"On a rare occasion, a person might become aware of all this." The president finally spoke.
"Their memories become contradictory and they start to see beyond what Artificial tries to manipulate them to.
They will no longer be under Artificial's control and see the world for what it really is; a fake. That is what we mean by "broken free".
All of us here, you included, are freed from Artificial and know the truth of this world."
My eyes widen. I looked around to see each of the boys looking down.
"So, all the people in this world... everybody... but why?"
"Why did this happen? Why were we able to break free?"
"We weren't the only ones to have broken free." Hideyoshi suddenly spoke, his voice low and ominous.
I turned to him in surprise. What does he mean?
"There have been others. But we're..." There was hesitation in his voice.
"We're the only ones who survived." The president interjected.
My eyes widen. Survived?! But...
"You mean to tell me people have died?! But you said that there is no death in Artificial!" I shouted in fear.
"Yes, nobody has died within Artificial. But outside, is a different thing."
"Outside?! What do you even-? You said there was no way to come in or out of Artificial and... ah..."
That dark world. That strange world that was like a nightmare. The memories suddenly flashed in my head and I felt my entire body trembling.
"Wait... what was the other place that I was in? That horrible place, where I was attacked by those... monsters?!" I asked, my lips quivering.
"So, you remember." Senpai snickered. I immediately threw him a dirty look.
"We do not know." The President responded quietly.
"You do not know? How? You said that you would explain everything, yet you don't know?" I cried out in anger.
"There are still many things about Artificial we've yet to learn. The things we do know, are only from what we could easily find. But that is why this club exist.
The Artificial Research Club, A.R.C. Our goal is to try to find answers as to why this world exist, why we were brought here and even..." The president's voice suddenly trailed off.
"To find a way to return to our world. To be normal again." Hideyoshi finished for him. I turned to look at him and saw on his face a terrible look of despair mixed with anger.
It was across all their faces. I suddenly felt worried.
"Still on about that, huh Takuya? You do know both of those things are an impossibility." Mitsuhide-senpai scoffed, but in his eyes, I could almost see tears.
He quickly wiped his eyes and continued. "If the whole population of the world is here in Artificial, then what will even be in our real world anymore? And normal.
Hah, do you really want to go back to being controlled like a damn puppet?"
"Senpai, you know that is not what I meant! You, of all people, who have it the worst should know!" Hideyoshi spat back.
The president slammed his fist on the table so hard, the entire room nearly shook. Everyone stopped fighting and stared at him.
"Why must you two always act like a bunch of god damn children?!" He growled angrily.
The two hung their heads in shame and looked away from each other.
The president turned his gaze back to me. His eyes were piercing and frightening. I had a hard time trying to keep contact and had to turn my head away from him.
"Takatora, I understand that all of this is very confusing and hard to take in. There are still many things that we can't fully explain yet, but know that all we have said is the truth.
Everything, as unbelievable as it sounds, is all true."
"I'm... I'm not doubting you. I have seen it with my own eyes and even..." I squeezed my right shoulder. "But it's still all so hard. I'm really struggling to understand all of this."
"Yes, that's why we have a request."
I looked back up in surprise and met his eyes. They were still frightening yet I could also see a strong determination. This made me felt nervous, yet I did not break contact this time.
"W-what will that be?" I asked in a timid voice.
"Please, join our club." His voice was calm yet commanding. The way he spoke, it does not seem as if he would take no as an answer.
"I... um... ah..." I stuttered as I tried to find words. I didn't know how to respond. To suddenly join this club would be...
"Kenjirou, it's a bit too soon for that don't you think?"
"What do you mean?"
"She just recovered. Asking her to join our club right when all that has happened is still fresh in her mind, just doesn't seem right."
"I agree! Not to mention the way you said it sounds more like a demand than a request." Hideyoshi interjected.
"Hmm..." The president placed his hand on his chin as he started to rethink his words.
"Even if... even if I join, why do you want me?" I nervously asked. "You say, you're a research club. That you're trying to find answers, to learn more about this world. But I'm...
I don't know anything about that. I can't help you. Especially since my arm... I..."
"No, that's not true. Takatora, you're very important."
"Do you remember when we first met? When you first broke free from Artificial's control?" He asked me.
"Y-yeah, what about it?" When he chased me and Asumi down? How could I forget?
"During that time, even though you had been freed, you were different. You were free yet you were not infected."
"Infected...? Wait, you said that before. You and Hideyoshi both said I have broken free, yet I was not yet infected.
You mean infected as in some sort of disease? But did you not mention that there is no such thing in this world?" I panicked.
"Mitsuhide, show them to her."
Senpai nodded his head as suddenly pictures popped up on the screens. I looked closely at them, trying to make out what they were.
They were x-rays, yet they look like nothing I have ever seen before. I could not make out any notable organs, almost as if it was the body of some alien creatures.
"What are these? Are these from some strange foreign animal?" I asked as I flipped through them in confusion.
"HA HA HA HA!! Did you hear that Takuya? She just called you a foreign animal!" Mitsuhide-senpai burst out laughing.
"Senpai, you said you wouldn't do this and was why I even agreed! Prez, do something!" Hideyoshi cried.
"Ahem, yes." He coughed as I watched him hid his face away. It almost seems as if he was trying not to laugh.
"Wait... this is Hideyoshi's x-rays?"
He blushed as he nodded his head.
"Oh... OH! I didn't mean to... oh god..." I clasped my hand over my mouth in horror. "W-w-what are you?!"
He gave a look of pain, as if wounded by my words.
"I am human..." He replied in a monotone voice.