Chapter 9:

Haunted by the Sun

Next to Me


The sun poked its head into Usa like it did everywhere else - with an obnoxiously eye-searing yet silent fanfare, which was harmful to the eyes when stared at directly (even for a cyborg). The mere change in warmth was enough to startle the bruised-up Nova out of a light hibernation phase.

Satoshi was standing in front of her, blocking out a silhouette in the multicoloured rays of morning light as he placed his hands on his hips.

"What were you doing?" he asked, his voice raspy from last night, his hair dented in ways only bedhead could achieve.

Nova slowly pulled up her aching body, only to find one tip of her right wing wasn't as secure as the hinge should have made it. Before she could ask him to fix it, he'd already pulled out a miniscule Phillips Head screwdriver (where he'd hidden it was a mystery, since he'd pulled it out so fast) and wound it back into place.

Well, there was the benefit of having a robot mechanic by a cyborg's side.
----
After another day of surviving buses and trains, the bustle of Shinjuku Station greeted them like a wave. (As in, it was ready to sweep them off their feet as soon as they got there.)

"So why are we here?" Nova grumbled, still trying to get a stubborn knot out of her hair. "We're still a short while away from Tokyo University."

"I forgot to mention this - my parents work at the Tokyo University of Science (Ridai), not the Tokyo University (Todai) you're thinking of," Satoshi offhandedly mentioned before his stomach growled.

He revealed a white opaque plastic box, similar to so-called "Tupperware", and opened it up to reveal nothing but stray rice grains. He then poked his fingers through a black leather wallet he had, only to come up empty there too.

"This is why you have to properly plan before you go on trips like this," Nova reprimanded him as they tried to dodge yet another passerby and took a seat on the grass in a large park they found within walking distance from the station (according to signs in the area, this park was called "Shinjuku Gyoen"). "So, what'll we do now?"

As if to answer their question, a stranger with a brown fedora and trenchcoat with a distinctly hawkish nose stopped in front of them. Nova noticed him and thought he looked familiar somehow.

"Do you need anything?" Satoshi asked him plainly, still sounding somewhat irked about the state of his wallet...

...then he stopped, because he realised this way-too-conspicuous stranger was actually his dad. 

"P-Professor Asagaya!" Nova gasped without thinking.
----
The Professor brought them to a swanky modern condominium in a white-walled building not too far from Ridai. It was probably only a third of the space of the house in Bungotakada, but even still the place was impressive in how neat and sunlight-filled it was - the sun that had woken Nova up hours earlier was no longer harsh, but inviting through blue-tinted windows. Strange metal structures, ranging from Nova's sleek silver to copper coated in green rust, stood all over the apartment, and not even Satoshi could figure out if any of them were his father's handiwork or just some expensive sculptures.

As Nova stepped into the apartment though, something started blaring at her feet - it was a vacuum robot which was playing siren noises. Professor Asagaya swiftly plucked the round automated robot from her feet, held it a short distance from his hooked nose and hit a button on its base. (Satoshi rubbed the tip of his own nose out of a mixture of self-consciousness and embarrassment as his father did this.)

"Please excuse the alarm. I've programmed it to recognise other robots, but it doesn't recognise cyborgs or people with metal implants." Professor Asagaya whipped off his sunglasses and replaced them with some round-framed ordinary glasses before centring his focus on his son, his eyes shining with worry like a teenage girl's (contrary to Nova, who was quite expressionless). "What are you in Shinjuku for? Was it Celesta?"

The seventeen-year-old boy chuckled nervously, as if admitting defeat.

James K.
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