Chapter 3:

The elite five

The Dawn Of A New Age

So there I was, seated in the back of what seemed to be a normal, affordable car. I've never been a car freak myself, but I quite liked the black metallic color of it. The inside was comfortable as well, the seats being covered in smooth leather and enough space for me to spread my legs however I want.   

The passenger seat however was really messy, the 'passenger' actually being a cardboard box overflowing with syringes which gave quite an ominous aura around. Hanging from the rear-view mirror, a pine cone car freshener was emitting a nice smell that could take my mind a little adrift.   

And there he was, in the driver seat, paying attention to the street and acting like I didn't exist. 

Although I can't say it didn't bug me, I was okay with it. 

'Why am I here?' I kept asking myself. 

But I am sure I knew the answer. Father. This mysterious man I think I never truly understood. Even when he was still alive he didn't spend much time at home, as he was busy with work. I once asked him why is he staying so much at his workplace and what is he doing. 

"I'm merely trying to make a difference, Yoshiki. You see, I am a scientist. Even if I told you what I'm doing you wouldn't understand. I just need you to believe me when I tell you that my work is really important, and not just to me. I need the support of you, Narumi and your mother more than anything, so just bear with it a little more, I promise you when I am done you will understand everything." is what he told me. I was ten years old, what could I possibly understand? I just took what he said for granted. He told me to 'bear with it a little more', yet he died five years later.   

I just couldn't wrap my head around him dying in a car accident. It didn't seem right, why would my father, who wanted to make a difference die like this and other people can still keep smiling at their crimes? Comparing my father's life to a criminal's was clearly a far cry but I couldn't accept it. I thought my dad was a saint. 'If there is any God, how could he let him die like this?' is what I used to think. 

All of my strong feelings worn out when I turned 17. I knew I had to focus on my own life and turn a new page. I couldn't keep mourning forever. And just when I finally managed to think about him less and think about myself more this mysterious 'colleague' of my dad appeared. It's like he's haunting me. Could it be fate? Coincidence?   

Of course it seemed really sketchy, I felt stupid just for talking to this man, and yet there I was in his car. It wasn't right and I knew it, yet hearing my father's name spoken by a stranger dulled all my senses. My mind went blank, all my fears, concerns and problems disappearing like dust in the wind. And so i hopped in his car like a kid that was baited with sweets. It might be stupid, but if being stupid helps me elude the mystery of my father's work and death, then stupid I will be. 

While I was lost in my thoughts I suddenly heard Ken's voice: 

"We're here, you can come out!" 

I've been so out of it that I didn't even realize that he already left the car and came to my window. His voice startled me, but I slowly opened the door and got on my own two feet, ready to analyze the scenery outside.   

The first thing I noticed was the tall building standing in front of me. Looking somewhat modern, with more than 20 floors and a rectangular foundation, the building had a huge stylish letter placed slightly above the middle of it that read "T". That was it, a big 'T' engraved in the building. Therefore I will from now on refer to it as 'T-Corp'. 

The entrance to T-Corp looked secure, having two sliding automated doors and a small device on the right that seemed like an authorization scanner. Looking around I could easily pinpoint us in the outskirts of Akihabara, not far from my home. 

As I was analyzing the situation, Ken drew a card from his pocket and flicked it in front of the authorization device, making the slide doors open. 

"Come on, it's time for you to meet the others" he said as he was waving his hand at me to come in. 

As I started walking towards him I curiously asked: 

"And by the others, what do you mean more specifically?" 

"Remember when I told you that your father had four more colleagues, besides me? I'm sure they are dying to meet you." He said with a soft voice and followed with a smile. It was the first time I saw him smile and I'll just say it didn't make me feel better in the least. 

Nonetheless, I started following him to what seemed to be an elevator. On the way I could admire the room we were walking through. It looked like the reception of a hotel, the only difference being that it was completely empty. No chairs, sofas, paintings or tea tables. Absolutely nothing besides the beautifully decorated walls and the desk where the employee was supposed to sit. I can't say it didn't creep me out, but my resolve was too strong to back down now. 

The elevator opened its doors, showing us a pretty spacious room, having all walls painted in a metallic gray and a control panel with classic buttons for each floor, an alarm and a stop button. We got in without much hesitation and Ken pressed the topmost button whose little sign read 'Floor 30'. With an almost silent and smooth sound, we started moving up.   

The awkward silence went on for about a minute until the elevator stopped. The doors opened, revealing a laboratory like I've seen only in movies. Numerous flasks with brightly colored liquids were carefully arranged on metallic tables placed near the edges of the room. The walls were of the purest white I could imagine and laboratory floor coating was to be seen everywhere one could step. Far in the back of the lab there was a whiteboard with the dimension of approximately four TVs arranged in a square. 

But what stood up the most was the four people who could be found there. After the experience in the "reception", this kind of took me by surprise.   

They were all wearing lab coats with the 'T' mark on their chests, but the first one I noticed was a woman who looked in her thirties. What was special about her was the hair. She had her hair combed in a ponytail hanging above her shoulders and colored in an aquatic blue and dark purple. To be more precise, her hair was blue until the exact spot the ponytail started, and then purple. I've never seen such crazy hair colors my whole life. She was fiddling with some flasks. 

The next one was a man who looked a little younger than the woman and had a messy hair, colored with what I thought to be a natural red. Right next to him was a woman with short brown hair, who seemed to have the same age. Out of all of them she looked the most normal, even attracting me in some weird way. She seemed like someone kind and thoughtful. The two were scribbling some formulas on the whiteboard in the back and arguing. 

Last but not least, a man who looked older than those three was sitting on a chair and looking at the ceiling. He was rocking long black hair, so long that it was touching the ground as he was sitting. His face and the occasional gray hairs made him look around the age of Ken, but for some weird reason I couldn't surely tell. 

"Everybody, may I have your attention please? We have a guest." 

As soon as Ken finished each one of them stopped what they were doing and turned their heads into our direction. My eyes first met with the man I last mentioned, his bright blue eyes staring into my soul for two or three seconds, then starting to analyze me from head to toes.
My train of thought was interrupted by the woman with the crazy colored hair: 

"Is this the boy you talked about? Hisashi's son?" 

Being brought back to reality and wanting to make a good impression I went to her and extended my hand: 

"My name is Yoshiki Kudara, son of Hisashi Kudara. Pleased to meet you." 

"Misaki Rokuda, but you can call me Misaki" she said while grasping my hand in a firm handshake. "You look like your father..." 

I didn't know how I felt about what she muttered after releasing my hand, but I guess I was a little happy. I started walking to the two in the back, quickly arriving in front of them. 

"Yo kiddo. What's up? Name's Akira!" said the man with messy hair and a cheerful smile while raising his hand in form of a fist bump, waiting for my reply. 

I can't say it felt in any way normal, but after looking at him for two seconds in distrust I returned the fist bump. 

"Pleased to meet you, Aki--... Sir." I carefully corrected myself, remembering that even if they were claiming to be friends of my father, they were still complete strangers. 

The nice looking woman next to him threw a friendly fist into his shoulder saying:   

"You really should stop trying to look cool, Akira." 

Then she looked at me with a cute smile. 

"No need for formalities with us Yoshiki, your father was a great friend of ours. My name is Mary, and I'm really happy I got to meet you!" 

Mary is a foreign name, yet she looked completely Japanese, it seemed strange at the moment, but I replied with an unconscious smile: 

"Hope we'll get along, Mary." 

And so there was only one person remaining. The man with long hair was still staring at me as I closed up the distance between us. 

"Name's Yuta. Don't get in my way and we'll be fine." 

Getting this greeting from this man was more surprising than anything, as he looked kind and calm. But it was still a calculated line, and I understood his reasoning. After all, I'm just a kid, my dad's actions don't define me. 

"I understand." I said as I turned my face back at Ken and asked: 

"What now? You brought me here for a reason right?" 

Ken answered with a smirk on his face: 

"Now I think you have some questions to ask, right? After all, You are standing in the same room as 'The elite five', a group of people considered the biggest geniuses of Japan." 

He sure lacked modesty, but I still got a chill down my spine. 'The elite five', huh?...

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