There Was No Secret Evil-Fighting Organization (srsly?!), So I Made One MYSELF!
Chapter 8: Update
Volume 5: † The Double Wings of Shade †
The next morning after the jumping incident at the hospital, Kaburagi-san came to Ama-no-Iwato cosplaying as Underling Girl Lily-chan, the villain in the show Magical Girl Carol-chan.
As soon as she arrived, she promptly launched into explaining her idea for fixing the fallout from Shige-jii’s put-up job. She even had a slideshow that she was controlling with a tablet.
“—In other words, it might seem like she hates society but the possibility of her acting on it is very low. I’m pretty sure that she just has a foul mouth but is a good girl at heart. In order to confirm this—”
The analysis that Kaburagi-san was presenting on Mikyou-chan was exactly the same as what I had found out by coincidence last night.
I struggled to bring it up. I had come to her, asking to make this an urgent thing, but all her work had been rendered useless. It was super hard to break the news, but I couldn’t not.
“One effective method to find out someone’s fundamental behavioral principle is to place them in a situation where they cannot think clearly, such as when they’ve just woken up, when they are in danger for their lives, or when they are pressured to take action under a rapidly approaching time limit. That is when people’s true feelings come out. For example—”
“Um, Kaburagi-san, just…”
“Yes, a question?”
“No, it’s, uhhh… Like, last night… Um, everything…kinda just resolved itself?”
I kept checking Kaburagi-san’s face as I went over what had happened last night, but she only maintained a soft smile the entire time. Her poker face was so good that I had no idea if she was mad or if she didn’t mind. Mommy, I’m so scared.
After quietly listening to the very end, Kaburagi-san nodded once, then said just three words.
“I’m going back.”
“AHHHHH! NO, WAIT, PLEASE! I WAS IN THE WRONG! PLEASE DON’T ABANDON ME PLEEEEASE!”
She is mad! She’s totally furious!
I grabbed her sleeve to stop her as she started putting her tablet away and leaving. She tilted her head questioningly.
“Why are you so flustered? These things happen. It’s not like you did it on purpose, right? Don’t worry about it.”
“But you’re angry about it!”
“I am angry.”
A straight jab of absolute flame from Kaburagi-san! I really appreciated how she would admit it outright when she was angry, but that did little to change the fact that I was still dead.
Forgive me! I was in the wrong! I admit I was wrong! I’ll never do it again!
Even I could tell that letting her go at this moment would sour our relationship. This, compounded with how she had been cooped up in the magic castle and almost never showed her face at Ama-no-Iwato lately, was definitely going to drive a wedge between the two of us.
“Kaburagi-san, calm down. I’m sure we can talk this through.”
“I’m perfectly calm. I think you need to calm down more than me, Sago-san. Really, why are you so flustered?”
“Whut? Uh, that’s…”
This is really embarrassing to say out loud.
“I thought this made you sick of me…”
“……Fufu. Oh, I’ll always love you, Sago-san.”
After looking surprised for a short while, Kaburagi-san’s face broke into a huge smile. She wrapped me in her arms and whispered into my ear.
She’s so soft!
My ears are so blessed!
She smells so good!
I’m in love.
“Chi chi! Chi chi chi chi chi chi chi!”
Ig, who had been playing by herself on the counter, chittered intimidatingly. Then she leaped at Kaburagi-san, clambered up her clothes swiftly, gave her ear a strong whack using the toy cymbals she had been playing with, then proceeded to raise an enormous cacophony by smashing the pair of cymbals together.
Thanks to Ig’s interception, I barely managed to regain my sanity. I was on the very edge of entering a zombie-like state where I could only repeat “I wuv Kabuwagi-san.” Whew, that was a close one.
By the way, I think I pretty much got confessed to just now. Am I supposed to say it back?
No, hold on. That “I’ll always love you” could have meant nothing more to her than words to reassure a silly son or younger brother. Could it be that because I’ve caused her so much trouble and am so dependent on her that she no longer even sees me as a guy?
I have no idea. I can’t tell anymore.
My head was in a complete mess as I watched Kaburagi-san pick Ig up and put her back into her nest box. She looked like she was in a really good mood in spite of what Ig just did.
“Sago-san, did you feel lonely because I wasn’t around?”
“Y-Yeah, sort of.”
“Yeah? Then I’m back starting today. Looks like I won’t be seeing the castle again for a while.”
I wasn’t sure what just happened, but apparently Kaburagi-san was back to being around.
All’s well that ends well… I guess?
◇ ◇ ◇
Ten days after the incident at the hospital, Hinokage Mikyou began training her superpower source, shadofilament, which granted her the ability to manipulate her own shadow, a power otherwise known as erebokinesis.
The thicker the shadow — which meant the stronger the light — the easier it was to manipulate. The paler the shadow, the harder.
Roughly speaking, if the brightness was doubled, she could move it twice as easily and over twice the distance.
At the very start, she could move her shadow by 2 cm under 500 lux (the general brightness inside a room lit with a fluorescent light), 4 cm under 1,000 lux (the brightness of twilight), and 04 mm under 10 lux (the light of a candle).
Now that it was summer, if the sky was clear, the sun shone with about 100,000 lux when it was at its zenith. Under that light, Mikyou-chan could move her shadow around 400 cm.
In other words, the brighter her surroundings were, the more powerful this ability became. In a completely dark room, it was completely useless.
Superpowers that had such easily noticeable effects from the get-go were quite rare. Mikyou-chan also had a pretty high growth rate that enabled her to increase her range by 1.8 times every two days.
However, she could only move her shadow in one dimension — either closer to or away from herself. There was no way to use it to attack enemies, protect herself, or support allies. The most it was capable of was perhaps giving someone a jump. Even if she piled on the fundamental training, all it would amount to was eliciting comments like, “Wow, the shadow is moving! So cool!” How effective she would be on the team would have to depend on how far her adaptability training could go.
As Mikyou-chan had a relatively high growth rate and her training was quite smooth, she became capable of moving her shadow over 7 m three weeks into training. So we moved onto adaptability training without further ado.
We started by moving the light source. Up till now, she had been standing in front of a fixed light source and moving her shadow along the direction of the rays. Now, however, we would move the light.
Naturally, doing so caused the shadow to move. The idea here, therefore, was to have her resist that movement. In the same way, we had her resist the changes to the shape of the shadow when we altered the angle of the light source.
We were trying to help her go beyond merely expanding and shrinking natural shadows cast by light to where she could intentionally alter and maintain the shadows in different shapes and sizes.
Thanks to this training, after a week, Mikyou-chan mastered how to freely manipulate the form of her shadow regardless of the position and angle of light. Additionally, we learned that she could not sever her own shadow and could only move shadows directly connected to herself.
So then we moved onto perception training.
The effectiveness of shadofilament was based on brightness. The darker the place, the more resistant shadows were; the brighter the place, the easier they were to manipulate. This correlation was completely unrelated to Mikyou-chan’s own senses.
Even when Mikyou-chan had her eyes closed, if the shadow in front of her was cast by a strong light, she would be able to manipulate it easily. In other words, she could perceive light through her shadows.
In order to sharpen this ability, we blindfolded Mikyou-chan and had her guess the exact lux as we turned the brightness on a lantern up and down. Of course, we did procure a photodetector so that we could match her answers against accurate readings.
Fact was, there were already people who could sense light without seeing it. Case in point, there were blind people who could immediately tell when someone turned the light on in the room.
A prominent theory was that because light contained energy, these people could sense the slight warmth generated when light hit their skin.
This was just one among many other examples of how people who lost their sight would end up with their other senses being more developed.
If a non-esper could do it, there was no reason why an esper couldn’t.
To describe things without context, Shige-jii was frequenting a hospitalized middle school girl’s room with weird contraptions in hand, blindfolding her, and flicking a lantern on and off while plying her with questions. Someone not in the know could have easily mistaken the situation as him brainwashing her, among other equally unpleasant possibilities, so I strictly and repeatedly reminded him to never get caught by the nurses.
Once again, Mikyou-chan cleared this training in a week. Now, she could determine the lux of a light to the single digit even with her eyes closed. At the same time, this also meant she could sense the thickness and size of her own shadow as an extension of her own body without seeing it.
Since she had become capable of manipulating her shadow and sensing it, it became time to undergo adaptability training for making the shadows 3D.
If she mastered this, her ability would immediately become elevated from being something on the level of mere sleight of hand to an actual power that could be used to fight against the World Shadows. And honestly, I wouldn’t have known what to do with her if she couldn’t do it. I mean, the logic makes sense. She shouldn’t have any problems.
If you thought about it realistically, there was no way that shadows could become 3D. However, Touka-chan’s flames were a sort of pseudo-flame that could do many things that normal flames could not do, and the same went for Ruu-denka’s electricity. The shadows that Mikyou-chan controlled were also a kind of pseudo-shadow, so it should be possible to make them 3D.
Or so I think. Hopefully.
’Cus we’re talking erebokinesis here! There are stories with characters that can use shadows to make giant scythes to mow enemies down or tentacles to take people captive, right?! I really want to see Mikyou-chan doing it!
Of course, these depictions were all imaginations coming from the mind of creators and there was no guarantee that Mikyou-chan could actually achieve any of them.
In the end, Ruu-denka’s electrokinesis had turned out completely unusable. In the same way, for all we knew, Mikyou-chan could very well also end up as an esper with zero fighting strength who would only manipulate her own shadow and tell how bright a room was — nifty tricks to be sure, but also practically useless.
But we can at least dream, can’t we? I hear Mikyou-chan exclaiming, “I feel like I’m dreaming!” often nowadays, but please don’t let this end as a mere dream. If she’s allowed to dream, let me dream too.
The training for 3D-ization required the use of a moving light source once again.
First, we shone a light on Mikyou-chan so that her shadow was cast on the floor. Then we slowly changed the angle of the source so that her shadow gradually elongated — not unlike the effect of the sun setting — until it reached the edge of the room and started climbing up the wall. The idea was for her to grasp how that felt, which was something that we expected her to be capable of after having developed her sensing capabilities.
My hypothesis was basically that when she figured out how to move shadows vertically as well as she could horizontally, then the leap to 3D should be easy.
The actual training went extremely smoothly. There was no telling whether it was due to my training menu being spot-on or due to Mikyou-chan actually being a genius overflowing with talent, but she did manage to master 3D-ization in three weeks. In her words, “You know how it feels like your body’s getting left behind when you ride the elevator down? Yeah, moving shadows in 3D feels like that.” I thought I sort of understood what she was referring to.
What with everything going on, summer and almost all of fall was gone in the blink of an eye. Before we knew it, November was upon us.
I suggested that we do a big event before winter break, so Kaburagi-san went ahead with the preparations while I continued to supervise Mikyou-chan’s training and took part in the development of brand new PSI drives.
After the incident where the president of Kaneyama Tech — the metals processing company that handled the development and maintenance of our PSI drives — attempted to frame me in a social assassination attempt, he had felt morally indebted to Kaburagi-san and me. Even when we made rather unreasonable requests of him, he would still say yes and work on it without complaint, taking all the necessary measures to help keep it under wraps.
At the start, PSI drive technology was so reliant on Baba’s technical cooperation that Kaneyama Tech couldn’t even provide maintenance without her help. However, three years had passed since the start of development.
Three years was quite a lot of time to analyze and understand even otherworldly technology. Now, even without Baba, Kaneyama Tech was more than capable of providing complete overhauls for PSI drives, producing replacement parts, and developing entirely new models.
Kaneyama Tech was a genuine company that, after becoming Amaterasu’s business partner, had grown so big that it had already become listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
It had enormous capital, liberally invested into infrastructure and human capital, and provided all employees with more than generous benefits. I’d spotted their advertisements on the train recently, and I knew they were also airing commercials on TV.
The three factors of being financially stable, having very talented employees, and being trustworthy made Kaneyama Tech the perfect backing enterprise for a secret organization.
Which was only natural, of course, as we had been actively supporting it for the past few years using my telekinesis and Kaburagi-san’s maneuvering. I guess you can say that in a way, Kaneyama Tech is also our baby.
The new PSI drives being finalized at Kaneyama Tech that I had requested were none other than warp gates and transformation rings.
Both ran on fuel processed from Shige-jii’s blood.
After undergoing twenty-nine rounds of growth, Shige-jii’s universarcomere finally hit its growth ceiling, leaving him with a maximum storage capacity of 149,400 L. This was roughly the size of the average semi-trailer truck.
The maximum range to which he could extend his black mist was five meters. Being able to teleport freely made him almost completely unbeatable, but this was only within these five meters.
However, the new PSI drive was going to resolve this limitation for him.
When the new PSI drive that ran on Shige-jii’s blood was activated, a black mist would appear. This black mist was connected to the hyperdimensional pocket created through Shige-jii’s power.
Accordingly, if a PSI drive in Brazil and another PSI drive in Tokyo were both activated together, it was possible to travel between the two points via the black mist.
Specifically, traveling from Tokyo to Brazil involved:
- Activate the PSI drive in Tokyo.
- Jump into the black mist that is generated before the hyperdimensional pocket becomes completely filled with the air flowing in.
- Activate the PSI drive in Brazil. The pocket becomes accessible from both Tokyo and Brazil.
- Deactivate the PSI drive in Tokyo.
- Deactivate the PSI drive in Brazil.
- The pocket becomes dispelled. Everything that had been within the pocket, including the air, is ejected on the Brazilian side.
This process had to be strictly followed.
It was because the black mist generated by Shige-jii himself and the black mist generated by the PSI drives were all connected to the same place that this gimmick was possible.
So, long story short, we now had warp gates powered by Shige-jii’s blood!
The warp gate PSI drive was a rectangular, silver-colored metallic frame. When it was switched on, a black mist would appear within the frame. Its appearance was exactly how people imagined warp gates to look like.
All the animal experiments were done, and we had largely confirmed that it was indeed safe to use the gates.
After all the mouse experiments passed without issue, the Kaneyama Tech researchers stepped into the gate with the solemnity of being the first man to step onto the moon. Of course, everything ended up fine. The entire team of thirty men and women all tried it, and none reported feeling ill or any negative side effects. Through this, we now knew that these warp gates were safe for humans. And because time was stopped inside the hyperdimensional pocket, the researchers had no memories of when they entered and passed through.
It was a bit more complicated for espers.
Just because non-espers could pass through without issue, it did not necessarily mean the same for espers. So I came up with the idea to throw activated PSI drives through the warp gate.
The PSI drives that were loaded with fuel processed from blood drawn from me, Touka-chan, Shouta-kun, Ig, Chris, Oyabun, Miyama, and Denka came back out the other side with no problems. And because time was stopped inside the gate, the amount of fuel inside the PSI drives were the same as when they had been thrown in.
Things were not as smooth when it came to Kaburagi-san and Mikyou-chan’s PSI drives.
Kaburagi-san’s PSI drive came back out with the fuel significantly depleted. This indicated the possibility that when Kaburagi-san entered the warp gate, she would be floating around inside the hyperdimensional space, aware of the passage of time and fully conscious. In all likelihood, their two powers were interfering with each other due to how closely time and space was related.
In light of this, Kaburagi-san threw a few more detective devices into the gate to gather more data, then went to consult a renowned physicist for his opinion without actually revealing the full circumstances.
After much consideration — the details of which went completely over my head — the end conclusion was that there would be no problem.
And sure enough, after Kaburagi-san gingerly stepped into the gate, she came back out without issue.
According to her, the inside of the hyperdimensional space had no gravity and was completely dark. She could indeed feel time passing, but that was it, and there weren’t any particular side-effects or lingering symptoms from the experience.
Mikyou-chan’s PSI drive was a whole different matter altogether.
The instant Mikyou-chan’s PSI drive entered the warp gate, it reappeared in Shige-jii’s chest. It had completely fused with his body as if it was a part of his flesh or an organ, causing him to faint with shock.
Kaburagi-san immediately stopped time, allowing me to use telekinesis to extract the PSI drive. I then grabbed the healing PSI drive that we had prepared in advance for emergencies and activated it at full power.
Because of our timely response, Shige-jii came out of the incident completely fine and none the worse for wear. However, considering how much of a problem it had been with just a PSI drive, it was clear that it was going to be outright impossible for Mikyou-chan herself to use the gates.
In all likelihood, this was because Mikyou-chan and Shige-jii were just too compatible. Their superpowers interfered far too intensely with each other, probably due to the both of them being related to darkness in some way.
And so in the end, the conclusion was that, aside from Mikyou-chan, all of us could use the warp gate without worry. Sorry you’re the only one left out, Mikyou-chan.
However, Kaneyama Tech was continuing their development of the gate. For all we knew, there might be a day when she could also pass through safely.
Currently, only one pair of the warp gate existed because it was too elaborate to mass-produce. So we set them up at the magic castle and the secret base underneath Ama-no-Iwato.
As I mentioned, we had two new PSI drives.
The other one was the transformation ring.
We called it the transformation ring, but technically, it was a set of two rings and two anklets.
All of them contained precise trackers and PSI drive mechanisms that worked together to accurately detect the wearer’s body shape.
When the two rings were struck together, a black mist would envelop the wearer’s body and instantaneously summon their battle suit through a hyperdimensional pocket and equip them in it. This was the long-awaited solution to the annoyance of having to change into the suits.
At the start, Shouta-kun and Touka-chan had to waste precious minutes physically changing into their battle suits before sortieing. Then somewhere along the way, they felt like it wasn’t worth the trouble and started heading to battles just in their school uniforms. Neither method was normal — I actually thought of this development as more of a return to how things were supposed to be.
In concert with the implementation of the transformation rings, we also upgraded everybody’s battle suits.
Up to now, we had been restricted to using cloth out of consideration for storage space and portability. However, now that the suits could be directly summoned, this was no longer an issue. We could make them as heavy as we wanted.
Consequently, the new suits were less suits and more armor. They looked like jet-black lightweight armor for knights.
The main material was an alloy combining titanium, palladium, platinum, and nickel among other things, and fibre-reinforced plastic was used to cover the joints. The overall design was thin and form-fitting. It was light yet protective, easy to move around in, and, most importantly, chic and stylish.
Looking cool was important. Subtlety aside, all the enemies that Amaterasu fought were prepared and controlled by me, which meant I could freely alter their attack power. As such, the thickness of the armor was entirely inconsequential.
If I got serious, I could reduce a 30 cm shield made of pure steel to mere atoms. On the other hand, if I held back, I could make it so that I couldn’t even puncture a piece of paper 0.1 mm thick. This was why although we did put thought into the practicality of the armor, our main focus was on making it look kewl.
We’re talking about a full-body armor made of titanium alloy here! Of course we have to design it to look awesome!
And so I went to hand out the transformation rings.
I could easily call Shouta-kun, Touka-chan, and Kaburagi-san to Ama-no-Iwato, so it took me almost no time at all to give them their rings. Mikyou-chan, however, lived in a hospital and so I had to go to her myself. When I arrived at the special ward at Ota General Hospital, I found Mikyou-chan, whose complexion had been rather bright lately, battling Shige-jii using unbelievably old-fashioned tops that were basically acorns with toothpicks stuck in them. What’s this? A grandpa playing with his grandchild? And am I seeing things or are the tops teleporting and splitting into shadow clones every once in a while?
I nodded lightly in response to their greetings, then lifted the attaché case that I had brought just for looks and placed it prominently on top of the Japanese-style writing desk next to the bed.
“The thing you mentioned the other day?”
“Mhm. The rings.”
Shige-jii stood up, sparkles in his eyes, and reached out towards the attaché case. However, he stopped himself, took a step back, and bowed in an exaggeratedly courteous manner towards Mikyou-chan, gesturing with one hand.
“As they say, ladies first. After you, Hinokage-kun.”
“Is acting cool a necessary bodily function for you?”
In spite of her acidic words, Mikyou-chan looked somewhat appreciative of Shige-jii’s gesture as she stretched out a hand to open the attaché case and picked up the rings engraved with her initials.
“Does it matter which ring goes on which hand? The large ones go on my ankles, right?”
“Hold on a moment, Hinokage-kun. There is a user’s manual. Hmm, yes, they should have L and R on them.”
“You’re putting the one saying R on your left hand.”
“They should have made the letters more prominent!”
I’m glad to see the two of them as close as ever. But that makes it all the more a pity how Mikyou-chan has to stay in the hospital.
She was not exactly hospital-bound, as in, she was staying there only because she was sickly and it was best to be close to care. Admittedly, exploring the sewers during summertime wasn’t the greatest idea from a hygienic standpoint. I personally thought that carrying out the occasional bad idea was part and parcel of enjoying life, but Mikyou-chan’s genetic disease was too much of a handicap. The flying, jumping, and vigorous movements involved with fighting against the World Shadows would be too much of a burden on her body.
In regards to this, Mikyou-chan’s papa was working hard day in and day out. And as it happened, he was getting close to a breakthrough.
Genetic diseases were caused by abnormalities at the genetic level. This was something that was beyond even Ig’s all-powerful healing ability.
However, at times, a thousand years of cumulative human technological development could surpass superpowers.
The name of the scientific crystallization of human effort in this case was “gene therapy.”
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.
Yay, no footnotes this chapter!