A/N: Good day to you and advance Happy Halloween. This is Anime Borat. This is my second chapter of The FEARs of Haruhi Suzumiya. It took me a long time to make this chapter, mostly due to writer's block, other projects and personal problems. I want especially to thank Akira the White, Fallerullandeig, SlugSLinger, superstarultra for helping me out with ideas for what Japan is like during the events of FEAR. Put it simply it's quite hard, made more so for not writing this in quite a while. I've also decided to put at least some Itsuki-centric segments into the plot like the one right now. I'm currently watching the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya for further classified information. Thanks for dropping by, read and review :)
Interval 2 - A School Day In The Future
The staggering and literal change in time caught me off guard. I ought to get used to it already and not be surprised. But then again, nothing fails to surprise you more other than "I've seen everything" mentality. The hubris and indifference that went with it can never prepare you for something like that or even the mundane. Again, you might be even more astounded about how the surprise hits you rather than the surprise itself.
As my mind tried to reconcile with the new developments of the day, Itsuki moved a chair next me and sat down. He stroked his chin as though as he was thinking of what to say next. Apparently, behind that smile, even the new twists of events stunned him - as in today in seventeen years into the future.
He finally said, "You know, are probably the last member of the SOS Brigade to have the fog lifted away before you."
"Huh?" Itsuki, please don't use your usual metaphors.
"Oh, sorry," he apologized. "During the entire day up to now, you thought you were having a typical day, from the moment you woke up, you went to school, attended class, and reported to the club room. That's why you didn't notice the gradual change in timeline until I pointed it out to you."
It makes sense.
I now thought of shooting him a question. "How was your wake-up today then?"
He took a chair and sat across from me. He sighed and a heavy grave frown appeared on his face. "My wake up call was refreshing as having Beethoven's Ode to Joy theme played loudly and obnoxiously at the front of my house."
"Whoa, take it easy," I said evenly, gesturing my hands to keep him calm. I never thought that Itsuki would have a bad day, if you count waking up in the future as one. But then again, I always thought of him as an unflappable with that grating Stepford grin.
He sighed, which sounded heavy. "It's not at you, Kyon." He composed himself. "Earlier this morning, I saw from my window a near-futuristic landscape."
He gestured to the window. I got up to see it and I was awestruck. Outside I saw a visual treat for the eyes. Japan of this future. It was the probably the most beautiful thing I've ever saw. The streets were clean, most of the vehicles outside were of sleek new designs. The buildings were breathtakingly marvelous, must have been designed by somebody who thought out of the box and resulted in masterpieces that are both handsome and never eyesores in the whole picture.
Seeing it with my eyes I felt like watching something that could best resemble a Japanese-French film production.
Everything looked... cleaner... smoother. I rubbed my eyes. Was I dreaming?
My jaw dropped and a hand push it back in place. I turned to see it was Nagato who did it.
Koizumi gestured us back to our seats. As soon as we're all seated, he ask in a tone of genial curiosity, "So you, Kyon? What do you think?"
The future shock revealed itself in my voice with a rapid reply, "I feel I just jumped into Ghost In The Shell with Luc Besson!"
Itsuki chuckled lightly. What's so funny, you prick? my mind snarled. How could he laugh when time has shifted drastically while we slept, caused most likely by our Dear Beloved Leader no less!
"Sorry, Kyon," he apologized. "I never thought I'd see you so startled by these turn of events."
No kidding, I'm a fish out of water in this one yet again.
"Well, back to business," he said. "I'm aware that you received my message last night."
"Yeah, does that mean you knew this was going to happen?" I asked.
"Not really," he replied, looking a little puzzled. "I was only informed of a new development on some closed spaces as well as some other anomalies. I was thinking that the other espers would take care of that."
"But apparently they didn't," I replied dryly.
"Well, we espers have to sleep, you know."
"So, how bad was it?"
"Well, let's start from the begnning," he said.
Here we go, I thought with a sigh.
"This morning," he began, "I woke up at my usual time, five o'clock. The very first thing that I saw was a different skyline, having the same reaction that you have."
"I see," I noted. That's why you chuckled.
"Well, not everyday you get to wake up in the future."
"Yeah," I agreed. "So let's skip the chitchat about your vista to the future. I'd hate to spoil my interest in this period."
"Certainly, Kyon. After my first taste of future Japan, I noticed immediately that I woke up a bed not my own."
A smile formed on my face when I heard it. "So? Did you share the bed with someone else?" Nothing like an embarrassing morning to start the day.
Itsuki grimaced. "As a matter of fact, Kyon, thankfully no," he replied. "It was rather fortunate that the owner in question was taking a bath at around the time I woke up. It was rather alarming enough for me to wake up, see the clock had advanced a decade or so, and find all my belongings completely missing."
"Must have been quite a shocker there, Koizumi," I replied sincerely.
His eyes narrowed with displeasure. "He is a male model for an agency, I would like to add."
I tried my hardest not smile, not to show a wee bit of emotion on my face and posture. I never knew Itsuki would have a bad day, but this? For some reason I feel Haruhi granted my unconscious wish of schadenfreude on Koizumi.
"I believe Itsuki was startled to find a member of the same sex had slept in his bed, Kyon," Nagato monotoned. Thanks a lot, Nagato, for the punch line. Now I can't push away the cascade of images of Itsuki and said unknown male model together, some of which were scandalously compromising. If I was with Taniguchi I'd laugh my ass off with him right now, ribbling him with that story of Itsuki's bad wake up call.
It took several seconds of silence around the room. "Kyon," he said seriously. "If you're done with thinking about me in a low manner, I would like to get this discussion moving."
"Oh!" I suddenly exclaimed. "Sorry, Itsuki." Damn, I got sidetracked by the Ralf Konig show with special guest Itsuki on my mind and been found out. At first I feel he read my mind, but esper or not, he can see through me about how I think his day today was like.
Itsuki continued, "So after frantically searching my now nonexistent possessions, I've had to make haste. Needless to say I had a messy getaway."
I imagined how it was like for Itsuki then: after basking in the sight of future(current as of now) Japan he proceeded to ransack his erstwhile apartment for his belongings, failing that, he proceeded to escape from it when the racket he made disturbed the tenant enough to make him investigate the premises or he was spotted and that made our esper boy flee for his life, in perhaps within view of someone walking in the hallway to get the morning paper.
No. I won't ask Itsuki to describe his experience then. It's embarrassing enough for him already without me poking him with questions. Man talk about baring oneself as of now.
"So what happened after you got out?" I asked.
"I was a little disoriented when I got out," he replied. "Time travel is something that's definitely beyond my pay grade, as the American intelligence community often says, so the moment I found myself in the streets heavily immersed with technology, hell, even the cellphone I 'acquired' for use from my host could not activate unless I put my thumb in the touch screen for verification."
"Really?" Cellphones with touch screens with fingerprint scanners? This is definitely a sci-fi anime moment with a little dosage of Frenchness on the side. I wonder why the words 'French and 'sci-fi' go together in my mind.
"I'm not kidding, Kyon. Fortunately, I know how to deal with situations like that so I did standard operating procedure. I called my superiors."
"Itsuki, that doesn't sound like the right thing to do." Itsuki, you're wading into Bourne Identity territory over there. You know? Spy fails mission, amnesia optional, his bosses try to take him down one way or the other?
"It's exactly what I did. But you know what's surprising was the reply I received from the night duty officer. He really was shocked when I identified myself to him."
"Like a voice from the dead?" I asked.
Itsuki Koizumi barely took a few articles of street clothes plus some other items from the occupant of what used to his apartment room as he dashed madly out the building. The current tenant shocked him into running as he came out of the bathroom to investigate the commotion that was Itsuki's ransacking.
And lo and behold, Itsuki got busted and ran off like a whipped dog as the shocked and outraged tenant alerted the landlord via intercom. He may have phoned the police as well. Running down the stairs frantically nonstop and then dashing out the front door was what probably saved him from a patrolling police car. Any second later and he would have ended up in the brig, perhaps the funny farm after a few months of interrogation and court hearings.
By the time he found a safe place to hide, his lungs burned fiercely and his heart was wildly beating away like a premature burial victim pounding against the sides of the coffin for life. His body ached all over as he was taking large mouthfuls of air. In the bushes in the park, the cold air stung his bare torso, causing him to shiver. He immediately began to put on his purloined clothes.
He sat his back against the crook of a tree, thanking the habit of putting himself in excellent physical condition, a habit inculcated into him by his training with the Agency. He looked up the sky, which was white with thick fleecy clouds. He turned his eyes to the top of buildings jutting out in the skyline. So many skyscrapers of the likes he never seen before, he noted.
He had no time to take in the sights. He needed to know what hell's going one right now. After a few minutes of rest he stood up and stretched his body. He looked at the cellphone. It looked like an iPhone. He turned it on and it chimed a jingle.
"KONICHAWA," it chimed, "PLEASE PLACE YOUR THUMBPRINT ON THE LOWER RIGHT CORNER FOR VERIFICATION." On the LCD screen a box the size of a mail stamp appeared at the lower right corner of the screen with a thumbprint flashing in red, the caption read PLEASE ENTER THUMBPRINT. Itsuki blinked his eyes twice. Then he pinched himself twice on the cheek to see if he's not dreaming. He could not believe that he held a cellphone equipped with biometric scanner, in this case, a thumbprint recognition lock.
Curious, Itsuki wondered if he should put his thumb in the box or not. For the most part, he's against it for the simple reason that it won't work. The other one suggested it as merely moment to pass a few seconds of idle curiosity. He pressed it and it made a short chirp.
"THUMBPRINT VERIFIED," it said, "UNAUTHORIZED USER ATTEMPTING TO ACCESS PHONE. IDENTITY UNKNOWN. POSSIBLE THEFT, ATTEMPTING TO CONTACT EMERGENCY POLICE HOTLINE."
"What!?" Itsuki instantly dropped the phone as the cellphone's screen immediately flashed a loading sign with the emergency police hotline captioned above.
"CONTACT ESTABLISHED," it sang again in its digitized voice and a dial tone rang. Itsuki bolted away out of the bushes before he could find out what's next, seeing that running away from a tattletale phone was much more prudent than standing there like an idiot and waiting for the police.
His feet felt the cold dewy wetness of the grass, like spongy moss carpet. He finally made it to another copse of woods were he put on the stolen clothes, which consisted of black rubber shoes, jeans, a black t-shirty and brown jacket, all designer brands. He got rid of his own pair of pants and quickly changed. Finished, he took his old pair of pants and proceeded to find a place to dispose it. He came across a blacktop lane and throw the pants into a nearby trashcan. He scanned his environs to see if anyone saw him. All he found were a few joggers and cyclists. He watched them for a few seconds before he judged that they've not spotted him walking out of the brush. He stayed where he was, waiting for them to pass. When they finally passed a respectable distance, he began to walk the opposite direction, thinking of a way contact the Agency.
Emerging from the park he joined the early-morning rush hour crowd. By instinct he began to observe the environment around him as he strolled. Things have changed in this time period rather significantly today but not so much as to be beyond recognition. The city of Nishinomiya had sky-scrapers but never for the life of him had they grew tall and numerous. Also they were quite different from any skyscrapers he knew. They were tall symmetrical structures that reached into the sky like broad fingers of hands receiving a blessing from the heavens.
He observed the crowd around him. They weren't so much different from his timeline though the clothes being worn were like an advancement in contemporary fashion back seventeen years ago. On the streets were cars and trucks with sleek designs, at least most of them. Not too radical in appearance and certainly didn't look dated either. Up in the buildings were advertisements on holograms, featuring everything from cosmetics to canned tuna; to cola and whiskey to restaurant reservations. They project three-dimensional images of amazing clarity. For instance, a doctor was discussing the virtues of the latest toothpaste. He didn't look like a semi-transparent image, he looked like he was on a stage addressing the crowd below. The pristine white office set he was in looked like it was cut directly from the studio that filmed it and transplanted directly to the holographic display, figuratively teleporting him to the outside world. Next to him was an ad for a brand of corned beef, demonstrated by the housewife as she showed how to cook a simple recipe as if it was a cooking show in live-action. Itsuki blinked his eyes in bewilderment. How far technology had changed in this timeline.
"Excuse me, sir," a woman called out to him, prompting him to face her away from the ads.
"Yes?" he asked.
"Do you know where Kouyounen High is?"
"Uh, yes," Itsuki replied. She then gave her directions to it. He then asked why she inquired.
"I have a relative schooling there," she answered. "I have a gift to deliver."
"Oh, I see." Then Istuki thought of something. "Excuse me, ma'am, is there a phone booth nearby?"
She raised her eyebrows. "Why do you ask? Phone booths are phased seven years ago."
"Huh?" His eyes raised in bewilderment.
"You're surprised, huh?" She chuckled. "You didn't know phone booths are gone, do you?"
"Uh, yes, I'm from upcountry," Itsuki replied. "Hokkaido."
"Apparently, wherever that part of Hokkaido you are from still uses phone booths."
"Well, in that case, I think you can use an internet kiosk. In here you can find any. Just ask around."
"Ah, thank you, ma'am" Itsuki chimed gratefully. "You're a great help."
"Ah, it's nothing." She smiled and gave him a friendly wave before walking off.
Itsuki did as the woman told her and soon enough was rewarded with directions to a nearby internet kiosk. He thought about how far technology became widespread in this era from the time he was from. Back then internet kiosks were only found in public buildings like airports. Now they've all but replaced phone booths. He found one with its most recent user just about finished. He approached and activated the touchscreen.
"GOOD MORNING," a message flashed on screen. "YOU ARE USING A NIPPON TELECOM INTERNET KIOSK. BEFORE USE, PLEASE SELECT THE MODE OF PAYMENT FOR COMPENSATION OF SERVICES."
The screen then flashed three options:
Itsuki choose the third option, since he didn't bother to take anything in the way of money from his unwitting host. He then selected the his account in a branch of the Kyoto Bank for which to pay for his services. He was relieved to know that his account was still named under one of his alias. It contained all he needed in case for emergencies in the field. After requesting a wire transfer for both use of the kiosks and the rest, he then typed and entered a number, one used to contact the Agency by all field agents.
The internet kiosk produced a receiver from the side, prompting him to take to ears. A video screen appeared, showing a sophisticated plaza of a vast corporate building. It was an ad for the particular organization he which to call. "Good morning and thank you for calling Ichihara Consultancy, one of the world's leading international consultancies, specializing in multidisciplinary advisory work, assessment and analysis. If you will state the particular service you requested, we will connect you to the proper representative in our twenty-four hour service department." Ichihara Consultancy was one of the Agency's front companies. Under the guise of a think-tank-for-hire, it immensely helped with its intelligence gathering and special actions activities worldwide. He hoped nothing changed for him.
Several options flashed in the screen. They range from finance to management. On the bottom of the list was an option labelled OTHER. He selected it and the a dial tone chimed for a few seconds.
"Hello, welcome to Ichihara Consultancy. How may I help you?" An operator said. Itsuki knew exactly what to do. Each operative has unique phrase that identifies him or her to the operator, usually the security officer in the form of a particular business proposal or request, in a carefully-worded phrase to distinguish it from all the clutter the company receives. After that he or she must answer a series of questions, each predetermined answer can mean something only between him or her and the operator.
"Excuse me, sir, I'm interested in your company's work. Do you specialize in agri-economic policy?"
"Yes," he replied. "We do. What particular specialization?"
"Potential for large-scale biofuel production."
"Ah yes, We'll patch you up right now to our agricultural department."
There was a beep, and then a dial tone. "Hello, who is this?" Finally, a voice different from the operator, which meant that he's on the secure line. It must be the communications liaison, who was usually privy to all the agents' identities and special communications protocols, which meant their code names and means of identification.
"This is Itsuki Koizumi," he replied. "Code name Reynaud; identification phrase, 'Because you cannot see him, God is everywhere.' Let me speak with Pegasus." That was the code name to the Agency's director of operations.
There was brief pause. No doubt he was verifying that phrases and names. "Itsuki Koizumi? Pegasus? Are you sure?"
"Yes," he replied, sounding a bit more eager. "My clearance is Delta Five-Zero-One-Three." Itsuki, due to his seniority which was rapidly earned while on assignment on Haruhi, was given a high enough clearance for talking with Agency brass.
There was pregnant pause. Itsuki thought of the worst as he waited for a reply. "I'm sorry, sir," he replied. "Pegasus retired about eleven years ago. He was replaced by Osiris. You were there when during the appointment ceremony."
His eyes dilated in worry. Pegasus retired? And who is this Osiris? His knuckles whitened around the receiver. He held his breath as he waited for the answer.
"After that phone call, they told me to rendezvous at the cafe by the train station. They sent an armed squad for me."
My eyes up went up. "What? How come?"
Itsuki sighed for a while, almost like he was sucking air from a wound. He then whispered to my ear. "Between you and me, I was dead for six years."
Somehow I wasn't surprised. Maybe because of my earlier comment of him being a voice from the dead. Yet, it bothered me in a way. A terrible chilling way.
"They interrogated me strenuously, trying to verify my identity, checking what I know against what I was suppose to know. They simply can't believe that a younger version of me just contacted them out of the blue."
"Well, they never expected a dead man to call them back," I commented. Then I added, "If it wasn't too much for you, how did you..."
"My demise? I was missing, presumed dead when I supposedly didn't communicate for too long. Don't ask for the details."
Yeah, thanks for the advise, Itsuki, I was tempted to ask about what he meant by "strenuous interrogation", mainly out of curiosity although thankfully I decided not to ask, feeling the details are best left unsaid. I don't if I want to know. "Okay, I think it's good for you to be back, Itsuki."
"By the way, how did this happen?" I asked. "How does Haruhi have to do with this? I mean she had us looking for ghosts yesterday, eh, seventeen years ago - whichever it is, I don't care. I wanna know why are we in the future."
"Our recent intelligence on this are quite scant on this but while we do know that Haruhi is responsible for this, she may not the cause for this."
"I see," I replied, feeling that creeping feeling along my shoulder. "But how?"
Itsuki paused, putting himself in his patented thinking pose with a sigh. After a few seconds, he said to me, "Okay, Kyon. What I'm about to tell you is classified information with clearance beyond top-secret. The Agency feels that you need to know." He got up from his seat and walked to his school bag. He then picked up a red folder from it. It had a snap closure and the edges where bordered with white tape. A simple white paper label bearing the words EYES ONLY Δ and PROVENANCE. It was held together with a fastener. He gently laid the folder on before me. I felt rather intimidated by this folder, like it was a book of arcane knowledge that could drive people insane from just reading it.
"Go ahead, Kyon. Read it," he urged me. My hand followed his command without much effort on my own. Lifting the folder open, I saw what seemed like a photo taken from above the ground, no doubt satellites. I've seen enough movies to know what a satellite photo is. On it was large stretch of what look like urban industrial area. In it is a description of the place in the photo.
FILE NAME: B-164 AUBURN DISTRICT
The Auburn District is a large urban industrial area located within the city of Fairport, Washington State. Most of the Auburn District is owned by the Armacham Technology Corporation[ATC]. Expansion in the Auburn District began when ATC, then known as Fairport Steel Works purchased the Rammelmeier Industrial Compound from U.S. government. Soon after Armacham was officially founded in 1964 that development in the Auburn District was expanded greatly with the construction and operation of production and R&D facilities. The district became the economic powerhouse of the city with Armacham eventually dominating it, in effect pushing out competition and expanding within the city itself, with only oceanic trade being the second primary source of income. Economic downturn caused by recession and oil crises during the 70's pushed the company to close down several factories. This, accompanied with the turbulent socio-political climate of the time, provoked violent riots, severity of which was enough to call in the Washington National Guard to restore order from time to time. Research and development facilities kept functioning, first major undertaking code-named Project Icarus. Objective:[DATA EXPUNGED]. Economic revival began anew during the 1980's, struggling to compete with Japanese economic strength of that time, with Armacham fending off the acquisition of Auburn District assets from several large Japanese corporations. Nineties saw the smashing of the economic miracle with the end of the Cold War, decreasing military spending. Armacham focused on mainly on research and development, mostly on military contract. The War on Terror did not bring about economic growth as expected and thus much of the Auburn District remains economically-depressed to this day.
STATUS: Interest began peripherally when residents of the Auburn District began to complain of headaches and nausea, causing people to vacate the area during 2005 to 2006. At first it was believed to be water contamination but latent energy signatures have been detected in 2007. Several operating assets have been dispatched to investigate the district. Initial findings have turned up with substantial results but first teams returning have developed a wide array of mental instabilities, ranging from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder to catatonia, hallucinations, and psychosis, forcing temporary suspension of all Agency activity in the area, which was resumed during [DATA REDACTED]. Further evidence revealed the cause of this to be an esper of significant potential.
That's where the note ended. Most of the rest are blacked-out lines.
"Turn to the next page, Kyon," he suggested. "I'm sorry that we didn't have time to edit it properly. Expect more blacked-out sentences. They are old files by the way."
I opened the next page to see another file. As promised there were blacked-out lines. I asked him, "If you're telling me this, why the hell did you even bother to edit it?"
"You're on a need-to-know basis, Kyon," he replied thoughtfully. "At the moment, some of the information is too sensitive for your eyes."
On this file is about Armacham itself. It started out as the Fairport Steel Works. The company was founded in in 1894, building huge steel mills in what would become the Auburn District. It's first contract for the U.S. government came during the turn of the century when it received a contract to produce naval and fortification guns and ship armor plating from its foundries but no contract to build ships due to intense lobbying from the major shipbuilders at that time, thus keeping Fairport from developing a shipbuilding industry of its own. The First World War accelerated the company's growth and so as the city's. The Great Depression of 1929 forced the company to cut down its size, lay off thousands of workers and sell away most of the Aubrun District. At 1934 company management changed hands with a Harvard graduate named Richard White-Hayes, who gradually bought back the company's assets and formed a merger with automobile manufacturer Hammond Motor Company. The newly-revived company received major contracts again when America began to rearm its military as well as supply the Allies via Lend-Lease. It recently acquired a drug company, Robertson Medical, and had it geared towards the production of sulfanilamide, penicillin, Atabrine, and medical painkillers. The entry of America into the war saw Fairport Steel manufacturing tanks, trucks, weapons, etc, plus opening an aerospace division, Fairport Aircraft, to assemble licensed copies of current military aircraft.
The end of the war had put Fairport Steel as one of the top-grossing companies of America. Then during the fifties saw it buy the Rammelmeier Industrial Compound from the government, after a protracted sale negotiation. It was used to acquire [DATA EXPUNGED]. The company was renamed Armacham in 1964, fully merged with its acquired companies. First major contracts are mainly aircraft and and missiles as well as their associated computer systems. They were also involved with NASA space-faring ventures, providing conceptual designs for space-craft, astronaut equipment and computers.
The third part of the Armacham file came up, mostly blacked-out lines. From what I can read, it had to do with mostly phrases like "Mental faculties of the human brain", "... Combat attempts by the Soviet Union to exploit such a potential resource", "Accelerate study for feasibility of potential use of extra-sensory perception and related activities..", "Research program set up in the Ukraine..." "Performing research with questionable ethics". I stopped reading from there.
Then I turned to the next page. I read the title aloud, "First Encounter Assault Recon." In it's acronym form, FEAR. How catchy.
The first paragraph of this file stated with blunt honesty that much of the data in this file is mere speculation than fact as the unit, if it ever existed, almost never had any sort of paper trail to trace it. It was formed during 2002, after the tragedy of 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan was already underway. Although most of it was blacked-out, the first missions of this FEAR unit was to scour many abandoned Soviet-era research centers in Siberia and the former republics for leftovers of the many top-secret programs involving a number of exotic concepts involving the human mind, genetic engineering, theoretical physics; recovery of stolen or lost technology; and the investigation of strange physical phenomena. A lot of their missions are naturally classified. They became the talk of only the highest circles of the defense and intelligence communities around the world. It's from this talk that their existence is inferred to. Some of their alleged operations are often attributed to other special forces units, intelligence services, regional military or non-state third parties. I'm guessing greedy corporations or terrorists.
Suddenly, a chill went down my spine as I thought about how this 'FEAR' unit might have something to do with Armacham. Reading this again, I thought of the phrase recovery of lost and stolen technology might have something to do with them. Read between the lines and you'll get my drift.
I turned to Itsuki and handed him back the file. He asked me, "What do you think, Kyon?"
It took me a few seconds for my mind to wrap around the information that was given to me, information too incredible to believe. Some of this stuff is certainly something out of a videogame or an anime but to be privy to this stuff, however abridged and edited, is something that is to be taken lightly. The shock was just like alcohol slowly seeping into my body for a glass of Scotch. "Unbelievable," I muttered. I turned to him. "How does this have to do with Haruhi? And us."
He frowned. "They won't tell me, I'm not cleared high enough to know the whole thing right now." He looked at me in a way that said that he honestly didn't know and that he can't say anymore that he has to. "But here's what I think: whatever it is, Haruhi may be in danger."
"What!" I exclaimed, sounding almost like a girl.
"I'm not joking, Kyon," he said gravely. "Some of the files we've dug up from Armacham made references to Nishinomiya much more recently, some of them even mentioning our high school, which may mean that they have significant interest in Haruhi. I have know idea how or if they're actually threatening Haruhi but all I know is that Haruhi is in clear and present danger."
I nodded vigorously. Then I shook my head as if regretting it. "No... No way. How could they know about Haruhi? It's impossible. Even she doesn't believe herself to capable of such power."
"Yeah, that's what's fishy," he replied. "How did Armacham know about her? Regardless, that question won't be answered in a while until we know what we're up against."
I asked him, "If that's the case, besides trying to figure it if this Armacham outfit really out for or not, will you give me some protection? You're the Agency, after all."
"I can't give you any promises, Kyon," he replied sadly. "But we'll try to figure a way keep an eye on you without giving ourselves away to Haruhi. In the mean time, watch your back and keep Haruhi safe-"
The door burst open loudly. The sound sent me in an about face, expecting to black-suited Armacham goons with guns raised to shoot us. But thankfully for us, it was just Haruhi. Her eyes beamed brightly, so full of energy in what would have been a dreary day of talking about a threat to her life. That rambunctious smile put me at ease, eliciting a "phew" from my lips.
"Hey, guys!" she cried cheerily. "I'm back!"
"Good afternoon, Haruhi," Itsuki greeted cordially.
"Good afternoon," Nagato monotoned.
Like a sergeant in command of a machine-gun squad, she planted her feet wide on the floor and her hands flamboyantly on her hips. "It's official! No one has seen Mikuru in the school grounds anywhere since this morning. That means she's really absent."
"Ah, yes, that's true," I replied weakly, slightly trembling, and with a little shame in face in trying to mask what I really know, the info I got from Itsuki which indicated that she, Haruhi, might be in trouble.
He looked at me curiously. "Kyon, you looked like you seen a ghost?"
"No, Haruhi," I replied.
She then gave me jaundiced eye, arms crossed. "Kyon... Are you hiding something behind my back?"
"No! I did not," I exclaimed excitedly.
Haruhi then let out satisfied smile. "Good, Kyon." Then she went back to her stormtrooper pose. "Okay. As you all know, Mikuru has not reported to class or the club for the whole. That means Mikuru might have been missing. As of this moment, I'm starting the SOS Brigade's latest mission: the investigation of the disappearance of Mikuru Asahina!"
"Haruhi, I think you're going a little overboard," I refuted. "Mikuru simply had a-"
"The mission begins today!" she announced, clearly not wanting to listen to any rational explanation that I might provide for the sake of adventure. "Synchronize watches!"
Haruhi, none of us wear watches.
After that she grabbed her bag and went out the door. She called out, "Hurry, guys. I will not tolerate tardiness." Passing buy other students, who seemed either oblivious or slightly surprised by her.
"Let's go, Kyon," Itsuki chimed. "Let's not face the wrath of a lady in waiting." Good advice. We hurriedly got up, arranged everything and grabbed our things. I locked the door behind us, walking hurriedly down the hall to catch up with the unbound goddess.
I was alongside Yuki as we hurried up. I said to her, "Yuki, you got something to explain to me. How does Haruhi not notice that we're in 2027?"
"I created a data jurisdiction that filters Haruhi's perception of the environment around her," she explained in a emotionless way. "I would explain once I meet my counterpart."
"You have one?" I said in surprise.
I heard a beeping sound. I looked at Itsuki picking up his cellphone. He said, "Excuse me, guys. I've got to take this call. Tell Haruhi that I'll meet up in the cafe."
I gave me word as Itsuki departed from us to the bathroom while we catch up for her.
Itsuki Koizumi entered the boys' bathroom. He looked around to see that no one was around to use it. The cubicles were empty and it looked like it just had been recently cleaned. He could smell the scent of cleaner in it. His shoes left faint footprints on the drying floor. He took the cellphone, activated it by his thumbprint and put it on talk.
"This is Reynaud," he spoke. "I gave Kyon the necessary information concerning our current situation."
"Very well, Reynaud," his caller replied.
"But I believe it's imperative that we inform Kyon further of this matter. Of course we have to only give him what we deem is needed for him to know."
"I agree. On the other hand, we have problems with operational security, we need to share this information discreetly."
"I understand but when will you authorize me? Armacham is a clear and imminent danger to Haruhi. I believe he has a right to know more."
"Yes, it's true. Unfortunately, our current situation doesn't allow us to do anymore than what. Our resources have been spread thin. We're pushing everyone and everything to the limit. With the situation in Fairport deteriorating rapidly and our own problems mounting here, we don't have the luxury of being careless."
"I performed the procedure for Top Brass. I believe that confirms our suspicions of Armacham," Itsuki said vehemently.
The caller answered him, "Yes, we know that no one else can pull off that sort of stunt. We will allow all the resources we can spare." Then he added coldly, "You must remember that you're on a short leash, Itsuki, if that's what you really are. We've had operations go wrong with poor or incorrect intelligence, we've had agents compromised in the field and had penetration before. You're only with us because you have the director's sanction and that stunt. But you are still subordinate to me."
"Yes, sir," the esper answered slowly, his knuckles whitened around the phone.
"I've been around in the organization since its founding just like you but I've promoted much faster since your supposed demise. Now, if that's a source of tension for you, I don't give a shit. We're professionals and this is still an agency of professionals. You better act like one."
"Continue your mission, we'll update you on a need-to-know basis. Dismissed." The caller hang up.
Itsuki's eyes narrowed as he pocketed the phone. He breathed to himself. "Yes, sir... You sonofabitch."
I hope you liked this chapter. I've been on a hiatus on this for quite sometime. I've typed this story as best as I could so please feel free to point errors and criticize. I've had a hard time trying to decide which info is allowed so I don't put a lot of spoilers. I've been reading a number of spy novels and recently read Stephen King's Dreamcatcher. And Disappearance is a great movie which I've enjoyed a lot. The internet kiosk was a very good idea, especially the thought that it could replace phone booths in the near future. As for some of the lore of FEAR, I've done some original ideas such Fairport's pre-1950 history, the Richard White-Hayes, and a little background of FEAR.
Ralf Konig, by the way, is one of the best known and commercially successful comic book creators in Germany. Some of his works are humor involving homosexuality(I'm not gay myself!) and his books are translated into many languages and he has many fans among heterosexual readers.
Here's to you Haruhi fans. Thank you for reading.