That gardener that I’ve frequently met randomly in Mizuho was the former principal of Katsura High School, which Itsuki and Kotomi attended.
Me: “So, do you think I should tell…”
Yuko: “No! He knows that I am a “supervisor” here as he does trim the plants around this building regularly, but I’m not sure if he knows that I’m the same person as one of his former students. He talked about Kotomi to you without mentioning her name. I’m surprised to learn that our director used his own family member to conduct experiments, and Kotomi having brainwashed since birth to behave as what they wanted and do things to her without herself not knowing anything about it, but I can’t seem to figure out what that is. There could be a sub-conscious mind inside Kotomi that would notice that her own body and behavior is different than what it could have been. Having possibly lived as she is now since within a year from birth, her memories as a baby might not be accurate. We don’t know who else might be present, but her parents might have a high likelihood of knowing something about it.”
The irony here is that Yuko herself is making hand signals unrelated to what she’s talking about while saying that: complaining about the uniform she’s currently wearing, pointing to her seemingly larger bust, her stocking-covered legs, the gap between her lowest part of her skirt and an area a little above her knees. She also pointed to a random staff visible nearby. Her tone of voice doesn’t seem to reflect the complaints about herself. She seem to be trying to signal to me on her dislike of what she’s made to wear, but couldn’t say verbally.
Me: “So you’re saying that you don’t like it?”
This was a general answer on both Kotomi being experimented upon, and Yuko’s appearance. Yuko agreed with me by both signalling and vocally. Not sure if this is a reply to both about Kotomi being brainwashed and Yuko’s new look or either one. I have to say it.
Me: “Say Yuko. Were you aware that your hand signals to me are completely different from what you were saying at the same time?”
Yuko: “I was making signals to you when I said that? I don’t even understand hand signals… Then again, I don’t know if there’s any increased restriction on leaking information out or an ability added to confuse other people.”
Yuko was nodding repeatedly as she said that and indicating that what she’s saying now is not what she wanted to say. These two are contradicting each other that I don’t know which to believe as there are half-truths in both and conflicting each other.
Me: “Oh yes, since I’m already here, how’s the progress with finding that missing friend of Takagi?”
Yuko looked through her computer and looked around.
Yuko: “Before that, now that anything that could overhear us is out of the way, let me get back to you on your earlier question about my appearance, which is the most obvious thing you noticed when you saw me today. It’s a sub-set of the usual uniform specifically for Hatsuya staff that wasn’t ready when the new design was introduced in April. Other large companies too, but with different design and/or colour scheme. Why it took so long was that companies took their own time. You already know what all versions of the uniform mostly have in common. This uniform everyone here wears is based on a branch somewhere, which I don’t know what it specializes in.”
Yuko looked down on herself for some moments before she started to become sad. Nothing was heard except for the computer at this moment.
Yuko: “Why did they send me to this branch? Since coming here, I am forced to live almost my entire working life as a woman as they made me sign some contract that lasts for decades. I would like to say that I’m forced to crossdress, but every aspect of me is in the gender of what I’m made to wear is designed for. This campus has a strongly enforced rule of strictly only allowing women in, but to have people like me to be… (awkward silence follows) …amazed at how advanced everything is in here, it’s more advanced than what our country is known for that I’m proud to be working here.”
Her speech seemed to have abruptly halted midway for some reason, and what followed obviously doesn’t match the tone from before the interruption. Yuko was shaking her head a lot as she said the later part. She gave up from being unable to say the saddest thing on her mind that she just fell onto the ground and started crying. For some reason, me and everyone else fell onto the same floor at the same time to, forcing to abandon whatever they were doing a moment earlier because everyone is strongly aroused at the same time.
Yuko (crying): “Why must I go through this almost everyday from the perspective of the gender I wasn’t even born as? At least don’t make me experience this…”
Almost abruptly, I was suddenly standing back up and Saeko suddenly sitting on a chair at the office computer, as if what I had just experienced never happened. The clock that was in my sight also suddenly jumped by about 30 minutes.
Me: “Hey, what’s going on here?”
She looked extremely happy, a sharp contrast of being sad and crying just a moment earlier. So happy that it kind of scares me, considering how stressed she is.
Yuko: “Saeko… you mean you have no memory of what happened for the past hour? Are you okay? Tell me what happened from your point of view and I’ll figure out what happened.”
She seemed to not know what I was talking about.
Me: “Around the time when we were talking to each other when everyone, including me, abruptly collapsed onto the floor stopped talking and cried something about not wanting to experience something. The next moment I’m aware of is me suddenly back up and me saying “what’s going on here” to you a moment ago.”
Yuko’s expression has changed on the mention of something I shouldn’t have experienced, as though she knew what I was talking about.
Yuko: “I think that was when the synchronized daily random thing started. You weren’t supposed to experience it as a student, but the fact you experienced the first few seconds of it tells me that the system is not sure what to do with you due to conflict of status. As to the true reason as to why it’s even happening at all, even I don’t know. It does mysteriously relief me from all the stress I had and have me feel really happy inside.”
She’s showing me an empty glass bottle of milk that is well known in the campus, and doing the action of squeezing with her fingers on top of the mouth of that bottle as she said the above.
Yuko: “It’s a wonder how they made this if it’s neither from animals, plants, nor artificially made. Anyway, after recovering from that, I checked your memories to see what you know about this task you asked me to do from your point of view to understand better what you were saying. While checking, I did notice that what we could say to each other, as non-guests of Mizuho, has changed. However, some of the things you aren’t supposed to know as a Mizuho student conflicts with your position as a Hatsuya research institute staff, which allows you to know most of what the general population of Mizuho aren’t supposed to be able to voice out. They have recently not allowed supervisors to tell certain things to students, which means that it has affected what I could say to you as a student. I’ve created your secondary status as a Hatsuya staff to overcome this, but only in certain situations where I can talk to you more freely now. As a reminder, you are officially not a staff of my branch. Students, non-Mizuho Academy based Hatsuya staff, and everyone else aren’t usually allowed to enter. You were able to come in only because the “advanced biometric security” couldn’t tell the difference between the two of us, or the door wasn’t closed properly when you came, which is usually caused by the last person who opened it not closing it properly, or someone accidentally pressed the unlock switch. Fortunately, nothing was stolen as practically everyone in this campus, including visitors, wouldn’t even be able to think of doing criminal acts, hence the lack of a visible security measures around the perimeter of the campus. There’s a security camera, but I didn’t see anyone else causing this security problem.”
There’s a hint in her words that she’s letting me in on purpose. By saying “didn’t see anyone else“, did you mean yourself, or you weren’t even looking at the footage?
Yuko: “So, about that missing friend of your Powell employee… Er, I can’t pronounce his name, or spell it from memory.”
She’s right. It’s very long name that I’ve never seen before that is split into more than 2 parts that I’m not sure which is what, but that’s not important right now.
Me: “Finally. Do you know anything?”
Yuko looked as if what she found out was disturbing.
Yuko: “He found a time-traveling device and unknowingly traveled back to about 20 years ago. The main problem is that he had trouble with the authorities in that time for possessing invalid documents and trying to use money with designs or dated newer than that era that are technically valid in the present time. Having stumbled across the time device instead of making it, he obviously doesn’t know how to contact our present. He’s also not significant enough for anyone in the far future of the time he’s in now to be rescued. It’s already difficult to find the present location of a person anywhere on Earth without a tracking device, but multiply that with the universe, dimensions, and time (which are usually not factored in), it’s a nightmare and likely to be impossible to find out what happened if you are not the person in question.”
Me: “Are there any complications with rescuing him?”
Yuko: “Well, there isn’t a problem bringing him out of his prison without alerting the media. The problem is us unknowingly or indirectly doing something we do in the past would affect or has already affected our present. It would be good if the latter theory happen, because anything we do in the past would not affect our present as it’s already a direct consequence. Even if we don’t see any immediate changes, you would never know if it would cause a change to others. Another thing to be aware about is that the town itself is most frequented by Kotomi’s mother and her birth family. The timeline the friend we are rescuing is about the time of Kotomi’s birth, so we should be more careful not to interact with her relatives, especially the father and uncle.”
Me: “That dimensional changer device we worked on in high school, you specifically, seems to have some kind of a time lag. You see, when I wanted to come back from the other dimension, it was in December, but when I arrived, the time is in March, 3 months later. What’s causing that time lag? We don’t want to end up in a different dimension while time traveling.”
Yuko: “You do have a good point there. The concept of time traveling or dimensional switching is more difficult or somewhat like designing an airplane where the design, density, volume, and electronics plays a large part of how well it works. As the concept is relatively new, it’s mostly a trial and error. The Hatsuya Research of this dimension with the relevant staff in all dimension they could think of about this. For Kotomi, however, dimensional change in either direction with the same device did not have that time skip, which is what we are trying to find out the cause of.”
Yuko was looking at the computer screen and heavily clicking and moving the mouse.
Yuko: “To make things simple, you weren’t in the same body as you were transferred to that other dimension. Since your body is a clone of that, and no similar person exist here, it thinks that you are someone new and brings what you have, which is also what the person you were cloned from has. In a way, our original dimension has been modified to accommodate you, and the persons involved with that modification would think that it has always been that way. As a matter of fact, the whole world was paused for the system to process and figure out what to do with everything, including the profits that a restaurant or any shop your Powell workers visit regularly after work, as they wouldn’t go there if the route to their previous workplace is nowhere near there. Due to how “well known” your company is, the impact of their families also extend to those staying far away. Even what seat on the train they sat at, what time they took it, also impact others. It’s a complicated chain reaction theory that needs to be worked out carefully.”
Me: “How about the people who told me about things happening in that time?”
Yuko: “That never happened. It’s a made-up memory implanted into everyone so that they don’t notice a thing, though the few days prior to you finding yourself in this dimension did happen.
The cause of my company to suddenly exist and my staff who works there that might have worked for a different company elsewhere or otherwise not even study for degree to meet the high standards to be employed… that’s certainly a huge chain reaction that needs to be worked out carefully. I’m surprised of how the Powell staff don’t mention anything of my absence as their founder, or my involvement with their own major rival.
Me: “So are we prepared yet? I’m nervous with that dimensional changer that also doubles as a time machine. It’s like an airplane: safe if done correctly, but not paying attention closely could result in a huge disaster because of the thing that was overlooked.”
Yuko: “We made another one at the same time with the dimensional traveling that is just for the purpose of time traveling. For safety reasons, object penetration and teleportation are also included. We don’t want to be time traveling and found ourselves stuck in a wall that never existed in our time. Depending on how we are stuck, we could also die if it weren’t for those last two additions. As for the money, just don’t bring notes or coins from the Heisei era or newer, though we probably don’t need money at all.”
Me: “How about you then? Are you going in there as what you are now?”
Yuko: “Well, the higher ups did give the two of us permission to head back in time to rescue that friend, but they added that the “testing period” still going on, which means that I can’t wear anything other than what I was specified to wear for the past few months… You know what I mean.”