Fight For Your Right (To Party) ~Are You Ready?~
”Runner D, tag 9, right arm part, applying nippers to runner gate…now.”
The microphone caught his muttering voice, making it echo throughout the room. The venue had concrete walls with bare pipes and was just large enough to fit a hundred folding chairs. It was the final round and countless members of the audience were standing to watch. The crowd was eager for the game to begin, and the moment he declared the first cut of his nippers, they burst into cheers, creating intense heat and excitement that made it hard to even breathe. The countdown timer on the stage began ticking, grinding down each second of the remaining hour.
His eyes were clenched.
Each of the required parts were removed from the runners with attentive nipper handling skills, and he announced the gate removal process for the parts with ease.
”Sanding down with 400 grit…800 grit…1200 grit…apply polishing compound.”
The audience was fascinated with each satisfying proclamation.
All of the gate markings were processed. He checked the results and went on to temporarily assemble the kit before painting it.
”I now declare the pin processing. Pins on A17, remove half with nippers. Pin socket on the inner body parts on page 1 - 2, expand with modeling knifeー”
He could have chosen to announce the use of a parts opener, but the extra effort would definitely please the judges even more. The nearly eternal process of cutting the pins to make disassembling easier after the temporary assembly was finished, and he moved on to announce the parts that were to be attached.
“Pin C5, pin socket C6, engage. Moving on, announcing seam line removal, styrene cement, dehydration confirmed. Sanding down…apply polishing compound.”
The countdown timer showed that there were only 30 minutes left.
The cheering had gradually died down into silence, but the temperature of the room kept rising.
He declared the beginning of the painting process and began announcing the setup. Brushes, an airbrush, paint, and various tools were announced, but there were two that were intentionally excluded: a painting booth and ventilation.
He began with a surfacer before moving on to dilute and mix paints. He applied the paint, and by the time he had finished laying his coating solution, everyone in the audience had unconsciously covered their mouths and noses with their hands or handkerchiefs, even though there was no way of smelling the paint or solvents.
He knew he had won.
“I hereby declare the completion of the RB 79 Assault Pod.”
It was a splendid piece of craftsmanship. Everyone in the audience saw it with their own eyes…or so he thought.
“The winner of the 87th Air Gunpla Championship is Azuma Carl Thompson!”
The contest was actually a real Gunpla assembly battle event where contestants were required to create a Gunpla with as many intricate details as possible that perfectly resembled an actual kit, but all in their imagination. Ever since Carl was young, his family had lived a life that was far from luxurious. He was now a high school senior who had always earnestly assembled Gunplas in his imagination, so the “MG Ball” he had won as a prize became the very first “real” Gunpla he had ever received.
The reason Tim Barret refused to go on the cruise to the Mediterranean with his parents wasn’t because he was embarrassed to go on a trip with his parents despite being a high school senior, nor because he wanted to protest against his father’s marriage that had resulted in a stepmother who was only a year older than him. Tim simply didn’t want to miss the great opportunity to sneak into his father's study. There seemed to be a “secret treasure” that belonged to his father hidden in the room.
A “secret treasure” had to mean some kind of extraordinarily naughty data that’s hard to get online. It had to be.
The door to the study was intensely guarded, beginning with three-cylinder locks and a multitude of other types of locks. There were even various sensors keeping a sharp eye inside the room.
However, there was a master key held by the one person in the world who could unlock all of them. It was Ms. Tracy, the housekeeper who had been in charge of the house since Tim was young.
”Hey, Tracy, I want to surprise Dad by doing something good like cleaning his study while he’s on vacation.”
Tracy was touched and cried while opening the door without any hesitation, a door that even the protagonist of a mission deemed to be impossible would be reluctant to infiltrate.
It was an easy task.
But the whereabouts of the target was still a mystery.
Tim was deep in thought when Tracy told him a single strict warning while leaving the room.
“You must never open the third drawer from the top on the desk. Never…”
The third one from the top, got it. After she had left, Tim scurried over to the desk and opened it, but what he found wasn’t what he had expected.
“…An ‘MG GM Dominance’?”
So it’s hidden inside the box of this Gunpla! Tim suppressed his raging stimulation and opened the box to find over twenty runners, complex decals, and ー
”So this thin book must be the ‘secret treasure’!”
It wasn’t. In fact, it was the instruction manual for the kit.
“…If I assemble this, I might be able to make the best thing there ever was!”
It was his first time making a Gunpla. However, he managed to assemble it while wrestling with the manual, and although it certainly wasn’t the best thing there ever was...
”…Man, this looks amazing!”
Deeply mesmerised by the very first Gunpla he had made, Tim suddenly recalled what someone had said at school.
“What was it…? There was some place where bros get together with Gunplas and party hard… Oh, yeah! It’s GBN!”
“Come on! All you have to do is party all night with my one and only GM Dominance!”
”Then…” she started, her lipstick-painted lips turning up in a smile. “Will you hurry up and finish the admission process? If you do so, you’ll be able to party all you want with Divers who are much more exciting than me,” she told Tim, who was proudly showing off his GM Dominance while nagging her.
The charming receptionist of the GBN admission counter was used to handling situations like this.
The large GUNDAM BASE in Bayside Town was crowded with Gunpla fans that day as usual. While giving a sidelong glance to the crowd of people who were heading to their zones of choice, Tim tried to ask a girl with loose blond hair who was explaining the steps needed to sign up at the GBN Entry Zone on a sushi date by telling her she had better things to do, before a voice that came from the row of counters caught his attention.
“I…I’m not too good with crowds…I know I should act manlier. I’m only trying to sign up for GBN and I’m this nervous…even though I’m a world champion…” Carl stated with his head hanging down. The receptionist in front of him asked him what he was a champion of, making something sparkle deep inside his eyes.
“Well, I’m the champion of Air Gunpla Battles!”
Sensing danger, the receptionist withdrew, her short bob swaying wildly.
“Don’t you know? They’re pure and serious Gunpla building battles where you assemble Gunplas in the universe of imagination! This Ball was the winner’s prize, ”Carl said while rustling through a Discount Buy brand plastic bag and taking out a Ball fully customized with weapon parts, before suddenly gloomily slumping back down.
“I have six younger sisters and I always had to help my mother since I was young, so I never had the chance to try anything expensive… and this Ball was the very first Gunpla I ever got.”
“Is that so…” The receptionist, who had been keeping a safe distance was pushed forward by her maternal instinct and returned to her original position.
“…But all that aside, don’t you think this looks pretty good? Not everyone can make such a great Gunpla on their first try, right? And all this is because I’ve made more than ten thousand Air Gunplas. No, it’s not just Gunplas, I’ve done air everything. I go Air shopping, eat air gourmet, been on countless air world trips… and even been on air dates!”
The danger signals in the receptionist’s mind instantly switched back to red alert again.
”Come with me! For we can air enjoy an air drive under the blue sky, followed by the perfect air dinner at an air three-star restaurant! And if we get woozy from the air red wine, we can air check-in to the air top floor suite and admire the air night skyline!”
”What’s your problem?” Tim blurted out. He had seen the whole incident from the row of counters.
“What’s wrong with me? What’s your problem?” Carl replied without hiding his disinterest.
“Can’t you see that’s she’s scared of you?”
The receptionist’s angled bob was visible under the counter. It was trembling.
“Well, I think it’s because you’re bugging us.”
“You really think so?” Tim spontaneously stepped forward.
“This is GBN,” he stated with a harsh tone. “And in case you don’t know, this isn’t a place for cat-calling.”
”Well, look who’s talking!” The receptionist with loose blond hair joined in.
“If that’s the first Gunpla you made, you won’t stand a chance against mine!” Tim challenged Carl while showing off his GM Dominance.
Carl looked at the Gunpla with a cold look and replied, “You made a mistake on the parts on the arms. They’re assembled in the wrong way.”
“I’ve memorized the instruction manuals for every single MG scale Gunplas. They’re all in my head.”
This was a result of him being unable to bask in luxury, so instead he developed this knowledge by obtaining images of instruction manuals online and obsessively reading them on his PC.
“Th-that doesn’t mean that I’ll lose to a Gunpla with junk parts slapped on! A hobby shop in downtown would give out those parts for free!”
“Slapped on…?” Carl’s eyes glared with anger. “They’re not ‘slapped on’! They’re actually fused to it!”
The “Whose First Gunpla is Better Contest” was abruptly interrupted by the blonde receptionist. “Why don’t you settle the fight with a Gunpla Battle after logging onto GBN?”
“I agree!” The receptionist with the angled bob crept out from under her counter, stood up, headed to a registration system terminal and quickly took care of it. All she thought was that she was not interested in the pair and she simply wanted them to disappear from her line of sight. Her expression said everything.
”Wha-? Hey, no, um…” Carl and a confused Tim were forced into a Login Booth and their Gunplas were scanned by Diver Gears. The registry confirmation button was pressed before they were given a chance to even resist.
”Have a nice GBN!”
The two smiling receptionists had no idea of the fates of the two boys they had just sent out in the eternal world created by the headgears that spread before their eyes.
An immeasurable amount of time had passed.
There was no time limit set for the vast Dimension they were in, and the two clashed countless times while looking down on a blue planet in the corner of a galaxy filled with stardust. They had failed to settle on a winner and were far beyond their limit of fatigue.
“…Isn’t it about time you gave up already? It’ll be over then,” Tim suggested.
“…That’s my line.” That was all Carl could say.
All it would take is to admit that his Gunpla was better. That was all he needed to do to be relieved. He knew that. He knew… But doing that would be dishonorable to his opponent.
Carl realized that Tim had begun laughing.
Tim noticed that Carl was smiling.
What a wonderful moment.
Until it happened.
A flashing beam had impaled the GM Dominance.
And it wasn’t fired by the Ball.
The Gunplas looked around to find a Gundam.
“That’s a… MG THE ORIGIN RX-78-2!” Carl sputtered, and in the next moment, his Ball became also a victim of the mysterious Gundam.
Tim, who was awestruck in the cockpit of his disintegrating GM Dominance, finally opened his mouth.
“He destroyed us with one shot… He’s as strong as the devil…”
“Exactly. I am the one who owns the abyss of GBN and rules over darkness. I am the all-seeing, all-knowing fallen angel…Louis XIII.” A quiet voice echoed throughout their cockpits.
Barely managing to stay afloat, Carl said in surprise, “Do you happen to be… Are you…?”
“You’re a middle schooler, aren’t you?” Tim shouted with all of his remaining strength.
A pause that felt like an eternity ensued.
”…W-why do you know that?”
“Your name gives it away. Let me guess, eighth grade?”
“N-no! I am the true heir of Satan and the master of dark and light Lucifer’sー”
“Oh, then tell me the answer to the infinitesimal calculus problem I’m about to ask you!” Carl poured salt into Louis XIII’s wound.
“I haven’t learned that in class yet!”
“He’s definitely a middle schooler.”
“I, the master, have reservations for cram school, and will log out now.”
The Gundam with an insufferable sense for the dramatic fled, but the remaining two were left with barely any energy to go after it.
“…So, GIMM, he was a middle schooler.”
“Well, well,” said BALL.
“Wait, who’s ‘GIMM’? That’s the name of my Gunpla.”
“Check your the name you’re logged in with. It clearly says GIMM.”
“What?” Tim replied and checked the speech log to see that Tim’s Diver name was indeed “GIMM,” and that Carl’s was “BALL.”
“Oh, so the receptionists used the names of our Gunplas to register our names.”
”And they screwed up spelling mine. It’s GM, not GIMM…”
“That’s a coincidence. That’s how it was written on the Real Type models.”
”I didn’t know that.”
But that didn’t matter anymore.
“It sucks to lose against some puny middle schooler.”
“So that means our Gunpla skills are worse…than those of a middle schooler…”
Rays of sunlight creeped out from behind the moon and illuminated their faces as they stared into the distance. The two smiled in unison.
The fists of the GM and Ball fist-bumped in their hearts.