"I have something to show you. Especially Ryuuko." Senpai said as he directed us somewhere.
The president and I followed his direction to a room on the third floor of the school.
"That's the third-year's home economics' lab. It seems it was supposed to be abandon for a newer one, assuming how it was copied from real life by Artificial, so there isn't anybody using it."
The president explained to me. "Mitsuhide said that he'll take over it and use it as his personal workshop."
"Workshop?" I asked, confused. But he doesn't have a body, how would he use it?
The moment we opened the door, we were greeted by the deafening sound of machinery.
All around us were strange yet familiar devices, from sewing machines buzzing about to a table full of metal being hammered by makeshift robotic arms, were moving nonstop.
"Wow..." I gasped as my eyes darted across the room to the fascinating sight.
"Oh? Impressed, are we Ryuuko? Well, that's to be expected." Senpai laughed.
"Senpai, this is amazing! It's like a small factory in here! But h-how...? How are you able to do all of this?" I asked.
“While Mitsuhide isn't able to move around without an electronic terminal, he is still able to jump into anything with an electrical outlet.” The president explained.
"Like sewing machines or computers and control them to an extent. He can also hack into anything within a network."
"Heh, yep. I'm freaking awesome like that. Within the electronic network, you can practically call me a living god. Hahaha!" He boosted, puffing out his chest with great pride.
"I can make anything, do anything and hack anything...although, that damn app. Tsk..."
"Were you able to discover anything?" I asked him.
"Unfortunately, no. That app is so messed up. I can't access it at all without getting hurt or worse. It really ticks me off." He grumbled. "Anyway, enough about that. Check it out!"
He directed us to a table in the near back of the room. Lying next to an assortment of machines and tools were sets of our school uniforms, as well as various gloves and shoes.
"I took your sizes and made some custom uniforms, as well as protective gears.
While there is little change in appearance, I tried to line them with a bit more protection by using metallic fibers in certain areas.
It is a little heavier, but not too much, and should be much more durable."
I ran my hand across the clothing. He was right. Although there was a sense of hardness different from normal clothing it still felt soft and flexible.
"Hmm...this would be very useful indeed." The president said as he inspected them.
“Right? Haha, you can count on me when it comes to this stuff.” He laughed. “They should all fit quite well, even for you Kenjirou. Also, check out these vests!”
I took what look like a bullet proof vest and tried it on. It was a little heavy, but it fit perfectly. Despite its look it was very comfortable to wear.
"It's almost as if I was wearing nothing at all." I replied with glee as I twirled around, marveling at the new clothes.
"Right? Isn't it awesome! Oh, don't forget to try these as well. These are undershirts that I designed and weaved with a special pattern.
They should be able to even stop the piercing of a sharpened blade!”
"Heck yeah it is! Oh, oh! I also have a bunch of these other..."
As I watched Senpai pull out more equipment, I couldn't help but giggled at his excitement. "It's really impressive he's able to do all of this. Senpai really is amazing."
"Despite his looks, Mitsuhide does work the hardest out of all of us. I don't think we would have gotten anywhere without him." The president chimed in with a smile.
"Ah shucks, you guys. I mean, I am pretty awesome and... Hey! The heck do you mean despite his looks?!"
"Since we got the defenses covered, I think we should move to the important stuff. Come on, take a look at these." Senpai said as he brought us to another table. It was full of cellular phones.
"What are all these?" I asked curiously.
"They are all cellphones I modified myself to be explosives." He replied proudly.
"Ryuuko, while no doubt you were doing well with those knives and such, it might be better if you used something like this instead."
"It is impossible to find things like grenades in Artificial.
Mitsuhide, by rigging the cellphones and overcharging their battery and systems, can cause them to be powerful bomb-like weapons on par with those explosives.
Although Mitsuhide, won’t you need to be inside to rig them?” The president asked with concern.
"Ah, that's the genius of all this. I made these to activate specifically without the need of me having to prime them beforehand.
While they still do move on my signal, as long as you turn them on and throw them, they work.
Of course, while I took care to make sure they won't cause any detriment to us as the users, you still have to be careful about the distance. They do pack quite a wallop." He explained.
"Is there a difference in the colors and the types of phones?" I asked as I look around.
The phones were all divided into sections, each having a different kind of color and different types of phones.
"Yes, I'm glad you asked. I experimented on various types and try to make a variety of explosives. The yellow ones, the flip phones, are charge bombs.
When activated, they discharge a burst of electricity to stun and fry anything within its range.
The red colored ones are firebombs, due to the lithium battery inside of them, they ignite and can stay ablaze, and those black pagers are..." He explained gleefully.
"Senpai is really into this, isn't he?" I whispered to the president.
"Yes, he loves doing the explanations. It's why I let him do the talking when we need to, although there are risks, like as we were with you before." The president sighed.
"Anyway, I made them so they would be easily accessible, especially for you Ryuuko. You should take a few and test them out later if you can."
"T-thank you. I'll keep that in mind." I laughed nervously.
"Kenjirou you too. Just make sure you don't crush them, with those big hands of yours."
"Yes, thank you Mitsuhide."
"Now, it's time to move on to the main reason I brought you here."
"Eh? There's more?!" I cried out in surprise.
"Of course! You thought those little things were what I wanted to show you? No, no. Now come and behold!" He declared as we laid our eyes on a mysterious box he brought out.
I stepped back in surprise upon opening the box and witnessing what Senpai had in store for us.
Inside the box was what seemed to be a hand pistol, although it look strange and different from any I have seen before.
"Mitsuhide, you...you made a gun?!" The president cried out in shock.
It was small, looking as if it could easily be covered if I wrapped my had around it, and looked almost crudely made.
What's more, rather than an actual gun barrel, there was instead something that oddly looked like metal rods fashioned on two ends with various metal coiling wires wrapped around,
and a screen from a touchphone on the back.
"Cool, huh? But, actually this is a..."
"A coilgun!" I gasped.
"Oh? I'm surprise you know what it is Ryuuko." Senpai replied with amusement.
"I've read about it before in books. Using electromagnetism through multiple coils, it supercharges its projectile like a sort of accelerator to fire it at high speed.
But I've never seen a real one before." I said as I picked it up carefully and held it in my hand. The gun was a perfect fit, and very light weight.
"W-wow! You're exactly right. Haha, I'm glad you know so much about it. Saves me the long explanation about how it works." He chuckled, almost sounding disappointed.
"So this was the secret project you've told us you've been working on. I'm impressed you finally finished it." The president said. "Does it work?"
"Well, I just finished it and haven't fully tested it yet. It's still a prototype and I'm not 100% sure on if it will fully function as I want it to." He replied as he scratched his head.
"But this one, I made specifically with someone like Ryuuko in mind."
"Huh? How so?" I asked curiously, while still inspecting the gun.
"Well, since Kenjirou won't be able to use it due to those meat mittens of his and Takuya preferring to rely more on his blades, the only one who could find a use of it is you, Ryuuko.
I'm handing it to you so you can have a more ease to use weapon. It's why I modeled the handle to fit your hand." He replied with delight.
"Is that so? Well, no wonder it fits so well. It almost feel like a natural part of my body." I said happily as I aimed it about.
"But what will you use for projectiles? A coilgun this small will be limited to the ammunitions it can have. From the look of it, it's more of a pea shooter.
The only things that might fit would be small rocks but I'm not sure if they could be charged enough to be fired and could jam." I asked him.
"True, true. That's why I'm sticking with size AAA batteries. Check the grip underneath."
I quickly flipped the gun around and popped open the bottom. It seems it was designed as a magazine slot.
"I've organized the batteries into magazines to allow for quick firing. Due to the weight of them, each can only hold about... 6 shots.
Although, since you only have one arm you might have to holster it first before you can pop them in.
I haven't finished that yet, but I should be able to make a holster that fits best for you by later today, as well as have the ammunition ready. "
"I see. It'll be very useful." I beamed happily.
"Sorry to interrupt but Mitsuhide, if you're going to be using batteries as projectiles wouldn't it be dangerous? Couldn't it explode within the gun?"
The president suddenly asked with concern as he adjusted his glasses. "And also, Takatora, have you ever fired a gun before?"
"Ah...no, never." I replied meekly.
“Yet you know so much about how it works. Ha, it was the same with the knives too.
Despite you saying you never held one before, you got even Takuya praising you for being able to handle them so well.”
“He did?” The president’s eye widen in surprise. “That’s intriguing!”
“J-just a little...”
“Are you sure you're actually not some weapons fanatic?” Senpai joked.
“Of course not, Senpai! I just... I just read a lot of it in books and tend to pick up information about them here and there.”
My face turned red from embarrassment, as I shy away from their gaze while playing with my hair.
“Well anyway, going back to the gun, even if Ryuuko had never fired a gun before there is no need to worry. In fact, she doesn’t have to even worry about firing it at all.
Ah yes, that’s the beauty of this baby. The one who’ll be firing this weapon is going to be me!”
“Huh?!” We both cried out in surprise. What in the world does he mean?
“The design of this weapon is that there is a terminal inside. I've included features of a cellphone so I can even pop out a live chat.
It is of course impossible to perfectly calibrate the coils automatically to be working as it is supposed to, due to the limited resources we had,
and to normally generate the sufficient power needed to properly operate each coil accurately, so I’m going to have to personally handle it from the inside.
So by using me as the operator within,”
“You can perfectly charge and time each of the coil, so that each shot will fire without trouble or delay.” I finished for him.
“Yes! Yes! Heh, wow. It’s kind of nice to finally have someone who can understand.” He chuckled. “And the batteries won’t explode until it fires out. I’ll make sure of that.”
“Operating within, then does that mean you’re going to be staying in the gun at all times?” The president asked.
“I’m still going to be handling the rest of our equipment with my system, but yep. For the most part, I’m going to be specifically sticking with Ryuuko.” He declared.
“Eh?! Y-you are? Crap...” I blurted out, before quickly catching myself.
“What was that?” Senpai asked, a sudden shift in his tone of voice.
“Umm...errr...” I scrambled to find a way to explain, but my mind was drawing a blank as I saw the change in the look on his face.
“Ryuuko, do you not like that idea?”
“Wha...no! No, not at all Senpai! I think it would be...umm...” I fumbled as I spoke, slowly backing away from him.
“Because from the sound of it, it’s almost as if you would preferred against it.”
I tried to think of an excuse, but as his eyes glared at me through the screen I felt that no matter what I say it would not matter.
There was no point in dragging this out, as I resigned myself.
“Senpai... please don’t take this the wrong way, but you make me uncomfortable.” I sighed as I finally allowed the words to leave my mouth.
He was silent as his face changed from anger to a look of surprise. As if he had not expected those words, I watched as he was about to open his mouth only to close it again without uttering anything.
“... I see.” He finally said, sounding dejected.
“Umm... please don’t be mad. It’s just, I’m not used to such “familiarity”. I... I think you’re a, errr... nice person, but it’s just...just...”
“No, I understand. You’re feeling awkward around me, especially after what happened a few days ago. It’s fine. I guess, I have been a bit too overly friendly to you, a stranger and an underclassman.”
There was a sad look in his eyes as he turned away from me.
“Mitsuhide, I’m sure she doesn’t mean any offens-” The president finally tried to interject.
“You know, I’m still super busy today. Why don’t you guys go back to as you were and let me finishmy work here. Kenjirou, Takatora, I’ll see you two later.” He said, suddenly speaking to me in a more formal manner.
“Umm... Senpai!” I tried to protest, but felt a giant hand on my shoulder. Looking back, I saw president shaking his head as he signaled us to leave.
“Mitsuhide, we’ll leave you to it then.”
We watched the door slide closed in front of us and heard a click, as Senpai promptly kicked us out.
“I really didn’t mean to upset him like that. President, I’m sorry.” I said.
“Hmph... please don’t take it too hard. It’s not your fault.” He reassured.
“Even so, I’m not sure if I should have said those things.” I hung my head in shame as I tried to find words to explain myself.
“Do you dislike Mitsuhide?” The president suddenly asked.
“No! Of course not!” I quickly replied. “However, I can’t say I like him either.”
“I see...” As the president spoke I caught a glimpse of a sad look on his face. It was only for a moment, before he noticed my staring and promptly looked away from me as he adjusted his glasses.
“Mitsuhide is quite sensitive when it comes to things like this. He’s a good person, but it is not to say he doesn’t leave a certain impression on people.
“Is that so?”
“Ahem, I hope that you will be able to look past his faults. But, it’s not to say I don’t understand how you feel about him. Now then, Let’s go back to the clubroom.”
“Y-yes.” I replied as I followed closely behind.
As I thought about what he said, I felt guilty. Not just about Senpai, but to the others as well.
The A.R.C., this research club; even now I still haven’t given them a reply on the matter of joining.
As I calmly thought about everything, I found that I still knew nothing about any of them. Of the president, of Hideyoshi, of Mitsuhide-senpai.
Yet, as I am thrown into all of this I could not help but drag them all with me.
Artificial, this fake world. That strange person, Alma. That other place outside they called “Eden”.
Everything felt like a mess as I desperately tried to understand it all, but is only met with more confusion. However, there is one thing I can confirm as I tried to wrap my head around all this;
It’s that I’m useless. That I could do nothing on my own.
And I hate it.