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Auditions I

The girls queueing up looked at me as I climbed the stairs. A few of them seemed eager and nervous. Others were accompanied by older people, probably their parents. And some even were deadpan.

They must be one of those people that show no expression when they are nervous.

I walked into the building, where a few more girls stood in line before the door of Sanae's and Risa's room. Butcher stood still with his arms crossed next to the stairs leading to the second floor.

"Hey, Butcher. How's it going?"

"Good morning, young man. I'm keeping an eye on the queue in case someone tries something."

"Did anything happen?"

"No."

"Great. Thanks for taking care of it. I'll check on Sanae and Risa."

He nodded.

I should hire him as a bodyguard.

I stepped into the room and closed the door. Risa kneeled down on the corner, whilst Sanae was nowhere to be seen.

"Where's Sanae?" I asked.

When Risa turned around, I noticed something yellow behind her. Sanae was sitting curled up on the floor with her face buried between her arms. I approached them.

"Is something wrong?"

"She's having a panic attack," Risa answered.

Sanae trembled and breathed heavily with short breaths. Even though it wasn't the first time I had seen a panic attack, I felt uneasy.

Now's not the time to worry.

I crouched down. "Sanae, I'm here with you. Tell me what you need."

"I… can't… breathe…"

It sounded like her breathing was getting faster and faster.

"Okay, I'll breathe and you'll breathe with me. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale."

Slowly, her breathing matched my rhythm. I stopped talking but kept inhaling and exhaling with her. Soon, her breathing remained steady without me needing to lead her. She leaned back against the wall. Her face was covered in sweat.

"I'm better," she said, looking at the ceiling.

"Great. Has this happened before?" I asked Risa.

She nodded. "A couple of times, years ago."

I guess we should have medicine for her, just in case.

"Let's review everything before the audition starts," I said.

With our glasses, we reviewed the key points we had prepared during the past week. Sanae slowly joined us and her panic attack was left behind. As much as I wanted to ask her about the cause, I preferred to wait until after the audition.

We weren't looking for many characteristics in specific. The only requirements were to be a girl, be good at dancing and singing, and have a charming personality—quite an ambiguous requirement, but we were going to use it as a determining factor depending on their answers.

It was time to begin. I asked Butcher to count the girls queueing up; twenty-two. Not many, but a lot more than I had expected. I told him to let them in one by one. Sanae, Risa, and I sat on the chairs we had bought during the week.

The first girl came in. Her hair was incredibly long, almost reaching the floor. She was tall and thin and her smile was soothing. It reminded me of Professor Fuku.

Sanae, Risa, and I took notes on our glasses.

"Before we begin, I need to see your public ID," I said.

"Is it necessary?" she giggled.

"It's just to confirm you're old enough—"

My glasses suddenly warned me about her using HoloForm, a technology capable of transforming anything into a completely different thing using optics. I never understood it completely, only that it used reflective panels projected from glasses and that it was far from cheap.

"Excuse me, are you using HoloForm?"

She seemed nervous. Her eyes moved around and she wouldn't say anything. Swiftly, her HoloForm deactivated. The panels turned off one by one until the real person behind them was revealed.

A kid. He doesn't even look fourteen. HoloForm will never cease to surprise me.

"I'm sorry!" he apologized. "My friends challenged me, please don't call the police!"

"We won't. Just leave."

"Thank you!"

He opened the door and ran away. Poor kid. I understand his position.

The next three girls were okay. They knew how to dance and sing pretty well, but none of us felt they were the right ones. Until a short girl with sky blue hair and two ponytails came in. Her irises were orange and her dark pupils resembled stars.

She doesn't look sixteen.

"Before we begin, I need to see your public ID," I said. "Do you allow me to? I'll keep your contact information for one day."

"Sure!" she smiled.

Once my glasses detected the permission, her ID with her public information appeared on them. Her picture matched her real appearance. Her name was Astra Celeste. She was a Japanese citizen and was seventeen years old.

Her name doesn't sound from around here. And she's older than Sanae and Risa but looks twelve; I would've never guessed it. Apart from that, everything seems normal.

"Okay, Celeste. Tell us about yourself."

She nodded. "I'm Astra Celeste. I'm seventeen years old and I'm currently studying at a high school not too far from here. Some classmates there were talking about the audition, so I got interested."

Tomokazu's posts got that far?!

"And why were you interested? Why do you want to become an idol?"

"I first heard about idols years ago. I loved them because they made people happy. It doesn't matter where people are from, their age, their gender, nothing. Anyone can enjoy watching them and that's what I want to do too. I want to make everyone happy."

Nice answer. I like her energy. She never stops smiling; she seems sincere.

"Do you think you have what it takes to be an idol?"

"I do. I've been practicing acting, dancing, and singing since I was a kid and I believe I have the personality to become an idol. I'm always cheerful and I like working in a team. Although I must admit I haven't practiced that much since I started high school," she giggled.

"Why is that?"

"I never found an opportunity to become an idol. I realized almost no one knew what an idol was, so I slowly moved away from it. Until I heard about this; I couldn't believe it."

"We were on the same boat, so we decided to do something ourselves."

"Thanks for that!" she beamed.

I really like her. But now's the moment of truth.

"We are done with the questions. Next is to show us your skills. The requirements are dancing and singing but, apart from those, you can show us anything you want."

"Okay. I'd like to sing first."

"Sure. Do you need us to play music for you?"

"That would be great."

After looking for the song she wanted, I played the instrumental version. She began singing flawlessly whilst not showing any nervousness. The song was cute, lively, and fast. Her high-pitched voice matched perfectly with it. On top of that, she moved around with energy. She was very likable.

She finished singing. Sanae, Risa, and I glanced at each other, pleased with her performance.

"Now let's see your dancing skills," I said.

She asked me to play the same song, now with the original vocals. She started dancing. To our surprise, her movements were torpid and rhythmless. It looked like she was about to fall multiple times and almost hit the mirror. We were about to stop her, but she eventually finished.

Sanae, Risa, and I glanced at each other in shock.

"Do you have any other skill you want to show us?" I wondered.

"Nope."

"Okay. That'd be all. We'll call you tomorrow."

"Sure. Thanks again!"

She walked out of the room.

"What do you think?" I asked.

Sanae sighed. "I really like her. She seems genuinely cheerful and eager to be an idol. Her singing was great, but her dancing deducted a lot of points. Which is weird, because her movements were good whilst singing."

"I think the same," Risa added.

"But she can practice and improve, right?" I wondered.

"Yes, but we would need to trust blindly," Sanae answered.

"Okay. Let's not rush it, we have the rest of today and tomorrow morning to decide. For now, she's a good candidate."

Sanae and Risa nodded.

Edited by RedPandaChick

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