When the otaku woke up, the first thing she did was flip open her 3DS. It looked just like it had three days ago, when she'd first gotten it - with its game library slowly filling up.
"Three days ago". That was a funny joke. Those had been the longest three days she'd ever experienced, if that was the case.
It didn't quite feel real to be back in her own room, just yet. Funny how that happened—you spend so long getting used to one thing, and then you get thrown into another and it becomes your new 'normal'. All that laughter, all that happiness...
Well, no, not all of it. It wasn't all gone. No, the most important thing... was still here, wasn't it?
"Hey, Chisa, Chisa, look," the otaku said to her... girlfriend, that Sunday. Oh, the word was so strange to say! 'Girlfriend'. The otaku hadn't given much thought to women before, but here she was, going out on a date with one. "Chisa, look. Look, I kept the hanafuda theme."
"Oh, it's your 3DS," her girlfriend said. "Does it still—"
"That's the weirdest thing, all those other games are gone," the otaku said. She sighed and shook her head. "I guess I've been spoiled for three years' worth of ga...ming... bweh?"
The otaku blinked, and her girlfriend leaned in over her shoulder. "What's wrong?"
"Where's SQ4?" the otaku said. "It came with it, it was right here... where's SQ4?"
"SQ...4?" her girlfriend said.
"SQ4! It's a game, I'd been looking forward to playing it—" The otaku whipped out her smartphone and started looking. But... what she found wasn't what she expected to find.
Later that night, her mother was at the house, so the otaku came down to the couch and sat down. "Mom, you remember Sekaiju no Meikyu, right?"
"Nope," her mother said, flipping channels. "Can't say that I do."
"Oh," the otaku said. "Okay."
Eventually, she had to accept it. Part of her game library had vanished. Not just vanished from her library, either—seemingly vanished from the world itself. In fact, she even dug through her library and found a few games she'd never even heard of, instead. She recognized some directorial credits from them, so what? Had she been dumped into an alternate universe? Was she being isekai'd even harder now?!
—No sense worrying about it. So, it was chalked up as a very odd thing that happened.
"Hey, Chisa," the otaku said, a few years later as they were walking through that famous Shibuya crosswalk. Heh, maybe she'd wake up for a Reaper's Game here. Wouldn't that be neat? (Comiket was being held nearby, and the release of her and her girlfriend's debut manga, which had originally been planned to be a light novel but for the incredible artistic skill of the young lady of the Inomiko family, was an important occasion.) "It's 'Tell Your World'! They're showing it on the big screen."
"Oh, it is!" Her girlfriend looked up and smiled. "I really respect Miku. Her artistry despite all the different producers she works with is a great quality to have."
"And you think she's cute," the otaku said, cackling to herself as her girlfriend lit up.
"W-well, b-be that as it may!" Her girlfriend sputtered. "I-I might! But—but not in a—well, you know—"
"I know, I know," the otaku said, draping her girlfriend in a hug. "You're not my mother. Your appreciation for waifus is on a much purer level than me and my husbandos."
"I, um... I wonder if she'll ever do a song you wrote?" Her girlfriend looked back up. "I mean, I like your songs. I think they'd do great. You use the provided voice banks to do great things."
"The name of Bathori-P is one that hasn't reached its prime yet," the otaku said. She looked back up, and politely decided not to mention that before 2012, Hatsune Miku hadn't been a real person. "Hm... Hey, Chisa. Do you think I could be an idol?"
"What?" Her girlfriend blinked. "Um... well, you have a lot of artistic passion... and you're very pretty, so—"
"Are too!" This was a routine. "It's true."
As she had been recently these days, the otaku looked at her girlfriend, whose, heh, raven locks flowed in the light breeze. There was a certain sparkle to her features and her lithe, toned body, which the otaku knew from experience was also quite flexible. When she picked up one of her family's blades, she looked graceful and smooth as she practiced a dance of swordplay, swinging through the air as though the blade were an extension of her arm. Nevertheless, the young lady of the Inomiko family was soft-spoken and kind, never raising her hand in anger to another.
The otaku couldn't help but wonder, then, how she could ever be called pretty next to the absolutely gorgeous and wonderful woman who she'd been lucky enough to start dating. Sure, she was the daughter of 'Japan's most beautiful genius', but—
"Oh, I recognize that look," her girlfriend said. She put her hands on the otaku's shoulders. "Stop that. I think you're a very attractive young woman, sweetie. And you can't prove me wrong, so there~"
The otaku blushed and looked away, twiddling her fingers. "...Idols can't date, anyway, so it's a moot point. Plus the culture is kind of bad."
"Maybe if we could tear down the culture, then," her girlfriend said.
"On the other hand, a lot of those idols are really cute," the otaku said, trailing off and imagining herself surrounded by a multi-gendered harem of sparkly, beautiful idols, carrying her and tending to her hand and foot... "Ohhhh, yeah..." ...and the male idols would have bare midriffs to show off their muscles, and maybe some skintight leggings on the girls to show off their supple legs... and her girlfriend would be there, too, of course, and she'd look fantastic in an idol outfit, all bright and cute and—cosplay, cosplay, remember this for cosplay, you must see Chisa in an idol outfit, right after you convince her to dress like a maid, there are many things that Chisa must dress at for the sake of definitely artistic expression and no other reasons!!
They made it to Comiket after the otaku distracted herself with idol daydreams... eventually.
As the years went on, things started to contradict what she'd seen in her glimpses of future entertainment, too. Games weren't quite the same, especially with the advent of the Universal Hacking Interface and the isolation of the Psy-Gene meaning that concepts like that were no longer quite as surprising. And... those hadn't happened before she left, either. YUUHI, yes, but this sudden outburst of psychic individuals? That was new. So was her mother isolating that genetic sequence.
Eventually, the names of Carmilla-sensei (her) and Gracia-sensei (her girlfriend) became well-known in the Comiket circle. The two-person doujin circle Sororirity had made a name for itself with its timely releases and well-respected writing. "Maybe we should make a game next," the otaku said one day, tapping her pen to her lip in between signings. "That's what all the hot indie circles do, right?"
"I don't know how to program!" Her girlfriend said, starting back.
"All ojou-samas born after 1997 don't know program," the otaku said. "They only know draw, be gay, swing sword, eat hot chip, and lie."
"I don't know what that means, either!" Her girlfriend said. The otaku took a photo of her startled face. "What?"
"This'll be great for Instagram. You've been getting popular on there recently," the otaku said. "IG poster 'Jonii' says, 'Aaaargh, shit, you fucking normie! Give me a girlfriend as pretty as Gracia-sensei!'"
"W-what?!" Her girlfriend sputtered, looking like she was just about to fall dead on her ass.
"See, this is why I handle the social media account," the otaku said, shaking her head and smirking. She pushed her glasses up her nose, and they glinted in the light, because she was an anime. "You should be glad I've taken this responsibility off of your shoulders. A pure, wholesome normie like yourself wouldn't be able to handle such forbidden knowledge. Ku ku ku."
—On a certain day, on a certain month, in Shinjuku, the otaku came home to her home in a world where games vanished or were different, where psychics existed, where virtual idols had become real idols, and where she, proud denizen of the darkness, had a loving girlfriend, who she'd been dating for eight years now. Said girlfriend was off on an important assignment from their mother to try out for something or another, some pet project of her mother's and her associates... who knew.
The otaku took a deep breath out. "Just breathe. You can do this. It's been a while since you composed, but it's gonna sound great. Let's test the song out."
And she hit play on her own composition—a new sure-hit single by Bathori-P, set to release in 2020.
[Hikisakareta, daichi no koe]
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