217 – Aoko Ryuusei – Fanservice
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A wave of red filled the stage, both hearts and roses. But despite that, it was completely silent.

"E-Eh?" Alfi blinked and looked around. "Um... is something wrong?"

The area behind Alfi rippled, and then Aoko walked out. She let out a deep sigh and said, "How the hell am I supposed to follow up with that...?"

The area rippled again and then Hana ran forward to hug Alfi. "That was beautiful, Onee-chan!"

Alfi gave her a soft smile and said, "Thank you, Hana."

Aoko crossed her arms and then let out an exasperated sigh. "I thought the two of you said you weren't choosing emotional songs. What the heck am I going to do now?"

Hana stepped back and looked at Aoko. "Well, we could always start with the duets, Aneue."

"After that performance?!"

Titor stepped out from behind the invisible veil and laughed. "You worry too much, oh great Blue Dragon."

Aoko rounded on Titor, growling. When she did, blue flames wreathed her body, momentarily showing a dragon tail and horns. "Keep talking and I'll knock that smirk off your face you cringey bastard."

Titor held up his hands.

The stage rippled one more time and then John stepped out. "Could you not antagonize the girls, Titor? Seriously."

"Antagonize? Me?" Titor's eyes widened and he placed his hand on his chest. "Why, I am simply offering my heartfelt support to our resident dragon who seems so disheartened by her peers."

"And once again I'm reminded about why people hate me." John sighed and then looked out towards the crowd.

Titor looked out as well and then walked forward. As he did, electric blue sparks gathered in his right hand before turning into a mic. Clutching it, he smirked and said, "How was it, people of the current era? Did you enjoy my beloved daughter's heartfelt song of love?"

John snatched the mic away from Titor and said, "Alfi is my daughter, dammit. If you want one, go make one with Amadeus!"

Titor coughed and quietly said, "Please don't give my assistant any ideas."

[Amadeus_Christina] L-Like I would ever do that with him! E-Even if a daughter might be nice...
[sugandesesquirrel] I sense a tsundere...
[loserlion] Wait. So is Titor married too? HOW?!
[confusedcat] I see. So either be full normie or full otaku...

John rolled his eyes and turned to the crowd. "Anyway... Thanks for listening, everyone. And sorry for you guys getting knocked out." He laughed and said, "My daughter's just too cute, right?"

A thunderous roar echoed in response.

Alfi blushed.

Hana laughed and said, "See? Onee-chan is super cute!"

Aoko glanced at the crowd and then nodded. "Yeah. You're too damned cute, Alfi. It's a good thing you didn't take my advice too literally. It'd be pretty bad if someone dropped dead from a heart attack."

Alfi gasped. "Aoko-chan! You shouldn't joke about that!" She turned to the crowd and said, "And please! Everyone, take care of yourselves! I don't want anyone to get hurt!"

Red hearts flew out towards the stage, along with more flowers.

Alfi frowned and said, "I'm being serious!"

Titor chuckled. Turning to face the crowd, he swept his arms out and said, "Now, people of the current era. Of the three in Project MirAIs, two have performed. All that remains is the Blue Dragon Princess." He turned his head back towards Aoko and said, "MirAI 03... Are you ready?"

Aoko grumbled and walked up to the mic. "I still don't know why you guys wanted me to sing the last solo piece... Especially after all of that."

John walked over to the right side of the stage. After that, he sat down. When he did, golden light gathered around him before turning into a golden synthesizer and chair. He played a few light chords before turning to Aoko and said, "Well, you won't be completely alone on this one, Aoko."

Hana jumped up and said, "Yeah! We'll help out too, Aneue! Right, Onee-chan?" She turned to Alfi.

Alfi smiled and said, "Of course!" She looked to Aoko and said, "This time, we'll support you, Aoko-chan!"

Titor laughed and walked over to the left side of the stage before sitting down. When he did, blue pixels shimmered before turning into a digital drum kit. He held out his hands, causing silver drumsticks to appear before in them before he smirked. "Yes. It would be rude to let our princess step out on the stage alone, wouldn't it?"

Aoko huffed and said, "I'm not a princess!"

"Ah, my apologies." Titor conjured a fedora and then placed it on his head. Tipping it, he said, "It would be rude to our Queen. Is that not so, Milady?"

Aoko shuddered.

John sighed at Titor's antics, but then he turned to Aoko. He gave her a warm smile and said, "Don't worry, Aoko. We've got you. Just have fun and let everyone else hype you up."

Aoko hesitated, but then she nodded. "Fine. But..." She grabbed the mic and held it up. "Don't blame me if this whole concert crashes and burns."

Alfi reached over to the side, grabbing something on the stage. When she did, crimson light rippled before coalescing into a guitar. She slung it over her shoulders and tuned the strings a bit before smiling at Aoko. "It won't be that bad, Aoko-chan."

"Yeah!" Hana smiled and turned to the crowd. "Isn't that right, guys?"

A roar echoed in response.

Aoko flinched, muttering, "You're weird. You're all weird, liking me like this."

At that time, a trio from the crowd threw a bundle of roses. A garbage bin, a walking fox, and a golden whale standing on its flippers.

Aoko froze and then looked over there. "Wait a minute... You three!" She pointed at the trio and said, "You bastards! How are you even here?! Weren't those VR headsets sold out already?!"

[StraightGarbage] You underestimate my power.
[FailureFox] I had one preordered ages ago.
[GoldenOrca] Oil money is best money.

"This concert is supposed to be free, dammit! And StraightGarbage, you're supposed to save money!"

The garbage bin rattled, like it was laughing. After that, the fox and the whale laughed as well.

Aoko groaned.

Hana laughed and said, "See, Aneue? You already have some fans waiting for you to sing. Come on now!"

Aoko bit her lips, staring out at the crowd. She swept her blue eyes across the stands in the back and then sighed. "Fine. I'll sing. B-But you all can't laugh!" She pointed out at the crowd and swept her arm around. "All of you! Don't think I can't do anything just because you're behind a screen!"

Laughter filled the air.

John chuckled as well before saying, "Well... Should we start?"

Aoko sighed. "Let's just get this over with." Her face turned red, but she held up the mic to her face, waiting.

John looked over to Alfi and said, "Ready?"

Alfi nodded. "After you, Papa!"

"Then... On your cue, Aoko."

Aoko took a deep breath and nodded. She held up three fingers and started counting down.

Three.

Two.

One...

[Play FANSA - HoneyWorks]

Alfi strummed her guitar, letting out a soft chord. At the same time, John played a piano chord to match it. And as for Aoko...

She looked out at the crowd and sang, "Just fall in love with me, once more! Oh keep your eyes on me, for sure!"

Aoko let out a stiff smile and sang, "Though I might not be the best, I'll push through and give you a great show."

Hana cupped her mouth and walked to the front of the stage. "Let's go everyone!"

Titor started playing the drums.

Hearing that, and seeing Hana move, Aoko blushed. But she kept singing. "It's a crazy dream, but I'm on the stage with you. Though I might seem a bit shy... I'll be fine if it's you guys."

*UWOOOO!*

A roar echoed from the crowd in response to Aoko's song.

She turned a deeper shade of red, but her smile widened. "If you cheer me on, then there's nothing I won't do. I'll just grit my teeth and go, if that will make you laugh at all."

The background behind Aoko shimmered, showing a dozen screens. Each of them, clips of her failing in either Meincraft, dancing, or getting flustered by chat.

[StraightGarbage] Go Queen!
[FailureFox] Oh shi- I mean, you're my Oshi!
[MoistPenguin] Now that's what I'm talking about!

"Even if I've got nothing but flames and roasts, even if everything that pops up now are just shameless boasts."

The screens flickered, turning into chatboxes. Messages roasting Aoko, messages supporting her... and a flurry of Superchats mixed in with those.

"I don't care at all, I'll still stand here tall because everyone is here."

Hana cupped her mouth and shouted. "Let's go!"

Aoko smiled at her and then looked back at the crowd. Holding out her left hand, she sang, "Just fall in love with me-"

Hana pumped a fist in the air and cheered. "ONCE MORE!"

At the same time she did that, the words popped up over the stage.

Aoko's smile widened and she sang, "Oh keep your eyes on me-"

This time, the crowd caught on and cheered with Hana.

*FOR SURE!*

Aoko nodded and sang, "Though I might not be the best-"

*I'll push through and give you a great show! Whooo!*

Aoko placed her other hand on the mic. Her eyes shook at the sight of the crowd jumping and cheering, but she stayed focus and kept singing. "I'll give my best for you-"

*ONCE MORE!*

"So go and try hard too-"

*FOR SURE!*

"And then let's all just relax, hanging out together sharing a big bright laugh. As fan service to you!"

A brief musical interlude. Titor pulling off a virtuoso solo on the drums, with John doing the same on the synthesizer.

Aoko laughed and said, "You're all crazy, aren't you?"

Alfi giggled and said, "I think they're all just crazy about you, Aoko-chan."

Hana pumped a fist in the air and said, "Yeah! Go Aneue!"

Aoko shook her head and then started to sing again. "I still think it's weird how you send me all these cheers. All the comments that you write, am I not wasting all your time?"

The area behind Aoko shimmered, showing scrolling comment pages. UTube, Tweeter, Readit... fanart, posts, and other fan content scrolled past.

Aoko glanced back at them and then sang, "Well, I guess it's fine. If you think that I'm so great. I'll just work hard now and grind! Your trust in me I won't betray."

The upbeat melody and tone dipped for a moment, turning a bit serious. When that happened, the images behind Aoko changed, showing a hazy image.

A snowy mountain peak, overlooking an empty valley.

She turned back to the front of the stage and sang, "Even if all the things that I wanted to do, even if every single plan I made has now fallen through."

The picture quickly changed, turning into an aerial image of Tokyo as it looked now with snow covering the buildings.

Aoko held out her left hand and sang, "I won't give up now, I'll stand up and vow that I will make you smile." She grinned and pumped her fist in the air. "Let's go!"

The background changed back to the stage, showing all the members of Project MirAIs, along with John and Titor.

Aoko smiled and sang, "Oh raise your sword and fight-"

*ONCE MORE!*

"You'll make it through I know-"

*FOR SURE!*

"Even if things might be rough-"

*I'll come along just to pick you up. Whoo!*

Aoko laughed and then sang, "A bright big smile for you-"

*ONCE MORE!*

"A long way left to go-"

*FOR SURE!*

Aoko let out a soft smile. "Singing now this selfish song filled with love and hope that you make it through. As fan service to you!"

The music stripped down, leaving just John on the synthesizer and a few soft chords from Alfi.

When that happened, the surroundings changed again.

Everyone vanished, leaving only Aoko standing there. At the same time, the stage was gone, replaced by a snowy wasteland.

Aoko held up her left hand and sang, "Ah... But is this fine? The end I sought can't be the truth now."

The surroundings changed to a ruined temple, along with a broken stone grave in front of Aoko with [True Azure Dragon] written on it in English.

Aoko looked up at the sky and sang, "All the dreams I had then, and all that I gave up. Is it fine? For me now? To finally just smile?"

A brief pause. But then Aoko smiled and pointed at the front shouting, "Don't give me up!"

The scene rippled, turning back to the stage. When it did, Alfi stepped up, shredding with a guitar solo.

Aoko smiled at her and then looked back at the crowd. When she did, she winked and sang, "Oh never ever gonna go around and then give you up. I'm never ever gonna turn around and then let you down. That's the rule we made, that's the game we play so let's go through it all!"

[doubtfulduck] NO!
[obviousoctopus] WE GOT TROLLED!
[SwedishFish] RICKROLLED MID-SONG?!
[GoldenOrca] LOL! Go Queen!
[ValleyReaper] Kill it, girl!

Aoko laughed and then sang. "Cheer and smile for me, once more! We'll laugh and have some fun, for sure!"

The music turned soft, leaving the focus on Aoko's voice.

She stared at the crowd and sang, "So that we won't regret, let's all have a party and make this day last. We'll sing along next time, once more! We'll sing and we'll be fine, for sure!"

Aoko held out her left hand and sang, "A secret to you from me, our time together is-"

She blushed and didn't sing the next part.

But Hana picked it up, along with the crowd.

*L. O. V. E!*

Aoko cleared her throat and then sang, "Just fall in love with me-"

*ONCE MORE!*

"Oh keep your eyes on me-"

*FOR SURE!*

"Though I might not be the best-"

*I'll push through and give you a great show. Whoo!*

"I'll give my best for you-"

*ONCE MORE!*

"So go and try hard too-"

*FOR SURE!*

Aoko smiled and sang. "And then let's all just relax, hanging out together sharing a big bright laugh. As fan service to you!"

She finished the song with a wink and then blew a kiss.

And then after that she immediately turned red. Flames spilled out behind her, forming horns and a tail... a tail that swished around in embarrassment.

"Urgh... Kill me now."

[MotherNature] YAS QUEEEEEN!
[AtlanteanShark] Kill it gurl!
[ValleyReaper] Yas gurl! Keep it up!
[RationalRabbit] Okay, so this is kind of cool...

As usual, the lyrics to go along with the song. Also, I will always be upset that I never managed to get to this chapter before Coco graduated, but that's just how the cookie crumbles...

Spoiler

Just fall in love with me, once more! Oh keep your eyes on me, for sure!

Though I might not be the best, I'll push through and give you a great show.

It's a crazy dream, but I'm on the stage with you.

Though I might seem a bit shy... I'll be fine if it's you guys.

If you cheer me on, then there's nothing I won't do.

I'll just grit my teeth and go, if that will make you laugh at all.

Even if I've got nothing but flames and roasts, even if everything that pops up now are just shameless boasts.

I don't care at all, I'll still stand here tall because everyone is here.

"Let's go!"

Just fall in love with me, once more! Oh keep your eyes on me, for sure!

Though I might not be the best, I'll push through and give you a great show.

I'll give my best for you, once more! So go and try hard too, for sure!

And then let's all just relax, hanging out together sharing a big bright laugh.

As fan service to you!

I still think it's weird how you send me all these cheers.

All the comments that you write, am I not wasting all your time?

Well, I guess it's fine. If you think that I'm so great.

I'll just work hard now and grind! Your trust in me I won't betray.

Even if all the things that I wanted to do, even if every single plan I made has now fallen through.

I won't give up now, I'll stand up and vow that I will make you smile.

"Let's go!"

Oh raise your sword and fight! Once more! You'll make it through I know, for sure!

Even if things might be rough, I'll come along just to pick you up.

A bright big smile for you, once more! A long way left to go, for sure!

Singing now this selfish song filled with love and hope that you make it through.

As fan service to you!

Ah... But is this fine? The end I sought can't be...come true now.

All the dreams I had then, and all that I gave up. Is it fine? For me now? To finally just smile?

"Don't give me up!"

Oh never ever gonna go around and then give you up.

I'm never ever gonna turn around and then let you down.

That's the rule we made, that's the game we play

So let's go through it all.

Cheer and smile for me, once more! We'll laugh and have some fun, for sure!

So that we won't regret, let's all have a party and make this day last.

We'll sing along next time, once more! We'll sing and we'll be fine, for sure!

A secret to you from me, our time together is L. O. V. E!

Just fall in love with me, once more! Oh keep your eyes on me, for sure!

Though I might not be the best, I'll push through and give you a great show.

I'll give my best for you, once more! So go and try hard too, for sure!

And then let's all just relax, hanging out together sharing a big bright laugh.

As fan service to you!

[collapse]

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