Hunt

(Not the whole chapter. I’ll finish it up some time later.)


“Games really are the way to go, I think.”

It’s the third day since the establishment of the Neighbours Club.

Yozora said this abruptly.

Aside from Yozora and I, Kashiwazaki Sena who joined yesterday was also in the clubroom. For some reason, she brought a tea set into the room and was sipping some black tea.

“What? Games?”

Sena said with a pout.

“Yozora… I told you, only kids would be attracted by games.”

Yozora made a face, like my comment was downplaying her idea.

“You’re too naive, Kodaka. The mainstream games highschoolers play these days aren’t the type you play at home on your Super Falcons or Omega Drives.”

“…What’s a Super Falcon? Or Omega Drive?”

“She just randomly said some names of the home consoles she knows. It’s all ‘Super’s and ‘Omega’s, so it’s got to be awesome, right?”

“Well, the name does sound pretty amazing.”

“That doesn’t matter!”

Yozora slammed the table.

The impact made the teacup placed in front of Sena splash out its content onto Sena’s hand.

“Oww-! What’s wrong with you, you fox!”

“Tch… why didn’t it fall over…?”

“Did you do that on purpose?! You really are the worst!”

“Hm? What are you talking about? More importantly, the games.”

Smoothly ignoring the complaints of the teary-eyed Sena, Yozora fished inside her bag.

“This… is mainstream gaming these days!”

What Yozora took out was a portable gaming device.

Even I knew what it was.

Playing States Portable (PSP).

I think my little sister has one.

“I went to a restaurant by myself yesterday and it was really unpleasant, the table behind me was awfully loud. But then I saw that it was four highschoolers who looked like they were enjoying themselves with this.”

Come to think of it, I’ve never gone into a restaurant by myself before… was the completely unrelated thing I was thinking about.

“Apparently, it’s popular among highschoolers these days to bring portable games into these restaurants and whatnot and play connected.”

“So what?”

Sena asked indifferently as Yozora switched on the PSP.

It was apparently in sleep mode, as a game was displayed on-screen right away.

“Those jerks at the restaurant were playing this game called ‘Monsters Hunters’. I looked it up, seems like it’s really popular right now.”

I knew about this game since my last school, from a guy who played it.

Monsters Hunters – popularly known as ‘MH’.

It’s a game where you become a hunter in a fantasy world and hunt monsters and animals in stages like plateaus, deserts and mountains.

“You can cooperate and play together with other people in this game. Other players rely on good players, so you can make friends just as you’re playing along. And you can trade items too, so it’s easy to make excuses for talking to someone – ‘I’m looking for this item, do you have it?’ or ‘Can you trade me that for my Rare Item?’, stuff like that.”

“…Now that you mention it, a girl in our class plays it, too. Seems like girls play games these days as well.”

That was Sena.

“So what you mean is, basically, as our club activity, we train ourselves on this game, get some rare items, and make friends?”

Yozora nodded to what I said.

It was questionable whether it would go that smoothly, but at the very least, it’s good to try some actual club activities.

“So, bring a PSP and MH next Monday.”

“Hm, well, I guess I can’t help it… I’m not interested in games, it’s annoying, and I don’t like your idea, your face, your attitude, or your existence in general, but I’ll go along with it.”

“Oh look, a fly. (monotone)”

Smack.

Yozora suddenly slapped Sena’s nose as it nodded along with Sena’s complaints.

“Whaddayou doin’-?!”

Sena complained as she held her nose with teary eyes.

“Keep your direct assaults at a reasonable level, Yozora… oh, and Sena, do you have a PSP?”

I asked Sena what was on my mind, and she answered, looking like she was about to cry.

“No, I don’t have something like that. But if I say I want it some guy will give me one.”

“…Just die, Boobs.”

Sena answered as though it were natural, while Yozora spat out her usual abuse.

Monday.

As promised, I brought a PSP loaded with MH.

I borrowed it from my sister, and bought the game myself.

Yozora and Sena brought theirs as well.

“You practised the controls and stuff, right?”

“Yeah.”

I nodded at Yozora’s question.

“Hmph, well, I was busy, but it can’t be helped, so I tried it out and played for a bit. As expected for a popular game, it’s quite well-done. Though games are just the playthings of children, after all.”

As ever, Sena spoke with strangely dubious honesty.

“Well, let’s get started, then.”

Yozora said, and we all started up our PSP’s.

“Who will be the host?”

Said Sena.

“It should be the one with the highest Rank, right?”

That’s true — Yozora nodded to what I said.

In this game, the player who hosts can accept Quests (trivial objectives, stuff like “Defeat Monster A” or “Bring Item B”) and everyone who is connected can challenge it together.

The rank of a hunter rises the more Quests he clears, and the number of Quests he can accept also increases.

The higher-ranked and more difficult the Quests are, the easier it is to get good items, so it’s better for the player who can accept those quests to host.

“What’s your rank, Kodaka? And you, Cow?”

…At some point, it was no longer ‘Cow-tits’ or ‘Boobs’, but became simply ‘Cow’.

Yozora had said that nicknames are used by mutual friends, so it seems that, to her, ‘Cow’ or ‘Boobs’ are not so much nicknames as they are insults.

“I’m still at 1.”

I had played about five hours yesterday and the day before that, but it was pretty difficult to play alone, and I hadn’t cleared that many Quests.

By the way, the highest is Rank 5 so apparently, at that point, all the Quests are tough ones that you can’t clear by yourself.

“Ha, I’m 3.”

Yozora said proudly.

The enemies in this game are fairly strong right from the start, and a lot of the time they even attack in groups, so it’s pretty immense to get to 3 by yourself. I can understand why she would brag.

“I’m 5.”

Sena, brushing her hair up, said this smoothly and strangely triumphantly.

” “5?!” ”

Yozora and I were shocked.

“A game like this is nothing to me. I’m such a genius even when it comes to games — I wonder if I’m perfect in every single way?”

“Shut up and die, you annoying piece of raw meat, just go get cooked to perfection and die.”

As ever, Sena displayed her own greatness, while Yozora naturally spewed out insults like she was breathing.

Raw Meat and Well-Cooked Meat are items that appear in MH, by the way. Eating Well-Cooked Meat will recover your stamina, but eating Raw Meat will get you an upset stomach.

“…Sena, didn’t you just say you ‘tried it out and played for a bit’? Just how obsessed did you get?”

“I-It’s not like I’m obsessed with it or anything!”

Sena denied this with a slightly red face, but that was a lie no matter how I thought about it.

It’s common for Quests to be hour-long events, so even if you clear every Quest without any problems, it would take tens of hours to get up to Rank 5.

“Let me see your total playtime, Meat.”

Yozora suddenly took Sena’s PSP away from her. “Meat”?

“Hey, hold it! Don’t just look at it!”

“Total playtime… 53 hours…?!”

Yozora’s face was blank.

“And all these items I don’t know! And the equipment’s so cute! This half-baked piece of meat’s getting so uppity!”

She threw the PSP at Sena.

“What’re you doing, idiot! ~~~?!”

Trying to catch it, she banged her shins on the table.

Sena cowered in pain as tears appeared in her eyes.

Yozora reached out to Sena with a handkerchief, perhaps actually feeling that she did something wrong — or so I thought, but she suddenly started scrubbing away at Sena’s face.

“Wha, stop it, you stupid fox!”

…A few seconds later, Yozora stopped wiping her face, and Sena rose unsteadily.

There were deep black circles around her eyes.

As Yozora had wiped off her make-up, you can see the black circles she had been trying to hide.

“So after you went home on Friday, you’ve played this the whole time since Saturday, huh.”

“Mm…”

Sena moaned when Yozora pointed at her.

“Ha… just a game, huh…”

Her face turned red as Yozora looked at her scornfully.

“A-A lion concentrates all its strength even when just hunting monsters! Not that a fox would know that!”

Oh, she’s defiant again.

“Anyway, it’s okay for me to host, right?! As warm-up, I’m going to accept a Quest that’s reasonable for Rank 3, so hurry up and get ready!”

“Hmph, I don’t like it, but I’m an adult, so I’ll go along with the little kid who gets completely absorbed in things like games.”

Yozora started working on her own PSP while continuing with her stinging remarks.

I connected my PSP with Sena’s as well.

…Yozora was stunned, but in my mind, I had a slightly better opinion of Sena now.

Even if it’s ‘just a game’, it’s extraordinary to use even your sleeping hours to play for hours.

It’s charming how Sena says all these things but seriously makes an effort with club activities.

…Well, it’s still bad for the body, so some restraint on the non-stop gaming thing is probably needed.

The three of us having prepped our equipment, the scene changed from a village that was our base, to a mountain district where monsters wandered.

As you Rank up, the number of Stages also increases, but this was a Stage that I had been to during the beginning Quests.

The characters we controlled were standing at the starting point.

In this game, you can configure various small details for the character who would become a copy of yourself, such as gender, physique, hairstyle and hair colour, and the graphic also changes based on your equipment.

Yozora and Sena were both female characters and equipped with pretty impressive-looking weapons and armour. Compared to them, my character was clearly poorly outfitted.

“What’s with that look?”

Yozora laughed nastily.

“I can’t help it. I just started.”

“Not your equipment — I mean your actual character.”

“……”

My character was a man, and had long platinum-blonde hair.

“Ha, so you want to be a long-haired foreigner, Kodaka?”

Sena took advantage of the situation and laughed.

“Your face is the handsome-youth type, too. It’s sad how utterly different it is from the real person.”

“And his name is 【Hawk】, that’s so cliched. It’s because your name has ‘hawk’ in it, right?”

“Leave me alone! It’s just a game, it can be a bit different from reality, right?”

I said this, discouraged by the judging pair.

” “…Hold on?” ”

“……”

Sena’s character, by the way, looked like it was literally a copy of herself with her face, hairstyle and physique. Her name was also just 【Sena】. Just how much does this girl love herself?

The appearance of Yozora’s character, her hair and her physique, was also like the person herself, except for the loli-style face, with big, round eyes and a sweet smile. Her name was 【Night】. I think it’s pretty cliched to use that because ‘night’ is in her name, too.

A strong urge came to laugh and say, “You’d love to have an attractive face like that, wouldn’t you? Haha!” as payback for her making fun of me, but I held back.

“All right, let’s start hunting.”

Said Yozora, and 【Night】 ran forward.

In the next instant.

Swish–!!

The gigantic sword equipped by 【Sena】, as large as she was tall, slashed open the back of 【Night】!

“WHAT?!”

【Night】 fell with an impressive spray of blood as Yozora gave a hysterical scream.

As the force of a Rank 5 Hunter’s favoured greatsword is really no joking matter, 【Night】 died in one hit.

All our screens turned dark and we were returned to the beginning (not that I had moved much after entering this Quest).

In this game, a player’s attacks hit not only enemies but also other players.

A total of three deaths among all players means you fail the Quest, by the way.

We’re already at one strike.

“What are you doing, Meat?!”

“Aha, sorry about that. I pressed the wrong button by mistake. Let’s regroup and get hunting.”

Sena answered nonchalantly.

MH’s controls are fairly complex and fully use all of the PSP’s buttons, but there was no way a high-Rank player like Sena would make a mistake like that.

…She didn’t work hard for tens of hours for the sake of doing this, did she…?

It’s apparently true that there are online games where the purpose is to kill other players, but MH isn’t like that.

“It can’t be helped if it’s a mistake… so, let’s go…”

Yozora said, stifling her emotions.

【Sena】 ran forward, and my 【Hawk】 followed.

But for some reason, 【Night】 ran out in the opposite direction, and the instant she got to a certain distance,

“Ah, I pressed the wrong button! (monotone)”

She aimed at 【Sena】 and fired her crossbow.

Splat–!

A bolt pierced 【Sena】’s head, and blood came spewing out.

“How was that not an aimed shot?!”

Sena complained.

“I wasn’t aiming for you. I hope you can stop saying these baseless things.”

“…Hmph. Well, I’ll forgive you this time since I’m a nice person.”

Despite the crossbow bolt in her head, 【Sena】 abruptly rose and used a healing item.

Apparently, her defense was high enough that she didn’t die in one hit.

“Tch…”

“Did you go ‘tch’ just now?! You did do it on purpose!”

“Hey! This is no time to argue!”

Smelling the scent of blood — is not really something I can do, but suddenly, four giant wolves attacked from a nearby shadow.

I hurriedly readied 【Hawk】’s sword.

“Hmph, get back, Kodaka. I’ll clear out the trash.”

No sooner had she said this that 【Sena】 headed for the wolves with greatsword readied.

Chop–! She cut down a wolf with a single stroke.

“Ahaha! It’s ten billion years too early for a worthless dog like you to oppose me! Baaaka baaaka!”

Following that, she took down the second, and headed for the third.

Still, Sena’s really getting into it, isn’t she?

The greatsword has high power but low attack speed. However, 【Sena】’s attacks landed soundly on the agile wolves.

“Last one!”

The instant 【Sena】 ran forward towards the last wolf,

Fwop-! Fwop-! Fwop-!

Taking an arrow to the back of the head and two arrows to the back, 【Sena】 fell, spurting blood.

A smile appeared on the offending Yozora’s face.

“Yes! This time I’ll finis — I mean… I was going to support you, but I missed. My bad.”

【Sena】’s stamina was depleted and the screen became dark — once again, we returned to the starting point.

“That was totally on purpose!”

As soon as we started, 【Sena】 came swinging at 【Night】.

Slash–!

【Night】 died.

As we had a total of three strikes, we failed the Quest and went from the field to our quarters.

“…You… Meat…”

“What is it, stupid fox…”

Yozora and Sena glared at each other, their faces twitching and tightening.

“Hey, guys… it’s a cooperative game, so how about we play cooperatively?”

For the time being, I tried persuasion.

Surprisingly, both nodded.

“…That’s true. Let’s work together for the next hunt.”

“Hmph, a Rank 5 genius beauty is going to help your lowlife hunter out… be sure to thank me.”

Remembering my unease, we started the Quest again.

“DIE–!”

Three seconds in, my fears were proven correct!

Without even attempting any pretenses, 【Sena】 rushed to kill 【Night】 with all her strength as soon as the scene changed.

“Ha, talk about obvious!”

【Night】 promptly rolled to the side and avoided 【Sena】’s attack.

One arrow struck 【Sena】 in her abdomen, but she dodged the rest.

【Sena】 tried to give chase as 【Night】 opened the distance between them, but for some reason, she began to stagger.

“Wha, huh-?! Why am I paralysed?! I can’t believe you shot a poison arrow at your ally! Are you stupid?!”

As Sena shrieked, Yozora said with a face filled with killing intent,

“I hadn’t think of you as an ally for an instant. You’re — just a piece of meat.”


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