Chapter 19:






Imagine stubbing your toe while stepping on a Lego while giving birth to quintuplets, and that would be less than 1% of the effing pain I feel right now.

The attack knocks me on the floor and sends me skidding across the warehouse. Yamashiro Yuki enters and closes the metal door behind her with a loafer. She points her finger at my face; both Ichiki and Sake have their pistols aimed squarely at her. Sweat drips down their faces; blood starts pooling beneath me. Gumball’s jaw hangs open, the piece of bubblegum falling to the floor in shock. In the confusion, I’ve lost track of the sophomore.

But more importantly - I lost my goddamn testicles, too! I writhe around on the ground, which feels far too cold, and there’s too many black spots growing in my vision now. I think you’re supposed to see a light when your time’s up, but the warehouse just keeps getting darker. I grimace and groan and keep my eyes focused on Yuki’s finger gun; I can’t die until I destroy her balls in revenge.

…girls have balls, right?

Yuki speaks to the rest of the Senko in a plain voice. “Your friend will die soon unless he receives proper medical attention. I’m only here for the jewel he wears around his chest. Do not resist, and I’ll be gone in ten seconds.”

The rest of the Senko glance at me with uneasy expressions. I’m in too much pain to bark out any orders; they’re forced to think for themselves for once, which means they don’t do jack shit. They stand there hesitantly, with trembling fingers on triggers.

I don’t know why she shot my balls off for a German airborne steroid device. I mean, they’re probably banned in Shikishima, so I guess they’re pretty valuable.

The jade sighs. I’m much more than a German airborne steroid device. So much more. Haruki, you must not let me fall into her hands.

Why not?

She works for the Nakashima conglomerate. They have kept me imprisoned for years now, using my energy to power this island.

I chuckle. So you’re a cold fusion German airborne steroid device. I always knew.

You fool! You think this is really how cold fusion works?  Does any of this sound scientific? You think cold fusion can be condensed into a gem?

Look man, I’m in some serious pain right now, I don’t got time for this. Why would I know how cold fusion works? Why would anyone know?

Yuki stands over me. She plants the laser finger on my forehead - her touch burns like a howling winter wind. With her other hand, she reaches for the jade.

Make a deal, the jade pleads. Make a deal, quickly!

He sends surges of warm pleasures and fast cars and motorcycles into my mind, but I’ve had enough. I look at Gumball and Sharktooth and Ichiki the Itch and Sake Sakemoto.

I don’t need your power, jade. The Senko is all I need.

I don’t resist as Yuki reaches for my chest to yank off the amulet and jade. But before she can lay a hand on it-

“Freeze, Hantei!”

Mizutami Kouji bursts through a glass window on the upper layer of the warehouse, landing squarely on a catwalk overlooking the ground floor. He wields a wooden katana that somehow burns a dark purple color beneath the flickering fluorescent lights. His right-hand man, Yoshino Yosuke, blows through the windows on the other side. He pushes back his dyed blonde hair and aims a wooden yumi bow burning bright with purple downwards at Yuki.

On the ground floor, the warehouse buckles when the back wall blows open and two more Hantei members make their entrance. Bespectacled Shirakawa Kabun wields a giant wooden staff that must've tore open the hole, while the bandaged rat-faced Gokiburi also wields a wooden katana. Similar purple light and haze trails off from each of them, stemming from the black-and-white gloves they wear on their dominant hands.

Yuki debates her options. Ichiki and Sake take a step closer to her, pistols drawn, but then Kouji and Shirakawa aim their weapons at each of them.

“Nobody moves,” Kouji barks out.

Then the warehouse itself moves again, shaking, as a burly man charges straight through the metal door, a giant golden sickle in his hand. Two more Reds follow him through, each wielding huge hammers. Their weapons lack the purple glow of the Hantei, but they would still effing hurt, thank you very much. They must’ve been waiting outside in case the deal with the sophomore went awry. And where is that bastard?

He answers my question for me. The sophomore stands up from his hiding spot in the corner of the warehouse, behind the weight rack in our makeshift gym. He holds a little red book in his hands; numbers dripping red with blood float away from the pages, mixing with the purple haze and the lights of the warehouse.

The sophomore aims at Yuki, who aims at me. Kouji and Shirakawa aim at Ichiki and Sake, who each aim at Yuki. The Red reinforcements aim at Sharktooth Shigemoto and Gumball, each of whom have drawn their switchblades in turn. Gokiburi aims at the sophomore, while up above, Yosuke aims his bow at Yuki.

We’re stuck in one gigantic Mexican stand-off, and everyone knows this. Everyone’s sweating; a few lick their lips; Sake goes to widen her stance, but she slips on my testicle blood and accidentally opens fire.

A rush of sound and gunfire and kaleidoscopic lights fill the warehouse.

Sake manages to hit Yuki in the shoulder; green blood seeps from the wound. Yuki swings her arm away from my forehead and towards Sake. 

“Bang,” Yuki says, and then the laser blows through Sake’s stomach, splattering her organs on the wall behind her. Yuki receives a magic arrow to the thigh, knocking her backwards. Sake, meanwhile, keels over dead.

Ichiki starts crying as he charges a Red, and Gumball’s sobbing too while she deflects sickle attacks with her switchblade. Sharktooth doesn’t cry, he just grins wider and wider with his sharp teeth, because that’s what he does whenever he’s drowning in sorrow. He makes a bull rush towards Yuki, who recovers enough to aim her finger gun at him, but then another magic arrow hits her in the upper arm. The laser fires off target, beaming past Sharktooth, but the explosion it makes upon colliding with the back wall knocks him to the ground.

Yuki groans and returns her attention to me, but I’m sitting up straight now, because my balls be damned, she killed my friend. My hands immediately wrap themselves around her throat. The cold of her skin bites at me, but I ignore it because I’m already crying and I squeeze and squeeze and squeeze-

There’s a flash of magic as Yuki shoots me through the gut. I’m in so much pain that none of it registers anymore. With a giant hole in my stomach, I fall back on the warehouse floor. I see the light now, though maybe it’s just the overhead ones in the warehouse.

Jade, I say with the last of my strength. Is there a limit to your power?

I expect the jade to taunt me, but it speaks calmly. What do you desire, Haruki?

Resurrect Sake.

It takes a moment for the jade to answer. I cannot resurrect her in this spacetime continuum. I can only reincarnate her into a different world.

Some effing jade you are.

Make the deal, Haruki. You only have moments left.

I close my eyes. Resurrect Sake in the best world possible for her, then. 

Anything else?

Huh? I can do more?

My power is nigh-unlimited-

Oh fuck yeah, I thought this was just a me-or-her kind of deal. Restore my guts and restore my balls!

The jade burns bright, and somewhere, somehow, we both know we just shook on it.

A bright green wave runs through me, from my fingertips to my toes. The jade burns hotter and hotter, and I can feel my guts come back, my testicles restored to their proper place. I innately understand that Sake’s soul has moved on for greener pastures, a place where she can be a hero, not someone coming from a broken home. Godspeed to her. 

My eyes turn green. Yuki steps back, both to avoid me and the magic arrow that struck the ground where she knelt moments ago. She looks at me with a subdued grimace.

The switch happens. The jade’s consciousness flows from the gem into my body, then up the nerves and muscles and bone until it reaches my brain. I retreat, sink away, down into the murky depths of the subconscious.

Don’t be afraid, the jade says. I only want to rescue the rest of my person trapped on this island, and then I’ll return home in full. When I finish, your body will be restored to you, no worse for the wear. I’ll even leave some sandwiches in your fridge for you.

I don’t think it’s lying, since it came through with my other requests, but I’ll guess we’ll see when this is all said and done.

Gumball knocks the sickle out of the Red’s hand and then lands a punch square in his gut. I’m glad the last thing I can see with my own eyes for a while is her.

Steward McOy