The Man Named Kawashima Takumi (Part 1).
Today I, Kobayashi Kozue, will be going through the most difficult trial I’ve ever faced. I will be meeting the man I’ve admired for the past year. The man, who changed the entire world by his own two hands. The man, who overcame an overwhelming number of odds and accomplished what his predecessors could never hope to. His face, voice, name, personality, age, nothing which could indicate his true identity is known, but each active member of society has heard of him.
The only appearances he makes in public are through his video-call speeches where only his altered voice is broadcasted. The only way we know that the CEO of The Oracle is a man and is one single person is because of the consistencies in his speech pattern and highly influencing words. It’s like he’s whispering into our ear while sitting far, far away. His words, like a hypnotic stimuli, penetrate our soul and mind. The power behind the man who stands at the top of the seventh-largest company in the world could be felt through his words alone, and his actions, those are way too impeccable for someone like me to talk about.
Having said all that, today, I am going to meet the very same person whose identity is a global-level secret. I don’t know how it will go. I don’t know what kind of a person he’ll be. I don’t know what I should be prepared for. I wonder what his face will be like. I wonder if he’s even real.
I had these kinds of thoughts while waiting for the rest of the recruits to arrive. There were only three of us who’ll be meeting the boss today. I don’t know the reason, but out of the two-hundred recruits in our department, only the three of us have been invited to this meeting. I was in the restaurant where we would be meeting the boss in one hour. I knew that it was effectively impossible for the boss to make it on time because I heard his schedule from his secretary when she called this morning. Nevertheless, the three of us decided to meet one hour before the meeting time because we wanted to quell our restlessness by being together.
I was sitting at one of the tables in one of the restaurants owned by The Oracle. This restaurant, in particular, has a two Michelin star rating and is one of the best restaurants around. There are very few restaurants in Japan boasting a three-star Michelin rating, and most of them are restaurants owned by The Oracle. Even on a global scale, the sheer number of impeccable accommodation and dining facilities owned by The Oracle is just amusing, and it’s not even a culinary-oriented company.
The restaurant itself is very huge in terms of area and is fully air-conditioned. The menu is mostly made up of Japanese-style dishes with foreign twists and is famous for its alien yet familiar flavor. There are many paintings on the wall and the mood is quite lively despite half the place being painted in red. While I was admiring the restaurant and all its beauty, a man arrived and settled into the chair beside me.
“Yo, Kobayashi-kun, sorry for the wait!”
This man was another one of the recruits who was invited to this dinner, Tadano Izumi. He was a fairly large fellow who seemed more at home in a wrestling ring than in an office, needless to say, it was just my personal opinion. Tadano-kun was the same age as me, and we got along surprisingly well considering the difference in our personalities. Tadano-kun is a fair man with a build that exceeded 190 centimeters. His short hair compiled with his handsomely trimmed facial hair gave him a sort of militant charisma.
“It’s fine Tadano-kun, we are an hour early, five minutes don’t amount to much.”
He gestured the waiter to come over with his hands and then proceeded to reply to me.
“You may be right, however, that doesn’t mean that the nervousness is any less.”
“That’s true, my legs are shaking uncontrollably.”
“I can relate, I’ve been sweating bullets since morning.”
That’s just because of the heat, Tadano-kun.
While we were engrossed in idle conversation, our shoulders were tapped by someone from behind.
“Yo boys. Sorry I am late. I just couldn’t get my clothes to look good on me, so I had to call my girlfriend over to fix me up.”
That has to be the truth considering his current appearance. Normally, he’s quite haggard and worn down, but as he is now, he’s straight-up sparkling.
“Hey, no worries. By the way, Anzai, your girlfriend is a fashion stylist, right?”
Anzai ordered himself a coffee and answered Tadano-kun’s question in a proud tone.
“Yeah. She’s got some crazy skills, y’ know? She recently got an offer to work in New York, but she refused because she wanted to be with me. She’s the best!”
Okazaki Anzai, an averagely built man with a sweet face, is two years older than Tadano-kun and myself. He’s 25, while both of us are 23. Normally, we should address him more formally and respectfully, but he was startlingly adamant about us being casual, so we reluctantly agreed.
““You don’t deserve her.””
Good job, Tadano-kun. I let show a thumbs-up sign, to which Tadano-kun chuckled and displayed an amused look.
“Rude! You guys are so mean! Sigh~ It doesn’t matter. Tell me, how you guys feeling?”
“I am so freaked out that I want to run away from here as fast as I can.”
Tadano-kun said so and then tightened his grip. His bulging muscles could be seen spilling out of the sleeve of the white shirt he was wearing. All of our coats were kept aside due to the heat so that we won’t smell like pigs when he arrives, but it looks like Tadano-kun is better off staying like this and not putting on his coat when the time comes.
“I am quite nervous as well. However, my excitement overwhelms my nervousness by quite a large margin.”
“Hoh~ I can perfectly understand what both of you feel. I am in the same boat as well.”
The three of us then laughed and talked without a care in the world. And while doing so, quite a lot of time passed by, and our tension kept rising as the minute hand moved in a perfect circle numerous times, completely unaffected by our internal struggle.
Finally, at around 8 PM, the door to the restaurant opened and three people came through it. With our positions, we were unable to see who they were, but they were headed in our direction. We looked at each other restlessly and corrected our clothes and posture. We had the waiter clear our table in haste and stood up to welcome the people we’ve been waiting for the last two hours.
However, our expectations of encountering a man in his forties were brutally betrayed as the only people who appeared before us were three women. Three women, each one a dazzling and spectacular beauty in their own right. They seemed so different from each other just by judging from the appearance that it was scary. Beholding their beauty, all of us were shocked to the point where we couldn’t utter even a single word of reception.
Finally, the one who spoke first was the most mature one of us all, Anzai.
“T-Thank y-you for finding the time in your busy schedule to have a personal meeting with us.”
The one who said this was the woman who was dressed in a Kimono instead of a suit like each one of us and that includes the other two women with her. To be frank, what she said so casually was extremely rude and demanded an apology, but considering the difference in our positions, she was perfectly capable of saying such things without reservations.
“Uh~ I am sorry for her rudeness everybody. She is like that with everyone except him, so please be patient with her.”
The lady who resembled a typical secretary with a suit, glasses, and a noticeable-through-clothes erotic body said so and proceeded to put her hand on top of the former one’s head and made her lower her head in apology.
“N-No, it’s okay. You are our boss, after all, right?”
The one who was more confused than anyone else was the person whom we referred to as boss. She glanced at us with confused eyes and then proceeded to look the lady in glasses.
“Oh~ I see. Certainly, I see how I would mistake Akane for the CEO. However, wasn’t it publicly announced that the CEO is a man?”
What she said was true, however, we just couldn’t think otherwise considering the pressure and authority these three radiated.
“Akane is more like a pet~”
The one who made such an amusing comment was the third lady who hadn’t spoken a word since she arrived. She seemed kinda hard to read and enigmatic. Out of the three ladies, she seemed to be the only one who was effectively prone to all attempts to tell what she was thinking. Her wavy red hair swayed with the cool breeze generated by the air-conditioner and her face reminds me somewhat of my sister. It is cute.
The lady who’s name was Akane, lifted her fist but was stopped by a sound that followed her agitated yell.
Both of their heads were hit with a fist from the secretary.
They both calmed down after that and apologized to everyone present on the table. All of us took our seats, the one who initiated the conversation was the secretary lady.
“Sorry for the earlier unsightly display. Allow me to introduce ourselves to you. I am the person whom you all conversed with over the phone regarding this dinner, Tsukamoto Riku. This lady right here is Sawada Kyoko, and this is Akane.”
She pointed at the red-headed girl for the former, and at the kimono-wearing girl for the latter. Wait a minute, does she not have a family name?
“I know what you men must be thinking, but don’t worry, you can address her by her first name. Following some unfortunate circumstances, she was left with no name. Even her first name has been granted to her about two years ago.”
“Hey, Riku-san, don’t tell them.”
She said so indifferently and proceeded to glare at Tsukamoto-san quite fiercely.
“Okay, okay. Now then, shouldn’t you people introduce yourselves as well?”
After she said so, we gasped and introduced ourselves one by one. After all the introductions were dealt with, I asked a question that was probably looming over the minds of Tadano-kun and Anzai as well.
“I believe we were summoned here to have a meeting with the CEO of our company, however, as you mentioned before, all three of you are his secretaries, so where is he?”
“Oh, it’s been 8.30 already, he should be here any minute now, he told us to go forward as he had to take care of some unfinished business.”
This one statement increased my respect for him even further. I expected him to be pooped after spending the whole day running around and addressing such important people.
“Can you tell us more about him?”
My voice was undoubtedly tinged with a distinguishable tone of anticipation and admiration. The three of them looked and me and then towards each other.
“Another super-fan, huh?”
“Just look at his sparkling eyes.”
I immediately regretted my words after witnessing the clear sadistic reaction from the ladies.
“You won’t be disappointed, Kobayashi-san. He exceeds the image you have of him by leaps and bounds, I can guarantee that.”
“Is that so… Sawada-san?”
“I hate you Kyoko, but you are right.”
Yeah, Akane-san seems to hate Sawada-san, this undeniable fact has been displayed quite a few times during this thirty-minute discussion.
I am even more excited and nervous to meet him now after hearing such high praise from people who work with him daily.
Right then, the door of the restaurant opened, and so did the emotionless expression of the three ladies.
They seemed happy and could be seen smiling from ear-to-ear. To be frank, this is the most beautiful scene I’ve ever seen. Their joyous faces and genuine smile, put that together with their incomparable beauty and you get a picturesque scene.
The three of us were trembling, my legs went soft and so did theirs. Nevertheless, we mustered up all our strength and got up to face the man we all admire and desire to meet. However, our expectations of encountering a man in his prime were betrayed yet again when a young man wearing a shirt, tie and black pants came into view. His every step had a certain power and authority behind them. His expression, that of fatigue and exhaustion had a certain charisma of its own. His shirt was covered in sweat in several places, however, one could say that it was intentional as his body, which wouldn’t lose to a professional athlete, was visible for everyone to see. His muscular forearms reflected light off the sweat, and so did his neck. His brown hair was brushed back, probably by his own hands as they weren’t arranged formally.
All of our mouths went agape and refused to close. In contrast, the ladies took swift actions and received him with a certain amount of visible respect and affection. Tsukamoto-san whispered something in his ears while Akane-san wiped the sweat off his forehead and arms with the towel which she probably carried in her purse. Sawada-san fixed his tie and hair and then proceeded to whisper something in his other ear. After about 45 seconds, he managed to calm the girls down and approached the table.
We couldn’t react, the flowers which were in my hands remained in their place. All the others were in the same situation as well, it was clear that they shared my sentiments. We were sitting on an eight-chair table, with four on either side. The three ladies took one seat each and indifferently settled on the while leaving the boy standing. The chair which was empty on the girls’ side was between Akane-san and Tsukamoto-san. It seems as though Sawada-san reluctantly had to take a seat on the edge of the table past that of Tsukamoto-san’s.
“So… aren’t you gonna give me those flowers?”
The first statement that the boy said aloud was one filled with confidence and strength. His face portrayed innocence, but his eyes were the complete opposite. His eyes, sharp beyond that of an eagle’s, surveyed us like prey. He looked at the three of us, who were probably shy of a decade older than him, with eyes fit for a superior.
“T-These are for the CEO.”
The one who said this weak statement was Tadano-kun. His eyes were wide and his hands trembling. Even so, he managed to string this sentence together, to which, the boy just pulled his pants up and took his seat with a slight sound.
“Kawashima Takumi. CEO of The Oracle, and your boss…”
Our eyes widened further, we just couldn’t believe what he uttered so nonchalantly. It was incomprehensible, no, it was quite obvious considering his attitude, however, his age created contradictions, severe ones at that.
“…If the fact that a 16-year-old high school freshman is your boss, offends you in any way, you guys are free to leave the company. You have 10 minutes, either sit down, eat a good meal and socialize with your superiors, or, write a resignation letter and walk off. I don’t have all night. My sister is waiting for my return.”
“Hey Takumi, isn’t that too lenient. Didn’t you fire that recruit from the technical department because he couldn’t accept you, and he was stubborn about not leaving the company on his own volition”
“Yeah, apparently that guy was a national talent. Seems like I have to hold off on firing without any reason.”
“He insulted you though~ Akane was going to murder him, y’ know.”
“… Kyoko, order something light for me, that talk took a lot out of me. Riku-san, send over those 10 million to the technical division, and Akane, please don’t kill anyone.”
“Takumi-sama, t-that’s so rude.”
“Now then boys… Will you sit, or will you walk off?”
At this point, none of us had any doubt concerning his identity. He is our boss, but it still wasn’t an easy pill to swallow. I moved my hands and gave the bouquet to the boy who had an understanding expression on his face. The boy gestured us to sit down, and the two followed. The only one left standing was me.
“What is it?”
I gulped and asked him what was on my mind.
“Sir, sorry if I am prying too much, but can you tell me which high school do you attend?”
“It’s Haru High School.”
My eyes widened, but this time, it was for a different reason. I recalled the entire conversation I had with my sister this morning.
“Given your reaction, I believe you’ve heard of me from your sister? Yeah, I am that guy. Now, do tell me… What all has she told you?”
The words were there, but my voice wouldn’t come out.
“S-She t-told me this morning that y-your parents were d-dead and y-you are working part-time to support your sister… She also said that she was in lo-”
I realized that it was something that shouldn’t have been conveyed from my mouth. I instantly regretted my words. When my sister told me that she was able to find a person whom she ‘loved’ and not just ‘liked’, I was honestly happy for her. My sister, being as beautiful as she is, has been under constant bombardment from men since she was in elementary school. My sister is a very good judge of character, and if she judged a guy to be worthy of her love, then I would accept him with all my heart. And after this development, my thoughts hadn’t caught up.
“Love with me… Correct?”
He seemed unaffected by this, it seemed like he certainly was disturbed by something, but it wasn’t the fact that my one and only sister is in love with him. I sat down and waited for him to say something, which he did after a bit of consideration.
“You should advise your sister to stay clear of isolated corridors during breaks. And what she told you is fundamentally correct. Both my parents are dead, and I work to support my sister and myself. However, now you know what that work is.”
The words remained stuck deep within my throat. All three of us were dumbfounded at this sudden revelation. This boy, no, this man is our new boss and CEO of The Oracle.
“Well, whatever. Now, shall we begin our ‘meeting’?”
Immediately after reaching our restaurant in Shibuya, I gave orders to the three ladies.
“All of you, I have a matter to attend to, it’ll take about 25-30 minutes. Keep them busy. Don’t reveal much about me, also, keep the core agenda to yourselves. We’ll begin the discussion when I come back, okay?”
They said so and then proceeded to exit the car and enter the restaurant. I gestured the car driver to wait for a while and took off in the polar opposite direction from the entrance gate of the restaurant. After about 1 minute of light jogging, I came across a ten-floor building that looked completely unsuspicious at a glance. Ignoring the fact that the people walking by were staring at my appearance, I took off in the direction of the staircase of the building while allocating all of my strength to my feet.
I managed to cover about ten floors worth of stairs in about two minutes and arrived in front of the terrace-leading-door. I knew what was waiting for me on the other side, so rather than opening the door with my hands, I kicked it with all my might.
A mighty sound reverberated in the now isolated staircase as the door was kicked down. I loosened my tie and waited for the expected bombardment to go off.
Suu~ Suu~ Suu~ Suu~ Suu~ Suu~
Suppressor, huh. Well, seems like it was an old-style six-bullet handgun. Even if it isn’t a six-bullet handgun and is a relatively new pistol with rounds left to fire, it should probably be fine.
After deciding my course of action, I threw the coat I was wearing through the gate and followed right behind it. Fortunately for me, no shots followed, and what came into view was a man wearing a white hoodie desperately loading bullets into his gun. I closed the distance between us in an instant and gripped his right wrist with my left.
His voice, strained in pain and despair, echoed in the dark. I glanced at the edge of the roof, there was a Blaser R93 Tactical at the ready. He was definitely as assassin hired by that German company I eradicated over the vacation.
“So… You’re the guy they sent to kill me, huh. Those cheap bastards couldn’t even afford a top-rated assassin, well, that would be my fault now wouldn’t it.”
“Agh! What even are you!? My bones, they’re being crushed~!”
I realized that his loud wailing could cause some consequences, so I released his hand and proceeded to punch him in the gut with my right fist. Of course, I held back as an all-out punch from me at the wrong spot could probably result in an instant death. A very peculiar sound originated from his stomach as he spouted blood from his mouth. He crouched down while grabbing his stomach and it took him a minute for him to calm down.
“Sorry about that… it’s just that… I can smell assassins from miles away.”
“W-What does that mean?”
He had calmed down a lot and had concluded that I wouldn’t kill him. So to probably buy time, he went along with the conversation.
“My parents, both of them were assassinated. They were brought to their knees and killed mercilessly by an assassin of the highest caliber. At that time, my thirteen-year-old self was stronger than him by a large margin and that is why I am alive. He was tasked with wiping out my whole family, however, an unexpected variable kicked in, and that was my battle prowess…”
At this point, even the assassin seemed interested.
“I was already thoroughly trained in Martial arts, karate, taekwondo, boxing, and many confidential military-exclusive hand-to-hand combat techniques of many nations. The assassin wasn’t able to touch me or my sister. The only reason why my parents died was because he knew how to kill. He slaughtered my parents while I wasn’t present, and when I was, he dealt the final blow. Fortunately, my stubborn sister decided she wanted to be with me rather than our parents, so she’s alive and unaware of all these circumstances…”
I took my eyes off him and stared into the distance.
“My father, the man who taught me everything I know, the man who made me everything I am today, said these final words to me, ‘Takumi, don’t hold back like I did.’.”
The assassin who had a white face with typical facial features seemed confused.
“My father and my mother were both geniuses and not those half-assed ones, they were true geniuses. My parents got married in their early twenties, and when my father inherited this organization from a friend, it was just a dead company with no scope of improvement. However, both my parents left their jobs which paid in many dozens of millions to raise this company, and they did…”
The assassin’s hand, which seemed to be headed in the direction of his pistol was brutally crushed under my feet.
“I was born a year after my sister, but it was clear who had superior genes between the two of us. I was a genius, but my father refused to teach me anything, he registered my name as a proxy and kept me at home. For the first seven years of my life, the only thing he taught me was how to truly ‘learn’. However, after I learned the most important lesson in life, my father used all that money he had saved up to teach me all the things I wanted to learn. By the time I was nine, I was already knowledgeable enough to clear the Tokyo University entrance exam with ease, I was well-versed in instruments, business, commerce, arts, and many other subjects. After that, I just kept broadening my area of expertise with the help of my father’s finances and learned cooking, styling, combat, robotics, machinery, etc. All while my sister happily led a normal life of an overachiever…”
The assassin seemed to have calmed down and was listening to my words with interest.
“By the time I was thirteen, my academic ability was superior to an Ivy League graduate, and my physical ability overwhelmed even the most skilled of fighters. However, after that day when my parents were killed, things changed. I was out for more than twenty hours a day. Doing all the company work, learning various things, and keeping tabs on my family. During that time, I mastered the art of long-ranged combat and assassination and then proceeded to master many weapons in all three combat ranges. I mastered it in about one year and after that, I sought out the assassin who killed my parents and killed him with my own two hands. ‘Revenge is sweet’, what a beautiful saying it is.”
The assassin started trembling and squirming, He tried to run away but was stopped by my foot.
I took out my phone and dialed a number.
“Yes, I need a clean-up crew at my location. The assassin is alive. I’ll immobilize him for now.”
I placed my phone back into my pocket.
“These two lines of conversation are getting way too typical for me…”
Saying so, I kicked the assassin in his stomach and left him unconscious for the crew to get them.
After that, I left for the restaurant where the recruits were waiting for me. After reaching, I did some light introductions and some light threatening. After all the introductions, the time for the real discussion was upon us.
“Well, whatever. Now, shall we begin our ‘meeting’?”