There Was No Secret Evil-Fighting Organization (srsly?!), So I Made One MYSELF!
Chapter 6: Mikyou-chan’s Secret
Volume 5: † The Double Wings of Shade †
It was decided that Mikyou-chan would be given a 1-month trial as a member of our secret organization.
During the month, she would get to fight World Shadows using a PSI drive and develop real relationships with actual espers. If she stopped saying stuff like “humanity should die off” and “the world needs a dictator,” then great. I would even consider properly transplanting a telekimuscle fragment to her mind and making her a proper esper.
However, if she showed no change at all by the end of the trial period, then we would just say that her superpower source had fallen dormant again — after all, it was so weak that she could only activate it with the help of a PSI drive — and return her to her everyday life. There was the risk that this might infuriate her and she might go around exposing the truth about Amaterasu and superpowers to the world as revenge, but I didn’t think it very likely. She seemed to love espers too much to do so.
Having only one month to change someone’s worldview might sound like a pretty tough thing to do, but this deadline of a month was itself already a compromise.
In the first place, both Kaburagi-san and I had determined Mikyou-chan to be unsuitable as a member of our organization. It was only because Shige-jii was so insistent on it that we were giving the girl this one chance. It was up to her whether she would make or break this opportunity.
Whereas some people’s lives are changed from an experience lasting mere seconds, others remain completely unchanged even after ten whole years. From that perspective, a month was both long and short at the same time.
As Mikyou-chan lived in the hospital and couldn’t easily leave the premises, Shige-jii had to give her the full rundown about World Shadows and Amaterasu right then and there during that first night. The girl fell into a huge panic upon learning that the person she had been bad-mouthing so much was one of the espers that she idolized so much, but eventually did manage to get out a very flustered apology.
Normally, the first thing that new recruits to the secret organization would do was train their newfound superpower. As Mikyou-chan’s was a fake superpower, however, she did not have to do this.
The official stance that those of us on the back side were going with was that hers was a unique case where, in exchange for her power being fully formed when she Awakened, she could only activate it with help from a PSI drive. That being so, there was no need to wait for her to have her first ever battle. We were trying to bring Mikyou-chan out of the closed-off world that she had been living in so far to introduce her to many different experiences in the hopes of it prompting her to re-think various things.
Three days after the paranormal event at the hospital, a real World Shadow appeared late at night. Shige-jii floored the pedal with Shouta-kun in his car, went to pick Mikyou-chan up from the hospital, then headed straight to the scene. Darkened buildings stared down from both sides as his luxury German-made car shot through the largely deserted streets.
This was going to be Shige-jii’s first ever battle too, and Shouta-kun was coming along in the capacity of an adviser. Touka-chan was skipping this one because she did not want to meet Mikyou-chan, as she personally considered the put-up job a lie and she absolutely hated lies.
From her seat in the back of the car, Mikyou-chan clutched her khakkhara PSI drive close and huddled herself as if she was afraid someone might see her through the windows of the car.
“W-We can still turn back now, right? D-Dad said I shouldn’t go outside w-without permission and M-Mom said I should be sleeping at night because it’s d-d-dangerous outside…”
“Hey, it’s fine. I’m here for you, and so is Shige-jii. I imagine life’s pretty boring inside the hospital, right? Won’t hurt to get up to a little mischief every once in a while.”
When it was Shouta-kun speaking, what with him crossing his legs cockily and blowing chocolate cigarette smoke out the window, those words seemed all the more convincing.
I’m sorry, Mikyou-chan’s parents. I know you told her all those things for her own good. But hey, Shige-jii and Shouta-kun will both be accompanying her, I made sure that they brought a healing PSI drive just in case, and I’ll also be surveilling the group using telekinesis the entire time. I promise we’ll bring her back safe and sound, so please forgive us!
“More like, we’re going to kick the shit out of bad monsters, so it’s not even mischief that we’re doing. We’re straight out saving people.”
“I-Is that how it is? I mean, I suppose so…”
“Well, take it easy. If you stay calm and don’t panic, I can take care of most everything. How about we talk about something fun to pass the time? Uhh… How about you tell me how it’s like living in the hospital? What do you usually do to pass the time? Do you get bored?”
“I spend the time thinking about how to erase humanity. The idea that I’m really working on recently is creating a virus that’s transmissible by air, has a long incubation period, a high mortality rate, and mutates quickly. I was thinking of basing it on the influenza viruses. Did you know that air transmission is the hardest transmission route to avoid? And the longer the incubation period, the more people that can get infected and spread the disease before they realize they’re infected. This would make the epidemic even harder to conta—”
“The fuck? That’s scary as shit.”
Mikyou-chan’s sudden enthusiastic burst of rapid talking kind of turned Shouta-kun off. I was also turned off. I’m not sure she knows exactly how scary what she’s describing is.
As an aside, Shige-jii was currently so nervous that he was hunched over the steering wheel with his shoulders entirely locked. It was taking everything he had to keep driving, let alone participate in the conversation. Quite understandable, really. Again, this was also going to be his first-ever battle.
During the period of his hospitalization, Shige-jii had kept up with his training. Consequently, his superpower was now quite formidable.
After twenty-three reps of growth, his basic storage capacity had reached 6,189 L (6.189 m3), more than enough space to store a hundred adult humans.
With these numbers, storing and expelling water at the volume of the senselessly large bathtub in his fancy apartment could no longer suffice, so he had switched to using air for training. If he stored and expelled a whole lot of air instantaneously, he could even generate a rather powerful gust attack.
At the same time, Shige-jii was also working on training up the ability to teleport things as a derivation of his storage power.
He was capable of storing whatever it was that came into contact with his black mist. The hyperspace pocket where everything was stored seemed to be connected within his body, which meant that things he stored with mist emanating from his right hand could be expelled from his left hand. What’s more, that black mist was both malleable and severable.
After training to change the shape of that mist at will, Shige-jii proceeded to work on tearing off parts of it and rolling it into balls — as you would do with clay dough — that he would try to maintain while walking farther and farther away.
Then lo and behold! What he stored through direct contact with his hand could come out of mist generated from the other hand and vice versa. In fact, he could expel things not only from his hands, but also the tip of his nose, his kneecaps, and even the soles of his feet.
As if that wasn’t enough, it turned out that his mist could phase through matter. Now that he was capable of storing things and taking things out on the other side of walls, it could be said that walls were only half as effective against him.
The very smooth process of growth made me extremely happy, but what I was most worried about now was how his hyperspace pocket treated living creatures. This required extremely careful testing.
According to tests performed by Shige-jii that involved storing things like barometers, component testers, cameras, and clocks in his hyperspace pocket, we learned that time seemed to be entirely stopped within. The hands of the clock did not move at all during storage, and the camera and measuring equipment did not detect anything at all from their time inside.
The kneejerk conclusion to draw from seeing the measuring equipment continue to work without issue after being stored and taken back out was that being stored did not leave any negative side effects, but this alone was not enough to be sure.
Just like how my superpower had the property of being easier to transplant the more similar the target was to me, Shige-jii’s superpower could very well react in some unique way the more similar whatever it was that he was storing was to himself.
Just because inorganic objects could be stored without issue was not enough to allay our fears. If we made light of the possible risks and let Shige-jii store a mouse, for all we knew, he could turn into a mouse beastkin grandpa.
The biggest worry of all was what Shige-jii’s power might do to Kaburagi-san, a fellow user of a power related to the space-time continuum. Perhaps nothing would happen, but perhaps the clash of powers might cause some synergetic effect that sends her blasting off to somewhere random in space-time.
And so I had him tackle this issue by starting with storing plants first. If that went well, then he would move onto insects, guinea pigs, monkeys, and finally end with humans. All in all, we expected the process to take about a month to get through. Oh man, I’m so worried.
During the time I was occupied with thinking about the development of Shige-jii’s power, the group had arrived on scene. After illegally parking his car at the curb in defiance of the road markings, the old man fixed his necktie, grabbed his walking stick, alighted, then glared sharply at the manhole cover in the dark alleyway before him.
“Looks like evil is drawn to the darkness, human and non-human alike. Hmph. Times never change.”
The line sounded really cool, but his knees were quivering. Shige-jii was merely putting up his usual bravado.
Then again, in terms of actual attack potential, he is more than capable of holding his own in a fight. Maybe I shouldn’t call it bravado, then.
The part of the sewers that this manhole led to was one of the very few spots within Tokyo that was still beyond the surveillance of Tokyo’s occult mania and foreign intelligence operatives. Shige-jii, please master long-distance teleportation before we run out of places to fight within Tokyo. Seriously, I’m counting on you.
Shouta-kun poured a bit of the contents from his water bottle around the circumference of the manhole cover and froze the water to push it up to create purchase for his fingers. Once he managed to shift it to the side a little, it became a lot easier to just grab and remove entirely.
The moment the lid came off, slightly chilled air that smelled of the damp and mold wafted up. The three shivered a little.
Just as I thought the adviser was going to go in first, he scratched the back of his head and fell back half a step.
“You mind going first, Shige-jii?”
“Fi—?! Of course I mi—don’t mind. What’s the matter, though?”
“I don’t have good memories of sewers.”
The other two merely tilted their heads in puzzlement at Shouta-kun’s bitter response. Oh, right, he did nearly die (or so he thinks) when we held his unwinnable fight event down in the sewers. Whoa, it’s already been three years since? Time sure flies.
Shige-jii grabbed the rungs of the ladder with hands that were shaking even more than usual and descended carefully. When he got to the bottom, he turned on his flashlight to get his bearings. Once he confirmed that there was no enemy nearby, he gave the signal for the other two to follow him down.
After that, the whole group struck off together, with Shige-jii in the front, Mikyou-chan in the middle, and Shouta-kun taking up the rear.
There’s no need to be that jumpy, Shouta-kun. It’s a normal fight this time, not an intentionally unwinnable one. We can’t even make it an intense fight due to Mikyou-chan’s sickly body, so it’ll just be a trash mob that will die from a single poke.
In fact, the focus this time was much more on secretly accessing the sewers and exploring them with flashlights — in short, having an experience that felt out of the ordinary — than it was doing battle with the World Shadow.
Despite how frequently movies and manga displayed scenes of exploring sewers and how easy it was to actually do so in real life, very few people actually went to the trouble of trying it in person. Talk about wasted opportunity.
I had planned on launching the assault when the in-group banter was starting to warm up a bit, but nobody was saying a single word.
Shige-jii was walking with his back as straight as a rod, which made it seem like he was fearlessly forging ahead. The fact that he wasn’t spouting his usual tall tales, however, was a clear and blatant indication of how nervous he was feeling.
Mikyou-chan was very much still struggling to come to grips with having snuck out of the hospital and the extraordinariness of her current situation.
Shouta-kun was flinching at everything as a result of his trauma.
Keeping them hanging like this would make for a very boring story, so I decided to wind the development up and introduce the enemy.
Roughly ten meters up ahead, at a distance that was barely within range of the illumination provided by the flashlights, a black form broke the surface of the sewage.
“It’s finally shown itself. Who wants a go? Mikyou? Your PS—superpower is the same element as mine and, uh, is very strong, so… the World Shadow might die from one hit.”
Work a bit harder on the acting, Shouta-kun!
“I-I-I-I-I-I’ll d-d-d-o m-m-my b-b-b-est…”
Mikyou-chan’s eyes were wide open, transfixed at the sight of the slime-like monster pushing its way through the sewage and crawling closer. To her credit, she did not scream or wet herself. At the same time, she was clearly in no shape to do battle.
Okay, this reaction is normal! Delivering a sutra punch the first time encountering a World Shadow is not normal! Neither is immediately charging forward and getting into close-quarters combat (and losing)!
“Hmm, leave this to me. Rest assured, this is nothing compared to the time I faced a squad of the American Special Forces all by myself.”
Shige-jii clad both his hands in black mist and stepped forward. Shouta-kun nodded in acknowledgement, then placed a hand on Mikyou-chan’s shoulder and pulled her back, taking on the role of keeping the World Shadow illuminated with his flashlight.
The old man had very high attack power. A mere punch or kick from him could gouge away entire parts of the World Shadow. This was practically a throwaway match.
I had the blob crawl forward until it was several meters away, then lightly bounce forw—
To my absolute surprise, Shige-jii screamed in response and fell backwards on his butt.
Are you freaking KIDDING me right now?! If you’re gonna act tough, do so to the very end, goddammit! What the hell happens now?! I made it fly at you so that you can defeat it, but now YOU’RE the one who’s fallen over! There is ZERO viewer demand for seeing a wrinkly old man pushed down and assaulted by a slime!
“SHIGE-JII! Shit! Listen, don’t move from here, all right? I’ll freeze—”
“G-Get away from Shige-jii!”
“Whoa! You idiot!”
Just as Shouta-kun was about to leap forward to provide support, Mikyou-chan barreled forward, pushing him aside. In a half frenzy, she brought her PSI drive to bear and unleashed its full force in the direction of the World Shadow. Air at the temperature of absolute zero blasted forwards, freezing everything in its path.
Although her intention was to save Shige-jii, the trajectory of her attack had Shige-jii completely in the line of fire. If it had been Shouta-kun that she was directing her attack at, then he might have dodged it somehow; the same could not be said of the old man who was now guaranteed a frosty death entombed in ice.
Death by friendly fire is no joke!
I cast a temperature-isolating barrier over Shige-jii in the nick of time. By the time Shouta-kun managed to suppress Mikyou-chan’s frantic brandishing of her weapon, she had expended all the fuel within the contraption and Shige-jii had fainted dead away within the embrace of the now entirely frozen World Shadow.
God, what a mess.
After Shouta-kun extracted Shige-jii in this sewer that now felt like wintertime, he had the two new members kneel in seiza before him. He tapped the khakkhara PSI drive that he had confiscated against his shoulder.
“I said to stay calm, right? And to not panic, right?”
“Y-Yes, you did…”
“And still everything went to shit. Shige-jii, if something is too much for you to handle, say it.”
“No, no, it wasn’t too much, I, I, I was just feeling a bit under the wea—”
“AHHHHHHHHH! I’M GOING TO DIE! S-SAVE MEEEEE!”
“I didn’t say the last two! But, uh, ahem, yes, it was a bit much for me. Apologies.”
Having decided that it would be impossible to keep up his front to the end, Shige-jii decided to cut his losses now before it got worse for him. It was because he still had this discernment that I couldn’t entirely hate him for being an old man so full of lies.
“And as for you, Mikyou…”
Shouta-kun turned to reprimand Mikyou-chan as well, but he found her quivering and hanging her head with a deathly pale expression on her face. Anything he said to her now would be exacerbating whatever negative emotions she was currently feeling.
So he simply sighed, nicked his fingertip with a blade of ice, then refilled Mikyou-chan’s PSI drive with his blood. He gestured to the other two to get back to their feet and threw the PSI drive back to the girl.
“There’s no guarantee we won’t encounter another World Shadow. Hold onto that for if we really do meet another one on our way out. But don’t use it. Using power that you’ve gained is easy. What you have to learn is how to not use it.
“It’s not as if I don’t get where you’re coming from — believe me when I say that I feel you very much. When I first Awakened to my power, I used it every chance I got. I snuck around to my school’s pond to freeze it just ’cus I could. I purposely filled the thermos I brought to school with warm barley tea so I could enjoy cooling it down with my power. Back when I could only generate -10℃ air from my hands, I got cocky and rushed forward to punch a World Shadow. I lost and nearly lost my life that time.”
Yeah, it sounds really convincing coming from someone with real-life experiences.
“Well, all I’m trying to say is… Don’t get overconfident on borrowed power.”
“Borro—Wait. This isn’t my power?”
Mikyou-chan stared suspiciously at the khakkhara PSI drive, her brows drawn in a fierce frown.
Shit! Shit! Shit! Gloss it over! Save the situation!
“Shit! Uh, that’s…”
“Ahem! Hinokage-kun, you see…”
“No, but then… Wait, you filled it with your blood just now… We have similar powers… I GET IT NOW! You guys were lying to me! I knew something was off! It’s weird that I’m the only one who has to use a prop! Everything that all of you mentioned about how it feels to use a superpower, I felt none of it! YOU LIED TO ME!”
The put-up job has completely fallen apart!
It’s already fallen apart on freaking Day 1!
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.
Wow, such empty!