Chapter 3: Pet Corner

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On the way to school, Erika glued her eyes to her smartphone. She double-checked her earphones and only then played the video.

"Welcome, welcome back to Rosemary Queen's Fantasy Pet Corner~♥"

A blonde girl winked into the screen with a charming smile.

"Look, look~! Today, Queen will be showing you a veeeeery snuggly and fluffy cutie~♥"

Erika gleefully smiled in anticipation.

"Have you ever asked yourselves what will happen if bunnies had wings? Queen sure didn't!"

Queen brought in a fluffy rabbit. The rabbit had little bat wings on its back and it held a tiny spear in its paws.

"Look, look at this cutie~♥ He may look like a normal bunny at first, but...! Hyaa!"

Queen tossed the rabbit forward. Erika gasped in fear for the poor rabbit's fate.

The rabbit didn't hit the ground. It flapped its little wings and returned back to its master.

"Hehe, did you really really think Queen would abuse an animal like that~?"

The video introduced the creature as "BatRabbit". The miniature bat wings were more than cute decoration; the BatBunny flew surprisingly fast with them. Erika smiled from ear to ear as she watched the fluffy cuteness, completely mesmerised by the show.

The events in the video were recorded inside a virtual reality video game: God Vessel Online. On top of being a well-known Youtuber, the user "RoremaryQueen" was also one of the top tamers in the game.

Compared to watching a "Let's Play" of a regular video game, a playthrough recorded inside a virtual reality was in a league of its own. The gamer was a physical part of the game's world, thus presenting a very fluid and realistic experience for the viewers.

In addition, the VR gamer was often an eye candy, thanks to the in-game avatar. This was especially true for Queen, whose gothic lolita getup generated a steady fanart base. She was effectively a net idol, with nobody knowing how she looked in real life.

"Don't forget to Like and Subscribe for more cuteness~♥ Ciao~♥"

Erika scrolled to the comments section, hoping to join the worship of adorable BatBunnies. Alas, she couldn't help but sigh at some of the top rated comments.

『Came for the bunny, stayed for the boner.』

『I want to be Queen's personal bunny ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)』

Erika gave the comments a downvote and scrolled back to the video in order to relieve the cuteness.

"So adorable~"

Erika mumbled as she rubbed her finger against the displayed bunny, as if touching its fluffiness.

"Good morning, Eri."

"Wh-!? Ah!!"

Erika jumped out of her skin. Her phone slipped and crashed into the pavement, then jumped away like a skilled acrobat.

"Oh! M-my apologies!"

The other girl gasped and became confused.

"Here, let me help you."

The girl leaned toward the phone and thrust a hand toward it.

N-not good!

Erika's body tensed up and her heart throbbed in panic. She couldn't allow that hand to reach the phone, no matter what.

Her earplugs were still connected to the phone. Erika grabbed the cable without a moment's hesitation. Like a pro cowboy, she swiftly pulled the cable and expected the phone to jump into her hand.

The phone didn't budge. Only the tip of the cable came off flying-

"Gah!!"

-into Erika's eye.

"A-are you alright?"

The other girl turned her attention to Erika, right before abducting the phone. Erika crouched forward, pretending to stagger from her injury.

Chance!

Erika shot her long arm and swiped the phone. She rapidly closed all content related to video games and turned to the girl with a plastic smile.

"G-good morning, Sophy."

They both stood up, feeling awkward about the exchange for different reasons.

"I apologize for starting you. Is your eye alright?"

"Don't worry, it'll be fine."

A cloud of awkwardness loomed above the girls at first, but it was dispelled by the time they entered the school.

"In the first place: you should pay more attention to your surroundings, boss."

Sophia preached with the scolding tone of a teacher.

"My, and you should pay more attention to how you call me. I'm not a 'boss' anymore."

"Ack, t-that's that's right..."

Sophia fell for her bad habit again. Somewhere deep in her head, Erika remained Sophia's respected "Student Council President" from middle school.

"This time around: I will become the president and you will be my vice-president."

"My, should I start calling you 'boss' now?"

"T-that would be unnecessary..."

Sophia mumbled in protest. Naturally, Erika didn't like the nickname "boss" either. It made her feel like the godmother of a mafia gang.

On their way to class, the girls passed by a group of boys.

"You heard about Verdandi?"

"What about it?"

Erika instinctively slowed down. The boys probably referred to the MMORPG: Verdandi Blade Online.

"They are holding a special event in the evening today. A large scale PvP."

"Oh, that sounds cool! You need a party member?"

Erika's steps turned slower and slower, until she practically halted in order to eavesdrop on the boys.

"What's wrong, Eri?"

"E-eh? N-nothing."

Erika smiled back at Sophia, removing her eyes from the boys. However, Sophia was fast to notice everything.

"That filth..."

Sophia drilled her sharp eyes into the gamers.

"I definitely agree with you, Eri."

"Eh?"

"These scum definitely shouldn't spread their poison in public. Wait here, I'll speak with them as a representative of the student council."

Sophia conveniently drew her own conclusions and strode toward the pack of excited boys.

"Let them be, Sophy."

Erika gently grabbed her friend's shoulder.

"It's their freedom to do as they please, as long as they don't cause trouble. Right?"

"Their very existence is trouble waiting to happen."

"Sophy, that's not how it works."

"Alright, I understand..."

Sophia submitted to the boss's request and decided to ignore the vermin in front of her. They continued onward to their classrooms, with Sophia ranting about the leeway gamers were given in society.

They parted ways in front of their respective classrooms: A-2 and A-3.


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