“I know we’re on class committee, but hasn’t there been way too much work to do lately? Orino-san?”
A classroom run empty once classes were over, I aligned the edges of the printouts as I spoke to Orino-san sitting across with a sigh.
“Your yapping won’t lower the workload, Kagoshima-kun. Get those hand moving, why don’t you?”
“You’re a real earnest one, you know that.”
“Being earnest is a good thing. Don’t say it like it’s an insult.”
“Well sorry for that.”
Orino-san’s slight pout was so cute, I felt my mouth go lax.
Orino Shiori. Black hair that draped over her shoulders; her shapely nose line led into a well-orderly face, a slender neck. Giving off an intellectual air, she was the class’ committee representative. Though I just became vice-rep through my weakness in rock-paper-scissors, she announced her own candidacy and acquired her position with tremendous support. A girl with the disposition of an elder sister.
“Maaan, I really want to go home.”
“Is there some business you have to attend to?”
“Yeah. I need to pick up on the game I bought yesterday.”
“You can’t call that business.”
“It’s bonafide business, I tell ‘ya. If I don’t do my best, the world is screwed.”
“The game world, that is.”
She did have a point. With all the grudges and salvation, and revivals and plot twists, the game world seemed unnecessarily hectic, but the real world was considerably quiet. It’s a bit of a derogation of duty. No wait, is it peaceful because everyone’s working diligently?
Yeah, let’s put that on hold.
“How should I say it, it really is boring, you know.”
“… Kagoshima-kun, you use the word boring too much,” Orino-san sighed, resting her chin on her hands. “If you keep saying negative things, you’ll grow into a dull adult.”
“I don’t think it’s that negative.”
Ignoring a fixated stare from Orino-san, I look out the window.
“I don’t hate boredom. Humans are better off with a bit of time to waste. Meaning to me, boredom isn’t something to endure, it’s something to enjoy.”
These dull days of no happenings were reassuring. Abnormalities and extraordinaries were unnecessary.
“I like a laidback day-to-day”
A slight shadow stretched across Orino-san’s face
“… You’re right, a boring day-to-day, peace really is best.”
“That’s just how it is. Just being–”
“Ah, no. It’s nothing.”
I hurriedly held back the words I was about to leak. That was dangerous, too dangerous. There was no way I could say, “Just being able to sit back and talk to you afterschool isn’t bad either.”
Our work continued, some idle chatter mixed in. Perhaps because of our differing natures, it was saddening to see the difference in workmanship on display between the stacks of printouts I put out and the ones Orino-san did. Even when our only job was to paperclip them together.
“If only I had psychic powers or something, I’d get this done with in a flash.”
As I spoke, fed up of that busy work,
Orino-san gave a small murmur with a furrow of her brow.
“Psychic powers aren’t that convenient.”
It seems she bit onto the word psychic.
“It’s not like anyone can use them, both talent and effort are indispensable. Just because you put in the effort, there’s no guarantee your powers will grow, but if you don’t put in the effort, there’s no change of ever becoming strong. Psychic users are largely classified into two groups, Special and General and… which one’s better really depends on the circumstance, but…”
I was taken aback as Orino-san suddenly started speaking so unreservedly.
“But… powers’re really more of a hindrance than a talent. Like a bug that breaks out in an abnormal brain. That’s why…”
[INSERT IMAGE HERE]
When I hastily called her name, she raised a blank face.
“Oh, umm… Ahaha. Yep. It was all in an article I saw online, and all from a site without a lick of credibility so… ahaha.”
She averted her eyes from me with all her might, letting out a mighty dubious laugh.
“Thank god. I was wondering what had gotten into you.”
She had put quite a bit of emotion into her voice, so it didn’t feel like she was lying, but, well if she said it was so, then I’m sure that’s how it was.
“I never thought you’d be interested in that occult stuff, Orino-san. It’s a bit surprising.”
“N-no, you’re wrong about that. I just happened upon it. Got a slight glimpse yesterday. L-look, if we don’t get our work done soon, the teacher’s going to give it to us.”
I got the feeling she had blatantly changed the topic, but it’s Orino-san we’re talking about here, so surely she just was just trying to finish work faster. Yep. She really is a good kid.
Just like that, we continued working around ten minutes, and around the time we had finished around eighty percent of the work requested of us, an electronic beeping sounded out. It wasn’t my phone, which would mean it was Orino-san’s by process of elimination.
Did she forget to set it on silent, I wondered as I glanced over—to find Orino-san glaring at her phone screen with a startled look on her face. The sweat on her brow really gave off a sense of urgency.
Orino-san forcefully stood and grasped at her own bag.
“Something came up. I have to get going now… can I leave the rest of the work to you?”
“Sure… it’s already pretty much done, so I should be fine.”
“Thanks. I really am sorry.”
Without waiting for me to say it, Orino-san fled the classroom with the speed of a startled hare.
Despite the many questions I had, I restarted work. It wasn’t anything new, from time to time, Orino-san would suddenly vanish like that. Even in the middle of class, she might take off somewhere. While it did make me curious, I think that everyone has their own circumstance, so I didn’t intent to pry.
Orino-san would say things like, “My grandmother’s in critical condition…” or “My stomach’s suddenly…” and such, so I’m sure that’s exactly how it was. She was like a hero reporting for duty when a monster appeared, but of course, there’s no way anything like that could happen.
It seems there are various types of psychic powers.
Precognition, clairvoyance, telepathy, psychometry, psychokinesis, teleportation, pyrokinesis, the list goes on and on. With just a quick search on my phone, that many terms came out. I’d heard of each and every one of them in some manga or another. Generally speaking, Extra Sensory Perception is a sense of perception that goes beyond what can be gained through sensory organs. These abilities are apparently different from the power to physically move objects with the mind (Psychokinesis). But as ESP users can occasionally use PK-like powers as well, these two powers are put together under the word PSI(ψ) or something like that.
“Hmm. This is quite intriguing.”
After delivering the documents to the staff room and starting on my way home, I continued scrolling down my phone screen. I recalled my conversation with Orino-san and tried looking into it, but the matter was surprisingly deep. It seems psychic powers were a far more realistic existence than I thought. It‘s a proper psychological field of study, and a great many university professors have stated they ‘Can’t deny the possibility of Extra Sensory Perception’.
It seemed far more realistic to me than magic and time leaps. Well, in the end, it really just comes down to entertainment. It’s the same thing as ghosts and morning horoscopes. Do they really exist? Will they really hit the mark? Without considering anything uncouth, the people who enjoy it can just have their fun.
Reaching that conclusion, I closed my cell phone and hastened my feet.
There was nary a soul to be found in the evening’s residential district. Nor could I hear the caw of crows. I was approaching ‘Gentle Breeze Park’, a place that had seen better days. Once I made it through, I’d be right at my doorstep.
There were no signs of children playing in the park, the playground equipment lonesomely played with by the wind. As I thought, children these days all shut themselves up in their rooms and play video games. For some reason, that was a sorrowful notion.
The park was where my childhood memories were made.
Practicing my finishing move alone, or training to be a ninja, I did a lot of things I wanted to forget. Feeling a faint nostalgia, I hazily entered the park without any particular goal. And—
My right arm disappeared.
I could only blankly open my mouth.
I tried grabbing my right arm with my left—and ended up grasping at air. There was nothing beyond my right shoulder. An uncanny moment later, a deluge of blood spouted out. Split splat, the reddish black liquid slathered over the ground. I reflexively tried containing it with my left arm, to no effect. The pain finally reached me.
A shriek my words could never describe leapt free from my throat.
What could this be?
With my mind still frozen over, my knees clattered together, and I collapsed on the spot. I thought my consciousness might drift at any moment from the sharp pain.
At the end of my sight, I could see a human hand. My right arm.
It was being trodden on by a leg with the girth of a great oak. Sprouting sharp talons, a leg covered in thick fur. When I raised my field of vision, this time I caught sight of massive claws.
It was a ridiculously large wolf, the size of a truck. Its low intimidating growl entered my ear. Its lie was a pitch-black red. From its head, a sword-like horn protruded out. And that horn was recklessly slathered in blood. It was probably mine. Apparently, that horn had severed my right arm.
“—Sharpen and sharpen, and come to my hand, a sharp red–”
I heard a voice. Young and sweet, the lisping voice of a girl. Almost as if she was chanting a spell, she lined up divine-sounding words.
“—To ash. Ash to nil. Red, red and redder still–”
Looking the direction of the voice, there was a person’s shadow above the wolf.
A white robe around her body, a girl with youthful facial features floated. Her small build was surrounded in something like an aura, her pink hair tied at both sides flickered and danced the dance of flames.
A blazing spear of flames manifested in her small clutch. That spear the size of a telephone pole was thrown straight at the wolf.
The spear snapped its fangs as it entered through the mouth, skewering the beast’s body whole. An ear-rending cry of agony escaped the space lefts in its teeth. The wolf flared up, leaving no ash as it carbonized and disintegrated until it had disappeared without leaving a trace.
Relieved the battle was over, the young girl took a deep breath. Subsiding the aura emitting from her body, the girl floating through space gently landed without a sound.
In my faint consciousness, I watched the scene as if looking at a dream. The pain was gradually softening. It was a sign I would soon reach eternal sleep. The blood from my right shoulder had made a dark red carpet on the dirt. My thoughts stopped turning entirely. Oh, I wonder if I’ll die–
“T-this is bad!”
Seeing me on the verge of death, the girl raised a frantic voice. Her eyes were blinking in disbelief. Retrieving my arm that had fallen where the wolf had been, she approached bit by bit. As if her stiff air to that moment had been a lie, the way she ran was like a child.
“I’ve got to hurry! I-is he okay… the only healing I’ve ever done is treating burns but… yeah. No time to make excuses.”
Mumbling this and that, the girl touched the right arm she held to my right shoulder.
“U-umm! You have to calm down and listen, okay.”
With spinning eyes, she peered into my face.
“I’m going to cast healing magic on you. It’s even harder to use magic on people of your world than it is for those from ours, but there’s nothing else I can do here. So relax your body as best as you can, lend an ear to the voice of the planet, and please try to feel that this planet is a living being!”
I only caught around half of her words, but I managed to pick up I should ‘relax my body’, so I followed orders. Rather, the power was arbitrarily draining from my body regardless.
“—Restoration to the tears of destruction. Purification to lie alongside corruption—”
The girl closed her eyes, weaving together enigmatic words once more.
“—Bring forth that of tempestuous tranquil. White, white and whiter still—”
Gradually, my body was enveloped in something warm.
I could definitely feel it. The planet’s… pulse like something.
The next instant, my body was swallowed by white flames.
As if the cells in my body were torn apart, only to start linking together again. Tasting such a peculiar feeling of ‘healing’, I gently nodded off.
When I lifted my eyelids, the planet’s scattered night sky, and a pink-haired girl entered my eyes.
“Ah, are you awake?”
By the face before me, and the soft sensation under my head, I could tell I was being given a lap pillow.
My sense of embarrassment suddenly forced its way up, attempting to swiftly raise the upper half of my body but… it failed.
“D-don’t do that! The healing magic worked well enough, but even if your wounds were healed, it didn’t restore your stamina that was run to its very limit from the blood loss.”
My body was sluggish. I felt the sort of fatigue as if I’d sprinted full force until I collapsed.
“Umm… by healing magic, you mean…”
Crap, I went and said it, spoke the girl’s expression of regret.
“Umm, no way good sir, what do you think you’re talking about? I didn’t say anything like that.”
Scratching her head, the girl laughed an ahaha.
“Right! My right hand is…”
I tilted my head slightly to shift my vision. My right hand was… right where a right hand should be. When it was such a natural thing, it was reason to rejoice.
“… Did you reattach it?”
“Pardon? What are you talking about?”
When I asked, she blankly tilted her head.
“Umm, what was that wolf-like monster…?”
“A wolf? The Japanese Wolf went extinct ages ago.”
Strange. It wasn’t adding up.
“Wait a second… then why are you giving me a lap pillow again?”
“When I was passing through the park, I found you fallen over. Out like a light, senpai. So driven on by my sense of justice, I decided I would nurse you.”
For the next few seconds, we exchanged a wordless stare. A cold sweat was flowing down the girl’s face, and I imagined it was what I’d see if a person who usually didn’t lie forced themselves to tell a falsehood.
“… I see. So I fell asleep, did I?”
It must be because I stayed up late playing RPGs last night. That fantasy dream I saw was also surely the game’s influence.
“T-that’s right! It was all a dream! Of course it was a dream.”
“As I thought. There’s no way I would ever be attacked by a stupidly large wolf and be saved by a magician.”
“Exactly. How could that sort of black and red horned wolf actually exist in any realistic framework!”
“Huh? Did I say anything about the wolf’s appearance?”
“Aaah! Come to think of it, isn’t it about time you told me your name!?”
I got the feeling she forcefully turned the conversation aside, but that was surely my imagination. Perhaps she had just been curious about my name the whole time. She did nurse me, after all.
“Umm, I’m guessing you’re my upperclassman? I’m a freshman at Adatara high school…”
Hearing that, I took another look over the girl. The white robe she had been wearing a moment ago (though that was a dream) was gone, and she was wearing the same Adatara High School uniform as me.
… So she was a freshman? I was sure she was in middle school.
“I’m a second year, class 2-7, Kagoshima Akira.”
“Akira? What kanji do you use for Akira?”
“The same Akira from ‘to give up’(諦).”
“Hmm… how should I put it, that’s rare.”
I got the feeling she just insulted me in a roundabout way. Well, given my name, it couldn’t be helped. The name Akira should be written with of ‘Bright(明)’ or ‘Elegant(晶)’ or ‘Charming(晃)’ or ‘Cedar(彰)’ or ‘Poem(章)’… there were plenty of candidates, but of all things, it just had to be ‘give up’. I really must doubt the sense of my parents overseas (Father 65y/o Mother 35y/o, a couple with an age difference).
In elementary school, I felt of a bit of complex over it and,
‘Write out the word Emperor(帝王)—read it as Akira.’
I would say some painful things, but lately, I’ve gotten around to just normally saying, ‘It’s Akira for give up’.
“So what’re your name?”
“Kurisu Crimson Kuria. Class 1-3.”
“Hold it. So you’re… Kurusu-chan?”
I knew that name.
In April, the boys were saying something about an awfully cute half-foreign girl enrolled. I was into older girls, if I had to say, and I had more interest in the third year returnee called Kagurai who transferred in, so I didn’t care to confirm Kurisu-chan’s face.
Now that I was looking at it, I could agree.
Pink-blonde hair, and a distinct non-Japanese look to her. Large and round eyes. She was just the beauty the rumors claimed her to be.
“If I recall correctly, you’re half-foreign, right? What sort of country is the foreign half from?”
“I’m a hybrid between this world and that one. Papa is Japanese, and Mama hails from the lands of Rhulein.”
“… Say what?”
“A-AAH! I made a mistake. I’m from someplace in Europe.”
“Someplace… you don’t know?”
“Errr… umm… I-I think it was America.”
“… No, I don’t think America is in Europe.”
“Erp. I’m sorry. I’m not really knowledgeable on the geography of this world, see…”
“AaaAAh! It’s nothing! Please forget about it!”
Tears built up in her eyes as she sullenly waved her arms. That girl must be bad at geography. Everyone has a subject they’re bad at, so it’s not good to make fun of her for it. Kurisu-chan’s hot haste was so cute, I found my mood taking a gentle turn. Just because the conversation’s a little incoherent, it doesn’t bother me.
“Now then, it’s about time I get going.”
I got the feeling I had indulged in Kurisu-chan’s lap pillow too much. When I slowly raised my body, I felt the intense fatigue from before had faded. I cricked my neck and spun my shoulders. Alright. Everything’s in working order.
“It’s gotten dark out, should I walk you home?”
“Don’t worry about that. I need to go put in a subjugation report at Rhulein temple—I mean my house is close, so it’s fine.”
“I see. That’s good.”
It was our first meeting, so it was best I didn’t act too familiar. In human relations, it’s important to keep a sense of distance.
When I declared our parting and turned to leave, “U-umm,” she called me to a stop.
“Your arm isn’t perfectly reattached yet, you should get some rest for a while…”
“Haha. Kurisu-chan. You’re talking about a dream.”
“Ahaha. That’s true, but… just in case, or should I say, just to make sure… they say your dreams can try to tell you something… and, umm, the mana is…”
With the face of someone who wanted to say something but couldn’t, muttered incoherently.
“That’s right! Umm, this is about a manga I read the other day, but according to that manga, if a person who can’t use magic is treated with it, the mana will- ah, mana is something like a planet’s lifeforce but… anyways, there’s a possibility the mana might run rampant. There’s your right arm to worry about too, I want you to refrain from and harsh exercise for the time being…”
“? Umm, you’re talking about a manga, right? Why did you bring that up all of a sudden.”
“Urgh… But, but, the contents are kinda, somewhat similar to your dream, so I want you to be careful.”
She really sounded worried. It seemed she was quite the worrier.
“You’re a kind one, you know that Kurisu-chan?” I gave a smile. “I’ve always been an indoors person, so don’t worry about it. I just bought a new game yesterday, so I’ll be having my fill of it for a while.”
“Really!? That’s great.”
Her face brightened up like a flower in bloom. She looked relieved from the bottom of her heart. While she seemed a bit out there, she was a good kid. My first impression of Kurisu-chan was something like that.
The next day morning, when I entered the classroom, Orino-san apologized to me.
“Don’t worry about it. There was barely anything left to do. But what sort of business did you have to attend to?”
When I casually asked, Orino-san made a crap I have to think of something face, and after leaving a while of silence, she hit her hands together in enlightenment.
“My grandmother became critically ill.”
“Huh? Wasn’t your grandma on her deathbed just the other day?”
“T-the other day, it was on my mother’s side! Yesterday, it was on my father’s!”
“I see. You’ve got it rough…”
I recalled my grandma and pa in the countryside. They were in good health when I went to meet them last month, but they were getting on in years, so there was no telling what might happen and when.
“… Umm, don’t make such a gloomy face.”
Orino-san spoke with a sense of guilt in her expression.
“When I went to see her, grandmother immediately got better…”
“Really? That’s wonderful, Orino-san.”
I was genuinely happy. But, “… I’ll have to stop using that one,” Orino-san muttered softly with a bitter smile on her face.
“… How should I put it, you’re too honest, Kagoshima-kun. If you don’t learn to doubt people a bit, you’re in for a load of troubles in the future.”
“It’s fine. I choose who I trust. You’re sincere and earnest, so there’s no way you’d ever lie to me. I can at least tell that much.”
“… Stop it. Stop with the innocent smile. You’re hurting my heart here…”
For some reason, Orino-san held her chest with a conflicted expression.
“Ah, come to think of it, Orino-san. Do you know Kurisu-chan?”
Recalling yesterday’s dramatic incident (albeit a dream), I tried asking.
“Do you mean the first year, Kurisu Crimson Kuria? I know her. In that ball game tournament a while back, I talked to her a few times.”
“What sort of girl is she?”
“I thought she was a friendly and good girl. When she’s got such a cute appearance, she wasn’t stuck up about it at all. She felt really nice to be around.”
Hm. So same as the impression I got.
“So what’s up? Did you hear something about Kurisu-chan?”
“No. It’s nothing.”
“Hmm,” she looked over me dubiously. “Instead of that sort of childish girl, weren’t you supposed to be into mature, older sister-types?”
“H-how could you tell?”
Her perfect aim took me by surprise.
“Remember how the boys made a ruckus back in April? Taking sides between ‘half-blood beautiful freshman Kurisu’ and ‘Cool beauty returnee Kagurai’? I was sure you were in Kagurai-senpai’s faction. Me oh my. Why do boys enjoy getting caught up in such idiocy, I wonder.”
With a fed-up breath, Orino-san shrugged her shoulders. As one of those idiotic boys, I did fell cut down.
When the year started, those boy’s talks truly did focus in on those two, and just as Orino-san said, I was in the Kagurai faction.
I just joined because I was told I had to pick one or the other. Granted, I can’t deny I like mature elder-sister types.
“But I’m surprised you knew about that, something so trivial.”
“Yeah… ah, i-it’s just a coincidence, pure coincidence.”
For some reason, she spoke with a rising pitch, before abruptly changing the topic.
“More importantly, we need to talk about work, that work. The teacher made another request. Said we have to collect the career surveys.”
Yipee, more work. There’s been a lot of that lately.
But career, eh.
Apparently, this is the year when I should start giving it some earnest thought.
“Do you have any dreams for the future?”
Taking out the collection envelope from her bag, Orino-san asked me.
“Yeeaah. If you ask me, well…nothing in particular. If I can just live on in peace without incident, that’s enough for me.”
“My, my,” came her wry smile. “So you’ve got no hopes or dreams.”
“Ah, but there is one dream I want to come true.”
“And what’s that?”
“I want to live to the year 2112, and meet Doraemon!”
“Ah, you didn’t know? 2112 is the year Doraemon is born.”
“No, I knew that.”
“I have to do my best to make sure yellow Doraemon’s ears aren’t eaten by those mouse-shaped construction robots.”
“… I guess it’s not good enough to just have hopes and dreams.”
She told me off with a tired look and a sigh. Well, it’s not as if I was that serious about it. At best, I just thought it would be nice if I could.
“Have you always been like that, Kagoshima-kun?”
“Mnn, I wonder? There were a lot more things I wanted to do back then. Like ninja, pilot, and soccer player, and also—hero of justice, that sort of thing. But these days, there’s not much.”
“I see. So you woke up from the dream”
“I’d rather say the dreams woke me.”
When someone stops chasing their dreams, it’s not always because they experience the setbacks and despair you’d find in a manga or drama. Their interest in the dream itself can go cold. Always liking the same things, always dreaming the same dreams is harder than one would expect. But, well, if you called it change or growing up, it had a decent ring to it.
“Then what about you? What’s your dream, Orino-san?”
“Yeaah. A dream, huh…”
There, Orino-san gave just a slight self-deprecating smile.
“I want to become a normal girl, I guess?”
“That… so…? I think you’re plenty normal, and a girl to boot.”
“Fufu, why thank you.”
The bell rung, and our homeroom Hoshigawa-sensei entered the classroom, so we cut off our conversation, and returned to our seats. The teacher at the podium listed out our plans for the day. I listened in as I inched my left hand towards my right shoulder.
There was a slight, truly trivial off-sense to it.
As if an unknown power was swirling around my body.
Adatara High School has a Computer Club, usually called the ComClub. Their club room is on the top floor, a twenty-one-tatami room with a few computers left around.
(TL: Around 35 m^2)
Why do I know when I’m not a member? That’s because right after I enrolled, I thought I would enter the ComClub. I thought it was a club that played PC games all day so I gave it a whirl, but contrary to my expectations, they actually did some serious programing and computer customization, so I quit in no time.
The spring of this year, a disturbance broke out in the club.
The rumored transfer student, the returnee of wit and beauty Kagurai-senpai entered the club.
The club’s glasses initially rejoiced, but all resigned a few days later.
Just what could have happened?
No matter, when all’s said and done, it meant that at present, Kagurai-senpai was the sole member of the ComClub. There’s a rule somewhere stating a club needs at least five members to continue its activity, but Kagurai-senpai’s way with a computer was fearsome, and because she was entrusted with management of the school’s security, the ComClub’s existence was accepted as a special exception.
“An empress, or maybe a Yakuza boss, well something like that…”
I whispered to myself as I climbed the stairs to the top floor. It’s not like I was stalking Kagurai-senpai or anything. That level of information was pretty much common knowledge to every boy in school.
I arrived at my destination, the biology storage room. I opened the door after a knock.
“Hoshikawa-sensei, I brought the career survey forms you asked for… huh?”
The teacher wasn’t there. He wasn’t in the staff room, so I thought I’d find him here. Since they needed to be turned in by next week, I guess it wouldn’t make a difference if I did it tomorrow. I tucked the career surveys away in my bag and I left the storage room behind me.
Walking down the corridor lit by the westering sun, I thought about Orino-san. Collecting career surveys was originally supposed to be carried out by the both of us but, “Sorry. My stomach hurts so…” she said as she went off in a dash, so I took it up. For someone with a hurt stomach, she was considerably light on her feet. Perhaps Orino-san has a weak stomach. She must be used to it, but having so many stomach aches must be harsh. When I came down with diarrhea, I lightly tried cursing the world to death a few times. Alright, this time, I’ll give her a stomach wrap as a present. She’s a girl, so it goes without saying keeping her stomach comfortably warm is for the best.
As I thought over such things,
“—But——this time— finish you—”
“Gyahaha— hey— oka— umi?”
A bold and dignified woman’s voice, and a man’s voice that rubbed me the wrong way.
When I turned in the direction of the voice, I found myself facing the ComClub’s room.
“… How peculiar.”
Kagurai-senpai was supposed to be the only member of the ComClub. So why a man’s voice? Now hold on, could it be… he, um, uh, came for some fun?
No, there’s no way when it came to that proud Kagurai-senpai. But… driven on by my curiosity, I couldn’t help but move my feet towards the ComClub’s room. I quietly placed my hand on the doorknob. It wasn’t locked. I opened it ever so slightly to peer in.
It was dark in the room. An orderly line of PCs. A single screen lit a bluish white illuminated Kagurai-senpai’s dignified countenance.
Her glossy long hair that grew to her waist. Sharp slit eyes. Tall and slender, she was a beauty of the cool variety. Personally speaking, her slender, pointed chin captivated me.
I suddenly recalled a theory that stated the human chin was gradually narrowing. Apparently, as humans started eating much softer foods compared to our ancestors, the human chin was degenerating with time, growing thinner year by year. It’s said that our descendants will definitely have far narrower chins than us.
Not that such digression had anything to do with Kagurai-senpai.
I inspected the room corner to corner, but Kagurai-senpai was the only one there. How strange, then in that case, that man’s voice was…
Separated from the questions in my head, Kagurai-senpai picked up a cellphone that was on the desk. It was fashioned with a large strap attached. Around twice the size of the cell-phone itself, it was shaped like a brown teddy bear. While I was a bit surprised that Kagurai-senpai used such an adorable strap, the gap moe got to me a bit.
[INSERT IMAGE HERE]
With a slender cable, she connected the phone to her computer. She closed her eyes once, and slowly opened them. The pupils her eyelids opened up to held a sublime hue.
“Dive In B3 World! Code KAGURAI Access!”
After shouting that out, Kagurai-senpais head flopped down. Both her hands limply fell to the sides of her chair. In a posture of exhaustion, she stopped moving entirely; as if her consciousness had flown off somewhere.
I reflexively opened the door and ran in.
“K-Kagura-senpai! Are you alright? Kagurai-senpai!?”
I loudly cried her name and shook her body a few times, but there was no response.
What should I do? To suddenly lose consciousness like that, does she have some sort of illness? I think there’s a neurological disorder called narcolepsy where you fall asleep regardless of time or place, but could it be senpai has…
“A-anyways, I need to hurry and get her to the infirmary…”
I forcefully lifted Kagurai-senpai from her chair onto my back. My hands did brush against her, and I did feel the sensation of her breasts on my back, but now wasn’t the time or place to rejoice over such things.
“Ah, that’s right, her phone…”
Perhaps there was some line to contact if her symptoms came out, or a doctor’s number to call in it. I was definitely better off taking it along.
I picked up the phone and—disconnected it from the cable.
The next instant, a voice came from my back.
“W-what’s this!? Why was my line forcefully severed!?”
“Senpai! Are you awake!?”
“Whoah! W-who are you, and what are you doing!? Why are you carrying me!?”
“Ah, wait, stop struggling…”
Paying no heed to my advice, Kagurai-senpai continued flailing about, and because of that, I ended up taking a grand fall.
Rubbing her bottom from over her skirt, she pointed at my hands and cried out.
“Y-you, so you removed my phone terminal from the computer…”
Her shoulders were shaking. It did seem she was angry.
“Umm, was I not supposed to?”
“Of course not! What sort of idiot disconnects a terminal while it’s linked up!? Another second, and I’d have been unable to return to the real world!”
I didn’t really get it, but the common phrase, ‘Saving, please do not remove the memory card or turn off your system’ floated in my head.
“You let the buggles I’d finally cornered down get away! How do you plan on taking responsibility for this!?”
Ovepowered by her rapidly encroaching angry look, I ended up apologizing.
“If sorry solved our problems, we wouldn’t need space-time law!”
Ah, goddammit, she held her head making a face as if to stay, one more step, and I’d have been able to defeat my old foe, but some civilian rushed in and got in the way.
“Umm, so you’re not ill, senpai? Not narcoleptic or…”
“Don’t mock me! If I wasn’t in perfect health, I’d never pass the agent selection exam to be sent to this era in the first place!”
“Then why did you lose consciousness back there?”
“I was linked to B3 World, so of course my physical body would lose consciousness!”
Much of what she was saying sounded incomprehensible, but I pat my chest in relief.
“I see, so you’re not sick. That’s good…”
Seriously. It’s always good to be in good health.
There, Kagurai-senpai frantically covered her mouth and awkwardly scratched her head.
“Umm, I’m sorry. I may have said a bit too much. It’s not like you had any ill intent.”
“No, that’s fine. But what was all that about? B3 World and being sent to this area and such?”
When I honestly asked the questions on my mind, Kagurai-senpai’s face was filled with regret in no time. Her rage had caused her to run her mouth where it shouldn’t, that sort of face.
“U-um. W-well, about that…”
Her line of sight blatantly began to swim around the room. Aha, I’ve got it.
“You were half-asleep, weren’t you.”
“T-that’s right! I was half asleep. No, I really am sorry about that.”
“It’s fine. Everyone says crazy things when they’re half asleep.”
Just yesterday, I had caused Kurisu-chan some trouble when I dozed off in the park.
“Senpai, you’re a bit of a scatterbrain, aren’t you.”
“Erk… p-pretty much.”
It was the first time we spoke face to face, but Kagurai-senpai was far easier to talk to than I had imagined. Behind her cool appearance, perhaps she held a personality that was surprisingly intimate.
“Ah, that’s right.”
After borrowing a hand to stand, I decided I’d try asking. It was something I always wanted to ask if we ever got the opportunity to talk.
“Kagurai-senpai, your first na—urgh!”
An impact to my solar plexus. Kagurai-senpai had thrust in her fist.
“… Do you really find my name that funny? Have a good laugh? How about it?”
“N… no, I was just curious…”
My back bent over, I held my stomach as I recalled Kagurai-senpai’s full name.
… It was Monyumi.
While she became famous in school from her beauty, I thought it was also because of her considerably peculiar name.
I mean Monyumi is just… you know? Personally speaking, it’s all about that gap moe, but…
“God! What’s with this blasted era!”
Kagurai-senpai landed a punch in the wall.
“In my time, there were three Monyumi’s just in my grade, what’s so strange about it… when I was always saying, ‘My name’s real plain and boring, isn’t it’ as a kid, to think I’d get a taste of the complete opposite trauma in this year… dammit.”
Ruffling her long hair into a mess, she stamped on the ground. It seems she had gone through quite some trouble over her novel name. Well, it’s Monyumi, after all.
When I’d finally recovered from the damage, I tried to open my mouth, and at that moment,
“Gyahahaha! That’s why I told you to change your registered name!”
I heard the sound of belittling laughter.
It was the same voice I heard before entering the room. But there was no one around.
“Before you set off, old Gakuta-sama over here properly warned you ‘That name of yours is reaaally strange in the era you’re going, so you’re better of changing it’ right? But you just had to go, ‘No matter what era I’m in, I’m still me’ and act all cool. You reap what you sow.”
The voice seemed to be coming from what was supposed to be a phone strap, that brown-colored bear.
“And when you put on airs all you wanted, a little teasing was all it took to get you all hot and bothered. Gyahahaha! You sure you’re not surprisingly sentimental?”
“S-stupid! Stop talking, Gakuta!”
Kagurai-senpai swiftly suppressed the stuffed animal’s mouth.
But, well, I did think she was completely too late.
“A… a stuffed animal just talked…”
I stood in shock.
But, “Y-you’re wrong,” Kagurai-senpai shook her head.
“This is… umm… r-right. That’s right! It’s ventriloquism!”
“Hey now, Monyumi. No matter how you look at it, don’t you think you’re pushing it?”
“Shut it, Gakuta! I’m begging you, just play along.”
In muffled, quiet voices, Kahurai-senpai started getting her story straight with the bear.
“Just let the cat out of the bag. It’s not like revealing it to one civilian brat is going to effect your mission, right?”
“It will. We can’t leak any information to anyone from this era. Even if it isn’t related to the incident, I’ll be guaranteed a pay-cut…”
“Your wages going down is hardly a problem for your little AI pet.”
“Geh… you coldhearted bastard.”
“Gyahahaha! And I’m telling ya, there’s a right way to ask someone for a favor, you know. So how ‘bout it?”
“… Fine. I’ll buy you the game from this era you wanted.”
“Whoohoo! Glad you’re quick on the uptake. Retro games are my speciality.”
It seemed the meetup was finally over and Kagurai-senpai turned towards me.
“Hey there. My name is Gakuta. Pleasure to meet you.”
Stuffed animal Gakuta-kun’s speech suddenly went all polite. Kagurai-senpai was purposefully moving his mouth up and down.
“… Umm. Kagurai-senpai…”
I put my hand to my face and took in a deep breath.
Kagurai-senpai’s face was still, a large volume of sweat was building on her brow.
After leaving ample time, I spoke.
“You’re ridiculously good at this!”
Amazing. I was moved beyond belief. She was definitely better than anyone I’d ever seen on TV. Just how did she manage to make the voice sound like such a different person? Without moving her lips a single millimeter?
“I-I-I-I know right? Ahaha.”
She raised a dry laugh, as if she’d managed to play something off. Her eyes fled to the ceiling. I got the feeling I’d been hearing those “Ahaha” laughs in excess as of late.
“It really is amazing. So this guy’s called Gakuta-kun? That’s really cute.”
When I reached out my hand, Gakuta-kun slapped it away.
“Hey kid. Hands stay off, capiche?”
It came in a threatening, Yakuza-esque voice. I was hit with the soft hand of a stuffed animal, so I didn’t suffer any physical damage, but the mental wounds ran deep.
“… Ah. Sorry, senpai. I got in over my head.”
I naturally apologized to Kagurai-senpai.
“Ah, you’re wrong. That one wasn’t me?”
“What? But you’re the one talking, aren’t you?”
“Y-yeah! That’s right. I said it…”
Kagurai-senpai held her head and writhed around. It was an interesting gesture to watch. In a good sense, the image I had of her had shattered. She was more sociable than I thought, and far more abundant in expression. She even had a hobby as interesting as ventriloquism. As I thought over such things and gazed at Kagurai-senpai, a sharp voice came from the side.
“Now, now, kid. Don’t be looking at my Monyumi with those pervy eyes.”
“I’m sorry, Kagurai-senpai! That wasn’t my intention, but…”
“No, that one wasn’t me, Gakuta just…”
“What? But you’re the one who said it, right?”
“Yes, I totally said it. I totally said it, but…!”
“I get it, you’re wondering about Monyumi’s assets, are you? Aren’t you, young man? Then get a load of this. It’s 85, 56, 77 top to bottom. At one seventy three, she’s got the slender build of a model.”
“H-hold it right there, Kagurai-senpai! Aren’t you being a bit too hospitable!?”
“Nooo! Wrong, wrong, wrong! I don’t use the word assets in such an indecent way, and there’s no way I’d brag about my three sizes to a boy I’m meeting for the first time!”
“What? But you’re the one who said it, right?”
“I don’t want this anymore—!”
Kagurai-san screamed, opening a bag on the table and saying, “You’re going in the bag, Gakuto” before closing the fastener. From her pink lips leaked a sigh as heavy as lead. She seemed to be mentally worn out.
“Anyways, what’s your name?”
“I’m Kagoshima Akira.”
“Akira? What kanji do you use for that?”
“Akira from ‘give up’.”
“What’s with that? That’s an unpleasant name.”
Unlike with Kurisu-chan, she just said it straight-up. I was used to it, so I didn’t really mind.
“But your Monyumi is–”
“Did you say something?”
“… Nothing at all.”
That’s what I thought, she nodded her head in satisfaction. That was seriously scary. Her eyes just now.
“Mnn. So, um, moving on, Kagoshima…”
After clearing her throat once, Kagurai-senpai spoke with a hesitant tone. Her face tinged red, she locked her hands behind her back, fidgeting ever so slightly.
“I-if it’s alright with you, could you tell me your email?”
“…… Come again?”
“I’m telling you I want to know your email address!”
W-was I dreaming?
The aspiration of the boys of Adatara High School, Kagurai Monyumi was asking me for my email… if I could use the opportunity to get along better with her… but it would be rude to ask for her address all of a sudden, I had been thinking.
“Why do you want my…”
“Because I am henceforth legally obligated to keep surveillance on you. As long as I know your email address, I can go through the B3 World to—ah, not that. Umm… right, I just personally wanted to get along with you.”
“You personally want to get along with me!?”
What joyous words.
Only those words reverberated through my ears.
“With pleasure, just take it, Kagurai-senpai.”
“I see. Thanks for that.”
In order to do an infrared data transfer, she opened her bag,
“Gyahahaha! Hey settle down, brat. What are you grinning for!?”
Using Gakuta-kun she started her ventriloquism again.
She must really like that ventriloquism.