There Was No Secret Evil-Fighting Organization (srsly?!), So I Made One MYSELF!
Side Story: The Truth is Always Obscured
Volume 5: † The Double Wings of Shade †
The way the average person saw it was that it had been terrifyingly realistic but no one actually got hurt, much less died. All related parties had been informed beforehand that this was a drill where terrorists would attack, and terrorists did attack. That was it.
This made the super fusion transformation mode at the end seem all the more bizarre.
Hinokage Mikyou had slipped away during the drill, then jumped from the second floor balcony of the gym while shouting something. However, her foot got caught and she started falling headfirst. Then everything got obscured in a sudden smokescreen.
The person who appeared from the smoke wasn’t Hinokage Mikyou but a pretty janitor lady muttering something to herself and crying. The shadows around her squirmed vigorously before suddenly spreading in the blink of an eye and enveloping everyone in darkness. When it receded, all the terrorists had disappeared.
The lady mournfully exchanged a few words with the school chairman, who had appeared in the gym doorway all of a sudden, before walking off. Several minutes later, the principal peeked outside on behalf of the unsettled students and teachers and found the terrorists laying in a pile, all out cold, and the chairman busily tying them up. Soon after, guards arrived in a truck and drove all the terrorists away.
And that was the general account of what had happened.
The general perception was that the school was conducting a normal drill when someone who was clearly an esper got involved for no conceivable reason.
After everything was over, Mikyou-chan returned to the group and explained that she had been looking for an opportunity to defeat the terrorists. Because of this, she gained a reputation as a cringey person who had slipped away during a drill to be a hero.
However, a few teachers, including Ebi-sen, and some students who seemed to have faint suspicions came to her defense. Kaburagi-san also said, “drills are indeed for learning how to handle unforeseen developments,” expressing her support in a roundabout way. As a result, Mikyou-chan seemed to have made a few friends from this incident. Sharing secrets really was effective in making friends.
The janitor uniform worn by the pretty esper lady was indeed that of the company that Ashinohara Academy contracted. However, upon being questioned, the company confirmed that they did not have an employee who matched the described appearance. As such, the identity of the lady remained shrouded in mystery.
Because the shadow barrier cast by the mystery woman had enveloped the entire school campus under broad daylight, naturally, it had been spotted by many people. Rumors abounded and onlookers gathered for a while.
However, reporters and police paid the incident so little attention it almost seemed suspicious. This was, of course, because Chairman Kaburagi, who had extended her influence into every aspect of society, had clamped down on the matter. Due to this, the swarms of reporters never came and everything was oddly peaceful in disproportion to the flashiness of the display of supernatural power. Kaburagi-san’s years of effort had not been for nothing.
It was because of incidents like these that well-founded rumors of Japan sheltering espers or being controlled by espers in the shadows never went away.
It was the truth and it was fine the way it was.
In regards to Shige-jii, well, he was just the old janitor and didn’t really do anything conspicuous, so no one ever mentioned him in relation to the incident. He muttered something cool like, “Such is the fate of one who lives in the shadows,” but I knew that he repeatedly visited the school’s online forums searching for mentions of himself for quite a while afterwards.
After hearing the “true” account from Mikyou-chan, Shouta-kun and Touka-chan apologized for not arriving in time to help and Kuma-san went, “If only I had been a janitor too!”
The terrorists were sent to a war zone and were kept busy working for a well-funded anti-terrorist squad.
Basically, a lot happened, but everything wrapped up nicely. Now we also knew that the dark duo’s fusion was replicable. It was apparently a pretty uncomfortable feeling, however, so it would now be treated as a last resort kind of trump card.
One last thing that was a bit of a pity was that the new transformation rings that we had developed had been entirely forgotten about. Let alone not being used, nobody even remembered their existence. That did make a tear fall from my eye.
Well, these things happen.
◇ ◇ ◇
Kameyama Kousuke (21 years old) was a private investigator.
After failing to get into college, he took up residence in a run-down apartment and, because he did not want to take the exams again or look for work, started living as a NEET under the guise of being a private investigator. Before he knew it, though, he had actually become one.
The Super Water Sphere Incident had happened immediately after his high school graduation, throwing the world into an almost dangerous level of zeal for superpowers. Everybody wanted their own superpower and lapped up every last morsel of news about superpowers. And that was something that Kameyama managed to take advantage of.
Those who were not satisfied with official announcements from the government and gossip magazines had only two options available to them: to investigate on their own, or to hire someone to investigate for them.
Because of manga and games, the general populace has a somewhat misguided understanding of what being a private investigator entailed. They imagine them making brilliant deductions, being called in by the police as consultants, making connections with informants, and sticking their necks into murder and mystery cases to always bring out the truth.
The more realistic portrayals in media show them investigating cases of infidelity and looking for things and people, but the reality was even harsher. Only large investigative firms and investigators already with a reputation would get jobs. It made sense — no one would bring a case to an investigator working alone with no achievements to speak of.
If conditions had remained severe, Kameyama might have eventually given up this life and turned to something else. However, the times were in his favor.
Thanks to the Super Water Sphere Incident, investigative firms became flooded with requests. Business boomed so much that work came to even Kameyama, who had put up an ad on social media half as a joke.
Despite not having expected this godsend opportunity, he accepted it wholeheartedly and threw himself into this work.
At the start, his work was little better than that of a complete amateur.
He did Google searches, combed through social media, fished through trash bags, and did some tailing.
He consulted manga for investigative techniques, applying them in person to discern which were actually useful in real life.
As he continued his work, he gained regular customers and made connections.
Three years in, he now even had his own office, small and inconveniently-located though it was. Before he knew it, he had actually become a proper investigator. He even had part-timers on payroll.
When Kameyama bumped into a former classmate on the street and, when asked, told him that he was now a private investigator, the classmate had been very surprised. However, the truth was that Kameyama himself still was not very clear what his own job was. He was groping in the dark most of the time, wondering whether what he was doing actually constituted being an investigator. That said, the experience and techniques that he had accrued in this short period of time were real, and from the perspective of the general layman, he did indeed come across as a proper investigator.
Nowadays, the explosion of fervor from the Super Water Sphere Incident had largely died down, but many customers still came with superpower-related requests.
It was general knowledge in the industry that the government, police, and mass media were under pressure to leave espers alone as much as possible. There was no solid proof, but anyone could see that these major organizations were reluctant to move on matters related to superpowers.
This fueled the market for the investigative industry.
Because all the major investigative organizations were malfunctioning, small investigators that would have normally died out from lack of attention and work were now flooded with requests.
Most of Kameyama Investigative Agency’s work was related to superpowers, with scams based on superpowers bringing in the most money. This involved introducing poor victims who had fallen for scams things like “This pill can activate the power sleeping within you!” or “I’ll introduce you to a secret organization of espers for the CHEAP PRICE of only ¥30,000!” to lawyers and doing a little bit of digging. These usually didn’t require much effort, and even came with kickbacks from the lawyers they were introducing.
Kameyama had gotten used to handling such cases after completing dozens of them.
As a sole proprietor, his income was entirely dependent on the volume of work he took on and he got no bonuses — rather, he was the one who had to pay his part-timers bonuses. However, there were periods that practically counted as bonus seasons.
There was the Super Water Sphere Incident where a gigantic sphere of water appeared over Tokyo Bay.
There was the Hanegacha Incident where a passenger plane was headed straight for the heart of Tokyo but was then saved by espers.
There was the 70/30 Incident where a mysterious power split an island in half.
Every time espers did something, the number of jobs exploded. It became Fever Time1.
Although he had not been able to benefit much from the Marineland Incident, which had been overseas, he managed to get a bite into the next big incident, the Ashinohara Academy Terrorist Incident, from the very start.
Whereas he normally gave his part-timers work irregularly and had them work separately, he now called them all in and put them on a shift roster.
Kameyama Investigative Agency had, aside from the boss, three part-time employees. The full roster was as follows:
There was the high school grad boss, Kameyama.
There was the freeter2, Takanashi.
There was the high school student, Satou.
And there was Satou’s classmate, Najeen.
Takanashi was one of those so-called part-timer warriors; he hopped around frequently between a large variety of short-term part-time jobs without partiality. He was well-known in many circles, had a versatile skill set, and was worldly-wise. He also served as an exemplary source of information thanks to his access to the deeper parts of various industries. On top of all this, he also possessed an incredible nose for avoiding dangerous cases. He was such a handy employee that Kameyama had lately been trying to entice him into coming on full-time. To little avail, however, as the man himself claimed to like the freedom of being a freeter and was not particularly interested in full-time employment.
Satou, the high schooler, was an absolutely normal teenager. No more and no less than a run-of-the-mill high schooler. As could be expected of someone attending a high-end private school, he was a bit sharper than peers of his age. However, he did not possess any special skills or strengths. Conversely, neither did he have any major faults, so Kameyama valued him highly as an asset.
In the case of the recent Ashinohara Academy Terrorist Incident, although he had been in a separate campus at the time, his identity as an enrolled student gave him an advantage in digging up all sorts of information.
Him being a high school student meant that he could not be asked to do anything that took a long time, but Kameyama was willing to offer him full-time employment after he graduated if he was interested.
Najeen was the princess of Tsukimori-gumi, the gang that controlled all of the yakuza forces within Japan. Whenever she took an alleyway, brawny guys with rough looks and Strangers wearing bizarre outfits and decked out in tattoos would give her friendly greetings. Whenever anyone talked about “the dangerous member of Kameyama Investigative Agency,” they were referring to her.
On top of possessing strong connections to the underworld, Najeen herself was also extremely quick-witted and was oddly sharp when it came to analyzing scenes. Many times, she simply had to look around a scene or examine physical evidence for a few dozen seconds before being able deduce everything that had happened with such accuracy it was almost as if she had seen it for herself.
Her almost supernatural investigative ability was an incredible help, and she had no qualms about skipping school to enthusiastically pursue cases that caught her fancy. What’s more, because she had bright blonde hair like the sun and beautiful blue eyes, she was the best person to send when negotiating with guys.
The only problem was, due to her close proximity with yakuza, she would sometimes show up at the office with bloodstains at the edges of her clothing, giving Kameyama a fright. She was indeed very capable, but it was clearly a bad idea to get too deeply involved with her.
Even Takanashi had said so, and Kameyama fully agreed.
Immediately after the Ashinohara Academy Terrorist Incident, Kameyama swiftly launched an investigation, making a killing answering everything that his clients asked. Within three days, he had earned a total of ¥300,000, which equated to around US$2,700. He felt like he had won big at the races.
However, this momentum only lasted for the first three days. On the fourth day, Najeen washed her hands of the investigation.
According to her,
“I thought this was done by a rogue esper, but now I’m starting to think it might be connected to a certain secret organization. If I dig any deeper, Aniki might get mad at me.”
Apparently the incident was tied to considerations regarding the balance of power in the yakuza world. In a way, Najeen had much more power than Kameyama, so there was nothing he could do when the employee he had expected the most from just up and dropped the case.
The next person who quit was Takanashi. The day after Najeen quit, he learned that the guards who played the role of terrorists had been shipped off to a war-torn country.
“This smells like danger, so I’m done.”
And just like that, he also dropped out.
With two people gone, only two were left.
The fact that Takanashi thought the case was dangerous meant that there was a high likelihood it really was. Kameyama knew he ought to withdraw from the case too.
However, money was basically falling from the sky right now. It would be way too much of a waste to not pick it up.
While Kameyama was deep in thought, sitting in his chair at the office with his arms crossed and weighing danger against profit in his mind, a knock sounded at the door.
Satou was attending his school’s end-of-term ceremony, so it could not have been him. Kameyama had no choice but to stand up and get the door himself.
There was no one at the door. Kameyama peeked out, but did not see anyone who looked like a client.
Thinking that it was either a prank or he had imagined it, Kameyama headed back to his seat, slightly annoyed. But then he saw the envelope on his chair.
He was dumbstruck.
He had never seen the design of this envelope before. It was not one of those used by his office. It had appeared entirely out of thin air like a magic trick. No, not a magic trick. It was like…
Kameyama gulped. Just in case, he put on a pair of gloves before opening the thick envelope.
It was filled with bills that seemed to add up to ¥1 million and a slip of paper that simply read, “Reward for Completion of the Request to Cease All Investigations into Ashinohara Academy.”
Kameyama almost pissed his pants. He had no recollection of accepting a request to stop investigating. However, that was hardly the main problem here.
The word “reward” was written on the slip of paper, but this was, in essence, a threat along the lines of, “Here’s some money, so stop digging.” The way the envelope had appeared out of thin air left little to the imagination what would happen if he continued regardless. These people could probably do whatever they wanted. They probably had the power to do so.
Kameyama was not an investigator because he thought that it was his calling. He was only someone who had, after failing his exams and shunning job-searching, tried to live an idle life but luckily managed to ride the flow of the times.
So he gave in to the threat without a second thought and Kameyama Investigative Agency stopped looking into the Ashinohara Academy Terrorist Incident.
Kameyama spent the next few days as a very jumpy man, always on the lookout for an esper coming to kill him to ensure he kept his mouth shut. However, nothing else supernatural occurred in his surroundings after the delivery of the envelope. Eventually, he settled back down.
Thinking about it, there was no sweeter deal than gaining a reward of a million yen for doing nothing.
At the same time, as the saying went, the sweeter the deal, the bigger the catch. In this case, there was no telling what would happen if he broke the ban and resumed investigating.
Being able to skirt as close to the line as possible without stepping on the tiger’s tail was the trick to getting by in life.
For the time being, Kameyama took his unexpected reward and treated all his part-timers to yakiniku.
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.