It was a refreshing summer day.
It may have been wrong to express it in such a simple and abstract way, but that was the first thing that came to mind when Misaka Mikoto looked up at the blue sky. She felt the intense rays of the sun roasting her skin, the low-humidity wind blowing at her face, and the soft sand under her feet through her sandals. The wind brought her the sound of crashing waves and the smell of salt.
She was on a beach.
She was on a California beach.
Nnn… After the plane, the linear motor train, and all the other things I rode on, this sure does feel liberating.
Mikoto lifted her arms up to stretch her back. She was wearing a black racing swimsuit with curving white lines on it. The swimsuit gave a killer whale-like impression. The back of the swimsuit was open, and it was held in place by an "H"-shaped band. It was the designated swimsuit for Tokiwadai Middle School’s power measurement tests. The swimsuit had so much cutting-edge technology packed into it that even an Olympic swimmer would be envious, but Mikoto did not particularly like it. It was so effective that she sometimes felt like she wasn't wearing anything at all.
Ahh, dammit. I brought it because this is a school-related event. I didn’t know you were free to choose your swimsuit! I should have actually read the pamphlet…
Then the lack of feeling made her suddenly wonder if she was wearing it at all, and she shuddered in the same way she had countless times that day. She pulled on the chest portion of the suit and felt along the butt portion of the suit to assure herself that she really was wearing a swimsuit and not just body paint.
“M-Misaka-saaan…” came a small and pitiable voice from a bit of a distance away.
Mikoto looked over and saw Uiharu Kazari running her way. Her sandals that seemed to be made of cork slapped against the sand as she ran. The girl had a large number of flower decorations on her head. As if the flowers were part of her identity, her swimsuit was a light-pink one-piece with a flower print. It was a perfectly wholesome swimsuit.
The swimsuit was not very revealing, but Uiharu must not have liked it much, because her face was completely red, she had tears welling up in her eyes, and she was covering her upper body with her hands. It was possible that she just wasn’t used to being in an area with lots of foreigners.
While focusing on her surroundings, Uiharu spoke,
“Sigh… Misaka-san, I’m jealous of how sharp your swimsuit is. Mine is just so unfashionable or makeshift or something…”
“No, I wouldn’t say that.”
Mikoto was in a bad mood herself for having sabotaged herself by wearing a school-designated swimsuit. Uiharu didn’t seem to notice and looked down at the chest of her own swimsuit.
“I never thought I would be chosen in the lottery for this. I had no time or budget to choose a swimsuit, so this was really the only thing left at the store…”
The two of them sighed.
A new challenger then barged in on them. She was Saten Ruiko, Uiharu Kazari’s classmate. She was a lively girl with black hair that went just past her shoulders and that had a single flower decoration in it. She tended to be influenced by the Level 5 Misaka Mikoto and the Level 4 Shirai Kuroko, but…
“Yahoo, Misaka-saaan, Uiharu!! Were you waiting?”
Heading toward them with a smile and waving a hand was a girl who had escaped being plain. Saten’s moderate body was wrapped in a red triangle bikini and she looked like a girl who would fully enjoy summer to the two who disliked their own swimsuits. And she must have bought it at a fairly exquisite store because the chest of the bikini was fastened like it was a front hook but with a zipper instead.
Uiharu started trembling as she focused on her chest.
“Wh-what is that, Saten-san? What kind of mysterious item is that…?”
“Hm? You need to do some studying, Uiharu-kun. It’s called a zip-up bikini. Look, look. When I move around, it almost looks like the chest is going to pop open. Doesn’t that have a nice dangerous feel to it?”
“Gyaah!! J-just by looking at that as a girl, it scares me, Saten-san!!”
“Don’t worry. It’s actually like a NuBra. The entire top sticks to my chest, so nothing’s gonna pop out just because the zipper is undone.”
As she watched the Uiharu and Saten combo get all worked up, Misaka Mikoto got a serious look in her eyes as she thought silently.
She didn’t try to trick anyone about her bust size, but she managed to increase her impression as a breasts character by bringing focus on the possibility of them coming out of the swimsuit… I see. So you can fight that way, too!!
Saten noticed Mikoto staring at her and looked at her in puzzlement.
“Umm, is something wrong, Misaka-san?”
“Afh!? N-nothing at all!!”
Mikoto frantically shook her head.
Saten looked puzzled, but she didn’t press any further. She then glanced over at Uiharu’s swimsuit.
“Hey, Uiharu. Are you trying to be a loli character so you can prey on older men?”
“Abhah?! Wh-what are you saying, Saten-san!? That’s the worst possible opinion of my swimsuit I can think of!!”
“But your light-peach flower-print one-piece clearly gives you the image of a cute girl. And not a cute girl from another girl’s perspective. This is the kind of cute girl a muscular festival of sweat and tears would imagine in his head.”
“I had no choice!! I actually wanted to wear a nice sharp swimsuit!! But this was the only thing left in the sale corner!! Gyaahh!!”
Uiharu gave out a cry of embarrassment, Saten pointed at her and laughed, and Mikoto realized that her sense of style was off from the norm because she had just been thinking that a flower-print one-piece would be nice and cute.
And then Mikoto realized something.
“Huh? Where’s Kuroko?”
“I met her at the hotel, but she told me to go ahead because she was going to take a while,” responded Uiharu.
“What is she doing that’s going to take a while? She isn’t going to put on makeup in order to play on the beach, is she?”
“She might be the kind of person that worries about her tan. She might have wanted to put oil all over herself before coming outside,” said Saten, giving an offhand guess.
Suddenly, a strange chill ran down all three of their backs.
There was some kind of commotion in the distance. Something was approaching, dragging the sound of chattering voices with it. A sweat drop dripped from Mikoto’s forehead, past her nose, and off her chin. Uiharu’s eyes restlessly darted back and forth. All of the hair on Saten’s body stood on end.
Something was coming.
A monster was approaching.
At that time, those pure maidens had a few different options: they could pretend to be strangers, run away at Mach speed, or rush into the ocean. However, they had no time. Before they could choose any of those things, the approaching calamity turned its eyes in their direction.
Standing there was a completely flesh-colored girl who was wearing an unexplainable self-imposed restraint.
The high-pitched scream must have come from Uiharu. Saten was wearing the already revealing zip-up bikini, but she wobbled as if suffering from heatstroke. For some reason, Mikoto’s vision blurred as if she were chopping onions. She heard various voices in English around her.
“Wh-what the hell!?”
“Can you do that…? Can humanity really accept that!?”
“So that’s what a Japanese samurai is…”
Normally, sweaty men would try to figure out how to curry the favor of a girl in a highly revealing swimsuit, but the crowd was in a very odd mood because that swimsuit was past the level of being sexy.
The pigtailed girl who was throwing people’s minds into disorder was named Shirai Kuroko. The smile on her face alone was innocent-looking as she locked on to Mikoto.
“Onee-samaaa. I’m so very sorry. It took some time to get ready. Heh heh. I couldn’t let myself look bad before you, onee-sama.”
“S-stop!! Don’t talk like I like this!! We’re in a foreign country! What are you doing!? I’ve thought it before, but now I’m sure. You’re completely insane!!”
“Oh, dear. Is covering the three important points of the body not enough for a swimsuit?”
“That certainly does just barely cover up those points…” Uiharu muttered with a look of despair on her face.
Shirai truly must not have minded because her expression did not change. Her truly evil swimsuit was made up of strings and small points of cloth that seemed to construct just the basic “framework” of a bikini. The top had strings arranged in triangles with Y-shaped strings stretching from them splitting the inside of the triangles into three zones. Only the inner zone close to her “cleavage” had a piece of cloth stuck on it. The bottom was just a triangular point of cloth inside one of those triangular “frameworks” with thin strings connecting them.
Decorative strings pushed out the slight bit of white flesh at her chest to give the feeling that she was bound by ropes in order to give extra-special nosebleeds. The swimsuit seemed more like something someone would be forced to wear by someone else than something one would wear of their own free will.
But… what is it like on the back?
Saten Ruiko circled around Shirai like someone looking at something that terrified them.
“Uuh!? Cough cough cough!!”
“A-are you okay, Saten-san! Saten-san!!”
“D-don’t look, Uiharu… The back is quite something, too!! While her ass is not completely lifted up, it has much more of an impact than a T-back that just digs in at one point!!”
“Nnn. It’s just a variety of bikini. Really, swimsuits are all either one-pieces or two-pieces. Even with a slingshot, if you observe it calmly, it’s nothing too surprising. There are also types where the material is put directly on the skin, so I feel that it’s about time we started a revolution.”
“…You aren’t about to begin using body paint, are you?” Mikoto asked with a disheartened expression.
That swimsuit was probably made to not come off easily similarly to Saten’s zip-up bikini, but it was already too much whether any more came off or not.
Then, Uiharu Kazari began speaking while blushing, having just barely managed to recover.
“W-well, arguing about it isn’t going to help anything. They say to just throw away your shame while on a vacation, right?”
“??? What shame?”
“…It’s no use, Uiharu-san. She threw all that away long ago. There’s no helping her,” said the ace of the prestigious Tokiwadai Middle School in a rare complaint.
As Mikoto stood stricken on the white sand, an older blonde girl who seemed to be a part-time worker glanced over (probably at Shirai), and gave a small gasp. However, she then continued on with her job.
The girl was wearing a sun visor and a sporty bikini that made her look a bit like a beach volleyball player. She was holding a white rectangular box in her arms. At first, Mikoto thought she was selling ice cream, but that wasn’t it. The beach volleyball-like blonde girl spoke in English,
“I’ll take your handguns here. Anyone who does not want their precious partners to be ruined by the sand, seawater, and sea wind should use our services. Any handguns from the eight major companies get complimentary maintenance.”
That announcement would have left people speechless in Japan, but it seemed to be standard there. Everyone from macho black men to slender housewives handed those shining black hunks of tough metal to the girl. The girl wrapped rubber bands around the grips of the handguns, and then put them in the white box. The rubber bands had chips within them that had GPS locators and information on their owners inputted into them.
“Wow,” Saten said as she looked on in amazement.
It seemed that Shirai and Uiharu had dealt a little with guns before in their Judgment training, but they still couldn’t hide their surprise. Mikoto sighed.
“…We really are in America, aren’t we?”
It all started with a large-scale field trip.
A randomly selected group of students from Japan’s Academy City went to places all over the world over the week of September 3 to 10 in what was essentially a study group. Groups of about twenty people would head to a single city. Meanwhile, children from all over the world were invited to Academy City.
While it was referred to as “all over the world”, most of the places were cities across America. This was likely because of their cooperative relationship when Academy City was founded. It was clear that more students ended up going to America than any other country.
“I’m really glad some people I know like you are with me, Saten-san, Misaka-san.”
“Well, more people were sent here than most other places. Then again, where we go and what group we’re in are supposed to be random, so we were lucky.”
In the end, it was essentially a field trip. Other than writing a simple report, all they had to do was have fun, so it was practically a paradise for a student.
Other students and a few teachers from Japan were there with Mikoto and the other three, but they weren’t really sure where those others were because they were all more or less free to do what they wanted. The only structured thing was a roll-call in the hotel at the beginning and end of each day.
When they had first gathered at the Liberal Arts City hotel, Mikoto had seen a Psychometry girl wearing a bikini with ring-shaped parts in place of knots, an Aero Hand girl wearing a one-piece swimsuit with the back open wide, and a few others, but she no longer knew where they were. That was just how free they were to do what they wanted on that trip.
“America sure does do things on a large scale,” said Saten Ruiko as she looked around the beach. “I can’t believe all this was artificially created to film a single Hollywood movie. That would be unthinkable in Academy City. Well, we have the tech to do it, but we just don’t have enough land.”
They were on a gigantic manmade island with a diameter of about ten kilometers created on the ocean about fifty kilometers off the coast of California. The ocean in that general area had a depth of a few thousand meters, but apparently, rocky areas had gradually risen up, giving that specific area a depth of about twenty meters. Manmade items had been piled up on top of that with a huge amount of sand at the very top in order to create the manmade island.
I’ve heard of manmade beaches around Hawaii, but the scale here is way bigger…
The artificially created island was divided into a few different areas. Mikoto, Saten, and the others were in the outermost area. Beyond the sandy beach was a shallow area of ocean, with the open ocean of the Pacific beyond that.
The name of the island was Liberal Arts City.
Appropriate for a large country of amusement and movies, the entire area was filled with attractions. Many different roller coasters intertwined through the air, and the rings of weird Ferris wheels with no center overlapped like the Olympic rings. It was a theme park where everything from the exteriors of the hotels to the shape of the trash cans had been cutely designed. The island was designed to be a fusion of the sea and fun, so everything aside from sleeping in your hotel bed was made to be done in your swimsuits.
“So this was a movie set, hm? Saten-san, did you see that one?”
“Hmm. Unfortunately, it was released over twenty years ago, and apparently, a lot happened, so it was never released in Japan.” Saten laughed. “I think it was an SF movie. It was supposed to be on Earth in the near future, so they faked an environment made up of plants and animals from fifty years in the future. Apparently, there’s even a fine mesh around Liberal Arts City called a biological guard that keeps living things from getting in or out.”
“Hmm.” Mikoto looked over at the horizon on the ocean. “So that’s why it’s connected to the rest of America by an undersea linear motor train tunnel. They want to keep the scenery as uniform as possible.”
“They didn’t have that linear technology at the time of filming, which made things difficult. Apparently, it took over an hour each way.”
Linear motor trains may have sounded futuristic, but they were already in use in China. They were not seen very often in Academy City because the city did not have very many long distances that required them.
To Mikoto, heading through the transparent undersea tunnel and seeing all sorts of fish had made the experience a very dynamic and interesting one.
“Anyway, once the filming was finished, people started saying that it would be a waste to just abandon it all, so they decided to remake the entire manmade island into a theme park.”
“I see. No, get away from me, you exhibitionist.”
Mikoto pushed away the girl wearing the perverted swimsuit who she wanted to pretend to not know.
Uiharu’s flower decorations swayed in the wind.
“If I remember correctly, the state’s ocean conservation regulations didn’t allow them to just abandon an unused facility, and the film company got mad, saying that the politicians didn’t understand how much it would cost to demolish such a large facility,” she said. “Some people made the ridiculous argument that they should just make sure the facility remained in use, and that just so happened to be the same time the film company was looking for some land to build a theme park on, so they just ended up solving both problems by building it here.”
It was a bit scary that such a huge theme park had ended up being created based on such a ridiculous argument. Mikoto looked up in the sky and sighed while watching a roller coaster that cut across above.
“You’ve got that wrong, you living flower girl wearing that unfashionable flower-print one-piece!!”
Uiharu Kazari was in shock at having some complete stranger suddenly insult her sense in swimsuits. The mysterious person who had gone out of her way to speak to them in Japanese was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, older American girl with huge breasts.
She looked to be around eighteen years old. She had white skin, blue eyes, and long blonde hair with a bit of caramel mixed in that was roughly lifted up in a hairband. She wore a highly functional-looking two-piece swimsuit and a T-shirt with a film company’s logo on it. The shirt was bulging out quite a bit because…
“Th-they’re huge!?!?!? Those are stupidly big. They’re just way too big! I mean, what the hell!?”
“M-Misaka-san, it’s okay! Those boobs aren’t eating anyone or anything!!” Saten grabbed Mikoto’s shoulders, gathered strength in her belly, and yelled out. “And don’t worry! I thought this might happen, so I made sure to search for rumors of the Bust Upper that can easily make a girl’s breasts grow!!”
“W-wait, Misaka-san! You, too, Saten-san! You’ll definitely get caught up in some terrible trouble if you do that!!”
“…Um, are you even listening?”