Let the Reapers' Game pull you in…
From TheSoraKid: But in any case, will the Smashers be told of what their entry fees are?
From me: Yes, their entry fees shall be explained in this chapter. Do enjoy it. :)
From NowhereStarr14: And who is this, "Mr. D"? You didn't make him up? You said it was pretty obvious who it is, but I'm completely stumped. I happen to own a R.O.B. and know of the two games that used him on the NES, Gyromite and Stack-Up, and the main character of both games is Professor Hector. That's who I thought built the R.O.B.'s, but then it would have to be, "Mr. H," or something. The ONLY thing that starts with a 'D' relating Smash Bros. is Duon, but I'm almost positive that he, she or whatever it is is not the guy. Unless of course it has nothing to do with Smash Bros. Only time will tell.
And this TWEWY section, it's going to be longer than they Werehog section? Good God, the Werehog section was a HUGE chunk of the story already! But don't worry about it, I'm sure it will be just fine.
From me: He's not a made up. In fact, I'll just go ahead and say you figured it out to avoid teasing everybody about it… However, nobody knows where the doctor went to, but I won't say a thing about it till the time is right.
No, no, no. You're misunderstanding. The TWEWY "section" isn't going to be longer than the Werehog saga. I said that the TWEWY ARC is going to be the longest arc of the story, meaning it's not going to be four chapters… How many chapters there will be, though, it's a mystery. Do enjoy this chapter, too. :)
From Weird Oregonian: Is that curse still plaguing Captain Falcon?
From me: Yes, but luckily, it hasn't killed him so he won't appear here. :P
Also, no, Bob, I don't play Animal Crossing, but since it's very popular, I'll give it a try someday along the road…
Well, you people, it's time for this chapter to come into the light. A lot of hilarity, explanations about the Reapers' Game, and serious situations are all nicely packed up in here. For those of you who played TWEWY already, be on the lookout of the severe "drastic" changes that were done to the main story.
Did Shiki survive, though?
Note: The tracks used here are all TWEWY tracks with the exception of one, but for those of you who don't know, you might end up finding the FULL versions of said tracks somewhere. If it loops, you're listening to the in-game tracks.
I encourage all fashion designers to read on, enjoy, and review.
Disclaimer: Hell yes, Fox is very trendy.
Chapter 201: Shiki's Week – The Jealous One
Shiki's Day 3 – Who 2 Trust
It all seemed like everything happened so fast, but it didn't. Neku grabbed his head in pain as he found himself sprawled on the floor of some unknown location. "Nngh…" He grunted, standing back up. When he opened his eyes, Neku gasped. He found himself standing in the middle of complete darkness. Behind his back, there were some fences. "What is this place? It's dark… Is it nighttime? No, I'm indoors." He gasped again, recalling the events from yesterday. "Wait! The girl!" He frantically looked around in the darkness. He found nothing. Feeling alone at last, he hid his face under his collar shirt. "She's gone."
"Because of me…" Neku recalled the event. He had lifted up Shiki from the floor using Psychokinesis. When she was being lifted up, several pebbles also rose up, probably because Neku was having second thoughts of erasing her and couldn't control his grip on her all that well. The others were yelling at him from behind, yet he didn't care in the slightest what they thought about him. "…I need to get out of here." He looked up from his collar shirt. "Where's the exit?" He took out the Pyrokinesis pin. "If I use this pin for a light…"
Neku quickly found out that he couldn't make the pin work.
"Huh? It doesn't work," he said, much to his dismay. "So I can't use pins… Oh well," he shrugged his shoulders as he stuffed the pin into his pocket. "I'll just have to feel my way around." Not sooner he said that, he heard footsteps. He crossed his arms once he saw Ike's outline in the darkness.
"Oh…it's you," Ike said flatly. "You woke up here, too."
"Just my luck," Neku muttered. "I'll never get rid of you all."
Ike stiffened his look. "Like it or not, we're going to follow you around until we finish this Game thing," he said. "I bet you want to get out of here as soon as possible, too."
"In that case, bear with us," Ike suggested. "Use us as your pass to come back to life. If you don't want to bond with any of us, then don't even bother and just do things your way."
Neku rolled his eyes. "If you want to put it that way, then that's okay with me, I guess," he said. "Just a 'friendly' warning… Don't you dare get in my way…alright?"
Rhyme had said the same words in a playful manner yesterday, but Neku's manner was an actual threat. Ike felt a bit pressured. "…Okay," Ike said nodding.
The sound of footsteps coming from behind Ike made the mercenary turn around. Neku looked forward carefully. "Ooh…" a voice said. "So dark… Where am I?"
"Show yourself!" Neku demanded.
Neku gasped as the source of the voice came into their view range. "You?"
"Neku?! Ike?!" the fashionista said, looking startled. "You scared the crap out of me!" She calmed down and looked apologetic. "Don't do that," Shiki said.
"I scared YOU?" Neku wondered.
"Well, of course!" Ike said. "You nearly took her life away yesterday! Of course she'll be scared of you! You were going to turn into her potential murderer!"
Neku grunted, trying to ignore the mercenary. "Where the hell have you been?" he asked Shiki.
Shiki crossed her arms and moved her face away, though she looked at Neku sideways. "It was dark. I was looking for a way out!" she pointed out. Under the darkness, they couldn't see a few bruises on her legs. "I must've tripped a half a dozen times." She saw Neku taking out the fire pin. "Neku, pins only work when we fight Noise," she said.
"Really?" Neku asked. He recalled he used one outside of battle.
"Well…with a few exceptions," Shiki added.
"Like psychokinesis," Neku said. It was odd hearing him say, "W-well… It's dark. You should be more careful."
Ike raised an eyebrow. "That's odd. You never voiced concern for Shiki before," he pointed out, to which Shiki widened her eyes.
"(This is… No, I shouldn't take advantage of this,)" Shiki thought as she put up a smile. "You kidding, Neku? I already found the exit!"
Neku was back to glaring at her. "Then why didn't you lea-"
She sighed. "I'm not going anywhere without you," said Shiki. She rubbed her nose a bit. "C'mon, I'm not that useless, am I?"
The orange-haired teen looked at Ike. He couldn't tell the mercenary was giving him a funny look. "Don't do anything dumb like wander off," Neku said.
"Excuse me?" she asked, looking up at the dark ceiling. "Which one of us has been acting dumb?"
As Neku looked away in embarrassment, the trio recalled the events of yesterday…
Yesterday, the 2nd day…
Statue of Hachiko
The group of Players watched helpless as Neku slowly strangled Shiki's throat. A very thrilled Uzuki watched the event with all the intention to enjoy every second of it. "Now let's see some results!" she said.
"Hey! That's enuffa that."
Everyone but Shiki looked behind the Reaper to see a man standing behind her. He didn't look quite pleased to see the young teen being strangled by the orange-haired teen. Turning around, Uzuki faced the man. "Uh, what? Who are you?" she asked.
The World Ends With You – Calling
The man sneered a bit and said, "Ah-ah-ah, sister. You gotta play by the rules," he warned her in a friendly manner that made her blood boil a bit. "Making 'erase your partner' the mission is a clear violation."
Neku immediately let go of Shiki, the latter falling on her knees and gasping for breath. Their group widened their eyes and gasped in unison. While Uzuki grunted under her claw, the group said, "It is?!"
Uzuki sighed. "I know that," she said, much to her chagrin. "I was just having a little postgame fun."
"What?!" Neku said in shock. Glares were attacking the Reaper's back, but she paid no attention to them.
The man rubbed his chin and raised an eyebrow. "One mission per day. That's the rule," he said. He held out his palm to the air and grinned. "And only the Game Master can pick the missions."
Uzuki walked to the man. "I know that, too!" she said. "But I'm not the Game Master. Which MEANS this wasn't a mission…which MEANS I didn't break any rules!"
Pichu shook a bit with anger. "H-how could you do this to us?" he asked as he went near Shiki. "You nearly made Neku erase Shiki!"
The man nodded, looking serious at Uzuki. "Then start walkin', sister," he warned her. "You work's done for the day."
Uzuki hardened her look at him as she felt the group's collective amount of glares trying to pierce her back. "…Hmph. For a Player…" she began, "you know a lot about our rules."
"You tricked me!" an indignant Neku shouted behind her, shaking a fist. "All that about letting me out of the Game – that was all a lie!"
The Reaper turned to him, still holding a very conscious Soren with her claw. "Like, that is so rude!" she said. "I do not lie. If I erased you, that's still letting you out of the Game!"
"Hey, we don't know if that's even true, and we sure as hell don't want to find out by getting erased," Fox said.
"You guys should just stop meddling into this," Uzuki hissed. "…Ugh, you totally ruined all my fun. Time to call it a day… We can play some more another time." She turned around and walked away, but the man that had told her out stopped her. "What?"
"Sister, you still have something you shouldn't take as a freebie," he said, looking over at Soren. The Branded was getting mighty ticked off, and he seemed to be rummaging through his clothes for something. Once Soren picked something, he looked up at her with a nasty glare "Drop that Player, now, before you make things worse for you."
Uzuki narrowed her eyes. "How could you be threatening a Reaper like me?" she asked. "Look, I know you like the cop role a lot, but I'm getting very piss-"
Uzuki did not see a hinge of a book slamming right onto her face, specifically her nose.
"AAAAAAAAAAAH!" she screamed loudly, letting go of her attacker. Soren landed on his feet and quickly made his way back to the group's side. As he did, he made sure blood didn't get on his tome. He ignored a few of the cheers the group was giving him for hurting the Reaper, especially a very pleased Beat.
"Soren!" Ike said surprised.
Soren, for once, forced a small smile. "Greetings, Ike. It's good to see you alive and well," he said. "No matter what happens now, I'll see that we get out of this."
Soren joined your team!
"Nothing is better than a good book slam to the face," Ness said. "That was pretty awesome."
Uzuki wiped her face. When she saw that her nose was bleeding, she tightened her claw, and her eyes went white with rage. "GRRRRRRRRRRRR!" she grunted loudly at Soren. He was putting up a blank look. "You little pest! How dare you smack that dirty book on my face?!"
"I should be the one asking why you tried to hold me hostage," Soren said. "The likes of you make me utterly sick."
"SAY THAT AGAIN!" Uzuki demanded loudly.
The man behind her put a hand on her shoulder, laughing all the while. "I warned you," he said. "Scram now. You can't really touch them till the seventh day, sister."
The Reaper was cornered. No matter how much she grunted and hissed, she was prohibited to act on her own. "Shut up!" she said, and with a scoff she flew away to the north. "Next time we meet, I'm gonna rip you to shreds!" she shouted, disappearing from sight.
"Good, she's gone," Soren said. "I…I was feeling a bit scared, but I managed."
"Ha ha ha ha!" the man laughed amused. "Well now, that was an impressive scene, if I do say so myself!" He approached the group of ten, putting up a friendly look.
Shiki got up, recovering her breath. She smiled at the man. "Thank you so much," she said as Neku crossed his arms, feeling ticked off that he had been tricked. "We owe you our lives, Mister…um…"
"Hanekoma," the man said while lazily scratching the back of his head. "Sanae Hanekoma."
Sanae Hanekoma is a very laid-back barista who owns a coffee shop at Cat Street. Owning a place where people gather for a hot cup of coffee, Hanekoma knows a lot of gossip of Shibuya. He's very into the Gatito brand of the thirteen that rule Shibuya's fashion, selling small trinkets of said brand as well as coffee and tea. However, it seems he has his fair amount of secrets…
Sanae Hanekoma looked like a person that woke up in the morning late. He had combed black hair and a slightly shaved mustache. His eyes were half-opened behind his dark glasses. He wore a formal pale gray T-shirt under a light black vest, complete with black pants and the rare sight of black sandals. On his left wrist, he wore a black watch.
He grinned at them. "Think of me as a sort of…guardian," he said chuckling. "I watch the Game to make sure shady types don't start bendin' the rules."
"That Reaper tricked us," Neku said.
Hanekoma narrowed his eyes at him. "You mean she tricked YOU," he said. Neku remained silent through the barista's serious look. "You ignored the young lady, fell into a trap, and very nearly snuffed her for good." He rubbed his chin, amused at the teen shaking his head. "If you think you can do everything yourself, you're in for some hard lessons. See the party of people you got behind your back? Now THAT's a good example of teamwork, if you ask me."
"…Wait…" Rhyme trailed off. "Were you watching us, Mr. Hanekoma?"
"Oh, yeah, I was," he admitted. "I was lookin' the entire event from the alley back there. I didn't want to step in to see how the lot of you would see through sister's lies…" Hanekoma eyed Neku again. "Too bad one of you turned out to be the black cat of the pack… Now!" he shouted. "Apologize to the young lady."
Neku widened his eyes. "'Scuse me?" he asked.
"Hard feelings don't make for good teamwork," Sanae said with a grin. "You wanna survive or not? Go on!"
Both Neku and Shiki looked at each other. The group behind them waited for the two to reconcile. Shiki could've done it before, but she doubted herself when Neku tried to strangle her. The two stared at the other's face for quite a bit of time.
Surprisingly, Neku said, "…I'm sorry."
"Neku…" Shiki muttered before she shook her head and smiled. "I, um… F-forget it. I'm over it. I mean, you didn't… She made you do it, right?" She blushed and flailed her arms. "And I should've stood up for myself better. So let's just put it behind us."
Hanekoma let out a laugh. "There! Problem solved!" he said.
The group, however, looked extremely confused. Shiki easily forgave Neku, and they had a feeling the orange-haired teen did want to strangle her regardless if he was tricked. Pichu looked stunned. "W-what?" he said. "Shiki! You're forgiving him too easily!"
"It's…it's okay, Pichu!" she said. She never saw that the group shook their heads in disbelief. "I need Neku, and he needs me to win the Game. We just have to be more careful from now on! There are no shortcuts to win this, after all…"
Pichu sighed. "Oh well… I won't forget about what happened a moment ago, though," he said. "I'm doing this because you need each other to continue…"
Hanekoma grinned, nodding all the while. "Now listen up, you ten," he said. "There's only one way to stay alive in this Shibuya. Trust your partner!" He eyed Neku. "Especially you, Phones."
"'Phones'?" Neku said, looking away from Hanekoma.
"You know what trust is, right?" he asked. "Partnership is essential to surviving the Game. Alone, you face limitations. But partner up and you can smash right through them. Same goes for when you fight the Noise." He nodded. "You may think you're alone, but you're not. Your partner is in the other zone, sharing your energy…literally. So you gotta sync up and send that energy back and forth."
"Are you talking about the light puck?" Ness asked.
"Yeah!" Hanekoma said. "The light puck is a symbol of trust between you and your partner. Besides that, don't you dare leave your partner behind! There won't be light pucks to use!" he said chuckling. They felt that the man was a person to trust. He looked back at Neku, who was hiding his look under his collar. "You won't sync up unless you OPEN up. Talk to her!" he suggested. "Tell her how you're feeling. Lay it on her! That's the fastest way to get something across."
Knowing that Neku was being lectured and pushed back to a corner where he couldn't deny things anymore, Shiki armed herself with determination. "He's right, Neku!" she said. "Look… I know I hold you back. I'm…not that good at psychs… But still! I want to win at this Game. And I want all of us to do it together!" She looked serious. There was no holding back. "Just tell me what you're thinking! I just want to understand you!"
"…" Neku replied with silence.
"Neku?" Shiki wondered, feeling that she had lost the argument once more.
"For cryin' out loud, you insensitive jerk!" Beat shouted from behind. "Let her understand you!"
"Y-yes, let her!" Chris agreed. "Otherwise, you're going to suffer the consequences during a mission because you don't want her around!"
"Yeah!" Pichu said nodding. "Neku, listen to her! You need each other really badly to make it out from this!"
"…I want to understand me, too…" Neku muttered. Their eyes widened while Hanekoma raised an eyebrow. "But I don't."
"What…" Shiki muttered in a loss of words.
Neku looked up. "I can't remember anything but my name… I woke up in the intersection with no clue how I got there, no clue why I'm part of this stupid Game. I don't know anything…"
"What?" Ness asked. "(He IS from this world, right?) How is that even possible? Did you smack your head hard when you died?"
Neku shook his head. "I don't know…because I can't remember…anything."
Shiki looked a bit guilty for hearing him out. "But… That means…what?" she asked. "You have amnesia?"
Hanekoma cleared his throat. "Sorry to hear it, boss… That's rough," he commented.
End of flashback, Present Day
The World Ends With You – Déjà vu
Back under the shade of darkness, Shiki kept the look of guilt. "I can't believe you've lost your memory…" she said. She looked away, mildly annoyed. "You could've told us sooner."
"I didn't know," Neku said. "It's just my name I remember, and my attitude towards others. Beyond that, it's all a blank."
Ike shook his head. "Perhaps you really struck your head hard before you died," he said.
Shiki rubbed her chin. "It did strike me as kind of strange," she said, "that you knew nothing about Shibuya or the Game."
"What, like you do?" Neku asked, confused.
"Well, I don't know EVERYTHING, but…" Shiki trailed for a long while until she smiled. "Anyway, we got lucky, thanks to Mr. Hanekoma and his advice." She rubbed the lower part of her nose. "I feel like you and I can finally talk."
Neku looked away. "Like I have another choice…" he muttered. Ike chuckled.
A multitude of footsteps suddenly came from many directions. Looking around, the trio saw faint outlines of the rest of the group. "Oh, there you are, everyone," Shiki said. "I was wondering if we got separated." The glaring green eyes next to her made her yelp. "A-ahh!"
"Hey, I take that as an offense," Fox said.
"S-sorry, I'll never get used to seeing that face of yours… Can't you drop that look?"
"Nope, he's stuck with it," Chris spoke. "Welcome to my little club. I reacted the same way a looooooong time ago…" Fox grunted and pushed Chris away. "Okay, okay! I'm sorry!"
"It looks like we woke up at the concert hall in A-East," Rhyme said. "This place is dark for the moment."
"This is A-East's concert hall? Huh, I never guessed," Shiki said. "I've been here a lot of times with Eri before…uh…" She shook her head. "Well, this is around the time we get the mission, so…"
The group waited patiently till Soren approached Ike. "Whatever is happening now," the Branded began, "it better end soon. I don't like the sudden change of settings…"
Ike looked at him. "Soren…" he trailed off, unable to say something else.
"Hey, yo!" Beat suddenly piped up. "Maybe we can take a small break and go eat! We're in A-East. There's a chance we can enter other places...like my favorite spot!"
The group looked at the punk. Rhyme was smiling. "Oh! You don't mean…" Rhyme trailed off. "We can go to Dogenzaka!"
"Hey, hold on," Ness said. "What are you two scheming?"
Beat grinned. "Missions come outta nowhere," he said. "But we ain't got no timers, right? It's a good time to goof off and relax! I know a good place where we can rest."
Fox crossed his arms. "How can we even eat if we're dead?" he asked. "For that matter, how are we supposed to communicate with the living like this? Food is for living people only, I presume."
Rhyme looked up at him. "It's pretty simple, Fox," she said. He raised an eyebrow. "You'll see once we go over Dogenzaka."
Dogenzaka – Ramen Don
"W-wait, we can't just open the doors like this!" Chris said as Rhyme pushed the doors open. A ringing bell rang on top of the right door that alerted the owner of their presence. "They might freak out an-"
"Hi, irasshai!" a slightly gruff voice replied from behind the wooden counter across the place. The owner of the establishment saw the group of ten entering his domain. "Oh, a big group, eh? Good, good! Please have a seat and order your ramen!" He turned around and attended several pots brewing with hot pasta.
The Japanese establishment looked very normal. In front of the double doors, there were four tables with rows of seats put in a vertical order. The floor had white tiles that were a bit unpolished, but they looked just fine. Across the four tables, the gray wooden counter was devoid of smears and drops of soup, neatly arranged with some chopsticks ready for the customers to use. Across the counter, the chef's working station stood proudly. Ladles and frying pans were hanging up above the counter while brewing pots were cooking a nice scent that wafted into their noses. Beat drooled slightly.
The man attending the shop was the owner. His name was Ken Doi. He was a proud ramen cook who only cared about serving good old fashioned ramen. He dressed almost entirely in white, complete with a white cap and common glasses over his friendly eyes. Not many knew that he had a fervent passion for cooking ramen. Ramen was, in a few words, his life. His mission was to please customers with his exceptional ramen cooking skills.
Fox was speechless for a brief moment, and so did the rest of his group. "Did he just…greet us?" he asked.
Rhyme nodded. "He's not dead or anything. He's alive," she said. "He can see us, though."
"But…how?" Pichu asked, perched on Ness's head. "How can this be?"
"It's simple," Shiki said, knowing where Rhyme was going to. To the left of the entrance, there were creepy red-and-black graffiti symbols plaguing the entire wall. The symbols looked like they were even running on top of the seats and tables. "Those symbols allow Players to enter shops and restaurants. So…it's sort of like a symbol that makes you visible to the people inside these places."
"Who the hell put those unnerving symbols all over the place?" Ike asked. "How did they get away with it?"
"The Reapers did," Rhyme said. "They're under orders from the Game Master. It's to make things fair for us Players. Luckily, none of the living can see them. Only we can see the symbols."
"(Freaky,)" Neku thought. "(These guys thought everything through… Oh well, it's not like is a bad thing.)"
"T-that's good and all, but…" Chris trailed off, staring at the wooden counter, "do we have any money?"
Beat chuckled and brandished around ten-thousand yens. "Buyin' ya all everything you can eat!" he said. "Beating Noise gives you money, yo! There's always a reason to fight them all when you wanna!"
As a few cheers came right afterward, the group of ten misfits all took their seats. Beat, Rhyme, Fox, and Chris took the counter. Ness, Pichu, Shiki, Ike, and Soren took the table in front of the counter, and Neku sat down in a table with nobody else, though he was sitting behind Soren's back. The atmosphere suddenly became lively as they all ordered the different ramen dishes, though Neku seemed to be a little bit more open to the idea of talking to them…not by much.
SMT: Devil Survivor 2 – Connected Hearts
The orange-haired teen decided that eavesdropping on their conversations would be ideal enough to get to know the weirdos. Neku looked over his right shoulder to spy on the four at the counter.
Being unfamiliar with Japanese utensils, Fox didn't understand how people could eat with two sticks of wood. There weren't any forks around. He needed to learn how to use the two ridiculous tools. He was holding the two with both hands, one in each. Looking to his right, he found Chris in a similar situation. The teen had seen how some people held the chopsticks between their fingers, but he couldn't get it right.
"Here, I'll teach you how to use them," Rhyme suddenly said. Fox turned to her. She was holding two chopsticks between her delicate fingers with good firmness. "You need to put them between your fingers like this…" She pinched empty air with them. "And this is how you grab food in a bowl."
Fox studied the movement and the position of the chopsticks while Chris did the same. Grinning, Fox understood the way to do it, and he quickly learned. Chris, similarly, managed to hold the sticks right. "Thanks," Fox told Rhyme.
Rhyme giggled. "You're welcome," she said. She felt it was the right time to talk. "You two aren't from around here…are you?"
Neku leaned back his head as he listened. "(Good, she's making them fess up,)" he thought.
The vulpine exchanged a gaze with Chris. Ken Doi was busy cooking. The teen nodded to him, and Fox nodded back. Fox turned to Rhyme. "It's going to be hard to believe this, but Chris, Ike, his friend, Pichu, Ness, and I aren't even from this world."
"Whaaaaaaaaaat?!" Beat's loud question made the rest turn their heads to their direction. "Yo! What's that suposda mean?"
"I overheard," Soren said, having learned how to use the two curious sticks of wood by himself. "That is the truth. None of the six of us belong to this world. We… How should I put it… We belong to different worlds from one another. Ike and I, though belong to one world."
"(…Okay…)" Neku thought, grimacing a bit.
"What?" Shiki said, raising an eyebrow. "How could that possibly be? There are…more worlds out there?"
"This is crazy," Beat said, playing with his chopsticks. "You not pullin' our legs?"
"Definitely not," Chris said. "We truly come from other worlds…"
Rhyme tilted her head. "That's incredible," she commented. "I knew there was something off about you, but not in a bad way."
"(Oh, c'mon,)" Neku thought. "(Are they high?)"
"But…the fact there is more than one world out there…" Shiki trailed off. "…We're not alone, then?"
"Oh no, it's not something you should worry about," Ike said. "There are some crazy laws that make it impossible for millions of people to cross over to other worlds. We do possess the means to do that…or at least used to."
The young blond rubbed her chin. "Well, I'm going to assume you're right, so… Does that mean you've been to other worlds besides ours?" she asked with interest.
"We've been everywhere," Pichu said, smiling a bit. "And we have a whole bunch of friends back at this mansion where we all live together."
"And since we were forced to play this Game…we want to find a way to go back to our homes," Fox said.
"As for the reason why we ended up in this place…" Ness trailed off, "…we've got no idea how it even happened. At least it's better than losing consciousness altogether."
Neku turned around. "Not from around here, then," he said. "I knew it was strange to see a yellow creature and a humanoid fox walking around Shibuya."
"Well, all of us fell into the same problem," Shiki said. "To me, it doesn't matter what happens as long as we can win the Game and come back to life."
Chris looked worried, shuddering at the thought of being trapped and erased. "There's so much I want to do," he said. "I want to keep doing a lot of stuff…and then I want to finish some tasks I left unfinished."
Fox looked at him with a grin. "Does one of them involve your Lucario?" he asked.
"…" Chris's face moved down as he stared at the wooden counter.
"…?" Fox tilted his head. "Did I strike a nerve? Oh, sorry…"
"…I don't…" Chris looked to the sides in confusion, "…I never had a Lucario before…"
Neku, Shiki, Beat, and Rhyme could only blink after the Smashers let out a few gasps. "What the… Are you serious?" Ness asked. "Chris, for god's sake, you have a Lucario."
The teen shook his head. "What are you talking about?" he asked. His face was serious. "I never owned a Lucario in my life. Sure, there's this one in our team back at the mansion, but he's not even mine."
Pichu's eyes dilated. "I-I can't believe I'm hearing this!" he said. "Chris, what happened to you before we died that made you say this?"
"…Nothing," Chris said. There was an odd sense of solitude he felt in his mind. "Why are you guys saying I have a Lucario? I'd most certainly cherish the very thought, but sadly, I don't have one."
"Chris, this isn't right," Ike said, looking serious. "You do own one; a Lucario that can destroy an entire mountain with a single fist!"
"A Lucario so huge that can stare at a big monster at eye level while he can stare down at you!" Ness added.
"A Lucario so powerful that can outright kill other Pokémon with just a sneeze of his!" Pichu added.
"A Lucario you spent a lot of time with that never left your side," Fox added.
"What?" Chris muttered. "Are you seriously saying all that? And for that matter, aren't you taking things a bit too far with those descriptions?" he asked. "If I ever had a Lucario like that, I would probably take on the Sinnoh League with just that one Pokémon!" Fox grabbed the teen's head and shook it a bit. "Stop that!"
Fox pulled back his hands. "Something is awfully wrong with you, Chris," he said. "You'd never say such things about Lucario that way."
The teen looked saddened. "What are you trying to say?" he asked.
"He means that you aren't being yourself," Ike said. "You're…suffering from some kind of effect."
"…" Chris embraced himself a bit. "How strange that you're saying all this to me… But…but…" he shook his head, "why…why does it really feel like I'm missing something?"
"That's because you know you have a Lucario like that!" Pichu said.
"…But I don't…" The Smashers sighed in defeat.
It was extremely odd that Chris had forgotten about his Lucario so suddenly. The four Smashers could never think about Chris without indirectly thinking about the Aura Pokémon. The two were inseparable after all, so there was no doubt that the teen was suffering from some case of amnesia.
"(I don't understand who this Lucario person is,)" Neku thought as the Shibuya Crew watched confused at the event. "(…But if his group is trying so hard to make him remember, then he must be suffering from amnesia…like I am.)"
Soren pressed his brow. "One oddity after another," he commented. "I just wish I could take Ike back to Mist so she'd stop sending those letters, but alas, she's coming to the mansion."
Ike looked at his partner. "So who's this Mist person?" he casually asked.
The Branded stared into empty air until he looked sideways at the mercenary. "…Tell me you just didn't ask that," he said.
"But I'm serious, Soren," Ike said. "Who's Mist?"
Soren wasn't taking the whole being dead-yet-alive thing too well. He was stressed that they were in such an unknown predicament that he was letting everyone guide him around the weird-looking city with skyscrapers and funnily-dressed people walking around the streets. Now, Ike had the nerve of asking such a dumb question. "(Now, don't you jump to conclusions yet,)" Soren thought as he gave Ike a wary glare. "(He must've hit his head while wandering around this strange place. Yes, it must be it…) She's your little sister, Ike," Soren said calmly. "The sister you hold very dear to you, since she's the only one who's related to you by blood."
"Really?" Ike asked. "I never had any siblings."
"…Okay, this is extremely ridiculous," Soren said. "Ike, you have a little sister."
"No I don't."
"You do!" Soren raised his voice a bit. "How could you say this to me with such a straight face? Tell me you're joking!"
"But I'm not joking!" Ike said. He was getting looks from his group. "You guys, you believe me, right?"
"No," Chris said. "You definitely have a little sister named Mist…"
"What? That can't be it…" Ike shook his head. "Yet…it does feel like there's something I vaguely remember from the past…"
Soren glared. "Tell me you at least remember the company!" he said.
"Yeah, I do," Ike said. "There's Titania, you, Oscar, Boyd, Rhys, Rolf, and the others…but I don't recall who Mist is."
"Good… You haven't forgotten about them," Soren said. "But still, what foolishness is this?"
Unbeknownst to the group, they were being watched by a mysterious figure that spied on them from outside, on the right corner of the restaurant's window. It was the same person that had appeared behind the statue of Hachiko two days ago. "Huh, it seems their memories in particular aren't that easy to take away," he said, flashing an amusing smile. "It's too bad not many Players have a powerful force of will…especially him," he said as he eyed Neku. The figure chuckled and walked into an alley. "I'll see how this plays out. Maybe perhaps they can override the Producer's seal…"
Back at the establishment, the Onett boy sighed. "Ugh, this is just great," Ness said. "Both Chris and Ike have amnesia."
"Neku does too," Shiki intruded.
"…Wait…." Fox looked shocked. "…If they suddenly lost those memories in particular, wouldn't that mean that we…" He looked at Chris. "Chris, start telling me stuff I should know!"
"What? Uh…" Chris stammered a bit. "…You do know who Falco is?"
"A lazy bastard who can get the job done when he puts his mind to it," Fox said. "Also, he's my best friend."
"Okay, what about Slippy?"
"My team's mechanist who develops some amazing tech for us to use," he said.
"My father's old friend who recently got a promotion and got to be general for the Cornerian Army."
Fox knew about his father, so there was no point for Chris to ask about James. "How about Wolf?" Chris asked.
The vulpine grimaced. "Some guy I want to get rid of forever and yet keeps tabs on me all the time for some weird reason I don't know," he said. Chris knew the truth, though.
There was one person Chris didn't mention. He felt this was it. "…Do you know who Krystal is?"
"…" Fox stared. "…You got me. I don't know who that is."
"Oh no," Ness said. "She's your ex!"
"Whoa there," Fox said mildly shocked. "I haven't considered getting hooked up with somebody yet…but if you're true about that… Damn," he muttered, grunting a bit. "That name does make something in my mind react…"
Ness looked at Pichu. "You know you have a best friend in a Pikachu, right?" he asked.
"U-uh," Pichu looked worried. "There's a Pikachu in our team, but I hardly know him."
"Not you too!" Ness groaned. "Okay, try telling me stuff!"
Pichu was a bit nervous that he couldn't remember anything about Pikachu, but he focused on Ness. "Let's see… You know Lucas, right?" he asked.
"Of course I do," Ness said. "He's sort of my clone when it comes to skills…"
"Yes, yes," Pichu said. "Um, do you remember your personal friends?"
Ness looked up to think. "There's Poo the Prince of Dallam, Jeff the genius of the team, and Paula Polestar," he said. "I know the first two very well, but Paula doesn't even have anything special in her. She was kind of like a blank person."
"…I think you really forgot stuff about Paula," Pichu said.
"Aww," Ness groaned and lowered his head.
Ike twisted his mouth and a bit, and then he turned to Soren. "Soren, what about you?" he asked. "Do you feel something is missing?"
"Hmm…" Soren wondered. "…There's not much I can find, sadly."
"C'mon, there's got to be something," Ike said. "Maybe you know somebody very well."
"In that case, I'm going to say that I don't know you very well," Soren said. "In fact, I only talk to you because you're the leader of the company."
"What the…" Ike got closer to Soren to whisper something to him. "Soren, don't you remember I saved you from starving to death?"
"No," Soren said. "Why would I starve to death? I did appear before your father when I was all alone, and he offered me shelter."
"But I was the one who did that!"
"You never did that."
Ike pulled back and sighed. "Soren here has forgotten all about me," he said. "The only thing he knows is that I'm the leader of the Greil Mercenaries, but nothing else."
Shiki mumbled a few things. "You know, guys…" she began, "maybe this is exactly what Mr. Hanekoma meant…"
Rhyme recalled the event and nodded. "He did say that Players come to the Game in exchange of the one thing they value the most as their entry fee," she explained. "That means…all of you lost very precious memories to participate in the Game…and it's possible that Beat, Neku, Shiki, and I got our most valuable aspects taken away." She smiled. "If you ask me, I don't feel that there was anything lost in my mind."
Rhyme never saw Beat looking away with a strange look full of guilt.
Shiki looked down, sighing depressed. "I…I rather not talk about my entry fee," she said. "It's just… It's just not going to make me feel good, okay?" Pichu was tempted to ask her what it was. Out of respect, he didn't do it.
Neku knew his memories were his entry fee. "My memories are surely my entry fee," he said. "Nobody knows me…so I can't tell what I lost."
Chris grimaced at the weird chain of events. Still remembering that each one of them had lost something important, he didn't remember having an almighty Lucario at all. To distract himself, Chris looked to Soren. There was a matter he needed to ask him… "Soren…"
"Yes?" Soren asked, turning to the teen.
"There was something that's been bugging me," Chris said. "…How did you die?" Soren blinked and looked away. "I…I heard the mansion had been attacked by a Subspace Bomb before I died…"
"WHAT?!" the other Smashers said aloud, staring bewildered at the teen. The Shibuya Crew gave them weird looks.
"How did that even happen?!" Ness asked.
Chris gulped. "I-I don't know if the others managed to stop the bomb in time or if there was EVEN a bomb to begin with," he said. "That's out of the question so don't ask me about it. I don't really know…" He stared at Soren. "…But Soren…he was there at the mansion…"
"…Wait, wait, wait," Fox said, looking serious. "Chris, are you implying that a Subspace Bomb killed the rest?"
"T-that's impossible!" Pichu said. "Those bombs only suck pieces of the world into the Subspace! They don't kill!"
"Yeah, how do you explain that, Chris?" Ness asked. "Are you thinking that Soren got killed by a bomb?"
"Ugh…" Chris mumbled. "I just don't know…but I did hear from the villains that they dropped a Subspace Bomb on the mansion when I got kidnapped…"
"…You got kidnapped?" Fox asked. "And then they killed you?"
"(…Oh dear goodness… I never told them much about that part…)" Chris realized. "U-uh, yes… I got kidnapped, but I want to know from Soren about that Subspace Bomb!" he said, trying not to talk much about the entire odyssey he went through. Luckily, their eyes gazed at Soren…
Soren was looking hesitant.
"…Soren?" Ike said, budging Soren a bit. "Hey, Soren, is something wrong?"
"…" Soren shook his head. "…I don't remember how I died."
"…Aww!" Ness groaned. "For the love of-! Why is everybody here having severe amnesia issues now?!" he complained. "You! Are you sure you don't remember anything?"
The Branded grunted. "Listen," he said. "I do remember that I was alive," he confirmed. "I vividly remember being called to that command room place where we were informed that you, Chris, had been kidnapped by the enemy."
The teen looked down. Fox patted his back.
"After that…" Soren shook his head, "…my memory went blank. There wasn't anything else that I could remember after that."
"Oh no…" Chris muttered. "How could this be? I hoped Soren would know about the Subspace Bomb…"
"My apologies," Soren said. "It seems that was another 'entry fee' those Reapers took out from me. The words 'Subspace Bomb' do right in my head…"
"Yet there's no way to tell if a bomb was sent there," Ike said. "This is such a big bind we're in…"
Fox's look stiffened. "And that's not the only bind, and I'm not talking about participating in the Reapers' Game," he said. When Chris looked at him, the teen knew what he was going to ask. "Chris… Why would they kidnap you in the first place?"
Chris sighed. "…They tried to have my brain's knowledge uploaded into Tabuu's conscience," he said. "They…" Chris gasped mentally when he remembered there were four native Shibuya citizens hearing their every single word. Also, Soren was thrown into the mix. None of the five knew about the idea that every world was a video game. "…And by knowledge, they wanted to suck the life out of me by transferring it to Tabuu, and then he would use it to easily conquer the other worlds."
"…Oh…" Ness knew what Chris meant. "That makes sense…"
"Oh yeah…" Fox nodded. "I suppose that'd be a good reason to kidnap you…"
Ike nodded as well. "But I'm curious…" he trailed off. "How did you manage to escape by yourself, Chris?" he asked. Chris's eyes widened. "You were taken to their headquarters. Security must have been really tight in there…"
"U-uh…" Chris tried to come up with something… He could lessen the big lie he said by adding a few truths. "…You're…not going to believe this, but… The Ancient Minister…he helped me to escape."
"…O…kay…" Ness muttered. "…That's…really not convincing me…"
"I-it's the truth," Chris said. Suddenly, he realized he could try to make them listen if he didn't bring the big reveal yet. "The Ancient Minister was secretly trying to betray Tabuu all along."
Fox crossed his arms. "Well… I kind of believe you there, Chris," he said, to which Chris gasped. "But…I don't see how that bastard wanted to betray Tabuu judging HE KILLED US OFF IN THE FIRST PLACE." Even though Fox hadn't raised his voice, he heavily emphasized the last words with a bit of burning anger. The Shibuya Crew stared, a few of them gasping after hearing him out.
Things looked wrong, Chris thought. The vulpine's words did make the other four Smashers look a bit pissed. "(Should I continue?)" Chris wondered. "(I…I have to. I don't want to keep lying… It's just too much for me to bear! But still, I don't want to bear their collective anger, either!) I saw it through my own eyes!" Chris argued. "The Ancient Minister was just being manipulated by Tabuu to gain his trust so that he could plan the perfect time to stab his back!"
"Urk…" Fox looked away.
"Please, you have to believe me!" Chris pleaded. "If you can't believe me, then at least hear my entire story!"
Ness rubbed his forehead. "I-I think we can let you continue," he said. "Really, you don't like to lie… It's just incredible, you know? After all, we helped that guy before he…before he left us again."
"Thank you…" Chris said, sighing in relief. "The story gets a tad weirder, though…" The World Traveler explained every single detail about the escape that took place in the facility. He also tossed the facts that Wario and Dedede had a change of heart and joined the escape team, along with the rescue of Mr. Game & Watch. The Shibuya Crew kept listening without saying much of a word, but Neku had an eyebrow raised all the time. He thought Chris was making up a rich storybook.
However, Chris left out the fact that he had been arguing with the Ancient Minister. As long as he didn't mention that, it was going to be safe to keep them from getting angry at him…
"…And then the cannon from the Halberd shot me down after I pushed Kirby out of the way," Chris finished. "And that's how I ended up here…"
"…Uh…wait…" Pichu muttered confused. "…Chris…"
"There was something that doe-"
The World Ends With You – Economical Shoppers
Ken Doi came in, handing two bowls of hot ramen to Beat and Rhyme. "Food's ready," he said with a warm smile. "I'll go get the other orders." Once he handed over everyone's bowls, he said, "Enjoy my works of art!"
Getting out from the confusion, the sweet aroma of the fresh ramen filling the air summoned many smiles. It was an exquisite-looking soup with fine noodles tendered to perfection, pork meat thin and juicy, thick cubes of meat floating on a corner, a few spices sprinkled on another corner, and the overall picture of the dish a sight to behold. Pichu dropped the question entirely and rejoiced when he saw his big bowl of ramen right in front of him.
"Are we sure this isn't heaven?" Ness asked. And they all dug in.
Once more, the air became lively as they all ate among each other. The ones who struggled to get used to use chopsticks to eat had some unfortunate accidents, but they caught on quickly.
The group had a fair share of laughs. Some snickered at Ness getting a piece of meat stuck between his teeth and never telling him about it. Beat nearly died laughing when Fox had a quite long noodle hanging down from the very center of his mouth. Just like Ness, he didn't notice until Chris told him about it. Fox slurped it all in one go.
A little time passed, and they finished their meals with satisfied looks on their faces. Much to their chagrin, a surge of pain ran through their left hands. Taking out their phones, the Shibuya Crew read the next mission…
Defeat the master of A-East. You have 360 minutes. Fail, and face erasure. -The Reapers
"That's an awful lot of time," Rhyme noted. "This mission is surely a hard one."
"Aah!" Shiki let go of her phone by accident. The phone slid back to the floor. Being close to it, Neku looked down at the screen. "Don't touch it! I got it!"
Pichu managed to see a picture on Shiki's cell phone. He hopped down and stared at it. Shiki felt that a secret was revealed, and there was no going back to deny it any longer. She picked it up. "(Nice photo,)" Neku said as the others got up from their seats and approached them.
"...You looked?" Shiki asked.
"The screen was face up..."
"Oh yes," Ness said. "So, were you staring at that photo all those times back then?"
Shiki sighed. "I guess I shouldn't try to hide this any longer…" She forced a smile and showed them the photo. There was Shiki and a black-haired girl wearing round glasses posing happily for a photo. The photo itself had orange flowers as a frame. Shiki hesitated a bit to point at the brown-haired girl. "That's my friend. Her name is Eri. She was in my class," she said.
Neku said, "So all those times-"
"Yeah. I was looking at this," Shiki confessed. "I was sort of drawing courage out of this photo to pull myself together… You could say I'm trying so hard to win this to reunite with Eri."
"That's so sweet of you," Rhyme remarked.
"And you yell at me for keeping secrets!" Neku said. "It's just a photo."
"It's not just a photo!" Shiki suddenly snapped. "This is a very precious thing to me. I'm glad it wasn't…" There was an odd pause. "…I'm glad it wasn't taken away as my entry fee…" Somehow, Pichu couldn't shake the feeling that Shiki was hiding something else.
"Yo!" Beat piped up. "The mission! It says somethin' about this master of A-East."
"Oh, we were there," Rhyme said. "It's just right next corner from here. Let's go and defeat it."
The group nodded and headed out. As soon as they left the shop area, Ken Doi never saw that they vanished for the living walking around the street…
"…But…" Pichu muttered to himself. "…But Chris didn't say anything about Kirby being there…"
A-East – Concert Stage
The World Ends With You – Game Over
As it turned out, the time they were given looked suspicious enough to imply that the mission wasn't easy. The team found out that they needed to repair the lights of the concert hall in order to find the master depicted in the mission. They spent about five and a half hours going to other places to fulfill certain requirements to convey a message to the living about repairing the broken lights.
"So, did you get how to imprint memes into people's minds?" Rhyme asked.
The young blond and her punk partner knew a few more tricks under their sleeves. The group was taught about memes and imprinting.
"Memes are words related to the mission that help players to solve it, and those words are sent to your phones to use them," Fox recalled.
"And imprinting is the Player Pin's ability to shove a meme into a person who is alive so that they remember doing something they need to do," Ness said. "It's like telepathy, really."
"Yes, you got the gist of it," Rhyme said as they entered the dark concert hall. They walked close to each other to avoid getting lost. The guy in charge of repairing the lights had been influenced by the party to go back to his job and find a piece needed to repair the short circuit for a concert to start that same day. "It's just a matter of time before we find the master of A-East."
"Punk's going down!" Beat said, smacking a fist into his palm.
Neku took out a white pin that had no images on top. Shiki looked at it. "Oh yeah, Mr. Hanekoma gave that to us," she said. "We should try that out!"
Rhyme, Fox, Ness, and Ike took out four more white pins. "I don't see how these are going to help us out," Ike said.
"Well, remember what he said?" Shiki asked.
Statue of Hachiko
Not shortly after the previous flashback, Hanemoka was seen talking to the group of ten. "OK, Phones!" he said enthusiastically. "In honor of your growth as a human being, and a friendship saved from the rocks, I'm gonna give you a little advice, and a little gift." He rubbed his chin while grinning. "Make sure you remember it all."
Neku was a bit ticked off that Hanekoma was calling him with a nickname. "(OK, but... First, could YOU remember my name?)" he thought. Voicing out his thoughts, Neku said, "Um, Mr. Hanekoma. It's Neku. Not 'Phones'."
The barista laughed heartily. "Oh, right! Sorry, Neku. My bad," he said. "I got it now."
The man held out a hand. "So let's start with some Q & A. You got questions? I got answers," he said.
Widening his eyes, Ike stepped forward. "You seem very reliable," he said. "So please, tell us about this Reapers' Game."
Hanekoma nodded as he scratched the back of his neck. "To win the "Reapers' Game"...you must complete seven missions, one each day," he said.
Shiki looked unsure. "So...is it true that if we don't, we'll be erased?" she asked.
The barista grinned. "Well, only if you fail, to be precise. You two aren't the only Players. If any one Player completes the mission, you all do," he said.
"But we can't just slack off," Fox said. "We gotta play by the rules and do the missions. If we can do it and no one else can…"
"Then we all wind up erased," Neku said.
Hanekoma nodded. "Furthermore, the Reapers grade the Players," he said.
"Grade us?" Ness said. "How?"
"Eh, they have a weird system," Hanekoma said. "They even go as far as to grade your performance in battle. Some Reapers are put on that job to see how well you do. Here between us, try achieving a Star Rank in battles! It's proof that you and your partner can fight together without fail!" he encouraged. "Naturally, you get points for finishing a mission."
"But..." Shiki trailed off, "what are the grades for?"
Hanekoma grimaced as he scratched the back of his neck once more. "On the seventh day, you'll know," he said, bringing his hand back down to his side. "Just clear the missions. You'll be glad you did," he said, looking serious.
Fox narrowed his eyes. "You aren't purposely hiding stuff from us, are you?"
"Now where's the fun in that, fox guy?" Hanekoma asked. "But rest assured. Things won't go wrong as long as your support each other."
Neku stifled a small grunt, but he focused on the next question. "What are Reapers?" he asked.
The barista grinned. "Their main job are running the Game, and testing the Players. So like that sister who gave you trouble before, they'll get in the Players' way from time to time," he explained.
Shiki looked disgusted just remembering Uzuki. "She was such a creep…" she said.
"And a Pinky cow!" Beat added, shaking a fist. Hanekoma didn't know where he got the cow part from.
Neku continued with the question. "So they're like some kind of group?"
"Yes!" Hanekoma congratulated Neku. "Very sharp, Phones." Neku grunted annoyed at the nickname. "You've seen the guys in red, by the walls? They're Reapers, too."
"Whoa, really?" Shiki asked. "But the guys by the walls never attacked us."
"Not all Reapers are cut from the same cloth," Hanekoma said. "Some are Harriers; others are just Support. The wall Reapers are Support. They won't attack you. All they do is issue conditions to pass the walls."
"So, in that case," Chris began, "whenever we see those guys in red, we're expected to cross the walls they guard."
He nodded, looking serious right after. "The Harriers, on the other hand, hunt Players for a living. It's not just their job, either. If they don't dispatch Noise, erase Players, and score points... THEY get erased," he emphasized.
"Wow," Rhyme commented. "They're also in the same predicament as we are…"
"Yeah, but they have benefits," Shiki said.
"But you do have benefits!" Hanekoma said grinning. "You're not tied to the job! You can make it out of here just fine if you put your minds into it!"
"So we're their lunch," Neku summarized.
"Everybody's gotta eat, kiddo..."
Pichu shook his head. "It's kind of sad that they can get erased, too," he said. "I feel sorry for them…"
"Eh, they absolutely love making people like you suffer, though," Hanekoma said. "Whatcha wanna ask me?"
Neku knew a good question. "Mr. Hanekoma...Who are you?" he asked. The group nodded in approval to the question. It was a bit weird that a man like Hanekoma knew so much about the Game.
"What, me? Pfft..." Hanekoma chuckled as he thought about the answer. "All right. I'll tell you a little," he said. "The name's Sanae Hanekoma. Born March 3, blood type A. I'm a Pisces and one hip café barista, mista."
"Oh, that's really nice. I would like to drink some coffee about now," Fox said until he recalled the answer once again. "Wait, that wasn't exactly what he meant, I think."
But Hanekoma went on. "I'm a big gambler. My favorite word: 'windfall.' 'Natto' gets my tummy rumbling," he said as he playfully rubbed his stomach. He was given so many weird looks.
"Okay, now this is getting a bit to-"
"As for my physical dimensions…" Hanekoma went on. Rhyme shyly blushed and looked away.
"Stop," Neku said annoyed. Hanekoma wasn't going to answer the question truthfully. "Please."
Shiki looked up, wondering about the man. "So you run a café?" she asked. "I thought you said you were a guardian."
Hanekoma put a finger on his chin, grinning wide at them. "The café's like a hobby," he said before laughing loudly. "Totally hip, right?"
"Yeah! I think it's cool," Shiki said. Neku was a bit confused at the development of the conversation, and so did a few others behind his back.
"Drop by my place if you get the chance," he suggested. "I'll give you the best cuppa joe you ever had in exchange for cash money, of course." He chuckled loudly.
"I could use some coffee now and then," Fox said smiling.
Ness narrowed his eyes at the man. "(This guy is not normal… There's something about him that doesn't make me feel all that well,)" he thought. "(He's too cheery. I can't read him well…)"
"(What kind of invite is that?!)" Neku thought.
Suddenly, Soren stepped forward. "You seem reliable enough, Hanekoma," he said. Ike shook his head, thinking that the Branded was going to bring the man's positive attitude down in one shot. "Tell me something about this place…" A living person walked through him. "Why is it that the people walking around the area can't see us? Why do they pass through us like it's nothing?"
"Cuz' all of you area dead, you included, kiddo," Hanekoma pointed out. Soren looked dully at him. "Yup, pretty dead yet alive and kicking. It's not so bad, though. You can still get a second chance at life if you win this."
"This...IS Shibuya, right?" Shiki supported Soren's question.
" You bet," Hanekoma said nodding. "But not your Shibuya. It's an alternate Shibuya we call the 'UG.'"
"As in 'Underground,'" Hanekoma pointed out. "The UG is one big chessboard for the Reapers' Game."
"You expect us to believe that?" Neku asked.
"Well, when he puts it that way…" Rhyme trailed off.
"Crazy, yo," Beat said. "Just crazy and hard to believe."
Mr. Hanekoma grinned at them. "The Shibuya you came from is called the RG. The 'Realground,'" he said. "The RG and UG exist in the same space. What you see is the RG - the real deal."
Soren saw other people walking through his body. "Two spaces of time that share the same setting but are standing on different dimensions… That is quite odd, I might say," he said. "But alas, it doesn't matter much to me. I wish to solve this oddity and find our way back home as soon as possible."
"Yup, that's the spirit, kiddo," Hanekoma said. "Let me tell you a few more things about who rules this place…"
"Oh…" Ness trailed off in thought. "You know, the question about asking for the boss of this Game never crossed my mind. So, who runs this place?"
"The UG is run by the Composer," Hanekoma said. "The Composer is Shibuya's supervisor."
"Shibuya has a supervisor?" Neku wondered. He was starting to stop believing in Hanekoma. "Right."
"I can't say anything more on that subject," he said. "It's classified, you dig?"
"What?" Chris said. "You just casually say something about this Composer person and you stop it here?"
"Yeah!" Hanekoma said in a peppy tone.
"…Suddenly, your reliability has been severely reduced," Fox commented with a flat look on his eyes.
Hanekoma chuckled. He took out from his pockets five white pins. "Now, for that gift I promised..." he trailed off a bit before he gave every single pair of Players one of the pins he held, "in honor of these two here making up!" he added, staring at Neku and Shiki.
Ness stared at the pin. "Gosh, this place really has a thing for pins," he said. "But what's the big deal with this one, though? It's all blank…"
"This one's a little different. It takes two people to use," he said. The group stared intently at him. "It only works against the Noise, when any two of you ten are in complete sync. The more you get in sync, the more you Fuse your energy, the stronger the psych this puppy will unleash," he explained in detail
Fox grinned down at the pin, clutching it in his fist. "Now I see why these pins are so popular around here," he said.
"Hey! The people who are alive can't use them to attack or something," Rhyme said. She and Beat looked down at her blank pin. "Thank you, Mr. H."
"I'm warnin' ya," Hanekoma said with a grin. "It's not just about fusing. There are some…important details you'll find out on your own. It all depends on your partner."
Right after, Chris felt something unlock in his mind. Similarly, Pichu, Shiki, and Beat yelped a bit. The five exchanged confused glances. "Let me guess… All of you felt something right now, right?" Shiki asked.
"Y-yes," Pichu said. "It's weird… There's some kind of explanation about something I didn't know about that just…appeared out of nowhere…"
"Huh…" Shiki rubbed her chin. "Well, I got something, too. It's about guessing what cards with symbols on them are hiding face down. I…need to pull a combo to use cards and guess right to get synched with Neku." Neku stared at her with an odd look.
"Yo!" Beat said. "Says here I need ta…uh…match deck cards together?" he said. "Eh, I'll pull this out just fine…"
"Now I'm awfully concerned," Rhyme muttered.
"Um…" Pichu trailed off. "In my case…it says I need to recharge my electricity at the right amounts to do the fusion…"
"You're so getting hurt if you overcharge…" Ness muttered. "Which means…I'm getting hurt, too… Dang…" Pichu chuckled nervously. "Don't you fail me!"
"As for me…" Chris began, "it's something about using the right elements against the opposing elements that come against me."
Fox winced a bit. "Things just get weirder and weirder and weirder," he muttered.
Ike noticed that Soren didn't have a partner. "Oh, Soren…" Ike began, getting Soren's attention, "I need you to form a pact with me."
"What?" Soren asked. "What does that mean? We're in some kind of pact already."
"This is different," Ike said, holding out his hand to the Branded. "Grab my hand and you'll see what I mean with this."
"…" Soren looked flatly at Ike's hand for a moment. Slowly, he grabbed it.
The two suddenly saw flashy lights in the background as their consciences linked together. For a moment, the one standing opposite to the other felt that they were inside the other's body, staring at their own body. A few seconds later, the two regained their composure.
"Ugh…" Soren closed his eyes, pulling back his hand. "I didn't feel quite well back there…"
"Me neither…but it's gone now," Ike said. "I think that makes us both partners…"
"…" Soren opened his eyes, blinking a bit. "Huh… Suddenly, there was something inside my mind that just awakened," he said. "It's about attacking the weakest units with my wind magic."
"Alright, I'm back to being confused again," Ike said.
"Oh, don't make those long faces now," Hanekoma said. "You'll do just fine! Just relax and you're going feel like a peach." He turned to Neku. "You've got talent, Phones. You can use a much wide range of psychs than the others. Learn to cooperate, and you might be able to use this one, too." He looked at the others. "That goes to the whole lot of ya, too!"
"Yeah!" Shiki agreed, turning to Neku. "You're great at psychs. Way better than me."
"You think?" Neku asked, accidentally grinning a bit. While Shiki nodded, he thought, "(Trying very hard to get buddy-buddy with me now, aren't you?)"
"There, see? You take good care of that," Hanekoma said.
"Let's try and get to work, Neku!" Shiki said. She looked at the other eight. "You guys, too! Let's do this right!"
Neku grabbed the tip of his hair. "(But...I can't use it by myself. I'm supposed to sync up with HER?)" he asked in complete disgust. He turned away. "(Not happening. What good's a powerful pin if I can't use it?)"
"Just to be clear..." Hanekoma said, interrupting Neku's thoughts. "You need more than talent to use that. It takes somebody with style...if you catch my drift."
Neku turned around and nodded. "I'll use it," he said. "And please... My name is Neku. Not 'Phones.'"
Hanekoma laughed loudly. "Oh, right!" he said. "Sorry 'bout that. I got it now, Phones!"
As Neku grunted loudly, the other nine laughed for a bit at him.
End of flashback
A-East – Concert Stage
"He was such a nice person," Rhyme said smiling.
"And really bad with names," Neku said.
"Hush you, Phones," Ike said.
"Want me to grab that sword and shove it up you-"
"HEY! Let's all concentrate on the mission!" Fox interrupted. "They're about to fix the lights of the hall!"
The group looked north where they heard an unsettling fact. After having run all over the place to convince an intern to help repair the lights, they heard from him that nothing was turning on. The darkness of the stage still persisted, much to the group's dismay.
"That's not good," Ness said. "They can't fix the lights?"
"What's wrong now?" Neku asked. "We made that guy get the fuse…"
"I dunno," Shiki said. "Maybe the fuse wasn't the problem."
"Oh, don't give me that," Beat said, shaking a fist. "We worked our butts off for this, yo!"
Suddenly, Neku gasped after spotting a rather large shadow appearing out of nowhere. The sound of wings flapping made everyone look up to see red eyes glowing in the darkness. A small screech echoed… "What in the hell?!" Ike said, drawing out his sword.
"Something's in here!" Neku said, getting ready for a fight. "It's coming! Get ready!" A loud screech made them all get in position. Although everything was dark, the concert hall was divided in two…
The World Ends with You – Give Me All Your Love
The group of ten was already used to fighting Noise that the first impression of getting dragged into battle wore off quickly. Now, the ones sent to battle took it with a little grain of salt, meaning they didn't look all that perplexed.
On the lower plane which was the floor of the concert hall, Neku bobbed his head a bit as he listened to the music of his headphones, Ness waved a finger that controlled a small sparkle of PSI energy, and Fox grinned as he tightened his fingerless gloves while looking to the sides for enemies. On the upper plane which was the iron beams right above the floor, Shiki busied herself by staring at the picture on her phone as Mr. Mew danced beside her, Pichu hopped from one foot to another with a smile, and Chris took in a few breaths to relax himself.
The other four were nowhere to be found. What Uzuki had told them about not being able to fight as a big group proved true before, but there was nothing to fear. They pulled through the battles just fine.
Now, though, a new problem came.
The battlefield was pitch black on the lower plane with a looming figure flying around. The upper plane, meanwhile, had a little bit of illumination due to the wires of electricity being chewed on by dark-and-red bats that swarmed around the trio standing on the iron beams.
"Watch yourself," Neku said. The battle started.
Shiki gasped when she noticed a swarm of bats chewing on the wires. There were two sets of wires, one of each side. "There are bats up here trying to cut off the wires!" Shiki said.
"And there's some huge monster flying around the set down here," Fox said, seeing a darkened silhouette screeching at them from a spot. Neku wasted no time and called forth a trail of fire that went after the monster. The monster didn't do a thing once the flames engulfed its body since it spread out its wings to dissipate the fire. "Dang, this one doesn't get hurt easily."
"Maybe we need to beat the bats up here?" Chris wondered.
"That should be it!" Pichu agreed. Suddenly, a few of the bats pushed themselves away from the wires to fly around the three. "H-here they come!"
On the lower plane, Ness saw the monster's glowing eyes stopping in front of him. Suddenly, the monster slammed down its wings into him, sending Ness tumbling back in pain. "O-oww!" he groaned. Grunting, Ness shot a PK Fire to the monster's face. Despite the explosion of fire, the monster flew away. "Ugh, it's not hurting it!" Ness said.
"We better dodge that monster until we come up with some way to fight back!" Fox said. The trio on the lower plane dispersed.
Meanwhile, on the upper plane, the other trio faced off against the bats. Shiki kept ordering Mr. Mew to scratch a single bat flying in midair. Once she pumped up a fist with a jump, Mr. Mew delivering a scratching uppercut that pushed several bats away. "Go!" Shiki cheered.
"Oww, oww, oww!" Chris yelped in pain as three bats spun their bodies, turning their wings into cutting weapons that slammed against his back. Feeling the sting of pain, Fox felt damaged as well. "S-sorry, sir, but this job won't do much for me!" he told Fox as Chris changed to his Dragoon job, brandishing his spear. "These many bats won't do well for my magic spells… I have to fight at close range." Quickly, he turned around and stabbed a weakened bat through, watching it turn into black and white static that faded away.
Pichu lunged himself into the bats chewing on the cables. "You want some electricity? Here's some!" he said, calling forth a Thunder that struck him down and reached out for the monsters. The potency of the attack made the bats flee away as sparks flew off their bodies. They then stopped and turned around, not liking the fact their meal time had been interrupted by the yellow mouse. Pichu gasped and jumped down to the iron beams, suddenly being targeted by the bats. "H-help!"
"Oh no, you don't!" Shiki said, ordering Mr. Mew to go over the group of bats. The fashionista felt pain coursing through her since Neku had been attacked by the monster on the lower plane. "Neku, are you okay down there?"
"Yeah, I didn't see where this monster got to," Neku said. "We're trying to figure out an opening to attack, but this thing doesn't stop! Hurry up and swat those bats down! It's so hard to fight in the darkness!"
Mr. Mew delivered a scratching uppercut on the group of bats. Half of them faded away. Chris ran below the living doll and used the tip of his spear to cut through the other half of bats, getting rid of them. The left side was now devoid of bats chewing on the cables. The trio turned around and focused on the right side. "We cleared one side!" Chris said. "We're moving on to the next one!"
Fox flipped back from the monster's wings trying to impale his body. "I used Fire Fox on him earlier, but it didn't even budge," he pointed out. "Maybe the darkness is giving it some sort of perfect defense!"
"Then that's probably the reason why there are bats chewing the cables up here!" Pichu said as he rushed to the cables and called forth another Thunder. There were no props or anything he could use to fling with his pin. "W-we're almost done! Hang in there, Ness!"
"Lancet!" Chris shouted as he rushed forward with smoke dragons forming to his sides and stabbed the group of bats, draining their energy into his body. His vulpine partner felt a bit revitalized. The bats got angered by the attack that they shielded the cables while one was interrupting the electricity flow. "They're angry!"
There was a rush of energy that coursed through Fox. The vulpine felt something shake in his pocket. Taking the blank pin that he received from Hanekoma, the vulpine saw that it had an image. There were two Blasters shooting away. Grinning, Fox clutched the pin to activate its psych. "Chris, 100 shots! C'mon!"
"R-right!" Chris said.
The two planes suddenly merged together to allow the two Players to fight the group of enemies. Fox took out his Blaster and aimed at the group of bats as Chris was forced to change to his Space Mercenary job again, taking his own Blaster. The two fired a barrage of laser shots that pierced through the bats' bodies before they stood back-to-back, firing a hundredth laser that vaporized them all. They had used Fox's Lvl. 1 Combined Final Smash.
The planes separated, and the wires on top were saved from the bats that were protecting them. With the flow of electricity back in line, the lower plane became illuminated with light that revealed the monster before them. It was a gigantic yellow bat perched on an iron beam using its large red wings. Being a Noise, the bat's wings were demonic red outlines. "Damn, that thing is ugly," Ness said.
The bat Noise screeched loudly before Neku launched himself to it, slicing it apart with swift hand movements. After a long combo, the pin ran out of power, and Neku was forced to step back. "Hey, there are a few bats showing up!" Shiki informed them. "They're trying to chew the cables again!"
"Don't let them!" Ness said. "I just saw that this monster down here flinched in pain after Neku attacked it!"
"FIRE!" Fox shouted as he slammed himself against the bat using Fire Fox. Unlike last time, the monster screeched loudly as it was forced to fly around, wary of its prey's moves. Fox landed back on the floor and looked over his right shoulder. "Just as I thought, this monster is wide open when there's light!" he pointed out.
Neku felt a rush of energy coming from his pocket. He took out his Fusion pin. It had been charged up thanks to Shiki, and now it had an image. It was an image of two interlaced stars on top of each other. Feeling it was the right time, the loner clutched it.
Shiki felt the rush as well. As the planes merged together, the two Players leaped in each opposite direction. "Ready to die?" Shiki asked as Mr. Mew followed suit.
"Then die!" Neku said.
The background was filled with an orange light. The other two pair watched as Neku, Shiki, and Mr. Mew warped in and out at different places, slashing every single enemy in sight. The enemies tried to retaliate, but the trio's blows were pushing them back. As the damage escalated, the monstrous yellow bat screeched out in pain as its followers vanished into static. In a flash, the planes separated.
Due to the intensity of the attack, the yellow bat landed hard on the floor and covered itself with its enormous wings. It was stunned. "Look! It's not moving!" Ness said.
"This is our chance!" Fox said, holding out his glowing hand to call forth a trail of flames that engulfed the Noise. Unlike last time, the fire did make it twitch wildly.
The team of three worked good enough to send light pucks back and forth. Sadly, they weren't exactly being quick about it. Their attacks delivered constant double damage, but they never went above that mark. Regardless, it didn't stop any of the trio on the lower plane to keep attacking.
Ness suddenly collided hard against it using PK Thunder. The monstrous Noise shrieked as it crashed against a set of stereos in the background. Once Neku had stopped his barrage of slicing blows, the bat pulled itself up and called forth a swarm of red bats. The trio backed away as the bats warped into the upper plane and, once again, started chewing on the cables. The lights were down the moment they got perched onto the electricity. "Not good," Neku said. "We're back in the darkness."
"Then we just have to keep it going!" Shiki said.
Some time passed as the team above brought the bats down. However, it looked like more bats were swarming around, and thus their progress was a bit too slow for their tastes. "They just won't stop coming!" Pichu said just before three bats sliced his back. "A-ahh!"
"Ugh!" Ness felt a nagging pain coming to him. Knowing that Pichu was taking quite a beating that was passing over to him, the boy use the Cure Drink pin, making a can of soda appear. He quickly chugged its contents down his throat, recovering fifty percent of their lost health. Ness tossed the can away. "Good to know that food here isn't a waste to eat," he said.
Feeling quite a bit of pain, Fox decided to use one again. He chugged down the refreshing liquid into his mouth, and then his wounds healed up in a blink of an eye. Crushing the can with his hand, the vulpine tossed it over his shoulder. "Be careful up there, Chris!" he called out as he dodged the bat's wings in time.
"Aww, please!" Chris groaned. "Did I get hurt the most? I better pay more attention…"
Ness took out his Fusion pin. It was charged up completely with a picture of Pichu's silhouette covered in sparkling electricity. It was Pichu's Spark Bullet. Clutching the pin, Ness merged the two planes together. "Hey, Pichu, get a move on!" he said.
"Right, right!" Pichu said.
Due to Ness's small size to toss Pichu with a hand, the rodent jumped to Ness's side with a quick spin. The young Electric-type glowed with sparkling electricity, turning into some kind of human ball of sparks as he slowly fell down. Ness took out his bat and carefully aimed at the row of enemies before them. With a clean swing, Ness smacked the bat right onto Pichu's frame, and the Electric-type was blasted off with great force and a thunderous sound. The bullet of electricity pierced through the bats, erasing them from existence.
Once Pichu landed back on the floor, the two planes separated. The monstrous Noise became mesmerized by the lights turning on that it cringed and embraced itself in pain. "Again with that, huh?" Neku said, clutching the Pyrokinesis pin. He and Fox joined forces to call two trails of blazing fire.
Ness double jumped and used PK Thunder. The whirling ball of electricity moved around to his back, sending him blasting off to the Noise. With a mighty impact, the yellow bat screeched loudly and disappeared in a wave of black-and-white static. Now with their master gone, the bats swarming over the iron beams faded away.
"Yeah! That was great!" Shiki said before they were blinded by light.
The Reapers that were in charge to grade their progress watched the entire battle from the shadows without saying much. Reviewing their overall performance, the Reapers slapped a "B" grade on their battle result. "It could've been better," a Reaper said.
"Yes," another said. "They got a little bit too banged up."
"Not to mention they dragged the fight a little bit too long, too," a third one said.
"Also, that whiny boy annoyed me every single damn time a bat struck his back," the second one said, referring to Chris. Nodding to each other, the Reapers disappeared as the planes merged back together…
The World Ends with You – Underground
Having successfully defeated the Master of A-East, the six returned back to the dark concert hall right in front of the other four. "Geez! Talk about a heart attack!" Shiki said in shock.
"But why complain?" Ness asked. "We pulled through just fine." He looked at the timer on his hand. "…WE'RE NOT DONE YET!" he panicked loudly. The group gasped loudly and stared at their timers.
"That wasn't the master?!" Fox asked.
"Nope! Clock's still ticking!" Neku said in shock as he looked around.
"You're kidding!" Shiki exclaimed. "Then…where's the master?!"
The team had actually wasted a lot of time trying to solve the riddle that only twenty seconds were left. "W-we're almost out of time!" Pichu shrieked.
"Keep looking around!" Ike said. "That master must be somewhere in here!"
Hearing the sound of wings flapping by, Beat and Rhyme turned around and saw a yellow bat trying to make its escape from them. "Don't drop the ball, yo!" Beat said as he and Rhyme rushed to the bat. "Here's your 'master'!"
The two blonds lunged at the bat. Beat boarded his skateboard and smacked the wheels hard on the Noise while Rhyme followed by firing a small blast of energy that obliterated the Master of A-East for good. Exchanging small grins with each other, the two Players landed back on the floor. The timers disappeared from their hands, successfully completing the mission in the nick of time.
"PHEW!" they all sighed in relief, some of them letting out a small laugh afterward.
Beat and Rhyme walked to them with content looks. "Yo, looks like we made it," Beat said proud of himself.
"Yup!" Rhyme said with a giggle as she folded her arms behind her back. "The timer's gone now. Mission complete."
"Hey, that's my line," Fox muttered under his breath. He heard Chris chuckle next to him, and he playfully pushed the teen forward.
Neku overheard the technicians saying that the power was back. "Looks like they're in business," he said.
Knowing that there was going to be a concert, Rhyme looked doubtful. "This place is gonna fill right up," she said. "We should step outside for now." The group nodded and made their way out…
"One of Shibuya's shadier neighborhoods. The street winds past 'live houses' (concert spaces) and gothic-lolita boutiques."
A-East was indeed a shady place. It was almost deprived of the light of day seeing that the concert hall was not open to the idea of having a roofless top. The small buildings that stood across the concert hall's entrance were tall enough to shield the area from light. High above, cables were hanging down, which further blocked the sun's rays from entering. The overall look of the small area was good enough for the nearby gothic-lolita boutique to sell its extravagant products.
A small time passed as the team conversed about what happened in the mission, which involved Beat nearly shattering their eardrums with a few resounding "BWAAH!"s that forced a few of them to smack his head. They saw how people started to flood in the moment they had been told that the concert was going to take place after all. Smiling, Shiki said, "Look. The concert's starting."
"But still…" Ike trailed off. "…You know that 777 guy we met today? He was the leader of the band of the concert, right?" he asked. "How could he talk to us?"
Soren recalled the repulsive-looking punk. The moment the group returned to the concert hall area, the band leader spotted them and requested the ten to go find the technician in charge of the power maintenance. It was all too weird that they couldn't speak directly to the technician while they did so with 777. "'Cause he's a Reaper," Neku simply said. Shiki gasped in shock. "Mr. Hanekoma explained all this."
"Oh, yes…" Rhyme trailed off in thought. "Only Players and Reapers can see us. Everyone else…doesn't."
"That guy didn't look like he had a partner, either," Fox said, crossing his arms. "But if he was a Reaper…I wonder why he didn't attack us… I guess they're really making sure Players play the Game accordingly."
"Correct," Soren said. "That much we know. Unlike that ill-mannered Harrier Reaper girl that held me hostage yesterday, there seems to be some kind souls around…but let's not get carried away, thinking that the next Reaper we meet is going to be nice."
Rhyme slumped over a bit, looking distraught. "You think…we'll make it?" she asked concerned. "We barely got out of this mission just fine…"
"We'll make it," Neku said, surprising Rhyme's depressed mood. "No matter what!" he added, turning away.
The group was impressed that Neku said those words, but most of them knew he was irritated with the idea of being dead. The only one who couldn't tell the difference was Beat. "Heh. Think you can deliver, Phones?" he asked.
There it was again, the horrible nickname given to him by Hanekoma. Arching an eyebrow, Neku simply said, "Daisuke-"
"BWAAH!" Beat yelled at the top of his lungs. Ike, angry with the sudden outburst, punched the guy as softly as he could. "Oww!"
"Oh, sorry, but you deserved that!" Ike said. A few of them chuckled at the exchange.
"Well," Shiki said, "here's to good teamwork, everybody! If we keep working together, nothing can really go wrong!"
"Does that call for this, then?" Ike asked, holding out his hand in front of them. Staring at the hand, the group knew where he was going with.
"An all for one thing!" Beat said, rubbing the spot where he had been punched. Grinning, Beat placed his hand on top of Ike's. Rhyme giggled and did the same.
Unlike the three, the rest didn't want to go with it. It looked a little bit too much to do it. "I dunno…" Ness said unsure. "It's…kind of…weird, you know?"
"Aww!" Beat groaned. "You guys no fun! C'mon! Dontchu have the balls or what?"
"I-I would really ask you not to put it like that!" Chris complained.
"C'mon!" Rhyme encouraged with a look that hinted no malice whatsoever. "It's for some good encouragement!"
"U-um…" Shiki shyly joined them. "O-okay, I think I can do this if you want…"
"Well…" Pichu muttered before he climbed over Shiki's back and stepped on her arm, putting his little hand on the four, "if she's going to do it…" Shiki blushed.
Perhaps the magnitude of the embarrassment would lessen if more people joined, Chris thought. He joined the five. "I-I've never done this before," he admitted. "But there has to be a first time for everything, as they say…"
"Dude…that's sick," Beat said.
"Not really everything!" Chris shot back.
Seeing his partner had joined the little unsettling idea, Fox didn't want to be left behind. He begrudgingly put his right hand on theirs. "Alright, alright, I'm doing it," he said with a tone of embarrassment.
Soren noticed Ike was giving him a hopeful look. "You're not going to stop looking at me with that look if I don't do it too…" he muttered. Sighing, Soren went over and held out his hand.
"Fine," Ness said, standing on the tip of his feet to reach out for them. "This better end quickly, though!"
Noticing that Neku was the only one left, Shiki looked over at his back. Not wanting to be the only Player whose partner wasn't there for her, she looked a bit flustered. "Neku, come over here!" she said. "Don't let me do this without you!"
Neku turned around and saw the big circle. "…Oh, hell no," he muttered with an intent of murder.
It was a given he was going to refuse. The group exchanged a few looks and then ran over to his side. Startled, Neku tried to run away, but they grabbed his right hand forcefully, putting it down their hands to keep him from escaping. He grunted loudly as he saw their looks ranging from annoyance to amusement. The only one who was giggling was Rhyme. "Okay!" Rhyme cheerfully said. "I'm going to start this so nobody else feels bad about it."
"I feel bad being tied to this rubbish," Soren said.
"Seconded," Ness said.
Rhyme nodded. "All after me…" They moved down their hands. Half of them refused to join the chant.
"All for one, and one fo-"
The group of ten immediately lost consciousness, and they clumsily fell down on top of each other in very uncomfortable body positions. As their wide eyes stared at the very alive group of people storming inside the blaring concert hall, the whole day passed without their consent…
Meanwhile, in a dark place that faced a counter and several rows of wine glasses, there were a few shadow figures staring at a screen that displayed the ten dropped "dead" in A-East. One of the figures was a tall slender man who had long black hair that rested on his shoulders, wearing a white shirt under a long sleeved black tuxedo and black pants. On his neck, there was a set of red headphones that he almost never put them on his ears. He chuckled contently as he watched the ten from the relaxing spot that was his bar seat. "What a crew of Players," he commented.
One of the figures within the darkness of the ominous place walked forward. It was a young woman who gave very refined vibes of self-composure. The woman wore glasses over her watchful eyes, and she had long blond hair that was neatly combed and well-kept. Her black, sleeveless dress suggested that she was the kind of person who liked to act as a secretary of sorts. She wore long-heeled black stockings with refined white high heels. "Today six Players were erased, sir. That puts us at the 50% erased mark," she reported until she looked at the screen. "Oh… You're watching that bunch, I see."
"Yes, Konishi," the first said.
Mitsuki Konishi is a crafty and cold young woman. While she may not look like the part of a villain, Konishi is ranked among the highest in the Reaper hierarchy. Dutiful and very composed with an attitude of iron, Konishi assists the Conductor with reports of each day of the Reapers' Game while keeping a good eye on their team.
Konishi delicately fixed her glasses as the reflection of the screen appeared on them. "Sir, this might be a good question to ask right now, but why did you let these Players enter the Game in the first place?" she asked. "They do not even belong to Shibuya. However, they are not to be messed with. They clearly know each other…"
Her higher up chuckled as he crossed his legs, his stylish white boots almost touching the counter from below. "It was a little experiment that the Composer wanted us to try out," he said. "Their souls wandered into Shibuya, and he didn't want to waste the chance. I am intrigued myself, Konishi," he said as he turned to her. "The fact they know each other further supports the experiment."
"What are you implying?" she asked.
"The Composer wishes to see what could happen if more like them were to appear here out of nowhere," he said. "They can interact with the environment just fine. Their entry fees are a sight to admire, you know."
"Honestly, sir," Konishi said, stiffening her blank look, "what does the Composer hope to accomplish with this?"
"He never told me about that point," he said with a grin. "It won't matter much in the end, though. Let us see how the plot develops. They are still Players. Therefore, they play by our rules."
"Yes," Konishi said. "I wish I could be the Game Master of this week. Higashizawa is doing a fine job, but I fear he doesn't care much about these peculiar Players as much as we do…" She eyed the unconscious Shiki. "He only cares about that one."
Her superior fixed his own glasses. "Let him have his fun. He is doing excellently," he said. "I believe that concludes today's report?"
"Yes," she said nodding. "We have our regular meeting tomorrow. Same time as always, sir."
He chuckled darkly and interlaced his fingers as he rested his arms on the counter, watching as the Reapers he had sent to retrieve the Players dragged them away to a different location…
Shiki's Day 4 – Erased…?
The next day, the setting didn't change. It still showed the bar hidden in complete darkness. Konishi was meeting up with a new coworker who just arrived a little late; late enough to cause her to grimace. "Tick, tock, Minanimoto," she said. "You're nine minutes and forty-two seconds late."
The new figure that stood before her didn't come of his shadow, flashing a cocky grin. "Tick, tock yourself, Konishi," he said. "Why are we even here? I can think of a decillion better ways to spend our time…than by having MEETINGS. Right, Megs?"
Konishi didn't like Minanimoto to address their superior with such an insulting nickname. "You will address him as Mr. Kitaniji," Konishi said.
"It's fine," their superior said from behind Konishi's back. "Are we all here?"
"Hey, Megs," Minanimoto casually said. "Who's the bulldozer?"
Kitaniji, their boss, was standing next to a towering man who measured at least seven feet tall. This man looked very imposing, wearing a jacket that had several shades of gray ovals over a black shirt underneath. He had pale brown hair that resembled loose headlocks. Between his rather large hands, the man had a goat emblem right over his…crotch area over his pale blue pants. He wore baggy gray pants and large sneakers. His eyes were hard to see due to the suspicious shade that covered them.
"Meet Higashizawa," Kitaniji said, "this session's Game Master. He'll be handling my affairs in my stead."
Higashizawa nodded. "You do me a great honor, sir," he said. "Watch! I will turn this week's fracas into a fricassee!"
Minamimoto chuckled. "You planning to erase them, or EAT them?" he asked.
Kitaniji sighed. "Yes, crack your jokes. But his skill is proven," he said.
Konishi turned to the screen where the large group of ten was waking up in front of the 104 Building. "Now, sir, we got some matters to attend to," she said.
Minanimoto grinned wide as he saw the ten talking about how weird it was that people could walk through them. "Heh, so these are the random numbers that decided to show up along the problem, huh?" he asked. "Finding random numbers is my specialty."
"I see how you are getting excited there, but sadly, you are not this week's Game Master," Konishi said. Minanimoto burrowed his hands into his pockets. "It is, however, still unknown how these souls even wandered into Shibuya in the first place. We should probably be cautious, just in case something unexpected happens. Moreover, they have…fighting experience."
"But they're so zetta slow," Minanimoto commented. "Just wait! I'll divide them up, and then I'll subtract them until they're a bunch of lifeless zeroes!"
"Yes, yes, I understand," Konishi said. "Higashizawa is in charge, though. He excels in tactics, intel, willpower, decisiveness, performance, his Player erasure rate... He surpasses our expectations on every count. A man of sound judgment like Mr. Kitaniji would not choose him otherwise. And he knows how to cooperate unlike som-"
Minamimoto waved a hand, getting tired of the praise the large man was getting. "Cooperation is garbage," he said as he turned around, ready to leave. "Anyway, I'm out. This is subtracting from my arts and crafts time… Oh, but I'll look forward to work with those random numbers!" And then, he walked away, leaving a mildly frustrated Konishi behind.
"Wait just a-," Konishi grunted when the guy was gone from sight. "Mr. Kitaniji hasn't spoken yet!"
Kitaniji chuckled. "Let him do what he wants," he said. Konishi nodded. "Now, then... Higashizawa. You're doing very well."
Higashizawa grinned. "Thank you, sir!" he said. "Over half the Players have been erased. The plates have been licked... Dessert is imminent."
"Excellent," his boss said. "I look forward to it… But I also expect you to erase those ten you see before your eyes." He pointed at the screen. The group was now talking with each other while Neku stood several feet away from them, keeping his thoughts to himself. He was thinking that it was a dream that nobody in the living world could bother him at all. He debated if the dream would end once he won the Game. "The ones that do not belong to Shibuya are a threat. They can fight without using pins."
"Ah, unexpected ingredients with rare flavors," Higashizama said, smacking a big fist against his palm. "This is ought to make a surprise meal. Fear not, sir! I shall take care of these unruly Players… Especially, I have my eye on one of them." He was eyeing an upbeat Shiki as she petted Pichu's head with care.
"I expect you, as my proxy in the Game, to leave no Player unerased," Kitaniji said.
"The proof is in the pudding," Higashizawa said. Konishi was getting tired of his food-based puns by this point. It was the only point she thought was an annoying trait of him. "The pudding...of their doom."
The World Ends With You - Calling
Beat grinned wide once his cell phone rang. "Mission time, yo!" he said.
"Nothing the ten of us can't handle!" Shiki said.
"Yeah!" a few of them said as they read the next mission.
Reach Towa Records. No time limit. Fail, and face erasure. –The Reapers
"Hurray! No time limit or getting stung in our palms!" Pichu rejoiced until he reconsidered the mission's info. "…Wait… No time limit?"
"But...that's waaay simple!" Shiki said. "It's so weird that they're not giving us a time limit to worry about!"
Fox rubbed his chin. "It does sound too easy," he said. "Something's fishy about this… I just know it…"
Soren closed his eyes. "It's a trap," he said. "It is so painfully obvious that the Reapers are setting up a trap in that place they want us to reach. I suggest that we do not separate at all, or we might just face erasure for real."
Rhyme grimaced. "Towa Records is a ten-minute walk," she pointed out.
Beat rubbed his neck. "So we're just walkin' a couple blocks? Man. I was pumped for a brawl, yo!" he said.
"The less we fight those freaks of nature, the better," Ness said. "I don't want to keep fighting those demonic frogs and wolves. Also, those evil tadpoles that get stuck on your legs? Gross."
Neku walked to them. "(But this is too weird. Hundred yen says they've got something else up their sleeves,)" he thought.
"So, should we head down there?" Ike asked. "The only way we can complete this mission is by walking right into their trap."
"There's no other way," Soren said. "We shall walk straight to there, but no matter what, we will not go alone. We need to stay sharp for anything that might happen."
Beat groaned. "Aww, that wrecks my idea, yo!" he said. "Me and Rhyme wanted to race ya down to Towa Records!"
"Uh, that's just you," Rhyme said with a small giggle. "I don't want to go alone with just you, Beat. Separating is not really a good idea for now."
It was then that Shiki's eyes were drawn to the little bell that hung around Rhyme's neck. "Omigosh. Rhyme, is that what I think it is?" she asked.
Rhyme looked flatly at her. "Huh? What?" she asked.
"That pendant!" Shiki said. "Where did you find one?"
The young blond held her small pendant on her palm. She smiled at it. "Oh, this? Yeah, I heard they sold out quick. How'd you know about it?" she asked.
"I saw it in a magazine," Shiki said. The group didn't know that she was now pumped up. "I looove following the latest clothes and accessories. Lucky...I wanted one sooo bad."
Rhyme giggled. "I'm sorry I can't give you mine," she said. "But it was a present from my brother." Beat turned around and looked up the buildings around the 104 Building.
"You've got a brother?" Chris asked.
"Yeah," Rhyme said nodding. "Older. He's really nice. Hope he's OK..."
Due to how noisy the people that walked past through them were, none of them heard that Beat was, oddly, sniffing to himself. "Oh, I'm sure he's doing great. And you'll see him soon!" Shiki encouraged.
Rhyme nodded. "Yeah... I hope so. So you're into fashion?" she asked.
"Uh-oh," Fox whispered to Chris. "Girl talk incoming. Brace yourself for this one."
Shiki didn't hear the vulpine's little comment and focused on Rhyme's. "Totally! I want to be a designer. I love making clothes. But right now it's just a hobby," she said.
"I still think it's pretty cool," Rhyme agreed. "It must be nice to have a dream - to be head over heels about something…" She slumped forward a bit as in deep thought. "I don't know what it's like. Not really…"
"What?" Ness asked, raising an eyebrow. "You don't have a dream?"
Rhyme shook her head in shame, not noticing that Beat looked at her over his shoulder. "No... But when I look at Beat I think: keep moving forward. Because someday my dream will find me…" She smiled at the Smashers. "Maybe I need to hear other people's dreams to get some inspiration. I hope this isn't much, but…what are your dreams?"
"M-my dream?" Chris said as the others looked at him. "Uh, well… There are so many things I wish to do now that I was given the chance to travel through worlds…but I think I'm going to stick with completing a career in university."
"And Lucario is going to be there to support you," Pichu said.
"Why do you keep saying that I have a Lucario?" Chris asked. "But…anyway, maybe I'll study computer science…and then, just maybe, I'll give game design a go."
"That's nice," Rhyme said. She looked at the others. "What about you?"
"Uh…" Ness trailed off. "I'm kind of still in that phase, you know. Maybe I'll try to become a famous baseball player."
"Here I thought you were going to use your psychic powers for something else," Pichu said.
"Oh no, that's kind of cheating right there," the Onett boy said. He bumped Ike's right leg. "Okay, your turn."
"My turn?" Ike said. "Honestly…I already achieved my dream. I lead my father's mercenary company in his stead. Only problem is that I'm…not working on it right now."
"(The more time I keep listening to them, the less I believe their insane stories of world-hopping,)" Neku thought. "(…I wonder, though…)"
Ike looked over at Soren. "Oh, is it my turn?" he asked. "I'm not at liberty to say."
Rhyme forced a small smile, but the others weren't that satisfied with the response. "Aww, come on!" Ness groaned. "Can't you at least drop a hint?"
"It's unknown to me what I'll do," Soren stated. "For the time being, I work under Ike for the mercenaries, and that's just it."
Ike rubbed his head. "We better win this Game to recover your lost memories. They're the most important ones holding those secrets…" he muttered.
"As for my dream…" Fox trailed off before looking annoyed, "…it's to get out of this hellhole and resume my life."
"…" The group stared at him in silence.
"…Good enough," Ness said. Everyone else nodded.
Rhyme chuckled. "Beat's really good at skateboarding," she said. He says his dream is to be the world's greatest skater. If he can do it, then so can I." Beat's rather depressed look faded away once he forced a grin. "Thank you so much for telling your dreams, everyone. I'm sure I'll find my own dream soon."
"That reminds me," Shiki began, "you didn't ask Neku for his dream."
"Sink back into solitude," Neku spoke.
"…Okay… That's still a dream, I guess," Rhyme said unsure.
Remembering that they had no time limit to worry about, Shiki eyed the 104 Building. "Can we take a little side trip?" she suddenly asked the group. "We got all the time of the world to reach Towa Records. Mind if we stop at Ten-Four?"
Pichu looked at the towering building. "Won't people see us in there?" he asked, spotting the familiar graffiti inside the huge store. "Oh, they'll see us…"
"It'll be fun!" Shiki said. "There are many sorts of people in Shibuya. I guess nothing bad is gonna happen with some of you entering the store despite your looks."
"If you say so…" Ike said. "If somebody screams bloody murder just looking at Fox, you're being held responsible."
Fox glared at him. "Are you treating me like some sort of animal?" he asked.
"No, but we would rather have you behave," Soren said with a small sneer. Fox grunted in response.
It looked like the group agreed to enter the building. Neku, being unfamiliar with Shibuya, asked, "So... Why do they call it 'Ten-Four'?"
"You mean 104?" Shiki asked. "Isn't it obvious? Break it into two numbers, and you've got 10-4."
"…I see people here don't have the remotest idea what they're doing for a living," Soren dully noted.
104 Building – Store
The World Ends With You – Economical Shoppers
Neku could hardly believe that he was coaxed into entering such a crowded place with an even stranger group of people tagging along, but there was no other choice. He needed Shiki against his will. The ominous graffiti made them tangible for anybody to see and touch them, which meant that the nagging pushing of other customers became a new issue to endure. Shiki was used to it. "Ugh... It's a zoo in here," Neku said. "Are they having a sale or what?"
Chris was a bit of a stranger in the store. But overall, it was a mess of giggling, gossiping high schoolers hunting hot deals down with the right outfits to become the newest thing to talk in the streets to emulate their idols of teenage magazines. "I feel I don't belong to this kind of world," he said. He was used to video game conventions, not fashion conventions.
"No kidding there, genius," Ness sarcastically said.
"Ten-Four's always like this," Shiki said with an intact smile until she let out a high-pitched squeal that left most of them nearly deaf for a brief second. "Ah! Omigosh! That outfit! Is that the line?" She ran over to a line of girls trying to get whatever outfit Shiki had spotted using her reserved eagle-eye skill for clothing.
"So far, this little diversion is getting on my nerves," Soren commented. "Please let it be over soon."
"Well," Fox began, crossing his arms, "if I ever get hooked up with somebody, I'll steer clear from this kind of place."
"You kind of got hooked up with Krystal," Chris said, and Fox looked at him, "…and then you broke her heart."
Fox grimaced. "I dunno who she is, but she better be good. I've never considered romance before in my life," he said.
"If she was within hearing range, she'd already snapped your neck in half, I kid you not," Ness said.
Neku shook his head as he saw Shiki walking to the rather long line of squealing girls. He saw Shiki walking back, apparently not finding the outfit very appealing.
Shiki casually began a conversation. "You don't know how badly me and Eri…" She sighed after a small pause, looking worried while remembering her past life. "Sorry... Me and my friend used to come here."
Pichu's ears perked up. "Oh, you mean your friend in the photo?" he asked.
Right after Shiki nodded, a multitude of girls squealed loudly, startling the group. "IT'S HEEEEEEM!" they heard.
Shiki gasped. "Hey...Over there!" she said, pointing to the left side of the store. There was a group of giggling girls looking at a seemingly attractive blond man looking at a line of clothing. The man in particular was slender, wore a very stylish white T-shirt that heavily drew upon a French style with brown pants and white sneakers. His short blond hair was combed nicely in such a style that any girl would turn to stare at his eyes for long periods of time, as if their virginity was taken away with a small, direct gaze. He was holding a white jacket over his shoulder that begged the nearby group of girls to steal it from him at all costs.
"The prince looks sooo hot!" a girl commented.
Another girl had a phone out, ready for anything. "I gotta snap a photo with my phone!" she said.
Neku sighed in relief, thinking that Noise were inside the store for a moment. "Oh. Not Noise... Just noisy," he said. "Who is that guy?"
"Eiji Oji. The Prince of Ennui?" Shiki said in a tone that implied that it was common knowledge. "He's the latest superstar. People love his don't-give-a-damn attitude."
"Oooooooh, he's THAT kind of guy," Ness said.
"Hate those with a passion, yo," Beat said.
Shiki continued. "His blog 'F everything,' gets 100,000 hits a day!" she said.
"F…Everything?" Chris repeated. "That's…uh…"
"'F Everything'?" Neku repeated. "What kind of blog is that?"
"You know…" Ness trailed off, "he gets to F people and the like."
Just before Shiki could say anything to that, the group was surprised to see Eiji coming to them. "You, young man!" he called out, his entourage of raging fangirls trailing behind him, hiding behind lines of clothing. "What are you doing in Ten-Four if you can't even coordinate an outfit? Have you no sense of Shibuya's trends?" He inspected the Smashers. "Your friends here have some questionable fashion trends as well…"
"I take offense to that," Ike muttered.
"(Who the...)" Neku sighed. He knew they weren't getting out of there without talking to the blond freak. "Trends?"
Shiki nodded. "Yeah, you know. Like what brands are hot?" she said.
The Prince smiled, pleased to hear her. Noticing the smile, the entourage of fangirls labeled Shiki as a dangerous opponent behind her back. "Ah, the blessed voice of wisdom. At least one of you knows how to dress," he told Shiki.
The fashionista chuckled with pride. "I have to! Shibuya is every girl's war zone," she said.
"Good thing I'm not a girl..." the eight males of the group said in unison, just for them to notice and shrug afterward.
The Prince looked serious. "You should know a trendy outfit can turn a pigsty into the loveliest of gardens. But you, in that outfit? It's like wrapping the rose of youth into a spicy tuna roll." With a bishie flick of his blond hair, the Prince walked away, his legion of fangirls following and never looking at the odd group again.
Chris stared long at the Prince as the latter left the building. "Wow… Just…wow…" he trailed off. "I never paid much attention to guys like him in my school, but…wow…"
"(Arrogant snob,)" Neku thought. "(I am not...a...a spicy tuna roll!)"
Rhyme blushed and shyly twiddled her fingers. "I…kind of see his blog from time to time," she admitted. The group looked shocked at her. "And his advice is…is always pretty spot o-"
"Oh, no," Neku interrupted. "Count me out. I don't care about trends. I wear what I want to wear."
Shiki immediately became enraged. "Ugh, no, you can't do that! They call it a fashion statement for a reason!" she said. She cleared her throat. "How you dress sends a clear message."
"(Then I wish I had more zippers...so I could tell you to ZIP IT,)" Neku thought.
"Truly, the world of fashion is a girl's war zone," Soren said. "From where I come from, nobody really get this worked up over clothes. What you have is what you keep almost forever."
"Wow, that's hell right there…" Shiki gasped and flailed her hands. "O-oh, sorry! I didn't mean to sound rude!" She stared at them. "Look, you've got potential. You could be sooo much cooler. And I KNOW fashion. C'mon, it's so easy to be trendy."
"Easy for you to say," Fox said, forcing a grin as he showed off his jacket. "I am trendy." Chris gave him a dull look.
"The Prince did not acknowledge your trendiness," Shiki pointed out. Fox's ears perked up a bit as he glared at her. "Therefore, you need help…" She looked back at Neku giving her a hard look. "Well, I'm not going to force you. But your clothes..." She winced. "They're, um..." She grimaced. "Not, like, bad, but..." Her lips twisted a bit.
Neku felt that she was touching a nerve. "WHAT?" he asked loudly.
Shiki flailed her hands again. "Ahh! Nothing, nothing! Just forget I brought it up," she pleaded.
The orange-haired teen looked away from her. "(Suddenly, I feel naked.)"
Ike was a bit confused on the whole matter with trends. "What's so great about trends?" he asked.
Shiki smiled. "Well, Shibuya's kind of unique. Trends here change really quickly. And they change YOU, and the people around you. So it's better for you if you can stay in control of them," she said.
"Oh, I know," Ness said. "Control the masses with your good looks… That's for girls!" he complained.
"Hey, that's so not true!" Shiki argued. "Men can pull it off without looking weird! Oh, and don't go thinking the Prince is weird, either! He knows his stuff." Nobody heard Rhyme saying a weak "Yeah!"
Neku turned to her. "I don't need help being cool," he said.
"I know what I'm doing, Neku," Shiki said. "I've been studying fashion bit by bit, so I can be a designer one day. I've always liked to sew," she said. "I started with little things like stuffed animals."
"So the one you're always carting around - you made that?" Neku asked.
Shiki took out Mr. Mew from behind, the group staring at the black stuffed animal. It suddenly jumped down and put its chubby hands on its hips. Luckily, no one else in the store saw the doll. "Yup," she said, feeling proud of the little doll. "The clothes I've got on, too."
Ike blinked at her. "Wow, you made those clothes yourself? That's very impressive," he said nodding.
"Heh, thanks," the fashionista said. "But the clothes, I just sewed them. Eri did the design…" Her mind came to a sudden halt once she said her friend's name. None of them could tell that, deep down, Shiki was hiding something. "She's the amazing one… I still have a lot to learn. But one day..."
"I have to say, that's really amazing," Chris said. "Looking how dedicated you are into fashion, it makes me want to start on my own projects with what I want to do for a living that I want to enjoy doing no matter what."
While Shiki smiled at the thought, Fox grinned at Chris. "I'll look forward to see what you do for the future," he said. The teen blinked in surprise at the small praise.
"O-oh!" Chris said, smiling shyly to the vulpine. It did feel like there was a strong bond growing between the two, or so Chris thought. "T-thank you, Fox. I'll try to give it a go soon enough once I have time to spare!"
Pichu stared at Mr. Mew waving at them. "You made that one?" he asked.
Shiki looked embarrassed, flailing her hands. The group briefly thought that she was making a habit of it. "I...I made him a long time ago, so he's not very good," she said.
"Why do yo still have it?" Beat asked suddenly. Rhyme shot him with a serious look that he ignored. "Stuffed animals is for little kiddies."
Shiki looked sideways at him. "Shut up! This is my psych!" she pointed out. "How else am I gonna fight off the Noise?"
"You mean..." Neku trailed off in surprise, "you use that piggy as a weapon?"
Shiki complained while yelling, "He's not a pig! He's a cat! Mr. Mew the cat!"
"Oh…" Pichu trailed off. "…What happened to Mr. Mewtwo?"
The fashion seamstress gave him a funny look: a blank one. "What?"
"Uh, nothing…" Pichu looked away.
Ike tilted his head at the doll. "What made you think that doll looks like a pig?" Neku grabbed Ike's head and moved it at an appropriate position while staring at Mr. Mew. "…Oh… OH…. OH, I see it now. He does look like a pig." He nodded.
"What in the-?!" Shiki said bewildered, as the others being a safe distance away from her chuckled.
"'Mr. Mew'?" Neku repeated, looking up to the ceiling while scratching his head. "(How old is she? Three?)"
Shiki looked sideways at them. "Look, I only know how to use tele...whatever," she said.
"Telekinesis?" Neku said. "OK, but why a stuffed animal? Couldn't you pick something more powerful? Like a knife or a...a lead pipe or something?"
The PSI user looked suspicious at Neku. "Geez, from what alley did you come from?" Ness asked. Neku silenced a small grunt and pushed the boy away.
"I tried putting my Groove Pawn pin on something else," Shiki said. "But Mr. Mew was the only thing that worked…" She looked up to the ceiling, rubbing her chin in thought. "Besides, I'm not really moving him. He just sort of does his own thing."
Soren raised an eyebrow. "I do not believe that is what you call telekinesis," he said.
"Hmm... I guess not."
Mr. Mew turned his back on them as he crouched down. Neku stared down at it. "(The pig moves on its own?)" he thought. "(What if it's possessed, waiting to pork-chop us in the back of the head?)"
"…" Ness looked ill. "So if you're NOT moving it…who's moving it?"
Shiki looked away. Seeing that she had absolutely no answer for the question, some of them stared shocked at the animated doll, thinking that some sort of demon was controlling it… It looked at them over its shoulder. Many backed away almost immediately. "Stay away from that thing," Fox advised Chris.
Its owner shook her head. "I know he turned out awful, but... without him, I never would've started sewing for real," Shiki said.
Rhyme chuckled nervously, feeling that Mr. Mew was looking at her. "Y-you gotta start somewhere, anyway," she said.
"Aw, not you too!" Shiki groaned, picking Mr. Mew up from the floor.
"She picked it up!" Chris said yelping.
"Would you please stop it?" Shiki asked irritated, keeping Mr. Mew away. "He's not gonna kitty-chop us on the back of the head or something!" Neku shrugged at the thought.
Rhyme sighed and then smiled at Shiki. "So you wanna be a fashion designer, Shiki?" she asked.
Shiki was glad that the topic had changed. "Yup! I want to make clothes for a living. Nice clothes make people happy. And that makes me happy, too," she said.
"(Hmph… She's got her whole future planned out,)" Neku thought. "(Never woulda thought.) So that's why you're so picky about clothes," he said.
"Heh heh," she chuckled. "I try. But I still have a ways to go. There's so much to learn."
"Cool," the orange-haired teen said, trying to sound just as subtly nice as possible. "(I didn't give her enough credit. She's got a dream. That's more than I can say…)"
"WELL!" Ness said suddenly, stretching his arms above. "It's nice to hear you're really into the world of fashion design, Shiki, but I think it's time for us to get moving to the mission."
"Yes…" Ike trailed off, being slightly pushed aside by a high school girl looking for a new outfit to wear. "This place is getting a little bit too much for me to bear any longer."
"Oh, you're right," Shiki said. "But next time, let's try to do some shopping. You guys need to wear something else different if…you want to go ahead with it."
"Meh, I'll see what I can find for myself if there's something that catches my eye," Fox said. At that moment, he noticed that the Prince had returned. He approached them and looked down at Pichu. "Did you forget something?"
"Oh, it's nothing, man with the fox outfit," the Prince said as he looked at Pichu with a grin. "I wanted to say that this little, animated doll is…cute, shall I say." Chris then saw that the Prince's legion of fangirls was hiding behind him, several feet away. They were eyeing Pichu with lustful eyes all of a sudden… "I'll F this in my blog… F this creature," the Prince said. "F it to high heaven!" And with that, he turned around and left the store for real.
Fox grimaced. "You don't know how obscenely bad that sounded…and on Pichu, of all people."
Pichu started sweating bullets as he looked up to them. "I got F'd!" he squealed scared. Some unknown hands grabbed his sides and pulled him away. "EEEEEEEEEEH!"
To the overall shock and surprise from the group, the girls tailing the Prince didn't go after their idol. They all screamed and lunged after Pichu, the girls wanting to know where to get one like him at a nearby store while Pichu cried out for help. A brawl ensued as the group tried to fend off the group of crazy girls from grabbing Pichu for themselves. "Stop it!" Chris yelled as the store clerks were alerted. "It looks like you want to violate poor Pichu!"
The World Ends With You – Déjà vu
Shibu Department Store
"An upscale department store just a skip away from Shibuya Station. Famous brand names dominate its floor space."
The group was lucky that they became intangible and invisible as soon as they ran out from the freak accident that occurred at the store. They made their way quickly to the east side of the Scramble Crossing, reaching yet another prestigious store of three floors. Said store was the most expensive place of Shibuya where people's wallets would instantly die at the items sold there, which reached the hundred-thousand yen mark…and beyond. Anybody rich enough to buy anything from there would become an instant hit among trend seekers. Sadly, the group was considered to be poor by the store's standards.
They had come across a weird kind of Noise: Pig Noise. They recalled Hanekoma saying that the Pig Noise had rare pins, and that they shouldn't waste time if they spotted one around the area using the Players' phones where it would tell them that Pig Noise were nearby. That was a side quest to do, though, so they concerned more about the mission: reaching Towa Records.
"Girls…" Ike trailed off. "They're a force to be reckoned with when in groups…"
"Yeah," Beat said. "Gonna have nightmares the moment I get back to live my life, yo. Stayin' away from a whole bunch of 'em."
"Lucky me," Neku said, not noticing the rather creepy glare he was getting from Shiki for no reason. She was even shaking. "I backed away just in time to avoid their clawed nails..."
"Stop it," Fox said with a grunt. "One of those psychotic girls tried ripping my clothes off."
"A-a-and I remembered some awful memories from the past thanks to that event…" Pichu shivered, being embraced by a similarly shivering Chris. "R-remember when those fans almost kidnapped me?"
"Oh, don't make me remember that event," Ness said. "Let's be happy that we escaped from those…monsters."
"At least we didn't get banned from the store because they have to go through that a lot it's pointless to keep customers like them away," Rhyme said. "…But it's creepy to think this happens a lot of times in there…"
Shiki grunted so loud that they stopped walking east. "Ahh, enough!" she said, staring at a shocked Neku. "Just looking at you makes me cringe!"
"What did I do!?" Neku asked in surprise. "(What's gotten into her?)"
"Oh… Oh no," Chris said. "Shiki finally snapped…"
"It's not that," she fumed, looking at Neku. "It's coming loose."
"Umm..." Neku looked confused. "(What, your grip on reality?)"
Shiki crossed her arms. "Neku... That button on your shorts."
Neku blinked and looked at his left pocket. A button was coming loose from the side. "Oh, yeah," he said as the others looked odd at the loose button. "What does it matt-"
"It matters!" Shiki shrieked. "I can't stand things like that!"
"Whoa there," Ness said. "It's just a button. There's no need to get so worked up ove-"
Their eyes widened in unison after hearing Shiki demand Neku to take his shorts off. "What?" Neku asked.
"Your shorts. Take them off!" she said indignantly. "I'll fix the button."
Neku considered the gravity of the situation, and so did the others. Chris, Rhyme, and Pichu blushed and looked away. Ike, Soren, Beat, and Fox stared incredulously at Shiki. Ness, meanwhile, tried to lower his cap down to cover his eyes. "Are you high!?" Neku asked. "I'm not taking my pants off in front of you, in the middle of the street!"
"Oh, grow up," Shiki said. "What, are you going commando? You're invisible! No one's watching."
Neku pointed a shaking finger at the eight. "ALL OF YOU are watching!" The ones that were watching turned around. "Now YOU'RE watching!"
Shiki dangerously approached him. Neku gasped and turned around, only to find that he had somehow been cornered behind a sign next to the wall of a building. "Now! Pants! Off!" she emphasized every word, and then she lunged at Neku's lower body while the others turned around and heard him scream for help behind the sign. Shiki was now in high gear. The people that went through their everyday lives never noticed the event at all as they walked by.
"Doooooon't!" Neku screamed.
The Branded closed his eyes. "The nerve of that girl," Soren commented, seeing the fleeting image of Neku's shorts lying down the sidewalk.
"Today's being pretty crazy, yo," Beat said.
"No, the girls today are being pretty crazy," Fox corrected. He looked down at Rhyme. "Not you, Rhyme, and hopefully you won't turn out like them… Ugh…" He shrugged his shoulders.
Thinking that the event was going to last forever, the group of eight saw a satisfied Shiki walking out from the sign, putting a needle and a thread away. A very embarrassed-yet-surprised Neku walked out, wearing his shorts on with the button fixed neatly on his side pocket. "There. All done!" she said. "Whew, I feel much better. Loose buttons drive me nuts."
"No kidding, girl," Ike said, backing away from her as the two partners rejoined them.
"That was...fast..." Neku commented, almost breathless of the humiliation he went through a few seconds ago. Luckily, nobody laughed. They were freaked out by Shiki. "You always carry around a needle and thread?"
"Of course," Shiki said. "They come in handy. Plus I enjoy sewing. If you need anything else mended, just say the word!" She then turned to the group and her eyes, as if having an exclusive, natural, innate skill, glared down at a very glaring spot…
…She was looking down at Fox…
"…Oh no," Fox muttered in a low tone, looking down at himself to see where she was staring at. The others gasped and looked away, all the while getting as far as possible from Shiki's next victim. "…Oh no… NO, NO, NO, NO!" He shook his head, blushing under his furred face. There was a rather large tear that was running across…his crotch area. It probably appeared there during the ensuing brawl that took place at the 104 store. His jaw wide open, Fox then noticed Shiki was nearing his position. "D-don't you put a finger on me down there!"
"TAKE… THEM… OFF!" Shiki lunged at Fox, pushing him all the way back behind some conveniently placed piles of boxes that hid the scandalous scene of a young teen ripping a young adult fox's pants off. Even though Fox had a lot more physical strength, Shiki's rage-induced state gave her enough willpower to overthrow his resistance; his futile resistance.
The unzipping of pants ensued.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Fox yelled.
"T-that scream…" Chris gulped, catching an unfortunate glance at Fox's pants being taken off before being pulled back behind the boxes by Shiki's hand. "It…it's going to get burned into my mind forever…"
"(Will I have to strip again?)" Neku wondered, looking away from the boxes. "(I'd better take care of my clothes...)"
A few seconds later, a relieved Shiki walked out with a satisfied look on her face. Right after, a defeated Fox walked out, his dignity having been crushed while his pants were fixed up. The tear had vanished thanks to Shiki's masterful sewing skills. "All done for real!" she said.
Fox blushed deeply under his fur. Nobody would ever notice the redness of his face. "That…was not…my greatest experience yet…" he breathed out. "I feel so violated…"
"This is so haunting you, even after we get out of this fix," Ness said.
With the rather embarrassing events finally taken care of and Shiki's overall passionate attitude redeemed, the group continued northeast, making sure none of them had a clothing malfunction that would force Shiki to go insane again.
They stopped walking, though, after they noticed two young people talking to each other in front of the store. One of them was a high school girl with short black hair wearing her tied gray jacket over her green skirt, and the other was a young business teen with brown hair carrying a suitcase. "How's work going, Makoto?" the girl asked.
Makoto looked down in shame. "Bad," he said. "The boss wants me to promote some new pins. But how?" he asked. "I don't know anything about pins."
"Sound rough," the girl said.
"Why would we stop now?" Soren asked. "We shouldn't indulge in the living's life, seeing as we aren't alive ourselves."
"Oh…" Shiki looked at the girl. "She's Mina. She's a friend of Eri," she pointed out. "We talked a few times before, so I was wondering what she was doing talking to him… I think I know him, too. His name is…Makoto."
Pichu narrowed his eyes and quickly hid behind Ness. "S-she's one of the girls that tried to kidnap me at the store!" he said.
"Stay away from her?" Ness suggested.
The fashionista grimaced. She felt lucky that Mina didn't see her at the store at all. "U-uh, let's keep listening on their conversation, if you don't mind…" Shiki trailed off.
Makoto closed his eyes in a serious manner. "Yeah. I've been trying to study up," he said. He opened his eyes and smiled. "Like, people use pins to play Tin Pin Slammer, right? So I'm thinking of hitting the slam-off at Molco next week!" He chuckled at his idea. "To pick up the lingo, you know?" He sighed, remembering that he had no chance at going there. "But tickers are completely sold out."
Mina stared at him. "The Tin Pin slam-off, huh…" she muttered before smiling at him. "If you had a ticket, you'd go?"
Makoto brightened up a bit. "Uh-huh," he said.
"Hmm…" Mina had a wonderful idea in mind.
Shiki noticed that another high school girl was staring at the two from afar. The newcomer wore the same high school uniform as Mina, but the only difference was that she had a semi-sharper look on her face and long pale brown hair. "Huh? Isn't that…" She had a very nasty suspicion about her friend Mina talking to Makoto alone. Glaring at Mina's back, the girl walked away with a grunt.
"Hey, wasn't that Ai?" Shiki wondered until she saw Makoto and Mina entering the expensive store before them.
"Look, that store has that weird graffiti in there, too," Ike said. "Maybe you could go talk to them."
The mercenary wasn't expecting the fashionista to act against the idea. "N-no!" Shiki suddenly yelled, startling the rest of the group. "I-I… I can't let Mina see me like this!"
"What?" Neku said. "Why are you talking about? You don't look bad or anything… You're not making sense."
Shiki embraced herself and shook her head. "I can't let her see me," she muttered. "She might just tell Eri about it…and then…things would get really bad…"
Pichu tilted his head at her. "Why?" he asked. "Don't you want to see your friend in there? It's going to make you feel okay if you do…"
"…" Shiki closed her eyes, shedding a small tear. "…Not like this, you guys…" she said. Wiping the tear away, she looked serious. "This just isn't…the time for me to go talk to Mina or anybody else I know…" She took out Mr. Mew and clutched it against her chest. Without a second thought, Shiki ran northeast.
"Hey, wait up!" Neku yelled, chasing after his partner. Not wanting to leave them alone, the group went after the two to avoid getting separated.
"What is wrong with her now?" Ike asked, concerned about the girl.
"Well, unlike a moment ago," Soren began, "she just doesn't want to see her friends for whatever reason she's hiding from us. Now, she's running away."
"We've got to catch up with her!" Rhyme said. "She's probably walking right into a trap around Towa Records!" The group chased the two down, eventually reaching Towa Records by passing through another district between the department store and their destination.
"A record store born in the US of A. Currently, the store's collaboration with the artist 'CAT' is creating a buzz."
The first word of the new area subtly pointed out the towering skyscrapers that loomed over the street. To the right, the group saw several large, thin buildings that reached out for the sky. Each of the buildings was dedicated solely on selling music to avid music fans looking for the hottest music track of the season. In big eye-catching banners and TVs, the graffiti art of a black cat head showed prominently all over the place.
All of that was largely ignored once they spotted Shiki leaning against the wall next to a store, clutching Mr. Mew tightly as she saw them approach her side. She was thinking hard about something that happened to her before she died. She closed her eyes, recalling the vague argument she had with a dear friend…
"Shiki… I know you're trying really hard to be a fashion designer, but you've been breaking your head over this little project you're trying to finish. You've been working on it for a month now…"
"I…I guess so, Eri…"
"Look, you're an excellent fashion seamstress… But…"
"You're not meant to be a fashion designer."
"H-how could you say to me?! And I thought we were best friends forever?!"
"W-wait, Shiki, don't hang up on me! Please, don't cry!"
"S-shut up, you! I don't want to talk to you anymore, you hear me?!"
"There you are," Neku said, snapping Shiki from her thoughts. "What's wrong with you all of a sudden? You're having way too many mood swings today it's freaking me out."
"…" Shiki looked away. "It's…it's…it's something I don't want to talk about…"
"Not this again," Fox muttered.
"You guys…" Shiki sniffed. "I don't want to talk about this problem I have… It's just too much…" Her eyes looked away from the few worried looks she was given. "…There was something that happened to me before I died…but…that's all I'll tell you about…"
"A problem?" Pichu wondered.
"…Sorry, Pichu, but I can't even tell this to you," she said, sighing a bit. "It…it only matters that we reached Towa Records. The mission is complete…"
Beat grinned and ran ahead in front of the most popular record store. "Yeah, we did it!" he called over, waving a hand. "Why dontwee chill out inside the store? I wanna buy a few CDs!"
Rhyme smiled at the idea, and the others wanted to see Shiki in high spirits again, especially Pichu. While the Electric-type smiled, he saw Rhyme's expression look sickly ill. "Rhyme?" Pichu wondered.
Rhyme's eyes were shaking in fear as she spotted a dreadful Noise symbol passing down the multitude of people. The symbol was unlike any others they've seen before. It was a red-and-black symbol that resembled the jaws of a shark of all things. Immediately taking a sprint, the young blond saw the symbol move right under Beat's feet. It was going after him, and he had separated from her side far enough to get hunted down by Noise.
Beat's smiling face disappeared as soon as Rhyme lunged at him to push his body away. For a brief second, the two recalled an unfortunate event through the sound of a car trying not to crash into them. However, there was no car this time, but a huge Noise shark that jumped out from the symbol and tried chomping the blond punk.
The team could only watch in horror as the shark Noise brought its mighty jaws upon Rhyme…and then, the sound of a bell pendant falling down lifelessly on the street echoed in Beat's ears…
Rhyme left your team…
TO BE CONTINUED…
"Shiki's Week – Shiki & Eri"
Do you want to save your data after the events of today?
Chris – Fox, Ness – Pichu, Ike - Soren, Neku – Shiki, Beat
- The usual TWEWY tracks were used here, and we aren't even done with them yet.
- "SMT: Devil Survivor 2 – Connected Hearts" is a track that plays during doubtful situations in the same game… Oh, by the way, people like to compare both Devil Survivor and TWEWY due to the fact they both use the 7 day format, but they're extremely different, obviously.
Well, I hate to break this to you, but I'm leaving you with a nasty cliffhanger for this chapter.
You surely noticed how this chapter has the title "Shiki's Week" in it. That means Shiki plays a central role in the story more than Neku, even though Neku is the one who'll end up getting a lot of character development in the end… That goes to the others, though. Shiki's Week also focuses on Pichu quite a lot.
First, though, let's recap the Smashers' Entry Fees:
Ness: He has forgotten about Paula (which hints that he has romantic feelings for her).
Pichu: He knows Pikachu, but all memories of him had been taken away.
Chris: He never owned a Lucario, and thus he can't even remember anything about him.
Fox: Krystal is completely gone from his memory.
Ike: Apparently, he claims that he doesn't have a younger sister; Mist.
Soren: He knows Ike as his leader, but beyond that, the utter respect for Ike is mostly gone. Furthermore, the memory of the accident at the mansion has also been taken away.
Now let's see the Shibuya Crew…
Neku: The memory of his death is gone.
Shiki: Refuses to say what it is.
Beat: Hasn't said anything yet.
Rhyme: She doesn't know, either, but it looks like Beat knows…
The readers that DO know what their entry fees are please don't say them. Let the others find out through the story.
Now the dilemma that Chris faces shall be shown next chapter: he's lying to his group about what happened to him before he died. This problem is going to cause some…severe issues of trust if the next chapter does end up with him confessing the truth. Also, that Ike VS. Marth fight event hasn't been forgotten, either, but it's going to come up soon, too.
Remember that I'm releasing official artwork of my stories. Hell, a new TWEWY artwork was finished to reflect this chapter's Noise battle. The links to my accounts can be found at the top of my profile.
Do enjoy next chapter, but do review this one! I like to hear your thoughts and critiques!
…Or else Fox is getting viola-
Pichu: Don't go there, please!
Fine… Or else Chris is somehow going to pitch an idea to Shiki to make Mr. Riolu the doll!
Beat stared down lifelessly, right in front of his feet, at the bell pendant Rhyme used to wear around her neck. Tears welling up, he let out a loud scream. "RHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYME!" He stood back up as he grabbed the bell pendant. He stared at it for a long time until he closed his eyes shut and looked away. "Why… WHY?!"
"Why did she have to be erased now?!" Beat asked loudly to the sky. "She…she was my partner, dang it! I was meant to protect her no matter what, and she protected me instead!"
"How am I gonna make it out dah Game without a partner?! This is sick, yo, SICK!"
"I sweat, whodevah did this to Rhyme…it's GONNA PAY HAR-"
"WHAAAT!" Beat looked down at Rhyme. "Can't you see I'm cryin' for you?!"
"Yes, I see, and I think that's very sweet of you," Rhyme said, smiling a bit. "Can you please give me my pendant now? I feel kind of naked without it."
"…" Beat blinked at the realization. "R-Rhyme? Y-you okay?" He wiped his tears away and looked at the scene before him more clearly.
Rhyme wasn't standing up. The young blond was being held under one arm around her waist. That right arm belonged to a deadpan Fox, who then decided to blink at Beat with a grin. "Hey," he said. "Quit the crying now. She's okay."
Rhyme never left your team!
"B-but…but how?!" Beat asked, completely at a loss of words. The vulpine chuckled and put Rhyme down on her feet. "How did ya even…?"
"I saw Rhyme suddenly running after you, and I spotted that bastard shark below your feet," Fox said as he crossed his arms. "I thought none of you two was going to make it, so I helped myself and joined the plan."
Rhyme took her pendant back, putting it back on her neck. "It all was so fast!" she said, turning to look up at Fox. "When I pushed Beat out of the way, Fox came from behind in a flash and grabbed me, and he even got to slice the shark's nose!" She folded her arms behind her back. "Thank you so much, Fox! You're my hero!"
"Don't mention it. All is possible when I can use Fox Illusion anytime," Fox said with a wide grin. He felt a lot of pride that completely overtook the embarrassing moment he went through a few minutes ago.
Beat forced a chuckle and patted Fox's shoulder. "Yo! Thanks!" he said. "If it wasn't for you, we both woulda been a goner!" He grinned. "I'm forever indebted to you!"
The other seven rejoined their side, relieved that nobody was erased by the shark Noise. "That was incredibly amazing, Fox!" Chris praised his partner. "For a moment there, I thought nobody was going to survive that Noise!"
"Very nice job," Ike said nodding. "You reacted quickly. I was just as impressed… Nice thinking, Fox."
"Yeah!" Shiki said. She had forgotten her own dilemma of the past after witnessing the event. "I was so worried, too. Good thing nobody got erased…"
The vulpine kept hearing their praises one by one. He closed his eyes as he chuckled. "Aw, please, you guys," he said. "You can stop praising me now. I know I'm a good hero, but this is too much."
"…" They all fell silent.
Fox opened his eyes. "What?" he said.
"Eh…" Ness looked away. "You ruined the mood. I don't feel like praising your heroics anymore."
"Me neither," Pichu said.
Fox glared at them. "HEY!" he grunted, making them laugh for a small while. Shrugging, Fox decided to laugh with the group.
Soren faked a small cough. "I'm sorry for interrupting this rather bountiful moment, but…" he turned around and glared at a familiar face, "we should be celebrating after getting out of this trap that Harrier Reaper girl set up for us."
Gasping, the rest of the group turned around and saw an infuriated Uzuki staring at them with a hint of murder in her eyes. "Why did you get in the way?!" she demanded Fox. "Seriously! You otherworldly people are making me FURIOUS sticking your noses where they don't belong!"
The vulpine glared fiercely at her. "Oh, I'm SO very sorry you dislike seeing me do my own thing!" he said sarcastically, putting a hand on his hip. "You'll have to bear it for a LOT longer as a long as I'm playing the Game!"
"(He's so cool…)" Chris thought.
"YEAH!" Beat said, stepping forward. "Pinky, you're gonna PAY dearly for tryin' to erase Rhyme here! Prepare to get smacked around!"
The group assumed their positions. "GRRRR!" Uzuki grunted loudly, flexing her claws.
"Now, now, Uzuki," a lazy-sounding voice came from behind her. "Don't go bursting another blood vessel. After all, it was me who was gonna erase that little girl, not you."
"Oh, hell no," Neku said. "Here comes yet another one of them…"
"And I suppose this one isn't friendly," Soren said, narrowing his eyes at the sight of black wings coming into view...
TO BE CONTINUED…
Do you want to save your data?
Chris – Fox, Ness – Pichu, Ike - Soren, Neku – Shiki, Beat - Rhyme
…Oh, I forgot to say this, but Rhyme is a very charming character, and also my favorite one from the cast. Why not let her live? I'd feel REAL bad if she was eaten alive. I actually hate the idea of giving you a nasty cliffhanger, so I'll let you go with the fact that Rhyme is alive and well. :)
And while I cook up the next chapter, WORSHIP FOX IN THE MEANTIME. (I'm exaggerating, you know).