Asobi ni Iku yo!

 
 
 

Asobi ni Iku yo! Volume 1 Chapter 3


CPC Volume 1 Chapter 3

‘Company’ Girls

May 25, 200A — Tokyo, somewhere in the government district.

“…so, what’s the decision from up top?”

“If possible, they would like them gone, and without leaving a trace.”

“Which is what we’re here for… but, wouldn’t ‘Momiji’ be good enough? I mean, isn’t that place her ‘standby location’? And, most importantly, aren’t the CIA already moving?”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s fine as long as we don’t get overtaken. Her orders aren’t to capture, but to make statements and warnings her priority.”

“But will she do as she’s told? That thing’s a real hot-head. Whether or not she’ll pick up on the fine nuance there… also, do we go with the somewhat reduced strength 6 squads, or 3…”

“That, well, it can’t be helped. The other guys almost all got sent to the hospital during that previous mess. Besides, ‘Devil’s Luck Momiji’ should be able to handle things. With that costume and those abilities, her camouflage is good enough to not worry about her identity leaking.”

“True, it’s ‘Devil’s Luck Momiji’ after all.”

“But the real issue here is that ‘Location: Okinawa’ part.”

“…that’s true.”

“What? Teacher said we were free to do whatever we wanted?” Inside the school club room, the Film Club president cocked his head.

Incidentally, because it was summer vacation, everyone was wearing their casual clothes.

“How rare for her, that Itokazu-sensei.”

“Well, at least the noisy hindrance is gone.”

The vice president and a second-year male student nodded their agreement.

“Oh yeah. The most important thing is fun after all. When filming a scene, it’s better to just shoot rather than trying to get it perfect. I mean, with digital, we can keep shooting as much as we want.”

“…about that, it’d be best to decide now what we want to get done. If we let Teacher put the plan together, it won’t even be a bit fun or interesting.”

Any more and it would become a teacher put-down convention, so, with a bitter smile, the president turned toward a more constructive topic. “That’s right, we need to try out the light meters from FISC on a steady lighting setup, but shooting the breeze and having fun trying out all sorts of new shots and angles is important too, for sure.”

Recognizing it as well, the vice president unfurled a notebook and started taking down the discussion. “For sure, for sure. Oh, and there’s a note here for testing out the use of mobile phones… do the first-years have any ideas? It doesn’t need to be anything specific. Maybe like the last movie we watched, a scene like that, might’n it be possible to shoot something like that, maybe… but then, something like bullet time from The Matrix is out of the question. There’s just no budget for it.”

Having said that, the first-years thought about it a little, and then immediately several people’s hands went up… it could be called a virtue of the president to achieve such an obedient reaction.

“Um, that, that thing, maybe, where you track a person’s movement with the camera. And I’d like to try some things like dolly shots and long takes.”

“Ah, in that case, as long as there’s string and board and some guts, it should be possible.”

“Ah, well then, me too… I’d like to try something like filming a car tire spinning as the car vrooms off… would that be overdoing it? ”

“That one… guts and courage, I guess. For now…”

“Ah, I…” Kio raised his hand as well. “Um, that… what’s it called… that thing often done in suspense films? You know, where the subject stays stable in the foreground while the background vrooms out into the distance.”

“Ah, the Vertigo effect.”

“Yeah, that’s what I want to do.”

“Yep, yep.” The vice president’s face had gradually started looking hopeful, like a grandchild asking their grandfather for the Christmas present they want, while writing down the various things in the notebook and adjusting the schedule.

“Come to think of it, if we’re taking shots of people, who do we have for the model?”

“If it’s just an hour, then someone from inside the club…”

“That just seems too close for comfort, so can’t we rope someone in from outside?”

“I suppose… Hey, first years, know anyone? A girl would be best.”

“Kio, didn’t you have a childhood friend or something?”

Alongside, another first grader smacked their fist.

“Kinjou Manami-chan, wasn’t it?”

“She’s quite the beauty, too.”

“No, that’s, wait, hold on…”

The president laughed while watching Kio getting flustered over the one-sided discussion going on around him.

“Alright, Kakazu-kun, bring her!”

“It’s an event, an event! Go raise the childhood friend flag!”

As his fellow club members started ganging up on him, raining down their own thoughts, Kio started waving his hands around. “Pl-Please stop with the stupid commentary; this isn’t some manga or game, you know!!”

“What, no good?”

“O-of course! I mean, that side has some issues to think of, too.”

“Is that right?”

“I mean, with Uncle being on a business trip, it’s not like she can come along with our club on the training camp! And to begin with, it seems like Manami-chan already has a boyfriend.”

“It was just a joke, buddy — a joke. Relax, Kio.” While the vice-president spoke, the president laughed.

“Well, it can’t be helped. We’ll just have to figure something out.”

Hearing these words, Kio sighed in relief.

“Ohh, so Kinjou already got a boyfriend.” A classmate with an aloof attitude, 17-year-old Fukuhara, spoke.

“Someone named Jack. Recently, she’s seemed really happy talking on the phone with him.”

“Come to think of it. Kinjou’s father works at the base, doesn’t he?”

“She must have met someone while over there, then.”

With somewhat bitter-sweet thoughts, Kio turned his eyes toward the clubroom window.

(Well, I did think that things wouldn’t work out so smoothly.)

The summer sky stretched across the horizon. Even while thinking like that, when he first heard about it, he felt strangely disappointed and went around the whole day in an daze that he couldn’t explain. Speaking of which, it was around that time when he started being able to resist Manami’s sharp tongue.

“Haa~” Sitting up on her heels, Eris stared lazily at the TV. The picture was split into 30 segments with the channel numbers rotating in each of them. “How nice… there’s plenty of entertainment, too…”

Spread out in front of her were the TV guide, the remote and the manual for the CS tuner, as well as a cake platter with salted rice crackers on it (different from those found in Osaka, these came in cylinders). Next to that, turmeric tea had been filled into a pitcher, and from there into a Ryukyu glass cup. Besides these, old newspapers had been spread on top of the tatami mats so that any crumbs that fell could easily be cleaned up. Having the splendid appearance of a couch potato, the girl with cat ears and a tail was flumped down horizontally.

Certainly, Kio had said “make yourself at home”, but it seems like this alien had followed his advice without any reserve.

“Meowrrr~” Her eyes narrowing into slits, she freely stretched out her body and looked lazily at the television. On it, a black and white image was showing someone sporting the now mostly extinct ‘good man with a bitter past’ look. While running around in some wasteland somewhere, the casually dressed man was killing people with wild abandon. There were also some companions: a youth wearing a white scarf and light-coloured clothing and a middle-aged man with a face like a raccoon. These were likewise felling the mob around them.

“…a period drama, I guess…?”

While looking absently at the screen, a chime sounded.

“Coming!” Suddenly remembering what she was told, that ‘it would be best if you don’t respond to the phone or visitors’, Eris quickly threw her hands over her mouth.

“Oh, someones here?” With those words, the front door rattled open. “Oi, Kio?”

“…” Crossing her arms and thinking for a bit, Eris reluctantly came out to the entranceway.

“Oh, it’s you, huh.” Noticing her was Kio’s uncle, Miyagi Yuichi. Sporting slicked back hair combed down with pomade, a mustache and a suntanned body, he was wearing a bright red palm tree printed Hawaiian shirt, white Bermuda shorts and sports sandals. On a main street he might look like a suspicious guide, while on a side street like a suspicious… well, specifically, like someone from the dangerous part of society who might deal in trafficking things like white powder and ladies who go ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’. “Is Kio around?”

“Ah, um, he went out for a bit. But it seems he’ll be back before noon.”

“Oh… I see.” With a look like he had missed his mark, Yuichi crouched down in the entrance. “So, how’d it go? Any problems?”

“Well, nothing in particular.”

“I see, that’s fine then, but… what are you up to?”

“Ah, no, that’s… well, that is, nothing really…”

“I see… um, Eris-chan, was it?”

“Ah, yes.”

“Why did you come to Okinawa?”

“Well, just some reason or other. I wanted to, so I did… eheheh.” Kneeling down, Eris scratched her head apologetically. Meanwhile, her tail moved around restlessly.

“Will you be staying here for a while?”

“Yep. There’s still some work left to do.”

“Is that so… well then, what kind of work?”

“It’s a job investigating things.”

“How dreadful, and when it’s this hot.” With those words, another person passed through the entranceway.

“Oho, don’t you seem sprightly?”

With pure white hair done up in the Okinawan  style, an old woman came bounding in energetically. Her thin, rough and bony hands gave the impression of having experienced life to the fullest. Hanging from one was a plastic bag from some supermarket. Inside, something the size of a fax paper roll could be seen wrapped up in aluminum foil and put inside a separate poly bag.

“Miyagi Yuichi, eh?” The old woman, with unbelievably glossy skin for someone over 100 years old, nodded her head with a smile.

“Yes, that’s right, grandma; I’m Yuichi, the child of Miyagi Eiko’s second son.” Yuichi bowed his head politely.

“Mhmn, mhmn.” Smiling and nodding her head, the old woman continued into the house.

“Ah, um, ex-excuse me.”

“It’s alright. It’s all fine.” With those kinds of words, the old woman briskly entered the kitchen without any hesitation, opened the refrigerator and stored the plastic bag inside.

“Hey, miss.” Closing the door of the refrigerator, the old woman spoke to Eris. “When Kio gets back, let him know that there’s ‘yakiniku’ in the refrigerator”

“Ah, okay.”

“Ah, now then, some barley tea would be nice.”

“Ah… um… ye-yes.” While hesitating a bit, after thinking about what Kio had said, that she could ‘eat and drink whatever she liked’, Eris figured that it was probably okay. After all, this old woman seemed to be an elder in Kio’s family.

“Hey, Miyagi Yuichi, wouldn’t you also like a drink?”

“Ah, yes, please and thanks.” Acting like a guy who makes himself even more at home in someone else’s, Yuichi took two Ryukyu glass cups out of the cupboard – the kind that looked full of tiny bubbles.

“Um, if it’s tea, I already made some; it’s in the other room. You’re welcome to it.”

“Ah, is that so… well then.”

Like that, the three people followed each other over. At this point, Eris finally noticed something. Apparently, these two had nothing to rush around to, in which case… “Um…” Timidly, Eris called out. “Actually, there were some various things I was hoping to hear about…”

“Ah, Futaba-san.” Inside the club room building’s humid corridor, Kio called out to to a girl with long hair reaching down to her waist. A first-year in the Modern Novel Research Club, Futaba Aoi flinched, her shoulders shaking, looked startled. Turning toward Kio, she immediately breathed a sigh of relief. Her skin was white to the point where her veins seemed lightly visible. Wearing large oval-framed glassed that suited her beautifully, Aoi held the appearance of a traditional book girl seldom found in Okinawa.

Actually, her family name itself marked her as someone not originally from Okinawa, but that had used the chance afforded by entering senior high school to transfer over. For the quiet book girl type, Okinawa was a tough place to be with it’s mostly sports-minded populous. As her outer appearance would suggest, her body was rather frail and so she would constantly take time off from school to go to the hospital. Perhaps because of this, she was much more a target for pity rather than being left out. With a portion of the male students, on the other hand, she had acquired an ardent fan base… Naturally, this was something she herself was clueless about.

“Hello, um… Kakazu-kun.”

“Hello.” In his hand, Kio held out a plastic bag from a newly opened bookstore. “Here, the DVD and tape I borrowed last time.”

“Um… yeah.” Wearing a light blue dress, Aoi acknowledged it by nodding her head and timidly accepted the bag.

With natural movements, the two started walking side-by-side down the corridor. Through a window that was left open, a wind blew that caused Aio’s long hair to sway.

“Um… how was it?”

“Right, well, the scenes in  were interesting. Looking at he way the continuously meandering streets were filmed, I felt like there was more meaning there somewhere.  surprised me even more.”

“…” Smiling brightly, Aoi nodded her head repeatedly.

“…um, I’m glad… that you enjoyed watching them, Kakazu-kun…”

“Yeah, they were interesting… after all, these sorts of videos and DVDs that only show the environment are quite easily overlooked.” While walking, Kio’s frayed nerves from the hubub before had strangely managed to calm down, and a somewhat peaceful mood descended over him. “Then, those movies… would you mind lending me some again?”

“Um, then, this time… would some regular movies be okay… ?”

“Yeah. That’s right… last time I borrowed Rainbow Kids. Are there maybe other films by the same director?”

“Um, if you’d like that… then, I could bring Westward Desperado and Warring Clans, and maybe Age of Assassins as well…?”

“By Chaplin?” Recently, since he started talking to her and building his own collection, Kio was able to pull something out from his limited knowledge of film. In response, Aoi smiled and shook her head.

“Um, no… that one just shares the same Japanese title…”

“Is, is that so… sorry.”

“Um, there’s no need to apologize… Compared with ones like Kurosawa Akira, Okamoto Kihachi is just a minor name.”

“Y-yeah.”Sighing relievedly, Kio felt a clear, peaceful feeling from her soft manner. While he was fine with his childhood friend, Manami, it was perhaps due to Manami’s nature or his introverted personality that Kio wasn’t very good at talking with other females. Aoi was one of the few exceptions.

Exiting out of the club room building, the midsummer sun’s rays pierced down on them like rain. Squinting reflexively, Kio brought his hand up to his forehead to act as a visor and waited for his eyes to adjust… Aoi, situated close behind him by the school entrance, similarly waited for her eyes to adjust.

“Ah, um…Kakazu-kun.”

“What is it, Futaba-san?”

“Um… today, are you free… at all?”

“Huh? Ah, yeah. I’m free… I think?” Flashing through his mind along with a faint anxiety was a mini cartoon version of Eris doing a strange dance. He decided, however, that it should still be okay for an hour or two.

“That’s great…” The girl gave off a sweet smile. It was a smile unsuited to the light of summer, but rather fleeting, like the . “Um, in that case, I was hoping you would go with me to buy DVDs… since I just got my allowance.”

“Sure.”

Just as they were leaving from the school gate, however, that just-made appointment had to be scrapped. Next to the two of them, a black Nissan President passing by suddenly screeched to a halt. With the power window open, a man of about 40 looking like a serious corporate office-worker stuck his face out from the hot interior.

“Hey, if it isn’t Futaba Aoi-chan.”

For a moment, Kio saw Aoi’s shoulder tremble and her face tighten.

“Ah, Uncle Endou.”

“Are you heading back now? If you’d like a ride, I can drive you by your home.”

“Um…” Aoi’s expression showed that she was clearly flustered. Kio’s intuition told him that this uncle held quite some importance to her.

Meanwhile, in Kio’s mind, a scene from a cartoon played that he had previously borrowed from Aoi. In the short animation, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the story shows how the pupil carelessly used magic while the master was away causing all sorts of trouble in its wake. This time, instead of the black mouse from america that’ll be copyrighted into the 22nd century, Eris’s face had been inserted.

(Hey, I wonder, could this be guidance from God that I had better “return home quickly”?)

Thinking that, the boy responded with a quick “It’s fine.” in a way that matched his introverted personality.

“Um… yeah, alright… I’m sorry…”

“It’s fine. When it’s convenient again, give me a call.”

“Um… your mobile number… is it still the same?”

“Yep.”

“In that case, um… how about the day after tomorrow?”

“Yeah, that’ll probably be fine, I think.” In order to lift her apologetic feelings, the boy smiled brightly for her.

“Did I get in the way?” Gripping the car’s steering wheel, Endou asked. Peeling off the ‘friendly face’ look he had previously shown, a mask-like lack of expression was all that was left.

“…” Glancing past the rear-view mirror, Aoi looked toward Kio’s retreating figure as he stood there and closed her eyes.

“No way, it can’t be that I’ve exposed your true self, have I?” Opening a normally concealed part of the backrest to expose a hidden compartment, white fingers plucked out a thoroughly worn Zippo, lighting it.

“…isn’t this a contract violation?” A quiet voice leaked from the girl’s lips.

“Well, it couldn’t be helped. It’s an emergency mission.” Endou’s face remained passive. “But, this sure is interesting. If he were to learn who you really are, I wonder what sort of face he would make.”

Aoi’s eyes narrowed… down to a razor’s edge. Tchk! Almost simultaneously, an enormous revolver appeared grasped in Aoi’s hand out of nowhere. It was a 500 Magnum built by Smith & Wesson. Among all the tumult of its release, marketed as “literally, the world’s most powerful handgun”, it was also said that, “to have a gun this powerful, what are you shooting at?” Hard as concrete, it’s huge barrel that even a pro wrestler could comfortably stick their thumb into pressed tightly into the scruff of Endou’s neck.

“It’s no matter.” Her white teeth gleamed. “I’d just need to change schools… but, before then, I’ll be killing you.” Indifferently, the girl continued, “It won’t be for some complicated reason like you interfering with my mission or budget concerns. I’ll kill you simply because I feel like killing.”

The girl’s tone was exceedingly calm, causing an eerie pressure to weigh down inside the vehicle that would cause, never mind thugs, even upper-class yakuza to shudder. Understandably, the skin on Endou’s face cramped up.

“If, if you shoot me, the car…” Recognizing that he had gone somewhat overboard and was unable to backtrack, Endou struggled with all he could. However…

“There’s no need to worry.” Aoi responded coolly. “I’ll most likely emerge without a single scratch. I am ‘Devil’s Luck Momiji’ after all.” Her graceful thumb gently cocked the enormous hammer. “That is, shall we try adding yet another episode to the legend?”

Cold sweat from his temple ran down in a straight line on Endou’s face.

While staring at that sweat, with dry, glassy eyes, the girl pulled the trigger.

The sudden sound of a screeching break reverberated.

Endou, having fallen forward with his face against the steering wheel, was pulled back by the seatbelt until the back of his head struck the headrest.

“Ahahahaha.” The girl let out a loud, monotone laugh. Amidst the G-forces pulled during the sudden braking, and with her posture strained holding that giant revolver in one hand, she had yet to even tremble.

“That was a joke.” Immediately withdrawing the smile from her face, muttering while lightly waving her hand, the large form of the silver revolver disappeared into thin air. Apport: this uncommon body technique rivalled her ‘devil’s luck’ as a special ability she had.

“So, what are the details for this job?” While, abruptly having changed to a good mood, the voice of the girl drizzled over Endou from behind. Taking out a white handkerchief from his breast pocket, he wiped at the copious amount of sweat that had gushed onto his face.

“Sa-same as always… the removal of a persona non grata.”

“Time frame?”

“As early as possible… This time, the CIA is moving too. The target is designated as upper A-class, spare no expense.”

“I see.”

Futaba Aoi… in actuality, a Japanese Immigration Bureau Special Inquiry Officer, code-named ‘Momiji’, formed an indifferent smile onto her mouth.

While prudent in a sense, Manami’s studying in preparation for the civil service examination would normally be much too early. Coming to a break, she had gone to the convenience store for a change of pace; on coming home again, her mother called out to her. “Manami, Janis-san called. She said she’d try again later on the computer.”

“Okay.” Nodding, Manami immediately went went up to her room on the second floor, turned on the computer, connected to the net and put headphones over her head. Right away, an incoming net-phone call icon appeared with the window popping up. In order to increase the speed of the connection, the other party wasn’t being shown in real time.

“Hi, Manami, doing well?”

“Yep, how are things over there, Jack?” Adding a smile to the name ‘Jack’, it was what Manami called Janis Alectos Carotenas Karinato. This excessively long name was a result of her mixed blood ties to a maritime family from the Greek part of the Mediterranean.

Normally introducing herself as Janis, this was also what other people would normally call her. If she met someone who gave her a terrible impression, however, she would purposely introduce herself with her full name and demand that they call her with it. Only if she met someone who gave her a really good impression would she go by the collection of her initials: ‘JACK’. 23 years old, she was a colleague of Manami’s father. Since starting their association when she was a teen, quite some time had already passed.

“There’s nothing interesting here.” An impression of helpless shrugging was transmitted through the speaker that had been installed right when the computer was purchased. “My role here as a fire starter isn’t getting its turn at all.” Her American conversation partner gave out a theatrical sigh. “Manami, too, if you enter our ‘company’ later, you should start out in the white-collar wing to see how things are first.”

“No way.” Manami smiled wryly at her close friend. “I absolutely want to do the same as like what you’re doing, Jack.”

“No, no… we’re all dinosaurs going extinct, disappearing in a Godzilla funeral procession sooner or later. Manami, it’d be good for you to be a bit more tactical in how you live your life.”

“Hmm, I wonder…” Tightly hugging and burying her face in a couch cushion, Manami’s expression turned sober. “Well then, you weren’t just calling to chat today, right?”

“Ah, you figured it out?”

“Yep, because, Jack, around this time, you’d generally be calling my cell.”

“Ach!” An image of the Caucasian girl smacking her palm against her forhead while putting out her tongue out appeared easily in Manami’s mind… Ever since several years ago, after watching an old  performance on Manami’s family television, it had become her favourite pose.

“Is it job related?”

“Yeah. What’s your daddy up to?”

“Dad? …he’ll still be in the Philippines for a while. An email came earlier saying something about having to dealing with turmoil there for the next little while because of the election… this, you didn’t hear about it?”

“Oh… I just flew back to the States from Germany and haven’t been informed of anything… then, I guess I can’t help but look elsewhere for an assistant, huh?”

“Can I help out?”

“Hmmn…” After a worried several seconds… “Well, there’s quite the time pressure this time around and, on the other hand, any danger happening seems unlikely. So, Manami, I suppose I could accept your help?”

“Lucky!” With splendid timing, a snap rang out from Manami’s fingers.

“Make sure the report is written up perfectly.”

“Of course.”

With a ding, a thumbs-up fist icon was sent from Jack.

“Hooray!” Her face beaming with joy, Manami jumped up from her chair. “So, what kind of work is it?”

“Ah…” Not knowing how to explain, Jack suddenly lapsed into silence. “Um… that is, the target sounds completely stupid, so it’s a little hard for me to find the right words for it…”

“?”

“It’s about capturing an alien who’s got cat ears and a tail.”

“Huh?” Manami’s chin dropped. “An extraterrestrial sporting cat ears and a tail?”

“An alien.”

“No, well, though the meaning’s the same… if that’s the case, um…” Thinking a little, Manami wiped the dust from the CCD camera sitting on top of the computer and started it up while heading for the window.

“What is it?”

“Ah, well, I’ll keep an eye out.” Manami mixed in a sigh while operating the CCD camera, zooming in across the way. At the same time, she turned on the directional microphone that was built in to it.

“I’m home…”

“Ah, Kio-san, welcome back!♪”

Across the low fence and over to the parlour room, Kio was entering and being greeting by a redhead with yellow streaks in her bangs… Reflected through the camera and onto the computer screen was the figure of that girl who happened to be sporting cat ears and a tail.