Chapter 1: Close Encounter of the Third Kind
Asaba Naoyuki’s summer of UFOs began after school on June 24th, dating back 2 months from now.
In Sonohara Middle School, class 3-2, there existed a rather high spec’d man named Suizenji Kunihiro. He was #12 on the class attendance list, 175cm1 tall even though he was only 15 years old, placed in the 81st percentile for the National Mock Examinations, ran an 11 second 100-meter dash, and had a pretty decent looking face. However, Asaba had always felt that this man’s way of utilizing his energy was off ever since his he was born. In any case, this was a man who, on his career path questionnaire, seriously wrote “CIA” as his number one ambition.
In addition to being in class 3-2, #12 on the attendance list, 175cm, 81st percentile, and capable of an 11 second 100-meter dash, Suizenji Kunihiro was also the self-styled President / Editor-in-Chief of the Sonohara Middle School Newspaper Club, reason for “self-styled” being that the Newspaper Club was not officially recognized as a club by the school. The members had always been only third year student Suizenji and second year student Asaba, but Sudou Akiho, who had entered into the same class with Asaba last spring, came barging in for some reason, saying, “Maybe I’ll join too.”
With that, there were three club members. According to school regulations, if you have three members in a club, you can apply for official club status, which if successful will land you a clubroom and club funds. That’s why Akiho was always pestering them to apply, but the all-important Suizenji had absolutely no intention of doing so. He even had an amazing reason for that: “In order to protect our journalistic integrity and autonomy, we must maintain a careful distance from the system.” To which Akiho would reply, “That’s so stupid.”
But Asaba had a feeling that even if Suizenji were to apply, the club wouldn’t be recognized by the school anyway. It was pretty obvious from the content of the newspaper. In Sonohara Middle School, even if there were people who were unaware that Suizenji Kunihiro could run an 11 second 100-meter dash, there wasn’t a single person who wasn’t aware of the fact that Suizenji Kunihiro was a fan of the supernatural. Furthermore, to Suizenji, the almighty CIA was the only means of revealing the truth behind supernatural phenomena. The reason why Suizenji aspired to join the CIA seemed to be, according to Suizenji himself, “to become a super prodigious covert operative and do things like participate in secret operations, and to get to a position where I can read secret documents. Then everything that I’ve ever wanted to know will probably be revealed.” That “everything that I’ve ever wanted to know” generally changed depending on the season.
For example, the “Suizenji Theme” for last winter was, “Do telekinetic powers truly exist?” At that time, Suizenji (and Asaba) took over the broadcasting room during lunch break, performed a telepathy experiment on all of the students in the school, and got told-off by the teacher.
And when spring came around, the “Suizenji Theme” changed to, “Do ghosts truly exist?” At that time, Suizenji (and Asaba) snuck into the girls’ bathroom at the Teito line’s Ichikawadaimon station, which was rumored to have ghost appearances, in the middle of the night to collect data, but they had the police called on them, and got told-off by the teacher.
In other words, that was the type of newspaper this was, with this kind of man as its Editor-in-Chief. Even its name, just up until a little while ago, was, “The Solar System Radio Wave Newspaper.”
However, after Akiho joined, things changed just a little. Even though articles related to “Suizenji Themes” still took up about 70% of the newspaper, the “Serious Articles” that Akiho was in charge of were also steadily expanding into that territory. Just recently, Akiho made a bold demand during an Editors Meeting, saying, “We need to change the name of the newspaper.” At the end of a heated verbal argument that lasted for five hours, Asaba’s mediation approach finally bore fruit, and the argument tentatively ended with a compromise between the two of them that barely balanced on the edge of a cliff, agreeing to the name, “The Sonohara Radio Wave Newspaper.” When Asaba asked what he thought of the new newspaper title, Nishikubo, who sat next to him, said, “With ‘Solar System,’ the title seemed too epic and everyone laughed at it, but now with ‘Sonohara,’ it feels like the ‘radio waves’ are a lot closer and it feels pretty cool.”
With that being said, Suizenji Kunihiro spent the day going on a rampage, using an empty room in the clubroom building as his headquarters. Once a month, the Sonohara Radio Wave Newspaper would repeatedly wage a guerilla bulletin board war, putting up cheap-looking, but profoundly deep content, newspapers all over the bulletin boards throughout the school.
1. 175cm = 5’9”