As Told By Yuki
As a humanoid interface created by the Data Integration Thought Entity, my purpose on this planet is to observe. Specifically, to observe Haruhi Suzumiya. I am aware of this. Yet there have been some incidents in which I found that active participation was unavoidable. The Day of Sagittarius III incident was not one of those. And yet I was unable to restrain myself from participating actively nonetheless.
I will explain.
It was approximately 23 minutes and 17.4 seconds after the official termination of lessons on what may be regarded as an ‘ordinary school day’ when a knock sounded on the clubroom door. Mikuru Asahina, who had been engaged in serving tea to Kyon and Itsuki Koizumi, rushed to answer it. Kyon and Koizumi themselves were in the midst of a game of Go. I was seated in the corner by the window, halfway through a novel that I had begun to read some 11 minutes and 37 seconds previously.
The visitors to the room were the president and several members of the neighbouring ‘Computer Club’, from whom Haruhi Suzumiya had extorted by means of blackmail a machine known as a ‘desktop computer’. The president had come with the intention of challenging the S.O.S. Brigade to a ‘computer game’ of his own creation, and in the process aspired to reclaim the desktop computer. In the event of the S.O.S. Brigade’s victory, the president pledged to confer four brand new ‘laptops’ upon the members of the S.O.S. Brigade (with the obvious exception of Haruhi Suzumiya who was already in possession of the desktop computer).
During the negotiation of terms, Haruhi Suzumiya decided to include a female member of the S.O.S. Brigade as part of the prize, and I was her initial choice. For 0.25 seconds I considered voicing a negative opinion in order that I might continue my observation of Haruhi Suzumiya from the most advantageous location, as a member of the S.O.S. Brigade. Even though membership of the Computer Club would not have been contingent on the termination of my membership of the S.O.S. Brigade, it would have required a substantial portion of the time that I would ordinarily have been able to spend observing Haruhi Suzumiya. As it was, the Computer Club president declined this aspect of the conditions of the competition, and it did not become an issue.
Each of us was handed a copy of the computer game, entitled The Day of Sagittarius III. That evening, after completing my homework in approximately 14.44 minutes, I read and memorised the manual and analysed the rules to the best of my ability out of their given context. I was unable to analyse the game in its proper context because I was unfamiliar with the human technological invention known as a ‘computer’.
However, the next day I found myself with the opportunity to develop such a familiarity as we commenced our training as a team, using laptops that were temporarily bestowed upon us by the Computer Club, with the possibility of a more permanent ownership if we were victorious in the upcoming competition. I was informed by Kyon that a laptop was also a computer, but a more lightweight and portable version. We were each also given a ‘mouse’, a wireless device which aided in interfacing with the computer and conveying commands to it, together with the ‘keyboard’. I spent some time analysing this device in order to determine whether or not it bore any resemblance to the Earth rodent of the same name. I came to the conclusion that the shape was similar.
Kyon and Itsuki Koizumi undertook together the task of summarising and explaining the rules of the game to the other members. Mikuru Asahina expressed a lack of confidence in her gaming abilities. Kyon encouraged her to appreciate the game as a recreational activity whilst Haruhi Suzumiya was adamant that our victory over the opposing club should be absolute. This is consistent with my observations of her character and her tendency towards “playing to win”.
I discovered that the underside of the mouse contained a laser-like device and attempted to use it to interface with the laptop without success.
Over the subsequent seven days, the S.O.S. Brigade engaged in regular practice sessions in the clubroom in order to increase their aptitude at playing The Day of Sagittarius III. Due to her high base intelligence and rapid acquisition of new skills, Haruhi Suzumiya was the most adept at mastering the game’s various functions, followed by Itsuki Koizumi and Kyon. Mikuru Asahina was by far the least adept due to an extreme lack of confidence in her own abilities, lack of co-ordination and lack of experience in the use of computers. However, Haruhi Suzumiya also lacked a fundamental capacity to employ strategy and make considered judgements whilst playing the game, resulting in a poor gaming technique overall.
Meanwhile, I had discovered that the keyboard was by far a more effective and versatile means of interfacing than the mouse, and began to experiment with the possibilities in altering the basic coding of the game: an act that was well within the rules of the game and that the particular layout of the game was designed to actively encourage, presumably to facilitate in-game updates and more advanced gameplay by its creators. I absorbed and memorised several books on computer coding in order to develop my skills in this area. I cannot state my precise reasons for doing this, though there remained the possibility that it would be of some use during the competition itself. Given that the Computer Club members all had the ability to alter the coding of the game if they wished whilst it was in progress, equipping myself with this same ability served to even the balance of power. Furthermore, based on my analysis of the president’s character and his desperation to regain the desktop computer, thus erasing the constant reminder of the manner in which Haruhi Suzumiya had obtained it, I did not expect him or his team to play fairly in the upcoming competition.
The competition itself was soon at hand. It proved a simple enough matter to hijack the wireless connection between the two rooms, utilising software of my own adaptation in order to create a replica image of the opposing team’s computer screens on my own screen. This was also not explicitly forbidden by the rules of the game. It was immediately in evidence that the Computer Club were not prepared to conduct a fair competition as they had disabled the Scouting Mode on their own machines, rendering every movement of the S.O.S. Brigade fleets completely visible.
With the intelligence I had obtained, I was able to advise the rest of the S.O.S. Brigade on the most advantageous course of action and they rapidly eliminated the first enemy fleet that they encountered. However, I desired to even the playing field in a more permanent fashion. I knew that it was theoretically possible to remotely and forcibly re-enable the Scouting Mode on the Computer Club computers, and furthermore to prevent them from disabling it again for the remainder of the competition, by altering the game’s fundamental program whilst we played. Yet I cannot fully explain why I desired to do this. The likelihood of Haruhi Suzumiya creating closed space in the event of a loss notwithstanding, it would have been possible to avert such a disaster in various other fashions which would not have required my intervention in such a direct manner. And yet still I found myself beginning to rewrite the programming of the game. I was keen to discover if it was indeed within my capability to do so. And perhaps I, too, desired victory over the Computer Club.
The first and most basic step was to split my fleet into twenty individual squadrons which could each be controlled separately. This was a fairly basic function of the game and yet one that it would not be possible for an ordinary human to make use of due to the high amount of ‘multi-tasking’ required to control all twenty squadrons at once. Indeed, upon discovering this feature in the rule book I was unable to comprehend why the Computer Club had included it in the game in the first place when they would never be able to take full advantage of it. Fortunately, as a Data Entity my brain is able to carry out up to 113 different tasks at one time without any noticeable deterioration in quality. Thus I was easily able to command all twenty of my squadrons at the same time as directing my attention towards the reprogramming of the game, a feat which itself required carrying out a great many tasks simultaneously. It is also fortunate that my movements are not restricted by the same physical limitations of ordinary humans, permitting me to move far more rapidly and with far greater precision. I manipulated the keyboard as quickly as I could without damaging it, for it was vital that I effect my alterations to the game as soon as possible before it inevitably concluded with a loss on the part of the S.O.S. Brigade.
In due course my actions attracted the attention of Mikuru Asahina, seated to my right, who was concerned for the welfare of the borrowed laptop I was interfacing with. “Ummm, uh… Aren’t you afraid you’ll break the keyboard, hitting it that hard?”
I disregarded her tentative question, deeming it unnecessary to carry out the task of conversing with her. However, after exactly ten seconds Kyon also rose from his seat and approached me. “Uh, y’know…” He caught sight of my computer screen and his tone immediately became more commanding. I was aware that Kyon was greatly concerned we did not cheat in this game, knowing that we held an unfair advantage as a team of four abnormal beings (even if Miss Suzumiya was unaware of this) and one human competing against five ordinary humans. However, I was not currently in violation of the rules of the game. In some instances, I had rewritten the rules of the game; thus I could not be in violation of them.
“Hey, Nagato.” Kyon was not as easily ignored as Mikuru Asahina, and so I briefly replied.
“I thought I told you before that we weren’t gonna cheat this time.”
“I am not. Currently I am not engaged in manipulating special data. I am adhering to the rules of the game,” I explained to him.
“Uh… You’re serious?”
“I am serious. The Computer Club is the one that is cheating.”
“They are? Then what are they doing?” Kyon appeared too surprised by this information to maintain his tone of severity.
With four key presses I opened the visuals mirroring the images on the Computer Club’s screens and then continued typing commands into the black programming windows. “They’ve deactivated their scouting mode. Since the beginning of the game, everything on the map, including our positions, has been visible.” I worded my elaboration as simply as possible in order that he would not request me to clarify. There was not time.
“It’s amazing I understood what you just said. They’ve got it fixed so that we can’t see where they’re hiding, but they can see where we are.” Fortunately, Kyon had comprehended immediately. “It’s no wonder they’re killing us.”
“Yes. Since we started playing, we never had any option except losing. I want to change that.”
Kyon sighed. Although he had understood my explanation of the Computer Club’s actions, it appeared he had not grasped the totality of what I was doing. “Okay, they’ve been cheating, I understand that. However, if we start using magic to cheat back at them, at the end of the day we’re no better than they are. You get where I’m coming from? In fact, we’d be worse than them.”
By now, the attention of everyone in the room except for Haruhi Suzumiya was directed towards our conversation. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the Mikuru Asahina was still fearfully watching my keystrokes. Diagonally to my right, Itsuki Koizumi had ceased to command his ships as he listened to our exchange. In our present situation there was little he could do to alter the balance of play. He had already sensed this.
“I repeat: I am not disobeying your orders,” I reiterated to Kyon. “I would like to modify the program in a manner that is consistent with the current levels of Earth technology, ensuring equal playing conditions.” I ceased the movement of my fingers on the keyboard, a single command away from implementing the program. I did not seek to go against Kyon’s wishes in pursuing this course of action. Although Haruhi Suzumiya was the self-styled leader of the S.O.S. Brigade, it was to Kyon that Itsuki Koizumi, Mikuru Asahina and I deferred, recognising his unique position in the esteem of Haruhi Suzumiya. He alone had the greatest influence over her actions, and unlike her could comprehend the full reality of the situations which we regularly found ourselves in; and so it was that Kyon was the real leader of the S.O.S. Brigade. Hence I sought his permission before carrying out any action which would drastically alter the course of events from here on in. “May I?”
Kyon stared at me with his mouth open as he absorbed the information I had just delivered to him and its implications. “Huh…? Are you doing this because you want to win?” he asked me. His tone of voice implied justifiable disbelief that I would do such a thing. I did not reply, but simply waited for him to authorise or prohibit my actions.
After 7.9 seconds of indecision, he nodded and smiled. “Okay, let’s do it then!”
I turned back to my laptop and pressed the ‘Enter’ key, a vital button which alone held the power to execute programs and commands. “Done.”
At the head of the table, Haruhi Suzumiya chose this moment to look up from her screen and notice what we were doing. “KYON! Get back to your seat!” she shouted at him. “Can’t you see what a critical situation we’re in?! The enemy ships are approaching! If we lose this I swear I’ll make you-” Her speech abruptly ceased as the events on the computer screen in front of her attracted her attention. “Hey, they went away again.” She smiled smugly. “Guess we must’ve scared ‘em off! They know they’re no match for the might of the S.O.S. Brigade!”
The Computer Club’s retreat was evidence of the disarray that they would logically have been experiencing in the next room on discovering that their Scouting Mode had unexpectedly been re-enabled by an outside party. It was possible to hear muffled shouts of confusion through the dividing wall, and the program which I had put into place in order to prevent the Computer Club from disabling the Scouting Mode once more registered no fewer than 26 attempts to bypass the blocker, overwrite it or otherwise revert the game’s programming to its original state.
“Hey look, I managed to sneak up on an enemy fleet,” announced Itsuki Koizumi, firing liberally upon said fleet, which was unable to react in time to defend itself. I too had located several ships using fourteen of my squadrons, deployed in different areas across the map, and was currently engaged in an exchange of fire.
“I’ve gotcha!” Haruhi Suzumiya exclaimed as she herself encountered an enemy fleet. “Fire, fire, fire!”
With the sole exception of Mikuru Asahina, who was still struggling to find her way back into known territory, the S.O.S. Brigade opened fire upon every enemy ship in sight. Their numbers quickly fell under such a prolonged onslaught.
“We’ve managed to destroy two of the enemy’s fleets,” Itsuki Koizumi reported with satisfaction after just thirty-seven seconds. “And the others are looking a bit confused. Thanks to Miss Nagato’s squadrons, it looks like the tides of war have finally turned in our favour.”
“Yeah, but the enemy leader is still out there,” Kyon pointed out. “So how’re we gonna take him out?”
“No problem,” I responded. I could clearly see the black triangle in question, bearing a crown and belonging to the president of the Computer Club, in the middle of my map. Furthermore, he was within firing range of ten of my squadrons. “I’ll force him your way.” My squadrons opened fire, and exactly as I had calculated, the ship began to flee away from the attack, directly towards where Itsuki Koizumi, Kyon, Haruhi Suzumiya and now finally Mikuru Asahina’s fleets lay in wait.
“Wow, he’s driving his fleet right into our sights,” observed Kyon.
“Just like a mouse caught in a trap,” agreed Itsuki Koizumi.
“Um, am I supposed to shoot this thing?” questioned Mikuru Asahina.
Haruhi Suzumiya stood up with a triumphant expression evident on her face. “I don’t get what just happened, but great job, guys! All ships open fire! Go out there and burn the enemy leader with all the fires of hell!!”
The four commenced firing at the Computer president’s fleet. I aided them with three of my own squadrons which were deployed nearby. However, although weakened, the president managed to continue his flight past the four fleets and out of firing range.
“He’s getting away!” exclaimed Haruhi Suzumiya in panic.
But he was not. He was only bringing himself within range of my main ship, the leader of my fleet. With a single movement I aligned my ship with his and fired. Its defences disintegrated until it was finally vanquished.
The message ‘You Win!’ flashed onto each of our computer screens. Around me, the members of the S.O.S. Brigade were all engaged in celebrating our victory. I cannot deny that I also felt an iota of satisfaction.
Despite the lengths to which the Computer Club had clearly been willing to go to secure their victory, the president did not attempt to deny his team’s loss to the S.O.S. Brigade, nor renege on the agreed terms of the ‘duel’. He stood in the clubroom, his head hung, as a gleefully victorious Haruhi Suzumiya gloated over the pile of brand new laptops. I had returned to reading my novel. Since my creation for the purposes of observing Haruhi Suzumiya, I have found the consumption of literature to be both a useful activity that allows my presence in most milieus to go quite unnoticed, as well as a diverting pastime. Due to the speed at which I process data, few other activities have proven to be as effective at holding my attention.
Yet on this occasion, the novel in my hands was occupying my attention 12.58% less effectively than usual. Perhaps 12.74%.
A part of my mind was still replaying the victory against the Computer Club. The way the programs had caused the game to bend and bow and fold under my direction. The strategy I had executed to allow our team to win.
“Hey, um.” The Computer Club president had turned to address Kyon. “I wanna know who did it. Whoever cracked that program has to be some kind of super-hacker.” But without waiting for a response, he continued. “Never mind. I think I know who it was.”
As his footsteps approached, I looked up from my novel.
“If you ever have free time, I was wondering if you’d consider... participating in Computer Club activities? Please?”
I have not spent a great detail of my time on this assignment conducting analyses of human behaviours (Haruhi Suzumiya is exempted from this category due to not being a human), save for the initial analysis required to discover two things: how to deflect attention from other students at the school, and how to obfuscate the fact that I live alone and do not have ‘parents’. Once these were accomplished, I settled into my observations without incident.
As a result, I could not discern why the Computer Club president was impassioned about my participation in Club activities. It was possible that he wished to have a rematch. However, perhaps he truly desired my presence in the Club as a result of the skill I had exhibited at reprogramming The Day of Sagittarius III.
It was a strange realisation. All of my actions up to this point had been designed to render myself as inconspicuous as possible. Yet in this recent incident I had drawn attention to myself. This had not been part of my assignment, yet I had done it anyway. Because I had been... having fun.
Miss Suzumiya immediately began to protest against the idea that I might spend time on Computer Club activities instead of remaining an exclusive member of the S.O.S. Brigade.
I did not react. I had been created by the Data Integration Thought Entity three years earlier with a single purpose, and membership of an additional club – at a school that I attended solely to further my observational mission – would not serve to further this purpose. Therefore, I should decline.
But in the short time I had spent preparing for our duel, I sensed that I had only scratched the surface of what might be possible with computer programming. Manipulating computer programs was different to the act of manipulating special data: narrower in its scope, and more constrained. Yet there were many things that could be accomplished simply by adding or adjusting lines of code.
It was a sensation similar to that of combating Data Lifeforms, but could be carried out at any time, and there was no risk of creating closed space or causing adverse impact to human life. This made it... appealing to me.
Kyon cut into Miss Suzumiya’s protests. I looked up at him, and he looked down at me for several moments.
“Just do what you want, okay?” he said. “If you feel like going next door and playing around on their computers, that’s totally cool.”
Kyon had expressed his verbal approval of my participation in Computer Club activities. This meant that Miss Suzumiya was likely to consent to it. This was something that I would be able to do with my time, if I chose.
“Oh,” I replied.
If I felt like it. I could engage in coding activities at any time if I desired it, as a member of the Computer Club. I could continue learning about programming capabilities for purposes other than ensuring the S.S. Brigade’s victory. I could do this because I wanted to, and because it was enjoyable.
“Perhaps I will,” I said.
“Seriously?! Oh, thank you!” the Computer Club president exclaimed jubilantly.
“There you go,” Kyon said to Miss Suzumiya, who placed her hands on her hips.
“I guess it’s okay if Yuki’s fine with it,” she said, confirming my previous assessment.
As Miss Suzumiya continued speaking, informing the president of the additional terms of his loss, I returned to my novel. However, instead of the text on the page, I visualised the layout of a laptop keyboard.
My fingers danced across the keys in front of me, and in my mind, strings of programming code unfolded, dictating and reshaping the rules of reality, bending it to my will.