Chapter 18:

Exodus

The Time Capsule - Part 1


   Akira-kun and Haru-kun managed to locate two of the special EVs in that Toyota dealership, not one. We were lucky for a change. Some of the rest was narrated to me by Akira-kun and Haru-kun.
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  They got to work right away. They brought the first round of 8 solar panels with two super-market carts. This was the hardest part. The place where we got the first two panels was a long distance away and Akira-kun knew of no other place with 'fresh' panels that were still in their boxes and thus unexposed to sunlight.
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  My initial worries of whether that store would have enough panels to fully charge two cars dissolved quickly. They used to sell wholesale to retailers and e-tailers, so it had about 25 panels in total. Each panel was a bit larger than a square meter and was not particularly heavy and bulky, but 7 or 8 of them were. If Akira-kun was on his own he would have required four runs between the store and the dealership. That was an unacceptable safety risk anyway.
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  Akira-kun said the panels they managed to find had dual junction cells which gave them a very high efficiency of ~35%. This was nice, since it meant faster charge times. Our two original panels were older single junction ones with an efficiency of 25%. Due to the higher efficiency they could cut the charging times of each car from ~24 hours to ~18 hours, if they were to fully charge them, and if the Sun played no hide and seek games with us.
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  The capacitor packs of the cars should nominally last for almost a full round trip to Izu and back with a single charge, but we had no idea what we would encounter on our way out of Tokyo, so charging them only up to ~50% would not be wise at all. Eventually we settled on a 80% charge for each car, for 15-hour charging times, so in roughly three days we should be good to go. Feeling worried about new threats though I suggested they got those last ten panels as well -and more wire- in order to charge both cars at the same time. That way the cars should be good  to go in about two days  - weather willing.
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  The rest of us got on to prepare our supplies for the trip. Food, water, hygiene essentials etc We decided to take a few bags of seeds with us to grow them in our final destination, because none of us knew if any were available in that area and we could no longer 'google' it. We also decided to take the solar panels, since they were our sole 'fuel' for the cars and maybe some electrical appliances later. The date was March 3 of 2099, the time was 5:12 p.m., and it would soon start to get warmer and sunnier. The sakura trees should also start blossoming in a week or so, officially declaring the coming of the Spring.Bookmark here

  There was barely any room in the cars but we could place all the panels on their roofs, stacked and secured on top of one another. There were a lot of them but they were perfectly flat and rather thin, so they could be easily transported that way. The 'logistics' and other considerations of our little exodus from Tokyo were quite a few but not excessive.
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  We needed the solar panels above all else, to have the cars charged and on standby in case we needed to escape the place we settled as well. Izu was a bit sunnier than Tokyo during that time of year and especially from April onward, so it was a good place to be in the Spring and Summer months, particularly if you relied on the Sun for power.
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  Fumiko-chan looked at me as if she was a puppy that hadn't been hugged for days. I opened up my arms in a welcoming motion. She fully embraced my hug, like a swimmer embracing the warmest tropical sea waters to fully immerse themselves in the sea. I tried to be as accepting, tender and comforting as possible. I knew she could use that. Behind all her aggressive teasing and naughtiness there was a very kind and tender soul, the soul that I knew and loved. I hugged her tight but not too tight. She was rattled; she was also trembling a bit. I knew that she took it hard when we lost Midori-chan. I knew full well what must be going through her head:

'if only I had not had her sing; If only I was better at using my gift; if only I was more useful; if only I had helped her control her power; if only.. if only.. if only'. Guilt is a toxic emotion that can consume you, whether it is justified or not. I just whispered to her ear a barely audible : "It is not your fault my luv".Bookmark here

  She withdrew her head from my shoulder and looked at me, with weeping eyes.
"Isn't it? Wouldn't Midori-chan be alive right now if I was smarter and had cracked this thing already? Or if I was less curious? Wouldn't she be with Hinata-kun now who is in the next room alone feeling like a murderous leper? Wouldn't all these people he killed be alive right now?", like I said: guilt is toxic.
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  "This is your guilt talking, not your reason. We are all new at this. No-one expects you to be a genius level intellect super-girl that solves all our problems in a heartbeat or one that can predict any outcome and always think before acting. Personally I just think of you as my supergirl, no more no less than that", I winked at her.
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  I managed to make her smile, thank the gods!
"Does that mean you think of yourself as Superman?", she teased winking back.
"No, I am just a Superboy. I am still a young man after all. You only get to be Superman after your 28 or 30", I smiled back. And that was it with that little incident. I was glad I made my luv smile and that I helped her breath a little easier.  
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  Back to our escape plans. Haru-kun arrived to report. The cars were now both wired to the solar panels, and they were ready to be charged. It was now a little after 6 p.m., so the Sun had just set. The cars would start charging the next morning, from around 6:10 a.m. They hid the solar panels inside the dealership in order to avoid attracting prying eyes or curious cats and they would deploy them outside first thing in the morning.

  He said they were going to sleep earlier than usual today so that they would be at the dealership a bit before 6 in the morning to set up all the gear in time. He added that Akira-kun would soon be back as well, he was just tidying up some final loose ends, wires and stuff.Bookmark here

  So both cars should be 75% to 85% charged in almost exactly two days, on March 5, our 9th post-awakening day. Not bad at all, unless a new threat emerged. Let's hope Akira-kun and Haru-kun were not followed and that we manage to leave this city in peace and.. in one piece. Haru-kun said they were not; he would have sensed it.   
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  The two days passed quickly. And uneventfully.  No-one came to attack us or even talk to us, though almost half of the Tokyo survivors knew we were here. I suspected that the news of the mass killing of Hinata-kun spread far and wide, while the number of the people he killed perhaps started to increase due to the word of mouth effect, as it usually happens. The quietness of these two days was almost.. unsettling. It was too quiet. And as we all know quietness is followed by trouble. Let's hope this time will be the exception.             
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  There was nothing of note to report from these two days, so I am doing a mini time jump to March 5. It was also a sunny day, thank the gods, just like the previous one, when Akira-kun finally Haru-kun completed the charging of the two cars, right when the Sun set a few minutes before 6 p.m. The capacitors of the cars reached a 82% and 84% capacity respectively, which was more than enough for our trip to Izu. Nominally, on a highway with minimal traffic, this meant a range of 260 to 280 km and Izu was just 150 km away. We had all the range headroom we required.Bookmark here

  We were all ready on our end as well. I asked everyone to take only the absolutely necessary stuff with them, since our space was not unlimited, but as usual most girls took more than enough stuff, worrying they are not going to find them in Izu. I momentarily thought how morbid it was that the passing of Midori-chan gave us one person's worth extra room for our journey.Bookmark here

  We had arranged to wait for Akira-kun and Haru-kun between 6:25 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and we were all ready and packed, down at the ground floor, just inside the front entrance by 6:10. They had already installed car roof rails on the two cars, so all that was left was to unwire the panels, place them on top of the rails, secure them and then drive the cars here. Half an hour work tops, and I bet they could do it between them in 15 - 20 minutes.
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  However the time was already 6:35 p.m. and they were nowhere to be seen. I started getting worried. It was just two blocks away, so if they didn't show up within 5 minutes I planned to go see what happened. Then, after a couple of minutes... we saw them. They were driving the cars toward us alright; but they were not alone. There was a horde of tens of survivors -between 50 and 60- running behind them, at full speed, carrying sticks, katanas, knives, globs, even a couple of guns ffs.
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  The cars were running fast, a bit too fast. Thankfully they both looked like they were very good drivers. I estimated that we would only have a couple of minutes when they arrived to enter the cars, stash our site and get the hell out of Dodge before the horde reached us. I had no idea what had happened but they were all clearly after our two cars. I asked the others to pay attention.Bookmark here

  "Listen to me very carefully. This is the most crucial moment for us. If we screw up we die. If we act late for just a few seconds we die. We all die this time. Ditch your extra site now and give priority to your own hide, or that horde will skin us all alive just to get our cars. Take only the essentials, we do not have time to properly pack all that site in the trunks so that it can fit. Within one minute tops after the cars reach us I want everyone inside the cars and feet stepping on the gas pedals like there's no tomorrow. Be careful, I noticed two guns as well. Like earlier with Yakuza-san, I doubt their bullets will work but you never know!"Bookmark here

  I had foolishly not predicted that two functioning cars among millions of dead cars would make them a prime target. I think all that quiet lulled me into turning less alert and more careless. Once again, I was a fool. No amount of fear can overcome someone's inherent drive to survive. No matter what survival comes first, this is how our species is wired – or, perhaps, this is how life itself is wired.Bookmark here

  My little 'pep talk' worked. All the girls except Saiko-chan had taken one large bag and one small handbag with the actual essentials. They all ditched the large bags and took only their handbags. Saiko-chan just had a (formerly super expensive) Hermes handbag, so she ditched nothing. But we still needed to take our food and water. Thankfully the seeds were already in the trunks. Hinata-kun delivered them to Akira-kun to store them ahead of time.
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  The cars were now less than 50 meters away. The horde was 85 - 90 meters away. I gestured to Akira-kun and Hinata-kun to unlock the trunks of the cars. It was a weird thing to make a gesture of but somehow they both understood and nodded. Less than 10 seconds later they parked beside us, we quickly threw our food and water in the trunks, split in our two pre-arranged groups of 4+4, swiftly opened the doors, got all inside and finally sped away as fast as was possible with those cars, with the back tyres screeching like wild untamed horses. Bookmark here

  All in all it took us roughly half a minute, maybe less. When we sped away the horde was 20 to 25 meters away. I was worried about the shooters, since I could never be sure about guns and gunpowder; it is not too difficult to make fresh gunpowder if you have just watched a pertinent Youtube video, find the required raw materials and you are not a complete idiot.
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  I told everyone in my car -the one Haru-kun drove- to lay low, but the others in the other car could not hear me with all the noise despite our windows being half open. It was literally like half the demons of hell were chasing us; they more looked like a horde of zombies than people; really. Then both of the gun bearers raised their guns.
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  The first one's gun did not appear to work but the second one's did, and he started shooting. First time he missed, second time he missed again, the third time he hit the other car. It looked like his bullet found Hinata-kun, who cried in pain; thankfully, as I later found out, he was only shot in the shoulder, and not very deeply. By the fourth time both cars were too far away for his bullets to reach us, so at long last we were safe.
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  The two cars ran like hell but when the horde was lost in the distance the drivers slowed down a bit. Akira-kun was the lead driver, and Haru-kun followed. I was seeing glimpses of Asuga-chan tying up Hinata-kun's right shoulder, who seemed to be in a lot of pain. I told Haru-kun to go beside Akira-kun's car and ask them whether we needed to stop for Hinata-kun, to attend to his shoulder.Bookmark here

  Hinata-kun declined. "Let's get out of Tokyo first", he shouted from his window. "When it is safe we can stop. For now I am OK", he was not, and he was in quite of bit of pain, but I knew that the moment we stopped a new horde might form to attack us, so I begrudgingly agreed.Bookmark here

  Our drivers took the 'scenic route'. They passed by the Edo-Tokyo Museum, reached Koto City in the port, and then entered the Rainbow Bridge. It was getting darker but there was no longer any power to light it with colors, so it was just a plain bridge this time. We passed from Shinagawa, then Setagaya, then entered the E1 highway and drove through Kawasaki. With the exception of some sporadic fires everything was dark, pitch black dark.Bookmark here

  In just 50 minutes we had left Yokohama behind us and were passing outside Hadano, a city close to the edge of Kanagawa Prefecture - and, thus, close to the end of the Kanto Region (the 'Greater Greater Tokyo'). The roads were not blocked after all, and our cars were fast. We would have reached Hadano even faster if we took off during daytime but due to our scheduling that was not possible. For extra safety our two drivers had switched on the high beams of the headlights. While they could see more clearly and farthest with them they made the cars even more conspicuous than they were, so they were not without risk.Bookmark here

  Finally, after another 20 minutes, we crossed the border of Shizuoka Prefecture. We had at last left Tokyo, Greater Tokyo and even Kanto behind for good. I told Haru-kun to signal Akira-kun to stop his car. I wanted to look at his shoulder. I was not a doctor but I had been trained in the essentials. We had taken some painkillers and antibiotics with us but I had no idea if any was still viable. Hinata-kun would be our first test subject.
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  They stopped the cars at a place that looked safe and quiet, and left the low beams switched on. I took Hinata-kun in front of his car to take a look at his wound. I washed my hands a bit with some semi-stale vodka which served as our rubbing alcohol, removed the make-shift bandage, and examined the wound closely. The bullet was dug inside but not very deeply. I needed a knife, something for Hinata-kun to bite on, pour a bit of vodka on the wound, have Hinata-kun drink some as well, remove the bullet, patch it up and then test the antibiotics on him to see if they even worked at all.
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  Great plan, but could I execute all of it? Hinata-kun, then, decided to make my life easier or, at least, that's what he might have thought. While I turned my back on him and asked the others to bring me the required stuff, he conjured an old-fashioned (barber style) razor blade out of his pocket and without any hesitation at all (according to those who saw him) he slit his throat from ear to ear. When I turned back toward him, just a few seconds later, he was on the ground with a ton of blood gushing from his neck. I tried to stop the blood flow but I knew it was too late.Bookmark here

  His cut was deep, too deep, and he would bleed out within just a few minutes.
  "Why?", I asked him while holding him with his blood spluttering all over me, "why would you do that?"
  "You know... why... Asahi-senpai.. I can... no longer.... live.... like this... I just..... lost... my will... to live.. Survive... all of you... if you want.... to honor.... me and... my kawaii... Midori...chan...", were his very last blood choked words.Bookmark here

  I knew he was depressed but I missed that he was suicidal as well. He hid it well, from all of us. No-one even knows where he got that blade from.
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  Our dear, beloved readers and ancestors from the future, as you can see our team has unfortunately been getting thinner. You are right, I 'lied' before, like an unreliable narrator would: we lost two team members, not one. We lost Midori-chan just two days before losing Hinata-kun as well, whom we lost just half an hour or so before reaching Izu, our eventual destination. From Hinata-kun's team of three only Asuga-chan, our little empath, is now left. I think we need to take extra good care of her.
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  I think this is a good point to end Part 1 of my account. The second part is going to take place in the idyllic Shizuoka Prefecture, which is also where Fuji-san is located (well, a large part of it at least), home to some of the highest ranked Shinto gods. Many still think it is a holy and divine mountain. If that's indeed the case we could surely use some of Fuji-san's protection!Bookmark here

  So, take care of yourselves and nature in equal measure! Until next time!
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END OF PART 1

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