Human's oldest fear is the fear of unknown.
Thus, they try to find out everything.
"Ignorance is bliss" to some,
"Knowing is everything" to most.
But, do you really want to know everything?
The secret, dark secret of the world?
The secret file of the universe?
I know more than you. About this dark secret.
The unknown fact that ties the humanity together.
The unknown thing which shall never be known.
Secret File - Code Ouroboros
Fake - Don't Believe What You See
By Absol Fimbulvetr
It was a dark night. The cloud was covering the moon while I was walking to my home. The only source of light available was from the street lamps lining up along the street. I looked at my watch. 10:00 PM. It was late night when the student council meeting is over. Fortunately, tomorrow is Sunday, so I'll have the entire day to rest.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Seth Rosenwell. Eighteen years old, high school student, looking for purpose in life. I'm just your average guy, nothing more and nothing less. Oh, I also have a sister, and she is sixteen years old.
I am studying science. It is a subject which explains the nature of things, how things work, how they won't work, and how to fix them. That being said, I don't believe in monsters. Or demons. Or whatever. They are all lies. Only stupid people believe in whatever things cannot be explained by science. I mean, seriously? Vampire? Werewolf? Those are folklore monsters. Surely, they don't exist?
So, naturally, I don't believe on what I'm seeing right now. It must be an optical illusion, like those in TV prank shows to fool their "victim". Or maybe it's a person in costume going home after a movie shooting. Or a hallucination, because I tend to have it whenever I'm exhausted, which is the case right now. Or whatever. Whatever but the real thing.
Because there is a monster right in front of me.
It was a werewolf. Like those seen in television. Seven feet high, bulky body covered with bluish fur, long claw, and that line of canine in its mouth. It was taller than me, armed with its claws. And it roared. I heard the loud noise and felt the vibration in the air. And, though my instinct said I was in grave danger, I stood still, freezing in place. Not even a muscle allowed me to move.
Well, damn. This is because of that stupidly long student council meeting.
The werewolf approached me slowly. I felt a shiver running down my spine whenever I heard its low growl. And I froze in place, even when it raised its claw and slashed down, right on my chest. Then, he stopped. I looked down, only to see a red spot on my chest, and collapsed.
And that's how my life ended. Or at least, I thought so.
Where am I?
When I woke up, I was lying in a bed. I looked at my surroundings. I've never been here before, but this room looks like a hospital room with its all white atmosphere.
That's strange. I thought I was dead, and someone would have found my body on the street. But instead, I found myself awake in an unknown room. And when I looked on my chest, I noticed the slashing wound was heavily bandaged. The wound still ached, but at least it had stopped bleeding. Apparently, I survived. Isn't that a good thing?
There was a clock on my bedside that said 03:00 AM. Five hours after the attack. Someone must have found me unconscious and took me to the hospital. How nice of him.
I heard two people talking behind the door, and focused myself to listen to them. Okay, so maybe it was overhearing, but still. I had no clue on what actually happen other than the hard-to-explain werewolf thing.
"He should be awake by now. I want to check his condition now," a girl's voice said, somewhat concerned.
"Don't disturb him yet, Fraulein. He's a civilian, and probably his first demonic attack too. The aftereffect of the Ether should be gone when morning comes," a heavier, presumably a man's voice, said.
"What do you think about recruiting him to DSA?" the girl continued. "He was attacked by a Lycanthrope. Now he knows the existence of demons."
Lycanthrope? DSA? Demons? Wait, so it wasn't a dream or illusion? Like, real werewolf? Nah, it couldn't be. I'm still at that television prank show. They will show up at any moment from the door and then, "Surprise! You're fooled!" Ugh. I hate those shows.
"Very well," the man replied. "Ask him to join, but only after he has fully recovered. Let him rest for several more hours."
I heard a footstep. The man, I assumed the doctor, was walking away from my room. Not long after, the girl opened the door and entered the room. She looked at me and went to my bedside, taking a chair nearby and sat on it.
"Uh, hello," I said.
She smiled gently. "So you're awake," she replied calmly.
"Yeah, I am. Fortunately, or unfortunately. I'm not in heaven, am I?" I asked.
"You? Heaven?" she laughed. "I think I've just dragged you out from your heaven and send you back to the earth then. You were dead, medically, for ten minutes before I revived you."
"You are kidding me," I stared at her.
"I'm not," she stared back at me with serious look on her face.
"This must be a television prank show," I insisted. "Just show me the crew and let me go home."
"I told you, I'm not kidding," she said. "You were killed by a Lycanthrope, but we helped you. And so, you live."
"I don't believe you," of course.
The girl sighed as she leaned back on her chair. "Whatever. You'll see later."
I looked away from her to look at the surroundings. "Where am I?" I asked.
"DSA Headquarter, nursery room," she simply said.
"And what's this DSA you've been talking?" I asked again.
"Why, Demon Slayer Association, of course. What else?" she asked back, as if everyone should have known that already.
"I told you, cut that out," I said, not amused.
"Just take your rest. We'll talk later."
07:00 AM. That was what the clock said when I woke up again this day. After talking with a girl earlier this morning, I went back to sleep. And just now, I woke up. The girl from earlier was sleeping on the chair in my room. Maybe she's tired from watching over me? Who knows?
She moved a bit before opening her eyes. She stretched and moaned, then she looked at fully-awaken me.
"So," I started. "The sleeping princess has woken up."
"And the wounded prince has recovered, I see," she joked.
I laughed when I heard her. "Hey, I haven't got your name," I said.
"Shouldn't I ask you yours first?" she asked. "Anyway, my name is Julianne. Just call me Julie."
"I'm Seth. Pleased to meet you," I said to her as I held out my hand towards her.
"Oh, no, the pleasure is all mine," she replied as she shook my hand. "Since you're awake, can I take you on a tour around DSA base?"
"You mean, you are not from television prank show?" I asked again.
"When will you cut that out?" the girl said as she crossed her arms, clearly not amused by my question. "We are real organization, battling real demons. Take a tour with me if you still don't believe."
Huh. That's a good argument. Well then, I'll have a look.
She smiled, pleased that she won the argument. "Well then, I'll change first. Wait here, okay?"
She left the room before I could say anything.
I stood up and looked around the room. A closet? I guess I'll change too. This pajama is not exactly the best outfit to take a walk on this so-called DSA base, either way. I opened the closet and picked some random clothes to wear. Why would they have a closet in a nursery room escapes me, but it's indeed convenient.
I ended up wearing a shirt and brown pants. Not too bad, I guess. This will be just fine if what I want is just a little walk around this DSA base. It's not that big, right?
Julie went back to the room after she got changed. Wow, that's fast. But this means we'll have more time to walk around, so I guess it's a good thing.
Anyway, have I described Julie to you? No? I'll describe then.
She looked just around the same age as I am. She has beautiful black hair tied in a ponytail. And she had sapphire blue eyes. She was wearing a white shirt and blue jeans, very casual despite her claim that she was a DSA member. With that outfit, no one would take the job "demon Slayer" seriously. But it seems like she is indeed a demon Slayer. I noticed a black armband on her right arm, embedded with four golden stars. Maybe it's a sign of something, but I'm not sure.
"Are you ready? This will be a long walk," she said to me.
"Ready when you are," I replied.
"Well then, let's go."
She dragged my hand, and we walked out of this room.
"This is the main lobby," Julie said.
We were standing in a big room, with many paths leading out from it. There was a receptionist desk there, just beside the elevator. In this room, there were many desks and chairs, and many people were sitting while chatting with their friends or checking things with their electronic equipment.
Julie pointed at one of the paths, the one we came from. "That's where we're from. The hospital sector," she explained. "And that's where the warehouse is. There is a weapon shop there."
"Weapon shop?" I asked.
"Yes, weapon shop," she repeated, confused.
"So you do slay demons then..." I concluded. Interesting.
"Geez, you think?" she narrowed her eyes as she eyed me accusingly.
"Uh, never mind," I said nervously.
So this DSA thing is real, and there are real demons out there. Huh. I expected myself to be tricked, but apparently, it's the reality who has been tricking me these years. Oh well.
Julie stared at me a bit more before she looked around. "That's the laboratory, just near the weapon shop. That's the administration office," she said as she pointed to more paths.
I nodded. "Okay, we should go and check around."
"Well then. We'll start from the warehouse first," Julie suggested.
"This is the warehouse. Or to be precise, our weapon shop," Julie said. "Well, they store the weapon in the same place as they sell it, so it's a warehouse and a weapon shop."
We were in front of the armory. It looked like a normal shop, except this shop only displayed weapons on the racks.
"So this is the store where they sell weapons?" I asked.
"Most of which have a high quality, yes," Julie nodded her head.
"I can guarantee the quality of our products," a heavy voice behind me said.
We both turned around and saw a man there. A black-haired, brown-eyed man. He looked like a war veteran, though he clearly was still very young to be one. Seeing his military outfit, I thought he was the authority around here.
"The name's Mehmet. I'm the shopkeeper around here. And you?" the man asked me.
"I'm Seth. Nice to meet you," I replied.
"So Julie, seems like you find another candidate eh?" Mehmet said to Julie.
"I don't know," Julie shrugged. "He has yet to confirm."
"Well Seth, you better not disappoint such a young lady, okay?" he said before entering his armory.
I stood there for a while. "What was that about?" I finally said.
"Don't know. He's a bit weird indeed," she replied. "Next place."
"Aren't we going to enter?" I asked her.
"No. There are still many places to enter," Julie said as she shook her head. "That shop is just usual shop."
Yeah, if you count a weapon shop as "usual shop"...
"The lab is here," Julie said as we stopped in front of a room.
The room had a wide glass pane to see what's going on in the other side. Several people were working there, examining things and experimenting.
"Why would they have a lab here?"
"Demon research," Julie said. "For example, to find the demon's weakness, to analyze demon samples, or to find out how to kill the Legion."
"Legion is the demon leaders. They are immortal, and so, we've been researching stuff on how to kill them permanently," Julie explained.
Now that doesn't sound right. "Immortal?"
"Immortal," she nodded. "You can destroy their body, but not their soul."
I fell silent. Okay, this is more complicated than I thought.
"Never imagine that, huh?" Julie smirked at my puzzled look.
"Honestly, no," I slowly said. "Oh well. I'm new here, I'll see more things."
"Well, that's the basics. Let's get you registered," Julie said, changing the subject.
"Registered?" I asked again.
"Don't you want to go out there and blast them all?" Julie asked back. "Or do you just want to stay silent, against this threat no one knows?"
I don't know. I feel, as long as I don't know these, I'm safe, secure in my world. But actually? There are big threats out there. Demons. Innocent people might be killed off, like I was attacked earlier. But still, do I have to join?
"You don't have to, if you don't want to," Julie said. "We can just erase your memory, and you can return to your peaceful life."
Yes, that sounds appealing. But no. Maybe I just want to be a hero, maybe I just want to be special. Or maybe, just maybe, I just want to have a purpose.
"I guess I'm in," I decided. I won't stand still, now that I know that demons do exist.
"Good," she smiled. "I'll register you now. Next stop: administration office!"
Julie took my hand and started walking to the office.
Our last stop, I assumed. The administration office. We were standing in front of a door, which somehow gave me an office-y aura. Which was probably not surprising, considering that the administrative office was just behind this door.
Julie knocked the door. "It's me," she said. "I bring a new recruit."
"Just come in, Julie," a girl's voice from inside said.
Julie opened the door and walked in. I followed her, walking to the office. There was a girl working in front of a computer there. I assume she was the secretary here.
I approached her. "Hello, I'm the new recruit, and if it's possible, I would like to-" I stopped my words as she looked at me.
She was staring at me. I stared back at her. Silence ensued as we both stared at each other.
"So, I would like to-" I was about to say something when she interrupted me.
"Welcome to DSA, cutie!" she gleefully smiled at me. I was taken aback with that reaction.
The girl giggled, seeing my surprised reaction. "Oh, sorry for that. My name's Jessica, what's yours?" she asked.
"I'm Seth. I want to register here," I introduced myself.
"Here," she handed me a registration form. "Fill it in, and I'll do the rest," she smiled again and winked at me before going back to her work.
Julie threw herself up to a couch nearby. "That's my friend, Jessica. She's the secretary. She handles all administrative work, mainly recruitment," she said as she waved a hand to Jessica.
I took a seat across Jessica and started filling it in. While filling it, I glanced at Julie. She was lying on the couch behind me, reading a magazine from a table nearby. What a relaxing office this is. Not often can you see casual atmosphere inside an office.
I wrote a few more details before I signed the form. There, finished. I handed it to Jessica. She read it quickly, making sure everything was filled correctly.
"Wow, cute signature for cute boy eh?" Jessica teased me, making this awkward situation on me.
"Don't mind her. It's her hobby to tease boys," Julie indifferently said.
Jessica pouted at her before going back to the form. "I'll fill it in. Wait a minute,"
Jessica took the form with her and continued working. I leaned back, waiting for my registration to be finished. As she continued her work, I looked on Jessica. She's quite beautiful, I must admit. She looks like a professional secretary. Well, she is a secretary, so she should look like one.
Want some details? Here. She wore a white blouse and a black skirt. On her head, she wore a big white ribbon, matched perfectly with the twintails she tied her hazelnut hair into. Her legs were wrapped in silky black stockings and black shoes, which she sometimes tapped to the floor as she typed. Her brown eyes were following the words on the screen as she typed in the data needed to get me in. I unconsciously blushed at the mere thought of her.
"Feasting your eyes on me eh?" Jessica gave me a seductive smile, which surprised me.
I looked away from her, trying to calm myself down from getting too excited.
"N-no," I muttered. Well, I did, but could I say "yes"? That would be indecent.
Silence passed as I waited patiently for my registration to be completed.
"Oh, right," Jessica broke the silence. "Julie, can you give our cutie here the starter pack?" she asked.
Julie put the magazine she was reading down. "Sure."
She walked to a cabinet and opened it. There, she took out a big white box with a text on it. "Starter Pack", it said. Makes you wonder what's inside, eh?
She gave the box to me. "Open it and I'll explain," she instructed.
I opened the box, and took out what's inside. There were four things in the box: an armband, a cellphone-like device, a night coat, and a blank card.
"Allow me to explain," Julie said as she walked up to my side, taking the black armband. "This is what we call Mark Armband. You will wear this in a mission, or when you're in the headquarter. This shows others your Slayer Level, which is the skill level you have."
"I see," I simply said. "And you're a... Level Four? Looking from the number of stars you have."
"Yes, and you are a Level One. Jessica, give me a star," she said to Jessica, who then proceeded to give her a golden star.
Julie pinned the star on my Mark. "There. Wear it," she instructed.
I took the armband from her and wore it on my arm.
She took a device from the box. "This is a Navigator," she explained. "Put it simply, this is our exclusive phone, only working at our network. This will be useful for you. You can buy things using it, phone and text, and look up our exclusive network."
"So it's basically a smartphone," I simplified her explanation.
"Well, I guess you could say so," she nodded. "Next, this. This is a night coat," she took the coat.
I waited for further explanation.
"This is a night coat," Julie repeated. I waited again.
"And?" I finally asked.
"Ah, I get it," Julie said as she held her laughter. "You think this is something special, don't you? This is just a normal night coat. We included it in the starter pack because most missions take place in the night, and not everyone have a night coat. Consider this a bonus."
Eh, of course I thought it's something special too. But oh well.
Julie took a card from the box and gave it to Jessica. "Print the data," she said.
Jessica took the card from her and continued working on her work. As for Julie, she sat down on the couch she was before. I took a seat too on her side. Soon, Jessica gave me the card back. It looked like an ID card now.
"It's an ID card," Julie said. "Like your normal ID card, except that this is used inside DSA only. It can also serve as your access card, and can be used for payment in DSA."
"Oh," I muttered.
I looked at the card I've just gotten. Name: Seth Rosenwell. Members of DSA. Profession: Slayer. Level: 1. Guild: Red Crow?
"What is Red Crow?" I asked.
"It's the name of the guild I'm leading. Slayers are usually affiliated to a guild and work together finishing missions, though there are Slayers who don't want to be in any guild," she explained.
I looked back to the card. And that's all, I guess.
"Well, that's the basics. Now you're registered!" Julie announced.
"Thank you to you two, I guess," I said.
"Well cutie, you can sleep with me tonight to show your gratitude," Jessica playfully said, which made my face felt hot in an instant.
"Don't listen to her, she's a pervert," Julie advised me. "Come now, we will get you a room," she walked out of the office. I followed her behind.
"See you around, cutie!" Jessica waved a hand at me, which I replied with an awkward smile before leaving the office.
When Julie said "room", she meant "an apartment unit in the Empire Apartment", which, as we know, is very expensive. Now how do I pay for that? "Don't worry" she said. "It's free" or so. Huh.
DSA base is located under the Empire Apartment, the biggest apartment in Sector 5. I guess this work as a camouflage. We could get in to the base using the elevator, but you need the ID card as the key. So, not everyone can enter freely, only us DSA members.
"This is where you'll live now," Julie said. "Empire Apartment. Owned by the biggest real estate company in the world, the Empire Corp., which also funds our operation."
I never expect a big company to fund an underground operation this big. Especially one that operates internationally. But eh, what do I know? Certainly neither demons nor DSA.
"The receptionist is also a member. Show the card and she'll give you an empty room to use," Julie further explained.
I walked up to the receptionist and showed her my ID card. "I'm a new recruit, and I want to get a room," I said.
The girl gave me a room key. "Room 505 is on the 5th floor, one block to the left from the floor lounge. Thank you," she bowed at me after explaining things.
I walked back to Julie and showed her the key. She took it and checked the room number.
"Your room is in the same block with mine. Let's check it out," she said as she returned the key to me.
"Room 505" was written on the door in front of me. So this is my room, I guess. I took the key and unlocked the door. I took a peek inside. It was dark. I flipped the light switch to my left and entered the room with Julie following me behind.
"What a nice room here," I said.
In this room, I get a double bed, a closet, desk... Is that a bathroom in my room? Nice.
"Every Slayer gets a room like this," Julie explained. "Your deluxe facility. Try to feel at home here," she said before trying my bed.
I sat on the edge of the bed, thinking of all these events that happened today.
"Hey," I said to her. "Is being a Slayer feels good?" I asked out of curiosity.
True, I haven't tried it myself, and being a Slayer sounds exciting, as it finally give me a purpose. Something no one else can experience. But, you know, there's always a risk of losing your life. And such.
"Hmm? I never thought of that. I just do things for my life. Nothing else," she stared at the sky through the opened window as she talked to me.
"I guess so," I said. "I've done things for my life too, sometimes without a strong reason. I just do what I have to. But now, I choose to do what I want."
"You mean, joining DSA?"
"Yeah," I lied down on the bed, looking at her. "My mom wanted me to go to university, but I just wanted to finish this high school and do whatever I want. To have a purpose in life."
"You can make a living out of slaying demons," she advised. "You already got a job here."
I closed my eyes, imagining how things would go out. "Yeah. I think I already got a very interesting job here."
I opened my eyes after a while. Did I fall asleep? I guess so. I looked at the orange sky, which told me that I've fallen asleep for about 5 hours or so. The sun was about to set. I looked to my side. Julie wasn't there. She must have left while I was sleeping. I got up and sat on my bed. As I looked around, I noticed something on the table. It was a note.
I picked the note up. "Seth, get ready for your first mission. Room 502 is my room. Be there tomorrow at 8 PM."
So tomorrow will be my first mission. I better be ready by then. Maybe this is my purpose in life, who knows?
I continued reading. "You should go home and talk to your family to allow you to move here. Don't mention anything about demons or DSA."
Oh, right. I haven't been home for almost 24 hours. Mom must be worried about me.
Well, I'll arrange everything, eventually. Now I have to go home. I stood up and went out of my room. I locked it before I left the apartment, through the elevator and out from the main gate. I started walking to my home, thinking on what explanation I should give.
Finally, I'm home. I opened the door to my house and entered it.
"I'm home," I announced loudly while taking my shoes off and putting it in the shelf.
My sister ran down to see me. "Brother, where were you? Mom will be very mad at you for leaving without permission."
I sighed. "I know, I know. I'll talk to her now."
My sister went upstairs to her room without any words. I just walked to the living room, where my mom had waited for me.
My mom glared at me. "You're late," she was clearly trying to suppress her emotion. "Mind to give an explanation?"
"I can explain everything," I said. I took a deep breath before I started. "This is what happened..."