Lilo & Stitch's Star Trek v1
Lilo & Stitch Go To Japan version 1
Chapter 15: Arrival

The ride on the subway train was much smoother than the normal train they had just been on. Or perhaps that was just Nani’s current sense of calmness – they had had to rush several flights of stairs, cross across a busy intersection, and climb down several more to reach the subway station (which was, oddly enough, in a different building and even then they had only enough time to rush through the ticket office, along long steel barriers leading to faregates, and enter the train before the doors swiftly clamped shut. There was a moment where Nani had thought she lost Lilo, during which a terrible feeling in her gut had welled up, but it turned out she had decided to chat to someone with a newspaper (who was looking at her with a rather bemused look on her face, but otherwise saying nothing.)

But now everything was fine, and they were barely a minute or two from their destination. After all that rush and panic, it was almost welcome to be just sitting down and calmly reading her novel. It was a rather interesting one too, or so she thought – it had been recommended by a friend, and so far it was proving to be its money’s worth.

It’d probably be still on the shelf collecting dust if not for this trip.

Gradually, the train started to slow. “Roppongi Eki”, as the overly-polite female voice announced, was the name of the station ahead (419 had told them that “eki” was the Japanese postfix for “station”, so the word directly preceding it was most likely the name; Pleakey agreed after consulting his guidebook, although this wasn’t the most ringing endorsement Nani could think of).

Nani stared through the window as the station approached. Roppongi Station’s white tiled walls belayed a somewhat clinical feel. Despite being traversed by, perhaps, hundreds of people, the place was relativity clean.

Nani shivered. She didn’t know why, but all of a sudden she had a very odd sensation. A feeling of sinking… wrongness. She supposed that it might just be her gut’s reaction to the contrast between the station’s state and it’s function. No station should be that clean.

Nani counted off the stations they had passed in her head. By her count, this was the second since Ebisu, so the next one, the third, would be the stop they get off at.

As the train reached a state of haltedness, Nani looked around the cabin. Stitch was talking with Jumba in hushed tones in whatever alien language they both spoke. As she watched, Stitch proceeded to quickly glare over his shoulder at a curious child in the seat in front in the eye (who quickly slid his head below the seat top) and then returned to his dealings.

Though no-one was looking at her, she raised an eyebrow. She didn’t like it when her alien guests were plotting something secretly – and there was no doubt they were, since they really had no need to speak quietly since no-one could understand them anyway. The main reason she did not like alien plans - and, worse of all, Jumba’s plans - was because the majority of those ended in explosions of varying sizes.

She decided to let this one slide - best not to draw attention to them. Hopefully the resulting explosion wouldn’t be too large.

Lilo was staring outside at the people littering the station. Nani remembered that she had forgotten to pack her camera, so she guessed she was taking ‘mental photographs’ or something.

426 had started chatting to a twenty-something year-old lady with a large box of some kind. Nani felt as if she had seen the lady before but couldn’t place where.

Probably someone she had seen in Ebisu Station.

Finally, 419 was talking with Pleakley about… well, it had something to do with train stations.

“Isn’t the next station Aoyama-Itchoume?”

“No, that’s the Ouedo Line, the magenta one. You know, like me?” The experiment tugged at her fur to emphasise. “You want the Hibiya Line.’ She pointed to one of the many lines on a map that would not look out of place in a pile of diagrams depicting the piping systems of various buildings.

‘I thought Hibiya was magenta,” said Pleakly, his one eyebrow raising slightly.

“No, it’s grey,” replied 419, matter-of-factly.

Pleakley examined the map closely for a few seconds. “Ah, that does makes more sense. So our stop is Kamiyachou, and from there…”

He quickly flipped from the train route map to the road map.

“Hmm… if I’m reading this right, that’s in walking distance of the tower!”

419 looked over the map, and nodded.

“Okay, then.” He looked around, then, spotting Nani, ran up to her. “Hey, Nani, I want you to be clear on where we’re going.”

Nani sighed. That was a change.

“We’re getting off at Kamiyachou, and then- woah!”

The now slightly emptier carriage shuddered somewhat the train began to move. Nani peered out the window – outside, Roppongi Eki rapidly slipped from her view.

“Er, where was I?” asked Pleakley, somewhat sheepishly.

“Getting off at Carmy-Yachoo,’ replied Nani, turning back to Pleakley.

“Ah, right. Although, it’s pronounced ‘kah-me-yah-choh-oh’.” He paused between the syllables to emphasise each one.

Nani furled her forehead. “Can we get on with what’s happening next? I don’t need a Japanese lecture.”

“Right.” He flipped his guidebook to a road map, presumably of the area.

“This is Kamiyachou Station,” said the alien, pointing to a blue square with a white icon representing a train inside, placed along a long yellow line, surely a main road of some description. “We’ll be following this road to this intersection, then we turn left. Tokyo Tower should be straight ahead.”

A white line ran alongside a purple symbol surrounded on three of four sides by some kind of street. Besides the purple dot lay strange and cryptic writing, which Nani supposed said “Tokyo Tower” in whatever language the guide was written in.

“What happens if we get lost?” asked Nani.

“As long as we get to the intersection, we should be able to see the tower from there,” replied Pleakley. “Even then, we could simply ask for directions.”

Somehow, Nani doubted Pleakley was the one to ask for directions.

She also doubted that the tower would be able to be seen from too far away. Pleakley was, of course, used to Kokaua Town, where the tallest building was the Mo’ikeha Hall and Community Centre, where Lilo had her hula lessons, and which could be seen at least half a kilometre away. He wasn’t used to tall skyscrapers, which could very easily obscure the tower unless one was very close to it.

Perhaps she was just overthinking things. Maybe Pleakley had already considered that. Perhaps he had some hologram of Tokyo City tucked away and had consulted that before they left.

And perhaps Pleakley would learn to eat cereal with a spoon.

Still, Experiment 419 appeared to be very fluent in Japanese, so if – no, when they got lost, Nani guessed they could rely on her.

She had gotten about fifteen pages through her book before the train started to slow again, and as expected, the overly polite woman announced “Kamiyachou Eki”. She sighed, placed the book in her knapsack, and stood up, grasping a pole to steady herself as the train came to a complete stop and the doors opened.

“Alright, this is us!” exclaimed Pleakley, closing his book and standing up himself. Nani silently wished he wouldn’t draw attention to himself or the rest of her “family”.

Jumba finished talking, lumbered to his feet and walked towards the door, with Stitch following behind on all fours. 419 and Lilo raced to the door, with Lilo almost accidentally knocking Pleakley over as she did.

426 was still talking to the woman with the box.

“Hey, 426, we’re leaving!”

“Hm?”

He looked at Nani, slightly puzzled for a moment, and then realisation dawned.

“Oh!”

He shook the woman’s hand.

“Well, thanks for the chat. I’d say ‘see ya’, but I’m on vacation so I probably won’t.”

She smiled, stood up, and walked to the door.

“Oh, I don’t know about that – fate has a way of tying people together. Take care!”

And with that, she briskly walked out into the station platform.

“Who was that?” Nani asked 426 as they both got off the train.

“I dunno, some substitute teacher or something. She said she was riding the train to ‘go where she was needed.’ Guess they have an emergency at some school.”

Nani sighed again.

“What?” asked 426.

“It’s just… you’re meant to be keeping a low profile,” replied Nani. “Disguises like the ones you’re wearing only work at a glance, and while most people seem to only see what they want to see, not everyone will be fooled at close quarters.”

She stared towards the ticket barristers, as if remembering something.

“There will be people who aren’t what they seem.”

A few moments of silence passed.

“Er, Nani?” squeaked a high pitched voice.

“Huh?”

“As absolutely fascinating as it is, we should probably do our reflective thinking after we pass through the barriers.”

Nani turned to look at Pleakley, who was on the other side of the barrier – he was pointing back at a small group of about five people who had amassed behind them and were now staring at them impatiently.

“Er, right,” she said, and so she swiped her ticket, and then followed Pleakley towards a flight of stairs, with the rest following their lead.

 


Author's Comment

Hopefully the resulting explosion wouldn’t be too large: This is more Nani's joke to herself than what she's actually thinking. After all, she knows after three years living with the aliens that explosions only result from those hushed whisperings only 42% of the time.

Mental photographs: This is something I imagine Lilo would actually do if she was ever without her camera - she'd 'capture' the image into her memory, and then draw them when she got home. So, in this case, in my mind, Nani is pretty spot on.

That’s the Ouedo Line: This was actually a mistake I made while referencing the Tokyo train system in the research for this chapter, and it's an easy one to make, considering the complexity of the system. I decided it would be a nice small scene to have one of the characters make the same mistake, so I added it in.

Mo’ikeha Hall and Community Centre: I first gave this as the name of the hula hall in Starlight. Mo'ikeha was a chief of Kaua'i, who'd migrated there from Tahiti and married one of the locals.

On not eating cereal with a spoon: This, of course, is a nod to the first episode of Lilo & Stitch: The Series, where Pleakley, "master" of Earth breakfast, eats cornflakes with a fork.

Substitute teacher with a box: Say, do you think she's familiar? No? Well, carry on, then.

(And you thought this chapter was all filler!)

Not everyone will be fooled at close quarters: Here I had Nani explain the limitations of Weirdness Censor to 426 in an effort to have him think a bit about being less conspicuous, as I'm sure she has thought about such things to great length in the past.

(Of course, that depends on who one is conspicuous in front of, I guess.)

Reflective thinking: This is just me poking some fun at some characters' tendency to say something poignant and then stare into the distance. They should really avoid doing that kind of thing in narrow public passageways!

 


Constructive critique: As I've said before, one thing I really love is detailed reviews. Saying "Great, do more!" or "Boo, sucks!" is all very well as a general measure, but to me, your humble writer, they're next to useless if I'm not sure what I'm doing right or wrong. Not only do detailed reviews give me a good indication of sore or shining spots in my story, but they force me to either confront or justify those issues.

By this point I'd been growing steadily dissatisfied with the simple "great, update!" reviews I'd been getting whenever I updated a chapter of my fics - not that I didn't appreciate them, but as I've said, I can't do a lot with them. So, when a generally critical review came in to my inbox, it was a breath of fresh air.

Crosshair's review below confirmed to me a lot of the reasons I decided to start the rewrites of both this story and Lilo & Stitch's Star Trek. The early chapters suffered from poor planning, poor description and poor organisation, and I'd learnt a lot since I'd started writing fanfiction - no sense in leaving those chapters to wallow in squalor.

--MarkKB

Original comments

Crosshair on 22 September 2011 @ 4:15 p.m.:

... ah I remember this story now.

Sadly I can't say the memories were good.

I haven't watched Cardcaptor, but I believe it was supposed to be a mystic fantasy mystery action Drama story involving uber powerful Spirits and a magician that had to capture them again.

Lilo and stitch was about the hijinks of a young hawaian girl and her Alien Bioweapon Experiment/cute fluffy dog.

Both seires involoved action, comedy, and more than a little drama.

Why are you focusing on a tour? Fifteen friggin chapters and the main cast have barely even met each other! I can't even remember if they have! Please man, go back to the hotel, make it nightfall and send out the spirits to cause some mayhem! Send Sakura after the experiments thinking they're spirits, SOMETHING besides walking around the city!

I apologize if I sound rude, but you really need to sit down and Chisel out just what you're going to do with this story, because right now you aren't doing anything. I have no idea where you're going with this set up, and I'm very sad to see such a waste of a potential when these two very different worlds meet.

MarkKB on 23 September 2011 @ an unknown time:

Crosshair:

Thanks for the review.

I'm not sure what to say, except I feel your critique is mostly spot on. It's been somewhat nagging at me why few seems to have noted the same problems I have looking back at it, so it's good to see my thoughts are (partially) vindicated.

I'd also note that most of the chapters were written around 2006/7, which would be both why they're a) short as heck and b) not as good (a lot of the early ones are quite terrible, in fact). The scheduling's my fault as well - I've been focusing mainly on 'Lilo & Stitch's Star Trek' (and other non-fanfic-related things), so my cadence wrt 'Japan' hasn't been to my liking.

I'll say what I've said before, though - right now I'm going to keep plugging away at the current versions of 'Japan' (and 'LSST', which has similar problems) until they are finished, but I'm also rewriting the earlier chapters concurrently to, as you say, chisel out the fine detail, which I'll post seperately sometime in the future (essentially making this version the rough draft). The reason I'm doing this is twofold: a) because, as you see, I tend to meander without a firm idea of what works and what doesn't for me in the big picture, and b) I want my drafting process to be as open as possible, so I can include reviewer feedback into the final version (so basically, what works and what doesn't for the readers).


I'd like to answer one part of your review specifically - the reason I'm currently focusing on a 'tour', as you say, is because I want to include the gang's reaction and interaction with Japanese culture - that is, while 'Cardcaptors' plays a big role in this story, the title is 'Lilo & Stitch Go To Japan', and thus the story is Lilo and Stitch's trip to Japan. However, you're right in that it shouldn't take 15 or so chapters, and you'll be glad to know that I've already focused the rewrite to have quite a few less to get to this point.

You'll also be glad to know that it should be only a few chapters to go until the converging storylines touch base for the first time, and I hope you'll understand why I've chosen the route I have. (That is, if you plan on sticking around - I wouldn't blame you if you didn't, especially if you prefer semi-instant gratification.)


Quite honestly, I'd prefer it if I had more reviewers critique my work more. That's not to say I like it when people say I suck, but when they give reasons for what they do and don't like it's definitely preferable to saying they like or hate it without giving reasons - I can really only say 'er, thanks?' and plod on.

Again, thank you for the review. I hope you won't be too put off to give feedback in the future as well (although again, I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't.)

Copyright © 2013 Mark Kéy-Balchin.