Guardians of Oz

To my love, who helped this hopeless romantic find love.

Chapter One: Home

July 31, 2011 8:01 AM

Kenji Koiso was sleeping soundly in his one-bedroom apartment. It had been a while since he was able to sleep. Peaceful nights like this were hard to come by for him lately. High school had just finished a while back and he was glad that he was able to make it into Tokyo University. He spent the past few weeks looking for a place to live and figuring out exactly how he was going to get around. If that wasn't enough, he also had his job to do on Oz. Every since last year's incident with Love machine, which both condemned and praised Kenji, he was given a special position on the Oz staff.

There was a bit of noise outside of his doorway. It didn't seem to wake Kenji though; he appeared to be completely knocked out. Seconds passed, and the person outside finally found the right key to open the doorway. BAM! A lovely, dark haired woman burst through the door with a pair of boxes in her hands. She appeared to be smiling and humming a song that she had heard on the radio only a few minutes ago.

"What the—," Kenji exclaimed as he sat up. He thought that the sound of the door opening was similar to the sound of a gunshot. He stared at the girl, who was giggling as she was placing the boxes on the floor. "What's so funny, Natsuki," Kenji asked, slightly annoyed.

"I told you I'd be here at eight didn't I," Natsuki said, making her way to the kitchen. She opened the fridge to grab a jug of orange juice. "I can't believe that you're still asleep."

"It's summer." Kenji responded, slightly annoyed.

"And you need to enjoy it more." Natsuki poured herself a glass of juice.

Kenji sighed as he made his way to his closet to find a new set of clothes. "Believe me, I would love to enjoy my summer, but I'm swamped with everything Oz is having me do."

Natsuki had finished her glass or orange juice and placed it in the sink. She moved to where the boy was and gently hugged him. "Well, you got the next few days off, right. Now, I'll be a good little girl and step out and let you change. I still have some more boxes to bring in." She gently kissed the boy on the cheek and danced her way out of the house.

Kenji quickly changed into a loose shirt and shorts. It had been a year since he agreed to become her fake fiancé and now he was her real boyfriend. She was the one who convinced him to continue his schooling, which he could easily pay for because of his job at Oz, the world's largest social networking system. He was a part of a group called the Guardians, who were a kind of police force for Oz. It was the job of the Guardians to watch over the community and to make sure no hacker or virus had the ability to take over like it did last year.

Being a Guardian wasn't a full time job—even Natsuki and her fourteen year old cousin Kazuma were known as Guardians. This was different for Kenji though. He still remembers that only one person had lost their life because of Love Machine's actions. Ever since summer had started, it seemed as if he worked non-stop to make perfectly sure that nothing like it would happen again. The words of the old woman were still ringing through his mind. Please, protect Natsuki…

Today was the beginning of Kenji's break from his work as a Guardian. Many of his friends and even a few higher ups told him that a break was necessary for his mentality and his health. After a long time of pestering, Kenji finally agreed that he would stay away from Oz for a week. He couldn't help but feel that Natsuki's motives for moving in together was to make sure the he did break way from the computer every once in a while. That couldn't be the only reason though. They were going to the same University after all, and they had been with each other for a long time now.

The two of them spend the majority of the morning helping Natsuki move into the apartment. It was small, but they both felt that it was just right for the two of them to live in. Afterwards, both of them fell flat on the bed, laughing like young children. Kenji made a reach for his phone but Natsuki quickly grabbed it from his hands and powered it down.

"Hey," Kenji exclaimed. "I was just going to call Takashi."

"Right," Natsuki responded in a hushed tone. She took out the battery and put it in her purse. Finally, she put the powerless phone back together and threw it half way across the room. Giggling, she sat up from the bed. "You can have your battery back after you take me to a movie."

Kenji sat up, pretending to be mad at her. It's not like she's being cruel, Kenji though as he was now standing. She's only looking out for you. Relax, you idiot. He then smiled, and offered a hand to lift her up. After making sure that he had enough money in his wallet, Kenji grabbed the keys and wrapped his arm around Natsuki. They both blushed as they headed toward the door.

"Bye, Grandma," They both exclaimed.

In the corner of the room was a small shrine. There was a large picture in the center of an elderly woman with a wide smile. Sakae Jinnouchi's presence could still be felt around her family. Not saying good-bye to her would have just been rude.

Inside Oz, everything was seemingly peaceful. For many of its users, it was just a normal day. People were doing their jobs while others were finding ways to make their lives simpler and easier. Among those who were simply wandering around was a tall man with a rabbit head who was known as King Kazma, who was controlled by young Kazuma.

"Yo," Kazma said.

He was meeting up with Takashi, something that the two of them had been doing for a while now. Although they shared a large age gap, the two of them felt a respect for one another. They both played a big part in the destruction of Love Machine and were friends ever since.

"Hey," Takashi responded, whose avatar was currently a floating head. He believed that having a body was too similar to regular avatars. "I take it that Kenji's finally gone."

"Yep. I bet that Natsuki is probably forcing him to go places with her, just to make sure that he's too busy to do anything else."

"Or their probably doing something else that's keeping him away."

"Like what?"

"It's nothing."

The two of them found it best to look for hackers and virus by simply interacting with the other users. Many had recognized King Kazma as the best Martial Arts fighter in all of Oz, which was the reason why he was allowed to be a Guardian at such a young age. Kazuma's computer made a strange beeping noise, and then a text bubble appeared in front of him.

King Kazma! I am Reverse Karma!

I challenge you to a battle! One-on-one!

Do you accept?


Kazuma was used to these kinds of e-mails; many users have thought that they found a strategy to defeating him. Kazuma had a different passion for what he did, which was the reason why he always won his matches. The only thing that could beat him was deleted a year ago, and he was never coming back.

"Challenge accepted," Kazuma said as he pushed his mouse of the 'Yes' button.

Another bubble appeared underneath the challenge.

Let the game begin again.