After a looooong delay...
The semi-final version of Ch 37. Enjoy! :lol:
Holiday Special - Sarah and Nyamo's (and Gidget's) Excellent New Years Adventure
(Yes, I know itÆs November, but itÆs the holiday season in the story. Sheeshà)
Hintata City, Kanagawa Prefecture
Metro Tokyo, Japan
Sarah MacDougal was bored. As anyone who was familiar with the American teenager knew, this was A Bad Thing.
Sarah always had a problem keeping her attention on things, especially if they did not interest her. School teachers learned this to their dismay when they had her in their classes; the girl could learn the class room material very quickly, almost scarily so. After that, on a good day Sarah would either scribble in a notebook or read from some paperback book. On a bad day, or if the teacher was a rule following martinet that insisted on either her sitting quietly in her chair, or doing more of the same work, Sarah would come up with her own forms of fun. Spitballs would be the least of it; her best day the annoyed teen managed, with some quickly but carefully altered notes she was supposed to pass from some airhead cheerleader to her popular boyfriend, caused the airhead to have a screaming fit in the classroom itself, loudly accusing her boyfriend of cheating on her with her best friend. The best part was that the boyfriend dumbly asked what gave them away, since they would get together when the other girl was busy doing other things. When the girl screeched that the note had been addressed to her friend, the boyfriend, showing that he had taken one too many helmet hits while playing football, thoughtless responded that at least now he could be with the other girl and not have to put up with her flat ass and poor oral skills. The shriek the spurned girl gave almost shattered window glass and ruptured eardrums; it only went downhill from there.
SarahÆs skills did not just extend to note-forging and mischief-making; she was also a fairly skilled artist, usually making caricatures of people she saw. Her technical drawing skills were rather good, but she preferred to do stylized minimalistic portraits of people and places that showed their defining characteristics. Usually done in pencil and charcoal, ten minutes of work would produce a decent portrait or study. It was only when she had an idea get in her head that she would break out her colored pencils and really buckle down.
Her last work had been inspired by a photo portrait that she had seen hanging in a Hinata-sou hallway, apparently taken only a few weeks ago. It showed the three young Urashima sitting together on a tatami floor while wearing formal Japanese clothes. Haruka, the deadpan older girl that her father was always hanging around, and Kanako, the younger yet scarier girl, were wearing dark robe-like kimonos, with a wooden sword laying on the ground besides Kanako. But it was the guy sitting between them that caught the American girlÆs eye.
When Sarah had first met Keitaro Urashima in Thailand on her fatherÆs expedition earlier that year, she had not been impressed. Only a few inches taller than her with a slender build, her first impression of him was that he was some kind of geeky nerd, one of her fatherÆs students dragged along to do the grunt work. His demeanor left her feeling cold as well. Granted, she did not have a lot of experience with Japanese people besides her adoptive father, but Keitaro was almost too polite for his own good. Even though he was armed like the two other guards on the expedition, he did not put off any sort of threatening vibe like they did. Gaz had been a British soldier and while polite, you could tell it was not a good idea to mess with him. Yuri the Russian guard, on the other hand, put off scary vibes without even trying, with his cold blue eyes and tattoo-covered arms and chest. Yet the skinny dork was supposed to be protecting them? Yeah, right. But boy, did she learn different later that year.
In the portrait, Keitaro was wearing formal samurai robes and was sitting on the mat with his hands folded in his lap, his gaze steadily forward toward the camera. There was a small smile on his face, but mostly the viewerÆs attention was drawn to his eyes. The camera had captured a hint of something that was almost never seen on the young manÆs face, something that Sarah had only seen one horrible day in Thailand, while she had been cowering in the foot well of a truck while it sounded like every bad guy in the world was firing machine guns at them.
When the adults at the expedition camp talked on their handheld radios, they used call signs instead of their own names. Gaz had been Sword (from the sword on the SAS patch), Yuri had been Draco (due to his more than faint resemblance to Ivan Draco from the Rocky movie) , and Daddy had been known as Sensei. Keitaro had been known as Ronin, and Sarah wound up asking her father about it. Noriyasu Seta explained that Japanese high school graduates that failed to enter college were known as ronin, the old name for masterless samurai warriors. Sarah had snorted at that explanation, telling her father that the Dork did not look like any kind of warrior. Seta had given her a strange smile, replying that while in fact Keitaro did descend from noble samurai blood, anyone who really knew him would understand that the title of warrior did apply to him. The blonde girl did not understand at that time, not until much later.
As much as Sarah wanted to continue with her drawing of the Sou manager in samurai garb, she was a bit stuck at the moment. She did not want to replicate the picture she had seen on the wall and have Keitaro just sitting somewhere. She wanted to show him in some action pose, but having him wielding a sword was a little too clichÚ û plus, she had never really seen him do that, and Sarah did not want to copy a pose from some other Japanese drawing.
After a while, Sarah got an inspiration û she had seen all three of the guards practicing with their handguns one afternoon, and while Gaz was the best shot of the three, Keitaro had been pretty good as well û good enough to occasionally outshoot Yuri, much to the big RussianÆs disgust. In fact, there was one mode of shooting where the Japanese student was consistently better than the Russian merc û shooting on the move. Yuri could stand in place and accurately hit the steel plate targets and tin cans, but Keitaro could move forward rapid firing his pistol and the steel plate would ring like a church bell. When the two other contractors demanded to know how he learned to shoot so well, Keitaro merely smiled and said he had a couple of good instructors.
Working busily the previous evening, Sarah finally finished the drawing. It had Keitaro dressed in the full robes and oversized jacket he was wearing in the original picture, only in the drawing he was walking toward the viewer, holding a pistol in both hands and firing, muzzle blast visible. There were even shell casings in the air after being ejected by the pistol but before they hit the ground. KeitaroÆs head had been tilted forward, the expression on his face intent and determined, concentrating on the viewer.
Sarah had been putting the last strokes on the sketch at breakfast this morning when Kitsune had stumbled in and caught a glance at what she was doing. Before she could stop her, the resident trickster had grabbed the drawing pad from her hands, and after looking at it for a long moment, keeping it above the protesting teenÆs hands, flipped it over and showed it to everyone else in the kitchen. While the non-family members of the household had been slightly thrown by the subject matter, they all agreed that it was a good drawing. When Naru asked why she had chosen to draw Keitaro in samurai garb but with a modern weapon, Sarah replied that a gun was the only type of weapon she had seen the house manager handle. When everyone turned and looked at Keitaro, he calmly stated that his official job on the Thailand expedition was that of a guard, even if most of the time he was assisting Seta-sensei with artifacts and reports. Thankfully, no one pursued the question any further.
Now that the drawing was done, Sarah had started work on another one, this one with Keitaro standing in profile with a pistol at a high ready position with one hand, the other hand up and flat in a gesture for someone behind him to halt. She had gotten the outline done on her oversized drawing pad, the next step being to fill in the details. But right now Sarah was feeling antsy, feeling the need to go outside and do something, do anything physical. Knowing it was almost impossible for her to do anything when she had this feeling, the American teen set the drawing pad aside and left the room she shared with Nyamo.
Sarah had not been happy that she would not be able to live with her father, and have to split a room with another person, something no other resident at the Hinata-sou had to do. But Seta had sat her down and explained that due to his living conditions (Sarah had seen his apartment once, and it was a royal mess) and that since Nyamo was staying with them as well, he could not afford to get them separate rooms. As it was, Keitaro and Haruka were bending a couple of rules by letting them stay together.
The blonde teen could not really complain about her roommate. Nyamo hardly spoke aloud, but her glances and expressions could speak volumes. Back in Thailand they had all had their own separate little tents to live in, with a big tent for all of them to work, eat and hang out in during the day or if the weather turned bad. Since she had been living on her own for so long, Sarah was used to leaving things laying around and not making her bed and so on. It had only taken a couple of the island girlÆs soulful stares to get her to start cleaning up after herself. The American did not even try and complain about it, as she was damn lucky to have gotten the western style bed, while Nyamo had been more than happy to sleep in the Japanese style futon. As it was, the tanned girl had to be almost forced to sleep on the pads, as she was so used to sleeping on the ground with merely two blankets and a rolled jacket as a pillow.
Fortunately, the two newest foreign girls had not been thrown into the deep end of the Japanese school system. With some major string pulling, Haruka had arranged for Sarah and Nyamo to be put on independent study based out of the Hinata-sou. Not that the study was simple or easy; the two girls had been immersed in an Japanese language study program based on SetaÆs work as a part-time tutor from when he was a graduate student. Sarah had known a few Japanese words and phrases from her father, but this program was insane. For six hours a day five days a week, the girls got the total immersion approach to learning Japanese, and it was mind-blowing. Not only did they have to listen to and speak Japanese during their lessons, the other occupants of the house spoke only Japanese to them to help them along, speaking English only when they had no other choice.
Now that they were at the point they could each read and speak somewhat intelligibly in Japanese, their final exam a couple days before had been both of the girls being separately taken to the other side of Hinata City with only their ID, 2000 yen (not enough for a taxi), and instructions to make their way back the Hinata-sou, and a mobile phone in case they got completely lost. Sarah took three long hot hours to make the trip, only to find Nyamo sitting on the front steps of the Sou waiting for her, looking as cool as a daisy, not a yen spent.
However, this test now proved that they were literate enough that they would be enrolled in public school, starting at the beginning of the new year. To SarahÆs chagrin, she had been assigned to the college prep academic track that would last three years. Nyamo was assigned to the one year vocational track, after which she would leave school as soon as she reached her sixteenth birthday and completed the mandatory education track and graduate with what in the US would be a General Education Degree certificate, as she was not interested in continuing her education beyond what was legally required, no matter what Seta and Keitaro said to her.
As much as Sarah wanted to be annoyed with her roommate, she really could not. She knew the islander girl was an orphan, with her last known relative being the grandfather who had been SetaÆs friend. As far as Sarah knew the only things that Nyamo had to her name was a single duffle bag containing her belongings and a small sailboat. Seta had arranged for the boat to be transported to the Hinata-sou, and it was now sitting inside a storage shed, its mast removed and stored alongside to allow it to fit in the small building.
Stepping out the back door, Sarah could hear the muffled roar of a turbofan engine. Walking up to the driveway, the American girl could see the giant mechanical turtle flying around the lawn area between the rear of the house and the start of the treeline surrounding the residence, a young tanned blonde girl perched on its back and cackling loudly.
Kaolla Su was one of the weirdest people she had ever met, and that was really saying something. The girl was only a little younger than she was, but she was way smarterà as in she really should be in university working on a Ph.D smarter. But for whatever reason, instead of blowing up university labs with her experiments she was in a Japanese high school ætinkeringÆ with her projects, MechaTama being the most prominent of them.
Sarah was used to being the biggest brat in the room, mostly because other people bored her, but Su had the capacity to be even more so. Her only saving grace was that was not intentionally bad, but Su did not quite understand what some of her actions could hurt people. Plus her interests were such that very few people could follow along with her when she was in full engineering babble mode, KeitaroÆs girlfriend Miyuki being one of them.
That had been something that had thrown the American girl for a loop, the fact that the Dork had two girlfriends at the same time, and that they knew about each other. In fact, the two girls lived together, and if SarahÆs suspicions were correct, were probably as close to each other as they were with the Dork.
Being the suspicious person that she had previously been, Sarah would not have had charitable thoughts as to why two girls would be together with the same guy, especially after finding out upon arriving at the Hinata-sou that the guy was apparently heir to a fortune. But after spending the summer with the Dork, and having him save her skinny white butt from a really bad fate in Thailand, Sarah had seen past the geek faþade of Keitaro to the real person, and she could not really blame the two girls for going after him. Because really, two girls that were almost thirty going after a guy who was barely twenty? It sounded so tacky.
Looking off to the side, Sarah saw that Gidget the giant turtle was resting in the shade under one of the trees with Nyamo sitting and leaning up against her. The young islander girl had some kind of ceramic musical instrument that looked a little like a sweet potato up to her mouth and was producing flute-like music, a tune that the American girl was not familiar with. Nyamo had never played her instrument in Thailand, so this was her first time hearing it, and to her surprise, the music was rather good.
ôHey Nyamo, whatÆs that youÆre playing?ö The whole honorific and suffix thing had been beaten into SarahÆs head, but even though she speaking Japanese to the islander girl, she had left off the -chan or ûkun, as she was one of the few people who did not care about it.
ôThis called ocarina in English, my grandfather taught me to play.ö Even though Nyamo probably spoke better Japanese than Sarah did, she preferred using her characteristic laconic style. ôGidget sad, thought I would cheer up.ö
Glancing over at the giant tortoiseÆs face, Sarah could see that Gidget did in fact look a little sad. The tortoise glanced back at the American for a moment before looking back out into the field before them, her eyes following the antics of Su and her MechaTama.
ôWhy is Gidget sad? Is it because sheÆs away from home?ö If anyone else would say that they were able to communicate with a tortoise, Sarah would have thought them mad, but Nyamo and Gidget were the exception.
ôWhen magic turtles are young, they can use their powers to fly through air. When they get too big they stop, take too much power to do. Closest Gidget can do now is swim, hasnÆt been able to fly in long time, over one hundred years.ö
ôOne hundred years??? How old is Gidget?ö Sarah was a little shocked at the figure.
ôGidget not know for sure, does not count time like people do. All she knows is she remembers time before steel ships on ocean, when ships were made of wood and pushed by wind.ö Here Nyamo paused for a moment to chirp and whistle at the tortoise, who replied for about half a minute. ôShe says she was young she was captured by whalers to be used as food, before that happen mountain island nearby blew up, caused great wave to wreak ship and free Gidget. So much fire and smoke in sky, Gidget thought world was ending.ö Here Nyamo stroked Gidget on top of her head, who actually purred in response. ôAll this happen in sea of many islands near where she met me, after than she hide from adult people, only come near young boys and girls so she would not be hurt or captured again.ö
Sarah did the figures in her head, and consulted a mental map. After a few moments the answer came to mind. ôWhat you are saying is that she was near the eruption of Krakatoa? The sea of many islands is probably Indonesia, and they had a volcano blow up like that in the 1880s.ö
Nyamo shrugged. ôCould be true. Hid in coral reefs for long time after that, had to hide again when steel ship war start, last long time too.ö
ôSteel ship war?ö Sarah had a feeling she knew what she meant by this.
ôGidget no read people languages, but can recognize colors and flags.ö Here Nyamo chirped and whistled with Gidget before continuing. ôSteel ship war was when steel ships with white flags with red circles and lines fight against ships with flags with crossed and even white, blue and red lines and white stars. Very scary time, always big explosions in water, flying machines falling into water. One time big explosion destroy coral reef Gidget live in, had to swim across channel to other reef. Many men dead and dying in water, called sharks to them.ö Both Nyamo and Sarah shivered at the thought. ôGidget come across hurt man helping other man swim, hurt man almost exhausted. Gidget hold rope tied to second man in mouth, pulled both men to island. First man had hurt back, Gidget pulled by shirt to tree line, pulled second man later. Gidget leave when sun start to come up, first man start to feel better. Man is who gave Gidget her name.ö
ôHow do you know that?ö Sarah was intrigued by this story. Nyamo and Gidget chirped and whistled for another minute.
ôMan called her Midget at first, because so big?ö Here Nyamo raised an eyebrow and Sarah nodded, understanding that the man was being ironic about the giant tortoise. ôWhen he called her boy, Gidget shake head, when he called her girl, she nod. Man call her Gidget, for girl midget.ö
ôI donÆt suppose Gidget remembers this guyÆs name?ö Sarah was being sarcastic, so she was surprised to hear the response after the tortoise and the girl spoke again.
ôMan call himself John, no remember last name. He in charge of small fast boat. Promised Gidget to name next family boat for her in thanks.ö Nyamo reached out and before Sarah realized what was happening Nyamo was using her hand to stroke GidgetÆs head, and the tortoise purred again.
Looking down at the giant reptile, Sarah thought about her compatriot had said. It was easy to figure out why Gidget was depressed; watching the mechanical turtle do what it could do in its youth made it apparent. But there was little the American girl could do to help the tortoise. It was not like she could wave a magic wand and let the tortoise fly again. And asking someone like Su for help was just asking for trouble; she could very well just strap a rocket to poor GidgetÆs back and let it rip, like in that stupid Darwin Award story she had read once.
ôUmàNyamo, how did Gidget fly? ItÆs not like she had wings to flap or anything.ö The giant tortoise did have webbed feet, but they looked more like elephant feet than the flipper feet of its aquatic brethren.
After a few seconds of whistling and chirping, Nyamo replied to SarahÆs question. ôMagic can make turtle float in air like in water, then wind pushes along. Much like sea gulls, yes?ö
ôYeahàö Sarah now had a thoughtful expression on her face, one that her former classmates and teachers would recognizeà and cause them to run away screaming. ôCould Gidget produce the wind that pushed her along or did she use regular winds? Can she still do it now?ö
ôShe makes winds.ö After the girl chirped at the tortoise, a small whirlwind suddenly formed around them, one that increased to the point that leaves and small debris started to blow around them before stopping.
ôHmmàö The tone of SarahÆs voice was such at both the other girl and the tortoise looked back at her. Seeing the smile on the American girlÆs face, they both were struck with a feeling of apprehension.
Hintata City, Kanagawa Prefecture
Metro Tokyo, Japan
ôReady, Nyamo, Gidget?ö The American girl was doing her best not to giggle maniacally, but it was a near thing.
The last two days had past in a flurry of preparations, complicated by the fact that they could not let anyone else know what they were doing û grown-ups had this real tendency to be party poopers, in SarahÆs experience. ThatÆs why they were doing this now on the far side of the storage shed out of sight of the main house, while everyone was still hung over and asleep in their beds after the New YearÆs celebrations.
ôReady, Sarah.ö The islander girl replied, but with a worried expression on her face. Gidget æmyuhÆed in response, the same look on the giant reptile as well.
The two girls and the tortoise were sitting in a large steel wire basket, one used to transport material by forklift. As such, it was large enough for the three of them (if the girls stayed kneeling, the sides came up to their mid-chests and it was long enough to lay down in), a large compressed gas tank, and some other supplies. Right now, the basket had several large weather balloons attached to it with rope, a pair of the meter and a half globes at each corner for a total of eight balloons. Filling the balloons quietly had been the hardest problem û helium tended to shriek as it was released from the tank, but by releasing it slowly, it was doable.
In the basket with the trio was what Sarah called the emergency gear û two more balloons of two meters size, with enough lift capacity to break somoneÆs fall, if they were petite girl sized. Sarah had rigged the balloons to be quickly filled with the helium tank in the basket and attached to the heavy riggers belt and carabineers both girls were right now wearing and attached to safety lines in case they had to bail out, but she had no plans of abandoning ship, not if it meant leaving Gidget behind. She had no intention to telling her fellow passengers this though.
Scrounging up the materials had been, if not childÆs play, fairly easy. The basket had been in the shed with NyamoÆs boat, and the weather balloons had been packaged and on the shed shelves as well, the surplus of one of SuÆs experiments. After reading the lift capacity on the packaging and doing the math involved, Sarah decided that her plan was doable, if they could get their hands on some lighter-than-air compressed gas tanks. It was here that Nyamo did her bit, as she nonchalantly walked up to SuÆs ominously blinking Alarm Panel of Doom! next to the entry door of her outdoor research lab storage area and casually typed in a sixteen digit code. The panel beeped, the light flashed green and the door clicked open. When an incredulous Sarah asked her how she had done it, Nyamo merely smiled and said she had seen Su do it once, and that she had a good memory. The only problem had been finding the correct compressed gas to use; there were hydrogen gas tanks there, presumably used in welding, but Sarah did not want to do a replay of the Hindenburg disaster and grabbed a couple of helium tanks instead, pulling them out of the shed on a dolly the two girls had found there as well.
Once the balloons were full, the girls led Gidget into the basket. Normally the tortoise would not have been able to see very well from inside the basket, but Sarah had taken some wire snips and cut a hole in the side wall big enough for Gidget to stick her head through and look around. After the tortoise was on-board, the emergency gear and a couple of knapsacks of snacks, water, and other items were loaded. After that, the two girls jumped into the floating basket straining against the two ropes keeping them grounded. Sarah and Nyamo then adjusted the two fabric and wooden frames attached to the sides of the basket for the purposes of both propulsion and steering. Right now they were flat against the sides of the basket, but they could be pulled open for navigation purposes.
Looking around, Sarah could see that everything was set; taking hold of the half-looped knotted rope at the head of the basket, the American girl turned to see her compatriot do the same at the stern. Smiling encouragingly, Sarah started counting down, ôOK, on three nowà oneà twoà three!ö Yanking the knots free the basket began to slowly rise, clearing the roof level of the shed after a few moments.
Working quickly, Sarah and Nyamo started adjusting the side sails. With her extensive experience with her sail boat, Nyamo was a natural at this, and soon enough, the basket with the two girls and the tortoise turned toward Hinata City, and catching the morning on-shore wind, began to travel at a decent clip, their altitude stabilizing at a hundred feet above ground level.
Turning toward Nyamo, Sarah was surprised to see her friend smiling widely; with the wind ruffling her hair, she almost looked like a different person then the somber girl she was used to.
ôAre we having fun or what?ö Sarah grinned, only to be surprised at the response she did get.
ôMyuhmyuhMYUH!ö GidgetÆs head was sticking out of the hole, and both girls could not mistake the giant grin on the tortoiseÆs face as she watched the ground go by below them. ôMYUUUHHH!ö The girls both burst out laughing at the sheer joy they could hear in their animal friendÆs calls.
Hintata City, Kanagawa Prefecture
Metro Tokyo, Japan
ôOh God, IÆm sooo tired. We had so much fun today, didnÆt we girls?ö Sarah asked her two friends. Nyamo gave a hum in agreement, while Gidget chirped shortly in response as they walked along the forest path toward the Sou.
The trio had quite a blast in their aerial travels that day. The morning on-shore wind had pushed them along the outskirts of Hinata City toward the hills that ringed the town. Using some careful steering, and with a judicious gust or two of magical wind from Gidget, the three travelers had a wonderful time sight seeing some of the forest and mountain areas around their town. Sarah had been more than a little tempted to land the basket and go for a walkabout, but they only had so much helium in the balloons and even with the tank had brought along there would be a chance they could not get airborne again if they let some lift gas out of the balloons to land. So instead at about noontime they had turned the basket around and flew back toward Hinata City.
At about the time they were floating over the city limits, they had noticed there was a parade going on at the main street of the town. Carefully steering, the girls managed to stay a couple of blocks to the side of the parade, but still close enough to be able to watch it through the binoculars Sarah had brought along. Both girls had an attack of the giggles at the sight of the crowd of men carrying portable shrines on palanquin platforms, dressed in traditional fundoshi underwear and nothing else. Given it was New YearÆs Day and cold and windy, it looked very uncomfortable.
Noticing that the wind was starting to reverse into an off-shore breeze toward the ocean, the girls decided it was time to call it a day, but not before floating at a relatively lower altitude over a hillside city park playground filled with young children. When an observant boy pointed to the sky and cried out in surprise and delight, the girls soon found themselves the center of attention for a large group of cheering children and some adults. The girls waved as they went by and Gidget called out as well, but soon enough they were back at the Hinata-sou.
With some more work with the sails and GidgetÆs magical wind, the basket was able to wind up almost where they had started that morning, behind the Hinata-sou. However, they came up a little short and had to land in a clearing with a large bolder in it a short distance from the treeline closest to the house. Rather than completely tiring Gidget out by asking for more magic wind, they decided to touch down there.
Once the basket touched the ground, Sarah and Nyamo quickly deflated the balloons, pulling open the quick purge valves. Once the balloons were all flat, they folded them and tossed them into the basket, rolling the helium tank on top of them so they would stay put. Deciding to leave everything in place to be dealt with the next day, the girls grabbed their knapsacks and began to walk back to the house at a slow pace, staying behind their tortoise friend.
ôI donÆt know about you guys, but I just want to grab something to eat and crash. I think IÆm probably going to sleep until tomorrow.ö Today had been the most fun Sarah had had in a long time. ôIÆm glad we were able to do this, Nyamo, Gidget,ö the blonde said as they cleared the treeline and entered the back yard of the house.
ôDo what, Sarah-chan?ö The blonde had been looking back at Nyamo, so she was startled to see the resident adults of the Sou standing in front of them. The Dork was standing in front with Kanako a step behind and beside him, and her father was standing besides Haruka. The younger teen residents were standing in a huddle a few steps behind the adults.
ôUmmà exploring the hills. You saw the note we left, right?ö Sarah was thinking fast, inwardly grateful that she had left a note pinned to the managerÆs door saying æGone exploring the hillsides with Nyamo and Gidget. We have our gear, food and phones. Back by dinner. SarahÆ.
ôAnd why didnÆt you tell one of us you were leaving for the day?ö This question came from Haruka.
ôBecause you all were snoring loud enough to be sawing logs, and probably more hung over than sailors after shore leave after last nightÆs party.ö That part was true enough, as Kitsune had managed to get the manager into a drinking contest rematch by the time the younger residents had left to go to sleep. The trickster still looked hung over as it was.
ôSo why didnÆt you answer your phone?ö Kanako asked, a skeptical look on her face.
Pulling out her cell phone from her back pocket, Sarah keyed the display on and cringed to see five missed calls and two messages. Looking closer, she could see the reason for the missed calls. Flipping the phone forward, the American girl showed the phone to everyone. ôBecause I accidently set my phone to æsilentÆ and didnÆt hear any of your calls?ö
Keitaro looked from his relatives to his nominal boss, silent questions crossing between them. Seeing that they were leaving the ball in his court yet again, the manager looked back at the two girls. Sarah had that guiltless look on her face that caused the hair on the back of his neck to rise, while Nyamo had her normal quizzical expression. And Gidgetà he was not quite good enough to read a tortoiseÆs mind and expression just yet.
ôSo you donÆt do anything illegal, immoral, or dangerous?ö Now concentrating on the American girl, she innocently blink-blinked before responding.
ôWellà ænoÆ to the first two, and as for dangerous, there was no one shooting at us this time, so I guess we were OK.ö Keitaro winced slightly at that, but his two relatives and the subject of their questioning still picked up on it.
ôGo wash up, Sarah-chan, Nyamo-chan. ItÆs almost time for dinner. We can continue this talk after we eat.ö Keitaro turned and started to walk back to the house. ôAnd please make sure your phone ringer is on, OK?ö
ôNo problem.ö Sarah slowly let out a breath she did not know she was holding as the adults turned and walked back into the house, the other tenants following behind them. Looking at Nyamo and Gidget, they both looked back at her with worried expressions on their faces. ôYou guys worry too much. WeÆll be OK, I promise.ö Turing the phone ringer on, she started back toward the house when the phone dinged, showing she had just received a new text message with a photo. Opening the message, she came to an abrupt halt.
The picture was of the balloons and basket, taken from below and to the side, with Sarah and Nyamo visible and recognizable, waving toward the picture taker. GidgetÆs head was visible and turned toward the camera as well. It appeared to have been taken at the hilltop park they had passed before arriving home.
Along with the picture was the following message in English text: ûMiyuki and Natsumi were at the park with friends today and sent this to us. No one was hurt and nothing serious occurred today, and you didnÆt really lie to us, but things could have gone worse. I could see you all had fun today, so I donÆt want to be a total kill joy. WeÆll discuss your punishment later, but it wonÆt be as serious as it could have been. Keitaro Urashima.
Sighing, Sarah tucked her phone away. Walking toward the house again, she grumbled under her breath, ôStill totally worth it though.ö
end Ch 37