One born of human flesh…
Man is now a race of some power.
You, son of man,
must face the power you hold.
And you must face your destiny as well…
Though your days be peaceful, the fated time draws near.
I am your judgement.
I sundered the tongue of your fathers and shattered their arrogant power.
So long as the Lord does not live in you, all living beings hold darkness in their hearts.
If you truly wish to be yourself, then rise and fight the darkness within…the demon inside.
If you have the will to change your destiny of battle, son of man, state your name…
My name is Shuji Nikuta. A week ago, I was a normal high school, living in Tokyo with my parents. I was just about to start summer break, hang out with my friends, take some time to relax before school started up again; you know, normal stuff. Stuff ordinary teenagers do during summer break.
That was a week ago. Things have changed.
Right now, the fate of humanity as we know it rests in my hands. I'm trapped in Tokyo with murderous demons and even more murderous humans on the loose, trying to keep a hold of my sanity. By now, I should be losing my mind, but not now. Not when the fate of the world rests in my hands. I have a big decision to make, one that could make our break our chances of getting out of here alive.
I know, I'm probably screwing with someone here, but let's face it, things are pretty screwed up to begin with. So I should probably think over things from the beginning, back when we didn't have to fight for our lives.
Let me start from the day before all of this started. I'll think about it from there before I decide… before I have to choose how things will turn out.
Day Before: An End to the Ordinary
Part 1 - Beginning of Eternity
Things all started a week ago. My cousin, Naoya, called me out to Shibuya 901. To put it bluntly, Naoya is a genius, a programming genius. Ask him to program your microwave to fire infrared laser beams and he'll do it, and add a million other crazy programs if he's given the time: he's that good. A little quirky at times and creepy at others, but he's family. He lived with us - my parents and I - until a couple years ago, not long after my other cousins moved in. I hadn't seen him since they left, so I was a little surprised when he called me to meet him. Then again, he emailed me to meet him, so I wasn't too surprised. One thing Naoya always seemed to lack was verbal social skills.
Anyway, back to where I was. Middle of August, out at 901, waiting for Naoya. Apparently, I wasn't the only one Naoya called…
"Hey, Minato! Over here!"
Shuji looked up from his MP3 Player, wondering who was calling him until he saw a familiar white hat and laptop bag. 'Atsuro…'
If you're wondering, Minato is my nickname. It's actually my cousin's name, but we're so alike and people mix the two of us up so much that it just stuck. We have the same hair color and both wear headphones. Strange, huh?
Atsuro Kihara is a friend of mine. We go to the same high school, we eat lunch together, make stupid jokes, copy each other's homework…and he's a programmer. Yes, like Naoya, but not at the crazy genius level yet. Thankfully.
My relationship with Atsuro is a strange one. I first met him in high school, but he knew Naoya long before that, frequenting online messaging boards for programmers. They discussed a lot of things there, and somehow, Atsuro made himself Naoya's unofficial apprentice. By the time I met him, he was a good programmer, but still needed work. Naoya was still living with us, so the first time I brought Atsuro over and he found out that his mentor was my cousin, he flipped…almost literally. We've been good friends ever since.
"Yo, how's it going?" Atsuro smiled, wiping a thick layer of sweat of his brow. His voice picked up a slight tone of sarcasm. "Real nice of Naoya to make us meet him outside on a hot day like this, isn't it?"
Shuji shrugged. "It's Naoya. I'm leaving it at that."
Atsuro chuckled. "Good point. So, how's your summer been? We usually meet at school, so it feels like it's been forever. Is everything good?"
"Yeah, sure," he mumbled, still staring at his MP3 player. He had charged the battery the previous night, but it resisted his efforts to turn it on. 'Probably the heat or something…'
"Well, good to hear. You sound like yourself. Me, I spent the day on my laptop… This is great timing though, man. I just ran into a problem with my coding. It has me completely stumped, so I was about to go ask Naoya if he could help…"
"Oh, there you are!" a female voice called, and they both turned around to the pink blur dashing towards them, "I've been looking for you guys!"
Shuji raised a hand in a lazy greeting wave. "Hey Yuzu."
Yuzu Tanikawa is another friend of mine, but we go way back. We've been friends since…I can't remember how long. That's how long it's been; too long for me to recall. Yuzu is the polar opposite of Atsuro, perky and energetic as opposed to his logic and nerdy tendencies. They create the walls and I sit somewhere comfortably in the middle, like some kind of awkward friendship house…forget I said that.
Atsuro likes making fun of Yuzu. Just a warning. She's not as smart, so he has to stop and explain things to her every so often. Growing up with Naoya, I already understand him. Also, her name sounds like 'Yoohoo', so that became her nickname. She hates it, but it's so catchy that I accidentally call her that.
Atsuro picked up the greeting as well. "Hey Yoohoo!"
"Don't call me 'Yoohoo'!" she snapped, "It's Yuzu! Sheesh, will you stop calling me by that stupid nickname! Even boys at school call me 'Yoohoo', and it's all your fault!"
"Hey, it's not that bad, is it? It's a friendly nickname! And it's not just our class. Some of the teachers actually think your name is 'Yoohoo'."
"That's because people like you," she glared at the boys, "keep calling me that!"
Shuji raised his hands in mock surrender. "I apologized."
"I know that," she huffed, turning her glare back on Atsuro, who kept smiling.
"Where's Naoya?" Shuji muttered, looking up at the screens on the 901 building for the time. "He should be here."
"Huh…? Oh, that's right!" Yuzu piped up, digging something out of her bag, "I ran into Naoya a moment ago, and he asked me to give these to Atsuro and you. He said that something's come up and he won't be able to make it."
Atsuro groaned. "Aww, what's up with that? Naoya stood us up!"
Shuji shrugged. "Again, it's Naoya. I'm leaving it at that."
"Wait, what did he want you to give us?"
"Here, take them," Yuzu grunted, pulling the aforementioned objects out of her bag, "They were a pain to carry around in my bag, too."
From her bag she produced three small handheld systems that Shuji instantly recognized: COMPs, one white, one blue, and one pink.
COMPs, or Communication Players, are the highest in technology right now. They play games, they send mail, they have cameras… anything you want, the COMP has. Batteries sold separately, drinks not included. Despite that, they have a lot of empty hardware space, something Naoya took into account…
"I've seen commercials for these things before," Yuzu prattled on, "They're like, 'Play with people around the world!' Naoya said, 'You'll all need these. Don't let go of them.'"
Atsuro's eyebrows creased. "Eh? 'You'll all need'…? Well, there are three of them." Shuji took the white one and Atsuro took the blue one, leaving Yuzu with the pink. "Still," he mumbled, "why would we need these? I mean, I've got a COMP back at my own - huh?" He noticed something and stared intently at the COMP. "What the…? I've never seen this menu. Did he homebrew this?"
Looking at his own COMP, Shuji looked at the menu and realized Atsuro was right. The menu was blank on his, a black screen with some sort of symbol. Both screens were like that. He pressed a button and the menu came up, but nothing was accessible.
"What…?" Yuzu asked, not understanding Atsuro's tech lingo, "Do you mean he made this himself? Is that even possible?"
"I hate to sound like Shuji, but this is Naoya we're talking about. Besides, Naoya is a genius among programmers. Something like this would be no problem for him." Atsuro turned back to the COMP and startled muttering to himself. "Hmm…I can't open this folder. Looks like it's protected…"
"Protected? You mean, it's set so other people can't mess with it? We can't look inside, then."
"Knowing Naoya, if he locked a folder Atsuro can find, Atsuro can crack it," Shuji muttered, watching over his friend's shoulder.
Atsuro smiled. "That's right! Good thing I brought my laptop along…" He sat down on the sidewalk and connected an adaptor cable from his laptop to the COMPs. Within seconds, he was at work, his fingers tapping furiously across the keys. "I'm gonna hack this folder wide open."
"Won't Naoya be angry?" Yuzu asked, looking fairly angry herself.
"It's no problem. It's a programmer thing - a test," Shuji explained. "Naoya's the teacher, testing his student's skill."
Atsuro ignored them, continuing his work. "Let's take a look here… What's his encryption scheme this time?" He smiled giddily.
Yuzu rolled her eyes. "Only someone like Atsuro would find this exciting."
"Ah, there we go!" Atsuro handed the COMPs back. "You can at least check your mail for now."
Shuji opened the COMP, checked the inbox and found that he did have mail. Eyebrow raised, he opened it and began reading aloud.
"FROM: The Observer. SUBJECT: Laplace Mail. Good morning. Here is today's NEWS. One: At around 16:00, a man will be killed in a Shibuya-ku Aoyama apartment. The wounds on the corpse are consistent with an attack by a large carnivorous beast. Two: A large explosion will occur in Minato-ku Aoyama at 19:00. The cause is unknown. Three: At 21:00, a blackout will affect the entire Tokyo metropolitan area. Have a nice day."
I didn't realize at that point what it all meant.
Ever heard of Laplace? He was some sort of French scientist and mathematician. Not important. What is important is one of his theories. He believed hypothetically that if we knew the location and momentum of every atom in the universe, then we would be able to predict the future and see into the past. Cool, huh? I learned this from my cousins arguing. The point is… it's called Laplace's demon for a reason. There are just some things we're better off not knowing…
Yuzu looked it over, having received the same mail. "At around 16:00 in Shibuya-ku Aoyama, a man… will be killed! He'll be attack by some carnivorous beast…What kind of news is this? That's so creepy…"
"It also said there'll be a blackout in Tokyo today… What is this? It says it's today's news. But none of this has happened today. Why would Naoya put a lock on this..? Ooh, maybe it's a code for something!" Atsuro began walking in circles. "Aoyama, Aoyama… Hmm… Naoya's place is near there, but is that important…?"
"That's enough! This is way too creepy!" Yuzu wailed, hugging her shoulders. "I bet Naoya knew you would tinker with the COMPs and played a trick on us."
Shuji shook his head. "Not like Naoya to do that."
"You're right about that," Atsuro nodded. "I think he intended for this to happen. I'll go through the rest of these files. You two go kill some time, and take your COMPs with you. They do work, so you can check them out. I'll mail you later." With that, he waved and trotted off, laptop tucked under his arm.
Yuzu shrugged. "Well, now what?"
"Let's look around. There may be something weird going on elsewhere."
"The mail's bothering you, too?"
He grunted. "Naoya lives in Aoyama. I might want to check in on him later, see if the Laplace Mail has any truth to it."
"Alright. Let's go."
Shuji and Yuzu wandered over to Kannagi-cho Shinjuku, the largest and most crowded shopping district in Tokyo. Yuzu was up for anything, from watching a movie to karaoke, but they both agreed that somewhere with phone reception would be best. Shuji only half paid attention, his attention suddenly captured by a group of strange people dressed in matching orange outfits with purple accents. A podium sat in the middle of the road pushed a man's head above the crowd and he seemed to be making a speech. The two teens drifted over in that direction to see what was going on.
"…And lo, the smiting from God against the Tower of Babel returns!" he man on the podium shouted, "Now, along with our Shomonkai, let us bring the world together. With the power of the Internet, the world will be as one once more…"
Yuzu rolled her eyes. "What a bunch of weirdoes. 'The power of the Internet', huh? Gimme a break…I think it's great that the Internet connects the world, but all this stuff about gods and bringing the world together… I don't know."
"I'm apathetic. The Internet is what it is," he replied, watching the man's expression. His face never seemed to shift from its one position, wide-eyed and mystified.
"Let's go somewhere else. Come on, Minato."
"Tonight and for the next three days, fellow members who believe in the power of the Internet will gather in Tokyo. All are welcome to take part," the man continued and they walked away, "Believe in His Majesty and prepare for the ordeal. That is when we shall…"
The speech continued, drowned out by the crowd, and Shuji idly wondered what kind of ordeal he was talking about. 'I know I was looking for something weird, but this wasn't the kind of weird I meant.'
Further wandering took them to Omotesando. Yuzu ran past the windows excitedly, looking into all the stores. "They're all so fashionable and mature, you know? I used to go to Harajuku all the time, but I always wanted to fit in in Omotesando. Hey, do you think I stick out like a sore thumb here?"
Shuji shrugged. "You're fine. I think I'm the out of place one."
She giggled. "Aww, don't worry about it. Still, thanks. Don't you think Harajuku and Omotesando have different images? Omotesando feels more like Aoyama's style than Harajuku's… Speaking of Aoyama, what time is it?"
"16:30," Shuji muttered, looking at his COMP, "Thinking about the mail?"
"Yeah. It said the attack would be happening around now…"
Suddenly, a police car drove down the street, sirens wailing. Everyone on the street stopped and watched it pass. Several more followed after it. Shuji felt a shiver run up his spine. "They're headed toward Aoyama…"
Yuzu paled. "There's no way it could be true, right?"
"We should check it out," he muttered bluntly, eyes still following the police cars out of sight. Without waiting for a reply, he headed for Aoyama, Yuzu close behind him.
The building the police had pulled up to was, in fact, Naoya's building. Shuji only recognized it because he had helped Naoya move. The doors were roped off by police tape and guarded by officers. A crowd had congregated around it, curious to see what had happened. Shuji tried to look around them, but stopped when he heard familiar footsteps, ones that could only belong to one person.
"I'm surprised you see you, Shuji," Naoya commented, his hands hidden by the sleeves of his haori, "What are you doing here?"
"We were worried," he said, tilting his head to the crowd and the police beyond it.
"Ah, the incident in the building."
"Yeah!" Yuzu piped in, "That weird email made us all jumpy!"
Naoya's lips turned up in a bit of a knowing smile. "I see… You're right. Sorry about that. I didn't mean to frighten you." He looked at the building as he continued. "The person who was eaten was a student, like yourselves. He lived next door to me..."
"E-eaten!" Yuzu gasped. "No way! But we got the email before the incident happened, so…What does this all mean?"
"Shuji knows," Naoya added, "Right? About the demon…"
That's when he remembered. "It… was telling the future…"
Naoya smiled. "Your thought process never ceases to amaze me. Usually, one would suspect that the sender of the email was the murderer. But this is something you, as my cousin, would know about. Very good. I understand why the two of you came here. But our meeting here is an accident. We shouldn't be talking like this. Hurry and find Atsuro. It's going to begin soon…" he finished, his voice dropping to a low whisper. "Listen to me, both of you. Do not turn away from what is about to happen. Do not be afraid to stand up against it. That is when the door of truth will open… Overcome your fate."
"Begin…? Demon…? What's going on?" Yuzu asked frantically, but Naoya only gave Shuji a strange look and walked off.
Shuji grabbed her arm gently. "I'll explain Laplace's demon later. Let's go." 'I'm not sure what Naoya meant by all of it, but something is happening, and I'm not liking the direction it's going in.'
If I had known then what I know now, I would have called Atsuro and all three of us would have left the Yamanote Circle. I would have ran as far away from this as I could have. But now that I am in this and know what I know, I can't say I would go back and do the same thing. Thinking about it, I'm glad Atsuro and Yuzu are here to help me. I don't think I would have made it this far without them.
Halfway back to Shibuya, Atsuro called them, saying he had figured out how to crack the encryption. He asked them to meet in front of the Electric Museum, so they made their way there.
"What took you guys so long? How far did you go?"
"To see Naoya," Shuji answered, and launched into his explanation, including what Naoya meant about Laplace's demon.
"The email actually came true? And Naoya mentioned a demon that can predict the future…?" Atsuro rubbed his forehead. "Anyway, why didn't you call me? I had stuff I wanted to ask Naoya."
Shuji shrugged. "Sorry. A lot happened."
"Oh well. It's okay. Can't change that. …Are you sure Naoya wasn't joking? He's got a sense of humor, doesn't he?"
"It's Naoya," Shuji mumbled, "but something's different about him, and the police were really there."
Yuzu nodded. "And there's still more in the email."
"Well, we're not really clear if the mail and this 'Laplace demon' are actually connected, but it would be strange if those the other things didn't happen. Still, it's unlikely. Besides, once I crack these COMPs, everything will makes sense."
"So, you figured something out then, Atsuro?" Yuzu asked, looking over at his work.
Atsuro smiled sheepishly. "Sort of. I think Naoya knew I would try something like this, so he made it so that they're always monitoring each other. I can't crack one alone. They're sending a constant signal, so-"
"Enough! Just do it already!" Yuzu snapped, covering her ears, "you're giving me a headache."
He chuckled. "Alright, I'm going to unlock the systems now. Turn the COMPs on."
Shuji pulled the COMP out of his pocket and turned it on, waiting for Atsuro to get started. Looking around, he saw someone nearby half-hidden by the corner of a building. He caught a glimpse of silver hair and a black haori as the person turned away, but he could feel the strange presence that he had felt around Naoya earlier still lingering in the air. 'What was he doing here?'
"Alright," Atsuro spoke up, "I'm done. I'm restarting the COMPs now!"
The screen on the COMP went blank, the red logo appeared, and then the menu screen came back up. It cleared again and more writing appeared.
Decryption confirmed. Booting program.
Text began scrolling along the screen, the programs in the COMP being installed and loaded.
DEMON SUMMONING PROGRAM ready to boot.
Booting DEMON SUMMONING PROGRAM.
Something scrolled up the screen and out of sight faster than Shuji could read it. One line, a quotation, appeared on the screen before another, different message typed itself out.
Peaceful days are over. Let's survive.
A bright white light emanated from the COMPs, blinding them. Shuji covered his eyes, and the future was set in motion.