Accel World:Volume 12 Sky Blue Wings Chapter 1
The world was spinning.
He felt drunk, as if he had been hit by the Yellow King's - Yellow Radio's - special move, "Silly Go Round". But it was nothing of the sort. Because this was the real world - the twenty-third floor of a high-rise apartment building in North Kouenji, the living room of the Arita family.
The reason Haruyuki was unsteady on his legs, lurching forward, his vision spinning and inverting, wasn't a fever or alcohol or strange mushrooms. Just ten seconds ago, he had dived into Kuroyukihime's handmade VR space... codenamed "ZG01", it had, even after the Link Out, continued to strongly affect Haruyuki's sense of balance.
"U... eep..." A strange sound leaked out of his mouth, and Haruyuki desperately pressed both his hands against it. But the feeling that his stomach was about to do somersaults wouldn't go away.
"Bear with it... you can hold on, Haruyuki-kun!"
Hearing that voice, he looked to the nearby sofa, where Kuroyukihime was also swaying slightly with a green face. In front of the sword master who he respected and loved, he couldn't let the mentaiko spaghetti in his stomach come up, especially when she had personally cooked it for him just an hour ago. Standing up was making him dizzy, so he retreated to the sofa to sit down.
But he stumbled again, and veered off his planned course by about thirty degrees. There was no way he could correct himself now, and his waist began to fall as if half his body had collapsed-
Instead of the hard surface of the sofa, a soft and unusually alluring feeling wrapped around him, from his buttocks to the middle of his back. At the same time, a gentle voice spoke by his ear.
"Ara ara. Are you all right, Crow-san?"
Confused, he turned his head to try and understand the situation. Somehow, instead of the sofa, he had ended up sitting on the third person in the room.
"Eh, ah, s-sorry...!"
Haruyuki made frantically to stand up, but before he could do so, supple arms reached out from behind him and wrapped around his chest.
"It's fine. Here, let the bad feelings all fly away~"
With that voice, and the hands rubbing his chest, the dizziness was really starting to fade away. Instead, it was completely replaced by surprise. Haruyuki was, it seemed, sitting on the lap of the girl who seemed to be able to use debuffs in real life, Kurasaki Fuuko. The drunkenness he had been experiencing up till then vanished.
"...just how long do you plan on hugging him!?"
It was Kuroyukihime, who seemed to have recovered from her own dizziness. From the glass table, she picked up one of the roasted mochi snacks intended to go with tea, and headshotted Haruyuki with it.
Five minutes later.
Haruyuki, whose senses had finally returned to normal, rubbed his head and said with a sigh, "Senpai, even though you made this VR space... it's a little off. When you enter, your eyes spin, and when you leave it feels like you're drunk..."
"Y-yeah... I didn't think this would happen to me too. Speaking of which, why is Fuuko the only one who's fine!?"
Fuuko, who had returned at the same time as Haruyuki and Kuroyukihime, lifted a glass of cold tea to her lips and laughed. "I've never gotten motion sickness before. Even when playing 2D racing games in the car, I'm perfectly fine."
In this case, "2D" referred to games which weren't played with a Full Dive, but rather opened in a normal window on a virtual desktop. In other words, your five senses would still be attuned to reality, and the acceleration of the automatic car you were in, as well as the G-force you experienced from turning and such, wouldn't be the same as that of the car in the racing game. Unable to bear even imagining it, Haruyuki mustered up a weak smile.
"T-that's amazing... I thought I was good with motion sickness too, but I give up on this already."
"Ufufu, it's okay to spend a while more getting used to it, Crow-san. There's still a long night ahead of us."
"A-are you still intending to continue?" Haru asked, his smile stiffening.
Fuuko nodded as if it was obvious, and turned towards Kuroyukihime, who was buried exhaustedly in a nearby sofa. "Of course. Since Sacchan worked so hard to make it... a "Null Gravity VR Space" that should have originally been impossible."
That was true.
The name of Kuroyukihime's handmade VR space, "ZG01", stood for "Zero Gravity Number 1". What the three of them had just Full Dived into a few minutes ago was a virtual world where the feeling of gravity was completely canceled, something the manufacturers of the Neuro Linkers themselves had prohibited.
Of course, this application and Brain Burst were unrelated, meaning they had dived in for only fifteen minutes. Even so, Haruyuki's sense of balance had been completely paralyzed, and in the split second after returning to reality, he had been assaulted by strong gravity and a feeling of drunkenness. Wondering if it being prohibited by the manufacturers would make it obstacle-free, Kuroyukihime had painstakingly created the zero G space, and connected it directly to Brain Burst.
For some reason, there was a certain rumor circulating in the Accelerated World right now. A rumor that a month after the Hermes Code Race, on the coming July 5th, a new stage for normal battle use would be released - and furthermore, it would be an "Interplanetary Stage" with a completed null gravity environment.
"If the rumors turn out to be true, whether or not we can get used to zero G could make a huge difference..." Saying that partially to himself, Haruyuki suddenly clenched his fists and continued, "I'll work hard. By tonight, I'll show that I can at least get a little used to it. Senpai, let's try again!"
It was a line full of passion, but Kuroyukihime did not immediately respond. After a moment, she slipped off the sofa wordlessly, her eyes still closed. Normally, she would reply with "Yes, that's the spirit!" in this kind of situation, but now, with Haruyuki watching over her-
A few seconds later, her eyelids finally opened slightly, and she looked at the ceiling with lidded eyes. From her lips that only moved a little came a single word, "...bath."
"I'm going to take a bath."
Kuroyukihime stood up, her upper body swaying in an unstable way. Having come to the Arita household straight from Umesato middle school, she was still wearing her school uniform. And even though Fuuko had gone back to her house before coming here, she was for some reason still wearing her high school uniform.
Fuuko stood up, smiling exasperatedly at Kuroyukihime, who was carrying a huge sports bag that seemed to contain a change of clothes. "Sorry, Crow-san. We'll be using the bath first. I'll take care of Sacchan for a bit. In that state, she might drown in the bathtub."
"Y-yea?" Stiffening, Haruyuki thought about Fuuko's words. He understood that they basically meant "I want to bathe with Kuroyukihime." Although the bath was prepared, he had intended to use it after the null gravity training, so the thought had caught him a little by surprise. "Y-yes! Please, take your time!"
Even so, his upper body shifted into standing mode from the sofa, and Haruyuki sent the two of them off to the door.
Supporting the still-swaying Kuroyukihime with her left hand, Fuuko opened the living room door with her right. Suddenly, she looked over her shoulder and asked, "How about this? Crow-san, since it's troublesome, why don't you join us..."
Her sentence trailed off as Kuroyukihime's fingers flashed with speed and pinched Fuuko's cheeks.
"Ish hursh, Hahyan." (It hurts, Sacchan.)
While pulling Fuuko, who was complaining slightly and smiling, along behind her, Kuroyukihime disappeared down the corridor. Fuuko, who was flailing and facing this way, pulled back her left hand and shut the door with a bang, and Haruyuki let out the sigh that he had been holding in.
Like that, he sank into the sofa and looked at the analog clock on the wall.
The two hands had finally turned and pointed at twelve. It was the last Friday of June, and although he didn't know why, he had received a mail from his mother saying that she would not be back that night. In other words, it would be another long night.