The city was suddenly plunged into darkness as their electricity vanished. Screams of fear and anger rang out. Black smoke from fiery accidents roiled up the sky.
I leaped on top of a tall building and peered down on the 7th research center. As I expected, they’d switched to their indoor generators. Still, it seemed their generators weren’t as powerful as the 4th’s, as the number of drones had visibly decreased. The soldiers on guard against possible attacks were now running around in a hurry.
Their main equipment and computers seemed to have already been disconnected from the network as a countermeasure against hacking. Looked like they’d learned from the 4th. I think I could still hack them directly if I used [Dimensional Manipulation], but I wasn’t used to the new skill yet. Doing anything that required accuracy was still difficult.
But, well, if I was going to test my [Dimensional Manipulation], I might as well try out another new ‘ability’.
I aimed my palm at the roof of the 7th research center building, focusing my eyes, and used my new skill to create a dimensional warp at the target.
I vanished from the roof of the tall building with a fwip of rushing air—
—and teleported onto the roof of the 7th research center, my feet about 30 centimeters above it. I tucked into a forward roll, only barely saving myself from tripping, and moved into cover.
This was… somewhat difficult to use. It was the first time I ever tried ‘spatial teleportation’. I was constantly using my mist to sense my surroundings, so the sudden change had disoriented me.
I was limited to only locations I could see, and just a jump of several hundreds meters already ate up five thousand of my magic. Maybe it’d get better if I had more practice with it.
Oh well, no point worrying about it. I’d practice my teleportation once I got back to Yggdrasia.
Alright, focus. I moved toward the roof entrance, my attention on any possible cameras. With the evolution of my Cyber-Manipulation, I was quite sure I now no longer showed up on digital cameras, but analog ones would still see me. Also, I always felt strangely uncomfortable whenever I was in front of the lens, perhaps a legacy of the times I was still a human… I wondered if it was just me?
I unlocked three digital locks and entered the research center. Through the door was a stairwell that doubled as an emergency exit. There were security cameras, but not that many. They had a 180 degrees field of vision, but only around half of it would actually show up on the terminal screens, while the rest were just motion sensors. I could just ignore them. Probably.
I reduced my weight to the minimum necessary, then leveraged my inhuman capabilities to drop all the way down to the ground floor.
The floors upstairs were where the normal employees were. I left them alone. The 12th research center, which was a high-rise building in the middle of downtown, had all its important equipment high up. On the other hand, the 4th research center, which had an arsenal of experimental weapons, instead placed their crucial equipment deep below ground, perhaps to avoid losing them to bombing attacks. Most of the high-ranked researchers working with them were also located nearby.
This place was architecturally closer to the 4th, so my plan was to raid them from below with the assumption that their important facilities were also underground.
But this stairwell only went to the first underground floor. If this place was the same as the 4th, then my only choice was to use the dedicated elevator to go underground.
“Before that, though…”
The underground generators and computers were carefully air-gapped, so I couldn’t deal with them directly yet, but I could still hack the aboveground equipment to disable their satellite communication.
I entered the first underground floor from the stairwell and headed toward the elevator that would bring me to the bottom.
There were almost no researchers or staff members around. Instead, there were soldiers patrolling in two-man teams, all of them fully equipped with night and infrared-vision masks and more.
…should I tell them digital equipment wouldn’t see me? I readied my straight sword and combat knife, silently sneaking up to a pair of soldiers. I waited until they went into a camera blindspot and stabbed deep into their necks, killing the two at the same time.
I froze and disintegrated the spilled blood and jammed the two corpses into the corner of a nearby room. Then I immediately left to deal with the next soldiers, one pair after another.
Where was the elevator? If it turned out the place didn’t have an underground after I’d done all this, I was going to sulk.
I just had an idea. I picked up a mobile device from one of the soldiers I’d disabled. As I expected, it had a map of this floor. So that’s where it was…
I slowly moved toward an unmarked door, disabling any soldiers I met on the way, and entered the room. I headed to the back and touched a blank wall, revealing the disguised elevator.
Of course, I didn’t just press the elevator call button like an idiot. I quietly forced the doors open and went into the shaft, dropping to the bottom. It was the sixth underground floor, it seemed. The second to the fifth underground floors didn’t hold any facilities. They looked to be nothing more than the foundation for the aboveground building.
It would have been a scene straight out of a comedy if the elevator was coming at that exact moment. Thankfully, it was still staying on the bottom floor.
I lifted up the elevator box with one hand, the other gently forcing open the door to the bottom floor. There was a soldier standing guard there, wearing some seriously bulky equipment.
I let out some mist to check out the area. There really was just the single soldier. Was that thing covering them a sort of power armor? I didn’t know how much confidence they had in their armor, but it was true that with it on, I’d have a more difficult time stabbing them with the blades I had on hand.
I could tear them apart with my claws, but I didn’t think I needed to.
I slipped through the elevator door gap as mist, flicking myself to directly above their head. I turned human behind them, twisting their neck 180 degrees, killing them.
The alarm suddenly sounded.
I took a closer look to see if there’d been anything on their armor that could have done it. It turned out it wasn’t on their armor, it was the soldier themself.
Motes of light slipped from the gaps in the armor, and the empty hunk of metal slumped on the ground.
The manaless avatars usable on Earth could only exert 70% the physical capabilities of a normal person, no matter who was driving it. It had been the reason why they’d been researching mana to develop a military-capable avatar, and it was also why I didn’t expect them to use avatars here… aaah, I see. That’s what the power armor was for.
They must have decided to use electricity instead of wasting mana. Maybe the reason why I felt like this place was generating less power was because they were using it in their power armor.
As I busied myself in my thoughts, soldiers equipped from head to toes ran toward me from the other end of the corridor.
“No digital equipment! Aim with your eyes!”
“—target confirmed! It’s the bunny girl! No. 13!”
“Shit! The damned demon’s come here again!”
‘Demon’, I see… I was indeed one, but it sounded less like they knew what I was and more like someone devout was just cursing me.
The soldiers fired their magic assault rifles, filling the hallway with enchanted bullets. Magic weapons might have been able to hurt me the last time I came here with just ten thousand combat power, but now? It just felt like they were throwing peas at me.
Anyway, so I’d been so careful to keep my identity hidden, but I never expected I’d be revealed like this. It was honestly a bit depressing.
Fine then. I thought it was about time anyway. I’d cut their communication, so it’d probably take a bit of time before the information spread, I thought, trying to console myself.
I didn’t need to hold back any longer. I blew mist of extreme cold at them, freezing the bullets that filled the hallway and the soldiers all at once.