Darkness was a relief. Payton’s brain could rest for a moment as she floated through nothingness. Everything felt strange, the world was spinning like a dryer and it meant that she was going in all directions at once yet none of them felt like forwards.
She heard faint echoing words, statements with no source and no context. They passed through one of her ears and then out the other side, not even fully registering in her brain as she continued to drift.
It was almost like nothing was real, but Payton didn’t really understand what was real anymore. Purin wasn’t real, but she was slowly becoming real, in fact, in this world, Payton felt like the fictional one. A creature just floating around, unconnected to everything and totally unseen.
Her ears started to ring as the world slowly came back into focus. Payton groaned, it felt like her body had been hit by a truck. Through the window, she could see Nana standing in front of Purin. Her lips were moving, but the ringing was drowning out the sound.
Payton could only presume that Nana was waking Purin, which meant she had somehow been reset to the very start of the game all over again. It made sense, her last attempt to fix things had seemingly messed up a lot of systems and frankly, if one of her gams bugged out like this she would have reset it.
Payton tried to move her head, however, nothing seemed to respond to her. Her stomach dropped as she realized she was trapped again. “No, no,” she silently whined. Her confidence shattered, she was so sure she had worked it out this time, but it turned out she had only made everything worse for herself.
The menu floated next to her, taunting her by being just out of reach. However, the menu was totally different, the options had been massively reduced, leaving only “Scene Select” and “Other”.
The heading at the top of the menu declared that the game was in “Demo Mode,” which only served to confuse Payton more. Why would a visual novel need a demo mode, was this how the dev was planning to record footage for a trailer?
Payton’s vision started to move as she entered the classroom. She knew this off by heart right now, which was useful as the loud ringing would not stop and it made it impossible to hear any of the dialogue.
As Micchi rose to introduce each girl Payton looked around, curious to see if anything had changed since the last time. However, nothing was different, despite all her meddling the scene was playing out like normal.
However, as Nana rose from her seat, Payton saw the text at the top of the menu change. “Imprint in progress,” it said as the ringing changed in pitch, almost like a radio trying to tune into a station.
The second Micchi started to introduce Kirika, the imprint warning vanished and the ringing stopped adjusting, sticking to the one single never-ending note.
When Purin stood up, the nose started to change again, slowly sounding more and more like a voice. The message also reappeared at the top of the menu, warning of another imprint.
Just as Purin finished speaking, the ringing faded, finally allowing Payton to hear the world around her. “Brainwave Synchronization Complete!” Declared the menu with a cheery ping as a shudder ran down Payton’s spine.
Before Payton could react to anything the world went dark and started to shift around her. As the world loaded back in the girls started to talk before Payton had the chance to clear the cobwebs out of her brain.
A few sentences in, Payton realized she was in the club picking scene. It made sense, it was a good way to quickly give a potential player an overview of all of the girls and their catchphrases, perfect fodder for a trailer.
As Payton watched it play out, she spotted that once again, the imprint warning appeared when Purin and Nana were speaking. On top of this, their voices sounded different, almost as if they had a reverb effect applied to them. It made them sound almost angelic.
Payton shook her head. That wasn’t a thought she wanted to continue, pulling at strings was a bad idea, especially when she wasn’t sure which thoughts were hers and which were implanted by the game.
After the girls finished speaking the world twisted and changed again as Payton found herself watching brief conversations with each girl, each seemingly taken from a different part of the game.
Purin and Nana had by far the most time and their voices sounded even better than before. A weird sense of awe filled Payton’s brain as the words echoed through her mind. She knew something was going on, but the echoes made it very hard to think.
In fact, Payton spent so long fighting the echoes, that she totally missed several conversation fragments. By the time she refocused her mind, she was alone with Purin in a seemingly empty room.
“I’m Hase Purin!” Smiled Purin as she waved a whisk around. “I’m the top cook! I just love to bake!”
“I know,” thought Payton to herself, trying to block out the echo in her head.
“I love Nanapon♥! She is my secret crush, but I could never let her know that I’m obsessed with her!” Giggled Purin, cutting off Payton’s thoughts. “But it’s okay, I’m going to be her cheerleader and make sure she becomes the most famous idol in the world!”
“Famous idol,” echoed Payton’s mind. Payton shook her head and tried to block out the weird echoing words. This didn’t seem to be part of the game, but at the same time it was a weird thing to have in a trailer, it would make more sense to have Purin’s crush on Nana be a twist in her plotline rather than something stated to the audience outright.
“Demo complete!” Chimed the menu as Purin stopped mid-movement, her arms rising up to form a perfect T shape as she stared into the distance.
Payton started at the menu and tried to work out what the code was saying. However, the code was relatively clear, it wasn’t spitting out errors as it had been previously. In fact, its only major notification was one about loading a “Skills environment”.
“I’m Hase Purin!” Smiled Purin as she once again started to animate. “I’m the top cook! I just love to bake!”
Payton gritted her teeth and tried to gain control of her body. She focused as hard as she could, trying to feel or move any tiny part of her body in the hope that she could break the game again.
“I love Nanapon♥! She is my secret crush, but I could never let her know that I’m obsessed with her!” Giggled Purin as Payton gritted her teeth and focused harder. “But it’s okay, I’m going to be her cheerleader and make sure she becomes the most famous idol in the world!”
Payton continued to struggle, doing her best to control a leg or a finger or anything. She knew she needed to do something but she had no idea what that was.
Suddenly Payton felt her body jerk, almost as if one of her muscles had spasmed. Determination filled her as she continued to focus, keen to make it happen again. After a few seconds, another spasm ran through her body and Payton felt herself falling sideways.
As Payton hit the floor she spotted that she had fallen through the menu, activating several of the options on the way down. One of the options had caused several smaller windows to open around the main menu. Each of these new windows was full of official-looking text.
As Payton looked towards the menu she spotted that she had also hit the loading message as she fell. The messaged flashed for a few seconds before suddenly changing to “Imprinting Demo Starting,” as the world went dark.
As the world changed around her, Payton saw the documents flicker next to her. They all had an official-looking letterhead as well as being stamped as classified or top secret.
Payton did her best to read them as quickly as she could, knowing full well they could vanish at any moment.
“The Veix system is a way of aiding learning and quick skill growth via brainwave stimulation and immersive VR. Via stimulation of the brain, the subject can feel as if they are in the virtual environment. This immersion allows the skill to be practiced safely and naturalistically, with the integrated brainwaves allowing the subject to think through the task like an expert on the topic, causing highly accelerated learning.” Read the document as Payton grew dizzy. “The immersive VR allows the subject to actually perform the task as if it was real, without the risks usually associated with the task itself.”
Payton blinked her heavy eyes. It made sense, but why was it trying to make her be Purin? Being Purin wasn’t a skill, Purin was a girl. And even though both Purin and Nana had talents, they were never really shown, watching Purin fangirl was not going to make someone into a talented chef.
Payton tried to refocus on the words, she was confused and had questions, but she knew she needed to read as much of this as possible in the time she had, as she was unsure if she would be able to get these documents to appear again. She steeled herself and tried to resist the world changing, doing all she could to get a few more minutes with the information.
“The system has four modes and when used in tandem these allow every aspect of the skill to be learned. First, the subject experiences the activity from a neutral third position, watching an expert (modeled upon the donor brainwaves) perform the tasks at hand. The second mode places the user in the body of someone else involved in the task, allowing them to view the expert up close as well as letting them receive one on one mentoring. Interaction with the expert will allow the subject to pick up small details about the expert’s approach. The third mode is a ride-along mode, the subject is placed in the expert’s body and gets to watch the task performed in the first person, allowing the task to be implanted into muscle memory even if the subject is totally unfamiliar. The last mode allows the subject to embody the mentor, using the synchronized brainwaves to recreate the task as they saw it in the previous modes.”
“I,” groaned Payton as she felt the world trying to load in. The system made sense, but at the same time, it made her feel more lost. Why was this here, why was this well thought out system in this terrible game. What was the point in trying to make her Purin?
Payton felt the world come into focus as the text faded away. She tried to move her body, only to realize she was still stuck in a body she couldn’t control.
She was in a large hall that was covered in decorations. In front of her stood Nana, dressed in a formal dress. Payton’s heart started to flutter as bliss ran through her body, she couldn’t believe it, she looked beautiful.
No matter how hard she tried to shake the thought, it instantly reentered her mind, Nana looked amazing. Nana looked beautiful. Nana looked sexy. Payton couldn’t deny it, it was the truth, even if it wasn’t her truth.
“I’m so happy you could see me perform tonight,” smiled Nana as she took Purin’s hands. “I think the punch is a little strong,” she giggled as she started to sway a little bit.
“Well, I didn’t make that!” Giggled Purin as Payton silently rolled her eyes. She didn’t like saccharine stuff like this at the best of times, but especially not when it involved two characters she utterly disliked.
“Maybe we should go somewhere more private,” giggled Nana as she winked at Payton. Payton felt her cheeks flush red, she couldn’t tell if she was really blushing or if it was just Purin, but something was getting her hot under the collar.
“I would love that,” smiled Purin as she leaned in and kissed Nana softly on the cheek. Nana’s cheeks were so soft and felt so good on Payton’s lips.
“Nana would be a good kisser,” thought Payton before she kicked herself. She couldn’t be thinking of Nana like that, Nana was annoying and she had to remember that.
Nana gripped Purin’s arm firmly. “Let’s go somewhere more private,” she winked as she pulled Purin towards the exit of the hall, drunkenly bouncing off the walls as she did.
As Purin followed Nana she grew more and more aroused. Payton couldn’t deny it, Purin’s thoughts were rubbing off on her a little bit, drunk Nana was adorable.
However, as they continued to stumble towards some unknown private place. Payton realized how badly textured this area was. It was as if someone had merely found a picture of a wall on the internet and stretched it across all the walls. While the rest of the game was amateurish, nothing so far had looked this bad.
Suddenly Nana took a sharp left and entered her bedroom. Payton blinked, since when had the dorms been here? Previously the dorms had been in their own little space detached from the rest of the school.
Not only was the location weird, but the whole room was different. Rather than the simple dorm Nana and Payton had shared previously, this room featured a single double bed, with lots of posters covering the walls. However, the posters were all just pictures of Nana’s face. In fact, this room looked like an alpha build, a quickly knocked together space to test something.
Nana pulled Payton onto the bed and kissed her on the cheek. “We should do it, together.” She purred as Payton felt heat run through her body. This felt wrong, so very wrong.
The two monologues in Payton’s head clashed. Purin was over the moon, she was finally going to consummate her love with Nana. She was going to be her secret girlfriend, at least until her greatest hits came out. She wasn’t a wota she was a lover!
However, the Payton side was disgusted at her joy and the sensations running through her body. They felt so alien, she would never be attracted to someone like Nana, no matter how much the thoughts tried to convince her otherwise.
Alas, while the Payton thoughts were stronger, the body belonged to Purin. And thus, Payton could only sit quietly and watch as her hands started to roam Nana’s body.
“You’re amazing,” slurred Nana as she pulled Purin closer and kissed her again. As Purin squeezed Nana’s breasts, Payton spotted that Purin’s fingers were clipping through Nana’s body, making this act of love look as creepy as it felt.
“You’re amazing,” moaned Purin as the heat grew inside her. Purin’s thoughts were racing, years of dreams and fantasies were coming true and she couldn’t be happier. She had been practicing kissing her pillow and it was finally paying off, she was going to make Nana so happy.
The memory made Payton cringe. She couldn’t believe she nearly became this girl. But she couldn’t deny the heat in her veins. She had been trapped in the game for what felt like months and she hadn’t been able to indulge her needs, it made sense that her body would be desperate for touch and pleasure, or at least that was how she was excusing her actions.
Purin’s lips clipped through Nana’s as they kissed stiffly. While this was meant to be passionate, it looked like two action figures being bashed together.
“Rub on me,” moaned Nana as she moved her hips against Purin’s crotch. Payton felt electricity run through Purin’s body. Little shocks of pleasure that radiated out from between her legs and filled every fiber of her being.
Purin started to rock and circle her hips, grinding her crotch against Nana’s groin. The pleasure was hot and intense, more intense than anything Payton had felt previously.
As the girls increased the pace of their grinding, Payton’s brain started to moan. It felt so good, it was like heaven, this was the best sex she had ever had but it involved someone she couldn’t stand.
Payton tried to ignore the pleasure and the sensations as they ran through her body. She tried to distract herself, hoping to focus her brain on anything other than the actions of this duplicitous body.
As she looked around for a distraction, she spotted the blurry faced figure in the corner of the room. A wave of disgust washed over her, not only was she grinding against Nana, she was being watched while she did it.
Suddenly the pleasure grew even more intense as Nana and Purin increased the speed of their grinding. Each wave of pleasure seemed to drown out Payton’s thoughts until she couldn’t even get to the end of a single sentence.
She could feel herself panting, her breathing becoming short and ragged as she felt herself getting closer and closer to an orgasm that she didn’t want. She couldn’t understand it, this was more arousing and more pleasurable than any sex she had been involved in before, but yet it was just two girls rubbing on each other while fully clothed.
“Oh god no,” mumbled Payton as she realized something. The weird badly made alpha-state room, the terrible dialogue and the utter failure to grasp how sex worked. This was the developer’s personal fantasy. Something they made so they could get off to their own creations.
Payton cringed and tried to hold back the pleasure that pushed through her body, trying to separate herself from Purin. “This is sick!” Shouted Payton to herself, “this is depraved, this is gross! No no no!” She continued as Purin and Nana mashed their groins together in an act that more closely resembled a horrible accident rather than any form of sex.
“You are so wonderful,” smiled Purin as she continued to grind.
“You’re a beautiful wifey,” groaned Nana before letting out a little moan, her eyes fluttering as she did.
“No, stop!” Shouted Payton to herself, desperate to stop this humiliation. Why would anyone do this, why would anyone find this arousing?
Suddenly Purin let out a moan as a wave of pleasure ran through her body. Payton tried to hold it back, but she couldn’t fight it, the pleasure was too much for her body and it quickly took over her.
Payton and Purin screamed out in unison as the pleasure washed over them, Payton felt a wave of disgust crash over her as Purin’s body squirmed and twitched.
“I love you, Nana,” purred Purin, her voice cracking due to the pleasure.
“I love you too,” replied Nana as she reached up and kissed Purin on the lips. Nana’s lips felt amazing, they made Payton feel euphoric, almost like she had been drugged.
“No!” Screamed Payton, doing all she could to stop this humiliating scene. However, a second orgasm hit Payton out of nowhere, totally overwhelming her brain and body. The world started to sway and blur as the pleasure caused her brain to tingle and spark.
Payton felt her body and Purin’s body shudder and twitch, the orgasm becoming so intense that it felt more like a seizure or an electric shock than anything pleasurable.
As the darkness started to intrude in her vision, Payton didn’t fight, she was happy to end this, she didn’t care if she ended up in the void again, the void was better than being watched as she rubbed herself against Nana.
As the room melted into the void Payton breathed a soft sigh of relief, while the dirt on her soul would never fade, at least it was over for now. As the colored patterns flickered into being Payton braced herself.
“Hase Purin,” whispered a voice into her brain.
“I don’t think I can be after that,” replied Payton, trying to focus on sarcasm so she could block out the colors. “That was the worst time I’ve ever had in bed.”
“Hase Purin loves baking, Hase Purin loves baking,” echoed the voice as the colors strobed intensely. Payton grabbed her head and tried to look away from the colors, trying to focus her brain on anything other than the patterns.
“No, no!” She shouted as she pulled on her hair. “I won’t fall for this, the dev sucks! This dev is terrible!” She continued to scream only for her eyes to suddenly go wide. “This dev sucks!”
The jagged sharp triangles of neon orange, green and pink moved closer to Payton as they twisted and spun. Payton’s eyes stung as the colors pushed into her mind. She wanted to pull away, but she couldn’t do anything, despite her brain wanting to fight, her body just refused to help.
As the colors flashed Payton’s brain continued to link things up. “This makes no sense,” groaned Payton. “This dev sucks, they couldn’t create something this good, this is why this game is broken!” She screamed as another wave of color made her shudder.
“Hase Purin loves baking and being pretty,” shouted the voice, almost like it was trying to drown out Payton’s internal monologue.
“The dev didn’t make this system, they’ve just built a dumb game over someone else’s system. They’re working with an engine they don’t get!” She screamed as a wave of pain washed through her body, making her tremble.
“Hase Purin is such a girly girl,” cooed the voice. Payton wanted to argue, but whenever she tried to think the voice interrupted her and talked over her thoughts, making it feel like she was thinking the words despite the fact she knew they were not coming from inside her brain.
“I,” groaned Payton as her mind slowly gave up under the assault of the words, the voice hijacking her mental processes as it continued to coo into her ear.
“Hase Purin loves to be girly, Hase Purin loves to cook and bake. Hase Purin is so feminine.” Continued the voice as Payton’s voice echoed the statement, her body growing weaker and weaker as her knees gave out and she tumbled to the floor.
Payton groaned. She swore that this was getting worse, each visit to the void seemed to leave her more exhausted and pained than the last. As she stood up and brushed herself off, she realized she was in a different environment.
She was stood on a grand rooftop overlooking a city. Payton could only presume this was the roof of the school. She looked around some more, realizing that the blurry faced figure had to be around for this to even be happening.
However, Payton couldn’t spot them, instead, she spotted Nana. She was leaning on the railing and looking out over the city with a wistful look in her eyes.
“Weird,” mumbled Payton as she walked around the rooftop a little bit. She quickly realized that the door to the stairs was open a crack, likely suggesting that she was going to get listened in on at some point during this conversation.
As she walked towards the railing Payton opened up her menus. To her surprise, the menus had returned to their original options suggesting that this was a finished section of the game.
She tapped through the options to check what was going on. Apparently, the rooftop was the only area loaded in and only she and Nana were present. “Interesting,” mumbled Payton as she continued to tap at the buttons, hoping to open the documents again.
After finding her way through the overly cluttered and broken “Other” menu, the documents started to spring open around Payton, quickly surrounding her in a forest of text.
The stuff she had seen before made sense, the game was trying to make her into Purin but she was meant to be in the player’s role. Because the aim was to learn about Purin by watching her.
Suddenly, Payton spotted a document that seemed to mention side effects and issues and her eyes quickly started to scan it, keen to find something she could exploit. “The Veix system has had several issues during testing. Aside from the obvious issues with subjects finding the concept inherently unethical, the system also has issues with major mental rewrites. The subject needs some grounding in the subject for the imprint to be accepted. For example, trying to teach a chef how to pilot a jet fighter will lead to headaches, pain, and rejection.”
“Makes sense,” mumbled Payton. If there was one thing she wasn’t skilled in, it was being Purin, in fact, she couldn’t understand how someone could exist as Purin and not go mad.
“Resistant subjects,” continued the documents. “Will likely cause imprint errors due to their brainwaves being hard to synchronize. The synchronizing process currently has a failsafe where if the electrodes reach a certain level, the brainwave system will shut down, to prevent pain and to avoid traumatizing the subject. Even if this shutdown occurs, the VR experience will run to completion as if it was any other VR videogame as this avoids demoralizing the subjects and allows us to collect further data from their actions. The team wishes to note in the strongest terms that they do not consider the inability to unwillingly imprint skills a flaw in the system and thus are not attempting to remedy this. The tool is to aid in education and nothing more.”
Payton nodded to herself, she was certainly resistant, but why hadn’t the system shut down yet? Could the electric shock have broken the whole system so its failsafe had failed?
“Pretty isn’t it?” Said Nana as she looked out at the city.
Payton sighed and looked at the obvious jpeg. It was a nice picture, she could only presume it was of a real city as it seemed way too detailed to be this developer’s work.
“Thank you for standing with me all this time,” continued Nana as Payton returned to her menus, a faint voice in her head swooning over Nana’s praise.
As Payton looked through the documents, she was taken aback by just how much was here. There were at least a few hundred reports as well as a load of patent applications and patch notes. There were pages of pure math, almost as if whoever had done this was trying to work out if what they were trying to do was even possible, let alone how to go about coding it.
“I’m thinking about dating Name, and well, do you think they’ll like me?” Asked Nana as she rhythmically tapped on the metal railing that circled the rooftop.
“Good luck,” muttered Payton as she continued to look at the documents. On a whim she quickly made her way to the last document, presuming that the patch notes for the last version would help her find an error she could exploit.
However, the last page wasn’t more patch notes. It was an order to end the project and seal the documents. A handwritten comment at the bottom of the page made Payton feel uneasy.
“While we did all we could, the Veix system is too unstable and too dangerous to use and we worry about future applications going forward. Due to recent actions, disbanding the project was in the best interests of everyone.”
This document was signed by several people, however, one name stood out to Payton. Sabrina Floyd, despite sitting in the middle of the list, hadn’t signed the document. In fact, the printed space for her name had been crossed out in faint biro before the document had been scanned.
“Would you like to come to my show?” Asked Nana again as Payton spotted the blurry figure coming out onto the roof. She continued to hit the buttons, her mind was racing, she understood so little of this, but she had information and that was better than stabbing wildly in the dark.
The faceless figure watched Nana look into the empty space where Purin was. It was obvious that this was meant to be a big emotional moment in the game, but Payton couldn’t care less, she was utterly enthralled by the documents. Everything was starting to fall into place.
This game was buggy because it was built on a system that the developer didn’t understand. Something had caused it to break and that break, coupled with Payton’s resistance had caused more and more errors and failures.
“And it would be great to have you,” grinned Nana. “I would love you to be my assistant, there is no one I trust more than you!”
Payton’s brain raced as she pieced more of the puzzle together. The system would continue the VR until the simulation was complete. Whenever she triggered a failure, she got sent backward, likely because the developer was trying to deal with resistance via brute force and repetition as they couldn’t fix or alter the underlying system. Payton nodded and steeled herself, she needed to find a way to end the game and end it quickly.
As she opened more menus Payton formulated a plan. She simply needed to force the game to play the ending and shut off. “I could remove the loader,” mumbled Payton before gasping. “If the castle won’t load, we just send the players around it!” She shouted as she bounced on the spot.
She was going to do what she had planned to do to her game. She just had to remove areas from the loader and only keep the key scenes that the game needed to load the ending.
Payton’s hands started to move furiously as she looked over the code and tried to work out the quickest way to the end. Unfortunately, the actual flow of the game had been coded by the developer, so it was an utter mess, and Nana’s rambling about her concert was very distracting.
However, Payton was able to work out a basic progression of scenes that would trip all of the victory flags in quick succession. She debated going for one of the other girl’s endings as they seemed to have fewer scenes but quickly decided against it.
The Nana ending was likely the best one to go for, as it seemed like the Nana route was finished and not dumbed out like Akiko or Ashely’s routes.
“And then! I’ll come out on a giant cloud made of candy as sparklers go off!” Smiled Nana as she bounced up and down. “We could model it on your cakes as they are always so pretty!” She shouted as Payton continued to work.
After a few minutes, she had her route sorted, all she needed to do was get the game to reset again. Payton pondered what to do, she wasn’t sure exactly how long this scene was going to last and she didn’t want to risk getting trapped on an unfinished route.
Payton looked around, only to spot Nana bouncing on the spot as she continued to gush about her upcoming concert. “You’re going to look so cute doing wotagei!” Cheered Nana as a dark thought started to form in Payton’s brain.
“I couldn’t,” she mumbled only to kick herself. “She isn’t real! She isn’t even aware of how unreal she is! She doesn’t notice anything!” She said as she marched up to Nana.
However, as she wrapped her hands around Nana’s waist she couldn’t help but whimper a bit. Nana looked so cute up-close and her skin felt so soft and wonderful.
“No,” growled Payton. “I can do this even if I love her. I don’t love her, no! Not my thought! I can do this! Bad code gets punished!” She screamed as she lifted Nana and carried her to the railing.
“So I’m going to do a few classics as well, like “Jealousy Jealousy” and “Casually Wandering About Ginza” and of course the Nanapon♥ song! And a reprise of the Nanapon♥ song!” Giggled Nana as she waved her hands wildly, hitting Payton in the face a few times as she emoted to thin air.
As she approached the railing, Payton took a deep breath and tried to block out the whisper in her brain that was determined to declare its love for Nana. “Nothing personal,” sighed Payton as tossed Nana over the railing.
The second Nana left her arms Payton instinctively covered her eyes and turned away from the edge, not wanting to see what she had just done. Despite knowing Nana wasn’t real, she felt guilty. Her brain was screaming that she had killed her love. Payton knew it was lying to her, but at the same time, she couldn’t believe she had actually done it.
“It is just VR, not real,” repeated Payton as she started to cower. “Please crash, please crash,” she begged silently.
“That is a great idea!” Shouted Nana, causing Payton to nearly jump out of her skin. She quickly turned around only to see Nana lay on her back in mid-air. “I’m going to get the cutest maid outfit! I can dance with a broom!”
“Oh,” sighed Payton. “Right, they didn’t model an actual rooftop, just a square of concrete in a box made out of photographs, why implement a fall that isn’t meant to happen. I’m an idiot.”
“And then I’m going to do a two-step! To really show off my ruffles!” Giggled Nana as she kicked her feet into the air as if she was dancing. As Payton watched with relief Nana kicked faster and faster. “Dance with me!” She shouted as she thrust her arms out and rolled towards the railing, only for her voice to suddenly distort.
“Finally,” sighed Payton as she waited for the world to collapse around her.
Within seconds the sky started to flicker and pulse with color as the world became jagged pixels. Nana slowly dissolved only to be replaced with Err.or and the swirling mesmerizing pattern.
“Okay!” Smiled Payton. “Let’s get this over with!” She said as she hopped from foot to foot. Having an escape route made her feel confident, she knew that all she had to do was endure this and it would all be over.
“Hase Purin,” whispered the voice, sounding slightly louder than it had previously. “You are Hase Purin.”
Payton did her best to block the words out, focusing her eyes on the pattern, hoping to quickly blackout and ignore the voice. However, the spiral quickly undid her plan, within seconds she felt her mouth falling open as her brain fogged over.
The pattern was so pretty. Payton couldn’t believe she hadn’t looked at the pattern like this before. It was fantastic, it was the best thing she had ever seen, it was more beautiful than even Nana!
Payton’s brain spun as she gazed deeper and deeper, she was amazed and enthralled, she could hear the voice in her head and her own inner monologue repeating it.
“You are Hase Purin,” they said in unison. “The girly-girl loves to cook and bake. She loves Nana! She is so feminine!”
Payton wanted to question it, but she really couldn’t find the will to pull her eyes away from the pattern. It was so pretty and multi-faceted, she kept finding new things to stare at and enjoy, new details that only served to pull her deeper and deeper.
She felt her mind crumbling, but she couldn’t care. She didn’t care. She just wanted to look at the pattern, she didn’t care what her brain said, right now she was totally focused on the pattern and nothing more.
As the pattern swirled Payton felt herself blacking out and surrendering to the void, the pattern burning into her memory as she did.
“So, Purin,” smiled Nana as Payton gasped and looked around. “What do you think about helping us cater a good deeds event?”
“What? I?” Blinked Payton as she tried to pull her thoughts together. A voice in her head was whispering something about cakes, but she tried to ignore it and focus on the world around her.
“Wonderful!” Smiled Nana as she clapped, her cuteness almost lighting up the room.
Payton quickly opened her menu and tried to jog her memory. “Right,” she mumbled. “I need to give Nana an imported cake so I can trip the flag that makes us friends.”
She jumped out of her chair and quickly got to work on the cake. The recipe made no sense to her, but she wasn’t sure if it was because she was inexperienced with baking or just because the developer knew even less than she did.
As she made the cake Payton tried to keep focused. The whisper was so loud, it felt like a second person was talking inside her head at all times. “Isn’t Nana so cute?” Whispered the voice. “Wouldn’t you just like to kiss her and make all her meals?”
“No,” growled Payton as she threw ingredients into a bowl and half-heartedly mixed them. “I don’t like Nana.”
After a few minutes, Payton threw the tub into the oven and waited for her cake to load. “I’m so glad you would do this for me, it’s going to look so good for our club! I’ll end up in the paper!” Grinned Nana as Payton paced around, doing all she could to block out the annoying whispers.
As the oven dinged, Payton yanked the door open and quickly pulled the cake out and pushed it into Nana’s hands as a wide smile formed on Nana’s face.
“Thank you!” She giggled as Payton started to blush. Nana’s joy was infectious, she just couldn’t help but be happy that Nana was happy.
Suddenly the world faded to black as new areas loaded in. Payton felt dizzy as everything twisted and turned. While she wasn’t a fan of the sensation, Payton was able to hold firm, knowing that it was likely more intense due to her skipping whole segments of the game.
“Name! Have you seen who was in my office?” Asked Micchi as Payton rubbed her forehead and tried to make sense of where she was.
“Well someone ransacked it and stole my memory card!” Sighed Micchi after a few seconds of silence. “Now I need to buy a new one for Nana’s show!”
“Yes! Because it’s going to be amazing!” Grinned Nana. “Please Name, can you help me find it? I need the pictures!”
Payton tried to remember exactly what she needed to do here to get the game to move on. Unfortunately, the void and the loading had left her rather scrambled and the loud whisper was making it nearly impossible to think clearly.
She did her best to look if she could spot the memory card, presuming that finding it would be her aim for this segment. As she looked around she spotted Yuirin fiddling in her pocket.
“I’ll go look on the roof,” smiled Yui.
“I’ll come as well!” Grinned Nana.
“No!” Interrupted Yui. “Stay with Purin and help Micchi look in the office! I’m not going to make you tire your legs walking up all the stairs!” She said, bowing a little as she did.
“Okay!,” nodded Nana, “Come on Purin! Let’s look!” She said as she bent over and started to look on the floor.
Payton’s eyes went wide as Nana’s butt came into her line of vision. She felt like she was going to start drooling, it was amazing, she had never been into butts before, but Nana’s was heavenly! She just wanted to squeeze it and rub her face against it.
“What?” Winced Patyon. “I don’t like butts,” she mumbled as she ran forward and started to look for the memory card while doing her best to ignore the whispers.
However, the memory card seemed to be lost. Payton went through the entire office and found nothing of interest. As she stood back up, her eyes locked back onto Nana’s butt.
“No,’ moaned Payton as the whispers grew louder again, filling her brain with lewd thoughts about Nana’s butt. As she tried to pull her eyes away, Payton saw a sheet of paper fall out of Nana’s pants.
Payton dashed over to try and grab it, however, the blurry figure beat her to it. She tried to peer over the figure’s shoulder to see what the message said, only to see that it was written in various cut-out letters, like a stereotypical ransom note.
She couldn’t quite make out what it said, however, the implication was pretty clear. Someone was trying to threaten or blackmail Nana. Payton felt rage swell within her.
“She’s your love,” whispered the voice. “You love her, she is yours, you can’t let anyone hurt her.”
“She is the one hurting me!” Argued Payton. “This whole place is hurting my brain! I don’t care about Nana even if she is cute! I don’t love her and you can’t make me!” She felt like she was losing her mind, it was becoming near impossible to block out the incessant whispers.
“Oh, nothing!” Shouted Nana as she snatched the document from the figure’s hands and quickly ran out of the room, causing it to instantly vanish into the void.
Payton’s head pounded and throbbed. It seemed that using her own route had made the loading gaps a lot more intense and it was really starting to tire her. She looked around, only to quickly realize she was in an alleyway.
“Purin you didn’t have to come,” whimpered Nana, her eyes filled with terror.
“I had to come and help you,” mumbled Payton only to stop herself. She wasn’t exactly sure why the whisper has made her say that. Payton had to admit, seeing Nana looking scared did make her want to help, but she tried to reassure herself that she would want to help anyone who looked as scared as Nana did.
The blurry faced figure moved close to Nana and patted her on the shoulder, only for Yuirin to walk around the corner with a smirk on her face. “Nana, Nana, Nana.” She sighed. “I told you to not bring friends.”
“What?” Blinked Payton, watching as several other girls walked around the corner. They were all dressed in a generic Sagi Academy uniform and were all carrying chains.
“You just had to pay us and all of those photos would go away. But now, you’ve done this and I can’t let that stand.” Smirked Yuirin.
The blurry faced figure moved forward only for Nana to try and hold them back, her whole body trembling. Payton could hardly contain her emotions, the idea of someone trying to hurt Nana filled her with a burning fury.
“You love her, you have to save her,” whispered the voice. “Purin loves Nana.”
“Don’t be a hero Name,” said Yuirin as she produced a bike chain from her pocket. “No one will miss an exchange student, this is between me and Nana.”
“I can pay you more!” Shouted Nana, obviously realizing she was losing control of the situation.
“Oh no, too late for that,” chuckled Yuirin. “I’ve been paid a good amount to get you out of the way, don’t worry Name won’t be alone at the dance.”
“You have to do something, she is scared, you have to save her.” Shouted the voice in Payton’s brain. Payton started to shake, her brain totally paralyzed with indecision.
Her shuddering caused the menu to appear next to her, displaying the path she had set up. She tried to read it, but she couldn’t focus on anything due to all the voices in and around her.
“Please don’t!” Screamed Nana. “Name! Run!”
“Girls,” motioned Yuirin. “Get them.”
“Save her!” Screamed Payton’s brain. “Purin loves Nana! Purin is Nana’s number one fan!”
Out of the corner of her eye, Payton spotted that the next scene was apparently set in a place referred to as “the Infirmary”.
“They wouldn’t kill the player. Nana seems to be the main character,” Payton mumbled, only for her eyes to suddenly go wide. “Unrequited crush and the quiet feminine one. I’m basically asking to get fridged!”
Payton ran forward, the voice in her head cheering her on as she got between Nana and Yuirin. While she wasn’t sure of the exact location of the triggers, her body seemed to be moving on auto-pilot.
“Stop her hurting Nana!” Shouted the voice as Payton begrudgingly nodded in agreement. She needed to do this to progress, it didn’t matter who she was saving, she just needed to end the scene.
“Purin. Move.” Shouted Yuirin as she raised her chain. “I’ve got no problems with you.”
“Not moving,” sighed Payton.
“You have to save Nana,” echoed the voice.
“Purin! Get out of my way now!” Shouted Yuirin, her nose inches away from Payton’s. “Do you want to die?”
“Funny you mention it, but yes I do!” Grinned Payton as she braced for impact.
“Out of my way!” Shouted Yuirin as she shoved Payton and marched towards Nana. As Yuirin got close, Nana screamed and cowered.
“Save her!” Screamed the voice in Payton’s head as her instinct took over. She dived forward and grabbed onto Yuirin’s chain and spun the girl around.
“Run!” Shouted Payton, watching as Nana and Name started to sprint away. Before she could do anything, she felt a chain hit her in the back of the head. She stumbled forward and hit the floor with a thud.
The other girls surrounded Payton and started to beat her with their chains. It didn’t hurt as much as it should, but she could still feel each and every impact. Payton just lay still, her brain fizzing with joy.
“Nana is safe! Nana is safe! Purin loves Nana!” Whispered the voice as the darkness devoured the world.
The soft, rhythmic beep of a heart-rate monitor woke Payton up. She sat bolt upright only to realize she was in a hospital bed, with Nana staring right at her.
“Purin? Purin?” Whispered Nana softly. “Are you okay?” She asked softly as Payton tried to get her head on straight.
“Yeah,” smiled Payton, feeling exceptionally pleased with her progress.
“Purin!” Shouted Nana as she dived forward and hugged her. “You were so brave! So brave, I can’t thank you enough for saving me! Don’t worry, the police arrested Yuirin and her gang! We’re all safe!”
Nana’s hug made Payton feel warm all over. It felt amazing, better than any hug she had ever received before. “Nana is so soft and so wonderful,” purred the voice inside Payton’s head.
She started to squirm and pant softly, the arousal pooling between her legs. “Nana is beautiful and so talented, you love Nana,” continued the voice, only for Payton to shake her head and try to block it out.
“So,” smiled Nana. “I have good news! My concert is going ahead! Name made sure it was all sorted! And you’re going to be the VIP!” Grinned Nana as Payton felt another wave of pleasure run through her body. “You’re going to be my L-O-V-E Lovely VIP!”
“Lovely VIP,” whispered the voice in Payton’s head as the world started to swim and spin. As everything twisted Payton could hear Nana’s words echoing in her head.
“L-O-V-E Lovely Nanapon♥! And her L-O-V-E Lovely VIP!” Sung Nana as the world fell away.
Payton felt her mind spinning and twisting, she could see flashes of color as music and sounds clashed together in dissonant soundscapes. “Purin loves Nana,” whispered the voice.
The world came back into focus for a few seconds. She was in a packed concert hall and Nana was singing on stage. Payton could feel her arms waving glowsticks as she chanted with the rest of the crowd. “L-O-V-E Lovely Nanapon♥! L-O-V-E! Lovely Nanapon♥!” She screamed at the top of her lungs as the strange voice echoed in her mind.
However, before she could really question it, she felt the world fade into the void as electricity ran through her body. Every part of her was sparking and tingling with hot pain.
“Payton?” Shouted a voice in the darkness. “Payton?”
Payton screamed out as she felt her body twitch and thrash. The voice was growing louder and louder as the pain grew more intense, every inch of her was tingling with hot pain.