It was morning in Planeptune, also known as the land of Purple Progress. Although it wasn't clear who was calling it such. Those people had a weird sense of humor.

One of IF's nine cell phones started ringing on her belt that was sporting several phone holsters. Like a cowboy in a cheap Western movie she drew her phone faster than her shadow could react and pressed the trigger… to take the call.

IF: "IF speaking. Who's-?"

Neptune: "Save me Iffy! HELP ME! It's horrible! IT awakened… right under our nose!"

IF: "Calm down Nep, I don't even-"

Neptune: "There is no time! She's already sniffing me out. Come and save me ASAP please, or we will get another doomsday! Game Over man…!"

IF: "Where are you even calling from?"

She put a hand on her face, knowing full well that Neptune was being overdramatic. Her voice sounded muffled and echoed a little, so IF had to wonder where she was at the moment.

Neptune: "I karate chopped myself into a broom closet or something, but this joints gonna blow soon, sistah! I can hear her already…"

???: "N-E-P-T-U-N-E!"

A rather furious voice was barely audible over the phone. IF couldn't recognize it with the interference.

Neptune: "Oh boy, this is not good. She's out for blood. My sweet strawberry flavored nep life juice! I don't wanna become a soft drink Iffyyyyyy!"

Some things fell into place now. IF's brow twitched for a second, before she took a small breath and replied...

IF: "Good luck Nep." her sweetest voice. And hung up.

Compa: "Was that Nep-Nep?"

Compa who had been putting some boxed lunches into a bag looked up from the kitchen counter. Question marks were basically appearing above her head. IF smiled mischievously and shrugged.

IF: "Looks like she can't make it today."

Compa: "Oh no… Is something wrong?"

IF: "Nothing unusual for that blockhead. Work caught up with her."

Compa: "I see. I can't help with complicated stuff."

IF: "The thought is what counts. Anyway, I promised you to take you to that Renaissance Fair today, so let's do it, even without Nep."

Compa: "Aww. But I packed lunch for three~"

IF: "I will eat as much of your food as you want. Can't let your work go to waste."

Compa: "That's really nice Iffy! Just don't get a tummy ache, okay?"

IF: "I know my limits."

She smiled wryly and patted her stomach. The young nurse giggled.

Compa: "Even if you get sick I will definitely nurse you back to health!"

Those cheerful words made IF's heart sink into her stomach. She hastily pretended to check up on her phone to avoid Compa's gaze. She had to avoid such a scary nursing event at all costs. It wasn't good for her heart.

But getting pampered by Compa didn't sound too bad.

IF: "What am I thinking?!"

Her head shook vehemently to snap her out of the fantasy. Compa looked worried. IF grabbed the bag that was placed on the counter and signaled Compa to follow behind her.

IF: "L-let's hurry a little. It will take us a few hours to Lowee."

Compa: "'kay!"

The duo left Compa's apartment together with an ever closing distance.

Beep beep beeeep.

The line had been cut. Neptune stared at her cell with white eyes.

Neptune: "Not cool Iffy."

This was an outrage! Who just dismisses an SOS like that? It was transmitted straight through her most urgent voice waves and yet Iffy would abandon her?

Neptune pouted and threw her phone against a pile of rags and mops. She didn't use that thing much in the first place, but Iffy had insisted that she needed one. And that's how she repaid Neptune's kindness in accepting her gift?

Neptune: "See if I care!"

???: "Neptune, I know you are in there."

Neptune: (I care a looooot! Please save me, someone!)

She suppressed her instincts to scream in fear as the door burst open. There was no way she would get devoured by this monstrosity now! With a flip that would have made trapeze artists jealous Nep jumped over her stalker and used the only opening to escape into the hallway.

In the open space she slid to a halt and looked for the best route of escape. Left from her was a big window, but it was too tough to break in an instant. Also it was on the 23rd level of the Planeptune Tower, so that would be quite a fall.

To the right was a long hallway with a door at its end. That was the door to the elevator!

Neptune: "Target lock on!"

Her sprint took her to the door in seconds while she could still hear the buzzing of her pursuer. She wouldn't be captured; not today!

Neptune: "C'mon, open up you big rust bucket!"

She pressed the elevator button roughly twenty times per second, as if the frequency had an effect on the travel speed. The numbers above told her that the elevator was almost there.


Neptune: "It's heeeeere!"

She pulled the doors open and jumped forward.

Neptune: "Bwaaagh?!"

Nepgear: "Goodness!"

The sisters crashed into each other with a loud bang and stars were flying all across Neptune's head. She connected with the floor unpleasantly and lost orientation.

No! She couldn't afford to recover her senses and organs right now. Just get up and press a button.


Strange. The button felt a lot softer and squishier than she remembered.

Neptune: "Nep Jr. you make a terribad elevator console."

Nepgear: "P-please stop poking me. I can't let you leave."

Neptune: "How could you say that? You don't betray family!"

Nepgear: "She… she said she will take my tools!"

Nepgear's eyes were tearing up. It was clearly not an easy decision for her.

Neptune: "I lost to a bunch of soulless objects?!"

She collapsed on the spot and fell to her knees in defeat. Nepgear looked appropriately guilty. And the buzzing caught up to them. Knowing her defeat was imminent Neptune just turned into a wooden plank and pretended to be dead. It worked on bears, right?

???: "Take her to the office Nepgear."

Nepgear: "I'm sorry, Sis…"

Neptune: "You can take my body, but you can never take my freeeeeedooooom!"

Neptune lost her freedom to a bunch of tight ropes and a very, very, very angry sermon. Unable to move a single finger she felt the true despair that not even the Deity of Sin could provide.

Histoire: "I am gone for three – measly – days! And this is what I have to see? You promised that you would not abandon your work while I was in maintenance mode."

Neptune: "I didn't try to skip work or anything!"

Histoire: "You didn't try to do it either! I am very disappointed in you Neptune. You were showing some improvements, so I was showing some leniency. Clearly I have made a mistake."

The small Oracle of Planeptune was floating on top of her grimoire as was standard for her. Her platinum blonde hair was flinging around as she continued her tirade and swung her tiny fists through the air.

This was what Neptune had meant by 'awakened'. She had obtained to her final form: Pissty!

Neptune's hollow eyes wandered across the room. They were pretty much the only part of her body she could still move, aside from her big mouth. Her eyes met those of Nepgear, who was standing behind the desk with a guilty expression. Using her patented Nep telepathy she begged her sister for help.

Nepgear: "H-Histoire… There are circumstances to this… and I did slack off too."

Histoire: "Yes I am disappointed in you as well Nepgear. You should have put Neptune on a tighter leash. I know that you did your work diligently, but you can't always pamper her."

Nepgear's support was shot down faster than a baseless objection in a certain star attorney game. Histy buzzed around Neptune's head and then her eyes were showing static. She was connecting to her database.

Histoire: "These 'circumstances' you mentioned are what worry me the most. Three days ago you took part in a PR event for Lastation. A quiz show it seems. And two days ago you participated in Lowee's Hunting Festival in the name of Lastation and completed hundreds of quests."

She put a finger to her head.

Histoire: "I never saw you this proactive about work before. And yet you use that drive to support Lastation instead of Planeptune? Our Shares didn't take a lot of damage, but Lastation has seen a big surge."

Neptune tilted her head as far as the ropes and chair would allow it and frowned.

Neptune: "I don't know nothin' about giving Lastation Shares. I just tried to win the competition."

Histoire: "I will look into the details later. For now you need to apologize to Noire and K-sha and stop this madness."

Histy sighed and lowered her grimoire down to the desk to let her legs touch ground. This whole affair was a big migraine to her.

Neptune: "I refuse!"

Those words made both Histy and Nepgear look up in shock. Neptune was bound and shackled, but her will wasn't wavering. She looked Histy in the eyes and rejected her.

Histoire: "But Neptune-"

Neptune: "I will do anything you ask! Even work! Just don't make me exit the contest yet. I can't give up."

There was so much… desperation in her voice. Histoire was surprised. She had figured it was just some nonsensical game Neptune had started for fun.

Histoire: "Why is it so important to you?"

The question made Neptune jerk back. Realization dawned on her face. With some effort she relaxed her muscles and gave a wry smile.

Neptune: "Ya know, it's all about pride and spoils! My honor as the main character is on the line. Even Blanc got her own title now, so this is getting dicey. At least Vert will neeever get a game."

Histy squinted at that pathetic reply. Neptune was a terrible liar sometimes and she could clearly see that she was avoiding the issue. Whether it was to deceive Histoire or herself was not clear. But that emotion… that determined spirit was real.

Histoire: "What is Noire's opinion on this?"

Neptune: "She's got nothing to complain about. Probably enjoys the attention."

Histoire: "I want you to confirm her feelings on the issue. And you promise me that you will take care of your work as well?"

Neptune's eye lit up in hope.

Neptune: "Of course! I'll stamp all those old papers and shred all the bills you could ever want!"

Nepgear: "It's the other way around…"

Histoire sighed. She really had a soft spot for Neptune that she could never quite get rid of. They had worked together too long. She could read Neptune's mood well enough to tell when she was serious or not. Although she had taken that promise before her maintenance too heavily at face value.

Histoire: "Fine. I will allow you to go, but do not cause another uproar. And please keep Planeptune's interests in mind when you participate in public events."

Neptune: "I swear on Nep Jr.'s entire robot collection."

Nepgear: "Eeeh?!"

Her eyes and mouth turned square shaped.

After getting untied and taking a shower Neptune returned to her room and dug through a pile of clothes. The stuff was flying everywhere, creating an even greater chaos inside the room than ever before.

Histoire: "What are you looking for?"

Neptune: "I need my spiffiest hoodie for the next challenge."

Nepgear: "So you are going to wear a hoodie anyway?"

Both Nepgear and Histoire didn't understand the importance of this choice. Neptune grabbed one of her prime outfits out of the muddled pile and held it above her head in a triumphant pose.

Neptune: "Tatata taa taaatataaa ~"

She even created her own treasure jingle.

Histoire: "Has the next event already been decided on?"

Neptune: "Well, we went through the three pillars of friendship already. Knowledge, Work and Massages!"

Nepgear: "One of these is not like the others."

Neptune: "So I made the suggestion to go for the most essential of all fundamentals that even the pillars stand on. The soil of friendship as they call it in the guide."

She was waiting for them to ask her about it, but silence filled the room. Neptune got impatient and finally burst out with it.

Neptune: "Having fun together! Fun Histy, F-U-N."

Histoire: "Why are you singling me out?"

Neptune: "There is no way I can lose at having fun. So we have a girls' night out today, just without the night part. I've been blackholed by K-shack's pace, but this is my distance. She will see that my left hook is nothing to sneeze at~"

She pulled the hoodie over her head and shoulders, then adjusted her fresh outfit. Next she put extra sleek looking gamepad hairclips into her purple hair.

Histoire: "She is certainly fired up for this."

Nepgear: "I'd have liked to come along, but I still have work to catch up on."

Histoire: "Please become Planeptune's CPU soon Nepgear."

Neptune: "You guys know I can sense your jabs to my fragile emotions from here, yes?"

The meeting place was the Planeptune primary train station. The nodal point of the metropolis. Noire was already waiting at the rendezvous point. Her outfit was slightly altered from what she was usually wearing. It was hard to describe beyond maybe… 'fancier'. And that is taking into consideration just how many ribbons and frills it already had before.

Her red eyes darted around the plaza with worry. Hopefully she wouldn't be recognized too fast. Even here in Planeptune people might know her human form by now. Official business had been performed in HDD in the past, but after the Gold Third crisis the people had seen their goddesses in human form all over the TV screens or in person.

Why was she even avoiding detection? Well, it wasn't prudent of Lastation's CPU to waste time in a foreign nation. It felt wrong.

Noire: "That Neptune… she is late."

They had agreed on this deal yesterday. If it had been something ridiculous again she would definitely have rejected the idea, but Neptune just wanted to show her something.

And now she was waiting for the small blob of cheerfulness that was 20 minutes overdue. She shouldn't have expected anything less of a scatterbrain like Neptune. Now she regretted not staying at her Basilicom to work instead. Uni had said she could take care of the leftovers from Noire's work rampage the day before yesterday.

Noire: "How dependable."

It made her smile.

Neptune: "Having fun already?"

Noire: "N-Neptune?!"

She jolted up from the wall she been leaning against as she heard the teasing voice right next to her ear. How did she manage to sneak up on her this easily? Putting one hand on her throbbing chest, she hastily regained her composure.

Neptune: "In the flesh, sugar and blood."

She winked.

Noire: "You're late."

Neptune: "Sowwy. Histy's evil twin, Pissty, had me tied up. Literally."

Noire: "I don't even want to know the details. So what did you want to show me? Why did we need to meet up at the train station?"

Neptune: "You wanna know? I will show you something… a good time that is!"

She flicked her fingers suavely. Noire turned around and left for the train back to Lastation.

Neptune: "Waaaaait! Don't give me the ice queen response!"

Planeptune's goddess literally jumped after her companion and grabbed her by the ankles. She was dragged behind for a bit until Noire stopped. Seeing Neptune go this far was just too pathetic… she couldn't be that cruel.

Noire: "Explain. You have thirty seconds."

Neptune: "Neppu?! It's just a girl's night out… during the day! So we are gonna have a bunch of fun. I got you booked for the first half of the day and K-shark for the second half... Please don't drag me across the train tracks."

Noire: "I wouldn't have to if you let go of my ankles already."

Neptune: "Come on it will be fun. Just us two girls, bonding over laughter and expensive vanities~"

Noire: "You know that's what people call a date, right?!"

Neptune: "Jeez Nowa. You have all kinds of ulterior motives, don't ya?"

The twintailed goddess' right eye twitched before she stomped on Neptune's back and made her loosen her grip.

Neptune: "They say… owie… a physical relationship shows intimacy or whatever… ouch."

Noire: "Oh shut it already."

She stopped her counterattack and sighed. Neptune was stubborn. Too stubborn. And she actually wanted to go out and have fun with a friend for a long time already. There were those few times she 'coincidentally' met with K-sha outside of school and work. But she wasn't sure if that counted.

Neptune: "So you agree?"

Noire: "I would feel bad for K-sha if I declined now."

She mumbled an excuse and nodded.

Neptune: "That's great. By the end you can decide who you had more fun with and that will determine the winner. Easy peasy, right?"

Noire: (I'm supposed to decide who I had more fun with?)

She rued the moment of truth that would come later. She shouldn't have agreed to this so easily, but the idea of going out as friends… it had made her blank out at the worst moment.

Noire: "I can't believe I 'm wasting time on this."

Neptune: "You don't have work piled up again, right?"

Noire: "You are the last person who should open her mouth about that. Uni is watching over Lastation today. It's all part of her growth as a CPU Candidate."

Neptune: "Y-yep! The same goes for Nepgear."

She whistled innocently.


Uni was sitting at her sister's desk with a feeling of importance. This was the unchartered land of responsibility. Even when Noire had been captured in the Gamindustri Graveyard for three years, Uni had never sat down here. It was like the gate to a new world.

N-naturally she wasn't bad at paperwork anymore. She could totally keep up with her sister if it was just that. Now that Kei wasn't here to admonish her either, she could truly spread her wings.

Uni: "L-let's do it!"

She grabbed the first pile in front of her and pulled it over. It immediately keeled over and spread all over the floor. What an awful start.

While hunching over to pick up the fallen files she noticed something peculiar. It was the bag with stapled papers that Noire had taken with her in Lowee. Uni raised a brow. Those should have been on the 'finished' pile already, no?

With tender touch she picked up the bag and took out a few of the papers.

Uni: "Voice Actor application form."

She read out loud.

Uni: "Oh."

Waaaaait a minute! So that really wasn't work related at all? She had been secretly working on these forms for VA jobs on the side? And she didn't even hide them in a safe. Too careless!

Uni: "Wait that's wrong too."

In the first place Uni shouldn't have peeked. Her cheeks turned red from shame.

K-sha: "Uni? Are you taking over for Noire today?"

Uni: "Kyaaah!"

In reflex she threw the bag into a corner of the room and began sweating buckets. K-sha was a master at sneaking up on people.

K-sha: "?"

Only she hadn't even sneaked in. She had very openly moved about and even knocked. Uni's face sank on the desk.

Uni: "I'm working here today. What are you still doing here?"

K-sha: "I was just making preparations for my date with Noire."

She put both hands on her cheeks and giggled in anticipation. Uni frowned.

Uni: "Don't call it a date."

K-sha: "Is it not?"

Uni: (You're asking me?)

Noire would definitely deny it, so Uni did the same. Wasn't this competition about being friends?

K-sha: "Please excuse me then. I need to get tickets now."

Her black hair swayed behind as she jogged out of the room and down the stairs. Uni looked after her with a questioning expression.


The CPU duo made their way along Planeptune's clean and busy streets. It was still morning, but the work commute was already in full swing. Noire was taking a good look at her rivaling nation. She had been here so many times, but she always was astounded at how clean and bright this place was.

Lastation wasn't dark and gloomy or anything, but it had this industrial flair going for it, that Planeptune's tranquil parks stood so very opposed to.

Neptune: "So what do you wanna do?"

Noire: "You're asking me?!"

There was no planning ahead involved from Neptune's side. Honestly, that was just like her though. She liked to go with the flow. Noire was the type of partner who would plan the whole day ahead of time, but without preparations she was useless too.

Neptune: "Hey look, I spy with my little eyes… a spectacular Arcade!"

She waved Noire over and blitzed to the neon sign that designated this as the local Arcade. It was open early. She once heard some throwaway ad line about Planeptune's Arcades. 'The business that never sleeps.' 24 hour services for a gaming place… it wasn't impossible in Gamindustri.

They entered together and were immediately greeted by the wafting smell of sweet drinks, hot machinery and moving dust. The place was huge and went down into the basement level. Machines of all genres were put in rows at every wall.

Neptune: "Should we take it to the moon or the bone breaking circuit?"

Noire translated it in her head. Shoot 'em ups or fighting games. She cupped her chin and thought about it.

Neptune: "I want revenge for that last time when you cheated your way to victory."

She cracked her knuckles.

Noire: "Then we won't play an arcade shooter. I wanted to test the new street fighting game anyway."

Her grin at Neptune's dejection was well earned.

Neptune: "I hear ya. Co-op is a bad idea. Real warriors let their fists speak! Or other various weapons that would be illegal in any true fighting tournament."

The new arcade machines were sporting a huge logo of an incredibly famous fighting game series. If they wanted to engage in an old-fashioned versus match they would just have to stand next to each other and work the joysticks and buttons.

Noire: "Don't feel too bad about your impending loss. As long as it concerns controls nobody is superior to me."

She boasted with one eye closed.

Neptune: "I might not have downloaded all the fancy combos to my brain, but don't underestimate the underdog. I slaved away at this arcade for the last three months to get the high score."

Noire: "You really never work, eh?"

Neptune's forced frozen grin only made her look guiltier. She swiped the accusations away and stretched her fingers in preparation.

Noire: "So will we rotate with the credits?"

Neptune: "Ah, about that. My allowance is in peril right now for reasons I can't elaborate on."

Might it have been connected to three months of going to this arcade?

Neptune: "But don't worry. The Arcade owner said I can play for free, because I saved the world a few times."

Noire shook her head and pushed the first credit into the machine. Like hell she would let a fellow CPU mooch off of her citizens.

The character selection screen booted up and they both picked their mains. Neptune was playing the small agile girl character, which for some reason was allowed to fight huge burly men one on one. Noire picked her fencer character. A stylish looking man with a rapier that put focus on mid ranged moves.

Machine: "It's a Fight! Ready, Steady… Go!"

A furious button mashing competition began. Neptune was using her best move over and over, while Noire tried to get in range for a good combo. Their skill level was surprisingly even, considering their completely opposite playstyles.

They were right next to each other, so every big move made their arms and shoulders brush against each other. But neither of them paid attention to that, completely absorbed into the match.

After several matches they were still in a tie. It became clear that they would not gain an advantage over the other with their mains. For variety's sake they decided to switch characters. Unlike Neptune however, Noire never played another character, so she was completely clueless.

Noire: "How does this combo work?"

She grumbled while trying to chain a few moves together. It wasn't looking like she would do too well with this axe user. This rough play style was more befitting of Blanc.

Neptune: "You gotta do quarter circles into 360°s!"

Her arm moved over to Noire's side and she hammered the low kick button. First Noire was taken aback, but then she followed Neptune's instruction. She managed a command grab. Afterwards she immediately failed the follow up though.

Neptune: "Nonono! Swing it, don't wing it. Gimme those clumsy fingers."

She grabbed Noire's hands and moved them through the controls fluidly. Neptune explained the moves to her and demonstrated them simultaneously. The warmth from her sweaty fingers was spreading through Noire's hands.

Neptune: "Got it? This is my second main, so I'd be crying if I see you fail that hard with him!"

Noire: "Eh? Erm…. R-right. Thanks."

For some reason she had been very distracted during Neptune's tutorial. Her hands had remembered the moves through muscle memory, so her spacey mind wasn't going to ruin her chances.

Her hands didn't just remember the inputs though.

Noire: "P-prepare yourself Neptune! You will regret teaching your enemy!"

Neptune: "It's because you always spout low tier villain dialogue like this that you lose."

The final determining round of fate began!

Machine: "It's a fight! Ready, Steady…. GooooOOOooooooofrzghz…"

Sparks were flying out of the machine.

Noire: "That's not some new feature, is it?"

Neptune: "Features don't crash games."

They both nodded melancholically at the frozen screen and the vibrating machine. There was smoke coming out of it too, huh?

Neptune: "Stupid silly machinations of man! Technology will never stop me or whatever!"

She gave the arcade machine an energetic kick in the lower metal parts. Another slap on the side of the screen followed. Neptune was on a rampage.

Noire: "Stop it, idiot! You are going to break it completely."

Neptune: "It's fine, a headstrong approach is normal for Planeptune tech!"

Another heartfelt kick created a weird sound and the machine sprung back to life. It booted up a little slower than before, but it worked.

Noire noticed a sign next to the machine that read:

[Kick the machine if it acts up.]

Noire: (I don't know how to feel about this.)

Bang! Clang. Riiing.

From close-by more demolishing sounds could be heard. They weren't game audio either. Nep and Noire stretched their heads to the side and witnessed something interesting.

Tekken was slamming her half-covered fists against the arcade machines, making them spring back to life one after another. She made cute noises on each attack. Her low voice really stood in stark contrast to her appearance. It seemed like she could have been one of those fighting game characters herself as long as she stayed silent.

In the middle of another double punch combo she froze and turned her head. She had noticed their auras apparently. Knowing that she was being watched while 'repairing' the machines, she blushed intensely and hid her face behind her fists.

Neptune: "I noticed it already, because of my time here. Seems Tekken is doing this to arcade machines all over Gamindustri to improve her fighting prowess."

Noire: "Is that supposed to improve her physical ability or her gaming prowess? Either way it's stupid."

Tekken: "Hauuuu…"

Neptune: "Aw shucks… The score reset."

She pointed at their own revived screen. Noire seemed disappointed too. There was no reason to keep going then.

Noire: "Maybe we should go somewhere else. My fingers are a little tired."

Neptune: "Lead away, my mistress!"

Noire: "Don't give me weird nicknames!"

The pair left the Arcade with more or less satisfied faces. A tie wasn't so bad once in a while. On to the next stage of their date!

Noire: "It's not a date!"


Tekken: "Ouuhh… My hands hurt… but that's kind of nice too… Eh? M-me?"

She peeked over her protective fists.

Tekken: "What was it again? Same Nep… R-right! Same Nep hour, same Nep channel. W-wait, am I on TV? Oh no, everyone saw my embarrassing side…!"

To be continued


About the author


Bio: I write stories sometimes.

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