World“s First Demon Lord Chapter 31: Truth and Why

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Sakura

March 31, 7:27 am, Tokyo, Japan

Sakura bolted straight up from her bed, panting heavily. Her skin was slick with sweat, hair in a mess. She has been lying on something soft, and was sitting up.

After a full minute of not believing her eyes, Sakura was forced to admit that she was in her bed, in her apartment. The last thing she remembered was throwing up on the floor and passing out, and not from excessive partying.

Not that Sakura was the type to party excessively, even once she realized that rules were bull and no one would let her do what she wanted if she followed all the rules perfectly.

But that was neither here nor there. Sakura had more important things to worry about.

"The evidence!"

Sakura's hands instinctively vent to her pockets, only to find nothing. A bitter taste of indignant loss rose up her throat; she almost choked back a sob. All that work...all that planning...

Wait. She was still wearing the cleaning crew uniform. That meant the pocket she put her phone in was...

She searched the other pocket, and immediately felt the cool plastic of her phone's case. Just to be sure, she took it out.

Oh thank the gods.

However, the battery was dead.Sakura took a shower while it charged; for some reason she felt very, very dirty.

She turned it on after drying her hair, and was immediately caught off guard by that date.

March 31st?

7:48??

Her deadline.

Her job.

"Ooh shi-"

Sakura quickly got dressed, and headed out to work. She rang Michi on her way out, noting the stack of letters in her letterbox. One thing at a time. First, her phone messages.

Michi answered almost immediately.

"...hello?" He asked tentatively.

"Hey, I'm so sorry, I-"

"SAKURA WATANABE YOU ABSOLUTE BI-"

Sakura flinched, pulling her phone away as Michi yelled about how worried he was, and how they were going to the police with everything they had, if it weren't for the fact that they knew that the police might be in on all this, and HOW DARE she not call until now?

Once Sakura explained the situation, however, all Michi had were more questions.

"So you're telling me that for the past two and half days, you've been knocked out? Dreaming about some professor telling you to save the world? And you woke up in your bed, in your apartment?"

"Seems like it," Sakura confirmed.

Michi was silent for a while.

"Yeah, I get it, you don't think I'm actually Sakura, do you?" Said Sakura. "I'm wondering the same thing myself."

"Well, there's always the test," said Michi.

"What test?"

"The test in every media ever on how to make sure a person is really who they say they are," Michi explained. "Y'know...tell me something only the two of us know."

"Like how you're still in love with Bunta? Or how you don't actually hate it when I call instead of text? Or how you once tried to jump off the third floor of you building when you were six because your brother sai-?"


"Well, you certainly have the same memories as Sakura," Michi grumbled. "But that-"

"Okay, I actually kinda gotta go, I have to present all this evidence to my boss today, just make sure to backup the video and everything and I'll call back once I'm done with my boss, okay?"

"Okay, that's a pretty classic Sakura move..." Michi mused.

"Bye," said Sakura, and hung up. She had arrived.

But when she tried to use her pass to get in, it wouldn't scan.

Frowning, she tried again; negative.

"Is there is problem?"

One of the guards came up to assist Sakura. She showed him what was going on, and he lead her back to his little cubicle. He looked her up in the system.

"Huh, it says here that you were terminated," he said, frowning.

"Terminated?" Said Sakura.

"Fired. Hold on..." the guard's furrowed brow deepened as he looked up her information.

"It says...you were fired...at 4:53 pm...today? That can't be right..." he muttered.

Sakura had a sinking feeling that she knew where this was going.

"Can you tell me when this was logged?" She asked.

"Yeah, it's probably a mistake," said the guard. "If I get who did it then I should be able to find when..."

"Just when is fine for now," said Sakura. She had a pretty solid idea of who it was already.

The guard gave her a weird look, then went back to his screen.

"Okay looks like this was made..."

He blinked in surprise.

"Let me guess," said Sakura. "March 1st.."

The guard didn't say anything. He simply stared at his screen.

"By Mr. Yamamoto himself?" Sakura went on, but she didn't really need confirmation. The look on the guard's face was enough.

"Ummm..." the guard started. "I should probably call..."

But Sakura wasn't there anymore. She had already left the building.

She walked back to the train station, absolutely furious. She knew that this sort of termination was wrong, that at the very least, she needed a personal conversation and time to clear out her desk. With that in mind, Sakura was certain that Mr. Yamamoto was planning to fire her, but had made a mistake when entering a time to void her badge.

That meant that he had never planned to listen to her story. No matter what she did.

Not even if it was the best story in the world. He had already pre-emptively fired her. In his mind, she had already failed. So what if she brought a good story? She wasn't working for them anymore, Sakura realized. They could just steal her story and research, and give the byline to whoever they wanted.

No-one would even care. Sakura was a trans woman intern who got in on a technicality, with no connections, no reputation, no nothing. Even if someone tried to report it out of the goodness of their hearts, the paper could just spin it so that Sakura was a bad employee, who just happened to catch a lucky break this once.

As Sakura re-lived everything she had done, everything she had went through this past month, just to get this story...all those nights of research, surveillance, thinking, tracking, calls, and set up...she had done it for this job. And now, she was faced with the fact that none of it would have mattered. They never planned to listen to anything she had to say, no matter how well she said it.

Why?

Why was it that no matter how well she spoke, no matter how right she was, no one would listen to her?

Sakura blinked, her vision suddenly blurry with tears. An overbearing sense of powerlessness suddenly overcame her being, shocking her.

She had really given everything to this job. She hadn't just been proud of getting this job, Sakura realized that she had placed her self-worth in this job. She had tied her own self-esteem to this place; that's why it hurt so much now.

With that realization, the sense of hopelessness turned into anger. How dare she? Didn't she tell the professor that she wasn't trying to change people that wouldn't change? And yet, here she was, doing just that? No wonder the Professor looked at her weirdly at that time. How had she been so blind?

They never wanted her here. Sakura had known that. And yet, despite all the evidence...despite all the signs...she had still tried.

Why?

Why had she tried so hard for this newspaper?

Sakura stopped in her tracks. Why had she done it for this particular newspaper? Why had she spent all those hours writing, researching in high school…

She had done it for the memory of that person.

"Journalism, real journalism, is about the truth," they had told her. "Be it an op-ed, a fluff piece, or hard-hitting investigating; good journalism is about finding the truth, the facts, and reporting them to the people."

"Our job is to present the truth. Anything getting in the way of that is unnecessary."

Those were the words that had given Sakura hope. The idea of being someone that upheld truth, that sought it down and fought to have it presented to the world...

That was what Sakura wanted more than anything. To be a defender of the truth.

Would someone like that really work for a paper like this?

Brrrrrrrrrrt! Brrrrrrrrrrrt! Brrrrrrrrrrrt!

Sakura looked down to find her phone vibrating in her hand.

Mr. Yamamoto.

Still dazed, lost in the memory of that person, she picked up the call.

"Hn?"

"Ms. Watanabe, where are you?" roared Mr. Yamamoto, bringing Sakura back to the present in a bout of annoyance. And then, Sakura realized something else.

"Me? Oh, I'm just outside the building Mr. Yamamoto," she said casually, suddenly a lot more confident than she had been just a minute ago. Her mind was calm and collected; she was almost frightened at just how calmly she was processing things, given how she had just been.

"Then come in quickly," said Mr. Yamamoto. "You didn't forget what today is, did you?"

"No, I know what is due today," said Sakura. "I think you'll enjoy what I've found. Something very juicy about Neurix Pharmaceuticals, and a very big scoop on police corruption."

Mr. Yamamoto was silent for half a beat.

"Sounds interesting," he said gruffly. "I'll have you present it in the conference room."

"No, I think I'll pass," said Sakura. "I don't think this paper is the proper place for a story like this."

"Excuse me?"

"I've thought about it, and I realized that you were right," Sakura continued. "I want to report in serious issues, with serious insight."

"I'm not interested in being published in a place where one's appearance and name takes precedent over the facts. Thank you for showing me what kind of place the Yomiuri Shimbun is; vanity paper for boring old men with more money than they can burn. Sayonara."

With that, Sakura hung up the call, and deleted Mr. Yamamoto's number. There was no victory dance, so sense of satisfaction from the action. It was just something that needed to be done.

Then, she called Michi back.

She had a story to work on.


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