The Time Capsule - Part 1
The early morning of our 7th day in this new world suggested no incoming peril. It was just a usual, normal, unsuspecting morning. It was just a bit cloudy and slightly colder than the previous day, that was all. However, it turned out that we under-estimated the influence of Midori-chan's 'Siren' gift on most males of Tokyo.
We were all up between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m., ready to put our little escape plans into action. The greenhouse duties of our two gardeners were put on hold, indefinitely. 'Project Greenhouse' was now demoted to a Plan B in case we could not escape the city. Then... we saw them. The Gatherers.
Yuki-chan was the first who looked out of the window.
"What in the holy smoke on the water?!?"
I looked outside.
"Holy... crap", was all I managed to utter.
The others followed suit.
We looked at each other and all of us said at the same time, with a perfect anime-like on cue timing :
"I think we are in trouble".
At the streets below our building there were hundreds of boys and men, most between 18 and 40. There were also a few girls and women among them, who looked perplexed. They must have been from the same teams and followed them here, wondering where on Earth they were going hypnotized-like. Girls could not listen to our Siren at all, unless they were telepaths and touched Midori-chan.
'How are we going to find our two special EVs and get our solar panels now?', I wondered. 'Wait, I am getting ahead of myself, are we even going to survive this?'
I assumed that as Midori-chan's gift got stronger she started to call males in her sleep unconsciously, perhaps via her dreams. I and the other males of our team felt nothing new though. Was it because we were already in her proximity and thus there was no need to be called?
"This... is bad. This is very bad", I declared the obvious.
"Yeah no site, Sherlock-senpai, but what are we going to do about it?", Fumiko-chan said while she was looking at Midori-chan, who had put her palms on her face in a gesture of shame. She must have assumed that we all blamed her, even though she had no control over her gift. Our two telepaths barely had the time to help her get it under control, assuming it could be controlled.
The Gatherers did not move against our building. They were just all standing there, looking at the fourth floor where we all resided. Which.. was not creepy at all. It scared the crap out of us. They looked like they were waiting for something before storming our building. I noticed among the crowd Zeus #2 and his telekinetic friend. Their expression was way different to last time. This time they were not here to kill Midori-chan; this time they were fully under her spell.
I even saw our four Yakuza friends who we fought earlier. They had the same creepy, enchanted, stunned look as everyone else. They either did not make it to Saitama or they did and our Siren called them back here from all that distance.
If all those guys -most of whom must have been gifted by now- stormed us we were probably all going to die, whether we gave up Midori-chan or not - I hated even entertaining the thought but I had to be a realist; I needed to think about the rest of the team.
Almost certainly, if we gave up Midori-chan, her boyfriend Hinata-kun would remain with her to protect her until the end. It would be suicidal and he would know that, but he looked like the kind of man who considered pride, honor and integrity to be more important than his own life. I would understand and not press the matter; I would do the same if I was in his shoes for Fumiko-chan in a heartbeat, thus passing the 'true love test' of the ancient Greek gods.
However, beside the moral implications of ditching Midori-chan and the subsequent loss of trust this would generate later, it was also a repugnant thing to do. Even if the rest of us survived I knew this would break us, so I wanted to avoid it at all costs. 'Trust is hard to earn but you can lose it in a blink of an eye', as Hideo-sensei used to say.
Think damn it, think. Is there a way we can all survive this? Maybe via a bait or a diversion? But who or what could be the bait? Wait.. the bait could only be Midori-chan herself. We could use her to redirect or dissolve the crowd. But how, in that case, could Midori-chan herself be protected?
It looked like Midori-chan read my mind, so she volunteered to lead the crowd away from us.
"Let me go Asahi-senpai. I do not think they mean to harm me. I do not feel they do. But they would harm you, all of you, if you got between us. So let me go, alone, to sing to them and draw them away. When they have enough of me I will return here and help prepare our exodus from the city".
"What?! No way! There is no way you are doing that luv!", Hinata-kun intervened, as expected. He then pondered the possibility for a while. "If you insist on doing that, and I would suggest you didn't, I will only agree if I come with you to protect you".
"I do not need protection silly, you would! They would see you as a hurdle between us and attack you in order to remove any 'filters' between us and have direct access to me. I have no idea why or how I know that but I feel that's what's going to happen".
Hinata-kun would not budge though. They exchanged a few more arguments that led to nowhere. I wondered if the two of them were alone, without an 'audience', if Hinata-kun would be just as chivalrous or not.
In the meantime the natives were getting restless. They gradually started moving closer to the building. Then, to our great surprise, they all started chanting:
"Midori-sama come to us, we want to listen to your song". In perfect sync. Again and again and again.
I imagined that they were not real people but something like the Collective of Borg from the Star Trek franchise. I also imagined Midori-chan being the analogue of the Borg Queen. They were only missing their nanobot based implants. Not. Creepy. At. All.
Eventually Hinata-kun agreed to let her go alone. They both put up a good fight but Midori-chan delivered a KO in the end. The rest of us agreed too, thinking that Midori-chan would be safe. There was, however, one variable neither of us considered.
Midori-chan swiftly went down the stairs. We followed from a distance. She told us not to go below the first floor and we all nodded. When Midori-chan opened the door she was not attacked, as I worried in the back of my head. She passed through the Gatherers kind of like a boat floating through calm waters. No-one touched her but no-one got farther away from her either.
Everyone, indeed, started following her. She looked like she was heading back toward Ikebukuro when.. fate decided to play a nasty game with us.
We saw a girl approaching her, swiftly. She was 18 years old, tops. She was holding something we could not see because it was partially blocked by the crowd. At first I thought it was a stick, then I realized it was a freaking katana, a full length 'tachi' one too. Hinata-kun, who was closer, saw it too and ran toward her to stop her. He ran fast but she was too far to reach her in time. The 'safe distance' between us and Midori-chan was a bad idea in retrospect.
"Is this the bitch? Is this the bitch who bewitched you?", the girl tried asking Zeus #2 but he could not respond. He only had eyes, ears and everything else for Midori-chan at that point. I realized, a bit too late, that she was Zeus #2's girlfriend and she was having a jealousy fit. Of all times...
"Well, I see no other bitch around and you look at her like a puppy with googly eyes, so it must be her. OK then.. Hello bitch. Farewell bitch", she stabbed her with the katana right in the middle of her back, with full force. The sword penetrated her fully and exited out of the left side of her chest, going through her heart and inflicting a fatal wound, just a couple of seconds before Hinata-kun managed to reach the girl and put her under. He almost saved her. Almost.
Hinata-kun held Midori-chan close in his arms. They were both crying, and Midori-chan only managed to utter "I... I love... you... Hinata-sen..." before she passed to the Great Beyond.
Then something unexpected happened. Hinata-kun started crying, weeping and howling progressively louder, while holding Midori-chan's body tightly. Everyone in the crowd looked lost and puzzled, since their spell was broken abruptly. Somehow I felt imminent danger being 'emitted' from Hinata-kun -it might have been my imagination but I think I saw his aura getting darker- so I shouted at everyone in our team to get far away from him fast.
Then it happened: Hinata-kun looked toward the cloudy sky, he cried with all his power in a mix of sorrow and rage, a kind of thin mist (pollen?) was released from him and everyone around him within a range of 7 to 8 meters fell to the ground. Not unconscious. Dead. Everyone died, instantly. If we were within his mist's range we would have died as well.
The jealous assassin, Zeus #2 and his friend died as well, since they were well within range. All in all, since the Gatherers had barely started to disperse, 23 people died. 21 males and 2 girls (not including Midori-chan). We were horrified, naturally, but none took it harder than Hinata-kun himself. Right when his girlfriend died in his arms he became a mass killer. An unwitting one but still.
The 'silver lining', if we could call it that, was that the crowd was terrified when they saw that and they all ran away as fast as they could, in panic. It was unlikely they would come back.
This was an utter failure of our team though, and above all of me personally. I should not have let Midori-chan go alone, but I felt like I was backed into a corner. This was no excuse though. I needed to assume responsibility.
When we returned to safety I apologized to the team for my negligent command which led to the death of a team member and made my 'resignation' as a team leader available to them. I was both happy and disappointed that no-one wanted to vote me out. Not even Hinata-kun who had a good reason to. Happy because they still believed in me, disappointed because the command burden would remain mine.
Later that day, after we attended to the body of Midori-chan and said our farewells to her (we also burned her), we got back to speed with our escape plan.
"Look, I mean no disrespect to our just departed Midori-chan but we need to get out of this city. Now. It will get much uglier soon, it will be 'kill or be killed' until the last few standing", I turned to Akira-kun and Haru-kun,
"Can you both look for that special EV with the hyper-capacitor pack? That way you could find it faster and you'd also have each other's back. Haru-kun you'd also be of help in carrying the solar panels to it and with the wiring and stuff, like with the laptop previously. You work well and fast together".
I looked at Hinata-kun. His eyes were full of dread and horror. He was sitting far away from us because he already felt we were scared of him (yes we did, and you can't blame us). We tried to behave naturally but I think he saw the fear in our eyes. That probably made him feel worse but there was nothing we could do for now. Neither would he be of much use apparently. So, for the moment, our team basically had 7 active members, not 8.
Haru-kun was OK with my plan but he worried about the security of the team.
"I will be acting head of security while you are gone", I said, "I am probably not going to be as effective and efficient as you but I think I can manage for a while".
They decided to walk toward Aoyama. However, sometimes the most obvious and simplest solution is so.. obvious that you miss it, like earlier with the water of the river.
"Why walk all the way to Aoyama and not go to a Toyota dealership that is just two blocks away? We passed it on our way here from Ikebukuro. Earlier you said that Toyota released a model or two of these EVs right?", this time it was Yuki-chan who pointed out the glaringly obvious.
We were beyond surprise and shame by that point, so we all just smiled. Akira-kun gave a warm wet kiss to Yuki-chan and just said to her,
"Daisuki desu' ('I like / love you very much'), you know that?"
Yuki-chan's face got red. It looked like this was the first time Hinata-kun said the 'L' word to her. She got even redder and I imagined steam exiting her ears, anime / manga style but nothing came out. She just kissed him back. What a touching little moment after the tragedy we just went through..
"There is no need to go check if the dealership has these cars. If I wasn't so absent minded I would have thought about it already but anyway. It was a large one, owned by Toyota themselves apparently, so there is no way they won't have at least one of these EVs, more likely two or three", he looked at Haru-kun,
"Let's go bring the solar panels and get them to the dealership. With two super-market carts we would need just two runs between us. We will need to get a bit more wire too, since the cars are all inside, and in order to wire the panels in parallel, for high current. Unless the Sun comes out it will also take as quite a while to charge the first car. But we can start right away. So let's go!"
When Akira-kun and Haru-kun left I finally took a little breather. Some good news after that horrible tragedy. I tried to hide from the team that I was shaken but I was. Deeply. I took a kind of 'oath' when they left, from myself to myself:
'I will not lose another team member. No-one. None at all'.
There was also the additional problem of Hinata-kun's dangerous power. Was he in control of it and he just lost control for a few seconds because he was emotionally overwhelmed to an unprecedented degree or could that happen again? What if he gets very angry or sad? Would that set him off? What is his 'threshold'? Were we going to escape Tokyo along with a human weapon of mass destruction that could kill all of us if he snapped?
Dear readers from the future, our dear ancestors, it is time to bring the penultimate chapter of the first part of my account to a close. The next chapter will be the last of Part 1. After that I'm going to take a modest breather and then, assuming I am still alive, I will start writing Part 2. In the last chapter you are going to find out whether we managed to escape Tokyo or not. Did we? Be patient, in just a few pages you will find out.