Continues on from Last Chapter 1 – Dark.
Continues on to Last Chapter 1 – raincoat.
Chapter 1 – Innovate
Kanzaki Mitsuya attends a high school in the city somewhere, and is an ordinary third year high school student like those who can be found everywhere. He has a medium build, and hair not too long, yet also not too short. His grades at school are ordinary. His ability in sports is also ordinary. After graduation, he plans to attend a university that’s close to home, and one that he can attend with his current grades. His hobbies include watching movies, listening to music, and playing games. His favourite food is curry. The food that he dislikes is pickles. He always takes them out of his hamburgers. When he was in his second year of high school, his girlfriend dumped him after saying that he was a ‘boring person’. If you think about it, you start to wonder about how he was even able to get a girlfriend. He doesn’t have any particular aspirations. Well, he seems to think that he’ll be something like a salary man. In other words, Kanzaki Mitsuya lives an ordinary life, and is currently a student who is satisfied with his ordinary life. He also thinks that he’ll lead an ordinary life. If there’s a change—.
He thinks that it’s a bad habit of the Japanese who continue to bury themselves in their everyday lives that they choose their jobs as hobbies. He thinks so because he doesn’t try to change his current self into a different self.
On that day, Mitsuya came home from school and began to play video games on the television after getting changed. He always killed his time with games like this until it was time for dinner. Surely, that won’t change tomorrow either. He had just levelled-up in the RPG game that he recently bought. But no matter what he tried, he was unable to defeat the last boss. So he levelled-up. It was a boring grind, but he had to do this in order to reach the next stage. Suddenly, he sighed as he stopped using the controller.
All of this effort — and I don’t even know if I’ll be able to summon the White Thing — I can do it….
If he did his best to study, he would be able to attend a better university, and if he struggled with his goals, he could become the creator of something. However, if he didn’t do that, then he could focus on levelling-up in the game. If he used the time that he had spent levelling-up until now on something else and worked hard at it, then…. After sighing once more, he resumed the game. The time that he lost wasn’t going to come back anyway, so there was no point in worrying over it. No, it probably wasn’t wasteful to think about it, but it was all in vain since he was completely immersed in the virtual world of the game. He decided to enjoy the present. …But then, he suddenly thought
(I…am I having fun?)
Suddenly, the new mail alert tone played on his mobile phone. His ringtone was a newly released song from a popular artist.
Who is it? Is it from Tetsu-chan?
As he thought that, he remembered that he had forgotten to return the music CD that he had borrowed. The message surely said something like ‘Bring it tomorrow!’. He picked up his mobile phone that he had tossed onto the bed and checked the message. The title of the email simply read [Innovate], and the body of the message had the URL of some mobile website pasted in. The sender’s address wasn’t displayed. It seemed a bit creepy. Was it a new type of scam? He had recently heard about how viruses for mobile phones were being circulated. He thought it best to erase the message immediately. Mitsuya deleted the email and returned to his game. After a few minutes, his alert tone went off again and another email arrived. The title was [Innovate]—. The sender’s address was still not visible. All that was there was an URL that pointed somewhere. It was creepy. Did something happen when he visited a site somewhere? Recently, it had become almost impossible to know where one’s personal information had been leaked. His friend had also mentioned that they were having trouble with spam. Mitsuya deleted the email again. However, his alert tone rang again a few minutes later. It was the same email.
What’s with this…?
Although Mitsuya was puzzled, he also began to take an interest in the email.
What was the meaning of [Innovate] again?
He became slightly curious about the English word [Innovate], and he looked up its meaning with the electronic dictionary that he kept on his desk. The Japanese translations of [To renew] and [To incorporate new things] were displayed on the screen of the electronic dictionary, but his eyes were drawn to the words that came after it.
For some reason, he gazed at the meaning of that word for a while. Although he knew that it was best not to get involved, Mitsuya had already clicked on the URL in the email before he even realised. He decided to close it if it felt dangerous. If that didn’t work, there were other ways. In today’s world, it wasn’t really possible for something on a mobile phone to not have a solution. After a while, a website with the title [Innovate] was displayed. It had a simple design, and the only item which he could select was [Register].
As expected, is it a new type of scam?
That was what he thought, but his finger still chose to [Register] for some reason. If there’s a change—. He was aware that it was a bad habit of his, but there were times when humanity simply couldn’t suppress their curiosity. He snorted slightly at the fact that he had such courage. A note appeared. It was written like so
[Welcome! To the world of [Innovate]! This is a game in which players actually fight against each other. There is no particular personal information required. Please carefully check the details provided and then proceed to the next page. Finally, if you register and clear the game, or—]
Mitsuya began to skip through the sentences. He skipped through the details on the next page, the one after it, and each subsequent page as he progressed forward.
Huh, so it’s a game that you can play on your mobile phone after all? It looks like it’s free. Is it a beta test version?
Mitsuya was the type who thought it best not to read the game manual too much. He found it much easier to remember things by actually doing them. In any case, if he played the game for two hours, its contents would become clear to see. He continued to skip over the sentences. However, the very last one completely caught his attention.
[There is a chance that you will lose your life in this game. If you cannot accept this, please refrain from participating.]
He was thrilled, but he thought calmly. There were cases where the contrast of the monitor couldn’t be adjusted. It was just a while ago when he had heard that players exposed to lighting phenomena experienced epileptic seizures. It was an old-fashioned production.
Maybe it’s an indie production, or a doujin  game?
The name of the creator wasn’t written anywhere.
[Are you sure?]
After Mitsuya thought about it for a while…
He chose [Yes] and proceeded to the next page.
[Please enter the player’s name. Even a handle name is fine.]
Mitsuya entered [Dark]. It was a player name that he often used in video games. The opposite of the ‘light’ in Mitsuya  was ‘darkness’. That was why he chose [Dark]. Although it wasn’t a particularly fancy name, he didn’t think that he needed something that elaborate for a simple game. After all, the main point was to play. He typed it in and continued.
[Please choose your player’s occupation]
Occupation? I see, did the long messages from before have descriptions about each of the roles in the game?
There were four occupations to choose from.
Mitsuya thought about what the most common occupation was. It was basically the same as most online RPG games. Players would form parties with other unknown players in order to clear the game. It seemed like that kind of typical game. Although Mitsuya felt somewhat disappointed that the game was somewhat shallower than he had first envisioned, he ended up choosing the knight in consideration that the purpose was really just to kill some time after school. It has a habit of his to choose a safe profession whenever he played a game for the first time. Once he got used to it and cleared the game once, he would enjoy it with a different occupation. Though, he was still uncertain about whether he would play it a second time or not. Since it was probably possible to form parties in the game with players of other occupations, he wasn’t particularly worried.
[Finally, once you choose to start the game, the game will not end until you clear it. Please select the cancel option if you are not yet prepared. After confirming everything, please select the game start option if you agree.]
That was the final message. He decided that if it became boring, then he would quit. As such thoughts ruminated in his mind, Mitsuya chose to start. After his mobile phone connected to the server, a message containing a single sentence which read [Innovation to you!] was displayed.
Eh? Is there something wrong with the graphics for character selection?
He had thought that at the very end, there would have been a system for him to choose the appearance and characteristics of his character. It wasn’t there. What was the meaning of that? Once more, he tried to access the site. However, there was only a message which said [Please do your best to clear the game.], and the [Register] item was nowhere to be seen.
“What the hell!”
Mitsuya expressed his anger out loud.
Where’s the gameplay screen? Where do I even go to play the game!?
The site gave no response to Mitsuya’s annoyance. After a while, his mother’s voice called out “It’s dinner time” from the bottom of the stairs.
The next day, Mitsuya was slightly late in leaving the house as he made his way to school. Yesterday, he had been engrossed in researching the game called [Innovate] on the Internet until late at night. Thus, he was considerably drowsy today. He had looked hard for it, but nothing came up in his searches. Not even a single valid result. Even though he checked local and overseas websites, he couldn’t find anything out about the game. He also tried checking for resemblance in known scams and viruses, but nothing of the kind had come up.
What was going on? Was it perhaps a friend who knew what his mobile’s email address was and decided to play a prank on him? He tried asking his friends, but just as he was about to put it into words, he couldn’t bring himself to ask them. He hesitated, and couldn’t bring himself to do such a thing. Finding it creepy, he even changed his mobile’s email address into something more complex.
The early summer sunshine poured into his sleep-deprived eyes. He proceeded to walk to school as he narrowed his eyes to avert the brightness. He had about ten minutes to go until he reached the station. Although it would’ve been easier if he took his bicycle, the bicycle parking lot at the station was always packed full with bicycles and motorcycles. Even if he took his bicycle into one of the back streets, it was a struggle to find a place to secure it. It was often time-consuming as well. The old bicycle parking officers always found ways to slap out fines. They always seemed to have a sullen look on their faces whenever they saw students ride bicycles past. And that in turn put him in an unpleasant mood. Mitsuya thought to himself that going to the station on foot by himself every morning was far more efficient than riding a bicycle, and decided to continue doing so. He walked on the road which went under an overpass, it was his usual route. There weren’t many pedestrians during the daytime here, and it was somewhat dim. It was when he had roughly walked halfway. His mobile phone vibrated unexpectedly. He had set it to vibrate only twice.
That’s strange. Is it a phone call? An email?
In any case, he didn’t normally switch his phone into silent mode unless he was in class or on the train. A ringtone should have gone off.
No, did I switch it into silent mode accidentally?
Due to his lack of sleep and drowsiness, he couldn’t clearly remember. Perhaps it had happened when he was fiddling with it yesterday. After that, an email arrived. Drawing those conclusions in his mind, Mitsuya took his mobile phone out from the pocket of his trousers. As Mitsuya looked down at the screen, his eyes widened. There was absolutely nothing displayed on the screen of his mobile phone, and yet it continued to vibrate in the palm of his hand. The blank LCD screen was dyed the colour of white. However, his phone continued to vibrate.
“…What is this, now…”
In the dimly lit underpass, Mitsuya felt an eerily cold sensation. He gulped, and then pushed the button to pick up. He placed the phone against his ear.
Immediately afterwards, a train zipped past across the overpass above. He also heard the sound of the passing train from the speaker of his phone. After the train passed by, he noticed the sound of footsteps as they made their way down the road within the underpass. He heard the same, sharp, distinctive sound of those steady footsteps echo through the speaker of his phone. He also heard the sound of metal. As he turned backwards, he noticed a cool-looking teamer  kind of dude approaching him. He had a bandana wrapped around his head, and the slovenly trousers that he wore were a shade of blue. The metallic sounds that he heard had come from the accessories that he openly wore. As he continued to listen to the sound transmitted over his phone and also to the sound of the man who approached him, the resulting audio was like a stereo formed by the transposition of the two sources.
He heard the voice of the man who stood right before his eyes, and a voice from his mobile phone as well. The two voices were a perfect match.
This guy is the one on the phone….
“Hey you, what level are you right now? Hey, you scared or something?”
It was as though he was prey. As that thought flashed through Mitsuya’s mind, he quickly glanced back and thought of escaping. There were two men who seemed like his acquaintances there, and they blocked the path off like guards. Their appearances seemed to resemble that other guy. Although there were some differences, they still wore the colour blue. Teamers had recently started unifying the colours of what they wore to show off their camaraderie, or so Mitsuya had seen on the television. Young people whose faces were obscured by a mosaic pattern had thrown out all manner of insults and abusive phrases menacingly to the camera. Those guys surrounded him. What did they want? Moreover, how did they know what his mobile phone number was? In the midst of his confusion, the guy on the other side of the phone opened his mouth.
“Yes. You have two choices. That’s it. Listen up, the first one is to shut up and follow us. And the other one is to get dragged away from here after you get knocked out. Now, which one is it?”
Mitsuya held both of his fists in front of his body just as he had somehow heard from a cooking program on television somewhere. He could hear the guy’s comrades laughing at him from behind. Mitsuya didn’t seem to understand the meaning of it, and he looked back and forth between those in front and behind him somewhat confused. As expected, the underpass was devoid of people at a time like this. Overwhelming fear enveloped him. Even though he had been given a choice, both of them seemed hopeless to Mitsuya.
What should I do—.
“Argh, what a drag…. What a shame.”
The man in front of him shook his head as he said so.
“Yousuke, ya stay there. It’ll be quicker to surround him and knock him out in one shot if he does anything strange.”
One of his comrades who was behind Mitsuya called out.
“Aye. Well, sorry. You wanna do this?”
The man pulled out a metal pipe from his back. At the same time, he did something on his mobile phone.
“…Swinging a pipe around. Seriously, it’s so bothersome.”
After looking at his phone and grumbling, the man started running towards him while brandishing the metal pipe.
Mitsuya screamed as he jumped to the site. He absolutely had to avoid that. Immediately afterwards, he heard the sound of something violently being crushed. With his knees on the ground as he tried to shrink his body away, Mitsuya noticed something strange. The loud sound of something being crushed? That was impossible. Since he dodged, the metal pipe passed through the air and slammed into the ground to produce a metallic echo. Where did that sound he heard come from? As Mitsuya looked at the place where the metal pipe had been swung down, a large section of the ground had been gouged out. The ground beneath had turned into something like a crater, and fragments of asphalt were scattered around it. It was impossible. No matter how strong he was, it was just an ordinary metal pipe wasn’t it? Was it even remotely possible that the teamer with a slender arm could somehow destroy a portion of the asphalt pathway with such a ferocious sound using a metal pipe? Let alone becoming deformed, the man’s metal pipe didn’t even seem to have a single scratch on it.
“Yousuke, is that guy still not dead yet?”
It was the voice of the man’s comrade.
“Probably not. Should’ve done it earlier.”
The man turned to his comrade and laughed as he said so.
Method? What kind? A fight? I’ve never done anything like that.
No, he had gotten into a fight in the sandbox with his neighbours child once, but that was nothing more than a children’s fight. Moreover, it was no good to fight. After that fight, he was defeated and the sandbox got taken away, and even now he found it difficult to approach that classmate who seemed strong. He had never gotten involved in anything like a street fight. That’s how much of an ordinary human being he was.
Mitsuya miserably and pathetically began to beg for his life. Upon hearing that, all of the men simply looked at each other and laughed.
I don’t want to get hurt. I’m obviously not going to follow them either. Please leave me alone. I haven’t done anything wrong. Did I somehow bother you guys? This is unreasonable! Someone, please help me! Please spare me!
The desire to escape from this place filled Mitsuya’s heart. If he had to settle things with money, he would. It would be a cheap price to pay. Was this how those victims felt when teenagers went old man hunting ? Although he had thought about how it was a tragic incident every time he saw the news reports, when he personally felt that sensation of desperation and fear….
I don’t want to get hurt! I don’t want to die!
“P-Please stop it…”
“Haha. That’s a funny face you’ve got there isn’t it? This is hilarious, show us more of your despair.”
Laughing at Mitsuya’s pitiful face as he pleaded, the man raised the metal pipe up again.
Mitsuya buried his head into his arms and shrunk himself into a ball. He let out a weak cry like ‘hii’. Just before the man could swing the metal pipe down, his mobile phone rang. The man stopped the movement of his arm and pushed a button as he checked the message on his phone.
“Seriously, who the hell is it?”
As he placed the speaker against his ear, a woman’s voice suddenly rang out.
After the voice of that mysterious woman was heard through the phone’s speaker, the man’s entire body flared up. It all happened in an instant.
The man screamed in agony as his entire body was set ablaze and he ran in panic around the street. While crouched down, Mitsuya noticed the presence of a person and when he turned towards it, he saw a schoolgirl in uniform holding a mobile phone in her hand while her other hand was directed at the man. The schoolgirl pushed the buttons on her phone a few times without looking at the screen, and the flames which once covered the man suddenly disappeared. The man gasped heavily as he lay on the street.
The man’s clothing had been severely burned, and he also suffered minor burns to his face and his hands. The man tried to call out to the high school girl but his voice didn’t quite make it out. The man’s two comrades seemed incredibly surprised by the schoolgirl’s arrival.
“Are you guys targeting those who aren’t even at the level of beginners?”
The high school girl approached them with an intimidating air about her. The men backed away. The man who had been lying on the ground also tried to get away from the schoolgirl by crawling across the ground.
“Besides, I don’t really feel like fighting against low-level people like you guys. Hurry up and leave this person alone.”
As the schoolgirl said that, the comrades of the man who had collapsed from the burns lent him a shoulder and all three of them fled the place. Once the men disappeared from sight, the schoolgirl sighed as she pushed a single button on her phone before putting it away into her bag. The schoolgirl then turned to Mitsuya. Mitsuya thought that she had a rather attractive face. She didn’t appear to have any particularly unique features, but she had a slim physique and flowing, long black hair. The brown blazer that she wore as part of her uniform most certainly belonged to that of a famous girls’ school. There was an intricate emblem that was sewn onto the breast of her blazer. At first glance, she gave off the impression and appearance of an ojou-sama , but the strong expression in her eyes contradicted that. Her strong pupils burned with determination. She had a sharp atmosphere that other school girls didn’t have. If a weaker person stared into her eyes, they would probably shrink back. In fact, even though she had just saved Mitsuya, he felt somewhat frightened by the schoolgirl who stood in front of him.
“Can you stand?”
In response to the schoolgirl’s question, Mitsuya nodded. He slowly stood up on the spot. Only when he stood up did he realise how tall she actually was. Mitsuya was around a hundred and seventy-two or seventy-three centimetres tall. The schoolgirl was the same height as Mitsuya, or perhaps a bit taller. Seeing her slender tall body and appearance, Mitsuya felt that she was rather model-like. She picked up the mobile phone that Mitsuya had dropped, and pushed a button on it before handing it back to Mitsuya.
“Please take care of it. This is an important item.”
“From the looks of things, it doesn’t seem like you’ve started fighting yet. But, if you’re participating in this, it must mean that you have some level of determination, so you should probably start getting a move on. You’re a man, aren’t you?”
The schoolgirl smiled and said that as her hair fluttered in the wind, after which she began to walk away from the scene. Mitsuya simply stared at the back of her figure until she completely disappeared from view. The man who was on the other end of the phone was gone, and as he held the phone in his hand, it vibrated.
(Part 1 of 4) (9/10)
 A self-published fan-made production, usually made by fans of a particular interest group.
 The Kanji for Kanzaki Mitsuya are神崎光也. The 神 might mean something like god or spirit, the 崎 might mean something like a coast or peninsula. The 光也 part could be interpreted as bright or light.
 Teamer: term used to describe ruffians or delinquents of a certain kind, though usage was mostly centred on the delinquent high school boys and girls in the Shibuya area of Tokyo. They peaked in the late nineties to early noughties, but have since sharply declined.
 Old man hunting: term that was coined when teenagers started ‘hunting’ middle-aged or elderly salarymen and threatening them for valuables and cash. Again, most prevalent in late nineties.
 Ojou-sama: a term used to describe a young lady as being prim, proper and elegant. Also usually from a wealthy family.