218 – Hana and Aoko – Connection
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Titor spun his drum sticks around and then laughed. He turned towards Aoko and said, "Was that truly so bad, oh Blue Dragon?" He adjusted his fedora and then looked at the crowd. "Fellow MirAIs operators, what do you think?"

Cheers erupted, followed by a wave as everyone wildly waved their glowsticks. At the same time, the usual tide of flowers and hearts came. But three people in the crowd stood out. Literally, standing on top of each other.

A gold whale on the bottom, a standing fox in the middle, and then a trash can on top of that. The three of them waved glowsticks in one paw/fin/handle while tossing out bundles of blue flowers with the other.

Aoko put her mic back on the stand and then pointed at the three. "Oi! Stop that!"

The three paused, shifting to look at each other. And then they switched out their glowsticks for orange flowers and started throwing those along with the blue ones.

"Argh!" Aoko crossed her arms and said, "Just sit back and enjoy the show, okay? I don't want anything else from you." She looked at the crowd and said, "You guys too! Don't you get it? This is a free concert! FREE! Don't throw your money around like this!"

The crowd stopped for a moment, as if considering Aoko's words. But then even more hearts and flowers flew towards the stage.

Aoko facepalmed.

Alfi walked over to Aoko and patted her shoulder. "It's okay, Aoko-chan. Think of it as everyone just being nice and supporting you."

Aoko frowned and muttered, "At this point I'm going to drown under all of this support..."

Hana smiled and walked up to the mic stand. After adjusting it a bit so the mic was her height, she smiled and said, "That was fun, everyone! Thanks for singing along with Aneue!"

The crowd roared, waving glowsticks around.

Hana laughed and stuck a thumbs up.

John watched everything with a soft smile and then looked to the chat floating next to him. But when he saw it, he groaned. "Dammit, Titor."

Titor looked over. "And what might be the problem, my other half?"

"UTube's chat broke again." John sighed and said, "This is all your fault."

Titor leaned back and placed his hand on his chest. "My fault? I think that you are placing the blame too strongly on-"

"Take a look at the chat."

Titor frowned and then swiped his hand, bringing up his own copy of chat.

[weyaltouoi] Gl ovko!
[dodouhonf] y uore yoy suein!
[rhvtewdlg] Ioo'oe mu OQhe!

"...Oh." Titor blinked and placed a hand on his chin. "It appears that I underestimated the enthusiasm of our fellow operators watching from beyond the screen..."

"I told you that we should have made a custom site for the interaction. Now chat's completely broken."

Titor looked over and said, "And that is why I told you that we should have just-"

"Shush!" John cut Titor off and said, "Live feed!"

Titor cleared his throat and then looked at the crowd. "At the least it appears that chat is properly sending their messages. If you are, could you give us a sign?"

A wave of thumbs up emotes popped up in the back.

Titor turned to John and said, "It's fine."

John sighed. Turning to the stands, he shook his head and said, "Sorry about the inconvenience, everyone. We'll take it into account and figure out a better way to interact next time so your messages get through." He paused and looked at the chat. "...Though with over two hundred thousand viewers, that might be tough. Seriously, did Googol break UTube again in the last update?"

Laughter filled the room. At the same time, laughing emojis floated over the people in the back.

John shook his head and turned back to Aoko.

Aoko had moved back to the center of the stage along with Hana and Alfi.

Hana grabbed Aoko's hand and pointed at the laughing crowd. "See, Aneue? You did great! Just like a real idol, you made everyone happy and excited!"

Aoko blushed. But then she huffed and said, "That's because we're supposed to be real idols! A-And besides." She averted her gaze and said, "I don't have a deep backstory or special selling point like you two. But I've got grit, so I can at least work on being a proper idol."

Alfi smiled and said, "And that's what makes Aoko-chan so cute."

Aoko turned red, and her dragon tail started wagging along the stage.

Titor laughed and turned to John. "It seems that your beloved daughter learned a great deal from you, oh Golden Emperor."

John facepalmed. "This is going to be a problem now, huh?"

"Hm?" Alfi looked to her father and said, "Is something wrong, Papa? What's a problem?"

John waved his hand. "Don't worry about it. Anyway..." He looked at the chat and said, "Since chat is broken, why don't we just move right along with the next songs? There's a few duets and then a finale left, right? Or did you girls want to cut it short? We've been going on for a while now."

Titor adjusted his fedora and said, "That is because a certain someone has been stalling between songs by adding needless commentary."

"Says the cosplaying mad scientist who spills out long and rambling monologues about the state of the world while trying to act mysterious."

Titor shrugged. "That's how mad scientists work."

"...Anyway." John looked back at the girls and said, "What do you all think?"

Hana hummed and looked at the others. "Well... If Mister John and Mister Titor don't mind... Can Aneue and I sing our song together?"

Aoko's eyes widened. She pointed at herself and said, "Me?!"

"Yep!" Hana nodded and said, "Aneue ran away before we could sing together in karaoke, didn't you?" She pulled Aoko forward and said, "So come on! Let's sing together!"

"T-That's...!" Aoko started to panic and said, "B-But I just sang!"

"So sing some more!" Hana looked out at the crowd and said, "You all want to hear Aneue's voice again, right?"

Cheers filled the air, along with more blue flowers as Aoko's three biggest fans kept tossing them out.

"Argh...! Fine! I'll sing again."

Hana laughed and then turned to Alfi. "You can take a break, Onee-chan! You did a great job playing the guitar, but this song should be enough with just Mister John and Mister Titor."

Alfi smiled back and said, "Okay! Then... don't mind if I do." She reached out behind her, grabbing something in the air. When she did, silver lights gathered before materializing into a chair. She pulled it over and sat down before placing her guitar next to the chair. After that, she rested her hands on her lap and turned to watch Hana and Aoko.

Aoko glanced at Alfi and then looked at the chair that materialized out of nowhere. "All this tech is still so surreal."

Titor laughed and held out his hands. "Yes! Praise me more! Revel in my brilliance!"

John rolled his eyes and played a few chords on the synthesizer, testing out the audio balance. "Just get ready, you crazy guy. After those two finish, we're up next."

"Huh?" Titor blinked and said, "We? You and me?"

"Can't let the girls tire themselves out too much. Anyway." He looked at Hana and Aoko. "You two ready?"

Hana grabbed the mic from the stand and then nodded. "Yep!"

"Um..." Aoko looked around and said, "How am I supposed to-"

Titor snapped his fingers, causing a blue flash of light in front of Aoko. When that light faded, an icy blue mic stand appeared, holding a mic with a coiled blue dragon motif.

Aoko blinked again and then sighed. "Don't question it, Aoko... Just accept it." Muttering that, she grabbed the mic from the stand.

Hana laughed. But then she put on a serious face and looked at Aoko. "Are you ready, Aneue? If you're really worried, I can sing with Onee-chan instead."

Aoko shook her head. "No. It's fine. Besides... After my little sister cheered me on so much, I have to do something with her to make up for it, right?"

Hana's eyes glimmered, but then she let out a bright smile. "Thank you, Aneue."

Aoko smiled back.

Hana nodded and said, "Then... just like we practiced!"

"Got it." Aoko looked at Titor. "Oi, mad scientist guy! Don't forget the VFX!"

Titor laughed. "But of course! Now." He snapped his fingers. "We begin!"

The lights vanished, flooding the stage in darkness. But then headlights turned on, highlighting Hana and Aoko standing together, with Hana on the left and Aoko on the right.

The two looked at each other one more time and then faced the crowd.

And then the song began, Hana and Aoko singing together as one.

[Play Connect - ClariS]

"We won't let our fears or sorrows ruin tomorrow. Our time right now is bright as can be. Though we were lost, forgotten, right now we're here so let's move along!"

Hana and Aoko swept out their arms, gesturing to the stage, holding out the last note.

After that, John stood up, pulling a violin from out of nowhere, flourishing it with a rapid solo.

Aoko noticed and rolled her eyes.

Hana laughed and then looked back at the crowd. Shifting her mic to her right hand, she sang, "The future that had once seemed just so gray and cold. Now it's filled with colors and the song of a story untold."

Aoko looked back at the crowd too and then brought her mic up again, holding it with her left hand. "Ah, we don't fear a thing now that we're standing here."

Hana smiled and grabbed Aoko's hand, lacing it with hers. "Hand in hand we'll walk on forward to our dream that's drawing near."

Aoko's ears turned red, but she smiled along with Hana.

At that time, a clock emerged behind the girls, the hands spinning backwards.

But the two didn't notice and continued to sing. "As the clock resounds, as the hands go back."

The clock sped up, causing the surroundings to distort.

"As our fated end comes and then fades to black."

The stage split in half, one side showing a ruined city covered in gray while the other showed a snowy mountain stained with blood and covered in broken swords.

"No more fear or doubt can exist in our hearts. Because all your cheers and prayers now light the way!"

Aoko and Hana held out their hands to the crowd, smiling.

The crowd cheered. And when they did, golden light flew out, causing the distorted stage to turn back to normal.

"We won't let our fears or sorrows ruin tomorrow. Our time right now is bright as can be. Though we were lost, forgotten, right now we're here so let's move along!"

*UWOOOOO!* The crowd roared, sending more hearts and lights towards the stage.

Hana's shoulders trembled, holding back a laugh behind a bright smile.

Aoko grinned, face flushed with excitement.

The two looked at each other and nodded before turning back to the crowd and singing, "We were drawn by chance, this moment, for you who saved us. Dreams and wishes make up all our wings today, we'll fly into that blue sky til we connect!"

The girls looked up and raised their hands, holding out the last word.

Golden lights formed around Hana and Aoko before turning into wings wrapping around them both. And when that happened, the stage turned into a boundless golden sky.

But then it suddenly shifted, turning gray.

When that happened, Aoko stepped forward. As she did, she turned into her dragon form, horns and tail on full display. Holding her hand out, she sang, "When I look back upon that road I was alone. There was no one standing with me but the sins I couldn't hold."

The sky shifted, turning into a frozen tundra littered with broken swords.

"A world twisted by revenge and heartless thoughts. You were the one who saved me and showed me the life that I forgot."

Aoko stepped forward. When she did, the stage turned back to normal, revealing a bundle of blue flowers piled in front of her. She smiled and picked up an armful, causing them to scatter into blue petals and fill the stage.

Hana stepped forward as well, standing beside Aoko. After that, she sang, "Oh the distant sky and the warm blue seas."

Aoko turned towards her and sang, "It's a vast bright world that's now within our reach."

Hana looked at Aoko and then pulled her in for a hug.

Arms around each other's shoulders, the two looked the the front and sang, "We were far apart, but now close as can be. So now with this song we'll sing of you and me!"

Hana pulled her arm back and then cheered. "Let's go!"

Aoko and Hana held out their hands, singing, "This is now our vow! A promise to carry onwards! We won't back down or ever give up! So take our hands, we'll fly on into the distance to skies above!"

The dark stage lit up and changed, turning into a sandy beach with a clear blue sky and glittering sea.

"Even if we fall, or struggle as we all head there. We won't panic because we all know you're here. With your love now as our wings, we will connect!"

A break in the song with a brief interlude.

Hana laughed and waved at the crowd. "Thanks everyone! You're doing great!"

Aoko nodded and said, "Yeah! Keep up the energy!"

*UWOOOO!* The crowd roared and waved their glowsticks.

John laughed and looked at the girls in the middle of doing a violin solo. "You girls really know how to keep us busy, huh?"

Titor chuckled while going crazy on the drums, pulling out all the stops. Flourishing his drum sticks, he grinned and said, "No worries! This level is nothing to my unrivalled skills!"

"You only say that because you automated everything else."

"And it was my genius that allowed it, was it not?"

John sighed.

Hana laughed. But as the instrumental break reached the end, she stepped forward and sang, "In a broken world of gray you're the one who brought me colors."

Spots of light flickered around Hana, shimmering like fairies. She smiled and held out her hand, watching them gather around.

But then the stage dimmed, the spotlight focusing on Aoko. Ominous crimson chains wreathed her body, and she had turned back into her dragon form. But she raised her mic and sang, "Trapped in violence and revenge all your words they set me free!"

A wave of blue flower petals blew past, brushing against the chains. When they did, the chains shattered, falling to the ground in pieces. At the same time, Aoko turned back to her human form.

Hana held out her hand to Aoko, smiling.

Aoko smiled back and grabbed her hand.

Together, the two looked forward and sang, "We won't let our fears or sorrows ruin tomorrow. Our time right now is bright as can be. Though we were lost, forgotten, right now we're here so let's move along!"

A wind blew through the stage, sending the flowers scattering into petals, filling the air. At the same time, the stage turned into a pure blue sky.

Golden lights gathered around Hana and Aoko, turning into wings.

With that, the two smiled and sang, "Even if we fall, or struggle as we all head there. We won't panic because we all know you're here. With your love now as our wings, we will connect. Tomorrow and then more..."

Hana and Aoko stopped singing, leaving Titor and John to do instrumental solos.

While the two guys kept performing, Hana waved and said, "Thank you everyone!"

Aoko smiled and said, "You've been great! Hope you're having fun!"

*UWOOOOOOOOO!*

The usual lyrics for the song:

Spoiler

We won't let our fears or sorrows ruin tomorrow. Our time right now is bright as can be.
Though we were lost, forgotten, right now we're here so let's move along!

The future that had once seemed just so gray and cold.
Now it's filled with colors and the song of a story untold.

Ah, we don't fear a thing now that we're standing here.
Hand in hand we'll walk on forward to our dream that's drawing near.

As the clock resounds, as the hands go back.
As our fated end comes and then fades to black.

No more fear or doubt can exist in our hearts. Because all your cheers and prayers now light the way!

We won't let our fears or sorrows ruin tomorrow. Our time right now is bright as can be.
Though we were lost, forgotten, right now we're here so let's move along!

We were drawn by chance, this moment, for you who saved us.
Dreams and wishes make up all our wings today, we'll fly into that blue sky til we connect!

When I look back upon that road I was alone.
There was no one standing with me but the sins I couldn't hold.

A world twisted by revenge and heartless thoughts.
You were the one who saved me and showed me the life that I forgot.

Oh the distant sky and the warm blue seas.
It's a vast bright world that's now within our reach.

We were far apart, but now close as can be.
So now with this song we'll sing of you and me!

This is now our vow! A promise to carry onwards! We won't back down or ever give up!
So take our hands, we'll fly on into the distance to skies above!

Even if we fall, or struggle as we all head there. We won't panic because we all know you're here.
With your love now as our wings, we will connect!

In a broken world of gray you're the one who brought me colors.

Trapped in violence and revenge all your words they set me free!

We won't let our fears or sorrows ruin tomorrow. Our time right now is bright as can be.
Though we were lost, forgotten, right now we're here so let's move along!

Even if we fall, or struggle as we all head there. We won't panic because we all know you're here.
With your love now as our wings, we will connect.

Tomorrow and then more...

[collapse]

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