Word spreads quickly in the UG when there’s a shake-up in the variables balancing its equation, and there had been few variables in the living (and dead) memory of the UG being shook up quite like the news that Joshua had put Sho Minamimoto in the vacant Conductor slot.
(Well, no shakeups short of violence and the UG (and all of existence) possibly ending, that is.)
And with promotions, there were other shifts in rank, and Kariya and Uzuki both found themselves called to the WildKat Cafe...and taken aside by Hanekoma to have the situation explained in full.
(The whole “Sho is now the Conductor” thing. The whole “Sho is actually...not human, and actually a Taboo Noise homonculus of sorts, and is a lot younger and a lot more inexperienced on Human Things than it would appear” situation. A note to them that when Sanae had pointed out there would need to be new Officers Sho had blurted out their names as candidates...and a bit of a plea from the barista to help out Sho where they could.)
Kariya noticeably paled at first...and then realized that, well, this was Sho they’re talking about here, and it likely meant that being an Officer would be immediately more interesting than under Kitaniji’s management...plus, well, he liked the kid. Wanted him to do well. Found himself actually agreeing to help out where he could...
Uzuki’s reaction (after squeeing over her own promotion), on the other hand, was...probably not what Sanae would have expected.
After a literal happy dance...Uzuki Yashiro's mood suddenly pulled a complete U-turn.
“...oh my god...” the goth with the pink hair commented, face going from glee to what looked like an expression of borderline horror.
“Is...there a problem?” Sanae Hanekoma raised an eyebrow.
“His style. His clothes. Oh god…He...he can’t do meetings looking like he just came out of a metal concert!”
Kariya stared. “Uzuki... I dress like this all the time. ”
Uzuki snapped back, “Yes, Kariya, and YOU’RE NOT THE CONDUCTOR! Sho has to look PROFESSIONAL! ”
And right at that moment, Sho walked into the cafe, with the timing of Satan himself. Speak of the Conductor, and he’ll appear.
“Hah...Never knew the Pad was that large of a set. The waterbed’s zetta sexy too…”
And Sho promptly found a rabid Uzuki pouncing on him. “MINAMIMOTO! WHAT CLOTHES DO YOU HAVE?”
“Uh...my set is right here...if you think I’m wearing a snakeprint leisure suit you’re zetta outta your vector…”
“DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING OTHER THAN…THAT?" Uzuki gestured towards Sho's attire. "I mean...how long have you HAD those clothes?"
Kariya started to worry on his bean paste lollipop just a little harder. He knew this particular mood.
Oh, Sho...you're in for the ride of your life, kid...
“I’ve...zetta had these from my point of origin, as far as I can calculate…” Sho looked up at the goth, mildly confused (and amused) on why she was panicking about his threads of all things.
Typhoon Uzuki’s wrath shifted suddenly to Hanekoma while still gripping a vaguely amused-looking Sho by the lapels.
“YOU MEAN TO TELL ME HE HAS NO OTHER CLOTHES?”
Hanekoma stared down Uzuki, as if somehow the goth Reaper had insulted him and his entire extended family. (Which she had , if accidentally.)
“ Miss Yashiro, I’ll have you know that Sho’s threads are fine Gatito fashion…”
“THAT IS COMPLETELY INAPPROPRIATE FOR A PROFESSIONAL WORK ENVIRONMENT!”
Uzuki promptly grabbed Sho by the hand and bodily dragged the newly minted Conductor out of the WildKat Cafe. “Come, Mr. Minamimoto. We are going shopping. "
Kariya looked worriedly at the two as Uzuki started marching down Cat Street with a rather shocked Grim Heaper in tow, whilst Hanekoma looked borderline terrified. Frankly, he’d NEVER seen Uzuki quite like this.
“He...he has no idea what he’s in for, does he?” the barista commented with no small amount trepidation.
“No. No, he does not. Mr. H...if you believe in a god or gods, pray for his soul.”
Koki Kariya--having been a partner in Uzuki’s shopping expeditions-very much did know what poor Sho was in for.
During the next few hours, Sho Minamimoto received much, much more of an education than he ever bargained for on a veritably fractal level.
The first store they visited on their tour was the Jupiter of the Monkey outlet on Cat Street, and that and one of the Mus Rattus were the briefest of visits (zetta thanks for short proofs, as Sho noted to himself later)--although he definitely saw where the kid with the headphones seemed to do most of his shopping, though the aesthetic didn’t...fit in his particular set, for want of a better term.
(Frankly, Sho was rather astounded there were so many things at all in the shop, even if the majority was something he’d never wear in a decillion years.)
His next stop was in Cadoi, and approximately 1.41 hours into the trip, Sho was wondering exactly what god or gods he’d pissed off.
(And promptly reminded himself: I...zetta tried to remove the Composer from this continuum. And said Composer factored me to Conductor. I still don’t get the calculation he’s going for…)
For the first stop at Cadoi, they’d hit the Natural Puppy, where Uzuki insisted on having Sho try on multiple sweaters--noting this is for winter wear, and besides, you might look cute.
The Grim Heaper, for his part...came to the conclusion very, very early that he despised Natural Puppy.
Not so much the aesthetic, though honestly it wasn’t him (though if he had to have a set of plain, non-ripped jeans, the jeans were nice)...but Euler’s ghost , did wool have to itch so much?
By the endpoint of this particular stop (and a set of jeans and--despite his protests--a pair of sweaters later) Sho had calculated some new variables:
- He was starting to pick up on a new algebra of people and their clothing and where they shopped somehow being a bit of an expression of themselves.
- Uzuki Yashiro either apparently had a second career, or got granted a personal credit card by someone to take him shopping.
(At least that’s all he could figure on the second. He literally barely had signed the “official” paperwork making him Conductor, and giving Kariya and Uzuki promotions; he didn’t even KNOW Uzuki’s actual last name was “Yashiro” until yesterday, when he’d called them into the Pad.)
And there was a third factor he would become very, very familiar with as a function of time:
- Uzuki Yashiro was Very Determined and Very Frightening when shopping.
3.141 (3.14159265358979323846264338327… Sho muttered to himself, reciting digits of pi like Catholics would recite the Rosary or Buddhists the Heart Sutra, as a silent prayer) hours into the trip, Sho was definitely convinced he was in fact being Punished for his sins.
He’d been dragged to the Pegaso in the Shibu Department Store, measured, fitted, measured, asked questions he had no idea how to answer on whether he “dresses left” or “dresses right” (and nearly dissolved into a mass of Taboo Noise right then and there when the alterations tailor explained what was meant by “dressing”), touched, measured again, touched again, and eventually having a dim awareness that this torture had ended and Uzuki was paying the cashier for formal suits that wouldn’t even be ready for another week...after which he was informed he would be going through another iteration of this when the suits had been altered to make sure everything fit well.
(Why, for the love of Pythagoras, was this confabulation of a basic function necessary? Sho asked Uzuki later. Uzuki reminded Sho of the existence of the snakeprint leisure suits. Knowing of Megs’ wardrobe choices...well and truly terminated that line of questioning.)
He’d been dragged to the Pavo Real, and whilst the bracelets had weight...they were, for want of a term, loud ; the perfume vendor nearby was worse.
That said...as he was being led down Dogenzaka, it was becoming more obvious to Sho just where people got their aesthetic from--and how it matched their personality a bit.
4.669 hours in, and Sho was no longer quite reciting pi to himself as a madness-mantra and stim, because he’d actually discovered some things that were zetta interesting even if all the clothes shopping and fitting and such was zetta annoying .
Apparently Megs really had liked Hip Snake in life (who knew there was a store straight out of 1973?), the Composer liked Dragon Couture a lot (and honestly Sho could see some of the flowier things...when he was alone. Definitely not in public…) and the kids that would mill around the 104 seemed to be into D+B and the businessfolk into...well...Mus Rattus on up for the salarymen, though the richer ones had gotten into Pegaso ( poor sons of digits , Sho thought to himself).
Now, the Wild Boar, THAT had appealed--at least some of the jewelry, some of the darker skater-punk stuff...and he could definitely see where Beat and old Ram-Crotch had done their shopping.
Sho suddenly had a happy realization in that--for the first time--he grokked that personal fashion and clothing style was a bit of a decryption key to personality, a significant figure of the soul. He chewed on this new piece of knowledge, not unlike Kariya worried on his lollies he kept on him…
And that new discovery of fashion as a tool of reverse engineering people almost immediately was set aside as he was bodily pulled into the Lapin Angelique.
And Sho Minamimoto discovered just what an ungodly, unholy terror Uzuki Yashiro could in fact be in a gothic lolita store with a card with a high credit limit.
This, too, was an education...though admittedly of a more traumatizing sort.
Approximately tau hours after the start of this expedition, Sho had been bedecked and dressed in more clothing (and has had more clothing purchased for him) than he knew existed , and he was now firmly convinced of a number of things:
- If he is to have meetings at all these will be in a considerably less formal manner.
- Clothes shopping is Hell. In fact, clothes shopping is a number of infinite sets of distinct types of Hell only expressible in terms of aleph numbers (denoting, among other things: the set of Clothes Shopping Hell in general, the set of Clothes Shopping Hell for particular stores, and the set of Clothes Shopping Hell involving the scratchy feel of Natural Puppy wool sweaters in particular).
- If being Conductor involves this much clothes shopping on a regular basis, Sho has a new appreciation on why Megs kept a very well-stocked bar in the Pad.
And so the two walked back down from A-East, down back towards Dogenzaka...until Uzuki noticed Sho was no longer following her.
Nothing. Not even the low-key ranting on how shopping was garbage.
Uzuki traced back her steps...to find Sho Minamimoto...the Grim Heaper, Pi-Face, Zetta-sama...sitting at a bench in front of the Stride and looking very, very intently through the door.
Watching a bunch of kids play Tin Pin , of all things.
Uzuki tried to get his attention. “Sho?”
Sho was not moving. He was just fine where he was. Watching. Enraptured. The outside world might as well have not existed.
Uzuki had never seen Sho be that focused on anything ...and had never seen him be that quiet.
“... Sho? Hello? Earth to Minamimoto, are you there?”
And finally, as the kid with wild hair and wild eyes won his game, that was JUST enough to snap Sho out of his silence.
He turned to the pink-haired goth with a huge grin on his face. ”Man, that was zetta awesome to see, didn’t even calculate we’d see Shooter Dan in a tourney…”
Sho then saw Uzuki staring at him like he had fifenfrogs crawling out his ears.
And immediately turned as red as his du-rag he would wear under his hat.
“...You’re into Tin Pin ?” Uzuki blinked. Still...not comprehending. This was a kid’s game, and yet Sho--her boss --actually seemed to be legitimately excited over this.
“What’s it to you, hectopascal?” Sho blushes, but also smiles a bit. “I...I just think it looks zetta fun, you know? Officers were a special set, and that diagram didn’t overlap, so I couldn’t really explore this variable set before...but…”
Sho’s face was now not quite so red...and he gave a very mischievous grin at the thought of one of his problems he threw at the Players during his final week as a Game Master.
“Well...so my final seven-day iteration...I like to keep a chaotic function, and I see on the time-line there’s the tourney at Molco. My vector didn’t overlap, my coordinates couldn’t overlap...I had other stuff to factor at the time…” For a second, Sho looked a bit nervous despite the smile.
He thought to himself, Uzuki...knows what I am. I haven’t calculated whether she knows about that illegal function. Best not to discuss it; best to zero out the thought altogether. Replace with more positive variables.
More positive variables like...well...one of the last problem sets he gave the yoctograms to solve.
And almost as quickly as the nervous look came, it disappeared, and was replaced with genuine mirth.
“But even if I couldn’t factor into the game, I could zetta insert my own variable set! So..the Players got a practical exam in calculating vectors. At the tourney. That was factoring epic…”
Sho actually started laughing at the memory.
Uzuki blinked. “You...sent a mission for people to play Tin Pin? ”
“Zetta duh! They’re thinking ‘what the factor,’ and I’m calculating my desired solution of beating Shooter Dan!” And with this, Sho was doubled over laughing like mad, as if he’d just heard the funniest joke in the world.
Uzuki was just...silent. Oh sweet Lucifer, Minamimoto just admitted to me he did a mission to have Players participate in a Tin Pin tournament so he could vicariously beat a ten-year-old kid . The new Conductor and my boss is mentally ten years old and a mathematical savant. Please help.
A full two minutes later, Sho finally caught his breath--he’d been apparently completely oblivious to Uzuki’s minor kernel panic. “Besides, seeing the phones kid and the Fractal Bastard playing was zetta awesome and zetta hilarious and that was one of my more elegant calculations…”
Uzuki finally broke down laughing herself at the mental image of Neku and Joshua being forced to play Tin Pin in what had to be seen as one of the most bizarre--one of the most typically Minamimoto --missions ever.
When they both finally could stop laughing long enough, Uzuki asked Sho if he wanted to pick up a little something, and his face practically lit up like the Scramble at night.
“You’d...do that? Aww...zetta shucks…”
He really is a kid at heart , Uzuki thought. This...this explains so much...
And after they picked up a Slammer and some pins and a fidget spinner Sho had also seen and been fascinated with, Uzuki could feel some of her own Big Sister instincts kicking in.
Minamimoto might be a little shit, but anyone who messes with him is going through me first.
Over the next few days, Natural Puppy quietly discontinued a particular line of woolen sweaters.
Over the next few days, Tin Pin seemed to be getting a bit of a revival of interest, though nobody could really put their finger on just why.
And Wild Boar and Gatito did seem to be picking up in popularity, and Ramen Don was getting more popular (even considering the rave review in the “F Everything” blog).
And snakeprint had most definitely gone out of fashion, as had the minor disco revival.
The chords that made up Shibuya, the instruments, were the same...but the mix was starting to change, ever so subtly.
Every Conductor of an orchestra has a different approach to an arrangement, and it’s no different here--even if the new Conductor is still learning how to read the music and is playing by ear for now.