“YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!”
This loud shout that had echoed throughout the halls of CIMEDE Academy’s female dorms had come from an auburn-haired girl whose name was Oka Chikaoka. The girl named Chikaoka was a third-year student at CIMEDE Academy, and she held an updated Academy Rank, or AR, of 24.
Chikaoka didn’t think about any of the other girls in the dorm when she had shouted. Usually, Chikaoka tried to keep her image as a calm and collected student, yet for some reason she could not control this rare outburst.
The reason for her outburst was the holographic monitor that adorned the wall right before her eyes. As of the current year of 2027, holographic displays have become quite popular with schools and businesses for their 3d imagery capabilities. Although that’s not to say just schools and businesses had access to such displays. The ever-growing market of tech companies and even some restaurants had found ways to incorporate holograms into their devices and menus which became a natural occurrence around the world.
“I can’t believe my AR only increased by three. This is bullshiittttt…...” Chikaoka’s voice trailed off with a wailing sigh, almost sounding like she might start sobbing at any moment.
The monitor that the girl had been looking at was displaying the Academy Ranks of all the third-year students at CIMEDE Academy. Up until yesterday at 12 a.m. or that might have been considered this morning, Chikaoka’s Academy Rank had been 27, but after she had happened across one of Japan’s top thieves and rendered him unable to escape until the police arrived, her Academy Rank had increased by three, updating her status to 24.
Depending on the accomplishment of a student of CIMEDE, one’s Academy Rank could remain at a standstill or rise up the chart. With Chikaoka’s recent feat of capturing one of the top thieves in Japan, she had expected her AR to shoot up by at least ten or twelve places, but alas, her lucky number was three.
Chikaoka glared at the monitor with both hands bawled up, and a face that said I want to cry. While in this stupor, Chikaoka was not in a state to have heard anything outside of her focus. Perhaps, even the sound of the air conditioner had been zoned out from her hearing.
Footsteps had approached from the side, but still not paying attention, Chikaoka had not noticed.
“Hey Oka! Wait… what’s with that face? You look pissed, yet your cheeks are puffed like you’re going to cry. Don’t tell me you’re complaining about your AR again.”
Chikaoka jerked back in surprise at the sudden appearance of the voice and quickly used the tip of her thumb to wipe at her eyes, making sure that no tears had formed. She then turned towards the voice that had approached. The girl who stood before her was her roommate, Ichimori Sachi, the girl had dark brown hair, cut into a bob with one side pinned behind her ear using an orange, flower shaped barrette, and she had light brown, almost amber colored eyes.
“I’m not crying! and don’t say that like I’m always checking my AR, because I don’t always check it. You just think I am, when I’m not.” Chikaoka tried to sound convincing, but for some reason, she was bad at convincing the other girl. Chikaoka seemed annoyed with what the girl named Ichimori had said, because she had puffed her cheeks in a show of irritation.
Ichimori gave a light shrug to the actions of the auburn-haired girl that seemed to be a common occurrence for her and started speaking to the irritated girl. “You’re in the top thirty students Oka, you should be proud of yourself. Plus, you caught a highly wanted man, that’s pretty great in itself.”
Chikaoka let her swollen face relax and then gave her friend a pained grin. “You’re one to talk, you’re in the top fifteen students Sachi, that’s like two times better than me. So, I need to catch up.”
Ichimori let a devilish grin slip across her face as she thought about her own rank. Her rank was 13. If she had been the one to have caught the legendary thief, she would have been in CIMEDE’S top ten students. With how close together the scores of the top ten were, Ichimori might have even crossed into the top five.
Ichimori sighed at the thoughts about finally being in the top 10, or even 5. To add the necessary salt into Ichimori’s wounds, Chikaoka had boastfully stated her accomplishments in catching the legendary thief.
“Anyways, I was just seeing if my AR got updated after catching that thief last night. Just think about it. If I wasn’t there, that thief would still be out there stealing stuff. I am pretty good at what I do.” Added Chikaoka with a wink as she puffed her chest out in a boastful manner, proudly stating her achievement from the night before.
Ichimori smiled at her roommate like an older sister would to a younger sister. “I know that you’re super excited about catching that Saburi guy since he had such a high status, but you know Oka, you don’t have to vaunt your ample chest so much when you brag.”
“Ample? Geez Sachi, I feel like you’re making fun of me now.”
“I’m not making fun of you; I mean look at you. You’ve grown a lot since we were first years.
“I guess I have grown since then, but I’ll never be as big as Iroha. I wonder if she uses pads? She has to, there’s no way those things are real at her age.”
Chikaoka's bust size was not particularly large by her own opinion, in fact, she had compared her own size to an underclassman whose size was abnormally large for her age. But in another's point of view she could be considered well off compared to Ichimori, who had stayed the almost the same since middle school.
Ichimori looked down at her own chest, which was quite modest, and sighed. “Looks like I’m dropping out of the running. This is probably as big as I’ll get, and I haven’t changed much from how I was back in middle school. Life just isn't fair!”
Chikaoka had started to wonder how their conversation had gone from Academy Ranks to breast size. She didn’t mind her size when considering sizes from an objective view, but she had thought about them getting bigger, which she would pleasantly welcome with a smile. Although the possibility for that seemed rather low.
Chikaoka eventually had then started thinking about there being a ranking system for the female student's breast sizes, and where she’d place on that list.
“I guess I will age with no back pain, as well as no boobs… A fleeting dream leaving my flat husk on a lonely journey to find anew.” Ichimori’s shoulders had then started to droop, like the branches of a weeping willow. She wept of her misfortune.
Chikaoka had started to feel a little depressed as well, as she heard her friend’s short monologue. “That’s deeply depressing to hear, Sachi” Said Chikaoka with a pained expression somewhere between empathy and sympathy.
Chikaoka had thought that she had seen Ichimori smile for a second, but that left faster than she could follow and was replaced by drooping shoulders.
Chikaoka had noticed her friend’s shoulders starting to droop. Seeing Ichimori’s mood worsening, Chikaoka decided to change the mood. She had wrapped her arm around her friend’s shoulder and offered a cheerful suggestion.
“Don’t let that droopy look ruin your face! Let’s go out to a restaurant for lunch and then go shopping afterwards. I need to pick out some autumn outfits, and you could use some new clothes too. Am I right?”
After releasing a cheery smile with all teeth shown, Chikaoka began flashing peace signs and skipping through the hallway, playfully posing as she walked. With Chikaoka’s dancing and cheerful attitude, she changed the mood around real fast. Ichimori cracked a smile and playfully punched the other girl’s shoulder as they moved through the dorm hallway.
The two girls left the dorm building, side by side, talking and laughing as they headed towards the academy’s gate.
“So, Oka, what restaurant should we go to today? One we like, or should we try a new one?” asked Ichimori as they neared the exit of the academy’s grounds.
“Hmmmmm... I was thinking about that too, and……………………………………………...”
Chikaoka’s sentence abruptly stopped as she heard a melodious chime. “One Sec” she said as she reached into her inner blazer pocket and pulled out her red mobile phone.
Ichimori did not know who it was that had called Chikaoka, but from look on Chikaoka’s face, and reaction she had given to the voice, it was probably someone important.
“Hello… How come?... Uh huh… Ok… I’ll be right there…”
Ichimori could not hear the voice on the other end of the phone, but after the short exchange, Chikaoka put her phone back into her blazer pocket and faced Ichimori before opening her mouth hesitantly. “I’m sorry Sachi, can we postpone this trip a bit? I’m not sure why, but the director asked me to come to his office.”
Ichimori shook her head in understanding and smiled. “No, It’s alright, it’s probably about your arrest from last night................. Maybe it’s about your AR!” Ichimori let out a chuckle as she mockingly added in the part about Chikaoka’s Rank.
“Thanks, wait! shut up about my rank already! Anyways, I'll talk to you later, it shouldn’t take long.” Chikaoka raised her hand in a parting gesture and took off running towards CIMEDE Academy’s main school building like a rabbit being chased by a predator.
“Hahahaha. Do you want me to come along too, Oka?” shouted Ichimori towards the already running girl.
After not received a response, Ichimori stood in place thinking about what to do now. She could always follow Chikaoka and wait for her inside the school building, or she could head out shopping alone, and then there’s going back to her dorm room. Any of the three choices she didn’t mind, but then again, one of the reasons she was going shopping today was because Chikaoka had invited her. Going to the dorm would be okay, but that would be a waste to go there just to have to meet up with Chikaoka afterwards. Ichimori thought about the options for a few moments before settling on her choice.
Damn she’s fast, thought Ichimori as she went into a full out sprint with all she had. Ichimori had raced Chikaoka on numerous occasions and she could never outrun her despite being really fast herself. Eventually, Ichimori was able to catch up to Chikaoka, but only after Chikaoka had seemed to slow down a bit after noticing that she was being followed.
After a sprint of around 45 seconds, the two girls had arrived at the stone block stairs that led up to the academy’s entrance.
All of the buildings on CIMEDE Academy’s grounds held the same exterior design that looked like a modern updated take on a historical European style castle. The male and female dorms were placed on opposite sides of the main school building, which made those parts of the building look like the east and west wings to the said castle design.
The girls scaled the stone stairs that led to the double doors inviting them into the academy’s main lobby area. From inside the lobby, the girls scanned their ID cards which allowed them access into the rest of the building.
CIMEDE Academy had given students and teachers special ID cards that would log when the user would enter and exit a room or class. This helped keep schedules organized but became a hassle when one would use another’s ID card. Which happened more often than expected.
“Hey Sachi, when do you think CIMEDE’s ID card logs will be replaced with the rumored fingerprint scanner?” Asked Chikaoka.
The other girl responded with something that Chikaoka had not expected. “Fingerprint rumor is old news; I’ve heard that there will be a retina scanner implemented soon. That security will be hard to fake, which means no more skipping classes, Oka.”
“It’s not like I do it often, just occasionally.” Replied Chikaoka, although she knew that she did it more often that she should.
Due to her being from class A and having a high rank, Chikaoka didn’t have a strict attendance requirement like students from lower classrooms. That just meant she could get away with missing a few classes, and not damaging her AR or risking a scolding from the teachers or director. Even so, that could lead to her AR not moving higher and her getting farther in points from the other students, and eventually dropping down the list due to other students passing her from behind.
Chikaoka quietly thought abought her AR only moving up by three places. Could my skipping a few classes really put me that far behind? She let out a sigh.
The two girls continued their back-and-forth exchange on random topics like quizzing themselves for upcoming exams, and different ways to hold or wield weapons, and the like. Eventually somehow the topic fell to clothing and dresswear accessories.
The girls neared the director’s office room.
“I should wait outside till you’re done with your meeting” said Ichimori, as the two stood in front of a wooden door with iron decor, which also could have been a sly security feature.
“Okay, I shouldn’t be long” replied Chikaoka with a smile as she watched the other girl take a seat on one of the chairs stationed outside of the room.
Chikaoka straightened her back and raised her hand to knock on the door.
Knock* Knock* Knock*
The sound the door made when she knocked wasn’t very loud, probably due to the thick wood being lightly knocked on by Chikaoka’s small hand, yet a sound could definitely be heard.
She heard an immediate response from the other side. “Come in” That was all, but Chikaoka paused, it was not because she was scared to go in, but because the voice she had heard was not the director’s, it was much too light, it was much too cheerful, it was much too young. Chikaoka was slightly confused, much too confused to enter the room. She then heard another exchange, one that was much more familiar.
“Shut your mouth already, Ass! This is my office, and your voice is making me want to return you to your cage already.” That was definitely the voice of the director, thought Chikaoka as she silently listened. She had never truly heard the director speaking in an angry tone, actually, she might have on occasion when something really serious came up and he was getting frustrated with the results, but he usually remained calm during missions and even at school. Never did his tone have a hint of anger, or even sound close to that when speaking to a student, for everyone obeyed him, a reason that Chikaoka didn’t try to get out of coming here on her day off.
The director’s voice became calm and called out. “Come in” and unlike that first voice, this voice was the one that brought Chikaoka into the room.
She turned the doorknob, which had no squeak, and slowly pushed the door open. Straight ahead was the director, sitting at his desk, looking at her. In front of the desk were two chairs, although one was filled. The director gestured to the second chair, the one not being used, and Chikaoka approached.
From her view of behind, the one sitting in the other chair was unknown, but he had slightly long black hair, Chikaoka could tell that the other person was a boy by his figure. He was not wearing a school uniform, but a white t-shirt and some worn out sweatpants, some cheap clothes that looked like they were given to him because they merely fit. A homeless guy? She thought as she approached her seat.
But before she could make it halfway to her chair, the head turned around. His slightly long messy hair was hanging low, yet she could definitely not mistake his face, she had just seen it the recent night, she had just caught him, he was that thief, he was Saburi Keisuke.
Chikaoka paused in surprise, but then she regained her thoughts, and remained calm. “Director, what is he doing here?”