Chapter 2: Income Security and World Ability Users Agency
Last night, as he held the bags that took him until late to pack up, Hiroto called out to his grandfather, Tenzo.
”Grandpa! I am leaving! Are you listening to me?”
In the living room, Tenzo lies down with his back to you, propping his head up with one hand and concentrating his mind on an adult magazine with a relaxed face.
“Ooh, go, go, go of course. Goodbye. Good luck.”
Without looking back at him, he raised a hand on the top of his body and responded with a flutter. He doesn’t seem at all interested in the fact that his grandson is about to live a harsh life on his own.
”Not at all…”
With a sigh, Hiroto was about to leave, but he looked at the mailbox in front of the gate, put the package down once, and after confirming the last piece of mail, he returned home and threw the useless advertisement into the trash.
Then, at that moment, an A4 size envelope with no sender’s name on it fell out between the advertisements. It was a fine paper envelope.
Hiroto picked it up, and when he checked the addressee, only the mark WIO was on the back side.
”WIO? WIO……eh!? As I recall………the World Organization of Gifted Persons? What is it? And it’s addressed to ME!”
Surprised, Hiroto carefully opens the envelope and takes out a few documents inside. The same contents are written on the documents in both English and Japanese, and he continues to read the contents.
It reads: “I am writing to inform you of this year’s newcomer rank examinations for families who have received and inherited unusual abilities, their children, and those with abilities that have been recognized by WIO. ——–“
“Is this… a notice for the agency’s newbie rank exam? I never heard that my family is also recognized as a family of gifted people! And why is this addressed to me?”
Hiroto had heard of the existence of an institution for people with abilities. However, the role of the Domori family is to keep it a secret, and they should have avoided getting involved with other people with abilities as much as possible.
Naturally, they have kept their distance from other ability users’ organizations.
(But the fact that I’m getting this invitation…….do they know I am an ability user from before?)
Hiroto looked over the documents intently and repeatedly. He ponders if he should report it to Tenzo, but one possibility comes to Hiroto’s mind here. Although it’s a guess, this could possibly be related to either his father or mother.Because he remembered that when he was little, his father, Ryoichi, had said that he was going to go out and earn some money, and he had seen him off a few times.
(Dad seemed to have interacted with other ability users as well… maybe that was for the request from the ability agency. Considering Grandpa’s habit……Dad must have been worried about the expenses of the family.)
This is the perennial problem of the Domori family…. a problem that may be related to the family’s financial difficulties .In other words, the most likely last resort, or rather the last excuse of the Domori family treasurer, is “to preserve our livelihood”.
However, it is still unlikely that his father would divulge the Domori family’s affairs to the outside world. Perhaps he had registered as a natural ability user, who suddenly manifested his abilities, rather than a family of ability users. And he thought that he might have had some idea and registered himself as well.
“My dad must have been having a hard time too. But the rank test……… Am I allowed to take it too?”
Last night he was told by his grandfather Tenzo with an unusually serious look on his face.
“Since you are leaving home, you have the right and responsibility to make all the choices. There are no exceptions to this rule, no matter what. You do everything at your own risk.”
Hiroto thought that if he could get a rank…….he could get a job from the World Ability Users Agency and solve his financial problems. At this moment, he remembered the amount of money in the bank book his parents gave him in the past.
“………maybe I can make it without working part-time?”
The World Ability Users Agency( mainly called World Irregulars Organization, in short WIO or simply referred to as the agency among ability users) was established about eighty years ago and is an independent agency for the management of ability users established by spiritualists and other ability users around the world.(TN: I am going to use World Ability Users Agency or WIO)
“In fact……..it has absolutely nothing to do with Doudou…….but nevertheless, I think it’s better for Hiroto to know about it too, just in case…. Just in case you’re in need of money.”
His father, Ryoichi, once told him in a strange way.
According to Ryoichi, the main purpose of this organization was to prevent victims of fraud by impostors against ordinary clients and to improve the social credibility of ability users around the world. This may be the reason why there is a system that can be said to be characteristic of this institution.
It is a strict rank recognition system that is in place for people with abilities.
∙ The ranks are divided into 9 ranks, from SS (the top rank) to S, AA, A, B, C, D, E, and F. These ranks have the merit of giving a rough idea of the remuneration paid by the client and the trustworthiness of the ability of the person receiving the request.
In other words, this is customer focused.
This was to win the trust and confidence of the market (people suffering from spiritual phenomena, etc.) by eliminating the financial aspect and the ambiguity of the abilities of the people with abilities, which had been vague and ambiguous in the past, with an emphasis on customer service.
However, this organization is not known to the general public. It is only known by state agencies, business circles, some religious people and a few ordinary people. They promise strict secrecy in their contracts, and sometimes they use force to manipulate the public’s memory. The reason for this is that the world is not yet ready to accept the existence of ability users.
However, according to Ryoichi, the long-cherished desire of the organization was to be recognized as a public organization one day.
As Hiroto traces back the memories of that time, he recalls the exchange with Ryoichi.
“The ability holders have existed since ancient times. There was a time when their existence was respected. Over time, however, the existence of the ability users was gradually denied as an oddity. Naturally, the social status of the people with abilities has declined along with it. That’s why the gifted people were so sensitive to the social atmosphere and began to hide their abilities. Hiroto would understand that, wouldn’t he?”
Hiroto nodded to Ryoichi. In fact, he could understand what Ryoichi was trying to say since it’s his own home.
“However, there were definitely times when the abilities were needed. However, the people who actively covered up the existence of the gifted people are actually the people who are most likely to receive the favor and patronage of the gifted people.”
“Eh … why?”
“It was more convenient for the patrons when they wanted to control the people with abilities that made a living out of other abilities. For the powerful and influential, the gifted were both useful and frightening. So, when their position was weakened, they flashed the card that they would protect them from alienation and persecution. The people with abilities who were already struggling to survive in society were given patronage, albeit in the form of patronage. So most of the abilities took it easy.”
Even though they are gifted people, they are still members of society. The gifted people of that time must have had a hard time, Hiroto thought.
“The World Ability User Agency was established with the intention of being independent of state power and a few patrons, and to be run by the people with abilities. I think this is a landmark in the history of gifted people. The business reality of the people with abilities is that they are basically self-employed. Except for a few influential families, gifted people did not have a stable lifestyle. But I heard that they have become much more stable after joining an organization. “
For some reason, Ryoichi sighs heavily. It’s rare for his father to show this kind of appearance in front of him.
However, Hiroto also somehow knows the source of the problem. Hiroto knows that there is an old man in the home who is proud of the family lineage to his bones.
At this time, Hiroto asked Ryoichi about a sudden thought that occurred to him.
”But dad, why do we need such a system as a rank test?”
“Yeah? Yes, the agency also selects and requests the right person with the right ability, depending on the nature of the job. But then, it’s necessary to know the attributes and abilities of each person, right? That’s how they came up with something called a rank test to find out.”
“Wow, you really know a lot about this stuff, Dad.”
“What? No! Not so much, Hiroto. This is common sense, common sense for people with abilities.”
This was another rare thing for Ryoichi to answer as if he was in a hurry.
This was something that Hiroto also found out later, but apparently there is a rank test every year, and those with abilities that aim to obtain a rank or a higher rank can challenge it as many times as they want. In addition to that, from the institution’s philosophy of improving the trust of all abilities, an educational program was also inaugurated for those abilities who are not able to obtain a rank to obtain one.
Also, among those rank exams, he heard that there was a special quota for newcomer rank exams, which would be held for those who were of the ability’s family lineage or already confirmed mutated natural abilities, who had reached the age of fifteen to sixteen years old to take the rank exam for the first time.
Hiroto looked through the documents, remembering what his father had told him about the institution.
(I’ve heard it’s pretty hard to get a rank, though…)
When Hiroto looked at the bottom of the invitation, he saw that the deadline for applying for the newbie rank exam was written on it and it had to be submitted to the Japan Branch by the end of next week. He was told that all he had to do was fill out the necessary paperwork in a small envelope and send it back.
Hiroto saw Tenzo still lying disheveled in the living room. He was still engrossed in an adult magazine, reading it without hiding his clammy face. Hiroto sighed loudly and shoved the invitation into a sports bag, which was packed tightly with luggage, designated by Jilin High School.
Yesterday, Tenzo told him with an unusually serious expression that when one is living on their own, they are responsible for everything. However, it also implies that they have the freedom to make all kinds of decisions in exchange for that.
It’s all up to the individual to take up to it……
Hiroto departed his parents’ house.
After leaving his parents’ house, Hiroto’s belongings are clothes, the bare minimum of daily necessities, and a futon.
Hiroto carried a large wrapping cloth, two large sports bags on each shoulder, and a student bag with textbooks, notebooks, etc. in one hand, looking like a bit of a night escapade to anyone who sees it.
The distance from the acquaintance of the collection was about an hour with an adult’s foot, but Hiroto decided to walk.
It’s not surprising that Hiroto is embarrassed to be wearing this night-away look, but thinking it’s just for today, he hurriedly heads to his new home, relying on the map handed to him by Tenzo as a reminder not to meet up with anyone he knows.
The new house is located in an exact diagonal position between the school and his parents’ house, so the distance to school is not much different. The only way to get there was to check the map in advance, so Hiroto didn’t have to get lost.
(I wonder what kind of house is it?)
It’s a cheap rent, introduced by a dubious acquaintance of Kazakura. From the beginning, he didn’t have any expectations.
Thinking about it, Jilin High School, which was introduced to him through a friend of Tenzo’s, had also changed considerably.
(Well, is it always the same? Besides, I think any rundown apartment would be a big jeopardy…)
Hiroto was confident in his ability to adapt to his environment.
The new house was located in a residential area a little far from the center of the city, and the greenery was increasing mindlessly. Looking around, Hiroto was inwardly pleased with how quiet and comfortable this area seemed to be to live in. It is unlikely that he would be able to avoid a very poor life, but he was beginning to think positively that living alone was not a bad experience.
There was a small mountain in the middle of a residential area, with a not-so-large torii gate between the dense, overgrown trees, and a narrow staircase leading from the torii to the top of the mountain, where the Shrine of the Four Gods was located.
On the map, it should have been next to the entrance to the shrine, so the new house should be around here.
Hiroto mindlessly walked faster than ever before.
Finally, he arrived at the destination on the map.
”……..What? This is…….. here, right?”
Hiroto’s eyes widen and his mouth is shaking the map in one hand as he opens it without effort.
Hiroto checks the map again. But there is no doubt that this is the right place.
There was a single-storey wooden house that looked like an old house with a history that wasn’t what Hiroto had expected.
The gate in front of the house was old and shabby, but it was well-built and very large. Hiroto sidestepped the gate and leapt from the wall, which was as tall as he was, to take a look at the premises.
The garden was huge, and according to estimates from the outside, the land alone must be about 3,000 square meters in size. The plants and trees grew thickly to cover the garden and the wall surrounding the site was also made of wood, which made me feel the age.
The houses next to the house in the neighborhood have been replaced by a modern single-family house.
How many years old is this house among them? Or is it more than that? The building was clearly far removed from the surrounding atmosphere.
“Considering the cheap rent, I was expecting a raggedy apartment, but… Wow! It properly says Domori on the post. Is that the landlord? You want me to write it in magic? Usually…..”
Hiroto found a lousy-looking external post nailed to the pillar of a large gate with a random nail. The red paint is peeling off and 70% of the post is rusty, but it was definitely written in oil-based pen as “Domori Du”. Hiroto faintly expected a mistake, but this confirmed that this was the new house.
After a few moments of stunned silence at the gate, Hiroto decided to open the gate and stepped into the grounds. Then, sure enough, he saw a tattered house and a garden overgrown with weeds.
”Hey, this was a bit unexpected, but well it’s cheap,”
It was hard to deny the overall feeling of exhaustion, but Hiroto thought that if he put his hands on it, he would be able to see it to some extent… or so he tried to think.
Hiroto crosses the large yard and pulls the keys out of his pocket and puts his hand on the front door.
“Huh? It’s open … or rather, the lock is broken!”
The front door was made of wooden lattice latches and old glass and was not made to be strong to begin with. Perhaps it had been left there too long and broken, Hiroto thought.
I’ll have to fix it later, Hiroto thought, as he rattled open the slightly slippery front door and found that it was quite large, and he placed his belongings in the ample space.
He had imagined that the inside of the house would be dustier, but that wasn’t the case and the air felt clearer, so Hiroto took a breath.
”Hm? Here too? It feels great.”
Hiroto felt it was that at Jilin High School. A strong sense of spirit energy can be felt.
It may be because there is a shrine on top of a small mountain at the back of the grounds.
” This could be something perfect! That’s one thing I don’t have to worry about anymore!”
Hiroto, who is often attacked by various other spirits due to his unique constitution, is pleased with the strength of this spirit energy, as it eliminates his worries, and he feels better and goes inside to check out the layout.
But… that’s when Hiroto was at a loss for words.
He knew that the house was in shambles even from the outside, but the inside was even more desolate than that.
It was a large building with a lot of rooms, but the sliding doors that separated the rooms from each other were useless. In addition, the tatami mats in all the rooms were rotten.
The kitchen was covered with spider webs and there was a rusty faucet from which you couldn’t tell if the water really came out. Naturally, he thought about cooking for himself, but the kitchen doesn’t seem to be able to function in this way.
The worst part was the bath tub. There was a hole in the bottom of it.
Hiroto was at a loss as….. to where to start at this point.
For Hiroto, the small house was more manageable.
However, this place is so large that there seems to be no end to what can be done to fix it.
It’s not much different from an outhouse, to be honest.
“I can’t live here…….as expected!”
Hiroto’s heart, which had been confident in his ability to adapt to the environment, was fragile…………..and soon broke.
”You old man…! You thought it’s a good idea to have your little grandson to live here alone.”
His anger at Tenzo explodes, but contacting him doesn’t help, and he can easily imagine that his anger will swell more when he contacts him. Hiroto took a deep breath to regulate his ragged breathing for a while and drowned out the angry face of Tenzo that came into his head.
And then he turned his attention to the large, useless garden, which is also desolate, and shrugged his shoulders.
In the end, Hiroto……..decided to purchase a tent.
In the Shinjuku sub-center of the city, there are many tall skyscrapers. One of the buildings has a heavy door with a nameplate that reads “Regional Manager” on the upper level.
No one knows how long it has existed or what the branch is for, nor do people who enter or leave the building.
With a number of companies as tenants, it’s only natural that no one pays any attention to it.
In that room, Hisae Omine was working as the head of the Japanese branch of the World Ability User Agency. She goes over reports, makes decisions on reports, investigates matters of concern, and keeps abreast of the movements of people with abilities in action, all at the same time.
This year’s examinations for new recruits, an important event in Japan, is just around the corner, and Hisae was extremely busy.
As the evening sun comes through the large window behind her desk, there is a knock on the door of the branch manager’s office and she stops herself. Then a young woman in a suit comes rushing in through the door.
”Excuse me! Omine-sama.”
“Oh, Shima-chan, what’s going on in such a hurry?”
“Yes! I just received an urgent call from the London office.”
“Sister Sophia Sutherland has passed away.”
At the sudden report, Hisae’s soft expression changed and she stopped moving.
Then she closed her eyes and let her weight fall back on the back of a fine chair, as if she had lost all her strength.
The branch manager’s secretary, Shima Kakitate, watches her and gives a briefing on the rest of her report.
This area shows a glimpse of her relationship with her boss, HiSae, and her outstanding secretarial skills.
” Well……..Sophia-sama. Indeed, she was elderly. Recently, she was in a wheelchair……..”
Hisae still remembers the smile on her face like a sunny spring day. It was someone who gave her a bit of light in the darkness at the bottom of the earth. Hisae spins her chair around to look at the reddish-brown landscape of the city behind her.
Sister Sophia was the world’s greatest Satori ability user over ninety years old.(TN: Satori is a folklore monster capable of reading minds so, in short she’s was a mind reader)
For her personality, she was called the 【Affectionate Observer】, and she was a person who was loved not only by the ability users, but also by people all over the world in the surface world. She also belonged to the World Ability Users Agency, and her Satori ability was a non-combat type rank SS, which was truly the supreme treasure of humanity.
“No, it’s not. Omine-sama, Sister Sophia was … killed.”
Hisae turns around and glares at her secretary to see if she’s not mistaken.
“We seem to have an idea of who the culprit is. The culprit, based on the injuries, was probably ……….Nosferak.”
“Why would the vampire Nosferak do such a thing? I believe he’ s extremely reluctant to stand out in human society. And if he does this kind of horseshit then he’s going to make an enemy of the entire Agency.”
“The circumstances are currently unknown, but it appears that the Nosferak has been in and out of Sister Sophia’s home for decades. We have been notified by the London Branch of its intention to gather representatives from the London Branch in this matter to all branches around the world. It also appears that the vampire side of the group will be present at that meeting.”
“From Nosferak’s side? What the hell is that…?”
“Yes the vampires are a solitary race with no interest in each other, but we have organized a minimal community. This time it seems that a representative of that community is coming.”
As far as Hisae can remember, she has never heard of any contact from the Nosferak side to the agency itself.
Nosferak … vampires are one of the few powerful non-humans who have recognized human society.
They are not many, but they are not few either. There are also vampires that have survived for thousands of years, some of whom have abilities of the very demon gods class.
However, throughout history, as human society has become more and more rigid, vampires have abandoned their hostility to humanity and are now living in seclusion, it has been said.
This is evidenced by the fact that for hundreds of years now, vampires have been abandoning the idea of going for bloodsucking, too.
However, they, too, have demanded a certain amount from the humans. Hundreds of years ago at that time, they demanded of the powers that be in order to pay for their renunciation of bloodsucking, the right to be a citizen of human society.
The powers that be granted it, and the long enmity between vampires and humanity, so to speak, ended with this.
Because of this, vampires are still here and there masquerading as people and melting into human society together. And because they are a very proud and powerful race, they do not act recklessly to show off.
They don’t even show any interest in their own kind, and they’ ve heard that the community was organized to provide a minimum amount of regular monitoring to make sure that the rest of their kind don’t get inconvenienced by someone of their own race standing out in human society.
Hisae touches the desk with her index finger with a thump.
“……..Shima-chan. I’m sorry, but will you go to that meeting this time as a substitute? We can’t afford to let go of our hands for the newcomer exams that will be held at the beginning of next month. Besides, I’ve been told by Headquarters that the investigation of the Shinagawa demon has not progressed even after a year has passed. “
“No, I understand.”
” Now, please call me back with the details. I’ll let you know in writing. I’m sure it’s quite a feat to have representatives from all over the world.”
“Yes. And about that…”
“What do you know about it?”
“No, it’s unclear how this is relevant, but there’s been a lot of buzz around Europe over the last few weeks that several ability users have gone missing. But it’s not public information, just personal information.”
Hisae frowned at her eyebrows. But it was too soon to doubt the relevance of this story.
“Hmm…. Until there is a connection to the murder of Sister Sophia, you are not to speak about it. We don’t want any of our branch’s staff to get carried away by rumors. Besides, it’s highly unlikely that anything is going to happen in Japan, geographically speaking.”
“Yes, I understand. Then we will be ready and leave next week.”
Hisae nodded and stood up and lightly clenched her fists when she saw Shima leave.
Hisae had met Sophia Sutherland once. At the time, she had been distraught and worried about her future, but Sophia’s advice and compassion had helped her to recover.
Hisae pictured Sophia, the person who saved her life, or rather her heart, in her mind.
(Sophia-sama………what on earth……. As soon as the rookie exams are over, I will also……..)
Hisae stared at the skyscraper town approaching in the night.
At this time, Hiroto felt a sense of unease……..
Right now, Hiroto was doing his homework while eating canned food inside the tent in the garden of his new house. He bought a candle, turned on the lights and used the tangerine box as a desk, but today the wind is strong and he’s worried that the tent will fly away.
He never thought that the price of high school life would be living in a tent.
The other day, when Hiroto called a contractor to give him an estimate for repairs to his house, he was quoted a ridiculous amount of money. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s not something that a high school student can afford.
However, Hiroto wants to do something about it, but he has no idea what to do.
Hiroto sighed deeply with tears in his eyes.
“Ugh, I can’t even think of high school life in this situation!”
Hiroto interrupted his homework to stand up and try to strengthen the tent that was about to be blown away by the strong wind.
—-Part I End—-
TN: sorry about keeping this in parts. Part II will be out tomorrow
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