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 Post subject: Re: The New Knights | The Osaka Foxes
PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2019 12:11 am 
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November 19, 2036
3L Apartment Complex, Unit 318, Kobe (Azuma Residence)
9:15


“--and… yep, and okay. Looks like we’re heading to the press room now.” Shouta Arai, the local sportscaster on Kobe News, said. The conference room looked to be filled.

Of course, it was filled with reporters looking to report on the retirement of Shinya Imai. Imai was the Fukushima Bears manager for all 10 of their years. He was a man I hadn’t met until the night before. He was a man that was ready to call it. On the stage, he was joined by the owner of the Bears, a woman named Masuzu Mutou, and the GM, a young man, Touya Machida.

“Hello everyone,” he cleared his throat, “I’m glad you all could make it.” He smiled; the group of reporters laughed. “Let me begin by saying I am simply beside myself. Never in all my years did I expect to be in a situation such as this.”

Imai was never much of a success during his playing days. He played a few games for the Hanshin Tigers in the mid-90s before they cut him and then he spent three half-seasons with the Dragons as a backup catcher. Nevertheless, he had done enough to be up for consideration for a manager’s position for the upstart Samurai in 2014. He wasn’t offered the job, of course, but instead took a role as an infield coach for the Dragons. He was there for 11 successful years. When the Bears (and, by extension the Niigata Toki, Sendai Sakura, and the Foxes) came around in 2026, Imai was a no-brainer. The Bears snatched him from the Dragons, he led them to seven postseasons and won Fukushima a pennant only three years after a team showed up.

Not too shabby.

“Yes, it is true, I’ll be hanging my Bears coat up for the final time.” Imai continued, “Or, well, it seems I already have.” The room laughed once again. “Truly it has been an honor to serve as the manager of these fine young men. I have memories I will cherish for the rest of my life. I have made connections that I will cherish forever, and friendships… that are more dear to me than any I’ve had before. These past 10 years have been some of the best of my long life. Fukushima… you really know how to make an old man happy…”

Imai wiped his eyes.

“Regardless, I do want to keep this brief. So, from the bottom of my heart: thank you. Thank you Fukushima. Thank you to all the fans who’ve packed the seats since the Bears were just cubs. And thank you, Ms. Mutou,” he turned to Masuzu Mutou, “for giving me this opportunity in the first place.”

Imai stood up, removed his hat, and bowed.

He then smiled, sighed, and took a step back.

Ms. Mutou took his seat at the central microphone. “We all here with the Bears organization should be thanking Mr. Imai for all he has done to legitimize baseball in Fukushima, not the other way around!” She laughed, “So thank you, Mr. Imai!” She clapped, the room followed suit.

Imai took that as his cue to exit stage right. Machida followed closely behind.

Mutou, now alone on the stage, looked quite important. She was dressed smartly in a sharp gray suit and black blouse and with a look, the room was hers.

“Though it may seem like a quick turnaround,” she said, “there is an announcement we have to make. The Bears’ search for a replacement for Imai has been ongoing this entire season. Machida, Imai, and myself have been rigorously searching. After an intense interview process, and the blessing of Imai, we have finally come to a decision.”

She stood.

Out from the left side of the stage came another woman, wearing a stunning black blazer and white turtleneck.

She stood next to Mutou. This new woman was probably 10 centimeters taller than her.

No waaaaaaay

Mutou smiled wide, “I could not possibly be more proud to announce,” she turned her head and met eyes with this new woman, “as of 2037, our new manager: Chisako Arata!” Like she was showing off a new car, Mutou spread her arms, presenting Chisako Arata for all to see.

The room gasped.

NO WAAAAAYY

I couldn’t believe it. The first woman to manage an NPB team…

“Took long enough…” I said to the TV.

“She has a history in the women’s league as a player-manager, as well as experience managing Waseda University’s baseball program the past eight years.”

The room lit up with questions.

“Perhaps,” Mutou silenced them with a word, “it goes without saying, but she will be the first female manager in our league. No doubt she will face doubters and challenges, but--”

Arata cut her off, “I’m not too worried.” Her smile was so confident, it was infectious.

Wow. What a woman…

I kinda sat there, slack jawed, as I watched Arata answer questions with enthusiasm and confidence I could only dream about.

Oh boy… Can’t wait to face off against her like 21 times next year…

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 Post subject: Re: The New Knights | The Osaka Foxes
PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2020 12:30 am 
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Favorite Team: Red Sox
Console '07: Nintendo Wii
Console '08: Wii and DS
Favorite Japanese title: (PS3) Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyuu 2011
November 22, 2036
Aeon Mall, Osaka
13:22


-bzz-

My phone buzzed in my pocket as I roamed around Osaka’s Aeon Mall looking for something to eat. The single buzz told me that it was my boss texting me. My boss, the Foxes’ GM, a man by the name of Aoto Shitamura. A man, it had just dawned, I had never actually met.

Regardless, I had set a special vibration just in case he ever decided to text me. Today was my lucky day, it seemed. It was also the last day of exclusive contract negotiations, so I expected something to come down the pipeline from him, at least.

“my office @ 15” was all the message said.

Well, he’s direct, I guess…

November 22, 2036
Foxes’ Front Office, Osaka
15:09


The man sitting at the front desk of the Foxes’ main office was a man beyond the age of 50 and beyond the stage in his professional life of caring. He greeted me as I walked in the door: “Shitamura will see you now. Down the hall.” Without so much as a second glance.
“Uh, thanks.” I replied.
He didn’t bother with a response.

The Foxes’ main office building was one I had never, truly, been in. My interview process wasn’t the most conventional and me getting the job reeked a bit of desperation from the Foxes. Perhaps they were at their wits end with Fukuhara and had nothing internally?

In retrospect, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense for them to hire me sight-unseen at the midway point of the year…

I looked around the lobby before making my way to Shitamura’s office. It was colored a dull gray with one small fake palm tree sitting in one of its corners. There was a pair of chairs sitting slightly too far from each other, and a magazine rack filled with old paper copies of the 2029 edition of CARS and CARVING a strange yearly periodical about… cars and woodwork. It was a “man mag,” so… not really something that was screaming my name.

The front desk man sat alone, focused on his phone. He didn’t seem to care that I was taking my time following his instructions.

Figuring I shouldn’t make my boss wait any longer, I began my journey down the gray hallway to his light brown door.

15:12

SHITAMURA

was printed in bold, black type on the door’s small window leading into Shitamura’s personal office. I knocked twice.

“Yes? Come in.”

The door creaked open. Behind it was an office completely unremarkable. No photos, no mess, no personality, no… anything. It was as if I had walked into an office someone was squatting in. Behind the sterile desk was a man. Was my boss. Was Aoto Shitamura.

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 Post subject: Re: The New Knights | The Osaka Foxes
PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2023 10:45 pm 
Power Pro Legend
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Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:43 am
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Favorite Team: Red Sox
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Favorite Japanese title: (PS3) Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyuu 2011
Going to post these updates here for posterity. Crazy to be back on this site... missed this old post box :')

November 22, 2036
Foxes’ Front Office, Shitamura’s Office, Osaka
15:13


“Who…?” Shitamura looked me over, “Oh. Azuma. Hello.” He went back to writing.

Shitamura was 57 years old, balding, and bespectacled. The hair that was still around was peppered gray, To match the walls, I guess, and he was dressed in a dull orange suit. He was… quite a sight.

“What…?” He adjusted his glasses, “Oh. Right. Contracts. Have a seat.”

I sat in one of the small chairs on the other side of his desk.
He put down his pen.

“Just wanted to call you in to tell you I’ve resigned everyone. Everyone is coming back.”
“Oh…” Snuck out of my mouth.

Truthfully, I was a bit disappointed that there wouldn’t be any major changes to the roster. At least, not at the moment.

“Oh?” Shitamura seemed confused, “What do you mean, ‘oh?’”
“What?” I didn’t understand.
“What do you mean, ‘oh?’ Are you disappointed with this? With me?”
“What? No, not at all, si--”
“No, shut up. You know why you’re here don’t you?”
“Uh…”
“Yeah, it’s to not speak and listen to me.” Shitamura stood up from his chair, he was surprisingly tall. I blinked a few times. “In here,” he stuck his finger in my face, “you don’t speak.” he said while shaking his head. His mouth flared, “You don’t have to have thoughts in here. Isn’t that amazing? You can just sit down and shut up for a minute and not have to stress over any fuuuucking contracts. Just sit content that the ‘big man upstairs’ is taking care of everything!” He threw his hands in the air and looked towards the ceiling, “Ohhh! Would you look at that! I’ve done my job! How amazing is that?”

His eyes were dull, he was a man possessed, “Well, how amazing is it?”

I was climbing out of the back of the chair as he encroached more and more into my space, “Uh…”
“Oh, no need to answer,” He backed off, “because it’s pretty goddamn amazing.”

He sat with a huff in his chair. His pen began to zip across the paper on his desk. “Do you know what this paper is?” He asked without looking, “It’s the last one.” He answered without waiting, “The last piece of work, piece of garbage sheet of paper I have to look at today. It’s a bill for our electricity! Our electricity, which!” His eyes burned bright and saw mine surely trying to crawl their way into the back of my skull, “should be freeeee! Azuma! ELECTRICITY SHOULD BE FREE”
“I ag--”
“I;m glad! You agreeee! AZUMA> GO NOW< WE”RE DONE>”

Suddenly I was in the hallway. The gray hallway with an orange zigzag pattern on one wall.

One, two… Without thinking, I began counting my steps.

Twelve, thirteen… The hallway felt much longer…

forty-one, forty-two would this end?

eighty-nine, ninety whats happening

one hundred seven, one hundred eight

“Oh, Azuma.”

The man in the seat behind the front counter was looking at the lights in his phone.

“Oh, Azuma.”

He was looking at the phone.

“15 8, 1 26 21 13 1.”

8 9 19 16 8 15 14 5 12 15 15 11 5 4 1 20 8 9 13.

“where do you go now” he asked
“What?” I couldn’t hear… hea sked a gain

“wheredoyougonow”

wheerreeeeeeeeeeedddddooooooyooooougooooooonowwwwwww
“wheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonowwheredoyougonow”

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH----

15:20

---mmmm.” my head violently shook as I came to. Shitamura was sitting across from me.
“Azuma. He said, “Don’t you ever *(censored)* dare fall asleep while I’m talking to you again.”
“Oh, uh… sorry, sir. Please forgive me.”
He exhaled, annoyed, “Just, get the hell out.”
“...Yes sir. Sorry ag-”
“Shut up. Get out.”

The door creaked as I opened it again.

Guess, uh… everyone’s coming back…

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 Post subject: Re: The New Knights | The Osaka Foxes
PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2023 8:09 pm 
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December 6, 2036
3L Apartment Complex, Unit 318, Kobe (Azuma Residence)
19:08


“After drawing the winning envelope - with the first pick of the 2036 draft, Takeshi Yamauchi is awarded to…”

The Grand Prince Hotel went silent waiting for the commissioner to finish his sentence. The Draft was finally upon us once again.

7 teams had placed a bid on college standout Takeshi Yamauchi, the Foxes included. The commissioner slowly slipped open the folder that held the winning team’s name.

After my… less than ideal first meeting with Shitamura, I wasn’t made privy to the draft strategy of the team. However, I was confident that we would at least pick up one stud. For all the shit that Shitamura got, most of it well-deserved, he was always revered for his ability to seek out talent and draft well. Notably, in the last five years, he grabbed Kobayashi (who has developed into a generational talent), Izumi (who has a monstrous ceiling), and Abe (who has the potential to really break out next season).

The commissioner continued, “...The Osaka Foxes! With the first pick of the 2036 draft, Takeshi Yamauchi out of Powerful University will be heading to the Osaka Foxes.”

“Oh wow.” I replied to my television.

I suppose it was no surprise that Yamauchi would be taken off the board first. He was nationally known for his explosive fastball and brief stint in the Koshien in 2033. I was happy to see Shitamura making a splash for the get-go. Yamauchi was also notable for being represented by American agent Preston Greene, an ex-Jack Allen confidant who transitioned to representing players in the early 2020s. This was especially strange, but I suppose something caught Greene’s eye. Very lucky we snagged him in the first round lottery

Takeshi Yamauchi - RHP
AGE, B/T, TOP SPD, CON, STAM, PITCHES
20, R/R, 163 km/h (101 mph), B, A, shuuto - 5, circle change - 1, slider - 1

.
.
.

“For the first pick in the second round, the Osaka Foxes choose…” The commissioner let the air leave the room once again, “outfielder Yosuke Hanamura from Tokyo Metropolitan High School.”

“Wow!”

A high schooler, and this one was a killer over in Tokyo. He carried a .453 average throughout his three years playing high school ball. Plus, now that I actually see him as he grabs his Foxes uniform, he looks really [url=http://www.mlbppworld.com/viewtopic.php?p=194819#p194819f[/url]amiliar… nevertheless, this kid is something special. I can’t imagine him not cracking the starting lineup right away.

Yosuke Hanamura - LF
AGE, 2ND POSITION, B/T, TRJ, CON, POW, RUN, ARM, FLD, E RES
18, OF/2B, R/R, B, E, A, D, C, E

.
.
.

“And for their third round pick, the Osaka Foxes take left-handed pitcher Yukio Hisamoto, out of Kakemori High School.”

The young, slender, dark-haired Yukio took the stage and took hold of a Foxes’ jersey.
“Hm…”
I’ve never heard of this kid.

Kakemori is out in Okinawa, so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the transition to Honshu once he gets over here. Damn though, two high schoolers this early? That’s bold… I was nervous about this one, considering I’d never heard of him, but I’d certainly been wrong before.

Yukio Hisamoto - LHP
AGE, B/T, TOP SPD, CON, STAM, PITCHES
18, L/L, 152 km/h (94 mph), D, E, slider - 1, palmball - 5

Our round 4 - 6 players were a bit less exciting. They were, in order:

Kazumi Oda - RHP
AGE, B/T, TOP SPD, CON, STAM, PITCHES
20, R/R, 146 km/h (91 mph), E, C, cutter - 3, drop curve - 1

… who profiled as a long relief man/6th starter. Lord knows we need pitching help, so I’ll take anything I can get.

Shota Inagaki - LHP
AGE, B/T, TOP SPD, CON, STAM, PITCHES
18, L/L, 146 km/h (91 mph), D, C, slider - 1, palm - 3, FB life - 2

… who is young with a high potential upside

Takao Niino - 1B
AGE, 2ND POSITION, B/T, TRJ, CON, POW, RUN, ARM, FLD, E RES
18, N/A, R/R, 2, E, E, E, C, E, E

… who probably projected as a backup first baseman, if nothing else. Though hey, who knows?

Regardless, this draft class was nothing short of amazing. I expect at least 15 of them will be instant threats and major contributors to their respective teams.

Other, Notable Picks:

Ryo Tomozawa - SS, Lions
AGE, 2ND POSITION, B/T, TRJ, CON, POW, RUN, ARM, FLD, E RES
19, 2B, S/R, 4, A, B, B, S, B, C
TOP SPD, CON, STAM, PITCHES
149 km/h (93 mph), D, B, slider - 4, curveball - 2, sinker - 2
Probably the most amazing player this draft class held. But! He has a history of severe arm injuries that (probably) held Shitamura up. Or maybe he didn’t want to step on Kobayashi’s toes. I suppose it was him or Yamauchi to pick, since Tomozawa commanded the other 5 wavers in the first round before the Lions’ name was called

Susumu Ikari - C, Bears
AGE, 2ND POSITION, B/T, TRJ, CON, POW, RUN, ARM, FLD, E RES
18, N/A, L/R, 3, C, D, B, B, B, A
Mamoru’s younger brother. They’d been battery-mates their entire lives before Mamoru got the call from the Knights last year. That said, Susumu did plenty well enough without his brother. Really the only gap in his game is power, which is honestly negligible for how impressive he is behind the plate.

Yu Nishida - C, Sakura
AGE, 2ND POSITION, B/T, TRJ, CON, POW, RUN, ARM, FLD, E RES
22, N/A, R/R, 3, B, B, B, B, B, B
The Sakura are known for their pitching above anything else. Although, they’re probably equally as well-known for their lack of a power bat. This kid will give them a solid option behind and at the plate. No doubt, he’ll live up to the hype. Probably.

Kojiro Tojoh - 3B, Dragons
AGE, 2ND POSITION, B/T, TRJ, CON, POW, RUN, ARM, FLD, E RES
21, 1B, L/R, 4, D, A, C, B, B, B
Tojoh has prodigal power, there’s no two ways about it. He doesn’t make a ton of contact, but when he connects… boy does he connect. He elected to attend college rather than make the jump to the NPB after high school, but his skill with the bat hasn’t waned in those years.

Kota Takeno - 3B, Toki
AGE, 2ND POSITION, B/T, TRJ, CON, POW, RUN, ARM, FLD, E RES
18, OF, R/R, 4, S, B, S, C, C, C
Takeno was unproven until high school, but his showing was so strong that he garnered national attention. The Toki, built on the principle that “speed wins games,” lack any sort of power bat, so they’re taking a chance on the freakishly strong (and quick!) farmhand. Kinda crazy and commendable of them, I think.

Nobuhiro Yanase - RHP, Marines
AGE, B/T, TOP SPD, CON, STAM, PITCHES
18, R/R, 153 km/h (95 mph), B, E, hard slider - 7, palmball - 3
The 8th pick, and arguably the top pitcher in this year’s draft. He has what is perhaps the most impressive slider in years. He certainly profiles to be the next Ryo Fujioka. A bit of a mystery he didn’t get picked earlier.

Yu Narukami - CF, Giants
AGE, 2ND POSITION, B/T, TRJ, CON, POW, RUN, ARM, FLD, E RES
18, OF, R/R, 3, C, A, B, B, B, D
How he fell to the Giants is beyond me. This kid is something special and his raw power, if unrefined, is incredible. That alone would be impressive, but he complements it with tremendous range in the outfield, and above average speed on the bases.

Hiroki Kawabata - LF, Samurai
AGE, 2ND POSITION, B/T, TRJ, CON, POW, RUN, ARM, FLD, E RES
23, OF/1B, R/R, 3, B, A, D, E, E, D
He is a complete hitter. But… that’s about all he’s got. His fielding is unimpressive, he doesn’t impress on the bases. He does have great instincts on the field though, so the balls he does manage to get to usually end up in his glove. His age most likely held other teams up, though the Samurai are never shy when it comes to a big corner outfield bat.

Yoji Miyaguni - RHP, Bears
AGE, B/T, TOP SPD, CON, STAM, PITCHES
18, L/R, 150 km/h (93 mph), D, E, knuckle curve - 4, shuuto - 3
Another one who went unproven in high school. He was his school’s relief ace, and did indeed record the final out of every game they won. But they only won a few games, so his true talents aren’t exactly known. That probably led to him dropping to the second round. The Bears are hurting for pitching, so this was probably a no-brainer, even considering his short CV

Keisuke Kasaya - C, Marines
AGE, 2ND POSITION, B/T, TRJ, CON, POW, RUN, ARM, FLD, E RES
24, 1B, L/R, 3, B, B, E, C, C, D
Long undrafted, Kasaya resurfaced this year. Him being 24 and never catching a professional game is a tough sell, but his talent is plain to see. The Marines definitely caught a nice break with him falling so deep into the second round

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 Post subject: Re: The New Knights | The Osaka Foxes
PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2023 3:24 pm 
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December 13, 2036
3L Apartment Complex, Unit 318, Kobe (Azuma Residence)
19:09


Free Agency!

Free agency continues! I, decidedly not being on Shitamura’s short list of friends, was not invited to any of our planning meetings. So, instead, I checked up on npb.jp after 19:00 to see what had happened.

-FOXES-

Sign undrafted free agent, Michihiko Hata - LHP (18)

Michihiko Hata - LHP
AGE, B/T, TOP SPD, CON, STAM, PITCHES
18, L/L, 145 km/h (90 mph), E, E, cutter - 1, palm - 2

Sign free agent Masahito Okada - 3B (32)

Masahito Okada - 3B
AGE, 2ND POSITION, B/T, TRJ, CON, POW, RUN, ARM, FLD, E RES
32, 1B/DH, S/R, 3, E, C, C, E, D, C

Sign free agent Atsuhiko Utsumi - LHP (31), Giants take Hiroshi Kobayashi - RHP, and ¥320 million as compensation

Atsuhiko Utsumi - LHP
AGE, B/T, TOP SPD, CON, STAM, PITCHES
31, L/L, 145 km/h (90 mph), C, B, slurve - 4, forkball - 2, screwball - 3

WHOA! Utsumi is an insane pickup! We really needed rotation help and Shitamura sure did deliver. ...At the cost of another pitcher and a huge chunk of the team’s funds.

… honestly it kind of gutted the team.

But hey, at least we have a superstar pitcher now. I wonder how the hell Shitamura convinced him to come over here…?

FOXES send HATA and NIINO to train abroad in Australia. EXPECTED RETURN: Post All-Star Break

This one was a surprise to me. But, nonetheless, I was glad to see some of the… less developed… players have the opportunity to get some reps in over in Australia. Only time could tell how they would return.

.
.
.

I took a look at some of the other team’s feeds. Nothing really outstanding other than:

MARINES sign international free agent Darryl Goode - 3B (33)

I’d never heard of this guy. Apparently he spent 9 years in-and-out of the MLB before deciding to bring his talents over here. Looks to me like the perfect situational hitter, but who knows how well he’ll translate over to the NPB.

Darryl Goode - 3B
AGE, 2ND POSITION, B/T, TRJ, CON, POW, RUN, ARM, FLD, E RES
33, N/A, R/R, 3, B, B, C, C, E, C

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 Post subject: Re: The New Knights | The Osaka Foxes
PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2023 3:26 pm 
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December 28, 2036
Okonomiyaki Chitose, Osaka
11:53


With a call disturbing my rest, my brother had invited me to lunch at a restaurant that was an hour’s train ride from my house. I, of course, accepted the invite and, to my surprise, my sister Miyuki was also with him.

“Ryu!” Kenma called out to me with a wave as I walked up to the restaurant.

The restaurant was a small spot, out of the way down an alley in Osaka. Its awning, a dulled red from years of not-being-replaced, was covered with a thin layer of snow. I have to say--I didn’t have much hope for the place. Nonetheless, “What’s up?” followed Kenma’s beckoning. Beside him was my sister, Miyuki, who offered me a much more reasonable smile and, “Hey Ryu!” She had her hands deep in her coat’s pockets. “It’s… freezing.” she began, “how about we head inside?”
“Yeah,” steam came from Kenma’s mouth, “yeah that’s a good idea.” He slid open the door.

The inside held no surprises. A bar with six wooden chairs, grills covered in sizzling okonomiyaki, an older man fiddling with the oven, and a row of cabinets were the set-dressing. Amazingly, there were a few chairs open next to one another. The three of us took our seats and were unceremoniously handed a small menu by the older man.

“Let me know if you have any questions.” Left his mouth without a thought.
“Thank you.” Left mine, just as bereft.

There were no questions: pork and squid topped with an egg. There was no other choice in my mind.

We quickly put in our orders and the man slapped some fried noodles onto the grill in front of us.

“Sooo…” Kenma began as the noodles sizzled. “How’s it been hanging, Ryu?”
“Uh… Pretty decently, I guess.”
“Anything crazy been going on?”
“Well, I just was invited to an awards ceremony for the first time, so that was kinda cra-”
“Nice, nice. Well, hey, anyways, you think you’re going to be doing anything for the new year?”
Miyuki interjected, “Oh wow, an award ceremony?”
“Yeah, it was-- uh, well, I mean…” I looked towards Kenma, “I don’t think I’ll be doing anything, nah. Why?”
“Welllll… You wanna ask, Yuki?”

The older man sprinkled some pork and squid onto my pile of noodles.

Miyuki smiled, “Ryu. Kenma and I were thinking of doing something wild for New Years. Would you be busy then?”

Haha! Nope! Not a chance I’ll be doing anything…
“Oh, uh, hm… how ‘wild’?”
“We’re gonna go to Hawaii!” Kenma jumped in.

An egg was cracked beautifully over my pork/squid/noodle pile.

“Whoa, that is pretty wild.” I took a sip of my water. “…Wow! Yeah actually, that’s really wild, haha.”
“Could be pretty amazing though, yea?” Kenma took a sip of his Koshihikari.
Miyuki watched the man cooking, “you want to join?” she asked, still studying the cook, “I’ve got another plane ticket burning a hole in my bag.” She turned her head and smiled.

My plate clinked as it hit the counter.
-ding- rung the old cook, our orders complete. He went back to his fiddling.

Hawaii, huh… “Uh…” I took a bite, “Mmm… Wow, this is amazing.”
“Yeah, yeah, it’s delicious.” Kenma took a sip of his beer, “you coming or nah?”
“Yeah.” I responded. Without thinking. Oh shit. “Uhhh, yeah. Yeah. I’ll go. I don’t have anything much else going on, so why not?”
“Hell yeah, Ryu!” Kenma slapped my back, “why not, indeed!”
“Oh good!” Miyuki grabbed the ticket from her bag, “we’re flying out on the 31st. Hawaii’s like a whole day behind us, so we’ll get there on the 30th. Kinda weird, hahaha.”
“Really?”
“Yeah,” Kenma cut in, “they’re 19 hours behind us. This way we’ll have a couple whole days to just, I dunno, chill out on the islands.”
“So, what’s the plan after that?” I asked.
“There’s supposed to be some crazy party fireworks thing called ”Waikiki,” or something that Kenma and I have been thinking about for years now. Well, ever since Seiko mentioned it.” Miyuki said.
“Ohhhh, damn, yeah that’s right! Wow,” Kenma practically jumped out of his seat, “Seiko…” He sighed with a smile, “God, that had to have been like almost 15 years ago, now.”
“Wow, seriously? She went that long ago?”
“Yeah. 2022.”
“Oh…” Miyuki lowered her head.
“Uh…” I snuck into the conversation without a real word, yet the attention was on me. “Who’s Seiko?”

Kenma met my eyes and inhaled. His eyes, twinged with sadness, betrayed his smile. “Honestly,” timorously, he began “she’s probably the reason I’m still here.”

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 Post subject: Re: The New Knights | The Osaka Foxes
PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2023 3:29 pm 
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December 28, 2036
Okonomiyaki Chitose, Osaka
13:01


“Honestly, she’s probably the reason I’m still here.”

Huh?

Kenma took one more sip of his drink. “When I was hom--well, when our parents kicked me out of the goddamn house--I was starting to lose hope, you know?” He watched as the old cook meticulously cut his peppers.

“But,” he smiled faintly, “Seiko saved me, man.”
I looked to Miyuki. She closed her eyes and nodded.
“She was like this light in the middle of the night. Somehow, by some miracle--I dunno if it was God or luck or fate or whatever--but, somehow when I was stuck doing shit day-long construction jobs she just… popped up.” Kenma rubbed his right eye, “I was about to hop onto a train to Asakusa--see, there was this priest in one of the temples there who--whatever.” Kenma took another sip of his beer.

I kinda can’t believe this is happening… Kenma has never told me anything about the time he spent homeless. He was on the streets after our parents kicked him out from age 18-24. Nobody really knows what the hell he went through or had to do in those 6 years aside from that one day we all went to a Knights game.

“Ahh, anyways, yeah. I was planning on heading to Asakusa when--bing!--over the intercom: ‘We apologize for the inconvenience, but the Ginza Line has been delayed. Please excuse us. The next train shall be arriving in one hour.’ And I was thinking, ‘Shit. Now I’m stuck here because I can’t afford to go out and pay for another ticket later on.’ So… I took a seat on one of the benches and closed my eyes.” Kenma laughed, “Big *(censored)*’ mistake.

An hour blinks by and I’m still asleep like an asshole on the bench. The train pulls in, it pulls out. I’m in goddamn dreamland. When I wake up, I look around. There’s no one else on the platform. Just me in my steel-toed boots and reflective jacket, so at least I didn’t look like someone who had less than ¥400 to their name.”

“So were you just like trapped for the night, then?” I asked.

“I would’ve been, probably. Or actually, well, I guess security would’ve kicked me out after midnight. But, regardless, I was out of luck. I missed the train to Asakusa. Now, this might not seem like a huge deal. ‘Just grab the next train, and it’s whatever,’ yeah? But, I dunno… That was just kinda… it. That was it. That was my moment. I was done. I was 22 years old, I had nothing, I had… no one. Or so I thought, but… I decided, in that moment, that I would…”

Kenma looked back towards the old cook. “I would…”

He cleared his nose. Rubbed his eyes.

“I would jump in front of the next train.”

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 Post subject: Re: The New Knights | The Osaka Foxes
PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2023 5:00 pm 
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December 28, 2036
Okonomiyaki Chitose, Osaka
13:19


“Kenma…” Miyuki let our brother’s name slip out of her mouth.
“Whoa.” I added, inappropriately.
“Yeah.” Kenma said, “Yeah. That was it. I thought, ‘*(censored)* it. I’m done.’ and that was that. I was as good as gone. Or, well, obviously I wasn’t really. I was too chickenshit to do it. The next train rolled in and rolled out. It was like 23:30 at this point, probably only a couple more trains were even gonna roll through. And I was just standing there, in that Goddamn stupid reflective jacket.

In rolls another train . . .

. . . and out comes a lone woman, Seiko, and well uh… she just kinda walked right by me, engrossed in a conversation on her phone. Which!--and this is crazy--was with *(censored)* Miyuki of all people.” Kenma laughed and took another sip of his beer, “They were talking about… uh… I’ve actually got no idea. Probably the st--”
“Probably the stocks, haha!” Miyuki interrupted, “we were always talking about the ‘stocks.’”
“Uh, really?” I didn’t understand. “Why the stocks?”
“Well, it wasn’t actually the stocks, but the… it’s kinda confusing, don’t worry about it.”
“Oh, uh… okay…”

Kenma continued, “So yeah, she walked right by me like I didn’t exist. Honestly, I didn’t then. I may as well have not, at least. To tell you the truth, I probably didn’t even really register her in the moment. I was too stuck in my own damn head. But then...

Clunk

She walked straight into the turnstile. It wouldn’t let her out. She looked around for a second, saw me in my worker suit, assumed that I worked for the railroad company probably, and started walking my way. At this point,” Kenma took a big bite, “I was looking away from her approaching me, kinda trying my best to will myself out of existence. She was this lovely woman, short and cute. But yeah, at the time, I dunno. I was so caught up thinking about trains that nothing else really registered.”

Kenma continued, “‘Hello?’ she tapped on my shoulder, ‘Do you work for the rail company?’ I, being a fool, said ‘Yep!’ and she beamed. ‘What a wonderful smile’ I thought. She asked me if I could fix the turnstile, and I--once again, a fool--said I could. We walked over. Obviously, I can’t fix a turnstile. So, I just helped her hop over it. Figured they wouldn’t care if people are jumping out from the platform. Well, I was wrong, and we… to make a long story short, we both ended up in the security office for the night.

I found out while we were in there that she was in the middle of switching apartments and her landlord messed up the dates so she was, essentially, homeless for two weeks.”

Miyuki interrupted, “Wait, what? I never knew that.”
“Yeah dude, she was couch surfing when I met her.” Kenma replied
“I wond—why the hell didn’t she ever tell me that?”
“Maybe she was ashamed? I dunno. Being homeless is a shit feeling.”

“Anyways,” Kenma continued on, glass empty, “so yeah, I found out she had nowhere to stay. So she was staying late at the of--”

“THAT’S WHY!” Miyuki yelled, “She was staying at the office so late for a little while there, but she never told me why. Damn, that all makes sense…”

“--fice. Haha, yeah, that’s why. She was spending 90% of her time at the office, which happened to be ROHM, which is, of course, where Miyuki works. But sometimes she just had to leave and get some fresh air. We got to chatting about her work, about her friends, about her shit situation, about how I certainly was not an employee of the train company. Somehow Miyuki came up. ‘I was just chatting to my friend, Miyuki’ she said, while recounting how the turnstile refused to open for her. I was like, ‘oh weird! I’ve got a sister named Miyuki.’ and then I assuredly laughed in a cool way. She was surprised. ‘Oh no way, what’s your last name?’ she asked. When I told her… ‘what!’ her jaw hit the floor! ‘No way! Yuki and me go waaaay back!’ She told me how you like, ‘saved her’ in geography back when you two were in high school, hahaaha.”

Miyuki laughed, “She did always suck at geography.”

“Haha…” Kenma’s smile faded, “Yeah... From there we just kept talking and the night melted away. The guard let us out in the morning, gave us a stern speech about the ‘Integrity of the railway,’ and that was that. I figured I’d never see her again, but she gave me her number. And the rest, I guess, is… Yeah. She was pretty amazing. She saved me, man. She hooked me up with ROHM, which eventually got me at the place I’m at now, Hikarizaka Electric, reconnected me with Yuki, got me off the streets, let me… uh, well we lived together for a bit. She--I dunno…” Kenma looked into his empty glass, “I really miss her. Each day that goes by, she rattles around in my head.”

“What happened to her?” I asked.

Kenma’s face sank, “she got hit by a car. February 17, 2022. Just out shopping. She got blindsided by someone taking a turn. ...DOA.” Kenma signaled for another Koshihikari.

I was stunned, I had nothing to say. “Oh… god, Kenma I’m so sorry. I… I never knew.”
Kenma laughed without making a sound, “that’s alright, man. You were still in high school. Still in the bubble. Our parents would’ve never let you see me even if you did know what was going on.”
“Yeah…”

A new glass of Koshihikari was placed down in front of Kenma. He turned towards me and flashed a big smile, betrayed again by his eyes. “Anyways,” he said, “Hawaii! Wooooo!”

He slammed the empty glass onto the counter.

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 Post subject: Re: The New Knights | The Osaka Foxes
PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2023 5:29 pm 
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December 30, 2036
Halekulani Hotel, Honolulu
6:27 PM


My bags were placed delicately at the foot of my bed. My room, a Sunset Suite was a luxurious suite with a deck and a wondrous view of Waikiki beach. Outside my window, I could see people fussing about on the beach trying to set up for tomorrow’s festivities.

The sun shone a deep red as it slipped below the horizon. My room was painted by its light. After a 7 hour flight though, I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the beauty of the moment. I sat in one of the chairs at the round dining table.

And fell asleep.

11:24 PM

guuuuuh

My mouth was dry. The window was open. A smooth sea breeze hit my face. My eyes pried open. I pulled out my phone. 23:24, damn...

This was not the time to be waking up…

“Mmmggg” I grunted as my joints clicked into place. I moved over to my bed and opened the side table drawer.

“Oooh,” the menu for the 24-hour room service greeted me, “don’t mind if I do.” I flipped to the back of it.

“Whoa!” The menu was in Japanese! “I guess that makes sense…” I fingered through until I reached the “late night menu.” The only thing calling my name was the hamburger. It had been ages since I had a hamburger.

After calling in my order, I popped on the TV. What greeted me was a program showing some entertainment news and a slow scroll of channels on the right half of the screen. Though my English was choppy at best, I managed to make out “Hawaii Sports” and switched it to channel 71. A program called “Quick Draw” was due to begin at midnight, which looked to be some sort of baseball series or something. I decided to scan through my phone to pass the time.

December 31, 2036
12:00 AM


“Helloooo everyone and welcome to another beautiful island day at Rainbow Beach Stadium here in Honolulu on this twenty-seventh of Juuuuly, twenty-thirty-six.”

I took a bite of my hamburger, trying my best to listen to and understand what was being said on the TV. Despite my confusion, it was clear that there was to be a baseball game on. The broadcast focused in on one of the players in a white uniform with light brown sleeves taking grounders in the infield as the pitcher warmed up.

“We join you on this marvelous July afternoon for a rubber match between two surging teams. The Mariners come into today victors of 8 of their last 10 and just a game back of the Dolphins for the AL West lead. And, lest we forget, we have our Gunmen hot on their tails, just three and a half back themselves in what is shaping up to be an exciting three way race to win the summer! Today’s game should prove to be a goo--” The camera shifted into the booth.

Two men, one dressed in a suit and the other in a… striking blue and green Hawaiian shirt with a straw hat on, stood with microphones and were looking at each other. The suited man was stifling a laugh, “--d one… Uhh, Matt, what in the world are you wearing?”

The man in the hat replied, “Well, uh, it’s free Hawaiian shirt day today! So, well, since I know a couple guys,” he tapped the suited man with his elbow, eliciting a chuckle, “they hooked me up with one. And, oh!” He turned around, there were what looked to be a couple American cowboys on horses, each with a rope spinning above their heads. “Check it out! Pretty cool, yeah?”
“Haha, I’ll have to get me one of those.” The suited man replied.
“Gotta be one of the first 5,000 in the park and you’ll get one. First 15,000 though get one of these fresh hats.” The Hawaiian shirt man pointed to his hat.

I had no idea what they were saying.

A small chyron bar popped up on the bottom of the screen with their names.

“Paul Jasso” under the suited man, and under the one in the Hawaiian shirt…

“Matt Weaver”

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 Post subject: Re: The New Knights | The Osaka Foxes
PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2023 6:50 pm 
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December 31, 2036
Halekulani Hotel, Honolulu
1:48 AM


Perhaps it was my delirium from our flight, or maybe the satisfaction from my rapturous hamburger that drew me deeper into the night and further engrossed into the game.

It was suddenly the bottom of the 8th inning. The Mariners were up 7-2 after a disastrous top half by the Gunmen with their bullpen letting up 5 runs. I can relate…

Curious about the final score of the game, my fingers hovered over my phone, ”baseball-reference” their destination. Yet I stilled them to preserve the surprise. Maybe, I thought, somehow this game could be special. Hell, it must be for them to show it on New Year’s Eve.

Regardless, it was the bottom of the 8th and the Gunmen were coming up with the bottom of their order. A thin man with a mustache took his spot in the left-handed batter’s box. He tapped his right sleeve twice and took a deep breath. He was their left fielder, a man by the name of Steve Thompson, who had managed to get on base earlier in the game with a walk, but yet remained hitless.

“Thompson’s looking to get something started here.” The suited voice said, his name leaving my mind as soon as it had entered it.
“Well,” the hatted Matt, whose name did stay with me for whatever reason, jumped in, “Thompson is a sneaky good hitter when it counts. He often finds himself at the beginning of rallies. Maybe this’ll be no different?”

The hum of the crowd filled the commentators’ silence as the pitcher wound up.

“Catcher’s setting up down-and-away, slider maybe?” Hat postulated.
“Wouldn’t surprise me,” Suit replied, “Reynolds does have a killer slider.”

To my surprise, they were right. It was a slider down and away, sneaking into the right-handed batter’s box. Thompson began his swing… Uh oh, too early!

I munched on a handful of french fries.

“OH! That one’s gonna fall!!” Hat didn’t bother hiding his excitement. Thompson swung on a pitch that he had no business hitting and managed to bloop a single over the head of the shortstop. “That’s our hunter, S. Thompson, right there!”

The “hunter” pumped his fist as he stood on first base.

His surprise single was promptly followed by a three-pitch strikeout.

“And here we’ve got Philip Santos coming up now. He’s sitting at a .233 average on the year.” Suit began speaking as the season’s stats for Santos splashed on the screen. .233/.300/.399

“Oof, not great…” I ate some more french fries.

“He’s 1-3 today.” Suit said.
“Long overdue maybe, but Santos has to be looking to breakout here.” Hat’s voice followed, “Wouldn’t it be wild if he h--”

-CRACK-

“OH AND THERE GOES IT!” Suit was getting animated now! “TO THE WAAALLLL AND OVER THE RAINBOW! A 2-run homerun for Philip Santos! That’s his third on the year and only his… His eighth for his whole career.”
“Oh my god!”
“Suddenly we might have a game here!”

The Mariners responded with a pitching change.

After three pitches from this new arm, the Gunmen had managed a triple, a double to make the score 7-5, and a ground out to push the bottom of the 8th to two outs. The Mariners’ new pitcher was sweating. He wiped his forehead with the back of his hand and took a deep breath and settled again on the rubber.

Two outs, a runner on third, and the tying run at the plate. The cleanup hitter for the Gunmen took a practice swing. He tapped the brim of his helmet with his bat, dug into the batter’s box, and stood ready.

First pitch was a fastball out of the zone. “And that’s a rare chase for Arcuri, strike one.”
Second was a curveball in the dirt. 1-1

On the third pitch, another curveball - this one hanging up around the letters, the cleanup batter uncorked a tremendous swing.

“COULD IT BE” Hat exclaimed, “ARE WE TIED U--”
--thump--
“Ooooof, that’s a heartbreaker.”

The ball died on the warning track and found the centerfielder’s glove. Three outs. Still 7-5.

“Man…” I savored the last of my french fries, “this is getting exciting!”

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 Post subject: Re: The New Knights | The Osaka Foxes
PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2023 3:28 pm 
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December 31, 2036
Halekulani Hotel, Honolulu
1:53 AM


The Mariners went down 1-2-3 in the top of the 9th.

To start off the bottom of the 9th, the Gunmen’s fifth batter took a fastball down and away to right field for a line drive single. Their sixth hitter followed up with an explosive ground-rule double.

Then the seventh batter, the trusty “Hunter,” Steve Thompson came up to the plate once again. He stood tall, his stance simple, and took the first pitch for a ball inside. The next pitch was a fastball…

“Looks like that one slipped!” Hat yelled, I could almost hear his eyes popping out of his head. Thompson swung…

And smacked a sharp grounder through the 5/6 hole! A run came across the plate and suddenly the Gunmen were only down by one run. The score was now 7-6.

With no outs and two on, the surprise homerun hitter, Philip Santos took his spot in the batter’s box.

“Can he do it again?” Suit asked.
“That would put this one in the history books if he could.” Hat replied

.
.
.

“Oooh, and a rough swing there. Santos is down on five pitches.” said Suit.
“Guess he had to come back to reality…” added Hat.

With one out and men on first and third, up came the leadoff hitter for the Gunmen, a man named Marlon Washington. His stats flashed on the screen: .302/.382/.401 with 7 homeruns and 48 RBI.

Wow, this guy’s pretty solid.

“Mr. Marlon is just the guy you want up here.” Hat began, “He’s still sitting at only… what is it, 50 strikeouts for the year?”
“52.” Suit corrected.
“And we’re almost in August! Washington’s just gotta put this in play. See what happens.”
“Here’s the first pitch…”

A ball, up and away.
The next pitch that followed was a swinging strike on a breaking pitch out of the zone.

“Nerves can get the best of anyone in situations like these…” Hat said

The third pitch was a… cutter?

“OHHHH” Suit got excited.

The ball whistled, the cameraman scrambled.

“OHHHHHHH,” Suit’s voice cracked, “YOu’ve gotta be sh-- kidding me!!”

The ball sailed over the centerfield wall.

“O--OVER THE WALL AND OVER THE RAINBOW! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! THE GUNMEN TAKE IT! NINE TO SEVEN!! In the most unbelievable fashion - the Gunmen have crawled alllll the way back to steal this one from the red-hot Mariners and move to only a game and a half back from second place in the AL West. My oh my!”
“Oh my--” Hat was surprisingly calm in his monosyllabic response. “Wow, wow, wow… This is a real midsummer dream, eh?”

The players mobbed Washington at the plate. Sunflower seeds were thrown, drinks were tossed, caps went flying.

“WOO!” I jumped out of my seat. My plate rattled on the table. “Damn! That’s some real MLB action right there.”

I took a look at my phone

2:00

“...Damn… I really should try to get some sleep…”

I slogged over to my bed, stomach still full, no doubt a foolish mistake, and laid down face first. Maybe if I force myself, I can fall asle--

And off to sleep I went.

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 Post subject: Re: The New Knights | The Osaka Foxes
PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2023 3:29 pm 
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December 31, 2036
Halekulani Hotel, Honolulu
1:03 PM


-bzzbzzbzz-

-bzzbzzb--

1:49 PM

-knockknock-

.
.
.

“--u alive in there?”

My vision blurry, I stumbled out of bed. I looked down at myself. guhhh I was a mess. The knocking on the door continued.

Through the peephole I saw my sister Miyuki, fisheyed, peeping into my room. She turned her head.

“He’s alright, right?” She asked
“He’s probably just asleep, come on.” Replied another voice, no doubt my brother Kenma.

I opened the door. It got caught by the chain.

“Oh!” said Miyuki, “Uh, well, you want to let us in?”

Kenma and Miyuki were both dressed for springtime. Kenma in some baggy streetwear and Miyuki in a flowy tan blouse and black jeans. It was 24°C, after all. I, on the other hand, was dressed in my clothes from yesterday: some loose fitting sweatpants and an old Knights’ t-shirt. Something I probably shouldn’t be seen wearing anymore, now that I think about it…

“...” Kenma looked at me. “Dude,” he scanned me again, “you look like shit.”
“...” I looked at him. “Yeah…” I did look like shit.
“You feeling okay?” Miyuki asked
“Yeah… I’m good.”

Her eyes locked onto my plate of hamburger scraps, “Oh, did you already eat lunch?”

“I… Uh, no. That’s from last night.”
“Oh! When’d you eat? Kenma and I were looking for you last night to see if you wanted to grab anything. We figured you’d gone to sleep, so… we let you be.”
“Uh… probably around midnight.”
“Ryu!”
“Yeah… not the healthiest, I know. ‘was really wiped when we got in. Put down my bags and then passed out, honestly.”
“Well, you hungry now?” Kenma asked
“Yeah, I could go for something.”
“Good. Yuki and I were planning on grabbing some sushi for a late lunch kinda thing. You in?”
“Works for me.”
“Uh…” Miyuki took her turn looking me up and down, “Maybe change first though, yeah?”
“Yeah… That might be a good idea.”

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu
7:02 PM


After lunch, Miyuki, Kenma, and I all decided to join the people and hang on the beach. Waikiki beach was where the, supposedly, massive New Year’s party was to be held in just a couple hours. There were already a ton of people relaxing and drinking when we hit the sand at around 16:00. There were even more people going wild dancing over at the DJ’s… uh, station? KDDB 102.7 FM, DA BOMB was emblazoned in a bright red on the front of his set-up. I wonder if he’s a DJ at DA BOMB… or maybe that’s his DJ name? They have names, right…? I was clueless on DJ culture.

Regardless, the three of us posted up at a pop-up bar a little ways away from DJ DA BOMB, though the music was still pumping. It was pretty exhilarating, particularly for a homebody like me.

Despite my holdups on drinking, I had Miyuki order me a piña colada. It just felt right.

The bartender was a very handsome American man with a close-shaved reddish brown beard. He was probably in his late 20s. I couldn’t say a word to him since he, obviously, spoke no Japanese, but he seemed kind with the way he took the hundreds of orders coming his way at any one time. This was probably the busiest day of the year for him. I wonder if that’s good or bad… He probably makes a ton of money, but… damn. Seems stressful. I sipped on my piña colada, my back leaning on the bar, and looked out to the ocean on this beautiful, crisp, early-summer quality final day of the year.

What will 2037 bring? I wondered Hopefully something good…

The hours slipped away with each passing sip. Next thing I knew, I was three piña coladas removed from our arrival on the scene and dancing in “DA BLASTZONE.”

With each moved busted, the minutes rock and rolled away.

“Phew,” I said to the woman who was dancing, more or less, with me. “I’m beat.”

She didn’t respond. She probably didn’t know Japanese.

I took some steps away from “DA BLASTZONE” and looked at my phone.

Holy shit. It’s already…

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu
11:01 PM


The sky was dark, the music was loud, the drinks were flowing. My home screen was a mess of missed texts from Kenma:

19:53
[whoa man bustin a moveeee ^w^], with a picture of me uh… dancing.

20:31
[bro that girl is slamming]
[seriously wow look at u go]
[oh btw i ordered another mai tai i think it was on ur card]
[sorry]
[8)]

21:01
[kafj gagf]
[whoops]

21:26
[theres some mak party or something that yuki wants to go to]
[idk]
[you done?]
[damn lmao doesnt look like it]
… and another picture of me…

21:38
[hey yea were going to that party]
[idk how she did it but]
[yuki got us a couple tickets]
[they weer like 100 dollars]
[whats that like a million yen]
[shiiiiiiit]

21:42
[yukis phone dead]

21:55
[Ryu, Kenma and I are gonna head over to the SKY rooftop party. Apparently, it’s a masquerade… Text Kenma back when you get this. The bartender told us that we could probably squeeze you in if we manage to get in ourselves lol]
[you look like you’re having some crazy fun though, so keep doing your thing ヽ(o^▽^o)ノ]
Attached was the address to the SKY restaurant, a short 5 minute walk.

I gathered myself, took another look at DJ DA BOMB going nuts on stage, and began my walk to the SKY.

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 Post subject: Re: The New Knights | The Osaka Foxes
PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2023 5:26 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:43 am
Posts: 6441
Location: Yes
Favorite Team: Red Sox
Console '07: Nintendo Wii
Console '08: Wii and DS
Favorite Japanese title: (PS3) Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyuu 2011
December 31, 2036
SKY Waikiki, Honolulu
11:09 PM


“Yo. Nah, man. Sorry.” The bouncer, a gigantic man dressed in white, held out his hand. He spoke surprisingly perfect Japanese.
“But uh… my sister’s in there?” I tried, feebly, to coerce him.
“So?” He pointed behind me, “Look at this *(censored)* line, man. Everybody’s ‘got a sister’ in there or some shit.” He cleared his throat, “Sorry man, but it’s a no go. We’re at capacity and--”
“Hold on, let me text her.”
He sighed, “Whatever, dude. Just stand off to the side and do it.”
“Oh. Uh, yea…”

23:09
[yukiiii help meeeee]
The text whoosed away. I could only wait and hope Kenma would have the wherewithal to pass it along to Miyuki

23:11
[shecomin]
Miraculously, he responded in just 2 minutes. Seemed she was on her way.

11:16 PM

A woman in a flowy tan blouse, black jeans, and a jeweled, purple mask with one… horn? Wing? stemming from its left eye exited near the bouncer. She looked at me and smiled.
“Yuki?” I mouthed
She waved, then said some words to the bouncer. He looked my way, pointed, shrugged, and motioned for me to go over to him.
“Damn, sorry bro. Guess you really did have a sister in there, haha! And…” he whispered in my ear, “what a sister you’ve got.” He winked.
I laughed, awkwardly.
“Come on in, my man.” He winked again, “Masks are uh… I got no idea actually. Just… yeah, whatever.” He closed the door after I walked in

“Yuki, how the hell did you swing this?” was the first thing I asked my sister.

My sister, who had somehow swung us three tickets into what looked to be a very expensive, very private event, on extremely short notice, took off her mask, “I’ve got my secrets.” She winked.

Lotta winking going on here…

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 Post subject: Re: The New Knights | The Osaka Foxes
PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2023 5:55 pm 
Power Pro Legend
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Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:43 am
Posts: 6441
Location: Yes
Favorite Team: Red Sox
Console '07: Nintendo Wii
Console '08: Wii and DS
Favorite Japanese title: (PS3) Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyuu 2011
December 31, 2036
SKY Waikiki, Honolulu
11:36 PM


I managed a glance at the directory as Miyuki rushed us to the Waikiki Business Plaza’s elevators.

Unit 1900 - SKY Waikiki

“19th floor, damn” accidentally left my mouth
“Oh yeah.” Miyuki responded without breaking stride, “You’ve gotta see this place.”

The elevators pinged a soothing, dare I say, high class “pong” as their doors slid open. With a press of the cab’s “19” button, slightly more worn than the others, Yuki and I were the only two taking this particular trip to the SKY.

“This place is actually super nice.” Miyuki broke the silence as a 3 flashed on the small screen above the door, “I figured it would be kinda chintzy, but it’s like, I dunno. Feels like a legit spot.” She gave herself a laugh, “Feels like it would be at home on the ground.”
“Yeah, rooftop bars are usually pretty rough.”
“Not this one though!” She flashed a big smile at me. 11 blinked by. We continued our ascent.

As we passed the 17th floor, Miyuki strapped her mask back on. In the tasteful lighting of the elevator, I was able to get a better look at what was unmistakably a wing. A butterfly wing? I wasn’t sure. Its jewels, which seemed to be actually genuine, sparkled in the light.

“What is that, a butterfly?” I asked
“Hm? Oh, yeah, I think so. I just picked out the first one I saw.” She tapped the wing rising from her left eye. “Kinda looks bug-ish, haha. Hopefully it's a butterfly.”

The elevator’s equally high class arrival “pong” pinged as it came to a stop on the 19th floor.
“19th Floor. SKY Waikiki Raw & Bar.” said a pleasant simulated woman’s voice with the doors’ opening.

Miyuki and I stepped out, “Kenma was a bit more choosy with his.” She said pointing at her mask. “I think his is like a… bear or something.”

We continued our walk from the elevator to the SKY Waikiki restaurant’s front door, the music playing inside barely muffled through the walls. I wonder how DJ DA BOMB’s doing down on the beach… “Oh!” Miyuki stopped in her tracks.
“What’s up?”
“I forgot!” She reached into her clutch, ”Your ticket to the SKY, my lord.” She said with a bow, handing me a neon green wristband. “Or, well, your ticket in the door at least, heehee”

The man outside the front door checking for wristbands was even more massive than the one at the center’s entrance. He wore a black polo a size too small and khakis that looked to be painted onto his legs.

“Wrists.” He said.

Miyuki flashed her left wrist with a twist and pulled mine with it.

“He doesn’t have a mask yet.” She said, pointing to me.
“Inside. There’s a box.” The man replied
“Thanks.” Miyuki smiled at the giant and pulled me through the doors.

Almost as if passing through a portal, the lounge behind the doors was bathed in a deep purple. The lights bounced off the walls, the bartenders leaned over to hear desperate revelers’ numerous requests, the backlit stained glass with its vaguely animal-shaped cut-outs watched over the torrent of people. …A bit Eyes Wide Shut, no? The din of conversations weaved into the music’s solid wall of sound. It had been a while since I last spent a night at a spot like this.

“Come on,” Miyuki kept my hand in hers, “Masks are over here!” Her voice now almost at a shout, we made our way over to a large box with a beautifully written “MASKS!” on its side. It assuredly once filled to the brim now laid almost barren. Three masks remained. A caterpillar, a well-whiskered mouse, and a pink… something.

“Ehh…” Miyuki looked to the box and then to me, “There were more in here when Kenma and me got here…”

I stared into the void contemplating on which of my options would be the least bad. The box offered no answers.

The caterpillar… No, too similar to Miyuki’s. Also hideous.

The mouse… Clear to see why this wasn’t among the top picks… Maybe it’s a bit cute? If you don’t look at it too close

The pink… What even is this? An elephant? Perhaps this one should’ve stayed in its trunk.


“Well?” Miyuki asked me. She was looking out to the lounge, no doubt eager to get back to it.
“Uhh…” I couldn’t decide…
“Mouse it is!”

She snatched up the mouse by one of it’s impressively large whiskers and snapped it to my head.

“Well… It’s certainly catching, hahaha!”
“Thank you for chuu-chuusing it, sis. I think it’s quite cheesing.”
“Heheh, c’mon. Let’s go see if we can track Kenma down.”

Taking the couple steps down onto the main floor of the lounge, we merged with the crowd - disappearing among a sea of hidden faces and drunken paces.

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 Post subject: Re: The New Knights | The Osaka Foxes
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2023 10:04 pm 
Power Pro Legend
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Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:43 am
Posts: 6441
Location: Yes
Favorite Team: Red Sox
Console '07: Nintendo Wii
Console '08: Wii and DS
Favorite Japanese title: (PS3) Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyuu 2011
December 31, 2036
SKY Waikiki, Honolulu
11:52 PM


Masked faces occupied the bar’s 11 chairs and their spaces between. The bartenders - a shorter, balding man and a young woman - paced from coast to coaster, filling orders as they took more. Sweat poured from them and from the drinks onto the visibly sticky counter. The bar’s purple accent lighting gave glimpses of the faces of those who stood. A jester. A crescent moon. A panther.

One man stood in a familiar slouch.

Miyuki tapped his shoulder. The snout of a bear slowly turned our way, paw grasping twice at his drink before committing to shifting his attention.

“Hey, Yuk--” The bear faced me, his fraternal eyes betraying his ursine menace. “No way.” He loosened a finger from his glass and pointed at me, “Ryu??”

His smile climbed his red cheeks. “Lookin’ a bit ratty there.” He said with a hearty laugh
“Yeah, yeah…”
“Hey, keep those whiskers up, bro. Check it.”

Kenma pointed behind him to the menu written in a luminant white on the bar’s back wall.

Coconut Girl
French 75
Vesper


The names assuredly pithy, I looked on in ignorance. The letters meant nothing to me.

“Uh… Check what?” I asked.
Kenma’s vacant, inebriated stare and half smile didn’t leave his face. “Dri--The wall, check the wall out!”
“What about it?”
“Man, you really gotta work on that English…” Kenma shook his head

“It’s the drink list, Ryu.” Miyuki chimed in

“Yeah!” Kenma took a big swig of his beer “Ahhh… This Bikini Blonde… oooohweeee! I mean it’s no Koshihikari, but hey.”

Kenma wrapped his arm around my shoulder, “What you drinking? It’s freeeeee.”
“Wait, seriously?”
“Ohhhh yeah. The tickets Yuki secured got us an open bar til midnight. So you got,” he checked his watchless wrist, “like not much time leeeeft.”

I turned my attention to my much more present sister, “What’re you drinking Yuki?”
“You already know I’ve got my hands on the Coconut Girl.”
“Hahaha, Coconut Girl?”
“It’s their piña.” She said with a wink. She knew how weak I was to piña coloadas…
“Well shit, could you order me one too?” I checked my phone, “23:56… cutting it close.”

Miyuki gave me a thumbs up, commanded the attention of the balding bartender and placed her order with a point and a smile.

“Shit.” Kenma blinked a few times, “What time you got?” He asked me
“23:56… uh 7. 23:57”
“Yo man, we gotta hit the deck then. Yukiii!”

She raised a single finger - one minute to my return to piña paradise - and waved us off to the deck.

Kenma clicked his tongue. “Awright. You gotta see this view, man. It’s crazy.”

With the clock rapidly approaching midnight, we were far from the only ones trying to squeeze onto the deck.

The new year awaited us 19 stories in the sky.

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