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Opposite Worlds - INTERACTIVE

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“What we have here is a battle for the ages! And, once and for all, we’ll finally find an answer to the eternal question: who has peak performance? The man of the future? Or the man of the past?”

Shuichi knew the basic premise of the reality show, but now that he was actually here, he was having second thoughts. The host was a monochromatic talking bear, for one. The fact that he, and the rest of his team, were dressed in what could generously be described as “cavemen Halloween outfits” was another. The women had to wear fur bikinis, which should have been distracting, but considering one of them said she’d kill any man who looked at them funny was more worrisome.

“We’ll have each of our teams living just like the people of their time period!” the bear continued. “Team Epoch will live without modern conveniences like electricity and will have to survive with their rugged physical might! Meanwhile, Team Chronos,” the bear waved at the other group “will live with everything handled for them via computerized systems. They’ll grow weak and soft as they only rely on their minds.”

But how true could that be? One of the contestants was huge, well over six feet tall, while the other was…was that a robot? That part made sense, at least. He was the only one who wasn’t wearing the “future outfit,” matching yet featureless grey tracksuits.

Still, something about the arrangement didn’t seem fair. The show was to take a few months, that wouldn’t be enough time to get very strong or weak. It would have been fairer to put Shuichi on Team Chronos, since he wasn’t very physically strong, but maybe the producers made it this way to make it more interesting.

He hoped.


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Gonta was unsure of what the various panels and buttons on the walls were supposed to do. Luckily for him, it seemed no one else did, either.

“C’moooonnn, there has to be a help page somewhere in there.” Kokichi was poking the robot.

“I am just as in the dark about the accommodation as you are!” he exclaimed.

“How are you in the dark?” Gonta asked. “The lights are on.” They were very bright and very white. Gonta was already getting a headache.

“It’s a figure of speech.” Kokichi sighed. “The two of you are sooooo easy to figure out, I won’t have any trouble manipulating you later.”

“What does that even mean? It’s robophobic to think you can control me however you want!”

“But we should work together,” Gonta added. “We are on same team.”

“So? There’s only going to be one winner, and that’s going to be me.” Kokichi turned and waltzed out of the room, but not before throwing back “Good thing we have the two of you to crush the other team until then.”

Gonta didn’t want to hurt anyone, that wasn’t the point of this show. There wasn’t any fighting, any hunting animals, and there wasn’t supposed to be any trivia or quizzes. Gonta had already lived like a caveman for so long, so he would have been a natural fit on the other team. But maybe there was a reason the show put him here instead.

Kibo turned to the glass wall. “What are they doing?”

The longest wall of the house shared a wall with the structure for Team Epoch and they could easily see each other.  Several people were huddled over something. Gonta walked over and could easily see from his vantage point.

“They trying to make fire.”

“Are they doing it right?”

“Gonta think so. They have all the right things.”

But nothing seemed to be working. The wall was soundproof, so he couldn’t make out what they were yelling at each other, nor could he give them help.

He hoped they would be able to figure it out. Sleeping without fire was not very fun.


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“Don’t worry, I got this,” Kaito proclaimed before trying, and failing, to light a fire. Shuichi felt like he was doing the right things, moving the stick back and forth fast enough to create heat via friction. But something wasn’t working, and he wasn’t sure what.

“This must have been part of your survival training,” Kaede said. “I bet you can help us in so many ways!”

Maki shot her a look. “When would an astronaut need to build a fire? There’s no oxygen in space.”

“Well, maybe…what if he splashes down in the wrong place and has to survive on a deserted island until help arrives?”

“He’d still have the capsule and his suit, dumbass.” Miu pushed her way through the onlookers. “He might be able to Mcgyver his way out of a wet paper bag, but that doesn’t mean he can find new solutions to old problems.” She stuck out her hand. “Hand it over, let an actual genius do it.”

Rantaro chuckled. “That’s not exactly how we’re supposed to approach this.”

“The fuck would you know about it?” She plopped down next to the assembled materials for the fire and began examining them more closely.

“This is a game, with rules, but there’s still the unspoken rules of how we’re supposed to play. We’re people of the ‘past,’ we’re not supposed to use science to find solutions to our problems.”

“You can’t brute-force a fire,” Maki said. “You could steal it from someone smart enough to make it, but there isn’t anyone else.”

“Uncontained fire doesn’t seem very ‘future’-y. If a cameraman or someone accidentally leaves a lighter, we couldn’t use it, since that breaks the spirit of the game. Besides, you don’t want to get kicked off the show for breaking a rule, then you risk not getting paid at all.”

Shuichi glanced back at the corner that served as the “kitchen.” There were knives (very dull), a table, a pot suspended over a hearth and a wooden bucket with food. “A lot of things are pretty…anachronistic. Like I don’t think cavemen had giant loaves of bread.”

Miu snorted. “Can you imagine the liability if they make us chase down deer or some shit like that? Hey, one of you idiots grab me some twine.”

Shuichi complied, getting it from the kitchen. The rough natural fibers felt cold against his hands. It struck him as odd, but why?

Miu had fashioned together a bow drill and told Kaito to do all the hard work. Everyone was leaning in expectantly for any whiff of smoke, but a sinking realization came to Shuichi. He shivered.

“What if the tinder is too…damp?”

Now all eyes were on him.

“I mean, I could be wrong….”

“Are you shitting me?” Miu shoved Kaito aside and dug the material out of the fireboard. “What the hell? You know this is supposed to be dry, right? Or is that too complex for an astronaut?”

“Hey, I was using what was already here! If you have anything else, I’d love to see it!”

“I-I’m sure we can figure this out,” Kaede said. “There’s no need to—”

“Do you want to freeze your ass off? You’re dressed just as skimpily as me, and I’m not gonna f—”

“Let’s watch our language, okay?” Rantaro added.

“Oh, fuck off. We can’t metagame our way out of this one.”

“They wouldn’t let us freeze to death,” Shuichi said. “The show would be over too quickly if we all got sick and had to drop out at the same time.” Surely, they would step in if things got dire.

“Helloooo everyone!” Angie came in with Tenko. “Good news! We have running water!”

“That’s the opposite of what we need,” Miu spat. “We can’t make a fucking fire.”

“Hrrrmmmmmm.” Angie took a moment to think. “Have you tried…praying to Atua?”

Shuichi couldn’t make out what was being said, now that everyone was shouting over each other. The shadows of the room softened a little and he turned to the light source.

Standing on the other side of the glass wall was the entirety of Team Chronos, watching everything falling apart on the very first day. And though there was no sound, it was obvious that Kokichi wasn’t even bothering to hide his glee at the absolute shitshow he was witnessing.


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Gonta felt bad for the other team. Every day he would wake up and could get anything he wanted, assuming he could figure out the controls. Kirumi and Tsumugi figured it almost immediately, though only Kirumi was willing to use the automated systems to order for the others.

But the others…how could he not feel guilty? They looked miserable. They had no fire to cook their food, so they were eating raw vegetables and cold, hard bread. They moved sluggishly, as if their sleep wasn’t restful.

It didn’t feel very fair. They were supposed to be living like the people of the past, but they weren’t able to hunt or forage for food. They didn’t have the materials to create new things, like clothes. But maybe they had bugs; there were none in the future house, which was a great disappointment.

On the fifth day they were to face their first challenge.

“Since it’s the first week, things will be a little different,” Monokuma explained. “Normally we have the lovely folks at home tell us who their favorite contestants are, but since the first episode hasn’t aired yet, we’ll have to do it through…combat!”

Pyrotechnics went off behind the bear, but it was hard to see, as he was standing on a deck next to a huge column that stretched maybe 20 feet high. All the contestants were on the ground craning their necks to see.

“We…fight?” Gonta asked warily. It would not be very fair for anyone to fight him. And he didn’t want to hurt anyone. But there was no one to ask, since Monokuma was too busy talking directly into the camera.

“…Surely he doesn’t mean we’ll fight atop of the pillar,” Rantaro said.

“Are you blind? Those are fall mats.” Tenko pointed to the blue flattish things in a haphazard ring around the pillar. “I better not have to fight a girl,” she muttered.

“We’re screwed,” added Miu.

“No, team, we can’t get up!” Kaede exclaimed. “We might not be able to beat Gonta, but there’s everyone else! We’re the team for strength, and this is a battle of strength!”

Kiyo chuckled. “We cannot discount the enemy based on their weakened physical state. Their belief in themselves could overcome any obstacle.”

“Orrrrr maybe they’re too hungry to put up a fight,” Kokichi interjected. “You have been watching them this whole time, haven’t you?”

“Of course. They are the most fascinating part of this experiment.”

“Our first matchup!” Monokuma shouted. “From Team Epoch, Miu!”

“Hah! I can outwit all of them in my sleep!”

“And her opponent from Team Chronos is…Gonta!”


 Gonta fretted over what to do as he climbed the ladder to the top of the pillar, Miu taking one on the other side. And he kept thinking as he waited for her to reach the top. He didn’t want to fight a girl, especially one dressed like…that. And she could absolutely outwit him. Probably everyone on Team Epoch could. But Gonta was supposed to be an intellectual! There would be a way through this!

Miu finally finished climbing the ladder, out of breath. “I’m still gonna win,” she huffed. “I’ll….” She trailed off as she caught sight of the others on the ground. “Oh wow we’re high up.”

“Now,” Monokuma interrupted, “what kind of battle would this be without weapons?” He tossed each of them something long and black, sort of rectangular. Gonta couldn’t tell what this is.

“Is this a—” Miu yelped as a blue arc of light appeared at the end of the object. “You gave us cattle prods?”

Monokuma shrugged. “Hey, I don’t make the rules, I just follow ‘em. Now, fight for my amusement!”

A spotlight fell onto the arena, leaving the space beyond the surface a black mass. Miu adjusted the weapon in her hands, her stance.

Oh, right, this was a fight! Miu was moving right at him, and fast, too fast for Gonta to think. So he swatted her away and she fell.

“G-Gonta sorry!”

“I-I-I’m not beat yet…!” Miu staggered to her feet and lunged.

Gonta moved to the side, deciding that was better than hitting her. Instead, she stumbled over the edge and into the darkness. Then there was a large thump.

“It looks like we have our first winner!” Monokuma stated. “Looks like the ol’ dodge is still popular in the future!”

Gonta peeked over the edge to see Miu getting to her feet and being ushered away by show staff. After he climbed down, he ended up joining her to the side, where they could sit and watch what was happening on a monitor.

“Is Miu okay…?”

She sighed contentedly. “This is probably the first warmth I’ve felt since coming here.” She pulled the shiny, crinkly blanket tighter around her. “This is worth a few bruises.”

The next match was Shuichi vs Kirumi. It wasn’t a very long one, as Kirumi moved swiftly and with purpose. Shuichi was disarmed and pushed off the edge before he could figure out what was happening. They joined them just as the third match was to begin.

“Is this, uh, safe?” Kibo asked. “I do not think sudden high voltages applied to my body are within my standard operating parameters.”

“You won’t have to worry if you never get hit!” Kaito stated.

This was a real battle, blows being dodged or blocked with the weapon. Miu and Shuichi were yelling at the monitor, cheering Kaito on.

“Team Epoch might win this one,” Kirumi said. “Kibo doesn’t seem designed for combat.”

Kibo swung down and Kaito blocked. Then he flinched. Something was wrong, Gonta realized, that wasn’t a normal reaction to have in a fight. But Kibo didn’t seem to notice, swinging again and getting Kaito in the shoulder. He began to crumple and was knocked off the pedestal.

The sound of the fall came but it was different.

“Was that…,” Shuichi began, but he was cut off by all the show staff scrambling to the area.

“It’s a good thing this isn’t live,” Monokuma said, “otherwise we’d have to cut to commercials, and what fun is that?”


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“This is nothing!” Kaito said, before the ambulance doors slammed shut and whisked him away.

“Who knew we had a killer robot on our team?” Kokichi said with a smile.

“Killing is wrong! I-I’d never do that!”

“Even so,” Rantaro said, “wasn’t expecting something like that happening so soon. This is probably still the first episode.”

“Why are you talking so weird,” Himiko mumbled.

“If we quit now, we’d be letting Kaito down!” Kaede said. “He wouldn’t want us to give up!”

“She’s right!” Shuichi said. It felt like the right thing to said, but he was unsure. At least he wouldn’t need to fight again.

 Monokuma waddled up to the group. “I just got the latest word from God, and you know what they say, the show must go on! Now, everyone, get back to your places. Let’s pretend this never happened, in case these are shown out of order.”

Team Epoch could still turn this around! Tenko and Maki could probably win their fights, and Rantaro seemed full of surprises, so he had a decent chance, too. That only left Angie and—

“Kaede will be facing against Kiyo!”

But she believed in herself, and her team, while Kiyo looked like he could be snapped in half by a brisk breeze. And she fought, valiantly even, but the exhaustion and weakness from their entire ordeal was too much and she, too, went over the edge. Shuichi held his breath waiting for her to get to her feet.

She arose with a grimace. “I think…my hand is broken.” Once more show staffers rushed over to her and she, too, was off in an ambulance.

Monokuma growled, frustrated.  “What the heck! We’re already way behind schedule. We gotta keep moving. Rantaro, Tsumugi, you’re next.”

Rantaro looked at the pillar for quite some time. “No, actually, I’m not going to do that.”

“I agree,” Tsumugi said. “3 injuries in one challenge is much too many.”

Monokuma grumbled for a bit. “That’s a fair point. Wouldn’t want to get the show shut down before we even air the first episode. Everyone, go back home, we’ll figure this out tomorrow.”

That night in Team Epoch’s ramshackle leanto was even dourer than usual, now that two of their own were missing. Not to mention that they lost every single match. Maybe this would convince the show to give them a break, give them some new, actually dry tinder. What they were going through didn’t reflect the implied time period.

The next morning was bright and sunny and they met on the lawn outside. Kaede was standing next to Monokuma.

“Hey guys,” she said tiredly. There was a metal splint on one of the fingers of her left hand.

“I brought you back your favorite cheerleader, good as new!” Monokuma proclaimed. “Wouldn’t be very fair of you to lose two people in one week.”

Kaede returned to her team, who were all happy to see her, but there were the inevitable questions about Kaito.

“I did see him at the hospital,” she said. “I…don’t think he’s coming back.”

“I would like you to know that the producers worked very hard last night to ensure we could go as intended,” Monokuma said. “Even though we didn’t complete all of our battles, we used everybody’s behavior up until this point to determine our two protected.

“Rantaro, Gonta, today is your lucky day! You’re immune and won’t face elimination next week. One of you will decide who will, but that is up to the audience! The lovely folks at home get to vote which of you they like best.”