Prologue | Chapter 13 – Her name is Jiang Shuu Ren

Mandrake’s scribblings: Hey~ Intermission chaoters are short, ain’t it? Well here is chapter 13. This mandrake had a lot of trouble writing this because it features a daily life of a person albeit a little extraordinary added to the mix. This mandrake has to be REALLY careful in this part because it doesn’t want to fall for one of the deepest pitfalls in writing. Also, it fears that the chapter will be too bland for some readers. Nonetheless, enjoy! Longest chapter yet. Nearly 4900 words orz

<Chapter 12.5 | Main | Chapter 13.5>

__________________________________

The autumn weather is cold and humid. A layer of clouds has covered the sky as far the eye can see. The clouds from the east are dyed with a brighter shade of grey as the sun begins to rise, signaling the break of dawn. The sunlight, dimmed by the filter of clouds, swept through the buildings and past a bedroom window. The sunlight enters the room through the narrow spaces where the window curtain did not reach. In the room now illuminated with a dim glow, a person is asleep on the bed, curled up in many layers of sheets to escape the cold of last night.

-BeeBeep BeeBeep BeeBeep-

The clock’s alarm on the bedside table blares throughout the small bedroom. A person from underneath the sheets begins to stir from deep slumber. The bed sheets retract to reveal a woman’s sleepy face. Her arm reaches out for the alarm and taps the snooze button with a finger. Soon after the alarm stops, her arm droops down on the bed once more.

Cat: “Mew.”

-pfpfpfpf-

Cat: “Mew.”

The sound of soft patting can be heard outside the bedroom door followed by the gentle meow of a cat. The doorknob rattles and the door becomes slightly ajar.

Cat: “Mew.”

A female black cat peeks into the bedroom and silently walked in. Her eyes are light blue and her black fur coat is soft and glossy. Worn around her neck is a black velvet collar with a round metal plate of polished metal. Etched on the front of the metal plate is the cat’s name Yozora written in both Japanese romaji and katakana. The cat Yozora approaches the bed and sat in front of it.

Yozora: “Meeooww.”

Woman: “Mnh…”

The cat meows loudly but receives a weak response from the woman. She jumps on the bed and gets closer to the woman.

Yozora: “Meeeooww. Meeeooww. Prrrrrr~”

Woman: “Mng-”

Meowing again, the cat purrs and presses her paw against the woman’s cheek. The woman turns her head to the side and continues to sleep.

Yozora: “Meeoowwoooww.”

Yozora nudges both her paws on the woman’s cheeks. No response. She has fallen deeper into slumber. Yozora climbs onto the woman’s head and lies down on her ear.

Yozora: “Prrrrrrrrr~ Meeeeeeeeeooooowww… Prrrrrrrrrrr~”

The cat lying on top of the woman’s ear lets out a long and loud meow. Finally unable to stand the onslaught, the woman finally wakes up.

Woman: “Mngh- Yozora. I’m up.”

Gently slapping Yozora’s side, the cat hops off to the side for the woman to rise up from bed. Sitting up on the bed, she lets out a sigh as she resolves to face the day ahead. She glances to the side and sees her cat purring and licking its paws.

Woman: [Little menace. I’ll ruffle your fur…]

Yozora: “Mew.”

Sensing the woman’s intent as her hand slowly reaches for her, Yozora jumps off the bed and continues purring and grooming herself.

Woman: [Clever girl…] “Fwaah~”

Finished with the morning shenanigans, the woman lets out a sigh and does her morning stretch. Feeling relieved, she hunches over and plans out the start of her day.

Woman: [Pills. Feed Yozora. Breakfast and shower. No coffee.] “Right! Come on, Yozora~”

Yozora: “Meow.”

She slips into her slippers and stands up straight. With her cat walking next to her, the woman starts her morning unaware of the fate bestowed upon her. Her name is Jiang Shuu Ren.

__________________________________

Shuu Ren: “Hmm…”

She checks the time on her wristwatch that she has just put on. She wears a warm winter office attire with a cotton sweater over her office shirt, black leggings and a long skirt. Slipping into her office shoes, Shuu Ren turns around as she holds open the door.

Shuu Ren: “Yozora, I’m leaving for work. I’ll be back in the evening.”

Yozora: “Meow.”

-Kacha-

Yozora: “Mew.”

Shuu Ren closes the door and Yozora turns around and hops on the furniture. She jumps up to a high window and nudges the window lever with her paws. The window opens to the apartment balcony.

Yozora: “Mew.”

She squeezes through the window into the apartment balcony. She jumps on top of the balcony ledge and jumps off to start her walk around the neighborhood.

__________________________________

The office is rife with employees frantically working at a hurried pace. Shuu Ren sits at her desk as she flips through the morning reports. She glances at her wrist watch for the fourth time since she arrived in the office.

Shuu Ren: [Okay. Two more hours until the meeting. I’m making great time.]

She leaves her desk and walks over to the large room where the meeting will be held. Standing outside the room, an employee busy reading through a script. The man is nervous and keeps adjusting his glasses that slips on his sweaty ears.

Shuu Ren: “Good morning, Kiyoshita-san.”

The man jerks his head upwards to look up. His glasses, finally free of his eyes, drops on his flailing open hand. The man’s composure relaxes from relief when he recognizes his manager in front of him.

Kiyoshita: “Good morning… Manager-san.”

Shuu Ren: “Today is the day for the meeting with the executives of the Apple Ame Group. Have you prepared the project presentations to show during the meeting?”

He wears his glasses once more and showed the script to Shuu Ren.

Kiyoshita: “Yes. The presentation has been approved by President Aoi. The presentation team are doing a short rehearsal right now.”

Shuu Ren flips through the scripts before giving a small nod of approval.

Shuu Ren: “Good work. Please attend the rehearsals as the audience. You will be able to catch any misses from the audience’s perspective. Make the adjustments if there is a need to and have a summary given our executives 10 minutes before the meeting and report to me 15 minutes before the meeting.”

Kiyoshita straightens his posture and puts on a brave face.

Kiyoshita: “Y-Yes!”

Shuu Ren: “Please take note, Kiyoshita-san. Autumn is the harvest season for apples. The executives of Apple Ame will be swamped with work during this time.”

Kiyoshita: “Okay…”

Shuu Ren: “Tempers will be on a short fuse. The contract will be dropped if they think we are wasting their time. Do not let anything slip.”

Kiyoshita: “Ah- Yes!”

The man quickly gives a bow and enters the room. Shuu Ren looks at her wrist watch before looking around the offices.

Shuu Ren: *Where is Chihiro?*

Chihiro: “Shuu-chan~!”

A cheerful call is heard behind her. Shuu Ren turns around to see her junior cheerfully walking towards her. The woman is in her early 20s and she has a pretty face with smooth fair skin much like a model’s and silky smooth brown hair that reach past her shoulders. This shining beauty is off putting wearing normal office wear and even more so in a dreary bustling office.

Shuu Ren: *There she is.* [For goodness sake.]

Chihiro: “Good! Morning! Shuu-ch- Muniiiiiii!”

The moment Chihiro is within her reach. Shuu Ren’ arm goes straight for Chihiro’s face and firmly pinches her cheek. Chihiro can only flinch mid-sentence and gently grips Shuu Ren’s pinching with her hand while tapping Shuu Ren’s wrist with the other.

Shuu Ren: “Chihiro. Do not address me like that in the office.”

Chihiro: “Hyesh~ Swowee~”

Shuu Ren quickly releases Chihiro’s cheek. Chihiro rubs her sore cheek before returning to her merry smile once more.

Shuu Ren: “Good morning, Chihiro. Have you prepared the food for the meeting?”

Chihiro: “Yes, Manager! The catering service has done a splendid job! It’s already in the company fridge! I’ve also written a warning notice for unsuspecting staff!”

Chihiro answers in a cheery tone and does a cutesy salute. Hearing her accomplishment and seeing the charming sight, Shuu Ren breaks into a warm smile.

Shuu Ren: “Oh~ Good work, Chihiro.”

Shuu Ren raises her hand and pats Chihiro’s shoulder. Chihiro tilts her head in the direction of Shuu Ren’s hand but ultimately settles for a pat on her shoulder. Smiling at Shuu Ren, her face is beaming with happiness.

Chihiro: “Thank you very much!”

Shuu Ren returns her smile and notices Chihiro’s expression. Her face has shifted to an expression of anticipation for Shuu Ren’s reaction. Sensing some mischief afoot, Shuu Ren entertains Chihiro’s anticipation with a whisper.

Shuu Ren: *Chihiro… Did you take any of the food?*

Chihiro makes a quick glance around the office to make sure that no one is in earshot. She then bends forward with an accomplished expression and with her hand covering the side of her mouth, she whispers her answer.

Chihiro: *Enough for the both of u-”

-tok-

Chihiro: *Ow- Munininini!*

Shuu Ren’s retribution is swift with a light chop on Chihiro’s head and immediately followed by her hands pinching both her cheeks. Chihiro’s hands which are raised to massage her sore crown of her head now pulls on Shuu Ren’s wrist to prevent her cheek from getting pulled any further.

Shuu Ren: *Chi! Hi! Ro! What are you doing?! Don’t jeopardize the meeting!*

Chihiro: *Swowee! I wan chu hev lunch wif youu!*

Shuu Ren releases Chihiro’s cheeks once more and folds her arm in disapproval. Chihiro is rubbing her cheeks while playfully avoiding Shuu Ren’s gaze like a child who hasn’t learnt her lesson. Shuu Ren looks and her wristwatch and heaved a long sigh.

Shuu Ren: [I still have time.] *I have to inspect the food now.*

Shuu Ren places her hand on top of her junior’s head. The surprised Chihiro straightens her posture and puts on a stiff smile.

Shuu Ren: “Chihiro, follow me.”

Chihiro: “Y-Yes!”

She followed Shuu Ren to the company pantry. Walking next to Shuu Ren’s side, Chihiro looked at her manager nervously.

Chihiro: *Don’t worry, Manager. I’ve arrange the food so that it looks like nothing is missing.*

Shuu Ren shoots an annoyed glance at Chihiro and sighs.

Shuu Ren: *If this is minor, I’ll let it slide. But I won’t spare you next time.*

Chihiro’s cheerful mood recovers and she hops along for a moment.

Chihiro: *Thank you, Manager~*

Glad that Chihiro is back to normal, Shuu Ren notices something about the food.

Shuu Ren: “Chihiro, the food is sushi and sashimi, isn’t it? I can’t eat those.”

Chihiro: “Eh?!”

Her words surprises Chihiro. She hops forward and makes a difficult face at Shuu Ren. Seeing her face, Shuu Ren stops to explain.

Shuu Ren: “I’m pregnant, so I’m cannot eat raw food.”

Grasping on the situation, Chihiro realizes her mistake and tries to recall the types of sushi made in the order.

Chihiro: “Ah- T-Then you can still eat the cooked sushi right? The egg omelette, tempura shrimp, smoke salmon and grilled eel. I’ll eat the raw ones.”

Chihiro’s eyes are brimming with hope. Convinced by Chihiro’s words, Shuu Ren agrees and continues her walk to the pantry.

Shuu Ren: “Alright. We’ll eat lunch together.”

Chihiro: “Yay!”

Chihiro follows Shuu Ren’s pace with a spring in her step.

__________________________________

It’s 5pm. The day is almost over and the crowd flooded the trains to commute back to their homes. A packed train arrives at the station and a great number of commuters come out and crowds the exits. Among the ones that spread to the walkway, two women are walking together and one of them retained her vibrant energy despite a day of work.

Chihiro: “Shuu-chan. Shuu-chan. Isn’t it great that the meeting concluded without a hitch? The executives really liked the choice of food prepared for lunch!”

Shuu Ren: “Yes. Yes. You did well in choosing the caterer. Despite some mischief on your part.”

Chihiro: “Nya~”

Shuu Ren reaches over to pinch Chihiro’s cheek. Chihiro dodges while mimicking a cat.

Chihiro: “With this, the pressure from the president is finally off you isn’t it?”

Remembering the unpleasant incident, Shuu Ren makes a difficult face while warming her cold fingers under her scarf.

Shuu Ren: “Yes, the president isn’t too keen with my absence for a trip to Tokyo.”

Chihiro: “President Aoi is too uptight. When Shuu-chan left for the trip, she has it out for you! Moving the meeting earlier from winter into the harvest season! The Apple Ame company was livid!”

Shuu Ren: “Yes. Kiyoshita did well salvaging the meeting from the ground.”

Chihiro leans forward and nudges Shuu Ren with her shoulders.

Chihiro: “Anyone else?”

Shuu Ren: “Okay. Okay. The food you ordered lifted the mood during lunch.”

Chihiro: “Hehe~ You’re welcome.”

Both of them stop at the fork at the road. Shuu Ren looks to the right where her home is and Chihiro looks to the left where her home is further down the road.

Shuu Ren: “This is where we go separate ways.”

Chihiro: “Un.”

Shuu Ren: “Goodbye, Chihiro.”

Shuu Ren waves goodbye to Chihiro. Chihiro skips backwards while waving her arms.

Chihiro: “Shuu-chan! Bye! Bye!”

Chihiro turns away and jogs in the direction of her home. Shuu Ren turns around and is greeted by an unpleasant sight.

Man: “Whoa! That girl is pretty!”

Sitting on a bench in the park near her apartment complex is a young man and an old man in his fifties. The young man is looking in Chihiro’s direction and shaking his fist energetically. Sensing trouble brewing for her junior, Shuu Ren frowns and lashes out at the young man.

Shuu Ren: “Shut up, shitty intern. Control you intern, Professor Taro.”

Shuu Ren turns to the old man who is smiling widely as if to hold back his hearty laughter. He is Taro Nakamura, a university professor on wildlife biology. The young man who is embarrassed that someone witnessed his shameful behavior is Yoshirou Matsuoka, the professor’s intern studying wildlife photography.

Nakamura: “Sorry, Jiang-san. Matsuo is young, so please overlook it.”

Shuu Ren: “I’ll overlook it for now. Good evening, Professor.”

Shuu Ren bows her head at the professor. Realizing that he had forgotten his greetings, he smiled widely and bows his.

Nakamura: “Ah- Good evening.”

Shuu Ren: “Are you done with your work?”

Nakamura: “Yes, I’ve taken some good pictures and notes on Ama-chan today.”

Shuu Ren: “That’s good. I hope you get good data for your research. Oh! Before I forget, I have to tell you that I will be hanging my laundry out to dry tomorrow.”

The professor is surprised and laughs loudly. He removes his winter hat to brush his head which sports thinning hair.”

Nakamura: “Hahaha~ Aaaah~ Why of all times.”

Matsuoka suddenly jumps into the conversation, his left arm up high to draw attention.

Matsuoka: “Jiang-san! Is it possible for you to do your laundry at another time? Or if possible, use the laundry mat!”

The professor and Shuu Ren are startled at the his sudden and loud words. The first to respond is Shuu Ren with an angry mark on her cheek.

Shuu Ren: “What did you say?”

-Whap-

The professor slaps his intern in the lower back. The intern, sensing his mistake drops his shoulders and bows apologetically. The professor smiles at Shuu Ren once more.

Nakamura: “Now, now. Jiang-san has allowed us to document Eagle-san within the vicinity of her home. We shouldn’t impose on any more of her privacy. Now apologize, Matsuo.”

Matsuoka: “I apologize for my statement earlier.”

Hoping to leave the awkward atmosphere, Shuu Ren sighs and overlooks the young man’s rude remarks.

Shuu Ren: “I’ll let this go for now. Professor, please discipline your intern.”

Nakamura: “Thank you, Jiang-san. Matsuo will reflect on his words. I will respect your wishes and will be back on the day after tomorrow.”

Shuu Ren: “Thank you. Have a good day, Professor.”

Shuu Ren bows her head at the professor before turning towards her apartment. The professor bows in kind.

Nakamura: “You too, Jiang-san.”

When Shuu Ren is a few paces away, the intern starts to whisper his concerns to the professor.

Matsuoka: *How unfortunate. Why does Jiang-san have to pick tomorrow to dry her laundry?*

Nakamura: *You’re still thinking that, Matsuo? Foolish brat. It is not Jiang-san’s intention to interfere. Ama-chan is a very clever bird who took advantage of Jiang-san’s schedule.*

Matsuoka: *… Sorry… My wrongful comments aside, Ama-san is a magnificent bird. Is it really a domesticated golden eagle?*

Nakamura: *That’s right. It just swooped in Jiang-san’s apartment and started living there. Like it chose to be domesticated. In all my years studying golden eagles, it’s the first. Ama-chan is special.*

Matsuoka: *Jiang-san has a lot on her plate, huh? Ama-san even flew in with a big fish too…*

Shuu Ren: [Big fish?!]

Unbeknownst to the professor and his intern, Shuu Ren caught wind of their conversation with her sharp ears and the coincidental wind blowing their conversation in her direction. Hearing the intern’s last statement puts her mind in confusion.

Shuu Ren: [Big fish? Where is Ama-san? I don’t see her anywhere. Did she get in?]

Arriving at her doorstep, Shuu Ren nervously unlocks the door and peeks inside.

Shuu Ren: “Yozora~ How are you?”

Yozora: “Meow~”

As usual, Yozora meows at her, welcoming her home. Shuu Ren narrows her eyes in suspicion, bends forward and slowly reach for Yozora.

Shuu Ren: “Did you let Ama-san in? Come here.”

Yozora: “Mew.”

Before Shuu Ren can catch her, Yozora darts away from Shuu Ren and runs into her living room. Annoyed that she failed to catch the culprit, Shuu Ren sighs and straightens up her posture.

Shuu Ren: [Mischievous cat… So Ama-san is here.]

Shutting the door behind her, Shuu Ren removes her shoes and walks to her living room where Yozora is.

Ama: “Kiu. Kiu. Kiu.”

Shuu Ren: “Wah! Ama-san.”

A soft high pitch peep like a puppy’s startles Shuu Ren. Perched on the kitchen table is an adult female golden eagle. The feathers on her body are dark brown in color and golden colored features lined the back of her head and neck. She has an impressive tail with light greyish feathers with a black tip. Smooth feathers that shows a streamlined body, slender and sharp beak, and sharp and seemingly polished talon, she is truly a beautiful bird.

Shuu Ren: “Hmm…”

Shuu Ren reaches for a nearby drawer and pulled out a pair of thick falconry gloves that reach all the way to the elbow. She puts one over her left arm and slowly positions the glove in front of the eagle. She calls out to the eagle in a soft voice.

Shuu Ren: “Ama~ Ama~”

The eagle hops on to the glove. Seeming happy about it, she rocks up and down with her talons gripping the glove. Shuu Ren tries to keep her shaking arm still as she walked over to a big wooden perch made from a log with a large branch.

Shuu Ren: “There you go…”

Shuu Ren lifts her arm towards the branch. The eagle hops onto the branch and continues her silly dance, rocking up and down. The funny sight brings a snicker out of Shuu Ren as she steps back to behold the bird’s beauty.

Shuu Ren: “Uh… Welcome back, Ama-san. The last time I’ve seen you was before my trip to Tokyo. Professor Nakamura told me that he hasn’t seen you for a while so he got worried. I hope you have been eating well.”

Ama: “Kiu. Kiu. Kiu.”

Shuu Ren: “You look healthy and energetic but I’ll have to send you to the center for a health checkup.” [Since you escaped from there when I left you in their care before my trip.]

**********************************

It was the spring season, the a few months after Shuu Ren has adopted the kitten she named Yozora. Having a companion in her apartment, Shuu Ren always looked forward to coming home from work.

Shuu Ren: “Hello, Yozora! I’m back early!”

Yozora: “Meow~”

Shuu Ren kneels down to welcome her juvenile black cat into her arms.

Shuu Ren: “Hehe~ Did you mi-”

Eagle: “Kiu. Kiu. Kiu.”

Shuu Ren: “Waaah! Yozora! Come here!”

A peeping sound of a bird is heard and Shuu Ren looks up to see a juvenile golden eagle perched on the shoe rack. She quickly scoops up Yozora, runs outside and shuts the door.

Shuu Ren: *Who should I call?! Who should I call?!*

Yozora: “Meow~”

Shuu Ren whips out her phone and is caught in a daze on who to call in this situation while Yozora is hanging listlessly in her other hand. After consultation with the emergency line, her situation is relayed to the wildlife center.

Suzume: “Good afternoon! I am Hisakawa Suzume from the wildlife center. You called in regards to an eagle in your home?”

The cheery wildlife caretaker Suzume arrives to aid Shuu Ren. After a few minutes, golden eagle is safely in a cage to be transported to the wildlife center. Happy with the ease of the capture, she decides to show the eagle to Shuu Ren.

Suzume: “How fortunate, Jiang-san! This eagle is very docile! This is a big juvenile, so it must be a girl! Isn’t she cute, Jiang-san?”

Excited about the eagle, Suzume pushes the cage nearer to Shuu Ren for a closer look.

Shuu Ren: “Wah! Y-Yeah, she is a pretty bird…”

Eagle: “Kiu. Kiu. Kiu.”

Suzume: “W-Whoa! I’ll put her in the van to calm her down.”

The eagle suddenly peeps in excitement, flapping it wings. Suzume quickly puts a firm grip on the cage and turn around to the van.

Suzume: “Thank you so much for calling us.”

Shuu Ren: “N-No, thank you for handling the situation in my home.”

Shuu Ren waves at the gleeful caretaker as the van pulls away from the apartment porch. Shuu Ren is finally relieved that the strange incident is over. However, later in the evening, she receives a call from the wildlife center.

Suzume: “Good evening, Jiang-san!”

Shuu Ren: “Good evening… How is the eagle doing?”

Suzume: “We had a medical checkup on her earlier. She is a perfectly healthy bird!”

Shuu Ren: “That’s good news.”

Suzume: “Yes, it seems so… But we’ve encountered a huge problem. The eagle has escaped from her cage and we could not find her. Has the eagle by any chance returned to your home?”

Shuu Ren: “Eh? No. I have not seen the-“

-fwup fwup fwup-

A sound of flapping wings alerted Shuu Ren from behind. She turns around and sees a golden eagle perched on top of her chair.

Eagle: “Kiu. Kiu. Kiu.”

Shuu Ren: “EAGLE!”

Suzume: “Hah?”

Shuu Ren: “It’s here! Eagle!”

Suzume: “Eh?! Okay, Jiang-san. Calm down and don’t startle her. I’ll come over to retrieve her!”

Shuu Ren: “Eeh?!”

__________________________________

At the next morning, Shuu Ren receives another call from Suzume.”

Suzume: “Good afternoon, Jiang-san. I am calling to ask you regarding the eagle.”

Shuu Ren: “Has it escaped again?”

Suzume: “No, no, no. She’s still here in our facility. I just want to ask you something. Have you fed her human food?”

Shuu Ren: “No. I have not. I waited outside my home until you arrive.”

Suzume: “That’s strange…”

Shuu Ren: “What is going on?”

Suzume: “The eagle has not been eating any of the food we’ve given to it. In fact, she only started eating when we give human food to it.]

Shuu Ren: “Human food? N-No, I haven’t fed it anything nor did it eat anything at my home.”

Suzume: “This is problematic. She might be domesticated already. It might take some time to reintroduce her into the wild.”

__________________________________

Late that evening, as she was returning from work.

Eagle: “Kiu. Kiu. Kiu.”

Shuu Ren: “Waah!”

Shuu Ren stumbles and falls down on her bottom. The eagle is perched on the shoe rack once more, peeping at her.

Shuu Ren: *Yozora!* “Yozora! Yozora!”

Yozora: “Mew. Prrrrr…”

Suddenly remembering her cat, she calls out her name, hoping nothing horrible had happen to her cat. Answering her prayers, Yozora emerges from one of the rooms, jumps on her lap and starts purring. Shuu Ren sits there in disbelief as she gratefully strokes her cat and stares at the golden eagle which is doing a curious dance on the shoe rack.

The caretaker Suzume is sent over once more to Shuu Ren’s apartment. Upon arrival, the caretaker is clearly tired and agitated.

Suzume: “Jiang-san. By any chance, is this eagle your pet?”

Shuu Ren: “Don’t joke with me, Hisakawa-san. I do not know how to train a golden eagle. Is there any way you can solve this situation for good?”

Suzume: “Uh… I am at a loss…”

Shuu Ren: “… For now, could you retrieve the eagle from my home?”

This ordeal continued for two months. The eagle would mysteriously break out of its restraints and escape, only to be found at Shuu Ren’s home. The golden eagle became famous around the city and even appeared once on television. In spite of this, the wildlife center and the city council were in an uproar due to the golden eagle’s breakouts. Suspicion over their ability to handle a bird that has been nationally recognized as endangered had been brewing in the public’s opinion. After much consideration, they have come to a consensus.

Suzume: “Welcome, Jiang-san. I’ve prepared a special course for you on how to take care of a golden eagle.”

Shuu Ren: “Uu-uuuu…”

Suzume: “Please pay proper attention.”

To salvage their reputation and to prevent any more wasting of public funds on handling the bird, Shuu Ren is made an affiliate of the wildlife center and given a license to adopt the troublesome bird.

**********************************

The entire experience hit her in one blow. Shuu Ren slumps her shoulders thinking of how helpless she was, being dragged into a maelstrom of debate, unwanted publicity and stress with Ama as it center

Shuu Ren: [Now…]

Shuu Ren turns over to the object that she has been purposely escaping reality from. A big fish 40 centimeters long is lying on the table before her.

Shuu Ren: [W-What to do with this?]

Shuu Ren reluctantly takes a closer look at the fish. The slick silver skin, two closely spaced dorsal fins on its back, finlets running from dorsal fin to the tail. It is without a doubt, a tuna fish.

Shuu Ren: [T-This is a tuna, right? Why is a tuna all the way here in Hirosaki? The ocean is quite far away.]

How did Ama-san catch a fish like this? The tuna that swims at high speed and can only be found in far out in the ocean? These thoughts bounce around in her head.

Shuu Ren: [Did Ama-san carry this all the way from the ocean? Or did she…]

Shuu Ren turns to look at Ama.

Shuu Ren: [Steal from a fish market?]

Ama: “Kiu. Kiu. Kiu.”

Shuu Ren: [Most likely the latter.]

She lets out a sigh and picks up the tuna. It looks fresh and unscathed save for the talon marks made by Ama when she carried it. Feeling its weight, the tuna is too much for one eagle, even for a week. Shuu Ren looks down at Yozora who is brushing against her leg while purring.

Shuu Ren: “Yozora~ Do you like fish for dinner?”

Yozora: “Meow~”

Sensing Yozora’s approval, Shuu Ren holds up the tuna with both her hands and looked at it uneasily.

Shuu Ren: “How do I prepare this?”

__________________________________

Shuu Ren: “Alright! Is everyone settled?”

There is no response from the two animals next to her. Yozora is happily biting down on a slice of baked tuna ignoring Shuu Ren’s call.

-Klaka Klak-

Standing on top of a tray on the kitchen table, Ama is also biting down on her baked tuna. Hopping around the tray to nip at the fish, she is enjoying her meal in full vigor.

Shuu Ren: “… Hmph.”

Fed up with getting ignored, Shuu Ren eats a spoonful of rice from her dinner. Steamed chicken and vegetables with a bowl of rice and a tray of assorted condiments in bottles. She grabs the remote and switches the television to her preferred channel, a foreign channel from the US.

Shuu Ren: “Ooh! It’s starting!”

Shuu Ren’s words, said in fluent English contained no traces of the Japanese language that she uses daily. Her eyes shine brightly as the program she eagerly waits for every week cuts to a black man in a suit standing in a planetarium filled with spectators.

Neil: “From the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and broadcast across the globe and space. This~ is Cosmic Conversation, where science, technology, and modern cultures collide. I’m your host Neil Denierre Tyler.”

Shuu Ren bends closer to the television. The professor gestures off stage to welcome his guest for his show.

Neil: “On this episode we have invited Mr. Dijon Monque to talk with us to day. Let welcome him with an applause.”

The spectators give a loud applause as a French man in an expensive suit walks in while waving at the crowd. Shuu Ren on the other hand gives a snort at the man.

Shuu Ren: “That shady business man. Hopefully Neil and some engineers will confront him about the technicalities of VacuTrack.”

She watches the television attentively, ignoring her dinner that is slowly turning cold.

__________________________________

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<Chapter 12.5 | Main | Chapter 13.5>

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Author: Q-ichi

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