Chapter 1:

Project: Awaken

Project: Overthrow

Surfacing from an endless abyss with a mild, faint ray of light as the sole guide was all Daiki saw. Even the lone, solitary light seemed as if he was viewing it through closed eyes. None of his five senses gave him any hint of sensation, as if his soul had no body.

Time seemed to pass infinitely in his current unknown state. Even though he couldn’t feel any of his limbs, his consciousness seemed to zoom into that light over and over.

He didn’t know why he fixated on it. He had no emotions or motivations, yet something about the light drew him in, which seemed to get brighter as he floated closer to it.

After what seemed like an eternity, the light had grown to be as bright and big as the sun.

Then, as he collided with it, the light covered everything. Voices called out from all directions, something he had almost forgotten existed.

The voices awakened something, though he knew not what, and for a moment the light swelled before becoming pitch black.

A splitting headache struck him as he gained a wisp of consciousness.

“What..? Aghh..!”

An avalanche of sensations flooded his mind, as though all of his nerves turned back on, so sensitive that even making contact with the air burned him.


The flood of sensations, however, left just as it came. As the pain lessened, he registered the condition of his body: weak; like he had starved for days.



“...Quickly! Give him water!”

As his mind adjusted, he opened his eyes, where three hazy silhouettes gradually came into focus.

Among them, a young woman took a bottle of water from a balding, short, middle-aged man and put it into Daiki's mouth.

As soon as the first drop of water touched his throat, he noticed how parched he was.

As he drank, the balding man spoke to the woman. “Tsk! He looks to be in even worse shape than those god-forsaken cannibals. He’s almost nothing but skin and bones.”

Daiki couldn’t help but notice that he was indeed feeble. Even standing up by himself seemed difficult.

“What… happened to me?”

The woman and balding man’s accents were unfamiliar. He tipped his head, but couldn’t make out what they said. They both wore unique clothes with a considerable amount of dust as if they had ventured through a desert.

Daiki tried to recall anything from his memory, but his brain ached, causing him to almost choke. Fortunately, the headache was neither as painful nor as long-lasting as what he’d experienced a few moments ago. Although he was quick to recover, memories surfaced.

Scenes from a battlefield flashed one at a time: someone attacking him, people around him killed or apprehended, his best friend dragging him away, escaping through a secret route. On top of it came flashbacks of incurring an irrecoverable brain injury and being pushed into the capsule without warning.

“That bastard! Where is he now?! Could there have been any more survivors?”

As he gathered his wits, the woman said, “Hey! Be careful! Are you all right?”

“Yes... Thank you..very much for your help. May I ask…who you are?”

The woman glanced at the other two men before responding, “Well, I guess it’s about time I did some introducing. I’m Aiza and baldy here is Gavner. And the silent-looking but not-so-silent guy over there is Jan. I guess you could call us explorers, but our squad goes by Thrashers. Remember the name! More importantly, could you tell us about yourself and this place?”

Daiki thought about how much he should tell them. He didn’t know anything about these people or their intentions toward him. “My name is Daiki Inoue, but that is all that I remember. I’ve been having headaches since I woke up, so I’m just as puzzled as you are.”

It wasn’t entirely a lie. He didn’t know where he was or what happened after someone pushed him into the capsule. He recognized the cryo freeze capsule he came out of, but the state of the capsule was anything but pristine.

Dust covered every inch, and most of the paint had come off, minus a few spots. He seemed to be in some kind of lab, but all the equipment screamed old and faulty. Large, uneven debris littered the ceiling, scattered to the top of smashed equipment.

He noticed that the water supply and the fluid machine of the capsule were also damaged.

“Looks like something happened here recently. Had these people not come in time, I would have died from dehydration or starvation.” he thought to himself, glancing at his arms and fingers.

He must have been in the capsule for a considerable amount of time seeing as all the muscles in his body had atrophied, sustained only by the biofluid in the capsule. He didn’t know what the state of his brain injury was, but he suspected that the horrifying headache might be correlated.

With thoughts surfacing from the past, he grew anxious, fiddling with a piece of fabric that had flaked off his person. He was so close to his goal. Success was just at his fingertips. She was going to be free. Tightening his fists, he attempted to suppress his emotions. It wasn’t the time for him to bemoan his fate. He needed to recover as soon as possible, mentally and physically.

“So, I guess that you have amnesia. You won't be able to survive on your own in your current state so your only choice is to come with us.” Aiza said, to which Daiki jumped, whipping his head up and over to her.

He noticed Jan, who hadn’t spoken yet, eyeing the woman and giving her disapproving glances.

The woman ignored them. “Well, what's your answer? We don't have all day.”

“Thank you. That would mean a lot to me right now.” Daiki said after a brief moment of silence.

“My pleasure.” She rubbed his shoulder for added reassurance.

“I understand that you’re trying to be kind,” Jan spat, “but there’s still too much we don’t know about them. You shouldn’t let your guard down until we learn more about him.”

Aiza reluctantly stood up, exchanging a smile before obeying the leader of her squad.

“Gotta agree with the boss. We’ll hold him captive and shower him with twenty questions when we reach the hideout,” Gavner added.

Daiki stood up, though with his head tilted down to express his submission toward them.

His first course of action was to gather information. The skin sucking against his bones told him how malnourished he was. That, and having no decent clothing, let alone good equipment, proved to be problematic.

Although Aiza and her crew didn’t seem to hold any malicious intentions, he briefly noticed through the gap of their cloaks that they carried various weaponry on their belts. Most of them strapped different types of blades along with pistol-like guns he could not recognize. They could have easily overpowered Daiki if they wanted to, and still could if he chose to disobey them.

“Here, have some of this. You might pass out otherwise.”

“T-Thank you…”

Even though Aiza handed him a bland piece of baked potato, Daiki ravenously gulped it down.

In the corner furthest from him, Jan and the others were having a discussion. Jan kept throwing wary glances of caution at him, but Daiki wasn’t sure why.

After the huddling finished, he followed the three of them out of the room, realizing that he was underground. There was no sunlight. None of the lights in the corridor were working, nor were the doors functioning properly.

“If it’s possible, could you tell me what led you guys here into this place?”

The balding man, Gavner, answered, “It was a bit of a coincidence. Above this place are the ruins of an abandoned town. We set up a temporary camp nearby to scavenge for supplies, but an earthquake changed our plans. A day later, a squad member that you haven’t met yet, Marko, discovered that a section of an alleyway had collapsed. Now we’re here.”

Aiza then elaborated further. “We looked throughout the entire proximity and all the other exits seemed to have been shut off. If the earthquake didn’t collapse that section, who knows how long you would've been there…”

“That bastard! If he was gonna put me into cryosleep, couldn't he at least do it properly?!”

Daiki had no idea how much time had elapsed since he got into cryofreeze, but he estimated it was at least several months or even a few years due to all the dust that accumulated and the state of disrepair.

“Seeing as I was here for who knows how long, do you mind telling me the current day and year?”

“Hmm… hey Jan, can you answer that?” Gavner mumbled, scratching his head, his ears burning a bright red.

“21st of June, the year of 2088.”

“WHAT?! Hold on… Can you tell me the year again? I’m not sure I heard you correctly…”

“2088. Why? Were you locked since last year? I wouldn’t be that surprised seeing how your body is at the moment.”


2053 was the year his comrades failed their raid. Not so long after, they had sealed him away from the world. If it truly was 2088, it would have been 35 years.


He did not recall surfacing from the cryo sleep. In regular circumstances, the human body was physically incapable of sustaining itself for so long, even under the conditions of cryo freeze. There have been instances of people waking up from decades-long comas and returning to perfect health, but that would require continuous life support, from proper nutrition to external factors, such as stretching limbs.

In cryo freeze, however, the body is essentially in a dormant hibernating state with a low metabolic rate that puts various vital processes on hold. Before he went into the capsule, the record for the longest period spent under cryo freeze and waking up was only three years. Furthermore, that person also suffered extensive brain damage and vital organ failure. He never recovered properly.

Aside from the severe malnutrition and muscle atrophy, he detected no other complications. Most importantly, he couldn’t detect any damage to his brain. There seemed to have been no decline in his cognition in contrast to what was normally the case. In fact, his mind and senses had never felt so clear.

“The headache I had right after waking up is mild in comparison to what I should have felt. No, I shouldn’t have felt anything at all. I should have suffered brain death within the first few years. Could they be mistaken about the date? No, I’d simply be in denial, especially since no one corrected Jan. What happened to everyone after that fateful battle? Is she even alive after this long? Was.. everything I did all in vain?!’


“Huh? Are you all right?” Aiza asked as everyone turned to look at him with concern.

“Oh, uhm… I’m alright. I’m still a bit groggy, though.”

To his surprise, the squad said nothing and continued to move along.

“I need to calm down. There’s no use worrying about it now. If it’s really true, I need to gather information about what happened to everyone throughout all these years...Especially with you, Nera…”

As Daiki recollected his thoughts, the group of four reached the part of the hallway where the ceiling had collapsed. The pile of rubble conveniently acted as a ramp to climb to the surface.

Another similarly cloaked figure was atop the ramp. He had spiky, black hair, his lithe body and stature hinting at his young age. There was a collection of things piled up beside him—seemingly equipment and supplies they salvaged from the lab where they were in.

“Yo, you guys done down th-? Wait, hold it right there! Who’s that? Was there another opening that we missed?”

Aiza stretched her arms and ruffled her red hair. “No, Marko. We found him inside that last room with the thick metal door. He was in cryo freeze for at least a year. His name is Daiki Inoue and he’ll be coming with us to the base.”

“Wow, that’s like… super believable! Especially in a town where there’s hardly anything left except dancing cockroaches. Tell me another joke.”

“If you know anything about me, then I have a time and place for these ‘jokes’ you speak of…” Aiza retorted, beaming a glare as she inched her head closer to his.

He no longer had anything to say to her.


As Daiki went up the ramp and made it out of the collapsed road, remnants of a large abandoned town stole his attention, alongside the vast swathes of wasteland.

Years of drought and dust have cracked the ground, nature’s ashes are abundant in the air. There was hardly any vegetation, everything on the verge of death.

Sweat beaded down his temples, and he paused to swipe it away.

“Huh? Is this actually Japan? These people are definitely speaking Japanese, though it doesn’t sound the same since I was put to sleep. There shouldn’t be a place like this in Japan!”

“Hey, Aiza. Could you tell me where we are right now?”

“We’re at the outer layer of the wastelands. This town used to be called Asakawa in the Fukushima prefecture. Our base is in Ibaraki next to Tokyo and it’s quite far from here.”

Marko chimed in before Daiki could respond. “It’s not a problem at all. We have a sick off-road vehicle that Jan salvaged and put together. And, of course, with my driving skills, you have no reason to fear!”

“Asakawa? Weren’t there supposed to be lush forests around this area? There’s no way a desert like this could be in Fukushima!”


“Did something happen here that caused the environment to change like this?”

Gavner replied, “Which place isn’t like this? The only place with decent greenery is those compounds created for the corporate slave drivers. Must be nice being able to stay in your own walled garden!”

‘“This makes no sense. Something horrible must have happened.”

“Wait. Don’t tell me you even forgot about that. Your amnesia must be pretty severe, huh.”

“Right, I honestly have no idea right now. Could you give me a brief rundown of notable events that happened in the past forty years?”

Jan spoke up. “I’m not giving you a history lesson, but to put it simply, a full-blown nuclear war occurred in the year 2057.”


Daiki’s eyes went wide as his jaw lowered.

“No one recalls who ignited everything, but in the end, billions lost their lives. The law and order that once protected human rights devolved into anarchy—the aftermath being this lawless abysmal wasteland.”

When Jan finished, he turned and boldly gazed into Daiki’s eyes. “These wastelands should be the least of your concerns.”


Daiki faltered. The world he had known before no longer existed. In its place, an inhospitable land of death emerged. But that wasn’t the only thing that surprised him. Not only were corporations still intact, but now they became the highest level in power. And that brewed a plethora of emotions.

“I can’t be surprised if those bastards survived. After that battle, there was practically no one left to-”

His thoughts fell short as a CLANG tore through his ears.

An abrupt, loud ring of metal thundered, a concerning amount of steam radiating from Jan’s back.

Jan stumbled, fell over and shouted to the top of his lungs, “GET DOWN!”

A heavy shove met Daiki’s shoulder, causing him to fall over. Though, he quickly knew why after a whistle came from a few feet above.

Airborne projectiles.

Undoubtedly, they were under attack. Those that hadn’t taken cover dove behind a short, withering wall of concrete.

Without delay, everyone loaded their rifles and pistols.

Both Aiza and Jan shot to their feet, Aiza, palpating his back with her palm.

“Thank God you wore your plate armor today,” she said.

“Better to be safe than curse the road,” he replied with a grin.

Marco grabbed Daiki by both of his shoulders, planting him against the wall from his back before commanding, “Listen up, kid, don’t move and your ass will be fine. Got that?!” He pointed to his weapon.

Daiki was trembling, sweating; his throat was drying up to where he could barely croak out a reply. “Y-Yea. Sure…”

Marco then stood and peered above the concrete before abruptly ducking, dodging another projectile. The projectiles before them were long, not the bullet they’d expected.

“Arrows. It’s those cannibals again!” he shouted.

“Huh? Those shitters? Give me a break,” Jan said with a sigh as he flashed his cloak. After clearing his throat, he continued. “From what I saw, there’s about eight of 'em. Spread out and find an obstacle to hide behind. When there’s an opening, fuck it up. Let’s go!”

Everyone nodded before setting off in different directions.

Hardly able to catch his breath, Daiki attempted to calm down but wasn’t able to make much progress. After all, there was simply too much going on amid this sudden attack. Peeking above the concrete, he confronted the unsettling truth of the enemies he faced.

His heart sank in his chest, tightening his breath like a door shutting over his fingers. From neck to toe dark green, spiky clothing covered them, faces obscured with masks.

To say the least, they looked to be a frontal cut of human skulls.

“Shit! Shit! Shit! What am I supposed to do dammit!” Panic settling in more by the second. Gazing at his trembling hand, he held onto his wrist. But the shaking wouldn’t stop, even when frustration surfaced. He swallowed to prevent his throat from drying up before taking another look past the concrete.

Boom! Clang!

Jan wrestled with one of the cannibals before elbowing his face in a clinch, finishing them off with a fatal gash to the neck. Blood puddled under him as it flowered out of the person’s throat.

To Daiki’s slight left was Marco, who was on his back on the ground, a cannibal attempting to stab his face with a dagger.

“Oh my god! M-” He ducked down, barely dodging an arrow that snuck up on him.

Thud Thud Thud…

His heart rate doubled.

“That definitely gave away my position. Not good.” He palmed his mouth with both hands as his eyes went wide. “Am I going to be a target now?”

Although peering from above was no longer an option, Daiki couldn’t bear to not check and ensure that Marco was okay. Even if they were hostile to an extent, they were still keeping him safe. He couldn’t convince himself to settle and wait things out.

The combined screams, shouting, gunshots, and clash of blades had made it difficult to understand what was going on. Proning down with his chest against the grainy floor, he mobilized to the side of the wall.

What lay before him ignited a sharp revival of horror too, somehow, immediate relief. One of the men with masks slashed at Marco, who lay on the ground until Aiza came from behind, knocking over the enemy with a metal pole. When she’s done so, she splattered their face against the ground.

“Their teamwork shows that they’re pretty prepared for these-”

A particular plop, plop, plop intruded his train of thought—not that it was strange, per se, but it definitely wasn’t present until then. No matter where he looked, however, he concluded that it originated behind him.

Slowly turning his head, his chest tightened.

A cannibal somehow snuck around the proximity of the rubble and was now standing several meters away, its saliva dripping to the floor as its gunky mouth hung open in excitement. “Heeeerrrghhhehehe…”

Daiki’s mouth was so dry that he couldn’t swallow, let alone cry out for help. All he could do was plant his back against the wall.

“Dammit! I just got a second chance. I can't let it end like this.”

The cannibal reached for a dagger, inching its way closer. With each step, their putrid odor grew stronger.

“It’s no use. My legs have no strength. My voice won’t surface. And judging by the noises across this wall, everyone’s still stuck in a clash.”

The enemy grew closer, snickering.

“Curses. It’s really going to end here.”

Telling himself such words would be the final thing he’d consciously do. A brief, flickering image of a young girl rose to his thoughts, tearing through every other thought that weighed over him. But as he felt his imminent death approaching, all of his thoughts started to vanish. Even the image of her started to melt until there was nothing but a void in his mind.

The cannibal raised his dagger and swung it down into Daiki’s face. Just as the dagger was about to impale his eyes, an abrupt wave of pain surged through his head for a brief moment and suddenly, everything stopped. Rather than stopping, time seemed to pass at a snail’s pace. Daiki could see the dagger barely moving towards him at a speed that would take it a whole day to arrive.

A faint blue glow started to emanate from Daiki’s eyes.

[Threat detected. Analyzing countermeasures.]

[Currently in a weakened state. Probability of success below 5% without lifting restrictions.]

[Proceeding to shut down limiters. Analyzing weak points for neutralizing threats.]

The cannibal started to grin as the blade was inches from stabbing into Daiki’s pupils. Just imagining the carnage about to occur made him euphoric.

But what happened afterward was not something he anticipated.


Daiki stepped to the side, enough to dodge the attack. Without wasting a second, he grabbed onto the forearm with both hands, squeezing it before rotating his hips and throwing a kick to the target’s inner thigh. There was so much force that a crackling gritted their ears.

The severity of the pain caused the cannibal to step backward and drop the dagger as their balance wobbled. Daiki, who may as well have teleported before the cannibal, grabbed onto the enemy’s collar bone, tightly digging his nails into their pressure point before slashing the temple of their neck on the opposite side.

Groans of pain became hysterical screams. Blood sprayed out of the wound like a fountain, even after attempting to cover the deepened cut. The liquids painted the floor in irregular splutters of red.

Falling to the floor helplessly, the two of them made eye contact once more, and the odds entirely flipped. The cannibal saw a face void of any emotion on Daiki as he walked forward, spinning the dagger in his hand.

[Incurred extensive damage to muscles and ligaments. Combat state sustainable for t-minus 54 seconds.]

[Shutting down to recovery mode is unavoidable for mending the damage. Countermeasures against threats are impossible in recovery mode.]

[Commencing elimination of all threats to the body within the remaining combat state.]


Now standing before the crying cannibal, he swiftly raised the dagger and brought it down without hesitation at the cannibal's esophagus. Blood splashed onto a nearby plant—the cries of horror abruptly vanishing in an instant.

- -

Cling! Clang! Boom!

The onslaught continued. Casualties on the enemy were few in number, only six left for them to neutralize.

Aiza reloaded her rifle behind a pile of rubble, keeping her ears alert in case someone attempted to ambush her. Despite how many times she had lived through similar situations, she never grew resistant to it. Her heart was throbbing, enough to make controlling her breathing a chore. “This son of a bitch!”

She turned her head, pointing the rifle to her left before realizing she had no option but to hold her fire.

Stuck in a clinch with one of the cannibals, Jan struggled to maintain control. One of his hands held his lengthy blade, which the enemy had pinned down.

“Aiza… Sh-Shoot em,” Jan cried out.

Her gun shook as she aimed toward them. “I- I can’t. You’re moving too much!”

Jan let out a ferocious growl. “Oh for hell’s sake!” He stuck out a foot, sweeping below to knock the cannibal off balance.

“Please tell me I no longer have to shoot…” Aiza said, voice uneven.

Jan rotated his blade horizontally, but he failed to slash the enemy, both of them grabbing onto the shaft of the weapon.

“Calm your tits. I… urgh… I got this thing where I want em’..!”

Despite the cuts on the cannibal’s hand, they refused to let go. Blood dripped down as Jan’s pressure grew greater. The grip rattled until Jan roared, putting his entire strength into his weapon.


The grip broke away, the blade sinking downward, chopping through just about everything below it. The cannibal was as good as decapitated.

Sweat poured down their faces. Their adrenaline was still surging as a loud cry turned their attention past the pile of rubble.


Both looked at each other one more time before springing up and dashing to the corner of the pile.

“Gavner? What is he-?'' Jan got his answer before he could say anything else.

A few meters before them sat the short, bald comrade, holding onto his wounded arm. He resided next to a corpse of a cannibal he had killed moments earlier.

“MARKO!” Aiza screamed.

The remaining enemies had spread apart in front of them, each using an obstacle to hide as they dished away arrows and gunshots. Marko, however, was far away, revealing himself from behind an abandoned building as he dashed to strike one of the enemies.

“Every one of you sick fucks are gonna pay!” he mumbled under his breath.

The enemy did not notice him in time and was stabbed in the back of the head. They crumpled to the floor, lifeless.

The other enemies nearby drew closer among the shadows. One of them lurked behind a metal dustbin. With their crossbow already aimed at Marko, they fired away. But to everyone’s surprise, he rolled to the side and dodged the projectile.


As he tried to lunge toward the female cannibal, he realized that the arrow was pinning down his cloak to the ground. After struggling to tear away, he slipped off his cloak and rushed at her before she reloaded her quiver.

A loud shriek followed by a popping snap echoed through the atmosphere as he jerked her head to the side, snapping her neck.

A bullet ran through Daiki’s shoulder, the pain bringing him to his knees. Groaning, he took another bullet to his hip before finding just enough protection behind the metal can.

“Listen up! We need to act fast, or that idiot is gonna be their next barbeque session!” Jan shouted.

“But how will we make it without getting shot ourselves?!” Gaver cried. As much as Aiza and Jan wanted to disagree, he had a point. Marko had gone too far away, and the enemies had just enough opportunity to keep them busy while the rest went to kill their comrade.

Gritting his hands and teeth, Jan glared across the wasteland, body quaking. “God dammit. Not you, too, Marko…” He closed his eyes to focus, but as soon as a gunshot rang through the air they snapped back open.

The cries of anguish were not Marko's, though, for he was still attempting to stop his wounds from bleeding.

Even the two cannibals who were closing in on him had frozen.

One of the enemies, the largest among them, fell, blood gushing out of his skull.

Who stood in the middle was none other than Daiki—wielding a pistol in one hand and a rifle in the other. To make matters more bizarre, he stood in the middle of the enemy zone, an open target to the other four.

“W-What the hell?!” Jan and Gavner spoke together.

Aiza held her mouth with both hands, unsure of what to make out of what she has just seen.

Two of the four cannibals revealed themselves, firing.



Though, halfway through standing, both of their heads met a fatal bullet.

Daiki’s glowing eyes avoided them both. He simply had raised both rifles in opposite directions and fired at them in the quickest, most accurate fashion, taking what remained of their life. Daiki then turned to a thin piece of wall, firing at the upper left corner. Shards of concrete flew in multiple directions, penetrating the enemy hiding behind the rubble.

Within a second, several bullets had made their way into the cannibal’s body, killing them.

Logic screamed at Daiki’s allies, begging them to advance, but frozen in place, their mouths agape, they couldn’t find the strength to move.

The final enemy was only a few meters behind Daiki—their blade already extended. To his dismay, there was simply no way for them to shoot.



A reverse spinning elbow met the cannibal’s face, sending them crashing to the ground. The force kicked their weapon out of reach.

Daiki then pounded the chest of the enemy with his foot, forcing their mouth open as they croaked in pain. The initial blow had cracked most of their mask, revealing their horrifying form.


As the word left his lips, the cannibal attempted to talk their way out, only for a bullet to pummel into their throat. They were now gurgling in their own blood before another few rounds of bullets let loose.

Despite the victory, the Thrashers were speechless.

“What did he just…?” Jan asked in a trembling voice.

The rest remained silent.


Before they could command themselves to move, the glow in Daiki’s eyes faded. Once the last speck vanished, he collapsed, unconscious before his body met the ground.