There Was No Secret Evil-Fighting Organization (srsly?!), So I Made One MYSELF!
Side Story: The Barrage of “Don’t Tell Anyone Else in Class!”
Volume 4: The Newly-Built Ancient Ruins
After the magical castle was revealed, it activated two of its innumerable functions, “Float” and “Den of Clouds,” which helped it float up into the sky and enveloped it in a large cloud that perfectly blended into the night sky. As the cloud was naturally generated and would be hiding the castle the entire time it was in the air, it was nigh impossible to find and track this castle, even using satellite technology.
Several eyes did manage to catch sight of the castle in the window between its appearance and the activation of its cloud camouflage, so the existence of this structure was not a secret from the rest of the world. That said, there was no way to tell where it was; even if there was, any efforts to approach it would be foiled by my barrier.
As the investigation into the castle hit a wall, the series of events that seemed to generate more questions with each question asked, making no sense whatsoever despite being packed with far too much information — an attempt at a summary ending up along the lines of “In the coastal waters of Marineland, next to the location of ruins left by a precursor civilization that had been kept a national secret, a giant made of rock and Invisible Titan had a kaijuu1 boxing match, after which a thick black beam shot up into the sky, soon followed by a majestic castle that rose into the sky, hid itself inside a cloud, and disappeared into the night sky.” — dominated the front page of newspapers all over the world.
For several days after returning to Japan, Kaburagi-san commuted back and forth between the magic castle and Tokyo through direct telekinetic delivery under the cover of night. However, she soon grew tired of it and decided to stay in the castle for good.
Though this did make me a little lonely, I was also super happy with how enamored she seemed with what I had built. She worked so hard all the time that I very much wanted her to enjoy this well-earned vacation to the fullest.
Shouta-kun and Touka-chan managed to return to Japan without their hidden identities being discovered thanks to Marineland’s flawless control over all information related to the incident. One new Artifact joined the others on the shelves in the hidden area underneath Ama-no-Iwato, and the two teenagers returned to their usual lives as high school students.
Their cover story was that they had gone to the UK for Golden Week2, then hurried back before the airplanes got grounded because of the Marineland Ruins Incident.
Chris and Miyama managed to grease the palms of a fishing vessel that helped smuggle them from Marineland to the UK, after which they simply flew back to Japan, landing two days later than the Amaterasu pair.
Although they had failed the mission issued by the Japanese government — namely, to seize the Artifact in Marineland — they had brought World Slayer back in exchange.
Oyabun brought that to the Japanese government to negotiate for citizenship for the members of Tsukimori-gumi. The reply that he got was that they needed some time to have experts examine it and that he needed to wait awhile.
You should probably just resign yourself to the fact that the Japanese government moves at a snail’s pace, Oyabun. I’ll also keep my fingers crossed that they get back to you within a year.
Ruu-denka pouted a bit at being told to just “sit still and not do anything, please!” by Kaburagi-san, me, and pretty much everyone else, but then still obediently did her best with smiling and waving her hand at all the press that showed up asking for comments.
Marineland’s intelligence agency was busying itself with containing information and obfuscating evidence according to the vague imperial edict of “help Amaterasu out” passed down by Ruu-denka; in short, the organization was handling a large part of the clean-up work that Kaburagi-san would have done were she here. I couldn’t have been more thankful.
As it turned out, getting an actual country — small though it was — on our side was a great idea. The very fact that this country was helping to cover things up for us made for a wonderful camouflage in and of itself.
Secrets that were hidden were much more effective at triggering human curiosity than secrets that seemed incomprehensible. More so than “there are espers around somewhere,” “Marineland is hiding information on espers” was far more attention-grabbing.
Thanks to this, the very public and easily definable entity that was the country of Marineland now served as a decoy that drew all efforts in the worldwide search for superpowers, helping Amaterasu to continue staying under the radar.
The great thing was, even Marineland did not know the real truth — namely, that the whole event had been a set up. I wouldn’t go so far as to say there was zero chance of the truth getting out, but we were indeed in the very best position that we could hope for.
Keeping a secret organization a secret was quite the undertaking.
◇ ◇ ◇
Satou Shun was a second year student in the advanced course at Ashinohara Academy — commonly called Ashi High — a private high school located in Adachi City, Tokyo.
His hobbies mainly consisted of mobile games, manga, and music. He was a part of the track and field club, which had taken him to the mountains of Saitama Prefecture during Golden Week for a training camp. As it so happened, the amount of donations this school received suddenly shot through the roof the year he enrolled. All of the transportation costs of the trip to Saitama had been covered by the school, they had found the old training camp grounds entirely renovated, and the food had been extremely delicious and filling. There was literally nothing more to be desired.
Additionally, the uniforms of the school were also switched out with designs created by some famous designer. This turned out to be a huge hit with the students, and even became one of the leading reasons behind many of the new students’ desire to apply. Due to the liberal nature of the school, any group of five students could apply to set up a club, with Shun himself also concurrently being part of the questionable-sounding Superpower Research Club.
Similar clubs, circles, and hobby groups had been springing up all over Japan as of late; this one wasn’t much different from the rest. Parapsychology, a major that had been on its last legs in the universities, exploded back into the limelight, attracting students hoping to gain a superpower, research superpowers, or earn a fortune using superpowers like moths to a flame. There were quite a few members of Ashi High’s Superpower Research Club who planned on applying to parapsychology in university.
That said, it wasn’t as if every single club member were equally as passionate about researching superpowers, and Shun belonged in this camp. After becoming a second year, he had dropped by the club room only two or three times.
The original motivation behind him joining the club was an ambiguous thought of “hey, what if they actually know something and I can get a superpower of my own?” What he found, instead, was just a bunch of students messing about, mainly just reading occult magazines and chatting away without any particular purpose. Then when the annual research assembly rolled around, the group would create a powerpoint of several minutes that wouldn’t deceive a child just to keep the club from being abolished.
That had been fun, too, at the start, but soon grew stale. There were many others who had similarly joined out of curiosity but then gradually stopped coming. In terms of the size of its roster alone, the Superpower Research Club was on par with the mainstream clubs like track and field and the brass band, but the actual activities of the club was woeful to say the least.
Shun’s honest opinion was “you guys call yourselves the Superpower Research Club and that’s all you do? So trashy!” but neither was he himself doing anything in particular to attain a superpower.
It would be a pain. I don’t want to do anything. But hey, how cool would it be if something cool happened and I awakened to a superpower? This was Satou Shun — a generic high school boy who entertained only vague dreams of grandeur while passively waiting for the world to hand him things on a silver platter.
When Shun returned from Golden Week and entered the advanced course classroom, the delinquent with red hair who stuck out like a sore thumb, Takahashi Shouta, was in the middle of passing out caramels that were souvenirs from England to the classmates gathered around his table.
Takahashi was a nutcase3 who would get unnaturally excited whenever they brought out the alcohol burner for experiments in chemistry. Normally, Shun would never approach the guy, but he was kind of interested in the English caramels. So he surreptitiously slipped into the crowd, received a piece, and got back out. It turned out to be extremely thick and super sweet, but Shun actually kind of liked it.
Before the first period, Shun, as the student on day duty, had to first drop by the teacher’s room in case the homeroom teacher needed something done. Most days, nothing would come of this trip, but today turned out to be one of the rare exceptions — Shun was asked to deliver something that someone had lost. He clicked his tongue inwardly as he accepted the item and confirmed where he was to take it.
The item itself was a package wrapped in navy blue furoshiki4 cloth, and the delivery was to a girl named Christina Najeen in Year 2 Class 3 of the normal course.
Shun reached the Year 2 Class 3 classroom and asked for Najeen, but was told that she had just gone out to look for something she’d lost. According to accounts, she had dropped it somewhere along her way to school.
For some reason, the teacher had really pressed home that Shun had to hand this package over in person, so he had no choice but to try to catch up to the girl instead of just leaving this delivery with someone else in the class. Najeen apparently had blond hair and blue eyes and was quite cute.
Fortunately, Shun found Najeen at the shoe lockers. He recognized her immediately thanks to her appearance being exactly as described — down to the chest that was so flat as to be nothing more than a cruel joke of nature.
He had passed by her several times in the hallway and followed her with his eyes, entranced by her beauty, but it was only now that he learned her name, and this was his first time speaking to her.
Shun called out to the girl who was inexplicably going around touching the lockers and the ground here and there, closing her eyes, and tilting her head in seeming puzzlement.
“Um, Christina Najeen-san? My homeroom teacher told me you dropped this and to bring it to you. It is yours, right?”
“Wha— Oh, there it is! Yes, it’s mine!”
Najeen turned around, then her face burst into a bright smile. Shun’s heart skipped a beat at the dazzling sight.
Don’t tell me, she’s interested in me…?
“Seriously, where’d I drop it? That’s so weird, I thought I’d stored it properly inside my bag. You didn’t look inside, right? Mm, you didn’t look. What a relief.”
Najeen accepted the package, answering her own question and heaving a sigh of relief.
That very moment, a sudden gust of wind blew and undid the loosely tied knot of the furoshiki, revealing a glimpse of its contents.
Shun took a look and froze. If his eyes weren’t deceiving him, it was chain mail and a short Japanese sword.
Najeen swiftly seized the package and clasped it to her chest. With a stiff smile, she said firmly,
“You imagined it.”
“Wait, but, just now —”
“You saw wrong.”
“No, no, there was like, a katana —”
“Hah? Katana? Why would I have something like that? It was my recorder. For music class. Obviously.”
Shun stared at the girl who had started talking like a machine gun.
As a member of the Superpower Research Club, he had read at least a few magazines that delved into famous espers.
There was mention of an urban legend named Ninja.
Ninja was described as a lithe figure wearing a black ninja costume and a mask who fought using a broken kodachi and smoke bombs, led yakuza around by the nose, could dodge bullets, and was a master of disguise.
“Are you… Ninja?”
“What? Who’s that?”
Najeen tilted her head in response to the question that Shun had asked half in disbelief. He couldn’t tell if she was just playing dumb or if she really didn’t know what he was talking about.
How weird was the whole idea anyways? A girl who attends the same school as him being the Ninja? What was this, a manga? It would be incredibly embarrassing if he was wrong. Even so, there was a small part of Shun that could somehow see it being real.
Just as he was about to press further, something slipped out from the furoshiki package that Najeen was clasping to her chest. It turned out to be a kodachi and a fist-sized ball with the character for smoke, “煙”, written on with a sloppy brush hand.
“Fueh?! Why?! I thought I’d held onto it tightly! Ugh, you, come with me!”
Suddenly all in a fluster, Najeen grabbed Shun’s arm and dragged him out of sight of the other students and into a storage room for cleaning supplies.
The space was so tight that the two teenagers were practically pressed against each other. Shun’s brain nearly shorted with the sweet smell faintly coming off of Najeen. She, on the other hand, had other things on her mind. Bringing her face close enough for their noses to be almost touching, Najeen said, with a dead serious expression,
“Never tell anyone what you just saw.”
“So you, um, really are Ninja?”
Shun’s heart was beating quickly both from the sudden glimpse of the extraordinary that had suddenly barged into his life and also from being stared at by a cute girl in such close proximity. Najeen nodded in affirmation, looking a bit uncomfortable.
“Well… pretty much. But I mean it; make sure that you absolutely do not tell anyone. I’m being chased by a bunch of yakuza and a secret organization. If either of them catches wind that you know my true identity, they could come after you. If you don’t want to die, keep your mouth shut. Capiche?”
Shun nodded like a broken doll, his heart now beating quickly for an entirely different reason.
As they parted, Najeen threatened him with one last “If you tell anyone, I’ll know.” Shun could not focus at all during any of his morning classes.
Then lunch time rolled around. Shun grabbed his lunchbox and headed for the stairs that led to the roof. The door up there was always kept closed, but there was a small landing in front that, judging by the stacked-up chairs and traffic cones, was used as a small storage space.
Shun always came here for lunch, as there was enough space for him to spread his legs out even when sitting on a chair, and the teachers never came up here at this time. This meant that he could take out his smartphone, which was supposed to stay strictly off according to the school rules, and use it as much as he wanted.
Today, however, things were a bit different. The door that led out onto the roof was slightly ajar. Shun looked left and right, then peeked through the gap.
There was no one there.
He had been planning on spending the lunch hour mulling what he had learned this morning over his lunch, but curiosity won out. Shun tucked his lunchbox underneath a chair, then gently pushed open the door without making a sound and successfully infiltrated this off-limits area for the first time ever.
There was a brisk breeze blowing, the view was amazing, and the temperature was nice and cool. The entire area, encircled by a fence, consisted of a water tank and what Shun assumed was an electric switchboard (?) something.
Almost immediately, Shun noticed the figure standing on the other side of the water tank in a position out of sight from when he had peeked through the door.
Out of fear that it was a teacher checking up on the water tank or in the middle of some other duty, Shun quickly backed up in an attempt to escape before he was discovered and given a dressing down. However, with the worst possible timing, a strong gust of wind sprang up and slammed the half-open door shut with a loud bang.
The blood drained from Shun’s face as he darted towards the door, but the figure at the back of the water tank leaped out first.
“The fuck?! Why’re you here?!”
The person who had caught sight of Shun before he managed to escape and cried out in surprise was not a teacher, but a familiar face.
It turned out to be Shun’s red-haired delinquent classmate, Takahashi Shouta, with a lance of ice in one hand.
“What the hell?! A spear?!”
Takahashi was astonished, but Shun was even more astonished.
The latter boy’s mind could not churn fast enough to process what he was seeing. He froze in place, during which time Takahashi quickly closed the distance, his approach accompanied with a front of cold air that chilled Shun to the bone. Finally he understood the reason why the rooftop had felt so cool when he first stepped out.
Takahashi jammed the butt of his lance right into Shun’s solar plexus, looking enraged.
“The fuck you doing up here, huh?! What happened to the key?!”
“To the rooftop door! It was locked, wasn’t it?!”
“Uh, no it wasn’t.”
“You gotta be fucking lying, I know I locked it. You forced it open, didn’t you?! You willing to swear to Fire that the door wasn’t locked, huh?!”
Only after ranting for quite a while longer — most of it rather incomprehensible to Shun — did Takahashi finally calm back down a little. Rather apprehensively, Shun asked,
“So… you’re FK?”
“Tsk. Yeah, I am.”
Takahashi confirmed Shun’s guess in a peeved tone, jamming his lance against the ground and leaning on it.
“Seriously, why the fuck you up here, Satou? How about you die already, huh?”
As he was showered with vulgar abuse by the other boy, a strange mixture of disappointment and intimacy welled up within Shun’s chest.
Freezing Knight was one of the representative espers who had suddenly appeared like a shooting star and dealt modern society an impact as great as an actual meteorite. The figure of him protecting his allies with a shield of ice generated in many people’s minds — Shun included — the image of a noble knight. In actuality, however, he turned out to be a red-haired delinquent. A delinquent who always walked around with things like cigarette lighters and BBQ lighters jangling around at his waist, wore shirts with fire print, and who would get unnaturally excited at the sight of fire.
He was a cryokinetic even though everything about his appearance screamed pyrokinetic, and ‘noble’ was the last word to describe him. The whole thing was a terrible scam.
However, details aside, this hero from the other side of the screen was his own classmate. And what’s more, he was the only one who knew! Giddiness and a strange sense of intimacy also welled up within Shun’s heart from this fact.
It was his second time experiencing this feeling in the same morning. Surely not even someone who could read the future would have been able to foresee him bumping into two people of urban legend status in his own school and learning their identities in such short succession.
“I always eat my lunch in front of the door. Today, it was standing open for some reason so I decided to take a look and found you.”
“Gah… I always come up through the emergency staircase, so I had no idea. For what it’s worth, I do check that door everyday, but… goddammit.”
Takahashi tousled his own hair in frustration.
“What were you doing up here, Takahashi? Wait, don’t tell me another Super Water Sphere showed up and you were figh—”
“Dude, the world would be fucked if Shadows on that level appeared so often. I was just training.”
The two boys circled around to the other side of the water tank where sure enough, water was trickling out of the loosened tap and shields, swords, and axes made of ice were scattered all over.
“I was trying to break through my fundamental growth ceiling and seeing if I could generate things faster or tougher. Not that I expect you to understand what I’m saying.”
“Hold on, don’t touch ‘em. They’re all around -200°C; your skin will get ripped off with the slightest contact.”
Shun quickly retracted the hand that had been reaching for one of the shields.
“So… let me guess: it’d also be a problem for you if someone discovered your identity?”
“What’s with the ‘also’? I mean, haaah… y’see, I kinda messed up big-time just recently. That’s why I was practicing at school, to get stronger as quickly as I could, but then here we are. I’m actually supposed to report to my superiors if someone finds out about me, but it’s kinda embarrassing admitting that I messed up again so soon. So, yeah, you’d be doing me a solid if you kept quiet about this.”
Takahashi lowered his head awkwardly, and Shun nodded in response. He wanted to ask if he knew Ninja personally, but Ninja’s warning was still fresh in his mind, and in the end, he never managed to bring it up. Being chased by Ninja or yakuza or whatever else out of the pages of fiction all sounded like a pretty bad time that he could do without.
The shock of FK’s discovery hot on the heels of Ninja’s discovery completely robbed Shun of all his concentration for the afternoon classes.
Right before parting, he had exchanged contact info with Takahashi. Although this was technically just exchanging contacts with a classmate, at the same time, this was also exchanging contacts with an esper that the entire world was frothing at the mouth in search of. Shun thought his head was about to burst from the mixture of superiority and nervousness whirling about inside.
Before this morning, he would have done anything to learn what he did now; now, however, it just felt bizarre.
It was really weird how two of the world’s most sought-after people just happened to be undercover here in Ashi High. Did the fact that they were in such close proximity with each other mean that there were actually a lot more espers out there in the world who were just hiding their abilities?
Eventually, school was over. After homeroom, Shun finished his tasks as the student on day duty and headed home, his mind entirely empty of everything that had been taught that day.
Several times, he sneaked glances over his shoulder nervously. Now that he had learned Ninja and FK’s true identities, was he going to be hunted by intelligence agencies and secret organizations? The thought looped around endlessly in his mind, heightening his worry with every passing second.
The gazes of the passersby that he hadn’t cared about while going to school in the morning now bothered him like never before. He felt as if every movement he made was being observed by somebody.
As Shun continued making his way home, taking twice as long as he normally would and acting squirrelly the entire time, he suddenly stepped on his undone shoelaces and fell face forward.
He managed to protect his head in the nick of time, but in exchange, he ended up scraping the palm of his hand pretty badly. The wound wasn’t deep, but skin had been scraped off and blood was oozing out. It hurt with a stinging kind of pain.
“Are you all right?”
Shun was sitting back and just about to spit on his palm, his eyes tearing up, when a girl wearing Ashi High’s sailor uniform suddenly called out to him in a worried tone.
He recognized her. It was Hasumi Touka, the cutest girl in the advanced course who, with her slight build, sizable breasts, mild-mannered personality, gentle treatment of others, and cute looks, practically embodied everything guys dreamed of. At the same time, this was also the same girl who was started to be known as “Bhikkhuni-san5” behind her back for the odd familiarity she was displaying towards the Buddhist narratives that they were currently covering in modern Japanese class.
“O-Of course! I’m totally fine! This doesn’t hurt at all! Really!”
Shun got to his feet in a fluster, forcing a smile on his face and pretending to be impervious to pain in an attempt to put on a strong front. Just like almost every other boy in the advanced course, he also harbored the healthy adolescent dream of getting close to her and, if heavens be willing, going out with her and eventually getting to do the hanky-panky.
“You sure? Either way, you should wash the wound. Here.”
Hasumi took out a water bottle from her bag and helped rinse the palm of Shun’s hand. He thought he spotted a miniature fire extinguisher in the split second he saw inside her bag, but then convinced himself that he must have seen wrong due to the exhaustion of everything that had happened today.
“Do you have a handkerchief?”
“You don’t? Use mine, then.”
The handkerchief that Hasumi was holding out was of a more classic design sporting prints of Buddha that Shun could only imagine belonged to her grandfather or grandmother. This was supposed to be a heart-thumping scene of borrowing a handkerchief from a pretty girl, but Shun’s heart was as calm as the sea from seeing Buddha’s curly hairstyle. The faint burnt smell coming from the piece cloth was also a minus point.
As Shun desperately wracked his mind for a tasteful topic to talk about while wrapping the handkerchief around his hand, Hasumi’s phone rang. She picked it up, then nodded several times as a grave look came over her face.
“Sorry, I have to go. Take care of yourself. You can keep the handkerchief.”
“I-I’ll wash it and return it to you!”
The line that Shun barely managed to get out earned him a small smile from Hasumi, after which the skirt of her sailor uniform fluttered and she ran off like the wind.
He saw her off, but then thought better of it and decided to give chase.
It seemed like there was a faint, invisible force that was constantly tugging on him. And at the moment, it seemed to be pulling him towards Hasumi’s direction.
Was this the pull of fate? Thinking about it again, Shun thought he might have felt the same thing when he discovered Najeen’s and Takahashi’s identities.
Was it some kind of guidance? Or perhaps a sixth sense? Either way, Shun decided to put his faith in it.
A miracle had happened twice already today.
What was to say it couldn’t happen a third time?
The direction that Hasumi was running towards brought her to an area with less and less people. She turned around several times along the way, but Shun managed to duck and hide himself each time thanks to the mystifying guidance.
Soon enough, Hasumi arrived at an abandoned factory. With agile movements, she leaped over the surrounding wall and disappeared from view. Shun was surprised to see the normally serious girl illegally trespassing without hesitation and faltered when he realized that he himself would also have to commit the same crime in order to continue following her. However, he quickly shored up his resolve.
After clumsily clambering over the wall, Shun peered through a dirty, stained window pane just in time to see a wriggling black figure illuminated by crimson flames. Sounds of destruction rang out several times, then silence returned.
“You gotta be kidding me.”
Shun shuddered. He would have believed it if someone approached him this moment and told him that he had accidentally wandered into the world of a manga. All the common sense and understanding of normality that he had built up over 17 years seemed to have crumbled away within this single day. The third miracle really had happened.
If one was to mention a girl fighting with flames, only one person would come to mind.
Shun learned what it truly meant to have exceptional fortune.
When Hasumi exited the abandoned factory and exclaimed in surprise, Shun listened to her, thinking, Oh, I think I’m getting used to this.
Several minutes later, as expected, he found himself shouldering yet another secret.
Hasumi got on the phone and, seemingly following orders, made Shun hold a jewel with a white speck inside that she called an Artifact. Then she informed him that he had no talent as an esper.
After the surge of encounters, the boy had almost started believing himself the bearer of some special fate when he was suddenly slapped on the face by this cruel pronouncement.
In frustration and disbelief, Shun doggedly pursued the matter for several dozen minutes. However, Hasumi eventually told him that as someone without talent for superpowers, he would not have to worry about being assaulted by monsters, that he could rest easy, and that he did not have to know any further details. Only after being severely warned to keep his mouth shut — for the third time this day — was he then finally allowed to leave.
By the time he arrived home, Shun was absolutely spent.
If there was a god who managed fate, that god must have splurged Shun’s entire lifelong supply of blessings within this single day.
He ate dinner, got into the bath, then conked out in the middle of reflecting over his bizarre day.
He did not dream that night. As it turned out, real life itself was already quite the dream.
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.
3 Yabe yatsu