There Was No Secret Evil-Fighting Organization (srsly?!), So I Made One MYSELF!
Chapter 4: I Become “Yaku,” the Night
Volume 3: Tsukuyomi, the Dark Secret Organization
After we got back to Tsukimori-gumi and walked through the chorus of “Oyabun!”s, Oyabun retired inside the main mansion, dumping the task of explaining everything about Tanioka-gumi on Miyama-san, who was manning reception as always. Clearly, Oyabun was tired, both in the physical and the mental sense. Just how long has he been dealing with harassment from Tokyo’s biggest underworld influence?
After seeing him off, I turned towards Miyama-san, whose prominent stomach was jiggling from him bouncing his knee.
“Is it true that Tsukimori-gumi is going to go under within 3 months because of Tanioka-gumi, sir?”
“It’s true. And you can drop the ‘sir’ and stop using ‘-san.’ Didn’t Oyabun tell you? We’re a benefit society. Everyone’s equal, we have no hierarchies.”
So saying, Miyama placed a “I’m taking a break. Come again later.” placard on his table before picking up a guitar from the ground.
What’s the guitar for?
“You mind if I play while explaining?”
“Oh, sure, go ahead. You’re going to explain singsong-style with accompaniment?”
“Nah, I just play to de-stress. It used to be my dream to be a guitarist… oh, sorry, you aren’t here to listen to me talking about myself. So then, Tanioka-gumi. Where should I start?”
While plucking out a melody surprisingly delicate with his pudgy fingers, Miyama began his telling. Though soft, the song emanated a somewhat mirthful and peculiar mood.
Wait, he’s actually really good at it. Here I was, thinking him to be nothing more than a balding oji-san receptionist. Turns out you’re an amusing one too!
“Tanioka-gumi used to be a mid-tier yakuza group based in Tokyo. There’s one big reason for how they suddenly exploded in size: they managed to springboard themselves using the Super Water Sphere Incident.”
According to further explanation courtesy of Miyama, Tanioka-gumi had a pyramidal internal structure typical of yakuza gangs, with their own Oyabun on top, followed by a Young Head, then several officers, under which were the rest of the underlings. They used to own around 50 offices scattered all over the city, and were connected with a large number of external companies. When the Super Water Sphere Incident took place, they deftly took advantage of all the negative consequences that ensued to rapidly climb the underground society ladder. There were mainly 4 new kinds of businesses that supported this abrupt growth of theirs.
One, supernatural scams.
Almost immediately after the Super Water Sphere Incident, Tanioka-gumi launched superpower scams of impressive scale and variety. “This drug gives you superpowers!” “Let us take you on a tour of this power spot that can give you superpowers!” “We’re a research group that’s studying superpowers. Please support us with your donations!” “We have superpowers that are really effective at exorcising evil spirits!” “We can boost your luck with our superpowers!” There was even a medieval-sounding scam that claimed that “Our superpower enables us to convert iron into gold!” Sadly, there were a lot of people who fell for these scams. Because of the Incident, the number of people who believed in superpowers skyrocketed. Consequently, the number of victims also skyrocketed.
Although I knew 100% of the blame lay with those scammers, I couldn’t help feeling a slight pang of guilt in my heart. In my eyes, drugs and power spots that grant superpowers were nothing but mere jokes, but that was only because I was in the privileged position of knowing the full truth behind superpowers. For the average person who had no insider knowledge, these scams must have seemed convincing enough. According to some estimates, the accumulative worldwide loss from superpower-related scams had reached a staggering 1.2 trillion yen, or nearly 11.2 billion USD.
Two, land speculation.
Tokyo saw an enormous influx of immigrants, partly composed of those who believed Tokyo to be a power spot, and partly composed of those here to take advantage of the sudden economic boom. In any case, this obviously caused land prices in Tokyo to skyrocket. Having set their eyes on this, Tanioka-gumi went around threatening land owners, setting dobermans on land where the owner did not bow to threats, crashing dumpster trucks into restaurants, and basically doing whatever it took to force land owners to let go of their deeds. They then turned around and sold those properties at sky-high prices, netting enormous profit in the process. Apparently, these were all methods that had been used by the yakuza during the bubble economy era1, and the Tanioka-gumi guys were just taking pages out of that book.
This made me doubt the ability of the police for allowing past techniques — which, by nature of them being from the past, the police supposedly should have prepared countermeasures against — to be used once again with such efficacy. However, according to Miyama, supposedly the Tanioka-gumi guys sent members to make trouble in a ton of other places with the express intention of overloading the police’s handling capacity. They sure knew what they were doing.
Three, the taking in of Strangers.
Tanioka-gumi was coercing Strangers to join so as to use them as disposable pawns to perform all the dirty work, such as kidnapping, burglary, pickpocketing, stealing luggage from people, stealing things from cars, selling drugs, selling organs, illegally prostituting themselves2, poaching, and the like. These Strangers, who would be picked up starving and desperate, were taught only the bare minimum knowledge necessary before being sent out to perform their assigned roles. If they succeeded, then great. If they failed, they could be easily cut off. It wasn’t rare to also make them scapegoats for old crimes that other yakuza members were still wanted for, or to use them as decoys meant to be arrested by the police. Strangers’ illegal status made them very hard to help in a legal and aboveboard capacity, but extremely easy to exploit and take advantage of.
What made matters worse was that there was quite a percentage of Strangers who thought favorably of becoming gophers for yakuza.
After all, the Japanese government sure wasn’t protecting them. There was a limit to how much philanthropists like Oyabun could do. Although they almost certainly knew that destruction lay at the end of this path, Strangers in desperate need of food and shelter had no choice but to leap at the bait being dangled before their eyes.
Four, pretending to be the “good guys.”
Just like how self-protection goods had exploded in demand within this now crime-infested Tokyo, the demand for bodyguards had also exploded. And well, it just so happened that yakuza with scary, rugged faces were extremely suitable for this role. Apparently there were many companies that hired members of Tanioka-gumi without actually knowing their affiliation.
Protecting the very public order that they themselves destroyed? What a farce.
…Why did I feel a slight prick in my heart just now?
“With their dirty methods, Tanioka-gumi continued growing and growing, such that they now have around 20,000 members. They are now trying to absorb our sources of income and members as a part of their continuous efforts at expansion. From what I have heard, they are planning on riding this momentum to expand nationwide. With the money they’ve earned in Tokyo, they’ve apparently already made footholds in Osaka and Fukuoka.”
Miyama ended his telling with a bitter face, all while still plucking away at his guitar the entire time.
I see. The 800 members of Tsukimori-gumi, earning an honest living through selling dappo honey and high purity curry powder, pitted against a ravenous army 20,000-strong. Anyone can see how this match-up would end.
“All right, now I understand the circumstances. Just one question, though: how do you know so much about Tanioka-gumi? Did you send in a spy or something?”
“Oyabun once helped out this information broker called Lee. So now he sells us information for cheap.”
So information brokers really do exist?!
Is this really the real world? With yesterday and today combined, I think I’ve heard mention of professions that I thought only existed in fiction three times already!
“It’s not like we’re hiding it, but don’t purposely go around spreading the word that our group is in a tight spot. Well, that’s it for my explanation. You should probably go to sleep soon. You’re going out again tomorrow night, right?”
“Gotcha. By the way, that was a really nice song. What’s its name?”
“Lick me in the ass.”
“…I’m sorry, what?”
My brain refused to process the sudden request for several seconds. Why is he suddenly coming out of the closet here and now?
Seeing me slowly back up while covering my butt with my hands, Miyama laughed.
“The song’s name is ‘Lick me in the ass.’ It was written by Mozart.”
“Oi, don’t pull my leg. Like hell there’s a song with such a retarded name.”
“Here you go, the score.”
“…Damn, you weren’t lying. Seriously, Mozart?”
I couldn’t help but to chuckle after passing my eyes over the score that I was handed. I don’t know much about Mozart, but it had been my impression that he was just an ossan who wrote austere musical pieces. Turns out that he had a sense of humor, huh.
“It gave you a bit of a laugh, didn’t it? Life is full of tough situations, but don’t forget to laugh. Even those at the bottom of the barrel like us have the right to laugh. All right, that’s enough, off with you to bed.”
I grabbed a towel and set off on today’s journey to find an empty sleeping spot. Somehow, I felt like I had just figured out the author of one of Tsukimori-gumi’s three rules of “Don’t steal, go work, have fun”.
◇ ◇ ◇
“There’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a while now.”
After I slept the afternoon away, it was now once again nighttime. Just when I was waiting for Oyabun to come out to join him on his patrol, I suddenly got called to a room deep inside the main Tsukimori mansion. It was a tatami-matted room decorated with a hanging scroll, and on top of the tea table in the center of the room was a plate of kusamochi3 supposedly made by Baba and Chris. Miyama was there, again with his guitar, this time playing a rather sad-sounding song.
As soon as I sat down on the cushion placed next to Miyama and turned to face Oyabun, he opened his mouth and said in a grave tone,
“I’m thinking of surrendering to Tanioka-gumi while we still have some strength remaining.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me, Oyabun!”4
I reflexively shouted out loud in response to the unthinkable words that Oyabun had just uttered. It was a decision so frightening to even consider that it made me want to shout even after having had a bit of time to process it. And as a clincher, I felt like I might be picking up “You’ve got to be kidding me!” as a go-to phrase.
“They’re yakuza! Yakuza! Nothing good is gonna come out of us surrendering!”
“They’re saying that if we surrender now, they’ll let us become affiliated with them for half the usual protection fee.”
“Hah?! They’ve got to be kidding! Even if they meant it, there’s no guarantee that they won’t simply double it starting next month!”
When shown a weakness, it was the yakuza way to suck the very marrow from the bones of their enemies. Underestimating them could only end in tragedy. Chivalrous yakuza? Those died out ages ago, duh.
After listening to my outburst, Oyabun looked at Miyama, who had stayed silent this whole time.
“What’d I tell you? He has a proper head on his shoulders, this one. I bet you he graduated from a good university. Maybe a national5 one, even.”
“Oyabun, just because he can speak English well, it doesn’t automatically mean that he graduated from a national university. Though, well, if he can come up with an idea to get us out of our predicament, then I don’t really care if he’s actually a middle school graduate or if he’s really lost his memories.”
“Sorry for having tested you. Well, that’s what’s up, so lend us your wisdom.”
So saying, Oyabun lowered his head towards me.
“Eh…? Um, so… basically, at this rate, we will have no choice but to surrender, so you want me to help brainstorm ideas together?”
“You really do catch on quick. That’s right. Miyama, explain.”
“Aye, aye, Oyabun. All right, let me give you the full rundown on how dire our situation is.”
To sum up what Miyama — who had pretty much turned into an expository character at this point — said, Tsukimori-gumi was pretty much checkmated.
Oyabun, who used to be a multimillionaire, now only had around 200,000 yen left in his account. To make matters worse, this was after he had already taken out a loan with the Tsukimori residence as collateral. If he could not repay this loan within the next 3 months, the property would be seized and all of us would have to clear out of the place. Due to all the interference from Tanioka-gumi, almost all of Tsukimori-gumi’s businesses were constantly in the red. Let alone repaying the debt, we were still bleeding money as of this very moment.
We could not go to the police. In the first place, Tsukimori-gumi was a gathering of illegal overstayers. If the police were to get involved, it would be to arrest us all, not to help.
Taking the law into our own hands wasn’t even on the docket. After all, our opponent was a 20,000-strong armed organization. If we brought the fight to them, we’d lose in a split second. Oyabun had been going around resisting what Tanioka-gumi members were doing — like how he saved Baba, Chris, and me — but that was nothing more than a drop in a bucket. Negotiation was also impossible. Tanioka-gumi was in a position of absolute advantage by all accounts. There wasn’t a single thing that we had over them, and so they had no reason to come to the negotiating table.
If we fought, we’d lose.
If we surrendered, we’d be sucked dry of all that we had and then discarded.
If we did nothing, we’d run out of money and suffocate to death.
Death was waiting for us, regardless of whether we chose to fight, to run, or to hunker down.
So then, what path is there to take? Such was the predicament we were in.
“Can we ally with other Stranger benefit societies?”
“All of them have either gone under or have already been absorbed by Tanioka-gumi.”
“How about dissolving our organization and starting over?”
“We are based on this mansion, so doing that wouldn’t change anything. And just saying, we don’t have anywhere else to go.”
“Then… write an exposé about our current situation and appeal to the public at large for aid.”
“Have you forgotten how anti-Stranger general opinion is? If asked to choose, the public would probably prefer that we disappear.”
Dammit, batter Miyama is hitting all my ideas back at me. I don’t think I can live up to the high expectations these two seem to have of me. I’m not brilliant enough to suddenly come up with a brilliant idea that can overcome all the time that these two had surely spent wracking their own brains.
So, what, we really are checkmated?
Should I just go crush Tanioka-gumi with telekinesis?
…No, that won’t work. I mean, if it’s just a matter of destroying the organization itself, then I can do that in a day, easy. But doing so would only result in releasing 20,000 leaderless hoodlums onto the streets.
In the first place, me resolving things with telekinesis still wouldn’t be addressing the root of the problem. It would be effective in the short term, but then a second or third Tanioka-gumi would rise up, and history would simply repeat itself. There’d be no meaning in me deus ex machina-ing this problem. Tsukimori-gumi has to stand up with its own strength and become capable of protecting itself.
In this way, Oyabun’s insistence on Tsukimori-gumi members finding work to support themselves is truly the right thing to do. Support in the form of money or goods will run out some day.
We are short on time. Or rather, time is on Tanioka-gumi’s side.
Oyabun’s suggestion to surrender to Tanioka-gumi while we still have some strength so as to negotiate even slightly better terms for ourselves is definitely the correct choice if we are to be realistic.
If we are to be realistic, that is.
Realistic. Realism. Reality.
There it was again.
Just how many times was this shitty reality going to stand in front of me.
By some astronomical coincidence, such an amusing cast had gathered together within this group that is Tsukimori-gumi. And yet cruel, sordid reality is about to beat them down and rip them apart.
Like hell I’ll take this loss.
I won’t let them lose.
I won’t let them lose.
There are dreams in this world. There is hope. I won’t let anyone say otherwise.
So if there isn’t any, I simply have to make it myself.
I will make everything myself.
A clutch victory!
A story of persistence and fortitude!
So if these people don’t have the power to stand up…
THEN I’LL GIVE THEM THAT POWER!
In a tiny voice, I murmured, “I want to give Oyabun and Miyama superpowers.”
Baba’s ears twitched. From her perch on top of the tiled roof of the wall encircling the Tsukimori residence, she briefly paused teaching Chris how to fold origami shuriken to make a small ‘ok’ sign with a hand.
All right, that’s the green light.
Let’s get this show on the road.
“Okay, then let’s do this. It’s my last resort. Truth is, I’m an esper, and I can tell that Oyabun and Miyama both possess the Seed of a superpower. I’ll help you two awaken your respective powers and train it up, then go beat up Tanioka-gumi together.”
“We don’t need that sort of thing right now. Got any other ideas?”
Miyama glossed over my words like they were nothing. Judging by his expression, he was thoroughly convinced that it was a lie.
By now, he must have heard similar words several dozen, no, maybe even several hundreds of times. That wariness of his that enabled him to quickly deal with it and move on was, in fact, quite applaudable.
This time, however, things were not the same.
“I’m not lying. Look.”
I telepathically lifted the kusamochi on the table, then drew circles with them in the air. As Oyabun widened his eyes in dumbfounded astonishment, Miyama jabbed the finger that had just messed up a chord at the flying confectionary.
“HAAAH?! I-Is this real? It can’t be!”
“It really is real. I kept it a secret so far for fear of being caught and thrown into a lab for experimentation or something.”
I then lifted Oyabun, who looked like he was still trying to process what was occuring, into the air.
Miyama’s head furiously kept looking between me and the floating man who was confused out of his wits.
“What’s with you? What’s with you?! That’s, huh?! Superpower? Superpower?! What, so you’re Freezing Knight? …Wait, no, you’re not using ice. Your power is invisible? YOU’RE INVISIBLE TITAN?!”
“Uh, as I said, I don’t remember anything, so, beats me.”
Seeing how Oyabun had closed his eyes and huddled into himself from the bizarre experience of suddenly being lifted into the air and floating around, I finally set him back down on the tatami floor.
“I understand your surprise, but listen to me. To put things simply, we’ll just take the meathead approach. We will use superpowers to retaliate against Tanioka-gumi. If they have knives and handguns, then we have superpowers. Depending on how smartly we do this, we can really throw a wrench in their plans without giving away our own identities. It is not illegal to use superpowers. There is no law defining superpowers as a weapon. If Tanioka-gumi thinks they can use violence to force us to do what they want, then we’ll respond with superpowers. So, what do you two think?”
Oyabun and Miyama stared at me so hard that it seemed a hole might open up in me. Silence enveloped the room.
After a while, Oyabun finally opened his mouth.
“I’ve already spent way too much time trying to think of a way to peacefully settle things with Tanioka-gumi. They are the ones who kicked us first, and the law won’t protect us. We have to protect ourselves. If violence is necessary for that to happen, then we have to do what we have to do. An eye for an eye, fight fire with fire. Miyama, your thoughts?”
“Aye, aye, Oyabun. So, that, uh, Seed? Does anyone and everyone have it?”
“Yes, well, it lies dormant inside quite a lot of people. But those who have it partially awakened are super rare, let alone fully awakened.”
“That so… well, in any case, it’s decided then. Oyabun, you, and I will retaliate against Tanioka-gumi with superpowers. We will need to plan out specifically how we’re going to go about doing that. But for now…”
Miyama coolly ran a hand through his balding fringe and delivered his next line in an affected tone.
“Let’s decide on a name. For our anti-Tanioka-gumi supernatural squad.”
“A name? Is that necessary?”
“Having one would be more convenient, and would make things more fun. After so long, we finally have a grain of hope, so let’s enjoy it to the utmost. Let me see, our three names are Tsukimori Tsuyoshi (月守剛), Miyama Kyousuke (見山響介), and… dude, we don’t know your name.”
It’s Sago. But I can’t say that. Cus I’ve lost my memories.
But it is true that I can’t keep going on just being referred to as “you,” “dude,” and “Aniki.” I was also thinking that it was about time to give myself a name. But what should I make it?
Out of curiosity, I telekinetically checked on Baba, who just happened to mutter something under her breath while grinning mischievously.
Ohhh, I see! That’s brilliant!
Thanks, I’ll take that idea.
“I’ve decided. My last name will be ‘Yaku,’ written with ‘夜久,’ the characters for ‘eternal night.’ So when we put the first character of all our last names together like ‘月夜見’… we get ‘Tsukuyomi.’”
In this way, the dark secret organization that would command darkness with darkness, Tsukuyomi6, was finally born.
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.
5 Universities in Japan are largely classified between national, public, and private. As Wikipedia puts it, “National universities tend to be held in higher regard in higher education in Japan than private or public universities.”
6 Tsukuyomi is a sibling of Amaterasu. Whereas Amaterasu is the goddess of the sun, Tsukuyomi is the god of the moon.