She had tomboyish blonde hair, and her ragged uniform was open enough for her collarbone to show. But even so, her breasts weren’t particularly exposed. A very low-key ribbon seemed to hold everything together. However, in contrast to her being so casually dressed, she felt extremely dangerous. Perhaps that was due to her sharp, eagle-like eyes. With a single glare from those eyes, I felt like I was withering away. Or maybe I was just scared of her…
She looked at both Renge and Asagao, and smiled… She looked surprisingly friendly. The contrast between her sharp eyes and her friendly smile also had a certain allure to it. Finally she said, “My bad for taking so long.”
“Seriously…” grumbled Asagao.
“My previous meeting took longer than expected,” replied Natsume as she waved away Asagao’s complaints. “Sorry.”
Her arms were small and feminine, and they did not seem like the type that belonged to those at the top of the military. But, those arms were certainly not frail and delicate. They were lively, flexible, and powerful. In fact, the same could be said for her, Natsume Megu, as well. Her sleeves were rolled up past her elbows, and she was wearing a short skirt. The curves on her exposed arms and legs were just perfect as they looked really elegant. She wasn’t wearing any socks, so I could see the naked beauty of her legs all the way down to her ankles.
As I was still mesmerized by her legs, she plopped down on a sofa in front of us. Don’t open your legs like that… Don’t… Okay I saw that… I immediately looked away and purposely gazed at the door. There were more people that were coming into the room; perhaps they were her aides. They did seem like they were escorting and assisting her. Or perhaps they were just following her.
One particular girl was tanned and had dark blonde hair. She had large and black eyes, possibly due to her eye makeup or false eyelashes. I didn’t know her name, but I had definitely seen her before. If I remember correctly, she was an upperclassman… Was her name Kuroki? No, that doesn’t sound right. Was it Kuroba? Well, it didn’t matter too much. I’ll just call her black-eyes. Black-eyes sat down next to Natsume on the couch and started to comb her hair.
Behind black-eyes, another girl appeared. She looked extremely tired and irritated, and she kept sighing as she walked in. She had brownish red hair that looked a bit fluffy. Her very distinct eyes looked sleepy, and her beloved guns, glimmering vibrantly under the light, were strapped underneath her skirt. She was beautiful with her drowsy face and her small frame. Well, maybe beautiful wasn’t the right word… She was more on the cute side, I think. But that’s just me being objective.
After all, this girl, Chigusa Asuha, was my younger sister. She was younger than me by just one year. Without even looking at me, actually without even noticing me, Asuha leaned against a nearby wall and took out her phone. She fidgeted with it a little bit, yawned, and then turned towards me.
She blinked her surprised eyes a few times and exhaled. “Sup,” she muttered.
I greeted her back. “Yo, Asuha.”
“Hey,” she replied. With that, she turned back to her phone.
So cold… Was she in her rebellious phase? Please no, I can’t have that happening. At this rate she might become a punk too! Was she influenced by her friends? Punks seem to be everywhere in this town, especially in the military branch. Speaking of which, her skirt seemed to be shorter than before, and her ribbon seemed to be looser as well! Well, her breasts weren’t that big, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Though, she’s only in middle school… Next term she’ll be in middle school! She definitely has room to grow, then… I’m worried… That being said, I need to communicate better as her older brother before we start to drift apart!
Renge called out to her before I had a chance to speak again. “Asuha! It’s been a while!”
“Huh?” said Asuha as she looked up, puzzled. She looked at Renge dubiously as Renge waved her hand towards her. “Hm? Huh… Ah, A-Ah… Yo,” she finally ended up saying with a quizzical expression. She immediately looked back down on her phone.
Renge laughed nervously in response. “Ah, hey… Umm… Asuha, do you remember me?”
You know what? I’m sorry for this, Renge… My sister is a bit, you know… Well, I’m sure she remembers you, so don’t worry.
Natsume, still sitting in front of us, had the same quizzical expression on her face. She looked at Asuha, sighed, and turned back to Renge. “Renge, it’s been a while. How’s it going?” she asked.
“You remember me!” exclaimed Renge with a sparkle in her eyes. She was so happy that if she had a tail, she would be joyfully wagging it. Meanwhile, Asuha looked back up.
“Ah, yes, Renge!” shouted Asuha. As I thought, she did remember.
“I was always in the lower ranks… so I’m happy you remembered me as well!” continued Renge. She was so happy she could cry.
“Of course. There’s no way I’d forget,” replied Natsume with a bitter smile.
Well, Renge was cute, so it was easy to remember her. But still, it was surprising for Natsume to have remembered her name. Natsume was the city subhead and Renge was just a low ranker, after all. I’m sure she didn’t meet with any of us that many times in the past. In fact, other than the time when she told us we were transferring out, we probably didn’t even talk to her directly at all. I stared at Natsume, impressed that she was that attentive to other people. Still, I’m sure she didn’t remember—
“… You too, Kasumi,” said Natsume, interrupting my thoughts. She smiled at me.
“Ah, Thanks… Thanks for taking care of my sister, too,” I said. Wow, I really didn’t think she would remember me. I mean, it could have been because my sister was always next to her.
“Oh, right! Asuha is your sister, isn’t she?” asked Natsume, surprised. “I always call her by her first name so I forgot about it.”
“Woah, so she’s your sister?” interrupted Asagao. “Speaking of which, I have heard of her full name, Chigusa Asuha, before… But she doesn’t even look like you.” She was sure blunt about her observations.
Asuha glared back at her. She looked really annoyed for some reason… Well, she didn’t like other people talking about her so casually, especially people she didn’t know…
“I guess so. There are times when they are quite similar, though. I’m really glad she’s with me,” said Natsume as she scooted forward. “Since Asuha is awesome, so awesome. Super strong. I’m always saying that she’ll be my next commander. Don’t you think so too, Asuha?”
“Thanks…” murmured Asuha. She looked back at Natsume and did some sort of a mix between nodding and bowing.
But as she did, black-eyes clicked her tongue in disapproval. “Asuha… You heard her question, right?” she asked, glaring at Asuha. “Why ya ignorin’ her? You actin’ all high n’ mighty just cuz she said you could do it a little?”
“Huh?” said an annoyed Asuha. She seemed like she had no idea what black-eyes was talking about. But, perhaps having just realized that she was talking to an upperclassman, she reluctantly responded, “Nah, not really. I’m not really ignoring her. I just don’t really care about such things.”
“Hah?” Black-eyes glared even harder at Asuha.
Asuha, still irritated, sighed and looked off to the side. With that, black-eyes got so angry she couldn’t even speak. Her veins even started to show on her face.
“Stop! Asuha, stop! Please get along with everyone! Be as close to everyone as you are to me!” I thought in a panic.
Things tensed up, but Natsume just laughed loudly. “Asuha has some spirit, haha. Its fine, I don’t really mind. She’s got some good guts, eh?”
“But, Natsume!” pleaded Black-eyes. She was still clearly dissatisfied.
Natsume patted her on the shoulder. “Its fine, it’s fine,” she said as she tried to calm black-eyes down. “Now then, Asagao, what do you need?”
It seemed things were finally moving forward.
“I came here to get this signed by you,” said Asagao as she looked at Natsume. She took out her tablet, and Natsume leaned forward so she could take it. As she did, her skirt rubbed against the leather couch a bit and I glanced at her even more exposed thigh. It was pretty eye catching…
Natsume turned her attention to the tablet screen. She took a look and sighed. “Ah, this, it would have been fine if you just did it back at your place, though…” she then said. She scratched her cheek, annoyed.
In response, Asagao furrowed her eyebrows and was not fond of Natsume’s attitude. “That was not possible. I had to talk to you about this very thing!” she shouted as she jumped up from her seat. “Me! Coming here! Just for you!” She smacked the table in front, and her forehead glistened under the room light. She continued on.
“Can you please stop recklessly throwing transfers at me? I’m not a trash can, you know!”
“So we really are trash…”
“It’s tough not being able to deny that…”
“No, I didn’t mean it that way!” corrected Asagao. She was always honest and upfront about her own mistakes. “I’m saying we aren’t below the military branch!”
Asagao’s honesty with her own mistakes was just one of her good virtues. Even against the city’s subhead, the top of the military branch, she would not back down at all. She always said what she needed to say.
“If you took them in, then take responsibility for them until the very end,” she yelled, lecturing Natsume. She got emotional and gave Natsume a threatening look. “There’s a cost to training these transfers, you know? Until they are trained to an appropriate level, they only take up our resources and make us suffer losses. On top of that, not just our branch, but it seems like you send transfers to other branches as well! What’s the meaning of this?”
In my opinion, she did lay out her points pretty well. She continued to press for answers.
Natsume was a bit overwhelmed. “I have also given it some thought…” she said softly as a single drip of sweat rolled down her forehead.
“You did? You sure?” snapped Asagao. Her look was intense, her words were sharp, and her forehead was glistening.
“I… Well, I really want…” She paused for a bit. “I think it’s best for everyone to be able to do all sorts of things…”
Asagao was having none of it. She went down hard on Natsume’s incoherent explanation. “You just thought of that, didn’t you! You big fool!” she shouted.
Upon hearing her, black-eyes suddenly opened her eyes wide open. “Fool… Hah? Who do ya think you are!??!?” she said, shouting back. She too popped out of her seat and tensed up at Asagao. Without even so much a flinch, Asagao glared back at her.
The atmosphere was the tensest I’ve felt in a while. Even Asuha, who was still just nonchalantly leaning up against the wall, glanced at them alarmingly. Scary… Scary… I drew back my shoulders in fear and bumped shoulders with Renge. I felt her shoulders trembling a little bit, so I wondered if she would be okay, since she would no doubt be frightened at such a scene. I looked at her and saw that her shoulders were certainly trembling, but they were trembling because she was giggling too hard…
“You big fool…” said Renge, unable to contain her laughter. “Asagao, you sound like a mother…”
“No I don’t!” shouted Asagao as she stared back at Renge. However, upon seeing her smile, Asagao seemed to loosen up. She looked exhausted, but a faint smile appeared on her face.
Renge’s smile also seemed to positively affect black-eyes and Natsume. Asuha looked back down and continued to play with her phone. Black-eyes went hmmph, pulled out her make-up kit from her uniform pocket, and fixed her makeup. It seemed we were back on track.
Natsume looked at her and smiled. “Well, we can always talk more about this later….” she said as she handed the tablet back to Asagao. “For now, you got something for me to sign?”
Asagao stared at her. “Yeah… But, please think more carefully about your transfers from now on.”
“I got it, I got it,” assured Natsume. She reached out to sign. “I’ll be more responsible.”
With this, our business today was done. The meeting went okay and we got Natsume’s signature. I can finally go home… Ah, but I got more work to do after, huh. I sighed deeply… I was so ready to go home too…
But suddenly, a piercing sound rang throughout the room. In fact, I’m pretty sure it rang throughout the entire Kisarazu base.
The sirens rang sharply in our ears: This is an emergency alert: <Unknowns> have been detected off Tokyo Bay. Please prepare to mobilize. I repeat. Please prepare to mobilize.
In response, with the announcement still repeating in the background, heavy footsteps moved throughout the building. The door to our room was slammed open. Punks stood in the doorway. “Boss!” they shouted.
“I got it. Let’s go,” responded Natsume in a firm, but calm voice. She stood up, and her demeanor instantly changed. In fact, she was like a completely different person now, much different than the friendly person she was before. She had on an expression that was ready for battle. Similarly, black-eyes put away her make-up kit, and Asuha reached into her holsters. They sure move fast…
Asagao reached out with her hand. “Ah, wait… The signature…”
“Sorry, Asagao. I’ll do it later. Forgive me…” responded Natsume with a sad look on her face. She rushed out the room. Black-eyes, Asuha, and the punks soon followed her out.
Asagao, Renge, and I were the only ones left in the room. Something tugged on my sleeve— it was Renge. This time she was truly nervous.
“Kasumi… W-What should we do?”
“Shouldn’t we just head back?”
“But aren’t they going into battle?”
“Yeah, but it’s times like these when we should just follow the orders of our superiors.”
“When you say superiors… Do you mean Urushibara?”
“That person is just an upperclassman, not the person in charge.”
“Oh… I always felt that he was in charge…”
“It’s because he always acts high and mighty. In terms of actual ranking, he’s pretty much the same level as us, just an ordinary employee…
Renge and Asagao both laughed, but Renge laughed nervously while Asagao laughed discretely.
“Sad, so sad, Urushibara…” I thought.
Renge glanced at Asagao. “Well then, it must be Asagao, then.”
Asagao sighed. “In the end, I’m just a member of the manufacturing branch,” she said as she put her hands on her hips. “During times of battle, I don’t have the authority to give orders. So I can’t really tell you what to do.”
“Then… Umm… Umm…” said Renge nervously.
I interrupted her. “Natsume it is, then.”
“Ah, right. Then I’ll go and ask!” she said as she rushed out of the room.
“Ah wait… but I don’t think there’s much we can do…” I said, trying to call out to her. It was too late— she was already too far out in the hallway. I looked at Asagao to see if she had any good ideas on what to do.
She shrugged. “Well, we have no choice but to follow her, right?”
“Yeah, I guess so…” I said, sighing. We reluctantly chased after her.
Fights near the Tokyo Bay often ended up near the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line. Anytime that happened, the train with the revolving turret was deployed. That train was not only just for moving troops to the front lines, but also an effective tool for countering the <Unknowns>.
We reached the train hangar just in time as Natsume, black-eyes, and Asuha were just about to go on the train. There was the usual nervousness among the troops, but a few looked completely ready to fight. Renge, now out of breath, went through the crowd and tried to reach them, so we had no choice but to follow her. This girl sure has initiative…
“Um… Natsume! What should we do?” shouted Renge. “We thought it’d be best to ask you!”
Natsume darted her eyes to her upon hearing her. Asuha sighed, and black-eyes grumbled annoyingly off to the side.
But Natsume took one look at Renge and gave her a big smile. “Umm… You came here just to ask that? Hmm…” she contemplated. She turned silent and looked a bit troubled. She glanced quickly at both Asagao and me, and her look said it all. Renge and I were not part of the military branch anymore, so she had no intention of taking us to the battlefield.
Renge sensed this as well. “Ah, I’m so sorry…” she apologized, depressed. “I knew we’d just hold you back, but I just wanted to check just in case…”
Seeing this, Natsume walked up to her. She then lightly patted her on the head and rustled her hair. “That’s not true!” she said reassuring. “We’re all friends and family here. That’s why we rely on each other… Renge and Kasumi, is it okay if I borrow your help then?”
Renge was moved to tears by Natsume’s comforting words. “S-Sure….” she muttered.
“This girl is really inspiring… I’m getting pumped up just by hearing those words…” I thought to myself.
But black-eyes rubbed her hair, clearly still irritated. Asuha looked annoyed as well and looked away quickly. The two didn’t seem to be of the encouraging type.
“Well then, Renge, Kasumi,” said Natsume as she patted Renge’s head one more time and climbed on the train. “I’ll leave it to you.”
“Also, Asuha,” she added before going inside. “Take care of these three, okay?”
Asuha, still outside, sighed and continued to look elsewhere. “Hah… I thought you’d say that.”
Natsume smiled bitterly. “I’d feel much more relieved if you were with them,” she said. “Take care of them, okay?”
“…Okay…” replied Asuha apathetically. Natsume and black-eyes then disappeared into the train. We started to follow them into the train, but Asuha poked me repeatedly on the shoulder.
“Not here. We’re in the rear, I think,” she said.
“Oh, right…” I muttered.
And just like that, after half a year, we returned back to the battlefield. Strong winds, thunderous roars, and gunpowder smoke. We were jumping straight into the battlefield that had it all.