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----4/9 SATURDAY, AFTERNOON, SHUJIN ACADEMY

 

Shujin Academy was hailed all over Tokyo as one of the best schools to attend. Any who graduate from here was almost guaranteed an accepted college application. The teachers were highly acclaimed, and even an accomplished olympic medalist as the gym teacher, heading the national winning volleyball team. Or so they all say.

It's April 9th, the first week of school in the new year. Kimisawa Airi was beginning to doubt this school was as dignified as they claimed.

Looking at the bruises and defeated demeanor of Mishima Yuuki from her seat, her wine colored eyes narrowed in suspicion and worry. Who gave him those bruises? Why did everyone on the volleyball team dread practice? Why did they have practice everyday? All these questions swam in Airi's mind, distracting her from class. It's a good thing Kawakami-sensei doesn't really seem to care.

'I don't remember the lesson, but it's alright,' she grimaced, 'it's only the first week. More importantly, why hasn't any teacher done anything?'

The bell rung, signalling the end of classes for the day.

Airi decided to confront her classmate, and walked over to Mishima's desk where he was slowly packing his books away.

"Mishima-kun?" Airi smiled gently. Mishima's head shot up, a startled expression on his face. The smile on Airi's face dimmed slightly at the glint of fear in his brown eyes.

"A-Ah yes, Kimisawa-senpai?" Mishima stammered quietly.

She tucked a strand of rose colored hair behind her ear. "May I ask how your day was? You seemed rather depressed during the last class." Airi asked.

Mishima blinked. "Um, it was all right. I was just um, thinking...of future exams..?" His voice trailed off as if he wasn't sure himself.

Airi tilted her head slightly, her braid falling over her shoulder. "Those are rather far off, I don't think you need to worry about them now. Is something else bothering you?" She pressed further. His breath hitched at the question, the fear in his eyes that dimmed at the start of the conversation coming back in full force. Airi's brow furrowed in worry.

'Could this be more serious than it seems?' She thought, concerned. 'He's hiding something, something big.'

Mishima snapped up from his seat, his body rigid. His blue hair shadowed his eyes. "No, nothing's wrong!" He bit his lip. "Please excuse me, practice will start soon and I can't afford to be late again, he might..." He stopped. "Ah n-nevermind, see you tomorrow, senpai!" With that, he rushed out of the room.

Airi was glued to her spot, still standing where Mishima left her. 'What could make him so afraid?' She asked herself, troubled at his reactions. 'And "he"? Did he mean Kamoshida-sensei? He is pretty enthused about volleyball, scheduling practice every day...' She clenched her hands, and with a look of worry on her face, grabbed her bag and went down the same way that Mishima left.

The closer she got to the gym, the more Airi was starting to think her suspicions were correct. No other teacher or staff member was present near the gym, and thinking back on last year, they weren't here then either. They swarmed the other buildings though, practically at every corner. She gripped her bag, and quietly made her way to the side entrance.

Luckily, the door was unlocked. Already the sounds of practice could be heard, the squeaking of sneakers and volleyballs hitting the lacquered floor. From what she knew, the volleyball team had mandatory practices every day, even during breaks.

Airi slowly and quietly inched the door open. The bright lights inside the gymnasium blinded her for a moment. When her vision returned, she froze. Her blood ran cold.

Some members were diligently hitting volleyballs at the wall, constantly smacking as hard as they could. It would have been perfectly innocuous if not for the bags under their eyes and the bruises around their wrists and knees. Others were standing with their back against their teammates, who threw volleyballs at them with all of their strength.

Airi trembled, in fear or anger, she couldn't tell. Why was this happening? She looked around a little further and gasped. There was Kamoshida-sensei near the back of the courts, and in front of him was a shivering Mishima, head down. She couldn't hear anything due to the distance, but her eyes hadn’t deceived her. Mishima had gotten a new bruise on his face since she last saw him a half hour ago. Kamoshida-sen-. No. Kamoshida stood there with his hands on his hips, looking down at the bluenet with a sneer on his face, clearly berating him.

Airi clenched her fists, her eyes narrowed with fury. 'How dare he! I can't believe how he's gotten away with this for so long!' She seethed in her mind. She dug into her bag, looking for her phone. She needed to photograph evidence to show to Principal Kobayakawa about Kamoshida. She groaned silently when she grasped nothing.

'I probably left it in my desk.' She thought sullenly. 'I should at least go tell the principal. He needs to know.'

With one last decisive look, she slowly closed the door and power walked across the courtyard. Arriving at the principal's door within a couple of minutes, she took a deep breath to calm her racing heart and knocked. "Yes, who is it?" She heard.

Airi slid the door open, crossed into the room, and closed it behind her. She walked up to the desk and bowed. "Principal Kobayakawa, I am Kimisawa Airi from class 2-D. I would like to speak to you about something." She expressed.

The principal, a rather grotesquely rotund man in a mustard yellow suit that barely buttoned, looked up from his paper work and gleamed a blinding smile.
"Ah!" He exclaimed, "If it isn't one of the top students in the school! I saw your end of the year report earlier, and I must say, you definitely have what it takes to get into the best Universities!" He laughed jovially.

Airi straightened from her bow and blinked. "Ah um. Yes thank you, Principal," She stammered. It was rather embarrassing to be praised like that.

He shuffled his papers. "Now what is it that you want to speak to me about? Is it about a future letter of recommendation? I can certainly arrange for one next year, as long as your grades continue to be so wonderful!" Kobayakawa grinned. Airi shuffled her feet, a bit nervous. "No sir, though I thank you for thinking so." She answered. "It's about Kamoshida-sensei."

Principal Kobayakawa's smile dims. "Oh? Did you want his autograph?" He joked. "I 'm sorry but you'll have to gather the courage to ask him yourself for one!" He laughs obnoxiously.

"No, sir." She said firmly. "This may sound ridiculous, but... I think Kamoshida-sensei is abusing the volleyball team."

His smile disappeared instantly. "Now why would you say that? Those are rather serious accusations there, Kimisawa-san." He frowned, a little angered. "Kamoshida-sensei is an esteemed teacher, the best in his academy! I'm sure whatever you may think of him, it is unfounded." He waved her away. "I don't want to hear any more of this. Now please, school has ended for the day and I'm sure you have better things to do than to bother me with your nonsense!" He voiced his displeasure.

Airi stood there in shock. How could her principal say such things? She bit her lip and hurriedly walked out of the room, heading down the hall.

'He didn't even listen to me!' She sulked. 'I have evidence!'

Arriving at her class, she walked in and grabbed her phone. Passing by all the other students, she started walking out of the building, her face blank. She can't let anyone else know that there was a problem.

Walking a block away and into the empty vending machine alcove, she leaned on a wall and sighed in frustration. What could she do? She didn't want to see anyone hurt. 'Poor Mishima-kun.' She thought sullenly, 'He's enduring all of this. Don't their parents notice?'

She stilled.

'Or they do notice...and aren't doing anything...' She covered her mouth in horror. What was wrong with these adults?! The hand that wasn't covering her mouth gripped her phone tightly. 'I have to do something...I need to protect them.' Airi thought resolutely. ‘They don’t deserve this inhumane treatment. No one does!’

-Beep!-

Startled at the noise, Airi looked down at her phone where the sound emanated from. On the screen was a bright red logo of an eyeball. She raised a brow, observing it.

Kind of creepy.

She hesitantly tapped it, and a search box appeared.

"Please enter a name, a location, and a keyword." The app stated.

Airi tilted her head in confusion. 'What is all this? Where did it come from?' She wondered. 'I know I never downloaded an app like this.' She tapped on the map function a couple of times curiously, and the app updated.

"There is a hit." The voice said.