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Deep within a lab in Iceland, a new virtual reality project has been launched. The participants, however, were kidnapped. Welcome to the world of Project Aubade.
 
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Echo
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PostSubject: 「 accessing . . . E R R O R 」   Sat Apr 29, 2017 8:49 pm

imaninja LOG #585

Hi hi everyone~

It hit real big news and everything, but I thought I'd say something myself about it. I betcha guys all know already - darn the media for getting to it first (´;ω;`), buuuuut guess what? Myu-san and I both got hired by MoTHER some time ago! They kept talking about getting someone who knew a ton about RPGs, but I didn't expect them to pick me since I'm a lot more into classic RPGs instead. Their new project sounded super duper fun to work on, and they made a point about how they wanted to hit nostalgia and bring back that classic fantasy adventure feel for what they're working on. Look forward to it because it's such a blast right now!

Beta testing is all over the world in several locations, and right in Japan, there are sooo many stations that you can go to. Myu-Myu is staying over right now with me in Iceland, but both of us are forbidden from saying anything else because it's a real big secret. Hope you guys all enjoy it because we're working real hard on this!! (ノ´ヮ´)ノ*:・゚✧

Yuhara aka 福原由乃 signing out! (๑>ᴗ<๑)

P.S. To the anon who keeps messaging me that テイルズ オブ ジ アビス / Tales of the Abyss has aged terribly over the years and that the story and characters suck, fite me (´◣д◢`+)
P.P.S. Can't wait for the next Tales of orchestra concert in a few weeks!! Hope they do a remaster of Velvet-san's theme or Finish the Promise or Awkward Justice or Simple Dream;;(*>ω<)人

Posted on: April 9th, 2047
Likes: 4.7k

---
Her fingers hit the enter key as she responded to another comment, arguing about the various nuances about the character they called Akechi Goro. Interlocking her hands together, the girl stretched out, her joints cracking as she tilted her head to the side and lifted her arms above her. The only light in the room came from the holographic-like screen floating above, a keyboard resting in front of her as she lied flat on her bed, blanket wrapped around her body. Strands of hair stuck out from her head, a mess of brown, with purple hues to her bottom eyelids. Several bags of chips, Pocky, and other unhealthy snacks were littered across the floor like flower petals, as though they had never been maintained in quite awhile. The curtains remained as still as a statue, refusing to let the light from the outside world enter.

Three days of staying up for no particular reason other than constantly receiving emails from people who wouldn't stop bugging her about the project that MoTHER had been working on. Whether it was about leaking out details on what the research was about, outside of the vague details that her boss had given when the press bombarded him, or all of these other dumb things that she didn't want to bother with, they had been keeping her up, enrapturing her attention. More than anything, it was frustrating her how much time she was wasting on these low-lives instead of working on her next analysis for Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker.

Blabbermouths...

Humans were too much of a pain to deal with. Anime and video game characters were easier to understand without having to handle how annoying they could be sometimes. She would've just turned off her computer right then and there, but Shimoda would've killed her if she had fallen asleep and taken too much time responding to his email. Letting out a yawn, Yuno blearily stared at the screen, whipping out an old Xbox Kinect controller. Dead or Alive 5 Last Round flashed across, difficulty setting at the highest it could possibly be, and thus, she began smashing the buttons over and over again. Several combos linked together as the CPU attempted to gain ground, only to fail.

Within the second match, the door to her room opened, but she paid no heed to the intruder, as though she had known who it would be. A Pocky stick was clenched between her teeth. "Hey Myu," she mumbled, eyes concentrating on the game in front of her. The dark-skinned boy sighed, flickering on the lights to her room. Wincing, Yuno gagged before realizing that she had lost the match.

"What gives?!" she bubbled, rubbing her eyes as she glared at her companion, the one who had interrupted her gaming. "I told you that I don't like it when you walk in without my permission, especially not when I'm playing! I don't sneak up on you when you're playing Overwatch or DOTA or something, do I?" Yuno huffed, irritation seeping into her voice like blood.

"I... I just wanted to ask if Shimoda had messaged you yet," he muttered, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. He took a glance at the holographic screen.

He wasn't being honest to her. Again.

"Then why are you in your mo-cap suit right now?"

"I was working on the choreography for one of the event bosses that Farah's been coding..."

A silence fell over the two, neither knowing what else to say. The boy constantly opened his mouth, as if he were thinking of saying something, but nothing ever came out. Yuno, on the other hand, kept staring at him, expecting him to tell her something that wouldn't be a huge waste of her time, yet it didn't happen. A moment frozen in time, prolonged for what might as well have been eternity before her fingers bunched at a nearby pillow. Without any prior signs of violence, the Japanese girl chucked it at his face, shouting, "Get out of my room if you're not here to do anything!"

Her companion caught it with both of his hands, the impact doing little to nothing. "Mind if I play with you?"

Yuno took a deep breath. "Err..." Inhale. Exhale. She allowed herself a small smile. "After you get changed, Myu."

The boy's cheeks turned red slightly. "Stop calling me that." He closed one eye in an attempt to keep his composure. Gently, the Korean tossed the pillow back.

"Nope! I'm going to keep calling you Myu~" Yuno caught the pillow, resting her chin on it as she watched him walk out. By the time he returned, he was wearing a plain white t-shirt and black pants, snatching the controller she had flung into the air. He took a seat beside her as she sat upright, nudging her shoulder at him.

Myung-soo blinked, his gloved hands keeping a firm grip on the black controller, before he looked at her. A mischievous gleam was in her eyes, showing no hint of the exhaustion that she had the past few days.

"Myuuuuuu~" She started, her face twitching, as though she were holding back laughter. The screen flickered to the character select for a PvP battle. "Wanna make a bet?"

He looked off to the side in a moment of deliberation before asking, "How much?"

Yuno snickered, tossing the blanket off of her in an overdramatic fashion. "10k."

A frown spread across his face as he examined her features, trying to decide whether or not she was being serious or not. But no matter how much he tried to rejudge it, everything told him that she wasn't joking.

"Really?" His voice was light, strained, as though this was just a misunderstanding and that she wasn't actually going to do this. There wasn't any reason for her to get that much money, especially when MoTHER provided them with the necessities, so long as they did their work. They even paid for their tuition and helped their families, so what was she-- Oh, wait.

"Wh-what? What's that look for?"

Myung-soo let his gaze drift off to the window, to the screen, to anywhere but her face, letting out a sigh. "You're not whaling on your gacha games again, are you?"

This time, her cheeks flushed red, her fists curled up as she battered at his shoulder with little to no strength in them. She couldn't even hurt a fly if she tried. "I can't help it! Link just released another Kanonno gacha, and they're too precious." Yuno was pouting. "You know Bamco really hates me, and my luck is worse than the Reaper's Curse."

He shook his head, confirming his character choice before waiting on his partner to choose who she was playing. They had played the game several times together, and quite frankly, they always chose the same characters as well.

"It's not going to kill you if you don't get them," Myung-soo said nervously.

"It totally will! Cute girls are the only thing that matters!" Yuno argued back, replying as though her life depended on it. "Oh, and edgy guys."

She had confirmed her own character choice, and soon enough, they had entered the stage. Both were hitting buttons, trying to win the match with everything they could get at. These games weren't her forte in the slightest, but having played so many times with him, Yuno liked to think she could read his patterns a bit and predict what he was going to do.

"Am I not enough for you?"

The Japanese girl stuck out her tongue. "You know better than to ask me that. My anime crushes aren't a replacement for you."

"You do replace actual friends with them, though."

"Bullshit. I have online friends too and--- Fuck!"

A perfect victory on his part for the first round. It was a talent or something, honestly. No matter what real-time fighting game he played, he always managed to get a grasp of it within seconds and become practically unbeatable. The second round began shortly after. 2-out-of-3 rounds and 3 matches. That's how they always did it.

"You were saying?" he asked nonchalantly.

"Oh, be quiet! I'm trying to focus." Her eyes narrowed, zeroing in on the game as she tried to time it perfectly. Those counters, those holds... How was she supposed to time these?

He didn't speak again, and after he won the second match, just like the first, her face contorted into a pout. Nervously, he rubbed the back of his neck as she flopped onto the bed, sprawling her limbs with a groan.

"Ugh, I'll transfer the money to your account later." Yuno mumbled in a dejected tone. Her arm covered her eyes.

Quietly, Myung-soo replied, "No need. You knew that was going to happen."

"..."

"Why were you trying to give me the money? You could have just transferred it normally without going through all of this trouble." He pointed out, eyebrow taut in confusion.

"Ugh, no. There are enough rumors on the internet as is." An expression of disgust washed over her features. "Losing like this would've made it less obvious. I knew you needed money to get new equipment."

"Well, yes, but--"

A ringtone blared into the room, interrupting the two's conversation. He knew where that remixed beat was from, the stylistic 8-bit sort of version of a song. Yuno let out something that sounded like a mixture of a sigh of relief and an annoyed curse, flipping open her cycloid phone. It was modeled after the phone of the Devil Survivor 2 protagonist, aqua and looking completely outdated, but it had all of the current technology on it. Almost everything she owned, from her laptop to her TV to her clip-on earphones were a reference to something from somewhere.

Honey brown eyes scanned through the message, nodding ever so often before her irises involuntarily widened, hand coming up to cover her mouth before she quickly tried to fix the gesture. Her hand fidgeted with her bed sheets.

Too late.

"What is it?"

Another phone went off, this time, Myung-soo's. Unlocking his screen, he took a glance at the most recent email sent. MoTHER.

Several people had been kidnapped to use as test subjects for the game. They were being held captive.

"..."

"..."

"Hey, Myu?" Her voice was shaky, constantly wavering as she tried to keep up a strong front. "Did you know this was going to happen." She didn't try to ask it like it was a question, the sentence flat with not much to it.

"No, I didn't."

Another ding! went off from both of their phones.

Sender: Farah Silbergeld
Subject: None
Message: Both of you are being asked to report to headquarters at the moment. Immediately.


Nothing else. nothing more. Just that message. Yuno bit her lip. Carefully, he brought his hand to her shoulder, quietly asking, "Do you want to go?"

A deep breath.

"We're going. I want to know what I'm supposed to work on next. I don't really care about people being trapped in the game."

"... Liar."

She swung her legs over the side of the bed, chucking her pillow at him again. "Ugh, whatever. Get out of my room while I change. I don't need another PhD to tell you that, do I?"

He shook his head, placing the pillow back on her mattress. "No, you don't. We'll be leaving in 15."
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PostSubject: Re: 「 accessing . . . E R R O R 」   Sun Apr 30, 2017 1:53 am

The familiar hallways weaved around the pair, their footsteps resonating against the walls in a staccato rhythm. Employees of all sorts walked past them, paying no heed, but they all adorned the same uniform that they were supposed to. It made the two teenagers look more out of place than they already were, being the youngest of the recruits, yet Yuno had put on a cosplay outfit that very much resembled a school uniform - not wearing the wig - while Myung-soo had stuck to his casual clothes, only tossing on a jacket, just in case. They stood out like tourists in an unauthorized area, had it not been for the seal they both wore that placed them as high-ranking employees.

A few of the henchmen had bowed to them, giving them polite greetings, but neither paid much heed. Their entire focus was heading to the room that they were called to. It wasn't the conference room, but somewhere else. Another classified space. Both of them avoided small talk, feeling it would have been an inappropriate time to discuss their comings and goings at their home or anything that wasn't dubbed as 'professional' by the company. With the two of them in the room, Farah slammed the door behind them.

Click. The doors were locked. No getting out then. Yuno felt her gaze drift over to Myung-soo, who had clutched her hand firmly. He looked at the teal-haired woman dead in the eyes.

"And what is this about?"

Farah was someone they had to collaborate with often. She was the leader of the Empyrea Foundation - the one that Yuno loved making jokes about because it reminded her of the Aether Foundation and Empyreans, especially with how Farah was - and also the head programmer and coder for MoTHER. From what the two of them had picked up over time, scouring through gossip and rumors from all sorts of articles and papers, it was that she was completely shrouded in mystery. Her story had all kinds of strange things to them, but whether it was some over-the-top rumor or fact was difficult to tell. They've worked together several times, but... They never could figure her out. She looked like she was in her mid-20's at the least, but she was more than twice their age. Maybe much older.

The corners of the older woman's mouth twitched upward, but it didn't reach her devoid eyes. "I was told to discuss with you two what was happening henceforth from now." She kept one hand on her hips.

"Okay, and is this going to explain why we're ripping off SAO?" Yuno mumbled under her breath, crossing her fingers and hoping that Farah hadn't heard anything. That wish went ungranted.

Farah laughed, her free hand covering her mouth in a lady-like manner. "Yes, of course, but first order of business..." She stepped forward, bringing her face close to Myung-soo's, who had averted his golden gaze away. Her fingers lifted the boy's chin, her smile unwavering as she leaned in close to his ear to whisper, "I will be talking to you after this."

She took her few steps back, and the Japanese girl puffed her cheeks, crossing her arms with a 'hmph' when she realized that her partner had become more than flustered at the sudden physical contact.

"As you both know from the email the company sent out, we have been staging accidents all across the world and bringing players into our game. They are proclaimed as dead, and they're nothing more than play toys for Shimoda," Farah started, keeping her tone flat and steady. "Due to the agreement with the UN, they are unable to investigate us. We are asking you both to continue to encourage people to go to the beta tests for us to have more players. We will not tolerate hidden messages in your posts and--"

"Wait, wait, wait. Hold it," Yuno interrupted, crossing her arms in an 'X' to signal a stop. Farah kept her smile, though anyone could see the minor annoyance in her eyes. "Why are you guys doing this exactly?"

"That's an answer you would have to ask Shimoda himself," she replied, her voice icy enough to make both of their blood run cold. Myung-soo had a convoluted theory that their boss was a psychopath of some sorts, coming up with all of these projects for fun and being able to deceive the general public after the ultimatum he had presented to the UN. Over time, they had brought it up as a running joke, dubbing their boss as 'Mr. Sparkles' due to how popular he was with both men and women alike and several other things, but perhaps it was autosuggestion that resulted in them actually believing it themselves.

They've never actually talked to Shimoda. Someone else had brought them on board, but they had his recommendations. It was worse when they found out that their personal files and lives were stored somewhere, which had contributed to Shimoda believing they were suitable for the job.

Farah intruded their thoughts. "We will also be asking to terminate your Reddit and Tumblr accounts."

"... What? Why?" and "Fuck no, you are not doing that." were the two immediate responses that came.

"You will be IP banned to prevent you from looking through the conspiracy theories and several others and confirming others' suspicions. The government is prohibited from investigation, but others can disobey them. We will not tolerate you leaking any information. This is simply a safety precaution."

"So you're basically saying we're not trustworthy," Yuno commented, trying to keep her irritation and annoyance from lacing into her voice. It didn't work.

The head coder nodded. "Exactly. You'll also be schooled at the headquarters instead of attending the private academy nearby and will not be allowed to come into contact with anyone outside of this facility."

"Isn't this a little extreme?"

"Yeah! What the hell? This is the age where we need to cultivate our social ski--"

"Neither of you go outside as is and continue to skip school in favor of video games. This is nothing different."

A 'tch' escaped Yuno's lips while Myung-soo looked away awkwardly, stroking the tips of his hair. Seeing how MoTHER supplied them with a meal and clothes on a daily basis as well, they couldn't argue back about the need to go outside to buy groceries or anything else. Everything they wanted and needed was given to them. So much for that. They didn't even need to go anywhere, and from the sounds of it, attending conventions wasn't an option, especially if they were going to be bombed or caught on fire.

"Anyway, here are the folders with your new assignments in them. We're working on another event for the game and permanent sidequests for the higher levels," Farah said, handing the files over to them. The two of them flipped them opened, reading through the content within. "As usual, human and humanoid NPCs will have their battles choreographed by Donghae while Fukuhara will be writing the scripts. Is that clear?"

Both of them reluctantly nodded.

"Fukuhara, you're dismissed. Donghae, stay here."

Yuno looked ready to protest, but when the dark-haired Korean shook his head, she curled her fists and swallowed her pride. She bit her lip. "Fine. I'll meet you at the front. Just..." She hesitated. "Just take your time."

She stormed out of the room, and Myung-soo extended his arm out as though to grasp her. His attempt was halted by Farah, who lowered his hand, and he narrowed his eyes at her, suspicious. This woman... No matter how many times they knew each other or how much time they spent with one another, he could never figure her out. The way she constantly smiled like nothing mattered, like she wouldn't care if the apocalypse was taking place outside. She'd invited him over to her place before, the oppressive air apparent. He'd met her nephew then. But that was a few years ago.

The way she walked around him, encircling him with her hands crossed over her chest, a wondrous expression etching across her features with that kind malicious smile unique to her and her alone. Something about the way she stared at him made him uneasy. Her nephew had mentioned that she was a very strict mother figure, and that she enjoyed looking at people with her hollow eyes to make them feel a chill run down their spine and knock them out cold. An icy, blood-ridden gaze... He finally understood what that meant.

"What is it that you wanted?" he asked finally, breaking the silence around them after what felt like twenty minutes or so once he mustered the courage to. He wasn't sure whether he sounded nervous or not, but he would hope that wasn't the case.

Farah stared at Myung-soo. "I want you to start a choreography and weapon design project for me."

... That's it? That was really all it was? "For what exactly?" If it was for an event boss, it was unlikely that she would have told Yuno to get out. There was a catch to this. There had to be.

"None of your business. I just need the choreography for the following. It's for a program I'm working on." She handed him a list, and he scanned over it.

Myung-soo eyed her suspiciously. "You need this much...? For what?"

"Again, none of your concern. Just get it done. I've already taken some of the work you were working on with the floating blades style to use."

"Excuse me? You hacked into my computer?"

A cold silence fell over the room, giving a chill that he would only experience when watching a horror film. She was toying with him. She had to be. That was a secret project too, and the fact that she was stealing it for her own use without telling him the reason... His eyes flickered to his shoes and back to Farah, glaring at her.

She just kept smiling. "I did. Why do you ask? I needed it."

"I was working on that for a 3D cinematic I wanted to make after observing the style being very popular in the past," Myung-soo replied flatly. He had watched a great deal of videos, played several games, and so many other things to perfect that form of combat and here, it was being ripped away from him. "I have other projects that you could take instead. Just not that one. Please."

"Nope. I'm taking it. This is exactly what I need."

"I'm not going to just work with you in secret like this... The boss doesn't even know about this, does he?"

"He'd be fine with it. It doesn't matter." Farah was quick to dismiss him.

"And your neph--"

"Stop questioning this or I'll make you regret it." She gave a further explanation. "I'm willing to hurt Fukuhara if you aren't going to cooperate."

Myung-soo had admired her for her tenacity, the way she passionately worked and put all of her effort into everything she did. There were several things that had made her suspicious, but she was beautiful, had a wonderful personality, and gave good advice when needed. She had a twinkle of amusement in her eyes, making it seem like she was joking about what she had just said, but her tone was dead serious. These people were monsters. How he and Yuno managed to get wrapped up with them, he wasn't sure. But by association, they were murderers and terrorists hiding behind the front of an innocent organization that wanted to better the world.

He felt sick, his heart reeling and stomach churning with a flame that he could not quell. He could feel his face twist ever so slightly with distaste, the room seeming to grow warmer and warmer, the beads of sweat placing a sheen on his forehead as they dripped down. What he would give to be able to fly out of the room right now. He felt like a dead man. No turning back. No getting out of this.

One deep and shaky breath later, a bitter smile graced his lips. "Fine. I'll work on it."

Her hand came up to pat his head, her finger sliding from his forehead down to his lips. "Good boy." Myung-soo felt tempted to spit on her, but he held back, swallowing his disgust with it. "Run along back to your sweetheart then~" She sounded sickly sweet. Stomping on her foot or sweeping off of her heels sounded rather nice right about then.

Without taking a look back, he stormed out of the room, straight to the front in silence. Lights all around glistened with a menacing sparkle, reflecting the metal and clean environment around them. It was too clean. The smell of death was near. Ever so often, he'd walk around, and he'd see bodies being transported to the underground facility below. They looked dead. But they weren't. He knew that. Didn't change the fact that it was hard to glance at those being taken against their will, how still they looked, the tranquil expressions blanketing their features. The old Kennedy guy's granddaughter was there too.

There wasn't much to say. He knew the truth of what the project that he and Yuno had been working so hard to help was about now. They both knew it. Focusing on it now wouldn't be the best idea. Whatever could've happened to their families - his family - if they chose not to do what they were asked wasn't something he wanted to imagine. Just head to the front door. Get out. And they'd go back to play video games together for the day and take their mind off of things. That's all they needed.

Myung-soo slipped past, closing another door behind him. Many corridors and hallways that he would've gotten lost in a long time ago, but nowadays, he was accustomed to them. He knew his way around, never glancing towards his surroundings and focusing solely on getting to the exit. Just a little bit more, and he could get out of this hellhole with Yuno.

The silence was suffocating.

Nobody was there waiting for him at the front.

Swiftly, he smashed his palm into the wall, cornering an employee. The curiosity was eating away at him, leaving unanswered questions and worry to flood his mind. Farah wouldn't just go back on what she said already. Absolutely no way. It was impossible that the older woman had made it outside before him. "Tell me." The employee looked scared out of their wits, their face as red as a furnace. "Was Yuno here?"

The employee only shook their head, stuttering out, "N-no. Sh-sh-she hasn't c-come this way a-at all."

Clicking his tongue, he walked back into the building. He didn't like being tricked. Farah played dirty. It hadn't even been thirty minutes, and she already went back on her promise. A part of him was ready to turn in his resignation, but he couldn't. He couldn't. He couldn't. His family needed the money. He just needed to find Yuno for now.

W̵̛͇̖̰̙̤̺̥̘h͠҉̠̦̬͈͈è̝̳̗̱͕r̴̡̳͉͡e̺̹͇͚ ̹͔͕͔̯̜i̬̜̞̟ş̴̙̦͇͍̫ ͟҉̤̦̱s͝҉̗̳̩̲͖͡h͙̗͔͎̤̦é͇̣̠̯͇ͅ?̶̰͔̯͖̭̘̹̲͜
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