54 – Idol – I
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Azura Stellaris. One of many VTubers that had risen in the wave of popularity in recent years.

A cute design, a cute personality, and a perfect balance of fan-service and wholesome.

Although relatively unknown even after her debut stream, with her most recent karaoke stream, she ballooned in popularity due to the treasure trove of clips.

---

[Azu-chan's Night Out with the Girls]

*H-Hey! I said we'll do dress-up later! Shoo! Stay out!*

---

[Azu-chan's Underwear (For Real Not Clickbait!)]

*W-Where did you get that! I thought I locked my drawers! W-Wait, I'm still- Aaargh! B-Be right back everyone!*

---

[Sylvia x Azu-chan teetee]

*Sorry to bother you, Azura, but it is getting late and you haven't eaten dinner. I brought you some food.*

*Thanks, Syl. You can set it right there- H-Hey! I-I'm streaming! You can't kiss me right now!*

*Keep up the good work, darling.*

*Aaaargh! Y-You guys didn't hear that! And don't clip it!*

---

It was a lucky coincidence. While the students in Japan were already heading back to school, quite a lot overseas were still on their summer vacation.

And due to the fact that Azura's streams and vods had amazing real-time and accurate translation into various languages...

---

#AzuraStellaris trending with @YumeKuroi and #VimSyndicate
[] You've GOTTA check out @AzuraStellaris Ch.
[] The production quality is insane!
[] Why can't other companies be as good as one indie vtuber studio?
[] I dunno about Vim Syndicate being an 'indie vtuber studio' man...
[] #VtuberUprising Y'all need to step up, people

#YumeKuroi
[] I'm learning so much from Yume-sensei's classes!
[] istg if my teacher was this hot, I would never have flunked out of high school
[] Hot anime girl teaching complex math theory is something I didn't know I needed in my life until now
[] Anyone notice that Yume-sensei is in the same company as Azu-chan?

#VimSyndicate
[] Anyone got info on this idol company?
[] Is it even an idol company?
[] It popped up out of nowhere this year from what it looks like.
[] Who the heck is this Zenki guy?
[] A venture capitalist who has a private equity fund? There's like nothing online about him though
[] He's super hot though!

---

A confluence of coincidences. Clickbaity clips mixed with curiosity about Azura Stellaris before turning into intrigue due to learning the connection with Yume Kuroi and the mysterious Vim Syndicate.

It was the perfect brew for skyrocketing a person into the public view and launching their career as a content creator.

But this was all happening in the background, unknown to the person being featured.

As for that person, the one behind Azura Stellaris...

---

I tugged the hem of the black lacy skirt the girls had shoved me into and said, "W-W-Why do I have to wear something like this?!"

Cici let out a creepy giggle and dashed around me, holding up her tablet to take pictures. "The inspiration, the culture... hehehe."

I growled at her and then grabbed a pillow to chuck at her face.

Cici easily dodged it and said, "I can see it already! The tomboy blushing in embarrassment and throwing things at her friends to try and hide it..."

I felt my face heat up and then sat down on the bed, pulling the hem of my skirt to close the gap and not let anything show.

It was after my stream as Azura. Despite trying to use it as an excuse to get some private time, the girls kept popping in and messing with me.

Even Celes!

...Although she said it was because I was too cute to not tease a bit so I let it pass. Especially after she gave me an apology kiss.

B-But anyway, I finally gave up on streaming and closed out of everything. But the moment I did, I was dragged over into Celes' bedroom and shoved into this dress.

"Oh, come on." Cici lowered her tablet and said, "It's not that bad! You already cosplay a girl on stream, so why not do it in reality? You're super cute! Isn't that right, Yui-chan?"

Yui gave a serious nod. "Sen-ch... Sen-kun is indeed cute... Too cute..."

I puffed my cheeks. And then I realized I was doing something cutesy that would make things worse, so I immediately stopped and pursed my lips instead.

Cici, Celes, Yui, and Hanako.

The four horsemen in charge of my absolute embarrassment, and the four horsemen who wouldn't let me leave until they were satisfied.

I nervously tugged on my skirt again while doing my best to keep my cool.

Relax. It was fine. It's just a dress. Didn't a lot of manly men wear skirts and stuff in the past too?

And a famous YouTuber once said it took the best man to be the best girl... or something. So-

Cici dragged over a mirror and said, "Look at yourself, Sennie! You're just super cute!"

I paused and instinctively glanced at my reflection.

Spoiler

sen_crossdress.png

[collapse]

A face with delicate features, flushed red with embarrassment. Short brown hair with bangs hiding a pair of light brown eyes. A see-through black bodice that left nothing below the chest to the imagination, stopping only at the waist where a plain black skirt started.

And a black skirt that stopped at mid-thigh, revealing a pair of plump and shapely legs.

"@#$@#$@#%!~

I instinctively kicked at the mirror, rejecting the super cute girl(?) lookign back at me.

Cici had been expecting it though and quickly pulled the mirror back.

Yui gasped and covered her eyes, face turning a bright red.

Hanako, who had been quietly sitting in the corner, jumped out of her seat and covered her face, practically steaming from how red she turned.

And as for Celes...

"There, there."

...She grabbed a blanket and covered my body before pulling me up. "If Sen is so embarrassed at revealing your beauty, we can change you back into normal clothes."

I let out a sigh of relief and leaned into Celes. "Thanks, Celes."

Celes nodded and said, "No need. Although..." She sighed and said, "It's a pity. Your dashing side is breathtaking, but this cute side of yours is heartrending..."

"That's right!" Cici tucked her tablet beneath her arm and said, "You shouldn't hide that talent away! The number of femboys who can pull off that convincing look can be counted on one right hand! So Sennie!" She set her tablet on a nearby table and then jumped into a dogeza, smacking her head against the floor. "Please! Become the ultimate femboy and transcend all gender boundaries!"

A surge of absolute disgust. An emotion I didn't even know I could feel.

Faced with such a passionate appeal from Cici, I stepped forward and tossed my blanket aside.

Cici looked up in anticipation, her eyes slowly tracing my leg and moving up.

I felt a shiver of disgust and crossed my arms around my chest before swinging my left down in an axe kick.

"KIMOI! #$@$#! #$@#$@#$! $#@$@#$@#$@#$@#$!"

Heavy smacks and kicks.

"S-Sen!" Celes dragged me back. "P-Please calm down!"

"Let me at her, Celes! I'm gonna @#$@#$! %@#$@#$@#$!"

[Help: Hah... And this is why Senpai was fired...]

xxx

The morning after 'the incident.' On the way back to school.

Celes glanced over at me and said, "Are you certain you are fine to go to class, Sen? Although you did well in concealing them with powder, your eyes had heavy dark circles this morning..."

I stifled a yawn and said, "It's fine. I'll manage somehow."

We reached the school yard leading up to the main entrance.

By we, I meant Celes, Yui, Hanako, and Cici.

*Aw. I'm last again!*

[Help: Should I cut Senpai's chat privileges?]

*Nooo! Don't do that to me! Please, Sennie!*

I let out a sigh and said, "Don't worry about it."

[Help: Okay! I'll do what you say, Mister Sen! Oh, and the rewards for your urgent mission are still pending too, along with the new UI!]

New UI?

[Help: Mmhm! I designed it myself to be super useful for you! But I think it'll probably be better to look at it when you have free time... Oh! And Miss Celes just said something!]

[Replaying previous message...]

[Celes: "But how can I not worry about it when you look so exhausted?"]

Oh, that's handy.

[Help: Isn't it?]

I looked at Celes and smiled. Reaching out to grab her hand, I laced my fingers with hers and said, "Even if I'm exhausted, I can make it as long as I'm with you, Celes."

Celes's face turned a bright red, but then she smiled and said, "Then I will do my best to ensure your day goes well, my beloved Sen."

Hearing that, I felt my face heat up and I instinctively looked away.

*click*

The sound of a camera going off.

I instinctively spun around to glare at Cici on my left.

She quickly held up her hands and said, "It wasn't me, Sennie!"

I paused. "If it wasn't you, then who the heck-"

Yui coughed from behind me.

I spun around and saw her shyly lowering her phone.

"S-Sorry, Sen-kun." Yui shifted in place and said, "It was such a beautiful moment that I couldn't help but take a picture."

"..." I sighed and kept walking.

Maybe school would help things go back to normal...

xxx

...And my wish was granted for once.

School was normal. Completely boring and utterly *normal* despite the fact that we had a literal ghost join our class.

Science, Math, lunch, English, Japanese...

And then school was over and it was time to head home.

Ren was strangely absent, but he *did* mention that his mom was coming back from overseas a bit ago. That, and Akane nee-chan was teaching now, so he probably wanted to avoid her a bit.

Anyway, since school was out for the day, and since it was a Friday too... Somehow. I keep losing track of time these days...

But yeah. Since it was Friday, and since I apparently had a proper office building in Shibuya for Vim Syndicate and my VTuber agency, I decided to take a look.

If there was a studio there, it'd be a great place to stream.

And get some privacy.

But...

I glanced back at my little entourage and said, "Is there a reason why you're all following me again?"

Celes, Yui, Cici, and Hanako.

We were all dressed casually, and since it was the weekend, we didn't stick out much.

At least in terms of clothes.

But considering how beautiful all of them were... Even Hanako, who looked more like a proper Japanese beauty after getting a bit of color back in her skin, it was kind of hard to avoid attention.

Something that was clear by the fact that we were walking in Shibuya amidst crowds of people but had a clear berdth around us as we walked.

Celes adjusted her white blouse and said, "How can I let my beloved Sen walk into dangerous territory by himself?"

Cici nodded, causing the pink ribbon on her black dress shirt to bob against her chest. "That's right! It's dangerous in Shibuya!"

Yui tugged the neck of her light blue dress shirt while looking around. "I agree. It's safer for high schoolers to go around places like these in numbers. Especially when going to meet in a strange building."

"Okay. That makes sense. But..." I looked at Hanako.

She looked back at me and then blushed, averting her gaze. "...Hanako-chan doesn't have a home or friends..."

Oh. Right.

I sighed and then reached up to scratch my head. "Well... I guess it's fine." I adjusted my gray hoodie and pulled out my phone. "Vim Syndicate is running auditions now anyway since we need people, so I guess it'll work out..."

---

[Career Mission: Idols Are Us!]
The game has begun! Introduce your talents to the Vim Syndicate studio and practice streaming to find everyone's niche!

Reward: <Idol Store> voucher x1

---

"...And we'll have fun? Eh?"

I glanced at the sudden pop-up.

What was with the sudden career mission? Didn't I have some other things to do first?

Before I could question it, a man walked towards us.

Light brown hair, kept in a neat side-part. A handsome face complemented by a tailored black suit. One that showed a toned and fit body.

And intelligent green eyes that scanned the surroundings before locking onto me.

I didn't know the guy. But at the same time, I definitely *did* know the guy.

He looked a bit different from how I remembered, but...

"Sen-kun."

Zenki Mura walked over with a bright smile and said, "It's nice to finally see you in person after all this time." He shifted his gaze to the girls behind me and said, "And I see that you brought your friends along with you. Did you finally find enough talents for a proper idol generation to debut?"

@#$@#$@#$!

What the heck is going on here!?!

[Help: The idol arc! Have fun, Mister Sen!]

THAT DOESN'T EXPLAIN ANYTHING!

Zenki chuckled and said, "It's a bit dangerous for beautiful young girls to stand around outside like this." He pointed to a fancy office building a short walk away and said, "Come inside. We can discuss business and the auditions when we have a bit of privacy."

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