----4/9 SATURDAY, AFTERNOON, SHUJIN ACADEMY
Shujin Academy was hailed all over Tokyo as one of the best high schools to attend. Any who graduated from here was guaranteed an accepted college application. The teachers were highly acclaimed, and even an accomplished olympic medalist was hired as the gym teacher, heading the national winning volleyball team. Everything seemed perfect.
It's April 9th, the first week of school.
Kimisawa Airi was beginning to doubt this school was as dignified as it claimed.
Looking at the bruises and defeated demeanor of Mishima Yuuki from her seat, her wine colored eyes narrowed with suspicion and worry. Who gave him those bruises? Why did they have practice everyday? Why did everyone on the volleyball team seem to dread practice?
All these questions swam in her mind, distracting her from the lesson. It was a good thing Kawakami-sensei didn't really seem to care, though her occasional glances implied that she knew her student wasn't paying attention.
'I don't remember the lesson, but it's all right.' Airi grimaced, fidgeting with her mechanical pencil. '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. Most of the students as well as the teacher left the class, swarming the halls as they got ready to go home.
Deciding to confront the situation, Airi stood up from her desk, straightening out her black blazer and plaid skirt. Shouldering her bag, she walked up to her bruised classmate who didn't notice her approach, too distracted with his head bowed submissively while packing his books away.
"Mishima-kun?" She called out gently.
His head shot up, a startled expression on his face as his short blue hair ruffled from the action. The smile on her face dimmed slightly at the glint of fear in his brown eyes. 'Why is he so afraid..?'
"A-Ah yes, Kimisawa-senpai?" Mishima stammered quietly, fidgeting with his white turtleneck. "Was there something you needed..?"
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."
He 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 pretty 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 brown 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 fretted mentally. 'He's hiding something, something big.'
Mishima snapped up from his seat, his body rigid. His hair shadowed his eyes, hiding any vulnerable emotion from her. "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 himself. "Ah n-nevermind, see you tomorrow, Senpai!" With that, he rushed out of the room without glancing back.
She was glued to her spot, still standing where Mishima left her in the now empty classroom. '"He"? Did he mean Kamoshida-sensei? Is he...' She clenched her hands, and with a look of worry on her face, grabbed her bag and went down the same way.
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 once Futo-sensei was let go and replaced by Kamoshida-sensei. 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 wooden floor inside. From what she knew, the volleyball team had mandatory practices every day, even during breaks.
She slowly and quietly inched the door open. The bright lights inside the gymnasium blinded her for a moment in comparison to the orange overcast from the sunset sky.
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, the tiny inhale drowned out by the sound of pained grunts. There was Kamoshida-sensei near the back of the courts, and in front of him was a shivering Mishima, head down in submission. She couldn't hear anything due to the distance, but her eyes couldn't deceive her. Her classmate had gotten a new bruise on his face since she last saw him a half hour ago. Kamoshida-sen-
No. Her eyes hardened. Kamoshida stood there with his hands on his hips, looking down at his student with a sneer on his face, clearly berating the downtrodden teen.
She 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 dug into her bag, looking for her phone. She needed to photograph evidence to show to Principal Kobayakawa about this. There was no way she would let this go on any longer.
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. Passing by the occasional student who waved to her, she arrived at the intended office on the third floor. Straightening out her blazer and skirt, she took a deep breath and knocked, mentally scolding herself to calm down. "Yes, who is it?" She heard.
Sliding the door open, she walked into the office, and closed the door 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."
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, his bald head shining from the window behind his chair.
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?" Kobayakawa grinned. "I can certainly arrange for one next year, as long as your grades continue to be so wonderful!"
Airi shuffled her feet. "No sir, though I thank you for thinking so." She answered. "It's about Kamoshida-sensei."
His smile dimmed slightly at the mention of the gym teacher. "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!"
"No, sir." She said firmly. She had to say it. She couldn't let him get away with this. "This may sound ridiculous, but... I think Kamoshida-sensei is abusing the volleyball team."
His smile disappeared in an instant. "Now why would you say that? Those are rather serious accusations there, Kimisawa-san." He frowned. "Kamoshida-sensei is an esteemed teacher, the best in this academy! I'm sure whatever you may think of him, it is unfounded." He brusquely 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!"
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. 'If he just heard me out...!' Biting her lip, she clenched her eyes. The bruises on Mishima stood out in her mind, and a sharp tinge of guilt hit her. She couldn't even do something as little as this...
Arriving at her class, she walked in and grabbed her phone. Passing by all the other students, she started walking out of the building, face wiped of all emotion. 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. 'I'm so sorry, Mishima-kun...' She thought sullenly, 'He's enduring all of this. The entire team is. Don't their parents notice?'
'Or they do notice...and aren't doing anything...' She covered her mouth in horror. Was that really it..? They couldn't bring themselves to care for their kids, even when they were coming home with bruises and split lips every day?
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. ‘No one else is doing anything...They don’t deserve this. No one does!’
A loud beep sounded out.
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, giving it a weird look.
Kind of creepy.
She hesitantly tapped it, and a search box appeared. "Please enter a name, a location, and a keyword." The app stated in a feminine tone.
She 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, curious to what it would do. It had a map, so was it some sort of GPS?
Her thumb hit the school's location, and it updated with a ping. "There is a hit."
He grinned, inhuman teeth glinting in the harsh lamp's glow. "So she has taken the first step." He glanced toward the living doll he was currently impersonating in the sub-dimension he created, and then to the two he had separated from one, their yellow eyes staring away obediently.
He had pondered to himself whether or not to interrupt, but found himself much too curious about this specimen to interfere. How will things change, now that she begins to question? If she would even survive to meet the tricksters. The results would be very interesting, whether or not she succeeds in this trial.
"Let the games begin."
2/3/18 update with Airi's official art done by me! Redone 8/31/18. Redone AGAIN 12/22/19