Prologue: Set-up and Take Down

With summer break coming down on us rapidly, one would think that the average high school student would be able to have some time off to enjoy life before being forced to cram all their summer homework a few days before classes resume.

Unfortunately for me, and perhaps for the other members of the SOS Brigade (the Saving the world by Overloading it with fun Haruhi Suzumiya Brigade), our activities don't simply end because school does. Haruhi always seemed to have something totally random and out of the world planned for us every time we get a break from school, and the summer break was no exception. As per usual, the fact that she always charges ahead and makes decision without consulting anyone else in the brigade continues to give me severe headaches. At this point though any attempts at a refusal would instantly be shot down by Haruhi on the spot. Our other club members, Itsuki Koizumi, Yuki Nagato, and Mikuru Asahina never seem to be able to object to Haruhi either, leaving me as the sole opposing voice to her wild schemes that never seem to end well for me. This time however, things got a bit more interesting than usual.

The previous day…

"Does anyone have any plans for summer break this year?" Haruhi's atypically loud voice rocked the clubroom like a magnitude 7 earthquake.

At that very moment, Koizumi and I were playing Othello, Miss Asashina was wearing her maid costume making more tea, and Nagato was seated in the corner of the room reading a hardcover novel. Haruhi's sudden outburst didn't help with the fact that I was still trying to recover from my receiving my grades today. Haruhi's constant blabbering always managed to prevent me from enjoy Miss Asahina's tea and just forgetting the world.

Haruhi marched over, puffed up her chest, and looked down on me. "Kyon, you can't have any plans in mind, but the others might. So I figured I'd ask everyone."

I take a sip from my teacup before turning to the Queen of the Bridage. "And what if I have plans? What if I was visiting my relatives in the countryside?"

Haruhi's smile widened. "That means you don't have any plans, right? Didn't the same thing happen for our Christmas party?"

Bringing up that Christmas party only serves as a reminder that I nearly got sent to the morgue trying to return the world to the way it was. With that said, it wasn't all too bad of an experience.

Nodding self-indulgingly just like the last time this happened, Haruhi quickly moved onto the next person. Hey, I haven't answered yet, just like last time!

"Mikuru?" Haruhi turned to the SOS Brigade's exclusive maid.

"I don't think so. I haven't had anything planned yet. Would you like some tea, Miss Suzumiya?"

"That herb tea from a while back would be nice. Extra hot, okay?"

"Yes, right away!" Miss Asashina went to go set the kettle on the portable stove with a beaming face. The way she looks so focused when she's making tea is relaxing for me to watch.

"Yuki!" Haruhi smiled down at Nagato, who was still reading her hardcover.

"None." Nagato didn't even look up from her book. That was fast.

"Hey wait." I pointed my finger at the Yes-man of the SOS Brigade sitting across from me. "Why didn't you ask this guy if he had plans?"

"That's because…" Haruhi sat down at her desk, and pulled out a spare armband. "Koizumi here is the one who's got something planned for the SOS Brigade!"

"Yes, that's right." Koizumi's smile reminds me of the Cheshire cat for some reason. "It just so happens that an acquaintance of mine has set up some sort of a video gaming convention aimed at a few high school students from Japan. They're providing free lodging as well as meals for us, so all we have to do is attend. The convention itself will have no more than 50 members, but the exact number of people attending right now is uncertain. The event itself is four days and three nights."

That sounds awfully suspicious Koizumi, especially considering the fact that you introduced that entire remote island vacation idea to us in the exact same manner. The last thing I need is to go through another one of those messed up murder mysteries you and your shady organization brew up for us.

"And, there you have it!" Haruhi didn't mind at all, much to my chagrin. "This video game convention will give us a chance to shine! If we're lucky, we might even be able to convince some of the students there into joining us, and then we can branch off to places all over Japan!"

Now you're making it sound like we're some kind of secret service force trying to plant sleeper agents all over Japan. To make it perfectly clear, I have no intention in backing up an attempt at a revolution.

"So…" I flipped over two of Koizumi's pieces. "When and where is this so called convention happening again?"

"It starts the day after tomorrow, in a city called Yagami." Koizumi quickly flipped over four of my pieces. "I've never heard of it before, so I'm looking forward to visiting."

"The day after tomorrow!" I whipped around to glare at Haruhi. Typical Haruhi behaviour, which I should've expected, but I still can't contain my frustration that I would need to pack my bags on such short notice.

"Yeap!" Haruhi stood up with her hands on her hips, and an armband that read "Commanding Officer". "And if you don't show up, Kyon, heads will roll!"

I sighed in exasperation. I don't want to lose my head. At the same time, packing things up and going out of town again feels like an unnecessary strain on my already battered mental state. Haruhi asking us if we had plans or not would seem like being considerate, but the fact that she just soldiers on ahead and doesn't heed our opinions totally negates that.

"Miss Suzumiya, your tea." Miss Asahina appeared beside Haruhi with her maid-like smile. I feel like I could easily sit here for hours watching her in that outfit. That train of thought is of course derailed as soon as Haruhi overshadowed Miss Asahina.

"Thanks, Mikuru." Haruhi took the cup in her usual high spirits, and stood there gulping down tea.

"Another thing, Koizumi." I shoot Koizumi a very annoyed look. He deserves it. "What sort of games are we playing there anyways?"

"I have no idea." Koizumi shrugged, still maintaining his usual smile. That answer only served to piss me off more.

"So we're just blindingly marching into it and hoping that we win?" I flipped over five of Koizumi's pieces in some sort of retaliation.

"If we do win." Koizumi calmly flipped over seven of my pieces. Damn, I should've seen that coming. "We also win a copy of a very expensive video game creating and animation software. I think its well worth it. It'll also prevent Miss Suzumiya from being bored for a while, so our organization won't have to deal with any closed space."

"Are you and your organization planning something sneaky like last time?" I had no choice but to skip my turn this time. It's only adding to my increasingly intense feeling of annoyance.

Koizumi held up his hands, trying to look innocent. "You have my word that the organization isn't involved at all this time. In fact, I barely even know the person who invited us." He then proceeded to end the game with one crisp movement. Black pieces reigned all across the board. "He also told me that he would be there to greet us personally. I think you'll like it. You are into video games, right?"

Don't 'right' me. Even if I like video games, the fact remains that this will be an SOS Brigade event, all thanks to you. In my books, the SOS Brigades activities have always resulted in hefty clean-up work from both of us. I'd figured that you'd be tired of unnecessary work by this time.

"Alrighty!" Haruhi finished her tea, and systematically scanned us like a security guard. Her smile seemed rather out of place for a security guard though. "That's all for today! I'll be heading back to get my things ready. Be sure to show up at the station! Last person there gets to play a penalty game!" Grabbing her bag, Haruhi left the clubroom as quickly as she came.

Koizumi and I decided to have one more go at Othello. After we were finished the game, Nagato shut her hardcover, which was the signal for us to start leaving. Since Miss Asahina still had to change out of her maid costume, Koizumi and I went on ahead along with Nagato.

"Hey, Nagato."

"What?" She continued walking straight ahead without facing me.

"The day after tomorrow, would it be possible for you remove our means of transportation so we won't be able to go?"

"It can be done." Nagato said in her usual monotone. "But I would strongly advise against it."

"Yea, and why's that?"

"The chances of closed space being created will increase significantly if that happens. As a result, this world would be in danger of being destroyed." Nagato turned to face me. The short haired pseudo-alien's eyes pieced into me like rifle bullets, reinforcing to me that stopping Haruhi was a bad idea.

"I guess we'd better not do anything, then?"

Nagato nodded. "Right." That effectively wrapped up our short chat, and crushed any attempts at me trying to get out of this trip.


So now, here I am, grudgingly packing whatever necessities I needed in preparation for another long and probably exhausting journey with the SOS Brigade. Though the mention of video games does pique my interest, I'm still worried about the fact that Koizumi was the one who set us up for it. If this turns out to be anything like that remote island fiasco, I will strangle Koizumi as soon as we get back.

I sighed, tossing a few clothes together and stuffing them into my bag. There really isn't much I can do about it now except concede and be swept along by the tsunami that is Haruhi Suzumiya. Though I did consciously make the decision to stay with the Haruhi of this world, I still have a right to be annoyed at what she does some times, especially if it's stuff that I can't back out of without letting the world suffer for it. It's like the world depends on me to keep Haruhi in check, since the other three members of the SOS Brigade never deviate from what Haruhi expects of them. It's something I would take pride in, except for the fact that it always ends up draining me of nearly all my hit points by the end of whatever we do. Though today seems to be a nice day to take a walk, Haruhi's abrupt announcement soured my mood enough to make me push aside that thought. I guess I'll just wait till tomorrow, and make sure that I get enough sleep to not show up last. My wallet doesn't have sufficient funds to deal with whatever punishment Haruhi felt like dishing out at me if I did have to play the penalty game.

I'd also have to apologize for ranting on and on and making this a long prologue, but I don't have the energy to make it sound any more formal. To sum it up, the SOS Brigade has found itself drafted into yet another four days and three nights out of town because Haruhi was…well…bored.