Time quickly flew by as we all progressed with the plan. I myself finished up the invitee list while continuing my usual work routine. Asagao worked hard to push out the new product line, and Renge tried to spread the word to her many friends.
Urushibara worked at the actual site located in Kisarazu. Every day I would see him wear a thin towel around his head, no-rim glasses, and baggy pants as he headed towards the construction site. He happily went there with a coffee and a snack, and when he was done, he would head directly back to our office. His pants would always be dirtied with paint or cement when he got back, and with each day, he seemed to belong more and more with the engineering branch instead of with us. I guess Urushibara did seem to fit in wherever he went— the military, manufacturing, and now even the engineering branch. Perhaps that was his <World>… I wouldn’t doubt it.
However, as the day of the event drew near, that changed as Urushibara started coming to work in his uniform. Ah, now that was the Urushibara I knew.
“Asagao,” he said one morning. “It is finished!”
Asagao patted her chest a few times as she breathed out. “So looks like we’ve made it in time, huh? Good work, Urushibara!”
“Thanks!” He bowed deeply. His eyes seemed to sparkle a bit, but that was probably due to the reflection on his glasses.
“Kasumi, Renge. Get ready,” said Asagao as she put on her jacket. She walked out of the office, and we quickly followed her out.
We all squeezed into the company car once again and drove back to Kisarazu. Of course, this was the same place as the meeting we had with the military a while ago, but unlike last time, there was one more building on site. As we drove closer to it, Renge and Asagao just stared at it in awe.
It was Ryuuguujyou, as we named it. It looked a bit like an imperial palace since it stood so dignified out in the open, with plenty of palm trees packed in the spaces around it. The most eye-catching thing, however, was the huge poolside in it. It faced Tokyo bay, and the view was so good that even Mt. Fuji was visible. In the pool itself, the water sparkled under the sun, and the whole scene looked like something straight out of a dream.
Urushibara finally parked the car, and we all headed toward the site. The water fountains seemed to dance in the light as if they were welcoming us.
“So, what’d you think, Chigusa?” said Urushibara triumphantly after giving us some time to look around. “Pretty similar to the renders, right?”
I didn’t reply as we both walked onto the poolside. As we did, I could see some people putting the finishing touches around the area. They were fixing the lighting, water pressure, and other things like that, so I’d imagine that they were probably people from the engineering branch. The whole thing really was just like what I had imagined, though. Honestly, I was a bit surprised— I really didn’t think the facility would be this well made.
On top of that, there were food stalls lined up on the poolside. Actually, they weren’t only selling food. There were swimming suits, flotation devices, and even kickboards for sale.
“So the trade branch even set up some shops, huh…” I whispered to myself.
Asagao heard me. “A lot of people are coming, so it’s a great business opportunity,” she blurted out as she gazed around the Ryuuguujyou Fruit Spa some more. “But wow… with this, the plan’s definitely possible!”
“We did it!” shouted Renge, happily skipping around the entire area. “We did it, Asagao!”
Urushibara was ecstatic as well. “Am I awesome or what?” he said with a hearty laugh.
With their voices, Tokyo Bay seemed to get a lot noisier. Well, it’s only expected… To be honest, I was a little proud of it myself. In fact, I felt like I even made the Chigusa family proud since I was the one who thought of this.
With this built, the Ryuuguujyou Fruit Spa became the largest resort in South Kanto. More importantly, we could move onto the final phase of the plan.
The blue sky seemed to be the perfect backdrop for the surroundings, and the equally blue ocean water lay still. Though even with all that, the wind felt hot… scorching hot. The gentle ocean breeze mixed with the sweet aroma of the fruits and produced a unique scent in the air. On the poolside, boys and girls were busy chattering. Their voices seemed to breathe life into the whole facility.
Soon, the fireworks lit up, and those chatters quickly turned into cheers. The spotlights focused on the stage, and a person’s shadow slowly appeared. It was, of course, none other than the head of our branch, Tsurube Asagao. She walked majestically up to the microphone, almost as if she was royalty.
“Today is when we unveil our new lineup!” she shouted. “Thanks for being here to witness the unveiling of Chiba’s fruit collection! We only have a little bit of time here, but please enjoy the sea and fruits to your heart’s content!”
She bowed, and the spotlight beamed brightly off her forehead. In response, the crowd went wild! Their cheers and whistles echoed far off into the distance. At her signal, we brought up the fruits on stage. There were so many different types— carambolas, pitayas, passion fruits, bananas, pineapples, kiwis, papayas, and mangos were all unveiled to the crowd.
The crowd, cramped around the numerous beach chairs and parasols set up around the poolside, all stared in anticipation. The unique tropical smell would have enticed anyone, especially those who had never smelled such a flavor before.
I took a look at the crowd and quickly returned back to the staff area. From what I could see, the reception was great. The resort turned out to be a nice contrast to the gloomy and depressing world outside, and many within it enjoyed seeing the new fruits. They certainly looked like they were having a blast, and we seemed to be successful in showing them what the manufacturing branch was capable of.
Asagao got off the stage as well. She met up with me and Renge, and led us to the cordoned-off space within the poolside. This area definitely looked like the VIP area, so this was probably where most of the negotiations would be held. In this space, the heads of the engineering, trade, and supply branch were gathered under a parasol. Other representatives from all the non-military branches were present as well.
Asagao walked under the parasol and smiled at the group. “What’d you think? You guys enjoying yourselves?” she asked happily.
“Yes, of course!” cheerfully replied one of the leaders.
Asagao quickly breathed a sigh of relief and sat down among them, beginning some small talk. She was humble to their compliments, and after a while, she started to move into the serious talks.
“I’m sure you’ve already heard from Renge,” she said. “So, what’d you think about it?”
The leaders quickly turned silent and their faces turned blue. They mumbled some incomprehensible gibberish that I couldn’t seem to understand. What a change in attitude, though… Even though they were so talkative earlier, they now had trouble speaking.
Well, their reactions were expected, I guess. It didn’t take a genius to know that Asagao was referring to her candidacy for the election. This was the important part, after all. The product launch was only secondary to the lobbying she had to do to get their support. Luckily, Renge was able to get in contact with the engineering and trade branch, and I’m sure she had already talked to them about this. Asagao just needed them to confirm that they were on board.
“Your cooperation is essential for me to change the status quo of this city. I need help to completely change how points are distributed in this city, so we can give more points to the manufacturing, trade, supply and other branches… essentially us.”
“Hmm… That seems to be some wishful thinking…” said one of the leaders. “To change this long-lasting tradition… I really do need more time to think about this.”
Asagao just smiled. This was probably how the conversation went every time she tried to lobby, so she was probably used to smiling like this.
“Absolutely, it’s just as you say! I look forward to your responses,” she said. She turned to me. “Kasumi. Please, the wagon…”
As she said that, I glanced at the tea wagon parked off to the side. There was a silver platter on it covering some trays… What could be under those platters? In any case, I quickly pushed the wagon toward her and put the trays on the table.
Asagao smiled. “The formalities end here! If you would like, I got some good stuff you might want to try…”
Asagao nodded at me, and I uncovered the platters at once. The first thing I noticed was the many apples placed on the edges of the tray. On a closer look, there was also an unlabeled glass bottle with champagne glasses in the middle.
“Renge, please pour them a cup.”
“S-Sure…” replied Renge. Her reply was unusually downbeat, but she poured the glasses one by one. As she did, the glasses started to foam up.
Was this it, then? Was this the “weapon” Asagao was referring to earlier? It certainly seemed like it as I quietly stared on.
“With the new fruits I showed earlier and a little twist,” said Asagao, smiling, as she urged them on. “I have created these unique drinks. Please, have a taste.”
The leaders curiously reached for a glass. The foam seemed to give off a cool and refreshing vibe accompanied by a sweet, very sweet fragrance. On top of that, there was something else added into the mix… It was the smell of alcohol.
The leaders took a sip, and instantly they shouted in surprise. “T-This… This is!”
“Shh!!!” hushed Asagao as she raised a finger up to her mouth. She gave a sly wink. “This product, and my candidacy… they’re secrets, okay?”
“Ahahaha,” laughed one of the members after finishing up the cup. “Got it, got it.”
“Up for some more?” asked Asagao, giving a signal to Renge. In response, Renge brought out the bottle and motioned it to them.
“Of course, thanks!” they said in unison and waved their glasses around. Their faces started to turn red, and their attitudes once again did a 180 as they giggled uncontrollably like little schoolgirls.
Asagao took a look at them and smiled in satisfaction. “When the time to celebrate comes again, let’s all drink together once more~,” she said.
She finished her cup, stood up, and walked out. Renge and I followed her, and after we were a ways out, she did a small fist-bump. I didn’t think that was enough to persuade them to our side, but by constantly giving them a taste of our luxury products, they would be more and more inclined to join us over time. The experience of this great new resort would surely be carved into their memories, turning into something they would never forget. What we did was just the beginning, and I’m sure Asagao understood that. Her fist-bump really showed it all.
This city barely had anything that could provide pleasure and excitement to its inhabitants. Eventually, with this experience in their minds, they’d start to crave her luxury items more and more. As a result, I could safely say that Asagao’s influence had begun to expand to new areas.
“At this rate, she might really be the head,” I thought to myself. Somehow, looking at her now made me respect her a bit more.
But, Renge did not look happy. Her head was a bit down as she walked alongside us. “Umm… wasn’t that alcohol?” she asked solemnly.
Asagao responded immediately. “It’s juice made from fruits. So it was fruit juice!”
“Yes, indeed, fruit juice,” I piped in.
“Huh? Fruit juice?” said Renge. “But… the higher-ups had severely limited the production and distribution of alcohol, right…?”
“That’s right. They really crack down hard on the production side especially,” said Asagao nonchalantly.
Renge forced a smile. “Then I guess… you did make that in secret, huh?”
“No, we just found it this way,” said Asagao.
I chimed in once again. “Literally discovered from Kisarazu, you know?”
“Found it… Discovered…” repeated Renge mindlessly. She finally snapped back to reality and looked suspiciously at Asagao.
Asagao cleared her throat. “I just happened to do some things with the fruits and let it naturally ferment, and the resulting mix just happened to come close to alcohol. It’s not like we were trying to make it. And plus, the consumers decide what to do with this product. What they do with it is none of our concern. Okay?”
“O-Okay…” murmured Renge as she winced at Asagao’s ramblings. She nodded in defeat.
“Well then, the difficult part is over,” smiled Asagao, looking at Renge. “Let’s finally go have some fun.”
She took off to the poolside, and Renge quickly followed her. It seemed things had gone well, and finally, things were looking up. I still got more work after this, though…