The Legacy of Vladimir Hodakov [last update: 11.05.2024 — Last Night on Earth]

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The Legacy of Vladimir Hodakov [last update: 11.05.2024 — Last Night on Earth]

Post by hdkv »

Sometimes I make things for fun.

Sometimes I make things because I want to leave my own trace in the void of the eternity.

This time these reasons are combined.

I am immortal. And here is the reason why:

Table of contents

Longers

Secret Santas

One-Shots (this thread)

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Revelations

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See the notes at the end of the story.


We are reporting from the Suntory Hall in Tokyo. The “jewel box of sound”, as Herbert von Karajan once referred to it, saw the first performance of the Saki Enomoto’s twenty-third string quartet suite, called ‘Revelations’. She earlier announced that it will be the last music piece she will give us. Our reporter Naomi Inoue was at the performance and this is her impressions of it.

To be honest, I wasn’t always a big fan of instrumental music. Before I started working here, I rarely attended any concerts at all, not even popular ones. But this changed when I was tasked to cover one of the previous Enomoto premiers in this newspaper. Her music can’t be described with simple words. It’s an experience, in which you can’t believe what you hear. It feels like something completely different, something out of this world. You open the door into the void, and you dive into the thoughts of the most powerful neoclassical composer in Japan who breaks any stereotypes you had about classical music.

After I attended that premier three years ago, I interviewed her, and she told me what I can listen at to try to understand her music fully. I took a vacation, loaded my music player with her recommendations and started listening. From Vivaldi to Kreutzer, through Rimsky-Korsakov and into the modern madness of Stravinsky and Schnittke — you can hear all of that in her music, and much more. She doesn’t restrain herself with the means of expression, be it odd rhythms, polyrhythmic melodies or anything else that can make the ordinary listener feel odd. But once you adapt to this sound, learn how to dive into it, you start appreciating all the power behind it. This is not easy-listening music from a woman who has not an easy life.

She put her violin on the bench just five years ago, and she took all her time to write everything she wanted to present to the world before the inevitable fate that awaits her. Earlier this year she announced that the next, the twenty-third string quartet, which was performed yesterday, will be her last creation ever. When she announced the premiere date, all tickets to it were sold out in the first five minutes. We don’t know her plans yet, but, unfortunately, her health is constantly deteriorating, and everyone who was in Suntory Hall this day could see it. In the dim lights of the stage, left of the four young performers, she sat in her wheelchair and listened to the premiere with all of us. Sometimes she looked thoughtful, sometimes she smiled, and she looked like the fifth performer on the stage, expressing her feelings without an instrument.

The stage was lit with candles, which were stationed on the performers’ sheet stands, and nothing more. As subtle as the lighting, the first movement of the suite was quiet, thoughtful and lovely. In the progression of the suite, though, the music became much more aggressive and fiercer. Soon it became a battle, a fight between you, protecting something you value, and the outside world that wants to tear it apart. You could feel how Enomoto pulled all her personal struggles into this piece of music. This wasn’t just an ordinary string quartet suite — this is a story of her life and her farewell message to all of us.

Usually, the last movement of string quartet suites is the resolve part of the whole story, which brings the peaceful or at least satisfying end for the listener. This time it wasn’t the case. Enomoto is experimenting here: she decided to match the listening perception with the visual one, and asked performers to put down the candles in the end, one by one. It looked like slow leaving of the life in the room: each musician consequentially stopped playing and put down his candles, music became quieter and quieter until the last remaining candle and one violin playing left. This was the cue for Saki to play her role in the performance. She rolled towards the sheet stand of the last musician and waited. With the last note she raised her hand and put down the last candle, effectively stopping the music and the light at once. At the moment’s notice the hall became silent and completely dark. It looked like audience even stopped breathing for a moment, until the hall erupted in ovation.

When the lights were turned on, everyone stood in the hall, cheering and clapping in excitement. Some of the listeners cried, others rushed to the stage with flowers. Most of the flowers, of course, were for composer lady: the floor near her wheelchair was covered with enormous number of bouquets. She lowered her head towards the musicians, thanking them for the stellar performance. Her husband, the prominent scientist Hisao Nakai, climbed to the scene to help her. His face was somber, and I saw a few tears in his eyes.

The performance was televised, so if you haven’t attended the performance (or want to experience it again), you can watch it on TV next week. This is something you shouldn’t miss, and this concert definitely recorded itself into the book of world’s most successful neoclassical premieres in the world. It also left us with some unresolved questions. Why is the suite called ‘Revelations’? What Enomoto tried to tell us for the last time? What she wanted to reveal to us today? Guess music critics now will argue between each other trying to find the answers to these questions, because Saki left us with none. After the show I tried to approach her for interview, but she refused, because she was really tired, which is understandable given her current condition. She leaves us with the huge legacy which would require no small amount of time to grasp. I’m glad I met her all these years ago and I’m really sad I won’t listen to any new music from her anymore.

The proceedings from the premiere and the airing on the TV will be fully given to the Nakai-Enomoto family to help them cover their medical expenses. The required payout for the four playing musicians was covered by the Yamaku Foundation chief, Shizune Hakamichi.

— Naomi Inoue, reporting for Japan Times. You can watch the 23rd String Quartet by Saki Enomoto this Sunday at 23:30 on TV.


During the writing of that one-shot I listened to the 8th String Quartet Op. 110 by Dmitrii Shostakovich. You can listen to it here.

Thanks Sharp-O for proofreading! <3

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Re: The Legacy of Vladimir Hodakov [last update: 10.04.2024 — Revelations]

Post by guthrum06 »

I love this. Doing it from the perspective of a newspaper article really adds some serious gravitas to how awesome Saki is. Makes me wish I had thought of it as something of a prequel to Learning to Run!

I also like that you tell us not only about Saki's post-Yamaku life, but also Shizune's, Hisao's, and Naomi's, and you do it with very few words.

My Stories
Yamaku: The Place Where Dreams come True (Ongoing) - Nagisa Furukawa transfers to Yamaku.
Learning to Run (Complete) - Emi x Hisao in their 30s
Yamaku: the Next Generation (Complete) - Emi and Hisao's daughter goes to Yamaku.
Oil & Vinegar - Mutou and Nurse buddy one-shot

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Case 1249

Post by hdkv »

See the notes at the end of the story.


The worst thing in the world is to wait and to chase.

After opening her own personal lawyer bureau, she almost never came in on Sundays. This Sunday she has a reason to. There is a call she must be prepared for and a task she was assigned not long ago that she must execute impeccably.

“Ding-dong, Floor 21”.

She leaves the elevator and walks to the left, until she finds the lone room awaiting her. Renting the office space in Sendai Trust Tower was quite expensive at the time but it allowed her to arrange her work meetings in the most convenient way, so the price was justified. For the last three years, this tiny office was her place to work — the first workplace she liked in a lifetime.

The familiar beep of the lock recognizing her keycard welcomes her. She walks across the room and sits in her chair in the middle of the room.

“Okay, where is…? Ah!”

She ruffles through the bunch of papers that are lying on the table before her until she picks a green folder, titled “Case 1249”. Opening and scanning the contents of that particular folder with her eyes, she wonders if she researched thoroughly enough and if this was really all of the options she could offer.

Looks like we only have six options to offer, unfortunately.

When she took the request to research this specific topic, she thought that there would be more to consider but the amount of actual research on the subject is far more limited than expected. Guess our modern world isn’t modern enough for this…

Canada. Somewhat far away from Japan and they only established the required legislation the last year. Not the most comfortable option but it’s there.

Colombia. Even more expensive than Canada to travel to. Also the service provided there may not be the best quality.

State Victoria, Australia. Still hasn’t passed the required legislation yet, unfortunately. Not an option.

Luxembourg. Belgium. The Netherlands. Three European countries that are basically on the other side of the Earth, but will be the most accommodating in our case. Guess she’ll have to pick one of those based on her personal preference.

The cost of travel back and forth will be a small fortune but they seem to be willing to spend it to handle things properly.

Might as well open a beer while I wait. It’s still my day off, after all.

Cracking open a cold one from the mini fridge, she looks at the remaining papers from the folder. These ones contain a somewhat detailed plan of executing the deal she was assigned to. From start-to-finish, to the grand finale that she dreads the most.

I only agreed to do this because I want to help them. I want to help him.

...

Patience and stubbornness can do all the tricks.

The day she decided to leave the company, that was designed to be inherited by her, was one of the most terrible days of her life. It was a path predefined by her father. Like everything else, he wanted to control her future to a massive extent.

Trying to dictate how and where she would work for the rest for her life, who she will or will not date, and so on. He always told her that this was how he showed he cared for her and for her sister. She eventually got fed up with all of that.

She knew that she might fail. That the saving she did for the past five years may be not enough. But she was willing to bet on herself, to stand on her own two feet, and to prove that she was worth something.

She went to him with her resignation papers, that he’d unfortunately need to sign-off on, in order for her to leave. It ended, as it often did, in a big shouting match in which she told him everything.

How smothering his attitude towards the family was. How hypocritical he was to disguise his fear for the company’s future as "caring” for someone else’s. How she would do anything just to be herself, not just an extension of his legacy.

He threatened to disown her and she walked away, slamming the door as loud as possible on her way out. They would never meet again.

She started her own small bureau and eventually made it profitable before her savings ran out. Working for herself filled her with pride and satisfaction. She proved what she set out to do and then some.

Her father died two years ago. In his will, he apologised for his behaviour and said that he was proud of her finally becoming self-reliant. He gave her half of his fortune to possess. She took nothing. Instead sending the inheritance to the Yamaku Foundation charity program.

She decided that they needed it more than her and she had worked too long and hard to forge her own path and legacy to break the promise she made to herself; to never fall back on his money.

...

Nothing is eternal under the moonlight.

She flinches when the phone on the table rings.

“Hello, Satou speaking.”

“Hi, Akira. I’m somewhat in a hurry now.”

She exhales, bracing herself for the hardest call she’s taken in a long time.

“How much time do you have left?”

“Two-to-three months, I think. In the worst case scenario; I can wait for half a year but no more. You already saw my medical records and they’re… not good.”

“Okay, got it. I researched the foreign legislation per your request and, unfortunately, we don’t have many options. How do you feel about a little travel to Europe?”

“Guess I don’t have other options?”

“Well, there’s also Canada, but it’s even more expensive. And I don’t think your family have that much money.”

“Well, we do have some money from the music records but it’s definitely not enough to sustain, especially afterwards. On the other hand, I’ve always wanted to visit Europe but never got a chance to. So, maybe it’s an opportunity to make one more of my dreams come true as a nice bonus.”

“Got it. Basically you can choose from Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands…”

Over the next fifteen minutes, Akira relays everything that she found in the last month’s worth of dedicated research. The person on the other end of the line listens intently, sporadically asking one-or-two questions about specific details. Some were more difficult than others to answer, causing Akira to pause a little because it wasn’t covered in her papers.

After finishing describing all the legal details and possible cost of all these options, she asks:

“What place you would like more?”

“Let me think about it for some time. I’ll write you soon. Please, send to my e-mail information about the hospitals in these countries that can work with my case. I’ll need some time to think what option I will pick.”

“OK. Does he know about your detailed plan already?”

“Not yet. I’ll tell him when we’ll choose the final path with you. It will be hard for him to follow this through, but he promised me once, so… I hope he will endure. Keep this in secret as much as you can, please.”

“I always keep secrets of my clients. And my friends.”

“Thank you. You are one of the best friends of the family and I really value your help, especially now.”

“I’m honored to help you, of course.”

“Well, he returned from his morning exercise, so let’s wrap up the call. Have a nice day, Akira!”

...

“Have a nice day, Saki”, says Akira, but the only response was the beeps — she already hung up the phone.

She moves to the window and looks outside. The city is moving slowly with the rhythm of the day. She lights a cigarette — the bad habit that she picked in the university, unfortunately, never died, — and puts it in her mouth. Her hands are trembling slightly.

Guess, I found what is worse than waiting and chasing. The worst thing of all is to be responsible for someone else’s…

“Death.”


Thanks Sharp-O for proofreading (again)!

The music I’ve listened while writing the story is HIM’s live show “Digital Versatile Doom”.

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Last Night On Earth

Post by hdkv »

See the notes at the end.


This is it.

Sitting near the window of our hotel room, I look at the dim lights of Amsterdam. I’ve always wondered where and how my end would meet me.

It wasn’t until last year that we decided to travel to the Netherlands, where I could perform my plan safely and legally, and where I knew Hisao wouldn’t face any issues afterwards.

Beside me, on the table, lays a small piece of paper. Fortunately, my hands still obey my commands, and I was able to write everything that I’ve planned before, including this letter. I check it again and again, thinking about every word that I’ve put down. These words will be my last, and there will be no other chance to say everything that I want to say.

After what must be my fifth re-read I decide that I have nothing else to write. I pick up the letter from the table and start to roll towards the exit of the room. Halfway, I stop to look at our bed, where Hisao is still sleeping. Tomorrow will be one of hardest days of his life, and he will need all of his strength to endure. I smile. He was my brightest spot in the last nine years, especially lately, when my health deteriorated to the point where I couldn’t handle most of my routine tasks.

I take my phone from my pocket and press the button. After a moment the door opens, and a tall blonde woman comes inside. The friend of our family, the prominent lawyer, the one who helped us to arrange my departure from this world. The one who will play my dead man’s hand.

“Hello, Akira”, I say quietly, “take this.”

She takes the letter from my hand and hides it in her pocket.

“Are you sure, Saki? Tomorrow will be the last chance to cancel everything.”

“I don’t want to wait another month before I’ll become vegetable, okay? You’ve seen my medical records, and that’s why we’re here. I wanted to do things my way for the last fifteen years, you know. Not that I look forward to it, but… with your help it will be easier to do. Both for me and for him. Thank you. I know how hard it is to you to be involved in this.”

Akira sighs.

“Well, this is the least I can do for both of you. If you change your mind, send me a message, otherwise I’ll see you
both at the hospital entrance at 9 am.”

“Okay. See you tomorrow. Good night.”

Akira wordlessly turns around and closes the door behind her. After a moment I decide that I want to spend the rest of the night sleeping with Hisao. I roll myself towards the bed and poke Hisao’s arm. He opens his eyes, looks at me and then sits up.

“Hello.”

“Hello. Put me in bed, please?”

With a smile Hisao picks me from wheelchair and gently puts me in bed. I manage to lock my hands behind his neck and pull him into a kiss…

…and for the rest of the night, my last night on Earth, nothing else matters, but us.


The loud buzzing wakes me up. I open my eyes and see Hisao who hands me my phone.

“Hello?”

The strained voice of Akira greets me from the other side of the line.

“Good morning, Saki. Do you have any news for me?”

“Good morning… well, nothing new. Go ahead, we’ll meet you in an hour.”

I end the call and ask Hisao to help me dress and prepare for a walk. He looks terrible, and I can see that he’s tried and failed to hide his tears. I know how hurt Hisao must feel. It’s not every day you walk your spouse into the grave.

Hisao rolls me to the street, and we start our last walk together in silence. I think about everything that I’m leaving behind. My memories, my music, my writing. My friends, who supported me — supported us — all this time. My husband, who promised me that he would follow me until the bitter end and respect my every decision without hesitation.

“Here we are.”

Akira waves to us at the hospital’s entrance.

“Morning, you two. The doctors are waiting on second floor.”

I look at Hisao. I have never seen him this mortified.

“Will you follow me to the bitter end?”

“Always.”

And with that, he rolls me inside the building.


I lay on the hospital bed, waiting. The needle of the IV system is already put in one of my arms. My other hand is in Hisao’s palm. His pale face is filled with sadness, mourning, and fear.

“The system is ready, miss Enomoto. We’ll add the required injection when you’re ready”, one of the doctors says.

“I’m ready.”

This is it.

“Hisao?”

“Yeah?”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“See you on the other side… Hisao...”


I always thought this day would never come.

I always thought that there would be something. That the power of science would revert the effects of Saki’s condition one day, or at least stop it from progressing further.

But there was no hope. Now I sit in an airplane flying home. Alone.

Well, not exactly. To the left of me is the box of Saki’s ashes. Back home, her gravestone waits for her arrival. We picked it together not long before… this. She wanted her grave to be a lovely place. One, where I’ll be reminded how lovely our life together was.

On the right side is Akira, looking in the window. Our friend for a long time, prominent lawyer and one who is helping me with executing Saki’s will. I’ve never seen her this silent, this sad, and this upset.

We’re slowly descending. She notices me looking in her direction and pulls something from her pocket.

“Hisao, this is for you.”

I look at the plain white envelope. There is nothing on it, except for a small drawn heart in the corner.

“What’s this?”

“A letter from Saki. For you. One of her last wishes was for me deliver it to you. Open it after the funeral.”

I put the envelope into my pocket.

“Okay. Thank you, Akira.”


The ceremony was brief and quiet, filled with sadness and mourning. Only close friends and our parents were attending,
no more than ten people in total. After, we decided to go to Saki’s favorite restaurant to celebrate her life. I
returned home late in the night, tired and exhausted.

The next morning, I find myself aimlessly wandering around the house. Everything in this place reminds me of her. Our kitchen, where we made countless meals together. Our living room, where we played, watched movies, listened to music. Her violin, neatly placed in the corner. Our bookshelf, filled with photos and books…

How am I supposed to continue my life without her?

I catch the side of something white inside our wardrobe. Focusing on it, I realize that it is the envelope peeking out of my gray coat’s pocket.

Her letter.

I pick it up and open the envelope. This is the last thing she left for me. Her last words.

My dear beloved Hisao.

If you read this, it means that I am no more. I wrote this letter on our last night in the Netherlands, fully knowing what will happen to us next. I can’t imagine how hard it will to be for you to move forward. But I need you to.

You were the brightest spot of my life, and this is no exaggeration. The day I met you, they day we confessed to each other, the day we married were the best days of my life. In my short lifespan I accomplished many things because you always supported me. Even when the time came to execute my last decision, you were on my side no matter how hard it was. I really appreciated it.

I want you to remember all the funny things we made. All the stories we told to each other, everything we shared for all these years. You were a wonderful and caring husband, and I love you with all my heart. And with all my love I want you to live. Not for my sake or for anyone else’s, but for yourself. Of course, right now you feel sad and upset, and that’s fine — I would be offended if you felt otherwise — but I want you to find the strength to go forward. You deserve a long and happy life.

Reach out to your friends, and don’t hesitate to ask for a help. They’ll need your help too. Our friends always supported us (and one of them even delivered you this letter), and I’m sure they won’t leave you in your mourning alone.

And I want you to live happily. And maybe one day you’ll find someone else to love — after an appropriate mourning period, of course! — you shouldn’t reject the notion of being loved because of me. Don’t feel guilty or like you’re betraying me: I can’t ask you to close yourself to the world and walk into the grave with me, and I won’t.

Just remember: one day we’ll meet on the other side. I’ll be waiting for you.

Love,
Saki.

Only now do I realize that tears stream down my face. I grab the letter and place it on my chest, near my frantically beating heart.

“I will, Saki, I will. And we will meet on the other side.”


Thanks Feurox and Tibix for proof-reading and discussing the idea of that one-shot piece.

Today is May 11, 2024.

With great sadness I announce the premature demise of our friend, colleague and one of the founding members of Fleeting Heartbeat Studios, Nate, known to the internets as XPND.Dev. The disease, similar to the Saki's one in its nature, took his life way too early. He was 24.

He was a kind and nice man, and it was my pleasure to meet him last year, when I became a part of the team. We've still got some time to work together, sharing our passion for Katawa Shoujo and all other stuff. We'll miss him very much, and we're very sad that we could do nothing but just watch him going out.

There is some legacy that he left behind, and our team will work hard to finish it after him and release it to the public. You can expect to hear from us about it before the end of 2025. I'll be the one directly responsible for managing that project going forward and making sure that this legacy will survive, and with the help of our amazing team, my friends and colleagues, we'll make sure that his name won't be forgotten.

I've learned about his condition last December and it was devastating news for me. Wrapping my head around the notion that you won't be able to talk to him anymore in less than a half of a year was really hard. I wish you'll never find yourself in situation like that. Don't be afraid or embarrased to tell your close ones that you love and admire them. Tomorrow isn't given, and you will never find out if your meeting with someone was the last one, until it's too late.

This one-shot was written at 17th of January 2024. I've sent it to him, and he was able to read it before it was too
late. I'm glad that I managed to show it to him before he left, and this is what he wrote in response:

XPND.Dev wrote:

pain.

That was beautiful. Hurts in all the right ways.
Thanks for letting me read that.

Today is May 11, 2024. This is "Last Night on Earth", a Saki one-shot I wrote in honor and memory of my friend, Nate the XPND.Dev. Sleep well, mate, and rest in peace.

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Re: The Legacy of Vladimir Hodakov [last update: 11.05.2024 — Last Night on Earth]

Post by Grayest »

Rip XPND

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Re: The Legacy of Vladimir Hodakov [last update: 11.05.2024 — Last Night on Earth]

Post by Sharp-O »

Guide this one to where the traveler never tires, the lover never leaves, the hungry never starve.
Guide this one, Kalahira, and he will be a companion to you as he was to us.

Rest well, Nate. Thank you for everything.

And that was a beautiful story, Vlad. Very well done.

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Re: The Legacy of Vladimir Hodakov [last update: 11.05.2024 — Last Night on Earth]

Post by ToothedYew006 »

This was good to read. I didn't know Dev for as long as others did but he will be missed. I think about death a lot but it always feels like something that isn't really prevalent until it happens to someone you know. Rest in peace my American friend.

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Re: The Legacy of Vladimir Hodakov [last update: 11.05.2024 — Last Night on Earth]

Post by Voldo »

Really touching story Vlad, kinda reminded me of The Fault in Our Stars.

I knew this would eventually happen but still had some hope things would turn out fine, Nate was a very important person to the KS community and without him many of us wouldn't be here. In many ways, he did kickstarted the new era we live today, such a shame he didn't live long enough to see everything... but his influence will never be forgotten.

Rest in peace Nate.

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Re: The Legacy of Vladimir Hodakov [last update: 11.05.2024 — Last Night on Earth]

Post by Feurox »

This was a touching piece and a touching send off Vlad. I’m honoured to have proofread it way back when. Dev was a good man and always a supportive friend, with a real passion for KS. He and I worked, way back when, on a few stories with Saki and Suzu etc, with Brythain and Livi as well. I’m glad that his work lives on with you and the team, and I’ll always smile when I see pieces of our joint writing together in my stories.

Well done Vlad. Rest in peace Dev. ❤️

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Re: The Legacy of Vladimir Hodakov [last update: 11.05.2024 — Last Night on Earth]

Post by StealthyWolf »

Dev put it best: This hurt in all the right ways. Very good and heart-wrenching story, thanks for sharing it as well as the others here.

Rest well, Dev.

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Re: The Legacy of Vladimir Hodakov [last update: 11.05.2024 — Last Night on Earth]

Post by Razoredge »

He was right. It hurts in all the right ways. Well executed, Vlad, and thank you for sharing this with us.

Rest well, brother. You are and you will be missed dearly. Thank you, so much, for everything. I'll never forget what I've promised you. And, if there is another side, we'll see you there, brother.

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Stuff I'm currently writing : Beyond the haze : A Lilly Satou pseudo-route, Lullaby of an open heart : A Saki pseudo-route & Sakura Blossom : A way with Hisao
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