Chapter 13 – A Piece of the Apocalypse
Hunting and gathering were some of mankind’s oldest instincts.
The sensation of reward gained from finding something was one that had been passed down from generation to generation.
I felt the same way.
Having found something useful from my expedition, I felt as if I could sprout wings and fly.
The fact that this was the abyss, the furthest place from the sky, could not deter my joy.
It also wasn’t even much work.
It was quite literally the level of effort of a dog having found a bone on a morning walk.
‘Thank god this is still around.
It’s a subject for immediate disposal as a level 3 classified national secret.’
In a good mood, I dug my fingers through Azzy’s hair and pet her.
“You’re sooo cute! How can you be this good?”
A normal person would be wary if someone suddenly hugged them and called them cute.
However, Azzy was a dog who didn’t know what doubt was.
She felt happy even at empty compliments.
Barking happily, Azzy turned back towards me and asked a question.
“Do you like walks now?”
“Just for today.
I love walks.”
“ Woof? Love?”
“ It means you really like something.”
“Woof! Me too! I love walks!”
They said a full belly was the cause for generosity.
I felt more benevolent than better with my pockets heavy.
This good-for-nothing dog looked rather adorable today.
Smiling happily together, we walked out of the ruins.
Keep acting nice like this in the future too.”
“I’m always nice!”
Every time you didn’t like something, you would bare your teeth and growl.”
As if she was acting like she had never done so, Azzy pretended not to know what I was talking about.
No, she might have actually deleted her memory of doing so.
Dogs are shameless animals.
‘Hah, good thing a human like me is remembering clearly.’
I showed my teeth at Azzy and made a growling noise.
Azzy cocked her head and raised her tail, and followed my actions.
Don’t growl from now on.
And don’t use your teeth either.
Don’t try to bite me as well.
Even if you have a problem, use your tongue.
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
「Don’t use teeth… Only use your tongue…? Is he…?」
As I was having a serious conversation with Azzy, I felt a sudden sense of bloodlust directed towards me.
Has he already…? No, I followed them already, so there mustn’t have been time.」
The regressor was shooting a deathly glare at me.
‘Huh? Bloodlust? Why?’
As I was in shock and unable to react, the regressor clutched the blade behind her.
「Anyway, it was attempted, right? Yeah.
I’ll kill him.」
I grabbed Azzy’s shoulders and thrust her forward, between me and the regressor.
Unknowing of the fact that I had just used her as a shield, she blankly stared at the regressor.
I shouted out in a panic while cowering behind Azzy.
“I don’t know what you’re thinking, but it’s all a big misunderstanding!”
“What’s the misunderstanding?”
“Everything! Starting with your dirty mind! Everything!”
“Dirty? Me? Not you?”
“Yes! You pervert who thinks everything is about weird stuff like that!”
Ah, she took out her blade.
I stood behind Azzy as best as I could and shouted.
“Perverts think everyone else is a pervert! Just what kind of person do you think I am?!”
With a cold stare, the regressor replied.
“That’s just not true!”
The regressor was having some really weird thoughts right now.
This accusation was so nonsensical that I felt more confused than angry.
I mean, I’ve been framed for a lot of things in my life, but never beastiality.
Also, she’s immediately going to kill for that? She’s even worse than the Military State!
At the regressor who was slowly approaching me, I screamed with my heart.
“With a dog? Don’t be so weird.
What kind of person would have a sexual relationship with a dog?”
The regressor dug through her memories and thought of a couple people in her mind.
They were probably people who had attempted something similar.
‘Fuck, I guess the end of the world would erode human sanity.
You shameful subhumans of humanity.’
I put my palm to my head and retorted.
There are people in the world who do things that can’t be understood with the human mind.
But not me! I’m a normal guy with normal tastes!”
“…You keep treating Azzy like a dog.”
The regressor pointed at Azzy whose shoulders I was still holding on to.
“Are you doing that on purpose, or do you actually think so?”
“Azzy isn’t a dog.
She’s the Dog King.
A Beast King who has the form of a human.”
Azzy looked towards me and the regressor with an empty look on her face; large shining eyes and a face full of curiosity, panting as if she had just finished a race.
A girl with luscious blond locks.
She was a healthy girl who was a little overactive.
At least that’s how she looked.
“Do you understand now? You kept treating her like a dog, but she’s actually the—”
“Are you crazy?”
As the regressor flinched at my outburst, I shoved Azzy right in front of her.
Azzy had her eyes wide open as I moved her around.
“Why don’t you say it, Trainee Shei? Is Azzy a human?!”
“What? What are you…”
“Answer me! Is Azzy a human? Is she beautiful?”
At my relentless questions, the regressor started murmuring in a defensive manner.
“Sh-She has the form of a human, doesn’t she?”
“Did I ask you that? Anyways, so what? Do you get horny when you look at Azzy or something?”
“No! O-Of course not!”
“If you think so too, then why do you think I would be any different? Are you disregarding my basic morals and dignity that much?”
「Y-You’re overly close to her and also the only guy here…」
‘Are you accusing me because I’m a guy?’
I was at a loss for words.
Before Azzy is a female, she is a dog!
Wait, you’re supposed to be pretending to be a guy as well!
It was so outrageous that I couldn’t even get mad.
I usually took insults, but to disregard my basic human dignity was going too far.
“Trainee Shei, listen closely.”
When anger gets to a certain point, you suddenly calm down.
I was at that point right now.
After letting out a deep sigh from the bottom of my chest, I began my sermon to the regressor.
“Let’s say there’s a person who tries to play fetch with another human, and another person asks how their day has been.
Who is the normal person here?”
“Th-That’s… The person who asks how they’ve been.”
“So you know.
Now, among a person who tries to play fetch with a dog and another person who tries to ask a dog how the dog’s day was, who is the normal person here?”
「She’s a dog, but—」
‘So you’ve admitted it yourself.
Why are you getting mad over this when you know the answer yourself?’
I glared right at the regressor.
“Yes, exactly! It’s normal to treat a dog like a dog! You don’t ask, ‘Hello, how was your breakfast?’ to dogs.”
“Because Azzy has the form of a human? Oh, so that means I can assume you think of Azzy as a human, right? With your perverted eyes, you’re pretending to treat Azzy like another human, trying to get to her body?”
“You’re a man as well! Just like me! Actually, you’re more suspicious than me! Why do you always talk to dogs like they’re people and stalk me? Are you getting jealous? Is that it?!”
“Of course not!”
“Anyone can say that.
Have you seen your own actions?!”
「Ugh, if only I wasn’t crossdressing…!」
The regressor, currently pretending to be a man, was not able to come up with a rebuttal.
I took a step forward, confident that I had won.
Azzy, whose shoulders I was still holding, seemed to think of the whole thing as a funny occurrence.
“Do you understand? You’re the weird one here!”
Logic only told the truth.
The regressor knew so as well.
That I was right.
That I was the more normal one here.
At my attacks involving facts and logic, the regressor started taking stuttering steps backwards.
Of course, Azzy, who couldn’t understand sentences longer than two phrases, was just staring between me and the regressor.
However, that also just proved she was a dog.
Dogs were dogs.
I sent a piercing blow to the regressor with my words who had forgotten such a simple fact.
“You’re the weird one for thinking so much about small talk you have with a dog! Do you understand? I could tell Azzy a hundred, or even a thousand times that I love her! Even if I don’t actually have emotions for her!”
However, at that moment, I had forgotten a very important fact.
Azzy was not only a dog, but also the Dog King that the world had appointed to communicate with humans.
She didn’t really understand what I meant, but she could hear my words.
“Arf?! You don’t like me?!”
With suspicion teeming in her bubbly eyes, Azzy stared up at me from the ground.
Her usually twirling tail was lying limp, and her perky ears were drooping downwards.
“You… hate me?”
“Oh, Azzy, that’s not what I meant.
It’s hard to explain—”
Let’s think about what I’m going to do.
The Dog King is a dog.
I can’t use any difficult words.
Even if I tried to push this off till later, she wouldn’t accept that answer.
So, whatever I say to the regressor as part of my argument, Azzy will think of it as my actual thoughts.
‘With all that in mind, here are my options.
Do I push the regressor further so I can tease her at the risk of Azzy liking me less? Or do I retain a nice relationship with Azzy and let the regressor go?’
…Well, it was inevitable.
I wasn’t stupid enough to give up on the future for a moment of fun.
Making my decision, I opened my arms wide and made a huge smile at Azzy.
“Of course it’s a lie.
I like Azzy a lot.”
You’re the nicest and cutest girl around.”
I wasn’t lying.
With the scary vampire and the bloodthirsty regressor around, Azzy was infinitely more helpful.
If she could read the mood better and had more self-control… it’d be optimal.
But dogs were dogs.
It was something I would need to accept.
“You… like me?”
“I do like you.”
‘I don’t know if she’s pure or stupid, but her mood changes so easily with a few words.
Oh, it’s probably both.
And yet humans love dogs for their purity and stupidity, so it’s a little ironic to berate her for it.’
While I was still grinning from that ironic thought…
“Woof! Do you love me?”
Why did you have to ask me this now when someones watching? Did someone do something? In the first place, who taught a dog a word as meaningless as love?
Oh, they’re both me.
I was suddenly pressured by my past actions.
Trying to ignore the cold stare that the regressor had suddenly regained, I slowly nodded.
“Yeah… I do.”
I could tell a dog I love them a hundred times.
I mean, some people love their dogs more than other human beings.
However… it was something hard to do in front of the regressor’s cold, judging eyes…
But it was inevitable.
I gulped in the suddenly rather serious mood, and opened my lips.
“I love you…”
And then her tail wagged.
People said that words had no weight, but Azzy took even the smallest things the same way.
She smiled and thrust her arms towards me.
Leaning onto me, she allowed me to support her weight.
It was the motion of trust that dogs only showed to people they were really close to.
Pure happiness filled her face.
Grinning like an idiot, Azzy’s eyes were smiling as well.
“Woof! I like you too! I love you!”
I never thought I’d end up whispering words of love to a dog in my life.
Azzy hopped into my arms.
With a shaking hand, I stroked Azzy’s head.
And like always—
「I… need to keep my guard up against that man.」
The regressor looked even warier than before.
Stop looking at me with those judgemental eyes.
And stop fidgeting with the handle of your blade.
I’m not that kind of person.
I just like her as a pet.
「If he is an official of the military and volunteered to come to Tantalus… it would explain his strength.
That’s why I need to stay conscious of him.」
I mean, I can relate to those feelings.
If I heard someone bragging about how they had intercourse with an animal, I’d be disgusted too.
And I don’t have the power to do so, but even if it were true, I wouldn’t immediately try to kill them.
Don’t you think executing someone for loving an animal is a bit too harsh?’
「…An organization in the Special Forces of the Military State.
The secret society who tried to control the Beast Kings to the Military State’s will in order to topple nearby countries.」
‘Wait, what? A secret society?’
「The Human Regime.
The organization of experts in training beasts, and the racists who despise beastmen more than anything else.
He’s likely one of them.」
A series of images flashed through the regressor’s head.
In a past not recorded, the regressor stood in a wide open plain.
The blade lighter than a feather was in her hands, yet her heart felt as heavy as stone.
The guilt that she wasn’t able to stop the apocalypse.
The feeling of helplessness that she wasn’t able to change anything.
She failed in this life as well.
Everyone around her would perish yet again.
And she would open her eyes—alone—so that she could go forth to find another future.
Next to the regressor, dozens of people were lined up, cowering in fear.
Cold sweat dripped from their hands, and their eyes rattled from fear, but they could not even dream of escape.
If what they were going to face was human, they would be able to beg for mercy.
Even if they died, they could at least plead to let their families live.
However, what they were facing now was not bound by human rules.
They had the form of a human, but were not humans in essence.
The horizon quaked.
A rampage of frenzy, led by a couple stray leaders, were the harbingers to thousands of beasts—enough to be described as a layer that coated the earth.
They had some differences.
Some were two-legged, while others had four.
Some were closer to humans, but had ears or tails of animals.
They were the offspring of a sin committed long ago by humanity.
The offsprings of beasts—born as humans yet did not receive treatment as fellow humans—used everything they received to try to kill humanity.
In front of them, human figures that produced an extraordinary aura led the charge.
The Beast Kings.
The leaders that each represented an entire race.
The Beast Kings were mighty, but they did not seek violence.
They were ultimately those who reflected the will of their race; diplomats meant to tell humans their will.
However, if the species they reflected had decided to rebel against humanity, if the will of the species was clear enough…
The king would enact the will of their people.
And amidst their people, those who couldn’t bear the persecution and held hatred stood at the front.
Blood, fire, cinder.
Beasts armed themselves with steel and fire to attack humanity… The combination of wild instincts and weapons were almost like a calamity.
Furthermore, those who made up the majority of the beastmen that had revolted against humanity were—
The Beast King who had gathered the largest army to slaughter humanity was—
The creaking past then faded away, and I was brought back to reality.
What I had just seen was so vivid that I could still see traces of it in my retinas.
That event was the future, at the same time it was the past.
The same past that the regressor experienced, and the same one I would go through if nothing were to change.
I rested my shaking hand on Azzy’s head as she leaned into me.
Her ears fluttered like a butterfly as they raised slightly at my touch.
The Dog King who had her mouth shut as she embraced me—the leader of the trusty, lovely dogs—was smiling while covered in blood in a future that would arrive.
「The existence of Beast Kings is guaranteed by the world.
Even if I killed her here, another one would be born elsewhere.」
Why did I overlook the regressor’s worries?
There was no way the worries of someone who had experienced so much would be overboard.
「As long as Azzy seems emotionally dependent on that man, I can’t remove him.
And it’s also hard to verify if he’s a part of the Human Regime.
But right now, he’s the most likely possibility to cause some rampage.
I’ll need to keep my eye on him.」
Azzy’s body was warm to the touch and soft.
Her hands that had slightly bent backwards to prevent her claws from hurting me provided insight into her desire to not hurt anyone.
She definitely didn’t do it consciously, so that desire to be nice was likely deeply ingrained into her instincts.
Just what caused that thoughtful hand to lead the way towards bloodshed?
It seems the future was harsher than I ever expected.
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