Prologue

Kei Kurono was running away from the alien as fast as he could. 'Shit,' he thought, 'it didn't work.' He felt the cool, watery liquid from his suit on his face. 'I'm screwed….unless,' he started running faster-pushing his limits until he heard the familiar ringing in his head. It got louder, but he didn't stop until it was all he could hear. He turned around and faced his pursuer. "Bring it on, bitch," he screamed as the alien came in to view. It wasn't very large. It was catlike with no tail and three large claws on each foot that tore up the ground whenever they made contact. "I can take you." he bent his knees and braced himself.

The alien growled and shot forward at Kei, but at the last minute he dove out of the way. One of the claws caught him over the shoulder, but Kei won the battle. He looked back and saw the alien's face filled with anger before it exploded. "Ha," Kei stood up, faced the headless body, and flipped it the bird, "Fuck you," he shouted. He started laughing. Gantz, there's nothing you can throw at me that I can't handle. I'll beat this game of –" He felt something's hot breath on his neck, "Oh shit," a second alien stabbed Kei through the chest with its claws. It pulled them out and he fell to the ground, "I was," he coughed up a lot of blood, "so close."

Distance…

"Come on," I scream at the traffic. I lower my voice, "not today, any day but today." I honk the horn, "Come on," I scream. God damn it. Every time I have something fun to do something like this happens. My cell-phone rings. I look at the caller I.D before answering—it's my mom. I let the call go to voicemail. The clock says 12:47. I was supposed to be in New York City over an hour ago. My friends are going to kill me…Actually, they're not the type to wait. "Uh," I sigh, "why does this always happen to me?" I look behind me…nothing. In front of me it's bumper-to-bumper traffic as far as I can see. And of course, as if to spite me, I am literally the last car in this mess. I don't think I could be in a worse situation. I sigh and lean my head against the window. The phone rings again—it's my mom...of course. I should pick it up. Usually she won't call a second time unless it's an emergency. I answer it, "Hey, Mom,"

"Hey, Aaron. Are you in the city yet?"

"No. I've been stuck in traffic for over two hours."

"Oh, I'm sorry, honey, and it's your first day with your licence."
"Yeah. You're not going to believe this though," I hear the sound of an engine approaching, "I am the last car in this line." The sound gets louder.

"That is strange."
"Yeah," I turn around, ignoring the sound as it gets louder. "It kinda makes me feel vulnerable, you know," I say with a chuckle. It gets louder. Any second now this asshole's going slam on his brake and come to a screeching halt right behind my—" I feel my body try to break free from the seat belt and I see a blinding light. I can't feel anything. I can't move. All I see is a bright, white light clouding my vision. I can't hear anything. What's going on?


What the hell? Where am I? I'm sitting in some strange room with a large black sphere at the other end. Some girl is staring at it, like she expects to find something. Her back's to me so she must not have noticed me. I stand up, "Excuse me, miss," she turns around. I think she's Japanese, "what is this place?"

"% &^*( (*&(." she says in Japanese. I guess watching anime isn't a complete waste of time…then again it's not like I can understand a word she says. We both stare at each other with confused looks.

"Do you speak English?" I ask slowly. She just stares at me…I guess not. I turn around and walk to the door. It leads to a hallway. I see a door. Great, I can leave. I reach for the doorknob, but it won't open. I can't even touch it. No matter how hard I try I can't make contact with the door. I try kicking the wall, but it's the same. It won't even make a sound. I give up and walk back to the room. Another girl has arrived. She sees me and walks straight toward me. She's crying, "!&!) !)*%__ #%&*%#& #)%&* ()%#* )*?"

"I'm sorry, I can't…I don't speak Japanese," I try to mime what I'm saying. After a short pause she nods, so I think she understands. She goes over to the other girl and starts talking to her. I wonder if they're friends. I go over to the wall and lean against it. It's the same thing, I'm not touching the wall— it feels like there's some invisible force stopping me. I elbow it. "Fuck," I shout. I hit it at a weird angle so it hurt my elbow, but the wall made no sound. The two girls turn around, "sorry," I say. Who cares if they don't understand? I should be polite. They go back to their conversation.

I look at my watch. Five minutes have passed since I got here. Suddenly three pairs of shoes appear in the middle of the floor. The girls and I stare at them as strange lasers begin to form the bodies of three boys wearing identical uniforms. Again, Japanese. They take one look at me and turn to face the girls. They start talking to the girls. Probably asking the same questions I did. The lasers show up again. A pair of black shoes appear on the ground near the center of the wall to my right. The lasers form her body slower than it did the bodies of the three boys—like it was building up to some dramatic ending. Long, thin legs; short skirt; large bust—which the lasers seemed to slow down while they were being formed; and then her head. She has long, smooth, black hair tied in a pony-tail. She's like something out of an anime. I have never seen anyone has beautiful as her in my life, not even in movies. Wait, her shirt. It has the same logo on it as those boys' uniforms. She can't be a student. The three boys look back and return to their conversation as if she hadn't appeared. I wonder why.

Green symbols started glowing on the ball. I look over at the lone girl. Only she and I seem to have noticed because the others are still talking. I stand up and walk over. It's Kanji. Great… more confusion. I tap one of the guys, the shorter one, on the shoulder and point at the writing. "Do you know what this says?" I don't think he understands me because he looks confused, but he follows my finger and reads the ball. ")(* *(* %# ^$%. #% #%(*$& #%#&%* #%#. *&(*&& &(* R $&." Suddenly the ball shot open. Guns, rows of them, filed out of the ball. I go over to look at them and notice a man wired into the ball. The others notice him too—one of the girl even screams. Next to him are several cases. They each have something written on them in Kanji. I sort through them and come across one in English, "Aaron Stevens," it says. How does it know my name? I take the case and walk over to the wall and sit by the hallway entrance. I open the case in front of me and inside is a suit. I pick it up. It feels waxy and extremely light.

I stand up and hold it in front of me. "(&(# %%))#&6* *($&%" the shorter guys says and everyone but me and the lone girl laugh. I think I know what he said though. Probably something about how stupid this suit looks. But, if I've learned anything through t.v, you should always put on the stupid looking outfit. I walk into the hallway and take off my shirt and my pants. I step into the suit and try to pull it up. I can't get it over my boxers. "Shit," I say under my breath. I pull down my boxers and step in as the lone girl walks in with a case in her hands. She looks up and gasps. It takes me a second to realize why, "Oh my God," I say and desperately try (and fail) to pull the suit over my bits, "I'm so sorry." She just picks up her case and turns around. I pull hard on the suit and manage to get it on. It's surprisingly comfortable, but at the same time feels like there's nothing there. I feel kind of…exposed. I tap the girl on the shoulder as I walk by and head back in to the room.

When the others spot me they say a few things in Japanese, laugh, and walk toward the door. "Hey," I say as they try to get to the hallway, "she's changing," the shorter guy just laughs me off and tries to get past me, but I bar the door with my arm. "You can't go in yet," I say firmly. He walks right up to me and stares me at the face. I may be almost a foot taller than him. I try to look tough, but it's hard to be intimidating at 6'4" 141 pounds, especially when you're wearing a skin tight, cosplay-esque suit. He pushes me to the side and tries to walk in, "I said no," I grab him and pull him back into the room. One of his friends pushes me against the wall and punches me in the stomach…I don't feel a thing. I notice the symbols on the ball change again. They are shocked that I wasn't affected by the punch. I use the moment break his hold on me and walk up to it. A picture of some strange animal appears. It looks kind of like a cat. I stare at the picture for a few seconds (I can't read the kanji next to it) when the others walk up and notice it too, but unlike me they can actually read what it says. They all laugh then the symbols change into a timer—counting down from one hour. I look at the guns and then at the picture again. It hits me. It must be a sort of hunt.

One of the girls screams and I turn around. One of the boys is disappearing. I quickly look at the gun rack and grab the closest one to me, a strange tri-barreled handgun with two triggers. The rest of the students start disappearing as the lone girl comes back into the room. She smiles at me and looks at the gun in my hand. Without missing a beat she grabs one of the handguns—a single barreled one—just before she disappears as well. Now I'm the only one left. Am I being left behind?

Suddenly I'm on the sidewalk of some street. The lone girl is appearing by me. I look down and notice that my body hasn't completely arrived yet. I can move my hand, at least I think I can, but it's like I'm moving it somewhere else. When the rest of my body appears I walk over to the girl, "Hello," I say slowly, "do you know any English?"

"Yes," she says in a heavy Japanese accent, "little," she holds her thumb and index finger up in a pinching position, miming what she said.

"Do you know what this is?" She shakes her head. "Okay. Let's go. I start walking and she walks by my side. I wonder what people will think when they see us dressed like this?

"What your name?" she asks.

"Aaron Stevens." I say, "You?"

"Kei Suzuki."

"Nice to meet you, Kei," I say. She just nods.

"You from America?"

"Yes," I say.

"Why you in Japan?"

"I don't know. I was at home, driving to New York, when I saw a light and ended up here…wait a minute," that flash. That feeling like I was being shot forward. I was in a car crash. I didn't…no. That's impossible—I can't be. I spot a police officer a few feet ahead. I walk up to him, "Excuse me." He doesn't turn. "Excuse me," I say louder. He doesn't hear me. I stand right in front of him and wave my gun in front of his face. He doesn't react; it's as if I'm not there. "What the hell is going on?" the officer just gets in his car and drives away. That proves it. I must be…dead.

I just stare into the distance. I can't believe what just happened. Can I really be dead? I feel the pulse on my wrist, I'm still breathing, but why didn't he notice me? And why does no one look twice at these ridiculous suits?

Kei pulls at my elbow, "What is it?" I ask. She points into the alleyway. A strange catlike animal is back there…it's the thing that the ball showed us. "Stay back, I'm going to check this thing out." I walk closer to the thing. She stays behind me; I don't think she understood a word I just said.

"What the hell," I say. This thing isn't a cat. It's got no tail and it has huge claws. This proves it, it must be a hunt. It's back is to me so I haven't been spotted, but if I can just back out quietly nothing will...I bump into Kei behind me and she lets out a gasp. The thing turns around and roars. "Shit, run," I grab her hand and pull her with me. The thing chases us out of the alley, but none of the people run. It's the middle of the day and they can't see it. I look back and aim my gun. I don't know which trigger to pull, so I pull them both. A bright triangular light shoots out and hit the thing. Suddenly ropes appear and hold the thing in place. What the hell? I stop running, Kei stops with me. I walk up to it. It's struggling against the rope, but it can't break free. Kei taps me on the shoulder and points with her index finger and mimics a gun firing. "Yeah, good idea." I aim the gun at the thing and fire again. The same lasers that took us to and from the room appear and the thing starts to vanish. "I guess that's it, huh?" I smile at Kei and she smiles back. We start walking back to the place where we arrived. I wonder what happens now?

Suddenly I hear a scream. "What was that," I scream.

Kei starts running toward the scream and screams back "Follow." I start sprinting after her. This can't be good.