I’ve loved games since I was a kid.
The feeling of clearing mission after mission as they appeared was so satisfying.
I don’t know if I got good because I liked them, or if I liked them because I’m good.
Miu Watabe is 18 years old. She wears glasses and has curly hair, isn’t into fashion, and you’d probably call her pretty. She lives alone in Tokyo and her parents live in Shimane prefecture. She’s also a genius hacker that goes by the name of Hi-Q.
As a hacker, she’s first-rate. If you ask her, she could find you anything from the phone number of the most popular girl in school to a Hollywood scandal with ease. However, she’s always personally hated crime, so she’d never use her skills for evil.
The reason she hates crime so much stems from her grandfather. He was a police officer by the name of Sadatoki Watabe, and before Miu was born, he fell prey to criminal deception and departed this plane at the young age of 41. Yet, he’s still alive and well.
Well, he’s not alive exactly. Revived as an android might be more accurate. Her grandfather is a superhero, known as ONI. Miu supports ONI and other Heroes as a Sidekick.
There’s a building in the back streets of Akihabara that, at first glance, appears to house a multitude of different businesses, but is actually entirely a research facility for the Hiraga conglomerate. They also own a huge research facility in Shinjuku called Hiraga Tower, so the Akihabara facility is probably just a hobby space for the CEO’s personal projects and tinkering.
The rich do life differently.
Miu pulls a key-card from her pocket and enters the building.
Genji Hiraga: “There you are. Pass me that bolt.”
Genji Hiraga is the eighth head of the Hiraga Corporation. He wages war on Tokyo’s most formidable enemies as the superhero ElecArmor.
A recent appearance by King Kaiju, a catastrophic monster, has left Tokyo devastated in its wake. Hiraga and Miu have been working on an anti-titan robot to counter it. The Prototype-001 Bot. It has almost exactly the same shape as TwinBee from the retro 2D shooting game, with a round body and little arms and legs attached.
Hiraga: “It moves just fine, but getting it to do it with a person in there is still a work in progress.
It’s not the same as putting the ElecArmor suit on and going for a spin.”
Miu: “Mr. Hiraga, is Trackball online?”
“Trackball” is the prototype’s pet name, since it looks like the ball from an old computer mouse.
Hiraga: “Yeah, the connection’s fine. Password’s the same as yesterday.”
Miu: “I wrote some new code—I’m going to try it.”
As she spoke, she took a notebook pc out of her backpack and began the Trackball update.
Electric Town Ticket Gate, Akihabara Station
Young adult novels and anime adverts covered every surface, and risqué anime girls caught the eye of every passer-by. Miu leaned against a wall with an impossibly beautiful young girl pictured on it, listening to anime intro songs on her oversized headphones. A man approached her, wiping the sweat from his brow.
Haruki: “Sorry to keep you waiting.”
His name is Haruki Takamura, a detective at the National Police HQ. He works with the Heroes to protect the city folk from the Villains’ crimes. That officially makes him Miu’s teammate in protecting Tokyo.
Miu: “All right, here you go.”
Miu took off her headphones and pulled out a USB stick with a cute character on it to give to Haruki.
Miu: “Here’s the data on the bank account with the suspicious transactions. They appeared one after another, like lemmings.”
Haruki: “Thanks. With this kind of evidence, all we need now is for the people in charge to make a move.”
Miu: “Treat it like leaked info from inside the company as usual, won’t you?” Miu regularly works with Haruki to capture heinous criminals.
Haruki: “Yeah, no worries. Will you take a walk with me? I wanted to talk to you about something else today as well.”
They headed towards Chuo-Dori from Electric Town and pushed their way through the crowds onto a quieter street. The noise of the city grew a little more distant as they entered the alley.
Haruki: “Five pop idol group fans and one idol have disappeared. All eyewitness testimonies were in Akihabara.”
It definitely did not feel good to hear that something nasty was brewing in Miu’s favorite part of town.
Her mouth curled down at the edges.
Haruki: “You know Akihabara pretty well, right?”
Miu: “I guess.”
Haruki: “I know I shouldn’t keep involving you since you’re a civilian, but I want you in on this investigation.”
Haruki stopped and pointed to a building down the street.
Haruki: “This is the missing idol’s talent agency. I’m going to check out the perimeter. Wait here.”
Miu: “Got it.”
Miu took her smartphone out of her pocket and opened a website detailing the missing idol case.
Miu got a message that Haruki was tailing a suspicious character, so she was stuck waiting. He said he’d radio her if anything happened, so Miu put in an earpiece so he could talk to her at any time.
It was the same color as her skin tone, which made it hard to detect that she was wearing it. This little spy gadget was one she’d made herself in Hiraga’s lab.
A radio call came in from Haruki. She picked up while still looking at her smartphone.
Haruki: (The suspect I’m tailing is Yōji Numata, 37 years old. A load of live music venues have banned him for repeatedly stalking idols. I found him lurking behind the agent’s building.)
Miu: (Let me see if I can find anything on him. I’ll message you.)
Haruki: (Thanks, that’s a big help. Numata’s gone inside a maid cafe. I’m going in...)
Suddenly another man was speaking to Miu.
??: “Hey, you’re pretty cute! You wanna be an idol?”
He was leering at her with a smile that was way too familiar for a first meeting. He was a gangly man, and there was something lizard-like about him.
Miu: “Uh, no, I don’t think that’s really my thing.”
??: “Not your thing? Yeah, yeah, everyone says that at first.”
Terada: “The name’s Terada. I’m a producer. You can call me ‘Pro-D’ for short, all right?”
He was insistent and wasn’t listening at all. If he kept talking at her she might end up giving in.
Haruki: (You ok?) He cut in on the radio.
Miu: (This is the worst but I can’t get out of it.)
Haruki: (If you keep talking to this producer guy you might be able to get some inside information.)
Miu: (You’re saying I have to go with him, aren’t you? No way! Come on! There’s no way I’m doing that!)
Haruki: (I know you don’t want to, but it’s for the case... Please. Numata’s on the move, gotta go, sorry.)
The connection cut off.
I know he wants to keep the peace, but Haruki can be really pushy when he’s caught up in an investigation.
Terada: “So you saw the openings, right? Come on then, this way, follow me.”
Terada casually bounded up the stairs on unusually lanky legs. It was a pretty old building, but it had been beautifully renovated. The walls were covered with still-new faux-wood wallpaper, and the waxed floor shone brightly. Miu spoke in an anxious voice as she followed Terada.
Miu: “Being an idol is... I mean I’m not sporty and I can’t even dance...”
Terada: “It’s fine, it’s fine. You’ve got something special about you. You’ll be a star if we give you a little polish. You’re nerdy, right? I’ve been looking for a nerdy type like you.”
Terada grinned, giving a thumbs up. He led the way into a floor-to-ceiling mirror room. It looked like a studio they use for dance practice. There were already four girls close to Miu’s age—all under 20 or so—waiting in the room.
Terada: “These four are idols for our label. Mugi and Nana have only just joined, but Kokomi and Ion have been with us a while now. Everyone, introduce yourselves, would ya? This little lady wants to be an idol. Oh, I didn’t get your name yet.”
‘Please enter your name’—Miu couldn’t help thinking in a meta way that if this was a life sim game, this would be exactly where the player is prompted to choose their character’s name.
Miu: “ Mi-Miu Watanabe... I’m here to become an idol.” Not. But it’s probably better to go along with it.
Kokomi: “I’m Kokomi Toudō. I’m sort of your senior, so you can ask me anything you need to!”
As far as first impressions went, she came across as pretty nice.
Ion: “I’m Ion Kusakabe, uh, being on the spot makes me nervous. We’re all in the same group so don’t worry about formalities.”
She seemed a little more direct, but she was considerate.
Mugi: “My name’s Mugi Mutsu. Call me Mugi! We’re all in this together!”
Miu got the impression that she was the energetic, lawful-good type.
Nana: “Just Nana’s fine. You probably won’t last last long, so...”
That’s a little harsh. She looks even younger than me. Probably still in high school.
Terada: “Come now, that’s not the attitude we want. We all need to get along. How about it? You’re all good girls so I’m sure you’ll be good friends in no time. Well, you'll have to cut Nana some slack. She’s got no filter.”
Miu: “Yeah, what a great bunch!”
Miu plastered on a smile so big her cheeks hurt.
Terada: "Now that you're with us, training starts tomorrow!"
Haruki: (Nicely done, now we can come and go in that building as we please.) Haruki cut in on the radio with precision timing.
Miu: “I’ll be there with bells on... ha, ha, ha...”
She stuck her tongue out when no one was watching.
Haruki: A maid cafe, an idol bar, a low-key drag bar... How many establishments does this guy go to in a day? But at least I was able to successfully install the transmitter. Which means, he’s currently in... hm?
He was using Miu’s specially made tracking device. It shows the user a Google Map location,
and it was currently showing a building that was under construction. Haruki headed to the location at a fast walking pace. It was 1 in the morning, so the streets were still lit but there weren’t many people.
Haruki: “Now why are you somewhere like that at this hour?”
Haruki took a cautious step into the gloom. He made his way through the winding stacks of building materials and up to the 2nd floor area, with its frame structure still visible. Nothing but silence greeted him.
Haruki: “There’s spiderwebs...everywhere...”
The inside of the building was covered in more spiderwebs than he could have ever imagined. He swung his flashlight around, lighting up the area. In the center of the room, there was an even bigger web hanging down. It looked like something was suspended inside it.
Even to a detective, the whole scene was nothing short of eerie. Pulling out his gun, he took a few steps toward the thing in the web. He had a feeling that he knew what it was, but he still felt a chill when he saw it clearly—it was a human corpse, spread-eagled in the web, the bottom half missing.
Haruki: “It’s hi-!”
He’d seen the dead guy’s face before. It was the man he’d been tailing; Numata.
All over his face and body were blisters, as though he’d been burned by acid. The bottom half looked like it had actually dissolved.
Haruki: “What the hell happened here?”
He looked around some more. Something huge had been there. Something huge was lurking beneath all of this. This was a nightmare level enemy—a Menace.
I have to tell the Heroes.