Specializing Expertise (Human Resources Management)
Hiro: Hi, dear readers. I congratulate you for having the patience not to substitute this guide for firewood in the lieu of that slipup in the last chapter. Here I'm back with more top secret survival and beside me is my assistant for this chapter, Daichi.
Daichi: Hey, everyone!
Hiro: In this second chapter, we'll deal with the topic of manpower. After the apocalypse strikes, the survivors do have the tendency to band together, providing the group with personnel of diverse skills. Nevertheless, with the daunting task of staying alive, you are soon likely to find yourself severely lacking in manpower. To make up for this, it is imperative that tasks are assigned in accordance to each person's respective expertise. The key to survival was to employ each person and use them to the best effect.
Daichi: Wait, what about me? Don't tell me I don't have any talent.
Hiro: Don't be silly. Everyone has someone can do to contribute. For that reason, I look forward to working with you, meatshield.
Daichi: Meatshield? Me?!
Hiro: Did you say something, meatshield? That's not right. You're supposed to stay silent and soak up damage for me.
Daichi: Hey, that's not funny! Not funny at all!
Hiro: Don't be so jumpy, man. That was a joke. Have you forgotten your true ability, the one true talent of suicide bombing?
Daichi: Right…so that's it, suicide bombing that certainly sounds useful…Wait! What?!
JPS Tokyo Branch (9.00AM)
Once again, it seemed to be too much to ask for a peaceful morning in the JPS Tokyo headquarter. The dainty silence was shattered by the pair that was chasing each other down the hallway at their top speed.
"Stop following me around!"
"Agree to help me then!"
On any ordinary day Hiro and Daichi would be inseparable, but this was one rare occasion in which there seemed to be an insane glint in Hiro's eyes. As experience had taught him, Daichi knew that it was the time when his best friend wouldn't just simply cross the boundary of reason but dash through without a single glance back, cackling madly all the while.
Indeed, it was time to avoid Hiro like a plague.
"Hell no, man. Hell no. Just hell no!"
"Give it some thought! ASSAULT DIVE!"
The two tumbled down along the way after Hiro downed Daichi with a diving shoulder tackle.
"Come now, why don't we carry out this talk like two civilized human being?"
"Yes…that would be good…that's excellent, so why don't you take your…arm…off…my…neck?!" Daichi screamed, but failed to release himself from Hiro who was applying a headlock with the same dazzling smile.
"This? Oh, this? This is just a…leverage, you know, something to ease your decision making process."
"Great! I get to choose?"
"Of course, I'm a generous man, so I'd like to recruit you willingly. Let's see, would you like to join me now or being choked into joining me?"
"What's the difference then?!"
'The difference is that one is marginally less painful than the other. Don't sweat the details. From this moment onward, you are a key member in this secret Operation Super Charge! Is there any question, soldier?"
"…Yessir, where the hell can I hand in my resignation?"
"Come on, spare me some trust here."
"Dude, I can't trust anything that goes by that name! What the hell are we doing anyway?"
"Nothing more dangerous than usual…" said Hiro with an angelic smile. "You know, just driving around…"
"That doesn't sound too bad."
"In a testosterone-filled trip of road rage, leaving flattened demons in our wake."
"…Just forget what I said. I'm out."
"You can't be opting out now. Your driving skill is imperative for its success."
Daichi remained skeptical but the talk was buttering him little by little. "Really?"
"Of course, why else would I go through all this trouble, if there's anyone else as gullible, I mean, skillful with driving as you. Be proud, man, you're the only one I could rely on. You're the only one we rely on."
"That's right…Of course, that's right."
"And who knows may be the one that Io would rely on as well."
"That's right! Yeah! Way to go me! Let me do it! Let me do it, please!"
Way to go, Schumacher. You're the only driver that could be talked into going with this insane mess of a plan.
"Did you say something?"
"It must be your imagination." Hiro dropped the matter with a smile on his face. In truth, he had his fair share of excitement. He could barely wait to watch this small scale reenactment of the skill that proved to be a decisive blow to Dubhe.
Of course, being in the testing stage, they would go after smaller target than the multi-colored cone of doom and, with him taking the emergency support role, everything would be alright. There was simply no way his plan could go wrong...
…On a completely unrelated matter, he heard that the good fortune bringer, Biliken, is being auctioned at a bargain price.
An early morning report indicated that a dozen of Nozuchi were wrecking havoc in the area of Shinjuku, now a mere remnant of the once busy commercial street. The timing of the incident couldn't be any better. Hiro immediately volunteered himself and the reluctant and groaning Daichi to deal with the demons.
Behind one the upturned vehicle that lined the street, Hiro observed his targets gathering in flock. His role in the plan was that of a decoy. Daichi went in search of any vehicle.
By the time of his arrival, the Nozuchi seemed to have been done with their rampage and were lazing along the ground, easy targets for Daichi to crush under the merciless wheels, but Hiro thought he could bring the challenge up a notch.
After climbing on top of his improvised barricade, Hiro took a deep breath and shouted at the top of his lungs. "Hey! HEY! Catch me if you can you loafing piles of asses!"
For the first few seconds, the Nozuchi were startled by the insult. It was unthinkable that a human would attempt to provoke demons in this manner. Most human reacted to their presence by screaming, trembling, or running the hell away from them.
"I said to try and catch me turd face!"
After a while, the Nozuchi did recover and set out after Hiro in rage. Ridiculous as the demons might seem, their legs packed quite enough strength to kill a man and, in pack, they could prove to be deadly, but Hiro was far from being helpless.
Several Gozukis and Mezukis rushed out in his defense and formed a defensive line. The Nozuchi were kept at bay.
Perfect…Ahh, how can my plan be any more perfect?
The familiar melody interrupted Hiro's episode of narcissistic indulgence. Judging that Gozuki and Mezuki would be enough keep the enemies at bay until Daichi's arrival, he turned his attention to his cell phone.
A new message? Now?
A glance at the sender's name had him frozen for a second.
Nicaea - the death face delivery site, the name was written clearly on screen.
The message compelled Hiro into making another call. This was a serious matter, one that he could not overlook. An immediate action had to be taken.
"Hello? Customer support for demon auction? Don't, huh, me! I want reimbursement for my purchased Biliken…! Cause he's rip-off that's why…! Well, it's either that or he's one piss-poor god of luck! No return policy?! Some customer service, you are. Where's your manager?!"
…For the time being, Daichi seemed to be left on his own to overcome this plight.
"Like I said, don't make this sound so easy..." Daichi cursed profusely. He had no confidence in the plan, not even in the slightest bit, but he had tumbled in too far with this mad man to back down.
Most of the vehicle that scattered on the road failed to make an impression upon him. What he need wasn't something for ordinary transportation, but something sturdy to withstand demon, something bigger, stronger, and more badass. He needed a monster machine.
As if guided by fate, there was one that parked right before him, waiting silently in the ruin of Shinjuku.
The monster stood before Daichi, staring at him with its headlamp. Its burly metallic frame was left untouched despite all of the surrounding destruction. It nothing short of majestic, the king of the road, and it was beckoning him.
Withholding his breath in awe, Daichi slipped into the driver seat of a looming ten-wheeler as if in a trance.
A twist of key later and the engine came alive with a small hum. The vehicle seemed to have been abandoned by its driver in fright that the key was left in the compartment and the door hanged open loosely. What a fool to have abandoned such a powerful weapon.
With some difficulty, the vehicle eased onto the road and began to pick up speed.
The line of Nozuchi stood before the juggernaut, completely absorbed in their attempt to charge pass Gozuki and Mezuki.
A few were mowed down instant as massive steel wheels rolled them over. Their remains left abandoned on the ground…
"Yes! Yes! Did you see that? Did you see that, you damn demons? YEE-HAW!"
But Daichi's moment of victory had failed to receive the admiration it deserved for meanwhile…
"One-fourth? Are you kidding?! It was just a few hours, since I bought that little critter!"
Back toward Daichi's side, the remaining Nozuchi gathered against the manmade juggernaut, mankind's worst enemy pitted against the very force of technology that had risen them to the very top of the foodchain.
The duel was on.
It was a massacre
The Nozuchi's best attempt to bring Daichi down with the ice spell was foiled by the sheer endurance of the vehicle, leaving another unfortunate demon was left flattened on the road.
"Wahahahahaha! Stay down demon! You are no match for the might of my dreadnaught!"
It was Daichi's moment of crowning, the first time that he could come to savor the sense of absolute superiority over other beings.
Daichi learned a new skill.
Roadkill (Command Skill) - Severe physical damage to all enemy in straight line (range and dimension depending on the vehicle used). The user would be subjected to 30% chance of crash, causing physical damage and immobilization.
The vehicle empowered him. With it, he was powerful. With it, he was unstoppable. With it, he was…invincible.
"WAHAHAHA! Those that don't want to die prostrate themselves before me! Beg, mongrels! Beg, so that you might be spared!"
… Oh…right, Daichi…. He's already here?
"Hey, Daichi, would you kindly get out of the car now."
"Watch your language, peasant! No one may command me!"
The screech of tire drowned out Hiro's voice as Daichi slammed the brake for a sharp u-turn.
With a small shrug, Hiro began to resume filing his complaints. Everything would be fine, if Daichi could maintain his kill streak.
…If only that was the case.
Among the rest that bounce off the steel frame, several chunks of ice became lodged in the front tires. Unsurprisingly, both tires exploded as soon as Daichi began to pick up speed.
The vehicle ran face first into the nearby store where it was trapped by the flock of rage-filled Nozuchi that closed in upon the crash site. Their mind was unified in getting a taste of the sweet, sweet flavor of revenge.
The crash seemed to snap Daichi out of his temporary insanity.
"Oh shit! Oh shit! Help me!"
"That feature of the demon wasn't meant to be taken literally? Then this is a case of false advertising, you moron!"
"Half price?! This is an insult! I'm far from satisfied with your half-assed attempt!"
"Well, fine, but I expect that sum to be in my account within an hour! Thank for nothing, mongrels!"
"DUDE! Stop talking on the phone and help me!"
"Right…Welcome back to the real world, your highness. Now would you kindly put the car in reverse."
"R-Right!" Shifting gear, Daichi slammed his foot on the gas pedal. The wheel whirred, but the vehicle failed to make any movement. "Shit! It can't move!"
Up till this point, the turn of events had faithfully followed the deathclip. Hiro might've failed to stop the very personification of road rage, namely Daichi, but he wasn't careless as to not come without out a backup plan.
"Stop them…" To intercept the entire horde, he needed a demon with a wide-range spell. There was one that fits the requirement better than any others. "…..Pumpkin Head!"
"Ho- hee-ho! I'll torch them all with my flame, ho!" A pyro jack tumbled out of Hiro's cell phone, apparently itching to join in the fight.
"Don't hold back! Barbeque their assses!"
"You don't have to say that twice!"
Purely by chance, it was in that moment that Hiro had laid his eyes upon a crucial piece of information regarding Daichi's choice of vehicle.
Extreme hazard: highly flammable material.
Somehow the bold black letters written on a contrasting yellow background and a clear illustration of skull and flame for additional effect seemed to have eluded him. Therefore, logically the dripping sound from the crash site would have to mean that…
"Abort mission! Haul your ass right back here!"
"Ho, Master, it's been sometime, since you called. Having me out wouldn't hurt, hee ho!"
It'll hurt...badly. Those idiots are rampaging their arse off on a barbeque stove.
Hiro cursed his luck. Of all the available time, this was when his demon chose to be rebellious. "Fine then, you little bastard! Just don't you dare make even a spark!"
"Booo, that's no fun!"
"Hee-ho, fine then! I ain't gonna torch them."
Pyro Jack without the use of fire spell would only prove to be marginally stronger than a single Nozuchi, but the distraction it could provide was valuable for him to summon others demon for support.
The situation seemed to be going well, but, for some reason, Hiro still couldn't shake away the feeling that he'd forgotten something…something very important.
"Hee-ho, I'll thrash'em up front!" Lacking even the slightest notion of danger, PyroJack rushed onward. The small lantern, it carried made small chinging sound with every movement.
Wait a second… Lantern…?
… Note to self, need to ask for blessing from Omoikane for more brain power.
"Wait, Pumpkin Head! Pull back! Abort mission!"
"Weapons down! Weapon downs! COME BACCKKK!"
There was no combination worse than an overly enthusiastic Pyro Jack and a leaking fuel tank.
Having fairly good idea about the content, Hiro flipped his cell phone and braced for the worst.
Racial skill ranked up. Daichi's "roadkill" has become "roadside explosion"
Hiro gulped. The message was anything but reassuring.
Roadside Explosion (Auto Skill)
Automatic activation after the use of the command skill roadkill with specific type of vehicle. Inflict severe fire damage to all units within 30 meters radius. 100% chance of the user being incapacitated after use.
A blast of flame engulfed the entire battlefield, sending the entire horde of demon that surrounded the truck to their infernal demise. Screams of agony overlapped the blast of explosion.
"How is it, Master? I took out them all out in one blow, Ho!"
"Indeed…For the achievement of burning down every life in this block, I promote you to an official title of Pyromaniac Jack."
"Aww, Master, you flatter me."
"That was not meant to be a compliment, but oh well…"
The flame raged on with Daichi's painful scream in its midst…
A rescue attempt and a samarecarm later, Daichi was wobbling alongside Hiro on their peaceful trek back home.
"The experiment was a grand success. We have to run it again…"
"Hell no, I'm fine only one trial! I already saw a couple of those angel chicks flying around before you dragged me out. "
"So it's like a preview to the real thing. Man, I'm envious, so you're going to heaven…"
"I'm too young to die! I don't even have a girlfriend!"
"But you know, being a hero is the best way to impress them girls and who can be a hero without taking any a little risk."
Daichi stalled his feet just as he began to walk away. The bait was taken
"The girl would swoon over you and Io might be so impressed. You know like those moments after the hero save the girl on silver screen. She'll squeal delightfully "my hero!" and then they'll lean in closer …"
"And?! And?! What's next?!"
"What's next, huh? Well, I guess you'll have to…find out for yourself..."
"Right…Right! Let me do it then."
"I wouldn't imagine stealing your glory."
…And pain…loads of pain...
At least, I'm sure that Pyromaniac Jack would be thrilled to have a new partner
At the moment Daichi was oblivious to the fact that he had just signed his death warrant.
It took literally two minutes into the next battle before his new-found ability would be abused by the trigger-happy hand of Hiro Kageyama.
Within the first few days of his new job, Daichi was turned into human-explosive for more times than any suicide bomber. Even the newly bestowed title of "Captain Kamikaze" seemed to grant him little justice.
If there is any character that you want to see as the (most unfortunate) guest in the next chapter, please tell me in the review. Meanwhile, please review the story, if it's not too much of a trouble. Many Thanks!