There Was No Secret Evil-Fighting Organization (srsly?!), So I Made One MYSELF!
Chapter 11: I Feel Bad for the Adults Who Have to Remain Useless in Order for Kids to Have the Spotlight
Volume 5: † The Double Wings of Shade †
Ebina, who was so loved by his students they referred to him by the nickname “Ebi-sen1,” suddenly had a transfer student join his class in the awkward period of time right before winter vacation. He found himself at a complete loss for how to handle this girl, Hinokage Mikyou, much more than he had ever felt about any other student.
First, it wore on his nerves that she had transferred in under Chairman Kaburagi’s auspices.
Ashinohara Academy was a private school, and Chairman Kaburagi was its greatest investor. She had poured a staggering amount of funds into the school for things like increasing the teaching staff, installing air conditioners in all the classrooms, renewing all the instruments in the music room, arranging free shuttle buses for all the clubs, providing half-subsidies for field trips, upping the quality of lunch service, and hiring a famous designer to redesign the school uniform. She had practically revamped the entire school by throwing money at it.
The changes she introduced were greatly welcomed by both teachers and students alike. This, combined with her looks, which were more gorgeous than that of most TV personalities and actresses, garnered her ever-increasing popularity. One time, she got up on stage at a school assembly to give a short speech right after the principal was done and all the students who had been sleeping woke right up. This anecdote was famous even today.
The new student, Hinokage Mikyou, was being given special attention by this much-beloved chairman. Ebina knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that if she ever got bullied, his head would fly.
It did not help that the girl had a terrible attitude.
It was understandable, as she had been living in the hospital apparently her entire life up until now and had no experience going to school, but basically, Hinokage was absolutely hopeless at creating interpersonal relationships. In fact, she did not even seem interested in doing so.
Despite strongly emanating her disinterest in her classmates, she would talk nonstop about topics that she was interested in throughout break time. When her lack of stamina was given the slightest of mentions, she would flare into a rage and get extremely defensive before eventually flipping out on the victims of her venom and ignoring them.
When someone invited her to hang out, she laughed at them mockingly. When someone asked her to tutor them, she remained sarcastic throughout the entire tutoring session.
No one would want to become friends with something like that.
However, she did get very flustered one time during P.E. class when she saw someone trip and scrape their knee — she even went so far as to call an ambulance for them. In other words, she wasn’t an entirely malicious girl.
Ebina tried to gently caution Hinokage about her attitude, but to no avail.
As she was the daughter of the director of a large hospital, he was worried that it might turn into a problem if he got strict with her.
At the same time, if he simply left her alone, that would also eventually turn into a problem. The quandary gave Ebina a constant headache.
Then came a major order from Chairman Kaburagi that the school was going to do a disaster prevention drill for the highly unrealistic situation of terrorists attacking the school to target the children with influential parents.
In fact, quite a few students at Ashinohara Academy were indeed children of rather influential people. In Ebina’s year, there was a son of a politician and a daughter of a famous celebrity. As the single daughter of a director of a major hospital, Hinokage Mikyou also technically counted as a VIP student.
The cringey daydream of terrorists attacking a school seemed extremely unlikely to happen, but if it really was to happen, this school was indeed one of the more likely targets.
It wasn’t entirely unthinkable for someone who held a grudge against a famous person to try to get at them by attacking their children instead.
There was actual precedent of assailants infiltrating a school to barricade inside or to kill or maim the students.
Although worrying about terrorists seemed a bit paranoid, it was hard to entirely dismiss the possibility of the school being attacked.
Ebina was worried that Hinokage Mikyou — who normally read books containing danger keywords like “murder,” “extinction,” and “world revolution”) — would actually walk over to the terrorists and join their side.
As a drill, the story for what would happen was largely decided, sort of like how pro wrestling matches were. The way the terrorists would “attack” and be “beaten back” was scripted. It would complicate things if the students were to start messing around, though the case could be made that containing the students’ mischievous behavior was part of the training on the teachers’ side.
No matter how much the teachers brainstormed, prepared, and readied countermeasures, problems would still crop up.
The number of things that teachers had to worry about was simply endless.
So then, the day of the drill finally came. Ten minutes into second period math class, the school chime rang over the intercom, followed by the vice-principal’s voice.
“All students and staff. We have received word that suspicious figures have entered the school grounds. All students are to follow their teachers’ instructions and make their way to the gymnasi— Hey, stop that, what are you doi—”
The vice-principal’s voice turned flustered before being interrupted by a blunt sound. Then a different, unfamiliar voice took over in a calm tone.
“Correction: Stay in your classrooms until further notice. The school guards will be patrolling to ensure everyone’s safety. This is the end of the broadcast.”
Half of the students looked bewildered, the ones who were quick on the uptake started whispering with their neighbors, and a few perked up with expectant looks on their faces.
The synopsis of the drill was that terrorists had occupied the broadcasting room and were issuing false orders. Each class was to then react to these orders in different ways. Half would obediently follow them and stay put in their classrooms, while half would doubt their veracity and attempt to make their way to the gymnasium. The third year teachers would make their way to the broadcast room to confirm what was going on, learn that it was occupied, and attempt to call the police but find the landlines cut and the airwaves jammed.
Then the teachers would ask for volunteers among themselves who would attempt to slip through the terrorists’ net and make their way out of the school to call for help. When they reached the nearest police station — which had been informed beforehand — then the drill would be over.
This drill was ultimately a drill only on the school’s side. The police would not be deploying to suppress the “terrorists.” As soon as a teacher reached the police station, everything afterward would be abridged and the terrorists would retreat.
What the teachers had to focus on was, while under threat by terrorists holding guns and broadcasting false orders, how best to protect their students and stop them from arbitrarily doing their own thing.
There always were students who would act up during a drill. For example, some would slip out of line to go to the bathroom without telling anyone, while some would try to run away or hide somewhere as a “prank.” Though not intentionally malicious, there were bound to be students who would suddenly “not feel well” during drills too.
This was fine in actual drills, but during the real thing, such actions could very well lead to death. Part of the point of doing these drills was also to train the teachers in how to handle such unexpected developments.
Year 1 Class 2, the class that Ebina was homeroom teacher over, had been assigned the role of doubting the broadcasted order and heading to the gymnasium.
Ebina clapped a few times to gather the attention of his noisy students.
“Uhhh, the latter half of the broadcast told us to wait in our classroom, but judging by what we heard, it’s likely that the second order had been from the suspicious intruders, who must have taken over the broadcast room. We’ll be making our way to the gymnasium. Everyone, line up in the hall outside according to your seat number.”
“C’mon, Ebi-sen, that’s boring! Let’s bring down the terrorists ourselves!”
Just as Ebina was trying to get everyone moving, the class troublemaker tried to suggest an alternate option, taking a cavalier attitude toward the whole affair. There was no positive proof that the school actually had been invaded by terrorists at this point in time, so his comment was entirely meant to stir up trouble. Two or three students sniggered a little in response.
Ebina wanted very much to say, “How about I bring you down?!” but having to swallow down comments like this was one of the factors that made being a teacher so hard. Thankfully, however, the large majority of students in the class just gave the troublemaker and his friends exasperated looks and obediently filed out to line up in the hallway.
To prevent the unfunny jokesters from getting carried away, Ebina purposely ignored them. Having failed to get the attention they wanted, the students followed the others out of the room, sulking slightly.
“All right, line up. Two lines, according to seat number. Remain calm. Leave your belongings where they are.”
“Ebi-sen, should we change into our gym shoes?”
“Your gym shoes… It’s fine, leave them.”
After everyone got out into the hallway, Ebina confirmed their numbers, then instructed the class monitor to lead the way to the gym. He himself stayed in the back to make sure that none of the students got separated.
The student right in front of Ebina’s eyes was Hinokage Mikyou, the student who had the last seat number due to being a transfer student. She was so short that she would have easily passed for an elementary student if it wasn’t for the uniform she was wearing — this made it easy to lose sight of her. To make matters worse, she herself often took unpredictable actions that could easily lead to trouble, so Ebina thought of her as a student that he had to consciously pay attention to.
However, although she was currently restlessly fidgeting and looking around, she was otherwise obediently following instructions. Rather, it was the troublemakers who were giving Ebina more grief at the moment.
Perhaps Ebina had jinxed himself by praying for nothing to happen. As the class turned the corner into the passage leading to the gymnasium, they found three armed men standing in the way. They were wearing black helmets that concealed their faces and thick jackets covered with pockets all over. In their hands were threatening weapons — Ebina couldn’t tell if they were machine guns or rifles — that seemed very similar to what actual soldiers would use.
“Oh no, we can’t have this. Sensei, this just won’t do. Everyone’s supposed to wait in their classrooms. Oh, we are the school guards, of course. Come on, everyone, back to your classroom. There are suspicious people wandering about right now. Here, I’ll escort all of you back.”
One of the self-claimed guards spoke to the group in a sickly sweet voice. Ebina found his eyes strangely drawn by the man’s gun, which had a dull sheen that made it look extremely realistic. Not that Ebina had seen a real gun before.
The students fell silent, and a few of them, including Hinokage Mikyou at the end of the line, turned to look at Ebina, consternation on their faces.
However, Ebina was just as confused as they were.
These men had not been in the plan.
The briefing for the drill had mentioned “ad lib where necessary,” but could it be that it wasn’t only the students and teachers who have to ad lib but the terrorists too? Ebina thought. Or was I not paying attention in the meeting when they explained this part of the terrorists’ movements? Yeah, the latter seems more likely.
Ebina approached one of the guards and gestured for him to come near before whispering in his ear.
“I’m sorry, I don’t actually, uh, remember this part of the script. What is my class supposed to do again? Are we supposed to put up a fight here?”
The guard thought to himself for a while, had a brief exchange with his companions using sign language, then turned back to Ebina.
“It looks like it would be faster to explain everything again from the top. Can we have you and one of your students — ah, she would do — step aside with me? I’ll go over the schedule, so please follow me.”
“Understood. Hinokage-san, please come along. The rest of you, wait patiently — we’ll be back soon. Keep quiet and don’t have personal conversations.”
Ebina smiled in response to his students’ chorused answer, then followed behind the self-claimed guard with Hinokage in tow. Hinokage looked at the guard with suspicion in her eyes, but for now, she remained compliant.
As the guard tramped ahead with heavy footsteps, Hinokage tugged Ebina’s sleeve and got on her tip-toes to whisper into his ear. He bent himself forward to whisper back in response.
“What is it?”
“Isn’t this the strategy of divide and conquer? The terrorists are here to kidnap the children with influential parents, right? Breaking us up into pairs and small groups is the oldest trick in the book. They lure us away then they kill you and take me hostage.”
Ebina wasn’t sure what to say.
The drill was based on the story that these school guards claiming to be terrorists were attacking the school to target the children with influential parents. And Hinokage Mikyou was the daughter of the director of a large hospital.
It was true that without context, this situation could be seen as him nonchalantly following a strange man with a gun, dragging a high profile student along after having left the rest of his students unattended. If this was not a drill, this was an imprudent choice, to put it mildly.
However, this was a drill, and he was currently following the “terrorist” to get instructions for how to carry out the rest of the drill smoothly. Worst case, he would just get a yellow or red card and be told, “You are now injured/dead. Please don’t move until the drill is over.”
“It’s fine. I’ll protect you if anything happens, Hinokage-kun.”
“Huh? What do you think you can do against a terrorist with a gun?”
Ebina had meant to reassure the girl, but all he got in return was ridicule.
That irked even him, though he managed to stop himself from saying anything out loud. Does she really have to make it so hard to like her?
“All right, please step in here. It’s not going to take very long.”
Ebina walked into the empty classroom that the self-claimed guard was gesturing toward. Hinokage looked up at the man with such distrust she was almost glaring, but she also followed suit without putting up any resistance. Even though the room was not all that dark, she still flipped the lights on as if by force of habit.
Lastly, the guard followed them in, closed the door, and turned the lock.
“So, about the rest of what’s going to happen — Here, I think it might be faster to just read it directly from here.”
The guard took out a folded piece of paper from a pocket and beckoned with his hand.
When Ebina walked over to peer into the sheet of paper, the guard — no, the terrorist brought the stock of his gun down onto the back of his head, hard.
Ebina’s field of vision tilted rapidly as confusion and shock filled his brain. For a split second, he caught sight of Hinokage’s stiffened face, followed by what appeared to be… shadows rising from underneath her feet.
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All details in the Table of Contents page.