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Introduction Main Chapters Interlude 1

Chapter 1:

Few institutions have a bogeyman, but Dr. Sanada was the bogeyman for this college.

This semimythical figure was the talk of many graduate students, and they seemed almost perversely proud to have such an icon. Kent Slade, a foreign graduate student, found rumors of any sort repulsive, but was compelled to listen because people would not hold their peace. Finally, Kent decided that, against his will, he had been contaminated by these probably baseless rumors. He needed to determine the truth about this Dr. Sanada character, so he could replace the gossip, at least in his own mind. Kent did not, however, know how to find Dr. Sanada himself, so he tried to ask around about him.

Will Lewis, another foreign graduate student, advised against learning anything more about Dr. Sanada.

Choi Hae-rim, nicknamed Naoko Yoshi for easier pronunciation, was a doctoral student who often used the lab just before Kent did. Yoshi didn't advise against Dr. Sanada so much by words as by her nervous expression and admission that all she knew was hearsay. Clearly it was all bad hearsay, but she didn't want to be the one to pass it on. She didn't want to destroy someone's reputation when all she knew was rumors, but also didn't ever want to test the rumors.

Rumor had it that Dr. Sanada was a mad scientist. He was mysteriously loaded with all sorts of funding for research projects that were either sinister, ill-conceived, or revolutionary yet diabolical, depending on who was telling the story. Everyone agreed on one point: he was so creepy that, despite the vast amounts of money he had and his genius, he couldn't get promoted above assistant professor, and not one graduate student would work for him.

Kent didn't want to test the rumors any more than Yoshi, but since it was impossible not to hear them, he wanted to replace them with truth and facts. Narayanan was a grad student in the Bible study Kent attended since he came to the college, and had always been helpful and trustworthy.

"Dr. Sanada," Narayanan repeated part of Kent Slade's inquiry, as he always did for any question. A pained look crossed his face. "Well, nobody knows a lot about him, but it is not the usual case. Usually no one knows a lot about him because nobody tries to be his friend. Many people, faculty, you know, tried to be his friend before I started my studies here, but he wouldn't really get close to them. I have tried talking to him, but he is almost totally obsessed with his research."

Narayanan paused, then he began to temper the assessment he'd just delivered. "He has some reason, of course. He was deeply in love with his wife, and their baby girl, not more than a year old. What was their child's name? I heard this story from my advisor, by the way. This is not more than you wanted to know, right?"

Kent responded, "No, thank you. This is just what I wanted to know. I hate rumors, but nobody can help hearing about Dr. Sanada. I felt obligated to help restore his reputation by learning the truth."

"Good. Oh! His daughter's name, it was Mitsuki. Anyhow, there was a terrible epidemic about that time, Mitsuki caught it, then his wife caught it, and Dr. Sanada caught it. They all checked into the hospital, and all of them were moved to the intensive care unit eventually. When Dr. Sanada woke from his fever, he had to be told that his wife and child had died from the disease."

Kent gasped. "That's really sad."

Narayanan nodded. "I know. When I heard it, I suddenly understood him, and it was then that I sought him out to try and talk to him. It was quite difficult to find him, though. He usually is either in the dimensional physics lab, or at home, or even visiting Dr. Rara."

"Dr. Rara sounds familiar. Wait, isn't he that famous physicist? The one on TV last night?"

"Yes, that is the one. He is a dimensional physicist too, among other things. They are also both avid amateur archaeologists."

"Strange combination."

"I was surprised myself. Anyhow, like I said, he would talk about nothing except his research. Most people in any culture try to keep up some sort of small talk, but he hardly even made an effort at it. He began to talk endlessly of his current research, and I eventually had to leave him to make a class I was helping with. Sometimes I fear he is letting his lost love poison his chances for happiness at any point in his future."

"We'll both have to pray that such doesn't happen."

"Yes," Narayanan agreed. "I will not try to commit you to anything, and this may not be a good idea. Dr. Sanada can be..."

"Intense?" Kent supplied.

"Yes. Well, anyhow, if you see him, do try to talk to him. Maybe you will have more luck going with the flow of his mind than against it. Dr. Rara is funding his projects, try asking him about the project Dr. Rara is funding right now. I have got to go now, but it was good seeing you." They both stood.

"Thank you so much for straightening things out. See ya!" Kent returned, and they parted.

Author's Notes:

Important announcement about Mitsuki Sanada and Ayuko: They are still alive in the synthesis world. I repeat, they are alive. Mitsuki Sanada and Ayuko are alive in the synthesis world. I hope I have said it clearly enough.

As you may have guessed by now, this part of the story regrettably doesn't involve too many of the actual main characters. For example, I've left out Kazuki Yotsuga, who, you may recall, is the actual protagonist of the series. Eventually, I will bring them back, though not necessarily in this installation of the story. To make up for that, we'll peek into what's happening in the synthesis world in various (hopefully) comic interludes. The first interlude will be released today, and the next chapter tomorrow. The main characters will return to the main plot in 15 days.

Narayanan and Kent are talking in English, for mutual practice. They practice Japanese all the rest of the day, since they are living in Japan! Most of the other speech in this chapter is technically in Japanese, but I don't know that language, so we shall assume that this is a perfect translation from the Japanese they actually spoke to the English I wrote.

There are a few times when the speech is not in Japanese, like the aforementioned conversation with Narayanan, and whenever Kent talks to his family, but I think you can figure that out.

Introduction Main Chapters Interlude 1