Chapter 8:

Last Preparations ( part 3: A good family here too! )

The Dusk of Revenge

   I pushed a chair towards Asahi and told him to sit. The moment I did that, Ai said in a disappointed voice: “… Master!”

“… We have to know what happened after he left the prison and where he had been all this time,” I responded.

“… But I can try again to infiltrate the military database, master!”

I closed the door and returned to sit on the bed once again as she kept being for another chance.

“… This way is easier and quicker!”

Asahi’s laughter interrupted our conversation as he said: “… Ai, is it possible by any chance that you hate me?”

“… By any chance?! I’ve never thought you’re so dense to notice that, but let me say it clearly to you. I definitely cannot stand being with you in the same room. I would be very happy to see you leave the room now.”

“… You’re the funniest girl that I’ve ever met!”

“… And you’re the most irritating human I’ve ever met!”

He winked then replied: “Hmm… I think I may be able to manipulate those feelings of hatred and make you a bit nicer to me. I just have to wipe your memory!”

“… NO!! Master, don’t let him do that. Master!”

“… Interesting,” he put his glasses on, then continued, “To show your feelings of unease and fear immediately. As expected from Mr Akira’s invention. Too perfect for this world.”

“… You know my father?” I asked with a serious look on my face.

“… It isn’t like I met him personally or something like that. When I left the youth detention centre, I studied in the military development facility for four years. In that period, we used the inventions of Akira Takahashi as a reference to learn how to develop a new generation of intelligent mechanisms. All we had was just the reports of his research. In the development lab, he is considered a legend. After all, even with all our efforts, we couldn’t create something that can compete with Ai, for example. The glasses you saw me use this morning were the best result we were able to get while trying to create a system intelligent, like your badge there.”

“… From where you got the reports of his research?”

“… They belong to the development lab library. Is something wrong?”

“… No, nothing. Please continue. You said that those glasses are the best result you were able to get. If I am not mistaken, then that means you didn’t get to create something efficient like Ai. Am I correct?”

“Yeah, sadly, we were able to create only a lower version, which can only respond to commands but not take the initiative to talk about a particular subject. Our invention lacks a lot of human feelings. The documents we had didn’t cover the whole process your father followed to create Ai-chain”

“… I am a genius! Hahaha” Ai interrupted us as she felt that she received a compliment.

He looked at my badge and then added: “…See? That’s what I am talking about!”

“… Now that you mention it, Ai is more talkative than any other robots I’ve seen.”

“… Back to our first subject, after four years of studies. I spent one year in the lab developing these glasses that can detect any type of wave in the air and translate them. I was able to detect your conversation with Ai thanks to the wave translation ability.”

“… Did you ask your superiors to join this team?”

“… Yeah. After learning about the attack of the Rad Claws, I asked them to assign me as the support member of the 10th squad, as it was the only one able to counter the terrorists’ attack. Luckily, the special forces HQ sent a request for backup and so I was able to join. Some of the other squads received members of the development while the rest got prisoners who accepted help in exchange for their freedom.”

He stopped for a moment as a sad expression was appearing on his face, and then he continued talking: “… But I had no idea about the temporary membership thing the commander talked about!”

“… Of course, you wouldn’t know,” I murmured.

Upon hearing that, he looked at me silently as he tried to understand the meaning behind my words, then asked: “What do you mean?”

“… Nothing, I was just thinking loudly. Anyway, tomorrow we have to repeat the long and tiring training we had today, so you need to get rest while you can.”

I pushed him toward the door as he was trying to understand my sudden actions. As he left the room Ai asked me: “… What are you thinking about him, master?”

I lay in bed to think for a moment then answered: “… All that I can say for the time being is he isn’t as guilty as I was thinking when I first knew that he helped them. He was a victim of their manipulation when he was simply a kid.”

“… Although I hate to say it, that hacker is not as bad as the word hacker might bring to your mind.”

I laughed then said: “… That’s only what you have in your mind! No one is thinking of him as a dangerous man like you do.”

“… I can’t help it! Anyway, what are you going to do?”

“For the time being, I will have some rest till dinner. Lower the room lights please...”

I slept till dinner time. Then I went downstairs to the dining room, where we usually discuss things while eating. Luckily for me, today wasn’t my turn to prepare dinner or clean the table, so I had enough free time. Rintaro and Kazuto were responsible for making tonight’s dinner. They prepared a fancy table with different tasty food and a cake to celebrate the new member…

[I have to do something too about this situation]

After dinner and the welcoming party, they prepared for Asahi. Everyone went to his room except for me, who left the dining room and went to the commander’s office. On my way, Ai asked me: “… You decided what you’re going to do, Master?” as knocked on the door I simply answered: “… Yes”

A sound of sigh echoed in the room from the badge as Ai commented: “… As always, you’re a nice person after all!”

I ignored her and entered the commander’s office and sat on a chair without saying a word, waiting for him to ask me. He looked at me silently for a moment, waiting for something to happen, then decided to be the one who starts: “… So, what is the reason behind the sudden visit to my office late at night? I was about to go home. My wife and daughter are waiting for me.”

“If you went home, I would’ve gone to visit you there!”

“Hmm… It looks like you have a very important topic to talk about.”

“Depending on how you consider it yourself. For me, this is the only time when I can talk to you about it. It’s about what happened this morning.”

“… So, you’ve made up your mind?” He glared at me for a moment, then continued. “… But I am a bit surprised. Your decision was quick this time. Three years ago, you took 2 weeks before accepting Akira, Rintaro, and Kazuto in the team. As always, I can’t fool you. What exactly do you know?”

“I think there’s no need to mention that I am well aware that what you said in the morning was half true. Let me start from the very beginning since the day HQ received the message from our spy that says that the terrorist organization is planning a sudden attack in Tokyo. You received, along with the information, another order mail to prepare the squad to participate in the mission to protect the safety of the citizens. But those weren’t the only emails you received at that time. Along with them, you found a letter that informs you about the new member who’s going to join the squad in two days. That new member was Asahi.”

“Up to this point, there is no mistake. Although I didn’t mention anything about the third letter, I knew that you’ll eventually find out about it.”

“… They didn’t mention anything about sending a temporary recruit. Am I correct?” He decided to answer in silence. Thus, I continued my theory.

“… They only said that they are going to send a new member to this squad to assist them with logistic information when they are in the middle of the battlefield. They sent another document by mail which contained information about Asahi and the whole operation. That’s how you knew that certain squads had temporary members to join them.”

“…What makes you think that Asahi wasn’t one of those temporary members?”

As I sensed that I was going perfectly with my reasoning, a smile started to appear on my face.

“… This question takes us to the second part of the story, where you fooled me for a moment.”

“… That’s interesting,” he laughed. “When was I able to fool you?”

“… This morning when you said that you opened the box yesterday to try on your outfit and found out that it wasn’t your size. In reality, you opened the box to take Asahi’s uniform and hide it. They didn’t send you any clothes in that box from the start and you were aware of that…”

“… What makes you think that I knew that I won’t have any uniform in that box?”

[That’s it I won!]

“You’re a retired commander! You have your old uniform already! Anyway, you took Asahi’s uniform and hid it in your office here without even trying to open the plastic bag that protects it. You thought that if he performs poorly or wasn’t able to get along with everyone, you will send him back to the lab where he worked without making him feel the humiliation of being fired.”

“…That is a very interesting story. Too bad it has no solid proof.”

“…Of course, it has. I said it already a minute ago.”

The commander smiled as he pulled out the plastic bag he was hiding under his desk. The plastic bag on which the name “Asahi” was written was completely sealed, which meant that he didn’t even try to open it. After putting the bag down, he looked at me while asking: “… I knew you would find the truth, but I didn’t think that would take you only one day to do so.”

“It didn’t take a whole day either. I was just tired, so decided to rest a bit before having dinner.”

“I should’ve tried harder to make it more convincing!” He sighed.

“… You’ve put on a good act. Don’t forget that I said you fooled me this morning.”

“Wait! Does this mean that you accept Asahi as a new member of the squad?”

“I wouldn’t go out of my way saying all this if I haven’t accepted him already.”

He lifted his eyebrow as he looked at me silently, then, with a smile of relief printed all over his face, he said: “Okay. Agent Shinji, wait for my answer tomorrow.”

“Roger that! Goodnight, sir!”

I left the commander’s office and went straight to my room.

The next morning, I learned that after I went to sleep yesterday, Mr Kazama called Asahi to talk to him. I think that gave him his uniform at that time. We only have to wait for them to arrive so that I can verify. Meanwhile, everyone was looking at Rin who, out of nowhere, cut her hair short last night.

The commander arrived first in the training room and started talking immediately: “… Attention please everyone, today we have a new member that is going to join our squad permanently. I hope you get along!”

[Another new member?? Aah! don’t tell me he’s doing that famous scene!]

The commander continued talking as someone entered the training room. It was the new member who was already wearing the uniform.

[I knew it!]

“… Let me introduce you to the new permanent member of this squad. Asahi Toudou is the recruit that will be part of our big family from now on.”

Everyone smiled while walking toward Asahi as he was introducing himself. When they arrived, the three boys jumped on him while Shuna and Rin stood watching them with a smile. Suddenly, we heard a voice of a camera coming from the direction of the commander. When we all turned toward him, he smiled and said: “… I am blessed with a nice family here too!”

Haru Yumera
Xan Ti