"Just give up, Yuuta-kun; you'll never beat Hideki-nii-san or Sakura-nee-san."
"Then I'll die trying."
"…ama-kun? Akiyama-kun, are you al-right?"
Yuuta jerked awake immediately, not knowing when he had even fallen asleep, or where he did so. Had he fallen asleep on sentry duty again? How shameful!
The girl who woke him up didn't seem to mind, though. She had forgiven Yuuta for every mistake he had made so far, and in fact seemed to forget them very quickly. Such was the leader of the resistance group here. Indeed, rather than scold him for falling asleep on sentry duty, Fujimoto Asako-san held out a can of Key Coffee.
"Here," she said. "This ought to wake you up a bit."
Smiling in appreciation, Yuuta accepted the can, cracking it open. Yes, Key Coffee is useful for waking you up, among other things.
Fujimoto-san opened up a can herself, drinking what Yuuta estimated to be half a can in one go. "Ah! Key Coffee really is the best!" she said, a wide, carefree grin on her face.
"Yes, it is," Yuuta responded with a grin in turn. "Who would have thought Key Coffee could be used to test for hypnosis?"
Fujimoto-san giggled. "Maybe it's because hypnosis kills off your taste buds, along with other senses?" she suggested. "That could explain why all of Noriko-chan's goons are so deaf."
After mentioning the name Fujimoto's smile faded a bit. She often made the mistake of saying the name so casually, only to remember that it was the very tyrant they now fought. Normally, of course, Fujimoto-san would forget about it eventually, only to make the same mistake some time later. The more Fujimoto thought about it, though, the harder it became to forget.
Yuuta kept an apologetic smile on his face. It was, after all, all he could do properly; smile. Fujimoto-san was quite similar, in that respect, as she shook away the bad thoughts, and switching back to smiling over idle chit-chat.
"So what's your story?" she asked.
This question caused Yuuta to pause for a moment. "My story?" he repeated. "What do you mean?"
"You know. Everyone in the resistance has some kind of weird back-story," Fujimoto explained. "What regrets did you have from your past life?"
Putting down his (now empty) can of Key Coffee, Yuuta pondered for a moment. He tried his best to ignore his 'past life', as it only served as an anchor in the sea of failure. Now, though, that Fujimoto-san, the leader of the group, had brought up the topic, maybe it was time to seriously consider what went wrong. What did Yuuta regret in his past life?
Finally, Yuuta thought better than to go into an emotional tale, and decided to give the summary with a smile. "I was never proud of myself," he said. "That's it, really."
Yuuta expected the curious and talkative Fujimoto-san to try out for more detail, but to his surprise, she merely nodded. "I see," she said. "That makes sense."
With a wry smile, Yuuta commented, "Anti-climactic compared to yours."
"Don't say that," Fujimoto said, smiling likewise. "We all have our reasons."
With that, Fujimoto-san stood up. "Come on," she beckoned Yuuta-san up. "We're going to have a meeting now; they managed to fix the laptop. Your shift's over anyway."
"Yuuta onii-chan, I really think this is a bad idea…"
"Come on, just help me! This is the only time I've got to do something that I can be proud of!"
"You shouldn't jump onto the railway like that! A train could be coming any moment now!"
"But this man is bleeding! If I don't help him, he'll die!"
"Yuuta onii-san! Hurry! Get back up here! A train's coming!"
"Hold on… almost there! Just a bit… more…"
"And I thought those notes on 'God to be' were wacky," Fujimoto-san said, eyes glued to the spinning 'SSS' crest. "But to go so far as to completely program a software…"
'No God, No Buddha, No Angels' was what the crest read. A highly organized band of guerrillas, terrorists, and freedom fighters, depending on opinion.
"Yeah…" Yuuta agreed. His eyes just as fixated on the screen as Fujimoto's were. "Do you think Noriko could have done all this on her own?"
Fujimoto-san scrolled through a list of weapons, her eyes shining in amazement of the quality of the program, and all its flash effects. "I don't think so," she murmured. "But she did seem to spend a lot of time on this laptop."
"I think this is probably where she got all her crazy information from," Yuuta said. "You know; she's been having guns since a few months ago, and we've never really figured out how or where she got them." Yuuta picked up one of the notes on 'God to be'. "And this might be where she gets her whole… 'take over the world,' and 'I'm God!' attitude from."
Fujimoto-san nodded in agreement. It was quite plausible; she had been quite normal of a person until she started playing with the laptop, and started being even freakier after she got the notes from the Vice President's office. She was an 'NPC', as the laptop seemed to define.
Or was she…
"Fujimoto-san?" Yuuta asked, "could you please search the word 'Angel' for a moment? I'm sure I saw it a while ago."
"Angel?" Fujimoto parroted. "Why?"
Understanding that Yuuta seemed to have had a moment of realization she complied, and searched the page 'Angel'. In response the laptop flashed with a definition of the word, with diagrams and pictures of a small, white-haired girl, who looked mostly normal. Under the summary, it read "The Student Council President. Distinct from humans, and from NPCs. Devoid of human emotions, limited social interaction; Enemy of the Afterlife Battlefront (SSS). She is the emissary of God, and wants use all to disappear."
Yuuta read the description again and again. Something just seemed to fit; that the last batch of humans had made a laptop full of information on weapons, guerrilla tactics, on definitions of friend, foe and NPC, and that now they were all gone. Did they lose? He wondered. If they did, I hope we won't follow in their footsteps!
The definition of 'Angel' was one that didn't quite fit Yamamoto, though; she seemed a little too inelegant to be considered 'Angel'. But her attitude did fit the description of 'God', or at least, 'God to be'. Perhaps an Angel changes from different incarnations?
Fujimoto-san seemed to understand this train of thought, asking, "You're thinking Noriko-chan is 'Angel', aren't you?"
Yuuta nodded. It just seemed to fit the situation. "She's either that, or God; but I really don't want her to be."
Fujimoto-san giggled in amusement at the thought of Noriko actually being 'God'. "Then let's agree to call her 'Angel'." Looking back at the laptop, she added, "and since we're the 'Rebels against God', we might as well call ourselves the 'Afterlife Battlefront'."
"Key Coffee?" asked the smiling, friendly Student Council President. "It tastes rather nice, if you ask me."
Yuuta was unresponsive. He just sat in the chair, staring out the window, silently. He had failed at everything he had tried to, and had died accomplishing nothing.
"Suit yourself," said the friendly orange-haired boy, putting the can down on the table, just in case Yuuta changes his mind. "Are you sure you don't want to talk about it?"
Yuuta glanced back, as though to ask, "about what?" to which the Student Council President replied, "About what happened. About why you're here; since everyone here is here for a reason."
Yuuta still said nothing. He just slumped back down, and stared out the window again.
The Council President chuckled at this response. "If you don't want to talk then that's fine. It's perfectly understandable. Most people don't tend to; especially since this isn't the afterlife they expected."
He walked over beside Yuuta, and also looked out the window, following his line of sight. "That girl over there really should be in class," he said. "But then she doesn't really listen to me anymore."
Again, Yuuta glanced up at the Student Council President with token interest. The President himself continued, "She's been around for a week now. She's changed quite a bit," he said. "She didn't always have such a bright smile on her face."
Yuuta squinted a little at the distant figure, to see that, indeed, she had a smile on her face. It was a carefree and cheerful smile. Yuuta really wished he could smile like that. As Yuuta squinted, he noticed the girl had a can in her hand.
The Student Council President grinned as he watched the boy reach over and grab the can of Key Coffee he had previously refused. "I knew someone just like her, in my earlier days," he said. "She had a similar story behind her, and a similar attitude." For a moment, the orange haired boy seemed to lose his focus on talking to Yuuta, his eyes gleaming a little in nostalgia.
The Council President snapped back to reality. Yuuta had finally talked. "She fell in love with a baseball player, and she let go of the past," the Student Council President said. "And now she's in heaven. And he is too."
Yuuta nodded, and slumped back down, staring at the girl drinking her can of Key Coffee in the distance. She seemed not to notice anything around her, and didn't seem to care that she was the only person out on the field at the moment.
'A baseball player, huh…?' Yuuta thought to himself. 'Yeah… I guess I'd feel better about myself if I took up baseball.'
Yuuta marched towards the meeting room, taking note of all his fellow resistance members. Quite a few of them were drinking Key Coffee, or sharing plates of mapo tofu. Both seemed to have an addicting after taste that everyone agreed was something worth being dead for. Why didn't they make this kind of meal back in the world of the living? He wondered.
Others were cleaning their weapons. Quite a few weapons had been raided from the guards and patrols, and it was easy to infiltrate the guild as workers to get ammunition. Most of these guns, though, were used to infiltrate Angel's army, and to get information from the inside; after all, you were quite obviously a fake if you didn't carry the right gun.
Whoever planned Angel's army really had a thing for Russian armament, Yuuta noted. Using the laptop he had managed to identify that just about every gun used by Angel's teams were some sort of AK-variant. With recent standardization of equipment, it seemed that they now use AK-74M rifles, or AKS-74U submachine guns, depending on role.
The resistance, on the other hand, had a mix of all weapons they managed to grab and steal. H&K G-3, FN FAL, SPAS 12, L85A1, and various heavy weapons.
Yuuta opened the door into the meeting room; one of the only bright locations in the what was now called the SSS's hideout.
"Akiyama-kun, you're here!" the leader, Fujimoto-san, exclaimed. "Excellent. We're just about to start."
Yuuta took a look around the room at all his fellow resistance leaders. There was Tanaka Izumi-san, a rather simple and straight-forward fighter, who generally led raid teams. Himeko was the intelligence officer, whom was part of Angel's puppet Student Council (it seemed she gets yelled at often). There was a group of half-a-dozen people whom Yuuta could never remember the names of, since they always stayed together; they were some of the first people to be tricked by Angel, something about cafeteria food, and the way it was cooked; one of them claimed to have been thrown off the building, but nobody believed her. Lastly was a nameless girl, who spoke little, and spent all her time cleaning a grey/black Dragunov SVD. In fact, she was the first person in the resistance to wield a weapon; everyone has yet to figure how.
"Al-right. This is going to be our first, and hopefully our last major operation," Fujimoto-san said. The projector screen lit up with the animated 'SSS' symbol. 'The Rebels against God.' The mood of the SSS leader had changed completely in that instant, from a clumsy, cheerful and forgetful girl to a competent and confident commander.
"According to our intelligence officer," she gave a slight nod to Himeko as she spoke, "Angel seems to be getting increasingly frustrated and unhinged. In other words, she is beginning to lose her cool, and is most likely to make mistakes. This is perceived as the best time to strike as we may not get another chance where Angel is in a state of confusion, especially given that Angel's forces get more organized every day."
The intel officer, Himeko, put a few files on the table, saying, "Angel's forces will soon be introducing a standardized uniform besides that of the white armband that they currently wear. This will make our infiltration missions many times more difficult as we do not have such uniforms, and these uniforms are not as easy to replicate as the armbands are."
Fujimoto-san nodded. Of course, having already heard of this, she knew of the situation, but she allowed her companions a moment to digest this information before she translated what it meant. "If that happens, then the resistance will lose its greatest advantage and camouflage. Before that happens, we must strike at Angel and her puppets."
Tanaka interrupted, "We've been striking at Angel for the past few weeks many times!" he said. "We've nearly succeeded in sniping her twice, and we've blown up her main head-quarters at the Council room."
Fujimoto nodded, and put a hand up to stop Tanaka from continuing. "Indeed, we've made assassination attempts on Angel, as well as multiple guerrilla raids on her forces. However, such tactics are not enough to win a war. Which is why we shall be commencing Operation Water Flea."
Everyone in the room, save for Tanaka seemed to stand up in shock at the mention of Operation Water flea. Oh, and the nameless quiet girl with the long rifle. "No way!" they were saying. "You don't mean…" "Are we really ready for that…?"
Tanaka stood a little confused for a moment. He took a glance at the unnamed girl, who also had not acted surprised. "Nee, anata," he called. "Hey, you." The girl glanced up from cleaning the lens of the gun. "Do you know what they're all talking about?" Yuuta asked. In response, the girl nodded, and went back to cleaning her rifle.
It seems I'm the only person not informed of this 'Operation Water Flea'.
"Excuse me," Yuuta interrupted the uproar of his fellow group leaders. "Could somebody please explain to me what 'Operation Water Flea' is?"
Fujimoto-san smiled. "I'm glad you asked." She pressed a button on the laptop, and various images and diagrams of maps and all sorts of locations appeared. "Operation Water Flea is the complete re-incarnation of the 'Afterlife Battlefront' as a resistance against God, and Angel." She clicked another few buttons to continue the animation on the screen. "It is a highly complex mission that will involve everyone, where we will suddenly attack Angel and her forces simultaneously in every way possible."
Fujimoto took a look at Tanaka-san. "Tanaka, you're in charge of storming and occupying these rooms in the school buildings," she pointed at the diagram of the school. Tanaka-san nodded.
"You got it."
Fujimoto-san then took a look at Himeko-san. "Himeko; I know we've put you in a lot of risk, and that this mission will be the greatest risk of all, but could you try lure Angel out into an ambush in the corridor from our infiltration teams?"
Himeko-san nodded as well. "If this plan succeeds, any risk is worth it."
Fujimoto-san glanced at the large crowd of half-a-dozen friends. "All of you," she said, not bothering to name them individually, for they had little individuality, "You guys, take a squad of people each and try to harass any of Angel's units as they mobilize. Try to remain in cover, and reduce casualties." The whole group nodded, and began to plan amongst themselves.
Fujimoto-san glanced then at the unnamed girl with the rifle. "Nee-anata" she called.
The girl looked up for a moment, still cleaning the barrel of the SVD, "Bell tower. 126.3 meters."
Fujimoto-san nodded in satisfaction. "Finally, Akiyama-kun." Yuuta stiffened to attention, wondering what his mission will be. "You come with me."
"What!?" he protested. "Don't I get to be in charge of anything?"
"No, not really."
The bluntness of the comment stung Yuuta for a moment. I guess I'll never get a moment to be proud of. "Fine then," he said. "But why was I the only person not informed of 'Operation Water Flea'?"
Fujimoto-san giggled, reverting back for a moment to her cheerful, carefree self. "Because I wanted to be able to explain the plan to someone at the last minute, like they do in movies," she explained. "It just makes everything seem so much cooler, and more dramatic. Since all you had to do was follow me anyway, I decided you didn't need to know the plan at first."
Such a trivial reason, but Yuuta accepted it.
Once again, Fujimoto-san put on her serious face. "Any questions?" she asked. "No? Good." She raised her hand to the sky. "Operation… START!"
"Yuuta nii-san? Why do you always try so hard at everything?"
"You try so hard at everything. At games, at sports, at school… you even try eating fastest at dinner."
"Well, my little sister, it's because I want to be known for something."
"Known for something?"
"Yeah. I want to be good at something… the best at something. I want to be proud of myself for something. Just once in my life, I want to be seen as the best in the family for something."
"Just give up, Yuuta-kun; you'll never beat Hideki-nii-san or Sakura-nee-san."
"Then I'll die trying."
"Heh. Yeah, you're probably right."