BTOG 239 – Before the final.

Audiobook: https://youtu.be/dsN8Ra0CBnY

Though it wasn’t so much that it bothered me.

Still, I wanted to avoid this blurring in my chest before the finals. So I stopped Rinne on our way to the stage for the finals.

“Rinne.”

“Yes, what’s wrong?”

“I need to ask you something. Can you take a moment of your time?”

“Yeah, sure. Nana, Touka, go ahead.”

“Okay.”

“got it.”

Linne then turns around to me while letting Nana and Touka go first. As usual, her eyes are never wavering, she silently waiting for me to speak.

I think this may be the first time I’ve had a face-to-face talk with Rinne like this.

“Do you remember the time you picked me up from that facility two and a half years ago? You showed up out of the blue, and in just a few days, I was thrown into a new environment.”

“Of course, I remember. I had a hell of a time finding you.”

“It was?”

“Of course it was. What they are doing is a classic crime. Still, they are very cunning, and they had a very strong security system. It was hard to find them first, and it should have been even harder to contact them. But the moron of a director had already blown the whistle before that, so I was able to get in the middle quite easily.”

Oh, this was the story of that time.

“So, what is it that you want to ask me?”

“There are two things. The first is what Rinne wants from me. The other is, what does Rinne herself want? I have already stepped on the starting line. I think I have a right to know.”

“Fuuh… so, you come here after hearing Nana’s story, how much did she tell?”

I was a little surprised that she instantly knew that I had been talking to Nana behind her back, but maybe Rinne had somehow anticipated that I would come to her with questions like this when she left me alone with Nana during the interview.

I had no reason to lie, so I decided to be honest and tell her what I had seen and heard.

“Nothing much. Was it true that Rinne is much weaker than he was in her prime and that it had already happened before you met me?”

“Well yeah, I guess that’s about right. it’s refreshing to know I cannot hide those things from Nana… well, okay, I could tell you more about that.”

“Is that okay?”

“Who do you think I am?”

Rinne said as she lightly flicked my forehead. I was surprised that she would tell me this easily.

Sighing lightly at my reaction to the pain, Rinne spoke out the answer to my question.

“As for your first question, it’s already been answered. I wanted you to be stronger than Nana.”

“You want me to be stronger than Nana…?”

“Yes, because Nana will not grow unless she meets a monster who can stand on the same level as her.”

Rinne smiled and continued as she watched my puzzled face, unable to understand what she meant.

“You’ve only seen her a few days, but Nana as a being is undoubtedly the strongest and admirable, but she’s not by any means perfect. Don’t you agree, Suupaa?”

“That’s well… yeah.”

The more I know, the more I think so. The difference between when she was serious and when she wasn’t was especially great, and there was always a point where she seemed somewhat vulnerable and out of it.

“She is always looking for the feeling of being able to do something she can’t do. From a gamer’s point of view, she likes to challenge herself with great difficulty. When you clear content with a 0.1% completion rate, you got an unbelievable feeling of satisfaction, isn’t it?”

“I understand. It really gets your endorphins flowing.”

“Because her basic skills are so high, she can reproduce most things just by looking at them. No matter how difficult it is, she can easily do it without any difficulty. Life without growth is boring. You, as [Suupaa] should know exactly how Nana feels, don’t you? That’s why you longed for [Witch of the Magic Bullet]. Because you who have reached the top, still can challenge it to go far higher.”

Rinne’s words were spot on.

I’m the world’s No. 1 ranking holder in the solo queue for 12 consecutive months. I had persisted in facing the challenge with a fresh mind, but immediately after achieving it, I was struck with a terrible sense of emptiness.

I had achieved an unprecedented feat and become stronger than anyone else.

What came after was a sense of emptiness. I wondered if my effort was worth it.

Even if I grew further, there was no one left to fight with. The page of my struggle had passed long ago, and my battles were turning into mere work.

But in the midst of all this. Every time I felt bored, I remembered the existence of the [Witch of Magic Bullet].

There’s someone who’s far beyond me, my ideal, an ultimate sniper that not even cheats could reproduce. When I first heard her name, I thought she was just a legend, but when I thought I had reached my peak, she finally showed me a faint glimpse of her back.

“She was so far above me when I first started that I could only admire her. Now that I’ve met her in person, I feel like her back is once again so far away, but… that’s why it’s so rewarding.”

“Except for sniping skills, You’ve already surpassed Nana, haven’t you?”

“But I always longed to be a sniper. To be a legendary sniper that could snipe so far away beyond anyone’s reach.”

That’s right. I admired her because I couldn’t reach her.

I started the challenge because of that very reason.

And thanks to my ambition to chase the back of [Witch of Magic Bullet], Rinne has come to scout me.

“So… that’s why. You want me to be a wall that Nana can’t reach right now, just like the Witch for me. Is that what you need from me?”

“Yes, that’s almost exactly what I want. I want Nana to see you as a superior being with something she can’t replicate. The rest is simply a matter of letting her smoldering talent grow. I’ve known kids who have been on the ropes since they were little, and that’s why I want them to be able to grow.”

“Is that about Nana, too?”

“Of course, it’s about her…”

After finishing what she wanted to say, Rinne paused for a while.

The way she said it, it sounded like she wasn’t just talking about Nana, but the fact she didn’t mention it directly must have been for a good reason.

Maybe someone else had a talent like mine that never blossomed yet continued to smolder. But I am sure that is not something that Rinne can easily talk about. {don’t tell me… Touka?}

“After that, well, do you know what I wanted?”

“Yes, I could guess.”

“But it’s not so complicated. In the end, I want HEROES to be the best professional gaming team in the world.”

Certainly, it sounded simple enough.

“As you know, I’m not as good as I was in my prime anymore. I haven’t always been physically strong. Thus why my body couldn’t handle my talent, so I broke down.”

“that’s…”

“I wonder if Miharu already told you a little bit about that.

It is true that I won the honor of WGCS champion by mishandling and mismanaging my engine at full speed, knowing that it was about to break, and as a result, I suffered the lash back from it.

Of course, I’m much better now than I was three years ago, and I’ll still be a first-class player in the future.”

“Did you have any regrets?”

That was what I had wanted to ask ever since Nana had told me the story.

Rinne had lost too much for the cost of being the best in the world.

Talent for Glory, I wondered if the price was worth it.

But Rinne, she answered with a laugh.

“To begin with, your way of thinking is the opposite of mine. I didn’t want to become the best in the world by losing my talent. I was just doing my best to burn up the talent that was already bound to be gone no matter how hard I tried to prevent it. It was inevitable, and that’s why I wanted to leave something behind. And since I managed to do it, there’s no reason for regret, right?”

Looking at the expression on Rinne’s face, it is clear that there was not the slightest trace of regret.

What kind of fear is it to know that you are going to lose your talent? Wouldn’t that mean losing the entire foundation that supports you?

It gives me chills just to imagine it, but at least Rinne didn’t get scared or disheartened after she found out about it. Instead, she went full throttle to her goal.

That’s amazing. I’m sure I can’t be that tough.

“I’ve done everything I wanted to do, and it’s hard to improve myself beyond what I used to be. But because of that… I want to nurture someone other than myself. That’s why I created HEROES. I created my own professional gaming team that I would nurture.”

“Looking at HEROES’ current success, I think that plan is quite realistic.”

“I’m the one who hasn’t done well, you know? I thought we could get ten or twenty world championships, but it’s hard to predict other people will grow up, isn’t it?”

“I think it’s good enough that you’re scouting for players who aren’t that stand out and developing their talent, and you’re getting some good results.”

With the exception of the initial members and a few players with special backgrounds, most of the players in HEROES have been recruited from the middle ranks of the game, and they all have shown amazing growth.

HEROES pick up players who have one or two noticeable talents but do not mesh well or are underutilized and develop their talents.

That is why many HEROES members have a very strong faith in Rinne, who guided and strengthened them ever since they were still in bud.

This is a well-known story in the community, and the common perception that [HEROES is a group of Rinne admirers] is widespread thanks to this.

Faith aside, there is no doubt that there are only a few people who can match Rinne’s skill in identifying talent and bringing it to full fruition.

That is how tremendous the progress of HEROES has been.

“It’s not good enough. We have to be strong enough to be recognized as the best in every game.”

“After all, we’re going to be the strongest professional gaming team in the world, aren’t we?”

“That’s right!”

I was relieved to see Rinne confidently cross her arms and say something akin to a childish dream. This current Rinne who talked about her dream seems to be the real her.

Then I suddenly realized something.

“……Well, in that sense, what about Nana? I don’t know if I should put it this way, but that person is the strongest without needing to be nurtured.”

Even if we leave aside the matter of the middle class in the ranking, it is clear that Rinne gives advice to the members of HEROES and encourages them to grow without exception.

I know because I, too, have benefited from it. The advice given was hard to understand, but needless to say, it was thanks to Rinne’s support for setting up the environment and stationed Miharu by my side.

Still, Nana is a little different.

She is the strongest from the beginning.

That is why I was recruited; I was expected to be Nana’s companion, pushing her growth, even if only slightly.

And I don’t mean her ability. I was here only to add more color to her life.

When I told Rinne my hypothesis, she simply nodded her head.

“That’s right. The VR space was originally only a place for Nana and me to have fun. That’s why I recruited you to join the VR department. I saw your potential to be her equal within this space, which didn’t even exist at the time.”

“I understand, but… I see, so I’m in a slightly different position in HEROES.”

“The reason why the establishment of this team was delayed for so many years after the rise of VR is that the Nana, who was supposed to be the center of the team was still not ready to fill her position. And because of that, we lost one of our planned members.”

It was almost half a year ago that Rinne officially announced the establishment of the VR division.

Nana joined about two months ago. Is the difference of a few months because it took that much time to prepare?

Rinne seemed to have noticed my thought about this and continued her explanation.

First of all, Nana had been working three part-time jobs until just before her debut two months ago.

However, she was fired from all of them. The reason she was fired was because of the store’s circumstances, or more specifically, the parent company’s circumstances that caused the store to go out of business.

If you had been following the news, you would have known that the cause was an incident of food poisoning and the restaurant’s mismanagement over a long period of time. And because Nana basically a don’t care about such a thing, there is no way for her to know.

It was easy to imagine that Rinne already knew she was going to be fired after that happened.

Rinne, who had been aware of the unrest, gathered information and tried to estimate when the impact would spread to the store where Nana was working. And it turned out that all three of her part-time jobs would likely disappear around the same time.

Apparently, the time of the accident was also the time when she officially announced the HEROES VR division establishment.

The rest she needed to do was made a call to Nana, who ‘coincidentally’ became a NEET.

That was about two months ago, and it seemed that this was how they were able to successfully bring Nana, the main character, into HEROES within a few months of the declaration of the establishment of the division.

“Must been hard.”

“I’ve been trying to get her to join us for a while now, but she has a strange sense of duty. Whenever I asked to join, she would refuse because of her part-time work. Of course, if I force her to do something, she will listen to me, but it’s not something I want to force her to. Even if the power of the Takajou group could destroy Nana’s part-time job, Nana wouldn’t be pleased. So, you see, it was a blessing in disguise that all three locations went under for good.” {…is it really?}

It may not be a good thing from the perspective of the stores or the company that went under, but from Rinne’s point of view, it was all a result of good fortune.

Well, if Rinne was really not involved in the whole thing, then it is definitely a blessing in disguise.

What I mean by [whole thing] is that I was including the fact that I was able to make it in time for the competition using Zero Wars VR, where I would be most active.

“Everything is for Nana…… No, it’s for the stage for Nana and Rinne.”

“You hate it?”

“More like relieved. I would be more afraid if I were given so much without you expecting anything. And above all, now I have clear role to play on this stage.”

In other words, I am just a catalyst.

To Rinne, I’m probably just a tool for enriching Nana’s world.

But, considering everything, and more importantly… I can stand here right now, and that itself is making everything worth it.

And for that,

“Thank you.”

“Fufu, what is that for?”

“For everything Rinne has done for me from the first time we met until now. Thanks to you, I finally feel like I can move forward for myself.”

The reason I participated in this tournament was partly thanks to the existence of the [Witch of Magic Bullet Witch], but in the end, I also wanted to give something back to Rinne.

Ever since I was born, all I have had to do is receive and thanks to their favor I could go this far.

Both when I was in the orphanage and in that house.

It’s about time I repaid at least a bit of those favors.

“Yeah, I feel like I can do anything now.”

“Great. That’s the motivation!”

Rinne simply laughed hearing these words, which I unintentionally spilled out after I finally found where to place my conviction.

For now, let’s begin the final round.

===*

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5 Responses

  1. Kensei Seraph says:

    Thanks for the chapter.

  2. Lucas says:

    Thanks for the chapter!
    This was a really long backstory.
    You can really tell the author thought it would be shorter before he wrote it.

  3. Gago says:

    The tournament arc as a whole is way too long. The Rinne flashback was enjoyable. The Supaa ones were bearable. And the tourney itself had way too many exposition, then again, this author likes his exposition. The problem to me is: Did you really need to cram so many side stories one after the other?!?!

    • Dire Weeb says:

      I kinda get the feeling that the author is one of those that lets the characters write the story rather than try to write something that follows all the rules of what makes a story enjoyable to read like you’re saying. Like “this is what the world is like, this is what Rinne would do, and the results are an abrupt end to the WLO gameplay for a while and an e-sports tournament that has way too much drama and backstory”.

  4. Ren says:

    Thanks for the chapter!
    Finally! We’re geeting there after backstory.

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