Dec 10 2010

Ill’s Review Forum

Published by at 11:32 pm under Review Forums

I’m working on a superhero story about a struggle between two masterminds and their ideals: Maya, a cheerful, impulsive girl who hates all humans because of her ability to read minds, and Donovan Haw (based off of the Doings of Raffles Haw), a multi-billionaire who traveled the world in an attempt to make the world a better place.

The superhero story is for a doujin game to be sold in Japan. It’s a Visual Novel, a “choose-your-own-adventure” game with scenery and pictures of the main characters.

16 responses so far

16 Responses to “Ill’s Review Forum”

  1. B. Macon 17 Dec 2010 at 11:39 pm

    “A cheerful, impulsive girl who hates all humans…” I imagine there’d be something of a discrepancy between cheerfulness and hating all humans but I could see it working. It could be very interesting.

    So far, the premise sounds promising. Would you like to post chapter one?

    PS: What are doujin games?

  2. Illon 18 Dec 2010 at 12:30 am

    A doujin game is a game produced by a regular person or group of people, as opposed to one made by a company. A visual novel is a game that works like a book on the computer, except that you have limited control over your character’s actions. In this book, called Las Tale (Rasu Taare), you can go through various storylines, depending on your character’s actions.

    There’s the Angeline storyline, the Narie storyline, and the Maya storyline (the true ending, and the one I’ll be writing about here).

    Japan hasn’t had many superhero books, so I’m hoping it’ll do well.

    So, here’s the basic story, the ending, and the first chapter.

    LAS TALE
    ____________________________________________________________

    What is this story about?

    A war between Maya and Donovan for the Lock of Beginnings and the Ring of Las Tale. The ring, when fit into the lock, opens it and grants one wish for the wearer. However, it will disappear forever once used.

    As we know, humans don’t have an infinite amount of time. Donovan is worried that the human race as a whole cannot change for the better until it is wiped out, perhaps by a war or catastrophe.

    A quick summary of beliefs:

    Donovan wants to wish for more time for humans to build a better world. He knows that humans will kill themselves off without aid, and so he wants to eliminate that possibility. He feels that humans must ultimately create a future for themselves; a future simply given to them has no meaning, because humans would become like spoiled children. A perfect world simply given to the undeserving, he believes, will soon go bad; he claims this from his experience with helping people.

    Maya wants to destroy the world and recreate the way she wants. She believes that, in doing so, people can finally become happy – by definition, in a perfect world, people are happy. She disagrees with Donovan in that humans can create a better future for themselves, because she knows how humans think. She also views Donovan’s wish as being self-fulfilling, because, given infinite time, any world is possible. In addition, she feels that, if the end result is the same, why not create a better world immediately than later? She is sick of seeing all the suffering in the world, and is willing to go through anything to end it.

    The story focuses on the conflict between cynicism versus idealism. As the story progresses, Maya’s cynicism begins to wear off on Donovan, while Donovan’s idealism does the same to her.

    Riley is in the middle of it all. Over the story, he grows to be idealistic, yet he knows that idealism alone cannot win. Starting the story as a cynical teenager, his experiences at the Aquarius leads him to realize that cynicism is not entirely accurate either.

    What kinds of terminology should the readers know?

    Lock ability – a usually minor power innate to a person. Humans require a lock ability to gain a ring ability.
    Lock of Beginnings – a lock that grants the ability to read minds. Used with the Ring of Las Tale, it can grant one wish.
    Ring ability – a more advanced power granted by Donovan’s ring ability.
    Ring of Las Tale – a ring that grants the ability to cause one’s words to come true, and grant powers.
    Unlocking – when someone gains a ring ability, it ‘unlocks’ their lock ability to enhance their physical abilities.

    The Syndicate is Maya’s criminal organization, mostly managed by a man named Leti.
    The Aquarius is Donovan’s superhuman organization, consisting of 16 (dysfunctional) teenagers.

    Maya is the leader of the Syndicate. She is a 16-year-old girl, and has the same lock ability (empathy) as Riley.
    – She is said to be the strongest of the superhumans, and has the ring ability to stop time.
    – She is usually very carefree and chaotic, but becomes cynical and depressed when angry. She is always bored, due to always knowing what people will do next.
    – She hates humans because she knows their evil intentions all the time. Her parents died from poverty, and she wants to eradicate all evil intentions from the world so that she can live without having to listen to other humans’ evil intentions all the time.
    – She becomes attracted to Riley from the very beginning of the story, because she can’t read his mind due to having the same Lock ability as him, and is unable to hear his intentions.
    – She is, despite acting clueless, very intelligent and cynical. She wants to recreate the world through force, whether people want to change or not.

    Riley is the main character. He is a bored 16-year-old boy.
    – He has the ring ability to copy other abilities and memorize them (but with a time limit).
    – He is cynical, but is more of a deadpan snarker than a stressed teenager.
    – He is very bored, due to his ability to read minds (to a limited extent, he is able to predict others’ actions).
    – Depending on your actions, he may choose to leave the Aquarius during the story to join Maya, fall in love with Angeline, or fall in love with Narie. He may grow cynical or idealistic, depending on your actions. We’ll focus on the Maya END here.

    Nathaniel is Riley’s best friend in the Aquarius. He is a tall 17-year-old boy.
    – He has the ring ability to take on characteristics of birds, but with powerful enhancements.
    – He is very fast, and fights by growing wings on his back and claws on his hands and feet. They are sharp enough to cut into metal.

    Angeline is another one of Riley’s friends. She is a rather short, frail 16-year-old girl.
    – She has the ring ability to emit and control magnetic waves.
    – She fights by controlling four gauntlets in the air, which rush in to attack enemies as if using telekinesis.
    – She also uses a fine “iron powder”, which she moulds into different shapes, such as shields and gigantic fists.

    Donovan Haw is the leader of the Aquarius. He looks around 40, and wears a business suit and hat that covers his eyes at all times.
    – He has the lock ability to foresee one second in the future.
    – His ring ability is to speak things into existence; for example, he is able to kill anyone within several yards by saying “die”, or bring a rain of fire from the sky by saying “let there be fire”.
    – Donovan is actually one of the richest men in the world, who traveled the world in an attempt to help people with his vast wealth. What he found was that, after he helped them, many people would become dependent on his aid, instead of working to improve themselves. He also realized that, with the amount of wealth he had, he would never be able to end poverty completely; he had used a large amount of his money already, and there were still so many more people who needed comfort. Thus, he started research on superhuman powers, and created the Aquarius – a school for orphans with superhuman powers. The Aquarius exists to aid humans in creating a better future. Using the Ring of Las Tale, he can grant those with a lock ability an Aquarius.

    What happens in the story’s MAYA/TRUE END? How does it end?
    Riley is recruited into the Aquarius by Donovan, because Maya, the opposing leader, is attracted to him. He is told that he is special due to his superhuman powers.

    Through the story, Maya – the leader of the Syndicate – falls in love with him. With a magical disguise and a fake name, Maya transfers into Riley’s class in a school he was put into by the Aquarius. No one knows of this except Riley.

    A lot happens in his life as a hero, and Riley betrays the Aquarius (despite Donovan betting on him killing Maya). He symphasizes with Maya’s goals and, though Angeline and Nathaniel express their concerns, joins the Syndicate.

    Throughout the story, due to his existence and interferences, Maya decides that there is still hope for the world (mostly because she fell in love with him). On the other hand, Riley leads Donovan to believe that neither good nor evil matter to get good results. The change is gradual, yet substantial. Donovan begins to use questionable methods – the infamous Project 09 – in an attempt to counteract The Syndicate’s immense combat ability supplied by RABID. He then realizes that Maya and him are not very different.

    Maya finally decides to stop causing casualties and brings the conflict to an end (despite entering the game in the first place due to her love of conflict). She disbands the Syndicate, becomes serious, and starts her final battle against the Aquarius. In this battle, many Aquarius and Syndicate members die; Riley, after hesitantly facing off against Nathaniel and Angeline, kills them both. He enters a state of depression and does not give his third fight – that against Levan – his all. He decides that a world in which he killed his two past best friends is not a happy world, and lowers his guard a moment for Levan to kill him.

    Once again, Maya and Donovan had become too different from each other to cooperate. Donovan concedes that she was right when she had said “I won’t say that there is no good and evil, only a thousand justices… but in any case, those that get their way are always the ones with power”. She replies that she was wrong, that over time, that she had realized that, despite all of this, that love can redeem people.

    Donovan then tells her that Riley has died.

    She had originally planned to use the orb to wish for time, enough time for humanity to realize their mistakes through trial and error, like what Donovan had originally wanted. However, with Riley dead, she struggles to wish for more time. She doesn’t want to live in a world without him. She finds herself unable to put the good of the world – to wish for more time – ahead of her own desires.

    Donovan claims that she has two options: wish for more time, or wish for everyone who died in the past battles to come back to life. The first is guaranteed to turn the world into a better place (if people can indeed change for the better, it will happen without fail), while the second will struggle – they inherit a ruined, battle-scarred world without guaranteed success. There are no remaining industries, little electricity, food, and water, and it is possible that most everyone could die again.

    She then realizes that Riley wouldn’t desire coming back to life, because, knowing how he thinks, he would view himself as irredeemable. Though his friends might come back to life, he would be afraid to meet them, and would be mentally scarred (possibly until his death). He asks her again to choose between her feelings for Riley and the good of the world.

    She chooses neither, and says that she has an idea.

    She wishes for herself to go back into the past, to a time when Donovan was still idealistic. The Ring of Las Tale would be gone, so there would be no reason for her to fight them anymore. She and Donovan could cooperate to build a better world. The Syndicate, a major crime organization, could be called forth to help the process (all the Syndicate members will cooperate with Leti). Above all, she could be with Riley, one who hasn’t been transformed with grief.

    Though they might not have enough time to change humanity without the ring, with cooperation, they probably have a clear shot at it. She now knows that people can change, as long as there are people that can support them. As she voices out the wish, she says to herself that this is what she should have done from the very beginning.

    And the story ends.

  3. Illon 18 Dec 2010 at 12:33 am

    It’s a somewhat shoddy translation, but it’ll do:

    If you could have a super power, what would it be?
    Need more time to think? Sounds childish?

    But.

    It might be better to think it through properly.
    Because one childish question could change your life.

    [Giggle giggle giggle]…

    Chapter 1: Boredom and Sloth

    I was bored.
    If you asked me why, I probably couldn’t answer right away.
    It’s not like my everyday life was better than average, or even worse.
    I had some people I could call friends, and could study all right at school. I had some hobbies such as karate and swimming, too.
    Except for the fact that I was a bit shy, I was a regular high school student. Or was supposed to be.
    Perhaps it was the normalcy that got to me, or maybe it wasn’t.
    But one thing I could say was this: something was missing, and something was in the wrong place.

    “Fwaaaaah…”
    It’s during the day and I’ve already become sleepy.
    In front of the school gates, as if to blow away my tiredness, I shook my head and stopped. Where I am now is in front of the public school of Springwater City, nicknamed Spring-School by its students. Next to me are the students themselves, walking home together while chatting. The noise generated by their nonstop talking buzzes in my ears.

    “Hey, Riley!”
    “Riley-kun, over here!”
    Looking behind me, I saw two of my four friends. It’s Hironobu and Mina.
    “Ah, Hironobu, Mina. What…?”
    “What do you mean, ‘what’? Why are you just standing there?”
    “Um, right. Sorry.”
    Mina laughs.
    “You’re kinda funny.”
    “Yeah. This is… um…”
    I stumble on my words. What was I doing? Nothing in particular, I suppose.

    “Let’s go back to the main topic, shall we? We were looking for you.”
    “Me?”
    “Yes you, Riley! You just left the classroom after school ended. You didn’t even talk to us!”
    “Ah, sorry about that. I really didn’t mean to ignore you guys… So what is it?”
    “We were thinking about going to the game center. We haven’t been able to play together in a while now, right? Let’s go play some Space Fighters. I’ve called a bunch of my friends over, too, and you’re the only one I haven’t asked yet.”
    “I thought so…”
    I bow my head and think for a few seconds.
    “No, sorry, I think I’ll pass. I’m busy today. My parents are gone on a business trip.”

    “Eh, too bad. We haven’t been able to play lately. And Riley, you’re fairly good at fighting games… we need a good opponent.”
    “I’m sorry. My parents told me to watch the house while they were gone.”
    In truth, I probably could go with them. It’s still early, and I have nothing to do anyway.
    But games are getting boring… I can’t feel like playing…
    “Hyaa, four days, huh? If it were me, I’d probably lose all my money over the weekend on games. Oh, well…”
    That’s odd.
    “Are you sure?”
    “Huh?”
    “You’re joking, right?”
    “What do you mean?”
    “If your parents are gone, you’d be studying. Not playing games.”
    “Ah, uh, well, yeah… I have entrance exams for college coming up, so… But I don’s seem particularily studious, do I?”
    “Hironobu-kun, you’re actually studious? Even though you act weird all the time…”
    “I don’t think that was a compliment… Anyway, how did you know I study? I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone…”

    “Well, you know. You get good grades on tests and stuff.”
    “Just that, huh… Do you have some sort of hobby about stalking people?”
    “Hahaha, don’t make me sound like some kind of crazy guy…”
    “Hahaha! Don’t deny it!”
    “Oh, right, Riley-kun! What do I do after I go home? Try finding out with your Riley-style fortune-telling.”
    “Mina-san, huh…”
    “Can you guess?”
    “…some sort of exercise?”
    “Aaah, you’re right! It’s like real fortune-telling! How did you know?”
    “Well, you seemed like you lost some excess fat recently…”
    *Smack* *Crack* *Crush*
    Mina’s iron fists smash into my face…! Without anything to hold on to, I crumpled to the ground skull-first. At the same time, it appears to have woken me up…
    “What are you saying, you Riley! Are you saying I’m fat!?”

    “Don’t do that… Mina’s scary when she gets mad!” Hironobu gives his (now unneeded) advice. “But anyway, ‘You Riley!’ doesn’t seem like a good choice of insulting words, does it?”
    “Well, I could also take it as a compliment, so I held back on it!”
    “You call that pulling your punches, huh…” Hironobu says, rolling his eyes.
    I stand up. I feel woozy, but I keep my balance. Ugh…
    “Are you okay? Can you walk? Need help standing up?” Mina asks worriedly. She seems oblivious to the fact that she was the one that did this to me in the first place…
    “That’s fine, I can walk. By the way, by exercise… are you learning Karate recently?”
    “No, she’s just overly strong like that.”
    “I see…”
    I look around. Nobody is walking home anymore. The clock reads 3:30.
    “By the way, didn’t you guys want to go the game center?”
    “Oh right!”
    Hironobu’s expression takes on a look of horror. It’s just as I thought it would look.
    “Well, I guess we’d better go, Riley. Good luck! Let’s go to the game center together some other time!”
    “Bye, Riley-kun! Give our regards to your parents for us!”
    The two jog away in a hurry, their bags bouncing on their shoulders. They’re going to have fun today, I suppose.
    “Kh, why do I need to give regards to my parents? It’s not like they deserve it…”

    The relationship between me and my parents is nowhere near perfect.
    First of all, they’re not even my real parents.
    But it doesn’t mean that they’re bad or anything. Just… boring.
    Because they’re so boring, I can guess what they’ll say and what they’ll do in advance. The more boring they are, the more easily I can understand their thoughts…
    I understand what they do on a basis of “If I were them, what would I do?” The better I know them, the more it’s right. And it gives a surprisingly good guess rate. Because of it, though, I’m bored. Because of it, it’s no fun being around others.
    That’s my talent. It’s also my prison…

    I hurry on my way home. Drowsiness comes upon me again, and stops my thoughts mid-way. Recently I’ve been really sleepy for some reason…
    Walking through the market street, I recall that I don’t need to buy anything. Last Wednesday, I already got ready for my parents leaving, buying packets of noodles for meals. I pass right by the store owners who want my money.
    “Hey, kid! Want some fish? Today tuna is only half price!”
    “Sorry, I’ll get some next time…” I respond, and walk past the stores.
    This market street, Springwater market is the number one attraction in Springwater city. If you come here, you can buy just about anything you need. It’s cheaper than convenience stores, and best of all, it’s right near both my house and the school. Not only that, it connects the two together! I don’t enjoy being in crowds, but this market is very convenient for me.
    Not only that, there are a lot of things not related to shopping in this area, too. Even the game center Hironobu and his friends are going to can be reached by turning right at this crossroad here, while the train station can be reached by going left.

    A train… well, actually, it’s a monorail. Though rare in Japan, this county has a monorail passing through. Luckily, my house is close to the school, so I don’t need to use it every day. However, whenever I need to go somewhere else, I enjoy the benefits of using a monorail. It passes through the whole county, and you can go just about anywhere with it. A drawback inherent in the idea that it can go anywhere is that it stops fairly often. It’s not very useful if you want to go somewhere quickly.

    Suddenly I notice that the ambient noise has faded. I’ve already gotten through the market street and am near my house.
    “That was quick…” I mumble. My sense of time is somewhat strange now. I suppose it’s because I’m sleepy.
    Taking out the spare key from the mailbox, I open the front door. I walk upstairs to my small room, drop my bag on the floor, and sit (more like crumple) on the reclining chair, which doubles as my bed.
    “Something is weird recently…”
    Yes. Just recently, I’ve become better at reading people’s motivations. Now, with a fairly good ratio of failures to successes, I can read people’s minds… and because of it, I’m becoming more and more bored.
    Even so, I can’t feel like doing anything.
    “I guess I’ve become used to understanding people…”
    If so, that’s not good. Even if its just little by little, my boredom is increasing. I keep becoming lazier and lazier.

    It takes effort just to sit up, now.
    “I need to do my homework…” I mumble.
    I usually finish my homework immediately after arriving home. If I don’t do it quick, I keep putting it off until later. It’s a decision I make based on my knowledge of my own personality. And yet, it’s hard to follow through with my plans.
    “I guess I could do it tomorrow… I’m sleepy today.”
    I slump back onto my bed. It’s nowhere near dark outside. Even so, I’m sleepy. Looking at my clock on my desk, it’s still 4:06. But after closing my eyes, my consciousness fades away quietly.
    “Haaa…”
    I sigh.
    A life that consists of just living on.
    Boredom that lasts forever.

    “I wish today would end…”
    In the depths of fading emotions, I wish.
    But even if today ends, there’s the next day. And the next day. I can’t feel like doing anything.
    Right now, Hironobu and Mina are probably having fun. I wonder what sort of games they’re playing?
    “I want to become more like everyone else… I want to have fun with everyone…”
    Saying these words, I gave way to unconsciousness.

    “………uu.”
    I wake up.
    The time is… five to 2:00 AM. It’s ushimitsudoki. I guess its time for ghosts to come out…
    This sucks. If I wake up once, I always have trouble going back to sleep. Once, I woke up at 10:00 PM and couldn’t sleep until 5:00…
    Maybe I should just work on my homework, I think to myself as I make my way to the bathroom.
    Oh, right. I haven’t eaten dinner yet… just as I remembered that, my stomach growls at me as if getting angry.
    After finishing my business, this time I walk downstairs to the kitchen. In the bottom left shelf in the pantry, there’s a box of ramen I bought the other day. I’ll eat that. Afterwards, I’ll work on my homework.
    I set the pot’s timer to “Boil” and place the packet of noodles in a bowl.
    This three minutes of waiting time always feels like forever…
    I take a step back, sigh, and—

    Thud!

    Wh-, what?
    “Who’s there…”
    Without knowing it, my voice turns into a tiny mumble. A second later, I feel ashamed of myself. There’s no reason for me to be scared. I always knew this, didn’t I? Daily life is boring. There’s no reason for anyone to be here. It’s probably a cat…

    Click! Thud! Knock, knock!

    There’s no mistaking it. Someone’s here. They want to come in. At 2:00 in the morning? Why?
    Thinking quickly, I come to one conclusion. One is a thief. Another is an injured person. It’s possible that there’s been a car accident around here, and that was the first thudding noise. It could be drunk driving, or it might be that they couldn’t see well in the dark, or got sleepy…
    If it is someone hurt, I guess I should check it out. On the other hand, if it were a thief…
    If they’re asking for help, at the point that they haven’t raised their voice, it’s odd.
    On the other hand, if they’re a thief, I have no idea why they would try to get into a house with the lights on…
    Oh well, I guess I’ll check it out…
    I pick up a knife from the kitchen and walk towards the door. There’s no reason not to be cautious here. If it actually were a thief, I’m not confident in my ability to stab someone, but it’s better than nothing…
    “…who is it?”
    No response. Even if I look out of the peephole, there’s nothing there except darkness. But there’s no way that can be right; someone just tried to open the door… In my mind, tomorrow’s news formulates: “One high school student has been hospitalized after a stab wound. Apparently in a fight with a robber, the room showed signs of violence and running about…”
    I inhale and exhale deeply, attempting to control my feelings. And at once, I push open the door—!
    In front of me — there was nothing.
    “Ha… hahaha…”
    I guess I was hearing things or something. I’m sleepy, and its scary in the dark like this… I thought I heard something, but it wasn’t anything in particular.
    “I wonder what that was, though?” I ask myself. Obviously, there is no answer.
    Well, there shouldn’t have been an answer.

    Even so, I heard it. A small, broken voice, weaved out in between breaths.
    “It’s… me.”
    Huh…?
    “My name is… Motoi Maya. The Rabid Clock, Motoi… Maya. Would you help me out here?”
    Just like her introduction, my life went insane from there.

  4. B. Macon 18 Dec 2010 at 1:12 pm

    –What does Maya’s perfect world look like?

    –I’m not sure what it’s like in the original Japanese, but “lock ability” and “ring ability” sound sort of awkward to me in English.

    –Would many Japanese readers expect that the lock abilities and ring abilities of each character have something to do with each other? For Western readers, I’d think that Maya’s combination of empathy/mind-reading and the ability to stop time would come off as a bit incoherent.

    –I think it’s an interesting motive for Maya that she’s sort of defending herself against having to listen to evil intentions all the time.

    –The power overlap between Maya and Riley feels dramatically fertile. They’re different takes on a similar situation…

    –Just from the character description, it’s clear why readers would care about whether Riley falls in love with Angeline instead of anybody else. (For example, readers might care about whether Peter Parker falls for Mary Jane or Gwen Stacy based on whether they prefer the girl next store or the more wild, dangerous lady.

    –I like the idea that Donovan’s lock ability has a tight time limit on it, but seeing one second into the future might be hard to work into the story. It might help if you increased the limit, perhaps to a minute or two.

    –“With a magical disguise and a fake name, Maya transfers into Riley’s class in school…” Quintessentially Japanese. 🙂

    –“Maya finally decides to stop causing casualties and brings the conflict to an end (despite entering the game in the first place due to her love of conflict). She disbands the Syndicate, becomes serious, and starts her final battle against the Aquarius. In this battle, many Aquarius and Syndicate members die.” Hmm, this feels a bit inconsistent to me. If she’s deciding to stop causing casualties, why go out with a massive battle at the end? It may make a bit more sense if *Donovan* starts the final battle.

    –Her wish is interesting. I think it’s a satisfying way to handle an ambiguous ending–it’s not 100% clear what becomes of her and humanity after she makes the wish, but I think it resolves enough that readers will feel sated.

  5. Illon 18 Dec 2010 at 2:55 pm

    >>What does Maya’s perfect world look like?

    A world without evil intentions, where people never become impoverished and become hurt.

    Riley argues that in such a world, nobody would do anything, given that evil intentions (according to Maya) shape everything that people do. (She even refuses the help of Donovan, who was traveling the world helping the impoverished, because she saw his motive of self-satisfaction and because he was “looking down on her”.)

    Maya counters angrily that if perfection had no meaning, why do we keep trying to become better? Riley has no answer to that.

    >>I’m not sure what it’s like in the original Japanese, but “lock ability” and “ring ability” sound sort of awkward to me in English.

    Okay, I guess I should change it. I wonder if Primary and Secondary seem all right?

    >>Would many Japanese readers expect that the lock abilities and ring abilities of each character have something to do with each other? For Western readers, I’d think that Maya’s combination of empathy/mind-reading and the ability to stop time would come off as a bit incoherent.

    The primary and secondary abilities usually have little to do with each other, but usually supplement the other. For example, a young mime (looks more like a clown without face paint) called Levan fights by pulling out items with special effects out of nowhere, mostly explosive juggling balls. His Secondary ability is to be able to use minor telekinesis, which he uses to set traps in midair by levitating the bombs.

    >>The power overlap between Maya and Riley feels dramatically fertile. They’re different takes on a similar situation…

    Depending on the route you take, Riley understands humans differently. In the Maya END, he realizes that humans are inherently evil, but keeps believing that humans can be redeemed, unlike Maya. In other routes, he feels that, despite everything that Maya says, their intentions are not completely evil; there is still a shard of good intentions involved.

    >>I like the idea that Donovan’s lock ability has a tight time limit on it, but seeing one second into the future might be hard to work into the story. It might help if you increased the limit, perhaps to a minute or two.

    There’s already a person that can see into the future, who serves as the person that assigns missions to the main characters based on what he sees. Donovan’s ability is strictly secondary, and only helps when in combat. Of course, it wouldn’t break anything to bump it up to one minute.

    >>”With a magical disguise and a fake name, Maya transfers into Riley’s class in school…” Quintessentially Japanese.

    Very.

    >>–”Maya finally decides to stop causing casualties and brings the conflict to an end (despite entering the game in the first place due to her love of conflict). She disbands the Syndicate, becomes serious, and starts her final battle against the Aquarius. In this battle, many Aquarius and Syndicate members die.”

    True. She does it to gain possession of the Ring of Las Tale, but it wouldn’t break anything to have Donovan start the last battle. It would make more sense anyway – he’s the one who’s power-hungry at the end.

  6. Illon 18 Dec 2010 at 2:56 pm

    The first chapter is too short. I need to add more to it; perhaps some background information, or character development. What would be a good plot device to develop Riley’s character?

  7. Illon 18 Dec 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Chapter 2: The Girl Named Maya

    “My name is… Motoi Maya. The Rabid Clock, Motoi… Maya. Would you help me out here?”
    I heard someone talk just now. But… from where?
    Suddenly I realize that the girl named Maya is standing right next to me. When was she there from!? I just looked around the area, and saw nothing…!
    “Who… are you. Where did you come from?”
    “Leave the questions for later. If a cute girl asks you for help, you help her, am I wrong?”

    “…what is it, at this time of night. Is this some kind of joke? There better not be an ending where I help you and you turn out to be a ghost…”
    “I’m being pursued.”
    “Pursued…?”
    I ask back like a parrot. What is she talking about?
    “Please, let me in! They’re almost here! You have to help me!”
    “Uh, um, all right.”
    Swept up by a torrent of words, I (against my rationality) let her into the house. This seems like it’ll be trouble…

    In that instant, however, she collapsed into my arms. A wet, sticky sensation grips my hands.
    “U-, uwa!”
    It’s blood. There’s a huge amount of blood. The darkish-red liquid sticks to my fingers. She has a stab wound in her back, and blood is flowing freely out of it…

    “Wha-, what are you…”
    “I told you. I’m being targeted.”
    “By who?”
    “Close the door.”
    “Who’s chasing you? Why?”
    “Please, close the door.”
    …it doesn’t seem like she’ll answer my question. Giving up, I walk over to the door and close it.
    “Promise me you’ll tell me later.”
    “Sure.”
    I’m not very good with these types of people. I can’t predict what they’ll say and do…
    Suddenly, I feel something wrong with the situation. However, the feeling dies immediately.
    I lean her on my shoulder and take her towards the sofa. Blood drips on the white tiles and creates a small puddle. I’ll have to clean that up later… oh, right, what am I thinking about? I need to treat Maya’s wound!
    Even though the answer is obvious, I ask anyway.

    “Are you all right?”
    “I’m perfectly okay.”
    “You’re fine enough to be sarcastic, anyway…”
    “Ah, it hurts, it hurts! It hurts really bad! Give me first aid, please! Kyahahahaha! — *Hack* *Cough* Gefu…”
    “I’m glad you’re feeling fine… wait, isn’t that blood? You’re coughing up blood!”
    “*Cough* …I’m fine, I’m fine.”
    I sigh. Haa… I’m no good with these kind of people. My talent at reading minds is completely useless against her chaotic nature…

    Dashing upstairs, I hurriedly drag the first aid kit out of the bathroom cabinet. There should be cloth bandages and gauze inside… found it. I also wash my bloodied hands while I’m at it.
    Maya is acting tough, but the color of her face is terrible. It’s a light grayish color. Doesn’t that mean… she lost too much blood? (I shake my head and critisize myself for pointing out the obvious.)
    After returning downstairs, I find Maya lying down on the sofa. Uwa, blood is draining into the sheets… I sit down next to her.
    “I feel kinda woozy.”
    “It’s blood loss.”
    “What’s that?”
    “The problem. You’ve lost too much blood. What happened? Can’t you tell me what’s wrong?”
    “Well, I had a little bit of a fight…”
    “You? And you got stabbed in it, or something?”
    “‘I’ll go with that story.”
    ” ‘Go with that story’…? Besides, we don’t call getting stabbed ‘a little bit of a fight’.”
    I try to wipe away the blood and stop the bleeding with the gauze, and bandage it with cloth. I get the general idea of what I’m supposed to do, but there’s so much blood that it’s hard to stop. To stop the blood, I tie the bandages over her chest and back over her clothes. I tried my best, but with such big of a wound, the process takes a long time. While I stop the bleeding, I ask her some of the questions I have.
    “You’re wearing fancy clothes. Are you a rich person or something? Is that while people are after you?”
    “You could say that, too.”
    “Please answer seriously… I’m worried about you here. Are you connected to the yakuza, or something?”
    “It’s more like the mafia…” she says in a small voice.
    “Whats that? I couldn’t hear you.”
    “I said, ‘If so, then what?’.”
    “I’ll have you leave immediately. I don’t want anything to do with the yakuza.”
    “I’m pretty tough, though! If I sleep for a day, anything I have becomes pretty much fine.”
    Words fail me. I’m worried about this… this nut?
    “It’s not a cold, you can’t just recover it… We need to call the ambulance.”
    “Ah, no. No calling the ambulance!”
    “Are you joking? You’re heavily wounded! I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re dead by now!”
    “I told you. I get better in about a day.”
    “Huh? If you die, it’s my problem. I’ll go over and call.”
    I stand up from my seat and walk over to the phone in the edge of the kitchen.
    “No.”
    Looking behind me, I see Maya lying on the couch, glaring at me with a piercing stare.
    “No way. You can’t get me to back down just by looking at me.”
    Turning again, I dial the buttons.
    9… 1…
    Gashi!
    When I realized it, the phone was out of my hand and pushed into the receiver.
    “Uwa!”
    Maya was standing there. Her face was still pale, and yet she had moved next to me within seconds. In her left hand was the receiver, and in the right was my arm. She’s holding my arm in an iron grip. Since when did she get here…!?
    “Are you really not a ghost, or hallucination…? How did you…?”
    With a straight face, Maya replies.
    “Could such a cute girl be a ghost?”
    “But… you were just lying down there.”
    “I ran.”
    “You’re hurt. Badly!”
    My hand is aching from her powerful grip.
    “Please. I won’t die. Believe me.”
    “A, ah… I get it. I get it, so let go!”
    “Okay.”
    She lets go of my hand, and we both lose our balance. Maya falls backwards. Thud!
    Hitting the back of her head on the floor, hard, she simply stares at the ceiling for a few seconds as if not knowing what was going on.
    “Ow, my head… I feel dizzy. And my wound’s opening up again…”
    “Are you sure you’re all right…?”
    Again, I sigh.
    What just happened there? She was lying on the sofa, and then… she appeared next to me without a sound. How? Did she run? That can’t be right, she just showed me that she can’t even keep her balance!
    Oh well. I’ll stop thinking for a while. Before that, I need to make sure she’s all right. I guess I’ll trust Maya, at least for now. (If she can run, though, I suppose she’s just fine…) I also need to get her to bed. It’s late, and if she doesn’t sleep, she won’t be able to recover properly. I try to take her upstairs, to my room. There’s a bed in there.
    “Please hold still.”
    Moving my arms around her waist, I try to pick her up. She’s heavy! It’s hard not to pick her up with all my strength, especially not when she’s wounded like this. My balance goes off-center, and I struggle to stay standing.
    “Eh? Eh? What are you doing? Something perverted?”
    Maya grins evilly.
    “Shut up.”
    “Hyaa, what toughness. You can’t hope to do me just by acting macho, though~. If possible–”
    “Please, be quiet!”
    Using my knee as the center of balance, I pick her up in my arms. And the way I picked her up is…
    “Kyaa, it’s the princess pickup! (Japanese culture) You little pervert…”
    “Please stop…”
    I’m not sure whether I can carry her up the stairs like this… It’s more of a problem of willpower than strength. If I start coughing because of her jokes or something, we’re both going to get hurt.
    “Don’t say anything while we’re going up the steps, okay? We both might fall down…”
    “Ah, it’s fine with me. I’m pretty durable. I’ve survived a building exploding once.”
    “What are you talking about…”
    I walk up the stairs with Maya in my arms. I thought she’d start joking again, but luckily, she managed to listen to me (for once). Thanks to that, I was able to walk up the stairs without rolling back down.
    “So where are we going?”
    “My room.”
    “Is that–”
    “Don’t say anything! I’m going to be sleeping on the couch!”
    “Fuun, you’re easy to tease.”
    “Haa…”
    As you can see, I’m no good with these kinds of jokes. On the other hand, she’s filled with them. It’s a horrible combination…
    I softly move her onto the recliner slash bed. There’s no more blood, but her wounds must hurt.
    “Well, make yourself at home.”
    “And what about the good-night kiss?”
    Uu. My face becomes red.
    “Stop messing around…”
    “Kyahahaha, did you think I was for real?”
    “Bye…”
    “Ah, wait!”
    “What is it, exactly?”
    “What’s your name?”
    Ah, I haven’t said my name yet.
    “My bad. My name is Riley Gaudin. I’m a student of Spring-School.”
    “I see, I see~. Well, see you again tomorrow!”
    Tomorrow too, huh? I’m not sure if I can live through another day of this… How long does she think she’s going to stay here?
    “Good ni-ght!”
    “Aa, good night…”
    I close the door. I guess I need to sleep on the bloodied sofa tonight… or my parents room, except that they locked it before they left. My unnatural father is a programmer, and he has a lot of important stuff (like his computer) in the room.
    Either way, I’m really tired now. Maya… she’s like a human form of a storm. I can’t keep up with her. I guess that’s entertaining and all; it’s much better than hanging around my boring friends. But there’s something… off about her. I feel suspicious about her. But I can’t understand what it is, and I feel irritated…
    Who is she, anyway? Where did she come from? Why is she hurt? Who’s after her? I have questions, but no answers. I’ll have to ask her them tomorrow. I don’t know whether she’ll answer them seriously, though…
    I wipe the blood off the floor and the sofa. Though the tiles clean up nicely, the sofa has a big red stain on the front of it. I wonder what my parents will say when they get home… No, wait. I should be more worried about what they’ll say about Maya! I can imagine myself explaining:
    “There was a girl covered in blood who said she needed help. She won’t tell me where she came from or how she got hurt. She might even be involved with the yakuza! Could we have her stay for the night?”
    …it’s not going to work.
    It’s 2:24 AM now. It hasn’t even been thirty minutes since I woke up. Even so, I’m very tired now. Not physically, but mentally.
    But when have I had so little boredom? I can’t remember.
    I close my eyes. I think I can sleep well tonight.

  8. Illon 18 Dec 2010 at 6:13 pm

    The chapter continues. I’m not finished with it yet.

  9. B. Macon 19 Dec 2010 at 7:03 am

    Okay… I’m looking at chapter 1 now.

    This might be a translation issue, but the opening paragraph does not grab me. (“If you could have a super power, what would it be? Need more time to think? Sounds childish? But. It might be better to think it through properly. Because one childish question could change your life.”) It might help if it said a bit more about the story than that there are superpowers in it. (Here are some of the best opening lines for comparison).

    For the first ten sentences, from “I was bored” to “Fwaaah…”, the character doesn’t show us anything. He directly tells us that…
    –“I was bored.”
    –“I probably could answer right why [why I was bored].”
    –My life isn’t better or worse than average.
    –“I was a bit shy.”
    –“I was a regular high school student.”

    To me, the most interesting part of these opening ~10 lines is definitely, definitely the line “Or [I] was supposed to be [a regular student].” It raises questions about why they’re putting up a charade, who’s setting up this charade, etc. But his boredom doesn’t seem to factor into this at all. I would recommend either tying the boredom into his double-life somehow, like he’s getting bored of the pretense, or maybe bored of all the people around him (because he can read minds) or starting with a characteristic about him that can be tied in more easily.

    “you Riley” is a pretty funny insult.

    One comparison that might help: most of the conversations he has with people are as predictable and boring as dropping apples. Perhaps there are fleeting moments at the very end, when the apple bounces off the ground, where things are hard to predict, but the overwhelming majority of the time you know exactly what’s going to happen before it does.

    “My name is… Motoi Maya. The Rabid Clock, Motoi… Maya. Would you help me out here?” Just like her introduction, my life went insane from there. Haha, I like this.

  10. Illon 19 Dec 2010 at 2:19 pm

    >>This might be a translation issue, but the opening paragraph does not grab me. It might help if it said a bit more about the story than that there are superpowers in it. (Here are some of the best opening lines for comparison).

    Sorry, I’m not good at writing opening lines. Even after reading that page… What do you think about a flash-forward? For example, we start out with a mission that two superhumans, including the main character, are on? (like a building with a bomb in it…)

    >>To me, the most interesting part of these opening ~10 lines is definitely, definitely the line “Or [I] was supposed to be [a regular student].” It raises questions about why they’re putting up a charade, who’s setting up this charade, etc. But his boredom doesn’t seem to factor into this at all. I would recommend either tying the boredom into his double-life somehow, like he’s getting bored of the pretense, or maybe bored of all the people around him (because he can read minds) or starting with a characteristic about him that can be tied in more easily.

    The reason he acts normal towards pople is because he doesn’t want people to dislike him, even though he doesn’t like them to begin with.

    He is bored of everyone that talks to him, especially people he knows best. I’m wondering whether I should introduce that fact earlier on, even before he talks to his two friends. What do you think?

    >>One comparison that might help: most of the conversations he has with people are as predictable and boring as dropping apples. Perhaps there are fleeting moments at the very end, when the apple bounces off the ground, where things are hard to predict, but the overwhelming majority of the time you know exactly what’s going to happen before it does.

    You’re right. I need to exaggerate that fact. For example, as it stands, there is no good reason why he gets hit in the face – after all, he knew how she would react. The reason for this is because he wants something new in his boring life.

    I’ll write up another draft of it, based on what you told me.

  11. Illon 19 Dec 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Emphasized the parts about being able to read minds.

    “Don’t do that… Mina’s scary when she gets mad!” Hironobu gives his (now unneeded) advice. “But anyway, ‘You Riley!’ doesn’t seem like a good choice of insulting words, does it?”
    “Well, I could also take it as a compliment, so I held back on it!”
    “You call that pulling your punches, huh…” Hironobu says, rolling his eyes.
    I stand up. I feel woozy, but I keep my balance. Ugh…
    Everyday exchanges of words (and fists). Mina is somewhat violent, and gets angry easily. She gets overexcited when you say something about her.
    I knew this. But then why would I say it? Because it’s my mask. My persona that exists so that I can be like everyone else…
    “Are you okay? Can you walk? Need help standing up?” Mina asks worriedly. She seems oblivious to the fact that she was the one that did this to me in the first place…
    “That’s fine, I can walk. By the way, by exercise… are you learning Karate recently?”
    “No, I think she’s just overly strong like that.”
    “I see… so what are you doing?”
    My guess was off. Even so, I don’t feel disappointed about it. In fact, it feels more fresh than anything. Thinking back, I recognize that I actually live for these moments. My life has been a struggle to escape the pre-established harmony. Every day, I try to learn something about someone that I didn’t know before. But it only teaches me how boring people are.
    “Tai Chi. It’s a Chinese martial art that emphasizes pushes over strikes. I’m not very good at it, though…”
    Kh. I wasn’t that far off. Oh well…
    I look around. Nobody is walking home anymore. The clock reads 3:30.

  12. Illon 19 Dec 2010 at 7:20 pm

    More of chapter 2. I’m still translating the rest of it.

    [Chirp chirp…]
    The birds are singing.
    I roll over. If my parents were here, I’d like to tell them to wait another 5 minutes. Luckily, however, my parents are gone. In other words, I can keep sleeping.
    Maya’s wounds are much worse than the acts they are. She should have been dead before I found her. She probably won’t even wake up today.
    “That’s right! I need to check on Maya.”
    She’d better not be dead. If she is… it won’t be good at all. A girl came over to my house and died on me? Right. Given how energetic she was, I don’t think she’d be dead when I find her, though…
    Thinking this to myself, I sit up. Maybe I should call the ambulance. Last night (well, this morning) I couldn’t do so because Maya threatened me (threatened me? How?). But it’s probably better to take her into the hospital, whether she likes it or not. It may be too late to do much about it, but still, we need to make sure… I walk towards the stairway, next to the kitchen.
    “Huh?”
    Something smells strange. My senses still aren’t at their best because I’m sleepy, but something smells… wrong.
    “What is this…?”
    I sniff the air and start walking up the stairs.
    “Something… burning?”
    Suddenly, I hear a loud, piercing scream!
    “Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!”
    “Maya!”
    Throwing aside my sleepiness, I run down the stairs into the kitchen. As I thought, Maya was there in the kitchen, standing over a frying pan with fire all the way up to the ceiling…!
    “Daaaaaah!”
    I dash into the kitchen, snatching a lid from the wall as I run, and dive onto the fire with the pan. Clang! With no more oxygen, the fire dies down within seconds. Huh, that was close… The ceiling would have caught fire if I were a few seconds late…!
    “Ah, Riley-kun!”
    Maya’s face lights up as she recognizes me.
    “Breakfast, bath, or do you want m-e?”
    “What are you talking about! What were you doing in here!?”
    “Sorry, I just wanted to try saying it once…”
    “So… what were you doing?”
    “Euu. Um, well, you see. I was making scrambled eggs, and I kinda tripped up on the instructions… Here, take a look.”
    She hands me the previously burning frying pan. In the frying pan, was a… dirty, blackened… charcoal? A bit of it is still smoldering quietly.
    “This isn’t a scrambled egg.”
    “Really? What is it?”
    “It’s an insult to the chicken that made it…”
    “Achaa, I guess it can’t be helped, then. So do you want a bath, a bath, or do you want m-e?”
    “Nobody gets into the bath during the morning… wait, did you even make one?”
    “No, why?”
    “Sigh… Wait a minute. Are you sure you’re okay, walking around like that?”
    “Ah, about that. I’m fine. Take a look!”
    Maya spins around. Behind her bloodied, torn T-shirt is… dried blood, and… nothing.
    Nothing is there. That can’t be right… I treated the wound myself yesterday!
    “Where… is the wound?”
    “It’s A-okay!”
    “You’re joking, right?”
    Laying my hands on her back, I feel about for the wound that should be there. It’s not.
    “Kyahahahaha, that tickles~”
    “What’s… going on? How…?”
    “Don’t you remember?”
    “Eh…?”

    ” ‘I’m pretty tough, though! If I sleep for a day, anything I have becomes pretty much fine.’ ”

    “By ‘if I sleep for a day’, you meant… this?”
    “Exactly~. I’m pretty darn tough. I don’t die just by being poked and prodded.”
    “You’re lying… this isn’t possible.”
    “It’s not a lie. But…”
    “But what!?”
    “Do you want me? Me? Or do you want m-e?”
    I slump down. I can’t believe I actually expected to get a serious answer out of her…

    Today is Saturday, and the weather is perfect. Right now, we’re walking through the street market. Maya had asked me to act as a guide for this city. Though I’m still confused about her wound, and feel that she should stay calm at home, I guess this may be a good chance to get some answers out of her.
    “Hey, Riley-kun.”
    “Yes?”
    “That. That pink thing being tied to the ceiling with a rope. What is it?”
    “That’s a pig’s face.”
    “Eh, I feel sorry for the little piglet!”
    “Pork is very common to eat around here. And its not a piglet.”
    “I wanna try eating it sometime… it sounds funny.”
    “You keep changing your mind about things…”
    “Ah, that over there! What’s that?”
    “It’s tuna. It’s really big, isn’t it?”
    “If you walk through this market every day, you’d learn what everything was, too. But anyway, where did you come from, Maya? Seeing that you don’t know what any of this is, you’re not from around here, are you?”
    “Hmm… well, not exactly…”
    Seizing the opportunity, I try to ask her some questions, but the missile falls too short. She then changes the subject immediately.
    “Ah, look at that! There are fishies swimming in that tank!”
    “Huh… Maya, you’re don’t know much about the world, do you?”
    “That’s not true! I just don’t know much about modern culture!”
    “That’s not very different…”
    “Kyahahahaha. Ooh, look, a fuzzy doggy! How cute~!”
    Maya gives chase to a small brown housedog that someone is holding, and steps into the crowd after it. Hold on, she’s pushing everyone aside! How? Is she just that strong? Another question to ask…
    Thud! The people pushed away out of the crowd flash dirty looks towards me and Maya. Why me…
    “Hey… where do you think you’re you going…”
    I try to get through a crowd like Maya, but I’m only pushed back.
    “Kh…”
    I lose sight of Maya in the midst of the confusion. She shouldn’t be going too far away, but she seemed to just vanish. I can’t tell where she is over the crowd…
    “Hey, Maya! Maya!”
    Does Maya remember where our house was? If not, it’ll be troublesome to get her back…
    Thud!
    “Sorry about that…”
    Thud! I lose my balance. I appear to have hit someone again.
    “Crap!”
    I try to fight againsst the current, but I’m only pushed back to where I started.
    So why try to fight? I turn around and walk with the crowd. This road to the right leads to a small one-way road, without many people there. Once I get past that, a road to the right leads to the game center. Taking yet another right, it leads me back to the market street. It takes time, and it has the risk that Maya may get farther away from me than before, but it’s the only idea I’ve got.

    Turning several times, I got lucky. Maya was slowly wandering around right there, almost like a sleepwalker or a zombie, with her arms stretched out in front.
    “Doggie~! Doggie~! Has anyone seen a doggie around here~?”
    “Maya!”
    “Ah! Riley-kun, it’s you!”
    “Are you all right?”
    “Yup, I’m fine! Where were you?”
    “That’s my line… Did you find the dog?”
    “No, he disappeared somewhere…”
    “I see. You turn… weird… around dogs, don’t you?”
    “I love little furry things~!”
    She wanted to meet the dog so bad, that she pushed people off the road for it… Words fail me.
    “So, what’s that building over there?”
    “That’s the game center.”
    “What do people do there?”
    “Play games, of course…”
    “Eh, what kind of games…!?”
    Maya’s eyes are shining. She seems very interested…
    “Various games. Want to try?”
    She nods her head vigorously up and down. It’s almost like headbanging…
    “Well, let’s play, then. Ah, but I don’t want to be spending my money all the time, so… how about we set a condition?”
    “What’s that?”
    Here’s my chance…!
    “If I win, would you answer my questions?”
    “…”
    Maya turns silent.
    “You don’t want to?”
    “Um… I’m thinking.”
    After about a whole minute of thinking, she looks back up.
    “Sure. But I have a condition, too.”
    “What is it?”
    “If I win, could I stay at your house from now on?”
    “Eh…”
    “No?”
    “Not exactly… I won’t lose to begin with! But either way, my parents probably won’t let you… I’ll promise to try my best to convince them, though. If I lose, I’ll come up with some kind of heartwarming story over the next few days. On the other hand, you won’t break your promise, either, right?”
    “I never break my word. Let’s play!”
    She’s even more energetic than yesterday…
    We walk into the game center. Here we go, I’ll finally get the truth out of you…!

  13. Wingson 19 Dec 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Although I’ve never played any visual novel games and I don’t know much about them, possibly making my opinion useless, the plot itself intrigues me. And I like Maya already.

    – Wings

  14. Illon 20 Dec 2010 at 3:32 am

    Thanks for the compliment! Maya is like the Large Ham (tvtropes) of the story…

    I have a question. I find it hard to write people’s actions, whether in an action scene or everyday scenery. Could anyone give me some advice on this? Is the only way to get over it to practice, like with drawing? Or are there some useful trade secrets?

  15. Illon 23 Dec 2010 at 7:19 pm

    The translation of chapter 2 and 3 is taking a while. They’re somewhat long…

    Sorry.

  16. Illon 24 Dec 2010 at 9:45 pm

    The rest of chapter 2 is translated.

    At the top story of the game center, Maya and I walk over to the game machine in the farthest corner. There, there is the fighting game Mugen Rumble. After telling her that we were going to play Mugen Rumble, we sat down.
    I’m good at fighting games; I almost never lose. With fighting games, I can use my “talent” at guessing other’s actions to a large extent. Because of this, whenever I play with friends, I just about always rank number one. And especially around now, I’ve been getting better at understanding others’ actions.
    But the person I’m fighting is the personification of chaos, Motoi Maya. No matter how much I predict her actions, she comes out one step above me. My biggest weapon, understanding actions, is meaningless in front of her. Still, I’ll beat her with just my skill…
    Thinking about how tough of an opponent Maya may be, I remember what happens if I lose. Why does Maya want to stay at my house? It’s a fairly tough condition. First of all, I’m pretty sure my parents won’t allow it. Why does she want to stay at my house, anyway? Was she kicked out of her house, or something?
    …there’s no use thinking about it. Maya’s like a child of a storm. She probably is just saying that on a whim.
    “Push up and you jump. Tap up and make a small jump. The A-button is a jab, B-button is a special attack. Side-A and you attack, repeated presses give a combination…”
    While explaining, I think about how to win.
    My character is a small girl, Saya. She’s a character that came out in a horror game, and uses the power of gore to attack. My opponent is Maya’s character, the maul-wielding giant Samuel. She probably didn’t think much about what to pick, and just chose the biggest character… He’s the type of character hardest to use for beginners, because his attack speed and movement speed is so slow. He’ll have trouble hitting a small opponent, Saya…!
    The game we’re playing now is a three-set match; even if you lose once, you have a chance to rebound. It’s a good thing for my play style, but it could turn out well for Maya, too.
    I analyze my opponents and turn it into a strategy. My talent at reading other’s actions doesn’t work if I don’t know what kind of person they are in advance, so the longer the game goes on, the better I get. In addition, Maya is a newbie; it’s obvious that she’ll play more predictably than most. If I keep watching her movements carefully and trap her in a combination attack, I know I can win.
    On the other hand, I can win because Maya is a beginner. In other words, if she isn’t a beginner anymore, our chances of winning even out. I want to avoid that at all costs; I can’t lose this game.
    The game begins and I stop thinking about strategy. Saya darts through the map, repeatedly jumping and knee striking into the air as a diversion. Now, it should be hard for a large opponent, especially from a beginner, to come near Saya.
    As I expected, Samuel tries to get closer and is hit with a knee strike to the face. Thud!
    Unfazed, Samuel (Maya) tries to latch onto Saya with his muscular arms…!
    But Saya jumps up high, high above his attack. However, I hadn’t thought of after the jump. Samuel charges up an uppercut and rushes towards Saya, who is helpless in the air…!
    Thud! Crash!
    Or was she? Saya suddenly floats in the air and flies downwards at a high speed. Again, her leg connects with Samuel’s face, and Samuel falls to the ground. From there, Saya kicks him upwards and starts a combination attack…!
    Dodododododo! Samuel is thrown to the edge of the screen, and is carried back towards Saya with his momentum. Then, Saya grows a huge amount of tentacles, envelopes Samuel, and throws him back towards the ground. Yes!
    “Ah…”
    Maya is at a loss for words.
    “What did you just do there? It was too fast to see…”
    “That’s Saya’s combination attack.”
    “Riley-kun, your eyes are all serious…”
    “Don’t mind it, don’t mind it. Here I go!”
    “Kyaa, wait! My HP bar is…”
    Thwack!
    “I win.”
    “Uu, I feel like I was cheated…”
    I laugh softly. Kukuku… Her character is too slow to use properly. Unless she can boost her reaction speed somehow, she’s no match for Saya. Her powerful but slow attacks will just keep being intercepted by Saya’s dexterity, and she’ll just get stuck in another combination. Not only that, bigger characters have a larger hitbox, and are easier to combo.
    “Well then, I guess I should get serious. I never lose at fighting games!”
    “Eh? Really? I thought you were new…”
    “People don’t play serious against new players.”
    “Well, yeah, but…”
    “Wait here a second.”
    Maya stands up and faces the other way. Huh?
    “Maya, what are you doing there?”
    “Nothing. Let’s start!”
    Maya is smiling. She’s holding something in her hand… what is that, a pocketwatch?
    “What’s that?”
    “A good-luck charm. I’m going to move into your house now…”
    “Say whatever you want after you win. Here we go, game start!”
    Saya jumps back and forth, kicking the air to keep Samuel away.
    Suddenly, Samuel tries to move a few yards away, and stops. I see, so she’s trying to turn this into a contest of reach… Too bad. Saya puts up her shield!
    At the same time, Samuel stops. He’s not attacking. Rather, he put up his guard, too…
    “Eh? You stopped your attack by guarding?”
    “Yup.”
    “Why would you do that?”
    “There’s no reason to attack. If I hit you while you’re guarding, you only take a tiny little bit of damage.”
    “But if you keep that up, the damage’ll build up too, doesn’t it? Don’t people say that a bit of dust can turn into a mountain (Japanese saying)?”
    “Why would I do something so cheap? I’ll win in the end anyway…”
    “Don’t be so arrogant…!”
    Saya dashes towards Samuel, closing the gap within seconds. She’s too close to hit with the maul now…! To hit her now, she has to use a kick, which is inferior to the maul both damage- and reach-wise. Knowing Maya’s personality – how she only attacks when she thinks they’ll be a high payoff – she’ll probably keep trying to hit me with the maul…! I ready an attack, and…
    Crack!
    Saya flies through the air.
    “Eh…?”
    Samuel (Maya) had kicked, without even moving her maul an inch.
    As Saya falls to the ground, Samuel rushes in, and…
    Thud! Crash!
    Samuel pounds his maul into the ground in a flurry, cutting down on Saya’s hit points sharply…! It’s almost half gone now…
    “Kh…!”
    I raise my hands off the controller and signal for a time out.
    “Wait, wait a minute. What did you just do there?”
    “You saw it, didn’t you? A combination attack, starting with a kick. It’s hard to combo anyone with a slow fighter like Samuel, but…”
    “No, no, before that. How did you know to kick rather than use the maul?”
    “If I know you can move faster than I attack, I know you’ll be closer to me than I can hit with the maul. That’s why.”
    Huh… I guess she’s not faking being good. At first sight, it seems like she’s doesn’t know much, but she’s good at playing games… Her reaction speed, especially, has gone up since last time, where she couldn’t even tell what was going on! What’s toughest about this is the difference in reach between Saya and Samuel. People with good reaction speeds are best at using slow-moving, long-reach characters.
    “Fine… I’ll catch back up…!”
    I run in with Saya, and stop. I feel the presence of people behind me!
    “Ah, ah, you two. Can we play too?”
    Whirling around, I notice a pair of obviously delinquent kids leaning on the wall behind us. They’re probably about the age of college students. One has a pair of fancy sunglasses on, while the other has a black knit cap on his head.
    “…what is it?”
    “You see. We just used up all our money on games. We need money, but nobody’ll lend us any.”
    “That has nothing to do with us.”
    “Well, no, it does. It has a lot do with you guys.”
    The one with the knit cap says pretentiously.
    “Come with me.”
    “Where?”
    “Just hurry up. You don’t want to get hurt in front of your girlfriend,” the sunglasses kid menaces, “do you?”
    This is the corner of the top floor of the game center. There aren’t many people around. They’re going to try to use Maya as a threat to get money out of me.
    Fine then, try it! I’m not good at fighting, but I know a bit of karate. What was really making me aggressive, though, was that I didn’t want to back down in front of Maya. Right now, that sort of silly thoughts were swirling through my mind.
    Not only that, being in the corner, we have no place to run! Behind us, and to our left, is a wall; in front of us are the two hooligans; and to our right is our yet-unfinished game machine. We’re surrounded by obstacles.
    If so, then we just need to get rid of the obstacles! If I strike first, we can run away. They’re probably not that smart, and they’re both right-handed. I can tell by the muscle tone of their short-sleeved arms. If I shower them with attacks and evade their counterattack, we’ll have enough time to make our way out of here. The target has to be their groin or nose. If we get past one, we can break away…
    “I’ll give you my money. Please don’t hurt us…”
    “Oh, you’re pretty generous!” the one with sunglasses sneers. “How much you got?”
    “Let me check…”
    I pretend to check my pockets, and in one smooth movement, jam my fist into his nose.
    Crunch! With an ugly, painful noise, his nose was crushed. Bleeding, he falls to the ground backwards.
    “What? What’s going on?”
    Maya stands up. It appears that she doesn’t understand what’s going on.
    “Maya, run!” I yell, and try to rush past the other delinquent.
    At the point I realized he was going to punch me in the stomach, it was too late. A punch too fast to dodge, even being able to read his movements, came straight into my stomach! Thud!
    “Gu, geho…”
    “What the fuck are you doing, you little…!?”
    The knit-capped one yells. Even if I know where the punch is coming in, I still am not fast enough to dodge it. I guess I can’t win fights with an odd talent or two…
    “Riley-kun!”
    “Ma… Maya. Run… gh”
    Ow… ow ow ow…! My stomach is in horrible pain. Unable to breathe, I choke on my words. I try to stand up, but quickly find that I’m not able to do so.
    And to make matters worse, the one with the broken nose, the one I just knocked down myself, stood up behind me.
    “Ow, that hurt… Why you little bastard… You’d better be ready for the pain you’re going through next.”
    The knit-capped kid grabs me by my shirt and pulls me up, then smashes his knee into my stomach multiple times. Gasu! Doga! Doga!
    “Gahaaa!”
    It hurts. It hurts. But the pain is going away. I’m losing consciousness.
    “Hey, get the girl, will you?”
    The knit-capped one sneers.
    “‘Cause you just smashed in the nose of my pal…”
    “Don’t lay a finger on Maya…”
    Hearing Maya’s name, I push my fading mind back into action. I won’t let them do anything to Maya… I can’t let them do anything to Maya, because of my actions… In front of me, the glassuns (Japanese word) kid slaps Maya in the face.
    “So what are you gonna do, kid?” he swaggers, then bursts into laughter.
    He didn’t anticipate what came next at all. He flew through the air in a large arc, smashed into the wall, and crumpled to the ground. He didn’t get up.
    “Wh-, what the hell…”
    Maya had lightly slapped him on the chest, with a dismissive backhand. Notwithstanding, he flew several meters into the wall. Maya? Maya did it? How? My mind swirls again. Is it some kind of trick, or is it all an act? I can’t come up with a better explanation.
    “Hey, you.”
    Maya growls in a low voice.
    “Let go of Riley-kun.”
    “Me…?”
    “Who else is there?”
    He lets go of my shirt and takes a few steps back. Without anything holding me up, I lose my balance and fall to the ground.
    In that same instant, Maya was in front of him. Without even time to blink, she grabbed onto his neck with her right hand. A movement speed impossible for regular humans. No, it was more like teleportation…! She slowly applies pressure to his neck.
    “The crime of hurting Riley-kun… I won’t forgive you.”
    “Gh… gigigi!”
    Emmitting a strange gurgling sound, the delinquent loses his strength and stops struggling, his facing turning from tan to red to purple.
    “M… Maya. St… stop.”
    “What is it, Riley-kun?” she replies in a unfittingly happy voice. She still doesn’t stop applying pressure, though. Not only that, she is lifting the kid above her head with but one hand! I raise my upper body off the ground. My body feels heavy, but I can move somewhat now. The big problem, however, is the feeling that I’m choking. Not enough oxygen is going to my head, and I’m having trouble talking.
    “Stop… you’ll kill him…”
    “Okay.”
    With a dull thud, the knit-cap kid falls to the ground. Hitting the back of his head on the tiles with a crack, he stops moving and lies still.
    “Riley-kun, are you alright?”
    “Ah, yeah… What just happened?”
    “He hurt you, so I punished him.”
    “Punished…?”
    “Yup. But you’re a pretty kind guy, to let them go with just this.”
    “Who.. exactly, are you…”
    “I told you, didn’t I? My name is Motoi Maya. The Rabid Clock, Motoi Maya.”
    Maya smiles sweetly.
    She grabs hold of my body with her right hand, and pulls me upright. In her left hand, she’s still holding that golden pocketwatch. Though I lose my balance and start to fall, she grips my body with a bear-like hold and won’t let go.
    “I’m a superhuman with the ability to control time.”

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