Jaku-chara Tomozaki-kun - novelonlinefull.com
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Haah. Now I've gone and done it. I had been seriously concentrating in order to overcome the high-pressure situation, but as a result, had beat him up a lot more than necessary.
Nakamura clenched his teeth, whispering with a look of anguish on his face. Witnessing this, the gallery was at a complete loss for words. Understandably so. With a stock of four lives each, he had been defeated without being able to take a single life off me. There wasn't even a word for this kind of difference in ability.
Around the time I had been claiming the first win, there had been instigations like「He's way too good at this, grooss.」, but perhaps due to how seriously Nakamura was taking the match, the gallery had quietened down by itself.
When I turned to look behind, with the exception of Konno Erika, not a single person was looking in our direction. Some of them were awkwardly looking at each other, some of them were putting on fake smiles, some of them were looking down at their feet. Look, I already said I'm sorry. But I really didn't have a choice, did I? I didn't even want to do this, you know!
Finding it extremely difficult to stick around in that atmosphere, with just a「Umm, well then, that's that.」, I got up as if to leave. However, at that moment, an unexpected voice kept me from doing so.
The one who said those words was of course, none other than Nakamura.
──Just what is this guy saying? One more time? In spite of how the last round went? Come on, there's no point. It's impossible. You wouldn't even be able to win after a hundred attempts, and that's not an exaggeration. There's really no point in continuing.
「No, come on……」
「I told you, again. Hurry up and get ready.」
「……Umm, should I change charac-」
「No, don't. I won't be changing either. It's not even like I'm trying to blame the characters. Don't be stupid.」
Nakamura didn't even take a single peek at the gallery of spectators, focusing only on the game's screen as he spoke.
As for those watching, they had a kind of astonished, perhaps even slightly fearful look on their faces as they stared at Nakamura from behind.
Reluctantly, I picked up my controller.
Since I wasn't in the same accelerated state of mind as in the first round, this time I took slightly more damage than before, but I won yet again without dropping a single life.
I mean, of course I would. Turning to look at the gallery, I spotted Hinami amongst the crowd of people lowering their gazes. Whoa. Most likely, she had stealthily entered at some point during our second round. She was quietly having a talk with Izumi, who was right next to her. Izumi was probably giving her a run-down of the situation.
However, this situation was surely too far gone for even Hinami to be able to salvage. It was no longer clear if it was myself or Nakamura who was the bad guy here, and as long as neither of us was convicted of anything, it didn't seem possible to come to a conclusion.
Having finished receiving an explanation from Izumi, Hinami now made an extremely difficult face, looked at me, then shook her head.
I couldn't accurately figure out what that gesture was supposed to mean, but the nuance was definitely negative. In other words, there was likely no way to greatly improve the situation from here.
Despite the fact that in the midst of this gathering of pretty much all the prominent riajuu, male and female alike, you expressly declared your intention to have revenge, yet ultimately lost two rounds in a row without taking a single life off me. Why hasn't your spirit broken yet? What are you even thinking? Why do you keep trying to fight?
He didn't seem to have any intention of asking for my consent.
──Once again, I won without losing a single life.
The mood continued to get heavier and heavier. That was something even I could sense, so to all the more mood-sensitive riajuu, it was probably suffocating. Looking over my shoulder, I could see that with the exception of Konno Erika and Hinami, every person present was looking down in a way that under normal circ.u.mstances would be considered overdoing it. As for those actually looking our way, Hinami was expressionless, while Konno Erika had a stern look on her face.
「……I have prep school today, so……」
Saying this, one of Erika's followers tries to leave.
「Ah, me too……」
Following their lead, another person raises their voice.
「Stop making things up. I know you guys have prep school on Thursdays.」
Without turning to look at them, but with a definitively overbearing tone of voice, Nakamura speaks bluntly.
「Ahh, I guess so.」
Come on, this can't be real. Why would you do this, Nakamura.
However, there's no way to persuade him otherwise.
──Just like before, I win without a single death.
Again. Again. Again. This happened another three times. Each time, the mood would get heavier, but Nakamura's att.i.tude did not change in the very least. Then, on the third time, rather than it being another flawless victory for me, I finally dropped a life. I say this in all honesty, but I had by no means been going easy on him.
Still, that should do it. With this, Nakamura should be satisfied. Most likely, his pride had been injured by the fact that after so many consecutive battles, forget winning a single round, he had been unable to make me drop a single life. That's why……
「Nakamura, let's leave it at that……」
Nakamura continued to face straight ahead, his eyes fixed on the game screen.
「Come on, that's enough.」
「Do you really think I'll be satisfied knocking just one life off you? I thought I told you not to look down on me. Again, I said.」
For the first time since the series had begun, Nakamura directed his gaze away from the screen, then looked right at me. I couldn't sense even a sliver of hesitation in those eyes. There was even fighting spirit dwelling within. It didn't seem like this was a simple case of good-for-nothing stubbornness.
「Shuuji～, don't you think it's about time you gave up? It's starting to get a bit gross.」
I turned around in search of the owner of the voice. It was Konno Erika.
「Like, really? You're getting all serious when it's a game, you know～. That's soo stupid.」
Nakamura turns around and gives Konno a piercing gaze.
「……This has nothing to do with you.」
「Haa? Even though you went as far as stopping someone who was trying to leave, you're seriously saying this has nothing to do with me? I can't help but think there's something wrong with your head, grooss～」
Not caring a single bit about Nakamura's overpowering aura of intimidation, Konno smiled mockingly as she spoke.
「I don't recall ever stopping you from leaving, though? Why are you even following me around, Erika, it's gross.」
The expression on Konno Erika's face warps.
「Heeeh. Now you're acting all high and mighty. What, are you getting carried away because I confessed to you the other day? That's seriously gross. Congrats on misunderstanding. You're just the one who stands out the most in our cla.s.s, so I thought that if it worked, then lucky for me. If I had known you were this gross, there's no way I'd have confessed, no wayyy～」
Speaking carelessly, yet in a way that stabs at his heart.
「Heeeh. I couldn't care less about what you think. If I had to say, I'm simply not interested in you.」
Seemingly annoyed, Konno Erika scratches her head with an index finger.
「Like, really, no matter how many times you try, you can't win. It's so pointless it's laughable. We can tell just by looking, but you're actually extremely weak, aren't you Shuuji?」
For the first time, Nakamura hesitates. As if taking advantage of that opening,
「Isn't that right? Mika?」Konno Erika tries to get one of the girls in her group to agree. What a nasty choice of timing.
「Um, yeah, it's really gross. Actually, wouldn't it be normal to want us to go back?」
A truly mocking tone of voice.
「Righht? ……Is that all?」
Konno Erika spurs her on even further. That's such a bold way of going about it, oi.
「Um, no, uhh, I mean, you're being so uncool, Nakamura. It'd be better for you if you died, seriously.」
「That's soo true～」says Konno Erika delightedly.
Then, using that as an opportunity, the others in Konno Erika's group began to join in on attacking Nakamura. As for Izumi, she was silent.
「Like, don't you remember? This guy, didn't he tell us to watch him get revenge? Isn't that crazy?」
「That's crazy, craaazy! A mess like this after that isn't normal! Actually, I'd rather he gave us back our time!」
「That's how it is, Shuuji. What you're doing is seriously gross, since you're weak. You've, L-O-S-T. Get it?」
The abuse from Konno Erika was especially sharp-edged.
「This has nothing to do with any of you. If you're not interested then leave, scram.」
As one might expect, the emphasis that Nakamura placed on his words was weaker than before.
「Saying we're unrelated, hilarious! Actually, huh? Isn't Nakamura kind of teary-eyed!?」
「You're right! Eh, what's this! He's crying!? At that age!?」
「Ehhh!? Crying after losing in a game, how old are you!? You're not a pre-schooler anymore!
Actually, it seems like lately you've been coming here after school to practice, haven't you? Ahahaha, what an idiot. A loss like this in spite of that? All that effort was compleetely wasted, wasn't it? Ahh, soo embarra.s.sing. It's such a stupid game.」
Following up her blunt words with a 'Let's go.', Konno turns to leave with the rest of her group. I was the only one who noticed, but on seeing this, Hinami moved her lips ever so slightly.
──However, before she could say anything, the voice of a male full of anger echoed in the room.
「Wait, what did you just say?」
The look on Hinami's face which had been expressionless up until now, turned to one of complete surprise. The most surprised I had ever seen her. And understandably so.
After all, the one who had blurted out those words was neither Nakamura, nor any one of his followers, but me.
Snapped at by a human being of low social status, Konno glared at me with an expression of extreme displeasure.
「……What's this? Tomozaki? What, are you unhappy about something? Heeeh. Gross.」
Brushing me aside with an uninterested tone of voice, as if she was dealing with small fry.
「Is 'gross' the only thing you lot can say?」
Trying hard to produce a glare of my own, I spoke sharply.
「Ha? Sure we can! What's with that tone of voice, it's seriously putting me off!」
「Actually Tomozaki, aren't you getting full of yourself? That's so incredibly gross～!」
「Like, really? Why are you even covering for this guy? It seriously makes no sense.」
「That's soo true! Actually, he's not even saying anything, hilarious～!」
「Don't they say that trash hangs out with trash? I seriously don't want to get involved with them!」
Charged with malice, each word pierced me, one after the other. They might have been flaring up at me like this, but my hands were shaking.
「Soo stupid. Well, I wouldn't expect the likes of you lot to understand, though.」
Practice for tone of voice. For facial expression. For posture. For speech pattern. Ever since I had begun all of that, I had come to know for the first time. In every one of those things, these people exist at a level vastly higher than my own. Day in and day out, their craft gets tempered. Where to an extent incomparable with someone like me, they can manipulate those things at will. I also knew that these people had long been aware that I stood on a lower level, and were looking down on me. Which is why my words, regardless of their contents, probably would not reach.
「You know,」I slowly begin to speak. In most serious tone of voice that I can muster. 「the people who lose a fight, but instead of making the effort to improve, blame their loss on the conditions or the characters, they're the type I hate the most.」
「What are you talking about?」
「SHUT UP!」I shout as loudly as I can.「……Last time, when I won against Nakamura, he made excuses. He blamed it on the character. I thought he was a person who would never lower his head. However, what about now? In front of this many people! Losing this badly! In spite of all that, fighting round after round, he hasn't made a single excuse! In the end, he even managed to make me lose a life! The likes of you probably don't understand how amazing that is! How incredible that is!」
Even I have things I cannot forgive.
And those particular words spoken by Konno Erika were ones I would never forgive, no matter what.
「What's up with that?」
「Like, in the first place, isn't it meaningless if you don't win?」
「Nakamura! Is no longer! A person who makes excuses!」
I then took a deep breath, and shouted the following.
「HOWEVER, RIGHT NOW, I COULDN'T CARE LESS ABOUT ANY OF THAT!」
Unable to comprehend the reason for that seriousness, the whole group was at a loss for words.
And then, I lock eyes with Erika. She returns the glare. It might be scary, but there is absolutely no way I am going to look away.
This is my stubbornness.
「Konno. You said this earlier, right?『It's such a stupid game.』.」
In this battle, both my level and equipment may be inadequate, and I may not even have any measures in place to make up for that. It is a battle where losing is apparent, but even so, it is a battle where I will not concede. These people probably do not know. That in RPGs, it is common to have Event Battles where even if your HP gauge reaches zero, you will not fall!
Well, as for whether or not that is the case here, even I don't know, though!!
「Understand? I do also hate those people who don't put in the effort and make excuses for their loss! ……However!」
That is why, with my sincere thoughts being『I just personally find it displeasing』, I now shouted.
「……However! The people who make light of AtaFami! I hate them even more!!」
The group looks at me blankly, not saying a single word. This is a face-off between Konno and myself.
「Listen, this game is a kamige! It's well balanced. On top of being able to improve your ability as much as you like with enough practice, there are no cheap tricks, no single instant-death combos that you can rely on! The characters are overflowing with individuality and ideas, and each and every one of them is a character good enough to have the leading role in any other game! Even so, the lesser known element, the single player element, it's full of features and matches the online one! Furthermore, the environment for online play is incredibly good, and you can carry out your battles with ease! Even the support system is great! And in addition to that! Due to the the killer techniques that aren't just any ordinary attacks, and the showy effects for the super killer techniques, even a casual gamer can have fun! In AtaFami, there is a balance between consideration for the speedruns of core gamers and popular features directed at the casual crowd! Those opposing elements are allowed to perfectly co-exist! It's a timeless masterpiece!!」
「Ha? Gross, is that what you wanted to tell-」
「But right now! Even that!! EVEN THAT I COULDN'T CARE LESS ABOUT!!」
I shouted to the point that I could feel my throat being torn to shreds. Even Konno Erika was taken aback now.
「You lot have got to be kidding me! What do you mean,『All that effort was compleetely wasted』! Stop messing around!! The likes of s.h.i.tty b.i.t.c.hes like you lot wouldn't understand! Nakamura has been trying hard! And it's not just now! These past few weeks!! He's been trying really, really hard!!」
Nakamura now gives me a surprised look.
「But I understand!! Listen, that move he did during the second life of the second round to escape my combo! That move! It's super, super difficult! It's not the kind of thing you can learn in a day! It only has a leeway of 10 frames!!  Normally, it would take several months to learn to do it consistently!! And actually using it under conditions like these is even more difficult!! It's not something you can do by chance! Understand!? And that's not all! The move he did in the last round that made me drop a life! That's a combo so difficult, even I would find it a challenge to get it right every time! That was MLJ! Moonlight Jewel, an extremely difficult combo!! Nakamura is!! Amazing! Listen up!! Dig out all that dirt blocking your ears and listen well!! Not that any of you would understand! Nakamura has! With a goal in mind! Steadily! Every day! Without fail! Even if he got tired of it, continued and continued and continued to work towards it, and even though it might be a very small thing, managed this reality!! His effort led to results!!」
I was practically screaming.
「That's why, don't laugh at Nakamura!! Don't laugh at a person's efforts!! A person who is seriously trying their best!! Is unconditionally!! More than anything else!! Beautiful, and just!!」
And then, even with my vision blurring to the point where I no longer knew if I was whiting out or blacking out,
「Look!! I hate people who make excuses and don't put in the effort even though they've lost! I also hate those who make fun of AtaFami! However!! More than that! More than anything else!
With all my might, I shouted.
「PEOPLE LIKE YOU WHO DON'T PUT IN ANY EFFORT, BUT LAUGH AT THOSE WHO DO, ARE BY FAAAAR! THE TYPE I HATE THE MOST!!」
 So he basically had to press a b.u.t.ton within the right 10 frame interval to be able to escape. Since we know AtaFami runs at 60 FPS, that's about 0.167 seconds.