World“s First Demon Lord Chapter 34: Antenna and Vase

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Sakura

April 5, 10:45 am, Tokyo, Japan

"You left the USB...WHERE?!" Michi had practically screamed at her once she called him back. That was a few days ago now.

Sakura's face soured as she remembered the conversation with Michi afterwards. It wasn't that the talk was unpleasant; in fact, many good things came from it. For one, Michi and Bunta were slightly more inclined to believe Sakura really was herself, and not some clone or something.

The reason why, however, annoyed Sakura greatly.

"I have my phone, but I can't find the USB anywhere," Sakura had said. "I probably dropped it when I fainted."

"And where would that be?" Michi asked.

Sakura pulled up the map and tried to remember exactly where she had been. It was all quite fuzzy; she had been high on adrenaline and hadn't been paying much attention. What she did remember, was the smell; an odious, disgusting scent that even the memory made her feel sick to her stomach.

She looked over the map, then deduced a room based on how it was marked, as well as recollecting her general sense of direction at the time.

"Yeah, that's where it is," said Bunta casually.

"Wait, what?"

"I put a tracking device on the USB," he said. "Just in case. If you know where the device is, then either you're telling the truth about who you are, or this is a very, very elaborate trap."

Silence.

"Welp, I guess there's only really one way to find out," said Michi cheerfully.

After yelling at him for about five minutes for it ("yeah, Sakura definitely would react like this," said Michi), Sakura also agreed, albeit reluctantly. 30% because she was annoyed that Bunta thought she needed that sort of help, and 30% because it was actually coming in handy.

The remaining 40% was gratefulness that she had friends that would look out for her like this.

With that decided, Michi decided to head into the lab this time.

"After all, you were pretty much caught last time," said Michi. "If it's really you, then it wouldn't be the best idea to let you back in."

"Same if you were a clone," Bunta added. "You know our faces now, and it would be stupid to let you back in and report it to them."

Sakura grumbled, but eventually agreed.

"Don't worry, we'll have you in on the stream while we go in," said Bunta. "It's the best way to keep an eye on you after all."

Sakura was starting to wonder if Bunta really did believe it was her. He even told her to buy a whole bunch of stuff, so that she could bounce the call around in her apartment.

"I said I just lost my job, I can't afford all this!" said Sakura. "Can't I just go to your place?"

"And risk exposing our location and faces?" Bunta snorted. "No way."

"Can't you at least pay for half of it?"

Somehow, Sakura haggled them into paying for three quarters.

"Okay, you're probably Sakura," muttered Bunta.


"What was that?"

"Nothing, nothing."

With all that, Sakura had been pretty much just waiting all week for the equipment to arrive. Bunta had basically bought her a new computer, in pieces, then instructed her on how to put it all together. She managed to get it all working and fine, all that was left was some sort of antenna-thing she needed in order to help bounce the signal and make it less traceable.

She had set it up in her apartment, which took up most of the space. She had moved her laptop permanently to her bed, the home-made desktop now taking the space on the desk. It was also full of wires and cables that she herself had connected, at some point, but now had no idea where anything was.

Sakura had been surprised that it took so much hardware just to be secure. When she expressed this surprise to Bunta, he simply sighed.

"It's...I'm..." he sounded incredibly tired and frustrated at this question, for some reason. "Just...trust me. If you really are you, then you'll be glad that you're doing this."

Michi explained later.

"Apparently, you could do it from just your laptop, but if it gets traced, then you're dead," he said. "Bunta is always destroying old hard drives and getting new ones. He basically has a new computer every month."

Sakura surprised again, and was touched at how much Bunta was looking out for her. Maybe she was wrong; if he was going through this much effort to protect her, maybe he really did believe she was who she said she was.

Because if she wasn't...

No. She couldn't think like that. She had other things to focus on. Like...food! It was getting close to food time. She should cook.

Sakura has spent most of her time these days occupying herself with random activities like this. Anything to stop herself from thinking too much. Cause if she started thinking, she would wonder about what happened to her. And if she wondered about what happened to her in the two days she was missing, she would start coming up with scenarios. And if she thought about those scenarios...

...it was better not to imagine what might have happened. She could just simply ignore those missing two days, as well as that weird, empty feeling inside her chest, and everything would be fine.

She was fine.

Sakura cracked an egg just a little too hard into the frying pan when she heard the doorbell ring. She turned off the stove, and walked over to the door, the smell of eggs and sausage following her. It was probably the postman, coming with the final part. Finally.

The doorbell rang again.

"Yes, yes, coming, coming!" she said, hurrying over. She didn't bother to check the camera to see who was outside, and opened, the door.

To come face to face with the foreigner.

Sakura froze as she recognized exactly who it was. It was the same man, the same one who had been angry, on the phone, at the scene of both bodies. What was he doing here? Why was he wearing a deliveryman's uniform? Why was he holding a package under his arm?

Had she been found out?

No. Calm down. Take in the situation.

...what was this situation?

From the outside, it looked like a deliveryman delivering a package. And for some reason, the deliveree was staring at the deliveryman like he was a ghost.

"I'm sorry, do you speak Japanese?" Sakura said the first thing on her mind. She needed some way to make this situation more normal. Despite everything pointing to the fact that this man was definitely a working man in Japan and thus, probably knew Japanese, Sakura was hoping that Japan's lack of familiarity when it came to foreigners would work for her here.

The foreigner simply smiled.

"I do, yes," he said, handing over an electronic pen and sign machine. "I need you to sign for this."

"Oh, how long have you been in Japan?" asked Sakura. She was genuinely surprised at how good his Japanese sounded; not a trace of an accent. Very standard Tokyo.

He laughed.

"I was born here, actually," he said, watching her sign. "My father is Japanese, my mother is English."

"Oh, that must have been an interesting childhood," Sakura rambled. "Did you travel between the two countries a lot as a child?"

They chatted for a little, like a normal deliveryman and customer, as if nothing was wrong. He really did act like a regular half-Japanese, just going about and working. If Sakura hadn't seen him before, she might've been fooled.

Except for those eyes. Piercing blue, and watching her every movement, her every reaction.

Those weren't the eyes of a deliveryman.

"Sakura Watanabe?" he read her signature.

"That's me!" she said fake cheerfully. "It is addressed to me, right?"

"Of course," the foreigner laughed, taking out the package.

"Okay, well, I guess I'll just hand this over now," said the foreigner. "Except..."

Oh what was it now? She was so close. The package was right there, in the foreigner's pale hands. Sakura was tempted to simply snatch the package and slam the door in his face.

Maybe she should've.

But she didn't.

"Could I just ask what this package is?" he asked.

"Why?"

"Simply curiosity," said the foreigner smoothly. "I have an interest in these sorts of things."

"A vase," said Sakura automatically.

Big mistake. She knew it as soon as she said it. She had panicked, trying to get this over with, seeing that the package was so close to making it into her hands.

Why would he ask about the item? He was the deliverer, he knew what it was.

Plus, Sakura knew he was not who he said he was. Therefore, the only reason he would ask this would be because…

The foreigner raised an eyebrow.

"Really?" he said. "Because it says here that it is an antenna."

...he wanted a reasonable excuse to call her in.

"If you are expecting a vase, I should probably take this back," he went on. "There's probably been a mix-up."

Time slowed down. Sakura knew that he wanted her to stop him, to give him a reason to be suspicious. But she also knew that if she didn't get this part, then the mission would be delayed. The longer the USB stayed at the lab, the higher its chance of discovery.

What mattered more, the USB, or her safety?

"Shouldn't we check?" said Sakura, failing to make a decision in time. She needed more time.

"Check?" said the foreigner, frowning.

Of course, he hadn't expected that. He already knew what was inside the package. Why was there any need to check?

"If it turns out to be the antenna I'll pay for it, don't worry," Sakura laughed. "I just really need my vase."

If she could just buy a little time. She just needed some more time.

For what?

As the foreigner obliged, and took out a multi-tool to open the package, Sakura's mind was working 100mph. Why was she stalling? She needed more time. But no matter what, when he opened it, there would be nothing but an antenna. There would be no way for her to back out.

In that case, all she had to do was snatch it out of his hands as soon as he took it out, and slam the door. There was no other play. His grip would be weak taking it out, and that would be her chance.

Things would be much easier though, if it turned out that the package was a vase.

The foreigner opened the box, and took out-

"Oh, it's an ante-"

He stopped mid-sentence.

-a vase.

Sakura blinked. She fought the urge to rub her eyes, as that would have been suspicious as all hell, but she wasn't believing what she was seeing.

It was a vase. Just like the one she had been thinking of, small, blue with a nice polish, perfect for something yellow like sunflowers.

There was no denying that it was a vase. Even the foreigner looked completely shocked, his mouth hanging open and his eyes looking like they were about to pop from their sockets.

"Oh, my vase!" said Sakura, quickly taking it. "It looks like it wasn't a mix-up. Thank you for humoring me!"

"You're...welcome, madam," the foreigner wasn't able to say anything else as the door closed on his face.

Sakura breathed a sigh of relief once the door was closed. That was too nerve-wracking. She looked at the small vase in her hands, wondering why had she taken it. She supposed that she had been so preoccupied with snatching away the package that she just took her chance.

Still, she didn't need a vase. She needed the ante-

She blinked, looking at the item in her hands. She placed it on the table, rubbed her eyes, and stared at it again.

It was the antenna. The antenna she had been waiting for.

But just moments before, it had been a vase.

And it wasn't her eyes playing tricks on her either. The foreigner also saw a vase. Why else had he been so surprised?

What...what had just happened?


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