There Was No Secret Evil-Fighting Organization (srsly?!), So I Made One MYSELF!
Chapter 10: The Ultimate Power of Light and Darkness Joining Forces
Volume 4: The Newly-Built Ancient Ruins
“Kaburagi-san, a moment, please.”
I requested that Kaburagi-san stop time so that we could talk about what was going on. This was supposed to be a race, and yet the two sides were about to join hands. We had to stop it from happening.
“I want to break them back up. How can we do that?”
“The reason being…?”
“If they help each other, then clearing the dungeon would be a breeze. That’d be boring. For us and for them.”
The difficulty level of all of the gimmicks that we had set up — including the traps, the puzzles, and the mutant World Shadows — were tailored for groups of two. If all four traveled together as a group, everything would become far too easy.
Kaburagi-san tilted her head in puzzlement.
“Could it be that you had not anticipated them deciding to work together?”
“Uh, you did?”
“Of course I did. We had a whole six months to prepare, after all. Don’t worry, I have everything under control. No matter what happens, I’ll take care of it.”
I felt incredibly reassured by Kaburagi-san’s confident tone. I knew I could count on her. Gold standard. 100% would rely on again.
If we had had her help during everything that happened during the founding of Tsukuyomi, things would have gone so much easier. I know, there were all those reasons why it wasn’t possible, but I just couldn’t help thinking about it.
“There’s only one Artifact, so they will still be scrambling for it in the end.”
“I mean, yes, but, the traps… They’ll break through everything we prepared like stealing candy from a baby.”
“Mhm, they sure will.”
“I worked so hard on them though…”
“It’s too bad about the traps, but in exchange, their conversation will be very entertaining. I personally really like this route.”
“Rather than explaining it, I think it’d be better to just see it for yourself. I’m restoring time now.”
Time returned to normal, and the negotiations between Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi resumed. I didn’t quite get it yet, but Kaburagi-san’s word was more than good enough for me. Honestly speaking, I’d been really hoping for them to go the Opposition Route, but all right, let’s see how the Cooperation Route plays out.
“You can read the future? Really. Okay, then guess what I’m going to say next.”
“Uh, I can’t now. I’m, like, tired.”
“Hah! I knew it!”
Shouta-kun laughed scornfully and started freezing Chris, starting with the edge of her ninja costume. The ninja, who had been driven to the figurative wall, backed up against the literal cave wall and broke down, confessing everything.
“Just kidding just kidding just kidding sorry for lying I actually need Miya—Fatty’s help to pull it off it’s really tiring to read the future so I can’t use it without Fatty’s music because when I listen to his music I won’t get tired using my superpower and so that’s why I can’t read the future now!!!”
Shouta-kun slowly drew close to Chris after she gave everything up in her panic. He peered into her eyes through her mask as he placed a freezing hand on her throat.
“And that’s the truth? I can tell if you’re lying by looking at your eyes, you know?”
Chris gulped audibly.
Ooo, Shouta-kun is totally pulling one over her! Looks like he’s putting those interrogation lessons he got from Kuma-san to good use!
“It’s the truth, it’s the full truth! I’m not lying anymore! I’m telling the truth this time! I won’t lie anymore! I swear!”
“You’re just saying that to backstab us again three seconds later, right? Maybe I really should turn you into an ice statue after all.”
Just as Shouta-kun was about to corner Chris even further, Touka-chan, who was stroking Miyama’s back and helping him drink water, stopped him.
She then turned to look straight at Chris.
“If she really can read the future, then her help would be invaluable. Our comms have died, so we need all the information that we can get. There’s no telling what’s waiting for us in these ruins.”
“Even if they agree to help us, they’ll definitely betray us again down the road. After saying ‘Everyone who puts Worcestershire sauce1 on their sunny-side-up eggs ought to die!’ or some other bullshit like that.”
“We won’t say that! Uh, I actually do prefer Worcestershire sauce on my eggs!”
“A heretic, I see. Guess I have no choice but to execute you.”
Shouta-kun’s low growl caused even me to jump a little. Mental note to self: never put sauce on my eggs in front of him. Though I’m sure he’s just joking… right?
Touka-chan had a slightly exasperated look on her face as she pulled her fully suspicious partner back and retrieved a statue of Buddha from her backpack.
“Why’re you bullying them? It’s a simple matter, isn’t it? All we need to do is make them swear in front of Buddha. Ninja-san, Fatty-san. If you are serious about cooperating with us, swear to Buddha that you will not tell a single lie and that you will be sincere in your cooperation until we leave these ruins.”
No one could see what face Touka-chan was making, hidden as it was behind a mask and in the depths of a hood, but she was exuding the tranquil aura characteristic of someone of the cloth.
She went there, huh. Now what’re you doing to do, Tsukuyomi? If you carelessly swear this and break your word later on, Touka-chan will flip her shit and —
“Yes, I swear! I will not lie anymore. I will cooperate sincerely. I ple— We pledge the following!”2
“To fully display the efforts of our daily training!”
Seeing Chris raise one hand in the pose for pledging, Miyama, having gotten his breath back, also immediately hopped onto the bandwagon without thinking much of the possible consequences.
Oh, right, that’s how these guys are. I should’ve known. I can already imagine the hannya-like3 face that Touka-chan’s going to make when they break their word. I don’t even need to read the future to see how this is going to end.
“In accordance with the spirit of being espers!”
“The entire time until we leave these ruins!”
“We swear to be honest and upfront with Amaterasu!”
““This we pledge!””
Satisfied with the pledge, Touka-chan put the Buddha statue down and exchanged handshakes with Chris and Miyama. Shouta-kun just clutched his head.
“What’re you going to do if their pledge is also a lie?”
“That’s simple too. I’ll chase them to the ends of hell and drag them out before Buddha to repent.”
At the very least, it seems like she isn’t blindly believing that no one would break an oath sworn before Buddha. I’m glad to see that the Baba betrayal incident hasn’t been for nothing.
“Hm? Hold on. Did you just call us Amaterasu? Did we tell you that we’re Amaterasu?”
“You did! You totally did! How would we know if you didn’t?”
Chris glibly answered Shouta-kun — who seemed to be getting suspicious again — as her body was being warmed back up by Touka-chan’s flames.
Uh, they didn’t, though. You’re lying? Already?
This was a cooperation that seemed to instill nothing but unease, but well, there it was, the light and dark secret organizations joining hands to form a united front for the time being.
◇ ◇ ◇
As expected, the trips and gimmicks that we had set up meant practically nothing in the face of these four working together.
The skeletons were seen coming nine seconds in advance and then forced to leave the stage as soon as they appeared by the grace of Touka-chan’s flames.
The ravine with the bridge that Tsukuyomi had severed was easily overcome thanks to Touka-chan carrying each person across one by one using her flame propulsion.
The giant rolling boulder that threatened to flatten the entire group was stopped in place with an Eternal Force Blizzard from Shouta-kun before Touka-chan simply melted a path through it.
Miyama was simply playing his guitar from the back the whole time, but he just might have been the one who contributed the most. After all, as long as he was making sound, the rest could continue using their powers at full output without worrying about economizing their strength. He was truly the best support that an esper could ever hope for.
As for Ig, well, nobody got hurt, so she just stayed inside Touka-chan’s backpack, gnawing on an apple and taking naps in turn. She had completely been degraded into the role of a “recovery potion for just in case.” Then again, that had been our plan for her from the start. She won’t be seeing any action for quite a while.
The going was so smooth, thanks to Amaterasu’s map and Chris’s future reading, that Amaterasu slowly lowered their vigilance and the two sides started to exchange information. They now already knew the name of each other’s organization and were aware that they were all here to retrieve the Artifact.
They agreed that they would fight, fair and square, after escaping the ruins to decide who gets to walk away with the Artifact, but clearly, that wasn’t going to happen. In fact, I offered to bet Kaburagi-san ¥1,000 that Tsukuyomi would break their word and betray Amaterasu halfway through, but she simply laughed and asked, “Do we even need to bet?”
“Wait, hold on. What did you say your brother’s name is again?”
“Yaku Yoruhisa. It’s a false name, but that’s what he is going by lately.”
The exploration of the cave part of the ruins was already in the last stages, with me having gone past crying and reaching a state of complete emptiness after seeing how little effort it took the group to get through the large number of gimmicks that I had poured my heart and soul into. The four were now standing right in front of the crypt area that was supposed to be the last major obstacle.
The original set up was that those who opened the door would be sucked into the room and then locked inside, forced to engage in an all-out brawl with the entire crowd of skeletons that had been entombed there. However, Chris had read that future and warned the others. Consequently, Shouta-kun now had his hand on the door and was pumping cold air through to the other side. That left Touka-chan and Chris with nothing to do but chat idly.
Thanks to Miyama enabling him to maintain his maximum output, Shouta-kun was steadily freezing the entire crypt over without the door even being opened a crack. These brutes’ intention was to fully seal all the skeletons in ice before even taking one step inside the room.
And with that, the greatest obstacle in the first half of the ruins is no longer an obstacle. These heartless bastards.
“I see, so he was in Tsukuyomi.”
“Wait, you guys know my Aniki?”
“Mh-hm. But I had never heard of him having a little brother.”
“Like hell you’re his brother. I saw your eyes just now; they’re blue. You aren’t even Japanese, are you?”
“We have different mothers.”
Shouta-kun apologized awkwardly, clearly under the impression that there were complicated family circumstances involved. Thing is, even our fathers are different. Chris and I are, in fact, complete strangers. I do think of her as a little sister, though.
In contrast, Touka-chan seemed extremely curious about my family situation. As she switched places with Shouta-kun and stepped up to burn through the frozen door with her flame sword, she continued poking deeper.
“From your point of view, Ninja-san, what kind of brother is he?”
“Aniki is really kind. He helps me out when I’m in trouble, he doesn’t get mad at me when I steal his snacks, and… Oh, right, but he apparently visits an adult store named, uh, Ten-Iwato?”
Kaburagi-san, please don’t stare at me so pointedly. That’s not it; it’s a misunderstanding.
“Uh, I didn’t want to know th— Wait, what kind of kanji is that written with?”
“‘Ten (天)’ as in heaven, or ‘tengoku (天国)’; the ‘岩’ that means ‘stone’; and the ‘戸’ that means door.4 He described it as a store where he’d ‘get hugs from a naked 11-year-old female.’”
Shouta-kun and Touka-chan’s eyes both turned toward the pocket where Ig was sleeping.
Yes! Thank you for clearing up the misunderstanding. My dignity as the boss of a secret organization was that close to hitting rock bottom just now.
“It’s opened. Ninja-san.”
“I have to go first, right? On it.”
Touka-chan took Chris’s hand to envelope her in a cocoon of 42°C air, then took one step away from the circular hole. Chris walked past her and gingerly stepped into the crypt.
The crypt, with its walls and walls of rotting wooden coffins, was stained pure white. Nothing inside was moving. More like, nothing inside could move. Of course, I could increase the output of my telekinesis and have the skeletons forcibly break through their icy seals. However, such power was far beyond their catalogue specs, and so I refrained. Trash mobs that were supposed to overwhelm intruders with their numbers suddenly displaying power levels on the level of boss monsters would be breaking the game balance.
Touka-chan and Shouta-kun then also entered the still and austere hall. Miyama alone was slower than the rest, puffing like a pig munching on pizza while stomping on a fatty.
Shouta-kun turned around to urge him to go faster.
“Hurry it up, Fatty.”
“You know how many hours I’ve already walked today? News flash, I’m not young anymore.”
Ouch, that hit a bit too close to home for comfort. Seriously, how on earth did I manage to move around so much in the past? To be honest, my body still hurts from the beach volleyball. Maybe I’ve been relying too much on telekinesis and been letting my own body go lately.
I keep thinking that I should take Kaburagi-san’s lead and get into the habit of jogging too… but then I end up putting it off every time and never really getting to it. Damn, my will is weak. If it’s training involving telekinesis, then I’m willing to do absolutely whatever it takes, but I just can’t seem to summon the motivation to tackle anything else.
“So useless. So that’s all you Tsukuyomi are worth, huh.”
“What’d you say, you punk? When That Person gets serious, he can squash your little Amaterasu with his little pinky alone.”
Hold on, did he…?!
I couldn’t help but to lean forward in excitement at hearing that certain keyword.
He did! He said it! He said “That Person”!
The world’s #1 “Suggestive Byword I Want to Hear in Person” (polled by Sago)!
That’s right, if Miyama said “Tsukimori” or “Oyabun,” that would be giving Amaterasu hints to their real identities. In order to avoid the information leak, he decided to gloss over it with the byword “That Person”!
I see, this is indeed a super rare voice pack5 that I wouldn’t have heard if we didn’t go down the Cooperation Route. I can’t suppress my excitement!
“Who the hell is ‘That Person’ supposed to be? Ninja’s ‘Aniki’?”
“That Person is That Person. To know That Person’s true name is far beyond your station. Know your place.”
“The fuck is a goddamn fatty putting on airs for, huh? Want me to turn you into roast pork?”
“Like you aren’t glossing things over yourself with ‘Boss’ this and ‘Master’ that. Who’s that Boss you keep mentioning then, huh? Canned coffee6?”
“Hah! Like I’d tell you.”
“How about you melt already, you human ice machine.”
“Say that to me again after you realize the Truth of Fire.”
“I… Uh, wait, what?”
Colorful curses filled the air as the group made their way through the crypt.
All right, we’re entering the second half now. The pirate caves are over and it’s time to enter the ancient civilization part where the Artifact sleeps!
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 It’s a common food-related argument in Japan (sort of like how Americans have the ‘does pineapple go on pizza or not?’). Here, the options are soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, mayonnaise, and ketchup.
2 Chris and Miyama are fucking around again. This time, they’re pretending to be “student representatives at a school sports day.” On sports days in Japan, each team color sends out one representative to pledge to play fair, to do their best, to be good sportsmen, etc. As the linked video shows, sometimes students like to have a bit of fun with it.
4 Put together, the three kanji make 天岩戸, which is correctly read as “Ama-no-Iwato.”
5 Voice packs are basically having characters say certain things. For example, here’s an example of Robocco making different voices. Voice packs is where you can buy these (for example, a Valentine-themed one would then have Valentine-related lines).