[Volume 1: Devils and Death]
His life-long friend's body was rotten and shambling among the mass of other zombies. The laughter of the zombie devil rang out once more, "Come out! I'll have you yet, you fearsome devil you! Hahaha!"
The groaning of the zombies followed as they searched for their prey. Though they were weak, Pochita was far from his prime and their numbers were many.
In the past such a lowly devil would have been no problem, but times have changed. He was no longer the fearsome chainsaw man of old and his best friend's body was torn away from him before he could possess it and realise his promise. The dreams of the young boy, the dreams that he so loved to hear of, were now gone, dead and shambling.
Soon he would end up back in hell, as any devil would upon death, and lose all sense of self once more. Oh how little did functional immortality mean when you as a person still perished. Perhaps it was more of a curse, to lose oneself over and over again, one put on his kind by the deity that they once betrayed.
Alas, the reddish, dog-like devil could only shiver in the corner as the undead hunted him. All hope seemed to be lost, but perhaps there was yet a glimmer on the horizon? Was there a way to at the very least bring woe upon those foolish enough to cross him?
Yes, indeed there was.
However, for such a gambit, to take revenge on the devils that had wronged him, he would need to erase what was left of himself. Some upstart devil embodying the fear of chainsaws would take his place, but it wouldn't be the chainsaw man; it would lack his unique ability.
Yet a balance would have to be maintained, another would take his place. And so, Pochita decided to roll the dice of fate once more, as a spiteful act of revenge that would change the very world. For why have some foolish devil take his power when he himself could summon his harbinger of death?
His chainsaw revved and fresh blood stained the ground. The zombies came forth for him, but it would make no difference. He manifested his former power for the final time, like a brilliant star during a supernova, and he offered one last prayer to the God that so despised his kind, to bring someone who could avenge him.
But those that stood against him were powerful. After all, the stronger the fear, the stronger the devil. Conquest. War. Pestilence. Death. The four horsemen, embodying some of mankind's greatest fears. Some of them were primordial fears that had never known defeat.
What greater fear was there than that of the unknown that death represented? Who could ever hope to match them?
Yet, a devil embodying death was far from the concept itself. He was a pitiful representation of the human psyche, not the reaper himself. But… perhaps that was the key. What could stand against primordial fears except a primordial part of reality itself?
And what form could be more appropriate than the goal of all life?
And what greater and more faithful manifestation of death was there than a Supreme Being?
[Chapter 1: A New Job]
"Ah, it truly has been fun." Momonga said to no one in particular, the lines of code in the form of the NPCs in front of him possessing no ability to react to his words. They, along with the base he now resided in, were the crowning achievement of his career in the game. The impenetrable Great Tomb of Nazarick and its deadly NPCs. But even they could not stand against time.
YGGDRASIL would shut down in just a few minutes and all of this would be gone, relegated only to his memory.
He counted down the last few flags and recalled the names that once chose the templates embedded on them, "Punitto Moe, you clever devil." Momonga chuckled as the memory of the brutal and cunning death vine priest came to him. In a battle of wits and strategy, the man truly had had no equal; his prowess in striking terror in guild mates that didn't pay attention during meetings was also notable.
Next in line was the flag of a certain fallen angel, "Ah, Luci*fer. I pray that flag doesn't turn out to be a mimic and attack me. At that point I'd be angry." he muttered, remembering the prankster's antics in vivid detail and shuddering.
The skeletal finger of his avatar moved along to the final flag, the one of perhaps their most infamous member, "Ulbert. I wonder how you're doing, Ainz Ooal Gown's very own satan." Even Touch Me, who was a world champion and one of the most powerful players in all of YGGDRASIL, didn't strike as much fear into enemies as Ulbert.
Whether it was because of the man's evil RP, ruthless PK methods, sheer destructive ability, or due to his hacking skills, Momonga didn't know. Still, at the heart of the Demon of Calamity had laid a man who simply wished for a better world and lashed out, unable to create one in reality.
"Maybe I'll see you again, somewhere." Momonga said, closing his eyes and leaning back into the [Throne of Kings].
The timer in the top right ticked down to midnight.
But the end, as inevitable as it seemed, appeared to be at the very least delayed. The UI disappeared and the scenery changed. Where once was the pristine throne room of Nazarick, made of immaculate onyx and marble, there now was a rundown building that had not seen care in decades or more.
Yet the more surprising part was the presence of low-level zombies. Momonga quickly dismissed the abnormalities in the HUD as typical shitty coding and instead said, "Man, to teleport me at the last minute to some starter area without any cool send off. Shitty devs… Though that one zombie does look pretty cool."
Among the mass of shambling corpses floated a limbless torso, with the brain exposed where the neck would usually be and a face around half-way down the chest.
"I guess that's pretty cool to see. Maybe an unused design for something? Doesn't seem to be of a decent level though. Shame." Momonga said, walking through the mass of zombies that ignored him thanks to his undead constitution.
"I'll show you a decent level! What the hell are you anyway?! Where did that chainsaw devil go!?" it called out, it's already contorted face shifting further in confusion and rage.
"Oooh. Custom dialogue? Not bad, devs, not bad at all. Let's see just how well you've prepared. [Dominate Undead]." He pointed at the creature and felt his grip on its mind solidify. Undead were immune to all mind control, except for the necromantic type.
The creature's expression turned into a neutral one that could have very well been called emotionless, though it didn't make it any easier on the eyes. With the creature under his control, he felt his grasp extend to the other zombies in the area as well.
"Ah, so it was controlling them as well. Is this like the zombie version of a lich? No wonder they scrapped it." Momonga said, walking up closer to it. "Let's see if it has anything more to say programmed in it. Hopefully I'm not booted out before things get interesting. What are you?" Momonga asked the creature.
"I am the zombie devil, master." it replied, the glassy eyes of its face gazing at Momonga.
"A zombie devil? Yeah, I've certainly not heard of one of these… Hmm, in which world of YGGDRASIL are we?" asked Momonga, hoping that maybe he could visit some unfinished areas as well before the server completely shut down.
"YGGDRASIL? Master, I'm not sure I understand. We are on Earth." answered the zombie devil, its rotten visage twisting and contorting in its confusion.
"Oooh! Did they make Earth and scrap it? I wonder from what year? Maybe mediaeval or ancient eras? Must be, since anything after those would be kinda weird to have devils in. This must be like a scrapped DLC." Momonga said, walking to and fro as he monologued to himself, a habit developed after his friends moved on from the game, "Maybe the armour of the zombies will clue me in."
"Line up." Momonga said to the zombies, the NPCs obeying the preprogrammed command, meaning that the bugged UI, or lack thereof, wasn't really a problem, "Alright, let's see."
The first corpse in line was a woman. She wore what appeared to be some old fashioned… jeans? Ripped jeans? On a zombie? In YGGDRASIL?
"Hmm, weird. Maybe another gag by the devs." Momonga said, turning his gaze upward and beyond the waist. What awaited him was greenish skin characteristic of zombies, with the occasional missing pieces of flesh that let him see the muscles under the skin.
It all seemed to be typical, until he looked at the chest of the zombie. Her ripped up shirt clearly put on display, well, everything.
In the corporate hell of the 22nd century, such a thing in a VR game would bankrupt a company in a matter of months thanks to the extremely strict laws concerning nudity. Even outfits considered risky were avoided, lest the devs decide to hand out a ban just in case.
The shock hit him with the force of a nuclear warhead, but a greenlight quickly engulfed him and rendered the mental assault moot.
"What?" Momonga asked himself, his thought process now controlled and methodical, "Wait… Emotional control. Wasn't this a thing in the lore of some undead?"
He gazed once more at the exposed chest of the zombie in front of him, no hint of desire in his bones, "I suppose there is only one way to test my hypothesis."
All the signs pointed to just one conclusion, that he was flung into this world in his in-game avatar, powers and all. He poked the chest of the undead in front of him and was not booted back to his cramped apartment, causing his anxiety to spike to the heavens, only to be quelled just as quickly.
His mind quickly turned to the most important thing a YGGDRASIL player could acquire, information. "What year is it? Are there more like you? Are they all as weak as you?" He began bombarding the floating torso with questions, and it tried its best to answer.
"Master, sadly, I don't know what year it is; I only recently appeared on Earth. I'm the zombie devil, but there are more devils, some stronger, some weaker." it said, hoping to not be useless despite its limited knowledge.
"Fine, so what is it you can tell me?" Momonga asked, trying to make himself seem authoritative and mentally cataloguing the little information he was offered, 'So those like him are devils first and whatever else later? Curious.'
"I'm afraid I can only give the basics. We devils hate humans, and the humans have devil hunters that try to kill us. I hate them. I'll drink all of their blood! I still can't believe some devils form contracts with them. Disgusting." the zombie devil said, rage painting its green face.
'So humans dominate this world, since he didn't mention other races, and they aren't entirely averse to devils… Maybe I could make my appearance work. And this one at least seems to drink blood.'
He looked around the room and analysed the appearance of some of the other zombies. A few of them had suits on and had, by Momonga's standards, primitive guns. 'If Genjiro's ranting is anything to go by, those guns are something from around the beginning of the 21st century? Maybe a bit earlier?'
Once more, the seemingly useless knowledge his friends had once bestowed upon him now proved itself to be useful. But a world filled with devils could have developed much differently. The place he was in could very well be the last human settlement!
Alas, there was only one way to truly learn of this world, and that was to interact with the locals. Naturally, the devil hunters seemed like an excellent group to aim for.
He could either gauge their power if it came down to a fight, which judging by the strength of his current devil would hopefully not be unmanageable, or he could negotiate. If they were willing to make deals with devils, then why not make a deal with a courteous and gentlemanly skeleton such as himself?
"But how do I make a good first impression?" Momonga asked himself, reaching up to the pointy chin of his overlord body, before quickly turning to the zombie devil. If he possessed facial muscles, a wicked grin would have appeared on his visage.
With a mental command, he sent several zombies outside. With the bait slowly shambling outside, now it was time to set the stage. Ainz was no showman, but he had a fair bit of RP experience.
"Time to channel my inner Ulbert." he said, magic flickering to life in his skeletal hand.
The rusted, metal door swung open and the light of the sun illuminated the room. Yet it didn't dare creep in far, as if afraid of what was in there. The three figures stared at the sight, their expressions carefully controlled.
From the ceiling hung filled with black flame, dancing like they were chasing the souls of the damned. In the centre, illuminated by the forbidden magics, was a small mountain of rotten corpses. Evidently, these were zombies, just like the ones from before.
Near the summit of this grotesque monument lay the corpse of the zombie devil. It was by no means an impressive specimen, but the numbers that were on display meant that it wasn't an amateur who committed this slaughter.
And indeed, it was far from a young hunter that was responsible. "Enjoying my work?" came the deep voice from the very peak.
Above the corpses of the poor fools who were turned into flesh puppets sat a creature that chilled even the three figures to their very core. A skeleton of pure white bones, clad in robes weaved from the chaotic symphony of the void, stared at them with its red, flaming eyes.
It sat on a magnificent throne of obsidian, stretching into the darkness above. It toyed with the head of the zombie devil, eventually tossing it at the feet of the hunters.
"Permission to engage?" asked the masculine figure on the right. Few, if any, of their features were visible, the rest covered by a black and white suit, as well as a fedora. Just like the other figure, they resembled the stereotypical men in black.
The two men in black flanking the central figure lifted their guns and pointed at the devil that sat there, awaiting their leader's command.
But the curious individual in the centre, who appeared to be a beautiful woman with light red hair in a white shirt, black pants and with a black tie, lifted her hands and forced the two to lower their firearms, "Denied." she said.
Some words about being familiar though different reached the Overlord, but he dismissed them as some irrelevant detail.
The woman took a step forward, bowing slightly before the undead creature, "Indeed. I have to say, you did an excellent job, Sir…?" A pleasant smile was on her face, despite the rotting stench that filled the room.
Her eyes were filled with kindness and her voice was as honeyed as the sweetest of poisons, but the Overlord was no fool.
'A businesswoman, a good one at that. Hmm, this won't make negotiations easy, but it seems she's a hunter; if initial reactions are anything to go by.'
"Ainz Ooal Gown, though I have many titles. I see you have good taste, Miss…?" he countered, channelling both his RP and business experience to the fullest. Being a salaryman turned undead turned out to have its perks.
"Makima, just Makima, Sir Gown. I'm of the Public Safety Devil Hunter's Special Division 4. If I may ask, you do not seem to be an average devil. Your scent, or rather lack thereof, is quite noticeable." she said, tapping her nose.
"Perceptive, though I recommend you shy away from comparing me to the lowly devils you know. I am far from such simple creatures. Back in my old adventures, even the most powerful of their kind were cannon fodder." Ainz said, waving his hand and dismissing the disgust such creatures brought to him.
"I meant no disrespect." Makima said before continuing, "But I believe I may have an offer that interests you." She put her hands behind her back and tilted her head slightly. The gesture was enchanting, but the charms of a corporate agent would not fool Ainz.
"Then elaborate, though I wonder if you have anything to offer that I do not have." Ainz answered, reaching into his inventory and taking out random ingots of precious, by Earth's standards, metals, such as gold and platinum.
"Well, my special division in fact has no aversion to hiring devils, whether for contracts or as hunters. Perhaps you would like to join?" she asked, her pleasant smile ever present.
"You were right, it is an interesting idea, but how would that arrangement benefit me? My immense power does not come cheap." Ainz said, his deep voice reverberating across the enclosed space.
"We offer good pay, full benefits, and you wouldn't be hunted by us as a devil." said the huntress, her smile widening.
"Oh? And you think I would be worried about the insects of this world hunting me? I could take that as a threat, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt and say it was simply a bad jest. Unless… you are serious?" Ainz asked, leaning forward from his mountain of corpses.
"Who can say? Take it as you will." the woman answered, not budging.
The doors slammed closed behind the three figures and the flames in the braziers burnt in a frenzied pattern as darkness engulfed the room. A cold, sinister aura enveloped the area and Ainz's voice took on a lethal edge, though his motions remained calm and collected.
"My patience is not as limitless as my might; remember that." On the surface, Makima offered him no reaction, a commendable feat. Yet, he spied a slight shiver in her hand as she grabbed her wrist with her other hand. It seemed that even she wasn't able to suppress the dread from his aura entirely.
"I will, and I apologise. In that case, what is it you would like? If it is within my power, then I will offer it." she said, adjusting her attitude. Her previous attempt at establishing dominance having failed, she switched to the secondary business strategy of appeasement.
'Man, this really is just like my corporate world. How little times change I guess.' he thought.
"I believe there is something you can offer. Information. I only recently arrived in this world and it'd be a shame to not learn of it." Ainz said, trying to mask his complete ignorance in vague wording.
"So you have only recently manifested from hell?" asked Makima, tilting her head curiously.
"Bah! I already told you to not compare me to the devils of this world! For me, jumping between worlds is as simple as breathing is to humans. My time here can be called a vacation, though a few days away for me can very well be eternity for mortals." Ainz bluffed, hoping his lie was at least passable.
It seemed to indeed be so as Makima nodded, saying, "I see. In that case, all the resources of my department and any I can offer will be at your disposal. In that case, will you work for me? This comes with the aforementioned benefits, of course."
Ainz shook his head the way a king might in front of his foolish jester, "There is a fundamental misunderstanding here. I will not be working for you, I will be working with you. Think of me as an independent agent who will cooperate, nothing more. I know well of how bureaucracies run, and I hardly would want to bind myself to a place run by a devil."
'Not like most of these devils have anything on some of my previous bosses, but this girl seems pretty ruthless as well. Better to be firm here while I have some leverage, rather than have to kill her later.'
For a moment so short that even calling it an instant would have been an exaggeration, Makima's eyes widened and her mouth opened like that of a koi fish. Shock painted over her previous calm and collected expression, but it soon was suppressed and she cleared her throat.
"In that case, it'll be a pleasure to have you on board, Special Agent Ainz Ooal Gown."
Ainz gazed at his surroundings through the sapphire eyes of his mask of envy. Makima asked him to cover up his appearance and the mask served perfectly well, although the reminder of the brutal blow the devs had dealt to everyone's self esteem that night was not.
Combined with velvet, dark purple gloves, he looked like a very eccentric, over two metre tall man. But even then the people around him only offered him curious looks before moving on. The uniform of the Public Safety Devil Hunters must have commanded a lot of trust and respect, as nobody questioned them as Makima led him towards their headquarters.
Aside from a run-in with a muscle devil that one of the accompanying agents took care of, the trip here was simple. Naturally, as Ainz got to know more of the city, teleportation would become his go-to method of transport.
Yet it was not the people who drew Ainz's eye, but the surroundings themselves. 'So this is how Tokyo looked in 1997.' Ainz thought, looking at the towering highrises and various advertisements. These things were only different by manner of technological sophistication to the counterparts of the 22nd century.
It was instead the trees and grass that they walked by that surprised Ainz. By no means was the city a carefully cultivated archology like the one Touch Me had lived in, but it was still surreal to see plant life on the streets of the city.
'Those give the city a much more pleasant shade of green than the pollution.' Ainz thought as he gazed at trees that were planted on the edges of the sidewalks, 'I need to go visit the forest and the mountains; those must be a sight to see.'
His musings were however interrupted by Makima, who was now pointing to an above average office building, "Welcome to our headquarters. Our floor is the 4th, hence the name. Follow me."
It's not like he knew the way himself and using a spell like [Blessing of Titania] for such a trivial thing would have been overkill, so he went after her.
The various suited up men and women in the office stared at Ainz at first with surprise, and then animosity. Apparently the surface identity of someone dressed in such a bizarre manner, and who was also led forward by Makima of all people, was pretty easy. 'Well, I'm not a devil, but it's not like they need to know that either.'
Compared to the office Ainz had worked in, this one had only slightly more colour, still being dominated by the greys and whites that corporate for some reason adored. Given that Ainz's massive pauldrons were a pain in the ass, they took the stairs to the fourth floor.
There, Makima led him to her office, briefly picking up her phone and calling someone over. After putting the archaic phone away, she looked at Ainz and asked, "So, any questions before I bring in someone to introduce you to the job?"
"Yes, actually. Is there a library or some sort of record that I could access when it comes to this organisation's history?" he asked. Information was key, and knowing exactly what got people in trouble with their superiors in the past would be a great boon.
"No need to worry about that, your senior will surely have some past files and cases they could share." she answered, leaning forward with a smile.
'Dodging the question? Times really don't change. Well, whatever. I just need to figure out if I'm the only player here. If I'm not then I'll have to be careful, and I'm sure Ulbert would be delighted to see actual devils if I ever manage to figure out summoning.'
'But… I guess there's no reason for me to try and make it back. Maybe I can figure out how to stop all that pollution, though I haven't been very good with tech. I could probably just use a Super Tier spell every once in a while and clear all of it. Then again, wouldn't that just let companies pollute without consequence? Aaaah, this is hard!'
A subtle green light covered him and his thought process returned to the tracks it previously abandoned, 'Okay, all of that can wait. For now I can hunt some devils and make some connections.'
As he finished his thought, the door to the enclosed office opened and promptly closed. A man of medium height entered the room and glanced from Makima to Ainz, offering a small sigh. His medium-length black hair was tied back into a topknot and his blue eyes made him out to be quite handsome. The sword on his back also didn't escape Ainz's notice.
'A sword? Wouldn't guns be more useful against devils? Odd.'
"Miss Makima." the man said, raising his hand in greeting, "What is it you called me for?"
She gestured to Ainz, who took initiative and stood up. He bowed towards the man, who undoubtedly was his senior in the devil hunting business, and said, "A pleasure to meet you. I am Ainz Ooal Gown, and I believe Miss Makima intends for you to show me the ropes around the company." Without even noticing, he slipped back into the mannerisms of his old office job.
The man raised an eyebrow and said, "Miss Makima, it's unlike you to assign someone reasonable as my buddy. I appreciate it, since my squad, and this division in general, are already a mess, but tell me what the catch is. Besides the weird clothing."
'Really? To comment about my sense of style on the first meeting like that? Not my fault it had good stats!'
"Well, there might be something you haven't noticed yet. Ainz, could you show him your face? You'll be working together from now on, so you should probably recognise each other on sight. His name is Aki Hayakawa by the way." Makima said.
"I doubt I'm easy to mistake for others." Ainz said, sighing and taking off his mask.
With the speed of a master swordsman, Aki's hand rested upon the grip of his blade and he drew it, pointing it at the mage's neck. "Another devil for the division? Could have warned me… What the hell are you even a devil of?" he asked, eyeing Ainz with open animosity.
"Mistaking me for a devil is quite sad. Isn't it obvious that I am undead?" Ainz asked, putting his gloved hand on the blade and slowly pushing it away.
"Devil of undeath? Hmph, you look scary enough, but barely anyone's scared of undeath. What a waste…" he said, his sword slowly withdrawing.
'He must be quite strong to be so confident, and that katana seems to have an enchantment… But why do I feel a vague undead presence from it? I doubt he'll just tell me, but it's worth a try.'
"Believe what you wish, but I recommend you don't underestimate my ability. For instance, I believe that blade of yours has an interesting ability, something to do with a devil that is undead, does it not?" he guessed, hoping to appear knowledgeable.
"Maybe you aren't useless after all, even if that's not entirely accurate. But if that's all you can do, then I doubt you'll survive long." Aki said, sheathing his blade, as if to conceal its power, "Anyway, Miss Makima, do you have a patrol route for us?"
She slid over a folder filled with various diagrams and said, "I do. Given Ainz's… unique brand of clothing, you will take areas that aren't very populated. In the worst case," she slid over a silver badge, "show them this. The cops will just mumble, sigh and then leave."
"Oh, before I forget, Ainz will stay at your apartment, Aki. You don't mind, right? Also, Ainz is designated as a Special Agent, so he technically is equal to me in rank and has no need to listen to either you or me. I'm sure he'll be reasonable though." Makima said, giving Aki a pleasant smile.
He faltered for a second, but his hatred of devils evidently surpassed whatever made him hesitate. Whether it was because Makima was typically reasonable, or because this was a bit much even for her, Ainz didn't know.
'Being so pretty probably makes it much easier to boss people around. No wonder corporate always sent in the prettiest managers for the quarterly reviews.' Ainz thought, lamenting the trap Aki had fallen into. Thankfully, he seemed to be now rather devoid of empathy and such feelings towards… anything really.
He didn't even bat an eye at the corpses the devil from before had reanimated, and Makima's appearance, while enticing, did not distract him as much as it undoubtedly would have if he still had flesh. Still, she certainly was easy on the eyes.
"Miss Makima! You're asking me to share my apartment with a devil!? And that he outranks me!?" To his near panicked exclamation, Makima simply nodded, as if it was the simplest thing in the world. Her eyes were truly merciless, and the rings that Ainz spied inside them only amplified that.
He decided to offer a helping hand to his coworker, knowing well of how painful dealing with a boss like this could be. Still, his offer was more of a hypothetical, rather than a true alternative.
"I could theoretically create my own accommodations, but people would start to ask why a mediaeval tower has appeared out of thin air. Unless you have the ability to silence such rumours?" Ainz asked, since back in his times a trick like that could be silenced entirely by one word from the higher-ups.
"We probably could manage that, but it's a needless waste of resources." Aki said, sighing, "Fine, you may stay. But it's about time we go on our patrol. Put on your mask and let's go." He headed towards the door and waved for Ainz to follow him.
'I hope he warms up after a while…'
"Why have you become a devil hunter, one that hunts your own kind? If you're so confident in your strength, then I see no reason to do so." Aki said out of the blue, interrupting the less than amicable silence that had been between the two for their entire patrol.
'At this point I should just stop denying that I'm a devil.' Ainz thought, tired of all the explanations that would most likely still be ignored. If undead didn't exist without devils, then why would people believe that he was the single exception?
"I suppose you can say it's a hobby of mine. Over many years, my friends and I hunted all manner of mythical creatures. Demons, angels, humans, elves. Now that I am on this escapade, I suppose I might as well continue that tradition." Ainz said.
"And you expect me to believe that? Elves and angels, like something out of a video game." scoffed Aki, marching forward, deciding to not poke fun at the idea of a devil having friends, lest he anger it and lose a valuable asset that Makima had acquired.
"It'd certainly make for an interesting, if unbalanced, one. But you live in a world with devils. As I understand, they represent fears, so why would angels who represent hopes not exist? In fact, I find it quite unlikely that they don't exist. If devils and hell exist, then so must angels and heaven." Ainz speculated.
He was by no means a theologist, but it was simply odd for him to have a world where devils exist but angels don't. Perhaps if he could breach the gates of heaven, he could learn what the truth was, but such lofty goals were best left for later.
In fact, Ainz was much happier without the existence of angels. Given his extremely low karma rating and specialisation in necromancy, they were much more troublesome as opponents than demons and devils. The three weaknesses of Ainz were fire, battering and holy damage. He could cover two of the three almost completely, but that left holy as the odd one out.
Fighting an army of angels, while undoubtedly something truly epic that his guild would have tried to do in the past, was hardly a task he would want to tackle alone in a world where he could most likely die permanently.
"A devil who ruminates on angels… You are certainly a curious one; it'll be quite the ordeal to kill you if you ever go rogue, or rather when." Aki said, his tongue dripping with venom.
'Did I kick this guy's dog when I was transported here or something? This isn't how you're supposed to treat a rookie on their first day!' Ainz thought.
"I understand that devils must not be known for their loyalty, but I've been nothing but cooperative. Offer me the modicum of trust that a coworker deserves." Ainz said, offended by the scathing tone of the hunter.
Aki turned to face him, his face twisted with anger and disgust, "You devils are nothing but monsters to be put down. You are a tool to use against them, and we'll put you down once you lose your usefulness. One wrong step and you'll find all about the ability of my katana."
"Swords aren't terribly effective against me." Ainz said, shrugging, "I do not wish to pry, but I doubt that even the most vehement of hunters despise devils as you do. I have not harmed you, so I would appreciate it if you would at least work with me until Miss Makima decides we no longer need to work together."
"My past with devils is none of your business. Just know that if you try anything even bordering on betrayal, I'll kill you." Aki said, turning away and continuing to walk forward.
Ainz left the "You could try" inside his own mind and simply allowed silence to overtake the now dead conversation.
'I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. He does seem like the type with a tragic backstory. I'll put my bet on his entire family being killed by devils… Actually, make that childhood best friend.' Ainz thought, using the situation for some grim entertainment.
As they walked down the dingy alley, Aki's phone began to buzz. He picked up and said, "Aki Hayakawa, what is it?" After a moment of silence, he nodded and answered, "On it."
His flip phone closed with a crisp snap and he turned to Ainz who stood next to him, "We've got a job. Some low level fiend has been locked down in a building. The civil forces got it contained, but it's time for us to do our part and put it down. The location is directly south of here, so we'll have to meander around these alleys."
"I believe I have a much simpler solution. If you'll allow me, [Fly]." Ainz said, then repeating the spell and pointing at Aki. The young man began to float off the ground and scrambled desperately to regain his footing.
Ainz controlled his body in the air as if it was second nature, watching with amusement as the hunter tried to control his own movements. After a few seconds of wild flailing, he seemed to manage to control the flight and stared at Ainz, his hair now dishevelled.
"Is this trick your power? Flight?" Aki asked, smoothing out his clothing and straightening his tie. His voice was still controlled, but a hint of excitement at the opportunity to fly was definitely present.
"A part of it, yes. Flight is a convenient tool. I do not know how fast planes in this era can fly, but we could most likely compete with commercial flights with this spell, though I do not recommend that given your flesh." Ainz said, floating higher and up until he was above the roofs of the buildings.
Aki followed his movement and asked, "Spell? Are you the devil of magic?" A hint of interest was hidden in his inquiry, undoubtedly curious as to his assigned buddy's abilities.
"I am a mage, yes, though no devilry is involved. Now then, lead the way." Ainz said, gesturing broadly at the sprawling city in front of them. He had an idea of the layout, but it was very vague. The Tokyo of his world was much different from this one, and he really only knew some of the landmarks. Without a map, he was quite liable to get lost.
Aki flew forward and just within a few minutes, the two found themselves in front of an apartment building. Outside of it stood various personnel, armed with riot gear and so on. While startled by their initial landing, Aki flashed his badge and moved into the building.
He evidently had gotten the room number during the phone call and quickly stopped in front of the room numbered 52. "Inside is a fiend. If you didn't know, those are corpses possessed by devils, which you can always tell by their face.
'Wait, is Miss Makima a fiend? Her eyes were a bit odd… I doubt they have eye implants in this day and age. Maybe they're cosmetic lenses or something native to this world? That requires a bit more investigation.' Ainz thought as Aki spoke.
Given Aki's apparent hatred of devils, his behaviour towards Makima didn't match up. Was it just a trick of the eye and she actually had normal eyes? Or was Aki making an exception for her because she was attractive?
'If it was Pero I was dealing with then I'd say the latter, but this guy's too serious for that…'
"Show them no mercy, though I doubt I need to tell a devil that. A fiend is not a person, they can't be saved, even though you would never try to do that." He kicked open the door and it flew off its hinges, revealing a crouched humanoid with mandibles for a face inside. "Put it down. Show me what you are capable of, devil."
Ainz stepped forward and analysed his adversary. It really was a pathetic sight, a small, old man's body fused with mandibles and feasting on a parrot. Such a small creature was probably lower than level 1 and nothing more than a bug when compared to the monolith that was Ainz.
"If you insist." Ainz said and used his favourite spell before the fiend could even cry out in protest, "[Grasp Heart]." A heart appeared in Ainz's right hand and he squeezed, causing it to burst and spray the phantom heart of the projection all over Ainz. Thankfully, it was simply a projection and it disappeared as soon as the fiend fell on the floor, dead.
Blood of the humanoid creature pooled on the floor and mixed with that of the parrot, staining the door and the magazines that were there, though that didn't seem like Ainz's problem.
He could have used a simpler spell, like [Death], but the curiosity to see his favourite spell propelled him forward. Needless to say, he wasn't disappointed with how it looked in real life.
"I believe that does it." Ainz said, pulling back his hand and gazing at the body. He did momentarily think of seeing if he could create a cool undead creature out of the corpse, but quickly scrapped the idea. Such a stunt would only antagonise Aki.
'So neither devils nor fiends are immune to magic. I suppose I should expect that in a world where magic doesn't exist. But if the flavour text is now real then I should probably stray far from [Nuclear Blast] or [Black Hole].' he thought to himself.
"Hmph, I expected something more flashy. Come, the civilian division will take care of the clean up. We've still got an hour of patrolling to do." They left the apartment complex and returned to their route, which consisted mostly of backward alleys.
After around half an hour of pointless meandering, Ainz decided to ask, "Are devils really so numerous that they appear in areas like this? I can't help but feel like there may be more pressing areas to patrol."
Walking around alleys when he could destroy a building with a word really seemed like a waste of his talents. Sure, it helped him familiarise himself with the area a bit more, but they could have just given him a map…
'Maybe I'm just being entitled? This is the first day after all. Man, I kinda pity him.' Ainz thought, gazing at Aki, 'He probably had some cool devil-fighting action that was gonna happen today, but instead he's stuck with me.'
"Devils can appear anywhere and at any time, so our job is still important. I'm sure Miss Makima has some reason to send us here." Aki answered, his voice full of confidence.
'Yep, he's fallen for her. Poor guy.' Ainz knew the telltale signs of falling for one's boss. It was a disease that afflicted many of his coworkers in the past, and it always ended in heartbreak for them. Even if Aki was less than friendly, Ainz could internally sympathise.
The chatter of the two was interrupted by the sound of claws being dragged across the concrete walls in front of them. It was rather ear-grating, but more so, it was alarming. Aki drew his blade and got into a defensive stance, "And it seems Miss Makima was right."
"Perhaps indeed, but what do we have on our hands?" Ainz wondered, staring into the dark alley in front of them. Maybe Aki would still get a proper fight, unless it ended up being another disappointment of a devil.
Out of the alley stepped a tall, although hunched, humanoid figure. The undead mage immediately recognised it for what it was, "A werewolf? Or, I suppose a dog devil. Shouldn't it be rather weak? People love dogs!" he exclaimed.
The creature truly appeared like something out of a fantasy novel, with jetblack hair and razor sharp claws, though its snout was more reminiscent of a pitbull than a wolf. It stood tall, perhaps it would have been even taller than Ainz, if not for how hunched it was.
Saliva dripped from its jaws and muscles bulged under the fur. It certainly looked intimidating compared to the fiend, but Ainz doubted it would provide much resistance if he got serious.
"Plenty of people are scared of dogs, very much so. If the fox devil is as strong as it is, then we've got a problem on our hands with this dog devil. Occupy it while I call for backup." Aki said, reaching for his phone.
But with astonishing speed, the creature lunged at Aki and swiped at his chest. Thankfully the young man reacted in time and parried the devil's claws, narrowly avoiding the fatal blow.
"Do something!" Aki called out as he slashed back at the devil, and Ainz obliged. Back in YGGDRASIL, he was a wildcard who could do a little bit of everything. Thanks to a passive of his called [Dark Wisdom], he had mastered over 700 spells, compared to the usual 300 of the average player.
In his repertoire of spells was magic that could have ended this fight in an instant, but Ainz saw an opportunity here. According to Touch Me, nothing built a bond like fighting side by side.
Judging by the bloodshot eyes of the snarling beast, it was no tactician, and so, Ainz could use this to build a bit of trust with the hunter he was partnered up with. "[Wall of Skeleton]." Ainz called out, causing a wall of bone to appear between the two combatants.
The skeletons that made up the wall stabbed at the werewolf and temporarily forced it to back off. Utilising the breathing room the wall had created to the fullest, Ainz began buffing his ally, "[Greater Full Potential]. [Greater Luck]. [Greater Resistance]. [Body of Effulgent Heliodor]."
A variety of colours engulfed Aki one by one and he looked at Ainz, apparently both confused and impressed. But there was little time to exchange pleasantries, the wall of skeletons shaking and crumbling from the onslaught of the devil.
The moment the wall came down, Aki raised his hand and said, "Kon." Out of the ether came the head of a massive demonic fox and tried to consume the devil in front of them. Its razor sharp teeth bit into the flesh of the werewolf-like devil, but the beast proved to be stubborn, slashing at the jaws that so desperately tried to crush it.
A tooth of the fox devil that was lodged into the dog devil was ripped off by a direct strike, the claws of the creature proving to be more than a match for it.
"Eh, this is not worth the bother. I've done what I was supposed to do." the fox devil grumbled disappearing soon after.
"Wait! You…" Aki called out, momentarily grabbing at his forearm but quickly recovering and grabbing his katana. "I'd rather not do this…" he mumbled, evidently getting ready to strike with his sword.
Yet he wouldn't get the opportunity as Ainz stepped in front of him, "Neither would I, but I need to experiment for a second. Please stand back. My buffs are potent, but they may not be enough if I need to get serious. I'd prefer you don't get caught in the crossfire."
The dog devil launched at the two, being intercepted mid lunge by a bolt of lightning. It flew back, snarling as smoke arose from the fur on its chest, a large patch of which was now singed and a charcoal black.
'I wonder if werewolves fall under the category of dogs when it comes to fear of if there's a different devil for that? They must be pretty similar.' Ainz wondered as the beast scrambled to its feet.
"So you are strong enough to survive a single tier 3 spell. I suppose for this world that's impressive. Now then, [Despair Aura I]." A chill encompassed the area and Aki's survival instincts sent him on edge. The devil reacted similarly, whining and taking a step back, its red eyes now betraying a hint of fear.
"And you don't have immunity to fear. Quite sad." Ainz said, taking off his gloves to reveal his skeletal hands, "Then I guess there's just one last test to conduct." A menacing purple aura covered his hands, and he stepped forward.
The dog devil snarled and barked as Ainz took slow, measured steps forward. Like most cornered animals, it attacked, slashing at Ainz once he was a few metres away from it. Its claws, sharp enough to compete with the fox devil and slash through steel, bounced off harmlessly.
They didn't even seem to reach Ainz, a barrier of some sort stopping them a few centimetres from the undead caster. 'So that passive still exists… These devils seem less impressive by the second, but I still can't let my guard down.'
He grabbed at the beast's neck, successfully snatching it before it could try to escape. Instantly, negative energy poured into it and took its horrid toll. The magnificent fur of the beast that covered its head quickly turned grey and began to fall, revealing pale, ashy skin beneath.
The almost unhealthy white of the skin quickly turned to a brown and then dark grey, all moisture disappearing and leaving behind only skin and bones. The effect spread from the neck to the rest of the body, initially revealing the muscular build of the devil, only to have it decay in the blink of an eye.
A horrid howl filled the alley as Aki could only watch the devil go through all five stages of decay in only a minute. Soon there was no sound, the muscles of the creature were gone and thus it was unable to neither flail nor vocalise its despair.
When nothing but a skeleton remained in Ainz's hand, held together by only the remnants of ligaments, he let go and it fell to the ground. Bones hit the stained concrete, and Ainz looked at his work, satisfied. "Negative energy works as expected." he mumbled, putting his gloves back on and cancelling his aura.
He turned to Aki, who had been staring at the spectacle with wide eyes, "That one wasn't very impressive, though I hope this confirms my competence." he said, smoothing out the areas of his robe that the devil tried to strike.
Of course, it wouldn't be a diving tier robe if it would get wrinkled just from that, but the habit of smoothing out one's suit seemed to die hard, not to mention that some spit from the beast had gotten on him.
"It does, but what did you just do?" Aki asked, sheathing his sword and wincing as he grabbed his left forearm. Red stains began to slowly appear on his sleeve as he tightened his grip.
"Oh, that? I just poured negative energy into it. It's quite lethal for living beings, and rather unpleasant from what I hear." Ainz answered, before retaliating with a question of his own.
"Did you get hurt? I don't remember the devil landing any strikes on you." he asked, seeing the young man clutch at his arm and blood starting to pour out of his sleeve.
"It's nothing." he said, before wincing once again, "You devils ask a price for your contracts, and this time around the fox devil asked for some of my skin."
He pulled up his jacket and shirt, and showed Ainz his injury. From the elbow to the wrist, almost all of his skin was gone. Only a thin layer remained, keeping him from bleeding out too quickly, even if his clothing was quickly becoming stained even with that.
Muscles and flesh were exposed, and Ainz would have undoubtedly vomited should he have been human. Alas, as an undead, it was instead morbid curiosity that made him stare at the injury longer than was appropriate.
To cover up this awkward moment, he coughed into his gloved hand, which Aki gave a sceptical glance since Ainz had no lungs or throat, and he put his hand into his inventory. It was an instinctual feeling, both opening it and searching for something within. After a few seconds, his hand grasped what he searched for, and his hand returned from the void.
"Here, drink this." Ainz said, handing a small, ornate bottle to Aki. Its craftsmanship was immaculate, with subtle gold accents decorating it.
Aki took it and scrutinised the liquid inside. "Blood? Really? Unlike your kind, I won't heal from drinking this." he said, trying to hand the bottle back to Ainz.
But the undead mage insisted, pushing the bottle back towards him. "I just killed that devil and am trying to help you, so the least you can do is temporarily trust me. And that isn't blood, it's a healing potion."
Ainz, being the almost maniacal hoarder that he was, had thousands of these potions in his inventory, even if they hurt undead rather than heal them. Still, it would be good to know if the items from YGGDRASIL worked in this world as well, not to mention it would hopefully help Aki warm up to him a bit.
He was a useful contact to have while Ainz looked for the reason why he was summoned here. But that would take time, so perhaps making some colleagues along the way wouldn't hurt.
The hunter offered the bottle and Ainz a look full of scepticism and a notable hint of disgust, but he sighed and said, "Fine, but if this turns out to be some sort of sick joke, I'm going to kill you."
He uncorked the bottle and took it the way one might a shot of a particularly disgusting liquor. As soon as the liquid made its way down his throat, a green aura encompassed him.
When he looked at his arm, it looked brand new and even the scars that were once there were gone. His eyes widened and he touched his arm, carefully analysing it, as if to see that it was not an illusion.
"Who knew a devil could be honest." he muttered, realising that his arm was in fact in perfect condition. "I'm guessing you have a lot more useful trinkets like that laying around?" he asked, looking at Ainz.
"I do, but what kind of devil would I be if I put all my cards on the table? At least let me live up to the cunning reputation. Though if you ever have problems with curses, or if you decide you want to have an endless lifespan, then I believe I can deal with both." Ainz said, chuckling.
Aki responded with a nervous laugh of his own, 'So he knows about my contract with the curse devil? Just what is the devil of? Knowledge?'
"Maybe another time. For now, my problem with curses is under control." he said, walking up to the skeleton of the dog devil and picking up its skull, "Anyway, we should head back to HQ and report this. It's about time for our shift to end anyway."
Ainz nodded, casting [Fly] on both of them…
"And why exactly is it just a skull?" Makima asked, looking at the remaining piece of the dog devil on her desk
Aki simply pointed at Ainz, who deigned to illuminate her, "I used an ability of mine that causes rapid decay. Due to a small miscalculation on my part, I may have overkilled it a bit, leading to this."
"I see. Are you sure it was a dog devil? The fox devil would be problematic if it turned aggressive and a dog devil should be around its level of power, if not stronger thanks to african wild dogs and animals like that still falling under the umbrella of dogs." Makima said, curiously eyeing the canine skull.
"It looked like the pitbull version of a werewolf. If that wasn't a dog devil, then I don't know what could be." said Aki, shaking his head, "Even my fox devil didn't want to deal with it."
"So how did you beat it? Did you use your sword to immobilise it while Ainz worked his magic?" she asked, evidently wanting to know more about the new hire's abilities.
"Oh, no. I immobilised it myself. Devil or not, it was still a simple beast. After the fox devil decided to be of little assistance, I simply dealt with it. It was no threat at all." Ainz said, no pride tainting his voice. Defeating such a weak enemy was not worth boasting of.
Makima clapped lightly, "Wow! Good job, Ainz. I knew you would be perfect for this job!" she said, showering him with praise.
Ainz noticed a flash of jealousy appear on Aki's face, but he decided to ignore it, knowing well the affliction he had been struck with. 'I won't try to steal her, no need to worry Aki! I'm a goddamn skeleton!' Ainz thought, hoping to not draw the ire of his coworker.
'But it seems that praising employees like dogs without offering any actual rewards is an honoured corporate tradition. Your words mean nothing, woman! Just give me a bonus or something!' Ainz cried out within his own mind.
Either way, Ainz said, "Thank you, Miss Makima." in order to at the very least not appear rude. Who knows? If she didn't like him, would she send the entire division after him and declare him rogue? That would be a complete pain in the ass, so it was best to be safe, rather than sorry.
"And how are you two getting along? Will you be able to live together without destroying the city block around you?" she asked, offering them a polite smile, one that already posed an answer to her question.
Aki glanced at Ainz and said, "I believe we will be able to cooperate." As reluctant as he sounded, at least the distinct note of disgust from their initial meeting was gone. It seemed that Ainz managed to make progress, though he doubted he would be considered a welcome guest.
"Wonderful, just one more question and you'll be able to go. There is another recruit that I want to make Ainz's buddy, but this was his first day. Do you think he's ready for that? Give me your judgement, as his senior." Makima said.
Ainz could only cry out in his mind, 'Don't I outrank him and am on par with you!? I swear if she assigns some weirdo to me then I'm moving divisions… Or at the very least having a proper argument with her.'
"Ainz keeps a cool head in dangerous situations and has been highly cooperative, even healing my wounds after the battle. If given the proper material to familiarise himself with his patrol route, then I'm sure he'll be a good choice." Aki said without hesitation, and Ainz internally thanked him for the vote of confidence.
Makima quickly wrote something down, putting it in one of her desk's many drawers, and said, "Wonderful. In that case, have a goodnight and I'll see you tomorrow."
The two exited her office as she waved goodbye, but her warm expression turned into a cold and calculating one the moment the door closed. "Why do I have to be pitted against my equal, if not even a better…" she lamented, idly petting the canine skull in front of her.
"Strong enough to kill one of my favourite puppies and smart enough to figure out what I am immediately. Just what kind of monster did chainsaw man manifest? And why do they have that same, distinct scent?" she asked herself, finding no easy answer to her questions for the first time in her long life.
All her strategies that had worked wonders on every single being she had met before were now met with polite indifference. Praise, threats, nothing seemed to cause the creature that was Ainz Ooal Gown to budge. There existed the final option of brute force, though even she was reluctant to attempt to do that.
Something about Ainz, when she saw him sitting on that mountain of corpses, chilled her. It was evident to her experienced eye that he was no simple devil, or even a hybrid, but just what was he? This alien element that suddenly replaced her previous key to success?
She sighed, looking out the window at the mass of humans walking to and fro, not knowing they were simply spare lives for her. But no amount of lives could make her feel truly safe in the presence of Ainz.
For now, she would have to try and whittle down his defences, see what she truly could do in order to control. But a frightening feeling overcame her, the feeling that she would no longer be in control…
(AN from Edgy: Yea, so I read Chainsaw Man and I loved it, but my brain went to the traditional quandary of "What if Ainz was there?" so I wrote this. If people like it then I'll write more, if people don't then I suppose you can consider this a one shot.)
(AN from Aterro: Hello dear readers, this is an idea Edgy came up with and brought into existence, I just recently read Chainsaw man and since there is a serious lack of Chainsaw man and Overlord crossovers, we decided to change that. We hope you like it and feed us your reviews.)