.hack//Gathering of the Unwilling
Prologue and Chapter 01
Started Chapter: 01-December-2007
Finished Chapter: 05-December-2007
First Post: 29-December-2007
Last Edit: 24-December-2007
Edited Online: 19-January-2008
All original materials belong to their respective owners. Dot Hack belongs to Bandai and CyberConnect2. No copyright infringement is intended.
This story ignores the existence of .hack//LINK, the deletion of The World R:2 and the release of The World R:X. Characters from .hack//LINK may or may not appear.
- Outer Dungeon - Game -
- 11:45 PM, Saturday September 16, 2017 -
It was finally over. The anti-existence known as Cubia was defeated by the combined effort of the Epitaph Users leaded by Haseo. The creature, born after Ovan used the 'Rebirth' to purge AIDA from the Internet, had come close to cause the Third Network Crisis. Its first victim would be The World R:2 had not the users of the game reunited, after being contacted by Moon Tree's Guildmaster, Zelkova, and fought bravely to give Haseo and his teammates the chance needed to approach the creature.
Haseo and the Epitaph Users were forced to enter Cubia itself, searching for its core, since its outer shell provided to be too powerful, even when they acquired Ovan's power of Corbenik. The team encountered resistance when Cubia unleashed Doppelgangers to fight them off, but the prompt help of Aura allowed Haseo's other friends to enter Cubia and hold them off, while the Epitaph Users fought their last grand battle.
With a final roar, Cubia exploded in a shower of coded data, and the Third Network Crisis was prevented. Haseo, and everybody else, were thus transported outside, and back to the Net Slums, where they could finally rest and be reunited with those that took longer to awaken from their comas.
- Abandoned Aparment in Tokyo - Real Life -
- 11:50 PM, Saturday September 16, 2017 -
The room was dark and dust covered everything in sight. The bed laid undone, as it had remained after its owner had left in haste several months prior, never to return. Several discarded clothes adorned the floor and nearby chairs. The one-room aparment was once the home of the young genius known as Amagi Jyotaro, and had been abandoned ever since he was sent to a mental hospital after he set fire on the CC Corp Headquarters, action that brought the destruction of the original release of The World. At the center of the room laid the undone bed, and in front of it, besides the balcony, was a desk with several of Amagi's possessions left untouched.
Jyotaro's parents died when he was young, and his younger sister lived with distant relatives in America, thus his aparment was left alone, even when they were told about the tragedy that had befallen upon the genius behind the R.A. Plan of Project G.U. Sound interference filled the room suddenly, coming from the computer's speakers. A sound, which seemed like a roar, vibrated through the room and as it died down the screen came to life. Several words flashed. Words that would sound like nonsense for many, but words that will bring shock and terror to those that had seen them before.
INITIATE PROGRAM: MORGANNA MODE GONE #&
- Kasumi Tomonari's Aparment in Tokyo - Real Life -
- 00:40 AM, Sunday September 17, 2017 -
Kasumi Tomonari, the player behind Kuhn, sighed as he removed the M2D from his face. Picking up a nearby handkerchief he cleaned the sweat from his forehead. Glancing around he noticed the hour at his clock, 20 minutes till 1 AM. Sighing once again he entered the bathroom and splashed his face with cold water. He was tired as hell, since the battle with Cubia had taken real long, and wanted no more than to go to sleep, but a roar from his stomach told him otherwise. Even as sleepy as he was, he was more hungry, so he went towards the kitchen to prepare himself a late night snack.
The brown haired young man online was widely known as a ladies man, and held a strong reputation of being someone who likes to help those in need, specially if they are women. Such reputation was one of the things that forced him to abandon Kestrel, a guild which did not dislike PKing, and then to create Canard, alongside other players. Tomonari chuckled at the irony of Haseo inheriting the charge of GuildMaster of his previous guild. Aside from this, the young man held another identity online. Kuhn, among other seven, held a strange power within his avatar. The power of Epitaphs, and his was Magus, The Propagation.
Finishing his snack Tomonari returned to his room, and before jumping at his bed, he gave a glance to a photograph that laid at the side of his desktop. In the photograph he seemed younger and happy. He had his arm around the shoulders of a cute blue eyed brown haired girl, with a hair color shade darker than his.
- "There is no day I regret not being mature enough to not lose you..." - Tomonari said as he passed his fingers over the picture. Despite his online personality, in real life he was no ladies man. He was just a Software Quality student, on his last year at Tokyo University, who worked part time on CC Corp. He had his differences with those he worked with, but the job had given him enough experience and he hoped to gain a full time job when he graduated.
- "Good night... Mai" - He whispered as he turn the lights off, thanking whoever was listening that the next day, or rather already, was a Sunday.
- Kanazawa University's Dorms. Room of Aihara Yuki and Minase Mai - Real Life -
- 7:05 AM, Sunday September 17, 2017 -
Yuki and Mai, roommates, where currently sharing a simple breakfast. Yuki yawned, causing Mai to giggle softly, whereas Yuki promptly glared back. Yuki-chin, nickname she acquired from her old account in The World, was not a morning person.
- "Tell me again why we must get up so early" - Yuki asked while yawning. The girl had fixed her relationship with his brother and his wife just a few months after the invasion to CC Corp Headquarters. Some months later her sister-in-law gave birth to a boy, who currently was 7 years old. And some more time later she left their home when she entered college. Yuki had moved from her natal city to Kanazawa, intending to study in the School of Health Sciences of Faculty of Medicine alongside her friend Mai. Both had moved into one of the school dorms in their first year.
- "Because we are meeting Tokuoka-san remember? I told you to sleep earlier, yet you had to stay up late watching TV". Mai answered her friend. Seven years have passed since their first meeting, during what was known Online as the Twilight Incident among a selected few. Mai still plays the Violin as a hobby, but long ago she abandoned her mother's idea of becoming a professional. Her decision brought a lot of discussions between both women, and when Mai left home, to enter University things got a bit ugly. The pass of time, and them living apart, had somehow fixed their relationship a bit, thanks to the interference of Mai's father. Mai studies in the same medical school as Yuki, and currently is saving money, alongside her roommate, to move into a aparment in Tokyo, where they intend to live once both graduate.
- "But why now? We will not be graduating for almost a year..." - Yuki pouted with closed eyes.
- "We have talked about this before. We need to start looking for aparments. I for one, do not plan to return to my home after graduation, so we need a roof where we can live then." - Mai stated to her friend, who only glared at her.
- "Whatever..." - Aihara said, making Minase sigh. - "Still does not explain why we get up so early".
- "Yuki... please... remember the trip between Kanazawa and Tokyo takes almost 4 hours by train. Tokuoka-san is helping us to search, and then he will allow us to stay with his family tonight. We will be returning here tomorrow at night, since its a holiday and we will not have classes. And I do remember you being excited to see him again after all this time. And about meeting his family as well." - Mai said as she stood up, taking the empty dishes to have them cleaned.
- "I know... I know... sorry... I am just not a morning person... you know I always get my classes after mid-morning." - Yuki once more yawned.
- "How can I not know?" - The blue-eye girl giggled. Yuki glared at her, stood up and turned on the TV, before going to help Mai.
- "Hey... do you think it is safe to use the train? You know... with those recent accidents... and yesterday night it seemed like the electric connections were acting up... I staid up late watching the news..." - Yuki said, while glancing at the weather report.
- "I... I have a feeling everything is alright now." - Mai said, while closing her eyes for a second.
- "How come?" - Yuki asked, but Mai just shrugged. After a few minutes they finished the dishes and went to gather their things. Both young women left the school dorms and started their walk towards the train station.
- "It is somewhat scary... these recent events... make me remember... what happened back then..." - Yuki said, while glancing towards her friend.
- "I know... but... we can only hope it was just a coincidence... I mean... that AI Tokuoka-san told us about... it was erased and defeated by the .hackers..." - Mai remembered.
- "With a little help from us!!" - Yuki grinned, making Mai smile.
- "Whatever". - Mai giggled at Yuki's glare. Both paid their tickets and boarded the train - "But anyway... these recent events most probably are just a coincidence because..."
Mai's words died on her mouth as she stood in her place unmoving. Yuki watched her and seeing her almost in trance tried to get her attention. Whispering, trying not to acquire the attention of other passengers, Yuki finally managed to get a reaction from Mai.
- "What in the world Mai?" - Yuki whispered.
- "A in C major..." - Mai said in a barely audible whisper.
- "Huh?" - The black-eyed girl was confused.
- "I heard A in C major..." - Minase said.
- "You... sure? Like... like that time?" - Aihara looked somewhat scared.
- "I... I think so... I do not think I imagined it..." - Mai said.
- "You think we should... you know... get off?" - Yuki asked.
- "The next station is still a few minutes away... just let me breath and calm down... maybe I really did just imagine it... since we were talking about it..." - Mai said. Yuki nodded at her and handed her a bottle of water from her purse. Mai thanked her and drank from it, calming her nerves. They arrived at the next station, and seeing Mai okay, Yuki and her continued their trip. Four hours passed soon.
- Train in movement. Kanazawa-Tokyo Route - Real Life -
- 8:30 AM, Sunday September 17, 2017 -
Two men sat inside the train. At first glance one could think they were father and son, since they clearly had a great difference in age. Twenty years to be exact. Yet both men were not related. They simply were friends. The youngest one glanced towards the entrance where two young girls had just entered.
- "Hey Leader... look at those ladies... are they not hot?" - The youngest one said.
- "They are Butt-Rice... just do not make me look at them so much... I could be their father... what? You want me arrested for being a pervert?" - The older of the two stated. He was almost 50 years old.
- "Ohh... I told you to NOT call me that... it is NOT Butt-Rice! It is Ohm-Rice! O-H-M Rice!" - The younger of the two, who was in his late 20's hissed.
- "Yeah yeah... I can only read you name as Butt-Rice... so live with it! And stop hissing! Everybody is watching you." - The man, known online as Kaki Leader smirked.
- "Damn you..." - Ohm-Rice blushed in embarrassment. - "Huh?"
- "What know?" - Leader asked.
- "Did you hear that... sound?" - Butt-Rice questioned.
- "What sound? I did not hear anything. You sure yesterday's events did not fry your brain? I know those weird monsters were scary... but this is a bit too much." - Leader said. The day prior, both of them, who were together after an Offline reunion, received a strange email from Moon Tree's GuildMaster, asking their help to fight monsters known as Cubia Gomorras.
- "It is not that... it sounded... like some kind of musical note... or something..." - The rice boy said.
- "You just need sleep." - The older man said. Seeing his cellphone he had an idea. - "Maybe it is one of those new cellphone ringtones that only fools like Butt-Rice can hear." - He smirked.
- "Do not call me that!!" - The younger fumed.
Leader lost his smirk when he stared at his cellphone. It seemed to be blocked, and red letters with a black background flashed on its screen. - (What the hell?... Morganna Mode Gone? What is this? Some kind of new virus?) - Rebooting his cellphone, Leader started to mock Butt-Rice again.
- Misaki Ryou's Aparment, Tokyo - Real Life -
- 10:03 AM, Sunday September 17, 2017 -
Misaki Ryou groaned in his bed as he sat. The previous day had been hectic. Since around noon he had been logged into The World R:2, and had not logged off until after midnight. He had spent almost half day in the game, fighting off Cubia's Gomorras and Cubia itself. Yata had found four Lost Grounds where the outbreak of Cubia was spreading. Leaving the Macabre Dancer behind at the Serpent of Lore, Haseo and the other Epitaph Users had gone to hunt them down. He was surprised several times, finding help from previous foes like Bordeaux, Asta and IYOTEN, and mostly happy to see Alkaid once more. The Twin Blade ex-empress of the Demon Palace had appeared to help, alongside Sirius and Taihaku, at the Arche Koeln Waterfall. Upon seeing her, Haseo's first reaction had been to hug her, making the Twin Blade blush online, and most probably offline.
Ryou blushed at the memory of his own boldness, and promptly chuckled remembering her face. He sobered upon remembering the rest of the day. The power fusion of the other 7 Avatar over his own, Skeith. The battle inside Cubia, against the Doppelgangers, and finally the destruction of the Cubia Core. It was truly a hectic day. He wondered if Ovan was awake... since he did appear to help... or if his power was transferred by the man's will and wish.
A beep sounding from his computer brought Ryou back to reality. Turning on the monitor of his desktop he glanced at the flashing icon that signaled a new email. His breath stopped upon seeing the sender. Shino. Without hesitation, Ryou opened the mail.
To: Haseo at TheWorldR2 dot com
Sender: Shino at TheWorldR2 dot com
Subject: I am waiting.
Delta Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground
I am waiting. You know the place.
"There is no such thing as a voice that cannot reach someone."
Ryou could not stop the smile from spreading across his face. Yesterday he had recovered Alkaid, and today, Shino was emailing him. He finally did it. He was able to bring her back. Sure... it may have been Ovan's Rebirth the one that destroyed AIDA at the end... but Ryou's online persona, Haseo, had also worked very hard to bring back those dubbed as Lost Ones.
- "Shino is waiting. Let's go to Delta Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground" - Ryou muttered to himself, forgetting his tiredness and breakfast.
- Delta Root Town, Eternal City Mac Anu - Game -
- 10:22 AM, Sunday September 17, 2017 -
Haseo, The Terror of Death, logged into The World once more. Without a second glance at anything or anyone, the Adept Rogue turned towards the Gate and entered the keywords that would transport him to the Cathedral. Within rings of light, which signaled teleportation, Haseo left the Root Town.
- Delta Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground, Hulle Granz Cathedral - Game -
- 10:23 AM, Sunday September 17, 2017 -
The white PC Xth form of Haseo was transported in front of the grand cathedral. Without losing a beat, he ran towards the sole building of the Lost Ground. Stopping in front of the grand door, he calmed his breath. He was not running in real life, but he felt so nervous that his breathing was somewhat erratic, as if he had been running in reality offline.
Opening the door he glanced towards the front. And there she was. The dark purple suited grey haired PC of Shino was in front of the Altar that still sported the SIGN left behind by Tri-Edge, or rather Ovan, when the girl was PKed. The very same place where Haseo lost her in a shower of data. The place where she fell into a coma all those months ago.
- "Shino..." - Haseo called tentatively.
- "Longtime..." - Shino said without turning around. He grunted in response, as he was currently speechless. - "Do you remember?"
- "Huh?" - Haseo was confused.
- "What we talked about here." - Shino suggested.
- "About the Goddess... about Aura." - Haseo answered, as he walked to her side, in front of the empty Altar where a statue of Aura once was bounded by chains.
- "Haseo... I was watching you the entire time. AIDA... You see, my consciousness was faintly connected to Ovan's left arm." - Shino said, turning around to watch Haseo for the first time, with her own eyes, in several months.
- "Yeah, Ovan's sister said the same thing." - Haseo answered back, remembering how Aina had initially blamed him for Ovan's demise.
- "I was with Ovan most of the time, and caught glimpses here and there of what happened." - The Harvest Cleric said, while glancing at the empty altar once again.
- "Ovan... He sacrificed himself to stop Cubia, which he himself had created..." - The Adept Rogue sighed at the memory.
- "That man... He saw things through in a way only he could. And that is exactly how he wanted it to end. It is as if we were just living in Ovan's personal story. Characters in a play." - Shino said as she united her hands in her back, and moved as if dancing in the same place.
Haseo grunted at her words. - "It was not like that!" -
- "I know..." - Shino admitted.
- "Haseo?" - A new voice said. A familiar one. Turning around, Haseo found another Harvest Cleric. The PC had the same design as Shino, but instead of dark and clear purple her suit was white and green. The hair color was blonde, instead of silver. It was Haseo's teammate and fellow Epitaph User. The wielder of Innis, the Mirage of Deceit, Atoli.
- "Atoli!" - Haseo was surprised to find her here.
- "I asked her to come." - Shino answered Haseo's un-spoken question.
- "Um... well... Your consciousness finally came back Shino! That is so wonderful!" - Atoli, clearly nervous, said.
- "Thank you, Atoli." - Shino smiled at the girl.
- "Haseo was right. Your PC really does look just like mine! Oh, but... Our personalities are different! It is insulting if I say you are like me, huh... Um... You know, Haseo was always trying to cure you... He tried really hard! And for a long time!" - The blonde rambled.
- "I know." - The silver haired girl said.
- "Um... So uh... yeah... Anyway I... Well goodbye! And good luck!" - Atoli stated as tears filled her eyes, reflecting her offline persona. The newest M2D were able to reproduce the player's expressions. If the player's eyes twitched, if their eyes filled with tears, if their cheeks blushed. All of these expressions reflected on their PC. With no doubt, the player behind Atoli, Chigusa, was about to cry offline.
- "Wait!" - Haseo tried to stop Atoli as she left the Cathedral. Upon seeing the girl leave, he glanced back at Shino.
- "Let's... let's start the Twilight Brigade again." - Shino proclaimed.
- "Huh?" - Haseo was clearly confused at Shino's outburst.
- "With just the two of us. We will and go and find Ovan..." - Shino stated.
- "I... uh..." - The boy was confused.
- "Haseo... I saw it all. Everything." - The Harvest Cleric smiled at him.
- "Shino." - Haseo looked at her eyes.
- "Now be honest with yourself!" - Shino encouraged. Haseo nods at her, and promptly runs after Atoli.
Shino turns around, to glance at the altar, and speaks. - "You are watching, are you not? Ovan."
- Outside the Hulle Granz Cathedral - Game -
- 11:11 AM, Sunday September 17, 2017 -
Atoli stops in front of the Chaos Gate. Cleaning her tears she glances back at the Cathedral. Her eyes widen upon seeing Haseo running towards her. Atoli can not stop a smile from spreading through her face. Without a second thought, she runs towards him, and both meet with a hug in the middle of the road.
- "Haseo... I... I..." - Atoli stuttered.
- "Shh... please... do not say anything..." - Haseo says as he hugs her. They broke their hug a few moments later, and they separate, leaving their hands together.
Atoli's smile died as she saw his serious face. - "Haseo...?"
- "I... I know it is selfish of me... but... I need time... I need to sort my fee... my own thoughts." - Haseo seemed sorry.
- "It is Alkaid... right?" - Atoli glanced at Haseo's eyes.
- "I... yes... I... I just do not know right now. I need time to think." - Haseo turned around. - "When I lost Shino I broke down. When I thought I lost you, when the AIDA attacked you, before the AIDA server, I almost lost myself. When Alkaid disappeared in code lights I was devastated. When Sakaki possessed you with AIDA I once again found myself lost. Recovering you, and fighting alongside you healed me. Seeing Alkaid yesterday brought me back from my own guilt. Seeing Shino now... makes me feel it was all worth it, and gave me peace." - Haseo explained, not glancing at Atoli, otherwise he would have seen her smiling.
- "I understand..." - Atoli hugged him from the back, making Haseo blush. - "I will wait... and I... I shall accept whatever you choose... just remember... I will always be there for you... Haseo..."
- "Thank you Atoli..." - Haseo answered. He glanced back, and found Atoli kissing his right cheek. His eyes widened, and before he could say anything, Atoli teleported out of the Lost Ground.
- "Is that fine by you, Haseo?" - Shino asked him, while approaching.
- "I... I needed to tell her that before she left. I am sorry for not telling you first Shino." - Haseo explained. - "You three are too important to me... and I... I need time to sort my own feelings..."
- "You have grown Haseo. I am proud of you. And... I know you will make the best decision". - Shino smiled at him. She approached him, and standing up on her toes, kissed his left cheek. - "Goodbye Haseo" - Shino logged out.
Haseo fought back his blush at receiving not one, but two kisses from two of the three girls he held tightly on his heart. He sighed. Until now he kept fighting to recover those he lost. He wondered when it happened. At first he thought he only held feelings for Shino, and kept advancing intending to save her. Along the way, without noticing, he started caring about Atoli, and not just because her PC looked like Shino's, but because of her caring self. He also began caring about Alkaid, who ironically was a previous foe who had hated his guts. The spark of the Twin Blade filled his heart with joy, and her lose had been a big blow to him. Sometimes he felt guilty when he remembered taking Alkaid's lose harder than when he lost Shino. He tried to excuse himself thinking it was because he had not had all the information when Shino was PKed.
Sighing, Haseo teleported out of the Lost Ground.
- Delta Root Town, Eternal City Mac Anu - Game -
- 11:32 AM, Sunday September 17, 2017 -
Haseo appeared in front of the Chaos Gate. Despite not having really done anything, he advanced towards the NPC in charge of the Save Shop, intending to save his file. Upon finishing, he was about to log out when he noticed a red-haired Twin Blade approaching him. Alkaid.
- "Hey Haseo!" - The girl greeted. He smiled at her. - "Whoa! Out of character! You are smiling!
- "Does that mean you prefer to see me scowling?" - Haseo's left eyebrow rose.
- "I am just kidding. Actually it is nice to see you can smile." - She teased him. At his chuckle Alkaid grinned. - "Hey... can we talk... somewhere private?"
Haseo glanced at her expression. Looking around he could understand her words. Many nearby PC were staring at them. After all, both of them were famous characters. She was the ex-Demon Palace Empress, and he was the undefeated Emperor of the Three Palaces. He sighed remembering that his triumph had even made it into the news reports. Online he could handle other players, since his reputation as The Terror of Death scared them. Offline was another matter. He could not believe when everything his classmates talked about was about the legendary Haseo. He thanked the gods he never told anyone of his online persona at school. Not that he had many friends though, and even those he had ignored his online agenda.
- "Sure. Let us go to Canard's atHOME. I will give you a guest key, unless you wish to join." - He grinned at her.
- "A guest key would be fine." - Alkaid answered him, and then whispered without letting him hear. - "For now..."
- "Here. Accept it." - Haseo said, while sending the guest key through the trade window. When the transfer was finished he approached the Chaos Gate." - "The atHOME used to be on Breg Epona, but with the recent madness it was moved to the Net Slums."
- "That weird server above the turtle? How come?" - Alkaid asked.
- "Let just say it became our Headquarters." - Haseo answered.
Both players, Adept Rogue and Twin Blade, entered the Server option of the Chaos Gate, and promptly transferred to the secret server, not opened to everyone, The Net Slums Tartarga.
- Net Slum Tartarga - Game -
- 11:41 AM, Sunday September 17, 2017 -
Haseo and Alkaid arrived at the Chaos Gate of the Net Slums. Passing alongside the AI residents of the Net Slums, Haseo leaded Alkaid into his guilds atHOME, Canard. Ignoring Death Grunty, and kicking him away, Haseo sat down in the sofa where the Grunty usually stood.
Alkaid chuckled at the hat-less Grunty as it left, cursing Haseo all the way. Seeing the Adept Rogue sitting, she joined him at the sofa. - "You know? Your PC looks cool... was there another Expansion campaign while I was... asleep?"
- "Eh... you could say that..." - Haseo sweatdropped.
At his answer, Alkaid's left eyebrow rose. - "Do not tell me it was hacked..."
Haseo sighed and decided it was better to explain it to her. Alkaid was surprised to learn that the very one to have hacked Haseo's PC was none other than Zelkova, Moon Tree's GuildMaster. - "Well... that explains your Dual Guns..." - The red haired muttered.
- "Well yeah... and well... you should already must have noticed things are not... normal around me..." - Haseo scratched his head.
- "Yeah... well... anyway... I needed to talk to you about something important." - Alkaid seemed nervous.
- "Yes? Tell me. What is it?" - Haseo seemed anxious.
- "I... will not be able to log in for a while..." - Alkaid explained while turning around.
- "What?" - Haseo's eyes widened.
- "You see... I just woke up from my... coma... a few days ago. Upon my insistence my parents allowed me to log in yesterday and today. I told them you were in danger and needed my help. They did not believe me at first, but when I received Zelkova's mail I knew I had to insist. They blamed the game for my coma, and did not want me back. I was able to convince them to allow me to help. With everything over, they want me to quit, but I will insist for them to let me come back later on. It may take a while though... Currently they are giving me privacy so I can talk to you, but soon my father will be blocking my access to the computer." - Alkaid said while tears fell from her eyes, both online and offline.
- "I... I see..." - Haseo was dumbfounded.
- "Haseo... I told you before... I do not like losing... and if I leave now... I feel like if I am losing... not the game... but... you..." - Alkaid blushed.
- "Alkaid..." - Haseo blushed as well.
- "If it is okay with you... I want you to have my cellphone number... I... I really want to keep in touch with you..." - Alkaid offered. She saw the surprise in his eyes, and thinking his expression showed his reluctance, she dropped her shoulders in defeat. - "I mean... if you do not want to..."
- "Sure. I would love that." - Haseo answered, surprising her. She grinned at him, her tears long forgotten. They exchanged their cellphone numbers, and stood up.
- "Well... I guess this is goodbye for now Haseo..." - Alkaid was interrupted.
- "Ryou. Misaki Ryou." - He told her. Upon her surprised face, he said. - "If you are calling me to my phone I think it would be better if you did to my real name."
- "Yeah." - She smiled at him. - "Chika. Kuramoto Chika. Nice to meet you Ryou."
- "Nice to meet you, Chika." - He smiled at her.
Alkaid told her goodbyes, and before logging out, surprised Haseo by standing on her toes, and kissing him on the right cheek. He saw as she logged out. He was sad he would not be able to see her online persona for a while, but was happy to know he could still talk to her. Spotting Death Grunty glaring at him in a corner, Haseo logged out. He had a lot to think about.
- Takeguma University Hospital, Nanao Shino's Room, Tokyo - Real Life -
- 11:29 AM, Sunday September 17, 2017 -
Nanao Shino sighed as she removed the old FMD from her face. Her talk with Haseo had not gone as planned. The brown haired girl knew that Haseo harbored feelings for Atoli, and tried to push him on the right track. But she did not expect her own heart to twitch in pain when the boy ran after Atoli. She told Haseo to be more honest with himself, and yet she should be the one to take her own advice. She needed to be honest with herself. She was in love with him. She saw a little hope for herself upon hearing Haseo saying he needed time to sort his own feelings for not just Atoli and her, but for a third girl, Alkaid. Maybe she had another 'rival', but at least she still held a chance.
- "Are you done Miss?" - A nurse asked, while approaching Shino.
- "Yes. Thank you for lending me your FMD, I really needed to log in." - Shino smiled at the nurse, while handing her the FMD back. It did not offer the same quality as the newest M2D, but it was enough for her small chat. Besides, Shino would not really know the difference, since the M2D were released while she was comatose.
- "No problem Miss. So I guess you are ready to go?" - The nurse asked, while helping Shino with her things. - "You just woke up from your six month coma two days ago. Is it really wise for you to be discharged so soon?"
- "Thank you for your concern. But I am fine. The doctor allowed me to leave since he could not find anything wrong with me." - Shino smiled while she changed out of her hospital gown.
- "Only because you insisted Miss. But I guess you must be sick of this place by now." - The nurse stated.
- "Not that I could say much about my stay though. But I seriously need to get back to my daily life. It is bad enough I have already lost two semesters of College thanks to this." - Shino pouted. She was a student at Saitama University's Faculty of Education. Since she fell into a coma in February, and it currently was September, she practically missed most of the first semester of the year, and the first half of the second.
- "I see. Is your mother coming to pick you up?" - The nurse asked with no harm.
- "Yes. She wants me to stay with her for a while. It will help me sort a few things. After all, my aparment must probably is covered with dust and my plants are all dead" - The twenty year old girl grumbled.
After sorting her things Shino thanked the nurse and left her room. Upon walking through the halls she noticed a pair of people speaking of a topic she unfortunately knew about. She recognized the man as the Star Reporter, Salvador Aihara.
- "So in the end we did not learn anything about Doll Syndrome, nor AIDA." - Salvador sighed.
- "Opposing mirrors of hope and despair" - Shino said while passing by Salvador and the unknown woman.
Shino walked towards the elevator, and greeted another nurse. Upon turning around, and noticing Salvador's confused face, she spoke as the doors closed. - "That is what AIDA is"
The brown haired girl found her mother at the lobby, and promptly left the hospital.
- Takeguma University Hospital, Outside Uike Tooru's Room, Tokyo - Real Life -
- 11:35 AM, Sunday September 17, 2017 -
Tajima Michiru, professor of Elementary School, and currently unemployed, glanced inside the room of one of her ex-students. The ten year old boy, Uike Tooru, was smiling and laughing like a normal kid. The sight would have been normal, for a kid that age, if it was not for the fact that Michiru had seen the boy acting with so much malice just a few weeks ago.
- "Is this the fault of Doll Syndrome?" - Michiru muttered. She passed her fingers through her hair, in a nervous gesture. - "How come none of the children remember their actions?" - The professor asked her male companion.
- "Wish I knew. The sudden attitude change on the kids is unnerving. And their amnesia is disturbing as well. I say it is to convenient. I know we trespassed, but if the police had not taken us to jail, maybe we could have found the truth. CC Corp must know something." - The man, half japanese and half brazilian, Salvador Aihara, answered.
- "We owe Professor Sugai for getting us out." - The woman glanced at the kid inside the room once more. - "Maybe we did not learn anything. But seeing the boy's smiling face is at least reassuring. I ignore what truly happened, but I just hope the kids can go back to their normal lives"
- "True" - Salvador answered, and promptly sighed. - "So in the end we did not learn anything about Doll Syndrome, nor AIDA"
Michiru was confused when she heard the cryptic words of a young woman who passed by. She and Salvador followed her with their eyes, and heard her stating her words referred to AIDA. - "Who... was that?"
- "Hey Miss Nurse!" - Aihara called at the nurse who had greeted the passing girl. - "Can you tell me who was that girl? And why was she here?"
The nurse looked at him, and upon recognizing him, answered. - "Sorry Aihara-san, but I can not tell you who she was. If you were to put her on your show I could get fired."
Salvador groaned at the nurse's words. - "Alright... at least tell me why was she here..." - Upon seeing her doubtful face he made puppy eyes.
- "Aihara-san..." - Michiru groaned in disbelief, and then glanced at the nurse. - "I will not allow him to do something like that Miss Nurse. We are just curious, since she spoke some strange words to us"
- "I know you... you are that nice lady that was dragged into Online Jack by this man. I heard you were fired, and I was saddened by this. You seemed to be a nice person who was only worried about her students. Oh alright... I will not tell you her name, but I will tell you that she just woke up from a six month coma a few days ago. She was discharged today." - The nurse explained.
- "A coma?. Hmmm. Coma victims..." - Aihara muttered.
- "Something in your mind?" - Michiru was curious.
- "Yes... ever heard of the rumors on The World's BBS? About people falling into a coma while playing?" - At Michiru's negative, Salvador elaborated. - "There are these weird rumors going around on the BBS. They say that if you get PKed by weird monsters or PC your real life persona falls into a coma. These rumors have been around ever since the first version of The World. I think I will ask Nuada about this."
- "Who?" - Michiru's left eyebrow rose.
- "Oh... a friend of mine in The World. He likes rumors a lot, and normally is a good source for information. He also knows who I am." - The man answered.
- "Ah... you play the game as well." - Michiru stated.
- "What can I say? It IS fun. And relaxing. You should try it." - Salvador laughed.
- Takeguma University Hospital, Uike Tooru's Room, Tokyo - Real Life -
- 11:59 AM, Sunday September 17, 2017 -
The boy, Tooru, went back to sleep as the nurse left. She was very nice and made him laugh. His parents had left an hour ago, in order to get some rest. He did not remember anything from the months prior, and it somehow annoyed the boy. Scratch that. He did remember something. Three words to be exact. But these words did not make any sense to him, thus he never mentioned them to his parents nor the doctors.
- (Sakaki... Haseo... AIDA... I wonder what they mean?) - The boy sighed as he closed his eyes.
Upon falling asleep, the boy missed the strange reaction of the monitoring devices at the corner of the room. Lighting surrounded the machine, and static sound emerged from it. The normally blue screen flashed black, with three red words, for a few seconds.
I FOUND YOU #&
To: Sirius at TheWorldR2 dot com
CC: Taihaku at TheWorldR2 dot com, Antares at TheWorldR2 dot com, Endrance at TheWorldR2 dot com
Sender: Alkaid at TheWorldR2 dot com
Subject: To my fellow Emperors.
I just wanted to let you guys know I will be taking a 'vacation' from The World. My parents believe it is for the best that I do not log in for a while, nor use a computer. They do not know the truth behind my 'accident', but nevertheless they say I should rest from the computer. They will only allow me to use it if my classes require it. It did not feel right for me just leaving without telling you guys from ICOLO. Yes, even you Endrance, even if you never did formally join. I already told Haseo, so you guys do not need to forward him this.
Till we meet again.
"And just so you know. I am persistent and I never give up!!"