21st Century Schizoid Man
Written By: Puratinamu Disuko
Beta By: WolfensteinVII
Disclaimer: This is a fan fiction and was only made for fun. I don't own anything.
Warning! The goal of this fan work is to make a story of an OP protagonist more interesting than just one sentence curb stomping and bashing. This story will also be gory with some very disturbing and squicky images of morally sick and taboo actions and thoughts like racism, cult worship, rape, adult situations with underage characters, and cannibalism, some vague and others described in detail, at some points in the story. These scenes are not there for the sake of being disturbing to make the story grim dark and gritty, but are there because they are necessary for the plot. This story definitely doesn't reflect my beliefs, so please don't sue me for it. Still, this story is made to be light-hearted so don't expect these scenes to be frequent if these things are what you only look for a story. If you're not into OP characters, can't stand gore, or if you're a minor, then I suggest you look elsewhere to spend your precious free time.
Arc 1: In the Chaos
Chapter 4: Medaka Pool
The sun was already pronounced at such an early time, pouring down its life-giving heat from up high in the earthen sky that even Medaka was beginning to perspire under her casual short-skirt and white sleeveless shirt, several buttons from the top and bottom open enough for ventilation as she carried a small purse.
She was waiting under the shed of a local bus stop with an old woman smiling to her grandchild and other teens on their phones, waiting to get to other places and spend the only day of the week where they are free from their responsibilities. Somehow, it made her feel more connected to humanity; that she, Medaka Kurokami, had the same want of spending her free time just to have fun and maybe….
It was eight-thirty in the morning, thirty minutes early to the designated time that she and the rest of the Student Council agreed to. However, the excitement got over her. Then again, no one can blame her; it was the first time she would do such a group activity; the much-awaited experience in her mind since she had received the tickets.
Speaking of how she had the idea in the first place, to be honest, it only came to her when she saw a poster as she was walking home. It was an advertisement of the grand opening of a new water park just a ride away from the nearest bus stop. She does not receive news about the Kurokami Zaibatsu's new endeavors in the business world — not even bothering to know actually — so it came as a welcome surprise to her. With the recent love letter incident and her growing friendship with the Council's green-haired secretary, a day of fun would a great way for them to further their relationships, or so says her readings. Therefore, she called the water park's management, getting three tickets in the process. It might also be a great way to further something else….
Medaka's heart pumped a bit faster at the thought of him.
Then what about Nekomi Nabeshima?
Yes, she had suspicions about Nabeshima's true intentions when joining the council, which were confirmed when the secretary went and issued the love letter challenge. Medaka could not blame her, he is very special and it is only natural that other females would notice him, not the she liked it. Just because her father had seven wives — including her deceased mother — it did not mean she would be open to such a prospect. Still, it seemed she was already too late if the rumors about him and Hansode Shiranui were true. He was gone for almost two and a half years, after all.
She thought about it of course, during to tumultuous span of time he was gone, that maybe it would much better for her if she would find another, to let go of him — she even considered accepting Akune's feelings. However, the matters of the heart are not and will never be defined by hard cold logic, much more so true of her emotion towards a certain strawberry-blonde.
That's why Medaka surmised that maybe, Zenkichi Hitoyoshi would have a very similar marital situation to her father in the future. She couldn't help but feel a bit of hurt at such possible future.
She mulled over the thought, both rage and jealousy and acceptance and friendship, both the heart and the mind, warring with each other with arguments and counter-arguments that made her sleepless for many nights — which wasn't actually a problem for her since she can go a month with no rest if necessary. She had only one conclusion, try to see if things would work out; if not… then something else a bit… more forceful… would be needed. There was only one truth for Medaka — she will never let go of him, even if compromises must be made.
This was the reason why she also decided to invite Nekomi Nabeshima… to try and use the opportunity to see if such arrangements could be possible. It was both cold logic and feeling heart agreeing to a plan that was feasible and would give the much-needed data for further analysis. A little manipulative, she had to admit, but Medaka was confident the eye-patched secretary already knew and consented, already being friends also made the decision easier.
What about Hansode Shiranui?
She did not know what to think of the girl. Medaka was perplexed as to why the blue-haired girl was in the academy to begin with. She knew about the Shiranui Clan, though not all that much with their secretive lifestyle and Double works — it was why Hakama Shiranui is the school chairman instead of her father. Was Hansode Shiranui her double? That she did not have information of. There wasn't much change in her, and as far as she knew, the blue-haired girl wasn't substituting for her in any aspect of her life.
The only conclusion she could think of was that Hansode Shiranui was acting independently, wholeheartedly attending Hakoniwa Academy of her own volition… to be with him….
She did not want to, but Medaka sighed. What happened within those years of his disappearance?
"Oya, Medaka-chan, you're early," a voice called out to her, breaking her from thoughts. It was Nekomi Nabeshima, wearing a sundress, smiling her usual cat-like smile as she walked towards her, a cute and green designer's bag dangling on one of her hands. "Excited aren't we?"
Medaka returned her smile, glancing at a nearby clock — eight forty-five, fifteen minutes before the promised time. "I could say the same to you, Secretary Nekomi."
"Zenkichi-kun ain't here yet?" The eye-patched girl said sitting beside her. "What kind of man makes a girl wait?" she mock complained.
"It is to be expected, we came before the designated time."
"Medaka-chan, it's the guy's prerogative to come earlier than the girl, doing otherwise only means his heart isn't into pleasing us."
"Really?" Medaka did not know that. Are such Shōwa concepts still prevalent in 21st Century Japan? "Isn't that unfair for him?"
"Well… yeah…. But chivalry, Medaka-chan. Regardless of what others say about equality and all that, I still want guys who are every bit of a gentleman like the old days from time-to-time."
"Oh? That's unexpected. I never thought of you to be traditional." As far a she knew, Nekomi Nabeshima was the very example of what women strive for in the modern world — independent, successful, a girl who has a bright future without a man tying her down… well except recently if her actions towards Zenkichi were considered. Human depths sure are extensive, the unexpected deep below, hiding, until an opportune moment comes to present itself.
"That's not it, Medaka-chan. It's not about men's misogynistic views and whatnot. I just want to be treated as special."
"Not that Special, Abnormal stuff. Special, as in, to be treated as if you're the most precious thing in the world kind of special, even if it's just once in a while. I'm sure even the most feminist of women would want to be treated as such by the person they love even if just once in their life." The eye-patched girl said matter-of-factly, nodding to herself, very much convinced of her beliefs.
"Well, how about this. Close your eyes." Medaka did what her secretary said. "Imagine, Zenkichi-kun fussing over you, always taking care of you. Serving you tea when you're tired without even asking him. Staying by your side even when you're most troubled…" Nekomi's voice was slowly turning soft as she went on, almost dreamy, as though she herself was imagining what she said. "…saying words of encouragement, smiling at you, worrying about you."
Medaka opened her eyes and saw the short-haired girl's visible eye closed, her face flushed, smiling. "Secretary Nekomi, he already does those things for me."
The green-haired girl suddenly opened her eyes and groaned as she slapped her own face with her free hand. "Right. He does, huh."
Medaka smiled. "And recently, he also does those things to you."
"Ugh…. Yeah… my bad. Forget what I said."
"However, I do think you're right." Medaka continued to smile as she thought of something. "Why don't we make him let us feel special?"
"Oohhh, I like where this conversation is going."
Zenkichi was breathing hard and fast, panting, running as fast as he could to the designated meeting place. It was almost nine and for the good of his well-being, he must get there in time!
Why did he have to wake up so damn late?
Oh yeah, it was because Shiranui had something to discuss with him the night before. The small girl being his best friend, he gladly welcomed her with a smile. His mother never knew of course as the blue-haired girl had appeared out of an obscure portal directly inside his room.
It turned out that Anshin'in had suggested something to his best friend, a way to sate her hunger without his help by devouring his own… well… not-so-sane worshippers. He already considered such a course of action and he deemed it… somewhat unethical… for Shiranui to eat others…. To be honest, he was still hoping that his best friend would return to her more docile self. It was an ephemeral dream really, and something he knew would be a lost cause, however, he still hoped. Then again, she already crossed the line….
Returning to her old self was a next to impossible task.
Then he thought about recent developments, and acquiesced to the blue-haired girl's request. Eventually, there will be times when he would not be there by her side to curb her hunger… so might as well let her. What's a couple of unknown lives for the comfort of his cute Shiranui?
A cult disappearing into the abyss was normal anyway.
If he knew she would be so happy from him agreeing to such a simple request, he would have proposed such idea to her sooner.
After some… rigorous nightly action, they slept, Zenkichi waking up alone with the sun already up in the sky, his alarm clock broken in pieces — probably by Shiranui.
Only after yawning and smacking his lips did he realize that he had a very important engagement. With wide eyes, he stumbled off his bed, panicking like crazy, as he hurriedly searched for appropriate clothes — a loose white t-shirt with some alien characters and "RULES" imprinted on it and a pair straight leg pants. He then ran for the stairs, stumbling and landing badly on his head. He did not let such a minor injury stop him, so with a very bloody and bent nose and a broken neck, he went to the rest room to wash his face and fix himself. After he was done, he ran to the kitchen, greeting his child-like mother good morning as he took his bowls of rice and miso soup and poured both to his mouth unceremoniously, doing a very good job of a blowfish impression as he endured the burning heat to grind the food and gulp it down. As his burned lips healed, he gave his mother very short summary of where he was going and then hurriedly said his goodbye. However, before he could even take out his outdoor shoes from the shoe rack, his mother stopped him, gesturing for their morning mother and son ritual. He groaned but ultimately did what she asked and hugged his own mother, while she gave him a peck to the cheek. Zenkichi could not help but smile at his mother's show of affection.
Again, after all that was necessary was done, he said his goodbyes and ran as though his life depended on it.
Of course, he thought of using [Hammer Space], but getting out of that obscure dimension was such a hassle with the exit being random; the skill might even make him later than he already was. He did not even consider [Accel Point] and [Light Feet] as both skills were too conspicuous for his taste. Therefore, he settled for good old and normal running.
It wasn't after he saw the bus stop that he slowed down, taking out his phone from his pocket. It was already ten minutes after nine — definitely late!
He was so dead!
Zenkichi could already see the girls; both sitting on a long bench in the bus stop with other would be commuters, wearing poker faces as they tapped the soles of their shoes on the pavement.
He was fatigued and was hard on catching up with his breath, his run reduced to slow strides, falling to his knees in front of the Council girls as he finally reached the bus stop. He ignored the glances of other people as he placed his hands on the hot pavement, the sweat from his forehead falling on the cemented ground.
As he finally caught up with his erratic breathing, he looked up and smiled weakly at both Medaka and Nabeshima. "Ah, sorry I'm late. Got lost in the road of life."
"Stop with the stupid excuses, Zenkichi-kun," the eye-patched girl said as she raised an eyebrow. "It's bad taste to arrive later than the girl."
His purple-haired childhood friend beside the green-haired girl nodded, remaining silent and her eyes closed.
"Sorry won't be enough this time, Zenkichi," the buxom president in casual but very sexy ensemble said, opening her eyes to glare at him.
He gulped from nervousness, his eyes erratically looking for help from the people who were also in the waiting shed. He only got pitying and some jealous looks from the males, while the female half decided to ignore his state. Zenkichi then decided to hazard a question on how to acquiesce their supposed anger. "Umm, then what should I do?"
The catty senior smiled widely while Medaka nodded with her usual stern expression.
"How about you become our servant for today, Zenkichi-kun."
"Isn't that my usual role?" He'd like to say, but decided not to, as doing so would only worsen things.
"I'm sure you're thinking, 'Isn't that my usual role'?" Nabeshima suddenly added, nodding to herself, clearly pleased.
"Wow, you're really good Nabeshima-senpai. You're just like Joseph Joestar!"
"Kuku, aren't I? But giving me small praises won't help you, Zenkichi-kun."
"But if you knew, then why?"
"There are rules that you must follow, Zenkichi," Medaka said, entering the conversation, "We don't want to hear your usual complaints. You would do anything we ask, no questions asked."
Zenkichi would have nodded in agreement if not for a very debilitating possibility. What if Medaka asked what happened to him during his absence? What if Nabeshima would use the opportunity to discern secrets that she wasn't ready to know yet? He cursed inwardly; the seemingly harmless penalty was turning into a wedge that would ruin the gears of everything. However, he still had an ace. Regardless of his dislike for the method, he would have to give lies and half-truths if such situations should happen.
Grimacing, he slowly stood up, and sighed. "I don't have a choice, do I?"
"Nope!" both said girls said at the same time, flashing him with their equally pretty and innocent smiles.
He returned their smiles with a weak one.
Yeah, it's definitely better to lie.
The bus was full; it seems that many people heard of the grand opening of the water park. Nekomi could see each seat filled from the back of the bus where she and the rest of the Hakoniwa Student Council were sitting.
She nudged the strawberry-blonde teenager beside her, who was nodding, on the edge of sleep, earning his attention, as she tried her hardest to ignore the lingering smell of the small monster, aka Hansode Shiranui, on him.
She raised an eyebrow. "How can you sleep when you're between two girls?"
"Do you want me to grope you?"
"Try it and you're going to be my scratching pole for the rest of the school year." She glared at him.
"Ah, no, no! Of course I won't do such a thing! Sleep talk! Yes, I'm just spouting sleep talk!" He shook his head vigorously.
Nekomi sighed. Why did it have to be him?
Kuku, you should be honest with yourself.
She sighed again.
Oh, don't give me that! You should be glad if he gropes you. That just means he's interested in you.
The logic of the voice was just out-of-there. No self-respecting girl would want to be groped.
Kuku, such juvenile thoughts. Humanity's morals are not absolute, my dear.
Well, she was human, so human morals was a given.
Even after everything…
Nekomi could imagine the voice shaking its metaphorical head.
She might be open to some not-so-normal concepts — like being in a polygamous relationship perhaps — but she was still sticking to human decency. They were living in a human society so they have to follow some human rules.
Thus, Nekomi decided to ignore the voice and contemplate her current situation.
The water park invitation from Medaka came as a surprise to her, especially when she was invited. She actually expected the purple-haired genius to invite Zenkichi on a date while showing her who the better girl was. Nekomi definitely thought too soon, and thus, she was disappointed with herself for thinking of such subterfuge from the naïve genius.
You cannot blame yourself for suspecting her. It is only natural to think such things.
Well, at least the voice in her had some use on making her feel better.
Then again, Nekomi realized Medaka was also planning on something. Whatever the case may be, it had come to her attention that the purple-haired genius was also open to such unusual relationship arrangement, if the president's invitation was to be surmised as such.
No, she was sure it was Medaka's goal.
How unexpected of such a naïve girl.
She did know about Kurokami family and the extent of their influence, so maybe it was also natural for affluent families to have such marital arrangements. Then again, she was only hypothesizing.
Nope, she's definitely from such a family.
The Kurokami girl was probably leery about such arrangement so she decided to test whether it would work out by adding Nekomi into the equation. Logical and at the same time there was heart on such methodology.
I approve! I'm actually starting to like that girl.
The bus went on the road, passing through houses and people, stopping occasionally to drop a couple of commuters while letting in an equal number. Zenkichi returned to sleep, leaning on a silent but clearly pleased Medaka, who also had her eyes closed and was leaning on him.
Surprisingly, instead of feeling jealous, Nekomi smiled at such a sweet picture. Friendship definitely does wonders… or maybe it was the voice. Regardless, the ugly feeling of jealousy was gone, replaced by seeming content as she decided to join them in the land of dreams, letting her head lie on her side of his shoulder.
It wasn't long before they arrived on their destination.
It sure was a huge water park. Just standing outside, waiting in line, as he took in the image of people lining up to enter, gave him a sense of wonderment. It was as though they were waiting for the gates of a cyclopean city to open, the enormous entrance of almost non-Euclidian design mesmerizing those that gaze upon it.
Zenkichi cursed. The owners were either crazy, had some unusual business plan, or had some out-of–whack conspiracy of sacrificing their customers to summon that city under that particular point in the South Pacific Ocean.
If not for the cutesy rendition of the Deep Ones, the silly name — he snickered at the 'Cthully' — and the bright happy colors, he would have destroyed the place immediately. He could not let some overgrown man-dragon-squid acolyte of his running around and ruining everything.
"Umm, Medaka-chan, do you know the owner of the water park?"
"You don't know? That's a surprise," his childhood friend answered in front of him, her slender back facing him, tilting her head to look at him, her tone implying something. She then smiled. "This is the newest of the zaibatsu's venture in the theme park industry. The group of companies is just riding on the bandwagon of the recent rise in popularity of Lovecraft's mythos in the country." It turned out that Medaka had some idea of his connection with the said group of companies, not that he was actively hiding it.
"That's bad taste, even for them," he said nonchalantly.
"What so wrong with it? It's not like those things in those stories actually exist, Zenkichi. Don't you know about 'Haiyore! Nyaruko-san', 'Song of Saya', or 'Demonbane'?"
"You've actually read those things?" Nabeshima suddenly entered their conversation, standing behind him.
Zenkichi was also surprised; those are some pretty niche titles targeted on an Akiba-centric audience. Yes, he had already read those titles and even read that light novel about some shoggoth becoming a maid — pretty good actually. Why couldn't real shoggoths be moe? Wait… moe shoggoths, now that's an idea for the future.
He actually burst out laughing at the end of Demonbane to the point he fell off his chair, rolling on the floor. And the concept behind the light novel Nyaruko — he could not wait for them to meet again and use the material. Still, it would have been better if Medaka mentioned the book 'Lair of the Hidden Gods'; at least it's critically acclaimed by several scholars interested in the said mythos.
"Well, I never read them myself, though I do know the general plot since my brother has them in his collection."
Was Maguro such a careless older brother? Or maybe he's just slowly corrupting Medaka? They definitely have to talk in the very near future.
"Umm, you do know there are rumors that the stories of this Lovecraft guy and some of the subsequent stories after his death had some truth in them don't you?" Nabeshima said. The catty secretary seemed to be getting closer to the truth, or she's already a conspiracy nut even before her recent altercation with him.
"Oh, those things about Miskatonic University? Hmm, you do have a point, Secretary Nekomi. But since there's no substantial proof yet, I'll continue to be a skeptic. Even my father only laughed at the rumors, and he got his doctorate there."
Nabeshima nodded at Medaka's reasoning, though she did steal a glance at him. "You know the saying, 'when there's smoke, there's fire'." Yep, definitely getting closer… but still not close enough.
Medaka shook her head and smiled. "Even so, it's only a water park. There's nothing wrong with it."
Zenkichi sighed. "If you say so."
As they finally reached the gates, a male employee ushered them in, but not before taking their tickets.
"Are you Kurokami-sama and friends?"
Medaka nodded for the group, obviously used to such deference.
"Momozono-sama and Nienami-sama would want to meet your group."
His childhood friend narrowed her eyes. "Very well, lead the way."
Hearing those two names definitely put his fear of the water park's true purpose to rest. Even the inside wasn't that much different from the usual water park: long water slides with interesting and very intricate designs, artificial wave pools, a splash area, very large pools circling all over the place, an artificial beach, a place to get some snacks, the works, with a lot of people enjoying each.
Zenkichi let out a sigh of relief.
The walk and the elevator ride was quite long — the worker only leading them up to the elevator entrance — as it turned out that the management's office was on a corner of the park on the top of a lighthouse-like structure, though larger with the tip shaped like a horizontal semi-circle. It had a bird's eye view of the whole park, perfect for its purpose.
After a rhythmic chime, the elevator door opened, stumbling upon a short and empty hallway with a couple of doors. They went straight to the room labeled "Management" at the other end. Medaka never knocked, letting herself in, the door surprisingly unlocked.
It was expected if those two were the ones managing the place. They just do not care for such little things as locking a door, unless it involved some much-needed privacy. Not that he was worried, he was very confident on their respective abilities to defend themselves.
Anyway, the management's office was an observatory-like room with transparent, though tinted, bulletproof glass walls in semi-circle. It was almost empty, the room seemingly larger than it was supposed to be, except for the very center of the room.
As he expected, two young girls were there, each sitting on opposite sides of a hard plastic table with aluminum stands, playing a game of — from what he could infer from the familiar back card art — Yu-Gi-Oh, not even caring about how great a view the room had on the whole park. On one side was a bored-looking redhead with a ragged, dark red school uniform, while on the other side was a small girl — her feet swaying, dangling — with vicious looking eyes wearing a kindergarten uniform and a mop cap. There was a set of large expensive looking briefcases under the table.
"I'm here," Medaka said in her stern business voice.
The girls who were playing a card game did not show any signs that they had heard Medaka's announcement of her presence.
"I'm here," Medaka said, again, her one eye twitching. Well, it was her first time being ignored after all. However, the girls only continued with their game, so Zenkichi decided to intervene.
"Hey, Momozono, Nienami, Medaka-chan's here."
"Not now, Zenkichi, I'm about to beat her," the redhead said, staring intently with her seemingly bored eyes at the cards on her hands and on her side of the table.
"Ha, you wish, fish girl," the diminutive girl with the mop cap said, grinning. "I play Miracle Synchro Fusion and remove from play both Dai-Gusto Gulldos and Reeze, Whirlwind of Gusto from the graveyard to summon Ultimate Axon Kicker in attack position. I then use Monster Reborn to summon Goyo Guardian from the graveyard in attack position—"
Before Momozono could even finish, Nienami dropped her cards.
"Ah, I lost."
"Hey, I haven't attacked yet!"
"It's obvious I'll lose."
"You can't quit!"
"Give it a rest, game geek, I lost."
The redhead ignored the fuming girl and stood, turning to face them.
Medaka shook her head. "Next time if you call an appointment, make sure you're free. What you two did was bad for business."
"Heh. Spoken like a true Kurokami heir," said the small girl with the frayed hair, as she also stood up on top of her chair. She then bowed. "I welcome you, Medaka Kurokami and the rest of the Hakoniwa Student Council to Happy Cthully Water Park."
Zenkichi let out a snicker. "Nice one, Momozono."
"Mou, I'll think of a better name later."
"I told you Ruki-ruki Land would be better," Nienami said, her voice drawling.
"Shut it with your fascination for your own made-up word, fish girl. At least mine sounds cuter."
"Kuku, it seems you've gone around, Zenkichi-kun," Nabeshima suddenly hissed she stepped up front of the council group. "You two seemed quite familiar with our resident blockhead."
"I too want some answers," Medaka added her piece.
The arguing girls were butting heads over the table when they both turned to look at them. They then took an inquiring glance at him.
Sighing, they stood straight.
"I'm sure you know of his journey, right, Kurokami-san?" Momozono said, grinning maliciously, suddenly morphing to inquiry as she turned to face green-haired third year. "By the way, can you introduce yourself?"
"Nekomi Nabeshima, Secretary. And you two?" Nabeshima said, tapping the soles of her shoes on the floor.
"Heh, I apologize if we haven't introduced ourselves yet. My name's Momo Momozono."
"I'm called Namanie Nienami."
Both girls introduced themselves.
"Momozono, Nienami. So are you two part of the Kurokami Zaibatsu?"
Nabeshima knew of the branch families of the Kurokami Zaibatsu? Zenkichi was confused so he decided to ask.
"Umm, Nabeshima-senpai, how did you know?"
"Huh? Isn't it common sense to know of the major backers of Hakoniwa Academy?" The eye-patched girl looked at him incredulously.
"Really?" He never knew that. Is it really normal to know?
"Aren't you even a little bit worried about employment after you graduate?"
"Ah, if you say it like that, it does make sense." He nodded, convinced.
Nabeshima shook her head. "Anyway, Zenkichi's stupid question aside—"
"—I still want to know why you two are chummy with him."
"You could say I met him back then and we unexpectedly hit it off," Momozono answered, taking out a coffee flavored candy bar from one of the pockets on her dress and biting through it, plastic cover, foil, and all.
"Same here," Nienami added.
"That doesn't explain anything."
"Heh, haven't you heard of privacy, cat girl," the diminutive girl in a mop cap frowned, her already vicious eyes intensifying.
Nabeshima stiffened, her eyes widening at the both of them. "You…"
Momozono suddenly grinned while Nienami's lips twitched.
The green-haired secretary let out a bestial hiss as she hurriedly let herself out of the room.
"What did you do to her?" Medaka threatened, her eyes narrowing at the pair.
"Don't know," the girl with the mop cep said while Nienami shrugged.
"Zenkichi, I'll let you take care of things here, I'll catch up with Nekomi."
"Sure, this won't take long."
Medaka smiled, nodding. After one last glare at the two girls at the table, she went to follow Nabeshima.
As soon as she closed the door, Zenkichi turned to face the pair with a raised eyebrow.
"So… what did you two do?"
"If you did not even get why she was angry, then it would be useless even if we tell you," Momozono said, tossing the remaining coffee bar into her small mouth.
"He's just acting oblivious," Nienami said, returning to her seat, which her current business partner also did.
"What could I even say? I can't lie to them if you two are here. Shiranui already revealed a couple of things to Nabeshima." Really, why does Shiranui always make things harder for him? However, for the life of him, he could not get angry. Regardless of how malicious she might seem to be, she is inherently a good girl. He had to admit, facades aside, she's a better human than him.
He could also not blame Nabeshima for how she acted. It was only natural with how the current society of humans is structured.
As for Medaka, he did not want to think about such things… yet.
"Point," Nienami gave her agreement, pushing the cards towards the small girl on the other side of the table.
"Really, such a cruel man," Momozono said as she took the cards on the table, arranging them into two appropriate decks. She then hefted the huge and expensive looking briefcase beside her and placed it on the table.
"Okay, okay, I understand. Anyway, why are you two even here?"
"What, can't a girl see his fiancé?" With a click, the mop cap girl opened it. Inside were more decks, all Yu-Gi-Oh from what he could tell. She placed the two decks inside it.
"Well, I thought you girls were busy."
"We still are…," Nienami said, pulling out a small blade under her skirt — earning him a welcome panty shot in the process — using its sharp edge to groom her nails.
"The fish girl is right; we're here only because of work. I'm actually surprised the Kurokami heir wanted to spend time here given how plebeian this place is."
"A great bonus for a hard day's work."
"Yup. You see, Zenkichi. This water park is a test, a collaboration between the Momozono and Nienami Family. With my family's specialty with all things entertaining—"
"And my family's employees' unique traits in water. I manage them."
"Then what about that gaudy gate?"
"Heh, you like it? Don't worry. We'll replace it tomorrow. We can't have foreign governments labeling us cultists can we?"
Zenkichi shook his head. So it was only a joke aimed at him… that's a bit much. "See to it that you do."
Suddenly, the familiar tone of the song 'Under the Sea' reverberated inside the room.
Nienami blushed. "Sorry, let me answer the call." She took out her still ringing cell phone under her tattered skirt — while returning the small blade she had in hand — and placed it to her ear, letting out monosyllabic grunts of affirmation from time-to-time. She then returned the phone to a hidden pocket under her skirt after she finished.
Yep, a double panty shot. Zenkichi nodded appreciatively. Nienami never fails to deliver.
However, Zenkichi had to ask, "My Little Mermaid?"
"I like the movie." Nienami let out a disappointed sigh. "Sorry, I've got to leave. A mascot part-timer had some problems with her suit."
"Do your job well, fish girl," Momozono said absent-mindedly, closing the briefcase and placing it back to where she took it.
"Yeah," the redhead replied. She then gave him a small smile. "Hope you have fun, Zenkichi." And with a shy peck to his lips, she left.
Thus, he and Momozono remained.
"So… you two are going to work here from now on?"
"Nah, only for the opening day and some minor supervisory work in the next days," She pulled out another briefcase, this time containing Magic the Gathering cards. She then pulled out a deck and checked each card one by one.
"So you're leaving after this?"
"We're already here, why would we?" the small girl with in kindergarten clothes let out a gentle smile, returning the deck — green themed it seemed — and pulled another one, a deck of blacks.
"Does that mean what I think that means?"
"You'll find out soon enough."
Zenkichi did not know whether to be excited or to be horrified of the prospect.
"Don't worry… we'll only intervene if needed." She hummed as she pulled out a card, replacing it with another one from the briefcase.
"Is this about the Flask Plan?"
"Something along those lines. Anyway, I'm sure the Kurokami heir and the cat girl are already waiting for you."
"Oh, in a hurry to get rid of me, eh."
"I can't concentrate on my work if you're here." She closed the briefcase, already done with what she was doing.
"Oh well, see ya later, Momozono."
"Wait." She stood on the top of the chair she was sitting on.
"You're forgetting something."
"What is it then?"
She looked away, her cheeks reddening. "Don't make me say it, it's embarrassing."
"Oh, if you can't say it, I'm sure it's not important."
"Okay, okay…. You forgot to…," she said, unintelligibly mumbling the rest.
"Can you repeat it? I did not hear it clearly." As always, he could not help but tease her.
Suddenly, Momozono jumped towards him, using the table as a springboard. She clung to his neck…
"Stop teasing me!"
…and kissed him.
"Puah!" Red faced, she let go, landing deftly on her toes. "Now go!"
She then looked away and smiled. "Enjoy yourself."
Nekomi slammed her knuckled hand on the wall as she waited for the elevator door to open, gritting her teeth in frustration.
To think she would meet those… whatever they were….
I assure you, unlike Eternal Hunger, those two are still human… well, for the most part.
Whatever, Nabeshima did not care what they were. She's wasn't even angry with them. What she was actually fuming about was her unpreparedness. Here she was, convinced that she was actually alright with such an arrangement with Zenkichi and Medaka, even seeing the little monstrous girl in another light after her lecture that day, but then the bomb that was those two girls came.
She thought she was ready; she spoke too soon.
What's more — the fact that was grating Nekomi even more — was their background. It wasn't enough that one was the granddaughter of the Hakoniwa Academy Chairman, another was a Kurokami, and one was… whatever she was... He had to add two business giant heirs in the mix. It was only right for her to conclude that the remaining were also elites. What the hell!? Is she the only one who actually came from a normal background?
Nekomi cursed, realizing her complex was kicking again, and this time, in full force.
But that was not all. What she's afraid of the most was the possibility of being tossed aside, unable to keep up with others. To earn his disappointment, for him to give excuses to keep her away from him, to disappear completely from her life… reduced to simple letters and calls… just like with her parents.
…Don't worry, my dear. Did you not promise each other? He will always be there for you to hate…. He won't leave, I'm sure of it.
How can the voice be so sure? In the end, everyone would leave the disappointment, to get away from an unremarkable girl who does not know her place reaching for the impossible. Even the seeming losses and gains she had recently were losing their significance from the recent revelations.
I just know.
Nekomi slammed her hands again on the concrete wall, cracking it and forming a small depression, as she let out a hiss of frustration, tuning out the voice in her head. At least there were no other people in the hallway to see her sorry state.
Ah, it seemed she thought so soon. She forgot about the genius president.
"…Are you alright, Nekomi?"
"Kuku, what do you think?" She avoided the purple-haired girl's gaze.
"Did they do anything to you?"
"I wish they did…" Oh how she wished they did… then at the very least she could actually hate them. However, life is not made of wishes and what-ifs; it's about cold heart truths and a ton of lies.
"I don't understand…. However, regardless of what's distressing, I'm here to help."
Sudden raged welled within Nekomi. How can this genius girl understand!? The naïve girl was as amazing as they come, the best of the best! Not like her who had to lose a part of her very self. Not like her who had to pay the consequences just to get a glimpse of that bright and much desired pedestal!
Not like her….
She whipped around, ready to barrage the assuming girl with curses and derogatory words.
However, her rage went to a full stop as she saw Medaka's face.
The sad look of the naïve girl's eyes, the genuine look of concern.
"We're friends right, Nekomi?" the purple-haired genius said, her voice gentle.
They were friends….
Nekomi could only smile a self-depreciating smile. "Kuku, yes, friends." Saved by an inexperienced girl from her own self-destructive complex, it was embarrassing.
I'm definitely liking this girl.
She may be outclassed, but at least she was sure of Medaka's support.
Her friend's support.
Medaka was glad.
Whatever came over Nekomi, she was sure the green-haired secretary was already over it.
However, she, herself, was still troubled.
Zenkichi already knew the heirs of two branch families, even being very close to them from what she could gather. It was only apt to conclude that he also knew the others.
Medaka was worried.
Was there another Jet Black Wedding Feast? If so, then was Zenkichi involved?
She did not even have time to be jealous of how close he was with them, as the worry for his safety overpowered the negative emotion. It was natural, as everyone who participated in the last Jet Black Wedding Feast died… and even her father figure perished not long after he won the first feast.
Does Zenkichi know about the feast? Was that the reason why he went and disappeared? Maybe he won and he was now her fiancé…. Oh how Medaka wished such thought was true.
However, his father did know he would be back just before the start of high school.
Then again, if the feast did happen, she would have known.
What was she supposed to think about him and those two girls…? Was her premonition that Zenkichi was becoming like her biological father true? Does he also have the same relationship with the other recently declared female heirs of the branch families? What about Hansode Shiranui? What was her relationship with him? Questions and questions… all with no definite answers. She had always been so sure that such foreign state of confusion was making her a bit nauseous — a first for Medaka Kurokami.
"Are you alright, Medaka-chan?" Nekomi asked, walking beside her, the green-haired girl's face wrought with worry.
"Yes, I am fine."
"If you say so," the eye-patched girl said. It was clear she wasn't convinced, but she relented.
They had just arrived in the female changing room — just a series of coin lockers with some blinds in one corner. It was not long after that that Medaka was already in her swimsuit, waiting for Nekomi to finish changing to her own.
"Nekomi, what about your eye?"
"Oh this?" Nekomi said behind a blind. "Don't worry; my doctor said it's alright if I just use a contact lens as a substitute to protect it."
"Then why are you still wearing an eye-patch?"
"Kuku, it's quite embarrassing. You see, somehow I feel uncomfortable without it. And it's not like it clashes with my looks. Some of my classmates even said that it looked good on me. Why disagree?"
"Uhuh. That's good. Just be careful, okay?"
"You shouldn't worry about me, Medaka-chan."
Nekomi's head then appeared above the blinds, staring at her up and down, both of short-haired girl's purple eyes visible after a long time. "Hooh, you really went out to look good today, Medaka-chan."
"It's a waste to not show-off my body with the work I do to maintain it," she said proudly as she stretched.
"Eh? You do?"
"Of course. You might think otherwise with how much I eat, but I do a lot of exercise on my own."
"Okay, but I'm sure that's not the reason why you're wearing that."
"Well…" Medaka looked down checking if there was amiss with her white string bikini.
"Don't worry; I'm not jealous of you. Heck, lure him in with that body of yours."
"Really? But I thought—"
"But don't forget about me, okay?"
Well, that confirms it. Her secretary did know of her plan to — as they say — test the waters. "Are you sure about this, Nekomi?"
"To be honest, I disliked it at first. But with the recent developments, compromises should be made."
Just as her deceased father figure would always say, "To live a happy life is to live in compromised life."
"And we're friends, right?" Nekomi added, giving her an approving smile.
"Ah, yes, we're friends. And friends share."
"Even if others would appear, we will not lose."
"We will not give up."
Yes, it was good to have a very understanding friend.
Zenkichi was lost. The damn water park was just too big.
"Where are they anyway?" he mumbled as he searched for the girls of the Student Council.
"My, my. If it isn't the worm."
"Urk!" Zenkichi inwardly cursed as he heard the much hated voice of his rival. He turned around. There, smugly lounging on a sunbathing chair was Kouki Akune, his eyes hidden under a black pair of shades.
Well, so much for a fun day.
"Why are you here, Akune?"
"This place isn't yours, Hitoyoshi. I can relax here anytime I want. So… where's Medaka-san and Nekomi-senpai?"
"What makes you think they're here?"
"I'm not stupid, Hitoyoshi. If you're here, then so are they."
"Huh? It's not like they can't go to water parks without me."
"So… you don't know?"
Akune grinned. "So you're actually here just to relax, huh, mama's boy."
"Wait, what did you just call me!?"
"What's wrong with being close with my mother? Huh?"
"Nothing, nothing. Just saying what's true." The blonde was voicing platitudes, but his attitude said otherwise. Akune was always like this, riling him up even back then.
He was sure that Nabeshima was at fault here. Wasn't the mauling enough?
"Anyway, enough with your issues. You really don't know where they are?"
"What's make you think I'm going to answer you after what you said."
"Wow, you act like a kid."
He would have punched the smug face off Akune if not for a sudden arrival of a couple of girls.
"Captain Akune, you're not swimming?" a small girl with pigtails said, holding an inflatable beach ball larger than half of her body. The girl was wearing a very cute swimsuit that Shiranui would have worn if his best friend were there.
"C'mon! It would be waste if you just lie there until it starts," the confident looking girl with the short hair and sporty one-piece added, suddenly hugging the smaller girl from behind.
"Hehe, you're just too cute, Ringo-chan!" The taller girl pinched the smaller girl's cheeks, obviously having fun with the meek girl's cute cries. The taller girl then looked at his direction. "Woah…. Isn't he that guy who beat Nabeshima-senpai? The one with those unreal judo moves?"
Akune sighed and stood up from his prone position. "Let me introduce to you girls; the worm, serial momma's boy, and current General Affairs Manager of the Student Council: Zenkichi Hitoyoshi."
Both girls snickered.
"Sorry," the taller girl said apologetically. She then offered a handshake — which he returned — grinning. "Hotaru Tanigawa, at your service."
"Ringo Hoshizumi," the smaller girl said, shyly introducing herself, hiding behind the large beach ball.
"You're just too cute, Ringo-chan," Tanigawa began pinching Hoshizumi's cheeks again. "But, seriously, are you really a momma's boy?"
"Hah, definitely a momma's boy."
Akune suddenly patted him in the back. "Women are sharp, Hitoyoshi."
"Am I just here to be made fun of by your group?"
"What, you aren't?"
"Haha, you're actually funny, Hitoyoshi."
Huh? That's quite a change of attitude from the blonde bastard.
"Hey, what's with you being so chummy all of a sudden?"
"Nothing. Maybe becoming a captain made me more mature, unlike a certain someone."
The girls accompanying Akune laughed again.
Zenkichi gave up and just sighed. "Seriously, you guys should stop this. I can only take so much."
Luckily, Zenkichi's dreadful teasing stopped when they heard loud catcalls and wolf whistles behind him. He turned around to look.
What they saw stole their undivided attention.
"Hitoyoshi, scratch what I said. I still hate you."
"Yeah… I'd hate myself too."
Zenkichi's mind, kindly saying, was in a very deep ditch, his brain functions teetering on the brink of collapse. His body was rigid, his blood boiling on top of the hot sun above, sweating profusely, as his eyes widened to their physical utmost, his mouth hanging uselessly open.
It was a normal reaction for the two contrasting, but somehow complementing, beauties that walked towards him.
One had a body that could easily surpass those of models from Victoria's Secret, her white string bikini hugging her curves, hiding enough to tantalize thoughts of both male and female alike. Her stern beauty was beseeching, overwhelming, that if he did not already know of her, he would have offered his body to do whatever she wanted with it as he placed her on a pedestal to be his master, his mistress. Thankfully, he knew her; she was his childhood friend in fact, so he managed to control himself, albeit not that much.
The girl beside her was another story altogether. She was prim and proper, sporty and spunky, with an air of unexplained wildness as she stalked like a panther towards him with her black two-piece showing off her usually hidden but very fetching femininity.
Oh gods of earth, created by mortal man to rule upon them, one was Artemis, one was Cleopatra, both were goddesses, both were empresses. Men and women alike would have zealously fought wars and pillaged continents in their name. For as the creature known as human rose to prominence at the end of Aphoom Zhah and Ithaqua's Ice Age, so was their destructive and ephemeral wants, offering countless Hyborean Kingdoms and Thurian Empires, and the untold riches and alien artifacts they possess, for a chance to gaze upon their exemplary and otherworldly countenance. The creature known as man would have gladly sunk the great city of Atlantis and even the lost but ever-mysterious continent Mu just to be bequeathed of a peek. They are such women, such creatures, with beauteous allure, unheard and unseen even in the ever wondrous confines of the dreamlands, enough to tame even the greatest of entities within the cruel and infinite Multiverse.
Yes, Zenkichi's mind was definitely malfunctioning when he began to think of such crazy metaphors.
"Hey, Zenkichi-kun, you there?"
"I'il ioljithma I'ya Nbish. Ii'ya mukhtar'loth ngah Mhkadhi."
He was so stuck in such metaphorically deep ditch that it took a gentle slap from the green-haired goddess… a gentle slap from Nabeshima to wake him.
"What are you spouting, Zenkichi-kun...?" the green-haired girl turned to ask a dumbstruck Akune. "Hey what happened to him?"
"Ah, sorry… what were you saying, Nabeshima-senpai?" Zenkichi finally managed to utter.
"Nevermind…." Nabeshima then let out a conniving smile at him, twirling on the spot, showing off her sporty black bikini. "So, what do you think?"
"What do I think…? Well… it's… I… ah… good?"
"Your answer sucks, but I'm satisfied with you reaction. Good for you, Zenkichi-kun." She gently tapped his cheeks.
Out of nowhere, for he was still recovering from his sudden mental breakdown, Zenkichi felt someone tugging on one of his hands. He turned and saw another goddess — a very sexy Medaka.
"What about mine, Zenkichi?" She said; unusually shy for once, which only added to her allure.
"Ahhhhhhh…. It's good."
His childhood friend in the white string bikini seemed satisfied with his answer as she pumped her fist. She then did a high-five with Nabeshima.
After such strangely out-of character moment, Nabeshima turned to the Judo trio, smiling her usual smile. "Anyway, fancy meeting you here, Akune-kun. You even brought Tanigawa-chan and Hoshizumi-chan."
"Yeah…" the blonde rubbed the back of his head. "Just like you guys, we're here to have fun." He then turned to his two female companions. "Right?"
"Of course, Nabeshima-senpai."
"Huhum… I doubt that's the only reason you three are here." The girl who was currently eye-patch-less — both her purple orbs showing — was rubbing her chin, grinning wider.
Akune let out a defeated sigh. "As expected, we can't hide anything from you, Nabeshima-senpai."
"Kuku! Praise me more!" Nabeshima proudly smiled.
"So, how did you know?"
"Before we found you four, we noticed familiar faces among the crowd, all known to be members of clubs from Hakoniwa," Medaka answered this time.
"Really?" Zenkichi never noticed.
"What? You didn't notice?" Nabeshima repeated what he was thinking. Was the green-haired third-year a mind reader now? Maybe she's just awesome like that?
Zenkichi decided to spout the first thing he thought. Definitely a bad move, then again, no one can blame him after such… shocking experience. "Uhhh… I was busy searching for you two?"
"Uhuh… and I hate eating fish. Do you think we're that gullible, Zenkichi?"
"Regardless of his reasons, we have to focus on this new development. Captain Akune, why are some of the clubs of Hakoniwa here?" Medaka thankfully intervened.
For the life of him, he was sure Nabeshima enjoys tormenting him physically, quite different from Shiranui's mind games. Ah, the pains he must endure for his irresistible swa— uh… circumstances. Yep, definitely circumstances. He definitely and undoubtedly wasn't thinking of something else.
"Well, as you know, it's the opening day of this water park," Akune began his explanation.
"Aha! So with the opening day, there will be an event…" Nabeshima suddenly said, acting as though she was the unholy fusion of Conan Edogawa and Phoenix Wright, though definitely sexier. She was obviously conscious of how she's acting and was even enjoying it.
Akune let out a good-natured smile at his erstwhile captain. "Yes. We heard the prize is quite a large sum of money, so we, and several others, decided to join for the chance to get the prize money for their respective clubs."
"For what it's worth, I apologize that we still haven't finished with the budgeting of the club funds," Medaka said, back to her usual stern and no-nonsense attitude. "I assure you that we will fix this as soon as we can."
"Don't worry, we understand," Akune said. The small girl, Hoshizumi, then tugged on his left arm, all the while cutely glaring at Medaka while hiding behind him. "Ringo-san?"
The pig-tailed girl never answered, opting to continue tugging the blonde's arm.
"Sorry, Ringo-chan's just shy," Tanigawa said, defending her friend.
Akune nodded in understanding and turned to give Medaka and Nabeshima an apologetic smile. "Ah… sorry, can we cut this discussion short?" He completely ignored Zenkichi, who was somehow reduced to a background character somewhere in the middle of the conversation. Heck, he could even feel as though he was there just to be the perspective of scene.
"We don't mind, Captain Akune," Medaka said.
"Anyway, if guys decide to join, we definitely won't lose!" And with a final challenging grin, he left with the judo girls.
Zenkichi let out a breath of relief. Finally, they left.
"We really need to finish the budgeting," Medaka said sternly.
"Forget about council work for now, Medaka-chan. We're here to have fun. Hey, why don't we join this event?" Nabeshima suggested.
"As far as I can tell, it seemed a group must consist of three members, perfect!"
"Wait! Can't you think about this for a second?" At last, Zenkichi can finally enter the conversation.
"I approve of your suggestion, Secretary Nekomi."
"Hey! Are you girls listening to me?"
"Thanks Medaka-chan. But before that, why don't we check out the wave pool?"
"Hey, listen to me!"
"If you keep dillydallying, Zenkichi, we'll leave you!"
People should have told him it was "Ignore Zenkichi Day". At least he wouldn't have been crying inside as he followed the two beauties.
Oh, the things he does for Normality.
Even though the beginning of the day was far from ideal, Nekomi was glad she came.
Sunbathing, resting on a large inflatable floater she rented using Zenkichi's money — which he gave without his usual grumbling — she let the artificial waves gently rock her.
At that moment, she was glad she was alive.
The sound of splashing water was relaxing, the laughter and the incessant chatter from the other pool goers calming. To be honest, she was a tad bit worried the treated water would have some negative effects on her given her new obviously feline characteristics. She was expecting some crazy fear, or even just disgust. However, it seemed her worries were for naught as just like before her change, it was… well… it felt like normal water; the smell was a little unpleasant at first though.
Speaking of catty senses, she did manage to get a mild case of cat's tongue, not enough that she couldn't enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee, though comparatively of less temperature than she was used to.
Anyway, with such relaxing atmosphere, she decided to mull over some things she managed to gather of her recent situation — especially Zenkichi's initial distaste about the water park's theme. Normally, Nekomi would have pegged him as a guy who just did not like Lovecraft's work. However, her current state and Shiranui's monstrous behavior made her think twice.
Crazy, she had to admit. Was the conspiracy behind the so-called Cthulhu Mythos actually true? Just considering the idea made her cringe.
Hmm… do you remember what he said about fiction?
The voice had a point. What if this Lovecraft fiction was just some grand ruse? A cosmic joke done to humanity?
The voice hissed.
It's probably that bastard's work.
Huh? Nekomi was confused….
Don't worry, you'll know soon.
Whatever…. Going back to the topic, if those weird tales had some truth in them... Did that mean that Shiranui and that floating girl are actually monsters similar to those mentioned in the stories?
You only get that now? Wow, you're pretty slow.
Nekomi ignored the voice's insult as she turned over on her inflatable waterbed; her back now facing the sun's tanning light. She could not help snicker at the memory of Zenkichi's flustered face as he put sunscreen on both her and Medaka — a part of his 'Servant for the Day' punishment. Though it was not much of a punishment, it sure was fun for her. He was surprisingly good with massage, superb even if the almost moans she had almost never managed to suppress was any indicator. He probably perfected his skill through experience.
Thinking of the strawberry-blonde teenager of her special interests, she had to ask, was he also some sort of alien monstrosity? And if so, why wasn't she as bothered as much as she should be? She should be scared. She should be horrified at the prospect. However, she wasn't. It was as though she already knew from the beginning and did not care. Was common sense a part of what she lost that night? Or maybe it was her self-preservation instincts?
It's love, my dear.
Love huh… She wasn't a tsundere, so she suspected she was developing something close to the so-called feeling of love….
Nekomi felt her face flush.
Nope, it was not love… it was hate. It was his and her promise after all, a hate that would be beyond space, an eternal hate that would pass the test of time.
Wow…. Never knew you can be so romantic. I approve!
Nekomi decided to shift her thoughts before she fainted… like those strange paintings by Yuubaru for example. Yep, the paintings were definitely a good topic to think over while sunbathing.
Kuku, you can be so cute!
The paintings! Yes, the paintings sure were strange, like that painting of her friend, Medaka Kurokami. At first, she only thought about it as some weird artistic style the painter boy got from her friend's family name, after all, the Kanji of Kurokami (黒神) literally meant Black God; the voice's silence at that time also compounded on her initial conclusion. Still, curiosity struck her so he decided to try modeling.
Nekomi definitely enjoyed Zenkichi's very interesting reaction back then when she changed to an attire of her choice. It only meant that she definitely got it. Score one for Meister Nekomi!
The result was surprising, even horrifying. Was that what she was turning into? An otaku's wet dream? A freaking cat girl? Nekomi couldn't help but curse. No wonder she felt that incredible feeling when Zenkichi caressed her face. Damn it! And what's worse was she could not even hate him for it.
Oh? You can't hate him?
Scratch that, she made a mistake. She did hate him for it… Definitely hate him for it like no other hate she had experienced before.
Uhuh… And I'm not a disembodied voice in the head of a girl with an extreme case of both inferiority and superiority complex.
Nekomi ignored the voice.
Back to her overly fetishistic rendition on a canvas….
Don't fret on it… You'll know the meaning behind your painting soon. No need to rush things.
So she's turning into cat girl?
Kuku, I don't know if you can just be classified as a cat girl after all this.
But she would still be cat girl….
Won't you give it a rest? What's wrong with being a cat girl?
But cat girls… cutesy… otaku…. fetish… crazy repressed Japanese stuff.
I actually find this current trend in your country's culture to be quite interesting, especially that bastard's rendition in that one comedic light novel. Kuku, Nyaruko.
Wait! What? The voice actually met the actual Crawling Chaos? And here she thought it was just her MPD, Multiple Personality Disorder, self talking.
Tsk. Tsk. As I said, you can't rush things…. Take your time.
But seriously, the Crawling Chaos!
I'm not talking to you anymore.
Nekomi sighed…. What was happening to her? What kind of bizarre situation did she get herself into? She snickered, it was as though she was in a manga…. or a badly written fan fiction. Whatever the case, she was sure interesting days were coming.
Still, back to the paintings and ignoring the fetishistic connotations of her own rendition on the canvas, she had to admit, she did look good, especially with the tan — Zenkichi definitely liked it with his coughing and ragged breathing. It definitely gave her enough motivation to sunbathe hoping that she could replicate such skin complexion.
Then there was Shiranui and her own canvas rendition, which definitely boggled Nekomi's mind.
Only two words came to her the moment the painting was finished.
Seriously, Shiranui in the painting looked like a girl in a hentai… damn creepy and a bit… she had to admit… sexy. Does that mean that that monster girl was actually a tentacle monster? Woah! Zenkichi's strike zone is definitely out there… like galaxy-wide out there…. And if so, was Medaka actually some goddess of darkness… Ugh, just thinking about how scientifically incorrect she sounded was making her head hurt. Nekomi had enough for now… It's not like she cared anyway. For all she knew, she might actually be some extraterrestrial that had landed on this planet billion of years ago and was sealed by the crazy shenanigans of a tentacle monster until recently — kind 'a like Son Goku from Dragon Ball, though without the sealing and the tentacle monster bit.
Nekomi could not help but hysterically laugh aloud, scaring some nearby swimmers. Damn, she really was turning mad from all the crazy shit that's been happening recently in her life.
Yes, she definitely needed the R&R she was having.
She was just about to take a nice, light nap when she heard Medaka and Zenkichi's voices. Twisting her head bit, she looked at their general direction.
"Waaai, cute fish! Can I take it home, Zenkichi!? Pretty please!" Medaka squealed like a little girl, hugging the life off the pink mascot, who was clearly pushing its self away from the supposedly crazed girl.
"No, Medaka-chan, you can't take it home," Zenkichi said, obviously used to her purple-haired friend's unusual behavior — an undeniable proof for Nekomi that they had been friends since forever.
"But... but…" The Kurokami girl was visibly becoming upset, her red eyes wide and wet.
"I'm sorry Medaka-chan, but you can't. The management wouldn't let you."
"I'll call the management." Medaka's eyes narrowed at Zenkichi. "I'll force them to give it to me." She then turned to look at the mascot, who was still in her grasps trying with all its might to get away, with doe-like eyes. "It's just so cute!"
"That would be just wrong, Medaka-chan," Zenkichi sighed rubbing the back of his head.
"No! I'll take it home no matter what!" The purple-haired girl squeezed tighter, the mascot now waving his hands in panic.
Nekomi could not believe it. Did she actually see Medaka acting like a kid? Worse, was she actually going crazy?
Nekomi closed her eyes, pinching her own hand, and counted to ten before opening them again.
Yep, they were still there — Medaka acting like a spoiled kid while Zenkichi had the role of the burdened parent.
Nekomi sighed in relief, so it was actually happening. She was thankful for her confirmed sanity.
Still, such sight tickled her curiosity, so she decided to postpone her sunbathing and dove to the water below her, swimming towards Medaka and Zenkichi's general direction while pulling the inflatable waterbed. As soon as she got out of the wave pool, she left her large plastic floatation device beside a palm tree.
"Hey, what's going on, Zenkichi-kun?" Nekomi asked when she was near enough to the original Student Council duo with Medaka still happily hugging the lights out of one of the water park's mascots — a cutesy rendition of some fish-like human with large anime eyes and gaudy pink-colored skin.
"I'm glad you're here, Nabeshima-senpai. Can you convince her that mascots are not for take-out?"
"Huh? How about you explain to me first why she's going gaga for it?"
"Well… you see, ever since Medaka's been a child, she's always liked animals."
"Well, tragically, animals do not like her back, a sad one-sided love on her end. You could even say they're deathly afraid of her," Zenkichi said, remorseful.
"Wow, something like that could definitely scar a child."
"Don't worry, Medaka-chan's really strong."
"Then why is she obsessing about that mascot?" Nekomi asked, pointing at the seemingly out-of-character genius girl.
"Somehow, even knowing there's a person inside the costume, she decided to settle for the next best thing."
Wow, she never heard such a jump of logic before.
"Heavy… let me try convincing her?"
Nekomi neared her crazed-by-cuteness friend.
"Medaka-chan… can you calm down first and think of what you are doing?"
"Okay," Nekomi said as she returned to Zenkichi's side. "That's all I got"
"Oh well, how about we do something different."
Nekomi gestured for him to come closer.
After huddling a bit to plan the method of attack, Nekomi stepped aside while Zenkichi did his role.
"Hey, Medaka-chan, can't you just let go of the mascot?"
"There's a person inside, Medaka-chan."
As Zenkichi distracted Medaka, Nekomi began slowly edging her way to the planned location. Not long after, she saw her chance, so she leaped and pulled off the headpiece of the mascot's costume, revealing the person inside.
It was girl, a very familiar girl at that.
"Ah, thank you, kind costumer," the ponytailed girl said after she took a large breath in.
"No prob." Nekomi raised her hands in a placating manner at the ponytailed girl to tell her it was no big deal, though she did feel guilty with how stricken Medaka was with what she did.
"Sorry, Medaka-chan, but you have to let go."
However, the purple-haired president in the string bikini never listened, opting on staring at the ponytailed girl in the eyes. "Hmm, you're a student of Hakoniwa, aren't you?"
The girl visibly panicked. "Would you believe me if I said no?"
Medaka narrowed her eyes.
"I thought so…." The girl sighed. "Yes, I'm a student in the academy."
Finally, Medaka let go. "Sorry about that," the president said, her face returning to its usual stern expression. "Nevertheless, a student should apply permission for part-time work. Hakoniwa may value its student's independence above all else, but the academy is still responsible for its student's safety, thus, rules must be followed. Say can you tell me your name?"
"Ah, sorry, everything was a rush and I just got notified about this job yesterday after class, so I haven't had the time to submit the needed papers." The mascot girl bowed awkwardly due to her still wearing the mascot costume. "Umm… I'm Mogana Kikaijima. Please let me go. I promise I will do as you say."
"No, I should be the one sorry for disturbing your work. But next time, file your papers on time, okay?"
The girl known as Kikaijima sighed in relief. "Of course!"
Nekomi decided to interrupt Medaka, asking a question to satisfy her tingling curiosity. "Say, are you the same Kikaijima of the Swimming Club?"
"Yes!" The ponytailed girl said, a bit high-strung and guarded.
"Ohh, nice meeting you." Nekomi grinned. "I definitely admire your club's methods in winning competitions."
"Thank you.… Umm, can I go now? I still need to work."
"Sure, take care," Nekomi said, handing the headpiece of the ponytailed girl's costume.
"Thank you very much," Kikaijima said, bowing again before she ran to wherever she had to go.
"Woah, part-time work eh…. Maybe I should get some," the strawberry-blonde servant for the day said.
"No." Medaka gave her no-nonsense opinion on his sudden comment.
"I want you to focus on your work with the Student Council."
"Are you still miffed about the mascot, Medaka-chan?"
"Hmph!" the red-eyed president avoided his gaze, crossing her arm under her large chests.
Zenkichi sighed and turned his attention to Nekomi. "Nabeshima-senpai, you know that girl?"
"Well, in our Academy, there are three people who are known to be very pushy about money; she's one of them…." Pushy was being mild. The members of the Swimming Club of Hakoniwa were more like sharks in terms of their obsession with money, not that she found such materialistic motivation wrong. She could even say that she liked them. It also helped that one of the members was a classmate of hers.
"Uhuh… so she's obsessed with money…. And here I thought she's one of those destitute hard-working girls."
Here we go again. Sometimes she would ask herself why she was even putting up with him.
Kuku, like I said. It's love!
And here she thought the voice would not disturb her anymore.
You won't get rid of me that easily!
Nekomi decided to ignore it, opting to focus on a more important matter. "Okay, are you actually that stupid? Seriously, even I can't believe it."
"Never mind…. However, to correct your obviously contrived and idiotic comment, I tell you this. Yes, she's a genuine hard-working girl who has monetary problems…."
Zenkichi seemed to feel guilt from his insensitive comment from how he grimaced. Good, it seemed he still had a heart.
"I'm really sorry."
Nekomi shook her head. "It shouldn't be me you should be apologizing to."
"But enough of me guilt tripping you," she said shrugging as she turned to face the still fuming Medaka Kurokami, "say Medaka-chan. Want to check out that huge slide?"
"Yup, it's one of those things friends do."
"Shut it, Zenkichi-kun. I'm talking here."
Zenkichi clamped his mouth shut.
"So… want to go?" Nekomi added.
"Nice! Hey Zenkichi-kun, could you return the waterbed back to the rental house?"
"And please don't be late."
"It is as you say, Mistress Nabeshima."
Therefore, with a slumped back, he took the waterbed and went to do what he was told. Nekomi definitely liked it when he's obedient. Maybe she should engineer a situation for him to be punished again. Yep, that's definitely something she would want to do in the near future.
However, she had a humungous slide to conquer first, so she took Medaka's hand, pulling the purple-haired girl with a smile.
"Let's go, Medaka-chan!"
The slide was imposing.
Boasting a height of 170 feet, approximately 52 meters, simply but aptly named "The Twisting Drop" created a looming shadow as the sun slowly rose to its height for the coming noon. However, its design was anything but simple. Like its name, the slide was twisting, the large and brightly multi-colored tube, of length thrice its height, swerving to almost architectural impossibilities, with metallic beams supporting the serpentine structure, which created an avant-garde symmetry.
It was a challenge, a ride not for the faint of heart.
Medaka heard Nekomi whistle in appreciation as the green-haired secretary looked up the tall structure, trying to discern the top. "Now that's what I call a slide. As expected of the Kurokami Zaibatsu."
It was perfect, much to Medaka's delight.
Thankfully, even though the line was long, the wait was short — owing to how fast a ride ends. Zenkichi even arrived right on time, her earlier anger on him subsiding for the upcoming thrill of the ride. She hoped the water slide lived up to its looks.
The ride up the elevator only added to the excitement, the transparent walls letting them see how large the water park really was. They could even see a humongous structure covered in tarpaulin, much larger than the slide they were planning on conquering.
Medaka grinned. The structure might be a part of the event Akune was talking about earlier. She decided, the three of them would enter the event and win it.
With a rhythmic chime the elevator ride ended, the summer winds barraging them as soon as the transparent door opened. She was glad for the domed roof, as even their sunscreens would not protect them from the sun's rays at such height.
"Wow, we sure are high up," Nekomi said in obvious delight, walking towards the edge of the platform just behind the safety bars, taking in the amazing view at such height. She then turned to Zenkichi, grinning, "Neh, Zenkichi-kun, would you survive if you fall from this height?"
Zenkichi shook his head frantically, his eyes wide in fear. "I don't think anybody would survive this fall, especially not the normal me."
Her secretary only smiled knowingly.
Medaka doubted the senior actually meant what she said it. However, why did her green-haired friend ask such a question anyway?
Still, Medaka let that particular train of thought rest for the time being as she ushered the two to hurry up and join her in the inflatable boat. Of course, she was up front so she could experience the utmost rush. After strapping themselves for safety and some words from the worker assigned to the ride, the fun began.
Medaka definitely enjoyed it, squealing in delight. She even enjoyed Nabeshima's raucous laughter and Zenkichi's shrieks. In other words, the ride went along the lines of:
"Aggh! Please make it stoooop!"
"Crap, crap, craaaap! Why didn't I stay asleep!?"
"This is fun!"
"This is the best ever!"
"Damn you, Gods of Earth! A fuck I bit my tongue~aaaaa!"
"Stop talking nonsense Zenkichi and just enjoy the rideeeee!"
"No! I'm sorry! Please, anyone, help meeee!"
"Kuku kaka kahahahaha!"
"Nabeshima, you're laughing at my ear! Urk… stop choking me!"
Almost a minute later, the ride finally reached its destination at a large pool, landing on the water that splashed wildly. The strawberry-blonde was reduced to a crying mess as he cried for his mother, while her secretary continued her crazed laugh.
Nekomi sure was right; a water slide with friends was definitely a lot of fun.
"I hate that slide," Zenkichi grumbled, slumping on a circular table in a tropics-themed restaurant inside the water park, his plate of yakisoba untouched. In front of him were the two thrill-seeking monsters enjoying their respective orders — Nabeshima with her fish and chips and Medaka with one of everything the establishment could offer.
"Stop complaining already. We heard you, like, a hundred times before we came here."
"No. I want you to know my pain."
Seriously, if he weren't who he was, he would have already been dead with how she choked the life out of him.
"Hey, it wasn't like that. You should know; girl got excited and held on to the closest thing she could hold on for reassurance. It's a standard in such situations."
"Then why my neck?"
"I already said I'm sorry."
Zenkichi sighed, closing his eyes as he rubbed his forehead, his anger weakening with how sincerely sorry the green-haired girl looked. Ugh, why was he so damn weak against girls?
"Are you actually not feeling well, Zenkichi?"
"What do you think?" he absent-mindedly said in irritation, not realizing that the one who he said it to was his childhood friend.
"Ah…. I apologize."
Zenkichi widened his eyes and saw a subdued purple-haired superwoman. "Ah, wait I'm not angry with you, Medaka-chan."
He nodded, earning him a beaming smile from her.
"Ehhh…. What about me, Zenkichi-kun?"
He sighed for the umpteenth time that day. "Apology accepted."
Nabeshima grinned, which then got wider. "Hey, open your mouth."
"Just open it."
"Okay." He did as she said, remembering his punishment of subservience.
The catty secretary then took a deep-fried potato fry, saying, "Here goes," and threw it into his wide-open mouth.
Zenkichi munched on the potato goodness. "What was that?"
"Don't know, just wanted to do it. You like it?"
"Yeah." He never elaborated… but he liked that she fed him and couldn't care about the flavor of the French fry itself. However, he could not help but feel as though he was pet being fed by his owner.
Medaka unceremoniously plunged a greasy fried chicken leg into his mouth.
"You like it, Zenkichi?"
"Urmphhh, prmmmph pff urk." Nope, he did not like it one bit. Thankfully, for him, his mouth was stuffed with a fried fowl leg so his reflex complaint was unintelligible. He did an a-ok sign.
Munching on the oily food and pulling out the bone from his mouth, he finally let out sigh of relief. "What was that?"
"I'm following the lead of Secretary Nekomi."
Nabeshima stuffed his mouth with a handful of fried potatoes.
After gulping the mouthful, he asked, "Are you two bullying me or something?"
"What? You should be happy two girls are feeding you," Nabeshima answered raising an eyebrow.
He never finished as he saw Medaka's sad look. "So you don't like it?"
Zenkichi gulped his own saliva, steeling himself. Like they say, a man's got to do what a man's got to do, so he gave a strained smiled and said, "Of course I do. Keep them coming!" giving a thumbs up.
Thus, Zenkichi was hospitalized for overeating…, which would have happened if not for the timely arrival of his old rival, Kouki Akune.
"I seriously hate you, Zenkichi."
Zenkichi never thought he would be so happy of Akune's presence. However, here he was, joyful when he heard the blonde's voice, for it also halted his suffering in the hands of the catty secretary and the dark president.
Zenkichi reached out his hand and pleadingly looked into his eyes, unable to talk with the amount of food in his mouth
However, instead of going about how the blonde wanted his place, Akune's anger only morphed into a smirk when the current Judo Captain realized his state. "But I think you deserve this reward, your work in the council is hard after all."
He cursed inwardly, unable to say anything, so he opted on raising his middle finger at the smirking male.
"Zenkichi! You shouldn't do such a dirty sign," Medaka said, reminiscent of his mother's lecture voice.
Zenkichi sighed and relented, dropping the middle finger as he clenched his hand into a fist.
Akune's smirk only got wider, deciding to ignore him as the bastard began talking with the girls.
Damn that bastard blonde!
"Where's Tanigawa-chan and Hoshizumi-chan?" Nabeshima asked as she finished her fried fish.
"They're getting ready. So you guys going to join the event?"
"Yes." Medaka grinned. "Do your best, Junior Akune. I'm looking forward to competing against you."
"As expected of Medaka-san. Anyway, so have you guys tried the "The Twisting Drop" yet?"
"Yep, it sure was awesome."
"I enjoyed it immensely."
His eye-path-less secretary and purple-haired president said at the same time while he could only utter a single "Ugh," after he finally managed to down the stuffing in his mouth.
"Hoo, so even Medaka-san enjoyed it…."
"Haven't you tried it yet?" Nabeshima asked.
"Not yet… Ringo-san is afraid of heights. Though I'm planning to, next time I come here."
"I hope she'll be okay, because I think one of the events would involve that large covered structure there," Medaka said, worried.
"Really? Hmm…. Now that's a problem.…" Akune said as his rubbed his chin, mulling over the sudden problem.
"Just let her decide," Nabeshima said, waving her hand noncommittally.
The blonde nodded. "I think I'll do that."
Suddenly, a familiar chime began to play all over the water park, halting their conversation. A very pleasant and familiar voice then began to reverberate all over the place, shortly stopping the activities of the pool goers.
"Good afternoon, dear costumers. This is an announcement. The Happy Cthully Water Park Grand Opening Day Event will be starting. Again, the Happy Cthully Water Park Grand Opening Day Event will be starting. For contestants, gather at the Water Park's General Assembly Stage for registration. Please be guided accordingly. That's all. Have a good day."
"Well, see you there." With that last remark, Akune left.
"C'mon guys, let's go," The green-haired senior urged, standing from her seat at the same time as Medaka.
"C-can I not come?" Zenkichi asked. Just the thought of experiencing something similar to that crazy slide made him hesitate.
"No," both girls said at the same time.
"I thought so."
Incessant chatter, curios looks, laughter and murmurs, people were crowding in front of the stage. How troublesome.
People of different age groups gathered, some still lining up for registration. Men and women, children, teenagers, and grown-ups all looking at her direction, seemingly waiting for a gospel that would save them from their meaningless live.
Ah, such a bother.
Why was she doing this again?
How she wanted to cut up something… anything….
Maybe she could do a comedy skit… nah, not worth it.
Namanie tossed her microphone once, catching it as it fell into her hand. The job was like tossing an object; after reaching the top, it can only go down.
If not for Zenkichi, it would have been a droll experience.
Speaking of the strawberry-blonde, she searched for him within the crowd. She spied him trying his hardest to be as inconspicuous as possible, as he stood amongst the crowd with the rest of the Hakoniwa Student Council, the males around them glaring at him. Namanie felt a small twitch on her lips.
She ignored the two girls, completely focused on Zenkichi, who was still doing his best on avoiding the hateful glares. Then suddenly, he looked at her and smiled. She blushed, glad that her green bikini was doing its job. Maybe the event wasn't that bothersome.
Noticing her fiancé's actions, the Kurokami heir and the supposed cat girl narrowed their eyes suspiciously at her.
Hmm, why were those two angry with her…?
With a small intake of air — seeing as the registration was finally finished — she began.
Namanie checked her microphone, tapping the spherical top. As she heard the echoing rhythmic taps from the large speaker behind her, she nodded, satisfied. She turned it off.
"Hey, game loli, everything ready?"
"Don't call me loli, Namanie, and yes, I'm ready," her fellow fiancé, who was wearing a flowery and cute one-piece swimsuit with a skirt, said as she climbed up the stage, turning her microphone on. She then gestured at the workers, who were in-charge of the electronics, near the stage. Not a second later, the gigantic LED screen behind them turned on, showing the both of them standing on the stage.
Namanie turned her own microphone on.
"Good afternoon, everyone. I am Namanie Nienami of Ariake Fishing Company and welcome to Ruki—"
"How many times do I have to tell you that 'Happy Cthully Water Park' is the freaking name of this freaking place!?"
"Uh, Happy Cthully Water Park…" she coughed, "the place where cosmic horror and watery fun join forces for all your summer needs," her almost monotone voice echoed. The audience just stared at her. She did not care.
The Momozono heir clicked her tongue in irritation, but then shook her head as she began to grin. She then began to talk with all the fanfare that she could, which was… being her… a lot. "And I am Momo Momozono of Genzou Gaming Industries. With our opening day, we've concocted an event that would leave you mad enough to praise the name of Cthulhu!"
The crowd cheered.
As expected, the small illusionist girl definitely knew how to rile up an audience.
"Now let me explain," Namanie began with her part. "There will be three events to determine the winner; the team that will have the most points in the end will bring home the reward. Of course, the losers should not fret, as there are also prizes for the groups in the second and third places while the rest will have consolation prizes.
"However, let me tell you first the general rules for the three events. I warn you, these rules are a must so going against them will mean disqualification for your team. First, as you already know, only three members per group. Children below twelve aren't allowed. Second, you must all wear floaters. We of the Cthully Water Park value your safety utmost. That's all."
"Well, did you guys get it!?" Momo took over.
The crowd roared in approval, excited.
"Good, because we won't repeat it again."
The crowd roared again… how stupid.
"Well then, let's begin."
Both Namanie and Momo turned around to look at the humungous screen, which was now showing a gigantic wave pool devoid of people. The large screen then switched to a cartoon that explained the first event, her small business partner taking up the role as the narrator to explain the rules.
"The first event will be a Four Legged Race! As you can see, this will be a hard event. We're not going to give out ten million yen just like that. You guys have to work hard for it! As you people should have guessed, this event will be a simple race, however, the three people in the group will have their legs tied up together to mimic the event's name and swim this Olympic-sized pool against the artificial current!
"Of course, the team who will finish the fastest will receive a full hundred; with subsequent placers receiving a deduction of ten points. Yes, only ten teams will receive any points, the others will receive nothing. In addition, the teams that can't even finish the course will be disqualified for the whole event. Clear?"
As expected of the Momozono heir, there were no complaints from the audience and would-be contestants, as their roars of approval could attest.
With that all said and done, Namanie took over. "With the explanation of the first event finished, I ask the contestant to please be guided by our employees to the pool showed on the screen. To those who will only watch, there will be free drinks. I hope you all enjoy the event."
At last, she was done… too bad there was more.
"You suck at this," Momo commented the moment they left the stage.
After they handed over the microphone to the workers, both of them then began the walk towards the event area.
"Really? I thought I did an excellent job out there."
"Talking lackadaisically is not an excellent job in my book."
"It is in mine."
"Cheeky fish face." Momo sighed. "And when you have such a good voice..."
"This and that are different."
"Well, at least you're useful as eye candy."
"I have a 'look but no touch' policy."
"Uhuh… you do know we still have two events, adding to that, we also have to do a commentary of each event too, right?"
"Ah, what a pain in the ass."
"Just do your job."
"Don't forget why we are doing this." The small girl in the mop cap narrowed her baggy eyes at her.
"I came here for the money."
"Well I'll give you that, but you know what I'm talking about."
"You know? I don't care anymore. Do whatever you want…. Just don't botch the job."
Of course, she wouldn't. It was as important to Namanie as to the Momozono heir walking beside her. Though…
"I still think we're overdoing things…."
"We've discussed this already; we must do this to avoid future complications with the zaibatsu. The others have already done their part."
"I know… I know…."
Ah, how she wanted to decapitate something.
Zenkichi was twitching, the softness… paralyzing.
However, even with his addled senses, he still had to admit that, yes, Akune was right. Many students from Hakoniwa joined the event, with the majority being familiar faces from the time he was surveying clubs. The said clubs had representatives that numbered from a group to four groups of three each — throwing numbers was definitely a valid strategy in his book.
Still, the implications were worrying. They sure need to finish the budgeting of club funds soon.
"Stop squirming, Zenkichi-kun."
"It's hard to tie our legs together if you keep moving, Zenkichi."
However, even though he was thinking hard about the council's problem, the feeling of being in marshmallow heaven kept him from divining a solution, the sensation of blood rushing to key parts of his anatomy distracting him. The soft feeling was so overwhelming that he could not even feel the coarse band straps his teammates were attaching to his ankles on both his legs, tying them to their respective smooth and very female counterparts.
"There, I'm finished."
Medaka and Nabeshima stood up at the same time.
"Let's try walking."
"Then in the count of three. One, two, three."
With Zenkichi still in his marshmallow-induced catatonia, the sudden movements made him fall back first on the floor.
"Ow…?" he reflexively said, not even feeling the pain.
"Presence of mind, Zenkichi-kun," Nabeshima said, smiling knowingly while she and Medaka offered their hands to help him stand up.
He gladly took them. "Sorry."
"Let's try again," his purple-haired childhood friend said.
With grunts of affirmation from him and the green-haired secretary, they began to walk, his left and right hands clinging to Nabeshima and Medaka's respective waists while they themselves clung to him, slowly at first until they got the rhythm — which was quite easy to his surprise. He could feel the glares around him intensifying. However, he was too much into his cloud nine to even care.
"You're enjoying this too much, Zenkichi-kun," Nabeshima suddenly said, grinning with red cheeks while her eyes narrowed. Toned and firm, with a hint of feminine softness… very sports oriented.
"What makes you think that, Nabeshima-senpai?"
"Your expression is… unusual." Medaka said, avoiding his gaze, her face flushed. It was an effective combination of firmness and suppleness, as expected.
"What Medaka-chan's trying to say is… well… you have a very creepy smile on your face."
"Huh?" Creepy? What was Nabeshima talking about? Hmm, both were smooth, with a hint of muscle, enough to define training. However, even if both were great, he was still biased to his childhood friend.
"You know… the ones you usually see on molesters."
"Really? What makes you say that?" Zenkichi was utterly confused. Not that the green-haired secretary was lacking… it was just… his childhood friend was just perfect.
"Well, there's the way you're rubbing your hands all over our stomachs."
"You don't like it?" He said, not really noticing the connotation of what he asked.
"Ah… I don't dislike it…." Medaka answered. Yep, that's why she was his childhood friend… the moments when she acted cute made all the troublesome experience worth it.
"Regardless if we like what you are doing or not, we're still in public… furthermore, we still have an event to win."
"Uhuh…" Then again, perfection can be quite dull sometimes… Yep, there was no one better; both were perfect in different ways.
Ah, such enlightenment…. Such feeling of bliss was better than the very truth of the Multiverse, better than the pinnacle of Buddhism.
Nabeshima sighed. "Do you want another mauling?"
Zenkichi's eyes widened, his enlightenment gone with the wind. "M-mauling… wait… no!" He let go of their waists, raising his hands like a wanted criminal in the process. "Please… I'm sorry… I was not myself! Blame it on hormones!"
"Kuku… do you really think such a flimsy excuse will work on me?" The girl in the black sporty two-piece bikini raised her one hand threateningly. She then snapped her fingers, startling him. "However, that will do for now, we still have a race to win."
"Focus, Zenkichi." The girl in the white string bikini made a succinct comment, her flushed expression replaced with her usual stern façade.
He nodded vigorously, hiding his hands behind his back.
"Pfft, how pathetic!" someone said, earning their attention. It was a familiar tanned blonde with a vicious grin. Beside him were the mascot girl and the very captain of the Swimming Club. "With that kind of attitude, I doubt you guys would be a challenge."
"Oh? If it isn't the girl in the mascot costume from earlier. You're also competing?" Medaka said, ignoring the blonde as she focused on the ponytailed girl.
However, the mascot girl, who was now wearing a black one-piece Speedo, ignored his childhood friend, her earlier embarrassed expression replaced with a very cold and calculating look.
"Oh? Are you angry at what I did earlier? For what it's worth, I apologize."
The tanned blonde stepped up front of the group, hiding the mascot girl behind him, demonstrating how synchronized the three were as their ankles where already tied to each other. "Oh, so you were the guys that gave our kouhai trouble earlier, huh. You should pay her for the damages."
"Wait…," Nabeshima said, getting in between the blonde and Medaka, Zenkichi moving accordingly to give the green-haired secretary a bit of freedom. "Should we talk about this more… and I don't think Medaka-chan's actions with..."
"Mogana Kikaijima," the girl with the ponytailed girl suddenly said.
"Thank you, Kikaijima-chan. Anyway, I don't think my friend's earlier actions constitute to such drastic compensation."
"Huh? And how would you know that? You're not the one working."
"Calm down, Tanegashima." The familiar captain of the Swimming club finally stepped forward in the brewing argument, placing his hand on the tanned guy's shoulders. He then gave Nabeshima a friendly smile. "I'm sorry if he came to forceful, Nabeshima-san. He's really protective of Kikaijima."
"Nah… it's alright, Yakushima-kun."
"However, he still has a point. A monetary compensation will be appropriate for the moral damages the President had done to my precious kohai."
Nabeshima grinned. "Kuku… you guys are really obsessed with money. I understand."
"Hmm… I'm glad we see eye-to-eye. That would be about thirty-thousand yen."
"Hmm, so you want me to pay for the supposed damages I've done to Freshman Kikaijima. That can be arranged," Medaka said, understanding the situation.
"I'm glad we have a reasonable Student Council President."
Medaka grinned challengingly. "How about we make this a challenge in accordance to the ongoing event? If your group wins, I'll pay triple of the supposed amount you want me to pay, and if I win, I won't pay a single yen and your club will owe me a favor."
"Triple eh…" Yakushima rubbed his goatee.
"Hyaha, are you stupid? We're the famous scholarship students of the Swimming Club! Challenging us in this event is just plain stupidity," Tanegashima said after a burst of mocking laughter.
However, the purple-haired girl was undaunted, still grinning. "You call it stupidity, I call it fun."
"We accept," Kikaijima answered for their group.
"Excellent." Medaka widened her grin.
Nabeshima sighed. "Well, our leader has spoken." She then smiled, reminiscent of the Cheshire cat. "It is a challenge."
"Wait, what about my opinion?" Zenkichi asked, deciding to get a much-needed dialogue. It was his POV after all.
Both council girls said at the same time.
Zenkichi could definitely feel it… the dread of his upcoming suffering.
Sitting on a chair where her feet could not reach the ground, resting her arms on a cheap table with a microphone in front, and a cheap portable open tarpaulin tent shielding her from the sun's rays — it was a recipe for a usual, tiring job for Momo Momozono. Add to the mix a girl who could not even bother to put effort on her current job… she decided to sigh.
She may not look like it, but she values professionalism as much as that Kanaino girl does. Thus, as her professionalism demanded — even if Namanie was right at how boring the job was — she gave it her all.
Therefore, she grinned, and spoke as cheery as possible with her hoarse voice. "Again, good afternoon everybody, this is Momo Momozono of Genzou Gaming Industries as your commentator for today. With me is Namanie Nienami of the Ariake Fishing Company."
"Hello," the redhead beside her spoke in a bored monotone, grooming her nails with a blade she probably pulled out from under her skirt.
It was irritating, but again, it was expected. Namanie was always like that ever since she first met her.
"Thank you for that short greeting, Namanie. Anyway, we are here in Happy Cthully Water Park's Olympic Size wave fool for the first event of the day."
"In other words, it's a pool for pussies."
"Not everyone is as talented in swimming as you, Namanie."
Momo shook her head; at least fish face was entertaining in her own way.
"Why do we have an Olympic size wave pool anyway?" the redhead suddenly asked.
She grinned. "Why can't we?"
"Anyway, before we start, we would like to endorse a few establishments. To those who aren't in the know, watch out for the opening of the new Hakoniwa Super Mall — a place where your dreams come true! In addition, Hakoniwa General Hospital is now spanking new, so if you've got some health problems or worse, if you've got the dreaded Japanese Cold, check it out! This is a part of Kurokami Group's plan of rapid economization of the surrounding lands of the Academy. Remember! Kurokami Group Cares!
"Bah, too much work."
"Quite." Momo nodded in understanding at her partner's comment. "With that done, let's get back to the event, it seems the contestants have now finished lining up for the race. I'm sure it's hard to keep their selves floating."
Momo could also notice Zenkichi looking very nervous, sandwiched by his female compatriots in the Student Council. She should be jealous, but to be honest, she couldn't. Being part of a supposed harem only made such feelings hypocritical. It's not like she wasn't receiving any love from him… even with her small stature….
She groaned… it was not a time for such introspection. She had a job to do.
"Is it really that hard? They still have their floaters," Namanie said beside her as she juggled several knives with a very bored expression.
It was right on cue.
"Definitely! Especially for the person who will be in the center of the trio, as he must consider both of his partners' movements and synchronize himself with two entirely different people. And even with the floaters, such feat is still a lot of trouble."
"I tried synchronizing with someone special once. It felt really good."
Okay, that definitely came out of nowhere….
"I definitely don't want to hear that."
Seriously, they were in public, in microphones no less!
"What? Did I say something?"
"You're baiting me aren't you?"
"I really hate you sometimes."
Momo grumbled. Still, she shook herself from her brewing irritation.
"However, don't worry folks; we have a team of lifeguards all over the pool, so our contestants' safety is assured!"
"Pussies, I tell you."
She ignored the redhead. "Back to the race, it seems a lot of people quit already…. Hehe, too bad for them. Therefore, that leaves us with, huh… still a lot… And get this, most of them are students from Hakoniwa Academy, as expected of the prestigious high school! We have the famous Judo Club, the Swimming Club, the Kendo Club, the Athletics Club and even the Student Council to name a few."
"Wow… that's very specific of you, Momo."
"Not that I can't blame you."
Of course she couldn't, it was advertisement after all.
"So who do you think will win?"
"Why are you asking me? I'm not a Kugurugi."
"It's the principle behind it, fish face."
"Ignoring my idiotic partner, it seems our referee is now starting the race."
The loud sound of the signal gun firing echoed.
"A~nd there goes the race… Wow, we sure are having a competition here, especially with the Swimming Club and the Student Council, as both are actually swimming to the other end of the pool, a close to impossible feat with the artificial current and the tied-up legs! Look at how the Swimming Club glides through the water! For all I know, these three are actually part fish!"
Hoh, it seems Namanie's part-timers weren't all talk after all. Momo grinned. Now the water park would not be dishing out ten million yen for those hopeless losers.
"They are part of the Hakoniwa's Swimming Club after all." The said girl nodded proudly beside her.
Then there was the Kurokami heir's group.
"However, what the student council team was doing was even more astonishing! Hilarious even! The two girls of the team are swimming for all their worth without care, not even doing the synchronizing thing, crashing to the waves like a truck as they dragged their only male member screaming!"
"Please, gurk!… make… puwa!… it… gah!... stop!" Zenkichi's screams echoed his female teammates dragged him on his back, the waves crashing mercilessly into his flailing body.
It still surprised her how his fiancé would go to such lengths to keep up with his self-imposed illusion…. Well, at least it was fun to watch.
"How merciless! I'm sure the guys who were glaring at him earlier are now satisfied."
Satisfied, more like scared.
"However, with the guy being a dead weight, the student council is now at a disadvantage."
"Swimming in synchronicity while dragging a body against the waves is extremely hard unless you're me."
Momo glared at Namanie. "Enough bragging already! We already heard enough of your—" However, her verbal smack down was interrupted by the roar from the audience. "Well, well, well…. It seems we have a winner folks. Unsurprisingly, the swimming club won the first event with the Student Council a close second. Both were then followed by the Judo Club and more."
"Well, that ends our first event. Let us now tally the results. Swimming Club now has a hundred points, the Student Council group now has ninety points, the Judo Club eighty points, and—"
Momo began to tally points… work, work.
Zenkichi spat out pool water, trying his best to get rid of the taste of chlorine in his mouth, his hand on his knees. His breathing was ragged, his voice hoarse from all the screaming.
"I don't want to do that ever again," he managed to let out.
"Man, we only got second place."
"Even Zenkichi's sacrifice wasn't enough."
Nabeshima and Medaka said respectively, watching a nearby television for the current score tally.
"I really want to hate you girls."
"But you won't. Take this as payment for the groping you did earlier."
Ah, so it ends up to that, huh. Zenkichi let out a groan. He already said he was sorry. But nope, it wasn't enough. They had to drag him across 50 meters of pool water against the artificial currents, almost drowning him in the process. It was worse than that Water Cure torture.
Remember kiddies, don't suddenly grope your female companions unless they're your wife or something, or else, you might end up as a bloated corpse.
"Hyaha! Take that, losers!" the tanned blonde taunted as he approached them with his club mates in tow.
"Hey, we're not done yet. There's still two events," Nabeshima said, her eyes twitching.
"And what makes you think you guys will win the next two?"
"Because if all the events are in favor of your team, the crowd will get suspicious," Medaka answered, surprisingly sharp.
"That's a tall accusation you have there…" the senior with the goatee said with a raised eyebrow.
"It's obvious from the start; especially since you three are working in this water park."
"Correct." Yakushima grinned. "Not that we're hiding it. But we're not only good in swimming, you know."
"We'll do anything if there's money! We laugh for a yen, and die for one too!" Tanegashima added, making his childhood friend's eyes narrow.
"Die for a yen? What poppycock. We're not stupid, what you did back there was dangerous. A single mistake from any one of you would've been catastrophic to your group."
"Is that a pot calling a kettle black? Don't be a hypocrite."
"Zenkichi's special… he won't be harmed by something like that," Nabeshima defended.
"Regardless… you don't have enough moral ground to tell us what we must do."
"Moral ground? Who needs such thing when I see something inherently wrong! Laughing for a yen? Dying for a yen? It doesn't make sense! I tell you one truth I have discovered on this world. In the end, no amount of money in the world will help you in finding true happiness! Remember this; I will reform you three from such self-destructive thoughts by the end of this event!"
The three were flabbergasted, mouths open from such declaration from Medaka Kurokami's [Proof of One's Worth #1: Preaching to the Lesser Mortals]. Then suddenly, the girl known as Mogana Kikaijima launched herself towards his childhood friend, her face distorted by hate and rage. If not for the ponytailed girl's companions restraining her, there would have been a fight.
"Wrong? Wrong!? It's you who's wrong! How can you understand anyway? You're a Kurokami! A real-life princess! Do you think you'll understand us who are crawling on the ground? Huh, do you!? Well damn you! I'll take that reform crap of yours and shove it down your naïve throat!"
"Kikaijima, calm down," Yakushima said, shaking his head, trying his best to calm the enraged ponytailed girl, of which he succeeded. He then turned to glare at Medaka. "Let's cut this talk short. See you in the next event."
The trio then left for the next event, but not before an intense glare from the tanned blonde.
There was a long silence before Medaka decided to break it.
"I'm not wrong. Right, Zenkichi?"
"No, you're not, Medaka-chan."
"It's just a case of a 'grass is greener on the other side.' To be honest, I also find their obsession for money to be quite abnormal," the green-haired secretary said, shaking her head.
"I'm sure there's a very deep reason they're like that."
"Well, I did hear some rumors about the Kikaijima girl—"
"Sorry, Secretary Nekomi, but I don't want to hear it. Regardless of her circumstances, I must correct their way thinking."
"Hmm… oh well. I'm in. I'm sure your planning something more than beating them." Nabeshima grinned, hands on the back of her head.
"I'll do my best to help you too, Medaka-chan," Zenkichi said. She wasn't wrong, this he was confident of. Truth be told, he doesn't care about the Swimming Clubs circumstances.
They were inconsequential.
"Thank you," Medaka smiled.
At that moment, his heart skipped a beat.
The loud whirling of the helicopter blades was annoying; though it was not loud enough to hinder them in their job. The wide doors were open on their left and right, the wind blowing harshly that Momo decided to exchange her usual mop cap with a vintage World War II M1 helmet.
The table, chairs, and a television were screwed stuck on the metal floor, their microphones held strong on the table with clamps, and of course, the cameraman was with them, nervously broadcasting her and Namanie's faces all over the water park — it was an unusual but also a welcome set up, far from the monotony her life usually was. Her small body was also buckled down on the chair, same with her redhead companion.
The helicopter they were on was circling over the large structure covered in tarpaulin, where several other helicopters hovered with metallic ropes clamped on the synthetics cover's key parts ready for their signal.
"Hello again, everybody."
"Thank you, Namanie, for that short and very stereotypical greeting. We welcome you to the next event of Happy Cthully Water Park's Grand Opening Day. Anyway, before we begin, I'm sure you guys are curious as to what's behind the large tarpaulin. Well… the wait is over!" She saw the worker behind the camera move the contraption, now filming several helicopters rising, carrying with them the large tarpaulin, to unveil the water park's greatest attraction. "I present to you, guys and girls, the longest, the largest, and the tallest waterslide in the world, the 'Mountain of Madness!'"
Namanie whistled. "That's a really awesome slide…."
Momo was also impressed, as expected of the zaibatsu. The structure was looming, humungous, even with modern day standards. It was even large enough to cover a quarter of the water park with its shadow, and the water park was as large as a bustling German town.
"See? Even my droll companion is impressed!" She then began to read the words flashed on the television screen. "Boasting a height of two hundred meters, a length of a kilometer, with ten tubes branching into more for unlimited fun, and twisting to almost impossible shapes, it's the craziest, the most awesome, and the most expensive water slide ever made by man!"
"…I definitely want to try that."
"Yup, it sure had that kind of effect. Furthermore, it's been clocked that a ride will reach up to eighty kilometers per hour with the rider experiencing up to two-point-five G's. That's like forty-five seconds of pure unadulterated fun!"
"…I sure want to get some of that."
"It's definitely the best. Also, it is where our next event will happen!"
"Damn." Suddenly, the Nienami heir's hands were on her shoulders, the redhead's lazy eyes boring into hers. "Can I join?" She was uncharacteristically serious for once that day.
Momo grinned. Too bad for the redhead.
She shook her head at how her fellow commentator-for-the-day acted.
"Maybe after everything, we could try it."
With that finished, Momo snapped her fingers, earning the cameraman's attention, making him turn back the camera towards them.
"Now you people might be curious. What will be the event?" She paused for dramatic effect. "It's the 'Initial D Tofu Challenge!' Don't worry folks; we paid for copyright! Anyway, the next event will be each group experiencing the awesomeness that is the 'Mountain of Madness'."
Momo then cupped her hand to her ears, nodding, acting as though she was hearing the disappointed groans of the audience.
"What? Lame you say?"
"But there's more! In relation to the event's namesake, each group will be carrying a cup of water with a cube of tofu inside. Whoever has the least damaged tofu after the ride will be the winner. Yep, you've got that right. It's to mimic the said series' rush of keeping the tofu fresh as they go down the extreme ride!"
"Isn't it easier since they're not driving a souped up Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86?" Namanie asked. "They could focus more on keeping the tofu safe."
"Haha, of course not! With how much twists and turns the slide has, and going at high speeds against heavy G's, it's almost impossible!"
"Huh… if you say so."
"And to make things even more interesting, any group that won't have any tofu left in their cup won't be entering the next event. Ahahaha!"
"If it's impossible, why are we even doing this?"
"Like I said, 'almost impossible', there still a very small chance a group would succeed in the end."
"Hmm… and if no one succeeds?"
"Then move on to the next event."
"Well… it's ten million after all, that's not some chump change you would give to a beggar."
"Exactly…." Then she noticed something on the television screen. It was a blonde male bowing to the worker assigned as the judge while a small sad-looking girl and a taller smiling girl, who was patting the smaller girl in the head, stood behind him. "Hooh, it seems a group decided to quit even before they began…. I don't know exactly the reason behind such decision but it seems the group consisting of Judo Club members is now out of the race!" Curious, Momo turned to her companion and said, "Say, do we have some field interviewers?"
"Ahhh…. Let's see…" Namanie said, pulling out a tablet. After sliding and pressing her fingers a couple of times, she shook her head. "Nope."
"Nope…. If we did have some, we would not be here commentating."
Namanie had a point. Sometimes Momo wondered how a group of companies capable of building such a modern wonder wouldn't have the resources to hire an actual media crew to do the commentating….
Then again, the Kurokami Zaibatsu was unconventional enough to do just that.
"Oh well, the mystery as to why why such a promising team quit will continue to remain a mystery.…"
Too bad indeed.
"Anyway, there are still a lot of teams left. Special mention to the Swimming Club team and the Student Council team, who both showed unparalleled performances in the first event."
Suddenly, her companion nudged her to turn her attention towards the television. "Hey, they're starting."
"Oh, it seems the first batch of contestants had already arrived at the top. And among the first to try the monster slide is a group of delinquent looking teenagers… huh… it turned out they're part of the newly reformed Kendo Club."
"Bunch of daredevils from what I could see."
In addition, from what she could tell, those numb-skulls definitely heard her, particularly with how a guy with a scar on his face acted.
"Did he just give us the middle finger?"
"Sure did, quite amusing really."
Momo grunted at such juvenile act.
"Uhuh… too bad I won't fall for such stupid act. Anyway, let's ignore them and read some fan letters." She pulled towards her a pink box from the side to make it visible to the camera.
"We have fan letters?"
"Yeah…." She opened it, pulling out a number of small white envelopes. She opened one of them and began to read. "Let's see… You are my loli goddess… okay… the great usurper of my virgin heart. Heal my pain with your overwhelming pure love… more stupid sentences…. Sincerely, Mr. Bear."
"Wow… that's some letter." Namanie grinned mockingly.
"Shut up…. Anyway, Mr. Bear… I may not look like it, but I'm already sixteen years old, so according to this country's law, I am legal. Also, sorry to burst your bubble, but I'm already engaged. So in your dreams, Mr. Pedobear!"
"Heh, that's actually funny."
"Moving on…" Momo opened another letter… she grinned. "It's a letter for you, Namanie."
"Really? What's it say?"
"Hmm… Dear Redheaded Hotty, can I meet you later outside the gate? You seem to be quite an adventurous gal. I'll definitely rock your world tonight… asterisk double wink asterisk… From Mister Swag."
"Well, Mister Swag…." Her voice was low, her eyes, almost hidden by her red locks, closed. She muttered one word. "Ruki…" Then she returned to her usual bored expression as she stared at the camera. "Sure… make sure to bring a bag full of tissues because there will a lot of blood after I'm done with you. Don't worry, you'll stay fresh since I'm bringing my trusty ice box, can't let Shiro-chan eat some rotten meat."
"Isn't Shiro your pet great white shark?"
"Sure is. Really cute fella. Anyway, Mistah Swag, don't chicken out on me okay? Shiro-chan is actually getting sick of eating chicken meat so your timing is just perfect…."
"Uhuh… that's a nice thought there Namanie. However, I'm sorry, but no killing costumers."
"Hmm… now that's a bummer…"
She placed a hand on the redhead's shoulders. "Calm down, okay? Seriously, you shouldn't have said that bit about synchronization earlier."
"Ahh… yeah… I'll keep that in mind…."
Momo then stared at the letters still in the box and sighed.
"Others might say a third time's a charm, but twice is enough for me." She said, tossing the box and the letters behind her like the trash they were. She then decided to check up on what's happening in the event area. "Now let's see, hmm, it seemed all groups in the first batch are disqualified for losing the tofu from their respective cups. Hehe, too bad."
The contraption was now showing groups getting pissed, throwing their empty cups in irritation, particularly that loser with the scar on his face who was cursing in front of the camera. Momo let out short laugh, suits the loser right.
"Good for you."
The TV then switched its perspective back to the top of the slide, showing a new batch of teams.
"They got there pretty fast," Namanie said.
"There's a large elevator enough to carry ten elephants there, you know."
"And why can't we hire actual commentators?"
"Beats me." Momo shrugged. "Anyway, the next set of contestants will now consist of both the Student Council team and the Swimming Club team. So, who do you think would win?"
"Well, that's just shows how unpredictable this event is! Okay, they are now strapping themselves in their respective rides and are now being handed their respective cups containing the precious tofu."
"Hey, why did we ignore the last batch? This explanation should have been done earlier."
"Do you think I care?"
"Well, the audience needs an explanation at least."
"Since when did you become the reasonable one?"
"Well, how about because the first batch was a bunch of losers."
"Works for me."
A gunshot stole both of their attention towards the on-board television.
"And with the signal of our referee, the last ten groups began their ride!"
Then… there was nothing but panoramic shots of the gigantic slide coupled with a tune she would usually hear on the elevator.
"You, know, this is actually very boring to watch," Namanie said, her close to monotone voice oozing with more boredom than usual.
Momo understood the blade fanatic's sentiment. "I know… too bad this slide used closed tubes."
"Well, if it didn't, they would have been dead right now."
"It would have been very funny."
"Heh, bodies raining from the sky…. You know, this reminds me of that one time where it rained fish on the island. Disgusting really, the dead fishes were all over the place… and the smell… ugh."
"Hoh, I thought you would like it."
"You know, if we go back three years from now, I would have decapitated you for that comment."
"If it was back then, you would be dead before you could even blink."
Both of them let out a reminiscent sigh at the same time.
"A lot has changed huh…." Namanie said, shaking her head.
"Yeah…." However, it seemed their remembrance of the past would be cut short as the television was now showing subsequent splashes on the circular pool surrounding the mega-structure. "Anyway, it seems all of them are finished now."
"Hmm… at least this batch is smarter… some of them covered their cup with their hands."
"Heh, too bad that would only make the tofu damaged beyond recognition."
"At least they're still in the event."
"If only no one between the two crowd favorites managed to safeguard their tofu, that is."
"Well, why don't we look?"
The television screen was now showing both the Swimming Club group and the Student Council group walking towards the referee. Both teams were obviously confrontational, particularly with how they behaved with each other. They then placed their respective cups on a table in front of the nervous worker acting as a judge. The camera zoomed in on the pair of tofu.
"Hmm, both are quite undamaged," Momo began, narrowing her eyes at the image the contraption was showing.
"Nah… if you look at the Swimming Club's tofu, there's a small depression on one side."
"Now that you mention it, yep… there sure is. Well, that clinches it. The Student Council group wins the round."
"How are we going to score the Swimming Club team?"
She grinned as an idea to make things a bit more interesting came to her.
"Why not make it a tie in the tally boards, both teams now having one hundred and ninety points."
"Sure." Namanie then began tinkering with her tablet, distributing points among the remaining groups.
Momo sighed, one last even and they would be finally done.
"Now that's the end of this event. See you again after these short commercials."
"We don't have commercials."
"I wish we had."
Nekomi was stretching, feeling positively good under the looming structure that was the so-called "Mountain of Madness".
"Now that was a ride."
Wheee! Can we do it again?
Too bad, they could not do it again for the day.
Still, she was glad they trusted Zenkichi with the cup of tofu as she fully enjoyed it.
Hm, hm! Nothing less but excellence from him!
"You have a great sense of balance and focus, Zenkichi. Thanks to you, I have enjoyed the ride immensely without worry," Medaka said beside her, also in the same mood.
"Yeah… I'm happy to help," he said, twitching nervously.
Too bad Akune's team was already out of the competition. Even Medaka and Zenkichi were surprised at such sudden turn of events. Then again, with what she knew about Hoshizumi's debilitating fear of heights, quitting was only natural. Such action was plus point in her opinion towards Akune for placing first his club mates than a competition and the prize. It definitely took some guts on forgoing a ten million prize for a club member's well being. Moreover, instead of getting disappointed and leaving the water park, the blonde captain and his team stayed, even giving support to her team, ignoring, of course, his snipes at Zenkichi.
Even if she was jealous of his talents, she was glad she chose him as her successor.
Pretty good, for a mortal.
Anyway, thinking of a certain strawberry-blonde…
"So… how did you do it?" Nekomi asked Zenkichi, as their group began walking towards the venue of the next event, also earning Medaka's attention.
"Do what?" he asked back.
With how intent the purple-haired girl in the string bikini was staring at Zenkichi, Nekomi was sure his friend was also interested in the hows of his feat.
Don't expect the truth from him.
"Well…. I can't really explain it. It just happened. However, I do admit, I am confident with my hand-eye coordination. Maybe all those hours playing racing and rhythm games finally paid out." Zenkichi winked at them.
He can be so mesmerizing sometimes… only sometimes….
Nekomi shook her head. "Heee… rhythm games huh…"
"I am also familiar with Initial D, you know. I just did the same as the thing as the protagonist to keep the tofu safe."
Oh how she wanted to slap him with his bullshit.
I told you so.
He probably did some crazy Abnormal mumbo jumbo to keep the tofu undamaged. Seriously, she herself — even if she did enjoy it — was almost made sick by the ride down with all those twists and both vertical and horizontal three-sixty degree turns. Preserving perfectly the fragile soy product was just impossible within such conditions.
Now thinking about it, this only made the feat of the Swimming Club all the more amazing, given that she knew each member were just Specials. Unless of course there's more to them than meets the eye… nah. She knew Yakushima for more than two years already. The only thing the goateed Captain of the Swimming Club had was his amazing talent in swimming… or maybe such skill of his was the mystery in first place.
Kuku, there no mystery here… just the fishy truth.
Nekomi inwardly cursed…. The voice was more cryptic than usual.
"Say, Nabeshima-senpai… can you tell me more about the Swimming Club?" Zenkichi suddenly asked, interrupting her from her thoughts and changing the direction of their discussion.
"Well, I could, but Medaka-chan..."
"Don't worry about me, Secretary Nekomi. Just don't divulge anything private."
The purple-haired president probably didn't want some sad back-story to keep her from exacting reform on such skewed individuals. Though Nekomi doubted such stories would even affect her friend anyway when she was in such a state.
Tunnel vision is a very dangerous thing. It makes you lose sight on what's truly important.
What the hell was the voice talking about?
Just giving out some pointers.
Just go on with the explaining, okay?
Nekomi was confused; still, she decided to do what the voice said.
"Well, let's start with my classmate, Umumichi Yakushima. Ignoring his obsession with money, he's a pretty cool guy. He's probably good with poker since most of the time I can't peg what he is thinking or what he wants to do. As for skills, well he's an all rounder and knows all the strokes and techniques on swimming."
She and Yakushima, even though they were classmates, were just casual acquaintances. Most of the time, they would just trade notes on management as captain of their respective clubs. Nothing grand, really. He was just another convenient person she knows.
He smells so delicious!
Hey, I'm not implying sexual attraction here! It's just that… he really smells deliciously fishy, you know, like tuna… kinda like that one girl who was chummy with the unholy and divine him, though she also had that overpowering smell of blood….
Before she could inquire about what the voice was talking about, Zenkichi interrupted her, asking an additional question.
"Okay… so he's good with swimming, what else?"
"Well, except for being the captain of the swimming club, which you two already know, I got nothing more about him," she answered, shaking her head after.
Well there are those rumors about his family splitting because of money problems, but as Medaka requested, she would not reveal such a private matter. She may be a cheater, but she was not insensitive nor a rumormonger.
He most likely won't care.
"What about that Tanegashima guy?"
He also has the same tasty smell…. Ohh, can we have sushi later?
Feeling a bit peckish herself, she decided to humor the voice with its wants.
"Hey, can we eat sushi after this?"
"Good!" Nekomi clapped her hands happily. With a smile on her face, she continued with telling Zenkichi what she knew of the tanned member of the Swimming Club. "Anyway, his full name is Sotsu Tanegashima. In the world of competitive swimming in this country, he is considered the fastest. Except for his unusual teeth structure, nothing more."
"What about Mogana Kikaijima?" Medaka asked this time, clearly interested on the said girl.
"Well, you could say she's Akune's counterpart in the swimming world. With the sheer potential she has, Yakushima-kun was sure she would become the best in the country in no time. I even heard a rumor that she could hold her breath for a month. Pretty crazy I tell you."
"It's not impossible. I too can do it," Medaka said with all seriousness.
"Really?" Nekomi had to ask… though somehow, she wasn't that surprised.
The purple-haired superhuman nodded.
"Well, color me impressed. You do learn more everyday about how bizarre the world is." She shrugged, then she remembered a very interesting bit about the ponytailed member of Swimming Club. "Oh, and I also heard some rumors about her father being involved in a in some new age rel—"
"That's enough, Nekomi, we should respect their privacy." Medaka raised her hand and gestured for her to stop. Then suddenly, Zenkichi took hold of the super genius' raised hand by her wrist.
"Medaka-chan, I want to hear this."
Nekomi stared slack-jawed at Zenkichi, which was definitely warranted for the situation. From the time she was in the Student Council, she would always see him acquiesce to the president regardless of how ridiculous the order was, except for that one time with the love letter incident… but it was under a stupid identity. Therefore, she always thought the he would not go against her wishes, at least not in front of her, ever.
Kuku, you thought wrong. Your friend thought wrong.
"You can't order me out of this, Medaka," He said, unusually intimidating for once… no… Nekomi already had a glimpse of this side him that night and the night after the love letter incident.
It wasn't soon that Medaka relented, sighing. She then smiled. "Very well. I'll meet you two there."
Was she glad Zenkichi went against her? Why? She did not know the answers. However, from what she could discern, it was like Medaka was a parent glad for her kid's independence… or worse, an owner glad that her pet can now be left without supervision….
No, she did not want to think of Medaka like that…. her friend was not like that.
The Kurokami… The Black God… Such an ominous name.
"Sure…" Nekomi said, trying her best not to shiver from her negative thoughts, while Zenkichi only nodded.
Both of them remained silent until they saw Medaka disappear among the crowd, giving her enough time to compose herself.
"So can you elaborate about this cult you were about to mention?" He asked, breaking the silence.
Nekomi donned her usual expression of amusement. "Kuku, mighty curious, aren't we?"
"It's important that I know."
"Oh? What makes you think I'll tell you? Remember, you're the servant for the day."
"Enough of this baiting crap of yours, Nabeshima. Tell me what you know."
Nekomi flinched at the rough tone he was using. "Sorry…." He sure was scary when he wants to be. "It's about Kikaijima-chan, really. Some say her father left them because of a family debt… but according to some rumors, her father actually left them for a ritual group suicide on an unnamed island in the south pacific."
"What is the name of this cult?"
"It's funny really, since those guys were worshipping gods not local to this country — Dagon and Hydra, from what I could remember."
"I'll ask you again, what is the name?"
"The Sublime Faith of the Dragon Palace."
Zenkichi sighed in relief. "Ryūgū-jō… So it's only that…. I should have known with Nienami being here."
I always liked this part of the world, lots of things to eat.
Nekomi ignored the voice's nonsensical chatter as she grinned at Zenkichi, who now returned to his unremarkable and mild-mannered persona.
"Far from what you were expecting?"
"Yeah… nothing major."
"Nothing major? With how you treated me just now," she said, wiping an inexistent tear.
"I apologize if I came too forceful."
"If you want to apologize, then tell me. I want to know what's troubling you."
He won't tell you.
See? Secrets must be kept… you are not ready for them yet.
Nekomi sighed. Even though she knew what his answer would be, it still angered her. She narrowed her eyes at him.
"Why are you keeping secrets from the both of us?" she growled
"… It's necessary."
"Necessary for us? Or necessary for you?"
He avoided her accusing gaze.
"Sorry, but I really can't, especially not to Medaka."
"Then what about me?"
"As I already said, you'll find out by yourself when the time is right."
When will that be?
Finally, the boring event was ending.
Namanie covered her mouth as she yawned, back on her cheap foldable chair inside an open tent beside the Olympic sized wave pool, watching the workers prepare the venue for the last event.
She saw people gathering — the losers, the contestants, the supporters, and those that just wanted to watch the upcoming battle royale — the workers refilling the newcomer's drinks as they arrived while others gave the new arrivals new cups.
Feeling parched herself, she gestured to a nearby worker for a drink by snapping her fingers. A couple of seconds later, she was slurping on a nice, ice-cold glass of pineapple juice through a bendy straw.
She released a pleasant sigh. "Hey, Momo, aren't you thirsty?"
"Nah…" her petite companion said, staring at the rushing workers with her vicious and sleep-deprived-like eyes.
"Okay…" She slurped on her drink more.
A welcome silence came after, which was sadly broken when they noticed the Kurokami heir arriving by her lonesome.
"Hey, what do you think happened?" Namanie asked her diminutive companion as she stared at the Kurokami heir, noticing how the purple-haired girl's bountiful chests held by her thin white string bikini bounce with each step… then she stared at her own… she clicked her tongue in irritation.
"Probably nothing important," Momo answered as she shifted her evil-looking eyes at the boob girl.
"Maybe he decided to leave her."
Yeah, she wished….
"Impossible…" the Momozono heir said, her voice rougher than usual.
Typical no-nonsense Momo….
Then a thought came to Namanie.
"What do you think she'd do if she knew?"
"Don't know… I don't dwell on what-ifs."
"You're a boring conversation partner, you know that?"
"What a surprise… I have the same opinion about you."
Before an argument could even begin, they noticed Medaka turn to their direction, walking towards them with purpose radiating from her like an incandescent bulb, a cold expression plastered on her face.
"Hey, she's coming towards us," Namanie nudged her companion.
"I can see, fish face," the now mop-cap-wearing girl said, elbowing her on her stomach, still leering at the nearing girl. It did not hurt, as expected. Still, the child-looking teenager insulted her, so like what her grandfather would always say, "An eye for an eye."
"I'm not a loli, tuna breath."
"You have the body of one…"
"Enough of this, we have a situation at our hands."
"So what are we going to do?" she asked just for the sake of asking.
"The usual.… I'm warning you, Namanie. Don't even give her clue."
It wasn't long before Medaka Kurokami arrived at their open tent, stopping in front of their table with crossed hands under her large chests… really, Namanie couldn't help but think that the Kurokami heir was somehow intentionally taunting her with those bazookas of hers.
"Miss Momozono, Miss Nienami, can I borrow some time from the two of you?" the purple-haired zaibatsu heir asked.
"Sure… but make it quick, the event will start as soon as the employees finish," Momo replied for the two of them while Namanie opted on staying silent, focusing on her grand task of slurping the juicy goodness within her hands.
"Hey, can someone bring her a chair? Oh, and give her something to drink too." At Momo's harsh tone, the workers rushed, running around like headless chickens.
"No need," the zaibatsu heiress said, stopping the chaos among the water park employees as her red eyes bore into her diminutive companion.
The workers gulped, utterly confused as their eyes alternated between the two girls who were in a stare off. They finally released a sigh of relief as Momo waved a hand in dismissal of her last order.
"I'll be direct, what are you two to Zenkichi?" Kurokami asked.
Namanie clicked her tongue as she noticed she was out of pineapple juice. She placed the empty glass on the table as Momo began her tale.
"Don't give me that nonsense about just being mere acquaintances."
Momo's baggy eyes increased in their viciousness.
Seeing the shift in her fellow fiancé's mood, Namanie decided to take over the ongoing conversation.
"How about close acquaintances…?" Namanie said, lying for all her worth. Zenkichi had better be preparing some compensation. "You could even say that we're friends. Like we said, we both met Zenkichi during his journey, though not at the same time."
"I met him near the Momozono estate," Momo said, nodding at her.
"While I met him back at the family island." Namanie nodded back.
"Why would he even go to your respective households?"
"He may not have mentioned this… but he had managed to acquire quite large debt from the ruling party of the Shiranui Village, though I don't know the particulars. As far as I know, he was tasked to act as a liaison between the branch families and the ninja village to pay off his debt," Namanie answered lazily, spouting the half-truth Zenkichi had decided for them to tell when such situations such as someone asking about what he did back then would arise.
"This does explain how he's close to Miss Shiranui."
Hook, line, and sinker.
"Of course they would be close," Momo took over, grinning, "She was by his side throughout his time as a liaison."
"Still, even if he had to travel almost all of Japan to pay off this debt, why did it take almost three years for him to come back?"
"He had to study, Kurokami. He missed almost a year and a half of his schooling to pay off his debt, so he studied his butt off back at the Shiranui Village afterwards, and given that the chairman of Hakoniwa was a Shiranui himself, he couldn't ask for better tutors."
"I could have done the same for him."
"He probably did not want to be a burden to you, Kurokami. Isn't it why he began his journey in the first place? Did you notice that he wanted to catch up to you?"
"He did not need to…."
Namanie could feel her eyes narrowing at the heiress. "Do you really think that…? Did you really think that?"
Medaka Kurokami opened her mouth, wanting to spout some excuse… but no words came out. She then widened her eyes, which suddenly narrowed as she glared at them. "Why do you two know so much about me?" Medaka Kurokami growled, the tips of her hair slowly turning translucent red, her aura of hostility scaring the normal people near them.
Was that the infamous Mars Mode?
Namanie's lips twitched. The princess sure had serious anger issues.
"Does the Jet Black Wedding Feast ring any bells?" She said as she rested her elbows on the table, tapping her fingers from one hand to their counterparts on the other.
The change in the Kurokami princess subsided, though she was still glaring at them.
"The two of you are my suitors…?"
"Who knows…? You heard us, right? Me and Momo are already engaged — form your own conclusion from such fact as you will." Namanie shrugged. She then spied a familiar shade of strawberry-blonde escorted by a feline girl. "Our talk with you has to end here…." She gestured for the heiress to look behind her.
Seeing who had just arrived, Kurokami nodded.
With one last suspicious look at them, the purple-haired princess left, walking — an almost unnoticeable skip or two in between her steps from time-to-time — to his direction….
Namanie sighed... As expected of a Kurokami…
"Keh! What's wrong with being close with him?" Momo ranted like the child that she appeared to be as soon as Kurokami was far enough.
"The girl is just safe-guarding her territory…."
They saw the future president of the Kurokami Zaibatsu greet her newly arrived teammates, talking animatedly with them… while Zenkichi raised an eyebrow at their direction.
Momo waved her hands dismissively, answering Zenkichi's silent inquiry for the both of them.
The lanky strawberry-blonde replied with a curt nod, smiling.
At least someone's satisfied.
Namanie and Momo then waited in silence for the workers to finish, the Momozono heir tapping her finger on the table while she opted on balancing a knife with its sharp end on her index finger. The quiet lull did not take long as she then noticed one worker nervously walking towards their direction.
"Ma'am, we're ready to go," he said, standing beside the still fuming game otaku.
"Good, let's begin," Momo ordered.
"Yes, ma'am!" The employee bowed profusely. He then ran back to his peers, yelling at them to hurry. Like a well-oiled machine, the workers began a coordinated routine of assisting the teams with their respective banana boats on the pool. It did not take long for all of the participating teams to be in their respective boats, positioned equally all over the Olympic-size wave pool, each holding paddles where both flat ends were thickly padded. Safety first… could not let the teams knock each other's teeth out or beat each other to death — seriously, the lawsuits would be disastrous.
Namanie saw her current companion take large intakes of air, calming herself. The girl with the frayed hair then turned on her microphone.
"Well, well, well, it's our final event for the day!" Momo began, the establishment's top-of-the-line sound system transmitting her rough voice all over the park. "I won't go on much for this final battle as it's pretty self explanatory! Yes folks, it's going to be a Banana Boat Battle!"
Namanie turned her own microphone on to begin her part. "Each team must knock out opposing teams from their boats. There is only one rule, only use the paddles. Knocking other teams by your hands, feat, head or any other physical attack that doesn't involved the padded parts of the paddles will be instant disqualification. And yes, hitting your opponent with the wooden shaft in between the padded parts is also grounds for disqualification."
"See folks? The management holds your safety to the utmost importance. Aren't they great or what?" The audience cheered at Momo's words. "Anyway, we also have a treat for those who performed abysmally in the last two events. The higher a standing a team has, the higher the point gain for those that defeat them. However, you must knock out every member of the opposing team off their boats to earn the points. Yes! You will gain the points these high-ranking teams gathered! So to anybody who beats both the Swimming Club Team or the Student Council Team, or either after one knocks down the other will be the undisputed winner!"
The losers along with the watching crowd roared in approval… really, Namanie almost rolled her eyes from their sheer stupidity.
"Then without further ado, referee, let's begin!"
The loud sound of the signal gun firing and the roar of the contestants echoed all over the pool.
Medaka felt amiss, feeling a sensation of wrongness welling up inside within her.
The two branch family heirs' answers were unsatisfying, only increasing the questions spinning around her head. She was especially irked with what they were implying.
Zenkichi was her precious friend… and more….
Did she really push him away? She had to admit, she took his presence for granted. But push him away? Never.
Was that how he saw her actions back then?
No, if it were the case, he wouldn't have returned to her side. She's convinced; the words from the two girls' mouths were most likely a ploy… an overarching plan for an upcoming Jet Black Wedding Feast. Them having fiancés was probably another way of telling they were her suitors…. Yes, that must be it.
It didn't matter that they were of the same gender, as her family was eccentric enough to allow such things…. Not that she would approve, of course.
And even if the fiancé that they were both implying was her childhood friend — a what-if that was unpleasant to even think of — she would not lose, for she was Medaka Kurokami.
Zenkichi Hitoyoshi will be hers.
Still, the Nienami heir was right; the conversation must end since her companions had already arrived.
"Very well…" Medaka said, acquiescing.
Giving the two girls one last challenging look, she turned around, her bad mood lessening as she walked towards Zenkichi and Nekomi.
"Have you finished inquiring Secretary Nekomi for the Swimming Club, Zenkichi?" She asked as soon as she was in talking distance with him.
"Yeah," he said while giving a glance behind her. After he gave a curt nod, he smiled, not towards her, but to them….
Medaka felt a small pang of jealousy, which she squashed to oblivion. It would be unbecoming of her to feel jealous of such a small gesture given to females who weren't her. Even then, it would just be admitting that she saw those two girls as a competition to his heart… a threat — she would not give them such satisfaction.
She will give them a benefit of the doubt, of course. It's only natural for they are human, and thus there should be good in them… a chance of friendship like what happened with her and Nekomi Nabeshima.
"He really didn't ask much…." Her secretary shrugged answering for the both her and Zenkichi, letting out her usual cheery smile. Her expression then turned inquiring as she asked, "What were you talking about with those two?"
"Just a little family business…."
"Those two," Medaka said as she gestured her head towards the event commentators, "are my relatives…." Now that she thought about it, since they were relatives, maybe it was only natural for the Kurokami and those of their blood to carry the same like towards her childhood friend. It was a valid thought since Medaka Kurokami herself, the greatest of the Kurokami both living and not, had fallen for him.
"Heh, and here I thought you guys were just members of the same group of companies, but actual relatives?" her friend said, nodding in understanding. "So that's why the Kurokami Zaibatsu never had any mergers or de-mergers since its conception."
Nekomi was surprisingly knowledgeable of her father's company, as expected of her secretary.
"Hey! Just because you won doesn't mean you guys could talk and relax!" a familiar voice suddenly interrupted her discussion with Nekomi.
It was Tanegashima, and with him were Yakushima and Kikaijima.
"Woah there… Do we really have to have pre-competition banter?" the purple-eyed secretary said as she stepped up front, smiling in a placating manner towards the blonde. She then turned her attention at the captain of the Swimming Club.
"Sorry, Tanegashima insisted. He's the type that gets fired up with such things," Yakushima replied, sighing.
"Oh well…" Nekomi shrugged condescendingly.
"Hey! Don't label me into such a weirdo!" Tanegashima complained.
Perking up at the word competition, Medaka decided to intervene. "Pre-competition banter… Very well, I accept. Please begin."
"Uhh…" the junior high school student coughed, surprised, his eyes wide as he looked confusingly at his companions. After the other members of his team nodded, he grinned, his sharp teeth showing, lifting an arm to point at Medaka and her team. "Hyaha! Just because we're tied, does not mean you guys could relax! The water is our domain! You might as well fork over the money now!"
"Nonsense. We will succeed and reform you three."
"Reform? Never! As long as human society continues to exist, money will make the world go round. We will never change our beliefs!"
"Let me tell you what exactly makes the world go round. It's trust. Large companies breathe on trust; a country can be kept afloat by trust. Even the country of Japan only managed to flourish because of the United States' trust on us being the competent buffer and unsinkable aircraft carrier against the Soviet Union after the war."
Tanegashima was tongue-tied, unable to give a rebuttal, dropping his pointing hand.
"Of course we know that, Kurokami," Freshman Kikaijima suddenly took over, glaring at her venomously. "However, that trust you're talking is only ephemeral, flimsy like a cardboard roof under a storm. Have you forgotten about the bubble burst at the turn of the last decade of the twentieth century? Trust can only go so much. Yes, money is trust… but it's also gold. Only one thing is important to us… to gather as much money as we can so that we can buy gold — an item of its value is stable, unlike paper… unlike your stupid trust. Remember this, one day we will achieve our dream and buy a pool full of gold coins and swim on it."
"Umm… wouldn't that hurt?" Zenkichi suddenly said, breaking the tense atmosphere.
Kikaijima glared at Medaka's childhood friend, the ponytailed girl's rage so palpable that even her companions stepped back.
Seeing such a reaction from the brown-haired girl, Zenkichi stepped back, hiding behind Nekomi while he waved his one hand in a placating gesture "Ahh… yeah, swim in gold coins! Awesome! Fabulous! Ahh… just ignore what I said."
Her secretary could only sigh at how the strawberry-blonde acted.
Medaka had to admit, it was very different compared to how he acted back in those early days of middle school…. Change, huh…. She did not know whether to like it or not.
Still, it wasn't time to think about his childhood friend's changes. It was a time of challenge, a time to exact her calling in this world… a calling under Zenkichi's definition of her purpose.
"I will remember," she said, considering the revelation of Kikaijima's goal — a dream both grand and pragmatic. Medaka definitely approved. However, the road on which they were walking towards such dream was wrong. "But know this, I will change your self-destructive ways, of that I'm sure." Medaka declared, pointing a finger in challenge to Mogana Kikaijima. She will make them happy.
The one-piece wearing girl narrowed her eyes further. "We'll see…"
"Umm… I'm sorry to interrupt your exciting talk, girls," Zenkichi suddenly interrupted, nervous, still hiding behind Nekomi, whose cheeks were reddening as her eyes twitched, "but I think the event is starting."
Medaka dropped her pointing hand.
Like her childhood friend said, the water park's employees were now guiding the other teams to their respective boats. She even noticed two workers walking towards them.
"We will see you in the battlefield," Freshman Kikaijima said as they left, the senior captain grinning whimsically while the junior kept laughing, following a water park employee to their boat.
"Is your group ready?" the employee assigned to them asked.
"Yes," Medaka answered.
"Then please follow me."
Somehow, their group ended up in the very middle of the pool, just in front of the Swimming Club Team. Zenkichi was up front, her in the middle, while Nekomi was behind her — a consequence after a round of rock-paper-scissors — each of them holding a padded paddle.
"Man… the odds are stacked against us. Does the management have a grudge on us or what?" her friend behind her said petulantly.
"I don't think so. With us and the Swimming Club Team at the top of the rankings, it is only natural we are placed in the very center."
"Kya!" she let out as Nekomi suddenly hugged her from behind, pushing her into Zenkichi's back — Medaka noticed he had lost a lot of muscle compared to what he had back then — her chest touching, pressing into him.
"I wasn't asking for a reason behind, Medaka-chan," her green-haired friend said, grinning, Rubbing her face to Medaka's cheek-to-cheek.
"M-medaka-chan? What's wrong?" Zenkichi said, as he tilted his head to look at them, blushing. His cheeks redden further from what he saw, sputtering unintelligibly.
"We're not doing anything, Zenkichi, just focus on the opposing team in front of you," she said while Nekomi flashed him with a peace sign beside her.
"Uh… ah… okay." He said absent-mindedly, clearly not getting what she said. It was quite endearing actually.
"I hope you drown, Hitoyoshi!" she heard Akune shout from the stands.
From the corner of her eyes, she saw him in the middle of his two club mates, sitting on the hurriedly put up spectators stand, drinks in hand.
Noticing her looking at them, Akune began to shower her and Nekomi shouts of support, the short-haired companion waving a hand while the smaller girl snubbed her…. Huh… Medaka was still confused about that particular freshman's behavior.
They heard the tell-tale signs of the sound system turning on. Not long after, the commentators began to explain the rules of the final event.
"Then without further ado, referee, let's begin!" the voice of the Momozono heir reverberated and as soon as they were done. A second later, they heard the signal gun firing, starting the event.
Instead of rushing towards them, their rivals turned around from them, attacking the other teams in their side of the pool like a bulldozer on a rampage.
"Well, it seems the Swimming Club team did the smart thing and decided to knock down the small fries first!" the sound system echoed Momozono's voice.
"I would do the same thing if I was in their position…" the almost monotonous voice of Nienami took over.
Realizing their actions, Medaka stood up, easily balancing herself on the banana boat. She then took Zenkichi's place in front of the boat, ignoring his surprised yelp.
"Zenkichi, turn us around."
"What's the use of rock-paper-scissors when we would just exchange places?"
"Stop complaining and turn us around."
"Yes ma'am," he said, grumbling a bit as he did what he was told.
"Hooh, the Student Council team seems to be doing the same," Medaka heard the small commentator say through the sound system, which the Momozono's fellow redheaded commentator followed.
"They don't have a choice… the other teams are gearing up to attack them…."
"Hey, Medaka-chan. I bet I could knock more down than you" Nekomi suddenly challenged, her smile Cheshire-like.
She could feel her grin widen. "You're on."
Medaka saw the other teams rushing towards them, paddles first like a cavalry of jousting knights of old European days.
She licked her lips.
As soon as their boat turned sideways, Medaka swung her paddle like a bat, knocking down all three riders of the nearest boat. The other rushing teams stopped as they saw the aftermath of her attack, wary… scared.
"It's a strike, folks. Three strikes at one bat!" the smallish commentator said, seemingly excited.
"… Triple Kill…" the Nienami heir followed with monotone voice.
Medaka pointed her paddle at them. "Come at us! We'll take you all on!"
"Ohh, a daring challenge! Nothing less from a Kurokami!" Momozono's voice echoed, followed by the roars of the audience.
"… If the other teams don't take on her challenge, they will be the very definition of pussies…," a bored voice added.
Medaka's challenge had the intended effect — though Nienami's unconventional urging did help — as the rest of the remaining teams advanced, yelling crass words and unintelligible taunts.
A paddle swung towards her, which she blocked with her own, skillfully twisting her given weapon and swinging it down on her attackers' boat, knocking the whole team and creating a huge splash of water. Another team used the splash to obscure their attack, their paddles piercing through the suspended veil of water. However, Medaka expected the attack, as she spun her paddle like a windmill in a storm, disarming the three members of the attacking team and knocking them off their boat with a strike to the head each.
"That's two teams."
From the corner of her eyes, Nekomi intercepted their team's attackers on her side, skillfully using her paddle like a bō staff — spinning, rotating, and juggling the impromptu weapon with such skill and ease — while she sat on the boat.
From what Medaka saw, she was sure that what Nekomi was showing was just the tip of a humungous iceberg in terms of the green-haired girl's capabilities. Maybe Nekomi's defeat against Zenkichi awakened something within her.
"Same here!" her secretary said as she knocked the last passenger of her second boat.
As expected of her secretary and dear friend… maybe they should have a mock fight in the future.
Medaka grinned at such exciting prospect.
The audience let out gasps of wonder and amazement at their feats, making Medaka happy that she was entertaining the audience with the paltry act that they were doing. She may be suspicious of the ones managing the park, but since it was an establishment of her family's company, it was only natural to help the place in whatever way she can. Moreover, even without such reason, just seeing Nekomi's enjoyment of the audience's adulations was reason enough.
As for Zenkichi, he just settled on paddling the boat, supporting them when they needed it as he watched both of them with wide eyes.
Medaka was sure, more than the audience's adulations, the very reason they were continuing with their showmanship was for him to keep his eyes at them, at her….
It was not long before all the teams that had attacked them were knocked off their respective boats, now out of the pool, as the audience began clapping.
She and her green-haired friend did a high-five, sandwiching a blushing Zenkichi in the middle. Medaka definitely enjoyed his reaction.
"Nice! See folks? Only here in Happy Cthully Water Park you could watch such amazing show!"
The crowd roared at the child-like commentator in approval.
"… I can do much better.…"
"Maybe next time, Namanie. But enough of your issues, we have a very exciting situation here."
"Huh… so the only remaining teams are the two favorites… I'm actually not surprised."
Just as the commentators said, the only remaining opponent for Medaka's team was the Swimming Club team, their banana boat ominously pointing towards them. Tanegashima was in front, in the middle was Kikaijima, and finally sitting behind the two was their captain, Yakushima. Upturned boats were all over the place creating a sense of juxtaposition to a duel in the middle of an old battlefield with the dead lying everywhere.
It was perfect!
Medaka crossed her arms as she stood, easily balancing herself, and pointed her fingers at them challengingly, smirking. "At last… it's time to teach you guys that there is more important things in this world than money."
She saw the only female of their team also stand, exchanging places with the tanned blonde in front. "I had enough of your stupidity! I'm going to smack some sense into your naïve head!" She yelled angrily, pointing her paddle threateningly towards them. Kikaijima then grinned viciously as she sat back.
Medaka narrowed her eyes in suspicion… her eyes widening as she realized that one of them, specifically Tanegashima, was not on their boat.
"Hurry!" Medaka urged him as she sat, hefting her paddle pad first.
There were murmurs of confusion and boos among the audience for what Junior Tanegashima did. As expected, the commentators' offered an explanation.
"Need I remind you guys and gals, there is only one rule — a team has to knock all three passengers of the opposing team's boat off with their paddles to warrant a win. As long as there is someone in the banana boat, all the team members, on and off the boat, are still in the game! Yes, folks! What the Swimming Club Team did is totally legal!"
"…Too bad the rest were too stupid to realize such a loop hole."
The enemy boat suddenly gained speed, rushing towards them like a freight train, Kikaijima-paddle first. Medaka finally saw Tanegashima just behind their boat, kicking the water like a propeller as he pushed. Zenkichi also saw what was transpiring and had finally rowed forward.
"Clever," Medaka mused a loud seconds before she and Kikaijima clashed, their boats rocking from the collision, exchanging blows like old knights in a tourney, her paddle hitting the ponytailed girl's own pad-to-pad, the angry female Swimming Club member's blow managing to equal hers due to the momentum they gained. Then suddenly, Kikaijima eased back, surprising Medaka enough to make her lose her balance for as second, which the other team took advantage of as the senior captain leaped from behind, intent of slamming his paddle towards her head. Thankfully, Nekomi was there to block the attack.
"Kuku, yup, that was pretty clever," her friend agreed.
"I never knew you were this strong, Nabeshima-san," Yakushima said, his hold on his paddle straining, obviously trying his best to keep Nekomi from overwhelming him with all his strength. "And here I thought you're only good with cheating and Judo."
On the other hand, Nekomi was still grinning, holding off the fellow senior with ease. "To be honest, so did I." Her friend then pushed, enough to make her opponent fall off their boat.
Seeing the outcome of Yakushima's attack, they retreated, their boat turning like a drifting car, after a large splash of water from Tanegashima's kicks blinded Medaka and her team.
Medaka gestured for Zenkichi and Nekomi to stay put, observing the other team to try to divine their next move.
She saw the Swimming Club captain rise from the water beside their team's boat. He then shook his head at both his teammates, which they replied with a nod. Kikaijima glared at Medaka's direction… and then grinned maliciously.
Medaka could not help but smile. It seems their opponents will now be getting serious.
Their blonde member climbed back to the boat while Yakushima replaced him. Kikaijima then dived into the water.
"Zenkichi, Nekomi, get ready."
Not a second later, the water under their boat swelled, lifting them up by a feet before bursting upwards with an accompaniment of a shrill and very loud yell, throwing the three of them, boat and all, into the air. Nekomi and Zenkichi gave out respective shouts of surprise while Medaka calmly searched for the source of the attack. At the height of their flight, she saw Kikaijima come out of the water to look up to her direction
Seeing the opportunity for an attack, Medaka raised her paddle above her head. "Zenkichi, keep the bat safe, and Nekomi… be vigilant." She never waited for her companions' replies as she shifted her center of gravity and used the weight changing skill to increase her weight and accelerate her descent towards the culprit of the latest attack, intent of slamming her paddle, pad first, into the mascot girl's head.
However, before she could connect, Kikaijima dove again, completely evading the attack, which created a huge splash as Medaka hit the water's surface. Realizing that she would be at a disadvantage against her opponent, she opted on using the weight changing skill and lessened her own weight to the point that the force she created with her paddle slamming on the water was enough to propel her again in the air. She then spun mid-air to increase her airtime and landed on a nearby upturned banana boat, her impromptu weapon ready for the next attack.
From the corner of her eye, she saw her team's boat landing safely, both Nekomi and Zenkichi on it. She was about to give them a new set of instructions when the tell-tale sign of her boat rising came apparent. Therefore, before a repeat could happen, she jumped to another empty banana boat. As expected, the water under the previous boat burst followed by an ear-splitting yell, throwing the plastic mode of recreational transportation into the air. Then suddenly, something burst out from the water behind her, making her turn around. It was Kikaijima, who was already in mid-swing with her paddle towards Medaka's head. However, thanks to her great reflexes, Medaka managed to block it, the ponytailed girl's padded paddle just inches to her face.
Seeing her attack fail, the freshman member of the Swimming Club dove again into the water.
Medaka was on her toes, her blood boiling from anticipation, her breathing a bit rougher and her heart beating a bit faster.
A challenging opponent appears!
Nekomi stood up from her position as soon as their team's boat stabilized, taking Medaka's place as the vanguard for their team. She was flexing her arms as she twisted her upper body left and right, amazed.
She knew she was stronger after that particular night, but to be strong enough to easily fend off Yakushima… she stared at her hand for a couple of seconds and then shook her head.
It was definitely welcome change.
Still Nekomi Nabeshima couldn't help but sigh… she felt like she cheated… especially to herself, and she was a proud cheater. What's with all the surge of talents?
You shouldn't worry of such minor thing… Whether you know it or not, such prowess was already within your capabilities, only untouched until now.
Really? Nekomi could not believe it. Was she some kind of chosen one or something?
She groaned at the voices vague answer.
With an unnatural ease in balancing herself on the banana boat, she watched as Medaka leapt into the air, followed by the water below the boat she was standing on bursting, splashing the pool water all over the place.
She whistled in amazement at such spectacle… somehow, the simple banana battle event turned into some superhuman battle of feats to boggle the minds of normal people.
Nekomi grinned. In a way, she was now part of the superhuman crowd…. Nekomi shivered at such amazing realization.
I'm glad you like it.
Hefting the padded paddle on her shoulders, she saw Medaka slowly land on another empty boat, reminiscent of what Zenkichi did that particular life-changing night… Curious, does her friend had the same capabilities as the eternal focus of her hate?
I don't really know….
Regardless, she decided to shelve such question for later pondering as she shifted her gaze towards the enemy team's boat and noticed one worrying thing — her classmate, Yakushima, was gone.
The blonde, Tanegashima, noticed her looking at his general direction. He then grinned, gesturing a thumbs down.
Nekomi widened her eyes in realization, but it was already too late as something launched itself towards Zenkichi. It was Yakushima spearing out of the water paddle first
She forced Zenkichi down, ignoring his shouts of complaints as she blocked the attack. She wasn't standing on a stable ground, so even with her new-found strength, the attack launched into the air. As expected of a scholarship student and the captain of the Swimming club — just add water and he suddenly gets better.
Still in the air, Nekomi pushed herself away from her attacker, flipping in the air to land to a nearby upturned banana boat, and at the same time, she heard him dive back into the water.
Seconds later, she saw Yakushima rise to the surface, an eyebrow raised. "When did you become Master Chin?"
"Don't know… last night?" Nekomi grinned playfully.
He shook his head. "No matter, regardless of what you can do, it would still be useless underwater."
Yakushima then dove into the water, deep enough that Nekomi could not see his silhouette on the surface.
Nekomi leaned on her paddle, waiting. Then her ears twitched as she heard the tell-tale signs of something rising from underwater. She jumped, hefting her paddle with both her hands as Yakushima launched himself towards her. She would have slammed him down with the paddle if not for him twisting in midair to block her attack with his feet, the force pushing him back underwater.
Tapping the end of her paddle on the boat, she flipped again in midair, landing on her feet.
"You heard things about me right? You don't want to be hospitalized for months," she said as she turned around to face the senior.
"I did… but I doubt you would do something when there's an audience," he said gesturing to the stands.
"Hey, why don't you take a dip? The water's pretty good."
Does he take us for an idiot?
"Well, at least I tried." Yakushima shrugged.
In the corner of her eyes, she noticed the tanned blonde rowing towards a fleeing Zenkichi. Deciding on helping her strawberry-blonde teammate, she leaped towards a nearby boat, intent on using the upturned boats as her stepping-stones to his side. However, Yakushima, again, launched himself towards her, preventing her from getting to another boat.
"Now, now, don't leave me for another man," he said in mock hurt.
How dare this mortal!?
Nekomi hissed in reply.
"Wow, you fell for him hard, don't you? Never seen you so worried for another person before."
"It's not like that; I'm just worried we'll lose."
"You even act like a tsundere… definitely love struck."
Nekomi growled. "You know you can't beat me."
"Maybe… but I sure do know I can keep you from helping your teammates."
Nekomi narrowed her eyes. Oh how she hoped Zenkichi would not deliberately let himself be knocked off their boat, because if he did, he would definitely receive the clawing of a lifetime.
Zenkichi rowed for all his worth, which was not much given his current physical capabilities.
"I can't feel my arms anymore," he complained loudly as he finally reached one end of the pool. He then lifted his paddle and placed it behind him; turning around to watch the carnage Medaka and Nabeshima were unleashing on the Swimming Club trio.
However, instead of a relaxing moment on the best seat in the event, he only got impending doom as the tanned member of the opposing team paddled towards him all the while laughing hysterically.
"Hyahaha, your mine now, wimp!"
Zenkichi cursed as he used his own paddle to push himself from the poolside. He then rowed to get away from the approaching opponent, who only turned towards his intended direction.
"You won't escape me, wimp! We will win!"
Zenkichi decided to continue with his rowing, intent on a collision course with the approaching enemy boat. However, as soon as he was a feet from him, he used one of his more subtle skills, [Hyperion Shift], changing the constitution of his muscles and used the newly acquired strength for a sudden turn to evade the approaching the boat.
However, Tanegashima never relented as he swung his paddle towards him.
Expecting the attack, Zenkichi slammed his own paddle on the pool surface — his strength enough to momentarily create an empty divide in the pool, splashing the water violently to hide such fact — to push himself into the air and evade entirely the attack. However, his airtime wasn't enough so instead of landing perfectly on his boat, he instead landed on his free hand, balancing himself on his flimsy boat.
"You can do the high-flying shit too?"
He let himself down, sitting comfortably back on his boat. "Of course, it's normal."
The guy with the sharp teeth just stared eyes wide open at him for a second before he shook his head. "Hyaha! Do you take me for a fool!?"
The blonde narrowed his eyes at Zenkichi. "If only I were allowed to get off this boat, I would have beaten you by now. But seriously, is being able to do Hong Kong movie acrobatics a requirement to join the Student Council?"
Zenkichi shrugged. "Ask Medaka-chan, I'm just the General Affairs Manager."
Tanegashima clicked his tongue in distaste. "No matter, we'll still win."
He didn't really care who would win, but if they lose because of him, he would never hear the end of it. "We'll see about that."
"Is it me or this event just turned into a one-on-one battle?" Momo asked, rhetorically, a bit surprised at such development.
"It's just like in my manga!" Namanie said in mock astonishment beside her. "But seriously, the rules pretty much pushed the contestants into this situation…."
Momo grinned, "And isn't it interesting! Especially with the skills our contestants are showing!" She saw Kurokami leaping into the air, evading the sonic attacks of the only female member of the opposing team from underwater, the splashing water creating a beautiful arc of prismatic colors, which awed the audience.
"Hey, are sonic attacks allowed?"
"Well…" Momo picked a paper on the table containing the rules. "The rules didn't say anything about sonic attacks…."
"Then what about the rule of knocking your opponent with only the padded paddle."
"As long as the ponytailed girl hits her enemy with the paddle after the sonic attack, it's allowed."
"…Having only one rule's pretty troublesome."
"So who do you think would win between them?" Namanie asked with a bored tone, already knowing the answer.
"It's still anyone's ball game, I say fifty-fifty." Momo lied. It wouldn't do just to say the outcome of an already decided battle for the audience. It would be like those shitty game guides revealing everything. If there was one thing that really sets her off like no other, it would be spoilers.
Seeing that the battle between Kikaijima and Kurokami would be a repetition of leap, dodge, and splash, Momo shifted her attention to another battle — Goatee Man versus the Feline Girl.
The man known as Umumichi Yakushima was like a humanoid combination of a flying fish and a swordfish with the way he was leaping off the water paddle first. On the to her hand, the girl who was slowly getting closer to Zenkichi was doing acrobatics, intercepting her opponents attacks with her paddle, spinning in mid-air as though she had wires attached to her body. It was senseless wasteful movements only useful for looking good, not that Momo was against it since it definitely impressed the crowd, and at the very least, Momo could acquiesce that the green-haired girl could pose a minor challenge against the Kugurugi heir in terms of martial prowess.
"I can do better than that girl," Namanie suddenly said, referring to both the cat girl and the Kurokami heir, obviously itching for a battle… typical violent maniac.
"I don't doubt that, Namanie…"
"He would not like it if you made a scene."
"Okay, okay, I get it… I was just joking."
"You aren't funny."
"You just lack the critical sense of humor."
"I don't want to hear that from you," Momo grumbled, turning her attention to her fiancé… her eyes widening a bit. "It seems the sole male member of the Student Council team's plan of avoiding the carnage by rowing away from the ensuing battle hit a huge a hurdle in the guise of Tanegashima of the Swimming Club team."
The confrontation between them turned into a chase, the strawberry-blonde rowing away fast from the chasing tanned blonde — she noticed how his muscles were firmer, almost unnoticeable. Her fiancé was probably using one of his skills.
"Will the strawberry-blonde manage to keep avoiding his hunter until his team mates finish their respective battles? Or will he be ripped apart and be sunk under the cold waters of the pool. Remember folks, if either rowers would be knocked off from their respective boats, the other team will instantly win!"
They were all over the pool, Zenkichi rowing as he dodged his opponent's attacks, all the while they dodging the attacks from the others… It wasn't extraordinary, compared to the other two ensuing fights… of which Momo expected given it was him.
Then they heard a huge splash… stealing both Momo and Namanie's attention.
Medaka was gone from the surface... that only meant one thing… she dove.
She grinned. Now this was interesting.
Nekomi was in an impasse.
The battle was taking too long, a stalemate between her defense and Yakushima's frequent lunging attacks.
The rules are annoying.
"Hey, aren't you getting tired yet?" She asked as she tried to hit his lunging body by his head, which he evaded by flipping his own body so that instead of a concussion, Yakushima received her attack trough the soles of his feet, the force driving him back into the water.
Nekomi sighed as she landed back on the upturned boat on her toes.
She saw him rise, far from the range of her paddle.
"Maybe you're the one getting tired," he said, grinning, with no sign of fatigue.
"Well…." Nekomi said, glancing at Medaka's direction — her friend was gone.
Medaka Kurokami wasn't there.
"I think it's our win," he suddenly said, confident.
She narrowed her eyes. "Do you really think she would be defeated just like that?"
"Oh, I know of her exploits… but no one can beat Kikaijima underwater."
Now Nekomi was worried. If there's one thing she knew about her classmate, it was that he had solid reasons to be confident in situations.
She had to finish the battle.
With the use of her paddle, she hit the water surface, launching the treated pool liquid to blind her opponent. She leaped to another boat and then shouted, "Zenkichi! Row towards me!"
She saw him nod as he turned towards her, his pursuer following.
"I won't let you!" he heard Yakushima yell as he did another spearing attack.
However, instead of rushing towards Zenkichi, Nekomi turned around, raising a fist to punch him as she dodged his paddle.
The Swimming Club captain grinned.
She cursed, her face morphing into shock. Why did she let her instincts take over…? Now her team was going to be disqualified….
At the last second, before she could hit him square in the face, she grinned and used her newly gained superhuman reflexes to shift her attacking fist to miss his head entirely.
That's when his enemy realized what she was planning. However, it was already too late as she used the momentum of her first attack to do a half turn, her back facing him as she held her paddle with both her hands to hit him in the stomach with the padded end.
"A direct hit from Nekomi Nabeshima of the Student Council team!"
Nekomi heard both the diminutive and red-haired commentators' say respectively.
For the life of her, she never expected to successfully perform a side-stab to an enemy from behind smoothly like those old samurai flicks except there was actually no stabbing… then again she never expected to be friends with someone like Medaka Kurokami.
Still grinning, she tilted her head to look at her victim.
"That… gack… was cheating," he managed to whine in between coughs, the padded end of her paddle still digging into his stomach.
"Just because I got stronger doesn't mean I won't cheat…."
And technically, it wasn't cheating.
"I should have… gah… known…," he said before losing consciousness.
Shaking her head, Nekomi gently lifted him using her paddle to a nearby upturned boat to let him rest, gesturing for a nearby employee to take the unconscious male. It's not like she really hated the guy, so there's no point in implementing more damage.
"Well, it's clear that Umumichi Yakushima of the Swimming Club team can't participate anymore. The match had just turned in favor of the Student Council team," the smaller commentator began.
"…. Maybe the other team could still turn this around…," said the redhead.
"We'll never know until both Medaka Kurokami and Mogana Kikaijima appear from underwater. Don't worry folks, we are sure both girls are still alive and kicking, and to prove it we will show the live footage of what's happening underwater!"
Nekomi saw some of the employees pushing a very huge television on wheels for the viewing pleasure of the people on the stands. It was showing Medaka battling the ponytailed girl underwater… with the latter having a clear advantage on the former.
Her attention then shifted to Zenkichi as she noticed their team's banana boat already floating beside the upturned boat she was standing on.
"Hah… good job," he said, sweating from the intense rowing.
"Thanks." Her grin turned into a grateful smile. Then she noticed the enemy junior not following him. "Where's the Blondie?"
"He retreated after you beat Yakushima-senpai."
"Uhuh…." She found the other only visible member of the Swimming Club rowing to a safe distance away from them. "How about we help Medaka-chan end this event? It would be easy."
"Nah… she would not like it if we interfere."
"Are you seriously saying that?" That wasn't what she had expected to hear from him.
"Sorry, but yeah… especially when she gets riled up like this," he said pointing towards the large screen, which was now showing a close-up of Medaka grinning, her eyes sharp and clearly excited.
"Just trust her."
Nekomi trusted Medaka of course… but just to sit by and watch as her friend battled someone who had the advantage in water? It just felt wrong. Was Medaka that much of a battle maniac?
Kuku, is this what they say about a pot calling a kettle black?
Was the voice implying she was a battle maniac herself…? Now that's just wrong. She was far from a battle maniac…. Right?
She gripped her paddle harder as she decided to ignore what the voice said. "I'm going to hurt you if you're wrong."
Zenkichi shook his head as he smiled wistfully. "Sorry, but if I want it, I'm always right."
Nekomi shivered from what he said.
Even Medaka could get impatient.
The match was a stalemate, with her just waiting for her opponent to attack to even have the chance of hitting back, while dodging the sonic attacks from underwater in repetition ad nauseam. Therefore, she decided to take the risk and take in a very large breath of air and dove after Kikaijima.
As soon as she was underwater, sonic waves barrage her. Medaka swam, dodging the physical aspect of the attacks by a hair's breadth while the screeching sound deafened her. Reaching the pool floor, she kicked herself from it, and used the force to accelerate herself towards the mascot girl's direction paddle first.
Kikaijima dodged her attack, as expected, so she spun, attacking her once again. However, she missed again, the ponytailed girl easily avoiding her attack. The water was hindering her movements. Regardless of how fast she made her next attacks, Kikaijima still dodged them with a superior smirk on her face.
She was at a disadvantage.
However, even though she realized that point, she never relented with her thrusts, her attacks slowly but surely increasing their speed, her body slowly but surely adapting to the watery environment.
Kikaijima narrowed her eyes as she noticed that particular fact, so she swam away from Medaka.
Medaka, seeing the opportunity, swam upwards towards the surface to get a new breath of fresh air as her unsuccessful attacks made her supply almost nil. However, before she could reach the thin barrier between water and air, she saw her opponent speeding towards her from her left, intent of spearing her with the padded paddle. She kicked herself to a stop to turn and face her opponent head on.
It was a mutual hit. However, she saw Kikaijima was not through with her attack yet as she opened her mouth intent of launching another voice cannon, so Medaka opened her own mouth to use the same attack, which would also use all the remaining air she had in her lungs.
Then again, it was for the best as the confrontation ended in mutual damage — launching Medaka into the surface while forcing Kikaijima further underwater.
Medaka took in another large breath while still in the air, righting herself to land on an upturned boat. Her ears were ringing. She touched one of her ears and felt blood leaking — a minor injury that would heal after some moments.
She then used the scattered upturned boats as stepping-stones towards her team's boat.
As she finally reached her team's banana boat, she saw Nekomi open her mouth, speaking to hear… she shook her head as she pointed to her ears to show that she could not hear her. She saw Nekomi growl, angry to those that did such harm to her — it warmed Medaka's heart.
Suddenly, someone pulled her down to a seating position on the boat with surprising strength and gentleness. It was Zenkichi, who had a piece of cloth, gently holding her face with one hand while he used the other to wipe the blood leaking from her ears.
"… Me… cha… are you alright?" he said with worry.
Finally, she got her hearing back. "I'm fine now."
Her attention was then stolen when she heard the commentators.
"And here comes Kikaijima. It seemed the match underwater was a draw!"
Like the Momozono heir said, Kikaijima rose to the water surface, swimming towards Tanegashima and their team's boat. She noticed Yakushima was gone.
"Don't worry, Yakushima is currently unconscious," Nekomi answered her unvoiced question.
"Good job, Nekomi."
After that, she returned her attention towards the enemy team. Unlike her, the ponytailed girl seemed to be unaffected by the sound based attacks seeing as she was able to talk with her teammate — planning their next move.
"… Unexpected," she heard the red-haired commentator say.
"That I totally agree. However, it is now clear that the Swimming Club Team is in a disadvantage. What will happen next?"
Her team watched the opposing team began to near them. Then they stopped, Kikaijima standing upfront.
"It is clear that we will lose," the cold-looking ponytailed girl began, her voice rough, "especially with our captain being out of commission. However, we refuse to admit it! We want one last clash, no tricks, no bending the rules, no retreats, us against your team in a regular boat battle! The outcome will decide the winner!"
"Hey now, that's just unfair! Wasn't it you guys that started to pick us one by one," Nekomi said, fuming.
"I don't care."
"What the f—"
"Nekomi, language," Medaka chastised.
"Nabeshima-senpai's got a point, you know," Zenkichi said, supporting her green-haired friend.
"Even then… we should agree. It'll help us give higher ground, which in turn would help them realize how wrong they are when we win."
Nekomi sighed. "I hate it sometimes when you're right."
"Okay," Zenkichi said, good-naturedly.
Acquiring her teammates' approval, Medaka stood and announced, "Very well, we accept."
Kikaijima nodded and then turned towards the commentator's tent. "Can you mediate us, ma'am?"
"….Sure," the Nienami heir answered while the Momozono heir began commentating.
"What a development folks! Now the outcome of the match hinges on a duel, a final clash between the underdog that is the Swimming Club Team and the monstrous Student Council Team!"
Medaka twitched at the 'monstrous' comment but decided to ignore it as she gestured for her team to get ready. She saw Tanegashima dive into the pool water, taking his role as the human propeller of their boat, leaving Kikaijima alone in the craft with his paddle. Instead of making her look weak, their team ended up looking more imposing with Kikaijima dual wielding the two paddles like spears intent of knocking Medaka's team off their boat.
The unwavering fearless look of Kikaijima made Medaka's blood boil in anticipation, which only got more intense as the countdown began.
Medaka gripped her paddle harder.
She bent her neck left and right to fix some kinks.
Medaka felt a grin forming on her lips.
She could feel her team's boat moving, Zenkichi and Nekomi rowing in synchronicity. On the other hand, her opponent began to speed towards them, faster than her teammates' rowing — a testament to Tanegashima's speed in swimming.
Then they clashed, Medaka's paddle against Kikaijima's two, locking, pushing, strength to strength, her teammates paddling against Tanegashima's swimming.
"You guys are really something else. The perseverance, the will to win, it's outstanding. I'm glad to be the Student Council President of an institution that has students like you."
"What are you saying now? And after you mocked our ideals."
"You have no respect for your own lives — that is something I can't condone, ever. As your president, it is my duty to correct you three from such suicidal thinking, even if I have to beat it out of you."
Kikaijima grunted, her two paddles straining back a bit as Medaka slowly overwhelmed her regardless of Tanegashima's efforts.
"Ugh… shut up! What the hell do you know? You don't have a father who ran away and dumped his debt on his family. You don't have a sickly mother who's delusional enough to think her husband would come back while she worked herself in to the ground. Your family did not split up due to money problems like Captain Yakushima. You are not an orphan that had his home foreclosed like Tanegashima-senpai. No, you're a princess from a very rich family with everything handed to her in a silver platter."
Medaka remained silent as she listened to Kikaijima's revelation.
"I don't care what you think! I don't care what anybody else thinks! Money is more important than life! That's what I will believe until I die! Respect for life? Hah! It won't even matter if you're dirt poor. I bet other people would be sadder if they lost their wallet than the prospect of my death!"
Medaka may not understand what it means to be poor. She may not understand what it means to have everything you have taken away due to the lack of money. She did not understand the experience of debt or having your home foreclosed. Yes, she could not relate to what Kikaijima and her teammates experienced….
And Medaka did not care.
What's important was that their thinking was wrong on a very fundamental level. Even then, the reasons behind such ideals would be inconsequential after she had reformed them.
That's why Medaka twisted her paddle, easily disarming the tired ponytailed girl, whose hands were shaking, her eyes wide in shock and a hint of fear.
"Spouting garbage like that, it irritates me. Do you know what that means, Freshman Kikaijima? After spouting trash about how important money is, you ended up buying something very, very, expensive—" Medaka raised her hand carrying her paddle, "my wrath," and threw it with all her strength….
The paddle zoomed through the air, even creating a minor sonic boom. Kikaijima did not even have the chance to hide behind her arms; she did not even have the time to blink.
It missed the girl's head by an inch.
Medaka did not let her continue as she leaped towards the flabbergasted girl, tackling her into the air.
"A wallet can be found… but a life can't be brought back after it's lost. I believe that there is nothing more important than a human life… that's why, if you guys died, I'd be sad."
In the past, Medaka may have opted on kissing the ponytailed girl on the lips, but after his disappearance and reappearance, she opted on hugging Kikaijima as tight as she could as she kissed the girl's forehead.
It was not long before they both hit the water.
Feh, such a sappy ending.
However, the audience ate it up like the waste of space that they are… well, at the very least their putting money into her pocket, so all's well that ends well.
"Boom! And there goes the last event folks!" she said in false excitement.
"So… who won?" Namanie asked beside her in faux interest.
"Well, regardless of the drama, since Medaka Kurokami tackled Mogana Kikaijima off the boat instead of using the padded battle, the Student Council team is disqualified. That means that the overall winner is the Swimming Club team!"
The spectators booed… oh how Momo wanted to kill them all. However, business is business, so she kept herself in check, prioritizing professionalism.
"Sorry folks, the rules are the rules. There may be loopholes but we can't disregard it."
"… but it seems that Kurokami was successful with her brai—uh—reformation from what I could see."
Like what her red-haired companion said, the two remaining members of the Swimming Club Team gathered around their now awake captain beside the pool, uncharacteristically not celebrating their win. Medaka and her team then neared their group, the purple-haired girl lecturing them, preaching to them... the money greedy team now all goody-goody after.
Bah, how nauseating.
Momo decided to continue with the prize giving just to stop the sports manga-like display.
"Again, the winner of Happy Cthully Water Park Grand Opening Event is the Swimming Club team. Congratulations!"
"… Pachi, pachi, pachi…. How fun."
At last, her job for the day was finished.
Momo then grinned, while Namanie's lips twitched.
Now for the surprise.