Toaru Majutsu no Index:Volume9 Prologue
Prologue: Preparations Stage Seen from Third-person. Parent’s_View_Point.
A seven-day event that took place from September 19-25 at Academy City, it was basically a huge athletics competition. The meet gathered all the schools in the city together, and in this place of ESP research in western Tokyo where 80 percent of the total population of just under 2.3 million people consisted of students, it was not an event to be taken lightly.
The day was the 19th, the first day of the festival.
Even though it was an early weekday morning, the city was already filled with the families of the festival participants. If the board of directors hadn’t prohibited travel by car as part of their plans to deal with all the visitors, the congestion would probably extend for tens of kilometers within the city. Since it would otherwise be faster just to walk at a time like this, they were temporarily increasing the number of running trains and subways, as well as preparing unmanned shuttles throughout the city. It was surprising that with the degree of overcrowding, there just weren’t enough drivers to go around.
Although everywhere one looked resembled a station platform at rush hour, that was just a testament to the Daihaseisai’s claim to fame as one of the largest events around.
As Academy City was only open to the public a handful of times per year, this was a special time, especially since the participants would be using ESP like people would normally see in the movies to compete. While the events were the same as any other athletics festival, for those who say “Well, I’m familiar with it from television, but I’ve never seen it in person”, to be able to experience the mysterious power known as ESP first-hand seemed to be quite an exciting and fascinating thing that outsiders to Academy City could take some amount of pride in.
Within that futuristic city, a man and a woman were walking together.
“Ohh, kaa-san, kaa-san. No matter how many times I see it, it really is overwhelming, this Academy City. It feels kind of like the expansive world I’d draw with crayons when I was a kid. If only there were trains running through tubes and flying skateboards, it would be perfect…”
The one speaking was Kamijou Touya, a certain lad’s father. He was wearing plain slacks and a business shirt with his sleeves rolled all the way up to his shoulders. His impractical tie that seemed to have been a gift remained loose, and his work boots stomped along with a merciless sound.
In contrast to Touya,
“Oh my, oh my. I don’t think this place is even close to how I imagined the future. There aren’t any galactic battle cruisers, or wars against alliances or empires of humanoid species, or red and blue lasers flying through space that give off 'pyu, pyu' sounds even though it’s supposed to be in a vacuum, right? And I also want to see those sabers that glow like a lamp…”
The one who replied was Kamijou Shiina, a certain lad’s mother. She looked half Touya’s age and even their clothes made them seem incompatible. She was wearing a one-piece dress possibly made of silk or some other delicate materials that looked extremely smooth and reached down to her ankles. On top of that she wore a cardigan. In her arms she was holding the handle of a basket that probably contained their boxed lunches. Upon her head was a wide-brimmed hat and she seemed to give off an aura of extreme upper class.
Rather than husband and wife, they seemed more like an aristocrat’s young daughter and her chauffeur. They were walking to the event grounds where their son was going to be participating in the opening ceremonies.
“Kaa-san, I think instead of the ‘near’ future, you’d call it the far distant future. Although, if it’s something like a lightsaber you’re looking for, you could probably find it in this city…Well, let’s stop with this reckless conversation. Don’t you agree? The mood is so nice. Let’s not ruin it with talk of waste and destruction, hm?”
In the sky, bursting fireworks that let off white smoke could be seen. What seemed to be news helicopters were flying all over the place. As the city was generally open during the Daihaseisai, even television relays had been approved. Seats for commentators had been set up, and temporary studios had even been built here and there within the city. The potential ratings were on par with that of the World Cup, so they were probably feeling frantic, Touya thought as a businessman.
Just then, someone crossed in front of them.
Upon an automatic patrol bot that looked like a drum, a girl wearing a maid uniform was sitting. Similar to a salesgirl at a baseball stadium, she had a tray on her stomach that was supported by a cord around the back of her neck,
“Hey~. Maid lunches, wouldn’tcha like one of Academy City’s famous maid lunches~? Anyone want a boxed lunch from the Ryouran Domestic Studies Institute for Girls, well, actually made by a maid apprentice~?”
As the couple watched dumbfounded at the odd sales pitch, the patrol bot carrying the maid silently ran off. Moreover, considering that she was calling it a maid lunch, it seemed more like a toshikazu-styled lunch instead.
Going “Oh my”, Shiina held her cheeks,
“…There really are a lot of different schools in Academy City, aren’t there.”
While he continued walking, Touya also watched the maid (apprentice, to be exact) girl as she disappeared from sight,
“Well, it is a place that consolidates the various institutions in the world into one area, after all. I guess they would have things like the domestic studies from various nations of the world. But, this city really is something when they have maids walking the streets like it’s noth---Ah, uwah?!”
Not paying attention, Touya crashed into someone.
“Kyah! Ah, I’m sorry for running into you.”
The one apologising seemed to be a female college student. She was wearing a faded gray business shirt and long black slacks. They were of simple design, but a single glance revealed that they were brand-name with an appearance that wouldn’t look odd even if worn by a company president in a meeting. However, in contrast with her attire, it wasn’t a considerably harsh aura, but somehow the woman gave the impression of a delinquent being forced to dress up for an occasion. She was the complete opposite of Touya who wore business attire day in and day out for work.
The woman Touya ran into put on a friendly smile,
“Ah, I think I’ve become lost now. Umm, sorry but do you know where Tokiwadai Middle School is from here?”
“Hm…Um, wait just a moment please.”
Touya rummaged around before pulling out a brochure. Academy City was huge and the number of different schools participating was significant as well, so it was as thick as a guidebook one would normally take on a trip overseas. Giving up on finding it directly on the map, he turned to the index at the back of the book,
“Toki, Toki…I don’t see it. Tokiwadai Middle School doesn’t appear to be on the list. Maybe this is what they meant in the introduction when they said the official pamphlet wasn’t at liberty to cover everything?”
“Uwah! Is that right? Then, just where could that Mikoto be~! Even after I told her I’d be taking a leave of absence from the university to come here!”
Could Mikoto be the name of her younger sister? Touya was wondering while looking over the guidebook when she suddenly moved closer. Touching shoulders with Touya, she was looking at the page he had unfolded.
“To, To, To, Toki, Toki, Toki---Uwah! It really isn’t there! What am I supposed to do?!!”
Apparently without a set meeting place (As it was just before the opening ceremony, her cell phone was probably off as well), the woman moaned in despair. Her defenseless cheeks seemed on the verge of colliding with Touya’s unshaven face. Her soft hair gently brushed against his ear. A sweet smell drifted from those soft strands.
Touya quickly turned his face away, when,
“Oh my, oh my, Touya-san. Again?”
“K, kaa-san? W-what do you mean by ‘again’?”
As Touya gave his discretionary response, Shiina brought one hand up to her cheek and gave a sorrowful sigh that came from the depths of her heart. Even so, he could feel a darkness growing beyond her facade.
“Geez, Touya-san. Befriending a woman you run into on the road, then developing such a nice mood using those unassuming words and actions. Just how many times does this make? Too many to count I should think. Oh my oh my, oh dear. To make me so angry, maybe Touya-san is a masochist?”
While Shiina’s face was starting to match the intensity of such portraits as found on the backs of the 1000 or 5000 yen bills, the woman standing next to Touya continued to grasp his arm without noticing Shiina’s change at all while saying things like “Hey, do you know where the management committee tent is? Hey, do you?”. As for Touya,
‘Kaa-san is scary~! B-but, but kaa-san’s minor bouts of jealousy are kind of cute as well, so what should I do?!’, he wondered as he wasn’t sure if he should defuse the situation or just savor it,
“Oh my. Isn’t that Touma-san?”
Seeing how Shiina’s attention had been drawn elsewhere, Touya secretly relaxed. ‘I’m saved. But, I wonder why I’m sort of disappointed?’, Touya wondered to himself as he followed Shiina’s line of sight. Next to him, the woman was still holding onto his arm as she looked at the pamphlet.
There was a crowd in front of them. Most of those within the crowd were of course students wearing gym clothes. Though they could be lumped together under the description gym clothes, each of the schools had their own uniform; however, they were all wearing either red or white headbands.
Past the crowd, they recognised their own child making an annoyed gloomy expression. As he was participating in the Daihaseisai, of course he was wearing a short-sleeves and shorts gym uniform. Next to him, there was a girl wearing running shorts and an actual uniform suited for track and field. Looking up from the spread out pamphlet, the woman pointed at the girl with the shoulder-length brown hair, “Ah. That’s my Mikoto. I’m so glad. The university was so busy, and we hadn’t talked about setting a meeting place or anything.”, she started explaining.
It seemed that, with all the congestion between them, the children on the other side hadn’t noticed their parents.
However, with the way they were speaking to one another so loudly, their words at least made their way over clearly.
“Hey, tell me, red or white, which side did you end up on?”
“What? Oh, I’m on red. Huh, could it be that you’re also on red?”
“Ohh, okay then. Let’s make sure to do our best together—“
“Well, umm, if there’s a contest where all the red members are together—“
“Actually! The truth is I’m on the white team!!”
“Just look at my white headband! It signifies our resolution to leave not a single one of you standing!! Anyway, joining forces would have been impossible. Think of the difference between a middle schooler and a high schooler! We’re going to snatch up all the points, so prepare yourself!!”
“Why you! Hmph, looking down on us just because we’re younger. We’ll blow away your weakling white team!!
“Yeah right~, as if! Actually, if I lose to you somehow, why don’t we have a penalty game! I’ll listen to anything you say!”
“Y-you’ve said it now. You’ve got a deal… Anything, right? Fine.”
“Fine then, little Miss Tokiwadai! Even though you never beat me, you sure dream big! So alternatively, if you lose, then there will also be a penalty game.”
“Wha! T-then, in other words, that means a-anything you say…”
“Hmm? Looks like you’re shaking, Misaka-sa~n. Is this all the self-confidence you’ve got after running your mouth like that just now, hmm?”
“…Fine. Let’s do it. Don’t try to cry your way out of this afterwards!”
“I see, I see. With that said, the penalty festival starts now!!”
What did you say *spark spark*!! With a bolt mixed in as the two clamored, their guardians watched them stiffly. There seemed to be a bit of a gap between their ideal visions of their child.
Kamijou Shiina placed both hands on her cheeks,
“Oh my, oh my…Speaking so cleverly and making such an unreasonable request of such a young girl like that, who on earth could he take after I wonder? Oh dear, now that I think about it, it reminds me of my younger days.”
Kamijou Touya showed a shocked face,
“W-what the. Saying anything goes in a penalty game with a middle school girl, just what sort of thing are you planning to make her do, Touma!!”
As for the woman next to him, ‘Is this because of their influence? Well, I’ll have to have a talk with Mikoto about this afterwards. So young and naïve…’, is what she was thinking as she sighed and placed one hand on her forehead.
And so, the seven-day Academy City unified athletics festival known as the Daihaseisai began.