On a peaceful day in Shibuya, Ran Kotobuki and her friends were walking to a cosmetics store. Kotobuki, a girl with bleach blonde hair, permed into curves, with a red streak on the right side of her head, was looking around the shelves, until she found the perfect accessory for her hair.
"Oh, wow! This is uber-hot!" She said, picking up a long red and green extension.
But then, she looked at the price of the extensions. She was mortified and angry, after seeing a lot of money on it.
"AW! I can't afford it!" She whined, as Miyu patted her back.
Miyu, a girl with short blonde hair, wearing her school uniform and pink cardigan, said to her, "Oh, don't worry. It'll still be around, before the sale begins."
Kotobuki sobbed, "But I can't wait long enough! Damn it!"
She groaned, as she was on her knees, "I want that extension… So badly… Dad said I had my allowance, this week… and I still have not enough money."
Aya, a girl with long black hair, cut up to her shoulders, wearing her school uniform with white sweater, said to Ran, "Maybe you should get yourself a job."
Ran moaned, "I can't… I couldn't even handle a steady job. There's so much in the world that I can do, but I just needed the money…"
The girls left the shop, as Ran grumbled, "Damn it! And just when I was hoping to change my hairstyle, too…"
They walked together, as Kotobuki adjusted her blue cardigan, over her school uniform, said to Aya, "Say, Aya… You ever worry about getting dolled up?"
Aya said, "No. I sometimes worry about how to keep myself steady. But now and then, I tend to keep myself beautiful and smart, at the same time. Why do you ask?"
Ran moaned, "I wish I had your brains, Aya…"
Miyu barked, "Well, maybe you should be studying, instead of shopping."
Ran barked back, "Oh, yeah? A Gal has got to keep herself noticeable, in case someone, other than boys in town, try to think twice about seeing me… "The Great Ran Kotobuki!" I want to stay glamorous, rather than plain!"
She stopped, as Miyu and Aya walked off. Miyu stopped and saw Ran, who was mesmerized by the huge building in the mall. It had pink and blue LED lights, with the sign, flashing in red fluorescent. Hypnotized by the signage and the colors, Kotobuki stepped inside, speaking a hypnotic tone, "Yes… You called?"
Miyu & Aya went to the entranceway, as Miyu asked, "What is wrong with Ran? Miyu just turned to her, and she's gone!"
Aya said, "She must be inside this store."
The sign said "Shibuya Cosmo". Aya replied that she never heard of that place. Miyu agreed and said, "Well, it sounded weird. Miyu never heard of this place, before. There were no ads, no slogans, no grand opening parties, or anything that leads to a new store."
Aya said, "Should we find Ran?"
Miyu nodded and said, in complete concern, "Yes. Let's find her and get out of here."
They walked in the store, through the glass double doors. The doors shut, as the sign glowed from red to blue.
Submitted for your approval, enter a weird store, in the mall of Japan. One place, where everything you desire is there. Of course, in the plain view, the store is normal, which leads to plain sight or a shocking dilemma.
Miss Ran Kotobuki, a Gal of Shibuya, all-around procrastinator, and fashion fan, is about to enter a world of her own traits, but whatever you do, don't find these items labeled under "B" for Bizarre. Miyu Yamazaki & Aya Hoshino will reunite with their best friend, shortly, with drastic changes to her personality. And in a moment, you will see one of the biggest changes in Shibuya History… a brand-new Ran Kotobuki.
Tales of the Bizarre in:
In the aisles, Kotobuki looked around and saw a line of lipstick and mascara, all priced at around 250 Yen.
"Holy crap! This is a great deal! Lipstick, extensions, makeup, even clothes! I feel like I am in paradise!" She cheered.
Miyu and Aya were distracted by a rack of blouses that they saw. Aya said that the black one she found is too cute. The blouse had a small bunny on it, with glitter all around it. Miyu held up a purple and mauve blouse, with the word "Pretty" on it. They were too amazed by the line of clothing that they forgot about Ran.
Speaking of which, Kotobuki looked at the hair extensions in another aisle. She then found the same extension that she wanted, but at a very low price.
"WHA?! Amazing! The craftsmanship of this hair extension is marvelous… but I figured, at this price, it's a knock-off."
A man said to her, "Oh? And would you like to buy it?"
She turned around and saw a man with glasses, sporting a white shirt and brown pants. He had slick brown hair and a small goatee on his chin. Kotobuki asked him, hazily, "Who the hell are you?"
The manager said, "Forgive me, Miss. But I am the manager of Shibuya Cosmo. And I was eyeing on you, the minute you entered my store."
He then asked, as he recognized her hairstyle, "Incidentally, are you Ran Kotobuki?"
Ran replied, "Yeah. What are you, my fan, or just a stalker? Listen, buddy! Just because you owned this swanky store, it doesn't mean you can fawn over me. I mean-."
He halted her and said, "Say no more. In fact, how about you try one of our designer shirts on?"
"I don't know…"
He showed her a small baby blue baby-T and said, "Here. You can try it on, and buy this."
Ran barked, "No. I am not buying that… even if it is awesome. But I want this hair extension. I was eyeing for this, the minute I-."
He hastily said, "It's half off, and I'll give you the hair extension that you wanted, for FREE."
Ran cheered, "SOLD! They're both awesome."
He said, "Good. Would you mind stepping into the changing booth, over there?"
Ran said, as she approached the changing booth, "Not at all."
She shut the door and locked it. She then said, "Just make sure no perverts get a peek at me. No one views a panty shot of Ran Kotobuki and live to tell about it!"
The manager sneered, "Oh, they won't…"
He then locked the changing room door, on the outside, turning the lock.
Meanwhile, Miyu & Aya continued to look at the clothing racks, as Miyu said, "Miyu feels like she's forgotten something."
Aya then said, "Oh, yeah. Ran. She must be in this store."
Miyu then noticed the manager and called to him, "Excuse me, sir?"
He asked, "Ah, you two ladies… What can I do for you?"
Miyu asked, "Have you seen our friend, Ran? She was just here… and she-."
"Nope. Doesn't ring a bell."
Aya asked, "You should know her… Bleach blond hair, with a red highlight, pink nails, blue sweater, and high heel shoes…"
The manager said, "Oh, right. I think she left, already."
Miyu grumbled, "Darn. She had to ditch us!"
She marched off, as Aya bowed to the manager. He asked Aya, "Uh, would you like to buy something?"
Aya replied, "Uh, no, no. I rather not. We should go."
She left, as the manager smirked.
One hour later, Miyu and Aya walked together, heading home. Miyu was completely worried that Ran already left, when it turns out that she was still in the store. She said to Aya that it was not Ran's intention to stay all night, except when it comes to food. Plus, she knew that she has an exam, coming up.
Aya replied, "She'll be fine. She'll give us the call on her cellphone. Imagine with Ran would say, after she is left behind."
Miyu held her cellphone and said, "You're probably right. But it serves her right, for ditching us for this place… that we never knew of. Incidentally, did you heard of that place?"
"No. I heard that there was a new store opening in the mall, three months ago, but it wasn't a beauty shop. I just wish I knew what it was. More or less, I guess the store that was originally opening was shut down."
"You're absolutely right. We better see Ran, in the morning… before she calls us, tonight."
They headed home, without Ran. Eventually, Kotobuki never called back.
The next morning, Miyu went to Ran's house, as she was about to knock on the door. She thought, "It's weird that she never called back. I wish Yamato-kun heard about his sister's disappearance."
But as she knocked, Ran appeared, dressed in her slate gray school uniform, still with her hairstyle, but with her socks straight and neat, which used to be loose and baggy. Miyu asked, "Uh, Ran…"
Ran asked, "What's up? Something wrong?"
Miyu scolded, "You know damn well! Where were you? You entered that store and you, all of a sudden, stayed there, without calling us! We were worried sick about you!"
Ran thought, and then reflected, "Why, Miyu. I was busy admiring the store that I lost track of time. You see, after I purchased my items, I decided to stay here and do a little window shopping. After that, the manager was nice enough to give me a discount on my next purchase. Looks like I'll be earning my money on this one."
She giggled, as she walked off. Miyu followed her, and then she asked in complete confusion, "WHAT? Earn your money? I thought your father cut your allowance, until next month?"
Ran said, "Oh, that. I asked him if I can have an advance on it. Unfortunately, he said NO, but he also said that if I do well on my exams, today, he'll pay me for every passing grade I make!"
She then felt rattled and said, "Of course… First time I asked him, he must've learned how to break me, with that giant swing of his. How mean was he?"
Miyu was flabbergasted, "Wh-Wh-WHAT?"
"But I still love him. I can still be what I am, as long as I go to that store, again. But I must aced the exams, today!"
Miyu then protested, "NO! How can you? You can't even study well, and speaking of… You didn't do a damn thing!"
Ran ignored her and said, "Eh, what do you know? Never underestimate a Gal's power, when it comes to knowledge. Knowledge is power, Miyu."
She and Miyu walked to school, as she was confused, "Oh, Ran…"
At school, during the brisk morning, at about 10am, Ran was studying like a working machine, writing on her exam, like it was nothing. Aya watched on from her desk, seeing Ran writing with her pencil, without ever having to snooze or take a break, after doing a test. She thought to herself that Ran is not acting like herself, this time. But then again, it was only a one-time fling, since she wants to graduate like the rest of her friends. Aya grew worried, but concerned over Kotobuki, who was still studying.
"And the worst part was… she never asked me to borrow my notes. This isn't like her, at all," she thought.
One hour later, at P.E., outside in the track, the girls were in their white shirts and blue shorts, while the boys were in white shirts and red shorts. Miyu went by Aya, who was sitting on the bleachers. She asked her about earlier this morning, concerned over Ran Kotobuki, who was studying and writing like crazy. Aya responded, "I can't say… Ran is not her happy-go-lucky self. I mean, look at her."
Ran was volleying the volleyball to her classmates, as Aya said, "Look at her. She can do P.E., like normally, but tests and exams… She didn't bother asking me or you, about the notes for the exams. And Mr. Nakanishi, not once, struck at her."
"Miyu is rather baffled." She said, "Ran isn't her old self… Could it be like before?"
"It's obviously nothing. I mean, we've seen her acting like her old self."
"Something tells me that Ran isn't herself. But that is just a ploy. She's obviously faking it, just to give her parents some money. Miyu thinks it is a farce."
"Should we ask her?"
"By all means. Let's."
Miyu and Aya got up from the bleachers, as they walked to Ran, who was holding the volleyball. She turned to Miyu & Aya and said, "Oh, hello. Why Miyu… Aya…"
Miyu asked, "Tell me. About the test we had, today, how did you do?"
Ran giggled, "I haven't got the tests back, but Mr. Nakanishi says that I did well… at sucking. How rude!"
Miyu gasped, as she was shocked, "HUH? You didn't call him Naka-Teach?"
Ran scoffed, "Duh. Why the hell would I say that? In any case, what's up?"
Miyu then asked, "Uh… Miyu was wondering… Would you be interested in spending the night with us, in Aya's house?"
Ran said, without hesitation, "Yes. But Aya's place is droll."
"Droll!?" Aya gasped.
Ran asked them, "How about at my place, tonight? Yamato would be happy to see you."
Miyu blushed and said, "Oh, thanks… Okay. I suppose your house is okay."
She whispered to Aya, "Did she just insult you?"
Aya said, "Yep. She did."
Ran left to meet with her fellow classmates, as Miyu thought, "But her behavior… and the way she spoke. It's like she's become a controlled person."
She grew suspicious, as Aya said, "Oh… Suppose we ask her if we can hang in Shibuya, while we're at it?"
Miyu asked Ran, "Hey! You want to hang out, after school… in Shibuya?"
Ran smiled and said, "Oh, no, thanks… Mr. Nakanishi gave me afterschool classes, for today. But we can still have our slumber party. Okay?"
Miyu nodded in nervousness and said flatly, "Uh… Yeah…"
She growled, "This isn't like her… It's not like her, at all… It's got to be a phase. I mean, it's only been 6 hours."
Aya asked Miyu, "Did you say something?"
Miyu giggled, "Oh, Miyu was talking to herself."
That night, Miyu and Aya came over to Ran's house, for a sleepover. Miyu was growing suspicious over Kotobuki's behavior. Aya was in her purple pajamas, as she asked Ran, who was in her blue shirt and white shorts, "So, I was wondering… How did you know the answers to the exams?"
Ran said, "What do you mean? Are you saying I cheated? I'm just lucky."
Aya smiled and said, "Good. Because here I thought you'd change, again."
Ran snapped, "Oh, don't be ridiculous."
She then spoke in a flat tone, "I never change."
She went to the bathroom, as Aya whispered, "Huh."
Miyu said, as she returned, "Aya. Miyu talked to Yamato… and it's like Ran is a new girl. You wouldn't believe what he said about her."
Aya was nervous, as she asked, "What did he say?"
"Well, it happened before we got in."
She explained to her that Yamato noticed that his sister, Ran, was working around the house, cleaning the floors, washing the clothes, cleaning the windows, doing the dishes, and cleaning her room. When asked about this behavior, Yamato asked her if she was doing anything to butter up for their parents.
Yamato asked, "Hey, Ran, are you trying to get on their good side?"
Ran replied, in a flat tone, "I just do this, since it feels like I need responsibility."
He responded, "Oh, okay…"
Yamato then asked if he would assist her, but…
Ran shoved him, as he went closer to her. She said, in a flat tone, again, "I can handle on my own."
She returned to her chores, as he moaned, "Man… She didn't have to shove me."
Aya gasped, "She shoved her own brother?"
Miyu said, "It's like she's different! She'd never attack her own family member!"
Aya replied, "I see what you mean… Ran… She's… She's like a whole new person."
But she shook her head and said, "No. You're right. It's all a phase. One day, and she'll be back to her old self, again."
Miyu said, "You're right."
Ran returned, as she asked, "Hey, guys. Were you talking about me?"
Miyu gasped, as she whimpered, "N-No! We weren't! We were concerned over your newfound behavior!"
Ran blushed and said, "Thanks, Miyu."
She then asked, "Hey, guys. How about I get us some snacks?"
Aya smiled and said, "Sure. Do we have any?"
Ran said, "As a matter of fact, I was making tea and cookies, right now. I had problems with the stove, but at the very least, the tea should be done in… two minutes."
The last two words she said were in a flat tone. Miyu gasped, as she grew concerned. Ran left, as Miyu whispered, "It's serious than we thought…"
Aya remarked, "Maybe Ran is busy baking something for us. I mean, I tried it, too. But I burned myself. Maybe she may have something burned in her skin."
Miyu said, "Yeah. Maybe there's something different about Ran, and her behavior. I think we may know what it is."
Ran returned with the tea and cookies and said, "Hey, guys. Sorry I was late. I nearly burned myself on the oven. It didn't hurt, one bit."
The side of her left hand had a faint burn mark, but it was not covered with a bandage.
Miyu then said, as she was relieved, "Typical Ran…"
Ran asked, "You guys need some tea?"
She served the tea, as Miyu said, to herself, while having some tea, "And here I thought Ran had changed… drastically."
That night, the girls were sleeping. As everything was quiet, Ran got out of bed and went to the bathroom. She then said, "I need to go. Man…"
She left her room and went to the bathroom door. She paused and said, "Maybe I need-eed to fix myself up, be-before I go tomorrow, to that new st-st-st-store."
She suddenly started to twitch and stutter, as she was entering the bathroom.
Minutes later, Ran felt refreshed, as she talked normally, "Ah, done. Bedtime."
She returned to her room. However, she approached a laptop on her desk and turned it on, setting it into low-light mode. She then went in to the internet and searched for "Firmware Updates". She found a website to "Shibuya Cosmo" and clicked on the "Update" button, and set it to Automatic Update. She then said, as she was nodding off, "Firmware… updating… Now loading… update on file… #ZX79… #1S4E… Processing… Pro… cess… ing… Zzz…"
She dropped her head and was snoozing. Thirty minutes later, Kotobuki woke up and felt refreshed. She then giggled, "Update successfully complete!"
She turned off the laptop and closed it. She then said, "I feel refreshed, now. Bedtime."
She went back to bed, and then fell asleep.
The next day, at school, Mr. Nakanishi, a man with brown hair and a green sweater, called to Kotobuki, "Kotobuki?"
Ran sat up and said, "Sir?"
He gave her the results of the exams, from yesterday. He then said, "I don't know how you done it, but I am amazed…"
Kotobuki said, in a flat tone, "I live to study."
The homeroom teacher glared at her and said, "Don't push it…"
She returned to her seat, as Nakanishi thought, "Huh? No Naka-Teach or witty remarks? And yesterday, she insisted on the remedial classes, after she did so well. This is not like Kotobuki… at all… But I think I heard it all, before."
Kotobuki got a perfect score in her exams, which was a first, since Kotobuki hardly does any studying, whatsoever, unless food, money, and even privileges are involved. Aya grew suspicious, as she looked at Kotobuki's exam paper, from far away. She gasped, "No way… A 100?"
At P.E., one hour later, Miyu heard the news from Aya, who was running in the track.
"WHAT? She got a 100 in the exams?" She gasped.
Aya said, "I… I didn't understand it. I didn't believe it, since she never asked any of us."
"It's a first. Miyu is perplexed by this sudden shock."
As they were running, Ran was preparing to hold the shot-put. However, she had difficulty holding the heavy black ball. She then said, as she was adjusting her hand, trying to make a grasp on the ball that her hand is tricky.
"I wish I can hold this metal shot-put in hand," she whispered.
She achieved at holding the ball, as Miyu and Aya saw Ran, holding the ball, with great difficulty.
Miyu asked, "I wonder why she is trying the shot-put."
The coach called to them, "Yamazaki! Hoshino! Pick up the pace!"
Miyu and Aya called, "Yes, sir!"
They continued running, as Ran began to throw the shot-put. But…
"Ow." She said in a flat tone, "I am okay."
The shot-put flew up and landed on her hand.
And it smashed her left hand, crushing the bones inside. Miyu stopped running, as she gasped, "RAN!"
Ran was screaming in pain, as she held her injured hand. The others were worried, as the PE teacher tried to examine her. She moaned, "NO! Get away! I'm fine!"
Miyu said, "Oh, Ran, don't be ridiculous! Let them examine your hand!"
Ran shouted, "NO! NO!"
Aya asked, "But how will you hold a cellphone, in that hand?"
Ran said in a flat tone, "I have ways."
Aya thought, "Huh? She has ways? What did she mean?"
Just then, two men appeared from the stands, as they approached Ran. They were dressed in black and red business suits. They told the other students to clear the area.
One man said, "Please, we'll take her to be treated."
Miyu shouted, "She needs to go see the nurse!"
The second man said, "There's no time. Miss Kotobuki, let's go."
Kotobuki kept talking in a flat tone, "My hand. It's broken. My hand. My hand."
Miyu thought, "Ran?"
She looked at her hand, from the distance, and showed a tear in her skin, without blood. She then shuddered, "Gross… and she's not bleeding… What's going on?"
The P.E. teacher called, as Ran was being put in a black van, "Hey, wait! You can't take our student away!"
The first man in the suit said, "Sir, if you don't back off, we are liable to sue you."
Miyu cried, "RAN!"
The van was locked, as Miyu was crying to her best friend, "WAIT! WHY ARE YOU TAKING HER? RAN! RAN!"
The first man said, "Miss, she'll be fine. She will come back to you, soon."
They entered the van and drove away. Aya was completely stunned, as Miyu was in tears, "Ran… Why did they take her?"
Aya panicked, "Ran Kotobuki has been kidnapped!"
Miyu sobbed, "Ran… Miyu didn't want you to be captured."
Aya held her shoulders and said, "Don't worry. Maybe Yamato would know about Ran, after we tell him about-."
Miyu shouted, "WE CAN'T! If Yamato knows about Ran being abducted, he'll hate me! We can't tell anyone, except for-."
"WHAT?" Taizo Kotobuki, Ran's father, who is a police commissioner, shouted, "My daughter was abducted, during Gym Class?"
Taizo had white hair and a gray business suit, and he was about 50 years old. He then sobbed, "My own daughter, a future cop from our generation of Kotobukis, striving to make Japan a safe place, and she gets abducted by two men…"
He wailed in tears, "TAIZO IS CRYING IN PAIN!"
Aya growled at Miyu, "So… You had to tell him?"
Miyu said, "What? My Yamato's a policeman, and his dad is the commissioner! We had no choice."
Yamato asked Miyu, "Miyu, how did it happen?"
Miyu explained to him that Ran was playing with a shot-put, but fell backwards, crushing her hand. However, two men took her away, putting her in a van. Miyu was even shocked, since Ran was speaking in a monotone voice, and she even has no blood.
Yamato said, "Oh, my god… Ran isn't acting like herself?"
"No. But she has been acting strange." Miyu said.
Aya replied, "She's been speaking in-."
"A monotone?" Yamato asked.
Aya gasped, "How did you know?"
Yamato said, "When Ran was getting ready, I was lecturing to her about being late. And she said that she is being productive. And she spoke in a robotic monotone."
Miyu gasped, "A monotone?!"
Aya gasped, "Robotic?!"
He asked them, "Do you know what's going on with Ran?"
Miyu said, "Miyu doesn't know…"
Taizo barked, "Be that as it may, I want you to find my daughter and bring her back! And if she is acting suspicious and weird, you two report to Yamato or me."
He then bellowed, "You two! I'm making you honorary detectives, in order to rescue Ran Kotobuki, my daughter! Also, if any, find out what made her become so stiff and robotic. I miss her old ways that I would continue to lecture her about her future."
Yamato sighed, "Dad… Ran will be fine."
He turned to Miyu and asked, "Miyu, will you help us? Mom and Dad would be very upset, if anything happens to Ran."
Miyu blushed, as she saluted, "You can count on me! Inspector Yamazaki is on the case! Miyu will find Ran, for you, my sweet Yamato-kun!"
Aya saluted, in embarrassment, and then giggled.
But then, Ran came through the front door and called, "Hello! Family?"
Miyu and Aya gasped, as Ran was in the front room, "Ran?!"
Ran asked, "What is going on?"
Her hand was bandaged up, and then said, "Yeah, about this afternoon, those two men were nice enough to give me a ride to the hospital. They said that the nurse's office isn't enough."
Miyu barked, "Don't say that like you don't know! We saw you being kidnapped!"
Aya said, "Yeah! We were worried about you!"
Ran said, "I'm fine. Besides, it's just a sprain."
Miyu yelled, "Just a sprain, my ass! That's a fractured hand!"
Ran then spoke in a monotone, "It's fine. Leave it at that."
She then said, "Look, I don't need this. I have shopping to do, tomorrow."
She approached Taizo and kissed him on the cheek, "Good night, father."
She left to her room, as Taizo was baffled. Yamato said, "Okay… what the hell was that about?"
He said to Miyu, "Miyu, Aya, keep an eye on her. Okay?"
Aya nodded and said, "Right."
Miyu replied, "Miyu is on the case."
She whispered to Aya, "Be at her house, by 7am, sharp. We'll have to watch her, and see where she is going."
They left Ran's house, as Yamato grew worried about his sister.
The next morning, Miyu & Aya were outside, wearing brown coats and hats, wearing dark shades. Ran stepped out, in her purple coat, wearing white platform shoes, a dark purple skirt, and a yellow leopard print top. Miyu & Aya crept behind their friend, as Kotobuki was walking off. They stayed in the distance, far away from Kotobuki, avoiding suspicion.
Minutes later, Ran arrived at the Shibuya Mall, as Miyu & Aya hid behind a ficus plant. Ran then entered Shibuya Cosmo, as Miyu gasped, "No… She's going back to that store? I mean, we never knew of-. Wait a minute! The other day, she went inside that store… and she didn't return, until the next morning."
Aya whispered, "Which means…"
They went behind a tree, mounted by the fountains, removed their disguises and were dressed in their casual attire. Miyu was in a pink blouse with a yellow skirt, while Aya was dressed in a baby blue tanktop with denim shorts. They went to the entrance, but were stopped by two female greeters, wearing matching pink and white frilly gowns, with silver and gold flashing buttons on the chest. Miyu asked, "What is this?"
Both girls, one with long red hair and one with shoulder-length royal blue wavy hair, greeted to the girls, "Welcome to Shibuya Cosmo!"
Miyu said, "Excuse us. But we need to see our friend."
The girl with red hair said, "Would you like to come in? Our products are on sale, this week, at 50% off."
Aya gasped, "50% OFF? Wow! I could get some new mascara!"
Miyu growled, "Aya…"
"Get out of our way!"
The girl with wavy blue hair said, "Hi… Welcome to Shibuya Cosmo! Would you like to come in? We have acrylic nails, priced at 25% off the regular price, when you buy two bottles of nail polish."
Miyu cringed, "Nail polish… with fake nails…"
Aya whispered, "Miyu…"
Miyu sobbed, "AAACK! MIYU CAN'T TAKE IT, ANYMORE!"
Aya grabbed her, as she apologized, "Sorry, but my friend is too energetic on sales."
Miyu wept tears from her eyes, trying to resist, "My nails needed more gleam and shine… and I need more."
Aya then noticed something on the back of the red haired girl's neck. She whispered, "Hey, have you noticed something on her neck?"
Miyu said, "Why yes… And it's not connected to anywhere."
It was a small black cord, from the back of the neck, connected to down below, in the waist area. Miyu then whispered that these greeters are robots.
Aya whispered, "I think you mean androids. But yeah… Did this store immediately, and apparently, upgrade their service?"
The robot greeters continued to greet Miyu and Aya. They kept saying "Welcome to Shibuya Cosmo!" and even give out offers for sales of cosmetic items. Miyu was annoyed by their smiley and perky stance that she was about to fume, until…
One girl dropped her arm on the floor and started to beep. The other girl started to shake profusely, beeping incoherently. "Malfun-oned… Cosomosos… mos mos mosmos…"
The manager then arrived, as he deactivated the robots. Aya then sighed and said, "Thank you. We nearly got scared by that."
He said, "Oh, it's fine. Oh, say… Aren't you the girls from the other day?"
Miyu nodded and said, "Yeah. Our friend just came by your shop, and we were worried about her."
The manager said, "Yeah, well… What do you think of our greeters?"
Aya said, "They look cute… But they somehow seemed familiar. Sort of."
Miyu said, "Plus, they know how to please a customer, with offers of mascara, nails, lip gloss, foundation, and even hair extensions."
"Well, we wanted to please everyone in Shibuya. And even the great Ran Kotobuki is a regular here. Why not you two, as well?"
Miyu shivered, "Uh… no… I think I'd…"
She asked him, "May we see Ran, our friend? We wanted to talk to her, about yesterday."
He then replied, "Sorry. But she wishes to talk to me, about a job here. In any case, you go home. I shall deal with her, today. You may see her, tomorrow, when she gets home."
Miyu pleaded, "But-."
He shooed them away and said, "Shoo, shoo. Now, we do not want any problems. You're more than welcome to shop here, if you like. And as for our robot greeters, we'll repair them, for tomorrow."
He locked the doors, as Miyu and Aya were confused. Aya asked, "Did we just get kicked out of this place?"
Miyu said, "Yeah… Miyu thinks this jerk is hiding something."
"You don't think-? NO! He wouldn't be the one that kidnapped Ran… right?"
"I can't be sure. But we have to tell Yamato-kun about this…"
She thought, as Aya looked on, behind the window, "Strange… This man who owns this store… He must be the one that kidnapped Ran… But I don't know. He looks innocent."
Aya gasped, "LOOK!"
Miyu looked at the window, as she saw Ran, walking into the back room, with the manager. He let her go in, first, as he followed her. The door shut, as Aya was furious… seeing his lecherous grin on his face, before he shut the door.
"Why that… pervert!" Aya shouted.
Miyu said, "I am so confused… Miyu doesn't know if he's innocent or not… Maybe Ran has changed, for the better… or maybe…"
Aya barked, "Or maybe rabbits will wear my makeup!"
She meant that Ran was changed, because of him. She grabbed Miyu's arm and dragged her away, shouting, "We're going! Yamato has to hear this!"
Miyu cried, "Wha-wha-wait! Aya? Aya! Why are you mad?"
That afternoon, Yamato, in his police uniform, was worried, after Aya and Miyu told him what happened.
"Robots? A back room? Sales? This makes no sense… So, this guy you saw, do you have a description him?"
Miyu said, "He had slick brown hair, glasses, and a business suit, which has a brown vest, red tie, and dark blue blazer and pants. He also showed Ran to the door, in the back room, and he had a lecherous smile on his face. Could he be a pervert?"
He said, "I don't think so."
Aya barked, slamming her hand on the table, "That jerk! He has the gall to give Ran a job, with that devilish smirk on his face! Yamato, what can we do?"
Yamato said, "Well… You could try breaking in to the store. Shibuya Cosmo, right? But we can't go in, all willy-nilly."
Miyu asked, "Like stealth?"
Aya said, "You got it! We'll do it, at night!"
Yamato cried, "HEY, WAIT! YOU CAN'T GO AROUND BREAKING IN STORES, BECAUSE SIS IS IN-!"
He stopped and said, "Oh, wait… Yeah. I'll tell Mom and Dad about it. In the meantime, you have to find out what is going on, inside Shibuya Cosmo, before closing time. Oh, yeah. And you need to wear black, for this mission."
Aya nodded and said, "Right. Thanks."
Miyu blushed, as she hugged Yamato, "Oh, my Yamato! You are such a great man!"
Aya cried, "Miyu! We need to focus! Right now, we don't know what to do… Perhaps we should map out our plan, before we break in, all stealth-like."
Yamato then said, giving Miyu a gold key, "Here. Take this skeleton key. This'll open any store in Shibuya. But just so we clear, and not to ruin this store, I'm coming with you. It wouldn't be fair, if I let you girls go in, unsupervised."
Miyu said, as she blushed, "I've been there, before. Besides, you'd arrest me, right?"
Yamato said, "No… Someone else would… for breaking and entering."
Both girls gasped, as he concluded, "You girls follow my lead."
That night, at 9PM, most of Shibuya's stores were closing, at the mall. Yamato stepped in the mall, as he was accompanied by Miyu & Aya, dressed as janitors, with blue and denim overalls and white shirts. Aya's shoulder-length hair was done in a bun, as her hair bun was hidden in a janitor's hat. Both girls were wearing fake beards, as well. Yamato whispered to them, "Stay quiet, and don't make a sound. Shibuya Mall doesn't close until 10pm. I had to have the guards ask to have the security cameras turned off, until 11. So, once you find out what is going on, you have to hurry. Okay?"
Aya whispered, "Yes, sir."
He whispered, as he pointed at the back way. He said, "Shibuya Cosmo is close by. You two head in the back way, until I tell you to come out."
Miyu asked, "Shouldn't we pick up the trash in the Shibuya Cosmo?"
Yamato said, "NO. And there's a GOOD reason… If the manager sees you, through your disguise, then there's no telling what the guy will do to Ran."
They left to the back way, through the metal doors, as Yamato headed to the store. He stood on guard, as he waited for the store to close. Inside the dark hallways, Miyu & Aya removed their disguises and agreed to wait until Yamato gives the signal. Miyu and Aya removed their uniforms and changed into all-black clothing. Miyu painted herself in black makeup, to cover her face, as Aya refused to wear it.
"I'm not wearing that on my face. My hair will handle it."
She undid her hair and flowed over herself. Miyu asked, "Incidentally, how did you cut your hair?"
Aya said, "It was Otohata's idea. He said that I want to look more mature. So, I had to have my hair trimmed, up to my shoulders… but I think the stylist cut it, too short. Otohata, however, liked it, and said that he'd prefer me with longer hair. But he didn't mind it."
She pouted, "He said that he was joking about my hair…"
Miyu sighed, "Oh, brother…"
At 10pm, the manager left Shibuya Cosmo and locked the door. He then turned to Yamato and said, "Officer."
Yamato said, "Don't worry. I'll make sure no one breaks in."
The manager replied, "You do that. Good night."
He left the mall, as Yamato walked off, heading to the metal doors. He opened it and signaled to Miyu & Aya. The girls snuck in, as Yamato led them to the store that had Ran Kotobuki inside. He then opened the door to the store and whispered, "Remember, be back in one hour… I'll be waiting outside, at the parking lot. Good luck, saving my sister."
Miyu asked, "By the way, did you get a good look at him?"
Yamato replied, "Yes, I did. I'll have the boys look up on him, as soon as I give it to Dad. In the meantime…"
Aya whispered, "Come on…"
They went inside the store, as it was dark and quiet. Miyu then whispered, "So… Where was that back room, again?"
Aya found the door and said, "This must be it."
She used the skeleton key, and opened the door to the back room. She whispered to Miyu, "We're in… and we have 50 minutes to spare, until the cameras reactivate."
Miyu said, "And Yamato-kun has left, already. We find Ran, and we'll be sitting pretty."
But as they entered, Miyu turned on the light and found the back room, which is full of unused rolls of fabrics, paper, and one half of a female mannequin, with her left arm missing. She then said, as she was angry, "Damn! It's just a normal back room! Miyu isn't liking this… Ran could've left, already!"
Aya then noticed a door, in the back room, and held the doorknob. She then heard faint computer noises. She whispered, "Miyu. Miyu!"
Miyu asked, "What is it?"
Aya said, "I hear something… It's from in this room."
Aya opened the door, with the skeleton key, as it revealed to have a stairway heading downstairs. It was also pitch black. Aya shushed Miyu and said, "Follow me. And be careful…"
They went downstairs, as Aya closed the door.
Downstairs, Aya & Miyu found a huge dark room, with a faded ambience. It started to glow a bright pale blue, as they followed it. They continued to walk down the room's hallway, until they found a small room, full of body parts in a huge crate. Aya looked inside the crate and gasped, holding up a small left arm of a girl. She thought, "My goodness… That guy knows how to build robots…"
Miyu trembled, as she was upset, "This is creepy… I never knew the guy was such a doll creator… and… My god! Look at all these body parts!"
"They're made from 100% chrome and titanium. And I believe that they sport NO blood, whatsoever."
Miyu then finally figured it out, "No blood?! Then that means… Ran… She's a… No…"
She started to sob, as Aya said, "Don't worry… Even for Ran Kotobuki, she's still our friend, no matter what she is."
Aya then found another person, on a lab table, wearing a blue shirt and black skirt. She also had bleach blonde hair, with a red streak on her hair. It was Kotobuki!
Aya gasped, "Ran! No!"
She wept, as she saw Kotobuki, motionless on the table, and out cold, with a headband on her head. Miyu saw Aya and said, "It… It cannot be… That's Ran? Okay! Miyu is calling foul! I was sure that Ran was a robot, and she has suddenly been reprogrammed for good grades… But, why would that manager take her?"
Aya said, "I think that this Ran is the robot. But I don't get how they decided to use her…"
How did it happen, here's what happened:
Ran was in the changing room, putting on the shirt she was given. She wore the shirt and said, "Hmm… I don't look half bad. But at the very least, I'll be okay, heading out, in style. Hair extensions, fake acrylic nails, and eye shadow? I'm in paradise!"
She opened the door, but she couldn't. The door was locked, as she tried to open it. She cried, "What the hell?"
She turned the knob, inside the changing room, but it was still locked tight. She then gasped, "No… I'm stuck!"
She then smirked boldly, "Dude… If he thinks he can trap me in here, then he hasn't met the Great Ran Kotobu-!"
Green smoke emitted from below the vents. Ran noticed the smoke and gasped, "CRAP! Toxic gas!"
It was actually knockout gas. Ran prepared to bust down the down with her fists, but she stopped, midway, and covered her mouth. She started coughing and groaned, "Ugh… That bastard… He… He… I… Miyu… Aya…"
She continued coughing, until she stopped, with her eyes dropping heavily. She groaned, "Waiter… Check, please…"
She collapsed onto the floor and was limp and ragged. The door opened, after the gas went away. The manager smirked evilly and dragged an unconscious Kotobuki away.
Miyu then tried to revive her, but she was still out cold. She whimpered, "Ran… Ran… No! Wake up! You can't be her! RAN!"
Ran appeared, wearing her jacket and top. She asked, "What are you guys doing here?"
Miyu asked, "Really? Ran?! Oh, goodness…"
She smiled and said, "And here I thought you were a robot. How wrong was I?"
Aya then viewed a computer, as Miyu went to hug Ran, who was happy to see her. Ran said, "Let us go home."
Aya then screamed, as Miyu was about to take her hand, "MIYU! NO!"
She shoved Ran down, as Miyu cried, "AYA?!"
Ran fell to the floor and started to twitch and beep. This Ran Kotobuki was a robot.
"Miyu! This Ran is an android!" Aya cried, "THAT'S the real Ran Kotobuki!"
Miyu gasped, "But… But why?"
Aya said, "I read the computer's monitor, and it shows of a 3D display of a Perfect Gal. That is a robot of her, and the one on the table is Ran, herself!"
Miyu trembled and said, "It… It all makes sense… Ran Kotobuki would never get a perfect score and be very perfect in every lesson… and even ditch her friends… She was replaced by YOU, you imposter!"
The Ran Robot sat up and giggled, "Surprised?"
Miyu said, "Not really. Only a pervert skeez would be foolish and mad enough to create the double of The World's Greatest Gal of Shibuya."
Ran Robot beeped, "Not just any Gal!"
She grabbed Miyu's neck and hissed, "I am the Perfect Gal! And YOU, Miyu, are inferior…"
Miyu sobbed, as she was choking, "Ran! I know it's you! Fight it!"
Ran Robot beeped, "Ran Kotobuki is dead… I am Ran K070… And you, Miyu, shall be Perfect Gal #2… Once my boss returns, he'll give you that thing that the human Ran Kotobuki is wearing, and you'll be just like me… all the memories of you, in one beautiful robot Gal… No more procrastinations, No more shopping, every day, NO MORE LAZINESS! We GALS deserve to be perfect!"
Miyu started to gag, as Ran lifted her up, in the air, still clasping at her neck. Aya grabbed a screwdriver and held it tight. She then cried, "LET HER GO!"
She jabbed the screwdriver into Ran's heart, as she started to beep and spark. The electric waves in her body began to rush all over the robot and Aya. She began to malfunction, as she continued speaking, "You think you c-c-c-c-can beat me? I am Ran… Ran… Ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra, Kototototototototo… Ran Kotobuki-, tobuki Ran-, an Koto-, Koto-, Koto-, Ah-a-a-a-a-a-a-a!"
Aya trembled, falling to her knees, as the robot was malfunctioning. She dropped Miyu, as she held her neck, gasping for air. Aya dug into the robot's back and ripped open her back panel. She then ripped out the battery pack from her systems. The robot stopped and then dropped down to the floor, with a hollow metallic THUD. Aya helped Miyu up, as she was gasping for air. She asked, "You okay?"
Miyu said, "I'm fine. And you?"
Aya said, "I don't know. I saved you, and it feels like that the rush of energy went into me. But I'm okay now. I should've looked through that one, clearly."
Miyu asked, "Well, you saved me, so… Thanks. How is Ran?"
Aya replied, "We better help her up."
She and Miyu freed Ran, who was strapped down on the table, by her arms, legs, and waist. Aya then asked, as she removed the device from her head, "How much time do we have left?"
Miyu looked at the clock and shrieked, "AAGH! WE HAVE FIVE MINUTES LEFT!"
Aya shrieked, "RUN!"
They carried Ran, over their shoulders, as the clock was set to 10:56pm. They ran out of the mall, heading to the main entrance. They went through the double doors and headed to the parking lot. Miyu then gasped, as she looked around, "YAMATO-KUN! YAMATO-KUN! WHERE IS HE?"
The car horn honks, as Yamato was calling to them, "MIYU! AYA! GET IN!"
Miyu got into the car, sitting in the front seat, as Aya carried an unconscious Ran in the back. She then said, "FLOOR IT! WE HAVE TWO MINUTES LEFT!"
The car drove away, as they left the mall, without any repercussions. Miyu then explained to Yamato what happened.
"A robot? Ran was replaced by a robot Gal?" He gasped, "That explains everything about Mr. Miyamoto."
Aya asked, "Miyamoto?"
Yamato said, "That guy I saw, I knew that he was responsible for capturing Ran. The boys at the precinct had a good look at his face, and found a match. His name was Sakyo Miyamoto. He was once a private technician in a project that was halted by the government. You see, Sakyo wanted to rebuild a populace of advanced beings, and present them into a faraway planet, near Earth, but when the Prime Minister learned that the created beings were being sent to Mars, he shut down the operations… and Miyamoto went into hiding, hoping to create the perfect being."
He added, "Funny thing… Ran Kotobuki stopped Mr. Miyamoto, after he tried to create realistic Ko-Gals, and then placing them in the outskirts of Tokyo. Ran found out and assaulted these girls. I was there, only to stop her, but I was stunned by what she did. Ran then said that someone created them, only to take over Shibuya. When she overheard that Mr. Miyamoto tried to take Shibuya, Ran flipped. She attacked him and I arrested that guy, only for playing God. Of course, he was let out, after that. And then he disappeared."
He then showed a picture of Sakyo, except he had smaller glasses and gray hair. Miyu gasped, "No way… It doesn't even look like him!"
Yamato said, "That's because Sakyo had to change his appearance, when he came out of hiding. A guy who can create androids and populate the Red Planet is twisted, I tell you."
Aya asked, "But… But how did you know about Sakyo Miyamoto?"
A voice moaned, "Because… He… tried to… … …take Shibuya… after he…"
It was Ran, coughing and moaning. Yamato stopped the car, as Miyu cried, "RAN! You're alive!"
Ran moaned, as she continued, "Miyu… What Bro says is… true… That old guy… was caught by me… after I overheard… his phone… call… at the Shibuya Mall… And I… had to… rush over… and call Bro… After I destroyed… the skanks in Tokyo… I went to Miyamoto… and… and… and…"
She gasped, and then passed out. Aya sobbed, "Ran? Ran! RAN!"
Yamato said, "She'll be fine. For now, I got his license number, after he left his workplace. Dad has this one covered, so, for now, we take Ran home…"
Miyu said, as she was relieved, "Good. Let's hope nothing bad happens to her. Plus, she's exhausted, after being strapped down, in that room, for three days. Remind me to buy some fried chicken for her, when she wakes up."
Yamato said, "For now, she needs bed rest. We'll give her food, when she wakes up."
The car continued to drive away, heading to Ran's house.
The next morning, in Shibuya Cosmo, Sakyo entered the back room and found a mess in his office. He then cried, "WHAT THE HELL?"
He then noticed the Ran Robot on the floor, stiff and motionless, with hydraulic fluid pouring on the floor. He then noticed that Ran Kotobuki has escaped. He cried out that no one was able to escape his private laboratory. He then shouted, "I'm going to her and continue my research! That bitch will pay for deserting me!"
He stepped out of the back room and opened the front doors to his establishment. However, Taizo and five other policemen appeared and surrounded him. Taizo bellowed in the megaphone, "YOU! SAKYO MIYAMOTO! You are under arrest!"
They tackled down Miyamoto, as he was screaming for mercy. Two cops restrained him, as they applied the handcuffs on him. He roared, "BUT I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING!"
Taizo yelled, "I have witnesses! And I had sources on what you did! Did you really think that you could kidnap my daughter, a daughter of an elite family of cops, and use her for your sick and twisted fantasies? People like you make me sick! Even for someone who once tried to populate a robot army in Mars, and have fembot punks in Tokyo, taking my first daughter was LOW! VERY, VERY LOW!"
They lifted him up and dragged him away. He cried out, "That little punk that I kidnapped… That was your daughter? I should've known better than to capture her, after she ruined my recent plan! She'll regret that day, and so will YOU and your family! REMEMBER THAT, KOTOBUKI!"
One officer said, "Stop resisting arrest, sir."
Miyu got a phone call from Yamato and said that Miyamoto had been detained and taken to jail. Miyu smiled and said that it was finally over. Ran was still out, as Miyu petted her head. She whispered, "Poor Ran… I wonder if she'll wake up, after this whole nightmare is over."
Ran started to open her eyes and moan, "Huh? Mom? Dad? Where am I?"
Miyu smiled and sobbed, "Ran? Oh, god… Is that you?"
She sat up and groaned, "Ugh… How did I get here? Miyu? What's wrong?"
Miyu wept tears of joy, as she smiled and blubbered, at the same time. She hugged Ran and said, "You're back… I'm so glad…"
Ran didn't know what was going on, but she let out a smile and said, "Well… I don't know why… but I'm back…"
She then gasped, "Huh? Hey, wait! What about that hair extension?"
She pouted and grumbled, "How long was I out for?"
Eventually, Ran, Miyu, & Aya returned to the mall, days later, as Ran mentioned Shibuya Cosmo, the place she was kidnapped in. As they were walking, Miyu told the whole story, about how she was replaced by an android double, by the same guy she beat up, months ago.
"HAH!" Kotobuki jeered, "Sakyo Miyamoto used me? Like hell I'd be so perfect and nice…"
Aya said, "But it is true. And more importantly, the android helped you aced on your exams. You got a perfect score!"
Ran cheered, "FOR REAL? WOO-HOO!"
Miyu smiled, "But… Mr. Nakanishi knew about the android double from your father; and he was surprised that you were missing, for three days, by that guy, who created a robot you. So, you will have to retake the exams, again."
Ran pouted in disappointment, "Aw, dammit… And I thought I was in high hopes of being saved…"
Miyu smiled, "Too bad. Nakanishi said that a robot that studies is considered cheating."
Aya said, "But he waived your punishment, since the guy did kidnap you."
Ran whined, "Isn't it punishment enough? I missed three days! And I don't remember what happened, on that day! I only remembered that the store that I saw has a good deal on extensions!"
She smiled, "And with my allowance, I'm getting me that extension!"
They arrived at the store in the mall. However, the store, Shibuya Cosmo, disappeared, as it was nothing but an empty store.
Ran cried out, "WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?"
Miyu gasped, "Shibuya Cosmo…"
Aya was stunned, as she said, "It's gone…"
She got a phone call, as Miyu thought, perplexed and shocked, "But how could it be? It was still standing, a couple of days ago… and Mr. Miyamoto was-."
Aya asked, "Uh, Miyu… Get this. I got off the phone from Yamato, after we viewed the empty store… and Mr. Miyamoto's records had disappeared. And… he also said that Mr. Miyamoto disappeared… without a trace."
Miyu thought, as she was completely frightened, "NO… You mean, this place was… And he… You don't think…?"
Ran then trembled in sadness, "It's… It was here! I know it! How could it go, after two days?"
Miyu & Aya asked, "Huh?"
Ran started bawling wildly, as she was having a tantrum. She dropped to the floor and screamed, "DAMN IT! IT CAN'T BE TRUE! DAMN IT ALL! WHYYYYYYY?"
All Miyu and Aya did was smile in embarrassment, as they said, "Oh, well…"
She continued to throw a fit, as Miyu and Aya dragged her away, crying for the store.
"NO! NO! LET ME GO! NOOOOOO! MY HAIR EXTENSION! MY SALE! WHY NOW? NOOOOOOOO!"
An ending of a mysterious and bizarre tale, leads to the question of how Mr. Sakyo Miyamoto disappeared, and the store, "Shibuya Cosmo", vanished from existence. Maybe you should look closely at the store's name; and then fit the pieces of Mr. Miyamoto's tried and true projects – the planet that he wanted to repopulate, the Gal of Shibuya that he wanted, in her likeness, the clones of girls in Tokyo that he strived to create, and the store that offers stellar sales that are "out of this world". The world may never know, even in the farthest reaches of the universe. Was it all a ploy by intergalactic beings, or was it all a coincidence?
And if you ever ask about how Miss Ran Kotobuki doesn't know about the Android Kotobuki, the man that created Shibuya Cosmo, and the sudden perfection that is imprinted into her circuitry, which led to the real Ran Kotobuki's misfortunes, then it's best to leave it, at that. Because this isn't a shopping trip to Shibuya… this is… a "Tale of the Bizarre".
See You… Wherever you are…