Author's note - I'm lazy by nature, so I refuse to put down a schedule for chapter releases/s Seriously though, knowing myself I really dunno how much or how often I'll keep going on this, I have lots of ideas and a general feel for where this is all going, but I don't want to have your expectations heightened in case I disappoint. So don't expect chapter releases to be this often, in fact I'd guess that longer waits will be the norm, likely up to a week. (maybe much more aha) But yeah, feel free to criticize or praise the story as you see fit, I love hearing constructive criticism! Thanks so much for looking at my horrible, batshit story!
Chapter 2 - Koichi Touches Down! (No Dignity)
As he took his first steps out of the helicopter, Koichi Hirose lifted his arm to block the sun from his eyes. It was a truly gorgeous day, despite the limited vegetation at the airport the breeze carried an air of lazy enjoyment. Everything about this city seemed perfect, it had plenty of memorable locations to idle away time, but not so many that is was overwhelming, and the populace's general disposition seemed almost irritatingly cheerful. Quite a lot like Morioh, even down to the population size.
Sighing, the small man looked down again at his briefing file. It certainly was like Morioh alright, and it would only become more so if he didn't act quickly. Flanked by two uniformed men from the foundation, Koichi made his way from the open airpad into a private docking building, where he could rest for a little. While smaller than the general exitways, the room he came to was quite comfortable looking, arrayed with magazines, newspapers, tourist phamplets, and plenty of refreshments. Koichi sat down on a leather couch while the foundation men went to the desk to sort out documents and such.
The stand bow used by the Nijimura brothers and Akira Otoishi six years ago had been stolen from the Speedwagon Foundation's Japanese Branch. Koichi didn't know all the details, but then again neither did the group. However, the most disturbing thing about the whole affair was that it seemed to be an inside job, that someone within the foundation co-ordinated the theft. The motive was unclear, but no matter the intentions an awol stand artifact was a Category 1 danger. A tracking device had been on the bow and its last known location was within Elwood City, a suburban town in New England, USA. While very fortunate, it was nonetheless puzzling that the tracking beacon managed to stay on the bow as long as it had, considering the thief was a foundation member.
Koichi sipped the coffee a steward had placed on the table. How nice, he didn't even have to ask the flight attendant had treated him just like a first-class passanger!
Stretching out a bit, Koichi felt a twinge of irritation about the whole situation. It felt like he was becoming the foundation (and Jotaro's) chore boy, whenever there was something stange going on somewhere, it was always him that got shipped overseas. It all started with that nightmare in Italy four years ago! Jotaro was always too busy with marine biology or foundation busywork apparently, but of course Koichi was always ready and willing to just drop whatever he was doing at a moment's notice without warning and be thrown halfway across the world on some dangerous mission that was pretty mysterious, no he alwaaaaays had time for that! Koichi sighed, he couldn't let himself get that worked up and self-pitying, this job was important very important. Letting go of some tension, he put his legs up on the table and unfurled a local paper, the Elwood City Times.
He was just starting to enjoy a piece about a recent celebration of the city's centennial, when a customs officer shouted out "Hey don't put your feet on the table! No dignity!" While it was likely a joke, that last comment sent Koichi over the edge.
"Well bastard, I don't see you getting flown to some backwater town in the middle of nowhere two continents away on an hour of sleep, huh? Maybe a guy in a private departure room who's done just that should be able to stretch his feet out for, oh I don't know a, second or two just maybe, eh?!"
The guy looked shocked to hear the such a pissed off rant coming from such a small guy, as a matter of fact, Koichi was a bit shocked too. Damn, he thought to himself, I really need some sleep!
"S-sorry," he stammered after the silence hung for a second. "I-I've never been to America before, and I'm kinda grumpy uhh..."
"Yeah whatever, kid" the officer shrugged after a second. If he didn't hold himself back at the last second, that little aside would have pushed Koichi right back into it again, but instead he just sighed to himself. He put down the paper and got up to be ready to leave. Suddenly the SPW flip phone in his pocket started to ring. As he reached for it in a flurry, the various airport staff scowled at him. While he knew the room was supposed to be private, Koichi got the feeling he had them pissed off enough, and shuffled into the family bathroom locking the door behind him.
Right before the ringing stopped he flung the phone into position and hit the talk button.
"Hey, this is a private phone number please identify yourself!" he said with a false confidence.
A gruff voice responded "It's me, Jotaro." Even though he was supposed to give an identification code, Koichi knew Jotaro wouldn't be bothered to do that.
"Oh hi, Jotaro! So I just landed in the city you told me about...what twenty hours ago, aheheh..." Koichi couldn't hide the slight irritation in his voice.
"If you're tired Koichi, just go to the hotel we rented for you."
"I can't until we're out of customs!" he sighed again, probably the third time in three minutes. "Can you tell me a little bit about this place, Jotaro, I've never been in America before but it seems like a pretty normal, nice town from what I can tell. The weather's gorgeous."
"Koichi, don't assume the town is normal so quickly. There are a few odd things about that place. Did you notice that all the citizens are anthropomoprhic animals?"
"Huh...now that you mention it I guess that's right. I almost didn't catch that."
"The town's also ridiculously safe, most parents seem okay with letting four year olds just run about wherever like they were teenagers. The most dangerous thing that can happen seems to be cutting your knee on some trash."
"That seems unlikely."
"I'm just reading through the reports Koichi. There's also been an oddly high number of famous people passing through for such a small out of the way town. Mr. Rogers, Yo Yo Ma, Lance Armstrong, Art Garfunkel, Neil Gaimon…"
"Neil Gaimon?! That is weird!"
"Besides all that though the town is completely normal." Koichi made a face at that last part. Yeah, emphasis on besides.
Jotaro continued, "But remember Koichi we're 77% sure the stand bow is in that town. It could be anywhere, you remember the Morioh Incident." Of course I remember it, Koichi thought, that's where I live! Still those words reminded him of the gravity of the situation, reading about the mission he hadn't quite felt that yet. Thinking back to the whole mess with Kira sent a shiver down Koichi's spine, a repeat of that would be horrific.
"Yeah Jotaro, of course. I'll start the search once I get settled, but I really do have to get some rest first. I'll speak to you tomorrow I think. Sorry if I'm sounding pissy, but I haven't slept in over a day."
"That's fine Koichi, but before you get off there's something else I need to tell you." A subtle shift in Jotaro's tone caught the little man's attention in an instant. For the first time in a while, that impenterable stoicism betrayed a bit of uncertainty.
"Even before the bow was stolen, evidence seems to suggest a high frequency of natural stand abilities awakening in that city."
Koichi's eyes shot wider than they had been all day. "WHAT?"
"Calm down Koichi. We have no idea what the cause is, but it seems like an inordinate amount of stands are being developed by local citizens. I don't know what or if it has to do with the recent theft, but things could be getting ugly in there. Keep your guard up, Koichi talk to you tomorrow." How like Jotaro to just end abruptly like that. There was no way Koichi would sleep easily now, exausted as he was. Sighing, he made his way back out into the room where the SPW men were waiting. They looked a little bit worried.
"Sir, we've encountered a bit of a problem."
"A wha-," Koichi mumbled his fatigue getting to him.
"It appears that some our luggage has been...stolen."
It just keeps getting better.
To Be Continued