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Week 3: Beat (Day 5 to Day7)

Jun. 18th, 2008 | 06:03 pm

N: This is…the scramble? Another day’s gone by…

B: Bwaaah! Crap, man! Crap crap crap!

N: All right! Pipe down.

B: How’m I supposed to pipe down, yo? It’s Day 5! Where the hell is Ironface hidin’, man!?

N: Relax. We’ve still got three days.

B: We ONLY got three days, yo! An’ I got less than you, remember? We ain’t gonna make it! I still gotta get Rhyme back, then we gotta bet the Composer… Plus that WALL is blockin’ our way to the Shibuya River! An’ there might be more past it!

N: …… Well, one thing at a time. First: calm down.

B: Aight! Fine.

N: That Lv. 4 keypin we got yesterday--what does it open?

B: Kariya’s key? Udagawa.

N: All right. Let’s search there today.

B: Fine. The Iron Witch cost us two days. I ain’t losin’ anotha’ one. No draggin’ your ass. We gotta dash, man!

*talk to Ai and Mina on Center Street*

Mina: ……To right the countless wrongs of our day, we shine this light of true redemption,

Ai: that this place may become as paradise. What a wonderful world such would be…

*in Tipsy Tose hall*

B: Dammit! Where she at?

N: Take it easy! You’re just gonna tire yourself out.

B: Like I care, yo! Shoutin’ is the only thing keepin’ me calm!

N: You always run on full blast, huh?

B: Not even close, man. Only since comin’ to the UG.

N: Yeah?

B: When I was alive, I took everythin’ at my own pace.

N: YOU?

B: Yeah. I wasn’t crazy about nothin’. Tha’s why my folks always bitched at me. “You gotta get into a good school! You gotta think about your future!” All they wanted was results, man. Like I really give a crap, you know?

N: Yeah… I think I do.

B: They kept expectin’ stuff I ain’t got, then made me feel like trash when I didn’t give it. They’d say, “Why can’t you be like your sister?” I hated it.

N: ……

B: So I quit tryin’ altogether. Give up on myself, so my folks would, too. And the funny thing is, they did. Not Rhyme, though. Yo, I could rob a bank and she’d still be there for me. She always had the right words. “I know you have a dream,” she’d say. “You just haven’t dreamed it yet.” ……But it got old--bein’ pitied by my lil’ sister. So I started to push her away--right up to the day we died.

N: …… But you’ve GOT a dream. Rhyme said you wanted to be world’s best skater.

B: That was all jus’ made-up, man.

N: Made-up? Why would you--

B: Rhyme was beatin’ herself up. Said she had no dreams. “Why come back to life if I’ve got nothing to live for?” she said. Damn, yo! Tha’s all backwards…She’s the one who had a million reasons to live!

N: ……

B: I realized somethin’ then. Rhyme’s all I got left. So I said to myself, I gotta find the words, like she did for me. Tell her her dreams are coming, just like mine did…even if that’s just a big lie. …But all I did is fool her into thinkin’ I’m worth dyin’ for. I’m an idiot, man. I waited too long to realize what she meant to me. I’m nothin’ but an IDIOT!

N: Beat… You’re definitely an idiot. A huge idiot.

B: Whatchu say!?

N: Why would you let your ‘rents push you down like that? That’s not the Beat I know. Don’t go the distance for other people. Do it for yourself.

B: Huh?

N: Like you’re doing right now. Just go as far as you can go. The “results” will come later. Right?

B: Phones…

N: I’m sorry about Rhyme. But what’s done is done. Focus on the now. She wouldn’t want you wasting energy on regret.

B: ……

N: Why do you think she stuck by you? She knew you could do anything you put your mind to. Anyway… I’m lucky. How many idiots have the stones to screw over the Reapers and help the underdog?

B: Neku…

N: You’re an idiot, so start acting like one. Don’t you turn into a deep thinker on me…yo.

B: ……Pfft… Bwa ha ha! You said it, man! I ain’t the sentimentious type! Aaaaaaight! I feel much better, yo! Jus’ wait! I’m gonna send everybody home! Rhyme an’ Shiki…an’ that Joshua kid…an’ of course YOU, man.

N: All right, then.

B: Hoooooo! I am so fulla fight! Time to win this Game and change the world! Hey… Check it out. A Reaper!

Black Reaper: ……

N: Wait, why isn’t he attacking?

B: Maybe he don’t see us.

N: Hmm… It might be a trap. Watch yourself.

B: Aight! Yo!

BR: ……

B: Yo, outta the way!

BR: ……

B: You wanna fight, punk?

BR: ……

B: The hell, man! Is he deaf?

N: Something’s definitely wrong.

BR: ……Urrrg…To right the countless wrongs of our day, we shine this light of true redemption--

N: Huh?

B: Guy’s trippin’, yo.

BR: --that this place may become as paradise. What a wonderful world such would be…

B: Yo, who broke this guy’s antenna?

N: Look out! He’s coming for us!

*fight*

B: Yo, wassup with him?

N: No idea. But I’m pretty sure he wasn’t in control.

B: Neku, man, you notice somethin’? Town’s awful quiet, yo.


N: …… Yeah… Too quiet.

B: Le’s try scannin’. See if we can figure somethin’ out.

N: All right.

B: What the--

N: They’re all…they’re all thinking the same thing!

BG: To right the countless wrongs of our day, we shine this light of true redemption, that this place may become as paradise. What a wonderful world such would be… ……

N: Even him!

B: No way, man. I mean, this is crazy, ain’t it?

N: (What’s happening to Shibuya?)

B: Neku, look! They still got on them pins!

N: ……

B: Huh? Wait, hold up… Bwaaah! Of course! Yo, man, I think I finally get it!

N: Get what?

B: The Composer! I know who he is! It’s CAT, yo!

N: No, it’s not.

B: Huh? Whatchu mean, “no”!? How can you be so sure? It’s gotta be CAT, no matter how you slice it. The Player Pins… The Red Skull pins… They all the same design, yo. The same guy!

N: But CAT is Mr. Hanekoma. CAT saved your life!

B: Hanekoma… You mean King a’ Coffee? No way, yo! He’s CAT!? Then that makes him--

N: Stop! Mr. H can’t be the composer, all right!?

B: A-aight, man. Sorry… So, umm…I’m getting kinda confused, yo. You sure Coffee Man’s CAT? I mean, how would you know that?

N: Joshua told me. And I believe him.

B: The prissy kid you was with? Sure you can trust him?

N: He was my partner. I trust my partners.

B: Then I hate to tell you, man, but… Hanekoma’s the--

N: Joshua was looking for the Composer. Same reason as you. And Mr. H was helping him.

B: So, like…he was helpin’ out the kid who was tryin’ to whack him? I dunno, yo. I beat the H-Man was just playin’ priss-kid.

N: But he told me! “Expand your horizons! Enjoy the moment!” The exact opposite of what’s happening around us. This Shibuya isn’t Shibuya at all… He’d never do this!

B: Hmm… Sounds like you’re reachin’ to me. ……ARRRRGH! I suck at this analystical crap, yo. All I know is that Shibuya’s messed up, and the Composer’s the one doin’ all the messin’. Whoever he is, I’m takin him out!

N: ……

B: Now le’s haul ass while there’s still time!

*in Shibu Q Heads*

B: Bwaaah! More of ‘em? Think they’ve still got a full deck?

*heading towards Udagawa*

Black Reaper: ……

B: Y-yo…whatchu want, man?

BR: ……

N: We’re surrounded!

BR2: To right the countless wrongs of our day, we shine this light of true redemption…

BR: That this place may become as paradise. What a wonderful world such would be… ……

B: Dammit! We gotta fight, yo!

*fight*

B: Huff…huff…Did we get ‘em all?

N: Yeah…

B: What the hell they want, man? All that redumption garbage… I don’t get it, yo.

N: …… (It’s not just the streets. The Reapers are acting weird, too. What’s causing the UG and RG to change like this?) …… (Is it really them? The pins?)

B: Yo, Neku! Snap out of it, yo! We gotta find Ironface!

N: All right…

*heading towards Udagawa*

N: What the hell?

B: Wall’s busted up.

N: Like something came crashing through from the other side.

B: But this wall’s Lv. 4, yo! Nobody could smash through this. Not even the top brass, man.

N: Then what did?

B: Whatever, le’s move.

N: Hey! Hang on! It could be dangerous!

B: But what if Ironface is back there?

N: All right… But stay alert. It could be a trap.

*examine artwork in Udagawa*

Beat: The hell is this?

N: It looks like burn marks. (This place… This is where the Grim Heaper was messing around. )

B: No sign of Ironface. Le’s just someplace else!

N: Hang on! We should check this out.

B: How, yo?

N: I’m gonna take a picture with my phone.

*one day ago*

N: This looks like the last time I saw it. Nothing out of the ordinary. Hmm, let me try another picture…

*two days ago*

N: This looks like the last time I saw it. Nothing out of the ordinary. Hmm, let me try another picture…

*four days ago*

N: No way!

B: What? Yo, lemme see it! Coffee Man!? That’s him, ain’t it?

N: Mr. H…

B: What was he doin’ out here, man?

N: (Why…)

B: See, I told you he was fishy!

N: (Why would you come here? It doesn’t make sense. This can’t be you, Mr. H… ……) Let’s pay his café a visit.

B: Huh? Whatchu talkin’ about, man? We gotta find Ironface first!

N: Mr. H’s place is on Cat Street. We haven’t checked there yet.

B: I get it. Two stones wid one bird! Then le’s get movin’!

N: Mr. H… ……

*leaving Udagawa*

Uzuki: ……

B: Yo, look.

U: ……

B: Huh? Wassup with you guys?

N: Stop! Don’t get any closer! They’re not themselves.

Kariya: ……

U: To right the countless wrongs of our day, we shine this light of true redemption,

K: that this place may become as paradise. What a wonderful world such would be…

B: Yo, snap out of it, fools!

N: Dammit! Not them, too…

B: What the hell is goin’ ON!?

N: They’re coming our way!

*fight*
 

N: Huff…huff…That should…stop them… Beat, let’s finish this.

B: W-wait, man. Please. Cut ‘em some slack!

N: Slack? They’re just gonna attack us again!

B: I know! I know…but… They ain’t bad. I can feel it, yo. They jus’ screwy, like everybody else.

N: Well, they’re definitely acting different from yesterday. But if you’re wrong--

B: If they try to attack us again…I’ll erase ‘em myself, I swear.

N: ……All right, it’s a deal. Huh? Look there. Red Skull pins?

B: Yo, they the ones the RG folks all got on… How come Team Lolly’s got ‘em?

N: Yeah… They’re Reapers.

B: I thought the Reapers was supposed to be wearin’ them O-Pins. Hey, you think they the same thing?

N: I dunno… Anyway, let’s make tracks before these two wake up.

B: Good call, man… Le’s bounce.

*end of day 5, week 3*

N: Hey… This is…The scramble!? Another day has passed?

B: Aww…HELL no! This can’t be happenin’, man! What day is it?

N: Hey, calm down!

B: It’s Day 6! Nooo!

N: Calm down, I said! We’ve still got time.

B: CRAAAAAAP!!!

N: Hey, we don’t have time for nervous breakdowns!

B: Yo, I’m only human! If the Iron Maiden was tellin’ the truth, today’s the day I get ghost for real, man!

N: ……We still have to try.

B: Yeah?

N: Let’s go see Mr. Hanekoma.

B: Where--Oh! Duh! Cat Street.

N: We haven’t looked around there yet.

B: Aight, sweet! Ironface is gonna be there. I feel it, yo! I ain’t goin’ without a fight! C’mon!

N: (Mr. H…I need to get the whole story--find out for sure he’s not the Composer. But how do I ask him THAT?)

B: Move move move move move move move muh-WOOOVE!!!

N: All right, I’m moving!

*heading into Center street*

Black Reaper: ……

B: What the--

BR: To right the countless wrongs of our day, we shine this light of true redemption, that this place may become as paradise. What a wonderful world such would be…

N: Here he comes!

*fight*

B: You hearin’ this, yo? What’s all that babblin’ about?

N: ……

*this same conversation above happens quite a few times… on the way to Cat Street*

*heading towards Cat Street from Miyashita Park*

N: What?

B: Whoa, man. An’ I thought the last one was busted up.

N: Whoever it was headed for Cat Street.

B: Then it musta been the H-Man. …Returnin’ to his lair!

N: Look, stop imagining things. It’s pointless. Once we talk to him, this will all clear right up.

B: Aight, man. But le’s hurry.

*Another possessed Black Reaper conversation*

*in the WildKat*

N: What the hell!?

B: Who redecorated? This place is trashed, yo. You think Coffee Man did this?

N: Why would he wreck his own shop? Maybe he was attacked.

B: Man, I don’t get none a’ this!

N: This place is deserted…

B: I’m so sick a’ this! I mean, what’s goin’ on, yo?

N: The wall-break was after Mr. H.

B: Ironface? You think she smashed it up?

N: No. She said she would stay in one place all week. If she was here, she couldn’t have smashed those other walls.

B: Who, then?

N: You got me. Somebody else.

B: Yo, we need to find a clue.

N: ……Of course! The camera!

B: What, that thing you used yesterday? What is it?

N: It lets me take pictures of the past.

B: Whoa! Tha’s badass, man!

N: …… (Two days ago, the Miyashita Park wall was still up. Which means whatever happened here took place--)

B: Yo, lemme snap somethin’!

N: Huh? Hey-- Wait, don’t-- STOP!

B: Huh? Yo, Neku. I think it’s broken.

N: …… The camera only works three times a day.

B: Huh? Wait, so that means--

N: Three pictures a day.

B: Bwaaah! Say somethin’ sooner, man!

N: Yeah, ‘cause I had all that time to react.

B: Maaan… I didn’t get nothin’. What a waste of--WHOA! Yo, Neku, check it!

N: Hey, that’s… Mr. H.

B: What’s he doin’? Hidin’ somethin’ ?

N: Let’s check over there.

B: Yo, it’s a keypin!

N: A keypin? For what?

B: I ain’t never seen this one before, man.

N: Well, we’ve already checked everywhere…except one place! The Shibuya River!

B: Tha’s gotta be where the Iron Maiden is! She picked a wall we couldn’t break! I knew she was sneaky, yo!

N: …… Hey, something’s in the envelope. A letter…From Mr. H? “Staying alive in this Shibuya boils down to one simple trick: Enjoy the moment with all your might…whether it’s gloomy, whether it’s bright!” …Well, it’s pretty damn gloomy right now. Mr. H….

B: Yo, he left us the letter an’ keypin for a reason. He wants us to go to the River, huh?

N: ……

B: Aight, then! Hoooooo! What are we waitin’ for? Le’s find Ironface, rescue Rhyme, and knock the Composer flat!

N: (Go to the River? It’s more than that. Why does Mr. H even have the key? What does he want me to do with it? Is he sending me to the River…or calling me there? And for what purpose? Why, Mr. H? )

*More possessed Black Reaper conversations*

*in Cadoi City*

N: What’s up?

B: The hell is that heap of garbage!?

N: Heap? …No! What’s this junk doing back--

Minamimoto: Miss me much? You hollow-skulled hectopascal!

N: The Grim Heaper!

B: Hecto-whatcha-huh? What language is this guy speakin’?

N: You’re ALIVE?

M: Zetta duh! I’ve been calculating this from square one. That attack I used to bake your partner, I used for a reason.

N: Your…your body!

M: Hmph, this? This is my latest masterpiece. I call it: “Myself”!

B: Punk’s turned himself Taboo, yo!

M: The attack I used erased me, yes…

N: (But you’re back…)

M: But I was refactored, through the refinery sigil, into…this! This body, this power…all through the magic of Taboo psycho-animation!

N: So YOU made those burn marks.

M: And now, this number-cruncher is back…with power that rivals even the Composer’s!

B: You gotta be jokin’! That’s why you Tabooed yourself up? Have some sense, yo…

M: Sense is garbage! CRUNCH! I’ll add it to the heap! All that matters is MY beauty. Being reborn from the sigil was part of my equation. This… “Tabooing myself up” was unexpected. …But it works. I’ll make an imposing new Composer!

N: Wait…You went to WildKat!

M: Yeah. That set was empty, though. Rrgh…Where’d he run off to? You know, don’t you! Tell me!

N: We have no idea!

M: In that case…who needs you? Attention, 000s! It’s time for you to die 4 a cause…Mine!

*fight*

B: Nggh…The hell does this guy eat? He’s so powerful!

M: Heh heh… Slabs Of Ham, Celery And Horseradish, Tons Of Asparagus. I’d say that’s about enough calibration… This time, Composer… You fail!

B: Yo, where you goin’!? C’mon, man, we gotta go after him! What if he beats us there?

N: Don’t worry. He doesn’t know where “there” is. Besides, we’ve got the key to the River. He’s stuck either way.

B: Aight, then. But man…That punk was TOUGH.

N: Well, we better deal. He said his power rivals the Composer’s. What does that tell you about the Composer?

B: Yo, that’s nuts. …You really think he’s that tough? We better be able to win, yo.

N: You gonna give up if we can’t?

B: Hells no! I’m goin’…I’M GOIN’! Hooooooooo!

N: (The River… The Composer… Mr. H. I better be ready for what I find.)

*end of Day 2, week 3*

N: Hey… The scramble again!?

B: Dammit! We lost anotha’ day, man!

N: So it’s Day 7... Whoa! Dude, your hands!

B: N-naw, man…I’ma hold myself together! I can’t fade away now! Rhyme needs me! I ain’t goin’ up in smoke till I save her! Yo! Neku… I, uh… I don’t got much time.

N: I know. Let’s hurry over to the Shibuya River!

B: Aight! Today we put an end to all a’ this!

*another possessed Black Reaper conversation*

*getting ready to enter the Trail of the Sinner*

N: The wall’s busted!

B: No way, man… You sayin’ that guy made a Tabooty call? Then he knows the Composer’s here! This is bad, yo. He’s gonna beat us there!

N: Calm down. First we have to find the GM. If we don’t save Rhyme--

B: I know! Ironface… We gotta find Ironface!

N: (Not much of a river… Still, Joshua was bent on coming here. To see the Composer? To see Mr. H?)

B: Hey, le’s pick up the pace!

N: Yeah.

*in the Trail of The Sinner*

N: What? Mail, now?

B: Huh?

N: “Konishi wields shadow and illusion. You’ll find only lies with the naked eye. During battle she always hides in the white darkness. Begin by casting Taboo Noise into the heart of chaos. Then, once you find where she truly lurks, your real battle will begin. P.S. Beware of shadows.” What a weird mail.

B: Did Ironface send it?

N: What, to say, “Here’s how to beat me”?

B: Right. Who, then?

N: I dunno.

B: Well, we better keep movin’, man.

N: Yeah.

*in the Rubicon*

Minamimoto: Sooo zetta slow!

N: Y-you!

M: What the factor took so long?

B: It’s Tabooty!

N: Damn. We don’t have time for this…

B: Move! You ain’t what matters!

M: FOIL! First, Outer, Inner, Last! And this is the last stop. Not even I can break the barrier ahead. Her Iron Frostiness put it up.

N: She’s here?

B: Dammit! I knew it! Tha’s jus’ like her, yo. Hidin’ like a coward jus’ outta reach!

M: Stupid hectopascals! She’s not through here.

N: Huh?

B: Then where, yo!?

M: You zetta morons! You haven’t noticed? She’s been with you…

Konishi: …The whooole time.

*cutscene*

N: Behind you!

B: You you you you you you was hidin’ in my shadow!?

K: I didn’t expect to have to reveal myself like this. By my forecasts, you two should have been erased yesterday. Speaking of anomalies…Mr. Minamimoto.

M: Heh! I’m only here ‘cause your barrier’s blocking me out.

K: Unforeseen circumstances aside…my plans are proceeding without a hitch. You’ve yielded far more data than even I projected.

B: Shut it, Ironface--an’ gimme back Rhyme, yo!

K: an’ gimme back Rhyme, yo!

B: Huh? Why you copyin’ what I say!?

K: Like I said, you’ve yielded so much data. See the power of foresight?

M: Hey, who gives a digit? Hurry up and open this barrier before I turn you into Shibuya River sludge.

K: All right. I’ll remove the barrier…under one condition.

M: Yeah? What’re you scheming this time?

K: When you become Composer…I want you to make me your Conductor. Otherwise, the barrier stays.

M: Heh! You’re double-crossing Megs?

K: Analysis shows that Shibuya is heading toward an untimely end. If revolution is upon us, then who has the highest probability of surviving the ensuing chaos? A free spirit. You.

M: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally! I zetta dig your style! You and me think alike. Fear ‘n’ mercy are garbage! All right! You got yourself a deal.

K: Then I’ll take care of the barrier.

M: Attention, binomials of the UG! Introducing your new Composer… His name…is ME!

B: Yo, where you think you goin’!?

K: Ah ah ahhh. I’m afraid I can’t let you take one step further.

N: You’d betray the Composer?

K: Betray? I simply choose to align with the man in charge. It hardly matters who.

N: What?

K: As far as I’m concerned, anyone could be the Composer. Suppose Minamimoto fails. By then, Kitaniji will have sustained serious injuries in the process of protecting the Composer--at which point I could finish him in a heartbeat.

B: So everybody’s jus’ a pawn to you.

K: NO matter how this ends, I will be Conductor.

N: Scheming witch…

K: When the Composer started requiring O-Pins, I knew the UG revolution had already begun.

N: Then what’s going IS his fault.

K: I don’t presume to know the Composer’s true intentions. But I intend to outlive this chaos.

N: (She chucked the pin?)

K: These “O-Pins”… They’re fakes. Wear them, and you’re finished.

N: (I knew it…)

K: I have a better pin in my deck.

N: Rhyme!

B: Heh! Tha’s what you think!

K: Please. Spare yourself the embarrassment. My analyses are never wrong.

B: Oh yeah? Then wha’s wid the “unforeseen circumstances”? Sounds like you can’t predict jack, yo. ‘Sides you missin’ something’ hella crucial.

K: I beg your pardon?

B: Next Composer gonna be ME, yo! And I ain’t never makin’ a punk like you one a’ my men! So suck on that, yo!

K: Me? Work for you? Hee hee… Ha ha ha ha! You vexatious monkey! You’re right. No analysis could ever plumb the depths of your fatuity.

B: Heh heh. Damn right!

N: Uh, dude… She’s making fun of you.

B: WHAT!?

K: It’s YOUR fault I didn’t pick up on Shibuya’s changes sooner!

B: You so busy thinkin’ wid your head, you forgot to pay attention wid your heart!

K: Arrrgh! Enough of your chimp-speak! I will obliterate any disruptive elements in my path!

B: Yo, Neku… I got her pissed at me now. While she comes at me, you snag Rhyme! I ain’t a Reaper no more, so I can’t free Rhyme from the pin. But you… …… Anyway, if…if I don’t make it, take care a’--

N: Screw you. I’m not bringing Rhyme back to life. That’s your job! I’ll snag her pin if I get the chance, but…the rest is you.

B: Heh. Aight, man, you said it. Then le’s do this thing!

*fight*

K: How… An error in my analysis? Impossible…

N: Sucks for you.

K: How could you have risen above my projections? You’re not a Reaper! How did you summon that Noise!?

N: …… Like I know! And she’s not a Noise! She’s our friend, Rhyme!

K: Grrff… All of this…on account of that stupid chimp! If only I’d destroyed him!

N: I don’t think any of us can predict what Beat will do. (I mean, look at him.)

B: Rhyme… Rhyme, RHYME! I’m so sorry. This is all my fault… I’ll never let you go again! Jus’ you wait. I’m gonna give you that second chance, I swear!

K: Hee hee… What a touching reunion. But ponder this: would your sister care as much about you in return? We took her love for you… It was your entry fee.

B: You what!?

K: Your sister’s memories of you: they were YOUR entry fee. Hers was something else. You must not have been very dear to her.

B: What…

K: Hee hee… That look on your face. It’s just…as I pre…dicted…

B: Rhyme’s memories of me was MY entry fee? Then what was hers, yo? …… Screw it, I ain’t got time to think! We gotta push ahead!

N: Right. Huh? Mail…

B: From who?

N: “See you in the Composer’s chamber.”

B: Yo… You think it’s…

N: …… (Mr. H?)

B: Yo, Neku! Le’s move!

N: Right…

*heading towards Trail of the Bygone*

N: The Composer must be ahead. Once we go on, I don’t think we can come back.

B: Well, I ain’t sittin’ out here. You ready, man?

*Go on anyway*

B: Aight! Full speed ahead!

*halfway through Trail of the Bygone*

N: Wait!

B: Wha’s wrong, yo?

N: Behind us… Something’s coming.

Shiki: Ohhh… What is this place? It’s so dark…and spooky…And stinky.

N: Shiki…Shiki!!!

S: Whoa! Neku? Beat!?

N: What are you doing here!?

S: I woke up here all by myself.

B: Yo, does that mean we won the Game? Like, the Iron Maiden was the las’ boss?

N: (But if I won the Game, why hasn’t Shiki come back to life? Did the Reapers trick me? Or--)

S: So where are we? Are we all alive again?

N: No, not yet. This is the Shibuya River…in the UG.

S: The UG? But why!? I’m supposed to be alive…

N: …You can blame me. They made you my entry fee. I’m sorry…

S: Huh? I was your entry fee? Then… Wh-whoa! So I’m your…I’m the… Whaaat? Oh, NEKU… Talk about embarrassing… I mean, this isn’t like you at all!

N: That’s ‘cause you haven’t seen me in two weeks. You missed a lot. And I mean a lot, Shiki.

S: Well… Look on the bright side. If we’re together now, you must’ve won…right? Now we can both come back to life.

N: Not yet.

S: What? Why not?

N: We beat the Game Master. But I haven’t been taken to that white room.

B: Prob’ly ‘cause we been breakin’ rules left an’ right.

N: I’m pretty sure the Game is null and void.

S: Null and--But what about our lives!?

B: There still might be a way, yo--if I become the next Composer!

S: How does that work?

B: I gotta take down the guy with the job now.

S: Hmm…I see.

N: You don’t seem surprised.

S: Not really. You both look so serious.

N: ……

S: So I guess that must be the only way.

B: Don’t worry, yo! I’ma pull this thing off!

S: I know, Beat. Let’s not waste any time, then!

N: (If the Composer stands between me and life…then he has to go. I…I have to do it.)

S: Neku, let’s go!

N: Yeah, coming…

*coming upon a junk heap*

S: Look! There’s something there.

N: One of Pi-Face’s heaps?

B: Le’s check it out.

S: Omigosh! There’s a person under there!

B: Yo, look who it is!

N: The Grim Heaper got…crunched.

B: No way, man… This guy was tough as bricks! Who coulda done this to him? You think…Shades!? Could he a’ done this?

N: I dunno. But whoever it was must have been more powerful.

B: But, like…yo! We lucky, right?

S: Don’t be so morbid!

B: But we don’t gotta beat him now!

S: No. Just the other guy who’s stronger.

B: Details, yo. I’m tellin’ ya, we lucky!

N: ……

B: Now le’s keep goin’!

N: What happened here?

*heading towards the Dead God’s pad*

S: Whew… This door just screams “endgame.”

B: We almost there, Rhyme. Hang on jus’ a little longer.

N: ……

S: Neku, you all right? You look pale.

N: ….I’ll be OK. Come on.

*in the Dead God’s pad*

N: Is this the Composer’s pad?

B: Wait… I know this place….

Meg: Welcome, Players. Ex-Players, that is. Your Game has ended. Now you are simply Dead.

S: It’s him…

B: Whatchu doin’ here, Shades!?

N: Where’s the Composer?

M: Oh, is that why you’re here? And why would you kids want to meet the Composer?

B: Whatchu think, man? We gonna take him down!

M: Not a chance. You’re not even fit to look upon Him.

B: Whatchu say?

M: The Composer’s utmost concern is mankind’s happiness. He exists to shepherd the human race toward the right future, and thus all His Acts are motivated by boundless love. You think egotists like yourselves have the right to lay your eyes--let alone a finger--on a being so far above you? You’re not even on the same plane!

B: Yo, I don’t get a word you sayin’, but you ain’t stoppin’ me! I’m gonna take his place, and bring everybody back to life.

M: You see! That self-serving rubbish is the root of all pain!

B: What?

M: Egotism--disregard for others--has caused Shibuya’s downfall. And now the Composer must rebuild from scratch! None may stand in the way of that noble goal!

S: Nngh…Gahhh!

N: Shiki?

S: ……

N: She’s not answering…

B: You bastard! What did you do to Shiki?

*fight*

N: Got him!

M: I see now why He picked you… Unnngh…

B: Aight, yo! Composer’s next!

N: But Shiki--Nngh!

B: Wh-what the hell?

S: ……

B: Shiki? Damn… She don’t recognize us!

N: Why can’t she--(Wait. She has one on, too. If I break it…)

B: It’s no good, man! Girl be tryin’ to kills us! We outta options. Shiki… Forgive me!

N: Stop! Don’t you touch her!

B: Stupid… Behind you!

*cutscene*

N: Huff…huff… That should…stop Shiki… I was right. It was the pin. The Composer-- Mr. H’s pin. Hey! Beat! Wake up! Damn… He took the brunt of Shiki’s attack. They’re both out cold. Shiki, the Reapers, even Shibuya… How could Mr. H use them!? Why…It doesn’t make any sense--that I have to keep fighting like this! Dammit! …… But I do have to. …Alone. Now…where’s the Composer?

*enter Trail of the Judged*

N: This graffiti… (I remember, Mr. H. Your art kept me going. Every piece seemed to shout, “Enjoy life!” And outside my headphones, the rest of the world heard it, too. It was fun just standing here, looking… When I found out you were CAT, man, I just shook. I mean, I knew you were different the second I met you. The things you said… Somehow, they just clicked. I thought I finally met a guy I could respect. And now look… ……) But I won’t falter anymore. You taught me better than that.

*exiting Trail of the Judged*

N: (Shiki… Beat… Joshua… Rhyme… Everybody. They got me this far. Now…) it’s my fight.

*Enter Room of Reckoning*

N: This place… Come on out, Composer! Fight me! You want me to defeat you, right? Isn’t that it!? Then show yourself! Show yourself and fight… Mr. H…

Meg: Who’s Mr. H?

N: You again! But I just beat you!

M: Ha ha ha ha! I’m amazed! Here you stand on the final stage--and still don’t know who’s playing what!

N: What do you mean…

M: All right. You want answers? First off, the Composer is not the man you envision. Second, the Composer is not here--and hasn’t been since before you came to the UG. So sorry you missed Him.

N: ……

M: I have been in charge of the UG since his departure.

N: Mr. Hanekoma’s…not the Composer? Then you’re responsible…

M: For many things, yes.

N: Why… Why would you do this to Shibuya?

M: Oh, Neku… Don’t you like music?

N: Huh?

M: Music requires many things. Melody, performers, instruments… But the key element in the most divine music is a Conductor, to hold it all together. The world is very much the same. Under one Conductor, one ideal, the world of men marches toward bliss.

N: One ideal?

M: Didn’t you feel it in Shibuya? Rage. Hate. Misery. Envy. Fear. Self-deprecation. A cacophony of countless selfish wants. As that noise swells, it turns into crime, warfare… All the world’s ills can be traced to individuality!

N: “Ills”?

M: By tearing down the differences between us, I can make the world a paradise!

N: By making everybody think alike? That’s not even pos--

M: It IS possible! With these pins.

N: The Red Skull pins. You’re behind that, too!?

M: I based them on the Composer’s Player Pin. You see, the eyes of the world are on Shibuya. What starts on these streets will spread across the globe! I can save all of mankind from right here. Shibuya shall be my podium! I know you’ll love what I do with it. Now, if you’ll just remove that Player Pin…

N: Huh?

M: It neutralizes the effects of the Red Skull pin, so my imprinting can’t reach you.

N: (This pin protects me? All this time, it was…)

M: What have your dealings with other people brought you? Only hurt.

N: ……

M: Join me. Help me build a new Shibuya.

N: I’ll never help you! Maybe living in your Shibuya WOULD be easier. Maybe. Except one problem--it wouldn’t be Shibuya! I was never good with people. I covered my ears and blocked them out. But you know what? If I don’t clash, I don’t change. The world ends at my borders, and the best moments slip away. Shibuya’s full of people waiting for those moments, when we clash together and find something new. Here in the UG, I clashed. I changed. And now I know--Shibuya should stay just as it is!

M: Then let me ask you this…Do you like people?

*Yup*

M: …I see. Hmph. Why you would is beyond me… I think you need to be reformed.

N: Rrgh…

M: Save your energy. An unpartnered Player has little to no power. You can’t stop me.

N: I…I can’t move!

M: Remember that I’m saving you. This pin was standing between you and freedom from pain. Now, bask in the light of true redemption!

N: DON’T!!!

M: Welcome to the new Shibuya.

N: …… …… Nothing happened!

M: Wh-what!? But I destroyed your Player Pin! Why can’t I imprint on you? …I’m a fool. Of course He wouldn’t let me harm His pick.

N: Whose “pick”?

M: I owe you no more explanations! Only destruction!

Beat: Yo yo yo, I don’t think so! Ain’t you forgettin’ somebody? Here comes the Beat-wagon!

N: Huh? Beat! Shiki!

B: I told you, yo. Ain’t no one gonna be the Composer but me!

Shiki: How could you go on without us, Neku? We’re your partners! Now what did Mr. H say about partners?

N: Um…trust ‘em?

S: That’s better!

B: Yo, forget this “partner” crap. You ain’t my partner anymore, man. You’re my friend! So trus’ that, yo!

N: Beat…

S: C’mon, Neku. We’ve still got work to do!

N: Yeah… Mr. Ringleader here…

B: We jus’ gotta take out Shades, right?

N: Right.

S: The three of us can do it! Now let’s take our lives back!

N: Right! Get him!

M: I’m this close… Once I erase these three, Shibuya will be saved… Come to me, then! Come meet your end!

*fight*

M: No… I must keep fighting… My time is…almost up…

Joshua: I’m back, Megumi.

N: J-J-J…

J: Your timer must be nearly ticked out.

N: Joshua!? You’re alive! But why are you here?

M: No, Sir! I’m not done, not yet! I WILL protect Shibuya!

*fight*

J: Hee hee… It seems I’ve won.

M: NOOOOOO!!! It can’t end like this… Who else will protect Shibuya?

N: A timer!? Why does HE have a timer?

M: Then… You’ll do as You intended?

*flashback*

M: End…Shibuya? But Composer…Sir! Why!?

J: I’ve decided to wash my hands of it. It has no future value to me or anyone else. So, I’m shutting it down.

M: Wait, Sir! Shibuya is still full of so many possibilities!

J: Yes, and people too dull and clouded to see them. Shibuya’s influence is too strong. I have to end it now…before the other grounds are poisoned and all is lost.

M: Then…the problem is the people? If they changed to something more suitable, You’d stay Your hand?

J: Yes, but that’s clearly beyond them.

M: Sir…give me a chance to prove You wrong. I swear I’ll remake Shibuya in a way that will please You.

J: …… A Game, then.

M: THE Game?

J: That’s right. The rules will be simple. If you manage to fix Shibuya, you win. Shibuya stays.

M: …And if I can’t fix it?

J: Then you lose, Megumi. You and Shibuya will be erased.

M: …That’s all right. If I can risk my life to protect Shibuya, I will. But what chance do I have of beating You?

J: Relax, Megumi. I’ll be sure to handicap myself. I’ll retreat to the RG. And I won’t challenge you directly. But I will pick a Player to represent me. Since you’ve piqued my interest with this talk of rebuilding, expect me to be watching from the sidelines.

M: Very well, Sir. I’ll enter Your Game.

J: Then first I’ll need to collect your entry fee. You have one month, Megumi. I wish you nothing but success.

*back to current time*

M: You’re going to erase it… The streets I know and love, gone…

J: You did well, Megumi. That was one of my more enjoyable Games.

M: I gave it my all, Sir. I have no regrets.

J: You know, I liked your idea. Shame it didn’t work out.

M: You gave me a wonderful opportunity. Thank You, Sir. As for you… Well played, Player. I still can’t fathom why my imprinting failed to affect you.

N: Me neither… Wait! That’s right!

M: Another Player Pin!? Why do you have two? I only gave you the one! …Ha ha. Of course! Neku… It’s up to you now.

N: Huh? Joshua? What’s going on?

J: All of this was a Game--one set up by me.

N: What? Then that means you’re--

J: Let me make it obvious. Hmm… I suppose they’ll serve.

S: Wh-what’s happening?

B: I can’t…move…yo…

N: Shiki? Beat!?

J: Hee hee… It was me, Neku. I’m Shibuya’s Composer.

N: What? But that…can’t be…

J: I know that must unsettle you. Especially since we spent all that quality time together. Still, it’s the truth, and I need you to face it. Megumi and I decided to play this Game to determine if Shibuya should exist or not.

N: Then everything I’ve one… All of it…

J: Mm-hmm. You were playing for my team. Really, you did a bang-up job. I couldn’t have won without you.

N: Then… What have I done!?

J: I had one role in this Game: picking the Player who would play for me. One boy…from the RG.

N: …Me?

J: Very sharp, Neku! Give yourself a hand. I knew I picked a winner.

N: But it was Pi-Face that killed me…

J: His bullet was meant for me. For some time now he’s been after my seat. Maybe he thought I could be killed in the RG--a gross miscalculation. The Composer, unlike the Reapers, can use some of his power in the living world. So, poor Minamimoto failed, and fled back to the UG. But I like keep him around. He knows how to heat up a Game! Unfortunately, he overheated this time, so I had to retire him early. Couldn’t have him spoiling the climax!

N: Then you’re the one who beat him?

J: Why, yes! You’re just sharp as a tack, Neku. Anyway, the pest followed me everywhere--even into the RG when I went to get you!

N: Into the RG? Wait… No!

J: Hee hee. Why don’t I return all the memories I’ve been holding on to?

N: Nyaaagh!!!

*cutscene*

Minamimoto: I blew it!

N: What?

*back to normal dialogue*

N: Huff…huff… It was you! …… I thought… I thought I finally found a friend I could relate to… But it was YOU! You killed me!

J: Hee hee. Now, Neku, why don’t we play one last Game?

N: You tricked me…

J: The winner gets to be the Composer, and do whatever he likes with Shibuya. If you win, you decide. If I win, I’ll decide. …Of course, I’ve already decided.

N: You’re a monster…

J: Neku? You’d better pick up that gun. I mean, this IS going to be a duel. I’ll keep the rules extremely basic. I’m going to count down from ten. On zero, we shoot. See? Easy.

N: Don’t screw with me, Joshua!

J: I assure you, I’m not. Life’s little crossroads are often as simple as the pull of a trigger.

N: ……

J: Neku… Hee hee, your face is priceless. Don’t you remember what Mr. Hanekoma told you?

N: I’m just…

J: Oh, before I forget! I’ve collected your entry fee. Now… Let the Game begin. 10...9...

*cutscene*

*gun-shot*

*Joshua laughs*

N: Why… WHAT THE HELL!?

*7 days after day 7, week 3*

N: Same streets…Same crowds too. Yeah, Shibuya hasn’t changed a bit. But still, I don’t think I can forgive you yet. You don’t see it, but…those few weeks were very hard for me. Learning to trust people; having that trust broken. Finding out the town I pegged as small, and stifling, and empty…wasn’t any of those things.

*flashbacks*

S: Let me in! Tell me what you’re thinking!

J: Only by letting strangers in can we find new ways to be ourselves.

S: I’m scared! Scared of getting a second chance…

B: Listen up, Phones. Cuz I ain’t askin’ twice. Please, help me. You gotta help me save her!
 

S: Neku, that’s the first time you used my name.

J: But Neku, I thought you couldn’t afford to lose. Give up on yourself, and you give up on the world.
 

B: You ain’t my partner anymore, man; you’re…my friend.
 

S: Once you see the real me…will we still be friends?

*end of flashbacks*

N: I’m glad I met you guys. You made me…pick up on things, I probably would’ve just gone on ignoring. Trust your partner…and I do. I can’t forgive you, but I trust you. You took care of things, right? Otherwise, Shibuya would be gone and my world with it. Hey, did I mention I’ve got friends now? We’re meeting for the first time in a week. See you there?
 

B: Yo!

Rhyme: Over here!

type! Aaaaaaight! I feel much better, yo! Jus’ wait! I’m gonna send everybody home! Rhyme an’ Shiki…an’ that Joshua kid…an’ of course YOU, man.

N: Hey… This is…The scramble!? Another day has passed?

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Week 3: Beat (Day 3 to Day 4)

Jun. 17th, 2008 | 11:44 pm

 

N: …Huh? The scramble!?

B: But we was just at A-East, yo! She dumped us back at the starting point? C’mon, man. We gotta head back!

N: Wait!

B: What for!? We know where she’s at!

N: We know where she WAS. But we couldn’t find her.

B: Yeah, we did look pretty hard, but--

N: We don’t really have any proof she was really there.

B: You heard her laughin’ at us!

N: It’s possible that was all just a setup. Let’s check some other places today. We’ve got 777’s keypin, right? We just have to be thorough.

B: Aight. Fine. But it’s Day 3, yo. I don’t got much more time. This sucks, man…I am so boned! Why can’t there be some easy way outta this?

Uzuki: Well, there is!

B: Yo, who’zat?

U: Like, take it down a notch, Freshmeat. Or should I call you Rottenmeat?

B: Whatchu want, Pinky?

U: Hey, leave my hair out of this.

N: (……)

B: You here to take us out? If you gonna bring it, then bring it! We’re in a hurry, yo.

U: Oh yeah? You don’t want THIS?

B: That pin!

U: The GM passed it on to me. She made me substitute GM for the day!

B: Yo, gimme that back!

U: Hooold on. This is your entry fee. You can’t have it back unless you win the Game.

B: Bwaaah! Tha’s right… Dammit!

U: But how about we have a little bonus round? If you finish my mission, I’ll give you back the pin.

B: Yo, fo’ real?

U: Like, totally. I’m subbing for the GM. It’s my call.

N: And of course you’d never try to trick us.

U: What? Oh, come on. You think this is all a ruse? Fine, I’ll just destroy the pin, then--

B: Wh-whoa! Don’t!

U: Ahh, now you believe me. So! Here’s your mission.

B: ……

U: We are going to play Reaper Sport 4:

B: ACHOO! ACHOO!

N: (Huh? What’d she say?)

U: You have 60 minutes. Fail, and--Well, I’m not an official proxy, so I can’t erase you.

B: Then why you think we gonna listen to you?

U: I can’t erases you…but I CAN erase this pin.

B: What! You sneaky--

U: Oh, get over it. Now… Ready, set… GO!

B: Dammit! Get back here, Pinky!

N: Hey, this could be our lucky break. It beats hunting after the real GM.

B: Yeah… I guess. We don’t need Ironface if we get the pin back. Yo, le’s chase after Pinky and clear this mission!

*heading towards 104*

N: Hey, so, um…what’s the goal for today’s mission?

B: Huh? Yo, weren’t you listenin’?

N: …… No. I couldn’t hear ‘cause you sneeze like a freakin’ elephant.

B: Man… Get wid it. Today’s mission is--……

N: …… You don’t know.

B: I-I got it, Phones! Just gimme a sec. Reaper Spurt 4, right?

N: Sport.

B: Right, Sport. Umm… Well RS 1 is “Russian Roulette.” RS 2 is “Hide-and-Seek.” so RS 4 must be, uhmmm--

Business Guy: Sigh… What should I do? Maybe it’s time to break out Reaper Creeper…

B: Oh yeah! “Reaper Creeper”! That’s what RS 4 is!

N: …… You just pulled that out of thin air.

B: Did not! Hey, I used to be a Reaper, yo! We cool.

N: OK, so…how does RS 4: Reaper Creeper work?

B: Well, you gotta act like the Reaper…and creep into people’s heads and stuff.

N: …Are you sure?

B: Hey, I used to be a Reaper, yo! We cool.

N: …….

B: Aight, Phones. Le’s find us some peeps to Creep.

N: How ‘bout the guy who just walked by?

BG: Hmm… Ever since discovering Reaper Creeper, I’ve let it make decisions for me… Too many. Not that I can complain. I owe much of my success to it. But still…it doesn’t feel right.

B: What? He ain’t gonna do it?

N: Weird, for him.

BG: Should I keep relying on this? …… Of course! I’ll just ask it! Wouldn’t that be a fitting end! ……

B: Yeah, pops! ‘Atta boy…

N: ……

BG: Reaper… Creeperrraaargh! What am I doing? I have to quit cold turkey.

B: Aw, quit jerkin’ us around, pops! Hurry up and Creep!

N: …Are you SURE this is what we have to do?

B: Y-yeah! Reaper Spurt 4: “Reaper Creeper”. I used to be a Reaper, yo!

N: ……

B: Trust me, Phones. Now let’s get that guy to--Huh? Where’d he go?

BG: Sigh…

B: Oh, crap! We gonna lose him! Book it, Phones!

N: (Must…trust…partner…)

*in Center street*

B: Hey! There he is!

BG: Sigh…

Uzuki: Tee hee!

B: Huh? You see Pinky jus’ go by?

N: Yeah. She was giggling. What’s up with that?

*in AMX*

B: Dammit, where’d he go now?

U: Tee hee!

N: Hey. There goes the Reaper again.

B: What, Pinky?

N: Yeah. She just took off. You didn’t see her?

B: Yo, are we lookin’ for the guy or not?


N: …… I dunno. I think she’s acting weird. Like she’s teasing us.

B: Whatever, man.

N: You sure today’s mission is--

B: ACHOO! ACHOO!

N: ……

B: Ahhh. Got the sniffles. Aight, le’s go, Phones! We gotta track down that guy an’ finish the mission!

N: ……

*in Tipsy Tose hall*

BG: Sigh…

B: Yo, Phones! There he is!

Makoto: Sigh…

N: Huh? What’s he doing here?

M: Sigh…

BG: M…Makoto!

M: Oh! Boss… Boss, how have you been?

BG: Fit as a fiddle, thanks.

M: Sorry you had to see me like this.

BG: Is that new business not panning out?

M: I just don’t have the knack for it. I made this big show about leaving the company. I thought I was sooo smart. But you know, Boss--I didn’t know a damn thing. Shibuya ate me alive, heh heh…

BG: ……

M: Boss, tell me. What am I supposed to do now?

BG: Oh, Makoto…

M: Heh, I’m sorry. That’s not a very fair question after what I did to you.

BG: Now just hold on, Makoto. (Reaper Creeper always yields the right answer. Makoto needs solid advice, and with this…I can give it to him! )

B: Damn right, pops! He’s gonna do it, Phones! Now’s our turn to Creep, yo!

N: Hmm… (I dunno… This seems too important to leave up to some game.)

B: Do it, Phones!

N: All right. Let’s see where this takes us.

BG: Reaper… Creeper…

B: Get ready to answer his question. An’ remember: White is YES, black is NO.

BG: What should Makoto do with his future?

N: Huh!? That’s not a yes-or-no question!

BG: Please, Reaper! Show me the way!

B: Yo, just wing it, Phones!

N: ……

*Reaper Creeper game*

BG: Black! An answer, clear as day! Nothing beats Reaper Creeper when you need answers. All right, Black means… Aha! That clear things right up.

N: …… It…it does!?

BG: All right, Makoto. I think I have your answer.

M: Um, Boss, who were you talking to?

BG: I know you think your luck’s dried up.

M: Yeah… Nothing’s going my way.

BG: Well, that’s because… you need more BLACK in your life!

M: What?

BG: You heard me. Black! More darkness! More mystery!

M: Uh…uhmm…

BG: And I have just the product for you.

M: But… Boss, I--

BG: I had to pull a few strings to get these, so--

M: Boss, I… I have to run. Take care…

BG: W-wait, Makoto! You forgot your BLACK!

N: ……

B: You see that? Mission cleared, yo!

N: ……

B: Game over, Pinky! Come on out!

N: ……

B: What, ain’t she here? Wait a minute… Yo, did she trick us? Or maybe we Creeped so good she’s too ashamed to admit it!

N: …… About this “Reaper Creeper” business… I gotta ask you.

B: What, yo?

N: Is that REALLY today’s mission?

B: Yo, I told you--

N: I don’t think you remember.

B: I do! Like I said, I Reaper Spurt 4--

N: It’s SPORT.

B: Hrrrm… ……Sorry, Phones. It’s been two days since I was a Reaper. I don’t remember too much.

N: (Um…Two days isn’t that long. ) Look, next time just be up-front about it. We’ll never work the mission out by taking shots in the dark.

B: Man… Why I gotta be like this? I never change.

N: ……

B: You know Rhyme? She used to say the same stuff--like a hundred times, man.

*flashback*

Rhyme: Beat… I don’t trust that pink-haired lady. Why she said doesn’t add up. Let’s take it with a grain of salt, OK?

B: We ain’t got time for salt!

R: We don’t have time for mistakes, either. Slow and steady wins the race!

*another time*

R: I’m telling you, Beat. We need to find the golden bat.

B: We ain’t got time for bats!

R: We don’t have time for mistakes, either. Haste makes waste!

*back to the present*

B: She always had some saying. And she knew to think ahead! But me…I never learn. Even now, when she needs me the most.

N: ……

B: I know I gotta think things through. I really do, man. But I freak out instead of findin’ the answer. Some brother I make.

N: Brother? Wait, Rhyme’s your sister?

B: What, didn’t I mention? Yeah. We from the same family.

N: Whoa! I had no idea.

B: We came to the UG together, partnered up…and then I… I…

N: Hey, you didn’t do anything!

B: It’s like I killed her, man. You don’t know the half of it.

N: Beat…

B: Why I gotta be so stupid? I thought I could bring Rhyme back by becomin’ a Reaper. That turned out great, huh?

N: ……

B: When Rhyme got erased, Hanekoma gathered up her soul and store it in a pin. I made a pact with the pin to stay alive, but… I hated feelin’ that trapped, yo. ‘Fore I knew it, I was at the Reapers’ door asking ‘em how to use the pin.

N: So that’s why you took off. But wait! That means--

B: That Noise on my shoulder was Rhyme. Her Noise, which I called outta the pin.

N: Whoa…

B: I was lookin’ for a way to turn her back to normal, but I didn’t find nothin’, yo. But I figure if I become the Composer and rule Shibuya… Ya know? Whoever takes out the old Composer gets the job.

N: Is that how it works?

B: Yup. And once I’m in charge of Shibuya, I can fix Rhyme. I owe her a second chance, man!

N: ……

B: Listen up, Phones, ‘cause I’m only gonna say this once.

N: What?

B: Help me… You gotta help me save her. I ain’t that smart. I just crash my way through things. But that ain’t enough to save Rhyme. I need help! I need… I need YOUR help.

N: …… Screw you.

B: What!?

N: Don’t be an ass. She’s my friend. And you act like I’d mind saving her. Besides, I’m just crashing my way through this, too. Even if I beat the GM and survive, they’ll just get me on some technicality--probably for making a pact with you. But I don’t get any more chances. There’s the Emergency Call, too. Let’s face it. Shades wants me gone. If me and Shiki are gonna make it back to the RG--

B: Don’t sweat it, man! I’ll bring you all back to life, soon as I’m in charge.

N: All right.

B: Yo, uh…thanks, Phones.

N: Hey, not necessary. Like Mr. H said: “Trust your partner.”

B: Heh heh! True dat.

N: So what’s today’s REAL mission?

B: …… Well…first le’s track Pinky down.

*leaving Tipsy Tose Hall*

Uzuki: Ugh, what’s with you losers!?

N: Hey, is that--

U: Don’t you want to win at ALL!? I oughta crush this pin! I swear, if you take one more side trip--I mean, what’s the point of tag if you don’t chase me!

B: Huh? Tag? Wait, so Reaper Sport 4--

U: It’s “Tag,” you dolt! Didn’t they teach you anything at all? That’s like the most basic of basics! Some rising star you turned out to--

N: Tag.

U: Huh?

N: You’re it.

U: What!?

B: Bwa ha ha! You see how stupid she is? She just walked right up to us an’…Bwa ha ha!

U: That…that last tag doesn’t count! And did you just call me stupid?

B: Yo, you are! I ain’t never seen no one so bad at tag.

U: Shut up shut up shut up! You have no right to call anyone stupid!

B: We cleared your mission, Pinky. Now hand over the pin!

U: I…I’ve got another mission for you! “Defeat the pissed off Reaper!”

N: Hey, play fair!

U: I have to win this Game. I don’t care what it takes! Now bring it, you little turds!

*fight*

B: Look out, yo! One more punch and you gone! Hand over the pin an’ I might spare you.

U: AAAaaaAAAAAAaaaRRRRRRrrrRRRrrrGGGGgggGGH!!! Take your mercy and shove it! Next mission!

N: Hey! Enough is--

U: I WANT MY PROMOTION! I’m not shooting for any Miss Nice awards!

Kariya: Aw, now girl… Face the facts. They got you whupped.

U: Oh, be quiet! You can underachieve all you want. But I want to move up!

K: Up, up, up, and then what?

U: Well…I-I-I--

K: Don’t know? Then don’t bother. Shooting for nothing sounds crazy to me.

U: Then what about you! Why’d you turn your promotion down?

K: ……

U: Yeah, I know about it. They were gonna make you an officer. And you threw it in their faces. I mean, what is that!? You got a crush on me or something? Can’t bear to leave me!? I don’t want to be your ball and chain. It’s not fair!

K: …… Being an officer sucks. Why join the brass and strut around doin’ nothing? Sounds like a total bore. I like the field, simple as that. You can feel the pulse out here. People’s ideas conflicting, changing… I like bein’ in the audience. I’m a stargazer.

U: ……

K: ‘Sides, if I join the officers, how am I gonna sucker you into buyin’ me ramen?

U: …Jerk. …… Well… I guess I can stay in the audience a bit longer, too.

K: Yeah, girl. Stop and smell those concrete roses. Now then. Sorry to drag on like that. Here. For your trouble.

B: A Lv. 3 keypin? Yo, you can keep this. Gimme Rhyme!

K: No can do. I haven’t had my fun yet.

B: Quit screwin’ with us!

K: Um, villain? Screwin’ with you is my job. But you have my word. Beat me at my little game, and the pin’s your. No screws attached.

N: You swear this time?

K: On my life. …Wait, that doesn’t work. Anyway, I won’t be pulling any punches.

B: Dammit, fine. What’s your game?

K: You’ll love it, Freshmeat. All you have to do…is beat me.

*end day 3, week 3*

N: (…Where am I? The underpass by Miyashita park… That’s an unusual place to start. Huh? Where’s Beat?)

B: ……

N: (What’s he doing over there?)

B: ……

N: Hey.

B: WAAAH! You up already?

N: So it seems. Weird place to start the day, huh?

B: ……

N: Right?

B: Huh? Oh, yeah, yeah.

N: (Speaking of weird… What’s gotten into him?)

B: AAAAAAIIIGHT!

N: Whoa, what was that for?

B: Time to give Lollipop a lickin’ and get Rhyme back, yo!

N: Yeah… You said it. From the way Lollipop--wait, Kariya, was it? The way he was talking, we gotta beat him today.

B: Yeah, jus’ be ready, Phones. Lollipop’s one tough customer.

N: Oh, come on. He’s just another Reaper. I’ve already beat two Game Masters, remember?

B: Naw, man, Kariya’s skills put the brass to shame. He’s only a small fry ‘cause he likes it that way.

N: Yeah, they were talking about that.

B: Trus’ me, he ain’t’ gonna mess up like Pinky did, yo.

N: …… Wait, are YOU worrying about ME?

B: Huh!?

N: Who are you and what have you done with Beat?

B: N-naw, man! I was jus’ sayin’ we gotta be vegetant! We after the Composer, not Kariya.

N: Vigilant. And is the Composer that strong?

B: He’s gotta be, right? How else he gonna keep sly punks like Shades in line? All I’m sayin’ is we ain’t gonna get a better warm-up than Kariya. So let’s take him down, rescue Rhyme, an’ then book it to the Shibuya River!

N: It won’t be that easy.

B: Well, you better man up, yo, cause we gotta find Lollipop. Le’s start at the scramble.

N: …… (If the GM was right, Beat’s only got two more days after today…)

*heading out of the underpass*

B: Oof! Oww, dammit! Freakin’ wall… Now where’s that keypin? Whaaa? It’s…it’s gone! The keypin’s gone, man!

N: Gone!? Then we’re trapped in here?

B: …Tsk. Here, of all places…

N: What do you mean?

B: N-nothin’, aight?

N: …… Crap. This complicates things. How do we open the walls without a key? Think, think…

B: Yo, you know when I woke up, this was lyin’ next to me.

N: …… Well, thanks for mentioning. What is it? A box? What’s inside?

B: I couldn’t get it open, man. I tried smackin’ the button on top, but--

N: Are you crazy? What if it was a trap?

B: …… Yo, you show me a button, and I wanna push it. Aight?

N: I think they design traps like this with you in mind.

B: Sh-shut up, yo! Leas’ we know the button don’t work. Press it an’ this weird voice comes out.

N: Oh yeah?

Box: WRONG! Layout reset.

N: Now what does that mean?

B: Hmm? We got mail, yo. “See you at Towa Records. Key’s in the box.” This mail…

N: It’s from Kariya. So the keypin is in this box?

B: That sneaky bastard. How we supposed to open it?

N: …… If the box says “wrong” then there must be a “right.” (We need a clue…) Hey! What’s that piece of paper?

B: Yeah, they was lyin’ all over the place.

N: Let’s check it out.

B: I’ll hang on to the box, yo. You tell me when to push the button, aight?

*look at flowers*

N: Huh?

B: ……

N: Flowers… Was there an accident here? (Hmm? Why isn’t he talking?)

*look at first paper*

B: ‘Sup with this piece a’ paper, yo?

N: Are these markings supposed to be Noise?

B: This star symbol looks familiar, yo.

N: Yeah, ‘cause it’s on that box of yours.

B: Whoa! You’re right.

N: Think there’s a connection?

*figure out the puzzle*

B: Ooh! Lemme guess! Is it…push time?

N: ……

B: OK… Here goes, yo! Careful when you push it!

N: …Me?

Box: CORRECT! Box unlocked.

B: Booya! We did it, Phones!

N: (… “We”?) OK, box’s unlocked.

B: I’ll take it from here, yo!

N: ……

B: Sweet! A keypin!

N: OK! Let’s hurry to Towa Records!

B: Dammit… Not yet, man. This is a Lv. 1 keypin. It won’t open the way to the record store. But we could get into the Miyashita Park area.

N: Well, no point in staying here. Let’s see what we can find over that way.

B: Aight! Follow me, yo!

N: Uh-huh. Lead the way…

*heading out*

B: Aight, it opened! Le’s move!

*in Miyashita park*

B: Where you at, Lollipop!? COME ON OUT!

N: H-hey, reel it in! He’s already said he’s over by the record store.

B: Whatever, yo. He can hear me. I shout loud! Rrgh… C’mon, I can’t stand sittin’ around here!

N: I know! Settle down. (What’s got him so upset today? Did something happen?)

B: Yo! Phones! I see somethin’ over there!

N: OK. Let’s check it out.

*examine !!! Marks*

N: What have we here?

B: Anotha’ box?

N: Again?

B: Yo, I call Box Holder! Jus’ say when you wanna push the button.

N: (…Right.)

*solve puzzle*

B: Ooh! You solve it?

N: ……

B: Sure you got it right, man?

N: …… (You tell me, genius. )

Box: CORRECT! Box unlocked.

B: Hey! Very imprecious, Phones!

N: (Rhyme must have had her hands full…) OK, box’s unlocked. Let’s open it up.

B: I got this, yo!

N: ……

B: Bwaaah!

N: What?

B: There’s a box in the box! Man, I’m sick a’ rackin’ my brain…

N: (He’s actually been…THINKING?)

B: Aight, your turn, Phones. I’ll watch the box!

N: ……

*solve puzzle*

B: Ooh! You solve it?

N: ……

B: Sure you got it, man?

N: …… (Help, if you’re that worried!)

Box: CORRECT! Box unlocked.

B: Wow, Phones. That was spesticular!

N: (Rhyme DID have her hands full…Very full.) OK, box’s unlocked. Let’s open it up.

B: I got this, yo!

N: ……

B: Booyaka! Another keypin! Now we can get to Towa Records!

N: All right. Let’s hurry! But still…You have to wonder. Why would Kariya go through all the trouble of trapping us here by the underpass? To buy time?

B: ……

*leaving the underpass*

N: All right. Open it up. …… Hey, you got the keyp--Huh? Where…

B: ……

N: (What’s he doing?) Hey, man, what’s wrong?

B: This is where…

N: Flowers… Was there an accident here? (An accident! ……)

B: …… ……

N: Hey, whoa! Tears? Seriously… Who are you and what have you done with Beat?

B: This is where…where me an’ Rhyme died.

N: Here?

B: That morning’ me an’ my folks had it out. Jus’ like always, I took off. An’ jus’ like always, Rhyme came after me. But one thing was different. The car, yo. It came screamin’ toward her, I…

N: ……

B: I jumped in front of her, but… I ain’t strong enough to stop a car, yo. That was our ticket to the UG.

N: I’m…I’m really sorry, man.

B: I killed her. I stole her future…ya know? Rhyme wasn’t a loser like me. She had dreams. Things ahead of her. If I… If I hadn’t run outta the house… Hadn’t fought with my folks… If I’d pushed her outta the way a second sooner… ……

N: But c’mon, man. You know she didn’t hold it against you.

B: I’ll never know.

N: …Huh? But you two got along great!

B: Yeah, she never blamed me.

N: See?

B: LISTEN! She… She didn’t remember, yo.

N: Like, her memory was gone?

B: I dunno. But when we woke up in the UG, an’ whatchu think she said to me? “Nice to meet you.” I mean, talk about your sick jokes, man. Rhyme didn’t remember a thing about me.

N: So they took her memory…Like they did with me.

B: Prob’ly. But she didn’t win the Game. So even if I become Composer an’ make her right again…her memories a’ me might be gone for good.

N: That’s terrible…

B: It’s what it is. But I don’t care! I’m still gonna bring her back! That’s the leas’ I can do for her!

N: I’m with you, man.

B: Thanks. …… Sorry, I’m wastin’ time. We…we gotta get over to Towa Records!

*really leaving the underpass*

B: Here goes. Aight, it’s open. Le’s go, Phones.

N: OK.

*in Towa Records*

B: Where you at!? Come on out!

N: Is he even here?

B: Tsk… Fool’s prob’ly hidin’ somewhere. Yo, what if we scan for him?

N: You can’t scan Reapers.

B: No, but we might find anotha’ clue!

N: …… All right.

*scan*

N: That’s odd…

B: Huh? Wassup?

N: I can’t scan!

B: What? That’s wack, man! Try again.

N: (……) I’m serious! It’s not working.

B: No way! Why not!?

N: (Good question. )

B: So this means…what? Everybody’s a Reaper?

N: C’mon, please. You see any wings? And if they were Reapers, they’d notice us.

B: Aight…so then what, yo?

N: Hey, look! Red Skull pins.

B: Yeah, all the people’s got ‘em…

N: Wait! What if it’s the pins? Maybe they block my scan, like the Player Pins!

B: Could be, yo. Rhyme said Players can’t scan each other.

N: Or technically people carrying Player Pins. It’s like the pin blocks the signal.

B: So these people is all Players? I mean, if they got pins, yo…

N: No, we’re the only two Players. I’m sure of it. These people are alive--in the RG. Maybe the Red Skull pins are like the Player Pins for the RG.

B: Naw, they can’t play the Game if they alive. THINK, man!

N: We can’t all be great thinkers like you.

B: So, yo, the Red Skull pins--they a CAT design, right?

N: Wow, you know CAT?

B: Hells yeah, I ain’t stupid. Everybody in Shibuya knows CAT! The two pins sure look alike, huh?

N: They do.

B: It can’t be a coincidence. The same guy musta made both, yo.

N: ……

B: So that means…he’s also gotta be…uhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmm…meh.

N: Riiight. How ‘bout we go get Rhyme?

B: Oh! Good call! Lollipop is waitin’!

N: …… (…Naw, that’s ridiculous. It can’t be him…)

Kariya: Oh, here already? That was fast.

B: Yo, shut up! You done sayin’ your prayers?

K: Still a ball of energy, I see. Fine. Make me do some work, why don’t you?

N: Here he comes…

B: Phones, careful. He’s--

N: What? Do I detect WORRY?

B: Huh!?

N: Who are you and what have--

B: I’m right here, man. Quit that! I’m jus’ tellin’ you not to screw up, yo!

K: Tsk, tsk. Squabbling? You won’t beat me like that. Come on. What are you waiting for?

B: You heard him, Phones! It’s time for a throw down!

N: I’m ready!

*fight*

K: Ooh, very good.

B: Ha! Eat that! Betchu had enough!

K: …… What can I say? I know when I’m beat. You win. Here’s your pin ba--

Uzuki: What are you DOING? Ugh, Kariya! You lazy bum. Who said you could call it a day? Now look sharp before I put on my angry face!

K: Uzuki! What are you doing here?

U: I came to see if you were goofing off. And it’s a good thing. Honestly! I can’t take my eyes off you.

K: Oh, do you have to be such a drudge?

U: Hey, who told me to put my heart into my work? Now you’re gonna have to let me help.

B: Tha’s perfect, yo. We’ll take both you and Lollipop at once! How many licks could it take!?

K: Aight, Uzuki. One more fight. If I have to.

U: You have to. I’ll buy you a bowl of ramen later.

*fight*

K: Bravo! You got us. A big hand for the winners. As promised, your pin. Catch!

B: Yoink! Hang in there, Rhyme. I’ll fix you right--Hey… What are they tryin’ to pull… Yo, punks! This ain’t Rhyme!

N: Huh!?

B: This pin’s a fake!

N: You dirty, lying cheaters!

K: Damn! I KNEW I couldn’t trust her. Hoodwinked again!

U: Kariya, what are you talking about?

K: The Iron Maiden gave us a fake on purpose.

U: What!? Then where’s the real pin?

K: Where do you think?

U: She lied to us!? Then my promotion… All of it…

K: Beat, I don’t know what to say.

B: It’s aight. Betchu ain’t never even seen the real pin. How would you know?

K: That’s no excuse. I should’ve seen through the trick. Here. It won’t make up for today…but take it.

B: A Lv. 4 keypin? What’s this for, man?

K: For everything. Right now…the UG needs you two to have this.

N: (The UG needs us? Why?)

B: Aight, man. I know what to do.

N: (You…you do!?)

B: C’mon, Phones! Oh, yo, ‘fore I forget.

K: Hmm?

B: Watch your backs.

K: And why would we need to do that?

N: The last Reaper to give us a keypin got erased. We think the GM was responsible.

B: Dontchu go bein’ the next, aight?

K: Aight. Thanks for the advice. We can take care of ourselves. Right, Uzuki?

U: Hmph. They can mind their own business. Go on, scram…before I get grumpy. And, um…sorry about yesterday.

B: Huh? Somethin’ happened yesterday? I can’t remember a thing! C’mon, Phones, le’s bounce!

N: Right. We’ve got a Game Master to find.

*later*

K: …Face it, she just used us to stall for time. Kiss that promotion of yours goodbye.

U: Never.

K: Huh?

U: I won’t give up. Not now. Don’t you see how messed up this all is? They treat us field Reapers like we’re tools! I mean, this work environment is just…ugh!

K: Ugh-ier than it was back in the day, I’ll give you that.

U: Kariya… I love this town just as much as you. So I’ve decided. I can’t leave Shibuya like this. I have to change it. All Reapers deserve to enjoy their work. To feel rewarded!

K: My, oh my. That certainly sounds epic. Well, you let me know how that goes.

U: Ha ha. Nice try. You get to be my little helper.

K: Bleh! Since when?

U: Together we can move up the ladder--really change things!

K: A happier Shibuya for all Reapers. It does have a nice ring to it…

U: Anyway… I’m whipped for the day. Fat lot of good these O-Pins did us.

K: You mean these? They’re toys. They don’t do anything.

U: No way… Duds?

K: Something, anyway. Now how ‘bout that ramen? I’m ready to--

U: Those kids. They’re fugitives. Enough to warrant an EC. Why’d you let them have the keypin? If the GM catches wind of it, she’ll slash more than our salaries.

K: ……Uzuki, don’t you feel it?

U: Feel what?

K: Shibuya’s breaking.

U: Breaking? Don’t be so dramatic.

K: The town’s…homogenizing. Turning simple.

U: Hmm, now that you mention it… The usual cacophony of thoughts has quieted down…

K: Yeah. Because they’re changing, focusing--all on a single point.

U: You think it’s an omen?

K: Dunno. I just hope that point isn’t a period, The End.

U: Ungh…ahh…ahhhhhh…

K: Uzuki?

U: Aaaaaaugh!!!

K: Hey, Uzuki, what’s wrong! Nnngh! My…my head…

Minamimoto: Hmm, that took a while. Longer than I assumed. Hmph! This body will zetta take some getting used to. But it’s only a function of time. Now…let’s crunch some more numbers!

*end of day 4, week3*

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Week 3: Beat (Day 1 to Day 2)

Jun. 17th, 2008 | 08:22 pm

N: Here I go again… At least this time it really ends. …… (Shiki’s out. They made her my entry fee. Joshua, too. Took the bullet for me. Rhyme’s gone. Noise got her. And Beat left to join the Reapers. One Player after another…gone. …… I’m the only one of us left--the only hope we have. The mission!) “Game 1. Reach 104. Time: 60 minutes Cost of failure: Expunction.” Nggh… 104 again? They’re not very creative… (I need a partner--otherwise this’ll be a very short Game. Better check Hachiko. Somebody there must have what it takes. )

*heading towards Hachiko*

Uzuki: Sigh…

Kariya: ‘Sup with you, girl? You miss breakfast?

U: Naw, I just…don’t feel like working.

K: I hear that. Hey, how ‘bout a game, then? Games make work fun! You know you lo--

U: Love it? Not really. I’m not too keen on games right about now. I mean, can you BELIEVE this week? We’ve never run a Game this way. Is it even legal?

K: Hmm… Just barely. Consider it a loophole. The grey area juuust short of black.

U: This is ridiculous! The Game Master is Ms. Konishi. How am I supposed to make a good impression?

K: On the Iron Maiden? Heh. Well, you’re right about the Game being borked. Three weeks in a row? That’s a first, even for me. You gotta wonder what the Composer has goin’.

U: I just want my job to be…what’s the word… Rewarding! That’s it. I want my job to be rewarding.

K: Then put your heart into it. You reap what you sow.

U: Very funny. And not all that convincing coming from you. …But all right. I’ll make this week the pinnacle of my Harrier career!

K: ‘Atta girl. Now let’s just hope we get to the scene while there’s still a Player to harry.

*back to Neku*

N: Hey! Somebody!!! Holler back I you haven’t made a pact yet! Anybody!? Huh? Where are all the Players? My phone? Another mail… “P.S. This Game only has one Player. Best of luck.” What!? I’m the only one? Then I can’t make a pact! I can’t fight the Noise! …… (Rrgh… How could I be so stupid? Shades played me. He said he already collected my entry fee. And it was THE OTHER PLAYERS! Dammit! But… I can’t just give up. Think, think… I could try running for the next seven days. Wait, no… If just one mission says to take a Noise out…) Oh, just perfect. I’m gonna have to run!

*fight & choose ‘Gotta bounce’*

N: Huff…huff… That bastard… This Game is rigged. Crap… I’m surrounded!

Uzuki: Yoo hoo!

N: Reapers!

U: You’re still here! Well, aren’t you the sweetest? Sticking around juuust for me! No, how about a little countdown until the ball drops? 10!

N: It’s all over.

U: 9! Kariya! You owe me ramen for this. 8!

K: Yes, ma’am. Just pay attention. “This” isn’t done yet.

U: 7! …Ugh, fine. Zero!

N: Huh!?

U: Buh-bye! Muah.

N: (Shiki… Joshua… I’m sorry.)

Beat: Yo yo yo, not so fast, yo!

U: What are you doing here?

N: It’s him!

B: The hell you doin’? Quit playin’ dirty! You can’t have a Game with jus’ one Player! Maybe the Composer’s down widdat, but I ain’t him!

U: Who invited you, Freshmeat? …You’re not thinking of betraying us?

B: First you gimme some lame special op and make me snipe my friends, and now you gonna take down a defenseless Player? Ain’t you Reapers got any honor? Now you got me all kinds a’ pissed! Y’all goin’ down, yo!

K: Oh, to be young and foolish again! Try switching on your brain, Freshmeat. If you fight us, you die. Right now you’re treadin’ on thin ice.

U: Yeah. I mean, what kind of IDIOT chooses the Players over the Reapers?

B: Ha! You’re the idiots, yo. I ain’t treadin’ on thin ice!

U: Huh?

B: Shibuya ain’t cold enough for ice, stupid!

U: ……

K: ……

N: …… Um…

B: Yo, Phones!

N: Huh? You an’ me is gonna pact. Aight?

N: …OK. Let’s do it!

*cutscene*

B: Aight, le’s lay ‘em flat, yo!

N: OK!

*fight*

B: Heh, served! You got nothin’ on us, yo!

U: Snotty little worm! The gloves are off! TAKE THIS!

B: Hey, Phones!

N: Huh?

B: We gotta bounce, now! This way!

N: Huh? Hey!!! Wait up!

U: You little… You dare run? Come BACK HEEERE!

K: Whoooa, Uzuki! Stop, stop.

U: Why should I!?

K: We gotta report to the brass. You know how this works.

U: But, but--

K: You’ll enjoy punishing them more if you take it slow.

U: …… Yeah…Good point. Hey, this is Yashiro, Route 3. We have an emergency. A Reaper--

K: Hoo boy… Now the real party starts.

*back to Neku and Beat*

B: Booyaka! We made it.

N: Huff…huff… So…for now…huff…we’re safe?

B: Yo, enough wid the huff, man! Tha’s weak! Don’t you start blubberin’ on me now.

N: …Please. Who’s blubbering? So… Why exactly did you make a pact with me?

B: ‘Cause you was hung out to dry, man. I wasn’t about to leave your sorry ass to die.

N: Right… My hero.

B: Tha’s right! Wait, you’re makin’ fun a’ me! Hey, look, yo--I owed you. Tha’s all.

N: For what?

B: Rhyme’s pendant.

N: Big deal. It was yours, so I returned it. Wait… That’s the only reason you helped me? Geez, man! You’re a Reaper! They’ll kill you for partnering with a Player.

B: Aww…quit bitchin’! Leas’ you still alive.

N: …… Hey, your wings are gone!

B: Huh? …… Oh yeah. Guess they are.

N: You don’t care?

B: About what? That Reaper crap was lame, yo. I was getting’ sick a’ how they ran things. The good guys suit me better. But forget me, man. Why you in the Game again? What happened to the prissy kid you was with?

N: …… Well…

*flashback*

N: Unngh… Where…am I? The Game ended!? When? How? Joshua! Where’s Joshua?

Meg: Shhh.

N: Who…

M: Kudos. Victorious yet again.

N: I’m…the only one?

M: You play the Game well. Let me take a moment to congratulate you--and to thank you for your assistance.

N: Assist you? I don’t think so.

M: Ah, but did you not rid us of Sho Minamimoto, the rebel?

N: Rebel? He wasn’t on your side? Then that last mission--

M: Was issued by me.

N: You used us! What did you do to Joshua?

M: Joshua is no more.

N: No…

M: He took the brunt of Minamimoto’s attack. Both boy and lion vanished. Nuked to oblivion, no doubt.

N: Then he died…protecting me? Why would he do that?

M: He must have had some affection for you as a partner.

N: ……

M: He was a fool, though. No partner merits that kind of sacrifice.

N: …I did this. (I blamed him. He’s gone because of me. I accused him of shooting me, but he was innocent! I made him feel like he owed me something. I didn’t… I didn’t trust him. My partner. I didn’t even apologize. I’m the worst… I never told Joshua I’m sorry.)

M: I can see you’re taking this hard. But you needn’t blame yourself. Technically, he never entered the Game. He didn’t actually exist in the UG. How could he disappear…if he was never here in the first place?

N: That’s not funny!

M: And, we mustn’t overlook his grave transgressions. Meddling with the UG from the outside? Breaking into the Game? The living are not eligible to play. And now you, too, must be punished…for abetting him in his crimes.

N: P-punished!?

M: With erasure.

N: What!?

M: …At least, were I to go strictly by the book.

N: Huh?

M: But lucky for you, we repay our debts. The Composer has generously decided to enter you in one final Game with a penalty. You may not refuse.

N: Another Game? But what about Shiki? What happens to her!?

M: Nothing. The last Game is null and void. Your entry fee will be carried over.

N: That’s… That’s the penalty?

M: No. Your penalty is disqualification from all Games beyond the next. You will not be allowed to play again…again.

N: This is my last shot?

M: Now, I must collect your entry fee.

N: I…I already paid!

M: For your last entry, yes. But one entry fee is required for each Game. Composer’s rules. I’m afraid I can’t bend them.

N: Dammit… What else can you possibly take from me?

M: It’s already been taken.

N: …What?

*back to the present*

B: That sucks, man. How can Shades be such a sneaky bastard? Takin’ all the Players as an entry fee!

N: Doesn’t matter. I was forced into this either way. Shiki’s still gone. What choice do I have? Just one: win. Joshua bought me this chance. I’m not gonna waste it. I have to stay alive.

B: Aight, then. Come on.

N: What?

B: You comin’ with me, Phones.

N: Why?

B: ‘Cause I got someplace to go.

N: Um, I said I have to clear these missio--

B: To the station underpass, yo! Book it!

N: H-hey, wait! Listen to what I’m telling you!!!

*heading into the underpass*

N: A wall. No red Reaper in sight, either. We can’t go this way today.

B: Stupid @#!%(#^)^@^ WALL! I ain’t got time for this! Get in my way, and I’ma BREAK you!

N: He…he tore it down!? That’s insane!

B: I pave my own roads, yo. Now le’s haul it!

N: (The guy’s a freakin’ rhino. Doesn’t he ever pace himself?)

*in the underpass*

N: (This is the Shibuya River. Where Joshua wanted to go…)

B: ……

N: Hey! Another wa--

B: Stupid @#!%(#^)^@^ WALL! Yeowwwch!

N: Hey, take it easy!

B: Yo, what the hell! I got the keypin right here! Why can’t I break it?

N: Keypin?

B: Yeah, the Reapers got ‘em to open each area.

N: They have keys?

B: How you think I opened that last wall?

N: “Open”? I think you mean “smash.”

B: Openin’ them takes too long! We got through, aight? Who cares how!

N: Certainly not you.

B: ‘Sides, breakin’ the walls feels better.

N: This is nuts, dude. Keep it up, and you won’t last out the mission!

B: It don’t matter, man. Arrrgh, what the hell! LET ME IN!

N: …… Maybe you’ve got the wrong key.

B: …… …… …… Dammit. I need another key?

N: Look, let’s give this up for now. 104’s back the other way. We gotta hurry. Time is running out.

B: Tsk, fine. Whatever!

N: Hey… Wait up!!!

*leaving the underpass*

Konishi: Conductor, sir. I’ve received word of another rebellion.

Meg: ……

K: A new Reaper under special orders from you, sir. Name: Daisukenojo Bito. He’s been with us for eight days.

M: …Ah, yes. The boy.

K: With your permission, sir, I’d like to handle him personally--as Game Master, of course.

M: No, Konishi. You will remain on standby.

K: To what end, sir?

M: I need to discuss this with the Composer.

K: Mr. Kitaniji, far be it from me to question you, but…the boy’s been on duty for all of eight days. He hasn’t earned a single point. Why trouble the Composer when he’s doomed anyway?

M: Ha ha! Konishi, talking back? Has hell frozen over? We mete out punishment based on the crime, not the criminal.

K: I…understand, sir. I’ll stay my hand until the Composer has spoken. That little goon! Even a chimp knows better than to pick the losing side. This ruins my plans to wrap the Game up on Day 1! I’ll need to work up a new strategy… Adjust for the longer term. Good thing I never make mistakes…

*in the scramble*

Red Reaper: Want past this wall? Then take down these Noise!

N: Damn, another wall…

B: Heh! Them Noise is getting’ a beatdown! Ready, Phones? Hope you can keep up.

N: Well, first you gotta tell me how you fight.

B: That’s easy. I just… …… You know. It’s like…um… Poker! Yeah! I gotta get cards of the same suit.

N: OK, makes sense. Sort of.

B: You’ll get it once we start fightin’, yo! Le’s do it!

N: Right now!?

B: Aight, le’s mow ‘em down!

*fight*

B: Ha! How ya like dat? Two cards on the ground, pick one up in the air, Lay on the skull, and kablam! I’m there.

N: That’s…confusing.

B: Well…un-fuse it! I can’t figure it out, so you gotta!

N: What? But it’s your technique!

B: I only know what I know ‘cause… ‘cause Rhyme explained it.

N: Rhyme…

B: …… Wanna pound stuff again?

*That’s enough*

B: Aight. Now you know how it’s done.

Red Reaper: Objective met. Wall clear!

*enter 104*

B: Booya, we made it!

N: Timer’s gone. All clear.

B: One day down, six more to go!

N: First I have to ask you something.

B: Like what, yo? Le’s just play the Game.

N: “Trust your partner.” That’s the key to survival here. So I gotta know: You said you helped me so you could repay a favor.

B: Yeah. So?

N: Is that the only reason? I can’t afford any surprises in this Game. Why put yourself in jeopardy?

B: What’s a “jeppardy”?

N: Huh?

B: Look, man. I dunno your big words. But I do got another reason.

N: OK. What?

B: I wanna set Shibuya up widda new Composer. Me!

*in the Death God’s Pad*

Meg: I’m back, Konishi.

K: Mr. Kitaniji. Have you made a decision?

M: Yes. Strip the little rebel of his Reaperhood. Treat him as a Player going forward.

K: Yes, sir.

M: I needn’t remind you, Konishi, of your obligation to erase both the Players? You are Game Master…

K: I’ll get the job done, sir.

M: Good. But to be safe, I’m requiring all Reapers to wear their O-Pins.

K: Outlet Pins? Sir, I know O-Pins enhance Reaper battle performance, but what about the side effects? All to punish one ignorant little boy? It’s so risky…

M: Nonetheless, the Composer wills it. I, for one, am grateful. Haven’t we lost enough good men?

K: Yes, sir.

M: I’m also putting the UG on Emergency Call.

K: Emergency Call!?

M: Make the arrangements.

K: …Right away. Something’s wrong. Why such alarm over one artless rebel? He’s hiding something. I need to act, now. But not blindly. Every good plan starts with hard facts.

*end of day 1, week 3*

N: Ready for Day 2? Mission’s here.

B: Hey! Ain’t you down wid the plan?

N: Yeah. Like we talked about yesterday. Ignore the missions and make for the Shibuya River.

B: Once I’m Composer, this Game business is done! An’ then… …… Man, le’s jus’ go.

Konishi: Go where? You haven’t even read the mission.

B: Who’zat?

K: Greetings. I am this week’s Game Master, Mitsuki Konishi.

B: Tsk… This is the Iron Maiden? Move, yo! I ain’t got time for you!

K: So primitive. You think I can’t see what you’re up to? You were going to ignore the mission and cause some kind of trouble.

B: So what, yo!? I’m a Reaper. I don’t gotta do some stupid mission!

K: …As I thought. Well, I regret to inform you you were officially expelled from the Reapers yesterday. As of today, you are just a Player.

B: Pfft. Whatever. You can’t fire me, ‘cause I quit, yo!

K: Oh, don’t act like a child.

B: You think I’m actin’!?

K: …No, I can see it comes quite naturally to you.

B: Heh heh. Damn right!

N: …… Uh, dude… She’s making fun of you.

B: WHAT!?

K: Sigh… Since I can’t reverse evolution and speak your language, I’ll keep this brief. You may be a Player now, but you still broke Reaper rules. Which means you have a penalty coming. They explained to you that a Reaper’s points determine his or her lifespan?

B: Yeah, so? Big deal, yo.

K: You’ve earned 0 points. Not a very hard worker, I see.

B: You was gonna make me sic Noise on the Players! That ain’t what I signed up for.

N: ……

K: Then I can’t fathom why you did. One person’s success is built on another’s sacrifice. And besides… If I’m not mistaken, your only motive for becoming a Reaper is sitting perched on your shoulder. One little Noise? Talk about petty.

B: Shut up! What do YOU know?

K: As you wish. 0 points. That leaves you with about five days to live including today.

B: What!?

N: Five days?

B: Then I ain’t gonna last the Game…

K: The Reapers’ wings are not license to do whatever you please. Ponder that during the time you have left. Now then, Player, in honor of your fall from grace, why don’t I claim your entry fee?

B: What!? NO!

K: I wonder what you hold dearest. Could it be…this Noise? It is, isn’t it?

B: Give her back, you Iron Witch!

K: Hmph. I have a better idea. Since this seems to be distracting you…

B: NO! Don’t you do it, yo!

*cutscene*

K: There. Much more manageable. Now you can focus on my mission.

B: Why you… Gimme that pin!!!

K: First, your mission. How about… “Defeat me. You have 6 days.”

N: DAYS?

K: Or until you perish. Whichever comes first.

B: Yo, I don’t need no six days--I’m gonna finish this right here an’ now!

K: A predictably hasty response. …Let me finish. Keep jumping the gun and you’re going to fail. Don’t you care what becomes of this pin?

B: Dammit! That ain’t fair…

K: At this point, I am going to move to a certain place. I will stay in that place for the next six days. You need to find me.

N: So it’s like hide-and-seek.

B: We just gotta find you? Tha’s easy, yo.

K: Correct. We call this Reaper Sport 2: “Hide-and-Seek.” I picked something at your age level.

B: Whatchu jus’ say!?

K: Best of luck to you. Oh, and here. You’ll need this.

B: A Player Pin…

K: I’m looking forward to watching you squirm and choke--powerless to find me…powerless to stop death from finding you. Take care.

B: Yo, get back here, dammit! Nngh!

N: The timer.

B: Dammit! She got away.

N: That’s the way to 104.

B: Yo, forget the Shibuya River. We gotta go after her, man. I need that pin! Otherwise bein’ the Composer means nothin’.

N: Wait, why? That Noise that was with you. What wa--

B: That ain’t no Noise, Phones!

N: Huh?

B: Le’s bounce!

*heading towards 104*

Kariya: Sooo…this is an O-Pin.

Uzuki: Reminds me of the design sweeping the town. You know… I think it’s the same pin.

K: Something about this stinks.

U: Better hold your nose, then. We have to wear ‘em. GM’s orders.

K: You mean her Iron Mugliness? She’s really gone and done it this time.

U: Oh, c’mon, live a little! Secret weapons? Unchained power? Sign me up!

K: Uh-huh. Ever wonder why they keep the chains ON?

U: I guess…it must take a toll.

K: Something must be spooking the higher-ups if they’re breakin’ these puppies out.

U: It does seem like overkill for one little freshmeat traitor.

K: Maybe. Maybe not.

U: Huh? Please.

K: Anyway, I see you’ve finally cheered up.

U: Well, yeah? Work is finally getting back to normal. Rewarding! Hee hee.

K: ‘Atta girl! Now how ‘bout a day for bowl of--

Konishi: Working diligently, I see.

U: Oh! Y-yes, ma’am!

K: Tsk…

*heading towards Dogenzaka*

N: Another wall… End of the road.

B: Naw, not this time, yo.

N: Whoa, don’t do anything crazy!

B: Yo, quit bustin’ my berries, man. I’m talkin’ ‘bout THIS. This wall opens with my Lv. 1 keypin.

N: The one you used to “open” the wall yesterday?

B: Heh heh. She forgot to take it back. There. Open. Le’s move!

*in Dogenzaka*

B: Dammit… Where’d that Reaper tramp go?

Black Reaper: Got you now, traitor.

B: Who the hell are you?

BR: A Reaper.

B: Yeah, like we couldn’t tell. Well, guess what. I’m a Player now. You ain’t allowed to touch me.

BR: What, didn’t you get the memo? The UG’s on Emergency Call.

B: Pfft. What’s the emergency?

BR: When the UG’s continued existence is threatened, neutralization of the malignant factors takes priority.

B: Sorry, man, but I don’t speak geek.

BR: It means the ban on attacking Players has been lifted. You’re just a bounty to me now. I’ll make officer if I erase you.

B: Heh, good for you, yo. Take your best shot. But I’m tougher than you think.

BR: Not when I’ve got an O-Pin!

B: “Oh pin”? Whassat?

BR: It makes me a dozen times more powerful than usual! Prepare to die, Dasukeno--

B: Bwaaah! Oh no you didn’t! Now you askin’ for it!

*fight*

BR: H-how!? The pin didn’t work?

B: Heh. You all talk, man. It don’t work ‘cause you WEAK.

BR: I underestimated you, Daisukeno--

B: Bwaaah! Dontchu say it!

N: Die-sue-what?

B: Forget it, yo. We got us a bigger problem.

N: The Emergency Call… We’re gonna have to fight off the Reapers now.

B: Rrgh, dammit! Why they gotta get up in our grills when we busiest? Why’d it have to come to this, yo?

N: …… Uh, because you betrayed them?

B: …… …… …… Bwaaah! You sayin’ it’s my fault? Well…we still OK! We jus’ gotta take out the Reapers if they try somethin’. Right?

N: Works for me.

B: Aight, le’s go find the Iron Maiden.

N: (Hmm… That’s weird, though. The GM could’ve just erased us. Why didn’t she? What’s the point of issuing some roundabout mission?)

B: Yo, le’s move!

N: All right!

*focus switches to the Reapers*

Konishi: can I count on you, Mr. Kariya? Yashiro?

Uzuki: Of course, ma’am! Special orders straight from the GM! We’re honored.

Kariya: ……

Konishi: You’re officer material, Yashiro. Where points are concerned, you rival the best of us. You could succeed. All you need is a little more self-restraint.

U: Yes, ma’am! Thank you for the advice.

Konishi: Show me some results, and I can guarantee a promotion. I’ll speak to Mr. Kitaniji myself. Now do your best.

U: I won’t let you down, ma’am!

Konishi: As for you, Mr. Kariya, you should already be--

Kariya: Picked a hiding place yet? Must be fun to run.

Konishi: “Run”? Oh, Mr. Kariya, you need to fix that erroneous assumption. I intend to ATTACK--from the last place they’ll ever suspect.

*heading towards A-East*

N: Hey! You see that?

B: Wait up, Ironface! Durff! Stupid wall! Keypin, keypin. Got it, yo! C’mon!

*in A-East*

B: Quit runnin’, you coward!

N: That’s A-East…

B: She’s hidin’ in the building, yo. This is our chance, Phones! Le’s take her out now!

*attempting to enter A-East*

777: Hey! You two! Perfect timing.

N: Huh? Oh. It’s you.

B: Whatchu want, man? We’re in a hurry!

N: Yeah, we don’t have time for you right now.

777: Aw, that’s too bad…for you.

B: Yo, Whatchu say?

777: …I am sooo on fire today! The bounty just fell right into my lap!

N: Wait… You wouldn’t!

B: Hmph. You know we gonna crush you, Porcupine.

777: Uhh… Don’t count on it, bro. I’ve been on a lucky streak today. Tix to our show tonight? Sold out. That’s a Def Mä rch first! Meteoric!

B: Yeah? Good for you, man. Go play wid your mic or somethin’ and step off my grill, yo!

777: Sorry. Denied! Whatever you did to get a price put on your head, I intend to collect. ‘Sides, if you’re threatenin’ the UG, that ain’t cool. I happen to like my UG/RG double life.

B: Like I’m the bad guy!

777: You are to me. Now, Daisukenojo Bito, prepare to be face-melted!

B: Bwaaah!

N: Die…bee… What? Is that some kind of hex?

B: Yo, don’t you dare use that name!

N: Name!? You don’t mean…

B: …… …Yeah.

N: Are you serious?

B: I know it’s lame, man. Jus’ call me Beat!

777: Let’s rock, Daisukenojo!

B: Bwaaah! You’ll pay for that, yo!

*fight*

777: Damn… You guys are tough.

B: Tha’s right. Now call me Beat!

N: (Is that all that matters to him?)

B: That cost us time, yo. Le’s keep movin’.

777: Hey, hold up. Finish what you started… End me.

B: End you? Yo, I didn’t even wanna start you. And I ain’t got nothin’ ‘gainst the UG, either. You got a show to play, man.

N: Go rock out. You gonna let down your fans?

777: …… Heh heh… Man, today IS my lucky day. Thanks, Phones. You, too, Daisukenojo!

B: Bwaaah! Yo, you askin’ for mo’ pain!

N: Hey! Calm down…

777: Dai--I mean Beat. Here. Take this.

B: Whatchu givin’ me, man?

777: My keypin.

N: Is that allowed?

777: Doesn’t matter. I don’t like owin’ people.

B: Aight, then. Thanks, man. …C’mon, Phones!

N: Yeah, she couldn’t’ve left the building.

777: Who?

B: The Iron Maiden!

777: You mean Konishi?

N: We saw the Game Master go in.

777: What? Naw, you’re mistaken. No one’s inside the place. I would’ve seen ‘em go in.

N: You didn’t see her? (But she went right past him… Still, he doesn’t look like he’s lying.)

777: Hey, anybody in here? I said, HEEEY!!! See? Nobody-- Gwaargh!

N: What happened?

B: Quick, Phones!

*in A-East*

N: It’s pitch black…

B: Hey! Porcupine! You aight?

N: …… Let’s have a look around. What’s this?

B: Looks like a dog collar.

N: It’s the choker 777 had on.

B: Huh? Then what’s it doin’ here?

N: …She erased him.

B: What!? That lowdown, dirty… How could she do somethin’ like that!? Where is she? I’m gonna hunt her down!

N: Hey, heads up! There’s something in here!

B: Tsk… Noise?

N: We’ll find her. But first, let’s get rid of this!

Konishi: Hee hee hee…

*fight*

Konishi: Hee hee hee…

B: Show yourself, Ironface!

N: She’s in here somewhere. Keep looking!

*end day 2, week 3*

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Week 2: Joshua (Day 5 to Day 7)

Jun. 16th, 2008 | 11:07 pm

J: Hello? Yeah, Mr. H? It’s me. You gave me a bum tracker!

N: (He killed me… Why? What would he stand to gain? Fastest way is just to ask. …Ugh, no. I still don’t have enough proof. And besides… Three days… Three more days, and it’s all over. )

J: There’s no mission today either. Yeah, we can get there. Something else is bothering me, too.

N: (Three more days with him. He’s a loose cannon. I need to watch my back.)

J: You better! OK, thanks. Later.

N: (This is for Shiki. I can last a few more days.)

J: All set?

N: First, I have a question.

J: Oh? What is it today, Neku?

N: What are you after?

J: This again? I told you. I’m jacking Shibuya.

N: But what does that mean? You’re looking for some river. Then what? Tell me now, or you’re on your own.

J: …… Sigh… Fine. I’ll keep this simple. Remember who’s in charge of Shibuya?

N: The Composer.

J: Very good. Right now HE’S got Shibuya jacked. Under his control. I want to change that.

N: Change it? …Wait. You want to bust in on the Composer with guns blazing?

J: Eventually. I have to find him first. He should be at the Shibuya River. Hence our search. Satisfied?

N: So it’s the Composer… We’ve been running around Shibuya looking for him?

J: With a busted tracker, yes.

N: …… Wait, so the Grim Heaper’s been after…

J: Me, most likely. I guess he’s onto me.

N: Ugh, just what I need. I’m in this to win! I can’t afford any unnecessary risks!

J: Neither can I.

N: (Then why are you… Ugh, this kid is the devil!)

J: Ready to go to Mr. H’s?

N: What for?

J: To get him to fix this glitchy tracker.

N: You’re still going after the Composer?

J: Of course. Now come on. You’ve asked your question.

N: ……

*focus switches to Uzuki & Kariya*

U: So, Kariya. What’s this big mystery you mentioned yesterday?

K: Oh, just Phones and the petit prince.

U: Those two? What about ‘em?

K: We’re about to go find out.

U: Wait, find out how? It’s hands off the Players. GM’s orders, remember?

K: So I’ll use my head. Besides, we’re just going to play a little game.

U: ……And that’s different how?

K: Details.

U: Well, I’m stinkin’ bored. Count me in!

*focus back to Neku & Joshua*

Kariya: Whoa there.

N: Huh?

K: Hey, kids. How goes?

N: You’re… What do you want?

K: You up for a little game?

N: Excuse me?

J: Look, we’re busy here.

K: Zing! Where’s the love? Yo, Uzuki.

U: On it!

N: Huh?

U: Wall’s up! Sowwy.

N: Hey!

K: Now then… Game on? I think so!

N: Rrgh… Great.

Red Reaper: …… Want past this wall? Then turn D+B into the hottest thing around. Make it number one in the area. Watch what pins and threads you wear into battle, yeah?

*in Shibu*

Red Reaper: YAAAWN. …I’m so over this whole wall thing. Today was supposed to be my day off. So hungry… Hmm, what to do… Ooh, I know! You want past this wall? Bring me some ramen. I wanna taste the sea, aight?

*in Dogenzaka*

N: Dogenzaka… That guy’s ramen shop was around here.

J: Say, Neku… Do you know where Dogenzaka got its name?

N: Nope.

J: And you call yourself a local.

N: ……

J: There are two stories. One attributes the name to Owada Dogen, a bandit. He was descended from a Kamakura-period general.

N: You don’t say.

J: The other story claims the name comes from a temple. Dogenzaka also comes up a lot in Japanese literature. Ever read Edogawa Rampo’s “The Fiend with Twenty Faces”?

N: Can’t say that I have.

J: You should. I mean, just think! You’re walking through the pages of literature and history.

N: I feel so epic.

J: …… Sigh… Neku, is any of this sinking in?

N: Oh, yeah.

J: You sure? …… All right. Pop quiz. Name the bandit who gave Dogenzaka its name.

*Owada Dogen*

J: Very good! What an excellent listener.

N: Yup. That’s me…

*back at Shibu dept. store*

Red Reaper: Ooh, you brought it! …Ugh. Where’d you get it? It looks foul. Keep it man, way to kill my appetite. Wall clear!

*in Cadoi City, heading towards Towa Records*

RR: …… Miss me? Like a bolt from the blue, it’s time for the Reaper Review. And away we go! Ready to use your noodle? Today we’ll be talking ramen. Specifically Dogenzaka’s own Ramen Don! Question 1! What’s the name of Ramen Don’s plucky owner? *Ken Doi* If you say so… Question 2! What’s the secret menu item he only serves to friends? *Insta-noodles* I know, right? Question 3! How much will a bowl of shio ramen run you there? *580* Aha! I see what you did there. OK… The results are in! Reaper Review, Lesson 4! Survey says… You pass! So pass on through. But! Though you may forget the Review--rest assured, it remembers you. We’ll see you again. Bye-bye for now!

*enter Towa records*

Uzuki: Ugh… And here I got my hopes up! THIS was your game? Booo-ring! So, spit it out. What’s so interesting about that kid on his second round?

Kariya: Wrong kid.

U: What, you’re eyeing the snobby one? What about him?

K: Oh, you’ll see…

*back to Neku & Joshua*

RR: …… Want past this wall? Heh heh heh. …You. Orangeylocks.

N: Me?

RR: Yeah, you! Come back wearing all Mus Rattus threads. Do that, and I’ll let you pass.

*change into Mus Rattus stuff*

N: Happy now?

RR: Pfft! Aha ha… What a chintzy outfit, man! It suits you.

N: …Excuse me!?

RR: Objective met. Wall clear!

J: Hee hee… He said it suits you, Neku.

N: I heard him!

*in Miyashita underpass*

RR: …… Want past this wall? Play me at Tin Pin! You ready? Here we go!

*play Tin Pin*

RR: …Crap. Is there NOBODY in this world I can actually beat!? Sigh… Look, just go. I…want to be alone.

*In Miyashita Park*

RR: …… Want past this wall? Then here. Defeat these Noise! …BUT. I pick your pins! Take a deep breath before diving into this one. Ready for a scream? Then here we go!

*after battle*

RR: Objective met. Wall clear!

Kariya: And you’re done. Thanks for playin’.

N: ……

K: Later!

N: …… What was that about?

J: Who knows. What a waste of time.

*head towards Cat street*

Uzuki: …Well? Figure anything out?

Kariya: Maybe.

U: Can you be a little more specific? Ugh, sorry… Yashiro here. …… Taboo Noise? …All right. Understood. I’ll take care of it.

K: Hmm?

U: Another Taboo Noise sighting.

K: Lovely. Where at?

U: HQ lost sight of ‘em on Dogenzaka. Well? Let’s go!

K: Go where?

U: What do you mean, where? After them!

K: You said HQ lost sight of ‘em. Are we supposed to wander around all day?

U: Got a better plan?

K: Let those kids be the bait. Then we just tag along until the Taboo Noise bite. Might even learn a thing or two about the bait.

*in the WildKat*

Mr. H: Oh, hey guys. Let’s see that phone.

J: Thanks. It’s been responding to most of Shibuya.

Mr. H: I’ll have it fixed in a jiffy. Sit tight.

J: Ah! Neku’s phone, too. The camera.

Mr. H: Right. Got it.

J: ……

N: ……

J: ……

N: …… (Why did he do it? Why would he want me dead? He’s trying to jack Shibuya… Do I play into that? …… That’s crazy. What could I do? I don’t know how to jack a town! Then again… He made the pact with me. Did he kill me just so we could partner up? …… If I want to ask, now’s the time…) Hey. Why’d you make a pact with me?

J: Hmm? What’s this, now?

N: When we first met, you said you’d been watching me. What does that mean?

J: …… Ahh. So that’s what this is all about.

N: (Rrgh…)

J: I’ve always been able to see the UG.

N: (This is the freaky ability Hanekoma mentioned?) Even when you were alive?

J: That’s right. Lucky me, right? I saw things others couldn’t. I knew about the Game here in Shibuya. I saw the Players. Reapers, Noise… The whole works.

N: So you were watching me from the RG.

J: The Game intrigued me. I was following it on my own when I met Mr. H.

N: When was that?

J: Oh, years ago. So I became a regular at his shop, listening to his stories. The more he told me about the UG, the more I came to see its charm.

N: What charm?

J: People racing across the city in a life-or-death struggle? Find me another rush like that in Shibuya. Life for me was one giant bore. Just the same thing, day after day… Now THAT felt like death.

N: So you…came here?

J: Yeah. I decided I belonged in the UG.

N: …… And you thought I did, too?

J: …Hmm?

N: You want to be here? Fine. But not me. You ki--

Mr. H: All done!

J: Really? Let’s have a look.

N: Dammit!

Mr. H: That do it before I head out?

J: Oh? Where are you going?

Mr. H: Just a little errand. Shop’s closed for today. Later, boys. 2-3, 2-3...

J: …… Well, the tracker’s fixed. Shall we? Oh, before we do… Neku?

N: What?

J: My turn. I suffered through your questions, didn’t I? Now I have one for you.

N: …What?

J: How’d you die, Neku?

N: What? You tell me, ass--(No. …Two more days. He wants me to play it that way? Fine.) …I don’t know.

J: Don’t know? Is that even possible?

N: My memory was the entry fee last Game. Most of it’s back, but…there are still a few holes. What about you? How did you die?

J: Hee hee… Not telling

N: What? (Ugh, nice.)

J: I’m here because I want to be. End of story. Ready to go?

N: (The questions bounce right off him. I can’t afford to get into a fight, though…)

J: …Are you listening, Neku? The signal’s coming from the scramble crossing.

N: ……

*In the Miyashita underpass*

Beat: Yo, Phones.

N: Beat…

B: You man up any yet? ‘Cause I don’t believe in hittin’ women an’ children.

N: Wh are you doing this?

B: You stupid? I’m a Reaper.

J: Don’t be silly. Reaper’s aren’t allowed to--

B: “Reapers ain’t allowed at, Mommy! Wah wah wah!” Shut it! This Reaper’s here to erase ya! Now bring it, yo!

Uzuki: Are you daft!?

N: It’s them!

K: Hey, no touchy, Freshmeat. Rules are rules. Reapers can’t attack Players until Day 7--and only the Game Master.

U: Yeah, and we’re all on standby. GM’s orders. Leave the Players alone. You may be new, Freshmeat, but you can’t just--

B: I’m special! I’m runnin’ a special op for the Conductor, yo.

U: Special op!?

K: My, my! A rising star, are we?

B: That’s right, Lolly. Twinkle twinkle.

U: Ugh! Why’d he pick you? I have seniority!

B: Beats me. Now you senior citizens can hobble off, aight?

U: Aaargh! Cocky little punk!

K: C’mon, girl, take it with dignity. Let’s leave the kids in peace. Have fun, Freshmeat.

B: Pfft, whatever. Aight, Phones, le’s dance!

*fight*

B: Urg… Now that’s more like it.

N: Beat, stop! You dropped--

B: I’ma drop YOU, hard!

N: Will you STOP!? This pedant is yours.

B: That’s… Hey! Low blow, man!

N: You dropped it the other day, Beat.

B: Yeah, sure. Now gimme it back! If you think you can use that to bargain, think again, yo! I’ll pry it outta your cold, dead hands!

N: No bargains! Here. It’s yours.

B: …… …Why’d you gimme it? We enemies, yo.

N: It’s important to you, isn’t it?

B: …… Hmph. Dontchu be expectin’ any thanks.

N: (…Bye, Beat.)

J: Is the delinquent Reaper gone? Hmm… A special op…

N: What about it?

J: Oh, nothing. Let’s go.

*in Towa Records*

N: This is CAT’s latest…

J: Shibuya’s full of his stuff, hmm? It must take a ton of time. I’m surprised he keeps that silly café open.

N: Huh? CAT opened a café? Where? In Shibuya?

J: You feeling alright, Neku? How many times have you been there now?

N: What!? Where the heck is it?

J: Cat street, silly.

N: Cat… No way!

J: Yes, way. CAT is Mr. H.

N: NO WAY! Mr. Hanekoma!? Is CAT!? Whoa…whoa! OK, calm down.

J: Hee hee. I’ll try.

N: Mr. H? Seriously? I don’t believe it!

J: How did you not know this? I thought you were CAT’s biggest fan.

N: He never does interviews in person. He’s never released any photos, either. I never even knew he was a “he”! Man… Mr. Hanekoma… I can see it, though. From the first time I saw him, I knew he was special. Damn, I’ve talked to CAT! That is freaking RAD!

J: Hee hee. I’m happy you’re happy. Just don’t tell him where you heard, hmm?

N: I won’t. (So, if Hanekoma is CAT… That means he’s… CAT’s NOT the Composer! Joshua’s looking for the Composer. Hanekoma’s helping him. The Composer wouldn’t be that dumb. Besides, Josh is too sharp not to notice. Guess I was over thinking things. CAT can’t be the Composer.)

J: I still don’t get why he’s so popular. It’s just street art.

N: CAT’s work all follow a single, consistent aesthetic. And he keeps the quality up. Most important, his work speaks to people.

J: I see.

N: That’s tougher than it sounds.

J: Is it? I bet you’d have little trouble.

N: Huh?

J: Use your Player Pin.

N: What’s this got to do with--

J: If you know what people are thinking, it’s easy to grab them.

N: It…it would be an advantage.

J: Right. Why bother with talk? With sifting through the lies we all tell? You could talk till you’re blue in the face and not hear the truth. And we all see things differently anyway.

N: It’s true. We’re not mean to see eye to eye. (But… I dunno, maybe it’s better that way. Sure, people don’t think alike. We don’t know what’s going through the other guy’s head. But we can TRY to find out, right? Expand our worlds through each other. Maybe that’s a better way to go--the real way to enjoy each moment.)

J: You OK, Neku?

N: Yeah, I could try to be CAT with this pin. But why? Where’s the enjoyment in that? I’d rather broaden my world my own way.

J: …… Neku… Hee hee. Your face is priceless.

N: Huh? (Who asked you!?)

J: Anyway, we really should make for the scramble. We may not be getting missions, but we still only have so much time.

N: (Him and his Composer hunt… He’s really serious? Kid’s crazy. He’s on his own.)

*in the scramble crossing*

J: Hold it. I’m getting a signal. It’s coming from--

N: Wait a minute. You want to take on the Composer.

J: Haven’t we been over this?

N: Look, I’m done with it. I have to win this Game. I’m not taking on any more risks.

J: …… Fine. I won’t ask you to get involved. At least let me pinpoint the River.

N: …… OK, but that’s it.

J: Hee hee. You’re so generous. The signal’s coming from the station underpass.

*in the station underpass*

N: …Here?

J: Looks like the tracker’s working now. Welcome to the Shibuya River.

N: Since when is there a river here? That’s news to me.

J: The Composer’s just ahead.

N: ……

J: ……

N: …What?

J: We’re blocked out.

N: This is the end of the line?

J: Unless we get rid of that wall. Let’s head back and gather more info.

N: (Gather it where? Who the hell’d know about this?)

*leaving*

N: We found your river. Satisfied?

J: For now.

N: What the…

J: Noise? The same kind as before!

N: Get ready!

*battle*

N: Did we kill it!?

J: Apparently not… Looks like we’re outmatched.

N: Rrgh! I can’t give up now…

J: …… Oh, all right… I was hoping to avoid this.

*cutscene*

N: Holy… Since when can you do THAT!?

J: I told you, I hate working up a sweat.

Kariya: Braaa-vo!

N: Who’s there!?

K: Afternoon, kids. …Hey, pretty boy. You’re ALIVE, ain’t ya?

N: What!?

K: That was one helluva blast. No way a Player could do that. You don’t see juice like that in the UG. You know, living folks aren’t allowed in the Game. That makes you a rule-breaker. I could erase you right now.

N: No!

K: But…I won’t.

N: Huh?

K: Too much work. ‘Sides, that Noise was givin’ us hell, too. So let’s just say I blinked. Not next time, though. You’ll be erased before you know it. …By Uzuki. Later!

J: …Whew. Lucky us, huh, Neku?

N: Joshua… Was that true? You’re alive?

J: …… Cat’s out of the bag. Yes, Neku. I’m playing the Game alive.

N: You’re… But how can…

J: There’s a loophole to everything. Sneaking in means I don’t have a Player Pin, but such is life.

N: So you just--

J: Please, it’s not a big deal. We formed a valid pact. We’re just like any other pair, Neku.

N: …No.

J: Hmm? I didn’t catch that.

N: No, we’re not, you punk! How can you say you’re the same as us? You’re alive! You’re here ‘cause you want to be! Not us! I don’t want to be here! I’m not playing the Game for kicks, dammit!

J: No, you’re playing because you want to live again. You still get something out of this.

N: You little bastard… Only what you TOOK from me! YOU killed me!

J: Aww, Neku. You said you didn’t remember! You sneaky little thing. So what if I did?

N: What!?

J: What if I am the one who killed you? You’re going to do something about it?

*end of day 5, week 2*

N: Back at the scramble again… (One more day down. Hey, where’s…)

J: Yeah, we found it. We just can’t get in.

N: (On the phone… Mr. H again? Why would he help this kid? Does he know Joshua killed me?)

J: All right. I’ll call you. Morning, sunshine.

N: Har har. You’re killing me, Josh. Oh, wait…

J: Again, say it was me. What are you going to do?

N: That’s easy! I’ll--

J: Erase me?

N: Don’t tempt me.

J: Oh, please. We’re partners, you and I. If I go, you’re dead in the water.

N: Rrgh! (You smug little piece of snot! You knew that going into all this! You knew you’d be safe if you made a pact with me! But why kill me in the first place? You could have picked anybody! Why me!? You don’t care about the Game or the missions… Just pushing along your little agenda.) Gah! Mail? A mission!? “Game VI: Beat the bosses of 2.2360679’s 0+5. t= 60 min. Incompletes will be destroyed.” Nngh! There’s the timer…

J: The bosses of 0+5... Meaning two fights?

N: Is 2.23 whatever code for something?

J: Let’s leave that for now. First let’s see where we have access to.

N: You’re sure into this today. What do you care about missions?

J: I care plenty, Neku. I am a Player.

N: You’re alive.

J: Maybe so, but I’m still a Player. If I’m erased here in the UG, the RG me dies. My stakes are just as high as yours.

N: Then why put yourself in danger?

J: Beats staying in the RG. Now let’s go.

N: Wait. Don’t think for a minute I’ve forgiven you. I’ll put up with you to clear the mission. That’s all.

J: Hee hee. Yes, sir.

*entering Center street*

J: Neku, look out!

N: Wha--

*fight*

N: Why’d that Noise attack?

J: Just like yesterday. They attack without any provocation. Some new kind of Noise?

N: Behind you!

J: Hmm!?

N: Wh-what just happened?

J: …… It seems we owe someone for saving us.

N: Who? (…Beat?)

J: Either way, we were lucky. I shouldn’t’ have been so careless. Stay sharp today, Neku. The Noise are on the march. Now--let’s see what roads are open.

*on Center street*

N: What’s up with the Noise today? They’re acting so strange…

J: There are generally two types of Noise. Strays that emerge from negative emotions in RG people, and the ones Reapers make to erase Players. Strays won’t attack Players, so…

N: The Grim Heaper’s out for blood?

J: Most likely.

N: Ugh. (Well, he can bring it on.) Let’s go!

Red Reaper: Gyaaah!

N: Look!

RR: The hell is up with this Noise!?

N: A Reaper. He’s being attacked by Noise!

J: Well, Neku?

*help him*

N: We’ve gotta help him!

J: If you say so.

N: More!?

J: These’ll have to come first. He’ll have to tough it out till then.

N: Rrgh! Hurry!

*fight*

N: That Reaper! Where’d he…

J: ……

N: ……

J: Gone, I’m afraid.

N: We left him to die…

J: We did what we had to, Neku.

N: ……


J: Still… Why was that Noise attacking a Reaper?

N: Do Noise made by Reapers not attack them?

J: That’s what I’d heard, anyway… ……

N: What the hell are these, then?

*in Tipsy Tose hall*

N: Look!

Sota: Nngh! More of ‘em?

Nao: Sota, sorry… I can’t…

S: Nao! Stay with me! We’re finishing this thing together!

Nao: I’d…love to…but it…doesn’t look like I can. Sorry…Sota…

S: Nao! Nao! Dammit… DAMMIT!

N: No!

J: Without a partner…he won’t be far behind. Well, Neku? Do we help him anyway?

N: …… You have to ask!? Let’s go!

S: Nngh! Nao… Looks like I won’t be far behind ya. Huh? Aren’t you--

N: We’ll handle this! C’mon, Joshua!

J: I’m ready.

*fight*

N: You OK?

S: Yeah… You saved my ass. Heh, for now, anyway. I lost Nao… I don’t have much longer. Nngh…

N: If…if we’d gotten here sooner--

S: Ain’t your fault, dawg. I wasn’t strong enough. End of story. Neku and Joshua, right?

N: Yeah.

S: You two survive. Get your old partner back. I hope all three of ya get back safe.

N: Augh!!! We were too late! They were right there, but…I couldn’t do a thing.

J: We may be the last pair. Let’s stay sharp.

N: Friggin’ Reapers!

J: Angry?

N: Hell yes, I’m angry!

J: At least you’re still in the Game.

N: Yeah? What about the people who aren’t? Screw the Game! These are people, not toys!

J: Why the sudden interest? I didn’t think you cared about other Players.

N: No…

J: No what?

N: Sure, other Players are strangers. Not just Players. Everyone. I don’t know who they are, where they’re from, what they care about. But…since I came to the UG, I…I’ve talked with them a little. Got to know them a little. Felt them a little… Felt my world grow. Just a tiny, tiny bit. It’s different now. They’re not just some strangers. I can’t shut them out like that.

J: My, my. This isn’t like you at all. Well, just don’t get your hopes up. You’ll never really understand the people around you.

N: Enjoy the moment.

J: Hmm?

N: Enjoying your world means making it bigger. I finally get that. The world as one person sees it is tiny. You’ve gotta…gotta reach out to other people.

J: …… Hee hee. Maybe so. Only by allowing strangers in can we find new ways to be ourselves. It’s possible. Now, are you ready? It looks like this mission’s up to us.

*Head towards Shibu-Q Heads*

J: Looks like Route 5’s the only one open.

N: Route 5?

J: From the crossing out to Udagawa.

N: So that 2.2 number…

J: 2.2360679. It’s the square root of 5.

N: Ugh, Pi-Face and his lame jokes. So what’s the 0 + 5?

J: Route 5 spans a total of six areas. The scramble, Center Street, AMX, Tipsy Tose Hall, Shibu-Q Heads and Udagawa. Assuming the scramble is 0...

N: Udagawa would be 5.

J: Precisely. Problem solved. Our targets are the bosses of the scramble and Udagawa.

N: All right. Let’s get this mission done. Next stop, Udagawa!

*in Shibu-Q Heads*

N: Them, too!?

Uzuki: Huff…huff…

Kariya: Still with me?

U: Where the hell did these Taboo Noise come from?

K: Game Master musta cooked ‘em up.

U: And sent them out after us Reapers? What is he, crazy!?

K: Incoming, Uzuki!

J: They’re having a rough time of it.

N: ……

J: Well, Neku? Do we send in the cavalry?

N: Let’s do it. They’ll hate it.

J: You’re so vindictive.

*fight*

N: You guys OK?

U: You two… Why’d you help us? Are you, like, stupid? We’re your enemies. Hello? Seriously. We can take care of ourselves!

K: Whew! You guys saved our butts. We were eight kinds of boned.

U: What? Kariya!

K: Enemy or not, if somebody helps you, you say thanks.

U: Ugh, whatever. I didn’t ask for your help! Just thinking about it makes me want to barf. A Reaper needing a Player to save them? Seriously, gag! We’re leaving, Kariya!

K: Two simple words. Is it that hard?

N: She’d rather have been Noise food?

J: Maybe “barf” is her version of “thank you.” Let’s get moving.

*in Udagawa*

N: We’re here. What’s the time?

J: Thirty minutes left.

N: Piece of cake. Let’s wreck this thing!

*fight*

N: Mission cleared. (Hang in there, Shiki. One more day…)

Minamimoto: Heh heh heh… Zetta fun times.

N: Zetta… Nrrgh! My head…again…

J: Hee hee. Why, hello there. Bored again? Or maybe just lonely.

M: Can’t have you 2 dying on me. My calculations’d go haywire. I’d lose all motivation to create. Glad you pulled through.

N: (Glad? Why would he be glad?)

J: Ahh! So you were the mystery helper in the first fight. Thanks for that.

M: Anyone too weak to beat a 000 like that is garbage. CRUNCH!

N: (He…helped us?)

M: Remember what tomorrow is? Day 7! That magical day when I get to go hands-on. Time for a little quiz. How fast will I erase you?

J: Not too fast, I hope.

M: 299, 792, 458 m/s!

N: What?

J: The speed of light?

M: I’ll correct the deviation that saved you last time we met here. This time, you’re a dead man.

N: (The pain’s fading… Are he and I connected or something?)

J: Tomorrow won’t be fun. I can only imagine what he’ll try.

N: (“Last time”? What did he mean by that? Was he talking to Joshua? He does seem to be Pi-Face’s target. So the two of them faced each other here before… When? I can’t blame anybody for wanting to whack this kid… But he’ll have to get in line. Once tomorrow’s done…)

*in the Death God’s Pad*

Konishi: That concludes Yashiro’s report.

Meg: So the Taboo Noise were Minamimoto’s doing.

K: This is grave treason, sir. Allow me to handle Minamimoto.

M: No need. I’ll discuss his punishment with the Composer. Your input is not required.

K: …Understood. However, this is a matter of urgency. I hope you’ll reach a conclusion swiftly. Next, the matter of the illegal Player. May I take action there? Or would you prefer to discuss--

M: You may. The rules are very clear.

K: Yes, sir. One closing remark--A certain Player has exhibited great resilience. Neku Sakuraba. What do you make of him?

M: …Heh. Sakuraba, of course! Just when I thought I had Him figured out!

*end of Day 6, Week 2*

N: Day 7...

J: Indeed. Kind of a shame. We never found a way into the Shibuya River.

N: …… Joshua… Why’d you kill me?

J: I killed who, now?

N: Drop it, Josh. You said it yourself.

J: I just asked what you’d do if I had.

N: Look, did you or--Rrgh… The mission. When we’re through with this, you’re telling me everything.

J: Hee hee. Whatever you say, Neku.

N: “Game 7: Erase the Game Master at Pork City. time = 600 minutes. Incompletes will be erased.” Nngh… Well, this is it. Just us and the Grim Heaper.

J: ……

N: What?

J: This mission seems odd. Ah, well. No sense in worrying about it. Shall we head to Pork City?

N: That’s past Dogenzaka. Let’s go.

J: After you.

*in 104 building area*

N: Hmm? Another mail? “P.S. Have cow and mouse on hand.” “P.S.”? That’s a first.

J: …… This entire mission seems odd.

N: Yeah… It is a bit different. No riddles. No weird numbers.

J: ……

N: Now this all of a sudden… Think it’s a trap?

J: Who can say? Though I have my guesses. Hee hee. All we can do is play along. We can’t win if we don’t complete the mission.

N: Right.

J: Hmm… Cow and mouse…

N: The heck does that mean?

*in Pork City*

N: This is where he’s hiding?

J: It’s a good spot for it.

N: How’s that?

J: All the stray thoughts in Shibuya flow through here. They hit Pork City and rise up above the city…then come crashing back down again. Always building, never lessening…

N: And he’s sitting on top of it all? Smug bastard.

J: Attention seekers do tend to favor high places.

N: That’s him all right. (I just need to take him out. Sit tight, Shiki.)

Black Reaper: Players? Here?

N: (Uhh, yeah?)

J: That’s the mission. Erase the Game Master here in Pork City.

Red Reaper: …… You hear anything about this, man?

BR: Nope. Mr. Minamimoto told us to guard this spot. That was six boring days ago.

RR: …… Well? What do you think?

BR: They’re here on a mission, right? Why not do the usual?

RR: Makes sense… If they’re here on a mission, that means Mr. Minamimoto wants ‘em here. OK. Meet my terms and you can pass. ……Want to get upstairs? You’ll have to wipe out all this floor’s Noise!

*fight*

RR: …… Objective met. Floor clear!

N: Hey… Does fighting here seem odd to you? Why do we wind up in that weird black and white space?

J: I don’t really know… It could be the imaginary number plane Mr. H told me about.

N: Imaginary what?

J: A parallel plane a fraction away from the world Noise inhabit. We may be fighting there.

N: That Pi-Face’s work?

J: Probably. But even so… Pork City is kind of an exception to begin with. He may just be directing its natural energy.

N: Wonderful.

J: Hee hee. This IS his base after all.

N: Not for long. Let’s head upstairs and beat him down.

*on 2nd floor*

Black Reaper: Players!?

Red Reaper: Why are they here?

N: (Again?)

J: We’re here for the mission, thanks.

RR: …… What mission?

BR: I dunno. But the guys downstairs let ‘em through.

RR: …… OK. Meet my terms and you can go on up. But don’t expect it to be easy. …… Want to get upstairs? Not until you de-Noise this floor!

*fight*

RR: …… Objective met. Floor clear!

J: Neku, are all your pins in order? I suspect he’s just ahead.

N: (I should put my A-list pins back on.)

*on the 3rd floor*

Minamimoto: Nngh!? You two? How’d you find this place!?

N: Is that a joke?

J: We got a mission mail. “Erase the Game Master at Pork City.”

M: What? An inverse matrix!? …Doesn’t matter. You just saved me the trip.

N: (What’s he going on about? Didn’t that mission come from him?)

M: I was hoping for a little reenactment. Same spot, same setup as last time…

N: (Last time? Nrrgh! Not now!)

J: You OK, Neku?

N: Waaaugh!

*cutscene*

J: I blew it…

N: What!?

*end cutscene*

N: It…it was you?

J: Neku…

N: You killed me… You stole my life!

M: Hmph. That’s insignificant.

N: What!?

M: I’ve had enough chatter. Come get derived. This time I’m eradicating you from my spatial coordinates! Drown in the sea of imaginary numbers!

*fight*

M: Hahhh… You’re zetta persistent…

J: Aww, what’s wrong? Weren’t you going to erase us at the speed of light?

M: Heh heh heh… Haaa ha ha ha haaa! 3.14159265358979323846264338337950288419716939937510582097494459230781640628620899862803482534211706798214808651328230664709384460955058223172535940812848111!

N: What the hell?

M: The world’s made up of numbers! I’ve been reverse-engineering my desired solution all along! And here it is!

J: Look out! That psych’s a Lv.I Flare!

M: I am victorious!

N: Nowhere to run!

J: ……

*cutscene*

J: But Neku… I thought you couldn’t afford to lose. Give up on yourself, and you give up on the world.

*end cutscene*

N: Dammit… Why… WHY!?

*end day 7, week 2*

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Week 2: Joshua (Day 3 to Day 4)

Jun. 13th, 2008 | 05:04 pm

N: (Where…? The scramble again? And Joshua? …He’s on the phone again.)

J: Yup… I’ll be there today. You’ll have it all ready for me, won’t you?

N: (Who’s he talking to? Same person as yesterday?) …… (Well, shouldn’t be long till the mission shows up.) …… …… …… (OK… What’s the deal? It never takes this long. Am I even getting reception?)

J: Say, Neku.

N: (…That smile makes me nervous. What are you scheming now?) Yeees?

J: You’re coming with me today, right? There’s someplace I’d like to go.

N: ……

J: You never followed through on your promise yesterday. So today, you’re making it up to me. …Right? We haven’t got anything else to do yet. So let’s go take care of my stuff first.

N: No way! I told you yesterday--first, we do the mission. Then you can play around. Besides, the mission could show up any sec--

J: Whoa, you’re right. There it is, Neku! Let’s see… “Proceed to Cat Street. Time limit: 15 minutes.”

N: Fifteen minutes!? That’s on the other side of Shibuya!

J: We’d better hurry, then.

N: No joke! Shut up and start running! Come on!

J: Yes, sir!

*in Center street*

J: Say, Neku. Hate to bother you when you’re in a hurry, but--

N: What do you want!? Just run!

J: If we’re going to Cat Street, it’s a lot faster to go past the Shibu Department store.

N: Wha--Why didn’t you say so before!?

J: You seemed to know where you were going. I figured you had some brilliant plan. Hee hee…

N: (Like beating you senseless?) Ugh, fine. Let’s just hurry!

*in Cadoi city*

Reaper: …

N: Ugh! Not one of THEM?

J: Looks like there’s a wall up ahead.

N: Dammit, we don’t have time for this! (…There’s only one way to Cat Street. And that’s through here.) Quick, let’s clear the wall!

*Do Reapers commands*

*Do more Reaper commands*

N: Huff…huff… Made it! Did we clear the mission!? Huh? No timer… Wait! Was there ever a timer? I never stopped to notice before… But our phones got the… What? There’s no mission mail…

J: Whew! We finally made it. It’s that café just over there, Neku.

N: Wait… Don’t tell me… You lied to me!?

J: Kinda, yeah. I’m surprised it worked this well.

N: You…UGH! I can’t believe you!

J: Oh, come on. No harm done. It’s not like we have a real mission yet. Anyway, here we are--so let me get this done.

N: ……

*enter WildKat*

J: Mr. H? You in?

Mr. H: Heyyy! I was waiting for ya, Josh.

N: Mr. Hanekoma!?

Mr. H: Hmm? Oh, Phones! What, you’re in the Game again?

N: Yeah… And because of that, Shiki’s… She was my entry fee.

Mr. H: They took the young lady, huh… Well, buck up. Nothin’ you can do about that right now. ‘Sides, boss, I’m sure she understands.

N: …Thanks.

J: I see you two are acquainted.

N: Yeah. He saved our asses more than once last week.

J: What a coincidence. He’s been in the business of saving my ass for some time.

N: (The two seem to go way back. Is this where Joshua learned all about the UG?)

J: I hate to seem impatient, but could we, you know?

Mr. H: Sure thing, J. Lemme see your phones.

J: Yours too, Neku.

N: My phone? What do you need with it?

J: Just doing a little upgrade.

Mr. H: More features the better, right? Gimme just a sec, guys.

J: I told him we were coming, so it shouldn’t take long.

N: Told him how? Wait, so you the person you were talking to on the phone was--

J: Mr. H, of course.

N: (Man, now I feel like an idiot. Mr. Hanekoma’s got his secrets, but I’ll trust him over this kid. I guess…if Mr. H is OK with him, I don’t have to worry quite so much.)

Mr. H: Sorry for the wait, guys. Here ya go.

J: Thanks. Now we can finally go on a little hunt.

N: A hunt? For what?

J: You’ll see when we find it. Let’s step out front and give the tracker a whirl. Hmm, no response around here.

N: ……(Just what is this tracker tracking? )

J: Ready to go, Neku? We’ll canvass Shibuya and look for signals.

N: (Should I really go along with this?)

Mr. H: What’s up, Phones? You look like ya got something on your mind.

*The café*

N: So this is your place?

Mr. H: Yup! I call it “WildKat.” Pretty hip, right?

N: Yeah… (It’s a nice enough looking place, but…nobody’s here. How’s he paying the rent?)

Mr. H: Always did love me some beans. I got to be such an addict, I started up my own café.

N: Because you love…beans. (Who gets into coffee because they like BEANS? That’s just… No.)

Mr. H: Oh, hey! I said I’d fix you up with a cuppa last time, huh? Have one for the road, man. …Only 250 yen.

N: (You’re CHARGING?)

*Joshua*

N: So how do you two know each other?

Mr. H: What, me and Josh? I’ve known him for a while now. He’d swing by when he was bored, and we’d talk. See, he’s a little special…

N: “Special”?

Mr. H: Yeah. He sees things.

N: Things? Like what? “I see dead people,” kind of sees things?

Mr. H: Pretty much. That’s how he knew about the Game. He saw Players and Reapers and all when he was still alive.

N: Oh…

Mr. H: And when he wanted to talk about it, he came to me. There aren’t many folks who’d listen, If you know what I mean. In a way, he’s been alone all his life. He’s pretty aloof, and can get prickly from time to time, but he’s not a bad kid. In any case, he’s your partner. You’re gonna have to make friendly.

N: ……

*The mission*

N: The Reapers are supposed to give out one mission per day, right? We still haven’t gotten one today.

Mr. H: That’s what I hear. The Game Master’s the one who handles all the missions, so I can’t tell you what I don’t know. But yeah, usually it’s one mission per day.

N: (The Game Master… This time, it’s that whack-job junk collector. He’s capable of anything… Doesn’t matter, though. I’m not letting the Grim Heaper trash Shiki’s life. I have to beat him, for her!)

Mr. H: The missions are guaranteed to show up on your phone. When one’s issued, you’ll know. So don’t go losin’ that phone, Phones.

*The phone*

N: So what’s this phone upgrade you gave us?

Mr. H: Oh, the tracker?

N: Whatever you call it. So…what, it picks up some kind of signal?

Mr. H: Pretty much. I set both your phones to locate energy spikes now. The tracker will point you towards the nearest spike.

N: What exactly is an energy spike?

Mr. H: You can ask Josh what you guys are looking for.

N: …… (Not if I want a straight answer.)

Mr. H: There’s one other feature in there now, too.

N: Another one? What’s it do?

Mr. H: I told Josh how to use it. Ask him.

N: …… (Not if I want a straight answer.)

*No more questions*

Mr. H: If you’re bored, go take a walk with Joshua. You still don’t have a mission, right? It’d be a waste to just sit around all day.

N: Yeah, but…

Mr. H: You don’t look convinced. Did you forget already? If you wanna survive in this Shibuya, you gotta--

N: Trust my partner, I know. It’s just…

Mr. H: You still got a long way to go, Phones. Knowing it in your head doesn’t mean much if you don’t act on it.

N: ……

Mr. H: Enjoy every moment with all ya got.

N: What!? What did you just say?

Mr. H: Huh? I say something weird?

N: “Enjoy every moment with all you’ve got.” That’s the motto of the one person I respect. I’ve made it my mantra. It’s the way I live.

Mr. H: You coulda fooled me.

N: Well, now’s not really the time to be enjoying life.

Mr. H: Uh-huh… You really have got a long way to go. Listen up, Phones! The world ends with you. If you want to enjoy life, expand your world. You gotta push your horizons out as far as they’ll go.

N: Are you kidding? I’m stuck in the Reapers’ Game. I can’t even leave Shibuya. How an I supposed to expand my world?

Mr. H: That’s for you to figure out.

N: (Expand my world…)

Mr. H: Now go on! Get!

Beat : Found ya!

N: Who’s there!?

B: Get ready to hurt, Phones! You gonna bleed today, yo!

N: Beat… You’re OK!

B: Better’n OK. See for yourself.

N: You’ve got…wings!

B: Pretty badass, huh? Proves I’m a Reaper, yo.

N: A Reaper… You really joined them?

J: Neku, you have Reaper friends, too? My, my. You certainly do get around.

B: He ain’t no friend a’ mine. I only came here to erase you punks.

N: What? You don’t really--

B: Yo, you hear what I said? Bring it!

*fight*

N: He’s…strong…

B: Pfft! That it? Your psychs is limp, yo! I was hopin’ for a real fight, man. But your weak ass ain’t worth beatin’ down. Go on, get lost. An’ consider yourself lucky.

N: Hey, wait! *he leaves*

J: Ugh, talk about your delinquent Reapers. A direct attack on Players three days in? Such egregious rule-breaking!

N: Then he’s really my enemy now…

J: If not, he could’ve fooled me. He wasn’t pulling any punches, Neku.

N: (But why would he join the Reapers?)

J: I should be careful, hanging out with you. If that was a friend, I’d hate to run into one of your enemies… Brr! Anyway, let’s move on.

*listen to Shooter & Yammer*

S: Where’d he disappear to after he beat me? I want a rematch…

Y: Sucks what happened yesterday. I thought you had it in the bag, Shooter.

S: Yeah… The bro in the headphones took off, too. What was the big rush? Hope he shows up at Stride so we can play.

J: Hee hee… Sounds like you have a fan, Neku.

N: ……

*back in the scramble*

J: Hold it! Neku, we’re getting a response!

N: A response?

J: It means we’re close. It’s got to be around here.

N: Around here where?

J: I don’t know…I need to pinpoint this. Let’s keep looking around.

*at Hachiko*

J: Wait, Neku. The signal’s getting weaker.

N: So we’re going the wrong way?

J: Let’s try another spot.

*in Dogenzaka*

J: Hmm?

N: What, pick something up?

J: Yeah… That.

N: What’s up with the line?

J: Let’s go take a look.

N: H-hey! Wait up! What are we even looking for?

Ramen Don owner: Sigh…

*enter Shadow Ramen*

N: Is this a ramen shop?

J: Looks pretty new. My phone says this is the place.

N: Here?

Makoto: Hey! No cutting! Boys, boys, boys… You need to wait in line, same as everybody else.

N: Uhh, guess we’re waiting outside, then.

J: That’s no good…

N: Wait…We’re invisible outside! We CAN’T wait in line!

J: You’re just realizing this now?

N: ……

J: Ugh, and the line isn’t getting any shorter. The signal’s definitely coming from in there, though…

N: …We’ve been tracking down ramen?

J: Wouldn’t that be a hoot?

N: …… Look, just tell me. What are we after?

J: ……

N: …… Wait! Do you feel that!?

RDO: I don’t get why that place is so popular. The taste is nothing to write home about…

N: Negativity. And it’s coming from him.

J: He’s staring at the line.

N: You think something’s up with this shop?

J: That might explain the signal I picked up.

N: Let’s start with the Noise on that guy.

*battle*

RDO: Buh! What am I doing out here? I can’t afford to sit around complaining! I’ve gotta come up with the next big thing in ramen!

N: He went inside.

J: Let’s drop by and talk to him. It’s not like this line’s going anywhere.

N: Yeah… (No mission yet, either… Weird.)

*enter*

RDO: Irasshai!

N: (Ugh, what’s that smell?)

J: I don’t see anybody else, but…sounds like he’s open.

RDO: What’ll you boys have today? We’ve got a new limited-time-only seasonal special in! “The Big Catch.”

N: (What the heck kinda name is that? I’m afraid to ask what’s in it. I’ll play it safe, thanks.) Just give me a plain old shoyu ra--

J: Exciting! Make mine the Big Catch!

N: (No way! He’s either brave or stupid. )

J: Him, too.

N: (WHAT!?)

DMO: You got it! Here ya go!

N: (What, it’s already done!? Is this…food?)

J: Mmm! ♫ Fantastic.

N: (Ugh, he’s EATING it!)

J: Mister, this is excellent!

RDO: Like it? Gah ha ha! Ya got good taste, son! What’s wrong? Eat up while it’s hot, Neku.

N: …Right. …… ……Huh? It’s…not terrible… It’s actually kinda good!

J: Using cheese as a hidden flavor really gives the soup body. The bold inclusion of a whole sea bream gives it flavor and presence, as well as a sense of austere majesty.

RDO: For a young kid, you know your noodles! Good to see there are still some folks left in Shibuya who get it.

N: (I’ll admit, it’s tasty. But…still. Who would order this?)

Makoto: Hmm? Closed again today?

N: (Another customer?)

RDO: We’re OPEN. Can’t you see these customers? I can’t work with you around. Go away.

M: Ahh, my mistake. The place was so empty, I just assumed. So… Give my offer any thought?

N: (It’s the guy who bounced us from that other place. …Why does he look so familiar?)

RDO: I’ve got nothing to talk about with you. Now get out.

M: Come on, champ. I need an answer soon. Do yourself a favor and join up with us. I guarantee you your profits will explode.

RDO: ……

M: What do the people of Shibuya want from a bowl of ramen? It’s not flavor. It’s adventure. Something different. Eating noodles in this town is an event…an experience! That experience beings the moment they get in line. What’s important is the presentation. How you sell it. I’m sure half of them couldn’t tell good ramen if it bit them. Anyway, give it some thought. The offer’s only open for a month.

RDO: Ha ha…. Sorry you boys had to see that…

J: Are you in some kind of trouble?

RDO: Heh… Must be, if I got kids asking about it. So, what, you wanna hear the story?

N: (Hear it and do what? We can’t help him…) ……

*flashback*

N: Shh! What’re you--

S: Let’s hear him out. Sometimes all people need is a good listener. We might even be able to solve his problem. If not, don’t worry. I promise I’ll say no.

N: ……

*back to present*

N: …… We can listen. But don’t expect any miracles.

RDO: Ha ha, hey, that’s more than enough!

N: Then, uh…go for it.

RDO: As you can see, business is hardly booming. If I don’t turn out some serious profits this month, I’ll have to close the shop.

J: But that ramen was so good! You’re closing?

RDO: Well, if I let those guys buy me out, I can keep going…

N: But you don’t want to?

RDO: The noodles they serve aren’t bad, but…there’s no love. They treat ramen as a way to make cash. Plus they hook customers with cheap tricks, not flavor. I say let our noodles do the talking!

Fangirls: Eeeeeek!

N: What the…

RDO: Ugh, the show begins… Go on out and see for yourselves.

Fangirls: Eeeeeek! It’s the Prince! He’s sooo dreamy!

N: Wait, that’s… (The guy I met at 104. Mr. Spicy Tuna Roll or whatever.)

J: He went into that other ramen place. Let’s go see.

*enter Shadow Ramen*

Prince: Exquisite! I can die in bliss. F this ramen! F…for FABULOUS!

Fangirl1: Omigosh, you hear that!? He F’d it!

Fangirl2: He only F’s the stuff he really likes! I want to try what he got!

N: That’s--

J: Eiji Oji. The prince of Ennui. His blog “F Everything” sees 100,000 hits a day.

N: (…So I’ve heard.)

J: When the Prince mentions a place on his blog, this happens. People flock there.

N: Hmph. Well, the noodles do look pretty good…

J: I’ll say. They didn’t cut any corners with the presentation.

N: Whoa, what? The staff dance as they cook!?

J: I guess it’s half food, half show.

N: This isn’t a theme park…

J: I see what he meant by “adventure.”

P: The savory ramen, the eclectic venue--I know my readers will love it here. You can bet I’ll be back soon.

Makoto: Always a pleasure, sir! This month’s our grand opening special! Every customer takes home a special gift! It’s a doozy, too… We’re giving out the hottest pin in town… This!

Fangirl1: Whoa! That’s like, super-rare!

Fangirl2: We seriously all get one!?

N: That pin… Yeah. It’s the one we promoted for a mission.

J: You don’t say…

N: Me and Shiki, we had to make that pin catch on. Wait a minute… That’s him! That guy in the suit is the promoter guy!

J: Another friend of yours, Neku?

N: He looks totally different. I hardly recognize him!

J: That’s people for you: always quick to do a 180.

N: (Uh, 180? Try a 1260.)

J: Still… Interesting. OK, Neku. Let’s go.

N: Huh?

J: Stick around, and we’ll get yelled at again for cutting.

M: …AHEM.

N: Right… Out we go.

J: My, my, Neku… I believe we have an incident on our hands.

N: Huh?

J: A new ramen shop explodes onto the scene--its owner, an overnight success story. And those red pins… This could be what my phone responded to.

N: You think the pins are the source of the energy spike?

J: Oh! And don’t forget the ramen that’s not selling. Odd, don’t you think, considering how good it is?

N: (Hellooo? You listening? )

J: That settles it. We’ll spend today getting to the bottom of this mystery.

N: “We”? I’m not about to ignore the mission when--

J: What mission, Neku?

N: ……

J: Now, let’s start sniffing out the reason this place is such a big hit.

*enter Shadow Ramen*

Mina: Hey, c’mon, wait your turn…

J: I just have a few quick questions. Do you mind?

N: (Wow, he cuts right to the chase…)

M: Huh? About what? I’m here with a friend, so keep it short, OK?

J: Why do you like the ramen here so much?

M: Why? Uh, ‘cause it’s the most popular spot in Shibuya?

N: (She likes it because it’s popular?)

M: And it’s fun, don’t you think? Where else do they dance while making your food?

N: (And that has what to do with the ramen?)

M: Plus, they gave me this cool limited-edition pin. How could anyone NOT like this place?

J: But it’s pretty new, right? How did it get this big this fast?

M: The Prince wrote about it on his blog. I mean, he F’d it! How can I resist food this fabulous? The 5,000-yen price tag is a little painful, but… After this, I can tell all my friends I ate here! Ooh, I should snap a photo and mail them!

J: I see…

N: So how’s it taste? Good?

M: Totally! The Prince said it was great. For 5,000 yen, it must be. Just look at the photo!

N: (It’s got a friggin’ steak on it…)

J: So where else do you go for ramen?

M: Huh? For ramen? Umm… I dunno, noodles aren’t really my thing. I barely ever eat ramen.

N: (Then what the hell are you doing here?)

M: Ooh! That said… It’d be awesome to see, like, a dessert ramen!

N: Dessert…ramen?

M: Yeah! Like, all fruity and sweet!

J: A tantalizing possibility.

N: ……

J: Well, thanks. That was informative.

M: OK. I’m gonna go eat, then.

J: All right, then. Let’s head out.

*listen to RDO*

RDO: I need to outsell that sorry excuse for a ramen shop… I need…something new. Something fresh.

*imprint dessert*

RDO: Yes! That’s it!

*enter store*

RDO: Oh! Perfect timing, boys! I’m trying out a new idea. Have a taste! I give you…dessert ramen!

N: (Unreal…)

J: ……

N: ……

J: Mmm ♫ Very tasty!

N: Yeah… This is pretty good!

J: Kudos, mister! Still… It’s missing something.

RDO: Hrm… Yeah… I thought so, too. These silly experiments won’t solve anything. Maybe that slicked-down kid is right. All people in Shibuya care about are trends. Nobody cares about the taste.

J: Hey, now…

N: That’s messed up. The ramen here is awesome, and nobody notices. But people line up outside for that other place, no matter how the food is. It’s stupid.

J: Welcome to capitalism, Neku.

N: But why are they all up on that place? They don’t even like the food.

J: It’s a conversation piece. People are always scrounging for something to talk about. “I came, I waited…I slurped.” They’re after a story, not a meal.

N: Ugh, they’re sheep!

J: Maybe all of Shibuya is.

RDO: Gah ha ha… Well, thanks anyway, boys. But I’m not giving up yet. I’ll keep making ramen as long as I can. If you come up with any brilliant ideas, let me know.

*in A-east*

Makoto: Prince, baby. You’re killing me.

P: Mick…

M: Gotta obey that contract, hmm?

P: But--

N: Hey, it’s those two.

J: Sounds like trouble in paradise. Let’s check it out.

M: Why’d you change your blog entry?

P: I told you. It’s my blog. I write it.

M: I feel you, Prince. I really do. But this is business. Your popularity is the real deal. I respect that. But the text you wrote is…limp. It won’t sell me any noodles. We decided this when you signed the contract. I provide the text.

P: But, Mick… Then it’s not my blog anymore. Plus the ramen you serve there isn’t that good. When I tasted the test batch it was great, but… Look, I don’t want to lie--in person, or on my blog. I can’t do that when my fans--

M: Eiji, Eiji, Eiji… Babe. Prince. It’s fine! None of those people care how it tastes! Follow me? The whole game is about image. And whoever sells the most wins.

P: Mick…

M: I’ll send you next text and some pics by tonight. You’ll have them up on your blog tomorrow, right? Fabulous. See ya! *leaves*

P: ……

N: Aha.

J: Exactly. Although it looks like the Prince is tired of playing puppet.

N: Hey! The Noise have got him!

J: Hmm… So they do.

*fight*

P: This isn’t right. I can’t lie to my public. I’ll try talking to Mick one more time. I write my own blog. I list my own thoughts, my own feelings… The ramen I’d actually like to eat. Sigh… I miss the old stuff. Like the ramen Sebastian used to make… Just noodles and broth. Warm, simple ramen. I’d kill for a bowl of that right now…

J: Even the Prince of Ennui has his woes. I guess we all do.

N: Dunno why he’s so hung up on ramen.

J: Hee hee. We all have our hang-ups.

N: Ugh, I don’t get it.

J: Of course you don’t.

N: What?

J: Everyone has their own little internal world--a secret garden only they can enter. Each world follows its own internal logic--individuality. And the logic of one world means nothing in another. …Understanding other people isn’t hard, Neku. It’s impossible.

N: Yeah. (Even if I could, I wouldn’t want to see inside other people. They can keep their secret gardens, thanks.)

*back on Dogenzaka*

M: Thank you all for coming out today. We appreciate your patience. As an apology for keeping you waiting, help yourselves to one of these. CAT-designed and hard to find! Today’s your last chance to get these pins here, folks!

J: Hmm? My phone’s responding.

N: To those pins!? Is that what you’re hunting? Rare pins?

J: Not quite. What I’m looking for isn’t a thing.

N: …… So… CAT designed these pins?

J: CAT’s the big graphic designer, right?

N: Yes and no. They do artwork, clothes, even furniture. And that’s just the start. Photo, music, video…CAT’s an uber multi-talent. Shibuya’s full of their billboard ads.

J: Like the one at Towa Records?

N: Yup. CAT doesn’t just make art. CAT IS art.

J: You’re awfully knowledgeable. Are you a fan?

N: Hell, yes! CAT’s all about enjoying every moment, with all you’ve got. Do what you want, how you want, when you want. How cool is that?

J: Wow, you sound so devoted.

N: That’s why this pisses me off. He’s using CAT’s work to trick people.

*listen to RDO*

RDO: I need to outsell that sorry excuse for a ramen shop… I need…something new. Something fresh.

*imprint simple*

RDO: Yes! That’s it!

*enter shop*

RDO: Irasshai! Hey! I’ve been waiting for you two. Take a taste! See what you think!

J: This is…

N: Regular old ramen?

J: Interesting… Well, here goes.

P: Hold it! Please… Let me try that.

J: …… Fine…

P: Thank you. Now, to dig in… …… …… Amazing! Is it OK for ramen to taste this good!? F this ramen! F it to high heaven!

RDO: Uhh… Is that a compliment?

P: Of course! F for FABULOUS! …Still. This ramen is exceptional. Let me guess: a whole chicken in the soup? That, and a hint of pork bone, seaweed and sardines… It all blends together so perfectly! Truly, the handiwork of a ramen artisan! This is the ramen Sebastian made!

RDO: It’s the same ramen I’ve always made. Haven’t changed a thing. I just serve up the kind of ramen I’d want to eat.

P: Among the flavors, I… I can taste the love you’ve put in this. Your love of ramen… No. Your love for ramen-lovers! Are you… Is that you, Sebas--

RDO: Everybody hits rough patches in life. So next time you’re down, drop on by and I’ll fix you a bowl. Remember--the future is a clean slate, and you’re the chalk!

P: The future’s a clean slate…

Makoto: Ha ha! Try a blank slate pops. Considering this place is gone in a month.

P: What!?

M: And you… Prince, baby. You’re my walking billboard. Can’t have you eating at the other guy’s joint, can I?

P: …… I’ve come to a decision, Mick. I won’t work with you on this any longer.

M: Babe, babe… Calm down. You’re talking crazy, Prince.

P: I knew after tasting Sebastian’s ramen again. I refuse to be a part of this! Not if it requires me to keep lying. And you’ve got it backwards, Mick. A store isn’t good because people talk about it. It’s the product. The taste! People talk about a store because it’s good! There’s love in Sebastian’s soup--love for the people eating it. That’s the sort of ramen I want other people to know about!

M: Ugh…Eiji.

J: Shibuya today is inundated with “adventure.” And when all anybody offers is “something different”…you get hungry for the familiar. It’s comforting. Love has always been the world’s best secret ingredient.

N: Gotta fill more than just your belly.

RDO: Heh… Love, huh? Guess I forgot that somewhere along the way. I’d harp on about it left and right, but…those new experiments were all just me trying to get in on the show. I forgot the important part--the smile on a satisfied customer when they’re done eating. My job is making ramen that makes people happy. Popularity is no reason to change my soup. I’ve wasted all this time…

P: But you’ve still got your chalk.

RDO: Heh… Right. I can cook a lotta ramen in one month! I’m stickin’ to my guns!

N: Hopefully the guy’s place will take off.

J: I was thinking. “Something different”… Maybe everyone in Shibuya is here searching, struggling for a peek into their neighbor’s worlds. When those neighbors change, they get scared, feel they have to change themselves--even what makes them who they are.

N: Right. You don’t want to change, but you don’t want to be left behind either.

J: Of course not. We can’t go through life alone. We’re part of a community. We have to live by its rules. And the move we connect with people, the trickier those rules get.

N: Yeah, and the more people hold you back. Screw living in a world choked by rules. I’m living free. Like CAT. It’s just easier on my own. Nobody else’s baggage. Nobody else tying me down. …People aren’t meant to figure each other out.

J: My thoughts exactly. I’d rather just get rid of them.

N: What?

J: Same as you, Neku. Those headphones you wear say it all.

N: (Yeah, so what? I don’t like other people. I’ve got no use for the next world over…so don’t come barging in on mine. My own world’s all I need… Unless…)

J: Will you look at the time!

N: And still no mission…

J: It’s probably too late now. Our little hunt will have to continue tomorrow, too.

N: Huh?

J: The signal’s disappearing.

N: But before it was reacting to these pins, right? It’s still picking mine up faintly.

J: There was a whole bunch of them before. Maybe they added up to a stronger signal?

N: So why CAT’s pin, anyway?

J: It’s not what I’m looking for. I know that…

N: OK… Then what ARE you looking for?

J: Well, put simply…

N: ……

J: I’m looking for what this tracker is tracking.

N: (What the… Oh, that’s real helpful! What the hell is this kid after?)

*End of day 3, week 2*

N: ……

J: ……

N: Yesss! I win!

J: This isn’t fair, Neku. When did you suddenly become a Tin Pin expert?

N: And why should I answer that?

J: How about because I’m asking you!? Have you been secretly training?

N: Maybe. Look, a win’s a win. That means we wait another hour for the mission.

J: Ugh, Neku… Cut me a little slack.

N: Not happening. I won. Therefore, we wait.

J: Ugh, fine… But this is a huge waste of time. ……Hello?

N: (This is getting to him. Keep it up, and he’s bound to crack.)

*Reaper hangout*

Konishi: Today fourteen Players were erased, sir.

Meg: Leave it to a genius. At this rate, the Game won’t last the week.

K: About that, sir… No missions have been issued in the last two days.

M: None?

K: None, sir. Nevertheless, Players have been disappearing at a startling rate.

M: And Minamimoto?

K: AWOL. He broke off contact yesterday.

M: Our Game Master’s gone missing?

K: His so-called “works of art” have been sighted around the UG--thus, I suspect he is still in the area.

M: …Then let’s leave him be for now.

K: Meaning you won’t require an inquiry into Minamimoto’s activities?

M: Correct. He’s not a social animal. Give the man space.

K: …Understood. As you wish, Mr. Kitaniji.

M: Any other problems?

K: Several Reapers were attacked on Route 5, sir. We suspect Taboo Noise.

M: Taboo Noise… How does this affect our manpower?

K: The losses are within tolerances. I’ve already set about identifying and locating the perpetrator.

M: Very good. So explain the dwindling Player count…

K: Yes, sir. I’m looking into any correlation between the two incidents now.

M: Perfect. I’d expect no less. I leave it to you, Konishi.

K: Understood, sir. (Sho Minamimoto…A true genius. Youngest Reaper officer in history. Tactics, intel, willpower, decisiveness, performance… His numbers are just short of Mr. Kitaniji’s. Except for cooperation. A whopping zero… I’ll admit he has talent, but his quirks are beyond control. What is he after? My analysis suggests--)

*back to Neku and Joshua*

J: How can you be busy, Mr. H? Your café is always empty. …Fine, fine. Sorry. …Later. Ugh…

N: (Fifteen minutes and counting… Any minute now, he’ll--)

J: Say, Neku. Could you do me one teensy favor?

N: (Bingo. Now, to beat him to the punch.) If this is about the wait, I’m not listening.

J: Fine. How about a trade?

N: (Right on cue!) OK…Answer my question, and I’ll go with you.

J: You’ve twisted my arm. Go on, shoot.

N: …What are you after?

J: You’re curious?

N: If you don’t feel like talking, we can wait.

J: Hee hee… It’s nothing major. I’m going to jack Shibuya.

N: …Right. How ‘bout a real answer?

J: That was a real answer.


N: …… What? How do you jack a town?

J: That’s why I’m looking for the Shibuya River.

J: My turn to ask a question. Do you really want a second chance?

N: Huh?

J: What’s waiting for you in the RG? You’re as alone there as here. What’s the difference?

N: ……

J: Hee hee. You don’t have to answer. I don’t really care. Now let’s get started. How’s our signal today? Hmm… It’s coming from out past Shibu-Q Heads. That puts it over near--

N: Udagawa!?

J: Oh, right! You know the city well, Neku.

N: Shibuya born and raised.

J: My, my!

N: It’s coming from Udagawa, right? Let’s go.

J: Well, this is new… Someone’s an eager beaver today.

N: (The Udagawa district… Same place I saw in your head. Along with me, lying dead on the ground. How’d I die? And who the hell are you? I might find my answers there.)

J: Hmm? Reaper alert.

Tenho: Let’s just report it to the police.

777: Um, hello? We’re metal. And Reapers! No way. We’d lose all our cred!

BJ: Like you have any after boning this up.

J: Sounds like an argument.

N: Sounds like trouble we don’t need. Let’s ignore them.

*study trash pile*

N: Another junk pile…The Grim Heaper strikes again?

J: Know anyone else who’d put something like this together?

N: …There’s something written on it. “Any sound can shake the air. My voice shakes the heart!” …… Uhh…what? First of all, sounds don’t really shake anything…

J: I think he’s saying he’s better than air.

N: ……Uh…huh.

J: The tracker’s responding here, but…I don’t think it’s what we’re looking for.

N: ……

*try to go into Shibu-Q Heads*

777: Hey! Hold up, you two.

N: (Ugh... Busted.) Wait! You’re that--

777: Hey, my man! I remember you. Perfect timing. You’re not busy, right? Help a brother out?

*sure*

777: You’ll hear me out? Rock!

J: Ahem. We’re booked. Right, Neku? Sorry, but we have somewhere to be.

N: Right…Udagawa.

777: What? Yo, Tenho!

T: On it. *flash*

N: What? A wall!? Hey!

777: You wanna get through here? Help us out.

N: ……

J: Thrusting your person problems on Players? How very professional.

N: So what’s the deal?

777: Long story short? Our band’s microphone has gone missing!

N: ……

777: Happened around 2: 00 yesterday. We had a little gig at Molco, right? Even unveiled a new track. Shoulda been no problem. But! The show ends, we split for the day--I let our stuff outta my sight for one minute, tops--I get back and the mic’s gone!

BJ: Yeah, says you. You prob’ly just left it someplace.

777: I’m tellin’ you, BJ, it was stolen! That thing is Def March’s heart ‘n’ soul! I wouldn’t just lose it. Somebody TOOK it!

BJ: Who the hell would want a mic with wings?

777: …

BJ: Wh-what? Hey, YOU lost it!

777: Ugh… Fine. Let’s just split up and look for it, OK?

N: (Why are WE looking for YOUR junk!?)

BJ: Screw that, man. You lost it. You find it. I’m outta here. Oh, Tenho… This your phone, bro?

T: Oh, snap…

BJ: I found it lyin’ around.

T: Thanks, man. I was wigging out trying to find it. Where was it?

BJ: In the…uhh, I mean…S-Spain Hill!

T: ……

BJ: I’m headin’ back to A-East. Later.

T: I’ll go look around Molco again…

777: Thanks!

N: I still don’t see how this is our problem…

777: Aww, c’mon. Look, I’ll pay ya. Help us out.

N: No way! We’re--

777: Here, lemme pay you before I forget!

N: (Ugh! Punk beat me to the draw…)

*talk to 777*

777: Hey, boys! Get crackin’.

N: Can you give us a little more to go on?

777: Sure! Whaddaya need to know?

N: Describe the stolen microphone.

777: It’s a stand mic with black wings.

N: Black wings?

777: Yeah, it’s the band’s symbol.

N: Who’d want a bat-mic?

777: I can think of one guy…

N: Really!? Who?

777: Freakin’ BJ.

N: BJ?

777: Guy in the black hoodie? He was just here. He’s been whining about wanting to do vocals. We had it out over that yesterday. Said he wanted his share of the glory. The mic went missing right after that.

N: Wait, he stole it because…he wanted to be a vocalist? That makes no sense. What happened when the mic was taken?

777: I actually didn’t tell the other guys, but…just before it disappeared, I got a call.

N: A phone call?

777: Yeah. Thinking back now, it was pretty shady.

N: Why was the call shady?

777: They didn’t give me their name… Just, “Meet me by Cadoi City.” “We need to talk.”

N: Any guesses?

777: Not really. Called ID said it was a public phone. Sounded like an affected voice, too.

N: So…did you go?

777: Yeah, but nobody was there. When I got back to Molco, the mic was gone.

N: That IS shady.

J: So someone called to lure you away. And you think the Reaper in black you were fighting with--BJ, was it? You suspect him?

777: As much as I hate to consider it… Well, good luck, guys. I’ll be right here.

N: (Ugh… What a pain.) So? What now?

J: Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? We investigate the crime scene and question the people involved.

N: What, have you done this before?

J: So we’ve got Molco and the two bandmates. Let’s get started.

*enter Spain Hill*

J: Hmm? Isn’t that…

Tenho: ……

N: Let’s see what he has to say.

J: Any luck finding the mic?

T: ……

J: I’d like to ask you a few questions.

T: …Sure, whatever.

J: 777 said the mic was the band’s soul. What makes it so special?

T: It just is. Back when we were still busking on the streets, we all pooled our money to buy it. It’s a symbol of our bond as a band. As friends. I stuck wings on it, to remind us of that. Got us through some rough times.

J: I see…

T: But lately 777 and BJ have been fighting over who gets to sing--over who has rights to the mic. Talk about irony…

J: You must be happy, then--the object dividing them is out of the picture.

T: Yeah… …B-but not that happy! I just… Hmph. Never mind.

J: Where were you yesterday at 2: 00?

T: …R-right here?

N: (Are you asking us or telling us?)

J: Ah, yes. BJ said he found your phone on Spain Hill.

T: Yeah… Must’ve dropped it here. Well, I don’t see our mic here. I’m going back to wait with 777.

J: You’ve been very helpful.

*enter Molco*

N: He said the mic went missing at Molco, right?

J: Look. A phone booth.

N: Oh, right. 777 said the call came from a pay phone. Then let’s--

Nao: Hey there! Aren’t you, like, Players?

J: And you two are… Ahh, yes! The winners of the slam-off.

Nao: You, like, remember us? Super yay!

N: You need something?

Nao: So, like, I’m always with the same guy, and I wanted to talk to somebody else for a change? And most folks can’t, like, see us, so…

Sota: What’re your names?

J: I’m Joshua. This is Neku.

S: Nice meetin’ ya, Neku, J-dawg. I’m Sota. The cute one’s Nao.

Nao: Call me Nao-Nao for short, ‘K?

N: Uhh…sure.

S: Hey, did you guys know? No missions yesterday or today, but Players are still gettin’ wiped out.

N: Wiped out?

Nao: You should be careful, Nekky!

N: N-Nekky?

Nao: We saw some real scary Noise before? We ran like bunnies! You should, like, totally run if you see ‘em!

S: Let’s just all stay sharp and get through this together, huh?

N: Uh, yeah.

J: Hmm? Didn’t you know?

N: Hey, man, don’t--

J: Even if multiple Players survive…only so many get to come back to life.

Nao: What? Um, like, uncool?

J: The other Players aren’t your friends. They’re your competition. That goes for partners, too.

Nao: No way… If, like, two people survive? And only one gets to go back? What happens to the other one?

J: They play again, same as Nekky here.

N: ……

Nao: Whoa, like, this is your second time?

N: …Yeah.

Nao: Then your partner made it back!

N: No…she didn’t.

Nao: Huh? I don’t get it.

N: She was taken as my entry fee.

Nao: No way! That’s, like, super cruel!

N: I chose to play again, and she… It’s my fault she didn’t make it ba--

S: No worries, man.

N: Huh?

S: She was your entry fee, yeah? That means you really care about her. No reason to feel guilty for that.

Nao: Yeah! It’s, like, totally not your fault! I’d gladly be Sota’s entry fee if it gave him another chance.

S: And I’d play the Game a million times for Nao. Whatever it takes to get us back to the RG, dawg.

N: …… You don’t think I’m to blame?

S: Forget blame, man! Plus, I don’t care if only one of us gets a second chance. I still ain’t sniping other Players.

Nao: Yeah! Like, fighting so isn’t the answer? We all want to be alive again. Nobody “deserves” it most, right? …I want you to win, too, Nekky. So, like, this is for you?

N: A pin?

Nao: Yeah! We, like, won it at the slam-off? And now it’s yours. Yay!

N: You sure?

S: We couldn’t use it. Not that we’re dumping our trash on you, but… Anyway, give it a try.

N: Thanks.

S: We should probably move on, yeah?

Nao: Be safe, Nekky! Bye, Josh-Josh! Like, see you later?

J: They were charming.

N: Nobody deserves it most…

J: Hmm?

N: (It’s true… Everybody’s got their own deal. Their own dreams. None of them outweighs the next…) Shibuya’s full of all kinds of folks, huh?

J: Hee hee… Talk about your non sequiturs.

N: Sorry… …So how ‘bout we check out that phone?

J: Hmm, no microphones here…

N: Thank you, Captain Obvious. 777 said the call came from a pay phone. Is this the one?

J: This looks like a job for my phone!

N: …Huh? What, the tracker?

J: No, the other new feature.

N: What other new feature?

J: The camera.

N: Don’t most phones already have a camera?

J: Hee hee… Watch and learn. I simply set the time to yesterday, and…

N: What and learn what? It’s a photo.

J: Hmm… Let’s try a different time.

N: Ahh! The mic!

J: So it was right here at this time yesterday.

N: What the heck? How did your phone--

J: Weren’t you listening to Mr. H? He added a couple of new features. One’s the tracker. The other one’s this camera. It takes photos of the past.

N: Holy… (That’s Mr. H’s work? Who the hell IS he?) So, could you shift the time later to see who took it?

J: Let’s try.

N: That’s…BJ, right? And the mic’s gone!

J: Hmm, very suspicious.

N: Let’s take one more, just to be--

J: Can’t.

N: Huh?

J: There’s a three-shot-per-day limit.

N: What? Why!?

J: How should I know!? Ask Mr. H!

N: (Suddenly, it’s a lot less impressive…) Then we’ll use mine. …Huh?

J: Something wrong?

N: My phone has no camera.

J: Hmm… He must have forgotten to do yours.

N: ……

J: Care to see those shots again?

*at Towa Records*

N: Look who.

Uzuki: We’ve been looking forever, and still nothing!

Kariya: Chill out, Uzuki. Slow and steady, girl.

U: Are you kidding!? This is a direct order from Ms. Konishi! Don’t you blow my big chance to-- Ugh, you again?

J: You actually look busy today.

U: Very busy, thank you. We certainly don’t have any time to waste on you. Kariya, we’re leaving!

K: Aight. Whatever…

N: (Hmm, wonder what they were looking for.)

J: The signal’s getting weak. Let’s try someplace else.

N: ……

*in Scramble Crossing*

N: Hmm?

J: Isn’t that…

BJ: Sigh… I thought for sure it’d work.

N: Let’s see what he has to say.

BJ: Sigh…

J: AHEM.

BJ: Gah! Wh-what!?

J: Weren’t you headed back to A-East?

BJ: …… …I wanted to lose myself in the crowd for a bit. Y’know?

N: (Can’t say that I do, actually.)

J: We just had a few questions for you.

BJ: Look, what do you want?

J: About the stolen mic--

BJ: Stolen? Please. 777’s full of it. I’m sure he just left it someplace. Either way, he should’ve been watching our stuff.

J: I hear that you wanted that mic for yourself.

BJ: So what if I did? Doesn’t matter now. I don’t need it anyway.

J: Where were you yesterday at 2: 00?

BJ: Oh, uh… I was… You know, uh…Dogenzaka! Yeah! In line for the new ramen place! Why would I go to the phone booth by Molco? I don’t even know it’s there!

J: Mm-hmm…

BJ: Wh-what? Just gimme some space, would ya? I want to spend some time alone.

J: Of course. But first…take a look at this photo.

BJ: Wha-- How did--

J: That’s the phone booth near Molco. Aka the phone booth of love. …Right?

BJ: Gah!

J: Isn’t there some kind of urban legend? They say if you use this phone to confess your love, the other person will love you back.

BJ: Oh, um…really!?

J: I don’t know who you called. But you were there yesterday. That much is fact.

BJ: But I--

J: You weren’t in Dogenzaka. You were chatting up some tramp near Molco.

BJ: She’s NOT a tramp!

N: (Damn, Josh…. Remind me not to tick you off.)

BJ: You can’t tell ANYONE about this! OK, so I was there yesterday! I made a call Are you happy now!?

J: Quite. You’ve been very helpful, thanks.

BJ: Ugh… I’m headin’ back to see 777. Hopefully he’s found the stupid mic by now. Seriously, if you tell a soul, you’re dead.

J: I don’t think we’re getting anything else out of him. Let’s move on.

*heading towards 104 building*

Announcer on TV: Feeling pinned? Break down those boundaries. RED SKULL.

N: Hey, it’s that commercial…

Random person: Ooh! Ooh! Look, it’s playing!

Random person 2: That CAT pin is phat!

RP: You can’t find that pin anywhere!

N: It’s really taken off… Even folks who seem like they wouldn’t be into CAT have ‘em on. Bet they don’t appreciate it at all.

J: Like the guy handing them out at the ramen place. Looks like everybody has Red Skull fever.

N: Shiki and I were pretty thorough.

J: ……Looks an awful lot like the Player Pin, hmm?

N: …… So who makes the Player Pins, anyway? The Reapers?

J: Nope. That’s Composer territory. He’s responsible for creating and controlling them.

N: The Composer… The guy in charge of Shibuya?

J: Correct. We’re in the Composer’s Game. The Reapers are just his enforcers. They execute his designs.

N: Some designer. His Game royally sucks.

J: Hee hee… Doesn’t it?

N: ……Can he and his Reapers go to the RG?

J: RG, UG--it’s all the same Shibuya. Just, people in the RG can’t see us here. We’re like air, Neku. Invisible, but very real. Players are only visible in shops with special decals, but Reapers can materialize at will. They’re perfectly visible in the RG--minus the wings, of course.

N: So they have wings here, but not in the RG?

J: Apparently a Reaper’s wings house his power.

N: So they’re basically just normal people in the RG… …… (So the Player Pins only exist in the UG. The Composer makes them. And now the Red Skull pin…with a very similar design. Hell, it’s freaking identical. Coincidence? Not likely. So, what? Are they both just… No. They’re made by the same person? Then…that would make the Composer… …… No way. Not CAT!?)

J: Hmm? Something wrong, Neku?

N: No. I’m fine.

*back at

777: Well, if we haven’t found it by now…it’s probably not turning up. I’ll go report it to the po’.

J: Not so fast…

777: Huh?

J: I think I’ve identified your thief.

777: You serious!?

N: Wait, what?

J: Hee hee. Let’s recap, hmm? The theft occurred yesterday at 2: 00. 777 received a strange phone call.

BJ: What phone call?

J: “Meet me by Cadoi City. We need to talk.” The microphone was stolen while he was away.

Tenho: ……

J: According to 777’s caller ID, the call originated at a public phone. Care to know who placed it? We have conclusive proof.

BJ: What!? Y-you guys aren’t gonna--

J: This photo shows… Neku?

N: What, I’M telling them!? Uhh, this photo tells it all…

*2: 02*

777: Wait… BJ!?

BJ: I told you not to say anything!

777: So it WAS you who called me!

J: Whoa there. When did you get that call? Precisely, that is.

777: Uhh, lemme check… 1: 40.

J: Take a closer look at the photo. See? It was taken at 2: 02. BJ used the phone. That much is fact. But he wasn’t calling you.

BJ: ……

J: No, he was calling a lady friend, hmm? To whisper sweet nothings in her--

BJ: AHHHHH! …… OK! OK! I admit--I told a chick I like her! And she completely blew me off! Happy now!? Go ahead! Laugh!

J: …… Deep breath, Beej. That isn’t the point of the photo. Look what’s in BJ’s left hand.

777: Hmm? Is that a cell phone?

J: Certainly looks like it. But not BJ’s.

777: I don’t get it…

J: Look at this photo. Would you do the honors, Neku?

N: ……

*1: 55*

777: The one of the mic? What about it?

J: Ignore the microphone. Look on top of the telephone.

777: It’s that cell phone!

J: Correct. It was there when BJ arrived. He saw it, and took it. Now, why would he do that?

BJ: Cause it belonged to… Waaait a minute!

J: You knew the owner. So you picked it up and returned it.

*flashback*

BJ: Oh, Tenho… This your phone, bro?

T: Oh, snap…

BJ: I found it lyin’ around.

T: Thanks, man. I was wigging out trying to find it. Where was it?

BJ: In the…uhh, I mean… S-Spain Hill!

*back to present*

777: Tenho!? But…but… BJ said he found the cell on Spain… Ohhhhhh.

J: BJ didn’t want anyone finding out he got blown off. So he lied about where he found it. …Well? I’d say this makes for an airtight case. Tenho left his cell in the phone booth. The question is…why.

T: …… I’m sorry, guys. It was all me.

777: What? Why, man!?

T: I thought it’d stop you two fighting. I don’t want us to break up… So…I just…

777: …… Sorry, bro. We put you through a lot, huh?

BJ: Yeah, my bad, Tenho. I was outta line about wantin’ to do vocals…

777: …… But that’s all over now, right!? We good again?

BJ: Heh, I’m cool.

777: Good. Now let’s have that mic, Tenho…

T: It, uhh… It kinda got stolen.

777: WHAT!?

*flashback*

T: I called 777 from that phone booth. Once he left, I grabbed the mic. I was on my way to go hide it…but 777, I saw you coming back. I freaked and hid in the phone booth. I was just gonna wait it out. Then you called me. “The mic’s been stolen! Come meet me by Molco! So, I stashed the mic in the phone booth. I musta left my phone in there, too. I checked in with you, but when I went back… The mic was gone!

*back in present*

777: Gone?

T: Yeah. This was in there in its place…

777: A megaphone?

T: With some freaky stuff recorded in it…

Minamimoto [in megaphone]: SINE! COSINE! TANGENT!

T: ……

777: ……

BJ: ……

T: I’m sorry, guys! I just wanted us to stay together! Now, because of me…

N: (That megaphone could only belong to one person.)

J: Hee hee…Fascinating. It seems this mystery runs deeper! Care to enlighten them, Neku? Tell them who really took their mic.

N: No brainer. The guy who took the mic is… None of these guys.

*flashback*

Tenho: Meet me by Cadoi City. We need to talk.

777 [on phone]: …Huh? Hey! Who are you?

T: …… Now’s my chance!

*later*

T: Oh, crap! 777! Gah! Gotta hide! …… Whew… Hmm? My phone?

777 [on phone]: Hello? It’s me! 777! We’re boned! The mic’s been ganked, bro! Hurry back to Molco!

T: Ugh… Be right back, mic. Stay put.

*later*

Minamimoto: Hmm? Why, hello! This mic is zetta sexy! Perfect for my opus! *in megaphone* …Here. We’ll call it a trade.

*later*

BJ: OK. OK. Let’s do this. I’m gonna tell her. I’m gonna… Huh? That’s Tenho’s cell. What an airhead… Ah, well.

*later*

BJ: …Sniff. Phone booth of love my ass!

*later*

T: Now, to pick up the--Gah! It’s gone!? …The hell is this megaphone?

*present*

777: Great story. Now where’s our mic?

J: Hmm… Knowing him? In that junk heap over there.

777: What!?

BJ: Our baby is in that pile of trash!?

777: Start digging, boys!

T: ……Sorry to drag you guys into this. I cleared the wall. Go on. We’ll manage from here.

J: Best of luck. Now then! Shall we head to Udagawa, Neku? ]

N: That was the detour from hell…

*in Shibu Q Heads*

Beat: Gotchu punks. Hope you brought your A-game today, yo.

N: Beat… Don’t do this. I don’t want to fight you.

B: Beggin’ won’t work, yo!

N: Look, I have to win! For Shiki, too! So would you please go away!?

B: Shut it! Le’s jus’ do this!

*fight*

N: (Nngh… That’s about all I’ve got…)

B: Yo yo yo, you even tryin’? Hit harder! I barely felt that! Man, y’all are stale. Next time at leas’ put up a fight.

J: Whew… That was pretty close.

N: ……

J: He’s serious. He must really not like you.

N: …… (I could see him hating me. …But why erase Shiki, too? Is he really all Reaper now?)

J: Hmm? What’s this, Neku?

N: A pendant? (This was Rhyme’s.) Beat must’ve dropped it.

J: I guess so.

N: (He’s no genius, but he must’ve had a reason to join them. This meant a lot to him… I should return it.)

*in Udagawa*

J: Know Udagawa well, Neku?

N: Yeah. I used to come here after school.

J: With your friends?

N: Please. I don’t do groups. I never met anyone fun to be around.

J: Hee hee. Me neither. We seem to have a lot in common. You know, Neku… Shibuya’s a lot like you. Cut off.

N: Where did that come from?

J: The UG is split into different areas. Shibuya’s just one of them, just like it’s only one part of the world at large. Each UG area has unique rules. You can’t travel between them.

N: Mr. H told you all that?

J: …Oh, so you know about our conversations.

N: ……

J: As I was saying, every area has its own rules. They never meddle with each other. Sound familiar?

N: That could apply to anyone.

J: Hee hee… Maybe so. As long as we all have our own worlds, people will never really understand each other.

N: Right? They’re them, and I’m me. Talking to them gets me nothing. I thought I’d never respected anyone, until I saw CAT’s mural and discovered a new philosophy.

J: “Do what you want, how you want, when you want it,” was it?

N: Yeah. It blew me away. CAT was living the life I always wanted to, but never thought I could. “Finally, someone who gets me,” I thought. Enjoying the moment’s about freedom. I just need to do my own thing like CAT. Forget about other people and just enjoy my life…

J: Absolutely. Who needs other people’s values? It’s easier to just live by your own rules.

N: Yeah… (But… I don’t feel that way anymore. Since coming to the UG, reading people’s minds-- Shibuya’s full of people with just as many viewpoints. Mr. H said the world ends with me. To expand my world, I have to learn to look farther--not write off other people’s values as inferior. …Maybe I had it backwards. Maybe I need to open up to really enjoy--)

J: Yoo-hoo? Neku?

N: ……

J: Well, we may be stuck in Shibuya. But you can still see a fair ways. Why do you suppose that is, Neku? Why show us what we can never reach?

N: ……

J: Hee hee. That mural you mentioned is up ahead, right? The signal’s coming from that direction. Let’s take a look.

Minamimoto: 3 is the point of the 1. 4 the 1-5-9 are 2.

N: Hey, it’s…

J: Shh! Let’s see what he’s up to.

M: 6-5, 3-5! 8-9, 7-9! 32384 62643 38327! And…perfect. Soon… Soon I’ll have my desired solution.

N: What was all that about?

J: This is…

N: Vandalism? He drew it just now, right? More of his loony art?

J: I wonder… My phone’s responding to it.

N: To these scribbles? I thought you were looking for the Shibuya River.

J: I am.

N: Uhh… I don’t see any rivers.

J: Thank you, Neku. …What IS this? Considering the artist, it can’t be anything good.

N: Well? Should we erase it?

J: He’ll know. Besides, it could be a trap. Let’s leave it for now. …… …… ……

N: (Now’s the best time. If I take him to where I was lying on the ground…) Hey--

J: Say, Neku?

N: Wh-what?

J: I’d like to check over by that mural. Do you mind?

N: Uh…sure. (The weasel beat me to it… What’s he need over there?)

Uzuki: Ugh, finally!

Kariya: Deep breath, girl.

U: Don’t give me that! Why’d those two brats have to show up? They’re so in the way! Why can’t Math Man just let me erase them!? Whew… Anyway. What the heck was the GM doing here? Other than thinking up missions not to give.

K: Uzuki… Get on the horn with HQ. Now.

U: What? Why?

K: That’s a Taboo Noise refinery sigil.

U: That!? I never knew what they looked like… So the GM’s gone maverick!? This is the source of the Taboo Noise?

K: Not quite. This sigil still hasn’t been used. There must be another source. Still, we saw him draw it. That’s pretty strong evidence he’s behind it all.

U: …Do you smell that, Kariya? Promotions! Glory!

K: I’ll pass. Instead of buyin’ me that bowl of ramen, you can just take care of the report for me, aight?

U: What, you’re too lazy to even claim credit?

K: Something like that. ‘Sides…I may have another mystery to unravel.

*back to Neku & Joshua*

J: Impressive graffiti.

N: It’s CAT’s. This is my favorite spot. (And the spot where I died in your head. …Wait. I assumed I was looking at your memories… But couldn’t it just have easily been your imagination? What I saw doesn’t prove anything. You could’ve had nothing to do with--)

J: Still with me, Neku?

N: Huh?

J: You spaced out.

N: Oh…Sorry.

J: You’ve giving me déjà vu.

N: What!? (Déjà vu? From when? Did…did you really see me die!? Were those scans really of… Was that my death!? …… I have to know for sure. …One more scan.)

*Scan, cutscene*

N: (I… It was here.)

J: Something wrong, Neku?

N: (He… He killed me!)

J: Hello?

N: …I’m here. Just a little dizzy. I’m fine.

J: Good. Let’s move on. Nothing else to see here. Ugh, this tracker’s leading us in circles… Did Mr. H give me a dud?

N: (How can he act so normal around a guy he killed? He sought me out as a partner! …Hell, why kill me at all? What did I do? Did he know me when I was alive? I didn’t know him. Random homicidal impulse? Ugh, he must have had a motive… Too many questions! One thing’s for sure, though… I’m partnered to my killer.

*end of Day 4, Week 2.*

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Week 2: Joshua (Day 1 to Day 2)

Jun. 1st, 2008 | 04:44 pm

 

N: The scramble crossing… He expects me to just start over? (What the hell were the last seven days for, then?) …… (Fine. What’s the mission? I’m not losing. Not now. Not a chance.) "Game I: x=30+74 t=60 min. Incompletes will be destroyed." *flinch* Nngh! There’s the timer… The mission format’s different. X=30+74... They’re giving out Algebra homework now? (Hmm, we did take down the GM last week. Maybe this is the big guy’s replacement. Better not count on the same tricks, then… I’ve got to stay focused--and stay alive. Too much is on the line. First, I need a partner--the toughest Player I can find! Hmm…Hachiko! I’m bound to find somebody useful there.)

*to the Reapers*

K: Ugh. It’s like a sick joke. They expect us to work this week, too?

U: Oh, suck it up! Don’t you want the extra points? Though it is a little weird to go two weeks in a row… Guess there’s a firs time for everything.

K: Not quite a first. Been a while, though. You prob’ly weren’t here, spring chicken that you are.

U: Spring chicken? Been here two years, and I’m a spring chicken? Just how long have you been doing this?

K: Meh. Details!

U: Uh-huh. Anyway. What do you suppose the GM is-- *ring* Yashiro here. …… What!? You want us to WHAT!? *hangs up* Graaah!

K: Easy, girl! What’s the deal?

U: Standby! We’re just supposed to sit here! This is an insult!

K: Take it down a notch before you pop a blood vessel. I don’t see a problem. This is our week off, after all.

U: Ugh! This is why I hate the way he runs things!

K: Really? I kinda like it.

U: What’s to like!? It’s one big, cryptic mess! It pisses me off!

K: He can’t help it. I’m sure he’s worked out some crazy plan--something way beyond the ken of mundane folks like you ‘n’ me. I mean, c’mon--he’s the type of genius head case that makes stuff like THIS.

*back to Neku*

N: (Come on…There has to be someone! I need this… I have to win! …For her sake, and mine. Now come on! I gotta find me a powerhouse!) Grr, Noise!? (Dammit! I can’t do much on my own! Isn’t there anybody--)*flash* Huh? What was that!?

*cutscene*

N: A pact? With who!?

*battle*

Joshua: Howdy.

N: (Who the--)

J: The name’s Yoshiya Kiryu. But Mother and Father call me Joshua.

N: (Please don’t tell me…)

J: I guess you can call me Joshua, too--seeing as how you’re my dear, dear partner. Hee hee…

N: Your what!? (This pipsqueak is my new partner!?)

J: You seem like such a pro at this, I just…helped myself.

N: A pro? How could you know that?

J: I’ve been watching you, silly. Very impressive by the way.

N: (Huh? Was he a Player last time, too? But wait…No, there was nobody like him at the end. Who the hell IS this kid?)

J: Today’s the first day and all… Let’s just take it easy, hmm? Why don’t you start by giving the area a scan, partner?

N: F-fine. (Something about him just…grates.)

*Scan Joshua*

*cutscene*

N: (Nngh! …What? What did I just see? That place looked like…the Udagawa district?)

J: Something wrong? Are we not feeling well?

N: (Wait, did I…did I just scan him? )

J: Is this going to be a problem? I need you to pull it together. Unlike some people, I’m new at all this. I’m expecting a bang-up job from you, Mr. Escort.

N: …I’ll be fine.

J: Will you? Wonderful. Then can we go?

N: (Something’s weird here... How was I able to scan him? He’s a Player.)

J: Hmm? What’s the holdup, Neku?

N: It’s nothing.

J: Don’t tell me you’re still stuck on the mission mail. Please. It’s painfully obvious.

N: ……

J: x marks the spot. 30+74, Neku. We’re headed to 104. If you ever find yourself stumped, I’d be happy to help you along. Just say the word. I promise you my advice is spot-on. Lucky you, having me as your partner.

N: (I’m going to choke this kid.)

J: Oh! I can’t say I’m particularly interested, but… I’ll go ahead and ask, for the sake of convenience. Do you have a name?

N: …… Neku.

J: Neku, hmm? Hee hee…Charming.

N: (Gaaah!)

J: Well then, Neku. Shall we?

*back in Scramble*

Reaper: Want to clear this wall? Then take down these Noise!

N: Another wall…

J: So we need to clear out a few Noise to get by. All right. What better time to go over my combat skills? Don’t worry--I think even you should be able to follow along.

N: (He has to be doing this on purpose…)

J: Put simply, I play things high or low.

N: High or low?

J: You should be able to pick it up on the fly. Ready for a little warm-up?

*All set*

J: Then let’s begin, hmm?

*battle*

J: Well? Get the basic gist of it? Care to give it another go?

*That’s enough*

J: We’re in this together from now on. You watch my behind, I’ll watch yours. Sound good, partner? Hee hee…

N: ……

Reaper: Objective met. Wall clear!

*104*

N: Timer’s gone… We’re safe. That’s one day down…

J: Neku… What do you suppose that is?

N: What the hell? That junk heap wasn’t here before!

Minamimoto: You’re zetta slow!

N: What!? Who said that?

J: Don’t look at me. Look at your junk heap there.

N: There’s somebody up there?

M: I said, you’re zetta slow! How long does it take to crack a Z-class code, you factoring hectopascals!

N: Hecto-what? *flash* Nngh! My…head!

M: Sho Minamimoto. Remember the name. I’m the new Game Master.

N: Then you’re a Reaper.

M: Wait. You… You’re a Player this time around?

N: Nngh, who…me?

M: Hmph. Now that’s a happy miscalculation. This brings me one iteration closer to my desired solution!

N: Solution? …Nngh! What are you talking about?

J: Hee hee. Day 1, and the GM’s already putting in an appearance? Not one for tradition, are you?

M: Tradition? Tradition is garbage! CRUNCH! I’ll add it to the heap! This is my Game. And I only allow two things. Flawless calculations…and beauty!

J: I’d hear you were quite the eccentric…

M: Some Old Horses Can Always Hear Their Owner Approach. Now, time for a little quiz. How much weight will I let you Players carry in the UG?

J: Pray tell.

M: One yoctogram!

N: Yoctogram?

J: Nice. That puts us on the atomic level?

M: Precisely! You 000s have no value here. So! Now that I have you rounded up… Attention, all yoctograms! (It’s X 2) DIE!

*battle*

J: Whew… Well, so much for Day 1.

N: (That Reaper knew me… How?)

J: Rather fascinating, wasn’t he?

N: Uhh…

J: At least we won’t be too bored this week, hmm?

N: (This kid, too… There’s something seriously not right about him.)

J: I wonder what the little math fetishist will think up for tomorrow. Exciting times, huh, Neku?

N: (Hmph. He’s shady… Still, "trust your partner," right? I need him if I’m gonna survive the UG--if I’m gonna WIN. Better get use to it.)

J: Well, the two of us should be able to cruise right through this week--between your psychs, my inspired brilliance, and our excellent teamwork. Hee hee…

N: (Ugh, I’ll never get used to this! But I’ll deal with the devil if that’s what it takes. …This time’s for keeps. Hang in there, Shiki.)

*End of day 1, week 2*

Reaper: Nope. No luck. This one’s not opening either.

Kariya: Well, thanks anyway. You’re dismissed. He’s sealed off Route 1...Hoo, boy.

U: Hey, Kariya!

K: Any luck?

U: Routes 2, 5, and 6 are all sealed.

K: Gotta hand it to him, the guy works fast.

U: He could have told us what areas are open. What the hell is he thinking? Are we, like, completely insignificant? Rrgh! That man seriously frosts my cookies.

K: Naw, it’s nice to see the boss do the legwork. I say we kick back and enjoy the show.

U: Well I say this is a work week. It would be nice to actually work! The Players are right there! But nooo, he says hands off. I’ll tell you what I’d like to put my hands around!

K: I sure hope it’s your mouth.

U: Hmm… Maybe I should just hop over to the RG. Use this baby to recruit a few new Players…

K: Whoa there, cowgirl. Reapers whackin’ folks in the RG is a no-no.

U: Don’t be stupid. I’m joking! …Mostly. I’m just saying we may be forced to…if we want any points.

K: You keep talking about work, work, work. It’s--…… Impossible!

U: Exactly! We can’t go on like this. I’m THIS close to a promotion, but nooo… Honestly, I don’t even know why I try some--

K: Uzuki! Look out!!!

*back to scramble crossing*

N: Nngh… Where…? (Back at the scramble crossing…Where’s that other kid?)

J: Are we still on track with the goods? What? You already got them in!?

N: (Oh, he’s on the phone. Wait a minute… How did he place a call!? And who’s he talking to?)

J: The scramble… Which areas? …Sealed? In that case… …and the time limit at… And? Anything else?

N: (Wait, is he reporting in to the Reapers? Definitely shady… I can’t tell what he’s thinking. …… Or can I? Maybe another scan will turn something up.

*scan & cutscene*

N: Huff…huff… That was…me? Why was I passed out in Udagawa? And…why was that in HIS head!? (Udagawa… I can’t remember… Wait! Was I dead? Did I…did I die in Udagawa? That would mean… He saw me die. He was there! Or… Maybe he did more than just watch. ) …… (One way to find out. But no… I can’t just ask him. If that sparks some huge fight, I’m screwed. We need to work together to clear these missions. I can’t afford to risk it. Still…he knows something.) *beep* The mission!

J: Hmm? Was that the mission, Neku?

N: What? Oh… Yeah. (For now, I can only watch and wait.) The mission says to--

J: Say, Neku. I have a little proposal.

N: …What?

J: Let’s play hooky today. Forget about the mission.

N: What!? Are you crazy? If we don’t do this, we get erased!

J: But there’s someplace I reeeally want to go. Let the other Players take care of the mission. It’s not as if we have to do everything.

N: Yes, we do! I can’t afford to screw around on this! I’m not letting anything jeopardize this Game.

J: Oh, don’t get so wound up, Neku. It’s only Day 2! Enjoy it while it’s still easy.

N: I’m not just playing this for me anymore! Her life is on the line, too.

*flash back*

N: …Where are we?

S: It’s too bright… I can’t see a thing.

B: Yo…

S: Beat! You’re safe!

B: Yeah. You too, huh?

N: ……

S: Why’d you run off on your own like that? You had us all so worried!

B: I…I jus’ had to… Look, yo…my bad. I jus’ had to take off.

N: ……

S: So… Are we…alive again?

Meg: I’m afraid not. Not yet, anyway.

B: Who’s there!?

M: Hello, and congratulations. You all are victors. How did you find our Game? Enjoyable?

B: You’re…

M: Megumi Kitaniji. Conductor of the Game, and loyal servant to the Composer.

N: (Conductor of… Then he’s the head Reaper?)

M: Now then, regarding your fates… As per the Composer’s mandate, the number of Players to be given new life this round is… One.

S: Huh!?

N: What did you say?

S: But that’s…that’s cruel! I thought everyone got to come back!

M: Any and all specifics are decided by the Composer. That is His exclusive and incontrovertible right.

S: Why do you think we came this far!? To live again! Every last one of us wanted to--

B: Hold up! Not exactly…

S: Not exactly what?

B: Not everybody… I… ……I ain’t goin’ back.

S: What!?

B: I…I wanna be a Reaper! So how ‘bout it, yo? Make me part a’ your crew!

S: Wha…Beat!?

M: …… Very well. Your wish is within my authority to grant. The Reapers welcome you.

B: ……

N: Beat! Why!?

B: ……

S: Hey, wait! BEAT! *he leaves* Why would Beat want to join the Reapers?

N: ……

M: The hour of reckoning draws near. Your points have been tallied, and the Player to be reborn decided. Congratulations… Shiki Misaki.

S: M-me!? But… I can’t… I’m not going back alone--I can’t! It’s unfair! And why me!?

M: We grade Players according to their performance during the missions. You scored the highest.

S: But that can’t be right! Neku is way better with psychs than me! And the riddles--he solved most of those, too. He should be the one to go back!

N: …… If only one of us gets a second chance…what happens to the one left behind?

M: If you still cling to life, you may reenter the Game. If you lean toward destruction, you may join your friend as a Reaper. Otherwise, should you welcome oblivion, erasure is also an option.

N: …… Shiki…You go on ahead.

S: No way!

N: Just go! Trust me.

S: I’m not leaving without you, Neku! I’ll enter the Game again. Let Neku--

M: Out of the question. As I mentioned a moment ago. This was decided by the Composer Himself. Your wishes don’t mean a damn.

S: No way…

N: Shiki… Don’t worry about me.

S: But Neku--

N: Didn’t you swear you’d go back and see Eri again?

S: ……

N: I still don’t even know how I died. I don’t know if I have anything to go back to. You do, Shiki.

S: Neku…

N: You’re not gonna start slipping back now, are you?

S: Huh?

N: Back to the old Shiki.

S: N-no… …… I’m so sorry, Neku. Thank you. I’ll go back--back to the real me.

N: There you go.

S: I’ll be waiting for you--every day, in front of Hachiko…till you come back.

N: I’ll see you there soon. That’s a promise.

M: Finished your goodbyes, then?

S: Neku! Once you see the real me, will we still be friends?

N: Count on it. You’ll always be Shiki.

*cutscene*

N: Shiki…

M: And now it’s your turn. You seem to have your mind made up.

N: Damn straight. I’ll play your game again.

M: Excellent. No doubt you’ll make it an exciting one. Then before the next Game begins…allow me to return your previous entry fee. *flash*

N: Nnnnnngh!!! Huff…huff… What… What the hell did you just do to me!?

M: I simply returned to you what is yours. Fair is fair.

N: Nngh, I get it now… This explains a lot. My memory…was gone…because you took it!

M: Indeed. Memories are the single greatest determinant of a person’s identity. A worthy entry fee, wouldn’t you say?

N: Hey… Wait just a… Where’s the rest!?

M: Beg pardon?

N: It’s missing! How did I die!? I still can’t remember anything about my own death! I was looking up at the tag mural in Udagawa… Then the next thing I remember is waking up in the scramble!

M: Oh really? Most fascinating…

N: Cut the crap! You’re the one who…

M: HOWEVER. That has nothing to do with the Game.

N: What!?

M: I returned your memory in its entirety. If you still can’t recall something, well…you must never have had it in the first place.

N: I never…?

M: What could I possibly stand to gain from depriving you of that memory? Hmm?

N: (…He’s right. So why is that the only hole in my memory?)

M: No then. As for your new entry fee--

N: You’re taking my memory again!?

M: A Player’s entry fee is that which they hold most dear. That is the rule. I’ve already taken the liberty of collecting yours.

N: What!?

M: This time, you’re playing for… Shiki Misaki.

N: WHAT!? That’s not… NOOOOO!

*back to present*

N: I…

J: ……

N: I got her dragged back into this. But I’ll be damned if I let it end this way. I’m winning this Game. And I’m not relying on other Players doing it for me.

J: ……Hmph.

N: "Hmph," what!? Weren’t you listening?

J: Uh-huh. And here’s me playing the world’s tiniest violin.

N: You little…I just--

J: Did you think you were special? Every Player here put up something they loved. Everybody makes sacrifices.

N: Sacrifices? Are you… (No. Gotta calm down. Losing it here will only make things worse. Just take a deep breath and…) How about this? First, we complete the mission. After that, we can do whatever you want.

J: …… Oh, I suppose. You’ll just owe me one.

N: (Owe you one what!? You’re a Player! Clearing the mission HELPS you! Ugh…) Fine.

J: You have yourself a deal, Neku. So? What’s the mission?

N: Game II: Acquire the Ö3 Au pin. T= 300 min. Incompletes will destroyed." *flinch* Nngh… Clock’s ticking. So what’s up with this mission? It’s gibberish.

J: We know it has something to do with a pin. And thoughts beyond that, Neku?

N: Au…The periodic symbol for gold? A pin made of gold, maybe?

J: Hmm… Not a bad hypothesis. Let’s go with that for now. What about Ö3?

N: Ö3... Well, the square root of 3 is 1.7320508. Some kind of entry code?

J: Ooh, a tantalizing possibility, Neku! I’m so proud.

N: (…Bite me.)

J: But I think it’s referring to a street here in Shibuya.

N: A street?

J: The Reapers use numbers to refer to each of Shibuya’s streets. Route 1, Rout 2 and so on…

N: (How does HE know that? And why go asking me--to make me look stupid?)

J: So let’s check out Route 3.

N: Which is?

J: The road leading from Cadoi City to Molco. Shall we?

N: (He knows too much. About the Reapers’ Game and about my death… He’s dangerous. …And I know dangerously little about him.)

*Clear Reapers demands*

*Un-possess Yammer*

Yammer: Right… I can do this. If I’m gonna play, I’m going for gold! Winning this slam--off is the only way to get the Hero Pin. OK… Better get to Molco. The time’s finally come to use my secret weapon!

N: Some kind of contest at Molco for Tin Pin Slammer? The grand prize is this "Hero Pin"…

J: "Going for gold"?

N: Of course! This is it!

J: Certainly seems that way. It’s a safe guess that our mission is to win that pin.

N: All right, then we’d better get over to Molco.

*to the Reapers*

U: Huff…huff…

K: Still alive over there?

U: Barely… What the heck was that thing?

K: A Noise that targets Reapers.

U: Well, duh! But that’s… It’s impossible!

K: Somebody must have cooked some up. A fresh, steamy batch of Taboo Noise.

U: What!? But that’s a capital offense!

K: Do I smell another game? First one to find out who’s behind this--

U: Kariya! This is no time for your stupid games! I’m calling headquarters.

*back to Neku and Joshua*

N: C’mon, already! Get a move on!

J: Sigh… I don’t do the whole sweating thing, Neku.

N: Wha-- Are those Noise!?

J: Black Noise? They look different than the usual riffraff.

N: So what’s the plan?

J: I doubt we’d make it if we tried to run.

N: Then we take ‘em out!

*fight*

N: What the hell were those? I’ve never seen black Noise.

J: Likewise.

N: Bastards were tough, huh?

J: Not only that… I couldn’t really hurt them unless I had the light puck.

N: Huh? …Really? (Wow… Maybe this kid does have his uses--)

J: Hmm? Don’t tell me you didn’t notice, Neku. That doesn’t inspire much confidence, partner. Hee hee…

N: (--even if he is a snot.)

J: In any case, why did it pick a fight?

N: Yeah… Our pact should prevent that.

J: How bizarre…

*in Molco*

N: So this is Tin Pin Slammer… All I need to do is figure out some way to win this.

J: Good luck with that. At least there’s a Reaper decal here. You won’t have any problems entering.

N: The decal makes us visible, right?

J: Yup. Every shop licensed to sell to Players has one.

N: I’m not complaining, but…why let us shop at all? The Reapers want us erased, don’t they? Why help us?

J: Hmm… Does it really matter? Shopping is fun. The Game’s better this way.

N: (Yeah, ‘cause the Game’s all about fun…)

J: If you don’t hurry, you’ll miss registration, Neku.

N: OK, OK, I’m going. (Going…to do what? I’ve never played Tin Pin Slammer in my life. I hope I’m a natural… That, or the luckiest guy on the planet. Shiki’s counting on me… Well… Here goes!)

*enter building*

N: (So… How do you even play this game?) Do you know how to play Tin Pin Slammer?

J: Who? Me? Don’t be silly. I don’t have a clue. Good thing I’m not entering, hmm?

N: What!?

J: I thought you were going to clear this mission, Neku?

N: …… (I shouldn’t have bothered asking. So who DO I ask?) Gah! What the…

Shooter: SORRY! I wasn’t watching where I was going! Hmm? Hey, you’ve got some pins, bro!

N: Um, yes?

S: So you’re entering the slam-off?

J: That’s right! Losing’s not an option. …For Neku.

N: (But you’re cool with the idea!?)

S: So, if you’re not losing, then--Wait, you’re going for FIRST? WHAAAT!? With THOSE pins? Are you crazy?

N: Wh-what’s wrong with my pins?

S: Is this, like, your first time EVER or something? Forget about the slam-off, those pins won’t win you a single round!

N: (The kid’s sure blunt enough.)

J: I take it you’re playing today, uh…

S: Shuto Dan. Call me Shooter! And yeah! I’m actually kinda famous around here--the slickest Slammurai (dun dun DAAAH!) in town! None of my buddies can touch me!

J: Wow, Shooter. You must be a real expert. Are there any tips you could offer? …To Neku.

N: (Thanks a lot, partner!)

J: Come on, Neku, what do we say?

N: Rrgh. …Please?

S: Well, you do look pretty hopeless… OK, bro! Tin Pin’s a battle between SOULS!

N: Between...souls.

S: Yeah, bro! It’s like your fiery passion slams into the other guy’s, like WHAM!

J: Hee hee. Sounds like a fun time.

N: …… Think you could be a little more specific?

S: Just a sec! I’ll draw it out clear and easy for you! Here! THIS is Tin Pin Slammer!

N: …… (It hurts to look…)

J: My, my. Then there’s quite a bit of depth to it.

S: Right!? The timing right here is super important!

J: This is practically a map to victory, huh, Neku?

N: ……

J: Neku? Do you still not get it?

S: What!? You need MORE explanation!? Aww, man! OK, fine… Let’s SLAM! That’s the quickest way to learn!

N: What, right now!?

*play Tin Pin Slammer*

S: Heh heh! You’ve got pretty good form, bro.

N: (So I just need to knock the other guy’s pins off…)

S: All clear now? Wanna slam again?

*That’s enough*

S: NICE!!! You picked it up pretty good!

N: (I kinda, sorta get it…)

S: Every pin’s got its own stats, so try a buncha stuff out! Keep in mind, though, you can only play with the pins you’ve got on.

N: (The ones I’m wearing?) So I can’t play if I’m not wearing any pins?

S: NAW, BRO! That’s totally cool, too! You can borrow special slamming pins to play with. You could play Tin Pin Slammer NAKED, man!

N: Thanks, but…no.

S: WHOA! Look at the time! See ya! Good luck!

Announcer: Things are rrreally heating up, folks! It’s time for ourrr next battle! In the blue corner, crowned with sound… First-timer Neku Sakuraba!

N: (Bring it!)

A: In the red corner, the comeback kid comes back! Slams down curry like it was a pin… Itaru Yokoyamada!

Yammer: Heh heh… I hand-design and build all my pin mods. It’s Yammer Time!

A: Players, on your marks… Get set…SLAM!!!

*Play TPS*

N: Yes!

S: WOW!!! Your first time playing, and you (dun dun DAAAH!) totally won!

J: Very impressive, Neku. Show those fifth graders who’s boss.

N: (Thanks for killing my high, man.)

S: Too bad next round, though.

N: Huh?

S: You’re facing the TOP SEED, man. You’re history.

N: Top seed?

S: That means crazy insane strong. Dumb luck won’t get you through the next match.

N: (Dumb luck? I mean, sure, I’m not exactly a pro, but… Hmm, I should work on snapping my strokes…Gotta make sure I--)

J: Hee hee. Well, I’ll be waiting in the stands, Neku. Do your best, partner.

N: (Damn right I will. This is important.)

Announcer: The air is electric here in the slam mall! Next up, the main event! In the blue corner, Neku Sakuraba!

N: (Who wants some?)

A: In the red corner, the top seed and Slammurai legend…

N: (I don’t care who he is. I have to win.)

A: Shuto Daaaan!

N: Him!?

S: HEY, MAN! I’m impressed you got this far! Sorry, but I can’t let you win this one. Because I’M gonna win it!

N: I’m up against this kid? Ugh… (Well, if this is what it takes…)

S: Taste the rage of my Red Kaiser! Innn…PINCIBLE!

N: Gah! It…it’s over. I lost?

S: You seemed pretty tough, bro! I had to get serious!

A: And just like that, the match is over! Shooter does it again! The top seed moves on to the finals!

S: Watch out, Shibuya! When I’m on, I am ON!!! Woo! Time for the final match! Better luck next time, bro!

N: There is no next time! Shiki… I’m sorry, I--

J: Aww, what a shame. Not that I’m shocked. You’re a Tin Pin virgin. What could you do?

N: Don’t you see what this means!? We failed! We screwed up the mission!

J: You sure did. But relax…

N: Relax!? How can--

A: Uh-oh! Looks like trouble for our champ!

N: What happened?

J: What indeed? Sounds like an upset.

N: Let’s check it out.

S: My pin… It won’t eject! No, Red Kaiser! NOOO!

A: It looks like a freak malfunction has cost the top seed the slam-off! Victory goes to dark horse slammer Sota Honjo!

J: Oh, my! Looks like Shooter lost.

N: Huh? The timer’s gone. Wait… We cleared the mission?

J: The guy who just won is a Player, too.

N: What?

Nao: So, like, where’d the timer go?

Sota: Mission accomplished! We did it, Nao!

J: I thought you knew, Neku? It doesn’t matter which Player clears the mission. So there’s no reason for us to get all worked up over it.

N: Whew… We’re safe.

Nao: So that’s, like, another day down?

Sota: Hope tomorrow’s this easy, too!

Shooter: Wait up, man! I want a…rematch… Huh? Where’d he go? You can’t just win, then disappear! It’s not fair!

J: Let the other Players take care of the missions. We just need to do what it takes to stay alive. …Whatever it takes.

N: And what if nobody clears the mission? If that kid’s toy hadn’t broken when it did…that would’ve been the end of us!

J: Hee hee… Oh, I’m willing to make some minimal effort. You don’t’ really think that was an accident, do you?

N: What!?

J: I borrowed your opponents’ pins and swapped in a few of my own. Of course mine had a few…adjustments made. Here, you can have the originals.

N: Unbelievable…

J: You didn’t need to win. Shooter just had to lose.

N: You’re… You’re devious!

J: Oh, come on. You wanted to win. Wasn’t that the whole reason for participating?

N: OK, fine. Then why didn’t you tell me?

J: Hee hee… Don’t you think it’s more fun with a little suspense?

N: No.

J: Besides, you might’ve won anyway. I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.

N: You smug little… Is this fun for you? I’m not your toy!

J: If you’re done, it’s my turn now.

N: For what!?

J: I’ve got an errand to run, and you’re coming along.

N: I just said I’m not your--

J: You agreed to this, Neku. After the mission, we do what I want.

N: Rrgh! …Fine.

J: Good. Then let’s head back to the scramble.

Minamimoto: What, you’re just going to ignore me? You half-blind hectopascals!

N: Hecto…Ugh. *flash* Nngh! Not again… My head’s…pounding…

J: Oh, look. It’s a stray Reaper. You seem even grouchier than usual.

M: Damn right! That game was zetta dull! Are you trying to bore me to death? How about a little flair!? Give it some edge! You brain-dead binomials are pathetic!

J: Wow, you sat there watching the entire mission? Do GMs always have that much time on their hands?

M: No comments from the peanut gallery. Your opinions are garbage! CRUNCH! I’ll add them to the heap!

J: Hee hee… I figured you weren’t much for criticism. Otherwise, why keep making those senseless junk heaps?

M: Heh. Even inch of my work is flawlessly calculated. Look at the perfectly understated silhouette. How can you not see the beauty!? …Time for a little quiz. What’s the probability of you Players surviving the week?

J: Gee, I wonder.

M: ZERO, same as your taste! Attention, all tasteless tetrahedra! If you want to live, show me the limit of U as I go to infinity! Not that there’s anything any of you can do. You fractals have no future! QED. Class is dismissed!

N: (Finally…The pounding’s stopped. What language is that guy speaking?)

J: Think he’s got a thing for you, Neku?

N: What!? How the hell do you figure that?

J: Oh, please! The way he follows you around?

N: That’s just because I’m a Player.

J: I don’t see him chasing after the other Players.

N: (He’s right… So why me?)

J: …Or is it my fault?

N: (What? That’s right… He might be tied in with the Reapers. If he is, the could explain why the GM is stalking us. …Still. I’m just speculating. It’s too soon to reach any definite conclusions. Except…maybe one. I’d have to be crazy to trust this kid! )

*In Reaper hangout place*

Meg: …Destroy the ones you called friends. Those are your orders.

Beat: I gotta follow orders?

M: Of course. We require proof of your loyalty to the Reapers.

B: Aight, yo, don’t get your panties in a twist. I’m a Reaper. I’ll do it.

M: I trust that you will.

*on a roof*

B: I swear… ……I’ma do this! I didn’t join up for nothin'.

*end of day 2, week 2*

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Chapter 1: Shiki (Day 5 to Day 7)

Jun. 1st, 2008 | 04:41 pm

 

N: Unnh…Where am I?

S: Hey. You awake? …… The mission’s not here yet. …… Looks like we start at Tipsy Tose Hall today. So, um…sorry about yesterday. I crossed the line with what I said.

N: (That I was no better than a Reaper… Rhyme… …… Well. Right now…) we need to focus on the mission.

S: Yeah. You’re right. For Beat. *beep* It’s here! The mission! "Free Spain Hill from the Noise. You have 200 minutes. Fail, and face erasure.--The Reapers"

*finch*

S: Oww!

N: The timer. Free it? Then we have to erase some Noise.

S: Spain Hill’s right over there.

N: Then let’s get going.

*complete Reaper‘s demands*

S: So we just have to clear the Noise out of here, right?

N: Let’s get started.

*battle noise*

S: Huff…huff… This isn’t working…

N: We’re not even making a dent. Why do more Noise keep showing up?

S: You think something is drawing them here?

N: If so, we’ll have to strike at the source. (…Wherever that is.)

Mina: C’mon, Ai. What’s wrong?

S: Neku. Look! Those two girls that just left the restaurant…

M: Ai, are you mad at me?

A: Don’t be ridiculous.

M: You…you sure?

A: Yes! OK?

N: Whoa! Look at all the Noise! What’s up with those two?

S: Looks like they’re having an argument--and that’s drawing all the Noise.

N: I think we found our source.

S: OK. Let’s try getting rid of the Noise around them!

*fight*

N: That takes care of those Noise.

S: No… Look! Here come some more!

N: Crap. This will never work.

S: Those two keep drawing more in. What’s their story, I wonder?

M: Hey, Ai, are you free around this time next week?

A: ……Probably. Why?

M: N-nothing. Forget it.

A: ……

S: Whoa, feel all that negativity?

N: What if that’s attracting the Noise?

S: Huh?

N: Remember last time? The Noise hijacked the tech because he was jealous.

S: Hey, you’re right… But these two don’t look possessed. They’re just…calling out to the Noise. Wait… Of course!

N: If we help them patch things up--

S: The Noise will stop coming! Brilliant! Let’s try it!

N: First we have to figure out what’s wrong…

*go to Tipsy Tose Hall & talk to business guy*

BG: Where is all this merchandise coming from? First "Reaper Creeper," and now these "Red Skull" pins. I’m not one to turn business away, but something about this mystery supplier… It smells risky… Hmm… What should I do? I know! I’ll ask "Reaper Creeper"!

N: What’s up with that guy?

BG: Reaper… Creeper…

N: Is he having a stroke?

S: Hmm…It looks like some kind of divination. See how he put that ten-yen coin on the paper? He’s going to make a decision based on where it moves.

N: You mean where HE moves it. It’s not gonna move on its own.

S: Unless we play a little trick. Think you could use your psychs to give the coin a little push?

*play Reaper Creeper*

BG: White! An answer, clear as day! Nothing beats Reaper Creeper when you need answers. All right, White means… Umm… What did I ask again? …… Reaper… Creeper… What was my last question?

N: …Let’s move on.

S: Let’s.

*back to Spain Hill*

A: Mina… You really didn’t go to Shibu yesterday?

M: I…I didn’t. I swear! Quit asking, Ai.

A: Sure, whatever.

*imprint*

A: (She is so lying… …Reaper Creeper? Of course! Why didn’t I think of that sooner!) Say… Mina…

M: Hmm? What’s up?

A: Ever heard of "Reaper Creeper"?

M: Reaper Creeper… Oh, yeah! That magic game people were talking about at school, right? The one that answers your questions!

A: Wanna try it?

M: Sure! Sounds like fun!

S: They’re going to use Reaper Creeper… Neku. Should we fake it?

*sounds like fun*

S: OK, let’s move the coin and rig the answers. If we want them to patch things up--

N: Ai needs to know the truth.

S: What!? But…that’s really risky. Ai suspects Mina. She thinks Mina is after the boy she likes. If she finds out Mina has been lying, their friendship is sunk!

N: Exactly. That Mina girl is lying. And Ai is gonna find out eventually whether we cover it up or not. Better we clear things up now.

S: Well… I don’t know…

N: Lying isn’t right.

S: ……

A: OK, Reaper Creeper has a few rules.

M: Like what?

A: First, someone has to summon the Reaper.

M: Ooh, let me do it!

A: …All right.

M: Reaper…Creeper… Before we get in much deeper… If you’re here all right, go to White!

*Reaper Creeper*

M: White! Cool… The coin really moved! So, like… We said "if you’re here, go to White." And it went to White. Whoa… That means… …… The Reaper’s here! Creepy! Can you believe it? Reapers really exist!

A: That’s right. And they can see right through a lie.

M: Scary!

A: All right, Mina. Next question.

M: What are you gonna ask?

A: Hmm… Why don’t I ask about you?

M: About m-me? Why?

A: (Because I’m onto you, you tramp. You and Makoto.) Reaper…Creeper…If Mina has a boy she likes, go to White!

*Reaper creeper*

A: Aha! White!

M: Um, Ai--

A: (White means YES. She’s got a crush. And I saw her with him yesterday. Her and Makoto…together!) Next question!

M: Ai… This isn’t like you.

A: REAPER. CREEPER. If Mina has secrets that should be brought to light…go to White!

*Reaper creeper*

A: Aha! See! White!

M: Please…Ai!

A: I knew you were hiding something!

M: …What?

A: This is it, Mina! Last question!

M: Ai, please stop…

A: REAPER. CREEPER. Yesterday Mina met with Makoto. And she LIED to me about it. If I’m right…GO TO WHITE!

M: What? Ai, you knew about that? Aww…You saw us?

A: Yes! I know all about you. You and Makoto and your little--

M: Here.

A: What… Two tickets? How could you, Mina… You knew I liked Makoto.

M: I’m sorry. I just wanted to help.

A: …What?

M: Makoto wants to go to the Molco slam-off. But he couldn’t get a ticket. He told me yesterday. So I started mailing my friends. I figured, you know, maybe if I scored two tickets…

A: Oh, Mina. You didn’t…

M: You and Makoto go have a great time.

A: You got them for me?

M: Yup! Now you can put the moves on him, hee hee.

A: Mina… I’m so sorry… I totally got the wrong idea…

M: No worries. It’s partly my fault for fibbing to you. We’re friends. What’s one little argument?

A: …Yeah.

S: Neku! The Noise are thinning out.

N: Good! Let’s finish the job.

*battle*

N: Timer’s gone.

S: Whew! Mission complete. Looks like Ai and Mina made up, too.

A: Hey, let me take you out to eat. It’s the least I can do.

M: Really? Awesome! How about sundaes?

A: Sure! Let’s hit that family restaurant up the street.

M: OK!

S: Aww… See how nice it is to have friends?

N: (No.)

S: Sure, you may butt heads now and then, but life is more fun that way.

N: (Fun? Right. Every time you argue, you end up meeting halfway and getting nowhere. What’s fun about letting other people hold you back?) I don’t see the point of a relationship built on lies.

S: …… Neku…You don’t lie to MAKE friends. I agree, that wouldn’t be right. But sometimes, you need to tell a fib because you ARE friends. Not all secrets are bad secrets.

N: ….. (Her and that photo…)

S: Hey, Neku? Yesterday you said we were better off without friends. You really think so?

N: ……

S: Eri used to do everything for me. There was nothing she COULDN’T do. She had a ton of friends. Everybody at school loved her, because she was so outgoing. And the outfits she designed were so cute. Eri was the one who got me started making clothes.

N: I thought that pig of yours was the reason.

S: He’s a CAT! Ugh. Anyway… She saw me making Mr. Mew. And then she said: "Wow, you’re really good with a needle." So we got talking, and she let me help her make clothes. I owe her everything. She gave me purpose.

N: ……

S: Meeting her, talking to her, getting to know her… Admiring her… It made me want to be something more.

N: ……

S: Rhyme said she didn’t know what dreams are like. And now she never will… Neku, it’s not fair.

N: I know… I…I’m sad, too. We’ll just have to live a little extra. For her sake.

S: Yeah. If we get a second chance.

N: Second chance?

H: Hello, young lady.

S: Who’s there?

N: A Reaper!

H: Correct. But not just any Reaper. I am Yodai Higashizawa… Game Master by proxy.

N: Game Master… So you’re in charge?

H: Correct again.

S: Then Rhyme is gone because of you!

H: I detest leftovers. No Players were meant to escape yesterday’s chowder of destruction. Do you know why you alone survived?

S: ……

H: Because you are strong. It’s a dog-eat-dog world. A logical hierarchy much like the food chain. The strong reach the top and win the Game, while the weak are left behind, the heels of the proverbial loaf.

S: How dare you! Rhyme protected Beat! You call that weak? Take it back!

H: I admire your courage and loyalty, young lady. Delectable. This calls for a taste test! Let us see how you fare as fare for the Noise!

*battle*

H: Heh heh… I see I’ve sunk my teeth into something good.

S: We’ll never lose to you! You’ll pay for what you did the Rhyme!

H: Sadly, I’ve had my fill for the day. I only came here to meet you, young lady.

S: Me? …Why?

H: To get a closer look, of course. At the charcoal-black envy beneath the barbecue of your heart.

S: I…I don’t understand.

H: Oh, don’t you, though? You can’t fool me. You know the feelings are there, so you bury them. Your talk of loyalty, of dreams and friendship… They’re no more than a lid on your stir-fry of jealousy. Oh, how deeply you must hate yourself. You have EXACTLY what you always wanted…but it’s not enough, is it?

S: ……

H: No one loves you. You can’t love yourself. And so the jealousy consumes you.

S: Stop it!

H: That friend sugar coating can’t sweeten the selfishness inside you. You think you’re more important than anyone else. And THAT’S where jealousy begins…

S: No…I’m not--

H: You are. And you know it. Why else would your entry fee be--

S: Stop! Don’t say it!

H: Heh heh… That complex of yours is a bruise on the tomato of your soul.

S: No, I… I’m just…

H: Nothing will change if you are restored to life. You’ll just go on hating yourself and being jealous of everybody else.

S: No… Please don’t… *leaves*

N: Restored to life? What the hell are you talking about!?

H: You’re dead. Didn’t you know?

N: I’m…I’m dead?

H: All the Players are. The Reapers’ Game is an examination, to see who is worthy of a second chance at life.

N: ……

H: Now, if I may be excused… See you on Day 7. Keep it fresh. Take care, young lady. *leaves*

N: I’m…I’m d-d-dead? How? What did I… I’m DEAD!?

*end of day 5, week 1*

N: Where…? Back at the scramble… What’s this? A new pin? (Where’d it come from? It looks kind of like the Player Pin. …… It doesn’t work for scanning…) Hmph. Weird pin. (…Where’s Stalker?) …… (Guess she’s not awake yet. Hmm… Was the big guy serious? Am I really…dead? I don’t remember dying. But then again, except for my name, I can’t recall anything before waking up here on Day 1. …What did Mr. Hanekoma say again? )

*flashback*

Mr. H: Now listen up. This Shibuya ain’t your Shibuya. It’s the Composer’s Shibuya, which the Reapers use to run the Game. No matter what happens, people won’t see you, won’t hear you--and they definitely won’t help you. Your partner’s the only one who can keep you alive.

N: So we’re basically invisible?

Mr. H: Only those involved in the Game can see you.

S: So…the Players, The Reapers, and…you?

Mr. H: Right.

N: Why am I even in this stupid game?

Mr. H: All Players come from the RG to the UG for a common reason. And each must forfeit the thing they value most as an entry fee.

N: What we value most?

S: Do we get it back?

Mr. H: If you win.

N: …And if we don’t?

Mr. H: You lose your entry fee forever. And--well, your right to exist.

*back to present*

N: (A special Shibuya used to run the Game…And all the Players come here for a common reason. Death? So…I’m dead. Stalker’s dead. And we’re all part of some contest to come back to life? …How did I die? What was my entry fee? …… Dammit, I can’t remember any of it. The mission! "Dominate the scramble crossing view at 3: 00. You have 180 minutes. Fail, and face erasure.--The Reapers" *flinch* Nggh! Right on cue… (Hmm… Strange mission. I’m standing in the scramble now--but what’s the "view"? …Dammit. I don’t know Shibuya well enough to make sense of this. When is she gonna wake up?) Hey! Rise and shine! The mission’s here.

S: ……

N: What do you make of this?

S: "Dominate the view"?… No idea.

N: (Wow. Thanks for giving it all that thought. What’s gotten into her?) Well, wait… Look again. Maybe there’s a hidden clue.

S: The scramble crossing at three o’clock?

N: Is something scheduled to happen? Or do we make it happen? Let’s start by figuring out what this mission means.

Makoto: Sigh… I’m done for.

N: (What’s that guy mumbling about? I can feel time slipping through my fingers. Three more hours… Then I’m gonna get the ax. So long, Makoto. Heh…

N: Three more hours? (It’s noon now…so in three hours…it’ll be 3: 00!) Hey! I think this guy might be the key!

S: ……

N: (T-talk, dammit! Why is she so quiet today?)

S: ……

N: So, um, yeah… Let’s scan him. OK?

*scan*

N: (Catch the eye…That’s it!) Hey! This must be our mission!

S: …… Really?

N: ……. Think about it. The time matches up--3:00. And catching the eye… Eye? View? Same thing.

S: ……

N: But what’s "Q Floor"?

S: …… Neku. Up there…The big screen--that’s Q Floor.

N: The one playing commercials? This is all starting to make sense!

S: So dominating the scramble crossing view means getting the crowd here to watch that guy’s ad?

N: It sure seems that way.

S: …… That’ll never happen. People look straight ahead when they cross. Or at their feet.

N: Then our mission is to get them to look UP. They have to see that ad.

S: What do you think the ad’s for?

N: (Like I know. …Maybe he can answer that.)

M: It’s all over. I’m doomed…Trapped in the flaming wreckage of my own life…

N: Great. The Noise have a hold on him. You know what that means.

S: ……

*battle*

M: Chip up, Makoto! Snap out of it! True, these pins show no sign of becoming the next big thing. But it’s my job to MAKE them the next big thing!

N: That pin… It looks just like this one. This is what he’s advertising? (So maybe this is for the mission?)

S: It’s just a regular old pin. No one’s gonna watch an ad for it.

N: That’s for sure. But the guy’s a pro, right? I’m sure he’s at least got a plan.

M: …… OK! First, I’m going to hand free pins out and fill Shibuya with walking billboards! Hmm…and to get people’s attention, I need some "hip" one-liners like that book suggested. Let’s see…How about, "Totally gnarly!" "Come and get some hot stuff!" "Unreal, bro!" Perfect! The slang of the moment! If I get everyone talking about the pins in time, they’re sure to watch the commercial!

N: Uhh…no? They’re going to think you’re nuts.

S: "Come get some hot stuff"? That sounds like a pickup line… And pins aren’t exactly a hot topic to begin with. No one’s going to take them.

N: We’d better intervene.

S: ……

*tap Makoto & Nao*

M: Um…excuse me.

Nao: Hmm?

M: I, umm…you, uhh…

N: Sota? Like, this guy. He’s, like, talking to me?

M: Wha--

S: ‘Scuse me?

M: Uh-oh…

S: Whadda you want, dawg? Got somethin' to say to my Nao?

N: Like, he said he thinks I’m cute… Right?

M: Wr-wrong! I don’t think that at all!

N: What? You don’t?

S: ‘Scuse me?

M: Ahhh! No no no no, she’s cute! But not…you know…ahhh!

*imprint*

M: Totally gnarly!

S: ’Scuse me?

M: I mean…umm…My…my grandpa! It’s my grandpa. He’s…he’s all gnarly!

S: Gnarly?

M: F-from his arthritis! The poor man beats himself up because no one wears these pins. When I see his gnarly hands tremble with guilt, I… I just…Ohh, Grandpa! ……So, um… Would you do me a favor, and wear one of these pins for him?

S: …Hells yeah.

M: Whoa! Really?

S: What’s your name?

M: It’s...Makoto Miki. Friends call me Mick.

S: Mick… You’re a good man.

N: Yeah! Like, that was totally moving?

S: Handing out pins for your grandpa in the scramble… That’s aces, dawg.

N: Like, I think I’m in love?

S: We’ll wear your pins. It’d be an honor.

M: Th-thanks!

S: Hang in there, Mick. We’ll be rootin’ for you.

N: Hope your granddaddy, like, cheers up?

M: Who? Oh! M-me too… Wow, I’m on fire today! OK! Time to hand these out someplace else!

N: Looks like it worked.

S: You really think a pin like this could take off?

N: It better. That’s our mission.

S: …Yeah.

*Clear Reapers Demands to enter center street*

M: OK! This seems like a good spot.

N: Here we go again…

S: ……

M: Ooh! That kid’s sure to take one. Hey, there, slugger.

Shooter: WHOAAA!

M: Huh?

S: Lemme guess, bro. You want me to make you one of my Slammurai… Right?

M: Uh…I didn’t--

S: Don’t be shy! It’s cool! SLAM ON!!!

M: No. I’m not here to--

S: What’s your favorite whammy?

M: Buh--

S: What are you ranked?

M: I…I…I don’t know!

*imprint*

M: Unreal, bro!

S: WHOAAA!!!

M: Huh?

S: What’s that pin?

M: Oh, this?

S: Yeah! Tell me where you got it!

M: Well--

S: What’s it’s Attack?

M: Uhh…unreal, bro?

S: Seriously? How about it’s Defense?

M: Unreal, bro!

S: Whoa! BRO!!! You and me gotta battle. I want that pin!

M: Huh?

S: Ready? Slaaam…ON! *flash* Woo…hoooooo! I won, bro! Better practice up. Rely on pins alone…and you’ll never be a true Slammurai! I’ll be taking that pin. YOINK!

M: Huh? But… OK… It worked!

*Clear Reaper demand, go to Spain Hill*

M: OK! This seems like a good spot.

N: Here we go again…

Shiki: ……

M: Pardon me. Hello? Excuse me! …… Can’t he hear me? What now? *imprint* Come and get some hot stuff! No good? Hot stuff! Come get some! Huh? I think I got a reaction that time. One more time! Come get some hot stuff! Oh! Hot stuff! Ooh! Hot! Yeah, hot stuff! Come get some!

T: …I’ll take one.

M: Oh. Thank you! Finally! All done. Now these pins are sure to take off! I should go see what people are saying back by Q Floor.

N: So far so good. Let’s follow him back to the scramble.

S: ……

*back at scramble*

M: Now, to witness a phenomenon in the making! I bet I’ll have to BEAT back all the fans. Let me walk around and observe.

N: Oh, come on. Handing out a few pins isn’t going to ignite Shibuya. We better go after him.

S: …… Just…give it up.

N: Huh?

S: Even if we do clear the mission… I’ll still… I’ll never be… *leaves*

N: Hey! What’s gotten into you? Hey, what gives?

S: ……

N: You’ve been acting really weird today.

S: ……

N: It’s almost 3. We need to get moving, or we’ll fail the mission.

S: …So what?

N: Huh?

S: There’s no point. You heard what that Reaper said. …… Even if I finish the mission…win the Game… Even if I come back to life… I’ll still just be me. What do I do…

N: What kind of question is that?

S: …… I thought I’d changed. But I’ll never change. I’ll just go on hurting.

N: Says who?

S: …… I was never pretty…or smart… There was nothing special about me at all. I hated myself. I wanted to change, to be somebody else. …… To be Eri.

N: ……

S: But it didn’t work.

N: I don’t-- WHOA! Over there! Is that…you?

S: Ahh!

Eri: The other day, I found just the cutest outfit at Ten-Four!

Mina: Seriously? Hey, why don’t we head over there? You’ve still go some time, right, Eri?

N: Eri? What the…

S: …… *leaves*

N: Hey! Wait!

S: So now you know.

N: Know what?

S: …… What my entry fee was.

N: Huh?

S: My appearance. I gave up the way I really look.

N: Your appearance? Then--

S: This is Eri’s body. I don’t really look like this.

N: Oh. Wow…

S: When I got to the UG and I saw myself… I freaked.

N: Yeah. I would, too.

S: But it was a happy kind of freaked.

N: Happy? Why?

S: Because this is what I always dreamed of--a new me. I hated who I was. All I wanted was to like myself. To be cute, and smart, and perfect…like Eri.

N: …… Then why would the Reapers take your appearance? Your entry fee is supposed to be what you value most. But you just said you hate yourself.

S: At first… I didn’t get it either. I was so excited to be Eri that I even acted like her--all bubbly and cute. But it was just an act. Inside, nothing changed. I’m still the same person I’ve always been. Then I realized. I’ll never be Eri. Deep down, I never wanted to be. I was just jealous. The Reaper was right. What I value most is ME!

N: ……

S: Eri has all the things I don’t. Looks, brains, design sense. Lots of friends…I envied her. And now that I’m inside her body, it just hurts even more.

N: …… (All this time…she’s been as confused as me.)

S: The truth is, I’m scared! I keep trying to sound brave, saying we need to win the Game, but… I’m scared of getting a second chance! What if it’s like the Reaper said? I don’t want to come back to life it means being jealous of Eri all the time. ……I don’t want to be that person.

N: Well…I like you the way you are.

S: Huh?

Makoto: Noooooo!

N: What the--

M: No one’s wearing the pins! Why not!?

N: Looks like we can’t relax yet. Listen. We’re going to finish this mission. So promise you’ll focus on that for now. OK?

S: …… All right.

M: Why isn’t anyone talking about the pins? I worked so hard…

The Prince: Hey, Mick.

M: Huh? Oh! Mr. Oji. Prince…

P: I saw you standing here. Why so glum?

M: It’s work. I’m going to lose my job. I was supposed to make these pins a sensation. I gave away a whole bunch for free. But they just won’t take off.

P: Aw, Mick, you can’t be serious.

M: What?

P: All right, listen. You’ve done good business for me, so I’ll give it to you straight. Your pins wont’ take off, because you’re ignoring the trends. Handing out samples doesn’t make something popular.

M: Hmm. True… So then how do I change the trends?

P: Lots of ways. I mean, if you were a Prince like me, just walking the streets could start a revolution.

M: If people saw you wearing the pin… Right…

P: OK. I’ve gotta run. Press date. Take care, Mick. You can do it.

M: Thanks! I’ll try! Hmm… Trends, eh? OK! If the Prince can do it, so can I! Time to put this pin on and start a revolution!

N: This guy is certifiable…

S: …But think about it. Neku, if you put the pin on and we fought some battles, we might be able to change the trends.

N: How do you figure?

S: Rhyme and I got to talking. We noticed wearing pins in combat makes those brands more popular.

N: Even though the RG people can’t see us?

S: Yeah. Weird, huh?

N: All right… Let’s give it a try.

*battles*

Random Person1: Hey! Isn’t that pin the coolest?

Random Person2: Huh? Where?

RP1: There. The one that guy’s got on.

RP2: Oh yeah! Very nice. Wonder where they sell ‘em.

M: Whoa… People keep looking at me and smiling. Am I… I couldn’t be…trendy!? Wow. The Prince was right!

N: It worked.

S: So the pins we wear in combat do change what’s popular in the RG.

N: Uh-huh. But that guy seems to have his own theory.

M: Get ready, 104! Your trend-god cometh!

N: …… He’s kind of a tool, huh?

*104*

M: OK! Time to look trendy!

N: Yeah, with a little help.

*battles*

RP1: Hey, check out that hot pin!

RP2: Yeah. The one on that guy? People were wearing it back at the scramble crossing.

RP1: Seriously? It’s gonna be huge, just wait and see.

RP2: Wish I had one…

M: Whoa… I get it. I really get it! The trends are mine to command! Now that the word is out, I just need to wait for the ad to run. Back to the crossing!

N: Well, we did it.

S: Did we?

N: Hey, we gave it our best shot. Let’s just cross our fingers.

S: …… Neku… Umm… I’m sorry. If we fail, and it turns out to be my fault for slowing us down…

N: …… No big deal. We all, umm…

S: Hmm?

N: We all have our bad days.

S: Neku… Thanks.

N: Hey, it’s her.

S: Ahh!

Mina: So, Eri. How come you haven’t designed anything lately?

E: …… Actually… I’m thinking about giving it up.

M: What! Why? You’re so talented!

S: She’s giving it up? Eri, why… ……

N: If you want to know, scan her.

S: What? I can’t do that! She’s my friend. I can’t eavesdrop on her thoughts!

N: Why not? You’ve scanned tons of people.

S: ……

M: Eri, why would you give design up?

S: ……

E: Well, there was this girl, Shiki--

S: Neku… I have to go! *leaves*

N: Hey! Just…wait!

S: I’m…I’m sorry. I didn’t want to hear Eri talk about me. I was afraid.

N: ……

S: Eri told me something before I died. "You’re not meant to be a designer," she said. I never had her talent… I guess she finally got fed up and--

N: Oh, would you cut the crap? Who ARE you?

S: Huh?

N: You’re you. You’re not Eri. You’ll never be Eri. You’ll only ever be you.

S: But she’s so much better--

N: Forget her! You need to live your own life. If she can do it, so can you. All that matters is you try.

S: ……Neku--

N: You’re luck you’re jealous. It gives you something to shoot for. So…shoot.

S: ……You’re right. Thanks, Neku.

N: It’s time. The commercial’s about to air.

M: Sooo nervous… Will people watch?

S: Neku…

N: Don’t worry. They’ll watch.

RP1: Hey! Up there!

RP2: That pin. Who designed it? It looks like--

RP3: Hey, cool graphic.

RP4: I never wear pins. But this one…

RP5: Where can I buy it?

Shooter: Hey, man, look what I got.

Yammer: You HAVE one? Aw, lucky…

Eri: Oh, I know that pin!

Mina: Ha ha. You would, Eri. Wish I had one…

S: Eri… …… Neku, can I have a minute? I want to go stand by her.

N: Hey, you’re off the clock.

S: …Thanks!

M: Eri, you shouldn’t give up design.

E: I told you. This girl, Shiki--I’m nothing without her.

S: Huh?

M: Yeah, you said that. What, did you two have a fight?

E: A fight? I wish. Shiki died. In an accident the other day.

M: Oh…I’m so sorry.

E: No one else could ever make my outfits. Shiki gave them life. Made them real.

M: You must have trusted her a lot.

E: I did! She was an amazing person. She cared about people--and always noticed the little things. If I missed something in my design, Shiki always picked up the slack. And her stuffed animals! I wouldn’t know where to begin. She had a sharp eye, skilled hands. Motivation. All the things I don’t have.

M: The way you talk about her, she must have been something.

E: …… The day before her accident… I said something I’ll always regret.

M: What?

E: She was upset ‘cause she couldn’t come up with a good design. I wanted to cheer her up…so I told her "You’re not meant to be a designer." I mean, she had such a great future as a seamstress. But I think I really hurt her feelings. I planned to apologize the next day…but I never saw her again. …… She’s still my best friend. Even now. I want her back, so I can tell her I’m sorry…and so we can be a team again.

S: ……I had no idea. I never knew she felt that way about me.

N: Guess you two both need each other.

S: Neku…You think I’m OK the way I am?

N: Hey, Shibuya’s got room for all types. Who else is gonna make stuffed piggies?

S: He’s a cat! Heh heh… Neku… I want to see Eri again. So we can be a team. I’m ready for a second chance!

N: All right. Then whatever it takes… Let’s win… Let’s live. Just one more day!

*in Reaper hangout*

Meg: We’re on schedule.

H: Yes, sir! Three Players remain. Tomorrow I shall ice them personally.

M: I look forward to it. See this week’s Game through to its conclusion, and your promotion to Game Master is assured.

H: As your proxy, sir, I promise you I will not fail.

M: You know, enough with this "proxy" business. Too formal. I hereby grant you full GM privileges. You’ve proven you can handle it.

H: Sir! You are far too kind! I will check in again after tomorrow’s repast.

*in WildKat*

Beat: Why? Why can’t I use you? Yo, there’s gotta be a way. ……THEY know. They gotta know! Yo, I am done sittin’ here collectin’ dust!

*in the Scramble*

Mr. H: Well, time to get cracking. I just hope they can pull it off. ……Back to the café, I guess. Beat must be starving by now.

*end of day 6, week 1*

S: This is it…Day 7.

N: Yup. Today we win this. *beep* There it is!

S: The last mission.

N: "The Game Master awaits you on the freeway. Defeat him. You have 600 minutes. Fail, and face erasure.--The Reapers" *flinch*

S: Oww! The Game Master is that big Reaper, right?

N: We need to pay him back for Rhyme.

S: Yeah…C’mon. We’ve got a Game to win. For Beat…and for us!

N: Who could be calling us now?

S: Think it’s the Reapers?

N: Hello? Dead kid speaking.

Mr. H: Phones! That you?

N: Mr. Hanekoma?

Mr. H: Listen! Beat, he…he’s gone!

N: Gone!? You don’t mean…

Mr. H: No, no…Not erased. …Not yet.

N: What’s that supposed to mean?

Mr. H: Look, he musta left the café while I was out.

N: He left? Why!?

Mr. H: I dunno why. Look, enough questions. You gotta hurry! That kid ain’t got a partner to fight with. He’s Reaper-chow the second they spot him. ‘Sides…Today’s Day 7. The GM can attack Players directly now! And he will. Believe me.

N: Son of a--

Mr. H: Hey, hey, have a little faith. You’re almost there! Just put an end to the Game! You do that and Skater-Brain might just survive this.

N: Right, got it.

S: Neku, what’s going on? Is Beat in trouble?

N: Yeah… But we can save him if we end the Game in time.

S: Then let’s move it!

N: (That meathead! Has he lost his mind!? Why couldn’t he just stay with Mr. Hanekoma?)

S: Neku! Let’s got over to the freeway! It’s not far from the station underpass!

*clear Reaper demand*

N: Clear!

S: Go, go, go!

*talk to Black Reaper*

R: Six days you’re still kickin’. I’m impressed.

N: A Reaper…

S: Hey, clear the road! We’re in a hurry!

R: Oh, I’ll clear the road--of YOU, that is.

*fight*

N: Dammit…That cost us time.

S: I hope Beat’s OK.

N: Worrying won’t save him. C’mon. We’re still in this.

S: Right! Let’s shut their Game down!

*to the Reapers*

Uzuki: Bleh. Day 7 is such a yawn. Not enough Players left, you know?

Koki: See? This is why I pace myself. Work too hard and you run out of work.

U: Yeah… We did rack up a ton of points this week.

K: And on the seventh day…we rest. The first day of many days off, I hope.

B: Yo…

U: Who’s there? …You!?

B: ……

U: We toasted your partner--you should be smoke by now!

K: Make another pact?

B: ……

U: So, like, what? You thirsty for revenge?

B: No!

U: …Huh? Then what do you want?

B: ……Answers. Tell me what I need to know!

U: You do realize…you’re in no position to make demands?

B: ……

U: I could erase you with my little finger.

B: ……

K: Aight, Skulls… You ask. Maybe we’ll answer.

U: Hey…Kariya!!!

B: What does it take? How do you Reapers do it!?

*back to Neku & Shiki*

*in underpass*

N: Game Master’s just ahead…

S: Finally…the end is in sight. It’s been crazy, huh? Our time in the UG. But I learned something about myself--how lucky I was. I took each day for granted. Woke up, went to school, talked to Eri. Came home, ate, watched TV. Then conked right out. It was so…NORMAL, I never thought of it as living. But this week woke me up, made me feel more alive…than I ever did when I really was.

N: ……The best is still ahead. Once we win, and come back to life.

S: Yeah! Neku…Thanks for these last seven days. You’re pretty good at this partner thing.

N: Pfft…Save it for when we win, OK? …Ready for the big boss?

S: You know it. Hey, if we make it through this…let’s meet up in the RG. You, me, and Beat. You might not recognize me, so…I know! I’ll bring Mr. Mew with me. We can be a team again!

N: I’ll…think it over.

S: Heh heh. OK. Let’s finish this!

H: You’re late. A shame I had to set the table before cooking the main dish.

S: We’re not on the menu. You are!

H: Ah, hello there, young lady. I’ve been waiting for this day. What’s this? The jealousy in your heart--my secret spice! …… It’s…gone.

S: Lost your appetite?

H: But…you were green with envy! Begrudging to a light golden brown! So deliciously jealous…

S: That’s right. I was jealous. That’s how lucky I am! It takes an amazing friend to make you jealous. So you can just get ready to lose!

N: You tell him!

S: I swear I’m getting my life back! Eri’s waiting in the RG, and you…are NOT gonna get in my way!

H: …… You’re gone stale, young lady. But no matter. A true chef can whip up a toothsome meal even from the basest of ingredients! Mr. Kitaniji has given me a recipe…and I intend to cook it. Now…prepare to be spicy tuna rolled!

*battle*

H: …… In…indigestible! I lost? Well done…young lady…

N: Game over.

S: That’s it?

N: We did it! We won!

S: Woo-hoo! Now we’ll come back to life! *white flash* Wh-what’s going on?

N: Shiki?

S: Huh? I don’t think this light is bad.

N: Yeah…Feels almost like a…pat on the back.

S: A warm welcome back to the world of living! And you said "Shiki"! Neku…That’s the first time you used my name.

N: Oh, really?

S: Neku? See you on the other side. You know the meeting place. Hachiko!

N: Heh. It’s a date.

*cutscene*

N: Why… Why, why, why…*beep* …… WHYYYYYY!

*end of Day 7, Week 1*

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Chapter 1: Shiki (Day 3 to Day 4)

Jun. 1st, 2008 | 04:40 pm

N: Nngh… What is this place? It’s dark… Is it nighttime? No, I’m indoors. Wait! The girl! …… …… She’s gone. (Because of me…)

*cutscene flashback*

N:…… I need to get out of here. Where’s the exit? If I use this pin for a light… Huh? It doesn’t work. So I can’t use pins. (Oh, well. I’ll just have to feel my way around.)

*runs to the other side of the building*

N: (Footsteps? Somebody’s coming this way…)

S: Ooh… So dark… Where am I?

N: Show yourself!

S: Ahhh!

N: You?

S: Neku!? You scared the crap out of me! Don’t do that.

N: I scared YOU? Where the hell have you been?

S: it was dark. I was looking for a way out! I must’ve tripped a half a dozen times.

N: (Hmm, time to try this again.)

S: Neku, pins only work when we fight Noise.

N: Really?

S: Well…with a few exceptions.

N: (Like psychokinesis…) W-well… It’s dark. You should be more careful.

S: You kidding? I already found the exit!

N: Then why didn’t you lea--

S: I’m not going anywhere without you.

N: ……

S: C’mon, I’m not that useless, am I?

N: …… Don’t do anything dumb like wander off.

S: Excuse me? Which one of us has been acting dumb?

N: …….

*flashback*

Uzuki: What are you waiting for? Do what comes naturally. Save yourself. Screw everybody else, right?

S: Don’t, Neku. Don’t kill me…

N: I have to.

U: Now let’s see some results!

Mr. Hanekoma: Hey! That’s enuffa that.

U: Who are you?

Mr. H: Ah-ah-ah, sister. You gotta play by the rules. Making "erase your partner" the mission is a clear violation.

N: It is!?

U: I know that. I was just having a little postgame fun.

N: What!?

Mr. H: One mission per day. That’s the rule. And only the Game Master can pick the missions.

U: I know that, too! But I’m not the Game Master. Which MEANS this wasn’t a mission, which MEANS I didn’t break any rules!

Mr. H: Then start walkin’, sister. Your work’s done for the day.

U: …Hmph. For a Player…you know a lot about our rules.

N: You…you tricked me! All that about letting me out of the Game--that was all a lie!

U: Like, that is so rude! I do not lie. If I erased you, that’s still letting you out of the Game! Ugh, you totally ruined all my fun. Time to call it a day. We can play some more another time. *leaves*

S: Thank you so much. We owe you our lives, Mister…um…

Mr. H: Hanekoma. Sanae Hanekoma. Think of me as a sort of…guardian. I watch the Game, to make sure shady types don’t start bendin’ the rules.

N: That Reaper tricked us.

Mr. H: You mean she tricked YOU.

N: ……

Mr. H: You ignored the young lady, fell into a trap, and very nearly snuffed her for good.

N: ……

Mr. H: If you think you can do everything yourself, you’re in for some hard lessons. Now! Apologize to the young lady.

N: ‘Scuse me?

Mr. H: Hard feelings don’t make for good teamwork. You wanna survive or not? Go on!

S: ……

N: …… …Sorry.

S: Neku… I, um… F-forget it. I’m over it. I mean, you didn’t… She made you do it, right? And I should’ve stood up for myself better. So let’s just put it behind us.

Mr. H: There! Problem solved. Now listen up, you two. There’s only one way to stay alive in this Shibuya. Trust your partner! Especially you, Phones.

N: "Phones"?

Mr. H: You know what trust is, right? Partnership is essential to surviving the Game. Alone, you face limitations. But partner up, and you can smash right through them. Same goes for when you fight the Noise. You may think you’re alone, but you’re not. Your partner is in the other zone, sharing your energy. So you gotta sync up and send that energy back and forth.

N: ……

Mr. H: You won’t sync up unless you OPEN up. Talk to her! Tell her how you’re feeling. Lay it on her! That’s the fastest way to get something across.

S: He’s right, Neku! Look… I know I hold you back. I’m not that good at psychs… But still! I want to win at this Game. And I want us to do it together! So tell me what you’re thinking! I just want to understand you!

N: ……

S: Neku?

N: I want to understand me, too… But I don’t.

S: What…

N: I can’t remember anything but my name. I woke up in the intersection with no clue how I got there, no clue why I’m part of this stupid Game. I don’t know anything. Because I can’t remember…anything.

S: But… That means…what? You have amnesia?

N: ……

Mr. H: Sorry to hear it, boss… That’s rough.

*back to present*

S: I can’t believe you’ve lost your memory… You could’ve told me sooner.

N: I didn’t know.

S: It did strike me as kind of strange that you knew nothing about Shibuya or the Game.

N: What, like you do?

S: Well, I don’t know EVERYTHING, but… Anyway. We got lucky. Thanks to Mr. Hanekoma and his advice. I feel like you and I can finally talk. And he gave us that awesome pin! *beep* Ahhh! That almost gave me a heart attack!

N: Hey, you dropped your phone--

S: Ahh! Don’t touch it! I got it!!!

N: (Nice photo.)

S: …You looked?

N: The screen was face up…

S: That’s my friend. She was in my class.

N: So all those times--

S: Yeah. I was looking at this.

N: And you yell at me for keeping secrets! It’s just a photo. You don’t need to--

S: Look, Neku! The mission mail!

N: (…Huh? She’s covering? What else does she have to hide?)

S: "Defeat the master of A-East. You have 360 minutes. Fail, and face erasure.--The Reapers"

*both flinch*

N & S: Oww!

N: The timer. Guess we’d better get started.

S: OK! Today’s mission has something to do with A-East.

N: A-East?

S: It’s the name of a concert space. I’ve been there a bunch of times.

N: You seem to know Shibuya pretty well.

S: Of course! I hang out here all the time. Follow me! I’ll take you to A-East. The exit’s right over there.

*exit the building*

S: Wait a sec…

N: What now?

S: Umm…We’re here, heh heh…

N: You mean we were inside A-East the whole time? You know--

S: How was I supposed to tell? They had all the lights off!

N: ……

S: We’re ahead of schedule, so no griping. Now let’s go defeat that master! Umm…once we, um, find it.

N: It was too dark to see anything inside.

S: Then we better take care of the lights. Otherwise we’re more likely to trip over it than defeat it.

N: How do we restore power? (Somebody around here must know…)

*talk to blonde guy*

: Tsk, the hell is he? We gotta rehearse.

N: (What’s that guy grumbling about? )

: Hey, perfect! You two.

N: Huh?

S: Can we help you?

N: H-h-hey! Wait a sec--

777: Think you could do a guy a favor?

S: Sure, if we can be of any help.

N: Shh! What’re you--

S: Let’s hear him out. Sometimes all people need is a good listener. We might even be able to solve his problem. If not, don’t worry. I promise I’ll say no.

N: (You sap…Look at the bigger picture!)

777: My band’s supposed to play here in a few hours, but the tech’s been gone all day. Could you go look for him? I gotta stay here and hold down the fort. Man, where the hell’d that slacker go?

S: So this tech’s part of the concert crew?

777: That’s right. He’s in a black tee. Got a lanyard ‘round his neck. Without him, we’re screwed.

S: Why can’t you go find him?

777: ‘Cause I got a concert. I can’t go wondering off. The name’s 777 ("Triple Seven").

S: 777...777... No way! Like 777, "Def March" vocalist and rising superstar 777!?

777: Oh, you’ve heard of us? Rock on. We’re still totally indie. But one day, we’re gonna start a rock revolution, just wait an-- Nngh… CAWFF! CAWFF!

S: Whoa, are you all right?

777: Yeah, my throat’s just sore. I had to shout a lot during load-in. It’s hard to get anything set up without the tech.

S: Oh, you poor thing..

N: (No tech, no show, huh? So if we find the guy…) You can rehearse if we find your man?

777: Of course! It’s that, or call off the show. So how ‘bout it? Will you see if you can find him?

S: We want to help, but… We don’t really have time…do we?

N: …… Sure, we’ll do it.

S: What? We will!?

N: Yup.

777: Thanks, man! You rock! If you see him, tell him to haul it back to A-East. I’ll be here waiting.

N: OK.

S: Hee hee!

N: Ugh, stop laughing.

S: Sorry, I’ve just never seen you act so…nice.

N: (…She still doesn’t get it.) If the tech comes back, he can turn on the lights.

S: Oh… Duh! Neku, that’s brilliant!

N: Plus, that 777 guy? He’s a--

S: Now we can help 777 AND finish the mission!

N: (Sigh…)

*Walk to Reaper*

R: …… Want past this wall? Then here. Defeat the Noise!

S: Another wall.

N: No big deal. We know how to handle it now.

S: Hey! Why don’t we try that pin?

N: Oh, the one Mr. Hanekoma gave us?

*flashback*

Mr. H: OK, Phones! In honor of your growth as a human being, and a friendship saved from the rocks, I’m gonna give you a little advice, and a little gift. Make sure you remember it all.

N: (OK, but… First, could YOU remember my name?) Um, Mr. Hanekoma. It’s Neku. Not "Phones".

Mr. H: Oh, right! Sorry, Neku. My bad. I got it now.

N: (I wonder.)

Mr. H: So let’s start with some Q & A. You got questions? I got answers.

*Reapers’ Game*

Mr. H: To win the "Reapers’ Game"…you must complete seven missions, one each day.

S: So…is it true that if we don’t, we’ll be erased?

Mr. H: Well, only if you fail, to be precise.

S: Huh?

Mr. H: You two aren’t the only Players. If any one Player completes the mission, you all do.

S: Then we don’t have to play.

Mr. H: Ah, but if you all think like that and ignore the missions--

N: Then we all wind up erased.

Mr. H: Furthermore, the Reapers grade the Players.

N: Grade us?

Mr. H: Naturally, you get points for finishing a mission.

S: But…what are the grades for?

Mr. H: On the seventh day, you’ll know. Just clear the missions. You’ll be glad you did.

*Reapers*

N: What are Reapers?

Mr. H: Their main job are running the Game, and testing the Players. So like that sister who gave you trouble before, they’ll get in the Players’ way from time to time.

S: She was such a creep…

N: So they’re like some kind of group?

Mr. H: Yes! Very sharp, Phones. You’ve seen the guys in red, by the walls? They’re Reapers, too.

N: (I knew it.)

S: Whoa, really? But the guys by the walls never attacked us.

Mr. H: Not all Reapers are cut from the same cloth. Some are Harriers; others are just Support. The wall Reapers are Support. They won’t attack you. All they do is issue conditions to pass the walls.

S: So they don’t fight.

Mr. H: The Harriers, on the other hand, hunt Players for a living. It’s not just their job, either. If they don’t dispatch Noise, erase Players, and score points… THEY get erased.

N: So we’re their lunch.

Mr. H: Everybody’s gotta eat, kiddo…

*Hanekoma*

N: Mr. Hanekoma… Who are you?

Mr. H: What, me? Pfft… …… All right. I’ll tell you a little. The name’s Sanae Hanekoma. Born March 3, blood type A. I’m a Pisces and one hip café barista, mista.

N: I didn’t ask for your personal ad.

Mr. H: I’m a big gambler. My favorite word: "windfall". "Natto" gets my tummy rumbling.

N: Like I said--

Mr. H: As for my physical dimensions,

N: Stop. Please.

S: So you run a café? I thought you said you were a guardian.

Mr. H: The café’s like a hobby. Totally hip, right?

S: Yeah! I think it’s cool.

N: (Uhh…what?)

Mr. H: Drop by my place if you get the chance. I’ll give you the best cuppa joe you ever had--in exchange for cash money, of course.

N: (What kind of invite is that!?)

*Shibuya*

S: This…IS Shibuya, right?

Mr. H: You bet. But not your Shibuya. It’s an alternate Shibuya we call the "UG."

S: "UG"?

Mr. H: As in "Underground." The UG is one big chessboard for the Reapers’ Game.

N: You expect us to believe that?

Mr. H: The Shibuya you came from is called the RG. The "Realground."

S: So we’re in another world?

Mr. H: No… The RG and UG exist in the same space. What you see is the RG--the real deal.

N: ……

Mr. H: The UG is run by the Composer.

N: Who’s that?

Mr. H: Shibuya’s supervisor.

N: Shibuya has a supervisor? Right.

Mr. H: I can’t say anything more on that subject. It’s classified, you dig?

*no more questions*

Mr. H: Now, for that gift I promised… In honor of you two making up!

S: What is this pin? It’s blank. What it’s psych?

Mr. H: This one’s a little different. It takes two people to use. It only works against the Noise, when you two are in complete sync. The more you get in sync, the more you Fuse your energy, the stronger the psych this puppy will unleash. You’ve got talent, Phones. You can use a much wider range of psychs than the others. Learn to cooperate, and you might be able to use this one, too.

S: Yeah! You’re great at psychs. Way better than me.

N: You think?

Mr. H: There, see? You take good care of that.

S: Let’s try and get to work, Neku!

N: …… (But…I can’t use it by myself. I’m supposed to sync up with HER? Not happening. What good’s a powerful pin if I can’t use it?)

Mr. H: Just to be clear… You need more than talent to use that. It takes somebody with style…if you catch my drift.

N: I’ll use it. And please… My name is Neku. Not "Phones."

Mr. H: Oh, right! Sorry ‘bout that. I got it now, Phones!

*back to present*

S: He was quite a character, huh?

N: (And really bad with names.)

S: What a nice guy, giving us that pin. And fun to talk to.

N: I’ll give you that. (Something about him just…pulls you in. Not sure why, but… I kind of want to talk to him some more.)

S: Neku! Let’s try the pin!

N: …… (So I have to sync up with her? Pfft, right.)

S: What’s wrong? Oh, I know. You forgot how it works, right? You’re hopeless.

N: ……

S: Let’s see… First, we have to fight in sync.

N: (And that’s where this all goes to hell.)

S: Then, once we’ve got a groove going, this pin will activate, and you can use it!

N: (Great explanation.)

S: Ready to give it a shot?

*All set!*

S: OK! Here goes nothing!

N: …… Come on.

*battle*

S: So, did you get the hang of it? Or do you want to practice some more?

*That’s enough*

S: If we work together…we should get a ton of use out of this!

N: ……

Reaper: Objective met. Wall clear!

*enter Cosmic corner*

N: Talk about your sketchy stores…

Seller: Hey, kids? Um… Look around if you want, but… I ain’t sellin’.

N: Huh?

S: The stuff in the case? It’s special to me. So, like, if you want it? Tough. I ain’t sellin’.

N: …… Then take it out of the damn case.

S: Neku. Let’s just browse, OK?

*Fuse*

S: That fuse? Sorry, ain’t sellin’. That baby’s custom-made. So, like…fanatics totally dig it. If you had a good reason, I might consider parting with it. But look at you. You totally don’t.

*Aurora cough drops*

S: The cough drops? Sorry, ain’t sellin’. You can’t buy those in just any store. They’re, like…totally rare, you dig? How dare you ask me to sell you one? It’s your first visit, punks. Hey, like… if you had a good reason, I might consider parting with it. But look at you. You totally don’t.

*Dandy hat*

S: The dandy hat? Sorry, ain’t sellin’. I mean, look at you. Aren’t you like, Generation…What are they up to, Z? You are so not baby-boom enough to dig a treasure like this.

* "Love in a Heartbeat"*

S: "Love in a Heartbeat"? Sorry, ain’t sellin’. And for the record: it’s just a name. Wearing this skirt will not actually help you fall in love. So, like…get that outta your heads. I wish folks would stop asking. You young people, heh. But it looks like you two lovebirds are all set. What? You’re not together? You young people, heh.

*leave the store*

N: You heard the man.

S: I ain’t sellin’.

N: Let’s go.

*in Ramen Don*

Techie: Man, screw the concert. Can’t they hire another tech?

S: Psst! Neku, did you hear that?

N: Yup. Looks like we found our man. Guess he’s on strike. (He picked the right noodle bar to hide in. Empty in the middle of lunch hour?)

T: I’m tellin’ ya, I’ve got stage presence! I’m not the behind-the-scenes type, OK?

Don: Well, just remember, son. The future is a clean slate, and you’re the chalk! *tech leaves* Now have a hot bowl of ramen and cheer… …up? Hey, where’d he go? Sigh…I can’t win. Young people just won’t eat old-fashioned noodles…

S: Neku! The tech just took off!

N: What? Dammit! I don’t care if I have to DRAG him back to A-East!

*outside Ramen shop*

T: Whew…I just can’t deal anymore. Wish I could curl up and forget all this.

S: Wow. Talk about your negative vibes. He’ll never come back with us now.

N: Yes, he will. He has to.

S: He seems so down. I wonder what’s on his mind…

N: Hey! He’s surrounded by Noise!

S: You’re right! It’s like he’s possessed!

T: Man, now I feel all out of whack. It just gets worse and worse.

S: We should erase the Noise around him.

*scan & battle*

T: Huh? What am I doing here? Oh, crap! Look at the time! I gotta get back to A-East!

S: Good. Now he’ll head back.

N: And once he does, we’ll have power.

S: Pretty weird, though, the way he snapped right out of it.

N: Yeah… You think the Noise are out to hijack people’s minds?

S: But then what about last time? Remember? They erased the people they attacked.

N: (Maybe they’re like the Reapers--not all cut from the same cloth. Or maybe--)

S: Well, either way, they’re not good for you! If we see anyone else possessed, let’s get rid of the Noise for them.

N: (OK, Captain Sappy. Roger that.)

S: C’mon, let’s drop by A-East. The tech should be back by now.

*back at A-East*

777: The hell you been? Go get us ready for rehearsal!

T: I’m sorry, 777... But…the stage lighting’s busted.

777: It’s what? How’re we gonna rehearse--no, how’re we gonna PLAY THE SHOW!?

T: I got a repairman working on it. That’s why I was out--to pick up the part he needs.

777: Great! Then we’re ready to rock.

T: Huh?

777: You got the part, right?

T: Umm… Define "got"…

777: You nimrod! Go get the part. Move it.

T: Right away! *leaves*

S: Uh-oh… More trouble?

777: Hey! Domo arigato for findin’ the tech!

S: You’re welcome, but… Something wrong?

777: Yeah, sounds like our lightings on the fritz. The guy just went hunting for a replacement part. Nngh… I’ve been shouting all day long. My throat’s killing me.

S: Guess we’re gonna be in the dark a while longer.

N: Think the tech’s got it covered?

S: …Maybe we should check on him.

R: Want past this wall? Then beat two of these--where I can see ya.

*battle*

R: …… Objective met. Wall clear!

*exit A-East*

S: Hey, look! It’s Beat and Rhyme. Let’s go say hi!

N: …… (Why? We’re not at a party. What a pain in the rrgh…)

*move to Rhyme & Beat*

S: Beat! Rhyme!

B: Heh. Talk about crap for luck, yo. Here comes Phones.

R: Gathered any intel for the mission?

S: No, not at all. But I know we’ll get through it! We just have to take out the master of A-East, right?

R: But then what’s this meme for?

S: "Meme"? What’s a "meme"?

B: ……

R: I think Shiki could use our help. We can tell her, right?

B: Well…aight. But only ‘cause it’s Shiki.

*Memes*

S: So what’s a "meme"?

R: Memes are words or ideas related to the missions. Whenever we see or hear one, it gets sent to our phones. My phone has the word blackout.

S: Blackout? Huh? I just got mail… You’re right. It showed up on my phone. But what do memes do?

R: They’re for imprinting.

*imprinting*

S: So memes are for imprinting.

N: Meaning…what?

R: Oh. Imprinting’s one of the Player Pin’s powers. You can use it to send words into other people’s heads.

N: (This pin can do that? )

*Today’s mission*

S: What’s your take on today’s mission?

R: You mean, "defeat the master of A-East"?

S: We were there. It’s pitch black. You can’t see a thing.

R: Pitch black? Hmm… That might explain the meme… Oh yeah! When you imprint--

B: Yo, forget it, Rhyme. Don’t bother. Phones don’t trust us anyway.

R: Beat, don’t be like that. A problem shared is a problem halved, right? If we don’t help each other out, we’ll all… We might…

S: Ahh! No, no! There’s nothing to worry about.

B: C’mon, Rhyme. Le’s bounce. *they leave*

S: Hmm… Beat’s still mad… I wish we could patch things up.

N: (Why? Just leave him alone. Quit worrying about everybody else.)

S: Well, at least we know how to imprint memes now. That was nice of Rhyme to tell us.

N: But what’s the point?

S: Well, umm…

Business Man: Ahh… What should I do? Considering the circumstances… But…no…that won’t do.

N: What’s tearing that guy up?

S: It looks like he can’t make up his mind. Hey! Neku, why don’t we try imprinting on him? Then we’ll know what it does.

N: OK… Why not? Let’s give it a shot.

BM: Ahh…What should I do? Considering the circumstances… But…no…that won’t do.

*imprint Blackout*

BM: …Blackout? A blackout… That’s right! First… I need to, uh…power down. I think. Yeah. First… I gotta…power down…and then, uh… What next? Aww, hell.

N: Is that guy gonna be OK?

S: Well, we know how it works now. We’ll work on finesse next time.

N: (Is this really gonna help?)

T: Man…What do I do? What was that part I need a replacement for? I can’t go back and ask now…

S: Hey, isn’t that the tech?

N: Yup. Full of fail, as usual.

S: Neku!

N: I know. I’ll try imprinting.

T: Man… This sucks. What was that part I need a replacement for? I can’t go back and ask now…

*imprint Blackout*

T: (Blackout…?) Oh yeah! I gotta fix the lighting. And to do that… I need something… And I was heading to Dogenzaka to pick it up. Hmm… Something… WHAT something? Sigh… The guy would know. Maybe I should head back. But… 777 stands between me and him. If I go back without the part, I’m dead. Dammit. I wish someone could ask for me.

N: The guy? Was there somebody by the stage?

*run back to A-East & scan guy in concert arena*

N: …A fuse? Is that what the tech’s after?

*go back to tech & imprint fuse*

T: (…Fuse?) The fuse! I have to fix the lights. And I need a new fuse to do it! Whew, what a relief. ……Crap! I gotta book it! I have to hurry!

N: And away he goes.

S: Maybe he’ll buy the part now. Or maybe he won’t… We’d better follow him.

*head to Dogenzaka*

S: Look! He just went inside.

N: Let’s move.

*enter cosmic corner*

T: Thank you! You saved my life! I’ll never forget this! *leaves*

S: Whew! He finally bought what he needs.

N: Now maybe we can get some light.

S: We should head back, too. *leaves*

*head back to A-East*

777: Quit playing around!

T: Wait, wait-- I got the part!

777: Damn right you do! Now fix the lights!

T: Eep!

S: That should do it!

N: Finally we can see inside.

S: Yeah. C’mon!

*enter arena*

T: What’s the story?

Other Tech: This should about do it…

T: All fixed?

OT: Yup! Try flipping the breaker.

T: OK! Here goes!

OT: Hmm? No good…The power blew again.

T: What!? Why? I thought you fixed it!

N: What’s wrong now?

S: I dunno… Maybe the fuse wasn’t the problem.

N: Wait! Something’s in here!

S: Huh!?

N: It’s coming! Get ready!

*battle*

S: Geez! Talk about a heart attack! But…that was the master, right?

N: Nope! Clock’s still ticking!

S: You’re kidding! Then…where’s the master!?

N: No! We’re out of time!

B: Don’t drop the ball now, yo! Here’s your "master"!

*cutscene*

S: Beat! Rhyme!

B: Yo, looks like we made it.

R: Yup! The timer’s gone now. Mission complete.

S: But…I’m so confused…

OT: Huh? It’s fixed!

T: You sure?

OT: Uh-huh. The lights should work now.

T: OK, I’m gonna go tell the others!

N: Looks like they’re in business.

R: This place is gonna fill right up. We should step outside for now.

S: Oh, so taking out the giant bat wasn’t enough! Whoops. Good thing you two came along. We owe you!

B: Man… You two shoulda gathered more info, yo. I’m talkin’ to you, Phones!

R: Hee hee…

B: What, Rhyme?

R: Stop trying to act tough, Beat. We didn’t have all the info, either! You wouldn’t have found the little golden bat if it wasn’t for them. Know why?

N: Let me guess. We had to beat the big golden bat first.

B: Bwaaah! Yeah… You act like you got the answers now, but you was freakin’ out before!

R: So were you, Beat.

B: Bwaaah! Whose side you on, yo?

S: Ha ha ha!

R: Hee hee.

B: Least I got the job done, aight?

N: …Heh.

B: Hey, I heard that, yo! Who said YOU could laugh at me?

S: Look. The concert’s starting. Wait…

B: ‘Sup now?

S: How come we were able to talk to him? You know, 777.

N: ‘Cause he’s a Reaper.

S: WHAT!?

N: Mr. Hanekoma explained all this. Did you forget?

*flashback*

Mr. H: Now listen up. This Shibuya ain’t your Shibuya. It’s the Composer’s Shibuya, which the Reapers use to run the Game. No matter what happens, people won’t see you, won’t hear you--and they definitely won’t help you. Your partner’s the only one who can keep you alive. So we’re basically invisible?

Mr. H: Only those involved in the Game can see you.

S: So…the Players, the Reapers, and…you?

Mr. H: Right.

N: Why am I even in this stupid game?

Mr. H: All Players come from the RG to the UG for a common reason. And each must forfeit the one thing they value most as an entry fee.

N: What we value most?

S: Do we get it back?

Mr. H: If you win.

N: …And if we don’t?

Mr. H: You lose your entry fee forever. And--well, your right to exist.

*back to present*

S: That’s right… He mentioned only Reapers and other Players can see us. So we’re on our own.

N: ……

R: You think… You think we’ll make it?

N: We’ll make it. No matter what!

B: Heh. Think you can deliver, Phones?

S: Hey, you know…we really do make a good team. Starting tomorrow, what do you say we work together? We only survived today because of teamwork.

R: I agree! And what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.

B: If Rhyme’s down it, then so am I.

S: No objections, Neku?

N: (How can I object? I still don’t know anything about the UG… Or about myself…or the Reapers… All I do know is that these guys aren’t my enemies.)

S: Hey, Neku. Remember what Mr. Hanekoma said.

N: ("Trust your partner." I remember. And now I see why. What else can I trust? Especially in a backwards Shibuya like this.) Just don’t drag me down.

S: Yay! That settles it. Here’s to teamwork!

*in Reaper hangout*

 

Konishi: Today six Players were erased, sir.

Meg: Six? My, my…

K: That puts us at the 50% erased mark, one full day earlier than expected.

M: Higashizawa’s doing nicely, then.

K: Yes, sir. That concludes today’s report. We have our regular meeting tomorrow. Same time as always, sir.

M: Right. Good work. Heh…

K: Is something amiss, sir?

M: No, no… It’s just-- I have a feeling that tomorrow’s Game will be very entertaining.

*end of Day 3, Week 1*

K: Tick, tock, Minamoto. You’re 9 minutes and 42 seconds late.

Minamimoto: Tick, tock, yourself, Konishi. Why are we even here? I can think of a decillion better ways to spend our time…than by having MEETINGS. Right, Megs?

K: You will address him as "Mr. Kitaniji."

Meg: It’s fine. Are we all here?

M: Hey, Megs-- Who’s the bulldozer?

Meg: Meet Higashizawa--this session’s Game Master. He’ll be handling my affairs in my stead.

Higashizawa: You do me a great honor, sir. Watch! I will turn this week’s fracas into a fricassee!

M: You planning to erase them, or EAT them?

Meg: Yes, crack your jokes. But his skill is proven.

K: That’s right. Higashizawa excels--in tactics, intel, willpower, decisiveness, performance, his Player erasure rate… He surpasses our expectations on every count. A man of sound judgment like Mr. Kitaniji would not choose him otherwise. And he knows how to cooperate unlike some--

M: Cooperation is garbage. Anyway, I’m out. This is subtracting from my arts and crafts time. *leaves*

K: Wait just a-- Mr. Kitaniji hasn’t spoken yet!

Meg: Let him do what he wants.

K: Yes, sir…

Meg: Now, then…Higashizawa. You’re doing very well.

H: Thank you, sir! Over half the Players have been erased. The plates have been licked… Dessert is imminent.

Meg: Excellent. I look forward to it. I spoke to the Composer about your promotion. We are in agreement.

H: Thank you very much, sir.

M: I feel you are ready…but, I have one condition.

H: What, sir? Name it.

Meg: I expect you, as my proxy in the Game, to leave no Player unerased.

H: Fear not, sir. The proof is in the pudding. The pudding…of their doom.

*back to Shiki and Neku*

N: Yawwwn… Where am I now?

S: Hey, you awake?

N: What are you doing?

S: Just people-watching. I mean, look at them all… Shibuya’s so diverse. And everybody’s got their own story.

N: (Shibuya sucks. Who needs a town with this many people? All they do is get in the way and screech at each other. They’re the REAL Noise. Wish I had a giant Mute button.)

B: But yo, you ever try scanning ‘em all? It’s like havin’ the radio on every channel at once.

R: Yeah… Like everybody’s values are all trying to come in the loudest. No other town compares.

S: Shibuya’s a battlefield.

N: (Yeah…It is kinda like that. A clash of creeds.)

B: But man… All these people, and they can’t even see us, yo.

R: Yeah… Makes you sad, huh?

N: (Sad!? I’m thankful. Nobody sees me. Nobody bothers me. And nobody expects anything of me. This is like a dream. Once I survive the seven days, does the dream end? ……)

B: Mission time, yo!

S: Nothing the four of us can’t handle!

R: Yeah!

B: "Reach Towa Records. No time limit. Fail, and face erasure.--The Reapers"

S: Huh? No time limit? But…that’s waaay simple!

R: Towa Records is a ten-minute walk. Why wouldn’t they set a time limit?

B: So we’re just walkin’ a couple blocks? Man. I was pumped for a brawl, yo!

N: Guess we don’t need to team up.

R: ……

N: (But this is too weird. Hundred yen says they’ve got something else up their sleeves. )

B: Yo, hold up! I jus’ got a great idea!

*focus switches to Kariya & Uzuki*

U: Like, what gives, Kariya!? Who made today’s mission for ages 3 and up!?

K: Aight, easy, girl. Deep breaths. Stress is bad for your complexion.

U: Well, excuse me! Easy missions make me furious! Ugh. I need to go destroy some Players--

K: Whoa, let’s think about this. Put yourself in the Players’ shoes. You’ve made it to Day 4, the mission’s a breeze… What are you going to think?

U: Hmph… Point taken. Guess the boss thought it through.

K: ‘Sides… Days off are like love letters from the higher-ups. We can’t go full blast all week. We’d never make it.

U: Please. Since when does your dial even GO to full blast?

K: Details. Anyway, we’ve got our own orders straight from the boss.

U: All right… You win. Let’s see how this plays out.

*back to Neku & co*

S: So what’s your great idea?

B: How ‘bout you two race us two, and we see who gets to Towa Records first?

N: Whaaat?

B: C’mon, Rhyme, le’s book it!

R: Wha…huh!? Wait, Beat!

S: Heh heh… Beat’s got a lot of energy, huh?

R: Yeah. He keeps me on the ball. Sometimes he can get a little crazy, though. Beat’s the one who asked me to be his partner.

S: Wow, so you-- Omigosh. Rhyme, is that what I think it is?

R: Huh? What?

S: That pendant! Where did you find one?

R: Oh, this? Yeah, I heard they sold out quick. How’d you know about it?

S: I saw it in a magazine. I looove following the latest clothes and accessories. Lucky…I wanted one sooo bad.

R: I’m sorry I can’t give you mine. But it was a present from my brother.

S: You’ve got a brother?

R: Yeah. Older. He’s really nice. Hope he’s OK…

S: Oh, I’m sure he’s doing great. And you’ll see him soon!

R: Yeah… I hope so. So you’re into fashion?

S: Totally! I want to be a designer. I love making clothes. But right now it’s just a hobby.

R: I still think it’s pretty cool. It must be nice to have a dream-- to be head over heels about something. I don’t know what it’s like. Not really.

S: Why not? You don’t have any dreams?

R: No… But when I look at Beat I think: keep moving forward. Because someday my dream will find me.

S: Yeah.

R: Beat’s really good at skateboarding. He says his dream is to be the world’s greatest skater. If he can do it, then so can I. Right, Shik--

B: YO, RHYME! Whatchu doin’? Move it! We don’t want Phones to win!

R: Just a minute, Beat! Patience is a virtue! Well, I’d better go. See you at Towa Records!

S: Whoa! Beat’s just a speck now. Rhyme must have a rough time keeping up.

N: (I’ll say.)

S: So, um, shouldn’t we hurry?

N: I never agreed to race. If he wants to run, good for him.

S: Then we can slow down for a bit?

N: Sure, why not? There’s no time limit, and those two have got a head start.

S: So…we can take a little side trip?

N: Where are you going with this?

S: Mind if we stop at Ten-Four?

S: …I guess not.

S: Really? Thanks!

*enter 104*

N: Ugh… It’s a zoo in here. Are they having a sale or what?

S: No, silly. Ten-Four’s always like this. Ah! Omigosh! That outfit!

N: Is that the line--

S: You don’t know how badly me and Eri--…… Sorry…Me and my friend used to come here.

N: (…Friend? The girl on her phone?)

Random fan girls: IT’S HEEEEEEM!

N: Noise!?

S: Hey…Over there!

Girl 1: The prince looks sooo hot! I gotta snap a photo with my phone!

N: Oh. Not Noise…Just noisy. Who is that guy?

S: Eiji Oji. The Prince of Ennui? He’s the latest superstar. People love his don’t-give-damn attitude. His blog "F everything," gets 100,000 hits a day!

N: "F Everything"? What kind of blog is that?

Prince: Hmm? You, young man!

S: Huh?

P: What are you doing in Ten-Four if you can’t even coordinate an outfit? Have you no sense of Shibuya’s trends?

N: (Who the… Sigh.) Trends?

S: Yeah, you know. Like what brands are hot?

P: Ah, the blessed voice of wisdom. At least one of you knows how to dress.

S: I have to! Shibuya is every girl’s war zone.

N: Good thing I’m not a girl…

P: You should know a trendy outfit can turn a pigsty into the loveliest of gardens. But you, in that outfit? It’s like wrapping the rose of youth into a spicy tuna roll. *leaves*

N: (Arrogant snob. I am not…a…a spicy tuna roll!)

S: He’s right, Neku. As long as we’re here--

N: Oh, no. Count me out. I don’t care about trends. I wear what I want to wear.

S: Ugh, no, you can’t do that! They call it a fashion statement for a reason! How you dress sends a clear message.

N: (Then I wish I had more zippers…so I could tell you to ZIP IT.)

S: Look, you’ve got potential. You could be sooo much cooler. And I KNOW fashion. C’mon, it’s so easy to be trendy.

N:……

S: Well, I’m not going to force you. But your clothes… They’re, um… ……Not, like, bad, but… ……

N: WHAT?

S: Ahh! Nothing, nothing! Just forget I brought it up. ……

N: (Suddenly, I feel naked.)

*trends*

N: So what’s so great about trends?

S: Oh! Changed your mind?

N: ‘Course not. I’m just asking.

S: Well, Shibuya’s kind of unique. Trends here change really quickly. And they change YOU, and the people around you. So it’s better for you if you can stay in control of them.

N: Better how?

*I’m already cool*

N: I don’t need help being cool.

S: I know what I’m doing, Neku. I’ve been studying fashion bit by bit, so I can be a designer one day.

N: No kidding.

S: I’ve always liked to sew. I started with little things like stuffed animals.

N: So the one you’re always carting around--you made that?

S: Yup. The clothes I’ve got on, too.

N: Seriously!? Wow. They look like what you’d buy in a store.

S: Heh, thanks. But the clothes, I just sewed them. Eri did the design. She’s the amazing one.

N: (Eri? Oh. The girl from her phone.)

S: I still have a lot to learn. But one day…

*stuffed animal*

N: So that stuffed animal is your creation.

S: I…I made him a long time ago, so he’s not very good.

N: Why do you still have it? Stuffed animals are for kids.

S: Shut up! This is my psych! How else am I gonna fight off the Noise?

N: That…is your psych? You mean…you use that piggy as a weapon?

S: He’s not a pig! He’s a cat! Mr. Mew the cat!

N: "Mr. Mew"? (How is she? Three?)

S: Look, I only know how to use tele…whatever.

N: Telekinesis? OK, but why a stuffed animal? Couldn’t you pick something more powerful? Like a knife or a…a lead pipe or something?

S: I tried. But Mr. Mew was the only thing that worked. Besides, I’m not really moving him. He just sort of does his own thing.

N: Umm… That’s not telekinesis.

S: Hmm… I guess not.

N: (The pig moves on its own? What if it’s possessed--waiting to pork-chop us in the back of the head?)

S: I know he turned out awful, but…without him, I never would’ve started sewing for real.

*future ambitions*

N: So, a fashion designer, huh?

S: Yup! I want to make clothes for a living. Nice clothes make people happy. And that makes me happy, too.

N: (Hmph. She’s got her whole future planned out. Never woulda thought.) So that’s why you’re so picky about clothes.

S: Heh heh, I try. But I still have a ways to go. There’s so much to learn.

N: Cool. (I didn’t give her enough credit. She’s got a dream. That’s more than I can say.)

*do some shopping*

S: Pay attention to the trends from now on, Neku.

N: ……

S: OK, let’s head to Towa Records. Beat and Rhyme are probably waiting.

*back to scramble crossing, complete Reaper’s request*

S: Ahh, enough! Just looking at you makes me cringe!

N: What did I do!? (What’s gotten into her?)

S: It’s coming loose.

N: Umm… (What, your grip on reality?)

S: Neku… That button on your shorts.

N: Oh, yeah. What does it matt--

S: It matters! I can’t stand things like that!

N: Who care’s? It’s just a button.

S: Off.

N: What?

S: Your shorts. Take them off! I’ll fix the button.

N: Are you high!? I’m not taking my pants off in front of you--in the middle of the street!

S: Oh, grow up. What, are you going commando? You’re invisible! No one’s watching.

N: YOU’RE watching!

S: Now! Pants! Off!

N: Doooooon’t!!!

*flash*

S: There. All done! Whew, I feel much better. Loose buttons drive me nuts.

N: That was…fast… You always carry around a needle and thread?

S: Of course. They come in handy. Plus I enjoy sewing. If you need anything else mended, just say the word!

N: …… (Will I have to strip again? …… I’d better take care of my clothes…)

*talk to Makoto & girl*

Girl: How’s work going, Makoto?

Makoto: Bad. The boss wants me to promote some new pins. But how? I don’t know anything about pins.

G: Sounds rough.

M: Yeah. I’ve been trying to study up. Like, people use pins to play Tin Pin Slammer, right? So I’m thinking of hitting the slam-off at Molco next week. To pick up the lingo, you know? But tickets are completely sold out.

G: The Tin Pin slam-off, huh… If you had a ticket, you’d go?

M: Uh-huh.

G: Hmm…

Ai: Huh? Isn’t that… ……*leaves*

*clear Reaper’s demands*

S: Oh, hey! There’s Beat and Rhyme.

B: The hell you been, yo? This is a race! Ain’t you even tryin’?

N: Nope. You’re on your own there.

B: Ain’t you angry you lost? Don’t you wanna WIN?

N: Don’t YOU? Why did you wait for us?

B: We… We was just…

R: Hee hee… Beat said we should let you catch up.

B: Bwaaah! Yo, Rhyme, can it!

S: Aww, Beat’s a big softy underneath!

B: Shh…Shiki! Not you, too! I…I just wanted to see Phones squirm, tha’s all. Now le’s get this mission over with. We got here first, so we win. Eat that, slowpokes.

N: Uh-huh. Consider it eaten.

B: Heh heh! C’mon, Rhyme. Le’s bounce!

R: W-wait, Beat! You’re going to trip if you don’t slow down!

S: She’s so lucky to have her best friend as a partner.

N: Guess you should’ve teamed up with that friend in your picture. (Would’ve saved me a lot of grief.)

S: But… I couldn’t… We’re… …… Come on. We should go.

*cutscene*

S: Wh-wh-what just happened!?

Koki: Awww! There’s goes my erase streak. He was suppose to be number 16.

N: Reapers?

K: Bingo! I’m Koki Kariya. And this is Uzuki Yashiro. There. Now that we’re all friends---

B: Hey! What did you do with Rhyme?

U: Um…hello? You just saw. She’s gone. Erased. Noise food. Game over.

K: Her soul’s just another speck of Shibuya space dust.

S: No…Rhymes gone…for good?

B: You… You did this!?

U: Yeah. But, like, so what? That’s our JOB. Boss said set a trap, so we did.

B: Your job? Screw your job! Murderers! You… You erased Rhyme! Give her back, yo, or you’ll pay!

K: Ooh, scary. Go on, Skulls. Be the star of your little soap opera. But Skulls, Jr. isn’t gone because of us. She’s gone because of you. You failed to protect your partner. So face reality. We hunt Players down. You KNEW that.

B: I-I didn’t--

K: Well, Skulls, Jr. knew. That’s why she protected you. Gave her life for you.

B: Rhyme is gone…because of me?

U: Awww… Boo hoo. But don’t worry. You won’t suffer for long, hee hee!

B: Noise!? You punks can make Noise?

K: Bingo! All you need is some Soul and a pin to bind it to.

U: We’d looove to take you on ourselves, but attacking Players directly is against the rules. So we make Noise instead.

K: So! Our work here is done… Time to call it a day.

U: Buh-bye. Nice knowing you. *leaves*

K: Oh, yeah. One last thing, Skulls. You want payback? Then man up, huh? *leaves*

B: HEY!!! Get back here you son of a… Dontchu run from me! Dontchu run, yo… Don’t…

N: Hey, we gotta get rid of this Noise.

S: Yeah. Otherwise…

N: Start with the smaller Noise!

*battle*

N: There. That just leaves the big one.

S: Right!

B: Dontchu touch it, yo.

S: Huh?

B: This one’s mine. This bastard took Rhyme from me. Get in my way and I’ll knock you right outta here!

Mr. H: Don’t be stupid!

N: Who-who’s there?

Mr. H: You’re down a partner. How you think you’re gonna take on the Noise?

B: Like I care! Butt out, yo! I gotta avenge Rhyme!

Mr. H: You mean waste her sacrifice! You’re powerless. Accept it! Rhyme left you a precious gift. Your life! A Player can only live for seven minutes after their partner is erased. Which leaves you with less than three. Thank about why she saved you.

B: Rrgh… My life’s over anyway. You jus’ said so.

Mr. H: There’s a way to keep you alive. But you have to come with me. Now!

B: Why should I live when she can’t, yo?

S: Beat, go with him. Rhyme would want it that way.

B: But--

N: We’ll handle this.

S: She was our friend, too.

B: Ahhhhhh….

Mr. H: Listen. You may be alone. But there’s still a role that only you can play. I’ll tell you what that is, but you have to live!

B: Grrraaaaaah!!! …Fine. But you better kill that bastard dead. Avenge Rhyme!

*battle*

S: Well…We’re alone again. Think Beat’ll be OK?

N: Mr. Hanekoma’s with him. He’s fine.

S: But…he only had three minutes to live.

N: So what were we supposed to do?

S: I don’t know… Why couldn’t we save Rhyme?

N: Because we couldn’t. That’s how it was meant to be.

S: How can you just write her off like that!? Don’t you care? Aren’t you SAD!? We could have done something!

N: Yeah? Like what? (Dammit…I feel like crap. This is just like that time… That time? What time? …… I can’t remember.) …You see? See why teaming up is a dumb idea?

S: How dare you! You think NOT teaming up would have saved her? How can you be so COLD? Beat and Rhyme were our friends! What happened to her… We’re all responsible! It was our fault, too…

N: Then who needs ‘em.

S: Huh?

N: Who needs friends! They laugh and talk like idiots and pretend to agree with you--so you end up caring about them…exposing yourself…getting HURT… Screw it! We’re better off without them! You want people in your way? Dragging you down? I don’t! And I never said we were friends. You did!

S: Neku! I am your friend. So is Rhyme--

N: Back off! No one’s my friend. Least of all you. I just stay with you to survive.

S: Neku…How c-could you… You didn’t feel anything when Rhyme was erased? Not even a little sad? That’s inhuman… You’re inhuman, Neku. No better than those Reapers!

*end of day 4, week 1*

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Chapter 1: Shiki (Day 1 to Day 2)

Jun. 1st, 2008 | 04:37 pm

Neku: Outta my face. You’re blocking my view. Shut up!!! Stop talking. Just go the hell away! All the world needs is me…I got my values; so you can keep yours, alright? I don’t get people. Never have, never will.

*wakes up in Scramble Crossing*

N: What the… I can hear voices in my head! What just happened? And where’d this pin come from? Hmm… Wonder if there’s a connection.

*Neku scans the area*

N: Voices! Definitely voices! But why? Am I hearing people’s thoughts!? What the hell IS this pin? *beep from cell phone* Huh? Whose phone? Mine? "Reach 104. You have 60 minutes. Fail, and face erasure.--The Reapers." Oh, that’s cute. See ya, spam. Deleted. *beep* Huh? Still there… It’s like junk mal from hell. *Neku flinches* Oww! My hand…Huh? What? F…frog!? *flinch* Oww! What the… They attacked me! What do they want with me? D-down froggie…

*Neku battles with frogs*

N: …Ungh! What the hell is going on!? Somebody! Help! Hey… Everybody stop ignoring me! What is this place… *flinch* Crap! I gotta run!

*The World Ends With You into movie/credits*

Kariya: Man, here we go again…

Uzuki: Stop whining. We haven’t had work in, like, forever.

K: Exactly. It feels like the Monday after vacation.

U: You’d prefer a permanent vacation? Day 1 has the most Players. Now’s our chance to rack up some points! How else you gonna make up for last month?

K: Aight, aight…One week won’t kill me. Probably. Hey, while we’re at it… How ‘bout we play a little game?

U: A gaaame?

K: Yeah, so it doesn’t feel so much like work. C’mon, you love it.

U: Oh, yeah. You know me. All right. What’s the game?

K: How ‘bout Reaper Sport 3, a Player hunt? Let’s see who bags the most Players during today’s mission.

U: Are you joking? That’s no fun at all!

K: You don’t like it?

U: But I’m gonna crush you! There’s no contest.

K: Ohh, zing. Now I actually have to try. You know the drill. Loser buys winner a hot bowl of ramen.

*back to Neku*

N: Huff, huff… Should be…safe…here… *hit by another frog* Rrgh… Freakin’ frogs! Just leave me alone! I didn’t do anything to you!

*People emit screams as they’re erased*

N: Whoa! They vanished! Why are people disappearing!? What’s happening… Why am I even here? What the hell! *hit by frogs* They’re gonna get me…

Shiki: Found one!

N: Huh?

S: You! Forge a pact with me!

N: Uhh… I’ve kinda got my hands full…

S: Listen! If we forge a pact, we can beat the Noise!

N: Who cares about a little noise?

S: You wanna be erased? Hurry up! There’s no time! Make a pact with me! Please!

N: A--all right! I accept.

*fusion sequence*

N: What’s with the lights show?

S: Here! Use this pin!

N: But…the funny lights…

S: I’ll explain later! Right now we have to stop the Noise!

N: Uhh…OK?

S: Get ready!

*fight*

N: That fire…I did that!?

S: Whoa! You can use the pin? You must be really good at psychs. Guess I found the right partner, huh?

N: That’s what you call those flames? A psych?

S: Yup! And now that we’ve made a pact, the Noise won’t come after us!

N: In other words, we’re safe.

S: Right. See? All gone.

N: All gone. So…What are Noise?

S: They’re the monsters we just fought. Duh.

N: (Monsters? Uh, sure… And psychs? Is that what this pin is for?)

S: Anyway, where are my manners? My name’s Shiki Misaki. Call me Shiki.

N: I call this wack.

S: We’ve got a long week ahead of us!

N: A week? A week of what?

S: The Reapers’ Game is seven days long, right?

N: (Reapers? Excuse me? Who is this flake?)

S: So what’s your name?

N: (Forget her… Where am I? How did I get here?)

S: C’mon, tell me your name.

N: (The sign says "Shibuya Station"… Why am I in Shibuya?)

S: Something wrong?

N: (Wait… The intersection. I need to retrace my steps.) *leaves*

S: Hey, whoa… Wait for me!!!

*at Scramble Crossing*

N: Why are you following me!?

S: Why are you making yourself so hard to follow?

N: Screw you. I go where I want.

S: Go where? We’re trapped in here!

N: What? Don’t be stupid.

S: You’re the one being stupid. We made a pact. We’re supposed to stick together! You can’t beat Noise alone. You can’t survive!

N: Survive what?

S: The Game! Don’t you wanna win?

N: Pfft. Play games on your own time.

S: Hey! That’s not funny! They’ll erase us if we don’t win! You saw what happened to those people! You wanna join them? Besides, we’re partners. Partners work together.

N: No way! Don’t make me a part of this.

S: You’re already a part of this. You’re a Player, just like me.

N: A what? I’m not playing anything.

S: Oh yeah? Then why do you have a Player Pin? Don’t you have a timer on your hand? I do…

N: *looks at hand* What. The. Hell.

S: See, you’re part of the Reapers’ Game, too.

N: ……

S: We don’t have time for this! The clock’s ticking! We’ve only got 20 minutes! Let’s hurry to Ten-Four!

N: "Ten-Four"? What’s that?

S: Ten-Four! 104? You got the mail, right? "Reach 104 or face erasure."

N: (That junk mail…Please. What kind of nut would believe that? Then again… This day has been pretty weird. And she’s gonna follow me anyway. …… May as well go alone and try to figure this out.) All right, you win. Lead the way.

S: Good. Now, for the last time… Tell me your name.

N: …… Neku. Neku Sakuraba.

S: Neku, huh? Cute name.

N: (Shut up.)

S: All right, Neku. Let’s go over to 104!

*runs into invisible wall*

N: Oww! It’s blocked! There’s no way past!

S: We can’t get through!? But this is the way to Ten-Four!

N: …… (Why do I feel like I’m being watched? That guy over there. What’s he staring at?)

*off in the distance*

Reaper: Pact confirmed.

*back to Neku and Shiki*

S: What are we gonna do about this wall? Huh? Neku! It’s open.

N: What’s up with that?

S: No idea. A lucky break, I guess! C’mon, we gotta keep moving.

N: (Something about that guy in red… Huh? Where’d he go? Weird.)

*at 104*

S: Made it!

N: The timer vanished!

S: Whew! Mission complete.

Uzuki: *out of view* Pfft. Big Deal.

N: What!?

U: Only an idiot would screw up on Day 1.

N: Who’s there!?

S: Oh, no… A Reaper?

N: Reaper…

U: You two are gonna get erased sooner or later. So come on. Help a girl out and earn me a few extra points, ‘K?

N: Those monsters again…

S: Neku, you know how to fight now, right? This time focus your thoughts on me!

N: What? Fight your own battles!

S: Please! To stop the Noise!

N: …Fine. Come on!

*fight*

S: Good! Now we can fight together! We can beat the Noise faster as a team! Let’s do this!

*fight*

N: Is it over?

S: Not yet, Neku! Over there!

N: (Whew… This one looks though. …Like I’ve got a choice.) Hey! Stalker!

S: I’m not a stalker!

N: Whatever. Just… Don’t mess this up!

S: I…I won’t!

*fight*

S: Whew… We did it… But you heard her… Day 1 is nothing. What if the missions only get harder? We’ve got six more days… Are we gonna make it? I… I don’t want to be erased.

N: (I can’t believe this… Why am I stuck here? What if I’m erased? What the hell kind of game is this? This can’t be right. Gaaah! I’m really stuck here? In Shibuya!?)

*end of Day 1, Week 1*

N: Nngh…Where am I now?

S: …I hope this works out.

N: Hey!

S: Aaack! Don’t scare me like that!

N: (Grow up. You’re obnoxious…)

S: Umm…Is something wrong?

N: Where are we?

S: Isn’t this the underpass by the station? I can hear the trains.

N: (That’s weird. How’d we get here?)

*beep*

S: There’s the mission! "Set the cursed sculpture free. You have 60 minutes. Fail, and face erasure.--The Reapers."

*both flinch*

N & S: Oww!

N: Timer’s back. What’s it for?

S: The mission. …You really don’t know? If we don’t clear the mission before the timer hits zero, we’ll both be erased!

N: (Sounds crazy to me. But…maybe not that crazy. I saw it happen to those people by the station. And met a Reaper. …I can’t believe I’m even entertaining that thought. But I know what I heard. …Wait.) Why’d the date change on my phone?

S: A day must have gone by.

N: What!?

S: I think we fell asleep after the mission. But that’s OK. We need to focus on today!

N: (Have you lost your MIND? It’s anything but OK! We were in the middle of a street, in broad daylight! Why would we fall asleep!?)

S: So…this "cursed sculpture"--it’s gotta be talking about the statue of Hachiko.

N: (Maybe we passed out. And then…woke up here? Everything between is a blank.)

S: But then what’s the curse? …Neku?

N: (Did somebody drag us here? Or--)

S: C’mon, Neku, pay attention!

N: ……

S: Hey! What, now you’re ignoring me? If we don’t work together, we’ll fail the mission!

N: ……

S: You don’t have to be like this. Sigh… What am I doing wrong? …… All right! No point in standing here. Let’s go find Hachiko.

*hits wall*

N: Oww!

S: What? Another wall!?

N: (So now we’re trapped in here.)

S: No… We’ll never finish the mission now.

N: (All she ever does is whine…) …Why not?

S: Because this is the way to Hachiko.

N: (Then we have to get through. We got past the wall yesterday. Is there some kind of rule?)

S: What should we do?

N: ……

S: Don’t just stand there. Think of something!

N: (I AM thinking. Maybe if for just one minute you could stop your bi--Huh?)

S: Neku, what is it?

N: (That guy in the red hoodie. I’ve seen him before.)

S: Neku. What are you looking at? That guy… You know him?

N: (I remember… He was at the crossing yesterday, by the wall. Who is he? I’m gonna try reading his mind.) *scans* Hmph.

S: What is it?

N: I can’t read him.

S: What!? You can’t scan him?

N: (I had no trouble scanning people yesterday. Maybe the rules changed? Or maybe the pin is broken.)

S: Can we finish the mission without being able to scan?

N: (Hmm… What if it’s just him? Maybe he’s special.)

S: Neku!

N: (Ugh…) What now!?

S: That guy is coming right towards us!

Reaper: You. Scan and erase all the Noise in this area.

S: I don’t see any Noise!

R: The world is more than just what you see.

S: He left. What a creepy guy.

N: (I don’t know what his deal is… But he’s part of the Game, that’s for sure. Which can only mean one thing. Interesting… His kind can’t be scanned? …… "The world is more than just what you see." So to find the Noise…) Hey. Let’s get rid of the noise.

S: How? They’re not here!

N: Yes they are. We have to scan for them.

S: You think? All right! Let’s try it. But first… I meant to ask you. Shouldn’t you try some other pins? You’ve got more, right?

N: Pins?

S: Yeah! They should have given you a whole bunch.

N: (You’re right… In my pocket.)

S: Why not test them out?

N: How?

S: Remember the flame pin yesterday?

N: This one?

S: Well, I wasn’t able to use it. So maybe--

N: I get it. Only certain pins work for certain people. I’ve got to try them all and see. (…Talk about a hassle. All right, let’s see what I can do.)

*fight*

S: You were right. We have to scan to see the Noise.

N: (That takes care of them all.)

R: Objective met.

S: But what about the wall? It’s still-- Huh!? It’s gone! Why?

N: Because we took out the Noise.

S: So that’s the trick to getting past the walls. But…that’s odd.

N: What’s odd?

S: I heard you can only beat the Noise in pairs. But I fought them alone.

N: Umm, me too…

S: I couldn’t see you while I was fighting.

R: That’s because he was in the other zone.

S: Huh?

R: The Noise exist simultaneously in two zones. And the only way to defeat them is by purging them from both.

S: Wait, but-- What is with that guy?

N: (He knows too much… He must be one of them.)

S: Well, any way…You did great.

N: What?

S: You were able to use all the pins!

N: So?

S: You’re like some sort of psych genius!

N: (Come on. Using a couple of pins doesn’t make anyone a genius. Don’t be naïve. The bigger question…is where these came from.)

S: Huh? Neku. You have two Player Pins.

N: So?

S: So why two? You only need one.

N: (How should I know? Why do I have any of them? I need them for psychs, so I can stop the Noise from killing me. But how’d I get ‘em?)

S: Well, umm… Two is better than one! So, like, don’t feel bad!

N: (You’re the one who said I only need one…)

S: Think how lucky I am! My partner’s a psych whiz. A genius! You’re a genius, Neku! I’d never make it without you!

N: (If you’re going to flatter someone…you could try to sound a little genuine.)

S: Neku, you listening?

N: ……

S: Stop that. I’m just trying to be nice.

N: I’m listening.

S: Well, how am I supposed to tell when you just stand there? You should take off those headphones. It’s rude.

N: Would you shut the hell up! I just met you. I don’t like you. And I don’t give a rat’s ass if you think I’m rude!

S: You don’t have to yell… What am I going to do? ……

N: (Now she’s playing with her phone? Forget this.) *leaves*

S: Hey! Wait up!

*they exit underpass*

S: Neku…Stop! Wait for me! Where are you going? I’m your partner!

Beat: …Gotchu punks now.

S: Wha-- Who’s there?

B: You got us good yesterday, but today I’ma crush you, yo!

S: Um… What? You’ve got the wrong person. Neku, you know this guy?

N: Don’t insult me.

B: Need a hint? Go ask your friends.

S: "Friends"? What are you talking about?

B: Shut up, yo! You ain’t foolin’ me! I can’t scan you. You gotta be widdem! You can’t outsmart me, yo.

S: Wait! Just--

Rhyme: Beat! Stop it! They’re not Reapers! They’re Players, just like us.

B: What?

R: See? They’ve got Player Pins. Players must not be able to scan each other. Remember? You couldn’t scan me either.

B: …… Oh. Yo, sorry I jumped to conclusions…

S: No worries. You just gave us a start.

B: Yesterday this pink-haired chick cornered us before we could get to 104. Then pinky sicked a buncha Noise on us… Messed us up bad, yo.

S: So that’s why you were out for payback.

B: Yup. …Hey, hold up. We should do introductions. The name’s Beat. And this is my…my partner, Rhyme.

R: Hello!

S: Hi! I’m Shiki. That over there’s Neku. He’s my partner.

N: ……

B: Wha’s with the phones? He still mad?

S: No…he’s just Neku. Don’t feel bad.

B: …Hey, I know! Lemme give you a tip to make up for jumpin’ yas. You figure out how to use your phone yet?

S: You mean our cell phones? Well…we don’t get any calls… Sending messages doesn’t work either. All we do is check the mission mail. Why? Do they do anything else?

R: We played around a bit and found some things--

B: Whoa, you mean you ain’t usin’ yours? You two gonna get owned down the road, yo!

S: Umm… I guess…

B: It’s cool! You two got questions, ask us. Gotta put our heads together, you feel me?

*info about Cell Phone using*

S: Thanks for all the info. ‘Specially about the phone! That’s gonna be a huge help.

R: Heh heh. Good! Always happy to help.

S: I feel ready to take on anything!

B: Yeah, well--you might not wanna say that. Rhyme’s thinkin’ things is gonna get tough. Yo, we should all work together!

R: They say two heads are better than one. And four has to be better than two!

S: Great idea! I am so in! It’ll be more fun that way. Right, Neku?

N: …Do what you want. I work alone.

S: What!? Neku, you can’t mean that!

N: Forget it. I can’t take one more minute of your nagging. I don’t need a bunch of strangers brining me down.

S: Neku! How can you say that?

N: (Don’t ask me. Maybe I’m just angry.)

S: We’re on your si--

N: I can’t scan you. You could be Players…or you could be Reapers. I have no way of knowing.

S: But the Player Pins!

N: That’s not enough.

B: Yo, Phones! What the hell’s your problem!? We just lookin’ out for you, and you treat us like this?

R: Don’t get angry, Beat… I can see where Neku’s coming from. I shouldn’t have opened my big mouth…

B: Aw, Rhyme… Rrgh… You piece a’DIRT! Screw you! We don’t want your help! Le’s bounce, Rhyme.

S: Wait, no! We’re sorry! … They left. Nice going, Neku! We should all stick together, and you know it!

N: Then why don’t you go with them?

S: Listen to yourself… We’re partners, Neku. But I don’t understand you! Let me in! Tell me what you’re thinking!

N: Let yourself in. You can scan me.

S: You know that’s impossible! Besides, we’re right here. Let’s just talk to each other--

N: And say what? I’m not opening up to anyone. Ever. Other people just hold me back. I can do things my own way.

S: N-Neku! Sigh… Tell me what I’m supposed to do…

*outside the station*

Reaper: …

N: Another guy in read. We must be headed towards a--

*hits wall*

S: Ouch! A wall.

N: (I knew it.)

S: So… We have to defeat some Noise, right?

N: (She is so SLOW! Do I have to do everything?) *leaves*

S: Neku! Where are you--

N: I know what you are.

R: My terms: lift the statue’s curse.

N: You’re a Reaper.

R: I don’t get paid to chitchat. Play the Game. *leaves*

N: (Hmph. That was a waste of time. Lift the statue’s curse, huh? That sounds just like the mission. But Hachiko is PAST the wall… Wait--)

S: Neku… Please, STOP walking off without me!

N: Hey.

S: Arrgh! My name is Shiki. Can you say "Shiki"?

N: Hey, I see another statue.

S: Oh yeah! The Moyai!

N: Like Easter Island? What’s a Moai doing here?

S: "Moyai"! With a Y! Never thought about where it came from…

N: Think it’s cursed?

S: I don’t know. It looks pretty normal to me.

N: Let’s find out.

*scan & battle*

R: Objective met.

S: So the Moyai was possessed by Noise…and we had to scan to find it.

N: (The guy in red… Yup. He’s gone. But we can probably get through now.)

S: we freed the cursed sculpture… Does that mean we cleared the mission?

N: No, that was just to cross the wall. See? My clock’s still ticking.

S: Yeah…mine too. Well, at least the wall’s gone.

N: Let’s go find this "Hachiko"… Our real target.

S: Neku… You talk like you’ve never heard of it.

N: Nope. What’s Hachiko?

S: WHAT!? How can you live in this country and not know Hachiko?

N: ……

S: Remember where we met yesterday? There’s a statue of a dog in the plaza. That’s Hachiko. Now, I have a question. How’d you figure out how to get past the wall?

N:……

S: Not again…

N:……

S:…… All Right! Fine. Let’s just head for Hachiko.

*in an unknown area*

Higashizawa: …… That young lady… She has just the ingredient I need.

*at Hachiko*

S: We made it! And with plenty of time left!

N: (This is where we met yesterday… So the two places are connected.)

S: OK! Let’s lift Hachiko’s curse!

N: And how do you propose we do that?

S: Well…umm… Maybe we could erase the Noise around it, or…yeah.

N: (She’s clueless. This is why I can’t count on other please. …They’re all clueless.)

*scan*

N: No Noise around the statue…

S: You tried scanning? Then Hachiko must not be cursed?

N: (Could we have the wrong statue?)

S: Huh? Hey, look, Neku!

N: (Crap… We don’t have time to hunt for another statue…)

S: EARTH TO NEKU!

N: What!

S: Something’s wrong with Hachiko.

N: Like what?

S: Hmm… I’m not sure. But it looks different from when I saw it at Hachi Fest.

N; Then let’s take a closer look.

*examining Hachiko*

S: Hmm… Something is definitely off. When I saw him at Hachi Fest, Hachiko wasn’t like this at all.

N: What’s Hachi Fest?

S: Oh, it’s a blast! It’s this festival where you touch Hachiko for good luck! If you touch the right place in the right way, your wishes come true!

N: Wow. Charming.

S: They hold it every year. And each time, the place you have to touch changes. But if you get it wrong…

N: …You explode?

S: You get cursed!

N: Hmm… Sound pretty extreme.

*choosing ‘take a closer look’*

N: (I should get a closer look…)

S: Hmm…Hachiko seems less…lovable?

*scan guy outside of station*

Guy: …Hey. …Hachiko seems down lately. …Don’t you think?

N: (What is it with this guy and statues?)

G: …He must be like you. …Drifting in a sea of woes… …If only I could polish all his pain away… …Then he’d feel better. …His heart would shine again!

N: Polish away Hachiko’s pain? That’s…idiotic.

S: Hey… Neku, we should try that!

N: Try WHAT?

S: Polishing! Hachiko did look a little dirty. And I saw this weird marking on him. What if it was some kind of hex?

N: (Or what if someone just went crazy with a magic marker? Well, if that’s the only lead we’ve got…) All right. Let’s try it.

S: Yeah!

*back to Hachiko*

S: What should we do, Neku?

*choose polish*

S: OK, Neku! Let’s polish like we mean it!

N: Isn’t that gonna…you know…create a scene?

S: Don’t worry! No one’s watching. And so what if they see us?

N: (See us petting a piece of ROCK?) All right. Whatever…

*polish Hachiko*

H: Grr…

S: You say something, Neku?

N: Nope.

S: You know… It seems the more we polish…the less this looks like Hachiko…

H: GRRRRR….

S: Stop growling and polish!

N: I’m not growling…

S: Neku, something came out of the statue!

*battle*

S: Neku, we did it! The timer’s gone! So there was Noise possessing both the Moyai AND Hachiko.

N: And our mission was to get rid of both.

S: Hey, Neku…

N: Yeah?

S: You said before you don’t need any friends.

N: Yeah. Your point?

S: Well, you couldn’t have solved Hachiko’s riddle without me.

N: What? Get real.

S: If I hadn’t noticed the pattern, we might not have cleared the mission.

N: Listen, Stalker. I don’t need you to solved one stupid riddle.

S: Riiight. Well, if you ask me--

Uzuki : Arrrgh! This is soooooo infuriating! What… You two again?

S: Huh!?

N: That voice… You were at 104 yesterday!

S: You’re that Reaper!

U: Well, excuuuse me for doing my job.

S: Then it’s true?

N: (A Reaper… She gives out the missions?)

U: You know, you owe me a bowl of ramen. For not disappearing like you’re s’posed to.

N: (This…girl is a Reaper?)

U: What’s wrong? Too spooked to answer? Well, this should bring you around!

*battle*

S: Huff…huff…

N: (Nngh… These Noise are tougher than the others…)

U: Wow. You’re, like, stronger than I thought. But I’m not done playing yet. This next Noise will be a killer.

N: (No… I can’t keep this up… I’ve got one chance.)

U: Hmm?

N: (I have to take her out!)

U: Please tell me you’re not planning on fighting me? Ha ha ha ha! How stupid can you get? You’ll never win against a Reaper! But all right. I’m game. I was getting bored anyway.

N: (What!? She erased her own Noise?)

U: You seem surprised.

N: Aren’t the Noise on your side?

U: Eww, gross! Don’t group us together. The Noise are nothing but tools. Pawns. Just like you Players. Ha ha!

N: (Rrgh… I can’t let this brat win! But can I stop her? I have no idea how strong she is… Doesn’t matter. I have to try!)

S: Don’t, Neku! You don’t want to take her on! She can erase you in a second! Ohh…

N: Hmph.

U: Aww, what? You’re giving up? Booo-ring. Don’t get my hopes up like that. Killjoy. Now that I’m in the mood…maybe I should finish the job.

N: Huh!?

U: But… I can’t do that.

N: (Huh?)

U: Well, this is a pickle… Hmm… I know! Let’s try something fun! A special bonus challenge for you! If you pull it off, I’ll let you out of the Reapers’ Game!

N: You…you will?

U: You betcha! Sweet deal, huh? So, like, what do you say?

N: (A ticket out…)

S: Neku, don’t! Don’t listen!

U: You back there. Shut up! Now, are you in, or are you out?

N: …I’m in.

S: Neku!

U: Whee! ‘Atta boy! Now, let’s get started. Oh, I forgot to mention. If you fail… I erase you.

N: What!?

U: Thankfully the rules are veeery simple. You have one minute…to erase that girl.

N: What? Erase her?

U: Yup. Poof! Kaput! Easy, right? Just pretend you’re erasing the Noise. Whew, this one’s already in the bag. All right. Ready? Start!

N: W-wait! (Dammit… She’s asking me to kill someone. There’s no way I can do that. But if I don’t…)

S: Neku…

U: 30 seconds! Still on the fence? Then let me give you an incentive. That girl? She’s been spying for the Reapers.

S: What? She’s a spy?

S: Hey! What are you saying!

U: Thanks for checking in so often. We couldn’t have done it without you.

S: Shut up! Don’t lie! Neku…She’s making all of this--

N: Your phone. Why did you keep playing with your phone?

S: Huh!? Oh… I was…just…

U: Just SPYING. She’s not very good at covering it up.

S: I didn’t spy! I swear!

U: G’bye. And thanks for playing. 10 seconds… You’re the star, kiddo. Just do things your way.

N: ……

U: What are you waiting for? Do what comes naturally. Save yourself. Screw everybody else, right?

S: Don’t, Neku. Don’t kill me…

N: I have to.

*cutscene*

S: Please…don’t kill me.

*end of Day 2, Week 1*

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