Gun Girls Online
“Hey, Usa-Chan! We need you over here!” Mikkari called urgently into her headset as she clicked away on her keyboard.
“Does someone need healing, ONee-San?” “Yeah! One of the girls has a leg wound! She’s losing XP fast!” “On it! Keep going, Kimi! According to my DLM, the perp isn’t that far ahead!” “Don’t worry, I got this!”
Mikkari had utterly fallen in love with Gun Girls online over the last few weeks. It was such an addictive and immersive game! As soon as she was done with her classes and work, she would finish all her classwork and then rush home to go online. The virtual world of GGO was much better than the real world. She had met many interesting people and had a few close, online friends. The were probably the only people she had ever been able to connect with at all.
Her character’s name was Super Shot: Kimi. She was jealous; Kimi was everything that she wished she could be! The character was utterly beautiful, with long, flowing platinum hair that was tied in a side ponytail. It had techy, spikey, halo-ish decoration surrounding it, hovering around the base of the ponytail. Kimi had metallic silver patches on her body. Purple and blue wires ran through the patches. Her outfit consisted of heavy, metallic boots; a short blue, black, and purple dress, black shorts that just barely showed under the dress; and a pair of fingerless gloves that had metallic bangles that hovered around her wrists. She had graceful curves and a bouncy chest, something that Mikkari’s shrimpy body most definitely did not have!
Mikkari struggled to describe Kimi, though. She wasn’t exactly a wordsmith and, despite her skill with a computer, she wasn’t exactly up-to-date on the current technophile vocabulary. Despite her lack of language skills, the schematics and visuals of the game were every bit as breathtaking as promised and then some .
Currently, Super Shot: Kimi and her best friend, Battle Nurse: Usagi-Chan, were in pursuit of a mutant beast as part of a five-person hunting party. They didn’t know the other three girls. They happened to run into them and decided to team up.
Usa-Chan had an extremely cute design. She looked like a steampunk nurse crossed with a bunny-girl. Mikkari had her suspicions that Usagi was a young girl in real life Not only was her character seemingly intended to be cute and girly, but the player’s voice sounded like a young child over the headset. Her speech pattern also gave off a feeling of youth and Naivety.
Kimi hopped across rooftops and power lines and bounced off walls in her pursuit of her prey. It was a low-threat enemy but there was a big reward for the killing of the creature. Not only was there the possibility of multiple rare item drops, the science lab that had unintentionally spawned the monster while trying to resurrect the extinct sabertooth tiger was offering an enormous bounty on the creature. 50,000 V-Yen and a lifetime pass to the immersive science museum. In the event of a team-up every individual team member would receive the bounty!
Mikkari loved the museum. It featured virtual replicas of exhibits and attractions from real life science and nature museums. If anything, the Zen City Immersive Science Museum was even better than its real-life counterparts! Although, that could just be Mikkari’s biased opinion due to being so anti-social and reclusive. she liked history, but not museums; too many people for her taste.
Kimi ran towards her mark. The scaly, alien-looking creature snarled at her. Despite its bravo, it was week from the assaults of the other girls. Kimi charged ahead recklessly as the creature hunched down in a pouncing position. Before it even knew what happened, Kimi drew one of her pistols from its holster and fired a shot strait through its heart. With a shriek, the monster exploded into red data-bytes. A banner scrolled across the screen.
The resurrect: Sabertooth hunting event is now over! The target has been terminated! Congratulations to Death Strike: Leena, Edge Strike: Meena, Super shot: Kimi, Battle Nurse: Usagi-Chan, and speedster: Ryouka! Everyone report to Zen center gardens at 12:00am for starlight award ceremony! (Victors: Your rewards will be given out at the ceremony!)
“Yes! Whoo! Gooooo Kimi!” Mikkari cheered, spinning around in her chair in victory. She had more life in her than she had had for a long time. It was like this game had given her a way to live life without the pressures and pain of reality. It was small and appeared insignificant, but it gave her a reason to look forward to tomorrow, a reason to live besides waiting for a magical change that would likely never happen.
“Kimi-Chan!’ Usagi flew at Kimi, knocking the gunslinger to the ground in an enthusiastic hug. “H-hey, Usa-Chan!” Kimi blushed as Usagi, seemingly unknowingly, groped her in an embarrassing area. “You won! Oh, my gosh! You are so brave!” Usa gushed. “I’m too scared, even though this is just a game! That’s why I’m a nurse, not a warrior!”
“Oh, it-it was nothing, really.” Kimi stuttered out. “It was one of the lowest raking monsters in the game, Usa-Chan. It’s not like I did anything amazing. Besides, I…I’m not strong. Not in real life. In reality…I’m nothing but a coward who hates life and rarely leaves my own house.”
“Well…If your true personality is anything like Kimi-Chan, then I think that you are stronger and braver than you think you are!”
On the other side of the screen, Mikkari blushed. No one had ever said anything like that to her before!
“T-thank you, Usa-Chan!” Kimi cheerfully hugged her friend back. “I’m really happy I found this game and met you!” “ Yayya!” Usa squeaked. “I’m happy I met you too!”
“Hey, Usa?” Kimi asked. “Where are the other three girls?” “Oh, the striker twins left without thanking you or anything! They said ‘we’ll see you all at the ceremony. We have important things to do.' Ryouka-Chan ended up having to re-spawn because she didn’t listen to me when I told her to sit still. She depleted her XP. I’m surprised that they are even going to award the four of us anything. Me and Ryouka did our best, but the twins did nothing to help! Those jerks just wanted to get the rare drops!”
“Hey, Hey! Calm down, Usa-Chan! It’s no big deal! I’m happy to share with you all! It’s not like there isn’t enough to share with the twins and you and I couldn’t have done this without you and Ryouka’s support!” Usagi froze and ceased responding to Kimi.
Her player was probably doing something that required leaving the internet.
“I’m so sorry!” Usagi snapped back into motion. “I have to go! I have something that I have to do! But I’ll be back on later for the ceremony! See you later!” Usagi disappeared in a flash.
Battle Nurse: Usagi-Chan has logged out!
Mikkari spinned around in her chair, unsure of what to do now. She glanced at her alarm clock. It was only nine pm. “Aww, man! Three whole hours to go!” She whined. “What should I do now?”
Her homework and studying was all done. She didn’t feel like reading anymore today. Actually, she didn’t really feel like playing more GGO right now, either! She clicked the logout button.
Stretching, she stood up and padded into her kitchen. She was wearing a pink camisole and her yellow and green striped boy-shorts. Her hair was pulled back into a sloppy bun. “Urg…” she moaned in indecisiveness as she opened the fridge. “Darn it!”
She was out of Latenergy brand energy coffee drinks! It was her favorite! She had a hot, fresh pot of coffee sitting on the counter, but she was craving a Latenergy right now! Also, as far as she knew, she was out of snacks.
“Hmmm…I guess I should run to the convenience store, then! That settles the problem of how to kill the next three hours.” Mikkari shrugged.
Walking at night was one of her favorite things in the world, for what few things she actually did like. The cool air, the relative peace, the beautiful lights; it was a good time to think. The convenience store she frequented was about a mile away, but it wasn’t a big deal. Hiken city was always well-lit and busy because it was so large. It was basically the Japanese equivalent of New York City.
Mikkari went back to her room and slipped on black leggings and an oversized gray sweater. She pulled on her socks and boots and grabbed her black tote. She buttoned up her black fall coat and, after a moment’s consideration, pulled on her white knit hat and scarf.
She exited her apartment and, pausing outside, did a once-over of her home to make sure that everything was okay. She closed the door, not realizing that her life would change forever before she’d return.
* * *
“So, these are the final candidates that I have to choose from?” A woman with raspberry-colored hair wound around her head in a braid asked. She folded her hands as she looked over the files spread before her.
“yes, Miss”, a tall man with a gray beard and matching hair confirmed. “We vetted them all thoroughly and they all are definitely fit for usage in the Simbelyne project. But I assume that you don’t need that many at once?”
“No. Currently, we only need a few more girls to work as frontline agents. I want three to start with, but I plan to eventually increase the number to eight or nine new members.”
“Very good. You can return to these candidates at any time, even for placement in a different division of the Defense Corps. They are fully confirmed.”
“That’s good!” The woman leaned forward. The two long, lose locks of her hair left undone for looks brushed across the conference table as she pored over the files.
“Mr. Akibarra? Could you please get me a cup of coffee?” She asked without turning around. “Of course, Miss.” The man turned around and headed to the large coffee station on the back cabinet. “Do you want cream or sugar?” “No. I'll have it black, please.” “Here you go.” The man placed the steaming mug in the woman’s outstretched left hand. “Thanks.”
She blew gently on the hot liquid as she flipped through the files. The room was dimly lit by the wall of large monitor screens in front of her and the celling-to-floor window that made up the wall to her left. The room had an eerie blue sheen to it.
Suddenly the woman startled, snatching her hand back from a file. “This is…!”
“What’s wrong, Miss?” The man asked in concern.
“ This child…” She gently touched the file. The little girl was eight years old. So young! She was the youngest candidate to ever make it to the final selection before! There were quite a few young women in their operations, but neither the Simbelyne project nor the defense corps employed anyone younger than ten years old. But that wasn’t the only thing that had disturbed her.
“This little girl…look at her last name!” She held up the file.
“Oh, my God!” The man exclaimed in loud English. “I didn’t notice before! Isn’t she related to…?”
“Yes. Oh, poor little girl!” The woman said, staring at the profile picture sadly. “She’s adopted from a war zone in Giha, Africa. She works in the entertainment industry. Her mother tries her best and loves her, but she’s been hiding her mental trauma from her. The child…” She swallowed. “Has severe PTSD from what she saw in her hometown when she was three.”
“What are you going to do?” The man asked.
“I think that I want her for the team. I don’t feel right about using such a small child, and Gaia-San is going to kill me when she finds out, but…I think she needs help. Gaia should be able to help her.” The woman placed the file off to the side. “Besides, her character is a nurse. Even if she is on the frontline, she won’t be doing much fighting. With the way things are right now, we need a medic badly.”
“So, that’s one down, right?” Asked the man.
“Yes, we only need two more.” The woman agreed, riffling through the files. “Hmm…I think I’d like this one.” She held up another file.
“She’s abused daily by her father, but does her best to care for her siblings and grandfather and protect them. She’s a straight-A student and the top underage employee at the Sea Star tea café. She appears to be highly driven.”
“What really drew me to her profile was how strong and protective she is of her family. We need someone like her. For the sake of good, it is necessary to keep power and compassion in check.”
“Yes, Mr. Akibarra. She seems nice enough. If we compensate her and keep an eye on her family, she should agree.”
“Very good, miss. Although, from what I see, she seems like the type of person who would become an agent just for the sake of saving others.” He crossed his arms behind back and looked out the window at the twinkling skyline. “Only one more to go, miss.”
The woman studied the remaining twenty-two files. “These girls are all very good but...” She wet her lips. “I-I don’t see what I’m looking for. I can’t explain it, exactly, but I feel like something important is missing from these candidates.” Suddenly, something on the counter caught her eye.
“Wait, what’s this?”
“Oh, no, Miss!” The man explained quickly. “I don’t know how that final got mixed in, but it wasn’t met to be here! That woman is nothing special! She might be good for a desk job, but she is extremely unqualified to be a frontline agent!”
“Please give it to me, Sir.” The woman calmly ordered him. “But-“ “Now.” “Very well, Miss.”
She thumbed through the surprisingly short file. “Mikkari Miswa. Age, nineteen. Blood type, AB-Negative. Occupation, Library desk clerk at Hiken City University. Wow, she’s actually a student at Hiken University, too! That’s surprising, it’s one of the toughest Japanese schools to get into! Major, undecided. No family. Single. Rarely leaves her home. An avid online gamer.”
Her face broke into a large, rare smile as she tapped the young woman’s somber ID picture. “Her. This woman is the one!”
“But Miss Nee!” The old man protested, using the woman’s nickname. “She’s a nobody! Someone going nowhere in life! Didn’t you read about how she spent an extended time in a mental health treatment facilitate as a young child? She attempted suicide at the age of eleven after an extended period of self-mutilation! She has displayed several symptoms of an anti-social personality, depression, and suicidal tendencies! Are you really sure that this young lady is fit for duty? She wouldn’t last a day!” “
Silence!” The woman snapped. “My decision is made! Miswa-San shall be the third and final new candidate in the latest launch!” ”But, why, Miss?”
“Even if she is weak…” She stared deeply into the sad face in the picture. “I think she has the potential to become someone great. I don’t know how else to describe it, but I see an unused spark burning in those eyes. She just needs to be pushed around a bit. Somehow, that spark must be drawn out. I’m willing to give her a chance.”
“…Fine, Miss.” The man sighed. “So, these three are who you have decided on?”
“Yes.” She folded her hands.
“How shall we go about this, then, Miss?”
“I’m not sure.” She sipped her coffee. “I would prefer to bring them in and get them to agree. I detest the idea of forcing anyone to become a weapon, even if they are to be a weapon of justice. But that option comes with problems of its own. They could refuse to participate. The little one might be too scared and her family could suspect something if we were to try to bring her in. But taking, drugging, and forcefully implanting the Alpha Shards in them is absolutely off limits!”
“Yes, that would be far too cruel.” The old man agreed. “So what should we do for now?”
The woman sighed. “Keep watch over them, okay? Don’t let them know, obviously, but keep an eye on them. Who knows, maybe something will happen that will allow us to be able to implant the shards in them? They have medical applications, too, as well as other practical ones.”
She stared out the window at the high, shining moon.
“Who knows?" She repeated. "The hand of God moves in strange and mysterious ways. One way or another, these girls…they have been chosen for a reason.”