This is Just Some Next-Gen VR. Probably.
The first thing I noticed when I opened my eyes was that I was sitting in an unfamiliar classroom. Even though I had no idea where I am, somehow I knew that this wasn’t a dream.
“What’s the matter, Eileen?”
I didn’t recognize the girl sitting beside me who spoke out to me, nor the uniforms that she and I both wore that seemed far too decorated to belong to a school. And, although the hair that flowed over my shoulders had a golden colour to it, I don’t remember dying it at all.
In the first place, I was born and raised in Japan, I don’t know anyone with a fancy name like ‘Eileen’, especially not me.
“Um, if you’re feeling unwell…”
“…Just hold on a second. I need to think for a moment.”
Rather, I needed a moment to figure out just where on earth I was.
＊ ＊ ＊
Otome games are pretty fun as well, y’know?
It had all started that day, when a junior in my university club peeked over my shoulder to ask me what I was up to. Right… it was when I was playing a game on my portable console in our clubroom. As I was playing offline, hunting a massive monster by myself, that junior of mine perked up.
“Damn, I can barely keep up with your finger movements, senpai.”
Without taking my eyes off the screen, I spoke back.
“Once you get used to it, it’s pretty easy.”
“I’m not really good at action games like that, since my reflexes are bad. I prefer visual novels and stuff like that, the ones for girls.”
“Hmm… are they fun?”
“Well, it depends. Just like anything, there are some great games and lots of crappy ones. You’ve never tried any, senpai?”
The next day, we talked about it again. This time, my junior brought along a game with her.
“Want to try it, senpai?” she said, as she held out a game case to me which had a bunch of boys with brightly coloured hair all over the cover. Written just as vividly was the title of the game; Promised Fortune.
Apparently, it’d run on my device as well. I could play it straight away.
“Is it hard?”
“Nah, not really. ProFo is pretty typical fare.”
ProFo… I guess that’s the abbreviation?
“Yep. After enrolling in a certain academy, the plain commoner heroine falls in love. Then, after entering the route of one of the boys, it’s pretty simple to clear the game.”
I don’t really know much about visual novels in general, so I don’t know much about otome games either, naturally. But, if my junior says that it’s ‘fine for beginners’ then, well… I guess it can’t hurt to try?
I flipped the game’s box over in my hand. There was a profile for each of the boys with a little information on them, and… There was also a girl with stunningly blonde hair, who had her legs spread slightly apart as she stood with her arms crossed.
“Ah, I actually like that character, personally.”
“…Is she a capture target character as well?”
Judging by what little I knew, I thought otome games were all about chasing after romantic relationships with boys. Was this a game where you could seduce a girl as well?
But, my junior just laughed as she shook her head.
“Nah, it’s not like that. It’s sort of like, she’s really mean and spiteful, but I can’t bring myself to hate her, y’know?”
“Well, on most routes she’s going to get hit with a destruction end once she goes too far, though.”
Is it really okay to ‘like’ someone like that?
“Alright, I’ll try it then.”
“Okay, welcome to the otome game life, senpai.”
After I accepted her strangely serious handshake, I was about to turn away, when… I remembered that I forgot the most important question.
“Ah, just one last thing.”
“Which monster in this game gives the best rates for weapon enhancement drops?”
“There aren’t any.”
＊ ＊ ＊
Taking a quick glance at my schedule, I noticed my next lecture wasn’t mandatory. I doubt anyone would really care if I skipped for once. In that empty clubroom, I decided to start up that game.
I remember doing that. Or, rather, that’s the last thing I remember.
The next thing I noticed, I was sitting in this seat.
….I could see a faint reflection of ‘myself’ in the window next to me.
“Ah… no, I’m okay.”
I gave a faint handwave to the girl who stood by my desk and called out to me again.
To be honest, I wasn’t okay at all, but I didn’t want to bother a girl who I had never met in my life. Although she didn’t look like she believed me as she watched me with concern, she still slowly went back to her seat. Thanks for your kind thoughts, unknown schoolgirl.
I took another look around. The school uniform that the boys and girls in the classroom were wearing looked exactly like the one I had seen on the front cover, and the classroom itself looked like the background image I had seen on the back of the box.
I knotted my eyebrows, rubbed my temples, and looked at the ceiling…
I see, so this is VR? Portable game consoles have really come far in the past few years, huh?
…Have they come this far?
Even as I performed mental gymnastics in my head to keep my theory alive, I couldn’t completely stamp out that uncomfortable thought in the back of my head. God damn it.
Alright, calm down, think logically. I don’t remember putting on a VR headset, but this setting is undeniably identical to the image I saw on that otome game’s box. I have to be logical, because I really don’t want to admit that, as a university student, I might have somehow stumbled into the world of an otome game. But, if I can’t admit that, then what is the truth?
What’s more… I can see ‘myself’ staring back at me when I look back at the window. Long, wavy hair… and sharp eyes. This girl was definitely the same one from the back of the box, the wicked young lady who bullied the protagonist. Apparently, I’ve become the villainess from the game I borrowed from my junior.
Well, if I accept that hypothesis, just what should I do now?
Maybe I really am just asleep, and if this is a dream, I can go back if I wake up?
With that in mind, I pinched my cheek.
A complete failure.
Alright, nevermind, we’ll go with my original theory. I don’t know how if it’s some kind of bug, but since I’ve become the character from the game called ‘Aileen’, I’ll just play the game through as her-
Suddenly, I felt uncomfortable just thinking that. Eventually, the thoughts that flowed through my mind put paid to my incongruous feelings.
In the first place… I am me. A college girl from Saitama enrolled in Tokyo University, who had just wanted to play a game as she skipped a lecture. To put it another way… I was going to play this game as the main character. So, if I ignore that creeping suspicion in the back of my mind, I should have become the main heroine character, right?
This golden hair flowing down my chest. Those sharp eyes that would make anyone wither under their glare. Just why didn’t I become the heroine? Why did I become the villainess instead? What’s more, if I, ‘the player’, became the villainess, then what happened to…
“What about Eileen?”
…the original owner of this character’s body, the true villainess, Eileen?
When that question came to mind…
I heard a scream from the corridor.
Jumping up from my chair, I raced out of the classroom. In the hallway, there were a large group of people crowding around the staircase… was something happening on the first floor?
Leaning over the handrail, I looked down.
And saw… that a female student had fallen down the stairs.
The students milled around watching her, and they were making such a ruckus that a teacher must have heard by now, but no one approached the girl. Maybe they were thinking they didn’t want to get involved with something so troublesome, but…
How can I just leave her!?
Rushing down the stairs in a hurry, I sat down by the girl who had fallen and called out to her.
“Are you okay!? Say something!”
She moaned softly at the sound of my voice as her eyes fluttered open.
She had reddish-brunette hair, with auburn coloured eyes. Although it would be hard to call her truly ‘beautiful’, there was a simple and innocent charm to her features.
I suddenly couldn’t breathe.
Not because the girl was stunningly adorable, but… because I knew her face.
And, what’s more… I knew her name.
She was Charlotte Oliver, the heroine.
When Charlotte looked at me, those big eyes of hers became even wider.
Her cheeks became pale as she stared, her body beginning to tremble. It was easy to understand why. I was the ‘villainess’, after all. To her, I was just a horrible person who bullied her all the time…
Or, at least, that’s what I thought.
“Wha… wha… wha…”
“Wha wha wha wha wha wha…”
Wa wa wa. Somehow, I doubt she was on the verge of breaking out into song.
So, just what was she trying to tell me?
“Are you alright, Charlotte?”
I reached out to try and calm her down.
But, she slapped my hand away.
“Wha… wha… what am I…”
Charlotte took a deep breath.
Then, she glared at me.
And, with an ear piercing cry…
“…Just why am I over there!?”
＊ ＊ ＊
I felt a sharp pain in the hand she had slapped away.
Yeah, this definitely isn’t like any VR I know…
Because… it’s actually next-gen VR.
I’ll ignore that uncomfortable thought in the back of my mind with everything I’ve got!