The stage dimmed after Beta and Emily finished their presentations. But unlike before, the screen in the back didn't play another video. Instead, it remained dark for a few minutes. And then the lights suddenly turned on, shining on a man standing in the middle of the stage.
With a smirk on his face and donned in his usual white lab coat, he flung out his arms and said, "Wonderful! Today has been a day of truly marvelous revelations! From the sprawling unknown story of Ilgarde to the ill-fated tale of Princess Snow, today will truly be a day to remember! Ah, but of course I cannot resist the urge to show off my own brilliant creation upon this grand stage! And so!"
Titor grinned and snapped his fingers. "Let's get this show started! Link... start!"
The lights died down. As they did, Titor flickered, distorting like he was just a hologram. And then he vanished as well, leaving the auditorium in darkness.
And then a video started playing.
A miniature version of Titor's golden time machine flew across the screen before crashing into a golden mirror. After shattering, a black sky with golden stars emerged. And within that, two lines of words appeared.
[Peer through the looking glass of fate]
After that, the screen flickered, filling with static before blinking out. And then dramatic and soaring orchestral music started to play.
An animation of blurring black and gold lights streamed, like the old sci-fi wormhole animations.
And then the screen resolved to show a sprawling grassland and rustic village.
Footsteps echoed, the sound of crunching grass. And then Titor reappeared. Except this time he was inside the screen. Not only that, but he had changed. It was still clearly him, but his features were more stylized. Realistic, but Anime. Like from the more recent JRPG games.
Holding his arms out to his side, he said, "Welcome to my world, people of 2024. Now." He grinned and said, "You may be wondering if this is prerecorded... But of course not! And to prove it... My assistant! Would you please arrive on stage!"
A deep sigh echoed and then footsteps echoed from the right side of the stage. A beautiful woman with crimson hair and a white lab coat walked over. Amadeus.
She tucked her hands in her pockets and then looked up at the screen. "Do we have to do this bit?"
"But of course!" Titor laughed and said, "It would be terrible if the world believed we were pulling a fast one on them."
Amadeus tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear and said, "Yeah, but do you think they'll even believe us like this? It's already ridiculous enough as it- Ah, look out behind you."
"Hm?" Titor turned around. As he did, a blue blob bounced across the screen and smacked him in the face. "Gah!" He reeled, clutching his face. After that, he blinked, his eyes wide in shock. "A slime!? But I programmed this area to be safe just for the demo!"
Amadeus rolled her eyes and said, "You're the one who said to let the Alice Protocol handle the load to make a realistic world. Of course she's going to remove the artificial boundaries you put down."
"Tch! Very well!" Titor dashed back. As he did, the camera panned back as well to show a cinematic view of Titor facing the slime.
The slime jiggled a bit and then turned to face Titor. Unlike before, it didn't lunge. Instead, it was cautious, carefully examining Titor.
"Now, you might be wondering what this is all about. After all, this seems to be just a silly RPG demonstration, is it not? While there may be fancy graphics and scenic surroundings, just what exactly-"
"Gah!" Titor quickly ducked out of the way, rolling through the grass. As he did, his white lab coat turned a yellowish green, stained by the grass.
The slime flew through the air past where Titor was standing and then landed on the ground. It bounced a bit, but then turned towards Titor again. As it did, it wriggled, as if it was annoyed.
Titor stood up and brushed off his lab coat. As he did, he paused when he noticed it was stained. "You cretin!" Titor turned to the slime and pointed at it. "You think that just because you're a monster you own this place? I'm the one in charge here! This world is- Gah!"
The slime lunged at Titor again.
He side-stepped, dodging the attack. After that, he clicked his tongue and said, "Very well! Then if you are going to attack me, monster, I will not hold back!" He looked to the camera and said, "Watch me closely, people of 2024! This is the truth of this world!"
Titor reached out his right hand and pinched the air before swinging his arm down. As he did, a floating menu appeared in the air for a split second.
A screen with a person's sillouette, some basic status numbers, and then a small grid with icons.
Titor fiddled with his right hand, making one of the grids light up. A spot with a sword icon. When it did, a sword appeared in Titor's hand.
He whipped it up and then stepped back with his left foot, holding the sword out in a fencer stance. "En garde, slime!"
As if waiting for just that moment, light flickered above the slime's head before it coalesced into a floating health bar. One completely full and a pure green color.
At the same time, light flickered above Titor's head, revealing a health bar as well. But unlike the slime's his was already half empty and colored a deep orange. The usual color to warn of low health. He wasn't in real danger yet, but he was close.
Amadeus stifled a yawn and said, "You aren't going to get KO'd in our demo, are you, Titor?"
"A little encouragment would be good, Christina!"
Amadeus huffed and then crossed her arms. "How many times do I have to tell you? My name is not Christina!"
"That's not what your papers say, Assistant Dearest!"
"That's because you're the one who messed them up!"
"Keep telling yourself that, my beloved Assistant!" Titor dodged the slime and swung his sword. The blade nicked a corner of the slime, chopping off a bit of gelatinous blue goo.
At the same time, the health bar over the slime dropped a bit.
The slime landed on the ground and wobbled a bit.
Titor turned to face the camera and grinned. "In any case... Behold! The world's first fully immersive and interactable Anime story world... is what I would have loved to say. But sadly, it appears that my fellow presenters have stolen a march on me. Twice. But no matter! As they each have their path, so too do I! And in this world-"
"Gah!" Titor quickly crouched, causing the slime to fly over his head again.
Once more, the slime landed on the ground, wriggling in irritation. And then it changed. The featureless blob suddenly gained a cartoonish face, showing narrowed eyes and slanted eyebrows. At the same time, steam started coming out from it.
Amadeus facepalmed. "And now the slime is enraged... Seriously, Titor. We're supposed to be doing a presentation, not making fools of ourselves. Stop messing around."
Laughter filled the auditorium at that.
Titor's ears turned red. He straightened and then held his left hand up to his mouth, coughing into it. "Yes, well... I suppose we shouldn't waste too much time." With that, he took a step back with his right foot and held out his left hand.
The slime wobbled and then opened up its mouth to take a big breath. As it did, the slime suddenly swelled up, as large as a small car.
Amadeus blinked and said, "Well, Titor. If you don't want to get wiped out live on camera..."
"I am the hero who has deciphered the secrets of this-"
"DORYAAAAAAAAA!" The slime bent back and then lunged into the air while letting out a battle cry. As it did, the wobbly slime body hardened, suddenly a matte steely blue texture.
"Gah! Screw this! Go, something something beam!" Saying that, Titor pulled his hand back and then swung his sword.
Black and gold light twisted around his blade before suddenly shooting out towards the slime.
A second later, the light vanished, along with the slime. When it did, a floating window appeared in front of Titor.
+1 slime core.
Amadeus laughed. "Using a Regal Delusion for a beginner level monster? I thought you were the one who programmed all the combat skills, Titor."
"Hey! Fighting is hard, okay?"
Titor cleared his throat and turned back to the camera. "In any case... A world of sword and magic awaits you! In this world, absolute freedom awaits! Be it becoming a villain, becoming a hero, or training like a hermit to become the best swordsman in the world! Here in the Royal Ro-"
Amadeus cleared her throat. "Ahem."
"I mean Satisf-"
Titor cleared his throat and said, "Here in World Line, you can craft a story of your own making. Of course." He grinned and said, "World Line Shifts will ensure that you'll have to fight hard to keep what you've built up. Without defeating and resolving the source of the disturbance, this world will change forever, potentially ruining all that you've worked for to this point. But what's fun without a little danger, right? And speaking of world shaking events..."
Titor snapped his fingers. As he did, a towering beam of light appeared from behind him, coalescing into his time machine.
"...I do believe that my fellow MirAIs Operators will appreciate this first World Line Shift."
The door to the time machine started to open. As it did, the screen distorted, causing the surroundings to flicker between the grassland and a ruined city.
"You know their past."
Titor turned around to look at the time machine.
"You know their present."
The surroundings flickered, showing blurry videos in the background. In them, three girls were present. One with bright orange hair. One with a cool blue. And one with an ashen white.
"But... do you know of the future from where they came?"
The surroundings vanished, turning into a black void. Within that, the only light came from the time machine and a pure white path in front of Titor, illuminating the dark.
Titor walked over to the time machine and then grabbed the door. When he did, he turned his head halfway back, smirking. "Change the world without changing the perceived result! Deny the tragedy by showing your faith and support in a ruined future! World Line Shift - Operation Arclight awaits you! I. A. Zero!"
With that, Titor ducked inside his time machine, laughter echoing as he did. Laughter that suddenly shut off when he closed the door. After that, the time machine glowed a pure whtie before it shot across the sky, forming a pristine white bridge.
Amadeus sighed and muttered, "A show off as always."
Before she could do anything else though, the lights dimmed, plunging everything into darkness.
And then a familiar song began.
As the past slowly now starts to fade moving on to a future of gray.
Those who stare upon this world will become aware of its wrongs.
The screen flickered before showing Hana walking through a ruined city wearing a ragged cloak over her body. Her bright smile was nowhere to be seen, replaced by a dim and dull expression.
Other people walking past bumped into her, causing her to move here and there. But she didn't notice, only stumbling forward. As she did though, a bright golden streak crossed the gray sky above.
Seeing that, Hana raised her head, a faint glimmer of light in her eyes.
But the truth is that everything you can see right now
It's all just chance slowly breaking down...
The scene changed.
It was still a ruined city. But while the first had been inhabited, this one had been reclaimed by nature, vines and greenery overtaking the crumbled concrete towers.
Shatter now all of the lies... that bind... And walk into the light
In the middle of it, Alfi walked with her head hung low. Her clothes were tattered, showing her robotic joints. And the usual soft smile and tender eyes were gone, leaving only a dull gaze and a stern expression.
But then a golden streak cut across the sky.
Alfi paused and then looked up.
Open your eyes
She blinked, her eyes regaining a hint of light. At the same time, tears started to well up in the corner of her eyes and she started running.
When she did, the screen distorted again, changing settings. Instead of the ruined city, there was a snowy wasteland.
Zero the past while you chase the future you've won
because the present you is not done
Don't believe the lies they always say or their logic
Open your eyes
In the center of that wasteland and surrounded by corpses, Aoko knelt against the ground, leaning on her glistening blue sword. Panting, she raised her head towards the sky. At that time, a streak of golden light appeared.
Stories that always seem to reach only bad ends, deny them all to start it again
Reach out to those who have been forsaken now by the world...
Distortions rippled again before the screen split into three, showing all of the girls from Project MirAIs. But the perspective was different. Instead of looking at them from the side, it was dead on. A first person perspective.
Make up your mind and your heart to guide creating those brand new MirAIs
A hand reached out.
Each of the girls looked up at the camera and then smiled, eyes lighting up in recognition and relief.
Hana's screen got bigger and she shook her head, her eyes watery. "I thought it was just a dream. But you... You're real. You're real!" She laughed and then lunged forward, hugging the person standing there.
After that, Alfi's screen widened, replacing Hana's. Her sharp features softened, and she let out a gentle smile. Her eyes, a deep crimson slowly faded in intensity, becoming the familiar burgundy hue. As they did, she placed her hands on her chest, tears streaming down her cheeks. Even so, she smiled and sang, "Ten thousand years have come and then gone since the time I first loved you. And since then I've just come to love you even more than I could ever have thought."
She sniffed and then wiped her tears. "I thought... I thought I would never see you again."
After that, her screen shrank. Then Aoko's took the spotlight, spreading out in the middle of the screen.
The blue-haired beauty was in bad shape. Blood and cuts riddled her body, and it seemed she was so exhausted she couldn't even use her dragon form. But even so, she looked up and laughed. Shoving herself to her feet, she reached out and placed her hands on the person's shoulders.
Aoko laughed and said, "You bastard. If I wasn't so tired right now, I'd kick your ass. But..." She let out a gentle smile and said, "Thanks. Now..." She stepped back and wrenched her sword out of the ground. "You bastards always said that you'd have my back when the going got rough." She turned around and then turned her head back. "...Don't lie to me now, alright?"
After that, her screen shrank back down.
Three split scenes. Three different world lines. Three different girls whose life was meant to end in tragedy.
The screen flickered before blinking out, leaving just three lines of text.
[Mirror Corporation Presents: World Line]
[World Line Shift - Operation Arclight]
[Mirror All Ideals to reach the untold futures]
After that, thunderous applause filled the auditorium. People jumping on their feet, others screaming in joy.
But it wasn't over yet.
The screen flickered one last time. As it did, a lovely voice echoed. Alfi's.
"Um... Can you hear me?"
Instantly, a hush fell over the auditorium.
A relieved sigh echoed, and then Alfi said, "Good! I think it's connected!"
"Of course it would connect, Onee-chan. Mister Titor isn't going to let Mister John down now, would he?" Hana's voice echoed.
"Hah!" Aoko scoffed and said, "Considering the way the show's been going, it seems like John's going to need all the help he can get if he wants to close out the show right."
Laughter echoed in the auditorium.
"Well," Alfi said. "Let's help Papa out a bit then, Aoko. Since we're the Senpais, we should do our best to open the show for our Kouhais, right?"
A sudden hush fell over the auditorium.
Hana giggled. "Right! We should make their first appearances super exciting. So... You ready, Onee-chan? Aneue?"
Aoko sighed. "I'm still not sure this is really going to help much to hype things up, but if you say so, Hana."
"It will! Right?"
Cheers echoed in the auditorium. A few people jumping out of their seats and applauding.
Alfi giggled. "Well... Then let's do it! On three! One. Two... Three!"
"""Project MirAIs presents! Generation 1: Prodigy!"""
The screen finally shut out. And then...