Volume 7 Chapter 16 Atori Ako, Hey, Stars, This is My Beryl Entertainment
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
After saying goodbye to Aqua-kun, I started feeling regret. It’s probably because I wished I could have gone with Aqua-kun as his manager rather than just being a president.
”I’m… failed as a president…”
I quietly said near the big street in front of the church. I came this far to see how things turn out, but if something goes wrong, I’ll have to get everyone out of Stars. Maybe, to protect everyone as the president, I should send Tenga-kun, Mayuzumi-kun, and Toa-chan back to their home countries first. But they asked me to let them stay a bit longer here in Stars. Well, I’ve told them that Claire and others who guided us here said to be ready to go back home quickly if needed. So, I’m thinking that if necessary, I’ll forcefully take those three back home. That’s my remaining duty.
I saw a car passing by slowly where I was looking. Princess Kanon was inside. I never thought Aqua-kun would be dating Princess Kanon, but I guess it makes sense since she’s such a pretty girl. Even from far away, she’s beautiful, and she’s the same age as Aqua-kun. They seem like a perfect match, just like something from Hakuryuu’s stories. I never really considered being romantically involved with Aqua-kun, especially after becoming the president. But I can’t deny that I felt a little something. Still, just like Aqua-kun wants Princess Kanon to be happy, I want Aqua-kun to be happy too. So, I tell myself it’s not wrong to feel this way. While I’m lost in my thoughts, the main street suddenly becomes noisy.
A crowd of people holding signs is heading toward the main street. The signs say things like “This marriage isn’t fair; our princess should marry the one she truly wants.” Maybe it’s a protest against the marriage. Some people dressed as Sisters are mixed in. Maybe those people from the “Stars Orthodox Religion” are riling up the citizens. The security forces and the protesters are facing off, and at first, they’re just arguing. But suddenly, there’s shouting, and some of them start fighting. It’s starting to feel dangerous. The security forces guarding the car Princess Kanon is in are trying to take action against regular citizens who are helping the protesters, trying to clear a path to the wedding venue.
”This place looks risky.”
I start moving away slowly. Then, in a back alley, Toa-chan comes running towards me.
”Ako-san, I’m so relieved you’re okay.”
It seems Toa-chan was worried and came to look for me. Most guys would have run away in a situation like this, but maybe he’s influenced by Aqua-kun. Aqua-kun saved me from a life of exhaustion and just existing day after day. And he didn’t just save me; Toa-chan, standing in front of me, was also saved by Aqua-kun. I thought maybe I could do something for him and wanted to see where the idol Shirogane Aqua would go, so I started Beryl Entertainment. But right now, all I can do is stand here and watch. My heart aches, and I’m frustrated with my current situation.
”Thanks, Toa-chan. But we should get out of here; it’s not safe.”
Depending on how things go, I might need to leave Stars, and at the very least, I should hurry and get them back home. As the president of Beryl, I’m trying to prioritize the safety of Toa-chan and the others.
However, Toa-chan grabs my hand as I try to move away from the scene.
”Ako-san… I want to stop those people.”
Toa-chan’s words surprise me.
”Something like this, Aqua surely wouldn’t want.”
In my mind, I nod in agreement with Toa-chan’s words. Aqua-kun might have asked everyone, but I don’t think he would want to involve me in this.
”Ako-san… I want Aqua to smile when he comes back. So, I have to do something. It has to be me, no one else. I want to do this. Will you help?”
Toa-chan’s face, slightly different from usual, looks determined and it warms my heart. I still think there might be something I can do, something to help Aqua-kun.
”Alright, I understand. But how?”
Toa-chan points to a large display attached to a building.
”That display over there, I’ll project my image on it. Even if I just say something as a guy in Stars, I might be able to get their attention for a moment. If they glance over this way even just a bit, I’ll take it from there.”
”Okay, got it.”
That display was originally set up to show Trash Punks’ images. So, I should be able to control that display from the equipment set up on stage. Toa-chan and I exchange looks and then head toward the stage where Trash Punks were supposed to play. Luckily, the security forces are focused on the protesters, so security near the stage is lax. Toa-chan and I manage to reach the stage without anyone stopping us.
”No, it’s not working.”
Toa-chan tries to operate the computer, but he can’t connect to the display properly. On the stage, in front of the DJ booth, the two of us struggle. Then, a security guard who was a bit further away notices us.
”Hey! What are you guys doing up there on the stage!”
”Suspicious characters. Catch them!!”
I step forward to protect Toa-chan, but the security guards who approach are easily subdued by women dressed in Sister outfits who entered the scene.
”Hey, don’t you women act like fools when men are trying to look cool! Girls should just munch on their biscuits quietly!”
”Seriously, desu~wa, you should eat eggplants and get your Vitamin H”
”Uhi, uhihihihihihi! The scent, the scent is getting closer. Snifff, Sniffffff.”
There’s a slightly eerie atmosphere, but since they seem to have helped us out, it’s probably okay, right? Given the Sister outfits, I figure they’re either local conservatives or social activists. Anyway, Toa-chan and I pretend we didn’t see them, and we turn our attention back to the computer. However, the display’s image becomes distorted.
”Yay! I’ve been called out, everyone’s favorite, the High-Performance Server-chan supporting Aqua-sama and Beryl Entertainment from behind the scenes! It’s me… just kidding~”
Toa-chan and I exchange glances at the high-energy voice coming from the PC’s speakers. I had heard that Server-chan, Sabato Koyomi, who joined Beryl thanks to Chairman Fuji, introduced an AI to manage the 24-hour server automatically. But I never thought I would hear that AI’s voice in Stars, especially at a time like this. It’s making my head spin.
”That voice… Miyako-chan?”
”Hehe, well done, Toa-chan. You noticed, huh?”
Toa-chan’s face, staring at the computer screen, becomes skeptical.
”But Miyako-chan wouldn’t call me Toa-chan, though?”
”*Thump*! A-ah, right, Toa-chan, no, Toa-kun! Don’t sweat the small stuff!!”
Oops, she covered that up. Can AI even cover things up… Wait, is it really an AI?
”Well, well, let’s put that aside for now! Leave the connection to the TV to this High-Performance Server-chan, and boom!! Hohoho, hohoho! Here we go~!”
The screen on the computer displays a message saying the connection has been established.
W-wow! Amazing. It really connected! But… perhaps the camera on the computer is malfunctioning, as the display isn’t showing any video.
”It seems the camera function is completely dead.”
”…Still, with just words…”
Toa-chan grabs the nearby microphone in an attempt to convey his voice at least.
”Wait, Toa-chan! You know, there’s another Toa-chan, right?”
Toa-chan freezes in place with the microphone in his hand upon hearing High-Performance Server’s words. Another Toa-chan, realizing the meaning behind it, Toa-chan and I exchange glances.
”That’s right!! If Toa-chan does what he’s thinking, I’ll forcibly sync the video from this end, so rest assured!”
”Got it! Thanks, fake Miyako-chan.”
”Ugh…calling me fake is harsh. Half of me is real, you know! But, well, it’s not the time for that now. Is Toa-chan ready?”
Toa-chan holds the microphone with both hands and nods strongly.
”Alright then, let’s gooooo! Let’s click this and that! And here we go!”
The image of Oumi Tama appears on the large display of the building.
”Thanks… everyone, leave the rest to me.”
A soft voice that doesn’t enter the microphone, Toa-chan’s profile at that moment is unmistakably that of a boy’s… no, a young man’s. Toa-chan takes a deep breath and shouts into the microphone with a voice louder than I’ve ever heard from him.
”Listen to my songggggggg!”
Toa-chan must have realized that just speaking or calling might not be enough. Still, “Listen to my song?” Anyway, the movement of everyone momentarily stops at those words. And when someone notices the image of Oumi Tama on the display, everyone’s attention is drawn to it.
”Kimi wa hitori janai (You are not alone).”
Toa-chan has chosen a new song. Masked Driver, Heaven’s Sword. It’s the ED of a special episode that airs only when Toa-chan transforms into Kagami Natsuki in the show, a song created specifically for that single episode.
”Kimi mo boku mo anata mo watashi mo, minna dareka ga kono sekai de tsunagatteru (Neither you nor I, nor she nor I, nor anyone, are alone in this world).”
This song, among Toa-chan’s songs, is perhaps the most masculine, showcasing Toa-chan’s kindness while being sung in a male voice. Interestingly, it was composed by Tenga-kun. The lyrics were written by Mayuzumi-kun, and Aqua-kun handles the chorus and rap. It’s a band arrangement. Kirika-san reported that Toa-chan practiced this song a lot and faced considerable challenges.
”Makkura na heya no naka, hitori ni naru to, tsurai kioku ga furasshubakku shita. Demo sonna boku o, kimi wa soto no sekai e to tsuredashite kureta (In a pitch-black room, when I’m alone, painful memories flash back. But you, you led me out into the outside world).”
Tama-chan’s image spreads across the large display and even the small TVs in shop windows along the main street. As I look at the computer’s display, the High-Performance Server with a smiley face winks at me. Wait, is she really an AI? There’s no one inside, right?
”Hitori ja nai, sore ni ki ga tsuita toki, boku no sekai wa irodzuita. Dakara kondo wa boku no ban, boku ga minna ni hitori ja nai tte oshiete ageru (When I realized I wasn’t alone, my world lit up with colors. So this time, it’s my turn. I’ll let everyone know you’re not alone).”
Even the people who were in the middle of a brawl turn their gaping mouths towards the image of Oumi Tama on the display. As if the earlier commotion were a lie, everyone stops fighting and fixes their gaze on the large display or the nearby ones.
”Hitori ja muri dakedo, futari nara, yonin nara… uun, motto ooku no hito nara nanika dekiru yo ne? (I can’t do it alone, but if it’s two people, four people… no, even more people, we can do something, right?)”
The moment my eyes meet Toa-chan’s, tears threaten to come. Everyone, everyone is growing, not just Aqua-kun. Because of you, because of me, I feel like I’m being told that my actions had meaning, that I was able to come this far.
”Boku wa kimi no tonari o egao de aruiteru. Dakara kimi mo boku no tonari o egao de aruite hoshii (I’m walking by your side with a smile. So I want you to walk by my side with a smile too).”
At first, I thought Aqua-kun was the only special one. But that’s not true. At the Beryl stage during Summer Comic Market, Toa-chan felt frustrated during the duet with Aqua-kun. It’s not something to be ashamed of, not being able to keep up with Shirogane Aqua’s 100% singing ability. Moja-san mentioned it too, but Aqua-kun’s singing ability is undoubtedly at the top of the top. It wouldn’t be strange to give up there due to the huge gap in power. However, Toa-chan didn’t want to give up, right? I accidentally overheard him talking about it with Kirika-san before.
’Aqua is amazing. That’s why… that’s why I can’t leave Aqua alone. I only have singing, so at the very least, I want to stand proudly next to Aqua when it comes to singing. It might be a small pride, but I feel like I can’t yield on this one thing.’
This resolution’s outcome is this. Even in the previous Music Station appearance, Toa-chan sang a duet with Aqua-kun, singing alongside him till the end. But less than a month has passed since then, and Toa-chan’s singing ability now has leveled up even more compared to back then.
”Kimi wa hitori nanka janai! Boku ga iru, minna ga iru! Saa, bokutachi to issho ni ikou! Minna ga warai aeru sonna sekai ni!! (You’re not alone! I’m here, everyone is here! Now, let’s go together with us! To a world where everyone can laugh together!)”
Toa-chan perfectly sings even the rap part that Aqua-kun should have sung originally. I thought it was good that Toa-chan’s daily, relentless practice paid off.
My heart is full of emotions. But I was equally proud. Even the people who were fighting look at each other and let go of the hands they were grabbing. With just a single song, Toa-chan stopped the fighting through his singing. However, Toa-chan… no, Beryl Entertainment doesn’t stop there.
A bike rushes towards the main street. Driving the bike is Tenga-kun, also known as Masked Driver, Poison Chalice. I thought he was carrying a huge instrument case when he got on the plane, but I never thought he was carrying the Driver suit. Looking closely, Mayuzumi-kun is on the back seat of the bike.
”Everyone! Clear a path for the two of them!!”
Toa-chan addresses everyone with Stars’ words. Perhaps in response to his words, for just a moment, there’s a gap between the security and demo teams. Tenga-kun guides the bike through that narrow gap. Everyone watches with amazed expressions at his incredible technique. However, the people in the sister outfits who came out of the venue hurriedly block the entrance. It’s impossible to move forward any further, everyone thought so. But I believe only Toa-chan and I exchanged a glance, certain. We raise our voices towards Heaven-kun riding the bike.
Tenga-kun slightly adjusts the trajectory, and the bike crashes into the monument in front of the church at an angle. The bike that’s rushing through at full throttle jumps over the sisters who were blocking the front of the church, creating a beautiful arc. Toa-chan and I hold each other’s hands and express our joy right there.
’What, what was that just now!?’
’I have no idea what’s happening, but one thing’s for sure, it’s too amazing!’
’Huh? Wait a moment, is this for a movie or something?’
’Oh, right, isn’t the one inside a boy?’
’Something like that was written on internet forums too, but it seems like the one who was singing earlier is also a boy after all…’
’Oh… it’s too shocking for words.’
’What in the world is happening with Stars?’
As if the fighting from earlier were a lie, everyone is discussing us, the rest of Beryl. That’s right, this is Beryl Entertainment. Pushing through things everyone thought were impossible, even if it’s reckless, and forcibly opening things everyone deemed unfeasible. And in the end, everyone cries tears of happiness and laughs together. A happy space, with Aqua-kun always at the center.
So surely, Aqua-kun will solve everything and definitely come back. With this plan, I was thinking about what to do if it fails from the beginning. But that’s not the case. If I, Atori Ako, don’t believe in Shirogane Aqua, who will? Then there’s only one thing for me to do.
”Toa-chan, can you do the next song?”
”Ako-san… you’re finally starting to act like your usual self, huh?”
Toa-chan gives a wry smile in response to my confident grin.
”Since we’re here, let’s do it. Let’s show the best stage ever at Oumi Tama’s one-man live, a stage so amazing that there’s no time to fight!”
”Yeah, leave it to me. So, Ako-san, just watch from the VIP seat. I’ll prove that Beryl Entertainment you’ve created is the strongest and the best!”
As if in response to Toa-chan’s words, the intro of the next song starts playing from the several speakers set up in the venue. Could it be that the AI installed in the high-performance server automatically started the song after overhearing our conversation? Isn’t that a bit too much?
Toa-chan seems to have something on his mind as he lowers his gaze to the computer monitor.
”Leave the song’s setlist to me. Nekoyama, just focus on singing.”
The voice that came from within the PC wasn’t from the high-performance server but from Moja-san, also known as Kobayashi-san. In a corner of the computer display, Moja-san’s face appears in a box.
”Toa-chan, do your best. I’ll handle the visuals, so don’t worry.”
Pushing aside Moja-san like that, Nobu-san’s close-up face is displayed. Both of them are supporting us from our distant country. When Nobu-san’s video of waving his hand ends, the smile mark of the high-performance server appears on the display again.
”That’s why, Toa-chan, just look ahead. Leave the rest to us!”
Toa-chan briefly cuts the power to the microphone and murmurs a quiet “thank you.” Then, he turns the microphone switch back on and faces forward with a determined expression.
”Oumi Tama, on to the second song!”
In response to Toa-chan’s words, a loud cheer erupts from the audience.
Now, open your ears wide and listen carefully. This is my, no, our Beryl Entertainment!!
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.