"Jacob, wake up," said IF as she nudged him the next morning.
"Nngh…" he groaned before opening his eyes. "What do you want…?"
"We're leaving in a few hours to talk with Chian. We haven't had breakfast yet and Compa said you could make pancakes. I said we should just have some sandwiches but Neptune and Compa are adamant on pancakes. Compa's run off to the store to get some flour because we don't have any."
Jacob groaned and forced himself out of bed. He was wearing his usual getup minus his jacket, shoes and socks. "Alright, alright…" Jacob yawned. Damn body clocks. "When'd she leave?"
"Just a minute ago," IF answered. "She won't be back for a while. I just wanted you good and awake for when she gets back."
"Fair enough…" Jacob did a few stretches.
Compa chose this moment to burst into the room, looking panicked as usual and yet still not out of breath. "Nep-Nep, IF, Jake! Bad news! Someone saw a monster prowling near town!"
"What…?" Jacob rubbed his forehead instead of making a snarky comment.
IF raised an eyebrow. "Really?"
"I heard from the people running away in fear. They said there were some others still left behind…" Compa stopped all of a sudden and looked around the room for something. "Huh? Where's Nep-Nep?"
IF looked a bit sheepish. "She locked herself in the bathroom this morning. The expired pudding she ate last night finally caught up with her."
Compa looked worried. "And I told her so many times not to eat it and just throw it away…"
IF looked at Jacob sternly. "Why didn't you tell her to? You're the one she listens to."
"Hey," Jacob started, waking up a bit. "I thought her immune system could take it. You know, with her being a goddess and everything."
IF didn't let up on her harsh stare. "Jacob, this is a game that borrows many recurring gags from anime and manga. Whenever the idiot eats something that's expired, it's going to make them go to the toilet. You should have seen this coming."
Jacob sighed. "You're right, I should have known…" Jacob hung his head in shame. "I'm sorry…"
"S-Sorry, guys…" Neptune called from the toilet, catching everyone's attention. "Go on ahead without me… I'll catch up later."
"Okay, we'll be going, but hurry up and finish in there!" Compa ran out the door.
"Ahh! W-Wait!" Neptune called but Compa was out of earshot.
Luckily for her, IF was still there. "What now?"
"I'm all outta TP…" Neptune responded quietly, clearly embarrassed. "Can you leave me a roll by the door?"
IF sighed before looking back at Jacob. "You coming?"
"Go on ahead." Jacob picked up his disc. "I'm gonna get dressed and get my stuff on."
"Alright then." IF left a roll of toilet paper outside of the bathroom before running out the door leading to the street.
Compa and IF tracked the monster to the outskirts of a forest. A crude narrow path in the forest weaved through the trees and foliage and along the top of a cliff, from where one would be able to see mountains in the distance. It was an oddly natural area, given Lastation's highly industrial state.
In any event, Compa and IF didn't care about the path, not when they were tired and exhausted from fighting their opponent. It seemed to be quite a large monster, slightly smaller than a Guard Vermin. It looked like it had a heavily armoured torso, two large bat wings and two thick legs. Its head, despite baring semblance to that of a snake's, was also thick and hard to penetrate, complete with a large backwards-pointing horn thing on its head. In all, it looked like an egg with rock plate armour, legs and wings. Behind it were a group of five civilians, all too injured to move away.
"What's up with this giant monster?" IF asked, her stance a bit off. "None of our attacks are working."
Compa looked very worried as she held her syringe a bit loosely. She was in worse shape than IF. "Nep-Nep isn't here, either. We really can't do this without her…"
IF looked at the apprentice nurse. She looked like she was about to fall into despair but she caught herself. "Compa," IF began, "we must stay strong. I'm sure she'll flush and help us out in the nick of time." IF gave a confident smile, complementing the determination that shined in her eyes. "Until then, we've got to protect the injured civilians!"
"Iffy…" Compa also smiled, her insecurities having vanished. "Okay!"
"Still," grumbled IF, "it'd be nice if Jacob got here already. That Wrecking Ball of his would come in handy."
Right on cue, a ball of force six feet in diameter shot into the monster from the air. It was a very powerful shot, like a punch thrown from a giant. While the monster did stagger for a bit, it, against all the odds, regained its footing.
"W-Wow…" Compa was definitely surprised. "It managed to withstand a Wrecking Ball…"
"Well, at least Jacob's here. Jacob! Can you…" IF looked to the sky but Jacob was nowhere to be seen. "Where did you go?"
"I'm here." Jacob flew back to the fight, wearing his jacket, shoes, gauntlets and jetpack. "Sorry about that; recoil and all. Thank God I have a jetpack. Anyway… is that monster really a silhouette? When did the artists get so lazy?" Jacob was right; the reason that the monster looked, seemed and bared semblance to the things mentioned above was that it wasn't possible to be sure due to it being a silhouette.
"Stop worrying about that!" snapped IF. "Can you use another Wrecking Ball?"
"I could but I don't think it'd be that effective. Maybe if I try aiming at the legs…" Jacob put his hands together again and shot another massive ball of force, this time at the monster's legs. However, the monster dodged.
"Ooh, it got lucky," noted Compa.
"Jacob, again!" IF called, forgetting that the recoil would have sent him back quite a distance. "… Damn it. Where the hell is Neptune?"
"Don't know, don't care!" shouted Jacob on his return. "Get it to move quickly! I'll fire a Wrecking Ball at its back and shove it over!"
"You sure, Jake?" called Compa.
"Compa-" Jacob dodged out of the way of the monster's fire breath. "Well, I've gotten better with this thing. Anyway, Compa, your attacks and IF's aren't working and I doubt my energy balls, lasers and Wide Roar will help any if my Wrecking Ball didn't knock it down. We're going to trip it up."
"Right!" Compa fired several shots at the head of the monster. Even though she only hit twice, it was sufficient to get the monster's attention. "Come and get me, Mister Monster!"
Jacob and IF both rubbed their faces.
Still, Compa's taunt was sufficient for the monster to leap over to Compa. Once it landed, its back was impacted by Jacob's Wrecking Ball, causing it to fall forward. Compa was too shocked by the monster's lightning speed to move out of the way but IF, not being fazed in the slightest, tackled her out of the way before the monster hit the ground.
"You okay, Compa?" IF asked as she looked down at Compa.
"Ah- I- That is- Y-Yeah, I'm fine…" stammered out Compa as she blushed madly.
"… What's up with- Oh!" IF pushed herself off of the ground so that she wasn't above Compa anymore. "Sorry… Anyway, monster's down, so let's attack the head."
"What about Jacob?" asked Compa as she stood up.
"He'll be back soon. Right now, we have to focus on the monster. Hyah!" IF cried out as she charged forward with her katara protruding from her sleeves. IF hacked and Compa shot away at the week point of the monster. After a minute or two of this, the monster simply got bored and breathed fire in IF's direction. IF dodged out of the way but her leg was caught in the fire breath.
"Iffy! Are you okay?" Compa asked as she inspected IF's leg.
"Yeah, I'm fine," IF answered as she tried to stand. "A bit of fire's not going to stop… me…"
The reason why IF's speech slowed was not because the monster was pushing itself off the ground but rather because it was pushing with its large, skeletal bat wings. In a few moments, it was back on its feet. At the very least, its face was heavily scarred. Unfortunately, it was also very miffed.
"You've got to be kidding me…" IF tried to get back into her stance but her leg kept it from being perfect. "Well, whatever!" She rushed forward again while Compa opened fire on the beast. The monster reared its head back and breathed fire towards IF. IF's leap was a bit sluggish that time and both of her legs were caught.
"AAH!" she screamed in pain as she hit the ground.
Compa rushed towards IF. "If-" Compa was batted away by the monster's wing. The monster gave a loud, throaty roar as it turned away from the girls and towards the injured civilians.
Compa was scared. "Oh, no! Iffy, the monster is-"
IF was definitely worried. "Crap, the people are over there…!"
Compa tried to stand up. "I can't… stand… any longer…"
IF endeavoured to do the same but she yielded the same results. "I… can't either…"
The civilians found themselves right before the monster. It leaned forward to smell them. "G-Go away!" cried a civilian that had neck-length hair and wore shoulder boards or epaulettes with their cloak as he threw a stone at the monster. The monster released a throaty growl in annoyance. It opened its mouth, ready to devour its meal.
"Hold it right there, villain!"
This shout caught everyone's attention, even that of the monster's, bizarrely.
"Who's there?" IF asked, surprised.
Jacob flew in again but he was very fatigued. Also, there was a cut on his cheek. "Argh… Damn it… That hurt..." He looked to his left. "Who's that…?"
A girl around Neptune, Compa and IF's age stood on top of the building to Jacob's left and IF's right. She wore a black bodysuit that had puffy white button sleeves and grey gloves and legs that went to the middle of her thighs. In the middle of the bodysuit was a vertical zipper that was unzipped to below her belly-button. She also wore a long red scarf, a pair of grey boots, large black-framed yellow goggle-glasses on her head, a small, navy blue box lined with yellow and a yellow star on its lid strapped to her right thigh and two criss-crossed bandages that covered her breasts (or lack thereof; she was comparable to a teenage boy). On her back was a backpack that looked like a blue penguin. Her spiky hair was long enough to go to her chest but it was worn with few curled strands hanging down with many spiked bangs. At the back of her head, one could see the big blue and red N shaped hair clip that held her hair in its particular style. She also had a visible left fang.
The girl flashed a peace sign down below. "The dashing heroine appears in a time of crisis! Leave it to Nisa, the sole keeper of justice in all of Gamindustri! Prepare to meet your maker, monster!" She jumped up high into the air. Everyone that kept their eyes on her had to look away as she rose to be right in front of the sun. "The one, the only, deadly Justice Kick!" Spinning in mid-air, she propelled herself towards the monster right foot first at breakneck speeds. Somehow.
"Compa, Iffy! Sorry for th-" Neptune picked a really bad time to show herself; while 'breakneck' doesn't really apply here, Nisa's kick still collided with the side of Neptune's face at very high speeds. "Blargh!" Neptune was sent flying towards Compa, who was very surprised.
"Nep-Nep! Goodness, are you okay?" Compa ran over to Neptune's unconscious form, apparently having gotten over the battering handed to her only moments ago. "Ooh, a kick straight to the face. That must have hurt."
"What're you doing, jumping right out in front of me?" Nisa shouted, both annoyed and embarrassed that her shining moment to look awesome had been negated. "I even called my attack so you'd know to wait, too!"
"If you don't mind me saying," started Jacob, "there's a bloody giant monster near us waiting to kill everyone!"
IF wasn't in high spirits at all. "She was our trump card… Compa, stop slapping her so much! Her face is already indented from that kick!"
"Sorry," Nisa apologised, not looking as haughty as before. "I went full-force on that one. She might wake up in a few weeks." She grinned and walked towards the monster. "I'll take care of this monster myself. Leave it to me!"
"Hey, hold on a sec," Jacob began.
Unfortunately, Nisa was one step ahead of him; with one powerful step, she propelled herself towards the monster like a torpedo. She span in the air so that her two feet were pointed at the monster. "HYAH!" When she made contact with the monster, she pushed with all her might. The monster was kicked a few meters away as she backflipped into the air and landed perfectly.
"Whoa…" Jacob was impressed. "I take it she's the strong one?"
"Huh?" Compa looked at Jacob.
"You know, you're the girly one, Neptune's the hero, IF's the sidekick, so Nisa's gonna be the strong one."
"Oh… okay then. So what are you?"
"I'm probably the lethal joke character. By that, I mean I'm normally a free kill but, when used right and given the proper equipment, I'm a game breaker."
"She's really strong…" IF commented.
While the monster was getting up, Nisa just stood proudly before it with her arms crossed. "Get up more quickly!" she shouted. "I want this to be a fair fight." With vigour renewed by aggravation, the monster stood once more and breathed a large stream of fire at Nisa. The young hero nimbly dashed out of the way before leaping towards the monster's head and striking it with an axe kick, causing the monster to stumble. Nisa landed on the ground before spinning around and pulled out her star box a penguin-shaped gun. As the gun was larger than the box itself, Jacob guessed that the box used disc technology because it was only big enough to hold half of a disc vertically.
"Taste the blade of justice!" A katana blade of yellow energy emerged from the top of the penguin-shaped gun. She jumped into the air, spinning as she went, before slicing the monster diagonally with a loud "HYAAAH!" By the time Nisa landed on the ground, the monster had burst into data and disappeared.
Retracting the blade, Nisa span the penguin gun on her finger before putting it back in her star box. "That, ladies and gentlemen," she span around to face everyone with a large grin, "is what I call the triumph of justice!"
Compa was, much like the rest of the citizens, in awe. "W-Whoa… We didn't stand a chance, but she beat it up all on her own..."
Nisa's victorious expression vanished as she seemed to have heard something. "Hm? What's this? A cry for help? Then, I'm off. Up, up and awaaaaaay!" she shouted before jumping away like a mysterious protector in a magical girl anime.
"… This is Gamindustri, after all. So many different walks of life…" IF commented.
"Excuse me!" Jacob called as he flew after Nisa.
"What the- Hey, Jacob! Get back here!" IF shouted. "We still need you to make the pancakes!"
"I'll be back soon!" he returned. "And get self-raising flour!"
"Okay!" answered Compa.
"Compa, don't encourage him!"
Nisa hopped along the rooftops with the ease of a superhero. "Never fear, citizens of Gamindustri! Nisa, the hero of justice, is here to-"
"Hey! Nisa, was it? Excuse me!"
"… Who is that?" she stopped on the rooftop she was on and looked behind her. "Is that a flying monster?"
Jacob eventually caught up with Nisa and landed down in front of her. "Man, you're fast."
Nisa proudly took that as a compliment. "A hero has to be able to reach trouble quickly so that she can save the day. Say, you're that flying boy that was fighting that monster before, right?"
"Yeah. My name is Jacob. Nice to meet you." Jacob held out his hand for Nisa to shake. "I'm offering you a handshake, by the way."
"… Oh." Nisa shook his hand. "Good to meet you as well. You know, it's very surprising that you're a male who isn't a silhouette, and with such unique hair, too." She reached up to touch his hair but Jacob stopped her.
"With all due respect, I don't like it when people touch me unless I ask for it."
"Oh, okay. Sorry. Now, what did you want?"
"Well…" Jacob rubbed the back of his head nervously. "I… I was wondering if you'd like to join our party. I mean, you're very strong and you took out that monster almost without effort. You'd be a very good addition for our team."
"Oh, uh…" Nisa looked flattered but Jacob knew she'd turn down his request. "Sorry but I'm kind of busy. You know, being a hero of justice and all. Don't get me wrong; I'd love to join your party but the people come first."
"Well, what about this; my friends and I are going on a quest to all four landmasses to find the four Key Fragments so that we can rescue this person who is, in her words, "the world's everything". That apparently means saving her is saving the world."
Nisa raised an eyebrow in suspicion. "You don't know?"
"Well, the only one out of all of us who can communicate with her is Neptune because she's Purple Heart and-"
"Whoa! Stop right there!" Nisa looked like a deer caught in headlights. She wasn't scared, mind you; just surprised. "Did you say that Lady Purple Heart is travelling with you?"
Jacob smiled. "Yup. She's the one who was assigned this world saving quest to begin with. The rest of us are just tagging along because we wanted to."
"Hm…" Nisa crossed her arms and thought about this. "The CPU of Planeptune… Saving the world… Will this keep the monsters back?"
"If not outright stop them."
"Okay then." Nisa pounded her right fist into her left palm. "I will gladly join you in your quest. But first, there that's call for help I have to take care of."
"I'll help you with that." Jacob hovered in the air. "Hell, if you want, I can carry you there. These gauntlets give me enhanced strength."
Nisa blushed, taken aback by Jacob's blunt offer. "Thanks but no, I'll be fine. Now follow me!" She jumped to the next roof as Jacob followed by air.
"You know," IF started after she shut the door to the toilet while carrying a plunger and a clothesline peg kept her nose shut, "those cute and endearing little blue dolphins on the toilet paper stop being cute and endearing when you realise that their only purpose in life is to be used to wipe someone's bum."
"Oh, hello Iffy," greeted Compa from the stove. "Did you get rid of the clog?"
"Yes," said IF. "I don't want to talk about it."
"Well, okay then. I made the pancakes."
"… I thought you were going to make steamed rice?"
"Yes but I don't have the equipment I need so I decided to stick with pancakes." Compa handed IF a fork, a knife and a plate with three pancakes on it, topped with honey. "Here you go."
IF took off the peg and tossed the plunger aside. "Ah, that smells nice. Thank you, Compa."
At that moment, Jacob and Nisa came in through the door. "Hey girls," said Jacob. "Guess who agreed to join our team."
"What?" Compa shouted. "M-Miss Nisa is joining us?"
"Why would you join us?" IF asked, also in shock.
Nisa grinned. "Well, since you're travelling with Lady Purple Heart to save the world, I figured that I should come along to save the day as well. It's a fitting task for a hero."
"Well… I don't have a problem with it." IF turned to Compa. "What do you think?"
"I'm okay with it," responded Compa with a smile. "My grandfather always said; 'The more, the merrier'".
"I'm the one that asked in the first place," stated Jacob, "so I don't have a problem."
"Then, Nisa, I guess you're part of the team," IF said. "But, you're okay with travelling with Purple Heart, even if she isn't your goddess?"
"Of course I am! My goddess or no, the world's in danger and Lady Purple Heart needs heroes to help her save it," Nisa pointed at herself with her thumb, "and who would be a better choice than Nisa, Gamindustri's keeper of justice?"
"Well, there we go," said Jacob. "I thought I was going to make the pancakes?"
"You were gone for ages so Compa took the initiative to make them," explained IF.
"Let me get yours. I made another plate for Nep-Nep when she woke up but you can have it, Miss Nisa." Compa stood up to get the plates from the side of the stove.
"Ooh, pancakes! A great way for me to start my journey with you! Anyway, when can I meet Lady Purple Heart?"
"I presume when she wakes up." Jacob took the plate, knife and fork that Compa offered him. "Thanks."
"Wait…" Nisa processed that information for a moment before a horrified expression made its way to her face. "Are you saying that the person I kicked out was Lady Purple Heart?" Even with that realisation, she still took the plate of pancakes offered to her.
"Hey, don't worry; she won't hold it against you." He took a bite out of his pancakes. "Whoa, these are good. What'd you use, Compa?"
Compa smiled. "Oh, I just used a cup of self-raising flour, a cup of milk and one egg. I also added some sugar to give it some more flavour."
"Really? That's it?" Jacob took another bite. "Apart from the sugar, that's all I use. What'd you do?"
"I just beat the ingredients in a bowl before pouring it into the frying pan."
"That's all I do, too. You must have a magic touch."
Jacob, IF and Compa turned to face her. "What's wrong?" Jacob asked.
"This… this…" Tears started streaming down Nisa's face. "This is the most divine breakfast I have ever eaten! Truly fit for a heroine like myself!"
"These are really good," stated IF. "You're a very good cook, Compa."
Compa blushed. "Thank you so much, Iffy and Miss Nisa."
"No formalities are needed; just Nisa will do." Nisa kept eating her pancakes.
"Hey, Neptune's waking up," commented IF.
"What? Really?" Nisa looked over at the bed where Neptune was stirring. "Well, what do you know? A CPU can recover from my Justice Kick in no time at all."
"She was unconscious for half an hour," responded IF.
"That's lucky; normally, they're out for a couple of weeks."
"Owwies…" groaned Neptune as she sat up and rubbed the side of her bandaged head. "I feel like I had a fat red plumber jump on my head, followed by a green plumber, then an orange mushroom and finally a blue mushroom…"
"Bad video game jokes aside," started Jacob, "we have a new member for our party."
"What? Really?" Neptune immediately shook off her headache and tore off the bandages and looked at Nisa. "Wow! Who are you?"
"I am the bane of all evil. I am the one that citizens turn to in Gamindustri's darkest hour. I am the one who destroys the darkness of Gamindustri. I am…" Nisa punched the air, "… Nisa, the heroine of justice!"
"Do you have to declare that every single time?" Jacob asked.
"She wasn't awake at the time," Nisa answered.
"A super hero?" Neptune had stars in her eyes. "That's fantastic! How strong are you?"
"She managed to take out the monster that troubled Compa, Jacob and I in no time at all. She's extremely strong," replied IF.
"Whoa! This is totally awesome! I'm Neptune, by the way. Good to meetcha."
Nisa bowed respectfully. "It's good to meet you, Lady Purple Heart. As soon as Jacob told me that you were travelling the world to save it, I simply couldn't say no."
Neptune was clearly not used to having someone bow to her. "Oh, uh… don't worry about bowing to me, Nisa. We're all the same level here."
Nisa looked confused. "… Really? That's not a reaction I was expecting from a CPU."
Jacob sighed. "Yeah, there's a lot more going on here than you know. Let's start from the start…"
The original four of the party took about ten minutes to explain the entire adventure to Nisa, including Neptune's amnesia, what Jacob knew of what happened to Neptune before she fell to Jacob's world, what Jacob knew of Arfoire, what Neptune knew about Histoire, the Key Fragments, Gamindustri being a video game and Jacob's origins. In the mean time, Compa got a plate of pancakes for Neptune, which she finished in no time at all.
Predictably, this was a lot for Nisa to take in.
"Whoa…" she exclaimed as she held her head.
"Sorry about that expositional onslaught but it's best that you know everything before going with us," said Jacob.
"No, it's okay, it's just… wow, we're actually in a video game? All those jokes we make about fetch quests and grinding are actually the truth?"
"All of it," responded IF.
Nisa breathed out. "Well… that's a shocker."
"You're alright?" asked Jacob.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Don't worry about me." Nisa made a bicep polishing gesture. "Now when can we go adventuring?"
IF opened her phone. "Chian of Passe's invited us to talk with her at her factory in two hours. Now, what do we do to pass the time?"
Neptune raised her hand. "I wanna play games."
Jacob turned to Nisa. "Hey, Nisa?"
"I was wondering… could you teach me martial arts?"
Neptune, Compa and IF looked at Jacob in intrigue.
Nisa was also surprised. "What?"
"You fought extremely well against that monster, whatever it was, with your hands and fists. I'd like to be able to do that and I'd like you to teach me."
"Well…" Nisa smiled. "Alright then, you are now my apprentice. Before we begin your training, we must make a few stops along the way. Alright?"
"Alright." Jacob followed Nisa out the door. "We'll be back soon."
"Be back here in time!" IF called as they exited the door.
IF opened the door leading into the factory and entered with the rest of the party. The factory was very orange because of the lights and it was also very spacey and clean, which was kind of weird when Jacob remembered that he was in Lastation, the land of black lungs. Taking up most of the space were storage units and generators of varying sizes and shapes. There was a conveyor belt carrying shoulder-mounted missile launchers on one side of the factory and a group of even larger missiles on the left, all standing upright. With the large computers complete with multi-coloured lights and levels, the walkways and the steel supports, it definitely looked like a factory. A fake factory that had all this equipment just to keep up appearances but a factory nonetheless.
"This is Chian's factory…?" Neptune asked no one in particular.
From the side, Chian walked up to the group. "Oh my goodness… is that Nisa?"
Nisa grinned and stood straighter. "That's me; Gamindustri's champion."
"Wow!" Chian walked briskly up to Nisa and shook her hand. "It's an honour to meet you! I'm Chian. I read every news story and listen to every broadcast by 5pb about your exploits and I'd just like to say thank you very much for all you've done. You are a hero to every person in this factory."
Nisa's grin kept getting wider as her ego kept getting filled. "All part of my work, Miss Chian. In any event, if I don't uphold justice in Gamindustri, who will?"
"She really likes this attention," Neptune said to IF.
"I think that, if I were to go out of my way to help every single person in the world with their problems and not charge them a single credit, I'd like a bit of recognition myself," IF responded.
Chian continued. "If you don't mind be asking… why are you holding that boy under your arm?"
Under her arm, Nisa was carrying Jacob like a giant doll. Jacob was very still and he looked like he had the worst itch in the world that he couldn't scratch. "Oh. Well, I took him as my apprentice so that he too will be able to fight evil but I went a bit hard on him on his first day of training."
"My arms and legs are in excruciating amounts of pain," Jacob complained. "She tried to make me bench press a car."
"Hey, I've learned my lesson and we won't do that again. Okay?"
"So what do you do here, Chian?" asked Neptune.
Chian turned to Neptune. "It's a small factory, I know. Still, we make everything from kitchenware to missiles."
"What?" said Jacob. "What does that mean? You make everything that starts with the letters K, L and M?"
"Jacob, shut up," responded IF before turning to Chian. "Let's get to the discussions."
"Good idea. Let's get cozy before we talk, though. Follow me."
"Sit anywhere you like. This is my home."
Chian's "home" turned out to be a small Japanese-looking restaurant. It had wooden tables and chairs as well as wooden walls below wooden bars that framed large squares of beige plaster. There was a bar with six barstools that separated the waiting area from the small kitchen that seemed to have the bare cooking essentials. One thing that was weird was that there was a cupboard holding some dishes and a toaster but it was on the waiting area's side rather than the employees-only kitchen side. Next to the cupboard was a vending machine for drinks.
"Cool! Dibs on the barstool!" Neptune, who clearly loved the restaurant already, raced to the bar and took her place on one of the middle stools.
"Please put me on a table, stomach down," Jacob requested of Nisa, who politely obliged. "Thanks."
"It's so neat having a restaurant next to your office. You can drink whatever you want!" As Neptune talked, Compa, IF and Nisa sat down on the barstools, leaving only the end stools empty.
Chain was behind the bar. "Yeah, since it's my house. Having one business isn't enough for living expenses, so my mother helps me around here." Chian sighed. "I really did have to get two jobs in Lastation. There's just not enough work since Avenir was established."
This fired up Neptune. "So, Avenir IS bad! Everyone in town, including you, is suffering because of them, right?"
"They're not just 'bad'!" Chian was also angry. "They took all of our clients… They're monsters! Even the goddess and her Basilicom just turn a blind eye and let them do whatever they want."
"How evil," spoke Jacob. "They do a better job than you and everyone goes to them as a result. How could they possibly commit the illegal act of being more popular and profitable than you? They truly are monstrous."
"What is wrong with you?" Chian shouted. "They'll eventually take over this entire landmass if we don't do something about it!"
"Jacob, as your sensei, I find your behaviour unacceptable." Nisa crossed her arms. "Don't you see that Lastation won't find peace with Avenir breathing down their necks? We must defeat them!"
Compa looked concerned. "What should we do? It's not going to be as easy as it sounds. How do we 'defeat' an entire company, anyway?"
"… We won't go down easily," responded Chian. "Plus, we've got the Technology Expo this year."
Such an event was unknown to Compa. "What's that? Is that like a festival?"
"Oh, you, Jacob and Neptune have never been to Lastation, right?" IF turned to Chian. "I'm sorry but can you explain?"
Chian may or may not have smiled. "Explaining a worldview or culture can't really be avoided in RPGs."
The party looked at each other awkwardly.
"This might be a boring narrative but bear with me. The Expo takes place in Lastation every four years. Various companies showcase new technologies under a common theme. It's for people to network, or exchange information and skills. The best item gets a trophy from the CPU!"
"A trophy? What an achievement!" exclaimed Compa.
"Lame," called Jacob.
"Shut up," responded IF.
"So can we defeat Avenir with a trophy?" Compa finished.
Chian shook her head. "We'll aim for the goddess. We'll showcase at the Expo, win, and meet with her for a negotiation!"
"That sounds like a good idea, but what are you going to tell her? I doubt telling her that Avenir is too good and the game's not fun anymore is going to help you out and I very much doubt that you can ask her to just get rid of Avenir entirely. Come to think of it, what is your main goal, anyway?" asked Jacob.
"Isn't it obvious? Avenir dominates too much of the market. If we show that Avenir's growth will be harmful to Lastation, she'll do something about it."
Jacob groaned. "I'd argue with you more but I'm a bit tired, given my arms and all. God damn it, this hurts."
"Hang on, I think I have something for sore muscles. Excuse me." Chian walked out the nearest door.
IF turned to Jacob. "Jacob, I know it's in your nature to point out how things don't make sense but, for the sake of Chian, who may or may not be going bankrupt, can you lay off for a bit?"
Jacob sighed. "Fine… I still think this whole mess is incredibly contrived, though."
"I agree with you. However, Chian's a bit sore about it so let's be sensitive, alright?"
"Okay, okay, I promise I won't make any more jabs at the stupidity of this whole subplot."
Chian returned with a bottle filled with a dark green liquid. "Here's something."
"Oh, I know what that is," said Compa. "We use it all the time at the hospital."
Chian may or may not have raised an eyebrow. "You work at a hospital?"
"Yes, Miss Chian. I am an apprentice nurse."
"Good." Chian gave Compa the bottle. "Then you know how to use it."
"Indeed." Compa walked over to Jacob and took out her syringe. "This might hurt a bit, Jake, but it'll be over quickly," she assured him as she opened the bottle and used the syringe to draw the liquid out of it.
"I trust you. Just get it over it and make sure that you inject into my body the fluid and not your bullets. How does that thing fire bullets, anyway?"
"It's a syringe made from advanced Planeptune technology."
"You're from Planeptune?" Chian asked, surprised.
"Yeah," answered Neptune. "Why, is there a problem with that?"
"Oh, no, not at all. I was just surprised that we have people from Planeptune come to Lastation instead of the inverse for once."
"Nngh!" Jacob grimaced as Compa stuck the needle into his bicep. "Damn it, that hurts!"
"Jake, calm down!" Compa would have placed a reassuring hand on his back but the syringe was a bit heavy for that. "It'll be okay!"
"Anyway, about the Expo?" said IF to get back on track.
"Ah, right. Anyway, it's going to be tough and I already need to begin making arrangements. I actually asked you here today to discuss just that."
"Nope," said Neptune quickly. "We won't cosign any of your loans."
"I wish I knew about finance so I could get that joke- nngh!" Jacob grimaced again as the needle was stuck into his thigh.
"Heh," went Chian. "It's not about money. We need to transfer tools and materials, but with the monsters still… We'd risk our lives for a single screw! I'm just warnin' you but we'll probably be asking for your help more often."
"Shut up!" IF called to Jacob.
"Ah, I getcha. You want us to make sure that you don't get distracted by monsters while prepping for the Expo," reiterated Neptune.
"You're right! I'm glad you're such a quick little thinker. I'm counting on you."
"Okay, that's it," said Compa as she put away the syringe and pulled out two bottles. "Jacob, have some Dextonin and Gelatin."
"All right…" answered Jacob weakly before Compa poured the potions down his throat one at a time, bit by bit.
"So is there anything else you need or are we done here?" asked IF.
"No, that's all I wanted to say. Still, be careful of Avenir. Who knows what they're up to?"
"No need to worry, Chian." Nisa had a fire in her eyes. "Avenir's evil grasp will not stop us in the slightest. We fight on the side of justice. We will not fail!"
"It's very encouraging to hear that from you of all people, Nisa. I hope all goes well for you five."
"Jacob's walking again," Compa informed everyone as Jacob sat up on the table.
"Yeah, I feel much better. Thanks, Chian."
"Don't mention it. Now, since you're here, do you want something to eat? It'll cost you, though; I can't exactly afford to give out meals for free."
"Actually, we kind of have a job to go to but thanks for the offer," answered IF.
"Fair enough. Take care."
"It's good to be able to walk again," remarked Jacob as he did a few stretches outside Passe.
"Don't worry, my pupil; we won't do anything that ridiculously strenuous again. I'm sorry for overestimating you; I'll make sure to take baby steps next time. On that, you can trust me." Nisa gave a proud I-would-never-lie-to-you smile.
"Call me Sensei."
Jacob smiled. "Thanks, Sensei."
"So where's our next job?" asked Neptune.
IF sighed. "Neptune, I'll be truthful; you're not gonna like this. Neither are you, Nisa."
Neptune, Compa and Nisa seemed confused. Jacob, however, knew what was coming up and facepalmed.
"You've gotta be kidding me…"
I don't think that is a big problem. That part is very funny by the way.
It actually kind of is. Still, what's important is that the reader can sink their fangs into it and I've apparently accomplished that so I have no complaints.
What mistakes? I think this is a really good story! There are no mistakes. And I'm looking forward to your next chapter! Good luck and keep the good work!