Chapter 01 – Shuffle - Welcome to Deck
The warehouse was quiet. Too quiet. The overhanging lights flickered on and off irregularly, each time causing the dark space around to be temporarily visible. At that moment, one could see the tall stacks of crates, probably with nothing in them, and not much else. Even with the lights, one would think that this place was abandoned.
Only it wasn't.
Behind one of the stacks, crouched a young boy, breath kept quiet and senses on high alert. He clenched and then unclenched his fists, hands clammy under his black fingerless gloves. He let out a slow, deep breath as he reached up to tighten the red bandanna under his brown bangs.
There had been no sound for so long, no clue to where his target could be lying in wait –
Feet starting to move in a rush, the boy rounded the corner, and sure enough, his target was there. Its yellow eyes contracted and it pushed off on its blue hind legs, surely to leap onto him.
"Not so fast, bro. Pyrokinesis!"
The boy's arms stretched out in front of him and flames suddenly erupted from the ground, circling the frog. It croaked helplessly as the flames closed in and with a final pathetic sound, it fizzled into static.
"Two down, two to go!"
At the sound of his voice, another green frog-like creature descended on him from above one of the crates. Seeing this attack coming, he spun around, his orange vest swishing as he did. "Gotcha!" The frog let out a loud, furious croak as it headed towards him but it was too late. He jumped back and flames emerged from the spot he had just been standing in – the frog met its end there.
He had been doing well so far; the two frogs he had just beaten were the ones that had escaped after his previous attacks and had hidden to ambush him to gain an upper hand, though they obviously didn't succeed. "Yes! Total ownage!"
The boy only had one more target to deal with and then – "Huh? Bubbles?"
Bubbles had surrounded him and he had not noticed, having been so caught up in his victory. They looked harmless enough.
The bubbles weren't at all harmless once they made contact with the boy, making him cry out in pain. Stunned by the suddenness, the boy was unable to do anything when a group of menacing looking black tadpoles came out of nowhere and latched themselves onto him.
"Agh! Can't move…!"
That was the last thing the boy managed to say before his eyes widened, seeing an ice blue frog jumped onto him, kicking him and sending him crashing into the crates.
Beep! "Simulation Terminated. Solo Simulation – Level 2 – Warehouse."
The image of the warehouse dissolved, including the crates, causing the boy to fall back as the crates, too, disappeared.
"Mission Objective: Eliminate all four targets without any damage. Objective was not met – Simulation failed."
"You're kidding me! That's so unreal!
Yeah, as if I didn't see that coming. Behind a glass viewing screen way above the simulation room, the overseer of the simulation sighed, running his hands through his orange spikes. He had not really expected the middle-schooler to succeed but he would have preferred it if the failure had not been due to such a careless mistake.
He turned to his left, the multiple screens showing the simulation room. While it had been running, the screens showed every angle of the warehouse but as of now, all it showed were the tiled white walls, ceiling and floor, as well as the boy who was just getting to his feet. The boy called for the exit; the door made itself accessible and the boy walked out of the room, staggering slightly.
Opening the door, the observer said, "System off," causing all the screens to shut down as well as the lights in the simulation room to go off. Going down the stairs, he met with the boy, who was tying his shoelaces.
"Shooter," he said looking down, not amused. "Were you paying any attention to what I told you before the simulation started?"
"Uh…yeah! Totally!" Shooter jumped onto his feet, though his shoelace was still untied. "You said…to watch out for the Bigbanfrog!" He seemed pleased to have remembered that part.
"Yeah, but I also said that you needed to keep a look out for its Sprogs. Which you clearly didn't."
"Guess I forgot. No worries, bro. I'll get it next time!"
Ugh… "That's not the point. The point is that even if you managed to take out the Dixiefrogs, you let the strongest one catch you off guard. What would you have done if we had been outside the base?"
"I…would have called…for a team-mate to help me?"
I think I feel a head-ache coming along. "Whatever." He started walking down the corridor, with Shooter hurriedly following his steps. "Just think about what you did wrong. I don't have time to babysit you every time you want to do a simulation. You can ask someone else to oversee your training for you."
They entered the elevator, the doors opening and shutting with a loud clang.
"I'm game for that. After all you must be really busy with other duties, right? With you being part of the Court and all."
"If you know that, don't waste my time."
The door opened up at ground floor and the taller boy stepped out, leaving Shooter in the lift. "Hey? Aren't you going to go up? The other Spades said that they want to have a pizza party. I'm sure everyone would be pumped if we had our King up here!"
"I don't do parties." He didn't do crowds in general.
"Seriously? Man, you got to come next time, okay? You have to –" Shooter was cut off as the elevator door shut on him.
He passed the entrance, stopping just as he exited. Looking at it, the Spades' Base was really hidden well. It looked just like any three story house. Nothing worthy of suspicion or inspection. Although if any outsiders did go into the base, they would be in shock at how mismatched the interior and exterior of the house looked.
Evening had just begun to fall, the sun having disappeared out of sight and the sky turning into a deeper blue by the minute – he would probably reach his house by seven. His house wasn't very far from the base, in fact. Sometimes it disturbed him how similar his house looked to the Spades' base, but he ignored it for the most part.
Arriving in front of said house, he patted his pockets and realised that he had somehow left his keys somewhere. Probably in the simulation room. I don't want to go back now…Oh, Mum's probably home.
Next to a sign that said 'Sakuraba' was the intercom. Just as he had rung the doorbell, he froze.
There was a quickening in his pulse that was now automatic and that he had started to expect. It was a sign that there was something scratching at the surface of this dimension.
He shut his eyes. "Scan." The 'something' had the shape of a frog, much like the ones Shooter had fought in the simulation. It was across the road and it was nearly all the way through.
Blinking back to sight in this dimension, the frog appeared. An Orchefrog – judging by its red legs. It was considerably more powerful than the simulation frogs and it would have been to hard for Shooter to handle.
It noticed him.
That was unlucky.
"Hello? Neku, is that you by the door?" said his mum through the intercom. "Oh, I see you. I'll be downstairs in a minute!"
It was unlucky for the frog because it started attacking Neku – that was a huge mistake.
The creature was eliminated in an instant.
No other ones showed up. If only that were the last of them. Even if it was all quiet now, there were many more where it came from. Its kind were not limited to creatures that looked like frogs. They came in many different forms and they were all hostile. Noise – that's what they were called.
Creeping up from tears in the dimension, they attacked all humans they laid their eyes on. Neku didn't know why, but he knew that they irritated the hell out of him and he wanted to get rid of every single one of them.
That's why he joined Deck – the unofficial organization that hunted the Noise.
The door opened and the face of his smiling mother greeted him. "You're back early from your part-time job. How was it? Anything new happen?" Yeah, she thought he was working at some convenience store in his free time.
"Fine. Nothing much. I had to train a newbie."
"I see…" His mother watched him as he took off his shoes. Before he went up to his room she called out to him again. "If they've got you training new employees, then maybe they'll give you more privileges. I suppose you can't get promoted since it's only part-time."
"Well, it's a weird system," he said, turning his back on her as he climbed upstairs, "but you could say I'm pretty high up already, I guess."
Neku Sakuraba – King of Spades
With her circular glasses and her short brown hair, Shiki would say that her appearances were nothing compared to Eri's, what with her hair being a unique bubbly shade of pink that was always accompanied with a personality that was just as appealing.
That was only if anyone asked for her opinion; Shiki knew she was plain and really, she had gotten over it a long time ago. She remembered that Eri had once said that a person's value had to do with skills, rather than appearances.
Shiki had almost laughed, because Eri was all about appearances.
She didn't though, because Eri had looked dead serious at the time. According to her, appearances made up for half of the battle, but if you had no skill to match up with that, what good were you?
Inspirational; those words had been inspirational.
That was why she had worked harder than anyone when it came to Deck.
In her opinion, the Clubs of Deck had the trickiest abilities to command.
The Diamonds must have the easiest control…their abilities mostly involved enhancements of their physical assets. Strength, speed, flexibility and so on. These were things people already had – it couldn't be that much of a challenge.
One would think that the Spades would have it hard, seeing as they drew power from the elements around them. Shiki didn't quite get how that really worked, but according to the Spades that she had talked to, they didn't really have to think much about it. If someone wanted fire to surround the Noise, poof it was there. Granted, the intensity and power of their abilities depended on the talent of the Spade. For example, defeating any type of Noise in one attack would be nearly impossible, normally. The Spade that did that would have to be crazily strong.
The Hearts…alright, perhaps the Hearts had it just as hard as the Clubs. Shiki didn't understand their powers much either. They seemed to have abilities that had an effect on the Noise's minds, even though Shiki always thought of the Noise as being mindless beings. She would be creeped out if she had to try and go into the minds of one of those things…On the plus side, the Hearts had loads of cool weapons that weren't too difficult to control.
The Clubs? Their power was very limited. They had the ability to 'possess' certain objects with their aura. They had to have a compatibility or affinity with the objects, though, or it wouldn't work. The objects could range from anything – from cars to books, from discs to dolls. These everyday objects could hurt the Noise if a Club had their aura cast on it.
As for herself? She was only able to use one and that was her stuffed cat, Mr. Mew. She had been using it for as long as she had been in Deck – which was a very long time.
"Hey, Eri. I'm here to apologise again. You must be mad that Mr. Mew's arm almost got torn off."
Yes, she must be really mad.
"I…I know you probably don't want to hear my excuses. Still, it was because that Garage Wolf somehow managed to get a hit on Mr. Mew. My control over him is kinda off nowadays."
Eri did not show any change of expression.
"But I'll be working hard as always. Nothing will improve if I don't try."
There was no reply.
"Well…I guess I'll be going now."
There was never going to be a reply.
Shiki bowed her head at Eri, her smile forever captured in a picture, a smile that would never again grace the world of the living.
She headed out of her living quarters and walked around, feeling the need to stretch her legs. That's when she heard shouting from within one of the living rooms. She hurriedly opened the door and found two of the Clubs in a full blown argument.
"Tsubasa! For the last time, where are my sunglasses?" Ayu demanded.
"Chill, girl! I really have no clue where they freakin' are," he said, glaring at the girl.
"Guys! Break it up! You don't need to fight over this," said Shiki, intervening. It was never good when there was an argument in Clubs. "Ayu, how about we look for your sunglasses together?"
It always served as a reminder that tensions had been running high.
"Fine, but I'm still mad at Tsubasa. He almost ran me over with a motorbike while we were out on Noise patrol. I nearly had that stupid jellyfish but I had to dive out of the way."
"We got rid of the Noise just fine, I don't see what the problem is." He started playing with the pendant around his neck, as if to say he was done with this subject.
Shiki walked over and put a hand on the blond before she could speak again. "I'll talk to Tsubasa myself later, okay? You've just came back from patrol so you must be tired. Go get some sleep."
"You say you'll 'talk' to him but in the end he's just going to get away with this, isn't he?" Ayu accused, crossing her arms.
"He…" It was true that Shiki would have a hard time dealing with Tsubasa. "I'll try my best so that this whole thing is resolved."
"If Eri was still here this whole thing would already be resolved."
That felt like a slap to the face. One that left her trembling.
"Ayu," said Tsubasa, usually quiet. "I'll say sorry for today. We're cool right?"
The other girl seemed to realise her mistake, covering her mouth. "Yes," she said hastily. "We're cool. See Shiki?"
"Shiki, I'm sorry…I didn't mean…when I said…"
Smile, Shiki. Eri would.
"It's fine, don't worry about it!" she said, waving it off. "What you said is true. I'm still getting used to the leader thing and all. I still have to work harder!"
Without another word, she left the room, the smile still stuck on her face even with no one there to see it.
Shiki – Queen of Clubs
The Mosh Grizzly roared as Beat landed a powerful upper-cut right at its jaw. Though it was pushed backwards, it raised a razor sharp claw in order to attack him. Beat put pressure on his back foot, causing the hoverboard he was riding to move backwards, taking him far away from the Grizzly's reach.
His team-mate Miki, put a hand on her hip, looking at the Noise with distaste. "If I knew we were going to fight one I would have left my jacket back at home."
Kyo, pulled nervously at the chain around his neck. "I knew we were going to run into one. Out of all the patrols it had to be this one where a Noise showed up."
"Yo, don't sound down, man," said Beat, not understanding the others' attitudes. "We finally get to bust some moves on the Noise. They don't show up every day, you know."
Miki adjusted the fur collar on her jacket. "I'm pretty sure we don't want Noise to show up every day. It would cause an uproar, since the civilians are bound to panic if they find out about Noise."
"Nah, that wouldn't happen. The losers at Hearts can do their memory erasing thing," he said, keeping his eyes on the Noise. Damn was it slow. The three of them were able to casually talk while it was approaching them.
"Yeah, but I can't stand the thought of walking around with a piece of my memory locked up somewhere deep and dark," said Miki pursing her lips.
Kyo shivered. "Man, I'd hate that."
Beat thought about it for a moment. "Guess I wouldn't like that either."
The Noise let out another cry, its eyes trained on all three of them.
"It's making a racket but it's not like it can get to us any faster," said Miki, "but look at those freakin' claws. This Noise came to the wrong sector, long range isn't our style."
"The hell are you talking about!? It came to the wrong sector 'cause it's going to get its ass kicked! C'mon! Let's deal with this chump!"
He launched forward, raising his hoverboard so that it slammed against the Grizzly's body. Again, it tried to slash at Beat, but this time Kyo and Miki were at his backs, grabbing hold of the Grizzly. With the combination of all their enhanced strength, the Grizzly had nowhere to go.
Beat grinned, getting ready for the finisher. "Shockwave!" With that last horizontal blow, the Noise was destroyed.
He let his hoverboard lower him to the ground before stepping off and picking it up. "Hell yeah! Gimme five!"
Miki and Kyo exchanged a look.
"Guys?" He waved his free hand above his head. "Don't leave me hanging."
"That's more like it!"
"Only with Beat…" said Miki, giving Beat a tired smile.
"Yeah," Kyo agreed, putting his cap more firmly on his head. "Our Suit wouldn't be the same without him."
"Heh guys, you don't have to flutter me so much," said Beat sheepishly, pulling at his skull beanie.
"You mean flatter." Miki stretched out her arms. "Well, that's it for today, right? I'll be heading home now." She gave Beat and Kyo a quick wave. "See you tomorrow!"
She walked away from them hurriedly, as if there was something important she had to do.
"Wonder what it's like living outside the base," said Kyo wistfully.
"Must be pretty different, yo," said Beat as the two started walking back to said base. "But ain't ya old enough to move out?"
"True that," agreed Kyo, "but I think it'd feel weird to live away from some the others. We've been together for so long, you know?"
"Yeah, you're right." Beat thought back to his childhood. There were always a lot of other children around him, including kids older than him, like Kyo. While Kyo had stayed at the orphanage the whole time before being allowed into Deck, Beat had stayed outside with a guardian for at least a year. He had really loved his days in the orphanage, though. "It's more fun when ya have everyone around."
"We're practically family now," Kyo said with a nod. "Even if we're not tied by blood or by names, we're family."
"Heh," Beat elbowed Kyo good-naturedly. "Deep man, deep."
"Don't I know it!" said Kyo with a laugh. "Although… dontcha ever get kinda jealous of the Iwata brothers? It's like being blood brothers gives them a connection."
"What, 'cause they're all four-eyes?"
Kyo elbowed Beat back. "No! I mean, there's that too, but c'mon man."
"Yo, I don't really think about those things much," said Beat, looking up and putting his two hands behind his head. "I dunno. I never had any siblings."
"Okay, okay, but if you wanted a sibling, would you want a brother or a sister?"
He thought about it for a moment. "A little sister would be cool."
Beat – Jack of Diamonds
The Ace of Hearts.
He was blond, with a distinct way with words. He was an irritation to some and yet he was loved by many, too.
Striding through the base, his head was held high, like it always was. There was something different about him at that moment, though.
"He doesn't look very happy," whispered a member to another as he passed by them.
Hmm, really? Well, they were certainly right about that. As if his stiff expression wasn't a plain giveaway.
The reason for his discomfort was the younger boy that he had forced to go along with him.
"Wonder what he did this time."
Opening the door, the Ace sat down, gesturing for his junior to do the same.
Violet eyes stared up to meet blue ones.
"Joshua. Do you understand why you're here?" said Eiji Oji, the beloved leader of the Hearts.
"My guess is that you're bored and don't have anything better to do, so you decided to give me a lecture," Joshua replied with a smirk. He certainly had better things he could do. Such as resuming the activity that Eiji had interrupted in.
"I'm being serious here," he said in a harsh whisper.
"My, that glare doesn't suit you very well," said Joshua, feigning a gasp. "I think that your fans would be scandalised to see an Ace that isn't glittering."
Eiji's glare held but Joshua remained unfazed. The Ace may be able to push others around, but not him – Joshua was above all that.
"Did you enjoy yourself?"
"Which part? The part where I made Princess K think that there was a Corehog in her room or when she went berserk and nearly destroyed her room while trying to get rid of it?" The smirk grew wider. "The answer to both would be 'yes', for your information."
Letting a sigh out, Eiji sank back into his leather chair, closing his eyes. Hmph, maybe I should sneak out while he's busy doing that. Not long after, he opened them again, making direct eye contact with Joshua again. "You're acting like a child, Joshua. This isn't like you. In fact, you haven't been yourself for a while now. What's this all about?"
Joshua laughed. "Unlike myself? Really? I didn't notice at all."
"You're bitter about something. Am I right?"
"Oooh, caught me red-handed. How do you do it?" Joshua said. "Yes, very bitter. As bitter as vinegar, you could say."
"…Joshua, your position will remain unchanged." Eiji said louder, now, "and as long as I am around – it always will."
"Why!?" He snapped, standing up and slamming his hands on the table. "I am in no way the weakest member of Hearts. I'm way more talented than a lot of the members with higher numbers than my own, even more than some Court members of other Suits. So why!?"
"…When I discovered your foolish game and Princess K realised it had been an illusion, she could have returned the favour to you. Easily. But she didn't. She instantly forgave you."
"What does that have to do with anyth–"
"If you don't learn to forgive like she did, you won't be able to move forward." Eiji's eyes burned into his own – as a reminder to Joshua that he was the Ace. "Everyone in our Suit is a master of manipulation because of our powers. It doesn't mean that we can use them to hurt each other. That isn't what Deck is about. You're dismissed."
Joshua trudged out the room and closed the door with a bang. He walked all the way to his room before stopping just before turning his doorknob.
He did something. Eiji had done something to him, because Joshua never, never lost his temper in front of anyone. Although he didn't like it, he knew that Eiji was Ace for a reason. Still, he could not remember a time where he had been the one under Eiji's spell.
That hypocrite. The Ace warned him not to use his abilities on his team-mates yet he had done so himself.
But Eiji never uses it on us. He cares too much.
So. Joshua had driven Eiji to finally use his abilities on a junior. He wondered how Eiji felt about that.
He'll most likely think of something to do to redeem himself.
Eiji wasn't adored by his members for nothing.
Heehee. Just like expected. Eiji had appeared at the end of the corridor, drawing nearer to Joshua.
"You still need to reflect about what you did. However, I get that you might want a bit of a change of scene for that," said Eiji.
"I've got an urgent call from CAT. At least one Court member from each Suit is wanted at the department. Perhaps you would like to accompany me? You haven't been to Shibuya for a while now – you might run into one of your friends."
Eiji really was something. Starting off by making it seem that he is angry when in actual fact he wanted to make it up to Joshua, since he knew that Joshua was right about a lot of things. Even that was a potential ruse because Joshua had got the feeling that Eiji had seen completely through him from that last sentence.
"Why not?" he said, smoothly. He would not give Eiji the reaction he wanted. He refused to. "I have missed the sight of the 104 building."
"Good. We leave at eight in the morning tomorrow."
The Ace left right away. Good, because Joshua was not about to thank him.
"Secrets upon secrets – and I thought justice didn't tell lies."
Joshua did not know what secret he was referring to, but there were bound to be many in this place. Perhaps, if had been someone different, he would have quit Deck long ago.
As if I could do that now – he giggled to himself. That's just how it is.
He entered his room, still laughing, before he ('bitterly' as Eiji called it) whispered to himself:
"Welcome to Deck."
Joshua – Deuce of Hearts
A/N: Tadaa! Here's a new TWEWY AU for everyone to (hopefully) enjoy. If you've read my other TWEWY works – welcome back, friends! – and if this is the first fic you've read coming from me – glad to have you onboard!
As you all can probably tell, the protagonists are Neku and his Partners. I plan to share out the spotlight between the four as much as I can. The mostly neglected shopkeepers and other smaller characters will also have their roles in this, as you could see from the ones that appeared here. Ahem - if you thought that they were OCs, you are excused but you should take this chance to look up their sprites. The character designs for the shopkeepers are all super cool and it would be such a waste not to use them in a fic.
I have wonderful things planned for this fic…wonderful things indeed.
(Please read the extra bits after the A/Ns! They'll be fun for you and will be important for extra detail of Deck and its workings).
You would think I couldn't have a 'thank you corner' in the first chapter – but I can! Watch me do it!
Thank you to –drumrolls- cutekitty5595 for the most amazing fanfic cover that you have ever seen for a fanfiction. I encourage you all the enlarge it and stare at it for a good few minutes. No, seriously guys. Go. Now.
We'll be seeing more of her works in the future of Deck 104, so cheers!
Thanks for reading!
Dina (1/04/2014) [Yes, I did post this today for a reason. Yes, I will use the other way of writing dates just for this reason.]
- Thread 104 –
***Welcome to Thread 104! Yes, the brand new, official thread for Deck is up and running. As the Suits' bases and CAT's department are at different locations, we would like to keep the Deck community close together, so please feel free to share all your thoughts and ideas relevant to Deck here! (Tatsuya-Omura)
- Eh? What happened to the old thread? (Mina-is-Happy)
- It got taken down. (Ai-Love)
- Huh? Why's that? :O (Mina-is-Happy)
- Someone [I'm suspecting Masuoka] had been posting 'inappropriate' pictures. (Ai-Love)
- Honey! I'm shocked you think of me that way. I'm completely innocent. Please believe me! (Masuo-ka)
- Sure! (Mina-is-Happy)
- Sure. (Ai-Love)
\\Hey, everyone! I'll be releasing my new single online today. Hope you all can listen to it! ;D (The-Prince)
- OMG! I can't waiiiittt! ^-^ (Mina-is-Happy)
- Oji can sing? (xxAyu)
- No~ But he's hot when he tries. (Masuo-ka)
- Masuoka -.- (Ai-Love)
- I did my best! Everyone will give it an 'F' – for fabulous! (The-Prince)
- Fabulous! (Mina-is-Happy)
- Or 'F' for failure. (Ai-Love)
\\Urgent notice! A cat from the Club's base seems to have gone missing. He's a very important part of our family, so if you seem him anywhere please bring him back to us! He is black with yellow eyes and has a green collar around his neck. Please help us find Nimew! (MickyMouse)
- Please! We really miss him. Come back Nimew! (xxAyu)
***Please be reminded that the meeting at the headquarters will begin promptly at 10:30. We require at least one Court member from each Suit to attend. Thank you. (Tatsuya-Omura)
- I wonder what the meeting is about. (MickyMouse)
- Me too. Tell us all the details when you come back from it, Makoto! ;) (Ai-Love)
- I'm not going! I can't deal with meetings! (MickyMouse)
- You're letting Shiki go by herself?! O.O (Mina-is-Happy)
- What's wrong with that? (MickyMouse)
- Are you at the base? Stay where you are. We need to have a talk. (xxAyu)