Chapter 8: Mina Park

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"Excuse me, this Erika from your class."

Erika knocked on the door.

"Mina? Are you there?"

Erika raised her volume, but it didn't help. She sighed and pushed down the door's handle as a last resort. Naturally, the door was-

"... open?"

She blinked a few times at the unlocked door.

It can't be that something happened, right...?

She tried to reassure herself by smiling, but unpleasant shivers ran across her skin. She cautiously moved her head through the opening and peeked inside.

"Mina...? Are you there...?"

Only static silence answered her. Erika carefully entered the apartment and closed the door. She walked through the hallway and examined her surroundings. Luckily, there were no signs of theft or struggle.

Erika continued further into the apartment, until she reached the only room with a living creature inside. A small girl lied on a bed. The petite figure, hardly bigger than a grade student's, unmistakably belonged to Mina Park.

Erika frowned at the VR headgear on Mina's head. It was a white helmet with light blue patterns. Erika recognized it as the "Virtual Ocean" brand, dubbed "Vocean" by consumers.

"Mina, can you hear me? ...Mina!"

Erika shook the girl's arm, but there was no response. The sleeping hypnosis of the Vocean helmet completely detached Mina from reality. Erika took out her phone and googled "How to safely remove Vocean ".

The instructions were fairly straightforward. Erika flipped off the "Virtual Dive" switch, waited for a green light and then carefully removed the headgear.

However, even with the helmet removed - Mina showed no signs of moving. Her slumber was deeper than the gear's sleeping hypnosis. Mina must have fallen asleep while playing the game, a conclusion which made Erika facepalm in disbelief.

"Hey, Mina..."

Erika poked the little girl's cheek to no avail. This called for the ultimate wake-up skill. There were many water bottles scattered by Mina's bed. Many of them were empty, but a few still had water in them. Erika grabbed a bottle opened it above Mina's face.

Erika hesitated for a moment, then delivered the decisive strike.

"BAH!?"

Mina jumped with a rising uppercut. Right into Erika's chest.

"Gah!?"

Erika grieved in pain and collapsed on the floor. She held her aching chest, which had its bust reduced by half.

"Ah...? Huuuh...?"

Mina looked around in daze with half-closed eyes.

"Who... who the heck are ya?!"

Mina glared at the distressed Erika in suspicion.

"Ah... I'm Erika... the class president..."

Erika slowly stood up, still shaken by the sudden assault.

"Oh! You're that Titan girl!"

Mina exclaimed and pointed a finger at the excessively tall girl in front of her.

"T-titan...!?"

Erika received a mental blow and almost collapsed again.

"My, aren't you a little rude?"

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