There’ll be a brief hiatus for a week or two, sorry!
I’ve got some other work that needs doing and I’d like to get some editing done as well.
The Star of Izumizaki will resume soon.
There’ll be a brief hiatus for a week or two, sorry!
I’ve got some other work that needs doing and I’d like to get some editing done as well.
The Star of Izumizaki will resume soon.
“And you’re sure you’re fine with taking Toshiro to Tokyo for a few days?” His mother was asking. Toshiro’s rucksack had been packed, along with some birthday money and some cash from his account. Michiko’s suggestion of going to Tokyo to read the NSA bill for himself had been cleared with his parents, and his school. There was just the final barrage before he could catch the train.
“Of course!” Daisuke Sada laughed. “It’ll be nice. Asako gets me out of her hair for a bit, I get to show Toshiro some of the sights, and pick up some bits and pieces for the house.” The JSDF Captain had his own bag packed and slung over his shoulder, dressed in jeans, a t-shirt and a camo jacket.
“Why not just teleport down there?” Noboru Satou asked, scratching at his chin.
“You miss the sights that way.” Daisuke replied, grinning down at Toshiro. “I fully expect you to have your nose pressed against the glass the entire way there and back.”
Toshiro nodded up at him, then looked to his mother. “I’ll call you as soon as we get there.” His arms wrapped around her as she came in for a hug and a kiss, then got a hug from his father as well.
“Enjoy Tokyo, we can’t wait to hear all about it.” She beamed at him, waving from the front door as the two of them departed for the train station.
There was another reason to go by train as well. Daisuke had promised to help practice English with him. It was useful for working with his computer, reading foreign textbooks, and improving his skills would help if he decided to study abroad. The US had some great universities looking into Aether, as did some of the European countries. Thanks to the change in the law, it was a possibility that was open to him on his own terms.
“Call the police.” Daisuke carefully pronounced each word as he read from the phrase book of Toshiro’s during the walk to the station.
“I will. What is the emergency?” He replied.
“My passport has been stolen.” The soldier jiggled his jaw and sighed. “English is a pain to speak at times.” He complained in Japanese.
“Think they feel the same about Japanese?” The young boy laughed. There were only a few other passengers at the platform, so the pair were able to grab a seat on a bench as they waited for their train.
“Absolutely. You just need to visit one of the US’s military bases here to hear how those that speak our language sound.”
“Some of them will be leaving soon, won’t they? With the new laws coming in and all.”
“There’ll be a phased reduction in US bases here. They’ll still have some, it helps them and us with the Soviet situation. Plus it will take time to expand the self-defence forces to take back some of the bases.”
Toshiro considered those words before asking. “So you and Asako won’t get sent abroad to fight?”
A hand ruffled his hair. “No. We’re allowed to travel freely now, but the Specials can only officially mobilize in Japan, or at the request of UNINAT to help with a disaster in the Pacific region.” Daisuke gazed skyward. “It’s a start, though.”
A voice came over the station tannoy. “The train to Kuroiso arrives in ten minutes.”
“That’s us, right?” Even though the train was that long away, Toshiro still tried to peer down the length of the track to see if he could spot it.
“That’s us. Down to Nasushiobara, then change for Ueno in Tokyo.” He batted Toshiro’s thigh with the phrase book. “That gives us ten more minutes to practice some English. Who knows, we might even get to order a hamburger in English when we get there!”
The Satou family’s car navigated its way through the winding mountain roads following the typed directions given to them by Daisuke and Asako Sada. A week had passed since the incident at Professor Imai’s home. It had even made the news, though no specifics were given.
On the Friday, Daisuke had teleported in with his wife and dropped off the document, along with a form for Noboru to fill out detailing the make, model and registration of the car.
“Be -very- precise in filling that out. We’d rather not have an incident on Toshiro’s birthday.” The JSDF Captain smiled. “It’s a nice place for a picnic, but things are a little tense at the moment.”
“I’ll say.” Kahoru laughed. She had been quite disturbed when she noticed someone following her to the shops and back. As soon as she got home she rang Asako in a panic, only to find out they were there to stop anyone from trying anything. It had taken a while for her breathing to calm. “What’s out that way that necessitates that?” She asked as she pointed to the form her husband was working on.
“We can’t quite say yet. But you’ll see.” Asako apologized. “My grandfather will be coming though, as will my parents.”
“Dad too.” Daisuke added. “He seemed to enjoy fishing with Toshiro last weekend.” The Major General had taken Toshiro and the Professor out, given they had no space to do any proper research after the damage to Imai’s house. Between learning about fishing and having flora and fauna pointed out, the young boy had calmed after the upset the night before.
“We appreciate all this, really.” Noboru said after handing the form back. “It’s nice for Toshiro to have a bit of an extended family like this.” He looked confused as Daisuke started chuckling.
Asako jabbed him with an elbow. “Don’t mind him. He keeps trying to get Toshiro to call me ‘aunt’. He finds it tremendously amusing.”
Rubbing at his ribs, Daisuke shrugged. “Just try and get there in the morning. And don’t let him know why you’re going that way. A surprise party needs a surprise. Otherwise it’s just a party.”
Toshiro hadn’t asked why they were out for a drive on the day of his birthday. He just enjoyed the countryside views as they made their way towards Mt. Kanayama by the shores of Lake Inawashiro. He pressed his face against the glass as they followed the lakeside road, marveling at the morning sun cast on the surface and the hazy shore just visible on the other side. When the road started to wind back up towards the mountain, he watched the branches loaded with spring greens sway in the wind.
A look of confusion crossed his face as they turned off a side road, past a military checkpoint. Even his parents looked a little confused as they progressed up the road, soon seeing the lake once more. Their sedan pulled into a car park, joined by three more vehicles. One was the Sada’s black Toyota. The second parked up was a silver Datsun 240Z, basking in the mountainside sun. Lastly a gorgeous red Honda motorcycle was parked just under a sprawling tree.
Major General Hideo Sada was waiting with his son and daughter-in-law for the Satou family to emerge from their sedan. “Welcome to Mt. Kanayama.” He was out of uniform, opting for black slacks and a pressed blue shirt. He beckoned them over to point out a facility emerging from the side of the mountain and running down towards the shore of the lake. “Home of the currently under construction ‘National School for New Talent.”
The young boy’s face lit up as he gazed down at the building under construction. He could see some of the rooms and corridors already taking shape, along with gardens, winding footpaths, and enough trees to remind him of his walks to the shrine back home. So much had been built… but it seemed there was a lot left to go.
“You’ll be starting here in two years time.” Asako added. “Part of the first class. The New Specials Act bill was approved late on Friday evening.”
Her father-in-law found her standing on the porch, cradling a cup of coffee in her hands. Out of her Sunrise costume, Asako Sada had changed into a warm wool dress and a soft woven cardigan.
“Everything all right?” The Major General asked.
“Just thinking, that’s all.” She smiled softly, glancing back into the house. Her husband was fast asleep, with Toshiro in a similar state next to him and a massive photo album on the soldier’s lap containing assorted pictures of the Specials. And Galaguy.
Hideo leaned against the wooden railing, having brought a cup of tea with him. “May I ask about what?” He took a sip of tea and clarified. “As a father, not a soldier.”
Blowing onto the surface of her drink, Asako sipped before speaking. “Once the New Specials Act passes and Grandfather and Toshiro are settled in the new school… I’d like to request a leave of absence.” It was a topic that Daisuke and her had discussed at length over the past two years. There was a spare room currently used as an office that was ready to be turned into a nursery. Her husband was great with kids, in costume and out of it, and her time spent with Toshiro had endeared her to the idea.
Hideo let out a sigh. “I suppose I’m ready to be a grandfather. I’ve seen the current draft of the NSA bill. In the event of a national emergency there’d be a chance you’d be called up anyway. And we’ve got the new crop of candidates coming up.”
UNINAT, and the US, had enforced a ten member limit on the Specials. Some of the former Ten Heavenly Soldiers had retired, leaving only three of the remaining six members active. The new bill would let them recruit beyond that number.
Asako placed a hand on her father-in-law’s shoulder. “You’ll always have a place here too, you know.” Hideo had moved in with them a year after they’d gotten married; half a year after his wife had disappeared. She gave him a grin. “I promise I won’t make you change any diapers.”
He laughed, perking up a little. “I’ve babysat enough Newlines to deal with a child.”
“Good to know.” They enjoyed the silence of the stars a bit until she had to bring up the other question that had been laying heavy on her. “Think they’ll try again?”
“We’re keeping tabs on other scientists of interest, and have issued panic buttons to them. It wouldn’t surprise me if they did try again.”
“Do you really think it was the Americans, or just… hired mercenaries working on behalf of some foreign power or corporation?” Asako asked. The NSA bill —and the Newline civil rights movement in general— hadn’t been popular among some governments.
“It wouldn’t surprise me. They need power and knowledge. The Soviets have them scared, along with the Africa situation. And the Middle East conflicts.” Hideo sucked his teeth before chuckling. “And strife in Asia too.” A number of those issues drove support for the NSA bill at home. Having more active heroes, trained ones at that, was considered a deterrent.
“Good thing I’m not taking that leave of absence yet, then.” Asako drained her coffee with a long gulp. “Let’s get back inside. I need to try and get those two to bed.” She shot a fond look at the pair dozing by the sofa.
A soft glow had enveloped Sunrise’s hand as she cradled her broken nose. The warm expression of her powers eased the pain and helped encourage quicker healing. She’d have a few bruises and scrapes to heal later, mainly from where she had been knocked onto the broken door.
The man she had floated towards moved so fast. One minute she was behind him, the next he was by her side and driving his fist into her face. Her grandfather rushed forwards only to get a kick to the shins that sent him down. The masked figure stood over the pair, knuckles cracking and shoulders rolling.
“I’ll take care of you, then your back up.” He had spat. His foot came back to level a kick at her. Then a burst of air rushed past taking the man out along with a lot of the front of the house.
Her husband had taken the shaken boy back to the basement to get him talking about the science he loved, and away from the scene above. Her grandfather had already gotten the broom out to start sweeping up, limping about as he did so. It let her concentrate on stemming the flow of blood from her nose.
“Let me.” Firebloom spoke from behind where she was sitting. The older heroine crouched down, sacred flames licking around her hand before jumping over to engulf her daughter’s nose. “You’ve not quite got my aptitude for healing, Asako.”
It was sadly true. Her parents were much more gifted with their talents than she was. Her father could fly faster, soar higher. Her mother burned brighter, cleansed quicker. Instead of lamenting, she wiped some of the blood from her chin with her sleeve before speaking. “They’re-”
“We know.” Firebloom pulled her red and gold mask off, tucking the item into the gold belt around her waist. Michiko Yamada kept her hair short, her irises a bright gold in contrast to Asako’s hazel ones. “The Military Police are on their way to detain them. Your father is trying to get one to talk but… they are not being forthcoming.” With a gesture the fire stopped, leaving Asako’s nose almost as new. That would have been fine if Michiko didn’t fall back on her medical training to give it a thorough examination, pulling and prodding and peering up her nostrils.
“It’s fine!” Asako huffed, shifting back. “Go check on Grandfather’s leg, I need to make sure Toshiro is okay.” She did wince a little as she rose from the floor, feeling the cuts and scrapes that got through her costume.
“All right.” Her mother sighed. “I’ll see to the rest of those later.”
Retreating down to the basement a little tenderly, she came to a stop as she spotted her husband with Toshiro sat on his lap. The pair were discussing the latest Galaguy episode while the weapon the boy had used sat on the workbench, near the framed picture of herself.
“See, Aunt ‘sako’s fine.” Daisuke teased, directing Toshiro to look in her direction.
“Your ‘Uncle’ won’t be if he keeps calling me that.” Asako laughed, channeling her power into her wounds and doing her best to walk normally over. She crouched a little and smoothed Toshiro’s hair back. “Thanks for the save.”
“Is Mister Imai-” Toshiro started.
“He’s fine. My mother’s checking him over now. She healed my nose too, see?” She leaned in so he could get a good look.
After checking with his eyes and a gentle touch from a fingertip, Toshiro looked glum. “I damaged Mister Imai’s house.”
“You knocked a super-powered man away from people you wished to protect. The windows can be replaced.” Daisuke gave his hair a ruffle. “And walls can be rebuilt.”
“The only things that were destroyed were inanimate.” Her grandfather came down to the basement. Heading to look over the device Toshiro had finished, he let out an impressed noise. “An air vortex cannon catalyzing atmospheric Aether to increase the delivered force? Mains charged, with power stored in this capacitor bank. Enough for a single shot.”
“Is the man I shot okay?” Toshiro asked in a worried tone. “I know he hurt you both but…”
“You’d prefer not to have done the same to him.” Daisuke finished. Standing up and setting Toshiro down on the chair, he gave the boy a fond smile. “I’ll go and check.”
Asako kissed him gently as he passed, giving a little nod on hearing the whisper asking if she was really okay. As her husband left the basement, she fetched another chair for her grandfather to sit on. “So, we need to have a talk and work out what we’re going to do with this weekend.”
With just over a week to go until his tenth birthday Toshiro Satou had his fingers crossed and a wish in his heart that he’d get what he was hoping for. Until then, he had already spent the Saturday afternoon at Mister Imai’s, working on ideas and doing research. Every two weeks he stopped over at the older man’s house. He’d always be ‘Mister Imai’ to him; he didn’t think of the elderly scientist as Professor Juro Imai.
Once in a while, when Asako and her husband Daisuke were visiting, Toshiro would accidentally call Mister Imai grandfather just like the military woman did. Mister Imai didn’t seem to mind. Toshiro didn’t know his own grandparents, they had passed in the war. Asoka just smiled warmly, while Daisuke teased about when he’d start calling his wife ‘aunt’.
The Aether he had collected five years ago had come up in a discussion between his parents, Mister Imai, and the Sada couple shortly after they had been assigned to guide him. A quarter of his collection was given to Mister Imai for use in their research and experiments. His parents got a quarter to sell, and another quarter was sold and put into a trust fund for Toshiro. The last part Toshiro kept at home to work with at his desk.
After a filling dinner of miso soup, the scientist had observed Toshiro do his extra homework. He was still in his local elementary school, but had extra work to tackle and was working at a grade far above his peers. In the quiet times, he’d find himself in the library reading fiction after devouring the non-fiction section.
He glanced up after finishing his mathematics work to see Imai reading an English collection of early science fiction writing.
“Yes?” Mister Imai asked, peering over the top of the book.
“I’m done with my work.”
A smile crossed the elderly man’s face. “And you want to work on your new project more?”
Toshiro nodded eagerly. They had recently turned a small amount of Aether into an alloy with tin, Astrannum, for use in an electronics project. If he was honest, the young boy wasn’t too sure what he was building, it just seemed right to him. Imai was watching with keen interest, letting him bounce ideas and theories about but not dictating how the design should go.
Imai was just rising from his chair as both heard a couple of cars pull up outside. The professor peered out from behind the blind, squinting at the darkness before stepping back. “Toshiro, I need you to lock the doors outside, lock yourself in the basement and find the device my granddaughter gave you.” He whispered quickly, hurrying over to grab a few things from his writing desk.
The tone made Toshiro dash as fast as he could, securing the front and back door then descending into the basement. Folding the door over it and pushing the bolts across, he vaulted down to grab the emergency signal from where it was nestled on a shelf. The thin black device had a red button on top. Asako told him if he or her grandfather were ever in trouble he had to jam his thumb down until the button depressed fully.
A thin strip of red light glowed briefly after the button clicked down.
Toshiro ran to the workbench, scrabbling about for parts. Wooden boxes and plastic tubs were removed from their places as he started to work frantically. He wanted to make something, no, he -had- to make something. But he wasn’t sure just what he was turning his project into…
Kahoru Satou glanced out of the front window at the darkening sky. Her husband was in his chair, though after fidgeting with his paper he had put it aside and moved onto watching her start to pace.
“He’ll be home soon. He was just late in leaving.” Noboru spoke.
“You’re right.” She walked the length of the window, fussing with one of her sleeves as she did so. “Five more minutes. If he’s not back then, maybe you can take the car out?”
“… All right. I’ll-” They both gasped and covered their eyes as the air in the middle of the room started to shimmer with a brilliant light. A flash filled the house along with a rush of air.
As the light faded, the full-size version of her son’s favourite toy stood there with Toshiro draped across his shoulders and holding his bike. “Your son is fine, Mr. and Mrs. Satou.” Galaguy quickly stated, propping the bike against the chair as she rushed to grab him. “He just had a bit of a shock when I turned up and fainted. He’s already starting to stir a little.”
Noboru had gotten up as well, if more to stare at the man in their house in shock. “You’re… real? I thought you were just a TV character.”
“It’s not the time for that!” Kahoru hissed, taking her boy in her arms. A quick check of his pulse relieved her a little, and he was moving about a little more.
“Tuck him into bed.” Galaguy suggested. “I need to have a word with him… but I need to talk to you both as well.”
Wife and husband looked between each other. Noboru nodded slowly, then reached out. “I’ll take him up.” He offered. Now her adrenaline was starting to ebb away, she was keenly aware he wasn’t the little boy she used to effortlessly carry about.
She passed him over and moved unsteadily to take a seat at the table, her limbs feeling weak.
“Though… we should probably talk interrupted. I can make Toshiro sleep until morning, if you’ll let me?” Galaguy’s hand started to shimmer with a swirl of starry light.
“No.” Noboru stated quietly. “I’ll stay until he’s settled, then I’ll join you both.”
The hero in their house nodded, and her husband disappeared up the staircase with their son. She had to admit, standing next to the hero she’d seen on TV and in various forms in her son’s room was a little disconcerting. He was as muscular and tall as she had assumed, but there was an aura about him that waivered between awe-inspiring and unsettling. The natural light in the room seemed to bend around him at times, only to be repelled back by faint sparkles of golden light.
“Can… I get you anything?” She offered lamely.
“Perhaps in a bit. After some paperwork.” He replied, his rich voice reverberating a little thanks to the mask.