Outside Boys Dorm, Block 3 – 2.47 p.m
Weeks had passed, and they had done nothing. Yuri had promised that they were going to fight against Angel, but instead they were just hanging around campus, attending classes without paying too much attention, and not daring to join any clubs as instructed. The three shared a dorm room together, and had bonded slightly over the fact that they were all strangers in this new and strange world. They understood each other well form the beginning, even though they were so different.
Atsushi had been in a university, studying engineering until his untimely death. He had been an extremely successful student, and won most of the major awards that the university had to give. His intelligence was more than apparent, but he never bragged about it.
In contrast to him there was Koharu, somebody who seemed more fixed on his appearance than his intellect. From what he told them, he had been dating three girls at once when he was alive, and had been on his way towards some martial arts national championship. They dismissed these as tall tales though.
And lastly Tadayoshi. He didn't talk much about his past. When he described his life to them it could only be classified as 'average' at best. He didn't go into detail. They didn't question him any further either. Ever since their arrival, he had, by some unspoken agreement, become the leader of their group. Not that there was much to do.
As many a day, they were now simply languishing outside the school after class. Atsushi was reading a textbook. Even in death he seemed serious about studying. Tadayoshi was leaning against a lamppost, looking bored, and Koharu was playing ball with the wall. The perpetual bouncing motion of the tennis ball thumped away as he tossed it again and again as hard as he could, catching it after every time. That is until Atsushi snapped.
"Would you please stop it? I'm trying to read here you know!"
Koharu immediately snapped up the bait for a fight.
"Oh yeah, well sorry to bother you, but this campus is big enough, why don't you go and read inside? Maybe if you do well enough in the tests then you can get obliterated!"
Tadayoshi recognized the danger and immediately stepped in.
"Cut it out you idiots!"
"I know that this has been hard for us. We've been here for weeks and nothing happened whatsoever. I'm just as bored as you are from not getting to combat Angel, but that doesn't mean we need to fight
among ourselves, got it?"
The two growled at each other like a pair of dogs, before resuming their activities. Atsushi resolved to ignore the noise.
"Yuri sure seemed intent on recruiting us, that's for sure. But now it's like she's forgotten about us. What's the point? Why even bother?"
"And her obsession with changing the name of this organization is laughable. What is our name now? Underworld Battlefront? Afterlife Battlefront? Not-yet-dead Battlefront?"
"Last thing I've heard" said Koharu "they decided to call us 'Barnacle Battlefront' now. I think she might have lost it."
"I don't understand this anyway." Tadayoshi shook his head.
Atsushi looked up from his book.
"And what would that be?"
Tadayoshi crossed his arms.
"Well, how many members does the whatever-its-name-is-now Battlefront have?"
Koharu stopped playing with the tennis ball. This was one of the moments were Tadayoshi would present a brilliant idea, it's happened before.
"A few dozen I'd say." He answered.
"I get the same figure, the guild not included. And how many of those get to see any real action?"
"Twelve. And the four from the diversion department."
"And their groupie." Koharu added
"Right, and occasionally some assistance from a few others."
"So there have to be many like us around with nothing to do but wait until they accomplish their goals." Tadayoshi concluded with an air of triumph.
"I guess it's down to luck really. You heard about the new guy Tadayoshi? The one who got himself stabbed in the chest by Angel?"
"I have. He was taken up into the team immediately for some reason, although he has amnesia and no special talents to speak of."
"What did he do to get himself stabbed?"
"He commanded Angel to prove to him that he was dead."
Koharu slapped a hand to his forehead.
"What a moron! Seriously? And they still recruited him into their ranks after that?"
"It seems so."
"Tadayoshi," Atsushi cut in "you were going to say something about all the idle members of class triple-S before you veered off."
"I'm getting there; I'm getting there. So anyway, many of us are just doing nothing, probably more bored than we are at the moment. Yurippe's leadership certainly leaves room for improvement, she obviously cannot control this many people. Her operations may be successful, but all the rest of us ever get to do is watch."
Atsushi looked critically at him.
"What are you suggesting?"
Tadayoshi looked up at the sky.
"I'm not so sure about that yet myself. Give me some time to think and I'll come back to it. By the way, any news?"
Atsushi shook his head.
"None that I heard of."
Koharu was still tossing.
"Well you ought to keep your ears open a bit more my friend."
"And what do you mean by that?" Atsushi asked him irritated.
"Well…" Koharu smirked "There's this girl I had an eye on lately…"
"If we're dead, then what's the point in having a girlfriend?" Atsushi argued.
"You need some way to pass the time. Anyway, her name is Yusa, and she belongs to the inner circle of the Battlefront. Some kind of communications work. Cute and gentle, but very straightforward and sometimes a bit scary. Doesn't seem that much interested in me unfortunately…"
"Koharu!" the other two shouted at him.
"Okay okay, well we were talking and she let slip that something big was going to go down tonight. One of Yurippe's operations."
"Which one?" Tadayoshi asked.
Tadayoshi looked at Atsushi, and he complied.
"Stealing the lunch cards off the NPC's using giant rotor blades to create an upward draft. The band will be holding the distraction while the SSS members buy time by engaging Angel in combat."
"Ah…the meal-ticket heist. So simple-minded. And once again we only can watch?"
"I suppose so."
"Not for much longer I tell you."
Koharu squinted at him, as though he was blinded slightly.
"What do you have in mind?"
"That can wait. For now I need you three to get together as many SSS members as possible. We will use the distraction tonight for our own means. With Yurippe and her team occupying Angel we can do what we want. Gather all the people in the gym. Can you do that?"
Koharu rubbed his hands together
"I'll see who I can round up!"
"It will be done." Said Atsushi.
Tadayoshi nodded satisfied.
"Let's do this."
Gymnasium – 7.56 p.m
Night fell, the campus was deserted. Well, almost. The only ones about were the members if the inner circle of the Battlefront. They had stationed themselves around the area of the cafeteria. Inside however, the distraction unit, the rock band of the afterlife, was letting the speakers go into overdrive.
Tadayoshi observed all of this form higher ground, just outside the gym. They had made no light as to not betray their presence. While operation Tornado was in full swing, they were able to hold their meeting privately, without the fear of Yurippe and her team noticing a single thing. He scanned the grounds with a pair of binoculars. Most of Yuri's special unit were posted in immediate proximity to the building itself. There was one person however, near the bridge. Tadayoshi recognized him as the new recruit. What was his name? Oto- something or other. He was the weak link in their defenses. Yurippe had made a great tactical mistake in leaving him alone. As far as he knew, the rookie had never fired a gun before, and therefore would probably run, rather than fight. It was only logical that Angel was going to approach his way.
He heard steps behind him.
"Tadayoshi?" Atsushi said "We're ready."
Tadayoshi walked past him, handing over the binoculars.
"You keep an eye on things around here. At the first sign of trouble, alert us."
"I will." he promised.
From inside the gym, Tadayoshi could hear the murmur of dozens of people, and Koharu trying desperately to keep them calm. They did not like being kept in the dark, both literally and metaphorically.
"Just wait! He'll be here any second!"
"Who's 'he' anyway?"
Timing was a crucial matter. Tadayoshi threw open the doors and stood still for a moment. There was a small crowd of people gathered there; more than he had hoped would come. He let them look at him for a moment, then walked towards the stage at the front. People made a gap for him where he could pass through. He looked neither left nor right, but ascended the steps to the podium, and turned to face the gathered.
"Good evening, companions in the fight for our lives. My name is Tadayoshi. You must be wondering why I've asked you to come here at this hour."
He spoke calmly, audibly, and in a tone that suggested he had complete control.
"Yes, we've all been dying to hear that!" someone from the crowd commented, which earned that person some collective chuckles.
Tadayoshi continued unabashed.
"Indeed. The reason is simple. You are not needed."
There were murmurs of disbelief.
"What do you mean 'We're not needed'?"
"It isn't that ridiculous when you think about it properly. Have any of you been part in any of Yurippe's operations?"
There was an awkward pause, where people looked everywhere but at him.
"No?" he looked around. "Anyone?"
"That's what I thought. So that begs the question; are you really needed? The answer is no. You are of absolutely no use. Why did you join this battlefront again? Because you wanted to fight Angel so that you won't get obliterated. Yet somehow you are no closer to achieving that goal than you were a month ago. This is by no means your own fault, you're not untalented. It is because of Yurippe. She is not using all the resources available to her, preferring to rely on her special team while neglecting that there are far more people. I am sure that every one of you possesses a firearm of some kind?"
Again there was silence. They obviously didn't.
"I thought as much. Therefore what your participation in this battlefront boils down to is you wearing that uniform, and nothing else. Because I am equally unsatisfied with this situation, I have concluded that we should take matters into our own hands. We should fight Angel ourselves, instead of relying on Yurippe."
"You're suggesting a coup." Said a female voice in the crowd.
Tadayoshi searched for the source of the voice, but in the near darkness it was impossible to tell who it came from.
"Yu-yusa…" Koharu stuttered "What are you doing here?"
Tadayoshi turned his attention to the speaker, and now identified her easily.
"Ah, so this is Yusa, the operator of the Battlefront. I must ask why you are here; I explicitly gave instruction not to invite anyone who was part of the inner circle. Besides, I thought you were supposed to be helping the others with their little scheme down in the main dining hall."
Yusa betrayed no emotion.
"I delegated that task to someone else, and came to see what this was all about. Koharu said that he was going to be the leader of a new battlefront. The idiot was bragging to try and impress me."
"Hey! That's mean!" Koharu complained.
"But I thought that there was a grain of truth in what he said, so I came to see." She finished ignoring Koharu who was still twitching from her insult.
"No, I am not trying to instigate a coup against Yurippe, that would be counterproductive and treasonous. My name is not Tadayoshi for no reason."
"If you're as loyal and righteous as your name suggests, then what IS your plan?"
"I intend to form a subgroup. Still under Yurippe's ultimate authority, still a part of the whatever-it-is-now Battlefront. But we have our own anti-Angel agenda. We follow that same goal as Yurippe does, but we pursue it with our own means. This way we could finally achieve what we want. Immortality. So Yusa, you are Yurippe's eyes and ears on the battlefield. Will you report back to her like an obedient follower, or will you instead choose the new path open to you."
He addressed everyone in the gym.
"That is something I ask from all of you! What do you chose?"
Seconds passed, then a guy stepped forward.
Taking all his courage together he said "I've been waiting to be called on for weeks, and nothing has happened. But no more, this ends tonight! I accept your offer!"
A second voice was heard.
"Same here. I'm not gonna sit back and watch as Yurippe tries to do it on her own. As a battlefront we should be a team! And not just stand around!"
There were shouts of assent.
"So then are you ready to join us in this fight against Angel?"
Tadayoshi smiled and looked as Yusa.
"What about you, operator?"
She took off her headset and twisted it around in her hands.
"Until now I've been doing close to nothing, save for talking to Yurippe as an eye in the field. What you say sounds too good to be true…and you say that we'll still be a part of the battlefront and not actually work against them?"
"We want to fight Angel, not each other."
"In that case, yes, I'll join you."
"A good choice."
"But I think we need a name…"
Her request was echoed by the crowd.
"A name! A name! We want a name!"
"A cool one! One that doesn't change every few hours!"
Tadayoshi looked thoughtful. A name was something he had never considered before this.
"Well then, I have one suggestion." He announced carefully.
There was bated breath.
"We should call ourselves 'The Immortal Legion'"
There was applause all around.
"I didn't expect there to be so much approval…"
"You've got charisma, my friend" Koharu whispered to him "You've got charisma."
Tadayoshi waited until everyone had settled down again, then addressed the crowd anew.
"Then this concludes our first unofficial meeting. There are several things that need to be taken care of now we've founded this organization. Naturally we cannot gather together in here all the time, and we need armament. Until the next time we meet, I will have both of those provided for."
"But how do we know when and where we're supposed to meet next?"
Tadayoshi had not come up with the idea in the spur of the moment. He had been brooding over the concept for a long time, doodling and writing in his notebooks during class. He knew how they were going to contact their members.
"We will put up announcements around the school. They will be advertising for various club activities, but in fact they will be encoded. The time and date of the activity corresponds to the time of our next meeting."
"But won't the NPC's think it's the real deal? And how do we recognize the hijacked posts from the normal ones?"
"The NPC's are programmed to know what concerns them and what not, they will not be a problem. You will learn to differ between the two by looking for the initials of our organization, discreetly hidden among the text. Will that be all?"
There were no further questions.
"In that case, you are all dismissed."
People started to leave. From outside they could still hear the noise form the main dining hall. The distraction was in full flow, and due to reach its climax soon. Tadayoshi and Koharu followed the stream of what were not members of the Legion. Outside they met Atsushi.
"Anything to report?" Tadayoshi asked him?
"Nothing in our direction." He replied.
Just then, Yusa passed them. Tadayoshi stopped her by sticking out his arm and blocking her way.
"One moment if you please."
She turned to look critically at him.
"I already told you that I wasn't going to tell Yurippe about your little meeting. Is my word not enough?"
Koharu intervened hastily.
"I can vouch for her! Yusa is not someone who would lie, I swear Tadayoshi!"
"It's not that." He took a folded piece of paper from a pocket of his uniform.
"I need some things." He handed her the list.
She unfolded the paper and scanned the list.
"That's a lot of equipment, and I'm not sure where you'll find the first on your list. You'll have to go to the Guild to get those things."
"Exactly. I need you to call the Guild and tell them that they need to bring us everything on that list."
Yusa shook her head.
"That's not how it works, the Guild stays underground. You'll have to go yourself. But without a direct order from Yurippe, you're not getting anything. And she won't help you."
"I know that. Well, I guess I'll have to go myself." Tadayoshi concluded, startling his companions.
"Hey! Who gave you permission to go down there all alone?" Koharu protested.
"It would be unwise for you to travel underground unaccompanied." Added Atsushi.
"Fine, you can come along."
Yusa crossed her arms.
"What you're planning to do is 'Operation Parachute' as Yurippe calls it. It's a dangerous journey, with a lot of traps on the way which will be active if Yuri hasn't given the green light. And even if you do manage to get there safely, they won't help you unless Yurippe tells them to."
"They don't need to be told by Yurippe. They only need someone to tell them that they're told by Yurippe."
Principal's Office – 9.17 p.m
Yusa lead the three of them along the hallway that lead to the principal's office. It was the dead of night, the lonely time when there was not any danger that an SSS member would be present in the room.
"The only place you can contact the guild from is headquarters. This is our only chance."
Tadayoshi crept along behind her.
"We're not going to call them up at this time, are we?"
"No, of course not." She answered "most of the weapon orders are not verbal, they are sent down there in written digital form."
"So we basically send them an e-mail."
They reached the door.
Tadayoshi was about to slide open the door.
"Let's go then."
Yusa tackled him and threw him out of the way. A trapdoor opened in the ceiling, and a giant hammer swung down, barely missing Tadayoshi.
"That was close. Too close." Tadayoshi remarked. "Thanks a lot Yu-"
Yusa's move had as a consequence that he was now laying on the floor…with Yusa on top of him
He noticed that he had his hand on her chest.
She noticed as well.
"This…is highly inappropriate."
Tadayoshi retracted his hand.
"Sorry." He apologized
"It was my fault." She said.
She got up and so did Tadayoshi. Koharu almost had tears in his eyes.
"It looked like you were…I can't believe that she would do this to me."
"Snap out of it. If she hadn't thrown me to the ground, I'd be as flat as a pancake right about now, and this place would be swarming with SSS members." Tadayoshi told him.
Yusa straightened her uniform.
"You need to say the password to enter unharmed. It's an anti-angel trap."
"What's the password?" Tadayoshi asked.
In reply, Yusa stepped in front of the door and said clearly
"There is no God, Buddha or Angel."
Then she entered the office. Tadayoshi and the rest followed. Koharu was still in an almost catatonic state. The room was dark when they entered. Yusa walked over to the windows and looked outside.
Tadayoshi nodded to Atsushi, who started u the computer on Yurippe's desk.
"Dammit." He breathed after a while.
"What?" hissed Tadayoshi.
"It's password locked."
"Can't you hack it, wise guy?" Koharu suggested.
"I don't have the equipment."
Yusa was still observing the scene outside. She had taken out her binoculars and was scanning the campus.
"You'll have to try your luck." She said.
"Okay" he typed "'There is no God, Buddha or Angel'…no, not the right one."
"It's too long" Tadayoshi whispered "Try the current name of the SSS."
"'Underworld Battlefront'…not the right one either."
"I've got an idea." Suggested Koharu
They all looked up when he spoke.
"There is a joke going around the Battlefront about something that happened here when the new guy joined the inner circle. Apparently Yurippe was searching for a new name, and one of the suggestions was 'Barnacle Battlefront'. Yurippe kicked the guy who suggested it in the face though."
There was a moment's pause, then Tadayoshi broke the silence.
"We haven't got much time, try it."
Atsushi typed in the password. Everyone held their breath. Atsushi lifted his head and smiled.
"Seriously? 'Barnacle Battlefront'?"
"It's kinda catchy…."
Everyone with the exception of Yusa crowded around the screen.
"What now?" Tadayoshi asked.
Yusa stayed at the window, unmoving.
"There are several files in the drive. Find the one that named 'Transactions'"
Atsushi searched for a moment.
"Okay, got it."
"Open it and click on 'new transaction'. There you can list all you want. The Guild will have it ready for you when you go down there. Be sure to note though that you will not call ahead, but name a time and date when they're supposed to disable the traps."
"Right, on it."
Minutes passed by.
"Why did you have to make such a long list?" Atsushi complained, still typing furiously.
"Because we need everything on that list. It's all essential. Now stop whining and finish up."
"How should I write the message?"
"Put yourself in Yurippe's shoes."
"And how am I supposed to do that?"
"But she's a GIRL!"
"JUST DO IT!"
"Angel is on the prowl." Yusa said from the window.
"Why is she out there during this time of night?" Koharu asked
"To make sure that all of us are in bed. I don't think she'll come anywhere near though. Still, you should hurry up. You're taking too long."
Atsushi was starting to sweat.
"I'm doing it as fast as I can."
"Then do it faster!"
They were all quiet.
"I thought I heard something." Tadayoshi whispered "Atsushi, send that order now."
Atsushi closed the laptop and hid under the desk. Koharu searched frantically for a place to hide, then also ducked behind the desk.
"Ouch! This is my hiding place you moron!"
Tadayoshi hit the lights and stood behind the door.
"Yusa! Hide!" he hissed.
Yusa stayed where she was. Tadayoshi was about to tell her to get out of sight again, but the door opened. He couldn't see who had entered the room.
A male voice, surprised to find someone in the room.
"Yusa…what are you doing here?"
Tadayoshi thanked God that Yusa barely ever showed any emotion, because she didn't betray a hint that four other people were in the room with them.
"Watching. Yuri's orders. You're not supposed to be about at this time Otonashi."
Tadayoshi drew in his breath even further.
It's the newbie!
"Angel is patrolling. You should go to your room. You don't want to get caught in a situation like on your first encounter."
Even though he was behind the door and couldn't see Otonashi's reaction, he knew that he must have shifted his weight awkwardly at this, and maybe gotten some more color in his face too.
"Right" came the response "I'll just go"
Otonashi left, closing the door behind him. Koharu and Atsushi both came out of their hiding place. Tadayoshi breathed out and straightened his uniform.
"Now THAT" he said "was close"
"It's lucky that we won't have to do this again. I could hardly sit still" said Koharu
Atsushi cut across him.
"That's because you hid in the same spot as me, and I was trying desperately not to let any part of my body show. Next time, find your own hiding place!"
Tadayoshi held up a hand, and both of them fell silent.
"It doesn't matter. We gave the order, all we need to do now is wait, then go and pick up the wares." He turned to Yusa "How long will it take them to make what we want?"
Yusa shrugged "Until tomorrow, at most"
Tadayoshi slammed a fist into his palm.
"Then that's when we'll go down to the Guild and get our stuff. I want you all to meet me tomorrow at lunchtime in the gym. It should be deserted then. Yusa, you'll have to come to, you're the authority, and we're just the carriers."
Yusa nodded "Right"
Koharu formed his right hand to a fist and clasped it to his chest.
"For the Legion"
There was silence as the other three stared at him, with raised eyebrows.
"I eh…" he muttered "I thought we could use that as a sort of slogan, you know…a formality to promote morale and cooperation."
He received blank looks.
"It was just an idea." Koharu mumbled
Tadayoshi looked thoughtful.
"Hold on to it" he said "I might bring it up again in future." He smiled and imitated Koharu's gesture
"For the Legion."