Kämpfer Volume 1 Chapter 5
Even though I wasn't expecting it, this day was as fine and sunny a day as the previous one. I got up unusually early and high-tailed it to school. Of course I was back to being a man. I was the first to arrive at the classroom and I waited for the person of interest. Higashida came in humming and singing out of tune.
"Hey, I have a request" I said as I grabbed his uniform.
"Whoa, that's abrupt." Higashida was surprised, but I didn't care.
"So, how can someone get into the girl's section?"
"That's an odd question out of the blue."
"Are the snow gates still used for illegal activities..."
"You mean the Co-ed Underground Dating Committee?"
Although it has a name, that 'underground' club is only known by insiders of illegal activities at school. Iron Star Academy has strict 'no-contact' policies between male and female students. Meeting outside of school is possible, but not easy to accomplish on school grounds. There are still students who want to evade Iron Star Academy's eyes and engage in sensual pleasures with the opposite sex. These students succeed thanks to efforts of the 'Co-ed Underground Dating Committee.'
That club had been organized immediately after the academy had become co-educational. The first student council president is thought to be the founder of the club. A method of communications between the boy's and girl's sections was devised and has been secret ever since. Funds derived from cultural festival proceeds were passed as bribes to school officials.
Higashida had connections to the 'Co-ed Underground Dating Committee' through his being chairman of Iron Star's 'Beauty Research Club' , another illegal club.
"So, Senou, what business do you have there?"
"I want info on the Student Council President."
"Eh!?" Higashida was amazed. "Oi, Sangou-san is hard to contact. She's very popular."
According to him, there were many boy students aiming for Shizuku. There was an unofficial waiting list to worship her; don't laugh, it's not that unusual. I have a similar target.
"Forget contacting her! I want info on her, what she's been up to lately."
"That's private info. Even with manpower and money it would be hard to get."
"That's why I want to sneak into the girl's section."
"Idiot, if anyone found out, you'd be suspended from school."
"That's why I want to connect with the Co-ed Underground Dating Committee."
Higashida groaned "...that's impossible."
"Even if you contact the Co-ed Underground Dating Committee and get in the girl's section, how will you get details on Sangou-san?"
"To try and do it today is useless, impossible for anyone."
"If anyone can, it would be Higashida, and his talents."
"My talents!? Communication with the committee has to start from the girls side, and that would have to wait 'till schools out. 'Impossible' really is impossible."
This was an uphill battle. Illegal activities were not only frowned on by the school officials, but by the student council as well. Every club organization was under total surveillance, any offense would deal heavy damage to the club. Even so, I was desperate.
"If you help me I'll introduce you to a beautiful girl. You can interview her and take pictures, she's worthy to be added to your Beauty Research Club."
As expected, he took the bait, his eyes lit up instantly.
"It's true? But how would you know her?"
"Hey, think about Sakura-san. How many times have I met with her lately?"
Higashida was pondering, "first, tell the beautiful girl that I..."
"Follow me. She's in the library right now waiting. Come on."
"Good plan..." Higashida and I hurried to the library. There was still time before class, it was the reason I went to school so early. The library was vacant and silent, students rarely went there that early.
"Where are the librarians?" Higashida was puzzled.
"Because we knew you were coming" with my fingers I pointed out to Higashida. "In the shadows over there. Got your camera?"
"Right here," he showed me a thin digital camera.
"Photographs are free. If you can get a shot, take it."
Suddenly a gun was thrust into Higashida's camera.
"Yo, ay'm askin' ya a little favor, nothin' hard for ya. Listen good Higashida." Akane said with a grin. A pocky in her mouth.
Through the Rabbit Hole
Higashida suddenly became cooperative. Having an unknown woman shoving a gun in your face can be very convincing.
First was the information on Shizuku. I told Higashida to just 'tell me what you know.' According to him the student council used a room in a secluded area of the school, Shizuku prevented outsiders from getting close to the place. Although it was only a rumor, it would be a great place to keep someone in confinement.
This was just the dirt that Akane and I were looking for. There was a good possibility that Sakura-san was being kept there. It was close enough to keep an eye on her, but hard for us to reach. When I asked Higashida why he didn't mention the room earlier he said he was "holding out for an offer of cash." Asshole.
The problem was how to break into the women's section. Higashida was helpful in that area as well, "I've got a tunnel."
Akane had to pretend to pull the trigger of her gun a few times to finally get him to talk (it wouldn't have been pretend if I didn't stop her though).
"Behind the gym. The other end comes out beneath the women's chemistry lab window."
"It was just finished two months ago, the soil was very hard."
According to Higashida most of the soil was removed during vacation and discarded down the toilets.
"Just like the movie 'The Great Escape.' "
"Yeah, just like that. Our only light was from candles. We had a cave-in and the guy in there at the time still has neurosis."
I also had a terrible desire to sneak into the women's section, until I was stuck there.
In an amazingly harsh voice Akane said, "enough funny talk! Tell me how to use it."
"Don't shoot, don't shoot - the watering faucet behind the gym, pull it completely out to open the tunnel."
"First, get in touch with the contact on the women's side to remove the lid on that end."
"Yer gonna do that too." A gun is a great persuasion tool, Higashida's reactions were faster than an exposed cockroach.
The first step was to contact the girl's side. Iron Star Academy jammed cellular signals to prevent communication between the boy's and girl's school sections. The jammer even prevented calls during emergency situations, but that was just 'the price that must be paid.'
Would you believe Higashida attached a message to an arrow and shot it over the wall? What is this the Sengoku period?
"Please use caution..."
We plan to, as much as possible. I signaled Akane and we left the library. Transformed like she was, she was a bit uncouth and stood out in the library.
"Hey Natsuru, I helped you, how about paying me back..."
"I'm not giving you money."
"No, not that..." Higashida glanced to the side. "I just... let me take a picture of this violent girl."
"You want her picture?"
"She's... beautiful." His breath was ragged as he spoke.
Akane was sounding irritated, saying things like "I'll kill you, but not before I shoot off your hands and feet." Somehow while she was saying that, she was posing like a photo model; Higashida was very happy.
I left the dreamy guy taking pictures of Akane and headed to the back of the gymnasium and waited until Akane was done. As Higashida had said, pulling the faucet opened the concrete slab and exposed a gaping vertical hole. All we had to do was follow the water pipe through the tunnel to the girl's side.
After a short time a short message came back, 'ready.'
"You can go when you're ready. She'll guide you on the other side."
"Ya did good - fer now."
The tunnel was so small I had to crawl through. Every surface was damp with moisture. The route was well worn, boy's desires can be horrible. By the time I climbed the vertical hole exiting the tunnel the representative for the girl's side of the committee was waiting for me. She was waving both arms and smiling.
"Welcome! I am Nishino Masumi, the committee representative for the girl's side."
Figures it would have to be Masumi. I couldn't think of anyone worse.
"Thank you. A blushing newbie, straight from the boy's side."
That was just the irritation I was feeling.
"Such a shy, modest guy, what are you doing sneaking into the girl's section?"
Any way you look at it, she was being overly meddlesome. Just then Akane came running up from behind her, obviously surprised to see Masumi.
"Ah, so this must be your girlfriend."
Ha, if she wasn't in vicious dog mode, you'd know her very well.
Akane glanced at Masumi then whispered to me, ("what's da story of 'er being here?")
("She's the girl's side representative.")
("Ya gotta be kiddin' me.")
("It was worse when I was the one transformed.")
The previous time Akane had been 'normal' . This was the reverse pattern. Masumi was beckoning us.
"To start our tour, this is the secret garden of girls, forbidden to boys. It's rather empty now. Don't expect the tour to include girls changing their clothes."
Why bother mentioning that?
"The tour begins here. Follow me." Masumi urged us.
The girl's side was larger than the boy's. It was very well kept. Compared to this the boy's side seemed cluttered. On this side there were flowers, grass and even a fountain, it was a world away. The differences were well known and several attempts to 'rejuvenate the boy's side' were all crushed before they could gain momentum.
I could hear that the boy's gym class had begun. Come to think of it, that's where I would be. My absence would be noted. The teacher, Nakazawa, was always annoying me. I was absent as often as possible, just like a lot of my classmates.
"Could you hurry a bit more?" I asked Masumi. I wanted to find Sakura-san while the president was likely to be in class. It would be bad to be found during break time.
"Certainly! You really do sound alike."
"There's a second-year girl who has a similar voice, I'm sure you must have seen her."
Yeah, I have, in the mirror.
Behind the main girl's school buildings stood the Audiovisual and Music building, home of the specialty schools. According to the information Higashida provided, the Student Council had a makeshift office in a corner of the third floor there. Since it was the middle of the day we had to feel our way into that unknown area carefully.
As we slipped into the building I asked "is there a room here that is used by the Student Council?"
Masumi gave a baffled look "what business would you have there?"
Even if I told her, she'd never believe that Sakura-san was kidnapped, that the president was the culprit, and I was a fighting Kämpfer.
Masumi's eyes were full of curiosity "please, please tell me!"
As I was puzzling about it Akane said "Ay'll tell ya..."
"Over 'dere" Akane pointed behind Masumi.
"Eh!?" Masumi turned to look.
GON! Akane smacked the back of Masumi's head with the handle grip of her pistol. As Masumi crumbled she made a 'kyuu' sound.
"Hey, why'd you do that?"
"Ay used legitimate self-defense."
It was a funny usage of the term. No matter, the nuisance was gone. We made our way up to the third floor, trying to keep our footsteps quiet, we were being cautious. The room used by the Student Council was at the far end of the hallway. The floor was empty since it wasn't club hours.
My body glowed white as Akane forced me to transform to a Kämpfer. I was in a hurry, but Akane held me back.
"Easy! don't expose yer'self to the windows."
The corridor here had windows facing the main school buildings. It was likely a main reason this room was used by the Student Council. It gave Shizuku an advantage.
"Follow me" Akane bent over, leaned against the wall below the windows and carefully made her way to the other end of the hall. She was graceful and stealthy like a cat. I would have expected that her fierce dog persona would just rush across.
"Come on stinky!"
I hurried to follow what she had done.
When I reached the door I stretched out to touch the doorknob. I turned it slowly, "ah, it's not locked!"
"Open it quick."
Without another word I flung the door open and jumped inside like Tom Cruise in 'Mission Impossible.'
"Sakura-san... huh?" the room was empty, no chair, no desk. Only a mop and bucket. Of course there wasn't any sign of Sakura-san.
Akane and I both stood with our mouths wide open.
"Nobody's 'ere" Akane spat out.
"That bastard Higashida, what kind of bull did he give us?"
"---'dat jerk--- Bet he just said anything ta get those pictures!"
"He just follows what he sees."
"Jerk just fell in love with 'da idea of gettin' pictures of me. Must be true."
"You looked like you were playfully posing for him though."
That guy has no thought for a perfect girl, just the ones he hasn't photographed yet. Anyway, it was a fact, Sakura-san wasn't there. I wondered where she was taken.
Suddenly there was a sound from behind us "excuse me..."
A female student was in the doorway looking at us. "You should be in class, what are you doing?"
"Yer just in time ta help us." Akane walked with determination towards the girl. "Hey, 'da Student Council has a spare room 'round here. We're lookin' for a girl that should be there. How do we get there?"
"Tell me!" When Akane was transformed she was beautiful, but her demeanor and aura was formidable. People seeing her for the first time were always overwhelmed.
I tore into Akane, "stop it, you're scaring her!"
"Then she better spill it quickly!"
"Oh... that... the Student Council is helping her..." huh?
Akane and I just stared, mouths open, in front of the scared schoolgirl.
"They don't use this room... they took over the fourth floor..."
We didn't wait to hear any more, but took off running. There was no longer any reason to hide, school was between classes. We ran up the stairs. The layout was the same as the third floor. We ran to the room at the end of the hall.
"Oh, this door is locked."
"Get out a 'da way!" A pistol appeared in Akane's hand.
She didn't hold back and shot both the keyhole and hinges. The door opened on its own. The interior of the room was dim because the curtains had been drawn. This room was clean and empty except a desk and chair.
Sakura-san was seated in the middle of the room with her head hung down. Most likely unconscious.
"Sakura-san!" I ran over to her. Her hands had been tied with ropes. I'm here Sakura-san, your knight to the rescue. Please return my love, towards the man version of me.
But just at that moment a dirk on a chain violently flew towards me.
"My goodness. What bad behavior for a Kämpfer!" As I turned Shizuku was standing there.
- The Table of Contents labels are my own, they do not exist in the original volume.
- Sengoku jidai - the Warring States Period in Japanese history was a time of social upheaval, political intrigue, and nearly constant military conflict.