LAST EDITED ON Sep-15-14 AT 12:03 PM (EDT)
SHIRO SHINOBI ARENA. The dream stage of the United Republic's professional benders... and also of its rock musicians. There are both better and bigger concert venues in Republic City. The Republic Opera House has vastly superior acoustics; Memorial Colosseum seats more than twice as many people. But for many a Republic-born rocker, there is no greater dream than to stand on that canvas-covered steel deck, under that ornately filigreed glass dome, and lay it down in the round.
Azalynn dv'Ir Natashkan sat crammed into one of the midfield loge boxes with a good many of her friends and watched, her heart bursting with pride, as five girls from Sakuragaoka lived that dream. Only a quarter of the way into their planned setlist on this sultry summer night, all five were drenched. Empty water bottles littered the stage, accumulating at the base of the drum riser. All the girls had long since cast off their blazers and untied their ties. Ritsu had discarded her shirt entirely and was out there in a grey sports bra turned black with sweat, her slim shoulders glinting under the lights as she hammered away; pausing occasionally to rake her sodden bangs out of her eyes, as she'd lost her headband somewhere along the way too.
It didn't seem to be getting any of them down, though. They just drank more water whenever they had a moment to get it on board and rocked on. The energy in the room - the reason why the Arena was so coveted a gig - wouldn't allow for anything else. They slammed to the end of "No, Thank You!" and paused for breath and further hydration; after knocking back a pint of water in one long, blissful pull, Yui turned her guitar around so it was slung on her back, dropped the empty bottle with the other dead soldiers, and sprang back to her mic at the front of the stage, which was at that moment more or less facing the box where Azalynn sat.
"Good evening, Republic City!" she cried, dismounting the mic with her left hand and raising her right fist (plectrum still gripped between her fingers) in salute. It was the first time she'd spoken since starting the show, at which time she'd said the name of the band and little else. "How's everybody doing tonight?"
She had to wait for a few moments and let the most thunderous of the cheers die down before her voice could compete with the crowd's, even amplified as it was. When they did, she went on with a broad, shining grin, "I'm Yui Hirasawa and we're Hōkago Tea Time! Before we go on, let me take a few seconds and introduce you to my best friends in the world!"
Steaming under the stage lights or not, Yui still got an arm around the tiny cat-eared girl to her left and gave her a half-hug, eliciting a rolled-eyes look of mixed exasperation, affection, and amusement as she declared, "On my left, playing rhythm guitar as though she was being paid for it, the relentless but adorable Azusa Nakano!"
After giving her fellow guitarist another squeeze, Yui turned her loose and bounded to the other side of the stage, announcing, "On my right - like a rock - the First Lady of Hōkago Tea Time, Mio Akiyama!" With a well-practiced move that raised a laugh from the crowd, Mio extended her left hand and blocked Yui's forehead with her palm, forestalling her attempted hug, while playing a quick hammer-on riff with her right. Yui grinned and turned around, having evidently expected the block.
"Up in the back, on the Lowrey Holiday Deluxe organ - the nicest girl in music, Miss Tsumugi Kotobuki!" she cried, and Mugi beamed and blasted off a few seconds of a Bach toccata. "Showoff!" Yui added gaily, then indicated the last of her bandmates and declared, "And to her left - still the best Keith Moon-type drummer in the world - Thunder Dragon herself, President-for-Life Ritsu Tainaka!"
She let them cheer while she bounced back to her spot front and center; then, panting slightly with her exertions, she plugged her mic back onto its stand, held up a hand for quiet, and said, "Thank you! Please. Time is short. And right now... " She paused, catching her breath, and brought Gīta around to her front again. "Right now... right now it's time to..." She gathered herself as the house fell almost silent, her eyes closed as if in concentration. Then, grinning fiercely, she opened them and roared,
"Kick out the jams, mutha - "
Azalynn woke up, sat up, and briefly wondered what the hell she'd done.
"The Federation Lives Forever!" - An Order of the Rose Entr'acte
Coming soon™ from Eyrie Productions, Unlimited