Chapter 1:

Spring Into Fall

My Dream World Is A Gacha Nightmare

My name is Яagnarok, and I am the world’s unluckiest gacha whale.

I’ve accepted this life. A normal person might have lost heart by now, but I’m not normal. My will is iron. My spirit will not break. I’ve saved up my free tickets for two months and the Student Council uniform is coming home for sure.

No more History Club. No more sports that I hate playing. A repeat of the awful semester I had to spend with the Chess Club? No thank you.

That’s right. No matter the rarity, I’m gonna pull it!

...It might help if I explained a little.

My name is Яagnarok, and I live in a gacha nightmare. Things weren’t always this way. I have vague memories of a life before tier lists and burning dupe three-star equipment — you know, selling them for prisms? — but when I try to think too hard about that time, my head hurts and everything gets fuzzy. To be honest, I don’t usually think about it too often anymore. Grinding keeps me busy.

So as far as I’m concerned, my world is a global server called “Milky Way.” I live at the Halcyon High School dorms with my fellow students and a few real teachers. The rest are NPCs with their own plots and quests, mostly locked by grade or class - if you care about the main story at all, of course. I do, though, don’t get me wrong! I’ve heard the college-level content is the best.

As this new semester begins, I’m starting the eleventh-grade content and I couldn’t be more excited!

I wake up to the sound of my shrill alarm. Since the archery club has practice before school, my roommate Kohaku has already left. What I wouldn’t give to be forced out of bed for a club I gave a damn about! I’ll chase that Student Council uniform to the ends of Milky Way.

I leisurely throw off my shirt and scroll through the list of dailies on my phone. The first tier of once-a-day quests is nothing difficult: do a friend-point summon, obtain EXP from one homework assignment, and run five laps on any difficulty. There’s also a notification for a news update.

A banner advertises Academic Rumble! Spring Into Fall! First Pull Free!

Like they even have to say it. The first pull is always free. That’s how they get you. They give you a taste of something cool and only give you one shot at getting it. You spend the whole day thinking about it, then you give up and sacrifice your wallet to RNGesus. A 10+1 is 250 prisms.

I remember my first paid gacha pull like it was yesterday, during a Tanabata event almost two years ago. It was the four-star helper unit, a magpie familiar that I still equip from time to time. I hope it’s due to rerun before I graduate.

I check my equips in the floor-length mirror: red hair and gold eyes, the 50~100th place shirt from the summer’s last event, basic Halcyon High uniform pants, and a Mighty Pen for a 10% Great Success chance on homework assignments. Feeling nostalgic, I add the magpie familiar.

It sits on my shoulder placidly, its idle animation a little stilted compared to some of the newer stuff. I still find it charming, though! Never underestimate an old equip, and never forget how useful it was once upon a time. I’m not the kind of person who gets rid of helpers once their event is over. A collector’s job is never done!

I quick-teleport to my classroom, not willing to spend the extra time on early morning encounters.

You’ve attended 20 days in a row! Your next attendance bonus will be in 30 days!

Rollover is always at 8:00 AM sharp. I hate that the attendance counter resets at the start of each semester. My actual streak would be much more impressive than that.

The bell rings, signaling the start of class.

“Settle down, class!” Ms. Delphine calls out. “We have a transfer student to introduce.”

The public channel quiets down as everyone takes it to whispers - or maybe they’re really paying attention, I have no way of knowing. I’m always a little curious about transfer students, so my attention is fixed on the door as it swings open to reveal—

A default avatar?!

The standard uniform, top and bottom. Ordinary shoes. Matching brown hair and eyes. Sure, she’s new to the server, but couldn’t she have tried to customize herself a little bit more? She won’t survive a day here.

“Hello!” the girl says cheerfully. “I’m Mary. It’s nice to meet you all.”

You’re pulling my leg, right? That’s the default username, too! Laughter erupts from our previously-interested classmates.

“Oh no!” She frantically leafs through her inventory. “That’s not it at all!”

The laughter stops abruptly as we’re plunged into an unskippable cutscene. Sparkling ribbons criss-cross in front of the new girl, who spins gracefully and accepts their wraps around her body. They solidify into the most gorgeous Valkyrie Knight uniform. Her hair extends from default length, reaching the small of her back, and turns purple. Her eyes come to life with heart-shaped pupils and red and blue heterochromia. Even those plain shoes transform into a pair of knee-length boots with delicate wings.

Holy shit. The girl standing before us isn’t some simple free player, she’s gotta be the ultimate whale! Those premium items are really something else! Is this what they call first love?

“Wow, Marie♥, that was spectacular!” Ms. Delphine applauds, and the class follows suit as if in a collective trance. “You can choose your seat when we get back. Now that the semester is really getting started, it’s time to pull for clubs.”

The Spring Into Fall banner. I swallow audibly. It’s time.

We file out of the classroom and make our way through the halls to the banner room. It’s a sight I’ll never get tired of: an ordinary classroom with a teacher’s desk for information and a few long tables with chairs. On those tables, there are three cauldrons: bronze for friend points, silver for premium pulls, and gold for special paid tickets.

Some people swarm the bronze cauldron to knock off the daily quest, while others spend a few moments doing their pre-summon rituals. They hum a few bars of a lucky song or wait for the clock to strike a particular second. Ms. Delphine doesn’t rush us, which I appreciate. Some people — especially when they’re really invested in what you get — tend to hover over your shoulder and mess up your vibes. She gives us our space.

My mind wanders as I try to find my magic moment. My pocket is heavy with the tickets I’ve collected.

A rainbow light spreads across my field of vision, the beautiful, beautiful five-star indicator. I pull an outfit from the cauldron slowly. It’s bulky, with a ton of extra parts. It’s not the student council uniform at all, but instead an astronaut’s space suit.

I’m sorry, what?

This is the mythical ultimate-rare tier career change suit?!

Ultimate Science Adventure! Your Life In Space! I’ll be spending the next 30 years as the goodwill ambassador to Proxima Centauri? Goodbye, my sweet high school life…!

“Яagnarok! It’s your turn, dumbass!” a voice jolts me out of my daydream-turned-nightmare. It’s Thagomizer, my childhood friend. She’s got it all, looks and luck. We’re still on good terms, mostly, but I don’t hide that I’m jealous of her. She’s had a Student Council uniform since we started school here.

I crack my knuckles and get ready to do my pull for real. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, and go on eleven!

Rainbow sparks flicker around the silver cauldron as I reach into it, crystallizing into the form of an outfit in my hands.

“Woah!” I blurt out, not used to the rarity.

When the light subsides, I’m looking at an ordinary school uniform top with a fancy armband with the initials “HHSC” embroidered on it — Halcyon High Student Council. I did it.

I did it?

I did it!

My heart’s practically beating out of my chest. This never happens to me. I don’t know how to handle it.

“Well, are you gonna put it on?

“Thag, I still have like twenty tickets left,” I say, my voice hoarse. “What do I do?”

“Keep saving them,” she answers. “The next event is just around the corner anyway.”

“I have a reason to save them,” I repeat, dumbfounded. “So, what did you pull?”

“Student council—”

“Dupe?” My eyebrows shoot up, expecting the worst-case scenario: a duplicate item.


You know what, I’m not gonna let this bother me. We’re part of the Student Council together. That’s awesome.

I switch out my shirt for the Student Council top. Everyone is cluttering up the public channel with their pulls. Even Marie♥ seems to be getting into the spirit of things — she’s swapped her Valkyrie Knight uniform for the Student Council getup, too!

Back in the classroom, I try to catch a glimpse of my reflection in one of the windows. Instead, I get distracted by how blue the sky is. There’s always a pattern of clouds that’s especially large and fluffy, but otherwise it’s a clear day. Is it usually this beautiful, or is this how the world looks with premium items?

“What are you looking at?” A beautiful pink-haired girl glares at me as if I’m muscling in on her territory. She pushes her glasses up her nose harshly.

“N- Nothing! It’s a nice day, isn’t it?”

She frowns. “Yeah. I guess so.”

“Is this seat taken?” Marie♥’s crystal clear voice breaks our awkward conversation up.

“Not at all.” My daydreaming companion sticks a hand out. “I’m AdAstra, new girl. Nice to meet you.”

“Marie♥. Nice to meet you, too!”

And so, our Halcyon school days pass…