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TLNC Chapter 8 – Madness and Civilization

Madness and Civilization

Asahina Asuka, the Computer Club’s President sat at the Light Novel Club’s table with the rest of us. I’d half expected her to bring her club members, at least her club’s vice-president, to tilt the numbers and the conversation in her favour but she came on her own.

I couldn’t be bothered to make tea for everyone, we were the light novel club, not the tea drinking club, unlike a certain Light Music Club, so I carried over some cheese cookies and orange juice on a tray from the fridge. Yamada had dragged an old blue mini-fridge from God knows where into this club room.

Yamada and Tanaka were still uneasy around Asahina and tried to pretend she was not there, and Izumi was reading a French Philosophy book with nary a thought showing on her face. Given that I was the only person who acknowledged Asahina’s presence I guess it was up to me to start the conversation.

“So you want us to help with your club’s maid robot magazine. Fine, but I have a few questions that I’d like to ask on behalf on the club before I commit to this. First of all, why should we help you? Why do you need our help in the first place? Why can’t you do it on your own? And how much work do you want us to do? Is Okabe-sensei aware that you are getting help from the Light Novel Club?”

Honestly, I wasn’t totally against helping this cute girl who helped me get a PC which Izumi would let me use in this club-room, but I was still a little bit annoyed about the IRC server episode she had caused, so I didn’t want to appear like some doormat that would acquiesce to her demand immediately. I wouldn’t call my behaviour dishonest, just precautionary. I wasn’t forced to do other students’ coursework in middle-school, no that didn’t happen. Perish that thought.

Asahina placed her hands together and bowed at me, or I should say, at all of us.

“I am really sorry to trouble your club, but, but hear me out Ishikawa-san, Izumi-chan, and –“

“Yamada and Tanaka.”

One short for an idiot trio, I failed to add. No, I didn’t include myself with them.

“Yes Yamada-san and Tanaka-san, please hear me out.”

Yamada and Tanaka looked visibly shaken by having a cute girl asking them for a favour while calling out their names. Are you that easy Yamada & Tanaka? At least pretend like you don’t care about her!

“Okabe-sensei delivered an ultimatum, it’s not like with your light novel club’s website, the Computer Club actually has to sell enough magazine copies, or else, Okabe-sensei will let the student council’s decision to ban the computer club go through…”

It was hard to resist her downtrodden face but I could not let that detail slip by… The Student Council? So this wasn’t entirely Okabe-sensei’s doing. I needed to ask her about it before I agreed to help her.

“What exactly did you do to earn of the Student Council’s disapproval? I mean, they tolerate this club’s existence, somehow, so I can’t even comprehend what would earn their criticism.”

For emphasis I pointed my hand at a PVC anime figurine, now standing on top of the CRT television, of a girl with small oni-like horns on the sides of her head wearing a tiger bikini. Is that bikini removable? No way. If you could get away with that, what could the Computer Club have done that was so bad? That was the question I had in mind; not whether the bikini on the bratty-looking figurine was removable, but what the Computer Club could have done to earn the Student Council’s disfavour.

“You don’t really miss any details do you Ishikawa-san…”

I gulped but buttering me up will achieve nothing.

“You see… you know…One of the members of the Computer Club created a website project to emulate old visual novels from the 90s which do not have support on modern PCs… so… “

Asahina poked the side of her head like an airheaded character looking for an excuse and then suddenly stopped speaking and started to perspire profusely.

“No, I don’t see what you mean or know what you are talking about, Asahina-sempai, please explain yourself.”

I ate a cheese cookie and poured Asahina-sempai and myself some orange juice.

Yamada was whispering something to Tanaka who giggled like a girl in response. Was there some context I was missing here? It wouldn’t be the first time, nor the last. I was perennially out of the loop in this club room.

“Well, the problem is… there may have been some bishoujo games in there, and the student council came across those files in the school’s servers”

I see. I now understand the situation, and Yamada’s and Tanaka’s lame giggling too. Many 90s “visual novels” were just eroge. Only a real horn-dog would be able to work on a such a project in school. We have got to deal with the culprit to resolve the situation. They have to take responsibility for wasting my time and endangering the Computer Club, or else this will happen again.

“So who was the member of your club responsible for this mess?”

“That’s confidential.”

Asahina-sempai, you are not a certain clumsy time traveller, are you?

“I am sorry, Sempai, but that won’t do.”

I placed my hands together beneath my chin.

“If you want us to help you then you can’t keep any secrets about this situation which might lead us to overlook something. Plus the person who’s responsible for this should be made to bear responsibility, not you or us.”

Asahina’s doughy eyes looked a bit angry, even though I shouldn’t have said anything to anger her. Girls are scary, but then what? Should I act like the Tana-Yama duo.

“I.. I am the president of the Computer Club so I’ll bear all responsibility…”

Was she going to cry? I did not start the day with the thought of making a girl cry.

I sighed audibly. Good grief.

“Okay. If you really don’t want to talk about it, it’s okay.”

I tried to reassure her. Asahina shook her head side-ways.

“No! I’ll tell you who did it, you need to know since I am asking for your help, but only through a Private Message on IRC, then you can decide whether to tell the rest of the light novel club.”

Asahina raised her hand to stop me from speaking, probably sensing that I would tell her that I don’t need to know.

Yamada looked at me like I was trash, for going too easy on this girl. Yamada, please control your misogyny. Yamada narrowed his eyes further, and as if he had read my thoughts he replied: “I only hate 3D girls.” I looked back at him with a mocking look as if to ask, “Are there any other kind of girls?” and he seemed to comprehend that so he just defiantly turned away. Can we cut this lousy telepathic mecha battle scene crap?

“But more importantly, there’s certain benefits for your club, as well as for you personally Ishiwaka-san.”

Asahina stood up, raised her hand and extended her index finger, in an assertive and determined pose like Tohsaka Rin’s character sprite when explaining the Holy Grail War again, or Plato pointing his finger up in Raphael’s The School of Athens Fresco.

I nodded. I am sick of this already so just get on with it Rin, sorry, I mean Asahina-sempai.

This has been a long after-noon, and I was running out of orange juice and out of patience too.

I kicked Tanaka’s foot under the table, cause he had started silently playing on his portable console. I shouldn’t have to listen to this alone. Tanaka turned his head towards Izumi as if to ask, ‘Izumi’s reading a book and reading a better story than this, so why can’t I?’ I moved my head about a millimetre and Tanaka’s eyes understood that my answer was, ‘That’s the club president’s privilege.’

After all this non-verbal communication, I wondered, if maybe we were Newtypes after all.

“I know you are writing a novel for a light novel competition. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone about it, but this is a chance to get your writing out there.”

I couldn’t see my face, as I had yet not developed the out-of-body-perspective capabilities of an omniscient third person narrator, or of a Newtype, but I could see from Asahina’s expression that she could tell I was not convinced by her line of thought. I suppose I owed her some kind of reply.

“What you are saying is not necessarily correct, Asahina-sempai. As you said I don’t want my schoolmates or teachers to know that I am writing a light novel, so then why would I publish a story in a school magazine with my name on it? And if I published it without my name on it, how would that get my name out there?”

A third voice joined, or I should say interjected, into our conversation.

“That’s not necessarily correct, master Ishikawa… Even if you publish it under a fake name, the feedback master will get for master’s story from readers will be real.”

Izumi, the fake maid, chimed in while turning a page of her book, and then went back silent continuing to read as if she hadn’t said anything in the first place. Is a maid supposed to talk to her master with her face buried in a book? That’s why I don’t buy this fake book maid act.

If I could un-invent something it would be all of these 2.5D lies like maid cafes, idols, and *-tubers.

In any case it was time to relent and go with the flow.

“Fine. I can’t go against the Club President’s club policy even if she calls me master. We’ll do our best to save your club but if you expect some hidden literary talent from us, just because we’re technically a book club, then you’ll be sorely disappointed.”

Asahina smiled as she ignored my well-founded warning, and patted me on the shoulder of my uniform’s navy blue blazer.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself Ishikawa-san. I for one believe in your stories, and I am certain that with you and your friends here we will without fail be able to save my club from the student council and to promote the your club too Izumi-chan! I knew that outfit would look so moe on you!”

As Asahina left me to go bother the bookish Izumi, I found myself wandering: where did this unfounded confidence in our club come from?

Also what friends? Where were these so-called friends? Where were they!? Yamada had fallen asleep and was drooling on an unfinished drawing of a mechanical angel girl, Izumi was reading Foucault’s Folie et Déraison: Histoire de la folie à l’âge classique without a care in the world, and Tanaka was playing Dragon Quest on a Gameboy Color.

And on that sombre point the day’s club activities, my short-lived peace of mind, and this day’s club activities came to an end.

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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