Suzumiya Haruhi:Volume5 The Day of Sagittarius

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The Day of Sagittarius

The vast darkness of space stretched before my eyes.

It was like wearing goggles and getting lost within the darkness of the Horse-head Nebula: not even a single speck of starlight could be seen. To put it bluntly, it was like a crudely made background. At that moment, I started thinking it would have been a good idea to include some cinematics, but everything in this galaxy, including this space background, had a reason behind it, like logistics, technical constraints, or time.

"I can't see anything at all."

I began to grumble, since the screen had been showing nothing but darkness; I started wondering if the monitor had gone dead.

As I was wondering where in the galaxy I was wandering, a bright spot suddenly appeared on the dark screen and began to move forward. I decided to report to my superior.

"Hey, Haruhi, do you mind slowing down a bit? Your flagship's too fast."

Haruhi gave the following response to my report:

"Call me Supreme Commander, First Officer. The SOS Brigade possesses the highest military ranks; after all, we're the greatest ever."

As I pondered which of us were the Supreme Commander and First Officer......

"Commander Suzumiya, Intelligence Officer Nagato reports that the enemy fleet is moving suspiciously. How should we respond?"

Koizumi, the ass-kisser, reported the facts faithfully. Haruhi's response was,

"We'll just have to give them a surprise attack!"

A Haruhi-ist command indeed, but no one obeyed her. Or rather, no one dared to obey her, since if we faced the enemy head on, we would end up like the Takeda cavalry as they made their ill-fated triple assault on Tanegashima.

Asahina raised her hands and asked uncomfortably,

"Um...... what should I be doing......?"

"Mikuru-chan, you'll just get in the way, so just put your supply fleet over there, since I never expected anything from you. Kyon, you, Yuki and Koizumi-kun are in charge of taking on the enemy's front guard, while I give them a critical hit. A knockout critical hit, that is!"

Someone, please come and stop this girl!

I returned my gaze to the screen to reconfirm where my fleet was within the SOS Brigade Fleet. The 15,000 vessels of the <Kyon Fleet> were now chasing the <Commander Haruhi Fleet> in a straight line, the <Koizumi Fleet> was escorting us at the side, while the ever reliable <Yuki Fleet> was now far ahead in search of enemy vessels. As for the <Mikuru Fleet> which was in charge of supplies... thanks to Asahina's clumsy piloting skills, her fleet had been lost in space from the beginning.

"Ah~~!! W...where should I go?"

Asahina made a sound close to sobbing; she was helpless as usual.

As long as you're behind us, any direction will do. Just wander wherever you please. Although it's just a fleet on the screen, I do not wish for a fleet bearing your name to appear on the casualty list.

Suddenly, changes began to appear on the screen. The surveillance vessels sent out by the <Yuki Fleet> had now transmitted data to my fleet, which was linked to them. Besides indicating our fleet's vessels, the dark screen now also showed the enemy vessels that Nagato had detected.

"Haruhi, fall back," I said. "They've split up their fleet and are probably searching for your position. As a Commander, you ought to act like one and command behind the front lines."

"What on earth are you talking about?"

Haruhi's lips now pursed in irritation.

"Are you trying to leave me out of this battle? How mean! I want to fire deathrays and missiles along with everyone else as well!"

I gave the command for the <Kyon Fleet> to speed up slightly and said,

"Haruhi, listen, once your fleet is hit, we're finished. Just look, the enemy's vessels in front are all just pawns, while their flagship is probably hiding behind giving commands. You don't see people sending their Kings out to the battlefield in chess, do you? Besides, we've only just begun the battle."

"Erm... you may be right..."

Haruhi looked a bit embarrassed and stared at me like a cat begging for food.

"Then, I'll let you guys handle the situation for now. When you come into contact with any enemy vessels, just fire away. There's no way we can lose to those bastards, absolutely no way. If we lose, the SOS Brigade's reputation will be in tatters. Besides, I just can't stand them being above me!"

"Commander. Intelligence Officer Nagato's <Yuki Fleet> has engaged the enemy and gone to battle stations. I too wish for Your Excellency to command us all from the back."

Koizumi sounded serious, but it's hard to take this guy seriously when he's smiling so cheerfully.

"Oh... really?"

Haruhi was now in seventh heaven thanks to Koizumi's ass-kissing. She crossed her arms and sat on the commander's seat, showing the expression of a high-ranking rookie commander who is only there because of her birthright and not her commanding ability.

"Since Advising Officer Koizumi says so, I'll take his advice. Everyone, go out and kill them all! Show those Computer Study Group people the consequences of trying to be too clever. Our battle objective is total annihilation! Grind them all into stardust!"

There was nothing wrong with her aim in achieving total victory, but it's best not to forget that they were the ones who initiated this battle, so they probably had some cards up their sleeves.

In my opinion, the SOS Brigade's chances of victory were slimmer than the Japanese navy's were at Leyte Gulf. There are no ifs in history; even though we were now evenly matched in the number of fleets, we would still lose. So it would probably be best to surrender right away.

"Sigh, don't think we can do that either."

She crossed her arms and sat on the commander's seat, showing the expression of a high-ranking rookie commander who is only there because of her birthright and not her commanding ability.
She crossed her arms and sat on the commander's seat, showing the expression of a high-ranking rookie commander who is only there because of her birthright and not her commanding ability.

I rolled up my sleeves and reconfirmed the enemy intelligence on my screen. As expected from Nagato, all the enemy fleets, save the commander's fleet, had now been located. The responsibility of leading our fleet to victory now rested on me (having involuntarily been given the ridiculously exaggerated title of First Officer) using my wits and fingers.

What strategy should we use?

"First of all...... here!"

I stared into the LCD monitor of my notebook PC, and tried to speculate where Commander Haruhi's intentions would lead us.

But before getting into that, I'd better explain our current situation to everyone first. It's always good to sort out one's thoughts, in order to make the correct decision. Yes, let's start from there.

It all began a week ago.

One autumn day after school.

It was days after the school festival had ended, and the school had returned to its usual peaceful mood.

The sentence above was just a cliché, since, to put it bluntly, we'd merely returned to where we were before the school festival. Despite this, I wasn't the only one who was grateful things had ended so peacefully.

Since the others hadn't confessed to me fully, I had no idea what they were really thinking, except that Koizumi's trademark smile now carried more relief than usual, while Nagato's blank expression was a guarantee for a job well done.

For some time, especially recently, I have treated the intense reading of this bookworm as a sign that peace has returned. If Nagato had begun doing weird stuff, or started showing a sense of helplessness, then I'd have had to start writing my will and memoirs. I don't suppose the word "unexpected" exists in Nagato's vocabulary. So when I see her sitting in the corner of the Literature Room reading her foreign science fiction novels, I can say with confidence that it is a sure sign that horrible nightmares won't be coming here.

On the other hand, the pretty fake maid continued to serve tea meaninglessly in her usual costume. It's hard to believe she's from the future, as she never seems to know anything about the past. With a serious look, she began brewing some warm Japanese tea. I have no idea where Asahina learned all this, but she seems to know the correct temperature for brewing all sorts of tea leaves. And she wasn't brewing with the hot water from the electric flask, but with tap water boiled with a kettle.

She held a thermometer in one hand, opened the kettle lid with her other hand and stuck the thermometer into the kettle, studying it intently. I just couldn't see her as someone from the future. Something was just not right. Come to think of it, nothing was right with the headquarters of the SOS Brigade, because everything in it was so weird. The only thing that was normal was my own consciousness telling me that I really do exist. Man, I feel like René Descartes right now.

This club room once belonged to the Literature Club, but for some time now it had been the lair for Suzumiya Haruhi and her henchmen. I'm probably an important figure myself, if I can remain sane in such a warped dimension. Now that I think about it, the other members in this brigade (besides me) are each backed by a mysterious force, while Haruhi, the commander herself, is full of mysteries. I'm the only one here with an objective mind, and I get frustrated every time I realize that.

The lunatic four vs. the objective one - no matter how you look at it, the ratio's just not right. I wish someone would come and share my mental burden with me, just one person would do. After all, it's not like I have a habit of making some witty remarks every now and then. Sometimes I'd like to stay quiet for once. Why does that responsibility always have to fall on my shoulders? I feel like singing a melancholic tune to vent my frustration on the unfairness of this world. But I don't want to drag Taniguchi and Kunikida into this. It's not that I pity them, but they're just not up to it. I don't think they have the suitable vocabulary and reflexes to resist Haruhi... I should say they're a bit mental like Tsuruya-san. Damn it! Is this world run by maniacs?


I crossed my arms and mumbled as if in deep thought. I wasn't troubled with what move I should make next in my Go game with Koizumi. There was no difficulty at all in pushing Koizumi's black pieces to the brink of defeat. If I were to be compared with a board game fanatic like Koizumi, who is honestly quite bad at all of them, then I'd truly be troubled. But that's not what I was troubled about. What I was troubled with was whether this world is normal or not. Because according to my hypothesis, in a mad world, only the insane can live their lives normally; even the most mentally sane would be driven mad sooner or later. I think I should commend myself for being able to exist peacefully as a normal high school student in this whirlpool that is the SOS Brigade, where normal rules don't apply. I ought to be praised just for this alone.

"Allow me to give you some words of praise, then."

Koizumi managed to elegantly place his piece down on the Go board and gracefully took one of my white pieces away. He may have made his move, but from his current situation, it was only a matter of time before he found himself in a quagmire.

"Thanks, but no thanks."

I replied, and placed my hands into the container carrying the Go pieces. Amidst the clattering noise of the pieces being mixed around, Koizumi gave a look of sincerity in praising me. This made me even more irritated.

"Somehow, I don't feel happy at all being praised by a guy like you. Instead, I'm rather disturbed at what you might be plotting. Let me make this clear: I'm not one of your pawns. If you think I'm going to obediently follow your script, then you're sadly mistaken."

"When you say 'you,' to whom are you referring? I'm innocent, really. This is all just because you and Suzumiya-san keep coming up with strange events. My presence alone is the best evidence for that."

If Koizumi hadn't transferred over, then Haruhi wouldn't have chosen him to join the SOS Brigade. Her interest in "Koizumi Itsuki" had nothing to do with his gender, personality, behavior or appearance, but simply the fact that he was a transfer student, and nothing else. Serves him right. Of all the times to transfer, he had to transfer right after that weird girl had enrolled. Or perhaps he transferred on purpose just so he could approach Haruhi? If he is the esper wonderboy that Haruhi has been looking for all her life, then he should be avoiding her as though she's a highly radioactive substance, randomly giving off Cherenkov radiation.

"That was in the past."

Koizumi glanced at the Go piece in his hand.

"Indeed, the original plan was to quietly observe her from behind the scenes without her knowing. I was petrified with terror when Suzumiya-san came straight to my class looking for me, then brought me to this room after school that day. And when she announced that the purpose of the club is to look for aliens, time travelers, and espers and play with them, what else could I do besides smile?"

Koizumi continued nostalgically,

"But things are different now. I may have been a mysterious transfer student back then, but I've lost that attribute already. I'm sure Suzumiya-san thinks so as well."

"So what? In my eyes, you're still pretty mysterious."

Koizumi looked around the room like a cat that loves narrow spaces: he first fixed his gaze for a while on Nagato who was busy reading, then on Asahina, who was paying close attention to the kettle. Then his gaze returned to its original spot.

Haruhi wasn't in, since she had cleaning duty that day, or Koizumi and I wouldn't have been chatting away in a relaxed manner.

In a club room with the commander absent, Koizumi smiled gently like an experienced vet about to cure a wounded bird and said,

"Right now, I, Nagato-san, Asahina-san, and you have now become the wonderful members of the SOS Brigade, nothing more, nothing less. I'm sure Suzumiya-san must be thinking the same way as well."

"May I ask what's your definition of 'nothing more, nothing less'? Is there some meaning to that?"

"Of course there is a meaning. Paranormal existences like aliens and dimensional travelers are considered more than just members, while everyone else is less significant than us members."

Then Taniguchi, Kunikida, Tsuruya-san and my sister are considered less significant than members? I'm not trying to plead for them, but the thought of them being worth less than I am sure is discomforting.

"It's simple, really. If their existence meant a lot to Suzumiya-san, then they would already be members by now and would be here in this room as we speak. But the fact that they're not means that they aren't important in the eyes of Suzumiya-san.

"They only mean as much to her as the ordinary passerby. Really, after talking so much, we still couldn't avoid using the consequential theory."

"Then what about dimensional travelers? Have they not arrived yet?"

"Judging from the results, they probably don't exist. If they did, then they would be summoned to this room by chance or by fate."

"They'd better not come. I don't want to be sucked into an alternate dimension."

As I placed my white piece down and devoured Koizumi's pieces, a tea cup was being placed by the Go board with the victor decided.

"Sorry to keep you waiting. Please enjoy your tea."

Smiling like a gentle coach who had managed to lead her rag-tag school baseball team to the regional championships, Asahina stood by the table and said,

"I bought a new brand of tea leaves called 'Karigane.' It's easy to brew, but it's really expensive."

Asahina-san, you shouldn't be paying for those tea leaves with your own money; make sure you remember to ask Haruhi to reimburse your expenses. There's really no need to be so picky over what tea leaves to brew with because, as long as it's made by the hands of Asahina, even a cup of tap water can taste better than Evian's pure mineral water for me.

"Hee hee, then please try out the tea."

Asahina had cosplayed as a maid for so long that she was getting good at it. She placed another cup by Koizumi's side, then gracefully carried the tray over and placed a cup by Nagato's side.


As always, Nagato had nothing to say, but for Asahina, this silence was just as good as sincere gratitude. As of now, I've yet to see the SOS Brigade's alien and time traveler having a cheerful conversation... No, wait, I've never seen Nagato ever having a cheerful conversation with anyone. Forget it, maybe this is a good thing. If Nagato were to suddenly become talkative, I think I'd be scared silly. Besides, if she became like Haruhi, in whose case it's better for her to shut up, then it'd really be a pity.

It's best for silent people to remain silent.

Asahina had cosplayed as a maid for so long that she was getting good at it. She placed another cup by Koizumi's side, then gracefully carried the tray over and placed a cup by Nagato's side.
Asahina had cosplayed as a maid for so long that she was getting good at it. She placed another cup by Koizumi's side, then gracefully carried the tray over and placed a cup by Nagato's side.

Playing board games and drinking tea idyllically like this was enough to make one forget that evil actually exists in this world. Yet this brief moment of peace didn't last for long. In fear of being forgotten, trouble always makes a periodic visit.

A knock echoed through the door. I lifted my head and watched that bruised, inexpensive door and prepared myself mentally. Why was I preparing myself mentally you say? Because right now the only ones in the club room are the four of us minus Haruhi, and if Haruhi ever knocks, then I'd have to walk to the farthest corner of the room and laugh heartily. In other words, the one knocking on the door is neither Haruhi nor anyone else from the SOS Brigade, but someone else entirely. Whoever it was, I had no idea, but they must have a reason for visiting. This has always been true, as seen with Kimidori-san's visit that day.


Asahina rushed with little steps in her slippers to answer the door. How professional, it's as though even she believes herself to be a maid. That's good... now what the hell was I talking about?


Asahina opened the door and blinked her eyes as if seeing a surprise visitor.

"Please enter...... um... do you want to enter?"

Asahina walked two steps backwards, and for some reason shielded her breasts with her arms.

"No thanks, I only need to say something standing here."

The visitor's response sounded a bit anxious. He stuck his head through the open door and looked around the room.

"Oh, your commander isn't here......"

Concealing his anxiety within his speech is none other than the leader of the room next to ours, the president of the Computer Study Group.

Since no one else said anything, I ended up having to handle the negotiations. Asahina stood there looking awestruck, Koizumi only sat there and smiled at the president, while Nagato simply continued reading her book.

"How may we help you?"

Since he was a senpai, it was only natural to be polite to him. I walked out and stood in front of Asahina. Hmm? Behind the Computer Group president, who hadn't even stepped over the door line, stood a bunch of male students that seemed to be his lifeless minions. What's this? It's still a bit too early to exact revenge.

When the president noticed it was me coming out, he breathed a sigh of relief and smiled lightly, then straightened his back and said,

"Here, take this."

I didn't know what he was up to, suddenly handing me a single CD case. Regardless of whether I would accept it or not, there was no reason the Computer Study Group would give things to us for free, so naturally I looked at them suspiciously.

"No, no, there's nothing suspicious about it." The president said. "It's game software, an original game created by our study group. We distributed it during the school festival, don't you remember?"

Sorry, I don't think I had that much free time then. The only things I could remember from the school festival were the band music concerts and Asahina's noodle stall waitress costume.

"I see......"

The Computer Group president didn't look dejected, but his brows clearly drooped as he mumbled, "It was because we were in a crap location......"

If you came here to have a chat, then you can leave now before Haruhi returns and turns this into a big ruckus.

"Of course I came here for a reason, but it's best to keep things simple. Then, here I go!"

The president kept sweating, and kept on holding back when he was about to say something; the lifeless minions behind also nodded their head with a determined expression. Hurry up and say what you want to say.

"Let's have a showdown with this game!"

The president said in a different tone and once again handed the CD box to me.

Why do we want to have a match with the Computer Study Group with this game? If you're short on players, then my best advice is to try your luck with other clubs.

"This isn't a game!"

Looks like the president wants to struggle on.

"This is a showdown! With stakes involved!"

Then go find Koizumi, I'm sure he'll be glad to play with you till sunset.

"No! We want to have a showdown with you!"

I beg you, please stop using the word "showdown." It's not like you don't know how things get into Haruhi's ears very quickly, if that hyper-confident, self-centered girl ever hears you......



After a series of weird lines, the president disappeared from my vision as he was kicked off to the side.

"Whoa!?" "President!" "Are you all right?"

A few seconds later, the lifeless minions began to yell in panic and ran to the side of the president, who was now lying in the corridor, while I moved my gaze slowly.

"Who the hell are you guys!?"

Looking at the members of the Computer Study Group with her glittering pupils and opening her beautiful lips was none other than Suzumiya Haruhi.

After what was basically a sneak attack and a flying kick on the president, she landed perfectly on the ground, looking extremely pleased with herself.

Haruhi proudly flicked her hair by her ears and said,

"So, the Evil Organization has come. You must be the secret group that sees the SOS Brigade as their sworn enemy. I won't let you get away with it! Because we bear the responsibility of bringing light to the darkness and ridding the world of all evil! Small fry will always be small fry, so hurry up and disappear after making your scene!"

The president, who seemed to have bumped his head when he fell, moaned in pain, while his members sat by him looking worried. So I think I was the only one who heard Haruhi's edict.

"Haruhi, it's not that I'm criticizing you......"

Ever since I entered high school, I've forgotten how many times I had tried to hold Haruhi back.

"You should at least hear what he has to say before beating him up. Well, thanks to you, I don't even know why he came here. All I know is that he wants to have a showdown with us on some computer game......"

"Kyon! When someone declares a showdown, then it's decided. This is a declaration of war. Anything else the loser says are excuses! Who cares about what they say even before we beat them!"

Like a hunter going to check on her prey, Haruhi walked towards the president and said in a disrespectful manner,

After what was basically a sneak attack and making a flying kick on the president, she landed perfectly on the ground and looked extremely pleased with herself.
After what was basically a sneak attack and making a flying kick on the president, she landed perfectly on the ground and looked extremely pleased with herself.

"Oh, it's you from next door. What's he doing here anyway?"

That's why I said you needed to give him a chance to explain himself. You were the one who sent him flying before he could say anything.

"That's because," Haruhi stuck out her lips, "I thought it was the Student Council coming to drive us from our club room. It's probably about time they came as well. Really, why do people come to us looking for trouble all the time?"

"Even if it were the Student Council, there's no need to send people flying."

As I was trying hard to talk Haruhi out of it......

"Come to think of it, we still haven't held that other activity......"

Koizumi suddenly appeared outside in the corridor and reminded Haruhi about something in deep thought. Must you really be such a busybody?

"Ugh...... SOS Brigade...... you really are shameful......"

After moaning for a long time, the president finally managed to stand up, aided by his members carrying him,

"A, anyway, let's have a showdown. I know we don't get along well, so I've prepared a written statement. Once you read it, you'll know what the showdown is about."

One of the members took out a stack of photocopied paper and CD boxes, and walked towards us in fear, as though trying to feed the wild lions with raw meat.


Koizumi smiled and received the papers and CDs.

"We've received the game software, but is there an instruction manual?"

A second member carried another stack of papers and handed it to Koizumi, then said quietly,

"President, we've completed our task. Let us return to our club room."

"Yeah, let's go back."

He nodded weakly.

"Then, please excuse us......"

After explaining just part of the events, the president prepared to make his escape, but Haruhi grabbed him by his neck and prevented his getaway.

"Explain everything properly before you leave! Don't think you can shut me up with a stupid written statement! Now say it in a language that even this idiot Kyon here can understand!"

Who are you calling an idiot!?

As a result, the poor Computer Group president got dragged back into the Literature Club room. Before the other Computer Group members could rescue their president, the door was slammed shut.

Unlike Haruhi who is active every month of the year, once the school festival finished, everyone else in school reverted back to their normal school lives. However, the Computer Study Group seemed to be unsatisfied with this as well and wanted to make it big. Yet right now their president was sitting here alone on the steel chair looking terrified, looking like a white mage who got separated from his party in a dungeon, and is surrounded by a group of blood-thirsty vampires with his MP all used up. He didn't even have the mood to enjoy the tea Asahina brewed as Haruhi began her interrogation on him.

Allow me to briefly list out the points from the interrogation.

The Computer Study Group president made the following demands:

  1. Showdown with the Computer Group using the computer game they created.
  2. If we win, then the computer sitting on the SOS Brigade's desk will have to be returned to its 
  original spot.
  3. After all, such an advanced multi-purpose computer is wasted on the SOS Brigade. The computer 
  should remain in the Computer Group's room in order to maximize its potential. So we demand that 
  it be returned at once.
  4. When the computer was taken away from us, it has caused a great deal of pain for the president 
  and his members, it's best to leave this aside. We want to forget it so badly, let's pretend it 
  never happened.
  5. Due to the reasons above, you must accept our challenge...... Let us battle!

The stack of written statements that Koizumi handed to me contained some incomprehensible contents which were more or less summarized above. Basically it was a complaint and challenge letter combined into one, but I only managed to read the tidy printed lines in the first page before Haruhi decided to just hear it first hand from the president. What he was trying to say was really simple.

"If you have no use for the computer, then give it back to us."

The president said. Haruhi replied,

"Of course we're using it. All the time. We only just used it to edit the movie we made a while ago."

To be precise, I was the only one that ever used it.

"We even made a website."

I also made that myself. Besides surfing the internet to kill time and drawing some symbolic emblem that was no different from a scribble, Haruhi hardly ever used the computer.

"All your website ever has after six months is a front page! And you haven't updated it in months!"

The president retorted furiously. So he's the one who regularly visits that website and increases the visitor number count. I see, this would explain why he got trapped inside a giant cave cricket once. He really is concerned at how much we use the computer.

"But when I asked you guys for a computer, you said OK. Kyon, you remember as well right?"

Did I remember? Yes, I can remember clearly Asahina kneeling on the floor sobbing, poor girl. But I didn't pay much attention at all to what the president said then. Even if he did agree, he was mentally devastated then, so that transaction probably doesn't count.

"Objection! I'm now making a serious protestation!"

Looks like the president is serious this time. He crossed his arms and shut his mouth, with the determined look of a warrior prepared to die on the battlefield. I thought he has given up after half a year already, but his inner flame was still burning brightly.

"Hmm......" Haruhi smiled and nodded. "All right, since you so want to have a showdown with us, then I'll accept your challenge. We're betting on the computer right? What are you placing your stakes on?"

"The computer over there, of course, what else would it be? If we lose, then that computer stays with you."

"That computer already belongs to us. There's not much fun in reclaiming what's already ours, find something else to bet on!"

For some reason I was moved by Haruhi's words, she can always find a way to turn any illegally obtained object into her legal possession. Does she intend to become a professional thief?

However, the president didn't get angry. Instead, he gave a stiff smile,

"All right. If you win, then we'll give you a new...... right, we'll give you four computers. They're all notebooks, if you're fine with them......"

How brave of you to raise the stakes. Haruhi never expected he would say that,

"Really? Are you sure?"

She jumped off from the commander's desk and stared at the president's face.

"Are you serious about this? If you don't keep your word, I won't forgive you!"

"You have my word, I'll even sign a declaration of intent."

Seeing the defiant look on the president, I suddenly understood a bit where his confidence came from.

For some time Nagato had been staring at the CD in her hand. What kind of game it contained, I did not know, but one thing was for sure, the Computer Group had poured all their knowledge into making this game. Leaving aside the question of whether the Computer Group are all expert gamers, they probably think they can crush the amateur SOS Brigade. I think so as well. In a real competition, no matter what game it was, it's unlikely we would win. We only won that baseball game thanks to Nagato's magic bat, and not because of our abilities.

However, there's obviously someone in our brigade that just doesn't get it.

"You don't have any girls in your club, do you?"

Haruhi asked such a meaningless question all of a sudden.

"We don't, so what?" The president answered.

"Don't you want any female members?"


The president tried his best to keep composed, while Haruhi smiled evilly like an old lecher,

"If you win, then I'll reward you with this girl."

She pointed at Nagato's face.

"I bet you want a girl in your club, don't you? Yuki's very useful, she has a great memory, and behaves herself more than any one of us here."

You moron! How can you make such a proposal? They offered four computers, while we only offered a person, isn't that too little? Besides, there's no way the four computers can match Nagato, though I don't think you know that yet.


Nagato sure looked calm even though she was being used as a betting stake. Without moving, she turned her gaze towards me, past Haruhi and landed on the president's face.

"Huh...... b...but......"

"What now? You telling me you want to pick Mikuru-chan instead? Or maybe you think your four computers aren't enough to buy Nagato-san? Very well, let's have a secondary prize. If we win, you'll have to change your club name to 'SOS Brigade North High Second Branch'."

"Eh...... wha...... I......"

Asahina stuttered at hearing Haruhi's words, and instantly froze on the spot.

"You can go be their trophy if we lose."

I indignantly turned to Haruhi,

"Stop treating Nagato and Asahina-san as though they're objects! Why can't you bet on yourself? There's a limit to obnoxiousness!"

"What are you talking about? The commander is the SOS Brigade's holiest and most symbolic existence and cannot be desecrated! The commander represents the very nature of the SOS Brigade! Besides those that I've chosen, I don't intend to step down from this position!"

Are you saying you're going to continue your rule over this realm even after you graduate?

"Besides, no one can make an equivalent trade for me! Not even if they search the corners of the earth!"

Haruhi unreasonably dodged my attacks, pointing first at the silent Nagato and the awestruck Asahina as she walked towards the president.

"Now choose! Which one do you want?"

As she said that, she glanced towards me and added,

"If in the end you still want to choose me...... then all right, you can pick me as well!"

As expected from the president, who wasn't fooled at all by Haruhi's foolish taunts. I followed his line of vision and noticed him glancing at Nagato many times. This I could understand.

Carrying the crucifiable crime of groping Asahina, the ex-convict naturally didn't feel qualified to pick the victim of his crime. On the other hand, Taniguchi told me that Nagato actually has a lot of secret admirers, maybe this sort of silent bookish girl is the president's type? The fact that he didn't dare raise his head in front of Asahina was another indication. And he was still being careful to maintain his image, not wanting to openly declare "I want a girl in my club." So it's natural that he picked Nagato.

What about Haruhi, you say? Ha. Once her eccentric reputation has spread to the whole school, the only guys who would pick her are either natural born masochists, or are just weird themselves. Of course, they can never match Haruhi in terms of weirdness, so I can breathe a sigh of relief at that.

And so, the stage for the battle had been set.

The president led his minions out of the Literature Club room and quickly returned. This time they carried, if I remember correctly, four notebook computers. At first I thought, how generous of them to offer us the prize in advance. It was only then I realized that the game requires five computers in order to play. Then, not knowing whether they were members of the Computer Group or telecommunication technicians, they swiftly installed LAN cables for Haruhi's desktop PC and the remaining four notebook PCs, and then installed the gaming software that they had developed onto the machines. From their conversations, I could guess that this was a 5 vs 5 space battle simulator. Basically, the SOS Brigade would have five computers, the Computer Group would also have five computers, and both would do battle over the same server. It's just that we'll be in our club room while they'll be in theirs.

Of course, the server itself is placed in their room. Hmm, I see.

"One week of practice for you should be enough?"

The president looked pleased with the swift efficiency of his members.

"The battle will commence one week from now at 4 pm. Try and do some practice before then. It wouldn't be much fun if our opponents were too weak."

He's talking as though he's going to win this. He sounds just like Haruhi in this aspect. And just the thought of getting something new is enough to make Haruhi grin from ear to ear.

"Hmm, I was thinking about getting some new notebook computers as well. Everyone should have one, since investment in equipment is one of the key factors in motivating employees."

I'm not the sort that can be motivated by a mere notebook computer. But since you're giving it to me for free, I might as well accept it.

I drank the tea that has now gone cold and noticed Nagato's expression. She stood alongside Asahina against the wall, looking at the Computer Group making their installations with her blank face. There was no change in her emotions, looking peaceful as usual.

I don't think they would place a virus inside their own game, but there's no guarantee that they wouldn't. If they did, Nagato would do something about it. As long as she's around, then I can relax. No matter what tricks the Computer Group tries to pull, there's no way they can cheat Nagato.

As I played with my empty teacup, Asahina rushed to my side and said,

"Kyon-kun...... what...... what should I be doing? I... I know nothing about machines......"

Her troubled eyes are fixed on the ever increasing number of wires. Well there's really no need to worry much.

"It's only a game, just have fun and play along."

I comforted her. To be honest, I meant what I said. If the stakes for this showdown were really Nagato and Asahina, then I would fight with all my might without hesitation. As for whether Haruhi returns the computer that she obtained through trickery, that's a completely different issue altogether. For me, the conditions set out by the Computer Group were of low risk and high return. That was the difference between the obstacles and confidence of both teams.

"This is a showdown where we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. That's why Haruhi accepted it so quickly."

I said convincingly, to ease the anxiety of Asahina, I even smiled deliberately.

"But Suzumiya-san...... she seems very serious about it..."

Once the Computer Group members had finished their installation, Haruhi grabbed Koizumi, who was holding a stack of papers which seemed to be the game's instruction manual, and went to her commander's desk, wanting to try the game right away as she clutched the mouse.

For some reason, as they left the club room, the other members besides the president all looked rather pleased, or should I say rather smug, as though they had accomplished some great achievement.

After that, we tested each of the computers. This testing lasting till sunset, and then we decided to call it a day.

As the five of us walked down the slope from school, I had a conversation with Koizumi. I waited till we were yards behind the three girls, then I said to him,

"A while ago, I decided to just forever seal away a certain sentence from my vocabulary."

As the five of us walked down the slope from school, I had a conversation with Koizumi.
As the five of us walked down the slope from school, I had a conversation with Koizumi.

"Really? What was it?"

"Take a guess."

Koizumi smiled ironically, and pretended to do some thinking,

"From your perspective, there aren't a lot of words that you would want to seal away. It can be the speechless expression '......', or 'That's enough!' These are the most appropriate answers, aren't they?"

I kept quiet as Koizumi smiled and answered my question.

"All right, you win."

I gave him a shrug of my shoulders and raised my hands as a reward for correctly guessing my question. Koizumi pretentiously waved his hands and said,

"I truly understand how you feel right now."

Like hell you would understand.

"No no, you're trying to avoid getting into the same repetitive mood all the time. If you do the same stuff all the time, then even if no one else has noticed, over time you'll get tired of it as well. It's just like not wanting to play a game that's been played thousands of times so that you've become bored of it. You're actually worried what would happen if you become tired of it all. This is the same with Suzumiya-san. The difference is that her actions are based on her thoughts, while your thoughts are limited by what she does. So, who is the one more relaxed here?"

What are you analyzing all this like a psychiatrist for? The hole in my heart isn't easily filled by your instantly made-up theories, you know. In fact, it ought to be you who should be examining your actions. As Haruhi's yes-man, you're the least qualified to analyze me.

"A yes-man I may be, but I'm staying here out of my own will. Have you forgotten? Though Nagato-san, Asahina-san and I represent different factions and ideals, we're all gathered here for more or less the same reasons. I don't think you need reminding, my primary mission is actually to observe Suzumiya-san."

That's why I'm feeling depressed. Being dragged into the SOS Brigade for no reason, and then strangely following her every whim without question? Give me a break! What sort of conspiracy is this?

"How can I possibly know?"

Koizumi's playful eyes now looked into me.

"Actually, it's not just Suzumiya-san. Even you have become our observation target. From now on, no matter what you and Suzumiya-san do, I will always take on the challenge with trepidation, and treat it as a widening of my vision of this world. I should be thankful to you just for this point alone. I'm not joking, I'm really grateful for you two."

You're not the one suffering, of course you're in the mood to be grateful.

Since the end of the school festival, my mind's gotten a bit clearer. The mountain winds now carry a bit of autumn chill. I just can't like this season. Compared with the ever colder weather as the days pass by, Haruhi's tyranny feels so much better.

It was getting dark. The three girls slowly walked ahead of us, Haruhi was chatting away, Asahina nodded in agreement with her from time to time, while Nagato shut off all other mechanical functions besides walking. Nagato's bag was bulging, as it contained the notebook computer that had been allocated to her. When I asked her what she was taking that home for, Nagato placed the game CD-ROM into her bag and said, "Analysis." Looking at her silhouette, I suddenly thought of something.

"Koizumi, I have a suggestion."

"How rare. I'm all ears."

Just to be safe, I lowered my voice.

"Can we not cheat during our showdown with the Computer Group?"

"Your definition of cheating is......?"

Koizumi also lowered his voice and asked.

"The stuff Nagato used during the baseball tournament."

Don't tell me you've forgotten.

"Let me make this clear, if you have any powers that allow you to manipulate video games in our favor, don't use them. And besides supernatural powers, don't use any other methods that would constitute as cheating as well!"

Koizumi smiled lightly and gave me an inquiring look,

"Are you up to something? You're saying it doesn't matter if we lose, right?"


This I admit.

"Just this time, don't use any powers or techniques related to aliens, future time travelers or espers to cheat. I think it's best to face the showdown properly and accept whatever outcome comes our way."

"And your reason for doing that......?"

"Even if we do lose, we'll only lose the computer that we stole from them. Besides, it's just being returned to its rightful owner. It's not that much of a big deal for us."

Before returning the computer, I'd better store Asahina's secret photo album somewhere safe first.

"What I wanted to know was not about whether the computer gets returned or not."

Koizumi said in an intrigued tone,

"You should know Suzumiya-san's not the sort that likes losing. If we keep showing signs of losing during the showdown, she might get frustrated and create a Sealed Dimension. Are you really okay with that?"

"I don't care."

I looked at Haruhi's back.

"It's about time that girl learns to grow up. She can't have everything her way. Besides, it wasn't her who started this fight this time, so I don't think she would be too serious about the outcome."

I'd better tell Nagato to seal her ESP powers as well tomorrow. Wonder if I should tell Asahina as well? Though for someone who admits that she's no good with machines, it's hard to imagine what sort of special powers or classified stuff she would use to win this space battle. But I think I'll talk to her just to be safe.

Koizumi giggled quietly, just what is he doing? He sounds gross.

"No, I wasn't laughing at you. It's just that I'm envious of you."

What are you envious of me for?

"I'm envious of the deep level of trust between you and Suzumiya-san."

What are you talking about? I heard you but I don't get what you mean.

"Are you playing dumb? Sorry, perhaps you really don't realize it. Suzumiya-san always seems to count on you a lot, while you place a great deal of trust in her as well."

Who are you to tell me who I place my trust in?

"Let's assume that we really do lose the showdown next week. Yet you believe Suzumiya-san won't create a Sealed Dimension as a result. This shows how much you trust her. Similarly, Suzumiya-san believes as long as you're around, she can win this showdown. This is also a level of trust. She placed her stakes on herself and her own members, because she genuinely believes she won't lose. You two may not admit it openly, but it's obvious that you two have developed a trustful partnership."

I fell into a well of silence. Why did I not answer him back for so long? Was it because Koizumi's speculation had hit the bullseye in my heart? I'll let the experts deal with whether I trust her or not, but I really do believe Haruhi's mental state won't be going out of control all the time now. Just look at the events of the past six months. Many things have happened from the founding of the SOS Brigade to the making of the movie, and many memories were created. I myself have grown a lot since then, I'm sure the same can be said of Haruhi. Otherwise she would be the biggest idiot in the world without any hope of salvation.

"It's worth a try."

My tongue finally moved to find something to say.

"If we really lose to the Computer Group, and Haruhi creates a weird and sinister grey world as a result, then I really don't care about you guys anymore. This time I might as well join her in destroying this world."

Koizumi smiled casually and said a matter-of-factly,

"That's what I meant by you guys trusting each other. Now do you understand why I'm envious of you?"

I didn't answer him, paying attention only to my footsteps. Koizumi wanted to add something, but realizing I wasn't in the mood to listen anymore, he didn't say anything in the end.

Forget it, I'm used to seeing Koizumi in deep thought, it's just as normal as Asahina dressing up as a maid, and Haruhi's confidence which always seems to come from nowhere.

It was also as normal as Nagato's near invisible existence...... I had wanted to say that as well, but......

A week later in our battle with the Computer Group, I saw something that was totally unexpected.

The next day after school, we underwent special training using the guys in the room next door as our imaginary enemies.

Officially it's called special training, it's just another excuse for playing video games. Now allow me to explain in detail the game which the Computer Study Group has developed.

<The Day of Sagittarius 3>

That's the name of this game software. It sounds cool at first, but then you get the feeling of how silly it really sounds. Never mind, names don't really matter here, what matters is the software itself. If I didn't say that, then the SOS Brigade would lose its meaning of existence. When it comes to meaningless names and non-existent founding principles, I don't think any organization out there can best our brigade. Anyway, since it's the third instalment of the series, that means the game has two earlier versions as well.

First of all, let us delve into the background story for <The Day of Sagittarius 3>.

The year is unknown, all we know is that it's set in the far distant future. Humans have expanded outwards into space and have occupied a sizeable portion of the galaxy already. This is basically a galactic-scale space battle set in a solar system. Two space powers have bickered with each other over border conflicts, as neither side is willing to back down, a war has been waged. For simplicity's sake, one side is called the <Computer Group Federation>, and the other the <SOS Empire>. As for the story, basically both powers, both possessing massive starfleets, have thrown all their military might into this endless war for a long time, and ends when one side is totally annihilated and the credits roll. Diplomatic and strategic commands don't exist in this game as they get in the way of battle, this completely suits Haruhi's preferred mode of battle.

The opening screen is pitch black, the blue dots flashing at the bottom of the screen are the fleet that's controlled by us. The indicators are in the shape of little isosceles triangles. There are five of them in total, lined up in a row. This is the total force of the <SOS Empire> under Haruhi's command. One triangle represents 15,000 star destroyers. So there're a total of 75,000 vessels. Each fleet is escorted by a small number of supply vessels. The conditions for victory are to command these vessels and annihilate the enemy, which also have the same number of vessels. But this time the rules are a bit different, and that is to destroy the enemy's commanding fleet - for us it would be the Computer Group president's fleet, while for them it would be Haruhi's <Commander Haruhi Fleet>. Regardless of the losses sustained or the number of enemy vessels destroyed, if one side's commanding fleet is destroyed, then the battle is over.

We're each allocated one fleet per person, and we can only control the fleet allocated to us. So no matter how unreasonable Haruhi gets, there's no way she can interfere with my notebook computer.

One of the main features of this game is its search function. If we don't use this function, there's no way we can know what space debris awaits us ahead, let alone track the enemy's position. So if we wanted to move our fleet but are afraid of colliding with any unidentified objects, we would have to send out intelligence vessels to scout the area ahead and wait for them to return before we can analyze the situation ahead. It is that complex.

The visibility radius for each fleet is only a few centimetres (on the computer screen), if we were to move without scouting ahead, then we run the risk of being attacked from an unknown direction, and not even knowing where the enemy is.

On the other hand, the intelligence collected by individual fleets is shared between all allies (I think it's set that way). For example, the whole fleet can receive information on what Nagato's fleet and her surveillance vessels have detected. In other words, even if I sit back and not do anything, I can still see the map slowly expand to reveal the positions of various planets, asteroid belts and enemy vessels.

Despite this, the whole battle map still looks very vast. So being able to swiftly detect the enemy's position becomes very important as it's the key to victory.

There are two weapons available. Lasers and missiles. Lasers can hit any enemy vessels that enter its range. Missiles are much slower, but they have a homing device attached. So it's impossible to dodge them. In order to survive, one must shoot them down.

Generally speaking, this is a two-dimensional space battle simulator. As this battle simulator is real-time and not turn-based, if one were to play in a relaxed manner, they would be wiped out by the enemy in no time, so it's kind of tricky here.

Facing the imminent battle ahead, we entered gaming mode the whole week. Only Haruhi sat at her commander desk using the desktop computer, while the remaining four of us had to stare at the notebook computers on the long table, constantly clicking our mice. Looks like this surreal scene is going to be part of the SOS Brigade's activities for some time. We first practiced against the computer, and even though we had the difficulty set to "VERY EASY", it still took us three days to score our first victory. Our progress in gaming skills is just as fast as slowly drilling through the earth's crust with an electric drill.

"Man! I got hit again! This game is driving me crazy!"

It wasn't just Haruhi, even I was extremely annoyed at getting such a score against the computer. But this had nothing to do with the computer difficulty, but rather due to someone who kept impatiently charging her fleet into enemy lines and getting annihilated.

"We're going to have to rework our strategy."

I moved my eyes away from the screen, which was showing the words "GAME OVER" with melancholic music.

"We'd better reallocate the attributes for each of our fleets, especially your commanding fleet."

There are three adjustable attributes for each fleet, "Speed", "Defense", and "Attack". Each player starts with 100 points, and these points are allocated to the above three attributes at the beginning of the game. Like "Speed 30," "Defense 40," and "Attack 30." Haruhi kept adjusting her fleet to "Speed 50," "Defense 0," and "Attack 50." As a result, the hull armor on her vessels were as thin as paper. I really wanted to tell her, "Don't underestimate the galaxy!" That girl just wants to rush in and sink the enemy. Even with me and Koizumi trying to shield her, if her commanding fleet gets wiped out as a result, then there won't be a starfleet for her to command.

"I can't take this anymore! This is so troublesome! What's so fun about this game? Can't it be more simple?"

Despite complaining, Haruhi still decided to restart the game. The screen on my notebook computer once again shows the logo for <The Day of Sagittarius 3>.

Haruhi cheerfully clicked her mouse and said,

"It would be better if this was a role-playing game. They would play the Evil Dark Lord, while I'd be the Fated Hero. It'd be great if we got straight to a boss battle right after the opening movie. I've always wondered, why do these bosses always hide in the dungeons? Wouldn't it be better for them to appear right at the beginning? I'd certainly do that if I were the Dark Lord. That way, the Hero wouldn't need to waste their time wandering around in the dungeon, and the story could come to an end quickly."

I ignored Haruhi's insane ramblings, and looked at what the other members sitting in a row were doing. Sitting nearest to Haruhi is the Advising Officer Koizumi, followed by me and Asahina, while Nagato sat furthest away.

"This game is indeed hard to play. Maybe it's because I'm not too familiar with video games. The controls are easy, but the commands can get very tricky."

Koizumi commented in his usual way and gave the same smile as when he was playing Othello. On the other hand, Asahina, who still wore her maid costume even though it was not necessary for this occasion, said,

"Uwaa~. I just can't move this as I want it to. This game is set in space, but why are our movements limited to the second dimension?"

She asked such a basic question, while amateurishly moving her mouse.

I can understand the concerns of these two members, but I was totally mystified by the remaining member.


Nagato Yuki looked at the screen intently like a mathematician trying to solve a highly advanced math problem. She was the first to get used to the game; unaffected by Haruhi's fleet charging blindly, it was thanks to her precise command of her fleet that we were able to score our first and only victory.

Of course I took precautions. During lunch break I told her not to use any tricks like magic or data manipulation. Nagato stared at me for a few seconds, then silently nodded her head. The burden on my shoulders instantly lightened a lot. Thanks to this, I was able to take on this game without any worries. If we really do beat the Computer Group, then it must be a mistake on their part. It's only natural for humans to make mistakes. Yup, I've even prepared excuses to shirk off any responsibilities.

All that's left is to formulate a strategy where we can give the enemy a run for their money, then come up with a tragic script where all our efforts end in vain. Oh yes, I must remember to burn Asahina's secret photo album onto a CD-ROM as well.

The week passed by like the tumultuous autumn weather, the fated day has finally arrived.

Haruhi led us to our seats in the Literature Club room and we waited for the battle to commence. The Computer Study Group also stood by in their club room, staring at their monitors, which were counting down the seconds before the battle began.

Before the battle begins, the screen shows the stats for each fleet. It's actually just the names and what types of vessels each fleet has. The fleets' vessel counts and positions were classified.

Starting with the commanding fleet, the Computer Group's fleet names were <Dies Irae>, <Equinox>, <Lupercalia>, <Blindness>, and <Muspelheim> respectively.

Even the names sound so revolting, I have the impression that they had a lot of free time on their hands making up such names. However, it seems I wasn't the only one who wasn't interested in how they come up with their names.

"How annoying! From the right side we'll just call them Enemies A, B, C, D, and E. The commanding fleet is A."

Haruhi swiftly gave the enemy fleet their new names, and completely discarded the egotistical sounding names. Speaking of which, if you could do that, why not change the name for my <Kyon Fleet> as well?

"The battle's about to begin. Everyone listen up, we must take the initiative, this is only the beginning. Our enemy is not only the Computer Group. Only by total annihilation of the enemy can the reputation of the SOS Brigade be spread all over the galaxy! Sooner or later, I'll contact the Education Ministry and have them set up branches for the SOS Brigade in various public schools nationwide. Just ambition alone is not enough, you need to learn to ask for a bigger cookie!"

I wonder what everyone here thinks of Haruhi's megalomaniacal delusions. Koizumi flicked the loose muscles on his chin with his thumb; Asahina tucked the sleeves of her maid uniform; I pretended do some deep breathing and sighed deeply; while Nagato's brows moved a little bit.

"Forget it. It's not like we'll lose anyway. I forbid you to show mercy on them! Showing mercy to the opponent is the biggest insult to them! If you want to fight, give it your all!"

I've always wondered, what is the raw ingredient for this confidence? How I wish she would share some with me, even two milligrams of it would do.

"Really? Then let me cheer you up."

I don't know what was going on in Haruhi's head, as she began staring intently at me.

I don't know what was going on in Haruhi's head, as she began staring intently at me.
I don't know what was going on in Haruhi's head, as she began staring intently at me.

Don't look at me like that so seriously. No matter how long you look, there's no way I can give you a lucky Tarot card.

And so, we looked at each other for up to ten seconds, in the end I couldn't stand it anymore and moved my eyes away first.

At this moment,

"Well? You feeling better now?"

Haruhi gave a victorious smile. I didn't know that sort of staring game can raise one's spirits.

"I focused my energy into my stare and channeled it into your body! Don't you feel all warm right now? You should be sweating now, right? Next time I think I'll do that to anyone who looks depressed!"

I beg you, please don't stare at people like that in front of others anymore, because my mind has misinterpreted Haruhi's intention to channel her energy into me as an intention to plot something against me.

"The battle will commence soon."

Hearing Koizumi's enthusiastic voice, my vision returned to the computer screen. Asahina looked nervously at her own screen as she began to mutter to herself,

"......W...what should I do? I don't think I can do this......"

Don't worry, it's just a game. No one's really going to die. Even if there are casualties, it'll just be the computer monitors.

Let us pray that Haruhi won't end up throwing all the computers out of the window in anger.

1600 hours.

The marching tune signaled the commencement of the battle for the computer's ownership.

At first, the <SOS Empire> starfleet had devised the following strategy.

<Yuki Fleet> would take the vanguard position, with the <Koizumi Fleet> and <Kyon Fleet> behind covering the sides. Much further behind would be the <Mikuru Fleet> and <Commander Haruhi Fleet>.

......That's it, really.

Upon being asked to send surveillance vessels to scout the area, Haruhi simply replied, "Too bothersome!" since she's only interested in charging forward and destroying the enemy. It was a fact that she wasn't going to be of much help even before the two fleets had clashed.

Asahina was of even less help than Haruhi, so we allocated all the supply vessels to her fleet. Hence the triangle indicating the <Mikuru Fleet> was slightly larger than the others, and as a result, her movement was much slower. I gave her a clear instruction, "If you are approaching the battle lines, hurry up and get away." I believed that to be the most suitable action for her.

Besides, Haruhi's fleet attributes have now been set to "Speed 20," "Defense 60," "Attack 20." This was mainly due to the fact that if Haruhi's fleet gets destroyed, we would lose the battle, so raising her defenses became a priority. Fighting in the front lines, Nagato, Koizumi and my fleets were all given even attributes of "Speed 33", "Defense 33", "Attack 34". It was arranged this way because we had intended for Haruhi to stay behind while we buy time for her. But in no time, the situation has now become like what was described in the beginning of this story.

Right now, as I had mentioned to everyone in the beginning, the simulation battle between the Computer Study Group and the SOS Brigade is imminent.

"All right then, I'll retreat to the back first while you take care of the enemy. Mikuru-chan, let's sit back and watch the show."


Sitting to my right, Asahina nodded her head obediently, then said in her sweet and soft voice,

"Good luck, Kyon-kun."

That was really an effective motivational call. If the commanding fleet was the <Mikuru Fleet>, then I would block all the missiles that came her way, without hesitation. Yet I had to be in charge of protecting that tyrannic despot. If I were a feudal lord with a sizeable military force of my own, I would definitely turn against her. Sadly, this game doesn't provide a "Mutiny" option. Oh well, I'll just have to do my best and take on the enemy ahead.

1615 hours.

Nagato suddenly began typing fast on the keyboard. She was so fast, it was hard to see with the naked eye, literally. It looked as though she regarded the mouse to be too inconvenient. I don't know when she began, but Nagato had created her own Macro program for <The Day of Sagittarius 3>, allowing her to command her fleet more directly through the keyboard. Thanks to this, the bravery and tenacity of the <Yuki Fleet> was certainly an eye-opener. Its ferociousness in battle could probably match that of Belisarius of the Byzantine Empire under Emperor Justinius' rule. Unfortunately, they were badly outnumbered.

The only fleets engaged in battle for our side were the <Yuki Fleet>, <Koizumi Fleet> and <Kyon Fleet>. The enemy had four fleets engaging us, save their commanding fleet <Dies Irae> (Enemy A) which was hidden. From all the past battles, we have learned one basic lesson: the outcome is usually decided by the numbers of both sides. Being three against four, our chances of uncorking the champagne bottle to celebrate were very slim. Our chances would hardly increase even if we threw Haruhi's and Asahina's fleets into the front line. If we did that, it would just make the enemy's work of destroying us all at once much easier.

"The enemy seems to be luring us with a crane wing formation."

Advising Officer Koizumi whispered to me,

"If we chase them, we'll fall right into their trap. I suggest we stay put and concentrate on our defenses, what do you think?"

It's useless telling me, I think it's a good idea, but what matters is Haruhi's opinion.


I looked over Asahina's shoulders and at Intelligence Officer Nagato's face.

I don't know what the reason was, but Nagato was surprisingly more proactive than usual. Her face was as blank as always, yet, since the battle began, her eyes had been fixed on the screen, and the vessels of the <Yuki Fleet> were already in active battle. What inner emotion of Nagato's had <The Day of Sagittarius 3> triggered?

"Analysis" - Nagato hadn't been lying when she said that. This emotionless alien-created living humanoid interface has now fully understood the Computer Study Group's self-developed game like the back of her hand. She probably knows the game better than its original creators. As long as she is here, all computers created by modern Earth civilizations are like antique clocks made before the Industrial Revolution for her, and can be dealt with easily.

Yet, Nagato's pupils have gone from her usual glowless obsidian black to a glittering chromed silver color. I was beginning to miss her old self......

Showing an energy never seen before, Nagato continued typing on the keyboard, with swift motions. Her eyes were moving around the screen, never stopping once. She had discarded the Graphical User Interface for the game and had opened a small window of her own, where she insanely keyed in her commands nonstop.


The <Yuki Fleet> moved swiftly, constantly sending out surveillance vessels which worked hard searching for the enemy fleet's position. We now knew that ahead of our empire's fleet lay <Enemy B> and <Enemy C>. Nagato engaged them both on the front line, all on her own. I'd better go and help her, I can't just stay behind and watch.

Just as I was about to move, the <Kyon Fleet> got showered by a rain of lasers from its side.

"What the...!?" I exclaimed.

"Ah...damn!" Koizumi shouted as well.

I looked carefully and noticed that the <Koizumi Fleet> was under heavy bombardment on its port side. <Enemy D> and <Enemy E> had suddenly come out of nowhere and attacked us both left and right. In no time, the vessel count for the <Kyon Fleet> had dramatically decreased.

"What the hell are you doing!?"

Haruhi yelled at me using a yellow loudspeaker.

"Now go retaliate properly for me! Show them what we've got!"

I'd do that even without your reminding. These guys sure are gaming professionals, to be able to sneak through Nagato's surveillance network, but we can't go on getting beat like this.

I gave the command for the <Kyon Fleet> to change directions. At once the entire fleet turned 90 degrees to the right. Then, when I had locked down the enemy within my shooting range, I fired...... but, just as I tried to do that, <Enemy E> quickly turned around and disappeared into the darkness of space. Now that pissed me off, and I sent out surveillance vessels to scout for his position, but I could not find a single enemy vessel.

"Damn, they got away."

It seems like they have employed a hit-and-run strategy using fleets with high "Speed" attributes. <Enemy D>, which was attacking the port side of the <Koizumi Fleet> also took its cue and disappeared without a trace. Now I get it, Enemies <B> and <C>, which were engaged in battle with the <Yuki Fleet>, were diversions, while their main forces were <D> and <E>. In that case, their commanding fleet, <Enemy A> doesn't even have to fight and can hide safely in the depths of the galaxy. That seems to be their overall strategy.

"Wah~~......I'm scared~~......"

Despite her clumsy movements, Asahina had precisely steered her fleet to the corner of the screen. Though she was a bit too far away to be able to provide supplies to our fleet's depleting defenses. Even then, at this rate, our fleet would be wiped out before we would even have to worry about running out of energy and missile supplies. The <Computer Group Federation> had seized the initiative.

From then on, like wild dogs returning constantly to the scent of a sweet bone, <Enemy D> and <Enemy E> continued to harass the <Kyon Fleet> and <Koizumi Fleet> with their hit-and-run tactics. Every time we gave chase, they would release their homing missiles and disappear without a trace. We were currently struggling to deal with these frustrating tactics. Slowly depleting our strength while avoiding a one-on-one showdown is the sort of tactic that Haruhi hates most.

On the other hand, fighting on its own, the <Yuki Fleet> has tactically evaded the wave attacks of <Enemy B> and <Enemy C>, and provided us with some much needed relief. If it hadn't been for her fleet, we would already be floating in the galaxy as space debris. Even if we should lose this battle, she should at least get an award for bravery.


Nagato didn't even look like she was breathing as she stared into her screen; never once did her hands stop typing on the keyboard. I bet the guys from the Computer Group were looking surprised as well, since I was surprised myself.

Has Nagato been infected with Haruhi's unyielding attitude?

1630 hours.

The situation has now gone from bad to worse.

Realizing that the <Yuki Fleet> wasn't easy to deal with, only <Enemy B> stayed behind to take on Nagato. With the exception of the their commanding fleet <Enemy A>, whose whereabouts were still unknown, the remaining three fleets have now begun a well-timed wave attack on us from our left and right. I was impressed with how well Enemies <C>, <D>, and <E> were coordinated, when <C> was targeted, <D> would come out to attack; and when we gave chase to <D>, <E> would fire its lasers at us. Dealing with their diversionary hide and seek methods, I had the impression I was taking on seasoned professionals and was certainly not enjoying it at all. I really wanted to ask them to not push too far, but when I remembered this battle concerns the fate of a few computers, I sort of sympathized with them.

Yet our situation was not optimistic at all. Like I said before, our chances of losing were near 90%, but I had wanted to lose in blazing glory. At least allow our ships to sink gloriously in the midst of all the glittering explosions. I mean, can't you give us the feeling that "we lost, but that sure was fun, and we did our best"?

But look at this! We're now dying a slow and ignominious death!

"I can't take this any longer!"

I should say this was expected, Haruhi now gave her commanding fleet a simple command.

"All fleets full speed ahead! Kyon, get out of my way! I'm going to find their leader and beat the crap out of him before returning victoriously!"

As the <Commander Haruhi Fleet> wanted to speed past the <Kyon Fleet> and <Koizumi Fleet>, we both quickly surrounded her fleet in a fish like formation.

"What are you doing!? Koizumi-kun, are you trying to stop me from destroying the enemy as well? I order you to back off at once, or you'll be relieved of your duty as Advising Officer!"

"I certainly do not intend to get in your way, Commander."

Koizumi may have said that, but he had no intention of giving the command to move his fleet off.

"Commander, please allow us to take charge of this situation. I am willing to risk my life in protecting Your Excellency to the very last moment. As for my punishment, I'll let Your Excellency decide that once the battle is over."

"That's right."

I decided to help Koizumi.

"If you really want to raise our chances of winning, then stay put. Besides, we still haven't found their commanding fleet."

"That's why I have to go search! He should be around here......" She pointed at a spot on her screen, though we of course couldn't see anything from our seats. "......I guess. I'm going to go there in a straight line, and then have a one-on-one battle between us leaders!"

I don't know where she's headed, but I fear that before she gets there, the <Commander Haruhi Fleet> will become like a beehive that gets attacked by a bear before its winter hibernation.

Haruhi now clutched her mouse and ordered her fleet to charge forward as though trying to pick a fight with someone.

"That's why staying put isn't going to help a lot! What the hell!? Your <Kyon Fleet> just keeps letting the enemy run away! And your forces are depleting as well! Looks like I need to move out after all!"

"That's why I'm telling you to stay put first!"

I commanded my own fleet and blocked the path of the commanding fleet, Koizumi did the same thing without saying a word. Perhaps realizing the situation we were in, the three <Computer Group Federation> fleets continued their hit-and-run tactics, while Asahina's <Mikuru Fleet> was now lost in some unknown corner of the galaxy.

"W...where is this place? Oh dear~~. I can't even tell left from right anymore......"

Sitting to my right, Asahina continuously looked into her screen and mine. She was close to tears as she said,

"Where is everybody......"

I'm so sorry. Please just wander wherever you like and continue to be a lost child. It's for your own good.

Thanks to the <Commander Haruhi Fleet> getting stuck on the backside of the <Kyon Fleet>, I was unable to move and have basically become a shield for Haruhi's fleet. Wave after wave of attack has made my fleet's triangle indicator shrink smaller and smaller.

"Out of my way!"

I couldn't even if I wanted to. The ungrateful <Koizumi Fleet> had already dodged aside before Haruhi rammed her fleet into mine, pretending to be busy engaging with <Enemy D>, while leaving the troublesome task of stopping Haruhi to me.

I tried my best to move my fleet, which was now merged with the <Commander Haruhi Fleet> and clicked my mouse frantically, trying to drag it to a suitable spot on the screen. The ever shrinking triangle representing the <Kyon Fleet> now changed direction at a snail's pace. But as snails move very slowly, my fleet was constantly being locked on to and hit by enemy lasers and missiles.

This is it, we're done for.

Even if I had to raise the white flag, I was left with no choice. Please try to understand, our commander was simply too dumb, even if we had a very slim chance of winning. I think I should have deserted her already before the battle began. No matter what the situation, if the leader isn't calm, then there's no way an organization can work efficiently. I may not know the details, but hasn't it always been like that?

As I continued to bicker with Haruhi both in the real world and the virtual world, the most far-sighted and calmest member of the SOS Brigade continued to battle on.

......That's what I thought at first.

I later realized that wasn't the case, because the member sitting farthest away on the long table suddenly increased the speed of her fingers, so fast that if I didn't record it with a high-speed camera and play it in super slow motion, it would be nearly impossible to see clearly what was going on.

Being frustrated to the point of losing her cool had always been Haruhi's privilege. But this time, this rule may not be entirely accurate.

Right now, the one showing more passion than anyone of us here is none other than the pride of the SOS Brigade, the knowledgeable Intelligence Officer, bookworm and original Literature Club member......


Nagato Yuki.

1635 hours.


An unbelievable scene unfolded before my eyes, and I gave a foolish yell as a result.

"What the hell just happened?"

The visible areas in the map of the <SOS Empire> have now expanded to three times their previous size. The positions of Enemies <C>, <D> and <E>, which kept appearing and disappearing, can now be clearly seen. One of them was on the left wing preparing to fire lasers at Koizumi's fleet; another moved off and turned around again, preparing to make its next attack; while the third one had the immobile <Kyon Fleet> and <Commander Haruhi Fleet> locked in its firing range. As for why the enemies' position could be clearly seen, this was because......

The <Yuki Fleet> had divided itself into twenty fleets.

"This is too incredible!"

Koizumi's praises sounded empty to me.

"As expected from Nagato-san to notice this feature. I had thought of using it as well, but as it was too complicated, I gave up before even trying."

"Wait, Koizumi," I said, "Is this feature even in the instruction manual?"

"Of course! It's right at the back. You want me to teach you? First hold down the Ctrl and F4 key, then decide the number of fleets you want your fleet divided into......"

" thanks, I don't think I'll ever use it."

I once again examined the screen.

The triangle representing the <Yuki Fleet> had shrunk dramatically as if being shone on by some strange light. Replacing it were twenty small triangles of equal sizes. I moved my mouse cursor over one of the small triangles, and it indicated the words <Yuki Subfleet 12>.


Of the little triangles labeled 01 to 20, some continued to engage themselves with <Enemy B>, some sneaked past the gaps in the enemies' defenses to scout the unknown areas of space, while others either flew around or came to support the struggling <Kyon Fleet>.

Koizumi, would you please care to explain?

"Well......this function allows you to divide a single fleet into two or more subfleets and give them separate commands. The most you can divide into is twenty-seven, if I remember correctly. That's what the instruction manual said."

"What're the advantages in doing that?"

"As you have seen, the area being scouted would increase, it's like having twenty extra pairs of eyes. Besides this feature, another advantage is that by dividing your fleet, you could have one subfleet act as bait while the other can sneak behind and ambush the enemy. But this feature seems to be too complicated, which is why even the Computer Study Group didn't use it."

Koizumi leaned his face towards me and said in a voice which Haruhi couldn't hear,

"This is because these multiple subfleets can only be controlled by one player. Because when you concentrate on one single subfleet, it's not possible to look after the other subfleets, which would basically be immobile puppets. It simply is impossible for a human to command twenty or more subfleets."

I imagined the horrified looking faces of the people next door, and then turned my head sideways.

"Hey, Naga......"

The sound of Nagato hitting the keyboard no longer gave the usual clattering noise, but now sounded like all the keys were being slammed at the same time.

"'t you break the keyboard if you hit it so hard......?"

Asahina asked looking terrified at Nagato, but Nagato didn't even look at her. Her eyes were fixed on the screen, which was no longer showing the game graphics, but a black background with a bunch of letters, numbers and symbols, which reminded me of those BIOS interface screens from the computers of the dinosaur age. What's more, the words and symbols were scrolling by at an incredible speed.

Her eyes were fixed on the screen, which was no longer showing the game graphics, but a black background with a bunch of letters, numbers and symbols... the words and symbols were scrolling by at an incredible speed.
Her eyes were fixed on the screen, which was no longer showing the game graphics, but a black background with a bunch of letters, numbers and symbols... the words and symbols were scrolling by at an incredible speed.

"What is it?"

Nagato asked me without even turning her head.

"......Um, I......"

Na, Nagato-san? May I ask what you're doing right now?

I now felt an invisible pressure emanating from the aura of Nagato's slamming of the keyboard. Even my mutterings were now becoming polite.

I reconfirmed what I saw on my screen, the twenty <Yuki Subfleets> were like animated tea leaves being granted with life, toying around with the enemy. There was no problem with the game interface...... no, wait a minute, didn't I specifically told her not to cheat?

"I didn't."

Nagato replied. For the first time she turned and looked at me, while her hands remained busy as usual.

"I did not perform any data manipulation. I have obeyed the rules of the game as you told me to."

As if afraid of being scanned by Nagato's vision, Asahina inadvertently backed off. Nagato's eyes were now staring straight into mine.

"I did not carry out any actions beyond the limits of this simulation game."

"I...I see. Sorry for doubting you."

I felt a terrible aura now rising from her short hair.

Yet, Nagato's expression and gaze remained the same, not carrying any emotions at all. Normally, she would reply in a calm tone, "I see." And then fall into silence. But this time she gave me an unexpected reply.

A very shocking reply indeed.

"It is the people from the Computer Study Group whose actions could be considered as cheating, not mine."

At the same time, Haruhi's fleet broke through the protective barrier of the <Kyon Fleet>.

"Too slow! Why is it so slow? Would it be faster if I poured some mineral water over the computer?"

She may have been complaining, but Haruhi couldn't hide her excitement at finally being able to move.

I leaned forward over Asahina and quietly asked Nagato,

"What do you mean when you said they're cheating?"

Without stopping her high speed typing, Nagato replied without any emotion,

"They are using commands not present on our computers, giving them an advantage over this virtual galactic battlefield."

"What commands?"

Nagato fell silent for a while, as if trying to reorganize her thoughts and blinked,

"Their search mode is turned off."

After saying this, she then explained further in a calm tone.

According to Nagato, the Computer Study Group had set their battle mode with "Search Mode Off" at the beginning of the battle, while we had no such option available to us. But I still don't understand what the difference was between "On" and "Off". What does it mean really?

"When search mode is turned on, the players would have to scout the area ahead on their own. When it's off, they wouldn't need to do any searching. They have nullified their search mode, rendering it obsolete."

Erm......could you please elaborate further?

"When search mode is off, the whole map would be shown."

In other words......

"From the beginning, they could see the whole map of the galaxy, including the location of all of our fleets."

For Nagato, that was the simplest, most straightforward way of explaining it.

"That is not all."

The alien-created living humanoid interface continued without smiling.

So, the vessels of the <Computer Group Federation> even have teleportation devices built into them. No wonder they could disappear at will. The <SOS Empire> is at least 500 years behind them technologically. It's like the samurai infantry of the Sengoku period facing off against the Self-Defense Force artillery. There's just no way of winning.

"That is correct."

Nagato also confirmed what we already knew,

"Besides losing, we didn't have any other choice."

Didn't? Nagato was using past tense. So, what about now? When I was hoping she would change to present tense, I noticed Nagato's obsidian eyes revealing a stirring emotion I had not seen before. I sat back upright and said,

"But Nagato, I still hope to continue playing this game without the use of any alien powers. I know those guys are cheating, but that is also why we mustn't resort to cheating with magic as well, or we would be no different from them. No, we would be worse then they're, since your magic isn't even within the bounds of this Earth."

"I will not go against your instructions."

Nagato replied immediately,

"I was trying to rewrite the program under the boundaries of current Earth technology. I promise you, I will not manipulate any existing data information. I will take measures to counter the Computer Study Group within the limits of human ability. Please allow me to do that."

Are you asking me?

"The one who placed a limit on my data manipulation abilities is you."


I've known this girl for nearly half a year already. During this time, I've noticed beneath her emotionless face that she was experiencing some very minor emotional changes - that is if she had any emotions - but I do have a certain degree of confidence in this. At that moment, I saw revealed on Nagato's pale face, in microscopic proportions, a very determined look.

Asahina looked at me, terrified. Koizumi also looked at me, but with a smile of course. Only Haruhi was shouting something, firing away her lasers and missiles. At this rate she'll run out of ammo and will be surrounded by enemies. There isn't much time for me to decide.

How should I decide? ......I hesitated for a few seconds, it's rare for Nagato to be so passionate. I think this is the first time I've ever seen her like this. I was considering whether this was a good thing or not. She may be a living humanoid interface created by the Integrated Data Sentient Entity, that resembles a human in every way, but as with the most perfect artificial intelligence, there may come a day where even she would desire to be human herself.

Never once did I believe that this wasn't a good thing.

"Very well, Nagato. Go ahead and do it."

I gave an encouraging smile and slapped my chest to reassure her,

"As long as it's within the confines of human ability, then you're welcome to do whatever you please. Give those guys at the Computer Group the scare of their lives. If you can scare them into not daring to ever demand compensation from us again, which is what Haruhi would like to see, even better."

Nagato stared at me for quite a long time - at least for me it felt like a long time.

"I see."

A simple response later, Nagato hit the Enter key. Just like that, the tables were instantly turned in our favor.

1647 hours.

The cunning trap has now been laid.

Though the sudden change in situation had me speechless, my level of astonishment was merely that of a rookie Shaolin monk who has just begun his training; it was nothing compared with that of the Computer Study Group, who were probably now in total pandemonium as if Wall Street had just crashed.

This was all thanks to Nagato's cloning techniques. I was really grateful that Nagato was on the same side as I was. I even thought of buying one or two presents to thank our mighty goddess Nagato. Maybe I'll get her an interesting book next time. Speaking of which, when is her birthday?

No matter, we can discuss those details later. For now let us return to the present situation.

As if the players' fears were being manifested in the virtual world, the enemy fleets on the screen all stopped moving one by one.

It seems Nagato has hacked into the Computer Group's five computers using her notebook computer and directly rewritten the program for <The Day of Sagittarius 3>. Don't ask me how she did it, how should I know? I may not have understood that part, but I was sure what her sole objective was, and that was to forcefully turn on the search mode for the enemy as well. As a result, the visible map of the <Computer Group Federation> would have shrunk dramatically, and the shrouded areas on their screen would be increasing as well. Before that, they had had no need to send out any surveillance vessels, and in fact they have never done so, according to our Intelligence Officer.

After locking the enemies' search mode into the "On" position, Nagato went further and rewrote the game's source code and had it locked as well. Now no one else was able to change the code besides herself. However, she didn't delete the teleportation function, but instead made some minor adjustments and executed these changes. This was part of a little plan that Nagato had thought up.

She did all of the above while commanding her twenty subfleets at the same time, and without using any mysterious alien powers to boot. Even within the boundaries of human ability, she was already exceptional.

"Excellent, now comes our chance for retaliation."

Koizumi carried a happy smile and commented on the current situation on the screen,

"Please have a look here, Enemies <C> and <D> have been intercepted by the various <Yuki Subfleets>, and have lost track of our positions. <Enemy E> is currently engaged in combat with us. As for <Enemy B>, he will soon enter the firing range of the <Commander Haruhi Fleet>."

"Enemy sighted!"

Haruhi's excited yell was proof of Koizumi's accurate commentary.

"Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!"

Haruhi continued to yell like a maniac, her forehead nearly hitting the screen.

The <Commander Haruhi Fleet> has been released from its sealed state and is now firing on all cylinders, releasing all its lasers and missiles and charging towards the enemy. The terrified <Enemy B> quickly turned around and tried to escape, but my <Kyon Fleet> was already waiting for it.

"Oh no you don't."

I moved my finger and clicked, releasing all the lasers I had at <Enemy B>.

"Damn it Kyon! That's my prey! Back off!"

Attacked from both sides, the fleet size of <Enemy B> was quickly decimated. The indicator for <Enemy B> then made a small buzzing noise and began to blow up like fireworks, marking its farewell from the screen.

Looking for her next prey, Haruhi now moved her mobile weapon discharging fleet to the side of <Enemy E>. Already struggling with Koizumi's fleet, <Enemy E> now had to take on two fleets, and its vessel count decreased dramatically.

Now in a desperate situation, <Enemy E> finally decided to throw all honor out of the window, and for the first time used the hidden command only they know of in front of the <SOS Empire> starfleet.

"Hey! It's disappearing! Wha...How is this possible!?"

Haruhi shouted, I knew the moment had finally come. Under heavy bombardment from both ends, <Enemy E> began to slowly disappear from its spot.

That was its teleportation function. Though strictly speaking, it should be called something else, since there's no such thing as teleportation in this day and age.

However, they had fallen straight into Nagato's elaborate trap.

"Huh? Something else's coming out this time."

When Haruhi asked that question, I had already stopped what I was doing.


Asahina made her cute scream, blinking her eyes and staring at her screen.

"Kyon-kun, that thing I'm controlling, I don't know where it went......"

<Enemy E> wasn't the only one being teleported. With the exception of the <Commander Haruhi Fleet>, which remained in its original spot, all other fleets on both camps have now undergone spatial transportation.

This is because Nagato had rewritten the program as: "Once the Computer Group utilizes the teleport option, then with the exception of the <Commander Haruhi Fleet>, all fleets from both camps will be forcefully teleported. After teleportation, they would appear at their designated spots."

This is called "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." Only that our cheating was much more subtle.

Right now, I guess the chaos in the room next door should be even greater than when their search mode was forcefully turned on. Because appearing on my screen was the enemy's commanding fleet <Enemy A> (originally called Dies something) making its first ever appearance. I confirmed its location and shrugged my shoulders,

"I guess this is what they call karma."

The Computer Group president's <Enemy A> was now right in front of the <Commander Haruhi Fleet>. Right behind it was the <Mikuru Fleet>, which had also been teleported, and was unscathed. Its starboard was now being targeted by the <Koizumi Fleet>, which had been teleported a few inches, targeting its left was now the recombined <Yuki Fleet>, and hanging around nearby was the nearly obsolete <Kyon Fleet>, which had shrunk a lot from its original size. As for the other fleets of the Computer Group, they were now scattered across the four corners of the galaxy. Even if they rushed back at full speed, there was nothing they could do to help.

And so, <Enemy A> was now completely surrounded by the entire fleet of the <SOS Empire> and had no means of escape.

"I don't know what on earth's going on, but......"

Haruhi now revealed a very exhilarated look and raised her hand,

"All forces fire at will! Cleanse the enemy's commander in the fires of hell!"

Under her command, Haruhi, Koizumi, Nagato and I all emptied our fleets' weaponry at the same time. Even Asahina, who shuddered at the cold voice of Nagato going, "Fire," frantically made her first ever attack of the day on the surrounded <Enemy A>.

"I'm so sorry......" Asahina said.

The Computer Study Group president was completely taken by surprise. He probably had wanted to hide in a safe spot to enjoy the show, only to first have everyone's search mode forcefully turned on, and then get suddenly transported right in the middle of the enemy fleet to die.


Sigh. I quickly withheld the words I was about to say. Koizumi gave me a cheeky smile. I'm going to pretend I didn't see that.

I turned again to my screen, the president's <Enemy A> fleet was now being showered by lasers and missiles, like a capsized turtle struggling to move around. Well...... he pretty much deserved it. They were the ones who cheated first. Though later on we cheated even more thanks to Nagato Yuki, so we weren't qualified to criticize him too much.

Nagato never stopped keying the firing commands into her keyboard. The vessel count of <Enemy A> was decreasing at the same rate as our ammo count. Finally the <Yuki Fleet> fired a laser beam with an error margin of a few decimal points and decimated the remaining few enemy vessels with perfect precision. That was the last thing the enemy fleet saw before meeting its demise.

A light marching tune began to play, and the flashing words on our screens signaled that the battle had finally ended.


1711 hours.

Ten minutes after the battle had concluded, someone came knocking on our club room door.

Rushing in looking abashed were the guys from the Computer Study Group. The president said in a dispirited tone,

"We've lost, we've been completely beaten. We now offer our surrender. I'm terribly, terribly, sorry, please forgive us. We've totally underestimated you, and we've made a mistake, a very terrible mistake."

Standing in front of the apologetic president, whose head had bowed so low looking like a sundial, was Haruhi carrying a beaming smile. Under the watchful gaze of the Lord Haruhi, the Computer Group members quickly went pale and fell silent.

"You've even discovered our little tricks...... it's true that we employed dishonest methods, but we never thought...... that the source code could be rewritten right in the midst of the battle...... it was unbelievable, but it really happened......"

The president looked wearily around the room as if entering another virtual world. Haruhi raised one of her brows and said,

"What the hell you muttering about? I have no time to hear excuses from sore losers. You still remember our agreement?"

She joyfully waved her finger, giving an indication that read Don't think you can get away with this. Completely indulged in the joys of victory, Haruhi never felt that the battle was won too unnaturally. For this girl, a victory is a victory.

"I bet you have nothing to say right now. The desktop here is now mine, as well as those four notebook computers over there. Don't tell me you've forgotten ever saying that, if you did, then I'll have to sentence you to a horrible death! Right, I think I'll give you a smaller sentence, go run ten laps around the school field naked and shout 'I'm being chased by little green men!'"

Haruhi's unreasonable demands now made the members of the Computer Study Group droop their heads even lower. I don't know if I should pity them, or whether it's just the atmosphere being too tense......

"Ah...... yes, I'll go brew some tea for everyone."

The ever understanding Asahina now stood up and walked towards the kettle, while Koizumi smiled sardonically and helped take out some paper cups. Nagato continued to sit in her steel chair, looking emotionlessly at the dejected and broken guys now standing in a row in front of Haruhi.

As Haruhi enthusiastically made her speech, one of the members, the president that is, walked slowly towards me.

"Hey," he whispered to me, "Who was that person? With such elite hacking skills, they could go anywhere in the world...... actually, I think I've guessed who it is......"

Nagato lifted her head to look at me, while the president turned to look at Nagato.

Oh well. Even an outsider can tell that Nagato is the brightest of us all.

"I need to talk to you."

The president said to Nagato,

"Whenever you're free, would you mind coming over to the Computer Study Group to hang out...... I mean, help out occasionally?"

He began his persuasion. A while ago, he was still looking like a dead fish being left to dry in the sun, and now he was suddenly back to life again. This usually happens to people who have surrendered completely, when they quickly throw all dignity out of the window.

Nagato now looked as though she'd had a motor installed inside of her. First she looked at the president, then turned to look at me. She didn't say anything, and just stared at me with those dark crow-like pupils, giving me a questioning gaze.

Nagato now looked as though she'd had a motor installed inside of her. First she looked at the president, then turned to look at me a questioning gaze.
Nagato now looked as though she'd had a motor installed inside of her. First she looked at the president, then turned to look at me a questioning gaze.


What's she doing? Transmitting telepathic waves? Or does she want me to decide for her? You're putting me in a difficult position with that expression of yours (though there's no expression at all). He was asking you, surely you could decide on your own? It ought to be like that.

As learned from Nagato, I tried to reply with a speechless gaze......

"Hey! What do you think you're doing?"

Haruhi now came and interfered,

"Our Yuki's not for you to borrow so easily! You'll have to ask me first!"

Haruhi sure has a talent for eavesdropping, she had heard everything that was being said. Looking at her with her hands on her hips, I even wanted to commend her.

"Now listen up! This silent girl is an irreplaceable member of the SOS Brigade. I laid claim to her first, so she's not going anywhere!"

In the beginning, you actually laid claim to the Literature Club room, not Nagato.

"What difference does it make? I wanted both the club room and Yuki from the beginning. Everything in this club room, even a stale bottle of coke, is mine and is not for sale!"

Mine, all mine! Haruhi puffed up her sailor uniform and proclaimed her sovereignty over the room fearlessly.

"Umm, hold it,"

I gave it some consideration and finally said.

I may not look it, but I'm confident that I understand Nagato's expressions better than anyone else. After all, I actually met Nagato three years ago. Though Nagato has been flawless in withholding all emotions, I've still felt that she isn't entirely emotionless. I noticed it when she was stuck in the endless summer vacation, and I felt it as well during this showdown. Oh yeah, I've nearly forgotten, it was the same during our time in the public library as well.

Even Nagato would have things that she is fond of.

Come to think of it, during our <The Day of Sagittarius 3> showdown with the Computer Group, the one showing most enthusiasm was Nagato, and not Haruhi. Looking at how she typed in her commands on the keyboard, I knew she was pouring even more passion into this game than into her reading. Though I had no idea of knowing whether that was a side effect of requesting her not to use her powers to cheat. But I just felt she really enjoyed herself when she was keying in the commands. If she had a new hobby besides reading, I think it should be encouraged. Instead of staying in the SOS Brigade headquarters as an ornament all the time, it would be a good thing if she tried to experience school life more often and interacted with other people.

I would think Nagato gets tired of observing Suzumiya Haruhi all day. Even alien-created living humanoid interfaces need to take a break occasionally.

"Go ahead and do whatever you please."

Today, I decided to take the president's side.

"You like computers, right? Then, whenever you feel like it, go play with them as much you want. Even if it's just helping them detect bugs in their own developed games, I'm sure they'll be very grateful. And you probably have a better chance of getting in touch with advanced gaming tools if you go there."

Nagato remained silent, but I noticed a slight shaky movement in her face. She seemed to be asking me whether it was actually fine or what she should do. Her dark candy-like eyes revealed the same sort of hesitation shown when not knowing which move to make in a chess game.

It felt like she considered this for a long time, when in fact it only took three blinks of her eyes to decide.

"......I see."

Before I asked what she had decided, she mechanically nodded her head and looked at the president, and said without changing the tone of her voice,

"I can come occasionally."

Of course, Haruhi was bound to complain.

"We were the ones who won, why do we have to lend our most important member to them? Nagato's loan is expensive, I tell you! Yes, 1000 yen per minute!"

If it's only 1000 yen per minute, then I'm willing to pay.

"Commander Suzumiya."

Finished drinking his warm tea, Koizumi now approached Haruhi with a relaxed smile,

"Your Excellency, sometimes it's important to show mercy to the vanquished. Besides occasionally showing off their might, having a generous spirit is also a pre-requisite to becoming a great leader."

"Hmm? Really?"

Haruhi's mouth now resembled a duck's beak......

"All right then. If Yuki feels okay about it...... However! I'm not returning the notebook computers to you. Oh, and......"

Stopping halfway, Haruhi suddenly thought of something. Haruhi stared at the president and gave a gleeful smile. She sure has a lot of expressions.

"The vanquished have to listen to whatever the victor says. That's the cruelty of war."

She snatched the tea from the tray which Asahina had quietly brought over (I think it was called "Karigane") and swallowed it in one gulp. She then said,

"From now on, you're to swear absolute allegiance to me. I will treat you well, since I only merit people in terms of their ability. As long as you work hard, I'll promote you into proper members of the brigade as well. Let's say......ah yes, let's say if we have to face off with the Student Council, you'll have to stand by to receive my commands. Until then, you're just preparatory members."

At this rate, does she plan to assimilate the whole school into the SOS Brigade? But Haruhi was too joyful to pay any attention to my worries,

"Koizumi-kun, go prepare a treaty."

"Understood, Your Excellency."

Koizumi gave the cunning smile of a powerful regent pretending to obey the commands of the young emperor he had installed, and sat in front of his newly acquired notebook computer and began typing away.

A few days later, the scenery in the club room remained unchanged, save for the increase of a few unused notebook computers.

Dressed in her maid costume, Asahina wiped the room clean with a mop then went to the kettle to boil some hot water; Koizumi was playing board games on his own; and Nagato sat in her corner quietly reading her book. Before Haruhi talked, we all enjoyed this brief moment of peace.

In this normal scene in the SOS Brigade club room after school, sometimes, very rarely, the bookworm alien would be missing from the room. Whenever I noticed she'd gone missing, she would quietly return a few minutes later to read her book. Personally speaking, I feel Nagato is the true master of this room.


Reading a foreign detective novel in its original language, Nagato didn't seem to have changed a lot on the outside. It was hard to say about the inside...... not even I would know that.

As usual, Nagato would spend most of the time here in this room. Occasionally like an unpredictable breeze, she would float over to the room next door, and that was enough.

"Kyon-kun, here's your tea. This time I'm trying Chinese tea. Hee is it?"

I received my teacup from the gently smiling Asahina. After tasting the tea, I realized my tastebuds were being given a sensation that was similar to that of the other tea leaves that she had brewed. As long as it's served by you, even wheatgrass juice will taste like wine to me.

While thinking of what words to use in my reply as Asahina awaited my response, I pondered; I don't suppose I'll get dragged into any strange events any more.

It was just before Christmas and the winter vacation that I found out how wrong I was.

When Suzumiya Haruhi disappeared, I realized I was terribly mistaken.

(The Day of Sagittarius End)

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