“We’ve studied the best we could on how Artificial manipulates the memories of all those that live here. Apparently, it specifically targets humans. Whether it be from brainwaves or something else, we don’t know yet. The other living creatures, the animals, are affected only mildly. It might be that compared to humans, manipulation of their memories aren’t as vital since they move more along the lines of instincts. No doubt, if Artificial was somehow made, it’s made with the mind of holding humans, or at least beings of high sentience.”
“But those that broke away, the reason was because of this;”
Senpai showed me images of what looks to be a snake like microbe.
“What…what is this?”
“This is the virus that inhabits our bodies and what caused what happened to us.”
My jaw dropped as I looked through the images.
“We call it a virus, but actually it is more of a parasite. It is a living creature; thus, it can evade Artificial, but it isn’t something that could actually be classified as living or sentient. When it enters the body of its host, it bonds itself to the bloodstream and restructures the inside of their body. Changing the organs and the internal structure of that person into…err…something different from a normal human being.”
“And by doing this, the infected person eventually drops off Artificial’s senses. They will no longer be manipulated by Artificial, their thoughts become contradictory and they finally break free.” He explained.
“You’re telling me this…, this thing is inside all of us?! Inside of me?!” I cried out in fear.
“…yes.” Senpai calmly replied.
This thing is inside my body. It mutated me and now…
“How do we get rid of it?”
“I said, how do we get rid of it!?” I repeated as I got out of my seat.
Everyone was silent. They all looked away, trying to avoid my gaze.
“You can’t…” The President answered coldly.
“WHY!?” I demanded as I stared into his frightening eyes. I was sweating profusely, as I awaited an explanation.
“The virus…it is impossible to get rid of is because it is what’s keeping us alive.” Senpai explained.
I was in shock. My mind was blank as I slowly stepped back.
As I nearly fell over, Hideyoshi quickly caught me.
“Are you okay?” He asked with concern.
I did not respond. Trying to process everything they just told me. This thing is inside my body…, I’m… I’m…
“Senpai, Prez, I think that’s enough! Throwing all of this at her, it’s just too much to handle all at once!”
“No…!” I protested as I pushed him away and got back up on my feet. “Tell me! Tell me more about this virus! Tell me more about what happens to those who become infected!”
“Hmm…well, that’s really all we can say. The virus isn’t contagious and how it chooses its host is a mystery. Our original theory was that this was what helped us escape from Artificial’s grasp, until we found you.” Senpai said.
My stomach felt like it was in knots, as I await his further explanation.
“You broke away despite not being infected. It should’ve been impossible, yet you did. I tried to scan your body, but I did not find any notable differences. You are the same as us, yet at the same time you are not. Um…I’m not sure how to say it…”
“You have my x-rays, don’t you? Show me.”
“Eh? You don’t really need…I mean…”
“SHOW ME!” I demanded.
Senpai hesitantly brought out my x-rays. As I looked at them, even I could tell, something was strange. All my x-rays were similar yet different from theirs. It was even more of a mess.
“Don’t take it the wrong way! It might be a little different, but your body is functioning just the same-“
“Monster…” I mumbled. “We’re…I’m a monster…”
“Whoa, hey now! Let’s take a little step back. Nobody is saying that, it’s just…well…”
“Well what? Is it not true? If we’re not humans anymore, then what are we?” Anger was building up inside me. They were dancing around the topic, yet I already knew what was in their mind.
From my eyes and theirs, there was no doubt we can only be viewed as abominations.
“Maybe superhumans would be a better term.” The president suddenly interjected.
I turned my head to him. His eyes glared at me, but this time I did not feel scared. I could instead only feel anger, as if I had just heard something ridiculous.
“You’re kidding me.” I said with utter contempt.
“Because of the virus, our bodies have become much more durable. Light wounds, bruises, they are healed almost instantaneously. Even certain fatal blows that would otherwise kill a normal person could be survived by us. You might not really feel it yet, but strength, stamina, speed; all those have been increased drastically for you.” The president explained to me. “Although at a price.”
I clutched my fist.
“And that is?”
“Kenjirou, you didn’t have to bring that up. I was hoping to avoid it.”
“Tell her Mitsuhide.”
“Haa…as Kenjirou said, the virus does seemed to have given us increased abilities. But at the same time, for the virus to fully function, it requires a…um…a terminus of sort. Basically, a place where it could reside. And usually, that ends up being…”
“A part of our body.” Hideyoshi interjected. “It takes a part of our body, destroying its functions to add its own.”
“Tsk…” Senpai clicked his tongue. “A part, my ass.”
I slowly slumped back into the chair. My head hurts as I try to process all this information. It was all such…nonsense.
“And how do I know if anything you’ve said is true? How do I know this isn’t some elaborate prank by a bunch of crazies?” I said as I cover my hand over my face.
“Prank?! Are you serious? You think we’re doing all of this for laughs?” Mitsuhide-senpai replied angrily. “And didn’t you just said earlier you didn’t doubt what we’ve said was the truth?! What the hell are you-?”
“Mitsuhide, calm down.”
He immediately backed down at the president’s request.
I sat there in silence. It was such a stupid thing to say yet, I did not know what else to say anymore. I knew none of this was a lie, none of this was a prank. But at the same time, I also didn’t know what else to think.
“I’m leaving.” I quickly picked myself up and turned towards the door.
“Where are you going?”
I did not respond. I just wanted to leave.
“Takatora, I hope we can see you later. Please consider our offer to join the club.” The president said to me as I was about to open the door.
I froze. There was so many things in my mind. So many things I wanted to say. So many emotions all bottled up. And each one of them were only;
“You’re all crazy. All the things you’ve just said, all of this. It’s just…insanity.” I blurted out without even turning around.
“Hey, the hell are you trying to say?” Senpai exclaimed.
“No, I will not stand for this! We told her everything we knew, risked our lives to save her and this is how she responds? This is why, you god damn kids…”
“Senpai, don’t do this.” I heard Hideyoshi plead.
I turned back to look at him, a feeling of rage gathered within me.
“I didn’t ask you to save me!”
“Oh ho! You’re really going down this route? Well, let me tell you what, Ryuuko;”
“Don’t call me that. I don’t know you.” I spat.
“You can run and cry all you want, it changes nothing Ryuuko.” He continued, ignoring me. “We’re extending our hands to you because we’re the only ones left to give a crap. Nobody else in this damn world is going to even glance at you, not even that so-called friend of yours. And know this;”
“SENPAI NO!” Hideyoshi cried out in protest.
“It was all because of you that the virus in our body has mutated even further. Calling us monsters, but you’r-“
I immediately grabbed the phone from the table and threw it to the ground, smashing it.
The room was then silent. I felt the eyes of everyone as they stared at me in shock, their gaze piercing my body. Yet I could only feel nothing but uncontrollable rage.
I swung open the club door and ran away as fast as I could.
The boys watched as Ryuuko ran out of the clubroom. Takuya called out to her, but she was already gone.
“Geez, what a crazy girl. She could’ve killed me!” Juntaro’s voice came from another phone.
“God dammit senpai! Why the hell would you say something like that?! You knew she was already overwhelmed by all of this yet you’ve still said something so senseless.” Takuya yelled at him.
“She insulted us after all we’ve done for her! Not our fault she’s all hysterical.”
“That was still a word too much, Mitsuhide. It was unnecessary.” Kenjirou calmly replied, while adjusting his glasses.
“Prez, you’re siding with him on this?!”
The president remained silent.
“Prez, you’re really…” Takuya sighed as he made his way to the door.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going after her.”
“I see. I won’t stop you, but you know she must process all this on her own. You’ll only make it worse.”
“It can’t be any worse than what senpai just did.” He replied as he left the room.
“Bah! Kids. Why couldn’t we have ones where they don’t make such a big fuss over all of this. Isn’t that right, Kenjirou?” Juntaro laughed but immediately stopped when Kenjirou glared at him. He was not amused. Without responding, he went over to clean up the mess on the ground.
As he picked the shattered glass from the ground, it cut his fingers.
“Hey, you’re…you’re not mad, are you?”
“As I said, you’ve said a bit too much. All of that was unnecessary.”
“…I got caught up in the moment.”
“Hmph…” Kenjirou grunted in reply. He walked over to the window and saw the girl running out of the building.
“So, um…do you think she will still join us?” Juntaro asked nervously.
“I do not know.”
“Ah…damn. Well, let’s hope Takuya can do something about this.”