AFTERSTORY 05 – BRIAN THE DEMON
From the mass of grey mud corrupting the vast, snow-drowned forest came a thought. A voice that rang directly in my mind.
I knew that tone. That madness.
“...so it’s you, Brian...”
Brian had been one of the people in charge of the parallel world department. He had toyed with the lives of a hundred orphans, including me, and after my counterattack wounded his body and mind, he began to be obsessed with me. In the end, he even summoned the Unseelie Lord Fiorfata. Just as he was receiving its ‘blessing’ and was about to turn into a demon, I killed him.
So how did he survive? I thought I’d erased every last bit of him. Did he have a core remaining somewhere else after his demonic transformation...?
[Brian] [Race: Dark Pixie (Seedbed)] [Demon]
・A soul of utmost profanity. Blessed by a high-rank demon, it has since transformed into a demon itself.
[Total Combat Power:*̵͏*̸*̷̀*̷҉͢/̡͜*̷̧*̧̧͜*͟͠*̵͟]
He had fallen. He was utterly, irrevocably a demon now. And while I expected him to be nothing more than a low-rank demon, the... colony? The colony that was his body was much too big for my Identification to work properly.
With Brian’s screaming thought, the sea of grey mud that stretched as far as I could see — the demon’s Blessed Corpus — roiled and rippled. From it came an innumerable amount of tentacles that shot toward me.
This thing was dangerous. Even as low-ranking as he was, Brian was still a terrible threat to a world that had no defense against demons of any kind. If I leave him alone, he would overrun and devour everything.
I couldn’t let a single speck of him remain, here or anywhere else.
I activated Causality Alteration and Consumption, taking in all the light and heat around me and combined it with my internal magic to create a white sphere of power that rested between my palms.
I slammed my hands together and crushed it.
An explosion of absolute zero rushed out, snap-freezing all the tentacles it touched. Everything within several kilometers disintegrated into atoms, and a storm of diamond dust carried the frigid cold outward for kilometers more. The boreal forest was remade into a glacial wasteland.
I floated in the center, a gouging, frozen-solid crater with a radius of several kilometers and a depth reaching nearly a hundred meters. My narrowed eyes scanned the surroundings.
Innumerable minds screamed from the tidal waves of grey that were crashing toward me from outside the devastation I’d caused. The flood began to spew out dark pixies in unending number, and the swarm of locusts darkened the skies in mere seconds.
From what I could see, it seemed the grey mud was comprised of countless microorganisms the size of amoebas, with each and every single one of them being the demon Brian by themselves.
How did their minds work, then? Were these microorganisms working together to create a sort of ‘brain’?
No, probably not. As Brian was a demon now, he should have a core somewhere. But not here, it seemed, though I had expected it to be, since this was also the place that had a dimensional gateway.
Similar to Fiorfata, Brian was an annoying opponent to face, albeit due to a different reason. He wasn’t powerful, nor did he have a lot of magic power. In exchange, he could possess and sacrifice the life-force of creatures on this world and use their souls as a substitute for magic power.
At this rate, all life on Earth would be consumed. How much time did I have left? How far had Brian spread?
I needed more information.
With the mist from my left hand and the blizzard from my right blasting forward, I spun in place, freezing and incinerating all the dark pixies. Afterward, I shot upward into the sky at supersonic speed to look for information.
I climbed, higher and higher. One thousand became two thousand and five hundred, then four thousand. When the azure color of the sky began to give way to blue-tinted blackness, I looked downward, and I saw that below me was the Eurasia continent.
While there were a lot of radio waves bouncing around in the stratosphere, it was still difficult to directly extract information from them even with my ability. Instead, I tracked the signals to a military satellite nearby and teleported to it.
At this height, the stratosphere held barely any air. My crimson claws sank into the satellite. With Dimensional Manipulation, I accessed Earth’s cyberspace.
In countries with developed networks and centered on the Eurasia continent, the grey mud, the seedbed of dark pixies, was everywhere. At the moment, the worst of the damage was still contained in the middle of Eurasia. The spawning dark pixies were still manageable with the local military presence.
But it was only a matter of time before the defense break.
Demons needed mana to maintain their manifestation. The dark pixies were only sustaining themselves by absorbing the life-force of this world, so mundane weapons were still having an effect. But while it was enough to repel the demons, it wouldn’t be able to exterminate them.
I needed to act quickly, otherwise Earth would destroy itself in the chaos even before the demons devour them all.
At that moment, through the military satellites’ surveillance network and my own senses, I saw something. Something flying very, very fast.
Considering the trajectory, it was probably fired by the military of the country I’d arrived in. Nearly a hundred of the missiles climbed into the stratosphere, drawing an arc as they moved toward the forest undulating with grey mud. They slammed into their target and covered the area with a carpet of flame.
I’d heard that a large amount of fire could have a degree of purifying effect. Would fire from a missile work, too?
Immediately afterward, a chorus of screaming minds rushed past me. I couldn’t help but hold my head with my hand.
In the end, the fire worked. Sort of. Brian had manifested himself here by using matter from this world, so it wasn’t surprising that the mundane fire had had some effect, but not as much as appearance would suggest. It only looked damaging because the fire was burning the forest that was serving as food for the mud.
The barrage of screams I heard just now was the death throes of creatures that had been living in the forest. The negative emotions that came from them only created more miasma to excite the demons.
Burned and losing its source of food, the grey mud looked as though it had stalled. Then it absorbed the miasma and began moving again, and this time, with no food source to slow it down, it surged outward to look for more offerings.
I knew it, I had to find and destroy the core. But where was it? How would I find it?
I cranked my ability to the maximum and searched for any notable magical signal nearby, but found nothing. Yet I could only continue searching. I had no other choice.
Then I noticed another flying object.
More missiles? Strange, though... they’d fired nearly a hundred, but now there was only one.
I looked at its temperature... hold on...
“...a nuclear warhead?”
Even nuclear weapons would only have the same result. If Brian’s core wasn’t directly attacked, no amount of heat could do anything more than temporarily stalling the mud. If anything, it would only damage the environment.
I couldn’t allow that. What I wanted to protect wasn’t the people on this planet. I wanted to protect Earth itself.
I released my hold on the satellite and chased after the warhead, expelling my internal magic to accelerate even more.
The ballistic missile had gone beyond the stratosphere and was beginning to drop, its speed reaching several kilometers per second. The projectile was glowing red-hot from the air friction. I caught up to it and with all my strength, I released an upward kick at the missile’s belly. My claws slammed into the warhead.
It exploded. Space began to burn by the white light, but all of the heat and light were soon devoured by my ability. Nothing remained that would indicate there had been a nuclear explosion.
I sighed, winding down from my effort.
I was a Goddess now. I wasn’t harmed by the radiation or heat, but my mind was still tired. I supposed it had been because I had eaten the malice of humans, that which had expressed itself as a man-made weapon.
Yet I couldn’t rest, not yet. My cold mist should be able to keep the mud’s spread in check while searching for Brian, and without damaging the planet.
I began moving, but this time, I noticed several objects approaching me.
There were dozens of them. I could feel them making some sort of communications with each other after they saw me, and they then began to attack me.
This country had decided I was an enemy, I see...
I could understand why. From their point of view, I was probably just another demon rampaging through their country.
I wouldn’t try to convince their leaders. Discussions with politicians would just turn into them trying to find ways for their side to benefit anyway, and I didn’t plan on wasting hours for that.
So I’d just say one thing.
I threw a random weapon I had in my subspace inventory and downed one of the fighters. With the Divine Language, I broadcasted my will.
“Get out of my way if you don’t want to die!”
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