Dozens of fighter aircrafts flew toward me. This country’s military, I supposed.
I sent them a warning-slash-threat in the Divine Language, but it did nothing more than send them into a few seconds of inactivity before their assault resumed.
I flew, breaking the sound barrier and with a wave of my hand, freezing and bringing down the rain of missiles. My palm faced toward the fighters.
I’d given my warning. I wasn’t very excited to kill them when they hadn’t attacked me out of hatred, but neither did I have the time to shoot them down gently enough to let them escape with their lives. Earth wasn’t Yggdrasia. There was no World Tree here to save their souls. I closed my eyes for a second to pray for them, and I slowly clenched my hand.
The fighters’ cockpits were instantly painted red from the inside. The majority of the aircrafts continued streaking past me, their speed unchanged, and they plowed into the distant ground.
They were all soldiers. Over the past ten-odd years, they’d had many, many wounds from training and combat, and I expected some of them had even died instantly when I activated my ability. How ironic… the more they’d hurt and killed for their country, the higher their likelihood of death.
While I might pray for their passing, that didn’t mean I’d start feeling merciful now, of all times.
I was the Goddess of Yggdrasia, not Earth. I would save this planet, the planet where I was born, but I had no plans to save the people on it. I was a koujin, after all.
“Stop throwing yourselves at me!”
Despite their losses, there were still fighters several kilometers away who were willing to continue attacking me. I threw daggers from my inventory to take them down.
One of them, the squadron leader from the looks of it, was still unwilling to retreat even when they were the last fighter left. I cut off the aircraft’s wings, prompting the two pilots inside to escape, and I tore apart the parachute of the more strong-willed of the two of them, catching him in mid-air. He was slick with cold sweat as the man felt my strength with his own skin, but he still glared at me with all his bravado.
“All of this was caused by the ignorance of your own leaders. I had nothing to do with it.”
His language wasn’t one I spoke, but the Divine Language would let me communicate with nearly all sentient creatures.
He understood me, I was sure of it. The man in his forties who looked to be a commanding officer grimaced as my voice sounded directly in his mind, and he howled in outrage.
“Spare me the lies, White Demon! I know you! You are the demon that had attacked the country to the west and murdered tens of thousands! The higher-ups told me it was you that was the cause of this disaster, and even our neighboring country and the nation to the west told us you were to blame for their losses! No matter how much of a monster you might be, you won’t be able to stand against the whole world—”
“…right, I got it.”
I see, further questioning would be useless. I released my hold, and the man’s screams faded off as he fell faster and faster. My cold gaze stayed on him as I let slip a whisper.
“…so this country had decided to blame me for everyone they’d done, then.”
I had thought it wouldn’t be very productive to try and convince them, but only now did I truly understand how futile communication would be. This country had bought off technicians and researchers from the West and had touched upon the ‘parallel world’ despite their insufficient understanding, and their unanticipated failure had triggered a global existential threat. They must have thought that if what had happened were to be brought to light, the nation would lose much of its credibility.
From a certain point of view, I could understand their thought process, but it was much too foolish. They thought the few percentage of the world that they saw was everything. Even when the world they lived in was in danger, they still prioritized their nation’s reputation.
I didn’t want to believe that all humans were so idiotic. Yet there was far too much of a possibility that the neighboring country, those who had committed the same mistake, would try to keep this fiction alive as well, thinking that their own reputation will be at stake if the truth about what this country had done was to be revealed.
As the situation devolved, sooner or later, the middle-eastern countries and the United Nations would get involved. The people would then try to find an outlet for their dissatisfaction and fear, and they might just turn their eyes toward me — a well-defined enemy, and an easy target to push all their responsibilities on.
Should I demolish this whole region before it came to pass, then? But how much time would it take to comb through it all? Furthermore, how much of the local nature, flora and fauna would be destroyed? Not to mention that I didn’t even know if Brian’s core was here…
If humans were truly such a foolish species…
“…then maybe I should exterminate them to protect this world.”
It was then that I noticed something approaching me. It was still far away — several hundreds… no, several thousands kilometers away. And they were coming from more than one direction.
I re-accessed the military satellite that I was still keeping a connection to. New info appeared in my mind.
…the neighboring country’s mobilizing its army? There are fleets of warships crossing the Pacific?
How? That’s too fast. It had only been a few hours since I came back to Earth. Even if they’d immediately set off then, there was no way they could have gotten so close.
“Then… had they been expecting this?”
It didn’t look like their preparations had been for my arrival, exactly. My guess was that the other countries had realized that this country was the cause of the disaster. They saw the chaos as an opportunity to further their own interests and bring in their own armies, using the disaster as a pretext. Their troops had been denied entrance by this country and had been waiting outside the border, but my appearance had given them the ‘reasonable cause’ to interfere.
There was a possibility they weren’t here to fight me, but the grey mud instead. I doubted it. They didn’t come loaded with incendiary weapons; they were equipped with what was obviously meant for human-against-human combat.
Was every country the same? Were they all people more concerned with robbing from others rather than dealing with a global threat, than the safety of their own lands?
Either way, I would still be their first target to attack, being the most obvious enemy to them. The military satellite told me their fighters had already taken off from their fleets to head straight for me. Meanwhile, this country’s air force also once again resumed their attack.
I let loose a bit of a sigh, a holdover from when I used to be human, and prepared myself to obliterate them. But just as I focused magic into my arms and got ready for interception, one of the fighters heading my way was suddenly shot through its wings. It fell.
Several flying objects showed themselves from behind the fighters and gave chase. They were far smaller than the aircrafts, yet overwhelmingly faster and more mobile. Impotent before their assault despite outnumbering them several times, the fighters began dropping like flies.
I knew this feeling…
From these flying objects, I felt mana when it should have long since disappeared from this world. In that case, were what they were using to shoot down the fighters offensive spells?
They were about five meters in length. Their pitch-black armor brought to mind the image of an insect’s carapace that had been streamlined for flight. One of them changed form into what looked like a griffon and spoke directly into my mind with a telepathic spell.
“Sorry I’m lateeeee, miss Dark Bunny Ladyyyyy!”
…was that voice Jennifer?! The former researcher of the 12th research center, the gaming addict that had declared herself a worshipper of the Dark Lady, that Jennifer? I thought she was currently working in the management team for the VRMMORPG World of Yggdrasia after it had gotten downsized? Why was she here?
The griffon flew at me like an excited dog bringing a frisbee back to its owner, all the while talking in Jennifer’s voice. I dashed forward and gripped her neck.
“Jennifer… is this one of those mana-using avatars? Is your country still doing that? Had they not listened to a single thing I said?”
I put more strength into the hand holding the griffon’s neck, cold mist emanating from me as I fixed my frosty glare at her. Jennifer frantically shook her head.
“N-n-n-no, ma’am!! I mean, this is the final MO-21 model of the mana-using militarized avatar series, but I haven’t betrayed you! And it’s not like I can anyway when you’ve made that Contract with our President!”
“Then talk. What’s going on?”
By her words, the mana-using avatar that she was using had been designed as the final model. All the research about magical weapons had been destroyed by my hands along with the research centers, but only the data about this MO-21 model was intact, having been programmed into the game as the final form of the playable monster avatars.
Jennifer and her co-workers had only discovered it about a year ago. As evolving into it required an absurd amount of magic point — four thousand — the management team had deemed the evolution impossible to acquire or even control with the current setup that they had. Removing it from the game would require a complete overhaul of the current monster avatar system, and so they’d decided to leave it alone until a solution could be found.
But once dark pixies began to appear on Yggdrasia and Earth, the management team started to consider what the players should do. It was during their talks with the leaders of Yggdrasia that ‘messengers’ of the World Tree appeared.
“…from the World Tree?”
“It’s true! The messengers looked like ghostly children. They said if the players were willing to cooperate, then they would allow us to use our monster avatars on Earth, and the avatars would be infused with enough mana to operate. They also said they wanted us to help miss Shedy.”
The Saplings… my friends, my family. They were doing this for me?
“Those messengers was amazing! They’d already understood how the avatars worked, and they helped us to evolve all our monster avatars into the MO-21 model! They’re so much smarter than me!”
My brows slightly furrowed. I think I had an idea of what happened. To have done this sort of nerdy stuff in secret, it could only have been No. 01.
I attempted to extract information from Jennifer’s Model MO-21. What I got were reports of players fighting dark pixies with their MO-21s all around the world, as well as bringing down the fighters deployed to attack me with contemptuous ease.
And that was happening when the players weren’t even trained soldiers. If the magical weapon project had been allowed to be completed, that country might have ruled the world by now.
So if the players had that many monster avatars… wait a minute…
“Jennifer, were all the MO-21s being controlled by a central system?”
“Of course! Some of our employees and a few players are military hobbyists, and they said we have to have a central control system if we’re going to be piloting these things. They even stayed up nights after—”
“Got it. Tell all the avatars to stop harassing the human armies and head for where dark pixies are appearing instead. I’ll be giving direct orders through the central control system.”
I removed my hand from Jennifer. She twirled her MO-21 in the air and gave a salute with the griffon’s front leg. Surprisingly dexterous.
“Understood! We are the Dark Army, the Bunny Lady’s Royal Guards! All ten thousand of us are now under your command, miss Shedy!”
The aerodynamic Model MO-21s danced in the skies.
People of the modern age were used to the sight of avatars being used in dangerous workplaces. However, in situations where rapid responsiveness and snap decisions were required, such as piloting a military aircraft, the human controller still needed to be present on the scene in order to maximize performance.
Yet having a human on board also meant having a human weakness.
On the other hand, the mana-using avatars had been attuning themselves with mana through actual combat in another world (albeit presented as a game), and their nervous systems had been strengthened as a result. Their performance far surpassed any and all modern weaponry.
The players hadn’t fought any other humans aside from the soldiers they encountered on their way to their destination. Even during those encounters, they hadn’t killed anyone, being nothing more than civilians themselves.
But that was fine. There was no need for their consciences to be burdened with death. I was the Dark Lady, the Goddess, and the weight was my responsibility to bear.
The MO-21s scattered throughout the world at speeds approaching that of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Their destinations were wherever there was the grey mud, the breeding ground for dark pixies. As soon as they arrived, I gave them the order through the central system that I’d linked to.
“Begin the assault. Your targets are the dark pixies.”
The MO-21s began their extermination. As I expected, it didn’t take long for them to eradicate the dark pixies while still keeping collateral damage low. These avatars possessed more magic points than greater demons after all, while their targets were nothing more than low demons.
“Thanks, everyone. It’s my job from here.”
My gratitude was answered with a multitude of voices from the players.
I began attuning all ten-thousand of the MO-21s to me until they were completely suffused in my power, and through them, I activated my ability. In the air, the pitch-black insectile MO-21s all turned white, while those that had transformed into griffons grew rabbit ears from their heads.
“Fear not, humans. Fear only feeds the demons. Rest assured, for I am here. Your planet will be saved.”
As I Spoke, particles of light scattered from the MO-21s. All humans and creatures of Earth turned their gazes to the rain of light.
“[Causality Alteration] [Dimensional Manipulation]”
The luminous particles began to scour through the past and future of all electronic devices throughout the world. From them, I saw everything about how the grey mud had appeared, how it was spreading, and how it would expand.
I immediately cut my connection to the central control system and teleported to a mountain range to the east of Eurasia.
My vision flickered, and I appeared in the middle of an enormous blizzard. As though in response to my magic power, the mountains instantly erupted with grey mud.
The tsunami of grey surged toward me. I focused all the magic I could muster into my arms, and I brought my Divine and Demonic powers together with a clasp of my hands.
With me as the center, a sphere of annihilation expanded outward for dozens of kilometers, erasing and ravaging the grey tsunami. The mountains were stripped bare of layers of earth and rocks, revealing an unassuming research center hidden within.
I called for my kin. The sentient sword appeared in my hands with a flash of its snow-white blade and a sudden emanation of coldness.
I brought it down. My blade sundered the research center several kilometers away in two and proceeded to slice apart a broken VR capsule, as well as Brian’s skull inside it.
With his demonic core now in pieces, Brian screamed his death throes. No demons could continue to resurrect once their core was destroyed.
But I wasn’t done yet. I swung Palesnow together with an activation of Causality Alteration, and the sundered research center then began to melt into nothingness, bringing Brian with it.
He was gone. The demon named Brian, the man named Brian, had never been born.
With his disappearance, the grey mud all around the world began to vanish.
The particles of light I had spread throughout Earth slowly whirled into the air. People everywhere looked up into the sky, enchanted by the sight as though children seeing snow for the first time.
As soon as I returned from Earth to the roots of the World Tree, Blobsy and Panda immediately leaped at me.
I was finally home again. A sense of relief washed over me, and I found myself with a hint of a smile. I held my two kins in my chest. The World Tree greeted me with the rustling of its leaves and the dancing rays of dappled sunlight.
I dragged my weary body toward a length of root and sat down. With Blobsy and Panda in my arms, I let myself be taken by the gentle embrace of sleep.
There were so many things we’d talked about.
There were so many things I wanted to say.
The world in front of my eyes slowly changed. Sitting on the World Tree’s branches were ninety-nine of my friends and family, and they welcomed me back with cheerful smiles. I beamed in gratitude for their help and spread wide my arms.
“Love you, everyone.”
A/N: In stores now: ⅙ figurine of the Bunny, Goddess ver., for placing in shrines. 1000 dollars, tax included.
I think it’ll sell pretty well.
This is the end of the afterstories. Sorry for my infrequent uploads. I’ll be fixing them up bit by bit later.
Now that this chapter’s up, I’m setting Apotheosis as ‘Completed’ again. Thank you for reading.
I might update again if I have a new idea.