The Cries of Haruhi Suzumiya
Chapter One - Beginning of the End
Notes from the author: This is my first fanfic. I've tried my best to not destroy the original character's characterizations, and I hope you all like it. Also, I do not own any of the characters in this story. No original characters here, folks. Also, one more addendum: Feel free to mentally replace any phrases with their Japanese equivalent if they are more memetically popular (for example, replacing "that's a lie!" with "USO DA!"). Let's dig in, shall we?
"Kyon... we're here"
Huh? Where's here, anyway?
"Hey! Wake up!"
I opened my eyes. Most of my field of view was filled with the smirking face of Suzumiya Haruhi.
"You could have woken me up easier, you know."
Better yet, you could have not woken me up at all. If this day would have started with me gazing into the smiling face of Asahina-san, why, I'd have even more energy than you!
"Just get up. And you were talking in your sleep. Perv."
I really hope Haruhi didn't hear too much of what I wouldn't want her to hear. Or what she really shouldn't hear...
Haruhi moved away to poke the sleeping Asahina-san, revealing the interior of a dingy bus. Seriously, did we have to ride to Hinamizawa on the crappiest bus in Japan?
Hinamizawa. Of course. Maybe I should explain.
Me, Haruhi, and the rest of the SOS Brigade are currently (I assume) in Hinamizawa Village. According to Haruhi, every year on the night of some festival (something to do with cotton, from what I can remember) there's a murder. Apparently, it happens every year and it's due again this year.
Seriously, don't enough weird things happen in our own town? If they aren't, everyone is slacking off.
"Kyon, we're investigators." said Haruhi, as she started to crawl up behind Asahina-san. "From what I've found, there's a supernatural cause to these events. Maybe it's the wrath of a god, or a townwide conspiracy, or maybe it's aliens disguising themselves as humans to collect flesh to power their crashed ship! Anyway, it's the SOS Brigade's modus operandi, and it's obligation to check things like this out."
Well, do we have to force the SOS Brigade into every city in Japan? Even ACROSS had less lofty goals than this girl!
"Besides, it's not like we're setting up a new division. It's way too far away. If we do set a new division up, it should stay in the city."
By this time, Haruhi had indecently roused Asahina-san from her nap. Koizumi was already up and starting to unload some duffel bags, and Nagato...
...was still reading. As usual. Come to think of it, she had the right idea.
I got up, banged my head on the roof of the bus, grabbed my bag, and got off.
Haruhi had made us take sleeping bags, rations, a first aid kit, blankets, and enough changes of clothes to last a week at the least. Did she plan on having us live here?
"Once everyone's up and off the bus, I'll explain. Now, get everything unpacked or you'll have to carry it all the way there!"
Hold on a second. We're not there?
I looked around. We were on the outskirts of a city. It looked pretty big. In fact, I think it's bigger than our home town! "Small village" my foot...
Suddenly remembering I needed to get more bags, I went back in and grabbed them. I took this time to get a nice, long look at the bus driver. It was a young man with black hair and a thin beard. Whoever it was, it definitely wasn't Arakawa.
After a few minutes of unloading and a few more of molesting, everyone and their bags were off the bus. The bus drove off.
"Okay, so this is Hinamizawa?" I said. "I honestly expected it to be smaller."
"Of course not, you idiot. This is O... Oko... whatever it's called. It's a couple miles away from Hinamizawa.
"So, how exactly will we get there?"
"What do you think? We're walking, dummy."
Walking? But didn't you say that it's miles from here? Isn't there, I dunno, a bus or anything there?
"I called around. There's not a bus station in the area."
Well, couldn't you find a ride? Isn't there anyone from the Organization that could drive us? I really don't want to walk all the way there...
"I tried to see if there were any relatives in the area," said Itsuki. "Apparently, there aren't. Quite a few of them haven't even heard of the town at all."
"Besides, we may be heading into something big. It would be best to go in incognito to avoid suspicion, wouldn't it?"
"Right you are!" said Haruhi, "500 points for Koizumi-kun! Now, let me see your bags."
He handed her his bags. Haruhi then dumped them onto my shoulders. The sudden burst of extra weight made me lose my balance and fall on my butt. I really hope Haruhi doesn't use me as a pack mule.
"Okay, let's head out. It's getting dark, anyway. To Hinamizawa!"
She started to march off. Alone. Koizumi was helping me up, Asahina-san was stumbling like a vase about to fall under the weight of her bags, and Nagato wasn't really moving.
"Guys, hurry up!" shouted Haruhi. "Huh? What's wrong, Yuki?"
Nagato was facing the woods and being perfectly still.
"Don't tell me you're chickening out. No brigade members can turn back until this mystery is solved or they don't go back at all!"
"Hinamizawa is that way."
Haruhi did an about-face. Nagato pointed into the forest. It was in a completely different direction than the road that Haruhi was taking.
"What? Through the forest?" asked Haruhi.
"Shouldn't we take a road?" asked Asahina-san, still teetering.
"Following major and minor roads would end up extending this trip by approximately 37.624518 percent."
Nagato, have you ever heard of something called a sigfig?
"Well, okay. Anyway, it'd help us be more stealthy, and it's as the crow flies, too. Very well. To Hinamizawa!"
She marched into the woods, dragging Nagato behind her. Asahina-san had fallen over, and was having trouble standing up. She was like a delicate flower being crushed by the weight of a stone, unable to grow.
"Koizumi, you carry your own stuff."
I sat down his bags. He stopped.
"I don't know how Suzumiya-san will react, but okay."
I walked over to Asahina-san and helped her up.
"I'll carry that for you."
"But, um, isn't Suzumiya-san making you carry Koizumi's things too?"
"Don't worry about it."
I took the bag from her. It was actually pretty light. She looked concerned.
"Anything wrong?" I asked.
"Well, uh... I can't really say here. It's, well, you know, classified information."
Classified information. Probably something that Haruhi can't know, then.
I started walking forward, standing next to Asahina-san's fragile form. If she ended up falling down a ravine or scraping her leg, I'd carry her, no matter how far!
"Listen," she said, "you can hear the higurashi crying."
I could. Is it really that late?
For some reason, I got the strange foreboding that something or someone wanted me to turn back, like the cicadas themselves were crying it.
But that's stupid. Well, relatively stupid.
"Yo, Koizumi." I said.
"Now that you mentioned it, why don't you have anyone from the organization driving us?"
"I was just wondering the same question. An unusually large number of my colleagues had business. Apparently, something unrelated to Suzumiya-san had come up.
Really now. Does that mean that everyone that could give us a ride was out of town?
"Basically. I wasn't given too many details, but apparently an unusual recursion-based effect had blockaded a colleague on an island. Arakawa and Ms. Mori were called into that, among others."
"Well, what about that bus?"
"I had nothing to do with that bus. The driver wasn't affiliated with the Organization."
"So it's legit?"
"I doubt it. He was probably a creation of Suzumiya-san, a metaphorical captain to the ferry that had brought us and Suzumiya-san here. I wouldn't be surprised if all traces of him disappear tomorrow."
"So, we're stuck here. Another closed circle?"
"In regards to us, yes. But this one is nowhere near as safe or controlled as the one on the island."
Okay, so basically, we can die. Got any plans?
"Be wary. Things and people may be more than they seem. I have the feeling that there's another power at work, one completely unrelated to Suzumiya-san."
"Get down! Off the road! Someone's coming!"
My bag was yanked sideways by Haruhi and I went tumbling into a ditch. Koizumi and Haruhi slid in after me.
"What the hell was that for?" I said.
"We're hiding, Kyon. We don't want to be seen," said Haruhi.
Well, of course not. That's why you've been having us dive out of the way every time a car passes!
"Well, it was dark that time. I had no idea there was that drop."
You've been having us turn, backtrack, wait, and loop around for the past three hours! This was supposed to be the short path! Let me guess, you force-fed that crow of yours a pint of sake before letting it fly, didn't you?
Nagato and Asahina-san followed down into the ditch. Haruhi grabbed my collar and pulled me flat onto the ground with her.
"Ow! That hurt! Sheesh, why are you so paranoid all of a sudden?"
"In case there's people following us, that's why!"
"Well, it's probably just the wind."
I regretted saying that immediately. It's never just the wind. And the guy who ends up saying that is always the first to go when the killing starts. Great.
I peered over the edge of a ditch to see who we were avoiding. Haruhi pulled me straight back down.
"Idiot! Do you want to be seen?"
"Look, it's just some young couple. Quit freaking out."
Besides, I honestly doubt that diving into a ditch is the most covert way to hide.
"How do you know that they're just a young couple? How do you know that they're not a pair of serial killers, or the boss of a secret society with her henchman, or-"
"Shut up! They'll hear you!"
"I think you might be a little too late for that," said a male voice.
We looked up.
Standing above us were the two silhouettes of the young couple. I looked around for a flashlight, found one, and clicked it on.
The guy was a somewhat muscular adult male with brown hair, glasses, a hat, and a camera. The young woman had platinum blonde hair, a green jacket, and a smile that reminded me way too much of Koizumi. And not in a good way.
The girl laughed. I swear to God, that is the most taunting, condescending, mysterious chuckle I have heard in my life. Seriously, are you Koizumi's cousin or something?
"And who might you two be?" asked Koizumi.
"A better question is," asked the woman, "who are you?"
"Well, I am Koizumi Itsuki, and these are my colleagues. The girl on my left is Asahina Mikuru-san,-"
"P-p-pleased to meet you."
"-the girl on my right is Nagato Yuki-san,-"
"and those two down there are Kyon and our leader, Suzumiya Haruhi-san."
"It's... it's very nice to meet you."
Haruhi and I stood up.
"You might want to be a little more careful where you dive." said the girl.
They looked past us. I shone my flashlight down where they were looking and... oh my god.
There was at least a forty foot sheer drop.
"Eeeep..." said Asahina-san, swooning like a Victorian actress.
"So, what are you kids doing out so late, anyway?"
Wait... how late is it? I know we've been wandering around for a few hours, but I haven't checked the clock.
"Eight forty-three." said Nagato.
Wow. Really? Haruhi, remind me to never ask you to drive once you get your license, okay? We'd end up in Hokkaido if you were at the helm.
"Well, I think we're lost. Do you know the way to Hinamizawa?" said Haruhi.
"Hinamizawa?" said the guy. "It's not that far. Just down the road. I think you'd be there of you made a right at that junkyard."
The woman look slightly confused.
"Where did you come from?"
"We're from out of town. We were dropped off at O... Oko..." said Haruhi, making the strangest, goofiest face of thinking I have ever seen.
"YES! That's what it is!"
There was a noticeable pause in the conversation.
"Isn't Okinomiya on the other side of Hinamizawa?"
...where's some crickets when you need them? I guess some higurashi will do.
"..." said Haruhi. And pretty much everyone else.
"Well, I guess I should have asked for directions, huh?" said Haruhi.
No, you shouldn't had had us make so many damn detours.
Haruhi shot me a look.
"Well," said Koizumi, "thanks for the help. I'd like to know your names so I could thank you."
The girl chuckled again.
"Oh, forgive our manners. I am Takano Miyo, and this is Tomitake Jirou-san. He's my... colleague."
"Colleague?" asked Haruhi, now obviously interested.
"No, no. Not like that." said Tomitake. "I'm a photographer. I'm in town for the Watanagashi festival. Takano-san is a nurse at the clinic."
Well, you two do seem a bit friendly...
Takano chuckled again.
"So, why are you five going to Hinamizawa?" she asked.
"Well, we're in town for the Watanagashi festival as well." said Koizumi.
"Yeah! We're investigating that string of murders that happen every year".
Subtle, Haruhi. Subtle.
Takano smiled fondly.
"Ah, yes. Oyashiro-sama's curse".
"Who's Oyashiro-sama?" I asked.
"He's Hinamizawa's local deity," said Tomitake. "There's a lot of legends about him. But, um..." He checked his watch. "It's getting a bit late. Me and Takano-san have places to be."
"Well, it was nice meeting you, Koizumi-kun. I have some notes on the murders that your colleague might want to look at. I'd like to know where you are staying so I can deliver them later."
"...staying?" stammered Haruhi.
Wait. Don't tell me that you sent us out to a village in the middle of nowhere, had us walk around these woods for three hours, and you have no idea where we're staying?
"Well, uh... no. We don't have any plans."
...I can't find anything to say. I'm totally out of snark. Haruhi has hit a new low.
There was a good minute of awkward silence. Then Takano laughed again. Goddamnit, enough with the laugh! You're making me feel extremely uncomfortable!
"Well, if you don't have anywhere to stay, you could probably stay at the clinic. I'm sure Irie-san wouldn't mind."
"Umm, I don't think having them stay at the clinic is the best of ideas." said Tomitake-san.
"Hmmm? Why not?"
"Well, it's just that, well..."
"It doesn't matter," I said, "we'll pass."
Now, you might be thinking: why pass up on this offer? Well, here's a few reasons.
Reason number one: We have supplies for camping. We have a lot of very heavy supplies for camping for weeks. Say what you want, but I've been carrying around this crap for three hours. I don't feel like wasting the effort.
Reason number two: I don't trust these guys. Haruhi's paranoia might just be rubbing off on me, but really. I've seen enough cheesy horror flicks to know that being accepted into a small town by a mysterious couple is akin to having sex or tempting fate, in that you die.
"Kyon!" shouted Haruhi, "we can't just pass up on this offer! You can't pass on hospitality! I won't allow it!"
Look, Haruhi. You're at the helm, so all bets are off in regards to cliches. Someone with a laugh like that probably isn't trustworthy. Whatever happened to "a pair of serial killers"?
"The clinic isn't a good place for a large group to stay, anyway," said Tomitake-san. "Plus, it's all the way on the other side of town."
"I suppose you're right, Jirou-san," said Takano. "Anyway, just contact me if you want the notes, then. Well, It was nice meeting you, Koizumi-kun."
Tomitake-san and Takano-san walked off.
Haruhi was seething. I know that "like a teakettle about to boil" is somewhat of a cliche, but that's really how she looked.
Suddenly, Haruhi charged at me and rammed me with the full weight of one of the bags. She hit me square in the chest with it. Damn it, that hurt! What's in that, metal plates?
The force sent me over the edge of the cliff.
"Kyon!" shouted Asahina-san.
Normally, this would be the point where my life flashes before my eyes. Of course, that can't happen. If it doesn't flash before you when there's a psychotic alien bearing down upon you with a knife (which it didn't), it's not happening. Nevertheless, a mental image of Asahina-san in the maid outfit formed in my head Such an elegant picture of beauty and grace actually almost makes death worth it.
...And it was cut off by feeling someone grab my hand.
It was Nagato.
She looked more concerned than I have ever seen her, ever. Anyone could easily pick the look up. It reminded me of the Nagato in the alternate universe more than anything else.
She pulled me up.
"Haruhi, what the hell?" I shouted.
"You just passed up free lodgings and food! What were you thinking?" shouted Haruhi.
"So, in other words, you wanted to stay with a strange, untrustworthy couple in a mysterious little town in which gruesome murders happen every year?"
"Well, not really when you put it that way, but yeah! It'd get us right in the action!"
Look, I don't care what you think. I don't feel like getting drugged in my sleep.
"So, you got a plan, wise guy?"
"Look, I'm sorry for turning them down. You don't have to kill me for it."
Plus, it's not like you have any plans, either.
"There's a junkyard up ahead. That's what Takano-san said, right? We'll set up camp there."
To be honest, I don't think a junkyard is the best place to stay.
"Take it or leave it, Kyon. Unless you want to die of exposure."
"...fine. But Nagato's leading the way this time."
We all climbed out of the ditch.
"Okay then. Yuki-chan, lead the way!" shouted Haruhi.
Nagato just stood there.
Um, "leading the way", that implies moving, Nagato.
She started walking down the road. We all followed.
"So, it looks like we've arrived at the junkyard." said Haruhi.
"Well, obviously." I said. "It looks like a junkyard to me."
We were looking over what would probably be the epitome of a junkyard. It looked like the place one would shoot stock footage of if you needed a junkyard.
"You see anywhere we can sleep?" I said.
"Not really... okay! Everyone! Spread out! Make sure to stay in the area. Holler if you find anything that we can sleep on or sleep in. Whoever finds something first wins!"
We dispersed into relative parties: Haruhi and I in one party, Nagato and Asahina-san in another, and Koizumi searching solo.
"Haruhi, remind me later to never, ever let you lead us. Ever."
"We ended up walking around dark woods for three hours, completely missed the town, and I almost died. Twice. And the second time, you pushed me."
"But I'm the Brigade Leader! I have to lead!"
"Well, who cares? Ask someone like Nagato to lead, instead."
If Nagato lead us, to be perfectly honest, she'd walk us into a tree, but she'd be pointing us in the right direction.
"Stop whining about it. We're already there."
Now, you may be wondering about why we can't just plant out bags down and say good night. Well, one of the distinct traits of a junkyard is a walking surface compromised mainly of junk. Most of the junk is pointy, rough, or otherwise spaced out in such a way as to provide a rough surface. Therefore flat space is at a premium.
"Jackpot!" shouted Haruhi.
What? Did you find somewhere to stay? Please tell us that you just didn't see some "alien artifact" or any of that crap. It's late, and I'm tired.
She ran ahead over to an old bus, the kind that looked a bit like the kind made famous in the Americas by the hippie movement. I have to admit it. That'd be the perfect place to sleep in this junkyard.
"Guys! Guys! We found a spot!"
Nagato, Koizumi, and Asahina-san walked over. I noticed that they looked... I'm not really sure of the word. Nonplussed? Concerned? Uneased?
"Did you guys even look?" asked Haruhi. "I bet you were just talking. Slacking off is not allowed, but since it's late, I'll let it slide."
We all set our bags on top of the bus. Thankfully, it didn't bend or warp under the weight.
"I must say, Suzumiya-san," said Koizumi, "this is a fantastic find."
"Um... I don't really think we can all fit." said Asahina-san.
"You're right, Mikuru. Okay, we'll take turns, then. First off, let's see how we can get inside."
All the doors are covered in junk. Unless you plan on digging it out (which I will not help you with, just so you know), we're sleeping on the roof.
She started checking each of the windows of the bus. She eventually found one that was unlocked near the front end (I think it was. Buses aren't that asymmetrical.) and climbed inside.
"Kyon, you have to see this!"
I crawled inside. It was a tight fit, but not that unreasonable.
The bus was pretty much emptied out. There were a few knick-knacks placed here and there.
"Huh." I said, "looks like someone was living here."
Haruhi started to mentally calculate the dimensions of the bus.
"So, Kyon, it looks like there's not that much room. If we put our bags outside, we might be able to fit two people in here. What do you think?"
"Well, I'm not all that good with-"
Haruhi had completely stopped. All the color had drained from her face.
Trembling, Haruhi lifted something from the corner of the bus.
No way! Why would there be something like that in a bus?
It was a cleaver. Well, it was sort of a cleaver. No cleaver I've ever seen had ever - or should ever - be hooked like that! Don't they have special names, like billhooks or something?
"Kyon... we shouldn't stay here."
"Well, first off, define here."
"Here. In this junkyard."
"Look. It's fine. I'm happy with where we found. If you want to find a place in the woods to sleep, knock yourself out. As for me. I'm sleeping in here. If you don't want to, I guess I'll just sleep with Asahina-san."
Haruhi switched from scared to flustered, and the color in her face returned with reinforcements upon hearing my trump card. It's not the best trump card I have, but it's one of the few I can safely use with Haruhi.
"I can't trust either of you from doing anything funny. The Brigade leader is a guaranteed resident here. I'll go get some sleeping bags and set up the sleeping arrangements."
Haruhi climbed out, giving me some time to inspect the billhook-cleaver thing - you know what? I'm just going to call it a billhook. Just for the sake of things.
I checked the blade for dried blood. It didn't look rusty in the least. It looked slightly worn, though. What would someone use a blade like that for, anyway? Cutting wood?
Haruhi climbed back through the window, carrying some sleeping bags.
"Us two, tonight. Oh, and there isn't any cell phone service out here. Koizumi checked."
She laid a sleeping bag down and got in rather abruptly.
She fell asleep nearly instantly.
I decided to get in and get some rest, too. It's not that bad. Pretty cozy in here.
So... we're intruding into a small town, presumably with a dark secret. We're investigating a string of murders, and I'm sleeping in a bus that's obviously not abandoned with a paranoid Haruhi and a hooked cleaver. I must say, I'm a bit-
"Kyon," whispered Haruhi.
"Did you hear that?"
"I think I heard footsteps."
"Who knows? Probably the owner of the place."
"Nah. Just kidding. Probably Koizumi or something."
"Kyon! Don't do that! Freaking out or tricking the Brigade leader is punishable by life imprisonment!"
"You didn't hear anything?" asked Haruhi.
"Okay then. Good night, Kyon."
What's going on here, anyway? Haruhi's been paranoid, Koizumi and Asahina are concerned about something, and now there's no cell phone service? Actually, that's justified. It's a rural town. Speaking of which-
Could you quit bugging me? I'm trying to think.
"I think there's someone on the roof." said Haruhi.
"Well, duh. Isn't someone sleeping on the roof?"
"No, they've found other spots to sleep."
"Isn't that a waste of time? I mean, there's room up top."
"No. They'd be too noisy. Could you just go look?"
I got out of my nice, warm, cozy sleeping bag, climbed out through a window into the cold outside, grabbed a flashlight, and looked around.
She was right. Nobody was on the roof. I climbed on top and decided to survey the spot.
The junkyard was actually pretty large, but you could see most of it from there. Koizumi had found a spot right at the foot of the bus, Asahina-san had found a spot farther away. Nagato had... where's Nagato?
I spotted her. She was still awake, standing on the highest hill of garbage, looking off into the distance. She was actually rather breathtaking in the moonlight.
I heard a slight bit of movement off in the distance. I shined my flashlight towards it.
It was a janitor. He was just... standing.
Eh. It's a junkyard. He's probably just throwing something away. No, wait, that's never it. I really shouldn't dismiss such small details.
"Kyon..." said Haruhi.
I re-entered the bus.
"Anything up top?"
"Good to know."
I re-entered my sleeping bag, closed my eyes, and tried to think.
So, there's this 'Oyashiro-sama' that apparently has a curse on the town. Which just so happens to be the murders the SOS Brigade is investigating. This place is weird. It's the archetypical cursed town. It's too cliche. But nevertheless-
Haruhi sounded really scared.
"What?! There's nobody there! Stop freaking out!"
"Kyon... you might not want to open your eyes..."
Defying all logic, I did so.
Right in front of me - I'm talking less than an inch between our faces - was a girl.
There was a girl.
She had short red hair, a white dress, and a rather nice hat. She had a curious look on her face.
She also was completely violating my personal space, and holding that billhook from earlier.
I tried moving. I couldn't, partially because I was too freaking scared and partially because she was right on my chest.
Huh. I am unable to move, staring at a girl with a very sharp weapon and a completely innocent look on her face. Deja vu, maybe?
"Who is this?" she asked.
Look, I'd give you a better answer if you weren't sitting on my chest. And could you put the damn billhook down?
"Who are these people. Rena would like to know..." she said.
If you'd get off me, we'd give you a straight answer. And how did you even get onto me without me noticing?
"Oh. I'm sorry."
She got up and sat down next to me.
"Could you set that down, please?" asked a terrified Haruhi.
The girl set the billhook down beside her.
"So, who are you two, and why are you in Rena's hiding place?"
"Who's Rena?" asked Haruhi.
"Oh, I'm sorry. My name is Ryuugu Rena. It's actually nice to meet you."
"My name is Suzumiya Haruhi, and the boy you just sat on is Kyon."
"Kyon? That's an odd nickname"
She giggled. Yes, I'm aware of how stupid it is. Blame my sister. And do I have to be known as Kyon everywhere I go?
"So, what are you two doing here?" asked Rena. "Rena hasn't seen you or those other people around here before."
"We're in town for the festival." I said.
Me and Haruhi sat up.
"Yeah, we couldn't find anywhere to stay, so we decided to camp out here. You don't mind, do you?" said Haruhi.
"Not at all, not at all," said Rena. "Nobody really comes out here that much. I was just here to pick this up."
She stood up and picked up her billhook. I still want to know why you have such a pointy object that looks like it's only used for killing things.
"Oh, it's just for getting out stuff that's stuck. Nothing big."
"Well, it was nice meeting you, Rena-san." I said.
She giggled as she said my name. Haruhi shot her a look. Rena started to climb out the window.
"So, Rena." asked Haruhi.
"Do you know anything about the murders?"
Rena stopped halfway out the window.
"Rena doesn't know what you are talking about."
Now, 'I don't know what you're talking about' is basically code for 'I know more than I'd like to tell you'.
"Well, it's just that we ran into a young couple on the way here. Tomitake-san and Takano-san." I said. "They said that there were murders for the past five years."
"Past four years." said Rena. "This year will be the fifth."
Rena backed up and decided to stand, making her look rather imposing.
"So, you're saying that you know what we're talking about?" asked Haruhi.
Rena seemed to be slowly but surely winding up. Haruhi, you might want to cool it. She's armed, you know.
"So there is such a thing as Oichihiro-sama?" asked Haruhi.
She was noticeably tensing up now.
"It's real. It's very real."
Wait. The curse is real or the murders are real. Or do you mean Oyashiro-sama is real?
Don't give me a mathematician's answer, damnit!
"It's all real."
"Don't be stupid. Gods don't go around cursing people."
No. They go around butting into people's lives and groping innocent girls. At least, the Greek ones do.
"Can you even prove that Oyashiro-sama exists?"
Wait, Haruhi. You've drawn signs all over your school quad to try to summon aliens (and succeeded, although you don't know that), boldly announced that you're looking to find aliens, time travelers, and espers, have created a club solely to find them that searches the town on a regular basis... and you don't believe in gods? Haruhi, that's called "arbitrary skepticism".
"I'll explain it later."
"Oyashiro-sama exists. That is a fact." said Rena.
"Can you prove it?" said Haruhi.
Could you stop poking the buttons of the girl with the cleaver? "If your enemy is of superior strength, evade him." Sun Tzu said that. And I think he knows a little more about fighting then you do, pal.
"No. I can't. Not here." said Rena.
"Then I don't believe you. For all I'm concerned, Oyashiro-sama is just a bunch of bull-"
"You'd know that she's real if you've had to go through what I've gone through!" snapped Rena.
She grabbed her billhook with both hands. Look, Haruhi, cool it. Didn't you notice that she, I don't know, is getting really pissed? And is standing in front of the only exit?
"Well, it was nice meeting you two!" said Rena.
She exited cheerfully, apparently blissfully ignorant to what she just said.
"She's an odd one." said Haruhi.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the queen of understatement and the maiden of hypocrisy, Suzumiya Haruhi! Give her a big hand, everyone!
"Haruhi." I said.
"May I ask why you were trying to piss off the girl holding the billhook, exactly?"
"Because, she was a cute girl with a sharp weapon! That's not something you see often! You gotta milk those moments for what they're worth!"
Thankfully, that's at least true for you. Besides, I think that, with you around, Nagato would be a bit more reluctant to act.
"And what's this about you not believing in gods?"
"Well, gods are boring! I mean, I like reading mythology, and it's cool, but that's what it is. Myths. And besides, when was the last time you've seen a god - not like a Norse god, but like the Christian one - in a movie or an anime?"
Well, actually, I've heard that there's that one movie...
"Okay, bad example. And besides, religion is just a bunch of crap used to get a lot of people brainwashed. It's just a bunch of druggies that people liked the sound of what they were saying, when you get down to it."
Haruhi, I know a lot of people who would be extremely pissed if they heard what you said.
"You know, Haruhi, I'd like to know your position on the murders."
"Isn't it obvious? It's a townwide conspiracy! And that girl is probably in on it."
Haruhi laid back down.
"We'll save it for tomorrow, anyway. Good night."
I laid back down as well.
So... Haruhi doesn't believe in gods. That makes sense. Does that mean that gods definitely don't exist? Some people would say that that's hypocritical. I'd have to ask Asahina-san about-
"Could you stop bugging me? I'm trying to sleep and I could care less about this point about anything you hear!"
"Do you know where the nearest bathroom is?"
"Wow, this place feels fantastic!" said Haruhi.
The SOS Brigade was walking along a path, away from the main road of the village. We were touring Hinamizawa to get a good layout of the place, and to see what was up. So far, the only main thing of note was the Furude shrine. Apparently, most of the town worships Oyashiro-sama, and they take it very seriously. It's also where the Watanagashi festival itself is held.
"I must agree, Suzumiya-san." said Koizumi. "The air here is definitely a lot cleaner than back home. Perhaps I'd move here after we all graduate."
"No way! All SOS Brigade members are required to stay with the Brigade for life!"
Actually, I think I personally would run as far as I could the moment I get my diploma.
"Besides, how do you know we're going to survive this, anyway?" said Haruhi
"Suzumiya-san... could you please not say things like that?" said Asahina-san.
She has a point. Please tell me you don't expect any of us to die.
"Well, I'm hoping nothing happens, but really. The odds are nearly 100 percent that Mikuru-chan or someone else will die a horrible and painful death. That's how it works."
Look, I like the idea of narrative causality, but if Asahina-san dies, I'm going to kill you. I don't care what would happen afterward.
We came upon a school. It looked small. I wouldn't be surprised if there was only one teacher.
"Awww." said Haruhi. "I can't believe they still have school."
'Still' my ass! We still have school, too. If you knew how many hoops we had to jump through because you had no idea how long we'd be staying here, you'd be a little more grateful. And you're going to have to buy another maid costume for Asahina-san, too. Although, I must admit, seeing the look on Taniguchi's face when he found out we were skipping class for at least two weeks was well worth the price of admission.
There was P.E. or something similar going on. I could see a boy and several girls in their gym clothes having a water balloon fight. It was obvious that the boy was losing. I couldn't help but feel slightly bad for him.
...and that's a lie. Sorry, but schadenfreude is kicking in. It actually feels pretty cathartic to see another guy on the receiving end of that sort of thing.
"Hey, isn't that that creepy girl we saw yesterday?" said Haruhi.
"What, you mean Rena?"
She was right. Rena was definitely involved in the game. She looked... well, completely innocent. They all did. Compared to what I saw last night, with Rena nearly snapping, I could see the idyllic picture shattering. It'd probably make a good movie.
"That looks like so much fun! We should go in there and challenge them to a duel!" said Haruhi.
"Well, I'm going to pass." I said. "Let's just-"
A water balloon, errantly tossed, spiraled through the air towards us. Me, Haruhi, Koizumi, and Asahina-san all dived out of the way. Nagato didn't move. She caught it without expending any effort whatsoever and tossed it away.
Rena and her friends ran up. Besides Rena, there was a brown-haired guy, two green-haired girls (twins, by the looks of it), and two small children.
"Sorry about that!" said one of the green haired girls. She had her hair up in a ponytail.
"Were you aiming for us?" asked Haruhi.
"No." said the green-haired girl. "I just have really bad aim, that's all."
Haruhi gave her a look.
"Oh, hello, Suzumiya-san." said Rena.
"You two know each other?" asked one of the children, a purple-haired girl.
"Not really." I said. "We just ran into each her yesterday."
"They're staying out in the junkyard." said Rena.
"You're sleeping in a junkyard?" asked the boy.
Look, don't ask. We didn't have any other options. Well, no other safe options. Come to think of it, it's not all that- you know what? Forget it. Besides, it's pretty cozy.
"So, Rena." asked Haruhi, "are these your friends?"
"Yep. This is Maebara Keiichi."
"It's nice to meet you." said the boy.
"And those two are Sonozaki Shion and Sonozaki Mion."
"Did you come into town for the festival?" asked one of the twins. For the sake of description, I'll mention here that the other twin was only distinct by having her hair down. You know, it'd be easier on the narrator if you just told me which one of you was Shion and which one was Mion.
"The one with the ponytail is Mion. The other one is Shion." said the blonde-haired girl.
"I've always wanted to ask a question to identical twins like you." said Haruhi.
"Ask away." said Shion.
"Do you ever disguise yourselves as each other?"
"Oh, all the time." said Mion. "It's really quite fun."
"Well, anyway," said Rena, "this is Satoko."
She pointed at the blonde girl.
"Nice to meet you."
"And the other girl is Furude Rika-san." said Rena.
"Oh, do your parents manage the town shrine?" said Asahina-san.
"Well, not... quite. See, her parents died, so she runs the Furude household and the shrine. She's the shrine maiden there, too, and she also plays a major role in the Watanagashi festival. She basically runs the place." said Mion.
Rika looked out of it. She was just sort of staring at us like we were Pizarro.
"I haven't seen these people before..."
"Well, we just arrived into town." said Asahina-san.
"Are you one of those towns that will run us out with torches and pitchforks if we dig too deep into your town's mysteries?" asked Haruhi.
"Yes." said Mion.
She gave us a completely serious look. Well, that certainly reaffirms all of my thoughts in regards to the town.
"I'm joking! I'm joking. To an extent..."
"So, who are you guys?" asked Keiichi.
Haruhi stepped forward.
"My name is Suzumiya Haruhi, and standing before you is the SOS Brigade!"
The other group gave us odd looks.
"Don't ask." I said. "I'm still not sure why she picked it."
"Anyway," said Haruhi, "we would like to challenge you to a water balloon duel!"
"Shouldn't you introduce the rest of us first?" said Koizumi.
"You have a point. Anyway, from left to right, that's Kyon, Nagato Yuki, Asahina Mikuru, and Koizumi Itsuki."
"Nice to meet you." said Asahina-san.
"..." said Nagato.
"A duel sounds fun." said Keiichi. "Alright. We accept your offer."
"There's a small problem, Keiichi, sir." said Rika. "We're nearly out of water balloons."
"Alright, we'll use squirt guns then."
"That won't work either, sir. All we have is six squirt guns."
"Not a problem." said Haruhi. "Just scatter them around. Whoever finds the weapons uses them."
Haruhi, this is a squirt gun fight, not a first-person shooter.
"I don't know. That sounds like it take a lot of extra effort." said Rena.
"Well, you could always spare us the effort and forfeit ahead of time."
"Hah! Why would we?" said Keiichi.
"Suzumiya-san has a point." said Koizumi. "You're going up against the SOS Brigade, and unfortunately, the SOS Brigade losing isn't an option."
The blonde girl (Satoko, right?) laughed. My god. That is the most taunting, malicious laugh I have heard. Ever. Kefka, eat your heart out.
"Is that so? Well, nothing can stand up against the Games Club and our friendship!"
"There is no bond stronger than the one between the members of the SOS Brigade!" said Haruhi.
Yeah, yeah. Pierce the heavens, kick reason to the curb, yadda yadda yadda. Look, can we just get on with it already?
"Okay." said Haruhi. "First off, we need balanced teams. One of you guys has to sit out."
The other group formed a circle. By the sounds of it, they were deciding through Rock, Paper, Scissors.
"Okay, Satoko, it looks like you're out."
"So, what are the rules?" said Keiichi.
"Okay! There's one rule!" said Haruhi. "Well, more like two. First, for the sake of fairness, there's a thirty second delay before anyone attacks anyone. Second, whatever team stays dry the longest wins!"
The other group traded devious glances. I could swear I heard a "Hehehehe..." in there as well. Are you sure you're not forgetting any rules?
"It's a lot funner when there's no rules to bog you down!" said Haruhi.
"Your rules are fair and just, Suzumiya-san." said Keiichi.
100 percent certain there's nothing you're missing? Although I can't personally think of any game-breaking caveats.
Satoko handed him a water balloon.
"When this water balloon hits the ground, the game starts."
"Fair enough." said Haruhi. "Just don't aim for us, okay?"
Keiichi tossed the water balloon a good distance away. It exploded.
The game, as they say, is afoot.
The other group, the "Games Club", immediately ran off and went inside the school. It then dawned on me just where Haruhi's rules didn't quite cover. Judging by the look on her face, she noticed it too.
"Well, go get 'em! We don't have much time!" she said. "We'll think of something!"
I decided not to question the situation (as completely unfair as it may be) and simply run after them.
I entered the school. It was small, but not actually that bad. Pretty good quality overall But I don't have time for descriptions.
I caught a glimpse of Rika entering a door.
With fifteen seconds left on the clock, I entered the classroom.
"Freeze! Don't move or we'll shoot!"
There were several guns pointing straight at me. They had all set up in the classroom with the squirt guns. I hate ambushes.
"That's not fair! You can't have ALL the guns!" I said.
Wait a second. Six guns for five people. That means that there should be- no, wait. Mion's dual-wielding water pistols. Goddamnit, isn't everything supposed to be in our favor?
"All's fair in love and war!" said Mion.
The group had surrounded me with evil grins on their faces. Keiichi was blocking the exit. Wait, did she just say she had a crush on me?
"Are those even loaded?"
There's my window of opportunity. With eight seconds left, I turned towards the door, wrestled the squirt gun out of Keiichi's hands, plowed through him, and out the door.
I turned around on my heels and fired.
The gun fired a tiny, pathetic dribble of water. Figures.
I, on the other hand, was throuroughly drenched by a flurry of blasts.
"One down, four to go!" said Keiichi.
"I still say that's complete bull-"
"Uh uh uh!" said Shion. "There are children around, you know."
Rika smiled a smile that vaguely suggested that she could care less about my language but was going along with it anyway.
Aww. That was so cute it makes my teeth hurt. I think there's something up with this girl.
"Okay, you have to sit out now." said Rena.
Fine. But it's still not fair in the slightest that you have all the guns. Wait, I still have one. Even though I'm out, I can give it to Nagato! I'm sure she can get gunslinging skills that would make Spike Speigel look like Vincent Vega!
"Oh, and hand over your gun, too."
Never mind. I swear, can these guys hear my thoughts or something?
I begrudgingly handed my gun to Mion, who gave it to Keiichi.
"Did you guys know that my gun wasn't loaded?" asked Keiichi.
"Of course we did!" said Mion. That's why we gave it to you."
Keiichi looked comically annoyed.
Keiichi exited the building, and promptly got nailed by a torrent of water. The other members of his group burst into laughter, flustering him again.
The rest of us exited the building to see who got him.
It was Koizumi, standing on the roof with an empty bucket in his hand.
"No fair! I thought it was a squirt gun fight!" said Keiichi.
Hey, you guys took all the guns and then ambushed me. You're in no position to complain.
"Suzumiya-san's rules only stated that you had to get wet. And the rules never said that this was against the rules."
I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you thought there were rules in the first place.
So... it's now split four to four. That seems even enough.
Mion lined up a shot and fired at Koizumi.
Well, scratch that. Three to four.
Koizumi made his way down to ground level as the "Games Club" spread out.
"Well, it looks like this isn't going too well. It's odd that they can be taking us down with this much efficiency. Thankfully, I'm sure that Suzumiya-san has more than victory on her plate at the moment. There's still the mystery of Hinamizawa to crack, after all."
"So, losing is an option?" I said.
"If it turns out that way."
Well, that's rather reassuring.
I then heard a most horrifying sound, one that chilled my bones and made my heart skip a few beats. It was a cry of despair that shook the very foundation of my soul.
"Aieee! I'm hit!"
I ran over to see a sad, sad sight.
Asahina-san's beautiful figure was thoroughly and utterly drenched. She was wearing an expression of despair and embarrassment. Her blue shirt and her white skirt were fully saturated, clinging to her beautiful Lolita figure. The water had removed the shirt's ability to preserve her modesty, revealing a white, lacy bra. And even that was faltering...
Asahina-san tried to cover herself from the views of the outside world. To my relief and slight consternation, she somewhat succeeded.
"They got me..."
"I'm surprised you could end up getting so drenched with just squirt guns." I said.
"Well, it wasn't all just squirt guns. Suzumiya-san had found some water balloons earlier. She made me try to hide them. But I guess they were a bit old..."
She pulled a scrap of latex out of her bra. Wait, if Haruhi decided to hide the water balloons there...
...how the hell does that even work? Can they fit?
"I tried throwing one of them at that Rena girl, but she caught it and threw it back."
So... that makes it four to two now. Crap.
I decided to watch the action.
I walked over to see what Nagato was doing. At this point, she was cornered by Mion in a corner.
"Well, do you have any last words?" said Mion.
...and the shot didn't hit her. It was like it disappeared in mid-air.
Mion fired a few shots at the wall to check to see if her guns still worked. They did. She fired several more shots at Nagato. She was still completely dry.
"Why can't I hit you?"
"Not my fault."
"But why? The gun works!"
"The shots appear to be evaporating in mid-air".
"How is that even possible?!"
"It is a hot day."
"...what the hell does that have to do-"
Mion was cut off by a fierce blast of water.
It looked like Haruhi had managed to find a hose. Well, now we might actually have a chance.
"That's even less fair!" complained Mion.
"All's fair in love and war!" said Haruhi.
Haruhi started to drench the entire area. Shion and Rena had dove behind a wall. Rika was... where did Rika go?
"I'm sure she thought of something." said Mion. She shot me a grin.
One thing about these guys that I noticed is that they are really tightly knit. Heck, they probably have better teamwork than even the SOS Brigade.
Haruhi's hose suddenly slowly stopped shooting water.
Then, apparently not learning from any comedic media whatsoever, Haruhi did the one most stupid thing you could possibly do with a hose that had stopped running - look directly into it. Unsurprisingly, she was nailed by a torrent of water. And that, my friends, is why we are losing.
I looked over to see Rika manning the faucets.
"That's not fair..." grumbled Haruhi.
Haruhi's breathing was noticeably tensing up. Koizumi, now I think is the time to question your judgement on Haruhi's temper.
Current Status: Nagato Yuki versus Sonozaki Shion, Ryuugu Rena, and Furude Rika.
"That makes it just about even, then." said Koizumi.
The three of them had surrounded Nagato with their squirt guns. Nagato was unarmed.
Rena fired her squirt gun. Nagato dodged it. Well, "dodged" might not be right. Accompanied by a "ptth" sound, Nagato had moved so fast that it looked like she was simply not where the shot was hitting. I'm pretty sure that was called "flash-stepping" or something like that.
Shion fired. Nagato dodged.
Rika fired. Nagato dodged.
Rena fired again. Nagato dodged.
This went on for quite some time. Keiichi and Mion looked awed.
"Go Yuki-chan! Up, down! Up, down! Left, right! Left, right! You can do it!"
Haruhi, on the other hand, was ecstatically cheering Nagato on. She still seemed tense, though.
Suddenly, something happened that, in retrospect, would change the entire course of the trip and probably all of our lives. No, really.
Shion fired another shot. Yuki dodged-
-and then dropped out of sight with a clang and a splash.
Haruhi's excitement and vigor turned instantly into a shocked, glazed over look.
Satoko laughed that goddamn mocking laugh of hers.
"Oh, it looks like she ran into one of my traps. How unfortunate." She said it in a way that only people like Taniguchi or maybe Nagato could not notice the sarcasm.
"Traps?" said Asahina-san. But aren't you-"
"No, no. They were for the game before this one."
She had a catlike smile that didn't exactly scream "honesty".
Yuki climbed out of a pit, soaking wet.
Something clicked within Haruhi. No, that's not right. I'm pretty sure 'snapped' is way better suited to describe it. Or maybe something awakened? No, that sounds stupid. I'm pretty sure if I described what is happening as "a demon awakening inside her", I'd be heckled off the stage.
"That was total bullshit!"
Haruhi picked up a squirt gun and tossed it straight at Satoko's head. There must have been quite a bit of force behind it, because it made a very loud sound and knocked Satoko over.
"That's cheating! You just had to break the one rule I set, didn't you!"
Technically, that wasn't really a- wait, Haruhi, what are you doing?
I watched with horror as Satoko tried to feebly crawl/stumble away from Haruhi, only to be yanked upward by her shirt. I think she might be bleeding.
Haruhi smacked her.
She WAS apologizing! Let her go! This is insane!
I tried to see if I could stop Haruhi from killing the poor girl. I tried to pull Haruhi off, but the instant I got close to Haruhi, she backhanded me. I was knocked straight backwards and I would have probably gone farther if Koizumi and Asahina-san didn't catch me. Damn, she's strong.
Haruhi looked straight at me. It was a frightening sight. I had never seen such rage on anything short of a wolverine, and her eyes... what's up with her eyes?
"I think I'd advise against taking any action." said Koizumi.
Look, I could care less about the fate of the universe or-
"Not for that reason." said Koizumi, giving me a surprisingly stern look. "But for the fact that she'd probably rip our head off if we tried."
Haruhi smacked Satoko again.
"I... I'm sorry..."
"Louder! Nobody can hear you if you're that quiet, you brat!"
I'm surprised that Satoko hasn't started crying yet.
Haruhi smacked her again. No, wait. Spoke too soon.
"What was that?"
Oh, god. You've gotten her crying out for her brother now. Seriously, stop!
"Suzumiya-san!" said Asahina-san, "Stop it! You're hurting her!"
"Shut up, Mikuru! I know what I'm doing."
No. You have no idea what you're doing.
Haruhi tossed Satoko down onto the ground and started kicking her in the side. At this point, Satoko was wailing.
She looked at Keiichi for a second before being kicked again. Keiichi looked like he wasn't quite sure what to do.
Rena was about to try to intervene, but Rika just grabbed the hem of her skirt and shook her head.
Haruhi had moved to kicking her in the face. That looks really painful.
"Nii-nii! Nii-nii! Nii-nii... where are-"
Haruhi stomped on her head. I winced. Asahina-san looked away.
"Oh, 'nii-nii, 'nii-nii'! Shut up! Nobody cares about you."
Now that's just petty, Haruhi. She's like a schoolyard bully. Actually, I think she is a schoolyard bully by technicality right now. I can't watch this...
"You're nii-nii isn't here to help you. Who is you're nii-nii, anyway? Let me guess. He's probably some fat, lazy moron who's too self-obsessed to help you-"
"THAT'S A LIE!"
I heard a loud electrical zap. What just happened?
I looked up to see Haruhi falling to her knees, and then the rest of the way down. It looks like she had had a taser driven directly into the back of her neck (which probably would have hurt like hell), courtesy of Shion.
This demands repeating: Haruhi just got tased.
There was an awkward pause. It couldn't not be awkward. I mean, one member of a group just got tased because she beat up a member of the other group for no real reason.
Shion was seething. She actually looked a bit similar to how Haruhi did while she was beating up Satoko.
"Satoko!" said Keiichi.
He slowly helped lift her to her feet. Satoko's face was bloody and marred with dirt.
"Are you okay?"
"Don't... don't worry about it." said Satoko. She smiled weakly. "I've had worse..."
Keiichi and Shion helped carry Satoko into the school, presumably for medical attention.
This left Mion, Rena, and Rika, the rest of the SOS Brigade, and Haruhi's unconscious body.
"We're completely sorry about that." said Asahina-san. "I hope we didn't make too bad of an impression."
"Just so you know," I said, " she's normally a really nice girl, she's never acted like that before, and we're nothing like that at all. Honest."
"Oh, don't worry too much, sir." said Rika. "It's not the first time that Satoko-chan has been beaten up, and I'm sure it won't be the last."
She glanced at Mion.
"So... I'm assuming we forfeit due to our leader being incapacitated?" said Koizumi.
Mion and Rena just sort of shrugged.
"I think we need to go help out Satoko." said Rena.
"I think you're right." said Mion.
The two walked back inside, followed by Rika.
There was an awkward pause.
"Should we head back to camp?" I said.
"I think that sounds best." said Koizumi.
Me and Koizumi picked up Haruhi, and braced her on our shoulders. We started the long trek back to camp.
I'm pretty sure I don't like this place. We've ran into two girls with weapons, nobody seems trustworthy, and to top it off, Haruhi's acting like a psychopath. Although, compared to what she'd be acting like in a few days, it's practically the pinnacle of sanity. You think this stuff is bad? Wait until people start dying. Then the story really picks up.