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TLNC Chapter 7 – Premonition

Setting up the IRC server was a pain but now I had internet access. A long Ethernet cable ran from the Computer Club to our club. Not that most websites even worked on windows 98 but still, not a single video site worked and it couldn’t even play Flash games but it was better than nothing. An IRC client window was open at all times but there was no practical use for this server, as the only other users of this IRC server was Asahina, in the Computer Club. What next? Were we going to try downloading files via Usenet next or will we be going straight back to messenger pigeons?

It was an unexpectedly rainy day when I ran to the club room holding up my bag to try to cover my head. I was late because I had been held back by the maths teacher. I didn’t bother knocking on the door cause Izumi wouldn’t respond anyway and I didn’t care what Yamada or Tanaka thought. Izumi, Tanaka, and Yamada were all present in their predisposed positions doing their usual thing. Something felt off but I tried to ignore it as I sat down. However try as I may it was impossible to write anything because the sight was too distracting.

Izumi was reading a book as usual but she was doing that while wearing a maid costume.

“You!”

“Yes, Master.”

Izumi said emotionlessly. Was she cosplaying as a maid or a robot maid? If it was the latter then it was spot on.

“Did they make you do this?”

I said pointing at the usual suspects.

“Hey, what kind of accusation is that. We have no idea why she started dressing up. Though it’s a welcome change.”

Tanaka went back to play his retro game.

Thanks but no thanks, I would rather have a genuine Book Girl, rather than a fake maid.

“Disgusting, that you’d think that I would be into 2.5D.”

Yamada cursed under his breath and went back to reading a light novel with a rather embarrassing bishoujo cover. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in it but I was not shameless enough to be able to bring a volume with a 2D drawing of bunny girl to a shop’s counter to buy it. Maybe if I lose all hope in life one day, then I’ll be able to buy them.

So, it wasn’t those two. What was I thinking? That leaves only one culprit. Izumi herself.

“Explain yourself.”

“There is nothing to explain, master. Asahina-sama gave me this uniform, and instructed me to act as a maid in the club room.”

“But why did you listen to her? You wouldn’t listen to her just because she’s into old electronics like you are.”

“I think the Master Ishikawa is mistaken about something. Asahina-sama loves old electronics but I just hate new technology. We are not the same.”

What difference does it make? Also she didn’t really answer my question. I guess I’ll just ask Asahina herself.

I didn’t want to walk all the way to the Computer Club so I sent her a message on the IRC client. I had to look up some arcane instructions on notepad document from the 90s full of unnecessary cutesy risqué ASCII art to send a simple message. How cumbersome.

Ishikawa: Why is Izumi in a maid uniform?”

She must be in the club room now as she replied almost immediately. Don’t tell me she was looking forward to try out this IRC nonsense? And that’s why she dressed up Izumi?

Asahina: I thought that you’d ask that. See the IRC was useful.

[No, it wasn’t. It was only useful now because of some trouble you caused, I wanted to say, but I wasn’t going to argue with her because there was no point.]

Ishikawa: Just answer the question.

Asahina: To promote your club, as well as ours.

[What? Were we going to start a maid café, how’s that related to literature? Besides that would hardly work with a club with just one girl. Of course that’s impossible.]

Asahina: The supervising teacher for our club, Okabe-sensei, asked me to do something to show our activities as a club.

[I ground my teeth. That old fart again. I guess I forgot the prime suspect. This sounds like a familiar story but it should have nothing to do with us this time.]

Asahina: I suggested that our members make a game or some other computer program to show off our skills, but Okabe-sensei insisted that we should make something physical rather than programs…

[Hmm. It’s not like I don’t understand the old man. Physical gadgets are cooler than any software program can be.]

Asahina: He wanted us to make some kind of robot like in the anime he used to watch as a kid, like Astroboy. He stressed that it needed to be able to fly with jet-propulsion in its feet. I think he might be going senile. I kindly tried to explain to him that that that’s impossible for a few high school students to do, but he responded angrily with “nothing is impossible” and then went on some incomprehensible spiel about youngsters like me having lost the hopes of science and the dreams of “the 1970 Osaka Word Expo” that he had being to four times “as a wee lad.” So instead I suggested to him to let us make a “physical” student magazine, which he approved of, after going on another long-winded speech about how he used to make fanzines in his university days and not make any money, unlike the soulless video essays of today chasing ads and revenue.

[Make a robot? Man, that old doddering fool needs to be made to face reality, but he’s worked for so long at the school, and has got nothing else going on for his life, that nobody wants to tell him its time for him to retire already. The school is probably waiting for him to get into an accident, to use that as an excuse to get rid of him. I almost wanted to ask if we could help the school by making that accident happen.]

Ishikawa: Alright, I think I get the situation, but how did that lead to Izumi cosplaying a maid..

[‘And distracting me from my writing?’ Though of course I didn’t add that last last part to my message response to Asahina.]

Asahina: Well, you see Okabe-sensei’s condition for publishing a magazine rather than making a fully-functioning, humanoid robot boy hero was that the topic of the magazine had to be about maid robots. After discussing some further details with my club we decided to have Izumi dress up as a maid, and to make her the mascot of our magazine.

Ishikawa: Why don’t you wear the uniform yourself?

Asahina: That’s confidential.

[Confidential? What’s that supposed to mean? Does she work for the government? Well, whatever, besides that, Izumi’s poker face does suit the image of a robot maid.. But that’s not the problem here.]

Ishikawa: I am tired of having to type everything to you. Just come to the light novel club and explain what the hell is going on. Just don’t be catty with Izumi, ‘kay?

Asahina: I get along fine with Izumi when you’re not around.

What’s my presence or absence got to do with it?

Asahina: Okay. I’ll be there in a minute, even though I wanted to use the IRC server some more.

I minimised the IRC window to the system tray and looked at my incomplete novel draft in despair.

All of this did not explain the one thing, which was what I wanted to know from the start. I tried asking the fake maid again.

“So Izumi-san, why did you accept the offer to be the mascot for the Computer Club’s magazine?”

“Isn’t it obvious, master?”

Another annoying pause.

“The Light Novel Club is going contribute to the Computer Club’s magazine.”

Oh dear. Here we go again. I looked at the cluttered table in the middle of the club room, which didn’t look much better than Ango Sakaguchi’s table. The camera, and the scripts for the website were still littered around. I felt that this club would get even more littered with unnecessary artefacts after this. I joined this club hoping for a place to reduce clutter in my life and focus on my novel writing. Where did my focus go?

The Light Novel Club

The Light Novel Club

Status: Ongoing Author: Released: 2024
Ishikawa Isshin, a freshman at North High has decided to join his high school's Light Novel Club, hoping to get some inspiration and quiet, to work on his novel for a light novel writing contest. Unfortunately for Isshin, the club's non-talkative bibliophilic book girl and old-tech obsessed club president, Izumi, as well as other members of the school faculty are intent on getting in his way by dragging him off to participate in miscellaneous after-school club activities.  Will Isshin remain the reluctant member of the club and continue to regret his decision to have joined? Or will he come to love the club, and discover the true purpose of the Light Novel Club?  

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