Italic text is Engrish (English written in katakana). Full-width alphanumeric characters are for words/names that were written in the English/Latin alphabet In cases when I needed to emhpasise that the word is Japanese (or when the text specifically commented about it being Japanese), I added the Japanese version as furigana.
Feel free to point out any errors, give suggestions or just talk about the story itself in the comments.
SECT.1 - Karen's Gloom
When Kohiruimaki Karen returned to the real world――
The thin digital radio clock hanging on the wall displayed 18th January 2026; 17:49.
It was a room of an apartment house(1) with no one else in it. The six jou(2) bedroom, which had a sliding door connecting it to the ten jou living room, was a spacious room. The sun had set on the other side of the window, so it was dark, and an LED light was used as a pale night light.
The wallpapers were all of a composed white colour. There was a shaggy, cream-coloured carpet laid on the living room floor, and there was a largish table with very short legs, and some cushions at the centre of the carpet. A large mirror was placed in a corner of the room.
Textbooks and reference books were neatly lined up by subject on the bookshelves along the walls. It was an orderly, tidy room that gave the impression that she was the lord of the house.
With the sliding door currently open, the living room and bedroom were integrated, and a wooden low bed was placed in this integrated room. A wide wardrobe was placed along the wall, opposite the window.
Karen raised the upper half of her body from the bed. She then took off the machine that carried the five senses into a game world――the ≪AmuSphere≫, and then carefully placed it on the right side of her pillow.
Dressed in pale yellow pyjamas, Karen lowered her feet toward the left side of the bed, and extended her left hand to the edge of the wall. The sensors installed there detected her hand, and caused the room’s lights to come on bit by bit.
After waiting for 5 seconds so that her eyes got used to the brightness, Karen slowly stood up. Walking two steps with her bare feet, she moved from the bedroom to the living room. There was a clothes hanger to the side of the mirror. There, a „thing that wasn’t clothes“ hung from the hanger.
Karen took that thing into her hands and faced the mirror.
There, she saw herself, displeased.
A tall, 183 cm in height, woman with black, long hair.
Herself, holding a black plastic air gun in her hands―― the P90 that was held in place with the support of her chest that now looked awfully small.
Karen’s mouth slowly moved.
“Squad Jam …… What should I do. A personal battle in teams, huh…… I’m kinda reluctant……”
＊ ＊ ＊
Kohiruimaki Karen was brought up without a care in the world.
Her parents, who hailed from the Aomori prefecture, moved to Hokkaido and opened a business which achieved success within the same generation. They were also blessed with children: two boys, two girls and then, several years later, on 20 April 2006, the youngest child, Karen, was born.
Brought up in a loving environment, like a princess, by her parents and her four elder siblings in their affluent home in the northern region, the growing Karen―― grew too much. In height.
Her height, which started continuously growing since her third year in primary school, exceeded 170 cm when she graduated. It was as if Karen’s wish not to grow any more was not heard by God.
In the end, the currently nineteen year-old Karen, who continued growing even through middle school, was 183 cm tall. If this was a foreign country, there would probably be plenty of females like that. However, this was Japan.
Karen’s parents, siblings and close friends understood Karen’s feelings, so they never spoke about her height, but the people in their society were not so kind.
In both her middle school and high school, Karen received useless invitations from sports clubs that she had no interest in. Karen only had an ordinary aptitude, so she was fed up with the invitations that did not respect her wishes.
If she walked around town, there were truly many people who cruelly teased her as „giant girl”, and insulted her out loud on purpose.
And so, despite how much she grieved and moaned over this, she could no longer do anything about it.
The tall figure complex since puberty changed her feminine nature. Karen, the girl who was the very image of childish innocence and cheerfulness, and was sometimes mistaken for a boy, no longer spoke with anyone aside from those close to her, secluding herself to reading and music, and becoming a completely introverted person.
Although she started growing out her black hair to look at least slightly more girlish, it didn't change anything, in fact, if she missed the timing to cut her hair, it would become troublesome putting it in order every morning.
Her large height also affected her choice of clothes.
Karen gave up entirely on feminine fashion, and chose only to wear rough and simple garments.
One year ago, Karen graduated from high school and came to Tokyo. She was expected to go to a local university from her parent’s home, but, as she had nothing to lose, she tried her luck at the leading ojou-sama school in Japan, and ended up passing the examination. Her parents were extremely happy, and Karen borrowed a room in a high-class apartment house in the metropolitan area where her eldest sister lived.
Hoping that something might change even if a little, from April, 2025, Karen began her solitary life in Tokyo.
What awaited Karen, who began going to a notable women’s university, was obviously an unpleasant reality.
As expected, age did its thing, so Karen wasn’t openly teased about her height, but―― Karen wasn’t suited for the „normal female university student life“ where people openly enjoy youth activities, like fashion, circles, and dates.
Moreover, in this escalator university, the majority of students were those who came from kindergarten and elementary sections of the school. As expected, in the end, Karen didn’t find any friends, around whom she could relax her guard. Of course, Karen’s introverted personality, and the resulting lack of actively talking to people, were also at fault.
Karen spent each day attending lectures, eating lunch alone, not taking off her headphones in her free time, returning to her apartment house and then spending her time alone in her room.
Her interaction with other people was limited to her family and friends in her home town. The only people that she was able to have a friendly chat with consisted of only her elder sister, her sister’s spouse, and her niece. She was forbidden to find a part-time job by her parents. However, because of that, she did receive an inexhaustible allowance.
If she had went on just a little longer without a social life, she might even forget how to socialise with people――, harbouring such a fear, Karen was absent-mindedly viewing the news on the Internet while visiting her parents during her summer holiday when one article caught her eye.
The heading was――『Virtual Reality (VR) Online Games, from Revival to Prosperity. People’s Desire to Enjoy Another Life Is Unending』
After a special device is mounted on one’s head, the device exchanges information about the senses with the brain via electrical signals, thus one can experience all the five senses as if actually being in that world――, that was VR technology.
A game using this FullDive technology to allow a large number of people to participate in it simultaneously via the Internet is a VR game.
Even Karen knew about the existence of such a thing.
There probably weren’t any people who didn’t know about it. After all, 3 years ago in November 2022, when Karen was in the first year of high school, a major incident that not only shook Japan, but the whole world as well.
≪Sword Art Online≫――abbreviated as SAO.
The name of the world’s first VR・MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game).
Due to the ill will of a single genius developer, it became a dreadful prison.
The ten thousand players who logged in on the very day the official service of the game began were imprisoned in that VR world.
They became unable to voluntarily leave the game.
And that wasn’t the end. If a character inside the game died, or if someone in the real world tried to forcibly take off the device mounted on the player’s head, the player’s brain would be fried and the player would really die, that was the literal „death game“ that was enforced.
Right after the incident, it made the news every day, but as the means for rescue weren’t achieved, at times it became excessive. Every time a new casualty appeared, the news would only cover the respective death.
Before long, aside from those who had someone precious trapped inside, people gradually forgot about the incident.
2 years later, in November, 2024, when Karen was studying extra hard for her university examinations, SAO again made the news. The cheerful news that the people trapped in the death game were released.
However, as a result, four thousand people had lost their lives, and thus SAO ended up shining radiantly as „the game which killed the most people in the world“.
‘Now such dangerous game will finally disappear’, the only ones who thought like that were people who didn’t like VR games. While the players were still trapped in the game, a „this time, safe“ new-model device was offered for sale and a new game was announced.
The news article reported:
『Now, in the summer of 2025, the number of VR games continues to increase. Naturally, the player population has also surged, and this prosperity seems to imply that everyone has ended up forgetting about that repulsive incident in the not-so-distant past.
Games that can be enjoyed with the five senses have brought about more virtual realities than ever before; can the ability to simply enjoy „another self“ truly bring such people human growth and genuine happiness? If one wants to feel something with one’s five senses, shouldn’t they just cast aside their personal computers and go outside with their flesh and blood? Like children once healthily did in the countryside?
Isn’t there a chance that, before long, the youths growing accustomed to fictional worlds, where they do not even feel real pain, will commit a crime beyond the imagination of adults? I await calm discussions.』
That was an article, full of the reporter’s prejudice and unpleasant feelings, that downright criticised VR games, but…
To Karen, the resulting impact was the exact opposite.
That if she became a different self inside a game, then she could probably communicate with other people a bit. And that this would probably have the effect like that of rehabilitation in the real world.
Karen, who up till now had no interest in VR games whatsoever, looked it up from scratch. Knowing that one of her few friends in her hometown was currently playing one, she met up with her and asked her.
The friend, named Miyu, said:
“What’s that you say! I’m so glad that I’m getting more game partners!”
Pleasantly surprised, she taught Karen a lot of things.
Karen understood that, at the very least, the current VR games were definitely not as dangerous as SAO. So, she decided to play one.
Although she decided to do it and figured that she should „strike the iron while it’s hot“, it didn’t seem like her elderly parents would allow it in their home, so Karen concluded her visit ahead of time and returned to Tokyo.
She went to a consumer electronics emporium straight from the Haneda Airport and got her hands on the necessities.
Firstly, the huge, silver-coloured goggle-like AmuSphere.
This machine would intercept all senses that it received, and would send fictional senses to the brain.
In other words, the operation of the device would be something like a trance, but there were numerous safety devices in the AmuSphere.
Although the device intercepts real senses, it does have monitors. If they sensed that the user’s pulse rate has drastically increased, or that the user’s breathing has stopped for a long period, or bodily disorders like headaches and stomach aches, the machine was set to activate the automatic shut-down feature; this feature could not be disabled.
Additionally, it also had the function of allowing home security systems like burglar alarms and fire alarms, as well as disaster prevention news, like emergency earthquake reports and tsunami warnings to be linked to the device to have it return the user to the real world in case of emergency.
Karen also purchased a game.
What she picked from among the many VR games in existence was a game that Miyu played as well, ≪ALfheim Online≫――abbreviated as ALO
It was a game where one would become a fairy with wings in a fantasy world and have adventures.
“Kohi, I’m sure you’re going to be pleased too! It’s quite common to fight with other races, but that doesn’t mean that you absolutely must fight. Just flying around the beautiful world and talking with people is awfully fun too!”
Just as Miyu had said, the beautiful world depicted in sample photos with its dazzling green forests , and brilliantly blue sky and water increased Karen’s expectations.
If the world was so beautiful in pictures alone, then just how great could it be „inside“ the game? Flying with one’s body alone would have her heart pounding.
While listening to Miyu’s lecture over the phone, Karen finished the setup of the personal computer and AmuSphere, and finally attempted the first FullDive in her life.
As the environment was pleasant, Karen purposefully changed into her pyjamas, closed the curtains and switched on the air conditioner.
And then she mounted the AmuSphere, which was connected to her personal computer, on her head, lied down in the centre of her bed, and closed her eyes.
Finally, immediately after she commanded the device with her voice――
Karen’s entire consciousness was brought to another world.
She felt as if her senses had left her body, like she had fallen asleep, and before she knew it, she was standing in a dark room, listening to a voiced guide.
She understood that this wasn’t reality, and yet her consciousness was very clear. It seemed as if this was a lucid dream (a dream where one perceives that „this is a dream“) where she could move as she pleased.
Calming down after her expectations were surpassed, Karen followed the instructions of the voiced guide and entered the necessary details using the keyboard floating in the air.
As for her character name, she decided to use „Len“ which parodied her real name, but as for the spelling, in order not to overlap with the names of other characters, she wrote it entirely in upper-case, and also doubled the consonants, so it was written as „ＬＬＥＮＮ“.
Out of the nine races, she figured that she should choose the same one as Miyu, so she chose the wind fairy race, the ≪Sylphs≫. As each player started the game from the territory of their chosen race, she should be able to meet up with Miyu instantly.
Having finished inputting all the details, Karen went to the world of ALO as LLENN.
And then intensely despaired.
『Sorry! Kohi, I completely forgot that you were troubled by your height…...』
On the other side of the phone call, Miyu earnestly apologised, but the fact that her randomly generated ≪avatar≫, in other words, her other self in the game, was a tall beauty even when compared to other characters of the same race was absolutely not something she could be held accountable for.
LLENN, having seen her appearance in a mirror, was so shocked that her pulse rose rapidly, and the AmuSphere’s safety devices activated, forcibly linking her out just 20 seconds after the game had started.
『Well……, this is a bit late, but there are races with short avatars…...Like the cat fairy race, the ≪Cait Sith≫…… Do you want to redo your character generation? Additional charges will be incurred though…...』
Despite Miyu’s proposal, Karen declined.
It wasn’t a problem of money.
Even though the parameters were random, she was shocked by her tall figure, thus the game ALO itself became unpleasant.
Although she wanted to try VR games, she had no intention of returning to ALO. Having been told this, Miyu replied with an apology:
『I see…… It’s unfortunate, but it can’t be helped, huh. Well, I think that your stubbornness is a virtue, Kohi』
After saying that, her long-time friend offered an alternative solution.
『Say, Kohi, do you know about character ≪conversion≫?』
That was the feature that allowed „moving“ the character LLENN that she had just created to another VR game.
The framework, called ≪The Seed≫ was completely the same for a great majority of VR games. Hence, it was possible to move characters with a single ID.
In such a case, the strengths of a developed character would relatively be passed on into the new game.
For example, if one converted a character that had physical strength tempered in some game, even in the new game the person could start with a character that had its physical strength tempered.
Though one’s original character would be deleted, and the items and money in one’s possession would not be carried over―― but, either way, it was not a concern for Karen. The fact that the already-made ID wouldn’t go to waste was a merit.
In that case, it seemed that she would be able to search for the avatar that she wanted.
『It will be a different game, but if you don’t understand something, be sure to ask! If I get my hands on a ticket to Kanzaki Elsa’s live performance, I’ll be coming to Tokyo, so I hope you’ll give me a place to stay!』
In the end, Miyu shrewdly arranged for compensation before parting with Karen.
And so, Karen used her ID to connect to various VR games and recklessly went on a character conversion spree.
Nonetheless, she would have to buy the game software each time, so she picked games that had trial periods, in other words, allowed trying it for free.
She no longer cared about the game genre and things like that.
Many VR games had blossomed simultaneously like flowers.
Car race games where one can drive automobiles. Flight simulations where one can fly planes and participate in air battles. SF(3) adventures about travelling in space. Games about enjoying numerous sports in virtual reality. Games about making love with beautiful women and girls. Among them, even games where the player would normally „live an everyday life“.
Karen, who knocked on the gates of a great number of VR games, would be displeased with the created avatar at least a bit, and immediately go to create an account in another game.
Her tenacity was so great that it even amazed Miyu who proposed the idea, but Miyu didn’t interfere.
Several days later, LENN,
“I FOUND IIIT!”
Shouted at the starting point of a certain VR game. It was an exclamation at the top of her voice.
In a bizarre world with a crazed dusk-like, ominous colour sky, and where skyscrapers with metallic walls were spread disorderly, LLENN’s figure that was reflected in a mirror glass…
“Yes…… I found it! I found it!”
Was wearing a green combat uniform and was a probably not even 150 cm tall,
“I found it!”
Thus, the name of the game that LLENN found herself in――
Was ≪Gun Gale Online≫.
Just as the „gun“ and „gale“ in its name implied, it was a ruined world where characters freely fought with one another―― a world of guns.
＊ ＊ ＊
More than three months had passed since Karen began playing the game. Winter had arrived at Tokyo as well.
After Karen, who did not have any hobbies, did not have friends in Tokyo, did not participate in club activities and was forbidden from having a part-time job, attended her lectures, finished the preparations for her lessons, and her revisions――she still had plenty of time for playing.
Weekdays and holidays before her examinations continued to diminish. As she had a methodical personality, Karen precisely decided the time for diving, and continued playing Gun Gale Online――abbreviated as GGO.
VR games, as Miyu said, were „a magnificent and well done virtual space“.
Although, in the sense that it used and allowed one to experience the five senses to its full potential it was no different from reality, a virtual space was just a virtual space after all. It would definitely not win against reality in the volume of information that can be exchanged; one would quickly comprehend „which world one is in“.
In other words, there was no need to worry „which one was reality again?“――
In a sense, this is probably a good thing. That’s what Karen thought.
The stage of GGO, ruined after the final war, was an Earth that didn’t even suit the „b“(4) from “beauty”.
No matter if it was sunny or cloudy, and if it was morning or midday, the sky was dyed in the colours of a crazed evening sun, as if it was a brush cleaner with yellow and red colours dissolved in it.
Greenery was extremely scarce in this land, instead, it was overflowing with deserts, wastelands and ruins; a world that was the exact opposite of ALO.
The role the players performed was the people who returned to such an Earth on-board a spaceship.
Hunting rampaging grotesque monsters, crazed machines that attacked people, and, occasionally, relentlessly fighting against fellow players and killing each other. That was GGO.
If she hadn’t got this avatar, Karen would most likely never have played GGO.
The weapons used in the game, just as its name implied, were guns.
In GGO, guns were divided into two categories.
The first was ≪optical guns≫.
Blasters, ray guns, beam rifles, ray guns――there were various ways of calling them, but their structure was identical. With an SF-like fictional appearance and name, they fired energy beams instead of bullets.
Such weapons had the merit of being small and lightweight even with energy packs included, as well as having long range and high accuracy. At the same time, they had the demerit of their rays dealing little damage, and, moreover, in battles against people, it was possible to block a considerable amount of the rays by using an item called a ≪Anti-light bullet defense field≫.
The design of the guns was SF-tic and it looked like the guns were assembled by combining all the parts in a straight line. Setting-wise, these SF small arms were „what was used inside a spaceship“.
The other category was ≪Live-ammunition guns≫.
The setting for these guns was that „they were the actual guns, or blueprints for the guns that remained on the desolated Earth“. With permission obtained from the gun makers, existing real guns were reproduced in the game.
Alongside noisy gunshots, bullets with mass were released. Although, of course, since this was inside a game, it only „seemed that way“.
The merit of such guns was that each bullet had high power and wouldn’t be blocked by defense fields. The demerits were that the trajectory was easily influenced by external factors like the wind, and their magazines were heavy.
Thus, the theory was that optical guns were for battles against monsters. While in battles against humans, it was better to use live-ammunition guns.
That said, there were plenty of gun maniacs in GGO, so there were also people who used nothing but live-ammunition guns even in battles against monsters, as if saying „Screw efficiency!“. For example, those like Pitohui.
However, as for LLENN who scored a chibi avatar――
Her short character with a frame of less than 150 cm was a considerably rare sight.
In this world full of rough and rigid people, both player characters and non-player characters (NPC) controlled by computers, she only attracted attention.
If she walked through a town in a valley of skyscrapers in this SF world, overflowing with gaudy neon,
“Uwaa! How tiny!”
“What is that……? A girl? A boy?”
“Have you ever seen anything like this? There’s a kid in the game……”
“Cute, huh, oi.”
“It’s so small. There are even avatars like that.”
Everyone unanimously muttered about LLENN.
Each time this occurred, LLENN could not contain the impulse to slacken her lips; letting anyone see her reaction would be embarrassing, so she covered everything below her nose with a bandana.
Just enjoying a virtual chibi was considerably fun on its own, but deep down LLENN was a serious person, and she had begun playing a game after going through all that trouble, so she figured that she should try fighting. Isn’t someone small and strong cool?
In games, there was usually a training course aimed at beginners called a ‘tutorial’.
In GGO’s case, an NPC demon instructor would have the player experience every single piece of knowledge he had, starting from how to shoot with a gun, to how to conceal oneself during a battle, the appearance and weaknesses of all sorts of monsters, how to find them and so on.
Some time ago, Miyu said:
『You don’t need to take a tutorial! That is just a big waste of time! If you listen to your comrades, you’ll naturally learn what you need! It’s a an on-the-spot decision-making kind of thing! An on-the-job-training!』
And things like that, but Karen was suited for silently training on her own. In the first place, she did not have any comrades.
Thus, LLENN mastered how to use guns, which she had never touched in her whole life, in the virtual world.
She even studied matters concerning the GGO-specific assistance feature, the ≪Bullet Circle≫, in-depth.
Called the ≪trajectory prediction circle≫(5) in Japanese, it was an assistance system that told the person on the offense where their bullets would hit.
Touching the gun’s trigger with one’s finger would switch the feature on, and a light green circle, in other words, a circle, would appear before one’s eyes. A bullet would randomly hit somewhere within the circle, fluctuating between being big and small.
The size of the circle would change depending on the distance to the target, the gun’s performance, and the player’s own abilities. And so, the contraction of the circle was synchronised with the user’s heartbeat.
In other words, if the user is constantly tense with their heart pounding heavily, the circle will violently contract and one’s aim will not be stable. Although it can be disregarded in close-range battles where the target appeared to be large, it truly is important in long-range sniping.
In the tutorial, there was a course called 【Learn long-range sniping!】, but the „calm yourself down, then aim“ was the least successful session for LLENN. With her considerably poor results, the NPC instructor kept becoming angry.
“Yeah, let’s stop using sniper rifles.”
Humans were beings that had both their strengths and their weak points. LLENN completely gave up on sniping without any regrets.
On the contrary, as she got an unexpectedly high score at nimbly aiming and shooting at nearby opponents, a technique called ≪snapshot≫, the instructor,
『Yep! Submachine guns are the most suitable for you!』
Gave her such a recommendation.
Thus, the honest to a fault LLENN who cleared the tutorial entirely began farming monsters by herself.
As for her first farming session, she attacked monsters walking sluggishly, which looked like a crossbreed between a pig and an ostrich, in a hilly area a short distance away from the city.
Although after seeing most of the monsters, LLENN considered shooting them to be a pity, she surprisingly pulled the trigger of the optical gun without any resistance.
As the spot that was struck only shined red as a hit effect, and since monsters dispersed into fragments and then disappeared upon dying, the resulting feeling of „hurting and killing“ the creature was rather light.
LLENN earnestly enjoyed the game. She practised the things she was taught one by one; even after she was killed by monsters that she had no absolutely no chance of winning against, she contemplated on where she went wrong.
Whenever she encountered monsters that she could not defeat by any means, she peeked at Internet walkthrough sites and learned the proper method to defeat them.
Plain effort resulted in her steady progress. LLENN continued killing monsters and steadily earning experience points, as well as credits, in other words, the money that could be used within the game.
As her experience points increased, she was able to gain attribute points.
These points would then be distributed among the six stats: strength, agility, vitality (endurance), dexterity, sensibility and luck, to build „oneself to one’s tastes“.
'Since I obtained a short-build avatar after great pains, by increasing my agility, I would be able to run faster. I want to raise my dexterity as well to be able to produce something. Luck would probably be nice and would be helpful. If I don’t have sufficient strength, there will be guns that I won’t be able to fire, so the stat sounds reasonable. I’m not planning on getting hit and I don’t mind being frail, so I have no need for vitality. Sensibility? No clue.'
As LLENN considered that, she proceeded to raise her agility and dexterity as her main stats, as well as strength and luck as her sub stats. Her trauma of always being the last one in footraces due to the hugeness of her body influenced her decision considerably.
As her on-hand credits increased, she was able to purchase an additional weapon and equipment. LLENN bought a submachine gun-type firearm with a high rapid-fire ability to replace her optical gun.
And then, deliberating on the use for the remaining credits, she decided to spend them for changing her attire. As she got her hands on a cute body after great pains, she desired to wear girlish, cute clothes as well.
In a savage SF world like GGO, this was a wrong decision no matter how one thought about it, but LLENN herself did not mind.
LLENN went to the town’s tailor―― or more like a combat uniform shop, and excitedly searched for cute clothes.
Since this was GGO, there naturally weren’t any clothes with frills. Unfortunately, she couldn’t find the lolita clothes that she had been yearning for ever since she was a junior high school student and had seen them in a magazine but had to give up on them as they had no chance of suiting her eucalyptus tree-like self.
What she discovered instead was a system that allowed the colour of the initial equipment that she was wearing to be changed to one’s favourite colour. As expected from a game world.
In that case, LLENN desired pink.
No matter how much she yearned for cute and lovely pink clothes, she was unable to wear them in the real world. Although they would absolutely not suit Karen, she was sure that they would suit LLENN.
The sole shade of pink available in the colour sample, unfortunately, wasn’t the highly bright and vivid one that she had once yearned for. It was a dusky pink that she hadn’t really seen much in reality.
Well, even so, pink was pink. LLENN changed her combat uniform to that colour from top to bottom: her short boots, bandana, gloves, equipment belt and even the knit cap that was meant for holding down her hair in battle, all of them were changed to the same pink.
Having been reborn by changing the colour of her entire body to pink and with her heart pounding as she left the shop, LLENN looked at the self that was reflected in the display window(6), and…
Looking at it, she frowned in silence. That’s right. There was still a part that wasn’t in pink. LLENN rushed to a weapon custom shop and requested a paint job.
She had both the optical gun, which she carried on her shoulder, and the deep gray gun painted in the same pink as her clothes.
Thus, LLENN became completely pink from top to bottom, like a famous photogenic celebrity couple, even as far as the grim weapon in her hands being pink.
Seeing LLENN like this in town, even though there were people who laughed as they thought it was weird, at the same time, there were also people would call her cute.
There were also those who were curious to know whether she was a boy, or a girl, as her short hair made it hard to recognise her gender.
Of course, LLENN didn’t worry about it, as she liked what she had done and thought that this was, after all, inside a game and nobody knew her true self.
However, wearing pink downtown like this was her first, and final time.
LLENN killed another player for the first time, shortly afterward.
LLENN, who had enough fun farming monsters, had no desire for activities like going into a firefight with other players and killing them. She persistently aimed her gun only at monsters. Although this was a game, she did not want to overdo it by „murdering“.
That day, LLENN was, as always, farming monsters in a discoloured wasteland by herself.
Although the sun could be seen high up in the slightly cloudy sky, as always, the sky and world were dyed in red, and the morning looked like evening. Setting-wise, during the last war, even the atmosphere of this Earth was destroyed or something.
In a „farming ground“, dotted with tanks that were rusting on the ground littered with rocks, LLENN was waiting for the appearance of monsters.
This time, a monster, which looked like a crocodile with its body changed to a cow’s, had settled down in a hole dug under the tanks.
LLENN laid mines around one of the tanks, and fixed thin wires close to the ground. As she had raised her dexterity stat, she became able to set up such a trap.
If a giant crocodile that came out of the hole triggered it, a sound and explosion would notify her.
Then, she would close the distance in one breath, and, nimbly avoiding the attacks of her opponent, she would ceaselessly fire at it from point-blank range. That was LLENN’s usual farming technique.
LLENN had free time while she waited, so, as usual, she was listening to music while sitting and leaning against a rock a short distance away. The music player and earphones materialised as items allowed her to listen to the music source data entered into her own AmuSphere.
With her gun in her hands, and clad entirely in pink clothes and equipment, she was the sole person in the wasteland that faded into dusk.
LLENN enjoyed what she would be completely unable to do in reality. Sometimes she would manipulate her menu screen and take out a thermos flask with warm tea from her ≪storage≫, in other words, an item vault, and drink it carefreely.
The storage was a „transparent bag“ kind of thing. Here, items could be placed, so that the person wouldn’t need to carry them on hand.
However, there was a permitted weight limit, determined by her strength parameter, thus one would not be able to store anything and everything. The maximum weight that could be put into one’s storage and the maximum weight that she could practically carry herself were the same.
To take out the contents of the storage, it was necessary to wave one’s hand in the air and manipulate the screen of a window. No matter how fast one was, such an action would still require several seconds, thus it was impossible to put away weapons and ammunition that one would want to use right away.
Normally, one should fill their storage with weapons and medicine, but――
“Ah, the tea is delicious.”
LLENN put in a thermos flask and snacks, even though it decreased the amount of weapon ammunition that she could carry.
In VR games, it was possible to artificially experience even the sense of taste. There was no one who wouldn’t use it. As no matter how much one drank and ate, one would never gain weight.
Once the Mozart’s piece that she was listening to ended, LLENN switched to „Kanzaki Elsa’s“ album.
Elsa was a booming female singer and songwriter.
She was an artist with a clear voice who sang gentle lyrics alongside a melody, which gave the impression of classical music. Under the influence of her friends, Karen also became a complete fan of the singer.
LLENN enjoyed her feminine, light, and perfectly clear singing voice in a world that had fallen into ruins. When that album ended, as she couldn’t hear the sound of an explosion, she wondered whether today’s ambush had been in vain. But, after enjoying a satisfactory picnic, should she return to the real world?――
Just as LLENN was considering this, humans appeared before her eyes.
Weren’t those three men, who appeared around 200 metres away from the other side of the shade of a rock right in front of where LLENN was sitting, walking straight towards her? As they were ascending a slope, she didn’t notice them until they climbed up.
All the members were machos without exception, wearing extra clothes with attached protectors that made it look like armour, and each of them carried a large optical weapon on their backs via a sling.
In this game, if one encountered other players in a field――
If they weren’t very good acquaintances of a close friend, the beginning of the encounter wouldn’t be a conversation, but a gunfight. There were even people who would say „Talking via gunfights is what GGO is about!“ or something like that.
The three were getting closer.
The other party had several people, who looked somewhat strong. On the other hand, she was alone, and to make matters worse, had no experience in battles against people.
LLENN was engulfed in a fear stronger than when she first encountered a large monster. And at the same time, the number of question marks in her head kept multiplying and exploded.
‘Should I run and escape?’
No, before that, the most important one――
‘Why were they coming straight towards me? And while carrying guns!’
LLENN continued observing without moving. Before long, the distance separating her and the men decreased to 30 metres, and she could even hear the wind carrying their voices, talking cheerfully about gun performance.
LLENN realised. That „they haven’t noticed me“. That they were completely unaware of her existence.
The men continued to come closer, and before long, only 10 metres separated them――
The moment, which was extremely unfortunate for them, and which decisively changed LLENN’s playstyle in GGO, came.
First of all, and explosion took place behind LLENN, the point the men were advancing towards.
At that moment, the giant crocodile that LLENN was hunting finally fell for her trap. Of course, the men did not know about that. The three men, who were startled by the abrupt explosion and fell into a panic, had their eyes caught by the sand soaring on the other side of the rock, and completely failed to notice that LLENN started moving right before their eyes.
The explosion shook off LLENN’s fear. Given the situation, all her actions were already made out of desperation. She decided to leave it all to chance.
LLENN grabbed the gun on her knees, aimed it at the closest man and discharged it in rapid-fire. The man’s anti-light bullet defence field weakened LLENN’s bullets, but she continued firing at him ceaselessly without any concern, and before long, after who knows how many shots, she managed to hit his face from point-blank range. At that moment, LLENN was within a 2 metre radius of the other two. While looking up towards the tall men, LLENN fired, fired and fired ceaselessly.
And so, when her rage that lasted merely around 10 seconds had settled down, the figures of the three men were no longer there. All of them, shot from extremely close range, had their hit points shaved off, and had „died“.
All that remained in the desert was LLENN with her heart pounding in excitement, and the giant crocodile that was hurt by the trap and was growling in pain next to a tank.
Why didn’t those three notice me?
Having eased the pain of the giant crocodile, LLENN was troubled for a moment, when,
“Could it be……”
She came up with one hypothesis.
LLENN placed her pink optical gun in the shade of the rock where she had been hiding, then tried moving a little to the side. She understood that her hypothesis was correct with just a glimpse.
It could not be seen. The gun that she placed in the shadow a moment ago.
In the reddish atmosphere of GGO's world similar to a constant evening twilight, LLENN’s dusky pink blended in with the rock’s tawny brown soil and sand, making it very difficult to see the gun. With the current amount of light, it was completely impossible to see it.
“This is interesting…… This could come in handy……”
Thereafter, LLENN completely stopped wearing pink garments in town. As a precaution to avoid revenge.
She instead wore a newly bought, common green combat uniform, with a robe that came with an olive brown hood that covered her face and entire body. She looked as if she was a child who had put on a blanket and was playing a ghost, but it was of course less eye-catching than an entirely pink body.
And then, she would go to a wasteland or desert field, change to her favourite pink in a place where nobody could see her, and begin her ambush. Basically, she would farm monsters just as she did before, but if she happened to see another player――
She would mercilessly switch her prey.
If the opponent moved towards her, she would conceal herself and wait. Without a single twitch.
Then, when she had grasped the number of people that she could kill (though it was usually one, at most two), she would jump out at point-blank range and mercilessly shoot her target until he died.
Right as she started the game, she thought „if possible, I don’t want to shoot human(-like things)“―― but she had completely forgotten about it.
If it was even slightly unreasonable, whether it was because there were too many of them, or that they wouldn’t come close enough, or that their arms were outstanding and the targets were strong etc., then she definitely wouldn’t take action. While continuing to hide, she would gradually retreat, and silently let them pass.
Thus, LLENN became addicted to the fun of battling against people.
This reminded her of playing tag, hide and seek or cops and robbers with her siblings and friends when she was a child.
The feeling of her heart pounding while hiding. The feeling of nervousness of being found. And, in addition to those―― a sense of superiority of „shooting her opponents to death“.
That's right, was this what fighting seriously in a game was about? What enjoying a match was about?
Having deepened her knowledge, LLENN, who had up until now made fun of gamers around the world, apologised to them in her mind.
Earning experience points via monster farming and battling against players, LLENN further increased her agility stat, thus being able to move more and more nimbly, as well as being being able to run increasingly faster.
LLENN completely didn’t notice but――
This style of increasing agility, or agility, AGI for short, was called the ≪AGI superiority theory≫, and these days in GGO, it was judged to be „the most effective build in battles against people“.
With her earned credits, LLENN procured a live-ammunition gun suited for battles against people.
Using her budget and knowledge to the utmost, what LLENN picked was a ≪Škorpion vz. 61≫ made in the old Czechoslovakia.
With its stock folded, its overall length was 27 cm, and it was one of the smallest and most lightweight submachine guns in the world. Although it used a small caliber meant for pistols, just by pulling its trigger the gun could discharge all 30 bullets in a magazine in just under 2 seconds. It was a gun that had the demerit of having low firepower, but had the merit of having a weak recoil, resulting in high accuracy.
LLENN bought „2“ of them. She removed both of their stocks and, as expected, painted the guns pink.
LLENN’s way of fighting was „certain kill with one blow“, like the sting of a scorpion.
When other players came within approximately 10 metres of the location she was hiding in―― she would jump out towards her opponents while carrying the Škorpions in her hands, and show off her agility.
And then, as she pointed the tip of her muzzles towards her opponents’ heads, as if to stab them from below, she would ceaselessly attack. If her opponent was alone - with the Škorpion in her right hand; if there were two of them - she would quickly handle the other with the Škorpion in her left hand.
In GGO, there was a system called ≪Bullet Lines≫. In Japanese, it would be ≪trajectory prediction lines≫.
This was a red line that would be seen by a character who was being targeted by a muzzle, excluding the initial bullet when the victim was not aware of the presence of the assailant, like when they were sniping or ambushing. It was something that enabled one to see the trajectory of the incoming bullets in advance, allowing for evasive action.
Of course, there was no such thing in reality; it was defense system assistance function that was created to increase the enjoyment of the game.
Seeing the Bullet Lines and taking the minimum necessary action to avoid them was the basis of battles against people in GGO.
However, even that wasn’t useful in cases of „being shot from around 3 metres, when the bullets would be suddenly fired at about the same time the muzzle is aimed“.
What LLENN created was a truly vulgar „way of killing“, like that of the eastern assassins during the cold war between the east and west, that demonstrated the special characteristics of the gun.
Thus, LLENN steadily increased her spoils at every chance she had. One day she would kill a monster, another day, she would decisively kill some poor guy.
And so, eventually…
『An unidentified, dreadful player killer has been ambushing in a desert field. It’s been said that a number of solo players have been killed without even getting the time to note the attacker’s appearance.』
Such a rumour reached LLENN’s ears as she was walking through town while wearing a robe.
There was even a notice for the recruitment of a subjugation party that would have someone be a decoy to find the PK bastard and ascertain their true identity. It seems that they even offered a reward.
As expected, this weighed heavily on LLENN, and she stopped her ambushes, which came off as cowardice, in the desert.
Thereafter, she would usually dress in green camouflage and farm monsters in a forest field, or leisurely enjoy an adventure in some historical site or ruins.
As the third month after she started playing the game began――
By playing untiringly, LLENN procured strength that could be said to be on the level of a centre fielder. Though the person herself was not aware of this.
That’s when she met the female player named „Pitohui“.
1. ^ The English word “mansion” was used in this case; however, the word is usually used in the sense of “large apartment” or “apartment house” in Japanese.
2. ^ A jou (畳) is a traditional Japanese unit used for measuring the size of a room. It is equal to 1.653 square metres (the size of a Nagoya tatami mat).
3. ^ Abbreviation for “science fiction”.
4. ^ The Japanese version is the “u” from “utsukushisa” (美しさ)
5. ^ Sigsawa uses 弾道予測円 as the translation for the Engrish term “bullet circle”. However, Kawahara translated the term as 着弾予測円 (impact prediction circle, chakudan yosoku maru).
6. ^ Literally, it's “show window” in Engrish.