'But if you're so apt, you could have invited Toka-chan from the start, couldn't you?
ãThe atmosphere became strange, so I regained my composure and continued.
ãI thought that if Toka-chan was a talented player, it would be strange for Rin to leave her out of it.
'I've been refusing to do anything about that. HEROES is the gaming team of the Takashou Group. It's only natural that Sister Lin is the founder of the team, but it wouldn't be good for the world if the rest of the team was made up of family members.''
'I said it was fine. But it's up to the light to decide, and more importantly, when I invited him, the light was in a very bad way.
ãThe moment Rin said that with a bit of fun, Tonomi gave Rin a sharp look.
'...... Lin, it's mutual, isn't it?
ãIt was the lowest voice I've ever heard. In addition to the sharpness of her gaze, her expression is quite powerful.
ãIt was the first time I'd ever seen Toca intimidate Rin like this, and I was a little surprised.
'Hmmm, I was just teasing you. If you're going to wear a cat suit, you should wear it a little better.
'Yes, sir. ...... I was going through a lot back then, too. I'm sure you're not the only one.
'That was undoubtedly the prime of your life. I'm a better player now, but I had more energy back then...''
ãIn contrast to Toka-chan who looked down with a sullen face, Rin-chan was smiling with an easy-going expression.
ãI don't know how many years ago the two of them are referring to when they say that.
ãAt the very least, it's a past that Tohka doesn't want to be touched, but for Rin, it's a past that she can look back on with nostalgia.
ãAnd there is one more thing that I somehow understood.
ãThe reason why the two of them were having a rough time was probably because of me.
ãThe same reason I was working part-time like crazy.
ãThe accident that day changed our relationship for better or worse.
'Now, let's get back to the story. WGCS All-Stars, this year's genre is 'VR Shooting'.
ãOh ...... I see, I'm a member of the VR division of HEROES, so of course the genre of this tournament will be VR games.
ãI haven't done anything like a pro gamer, and I've been a distributor for so long that I completely forgot about it.
'By the way, the feeling is similar to that of savagery.
ãThat's the kind of thing where you shoot air guns at each other. The number of places where you can play it is decreasing, so it's on the verge of being discontinued. I think that's the kind of savage that Rin is talking about.
ãIf you were to play a real-life machete game, you'd probably get injured by some mysterious force.
'You're more familiar with military combat training, aren't you Nana?
'Sister Nana, you've had military combat experience.'
'I have no such experience!
'Oh, is that right?
ãRin is the one who talks about memories that don't exist, but Tohka is the one who accepts what Rin says.
ãI've never fought in an army. I've fought soldiers, though.
'Hmm, but maybe that's for me.
ãI'm good at shooting games. The best thing about it is that it's VR. It's much more intuitive than using a controller to control a character.
'That's the thing. Besides, there's another member besides us.'
'Oh, there's another member.
ãIt's true that Rin said that one of us couldn't make it, but she didn't say that the three of us would take on the WGCS alone.
ãThere will be four of us, including the other girl who will be substituting for Toka-chan.
'We'll probably meet at the last minute. She's overseas right now.
'I'm giving her money to train as a warrior.
'Really? She's a very motivated girl, isn't she?
ãIt's not easy to go all the way overseas to train for a game.
ãHowever, in this day and age of the internet and online, I wonder if it's necessary to go overseas for training.
'Nana, in this wide world, there are magical places. Sometimes the weakest player in a local group who was playing gaming in an abandoned arcade in a small town in a small country can dominate the world with overwhelming power.
'That sounds like something out of a comic book or novel, doesn't it?
ãI thought it was a story about the weakest of the Four Heavenly Kings,......, but I guess that was a line about the victim.
ãIf you want to be able to get the best out of the game, you need to be able to use it. For example, you may have trained in an arcade-like cabinet, or offline without a network even on a consumer machine.
ãTo win the world by doing so, it's really a magical world. If those people had been released into the sea of the net, the game might have become a different environment.
'It's a pretty famous story in that area.
'Heh, I wonder why only the weakest person in ...... was able to get out?'
'Apparently there were strict departure restrictions, so only the weakest person was allowed to participate in the tournament.'
'I see. You've suddenly returned to reality.
ãA country that has restrictions on leaving the country and doesn't have a good internet infrastructure ...... seems like a pretty dangerous country.
ãBut since Rin-chan is sending you to train overseas, I'm sure she's making sure you're safe.
I'm sure you'll be able to do well. I'm sure Nana can handle it.
ãIf it's me, I don't think I'm a very good communicator.
ãBut she's the one that Rin says is strong.
ãI was definitely looking forward to meeting her, even if it was a little while away.
'I'm so tired!ãThe test is too long!
ãJust as we were finishing our conversation, Mr. Long came back.
ãDespite his words, he looked much healthier than before he went for the examination.
'It's only been about an hour, right? You took the trouble to prepare it for my sister Ron from this morning.'
'It's just for you, it's just for you. Long time no see, Toka. Have you gotten big again?'
'A little more than before. You're still the same, Sister Ron.
'Not in appearance. I'm pretty old, too, and I'm falling apart on the inside.ãWell, I'm glad you're looking good.
ãAfter patting Toka on the head, Ron sat down between Rin and Toka.
ãThe two of them were getting along just fine. In fact, none of Rin's relatives were on bad terms with each other.
'What were you talking about?'
'I was briefly explaining the WGCS to Nana.'
'Oh. I don't know much about it either, but I'm going to support you since you're going to recuperate here.
ãMr. Ron smiled and said so, and took a mouthful of sweets he seemed to have brought with him. Maybe he's hungry because he couldn't eat anything before the examination.
ãIt wasn't very well-behaved, but Toki-san didn't blame him for that, probably because he couldn't eat the heavy breakfast that we had anyway.
'So, what are you going to do after this today?
'I'm going to visit the grave.
ãI'm going to report to my father and mother, the two people I haven't been able to see since that day, about what I've become.
ãI don't have any doubts or regrets, but I have a lot to tell them.
'Oh, okay. Do you want to follow me?
'No, Lin and I will go alone.
ãI turned down Ron's offer because his health didn't seem to have improved at all since yesterday.
ãHe looked fine, but his face was pale. It's nice of you to care for me even in such a state, but you should rest when you need to.
ãAs if he understood my thoughts, Mr. Ron smiled and nodded.
'I see. What are you going to do about Toka?
'I'm training for the WGCS!
ãTo Ron's question, Toka replied with a snort.
ãShe seemed to be back to her normal self, and her expression was bright.
'I've got a lot of tests to go through after this, so I guess we'll just go our separate ways for today. Aunt Toki, is that okay with you?
'Yes, everyone is not a child, so please rest as you like. Butane, Nanaka, I will give you directions when you go to visit the grave, so please call out to me.
ãToki-san then lifted me off her lap.
ãThen she turned to leave the guest room.
ãToki-san is not a mere decoration, but a person with a certain position in the hawker group.
ãConsidering this, he may be on his way to work.
ãPerhaps Rin understood this, and stood up to move immediately.
'All right, then, Nana and I will visit the grave early. ......'
'...... Ah!ãI forgot to tell you that.
ãAs if to discourage Rin, Toki shouted unusually loudly as she was leaving through the door of the room.
ãEveryone's eyes involuntarily gravitated toward her, and their faces turned pale except for mine.
ãToki-san was smiling at us.
ãIt's a symbol of trauma for the other three.
ãBecause when Toki smiles, it's usually when he's scolding a child.
ãNot only Ron who was naughty, but also Rin and Toka probably don't have good memories of that expression.
ãBut for me, it's a little different.
ãIt's partly because I've never been scolded by Toki-san in the first place, but for me, Toki-san's smile has a much different impression.
ãIt reminds me of a memory from when I was very young.
ãYes, it was a memory of when I was sent to the hospital after being bitten by a dog while protecting Rin.
'Nanaka, when you come back, I'll help you out for the first time in a long time. You need to be reminded of the struggle, don't you?
ãThe person who had taught me how to destroy living things was still smiling as she had back then.