The city was suddenly plunged into darkness as their electricity vanished. Screams of fear and anger rang out. Black smoke from fiery accidents roiled up the sky.
I leaped on top of a tall building and peered down on the 7th research center. As I expected, they’d switched to their indoor generators. Still, it seemed their generators weren’t as powerful as the 4th’s, as the number of drones had visibly decreased. The soldiers on guard against possible attacks were now running around in a hurry.
Their main equipment and computers seemed to have already been disconnected from the network as a countermeasure against hacking. Looked like they’d learned from the 4th. I think I could still hack them directly if I used [Dimensional Manipulation], but I wasn’t used to the new skill yet. Doing anything that required accuracy was still difficult.
But, well, if I was going to test my [Dimensional Manipulation], I might as well try out another new ‘ability’.
I aimed my palm at the roof of the 7th research center building, focusing my eyes, and used my new skill to create a dimensional warp at the target.
I vanished from the roof of the tall building with a fwip of rushing air—
—and teleported onto the roof of the 7th research center, my feet about 30 centimeters above it. I tucked into a forward roll, only barely saving myself from tripping, and moved into cover.
This was… somewhat difficult to use. It was the first time I ever tried ‘spatial teleportation’. I was constantly using my mist to sense my surroundings, so the sudden change had disoriented me.
I was limited to only locations I could see, and just a jump of several hundreds meters already ate up five thousand of my magic. Maybe it’d get better if I had more practice with it.
Oh well, no point worrying about it. I’d practice my teleportation once I got back to Yggdrasia.
Alright, focus. I moved toward the roof entrance, my attention on any possible cameras. With the evolution of my Cyber-Manipulation, I was quite sure I now no longer showed up on digital cameras, but analog ones would still see me. Also, I always felt strangely uncomfortable whenever I was in front of the lens, perhaps a legacy of the times I was still a human… I wondered if it was just me?
I unlocked three digital locks and entered the research center. Through the door was a stairwell that doubled as an emergency exit. There were security cameras, but not that many. They had a 180 degrees field of vision, but only around half of it would actually show up on the terminal screens, while the rest were just motion sensors. I could just ignore them. Probably.
I reduced my weight to the minimum necessary, then leveraged my inhuman capabilities to drop all the way down to the ground floor.
The floors upstairs were where the normal employees were. I left them alone. The 12th research center, which was a high-rise building in the middle of downtown, had all its important equipment high up. On the other hand, the 4th research center, which had an arsenal of experimental weapons, instead placed their crucial equipment deep below ground, perhaps to avoid losing them to bombing attacks. Most of the high-ranked researchers working with them were also located nearby.
This place was architecturally closer to the 4th, so my plan was to raid them from below with the assumption that their important facilities were also underground.
But this stairwell only went to the first underground floor. If this place was the same as the 4th, then my only choice was to use the dedicated elevator to go underground.
“Before that, though…”
The underground generators and computers were carefully air-gapped, so I couldn’t deal with them directly yet, but I could still hack the aboveground equipment to disable their satellite communication.
I entered the first underground floor from the stairwell and headed toward the elevator that would bring me to the bottom.
There were almost no researchers or staff members around. Instead, there were soldiers patrolling in two-man teams, all of them fully equipped with night and infrared-vision masks and more.
…should I tell them digital equipment wouldn’t see me? I readied my straight sword and combat knife, silently sneaking up to a pair of soldiers. I waited until they went into a camera blindspot and stabbed deep into their necks, killing the two at the same time.
I froze and disintegrated the spilled blood and jammed the two corpses into the corner of a nearby room. Then I immediately left to deal with the next soldiers, one pair after another.
Where was the elevator? If it turned out the place didn’t have an underground after I’d done all this, I was going to sulk.
I just had an idea. I picked up a mobile device from one of the soldiers I’d disabled. As I expected, it had a map of this floor. So that’s where it was…
I slowly moved toward an unmarked door, disabling any soldiers I met on the way, and entered the room. I headed to the back and touched a blank wall, revealing the disguised elevator.
Of course, I didn’t just press the elevator call button like an idiot. I quietly forced the doors open and went into the shaft, dropping to the bottom. It was the sixth underground floor, it seemed. The second to the fifth underground floors didn’t hold any facilities. They looked to be nothing more than the foundation for the aboveground building.
It would have been a scene straight out of a comedy if the elevator was coming at that exact moment. Thankfully, it was still staying on the bottom floor.
I lifted up the elevator box with one hand, the other gently forcing open the door to the bottom floor. There was a soldier standing guard there, wearing some seriously bulky equipment.
I let out some mist to check out the area. There really was just the single soldier. Was that thing covering them a sort of power armor? I didn’t know how much confidence they had in their armor, but it was true that with it on, I’d have a more difficult time stabbing them with the blades I had on hand.
I could tear them apart with my claws, but I didn’t think I needed to.
I slipped through the elevator door gap as mist, flicking myself to directly above their head. I turned human behind them, twisting their neck 180 degrees, killing them.
The alarm suddenly sounded.
I took a closer look to see if there’d been anything on their armor that could have done it. It turned out it wasn’t on their armor, it was the soldier themself.
Motes of light slipped from the gaps in the armor, and the empty hunk of metal slumped on the ground.
The manaless avatars usable on Earth could only exert 70% the physical capabilities of a normal person, no matter who was driving it. It had been the reason why they’d been researching mana to develop a military-capable avatar, and it was also why I didn’t expect them to use avatars here… aaah, I see. That’s what the power armor was for.
They must have decided to use electricity instead of wasting mana. Maybe the reason why I felt like this place was generating less power was because they were using it in their power armor.
As I busied myself in my thoughts, soldiers equipped from head to toes ran toward me from the other end of the corridor.
“No digital equipment! Aim with your eyes!”
“—target confirmed! It’s the bunny girl! No. 13!”
“Shit! The damned demon’s come here again!”
‘Demon’, I see… I was indeed one, but it sounded less like they knew what I was and more like someone devout was just cursing me.
The soldiers fired their magic assault rifles, filling the hallway with enchanted bullets. Magic weapons might have been able to hurt me the last time I came here with just ten thousand combat power, but now? It just felt like they were throwing peas at me.
Anyway, so I’d been so careful to keep my identity hidden, but I never expected I’d be revealed like this. It was honestly a bit depressing.
Fine then. I thought it was about time anyway. I’d cut their communication, so it’d probably take a bit of time before the information spread, I thought, trying to console myself.
I didn’t need to hold back any longer. I blew mist of extreme cold at them, freezing the bullets that filled the hallway and the soldiers all at once.
“So it is her…”
Audrey, the current Deputy Director of the 7th research center, muttered as she heard the soldier’s report. The terrible hunch she’d had had become reality. Audrey rubbed her forehead, trying to dislodge the slight headache she’d gotten.
No. 13. The girl of white who’d entered a new world with a monster avatar, fighting even until the last moments of her life, and at the end, becoming a true monster. She had come back for her vengeance.
At that time, she had called herself a Demon. In fear and in shock, Audrey had reported the girl’s words to her superiors, but they and the government had taken it as nothing more than the ramblings of a mad girl, saying it was “just a religious declaration of ‘evil’”. They had given the order to all the research centers to capture her and investigate her ability. They only saw her as an esper with the ability to cross between worlds, no more.
But the girl was no simple esper. She might as well be a real demon with the power she held.
Audrey had also reported the mass murders and the battles between the girl and the militarized monster avatars, yet the top brass only waved it off as the natural happenings of another world. They still thought it was someone else’s problem. They didn’t see the danger.
“Deputy Director! We’ve lost contact with the fourth to the seventh sections!”
“No signal from the soldiers at the ninth!”
“The main power plant had fallen! Switching to reserve power!”
“Efficiency of life support system dropping from low temperature!”
“A part of the data server is not responding!”
The staff members’ fearful reports rang out, painting a terrible picture.
The girl hadn’t shown herself until now. But Audrey knew that what happened was in the capability of No. 13 if the girl got serious. The control room where Audrey was only had two flesh-and-blood soldiers as guards, four staff members, and herself. If the reports were correct, and if this control room fell before the girl, then all the military data about mana would be virtually wiped out.
The only thing left would be the data about the 12th’s player avatars that were capable of growth by consuming mana, as well as the small amount of magical weaponry that had been manufactured and given over to the army. The militarized monster avatars, still in the middle of development, and the knowledge of their applications on Earth would be gone forever, buried in the darkness of this vault.
Something hit the titanium steel door with a hefty, metallic clang! The impact repeated several times, and mist blew in through the cracks. In scant moments, the fog transformed into the shape of a person. Stood there was a girl of white with rabbit ears. No. 13.
“Keep her away!”
“Hold the line! Hold the fucking line!”
The two soldiers aimed their magical assault rifles. The staff members, minds muddled by fear, pulled out their handguns.
Audrey shouted before she could even think. She knew they could do nothing to the girl.
Yet before her warning could reach them, the hail of bullets was already loose. No. 13 squeezed her hand, and blood poured out of every single inch of the bodies of everyone holding a gun. They collapsed in pools of crimson.
Audrey was the only survivor. She whimpered. Her legs gave out.
No. 13 tilted her head at the sight of the woman, rabbit ears flopping. Realization flashed across her face.
“Aah, it’s you. Long time no see.”
The girl sounded as if she was just meeting an acquaintance by happenstance.
What the hell are you saying with so much blood on your hands?! Audrey thought. Strength, or at least something resembling anger, returned to her heart.
“YOU! Do you not feel anything, killing so many?!”
No. 13 only narrowed her eyes a fraction. “I suppose it’s not exactly fun killing animals I’m not eating…” she replied, sounding as if she was just hunting deers or ducks.
“A-animals…?” Audrey said, dumbfounded. Then she shouted, her voice reverberating in the room, “Do you truly feel nothing?! They had parents! They had families they loved!”
Shedy silently approached the sitting woman, looking down on her with frosty eyes.
“Loving families? What’s that? Parents? Mine kicked me for being an eyesore. Did you know they’d tried to choke me to death?”
Words failed Audrey. She thought she could hear those scarlet eyes saying something.
—Are they not humans?—
Audrey had read her files. She’d known her family situation. She even knew of the rumors that the adults in the facility were mistreating her.
But it was the first time she truly realized that the girl in front of her, No. 13, had not received a single bit of love ever since she was born.
She understood now, how heavy the sin of mankind was, that they had created the demon in front of her.
“I only care about my ninety-nine comrades, and… well, whatever. By the way, would you mind telling me where the military base that got the data is? I won’t kill you if you do.”
After No. 13 got what she wanted from Audrey and destroyed the data stored at the 7th research center, the girl vanished as if melting into the darkness. Until several days later when Audrey was rescued, the woman could do nothing beside sitting there with knees hugged, her head hung low.
A/N: Shedy already no longer cares a whit about the people who used to be her parents. Or to be more precise, ever since she’d stopped being a human and started being a demon, she’d been absolutely apathetic about them.
What she currently cares about are mourning the 99 secret alpha testers, and the few kins she has. And a certain ‘Promise’ she has too, but it’s getting into spoiler territory about the end.