This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.
Captain Toshio Muramatsu didn’t
look up to acknowledge the firm rapping at his office door. He kept his gaze
locked on the contents of a manila folder, choosing instead to absently wave
the visitor in. He continued to study the paperwork intently even as the
newcomer pulled up a chair directly opposite him and sat down. Another two
minutes passed before he deigned to look up. “Ah. Hayata-san. Thank you for
Shin Hayata nodded nervously and tried to smile. “You did ask to see me, sir.”
“Yes, yes, so I did.” Muramatsu leaned back in his considerably more comfortable chair and fiddled with his pipe. “It’s that time of year again.”
Hayata nodded again. “Performance evaluations. The others had mentioned they’d seen you already.”
The aromatic scent of burning pipe tobacco drifted through the room. “The
“Thank you, sir.”
Muramatsu sucked on his pipe. “You display outstanding teamwork qualities as well. You can work with all the members of the team equally well. You demonstrate a talent for fast thinking and great courage on dangerous assignments. Yes, these are definitely the sort of things one looks for in a prospective captain.”
Hayata was smiling now, visibly relaxing. “I appreciate your kind words, Captain, and I am very proud and honored to serve under you…”
Muramatsu raised his hand. “There are, however, several items that need to be addressed at this time.”
“Well, firstly, we’ve had to make massive outlays this year in order to replace our aircraft.
Hayata jumped to his feet. “Sir, don’t you think that’s unfair? Yes, I’ve had some bad luck, I won’t deny it, but the others have been involved in crashes as well!”
“Yes, that’s true,” Muramatsu nodded, motioning for his subordinate to sit down. “But again, your name does top the ‘responsible party’ list.” He took a long draw from his pipe and stared into space for a moment. “I had given some thought, of course, to sending
Hayata’s jaw was ever so slightly clenched. “My relationship with
“Of course, of course,” Muramatsu noted. “You have an excellent rapport with Akiko. And don’t think I haven’t noticed how well the two of you get along. Why, I think it’s excellent that you’ve taken to driving over to her apartment most mornings to bring her to work. That’s quite a distance to drive, Hayata, and yet you’re never late.” That got a slight blush to erupt on the man’s cheeks, which was a triumph in itself. “At any rate, let’s continue. I have some issues with your performance on field assignments.”
“Sir?” Hayata rose to his feet again. “How could you possibly…”
Muramatsu raised a hand again. “I’m concerned that several times in the past year you’ve vanished at critical junctures. When we’re confronted with an aggressive kaiju, it’s important that I know where each member of my team is and even more critical to know that I can trust him to do his part in stopping the menace.” He puffed on his pipe thoughtfully. “Why, to be honest, I think Ultraman himself has been more visible than you on these occasions!”
Hayata choked on something unseen.
“At any rate,” Muramatsu continued placidly as he shut the manila folder, “these concerns, while important, do nothing to diminish your status on this team. I have every confidence that you’ll work hard to resolve these matters, Hayata. You have a very bright future ahead of you. See that you achieve it.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.” Hayata could not possibly have bowed and exited any faster. Muramatsu chuckled quietly and flipped the folder open once more. A grainy black and white photo of Hayata standing in some quarry, his right arm stretched to the heavens, sat atop the sheaf of papers.
There were some days, Muramatsu mused as he studied the picture, that his job was almost fun.