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Name Withheld For Spoilers

Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:38 pm
by Puncyclopedia
Hi, this is Puncyclopedia! You might know me from such fanfiction as The Benefit of Hindsight, in which I try to rehabilitate the much-maligned reputation of one Lilly Satou, and The Ties That Bind, an unfinished Shizune x Hisao one-shot that I totally forgot existed until I started writing this intro.

This is very different from The Benefit of Hindsight, and, I hope, almost everything else on this site. Eventually, this will be the home for the Table of Contents and all of that kind of stuff, but I’m still figuring out how to do that because I have managed to come up with a story idea for which the Table of Contents (and even giving the fic itself a name!) is actually spoilers for someone who hasn’t read at least part of the story.

Watch this space to figure out how I deal with this rather unique dilemma, and scroll on down to the next post to read the start of a little ditty that I like to call…well, you'll see, sooner or later!

(Watch this space.)

Welcome to Yamaku Academy

Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:40 pm
by Puncyclopedia
There’s something...unpleasant about this gate.

Most gates look pompous, but this one seems especially so - as if it belongs to a country club or some evil millionaire’s lair. As I think that, I realize that I’ve probably read too many books in the hospital - this isn’t a gate to a club or a lair, it’s the gate to Yamaku Academy, my new school.

My parents are already moving me into my new room, which leaves me to walk through the pompous gate towards the main building. My first class is soon, and I probably shouldn’t be any later than I have to be.

This looks nothing like a school. It’s a sort of….park-hospital thing. It’s odd, and it makes no sense, but it’s my new life now. What choice do I really have?

No, Hisao. Don’t think that way. This is a new start. A fresh chance to make something of yourself. My heart may have nearly given out on me, but I haven’t given up the ghost. Not just yet, anyway.

With only a few thoughts about the life I’m leaving behind for good, I enter the front door of the main building. Standing there to greet me is the first person that I’ve seen since walking through the gates - a tall and slouched over man with dark hair who looks ever so slightly dishevelled.

He looks really familiar, but he’s so nondescript that it would be hard for him not to look at least a little familiar.

“So you are. Excellent,” he says. “I’m your homeroom and science teacher. My name is Mutou. Welcome.”

This is like every welcome ever. It’s almost comforting that something can be so by-the-numbers. We shake hands, and Mutou pipes up, as if suddenly remembering something.

“The head nurse asked you for a brief check-in visit,” he explains, “but there’s no time for that now.”

“Oh,” I ask, accepting this turn of events in stride. That makes sense - class is probably about to begin, or has already begun and I am holding everyone up. “Should I go later?”

“Yes, afternoon is probably fine. We should get going and introduce you to the rest of the class. They’re waiting already.”

As expected. Why else would Mutou have been sent here to collect me? The prospect of having everyone’s undivided attention is a little unpleasant, but I’ll live. It’s an inevitability anyway.

I wonder what’s going to happen. Will my classmates accept me? Will I be able to adjust to being in school again after four months? Will I be able to adjust to a “normal” - well, whatever passes as normal for me now - life?

I’m so wrapped up in my thoughts and worries that I almost miss Mutou’s question.

“Do you want to introduce yourself to the class?”

“Yeah, sure. I mean, isn’t that normal?” It’s not the brightest thing to say, but it just sort of pops to mind, and it’ll do.

Mutou talks a bit about how not everyone likes to be at the center of attention. He’s right - I probably don’t want to be either, but under the circumstances, I’ll deal. I follow him up the stairs. The pounding of my heart reminds me of why I’m here, not that I could ever really forget.

We stop outside Room 3-3 - this must be it. Mutou takes the initiative, opening the door and stepping into the room with a cry of “Good morning everyone, sorry I’m late again.” It comforts me to know that, with or without my arrival, class wouldn’t have started on time.

Temporarily paralyzed with worry, I summon up the courage to follow Mutou inside.

What I see when I step inside isn’t what I expect. The classroom is different from the ones I’ve been in, with a high ceiling and lots of space between the desks. It makes sense, though, at a school like this. Different from what I’m used to, but my brain sees it as familiar under the circumstances.

I stand in front of the classroom and look around at my new classmates. My eyes immediately fall upon a girl with bubble-gum pink hair. She’s extremely eye-catching, I don’t know how it would be possible for me to miss Misha.

I tune out the teacher as I look around the room. There’s a girl in the back looking at me from behind long, straight hair, but whenever I look back, she covers her face with her hands. Hanako always seemed terribly shy, so I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised.

Next to Misha is Shizune, her hands a blur as she signs something or other and peers over the rim of her glasses at me.

I finally tune Mutou back in just in time to hear the words “...please welcome our newest classmate.”

He claps his hands and so does everyone else. I’m thinking about what to say as I look at Misha and Shizune, and then my thought process comes to an utter, complete stop.

Misha? Shizune? Hanako? I’ve never met these people before. I just got here.

That realization leaves me open-mouthed. Second after second ticks away as the silence becomes oppressive. Mutou finally nudges me in the side and whispers “you don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to.”

It snaps me out of my funk long enough for me to say something. Anything.

“S-so,” I stammer out, as best I can, “I’m Hisao Nakai. My hobbies are reading and soccer. I hope to get along well with everyone even though I’m a new student.”

Not bad. Not good, but not bad, especially considering my mouth is dry and that entire bit just sort of...popped into my head. A few of the girls are throwing glances at me and whispering. It could have gone worse.

The next few minutes are a blur as I settle into my seat. Mutou says we’ll be doing group work, and I just nod my head. I’m told that I’ll be working with Hakamichi - Shizune Hakamichi. There’s that name again.

As Mutou-sensei calls her name, the girl with pink hair - Misha - waves me over. I take a seat next to her, warily. not right here.

“It’s nice to meet you M--” I cut myself off. In my brain, this is a Misha. But I don’t know that. I can’t know that. Me knowing that is impossible - and yet in this class there is a Shizune. I assigned that name to the girl with glasses who was signing. Soon, I will know if I was right.

“It’s nice to meet you too! I’m Misha! This is Hakamichi. Shicchan~!”

The girl that Misha points to - Shicchan - is the girl who was signing before. Shizune Hakamichi. The class representative. She nods her head at me as if to acknowledge my existence. Suddenly, I feel very, very weak. I slump down in my chair as if all life has left my body. I barely notice Misha jumping up from her seat to get Mutou, who has moved on to supervising the start of group work.

He’s over in an instant, looking at me with concern.

“Are you alright,” he asks. “Can you stand? I’ll take you to the nurse if you need.”

I almost jump to my feet, in an effort to prove that I’m alright. Physically, I am. Mentally? That’s a different story. I’m having trouble coping with what is rapidly becoming something that should not be.

“Where’s the nurse’s office,” I ask. “I think I can walk there okay, but I don’t know where it is.”

“Misha,” Mutou asks, his face tinged with concern, “would you mind escorting him to the nurse’s office?”

“Of course~!” she says, cheerily. “Come on, Hicchan~!”

I’m so screwed up right now that I don’t even object to a nickname that I don’t like very much.

* * * * *

The walk to the nurse’s office is longer than I initially anticipated. As we walk, Misha explains to me that all of the nursing facilities are in a separate building, which makes sense. I’m more concerned with another piece of information, though.

I ask her what the name of the girl in the back row with the long straight hair is. She elbows me in the side and playfully asks if it’s love at first sight. I sigh - I really don’t have any justification to ask this question, but I have to know the answer. I manage to cobble together an explanation revolving around her seeming shy and me wanting to be friends with everyone. It’s not great, but it’s good enough.

“Ikezawa,” Misha says. “Hanako Ikezawa.”

I feel no surprise at this fact, which is itself surprising. I’m three for three. I shouldn’t know their names. I rack my brain to try and figure out some possible way for this to happen, but nothing comes to mind. I did no research before coming here - my parents did all of the work to arrange me going to Yamaku.

This is impossible. Absolutely, utterly impossible.

Misha gestures to the door to the big building, and gives me a few more instructions. I barely hear them, but I nod my head anyway and tell her she can go back. If worse comes to worse, I can always ask for directions, and I don’t want to impose upon her anymore than I’ve already had to.

As it turns out, I don’t need to ask for directions. I know the way to the head nurse’s office, getting there within a matter of moments. I didn’t hear enough of Misha’s directions to get there, but I’m here, knocking on the door to the office.

“Come in,” a voice calls, and I step into the office. Stacks of paper rule the desk, but I focus almost immediately on the kindly looking head nurse. He looks concerned, and gets up from the desk immediately.

“Mr. Nakai,” he says, “is everything alright? You weren’t supposed to come in until after class. Are you feeling okay?”

“, I’m not.” I’m actually feeling worse. I shake my head, and the nurse escorts me to an examination table in the office. I climb up to sit down on it as the nurse pulls a file out, looking through it carefully.

“I’m sorry to hear that, though I am glad to see you again.”

See me again?

Something else that doesn’t make sense. I’m tired and frustrated, so I finally just lash out with the first thing that comes to mind.

“Again? When did we meet for the first time?”

His facial expression changes at the question. The corners of his mouth turn up, and suddenly, I am desperately afraid that he’s going to have an answer for it.

“You should know that, Hisao,” he says, adding another layer of throbbing to the headache that threatens to consume every aspect of my existence. “But worry about that later. What do you remember?”

It is an utterly horrifying question. An image jumps to mind - a blind boy with thick glasses talking about a vast feminist conspiracy - Kenji, his name is. I think. This entire thing is like one of his delusions, except it’s real. I’m living it, right this instant.

The nurse takes my silence as confusion, and speaks up again.

“My apologies, I should be more specific. What do you remember that you shouldn’t?”

My heart is pounding wildly - it occurs to me that this can’t be good for my already weak heart, but I’m in too deep now. The nurse knows something. That much is obvious. But what?

Things come spilling out of my mouth. “Names, mostly,” I say. “Of classmates that I’ve never met before. How to get to your office…”

I keep thinking, willing my exhausted, taxed brain to force past its breaking point and come up with more. If I think hard enough, maybe I can figure this out…

“The front gate of Yamaku looked...familiar.”

It did, but I have no idea why. It looked somehow unpleasant, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I’d seen it before. Not in pictures - I hadn’t bothered to look at the brochures my parents gave me, but seen it for real. Up close and personal, with my own two eyes.

I'm close now. So close. What did I remember before being at that gate?

I expect it to be the ride with my parents...but no. Something else shoves its way to the front of my mind’s eye. I can see myself on the roof...of Yamaku Academy. With the blind kid I was just thinking about...there’s alcohol involved and...oh. Oh, no. No…

I see myself falling off the roof of Yamaku Academy.

Only then do I realize that I am soaked in sweat. I can’t imagine what I must look like, but the head nurse smiles at me, a grin full of promise and secrecy.

“There we are, Hisao. Now, we can have this conversation.”

I fervently hope against hope that I’m going to like what it entails.

Re: Name Withheld For Spoilers

Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 10:04 pm
by Oddball
New Game + !

Re: Name Withheld For Spoilers

Posted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 3:12 am
by azumeow
Oh....oh boy Pun. Another of your creations to follow? I like...

Re: Name Withheld For Spoilers

Posted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 7:56 am
by Alpacalypse
Oh, I like where this is going. I like it a lot :D

Re: Name Withheld For Spoilers

Posted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:50 am
by Mirage_GSM
The premise reminds me of one of my favourite pieces of fiction around here, so I guess you could say I'm looking forward to the continuation of this.
But do you really want to write two stories in parallel?

Re: Name Withheld For Spoilers

Posted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:34 pm
by kaserkin
Now this will be interesting :D

Re: Name Withheld For Spoilers

Posted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:43 pm
by Puncyclopedia
Thank you all for the thoughts so far. I tend to like to reply to comments, and will do so throughout. Interactivity is fun!

Next chapter will be up tonight, after which I'm going to attempt to make the table of contents for this thing using copious amounts of spoiler tags and lots of warnings. Anyone who's made it through the first two chapters will have enough of an idea of what's going that that the spoilers won't be so bad, but it would otherwise be pretty jarring to a newcomer.

With that out of the way, comments!
Oddball wrote:New Game + !
Kind of? Sort of? You'll find out, and sooner than you probably think.
azumeow wrote:Oh....oh boy Pun. Another of your creations to follow? I like...
Yeah, having two things to write is nice because when I'm experiencing writer's block on bits of Benefit, I can go to this.
Alpacalypse wrote:Oh, I like where this is going. I like it a lot :D
So do I! It's an idea that I've toyed with for longer than I want to admit, and I think it has a lot of legs. We shall see.
Mirage_GSM wrote:The premise reminds me of one of my favourite pieces of fiction around here, so I guess you could say I'm looking forward to the continuation of this.
But do you really want to write two stories in parallel?
I have a long, long list of influences for this fic - and I'm honestly ashamed Haruhi isn't on it, given that I've seen the Endless Eight arc. I took a quick look at what you linked and will have to read it in detail at some point - it seems pretty interesting, especially depending on how closely it sticks to the source material. This is somewhat different, but may have some commonalities.

I'll be fine - Benefit is going at a pace that I feel comfortable with, and this fic is going to be a long, long term project. I expect to be writing it for a very long time, but we'll see. This will probably be cooking alongside any other projects I come up with for the foreseeable future. I do appreciate the concern, though. In an odd way, having this makes me feel less burned out than I have at times in the past when a scene in Benefit I have to write is staring at me through a blank screen unwritten.
kaserkin wrote:Now this will be interesting :D
I do hope so! I have a lot of goals for this which it's too soon to talk about, but I'll probably get into more in comments and such as this goes on.

Next chapter, coming up ASAP!

Now This Is A Story All About How...

Posted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:56 pm
by Puncyclopedia
The nurse’s office is far, far too ordinary a scene for this conversation, I decide, as I stare openmouthed at Yamaku Academy’s head nurse. We are about to have a discussion, it seems, about why I remember falling to my presumptive death off of the Academy roof, yet am still here reliving my first day at school.

“I’m told that you like science, Hisao,” he says, and I sigh. I did sort of like science; I may like it less if there’s a scientific explanation for this craziness. “What do you know about quantum physics?”

I frown, and open my mouth to ask how he knows that I like science, but he knows that I know things I shouldn’t. Who knows what else this nurse knows?

“Enough to get by, kind of?” is the best thing I can come up with. “I mean, I know about Schrodinger’s cat, because the video games I play love that thought experiment.”

The cat in the box is a staple of visual novels and sci-fi games. I’ve played at least three or four featuring it. Is it alive? Is it dead? That question’s a little above my head, honestly.

The nurse nods his head. “If you’re aware of Schrodinger’s cat,” he reasons, “you’re probably at least familiar with the many worlds interpretation?”

I nod in return. “I don’t know the details, but basically, every decision we make leads to a universe in which that decision is...reality, I guess, for lack of a better term?”

“More or less,” the nurse replies. “Actually, though, let’s go back to your video game example, since it’s probably the best way to explain what’s happening here.”

He brings over a sheet of paper and a pen. My already pounding head starts hurting even more at the prospect of a visual aid.

“Let’s say we start from the beginning of a game, at Point A,” he says, writing down “A.” The first branching decision point comes from A, so you end up at B or C. B and C branch off into two or three points, and before long you get something that looks like this.”

The paper is full of decisions and lines, and by the time my eyes reach the other side of the paper, there are at least thirty or so ending points that I know in turn will branch out into many, many more.

“That’s what most people’s lives look like. They only get more complex from there. You, though, are a little different. From the point here, at the end, with all of those possibilities…”

He turns the paper around - and suddenly, rather than a starting point branching into thirty possibilities, thirty possibilities converge into one point.

“...everything all converges upon Point A. For you, Hisao, you are in Point A.”

“What on Earth is Point A, then?” It’s a reasonable question, I think, and the first thing to pop into my mind. The nurse seems to have been expecting it, too, which both makes sense and fills me with a sense of dread.

“Point A is...let’s call it a convergence point, for lack of a better term. It looks like a point on a piece of paper, but it’s actually full of decisions. The difference is that there’s only one decision that will let you move forward. All other decisions are...invalid.”

“Invalid,” I ask, frowning to show how much I do not like this. “How can my decisions be invalid?”

“All possible Hisao universes have converged on Point A, and expand outwards from it. Which means that in order for those possible futures to exist, SOMETHING has to happen in Point A. If you want to talk about the cat in the box again...the cat in the box has to be alive. All other possibilities, the invalid ones, result in the cat in the box being dead. You’re the cat, Hisao.”

“But I already di--” I stop myself. If I’m dead, it’s entirely possible that this is purgatory - or worse.

“You did not,” comes the reply. The nurse looks extremely pleased with himself, which somehow only makes me matter. “You never hit the ground. You blacked out before you could, and woke up in front of the Yamaku front gate. Your future is cast - Hisao Nakai cannot die in Point A, or universes of possible futures would cease to exist.”

“My head hurts,” I say. “Really, really badly.”

“I don’t blame you.” The nurse walks over to the wall, where a giant pad of paper hangs from the wall. Presumably, he uses it to take notes, but right now, there’s a bunch of writing scrawled in permanent marker on one sheet. It’s messy enough that I can’t read his handwriting, though.

“Don’t think about the logistics, Hisao. That won’t get you anywhere. I’m going to tell you everything I know. Point A, like the rest of the universe has rules. I will tell you everything I can.”

“Rule one,” the nurse reads, “is that this office exists beyond space and time. Anything written here will survive, no matter how many iterations of the time loop you embark on.”

I’m about to scream something about how he didn’t bother telling me about the time loop in the first place, but I suppose that it’s implied. If the box has to be opened, and I have to be alive…

“Rule two,” he continues, “you will be stuck in this time loop until you achieve your necessary objective. You are destined to graduate from Yamaku while dating a certain young woman. That is your victory condition.”

“You have got to be shitting me,” is my brilliant retort. I shake my head, sigh, and wonder when my life turned into a visual novel so ridiculous even I wouldn’t play it. This is reality, though. My entire life’s been a sort of unreal reality since the day Iwanako confessed to me and I responded by promptly having a heart attack. Being at Yamaku to begin with barely feels real, so why not add this onto the pile, too?

“Rule three, Hisao, and this is important so please pay attention.” He taps his foot impatiently as I force myself to focus, but it’s very, very difficult. I look the nurse dead in the eyes, and he continues.

“If you are not dating this person by the time you graduate from the Academy, you will be forced to start over at the beginning of this loop - in front of the Yamaku gate.”

It’s one of the three or four most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard in my life, right up there with how much medicine I would have to take, every day, for the rest of my life.

“That’s it, I ask,” looking at the nurse in disbelief. “That’s all the guidance I get? Three rules? Three ridiculous, insane rules?”

It’s easier to discuss this as if it’s not real. I still don’t entirely know if I believe it - any of it - but if I can think about it abstractly, I can carry out this conversation without being crushed under the weight of a thousand emotions.

“For now, yes,” he replies, looking a little guilty. That makes me feel slightly better, but not much. “If you come up against the rules of the universe, they will...make themselves known, and get added to this list. I wish I had better advice for you, but for now, these three rules are the only guidance I can give.”

The number of questions in my head has only multiplied, but there’s one thing I want to ask - no, have to ask.

“Earlier, you said that most people just have decision trees branching out for eternity. Why am I different?”

“I can’t tell you exactly why,” the nurse admits, “but I can give you a general answer. Sometimes, people are destined for certain things. Fate’s a fickle, and sometimes cruel mistress. If a certain individual is destined to do something important enough, choices have to be taken away from them to get to the desired, optimal result.”

How in the world am I important enough for that? I suppose that’s not a question I’ll be able to answer until I get out of this time loop, but it’s an imposing, slightly terrifying question.

“That’s not to say that you’ll never have free will again, Hisao,” the nurse continues, perhaps reading my mood. “It just means that for a certain period of time, your choices are locked in for you. You just need to figure out what the right one is.”

Silence reigns in the office for a few moments. I have nothing else to say. What is there that could possibly be said? I hop down from the examination table. For better or worse, at least I now have a direction.

“If you ever need to talk,” I hear, as I head for the door, “my office door will always be open for you.”

I accelerate as I leave the office, walking faster and faster. My first thought is to go back to class, but there’s no way on Earth I could focus. I’d also have to answer a bunch of questions about what happened, and telling the truth on this issue is something that would probably get me committed to a different sort of institution.

Should I go to my room? My parents might be there, and I don’t think that I can face them right now, either. I need to be alone, but there’s no place to be alone. Where do I go? What do I do? How do I cope with all of this?

Is everything the nurse told me even true?

I turn around to take a step and am suddenly blindsided by an unidentified moving object. It smacks into me full-force, my chest taking most of the impact. I’m knocked to the ground, and by the time I start trying to get up, I feel a familiar agony.

Oh no. What’s the worst possible thing to happen to me right now? Getting hit in the chest.

“Sorry!” A sweet voice calls out as its owner scrambles up to her feet from the ground. She’s wearing a pair of legblades. Her name is Emi, I realize, but I can’t respond. I can’t think. I can’t do anything.

“Are you okay?” she asks, and I can’t even shake my head ‘no’ as the pain becomes too severe for me and my eyes slam shut.

The last thing I hear is her frantically screaming for help.

Re: Name Withheld For Spoilers

Posted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:01 pm
by azumeow
Dammit Emi, Shizune warned yooouuuuu

Re: Name Withheld For Spoilers

Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:53 am
by Mirage_GSM
I took a quick look at what you linked and will have to read it in detail at some point - it seems pretty interesting, especially depending on how closely it sticks to the source material.
It's been a few years since I last read it, but I think it sticks pretty close to the source material - in fact sticking to the source material is kind of it's premise :-) - at least to as much of the source material as was available at the time of its writing. It was written back when only act 1 was out, so don't expect Jigoro to show up or that Lilly and Shizune are cousins...

As for this story I'm not quite sure I understood everything nurse explained.
I first thought "point A" was where Hisao starts out at the gate, but it seems "point A" is actually his entire time at Yamaku, since both the beginning and the end are predetemined. Makes its labelling as "point" a bit strange...

Also there are two questions that would have been right at the top of the things that I'd want to know that Hisao didn't even think to ask:
1. Who the hell are YOU that you know all this stuff and are able to pull a whole room outside of time itself?
2. WHO am I supposed to date?

Re: Name Withheld For Spoilers

Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:07 pm
by emi
This is an interesting read so far, looking forward to more.

Re: Name Withheld For Spoilers

Posted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:21 pm
by Oddball
It's interesting. I don't know what you have planned or where this is going, but I have a feeling that Hisao may have got his answers too easily, or at least too soon.

Likewise, Nurse seemed an odd choice to be the one who explains all this.

Re: Name Withheld For Spoilers

Posted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 12:46 pm
by Mirage_GSM
Yeah, I'd have expected Mutou as well :-)

Well, I guess the VN never mentions if he has his own office, and that place that is outside the time loop probably is important for the story...

Re: Name Withheld For Spoilers

Posted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:18 pm
by Jake Zero
Agreed. Mutou makes a lot more sense.