There Was No Secret Evil-Fighting Organization (srsly?!), So I Made One MYSELF!
Chapter 2: Tsukimori-gumi is Not Yakuza
Volume 3: Tsukiyomi, the Dark Secret Organization
After we successfully got out of the dark alleyways and onto the brightly-lit main avenue, Hero-oji-san continued running for a bit more, finally stopping and letting me down only when we came within sight of a police box. The current Tokyo was in such a deplorable state that there was truly no guarantee of having shaken off the hoodlums short of coming out to such a crowded area.
Baba and Chris, who had been following behind, quickly caught their breath before offering their thanks to Hero-oji-san. I, however, had been so violently shaken, rattled, and jolted from being carried the entire way that it was taking everything I had to keep the contents of my stomach down.
“Your face color isn’t looking great. Don’t worry, we’ve gotten away from those guys.”
Hero-oji-san called out to me in concern, but my face was pale not from fear of the hoodlums. However, opening my mouth was beyond me at the moment, so I simply nodded wordlessly. I could not use telekinesis to protect myself against motion sickness. Well, maybe I could, but I hadn’t practiced doing so, therefore, I couldn’t.
“Seems I’ve yet to introduce myself. I’m Tsukimori. I’m currently heading a mutual benefit society for Strangers. Feel free to casually call me ‘Oyabun1.’”
“Mhm. Well, let’s talk and walk. I’ll take you guys to a place where you can take a breather.”
Chris’s easy adoption of his moniker earned her a head pat from Tsukimori-oyabun, after which he began walking off. Baba and I exchanged glances before wordlessly following behind. There were so many points that we wanted to tsukkomi2 on.
The term “Stranger” was one used specifically for the less than savory foreigners who were currently overpopulating Tokyo. No one was sure who had coined the name and its definition was rather vague, but it was being used as a general label to refer to foreigners who: had done something bad, who looked like they might be doing something bad, or who looked dubious, creepy, or simply out of place in some way.
The news channels and internet also had plenty of negative accounts of these Strangers. There was a story about some of them setting up tents in parks that ended up in flames, and another about a bunch of them causing a big ruckus at a bar that ended up in bloodshed. I had also heard through the grapevine about how these Strangers that had started off as nothing more than a disorderly mob had, slightly under a year after the Super Water Sphere Incident, gradually started gathering into groups with their own rules and hierarchies. That said, it was my first time meeting a member of such a group, much less its head honcho.
I had actually roughly toyed with the idea of coming into contact with a group of Strangers to scout for members for our dark secret organization, so it was actually a stroke of luck that one such group came to me instead. Or perhaps it was only inevitable that the boss of said group came over to save us once he saw Chris and Baba, both of whom could be taken for Strangers because of their appearance, being assaulted.
As for calling himself ‘Oyabun’… isn’t that what yakuza call their bosses? Is this really a “mutual benefit society”? Like hell I can ‘casually’ call him that! That’s terrifying. Yakuza are terrifying.
“Tsukimori-oyabun, thank you for saving our lives. This is but a small expression of our gratitude. Hehe.”
I caught up to Oyabun, who was walking ahead, and ingratiatingly proffered three ¥10,000 bills that I had taken out from my wallet.
He had a severe-looking face and deep set eyes, and was fit enough to run at top speed for an extended period of time while carrying a 65 kg male adult. His pecs were obvious even through the T-shirt that he was wearing. Honestly, he was like a second Kuma-san. The aura that he was emanating was overwhelming.
Oyabun pushed the bills back at me, looking irritated.
“I’m no yakuza. I don’t help people to force them to become indebted to me. ‘Oyabun’ is just the moniker that my underlings call me, and I just ended up getting used to it is all.”
Reeaally? Even your word choice seems yakuza-ish. Like ‘underling.’ Who even uses that nowadays?
“Oh, no, please, I insist. Where would my honor as a man be if I’m to withdraw money that I’ve already offered?”
“Then throw such useless honor away. This is thirty thousand that you’re offering! Thirty thousand! It’s an enormous sum. How many days’ worth of food do you think this covers? Take it back, take it back.”
“Ahhh, if I may. It’s terribly impolite to not name ourselves to the person who’s saved us, so please allow me to make our introductions. I’m Baba, this lass is Chris, and this lad has amnesia so he doesn’t remember his own name. So the thing is, all of us are without a place to stay for tonight, and thus find ourselves with no other option but to rely on Oyabun’s generosity. We will repay your kindness as best we can.”
Probably having foreseen the exchange between Oyabun and me dragging on for a long time, Baba decided to interrupt and move the conversation along.
Well, it didn’t matter much whether he was the head of an organization of Strangers or the head of a yakuza gang, as either identity still made him an interesting scouting target for our future dark secret organization. Allowing such a great opportunity to make a connection with him slip through our fingers was simply not an option.
Oyabun looked down in bewilderment at the diminutive Baba who spoke so fluently in an old grandma dialect3.
“Did I hear you wrong? ‘Baba’? Aren’t you a grade schooler?”
“In my home country, I am of age. Baba is my name. I am aware that it means something slightly different in this country.”
“O-Oh, is that so. Sorry. So, uh, well, if you guys don’t have a place to stay, come to my place. It’s just over there.”
“Oyabun, I have no money.”
“It’s just one night, I’ll let you stay for free. I told you, we’re a Stranger mutual benefit society. Our whole purpose is to help people like you guys. Here, we’ve arrived.”
After getting through the standard tsukkomi about Baba’s name, Oyabun stopped in front of a pair of splendid wooden doors with a tiled roof that seemed wide enough for a limousine to easily drive through. Pines trees towered behind tall, white walls that encircled an imposing Japanese mansion that looked like it held some historic importance. On a wooden plaque were the letters “Tsukimori” written in bold calligraphy strokes.
Three pairs of eyes watched in dumbfoundedness as Oyabun casually threw open the huge doors.
How is this not a yakuza’s main base? What is this? Are we going to be skinned alive? I mean, how many crimes does someone have to perform to procure such a gigantic piece of land smack dab in the middle of Tokyo? …Wait, scratch that. The Kaburagi residence is also of a similar scale, just with a different aesthetic. So this is the power of money, huh.
The interior grounds of the Tsukimori residence was in a state of total chaos. Tents and people filled every inch of the place, be it on the gravel-laid garden, between the roots of the pine trees, or even inside of the depression that had clearly used to be a pond. Between the tents were winding paths beaten out from foot traffic. From one open window of the main mansion building hung an extension socket, from which stretched a whole mess of extension cords that ran above the tents to power a countless number of fluorescent lamps. In the air was a distinctive stink composed of the smell of cup ramen, something burning, and the odor of a large mass of humans packed together.
The people squeezing themselves through the narrow paths were those of all genders and ages, and were sporting hair colors that ranged from natural colors such as black, red, brown, white, and blond to obviously dyed colors like purple and fluorescent pink. As for clothing, there were women wearing the Indian sari, other women with veils over their faces, and some bearing the kind of long jacket decorated with flashing gold and silver thread commonly favored by bousouzoku biker gang members4, to name just a few. The clash of all the colors and styles on display was so garish and confusing that it made my eyes hurt.
I see, so that thing about being a mutual benefit society for Strangers was real. Though, this sight looks more like a refugee camp than a mutual benefit society.
In various different languages, Oyabun was greeted by “親分,” “オヤブン,” and “Oyabun.” While nodding towards all of them in a collected manner, Oyabun continued herding the three of us towards the entrance of the main mansion building. Right in front of the door was a table, at which sat a fat, middle-aged man who was nodding off with his chin in his hand. Oyabun rapped the guy’s untidily balding head to wake him up.
“Miyama, three new ones. All of them understand Japanese. Register them.”
“Haeeh? Ahhh, really? And here I was, thinking today to be a rare day without any newcomers…”
“I’ll be going back out to continue my rounds then.”
“Aye, aye, sir~”
“You three, listen to this guy’s instructions.”
After a simple hand off, Oyabun quickly went back the way he came.
The fat, balding, middle-aged man waved his hand until Oyabun was out of sight, then flipped open a ledger and thrust it and a pen towards us. In a tired voice, he said,
“Welcome to our Stranger mutual benefit society ‘Tsukimori-gumi5.’ We are an organization that mainly arranges living quarters for Strangers who can’t or don’t want to return to their home country and introduces job opportunities to Strangers looking to become capable of supporting themselves. At least, that’s our overarching goal, but we’re a really loose place that doesn’t screen newcomers and members are free to leave at any time, so feel free to just use us as a stepping stone to help yourself get back on your feet. That said, we do at least want to be aware of who our members are, so please write your name, place of birth, and age in the respective fields. Feel free to write in your own mother language if you can’t write Japanese. Then, when you want to leave the society, just give me a holler.”
“I know this! In Japan, whatever-gumi refers to the mafia!”
“We’re not mafia nor yakuza. We’re a mutual benefit society.”
While cracking a joke, Chris proceeded to fill in her information without a shred of hesitation: Christina Najin, New York, 16 y/o. Oh, so she was American, huh.
When Chris finished, she passed the pen to Baba, who wrote: Lonalia Linalia Baba-Nyan, Alvu Kingdom, 906 y/o.
I fully expected Miyama-san to comment, but he simply managed a small laugh before moving on. Just as I was feeling doubtful regarding his reaction to what must have come off as extremely questionable details, my eyes fell on the ledger. Oh look at that, there’s a guy named ‘Jesus Christ’ here, huh. And this guy’s from Mars? Whoa, you’re 123456789 y/o, huh. These profiles make Baba’s look normal next to them. Unbelievable. Tokyo’s become far too amusing a city.
A large majority of Strangers were occult lovers who had come to Japan because of the Super Water Sphere Incident. So naturally, a large portion of them were weirdos. I thought I had understood this fact, but from the looks of things, the weirdos were far more populous than I had anticipated.
I accepted the pen from Baba and was just about to put it to the page when my hand suddenly stopped.
“Um, I’ve lost my memory, so I can’t remember if I’m even a Stranger or not…”
“What’s that? Don’t worry, we have like, twenty or thirty other self-claimed amnesiacs. Just write ‘N/A’ in the parts that you don’t remember.”
So there are that many people using the same gimmick as me, huh. Well, it is true that pretending to not know anything is a famous and easy-to-use method for infiltrating into an organization. So yea, um, sorry for being another “self-claimed amnesiac.”
I filled in: No Name, Japan (I think), 20 y/o (I think).
Miyama-san accepted the ledger and pen back, then jerked a plump, fat finger towards some large shelves located next to the table.
“Blankets are over there. Grab however many that you need. Feel free to sleep in any tent with an unoccupied spot. You see the line demarcated by red bricks in the ground? This side of the line are tents for gals, and this side are tents for guys. Don’t mix it up. About food, there’s handouts at 6 am, 12 noon, and 6 pm. Toilets are over there. The baths are on that side, but they’re open only between 7 pm to 12 midnight, so it’s too late to use them tonight. The general idea is that you should be able to figure things out by looking at what people around you are doing. Don’t worry, you’ll remember how things are soon enough. As for rules, in order to keep this place running, we have three of them. Make sure you memorize them, they’re that important: don’t steal, go work, have fun. That’s all three of them. We don’t care about everything else, but just never steal, make sure you go to work, and find some way to have fun. Ensure that you abide by these three rules. In case you ever forget these rules, they’re also posted inside each and every tent, so read them there. If you can’t read, then ask a neighbor who you think you can communicate with to read them out for you. That’s all for the orientation. Any questions?”
“Uh, I mean, sure, I don’t mind obeying those rules, and it’s not like I mean to complain or anything, but aren’t they a bit too loose? Like, there are only three rules? Seriously?”
“Well all right, smart aleck. How far do you think complicated rules are going to go in this mass of people from different countries who all speak different languages?”
“Sorry, my bad. I didn’t think that far.”
It was such a solid retort that I honestly have no response to give!
“So, I take it that there are no more questions? In that case, then off to bed with all of you. Come see me again after you wake up.”
As soon as he finished talking, Miyama-san shooed us away. So, we each grabbed a towel and dispersed for the night. I struck off towards the guys’ tents with my towel in hand just as Baba took the hand of Chris, who was sleepily rubbing her eyes, and gently pulled her off towards the direction of the girls’ tents. With everything finally having somewhat settled down, I suddenly realized how exhausted I was, both mentally and physically, from everything that had happened tonight. My body felt heavy, and my mind was sluggish. I almost couldn’t believe that it had been less than 12 hours since Baba and I played dead. It felt more like it had been a whole week.
Yep, I’m dead tired. Let’s leave all the difficult thinking for tomorrow.
Eventually, I found an empty spot in a three-person tent, so I crawled in, threw my blanket over myself, then adopted a sleeping position. However, the two middle-aged Strangers sharing my tent had such bad cases of teeth grinding and sleeptalking that it was only two hours later that I finally managed to fall asleep.
◇ ◇ ◇
The night passed and the next morning came… is what I’d have liked to say, but the sky was still dark when I opened my eyes. I felt like I had slept quite a lot though, so I looked at my watch in puzzlement. Oh, I’d slept through the entire day? Damn, talk about oversleeping.
It happened to be time for the evening handout, so I joined the lines and got my plate of curry. I wolfed it down in record time, then set off to find the two girls.
Today, like yesterday, nighttime was as bright as daytime thanks to all of the fluorescent lights dangling overhead. However, there were simply too many people around, and, what with many of them returning to their tents after dinner and many others heading off to work after the meal, the overall flow of foot traffic was extremely turbulent. Seeing the situation, I thought that it’d take me quite some time to find my two companions…or well, I did, until I spotted Chris almost right off the bat.
She was eating her plate of curry while sitting on a decorative ridge-end tile6 on the roof.
What are you even doing? You’ve got to be a ninja, right? Even though you’re blond.
I waved at her from below and called out.
“Ah! Good morning, Aniki!”
“Morning. Why are you all the way up there?”
“Cus it’s so crowded below. The girls’ tents were all filled, so I slept in the attic. Baba slept up in a tree.”
While continuing to devour her plate of curry, Chris continued.
“Hey, Aniki, listen to this! So, I went around exploring the mansion, yeah? I found several places where it was falling apart, and now I’m going to fix them! Like, there are leaks in the roof, and the skylights are cracked and stuff.”
“You know how to do it?”
“Miyama-san said he’d prepare the tools for me. I’m an apprentice ninja, so I’m good at that sorta stuff.”
“So you really are a ninja!”
“Apprentice ninja. Apprentice. I still can’t make myself invisible and can’t make clones of myself. Diligent practice everyday, Way of the Ninja everyday!”
Chris managed to pull off a cool pose with a hand sign while delivering that last line, but the sudden movement caused her to almost drop her plate. Thankfully, she did manage to catch it in time, but not without quite a bit of flustered fumbling. Ahh yes, I see the ‘apprentice’ part.
That said, a blond girl ninja, huh.
Goddammit, why didn’t someone like Chris transfer into my class when I was a student. It would definitely have turned into an absolute hoot. Just imagine how fun it would be zipping about through the streets of Tokyo at night as an esper and kunoichi tag team!
I had previously dreamed of how fun it would be to join a class composed of the weirdest person from every school within the country. A lot of manga and light novels are interesting precisely because of such a situation. When weirdos are alone, they are but mere weirdos. When several of them gather together, however, the clash gives birth to stories and drama that can grip the hearts of the masses.
Back when I was a student, there were no other weirdos around me. I was all alone. And so, there were neither stories nor drama. Everything was the same monotone color.
Now, however, due to the Super Water Sphere Incidents, weirdos from all over the world had gathered in Tokyo (and Ireland too, I guess, so both places got half each). Let alone a class of weirdos, I was now living within a whole city of weirdos. Their population was so great here that they’ve long surpassed shitty reality’s natural ability to thwart coincidental encounters. I had sadly not been able to enjoy the benefits of this change when I was living in the light, but as of yesterday, I was now a part of society’s underbelly. I had high expectations going forward.
But still, to think that the “extraordinary” that I could not find even after circling the entire world back in my university days was now so common that it was only one wrong turn away. The Tokyo of today was truly fitting as the stage for adolescent fantasies of superpowers.
That said, kidnapping was really going over the line and was an indication of public order that had slipped too far. Being kidnapped and sold as a slave or harvested for organs was no joke.
Baba, who was currently crouched underneath a tree and busy teaching origami to kids of a large variety of nationalities, had apparently been appointed as Head Translator of Tsukimori-gumi. Going forward, she was going to stay within the premises and utilize her natural knack for language to learn every single language being spoken in this mutual benefit society. After that, she would be called on to translate between Strangers, mediate conflicts, and lend a listening ear when needed. Apparently, Miyama-san had been relying on Google translate so far, which had been yielding less than ideal results.
When I first joined, the readiness with which this organization accepted us had caused me to worry about its future. Now, however, I could only marvel at how this openness enabled it to acknowledge Baba’s talents so readily without being tied down by prejudice against her appearance. Giving Chris full rein with all the DIY fixing was, in light of her lightness and ability to easily reach high places, another brilliant decision. When all is said and done, it seemed like Tsukimori-gumi really did have what it took to function properly. Or should I say, as all of the other Stranger mutual benefit societies that did badly had already fallen by the wayside, the greatest proof that Tsukimori-gumi was doing well was its continued existence?
After mulling it over a bit, I offered to accompany Oyabun on his nightly patrols, the ones where he would go around checking on stores under Tsukimori-gumi’s protection and picking up Strangers who needed help.
At first, Miyama-san voiced his disapproval while rubbing his double chin when I first brought it up. But after I easily lifted up the decorative boulder in the yard with a single hand (supported by telekinesis), he immediately did a 180. Supposedly, he had always been worrying about the boss of Tsukimori-gumi wandering the streets by all by himself every night. No matter how much muscle the boss had, having a “usable” guard accompany him would always be better than letting him go out alone.
Tsukimori of Tsukimori-gumi.
Was this man suitable for becoming a member of our dark secret organization? How was he leading an organization that, at a quick glance, appeared to have more than a hundred members?
I was going to shadow him, both to evaluate him and learn what I could from him.
Hey there, thanks for reading!
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 Leaders of yakuza groups are commonly referred to as “oyabun.”
2 Aside from the more commonly known “boke and tsukkomi” routine (ie. manzai), even in the absence of a boke, when something absurd or ridiculous happens, pointing it out in a way that provides comedic effect is called “tsukkomi”-ing whatever it is that’s happened. Remember this, it will be on the test (ie. I will be leaving “tsukkomi” as is in the text going forward.)
3 “Noja lolibaba” speak. First example that comes to mind is Shiroyasha from Mondaiji, go YT search it. I tried writing Old English for her lines in Vol 2, but I’m super bad at it, so no more of that lol.
5 “Gumi” means group. Yakuza groups are frequently named “something”-gumi.
6 Called ‘onigawara’, these are a type of tile ornamentation at the edge of roofs, generally depicting a Japanese ogre (oni) or some other scary-looking beast.