World“s First Demon Lord Chapter 24: Turning Point and New Beginnings

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Sakura

March 25, 4:21 pm, Tokyo, Japan

"That half-breed was mad. I don't think I've ever seen him so mad," said Officer Matsumoto. "Honestly I think it was work it just for that."

Sakura learned quite quickly that the taller policeman that helped her yesterday was named Officer Matsumoto. She also learned that he was an incorrigible flirt, a bit of a loudmouth, and had most certainly been checking her out, despite his many protests. She learned all this in the past hour, listening to the recording from the microphones she placed in the car. Bunta had sent her the files earlier, along with a long message about how if she was planning to spy on police officers, tell him about it beforehand so he can give proper equipment.

"If you don't tell me, I can't give you the best stuff," he complained. "I wouldn't want my one journalist contact to get caught cause I gave the wrong equipment."

Sakura, for her part, apologized, then did her due diligence to Michi and talked to him about college, or another job.

"How about you pay me for these 'favors' then?" He has snorted.

"Maybe once I get paid what I'm actually owed," Sakura had grumbled in reply.

Still, she thanked him for the recording and his help, and went on to listening.

Honestly, there want much more to learn. Other than the fact that the foreigner was apparently half-Japanese, and the fact that he was very angry at what happened yesterday, the officers didn't talk much about the case. Sakura supposed that only made sense; it wasn't really much of a case. They'd written it off as some sick prank made to waste the police's time.

If only they would mention the foreigner's name.

Still, the plan wasn't a total loss. Sakura had managed to track the plates of the foreigner's van, which was apparently a company van.

To a research laboratory.

Sakura double checked to make sure she was seeing this right. A laboratory? For...pharmaceuticals? No, that was before. Now it's just a...research lab?

Researching what? Dead bodies? Sakura recalled the stratcher taking the body at her friends grave disappearing into a black van, as well as the stretcher that came out of the same van yesterday.

This was where the bodies were being taken. To this research lab.

But why?

Sakura had spent the night researching the lab, and managed to find out that it was a foreign company, with roots in England, of all places. She was surprised it wasn't American, but aside from that...

Nothing.

Still, Sakura could help but feel like she had finally broken through; she had found a leak in the dam. A laboratory taking bodies from a crime scene? If it wasn't illegal, then it would at least be suspicious. Her hunch, while not completely proven, was starting to bear results.

Now, all she needed was something a little more solid, more tangible.

So here she was, in person, scouting the place out, camera in hand. She had less than a week to show something concrete to her boss. She needed results. Fast.


***

March 25, 8:23am, London, England

Ms. Kang burst into my office, as cool and calm as ever. The only reason I described the intrusion as 'burst' was because her glasses were microscopically askew.

"Ms. Kang? To what do I owe-"

"I believe we finally have some suitable candidates for the superhero storyline." She interrupted.

I was torn. On the one hand, she was getting a little too bold. On the other...

SOME suitable candidates?

For the superhero storyline?

The storyline that had been dead for over a year now?

I could see where she was coming from.

Ms. Kang bowed her head.

"Apologies, I overstepped," she said, making my job much easier.

Seriously, I don't know how I would have managed this without Ms. Kang. She cleaned up her own messes promptly, as to never bother me. The perfect secretary.

I acknowledged her apology with a nod.

"The candidates?"

"I have sent the relevant information, sir."

I picked up my tablet and opened my email. Within minutes, I was reading the files Ms. Kang had sent.

I had mixed feelings by the time I had finished reading them.

"This is...I don't know..." I began.

"Their chemistry is perfect," said Ms. Kang. "Furthermore there is personal tension. It's all in the file."

"I know, but..."

Ms. Kang was looking at me as if she didn't understand why I was so reluctant. To be fair to her, what she said was completely right. In terms of viability, drama potential, and entertainment factor, it would be hard to find another couple this perfect.

"This couple would even solve the ratio of heroines to-" began Ms. Kang.

"I know, I know," I snapped. "It's just...personal preference..."

Ms. Kang raised an eyebrow.

"How about I show you their chemistry then?" She said. With that, she opened up the projector, and started playing a recording.

"We can debate more afterwards."

I nodded unwillingly, and let her play the recording.

***

Gadiel

March 25, 5:00 pm, Canberra, Australia

The rain poured relentlessly over the streets, forcing people quickly move under cover unless they wanted their umbrella to break under the force of the falling droplets. The rain had come suddenly, and so there were still a couple of people caught out.

"Seriously? You've been here for a year, and you still haven't bought an umbrella?" said Gadiel Kazem. He was tall, broad-shouldered, and spoke in a deep, easy Australian accent. He held up the umbrella for his shorter partner, who was shivering slightly.

"Ah, now I have the chance! I have always wanted to say this."

"Say what?"

"Shut up."

Gadiel laughed, and they both jogged to cover.

They had been on their way back to their university lodging when the rain suddenly came pouring down. Luckily, they were still in the CBD area, and there was plenty of cover from the rain in front of the shops lining down the street.

"You want something to eat? I want something to eat," said Gadiel.

"We ate before the movie."

"But I'm hungry again."

"What are you, a...un cheval?"

"Horse," translated Gadiel.

"Yes! You eat like a horse!"

"You've never seen a horse. You don't know how much they eat."

"It's an expression. Don't they teach you about expressions in your Bachelor of Languages?"

"Do they teach you how much horses eat in your Bachelor of Arts?" Gadiel teased back.

They chatted for a while longer, walking down in front of the stores, standing a little too close to each other to just be friends. They passed by a few take away restaurants, making Gadiel's stomach rumble. His partner noticed, and Gadiel grinned sheepishly.

"I did say I was hungry," he said.

His partner rolled his eyes.

"Fine," he said. "Let's get something to eat."

Five minutes later, Gadiel was stuffing his face with a kebab*. His partner watched him with open disgust, and maybe a hint of fascination.

"You wanna try some?" asked Gadiel.

His partner shook his head.

"C'mon Tarik," he said. "It'll warm you up."

Tarik de Gaulle shook his head. He was short for his age, but more than made up for it with a wiry, but impressively muscled physique, and a smile that could light up an entire room. When he deigned to smile, that was. He didn't very often, and most people considered him rude or pretentious at first glance. His French accent probably didn't help much in that regard either, but here in Australia, it seemed to surprise most people. Tarik suspected it was because he was originally from Gabon, Africa; Australians just didn't expect a black man to speak French like a native. Nevermind the fact that French was the official language of Gabon.

"How about you just give me your jacket instead?" said Tarik dryly.

Minutes later, Tarik took a bite out of Gadiel's kebab while wearing his oversized jacket.

"Mmph!" his eyes grew wide as he chewed and swallowed.

"I don't know how I haven't made you eat a kebab before now," said Gadiel, shaking his head. Sans jacket, he now only had on a white shirt that was just a little too tight. His arms were crossed, rubbing his thick triceps for some semblance of warmth.

But that was okay. He was having fun. There was never a dull moment between him and Tarik.

They had met last year, both in their first year of their respective Bachelors' Degrees. Both were taking advanced French; Tarik because he thought it'd be easy, and Gadiel because he wanted to continue learning French. From there, they had become close friends, and now...

Well. Gadiel wasn't sure what they had now.

The boys chatted a bit longer, about food and other random things, before Tarik came to a stop.

"What, did you catch your reflection in the mirror again?" said Gadiel.

"I'm not you," said Tarik automatically.

Gadiel walked back to where Tarik had stopped, and looked at what he was gazing at. It was a sort of...antique store, with all sorts of knickknacks; from old vases to weird kinds of jewelry.

"Something catch your eye?" Gadiel asked.

"No," said Tarik casually. "But I kinda wanna...see if there's anything."

"Sure," said Gadiel, and they walked in.

"Do you collect stuff?" asked Gadiel.

"No...but I like old things," said Tarik absently, already in the middle of the store, looking at a bunch of pots.

"Yeah, History Major," Gadiel smirked. "I remember."

The elderly Asian man at the counter in the back of the store looked up from his books as the boys walked in, then went back to his book. Gadiel couldn't help but stare at the book for a moment; it was bound in red hardback, with no title. He supposed it was written inside instead.

Gadiel watched as Tarik looked at every item carefully, as if he were appraising it. He seemed very into what he was doing. Probably didn't want to be disturbed, so Gadiel started looking around too.

There were a couple vases and stuff that looked pretty cool, and a few really old books...but nothing that exciting. He sifted through a few old volumes, but they were all in English, which was boring, or Chinese, which he could not read. He glanced over back to Tarik, who was now staring deeply at a pair of earrings.

Huh. Jewelry. Maybe there'd be something cool there.

Gadiel walked over, and found that there was plenty of interesting things here; an old, gold ring with a deep green gem, an pair of silver earrings shaped like feathers, a bracelet fashioned as an Eastern Dragon eating its own tail…

Gadiel's eyes were suddenly drawn to a pendant. It had been there the whole time, but somehow, it seemed to become the center of his vision. It was a simple, Yin/Yang pendant, but with the black dot in the white had details that made it look like a moon, and the white dot in the black replaced with a white sun. He reached forward to touch it-

-and accidentally touched Tarik's hand.

Gadiel instinctively withdrew his hand, then grinned at Tarik.

"If you want it, I can buy it for you," he said.

"Didn't you want one as well?"

"I think it'd suit you better, actually."

"Which one?" asked Tarik.

"Huh?"

Tarik picked up the pendant, only to show that it was two pendants, interlocking.

"There's two," he said, stating the obvious. "You can take one and I'll take the other."

"Do you always buy matching jewelry for your friends?" Gadiel laughed.

Tarik raised an eyebrow.

"Only for friends I like," he said sweetly.

Gadiel smiled, but inside he was sweating bullets. What did that mean? Was that some kind of innuendo?

Did he mean like as a friend, or like as...

No. Just because Tarik was bi and he was gay didn't mean that they had to end up together. Not that Gadiel thought Tarik was a bad guy or anything. In fact, Tarik had quite a lot of good qualities, like his wit, his-

"Are you coming or what?" said Tarik from the counter, looking bemused at Gadiel's frozen expression.

Gadiel quickly shook his thoughts away, and joined Tarik at the counter. They presented their items, gazing at the large, multicolored curtain behind the shopkeeper. The shopkeeper, in turn, barely looked up from his book.

"Just take it and go," he said, still reading.

Tarik and Gadiel looked at each other, then back at the shopkeeper.

"But we haven't paid yet," said Tarik.

"Don't care. It's closing time. Take what you want and get out," he said, waving the boys away.

Gadiel blinked in confusion, and looked back at Tarik. He seemed just as confused as Gadiel.

"Just...take it?" said Gadiel.

"Are you deaf? Take it and go!"

They did not need to be told a fourth time. Gadiel and Tarik took their pendants, and left.

"That wasn't just me, right?" said Tarik. "That was definitely weird, right?"

"Maybe the pendants are cursed," said Gadiel, eyeing the Yang half of the pendant. "Maybe he told up to take it so he'd pass the curse along."

"Lucky I'm immune to curses then," said Tarik casually, putting on the Yin half of the pendant. "My aunt told me so on my seventh birthday."

As the boys joked on their way back to their dorm, the shopkeep finally put down his book, and took out his phone. He sent a message, and waited for a reply.



Two hours later, he received a text.

"PROCEED."

*On the east coast of Australia, a kebab is a type of wrap of Greek or Turkish origin.


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