The heat felt unbearable as I shuffled along the sidewalk. My body was bruised and beaten and every step pained me as my worn soles struck the concrete. None of that mattered now. By this time tomorrow I'd be on a beach half way around the world, leisurely sipping a tall, stiff drink and surrounded by beautiful girls with exotic hair colors like green and pink. I glanced down at my phone to make sure the money had been successfully wired to my account.
"Current Balance: ¥0"
I abruptly stopped on the sidewalk, a nervous tension welling in my stomach. A hundred possible scenarios swirled in my head but none with enough clarity to stick. Something was very wrong. I slowly lifted my gaze above my phone and toward the horizon line; three men in black suits approaching, their image blurred by the heat.
"Are you the man they call Jel X?" a disturbingly calm voice called out to me. The man's dark sunglasses masked his intentions, but I assumed the worst. I remained silent.
"We have a few questions for you, I'd advise that you cooperate."
I had fought so hard to reach this point, my body and mind were exhausted. I did not know how to reply and did not offer one. Moments later, I was unconscious.
I was awoken by an intense heat, this time artificial, mixed with the salty taste of blood. Beyond the light bearing down on me, I saw nothing else in the room besides darkness and a simple folding table. Just as my eyes regained their focus, I heard the click of an opening door followed by footsteps toward me. The same man in black approached and sat opposite myself at the table.
"That was quite a stunt you pulled the other day, a lot of good field agents we have to replace," the man spoke as he settled into his chair, again with an unnatural lack of emotion.
"They told me it was my last mission, they left me with no choice!" I spat back bitterly.
"Last mission? Well I suppose it would have been, had you succeeded."
"I did everything they asked me to! I even bought K-ON!
on Blu-ray!" As I grew more anxious I noticed my hands and feet were bound. Escape was impossible, at least for now.
Unamused by my defiant attitude, the man finally removed his sunglasses. "Let me make something clear, if you don't cooperate, then that really was
your last mission."
"Go ahead and do it. I have no regrets."
The corner of the man's mouth raised until it almost reached a smirk. From his jacket pocket he produced a series of photographs that he casually flipped on the table.
"What about them?"
The photos were of several different poseable figurines. One appeared to be a robot with a white body and blonde hair, another was a girl in a plain brown school uniform with lighting shooting from her hands. The third, a girl in silver and blue armor, sent me over the edge.
"YOU WOULDN'T DARE!!" Although I was tied to my chair I managed to lean forward. The man simply stared back at me, motionless. His expression was unchanged.
A feeling of defeat washed over me. I had no cards left in my hand to play. The chair legs scraped the bare floor as I fell back into it. A few moments of silence passed before I finally spoke again.
".....what's the job?" the words coming out of my mouth less a question and more a resignation. Immediately two men appeared from the darkness behind me and untied my bindings. I offered no resistance; playing along for now seemed like the wisest course of action.
My setting became more familiar as I was escorted down the concrete slab hallway and into a large control room. Wasting no time, the man in black directed my attention towards the wall of monitors and began his explanation.
"Your first target should be familiar, you've seen it before." The monitor changed, displaying a row of 3 girls. Well, at least they all looked
Ha! I was going to watch that anyway! You're going to have to do better than that!"
The man in black continued unfazed. "Your next target will be Dantalian no Shoka
." As he spoke, the monitor flashed an image of a very young looking girl holding a giant book.
"I love Gainax AND Miyuki Sawashiro, try harder."
The man centered his glare on me before he spoke again. "It's an adaptation, not an original."
I hesitated for a moment. Images from the final episodes of Hanamaru Kindergarten
flashed through my mind. Still, an anime set in early 20th century Great Britain could be interesting, so there was hope. I answered with only a wry smile.
The man in black began pacing away from me, his unfocused gaze upward a symbol of his condescension. "You certainly seem pleased with yourself." The monitor flashed again to show an army of girls singing and dancing. "Well we've saved the best for last. Your final target will be," as he quickly turned and pointed toward the screens, "THE IDOLM@STER!!"
I swallowed hard as my confidence wavered. I didn't know too much about The Idolm@ster
, only that it was a game involving girls singing and dancing and it was tied to some of the creepiest otaku stories I'd ever heard. Visibly shaken, I tried to maintain my defiance.
"I-is that all you got?"
"Hmph. We'll see how you feel come September. The Professor has the rest of your assignment." With those words I found myself again being escorted, this time to the lab.
It's hard to forget the Professor. To anyone else she would appear to be a cute, innocent 8-year old girl with bright orange hair, but I knew beneath that oversize lab coat beat the heart of a cold-blooded psychopath. The sound of her surprisingly adorable laugh mixed with the screams of her experiment subjects will haunt me for the rest of my days.
"Here, take this!" the Professor smiled cheerfully as she handed me a thin, black box bearing an embossed "PS3", "you'll need it to finish your job."
"Wait, shouldn't you be in school or something?"
Before I could get an answer, I heard a voice crackle through the intercom. "It seems you've accumulated quite the backlog over the past few years," the man in black sneered.
"I want you to play this one," the Professor playfully shouted as she handed me a case marked Valkyria Chronicles
, "and then this one! Gotta play 3 before 4, right?" She tossed me another case marked Disgaea 3.
"But I didn't even like Disgaea 2
The Professor immediately stopped rummaging through the pile of cases and after a brief pause, turned and looked up at me. Her eyes had grown wide and were filling with tears.
"...it was too much like the first one," I continued, "and, you know, it just..."
The Professor began sobbing like, well... a little girl. I don't know what I was expecting. The two large men who had been escorting me immediately grabbed my arms.
"BRING HIM TO THE ROOM!!" the man in black's voice boomed through the overhead speakers. I quickly found myself forcibly strapped into a large chair, faced with some kind of joystick and a monitor.
"We tried to compromise, tried to give you a chance to redeem yourself, but clearly you do not appreciate our generosity," any shred of humanity in the man's voice now completely lost, "Your new assignment: complete every Touhou
"You can't be serious!! EVERY
"That's impossible!! No one would even survive..." my words were interrupted by something I saw through the observation window. The Professor, gleefully detaching the arm of my Aigis figma and replacing it with a log cake.
"FINE!!" I exclaimed and grabbed the joystick.
And that's more or less how my summer began. I also may have written this after watching a couple action movies and a few episodes of Nichijou
. That Professor sure is evil when you think about it. My ridiculous allegory and barely relevant pictures aside, I'm not going to be able to take much of a vacation this year. Fortunately I'm not the type of guy who gets bored so I'll be into my myriad of hobbies including anime, gaming and writing cblogs for Japanator. I mentioned some of the things I'll be checking out, but if anybody has any suggestions on what to watch or play, please suggest away! read