Chapter 1: Farewell, The World!

"Eight years… how time passed in this wonderful world." Penny Polendina says with nostalgia as she gazes upon an altar where there was once a statue of where Aura stood.

She was inside the Hulle Granz Cathedral. The very place where it all started for the young gynoid and her first (second) best friend upon her arrival in The World.

Penny's attire had changed entirely over those past years. When she first arrived in The World, she wore her old attire before her death in Remnant. During her time in The World, initially The World R:1, she underwent a new change of clothing thanks to a particular hacker and the reluctant approval of a system administrator, which, ironically, Penny's change of appearance would lead to the development idea of Job Extend for The World R:2.

In R:1, her new appearance would later be called the 2nd Form in R:2. Penny's R:1 attire was dark green shorts, a white undershirt, and a dark green bolero jacket with grey stripes from the shoulder to the end of sleeves. Two grey straps are holding the jacket together in x-shape on her chest with her power button symbol shown on the middle of the cross and a whore pair of long dark thigh-high leg pieces attached to her black shoes with double green stripes up to the sides. Her hairstyle remained the same, along with wearing her pink bow, and she still had her silver backpack that contained her Floating Array.

But now she is wearing her current attire in R:2. Her Xth Form. In this form, she is wearing a sleeveless pinafore with a turtleneck, the front side being white with green stripes shown on her waistline, the back side showing black all other and her personal Emblem proudly being shown and black opera-length fingerless gloves with white and green strips lengthwise from shoulder to her hands. She wears the same long, dark thigh-high leg pieces attached to her black shoes, but each side has green and white stripes, and the bottom of the soles are green. Interestingly, her hair is cut much shorter up to where her ears are but still has its curliness and her pink bow is replaced with pink hairclip-shaped bows on both sides of her head. She no longer had her backpack due to the R:2's features of summoning weapons; however, her weapon evolved to not only floating blades but built-in guns that can each shoot twice before automatically reloading after ten seconds, which she dubbed Floating Array R:2 thanks to her current form.

Eight long years, Penny Polendina was sent to The World—a popularly massive multi-player RPG in the world known as Earth.

There, the gynoid with a soul spent all that time experiencing new things, fighting recent battles and what it means to be human.

At the start of her journey, she meets her first friend, Kite, and his best friend, Orca. She soon realises she is in a very realistic video game, thanks to the conversation between her newfound friends. At first, she found it very difficult to believe, but then, from her point of view, she suddenly saw glitches in her vision that quickly subsided, and then she saw messages and what seemed to be a game menu in front of her. This surprised her, but she kept it to herself as she did not want to worry about her new friends and the fact that she was not human. But this gave Penny more questions than ever. The biggest one, how she was in a game world?!

While learning more from Orca, which Penny admits was fun and was amused seeing their faces when they saw her unleashed Floating Array and in action when they fought against monsters.

But as they journey deeper into the dungeon, they explore. That's when she first saw Aura, whom Penny quickly recognised as the figure before her arrival, but was stunned when she saw some humanoid monster chasing her.

From there, it was where it all started for her, as memories from R:1 flashed before her.

In the first encounter with Aura, facing an unkillable monster, Skeith, whom she would later learn its name and title, Orca becomes comatose; Kite and her barely survive Skeith and are unknowingly rescued by Helba, who was the first to discover Penny's secret, then her first meeting with her second friend in The World, BlackRose and later encountering Balmung, whom she mistook as a Faunus, entering Hulle Granz Cathedral for the first time and witnessing Kite's transformation and the use of Data Drain for the first time.

From there, so many things have happened from that very day.

Meeting so many new people, facing powerful monsters, having fun in The World, being accused as a hacked character and threat (primarily by Lios and Balmung), the secrets of The World, secrets and origin of Aura, Harol Hoerwick, Morganna Mode Gone, the Cursed Waves, the Twilight Bracelet, Cubia, Helba giving Penny her new form from the Net Slum and joining the .hackers.

There were good times and bad times back in those days. One is about Balmung claiming that she was a hacked character that was not meant to exist in The World and blames her and Kite for what has happened to Orca. It took time, but finally, he became good friends with her and Kite. Lios claims that she was never meant to exist in The World and threatens to delete her, but is saved by Helba, who finds Penny's situation extraordinary and does everything to protect her. Later, after proving herself to Lios, he decides not to delete her and place his trust in her like Kite and the rest.

After so many hardships and battles, the .hackers reached the final battle against Corbenik, after she, Kite and BlackRose faced Cubia one last time but at the cost of destroying the Twilight Bracelet. But before they did, it was there and then that Penny decided to tell her secret to her friends.

Granted, they were shocked and disbelieving of Penny's identity. Her being an AI was one thing, but having a bonafide soul, coming from a different world, and Penny believing that it was Aura who brought her to The World was basically out of a fantasy novel was difficult to swallow. However, Kite and BlackRose believed every word Penny said. Helba added her two cents that a similar character case (Tsukasa from .hack/SIGN) had happened before, albeit much different from Penny's case. Still, the three convinced everyone as they recalled one incident proving the gynoid's claims. Her Aura surprised them when they first saw it, and they thought it was a hack or glitch. She could bleed real blood when injured (much to Penny's shock and learning that in this world, she was not a robot), and she could feel real pain. Ultimately, they believed Penny and Kite, and the others promised they'd find a way to send her back to her world, which Penny was happy about and grateful for.

However, during the closing battle against Corbenik's final form, he used its ultimate Data Drain ability, Drain Heart, which had everyone except her and Kite defeated. With a final charge, the two charged against Corbenik, dodging Drain Heart. They were close, but one attack was about to hit Kite in his blind spot. It was back to hit him, but Penny pushed him away, causing her to take a Data Drain for the first time.

At that point, Penny was scared of what would happen to her, but that train of thought was immediately wiped when she saw Kite's look of horror. Knowing what needs to be done, she encourages him to save everyone, The World, and the real world. She is about to disappear but does not regret her choice. Seeing Kite's look of determination on his face was enough to make her smile and fade away into data.

At that moment, she thought she was dead.

Until she woke up again.

She was initially confused, but then she quickly discovered that she was in Hulle Granz Cathedral. The only difference was that there was no statue of Aura to be seen. So many questions got over her head. She knows that she is still in The World, but the real question is, what happened after the final battle against Corbenik? Did Kite and .hackers win? She was planning to contact them via a contact list, but the cathedral doors began to open. Startled, she quickly hid between the pew chairs.

She quickly peeks to see a character she has never seen before. It was a young-looking man with silver hair, red eyes, and red tattoos on his cheeks, but what was more was the intimidating, spiky-like black armour he wore and claw-like hands.

He didn't appear to notice her, and Penny decided to stay quite curious about what this player was doing there. As soon as he approached the altar where Aura once stood, she noticed a sad expression on his face.

Before she could show herself and ask what was wrong, a loud single tone rang throughout the cathedral, surprising them both.

Then suddenly, the glowing orb appeared before the boy, and what happened next wholly stunned Penny.

The orb turned into her best friend, Kite. However, this Kite looked more zombie-like, and his appearance looked as if it was stitched up like from a ragdoll. Its duel blade weapons were much different than the Kite she knew, and she even heard the boy calling him Tri-Edge.

Penny witnesses the one-sided fight between Tri-Edge and the silver-haired boy. She was surprised by the different weapons the silver-haired boy had used but was even more stunned at how the Kite look-alike wasn't even putting an effort while having such little movements.

But what ultimately shocked her was how the Kite look alike used Data Drain to finish him off at the end of the battle. She was so stunned she didn't have time to help before it was too late. She watched in horror as the boy's data ultimately left him, but unlike the past Data Drains she had witnessed, she noticed that the armour on the boy was destroyed, leaving him with a different appearance. From her perspective, she would assume that it was nothing life-threatening.

Just before the Kite look-alike was about to leave, Penny showed herself and confronted him, making him stop. She questioned who he was, why he had that power, and why he looked like her best friend. But all she got was groaning, and he raised his weapons on her, forcing her to do the same, causing them to fight.

But in the end. Penny lost, was also Data Drained, and underwent the same process as the boy, losing the appearance that Helba gifted her and reverting to her old attire from Remnant.

She collapsed next to the boy, who didn't seem to notice her at all. Before she passed out, she could have sworn she saw another person by the entrance with a giant lock on his left arm.

There and then, her second journey or rather the first, in The World R:2 began.

She remembered the time she woke up near a Chaos Gate and was found by two players named Silabus and Gaspard, something Penny found nostalgic the first time she did in The World. First, she was glad that a Data Drain did not kill her. Second, Penny learned that all her experience was drained, and even all the contact lists had been deleted, giving her no chance to contact her friends from the .hackers. The only saving grace was that the Floating Array was still with her. She was also impressed by how she could summon her weapon, but her two new friends mistook her for a newbie. Third, she learns she was in The World R:2 and that Penny was gone more than seven years, much to her shock, a fully upgraded world from what Penny knows, meaning she would be coming in blind. So having Silabus and Gaspard was an excellent chance to relearn The World again, plus she gained two new friends!

While she was learning more about The World, by coincidence, the three encountered the same boy who fought against Tri-Edge. At first, she thought he was a poor victim. But that all changed when she learned his name was Haseo, but what really got her attention was his title.

The Terror of Death.

That moment she heard this, she almost had a heart attack. That title belonged to a Wave that she, Kite and BlackRose had defeated. But she quickly calmed herself, knowing that it could just be a coincidence, but unknown at the time, she had no idea how deep her and Haseo's destinies were intertwined.

So many things happened after their official meeting in this brand-new world.

She met so many new friends, so much adventure, new powers and combat mechanics, and so much drama. She learned about Haseo and his reason for power, meeting and becoming a member of G.U., the existence of AIDA, the Epithet Users, the Waves surviving and becoming Avatars, the Lost Ones, the .hackers achievements being added as a story in R:2, reuniting with old friends (Endrance and Yata), returning to the Net Slums: which is now called Net Slum Tartaga, Aura vanishing, the Azure Knights, Ovan being Tri-Edge and his reason, and the return of Cubia.

So much time had passed throughout R:2. Granted, she and Haseo had a rough start, but in time, the two developed a solid friendship to the point of being close as siblings, even for Penny to sometimes call Haseo her 'big brother', fighting tournaments together, assisting the investigation regarding AIDA with G.U., being a close friend with Atoli much to blonde's joy. And how the reunion with Yata, who was once Wiseman and Endrance, who was once Elk, was a huge shock for her to see how much they've changed, not by different player characters but more than by personality since she has no idea what their real-world bodies look like but in the end she is glad that she was not alone. The two told them what happened after the battle against the final Wave.

She discovered that Kite and the .hackers successfully defeated the final Cursed Wave, but at the cost of her life. However, none of them would accept that and tried to find a way to return her. Still, by miracle, Aura, before her rise to becoming the Ultimate AI, could save Penny's data and memory the moment she was Data Drained. Thanks to the fact she has a soul, it was a complex process. Still, thanks to her extended stay in The World, Aura knew precisely what to do to save Penny, but the problem was how much time it would take to revive her. Even Aura did not know when or where she would appear, but there was hope as long as The World remained. Something all the .hackers are relieved and glad to hear but sad that it would take years to see the gynoid again.

And how much the Cursed Waves have become more… human-like, thanks to their Epithet Users. She found it funny that her once enemies had now become their greatest allies and how much Skeith, the one she feared the most, became something she saw as her most excellent ally thanks to its endless evolution, which she found remarkable.

Her return to the Net Slum was a great relief to her. Not only was it a familiar place/home to her, but also the place where she obtained her Xth Form, courtesy of Zelkova, whom she would learn later was another AI, due to Ovan unleashing Corbenik's Rebirth, which not only reset The World but unintentionally resets her due to her unique circumstances. It saved her life and gave her new powers and skills equal to Haseo's, aside from being an Epitaph User.

When she revealed her secret to them, she received the same reactions from the .hackers. Still, Haseo and Atoli believed her, and the support from Yata and Endrance made everyone accept and believe Penny's claim of being an outworlder. And to add more proof of her claim, AIDA once infected her, and the results were… much different than the others, but thanks to Haseo, she was saved.

But the most unforgettable moment was in the final battle against Cubia. All the available players fought against its spawns, the Gomora, throughout The World. Despite the endless spawns appearing, the players did not give up, but what she didn't see coming was an old friend who would change the tides.

Kite and the .hackers appeared in The World R:2.

Penny was stunned and overjoyed by their sudden arrival and asked how they were in R:2. Kite explained it was thanks to Yata and Endrance contacting about the gynoid's return and the return of Cubia and thanks to Elba's hacking abilities and due to the crisis with the temporary approval by Yata and CC Corps they were able to bring back the legendary .hackers.

Deciding to stay and fight along with the .hackers and intrust Haseo and the other Epitaph Users for the final confrontation against Cubia, courtesy of Haseo's insistence for her to remain behind and catch up with her

old friends.

After the final battle, time moved on, and thanks to Yata, Zelkova and Helba's hacking skills, they established secret communications for Penny to contact the .hackers and set a meeting spot in the Net Slum for them to meet.

Penny never felt so happy before. Not only had they saved The World twice but also the real world, and she finally reunited with the .hackers and boy, did she miss out a lot during her seven-year absence.

In time, she became known as the Cyber Angel due to her fighting style, showing her Flouting Array R:2 around her back, making it look like she has wings granting her that title, which she wore proudly.

But all that happiness had to come to an end soon.

The World R:2 was being permanently shut down due to unsolvable system errors.

Granted, it greatly disheartened the gynoid to learn that her home was being shut down, and she was afraid of what would happen to her. However, she was relieved that the Net Slum would still be there and Zelkova would also be a resident of that area. She strongly bonded with him when she learned he was an AI.

As all the memories passed, Penny looked at the altar where Aura stood once more.

"Thank you, Aura. For taking me to this wonderful world!" Penny says with a loving smile. "I'll never forget all the things I have done and all the wonderful friends I've gained her."

The girl looked down with her smile turning sad. "I'm gonna miss The World, my home that will soon gone." Then, her small tears began to fall from her eyes. "Home… I miss my original home… I miss my father… Ruby… I wonder what they're all doing back in Remnant? I hope… they're all doing fine."

Just as the gynoid reminisced about her time back in her original world, the sound of the cathedral doors opening made Penny turn around before wiping away her tears and smiling as she recognised the person entering.

"I figured I'd find you here." The person who entered was no one else but Haseo with his ultimate form, the 5th Form. Thanks to Zelkova, Haseo has unlocked a new power to find and save Ovan and face a new threat together with him.

Penny offered to help him with his search but politely declined, saying he must do this by himself, which the gynoid understood and respected. It took time, but it was all worth it. Penny was among her friends and Ovan's younger sister, Aina, as they welcomed Haseo with Ovan as they exited the cathedral together. It was a truly happy reunion between the two siblings.

Time passed as Penny and her friends spent their final moments in The World R:2, and now, in a couple of hours, The World will be officially shut down.

"Haseo!" Penny happily greeted as the User of Skeith approached and touched his hip.

"I take it you're saying your farewells?" Haseo asked as Penny nodded.

"Yup!" Penny turned back to look at the alter again. "After all, it was here that my journey in R:1 and R:2 was where it all started for me."

"Yeah… I guess so." Haseo drifted off as well as he gazed towards the altar and remembered the journey that brought him to this day.

The Terror of Death shook off his trip from memory lane and recalled why she was looking for Penny. "C'mon. Everyone in the Net Slum is waiting."

"Oh! Right. It's almost time for the farewell party!" Penny gasped, nearly forgetting about that special occasion. She and everyone she knew from R:1 to R:2 are invited to celebrate the farewell party of the official shutdown of The World on Net Slum Tartaga.

"Let's go, Haseo!" The gynoid cheerfully says as she grabs Haseo's hand and runs to the exit, dragging the Terror of Death along.

"H-Hey! I can walk, you know." Haseo says, but not sounding annoyed at it all.

As the two reached for the door. Penny slowed down and slowly turned around, as she let go of Haseo's hand, to the cathedral to have one last look. "Thank you for everything." She says with a heart-warming smile as she bows down.

Haseo smiled at his little sister. He doesn't know if she was thanking the cathedral, Aura, or maybe both. Nonetheless, it was a good run for both of them.

He gently placed his hand on her shoulder, making her look up at him, the two smiling before they walked out of the cathedral as the doors closed by themselves. They were leaving behind the place where it all began for three specific individuals who changed The World.

Before the Chaos Gate, two blue lights emerged from it and appeared where Penny and Haseo were.

"Hello, Net Slum Tartaga!" Penny cheerfully says while Haseo just shakes his head with a chuckle.

When Penny first entered the Net Slum, she couldn't help but feel a sense of familiarity and comparison with the city of Mantle and the lower levels of Mistral. The only difference was the residents. She was a bit alarmed at seeing the 'unique' appearances of the character designs and learning that it was a haven for hackers and bugs, but thankfully, not bad ones. But she admitted that the Net Slum had its own charm.

Haseo walked ahead before turning his head back to Penny. "C'mon. The party is about to start."

"Lead the way!" Penny cheerfully says as she follows Haseo, skipping behind him.

As the two walked towards the party location, the two were greeted by many of the Net Slum's residents. Haseo simply waves or nods as he walks, and Penny happily greets them with a wave and greets them in exchange.

As the two were close to their destination, Penny began to notice the party decorations around her, the wall being painted with pictures of past events from The World, party balloons, flyers saying 'Farewell, The World!', posters showing pictures of her friends from R:1 and R:2 of there achievements, shop stands that have figurines of the .hackers, G.U., friends and herself on display including monsters and enemies such as Cubia both old and new, the Cursed Waves including their Avatar forms, even music are being played to celebrate the accommodation (basically a list of Ost from the .hack series).

As they approached the party's centre, they were greeted with many familiar faces.

"Haseo! Penny!" A blond-haired girl waves as she rushes towards them.

"Atoli!" Penny happily hugs her friend, who embraces her in return.

Atoli reminded her a bit of Ruby at first in how open she was and how she wanted to help people. They went through a lot together, and like Haseo, Penny saw her like a sister.

"You both made it." Said a male voice.

"Was wondering you were gonna do an 'arriving fabulously late' or something." A female voice teased.

Penny soon lets go of Atoli and looks behind her, making her smile widen at recognising the two voices. "Kite! BlackRose!" The gynoid rushes to the two and hugs them both, to which the two return.

The two player characters remained the same in appearance, like from the previous game, but the only difference was the slight change in their voices and how mature they acted. Despite how young their player characters look, they are now grown adults in the real world. She even learned that the two are now a couple, much to her happiness.

"Sorry about that. Had to pick up Penny from the cathedral." Haseo explains, getting the Kite, BlackRose and Atoli's attention.

"The Hulle Granz Cathedral?" Atoli tilted her head as Kite and BlackRose let go of Penny.

"In Δ Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground?" BlackRose added her two cents.

"Yup! I was just saying my goodbyes to the cathedral." Penny explained, earning a nod of understanding from the three.

"I understand. That place did leave a lot of memories." Kite says as he recalls the day his journey started in R:1.

"Hey, everyone!" The group turns to see a young girl wearing blue and white walking up to them.

"Hello Mistral!" Penny happily says to her friend and mother figure, seeing she is one in real life and, thankfully, that it is night-time in the real world, so her child is currently fast asleep.

"C'mon! It's almost time." The member of the .hackers gestured for them to follow her.

Haseo nodded as he and the rest followed her. "Right. Let's not keep them waiting."

"Yeah!" Penny, Atoli and BlackRose cheered, while Kite just chuckled as they followed.

As they followed Mistral, Penny couldn't keep her excitement as she saw more familiar faces.

She saw many familiar faces from the .hackers and G.U. and even a few player friends from in and out of Guilds such as Canard, Moon Tree and even Kestral all came to the party. Granted, those who know the secret of the Net Slum and Penny's secret all chatted with each other, waiting for the celebration to start.

"It would seem everyone is here." A familiar deep voice said as the small group arrived among the crowd.

"Ovan." Penny greets the User of Corbenik, who is next with his younger sister Aina.

"You all made it." Aina smiled.

"With a farewell party happening and all that? Wouldn't miss it for the world." Haseo says as he crosses his arms.

"Do you mean our world? Or The World?" Atoli innocently asked as she tilted her head.

"You know what I mean, Atoli." Haseo deadpans, earning giggles and chuckles from everyone.

"Very good. It seems everyone is all here." Everyone stopped what they were doing and turned towards the source of the female voice.

Three orbs of light appeared in the party's centre, revealing Helba, Zelkova and, surprisingly, Lios. Penny can safely assume that they are the hosts for this special occasion.

"Glad that everyone who received the invitations managed to arrive." The leader of Moon Tree says he is happy that no one is absent.

"Lios? You're here too?" Kite says in surprise but not against it.

"Hmph! What? Just because I've retired doesn't mean I can't make one final memory for The World now, can I?" Lios says with amusement as he crosses his arms.

"Still the pighead even after all these years." Helba says with amusement.

"Can it, you hag." Lios counters, but nothing negative with it.

Penny can only giggle in amusement, glad that despite the years passed, the two have become friends in healthy work relationships.

"With that out way." Zelkova chuckles at the two bickering. He directed the attention of the crowd to him. "I like to remind everyone that The World will officially shut down in less than three hours."

This earned a few sad frowns at the reminder of that fact. Even Penny can't help but feel sadness that her in-game home will be gone for good. She turns to see her friends. Haseo, with a deep frown, most likely thinking of something. Atoli looked sad at the ground before looking at Penny, but to the gynoid's confusion, she quickly looked away. BlackRose looked sad and held Kite's hand, whispering something to her lover's ears that the gynoid couldn't hear. Then there was Kite, who seemed as sad as everyone else. He looks up at Penny, quickly looking away, then looking back to her with a sad smile as if he knows something.

Penny didn't know why, but with her time spent with her friends in The World and the people she faced, such as Sakaki's hidden dark intentions and Ovan's deceptions, she had developed an understanding of people's facial reactions and possible hidden intentions and that old saying, 'reading the room', and she can tell that her friends where sad of something else. She can only wonder what.

"However, we're not here to feel sad or heartbroken. We're here to celebrate and thank all the good times we had in The World." Zelkova added, earning smiles and nods from everyone. "And to say our farewells as well."

When he said that, Penny noticed that most players gave sad smiles and looks. Some were even about to cry and were comforted by saying something positive, or it was for the best. But most of that sadness was directed at the .hackers and G.U.

Penny could only assume it was because they had a deeper connection to The World.

A large clapping noise shook her and everyone's attention. "Alright, everyone. That's enough. As Zelkova said, this is something to be memorable about, not heartbreaking. We all knew this day would come eventually." Lios said, making Penny confused. Did Lios know that The World R:2 was being shut down somehow?

"Now then." Helba continued as she raised her staff. "Let's get this party started."

The moment she said that the lights surrounding that area began to light different colours, music began to play, and even the residents of the Net Slum began to dance. Making the sad reminder go away, and the players begin to start their fun.

"It's party time!" BlackRose cheerfully says. She then pulls Kite's arm and drags him towards the dancing residents. "C'mon, Kite, let's dance!"

"Okay, BlackRose, no need to pull." Kite chuckled as he allowed his lover to drag him to the dance floor.

"Oh, that looks like fun!" Atoli says as she hugs Haseo's left arm and pulls him in, following BlackRose's example. "C'mon, Haseo! Let's dance, too!"

"H-Hey! Atoli!" Haseo stuttered while the blonde pulled him away. If you look closely, you can see a slight hint of red on the Terror of Death's face.

Penny can only giggle at the cute scene. Watching Kite and BlackRose dancing together like in those old 90s movies, Atoli was having fun dancing while holding Haseo's hands while the latter was stuttering a bit, trying to keep up with his dance partner. Penny found it funny that the User of Skeith was so good at fighting but not dancing.

"They grow up so fast…" Mistral sighs with a motherly smile, making Penny giggle again.

"Aren't you going to join them, Penny?" The female yet boyish tone asked from behind the two.

Penny turns and sees two of her new friends she made from the past year. "Tsukasa! Subaru! You both made it."

Tsukasa and Subaru, old players from the earlier days of The World R:1 who had a close encounter with Skeith and Macha and Tsukasa, played a crucial role in awakening Aura as well as becoming friends with the .hackers after the battle with the Cursed Wave Corbenik and learned much about Penny feeling a connection between her and Tsukasa.

Back then, Tsukasa, a girl in real life who played a male character, and most of her friends retired from playing The World and focused on their daily lives. But when they received a message from Helba regarding the situation on R:2. She, along with Subaru, Mimiru, Bear, BT, Crim and Silver Knight, all came out from retirement to aid Penny and her friends. From there, the two became good friends along with the others.

"This world was how me and Tsukasa found each other after all." Subura says, smiling lovingly towards her lover, who Tsukasa smiles in return.

"Are the others here?" Mistral asked.

"They're around. Probably talking and having fun with the others." Tsukasa says, then she turns to see Haseo, who now is surrounded by not only Atoli but Shino, Alkaid, Sakubo (currently Saku), Tabby, and even Endrance, which the Terror of Death is getting overwhelmed, which leads her to chuckle at the scene. "Still can't believe he used to be Sora."

Penny recalled from what she learned from Helba that Haseo once played as a different character, Class, Twin Blade, under the name of Sora. She understood that back then, Haseo was another character like Sora with a distinct personality due to his twisted way of making friends in R:1 by threatening players to be his friends or he would PK them. Still, he lost his memories due to being PKed by the Cursed Wave Skeith, leading him to a coma. Which made Haseo she knew today.

"I think it's sweet. In a way, Sora's finally having the friends he's long sought for." Subaru says, making all the girls smile at how true that was.

"Welp! Now, don't you girls just stand around. C'mon now! Shoo, shoo! You should be having fun now." Mistral chirps as she gestures to the girls to celebrate with the others.

"Yes, ma'am!" Penny cheerfully salutes as she rushes towards Haseo and pulls him away from the growing crowd of girls (and one boy) who have romantic feelings for him, much to his relief and the crowd's displeasure and Penny's unawareness.

"Dance with me, Haseo!" Penny says she immediately lets go of him and starts dancing to the Robot, much to everyone's amusement, seeing they know about her secret.

"Penny I–, oh forget it…" Haseo stuttered, thinking he was free from the dancing, only to get his hopes dashed and give up and try dancing along with Penny. Even his admirers couldn't stay upset at the cute sight. Later, they all joined in the dancing.

These next hours were a genuine blast for Penny Polendina.

After dancing, she played available games. It was like one of those small festivals Penny heard about what people do in Japan. She played Goldfish scooping with Aina and Mimiru, Gun-shooting with Kuhn and Natsume, Yo-Yo Tsuri with Gaspard and Silabus, Ring Toss with Piros the 3rd and Silver Knight, Underwater Coin Dropping with Terajima and Crim and Katanuki (candy game) with Shugo and Rena two among the new friends Penny made whom she learned that were winners in an event that rewarded them the same player characters as Kite and BlackRose to play as the gynoid found them cute seeing that their characters are so childlike.

After playing games, she chatted with the others, who shared stories of their events with R:1 and R:2.

Yata and Endrance share their time in R:2 after R:1, Balmung and Orca chat about the good days of the .hackers, Gabi, Taihaku and Antaras talk about their fun times in experiencing the freedom The World had offered, BT and Pi talk about how Sora/Haseo was such a handful from the start and so much more.

Penny could only have so much fun and feel happy that her friends were all having fun.

Time had passed, and it was now one hour away until The World is officially shut down.

"Attention, everyone! Attention!" Helba called out, getting everyone's attention. "I must remind everyone that The World will officially shut down in less than an hour."

This brought some sad reminders to everyone.

"Oh no! Everyone is sad!" Penny gasped, getting everyone's attention to her at her sudden outburst as the said girl was looking around frantically. "Quick! Someone makes an emotional speech!"

This earned a few spit takes, laughter, chuckles, raised eyebrows and deadpans, but they did find the speech a good idea.

"I nominated Kite to make a speech!" BlackRose stepped forward with a raised hand with a cheer.

"Wait, what?!" Kite says, turning to his lover.

"Great idea BlackRose! I say we have the hero of R:1 make a speech." Orca crosses his arms in approval of the idea.

"Orca?!" Kite turns to best friends in exasperation.

"Here, here." Balmung nodded with a smirk.

"Balmung?!" Kite says in disbelief at what is happening now.

"I say you should do it!"

"Go for it, Kite!"

"It's fitting for the Azure Flame Knight to make a speech."

"Speech, speech, speech!" Everyone cheered in the chorus. Even Penny joined along.

Kite, having enough, gave in to the pressure. "Okay, okay! I'll give you guys a speech."

Everyone cheered at Kite's answer, making BlackRose kiss him on the cheek and wish him luck, making him smile slightly as he walked to the centre.

"Okay… speech." Kite coughs as he pauses for a moment, then begins his speech. "Eight years… eight years ago, I was just a regular player interested in playing a game like everyone else here. But never would I imagine I would be taking a lot more than I would imagine." The Twin Blade character says as he looks at his right hand and remembers his past while those among the .hackers also remember the adventure they'd faced in R:1.

He looks back at the crowd with a smile. "Thanks to all that I met all of you, both in-game and real world. I met such wonderful people with their reason for playing The World, and I would have never made it this far without all of you. So many things that happened back then. I'm glad that I came back to The World again with all of you R:1ers for this special day. Thank you."

Kite bowed to everyone, making everyone cheer and clap.

Kite looked up, then had a thoughtful look before smirking. "And without further ado, let's bring Haseo for his speech!"

"What?!" The Terror of Death shouted in disbelief.

"Sensational! You should do it, Haseo!" Penny encourages his brother figure.

"Do it, Haseo! I think you should do it." Atoli agreed with the gynoid, much to Haseo's horror.

"Yeah! Go for it, Terror of Death!"

"Speech, speech!"

"Haseo! Haseo! Haseo!" Everyone choused, making Haseo gap before dropping his head in submission before silently walking towards where Kite was, making the crowd cheer.

Haseo stood next to Kite before giving him a slight glare, only for Kite to provide him with a smile. Haseo just sighs and looks at the crowd.

"Okay… what should I say?" The Terror of Death mutters before thinking what he says. "Just like Kite, I was a regular player who was just as interested in playing The World. But never in my wildest imagination would this game change my life."

Most of the audience knew what he was talking about, the fact he was once Sora, becoming an Epithet User of Skeith, AIDA, finding the truth of Tri-Edge, the battle against Cubia and Ovan's rescue.

"So much happened in these couple of years for me, becoming the Terror of Death, the AIDA case, Tri-Edge, and so much more. At the start, I believed that power was the only thing that made things right…" He paused, recalling his obsession with power to avenge Shino during her coma. He was not proud back then, but he looked up with a smile. "But as time passed, I met many people in The World. Thanks to those people who had their problems and reasons in The World, I could cope. That's when I realized that true power… comes from all the people we encounter in our life's journey. And to make my peace with power… is spending it all in The World's end, with all of you."

With his speech ending, everyone cheered and clapped just as much as Kite's. Some whooped, smiled, and cried at such a heart-warming speech.

Penny could only smile and clap, seeing two of her best friends make heart-warming speeches that she would keep at the bottom of her heart.

"And let's finish this speech with Penny!" Haseo added, getting the gynoid to snap towards her senses.

"Huh?" Penny said in confusion.

"Yeah! Let's go, Penny!" Mistral cheered.

"Go for it, Penny!" Sakubo (Bo) happily said.

"Go Pen-Pen!" Tabby cheered.

"Penny! Penny! Penny!" Everyone cheered, making the gynoid smile nervously.

"You're mean." Kite smirked towards Haseo, who just shrugged.

"She started. It was only fair that she would finish it. And I don't need to hear that from you." Haseo said before giving an accused stare towards the Azure Flame Knight, who whistled innocently.

Taking a deep breath, the gynoid prepped herself ready. "Understood! I'll give the best speech I can offer!"

Penny happily says as she walks up to Kite and Haseo, making the crowd cheer again.

As she goes to where they are, she flashes them both a smile before turning the crowd.

"Salutations, everyone!" Penny started with her signature greeting, making the crowd chuckle. "I am pleased that we are celebrating this special occasion. Ever since my first arrival to The World in this world, I was lost and scared… but thanks to Kite, BlackRose, Haseo, Atoli and everyone else, I felt safe and secure in this beautiful world we are currently in. There were plenty of hardships in the past, but we managed to pull through, and all of us here gathered is proof of that!"

Everyone smiled at the gynoid, especially those who were closest to her.

"I learned so many new things about The World and outside it! I may not be able to be in the real world, but I had no problem being here, thanks to the internet! I learned so many new things for free!"

"I'm still surprised she got away with that scot-free." Khun whispered to Pi.

Pi shrugs. "She is a supercomputer with a human soul. She knows what she's doing."

The two and many others accepted that Penny was very similar to Aura, except that Aura had a goddess status while Penny had more of a mortal status. Thanks to those with connections with CC Corps and hackers not only provided Penny a private living space in the Net Slums, under her request, from both R:1 and R:2 in secret but also free access to the internet for Penny to use for her heart contents, and thanks to Penny advance AI capabilities she has high-speed thinking capable of learning all of Earth's media, entertainment, teaching, etc in short amount of time. Thanks to that, the gynoid was up to speed on Earth's knowledge and history.

Penny continued with her speech. "Yup! I learned things that I thought were impossible but that turns out it can be possible. Why, back home–!"

Penny suddenly paused, or rather, froze.

At first, no one noticed, but then a few began to see how long her pause was, making them look at each other in confusion.

"Penny?" Haseo said, getting a bit worried.

"Home." Penny stuttered before memories of her life began to flash before her eyes.

Memories of Remnant. Memories with her father, her creation, her training and studying, exploring outside from Atlas to Vale for the first time and meeting her very first best friend, Ruby and all the happy times they had together.

"H-Home…" Penny stuttered as her smile slowly dropped, and her lips began to tremble.

"Penny?" Kite said in worry as he turned to look at her face only to lightly gasp at what he was seeing along with the other.

Penny was crying.

Penny couldn't hold it any longer. She dropped to her knees and placed her hands on her face as she began to sob.

"Penny!" Most of the audience called out to the gynoid while others gasped at the sight.

Atoli and BlackRose quickly rushed to Penny's side. They kneeled to her level as they tried to comfort the girl, and Haseo and Kite stood there, shocked and confused at the sight.

"Penny… what's wrong?" Atoli gently asked as she slowly rubbed Penny's back.

"I'm sorry… I thought I was strong for this." Penny says while she continues to sob.

"Is this about The World shutting down?" BlackRose gently asked the gynoid, but she shook her head.

"No…" Penny answered as she slowly stopped crying. "I've long accepted what's going to happen to The World. I-Its just… I miss my home."

That answer made everyone realise what was wrong with Penny. The poor girl was homesick.

"I told you all I was from another world, right?" Penny lightly sobbed as she began to wipe her tears away and slowly stood up while Atolia and BlackRose supported her. "When I first arrived here, I was scared and alone. Thanks to Kite and all of you, I could keep going. And the memories that I had back from Remnant, albeit short, were thanks to my first friend who made me cherish it and adapt here."

"Ruby Rose." Kite and Haseo both said as they both recalled how Penny would happily talk about her very first friend who accepted her being a gynoid. Kite was pleased to hear such a good person was with Penny before she arrived in The World, while Haseo found it awesome that the girl was a scythe-user like him, except that her weapon was also a sniper gun.

Penny nodded, finally calming down and thanked Atoli and BlackRose before smiling sadly. "It made me realise how long I've been gone from Remnant. It has been eight years since I've been here, two years in my memory, but nonetheless eight. I can't help but think how long it has been for Remnant after my… passing. How badly my father and Ruby have taken it and how much it has affected my world."

The players all remembered how Penny talked about her world, how similar but different it was. It was funny that they somewhat compared it to a video game or anime, but nonetheless, it was still Penny's homeworld, and they stayed respectful. Their hearts gave out for the poor girl at how she died, the negativity it would cause for the Grimm, the monsters they've learned from her, and how it would affect one of Ruby's friends who unintendedly killed her.

"I accepted that I may never return, but now…" Penny says but looks down, not knowing what else she could say after that.

Kite and Haseo looked at each other and then at Zelkova, who noticed them looking at him. The two seemed to give a silent message to him as if they were asking permission. Zelkova simply smiles and nods to them, making them nod in return.

Kite approached Penny. "Penny. So you're saying you… want to return home? Back to Remnant?"

Penny closed her eyes, carefully thinking. "A part of me wants to stay here with all of you… but…" The gynoid opens her eyes and gives a sad smile towards her friends. "A larger part of me wants to go back home. There's so much I must do. So much to catch up on. After all… it's my duty as a Huntress."

Everyone gave the gynoid a sad, understanding smile through all the hardship and challenges Penny has gone through just as much as everyone from the .hackers to G.U., and everyone else can silently agree that their gynoid friend has every right to go back home.

And thankfully, they can give her that wish.

Haseo smiled before approaching her and placing his hand on her shoulder. "Penny. What if we say we found a way to take you back home."

"…huh?" That was all Penny said the moment her brother figure said those words.

"Penny…" Kite approached his best friend and placed his hands on her shoulders as he smiled warmly. "I… no, we kept our promise to you. In fact, this party was not just to celebrate the farewell to The World, but a farewell party, to you."

It only took a moment for Penny to register the very words. She slowly widens her eyes in realisation, disbelief and hopefulness. She was not only shocked at the same promise Kite had told her all those years ago but was also touched by giving her such a wonderful party for her.

She turned to Haseo as if she were looking for confirmation. The Terror of Death simply smirked and nodded to her. Then she turned to Atoli and BlackRose, who smiled at her and nodded in unison. She looked around towards everyone giving, showing their way of showing Penny that what Kite said was true.

She slowly turned back to Kite to ask the one question nagging at her. "How?"

Kite sheepishly scratched his face with his finger. "Well… it wasn't exactly easy."

"It took a lot of time to figure it out." Zelkova joined in the conversation as he approached the group while accompanied by Kaede. "But thanks to everyone, we finally cracked this solution for you, Penny."

"Indeed." Lios added as he stood with Helba. "To be honest, it almost seemed impossible to achieve, not since the incident with CC Corps three years ago."

"The fire incident…" Penny recalled during her absence, a fire broke out at CyberConnect Japan, which heavily damaged the data of R:1, which resulted in the creation of R:2 and how G.U. was formed. Because of that incident, Helba deduced that there was a five per cent chance of Penny being deleted permanently, which nearly made everyone give up hope in finding and sending her home. Thank goodness her data/consciousness was unknowingly salvaged along with R:1 to create R:2.

"Indeed. We nearly gave up on keeping our promise to you." Helba said as she regretted the few times she nearly broke her promise to the gynoid. "Thank goodness Wiseman and Elk told us of your survival."

"I go by Yata now." The former member of the .hackers huffed as he crossed his arms. "But like Zelkova said, it was a group effort. Everyone pitched in to do their part."

"What are friends for? I may no longer go as Elk, but I will always go far and beyond for Haseo and Penny." Endrance says with much devotion, making a few players near him chuckle nervously, albeit sweet but endearing.

"Everyone… Thank you." Penny smiled lovingly but was still confused. She was still basically a supercomputer with calculations and all that, and there was a vitally important thing she needed to know. "But how did you manage to pull it off? Not that I'm against it! It just… sounds so impossible."

"Hmph! Says the artificial robot girl with a human soul from another world." Saku chided as she placed her hands on her hips, making the gynoid blush at that fact.

Zelkova chuckles before crossing his arms with a mischievous look. "Well… I did say it was a group effort, after all. It was all thanks to her that we found the key conditions."

Penny tilted her head in confusion. "Her?"

And on cue, a familiar single tone echoed through the area. Slightly startling her as a bright light shined upon them all, making them look up while shielding their eyes.

As the light dimmed in the sky, a young woman, a majority familiar with her, appeared floating high above them. It was very AI that was considered a goddess in The World.

"Aura." Penny breaths out before smiling towards the Goddess of the Twilight.

"Greetings children of The World, as well as you, Penny." Aura greeted everyone as she slowly descended to the ground but still floated just a few inches away from it.

"Of course! The only way I could truly return home was to ask the one who brought me here!" Penny deduced now finally understands how it was possible to send her back.

"Yup!" Zelkova proudly says. "It wasn't easy, but thanks to Aura, what took a lifetime of work was reduced to more than a year's worth."

"Indeed. It was quite the experience watching Aura work her magic." Helba commented it was a lot of work, but all in all, it was worth it.

"You know, that's kinda bothering me." Haseo pointed out as he crossed his arms in confusion. "How can Aura bring Penny to The World from another world? Computers and technology are one thing, but we are talking about a literal fantasy thing you can find in fairy tales."

That question made everyone wonder how that was possible. In fact, no one brought up the topic at all. Then again, with everything that has happened, was there even time to question it?

"A unique possibility." Aura started, getting everyone's attention. "A life created through science and human potential that transcends the realm between reality and fiction that even I found both impossible and intriguing. Through endless calculations and theories, even to my comprehension, there is one singular impossible possibility that can explain Penny's arrival and for me to discover her. A Miracle."

When Aura said the reason, Penny could only smile and sigh, accepting such an impossible logic, seeing that she is an impossibility herself. "A miracle."

"A miracle, huh? I can go with that." Kite shrugged and accepted that explanation. Seeing everything that has happened to him and everyone else these past years, that explanation was a good enough answer for him and everyone else.

Zelkova clapped his hands, getting everyone's attention. "All right, everyone. Let's get to work."

Zelkova explained that for Penny's departure to work, The World close to shutting down was required. Due to the last-minute power-up to entirely shut down the system, they would use that to jump-start Penny's departure, in other words, a final parting gift from The World for Penny.

With the help of Lios's past connections with CC Corps, he was able to convince his former co-workers to legally divert power to the Net Slums (without showing its location) as a cover-up for the farewell party and thanks to Helba and Zelkova's hacking skills they prepare the system for needed for Penny and finally thanks to Aura's calculation at how she first found a retrieved Penny to The World by reverse engineering the calculations so that they can repeat Aura's action by doing the opposite that way sending her back to the source.

There were concerns about her being sent back, but Penny assured them by explaining the process of her being restored thanks to her father. She has absolute faith that she will return with a new body, but with how long the gynoid was gone, Penny was afraid that the years may have passed just as it was in the world Penny was currently in, but still she wishes to go back despite how long it has been.

While they were working on the preparations, Penny was giving her final farewells to her friends. She had accepted them as her precious family in this world she was sent to. They all say their goodbyes, good luck, wishes, and blessings. Most of them teared up and hugged the gynoid, and she did the same to all of them.

After saying farewell to her friends, all that was left was Kite, Haseo, Atoli and BlackRose.

Penny hugged Kite and BlackRose with a tearful smile. "Goodbye Kite… BlackRose… thank you both… for everything."

"Goodbye, Penny… we'll never forget you." BlackRose softly says.

"Take care of yourself, Penny." Kite softly says as he gently lets go, giving her a soft smile.

She turns to Haseo and Atoli and gives them a gentle hug. "I'll miss you, big brother… you too, Atoli."

"Take care of yourself, Penny… we all love you." Atoli silently sobbed as she held Penny tight.

"Take care… little sister." Haseo softly says, trying his hardest not to cry as the two let go of Penny, seeing tears falling from her eyes but still holding her smile.

"Penny." Aura called out, getting the gynoid's attention. "It's time."

Penny nodded as she wiped her tears away before walking to Aura, in the middle of the area, while everyone kept their distance from her.

"Power up system is preparing in less than ten minutes." Helba says as hard light screens show before her, along with Zelkova and Lios, as they type on hard light keyboards.

"As well as The World will be shutting down in another ten minutes." Lios added. "We'll be cutting it close."

"Just stay where you are, Penny, and where good to go." Zelkova says with a reassuring smile as Penny nods to him.

"Penny." Aura called, making her look up to the goddess. "Before you go… I believe it's only right that I give you a parting gift."

In front of Penny, a small orb of light materialized in front of the gynoid, making her look at it in awe.

"What is it?" Penny curiously asked as she placed both her hands under the orb, not touching it, looking as if it was floating on her hands.

"The World's Gift." Aura answered. "What you hold holds all the data The World can offer from the past to the present."

The gynoid could only look up in awe towards Aura and then at the orb, looking and holding it as if it were a newborn child. "What kind of data?"

Aura simply smiles gently. "That's something you must discover on your own; you will understand in time." The goddess merely waves her right hand, and by the command, the orb slowly enters Penny's chest and then merges inside her.

The gynoid softly gasps before placing both her hands on her chest. She doesn't feel anything but knows the gift is now one with her.

Penny gently sighs and gives Aura a loving smile. "Thank you."

Aura smiles and then looks up as the Net Slum glitches slightly. "It is time."

The goddess drifts away from Penny, leaving herself in the centre of the area. Penny silently gulped as nervousness and excitement took over, a feeling everyone around her also felt.

"Alright! It's almost there! Everyone, get ready!" Zelkova shouts as he types much faster on the keyboard, followed by Helba and Lios. "Aura! Do your thing!"

Aura nodded before raising both her hands as they glowed. Then suddenly, a circle of light appeared around Penny.

"Be ready, Penny. What happens next might feel weird." Helba says to her as she types down commands from her side. "Don't worry about the glitching, everyone. We are taking care of that!"

As they process this, Penny's body begins to shine while the Net Slum slowly glitches harder. The ring around Penny glowed brighter, and Aura's hands glowed equally brilliant.

"Process is fifty per cent complete!" Lios comments while doing his work. "Now sixty. More than halfway there!"

"Oh! I feel something!" Penny says as she looks around her body. "I think it's working!"

"Seventy per cent!" Lios shouted.

Penny looks around her friends for one final time as she happily waves her arms out. "Thank you everyone for everything! I won't forget any of you!"

"Goodbye, Penny!"

"We love you, Penny!"

"Dammit, girl, I'm gonna miss you!"

"Stay safe, okay!"

"Don't forget everything you've learned from our world!"

"Kick some Grimm butt and do your best in protecting your people!"

Penny could only smile and giggle as tears fell from his eyes again, feeling sadness and happiness from her friends.

"Ninety-five per cent!" Lios shouted as the circle became brighter, and they were glitching violently.

"Fare thee well… Child of the Twilight." Aura says, catching Penny off guard by what she called her. It was the first time Aura had ever called her by that name. Before she could ask what she meant, it was already time.

"One hundred per cent! Beginning transfer. NOW!" Lios shouted as he, Zelkova, Helba and Aura once did their action together, causing the light and glitches to violently shake the Net Slums, almost getting everyone to lose their balance.

Until it stopped.

The whole area was left exactly the way it was.

Only except… Penny was not there anymore.

There was silence in the Net Slums—no one daring to say anything.

Until Aura broke the silence as she smiled happily. "Penny is now safely back home."

And with that, everyone cheered! They had successfully sent their beloved friend back home at long last, and since there were ten minutes left before The World shut down, giving them time to celebrate once more.

As they celebrate, Kite and Haseo look up towards the sky, smiling as they swear from the bottom of their hearts that they will never forget Penny for the rest of their lives.

All she could see was darkness.

Until a load-up screen was displayed before her, telling her that all her systems were starting up.

Then, finally, her vision was clear.

Her point of view held a very familiar screen from the first day she was born. Penny began to feel a very familiar feeling towards her body. She felt she was lying in a very familiar position. She quickly realised she was inside a chamber where she was built and born.

"Is this…?" Penny thought as she began to recall where she was not.

Her thoughts snapped when she heard a familiar voice she had desperately longed to hear. "Penny! Darling, are you alright, my precious girl?"

Penny looked up from the chamber, and her robotic eyes began to water as she saw her father for the first time in so long. Pietro Polendina.

"F-Father?" Penny stuttered as her lips began to tremble.

"Hang on now… let me get you out there." Her father said as he quickly typed a few commands on her chamber, making the hatch open by herself.

In the process, Penny slowly stepped out of her chamber. She nearly stumbled to the ground before holding herself. As the gynoid stood up, she quickly looked at herself and noticed that her Xth Form was gone and replaced with a green dress. She should have expected that, seeing she was no longer in The World.

"Penny?" Her thoughts were snapped again as she looked down at her father on her mobile chair, who looked up at her with concern. "Are you alright?"

Penny smiled lovingly towards her father and thought of the right words to greet him. Then she recalled a specific sentence her big brother would always say and figured she would use it now.

"Everything is alright, father!" Penny says with a beautiful smile towards her father.

"I am… right here!"

To be continued…