World“s First Demon Lord Chapter 28: Discovery and Danger
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March 29, 12:21 pm, Tokyo, Japan
"Oi, who was in here last?" said a female voice.
"No idea," answered a male one.
"They left the goddamn lights on again. You know we're gonna have to write this up," said the female voice.
"Do we though? Do we really?"
As the two voices debated on whether or not they needed to write up a report on the light still being left on, Sakura hid behind one of the vats. The base was up to about her waist, so if she crouched, she would be completely covered. No one would be able to see her.
"Is that someone else I hear in the background Sakura? Did you get caught?" said Michi's voice in her ear.
Sakura didn't dare respond. Sure, there was the hum of the machines working, as well as the chatter of the two who had just entered to cover her sound, but it was still too quiet. Sakura was certain that if she made any noise, she would be caught.
She did not know what would happen if she got caught. And she did not want to find out.
"Just...get the thing in here," the female voice sighed. "I need to put it into the system first anyway."
It was at that moment that Sakura realized that she had left her phone near the monitor. She looked over to the monitor and computer; it wasn't too far, simply one row of vats away. The computer was at the end of the row of vats; if the people passed it and turned around, they would be able to see Sakura, unless she found another hiding place. For now though, she should be able to make it without being seen...as long as the people who came in weren't literally in front of her.
Sakura turned around and peeked through the vat to see where the people were. She saw two people, a man and a woman, dragging a very large box on wheels, straight towards her.
Great. There goes that plan.
She quickly hid again as they passed her.
"What even is this?" said the man.
"Dr. Larsson said it was a gift from the boss," said the woman. "Probably another specimen they found."
"I heard it was a warning," said the man.
"Ominous. What's that supposed to mean?"
The two chatted as they walked past, and Sakura quickly dashed up to the computer and swiped her phone. Then, she hid the first place she could think of; on top of the vats. She managed to climb up their quite quickly; her sweaty palms made it easy for her to climb up the glass.
"What you looking at?" said the woman.
"Thought I heard something tap against the glass," said Nishimura.
"Can't be, they're all in suspended animation," said the woman, saying her head. "You're imagining things."
"Yeah," said the man. "Must be."
Thank the gods for sweaty palms. The two chatted for a little while longer.
"Okay, I gotta put this into the system," said the woman, walking over to the computer.
Oh no no no.
Sakura forgot about the USB.
She could only watch in horror as the woman walked over to the computer, opened up the screen, and found it already unlocked and copying a whole bunch of documents.
The woman frowned as she looked at the screen. Then, she made a look of understanding.
"Looks like someone is copying a lot of files," she said aloud. "You know anything about that?"
"Dr Larsson was saying something about sharing our progress with the boss," said Nishimura. "I wasn't really paying attention."
"Apparently they're not too happy with the rate we're going," he said. "That's what I meant about the whole 'warning' thing with this new specimen. They say that this specimen has reached the next step."
Nishimura shrugged again.
"Probably another lab, under a different lead," said Nishimura. "You know how these corporate bigwigs like to make us researchers compete. Like this is some game."
The woman made a noise of disgust in agreement.
"Still," she grumbled, "if you're gonna leave in the middle of copying files, you still gotta turn the lights off. That's a security violation."
She then went on to do whatever it was she needed to on the computer.
Sakura had never before been so glad for capitalism's ability to rob workers of their capacity to care for something that looked above their pay grade.
The woman soon finished what she was working with, and she and Nishimura left from the other exit, on the opposite side of the room, turning the lights off one more. Once she was sure they weren't coming back, Sakura turned on her phone's flashlight, got down from the top of the vat, and rushed over to the computer.
100% done. Sakura removed the USB and put it in her pocket, and looked towards the door.
Then back at the box the two people had just brought in.
She should really leave. Michi wasn't saying anything, and it was well past her 10 minutes at this point.
She had what she came for. She didn't need anything else.
One look couldn't hurt, right?
"It's not like I know if the info she just put in got copied over," Sakura muttered to herself as she walked over to the box.
At the very least, she should take a picture of it. The phone camera was still rolling, still recording and streaming to Michi and Bunta. She could get video evidence of this "next step," whatever that was.
The box was made out of some sort of black, plastic-like metal. Sakura wasn't sure exactly what it was, but it felt very high-tech. There was a small keypad with a code to open it on its side.
Well...it couldn't hurt to try.
Sakura opened her toolbox and took out her homemade fingerprint powder and brush, and started dusting for prints on the keypad. Surprisingly, she got four numbers, 5, 7, 8, 2.
Of course this didn't tell her what order these numbers would be in. Not to mention, it was possible that some or all of the numbers would be entered twice. Sakura didn't have time to sit there all day and guess the code. And with four digits, that meant the possibilities were almost endless.
Maybe luck was on her side. Maybe the gods took pity on her. Maybe the universe decided that, just this once, it would give Sakura something she wanted.
Whatever the reason, Sakura managed to open the box on the third guess.
The box unpressurized as the top became suddenly loose. Sakura almost didn't believe it until right then. It really opened? Really?
Eager to find out what was inside, she pushed the lid off.
And immediately screamed.
She covered her mouth immediately, but the damage was done. There was no way for her to explain this if anyone walked in. Quickly, she took out her phone and recorded what was inside the box.
A dead woman. Or, to be more precise, a dead woman with claws, and her lower body fused with a snake.
This was the next step? Fusing people with animals? To make...monsters?
The door burst open.
Sakura didn't have any time to think. She pocketed her phone and ran for it, escaping from the other door. There was sounds of shouting behind her, but she ignored it. She didn't have time for any of that now.
As she ran, she went through her mental map of the place, trying to find an exit. Upstairs, she needed to go upstairs. Stairs should be at the corners of the building, along the walls. She turned a corner, to find more guards coming up, making her go back and pick a different corridor.
Damnit. It looks like they were onto her now. What she needed to do now was to clear off suspicion.
Luckily, she had prepared for such an occasion. But first, she would need to shake off her tail.
Sakura turned a corner, and ducked into the first room she could. It seemed to be some sort of storage room; a real one. How poetic. She took off her outer clothes, to reveal a slightly crumpled pantsuit underneath. She quickly transferred her phone and USB, then took off her cap, releasing her long hair, and balled up her clothes and hid them in a bin.
Sakura screamed as the guards opened the door, making sure to look as scared as she possibly could. It wasn't that hard; she was terrified.
Luckily, it worked.
"Oh, sorry miss," said one of the guards.
"Is everything alright?" she asked, voice quavering.
"Have you seen a janitor come by?" said one of the guards.
"J-janitor?" she stuttered. "N-no...I don't know anything about her!"
"Her?" one of the guards frowned.
This was a gamble. Sakura was working under the assumption that since she had her hair done up and wearing gender neutral clothes while pretending to be maintenence, it would make people assume she was a man. After all, they did that enough already, even when she was in a dress.
Right now, Sakura was in a crumpled, but definitely women's pantsuit, in a storage closet, denying knowledge of a female janitor. If these guards read the atmosphere she created correctly...
"Er, nevermind miss," said the guard. "Please evacuate to the first floor."
"Y-yes," she said, moving as quickly as she could. Part of her was incredulous – she couldn't believe that it actually worked.
Then again, she supposed that movies and spy novels did draw on some truths. She was glad that this time, it seemed to work in her favor.
"Wait...shoes! Her shoes!"
Sakura instinctively looked down. Of course, she was still in her sensible tennis shoes. She hadn't had time to change them, nor had she planned to. She had sort of figured no one would notice.
Apparently, she had figured wrong.
Sakura had no time to waste cursing her fashion-conscious pusuers. She broke into a sprint, the guards hot on her heels. She managed to get to the stairs, and make her way up.
The guards were right behind her.
She burst onto the first floor, and sprinted down the hallway, past employees of all sorts, pushing them behind her to block her pursuers. She barely paid attention; all she could think of was how to get rid of her tail.
The human shields did give her some space, a little bit of time. But now, Sakura was running out of breath. Sure, she exercised every day, but that was nothing compared to these guards it seemed. It looked like Neurix Pharmaceuticals spared no expense when it came to hiring top quality muscle. They were lagging a little, but they would catch up if Sakura didn't lose them for good.
Sakura needed time to rest. She needed a place to hide. Luckily she had some space, and was about to turn a corner, losing line of sight with her pursuers for a couple of seconds. That should be enough time to hide in some sort of room.
As soon as she turned a corner, Sakura entered the first door whose handle she coukd grab.
It was the second door from the corner, and I
of she had taken a moment to check, she would have noticed a big "DO NOT ENTER" sign, right next to a "BIOHAZARD" label.
The first thing she noticed was the smell. It reeked in here. She immediately started hacking up a lung. She didn't want to breathe in the putrid air, but her lungs were desperate for oxygen. She braced herself against a bin to support herself as she coughed.
Once she was stable, she stood up straight, then pressed her ear against the door. She could hear the sounds of footsteps coming closer.
She looked around for anywhere to hide. This room was full of large bins, like the one she had been supporting herself with before. Maybe she could hide in one of them. She walked over to look into what was in them.
And immediately threw up.
Dead bodies. Dead, mutated bodies, the failures of the experiments, all shoved into multiple bins stinking up this room. She didn't know, but they had all been there for about a week, making the spell especially toxic.
As she threw up, she felt her consciousness begin to fade.
'Really?' she thought, a little outraged. 'Am I really the type to pass out from something like this?'
What Sakura didn't know, was that it was the effect of the toxic bodies, bleeding into the air through the smell, that was making her pass out. If she stayed in there for another twenty minutes without protection, she would become severely ill. If she stayed in there for an hour, she would most likely become a vegetable for life.
If she stayed there any longer than an hour, she would die.
But Sakura didn't know that.
She passed out, ignorant of just how much danger she was really in.
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