Chapter 13:

The Revelation

Ruler of the Outland


I woke up feeling like my head was going to split into two. My vision was so blurry that I had to blink a few times before I could actually see anything. It was dark, but I faintly caught sight of the walls surrounding me. This was a confined space, I assumed.Bookmark here

"Where am I?" I wondered aloud to no one in particular. My eyes hadn't adapted to the darkness yet and I didn't know if there were people here aside from me.Bookmark here

Then I suddenly felt a severe burning sensation in my left shoulder. The pain was so intense that I couldn't help but groan, my hand reaching for the wound to feel how bad it was and check whether it was already treated or not; I could sense a bandage covering it, at least they were capable of doing the bare minimum. It reminded me of how Agent Moteki had shot me before I'd lost my consciousness. That bastard.Bookmark here

"You're in a prison, if you still haven't figured it out. Let me guess. Werewolf bite?" someone answered me. Judging from how close the voice was, he was in the same room with me, but I couldn't make out his face in the dark. My eyes took so long to adjust, telling me that the drug hadn't worn off completely.Bookmark here

To be honest, I had no idea what Agent Moteki and Agent Sakatani had arrested me for. They had just shot me on sight without any further explanation or any arrest warrant. Giving him a vague answer was probably the best decision for now, since I also didn’t know what the situation was, whether he was an enemy or an ally.Bookmark here

Groaning out loud, I exaggerated the pain in my head as my excuse for taking a long time to answer, so he wouldn’t deem me as an enemy or something. I pretended to be an oblivious person, just in case he suspected me of anything. “I-I don’t know. They just shot me out of nowhere. What do you mean by werewolf bite? Did everyone here get that?”Bookmark here

He'd voiced out his assumption that I got bitten by a werewolf as soon as I regained my consciousness, which must be the case for most of the people captured here. Then it would mean I was actually going in the right direction. Ryumine and the gang were aiming for mass infection.Bookmark here

I realized I could use my time being locked up here as a chance of gathering information. Yes, that sounded like a good plan. And once I was allowed a phone call, I could use it to call Aberu and share what I gathered with him.Bookmark here

"That's strange. If you didn't get bitten, why would they put you here? Most of the agents who were sent here yesterday got werewolf bites on them. Oh, by the way, I'm Agent Kirima from Area 10. I've never seen you before." Agent Kirima scooted closer towards where I was sitting and held out his hand. Only after he closed the distance could I see his face—a face I didn't recognize; a young silver-haired man in an SCD uniform who didn't look older than me. It's either we never crossed paths with each other or he was a new recruit.Bookmark here

I shook his hand and spotted that both our hands were cuffed. "Agent Okajima. Area 1. No idea why I was captured. That's what I want to find out as well. How long have I been here?"Bookmark here

"They give us three meals each day. All three have come since they put you here, so a day, maybe." Agent Kirima snapped his finger in recognition. "Ah, you're the infamous savage agent, aren't you? I don't believe the rumor, of course."Bookmark here

Waving my hand dismissively, I lied through my teeth, "That rumor is stupid. There's no truth in that. Forget about it. Tell me more about these werewolf bites. And about yourself. How long have you been here?"Bookmark here

The two of us were the only inmates in this cell and there was no one else within hearing range, so I proceeded with my plan to gather information. Agent Kirima seemed to have put his trust in me upon seeing my SCD uniform—me playing stupid must also have convinced him more—since he was willing to tell me everything he knew about the place. Bookmark here

I was lucky to be put in the same cell as him. I couldn't imagine the chaos if I were put together with someone who supported the other side of the council.Bookmark here

After getting the bite, Agent Kirima had been detained here for three days at most, according to his own count. His cellmate before me was also an agent bitten by a werewolf, which explained why he'd assumed I was, too. She was moved into another cell the moment before I arrived. Agent Kirima hadn’t met her again after her transfer, but he said we could meet her at the prison yard.Bookmark here

The two of them had been gathering information during their daily physical exercise time in the prison yard where they met all the other prisoners. The physical exercise lasted for an hour each day and we would get to be in the same place with everyone at once. Even if the prison guards strictly supervised us, we could still secretly have a short conversation while pretending to exercise. This was a great chance.Bookmark here

When I asked him what he'd found from his digging, he answered, "The higher-ups in SCD knew about the enemies' plan in turning the agents—it's obvious from the skyrocketing number of the infected agents yesterday alone—and they're going to retaliate. And when I said retaliate, I meant they will start killing. You know, taking out the tranquilizer in our weapons and replacing it with pure silver. Someone's chief said that."Bookmark here

I had been dreading this. SCD wouldn't just sit back and let the Outland assault them as they pleased. Of course, they would strike back. There would be an all-out war.Bookmark here

Shaking my head in disapproval, I said, "That's a bad idea. If we start killing, then they will, too. There will be a bloodbath with a lot of lives lost."Bookmark here

"Well, we can't actually stop that from happening, can't we? It's bound to happen. We just need to be prepared."Bookmark here

"Do you know if there's a cure for these bites? Maybe we can convince them to change their mind."Bookmark here

Agent Kirima snorted bitterly at my question. “Do I look like someone who would know something as important as that? No, of course not. It’s only my first year working and as you can see, I have crappy luck.”Bookmark here

I quickly corrected my question, “I mean, didn’t you and your friend try to find out how to cure yourselves?”Bookmark here

“We did ask around. No one has a single clue. Everyone who got bitten in the past went to their side. That’s a given, though. Rotting in prison isn't worth it. Might as well go rogue and join their packs.”Bookmark here

"I won't lie. With us being locked up here, the other option does sound tempting."Bookmark here

"Right? SCD just throws us away once we get infected. They don't even think to find a cure for us. They treat us like we're the bad guys. We're victims, aren't we?"Bookmark here

I could see Agent Kirima's trust in SCD falter as he began to question the way they treated their own agents. They immediately locked them up after finding out they could be potentially dangerous, disregarding everything the agents had done to serve Zerin. He was confused about his own views on what's right and wrong. He reminded me of myself the first time I learned the truth about both worlds.Bookmark here

There was no right and wrong, in my opinion. This was just a huge, never ending cycle of hatred between the humans and the Outlanders. One hurt the other, the other took revenge, and so on. It would never end, unless one side had the strength and bravery to cut the chain and sever the link of hatred. Otherwise, it's difficult to see them live side by side. Still, peace was near impossible to achieve with the current tension the both worlds had.Bookmark here

First thing first, I needed to find a cure for Nohana and possibly, for every agent getting stuck here. I could at least convince them to help stop the fight in exchange for the cure. If every infected agent was cured, there's no reason for SCD to retaliate.Bookmark here

"When you said we'd get to meet everyone at once during physical exercise, do you mean everyone? Including the savages, too?" I asked, thinking that I could maybe ask the Outlanders.Bookmark here

Agent Kirima said spitefully, "Yes, of course. I just mentioned that they treat us as if we're the monsters themselves. They'd lump us together, obviously. They only made us wear the uniform to embarrass ourselves in front of them."Bookmark here

The cell was dark with nothing but a faint lighting attached to the door. We were surrounded by solid walls with no windows. The only gap for us to see what’s happening outside was from the door which was made from silver bars; I still had my necklace on, which meant silver didn’t hurt me, but I didn’t want them to know about that, so I kept my distance. There’s barely movement outside the cell, aside from the guards checking out each cell every once in a while. Bookmark here

There’s no way to know the time precisely, except for when they brought us out for daily exercise then we knew it’s morning. Having literally nothing to do, I closed my eyes and took some rest, since I didn’t know if I would get this much time to relax again after getting out of here. Agent Kirima’s constant chattering was like a lullaby slowly driving me to sleep.Bookmark here

Someone shoved my shoulder hard and jolted me awake. I was about to complain, but I changed my mind when I saw the cell’s door was open and the guards were waiting outside. Agent Kirima was the one waking me up, saying that it’s time for daily physical exercise. Bookmark here

It’s time for information gathering.Bookmark here

As if the cuffs weren’t enough restraint, the guards chained us as soon as we walked out of the cell’s door and they held the other end of the chains, dragging us around like we’re their pets. For God’s sake, we’re still wearing the same uniform! If they treated us this harshly, I couldn’t imagine how awful they would treat the Outlanders here.Bookmark here

Walking down corridors after corridors, going down a few floors, we finally reached an open area. It was a huge field with some exercise equipment littered in the corners, guards standing around to keep watch. Some prisoners were seen running around, lifting weights, and doing other exercises. Some others were lazing around on the benches. But they were clearly divided into two groups, the Outlanders and the agents, refusing to mingle. I would stand out a lot if I tried to approach them. This didn't look good for me.Bookmark here

The guards took our chains off once we stepped inside the prison yard, which was also surrounded by tall silver bars. My eyes had a difficult time adjusting to the sudden brightness of the sun after staying in the dark cell for too long, so I kept squinting and shielding my eyes from the light. Not knowing what to do, I followed Agent Kirima’s lead and headed towards one of the benches.Bookmark here

The female agent occupying the bench stood up and gave Agent Kirima an excited pat on the shoulder like a mother did to her son. The lady looked the same age as Chief Hakurei—her appearance, not her age—which was probably in her late thirty or early forty. Her age made me wonder whether she’s also a chief like her. I had never seen her around before, so she probably wasn’t one.Bookmark here

"Good to see you again, Kirima," she said, genuinely glad.Bookmark here

“Me, too,” Agent Kirima replied, equally pleased. He proceeded to introduce us. “Ah, this is my new cellmate, Agent Okajima from Area 1. Okajima, this is Natsumi, my former cellmate, and also an analyst at the HQ.”Bookmark here

An analyst. That’s why I’d never met her before. I didn’t really know the people working behind desks, since I was on the field most of the time. Analysts sometimes popped into our Scan-Finder to share some insights on our missions. I probably had heard her voice before through the earpiece, but I couldn’t recognize it.Bookmark here

We shook hands and exchanged greetings before Agent Kirima decided to cut it short. "Agent Okajima here wants to find the cure. He thinks it would help stop the war from happening. We should help him.”Bookmark here

Analyst Natsumi widened her eyes and whipped her head towards me in surprise, then she playfully put me in a headlock, ruffling my hair. “I like you, kid! You’ve got guts! Of course, we’ll help! My current cellmate is a savage. She said she’s a werewolf from the Outland—I don’t know where the hell that is. I think I can make her talk. She’s been telling me a lot of things. She used to be an agent here a decade ago before she’s asked to spread the infection, which got her locked up.”Bookmark here

Uncomfortable and surprised at the sudden friendliness, I struggled to free myself from her strong grasp and tidy up my ruined hair. What’s wrong with this overly friendly woman? I barely knew her and she treated me as if I was her son. But since she mentioned that she could help, I couldn’t care less about her antics.Bookmark here

Sharing about the Outland was something huge. No humans were supposed to know about the other world. It was their secret. Her werewolf’s cellmate risked everything and leaked that information to her. She’s showing her intention to help. She might be willing to share the secret behind werewolf’s cure. It’s clearly a better way than trying to approach the Outlanders here in the open and attracting unwanted attention to myself.Bookmark here

“That’s great. I’m really thankful you guys decided to help me. A war will only take lives. I don’t see anything good out of it. If possible, I want to stop it,” I said and cringed at myself. I sounded like I was some hero or something when I was nothing near that. Well, as long as I got the point across, I couldn’t care less.Bookmark here

Analyst Natsumi gave me a thumbs-up. “Sure, kiddo. I understand and I feel the same. I’ll extort as much information as possible from my cellmate. Don’t worry. I’ll return with answers tomorrow.”Bookmark here

“Yard guards, please escort Inmate 2703 to the private office immediately.”Bookmark here

The announcement was heard through the public address system and a few guards quickly approached me. I realized belatedly that I was the Inmate 2703 from the announcement. Nodding at Agent Kirima and Analyst Natsumi, I excused myself and went with the guards. I asked them and they said I probably had a visitor. I wondered who would want to see me at this time of the day. I supposed it’s someone with connections to SCD since it’s not visiting hours yet. Was it Chief Hakurei?Bookmark here

They chained me again and escorted me towards an empty office room, asking me to enter alone. I assumed my visitor was inside. Sitting on the couch inside the room was the Minister of Defense, Zabatsu, himself. Although I never met him, I recognized him at once since he was everywhere on the news. To say I was surprised was an understatement. Why did a great man like him go out of his way to meet me here?Bookmark here

“Teruya, right?” Minister Zabatsu greeted me. “Please take a seat.”Bookmark here

“Yes, sir,” I answered politely and took a seat in front of him, the chains dangling behind me as I moved around. “Is there something you need from me, sir?”Bookmark here

“Ah, your squad chief, Hakurei, has filled me in about your difficult situation. She has contacted me to help you,” Minister Zabatsu explained.Bookmark here

I bowed gratefully. “Thank you so much for considering to help me, Minister Zabatsu.” When I had asked Chief Hakurei to get me out. I hadn’t expected her to ask the minister himself to help me. This was an extreme move. I had no idea she knew the minister. Her connection was apparently much more powerful than I'd imagined. That’s why she’s confident that she could get me out.Bookmark here

“No, no. I was a friend of your parents when they’re still alive. It’s only normal that I help their son.”Bookmark here

“You know them?”Bookmark here

Minister Zabatsu nodded sadly. “Probably, more than how much you know them.”Bookmark here

This was news to me. Just how amazing my parents had been to personally know the minister? My mom never talked about him when she’s still alive. And did he know that my father was a fairy king?Bookmark here

My confused face must have been obvious since he proceeded to elaborate, explaining, “Yes, Teruya. I know what your father was. And I know what you are.”Bookmark here

His explanation unfortunately only confused me further. “And you’re still helping me?”Bookmark here

“I’m not as narrow-minded as you think I am. SCD was created by a former minister. I don’t completely agree with how it works, but I think it’s necessary to keep things under control. Your parents were the ones who opened my eyes. It’s sad that they’re gone, but an accident is an accident. I hope you don’t blame yourself over their deaths.”Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

"You don't remember, do you?"Bookmark here

I shook my head, perplexed. I had no idea what he’s talking about.Bookmark here

Minister Zabatsu gave me a sad smile. "Granted, you've only been a child back then. The incident must have traumatized you so much that you unconsciously chose to forget it."Bookmark here

"What do you mean? My mom was killed by a savage. My father wasn’t even there." That’s not possible. I didn’t remember seeing my father at all. Bookmark here

Is he telling me that my memory failed me? Is he saying my father was in that fire, too? Is that how he died?Bookmark here

My head hurt a lot as I forced myself to remember the incident. It’d been ten years ago and I was only eight when it happened.Bookmark here

"Why do you think so? Which kind of savage?" Minister Zabatsu asked as if he’s testing my memory.Bookmark here

I tried to recall the incident, but everything was nothing more than a blur. All I remembered was the fire. "Well, I don't know. It's a long time ago. I only remember that a savage burnt my mom alive after she took them in under her roof to hide them from the agents. I saw her turn into ashes in front of me. And someone dragged me out of the house as the building burnt, too."Bookmark here

"That's where you remember it wrong. I understand that a child's mind might distort the truth as it is too painful to take."Bookmark here

"I'm not a child now. Just tell me. I can take it." I doubted anything would surprise me any longer after all the shocking revelations lately.Bookmark here

"You were only a child and you had no control over yourself. You didn't even know what you were. So you shouldn't—"Bookmark here

"Please get to the point."Bookmark here

"There's no savage, Teruya. The one who caused the fire is you."Bookmark here

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