There Was No Secret Evil-Fighting Organization (srsly?!), So I Made One MYSELF!
Chapter 9: Interval
Volume 5: † The Double Wings of Shade †
This treatment method is commonly misunderstood as completely overwriting someone’s DNA, but the truth is slightly different.
Mikyou-chan’s congenital genetic disorder, grass spot disease, was basically a condition where she had buggy genes that were causing her body to manufacture poison that was killing herself.
If left alone, she would die from the poison, so her life was being prolonged through periodic injections of medicine that neutralized the poison. However, this medicine had to be injected together with preservatives, and these preservatives were also poisonous in and of themselves. This naturally took its toll on her body.
It was a classic example of choosing the lesser evil — in this case, the weaker poison. The strong poison would kill her quickly, so she had to take the weaker poison to stay alive.
For the longest time, Mikyou-chan’s treatment plan had only served to alleviate the symptoms of her illness instead of curing it directly. Now, however, there was gene therapy to do the latter.
There was nothing to be done about Mikyou-chan’s body creating poison. The solution, therefore, was to inject DNA into her that would cause her body to also create the antidote that would completely neutralize the poison.
And since the antidote was being created natively within her body, this eliminated the need to introduce it externally with poisonous preservatives.
In the end, her grass spot disease would not get cured. It would remain, but its effects would be constantly negated, allowing her to live a healthy life. Therefore, it was effectively treated. That was the basis of her new treatment plan.
I didn’t understand the full details, but apparently it was based on the idea of “extracting bone marrow stem cells and, using various vectors in a multi-step process, overwriting their DNA with sequences that could produce enzymes designed with molecular engineering to break down the toxins and re-introducing those cells back into her body.” Honestly, it sounded like a spell to me more than anything. Daaamn, guys.
Mikyou-chan’s dad was someone who had forgone all the time he could have spent playing with his daughter and developing a relationship with her to instead focus solely on treating her illness. He normally seemed indifferent and blasé about everything, which caused the nurses to secretly refer to him using unflattering nicknames such as “tasteless kombu1” and “sterilized face.” When he finally got everything in order and revealed the genetic treatment plan he had developed to Mikyou-chan, a trail of tears trickled down his face, sending the entire hospital staff into an uproar.
This treatment that took thirteen long years to develop was entirely safe, completely effective, and super fast-acting. Three weeks after starting treatment, Mikyou-chan could already be discharged, and her father promptly moved on to finding a middle school for her to transfer into.
All’s well that ends well!
So, moving on.
December rolled around, and the air turned cold and biting. The day before her transfer, Shige-jii drove Mikyou-chan to Ama-no-Iwato to introduce her to everyone and show her around the place.
She showed up fully equipped with a Time Lady and Burning Girl backpack, a black coat, white gloves, leather boots, a scarf, ear muffs, and even heat packs underneath her clothes. Her entire outfit had cost a total of ¥200,000 (US$1,800), ten times more expensive than my own. At the end of the day, she was still the only daughter of the director of a large hospital in the middle of a metropolis. Although her complexion wasn’t okay, her personal appearance was definitely more than okay.
As Shige-jii fixed his bangs in the side mirror of his car, the girl with a sheltered upbringing curiously examined the decorative plant standing in a corner of the staircase that led underground to Ama-no-Iwato’s entrance. It was a rhapis, more commonly known as a lady palm, that we had bought ages ago for Baba to snack on. We only watered it every once in a while when we remembered to and basically did nothing else to take care of it, but it was still growing healthily for some reason.
The number of times that Mikyou-chan had left the premises during her thirteen years of hospital life could be counted on both hands. After the long, long years of fighting against her illness, she was now finally free. However, she seemed somewhat uncomfortable, as if still unused to the change in her circumstances.
Eventually, Shige-jii got his hair exactly how he wanted it and descended the stairs to the bar. Mikyou-chan gripped his sleeve anxiously. The old man smiled gently down at her and gave her head a few pats with his bony hand. The grandpa-ness meter is off the charts!
The two of them pushed the door open, setting off the shopkeeper’s bell. When they walked in, they found Kaburagi-san, Shouta-kun, and me waiting in welcome. Ig and Touka-chan were out for the day, visiting Monkey Army Theatre2, with Kuma-san accompanying them as chaperone and driver. There was no need to introduce Mikyou-chan to Touka-chan again, as the two had already met, but today was the first time that Mikyou-chan was meeting Kaburagi-san in person.
“Welcome to Amaterasu, Mikyou-chan.”
“Huh? Ah, um, th-thank you? I’m uh… glad to be here…?”
Mikyou-chan found herself foundering before the visual preemptive attack of Kaburagi-san being in a modified sailor school uniform. She probably figured out who this unbelievable beauty was from just one look.
“Umm… you’re Time Lady, uh, Kaburagi-san… right?”
“That’s right. And before you ask, I’m wearing this sailor school uniform because it’s cute, I have had surgery done to my face, my breasts have also been enlarged with surgery, and this voice is feigned. And —”
“Are you r— ”
“— I’m not reading your mind. Ahh, I’ve always wanted to say this line.”
Mikyou-chan’s astonishment cut a striking contrast to Kaburagi-san’s composure.
I totally get it. I want to try saying it too. But if I was to use the same format, the only thing I have to say is, “And before you ask, I’m wearing this bartender uniform because I’m a bartender,” to which Mikyou-chan would definitely respond with, “I wasn’t going to ask.” I’m already cringing just imagining the exchange.
“You can tell who I am, right? The name’s Takahashi Shouta. Some call me Freezing Knight.”
“Freezing Knight-san, um…”
“Call me by my last na— No, call me Disciple of the Flame. Or senpai.”
“Then, senpai. Um, senpai, can I have your autograph please?”
Shouta-kun happily signed the autograph board that Mikyou-chan took out from her bag. Damn, it’s like he’s someone famous now. Well, I guess he is famous. His alias, at least, is known worldwide. I’d bet there are people who know his name but don’t know the name of their own president.
After getting Shouta-kun’s signature, Mikyou-chan turned to ask Kaburagi-san and me for ours as well. Whereas Kaburagi-san drew a super fancy signature like what celebrities had, all I could manage was “Invisible Titan” with no embellishments whatsoever. To make it worse, my handwriting was like that of an elementary kid practicing calligraphy.
I’m sorry, I don’t know how to write it in a fancy way. I… should probably have come up with a signature and practiced it beforehand.
“Here, I’ll give you my signature too.”
“Don’t want it, thanks.”
Shige-jii also wrote his signature on a sheet of memo paper, but Mikyou-chan ruthlessly dismissed it. I couldn’t help but to feel bad for the old man.
Once the girl was done putting away the signatures of our world-famous esper group — she looked super happy about it — Kaburagi-san led her downstairs to show her around our secret base. Shouta-kun settled into a seat in the corner of the bar and put his headphones on to listen to recordings to improve his English listening skills. Shige-jii grabbed a counter seat, putting away the signed paper that was now worth little more than trash, and despondently ordered a drink.
“Hapsburg Absinthe Extra Strong on the rocks, please.”
This goddamn old coot. The fuck does he think he’s ordering?
Hapsburg Absinthe Extra Strong was a liqueur with an alcohol content of 89.9%. This was even higher than disinfectant alcohol. Even heavy drinkers would go completely red in the face after a single shot, and most bars would not have it on offer.
“Do you not have it? It’s my favorite drink, but if you don’t have it, I can order something el—”
“We have it.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
When I picked up the light green bottle from its shelf, Shige-jii’s face visibly turned pale.
You ordered it just to act cool banking on us not having it, right? Thing is, we do have it.
Thanks to Kaburagi-san funding everything, our menu here at Ama-no-Iwato is more extensive than you can imagine. We’re a cut above “most bars.”
I served the drink in a glass filled with ice that I had made with a mold. Shige-jii picked it up, his hands trembling three times more than usual. He kept shooting glances at my face as if trying to find an excuse.
What? You ordered it, right? Now, drink.
If you tell me that you don’t want it after all, sure, I’ll take it back. If you can bring yourself to say it, that is.
You wanted to pretend like you’re cool as if you can really hold your drink, right? What’re you gonna do now?
I stared at Shige-jii with an intense gaze while smirking inwardly. Suddenly, he came to a start as if he had realized something and then downed the entire shot in one go.
H-He actually drank it! Even though he drove here! You better call a taxi when you leave!
After chugging the murderous drink, Shige-jii started speaking glibly.
“Phew, this really is the best drink to start with. I love its characteristic bitterness. Many call it strong, but for someone who can really hold his drink, like myself, it’s nothing more than an apéritif. For my next cup, hmm, I think I’ll have a Spirytus.”
Shige-jii then proceeded to order drinks with over 80% alcoholic content one after the other as if he was trying to preserve himself in alcohol before hitting the coffin. I served whatever he ordered, intending on grabbing a healing PSI drive when he got alcohol poisoning, but to my surprise, he remained completely sober no matter how much he drank.
During this time, he went on and on in the way the elderly tend to, telling me stories that I didn’t even ask for. His articulation remained clear, and his face showed no signs of turning red.
Most people would collapse from drinking all this. Was he really such a strong drinker? What’s going on with his liver?
I remained impressed as Shige-jii made a display of downing glass after glass. It was only when he was drinking his seventh shot — Dover Spirits (88% alcoholic content) — as if it was water that I finally caught on.
This sly old coot is throwing the alcohol into a hyperdimensional pocket!
No wonder he looks completely unaffected!
Don’t use your superpowers for a cheap reason like this!
When he heard my mutter, Shige-jii’s hand froze. He had a mystified expression on his face, but I had clearly hit the bull’s-eye.
“……Iced coffee, thanks.”
He went and backed out as soon as I saw through his trick. This is why I can’t bring myself to really hate him.
As Shige-jii drank his cold cup of black coffee with a slight grimace on his face, Mikyou-chan and Kaburagi-san came back upstairs from the secret base. For some reason, Mikyou-chan seemed kind of disgruntled.
“I’ve got work, so I’m going to head out now. I’ll see you next time, Mikyou-chan.”
After saying goodbye to Mikyou-chan and giving me a wink, Kaburagi-san headed out. The girl settled into the seat next to Shige-jii’s and started snacking on the peanuts and mochi chips on the counter while voicing her complaint.
“I’d expected a secret organization to have a more grim atmosphere.”
Mikyou-chan pouted when she saw me tilting my head in confusion.
“You’re dating Kaburagi-san, right, Master?”
“You’re lying. She definitely hinted at it when she was showing me around. I know you’re going out with her. And Takahashi-senpai and Hasumi-senpai are an item, right?”
That’s, well… yeah.
“And there’s, uh, Kuma-san? — a bear? — who’s formed an animal couple with Ig, right? They’re out on a date today, I heard.”
Shige-jii choked and spat out a mouthful of iced coffee. I nearly burst into laughter myself.
What’s with that ship?!
“I mean, you’re all coupled with each other. What is this? Do all Amaterasu members have to be paired up with someone else? I sure as hell don’t want to be paired with Shige-jii.”
Should I remind her that Ruu-denka’s a member too? Getting together with the grand duchess of a principality sounds like a quick and easy way to make it big, right?
“Hmm… how about this? Sago-kun can break up with Kaburagi-kun and pair up with Hinokage-kun. Then I can be with Kaburagi-kun.”
“I will fucking kill you (srsly).”3
“I-I was joking.”
Mikyou-chan’s face, which had originally been quite pale, had turned completely ashen.
Oops, I said my thoughts out loud. Dear oh dear.
I’m sorry, Shige-jii. I know you said it as a joke, but if you ever say it again, I will erase what little lifespan you have left. Just be careful, all right?
Shige-jii eventually went to drive Mikyou-chan home before it got dark, giving Shouta-kun a lift while he was at it.
Silence returned to the bar. As I put the glasses away, I noticed a book that Mikyou-chan had forgotten.
The title was 10 Calamities That Would Wipe Out Humanity.
I flipped through it and noticed “superpowers” being listed right next to “epidemic” and “meteor.”
It sounded like the most absurd one, but was actually now the most realistic. What a strange era it’s become.
I hope Mikyou-chan’s not going to get bullied in school for reading things like this. She has a habit of saying things, so I’m actually kind of worried whether she can make friends. She’s actually really kind at heart, so as long as there’s an opportunity…
Ahhh, so that’s what it was.
So this is why Kaburagi-san suggested what she did for our next event.
It’s true that no one can hate someone who saved their life. I see the logic now.
So the reason why we are staging a terrorist attack at her school is to help her make friends.
That makes so much sense!
Question: What do you do to pass the time during classes you find boring?
#1: Fantasize about gallantly saving your school from terrorists
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) A type of kelp often used to make soup stock because it’s packed with flavor (ie. umami).
3) Reference to the full title of the series, There Was No Secret Evil-Fighting Organization (Srsly?!) So I Made One Myself!