Note: It is recommended that readers of this story have read or at least know what happens in the Haruhi novels (up to the ninth one as of writing), as elements and characters from throughout the series proper will be used.
Revised intro (nothing truly essential is said here, feel free to skip to the actual story if you feel like it):
It's rather difficult to provide any sort of synopsis for this story, as it really isn't that simple. I like to think it covers a wide range of genres (especially now that I have the time to continue it). There's adventure and drama, troubled relationships and issues of trust, possible conspiracies and the odd, hopefully humorous turns of phrase (more likely not because English is only my second language). This story is a rather experimental project for me, as I like to try and avoid or subvert common conventions of storytelling, which, undoubtedly, will be polarizing and not all too appealing to some. For example, I love a well executed anti-climax, though I probably won't be aiming for such a thing here. And things will probably get worse, a lot worse, before they get better, as I think protagonists are always only as great as the obstacles they face (whether they actually overcome them, now that's an entirely different thing). It's an interesting project, writing with an unreliable narrator (and no, this does not mean Kyon is lying and actively trying to deceive readers, as some unfortunately seem to think when I mention this)
Anyway, though the relationship between Haruhi and Kyon will be integral to the story throughout it, as this story is very much about examining the nature of her powers and the world in which these characters live, this does not mean other relationships will be ignored. All options are open really for this story, with small twists and other complicating factors thrown in along the way.
The story has also now been turned into acts as well, though many elements will continue throughout the acts. And one more thing readers should definitely know, this is not meant to be a light-hearted adventure; sometimes things can get a bit grim, but I will attempt to temper it with wit and lighter moments as best I can. This story is not recommended for those who hate to use their brains while reading and enjoy simple escapism (I certainly do occasionally), but intended to provoke thought, sometimes very explicitly, as there are chapters where philosophical "lectures" will be given, but most reviews thus far have said I have done a good job of keeping them interesting enough, even introductory to some. I have certainly tried to introduce philosophy as simply as possible in a more in-depth manner, because at the very heart of it, the Haruhi series is a philosophical story, that has shamefully not bothered getting into much philosophy in later parts, like in some of the earlier parts, and has always worked best when these issues have been at the heart of the narrative. The occasional silliness is okay in between, but whether it is how the premise of the series was set or with parallel realities along with time travel and pop psychology here and there, these philosophical stories have been the best for me. Haruhi's antics can only be so much fun for so long.
I hope this intro hasn't scared people away, as it's not just boring dialogue and examination all the time, there's plenty of crazy stuff as well. Well, if you're still reading, please enjoy. Reviews are always appreciated.
Eyes glowing with pure energy, blue lightning flashing and crackling around her slender body, and a nonexistent wind billowing her skirt, shirt and hair, Haruhi floated through the burning wreckage of the school. Like the Angel of Death, she descended down upon me, her face as cold as the energy around her was hot. Wherever the bolts of energy struck, an explosion followed, leaving nothing but a small glowing hole where the energy had entered. Walls had crumbled, no buildings stood in sight. The landscape was unrecognisable. The pandemonium she had caused with her omnipotence warping the very space around us.
The ground moulded itself before me into stairs with a red carpet on it. Haruhi landed on the top step with a gentle tap. She stood there, looking down at me. Her empty eyes stared at me, with the white glow of her eyes, tinted by cobalt, only intensifying. It was almost as if she was judging me.
Oh God… so is this what it means to have the Fear of God placed in you? I can't say I much like it. It's not humbling, it's horrifying. Her stray thought could end me just as easily as change me into something completely unrecognisable, and then bring me back like nothing had happened at all.
Her brow furrowed into a glare, her lips turning into a snarling grimace. A storm erupted around us. Heavy blocks of concrete and steel flew into the air along with uprooted trees and other various pieces of debris. All of it spiralled around us, as if we were in the eye of the storm… what am I talking about? We were in the middle of it all. Everything did revolve around Haruhi.
"I'm sorry, I –"
"Enough," Haruhi's cold voice rang through my head, like granite slabs sliding against each other, her voice booming with the ancient power of the cosmos. "…Enough."
She raised her hand at me, her slender fingers stretched towards me. "It's over."
The energy crackled and snapped around her, snaking its way in the form of various tendrils around her hand, into her outstretched palm, gathering into a condensed orb of power.
"Please! I didn't want to hurt you!"
"I thought I could trust you. I thought you were different from the others. But you just wanted to use me like they did, didn't you?"
"No – I –"
"Enough… Enough lies… I've had enough of this all. It Ends today."
Haruhi opened her palm fully, slowly extending it towards me with final deliberation.
"WAIT! Don't do this! Haruhi, I –"
The energy rushing forth at me consumed everything. It was frightfully swift and slow at the same time. An eternity within a fraction of a second. Teasing my mind with the hope of escape, while whispering prophecies of unending pain and suffering in my ears. My little personal hell as everything slowly mingled into nothing around me, everything disappearing into the complete whiteness of what I could only assume was oblivion.
"AAAGHH!" I shouted as the pain spread through my head. I held the top of my head tenderly, rubbing on the sore spot. I opened my tear filled eyes, clenching my teeth together in pain. I saw nothing but white.
Damn it, that smarts.
I turned my head, spotting my bed on my left side. I looked back up again at my white ceiling.
What the hell?
Where was I?
"Kyon, what's going on in here?" my sister's voice rang annoyingly from the direction of my feet.
I slouched onto my elbows, taking one hand to wipe my blurry eyes so I could see properly.
Apparently I was in my room, lying on the floor, next to my bed. My sister was peeking in from behind my door.
"Did you fall out of your bed again?" My sister asked in that annoying tone, mocking me like all younger siblings must do. The little sadists…
"…Yes," I grudgingly admitted as I got up.
My breathing was short and laboured, sweat was everywhere. I looked down at my pants. At least I hadn't wet myself… I think. Yeah, it was all just a lot of sweat. Phew. Complete and total humiliation had been averted.
My sister snickered at me, before shouting at me that breakfast was ready and running off to do whatever nefarious things little siblings do when they're not tormenting their betters, i.e. me. At least she was gone for now.
Agh, just what had happened to me? I guess I'd fallen out of my bed because of a… nightmare? What had it been about?
I strained my brain, knowing it was something important and familiar, something worth a moment's contemplation.
Haruhi's eyes glowed white with energy, lightning crackling around her, glaring at me with intense hatred.
She lifted her palm up at me, directing her immense power at me.
It had been a nightmare about Haruhi, about the End. The End?
I gulped nervously. She wouldn't do that to me, would she? Why was she angry at me in the first place? Why did she want to kill me? How had she gotten like that?
As these questions and thousands of others just like them whizzed through my mind, one prevailing thought enthralled me; I had never been this frightened by Haruhi before. And what made it worse, for some reason, I felt that this was going to happen anyway, no matter what I did, that it was inevitable, that she would kill me, but worst of all by far, because I deserved it.
What did it mean?
Nothing, it's just a dream.
But what if it isn't?
But what if?
Then we're all screwed no matter what, so don't worry about it.
Now there's a comforting thought.
Hey, I'm just you, don't get too snippy.
Am I developing a split personality all of a sudden?
Now that's a comforting thought, ain't it?
I hate you.
I mean me.
Leaving my annoying thoughts aside, I made my way out of the room before my brain decided to play more tricks on me and make me head straight to full blown schizophrenia. As I got to breakfast I did a quick survey. Everything seemed to check out, nothing out of place. There's Shamisen on the floor, eating from his bowl, meowing occasionally. There's my little sister, also on the floor, trying to eat her cereal out from her own bowl by licking it out while making an occasional cat sound.
As much as I would like to say something weird was going on, I couldn't really do so in good conscience.
Unfortunately, this was only the first semi-surprising event of the day. As I was in the shower, my sister rushed in, throwing the phone at my head. I desperately struggled to stop it from falling into the water, only increasing my sister's delight, before she spirited herself away again.
Jeez, what's up with her today?
I then noticed the phone was on, and that someone was on the line. Okay, that was weird; we never got phone calls this early.
"Um, hello?" I asked, hesitantly raising the phone to my ear.
"KYON!" Haruhi's voice blasted through the earpiece.
I really should have seen this one coming.
Even though I held the phone at arm's length, I could still hear Haruhi loud and clear, very loudly I might add. The girl's got an impressive set of lungs on her, that's for sure.
"Get your ass outside! It's awesome! C'mon we gotta go! We can't miss a beat! Get! Get! Get! OHHH!"
Wait, what's going on? Just what –
Haruhi hung up.
Great, just fantastic. It's too damn early for this. I'm not ready, everything's still… Sigh. What day is it anyway?
Although Haruhi had nearly chewed my ear off through the phone, I took all the time I wanted to dress up and get ready. When I had asked my sister what day it was, she had looked at me strangely before advancing to simply laughing at me heartily for a couple of minutes (much to my annoyance), until she answered "Monday" amidst tears of laughter. So, roughly 20 minutes later, I was in my school uniform and ready for another day at school, most of the time being taken up to get mentally prepared for some sort of crazy thing that was bound to happen to me because of Haruhi.
Even so, I was not prepared to meet Haruhi waiting for me in front of my house, bold as a baboon's butt in her own school uniform, impatiently tapping her foot while her arms were crossed. In one of her hands, she was holding a stopwatch. As I got out, she took a look at it, and the scowl on her face only grew darker.
"24 minutes and 42 seconds!" Haruhi yelled angrily.
Wow, she actually waited that long for me to get out? I can't wait to see how she sees fit to punish me for this if she was willing to wait this long for me, considering how excited she sounded on the phone. The perfect way to start out what was turning out to be the perfect day…
"Is this how promptly you issue forth if the Commander calls on you? 25 minutes until you even get out! And what if I hadn't been here? Somewhere else? Like at school? How long would that have taken? I could have been abducted and probed by aliens 3 and a half times already!"
Um, sorry? Wait, three and a half? Just where do you get these figures?
"I knew you'd be a lazy bum, so I showed up personally to pick you up. C'mon, everybody else is probably waiting already!"
Before I could ask any questions, Haruhi marched up to me, grabbed me by my tie and pulled me with her down the streets with stunning speed. Oh, the looks we got: some of shocked disbelief at such an odd sight, some of annoyance at such a public display of some form of indecency, and far too many sly, knowing smiles for my liking.
"Where are we going?" I managed to ask as the tie around my neck tightened like a noose. I managed to nudge a few fingers between it and my throat, relieving some of the pressure. This struggle of mine of course got a few laughs out of the people watching our peculiar little procession.
Haruhi turned her head to look over her shoulder at me. Her eyes glowed with a genuine excitement that is all too often lost in the daily exuberance she exudes. Her smile was wider than a bear's behind.
"It's fantastic, Kyon! Truly amazing!"
It wasn't. Really, it wasn't. At least, not for me.
Haruhi had pulled me up along a road which went up at a rather big incline, one of the bigger hills that made up the geography of our town. In fact, this particular hill was something of a landmark for me; here the town ended. A place I never really approached but had had the chance to pass by occasionally as my family would sometimes feel like going out of town for various reasons, i.e. special shopping or a small vacation. It was the border of my small world. The effect was only increased by the fact that the land just beyond the hill was rather bleak; there were hardly any trees with occasional tufts of tall grass on an otherwise barren landscape. I have no idea how such an ugly and barren spot got so close to my lovely town. So because of all of this, I was utterly mystified by why Haruhi would be pulling me along to see such a boring view.
Well, I shortly got my answer as we climbed to the top of the small hill so I could get a proper look at the valley below. Haruhi let go of my tie and gave a gasp of glee as her bright eyes took in the sight.
Apparently, the circus had come to town. Ok, that's a slight oversimplification. It was more of a carnival, really. It certainly was big, if nothing else. There were stalls, full of fast food and sugary sweets; entertainers of various sorts, clowns and street performers of all flavours doing everything from juggling knives to fortunetelling; there were even mechanical rides in place amongst the giant tents and buildings that had suddenly sprung up in the vast, empty space. If I strained my eyes, I thought I could see even larger structures in the distance. Was that a rollercoaster?
Ok, I take it back. This is pretty amazing. But since it was Haruhi who had dragged me along with such overwhelming excitement, I had been expecting the long-awaited aliens to have landed in their saucers, the time travellers to have shown up with laser cannons and riding dinosaurs, the espers to have started full on war with the nation's government with their crazy powers, or the enigmatic slider to finally have made his or her appearance.
Just how did something like this get approved anyway? Just thinking about the logistics required for something like this boggles the mind. The place was packed with people squirming between the tents and structures. It put ant hills to shame with such multitudes of roaming people everywhere. Was it a holiday? Surely Haruhi would have mentioned something as she so enjoys them so much. But most importantly, how hadn't I noticed something like this? A carnival of this great a size couldn't have just popped up during the night as it appeared to have. This was suspicious to the infinite degree. Yet… it was just a carnival, hardly the place for something sinister. Trust me, you can't remain suspicious of such an exciting and lively spectacle as this, no matter how much you try. And I tried very hard, I swear!
Haruhi grabbed me by my arm, hugging it to her closely as she stared hungrily at the carnival below. "Isn't this amazing, Kyon?" she asked excitedly, bouncing up and down on her heels, rubbing her chest against my arm.
Apparently, she was so excited that she hadn't noticed this little act of intimacy. For me, it was rather hard to concentrate on the astonishing sight when there was a pair of firm, yet soft breasts rubbing against my arm.
"Uhmm, yeah," I managed to mutter. My eyes kept darting back and forth between her and the distant carnival I was supposed to be looking at with her. Oh man, I just know I'm going to get punished for this. And worst of all, it's not even my fault in the slightest! She's the one rubbing up against me, how could I not have a reaction like this? My heart must have been beating faster than a hummingbird's wings.
However, Haruhi was so excited that instead of punishing me, or even noticing anything, she just started down the hill, thankfully pulling me along by my arm this time instead of my tie. "C'mon! Let's go!"
But I held my ground this time, pulling us backwards. Haruhi almost fell over at the sudden resistance.
"What the hell?" she asked, putting lemons to shame with her new sour look. The earlier enthusiasm had been replaced with an equally dangerous amount of irritation.
"Hey, are you dense or something?" Actually there's no need to answer that question, silly me. "We have school today. In fact it's just about to start. C'mon, we have to hurry." I pulled on her hand, put she resisted just as strongly as I had done merely seconds ago. The only difference ended up being in how we respectively handled the situation.
Like a little child, she protested: "NOOO~OO! I wanna go to the carnival! NOW!"
"We'll come back later in the day, okay?" I tried to shush her like one of those parents in a store with a kid who wanted ridiculous amounts of sweets.
"But everybody else is already waiting for us there!"
Oh my… don't these people have any common sense at all? Why do I always end up being the voice of reason in our group? Everyone else is either a sycophant, simply uncaring or just too damn scared to do anything. Sure, the likes of Koizumi and Nagato can probably easily skip a day or two without falling behind in school (They could both probably teach on a university level. Actually, Nagato could probably have taught Einstein a thing or two), but what about the likes of Asahina-san and me? Certainly she at least saw the idiocy in all of this? Ah, who am I kidding? She was sent here to observe just as much as the others. It's probably in her orders to do whatever Haruhi commands, just like it is for everyone else. If this wasn't the case, I'd probably be stuck alone with Haruhi in the SOS-Brigade.
"Look," I said, rubbing the bridge of my nose in frustration, "Call them and tell them to go back to school. We'll come back here later, I promise. It's not like the carnival will just disappear all of a sudden. Something of this size will probably last for weeks."
Haruhi pouted for a short moment, looking at me critically, before she gave an exasperated sigh. "Fine, Kyon, we'll come back later."
"Thank you," I said pulling her back down the hill. She slowly slouched behind me.
"But don't you think it's weird? I mean, I had no idea they were building this. You'd think at least someone would have said something… It's just so strange…"
Yeah, yeah, I know. And I'm just as certain that we'll spend an insane amount of time solving this 'mystery'. Sigh. Will you just stop dragging your feet and call the others already?
When we eventually arrived at the school, half an hour late since it had taken extremely long to pull Haruhi back there because of her exaggeratedly slow gait while she phoned the rest of the Brigade (Man, she really had her sights set on this, didn't she?), I found yet another surprise waiting for me that morning.
The school was closed, nothing stirred on the premises. I went up to the gate and read the sign that had been posted: "The school has been closed due to an unexpected gas leak. The school shall remain closed until further notice as to allow time for repairs and to make certain that the safety of its students and faculty can be assured. Repairs may take a couple of days or even a week. Please use the time out of school wisely."
No way. This is just too damn convenient!
"Well, isn't that nice," Haruhi said smugly, cracking a wide smile. "I guess I'll call the others and tell them to go back to the original rendezvous point."
While Haruhi eagerly thumbed the number of Koizumi, I stood still, wondering if Haruhi had had something to do with this. It was just too damn convenient. She had desperately wanted to go to the carnival, and here she was, provided with ample excuse to do so. But surely this gas leak hadn't happened just as school had started? The thought of Haruhi's subconscious starting the slow demolishment of the school brought back annoying memories from earlier this morning.
"Let's go, Kyon! We have a ton of things to do!" Haruhi exclaimed as she pulled me along, waving her free hand happily as she pulled me along in a complete reversal of roles from our walk to school. This time it was me who was slowly being dragged behind.
Sigh… Well, no school for possibly a week. That's nice, right? But most of it'll probably be wasted dealing with Haruhi, I thought sourly. At least I won't be alone though. Besides, what's the worst that could happen? It's just a mysterious carnival that's popped up from nowhere, possibly summoned there by Haruhi, just like the school being closed to ensure entry to it. Ah damn, why can't I just enjoy any little bit of luck I receive instead of obsessing about how much of it sprung from Haruhi's mind?
…Maybe the others will have something to say that might help? Something that will relieve at least a modicum of the stress that's starting to pile up for me? Please…