"Humanity will die in July of 1999."
The only sound in the room was the heartbeat of all those gathered.
"Is that… your declaration?" the prime minister asked after a moment.
Ainz sighed, "It would be much simpler if it was."
"Then whose is it?"
"Unless there is someone named Nostradamus walking around the Earth at this very moment, spouting prophecies about himself, I do not know."
The atmosphere in the room relaxed.
"You mean the prophecies of Nostradamus? With all due respect, that's just an old wive's tale."
"The future devil thinks otherwise.
The pressure in the room returned.
"He's still a devil."
"You think I don't have ways to make a devil talk?"
The prime minister sat silent for a moment.
"What do you propose then?"
"No, tell me what you propose first."
"I…" The man gulped, "I would inform the international community and attempt to assemble a task force capable of facing the threat head on."
Ainz shook his head, "No. That'd spread too much fear and only empower whatever it is we're facing. In an ideal scenario, nobody outside of this room and a select few will know about this. Instead, I need a division, or rather I need to expand the special division."
"Expand it? All the best devil hunters in Japan already are a part of it."
"I'm not talking about more humans. We are likely to be facing a powerful devil, and so I will fight fire with fire. I will harness the greatest fears of humanity to save it."
"And I presume you want our assistance in the matter?"
"Only in recruiting more promising recruits. The rest was just for your information." Ainz brushed away his robes with a flourish, "Cooperate and I guarantee humanity's survival."
"How are we supposed to believe that?! You are also a devil!" cried out one of the junior ministers, exceptionally young for his position and with a temper to match.
The Overlord chuckled, "I'm no devil. I am undead, and things are just about to get interesting, so you, mortal, should be grateful. While Nostradamus may have predicted this calamity, unfortunately for him he didn't foresee how I would crush it."
Kobeni struggled to keep her knees from shaking as the skeletal figure in front of her studied her, circling her like a shark. She could feel the burning eyes of the figure go from head to toe, as if looking for weakness.
"With all due respect," Ainz began, "I find it hard to believe that you are one of the deadliest in Makima's former division."
"I-I'm not! This must be a m-mistake!" she managed to get out, putting her hands over her mouth as she realised just how loudly she had spoken.
"I find that hard to believe. For all her faults, Makima knew how to identify strength. In her own right, she was the most powerful devil I've seen in this world, and yet she still put merit in you. Tell me, what is your contract?"
"S-Sorry…" Kobeni quietly said, her voice now a mere whisper, "I can't tell you that."
"A secret contract only implies a greater degree of power." Ainz commented, "But I will not force you."
'Even if my curiosity is blazing.'
"Nevertheless, I do want you in my unit. Tell me, why did you become a devil hunter in the first place?"
"Oh, I, uh, wanted to p-put my siblings through school."
The flames in Ainz's eyes burnt a little brighter, "A very noble desire, indeed. It takes a lot of conviction to enter this line of work for your family." Ainz said, beginning to circle her once more.
Kobeni's eyes followed him until he went behind her, emerging back into her sightline with a golden coin in hand.
"Tell me, what would you do for a coin like that?" Ainz asked, "Would you go on a hunt?"
It took a moment for Kobeni to take her eyes away from the coin in the Overlord's skeletal hand, but she eventually managed to do so and tentatively say, "Y-Yes."
Ainz moved his hand in a cross motion, as if cutting apart reality, and a dark void appeared from which precious gems and metal spilled like water from a flooding river. He picked up a palm-sized sapphire and inspected it for a moment before throwing it to Kobeni, who caught it with both hands and brought it to her chest.
"Consider that your sign-on bonus." Ainz said.
The Overlord nodded, "As long as you join in, that and more will be yours. If you're in, simply leave with it. If not, leave it on the ground and go."
Kobeni's eyes went from the gem to the mass of treasures glittering on the ground. She gulped and sweat poured down her face, but she eventually bowed low, "S-Sir."
Ainz nodded and motioned for her to leave, "I'll stay in touch."
His newest subordinate did as he bid her, and Ainz was left alone in the room.
"Man, throwing all this on the ground really wasn't worth it…" he muttered as he kneeled down and began shoving it all back in his inventory.
Alas, showmanship was an important part of being the boss.
"Hey, Aki." Himeno began as she searched the fridge for another beer.
"Don't you think we should get new contracts? I mean, ghost died and the fox devil broke it off with you, right?"
"What's the point?" Aki asked, "Ainz's items outmatch most contracts."
"Still, we can't just rely on him all the time, right?"
Aki sat up, "Probably not, but what do you propose then? What kind of contracts could we make?"
"Well, as a start, how about her?" Himeno pointed to Nayuta, who was currently quietly reading a book about different breeds of dogs. "Also, isn't she growing up kinda fast?"
"Probably." Aki said, figuring that a devil growing up faster wouldn't be the craziest thing in the world, "But a contract with her wouldn't offer us the combat capabilities we need. Something like… war or time, those are the kinds of devils we'd need to be going after."
The signature crack of a can of beer could be heard before Himeno sighed, "Yea… How would we even convince those ones to lend us a hand."
"We will simply force them." Ainz said, suddenly appearing in the middle of the room. Before Himeno could ask how long he had been there, he added, "A few minutes. I just forgot to turn off a spell that removes my existence from all of your five senses."
"Were you, like, speaking to us thinking we were just ignoring you?"
Ainz coughed into his fist before continuing, "As I was saying, you two, just like the rest of the division, must grow stronger. Seeing as how you are human, I doubt I can simply feed you devils, so instead we will go and force devils into agreeing."
"I know that you're like super strong, but really? Force them?" Himeno asked.
"Every sentient being can feel fear, and that includes devils. If not, they will learn of it. After all, we are after the biggest fears of mankind."
"Those primal fears are probably in hell, since they've never died. You're really planning to deal with those things?"
"Of course. Hence the first target on our list to subjugate is the hell devil, and I know just the person for the job." Ainz said, his skull briefly shifting in the direction of Nayuta.
"Ainz, you already admonished me about using her." Aki answered, "Now you want to make a child soldier out of her?"
The Overlord scoffed, "I may be heartless in the literal sense, but cut me some slack. Sending her to battle would be foolish, however, she still has the power to at the very least bind Power. With that, she will be able to force weakened devils into contracts."
"Can't you do that already?"
"My mind control is limited by time, and it may be resisted by some creatures. Her power is the most surefire way. With mine, a devil could possibly break a contract."
Himeno chuckled, "No one breaks contracts. That's a death sentence for either party."
"And yet I doubt that some devils aren't spiteful enough to sacrifice themselves for revenge. Her power will prevent such things." Ainz said, stepping away from the two hunters and towards the devil, still immersed in her book.
He crouched down in front of her and said, "Hey, Nayuta. In the future I'll need your help convincing some really nasty devils, would you help me?"
She looked up from her book and stared at Ainz with a blank expression before pointing at something in her book, "If I get this."
Looking over, it turned out she was pointing at a picture of a husky.
"Aki, didn't Makima have a bunch of huskies?" he asked, to which the hunter nodded, "Go pick them up for me."
"Why do I have to do that?" Aki asked, his voice full of resignation as he began walking for his coat.
"Because Himeno is too drunk to drive, and I don't want them to start chewing on me."
"Fine… Be right back."
Ainz was quite surprised by the current state of affairs. Nayuta turned out to be an excellent dog owner, and even managed to stop the half a dozen huskies from trying to chew on his skeletal body. That feat alone proved in his mind that she could bind any devil he needed.
Better yet, upon somehow finding out about everything that Ainz was planning, Kishibe returned to Japan. All in all, things weren't bad. There remained just one tiny little problem, that was convincing his coworkers that kidnapping people to summon the hell devil was a good idea.
Of course, he hadn't proposed the idea yet, but he had a feeling that everyone besides Kishibe would condemn his idea at least a little. Of course, chances are that the hell devil wouldn't be too keen on seeing him after their last encounter.
'Still, I need corpses… At least enough to replace the regular devil hunters in Tokyo and send a few out into other devil hotspots. Undead are better than people in such duties.' Ainz thought to himself as he once more walked through the halls of Japan's parliamentary building to yet another meeting he himself called.
He planned to make this a short one.
As usual, he was the last to enter the hall, with everyone already seated, and him standing in the centre of the room.
"This meeting was called for two reasons. First, I have a question. How many death-row inmates does Japan currently have?" Ainz asked.
A few whispers moved through the ministers like waves before one spoke up, "A few hundred at most."
"Good. Send their information to me. Names, location, the basics."
"May I ask what you plan with them?" the prime minister asked.
Ainz shook his head, "Strictly confidential. I assure you, however, that they are a vital resource in the containment of devils up to and during the prophesied time."
"How many of them are you expecting to… use?"
"I cannot currently give a concrete estimate. Now, where will I find the nearest prison containing such prisoners?"
The prime minister gestured to an ageing man who sat next to him, who gingerly stood up and made his way over to Ainz with a note in his shaking hand. The Overlord accepted it and nodded, disappearing from sight and effectively declaring the meeting over.
A collective sigh arose within the chamber, and the same question that was asked every such meeting arose.
"Can we really trust him?"
And the same answer was given.
"What other choice do we have? Better the devil you know, than the prophecy you don't."
Ainz cut off his [Undead Slave Sight] from another one of his newly created Death Assassins that roamed the city. A few Eyeball Corpses also scoured the lands of Japan under a cloak of magic, but connecting to one of those was simply too confusing compared to his usual perception.
Now, all that really remained is a way to access hell for the first time.
'The easiest way is probably to have someone else summon the hell devil and have Nayuta control it then… Still, not many people must be scared of hell if that guy was such a pushover. Surprising given the existence of devils.'
The power of devils truly seemed to be varied which, while undoubtedly better for humanity, also gave Ainz a curious conundrum.
What was humanity afraid of?
Guns, blood, control, those were things he knew of. Still, what fears aside from death or darkness could he seek out? The fears that lurked in the deepest reaches of humanity's soul, what were they?
'I could always manufacture a devil. After all, the gun devil was created due to a societal panic if I recall. Vesicar could achieve similar levels of power if I were to have him conduct an international terror campaign. Bleh, why do I immediately jump to terrorism as an option? Think, Ainz! Think! What were you scared of?'
The Overlord sat silently, scouring his memories for traces of fear, but little of the reality of the 22nd century was applicable to the 20th.
While pollution and corporations were a thing nowadays, they certainly didn't compare to those of his age, not to mention the fact that this world seemed to lack nuclear weapons, a prime source of fear for the humanity he knew.
"I suppose I'll just have to go to hell and see who puts up a fight." he decided, "Though if hell does exist, then doesn't heaven have to as well? Though I guess I haven't heard about some final boss devil like Satan, so maybe not?"
The rules of this world, to the disgruntlement of the MMO player within Ainz, still remained hidden. How did devils travel between hell and Earth without dying? Given that they could possess people, were they spirits? Would an [Astral Smite] purify a fiend and return the person or turn them to ashes in their entirety?
Of course, some of these could be tested, but it'd still be really handy if the devils had a neat little handbook with all the rules, or maybe even like a manager he could ask and promptly enslave.
Alas, this world was equally as shrouded in mystery as those of YGGDRASIL… Maybe slightly less, given that the nature of the devs truly surpassed that of the devils he had met so far.
Then something struck him, if devils travelled to Earth after being killed, then just who had killed Nayuta after she incarnated down there. Between him killing Makima and Nayuta incarnating on Earth, it couldn't have been more than a few days in hell.
Of course, time could work differently down there, but Nayuta even currently wasn't weak, which implied that some powerful devil held a grudge against the very notion of a control devil, not even Makima herself.
'That could be a possible lead.'
Ainz put a skeletal hand to his forehead; a lead though it may have been, all of this was such a headache.
Kishibe took out one cigarette for himself and another one for the other person in the room.
"Want a smoke, Nayuta?" he asked, only to have the cigarette shrivel up and disappear.
"She is still a child, Kishibe. Even if she grows faster, alcohol and smoking are not allowed."
The devil hunter scoffed, "And you called me soft."
"I do not know whether devils can die of lung cancer, and I am not eager to find out." the Overlord said as he closed the door behind himself, "Now then, onto proper business."
"Well, go on then. What do you want? I doubt I can do something those things you have running around can't."
"You can." Ainz answered before Kishibe's words could register, "Wait, you can see my Death Assassins?"
"Ah, so that's what they are called." he said before taking a long drag from his cigarette, "You seem pretty surprised."
"I didn't expect any humans to be able to see them."
"I can't. I just sense them."
"Instinct, is it? Commendable nonetheless." Ainz said, letting a moment of silence hang between the two before he pulled out his bargaining chip: an aged bottle of whiskey, which in reality was just some old consumable from YGGDRASIL.
Kishibe raised a single silver eyebrow, "How old is that?"
"A few thousand years. Maybe more, maybe less." Ainz bluffed.
"You must be really desperate to offer me something like that then."
"I've plenty of it, and consider this a department-warming gift now that I manage things."
"What do you need me to do then?"
"I need you to bait the hell devil into the open."
"That's it? Wouldn't you be able to do that?"
"After our last encounter, I doubt the fine devil would jump at the opportunity to appear in front of me."
Ainz handed the ornate bottle to Kishibe, the devil hunter's movements a little more decisive than his usual, lethargic self.
"Any means necessary?"
"Within reason. You can have your pick of the death row inmates. Anything beyond that may require… special procurement."
Kishibe inhaled another lungful of tobacco smoke, "Should be plenty. Last I checked, it wasn't too picky just to get summoned. I'm guessing you have a plan after it comes around though?"
The Overlord nodded, "Of course. Simply inform me of the time and place. You will not notice, but I will be there, so good luck, Kishibe."
In an unremarkable, dingy alley lay a dead girl. Her face had been sliced clean open and her right eye rolled across the dirt.
Yet before the five-headed monstrosity towering over the corpse could make its joy known, the girl stood up.
Eyes now filled with spirals and a scar on her cheek.
Discord . gg / 8966UupbPp
Edited by Korak324
Betaread by: HackSlashBash, WhoStoleMyTea?, SIB
(AN: Timeline is gonna get slightly jumbled from canon here, since I'd rather not write a few months of Ainz just kinda sitting there doing nothing, so we're jumping straight into part 2 with volume 2! Well, when Fujimoto cooks a little more. So from here on out, [Supreme Fear] is on indefinite hiatus. It will continue, the question is simply when. I do highly, highly recommend joining the discord, since I'll have something very exciting cooking to take Fear's place. As always, more to come and I hope you've enjoyed the story so far.)