There Was No Secret Evil-Fighting Organization (srsly?!), So I Made One MYSELF!
Chapter 8: Tanioka-gumi’s Counterattack
Volume 3: Tsukuyomi, the Dark Secret Organization
Because most of the visitors came bearing get-well gifts, the room was so buried that even the bed itself was being invaded. In addition to the more common items like books, accessories, pressed flowers, fruits, toys, and calendars, Baba even brought in a splendid-looking potted plant. As potted plants carry an implication of the illness “taking root” in Japanese, they are considered inappropriate as a get-well gift. However, Baba apparently had yet to grasp such detailed customs. That said, let alone Japan, this was only her second year in our world, so she probably deserved a pass.
In the first place, the selection of gifts was already a mess due to everybody bringing things in accordance to their own culture. There was even a guy who brought in cheap alcohol. Who gives alcohol to a recuperating patient anyways?! Instead of this being a matter of having different cultural values, I had a feeling a lot of them just didn’t have common sense at all, but well, Strangers were basically those who came to Japan in pursuit of what laid beyond common sense.
If we had instantaneously healed Oyabun with a healing-type PSI drive, there wouldn’t have been all the commotion with the visitations, but Oyabun himself rejected the usage of the metallic-colored artifact in the shape of a monkey’s paw that Baba had smuggled in. As he put it, “Something that potent should be saved for a fatal injury!”
I had nothing to say in response to that.
The war between Tsukuyomi and Tanioka-gumi was half a set up. I would take care to select the most appropriate targets and secretly use telekinesis to prevent things from getting out of hand. However, Oyabun, Miyama, and Chris had no way of knowing this, and so they fought every battle with the resolve to die, and the yakuza came at us with full intention to kill.
The fuel that powered healing-type PSI drives was Ig’s blood, and Ig was a palm-sized monkey that could provide only a very limited amount of blood. On top of that, the blood that fueled PSI drives would deteriorate three months after extraction and become unusable. That made healing-type PSI drives actually very valuable.
In Oyabun’s case, it wasn’t as if there were going to be any lasting symptoms, and there was no particular need to push him to move again in a hurry. As such, his admonition to save it for a more severe case was absolutely the right call. Injuries that DD could handle, should best be left for DD to handle. Our fight was far from over, and there was no telling when we would have someone on the verge of death and in dire need of a miracle.
Incidentally, although DD didn’t have a medical license, his medical skills were exemplary. And while DD performed surgery on Oyabun, something unexpected occurred.
There was no better way to put it than “temporary acquisition of superpowers through blood transfusion.”
As Oyabun had made it back to the Tsukimori residence with bullet holes all over, he had ended up losing quite a bit of blood. Oyabun, Miyama, and I were Type B, Chris was Type A, and Baba wasn’t even human, so it fell on Miyama and me to share some of our blood. Miyama’s blood was used first, but then an issue occurred: Oyabun started emitting what sounded like static from a radio with bad reception.
DD almost jumped out of his skin. There was no radio nor TV in the surgery room. In spite of that, Oyabun himself had turned into a static radio. Talk about paranormal phenomena.
However, this was where DD’s quick mind kicked into play. Upon realizing that nothing else was happening except for the sound, he immediately calmed back down. As he continued with the surgery, it became clear that the volume of the sound was proportional to the amount of Miyama’s blood being transfused. Furthermore, when he stopped the transfusion, the sound that Oyabun was emitting would grow softer with time. From this, he deduced that it was the blood that was turning Oyabun into a radio, and that the effect would go away with time. His final conclusion was: no adverse effect on the medical procedure.
How was he able to stay that freaking calm while experiencing what was clearly a supernatural phenomenon? Guess all Strangers really do have a screw or two loose in their heads.
Miyama had actually, for a while now, been donating to the blood bank that DD was maintaining. However, none of the other patients who had received his blood thus far had become a human radio.
The most obvious difference between Oyabun and those patients was whether they were an esper or not.
In other words, it was when an esper received the blood of another esper that the one who received the transfusion would temporarily gain the powers of the blood donor. Judging by how Oyabun had sounded like a broken radio, it seemed reasonable to assume that the acquired powers would be in an uncontrollable state. As a test, we took a little bit of blood from Oyabun and injected it into Miyama, which ended up turning him into a really active fatty for the next three minutes. He ultimately ended up jumping so hard that his head crashed through the ceiling. As a control, we also tried injecting a bit of Oyabun’s blood into a normal Tsukimori-gumi member, but nothing happened. As such, we were sure of the conclusion we had arrived at. The reason why normal people could not manifest superpowers was probably because they didn’t have a receptacle for it, if I had to venture a guess.
We invited an expert on the usage of espers’ blood, a certain Ms. BBA (temp name), to ask her opinion on the matter, and got “Yea, I can see that happening” in response. Considering how it was blood that fueled all the PSI drives, it kind of made sense that transfusing blood could also lead to the temporary transfusion of powers.
Although being able to deal away with machinery as complicated as the PSI drive was definitely a convenience, this method was bound by numerous restrictions, such as the need to inject the blood as opposed to drinking it, the need to still follow rules regarding the compatibility between blood types1, and that the powers gained through this method only lasted for several to several dozen minutes. As such, transfusion wasn’t exactly a clear improvement over the PSI drive.
When I first heard about this, I got a ton of ideas inside my head — such as awakening powers in new people through transfusion and becoming an esper with multiple powers — but real life wasn’t as easy as that. Temporarily gaining powers by injecting someone else’s blood carried all the risks that doing dangerous drugs carried. There is a “right” way to do injections; when amateurs do it, they could give the recipient an infection, or worst case, introduce an air bubble into the recipient’s blood vessel that could turn into an embolism that ultimately ends up killing the recipient.
No way in hell was I going to be the most powerful esper ever — with the power to destroy stars and planets — who ends up dying from an air embolism caused by self-injection. Even the thought scares me…
In short, although we had discovered something new about superpowers, this information did not seem like it would come in all that handy. Just in case, though, I did report this to Kaburagi-san via telekinetic comms.
In any case, I was left with quite a bit of free time thanks to Oyabun being bedridden. Assaulting Tanioka-gumi offices without Oyabun was too tall an order. As such, our raids were on hold for a while.
Thanks to us, Tsukuyomi, messing so much with Tanioka-gumi, it was as if a fresh breath of life had blown through Tsukimori-gumi.
Having seized back all the money that Tanioka-gumi had stolen from us under made-up pretenses, we successfully repaid all our debts, fixed all our broken tents, and reverted our downgraded food hand-outs to normal quality. Due to all members of Tanioka-gumi going red at the eyes searching high and low for the assailants who had so one-sidedly given them a pounding and dragged their reputation through the mud, the shops under Tsukimori-gumi’s affiliation saw no more harassment. The overall financial state of our group was finally getting on track.
A large part of that was thanks to the success of the two new ideas for making money that Baba came up with.
First was the selling of toys for adults. We turned empty cans into robot models that could transform and merge2 and sold them for ¥30k each, a price far beyond the reach of children.
Our production cost itself was ¥0. We gathered several members with deft hands and assigned them each a different part to work with, with Baba overseeing everything. When we left a few of them at model stores, they turned out to be a huge hit with both the store owners and the customers. Supposedly, they perfectly clinched an exotic ambience that really brought the whole SF feel to life. As someone who had come from an actual SF world, Baba’s sense of aesthetics was now showing its true worth.
The other was the selling of illicitly brewed alcohol. Mix our special honey with water and let it sit for 1 to 2 weeks, then lo and behold! It becomes mead! Add in a little bit of dappo herb3 and Baba’s carefully selected yeast, then we have ourselves a golden yellow ambrosia with a taste so heavenly that it shakes the drinker’s very senses. Through the connections of a certain duchess and various CEOs, we managed to distribute these to super high-class restaurants at an eye-popping ¥500k per bottle. Whenever I thought back to how the production cost was only ¥1k and that the production process mainly consisted of doing absolutely nothing to it for 10 days, I couldn’t hold back my laughter. Aside from the fact that it was in brazen defiance of the liquor tax law, this was a brilliant scheme.
If someone was discovered to be brewing alcohol with more than 1% alcohol content without the appropriate license, they could be subjected to up to 10 years of imprisonment and or a fine of up to ¥1M, and all their finished products, yeast, fermenting mash, ingredients, byproducts, machinery, equipment, and containers would be summarily confiscated. It was a very strict law.
One might think, then why didn’t we just acquire the appropriate Liquor Manufacturing License before doing this? Well, Strangers were by definition illegal overstayers, and thus obviously ineligible to apply. Oyabun and Miyama were full Japanese citizens, but both of them had prior records, and therefore would not pass the background check. That left us with no other choice but to do it illegally. Our heads would fly if we were found out, but breaking the law was hardly anything new to us at this point.
As an aside, during the process of developing our mead, Baba munched on a whole bunch of really expensive herbs without knowing what they were and ended up getting locked up in a closet for a whole day as punishment. I’ve seen her randomly pick leaves off roadside shrubbery and munching on those too… what, would she die if she didn’t have something in her mouth at all times? What are you, an herbivore animal?
◇ ◇ ◇
As it turned out, Oyabun’s mukimukin also boosted his rate of recovery. DD’s original estimate was that it would take 2 months for Oyabun to make a full recovery, but he was capable of moving on the 5th day and was already walking around the place by the end of the week.
Good tidings indeed.
As for bad tidings, Tanioka-gumi figured out that Oyabun was Tombstone Man. Sure, he had hidden his face, and he had used the tombstone thing to divert their attention, but eight raids later and with the coincidence of “macho man” who’s “recuperating” after the fierce shoot-out who “belongs to an organization at odds with Tanioka-gumi”, it was hardly rocket science to connect the dots.
It was as if Obon4 and a funeral both came at the same time.
Naturally, I didn’t think we were going to be able to keep it a secret forever. This, however, was much earlier than I’d expected.
Those who become yakuza were, generally, people who couldn’t study and could not assimilate as a normal member of society. To put it bluntly, they were idiots. There was even a real story about a yakuza member who heard that his boss had been attacked and thus ran around a whole day and night seeking revenge without actually knowing the assailant’s name nor affiliation. That was how idiotic they were.
Therefore, my plan was for Tanioka-gumi to figure out our identities when we had them in a corner, at which point we could just rush the rest of their bases and deliver the coup de grâce. As it turned out, however, there were still a few people with intelligence among the idiots.
Then again, thinking about it, they wouldn’t be able to operate as an organization if everybody in it was an absolute idiot. Just like the officer yakuza who showed up in our last raid, apparently at least some of their officers had at least a few brain cells inside their head.
After figuring out Tombstone Man’s identity, Tanioka-gumi immediately declared Tsukimori-gumi — as Oyabun’s organization — an enemy, then came at us harder and stronger than before. They were no longer looking to harass us, but to make us pay.
Although they didn’t go so far as to indiscriminately kill everybody, kidnapping and violence became the norm. There was even a case of drenching one of our stores in gasoline and setting it ablaze.
Under Tanioka-gumi’s terrible assault, Tsukimori-gumi split into two.
Namely, into a “run away” group, and a “let’s stand and fight” group.
Strangers were, generally, illegal overstayers, and thus could not assimilate into normal society either. To put it bluntly, they were criminals. Oyabun had still reached out a hand to these criminals, dug money out from his own pocket and literally put his own life on the line for them. Those who, in spite of all they’d received, turned tail and ran away at the first sign of trouble turned out to be around 20% of the Tsukimori-gumi members.
Of course, being kidnapped was frightening, and suffering violence and arson was no walk in the park either. Wanting to run away was only natural. Actually running away, however, would be to discard one’s humanity. When they had arrived in Japan without a plan and found themselves starving on the streets as a result of merely reaping what they themselves had sown, warm soup had been offered to them. When they were threatened by criminal organizations, Oyabun had personally stepped forward to protect them. Now, however, they had forgotten the taste of that soup and the sight of Oyabun’s back as soon as it grew inconvenient for them.
Tsukimori-gumi was a mutual benefit society. Those who single-sidedly receive aid and then run away immediately as danger approached had no right to be a part of the society. Oyabun warned everyone to not chase those who wanted to leave, and Miyama crossed their names off of the ledger.
On the other hand, the 80% who did not run away hardened their resolve and readied themselves for all-out battle. There was no other way for them to survive, and they owed Oyabun far too much to not do so.
Tsukimori-gumi was the home for Strangers who otherwise had no other place of refuge. Even if they were to run away from this home, they would have nowhere to go to. Strangers might not have the brains to plan things out carefully, but their ability to take action easily surpassed the average person.
Tsukimori-gumi with a hardened resolve was a force to reckon with. Taking up frying pans, flowerpots, empty sake bottles, and whatever else was on hand, they resisted Tanioka-gumi’s violence with everything they had. Those who had nothing, used their fists. Those who couldn’t use their fists, used their feet. Those who couldn’t do that either bit with their teeth.
The underlings of Tanioka-gumi, who were looking forward to having fun bullying who they thought to be mere weaklings, were extremely unsettled at the unexpected resistance. On one side were the Strangers, desperate to protect their new home and willing to fight to the last man standing. On the other side were the yakuza underlings who only knew how to borrow the authority of their yakuza crest and throw their weight around. The difference in morale was all too plain to see. Even Hanna-obaa-chan (62 y/o) from a cultural arts and crafts store answered a yakuza who got in her face growling “You wanna get punched?” by planting her own fist into the man’s face.
As for what I was doing… I was half-dead running my telekinesis at full operation supporting the resistance.
Slugfest there, kidnapping here, gunfight over there.
Due to clashes between Tanioka-gumi and Tsukimori-gumi occurring all over the entirety of Tokyo, I was forced to suffer a workload even heavier than what I was dealing with during my days working as a corporate slave in a black company.
Baba and I holed up in a room inside the Tsukimori residence, where we spread out a large map of Tokyo and laid a ton of pawns. Based on the information we bought from Lee at a high price, Baba figured out what was happening where, and I then sent my telekinesis over to provide whatever support was necessary.
In the east was someone on the ground who had gotten stabbed, so I stopped the bleeding and called an ambulance.
In the west was someone who had gotten kidnapped, so I made the kidnappers’ car “malfunction” and automatically drive itself to the closest police station.
In the south was an overly enthusiastic person who was about to storm a Tanioka-gumi office all by his lonesome, so I made a meteorite suddenly fall in front of him to scare him into going back home.
In the north was someone who was just about to be tortured, so I broke every one of the torturer’s fingers and undid the victim’s bindings.
Hitmen who approached the Tsukimori residence aiming to take Oyabun’s life were all forced to turn back upon suffering a sudden and severe pinching pain inside their stomach (likely caused by nerves or stress or something like that, yep!).
I downed coffee like water and continued using my telekinesis even while going to the toilet and eating. Just when I thought I could catch some shut-eye, Baba would pat me awake for another emergency. I didn’t even have time to take a shower.
The resolution to stand firm against a criminal organization without superpowers nor any fighting experience was indeed admirable. That said, I was so close to dying from overwork that I honestly wished they’d all give it a break.
Chivalrous(?) yakuza stands up against fiendish yakuza! If this was the title of a movie or a novel, I might have picked it up right away.
The reality, however, was that if I hadn’t been there, the number of dead and injured would have climbed up to make a small mountain on this single-trip journey to hell. Each day on average saw 2 arson cases, 3 shoot-outs, 8 stabbings, 12 kidnappings, plus some random other things thrown in seemingly for shits and giggles. Part of me wanted to scream at the police to do their job, but another part of me also understood that the police also had their hands full with other cases unrelated to the Tanioka/Tsukimori war. The previous big gunfight had already forced them to divert manpower setting up a special investigative team, so I really wasn’t in a position to ask anymore from them.
In any case.
Tanioka-gumi: 20,000 members.
Tsukimori-gumi (after subtracting the deserters): slightly under 600 members.
The difference in numbers was more than 30-fold. There wasn’t even a sliver of a chance at victory. Having destroyed eight of their offices did not amount to much in the overall scheme of things. That was why I established Tsukuyomi with the intention of slowly whittling them down in the first place!
The one saving grace was that — after having been led around the nose and beaten up and disgraced so badly by Tsukuyomi — Tanioka-gumi’s focus lay solely on “squaring the books.”
Because of their dogged insistence on finishing Oyabun and crushing Tsukimori-gumi with their own hands, Tanioka-gumi did not leak Tombstone Man’s identity to the police. Though even if they did, whether the police would have believed them or not was doubtful in and of itself. As such, the secret organization Tsukuyomi remained a secret organization. Even if it was more like an open secret, but still.
My public appearance was as an ordinary ojisan with amnesia. My secret identity was as the Telekinetic Bastard who was capable of lifting one or two people at most using telekinesis. Without Oyabun returning to serve as our main fighting force, we did not have the strength to launch a counteroffensive. The devil’s whisper to just “screw them all and mow everything down with telekinesis!” refused to leave my ear, but I couldn’t bring myself to end everything in such an abrupt and sloppy manner after having come this far.
I’m begging you, please recuperate faster!!
Before I die of overwork!!!
◇ ◇ ◇
“I’m Koyabashi Haruki! I’m a high school third year! Sir! Please accept me as an underling! I’m begging you!”
The words I directed at the brown-haired kid bowing before me were from the very bottom of my heart.
This was right before the party we were going to host to celebrate Oyabun’s full recovery. A young man with hair dyed the color of shimeji mushrooms nervously crossed the Tsukimori residence’s threshold. Miyama just happened to be out buying stuff, so I was directing the setting up of the decorations in his place. Probably having taken me as someone in charge, the guy made a beeline straight for me and immediately lowered his head.
“We’re a Stranger mutual benefit society, not a yakuza gang. We have no need for underlings.”
“But I heard about how you aren’t retreating an inch against Tanioka-gumi! I look up to you guys like you wouldn’t believe! Please take me in, I’ll do anything you ask!”
Dude, were you listening? I just said we’re a Stranger mutual benefit society. And we’re not yakuza. This is no place for a Japanese high school student to be. Go home.
On a side note, the Tanioka/Tsukimori struggle is so well-known that even high schoolers have heard of it?
In any case, Oyabun finally recovered in full and I am finally getting some desperately-needed reprieve from my two weeks of hell, so don’t you dare bring in anymore trouble. It is now the start of Yaku’s relaxation time, so please be a good boy and let me rest. Pretty please with a cherry on top.
“If you’ll do anything, then go back home. I’m too tired.”
“Oh! Did you perhaps just get back from a fight?!”
“Like hell I did. Seriously, just go home already. What time do you think it is already?”
I’m not “back” from a fight, the fights are still going on. Even now. Just five seconds ago, I caused a gas leak at Tanioka-gumi’s Shinjuku branch to break up a meeting where they were discussing a raid on the Tsukimori residence. I’m so tired.
…Well, I’ll give you kudos for proactively trying to get involved in the extraordinary on your own accord. Your ability to take action is rather admirable. However, I simply don’t have the leisure of dealing with you right now.
As Kobayashi-kun and I continued our meaningless back-and-forth of me trying to turn him away and him not willing to back down, Oyabun came out from the main residence to the lawn amidst a thunderous chorus of party crackers going off. I also hurriedly pulled the string of my cracker, which went off a beat later than the rest.
As Oyabun responded to the delighted shouts of “Oyabun!” in various dialects by smiling and waving his hand, Koyabashi-kun nervously approached him by moving his hands and legs in unison, then dove into a dogeza.
“Oyabun! Please accept me as an underling! I’m your man, Kobayashi Haruki! This is my request of a lifetime!”
Kobayashi-kun’s once-in-a-life dogeza went largely unnoticed by everyone aside from Oyabun. His words were almost completely buried under the rowdy drinking, singing, and dancing that had broken out immediately after the party crackers had gone off.
While giving the kids that were laughing, screaming, running around him rides on his shoulders, Oyabun got on his knees before Kobayashi-kun and made him raise his head. Belying his scary, rugged face, Oyabun adopted a kind and gentle tone.
“This is not the place for a man to use his request of a lifetime. Why do you want to enter Tsukimori-gumi? Tell me.”
Seeing how Oyabun didn’t reject him out of hand, Kobayashi-kun frankly explained his circumstances. To sum things up, he was sick of his parents harping on him to succeed the family business, so he ran out of the house to join under the Oyabun of Tsukimori-gumi, a man rumored to be a super big shot overflowing with manliness.
Choosing to barge right into a yakuza’s (not that we are yakuza; we are not!) main headquarters instead of going to a friend’s or a relative’s house while running away from home? This guy at least has guts, I’ll give him that.
I was quite impressed, but Oyabun looked quite displeased.
“You. Why are you in a place like this? Go back home right now.”
“Your parents are waiting for you at home, right? You have a place to go back to, right? You can go back, right? Then go back.”
“Uh, wha-, but, I mean, that place is not my home! Please let me stay here!”
“No can do. Did your parents kick you out of the house?”
“They didn’t. But still—”
“If they didn’t, then go home now. Go back and talk it out with your parents again. Hit them with what you really think, with all the sincerity you can muster. If your parents really do kick you out of the house because of that and you really don’t have anywhere else to go, that is when this place can be your — Kobayashi Haruki’s — home.”
“If you understand, then go.”
After being patted on the head by Oyabun’s big hands, Kobayashi-kun nodded with tears in his eyes, got up and bowed deeply, then left.
While seeing him off, Oyabun gave me an elbow jab.
“C’mon Yaku, turn guys like that right around. Those who can return to an ordinary life should be made to return. Don’t let them fall into this pit of rejects together with the rest of us.”
Leaving behind those heartfelt words, Oyabun then strolled off to join the ruckus with children still riding on his shoulders.
I stared at his receding back, completely floored.
The fourth precept of Tsukuyomi was “Light to light, darkness to darkness!” At the time, I simply thought of it as a cool-sounding phrase. This was the moment when it really hit home for me.
Bringing those tired and bored of ordinary life into the world of the extraordinary was my creed.
In contrast, keeping those living an ordinary life within the world of the ordinary as much as possible was Oyabun’s creed. Surely this was formed by all the negative aspects that he had seen in people who had fallen through the cracks of society and were suffering from being unable to return.
There was me, suffering in the ordinary world and in search of the extraordinary.
There was Oyabun, suffering in the extraordinary world and in search of the ordinary.
We were at odds with each other at a very fundamental level.
I greatly respected Oyabun, and I thought of him as a close friend. If I wasn’t entirely off the mark, Oyabun also respected me and thought of me as a friend in turn.
However, although we were currently facing the same enemy and walking the same path, there will come a day where we will part company with each other.
That was the premonition that I had.
……No, admitting an inauspicious premonition makes it seem that much more likely to come true.
Scratch what I said.
I have no premonition about any partings whatsoever.
There will only be happy frolicking in my inauspicious premonition!
I have an!!
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 Blood type A can donate to A and AB. Blood type B can donate to B and AB. Blood type AB can donate to only AB. Blood type O can donate to everyone.
2 “Hen~shin!” and “Gattai!”
3 Mentioned in a previous chapter with the dappo honey they were dealing. Basically, it’s mixed with a bunch of, um, substances, that makes the consumer, er, “feel really good.”
4 Basically, the Japanese festival for dead spirits.