Monday, October 31, 2016

Gamers Volume 1 Chapter 1

Happy Halloween!

Here is the teaser for Gamers. I think chapter 1 is a nice self contained story, and hopefully, you can relate to the MC like I did.

Also special thanks to Shadow and Touch Me for the banner, it looks awesome. (By the way, the pic above is a gif.)

Amano Keita and the People Who are Guided.
Translator: Skythewood
Editor: Deus ex-Machina, Ruzenor

There were existences that were out of the league of mere mortals.

For example, there were idolized singers, athletes performing on the international stage, the wealthy directors of large corporations and 2D waifus, it differs from person to person.

Their status and positions were too different with no intersecting points. Even if they met miraculously, keeping up conversation or interaction would be highly difficult.

They were existences that were out of the league of mere mortals.

Therefore…

“Eh, pardon me. You are a student from Otobuki… correct?”

“Huhh?”

A certain day in June, after school was out, in a certain game shop where the atmosphere was casual under the setting sun.

When the top beauty of Otobuki High School Tendo Karen spoke to me without any warning… I, Amano Keita’s brain was completely frozen, and responded with a weird sound without even thinking.

My eyes scanned all over the place in order to obtain more information, and looked at her from head to toe indiscreetly.

The first thing that drew my attention was her long blonde hair. It wasn’t the blonde dyed haphazardly by delinquents in desolated salons, but a healthy blonde that was the real thing. I didn’t remember the details, but she seemed to have either half or a quarter caucasian heritage.

But unlike her blonde hair, her face was really Japanese, even though her big bright eyes were light blue, she somehow gave an impression of innocence.

Just like a typical beauty from an anime or game.

Maybe it was her slender model like body built, the Otobuki High School uniform everyone was wearing looked really neat on her.

“...?”

“Ah.”

I couldn’t help staring, and Tendo-san looked at me baffled with her head tilted. In contrast to me whose heart was racing, Tendo-san said naturally: “Ah, right.” then shyly placed her hand on her chest, and moved her lips.

“I am in the second year class A of Otobuki High, Tendo Karen. Pleased to meet you, eh…”

“Huh? Ah, well, eh, I am Amano. Amano…”

I instinctively state my family name in a panic. When I saw Tendo-san smiling silently at me as she waited for me to continue, I came to my senses and added:
“A-Amano Keita. Class F… ah, second year…. Ah, not that, yes, I am studying in Otobuki too!”

I introduced myself in bits and pieces in response. Not only was I stuttering shamefully, my face was sweating because of nervousness. My fringe stuck onto my forehead, and my slightly trembling body made my teeth chatter. I tried my best to calm myself so the other party won’t be able to tell how shaken I was… But the more anxious I was, the more wasted my effort became, and my entire face slowly turned red.

I was aware of the disgusting, introverted ‘stay at home boy’ aura I was emitting, there should be a limit to how much of a fool I was making myself.

Tendo-san didn’t mind my suspicious actions at all, and extended her smooth and delicate hand out to me with an even friendlier attitude.

“Ah, that’s great, we are in the same grade. Nice to meet you, Amano-kun.”

“Hmm… Yes… Eh… Ah.”

And I finally realized I was still holding the box of a galgame in my hand, and placed it back onto the shelf in a hurry. I wanted to shake her hand ── but at this moment, I realized a guy like me would be touching Tendo-san’s hand and hesitated. Afraid that it would be bad manners, I wiped my hands onto my pants, reached out again before regretting it; Wrong, wiping it like that would make the other party feel more disgusted──

“... Nice, to, meet, you!”

“Ah…”

── As I was still thinking about it, Tendo-san forcefully took my hand and shook it.

As for the sensation of her hand ── I couldn’t spare the effort to enjoy it, and could only stand there in a daze.

… No matter how I thought about this… Our palms touching seem like an unreal situation to me.

Afterall… She is the famous Tendo Karen, why is she talking to someone like me...

I looked at her smile and once again, I realized how abnormal this situation was.

Tendo Karen. On the other end of the spectrum, she was the student at the very top of the social pyramid on campus.

With great looks, fantastic grades, quick-wittedness and excellence in sports, she was a beauty with attributes so good that it seemed unreal. In Otobuki High School which had low entrance score, and mediocre reputation, she literally stood out from the crowd.

Even though she wasn’t a television celebrity, her standing in Otobuki was akin to a goddess── also known as ‘school idol’.

However, she wasn’t a frog in a well. As Tendo Karen had a strong support in such a small world, her influence was huge. Just the term ‘idol’ would not be enough to describe her. She was the common topic among the students of Otobuki, the fashion setter, idol, mascot, spiritual symbol and glory.

If a high schooler in the region was asked about their impression of Otobuki high, right after the customary ‘a public school with slightly low entrance score’, you will hear: “That’s the high school Tendo Karen studies in.”

That’s how important she was.

Her personality was really popular, even though she had the confidence and capability nurtured by her excellent traits, she didn’t have a shred of arrogance about her. In fact, one could even feel a sense of nobility (That was what I learned from the gossips of the boys in class).

On the other hand, I am a background character type solo player who didn’t even have a single friend in high school.

“......”

… Yup, no matter how I racked my brains, I couldn’t think of the reason why Tendo Karen was chatting me up. Or rather, it was a miracle that she was looking at someone like me.

Eh, d-do I have to say it. My chuuni tendencies had seeped deep into my bones, so I don’t deny that I fantasized about someone as famous as her falling for me in a dramatic way.

But even when I was fantasizing that, I couldn’t think of any concrete setting for why she would fall for me, which took a lot of effort. Don’t laugh, but I used the cliche fantasy of ‘making an important promise when we were young’ as a compromise.


And so, the situation right now fell too far from my expectations, and instead of elation and anticipation, I felt more troubled… and uneasy… Yes, uneasy.

D-Did I do something weird? I hope it’s not a big problem...

Even though I was always craving for an experience out of my ordinary everyday life, I would hesitate timidly and fear that my steady lifestyle would end. I always talked about chuuni stuff, but my wish for ‘nothing bad to happen’ was stronger than ‘I hope something good happens’. I had the psychology of being a nobody. How shameful.

As all sorts of emotions stirred in my heart, Tendo-san pulled back her hand after shaking mine, she asked me with a smile still hanging on her face:

“Amano-kun, do you like it?”

“Huh!?”

The sudden question made my heart race again. N-No way, I would never dream that in my plain everyday life, I would be confessed to out of the blue by a girl out of my league──

“I mean video games.”

“Of course! I knew it! I actually knew it from the start, and only acted shaken on purpose!”

“?”

“Ah, it’s n-nothing…”

Oh no, I was too flustered and was leaning towards being anxious like a bipolar personality. It was probably really disgusting to someone I just met. I unwittingly spoke as if I was talking to my family.

Tendo-san didn’t seem to mind, and asked with her eyes on the game I was holding a moment ago:

“Amano-kun, you were holding something just now right? Eh一”

Oh shit. It was embarrassing to be caught browsing gal games, and the game I picked up randomly was…

“Eh, this one right? Let me see… The first love simulation game that features only blonde beauties, a mischievous adventure game with eye candies, ‘Golden tricks’...?”

“Love itI love!”
“Hmm?”

“Ah.”

I answered the previous question loudly in order to divert her attention from the game, but the timing was unfortunate.

Tendo-san brushed her blonde hair with her fingertip as she looked between me and the game frantically, her cheeks slowly blushing──

“Ah, I, I mean all video games!”

“T-That’s right! I knew that! I already understand, but I still felt embarrassed!”

Tendo-san seemed to be reacting to what I said a moment ago as she placed the game box backed onto the shelf in panic. And so, an indescribable feeling hung between the two of us, and the atmosphere was like a funeral… I want to disappear just like this, vanishing from the scene without leaving a single trace, as if ‘Medoroa’ was cast on me’.
<TL: Spell from Dai no Daibôken>

That might be so, it was fine for a disgusting otaku to suffer, but I felt that I have to take responsibility for dragging Tendo-san into this awkward atmosphere.

Squeezing out all the courage I had, it was rare to see me trying to move the conversation along.

“Eh, generally speaking, I like all types of video games. T-That’s why, there isn’t any special meaning behind the game I was holding just now… Or rather, the concept of that game is too innovative, so I was intrigued about what the description on the back of the box…”

“Ah, I understand. That’s right, the description behind the game packaging is interesting, isn’t it?”
Tendo-san smiled at me gently. For an instant, I let it get to my head.

“Y-You understand too!? That’s right, the back of the packaging is so entrancing! Although I read ratings online and from magazines, I also placed a lot of importance on the synopsis on the back of the box too! It is different from the explanation found on the official website! I couldn’t resist the feeling of compressing and presenting the strong points of the game in such a small space! Speaking of the back of the package, the idea Metal Gear Solid had was really creative──”
<TL: http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/197909-metal-gear-solid/42555755>

I blabbered all that out before I came to my senses and stopped. Oh no, what was I doing? I was usually quiet, but would keep chattering when I talk about things I like… That was so typical of me! How embarrassing! And even worse, the other party was the girl at the peak of the normies in Otobuki high! I messed up the scene so badly──

“Fufu…”

“? T-Tendo-san?”

However, Tendo-san’s reaction was completely opposite of what I expected, and she was softly laughing cheerfully. For an instant, I thought she was laughing at my pitiful state, but I didn’t feel such malicious intent.

As I was standing stiff confusedly, Tendo-san said with a joyous smile:

“My apologies for interrupting halfway. I couldn’t help myself because you are so passionate…”

“Ugh…”

H-How embarrassing! My face heated up again. However, Tendo-san didn’t look down on me and continued:

“How should I put this? You really match my ideal, I really want to praise myself for mustering up the courage to talk to you…”

“Huh? M-Match your ideal? Eh… You are referring to…”

This time, I was heating up for an entirely different reason. Eh… Judging from this… Could this be the route I thought up in my delusions about her falling for me!?

My heart was thumping hard, and Tendo-san straightened her back and looked right into my eyes for some reason.

“Erm, Amano-kun, if you don’t mind, would you like to…”

“!”
I-It’s here──! T-The moment of confession is here──

“... Join the Gamers Club with me?”

“Of course! I knew it! I already knew that you want me to join the game── Huh? Wait… Game… Gamers… Club?”

The invitation came too unexpectedly, which left me dumbfounded.

But Tendo-san still acted like an angel… smiling sweetly at me.




There was nothing more interesting than playing games when I was in a good mood.

When I feel down, I couldn’t invest much emotions no matter what masterpiece RPG it might be; But when I’m in a great mood, no matter what kind of unreasonable enemy wiped out my team and waste all the time I spent adventuring, I wouldn’t sigh in depression, and would chuckle instead.

That was why, the me today──

“♪~~♪~~♪”

── Could enjoy myself even though I was sitting in a corner of the classroom and playing social network games on my mobile phone.

Eh~~ Social Network Games aren’t bad, how should I put it? I feel that I can empty my mind when I play this… I don’t dislike it!

I liked the design that tempts players to pay cash, even though it usually frustrates me.

As I slowly completed my ‘weekly mission’, I hummed a song in a volume no one else could hear.

Even the usually unbearable ‘after school sit in place forever alone time’ felt trivial today. After all...

I recalled what happened after school yesterday and couldn’t help snickering.

The famous Tendo Karen invited me to join the Gamers Club!

My campus life had always been covered in gloomy clouds, but I was suddenly facing a dramatic event that appeared out of nowhere.

The person I admired approached me, and on top of that, I had a feeling that I would get to know a lot of comrades who loved video games.

It would be hard for me to not get hyped in such a situation.

Actually after what happened yesterday, I went home and played Super Smash Bros with my younger brother. For the entire game, I was so hyped that I was all smiles even when I lose, even my brother who was in the third year of middle school said “You look really disgusting!” But I couldn’t help it even if he said that.

Anyway, there was no entertainment better than playing games in a great mood!

I had to keep myself from snickering at school, but a background character like me won’t be noticed── I thought as I continued playing with my phone in a great mood.

Speaking of which, Gamers Club huh? I never heard that Otobuki had such a club.

Even a self-proclaimed gaming enthusiast like me didn’t know.

But that was only natural, Tendo-san said that the current Gamers Club was just started by her. For some reason, the student populace totally didn’t know about this club.

I played around with the operating system of my phone as I slowly think back about what happened after school yesterday… After shifting location from the game store to a bench in a nearby park, I listened to what Tendo-san had to say.

“And for the Gamers club, even though I founded the club, I didn’t advertise to recruit members at all.”

Tendo-san said as she took out a small bottle of mineral water from her bag to drink.

Even though I was still very nervous about talking to her alone, I still did my best to pretend to be calm to avoid making a fool of myself.

“Thank you for enlightening me, But in that case-”

“Ah, your honourifics.”

“?”

Tendo-san looked at me troublingly with a frown.

“We are in the same grade, you can just talk to me like an equal, Amano-kun. Or rather, I am already speaking in such a casual tone, it would be awkward if you respond with honorifics.”

“Ah, my apologies…”

I apologized on reflex, and then noticed that I almost used honorifics again. Tendo-san smiled wryly.

“I don’t know why, even my classmates use honorifics with me.”

“I-I see.”

“Hmm… That other time, even the teacher spoke to me with honorifics…”

“Haha…”

“In the end, even King Bowser used honorifics on me.”

“Oh… Eh, no no no, that’s too ridiculous!”

“It’s true. When I went into the deepest part of Bowser Castle, he said: ‘I apologize for the terrible road conditions.’ Is it a bug?”

“There should be a limit on how bad a bug affects the game! And under what situation did this bug occur!?”

“Eh… When I feel very sleepy.”

“It’s a dream! There is no doubt that it was a dream!”

“Hmm? Then when Rathian told me apologetically: ‘I am very sorry, I don’t have any more scales…’ That was a dream too?”
<TL: http://monsterhunter.wikia.com/wiki/Rathian>

“It’s probably a dream! It would be terrible if it is not a dream!”

“... Should I ask Capcom about this?”

“Why do you insist on denying that was a dream! Don’t do that! Of course, the one who was mistaken is Tendo-sa──

“... Fufu!”

When Tendo-san suddenly giggled, I finally realized that she drew out my true colours, and felt really embarrassed.

When I became timid again,Tendo-san looked at me as if it was a pity. She seemed embarrassed about chatting further, so she returned to the topic with a gentle smile.

“Sorry, I veered from the topic accidentally. Ehh, where were we…”

Tendo-san looked to the sky with a finger on her lips… She probably became the school idol because she could act this way so naturally.

“Right, we were talking about not advertising for the Gamers Club after founding it, right?”

“Ah, yes, that’s right. Eh… So why…?”

After I had calmed down a little, pure curiosity stemmed from my heart. Tendo-san capped her bottle as she looked at the kids playing in the sandpit.

“Aside from the fact that the Gamers Club doesn’t sound like a proper group, it’s awkward for me to say this myself… Well, because I am in the club, if words are to spread…”

“...? …… Ah... Ah~~ I see…”

Even though she tailed off the ending of her explanation with a wry smile, I could feel the subtle reason behind that.

Simply put, Tendo-san was probably worried there would be half hearted people who would join in order to slack off or to woo her. After all, unlike sports club, the entry bar for the Gamers club sounded really low.

Tendo-san continued:

“I really love video games, although I don’t really mention that to my friends. And the reason I am studying in Otobuki High is because I heard we have a famous Gamers Club here.”

“Huh?”

That was the first time I heard that. Tendo-san laughed weakly.

“I heard that the club disbanded right before we entered the school. Most of the members then seemed to have graduated…”

“Okay…”

That was really… how should I put this? But Tendo-san didn’t seem disheartened at all.

“And so, in order to revive the Gamers Club, I have been working behind the scenes for the past year. Finally, I became the Club president this spring…”

“Oh, the Gamers Club has revived? Congratulations.”

I offered my sincere compliments. Tendo-san said shyly: “It isn’t much.”

After a short applause, I thought of a question and asked:

“Eh, but, what exactly does the Gamers Club do…”

“Ah, I know what you are meaning to ask. It is basically what you’d expect at face value, a club to play video games.”

“... Are there any difference between it standing out or not? Actually, how can playing video games be a club activity…”

Tendo-san smiled at my question.

“Ahaha, yes, that’s what people would normally think. However, it really is different from just playing video games. Or rather, we have to play games seriously for it to be a club activity.”

“?”

“Eh… Sorry, it’s hard for you to imagine that right? But that’s how it is.”

Tendo-san stood at this moment, and invited me with a warm smile, with her back to the setting sun:

“Well, Amano-kun! Would you like to visit the Gamers Club room!?”

For an instant, I almost lost myself because of how cute she was, but I still asked her back hurriedly:

“W-Why would you invite someone like me…”
“Why would you say that…?”

Compared to me who couldn’t understand and was flustered──

Tendo-san said in a kind tone as if she was gently guiding a child throwing a tantrum:

“Because you like video games, right?”

“Huh? Ah, yes, I do like them…”

I tilted my head as I pondered, and Tendo-san began explaining in detail.

“Our Gamers Club won’t advertise publicly, and in place, the members have to recruit those who loves gaming. To be honest, the efficiency is bad, and we would most likely miss out on people who truly like games. However, it won’t be worth it if the Club fails because weird people joined in. I think this is a good way of laying a solid foundation.”

“Oh… I see…”

Simply put, this was like a shop that prioritized to serve the customers? The efficiency might be sacrificed, but it gave more importance to other matters.

Hmm? But this means… I really...

“Ah, it’s already so late! My curfew…!”

She had probably set a vibrating alarm on her phone, Tendo-san looked flustered when she took it out from her pocket.

At this day and age, a girl like her still had curfews huh── While I was feeling impressed, she waved at me and said: “Excuse me!” then picked up her bag from the bench swiftly.

“That’s it for today! Tomorrow! Make some time for me after school tomorrow! I will tell you the details… I will find you after class is over! Bye, Amano-kun!”

“Huh? Ah, alright, eh, b-bye…”

I stood up from the chair hurriedly, and despite a slight hesitation in my heart, I still waved my hand shyly… Even though Tendo-san wasn’t looking at me, I continued waving my hand… I only slumped back onto the bench when I could no longer see her figure anymore.

And after I spaced out for a while… I looked up to the sky and muttered:

“So that means… I… was chosen by her?”

It had nothing to do with romance though. But even so… What was just a delusion suddenly felt very real, there was no doubt about that.

“Gamers Club… Gamers Club huh… Fu, fufu…”

It was the first time in my life──

That I looked forward to going to Otobuki High the next day.


As I absentmindedly cleared my Social Network game missions, I kept replaying back the event from yesterday in my mind.

That’s right, Gamers Club. Today… Tendo-san would be inviting me into the Club…

What an exciting day. To think I would see such a day in my high school life.

But… There’s something that I felt uneasy about…

Could it be… That was just a dream…?

I didn’t feel that way yesterday, but my confidence dwindled after a single night. Being the type whose dreams felt really realistic also helped to grow my unease.

...N-No way, that was definitely not a dream. Yes, it was real, no doubt about it… I-I just need to play my game and wait for school to end, yup!

I focused on the screen of my phone, forcefully wiping away the unease in my heart.

For me, games were a safe haven, and also my mental stabilizing injection. I liked to empty my mind, play task oriented games, and immerse myself in the world of RPG as well. Because no matter what I was playing, I could forget everything about reality, and cleanse my soul completely.

Right now, I was playing one of the many games on the market that was a clone of Puzzle & Dragons.
<TL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puzzle_%26_Dragons>

The players had to use the energy that recover over time to adventure, and battle by playing mini games. They could also use the rewards from battles or the bonus from logging in daily to play gacha to collect comrades, power-up and synthesize new items.

I usually couldn’t play pay-to-win Social Network Games for long, but this one had a lot of action elements in its battle, which I liked a lot. And so, with a miniscule spending in the range of hundreds of yen, I had been fiddling with this game for half a year.

I completed a mission today as usual, and found a ‘help request notification when I returned to the home screen.

You could request for reinforcement from other players registered as your ‘friend’ if you couldn’t defeat an enemy that appeared during a limited time event, a system to call for aid by sharing the rewards.

Ah, even though the term ‘friend’ was used, I don’t know most of the players, and was only helping out in the game. Just strangers that didn’t communicate, and only helped each other for the reward, with no emotional investment.

However, the person requesting aid this time was different.

Ah, it’s ‘MONO’. I will help him then.

Basically, the rewards for the players who help wasn’t too good for this game. It wasn’t completely a waste of time, but there were other missions that grant rewards more efficiently.

However, ‘MONO’ was a ‘friend’ I made when I first played this game. Even though we didn’t message each other at all, I somehow feel a strong sense of camaraderie for him. Our game progress was almost the same and we go online at similar timings, which was probably the reason why we often help each other.

In short, even though this was a meager friendship I had in the Social Network Game, I still want to accept MONO’s help request. Especially for this event which had a strict time limit: ‘After receiving the help request notification, you have to accept within 3 minutes.’

I immediately reached out to press the ‘accept help request’ button──

“Ah, found you, Amano-kun!”

── It happened really fast, Tendo-san entered the classroom after speaking loudly.

The appearance of the unexpected person caused an uproar in F class. But Tendo-san seemed used to it, and wasn’t concerned as she walked towards me openly.

I froze on the spot as I stared at her with my mobile phone in hand flusteredly,

… As she got closer to me, the gazes from my classmates slowly fell onto me… I could feel my heart beating fast.

Ugh… This really is...

Even though this was a scene I looked forward to in a romantic comedy. I couldn’t calm down with so many eyes on me, let alone feeling a sense of superiority about this.

To be honest, instead of being envious, the gaze of my classmates appeared confused.

Maybe Tendo-san didn’t understand the awkward atmosphere hanging over us, after coming to my table in quick steps… She suddenly leaned in and peeked at my phone.

“Hmm? Amano-kun, are you busy with something?”

“Ah, just killing time…”

“Oh, a social network game. How unexpected, I didn’t think you will play such boring things.”

“Huh?... Ah…… T-That’s right, just a little.”

My face started heating up for no reason, and I hurriedly flip my phone over… Why was my body turning hot too? Was it because Tendo-san was beside me, and I was being watched by everyone? Or perhaps…

“Let’s not talk about that.”

Tendo-san moved the phone I put on the table away, placed her hand there, then spoke to me intimidatingly:

“About the promise today, how about meeting in the library after school? Amano-kun, you can come over immediately after your cleaning duty right?”

“Ah, a-alright. It should be… fine.”

The words were stuck in my mouth and came out haphazardly. It’s probably because I’m being watched by others, so my body was stiffer than yesterday. I had to try expressing myself clearer, so I nodded my head several times like a nodding doll to emphasize what I said.

And so, Tendo-san said with a smile: “It’s settled then!”

It was rare seeing her smile so happily, and she was doing so just for me. This fact caused a disturbance in the class.

I couldn’t find the words to answer her as my mouth opened and close. The gods probably couldn’t bear seeing me like this, and rang the bell for the second period of class.

“Ah, I need to go then. See you after school, Amano-kun!”
Tendo-san left quickly after saying that. The only thing accompanying me was the words ‘Ah, right, bye…’ I uttered in relief, and…

Ugh...

The rude stares from my classmates. Also, as the bell for class just rang, even the classmates that would normally riot didn’t talk to me, and the air felt dangerous. That might be so, but I couldn’t take the initiative and talk about the Gamers Club…

I lowered my head as I reached for the textbook under my desk, and slowly prepare for the next lesson.

── At this moment…

… Ah, in the end… I didn’t accept the help request from MONO...

I picked up my phone and looked at the screen, and the message ‘help request fail’.

In reality, it was common when other players couldn’t respond to help requests because of various factors. Conversely, there were times when I couldn’t get any reinforcement too, and wouldn’t hold a grudge against others because of that.

But, why…?

Compared to normal times, the guilt I felt today… Was heavier for some reason.




“Phew… Wahhh~~...”

After school, I went to a corner of the sparsely occupied library, and quietly groaned as I stretched my back.

… This is the longest day of my entire high school life...

And of course, it didn’t feel long in a good way. I realized once again how mentally taxing it was to endure strange gazes. Well, the game I was playing, the latest release of ‘Shiren the Wanderer’ I brought to school to play just happened to be saved at the hardest part of the dungeon, level 70. I was grateful that the ‘super tension that makes me ignore the outside world completely’ accompanied me in taking on this stage of the game! If not, I would have died already.

Games are great! ...Eh, in the end I died to an amateur mistake at level 95, so it was still a setback from another perspective! Damn Chunsoft! Giving the monsters so many annoying skills! Were they geniuses at that!?

After sulking over it for a while, seeing that Tendo-san had still not come to the library, I picked a book at random from the shelf and flipped through it, even though my mind wasn’t in it.

But this is weird, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call such a situation an extremely lucky romantic comedy development. But I don’t feel blissful at all, instead...

When I thought this far, I shook my head. Why was I being such a wimp? The main event was just about to start, right?

I would be visiting the Gamers Club, and would probably join right away. And become good friends with Tendo-san and the members of the Gamers Club.

… After that, my joyous high school life would finally begin. How could I run into a wall like this? I have to pull myself together. Yes, I have to endure even if something unpleasant happens.

As I was renewing my resolve, I could hear the library door open. I put the book back onto the shelf and took a look, and found a blonde girl looking at me with a smile just as expected… She looked out of place no matter where she was as usual, as if she belonged to a higher realm. An existence that was completely the opposite of me… Well, I was out of place here too, in the sense that she was out of my league.

“Amano-kun, you are fast. Sorry, I’m late.”

Tendo-san lowered her voice and came to my side. then I replied with a smile: “Not at all.”

“I just arrived anyway…”
I immediately regretted saying that, as I thought it was too cliche, but… “That’s great.” Fortunately, Tendo-san brushed it aside lightly and I patted my chest in relief.

In order to head to the destination, I started walking to the library entrance──

“Ah, please wait. One more person would be coming.”

“... Huh?”

Tendo-san’s sudden words made me turn back in surprise. Even though she tilted her head lightly in response, she still explained to me with a smile:

“Ah, didn’t I mention it? Before I invited you yesterday, I also found another person. It was a good chance, so I want to invite both of you to a visit.”

“Ah… I-Is that so?”

I walked back to Tendo-san’s side with a smile… but my heart was shaken hard.

Finding someone else before me… That means… I… am just a passing thought’?

I felt ashamed about thinking that I was a ‘chosen one’ moments ago. That’s too cringey. The only salvation was that I didn’t show an arrogant attitude to the people around me. I didn’t have friends to show off to anyway…! ...Was that really salvation? Tendo-san and I sat together on a chair near the entrance, and did my best to answer her idle chatter like ‘how are you doing?’ About 2 minutes later, the library door opened again.

Tendo-san waved when she saw the person entering, calling him over softly.

“Misumi-kun, over here.”

After seeing her reaction, I turned my head to the entrance too. I could hear from the way she was addressing him that the person was a guy, and…

Wahh~~ … A stylish handsome boy...

My heart fell into a valley. How should I put this? If the one who came was a girl, I might still have a chance. I don’t know what kind of chance though. For example… the hope it would become a cliche romantic comedy?

But when things turned out this way, I really felt strongly that I am just a ‘complementary item’... Well, that wasn’t wrong, I was a background character from the very beginning.

On the other hand, that ‘Misumi-kun’ was a cheerful handsome boy that didn’t seem out of place… In other words, he had the aura of a main character, also…

“Ah, sorry Tendo-san. And you are Amano-kun right? I’m late…”

The apologetic handsome boy lowered his head right after seeing us.

… Uwah, he is bowing really low一 He feels like a good person~~ ...Ah, that’s right…

I fell into despair in many areas as Tendo-san and I replied in unison: “Not at all.”

Tendo-san looked my way again.

“That’s right, I mentioned you to Misumi-kun this morning, but the time after class was too short, so I couldn’t tell you about Misumi-kun in time.”

“Yes, I see…” As expected, she went to Misumi-kun first, then came to my place...

“Let me introduce again. He is Misumi Eiichi from Class O, in the second year just like us. I saw him playing games in the arcade and chatted him up. He was concentrating hard on playing a tetris-like puzzle game.”

Tendo-san’s introduction made Misumi-kun blush.

“Eh, don’t say that, Tendo-san. It’s really embarrassing.”

“Why would that be? I am complimenting you. Your skills are shockingly good.”

“No, my only forte is in playing that game…”

… Uwah, even the way they met was much better than mine. That’s right, the male and female main characters should meet that way, yup.

My eyes had turned gloomy, but the cheerful Misumi-kun still shyly and naturally extended his right hand to me.

“Erm, nice to meet you, Amano-kun. I heard about you from Tendo-san. Well… I actually don’t have many friends, I will be very happy if you are willing to be friends with me.”

“Ah, a-alright, n-nice to meet you, I am Amano. How do you do!” He is super cool!

I wasn’t used to the action of shaking hands, so I shook back embarrassedly with a red face… Ah, what a smooth hand. His brown hair was smooth too, and what a kind smile… Wait, what was that!? BL? But to be frank, just this part of him already won me over! If I was the main heroine in a love comedy starring Misumi-kun, I would be the type that would fall for him easily, that’s how much I admired him!

After I was captured completely, Tendo-san stood up again.

“Alright then, please follow me to the Gamers Club.”

When we heard this──

Misumi-kun and I looked at each other’s faces… Then I squeezed out a smile a bit too forcefully and said:

“Okay!”




After passing through the corridor from the main school building, the club room of the Gamers Club was located in one of the rooms in the old school building, which housed most of the non-sports clubs.

We were told that the club was located on the third storey and climbed up the stairs, Misumi-kun asked Tendo-san who was walking in front of us:

“By the way, it’s amazing that you got a club room with video games as the core activity. I heard the non-sports club were brutal in their fights over resources...”

I was curious about that too. It might be fine in college, but founding a Gamers Club in high school was something only possible in light novels.

Tendo-san replied without turning back:

“Ah, there are two reasons. Firstly, the Gamers Club existed before we entered the school.”

I didn’t quite understand Tendo-san’s explanation and my gaze went upwards unconsciously… But I almost saw under her skirt for an instant, and averted my eyes while I asked:

“B-But in the first place, how was the past Gamers Club established…?”

“That would be the second reason. In the end, club activities have to be proper.”

“?Proper?”

Misumi-kun and I tilted our heads. W-What was a proper club activities like? Were there a proper or improper way of playing games?

Despite our confusion, Tendo-san simply walked on with no intention of explaining further. After getting to the third storey, we walked on for several more seconds. Misumi-kun couldn’t help but try to ask more, but Tendo-san spoke preemptively:

“For that part, I think it is better for you to see for yourselves.”

She suddenly stopped and turned towards us.

Looking closely, there was a door between her and us… The door with the sign ‘Gamers Club’ was right before us.

Tendo-san pushed open the door and entered… She then opened her arms to welcome us, and announced with a refreshing smile:

“Welcome to the Gamers Club!”

The light coming from inside made it hard to see the room clearly.

Despite taking a deep breath, our greetings were nervous, but Misumi-kun still entered the club room first… Not daring to enter first was probably a trademark of me being me.

When Tendo-san closed the door behind us to cut off our retreat, we looked around the club room.

The space was about half a classroom with monitors and games consoles arranged neatly, and their wirings were done perfectly. It was worlds apart from my room where my brother would frequently rage after stepping on a controller.

In the Gamers Club room, there were two other students aside from us.

A male student with narrow eyes under his glasses, giving off a cold impression.

And a brown haired ‘hot babe’ female student who was lazily blowing a bubble gum that was rarely seen in this day and age, as she fiddled noisily with her personal game joystick for fighting games in silence, focused on her game.

“...... Gulp.

It was difficult to describe the atmosphere as ‘welcoming’, which made Misumi and I straighten our backs.

Tendo-san eased the mood a little frantically.

“Ah, eh~~ I am sorry. Including me, there are five members in the Gamers Club right now, but I don’t know why only the two people who are hard to get along with are here…”

The intelligent looking male student heard what Tendo-san said, and crossed his arms unhappily and pushed his glasses.

“Hmmp, what an impolite junior. Did I ever treat someone I just met strictly?”

“No no no, Kase-Senpai is just strict to everyone. That is stringent enough for a first impression.”

She might be saying that, but Tendo-san was really at ease towards the Sempai. Was this the relationship between clubmates? While I was feeling envious, the other student who looked like a delinquent appeared to have finished a fighting game match, and glanced our way. She then said with a fierce look:

“... Ah~ hello.”

“H-Hello…”

Misumi-kun and I bowed and parroted her words. The female student look at us with sleepy eyes, and asked directly:

“Are you good with fighting games?”
“Huh…”

Who was she asking? We didn’t know, but Misumi-kun and I both shook our heads. And so, she obviously lost interest with an ‘Oh’, spat her bubble gum onto the paper packaging, then placed a new gum into her mouth immediately. She then returned her gaze to the screen… Eh…

“Ah, sorry. Nina-Senpai is always like this, please don’t mind.”

“... Oh.”

We answered Tendo-san blankly. This person was a grade our senior too. Indeed, from her outstanding figure and charm from her lazy attitude, she felt like a person that wasn’t our age.

Tendo-san gently introduced them once again to the two of us who were intimidated:

“Ah, let me reintroduce. That person wearing glasses and acting cool is the club vice president, Kase Gakuto-Senpai.”

“Hey, Tendo.”

Even though we were intimidated by how Kase-senpai was obviously enraged, Tendo-san was unfazed and continued:

“And the person playing fighting games over there… Or rather the ‘hot babe’ big sister who always plays fighting games is Oiso Nina-Senpai.”

“......”

“As you can see, Senpai ignores people when she is playing fighting games, just like that.”

Even though she was being introduced, not only did blah Senpai ignored us, she didn’t even glance at Tendo-san… What amazing focus.

Heeding Tendo-san’s words, we sat down. Two long white tables were placed together in the middle of the room, with blah Senpai sitting to the right front seat with a screen before her and her personal joystick in hand. Kase-Senpai who was opposite her wasn’t doing anything, simply watching as if he was appraising us.

Misumi-kun and I sat together at the bottom seats with our backs to the entrance. Tendo-san who was seated beside Oiso-Senpai led the conversation with a “So…”

“I wish to invite the two of you to watch our club activities… Kase-Senpai, please don’t sulk there, play some FPS casually like you usually do.”

“Hey Tendo. I have never played FPS with a casual attitude since I was born…”

“Ah~~ alright, got it. Here Senpai, I am plugging the console in.”

Tendo made her way to the top seat side, and plugged in the power for the largest screen and a game console. She started the game, then hand the wireless controller to Kase-Senpai.

Even though the Senpai snorted, he didn’t hesitate in taking the controller and called out to the seat opposite him: “Oiso.”

The female upperclassman took out headphones from somewhere and plugged it into the monitor connected to her fighting game console. Seemed like the people playing on the main screen had priority in audio entertainment.

When Tendo-san returned to her seat, Kase-Senpai activated the game software and deftly chose online battle from the menu. He then waited for the matchmaking to be done. It was the latest installment of a famous FPS (First Person Shooter) game series I had dabbled in. The player would become a soldier in a real battlefield, and shoot at each other with the most advanced guns… The description might sound bloody, but players would be revived immediately after death, and the kill scenes were downplayed, so the feel of the game was like an advanced version of snowball fights.

After the numbers were set and the fight started, Misumi-kun heaved in admiration:

“Woah~~ the graphics in games are really advanced nowadays.”

It was true that the graphics was really well done among FPS games… But for a game lover, I was surprised by how moved he was.

Tendo-san asked:

“Misumi-kun… could it be you have not tried other games other than that puzzle game?”

In response, Misumi-kun scratched his head troublingly.

“Didn’t I mention it before? I have a game console at home… But I would only consider playing when there is a new Dragon Quest or Mario game.”

“I-I see.”

Tendo-san probably thought he would be more familiar with games, and smiled wryly.
“... Hmmp.”

Kase-Senpai snorted as he fiddled with his controller. Misumi-san felt a little guilty and turned timid… Eh~~

“T-The graphics in this game is awesome! A-And Kase-Senpai’s skills are great!”

I pushed myself to speak in order to lighten the mood, but my voice was obviously shrilled, so it wasn’t done too well.

Despite that, Misumi-kun still smiled at me in relief… T-That’s great.

“Kase-Senpai might look like this, but he is actually an elite who made it onto the ranking board of Japan.”
“What do you mean ‘look like this’? What do I look like?”
Kase-Senpai protested as he blew off the head of the enemy he encountered splendidly. We weren’t familiar with FPS, but we could still tell his skills were top notch.

Kase-Senpai didn’t think much of it as he defeated the opposing team one by one.

I gasped.

I remember this series… the review says it’s a game where players dish out and take damage really fast right? But… After going through such intense battles, he didn’t even die once?

Anyone who tried this game series before would be able to tell how out of place that was. No, when I glanced to the side, I noticed that Misumi-kun was also staring at the screen. That’s how overwhelming Kase-Senpai’s technique was.

Tendo-san muttered while watching the screen:

“So, do you understand the Gamers Club better now?”

Misumi-kun and I both nodded after hearing that… I could feel subtly what she meant by ‘club activities have to be proper’.

As Kase-Sempai started the second round silently, Tendo-san continued:

“Not just FPS. For example, for Nina-Senpai…”

“......!”

Tendo-san turned the monitor in front of Oiso-Senpai towards us a little. Oiso-Sempai was shaken for an instant, but she clicked her tongue and ──

“Hmm…”

She couldn’t see the screen properly from such an angle, but Senpai’s character was doing just fine, and could even dominate her opponent who had great win-lose ratings.

Tendo-san turned the monitor backed towards Oiso-Sempai with a smile on her face.

“The other members aren’t no-lifers like these two, but they could still perform at similar level in their own expertise. In other words…”

“... I understand. You mean they have all gotten achievements for the club.”
Tendo-san smiled to answer Misumi-kun muttering, effectively saying: “Bingo.”

“A competition in real life is a given, it’s the same for online competition too. Also, because the previous principal held the concept of ‘rewarding those with merits’, the previous Gamers Club was established successfully. Founding it this time was done mostly by imitating the previous generation.”

“I see…”

I mumbled. When I heard the name Gamers Club, I was wondering why such a club that focus on entertainment was approved, but this was really ‘club activities’... But that means…

The three of us observed Kase-Senpai’s massacre for a while more. After the second round was done, Tendo-san led the conversation with a “Well then,”

“There’s no point in watching right? Please try it out too.”

“Huh?”

The sudden suggestion stunned Misumi-kun and me. Surprisingly, even Kase-Senpai also expressed his interest: “That’s true.”

Tendo-san took two portable game consoles from somewhere and proffered them to Misumi-kun and me.

“We have the portable version of that game series, just one game cartridge would allow multiple players to play against each other.”

“I-I see…”

I turned on the portable game console and adjusted the settings nervously. However, Misumi-kun beside me wasn’t familiar with it and took some time to do so. I told him ‘Lend me that for a moment’ and helped him finish the settings.

“Thank you, Amano-kun. You are knowledgeable with games, that’s amazing.”

“Ah, not really…:

I returned the configured console back to him bashfully.

At this moment, Kase-Senpai turned his gaze to me and said: “The guy over there seemed to have somewhat dabbled in this.”

I straightened my back nervously and answered: “Yes!”

“Well, I play… played this game franchise a little…”

“Oh, then show me what you got.”

Senpai’s glasses lighted up. I stammered: “P-P-Please show mercy…” Then look down at the screen of my console.

The rules of the game was a little special. There were four players, but there were also eight computer controlled bots, simulating a twelve player game. Kase-Senpai also quietly raised the difficulty of the bots to the highest. The serious atmosphere was making me pale, but Misumi-kun didn’t seem to notice. Tendo was even giggling mischievously.

With all sorts of emotions brewing underneath, the first ten minute round began.

And the result was──

“... Kase-Senpai, please be more considerate of them.”

The match ended in no time, and Tendo-san lift her head from the screen dumbfounded… As expected, Misumi-kun and I died numerous times terribly. Our ranking from the top was Kase-Senpai, Tendo-san, me and then Misumi-kun. But the gap between Tendo-san and I was ridiculous, and I was about even with Misumi-kun. Misumi-kun was falling into depression beside me.

To ease the mood, I said hurriedly:

“B-But Kase-Senpai is really good! The bots are strong, but you can wipe them out as if they were trash! A-Also, playing this game with four players is really interesting──”

“Another round.”

“Hmm?”

Kase-Senpai cut me off. He didn’t look away from the screen and continued:

“Another round. Get ready.”

“Huh? Ah, o-okay…”

I looked at my console screen quickly. As it was still loading, I looked around me with a smile… However, Tendo-san and Misumi-kun were both staring seriously at their screens too.

Feeling ashamed, I also looked down on mine.

And so, round two started.

And the results──

“That… That’s strange?”

As for the rankings, Kase-Sempai and Tendo-san still won convincingly… But I lost to Misumi-kun a little… That’s strange?

I raised my face from the screen and smiled at Misumi-kun.

“Y-You are amazing! Did you played this before?”

Misumi-kun raised his head from his screen after hearing my question:

“Huh? No, I really didn’t know about this before… But after playing, it feels really deep.”

“Hmm? Ah, I-I see. Yes, that’s right, it’s fun playing together with everyone──”

“Another.”

Kase-Senpai cut me off again. Since this wasn’t a FPS play trial, but to see the environment of the Gamers Club as a whole, I felt it was time to do something else and looked around… But Tendo-san and Misumi-kun was looking at their gaming screen seriously once again.

I had no choice but to mimic them, and play the game silently.

After the third match was over, the result was…

“... Hmm…”

Kase-Senpai was still first… But Misumi-kun’s score was really close to Tendo-san who was in second. At this point, Kase-Senpai finally lifted his head and smiled coldly for the first time at Misumi-kun.

“You got some skills. What’s your name?”

“Ah, I’m Misumi.”
“Misumi, you have potential. Although your controls were stiff in the beginning… you gradually learn techniques and is getting better the more you play.”

Misumi-kun scratch his head shyly because of Kase-Senpai’s compliments.

“No, I’m just lucky. I was just referencing Senpai’s movements…”

“That’s it.”

It was rare hearing Kase-Senpai sounding a little passionate.

“The effort in stealing techniques from others, your attitude and observation skills, these are qualities in order to improve in games. And Misumi’s quality in these are high in standard.”

“Eh, not really…”

Misumi humbly scratched his head, but Tendo-san also praised him.

“No, you are really amazing, Misumi-kun! I played this game for quite a while, and you have almost caught up to me! Misumi-kun, you are very talented. Ah, maybe that puzzle game helped nurture your concentration and thinking skills?”

They surrounded Misumi-kun and discussed excitedly. Looking at this scene… Well, I felt somewhat vexed and envious after losing, but I still thought naively that Misumi-kun was really amazing as I looked at them while dazing off. In this world, there were people who possess such talents. Yes, he was really strong.

── At this moment, Kase-Senpai turned to me suddenly… and glared at me unhappily. I didn’t know what’s the matter and my shoulders trembled from fear. He then pushed his glasses and showered me with sharp criticism.

“Compared to him, what’s with you? You played this game before and remembered the basic controls… But I couldn’t see any improvement in these three matches. Not just that, your performance dropped towards the end, right?”

“Ah… Eh… Sorry…”

I didn’t expect to be lectured and just answered stiffly. But that seemed to enrage Kase-Senpai even more, he even ignored Tendo-san who tried to soothe him by saying “It’s fine, that should be enough’, and continued lecturing me.

“Also, you climbed on top of the vehicles in the center of the map and jumped around that one time. Why did you do that?”
“Hmm? Senpai is saying…”

I searched my memory to see if I did that… Ah~~ I did.

“Ah, because if I climb higher from there, I think I can catch an amazing view, so I tried jumping… And the scenery was awesome!... Well, I was shot immediately after that.”

After hearing my answer, not just Kase-Senpai, even Tendo-san sighed softly. When Misumi-kun also smiled awkwardly, I tilted my head, not really sure why I was lectured.

“Well… Ah, sorry, I didn’t play that seriously. Well, it is fun playing with everyone──”

“Never mind that. Or rather, you saw how I play right? Didn’t you think about learning from that? Just what are you thinking about when you watched me?”

To me, these were still baffling questions. Not knowing what kind of mine I tripped off, I answered timidly:

“Huh? Well… What I have in mind… That… I felt impressed thinking ‘great skills’ and ‘amazing’, and was having a blast watching… But… Ah, I like to watch clips of highly skilled players──”

“... Hmmp.”

Kase-Senpai smirked while I was still talking, then turned his eyes away from me as if he had lost interest.

With the awkward atmosphere in the room… Tendo-san wanted to restart the session and said loudly:

“O-Okay!”

“The Gamers Club doesn’t just play FPS! Next… that’s right, let’s play an action game, action game! Okay, Nina-Senpai, it’s your turn!”

“Hmmm? Ah… Wait a moment…”

Oiso-Senpai who was called took off her headphones and hung it on her neck as she swiftly finish off her opponent. After ending the game, Senpai grunted and used her gaze to urge Kase-Senpai to switch places with her. She probably wanted to play on the main monitor together with us.
After changing seats, Kase-Senpai continued playing FPS alone. Tendo-san then went to the top seat area to choose a game.
“Well~~ … Right… Fighting games require skill… That would be a little…”

Was she referring to me when she said ‘that would be a little’...? My mood sunk a little.

Misumi agreed, probably out of goodwill: “I think something relaxing would be great.” Ah… Misumi-kun was a nice guy and talented in gaming. How respectable.

Tendo-san deliberated a while, chose a game and then said: “Ah, this one is good.” before putting the disk into the game console. She handed the wireless controller to Oiso-Senpai, me and Misumi-kun, then returned to her seat with a controller in hand.

After starting the game, the title screen appeared on the screen.

“Ah, I played this before. It’s interesting, everyone had a riot playing it.”

Misumi-kun smiled. It was true, this was a really famous battle action game. It was fundamentally a fighting game, but it allowed four players to compete at the same time, and contain a variety of stage gimmicks, and you can turn things around by pure luck in getting powerful items. It was the type of game where the skills of the players won’t matter too much. Speaking of which, I like this game too, and would play with my brother at home occasionally.

“Ehh~~ … Alright, it’s fine playing this once in awhile.”

Oiso-Senpai was the only one who seemed a little reluctant, but she wasn’t very against it.

And so, we started playing with a relaxed mood.
It was true that the first match started in a peaceful atmosphere. The difference in player skills were probably too wide, even though luck play an important part, Oiso-Senpai still took the lead. The twist and turn in the match really suited the style of the game, and it felt really interesting.

However, something was strange during the character selection screen of the second match.

“Huh? Everyone… is not changing your character?”
One of the selling point of this game was the large ensemble of playable characters. When I play with my brother, we would switch characters after every match naturally, and would even let the computer pick one at random. But… Aside from me, the three other people didn’t switch characters.

As I was sitting there dazed, Tendo-san replied with a wry smile:

“Ah, because that’s the character I specialized in.”

“Oh… I see.”

Well, it was normal to have a character you specialized in for fighting games… Eh~~...? I still had doubts and looked towards Misumi-kun, who smiled shyly:

“Ah, I’m a beginner, so I want to familiarize myself with each character.”

“Oh… I-I see.”

I could understand his reasoning. Yes, very traditional. However…

I looked at Oiso-Senpai, who said lazily:

“Because I am the weakest in this character.”

“Hmm? You mean… Ah, you are giving us a handicap…”

“Maybe a little. But I’m doing it mostly to get better at this character, so don’t mind me.”
“Hmm… Ah, okay… I understand…”

Yup, I was grateful for Senpai’s good will. On top of that, she still want to train in such a situation, she was really a model gamer… Yes…

Despite the knot I felt in my heart, I still finished the second and third match. Oiso-Senpai secured first place convincingly, the other places weren’t fixed because of the element of luck, and the results were basically a tie. However…

“Wah! ...Ugh, that’s sly, Misumi-kun! Tendo-san is fast! And Oiso-Senpai is really skilled!”

"......"

I was the only one who would make such exaggerated reactions, the other players just focus on the screen… Everyone were smiling, and no one was unhappy…

After four or five consecutive rounds, everyone still didn’t change characters, only I was choosing a different character every time.

That was probably why I would be at a disadvantage when the match start, as I wasn’t familiar with the control.

Oiso-Senpai glanced at me and said:
“... Eh, how about concentrating on one character? The one at that corner is strong and easy to use.”

“Hmm? Ah, alright. Thank you Sempai. I will use it this time!”
I replied with a smile to Senpai’s recommendation. But she seemed troubled for some reason.

“... This time?”

“Huh? Ah, sorry, well, I want to try the other characters too…”
“... Alright.”

Oiso-Senpai who seemed to have lost interest in me turned back to the screen… Eh, was I too rude to Senpai just now? Should I keep using the character she recommended? However…

I played a few more match with the knot in my heart. The matches were short, so the pace was fast. However…

Everyone… kept using the same character...

To be frank, the matches were turning dull.

Also… I am the only one making an effort to get the items?

When I realized it, everyone including Misumi-kun was fighting a melee battle seriously, I was the only one wandering the field for items. Even if I obtain a powerful item, I would feel bad about it when the three of them were fighting so seriously.

In the end, my ranking in the matches were average, with mediocre performance, with results right in the middle.

We had ten such matches. Tendo-san then looked at the clock and made an ‘Uwah’ sound before stopping the game.

“We played a bit too long. Alright, it’s finished! Good work everyone~~”

When we heard what she said, we responded with: “Thank you for your hard work~~” Unlike the FPS game, the ending was harmonious… However, for some reason, the knot I felt in my heart… No… It’s probably because my feelings were too plain… Yup.

And so, Oiso-Senpai played another fighting game on the main screen while Tendo-san chatted with us idly, which probably serve as a means to rest our eyes.

“That’s right, was there any reason why the two of you came into contact with video games?”
When we were asked this, Misumi-kun and I looked at each other. We both wanted to let the other party go first, but Tendo-san probably couldn’t stand it and said:

“For me, I had an Onee-san who loves video games who lived near my place, I was probably influenced by her. When I was young, I was pretty bothered by my hair colour, and spent most of my time playing at home. Back then, that Onee-san would accompany me gently.”

“Oh, I see.”

As we listened to this heartwarming story, Tendo-san’s face suddenly turned gloomy and she said:

“But that person’s gaming skill was ridiculously good, and she refused to give me any handicap. When I realized it… I had become a kid who was as strong as a demon in all sorts of games…”

“I-Is that so…”

To think the topic changed in such a way which made it hard to comment on.

“After she moved away, I spent less time playing games, and my skill had fallen from my peak a little… But even so, I still retain my passion for video games. That’s why, my wish right now is to have a match with the Gamers Club from the high school that Onee-san went to… Hekiyou Academy, and defeat them.”

“Y-Your gaming background is really dramatic…”

As I was feeling shocked by Tendo-san’s back story, she made an “Ara” sound, as if she was being teased.

“My story is the plainest. For example… Kase-Senpai over there had been trained by his legendary mercenary father since birth, which laid the foundation for his demon like skills.”

“Huhh!”

Misumi-kun and I were both shocked, but Kase-Senpai just pushed his glassed in response… He didn’t retort, which meant… It was true!

“Also, Nina-Senpai set a very high target for herself in order to get her good friend who was completely engrossed in fighting games out of the dark side.”

“Are you serious!?”
Misumi-kun and I were both stunned, and the subject Oiso-Senpai herself said: “Yes, it’s completely true~~” Her casual tone made me feel weak… Which seemed more convincing that way…

Tendo-san continued:

“By the way, for the two absent members, one claimed: ‘I am a princess from an RPG like world, so I should play RPG and receive the blessings of RPG’, a girl with unfathomable thoughts: The other had her family heirloom stolen, and entered the video game world to follow the lead that the culprit is a ‘professional video gamer’. A girl with a heavy duty on her shoulders…”

“What kind of Gamers Club is this!?”

When I heard that, our plain experience was not even worth a mention.

However, Tendo-san was urging with a smiling face, so we couldn’t run away.

Even my gaze lost to Misumi-kun, so I had to talk about my own experience.

“Well… I don’t have any reasons… I just… Like playing video games…”

That completely spoiled the mood, and it lingered in the air. Even though I thought that I screwed up… But my love for games was real, so I added:

“Eh… Liking something without any special reason… Is that no good?”

“No… Not at all… Yes, I remember that Onee-san said that──"

Tendo-san looked into the air nostalgically. And so, seeing the chance to end my round, I elbowed Misumi-kun lightly, urging him to introduce his experience. Misumi started solemnly:

“My situation is very common…”

Misumi had no choice but to say it. Alright, there would be another story on the same level of my──

“I have amnesia, and the only thing I am good at is that puzzle game…”

“Traitor──────!"

I yelled. After showing a surprised face, he started telling us the details.

“I don’t have any memory of the past three years. When I realized it, I was already playing that puzzle game. After a series of events, I was adopted into the Misumi family, and live together with my foster parents and little sister. At the same time, I am still focusing on playing that puzzle game.”

"......"

The amazingly strong story made us speechless. Misumi-kun smiled shyly, and passed the baton back to Tendo-san… But Tendo-san was troubled to take over at such a moment.

She was lost for a moment, and then cleared her throat… She skipped the topic to conclude today’s visit.

“A-Alright, so you get the gist of what the Gamers Club’s activities are?”

“Yes.”

Misumi-kun and I answered in unison. Tendo-san nodded satisfactorily and carried on:

“Ah, also, our upperclassmen are completely not suitable for leading club activities, they are the type of no-lifers whose social skills missed the mark. But you can hold some expectations for the other members.”

"Hey~~"

The two upperclassmen who kept their eyes glued to the screen protested. Misumi-kun and I couldn’t help laughing, and the gentle faces of the Senpai-tachi filled the room with a peaceful air… As expected of the school idol Tendo Karen, her choice of words was excellent. She continued with a heartwarming smile on her face:

“There are no hard and fast rule that you have to improve your gaming skills. In fact, I am not that skilled too. The other two members are first years with lots of space to grow, and they are both cute girls. But they are really gutsy.”

I reacted immediately to these information. The Gamers Club where all the members including Tendo-san were cute… Was this some sort of VIP area? A new type of Dream C Club?

As I indulge in my delusion, Tendo-san continued:
“But since we are playing, sparring with each other to raise our skills should be the direction the Gamers Club should take as a group. Well then, that’s what I think about when leading the club activities…”

Tendo-san ended the topic, and showed a dazzling smile.

“It would be wonderful if the two of you could join us.”

I already had the intention of answering “Yes” and entering the club. And Misumi answered easily: “Okay, I had fun playing today, please let me join.”

… Was this the ability of popular main characters? So decisive and straightforward.

Tendo-san was elated over his reply, and faced me with that smile too.

“What about you, Amano-kun? Will you participate in the Gamers Club activities with me?”

The power of Tendo’s upward looking gaze was showing its effect… My mental endurance was at its limits. My face was completely red, and it was a miracle that my nose wasn’t bleeding.

I looked to the side sharply, and saw Misumi-kun looking at me with a smile full of anticipation. Not just that, even the picky Kase-Senpai and Oiso-Senpai was looking at me with gentle eyes, as if they were saying: “It’s a good chance, so just join us.”

I thought they were scary at the beginning, but the Senpai-tachi were actually good people, they were willing to accept a hopeless player like me… I was very grateful.

I looked around the Gamers Club once again.

The games I loved the most filled this ideal space.

A school idol I admired was inviting me.

There was a cheerful youth my age who I rather like, and feel that we would become fast friends in no time.

There were Senpai-tachi worthy of respects, and two female junior members I had not met.

The normie life that I always dreamed about was all right here.

If I say ‘yes’ right now, I would be able to grasp all these in my hands.

… It was like a dream.
Running into such a situation was like a once in a lifetime surprise the gods bestowed to a background character like me.

That was why, I…

Facing her… After interacting with her directly, I started to fall for her for real, and it wouldn’t be too much for me to say shamelessly that the blonde beauty was my first crush.

I smiled from the bottom of my heart.

With a determined heart.

I told her the answer I had.

“No, it’s fine. Because there isn’t any ‘game’ I want to play in this club.”




"I am really an idiot ahhhhhhh!"

The next morning after visiting the club. I sprawled over my table right after reaching school. Ignoring the curious eyes of my classmates, I grabbed my head in deep regret.

Why! Why did I reject her!? Am I retarded? Do I want to die? Was I so vexed after losing to Misumi-kun in a game? Or angry because of Kase-senpai’s accusation!? Depressed because Oiso-senpai is disinterested in me!? Huh, did I reject such a dream like invitation for my cheap pride!? I should just die! The me from yesterday should just die! What is this!? Pretending to be retarded? That’s right, I was just pretending to be retarded!

I didn’t sleep well last night as I repeated my self loath for god knows how many times.

The truth was, I still didn’t completely understand how I felt back then.

I didn’t take out the textbook and notebook, and just kept struggling on the table.

I remembered that I answered that with some weird belief, but I couldn’t remember what the content of that crucial belief is! Or the concept couldn’t be expressed in words! No no no, how could I reject with such a reason!? Idiot! What am I doing!? Am I pretending to be the hero who rejected the invitation of the dragon king in Dragon Quest!? My sensitivity is too game like! Like some sort of late stage disease! Sigh, enough already...

No, I wasn’t able to stop cursing myself. This might lead to me hurting myself. I had to calm down first. Right, I should play games at a time like this…

After gathering my thoughts, I took out my phone under the watchful gaze of my classmates, and started playing my usual social network game.

When I was about to clear one mission, I had calmed down a little.

I need to be calm… Wait, there is still hope right? It will be fine, I can just apply to enter the Gamers Club again. Even though that’s really shameful… But even so, there is still a way to salvage this. I just need to say that I wasn’t emotionally ready yesterday, and everything will be fine right? Yup.

I then relaxed. Eh, to be frank… There should be a limit to how low one could go. But this was a crucial moment that would decide if I could live like a normie, not the time to be concerned about these.

I cleared another mission while I was contemplating.

An even better situation would be… for the other party to invite me again, yup. That’s right, maybe Misumi-kun will come invite me! Yes!

Even though I knew I was deluding in a way that was convenient for me, I couldn’t keep it together if I don’t do that.

I continued fiddling with my phone as I deluded further. At this moment──

Ah, MONO sent another help request. I didn’t aid him yesterday, and the event period is almost over, I have to help him──

I was about to to hit the ‘accept help request’ button when at that instant…

As the class was getting rowdy, I looked at the classroom entrance… And found Tendo-san’s usual smiling and graceful figure.

I gulped. Tendo-san entered the classroom unfazed like yesterday, and walked towards my seat. The gazes of my classmates followed her closely.

As I held my phone motionlessly, Tendo-san came to my desk, and said almost the same words as yesterday.

“Good morning, Amano-kun. Are you busy with something?”

“Huh? Eh~~... I am just playing games on my phone…”

“Oh── you really like such boring things.”

“Erm… Ah, t-that’s right…”

I forcefully averted my gaze, but my personality of being intrigued on the topic of games made me blabber.

“Ah, this game’s design isn’t bad. Tendo-san, I think you will find it interesting if you play it──"

“Let’s not talk about that.”

Tendo-san ignored the screen on my phone that I was showing her, and leaned in… So close! Her face was closer than yesterday, so close that everyone in class became noisy at that instant.

Tendo-san’s long lashes, high nasal bridge, soft lips and delicate skin. And also… her big clear eyes. These all entered my vision in a close up shot, making my pulse race.

She showed a smile as charming as an angel, then told me with a gentle and well meaning tone:

“Amano-kun, join our club alright? Please, I am very interested in you.”
“Huh…”

Her invitation… surpassed all the ‘return to the Gamers Club delusion’ I made up in my mind. It was too ideal, and even had the ‘very interested’ speech by Tendo-san in it. In fact, my classmates also heard that, and the commotion was louder than ever. And it wasn’t just occasional subdued outburst, but close to screams. This might be a rare chance for me to elevate my status in class.

With all the conditions laid out, what was there to hesitate about?

Tendo-san moved her face away a little and extended her right hand, as if she was asking me to shake hands.

… Oh no, I was on the verge of tears.

In my eyes, Tendo-san was like Buddha who was lowering the spider web to save Kandata. It’s true, I could see the halo behind her. What a merciful person. She offered me another chance… To a foolish background character like me.
<TL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spider%27s_Thread>

I switched the phone to my left hand, and then slowly extended my right towards her… I didn’t reached out quickly simply because I was shy, and a corner of my heart was still lingering over what the ‘belief’ in my heart yesterday was.

However… Since I couldn’t recall it, it was probably not important.

Despite hesitating for a moment, I steeled my heart and reach for her hand──

‘MONO’s help request: five seconds remaining.’

── I didn’t take her hand, but pressed the ‘accept help request’ button on my phone instead… Phew, that was close. It was fine now. It would be fine to press pause on the battle for now──

"......"

"...... Ah."

When I came to my senses, I had already did something unbelievably rude… Even Tendo-san who was extending her hand was smiling stiffly. Under the gaze of the classmates who didn’t know what was happening, Tendo-san forced a smile and asked:

“A… Amano-kun? Could it be… That boring social network game is more important than my invitation?”

“Huh? Ah, no, sorry! I am very sorry, we were in the middle of a conversation! That was really rude of me! I am really sorry! I apologize for that! Like this!”

I lowered my head in apology hurriedly… but, how should I say this?

Unfortunately, I remembered my feelings yesterday because of our conversation just now.

… Sigh… No other way about this. Yes, I remembered, it couldn’t be helped.

I lift my head and showed a broad smile… This time, I didn’t stammer when I talked to Tendo-san.

“However, Tendo-san… Even though they are boring to you, they are meaningful to me.”

"!"

“So, I will apologize to you about the Gamers Club. I still won’t be joining the Gamers Club.”

“! But… But… Why?”

Tendou-san’s smile became stiffer. Even though it breaks my heart… I still can’t give in on this, and replied with a smile.

“Like I said yesterday, there isn’t any ‘game’ I want to play there.”

“So I’m asking you──!"

Tendo-san raised her voice, then cautiously lowered it again.

"── That’s why I am asking you, what does that mean?"

“It means… Sorry, even though you are asking, I am not too sure myself.”

“... Are you worried about your gaming skills? Don’t worry, Kase-senpai might look that way, but he is unexpectedly caring──"

“Ah, No, no! Not that… Eh~~ Well, to be honest, it is true my confidence in my gaming skills got shattered. But… That’s not the reason.”

“If not… Then what is the issue…”

Tendo-san’s face was like that of a lost sheep… I never thought that I would ever see the confident her show such an expression… Ah, was it because of the haphazard way of expressing my opinion?

Although I was smiling awkwardly, I was still in thought for a while, and tried to answer by expressing what I could right now.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong with the Gamers Club. Or rather, I think everyone in it is very respectable. All of them are shining so brilliantly. From the bottom of my heart, I feel that the Gamers Club was like the Baseball Club, Soccer Club and the other sports club, worthy of the status of ‘proper club activities’.”

“That’s right. Everyone training hard together to aim for a higher goal. That is the right way to approach gaming right?”

“Yes, that’s true. Improving oneself through hard work will let you experience the true joy in gaming… I think, you can achieve that result in your Gamers Club.”

“S-Since you understand, then let’s join the Gamers Club together…”

Tendo-san looked at me as if she was looking for support… But why did she want to invite me so badly? Someone like me wasn’t valuable at all.

And so, even though her sincere invitation made my heart ache… Even so, for the ideal I refused to give in… I showed her the screen on my phone, and expressed my feelings completely honestly.

“But I am sorry. I still prefer to play games happily… It seems impossible to do that in the Gamers Club where we spar and train with each other.”

“! I really… don’t understand… Didn’t you just say that training is the right way…”

“Ah, yes, that’s why I wholly acknowledge that way of enjoying the game.”

“... Then…”

Tendo-san reacted as if she completely didn’t understand. I grabbed my shoulders and groaned as I sought out a way to express myself in an easier to understand way.

“Eh, that… Right, I have a very cool and excellent little brother.”

"…… What?"

Tendo-san turned stiff. To be frank, her eyes started to show the emotions of being dumbfounded. But even so… I still struggled to convey my messy thoughts to her.

“Actually, I don’t have much interest in common with my brother, and didn’t talk much. Think about it, I am so incompetent, and couldn’t do something that showed the dignity of a big brother… H-However, you might laugh at this, when the two of us play video games together, we could laugh like idiots happily… Even if we encounter anything unhappy in school… That doesn’t change.”

"......"

“And so, Tendo-san, video games to me… Well… I know that my attitude towards gaming would be lectured by you, Kase-senpai or Oiso-senpai, and is not anything worth complimenting… However, I still treat it as my safe harbour, something I can find comfort in, a medium for a bum like me to use to interact with others… That’s why I hope to keep video games as something that would give salvation to my soul… keeping the most important ‘entertainment’ effect of it.”

"......"

“Ah~~... T-Think about it, just like a player whose goal is to make it into Kōshien or turn pro, and another who just wanted to vent their stress in the baseball batting cage… like the difference between them?

"......"

Oh no. Was my language skill too lousy?

I cleared my throat to redo it, deciding to tell her the conclusion.

“Well, anyway, what I wanted to say is, I’m sorry, Tendo-san. The Gamers Club is wonderful… But I won’t be joining. Because I want to play video games in my own way in the future too. Ah, but I am very very happy that you invited me! Thank you!”

I expressed my gratitude with a smile, but Tendo-san’s reaction… For some reason, she was looking down and trembling… She seem to be muttering something.

“~~! ~~Ugh~~! Why… Why does it feel like I am being dumped…! I never… thought that… I would be rejected by someone like… Amano-kun…! For that to actually happen…”

“T-Tendo-san? S-Sorry, someone like me rejecting your invitation…”

The moment I spoke, Tendo-san lifted her head as if she came to her senses. For some reason, her face was red.

“I-I’m not being tsundere…! T-That’s right, s-since you prefer that, I-I don’t… mind at all. And also… someone like you… I won’t… A-Anyway, your skills are bad, playing games with you is… is not interesting…”

With her arms crossed, Tendo-san averted her eyes as she complained to me quietly.

In response── I showed the smallfolk smile I was good at and agreed with her.

“Ah, that’s true. Well… But I think you have a talent for video games! So please continue working hard on the club! I will support you all from behind! Ah, Misumi-kun joined the club, with such a promising member like him, the club will be fine even without me!”

“...Ugh! Yes, you are right!”

The next instant, Tendo-san suddenly slammed on my table with a ‘bang!’ Her face was completely red as she glared at me grudgingly with tears in her eyes… T-That’s strange?



She then turned, flicked her long blonde hair to the side… Then left in crude steps, completely unlike how she came into our classroom.

“......”

Tendo-san left the classroom and left everyone dumbfounded. After a few seconds, there was a commotion in class as all my classmate seemed to snap out of it.

“Huh? What happened? This is the first time I see Tendo-san making such a vexed face…”

“Yeah, that was definitely emotional conflict!”

“No, they were talking about club activities or something… Anyway, why don’t someone ask Amano.”

“I-It’s hard to ask the subject directly right now. And he seemed so mysterious recently…”

“Amano had a strange aura about him these few days.”

I seemed to have become the subject of their discussion… Since I could hear all that, did that mean everyone didn’t care whether I heard them or not…?

I sighed deeply and looked out the window. The branches of the birch tree swayed wildly with the wind.

… Sigh… Not only did I reject joining the Gamers Club… I even made Tendo-san so mad… Just what am I doing...


The route to a wonderful high school life crumbled. In such a situation, I would have no one to blame if Tendo-san’s fans find trouble with me. Why did things turn out like this?

… Looks like… I made the wrong choice. That’s definitely it...

I also played some galgames, but why didn’t I gain any experience points from that? Well, that’s how playing games were, it was useless even if you play a lot. But that was why…

After sulking for a while, I decided to use the time before the bell for class ring to complete MONO’s help request mission.

I worked hard to defeat the unexpectedly tough enemy, reaped the miniscule rewards and then switch off the screen for a while to rest… Sigh.

Now that I think about it… I prioritized this reward over Tendo-san, right?

……

Oh no, I am getting depressed. Now I get it. After an hour, I will definitely return to how I was before. I would keep thinking about joining the Gamers Club, and regret tremendously──

“Boo boo!”

“?”

── As I was thinking about that, my phone suddenly vibrated.

I thought it should be the notification of an app update and unlocked the screen. But it was displaying something I didn’t expect… A message from the Social Network Game.

Huh, it is ‘a message from MONO…’ … Huh?

It came too suddenly, and made me open the message from the menu in a hurry.

In there ── was just a simple line.

‘Thank you for helping me often.’

“......”

I read those words four times… Then looked out the window.

Unfortunately, the weather was a bit gloomy. It wasn’t going to rain, but there wasn’t any sign of the sky clearing, a strange weather… But this was actually the most comfortable weather.

… A plain half hearted everyday life without any pretty girls… Isn’t too bad either.

I started playing with my phone again with an awkward smile.


Today, I spent a lazy day with my gaming buddy like usual.


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That ends the teaser. By the way, there's a Manga too.

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