The Longing Of Shiina Ryo:Bonus Disc Red Orchestra Chapter 1 - Strings
Part 1 – Butterflies and hurricanes.
Pranks were common for me since the moment I decided to protect Ryo. They were naïve, funny and sometimes not, and childish. I never had a grudge against Ryo, since she always tried her best to not overdo with her jokes even if she sometimes wasn’t able to. Of course, for me, not used to pranks, it was hard to refrain from getting angry; we were children, despite being peculiar existences. But I slowly, through mental and physical training grew to accepting everything with its flaws, to become what I’ve become.
"I'M IN DESPAIR!"
So, my very first reaction when I saw Shin-tsu’s strange behavior… no, when I heard his shout, was to freeze on the spot, staring at him blankly. I could only hope that I hadn’t opened my mouth to its maximum capacity without realizing it.
They say that people are very sensitive to environment so their reactions differ in different places. And I was unable to prove that theory wrong since it really was crucial factor for rendering me speechless. It was one thing to shout at air in open space without any people near you, but it was completely different to do it in the café full of clients.
At first, their reaction was the same as mine, but what stunned me was the fact that they actually started laughing sincerely, without any ill intentions in their voices, and the shout sparkled some whispers which were along these lines, “It’s him again!”, “So, is that girl the one who played along with him?”, “I think it was a different girl last time.”
I breathed in trying to calm down through breathing exercises. So he decided to invite me to Le Ciel Bleu just to mentally attack me even before our conversation, using butterfly effect by reenacting his first meeting with Ryo as a weapon? The changes in varieties were too drastic for that, though.
After five seconds of silence, which was now reigning in café because we with Shin-tsu became the targets of public attention, sounds of my footsteps finally reappeared. I slowly walked to his table, making sure to observe his slightest changes in posture.
“Bring us one cup of green tea and a cup of Cappuccino, please.” I voiced the order addressing it to thirty-year old maid with car-ears on her head who was near us. She pressed her dry lips together releasing ‘myu’ sound in the process, turned around and went to bar counter. I seated myself and gestured Shi-tsu towards his seat. “So what was with that little play?”
Shin-tsu, who slightly moved his hand as if drawing the pistol out of its holster like a cowboy from Westerns, nodded his head and followed the suit. He visibly relaxed when he felt that others’ gazes finally lost interest to him. “I just tried another approach.”
“I’ll tell you later.”
“Not determined yet.”
After first round of our usual banter, he intently looked in my eyes as if trying to test the saying ‘Eyes are the mirror of the soul’. I returned the favor with calm gaze, and that silent battle was broken only after return of waitress who with visible accumulated stress put cups with heated liquids on our table. She gulped feeling that she was now the target of our gazes and silently retreated back to bar counter.
“You still distrust me, Shin-tsu?” My question sounded more like a statement or an axiom.
“Yes, I do. Sorry, if I sound like a religious fanatic but almost omnipresent being is to be believed in, not to be trusted.”
“Didn’t you yourself test my abilities and my explanation using force?”
“And I only know that part of your words were truth.” Shin-tsu sighed and rested his hands on the table with a troubled expression. “Look, I simply can’t understand if even this conversation is just continuation of our mind games.”
I unconsciously let my nails to draw the blood from my palms. “Only if you’ll make it one.”
He sighed and I knew – he already noticed red trace of blood on my wrist. His face told me much more than he intended to reveal with his words. He definitely was troubled by current predicament in our bonds but he tried to erase that from his mind by evading the process of solving problems. And that raised one question in my mind again, was he always like that? Was his entire life the ceaseless circle of escapism?
His next words forced me to pay more attention to him. “When I met Ryo for the first time, I was spacing out and she was trying to ignore the silence and my nervousness. Now, the situation is reverse... Well, it’s not important. You wanted to hear something older, right?”
I focused, and adding slight hint of curiosity in my voice said. “Straight to the topic, aren’t you? You’re right. I know only small details from Ryo, and I learned something while that bloody mess in school was unfolding. But that’s not enough to close the experiment.”
“Still on that record? Whatever. So, you wish to listen to my side of that story?”
“Points are reduced for needless questions.”
“…you want me to use a tsukkomi retort?”
“You’ll make a bad straight man.”
Shin-tsu rolled his eyes and sighed in exasperation. The tense atmosphere started to fade away but its presence was still clear. “Alright, alright. Don’t make that face as if you had eaten a lemon and a overly hot red pepper simultaneously.”
I guess my face twisted in a way which was described by Shin-tsu. But it was only because I didn’t really comprehend his parallels. They were simply unimaginable.
“Proceed, please. Let’s not waste our time for pointless remarks.” I took my cup from saucer and took a gulp of my tea which hadn’t lost its temperature yet. Shin-tsu’s eyes suddenly sparkled in a strange way, but I didn’t feel that there was any sort of somnifacient or poison in my cup. Besides, I made the order myself, so his gaze made me really interested in what kind of trap he set up.
“Yeah, the time is important.” Shin-tsu said with dark voice. He closed his eyes and continued, knowing that he had my attention with all the time in the world. “It happened a year ago…”
Part 2 – Escape.
My first impression from my new mansion was that my family finally decided to buy me a normal apartment, ignoring the fact that small house was for my personal and exclusive use.
It was an ordinary old building without any fancy decorations on it, just natural surface of bricks – or was the original material for walls stone? A wooden door greeted me with its simple design coming straight from Medieval. And the only anachronism here, which reminded me that I was living in the age of active technical progress, was modern plastic windows. Or, rather, it would have been, if not for antenna on the flat rooftop of the building.
I inadvertently sighed and decided against spacing out in the middle of the street. Besides, my heavy luggage and impatient taxi driver was pretty good in dragging me out of day-dreaming. Fortunately, I was able to tolerate such joy-killers. I needed to savor the short moments of silence in the back of my head.
“Excuse me, would you mind helping me with luggage?” I asked the driver, oblivious to the fact that he was trying to get my attention by using the very same question. He nodded and lifted first box on his left shoulder.
I took a moment to recall where I’d put my key and then slightly accelerated from standing still. After walking to the door I inserted a small piece of iron in the keyhole and turned it twice. The lock clicked.
I opened the door and stepped to the side letting the driver go in. He calmly climbed four small stairs, carefully put the box on the floor, going outside to get the rest of my luggage immediately afterwards. And I followed him.
After five minutes of necessary weight-lifting we finished with our task and I gave the taxi driver money, expressing my gratitude. He nodded his head, counted notes and drove off with words said, “What a strange fellow.”
After seeing him off, I exhaled, closed the door and took a look at my new safe haven. My new house had only one storey and its size was just fine for a lone man. The corridor which led me into the living room was narrow and short, decorated like a cave. Boxes were scattered here and there, but I didn’t feel like moving them in more spacious rooms. It wasn’t that important for now.
The living room was quite big for such small-looking mansion and it utterly crushed my hopes for standard house. The ceiling here still looked like the inner-top part of cave, but it turned into usual flat surface made of wood and plastic on the half-way. The walls and floor were covered only by tiles of different colors. And old other furniture was modernized. Who could’ve thought that table for sewing machine would be a washstand? The effect of culture shock was pretty strong so I decided against exploring other rooms for now.
However, one thing caught my eyes. There was a nice computer in the corner of living room near big windows which rendered lights useless as of now. And it looked like modem was already connected to telephone line and to system unit…
So that was the sole role of technical progress for you. Internet.
You appeared, huh.
Not happy? Or you are more bothered by jet lag?
Both. And you just destroyed my mood.
I decided to simply ignore mysterious voice’s nagging and in low spirits walked to computer which was resting on the desk. A chair made a low sound when I sat down but it heroically endured my weight. As expected from Italian masters.
Was it praise to them?
Don’t irritate me. Let me enjoy these calm moments until the storm.
The computer hummed. I leaned against the back of the chair patiently waiting for it to turn on. The display flickered and soon it finally showed me the desktop with its contents. I sat up, then slightly bent my back and started clicking on the shortcuts searching for Internet connection. It lasted until my gaze fell on the taskbar where I found out that the connection was ready to surfing even without my commands.
Feeling slightly discouraged by meaninglessness of my actions I clicked on the shortcut of certain fox browser and fished out of my pocket the note with a number of sites on it. They were recommended to me for ‘rehabilitation process’ by some doctors but I highly doubted their usefulness. Nevertheless, I needed to try, at the very least.
Good boy. I’m so proud of you.
Ignoring the voice which was enjoying itself I typed down an address of the first site. Browser’s page turned white then showed me a pink skin of musical forum. I scrolled it down and then, feeling how my eye brow twitched, I decided against signing up on the site. Pop music wasn’t my forte.
You mean that it was kind of ironic to use that word in terms of my musical tastes?
Well, in my case it can be used both ways. Even though I know that the meaning by adding the word forte may be hit-or-miss pun when your listener is musician, I think the irony behind my use of such term could make a good impression on understanding people. By the way, I don’t particularly like melodies written entirely in forte, so I could safely say that forte isn’t my forte.
Where did you steal that phrase from?
You simply missed the point, didn’t you?
I sighed, closing the tab of the site, and pressed buttons of keyboard in slightly chaotic pattern. Next site greeted me with black skin and image of young girl with wings on her back. I gingerly opened one of the topics in hope that I could find something good on the site with such eerie tongue-twisting name. The idea wasn’t good for certain reasons. There were posts with only capital letters and I really couldn’t understand what they were talking about. Strange, I thought that I knew pretty much about that company’s games.
I looked at the small note which had five more sites on it. Each and every of them had mysterious titles, so I closed my eyes and spent some time recalling childish rhymes in hope that it’ll help me to choose a normal forum for making new acquaintances.
“Scout, Scout, Scout, Scout, you’re out.” In the end I ended up opening second site. And it became the start of the adventure which will forge the twisted bonds between infamous KEN, certain peculiar Japanese girl Shiina Ryo and crazy serial killer Death Drive.
Part 3 – Hate This and I’ll Love You.
“Took you long enough to simply retell how you wasted ten minutes or so of your life in Sicily.” I sighed tiredly, interrupting the flow of his story. Shin-tsu finally opened his eyes as if I took him out of trance.
“I guess, I got carried away by details.” He smiled with serene face and I suddenly noticed pouches under his eyes. Did he sleep last night or did he spend that time just for the sake of cooking up the story to appease me? I doubted it since he told the story just like he did in Ayaka’s case but…
I never had the time to finish my thought.
“So your deduction works just perfectly.” He suddenly sat up and frowned, leaving no trace of his previous expression on his face. Hopefully, it wasn’t in a way he did last time but his words which appeared out of blue still stunned me. I took a breath to return to my calm state of mind.
“Such architecture is typical to Sicily. Cave-like ceiling, odd mix of ancient style and modern and you mentioned Italian masters. Besides, I did my research on Sicily while we with Ryo were working on concepts.” I slowly explained reasons for my lucky guess. Yet, my words still sounded like an excuse on the interrogation. Did their trial really affect me in such way for the time being?
I rubbed my temples and used harsh tone to return conversation back on its tracks. “And quit your games, please. I didn’t come all the way here just to be interrogated. We already decided what would be the price for that information, didn’t we?”
“Sorry, I still need to cool off.” Shin-tsu suddenly lowered his head in short bow. I sighed and relaxed, only now realizing that my entire body was tensed up.
“Am I really forgiven?”
“And am I?”
Our conversation came to its dead end. I understood deep inside that there was no point in continuing from this point so I lightly touched my cup of tea which had long since cooled down. Shin-tsu looked at my hand and exasperatedly leaned against the back of his seat.
“I guess my time is out?”
And that sentence marked the end of our conversation.