Rame was unsure of what to expect as they had gotten to the front of the line. It seemed the people before them were having fun, but what was it like to put on one of those helmets?
“Have you ever used one of those things before?” She asked him. It was nearly their turn, and she felt some anxiety about letting them strap that onto her head.
“Nope.” His response didn’t give her any hope either. “It’s kind of exciting, I guess even as I’ve gotten older. There are still going to be new things to give me new experiences.”
“That’s an interesting way of looking at it.” She never considered the experience to be worth it. After all, in life she always knew things could easily be taken away. Her life could be ended in an instant, and perhaps most might not care. In terms of Enatis, there would even be massive celebrations by the humans there. “I hope I don’t make a fool of myself.”
“Thankfully they got co-op.” He commented as they finally got up to their turn. The attendants running the place explained to them the safety rules and etiquette upon getting these headsets on. Then, they were helped into it.
“Whoa…” Rame was awestruck by what she saw as they entered the virtual world. She saw her hands, only they weren’t her own hands. Yet they moved about as if they were attached to her body. “This is so awesome.”
“Be careful.” He warned her. “We’re still in the real world, so don’t go about being reckless in your movements.” She couldn’t believe that she could see him too as they were playing the game. Unsurprising to him, they were playing as the mechs one would see in the anime. The way they moved about was smooth like butter, and he was impressed to with how much the tech was capable of.
“What am I supposed to do?” She asked him as they saw some ships flying their way.
“Just push the buttons on the controller and stuff will happen.” His explanation was terrible, but it wasn’t like he could tell what the technique details were in such short time. So she did what any rational person would do in this situation. Press everything and hope for the best.
With a barrage of missiles and laser shots, she ended up dumping her load onto all the enemies coming their way. “Okay, maybe save some for me next time.” He said, now left with nothing else to do as they waited for the next wave. However, with long lines this game had to be short. So their next opponent was the boss as well, another mech like them.
“Ahh! I can’t believe how strong he is.” Rame got targeted first and was hit with a barrage from the enemies. She felt like she was actually going to die, even though this was all fake anyway.
“Don’t worry, I got this.” Juuto put himself between her and the final boss, taking a fair bit of the attacks coming towards her. Then, with his blade of power, the boy charged the target. “Justice slash!” Getting caught up in the moment, which reminded himself of his childhood days. The man called out his special attack and cut the foe in half.
“Wow, nice job!” She congratulated him as they got their helmets taken off by the staff.
“Geez, how embarrassing.” He covered his mouth and blushed over the thought of yelling out the way he did in front of all the people watching. They clearly had to think he was some kind of loser now. “Let’s just go now.”
“Well, I’m a bit hungry. How about we go grab some food.” He agreed. Really, anything was good so that he didn’t have to stick around and face anyone here. They went to the nearest booth, which was selling takoyaki on sticks for them to purchase. “This looks really good… Um, do you mind paying for mine?”
“Right, I guess losing your job has made money tight now.” The way he said it made it sound like she was fired, but being her manager he knew that not to be the truth. Well, being her former manager right now. Juuto paid for their meals and the pair sat down at a table not far. It had a wonderful sight of all the rides with many people screaming and cheering.
“You’re right about that.” She replied. “We’ve really had to do that thing where people say we’re stretching our yen.” Though she had no clue as to why that was the way to describe it. They were not at all attempting to pull and stretch their paper currency. Not to say they didn’t try at first. “Ahh, it’s been so hard to find a new job.” Rame plopped her face down onto the table in disappointment.
“Well, you know there just so happens to be an opening at Eight-Twelve.” He spoke coyly, trying to disguise why he made the suggestion. “One for the night shift, where I work.”
“You’ll take me back?” She was surprised he’d give that back to her. She would’ve thought that after quitting it wouldn’t be allowed.
“I already know you’re a competent worker.” He said. “And… It’s kind of been a bit lonely working all by myself the last few days.”
“Oh, I’ll take the job.” She gave him a big hug in gratitude. “Thank you so much.”
“All right, all right. You can let go of me now.” He said, looking around to see if anyone was paying attention to their presence. The man wasn’t good with public displays of affection. Especially if they caused potential misunderstandings. “Good things the people we know in the neighborhood aren’t around.”
“Why would that be a problem?” She had grown to like the humans he interacted with on a daily basis. Something that the girl never considered she’d ever feel through out all her years of living. “They’re nice people.”
“Just cause they’d be teasing me.” They already made enough insinuations about him potentially dating Rame. The man wished he could tell the truth on why that was impossible, but there was no way to do that. “Though I guess to be fair, a lot of people probably think we’re going on a date.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s what we look like.” She responded quietly. In a sense, after being told what a date was, she never really considered what she did with him to be romantic. To be fair, the girl didn’t even understand what romance felt like. Was this supposed to be viewed as such on this planet? Maybe, it was also the same thing on Enatis. She simply just never considered it, because her actions caused pain and sadness, rather than joy and love.
But having it now, here with him. She did like this feeling growing in her heart. A heart that only knew destruction, but learning of this calm life. It craved more of it. Not only that, but it wished to enjoy it more with him by her side. What she was growing to feel about him, was this the love everyone else spoke of?
And perhaps, it had already been there for a while now. After all, that would explain why she acted the way she did when she thought Marie and Migane were encroaching on him and potentially take the man away from her.
Was what she felt for him, what humans call love?
“Figured we’d find ya here.” Asaga’s voice broke her out of her thoughts. Him and the others had finally gotten around to coming back to rejoin them.
“It’s good to see you’re on better terms.” Mifuru commented. “I hope it wasn’t challenging.”
“You’re not supposed to say it out loud.” Akitomo scolded her. This girl was going to need dozens of lessons to lose this bit of bluntness she had. “Try to pretend we didn’t know for once.”
“I’m just glad we didn’t need to run around the entire place to find you two.” Said Marie. “This was only the second spot we thought to check at.”
“What was the first?” Asked Juuto.
“The hot dog stand.” Asaga pointed over to the direction where they came from. Sure enough, there was a stand selling hot dogs with delicious creamy cheese on top of it.
“There’s a hot dog stand here!?” Rame immediately shot up from her seat in excitement. “Come on, we gotta go get some.” Quickly, she grabbed Juuto’s arm and pulled him away.
“Hey don’t leave us behind!” Marie called out for them as the others gave chase. “Not after all the time we spent looking for you.”
“I guess this is going to be a normal occurrence.” Juuto sighed as he was dragged along by the much stronger girl. It took everything he had to not lose balance as he ran to keep up.
Still, as he looked back on the others slowly gaining on them. The man had a smile on his face. Being with all of them didn’t feel all that different than what he’d expect from hanging out with normal humans here. Perhaps, they weren’t so different after all.
Thank you all so much for getting this far into the story. It's taken a long time, but I did finally get to finishing the third volume here. I think there's still a fair bit of plot that could be put in here. But from the lack of engagement with this one compared to most others. I'll be taking another break with this one to focus on some other works.
So I'm sorry for fans of the series, but I hope you can be patient with me!