A complete translation of the manga The H-Man Continues, which acts as a sequel to the 1958 movie by director Ishiro Honda and the manga based on it. Credited to author Hideo Unagami and artist Shigeru Fujita, this manga was released on July 20th, 1958. Consequently, this was less than a month after the H-Man (1958) movie, which was issued to theaters on June 24th, 1958. The publication starts with a recap of the events in the movie, and the manga that was released for it, before it dives into the story of the events after the film.

Note that the translation approach is that of writing it out as a simplified novella so you can enjoy the entire story. I sometimes had to fill in some small details just to make the scenes make sense, but I tried to keep as close to the script of the comic as possible with a minimum of additional commentary or description. This can make the reading a bit bland, but I hope you can still enjoy the story. Note that there are some sections with narration from the comic which I tried to straight translate. Usually I do not add much of my own narration in the text that follows. All of this is captured in the translation below.


Introduction

So… what do you know about liquid people, or the H-men?

What are the liquid people? Well, they are regular folks who, upon being covered in nuclear ash, turn into people made of living liquid.

That is to say, when they absorb the nuclear fallout, these people’s cells perish and return in a liquified state of living matter resistant to radiation.

Yeah, so these liquid people used to be normal people, but now they are a new kind of lifeform that is resilient to radiation.

They are beings that, while always in a state of liquefaction, can also transform into a gel state and take the form of a human being.

These H-men have a weakness—if they are out in the sun, they cannot survive for long. But on the other hand, they are just fine even if hit by bullets.

Just as human beings need oxygen in the air to survive, liquid people need radiation. In order to obtain nutrition, the H-men envelop animals and dissolve them.

The liquid people are also vulnerable to fire, and if exposed to the flames, will evaporate quickly into nothing.

But, well… Who knows what will happen next?

Let’s go over what has happened so far in our story! If you want to know in more detail, head over to the local book store and purchase the first volume!

H-Man Recap

In modern Japan, on rainy nights, a series of mysterious incidents take place. What could they be? For example, a man hit by a car leaves nothing behind but his clothes and completely disappears, and a gang that has broken into a building are assaulted by a dark shadow and they, too, leave nothing behind but clothing and shoes and are apparently annihilated into nothing.

The police are puzzled, asking, “A citizen was smashed into by a car, and completely disappeared? Nobody was there at all?”

The police authorities are aware that a gang dealing in illegal drugs is somehow wrapped up in the caper, but how these gang members are being reduced to crumpled clothing and leftover pairs of shoes is a terrible mystery.

Then someone appears who proclaims that the disappearing people were melted away. This stranger turns out to be Investigation Department Head Tominaga’s friend Prof. Maki’s son Isamu.

“Hey, now, come on, you can’t be seriously suggesting that people are getting melted away?”

“I’m saying there can be no other explanation,” said Isamu.

Of course, the police do not believe such an absurd explanation at first, even while Isamu held a strong conviction that he was right. Then, Tominaga and his investigators visit a seaman who was suffering from the effects of radiation sickness caused by an atomic bomb, and they hear his story that all of his shipmates were melted away in the radiation. Furthermore, Isamu carried out an experiment upon a toad in which he poured radioactive ash onto the creature, which turned it into liquid. However, even upon witnessing the results of this experiment, Tominaga and the police remained skeptical.

Then, during an attempt to capture the drug gang member Ichimi Dan, a dark shadow appeared and swallowed up a human being, turning him into liquid before their very eyes. Having witnessed a liquid man and its deadly effects in person, the police could no longer disbelieve.

They rushed to the police station to check on Prof. Maki’s laboratory and the toad that had been experimented on. They learned that the radioactive ash from nuclear attacks and experiments could create liquid people which, though vulnerable to sunlight, were invincible against bullets and weapons, and which, if exposed to radiation or given access to human victims, would wrap around and consume people. These “H-men,” too, consisted of a gel-like substance that could form together into the shape of a man.

Meanwhile, the boss of the drug gang guessed that it must have been the singer Chikako who had revealed the gang’s secrets, and he abducted her and took her into the sewers. Isamu just misses Chikako’s abduction and chases after them into the sewers, where they discover that the liquid men have created a nest underground. The gang boss is consumed by the liquid men, and then the monsters turn their attention to Isamu!

Isamu blasts the liquid men with a flamethrower and erases one after another of the creatures. It seemed as if all of the liquid men were exterminated… or were they?!

And so, the story of the liquid people continues!

A few weeks after the extermination of the liquid men in the tunnels beneath the research building, a high-efficiency flame thrower was built, and the city was put on high alert lest more H-men might appear. It seemed as if all of them were taken care of, but…

On that evening, Tokyo Bay was thick with fog. A ship blew its horn continuously as a means to move forward with the utmost of care through the low visibility. Suddenly, in front of the ship, there was a mysterious boat, proceeding without a light, floating untethered. On the front of the ship was written the name “Ryuujinmaru Number Two” (ryuujinmaru—Dragon God Circle).

Ryuujinmaru! That was the name of the ship upon which the liquid men were first created!

When the coast guard received the news, they immediately sent out a crew armed with flamethrowers in order to eliminate any danger that might face the people of Tokyo. The soldiers searched every corner and cranny of the Ryuujinmaru Number Two, but did not find any liquid men anywhere. They then burned the Ryuujinmaru Number Two to ash. If any liquid men had remained on the ship, there was no help for them now. The news quickly was reported around Tokyo.

HEADLINE: Ryuujinmaru Number Two Discovered inside Tokyo Bay. Liquid Men not found inside, ship incinerated.

However, even with this news, the people of Tokyo could not drive the fear out from the deepest parts of their hearts…

Chapter 1: Inside the Manhole

Chapter 1: Inside the Manhole

Prof. Maki, wearing round glasses and a distinctive mustache, buried his head in the newspaper.

“Aha!” he said. “So the Ryuujinmaru Number Two was in Tokyo Bay after all!”

Isamu approached, carrying a mug of coffee and a serious expression on his face.

“So my fears prove correct in the end,” he said.

The man in glasses folded his newspaper over and gazed at Isamu with a worried expression.

“The people of the city are worried about the possible reappearance of the liquid men,” he said. “Do you think that could really happen?”

Isamu smiled.

“I don’t think we have to worry about such dangers any longer,” he said, and gestured at the weapon sitting in the corner of the room. “With these flame throwers, the H-men no longer stand any chance even if they do come crawling out of the shadows again.”

Isamu’s father looked skeptical.

“If you’re right, I would be quite relieved,” he said. “But it seems like things aren’t so cut and dried.”

Isamu gave his dad a frustrated look.

“Now, everything’s going to be alright, pop,” he said, and looked out the window. “According to the experiments, the evidence has been conclusive.”

Something was going on outside. Children playing, yelling, upset about something. Isamu’s eyes grew serious, and he stopped talking as he listened, and then—

“No, it can’t be,” he said.

Immediately Isamu’s father picked up on the concern in Isamu’s voice.

“What happened, Isamu?” the older man asked, beginning to rise from his seat.

“It’s those kids outside,” Isamu said. “Something out of sorts. They are upset, all about something to do with the liquid men!”

“What?!” cried out Isamu’s father, coming to see for himself.

Together, Isamu and his father rushed from the house to investigate. Not far from their front yard, a small group of children carrying baseball gear were arguing. A worried looking boy in glassed with a blue button-up shirt was the first to speak.

“Hmm! You’ve got to be lying,” he said.

“No, I swear, I am telling the truth!” said a boy wearing a red cap.

And they exploded into an argument, their voices rising louder. Isamu cut in, making his presence known.

“What’s going on?” he asked gruffly. “What is everyone so upset about?”

“Well, ya see,” said the boy in blue. “Tabou over there is lying about having seen a liquid man, and—”

“Hey, ya jerk!” said Tabou. “I really did see a liquid man! I ain’t a liar!”

A taller boy in a yellow shirt and wearing a baseball glove faced off against Tabou.

“Come on, come at me!” he said. “You’re just a big, fat liar!”

“What did you say?” started Tabou, but Isamu interrupted them again.

“Wait, now, just hold on you guys,” he said. “Let’s not go starting a fight here.”

He managed to calm them down with a stern look. The fact that an adult really wanted to listen impressed the children.

“Boys, could you just tell me about the liquid man you saw?” he said. “I really want to know.”

“Yeah, we can do that,” said the boy in the red cap. “So, you know, we were all playing some baseball right here in this field, and up to pitch was this Kin-chan—he’s a Swallows fan.”

Another kind-looking boy in a bowl-cut chimed in.

“Th-then at that time,” he started. “I was at bat—my name is Nagashima, and I am a big fan of the Giants. Well, bam! I totally hit a sweet home run!”

The boy continued, looking down with a worried expression as he remembered the ensuing events.

“I was an outfielder, so I chased the ball, you know,” he said. “But just then the baseball up and fell down an open manhole! And so, you know, I looked down the manhole, and… It was there! Like a black shadow, standing straight up, shaped like a man. It stared right at me, and, man, it gave me the shivers!”

The boy shook his head before pressing on.

“My friend came running up and he was like, ‘What happened, Tabou!’ And I was all, ‘I saw a liquid man!’ But my friends, they said, you know, ‘A liquid man?’ All skeptical-like. And they said they didn’t see anything.”

Tabou pointed at himself, a look of earnestness on his face.

“When I looked, it was there, honest it was!” he said.

Isamu folded his arms with a look of consternation.

Chapter 1: H-Man in the Sewer

“Hmmm,” Isamu said, and then held out a baseball. “Alright, I am going to give you this baseball on the condition you stop with your fighting and go play, you hear me?”

The boys gave big, excited grins.

“Yeah, no problem!”

Isamu laughed as the boys ran to start up their next match.

“They sure are energetic now,” he said. “They became best buds again all of a sudden!”

But Isamu’s father did not share his son’s levity. His face creased with concern.

“So there may be liquid men still down in the storm drains beneath the city,” he said.

“It may be possible,” said Isamu. “At any rate, I don’t think the boy was lying.”

“We had better report this incident to Tominaga down at the precinct,” Maki said as the boy’s hit a home run not far away.

“Yes,” said Isamu. “I agree with you. Let’s go!”

But neither Isamu nor his father, in their haste, noticed the sinister figure listening in on their conversation. He was a man with a long, mean face wearing a sharp, black-and-red hat, a black suit, and a bright red tie. A long scar ran across the man’s face and nose, bisecting the upper and lower halves of his head, and he sported a long cigarette between his teeth.

“Hmm,” said the gangster with a grin, and then began walking away, thinking.

He flicked the remains of his cigarette away—it was still nearly whole, but the man was too full of schemes to keep puffing away on the thing.

“The liquid men showing up again, huh?” he thought to himself. “Hm! Now, this could work out just great!”

Chapter 2: The Liquid Men that Appeared Again

However, even though for some time after that day no H-men made any appearance… On a particular rainy night… the hand of the clock pointed to three fifty. At that time, there were no people out and about near the bank, and the streets were shrouded in silence.

Suddenly a police car blasted by, lights flashing, siren blaring. The officer hit the brakes, crying out, “Okay, here we are!” They were parked outside of a jewelry store, and the rain continued to pour down. An officer and two men in trench coats emerged from the patrol car and dashed through the rain, trying to get inside without getting soaked. A man wearing a dark fedora with a bow on his head was first in the building.

“Where did it happen?” he asked.

A young man, panicked, wearing a white shirt and dress pants, met him, and gestured to the other room.

“Right, it’s terrible, sir!” he said. “Something awful has happened, right over here!”

The detective gazed across the broken display cases that used to house thousands of dollars of expensive jewelry, and his eyes flashed.

“Hmm,” he said. “This is a travesty.”

“It was the sixth largest diamond in the world, and it was stolen!” said the young man, hands held out helplessly.

The detective sat the man down to have a chat. He didn’t bother to take off his hat, and even though his wet coat was uncomfortable, he kept it on, folding himself forward in the chair, glaring at the young man.

“So you’re saying that during all the ruckus and noise and destruction, you were just asleep and didn’t realize a thing was going on?”

The young man bowed his head.

“Right, I didn’t see a thing,” he said. “The changing of the guard was at three am, and my partner, that’s when we switched over.”

“Partner?” asked the detective, a little quirk pulling at his mouth. “Where is this partner?”

“Right, I don’t have any idea,” said the young guard.

“That’s very strange,” said the detective after a long pause. “Well, then.”

“Tonight I overslept right past the time when usually I would switch places with my partner,” said the guard. “This kind of thing doesn’t happen here.”

As the guard continued going over the events of the night, he clasped his hands together, a look of fear crossing his face.

“When I woke up, I was shocked to see the state of the shop, everything in disarray!” he said, eyes wide. “And the diamond was gone! I ran lickety split and called the police right away.”

“Chief investigator, something very important…” said a tall man in glasses, just coming in. He was one of the other investigators, a more scientifically-minded fellow, and had been busy searching the rooms for clues.

The investigator looked up from his chair.

“Eh?”

The man in glasses pointed a finger across one of the ransacked rooms.

“Take a look at that, if you will,” he said.

“Oh,” said the detective, and reflexively checked his pocket for his gun as he realized what he was looking at. “The clothing of a man left behind, the man himself utterly disappeared?!”

The sight sent chills dancing down his spine, but with a monumental effort, the detective kept his cool. This was no time to panic. Not yet.

“Are there signs of radiation?” he asked.

“There is no mistake,” said the man in glasses, running a noisily-buzzing Geiger counter. “Radiation is present.”

The investigator sighed heavily and crossed his arms to mask the fact that he was shaking.

“Things just really hit the fan,” he said.

“This must have been the work of the liquid men!” said the man in glasses, with a grave expression.

The chief investigator put a hand to his chin in thought.

“If we let word of this get out right away, there’s a good chance it will cause a widespread panic,” he said. “Let’s keep this news under our hats until we can come up with a strategy, some idea of what to do next.”

“Yes, sir,” said the glasses man.

However, in a city where paranoia concerning the liquid men was running high, it did not take long before the rumors of the reappearance of the monsters that had so terrorized the people began making their rounds… On the next rainy night, the incidents doubled, taking place at two separate places in the city.

The first concerned a certain drunk commuter attacked without warning. The chief detective took down the details, interviewing a witness at the scene.

“Me, I done saw the whole thing, from the beginning to the end,” said a deliveryman in a hat and work clothes—the man had his face drained of color, a haunted look in his eyes. “I had just made a delivery to a customer and was on my way home when I saw it. This guy, dead drunk you know, completely sloshed, tottering about down the road. Me, I just caught sight of the guy, and then I saw behind him, this thing, a black form, melting up out of the ground, just like that! The sot was singing, ‘It’s a peaceful world, a society of fun, whee! ’Just as I thought the shadowy thing had taken the form of a human, it suddenly, wham, was all over the drunk, completely covered him! Then in the moment it takes to blink both eyes, well… the drunk just up and totally disappeared, and his clothes was all that was left! And then that slime that I had seen oozed its way back into the sewers in a jiffy.”

The deliveryman shuddered.

“Most horrible thing I ever saw, I swear,” he said.

One of the inspectors lowered the Geiger counter to test the area where the assault had taken place. Immediately the device began chattering noisily

“Definitely radiation here,” said the inspector.

“Those blasted liquid monsters!” cried out the chief.

A second police car suddenly pulled up, and an officer got out, body stiff, face wooden with seriousness.

“Chief inspector, we have had another incident,” he said.

The chief straightened as horror crossed his brow.

“What?” he said.

Chapter 2: The Liquid Men that Appeared Again

“A billionaire, a Mr. Nagamochi, at his personal residence,” said the officer stiffly. “Several million yen was stolen, and a houseboy working there has disappeared.”

“What do you mean, he disappeared?” cried the chief inspector.

“The report states that it was likely the work of the H-men,” said the officer, holding open the door to the patrol car.

The chief inspector shook his head.

“Hmm! Two incidents in one night?” he said. “Alright, take me there now, and step on it!”

As the patrol car sped through the thick rain, the chief noticed something.

“What’s this?” he said. “Looks like Mr. Tomonaga is with us tonight. That’s the car of a newspaperman.”

The chief’s partner gave him a wry smile.

“Word really gets around,” he said.

“With incidents occurring at such an accelerated rate,” said the chief. “We can’t help but make sure the truth is reported accurately so everyone knows what’s going on.”

At the Nagamochi residence, Mr. Nagamochi—a short, stocky man with a face like a frustrated bulldog—was already exploding with anger.

“I don’t know from Adam about any liquid men, and I don’t care,” he shouted. “But that punk stole my money, and I want you get him for me as soon as possible!”

Nagamochi continued to rant and rave, shaking his fist.

“That dope of a houseboy!” he cried. “If he dares try to steal my money, it would be better for him if he were eaten by dogs!”

The chief inspector checked the vanished houseboy’s empty clothing with the Geiger counter, which immediately began crackling.

“The houseboy’s clothes also have traces of radiation,” he mused.

Upon straightening up and lighting a cigarette, the inspector saw that a journalist had arrived, holding up his flash camera, a chipper expression on his eager face.

“You have an ear at every door, eh?” said the inspector, pasting on a fake smile.

“Chief inspector!” said the journalist. “I have my nose to the grindstone this time!”

“But in order not to panic the populace, we would ask for your cooperation,” the chief said. “Please refrain from writing this up about the liquid men.”

“We will do the best to comply,” said the journalist. “We wouldn’t want a false rumor to rile up the general folk on the street.”

A second journalist holding a pen and paper chimed in.

“But in order to smash false rumors, we have to report the truth of the matter,” he said. “All of it.”

The chief inspector turned to Isamu, and noticed something was troubling the other man.

“With a face that serious, something must really be on your mind,” the inspector said.

Isamu turned, eyebrows sharp, intelligent eyes flashing.

“Something about this whole thing stinks,” he said.

“There is something about it that has my hackles up, too,” said the inspector, and he took the cig from his mouth. “It’s all this stuff about liquid men stealing jewelry and robbing folks of their hard cash. What do liquid men want with physical valuables?”

The inspector shifted his feet in place, and looked sideways as he considered the problem.

“Well, given that liquid men used to be human beings, it’s possible that they might retain some of their human desires I suppose,” he said doubtfully.

Isamu gave the inspector a hard look.

“It’s not just that point that is sticking in my craw,” he said. “Something else doesn’t sit right either.”

“What do you mean?” asked the inspector.

“I think there is a good chance these incidents weren’t perpetrated by liquid men at all,” Isamu said.

The chief let out a laugh.

“Don’t be absurd,” he said. “In the first place, we have a witness who says he saw one of the H-men, after all.”

As the inspector was still speaking, one of the inspection team came up behind the chief and cleared his throat.

“Chief, the inspection has been completed,” said the man, adjusting his tie.

The chief turned, gave a grunt for the man to continue. The junior inspector nodded.

“The household members were all asleep throughout the incident, so they don’t know anything,” he said.

The chief grunted again sourly, then gazed out the window with a look of consternation.

“Looks like we are going to have to do some spring cleaning throughout the sewer tunnels with a few flamethrowers,” he said.

The news that the liquid men had reappeared anew sprang up on the front pages of newspapers all across the city, and it seemed as if the dark specter of doom loomed over every man, woman, and child who might dare to wander out in the dark on a rainy evening.

Chapter 3: The Things Left Behind by the Liquid Men

That night the thunder roared in the sky, and the rain poured down in sheets upon the city. In the office of the chief, one of his junior inspectors peered out at the rain with a look of despair.

“It’s really coming down out there,” he said.

The chief grunted.

“Yeah,” he said. “Perfect weather for the liquid men or some other catastrophe to come down with it!”

At that moment the phone started ringing, befouling the chief’s mood even more.

“Another incident!” he said. “And I was hoping for a bit of a breather today!”

The junior inspector picked up, and his face became almost as white as his jacket.

“What?” he said. “A liquid man has appeared?”

After getting the pertinent details over the phone, the junior inspector turned to the chief to give him the rundown. The senior officer was already shrugging on his coat as his junior explained the situation.

“A Mr. Okubo—a very wealthy man—has reported that his bodyguard has simply vanished,” said the junior officer.

“Contact Isamu right away,” returned the chief, and dashed out the door.

A patrol car was already waiting for him.

“Where to?” he said.

The patrolman held open the door to the patrol car.

“It happened in Meguro.”

The patrol car practically flew above the pavement as it raced to Meguro with the rain lashing down on every side, and lightning crashing in the sky. The Okubo residence soon came into view, a large mansion surrounded by dark trees, lit up now and again by eerie flashes as the lightning continued to crackle and burst. In moments, the chief was inside.

“Glass, cracked up and everywhere on the floor,” he commented, observing the broken window.

He put his pencil to his notebook and looked about at the gathered Okubo family.

“Didn’t any of you hear the glass breaking?” he asked.

Mr. Okubo, holding his young son close in front of him, answered in a solemn tone.

“None of us noticed it,” he said.

“So I understand money and jewelry were stolen,” the chief inspector went on.

“Right,” confirmed Mr. Okubo. “But much more than that, I am worried about poor Mosa.”

The chief put his pencil to his lips.

“Mosa…” he said with a long pause. “He was the one who was melted by the liquid men, yes?”

“If money can help with the investigation,” said Mr. Okubo. “I would like to assist in any way I can.”

“Um, if it is okay,” said Okubo’s boy suddenly. “About Mr. Mosa. He was a judo master, fourth level, and he always said if he saw a liquid man, he would punch him through the wall!”

The young boy looked down as he remembered the events of that fateful evening.

“Yesterday in the evening, sir, Mr. Mosa was super sleepy, and he was the first one to go to bed,” the boy continued. “It’s so weird, though, because always before he was the kind who, like, never went to sleep.”

The chief paused in scratching out his notes in the notebook.

“Sleepy…?” he asked.

“Yes—thinking of it now, it was quite strange,” said Mr. Okubo. “Come around ten pm Mosa became really sleepy. To be frank, everyone in the household did. Suddenly everyone wanted to go to bed.”

The chief, not knowing what to make of such news, stepped out to talk with Isamu, plans for how to strike back against the liquid men still swirling in his mind.

“Hey Isamu,” the chief said. “Did you hear? Looks like we have another reaction to the presence of radiation.”

The Geiger counter once again chirped and burbled its deadly news as Isamu investigated Mosa’s leftover clothes.

“Yes, but the reaction is very small,” Isamu said. “That seems important.”

“Of more importance than that, I want to have a think about our strategy for wiping out the H-men,” the chief said. “I’m reluctant to go all in on the flame-throwers in the sewers bit like last time.”

Isamu remained deep in thought about the evidence before his eyes. He examined the broken window once more—a huge pane of glass that had been broken apart into wicked shards sticking out from all angles. He gazed through the gap, looking outside, imagining what had happened.

The glass shards are all over the floor on the inside, he thought to himself. So the glass must have been shattered from the outside.

He looked down at his feet one more time at the pieces of broken glass, and something caught his eye.

What’s that? Something on the shards of glass. And in the middle of the glass, a stone that looks like it came from a piece of jewelry.

Isamu picked up a shard of glass, raised it before his critical gaze.

That looks like blood, he mused. But a liquid man definitely doesn’t have any blood…

Isamu turned to Mr. Okubo, who had sat down for a cigarette at the family table. Okubo’s son was sitting next to him, and apparently didn’t mind the wafting smoke.

“You wouldn’t happen to know what Mosa’s blood type was, by any chance,” Isamu asked.

“He was type O,” said Okubo’s son, piping up before Mr. Okubo could get a word out.

The kid obviously had had a good relationship with the bodyguard. Isamu smiled at the boy.

“Thank you,” he said, and turned to Mr. Okubo. “You are Mr. Okubo, correct?”

“That’s right,” said Mr. Okubo uncertainly.

Chapter 3: The Things Left Behind by the Liquid Men

Isamu proffered the stone he had found, holding it forward on a white cloth.

“This stone was over there and had fallen amidst the glass,” he said. “Was it a part of the jewelry that was stolen?”

A light came into Mr. Okubo’s eyes, and he took a deep inhale on his cigar.

“Oh ho,” he said. “That looks like a ruby.”

Taking the gem between thumb and forefinger, he examined it more closely with a grim expression.

“Hmm…” he said. “This is not one of my stones.”

Isamu jerked in surprise.

“What?” he exclaimed. “Are you serious?”

Still looking at the stone with a critical gaze, Mr. Okubo continued.

“In the first place, this is a cheap replica,” he said.

Isamu took the stone back on his white cloth. How strange, he thought to himself. Who could have dropped such a thing?

Out loud he said, “Has anyone entered the area where the crime took place after you discovered what happened?”

“No, I should say not,” said Mr. Okubo.

Isamu took his chin in his hand and gazed down as he pondered the crime. Hmmm… this incident really is a mess of mysteries, he thought.

The next day, the chief met with a coterie from the local media, and he was crowded by journalists nigh frantic with questions, Cameras popped and flashed like a light show.

“There have now been a total of four victims!”

“Chief inspector, what kind of counter measures are being put together?”

“There has been a rise in voices calling out the Metropolitan Police Department on their inactivity.”

“If this set of conditions continues, the citizens of the city will be unable to rest easy at night.”

“What are the police doing to meet this crisis?”

“The townsfolk are shaking in fear from the threat!”

“Now, everyone, please,” the chief said, holding his hands out around himself, clearing away room as the camera bulbs continued to pop around him. “If you all ask your questions at once, we won’t get anywhere. I assure you that the police are doing everything within our power to solve the issue at hand.”

The chief put his hands down, then took a step back, gazing around at the crowd.

“At any rate, what we are facing here is not a normal human threat,” he said. “And until we understand what we are up against, the precise steps remain unclear.”

“So what you mean to say is that you intend to just let the liquid men rampage about as they please?” asked one journalist.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” the chief said. “In the near future the most appropriate means to move forward will become clear, and we will most certainly eradicate the menace completely.”

“According to stories going around, the liquid men have their nest in the sewers beneath the research laboratories, correct?” asked another journalist.

“Well…” the chief said. “As to that, we have performed search after search in the tunnels beneath the city and so far we have been unable to find anything.”

“Moreover, the liquid men have not only appeared near the research lab, but in other areas as well,” spoke up yet another of the press.

“Chief inspector, why are the liquid men taking it upon themselves to steal valuable goods in the city?” asked another.

The chief inspector raised a finger and made as if to tap something in the air.

“On that point, we are also quite baffled,” said the inspector.

“Maybe those liquid guys might want to go and read some manga or something,” said a journalist in a light-colored suit with a grin.

“Hey, hey, this is no laughing matter,” said the chief.

Though at the remarks, several of the others gathered taking notes broke out in a smattering of guffaws.

It felt like it might be the last time they could laugh for a long time.

Later, back at the Okubo residence, the inspectors were busy drawing blood samples from each of the family members. After taking blood from the last of the human residents—Okubo’s older son—the nurse they hired for the day took the test tube with plasma in hand and high stepped it to the testing equipment.

“With this, all of the members of the family are taken care of!” he said.

Okubo’s son smiled, putting pressure on the spot on his right arm where the nurse had jabbed him.

“Yeah,” he said. “And now we just have to get it from the dogs and cats!”

The chief approached Isamu in the next room with a look of concern on his face.

“Isamu, what do you think you’re doing, taking the blood from the Okubo family?” he asked.

While Isamu packed his things, he looked up at the chief, eyebrow cocked.

“Just something small caught my attention and I wanted to look into it a bit more,” he said. “Something about these liquid men just isn’t sitting right with me.”

“You are the most confounding individual I have to deal with,” the chief said, hands on his hips, exasperation in his voice.

Isamu picked up his bag, ready to go.

“Why is that, sir?”

“When we were out looking for the drug gang, at that time you insisted there were liquid men we needed to pay attention to,” the chief said. “Now we are looking for the liquid men, and you’re insisting that some outside characters are involved somehow! I can’t win!”

Isamu scratched his head, but gave a wry expression.

“I am not trying to be difficult at all,” he said.

The chief put an arm around Isamu’s shoulder and laughed as they headed for the door together.

“No, I get it,” the chief said. “This is just your way of doing things. And I am sure you will turn up something soon enough.”

Isamu, however, seemed less certain.

“Well…” he said.

As Isamu got into his car, he called out to his chief.

“If I learn anything, I’ll contact you right away,” he shouted over the din of the rain.

Then into the maelstrom drove he, water spraying up from his tires, the driving rain bearing down all around, lending the scenery a shadowy eeriness as Isamu drove on.

It was a rainy night of terror, a night on which the liquid men could appear in a moment and attack without warning. Even if you closely shut up all your doors and lock your windows tight, the liquid men could find the tiniest gap and slip inside, soundlessly coming to get you…

In areas near the entrances to the sewers, patrol cars were outfitted with flamethrowers and put on alert. The Self-Defense Forces also cooperated in tandem with the police in order to protect the people of the city, forming guard details in key locations. Police with flashlights and flamethrowers constantly patrolled the streets. The roads were enveloped in a suffocating atmosphere, thick with the silence of the grave.

Back in the laboratory, Isamu gazed through his microscope, unblinking, staring hard, and he heard the chief inspector nearby shuffle his feet.

“Do you understand?” said the chief.

“Yeah, I get it,” said Isamu, straightening from the microscope. “The stone we found has particular imperfections that mark it as once being attached to a ring.”

“Right, and?” asked the chief.

“Presumably,” Isamu continued. “This stone was not stolen at all, but rather was dropped by one of the robbers at the scene of the crime.”

Isamu then picked up the shard of glass on which they had discovered the drops of blood.

“And this shard of glass,” he said. “The blood on it must have come from someone who was on the scene, but the blood type is O… but not one person in the family has that blood type, from which we can conclude that when the window was broken, someone other than the family was present in the building.”

The chief folded his arm, a grim smile on his face, a lab worker beside him exuding an air of satisfaction.

“Quite so,” said the chief. “I am tracking right along with you.”

Isamu nodded, and then continued.

“The liquid men do not wear rings on their fingers,” he said. “And they don’t have blood running in their veins. So we can conclude that the robbery was the work of a human being.”

“And so it makes a lot more sense why money and jewelry were taken,” said the chief. “We had witnesses who claimed they actually saw the liquid men, though.”

“That is still an issue,” said Isamu. “It may be possible that some incidents were caused by real liquid men, and other incidents were caused by someone using a fake liquid man to cover his tracks so that what is real and what is fake get all tangled up together.”

Isamu got out the Geiger counter again, and ran it over the evidence from the crime scenes.

“The clothing left over from the victims who disappeared do trigger the Geiger counter,” he said. “And so there is evidence of radiation. However, excepting the incidents where a liquid man was actually seen, the amount of radiation is truly negligible. In those incidents with the relative lack of radiation, great amounts of valuables were taken.”

Isamu looked at the chief significantly.

“From all this we can conclude that a gang has been skillfully utilizing the liquid men as a cover for their criminal activity,” he said.

“So that’s it!” said the chief. “It was the gang all along!”

The chief smiled with renewed determination.

“They really got our goat,” he said. “But they aren’t going to get away with those shenanigans from here on out! Those gangland toughs! We will get them next time!”

“But let’s not forget, the liquid men are real, too,” Isamu said. “And they are out there as well.”

The chief put on his hat and turned to the laboratory man, Isamu’s father, Maki.

“Maki, thanks to Isamu, we’ve about got this case solved,” he said.

“Well, but Isamu, he is at the peak of his mischievousness,” said the lab man. “You don’t know what I have to put up with!”

The chief headed out the door.

“Well then, little Holmes!” he said. “Many thanks again for lending us a hand! Night!”

Maki took off his coat with a happy sigh.

“With that taken care of, shall we take a bit of a breather ourselves?” he said.

But Isamu didn’t appear ready to slow down.

“Dad, about the liquid men…” he began.

“I get it,” said Maki as he hung up his coat. “The liquid men are still at large, and not far from this very laboratory.”

“They must be in the sewers underneath our feet after all,” said Isamu.

“Yes,” said Maki as they walked through a nearby park. “Throughout the wide spaces of Tokyo, there don’t seem to be places with much radiation, so they must have their nest somewhere underground.”

Chapter 4: The Lair of the Gang

On a dark night, within the dark city, lights in a million windows of a thousand buildings twinkled in the inky black, but inside equally dim rooms, plots were being hatched from a high-rise apartment building.

“Where should we hit next, doc?” said a gangster, leaning next to the window.

“The weather forecast on the radio,” said the head crook. “Says tomorrow’s gonna be rain in the evening.”

He eyeballed his partners in crime, puffed on his cigarette.

“We need to strike then,” he said. “No question.”

“Well, why don’t we wait a moment, eh?” said a balding, scowling man, hunched next to a whiskey bottle, arms curled like he was about to pounce. “We get too hasty, them cops are going to nab us by the tail.”

The honcho plucked the cigarette from his mouth, eyes scrunched in a grin.

“Huh!” he said. “The police, you think they understand what’s going on? The more they try to figure out what’s up, the more they are going to be chasing the H-men, and we will be scott-free either way.”

A third gang member, more squat, broad shouldered, with a dumb grin and wide eyes as he looked over the assembled jewels, nearly burst with his enthusiasm for the boss’s words.

“Baha! Gotta say, it’s amazin’ what we got going on with this gig!” he said.

The boss took a fresh cigarette in his mouth, lit it with his lighter.

“You mugs, we just barely got started,” he said.

The broad grin on the squat gangster evaporated, but a fourth gangster in black with angular specs gave a sly grin.

“Yeah, I completely agree,” he said. “The boss is planning to fill this entire room with jewels.”

“If you wanna split things now, you better be ready to work hard for it,” the boss said, flipping a shiny gem in his hand.

The squat man chortled.

“Whatever the boss says is good for me,” he said.

“Alrighty then, let’s pop a squat for a listen,” he said with a grin.

“Right, so,” said the squat gangster. “I done some digging and I found the Marunouchi Jewelry Shop is ripe for the picking.”

His face grew serious as he shuffled his plans, glancing over his notes.

“This shop, it’s one of the most popular gem stores in town, you dig?” he said, and laid out a sketch on the desk in front of him. “This here is the layout of the store, men.”

The boss took the sketch in his hands and looked it over appreciatively, sticking one foot up onto the chair and leaning sideways as he looked over the details.

“I got it,” he said. “With this, the job will be a piece of cake.”

The boss looked over sideways at the squat gangster, eyes like a snake’s.

“And the goods?” he said. “How are we standing?”

The squat gangster gave a devilish grin.

“Market value of the jewelry is in the hundreds of thousands of yen,” he said. “And there ain’t more than three guards patrolling the place.”

“Heehee, no matter how many there are, they won’t be a problem,” said the gangster in glasses with a smirk.

“Hey, teacher,” the boss said, sitting on the desk across from the balding gangster and passing over the floorplans. “Let’s get this done tomorrow night. Put together some plans, capiche?”

“The job won’t be a problem, boss,” said baldie. “But first we gotta make sure we cover our tracks!”

The boss leaned back in a comfortable gesture on the desk.

“We ain’t had no problems so far,” he said. “Our tracks ain’t going to be seen by nobody.”

“And if someone does catch wind of what we’re up to?”

“If any big idiot, at any place, at any time, just happens to get on our tail,” the boss said, leaning forward menacingly. “I’ll cut him to mincemeat.”

“And what if that ‘big idiot’ on our trail happens to not be human?” asked baldie.

“You’re worried about someone figuring out our true colors?” said the boss, and he gestured towards a machine in the corner of the room that looked like a box with dials. “That’s what we got that radiation whatzit machine over there for. With that, what do we have to worry about?”

Baldie shook his head.

“That machine only outputs a limited amount of radiation,” he said. “Plus you know the real H-men have already been showing up in the city!”

The boss laughed.

“The H-men showed up at the perfect time,” he said. “Because they showed up, we could carry out our work completely without any suspicion because the coppers were convinced it was the h-men all along!”

The bald goon looked his boss in the eye meaningfully.

“If the real thing eats a person, there’s a big radioactive reaction, boss,” he pointed out. “If the fake remains we keep planting are compared to the real deal, they’ll peg it right away.”

The boss rubbed at his chin, growled through his cigarette.

“Hmm,” he said. “That ain’t good.”

“If we are going to continue this job, we need to get it so that the radioactive response from the fake evidence is equivalent to when the H-men actually kill someone,” said bald thug, probing at a Geiger counter on his desk.

“Doc, it’s going to take some time to get that issue sorted out, am I right?” asked the boss.

The bald techie goon looked up from the device.

“It’s not so much a question of time,” he said. “Rather we need to get our mitts on some radioactive material. We got way too little right now for our needs.”

“What, is that all?” said the boss, brightening and standing up. “Well, in that case… there are places where we can get radioactive material… Doc, we’ll just go and get some right now.”

“The science department at Joutou University, in the lab,” said the bald thug. “They would definitely have what we are looking for.”

“That sounds like a job that I wouldn’t need to stick my own nose out for,” said the boss, looking at the map, then turned to the mug with angular glasses and an ever-present sneer. “Take two or three henchmen and get the stuff.”

Glasses grinned.

“Sure thing,” he said.

The boss sat back in his chair, a self-satisfied smile playing out across his face as the henchmen headed out.

“They’ll be back with the goods within an hour,” he said.

Within moments, specs and his men could be heard speeding down the road outside the gangsters’ hideout. The boss turned to the doc.

“Well then, let’s have a chat about tomorrow’s caper, shall we?” he said.

“Right,” said the doc.

They referred to a rough sketch of the layout of a building.

“First of all,” said the doc. “Just as I said, we will send in one guy to plant the sleeping gas right here—lots of it, just to be sure, you see. We will take the clothing of the guards, and administer the radioactivity with our radioactivity application device, just like before.”

“Then?” asked the boss, continuing to puff on his cig. “What’s the problem?”

“Our investigation into the scene is insufficient,” said the bald man. “We need to case out the area one more time to be absolutely certain of every detail.”

“Ahaha,” laughed the boss. “Just like you, to work out each angle like a real scientist. It’s because of your meticulous attention to detail that all of our work has gone so well up until this point. If I had dreamed up this scheme of using the H-men without you, there ain’t no chance it would have gone so hot, see? You’re a swell chap, doc. Just take a look at all those stacks of bills, those piles of gems… Heh heh heh, it’s enough to blow your mind, how much we’re getting away with!”

“I’m not interested in that stuff,” said the doc, holding up his glass. “Just give me more of this.”

“Booze, huh?” said the boss. “That’s a really nasty habit you got there, eh, doc?”

Chapter 4: The Lair of the Gang

Chapter 5: The Immortal H-Men

“Hoho!” laughed Isamu’s father as they stood together in the light of a clear afternoon, gazing on the new car out in front of the laboratory at the university.

“Dad, that’s a swell car,” Isamu said, leaning over to touch the hood.

“If I hit the jackpot, I’ll buy myself one, hahaha!” said the older man.

Isamu turned to his father with a wry expression.

“Don’t go buying that stuff,” he said. “Gambling is no good.”

“Ahaha, you’re one hundred percent correct, son.”

The pair turned to the building and moved to enter. But just as Isamu opened the front door, he gasped.

“Unbelievable!” he exclaimed. “The lab has been completely torn apart!”

“This is awful!” cried Prof. Maki. “Why would anyone go to such lengths? There isn’t anything worth stealing in this lab!”

Isamu immediately began cleaning up the mess, placing books back on shelves, and sorting things back to where he knew they were supposed to be from many hours at his father’s side.

“It looks like they were searching for something,” he said.

“The desks have been ransacked from corner to corner,” said his dad. “The drawers turned upside down! Yet it seems like all of our most important documents are all here.”

“What were they after, then?” asked Isamu.

“I can’t even guess,” said the scientist. “You’d have to ask the robbers directly to answer that one!”

“Well, why don’t I teach you right now, then?” came a voice from the next room.

Prof. Maki jerked in shock, and Isamu nearly dropped the vase that he was carrying back to its place. He spun around to look at the door just as two men emerged, and one of them—a rat-faced man with triangular glasses, a black jacket, and a huge sneer—pulled a gun and leveled it at his belly.

“Wh-who are you?” stuttered Isamu.

“Why, we’re the robbers you were just talking about,” said the rat-faced man, chuckling. “Didn’t you two come home at a most convenient time?”

He moved closer to Isamu and his father, leaned up and sat on the desk while displaying his pistol in his right hand.

“To be honest, youse guys, we just happen to be in the middle of looking for something, too,” he said.

Isamu’s father crossed his arms, a stubborn expression coloring his features.

“Whatever it is you are looking for, it’s not here!” he sniped.

“Oh, but I think it is,” said the rat, twisting his head around to sneer at the two. “I’m talking about the radioactive materials you keep.”

Isamu’s father exploded out of his chair, the very idea of the robbers using the dangerous substance stoking his anger and launching him into the rat’s face.

“Radioactive materials!” he blurted. “You must be mad!”

“That material is exactly what we are after,” said the rat, nose-to-nose with the professor. “Be a good geezer and go fetch it for me, huh?”

“Just what are you planning to use the radioactive materials for?” demanded the professor.

“Well, asking a question like that, don’t you think you’re being a bit too nosy?” said the rat, shifting the gun at the doctor.

“Don’t you guys get it?” asked the professor. “If you handle materials like that poorly, you could get yourselves killed!”

“Hey, gang, the geezer doesn’t want to pipe down,” said the rat. “Maybe he wants we should rough him up a bit?”

Isamu immediately stepped forward with his hand outstretched.

“Don’t you get it?” he said. “My father is worried about your safety!”

The rat shoved the barrel of his gun into Isamu’s chin.

“You little annoying brat,” he said. “You also aiming for some pain?”

One of the gang members, a gruff man with a bad combover and unshaven face, grabbed Isamu by the cuff and reared back to hit him.

“Looks like it’s my turn,” he said. “Let’s see how you like this!”

The thug threw the punch, a real haymaker, but Isamu ducked below it, moving with incredible speed.

“What do you think you’re trying to do?” Isamu asked casually.

“Dirty rotten!” growled the mug, taking another swing.

“There’s no need for violence!” Isamu shouted, backpedaling. Then, with a twist of his body, he caught the man’s arm, wrenching it sideways.

“Yeeeeeeoowww!” the thug cried out.

“If you don’t calm down, I’m going to have to break your arm,” said Isamu.

Chapter 5: Fight Scene

The thug stumbled away, one hand on his bad combover. The rat glared at him.

“You careless idiot,” he said.

The thug blanched and groaned.

“Sorry, boss,” he said.

“So the kid has some spunk to him, eh?” said the rat, fiddling with something in his hands. “How’s about you take some one-on-one time with me, then?”

Isamu started, noticing something gleam on the rat’s finger.

What’s this? thought Isamu. That, on his left hand…

It was a ring—a ring with a missing gem! And around his hand, a bandage… The rat noticed Isamu staring, saw his jaw working as ideas fell into place.

“What are you mumbling about over there?” the rat said.

Isamu shoved his hands in his pockets as everything became clear.

“You’re the fake H-man,” he said.

The rat stepped back, shocked, brow furrowing with rage.

“Wh-what are you…” he stammered. “Don’t be ridiculous!”

“The evidence is on your left hand!” Isamu said, stepping forward and jabbing out with his forefinger. “There, that injury! And the ring that’s missing a gem!”

The rat pulled his hand away, hiding it behind him, but it was too late.

“On that violent, stormy night…” Isamu began, building up steam. “When you broke into the abode of Mr. Okubo, the glass cut your hand, and you lost the gem.”

Isamu took a step forward.

“Your blood-type is O, isn’t it?” he continued, and then pulled something from his coat pocket. “And here—this is the rock for your ring!”

The rat ripped the stone from Isamu’s hand, spitting with anger, and Isamu laughed.

“Bull’s eye,” he said, then sat down and crossed his leg. “That’s not all, either. I know why you want the radioactive material. You want to use it to increase the radioactivity in the clothes you are planting as evidence at the scenes of the crimes you’re pulling.”

One of the thugs cocked his pistol.

“Brat’s got it all figured out,” he growled.

“Hrrmmm,” grumbled the rat. “Since you know our secrets, then you’re a liability…”

Isamu laughed out loud.

“So you aren’t interested in finding the radioactive materials anymore, huh?” he said.

The rat waved the gun at Isamu again, trying to regain the upper hand.

“Oi, brat,” he said. “Out with the goods, and make it snappy! This time I’m not playing around. Depending on how you answer, I’ll drill you one good!”

But Isamu kept smiling, then pointed to where the comb-over thug was sitting.

“It’s in that lead box that your thug is sitting on over there,” he said.

The thug leapt off the box with surprise, and the rat dashed over, putting away the firearm. Together they tugged the cover off the box and began extracting the contents when a siren started sounding—long, clear wails that sealed their fate.

“An alarm!” cried the rat.

Instantly the inept gangster was on his feet, clutching at Isamu’s coat.

“Lousy, stinking brat!” he roared. “You knew all along it was rigged!”

But the other gangsters were already starting to run, and one of them turned to the rat, calling out.

“Nix, boss!” he yelled. “We gotta scram before the cops get here!”

The rat turned, eyes flashing with anger.

“You boys get out of here,” he steamed. “I’m going to take care of this brat, permanently, and be out after you.”

Just then Isamu saw something moving behind the rat, and for the first time true fear crawled up his spine. He cried out, his blood cold, and he pointed, shaking.

“There!” he shouted. “Look over there!”

The rat turned with a confused grunt, and the professor looked too. Electric shock shot through the room, and the gangsters shouted in alarm.

“Aaagh!”

There, in the middle of the room, like a pillar of black tar, something had appeared—animated slime, oozing and slowly taking shape.

Chapter 5: The Immortal H-Men

One of the goons turned towards the quivering, malevolent shape, raising his gun.

“Wh-why, what’s with this?” he stammered.

The black ooze took the shape of a man, with an emotionless, tar-like face.

“It’s an H-man!” cried Isamu.

“B-blasted monster!” shouted one of the goons. “Take some of this!”

The goon in a gray suit began firing his gun, which thundered in the small space of the house. The bullets burst through the H-man, leaving behind gaping holes. But just as quickly as the holes appeared, the holes sealed themselves, leaving no mark that they had ever existed.

The liquid man lurched forward, reaching out for the goon holding the box containing the radioactive material. Isamu panicked, raising his hand in warning.

“Throw away the box!” he yelled.

The goon screamed, but he was too slow to react. The liquid man burst across his back, black ichor spraying across the man’s shoulders, burning into the back of his head. Its face seemed to smile as it attacked, devouring him whole, swallowing up his body, dissolving him from top to bottom.

Chapter 5: The Attack

The thug that had been firing on the H-man bit his fingers, groaning in shock and surprise at his friend’s fate. As the liquid man continued to dissolve the thug, it also knocked the lid off of the box and began to creep inside, gulping down the radioactive material.

The professor drew near the oozing morass, waving his arms to get the attention of the thugs, who were mesmerized by the gristly sight.

“What do you think you’re doing?” he bellowed. “Hurry, get outside! Run!”

The gangsters ran, and Isamu ducked into a nearby room. The thug was completely gone by this point, flesh liquefied, and the H-man was already reforming into a human body. As it rose into a black pillar, Isamu dashed back into the room, carrying a flamethrower, the rat close behind. In mere moments the liquid man had taken on a distinct bipedal form, and it faced Isamu, the rat, and the professor.

The rat seemed the most panicked, sweat trickling down his face.

“Hurry, ice this monster!” cried the rat.

Isamu did the opposite, releasing the full fury of the flame thrower. A wall of fire engulfed the H-man, the flames completely covering the black demon. The heat was so intense that beads of sweat burst across his brow. Yet, in the fire, the black form flickered in and out of sight, and its face…

“What the blazes?” said the thug. “That monster’s got an expression like he is completely fine!”

The oozing specter peered out of the flames, its face impassive, but Isamu wouldn’t let up. Finally the professor touched him on the shoulder, panic in his voice.

“Isamu, no matter how long you try, the result is the same,” he said. “It’s not working!”

“Drat it all!” shouted Isamu.

The professor turned to the gathered goons.

“Everybody, run!” he demanded. “The flamethrowers can’t exterminate the H-men!”

Isamu switched the flamethrower off, and immediately the man of black ooze stepped out of the waves of heat, completely unscathed.

“No good!” Isamu cried. “That H-man is just peachy!”

Sirens wailed through the air, and one of the thugs pointed, yelled, “It’s the cops!”

A patrol car screeched to a halt not far away, near the edge of the carefully cultivated lawn, and two police officers charged out of the vehicle. The closer of the two spotted the scene of the violence right away.

“Over there!” he shouted, and his partner grunted recognition of the command.

They came in a run, guns out, and the rat acted on instinct—turning his pistol on his natural enemy.

“So it’s come to this,” he said. “Dirty scum! Fill ‘em with lead!”

“Way ahead of ya,” said the nearest thug.

All the remaining gangsters began firing, stymying the police in their tracks as they fumbled for their firearms in the barrage. But even as they exchanged fire, two more patrol cars screamed onto the scene, with additional officers rolling out and joining the fight upon arrival.

The toupee-thug quailed.

“This just keeps getting worse!” he said. “The police are swarming like flies!”

“Big brother,” said another thug to the rat. “Look for your chance, and then scram out of here!”

As the fireworks continued, Isamu and his father managed to dart around the maelstrom of lead and made it to one of the patrol cars, where the chief was waiting. He thundered out of the vehicle just as they arrived, face afire with consternation.

“What the devil is going on?” he demanded.

“The H-men!” said Isamu. “Real ones and fake ones, knocking heads now as we speak!”

The chief looked over at the firefight that continued to rage not more than several hundred feet away, and a flash of recognition shivered across his features.

“That’s the Pachinko Iron Gang!” he said, then turned to Isamu. “But they aren’t the type of group that’s able to use the H-men like we have been seeing!”

Isamu cracked his knuckles.

“They definitely have some kind of kingpin they are working under,” he said.

The gangsters crouched and hid near the bushes of the formerly immaculate gardens surrounding the laboratory, grinding out curse words between volleys of lead. They were so busy firing off shots that they did not notice the shadowy figures emerging behind them. One of the policemen, taking refuge on the far side of a patrol car, spotted the advancing threat.

“Behind the perps,” he said. “Those black shadows!”

“Ohh, no!” said the chief.

“The liquid men!” cried Isamu.

Two of the H-men reached the toupeed man first. He crouched low, continuously firing, his face a grim mask of violent determination. He did not see the concern on the faces of the police, did not hear their cries, and then the liquid man reached for him.

He caught sight of the glistening black hand too late, releasing a choked scream just before the black slime gripped him, sliding down the front of his suit, clenching across his neck. His scream turned into a painful gurgle, which itself was cut off as his body fell apart, and for a moment all that could be seen of him was his hand, quivering as it stuck out of the mass of tar-like material.

Finally the rat and the other thugs noticed what was happening. The rat forgot himself, standing straight out behind the nearby bush, free hand to his mouth, fear and panic driving rivers of sweat down his body.

He ran, putting his whole body into it, dashing away as fast as he could. The last remaining thug—the one in the dark gray suit—saw him go, and a H-man shuffling nearer. Spine-shattering panic nearly buckled his legs under him.

“Big brother!” he nearly screamed. “D-don’t leave me behind, please!”

Toupee was gone, and the H-men tossed aside the man’s clothing. Another liquid man lurched towards the last thug, and the man raised a hand as if to fend off the threat.

“Don’t come over here!” he said, voice a shivering mess. “Get away from me!”

As the thug went to run, he found himself charging towards the police, who still had their guns leveled at him.

“Hey!” said the nearest officer. “Drop your weapon!”

“Erk,” said the thug, stopping for a moment, head bobbing back and forth between the monster and the man in blue.

He spat.

“No good ahead, no good behind!” he exclaimed.

“You can’t run away any longer!” said the officer.

There was really no choice. The thug made his decision, and he threw down his gun.

“I got it, I give up!” he growled. “It’s better to spend some time in the clink than to get melted by a monster!”

Back amongst the police, Isamu turned to the chief, a look of puzzlement creasing his face.

“You aren’t going to go after the Pachinko Iron Gang?” he asked.

“Hrm,” said the chief. “With the H-men in the way, we can’t pursue them even if we wanted to.”

“If we go by car, it should be fine,” said Isamu.

The chief clenched his fist, eyes flashing.

“Yes, that’s a great idea!” he said.

The chief, Isamu, and a fellow officer climbed into the heftiest patrol car on the premises. They pulled out, then turned to pursue after where the Pachinko Iron Gang had dashed into the distance. The officer slammed the accelerator into the floor.

“Top speed!” shouted the chief. “Let’s slam through like a battering ram!”

One of the H-men stood in the way, and it made no motion to dodge. The patrol car slammed directly into its body, spraying black ichor all over the street. The patrol car then smashed into a second H-men, shattering its left side. The chief peered back at the splatter with a sigh of satisfaction.

“Alright,” he said. “That went well!”

“Yeah,” said Isamu. “Got a feeling the car is quite messy now, though. Let’s get after them!”

Chapter 6: The Gang, Entrapped

The rat had his boat of a muscle car screaming down the street, nearly flying over the asphalt, when he noticed the siren shrieking out from behind. He glanced back with a start, spewing vitriol.

“Rotten luck!” he cried. “The fuzz!”

At the secret base, the rat barged into the room where the boss was waiting. The senior goon turned, regarding the frantic movements of his underling with a bemused expression.

“Boss!” the rat exclaimed. “I got news!”

“Oh, well, give me the whole shebang,” he said. “I was waiting for you.”

The rat explained in detail, but when he reached the appearance of the H-men, the boss could not help but speak up.

“Yes, so, at the very worst moment, a liquid guy just up and appeared, sheer out of nowhere,” he said.

“Well, that is interesting,” said the boss, hands in pockets, but ears pricked.

The rat lowered his head.

“Yes, so…” continued the underling. “Because of that, I couldn’t get the stuff, boss.”

“What?” shouted rat’s leader, turning his head, anger flaring across his mug.

Then, as if on cue, a wailing siren from outside. The boss slipped off the desk where he had been perched and took a look out the window, where he saw not one, but two patrol cars pulled up outside.

Chapter 6: The Gang, Entrapped

“I see you very kindly guided the police straight to the hideout, too,” he said.

The rat jerked, his arms coming up, sweat immediately appearing on his forehead as he stepped away from the boss, who was reaching into his coat.

“B-boss, no, I was sure I had shaken off the tail, it couldn’t be…” he started.

“Shut up,” said the boss, leveling a gun at the goon. “I don’t want to listen to your excuses.”

The rat backed up against the wall, his whole body shaking, pants turning dark as he wet them from sheer terror.

“M… ooh, p-please, boss,” he said. “Give me a break!”

The boss’s eye arced with hatred, all mercy drained away.

“You utter buffoon,” he said. “Because of your incompetence, the job is completely wasted. You know what happens next, don’t you.”

It wasn’t a question. The rat could not utter more than a peep, and then the room was filled with the explosion of gunfire.

The gangster dropped his pistol with a gasp.

Just as the boss had been about to pull the trigger, the chief, smashing in through the door, had shot the pistol from his grip. The rat gasped in relief, gripping his chest, and the boss clutched his right hand, grinding his teeth.

“You got me good,” he growled.

“I’m Chief Tominaga,” said the chief. “I don’t permit executions on my watch!”

Within moments the rat and the boss were both handcuffed and being taken into custody, the boss grumbling and cursing the whole way. One of the officers approached the doc, the man who had made the fake H-men. Now he was busy pouring himself a drink.

“You, too,” said the officer. “You’ve got to come with us.”

“Whee!” chirped the doc. “Wait, wait, allow me one last relaxing drink before we go!”

The officer did not allow him much time to toss back the alcohol, and soon the entire gang was tied together in a line, ready to be led out to the police cars. The doc continued to babble and cheer in his drunken stupor.

“Wheehee!” he cried. “The boss was a nasty three-day king, but I got a lot of booze, so it was a plum great time! But you know, doing bad things and pulling crimes ain’t worth all the effort, you know? Ahahaha!”

“Stop with your weird laughter,” said the boss with a sullen expression.

Meanwhile in the next room, Isamu and the chief continued their investigation of the gang’s hideout. The chief was going through a stack of papers when Isamu laid his hands on a strange machine tucked away on a side table.

“Chief Tominaga, this must be the device they used to produce the radioactivity for their caper!”

The chief smiled grimly.

“The device used to apply radioactivity to the clothing left over as false evidence of an H-man attack, yes!” he said.

As the chief was still talking, one of the other staff came in with an announcement.

“Chief, we have found some people tied up in the basement,” he said. “We have released them, but I think you’ll want to see who they are.”

Behind the man came three very familiar individuals. Isamu identified them right away.

“These are the people that the H-men supposedly had melted as part of the gang’s schemes,” he said. “The guard from the jewelers, the houseworker from Nagamochi’s household, and Mosa.”

The guard was a bald, worried looking man with tufts of hair on each side of his head. The butler stared with glazed eyes and an idiotic smile, uncertain what to do, while Mosa in his massive beard rubbed at his arm where the chains had held him, glancing over at the others with obvious relief.

The chief lit his cigarette.

“We have the H-men case halfway settled at this point,” he said with a grin.

“By the way, about that,” Isamu said. “I have some bad news.”

The chief lowered his cigarette.

“What is it this time?” he asked.

“The flame throwers are no longer effective against the H-men,” Isamu said.

The chief lurched forward.

“What?” he said. “Are you serious?”

Isamu curled his fingers into fists, neck stiff with tension and frustration at the memory.

“Just before, when I faced off against the H-men,” Isamu said. “I gave the first one that appeared all I had, used the flame thrower, the hottest flames I could get—and the liquid man walked through it like he was on a midday stroll!”

The chief was so distressed he wasted his freshly-lit cigarette, stubbing it in a nearby ash tray.

“If the flamethrowers are no good, then what are we supposed to do?” he asked.

Isamu and the chief walked out of the gangster’s abode, deep in thought, pondering their next course of action.

“Without further research, I really can’t say,” Isamu said in a low voice.

“Things have just turned dark indeed,” said the chief.

The counterfeit H-men were apprehended, but far from any sense of relief, the city plunged deeper into darkness. If the H-men appear now, without any means to fight them, there would be no choice but to run away.

Chapter 7: The Attack of the H-Men

On a rainy night… the victims of the H-men fell, one, two, then another one… all on the rainy streets of the city!

In the laboratory, the professor stood next to a large black table surrounded by scientific gadgetry, nobs, displays, and more. He wore a serious expression, and gestured to a puddle of muck upon the black countertop.

“Here is a toad onto which I applied the black ash of radiation,” he said. “It then became liquid, like the H-men. Now let us apply heat—the same level of heat that the H-men endured in the sewers previously when they were exterminated after their initial rampage.”

A nozzle above the black table moved into position and spouted forth a wide burst of flame that washed over the liquid toad. The strange creature did not appear affected, and simply wriggled in the heat.

“As you can see, the ‘liquid toad’ can move freely and ignore the flames despite the heat. The liquid seems to have formed a protective film that provides an immunity to flame attacks.”

The professor turned from the table and faced the military leaders who had gathered to hear his talk.

“The h-men that dwelled in the sewers endured a prolonged exposure to the fiery heat of the flamethrowers,” he said. “Because of that exposure, a gas emanated from them and created a chemical reaction which gave that first lucky h-man the ability to withstand the flamethrowers’ attacks.”

One of the military leaders, a man with squared-off black hair and an incredibly straight handlebar mustache, stood proudly and straight, and made the first comment.

“In that case, the first issue that needs addressing,” said he. “Is in what way we can replace the flamethrower method with an equally effective extermination protocol.”

The general to his side, a westerner with an even more impressive mustache that appeared like a pair of wings arcing upwards from his lip, raised a hand and gruffly demanded, “We need the answer as quickly as possible!”

The professor placed his hands on his hips, and Isamu stood behind him. Together they faced the irate westerner.

“We are doing all that we can,” said the professor. “But we are at the research stage at this moment and cannot give definitive strategies without more time. However, we believe that we may be able to use a special variety of radiation-neutralizing light as a means of destroying the new species of H-men that we now are facing.”

The western general crossed his arms.

“As you are aware, the victims of the H-men are ever increasing every moment,” he said. “We cannot waste time.”

He reached out and shook the professor’s hand.

“In order to protect the people of the city,” he said grimly. “Please, with all possible speed—we need the results of your research, professor!”

Chapter 7: Strategy Meeting

In order to research the special variety of light ray, the scientists soon put their full efforts into working at the Maki Biochemical Experimental Laboratory. They didn’t want to waste a single second, and every night the lights could be seen on late into the morning hours at the lab as they continued with their critical work.

At the same time, underscoring just how important the work really was, victims of the H-men continued to pile up more each day.

One day, one of the scientists came to update the chief on the ongoing situation. He arrived on a stormy afternoon, dashing inside through the rain, chills running up his spine to think that an H-man could appear from the shadows at any time.

Inside the chief’s office, the scientist presented a gloomy expression.

“Chief inspector, I am afraid six more people have fallen to the H-men,” the scientist said.

The chief leaned forward on his desk.

“Hrm!” he said.

“Take a look at this circle here,” said the chief, indicating symbols on a map pasted to the wall above his desk. “It marks where the laboratory stands. These stars show where people have fallen victim to the liquid men. All of the victims so far suffered attacks not far from the laboratory.”

The chief turned away from the map, clasped his hands behind him and began pacing, deep in thought.

“It seems certain that the H-men are lurking in the sewers near the laboratory,” he said. “Until Dr. Maki and the others have completed their research, we can’t take even one step to try to truly fight those monsters!”

The scientist crossed his arms.

“It’s really too bad,” he said.

“Another rainy day,” said the chief, peering out the window at the rain as it pounded the ground. “I sure hope we don’t have any more attacks today. If there is any mercy in the world…”

Not far away, however, as the rain continued to patter and fill the streets with flowing water, dark ooze slithered from the storm drains. That dark ooze quickly formed into a pillar, liquid wiggling and streaming into shape until a human form strode through the darkening evening.

Back at the Maki Laboratory, Professor Maki was hard at work with his team. As his assistants fiddled with high-tech gadgetry and machinery, he held up an important piece of equipment with a look of triumph.

“All right, it’s done!” he said. “All we have left is the battery of tests!”

But even as he spoke, Prof. Maki looked over his team, a sense of pride and brotherly feeling overwhelming him.

“However, I know you are all tired,” he said. “It’s been a very long time since we have had a proper respite. Let’s get some well-deserved rest… so that the work doesn’t suffer, of course.”

The other team members spoke nearly in unison—and with relief.

“In that case, good night!” they said.

Prof. Maki put his hands in his pockets, and his son Isamu came to stand beside him as the other team members filed out.

“Good work today!” he said. “Tomorrow, bright and early, we will begin the tests!”

Prof. Maki turned to look at Isamu, his smile beaming.

“We have reached the testing stage much earlier than I expected,” Prof. Maki said.

Isamu stood tall, proud of what the team had accomplished.

“All due to the extraordinary efforts being put together by your team, dad,” he said.

“Well,” said Prof. Maki, shrugging off his coat, bones popping as he did so. “I guess I might as well get a bit of shuteye myself, huh?”

Over at the desks, Isamu was finishing up some last-minute organization of the equipment.

“Yep, I think so,” he said, but an ugly premonition prickled at his neck.

Isamu turned, hearing a familiar sinister gurgle, and what he saw brought forth a warning bursting from his lungs.

“Ah! Dad! Watch out!”

There, coming in from the front door, brazen, with no fear, was a liquid man, gazing out at Isamu and his father with a blank, dead expression. Prof Maki dropped his coat, feeling his body freeze up at the sight. Isamu reached out, shock jolting him into action.

“Run, dad, please!” he said. “Get out of here!”

The professor was up against the wall, hands to his sides, cold fear like steel holding him in place.

“It’s no good!” he said. “There’s no time!”

The H-man was already hunching towards him, shiny body glittering in the cool, clinical light of the laboratory.

“Isamu!” the professor cried as the monster closed in. “Use the light beam! Quickly!”

“But that hasn’t been…” Isamu began.

“Can’t worry about that now!” shouted the professor, cutting off his son. “If it doesn’t work, I’ll be dead!”

No time for indecision, no room for doubts, Isamu charged for the device in the experimental chamber. He grasped the special light beam lamp, pulling it off the table, nearly disconnecting the wires to the battery. The H-man had his father pinned, the older man couldn’t move. Isamu hit the switch.

The light burst into being, shooting across the room, washing against the black slime of the creature’s preternatural body. Yet still it advanced, its dead expression coming nearer, nearer to the professor. The light cast a pallid white across half the creature’s face, and it almost looked sad as its lifeless face dropped forward to consume the scientist.

Sweat poured from the scientist’s face, and also down Isamu’s brow, onto his proud nose, across his cheeks as the tension wrenched at his bowels. It wasn’t working, nothing was happening, nothing…

The H-man reached out, hands huge in the light, as if they could crush the life out of any man.

“Ah…” the professor said, choking. “It’s no good!”

Chapter 7: Cornered

But then suddenly, incredibly, the liquid man exploded with an audible pop. All across the floor, like nothing but a spilled dish, were the remains of the thing—blotches of ink-like muck and slime. Prof. Maki peered down on the carnage, at first too shocked to be able to move.

Isamu was the first to react, embracing his father, tears welling in his eyes.

“Father!” he cried.

“Ohhh, Isamu!” babbled the professor, openly weeping. “It was a success! Next chance we are going to completely wipe out the H-men!”

Isamu gazed out the window, noticing the sunrise as it reared up over the distant city, transfixing the clouds with rays of light.

“Ohhh,” he said. “The sky is already…”

“I haven’t had such a refreshing morning in a very long time,” said the professor.

“I feel like I could take the world,” said Isamu as the light poured in.

Chapter 8: The Last Stand of the H-Men

The chief leaned over the map in the meeting room, using a pointer to indicate various symbols and important areas to carry out their upcoming mission, The sense of urgency was palpable in the room, and the chief’s every movement was decisive.

“As indicated, we will carry out the plan here,” he said.

The officers made affirmative noises—“Yes, sir!”

“Gentlemen, when you reach your assigned position, carry out your assigned roles accordingly,” the chief said.

“Yes, sir!”

“All communication will be carried out by wireless!” the chief said, holding up a walkie-talkie. “That’s all. Let’s roll out!”

“Yes, sir!”

The patrol cars and police vehicles roared to life and barreled down the road, almost as if in a parade. They came one after the other, sirens searing through the air and mixing, crossing, filling the atmosphere with intense noise as the pedestrians looked on.

The chief went and picked up Isamu at the laboratory. As the chief opened the door, he gave the younger man a grim smile.

“Hey, Isamu!” he said. “I waited for you!”

Isamu slipped into the back seat with the chief, and they locked eyes, knowing the trouble ahead.

“I heard about that bit of nastiness you got into last night,” he said.

“Yeah, thanks to that, we now know the device works!” Isamu said. “I’d say that makes it worth it.”

The chief laughed.

“Well, if you are that energetic about it, then I guess you must be okay,” he said.

The chief unfolded the map in between them so that they could both get a good look at the layout together, even while the patrol car hurried on.

“We will be making our entrance into the sewers from here,” he said, indicating a marker on the map. “We will surround the area of the laboratory from four sides, and come in with a pincer movement to put the squeeze on them. That’s the gist of it.”

The patrol car was already arriving at their destination.

“I am certain that the plan will go well,” the chief said. “As certain as I can be.”

As the chief and Isamu exited the patrol vehicle, a crowd of journalists bunched around, flashes snapping, lights bursting. The chief was unphased.

“As usual, you got your ears everywhere, don’t you?” he said.

One of the journalists, a young man in a fedora with eyes that did not track together, spoke up.

“It’s alright if we tag along, ain’t it, chief inspector?”

“Well, support is support I guess,” he said. “But I cannot guarantee the safety of any of you.”

“We understand!” piped up another journalist, this one with huge glasses that obscured his eyes. “We will do our best to present all the facts fairly and accurately, for that’s what the press does!”

The chief shook his head.

“You guys, I’m always impressed by your foolhardy bravery,” he said. “Do as you will. But for pity’s sake, be careful, you hear?”

Then, at that moment, over the wireless—

“Chief inspector, all units are at their assigned locations and ready to deploy on your orders!”

“All right,” the chief said, moving into position next to an open manhole. “All units, deploy. Geiger counter units take the vanguard position!”

The police climbed down into the gloomy depths of the sewers, and the chief continued issuing warnings to his men.

“If you notice anything, any reaction on the counters, inform the others immediately,” he said. “If you feel a sense of danger, just run!”

The officers made their way through the drains, boots clomping in the water. The lights from their headlamps cut hard beams through the silent darkness. They wouldn’t be surprising anyone.

“Any reaction on the counter?” asked the chief.

“Not a one,” said the nearest officer grimly.

Isamu came up next to the chief.

“The H-men produce considerable radiation, so the counters should pick them up from some distance away,” he said.

“Right,” said the chief, though still with a troubled brow.

Suddenly a scream burst out through the darkness. Isamu spun, the chief ducked into an action profile, and they rushed to the source of the disturbance.

“What happened?” cried one of the officers.

One of the journalists stood with face flushed, body scrunched in embarrassment as the other officers crowded around. He scratched at his head apologetically.

“Ahh, just, I am sorry, guys,” he said. “Some ice-cold water fell on the nape of my neck, and I totally freaked. I… I’m really sorry.”

The chief, listening in to the explanation, couldn’t help but smirk.

“Good grief,” he said.

One of the officers wearing the headlamps placed a hand on the journalist’s shoulder.

“Be glad it was just water!” he said. “If it really had been an H-man, you would have been melted down where you stood!”

The journalist chuckled nervously, and Isamu smiled. A brief breath of levity helped to give the team an extra shot of energy.

Some time passed, with no news, no apparent sign of the monsters anywhere. One of the Geiger men passed on the word to the chief.

“All units have reported in, sir,” he said. “Still not a single glimpse of the H-men.”

“Is that so,” said the chief, and while there was a hint of relief in his words, it was tinged with the steel of tension of incoming doom.

The team continued walking, down one tunnel after another, boots still noisily splashing away. They hit their targets, turned at the assigned times, walked past gushing drains, but there was no apparent danger. No monsters seemed to lurk in the dank, rank darkness.

The sound of their footsteps echoed through the tunnels. They were about a hundred fifty feet away from an active drain straight ahead, but they didn’t see anything unusual yet.

“Any time would be a good time for them to show up,” Isamu said in a hushed voice.

“You don’t suppose they noticed we were coming and made a run for it?” asked the chief.

“Sh! Quiet!” barked Isamu.

“What is it?” asked the chief.

As the chief stopped speaking, and as everyone came to a halt, silence fell over the crowd. They could hear droplets falling. The sound of water moving. And something else…

“Can’t you hear that?” asked Isamu. “It’s your counter!”

Isamu was right. The chief’s counter was going off, though its chirps were quiet chitterings, on the edge of perceptibility.

“I can just barely,” said the chief, and they locked eyes for a moment. A shiver ran up their spines.

Isamu turned to the others gathered there.

“Let’s be extra careful here on,” he said. “They are nearby.”

“Quite so,” said the chief.

They kept moving, slower now, deliberately, their ears pricked at an even higher tension.

Chapter 8: The Sewer

“It’s getting stronger, step by step,” said one of the Geiger men.

The Geiger counters squealed, playing on the nerves of everyone in the tunnel. Not a man could concentrate, their nerves flayed. But nothing appeared. Nothing seemed to be moving in the water or along the sides of the tunnels.

The Geiger man furthest ahead turned, looked back with a puzzled expression.

“It’s getting weaker up here, chief,’ he said.

“How strange,” said the chief. “Any idea what’s going on, Isamu?”

“No idea,” he said.

One of the journalists jerked—the same one who had screamed earlier. This time he pointed at something up in the darkness, and yelled out a warning.

“There! Look there!” he shouted. “Look right up there!”

It came from the ceiling, hanging off, swinging down, black ooze warping into the shape of a massive face, ready to swallow up the chief inspector. The chief screamed, the monster was nearly on him in a second.

“Watch out!”

Just as it almost touched him, Isamu bodyslammed his friend, sending the chief to the floor. Then, as the chief fell to the floor, Isamu pivoted, swinging the special light beam into place, turning it on.

The light beam dazzled the eyes, twinkling, burning, catching the H-man in its shimmering rays. The thing came for Isamu at first, ooze reaching out for him, and for a moment it seemed Isamu was done for. But then the radioactive slop recoiled, pulled into itself, and summarily exploded into harmless mulch.

Chapter 8: Sewer Attack

The chief put an arm around Isamu’s shoulder.

“Isamu, thanks to you, I am still breathing,” he said.

“Striking from above,” said Isamu. “From places we would never expect. We can’t let our attention slip a millimeter.”

“Chief inspector,” cried one of the Geiger men, gesturing towards a dark figure clinging to the wall, moving swiftly away. “An H-man on the run over here!”

Two more officers also called out, as a dark mud man rose from the water.

“Ah! There’s another one here!”

One of the men equipped with the special light ray stepped forward, gripping the light in his right hand, a Geiger in his left, a look of smug confidence on his face.

“Hokey dokey, let’s roast these guys!” he said.

“Wait,” said the chief. “Don’t get hasty! We have them trapped like rats in a bag! We don’t have to rush things now. The important thing is to make sure we exterminate all of them without missing any or letting a slime get away. Don’t forget it!”

The men bearing the special lights cooled down, and they proceeded together. The H-men from before had already disappeared, but they just needed to follow the Geiger chirps to find where the next monster was hiding in the shadows. The chief’s counter squawked noisily, and he grinned.

“Look there,” he said. “It’s calling out to us. Looks like there is something in that crack in the wall!”

The chief turned the counter towards the disturbance, and sure enough, from the crack, dark ichor started to ooze free.

“There it is, coming out!” he said in a rush of excitement.

Isamu didn’t say a word, just flicked on the special light beam. The glittering, powerful beam caught the slime in its focus, and moments later it burst into nothing.

The chief turned to Isamu and the others.

“If all the rest of these guys are like that, we’ll be erasing the rests of the H-men in no time,” he said. “They will be forming into nothing!”

One of the officers made a startled noise.

“Oh, what’s that?” he said. “Over there, seems like I can see a light of some kind.”

An officer on wireless stepped forward from the dark, chattering into his device. The other team relaxed.

“That’s Prof. Maki’s team,” he said. “They already destroyed five H-men!”

The professor’s team called out to them through the darkness.

“Oi! We found the nest of the H-men!”

It did not take long for the chief’s team to close the distance to Prof. Maki’s team, and when they did, the professor was almost dancing with excitement.

“Good grief, professor, I’ve never seen you so stoked!” said the chief.

The professor smiled grimly.

“It’s the end of the H-men,” he said. “Look just over there.”

The professor pointed. Out of the darkness a horde of oozing black monsters staggered forward. Their faces could be seen in the light of the lamps, their expressions blank, almost sad as they lined up.

“Ooohhh,” said the chief.

“If we strike this area, we will eliminate the rest of them in one fell swoop!” declared the professor.

Chapter 8: H-Man Army

They turned on the lights, the beams shot out. The H-men were caught in the shimmering, blazing light. Some of them quailed, turning away, raising muddy arms to shield themselves from the burning onslaught. The beams of light seemed to release particles that entered into the crowd of monsters, creating a building, explosive chemical reaction.

Together, almost simultaneously, the crowd of slime men standing in the open sewer popped and exploded like balloons of decayed viscera. Their bodies disintegrated into harmless splotches that spread and splattered on the walls, into the water, floating, bobbing. In an instant, all of them were gone.

“It’s over,” said Isamu in a solemn voice.

“Yep,” said the chief.

“We have succeeded in eliminating the H-men menace,” said the professor. “This suffering, this terror, is something that humanity invited upon itself with their own hand. I wonder, does humanity want to ever bring about such a horror on ourselves again…?”

Chapter 8: The End
The end

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