Alternate Dimension (Part 59)

It's now the transitional period between winter and spring as I could see the snow slowly melting away and the cherry blossom petals growing. The weather's getting warmer, but still cold enough to wear warm clothing. Over there is the karaoke box Kotomi once told me she went to with her middle school friends, and how she saw her dad when she came out from the uniform store across the street.

Strange. Seeing juniors I didn't know from the schools I had attended makes me feel superior over them, but sad that I'm no longer a student. If I could be a teacher there, it wouldn't be the same either. People I know from Mihara and the schools before that would not even know me. I have just graduated from high school, but would be entering another. Getting to know people in school and the high portability of not meeting them again after graduating makes me feel sad too. Not counting graduation day, the days after the last lessons before the college entrance tests until after the first day of the school year seem to feel as though I'm skipping lessons even though there aren't any. The Hatsuya Institute has informed the school staff in advance about my admittance to Mizuho so that the teachers won't be asking me about the form on the colleges to enter, but my classmates didn't know about this (I can't tell them that I'm repeating high school from year 1 again after finishing the 3rd). The influence in the school is like strongly persuading anyone who is not planning to enter college to do so.

Backtracking to about 5-6 years ago, believe it or not, I was in the music club. Kind of surprising considering that I first entered Hatsuya Institute to program things. I have always wanted to play musical instruments, but I (as Itsuki) have never really have the chance to touch them until around middle school. That photo of me (as Saeko) with musical instruments shows what would had happened if my parents had sent me to piano and violin lessons. The programming stuff was just a side hobby that I would only do at home, but I didn't expect to be so good that even those who studied the same thing from college would be not as good as me. Not being a leader and having many seniors in a club of interest actually is more enjoyable because of fewer stress of taking care of people on top of what is supposed to be done. If Kotomi were to marry Itsuki, I would guess that I would have to take care of their children at some point... Wait... Looking at the number of years ahead and the school I was posted to, there's a possibility that I would be in a college-level class, because it would be a very long time if they don't. We'll see where I would be when the time comes, as it's hard to predict the future. I know that Hatsuya has invented some that could, but I don't know if they actually make it happen, or if it really is from the future.

[Author's note about the Mizuho uniforms: Design-wise, the student uniform might be similar to the Ousai Academy uniform. Oh, and the Kotomi that is mentioned frequently here refers to the protagonist of the third story, where Kotomi meeting Saeko upon arriving back (from Kotomi's point of view) is already described there.]

The first day of the new school year has arrived. I had bought a new mobile phone partly because to stay with the trend and not be (negatively) known as the girl with an old phone or without any. Mobile phones get obsolete in as quickly as a year, though, except for the really old ones, you can't really tell from a glance.

This new hairstyle of mine and the name Haneda Kanade (羽田奏) attached to me being my new identity that is, supposedly, a separate identity from the people from Kamisugi High and Powell institute. The change was so dramatic that I don't even recognize myself. I mean, it's as though I'm looking at someone else in the mirror, but I have direct control of her movements.

What I found strange about the academy, unlike most places, or even it's (normal) counterpart of Mihara Academy, there are absolutely no visible fencing, security measure, or a warning sign, that surrounds the Mizuho campus. The only visible division is the difference of how the road and walkways are designed and the abruptness of the change of design at the campus border with the outside, like crossing an international border. As for the vegetation areas, it's maintained by the gardeners (whom I have yet to see) right up to the border and not a bit outside, so you could tell if the outside is not maintained, or at least, differently. I heard that one of the components involved to make this work is to make people think to not even think of do anything bad inside, which I question on it's effectiveness or the possibility of affecting people's way of thinking.

Itsuki mentioned earlier that he would not come with me as he would be traveling back and forth between Mizuho Academy and Hatsuya Headquarters for work, but did not elaborate on what it was about. Well, I have been told before that Mizuho and Hatsuya work together to how things are run there, so I'm not surprised if it's related to that. Except for that first time Itsuki brought me here, I have never been here since, or enter through anything other than the vehicular entrance. Even on the inside, I had only seen the back areas that few would even go to.

As I got closer, there are more and more girls in various versions of the new Mizuho uniforms. All variations of it, except for students, have skirts of the same standard length of above the knee level that makes the girl wearing it not being able to cycle or spread their legs wide apart. Along way, there are signs with timings of the graduation ceremonies, which seems to take place latter than the ones I have attended before to make up for new students for being lost and the handicap of the uniform of not allowing anyone to be able to run. Other than the uniform becoming a bit tighter, I didn't feel any difference or see anyone transforming when I stepped in. In the campus, there are only women between the ages of 15 to 25, with anyone else outside that group being completely absent in this large campus. I spotted a few people wearing very formal business attires that were not announced. I have no idea who wears them.

The board stating what class each student would be in for the year is put up at the courtyard before the main entrance of a building, but spaced out enough to not have too much people cramped while looking at the list next to what they are standing in front of. From what I heard others saying, it's possible that some students might might skip a few academic years, and in the entire school's history, there has never been a student who has repeated a year. The number of classes per year is insane as there are more than the ones at Mihara despite being smaller, but Mihara has a large range of levels, and large scenic places.

We were ushered to head straight to the auditorium for the entrance ceremony that could easily fit about a thousand people, seated according to class. All of the other schools I have attended before usually have everyone to go to the classes first, and some self-introduction, before heading to where the ceremony is held. With what I said earlier about the number of classes and the teachers in Mizuho, that's about half of the place filled up. The school principal seems to be the only one wearing the unannounced new uniform I saw earlier. (Vice president wasn't around) I'm starting to think that people leading schools or companies in here wear them.

During the opening speech, the principal mentioned that by being conservitive or sticking to the old ways for too long would hamper productivity, and hence, a fresh new start. She also mentioned that the girls should not make it too hard for the males to like them, and neither should they let their natural feeling of being sedused disrupting their ability to think intelligently, resulting in unwanted consequences just because they couldn't think as it's happening and would be too late by the time they realised it. Out of the blue, she talks about the declining birth rate and begs them not to see it as a burden, but as a part of themselves who would be able to help and live on when unable to. The idea of the new uniforms was by the whole academy's head president, with feedback from staff and former students to have everyone to look beautiful and feel good without effort for the people wearing them.

The entire ceremony ended in the afternoon and was given time for lunch. I still do not recall who were the classmates I was sitting with as there is yet to have any self-introduction. So far, I have yet to hear anyone complaining about the uniforms not being removable in the campus, though that does not even seem to be on their minds now.

Not feeling hungry, I decided to explore the high school section. The rest of the academy would happen later. Mizuho is smaller in size when compared to Mihara, but the density is higher. The people in here, besides what I said earlier, could be told apart by a person's unique traits like their height, habits, and so on but there aren't any obese, disabled, or myopic people too. Then, I came across a lady in a non-teaching uniform (which looks almost like what one would wear to the office) doing something to the plants that form the greenery in the academy with some gardening. The gardening itself is nothing out of the ordinary, but what she's wearing and the lack of gloves does. My usual impression of school gardeners are that they are retirees who usually wear something simple, and certainly not in an office uniform. This is an obvious overkill for a gardener uniform, but in Mizuho, they are classified under the same group of people who are neither students, teachers, supervisors, or guests, that are usually the staff who work in offices of external companies. I have got to ask this person.

Me: "Um, excuse me. What are you..."

She seem wary about me at first, but she calmed down after a while.

Lady: "I sensed that you are a Hatsuya staff from headquarters with the same aura of the supervisor of their branch here, so I can tell you about things that I can't talk about to anyone else besides the top-level Mizuho staff. You were wondering what I am doing here, right?"

I nodded. I'm surprised she could read my mind.

Lady: "As you have guessed before approaching me, I am a gardener. Outside Mizuho, I am an old man in his late 70s who can't move as fast as you young people and having some age-related problems that seems to become worse if not taken care of. But here, I feel young and energetic again, and could actually understand and follow what the young people are up to. Sadly, I dread having to change back after leaving the campus when I step out. Oh, and that girl walking towards us now is my granddaughter. She's actually only 2-years old."

Girl: "Nice to meet you, I'm Komatsu Toshiko. My grandfather brought me here since my parents are with my older brother as it's first day in primary school and he has difficulty being without our parents. Grandpa, what do you mean I'm only 2-years-old? I know how to write my name in kanji, how to take care of myself, understanding the laws of physics, manga-like character designs and... Oh wait, I could remember being only able to say and do only the very basic things before grandpa brought me here today. How am I behaving and appearing to be 7.5 times older of my actual age? I'm not supposed to be able to say the 'advanced' words I just said yet, but I just did."

Wait what? An old man who looks and sound very much like a young woman, and what seems to be a well-mannered teenage girl is actually just only a baby who is not even capable of saying what she just said to me. For someone who is only 2-years-old, she is surprisingly mature and is indistinguishable from a teenager. Her mention of an older brother just entering primary school just looks out of place for a younger sibling who looks of a high school age. Wearing any variation of the Mizuho uniform, which you would be forced to wear upon stepping into their campus if not wearing the allowed attire, turns anyone into a young woman of 15 or 25 years of age, depending on how young or old they are, or any age in between if their actual age is in-between the two ages.

Toshiko's grandparent: "Well, I hope she grows up to be like this. It's hard to tell if she will remember this before she actually reaches 15 years of age as I'm not sure if I can live long enough to see her this mature, but it does seem possible if I imprison myself in here and not ever stepping out of Mizuho. I don't seem to sweat or get tired at all even after long hours of hard work under the sun in the summer. Anyways, shouldn't you be going now? Your class is starting soon, according to the clock tower behind you. If you're not sure where it is, just follow the signs in your school department. There's a directory at the ground level of each staircases."

Opps, I got too caught up with them that I forgot what I was doing here or how little time I had for break. There are hardly any students in sight at this time. I don't even know where my classroom is. Not good.

Me: "Opps! Er, see you soon then."

I made a dash to a classroom that I'm not sure the location of.

Chapter 15
Part 58 | Part 60


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