The Time Capsule - Part 1
When Haru-kun left I started explaining -while looking mostly at the ‘culprit’ Akira-kun- why we could not afford to ‘adopt’ any more ‘stray’ minors.
“I know that this might sound cruel or heartless but we cannot afford to form an orphanage. We have neither the resources -the ones that have survived are going to dry up fast- nor the experience for it. In other words, with every minor we ‘adopt’ we are minimizing the chances of survival of all of us, including the children we take under our wings. Therefore Haru-kun must be the first and last child of our group, OK? Oh, Akira-kun, since you are the one who brought Haru-kun here you need to assume his responsibility. We will help however we can but he is now your main responsibility, not ours”.
I said all that without yet remotely suspecting that Haru-kun was a fully self-reliant child prodigy who did not need anyone’s help to survive. He could cook better than my mother, was a 5-dan in Shogi despite his young age, he had a near photographic memory, and could explain in detail how ICE engines, electric motors, microprocessors, OLED monitors and even freaking nuclear reactors were designed and worked. The boy turned out to be a true genius and a vital asset of our team.
When Akira-kun and the boy started talking high tech I must admit I didn’t understand half or more of what they said. Akira-kun was very proud of him and took him under his wing in more ways than one; he basically became both his mentor and oniisan (‘older brother’). Enough with the spoilers though, Haru-kun’s brilliance will soon become clear from his own words and deeds.
Akira-kun nodded and frowned a bit.
“Sorry guys but he was all alone out there and I just couldn’t leave him alone, you know? I would constantly have nightmares of finding him gutted in some ditch afterwards if I did. So…” Haru-kun was already standing at the door. None of us heard him coming, despite the eerie quietness of the area. The boy walked lighter than a two-week old kitten.
“I am not so easy to ‘gut’ you know Akira-senpai. I do not mean to brag or anything, but I am 3-dan at Aikido”. A 3-dan Aikidoka at the age of ~16?! I was startled. Is that even possible? I wondered how he would fare against me -or.. how I would fare against him; Aikido is quite more, er, 'elaborate' than Kendo- during training and started getting excited. I asked him how old he was.
“I turned 16 a couple of months before I slumbered senpai”, the boy said calmly. So biologically (in terms of cellular maturity) he was ~18 but still looked like he was 16 at most. And that’s despite the rapid growth of teenagers. One more mystery.
Haru-kun was looking neat now. He was fast in cleaning up. We introduced ourselves and after a while I started to realize that the kid was special.
“5-dan in Shogi?! And you’re 16?! So you were a pro player, right?”, I was curious to find out more.
“Yes, but only for a few months. I received my 5th dan in late 2024, a week or so before Christmas. After a few months we all know what happened..".
I knew quite a bit of (international) chess but I never took up Shogi for some reason. Naturally, Haru-kun knew good chess as well.
"Wait, you were a grandmaster in chess as well? You are surely pulling our leg now, right?", Fumiko-chan asked.
"It should be relatively easy to find both a chessboard and a shogi board to test that out Fumiko-senpai", Haru-kun said calmly, without any obvious hint of annoyance.
"If we go to the shogi club I was a member of, which is about 15 - 20 minutes walk from here, it should have both. I chose to focus on shogi because there were many chess grandmasters globally, and the trips abroad were rather tiresome. With shogi though you don't need to go anywhere and I was, let's just say, 'a larger fish in a smaller pond'. I liked it better that way".
The talk with Haru-kun was very interesting and stimulating, but the pragmatist in me reared his head.
"Very well, we might go there in the next few days. For now though let's talk about our survival. I need all of you to focus. Things are going to get... hairy in the next few weeks when the food and water start to run out. Perhaps it might be a good idea to stock as many supplies as we can and leave central Tokyo to go either to the far suburbs or even the countryside.
Somewhere with fresh running water, fertile fields and a cottage or something would be ideal, in order to grow our own food; maybe some woods nearby to hunt as well, for meat. Or somewhere close to the open sea so we can fish. The question of course is how to get there safely..".
"Shouldn't we first settle on a chain of command and a leader? I for one have poor leading skills so I nominate Asahi-kun. Besides, as you said before, I am responsible for Haru-kun now, so I will be too busy for much else. What say you all?", that 'teme' Akira-kun set me up.
"Wait, what? What?!", I was startled. Akira-kun was silent this entire time and only spoke to make sure he did not assume the responsibility of the command himself. Everyone slowly raised their hands except Fumiko-chan; I was already sure that she didn't want the command herself, that she was just teasing me; but I leapt at the chance anyway, to tease her back.
"Fumiko-chan my love if you want the command yourself be my guest. I wish you every success", I said with a mild sarcasm.
"I don't baka-senpai ('idiot'). I just doubt you are fit to command us. What leadership skills do you have anyway?", she said brattily.
"As you well know my dear, my sensei at the dojo sent five of us on a '5-day survival' trip in order to prepare us (mentally and physically) for our 5th dan in Kendo. This wasn't a requirement but you know how Hideo-sensei was (Hideo means 'splendid man' btw).
He shipped us -literally, with his boat- in the middle of nowhere to a small uninhabited island near Okinawa, then just said the words "Survive! I'll be back in 5 days!" and left us on our own.
Our only survival tools were his self-published survival guide which we had been forced to memorize, and five knives, that was it. Anyway, who was chosen as the leader of that team?", crap.. I think she had me play into Akira-kun's hands!
Fumiko-chan smiled self-assuredly, she pointed at me and said:
"You. I was just messing with you, of course. I wanted you to admit you are fit to rule. And you just did!", she sent me an air kiss with her lips and palm and winked at me. This little minx is going to be the death of me, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
"Fine, fine", I said, "I assume command reluctantly, I want that to be noted". Yuki-chan, who was quiet as a mouse this entire time, giggled a little bit. I think she just took her time to warm up to people. I noticed that Akira-kun was observing her, discreetly. His leg was also pointing directly toward her, a potential body language tell that he was into her. Yuki-chan though was probably in pure 'survival mode' and had no mood for romance. Or had see?
"So you are a 5-dan in Kendo Asahi-senpai? I would be honored to train with you some time", Haru-kun said bowing mildly.
"So would I Haru-kun, with a shinai though, not a bokken". As mentioned before a shinai is much softer than a bokken, so it's best suited for training or to avoid bodily injuries, particularly when no armor is used.
"As you wish senpai", Haru-kun looked like he had mastered the art of meditation already from that age, since he was way too calm for a teenager. I wondered what other surprises we were to expect from him.
"What about you Akira-senpai? What did you do back in the day?", the boy asked. "Well, I was in electrical engineering, and a couple of months before nature decided to frack us all with no spit I got my PhD in IC ('integrated circuit') design. You know, design of CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs and all that.
It almost looked like Haru-kun was in 'safe mode' until now, in a kind of semi-dormant state as if to reserve energy. But when Akira-kun finished his sentence Haru-kun's eyes opened wide, along with his mouth, and -I'm not making this up- it looked like he literally lit up, like a Christmas Tree that was just switched on. He was a teenager after all.
"Really?!", he stood up, "That was the course I had targeted as well!" During the next 20 minutes -or much more, I don't know, Fumiko-chan dragged me away at that point- the room was filled with a ceaseless, ruthless high tech talk from both of them, which ranged from how exactly an SoC (System on a Chip) is designed and manufactured, then to silicon photonics and fiber optic networks, then to engines of various kinds (from ICEs to rocket engines to even fracking nuclear fusion engines) and finally, when I left, the talk was focused on the design and safety of "5th Generation Nuclear Reactors with complete passive safety" (which "even a Fukushima-scale double disaster would not affect at all", as Haru-kun noted).
That kid appeared to be the real deal. I have never seen Akira-kun so excited; he was basically overwhelmed with tech and science enthusiasm. They seemed to make a great duo, though they were surely getting 'a little' carried away when they talk science and tech stuff. Soon my mind was elsewhere though.
"Excuse us please", said Fumiko-chan as she dragged me out of the room a bit forcefully. "We will be... back. Eventually". She led me to an empty room that was two rooms away from her room. The room next to hers had two skeletons inside; one was hugging the other. As soon as she closed (and locked) the door she was all over me.
"I missed you baka-senpai... I missed everything about you, your smell, your taste... I could control myself no longer, and the tech talk of these two geeks kind of turned me on... I am a geek as well as you know... and I'm familiar with most of what they were talking about...". It was my turn to place my index finger on her lips.
"Stop talking please. I haven't touched you in more than seven decades (despite recalling doing so 3 days ago)... so... let's.. both stop talking. The longing is just... too great". We stopped talking and started... 'acting'. I am going to censor myself here because I have no idea what the morals of the people of the dawn of the 23rd century are. Perhaps you went back to the prudence of 19th century Victorian England and decided to find sex a taboo subject again; or perhaps a kid discovers this time capsule first and I get in big trouble.. posthumously.
So.. we had sex. That's it. Passionate, hot, fiery sex. That's it I said. For almost an hour. Then we slept together for ~2 hours (judging from the Sun position) and woke up like little birdies at the same time. It appears that we needed both a good sex and a good nap.
When we returned to Fumiko-chan's room Haru-kun was gone and Akira-kun was talking, eating and... flirting with Yuki-chan, who appeared to respond to his advances. "The little bastard", I thought, "He already set his sights on the loli.."
"Hey guys, where is Haru-kun?", I asked.
"He is sleeping in a nearby room. You surely took your time didn't you?", Yuki-chan teased us with a meaningful wink.
"We fell asleep because we were, er, tired", Fumiko-chan lost no chance to play around with sexual innuendos either.
"Sorry to change the subject guys, but since you were talking about nuclear reactors before do you know why we aren't all, er, dead, from the radiation release of nuclear meltdowns Akira-kun?", I asked, mostly because I felt awkward rather than curious.
"I think Fumiko-chan is more suited to explain, since she was studying nuclear physics as you know", Akira-kun said with a mild but visible annoyance and a kind of "cut it out" look. I then realized that there was a new romance brewing here and we (I mostly) were rudely interfering. I lightly nodded to Akira-kun and this time I was the one to drag Fumiko-chan out.
"See you..er.. later guys! Have fun!", I said with a wink as I bolted out with Fumiko-chan in tow. We went back to the room that we were before. We still had made no plans if we would stay there or relocate to some safer and more secure facility.
"Because, Aho-senpai, the governments ordered the nuclear power companies all over the world to safely shut down all the reactors during the last few weeks of Naturecaust. If that hadn't happened we would have been fried decades ago in a radioactive oven of multiple sieverts, long before waking up. The same would have happened to most of the animals. So, despite the resulting multiple black-outs of power, since the other power sources could not compensate, it was a very wise decision", she said with an irritated expression, "how can you don't know that?"
"Er, now that you mention it... now that my memory is clearer... I think I did know it. I think I just asked a stupid question because I was, er, nervous in there I guess, hehe..", Fumiko-chan was not amused at all.
"Baka-senpai let's leave those two alone for now and start preparing something to eat. I want to test my dried food containers to see if they are viable, so I'll just quickly hop in the room to get them and speed out. Do you think you can prepare some hot water? You do know how to start a fire 'primitive man' style right?", she said.
"Yes silly. Hideo-sensei showed me when he trained me for that survival trip. I just need to collect some wood sticks and some paper (in the woods it was pine cones), so I'm going to look for materials! Where do we meet, here?", I asked.
"Let's meet at the cafeteria on the first floor. There is wide open space there to prepare a fire safely, and it also has kitchenware to heat the water. If we light up a fire in an open space outside we might attract unwanted attention, so let's start the fire at the gas stove, where there is ventilation for the smoke", she said.
"OK, see you later luv! Ask the others if they're hungry too!".
"I will baka, I'm not rude like you", she said pseudo-angrily and we both went our separate ways.
Dear readers from the future, I hope you enjoyed this chapter as well. In the next chapter we will explore a bit more the daily lives of the survivors of our team and a threat we will face which will test our resolve.