GoVe Ch.24: Back to Reality
 
“... ah.”

When Erika opened her eyes, she was staring at the white ceiling in Mina’s room. The last thing she remembered, was how the Dimension Vessel swallowed her whole. It was a... peculiar logout animation, yo say the least.

Erika reached toward the headgear and pushed it off. Her arms were heavy and sluggish for some reason. On the other hand, Mina quickly removed the helmet and hopped off the bed.

“... eh?”

Erika gave her legs the command to move, but they didn’t listen. They remained still on the bed, like pieces of meat which had nothing to do with Erika. In fact, it wasn’t only her legs. She felt numbness across her whole body.

D-did I seriously just catch Vireco?!

Erika twisted on the bed in order get her body to move. Her numb muscles returned to function after a few seconds.

Phew, that was scary.

Her fingers obediently, but stiffly, stretched when she commanded them. Rather than retaining sensations from VR, Erika felt that her brain just forgot how to control the real body for a moment. It wasn’t the rare Vireco, it was simply the brain’s reaction to the odd technology that was “Virtual Dive”.

Erika read about first-timers who experienced similar symptoms. The Virtual Dive forced the brain to function in an unusual manner, as it remapped the brain’s functions onto a whole new body: the VR avatar. The brain couldn’t smoothly switch between controlling these two different “bodies”.

Most people claimed, that they got used to this routine after enough Virtual Dives. In addition, some researchers suggested that the brain itself learned to adapt to these switches. Hence, Erika felt at ease about her odd experience.

“As we promised, I’m putting this away.”

“Bah, okay...”

Erika snatched the two Voceans, and put them on top of the tall closet. There were now three headgears lined up in this unreachable area.

“You don’t happen to have any extra Voceans, do you, Mini?”

“Nope, I only won three of ‘em in the damn SoulClay tournament .”

It didn’t seem that Mina lied, but Erika searched inside the closet any. She was relieved to find nothing.

Before heading home, Erika felt worried about leaving the little Mina alone.

“How is your left hand?”

“Still frozen like useless shit.”

Mina lifted her dysfunctional arm, and watched how it helplessly fell downwards.

“If it doesn’t heal by tomorrow, then you should see a doctor.”

“Bah! Don’t wanna!”

Erika sighed at the stubborn response. Going to the clinic was the reasonable thing to do, when your arm wasn’t moving for a few good days. Alas, Erika couldn’t force this logic on the little brat.

She was strongly rejected, no matter how she presented the topic. In the end, she had to give up for the day. There was no telling whether a prolonged Vireco was truly dangerous, and Erika, too, wanted to believe that everything will be fine.

“Try stretching your left hand every now and then, to not let the muscles weaken.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Make sure you go to school tomorrow.”

“Sure, sure.”

“Don’t forget to lock the door, it was open when I came.”

“Are ya my mom or something?”

“Huhu, you can call me ‘mommy’ if you want~”

Erika stretched a hand to pat Mina’s head-

“Gah!”

-but, she was bitten.

What an unsocial, little doggie.

Erika massaged her injured hand with mixed feelings. Mina was a classmate, but her small size and bratty behaviour were on the level of a grade student, at best. Erika couldn’t find it in herself to seriously scold Mina for childish behaviour.

“See you tomorrow at school, I HOPE.”

“I said I’ll be there!”

The two girls parted and Erika went home.

Erika stayed at Mina’s place for over three hours. It wasn’t exactly a normal time span for a “home visit” by a fellow classmate. Erika’s cover story turned out like this:

I helped Mina with the school material she missed. Mina is a slow learner and she’s lazy, so we ended up studying for over three hours.

In the end, we still haven’t covered everything. So, I’ll probably have to visit her tomorrow as well... sigh.

Erika played different versions of the tale in her head, until it was polished into a bulletproof story. When she returned home, Erika explained these “circumstances” to her parents.

“Grrrrr!”

The black hellhound, Constantine, didn’t buy Erika’s fishy story. He glared at Erika, and snarled at her to no end. On the other hand, Laura completely fell for the story.

“You’re such a hard worker, Eri.”

Laura patted her daughter’s tall shoulders for encouragement.

“Knowing how to be responsible for others is an important skill in life. The earlier you learn it, the better.”

Reidel also gave his encouragement, even though it sounded more like a preach than a praise. That giant never expressed too much emotion.

Once she finished her dinner, Erika dropped on the sofa in the living room.

“Say, dad.”

“Hm?”

“There was a buzz about this ‘VR Vireco’ thing at school today. Many students discussed it.”

“Har, you kids always talk about the latest gadgets. Maybe these lazy news about Vireco weren’t that bad after all.”

Reidel sneered and roughly stroke the hellhound by his side.

“A few students in my class claimed, that Vireco may continue for a couple of days. Is that really possible?”

“Hrm, I’m not an expert on the subject, but I’d say ‘yes’. Vireco strikes the strongest when the user is so invested in his VR experience, that he forgets about his real body. It’s really foolish.”

“Haha, yes it’s really silly.”

Sadly, I know one fool who seems to fit the bill...

Erika secretly sighed, and continued to ask questions like an innocent, curious daughter.

“Can it be dangerous if that ‘Vireco’ thing lasts for too long?”

“Hrm, it depends. If a vital organ is affected, then it can even prove fatal. We had a patient who suffered heart failure, after he was stabbed in a game.”

“R-really...?”

Erika was taken aback by this distributing information. The deeper she dug into Vireco, the more shocking truths she discovered.

Luckily, Mina was probably safe. An arm was by no means a vital organ, and Mina didn’t seem to suffer from anything beyond numbness. Nonetheless, Erika wished to confirm the little critter’s safety.

“One boy in my class claimed, that he suffered from Vireco in his arm. Supposedly, he couldn’t move it for a few days. But, it completely recovered after a while. Is that possible? Sounds fishy~”

“Hrm, perhaps. Say, if he kept using VR while affected with Vireco, then he could prolong the effect. Depending on which part of the arm was affected, it could entirely recover without any noticeable consequences.”

“My, that’s interesting.”

Erika sighed in relief at this information. These were the first good news about Vireco today.

“Har, still. That boy is quite foolish, getting a Vireco like that. I hope he’s not a friend of yours?”

“Haha, of course not.”

Erika learned all she wanted, and left to her room.

Phew, today was so exhausting.

She met a little beast with a mystical Vireco, she was rammed by a dragon, she befriended a pixie and she trashed a raid boss flower. Way too much action for her one day in her peaceful life.

Erika decided to bring down the curtain on this abnormal day, by cutting early to bed. Little did she know, that today’s craziness was just the beginning...