Chapter 1:



Masuyo Hirano is running towards a silhouette. The Shadow opens its arms to greet the boy: “Masuyo, it’s been a long time! How are you?” it says with a gentle smile.Bookmark here

“Brother!!” the young boy replied during his sprint.Bookmark here

Masuyo doesn’t recall the rest of his own words back there, but the happiness still lingered inside his mind, it reminds him of the time in which he played with his “older brother.”Bookmark here

“Why am I dreaming about this?” he commented on the dream before a shrill sound waked him:Bookmark here

“BEE, BEE, BEE, BEE...” it was his alarm clock, calling Masuyo to the real world.Bookmark here

“Please, just shut up.” Bookmark here

“BEE, BEE, BEE, BEE…”Bookmark here

“UGH!” he was now trying to find his phone, the 17-year-old groped in the pitch dark of the room until the wrongdoer, who was right next to him, finally came out of its hiding spot. Bookmark here

“I finally found you!” he proclaimed, still half asleep.Bookmark here

Masuyo Hirano was a third-year student at Botan High. It was still early in the school year and not much was changing for him, his performance was middling; he remained to be one of the few students without a club, and he wasn’t looking forward to having additional classes. “Although those might be necessary if I want to enter a good college, argh.” Bookmark here

“Huh.” he smiled ironically “Want… I don’t think I really wanted to study that hard, since I’m not very good at it” after staring at the ceiling for a couple of seconds he finally got up and started to get ready for school.Bookmark here

After getting dressed and having breakfast with his parents, Masuyo began his daily commute. He started with an eight-minute walk to a bus stop, and then, would get off at the fifth stop. From there, it was more six minutes of walking to arrive at his destination.Bookmark here

Botan High was a pretty good school, it stayed on top of a hill, allowing one to see much of the cityscape on one way there. But what really impressed was the view of its facade: the four-story main building surrounded by cherry trees and peony flowers, was doing justice to the school’s name.Bookmark here

“Aaah.” Masuyo sighed in awe “This view never fails to impress me.” and started to make his way to the main building.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Bookmark here

The school day went by without much going on. After he did his part of the cleaning Masuyo picked up his bag and went down the stairs, somehow managing to get to the front door before the first and second years. Actually, the only person faster than him was a girl, Kazashi Sasaki, who was apparently waiting for someone at the front gate.Bookmark here

“Don’t you have club today?” Masuyo stopped before the girl and asked. She looked at him for a moment as if analyzing him with her eyes:Bookmark here

“Not really.” she frowned, “But I don’t see how that should concern you.”Bookmark here

“You’re right, I’m sorry for prying” he gave a faint smile, “But I don’t have something better to do.”Bookmark here

“Hmm, is that so?” she gave a smug grin, “Are you sure you’re not just trying to hit on me? I’m sorry but I have an appointment today.”Bookmark here

“Haha, I wouldn’t dare to do so...” Masuyo sighed briefly, “You’re way out of my league.”Bookmark here

“Humph, flattery won’t get you anywhere.”Bookmark here

“It isn’t flattery, it’s just that I’ve got tons of homework to go through, so the more I can postpone it, the better.”Bookmark here

“Looks like you’re the one that should have club activities.”Bookmark here

“Maybe…” Masuyo murmured while gawking at the ground, making a hush descend over the conversation. It stayed like that until the girl crossed her arms and opened her mouth for the last time:Bookmark here

“You are kind of weird Masuyo Hirano.” she remarked with a serious face while leaning against the wall, ending the conversation.Bookmark here

“I bet she just wanted to be the last one to talk.” the boy crossed the gate and was now heading to the bus stop.Bookmark here

Kazashi and Masuyo weren’t really what you could call friends. Although their conversations were more frequent in their first year of high school, they still occasionally talked to each other, but their conversations were mostly about trivial things. He was from class 3-A and she, from 3-C, so the opportunities weren’t exactly abundant. Even with her tendency to be snappy, the girl with twin tails and light hair was pretty outgoing and had friends, whereas Masuyo didn’t talk to a lot of people. He usually dawdled on the way home, wanting to shirk his homework and home responsibilities, even when he didn’t have many.Bookmark here

Going down the hill, Masuyo was thinking about his time at Botan High, considering if those were good years, he stopped his stroll and looked at the cityscape: “That’s another nice view, I’ll probably miss that someday.”Bookmark here

From there, he could see a large portion of Kitoyama: it had its fair share of skyscrapers, the ones standing out being the commercial ones. But what really caught the eye of many was the huge antenna-like structure that surpassed the height of the skyscrapers but could barely be seen by Masuyo from there. It was one of the three big “antenna” that Masuyo knew of in Kitoyama, they were called “Daiken” and were apparently built to help manage the ID chips that citizens had.Bookmark here

“Hmm.” while gazing at the Daiken he unconsciously touched his head.Bookmark here

“The ID chips are just a big convenience…” the ID chips were just a big convenience, they served as a way to identify the people, so no one had to use documents, everything was literally inside their heads and a lot of places took advantage of it, indeed, even the school had a simple scanner to identify its students.Bookmark here

“Well, whatever.” Masuyo ceased his contemplation and continued the path home.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Arriving at the front door Masuyo uttered “I’m home.” but no one listened to it, what could be heard was some type of quarrel coming from the kitchen.Bookmark here

“… n’t think that’s a good idea. He might not be the best at school but we’re sure he’ll be a fine man.”Bookmark here

“Mother?”Bookmark here

“If he does this, he’ll be a fine man anyway, I guarantee it” a male voice uttered.Bookmark here

“That’s not the point, it’s just better for him to finish his studies this year.”Bookmark here

“You don’t have to worry about that, they’ll make sure he gets the proper education, besides, it’s his last year anyway.”Bookmark here

“And you can also make sure that he won't disappear, just as you did?”Bookmark here

“Disappear? I didn’t disappear! I texted you a bunch of times.”Bookmark here

“Humph, you should’ve dropped by at least once. If I remember correctly, your house shouldn’t be so far from here.”Bookmark here

“Yeah you’re probably right, but look sis…” the voice paused mid-sentence “Your boy is here."Bookmark here

“I’m home...” Masuyo murmured.Bookmark here

“Welcome back.” the mother finally noticed her son.Bookmark here

“What were you talking about?” Masuyo looked at the situation in front of him: a woman almost at the same height as him and with a short ponytail talking to a tall man wearing a black suit and trench coat, his hair was short and with bangs hanging just above the eyebrows.Bookmark here

“Well..” the woman quickly looked at the man in front of her “I’ll tell you about it after we finish here. So, go and get ready to eat.” but her words were directed to the boy.Bookmark here

While the boy headed to the stairs and glanced at the two, the man exclaimed “It’s been a long time, Masuyo!”Bookmark here

“Yeah… it has been some.” he went to his room, closed the door, and collapsed onto the bed: “What is he doing here all of the sudden?”Bookmark here

The man was Masuyo’s 26-year-old uncle, Kisho Nakai, he used to visit the house way more often before but, a couple of years ago he got himself a child to take care of, “Why didn’t he bring his baby? It’s not like I hate babies or something like that...”Bookmark here

Some minutes after changing off of his school uniform, Masuyo was called by his mother from below the stairs. “So, what’s going on?” he asked the woman after stopping before her.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry so much, your mother will explain it to you.” Kisho smiled at the boy, his face seemed tired, making him looked like a much older man.Bookmark here

“You’re not even staying to eat?”Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, Masuyo.” Kisho started patting his nephew’s head, “But I’ve to look into something and that’s why I came here.”Bookmark here

“Okay…”Bookmark here

“When I finish this, we might be able to play like old times... maybe it'll be even better than before..." although his eyes were fixed in Masuyo, his attention was somewhere else, "I’m counting on you too...” Kisho stopped spacing out and headed to the exit. “Give my regards to your father.”Bookmark here

“Okay…”Bookmark here

“I love you both, take care sis, and Masuyo...” he looked straight at his eyes and mouthed: “You can do it.”Bookmark here

“…?”Bookmark here

“I’ll take my leave then, goodbye.” Kisho Nakai disappeared from their sight.Bookmark here

“This was a bit odd...” Masuyo now turned to his mother, “What was that about?”Bookmark here

“You better take a seat, Masuyo-kun.”Bookmark here

He did as she said and paid attention to what the woman had to say: his uncle was there at work. Wanting to recruit Masuyo to the agency he worked for, he promised that the boy could get the best education for his last year, even though it wouldn’t be necessary, since he’d get a job.Bookmark here

“A job? Why does he want me to do it?”Bookmark here

“He told me you have some type of special resistance, and that his coworkers would explain it better if you decided to join.”Bookmark here

“Special resistance? Me? Maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t given up on my boring life?”Bookmark here

“You'd have to move to one of their apartments because it's closer to the headquarters, and you'll have to begin a training of some sort. They would take care of all the dispenses.”Bookmark here

“Hmm... this sounds a bit funny to me. What is the exact thing he does?"Bookmark here

“You know that he works for the government, right?”Bookmark here

“Uhum” Masuyo nodded.Bookmark here

“The only thing I know is that he’s some type of talent spotter.”Bookmark here

“For the people with this resistance?"Bookmark here

“That’s right.”Bookmark here

“Hmm.” he mused for a bit. The two of them kept discussing the sudden proposal of Kisho, the mother telling Masuyo more details about it, like the fact that he had one month to give his answer to the Agency called A.M.A.Bookmark here

It was a big decision for Masuyo, and it haunted his thoughts in the coming days. "I don't really feel like doing it, but he was the one to ask so..." after seven days he finally decided to call the agency and at least ask for more information. Masuyo didn’t know what took him so long to decide this simple thing but on the seventh day, he was ready to use the number Kisho had given his mother.Bookmark here

“I’m home.” just like one week ago, no one welcomed him promptly. “Mom, are you home?” with butterflies on his stomach, he entered the house and once again heard voices, but this time, it was only his mother talking on the phone.Bookmark here

“You have to be kidding with me!!” she screamed with the phone, Masuyo had never seen his mother like that. Mrs. Hirano shouted and cursed some more until the other side broke off the call.Bookmark here

“Mother? I’m home… is everything all right?” the boy inquired, dreading the answer.Bookmark here

“No! Those idiots don’t even have the decency of coming here to tell me something so important...” the woman was on the verge of tears.Bookmark here

“Mom, I’m not following. What happened?”Bookmark here

“It’s your uncle Kisho... my brother…” the woman started weeping, “They said he disappeared, probably ‘died on the field'.”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.