Rin got out of Kai's car and stepped onto the sidewalk in front of Myth Inc. HQ.
The businessman stared at Rin from his car and then shook his head. "I never thought that a sweet girl like you could be such a vicious negotiator, Rin."
Rin blushed, adjusting her bag around her pink sweater and scarf. "I just wanted to get the best deal for my mom's present, Uncle Kai."
Kai laughed and waved his hand. "It's fine. Those guys needed to get knocked down a peg anyway." He glanced at the building and said, "Should I come back to pick you up later so that we can drop off your mom's new car? Or are you going to have Miss Beta or John help you with that?"
Rin frowned. "I don't want to trouble you, Uncle Kai, but I don't know if Miss Beta or the others are free later on. Um... Could I call you after I'm done here and know for sure?"
"Of course." Kai nodded and waved. "Then I'll head back first. Have fun with practice and your job, Rin."
"Bye Uncle Kai!"
With a faint smile, Kai drove off, leaving Rin alone.
It was around noon now, the sun high in the sky.
Rin's breath came out in soft white puffs from the cold, so she adjusted her bag and headed inside the building. As she did, she frowned. "Miss Beta and Mister John didn't come pick me up today so will it be fine?"
She didn't want to disturb them if they were in the middle of something... Maybe she should just head upstairs first?
Lost in thought, Rin walked forward, staring at the ground. But then a female voice called out to her, trim and professional.
"Welcome to Myth Inc. May I help you... Miss?"
Rin looked up and frowned.
There was an unfamiliar woman with long black hair sitting at the front desk. She was pretty... Not as pretty as Miss Beta or Alpha nee-chan, but she didn't seem to be any ordinary woman from off the street. She also looked smart, wearing glasses and a tidy suit. A stack of papers sat on the table in front of her, and the pen sitting beside it showed that the woman had been hard at work just before Rin walked in.
Rin blinked and realized that the woman was waiting for a response. And that she also seemed slightly confused.
"Sorry!" Rin walked forward and said, "I'm Rin! Um... I mean, I'm Rin Hibana! Did Mister John hire nee-san to work here?"
The woman's eyes widened and she muttered, "Rin Hibana? Wasn't that the last name of the nee-san that..." She trailed off and stared at Rin, a thoughtful expression on her face.
"Hm?" Rin tilted her head, confused.
At that time, a soft chime echoed. The sound of the elevator arriving at the lobby. The doors opened and then Beta walked out, wearing a pair of glasses, a white dress shirt, and a black H-Line skirt that hugged her thighs.
Rin glanced over and waved. "Miss Beta! Good afternoon!" She looked at Beta's clothes and said, "You look extra pretty today!"
Beta smiled and said, "Thank you, Miss Rin. And you are fairly cute in your pink sweater."
Rin smiled and made her way towards Beta. "Um, sorry that I forgot to call you when we were getting closer. I know that you said that I should do that so that you could get ready, but the man at the car dealer kept trying to raise the price, so..."
"Worry not." Beta shook her head and said, "I was also preoccupied other affairs, so all is well." She glanced at the woman behind the desk and said, "Have you introduced yourself yet?"
The woman shook her head. "Er... I forgot?"
Beta sighed. "Asako. You need to be more aware of these things. Even if this will not be your primary duty, it is important to act diligently. Unless you would rather be out on the streets?"
Rin's eyes widened and she quickly interjected. "It's not her fault, Miss Beta! I mean, I showed up without any warning, so I'm sure the pretty nee-san was just too busy doing her job and reading her paperwork." She turned to Asako and said, "Right?"
"Right... It was that nee-san..." Asako seemed to be agreeing with Rin, but her words seemed slightly off.
But Rin didn't notice and turned back to Beta. "See?"
Beta shook her head. "I suppose it is fine if you are not taking issue with it, Miss Rin. In any regard..." She pointed towards Asako and said, "This is your future co-worker, Asako Seiryuu. She may be a bit blunt and crass, but her face and voice are... adequate."
Rin frowned. "That's a bit mean, Miss Beta."
"But factual." She turned back to Asako and said, "And this is Rin, our major talent that my father cares about a great deal. She is free to come and go as she pleases... In fact, do your best to provide her whatever aid she requires in the future. Understand?"
Asako nodded. "Yes, Miss Beta. But, um... That girl-"
Beta spun around and headed back to the elevator. "We can discuss your questions later. We are already behind schedule." She pressed the button, opening the elevator doors with a soft chime.
Rin followed after Beta and then waved at Asako. "It was nice meeting you, Miss Asako! Keep up the good work!"
"A-Ah." Asako nodded. "I'll... do my best? But-"
The elevator doors shut, cutting off whatever else Asako wanted to say.
Beta pressed the button to head to the top floor and then glanced at Rin. "Did you manage to find a good car for your mother then, Miss Rin?"
"I did!" Rin nodded. "I think Uncle Kai's car dealer friend called it a... Um, what was the name again?" She paused, frowning, and then said, "Right! A Roles-Rise Ghost!" She smiled and said, "It's really cool! And it's pink, too!"
Beta blinked. "A... Roles-Rise Ghost?" She adjusted her glasses, glancing at the side. "The luxury sedan with lamb-wool interior furnishings and a wide cabin space?"
"Oh!" Rin nodded. "Do you know about it, Miss Beta?"
"...I know enough. And you chose a truly high-class vehicle. But might I ask something, Miss Rin?"
"Mhm! Go ahead!"
"...Just how much did you pay for it?"
Rin flushed. "W-Well... It's a bit embarrassing, but Uncle Kai's friend didn't want to sell it to me at first. We argued about it a lot, but I eventually managed to get it down to 450000 yen." She paused and then poked her fingers together. "Um... did I spend too much money?"
Beta blinked and then let out a quiet laugh. "Indeed, Miss Rin's cuteness is a weapon of its own."
Beta shook her head. "Nothing. But you did well, Miss Rin. I am certain that your mother will appreciate the gift."
Rin let out a sigh of relief and placed her hand over her chest. "That's good. I was worried that I did something wrong... Oh!" She glanced at Beta and said, "You said that pretty nee-san was Miss Asako, right?"
Beta nodded. "That is her name, yes."
"Is she going to be a member of Project MirAIs too?"
If she was, that would mean that Hana had a kouhai!
Beta hummed. "Not immediately. There is another stubborn individual who wishes to debut before her."
"Really?!" Rin's eyes sparkled and said, "There's another member to our family already?"
Beta paused. "Family?"
"A-Ah." Rin looked to the floor and said, "I'm sorry. It's just... Project MirAIs is small and cozy right now. And with Miss Beta and Alpha nee-chan and Mister John... It really feels like a small family." She looked up to Beta. "Am I wrong to think that?"
Beta stared at Rin and then frowned. "...You truly are too cute. No wonder Eldest Sister was enchanted when she first saw you."
A soft chime echoed, the elevator finally arriving at the top floor. The doors slid open, revealing the usual hallway down to the streaming studio. Beta walked out, followed shortly after by Rin.
The crimson-haired beauty glanced back at Rin and said, "You are free to think of us as such if you wish, Miss Rin. After all, it is true that we are all fairly close."
Rin's eyes brightened and she quickly moved to Beta's side. "Then does that mean I can finally call you my older sister too?"
Rin flinched. "O-Oh."
Beta glanced at her and then sighed. "It is nothing against you, Miss Rin. But I am afraid that there is only one person I acknowledge as my younger sister, just as there is only one that I acknowledge as my eldest sister."
Rin looked to the ground.
Of course. Miss Beta wasn't like Alpha nee-chan. She had to be professional, so it was definitely asking a bit too much to call her older sister.
Beta looked at Rin, pursing her lips in contemplation. And then, as they reached the end of the hallway before arriving in the streaming area, Beta stopped.
"Miss Beta?" Rin stopped as well and turned to look at her.
Beta bit her lips for a moment and then nodded. "Fine. I suppose... If it makes you feel better, Miss Rin, you may address me as your older sister. However, you cannot be my younger sister."
"Really?! Thank you!" Rin smiled... but then she paused, frowning. "Wait, is there a difference between the two?"
Beta coughed and said, "There is. A clear distinction at that."
Rin tilted her head. "What is it?"
Beta's ears turned red and she said, "T-There just is."
"Mm... I don't get it." Rin muttered. "But okay!" She looked back at Beta and smiled. "Thank you, Eldest Sister!"
Beta froze. "P-Pardon?"
"Is something wrong?"
"No, but... That. Miss Rin." Beta looked at Rin and said, "Why are you calling me Eldest Sister?"
"Aren't you older than Alpha nee-chan?"
Beta quickly shook her head. "No. Have you not heard me address her as Eldest Sister this entire time, Miss Rin?"
"Ah!" Rin nodded. "I did... but I thought that you two didn't have the same mother. And didn't you say that Mister John wouldn't tell you when you two were born? How do you know who's really older then?"
Beta blinked and said, "That is... Um..."
"Anyway." Rin smiled and said, "Miss Beta is super mature like an eldest sister should be! So you're Eldest Sister!"
Beta was silent, her face clearly conflicted at the title. But then she sighed. "Very well. I suppose I cannot refute that logic... though Eldest Sister may take offense to it- Ah. No, she would simply find it cute and pardon it as it is..."
Rin tilted her head and blinked.
"In any case." Beta shook her head and smiled. "Shall we begin your lessons?"
"Yes, Eldest Sister!"
In the Celestial Jade Palace, Princess Yue's private chambers.
Since the time of the stars aligning continued to draw near, and since her mother seemed to be more fatigued than usual, Omega had gone ahead to prepare their belongings for the dimensional leap in a month. She had also gone out to settle their affairs in the Three Realms.
As she walked back from beating up- Er, *negotiating* with some of the more uppity Eternal Emperors trying to encroach on their private business, the girl with light-green and gold hair paused, tilting her head to the side.
"That is strange..." Nothing was there. But... "Why do I suddenly feel a surge of irritation?"
Omega frowned, mulling over the odd sensation.
It was... almost like someone was trying to take her place. As if a naive young girl was attempting to insert herself in their family.
"...Hah. Perhaps Dearest Mother is correct." Omega shook her head, carrying a bundle of medicinal ingredients that she had extort- *acquired* from the Eternal Emperors. "I may be getting too paranoid about Father's actions..."
Shrugging, John's youngest daughter headed off to tend to her ill mother. Maybe one of those medicinal ingredients would help resolve Dearest Mother's morning nausea...