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“I’m confident that Reddit could sway elections. We wouldn’t do it, of course. And I don’t know how many times we could get away with it. But, if we really wanted to, I’m sure Reddit could have swayed at least this election, this once.” - Reddit CEO
I’ve got one year of woodworking and CAD in high school. I’m looking to join the construction force and wanna work at Home Depot and Lowe’s wood department to get more experience and cash. (19 years old btw) is this a good idea or should I go straight into an apprenticeship?
I know it's not exactly fan art, but it's the most fitting for this kind of thing. Another fanfiction has it as its flair when it was posted here. Anyway, this is my output for the OnK fanfic train. I hope you guys enjoy! The link to the fanfiction.net page will be at the bottom.
*** With the rise of violence against celebrities also comes the rise of elements that protect against them. A rookie agent finds himself assigned to a famous idol with a promise to defend. And what was supposed to be a training assignment would eventually grow to so much more.
The young man grumbled as he trudged the halls of his home towards his father’s office. His hand would rake through his black hair in his face in annoyance while his two emerald eyes with four-point star-shaped irises focused forward. He already knew what was gonna happen and he wished he could refuse. He had been hoping to devote his time to honing his gaming skills with the hope of maybe one day joining a pro-E-sports team. But, because his father was an old man with a small scope of the modern world, he laughed and told him to do something real with his life. And something real meant taking over the family business one day.
Kurosawa Security Services, or simply KSS, is a Japanese family-owned security company based in Kyoto although they have offices all over the country and even abroad. KSS provides everything from security guards for convenience stores to close protection agents for top government figures. They can also provide security consultation and training. The service is rated as the best Japan has to offer with highly trained agents. KSS agents regularly train with the police and military elements like the Security Police and Special Forces Group. And in rare occasions, they would even train with the US Secret Service abroad. KSS is also the best because of the long history of the organization which dates back to the feudal era when Kurosawa Saitō picked up the sword and protected the local Daimyo from an attack. In other words, they had a long time to hone their craft.
Now, what makes a security company like KSS so big in a country where crime is almost non-existent? Isn’t Japan a safe nation? Those would be your first mistakes if you thought of them. It doesn’t matter which part of the world you’re on, good and evil exist everywhere. And good must be protected from evil. That’s why KSS exists.
And soon enough, the company will be in Akio’s hands when it's his father’s time to retire. That’s how the system works, despite what he thinks of it. So, now his ultimate tests will begin. His first assignment.
After walking for what seemed like hours he reached a pair of large doors. He knocked on them and was asked to come in by a voice on the other side, so he complied. Entering, he was greeted with a fairly large office for only one man. And that man was currently seated behind a desk reading through some papers.
“Hey, Dad,” He greeted as he sat down on one of the chairs before across from him.
Kurosawa Tadao put the papers down and then looked at his son before smiling. He was an aging man with black hair that was already greying and blue eyes that had four-point star-shaped irises.
“Hey, Son! How’re ‘ya doing?” He asked.
“Just fine. I was finally getting my KDR up in Black Ops and I was planning on getting my skills up in CSGO later. But, here we are,” Akio answered.
“Staying inside is not good for your body you know.”
“I planned to play basketball tomorrow and I have band with the boys this weekend.”
“It’s still unhealthy because it’s exactly anything productive. You’re 17, Son, you need to start shaping up for your career,” Tadao said.
“I’ve been shaping it up since I was five,” Akio muttered.
“And that’s why we’re here right now. Your first assignment, son! It’s the moment of truth! Aren’t you excited?” Tadao asked with a wide grin as he picked up a folder from the side.
“No, not really,” Akio answered flatly.
“Well, maybe you’ll be excited once you find out who I’m assigning you to. Spoiler alert, she’s an idol,” He said with a grin, whispering that last part as he handed him the file.
“I’m not into idols, Dad,” He said flatly as he took the file.
“Your little brother a good chunk of this company’s personnel, and hell, a good chunk of the population are though,” He commented.
“That doesn’t make sense. Everyone can have different interests. And Goro, well, I guess being tied to a hospital bed for years does that to you,” He said sadly.
“You’re one weird kid, you know.”
“Well, I was raised by the likes of you, Dad,” Akio retorted with a sly grin which made his father laugh.
“Well, you got me there,” He chuckled and promptly silenced himself to let his son read.
“Hoshino Ai? Never heard of her. Although I admit she is pretty cute,” He mumbled as read through the file with her picture on it. He took in her personal information like date of birth, age, physical appearance, and all the usual things. And then he got to a part that listed her status— “What the fuck?! She’s pregnant?!”
“Language, Akio!” Tadao scolded. “Anyway, officially, she’ll be taking a break from showbiz for a while due to ill health. Actually, she’s pregnant and they’re trying to keep it under wraps. Bad for business, because a lot of fans are a bunch of lonely losers, they’ll drop her just because she has kids.”
“Language, Dad,” Akio retorted and shook his head. “Well, teen pregnancy is bad, but it’s unfair for her to be hated for that reason.”
“Yeah, the life of a celebrity is a lot shittier than most people would think. I know, your mother was a singer, she dealt with that too when we were found out,” Tadao said with a frown before smiling a bit. “She
“Please don’t tell me about your romances, Dad,” Akio cringed. “Anyway, Hoshino-sama will be my protectee, huh?”
“Yes. She’ll be heading here with her management agency soon to settle the contract. And then you’ll be heading to the countryside where she can lay low until she gives birth. That’s the basics of it.”
“Alright. Babysit a pregnant teenager and keep her from doing anything dumb. Should be easy enough,” He said.
“Do not underestimate the dangers tied to the entertainment world, Akio,” Tadao reminded. “As I’ve said, a lot of them are a bunch of lonely losers or generally just of questionable
character. Some of them will go to great lengths just for attention. Fans can get really wacky after all. It’s already happened before. Not to mention, all the snakes in the industry. Someone might want to up their game so they think about eliminating the competition. You get the point.”
“I’m very aware, Dad, don’t worry,” He assured then sighed. “Just doing this and my studies at the same time? What am I gonna do?”
“That’s rich coming from someone who was planning on just lazing around all day. Besides, you’ve been homeschooling for more than a year already, right? I’m sure you can get a read in every day without compromising your job.”
“Well, it’s not impossible, but it’s gonna suck,” He said then sighed. “Alright, I’ve got this. Not much of a choice anyway. Anything else I should know?”
“Yeah. Remember this, you do not ever
let your protectee out of your sight. Wherever she goes, you go. That being said, don’t be too overbearing, and make sure to give her room to breathe. She is a woman, she will want her space. Also, try not to set such a tight atmosphere. Try being her friend, and she’ll be easier to work with. Tomita will meet you tomorrow too to evaluate you. You’ll also be reporting to him your progress during your task.”
“Noted, Dad. In that case,” Akio stood then positioned himself directly in front of the table before bowing. “I shall see this task to the end.”
Idol music was not his cup of tea and Hoshino Ai was a complete stranger to him till that moment. He’d spend a whole week with the pre-preparations with one of the senior agents until it was time to meet the latest customers. Then he would meet Hoshino Ai for the first time and they’d make their first impressions of one another.
“Are you really sure about this?”
“We’re going to need a shield just in case. Lot’s of wackos around here. Besides, we’ve already agreed to meet.”
“It’s just, there’s a lot of shady dealings in the security world.”
“Are we any better? Besides, KSS is the best this country can offer. I also know the company head personally too, we went to high school together, and he owes me. We’ll be just fine.”
“I didn’t understand any of that, but okay!”
“Never change, Ai…”
How do you keep a secret from the world? Simple: you lie. You lie a lot. But then you realize it’s not so simple and every day is spent with fear that everything might fall apart. Just trying to get anywhere was a massive undertaking. For example, right now. Two adults and a pregnant teen in a car. Aside from the teen pregnancy, there’s nothing strange at all about it. But if you knew who the car’s passengers were, then you’d immediately understand.
After a couple of hours of driving (making occasional turns to make sure they weren’t followed and consequently getting lost a couple of times) they finally reached their destination which was a large estate in the outskirts of Kyoto. A guard met them at the gate, and after the driver talked and showed some credentials, they were let in. It took another minute or two until they reached the house where a group was waiting for them. The car group got out of their vehicle with the house group greeting them shortly after. A man with short blonde hair and yellowish-brown eyes underneath some shades stepped forward and led the group.
“Ichigo-san, you’re still about as ugly as when I last saw you,” Tadao greeted with a cheeky grin as he approached.
“Tadao-san, you’re clearly the most repulsive one here. I see you still haven’t taken my advice to get your face fixed,” Ichigo greeted with a snarky expression as he also approached.
Once close enough, they locked hands for a shake before pulling each other in for a hug.
“It’s nice to see you again, friend! How’re you doin', man? No troubles getting here?” Tadao asked.
“I’m just fine. Getting here was a lot smoother than we thought. But we are exhausted,” Ichigo replied.
“I imagine. Remember that time in Second Year when we bought booze with fake IDs and we had to run for it?”
“Ha, how can I forget?! I was terrified the cops would get us!”
As the two men shared stories and laughed, everyone else present could not help but be astonished at how casual the two were being. It almost was like this wasn’t a business meeting.
“Yeah, those were the days,” Tadao laughed and turned to the other two people to address them. “Before we continue any further, allow me to introduce myself. I am Kurosawa Tadao, head of Kurosawa Security Services, and I welcome you all to my home. It’s nice to meet you!”
He then stepped toward the next person. She was a rather tall woman with long strawberry-blonde hair and pinkish-brown eyes.
“And you must be Miyako, his wife, yes?” He asked.
“Yes, I am,” She said with a polite smile as they shook hands.
“You know, I’ve always wondered how someone with a face like his could get married. But here we are,” He joked earning a laugh from her.
“I sometimes wonder why I decided to marry him too,” She commented and they both laughed.
“Huh? What?” Ichigo said but was ignored.
Then, Tadao moved to the last person. She was a short girl with long violet hair with matching eyes that have stars in them. But her most distinct feature was the bulge in her abdomen showing her pregnancy. Moreover, she looked like she wasn’t even 18. This observation made his gut wrench due to feeling pity for this poor girl’s bad decision. Regardless, he put on his best smile and took her hand.
“And you must be Hoshino Ai,” He greeted. “I’ve heard all about you, but since I’m the stereotypical old man, I’m not into your music. Regardless of that, and after listening to a couple of songs, I think you’re doing some very great work in your field.”
Her lips curved into a smile that cured souls as her eyes seemed to shimmer. Tadao kept himself from reacting, but at that moment he knew why she was so popular.
“Thank you so much, Tadao-san! You know, I don’t think I’m that popular to begin with but I’m always so happy to hear that someone like what I do!” She said happily.
He chuckled a bit. “I used to be in a band in middle school and high school, so I still try to stay up to date with the latest musical trends these days. Although, I still don’t know much. I mostly get my info on that from my own agents.”
He glanced to the side followed by Ai shortly after to see three younger agents standing stiffly as they tried to ignore them. They knew exactly who she was. All three of them have her as their phone’s lock screen wallpaper. And it’s clear that they wanted to talk to her, but they couldn’t. And even if they could, they didn’t know how. Ai giggled in amusement while Tadao just stared.
“Anyway, now that introductions have been made, let’s go inside where it’s more comfortable. I know you’re here for business, so let’s dive right in. We’ve also prepared snacks and refreshments inside in case you want some. Ichigo, my valet will take care of your car, so give him the keys please,” Tadao said as he gestured for them to follow.
“Do you have ice cream?” Ai asked.
“We sure do!”
“Yay! Let’s go!”
After Ichigo handed over the keys to a valet, Tadao began leading them into his home with the trio following shortly after. But before that, a mischievous thought entered Ai’s mind and she acted quickly. She suddenly turned to look at the trio of agents who tensed up even more under her gaze. Worse, they realized that she was up to no good just from her grin. But before they could even speculate what she was up to, she suddenly did her signature love heart hand pose with a smile. In a flash, the three agents felt their knees go weak in the presence of such moe cuteness that they struggled to stay upright as they covered their mouths to silence their ecstatic screams. Satisfied with her handiwork, Ai giggled as she left the scene of the crime.
“Um, are they gonna be alright?” Ichigo asked nervously as he saw one of them falling over.
“They’ll be fine.”
They entered the huge house and led them through a series of hallways that were decorated with all sorts of interesting stuff. One of them was some sort of cannon on a towed carriage, except, aside from one big barrel, it’s got multiple little ones arranged in a circle with a crank.
“Kurosawa-san, what’s that?” Ai asked.
“Oh, this? This is a Model 1874 Gatling Gun. It fires a .45-70 caliber round from top-loaded 20-round box magazines with a rate of fire of about a thousand rounds per minute, although, it really depends on how fast you can crank it. It was one of the most revolutionary weapons ever designed and it changed the battlefield forever. This specific weapon here was used by the Imperial Army against revolting samurai during their last stand in the Battle of Mount Shiroyama, the last action of the Satsuma Rebellion,” He explained. “Sometimes I wonder what the samurai were thinking in their last moments just before they were all gunned down.”
“Wow,” Ai whispered in awe.
“Indeed. I don’t even know where my father dug up this gun,” He said before tracing across the black-painted barrels of the old weapon.
“That’s so cool!” She exclaimed happily then fished out her phone from her hoodie pocket. “Can I take a picture with it?”
“Ai, we’re here in business and the man’s likely very busy, so let’s not take anymore—” Ichigo said but was cut off.
“Sure thing! Our meeting is the only thing I have on my schedule today, so I’m basically free to do anything!” Tadao interjected with a wide smile as she took her phone.
What followed next was a comedic scene which was basically an old man doting on his granddaughter while he took pictures of her doing cute things. Meanwhile, everyone else present just stared with blank expressions.
“So much for not being into idols,” Ichigo muttered.
“These are so good! Thank you so much, Kurosawa-san!” She thanked him with a wide smile after going over the pictures.
“You’re very welcome! And you know, we’ve got a lot of goodies in this house, maybe you’d like to take some pictures with them too?” He offered.
“I’d love to!” She squealed.
“Mhmm!” Someone cleared their throat.
Looking in that direction, they saw a young man dressed in a nice business suit who was basically a younger version of Tadao. He approached them with his hands in his pockets and regarded them with a straight expression.
“You’re getting off track here, Dad. We’re still conducting a business,” He said as a matter of factly. “And what happened to ‘no touching of the expensive decor’?”
“Oh come on, son, do you honestly believe I can refuse that?” Tadao complained as he gestured to Ai who maintained a happy expression as she looked at the photos.
“Don’t enable her, Dad. Ma’am, please stop touching the gun, it’s very old and very expensive,” He said.
“Ai, get off of it,” Ichigo ordered.
“Aw, okay,” She said sadly as she backed off.
“Sorry for the trouble, but this stuff is crazy expensive. And oh, I’m Kurosawa Akio, by the way. It’s a pleasure to meet all of you,” He greeted with a polite smile.
“This is my son. He’ll be taking care of the business one day, so I’m bringing him along more now,” Tadao said.
Another round of handshakes was exchanged as the group introduced themselves to Akio. Ai expected the tone and body language of a fan holding himself back, the same kind she’s gotten used to seeing, but was rather surprised when he shook her hands normally with nothing but politeness in his eyes. Strange, now she’s curious. Akio on his part thought that she was a rather normal-looking girl, except for the bulging stomach, and didn’t find anything very special from just looking at her.
“Sorry for messing around. It’s just a really cool-looking thing!” Ai said.
“It sure is, ‘can’t argue with that. They don’t make weapons like these anymore these days. It’s all just big bombs now, which is boring,” Akio remarked.
“I don’t think death and destruction are supposed to be nice to see,” Miyako remarked.
“Exactly,” Tadao stated with a firm voice. “And that’s what we strive for in KSS. Every day must always be boring. Now come on, we’ve got business to attend to.” He said before turning and walking away.
“Is he always like this?” Miyako asked with a sweatdrop, noting the man’s sudden change of face.
“You’ll get used to it,” Both Ichigo and Akio replied in a flat tone.
They finished the walk toward their destination which was a conference room inside the house. The place was quite spacious and cozy looking, especially since it has a fireplace. They all immediately took their seats with KSS taking one side of the table and Ichigo Productions sitting opposite of them.
“Snacks will be brought in a little bit, so let’s get down to business to business shall we,” Tadao said as he placed a briefcase on the table and pulled out some papers. “By the way, everything we talk about will not leave this room, you can trust us. I think I also know the reason why you need an extra pair of hands. Your reason for getting a bodyguard is because you’re worried that you’ll be attacked like that idol that got stabbed recently, yes?”
They all nodded at that. It was already a month old, but the memory of it was still fresh on everyone’s minds, especially since it was covered on national news.
An idol named Hirose Keiko, who was pretty popular and only 16 like Ai, was recently murdered by a crazy fan in her own home. The autopsy report stated that the cause of death was cardiac arrest from severe bleeding after being stabbed three times and that she died in minutes.
The police captured the killer before he could jump off a bridge and took him in for questioning. He said that a Twitter post showing Keiko being all friendly with some guy somewhere made people think she had gotten a boyfriend. This enraged him because he felt betrayed by her actions, therefore he stalked her and plotted her murder for weeks. So, it was pretty awkward for him to find out that Keiko’s supposed boyfriend was actually her cousin and she was at a family get-together at that time.
The news shocked everyone in the country and many celebrities started taking their personal security more seriously. Ichigo was worried for Ai, and Ai was a bit scared herself. She knew Keiko, they did some collaborations together in the past, and she was upset she couldn’t attend her funeral. So, Ichigo Productions, though a bit cash-strapped, decided that it would be a good idea to have some form of security with them to help out in the long run. Especially now that Ai was pregnant… they couldn’t stomach the thought of some deranged lunatic stabbing her to death like what happened to Keiko.
“I don’t think I can forget that. I knew the girl and her agency, they were good people. I hope that bastard gets the chair,” Ichigo muttered.
“You and me both. And don’t worry, we’ll make sure nothing ever happens to you,” Tadao assured. “Alright, now, how do you want to be protected?”
“We just need someone with us to keep the creeps away, especially one that can lie low with us. Nothing flashy at all,” Ichigo answered.
“Hmm, I understand what you want. One or two agents on you at all times at least, covering your front and back. They’ll be in plain clothes too so as to not draw attention. Okay, I’ve got a lot of agents to spare for that kind of job,” Tadao said, as he wrote on a piece of paper.
“What else is there?” Ichigo asked.
“We’re gonna brief you on how we operate and how we intend to do this. None of them are hard to follow at all. The gist is that you need to tell us everything, your schedules, contacts, extra activities, etcetera.”
“So, I’ll basically be followed around everywhere?” Ai asked.
“Basically, yes. But the key difference is that it’ll be by people you can trust. However, that doesn’t mean we’ll be poking around your daily life and infringing on your space every day. We’ll create a system in which you’re safe but still comfortable. In fact, we even have methods to protect you without you or anyone seeing us, but that’s really expensive though,” Tadao explained. “We know our boundaries too, Hoshino-sama, you don’t have to worry.”
“Hmm,” Ai hummed as she considered his words before another thought occurred to her. “Will you kill people?”
“Only if they really
force us to. Every agent has a loaded gun with him, but we’re also trained in ways to stop an attacker with non-lethal force. Besides, one of our tactics is that by simply being there, we can discourage anyone from trying anything funny. As I’ve said, the best days for us are the most boring ones.”
“What’s the price tag?” Miyako asked.
“Despite the low elements, you’re still looking at 500,000 yen per month. But…” He trailed off. “But… due to my debt to you, Ichigo, I’ve decided to give you half that price for six months. This is paid like a subscription service where you have to pay every month. Failure to pay means immediate termination of services.”
“Is there anything else?” Ichigo asked.
“There are a bunch more details that you need to know. Legality, protocols, company policy, and all that. But, there’s one detail that I threw in as a condition for this,” Tadao said then placed a hand on Akio’s shoulder who was sitting to his right. “My son will be the one to run point of your protection detail. This’ll also act as his first test, to prove his skill as a protection agent.”
“Although I’m inexperienced, I’m quick to learn and adapt, and I’m ready to take on whatever task is needed from me,” Akio said politely.
Ichigo and Miyako frowned at the prospect of being given someone who was inexperienced in the field. But if he was the son of the guy who runs the place, then he should be pretty good, right? Besides, this is possibly the best deal they’ll ever get, and they weren’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
“Alright, that’s fine,” Ichigo said.
“I’m okay with it,” Ai said.
“Although, Akio will be running point so you’ll see him the most often, another rookie agent will also be there to learn too. He’ll be number two. A senior agent will also be dropping by occasionally to check on them and evaluate their performance, although you don’t need to pay him. And in case things get really bad, emergency services and other agents won’t be too far to assist,” Tadao added.
“Ah, alright,” Ichigo said.
“Now, for the rest of everything.”
They would spend the next thirty minutes getting into the details of how everything would be under their care. Snacks and refreshments were brought in at that time with Ai receiving a pint of ice cream, making her very happy. They got into some legal conditions that were implemented to protect both sides. They also got into how the protection detail would work and what to do under certain situations. And of course, company policy.
One such policy is that the client can sue the company for up to 30 million yen for disclosing any secrets entrusted to them without permission. And although KSS can definitely pay that amount, their reputation would be tarnished and they’d lose even more money. That was a fact that allowed Ichigo Productions to rest easier. Ai’s pregnancy needed to remain under wraps.
After a few more minutes and a couple more things were clarified, they finally moved on to the last piece of the puzzle. Tadao opened up his briefcase and pulled out one last set of papers.
“This is the contract. What’s is just a summary of everything we talked about, but I suggest you read it carefully so you’re not missing anything,” Tadao said.
Ichigo Productions took the document and carefully read through it to make sure they were not missing anything. It took another five minutes, but they confirmed that everything was in place.
“A service that tells you everything and makes you read the contract first? Finally!” Ichigo joked.
“We’re the guys that protect the Emperor, not some shady organization! We’ve got a reputation to uphold!” Tadao stated. “Anyway, if nothing is amiss, sign your name and seal on the space provided and we are officially under your employ.”
“Everything’s here. Let’s seal the deal,” Ichigo said.
He grabbed a pen that was provided to him and signed his name on the line at the bottom then stamped his seal on the side. Miyako did the same thing after him. And finally, Ai filled out the last line with her name and seal and even drew a little heart on it. Tadao took the document and looked through it before putting it down and giving them a smile.
“You are now under the protection of Kurosawa Security Services! With Hachiman, the divine protector of Japan, guiding our hands, you will not have to worry about anything as long as we are around! Rest assured that we will take care of you. And anyone that tries to harm you will die a horrible death!” He proclaimed.
“That’s… oddly specific,” Ichigo remarked.
“If you get hurt, we’ll cover the expenses of your medical bill. If you die under our watch, which you won’t, we’ll offer a full refund to your relatives, and we’ll even avenge you. That’s our policy, to treat our clientele as if they are our family,” He added.
“That’s very nice,” Miyako said.
“Only the best we provide our clients,” Tadao said. “And aside from giving you a copy of the documents, this concludes our business. Thank you for choosing our services. We promised not to disappoint.”
“We’ll be watching closely then.”
Both groups then stood up and gave each other one last bout of handshakes to truly seal the contract that was just signed.
“I’ll make sure your men get tickets to one of my concerts in the future!” Ai said and looked at Akio. “Especially you, Akio-san.”
“Oh, that’s very kind of you, Hoshino-sama. But, I’m not into idol music,” He replied politely.
“Please excuse my son. We know he’s a weirdo,” Tadao jokingly said.
“I ain’t weird, Dad. I don’t hate idol music but I don’t exactly like it either. I just like other things,” Akio stated.
“It’s not impossible, but it’s a first for us. Everyone your age we’ve met is into idols,” Saitou said. “Looks like you’re the 10% we didn’t see coming.”
“Please just take it as less worry for you, since I won’t be prying for your attention all the time. I’ll always keep a respectful distance. I promise.”
“That’s all we can ever ask really. Thank you.”
“Now that business is concluded, we can all turn in for the night. But would you like something before you leave? Some more snacks or drinks perhaps? We’ve got a lot here,” Tadao offered but Ichigo shook his head.
“No, we’ve already been here too long, we don’t want to overstay our welcome. Besides, it’s late and we’re all tired. We should be getting back now,” he said.
“Alright. In that case, allow us to walk you out while I get the valet to get your car.”
Ichigo Productions prepared to leave while Tadao got on his phone. Ichigo and Miyako started discussing something with each other while Ai simply looked around the room. Her eyes would eventually land on Akio who was looking at his phone. He’d pocket it a moment later and his eyes would land on his protectee’s. She’d flashed him a wide smile, the kind that can captivate any man, while he returned with a simple smile and a nod. Ai began opening her mouth to speak before stopping short when there was a disturbance from Tadao.
“... Really? Alright, I’ll tell them,” He sighed before turning to the group.
“What’s wrong?” Ichigo asked.
Tadao smiled awkwardly. “A small problem just developed on your end.”
They’d find themselves outside again a moment later, watching a scene unfold before them. Ichigo Production’s car, a white rental Toyota Corolla, remained where Ichigo last left it although the hood was open and multiple guys were peering into the engine compartment with flashlights. One agent tried turning the key and starting the ignition, yet the engine remained quiet. A moment later, a middle-aged man with his sleeves rolled up walked up to Tadao while wiping his hands on a rag.
“I think it’s a broken sparkplug, Tadao-san. It just won’t start,” He reported.
“I told you it was broken!” Miyako scolded Ichigo in a hushed voice.
“Do we have spare parts, Hiro-san?” Tadao asked.
“No, we just ran out when our own rides needed maintenance and we haven’t resupplied yet,” He said with a shake of his head. “We can’t run to the shop too because it’s already closed at this time. This thing’s staying here till morning.”
Ichigo and Miyako groaned at their misfortune while the rest of them simply stared indifferently. Tadao then sighed and spoke again.
“Alright. In that case, Hiro-san, please get the van off the driveway and onto the side. We’ll deal with it tomorrow morning. Then please take one of the Land Cruisers and take them back to their hotel. The rest of you are free to leave for home too,” He ordered.
“Hai, Kurosawa-sama!” Everyone replied.
“Tadao-san, are you sure? This is probably too much—” Ichigo began but stopped when Tadoa raised a hand.
“It’s fine, I don’t mind at all. Just think of this as me helping a friend in need. And no, you don’t have to pay,” He replied.
Ichigo was unsure but ultimately allowed it and bowed a bit. “Alright, thank you.”
“No problem,” Tadao replied with a shallow nod.
While the adults addressed the issue of their ride, the two kids remained on the side and simply watched. Akio and Ai were still in their teens, so they were kids in the eyes of the adults present.
“So,” Ai began. “What kind of music do you listen to, Kurokawa-san?”
“Uh, I like rock music of all types from pop to death metal. I’ve been listening to them since I was five. And it’s Kurosawa, Hoshino-sama,” He replied, her sudden question and error of his name catching him off guard.
“Ah, really? Ahahaha, I’m so sorry! I'm not very good at memorizing people’s faces!” She laughed jovially.
“Ahaha, I can imagine. Since you probably see so many faces every day, it’s hard to keep track of them all, huh?” He laughed.
“Ah, yeah! It’s a bit of a problem for me, hehe. Sometimes, I even forget the President’s name too, haha!”
He laughed along with her but internally, he was cringing a bit. Does every idol have such an airheaded personality?
“It must be kinda hard for you too, having to work like this when you’re so young,” She remarked.
“Well, this is my first job ever, so it doesn’t seem hard at all right now. That’s definitely gonna change though,” He replied. “But, I don’t think my job will get anywhere as difficult as yours with you having to put up an act all the time. I don’t think I can handle that.”
“Yeah, tell me about it. I really like my job, but sometimes it gets pretty tiring. Taking a break like this is gonna help out a lot!” She said happily before taking a deep breath and looking around. “I think I’ve already said this, but your place is really nice.”
“Mhmm, and this is just our place here in Tokyo. We’re only here now because we need to be closer to some of our clients at the moment. Our main house in Kyoto is even bigger and cooler!” Akio replied.
“You guys are really loaded, huh?”
“For the past few decades, Kurosawa has been branching to other things that make money. We need the cash to pay for our stuff after all. Although, we’re still inferior to zaibatsus like Shinomiya and Shijo (who we provide services to, by the way) but also still better than most.”
“Mhmm, but money still isn’t everything. We try to take a humble approach to things too. Dad doesn’t like spending money on anything that isn’t important and I don’t buy a lot of things myself,” He added and kept his mouth open to continue when he was interrupted.
“Don’t believe him! He eats yakiniku at least once a week!” One of the younger agents stated as he walked by with a bag over his shoulder, likely on his way home.
“Look who’s talking, idiot! You spend the most out of all of us!” He retorted angrily but only got a laugh in response. He turned back to Ai who was holding a hand over her mouth to stifle her giggles, prompting him to sigh in annoyance. “Alright, I admit that part and also I spend a lot quite a lot on video games and band equipment, but only on special occasions. I’m not some pompous rich jerk that throws money around, I promise you.”
“Hmm, alright, I believe you,” She giggled and then thought of something. “You could’ve totally left that part out or outright lied. Why didn’t you?”
“Uh, it was already out, so there’s no point in trying to lie about it anymore. Besides, I don’t believe you deserve to be lied to, Hoshino-sama,” He answered.
Her smile wavered ever so slightly as she processed his answer. I don’t deserve to be… lied to?
“Ai, our ride’s here! Let’s head back to the hotel!” Ichigo called out as one of the company’s Land Cruisers had been brought out to take them.
“I guess we’ll just have to continue this conversation some other time, but it’s been a nice talk. I look forward to working with you, Hoshino-sama,” He said with a wide smile and an outstretched hand.
Ai smiled widely too, her eyes seemingly shimmering brighter as she took his hand and shook it. “Since we’ll be sticking so closely together for a while, you can just call me Ai, Akio-san.”
He blinked. “U-Uh, sure thing, Ai-san.”
“Just Ai,” She clarified.
“Just Ai,” He nodded and smiled widely, happy that she remembered his first know, even if he didn’t know why.
“If that’s what you want, you’re the boss,” Akio remarked, earning another laugh from her. “You have a good night, Ai, and I’ll see you again tomorrow.”
“You too, Akio-san.”
She’d head back to her group a moment later and they were leaving the estate shortly. Akio waved at the car as it drove past him and he could just barely see a human figure waving back through the darkness. As he watched the SUV disappear, he put his hand down and looked up at the sky.
“Wow,” He breathed. “Her eyes are something else.”
He’d retire for the night shortly after without another thought. He’d sleep soundly not knowing that he had just stepped on the path that would define his life.
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For now, have a great day, and peace out! Veritas vos liberabit. The Truth will set you Free.
Like, when all is said and done, what will be the ultimate ending (Or new beginning) of your setting?
For my science fantasy world, that would be the Multiversal Liberations/Conquests.
My setting is not just set in one galaxy, very early on in my setting, especially in my books, other realities, and Universes exist out there in a multiverse. And while some are free and well, others are under the control of malevolent forces.
And so when all is said and done in my main Universe, the next step would be for the Nations, Factions, and even the Gods themselves to unite and free the Multiverse at large.
Every world will be liberated.
Every evil God brought to their knees.
For there are Universes out there in despair, brought to their knees by tyrants or others.
A Multiverse in Need of Aid... A multiverse waiting for those with the will to bring them a War to end all wars.
This is at the very tail end of it though, so the while other universes have been acknowledged in the setting at large at this point, the Multiverse will have to wait till things smooth out in the home universe.
So how about you?
Needed to vent this out. I bought a PS5 in March 2023. I'm 33M with 2 kids and my wife legit insisted that I should buy it. Her reasons, I'm presuming, 1. that she knows I don't have much hobbies besides reading books (I'm not in Netflix etc). 2. that she knows that this way I'll be at home and she can ask me for help whenever she needs it.
So I buy one. With Miles Morales (+ Spiderman remastered). I want to play Miles Morales but first I want to complete Spiderman remasters 100% with all the side missions and tasks etc and the DLC too. Keeping in mind I don't end up addicted to the game I set a schedule. Morning 7am - 8:30am. Then go to office and rest of the day as usual. Maybe play a little more on Sundays. Life was good.
By mid-April I'd completed 70% of Spiderman. I'm effing loving it every moment. I've a saved version, the last in the save list so that my son/daughter don't accidentally tamper with it. They have their own versions. I have my own. Son is 4. Daughter is 7.
One morning, after my prayers, I turn ON the system and see that my save version is GONE. Poof. Black Holed. I was genuinely sweating at that moment. I was like, "How? Who? When? What?".
By afternoon, the nanny confirms my fears. My son deleted it. My son can't put two words together to call a sentence. But he deleted the game. Tried every trick but cannot recover it. It's been exactly 40 days now. And I haven't touched the PS5 console yet. Lost complete interest.
When I asked my son why he did it, he replied "I love Spiderman".
I love him too.
Hi, I have a customer that uses windows 11 to access an L2TP vpn. The configuration worked up to about 10 days ago, now it does not work anymore.
The vpn is configured as split tunnel, so internet traffic stays out of the vpn.
He connects to his wifi at home, then to the vpn, and after just a few minutes (or even just one minute) his internet connection dies. It seems to be connected but he cannot do anything on the internet and of course inside the vpn too.
He connects to his wifi hotspot on his phone, same issue
He connects to his home router via a network cable, everything is fine.
So it seems that when he uses wifi and the vpn, his wifi somehow dies, traffic just stops.
I have tried setting up a win11 PC the same way (he's VERY remote, so I'm not going to his home, I must solve this remotely) and my win11 PC has the same problem.
Googling "win 11 wifi l2tp vpn not working" or something similar gives no meaningful results, so I'm here asking if someone else is experiencing this issue.
My skin turned VERY oily back in March this year, out of the blue. With the change came closed comedones all over my cheeks and acne along my temples. I can accept the acne but I turn into a greasy mess an hour after washing my face. I can practically see each pore oozing with oil. Setting powders only last me 4 hours, make up slides off my face by noon and to make it worst, I live in a topical country. It is warm all year round and that just exacerbates the oiliness.
I am conscious of the grease and that is all I think about when I am outside. If I am home and not working, I am all over Reddit and google searching up for ways to change this. It has taken over me. I no longer enjoy hobbies or do anything. I look at everyone’s face while I’m out, just to see if anyone else faces the same issue. I am going mad.
On top of it, I am sick of people telling me that I am dehydrated, to moisturise or that this happened as I stripped off the natural oils off my face. That is unlikely the case. I might not have an extensive routine but I did use a cleanser, moisturiser and sunscreen daily. I never wash my face more than twice a day and I always drink water. Then the comments on how oily people don’t get wrinkles and to ‘embrace it’ as well. Yes, a little oil is helpful in aging and I don’t want to be dried and shrivelled but not like this. Not this much oil. I am bordering excessive!
It’s frustrating. I cannot go on accutane and this doesn’t seem to qualify as hormonal so spiro is out too. I can’t even remember if my skin used to be so greasy in my early 20s. I took a round of accutane back then but because I was having bad acne. It cleared up but I honestly cannot remember if it helped with the grease or if I was even as oily back then.
Shortly after, I was diagnosed with an auto immune condition. I’m unsure if that round of accutane triggered this but there are reports of patients suffering from the same condition while on or after accutane which spooked me off the idea of going on a second round. But because of my auto immune condition, I was on prednisone for 2.5 years. My skin was a dream. Unlike most people on the steroid, I had no acne, my skin was smooth and poreless within that time. I went into remission and tapered off successfully. For a year or so after, up until March, my skin remained clear.
Then this happened (along with body acne which is moderately manageable but still gives me grief at times).
I am exhausted. Mentally, I would like to let this go but I get incredibly depressed when I shower, touch my face or even look at the mirror. It’s making a dent in my self esteem which you can probably tell by now is already non existent. I have gone to a therapist early on but due to financial issues, I have had to stop.
I do not understand why this is happening. Did the powers of accutane cease to work? But I did a calculation and it’s been about 5 to 6 years since I took it. Was it the prednisone? But it’s been more than a year since I last took it. I can’t understand what went wrong here.
I know this is such a first world issue but all I want is to stop feeling dirty in an hour after washing my face. I just want to stop waking up with an oil slick for a face. I don’t know what to do. All I know if this continues, I might go mad.
Hi all. I’m a 25 year old from male from the U.K. and I have worked since I was 16.
I have never had an issue with working long hours or shitty jobs as I’m used to it. I come from quite a lower class family, however, I do have ambitions. Mainly to be happy.
I’ve worked a few jobs in my short time, tyre fitter, shop supervisor, sales advisor, security. I’ve always liked the idea of being a working man and providing for myself and my girlfriend. But as of recent I’ve had 2 pretty shit diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and epilepsy. Having to manage these two have taken their toll. I’m constantly exhausted, constantly day dreaming about the day I won’t have to drag myself around for 10 hours until going home to appreciate the silence. I don’t know if I’m depressed, or if I’m naturally feeling shit because my life circumstances are pretty shit at the moment. I really want to quit my job, I do not want to work for a company anymore, I get a shit pay every month, and they don’t realise I’m literally killing myself to work for them, and it’s me who is keeping my job there, there’s no legal obligation. I’m choosing to hand my health over in exchange for money that I can’t even use or have spare from. I have no life with these disabilities as it is, the only time I feel somewhat at ease is when I have a day off and time to properly manage my meal times etc to save my sugars from trying to do me in. I’ll have a nice sunday, get things all in range then boom back to work and everything is all over the place. If I didn’t have diabetes I would quit today. And “survive” as some would say. But being diabetic I need money for whole grain food (that I don’t even like) in order to keep me alive. Sometimes I think just giving up on everything would be easier but that’s not an option for me, as I’m the only thing my mum has got and I’m here for her. I just don’t know what to do.
Is it possible to set up a small enough business from home to have an income?
I don’t want to be rich at all. Just happy with time to look after my health. Type 1 Diabetes management is like a full time job in it’s self. I am still willing to work. But I want meaning or something that will actually make others happy. I overcharge people on car parts to make a living currently, and I feel no pride in doing so. I made my company more than 700K in sales last year. I earn 22K a year after tax. I’m good at selling I suppose but surely there’s some way of helping others and making money too. If money was no such thing I’d spend my time helping the homeless and litter picking. No joke, I did it last summer in my spare time and I felt so fulfilled.
Strain that a hangover put on my body yesterday. I did no activity’s yesterday but lay around and still had more strain then a gym and 10hr work day.