We were at an electric stand on the highway, waiting for the car to charge, and I was moping around in my usual outfit of a parka and denim skirt. Jennifer, the self-proclaimed Dark Lady worshipper, was fidgeting in restlessness. She waved her smartphone in front of my eyes.
“Hey, Shedy, can I go on the internet already? Pleaaase?”
“…as long as you don’t talk about me.”
She’d been trying her best to stop herself from telling everyone about me, apparently, and it was about time for her internet addiction to relapse.
She started speaking in a hurry, trying to defend herself. “B-but our server’s locked super tight! Even my company’s intelligence division can’t get into it! And everyone in the group already knew that world’s real!”
“…what?” That was surprising. I looked at her, and Jennifer puffed up her modest chest in pride.
“Our group already thought that world was too suspicious in the first place. Too real, you know? We started to look around, and once I recovered a deleted log in my company, we found out the truth! Amazing, right?!”
So she actually managed to figure it out by herself. So talented, yet her personality’s so disappointing…
Anyway, it wouldn’t be good if anyone else knew about Yggdrasia. Had she even given any thought about the reason why that corporation would want to be secretive about what might as well be the greatest discovery of this era?
The corporation might still not be able to travel there yet, but they had a new form of energy called ‘mana’ and the technology to make use of it. They’d only been applying it in a military context in the form of magitools, but if information spread, sooner or later this world might be able to use magic too.
Offensive spells allowed you to destroy vehicles with your bare hands, and healing spells could regenerate lost limbs in a blink of an eye. If people here knew how to use them, they would turn into a swarm of locusts to devour Yggdrasia’s mana dozens of times faster than they were doing at the moment.
Currently, only a single country was hoarding the information, so there was no real chaos in Yggdrasia or here, and I could still deal with the problem quietly.
But if the knowledge spread throughout the world and they got ready for an invasion… then I would destroy the civilization of Earth, genocide or not.
“…Shedy…? It’s getting kind of… cold…”
“Really? Anyway, mind telling me who knows about it?”
I let loose some coldness and demonic presence and shot her a glance of crimson eyes. Jennifer twitched and stood ramrod straight.
“No, nonono, please don’t kill them! There are some middle-eastern royalty and some serious celebrities in there too!”
And then she just blurted out their names and so much more information in her panic.
“No one will know.”
“Oh, fine… Jennifer, you tell them that whoever leak the secret is going to get their whole country wiped off the map.”
Her face twitched, herself remembering the tragedy that had happened to the 7th research center. This should be enough for the time being.
“What are you going to do online?”
“Umm… I haven’t logged in Yggdrasia for a while, and I wanted to check out the news too. Let’s see… there it goes.”
“You can log in with that phone?”
“Aaah, no, no full-diving into your avatar, but you can use the VR forum and a few other things when logged in.”
“Hmm… can I borrow your ID?”
“Eh? Um, yes, but why…?”
She tilted her head in puzzlement but still gave me her phone.
Generally, logging in with a personal account required biometric authentication, so no one else could do it aside from the account owner themselves. Not a problem for me, though. I took out my prepaid phone, tapping it against Jennifer’s to copy her ID, and logged in in incognito mode with my [Cyber-Manipulation]. At the same time, I also restored the user ID of No. 13 that I had once used and had since been deleted.
In incognito mode, I browsed through the historical records of the forum Jennifer talked about, gathering a few glimpses into the situation of the other world.
Dark pixies? What are those? Apparently they’re really making a mess of the human countries right now. No one knew what they were? Didn’t look like an official game event. They seemed a bit different from militarized avatars.
And one of the Heroes was missing? If it was that weirdo, then I hoped he’s actually dead.
A strange ringing sound rang out. Some sort of icon appeared in a corner of my vision. This was… a mail? Why? How? I checked the sender, but there was no text, only a symbol that looked like a tree.
…the World Tree?!
The mail automatically opened, and I instantly logged out. In front of me, in front of my real body, there floated two white magic stones.
Were these the Saplings’ magic stones? The moment the thought passed through my mind, they flew inside me and were absorbed. I immediately felt more powerful.
[Shedy] [Race: Bunny Girl] [Archdemon Lv. 23] ・The rabbit demon of Laplace. Trickster and guide of man’s fate. [Magic Points: 81,300/91,000] 6,000 ↑ [Total Combat Power: 90,400/100,100] 6,600 ↑ [Unique Skill: <Causality Alteration> <Dimensional Manipulation> <Absorption> <Materialization>] [Racial Skill: <Fear> <Mist Form>] [Simple Identification] [Human Form (Wonderful)] [Subspace Inventory] [Dark Lady]
It’s the real deal. They were exactly the white magic stones that I received whenever the soul of a secret alpha tester transformed into a new World Tree Sapling. And not only that, No. 01’s Cyber-Manipulation even evolved?
It seemed the newly evolved skill was no longer restricted to only cyberspace. I think I could now use it on real space, too.
But what happened? Did somebody other than me destroy an existing Sapling? I thought the demihuman resistance still hadn’t had that much power yet, but maybe they could handle a small rural country.
This was the proof of their resolve. They were the one to have allowed the humans to go so far, after all. If the demihumans had made their decision, then it wouldn’t be my place to say anything.
But, well, I never thought the World Tree would use the connection to me to send the magic stones all the way to Earth. The Tree was more skilled than I imagined.
“No, nothing.” Jennifer looked puzzled at my answer. I gave her a faint smile. “Anyway, it’s about time we should leave.”
We got on her fully-charged car.
The magic stones were a nice surprise boost to my power, and I got more magic to play with now. Maybe I could even splurge a little bit and test out my new ability.
I leaned out the car window, my hand aiming at a highway camera that was staring at us, and I squeezed.
The 12th research center had been the location housing the internet department, and there, a terrorist had murdered all members of the security team without leaving a trace. They were nicknamed the Ghost.
At first, the incident was believed to have been industrial espionage done by a rival company or a special task force of a foreign country. The 4th research center was supposed to have tightened their security in response, and yet even the compound fell victim to the Ghost who had once more left no traces. Beginning with Deputy Director Jace, who’d been the on-site supervisor, two hundred thirty eight main researchers and eighteen ex-mercenaries serving as security guards had been killed.
At the same time, fifty soldiers on-loan from the army had gone missing. The group was formed from elite soldiers, with the majority of them having once suffered damage to their psyches from a previous mistake by the corporation (the ‘Madness of Brian’ incident, in which the corporation was forced to pay six million dollars to the army as reparations), plus a few new members to supplement the team before the elite group returned to their duty. There were no records of them having left the compound, and so the army was suspecting the corporation of human experiments.
The researcher casualties were also a large setback, but not as much as the complete destruction of research data stored in an air-gapped supercomputer and the supercomputer itself. The facility doing experimental work on magical weapons was also reduced to rubble. Total loss was over twelve billion dollars. It was a heavy blow to the corporation.
As a result of the incidents, the government and corporation now assumed the Ghost’s goal to be information about ‘the other world’ and ‘mana’. They further ramped up security, their main targets being any travelers from the east. They returned the magical weapon project back to the 7th research center, where previous research data still remained, and special forces of the army were now deployed as security guards.
At the same time, the internal intelligence department of the corporation was also surveilling over three-thousand two-hundred of its staff members who were showing suspicious activities. The surveillance was done 24/7 with the use of security cameras all over the country. But one day, all of the department’s computers, including the mainframe, had suffered an external hacking attempt. Overvoltage damage had rendered them unusable, resulting in the loss of thirty years’ worth of the suspect database and surveillance data.
“Shedy, we’re nearly there! Let’s go let’s go!”
“…so we are.”
It was several days after. We arrived at the state housing the 7th research center. It wasn’t really all that far away, but security checkpoints and police pullovers had gotten a lot more frequent, which ate up a lot of our travel time.
I supposed it was about time I leave Jennifer… If anything, I should have cut ties with her ever since I acquired my Dimensional Manipulation and deleted the data implicating her.
“Alright, that’s far enough. Thanks for the ride.”
“What?! No! I’ll go with you until the end! Of course, I’ll help you in Yggdrasia too as a member of the Dark Army…” she said, rushing, trying to get her words out as fast as she could.
“Jennifer.” I interrupted her, turning my voice a fraction harsher.
She wasn’t aware of how much danger she was in. The government and the corporation had been suppressing media reports, but there had been many deaths at the 4th research center. And this place would be the same. Many more would die.
And even if she knew Yggdrasia still existed, somewhere inside of her, she still believed it was just an extension of a game.
“In Yggdrasia… in that other world, the human race is stealing magic power from the Saplings without limits. It was why the balance of the world was collapsing.”
“Eh…? I-isn’t that really bad…?”
“It is. It’s why I’ve been destroying the Saplings that the humans were using as undeserved sources of mana. I do it because I know no other way.”
“Then that world will be fine, right? That’s good…” Jennifer sighed in relief, her expression brightened. She had her own attachment to that world, I was sure.
I continued, my voice low.
“Yes, I’ll save that world. Even if I have to sacrifice every single human there.”
She gaped, seemingly not yet registering what I said.
“I’ve destroyed about twenty Saplings over there. Millions have died by my actions, and many more will. Perhaps tens of millions, even.”
Imagine a modern city of Earth. Then imagine it suddenly losing all its electricity and petroleum, and starving carnivorous dinosaurs were being released in limitless number. How many people would survive?
“That world is no game. Do you understand?”
I reminded her of the reality of Yggdrasia. Jennifer went pale, her head hung low.
That’s what it meant to be on the side of the Dark Lady. On the side of the Evil of the world.
“You should stay on the side of humans,” I said, “…goodbye.”
I walked past her, our backs turned against each other, and I ran toward the 7th research center.
No one else needed to stain their hands with blood aside from me. The Dark Lady, the Demon.
Jennifer understood my words. She stayed root at the spot, head still low, until I could no longer see her.
“…well then, let’s get started.”
The day turned to night. In the distance were rows of high-rise buildings. The lights of the town blinked on.
In the center of it was a large compound, a gaping space within the forest of concrete, as if someone had scooped off all the tall buildings there. The corporation’s 7th research center. The place that had killed me and the secret alpha testers.
As I expected with the messes I’d made, there was ludicrous security. I already saw innumerable drones just from afar, and there were people patrolling the place who looked obviously military.
I could just rely on the power of an archdemon to force my way in. Or I could do this another way.
I activated [Causality Alteration] and [Dimensional Manipulation] at the same time. I stretched my right hand toward the city and gently squeezed.
All the lights I could see vanished from the streets, plunging the city into darkness.
A/N: So which faction destroyed those Saplings? Actually, as long as the castle barrier falls, the World Tree itself can eliminate the Sapling.
A belated map update.