Welcome to Underground
Secret Organization Fighting the World's Darkness
It's a mild spring day. The d.u.c.h.ess of Marineland, Kaburagi Shiori, is elegantly partaking of her afternoon tea in an open sidewalk cafe in Adachi City of downtown Tokyo. The refreshing spring breeze that causes her wavy, waist-length black hair to come loose carries a faint sweet smell. The graceful conduct of this beautiful young woman wearing a black dress that's straight from the pages of a Western novel draws the eyes of the old and young men and women who pa.s.s by. It's as if the s.p.a.ce she occupies is a perfect painting.
Then, *DON!*, I use my psychokinesis.
Kaburagi-san lets out a "Ha~" as she looks down at her plentiful chest. The dog-tag hanging from her neck is vibrating (due to my psychokinesis). It's the signal for an incoming emergency call.
"This is quite unexpected…"
Kaburagi-san mutters to herself with her eyes closed, then opens them, filled with determination. She closes the book she was reading, stands up, and pays her check at the cash register.
"Keep the change. Please excuse me, I'm in a bit of a hurry."
She smiles at the male part-time employee, who's absentmindedly holding a 10000 yen bill and her receipt while staring at her peerless, plastic surgery beauty. The part-timer could only watch, stunned, as the mysterious woman quickly walked away, her high heels making a clicking sound as she went…
…Thus, after recovering the camera hidden behind a potted plant that was recording everything up to now, Kaburagi-san got into her usual black luxury car. Back at Amanoiwato, I made a "guts pose"1 at her, and Kaburagi-san smiled uncontrollably and made a peace sign at the empty air (that was meant for me). That was perfect! We'll appreciate it later when everything is over.
Scene change: at the same time, in a certain private middle school's second year cla.s.sroom. There are two days remaining until spring break, so the atmosphere in the cla.s.sroom is very relaxed. The j.a.panese language teacher's lecture is like a lullaby, putting half of the students to sleep, and causing the other half to sluggishly take notes. The most beautiful girl of their grade, Hasumi Touka, who sits in the back of the cla.s.sroom, is no exception. While occasionally brushing her short hair off of her face, she's absentmindedly doodling a distorted Buddha in the margins of her notes. In the next seat, the delinquent-looking boy with red hair, Takahashi Shouta, has face-planted onto his desk and fallen completely asleep, with only some occasional twitching.
Then, *DON!*, I use my psychokinesis.
Both of their dog-tags vibrate. An emergency call that only these two understand! Though it's a secret, the surprise causes tension in their otherwise peaceful and ordinary life. *Ky*, it can't be helped! It's in order to fight the world's darkness, you know! *Ky*! Look, they both ran off! In order to protect their everyday lives, they will do the extraordinary! And this ojisan is filming all of it!
"Sensei, my stomach hurts, I'm going home early." (Toukchan)
"Ah, I'll escort her home." (Shoutkun)
"Umm, yes?" (Sensei)
Toukchan says her part while quickly standing up and putting both her hands on her stomach in an over-exaggerated manner. Shoutkun looks over and stands up as well, taking advantage of the opportunity Toukchan created by surprising the j.a.panese language teacher. They made eye contact with each other and nodded their heads in sync, then practically ran out of the cla.s.sroom. Their cla.s.smates who were dozing wake up suddenly at the noise of them leaving. Everyone felt uncomfortable. Two people suddenly started exhibiting unusual behavior. They all could guess that it wasn't simply a stomach ache. But if it wasn't a stomach ache, then what was it?
However, even though a look of faint uneasiness was on their faces from the lingering scent of the unusual, there was also no one who was able to take action and chase after the mysterious pair. Cla.s.s isn't over yet, after all. It would be too conspicuous to ask to leave, since the next person to leave would obviously be chasing after them. Also, for some reason, it's embarra.s.sing to do so. *Umu, umu*. The pair's real intentions became clear when they took each other's hands. It's too bad, but even if there was a chance to leave, it would be better to not make a move…
In the end, the j.a.panese language teacher came to an understanding, and, even though they didn't seem to be fully satisfied, resumed the lesson. The mood in the cla.s.sroom remained a little restless, but not even five minutes pa.s.sed before it returned to a completely ordinary and peaceful day.
The pair ran through the hallways and headed toward the shoe lockers. It would've been cool to just jump out of a nearby window, but they were currently wearing their indoor shoes. It can't be helped, but it'll take a little extra time. Shoutkun teases Toukchan about her uneasiness as they swap out their shoes at the shoe lockers.
"What, why are your teeth chattering?"
"I'm scared. To receive an emergency call during the day, that means that Kaburagi-san can't go take care of it by herself tonight. I wonder if we'll actually be able to do something about it."
"*Oi, oi*, you're supposed to be the reliable senpai here. You've been fighting longer than me, you know – but…"
"Only a little. You're stronger than me now, you know. Both in power… and spirit, most likely."
"Rest a.s.sured. I'll protect you if it comes down to it. What's important is that we both return."
Shoutkun struck his chest, full of confidence. Toukchan turned toward him with a slightly feverish look. Their gazes intertwine. They slowly close the distance between each other, earnest but hesitating a little.
Hey, what's with this pleasant atmosphere? I didn't make accommodations for such a thing in my plans, you know. Eh? Kiss – they're going to kiss? Is a romantic subplot even allowed? It's making this ojisan's heart go *doki-doki*. Do it…! Just do it already…!
Toukchan looked up at Shoutkun, closed her tear-moistened eyes, stood on tip-toe, and stretched slightly, her lips about to touch Shoutkun's ⸻
⸻ when Toukchan's "Heart Sutra" ringtone started playing from her chest pocket!
You – you son of a b.i.t.c.h, I trusted you! I wanted it to continue so I could knock down the wall of this era!
Hey, Buddha, aren't you a little too strict when it comes to l.u.s.t? First that time I tried to peek in the bathroom2, and now this…! d.a.m.nit, it's because this is reality, isn't it! It's because it's right before an event that it's not happening, right?!
"…Your phone's ringing."
The bittersweet atmosphere dissipated. The pair awkwardly separated from each other. The person calling was Kaburagi-san. She was calling to let them know that she was waiting for them at the school's gate, so call ended quickly. d.a.m.nit, so my own poor management was at fault here. It wasn't because of any ill-intent from Kaburagi-san. If you have waited in antic.i.p.ation for contact, then of course you would get impatient!
I took a moment to mourn the lost opportunity while the event continued to advance. The two who had swapped out their shoes ran to the school gate, where Kaburagi-san was waiting for them in her car, and got in. While heading towards Tokyo Bay3 by following the Arakawa River, the two received a briefing from Kaburagi-san. Ig is also in the back seat. Kaburagi-san spoke while making a serious facial expression and while driving at a speed that was precisely 1.3 times the speed limit so she wouldn't suddenly be caught by police.
"I received a message from the boss. This time, the location where the world's darkness has appeared is east of Hachijojima4, in the open ocean that's part of j.a.panese territorial waters. Code-named "Super Water Ball", the three of us are going to defeat it before it can invade Tokyo."
"Why is it in the middle of the ocean? How did it end up in such a strange place… besides, it's currently daytime."
Shoutkun tilted his head in puzzlement and asked this while vaguely petting Ig, who had climbed up his body. Toukchan also silently nodded her head in agreement. It's a legitimate question. After all, according to conventional wisdom, the world's darkness usually appears in unpopulated areas in the evening.
"The world's darkness will only appear somewhere that has been overrun with violence. The sea fulfills this condition. Originally, there's nothing for it to prey on out there, but this time is an exception. A fishing boat was washed away by the ocean's current due to engine trouble, and the hunger and dehydration caused a moral hazard to occur. The world's darkness appeared because it was drawn in by the violence and madness. It's already eaten all the crew members… currently, the world's darkness has grown to be fifty meters in overall length."
Toukchan, who converted over to her battle suit after taking off her sailor suit school uniform, was shocked. So far, the biggest the world's darkness had gotten was around 4-5m, so suddenly they were facing something 10x that size. It's an outrageous inflation, but it's Shoutkun's fault for forcing my hand and making me make them bigger ahead of schedule (I'm blameless). "How do you know such detailed information about the creation of a 'supercla.s.s' world's darkness", was the expected reb.u.t.tal, but it seems that both of them are in shock and unable to give a proper reply. Instead, they asked about the boss.
"And the boss? Surely the boss will be fighting with us against an opponent like this, right?"
"The boss isn't available right now. He's fighting a six hundred meter world's darkness off the coast of Ireland."
"Six-, six hundred meters…?"
Toukchan and Shoutkun were both speechless. Yep, it's 600m. Currently, I'm shaping a 600m water ball in preparation by shooting a huge water beam. It'll be my opponent during the big monster battle. I'll be manipulating it like a puppet with my psychokinesis and fighting it while wearing a mysterious black robe as the boss. I'll be starring in my own self-directed work in order to create an alibi for the boss. With starring in my own self-directed work off the coast of Ireland, shooting video surveillance footage of the three of them, and the "World Graduation Exam" starting soon, my mental capacity has been pushed to its limits. It's like running while singing and doing calculations at the same time.
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1: Guts pose=athlete victory pose. Image ⇒ Guts Pose
2: See the end of .
3: The Tokyo Bay is south of Adachi, where they are. It covers the Chiba, Tokyo, and Kanagawa prefectures ⇒ Wikipedia: Tokyo Bay
4: Volcanic island that's part of the Tokyo prefecture. You can get there by either air or ferry ⇒ Wikipedia: Hachijojima
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