The First Week –A Soon-hee Story Conclusion Update!

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Hoitash
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 8/07)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Aug 07, 2015 10:32 am

Music links will be at the end of the chapter due to complaints launched through my window via brick.

Usually it’s ticked off political groups who do that. I guess my fame as a columnist has vanished in the night, like some elusive hero or a purple martin.

Although they tend to come out at twilight…

…Anyway….

Previous Chapter

Chapter Eleven: Requiem of a Dream


The first thing I hear when I enter the dormitory building is music. Specifically, it sounds like someone is playing a piano, or maybe…

A keyboard? Was that what was in that case?

Easy enough to find out, at least. I follow the sound to the common room. The music get’s louder as I get closer, so it seems my initial guess was correct, on both counts. Standing in the threshold, I’m able to see I was right.

The only occupant in the room is Setsuko, who is sitting at a portable folding bench in front of what I can only presume is her keyboard, which I again presume is what was in the case I hauled down here yesterday. The case itself is tucked along the wall, and Setsuko’s polished wooden cane is resting against the bench.

Setsuko seems to be playing completely from memory, as her eyes are barely open and her fingers practically glide of their own accord across the board.

I’m not familiar with the song she’s playing, and it has a slow, haunting tone to it that sends shivers down my spine. Despite this, I cannot deny it’s beauty, nor the grace and poise of the pianist as she throws her whole body into her playing. She’s obviously enjoying herself, even if the music itself is on the melancholic side.

The joy in sorrow, I guess.

The piece goes on for several minutes, so she must have started recently, or it’s longer than it seems. When she’s done, she places her hands in her lap and sighs, smiling wistfully at the keyboard.

I can’t help but lightly applaud her efforts. I’m not much of a music person myself, but I can tell talent when I can see it.

Setsuko turns toward the threshold, looking a bit dazed. After blinking a few times, she grins and waves at me.

“Howdy, Sonny!” she calls, “Didn’t see you there.”

“Sorry,” I say, “I heard you playing when I came in, and I couldn’t help but listen.”

Setsuko beams at me, “Thanks. You got any requests? I’ve been down here for a little while, but ah think ah got one more in me for today.”

…I’m not sure what to say to that.

A suggestion might be nice.

…I can’t deny I want to hear her play again, or even see her play, but my knowledge of songs is extremely limited, though I’m somewhat fond of classical European music.

She probably knows that stuff, at least.

I don’t feel like putting her through that much trouble though, so I just say, “Well, do you know anything… more upbeat?”

Setsuko grins, “Sure. Hmm…,” she taps her chin thoughtfully, “you like foreign literature, so… ah! Ah got it!”

With that, Setsuko throws herself into her final piece.

Well that’s… different.

Well, I asked for happier sounding, and her choice seems to work. Setsuko sings the lyrics, too, and while her English may not be as good as mine, it’s not bad. She doesn’t have that weird accent when she sings, oddly enough.

I’m so enthralled with her performance I don’t notice Maiya roll up next to me until she’s in my peripheral vision. The fact that I don’t jump at her sudden arrival is another testament to Setsuko’s skill.

Maiya gives me a brief nod before focusing her attention on Setsuko, who gives no reaction to the arrival of the other girl. Glancing over at my fellow second-year briefly, I notice a violin case in a basket attached to the back of her chair.

I wonder if all the clubs take things so seriously here.

When Setsuko finishes the song we both applaud. Setsuko grins at me briefly before raising an eyebrow at Maiya.

“Hello, Maiya,” she says in her accent free voice.

“Hey, Sempai,” Maiya returns, “I’m glad you’re still playing. Are you taking requests?”

“Unfortunately, I have homework to tend to. Perhaps another time?”

Maiya sighs and nods, “Sure. Until then, Sempai.”

After backing up a bit to give her room to turn, Maiya rolls off down the hall. While she leaves, Setsuko grabs her cane and hefts herself up.

“Nice to see she ain’t takin’ me leavin’ the club too hard,” Setsuko drawls.

What the hell is that accent?

I must’ve made an odd expression while Setsuko walked over to me, because when we’re a pace apart she stops, raises an eyebrow, and leans on her left leg.

“Somethin’ wrong, Sonny?”

If I don’t ask, it’s going to drive me nuts every time she switches between them. Then again, it’s not my place and not my business, so I need to just leave it alone.

I shoulda known things wouldn’t be simple here.

Fortunately, Setsuko saves me from my conflicted mind as she grins and asks, “It’s the accent, ain’t it?”

I sigh and nod, “Sorry. It just throws me off a bit whenever you switch into it.”

Setsuko nods, “Maiko had trouble with it at first, too. My family is from the outskirts of Kobe, but my Dad got transferred to Sendai several years ago. He said we needed to ditch the accent to be taken seriously ‘round here, so we all –me, him, my Mom, and my older brother- all took lessons to mask our accents. Which is why I can switch between ‘em so easily.”

That explains that, I guess. Though I have no idea why she chose to let her guard down around me.

“Oh,” I say.

Setsuko chuckles at my response. I guess I’m not the first to react like that.

We stand awkwardly across from each other for a moment before I figure out I’m sort of blocking the doorway.

“Thanks for the song, Setsuko,” I say, and turn to head up to my room.

“See yah, Sonny,” Setsuko returns.

As I head up the stairs I see her heading for the elevator.

At least I can get along with my hallmates reasonably well.

I get back to my room and start on my homework. I tackle my math homework first before taking a quick break and starting on my Japanese work. By ‘break’ I mean some push-ups and a box of Pocky sticks. Nurse’s advice to take it easy has merit, but with my first club meeting tomorrow I need to get back into my training routine.

Hopefully I’ll be able to use some equipment soon.

I miss kicking. Anyway, homework.

The science homework is tedious but easy once you know how to properly use the textbook for reference. I learned very quickly that in pretty much every subject, the glossary and index are your friends.

I do some more push-ups before finishing the rest of my homework, which compared to the previous three classes is really easy. Still, it’s a bit later than I’m used to for dinner, so I’m eager to go downstairs and grab a casserole. Or maybe two, since my stomach settled.

I’m still sitting at my desk when someone knocks at my door. Once I settle down, I pause a moment to consider the knock. It was less rapid and insistent than Maiko’s, so maybe it’s Setsuko.

If she wants to order more Chinese she’s on her own.

When I open my door a crack, however, it’s not Setsuko. The girl on the other side of the door is slightly taller than me –big surprise, I know- with shoulder length black hair and light brown eyes. She’s stiller wearing her uniform, one of the long skirt variations, and around her neck is a simple silver crucifix.

Probably just decoration.

When the girl realizes I’m not going to open the door any wider for the moment, she bows lightly and says, “Hello. You’re Soon-hee Kim, correct?”

I nod. Okay, this is rude even for me. I open the door enough that we can see each other fully. Besides, I think I have an idea who she might be; presuming the conversation Setsuko and Maiko had last night is any indication, at least.

“Yes,” I say. Returning her bow, I vocalize my hunch and ask, “Are you Aya Nakajima-Sempai?”

She smiles lightly and nods, “Yes. I wanted to introduce myself in person, as I imagine Setsuko mentioned me when you first met.”

I nod. Setsuko seems the type to keep well informed, both as a senior class rep and as someone who seems to enjoy getting people together to meet and talk.

“Well,” Nakajima-Sempai resumes talking, “I was also concerned that others in the hall might have given you a poor impression of me. To that end, I want you to know that I am not the originator of the rumors regarding you that emanated from the Occult Club.”

I blink at her for a few moments, remembering Maiko’s digs at the occult club and a little nonplussed by her overly formal word choice.

When my brain catches up with what she’s said, my response is a somewhat non-sequiturial, “You’re… in the occult club?”

Nakajima smiles lightly and nods, “Indeed. I hope we can still get along despite what Nagita,” a scowl plays across her lips as she mentions the second-year, “and Setsuko may have said about me.”

Bowing once again, the girl takes a step back and retreats down the hall. I absently watch her open her own door and close it before doing the same with my own.

Having no real response to what just happened, my stomach takes over and I head down to the kitchen on autopilot. As I descend the stairs, the dark edges of my mind start whispering to me. I know that sounds really poetic and creepy, but it’s really just creepy. Something Setsuko had said the day before comes back to me, and as her words work their way back to the forefront of my mind, an unsettling thought takes form:

Did I just speak with someone who is condemned to an early death, and knows it?

God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.

+++
Next Chapter

Death comes for us all, for it is the true equalizer of humanity.

Sorry, got a little maudlin on you there. Music links:

Requiem for a Dream piano cover

Crocodile Rock by Elton John
Last edited by Hoitash on Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 8/14)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:29 am

I’ll spare you another night of Soon-hee vomiting and sleeping in a closet.

Oh, and don’t worry about remembering the freshmen –just think of them as feral sheep.

Feral sheep that never sit down or do the work or listen to instructions or shut their yaps during attendance… Ilya, get me a drink!

Previous Chapter

Chapter Twelve: The Eye of the Tiger (dojo)


Considering the lead-up before bed, it’s probably not surprising that I had a nightmare during the night. That’s one reason I prefer sleeping on the floor- I tend to roll and thrash a lot during nightmares, and I like waking up in the comfort of a confined space.

Must be my inner rodent.

For better or for worse, though, last night’s nightmare less PTSD based and more of an embarrassing school nightmare, albeit one with a lot of death and creepy laughter at my ethnicity. So not much of an improvement, really, but I’ll take what I can get.

Though I didn’t have too much trouble getting back to sleep, this was my second night of lackluster sleep that week, and it was starting to wear on me, even if I refused to let it show as best I could.

I wonder if this is how Maiko feels all the time.

Miss Isobe noticed I was off again, asking if I was okay after I had finished my somewhat lethargic laps.

Trying to give her a reassuring smile that I can feel not reach my eyes, I reply, “Bad night’s sleep again.”

Miss Isobe gives me a tired smile. She really doesn’t seem like a morning person, so she probably got stuck with the morning shift by lack of seniority. Or she was the only lifeguard on staff, but that seems unlikely in a school like this.

“Getting used to new surroundings and all that?” she asks.

I nod, “Hopefully won’t be a problem tonight.”

“Hopefully,” she states, “Try not to fall asleep in class, okay?”

I smile and nod. Today is going to be an interesting day.

My morning classes go by mostly uneventfully. I somehow manage to stay focused and on point during class. It does seem I’ve got my English teacher’s attention. There are worse fates, I guess.

Lunch is pretty boring, actually, because Maiko went to the cafeteria to hang out with the book club. She invited me along, but I didn’t feel up for it. I am almost out of casseroles, though, so I told her I might go tomorrow.

Oh, and it turns out Mutou had accidently doubled up the homework, not that that spared us from more. Fortunately math, my last class for the day, went reasonably well, so I don’t have to worry about going to club practice on a sour note.

Just a tired one.

Once the bell rings for the end of classes, I grab my schoolbag and gym bag, and head off to the auxiliary gym.

Once again I take my shoes off before entering the dojo. The equipment on mats taking up half of the gym look ready for use. The floor is smooth and cool on my feet. Banners and scrolls hang from the ceiling. A sleeping underdog is stirring, poked into existence and ready to prove itself.

Or maybe I had just really missed being able to kick something. Either way, I head for the women’s lockers and, blushing furiously despite myself, put on the gi I had brought with me. As I tighten the belt across my waist, I sigh and stare at my shoes sitting in the locker. I didn’t really feel like I was worthy of being ranked fourth student, but my physical therapist had been really impressed with the variety of techniques I had learned in such a relatively short period of time.

Hopefully I was good enough for the club. The Captain seemed impressed with my skills, and I’d hate for him to be disappointed.

I will be good enough. I have to be.

Mentally shaking myself, I close my locker and head back out to the dojo. On the way out I run into Shibasaki and another girl, who looks a bit taller than me and a lot less muscled. When Shibasaki sees me, she grins and bounds over to me.

Wrapping an arm around me –which I try hard not to shiver or flinch at –my fellow second-year grins and says, “Hey, Kim! You excited for the first meeting?”

I nod despite the discomfort of her proximity, “Yeah. I’ve missed the training.”

“Great to hear!” She declares, “Oh, have you met Sawa yet? She’s one of the first-years.”

The other girl, who was still standing awkwardly by the door to the locker room, gave a nervous smile and bow. She has short cobalt hair and hazel eyes with a hint of steel that remind me a bit of Setsuko’s piercing look.

“Not yet,” I reply, trying to avoid looking too closely at Shibasaki.

Shibasaki waves a hand, “Ah, no problem; we’ll get all the introductions out soon enough. Hell, we might even get to actually train today! See you soon, I gotta go bug Mizukami and Inada.”

My fellow second-year finally removes her arm from around my neck and dashes off. Sawa watches her go, glances at me, and follows after the second-year.

Well, here goes nothing.

As I leave the locker room, Captain Inada, Vice Captain –sorry, Temporary Vice Captain Mizukami- and Shibasaki are standing across from four other students, Sawa included –I guess I had taken longer in the locker room then I thought. Sawa is the only girl amongst the four. I move up to join the new members, on the way noticing that Hiraga-Sensei is leaning against the back wall, his arms folded and a look of mild boredom etched on his features.

I form up with the new students at the right end of their line. Mizukami-sempai is looking intently at his tablet again, propped under his right hand while his left flies over the touch screen. Captain Inada is glaring at the clock behind us on the wall, high up near the cieling, willing the time for the club meeting to strike. Shibasaki is glancing back at Hiraga-sensei with her good eye.

Don’t focus on that. Focus on something else. Anything else.

To distract myself, I take a look over the other students, including a brief glance at my upperclassmen. Shibasaki is a third ranked student, and both Captain Inada and Mizukami-sempai are first ranked students.

Hiraga-sensei, by the way, is an eighth-ranked dan, according to his belt.

As for my fellow new recruits, as I said, Sawa is the only girl. She might not have a lot of muscle on her, but her back is straight and her expression determined. She doesn’t have a rank yet.

Two of the other male students do. They’re both fifth ranked students, and have decent builds and statures. The other guy, the one without a rank for the moment, looks a bit on the nervous side, as if he’s not sure he should be here.

What was it Mizukami said? Something about a magnet… epilepsy, maybe.

I did a lot of research before I came to Yamaku. I wanted to be prepared. If the kid is an epileptic, I could see why the Captain might be nervous about having him. He must have passed the physical by a hair, since if I remember the rules right only mild neurological disorders can pass it.

Although that might make the magnet overkill, especially at his age….

My internal musings end when Captain Inada takes a step forward, so that he’s now flanked by the other two club members, “Alright you lot, listen up! I am Hachi Inada, Captain of the Judo Club. You will refer to me as Captain or Inada-dono. To my right is Vice Captain-”

Temporary Vice Captain,” Mizukami-sempai interrupts his captain without even bothering to look up from his tablet.

Captain Inada’s eye twitches slightly as he continues, “…Temporary Vice Captain and constant pain in my ass, Ataru Mizukami. You will refer to him as Vice Captain-”

Temporary Vice Captain.”

Twitch.

“…Temporary Vice Captain or Mizukami-dono.”

“At least until the end of the month,” Mizukami-dono adds, “Then just Mizukami-dono, because my temporary post will expire by then, and Midders will have doomed us all.”

Twitch. Twitch.

Hiraga-Sensei is smirking slightly, so at least he’s amused. Judging by her massive grin, so is Shibasaki.

Captain Inada rallies quickly, resuming his speech even as his eyes glance at his irksome underling, “And to my left is Midori Shibasaki. You will occasionally hear Mizukami and myself refer to her as Midders. This is a prerogative of the Captain and Vice Captain, due to the time-honored tradition of she lost a bet. You will refer to her as Shibasaki-dono.”

Experience trumps year, I see. Makes sense, though why dono?

Maybe the Captain watched too many war films between trimesters.

“Behind me is Hiraga-Sensei, one of the PE teachers,” the Captain continues, “He is our club advisor.”

Hiraga-sensei fails to react to his introduction.

“Together, with the five of you, we are the Judo Club. We are the smallest athletic club at Yamaku, but that’s okay. We are a proud club, with a proud heritage and past. Our glorious triumphs have spanned the entire history of this fine institution, and I have no doubt that that tradition will continue. In fact, it not only will continue, it must continue. Ataru?”

Mizukami finally raises his head from his tablet, which he carefully places in the grip of his left hand. Taking a step forward as the Captain takes a step back, the shorter senior explains, “Due to the way the budget system for school clubs is designed, for athletic clubs a large determining factor in their budget is their performance in competitions with other schools. Though the Judo Club is the smallest athletic club, our performance over the last decade has been adequate to keep us well funded. It has also given us the political clout with the Student Council and administration to ensure that we have more or less sole use of this gym.”
"Who are you, that do not know your history?" -Ulysses
Misha Time: United States of Misha Meet the Hakamichis
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I wrote a book! Brythain edited it! If you like mystery and history please consider: A Sister's Habit
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 8/14)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:29 am

Part II:

Mizukami-dono takes a step back and immediately goes back to his tablet. Captain Inada takes a step forward, looking ready to start another speech. Shibasaki looks incredibly bored, idly examining her fingernails. I quickly focus my attention back to the Captain as he begins speaking again.

“Exactly. More than anything, our performance against other schools will ensure our budget is maintained, and so is our use of this gym. In the middle of June, following the track meet and before summer break, the judo, archery, and kendo clubs will be having their competitions. We WILL be ready by then, you WILL do your best to represent this club, this school, and this city, and we WILL move on to regional’s.

“This gym is our final stand, our last bastion, our…” the Captain’s head snaps towards the other senior so fast I’m surprised he didn’t snap something, “Ataru?”

“Our Fort Henry,” Mizukami-dono replies.

“…Sure. That,” Captain Inada’s gaze turns back to us, “Anyway, we will train and prepare to defend this sacred ground so that this club –our club –will survive, endure, and thrive.”

Is this a club or the last stand of the 71?

Still looking at her fingernails, Shibasaki glances up at the Captain, “Are you done yet?”

“Indeed,” Captain Inada declares.

Shibasaki and Hiraga-Sensei start clapping.

Twitch. Twitch.

The Captain grits his teeth, grumbles “Thank you for your support,” shakes himself like a wet dog, and continues, “Now then, before we move on, I would like each of you five to introduce yourselves. State your name, experience with judo if you have any, and whatever forms you are proficient, skilled, or trained in if you have any. We’ll start on the right.”

Eyes still focused on his tablet, Mizukami-dono asks, “Their right or our right?”

“…My right, so their left. You,” he points at one of the guys with a ranked belt, “Start.”

The indicated student takes a step forward. He has a lean, wiry frame from the looks of it, and short, scraggly black hair.

“My name is Oji Nishimoto, I’m ranked fifth kyu, and started judo last September. I’m decent at hip throwing and know a bit about side-sacrifice throwing, but not much.”

Captain Inada nods, “Welcome aboard, Nishimoto.”

Nishimoto bows and returns to the line. The next student, the other guy with a rank, steps forward. He’s more on the stocky side, and looks like he could be a decent grappler.

“I’m Haruki Nara, also fifth kyu, and have been training since last March. I’m okay at joint grappling, but I prefer pinning… not that that helps for the competitions.”

Guess I wasn’t the only one to get more formal training.

Some techniques are just too dangerous for regular practice, and as a result aren’t allowed in competitions. Weapons training, vital strike techniques, and most of the grappling techniques are among them. As I’ve said, I learned for practical reasons, not to win competitions.

Shibasaki grins at the first-year’s remark, “Whatever works, I say. Nothin’ wrong with a good grappler.”

“Midders is our grappler expert,” Captain Inada explains, “Mizukami and I are throwers. Thank you, Nara.”

Nara bows and steps back. The girl takes a step forward, and she seems to be looking at Shibasaki rather than the Captain when she speaks.

“I’m Riko Sawa. I don’t have a lot of experience with judo, but I promise to do my best for both the sake of the club and the school. I was thinking of taking up grappling, as well.”

Shibasaki beams, having likely already pegged the other girl as a pet project for her.

The Captain nods and smirks faintly as he says, “That’s alright –we’ll have you up to par in no time.”

The girl bows and takes a step back, a ghost of a smile on her face. The nervous boy takes a step forward, swallows, and glances at Mizukami-dono. Still not bothering to look up from the tablet, the older student catches the first-year’s eye and gives a slight nod.

Encouraged by the gesture, the boy swallows again and says, “I’m Kenta Nogami, and I don’t really have any experience with judo, but I’m eager to learn and won’t make you regret approving my application.”

Captain Inada actually smiles, just for a moment, before stating, “I don’t doubt it. I will hold you to those words, Nogami.”

Nogami swallows again, bows deeply, and retreats.

My turn. Taking a slow breath, I take a step forward.

“My name is Soon-hee Kim, and I’m a fourth kyu, barely. The only form I’m proficient in is vital strikes, but I’m well versed in throwing and improvised weapon use. I was trained for practical use over showmanship, so my abilities in a competition are limited right now, but I’m a swift learner and a hard worker. I won’t let you down –any of you.”

Captain Inada and Shibasaki smirk. Hiraga-sensei looks mildly less bored for a moment. As far as introductions go, that’s about the best I could hope for, so I bow and retreat to my place in the line.

When I step back, Captain Inada takes a moment to glare at the first-years and bark, “Kim is a second year student and shall be given the proper respect by the rest of you lot. You got that?”

“Yes,” the other four reply.

The Captain tilts his head and cups an ear with his right hand, “I’m sorry, I thought I told you lot how to address me. I’ll repeat the question one last time: do you understand me?

“Yes, Captain!”

Captain Inada grins, “Now that’s more like it! This year is gonna be a good one, I can feel it in my bones. What time is it?”

The Captain looks up at the clock behind us and grimaces. Guess his introduction took longer than he thought.

“Crap,” Captain Inada sighs, shakes himself again, and continues, “Alright then, we have enough time for one last thing: Mizukami-dono and myself are going to teach you newbies how to roll so you don’t hurt yourselves when you get knocked down. Which is going to happen. A lot. Those of you who have a belt, Shibasaki will join you in getting your skills back up to snuff, though you are welcome to practice your rolls if you’re out of practice. Any questions? No? Outstanding. If you have a question later, ask me, the Vice Captain-”

Temporary Vice Captain.”

Twitch. I’m starting to worry the Captain might have a stroke.

He’s in the right class for it, too.

“Mizukami-dono,” he continues, “Shibasaki, or Sensei. That’s why we’re here. Now move it!”

Definitely seen too many war movies.

Since it’s been a while since I rolled, I decide to spend the rest of the club time doing that. Shibasaki and the two belt boys head for the equipment, and while I would like to join them, if I end up sore all over from getting knocked on my butt I won’t be any good to anyone.

Watching me approach, the Captain grins and asks, “Joining us for some tumbling fun?”

I nod, “I want to make sure I’m not out of practice.”

Captain Inada nods, “Good to hear. Ataru, show the newbies how it’s done.”

Mizukami-dono finally looks up from his tablet, which he hands to the Captain. He also hands him his glasses. With both his hands free, I notice for the first time that his right hand is prosthetic. It has four fingers and a thumb, but it’s a prosthetic nonetheless.

Mizukami-dono blinks a few times before he begins his demonstration.

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips /Straining upon the start. The game's afoot /Follow your spirit; and, upon this charge /Cry 'God for Harry! England and Saint George!'

+++
Next Chapter

Oh, Fireball whiskey, is there anything you can’t do?

Huh? No, Ilya, you may not borrow my copy of the Necronomicon. I need that to resurrect Theodore Roosevelt so he can run the Starbucks I’m going to open in my desk when I get tenure. Go ask Larry King for his copy.

I knew I shouldn’t have added “occult studies” to my list of tutoring subjects….

Oh, and I know these big cast scenarios are a pain in the butt, but this is from Soon-hee’s perspective, and she would give a crap about the feral – I mean freshman.
Last edited by Hoitash on Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Who are you, that do not know your history?" -Ulysses
Misha Time: United States of Misha Meet the Hakamichis
Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
I wrote a book! Brythain edited it! If you like mystery and history please consider: A Sister's Habit
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 8/21)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:26 am

You know the worst part of a school cafeteria?

The smell. It’s like some weird doughy, starchy weirdness that doesn’t change. I have no idea what causes it, but I woudn’t wanna eat it.

Previous Chapter

Chapter Thirteen: The First Volley

Well, as Kenji would say, the time has come.

I’m out of casseroles. I honestly thought they would last longer, but that just goes to show I need to pay more attention in math class.

To complicate things, Maiko has to go to the library to help with something related to the book club, so I have to go it alone, as I really haven’t gotten to know anyone else in class.

I could just grab something from a vending machine, but that would be unhealthy and I’d have to buy a lot of stuff to avoid getting hungry too early before dinner. As long as I can block out the noise, I should be fine.

Hopefully the food isn’t as bad as everyone seems to imply.

Getting to the cafeteria is easy enough, thanks to the flow of traffic and my memory of the school’s layout. The bustle and noise of the trip itself gives me a chance to start preparing for the noise and crowds of the cafeteria.

The trick for me, because the noise is almost as bad as the crowd, is to find one sound or noise and focus on it. With so much randomness around, and my lack of acclimation to the traffic, the best noise is my own footsteps. Focusing on them helps keep my anxiety down, and avoid freezing up when I finally enter the cafeteria.

The blast of sound that hits me when I step into the cafeteria makes me freeze in place for moment despite my preparation. I rally as quickly as I can so I don’t block the path and make my way to the food line. The walk gives my battered ears time to adjust, and focusing on my footsteps helps keep me from jumping from every clanging and metallic sound.

Fortunately I have food to distract me. The cafeteria has an almost intimidating amount of options to accommodate the student body, but I was used to that at the hospital. Besides, I can eat just about anything, as long as it’s not too spicy or contains melon or honey.

My plate thus laden with food, I now have the problem of finding somewhere to sit. No tables are empty, and I’m way too introverted to sit next to someone I don’t know, so maybe I should just head back to class, especially before the noise starts to hurt my oversensitive ears…

“Hey Kim!”

I turn my head towards the call of my name. Shibasaki is a table away waving energetically, looking oddly out of place –and much more… well, feminine- in her school uniform then in a gi. Because she tempered her voice the shout didn’t make me jump, and only a few students were bored enough to see who she was calling to.

Once I focus on her, I see she’s not alone. Mizukami-dono and Sawa are with her, taking up a corner of one of the tables. Shibasaki scoots so there’s a space on her left side, with Mizukami-dono on her other side at the end of the table, while Sawa sits across from her senior with an open spot next to her. The determined first year seems to have found herself a role model in the club.

That’ll be fun to watch.

Though it would make more sense to sit across from Mizukami-dono, I can’t really ignore such an obvious invitation, and besides, I need a place to sit, so I head over to Shibasaki and take the offered seat.

I don’t take up much room anyway.

“Hey, Shibasaki-dono,” I say, “thanks for the seat.”

Shibasaki grins, “No worries, Kim, and please don’t call me that outside of meetings –Midori’s fine.”

I nod and turn to greet Sawa, who is heavily absorbed with trying to determine which end of her cornet to start eating from first.

Eyes on the pastry, she briefly glances at me and greets, “Hello, Sempai. Which side of the cornet do you eat first?”

I stop myself from telling her to just call me Soon-hee –the club’s chain of command must be respected. Even if –dono is an incredibly outdated honorific.

“The chocolatey end,” I reply, “Always.”

Sawa nods decisively and, her steely eyes shining with determination, shoves the larger half of the cornet into her mouth.

Wow, impressive.

And a bit disturbing, too.

“Hello, Kim,” Mizukami says, bringing my attention to him. For once he’s not nose deep in his tablet, and is simply eating his lunch.

“Hello, Sempai,” I return.

“So, how do you think the meeting went?” Shibasaki asks between bites, “I wanna get my fellow second-year’s opinion.”

I start eating as I mull the question over. My salad wrap is wilted and doughy, but is also food, so I eat it. Quickly, to get the experience over with.

Once I’ve managed to shove the wrap down my throat and swallow it, I reply to Shibasaki’s question, “It seemed like a good start. I’m glad the Captain takes the club’s success so seriously.”

Mizukami grunts and leans forward so we can see each other, “More like he doesn’t want to be outdone by the archery and kendo clubs.”

Shibasaki snorts and rolls her eye, “As if those stuck-up bitches or small-dick compensating stick wavers could ever compete with us.”

Sawa gives a scandalized yelp that she tries to stifle by shoving the rest of her pastry into her mouth. This earns her an amused grin from Shibasaki and a weary eye roll from the senior.

“Be nice to the archery club,” perhaps I mistook the target of Mizukami’s umbrage, “I don’t wanna end up on Hiraga-Sensei’s bad side.”

Someday I’ll be part of a conversation where my input is actually required.

Not that I mind. More time to eat.

Sawa, having calmed herself with the delicious glory that is chocolate, turns and blinks at the senior, “Huh?”

“The archery club and Judo Club advisors are married,” Mizukami explains, “which helps keeps things civil, although I think we learned our lesson a decade ago.”

Right, that gap in awards from 2010 to 2014. Wonder what happened.

Probably someone pulled a dangerous prank and got the club suspended.

“Civil is a bit generous,” Shibasaki says between bites of her own food, “but we try to stay polite. As three of the four most traditional clubs at school, if we fuck up, the school’s image’ll take a hit.”

I nod as I swallow my second wrap, “Makes sense.”

Shibasaki glances at my food-laden plate with her good eye, “You’re a hungry one, ain’t yah?”

I nod again as I take a sip from my box of orange juice. A balanced diet is important, after all.

Shibasaki smirks and turns to scan the cafeteria. Her smile vanishes as she notices a girl seemingly walking towards us, “Shit, is that Takara?”

Mizukami looks up from his plate to check where the second-year is glaring, “Yep.”

Shibasaki groans, “Sawa-chan, do me a favor and lie on the seat so she can’t sit down.”

Sawa blinks and moves to actually do that, but the other girl is among us before she can. The new girl has a tray of food in her hands and a gentle-seeming smile on her face. She’s a bit on the tall side with long black hair tied back and up in a braid. A sleek black hearing aid is in her right ear.

“Hey, Ataru, how are you?” she asks.

Mizukami smiles up at the girl, “I’m alright. How was your break?”

She shrugs, “Pretty good. May I have a seat?”

Mizukami nods, ignoring Shibasaki glaring a hole into his skull. The girl takes a seat next to Sawa, mutters a quick “thanks for the food,” and snaps her chopsticks apart.

My rich kid senses are tingling.

Or that might be the orange juice.
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 8/21)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:27 am

Part II:

“Oh,” Mizukami looks from the new girl over to us, “Kim, Sawa, this is Kagami Takara, she’s one of the seniors in the archery club.”

“Pleasure to meet you,” the girl says, still focused on her food, “Nice to see you got some new members this year.”

“Five, actually,” Shibasaki states, her glare turning from Mizukami toward the archer, although she lowers its intensity a few notches –now it’ll just leave a burn instead of bore a hole.

Takara nods, “Good to hear,” she glances at me and raises an eyebrow, “I hope you’re not lowering your standards to boost your numbers.”

I am going to choose to take that as a crack about my height.

Shibasaki snorts, “Do we look like the kendo club?”

Takara smirks, “Good point,” glancing at me again, she frowns and adds, “It’d be a shame if your image took a hit because of the… rabble you let in to inflate the numbers.”

I’m pretty sure she almost said something that could get her severely reprimanded, but since she didn’t actually say it, and I’m far more interested in my bowl of rice than some rich girl’s ignorant rhetoric she learned from her equally ignorant parents, I don’t bother responding.

Shibasaki is less magnanimous, and her glare at the archer makes Sawa swallow. My fellow second-year opens her mouth to growl something, but Mizukami interjects before she can.

“How are things in the archery club?” he asks, “A lot of your best shooters graduated recently, and you and the Captain are the only good ones left, really.”

Takara sighs, either not noticing or ignoring the highly irate yet silent Shibasaki, “Yeah, and all these new kids keep wanting to use plastic bows, and it’s just not the same.”

’The times they are a’ channgin’’ as the expression goes.”

Takara sighs and shrugs, “I guess. It’s too early to tell anyway –the newbies won’t be off the rubber bands for months,” shaking her head slightly, she grins and asks, “Speaking of, are you free this weekend for some tanking?”

“Should be,” Mizukami replies, sparing a glare at the second-year next to him to halt her glaring, with limited success, “I have a crapton of paperwork and homework, but should be good by then.”

Takara smiles, “Good to hear. I’d like to get in as much game time as possible before we have to start worrying about exams.”

Mizukami groans and slumps into his seat, “Ugh, please don’t remind me. I’ve already started speaking to the Nurse about getting some decent pain pills.”

Takara chuckles and somehow manages to quickly shovel down her lunch in a dignified manner, Shibasaki eyeing her the whole time. Which might explain her haste. When she’s done, Takara picks up her tray and stands up to leave.

“Well, see you online, Ataru,” she says, “and good luck in the competition, all of you.”

“Bye,” Mizukami returns.

When Takara is out of earshot, Shibasaki groans and turns her glare back at Mizukami.

“How the hell can an Americaphile like you get along with that stuck-up bitch?”

Mizukami shrugs, “We play Monster Hunter together a lot. Kim?”

“Huh?” I ask, the remains of my third wrap still in my mouth.

Ignoring my deplorable table manners, Mizukami grimaces slightly and states, “I apologize for her remark about us lowering our standards –I’m sure you were the target of her comment.”

I swallow, trying my best to ignore Sawa and Shibasaki looking at me, “It’s okay. She meant my height, right?”

Mizukami and I exchange a brief glance, and he states, “Yeah. We’ll go with that.”

Shibasaki snorts, “Bitch.”

Mizukami turns to glare at the second-year, “Hey, she puts up with me.”

Shibasaki rolls her eye, “You don’t count.”

Mizukami gives a small smile, which I’m only now noticing he doesn’t do very much, “If only everyone thought that way.”

Sawa blinks at the two seniors, clearly confused, but too out of place to voice her concern. I’m curious, too, but it’s not my business.

Mizukami must’ve noticed Sawa’s look, because he turns to her and explains, “I’m one-fourth Ainu, so….”

“So nothing,” Shibasaki states, and shoves her next bite into her mouth.

Mizukami shrugs and goes back to his food.

Glancing back the way Takara had come, Sawa chews her lip for a moment before saying, “She didn’t seem so bad….”

“Takara? She’s not,” Mizukami states, “she and the archery club just have a bad reputation.”

Shibasaki snorts again, “The only reason you defend them is because you’re consorting with the enemy.”

Mizukami narrows his eyes at the second-year, his glasses giving him an oddly sinister look as he growls, “The only enemy I have are phantom limb pains and risk of pain med dependency,” glancing at Shibasaki’s half-eaten lunch, he adds, “Lunch’ll be over soon, so you might wanna quit bad-mouthing your fellow athletes and eat.”

Shibasaki looks about to roll her eye again, but after a quick glance at Sawa she sighs and grumbles, “Yes, Sempai.”

I’ve already finished eating, so I say goodbye to the others and grab my tray to put on the stack. Mizukami looks like he wants to say something to me, but stops himself. Maybe he feels this isn’t the right place to discuss what just happened.

I’m not entirely sure what happened anyway.

My first lunch in the cafeteria, and I’m already caught in some sort of club cold war, involving a vengeful second-year, a potential racist, and whatever Mizukami is.

And poor Sawa stuck in the middle of it all. And myself, for that matter.

As I make my way back to class, I can’t help but feel like I’ve been dropped in the middle of something that I have no control over. I hate that. I’ve worked too hard and too much not to scrape and scrabble for every bit of control I can get.

Still, I am only one person amongst the many. A grain of rice in the bowl.

What would Kenji do?

Well, that’s easy enough to answer. He’d do everything he could to figure out everything and everyone involved –their goals, plans, and tactics, who was against who, who was allied with who, who was neutral and why. He’d find out everything, and figure out how to use it for the best of everyone involved.

But to do that, he’d… right. That’s what I have to do. If I’m going to be stuck in the middle of something, I need to know where I stand. To do that, I need information.

And I might just know where to get it.

lo! Suddenly rain descended from heaven. All the atmosphere, which before had been clear, darkened.

+++
Next Chapter

Insert witty Spartan joke here.

Oh wait, I already did that. Never mind, then.

This chapter was a challenge for various reasons, so I hope it worked out.
Last edited by Hoitash on Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 8/21)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Aug 21, 2015 5:33 pm

What would Kenji do?
When I read this I stopped short for a moment until I remembered which story this is. That line would be totally silly in any other...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 8/21)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Aug 21, 2015 5:59 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
What would Kenji do?
When I read this I stopped short for a moment until I remembered which story this is. That line would be totally silly in any other...
:)

I like to think of it as the equivalent to the famous Darths and Droids quote "Jar Jar, you're a genius!"

Making a likable version of Kenji was a happy co-in-cy-dents of my fan fiction pseudo career.

All she needs now is a WWKD bracelet. Well, and a box of Pocky sticks.
"Who are you, that do not know your history?" -Ulysses
Misha Time: United States of Misha Meet the Hakamichis
Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 8/28)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:09 pm

So that’s something else that can be set on fire with enough effort applied…

Well, now that it’s extinguished, I can post the chapter. Story time!

Previous Chapter

Chapter Fourteen: Take the Cane, Leave the Cookies


The rest of my day went by uneventfully, except that at club practice Mizukami asked me if I was alright. I told him I was, and felt compelled to explain my reasoning, since I had a feeling this would be a recurring issue and he didn’t look entirely convinced:

“Her remark was a dig at the club rather than me personally, and in any case there’s no point getting riled up about it. She meant no malice and had no ill intent, and even if she did there’s nothing I can do. I’m not going to get upset about other people’s idiocy when there’s no point. This isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with this, and it won’t be the last.”

Mizukami seemed impressed with my response. Or maybe he was just surprised I had said so much. Either way, he understood where I was coming from; I had been raised to be prepared for prejudice, and so had he, most likely. That doesn’t excuse it or justify it, but at the end of the day there’s millions of Japanese and one of me.

That’s not to say I have to just take it lying down, of course. I can at least prepare myself for the future. Which is why I’m currently standing in front of Setsuko’s door, holding a bag of snickerdoodles from my rapidly dwindling stockpile of cookies. She wasn’t downstairs playing her keyboard when I got back, nor was she in the kitchen. So I’m hoping she’s in her room, so I can do this before I change my mind.

Well, here goes nothing.

I knock quickly on the door.

“Just a moment, please!” Setsuko’s unaccented voice calls.

Good, she’s here. One problem handled. Sort of.

It takes a few moments for the door to open, which Setsuko does by pulling it wide and leaning forward to see who’s knocking. I’m a bit stunned by her appearance, but I recover in the same amount of time it takes her to lower her gaze from Maiko height to mine.

Like me she’s ditched her uniform -me for my typical blue jeans and long-sleeved shirt, and her for a pair of jean shorts and a purple band shirt that’s a size or two too big. Her shorts are cut at the same place her leg was, which I can tell because her prosthetic isn’t in. She’s also using a more practical, pivoting, four legged purple plastic cane instead of the antique one. The purple cane is held in her right hand, and her left is holding onto the inside of her threshold.

When she looks down at me, she smiles and says, “Hey Sonny, what can ah do you for?”

I think I’m finally used to the accent.

“I was wondering if I could ask you something,” I reply. Lifting up the bag of snickerdoodles, I add, “I brought cookies.”

Setsuko raises an eyebrow at me, “Somethin’, huh?” she grins as her steely eyes seem to shine for a moment, “How delightfully ominous.”

“If it’s not too much trouble, I mean,” I say, “I’m sorry if-”

Setsuko waves her right hand briefly, making her wobble a bit as she states, “I’m kiddin’, Sonny. C’mon in and have a seat while I make us some tea.”

Setsuko shoves off the inside of her threshold and heads deeper into her room. Even though she’s not as fluid as when she has both legs, she can still move at a decent clip. My course of action set, I step inside her room and close the door.

Setsuko’s room is… homey, is the best way I think to put it.

The bed’s been replaced with a futon, which strikes me as incredibly impractical for the senior, but to each their own. The shelf above the desk is cluttered with books, most of which look to be written by Kenji and his partner, Hisao Nakai. There’s also a small stack of DVD’s -mostly Yakuza or samurai action flicks.

Quickly looking away from those, the desk has several textbooks and notebooks laid out on it, so she was probably working on homework before I came calling. There’s classical music playing from an expensive-looking laptop next to the futon, but Setsuko crouches down to turn it off before grabbing some bottled water to fill her electric kettle.

A small square table is tucked against the left corner by the closet, near a small cabinet that apparently houses the tea stuff, as that’s where Setsuko grabbed the kettle from. On top of the cabinet is a small makeshift shrine. Displayed prominently at the shrine’s center is an old photo of an elderly gentleman favoring one leg, one hand cradling a young girl who looks like a very young Setsuko. The younger version of her is smiling and looking up at the older man, who is holding a very familiar looking cane in his other hand. Both the aforementioned cane and Setsuko’s prosthetic leg are leaning against the wall by the futon.

Feeling somewhat useless while Setsuko goes about prepping the tea, I glance to the small table and say, “I can move the table over if you’d like.”

“Much obliged, Sonny,” Setsuko replies, “By the way, I only got green tea –hope that’s okay.”

“It’s fine. Thank you for making it, and sorry for dropping in unannounced like this.”

Setsuko shrugs, “I reckoned you might swing by at some point, joinin’ the judo club and all.”

Well that bodes well for tonight.

I shuffle the table closer to the middle of the room, though a bit off to the side so it’s not too much in the way. I place the cookies on the table, and a bit later Setsuko places the kettle and a small tray with cups next to them. Naturally the cups are the old-fashioned kind without handles.

Before Setsuko sits down she heads back over to the cabinet and uses her free hand to drag a custom formed cushion across from me. Once it’s in place she carefully sits down, using the cushion to let her sit in a traditional style. Despite her casual apparel, she still manages a subconscious grace and poise as she sits.

“Sorry that took so long,” Setsuko says, “ah don’t like to leave the leg on all the time because of irritation, but it slows me down a bit when ah have people over.”

“It’s fine,” I assure her, a little surprised that I’m not the one apologizing for intruding on her, “Like I said, it’s my fault for dropping by unannounced.”

Setsuko waves a hand, “Don’t fret none about it.”

I refrain from arguing the point and decide to shut up. Silence is one of the things I’m good at. Setsuko doesn’t seem inclined to say anything further, and is instead looking intently at the kettle. I guess she’s waiting for the tea.

Insert witty remark about watched pots here.

My brain is weird sometimes. I know, this fact is a shocking revelation to you.

Anyway, the kettle eventually brings the water to a boil, and Setsuko makes a fuss over preparing the tea. I don’t ask, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she knew how to perform an old fashioned tea ceremony.

That kind of green tea is way too bitter. Hope this stuff isn’t.

Even if it is, Setsuko has thoughtfully provided a small box of sugar cubes.

When the tea is ready she places a cup in front of me before taking her own. She takes a small sip despite the faint wisps of steam, and lowers her cup. I carefully blow on my own tea a bit before taking a polite sip.

As a general rule I prefer caffeine-free herbal teas, although I’m not a big tea person in general. That said, I don’t mind other tea every now and then, and her tea is warm and flavorful. It is also a bit bitter for me, so I add a single cube and stir it in.

“So,” Setsuko finally speaks. Grabbing one of the cookies, she munches through half of it before asking, without swallowing, “Whaddya wanna know?”

Does everyone at this school have terrible dining manners?

I grab a cookie for myself and quickly eat it before answering, “Well, I get that there’s some competitive history between the archery, kendo, and judo clubs, and I was wondering what you could tell me about it, and if there’s anything I should worry about.”

Setsuko raises an eyebrow with the other half of the cookie between her lips, “Laike whaf?”

I wonder if the real you would have been made class rep.

Honestly, I prefer her this way. I hate it when people hide behind lies.

Another point in Kenji’s favor.

“I’m surprised the rumor mill didn’t churn something out,” I mutter, “the vengeful spirit seeking vengeance for supposed slurs would make a great story.”

Setsuko jerks her head back and swallows the half of a cookie, like a crocodile or large predatory bird. When she’s done swallowing she says, “You lost me, Sonny.”

I apologize and quickly relate today’s lunch encounter, though I refrain from mentioning any names- Takara did seem like a decent person, just ignorant, and I don’t want to be the source of any rumors.

Well, when it comes to causing them, at least; I can’t really help it if people make up shit –please pardon my language- about me.

“Basically I’m wondering if it’s going to be a recurring theme,” I conclude, “and if I should worry about escalation, like pranks or derogatory notes left in my stuff.”

“…You’ve put some thought into this, ah see,” she drawls.

I raise my eyebrow –Setsuko’s tact was admirable, if a bit annoying in this case, “It’s something of a recurring theme, considering my name and all.”

Maybe when I become a citizen I’ll switch it to something Japanese.

“On the bright side, if anyone says somethin’ you can beat ‘em up.”

I glare at the senior.
Last edited by Hoitash on Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Who are you, that do not know your history?" -Ulysses
Misha Time: United States of Misha Meet the Hakamichis
Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
I wrote a book! Brythain edited it! If you like mystery and history please consider: A Sister's Habit
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 8/28)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:09 pm

Part II:

“Although they probably wouldn’t take kindly to that,” Setsuko remarks, and my glare ends, “anyhow, I wouldn’t fret about that kinda thing. Any student who tried that’d get suspended from their club at the least. And yes, they’d do that if you were the target – a school for the disabled can’t play favorites when it comes to anti-discrimination policies, or their funding and credibility’d go in the crapper.”

Country folk have quite the way with words.

“Makes sense,” I concede, and sip my tea, “it just feels weird getting plopped in the middle of a cold war like this.”

“You’ll get the hang of it,” Setsuko assures me, “Politics are everywhere because people are everywhere.”

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde,” I recite.

Kenji recommended that author to me. Said it helped with perspective.

I think I see why now. Thanks, Kenji.

Setsuko blinks at me, “…Right… so,” she daintily sips her tea –there’s really no other way to describe it- and continues, “You wanted to know abou’ the cold war, as you called it?”

I nod.

Setsuko grabs another cookie, and, rather than eat it, uses it as a pontificating device while she speaks, “You’ve probably been told this already, but the athletic club’s funding is largely based on their performance in school competitions, right?”

I nod.

“Well, since the track club is the biggest athletic club, it gets a big chunk of that budget off the bat –so does the baseball club, pardon my pun- so the other clubs get kinda competitive about the leftovers. You probably also noticed that gap in awards the judo, archery, and kendo clubs had a decade ago?”

Nod. Cookie.

“Well,” Setsuko continues, “some words were said, mothers were insulted, a couple shinai were broken along with some bones and bows, and all three clubs were suspended from participating in competitions for five years as a lesson not to try and play out the Genpei War on school property. The full story’s in the student council archives if you wanna give it a read. It’s actually quite gripping, like an old fashioned Edo ronin story.”

“…I take it the kendo club was the Taira clan,” I quip.

Setsuko blinks once before grinning, “Heh, sounds right for them. Honestly they get a lot of flak for bein’ a bunch of airheaded jocks compensatin’ for their own problems, buh by an’ large they’se decent folk. Same with the archery club, but…”

I raise an eyebrow, “But?”

“Well,” Setsuko takes another sip to collect her thoughts, “if the kendo club is the Taira, the archery club is the Minamoto clan,” Setsuko states, “Big on political power, but their military might is spent –largely because their advisor declawed them to prevent another outbreak of idiocy.”

I gnaw on a cookie and tilt my head, “Because she’s married to Hiraga-Sensei?”

Setsuko nods, “Yep.”

“Okay,” I say, and sip my tea and eat a cookie to collect my thoughts, Setsuko patiently sipping her own, “So besides ignorance, what’s wrong with the archery club?”

Setsuko shrugs, “Nothin’ really. It’s jus’ leftover resentment from the debacle years ago. Back then, there were a lot of stuck-up rich girls in the club, and their reputation stuck. Although to be fair, the rich snobbish girls tend to flock to the club, and they can be a bit old-fashioned,” Setsuko glances down at her cup and smirks, “Not that ah have room to judge.”

“High schoolers aren’t known for long memories,” I counter, “Wouldn’t that kind of grudge end when everyone had graduated?”

Setsuko shrugs and tosses a cookie into her mouth, the one she was lecturing with still in her hand, “But when all the third years bitch and moan to the first years, and then the first years become third years and bitch and moan to their first years…”

I sigh, “A cycle of hate and ignorance. Fuck,” crap, my tongue got ahead of my brain again, “Sorry. Please pardon my language.”

Setsuko smirked and shrugs to show it’s not a problem, then says, “Basically you’re right, though. Jus’ like they say: ’It all goes back and back, to our mothers and fathers and theirs before them. We are puppets dancing on the strings of those who came before us, and one day our own children will take up our strings and dance in our steads’.”

I raise an eyebrow, impressed at the reference; Martin’s a bit too cynical for my liking, but I can see why Setsuko might be fond of him. Sighing, I take a sip of my tea to try and settle my mind.

Setsuko smirks and mirrors my actions, looking thoughtful. I probably do, too, as I remember Captain Inada complaining about the old kendo club captain. How Sawa seems to have latched onto Shibasaki. My own father; bitter, tired, and filled with the barely sane ramblings of his broken father. My mother; kind, hopeful, yet resigned. Kenji; pragmatic, cynical, but somehow still fighting for what was right, even if he was the only one who saw it as such.

Well this got dramatic quickly.

Setsuko sighs into her cup. She finally eats the cookie she’s been pontificating with and turns her head to glance out her window.

“Sorry,” Setsuko turns back to me and swallows the cookie, “ah got a little heavy on yuh there.”

I shrug, “It’s fine,” smirking lightly, I add, “Not like we can expect everyone to get along anyway, right?”

Setsuko nods, “’Peace is a myth created by those who cower in fear of the dark.’”

I blink at her. That was… much more cynical than I would expect from the senior. Yet somehow very fitting for both of us.

Maybe the real you would have become class rep after all.

Setsuko gives me a hollow smirk and sips her tea, looking thoughtful as she looks down at her nearly empty cup. After a moment’s pause, she looks back up at me, “G’eatyet?”

I blink, “Huh?”

“G’eat dinner yet?” she clarifies.

I shake my head as my stomach churns a bit from hunger. Cookies do not a dinner make.

Setsuko sighs again, “Me neither. Dang, ah don’t feel like puttin’ my leg on… screw it, I’ll order somethin’. You want some? My treat.”

Free food, free food, free- wait, this might not end well.

I raise a wary eyebrow, “What kind of food did you have in mind?”

Setsuko shrugs, “I’ll let you pick –ah ain’t sure my ownself what ah want right now.”

I look down at my tea, thinking. I could refuse her offer, but free food. Besides, now that I think about it, there was a decent pizza place in town –Kenji took me and his family there once.

“How about pizza?” I ask.

Setsuko grins, “Sure, I like the place in town enough. Let me look up their menu. Ah should text Maiko, too… or not –she’ll just wanna spend the night and gush about bein’ in the Director’s room again.”

That sounds like Maiko alright. Either way, at least the serious talk is over, and we can move on to the important matter of food.

When that I was and a little tiny boy /With hey, ho, the wind and the rain /A foolish thing was but a toy/ For the rain it raineth every day.

+++
Next Chapter

Now I want pizza… Ilya!

Huh… where’d she go? Damn, I hope Gil didn’t get to her again… where’s a hungry Matou when you need one…
Last edited by Hoitash on Fri Sep 04, 2015 10:32 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 8/28)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Aug 28, 2015 2:32 pm

The shelf above the desk is cluttered with books, most of which look to be written by Kenji and his partner, Hisao Nakai.
Won't she be delighted when she learns that he's "Uncle Kenji" to her...
No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe...
Yes, I know she's spent a lot of time in the hospital, but it still irks every time that she seems to have read every single english book out there while learning English (and all the other subjects she'd need to know before being able to go to school) not to mention physical therapy etc.
I consider myself well read, and I'd never even heard of John Donne before - I doubt even 5% of British High Schoolers have, not to mention Japanese...

Don't get me wrong, I love those references, but Son-Hee is perhaps the most unlikely character ever to make them, and it gnaws at suspension of disbelief.
Also none of the characters around her do so much as blink, when she quotes stuff they have to be utterly unfamiliar with... Okay, I admit in this case Setsuko DID blink, but it was the first time that ever happened :-)

In other news I find it quite hard to follow Setsuko's explanations when she talks like that, especially in combination with the many many names that are part of her story... But I'll endure :-)
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 8/28)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:33 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
The shelf above the desk is cluttered with books, most of which look to be written by Kenji and his partner, Hisao Nakai.
Won't she be delighted when she learns that he's "Uncle Kenji" to her...
Good thing signed books make excellent gifts :)
I consider myself well read, and I'd never even heard of John Donne before - I doubt even 5% of British High Schoolers have, not to mention Japanese...
My own cultural and academic perspectives may be coloring my judgement here. Kenji and Miya had a large impact on her taste in literature (remember that copy of Moby-Dick, of all things, Kenji gave her way back when?) So their influence played a large part in that.

In the end though you have a perfectly valid point; Soon-hee is really smart and I am really dumb. Call it a draw?
Also none of the characters around her do so much as blink, when she quotes stuff they have to be utterly unfamiliar with...
My memory is failing me, because I can't think of anyone she spoke around besides people who would either get the reference or understand that it is a reference and not care because Soon-hee is just weird like that. Sorry, my fault entirely.
In other news I find it quite hard to follow Setsuko's explanations when she talks like that...
Accents can be annoying like that.
But I'll endure :-)
Thank you :). I'd hate to lose my biggest Soon-hee fan (I'd say you're gonna like the Christmas Special, but considering what I have planned probably not so much.)

EDIT: Since getting my brain to stop thinking about writing requires oxygen deprivation (which I don't recommend, fyi) I decided to add a couple lines after the Dionne quote to help normalize things a bit. It's not perfect, but it should do the job with my usual ork-like efficiency :).
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 9/04)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Sep 04, 2015 10:32 am

Apparently I started writing a high school girl anime at some point.

I regret nothing. Although I seemed to have misplaced my loli apprentice….

Previous Chapter

Chapter Fifteen: Circling the Wagons


Thursday night didn’t go well for me. I had Those kind of nightmares. When they woke me up I spent about an hour quietly sobbing and begging for help before I remembered where I was- someplace safe and secure. It took some time for that thought to settle in and force out everything else, but when it did I was able to fall asleep in the safety of my closet.

Be thankful for small favors, I guess.

While that seems like a rough start to a day, between feeling confident enough in my routine to swim a few extra laps, and a decently large breakfast in the cafeteria –which is thankfully a lot quieter in the morning, and a lot more edible- I had more or less recovered by the time classes started. I was tired, of course, and Isobe was concerned, but considering I had only had one or two decent night’s sleep that week, I was used to it.

Part of the recovery process is being able to recover faster when shit hits the fan, after all –sorry, pardon my language.

Anyway, it’s currently a few seconds before the end of my last class before lunch, which is English today. The lunch bell barely finishes ringing before the energetic yet eternally tired-looking girl who I feel comfortable calling my friend plops herself in the now vacant seat in front of me.

Maiko smiles at me and asks, “Did you bring a boxed lunch again, or were you gonna go to the caf?”

“I brought mine today, but we can eat somewhere else if you prefer,” I reply.

“Here’s fine,” she states, “I brought mine today, too. Cooking helps clear my mind sometimes.”

I nod and pull out my lunch, while Maiko does the same. Whereas her meal is a more traditional boxed lunch, mine is leftover pizza and a small pile of cookies. Setsuko insisted I take the remaining pizza from last night with me, since I seemed to like it so much. As for the cookies, well, they’ll get stale soon, and I’m almost out anyway.

I better not mention them to Miya, or she’ll probably mail me more.

Not that that would be a bad thing, but I don’t want her doing any extra work for me if I can help it.

Maiko stares at my lunch, “Huh. Different.”

I shrug and point at the cookies, “Want some snickerdoodles?”

The weary looking girl grins, “Sure, thanks. Oh, I was wondering, what’ve you been reading lately?”

I open my mouth to answer her, but before I do I hear a vaguely familiar call from the doorway.

“Hey Kim!”

Not entirely sure I heard correctly, but still reasonably sure of who it is, I turn my head to face the door.

Yep, Shibasaki is leaning into the threshold, one hand wrapped around the doorway while her good eye has locked onto me.

“You goin’ to the cafeteria today?” she asks.

“I’m eating in today,” I reply, “Sorry.”

“Nah, you’re cool,” she glanced briefly to Maiko, then back to me, “Would you mind if I ate with you guys?”

I glance at Maiko, who merely shrugs. She probably has no idea who the other girl is, but she’s just friendly enough not to care. It’s rather endearing, really.

Be thankful for lucky housing arrangements, too.

“Sure,” I say to Shibasaki, “Good luck wading the crowd.”

Shibasaki grins, “Heh, never been a problem before! I’ll grab some drinks, too.”

And with that, she’s off.

Maiko looks at me with her head tilted, curious yet too polite to ask outright what the hell just happened.

“That’s Midori Shibasaki,” I explain, “She’s from class 2-2 and is the other second-year in the Judo Club.”

Maiko untilts her head and nods, “Gotcha. Oh yeah, the club started meeting recently, didn’t it? I’ve been so busy with my own club I forgot to ask how yours was going.”

I stop on the verge of taking a bite of my pizza, suppressing a mild sigh of longing as I respond, “Good so far. Although we have four first-years and only two seniors, and our Vice Captain is only a temp one,” I blink as I realize what I just said, “maybe ‘good’ is a tad optimistic.”

That’s not counting all the drama with the kendo and archery clubs, but one problem at a time.

“Every club has its ups and downs,” Maiko declares, scooping rice into her mouth as she states, “I know mine does. Plus, having a small club brings its own set of problems, just like having a big one does. Stupid morons wanting to read light novels…”

Before Maiko can work herself up for a rant that will almost certainly cover me in rice granules, Shibasaki reappears, which gives me time to eat the slice of pizza that’s been taunting me mere centimeters from my face for the last several moments.

My fellow club member sets her tray down on the spare space on the right side of my desk before groping for a chair to pivot in our direction. When she finally grabs one she shuffles it over and plops herself in, after which she grabs three cans of milk tea from her bag, setting one down in front of each of us.

“Thanks,” I say, “Shibasaki-do, er, Midori, this is Maiko Nagita. Maiko, this is Midori Shibasaki.”

“Nice to meet you,” Shibasaki says, grinning at Maiko.

“Same here,” Maiko replies, returning the grin as well.

I shift my pile of cookies toward Shibasaki, “Want some cookies?”

Shibasaki nods and takes a few from my pile. I guess it’s a good thing I’ve become so popular, or I’d have a bunch of stale cookies I’d have to eat.

Well, popular is the wrong word. Accepted is better, certain archery club member notwithstanding.

Muttering her thanks, Shibasaki snaps her chopsticks apart and starts shoveling food into her mouth.

“Sorry for barging in on you like this,” she says between bites, “I just knew Mizukami was gonna be fraternizing with the enemy again, so I decided to lay low for a while.”

Wouldn’t it be lie low?

“She’s not the enemy,” I say, “Well, not really. The real enemy is poorly planned budgeting.”

Maiko nods, “I hear that. And all these stupid first-years babbling about e-readers doesn’t help,” Maiko glowers as she grumbles half to herself, “Yes, I get it, you have one. I don’t care. We’re the book club, we’re going to use the dead tree version, you don’t like it, join the gaming club.”

Shibasaki nods idly as she eats, unaware of the bits of bread that have become stuck to the scarred portion of her face.

Don’t look, don’t look, don’t look. And don’t say anything, either. Ew, I have some on me, too.

“Sorry, I got some bread on you,” Maiko states, and hands a napkin to Shibasaki while I wipe my own face.

“Thanks,” Shibasaki says, instinctively wiping at the part of her face I am working very hard to avoid looking at.

To distract myself, I physically adjust my seat so that I’m angled a bit more to the left, trying to play it off as giving my elbow better purchase on the limited available real estate. That helps a little, but I also decide to latch onto what Maiko said.

“I get where you’re coming from about the e-readers,” I say, “I don’t like them either. But, if it gets them to read something literary, isn’t it for the better?”

Maiko gives a weary pout as she pops a cookie into her mouth, “I guess, but the mentality doesn’t help when it comes time to order books. Books are expensive and our budget is constantly being adjusted for membership which makes book selection a pain and it seems like every year someone from another club gripes that we get too much and we should just go paperless but part of the point of the club is appreciating the physical version of the book in the first place.”

Maiko groans, grabs her head with her hands, and sips at her drink, looking a little worse for wear. Her rants tend to wear her out, but at least she didn’t get any food on us this time.

Today must be my lucky day.

Shibasaki raises an eyebrow at the girl, “You okay?”

Maiko nods and gives a weary smile, “Yeah. Sorry about that- you spend enough time with a club and you end up hearing all their problems, even if you don’t have a position.”

“I hear that,” Shibasaki states, “it doesn’t help when everyone’s personal drama becomes part of the club, either.”

“Yeah,” Maiko sighs, “I hate it when people drag their baggage into the club.”

“Least your club members don’t break limbs when it happens.”

“Well, there was that one time…”

Shibasaki raises an eyebrow again, and Maiko explains the story apparently involving a large hardcover and a bad breakup. The two seem to be getting along rather well, but that’s not too surprising. They’re both outgoing and passionate by nature, just in different fields. It’s good to know that if we end up eating together again it won’t be a problem for them, though I have my own issues with it, unfortunately.

Nothing new on that front, though. Definitely need to talk with the Doc about that tomorrow.

Once Maiko finishes the story, we’re all too busy eating in earnest to talk much. Shibasaki eats quickly and gets up a bit before the warning bell.

Tray in hand, she gives a light bow to both of us, “Thanks for letting me eat with you. See you at the meeting, Kim.”

I nod, “You, too. Um, you can call me Soon-hee outside of meetings, Midori.”

Shibasaki grins and nods once, “Gotcha.”

“Nice to have met you,” Maiko adds.

Shibasaki nods again before heading off. Maiko and I finish eating and get ready for social studies, while I try and shake the feeling of guilt for adjusting my seat to avoid looking too directly at Shibasaki.

To enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself.

+++
Next Chapter

Practice won’t be awkward at all, I’m sure.

Also, since this story is set in 2024, I am aware Maiko’s stance on e-reader’s is incredibly archaic. I don’t care.

Also, next week's chapter will be posted a day early, because reasons.

Long live the Republic.
Last edited by Hoitash on Thu Sep 10, 2015 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Who are you, that do not know your history?" -Ulysses
Misha Time: United States of Misha Meet the Hakamichis
Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 9/10)

Post by Hoitash » Thu Sep 10, 2015 10:35 am

There you are Ilya, I was looking -wait, what did you do to Larry?

Oh sweet salmon rolls… grab that shotgun, we’ve got zombies! Wait, I gotta post the chapter!

Previous Chapter

Chapter Sixteen: The Thrill of the Fight


The dojo is a noisy place when you have eight people talking or practicing. I can focus on my own training and tune out the noise around me, so it’s not really a problem; it’s just part of the club atmosphere, I guess.

To backtrack a bit: after a quick speech from Captain Inada, he gathered the first years to examine their skillsets in order to better prepare for the competition in a few months. Since Shibasaki and I have a decent idea of what we’re doing, we get to practice free-form, a major component of judo and one of the reasons I took to it so quickly. Hiraga-Sensei is against the back wall, making sure none of us do anything stupid.

Mizukami-dono and the Captain spent yesterday gauging skillsets for the first years as well. Of course, two of them have no skills right now, so for them it’s more like getting taught the basics of form, breathing, and rolling before they get into anything more involved.

That lasts about half of the club meeting, before it looks like the two seniors decide for a change of tactics. I’m not surprised; the two fifth-rankers are pretty shaky, and need some more formal instruction before they can free form. As for the other two first-years… well, they’re starting from scratch, and only one of them has any idea of what technique they want to study, it seems.

Speaking of, out of the corner of my eye I see Mizukami-dono lead Sawa over to Shibasaki. The first-year expressed an interest in grappling, and Shibasaki is definitely our expert on the subject, and Sawa seems to have taken to the older girl as a mentor. Shibasaki may not seem like an ideal mentor or role model, but her skills and energy are definitely up to the task.

Plus she has that cool older sister vibe.

A few moments later, out of the corner of my other eye, I see Mizukami-dono herd Nogami, the skittish first-year without a rank, towards me. I pause practicing turning the imaginary kneecaps of the large bag hanging in front of me into broken shards and grab a towel and some water.

“Hey Kim,” Mizukami-dono says, his glasses and tablet somewhere in the office, “Nogami here expressed an interest in sacrifice techniques, and since the Captain and I are busy giving the other two some basic overviews, we were wondering if you could demonstrate for him?”

The skittish first-year is looking down at my feet, fidgeting slightly. He’s obviously still nervous about being in the club, and I can’t really blame him; just yesterday he barely avoided a seizure. The ordeal shook him up a bit, and I get the distinct feeling he’s been bullied about his condition in the past.

Probably explains why he’s here.

I smile and nod, “Sure, I’ll do my best. Nogami?”

The first year reluctantly looks up at me, “Yes, Sempai?”

It’s a bit weird being called that by someone already a centimeter taller than me.

“Why sacrifice?”

“Actually,” Mizukami-dono interjects, “He was interested in vital strikes, but the only one here allowed to demonstrate that is the Sensei, and the Captain feels he should learn something allowed in free-form practice first.”

I nod again, “Makes sense. He looks like a good thrower.”

Nogami blinks, “I do?”

I nod, “You’re lanky and quick; you just need the muscles and skills to use your opponent’s weight against them.”

Mizukami-dono nods in agreement, “Well said. I’ll leave him to you, then.”

I give a quick bow and Mizukami-dono heads back to the other two first-years, who are getting lectured by Captain Inada about something for some reason hopefully other than the Captain’s fondness for speeches.

Nogami looks at me, clearly wanting to ask something, but apparently too skittish to ask it. Fortunately, I have an idea what it is.

“You’re wondering why I chose sacrifice techniques?” I ask, “Well, why I know a few despite my main focus being standing techniques?”

Strictly speaking vital strikes and weapons training are my main foci, but again, those don’t win competitions, and in any case a standing technique is good for keeping sound footing in a fight.

Nogami gives a nervous nod.

“Pragmatism,” I reply, “Like Shibasaki-dono, I train for results, not form. I know how to throw with my legs because leg and thigh muscles are some of the easiest to build up for women. I know sacrifice techniques because I’m easy to overpower, I was formally trained in striking techniques to end a fight quickly, and I’m trained how to use a weapon because the bad guys don’t play fair.”

Nogami’s eyes go wide as I explain my reasoning. In a formal sense everything I said is lunacy; we have weight classes and rules for a reason, after all. I didn’t train for competitions. I trained to defend myself. I figure Nogami is as well, or at least the confidence such training fosters.

However, that doesn’t get us competition wins, so I need to actually get to explaining technique. Rear sacrifice is easy enough to explain, and as I do Nogami nods along. He’s at least done his research, it seems.

“So…” he says once I’ve finished my explanation, “going back to the pragmatism… you think this technique would be good for me so I can end a fight before the stress of it… well….”

I smile and nod, “Exactly. It doesn’t have the physical involvement of grappling, which is another bonus for you. There are several different rear techniques, but I only know a couple. I can demonstrate and explain the forms for you a bit, though it’s tricky without a partner.”

Nogami nods, “That’s fine,” he gives a quick bow, “Thank you very much, Sempai.”

Still weird being called that.

I give the kid a reassuring smile and get into a posture for one of the few sacrifice techniques I’m truly good at. Unfortunately, demonstrating moves involving two people is really hard to do without two people. I want Nogami to watch for now, so…

Wait a minute.

I look over to the back wall, where our stalwart advisor is still looking mildly bored.

“Sensei! Could I please have your help for a moment?”

Hiraga-Sensei looks over to me, nods once, and saunters over. I’ve never had a male partner before during practice, but I’ve been trained to deal with it, I’m worn out enough that I can’t really think about it, and in any case, he’s an ideal partner for my demonstration –the advisor is taller than me and weighs more than me –big surprise, I’m sure. If I can toss him around like a sack of rice, it should ably demonstrate my point to Nogami.

Or pull every muscle in my arms and legs if I fuck it up.

As soon as the Sensei has joined us he asks me, “Need a partner?”

I nod, “Yes, please. It’s difficult to demonstrate throwing techniques without someone to throw.”

Nogami looks at the two of us, his expression… concerned, I think is the best word. It’s not too surprising –Sensei is at least twenty centimeters taller than me, with extra weight to match. Honestly, I’m a little concerned myself –I’ve never practiced with someone of his size, so it might not work out how I’m hoping. I have to try, though, both for myself and my impromptu pupil.

After looking the two of us over for a minute, Hiraga-Sensei smirks and nods once, “Alright. Show me what you got, Kim-kun.”

I nod and set my stance.

There are a fair number of rear-sacrifice throwing techniques, but I’m only familiar with three of them, and can only do one reliably. It’s called the rice bale throw, and I know it because it helps you use your opponent’s momentum to throw them. Because of the angle required, though, it’s a bit situational in a practical setting. For results I prefer the rear throw, but I’m not as good at that.

Even so, I demonstrate the three forms as best I can, Hiraga-Sensei adjusting his body to help me along. I stress to Nogami I only really know the one technique well, but he’s pretty surprised anyway. It’s not every day you see a shrimp like me toss around someone as big as our club advisor, after all.

Eyes wide and jaw slightly slacked in awe, Nogami asks in a reluctant hush, “You really think I could do that?”

I nod and smile while working to slow my breathing. My smile widens a bit when I see Hiraga-Sensei smirk and nod in agreement.

“Given time and training, yes,” I reply, “Speaking of…,” I glance at the clock above us, “We have enough time left; I could show you the standing techniques, too. I’m more familiar with them because they’re a bit more practical in a group fight.”
Last edited by Hoitash on Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Who are you, that do not know your history?" -Ulysses
Misha Time: United States of Misha Meet the Hakamichis
Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
I wrote a book! Brythain edited it! If you like mystery and history please consider: A Sister's Habit
"You are absolutely insane. And entertaining." -griffon8

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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 9/10)

Post by Hoitash » Thu Sep 10, 2015 10:36 am

Part II:

Hiraga-Sensei raises an eyebrow at me.

Nogami glances up at the clock as well, before slowly nodding, “Sure,” another bow, “Thank you again, Sempai.”

“No problem,” I state.

I turn to our adviser, who nods and readies himself. I say I’m better with standing foot techniques than rear sacrifice, but it’s really that I’m just familiar with more of the techniques. I run through the ones I’m more familiar with for Nogami, with Hiraga-Sensei once again being the receiver. These techniques are a little more involved because I need to stay upright and keep my footing.

As for Nogami, either set would probably work for him, but before that he needs to practice and build some muscle, or the only thing he’s going to do is pull something. It took me months to get fit enough to properly train, and that was after I spent a month getting my body fixed into something resembling a proper human’s.

I nearly tore a muscle a few times, and he seems the type to push himself; he has something to prove, too, after all.

I’ll bring it up with the Captain after the meeting, which is almost over.

Look at you being all responsible and functioning in society. I should email Kenji.

Sarcasm aside, it has been a while since I had time to sit at a computer, and I could use the surfing time. Before that, though, I should email Kenji and Miya-san to let them know how my week has gone so far.

The Captain calls an end to the meeting, telling us it was a good meeting, hit the showers if so inclined, and then reminding us we can’t stick around because Hiraga-Sensei has to leave and it’s after school hours. Fortunately the library is still open for a while, and my homework can wait.

I want to head to the library as soon as possible now, so I reluctantly shower and change. Sawa and Shibasaki leave together, and Sensei is already gone when I get back into the gym.

Mizukami-dono and Captain Inada are still there, fortunately, both hunched around the Temporary Vice Captain’s tablet. I walk over to them and patiently wait for them to notice me.

The Captain’s eye briefly glances my way, and he looks up to talk to me properly, “Oh good, I wanted to talk to you, Kim,” he turns to the TVP, “Ataru, get those papers printed and filled out to go along with the digital copies, and then get in touch with Oono-san about Naniwa. I wanna be ready for Regional’s.”

Mizukami-dono nods and quickly adjusts his glasses, “What about Sapporo?”

“Sure. And see what she can dig up about Nagasaki –they’ll be almost as much trouble as Osaka.”

“On it, Cap,” Mizukami-dono places the tablet in his left hand, gives me a brief nod, and heads back into the storage room.

Oono… did he mean Setsuko?

Something on my expression must’ve worried the Captain, because he grins, “Don’t worry, I’m not planning sabotage. Just basic intel recon. Having someone like Oono-san for Class Rep can be real handy sometimes.”

I nod, “She makes a good hallmate, too.”

Captain Inada blinks at me, “Huh?”

“She lives across from me,” I explain, “I wanted to talk to you about Nogami. I’m worried he might try something stupid and hurt himself. Or induce a seizure he can’t prevent.”

Captain Inada frowns and nods, “Yeah, I thought the same thing myself. Can you do me a favor and keep an eye on him? We don’t have enough people for proper weight class matches, so odds are good you’ll be paired up eventually. Especially since we have an odd number of girls, and, well, you are at the bottom end of the classes.”

Women’s weight class, he means. Under 48 kilograms. I might qualify for the next one up if I went without swimming for a week and ate more Pocky sticks, but at least one of those is not happening.

I nod, “I was prepared for that, so I’ll make sure it’s not a problem.”

The Captain nods again, “Good. And I don’t want you straining yourself either –I’ve seen you kick, and you put a lot of force into it. I’m worried you might sprain something.”

That has happened before, actually, “I’ll be careful, Captain. It’s been a problem in the past, and not one I want to repeat.”

Not being able to train sucks. I mean, I like swimming, but martial arts training was what really made me stop feeling weak. I don’t want to feel weak again. It makes the nightmares worse, for one thing.

Captain Inada grins, “I’ll hold you to that,” the grin vanishes and I can’t help feeling a bit concerned as he continues, “Now, what I wanted to talk to you about –do you have a problem with Shibasaki?”

Shit.

I respond to his bluntly stated question with the equally blunt, “Why do you ask, Captain?”

“She said you seemed upset with her at lunch yesterday,” he explains, “I wouldn’t pry normally, but you are our only two second-years, so I wanted to make sure everything was fine.”

“Well,” I hesitate, struggling not to look down in embarrassment, “Um. I don’t have a problem with her personally. It’s just. Um.”

I’m worried she’s a PTSD trigger. It’s not her fault and I hoped it wouldn’t be a problem, but apparently I was wrong.

My stalling must have given the Captain time to connect the dots, because his eyes widen a bit and he mutters, “It’s related to your PTSD, isn’t it?”

I nod and stare at the floor, “Sorry.”

“I’m up here, Kim,” he states.

“Sorry,” I look up at the Captain. He looks concerned.

“Is there anything Shibasaki and I can do to help?” he asks.

An eyepatch and a fuckton of makeup might work.

“Acclimation is the best remedy,” I say, “in this case, at least. I do respectfully request that we not be placed in a match for some time, however, as I doubt I could handle that, and I’ll apologize to Shibasaki-dono tomorrow after classes.”

Captain Inada blinks, “I fail to see the need for that. As for a match, I understand. I was thinking of pairing you up with one of the fifth-kyu’s when they’re up for it. Neither one is near your weight class, but you should have a decent chance at flooring them, and I want them to know how much work they have ahead if they’re gonna compete.”

I nod. Like PE, I don’t get that body conscious when I’m training, and besides, my gi covers up everything, and when I train I’m too physically and mentally focused to think about anything else.

“I should be able to handle that.”

I’ll make sure I can handle it.

Captain Inada smirks lightly, “Good to hear. We don’t have a lot of time to train, and on top of that Ataru and I have to worry about entrance exams. Ugh,” he groans and looks up at the ceiling, “I really wish Midders would just become Vice Captain, but if you can’t eat it or grapple it she doesn’t care. Although….”

The Captain trails off and looks back down at me, a thoughtful expression on his face. After a few moments he shakes himself like a wet dog and smirks down at me, “Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say. If you feel any major discomfort or need to excuse yourself to calm down somewhere during training, don’t hesitate.”

I bow, “Thank you, Captain. For my part, I’ll make sure Nogami doesn’t hurt himself.”

The Captain nods, “Good –and yourself, for that matter. See you Monday.”

In theory the gym is open during the weekend for free practice. For various reasons that should not surprise anyone, our advisor must be present in the gym to supervise. Hiraga-Sensei, as was explained by the Captain before the end of the club meeting, has a young son and wife, and thus has better things to do than make sure we don’t, in his words, “Do something stupid that might get the school sued.”

This statement seemed aimed more at the two fifth-ranked students than anyone else, although Hiraga-Sensei had spared a glance at Shibasaki at the time. Either way, my weekend is pretty much free, barring the meeting with my therapist and tomorrow’s morning classes.

With our business concluded, Captain Inada heads into the storage room. Glancing at the clock on the wall to check the time, I head out of the gym towards the library, not bothering to put my shoes back on until I’m in front of the library doors.

And high above, depicted in a tower /Sat Conquest, robed in majesty and power /Under a sword that swung above his head /Sharp-edged and hanging by a subtle thread.

+++
Next Chapter

…It’s okay, it can’t hurt us anymore.

So, today we learned A) don’t let incredibly powerful homunculi have access to ancient necromantic tomes, and B) don’t teach loli’s how to do a puppy-dog pout.

Stupid Evils of the World screwing everything up….

Anyway, see you next week, presuming my insurance covers rampaging super zombies and I can set Larry to rights. I’m pretty sure he had a spleen before….
Last edited by Hoitash on Fri Sep 18, 2015 4:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 9/10)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:16 am

I pause practicing turning the large bag hanging in front of me’s imaginary kneecaps to broken shards and grab a towel and some water.
I think there's a word or two or five missing here.

Nice chapter as always.

I did a bit of Judo when I was a kid, but there seems to be a whole different set of terminology in English compared to the Japanese terms we used. I have no idea what "sacrifice" or "standing" techniques are supposed to be.
I'm pretty sure there are no kicks of any kind in Judo, though.
Compared to other martial arts it's also kinda limited use for self-defense, since a lot of techniques rely on the opponent adhering to the rules...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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