Michael was an author. The number of characters he created and named was… A lot. Too much for him to even remember them all. Hence why he often named his characters in various games, after the more memorable characters in the stories he wrote. Aside from being a kitten, the Sand Cat Demon was actually very close to the color ‘jasmine’ as well. While it had jade-green eyes. Most of them did.
On the other hand, Alice was in a few of his stories, but only a lizard in one of them. She was usually fairly calm and tranquil though. A drug addict and neglectful parent in most of the stories, but everyone has their flaws.
The Japanese letters transformed into English, and Michael was able to read both of the names easily. Eventually though, the light dimmed and settled down into what looked like a crystalline glaze. At that moment, he could feel something strange in the back of his mind. Like the echoes of a meowing cat, combined with the soft purring… Of an iguana. It was a thing that they did sometimes.
Dusty walked over and handed Michael the black backpack, “And now you’ve started on your journey. I put some potions, medicines, food bars, water jugs and well… Clothes in there for you. Although I doubt you’ll find many other people who still use those old Akumatech Phones, you can call me if you’re ever in a situation you can’t handle. Just keep in mind that you won’t have a signal everywhere, and I might not be able to physically reach you in time. So be careful, okay?”
After that, he pulled more than a dozen rings out of his right pocket and tossed them out with pin-point accuracy. Each of them instantly captured a Starter Demon the moment contact was made. There was no resistance or struggle.
“Like I said before. I’m sending these kids off to the nearest Akuma School. Oh, and keep in mind that the Contract between a Demon and a human is a two-way deal. If you’re strong enough, it’s possible to suppress them or force them to submit, but it’ll just be that much easier for someone else to break the Contract and free or capture them later. That’s why you should always remember to treat your Demons well. Don’t spoil them… Just, don’t use them as tools. You need to work together in order to truly grow stronger.”
Michael followed Dusty back into the lab, where the middle-aged man scrounged around a bit. Eventually he found a small square device that had an LCD screen on the front, and a slot on the top.
After handing it to the boy, he said: “Now this is really important. It’s pretty tough, so it probably won’t break, but you might lose it if you aren’t careful. It’s called an Akumatech Instant-Transfer Box. Back when I was a kid, these things were huge and had to be installed in secure facilities but well… Anyway, I’ll stop rambling on about the past. If you place a ring in the hole, it can be teleported to a safe location. In this case, my lab here. More specifically, I have a vault in the storage closet. When they’re inside a ring that isn’t being worn, Demons can’t perceive time or anything really. It’s like they’re in stasis. Inside the vault, they’ll be safe, even after thousands of years… Theoretically. With the touchscreen, you can select a ring and it’ll be teleported into the slot. Super convenient, and it works on ambient mana in the atmosphere, so you don’t even need to charge it.”
“That does seem unrealistically easy.” Michael took the box and casually placed it in the backpack, then went over to the bathroom and put some of the clothes on. There was a pair of beige shorts, which were almost too tight, but at least fit without needing a belt. Some black sandals, a white t-shirt and black boxers. Even though the backpack didn’t seem that large, there were several sets of clothing stuffed inside the main compartment. Medicine and potions were in the back and more easily accessible. While he just put the cellphone in his left pocket.
“Hmm, I don’t think I have any spare camping gear laying around here.” Dusty suddenly remembered something really important, “Once your Demons get to a certain point, you can just fly places really fast, teleport or use their powers to create and find shelter. But it’s kind of dangerous to head out into the wilderness without a tent… How about this? You’ve seen the ruins outside my ranch, right? That used to be a place called Aurora Town… I lived there as a kid. My old house is still intact for the most part. Why don’t you go explore those ruins as the first step of your adventure? If you find anything umm, personal, like old photos and stuff like that… Bring them to me. I’ll give you a reward.”
Michael sighed, then asked: “This is probably obvious, but those ruins are haunted as fuck, right?”
“Oh yeah, super haunted!” Dusty nodded his head and chuckled, before patting Michael on the shoulder and saying: “Good luck!”
Of course, the boy didn’t leave immediately. Instead, he decided to mooch a decent meal off the generous retired protagonist. A large bowl of ramen, with eggs, sauerkraut and… ‘shrimp’. Michael didn’t want to know whether the ingredients were once unfortunate Yokai, so he didn’t ask.
Sitting at the dinner table, aside from Dusty and Michael, there were actually three other ‘people’. One of them looked like a samurai in full gold and black armor, but instead of a demonic face-mask, it was a cute smiley emoticon. Not only that, but the pink smiley face was able to eat food, drink alcohol and speak simple phrases like: “Arigato Gozaimasu!” and “Onegaishimasu”… Essentially, it could speak basic commonly used Japanese words. For whatever reason, English was impossible though. It was called Happy Samurai, and was #195 of the World-Wide Akuma List.
Maid-san had no mouth and didn’t need to eat or drink. In fact, she physically couldn’t. At least not in the conventional sense. Instead, she clung closely to Dusty’s left side and fed off his ‘energy’. Thus, he needed to eat at least twice as much as normal in order to feel full.
The third person had feminine features such as prominent breasts, three of them. Although she had a humanoid body, there were purple scales covering it and three long serpentine heads sticking out of her relatively small neckline. Although the necks themselves were each as long as her entire torso. She had four thick, muscular arms and sickles instead of hands. #99 on the Akuma List, Orochisan-san. There were a lot of different snake-like Demons, so having one named Mister/Miss 3-Snake was a little silly… No, perhaps it fit the childish appeal of a Japanese children’s game in the first place. Especially considering how monstrous and dangerous the beast actually was. As with many of the obviously unnatural creatures, the Orochisan-san had the Chaos Element.
All three heads were trying to eat different things at the same time. While Happy Samurai was actually using chopsticks, even though his hands were basically gauntlets. Michael felt a little awkward being surrounded with so many voracious monsters, so he ate quickly with a fork and then said: “Thanks for the meal, and everything else. But I really should be um, off on my adventure, heh~!”
“Be careful and good luck!” Dusty stopped eating, stood up and walked Michael over to the door. Then he explained, “Even though you’ll find a lot of ghosts in Aurora Town, they aren’t very dangerous. I’m more worried about the buildings themselves… If you get in trouble, don’t be afraid to call me for help.”
“Thanks, I’ll definitely give you a call if a fucking house collapses on me.” Michael waved at him as he headed over to the seemingly normal fence gate. But the moment he left the yard and closed it, he noticed that it got really dark in a matter of seconds. He looked up at the sky, realizing that the sun had sunk behind the mountain-peak.
“Fucking terrific… Now I gotta search a goddamn haunted town in the dark.”