Seventeen years old Suzuki Mato took off his helmet and sucked in a deep breath. He pushed his hair out of his eyes as he looked up at the ceiling.
Suzuki, or Sukki as his friends would call him if he had any, got off his bed with dread towards the new day. Less than five seconds out and he already regretted his decision to quit ‘King’s Journey’. There was not much he could do though. The paperwork with Genaco corp had already been signed and he had deleted his avatar.
With a defeated sigh, he picked up his remote on the side of his bed and turned on his TV to the game channel as he prepared for school.
“…Fans from all Over the Globe gathered for this event and it’s rumored to be one of the Greatest in the history of Virtual Gaming! Join us at Genaco in a few minutes as the fight scene that many have confessed to being their Scariest and Most Fun is shared worldwide. Remember, you saw it here First at G1!…”
They sure worked fast, Suzuki thought to himself as he went into the shower. He was not surprised though; the company stood unchallenged at the top of the gaming industry because of their enthusiasm towards gaming. From the CEO down to the mailroom, every employer he had met with genuinely loved games, which was why they gave a hundred and fifty percent in every project.
A sudden outburst of a mix of anime and game battle music roused him from his daydream and he got out of the shower, and took his time dressing, knowing the caller would keep calling till he picked it up.
Dressed in his school uniform (a white long sleeve shirt and navy blue pants and his personal touch; a white hoody), he finally picked the call, and braced for the enthusiastic voice on the other end.
“Mato-kun! That was brilliant! We got so much footage from your fight!” James Shouyou, a half-Japanese half-American shouted excitedly on the other end. The enthusiastic man was in charge of the entertainment section of Genaco and he was the one who had scouted Suzuki a few years back.
“You’re noisy James-san,” Suzuki replied as he made his way to the kitchen, careful not to make any noise so as not to wake his guardians.
His guardians were Mr & Mrs Akio; the worst type of scum on the planet. After his abusive parents died in a fire when he was twelve, he had been taken into the system, where they gave him to the Akio family, a loving family they had said.
The reality was completely different from the image they gave to others outside their home. They argued all the time, and it was clear even at his young age that the only reason they kept him around was for the
When Mr. Daichi got laid off at work, things went from bad to infinitely worse as he began to blame Suzuki for his bad luck and often beat him, only places clothes would cover though. The family had an image to
preserve after all.
It was around this time that Suzuki got into online gaming, first on a computer he salvaged and rebuilt from the junkyard, and later into virtual gaming. After Razznik defeated the king of giants, James approached him and his parents for a business deal; one his guardians were only too thrilled to accept.
For exclusive footage from Razz’s adventures, they paid him an amazing amount of money, not that he knew the amount; it never reached his hands since he was a minor.. His guardians handled all of that. The weapons and gear Razz crafted also sold at the social market for a nice amount of money, which Suzuki used to pay for the game subscription among other things.
Hoping the money would bring peace, Suzuki never asked for a cent, but the couple found more reasons to argue. The wife blamed the husband for not bringing money in, and called him out on living on a child’s income, and the dad in turn beat him up, blaming him for his failures.
James voice cut him out of his murderous reverie, and for once he was thankful for the older man’s never-ending enthusiasm.
“Ah, sorry sorry. We sent the payment to your account as usual, with a bonus for your excellent acting! Sent shivers down my spine.”
Suzuki laughed nervously, feeling slightly guilty since some of it was not actually acting. “I have to go James-san.”
“Ah, sure sure,” James said . “When you return to the virtual world, call me. I am sure you will have more awesome adventures to share.”
“A man your age should not say awesome, James-san,” Suzuki chided lightly and cut the call in the middle of James’ astonished gasp.
He made a light morning breakfast for his guardians, and packed a lunchbox for himself. He placed his lunch in his school bag, the rest in the freezer and walked out when he was sure everything was well prepared.
The year was 2024 and the world had changed a lot in the past decade since the discovery and development of a new power source officially called ‘Nesla’ after its founder but more fondly known as coils.
The Japanese scientist launched the country right above the superpowers in economic growth, as it rendered petroleum obsolete and had the ability to produce more energy than an entire solar plant.
The rest of the details were unknown to Suzuki as the governments liked to keep their projects tied down; not that he cared either way. A brief period of panic among many countries that resulted in both domestic and international wars, nearly escalated to world war III, but an invention from America focused the tension on something else.
The first ever mobile-suit, bulky and slow, yet possessing the power of several tanks and the armor of bunkers gave pause to the war. From then on, the world powers had devoted their time and resources to
measuring their sticks in order to see whose was bigger every year in a ‘friendly’ expo.
The good news was that while the military were busy developing new weapons, a Russian scientist finally created the first virtual drive using the coils as a source of power. This invention was welcomed dearly by the populace who employed it in everything from workplaces to video-games much later.
Naturally, schools were exempted from the virtual world, and it was illegal to conduct classes for children in university and below online.
As Suzuki walked to the train station, he heard people chatting non-stop about about the ‘Demon King’ and knew the show must have started. He got on the train, and even there some girls were giggling about how hot the Demon King must be in real life and he cringed.
Tired of hearing everyone talking about Razznik, he plugged in his earphones and listened to his mix as the world zoomed by.
Suzuki got off together with several other students and leisurely strolled to school, ignoring the intolerably happy teenagers rushing about around him. If asked why he hated people so much, he would simply answer that he did not hate people; just could not stand them.
It was the first day of the new school year, hence everyone’s excitement, though he could not see the appeal. It would be another year of sitting in a classroom forced to listen to things he already knew.
The name of his school was Shinju High, a regular government school, and as he walked through the gates, he realized he had just one more year of compulsory school left, and then freedom. He almost smiled at the thought.
The morning assembly was like every other one, bland and tiresome. It dragged on forever, but soon he was free from the torture and in class for homeroom. His homeroom teacher that year was Ms. Homuri, a brown haired voluptuous lady in her late forties who taught English. She had so many rumours flying about around her, some bad some good that he had chosen to ignore.
After the obligatory greeting, she quieted down the class and prepared to give her opening speech when the the overhead speakers blared loudly, “Eh… Mato-kun, Suzuki Mato-kun, please report to the Principal’s office. I repeat Suzuki Mato-kun, report to the Principal’s office.”
Perplexed by the call, he got up from his seat, drawing the stares of his classmates, most just noticing him for the first time. He ignored them, stepped out to the empty hallway and made his way to the Principal’s office.
The principal was a tall, greying man in his fifties with a face that was always smiling. His office was lightly decorated with a sparrow on his desk and some weird excuses for art hanging on the walls. On the opposite side of his desk were two chairs for visitors, and at the centre of the room sat two sofas facing each other, with a glass table in the middle.
The sofas were occupied by two generic men in black suits and matching glasses. Only douches and government agents wore black sunglasses in doors and something told him it was the latter.
It gave Suzuki the creeps.
“Ah, Mato-kun,” his Principal, Daichi Keisuke said, when he walked in. “These gentlemen are here to see you.”
“Nice to meet you,” Suzuki greeted flatly and generic #1 and #2 picked up on his tone.
“I see high school kids these days do not accord their elders with respect,” said #1 as he stood up and stared Suzuki down.
Huge! Suzuki thought as he took a step back so he would not have to strain his neck. Suzuki was by no means short, standing at 180cm, but the man towered above him. However, he was born with stubbornness in his blood that landed him in trouble all the time. “I believe I greeted you,” he said, glaring back at the man. “You called me here. If you do not have anything to say, I will return to class.” He made it all the way to the doorknob…
“Ah, about that Mato-kun,” Daichi said rather nervously. “You do not go here anymore.”
“Haa?!” Suzuki screamed in disbelief as he whirled around. “What do you mean by that?!”
“You are coming with us,” #2 said and the voice caused him to raise an eyebrow in question. He took his glasses off and Suzuki realized ‘he’ was actually a ‘she’. Still generic though, with the short black hair and suit.
“What are you talking about?”
“Your guardians already signed guardianship over to us,” she explained, holding up few sheets of paper which he snatched and scanned through.
Unbelievable! They had really sold him out, after everything he had done for the ungrateful wretches. One last year. That was all the time they had left over him and the wretches had cashed in before their favorite purse walked out of their lives.
“This cannot be legal!” he yelled in protest as he tossed the papers back at #2.
“I know you are shocked, but calm down and let me explain,” she said in an attempt to soothe his anger, but he was having none of it.
“I have heard enough” he said, and turned to open the door but #1 grabbed his shoulder stopping him. “Get your hands off me,” Suzuki warned as he paused over the doorknob.
“I cannot do that kid,” #1 replied with a smug look. “Now just listen to the adults a…!”
His speech was cut short when Suzuki suddenly bent forward, kicked his legs, disrupting his balance. He fell forward and Suzuki caught him over his back. He grabbed his collar, placed his other hand on his mid-riff and tossed the larger man over him, slamming him on the door.
“I warrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr… ” Suzuki stuttered and fell to the floor as fifty-thousand volts of electricity messed up all his voluntary skeletal muscles and knocked him out.
“W-was that necessary?” Daichi asked nervously cleaning the sweat on his face with a towel.
“He was reported to have extreme anger issues,” #2 replied holstering her taser. “Do not worry. Your school will receive healthy donations by tomorrow.”
“Y-yes,” the principal stammered.
“Get up,” she said to #1 who stood up angry and embarrassed by what had just transpired. “Damn kid,” he spat as he lifted Suzuki roughly and tossed him over his shoulder.
“Package acquired,” she said to someone on her earpiece and the trio exited the school via an unmarked van waiting near-by.