Preparations and Technique (5)
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{I don't have a good feeling about this one, host.}

I was standing alone in the waiting rooms of the sparring fields built inside the enormous facility. The soft linoleum flooring hit against my fit while the bright lights dimmed down by the large lockers softly fell against my skin. I could see the inside of the empty field from the tiny LCD screen attached to the walls on one end of the room, right above the door that led into the field itself.

In this bright room filled with the tense dimness of the upcoming match, the system's dim window displayed its bright suggestion.

{Let's run}

"Are you dense?"

{No seriously, let's just run away, fly the coup, de-part, what say? It'll hurt your reputation, but at least your ass will stay unhurt}

I sighed and massaged the bridge of my nose. Crossing my legs, I leaned back on the small bench in the corner of the waiting room. While my sister went ahead and made the preparations for using the sparring field, she asked me to stay here.

"The limiter... and she has been in Agriche for over a year now... I'm going to get beaten up like crazy here," I muttered to no one in particular.

{So it wasn't just a feeling...}

"Of course, it wasn't. But running away isn't an option either. Reputation aside, it'll make things hell for me."

{Hell? Why?}

I leaned back on the bench and looked at the system's window.

"Think of it," I said with a wry smile. "Till now, I've been the F-Ranked leech. That's bad and pretty widespread in the academy, but I've never gotten bullied or even confronted about it, right?"

{Bullying... Yeah, it hasn't happened. So, isn't that more reason to not go for the fight?}

Despite the lack of a physical existence in front of me, I was getting rather used to having serious conversations with the system. It was still difficult to do it, but I didn't mind staring at the walls around me while talking anymore.

"Wrong," I said. "There's been no bullying because the rumors had a caveat. The F-Ranked Leech was leeching off of the 1st ranked student. Behind my name was the might of Zachy Bird's image as the top ranker of the school. No one tried to bother me, because that would mean going against someone close to the top ranker."

{Hmm... I see, that does make sense. So if you go against your sister, that image will disappear?}

This guy was getting smarter by the day.

"That's exactly it. The moment I reject my sister's offer, as the word passes down the grapevine, it will be seen as me being openly hostile toward her. The powerful image of Zachary... Bird, will be overshadowed by the even more powerful image of the academy's Ice Princess and a member of the Student Council."

{Bird guy's protective image will fall short against big sister's inimical image... and the people who had been too scared to bully you will try to do it now that they think you've made an enemy much bigger than the one they will make. Your sister couldn't have taken this into consideration... No way}

While I appreciated the system's efforts, it was rather weird seeing it be competent. I ignored that feeling to encourage this behavior and nodded my head. "She did. She's that type of person, you see."

{This is the worst. And she has such a pretty face too!}

"We had a good run with you being sane. Also, back off! That's my sister!"

{Sorry... If you fight, your F-Ranked persona will completely collapse, huh?}

My eyes fell on the LCD screen behind the system's translucent window. From the opposite end of the training field, a woman with a visage as cold as ice and a gait as noble as a princess' walked into the field and stared right into the camera.

My sister had stepped into the field and was ready to fight.

"You know?" My mind was not completely present as my mouth moved on its own. My eyes were affixed to my sister from the screen, but I still spoke to the system. "I wouldn't have minded going all out at this point. My initial goal was to drop the weakling act after gaining enough power anyway, and removing my limiter would've done it..."

{Why won't you go all out, then? What has changed?}

The system asked as I pushed myself off the bench.

"You. I've already become involved with an organization that is out to murder people with systems. Just how many more are there? What are systems anyway? What danger do they pose? I am not the only one thinking of these questions, but I am the one closest to the answers."

With a smirk, I walked up to the door and placed my hand on the door leading out of the place.

Meeting with my sister after so long and being cornered like this... no matter how hard I tried, it let out dozens of repressed feelings from deep within me. The feelings of longing, of abandonment, the fear, and the affection I held toward my sister. All these feelings that overwhelmed me.

For some reason, they came out differently today.

"These systems and these people might believe that they can do whatever they want, but it's just temporary."

The heartbeat that would've been perturbed just a few months ago was now excited. A creak sounded in the room as I pushed open the door.

"After all, this world is mine."

I wondered too. What had changed? 

My eyes met with the pair of golden eyes that had shown me hundreds of emotions over the year. The eyes that I was seeing after two years, today, they were filled with anticipation.

My sister's derisive words passed over the entire field and reached my ears. "I've been waiting for you, Ralph."

{Hey, hey, hey! That's cool, but you never said what we're going to do now!?}

What to do? 

Make the most of this situation, of course.

"What else? Clench your teeth and prepare for a beatdown."

 

Hello everyone! It has been a long while, I hope you all are doing well and did not fall to the tyranny of Buggy games, or lighter restoration videos!

I am sorry for the sudden break. A medical emergency forced me to stop writing for a while, I am mostly back in now, though. I would also like to apologize if things are hard to follow from the last chapter since this one reads like a direct continuation and a break might've drowned that continuity. And lastly, I am also sorry if it reads weird, the not writing for almost a week might've rusted my skills... maybe.

Anyway! Thanks a lot for reading and sticking around!  

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