There Was No Secret Evil-Fighting Organization (srsly?!), So I Made One MYSELF!
After all, hijacking was terrorism, plain and simple. And it was common sense across all countries that negotiation with terrorists was just not done. Bow to them once and they would take it to mean that they could keep pushing their luck. They would learn that they could get whatever they want as long as they threatened the right target. Then, the money they earned from one terrorist act would then fund them to commit an even bigger one. Other terrorist groups who saw their success would be spurred to put their own plans into action. The only thing that followed that chain is pure chaos.
This was why countries dealt with terrorist acts with extreme prejudice. If a terrorist took hostages and threatened to kill them unless certain demands were met, what the country had to do was buy time until the hostages could be saved. The one thing that was not on the table was giving in to the demands.
An idiot could not pull off a hijacking. After all, they wouldn’t be able to break through security.
An intelligent person would not plan a hijacking. After all, they would see the futility of the idea.
This was why hijackings were so rare. However, an intelligent idiot within Tanioka-gumi went and pulled one off. To preserve the gang’s honor, somebody decided to come for Tsukimori Tsuyoshi, the head of Tsukimori-gumi and leader of Tsukuyomi.
First off, Tanioka-gumi bought info on Oyabun from the information broker Lee.
Lee owed Oyabun a debt of gratitude, which was why he sold information to Tsukimori-gumi at a discount. However, if one was to ask whether he was an ally of Tsukimori-gumi, the answer would be “no.” An information broker always had to be a neutral third party. His services were equally available to all as long as there was sufficient money involved.
Upon confirming Oyabun’s schedule, Tanioka-gumi started to work out a plan of attack. Oyabun had bought tickets for a Hokkaido-bound flight a month ago at an early bird price, which meant that Tanioka-gumi had a month to make their preparations. They broke a gun down and disguised all the parts, processed explosives to look like food, and even went the extra mile to eliminate all the smell. They slipped all that into their carry on luggage and got the luggage past the airport’s x-ray machines. While onboard, they then reassembled the gun in the toilet. In addition to the two perpetrators, they even arranged for a third man to disguise himself as a normal passenger to keep a lookout.
And yet, despite doing all that, they still failed.
Just as they had intended, Oyabun did jump out from the plane. However, he did not die. Just like a martial artist punching through a stack of tiles, he broke through every single floor and simply landed at the bottom. Then he got up, seemingly unscathed, and had the leisure of rolling for a gacha gacha before going home like nothing had happened.
Due to this, Tanioka-gumi completely misunderstood Oyabun for an immortal monster. The truth, however, was that Oyabun had indeed broken one of his legs and was sweating buckets while pretending to be fine. The thing with the gacha gacha was him buying time to focus his superpower on healing himself, at least to the point where he could walk normally. Looking on from the side, however, it seemed like he was rubbing his immortality in everybody’s faces. Thanks to this, Tanioka-gumi fell under the impression that this assassination attempt, which they had put all their dignity on the line for, apparently never had a chance of success from the very start.
As for the Strangers who had been on the plane that made an emergency landing on Arakawa River, they made themselves scarce before the police managed to gather the necessary personnel to handle such a big incident in the dead of night. There were very few people with a more well-developed knack for dodging the police than Strangers.
The emergency landing in the heart of Tokyo evoked a storm of journalists and news channels fighting each other for scoops. There was no shortage of topics to talk about.
There was the plane itself, which was still sitting there in the river.
There were the espers, who had abruptly reappeared for the first time since saving the city during the Super Water Sphere Incident.
There was the fact that it was a hijacking that had caused the plane crash.
There was the baffling detail that half of the passengers on the plane had been using aliases and that they had disappeared into thin air.
The flurry of journalism surrounding the incident almost smothered rumors regarding the monster man who had destroyed the Adachi ST Building.
It was a happy miscalculation that through this incident, the public came to perceive Amaterasu as a secret organization of justice that would protect Tokyo when needed.
The mass media and general public lavished praise and commendation on the esper group while bashing the airline company and Tanioka-gumi with the characteristic viciousness of the internet.
Even the government got off its ass to do something. Until this incident, it had been adopting a rather irresponsible laissez faire stance of “Sure, there’s been a uptick in problems since the Super Water Sphere Incident, but our tourism is booming and our economy is soaring through the roof, so everything’s A-OK!”, leaving the front line employees to work to death trying to keep everything running. Terrorism, however, the government could not overlook. So in response, it pressurred the police to thoroughly crush the yakuza organization that had dared to rain on the country’s great economic recovery and considered a new bill that would supposedly prevent something of this nature ever happening again.
The way how the government simply put pressure on the police and then washed their hands of the matter, as well as how the so-called bill wasn’t making even an inch of progress due to being debated to hell and back by the various parties in legislation was, to be frank, exactly what I had expected. Politicians who would put their differences aside and work together during a crisis were every bit as fictional as understanding supervisors who would give a thought about front line staff. We have to be realistic here, all right, people?
In contrast to the government that got off its ass to ultimately do nothing of substance, the actual airline company and police force practically burned with enthusiasm.
Not only did the airline company stop at simply adopting every single possible policy that could help prevent a recurrence, it also surreptitiously threw out hints about being connected with the espers that everybody loved so much at the moment. Even though there was no actual connection, what had happened — when given just the right spin — was enough to make people think ‘what if’. The stealth marketing proved successful to a certain degree, such that together with the subsidiary aid from the government, the company managed to ride through the trough without going bankrupt.
The police put their very pride on the line to completely obliterate Tanioka-gumi. The upper echelons of the latter tried to get away by shifting all responsibility onto their underlings and cutting them off like a lizard does its tail, but there was no escaping from the frenzied pursuit of the cops. The criminal organization was already in pretty bad shape, what with rock-bottom morale due to Tsukuyomi’s repeated assaults, the huge amount of criminal proof that had already been exposed, and the deep mistrust within the organization due to all the lizard tail cutting. This whole sequence of events was akin to dealing the final blow to an already dying animal.
Now, Tsukimori-gumi was the least of Tanioka-gumi’s worries. Tanioka-gumi was desperately trying to keep the police at bay, but their annihilation was no longer a matter of “if,” but “when.” To accelerate the process, Ninja also showed up frequently to open up safes for the police and neatly line up printed pages of criminal proof on the tables in the branch offices. Chris’s psychometry had finally hit a growth ceiling that limited her to reading at most 60 days in the past, but this was already more than enough to make her a formidable asset in information warfare.
It could almost be said that the face-off between Tanioka-gumi and Tsukimori-gumi was drawing to a close. All that was left was to decide how to write the ending.
◇ ◇ ◇
On a certain night about a month after the hijacking incident, Baba, who was wearing a Japanese-style cooking apron2, suddenly popped into a guitar lesson that I was having with Miyama on the porch of the Tsukimori residence.
“Yaku, you’re being called.”
“Not him. By the owner of Kaburagi Realtor; she mentioned something about missing some documents for an apartment rental. You’re the one handling those, right? I was told that she wanted to see you sooner rather than later; can you go now?”
“S-Sure… okay, I’ll go see her now.”
I wasn’t in charge of apartment rental applications, but there had been enough keywords in there to let me know what was really going on. This was a summons from Kaburagi-san.
Despite having replied in the affirmative, my feet wouldn’t move. I felt cold sweat going down my back.
Can I just deal with another hijacking instead…?
I mean, I’m definitely going to be scolded if I go, right?
This is the kind of thing that I can’t do jack shit about with telekinesis, isn’t it?!
A plane came down in the middle of Tokyo. A building got destroyed. Amaterasu got dispatched. Although it wasn’t to the public at large, the new secret organization that was Tsukuyomi had gotten exposed. In short, we had been far too conspicuous. Especially for a secret organization.
As the person who helped to resolve all these incidents, the burden on Kaburagi-san must have been unimaginably heavy. The fact that she was calling me out now, a whole month after everything, made this summons that much scarier. It means she was so busy that she didn’t have time to talk to me during this past month, right?
In order to keep our connection a secret, the original agreement that Kaburagi-san and I had made with each other was that we would do our best to not get in touch until I was done setting up this dark secret organization. The fact that she had called me out in spite of that agreement meant that something of proportionate weight was afoot.
Is she angry3? Is Kaburagi-san angry? I’m so scared…
As I trembled in fear, Chris suddenly removed a plank from the ceiling above the porch and stuck her head down.
“I heard the news! Aniki, here’s your suit. Kaburagi Realtor is the place that’s been renting out places to our members left and right, yea? You gotta look sharp!”
So saying, Chris dropped a properly ironed dress shirt and suit onto my lap.
Dude, don’t push the scenario along. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to get scolded!
“By the way, what’s this card that was in the shirt’s pocket? Ten-iwato4? What kind of store is it?”
“It’s an adult store where an 11-year-old girl (monkey) hugs customers naked. It’s not a place for you to go.”
I said the first thing that came to mind to distract Chris from the topic, in response to which Chris recoiled in disgust. In any case, I would be the one to orchestrate the second meeting between the secret organizations of light and darkness. It’s still too early now, so wait a while longer. But do look forward to it!
But the most important thing now is the summons…
“Oh right! What happened to that talk about Tanioka-gumi having hired assassins to kill Oyabun? That takes higher priority than the realtor. If I remember correctly, it was the so-called ‘Coffee Brothers’ who go by the nicknames of Espresso and Cappuccino —”
“Oh, there’s no need to worry about them. They’re busy practicing underwater breathing right now.”
“What? Uh… why are they doing that?”
“About an hour ago, I found and captured them and then pushed them into Edo Castle’s moat. Until someone finds them, they’ll be desperately trying to breathe through bamboo tubes.”
Oh, wow, sure sucks to be them…
I felt a pang of pity for the assassins who got finished off by a ninja before even getting close to their target. And how am I supposed to react to news of them being thrown into water and forced to practice water breathing by said ninja?
Miyama was so impressed that he strummed a fanfare with his guitar.
“That’s some nice handiwork, Chris. You’re probably already worthy of being a jounin5, don’t you think?”
“Aww shucks, thanks. But nope, I’m still far from good enough. In the first place, I didn’t really do anything this time. As it turns out, we’re apparently making quite a name for ourselves in the underworld. When I showed the assassins my Tsukuyomi tattoo, they got so scared they fell flat on their butts. So much for being assassins.”
“Of course they’d be scared! You’re the one and only Ninja!”
“You think? Hmm…well, I guess you have a point! I am Ninja, after all! Ehehe! Poof!”
After laughing abashedly, Chris retreated back into the ceiling.
Depending on who you asked, the yakuza crest of “lotus and moon” tattooed onto all Tsukuyomi members had already surpassed Tanioka-gumi’s yakuza crest in the amount of fear it evoked. For having crushed Tanioka-gumi so utterly, all the fear that Tanioka-gumi previously commanded became Tsukimori-gumi’s, along with interest. We had grown a lot since our days of being a tiny, puny organization that was constantly quivering in fear of even being looked at by Tanioka-gumi.
“How long do you plan on zoning out, Yaku? Get changed already and come out front. You know how much Kaburagi Realtor has done for us. Don’t keep the owner waiting.”
In this way, I was left with no path of escape as Baba stood guard to make sure that I got changed.
Following Baba’s guidance, I arrived at the meet up point, which happened to be the roof of a shopping mall. There was a stage, upon which some night show was being performed. Half of the seats were filled with kids and their guardians.
“Uh, ‘Magical Girl♡Carol-chan Show’?”
The name of the program — done in cutesy lettering — together with an illustration of a magical girl on the billboard above the stage left no doubt to the fact that this was a show aimed at girls. Isn’t Carol-chan the girl that we saved from the Tanioka-gumi office? Wait, she became a child address in the meantime? I mean, my impression of her was that she did look cute in a take-after-her-mother kind of way, but still. Wow.
However, it did strike me as weird for there to be a child-oriented show hosted at this time of the day. Although the sun had only just set, it was still nighttime. So I checked the stage’s programme schedule for the day and realized that during the day, it was filled with names that even I recognized. I see, so the evening is for the less popular and up-and-comings.
There in the very first row, surrounded by little squirts on all sides, was Kaburagi-san’s unmistakable figure. She was wearing a magical girl cosplay outfit that was possibly even higher quality than the real thing and was having a blast chatting with all the children around her. Even when her long, wavy hair was pulled, she did not get angry. Instead, she merely poked the girl’s forehead lightly with her magical stick and said, “Bad.” The fact that the unruly child did indeed immediately stop spoke volumes about Kaburagi-san’s charisma. But wow does she love magical girls.
Soon enough, the Magical Girl Carol-chan Show started. When the emcee lady cried, “Everyone, Carol-chan needs our help. Let’s all shout her name on three, okay? One, two, three!”, Kaburagi-san shouted louder than any of the children. When Carol-chan seemed about to lose to Monster Yakuza Ditch Rat, Kaburagi-san let out a very real-sounding scream. Paying no attention whatsoever to the cold gazes of all the guardians, she enjoyed the show more than anyone else.
When the show finished, Kaburagi-san got into the handshake line, then purchased both the limited edition Glaive Stick and the Sticker & Pendant Set. Having thoroughly enjoyed herself, she then turned to approach the spot where I was standing in wait. The smile never left her face, but the paper bag that held her newly acquired trophies got crushed more and more with each step she took.
Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck! Let alone angry, she’s absolutely furious6!
“So, I’ve been sleeping only 4 hours every night this past month.”
When Kaburagi-san reached me, that was the first thing she said. No greetings, no “hey, how were you?” Just that one line, delivered in the most deadpan tone ever.
I almost tried to run away, but Baba had a firm grip on my clothes. I mean, I know I shouldn’t run away. But still, I want to run away.
Can I cry, at least?
“I did not have time to do my morning runs. There were days where I didn’t even have time to shower. I almost haven’t visited Ama-no-Iwato at all recently. I have bags under my eyes. My skin is drying up. There were days where I had to leave the house after half-assing my makeup. Do you understand how I feel?”
“Uh, um, that’s, I’m…uh…”
“I’m very angry right now. You know that, right? I don’t mind so much that I had to burn through 90% of our accrued funds to settle everything. We gather money and connections so as to use them when we need to. It’s also true that we had agreed to avoid contacting each other. With everything that had happened, though, you could have given me at least one call, couldn’t you? We’ve been over this before, haven’t we?”
“Apologize to me.”
“I won’t forgive you.”
As I quivered in fear before Kaburagi-san’s intense face, Baba got on her tippy toes to whisper into my ear.
“How about you take this opportunity to go straight for her lips? The shock of experiencing her first kiss ever might be enough to melt her heart and sweep this under the rug —”
“No it will not. How many times do you think I’ve stopped time beside Sago-san up till now?”
Kaburagi-san, with her sharp hearing, mercilessly struck down Baba’s suggestion. Shiiit.
At this point, my mind had gone completely blank. I very desperately wished that Kaburagi-san would stop being angry and wanted her to smile, but I understood that I was the one who had made her angry in the first place. I berated myself inside my mind. You goddamn idiot!
“Umm… how can I make it up to you?”
“…Please come back quickly. I’m so lonely.”
Kaburagi-san’s request was straightforward.
She was a woman who did not get embarrassed easily, always ready to say exactly what she was thinking.
In spite of this, right before my eyes was the sight of her with her eyes slightly averted and her cheeks in an almost imperceptible blush.
“Baba, please check: has my heart stopped? Am I still alive? Am I all right?”
“Your heart rate has climbed to a dangerous level, but it hasn’t stopped. You are most definitely not all right.”
What a relief. In that case, this calls for a major revision to my plans. I had planned on taking a bit more time, but now we’re going to be fast-forwarding everything!
Let’s immediately get started with prepping for the final Tanioka-gumi vs Tsukuyomi battle!
If you’re enjoying the series, please consider buying Volumes 1 and 2 in Japanese and English to support Kurodome-sensei and me!
All details in the Table of Contents page.
1 This is a neologism supposedly coined by gyaru girls where there are 6 words indicating consecutive tiers of anger, with Tier 1 being “Oko,” Tier 2 being “Maji oko”, Tier 3 being “Geki oko pun pun maru,” Tier 4 being “Muka chakka fire,” Tier 5 being “Kamu chakka INFERNOOOO,” and the final Tier 6 being “Geki oko stick finaleality pun pun dream.” Here’s the KnowYourMeme article.
3 “Oko”. See Footnote 1 about the stages of anger.
4 Chris is mis-reading “Ama-no-Iwato”
6 A play on this series’s Japanese title, which has the term “hangire” within the parentheses. “Hangire” can be split into “han” and “gire”, with “han” meaning “half” and “gire” being a contracted form of “kireru,” which means to flip out, get pissed, etc. When put together, “hangire” means something similar to “flipping out halfway.” A more direct translation of this line is, “Let alone hangire, she’s definitely zengire!”, with “zengire” meaning flipping out the whole way.