The project to research the ‘Applications and Uses of Technologies and Resources of Yggdrasia’, done under the auspices of the government of a certain country, was bearing fruit after decades of work and a ludicrous amount of funding. Its progress could be roughly summarized into stages as follows:
The first stage, information gathering through the dispatch of watcher drones and stabilization of the local area.
The second stage, acquisition and genetic analysis of people with paranormal abilities who were linked to the discovery of the new world.
The third stage, development of a mana gathering system that made use of the aforementioned genetic data.
The fourth stage, development of a basic theory to create avatars that were growth-capable with mana.
The resulting large-scale mana gathering system had been the VRMMO World of Yggdrasia. The game project had proceeded without a hitch. Through the use of around three million players as ‘miners’, extraction of the new world’s resources and development of magical weaponry had begun.
But the corporation had encountered a large obstacle even before a year had passed.
The genetic analysis of one hundred children with paranormal abilities had been completed, and they were deemed no longer useful. They had been sent to the other world as test subjects for the experimental monster avatars, and at the same time to be disposed of.
The experiment had ended with all the test subjects either dead or crippled. The results had been used to develop militarized monster avatars. However, just as they were beginning their test runs, an incident happened.
The destruction of a medical facility and the mass murder of its staff, apparently done by a single girl.
She had also been witnessed in Yggdrasia, and was suspected to be the ‘rabbit’ beastman girl with abnormal combat power. Her appearance on Earth had shocked all those involved.
The scholars and researchers had determined that she either had a power to allow her to travel across dimensions, or a power to Digistruct herself here from the other world.
In case of the former, then if they could analyze her power, they would possibly gain the capability to transport not just mana, but also resources such as the rare metal ‘mythril’ and ‘adamantite’ back to Earth. Even in case of the latter, she would still give them the possibility of mass mana collection. The government had ordered the corporation to either capture her or analyze her genetic information. However, they soon found out that she was powerful enough to be called the Dark Lady in Yggdrasia. Their progress stalled.
And one day, the corporation’s center of research into the new world was attacked.
The 12th research center had been the base of the game developers, as well as where the players-slash-resource-miners were being managed. All of their security staff had been killed. The culprit had slipped through the stringent security and surveillance system, leaving no traces of themselves. The attack had earned them the nickname of ‘The Ghost’.
No one knew if the culprit was a singular person or a group. As the corporation continued their investigation with the assumption that it had been done by a foreign special task force with the purpose of industrial espionage, the 4th research center, where magical weaponry were being developed, fell. Not only were all of their main researchers murdered and their facilities destroyed, the fifty soldiers on-loan to the center for operational testing had also gone missing. As a result, the government then revised their assumption of the Ghost’s goal to be ‘information of the other world’. They gave the order for the army to protect the remaining research centers.
Yet their efforts might as well have been a joke in front of the Ghost, who had gone through the security like a hot knife through butter, killing hundreds of soldiers and researchers of the 7th center. However, the Ghost’s identity had been revealed by the remaining records.
It was the Dark Lady of the other world, alias Whitehare.
There were unconfirmed rumors that Whitehare bore a striking resemblance to one of the former secret alpha test subjects, a girl with a paranormal ability: No. 13.
No. 13 had been a girl with a congenital pigment deficiency. Her father was unknown, her mother a woman with Japanese heritage. When she was eleven years and one month old, her identity was erased from official records, and she entered the other world as a test subject.
No. 13 had suffered a psyche collapse and fell into a vegetative state due to an accident during the test. She had survived by unknown means, and was thought to be planning her vengeance against the corporation.
Her power was to ‘cause misfortune in others’, and so she was called the Demon Child.
Yet even through mental stress caused by abuse that at times bordered on being torture, she still showed no signs of gaining the power of Probability Manipulation that the corporation was hoping for, and she had been designated for disposal. She was hypothesized to have awakened a new, unknown ability through her psyche collapse and the mana of the new world.
The 7th research center had reported her power to be unfathomable, and her threat level extremely dangerous. But the corporation had analyzed her total combat power from the camera footage of the time she attacked the medical facility; they had deemed it to be around ten thousand, and as only several months had passed, they assumed her power could have only increased by 50% at most.
However, she had shown personal power equivalent to a battalion of tanks, as well as abilities of Probability Manipulation and Frost. The corporation found itself in a hurry to devise countermeasures.
The Ghost was now redesignated as Whitehare. As she had destroyed the 4th and the 7th research center yet leaving the 12th intact, the corporation now believed her goal to not be ‘facilities connected to the other world’, but instead ‘manextracting facilities’.
The extraction and storage of mana required large-scale equipment. Thus, there were only three locations that held them. Two of them had been the 4th and the 7th research center, and the final was a military compound.
Currently, the plans for the equipment that had been placed at the two research centers, as well as the researchers who had designed them, had all perished. Any reconstruction efforts would require the remaining facility to temporarily cease operation to be inspected.
And even if they could manage to finish the inspection, redesign, and operational testing, it would still take them several years. It was why the final location must be defended, no matter how many lives they might need to sacrifice. The military compound was preparing for Whitehare’s assault with a division of soldiers.
“Do not let her get in!!! Fuck that little white bitch up good! If I don’t see her pumped with more holes than my grandma’s flip-flops, heads are going to ROLL!”
The commander of the compound, brigadier general Hestor, slammed his fist on an expensive-looking table and shouted in apoplectic rage.
His hostility against Whitehare was of a far more personal nature than what was required for someone of his standing. Hestor’s nephew had been one of the officers deployed at the corporation. The young man respected him and had followed in his footsteps, and he himself was very much fond of his nephew.
His nephew would have one day picked up his torch to become an excellent protector of this country, if only he hadn’t gone missing at the 4th research center. Hestor still hadn’t lost hope, but if his nephew had been caught in the hands of that terribly cruel Whitehare, then his fate was sealed.
Hestor angrily huffed as he finished his outburst. Right at that moment, his young secretary entered the room. He glared.
“Sir! …umm, the people requested by the government have arrived. What is your order?”
“…them, I see.”
Brigadier general Hestor didn’t bother hiding his displeasure at the report.
Upon her destruction of the medical facility, Whitehare had called herself a Demon.
Everyone involved had thought it no more than a metaphor, that she was simply declaring her resolve for vengeance. But one of the high-level government officials hearing it had said that they knew some very suitable people, and had so generously sent them over as backup.
Several minutes later, three men arrived at Hestor’s office from the military helicopter that had brought them here.
“…so you’re here.”
One was a lanky man around thirty years of age, wearing a black cloak and a pair of round sunglasses.
One was an American Indian man, old and muscular, his cheeks bearing strange tattoos.
And one was a white-haired middle-aged priest, with an average build and a gentle smile.
They belonged to an organization that only unofficially existed, which the government employed to deal with ‘special’ jobs. They were modern mages.
Around a thousand years ago, mana still existed on Earth. At the time, there had been ‘witches’ and ‘wizards’, people with the capability to bring about supernatural phenomena, though they had never shown themselves in the spotlight.
But as mana gradually vanished from the world, so too did the number of these practitioners drastically decreased. Some had survived by joining hands with influential men and women of the time, and they continued to develop their unique skills.
The man wearing sunglasses was named Herdu. A practitioner of an Eastern European school of black magic, he sacrificed living beings instead of using magic power, using the lifeforce of their death throes to power his Spells.
The American Indian man, Ohan. He utilized the lifeforce of himself and of his surroundings as ‘qi’ to do Shamanism.
The middle-aged priest, Aiden. He was said to be a Saint who had succeeded in drawing out power from the soul by honing his own. He made his living as an exorcist.
“You know what the job is, correct?”
Hestor said bluntly, his misgivings plain to see in his gaze. Herdu merrily replied.
“They said a demon’s shown up? Awesome. I’ve always wanted to meet a real one.”
“…exterminating demons is my duty,” Ohan said.
“Indeed, it is what we have been told. How wonderful that a demon has appeared. This is undeniable proof that God existed!” And Aiden was the last to speak.
Despite the disbelief Hestor held upon hearing their words, he thought he’d seen an unfathomable flame in their eyes. He decided on a somewhat lighter approach.
“…I would like you to guard the hallway leading to the crucial facilities and the control room. Ask the soldiers to guide you. I’ve left the nearby room empty, so feel free to use it as you wish,” Hestor said.
The three men gave their responses and left the room. Hestor collapsed onto the black leather chair and sighed deeply.
“Goddamn are they freaky…”
With the force he had, he couldn’t possibly need their help.
Yet if the worst did happen, then he wouldn’t have a single idea what the three men would do. Hestor consoled himself by subjecting the meddling government high official to the worst obscenities his mind could cook up.
He couldn’t show those government officials any real-time footage due to informational security. So he could only make sure to compile some footage with extra info afterward to vindicate himself before them.
Several days later. The report that he had been, in a way, looking forward to finally arrived.
“Whitehare has appeared!”
So you’re finally here, Hestor thought, his hurried footsteps carrying him to the control center. His hand formed a fist in unconscious tension.
Whitehare possessed four noteworthy powers.
First, her invisibility to the eyes of digital equipment. This was solved by simply using real human eyes and the decrepit technology of analog filming.
Second, her physical capabilities that allowed her to move several times faster than a human could. The countermeasure had been extra training in aiming without digital equipment and training movement perception for his soldiers.
Third, her mist of extreme cold. All his soldiers were equipped with cold weather gear that allowed them to be active even in minus-50 degrees Celsius environment.
Fourth, as well as the most dangerous, was her Probability Manipulation. It was proposed that this ability was also what granted her long-range capability. In theory, they should be able to deal with it by not allowing her a chance to attack at all, sending so many bullets downrange that she wouldn’t be able to keep up with her ability.
He arrived at the war room. A monitor was hastily prepared to display analog footage. On the screen, the yellow earth, normally scoured by a dry wind, was now being covered by a white mist. The air temperature dropped drastically. Vision was bad, but not completely blinding.
Within the mist, a girl of white appeared in absolute composure. Whitehare was here.
She must have made her entrance knowing that her identity was now exposed. But no one expected her to simply walk through the front gates as if she owned the place.
Hestor saw her for the first time. Before he knew it, his eyes were wide open.
Whitehare was an adorable girl in her mid-teens with scarlet eyes, pure-white hair, and astonishingly white skin. She was clad in an outfit resembling that of a bunny girl’s, which left her shoulders and arms exposed. Her bunched-up short skirt and her pair of rabbit ears, no less adorable, bounced and swayed in concert.
Whitehare noticed the gaze of the soldiers. She gave a shy smile, fingers pinching the hem of her skirt to give a curtsy.
She looked so relaxed, so lovely, as if she was a character straight out of an animated movie. The field officer, captivated by the sight of the girl, even forgot to give the order to shoot. Hestor jolted back to reality with a gasp, and his furious order rang out in the command center.
“What the fuck are you doing?! SHOOT HER!!”
After a moment’s delay, tens of thousands of bullets rained down on her.
According to the scholars and researchers, her Probability Manipulation only applied to a single target at a time. It wasn’t unbeatable. If you can dodge all of them, I’d like to see you try, Hestor thought, his eyes glued to the screen.
Abruptly, she disappeared.
“…huh?” Hestor unwittingly exclaimed in stupefaction.
Screams rang out the very next moment, the screen shaking frantically. Then he heard the report. The artillery unit of sixty soldiers situated several hundred meters away had all been transformed into ice, cold-weather gear and all. There were no survivors.
Howls of rage, of terror, of gunshots and explosions followed one after another.
“What the hell is happening?!”
At the moment, the screen was showing footage of what a soldier was manually filming instead of AI-driven surveillance cameras. It was why Whitehare was outrunning the camera.
Hestor needed to get an image of the battlefield, anything at all. He switched the wall monitor to display the digital footage of surveillance cameras. High firepower units like the tanks were being disabled and frozen in pinpoint strikes.
But something else held his attention: a unit of soldiers was showing a notable lack of unity. He questioned the field officer, and the officer had looked uncomfortable. The report was no less strange.
“S-sir… a group of soldiers suddenly started saying ‘the Bunny’ and some other nonsense, and they seem extremely confused…”
Of those among his soldiers who’d seen Whitehare, some were confused, some excited. They were made useless.
Admittedly, the younger soldiers might have found it difficult to fire on such a lovely girl without a single moment of hesitation, but they were still trained soldiers. Was this the power of the other world’s Dark Lady, to have disabled them so easily? His spine chilled with the thought.
“Get the camera team on the heli!”
First and foremost, he needed to confirm Whitehare’s location before he could have a grasp of the situation. Several of the anti-tank helicopters, until now only standing by due to the unavailability of the electronic system, took to the air and began to send overhead footage of the battlefield.
The unit equipped with power armor was standing stock-still in a white wasteland like rows of frozen trees, their armor unresponsive, ice completely encasing them. Whitehare took notice of the helicopters. She turned her hand toward them and made as if to crush something in her fist.
Hestor reeled back despite himself, squeaking in fear, feeling as if her eyes had looked straight at him. The man himself was fine, but the officers watching the digital monitors around him had all collapsed, blood erupting from all over their bodies. The filming helicopter failed to keep themselves aloft, every single one crashing to the ground. The screens went black.