Universal Gravitation: An Aoi Pseudo-Route [Updated 10/2/15]
Posted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:21 pm
Universal Gravitation: An Aoi Pseudo-Route
Title page by Anagram_daine. Dude, you're talented as FUCK. Thanks for doing so much for us.
Theme of the Aoi Pseudo Route
Before we begin, why don’t we introduce the team! Yeah… a team…
W-we’ll do it live. We’ll do it live! Fuck it! Do it live! I’ll write and we’ll do it live!
Hey all! I'm Bradycardia! Just a few days ago I was diagnosed with severe sinus Bradycardia and cardiac Arrhythmia, causing me to have to quit most of my sports. Kinda sucks, but with all this newly found free time I got back into Katawa Shoujo. I have been visiting /r/Katawashoujo pretty often, and heard that Aoi had no Pseudo route. I vowed to try my best to write it, finding out that Mohn_Jadden had similar interests. We started writing together a few days ago, and as a result became very attached to the idea of making Aoi a full fledged Pseudo route. Our work is not even remotely complete, and we definitely have our work cut out for us, but what we have planned is pretty exciting, and I hope all of you enjoy reading it as much as we have enjoyed writing it.
Hi! I’m Mohn_Jadden. I’m semi-famous on the Katawa Shoujo subreddit, but that’s currently declining into a best-girl war that I really want no part of. So, maybe I’ll flee to here, maybe I won’t. This isn’t my first time writing, but this is my first time on the forums. My previous writings were all based on concepts that I eventually either tired of writing, or had difficulty thinking of the next chapter. I sincerely hope that the same doesn’t happen with this story, as Bradycardia and I have developed some really stellar (huehue) ideas that we think can create a great experience for you guys. I’ve been involved with KS for about 2 months now, and I’m amazed at all of the content you guys have created for this single game. I intend to continue that legacy.
"What is an Aoi?"
Aoi is a minor character present in the beta, she appears in both Hanako’s and Shizune’s route. Of the little screen-time we see of her, she appears to be the heiress to the student council along with her friend Keiko. The only real details we can discern from her is her character design, with her slightly clouded eyes implying that she is in Yamaku for her vision. She appears differently in both routes, and we ended up using the Hanako-route version. Other than this, no other information is given about her, making her an effectively blank slate.
"Okay, why Aoi?"
I won’t lie. We’re big fans of pseudo routes such as Scissorlip’s own Suzu Pseudo-Route. The way he gives a character we only have a picture of such depth and personality is astounding to say the least. Aoi is practically the same as her, set on the sidelines, making only a small appearance in the final game. The thing that so fascinates me about this community is that we give a voice to characters who have either lost it along the way, or never had one in the first place. It’s a entire experience that I found myself fascinated by, and when Bradycardia gave me a chance, I jumped at it. Ever since then, our plans for her have begun to grow in scale, until we’re convinced that a unique experience is being weaved by our very hands.
This route starts off nearing the end of the Kenji "route". If you don't remember, or never found out about this, the "Kenji end" is the result of a series of choices in the final game. If you manage to make zero friends, and either scare away, piss off, or insult every one of the Katawa's, you end up getting drunk on the rooftop with your dear friend Kenji. How fun! This is an alternate telling of that end, where certain things don't happen, and Hisao is left with a beating heart, however oddly it may be beating (I feel ya buddy, you only get one ticker).
You’re still here? Cool. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
We Have Liftoff
---Murphy’s Law states that everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
Act 2: Staging
--Part 1: Tidal Locking
---Hisao wakes up to find that not everything is as bad as it may seem.
--Part 2: Aerobraking
---Hisao meets Emi for an early-morning run. Too bad Tsiolkovsky’s equation slipped his mind.
--Part 3: Terra Incognita
---An outside luncheon is Hisao’s Hohmann transfer.
--Part 4: Lunacentricism
---Hisao visits the Shanghai to avoid untimely starvation, only to find a new interest in the skies above.
--Part 5: Kármán Line
---As it turns out, you do need sleep to function. Who knew?
--Part 6: Pre-Flight Checks
---Sometimes a simple fall can start an avalanche, it's better to avoid getting buried.
--Part 7: Roche Limit
---The day of the big race brings upon new revelations.
Act 3: Circulization
Act 4: Rendezvous
Act 5: Recovery
Re: Universal Gravitation: An Aoi Pseudo-Route
Posted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:34 pm
Prologue: We Have Liftoff
I take each step of the concrete staircase two at a time; the only sounds prominent are the sounds of my footsteps. My shoulders slouched, my head held low, I reach the last section of stairs and make my way up them. The grey concrete blends in with the drab walls so well I might’ve well thought I was on my way to purgatory.
I can't help but think of home, with my friends and my school. Instead of hanging out with friends, I am stuck here, heading to the only place I know that may be empty of the constant barrage of strange new faces and awkward introductions.
Not that it matters. Ever since life decided to have it out for me, my friends abandoned me, as if I never had them in the first place. I was a fool to think those relationships could last. But my initial thoughts about coming to Yamaku were mistaken. As much as a blank slate sounded appealing, I only tarnished it in my first few weeks here.
I come to the top of the last flight of stairs, and reach the metal door that leads to the roof of the school's main building. Why am I here? The question finally occurred to me. Why was I climbing this way, instead of enjoying the ongoing festival below? Maybe I didn’t deserve it.
‘Oh wow, Nakai!’ The voice in my head screamed, sarcasm dripping in its indeterminate voice. 'You’ve managed to ruin a chance of friendship with six different people in a week? Wonderful, have a party!’
I sigh, letting all the pent up frustrations continue to pile onto me.
I hate it here.
I reach for the handle, but the door explodes open before I get the chance to grasp it. Before I have enough time to react, a bespectacled figure blows through the entrance and latches onto me. His right arm reaching over my neck and pulling me down to the ground with him. In a tangle of green jackets and red and yellow scarves we fall to the ground.
Damn it Kenji. The one person on Earth I didn't want to see, and the one person at Yamaku I expected to be holed up in his room while the people who actually had lives celebrated below. I guess that makes two of us.
I slam onto the ground, taking the brunt of the impact on my right shoulder. A shock of pain radiates throughout my core and knocks the breath out of me. A sharp sting emanates from my chest.
A gradual, prickling pain constricts my chest, squeezing me of any air left in my lungs. A phantom vice closes in upon my ribcage, robbing me of any resistance. I might've been able to quip something about nostalgia, if it weren’t for the fact that my mind had shot blank with terror.
Maybe this is how I die. Me, Hisao Nakai, a boy who made not a single impression in his incredibly short stay, who’d be all but forgotten in a month or two. Underneath a half-blind conspiracy theorist, drunk on his own self-delusion and 50 proof alcohol. Can’t say its what I imagined, but at this point I can’t see it turning out any other way.
Each beat of my heart brings more pain, and it becomes harder and harder to stay lucid. I clutch my chest, trying to remain calm. In the void between each beat my breath is taken away from me, and in an instant I am on the ground gasping for air.
"Ugh...who are...why did..." Kenji’s voice is practically husky. I can hear the inebriation from here, and I wouldn't find it hard to imagine three empty bottles to add to the nearly empty fourth in his possession.
I grunt, pulling my legs into my chest in a fetal position. The pain in my chest begins to gradually slink away, and I regain the the ability to control my breathing again. Of course I wouldn't be lucky enough to die today.
My heart returns to a normal pace, and any sign that I had even felt a bit of pain to begin with disappears into thin air.
"W-who are you?! Where are my Glasses?!" Kenji continues, searching around like a madman. I squint up at him to notice that his glasses had gotten dislodged in the impact. Kenji struggles to his feet, keeping his balance with one hand on the wall and the other flailing out in front of him, sweeping dangerously through the air. I watch this charade for a few moments before deciding to intervene.
“Your glasses aren't floating in mid-air you dumbass...” It came out more as a prolonged moan than anything decipherable. Good, since I didn’t necessarily want Kenji to hear it.
I grunt, using the handrails to pull myself up, knees continuing to shake from the heart flutter. I get to my feet and my head begins to spin. My body is going through its usual reaction to shock, which thankfully isn’t a headlong dive into something worse.
I look up from the ground to see that Kenji has found his glasses, albeit slightly crooked from the impact. He doesn’t seem fazed by this at all, instead wearing a smile on that questionably sober face of his.
“OHHH, H-hey *hickup* Hisao! I didn’t...didn't realize it was you man!” Kenji slurs, his voice completely mismatching his actions not five seconds before. Each new word introducing more drool to his sopping wet chin.
He smells terrible. Well, ‘terrible’ in the same sense as a medicine cabinet that’s recently had pure rubbing alcohol spilled in it. Maybe with some day-old fish thrown in for good-measure. Every breath he takes the smell of dead brain-cells overloads my senses.
"Kenji, what the hell are you doing out here? Weren't you going to go build a fortress or something?" Honestly, I don’t really care what I say at this point. Anything to make my eyes cease melting out of my skull.
He stops and ponders what I said for a moment, looking more unsteady by the second. He opens his mouth once to speak, but quickly decides otherwise and closes his mouth, instead pointing a stern look in my direction. Well, as stern as a wobbling teenager drunk off his own sense of superiority can be, anyway.
Actually he's looking a little bit to my left, but it's not like he could see me anyway. Now he's drunk AND blind. God forbid he hot wire a vehicle or something. Knowing how his mind works, I couldn't rule out that possibility.
"Why d-do youuuu want to know?" He stumbles forward, reaching out with the hand not occupied by a bottle for something to brace himself with. He finds nothing, so instead he collapses against the wall he was only a few inches from reaching, making an audible thunk as the whisky bottle collides with the unforgiving surface. Luckily for him, it doesn't break. Normally I’d begin to wonder why I was dealing with this, but with everything that has happened in the past few weeks this feels like a undeserved break to me.
"Whatever man. Enjoy the festival, or something." Kenji’s idea of a festival seemed to be getting wasted on a rooftop, then vaulting the fence and killing himself. The fence was about 10 feet high, but he’d somehow manage it, whiskey bottle in hand. Jesus, I’m starting to sound like a bad noir right now.
I begin to walk back down the stairs, trying my best to ignore the drunken slurs of Kenji above me. Something about ‘feminist ninjas’. As much as I wished I had such a dynamic internal delusion as him, it would surely make life more interesting, I just hope he doesn't fall down the stairs. It would be hard and very embarrassing to explain this situation to the authorities. Probably a scandal for the school too. At any rate, it’d be hard to cover it up- Great, now I’m sounding like him.
I reach the bottom of the stairwell and open the metal door leading to the front side of the school. The night air is chilly, causing me to shiver despite wearing long sleeves
People still mingle about here and there, but the festival stalls have long been closed, seemingly abandoned in the middle of the paved walkways. It seems that everyone’s moved to a better vantage point to watch the fireworks. I briefly consider joining the herd, before deciding against it. I’d probably see more than one face that I’d rather not see in that crowd.
I start the long walk back to the boy's dorm, completely fresh out of ideas on how to spend the rest of my night. It's not like I was swimming in opportunities anyway. The only person I actually met was Kenji, and he already had his hands full of scotch, whiskey, and battle plans for the upcoming feminist invasion.
Maybe I could have hung out with Lilly and Hanako, but she was probably still angry at me for throwing her under the bus with Shizune. Plus, I hadn’t had the best first impression with Hanako, and with her personality it was becoming more and more unlikely that I was getting a second chance.
Emi may have accepted me, but I would probably have to sign a paper saying that I would run with her every morning for the rest of my short, miserable life. I wouldn’t put it past her to make me sign it in my own blood either.
Rin is… Rin. I’m not really sure how long I could hold a conversation with her.
I’ve already kicked Shizune and Misha out of my room, now I’m thinking of going back to them? Even I know there’s some intergalactic law against that.
Even though my doctor mentioned that I’d live a long life ages ago, recent events make that prospect seem more and more unlikely. And for what? A sub-par education so I can go to community college and live the rest of my life wanting something I never knew existed? At this point I might as well slap a sign outside my dorm. ‘H. Nakai, Private Investigator’. It’d just let everyone know they’re better off not associating with me.
I hate it here.
I continue walking, with no real destination in particular. I pass by small groups of people here and there, but no real crowds which is a relief. The path I was once walking on takes a sharp turn, before abruptly being cut off at the nurse's building. As much as I’m sure the nurse could act as an on-par psychologist, I’d rather age my self-loathing. Maybe it’s like a fine wine, or a cheese. It’ll ripen when I’m forty years old and stuck in a dead-end job.
I sigh, the cool winter air turning it into a light mist. As much as I know these kinds of thoughts aren’t healthy, I have literally no-one to share them with. They’ll stay inside my head, bouncing around my skull until eventually they break through.
Law of entropy, right?
I continue on, walking in the freshly cut grass. I pass even more people, some setting up blankets as if to have a picnic, others laying on the ground talking with friends, all looking into the night sky. The fireworks aren’t going to be long now.
I stare down at my feet, not concerned so much as the destination as…
To be honest I’m not truly concerned with anything. Maybe if I run headlong into a brick wall I’ll forget how much of a waste I am. With my luck I’d end up like Kenji, an irrational brain stuck in a world of cold rationality.
What was once grass quickly becomes covered in a bed of leaves, and a small dirt path winds forward into a patch of woods. The trees sway slightly in the light breeze, creating a symphony of earthly sounds. It’s slightly comforting, and the turmoil of my internal monologue begins to cool down.
Deciding against better judgment, I follow the path leading into the woods. A canopy of trees covers my head, and the stars are barely visible through the thick tree tops. It really is beautiful out here at night, despite having the overwhelming feeling that an axe murderer will jump out of the underbrush any second.
Too many horror flicks. Then again, is it so far-fetched? The perfect murder-spree for a chainsaw psycho would be a school where a large percentage of the populace either can’t run or couldn’t run far. Unfortunately, at the moment I’d be included in that statistic.
The trees in-front of me begin to thin out, bringing more and more light unto the path ahead. I breathe a small sigh of relief, for a minute I was starting to get worried that I’d lose myself in here. The path below my feet was already covered in leaves, it’d be difficult to find my way out.
But I've already come this far. It would be a waste to turn back now.
The space between the trees ahead begins to become more and more apparent, and in no time at all I find myself standing at the precipice of a small clearing. It’s unremarkable at first, the waving tall grass creating a smooth gradient across the surface, but what my eyes are drawn to lies in the center of the clearing.
A large oak, no doubt standing for hundreds of years, lies dead-center in the clearing. It towers above my comparatively small frame, and I’m left wondering how I didn’t notice it in the first place. It reaches high enough to seemingly touch the stars above, creating some sort of contrast I could describe if I hadn’t been awake for sixteen hours.
Unconsciously, I find myself shambling towards the sight, in awe of it's beauty. My feet find no trouble gliding over the smooth grass. If walking through the stairs was purgatory, then this must be heaven. Quite the spartan heaven, but a refuge none the less.
The oak grows in my sight as I walk towards it, almost consuming my entire vision. Behind the tree, the night sky is radiant with the twinkling of stars. Little dots of white light scattered across a sea of darkness, illuminating the clearing. The full moon, a ball of white against the flat black of space.
I walk forward, my curiosity encompassed by the newly found sanctuary. A place to relax and escape from Yamaku. Escape from Kenji, Shizune and Misha, and Emi. Escape from the cold reality that I'm not going to be "alright". A hero might’ve faced my problems head-on, but I’m no hero.
I hate it here. I don't know these people. I don't fit. It's like trying to shove a square block in a star shaped hole, except the block is ten times larger than the hole and the star is filled with adamite. It’ll never work out.
Yet here I am, standing in the middle of a clearing, at night, in a place I am completely unfamiliar with, gazing up at the sky like an ancient astronomer. It's at this moment that my interest in the sky above is peaked. They’ve never meant anything to me before, why should they start now?
I briefly consider asking myself why I’m here, but that was a question answered long ago in the winter’s cold, where a young boy had her confession told. A Shakespeare I am not.
I pause. Taking in the silence, the only sounds to be heard are the sound of the crickets in the brush and the breeze blowing between the leaves.
"Why am I here?" I say, my voice filled with spite. I say it to no one in particular, yet still expecting a response. Maybe saying it out loud will bring me some affirmation, a resolution to the raging current that decided to replace my brain. Unfortunately, only my crippling doubts and hatred flow through.
But I was wrong. I don't hate it here. I have been running from the real issue at hand. I don't hate Yamaku, I don't hate the students or the teachers, I don't even hate Kenji now that I think of it. I have been avoiding the real center of my pain, the cause of most of my problems.
I don't hate Yamaku, I hate myself.
I sigh, letting the weight of the world that had been crushing me slide off my shoulders. Well, not necessarily. I guess it’s a small relief to everyone else that I’ve realized that the only problem here is me. Everyone else can get along, why can’t I? I suppose that’s another question for another day.
I turn to leave, looking for the little dirt path in the dark. The tall grass that currently envelops me makes that task nigh impossible, and my heart-beat quickens as I realize I forgot which direction I entered from. The forest canopy around me is black, even almost oppressive in my sick mind. With my luck I'll get lost and die out here before-
"Are you here to watch the fireworks?"
That…wasn’t me. Maybe I had been so self-absorbed in my own self-pity that I forgot other people may or may not exist. I turn around to an eyeful of scarred tree bark and waving grass, with no sign of the voice that had questioned me.
“Wha-?” I start, not sure whether to be thankful or not someone had decided to intervene on my self-guilt trip.
“Up here.” The voice calls out again, and this time I realize it isn’t coming from behind me. It’s emanating from above. It’s soft, no doubt belonging to a girl. I push away thoughts that question the motive of the stranger I share the clearing with.
I look up, and finally I lay my eyes upon the source of the mysterious voice. She sat in the crook of the tree, her muted hazel-green eyes staring back down at me. A lock of her brown hair hung over her left eye, and she carefully brushed it out of the way, behind her ear. Her fingertip grazes a small part of her hair, dedicated to a braid pattern, held together with a small red bow. She’s wearing the standard girl’s uniform, which black thigh-highs leading from a pair of pumps.
She cocked her head slightly, and it was only then that I realized she was still waiting for an answer. What could I tell her? ‘I’m here because I have little to no direction in my life, I was hoping to find a nice place to die in the forest.’ Let’s face it, I can’t tell the truth to her without sounding like a pitiful wreck.
Maybe I am a pitiful wreck, but not everybody has to know about it. For now I can keep that to myself, much like other things.
“I’m uhh… just out for a walk.” I say, hoping to hide the surprise in my voice. Seconds pass, I sigh, not really sure how to continue. This was becoming more and more awkward by the second, I should just leave.
“Heh... sorry for intruding on you. I’m a little lost.” I turn to leave, looking out in the distance, trying once more to find the beaten path. The grass is as thick and unyielding as ever.
“Oh, it’s no-”
Brilliant light flashes in the sky, illuminating the clouds and painting the trees a bright red color. The fireworks. I turn back, noticing that the girl is turned towards the sky, shielding her eyes with her hand in a salute. Even still, she’s squinting during every bang. I didn’t think the fireworks were that1 bright.
The rockets continue in a barrage of colors. I find myself slowly forgetting the troubles that have plagued me for the past few weeks. I guess the toddler-side of my brain was finally sated by the lights. I’m finding it harder and harder to be negative about this.
“They’re really pretty, aren’t they?”
I find myself surprised that she would be addressing me. That hasn't happened for a long time.
“...Yeah, they uh... really are. Do they have fireworks every year?”
She turns back to me, removing her hand from her informal salute.
“Are you new?”
The question catches me off guard. I nod quickly, trying to keep the conversation going. Maybe this wasn’t one I would screw up.
“I got here a week ago.”
She giggles, turning back to watch the light show, again covering her eyes with her hand. As much as I try to be positive she’s not completely freaked out by a stranger she met in the middle of the woods, it only serves to remind me of how long it’s been since I’ve heard laughter.
“Welcome to Yamaku! And to answer your question, yeah they do. I heard they had a massive firework show last year.” The more and more I hear her talk, the more I start to notice a strange subvocal behind her voice. It’s almost as if she’s holding back something.
Snapping out of that train of thought, her choice of words catch my attention. Was she not here for it?
She pauses, shifting her position on the tree and leaning her back further into the trunk of the giant oak. The fabric of her school dress makes a slight crinkling noise.
“I was new last year, but I missed the festival.” I can’t help but notice the spite in her voice. Was she the same as me? Was she lost here too? She wouldn’t be the only one.
“Ah, I see.” I manage to say, trying not to let my conflicting emotions reveal themselves.
The rest of the light show is spent in silence. Each rocket sending loud booms through the air. Each explosion creating a thump in my chest, contrasting with my irregular heartbeat. I move towards the end of the tree, sitting down against the trunk, giving the girl enough space to not feel uncomfortable.
Finally, the finale starts, sending what seems like hundreds of bottle rockets and fountains spiraling through the air and exploding in a brilliant barrage of colors and shapes. For the first time in what feels like forever I feel almost content. Like I could watch the lights forever and never get bored. Fireworks must have that kind of effect on people.
But like all things, the finale ends, surprisingly the clapping and cheers of the campus below can be heard from the clearing. I remain seated, waiting for the girl to make the first move. Although I am embarrassed to admit it, I’m pretty sure any venture I make into the forest will result in my name appearing on the back of a milk carton. I hope against all else that she may know the way, and wouldn’t mind me tagging along.
“What’s your name?” she finally asks, breaking the silence. I sit up, using the tree as a means of pushing myself to my feet.
“Hisao Nakai. And you?”
She stands up as well, stretching her back and brushing her hair behind her head. Her face emerges from the shadows.
“Aoi, Aoi Tsukino. Nice to meet you.” Aoi smiles, it’s a genuine one. Everyone I’ve seen in the past week was either forced upon me, or slapped on the face of an adult failing to make me feel better.
As if looking for the trailhead herself, Aoi looks scans the horizon of the clearing, squinting slightly as she tried to determine where she had entered from. Her expression lightened as she apparently found it.
“I can help you get back, I mean if you really are lost. It’s only proper.” How did she know I was lost? Did I really look that clueless? Then again, this clearing would make anyone lost. It probably wasn’t my sub-par navigational skills.
With one swift movement she sweeps her legs over the tree branch and hops off, landing in-front of me. It’s a movement she’s evidently practiced before. She begins to walk back towards the tree line, leaving me by the large oak.
“I would appreciate it!” I call after her.
“Well then hurry up! I don’t want to be out here all night!”
I look back at the stars one last time, thinking about all the things that had happened today. I’m reminded of all the opportunities I’ve wasted, the potential friendships I’ve lost. As much as I know I should blame myself for this, I don’t hate myself as much anymore. Maybe a good light show is all that I needed.
Or a break, if anything. The clapping and cheering begins to stop echoing through the clearing, and the last of the fireworks die out. Smoke trails in the sky, leaving clouds of gray against the dark night sky.
I look down to see that she had already reached the edge of the clearing, waiting for me with her arms crossed.
At the very least, I shouldn't keep her waiting.