I walked through the town of night, fiddling with the ID card I appropriated from the men in the subway.
I connected the card to my smartphone and used [Cyber-Manipulation] to read the info. The man was working in the material storage department. Hmmm… not quite what I was looking for. He looked muscular so I had thought he was one of the guards. If he was just a warehouse worker, there weren’t going to be many places I could get in with his card.
And that wasn’t my only problem. Once he noticed his ID card was gone and sent in a report, the card’s going to lose all of its functions.
But I didn’t think it was going to be that much of a problem. Further investigations revealed that reissuing cards would cost quite a pretty penny, and the card owner would need to go directly to the issuing office to get their card. Most people would probably go search for them first and only request card lockage once they were certain it was lost forever, right?
He just needed his mobile device to buy things, so I was thinking I’d probably have about half a day before I needed to worry about it… anyway, if things went wrong, I’d just make something up as I went along.
Besides, I could probably manage something about the card’s privileges too.
“…the 12th research center.”
It was inside a fifteen-story building in a semi-industrial district some distance away from the subway station. Or to be more precise, apparently the whole building was the 12th research center.
The 12th’s purpose within the corporation was to hold the developer department of the game World of Yggdrasia. At the very least, they seemed much more likely to be aware Yggdrasia was a real world compared to the other departments, so there was no need for me to hesitate. Not like I intended to, anyway.
I checked for any patrolling watcher drones nearby. I used my Skill to look through the cameras, then weaved through their blind spots to dash into the underground parking lot. I got in.
I might be able to handle the city’s cameras, but I had no confidence I could use my Skill to completely fool the cameras of a place that took security as serious as this, so I just focused on moving through their blind spots. I went around behind the guard standing alone in front of the door, who obviously looked like he’d had experience in the army. I cut his throat with a quick swipe of my knife.
Had he been a mercenary before? He was unconsciously standing in a location where he wouldn’t show up on the cameras.
I moved the body to a dark spot, freezing the spilled blood and vaporizing it into dust. I couldn’t use my more obvious abilities here on Earth. I didn’t want to stand out, true, but mainly I just didn’t want to use those abilities too much.
It wasn’t like Earth had no mana at all, but compared to Yggdrasia, there was way too little of it. Back there, my [Absorption] allowed me to recover thirty percent of my magic each hour. Here, I could only recover a single percent after three days.
I’d already spent close to thirty thousand magic points just to come here. While I still had fifty thousand left, if I froze and demolished the entire building and then it turned out it wasn’t my target, no amount of mana could last me the entire trip.
Still, if I directly absorbed people’s lifeforce with my hands instead of using my cold mist, then while people here didn’t have magic, their souls would still refill a tiny bit of my own magic pool.
Honestly, while I had no personal grudges with these guys, my impression of the corporation wasn’t so good that I’d bother picking and choosing who to spare in a pack of beasts that had bore their fangs against me. If anything, I hadn’t even a single positive emotion to associate with them. They’d understand if I didn’t bother to discriminate.
I held up the ID card and the staff door opened. That was a relief. I didn’t really think they would actually put up eye scanners here anyway, but I still worried a bit.
There were more cameras ahead. Before the door completely opened, I slipped into a blind spot, then removed my weight and clung to the ceiling.
Two guards came out to check the door when they saw no one on the security monitors. Before they came into camera view, I threw my foldable knives into their foreheads, using [Causality Alteration] to make sure they killed them.
They made a bit of noise when they fell down, but no other guards came.
I floated my mist around a bit to check for signs of living people. There was only one person sleeping in the nap room that was in the back of the security room, so I sent them into a more permanent sleep and threw the two dead guards in there.
It had been two minutes since I infiltrated the place. Even if I’d had a bit of real combat training in Yggdrasia, considering how I was just a normal human kid in the beginning, I’d say I did pretty well.
…but there was nothing demonic about what I was doing, at all. More like a job for the special forces, or maybe an assassin.
“This place, right?”
Cutting the cameras would be too suspicious, obviously, though I did cut the alarm. I edited the camera footage just in case, but even in the small chance something still showed up on camera, it shouldn’t be able to reach headquarters.
I checked the screens in the security room. Looked like the lower floors were offices, warehouses, and document storage, while the main office for the developer department and the laboratories were on the upper floors.
I threw the ID card I used into the lost-and-found bin and took an ID card from one of the guards, putting it in my pocket.
I forced the elevator doors open and climbed up the shaft. Midway through, I stopped to check for presence of people. There was no one on the lower floors, while I sensed a few life signals on the upper floors.
From inside the elevator shaft, I used [Cyber-Manipulation] to check the cameras. I found a security room and a few guards on the upper floors, so I headed there first.
That was close. If I’d cut the cameras below, they’d totally be on alert by now.
From where the cameras were placed, I wasn’t sure if I could get there without being seen. So I used Cyber-Manipulation to force static into the monitors for a single moment and used the chance to dash inside the security room.
I threw the machete-ish combat knife at the one who noticed me first. It stabbed into his face, killing him instantly.
Another guard ran for the alarm, while the remaining two reached for the guns on their hips.
Just as one of them was about to raise his voice, I crouched and swiped his legs out with my own, while my hand threw three foldable knives toward the head of the young man running for the alarm. Before I could see the result of my throw, I slammed my elbow into the throat of the man I tripped, crushing his windpipe.
“Who the he-!!!”
As the final man aimed his gun, I cut off his hand with my straight sword and stabbed his throat before he could scream. The man trying to ring the alarm was already dead, my three knives stuck in the back of his head.
It would have been simpler if I just froze them with my mist, but then they might realize it was me. So I’d used weapons, just in case.
I took back my knives, freezing the blood and fat on them and wiped them off. I cut the alarm and headed for the server room for the MMORPG World of Yggdrasia.
I used Cyber-Manipulation on one of the servers. It held nothing but player data.
I was quite certain this was where they did the overall management of the players they were sending to Yggdrasia, but there was no sign of anything resembling the all-important monster avatars.
I was sure they were being sent from here. Perhaps this was just a layover spot, and the main system of the militarized avatars were somewhere else?
There was a more fundamental question here. While this was a building with a whole fifteen floors, was a facility of this size even enough to bridge the gap between dimensions? What if the dimensional-crossing system were also set up in the other locations on my list of suspects, the 4th and the 7th research centers?
In which case, perhaps this facility really was only used for connecting the game to the other world. What should I do…
“Maybe I should just destroy it.”
I looked at the supercomputer that took up a whole floor in front of me, wondering how I’d do this. Then my rabbit ears picked up a faint noise.
“Mmm? Is somebody there?”
It was the sleepy voice of a woman. I knew there were other people beside the guards on the upper floors, but I’d left them alone, thinking them to be harmless since they were just doing their job.
The habits from when I used to be a human drove me to an unwitting sigh, despite my lack of need for respiration.
Fine then. If I was discovered, then I had no choice. There was a bit of distance between us, and I didn’t want to waste more magic than necessary, so I slightly released the lid on my presence and quietly turned around.
The woman held not a single bit of wariness at the sight of me, looking like a high-school girl in a white parka and denim short skirt, even if she was feeling somewhat suspicious. Then the little bit of presence I released took her by surprise. She gasped, her face twitching fiercely.
I pulled my guardless straight sword, its length about 40 centimeters, from its black-lacquered scabbard. I silently closed our distance. The redhead woman, who looked to be in her mid-twenties and was wearing a white lab coat and a pair of glasses, was shocked silent. She sank to the floor, apparently too scared to even stand.
Thank you. You’re a nice person. You didn’t scream or run. Saved me a bit of magic.
I looked down on her and put on a smile. Her eyes were opening so wide they looked like they’d fall out at any moment.
“…the Dark Bunny Lady…?”
The hell is that? I knew I was called the Dark Lady, but Dark Bunny Lady? What were they thinking?
Her words were so out of left field I couldn’t help but stare at her face. The rabbit ears behind my head slipped out of the hood a bit. The woman beamed.
“Aaaahh, it’s really you! I can’t believe I’m actually meeting the Lady Bunny here! This is the best day of my life! Do you know I’ve filled my room with posters of you so that you’d bless me with your visage every day—ow that’s cold!”
I blew a bit of mist at her, interrupting her impassioned word vomit. She shivered as if someone had just poured ice water on her.
Her name was Jennifer. She wasn’t exactly a researcher of the 12th research center, but rather one of the people managing the game.
Jennifer had also personally joined the MMORPG World of Yggdrasia as a player. She knew about how the other world was real, and how I had come back to Earth and killed a facility’s staff members.
But she still loved the idea of a real-life Dark Lady. Apparently she’d bought every single kind of promotional goods related to me.
She was also the person who’d developed the backdoor program to log into Yggdrasia. She’d been gathering similarly-minded people who used monster avatars and finding a way to contact me. She pleaded with me not to destroy this facility since they were only working on the game and nothing else, and if the place was gone, she wouldn’t be able to join the game anymore.
“I see… any other last words?”
“W-waitwaitwaitwaitpleasewait! I can be useful to you, my Lady, even here or on the other side too! You have something to do here, right?! I’ll help!”
Jennifer stared at me with sparkling eyes. I scowled, but took some time to think.
True, if I had someone aware of the inner workings of the corporation to help, it’d save me some unnecessary trouble. But if an employee went missing on the day right after such a huge mess, they might be able to follow me by tracking her.
Oh well, I could just erase her if she turned out to be more trouble than she was worth.
“They might suspect you, you know?”
“It’s fine! It’s already time for me to leave work today, and I’ll be taking a vacation starting from tomorrow! If anything happens, I’ll tell them I got kidnapped by the Dark Lady!”
I didn’t think the corporation was that naive anway, but well, if she’s willing.
After that, after Jennifer finished her weird performance in the security room devoid of any other people and clocked out for the day, we left for the underground parking lot and got into her second-hand car. The two of us headed for my next destination: the 4th research center.