An ominous combination of a whine and a roar boomed in the distance, sending shockwaves throughout the walls of the building.
“Wh-What, what is happening out there…?”
Elizabeth nervously glanced around.
This underground safehouse should hold steadfast against the most terrible of attacks… but what was happening was undeniably terrifying.
Moments later, the skies boomed again in the same fashion. She scrunched up terrified, so I went over to stroke her back. And while soothing her, I perked up my ears.
… An airstrike?
The city sounded like and shook as if it was being incessantly bombed.
There shouldn’t be any air raids like this in game… No, it can’t be!
My eyes widened as a frightening possibility came across me.
“… Whoa, hey! Sera! Where are you going?!”
I had no time to spare to respond to Kiryū. Instead, I rushed over to the red steel door and pulled the lever downwards with all my might.
The door opened with a dull groan, revealing the metallic staircase that connected the bunker to the ground level. Loud clanks accompanied my mad dash up the steps.
Upon reaching the top, I was not greeted by the usual horde of zombies, but by the lack of.
The rest of the soldiers in our h.e.l.lish army that were now idling seemed to have been serving violence to the living dead, leaving none to swarm me as I exited the entranceway.
As soon as I peeked above ground, I was filled completely with dread and my body was paralyzed:
—I was overwhelmed by the distinct blast of afterburners.
“… Jet fighters!”
Kiryū, who had given chase, cried out behind me.
Splitting the skies were numerous fighters in the midst of showering Confi City with air-to-surface missiles. Black smoke engulfed all directions.
“It’s too dangerous out here!”
Leaving little doubt as to whether that was suggestion, Kiryū grabbed the scruff of my neck and dragged me back into the safehouse.
“… As far as I can tell, the worst-case scenario is happening,”
I looked him dead in the eyes and firmly spoke,
“I hadn’t expected this, but someone… someone other than the three of us triggered the start of the game’s ending.”
His gaze narrowed.
“I see. That’s a possibility I hadn’t even considered…”
After Kiryū clicked his tongue, Elizabeth, who lacked a complete understanding of the situation, asked for clarification.
“Erm, correct me if I’m wrong, but… doesn’t that mean some other player reached the ending for us?
I would think that to be beneficial, is it not? It would save us the trouble from having to wonder what would happen after the game ends.”
“Unfortunately, Elizabeth, there is a huge problem. Judging by the way Confi City is being bombed… the only thing that comes to mind is that this is the bad ending. Everybody dies.”
“… Don’t tell me that’s the ending with nukes dropping.”
Kiryū roughed up his scalp in irritation.
“I could tell you that you’re wrong, but I would be lying. Strictly speaking, they’re not exactly nuclear bombs either, but still…”
Whatever solace that fact might have brought, it did not show on my face.
“If everything goes according to the game, then this is step one of the government’s ‘Sterilization Operation’.”
“Sterilization… That’s quite the name.”
There’s many options for sterilization, such as autoclaving, direct flame, dry heat, ethylene oxide gas, and gamma irradiation. It’ll definitely be direct flame this time… I think.
In any case, if things go as I expect them to, the bombing runs should continue for a bit more. The end comes ‘three hours later’… Confi City will be wiped from the Earth by thermobaric missiles. That’s the ending where the protagonist fails to get help, and not a single soul remains.”
“Talk about worst-case scenario…”
He responded with a sigh, but Elizabeth seemed to be taking it far worse. She was pale as a ghost and looked as if she would almost pa.s.s out. I don’t blame her; I think I would prefer to pa.s.s out too. No matter how you looked at our situation, we were in peril.
“Not just DMC, but other survival horror games also seem to give you a mere week to beat the game and it’s almost never enough time to get the good ending. I really should have antic.i.p.ated this to happen.
It would’ve been nice if we got the chance to take our sweet time…”
“What other endings are there?”
Kiryū quizzically asked.
“I used to think that the best one is the ‘truck ending’, where the player and the other survivors nab a deuce and a half and leave Confi City behind as a lost cause.”
“You never really discover the truth behind the story, so it’s not technically a good ending.
On the flip side though, because it results in the least casualties, I’d say it’s more positive than not. Well, at the very least, it’s a better ending than getting blanketed by thermobaric missiles…”
The mood in the room felt heavy and tense.
“… Umm, may I make a suggestion?”
Seemingly having recovered from the shock, Elizabeth hesitantly raises her hand up.
“We should leave this game at once and travel to another, so we can get back on our feet.
What do you two think?”
“Right. You’ve mentioned that Sera’s phone can do that. Might not be a bad idea.”
Approving of her proposal, Kiryū reached into his pocket and handed me my phone.
Again, I have no pockets in my clothes, so he was holding onto it.
“Sera, turn on your phone and launch the app for me.”
“… Is it really alright? The app’s not cursed or anything, right?”
“It’s fine. Last time it was on a laptop… but it should work the same though.”
I powered on my phone and launched the unt.i.tled app as per her instruction.
“You should see an option to switch games in the app.”
Elizabeth peeked over my shoulder as she tapped and swiped my phone with her slender, graceful fingers.
Upon opening Unt.i.tled, the screen displayed a list of all characters and the games they’re currently in.
Now Kiryū too had his curiosity piqued, hovering beside me and looking at my phone.
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“I’m a junkie.”
“… Not to mention that they are all zombie survival horrors too… It is almost miraculous that so many of us humans are still alive. The only decent world we could go to is this… dating simulation game.”
“I get very excited when I kill walking rotting corpses.”
I shrugged with a sigh.
“… It doesn’t seem like Rainbow Dreams, the game Kiryū Sōichirō is from, is showing up… even though I spent so much of my time on that game.”
“That is one of them so-called social network games, isn’t it? I have never seen any of those game worlds show up before. It does not matter whether it is a PC or console game, but it has to be a ‘proper game’.”
“Hmmmm, I wonder why.”
Kiryū interjected with a scoff.
“Rainbow Dreams was designed so that most of the code would be located server-side instead of client-side. a.s.suming we’ve got a monster out there who is reverse engineering all these game worlds, there’s no way they’d easily recreate Rainbow Dreams.”
“Oh, nothing… It’s just that you kinda seem so familiar with Rainbow Dreams, Kiryū.”
“You’re wrong. I’m not. I have nothing to do with that game.”
“Stop looking at me like that.”
I could go on forever digging at Kiryū, so instead, I switched my attention to Elizabeth.
“We’re in a bit of a pickle, aren’t we? There’s only the one game world that would be safe… the dating sim.”
“Is there a problem with that?”
Elizabeth seemed confused.
“There’s a huge problem with that! I only play these games when I hang out with my friends while laughing at everything in it. I mean, sure, I’ve blogged about it a little, but I don’t really remember the details, you know? I don’t know if I could beat it in one go.”
“What…? What did you just say…?”
Exasperation and aghast were choice adjectives to describe her right now.
“Dating sims… and making a ruckus with your friends…?”
“You don’t do that?”
“I absolutely do not. And if you do, you are just a normie who doesn’t take dating simulations seriously enough.
Listen carefully, Sera. When you play dating simulations for women, you must have no one who can so much interrupt or influence you. You need an empty, quiet place to play from your heart…”
Elizabeth spoke like that traveling salesman from that one manga series who just loves his meals. I can’t speak for the others, but for me at least, the three of us just shooting the breeze helped me to gradually calm down.
… We’ll be fine. No need to panic.
Literally meaning a “normal person”, the term “normie” has been in popular usage on the internet since the early 2010’s. Stereotypical normie activities include dressing in revealing Halloween costumes and doing anything to take the most Instagra☆mmable photos. (Though there are normies who partic.i.p.ate as mixed-s.e.x groups, Sera was enrolled in a predominantly female nursing program and as a result has not partic.i.p.ated in such groups.)
Contrary to popular belief, female normies partic.i.p.ate in typical “nerdy” activities too, such as reading manga with friends and complaining that “all the boys worth anything are 2D”. They may also play female-oriented dating simulations as a uproarious group. They do not play zombie survival horrors.
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