"Alright gang, this has been Maya-chan! I've gotta get going. As you all know, Digimon World Online is coming out today and you know who is getting in at launch. I reaaaaaally wish I could I could stream it with you guys but you know how it goes. Game uses your real life appearance and that'd be trouble for me. But who knows, maybe we'll play with each other and not even realize it, that could be so fun! Let me know on my socials what you're planning to do with the game. I'll be talking about my experiences with it in upcoming streams just wont have much footage. Guess I'll have to come up with something. Maybe I can get Doki-kun to stream with me and we'll play the digimon card game while we talk about it! Oh there's so many things to do. You all know my stream times, if not it's down in the description along with my socials. Follow soon for exclusive signed merch, offer ends in two weeks! Keep it real and keep shining!"
Click. Stream ended.
"Uggggghhhhh" Came a moan as the face behind hit Vtuber Maya-Chan slumped back into her chair and planted her face down on her desk in front of her. Jeanne Sakamoto had just gotten done streaming for three hours and her day was only really just beginning. A thought crossed her mind why she was still doing this but the thought of disappointing so many fans seemed like more trouble than it was worth. She could see the social media threads over Maya-Chan leaving drama and the shit she'd have to go through the Vtuber company. Oh right them. A contract seemed like a pretty good reason to keep doing something too now that she thought about it. Before moping too much longer, Jeanne looked up from her den of depression to a clock to see she still had a scant few minutes before the DWO launch.
"Well Jeane, you came this far. Might as well not be late." the woman muttered with a huff as she hauled the box of goods needed to play the game onto her desk. Opening it, deciphering instructions and assembling was easier than she had anticipated but still more complicated than any game had a right to be, at least in her opinion. She was tired enough that if she could have put off logging in for a day or two she would have. But she knew she wouldn't last a half hour of not showing up without Shion blowing her up in every conceivable method of communication. "I can't wait for this super awesome game." She said with as little life as she could muster. "Gonna be the greatest thing ever-" she was cut off the by digitizing process.
'Logging in.....User.......Maya.......DIGILIZING NOW'
Never had Jeanne put much thought into what having her body deconstructed and turned into data would feel like. She figured it was just all overblown VR type stuff. But this was something else. But then all at once she was herself again just somewhere completely new. Somewhere that looked beautiful really. For a fake place in a game anyway. She was almost in awe until she was surrounded by other people all eagerly logging in for the first time. The starry-eyed masses quickly made her gut twist and turn. It wasn't like this was even the best graphics she'd ever seen in a game. Like sure she was actually in it but there were probably missing pixels or something.
The girl's focus was on the CEO of the game company, Kazuki Iwakiri, who welcomed them all to Asuka City. Jeanne took the opportunity to move away from the congested spawn point to take in the bright eyed corporate speak. A game changing the course of history. Like that had ever happened. Still, at least the man wasn't going to take all day to get to what everyone actually wanted. A device, primarily white with dark purple accents, along with a soot black egg appeared before Jeanne as so many similar pairs of objects did for every other player at Iwakiri's word. Without warning the egg began hatching, revealing a bizarre looking black ball of something with yellow eyes. A Botamon it was, which Jeanne would know if she bothered to look it up in the game's information. She definitely didn't already know all about it. Having to lug this thing around was going to be troublesome but it was almost cute enough to justify it. But the CEO wasn't done handing out presents as the creatures all began their first evolution on the spot. Gone was the ball of black fur and in it's place a ball of gray fur with long ears.
"Wait... is mine broken? How come mine didn't get arms or legs?" Jeanne voiced to no one in particular. This didn't seem to deter the creature though, who propped itself upright as much as a spherical creature could and puffed its non-existent chest.
"I'm Pagumon! It's an honor to meet so soon Jeanne." Pagumon said, doing what looked like its best attempt at a bow.
"So soon? Oh yeah didn't sign up all that lo- wait what?! Ah shit, I shoulda known they sold my data. Never use real names even when they ask for them, stupid!" She vented as Pagumon looked on concerned.
"Please don't be upset. I've been waiting eagerly to meet you. This should be a happy time." the digimon offered, its ears drooping.
"Aw c'mon Fido, dont start with that. I'm not mad at you, you didn't do anything." Jeanne responded, softening some. But Pagumon seemed peturbed.
"Fido? I'm Pagumon." it asserted in confusion.
"Yeah well you're like my dog now right, it's a nickname." the human offered in explanation.
"You were given an opportunity when signing up to nickname me, you should have done so there. I am Pagumon and that's that." the furball stated.
"You don't gotta be uptight about it." Jeanne said, clearly annoyed her new parter was such a stickler about these kinds of things. But there was no two ways about it. Jeanne kept calling Pagumon Fido and Pagumon continued to deny that was its name and demanded she address it properly if she wanted a reply. Still, Pagumon seemed overjoyed to be with Jeanne at all. As for Jeanne well, Pagumon was cute so it was lucky. The two left, Pagumon in Jeanne's arms as they talked some more. Jeanne explained she was looking for a friend and Pagumon suggested heading back to the spawn area as most players wouldn't have dispersed from there yet. A solid idea and one which the girl accepted. Now it was just a matter of looking for Shion. In a sea of faces. No problem there.
Actually it ws a lot easier than anticipated as something caught the girl's eye. A raincloud, a tiny one at that, isolated entirely to the space just above a single player's head. That alone required a good laugh but no sooner did the woman look to see the poor soul with their own storm cloud than did Jeanne see her own best friend, Shion. That was too much, the girl burst out laughing as she approached.
"Wow I really missed out on not pre-ordering huh?" she managed to get out when she stopped laughing enough to actually speak.
Shion knew that laugh. It had a distinct vibe of "wow, this sucks, and you probably suck for getting so into it." She'd recognize it anywhere, and while she'd normally turn and greet its owner with a smile, she was already in a bit of a sour mood. And so, sour expression fully intact, Shion turned, and greeted Jeanne back with a "Oh, shut it. This was the most not-terrible pre-order bonus; how was I supposed to know the damn thing would be bugged?"
"Wow, here I thought you were just trying to ruin the vibe for everyone on purpose. Was gonna be offended." Jeanne fired right back. At this point Pagumon interjected.
"You shouldn't be rude to your friend!" it said very earnestly which only got another chuckle out of Jeanne.
"We got every flavor of buzzkill here what'd I even sign in for?"
"To be a better buzzkill than them, obviously," Shion answered. "And maybe to try and find game-breaking exploits so you can kill the devs' good moods too. The CEO didn't seem all that happy that his collector's edition bonuses were bugged when I met him. All I could get to make up for it was some bits, though." Jeanne could only give a typical whistle to fake being impressed.
"CEO talking to nobodies huh? What an in touch and down to earth old guy. Be sure to threaten to refund if your... bonus here doesn't get fixed soon." Jeanne spoke, uncertain if she could call the endless raincloud a bonus with a straight face.
"I'll make sure to do that. Give the devs a week, and if I'm still getting rained on, threaten a refund. 11,000 yen for a bugged poncho I need to wear." Shion finished that thought with one of the driest, most sarcastic "Woohoo"s one would likely hear. "Oh, loosely related, do you want to hit up the shops before we check out what this game's got to offer? I've got a nice chunk of bits, and I'd like to pick up some extra..." Shion pointed up at the raincloud hovering over her. "Equipment." Jeanne feigned shock this time as she reeled backward dramatically placing a hand across her chest.
"Is it my birthday?" she teased. "Well far be it from me to deny charity in any mmo. And I'm not even being told to change my password to something specific must really be my lucky day. We'll get you fixed right up Miss Sunshine." Jeanne added to rub salt in the wound.
"Miss Sunshine, haha," Shion sighed, leaving an obviously fake laugh behind as she got up, and opened her map. A map which, to her great relief, was rather well-made. Everything was clear, labeled, zoom functions worked properly, it was by all means a very nice map. It was surprising how easy it was to botch a map system in these kinds of games, really.
After confirming the location of the nearest clothing store, Shion pointed in its general direction, said "That way," and started in that direction, gesturing for Pomumon and Jeanne to follow. She could feel the funny looks being sent her way. She didn't mind that, mostly. The ones she did mind were the ones from players with what she recognized as being other collector's pre-order bonuses. If she didn't know any better, she could have sworn one of them off-handedly commented how glad they were they didn't pick the poncho.
"For all the odds and ends in this thing's settings - it came with its own settings window, by the way - you'd think they would have checked that it can be switched off," Shion sighed. Jeanne for her part had been taking in the sights but more especially the people giving Shion funny looks. It was all she could do to not start laughing about the whole affair again.
"Well for all his happy vibes and bravado for us noobs you know that CEO guy has to be overworking his team to be doing well... this." Jeanne said while motioning with her arms to a vague nothing. "This turning people into data stuff's kinda wild. Dunno if I'd be impressed or worried for the employees health if there weren't some bugs here and there." She paused, an off-handed comment about a way better pre-order bonus getting a snicker from her.
"But hey, there's some positives to it all. Like how I'll never lose you in a crowd, or how I'll always have a conversation starter with everyone we meet 'cuz I can always just be like 'yeah that's me and my localized weather anomaly if you look closely you can see the rain is actually just the tears of all the disappointed pre-orderers". All said, I see this as an absolute win... you know, long as you aren't hugging me or anything." Jeanne added with a playful look of disgust. She did not intend to get wet simply be proximity to her best friend simply because said best friend wouldn't remove a cosmetic she didn't have to keep on. But then again Shion asserted she did have to keep it on and who was Jeanne to argue that? A foolish question really, Jeanne was never going to let it go.
"Well, at least one of us is having a good time with this. And that's exactly what I'm doing here." Ah yes. Here. The clothing shop.
The way Shion heard it, back when MMOs were not run through VR, the shop was generally just an NPC that you talked to, the list of items appeared, you traded in currency, and that was it. What a bore that sounded like, as if the shopkeep just had magical pockets containing their entire stock! Fortunately, those days were gone, and the shops of a VR MMO were at least a little more immersive.
You could interact with the shelves or boxes, or in this case the racks of clothing. You could pull an item out from the lists - organized lists based on what you were interacting with - and examine it before buying, or even try it on in the case of clothes and other equipment. Then, once you were ready to buy, you could just hit the purchase button, trade in your currency, and your better MMO shopping experience was concluded. Immersive, intuitive, ingenious.
"Say, since we're here and all, do us both a favor. Check around the place and try to pick up something for yourself." Pointing up above her head again, Shion added "Buy as if you were dealing with this instead of me. My treat. I'm gonna check the footwear and see about replacing my soaked shoes with something waterproof."
"My whatever do you mean? I can only see the smiling faces of my friends. I don't see glitches." Jeanne teased as she left to look into wet weather gear. As she perused lists of items, Pagumon couldn't help but speak up having been a largely silent listener in the conversation between the two girls.
"Are you two really friends?" it asked with an honesty and earnestness that might have made the woman choke had she been drinking something. Or staring up into her own personal raincloud. Crazy what not having one of those would do.
"That's a silly question." Jeanne asserted. Having a piece of data analyze her relationships seemed like a waste of time. What did robots and algorithms know about any of this?
"But you seem to always be bothering each other." Pagumon added, its ears drooping again.
"It's a girl thing, kinda hard to understand I know but it is what it is. If you wanna think we're friends that works fine. It is the easiest way to put things." Jeanne remarked coldly as she settled on a matching pair of umbrellas, each wildly plastered with the logo for DWO and several of the posterchild digimon.
"My god, they're hideous. Perfect." She said with an evil smirk. The redundancy of needing an umbrella while in a raincoat was going to drive Shion up a wall and Jeanne only wished she had a camera for it. "Let's go find our friends." Jeanne said to Pagumon who agreed happily.
Ken the hedgehog seemed to be a constant source of surprises as he redirected missiles and seemed intent on trusting this Chimera robot. It was like he almost didn't operate on the same logic Flurry knew the world worked on. Trying to process it too long was going to get him killed under the current circumstances except that the other robot seemed to be quickly meeting its end. The battle ended almost as abruptly as the lemur had been brought into all of it but what stood out most to him was another reading on the Chaos Tracker. That brief glimpse of the red jewel, it must have been similar to what Ken had on him. Regardless that was a subject of discussion for another time as the trio soon found themselves left with just Chimera who didn't seem particularly friendly at this point. Though he stopped shy of actually attacking them, offering them instead an explanation of where they were and a means off of it.
"Eggland? Robotnik? That stuff can't be real. All those old stories." Flurry muttered to himself while the group walked. He was lost in thoughts at this point, a stupor only interrupted by the amazing looking tech presented to the group in the form of the ship they were being offered as a means of getting home. But before the Lemur could explore the machiene at all, Chimera ceased operating in a spectacular fashion in a display of sparks. Ken wanted to fix him and Zane was on a good train of thought with immediately chilling the robot's everything. But as the wolf turned the question to him, Flurry couldn't help but hesitate.
"Look if this really is Eggland I dont think... I mean he was gonna... but I guess he didn't..." Flurry kept starting and stopping thoughts half way. Eventually he did settle on an idea as he brought out his computer which he'd been running for his life with. A blessing it was to still have it on hand as he doubted he could have done much with just the Chaos Tracker. With the chilled air in no short supply Flurry sat down by the pile of clutter that was just a moment ago Chimera and began directing the air with his own powers into the deeper parts of the robot, the head in particular as it seemed to be the source of the sparks. Outwardly there was no obvious way to go about this so the Lemur naturally began searching for panels to remove, buttons to press, switches to flip, or anything else of the sort. Eventually he was able to not so gently pry one of the boards protecting chimera's head open enough to find an access port which he linked his computer into.
"Lotta work for nothing if his motherboard's fried." Flurry muttered as the connection to the robot's coding was being established. A bizarre logo filled the computer screen, one that was plastered all over the island too upon closer inspection. And the usually cod-savy mobian was left with some of the most confusing coding he'd ever seen in his life. The language, style, structure all of it was off to him.
"Ohhhhh that's not good." He said, nearly defeated at just the sight of it all. "Well, I can't really break him anymore than he already is so... This one's for luck." He said as he began parsing through the code and trying things at near random. Several minutes of intense silence passed as Flurry made no remarks and responded to no questions asked of him. The moments dragged on for eternity before a breakthrough.
"Aha! Take that, the world makes sense again!" he celebrated. It was a minor victory but the beginnings of the code structure were beginning to click and navigating the information was becoming possible. And more than anything he needed a guide on how to put Chimera back together again. A sentient robot would surely have them sitting around somewhere in its databanks. Sure enough the lemur found schematic data and made that the focus of his screen.
"Well lookie here. We know how he's supposed to look. This is gonna be messy without the exact tools but see if you guys can't find something." Flurry stated, passing on the task of gathering improvised tools to Ken and Zane. With whatever they could muster gathered Flurry quickly had Chimera partly disassembled which seemed distinctly like a step in the wrong direction to the untrained eye. But things began moving in the right direction until the lemur encountered an obstacle. Trying to move Chimera's limbs with his motors completely inactive instead of idle was no small task and Flurry was no weight lifter. Thankfully, Ken seemed up to the task.
"Your job is gonna be to move pieces into the right places when I need them." he explained, keeping things as simple as he could. But then another road block. The burn out itself. Reassembling him perfectly wouldn't help much without new fuses. The lemur had to sit and think about this one for a moment while he poured over the coding some more. Eventually he was getting Chimera's systems to run diagnostics on the exact nature of the damage but it was going to take a bit to take full stock of everything.
"Well, playing the waiting game for a bit... so...." he started awkwardly with these two relative strangers. "Guess now's as good a time as any to ask you guys what you do with your time when you're not falling through portals and fighting robots."