Evening. The sun was setting at the horizon once again, letting the night embrace the world with a soft dark sky. Noire was back on her feet after her rest inside the ominous 'Love Tunnel'. Her composure had returned and the color found its way back on her pretty face. When she woke up she had been sitting upright in the boat and felt unexpectedly refreshed. When they left, K-sha had been insistent on rushing out without looking at the photo booth that was located right in front of the exit.
Noire: "I'm sorry. I seem to have blacked out. For some reason… I can barely remember the last few hours."
She said while holding her head with one hand. It was regrettable, but she had to be truthful about it. Even if K-sha would be disappointed. But in a strange turn of events K-sha simply nodded and acted as if nothing happened.
K-sha: "We went through aaaall the rides now."
Noire believed her, although her memories of those rides were fuzzy at best.
K-sha: "Then for the final event in our tour…"
Noire: "There's more?!"
K-sha: "You will be so surprised to hear this, but there is supposed to be a 5pb. concert in this park today! We should totally go there together."
Her excitement and pride in having planned this surprise for her made Noire smile. She accepted K-sha's proposal easily.
Noire: "It's been a while since I last was at a concert as part of the audience."
The big stage was already lit and an intense crowd of fans had gathered below it. Indubitably many of these people were 5pb. fans that had bought an entrance ticket to the theme park just to see their idol sing. They had their glow sticks ready and were all awaiting her with anticipation.
It was too crowded to really get a good look at the stage though from where Noire was standing. They were apparently too late to get good spots to stand in. Knowing these kinds of large scale events, the best spots had probably been blocked hours ago.
K-sha: "Aww… I can't see Miss 5pb. from here."
Her disappointment was apparent.
Noire: "You listen to her music?"
She asked casually. Seeing K-sha have an interest in something so normal was piquing her curiosity. The high school girl nodded.
K-sha: "I think her songs are amazing. And so romantic!"
K-sha: "Yes! I always imagine that I am the princess in her songs."
That… was adorable. And very much unexpected. Her eyes seemed to look at a distant fairy tale that awaited her in an alternate dimension.
K-sha: "And Noire is the prince~"
Noire: "Ah… Figures."
There was the catch. She laughed hollowly. A bolt of inspiration suddenly hit her friend from out of nowhere.
K-sha: "You told me before that you know Miss 5pb. personally, right?!"
She was getting way too close to Noire's face while approaching her with an inquisitive expression. Noire leaned back in response.
Noire: "I suppose so. She came with us on some of our travels around Gamindustri. Her songs have an… empowering effect."
As in actual physical buffs. It was some type of musical magic. Noire actually knew 5pb. a little better due to other reasons, but she didn't think it was necessary to mention them right now. Or ever.
K-sha: "We can walk in backstage then through your connections! Meeting a famous songstress like Miss 5pb. is every high school girl's dream."
Noire tilted her head; she was truly seeing all kinds of new sides of K-sha today. But she could never refuse those puppy dog eyes.
Noire: "I can't promise anything."
She added preemptively while they took a curve around the cramped audience platform. The performance was supposed to start in mere minutes according to the pamphlet she had in her hands, so they had to hurry up. When they reached the backstage area they were blocked by a big chain and an equally steeled looking security guard. The man was at least towering two meters above the floor and had a huge red Mohawk. His eyes were covered with sunglasses, but even so they could feel that he was checking them out. His arms were crossed dismissively.
All this aside, it was just good to see that they had finally hired some security at all. Concerts in Gamindustri had a tendency to get attacked by random monster hordes for some reason every time the CPUs appeared. Especially when idols were involved.
Guard: "You cannot pass ladies. Do you have any clearance for this area?"
K-sha: "It's okay, Noire knows Miss 5pb. personally!"
Noire facepalmed and the guard seemed to be stunned by that innocent response. Then he laughed with his raspy voice. Clearly he didn't have much experience with that emotion.
Of course that wouldn't work. It would be pointless to hire a guard if they would just accept anyone in based on such a suspicious claim. Noire knew that much, but it was also rude to call the idol out to confirm their claim right now…
5pb.: "Noooo! My Bimmy Kendrix style guitar is gone!"
They could hear the panicked cry of a certain blue haired singer from behind the chains and the hallway. The guard turned around to see 5pb. running all over the place, looking into every nook and cranny. She seemed completely out of it.
K-sha: "There she is. She can vouch for us then."
Noire: "No, she is clearly busy. We shouldn't bother her."
She had a bad feeling about this.
5pb. looked up from one of the lockers and spotted them. In a flash she came running over and just walked past the disgruntled guard and the chains.
5pb.: "Lady Noire! It's terrible, my guitar… my precious guitar…!"
There were tears gathering in the corners of her eyes already and her pupils resembled electrical synthesizer sound spikes. Yes, she was definitely upset. Noire was taken aback, but then raised her hands placatory.
Noire: "Please calm down. Just tell us what happened first."
5pb.: "R-right. I was traveling around for my concert tour across the land with Cave. And I also brought my most prized possession with me. My Bimmy Kendrix original model guitar. I… I got it at a special auction and it was really expensive and it makes the best sound in the world andandand…!"
Noire: "Deep breathes. So where did you last see it?"
5pb.: "I definitely put it on the table before the concert starts. I only took my eyes off it for a few seconds to get my mic. Then when I turned back it suddenly disappeared!"
K-sha: "A thief perhaps?"
Noire: "By the way, where is Cave right now? This seems like her métier. She's your personal bodyguard or something along those lines, right?"
The songstress nodded and explained the situation.
5pb.: "Cave is currently out to hunt down a stalker. She said someone has been watching me from the shadows for a while now. So she went to exterminate that person."
Noire: (No mercy, huh?)
Noire cupped her chin and closed one eye. There was not much they could do at this moment. The performance would start basically now.
Noire: "Shouldn't you use a spare guitar for the time being? I am sure there are some prepared for the performers."
5pb.: "Y-yes we have some extra guitars in the back, but nothing comes close to the perfect sound of my darling… I taught you, Lady Noire, instruments have souls too."
She was desperate just because of a guitar. Noire coughed and played it cool.
Noire: "Obviously I understand that much."
Actually she had no idea what that was supposed to mean! 5pb.'s explanations were kind of hard to follow when it came to the spirit of music and stuff like that.
K-sha: "But what are we supposed to do the-"
That's when something grazed the edge of the girls' vision. They all looked after the red and blue streak in different states of shock. 5pb. was the first to open her mouth.
5pb.: "Ooooohh! That's it! That's my guitar! Waaaaait don't fly away!"
Indeed the guitar in question was floating above the ground, across the alley. It was swinging back and forth like a pendulum, before suddenly flying out of sight. 5pb. immediately blindly sprinted after it with a meek yell.
Noire: "Hey wait, hold up! You can't just leave the concert!"
5pb.: "I'll be right back. Could you please take care of things until I return?!"
5pb. replied over her shoulder and kept running.
Noire: "Excuse me?!"
Noire looked like a fish out of water. Her eyes turned white.
K-sha: "What does she mean by that?"
Noire was nervous. She had been taking guitar lessons from 5pb. in secret. It had improved her music quite a bit and she secretly held a concert before as a debut opening act… but this was different. This was a 5pb. concert. Rabid fans would not put up with her for long. She had also not brought a cosplay outfit to hide her identity! K-sha's eyes glinted for a moment as she realized what was going on. She raised her hands excitedly.
K-sha: "Noire's music… I want to hear it! Rock the house, you are a goddess, there is nothing you can't do!"
It was times like these that Noire regretted her motto. She felt backed against a wall.
Guard: "Uhm… I don't know what just happened, but I have to chase after Miss 5pb. So whatever you can do to keep those people out there pacified for a while would be highly appreciated."
They had totally forgotten about Mohawk man already. And now he ran after 5pb. and left her with those irresponsible words too?! Even if he begged her, this wasn't just a small errand!
Noire: "F-fine! This isn't even challenging for me. I only do everything."
For now bravado would have to substitute for self-confidence and keep her afloat. A cornered beast was the strongest after all. The hot air in her body was pushing her into the changing room. Not far behind, K-sha followed while whistling joyfully. At least one of them was happy with this development. If Noire had been just half as giddy about it as her, she might be able to go out there undisguised.
K-sha: "I will definitely cheer you on from the backstage!"
Noire: "You're not… going to join me on stage perchance…?"
She trailed off nervously.
K-sha: "Hm? I'm just a plain girl with no talents. I would just get in your way."
It was not like she was trying to belittle herself. The red dressed girl seemed to be completely accepting of her limited abilities. Her expectations for Noire on the other hand stood in undue contrast.
The raven haired girl rubbed her forehead. It was stressful, but she could handle the limelight. The problem was that it would be weird for Lastation's CPU to appear on a 5pb. concert in Planeptune!
She spotted something that might've help her. A pair of star shaped pink sunglasses and a blue wig. Luckily her dress for today was already something stage worthy.
Noire: "How do I look?"
She asked after putting the new disguise on. For better effect she posed a little. K-sha's eyes turned literally heart shaped and unrecognizable sounds left her mouth. Well, that was a compliment in a way.
Noire took a deep breath and grabbed a microphone from the equipment lockers.
K-sha: "Do you know any songs?"
Noire: "I have been holding this one back for a while. It's called 'With Confidence'."
A song that was close to her heart.
K-sha: "I will take so many photos of you out there~"
Noire: "Wouldn't those be all from the back then?"
K-sha: "So? Every part of Noire is perfection."
Her heart wacered for a second. This girl really needed to learn some restraint. Saying things like that with a serious face wasn't fair. Noire sighed and left for the stage to face the impatient fans outside.
Meanwhile outside. Not too far from the troubled Noire, a group of carefree girls was leisurely strolling through the evening drenched park. Neptune, RED and Marvy were lazily walking along the stage and the audience platform. They had been enjoying their time together ever since Neptune had given up on her chase.
RED: "Do you want to go watch my idol wifey in action?"
The question came out of nowhere, but that was very much like RED.
Neptune: "I'm kinda pooped right now. The old bones are rattling and stuff."
The child-sized goddess put her arms behind her head and yawned. The only reason she was still around was to wait for Noire's date to end, so she could get the results.
Marvy: "That's good timing then. 5pb.'s music is very invigorating."
She pointed out with a raised finger. Neptune slammed her left fist on her right palm.
Neptune: "That's true! Let's pep this Nep up with some 5pb. dubstep."
Marvy: "Does she perform that kind of music?"
Neptune: "Ehhh, probably? Electro-techno sparky music is all the same to my ears."
RED: "Neptune's music sense is dead?"
Neptune: "Hold that katana like tongue for a sec, I am not tone deaf! I was an idol in an alternate dimension once. Got all the Shares, better believe it!"
Marvy: "Weren't your competitors a bunch of monsters turned Idol?"
Neptune deflated in place and avoided a reply.
RED: "I want a wifey idol group too."
Neptune: "Weeell I did team up with the others at one point, but it was mainly my angelic voice that did them in."
If Neptune had raised her nose any higher in pride, she might have broken her neck.
As they joined the huge crowd in front of the stage they noticed some unrest. The rabid fans were not cheering at all. In fact quite a few of them were yelling disapprovingly.
Neptune: "What's the matter? Did our super idol get a sore throat or somethin'?"
Noire: "Good evening everyone. I am sorry to say this on such short notice, but Miss 5pb. is currently unavailable. She will return soon, but until then I will be your host."
Nep and friends all fell dead silent. Slowly and creakingly Neptune turned her head towards the others.
Neptune: "Haha… maybe my ears are totally kaput after all. I could swear that was the voice of…"
Noire: "You could call me the warm up act I guess. My name is… uhm…"
Neptune: "Don't stumble at your own name!"
Noire: "…Onyx Heart. I am not very famous yet, but I am confident in my voice."
Neptune: "Why such an obvious name, you big doofus?!"
Marvy: "Neptune can be a little hypocritical sometimes, hm?"
RED: "That's a charm point for any good wifey."
The audience reacted less than pleased. Many a fan booed or demanded 5pb.'s presence. Noire didn't seem to notice though, as she started the background music and strutted her guitar carefully. The light blue wig fit her surprisingly well. She was still wearing it as twintails. Even with those tacky star shaped sunglasses her face wasn't that hidden. One had to be an absolute moron not to recognize her.
Fanclub Captain: "Who is this nobody?! We want 5pb.! 5pb.!"
The leader of the 5pb. fanclub was one of the loudest protestors. He and his brigade of Otakus were positioned centrally in the audience. They were all wearing matching outfits, almost like some sort of uniform. Glow stick headbands and cheering paper fans were their prominent features. The captain himself had a shaved head and round glasses that reflected the light. He yelled with every intention to outdo the boom boxes surrounding the stage that were blaring the music.
Noire: "The name of the song is: 'With confidence!', please enjoy!"
Her lips closed in on the mic and she began her song softly. The sweet voice echoed across the stage and park.
Marvy: "Miss Noire has a beautiful voice. She really carries herself well."
RED: "As expected of my CPU wifey."
Neptune: "That song, huh?"
Neptune crossed her arms and listened to it with her eyes closed.
Marvy: "You know it?"
Neptune: "This ain't my first co-Noire-cert. She usually pushes that song out only when she's tryin' to knock the audience out of the park. Pun totally intended."
Or in other words, it was the best she had in her repertoire. To use it from the start meant she was not confident. Which was an interesting contradiction to its lyrics.
FC Vice-Captain: "She doesn't sound too bad…"
FC Captain: "What are you saying idiot?! Compared to our goddess, 5pb.'s songs, this is trash!"
Otaku 1: "When did Lady 5pb. start her own nation and ascend to divinity…?"
FC Captain: "Stop nit-picking and start booing you worthless worms!"
Indeed, there was quite some tumult among the people. Some were just confused or disappointed, while others were getting enthralled. But the 5pb. corps was going mad. They were throwing up their red glow sticks and booing loudly. Neptune felt an uncomfortable heat rise up her neck when she saw that. She had no idea why Noire was on stage, but she knew that she was doing her best. An ungrateful audience was like a kid that spits out glorious pudding!
Swish! The air was cut by an object and with a silent cry one of the protesting fans suddenly stiffened up and ceased moving. Neptune's group moved around to see what happened. The young man was struck by a small dart in the shoulder. One of his pals waved a hand in front of his face, but there was no reaction.
Otaku 2: "He's completely out of it boss!"
FC Captain: "Paralysis?!"
Otaku 3: "Gyaaah!"
Another member was struck.
FC Captain: "Shit, it's a sniper! Get cover!"
The boss yelled as his subordinates left and right were frozen in time by more darts.
Neptune: "I can kinda guess who's dealing this status ailment rain."
After all Neptune had almost fallen victim to this herself a few days ago. Wherever the female sniper was hiding, she was making short work of the naysayers.
The desperate bunch finally pulled out their hugging pillow shields now! All of them were of course 5pb. versions. They blocked the incoming darts quite well with their squishy folds. But the vice-captain was showered in several darts without any protection.
FC Captain: "Why brother?! Why did you not use protection?!"
FC Vice-Captain: "I couldn't bear…. To see… Lady 5pb. harmed… even if it is just her image…"
He said with a pained smile and collapsed in his brother's arms.
FC Captain: "BROOOO!"
The leader cried out in anguish. He grasped his brother's hand and shed a single manly tear.
FC Captain: "You will regret this…. I swear you will regret this Onyx Heart!"
Otaku 2: "I don't think it was her. She's singing in plain sight…"
FC Captain: "Shut up fool! She is the witch that took our goddesses' place! Destroy her!"
That was a little melodramatic. The Otaku army drew their worst weapons… empty bottles and rotten fruit!
FC Captain: "Prepare… ready… THROW!"
And like the burning arrows of old, the bottles were shining in the night sky (due to reflecting the light show). Even K-sha didn't manage to shoot them all down in time.
Swoosh! With an explosion, that for one second surpassed the music, the bottles and fruit burned in the sky long before reaching the stage. They resembled fireworks now. In an instant Neptune, RED and Marvy had shot their projectiles to take them all down. RED had used her discs, while Marvy had thrown ninja stars and Neptune had used her 8-bit blades.
FC Captain: "What the-? M-more heretics?"
The leader got thrown off balance for a moment and was then surrounded by the cries of his comrades who were shot with darts from every direction. K-sha had turned into some kind of machine like phantom and was now almost teleporting across the roofs around to shoot them from every angle. A stray dart hit the leader in the back.
K-sha: "It's over."
K-sha whispered and stopped in her tracks on top of a close-by food hut.
FC Captain: "Ghgn…. Haha…. Hahaha…. UWOOOOOOH!"
Suddenly the glasses wearing Otaku leader screamed. With sheer willpower he overcame the paralyzing effects of the poison!
FC Captain: "For our lady… 5pb…. and in the name… of my fallen comrades… I will never accept this worthless song! We have our own pride! And we won't be pushed aside to listen to some second rate newbie singer!"
From the corpse (not actually dead tho) of his brother he pulled a last weapon. A megaphone. He inhaled and then roared his message across the still undecided audience.
FC Captain: "WE WANT 5PB.! GO AWAY YOU UNTALENTED HACK! 5PB.! 5PB.!"
He kept ranting as he was hit by dart after dart. Eventually he went down on his knees, but he kept resisting. The audience actually followed with his mood swing and started getting rebellious. They were being rallied into an unreasonable rage.
As if in her own world Noire just kept singing. She bore all the negative feedback and continued on…
K-sha: "Die already."
K-sha's eyes turned cold and she pulled out life rounds. She wouldn't allow this self-important freak to bother her Noire any longer. Yet she hesitated. Noire would get angry with her if she injured these people.
And it had already escalated too far. With the audience this riled up she couldn't salvage the situation. Her support from the dark was useless…
K-sha: "This is not what I wanted… I have to fix it. 5pb. needs to be retrieved. He has to stop his distraction!"
She bit her lip and dashed off into an alley behind the stage, into the darkness.
Teenage boy: "N-nobody wants you!"
Otaku 4: "Onyx Heart? Never heard of you!"
Young woman: "This song is totally not as great as Dimension Tripper."
Old man: "Go away already you blue haired tramp!"
The crowd's words were escalating. Even those that were not intending to be negative had become quiet due to peer pressure. Noire wouldn't be able to sing against this much longer. It was impossible to tell how she must have felt. Like being surrounded by a mob in a witch trial. Being cornered more and more and engulfed by the hatred of strangers…
With an overly flashy impact someone landed in front of Noire. It was a purple haired girl performing the 'hero landing' pose. That one is really hard on the knees.
Noire stopped her song in shock and looked at the small girl that had taken everybody's attention.
Neptune: "Why hello there! Fancy meeting you on this stage!"
Neptune sprung up like a jack-in-the-box and grabbed Noire's microphone.
She even made the sound effect herself.
Neptune: "What's up people of Planeptuuuuuune?"
She exclaimed cheerfully and raised her fist to the starry sky. The audience was even more confused than before.
Woman: "L-Lady Neptune?"
Young man: "Is that Purple Heart!?"
Otaku 5: "What is she doing here?"
Neptune: "You're probably wonderin' what's going on. Who is this H*tsune M*ku rip-off? And where the nep is 5pb.?"
The audience went completely silent. Neptune had this uncanny ability to suck all seriousness out of a situation.
Neptune: "Well the truth is I asked her to let her take stage first."
She pointed at Noire behind her with her thumb.
Neptune: "It's like this… ya know…"
Neptune was trailing off for some reason. After a few seconds of silence she finally seemed to have found her determination and announced loud and clear for everyone to hear.
Neptune: "This is my best friend in the whole world: No-wa-ru!"
Marvy: "So much for the Onyx Heart cover."
Neptune: "And she's mad crazy talented, so I wanted her to have some spotlight! It's all my doing, the planner, schemer extraordinaire, Nep 'Mastermind' Tune!"
Aside from completely having blown any shred of logic away, those words hit Noire unprepared. Not because Neptune took the blame for something, that was normal for her (because she usually was to blame), but rather because of her announcement to the whole audience… that she was her Best Friend. It was strange to think about it, but despite this whole contest thing, despite her acting so close… Neptune hadn't even once called Noire her friend directly. It was always just some line about how she is going to become this and that to win. This was… the first time Neptune had straight up admitted that she saw Noire as that. And despite grinning like an airhead like usual, she could see that Neptune's cheeks were slightly red and her eyebrows furrowed. This couldn't have been easy for her. All these years of uncertainty and vague feelings were just pushed aside in such a grand fashion…
The currently blue haired CPU felt goose bumps run down her back.
Neptune: "So how about it? Let's all have a big concert together and good ol' 5pb. will come around later to finish you all off! How's that sound?!"
Neptune raised the mic and put one hand to her ear to hear their answer. The fans and Otakus were all still confused, but Neptune was popular in her own country. There were many people from other nations, but still the majority here were Planeptune citizens. With Neptune joining the fray, their mood shifted.
???: "Dance for us Lady Neptune!"
A voice that most definitely was Marvy's in disguise came from the masses. And then more and more people joined in and cheered.
Neptune: "Hehe, I've been waiting to bust some moves."
She laughed and threw the mic back at Noire.
Neptune: "Let's do it, amigo!"
Her friend looked back at her with slightly moist eyes.
Noire: "At least say my name right when you make such a stupid announcement."
She retorted happily and blinked to push the moistness away.
Neptune: "It's not Rie Tanaka's fault. Foreign words are hard to pronounce!"
Noire: "You know 'Noire' is a foreign word for Melissa Fahn too, right? She can pronounce it just fine."
They both giggled.
IF: "Oh for goddess sake, could you two stop breaking the 4th wall already?"
And out of nowhere IF appeared! Accompanied by Compa.
Neptune: "What the what?!"
Nep was surprised. After being blown off this morning by her, Iffy suddenly made her cool return?!
IF: "I could hear your painfully loud voice all the way to Lowee. So that's why I came to see your equally noisy face."
She said with a subdued grin.
Compa: "Don't lie Iffy. That's not nice."
Compa scolded her.
Neptune: "What'cha doing here then?"
IF: "I wish I knew. It was Compa's idea."
Compa: "We are going to support Nep-Nep and Lady Noire! Iffy will be the drummer and I will be a dancer~"
IF: "W-w-wait I am going to do what-?!"
Neptune: "Ohoho! Compa dancing? Now it's a party! Lemme get some extra feet for that."
She clapped her hands and Marvy and RED appeared next to her.
Neptune: "Can you dance Assist number 1?"
RED: "I love dancing!"
Neptune: "Marvster, you gotta make use of the headset on your ear for once. Be the backup singer!"
Marvy: "Haha, that sounds like fun."
Noire: "What just happened…?"
Noire was a little lost, seeing as she somehow gained a background dancing group, a drummer and a back-up singer.
Neptune: "Let's do it wonder twintails!"
Neptune slapped her back and pushed her forward. Noire shook her head and then got into position again. First she took a deep breath and then started her new song she had been writing on in secret. 'Mirai Infinity'. She had lacked the confidence to use it before… but here and now, she felt like she could do anything!
IF: "Don't blame me if this goes south. I don't know much about drumming at all."
The brunette guild member said exasperatedly in the back with the drum-set that she had dragged on to the stage.
Neptune: "Bust your hips girls!"
Nep commanded her troupe of busty dancers.
Needless to say the concert became a lot more energetic. And the audience seemed to be drawn in to this strange new band. But there was one guy who still didn't feel like giving up his spite.
FC Captain: "You morons! Even if she is a goddess, don't play along! Our only goddess is Lady 5pb. dammit! Rise against the CPU-Graaagh?!"
He was bumped by something heavy and fell over, pushing the darts in his body deeper and making him hit the concrete floor. He fainted instantly.
Vert: "Heavens, did I bump into you? My deepest apologies, I thought it was simply a mosquito."
The green clad goddess towered above him with a barely apologetic smile.
The concert was a complete success. After a while K-sha had returned with 5pb. and Cave. It wasn't clear how she had managed to get the guitar back, but they were all looking sorry for being late. In the end 5pb. took over and Noire became her back-up singer instead. It was a true spectacle.
5pb.: "Thank you everyone! I hope you enjoyed all the music we made today!"
The blue haired idol wiped the sweat off her face with a brilliant smile and the audience roared. There was room for one more encore, so she gave in to the clapping audience and started one more song. At the height of the notes something magical happened.
???: "Sylphet Spear!"
Some green projection appeared above the stage and suddenly fireworks went off in every direction. At least that's what it looked like, but in actuality they were explosions. It was a nice touch either way.
After the concert ended everyone was resting in the backstage area.
5pb.: "Thank you so much for covering for me Lady Noire!"
She bowed in front of Lastation's CPU, who was currently busy pulling her wig off. Noire shook her head and said it was nothing.
IF: "Why were you gone in the first place?"
IF asked. She and Compa weren't up to date.
5pb. looked troubled by the question.
Cave: "Her precious guitar was stolen."
Cave intervened. Her green eyes were glancing at her protégé.
Cave: "I had failed in capturing the criminal at first. With the help of Lady K-sha we managed to apprehend him long enough to gain it back. To my chagrin he slipped through my fingers once again in the end.
RED: "Who steals guitars from my cute wifey?"
RED seemed upset.
Cave: "It was a mysterious robot ninja. I didn't manage to make out his face."
She replied with regret. Neptune, Noire and IF all looked at each other with sweat drops running down their heads.
Neptune: "It wasn't…?"
Noire: "I thought Uni had straightened him out."
IF: "But why a guitar?"
They all whispered amongst each other.
Cave: "Do you have a suspect?"
Cave inquired with a glint in her eyes. As always she was very sharp. Her white outfit moved as she pulled her leg over the chair.
Neptune: "That was one neptastic firework at the end!"
Neptune said delightedly to change the topic.
Cave: "That wasn't part of the event."
The redhead interjected. She was as stoic looking as always, and handed 5pb. a cold soda for refreshment.
Cave: "If my assessment is correct, those were actually several explosions created by one of Lady Vert's special techniques."
Vert: "As observant as always my dear Cave. We could really use you back in Leanbox's secret service."
Vert walked in with her arms crossed below her bosom and winked.
Cave: "I would return instantly, on your request of course Lady Vert. But you deemed 5pb.'s safety as the top priority, did you not?"
Vert: "Now, there is no reason to glare at me like that. I am not so cruel as to take you away from her."
The blonde CPU chuckled.
Cave: "It was not my intent to glare…"
She looked a little embarrassed.
Noire: "What are you doing here?"
Noire asked with a tilted head. What were the odds of 3 CPUs just being in the same amusement park on the same day?
Vert: "What indeed. We are only missing Blanc for a full set, aren't we?"
Vert chuckled once again.
Cave: "If I may ask, what did you destroy above the stage?"
Vert pulled something out of her dress and displayed it for all to see. It was a piece of metal. It looked like it could have been part of anything really.
Neptune: "An airship?"
She took a gander.
Noire: "We would have seen that from a mile away!"
Cave: "...camera drones…"
Cave correctly identified the piece.
Neptune: "Again? The programmers messed up the spawn rate of these things. They are just appearing everywhere!"
Neptune looked disappointed that it wasn't something cool.
The Idol looked confused.
5pb.: "This concert wasn't supposed to be broadcasted."
Neptune: "Aha! I can see it in your eyes Holmes! You cracked the case, didn't ya?"
Neptune pointed at Vert, who seemed incredibly self-satisfied.
Vert: "Quite so, Neptune. I have been investigating the strange happenings around your contest for the last week. And now it has become all but clear."
She went through her long blonde hair and then looked at K-sha.
Vert: "Do you mind if I reveal your secret plan?"
K-sha who had been watching everything from the corner of the room had a shadow over her eyes. She nodded ever so slowly to allow Vert to continue.
Neptune: "Is this going to be a long story? I don't think the readers care that much right now."
Vert was suddenly interrupted by none other than Neptune. She seemed slightly dismayed.
Vert: "I have gathered all this information and evidence and planned out my grand reveal. It would be a real shame to let this go to waste."
Neptune: "Well all we need to know is the end result, so hurry it up, okay?"
Why was Neptune suddenly trying to cut Vert short? Leanbox's CPU was not happy. This was probably the closest to a pout one would ever see on her.
Neptune: "Fine, if you want the full story, read the next chapters. But for now, just tell me!"
Vert: "…if that is your wish. K-sha over here had planned this entire contest for the sake of increasing Lastation's Shares. I had been curious to the sudden flow towards Noire's nation and the way everything was handled. Her accomplices will be taken care of soon enough."
Vert summarized the results of her long investigation. Without context it seemed incredibly unexpected.
Noire looked at K-sha with a questioning gaze. K-sha avoided her eyes. Everyone in the room fell silent too.
Neptune: "So what?"
She finally broke the strange atmosphere.
Neptune: "What's wrong with getting Shares for your nation?!"
Everyone switched their attention to the purple haired girl.
IF: "But Nep… you have been used for that kind of underhanded goal…"
Iffy tried to explain, but Neptune swiped it aside.
Neptune: "Are you saying this contest was meaningless to you K-sha?!"
She looked directly at her rival. K-sha, who had been building a wall around herself was dragged out of her defensive shell by a serious Neptune.
Neptune: "You did it for Noire, right? You wanted to help a friend, right?"
K-sha's turquoise eyes widened. She seemed close to tears and then nodded.
Neptune: "Shares this, secret plans that, it doesn't matter."
Was what she declared.
Neptune: "I saw you do your best out there, because you really cared about it. You wanted to get closer to Noire no matter what, so you overdid it a little. That's just what Best Friends do sometimes!"
K-sha: "M-miss Neptune…"
K-sha was truly grateful.
Neptune: "So wipe that guilty expression from your face-scape and smile! As far as I am concerned, this contest ain't over yet! Don't think that a few Shares and a silly win-loss ratio can decide who's won!"
IF: (If those factors aren't important, why compete in the first place?)
Neptune: "It's obviously Noire's decision."
And she spun towards her twintailed friend with an outstretched index finger. Noire was put into a problematic position once again.
Noire: "Why did I agree to this?"
She sighed. It had been clear from the start that the final decision would lie with her. That she was going to be the one who decided her own future with these two. She… didn't want to break the status quo. As much as she had denied it and complained… In the end she liked the way things were between them. But Neptune had already boldly broken that status quo to pieces when she made that announcement outside. Now things had advanced to a point where they couldn't go back. Neptune really wanted to be her best friend. K-sha had really gone and done everything to make herself useful to Noire and Lastation. Their determination was not something she could just play off anymore.
Everybody looked at her expectantly. One could have heard a pin drop in this strained silence.
Noire: "I don't know."
Finally those words escaped her with all her being and a downcast expression.
Nep flopped over. Vert and IF shook their heads as if they had expected as much and K-sha looked down at her feet.
Noire: "I… I'm not sure what I feel right now. S-so… please give me more time!"
She asked in a vulnerable voice. Seeing Noire so submissive was like a punch to the face. Maybe the good kind.
It seemed like the BFF contest was not quite reaching its end yet. But lines had been drawn and some things had become irreversible. Just what was going to happen next?
Next time on Best Friends Forever?: The Truth.
Vert: "So I do get to tell my story?"
Cave: "You have been very excited over this Lady Vert."
Vert: "It's like I am the protagonist of my own detective game."
5pb.: "S-so that's what it was…"
(To be continued)