not think that Raven will be able to infiltrate the corporation without getting caught."
"I'm so honored that you have so little trust in my abilities," Raven dryly joked.
"Perhaps I can be of assistance to you," Pulling out her tablet, Jackal began to swipe through her files. "It just so happens that one of my little experiments is currently at Nagazora."
Behind her mask, Jackal grinned as she pulled up the file of one of her latest successes. The World Serpent scientist was surprised when this subject pulled through, she had been sure that the experiments would be too much on its little body.
It's survival was testament to how resilient this subject was.
"Don't worry," A picture of a perfectly normal black feline with blue eyes was brought up on her tablet.
"Yes, STYX will be the perfect infiltrator for your little mission Gray Serpent." And to the right of the black feline, the image of what honkai energy could do if properly controlled.
Meanwhile in Nagazora, the collar on Kuro began to blink yellow; the sudden change in the collar's activity was all but ignored by her 'owner' as he was busy catching up on school assignments.
Everytime I upload a new chapter and see the staggering amount of support this story gets, I'm filled with so much happiness that I look forward to writing these chapters.
Alright let's get to talking about the chapter, there are many things I want to talk about. For one, the way I was able to get Haruto to make a decision. To be completely honest the little sequence with the 'voice' was kind of last minute but I liked how it flowed so it's there.
What do you think about it? He joins the chess club but also gets to learn kendo and befriend Mei. What did you think about how they became friends? I didn't want them to be friends super early but neither did I want to drag it on for a 'special' moment so I thought this was the perfect time for them to be friends.
Also the World Serpent is the first to move to Nagazora, and all I can say is this. If one faction moves, the others will surely follow soon after.
One thing I want to address is the idea of a pairing for Haruto. To be completely honest I probably will have a pairing for him but who it is and where it will actually begin I have no idea.
If you can vouch for a character I will consider it seeing this is my first time doing a pairing and I want to have my options.
Though *cough* *cough* Durandal is the best girl.
Why else would her Abyss Flower weapon drop for my first ten pull but when I pull Eula with 100 pulls I get a Qiqi instead!
Do expect the next update to take awhile as my semester is coming to a close and that means more work at the end, hooray me.
Welp that's all for this chapter. If you enjoyed, drop a fav/follow/kudos as they really help me out with creating great chapters. Reviews are deeply appreciated and if you got a question or a really interesting theory I am more than happy to reply.