I kept my head down as I walked down the street. My crimson coat flowed lightly as the wind gently passed by. My armor was stored in my inventory, so I had my alternate outfit on. Hanging off my belt, my mask moved around lightly as I walked. My “base” of sorts was just down the street, and I had just got done with a contract. Hopefully, my client is already waiting there.
As I entered my shop, I saw two people there. One of them I recognized as my client, but I didn’t recognize the other person.
“Well, the deed’s done.” I announce as I sit down at my desk, waiting for my client to come and pay.
“Well done. Here’s your pay,” my client replied as he tossed a sack of money onto my desk.
“Want a receipt?” I asked.
“No thanks, I’ve got places to be.” My client left the building after saying, which meant I was alone with some random person.
“So… do you have a contract you wish to submit?” I ask the mysterious person.
“Sure… My contract…” He said in a gruff voice as he stood up and walked over to me. “Is for you to die.”
I had just enough time to equip my armor’s chestplate under my current outfit as he pulled out a pistol and fired several bullets right into my chest, where my heart would be. He didn’t hear a ping, but it did cause my armor to release a red liquid. It’s just an illusion; I’m trying to look dead after all.
“Ah, contract complete,” he said smugly as he walked up to my body, now lying on the ground. “Just to make sure…”
He fired a few more bullets into my arm, then my leg, then at my chest again. My arm and leg actually started bleeding, but my chest faked it. After firing the shots, he dropped a sack of money on my “bleeding” chest and walked away, holstering his pistol before leaving.
“Motherfucker…” I whispered to myself as I pulled myself up.
The brief glimpse I got of his pistol told me everything. He was using a DMSD-42 Compact Arcane Energy Cannon, a Damasu-kai weapon. So those assholes had sent a hitman, got it. He’s gonna report the deed’s done, but I’m not dead. I pulled out the bullets from my arm and leg, then unequipped my shirt and waistcoat. The bullets had pierced the armor and had managed to draw blood, but they didn’t fully penetrate their intended target.
“Fine then…” I pulled out those bullets, tossed them aside, and opened up my inventory to heal myself.
Being a Machina had its perks, and I could essentially rebuild myself on the spot to restore health. I checked on the durability of my armor, and repaired it to full durability; I’m gonna need it for what I’m planning next. First, money; I collected the money I had gotten for killing someone and getting killed. Then, I got up and went into my building’s apartment section, changing into my armor and equipping my signature coat over it. Buckling up the coat, I grabbed my mask from the stand I had rested it on and looked at it.
“Kurenai… Crimson…” I reminisced on my past. My poor little sister… My mom… my dad…
I felt a few tears run down my face, then I remembered what I was doing. Wiping the tears away, I grabbed the other half of my mask out of my inventory, put it on, and waited for the HUD to initialize as I heard the visor activate with its low-pitched hum. A crimson glow illuminated the darkness of my room, but barely. I opened the curtain and let the virtual moonlight in as I opened the window.
“Let’s get started…” I whispered to myself again, jumping out the window and landing on the ground.
Quickly, I ran over to my garage and opened it to reveal my personal bike, the Crimson Chaser. Grabbing the key off the rack, I started up the bike and revved the engine a bit. That engine rev was satisfying to hear, even though this was just a game. I’m amazed how realistic this game turned out to be. With the bike ready to run, I drive off after closing the garage behind me. People saw a flash of crimson zoom by while I drove by. The streets weren’t too busy at this time of night, which helped me out. A few minutes of driving around, and I saw the guy who had “killed” me. I parked the bike by the curb, but he heard me drive up. No problem.
“Aw, shit!” He got up, running to find his vehicle.
I simply got off my bike, and stalked towards him. My suit’s dash system was already active, so I dashed towards him and simply tackled him to the ground. Then, I grabbed my short sword and held the blade to his throat. Pinned to the ground, I watched him struggle to escape, but when I put the blade up to his throat, he stopped and fear took over. A quick press of a button on the side of my mask switched the voice changer on, giving me a deep, mechanical voice that intimidated anyone who heard me talk.
“You’re working with the Yakuza, right?” I calmly asked. His fear was focused on the blade to his throat, not my voice.
“There’s a lot of Yakuza in this game, buddy!” He commented.
“The Damasu-kai. You’re working with them, right?” I asked a little more aggressively in the hopes that he would cave in easily.
“Even if I did say yes, what would you want to know?”
“Answer the question.” I stabbed his arm with my short sword, twisting the blade as he screamed in pain.
“Okay! I’m with the Damasu-kai! Now what?”
“Do you know any events they have scheduled tonight?” I removed the blade from his arm, wiping the blood off on his shirt.
“Y-yeah… O-one of the higher-ups. H-he’s visiting a- uh… a brothel tonight…:
“The one in Shibuya… by the station.”
“Thank you for your cooperation,” I got up and sheathed my blade.
“Phew… thanks a l-” I immediately took out Ruby, my personal BRSB-16 Compact Arcane Energy Cannon, and fired a single, powerful bullet into his chest, where his heart was; the damage was enough to cause blood and guts to go flying behind him a few feet.
“Karma’s a bitch,” I tell him unsparingly, shooting his arms and legs the same way he had shot me earlier. He didn’t have enough breath to survive the headshot I gave him.
Now that I had gotten that out of him, I holstered my pistol and casually walked over to my bike like nothing had happened. Any civilians watching were too scared to say anything, some NPCs too stunned to call the authorities. I heard about this…Watchmen… somewhere on a contract, but I’ve never had a run-in with them before. I think…
Setting a destination on my GPS for Shibuya station, I found the fastest route there and drove off. Nothing occurred while I drove over there in silence, the revving of the engine in my bike as I drove was a welcoming sound. A few minutes passed before I arrived, seeing a person I recognized walking into a back alley. Parking my bike in the nearest available spot, I stealthily followed him from a distance. Looking into the alley, I saw two men in black suits escorting the person I knew into a building, where I could hear terrible music playing. Even after the door closed, I could hear the god-awful music thumping and causing enough noise to alert the police for neighborhood disturbance. Of course, this was the sleazy side of Shibuya, so no one would bother.
It would be best if I went silent with this, so I activated the SFS in my armor and drew three shuriken, which were set to release an adrenaline-boosting gas that would make anyone who breathed in the toxin to go berserk. Taking careful aim, I moved from my cover down the alley and threw all three into a burning barrel nearby, which was meant to keep warm in the chilly night.
“Hey! You’re not supposed to be here!” One of the suited men yelled at me.
Where’s the gas…? Just when I decided to draw my pistol, the gas released into the air and the flames caused the gas’s effects to become even more severe, as evident by the fact that the other suited man tackled the man approaching me and started clawing at his face. The latter man drew his DMSD-42 and fired a few shots into his ally-turned-enemy, killing him. He didn’t get a chance to relax as I went up and stabbed his face with my longsword.
“Fucking hell, that was pathetic of you two. You’re both probably gonna get fired when you respawn.” I wiped the blood off my sword blade with one of their jackets, then sheathed the blade.
I picked up the DMSD-42 that was left behind by the stabbed guard, and shot the door open. The guard behind the door kicked it open, only for me to shoot him in the head. When he dropped to the ground, I threw the DMSD-42 at the wall with enough force to break the gun and leave a small crater in the wall. Whoever lived in that building, if anyone was in there, would be pissed to find that. Whatever, not my problem.
“Unauthorized entry! We have an in-” I shot the guard in the face with Lapis, my other custom BRSB-16.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m an intruder.” I said mockingly. “But I’ve got something I want to do here.”
Several NPCs approached me, all of them were females wearing nothing but bras and panties; some of them were wearing nothing. They were all trying to seduce me, but I had other plans.
“‘Scuse me, miss,” I asked one of the NPCs.
“Yes, mister~?” She responded seductively. Ugh, I hate these people…
“Did you happen to see this man?” I projected a picture of the guy I was looking for, and a different NPC answered.
“Oh! He went up to the VIP room, over there~” She pointed to a balcony at the top of the establishment, and there was a door leading to what I assumed was the VIP room.
“Thank you.” I walked away briskly, hoping to avoid any more interaction with the NPCs.
“With pleasure~!” They all replied in unison.
Some other suited men recognized me, standing up and drawing their guns. They all aimed at me, and opened fire. Too slow, fuckers. I dashed right out of the crossfire, causing them to stop shooting and a few friendly-fire kills on them. I pulled out Lapis and Ruby, then aimed at some of the men. While I spun around, I pulled the trigger and fire at them. Most hit their targets, nailing them in the arm and/or leg. Some miss, so I roll towards a table, flip it up for cover, then peek out to shoot anyone who got to close.
“Ugh, this isn’t gonna cut it... “ I tell myself. I want to use the berserk shurikens, but the NPCs in here are innocent bystanders. Well, they’re not exactly innocent… but they’re still women.
I could try using other shuriken types. What did I have…? While I check through my SFS, I shoot away at the guys trying to flank me. Explosive, maybe… Actually, screw it. Explosives it is. I holster my pistols, deploy three shurikens to each arm, and jump up. I throw three to the left and nail three guys in the eye while I throw the other three to the right. Simultaneously, all six shurikens detonate and the shrapnel ends up in the eyes of any nearby enemies. As I land, I draw my pistols and fire into any living members of the Yakuza, ending their pathetic, virtual lives.
“Now then... time to deal with what I came here for…” I march up to the VIP room, shooting the guards who just woke up with hangovers; how they fell asleep in this dump, I will never know.
I initially pull on the doorknob, as if I expected the door to be unlocked. No shit, it was locked. Pressing a button the visor, I activated the scanner and looked through. I saw one player signature, and several NPC signatures. No one by the door, good. Using remote calibration, I changed the output on my pistols to do enough damage to break the door knob. After firing at the door, I kicked it open and scared all the NPCs away. My main target sat on the couch, completely naked.
“Dude, that’s disgusting. Put some pants on.” I tell him as the naked NPCs ran out the room.
He actually went to put his pants on… When he did, he pulled out a DMSD-42 and fired at me. I dodged just in the nick of time, and fired my own guns at him. The rounds missed, but it didn’t matter to me. He kicked the table up to use as cover while I recalibrated Ruby and Lapis to fire through the table with enough leftover force to pierce the target’s body.
“Come and get it, loser!” He taunts.
“You obviously don’t know who I am, it seems.” I respond as he blindly shoots in my general direction; all his bullets miss.
“Alright, who are you then?!” His gun seems to use magic-based agitators, since there wasn’t any overheating going on. That means that it’s prone to slight delays before firing.
I recalibrate Lapis to use enough force to knock the gun out of my enemy’s hand while I prepare Ruby to shoot through the table and into his gun-wielding arm. The moment his gun fires and the charge delay kicks in, I fire Lapis at the gun, then I fire Ruby through the table. Both hit their intended targets, and I deactivate my scanner. Kicking the table aside, I see the guy lying on the floor and holding his wound; my bullet hit him right in the middle of his forearm.
“Okay, I’ve got some questions for you. If you answer truthfully, I’ll make your virtual death as painless as possible. You lie to me? I torture you.” I casually tell him.
“I don’t think tungsten bullets are going to hurt an incubus all that much.” He smirks.
“Shouldn’t have told me that…” I say as I load anti-demon vials into the cylindrical “chambers” on Ruby and Lapis; I then spin the “chambers” to ensure that they have the charges necessary to fire what I needed. “Now, first question. Are you with the Damasu-kai?”
“That seems like something an idiot would ask.” I shoot his arm with the anti-demon round, with enough charge infused into the bullet to make the anti-demon concoction I created to spread into him, which made him cry out in agony.
“Don’t give me any smart-ass answers.” I load another vial and spin the chamber again. “I just want to confirm, that’s all.”
“Ugh, motherfucker…” I put the barrel of the gun to his chest. “O-okay, okay… I’m with the Damasu-kai...”
“Excellent. Next question. Any new shipments going in and out within the next two weeks?”
“U-uh…” I quickly switch on my built-in lie-detection system and analyze. “I-I think so…”
“Who’s involved, where are they meeting, and what time?”
“T-there’s one… tomorrow night. Uh… 9:30PM, sharp. Some major members of the Damasu-kai will be there.” My scanners detected a truthful answer.
“More details. Who exactly is going?”
“I- uh… I don’t really remember… They didn’t discuss this in the meetings…” Whoops, he lied. I fire another anti-demon round into his pelvis, right next to his virtual Babby-maker.
“OW, motherfucker!!!” I shoot another round on the opposite side of his simulated manhood, purposefully missing the “package” to torture him.
“Don’t lie to me. Who’s involved?” I calmly load in more anti-demon rounds and spin.
“Goddamn… I didn’t sign up for this shit…” he muttered, giving my reason to put the barrel of Lapis to his chin. “O-okay… okay… Uh… They mentioned something about one of the big bosses being involved. He goes by the name of ‘Chaser.’”
That’s such a lame name…
“Is that all you know?”
“Oh! He’s meeting with a girl, one of his side chicks. Her name was… Chain..? Something along those lines…”
“Anything else?” My scanner had proven all his responses true after shooting twice.
“They’re dealing some drugs… Chick’s paying in cash with money she converted from her allowance. I tell ya, these rich kids are a pain in the ass.”
“Oh, I know. I know the feeling all too well. How much is she paying?”
“I don’t know about that, I swear! They never told me how much she was paying. My guess, based off the cargo she’s buying, should be around… a couple hundred thousand IRL?”
“I would’ve thought it’d be a few million…”
“Actually, Chaser said he’d be getting her high-grade goods, so it’s probably worth a few million.”
“That all?” He told the truth, so I’ll own up once he finishes confessing.
“I’m gonna be out of a job after this… IF they find out I told you…”
“Not my problem.”
“But uh… yeah. That’s it. I got nothing else for ya.”
“Thank you for your cooperation,” I get up and shoot him in the head with Lapis, then in the heart with Ruby; both used enough force to kill fifty incubi lined up in a row with enough armor plating altogether to create a light tank.
If he wasn’t dead, then he must’ve had some really good armor. I watched as his body bled out, the liquid red spreading on the floor and making contact with the toes of my armor. His head was gone, along with everything that was connected to his upper left torso. Seriously, no one could survive that, unless their regen skill was insanely high.
“Cheers to you, asshole,” I poured a cup of whiskey over the remains of the carcass and dropped the glass right after. “Time to go now.”
As I walked out, the female NPCs crowded around me. I had to brush them away to leave the brothel. When I managed to get to my bike, a man in a black suit and black sunglasses approached me. What kind of dumbass wears sunglasses at night…?
“Excuse me, sir. Are you Kurenai?” The man asked.
“If you’re looking to input a contract, please refer to my business office.” I automatically say; this kind of thing happens often enough for me to automatically warrant this response.
“This is an urgent matter. But if you really want to take this to your business office, that would probably be for the best. My associates are already there, anyway.” The man replied to me.
“Very well. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be leaving now.” I revved up my bike, and drove off after he nodded in response to my leaving.
A few people looked by as I drove off, heading back to my office. When I finally arrived, I parked the bike in the garage and entered my living space. I set my coat on the coatrack and unequipped my armor, swapping into a fresh set of my casual clothing. As I buttoned up my waistcoat, I walked out into my business office and saw a group of girls sitting on the couches, though one of the girls was in my chair. Another man wearing a black suit and sunglasses was standing in the middle of the room with his arms crossed.
“Uhh… Can I help you?” I tied my ascot as I approached the man.
“You are the mercenary known as Kurenai, correct?” This man asked.
“Indeed I am…” I replied, perplexed by the current situation.
“Excellent. I have a long-term contract to submit to you.”
“And that would be?” I walked over to my chair and looked at the girl sitting in it.
She wore a white blouse, a silver skirt that reaches her knees, an orange waistcoat, a dark green necktie, silver fingerless gloves, and a top hat. Her height was inhumanly short, and would match height levels with a dwarf.
“I’m working directly with the Japanese Government and the developers of this VRMMO game. We’ve assembled an elite squadron that is currently being assigned to this area to deal with a recent influx of Yakuza activity. Due to your previous experiences in hunting this particular Yakuza group, we’re going to assign you to lead this group in dismantling the Yakuza.” The man certainly seemed to be a governmental official, and his facts did seem to check out.
“Okay… I’m finally being contracted to do what I’ve been doing for a while. At least this way, I can get paid taking down the Damasu-kai.” I respond, leaning against my desk and looking at the short girl in the top hat.
“From your response, I can assume you’re eager to take in this contract.”
“You are indeed correct, good sir.”
“Excellent. We shall pay you very handsomely for your services, and we may even appoint you permanent team leader if you enjoy working with this squadron.”
“Sounds good to me.” I looked around and counted all the people in the room. Excluding the official and myself, there appeared to be seven girls. “A thought just occurred to me...”
“What is it, Kurenai?”
"Nah, never mind."
“Are you sure you don't want to discuss this?”
“It's fine, trust me.”
"This situation reminds me of a harem though..." I mutter under my breath.
“Like I'd go for a guy like you...” One of the girls mutters, having been able to hear me somehow. She was wearing a simple grey shirt with long sleeves under her dark red short jacket, her fingerless gloves, thigh-level grey shorts, purple mid-calf boots with black laces, and a set of goggles on her head.
“Oh?” I was just barely able to hear her, but I could tell she said something, so I walked over to her. "Did you say something?"
“So what if I did?” She scoffed.
“Please give me your name, callsign, position on the team, and avatar species, now.” I command her.
“Name: Hitomi Kimura, Callsign: Ira, position: Sniper, avatar: Gorgon” She stands up and salutes me as though I’m her superior officer; technically, I am her commanding officer now… “Hey, wait a minute!”
“Well then, Ms. Kimura.” I say. “If you operate under the callsign Ira, then you must be a very wrathful person. Can’t say that for sure, but you sure do act like a tsundere.”
“There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell I’d have feelings for you!” She scoffs again, crossing her arms and looking to her side as she closes her eyes.
“Anyone want to testify her tsundere personality?” I ask the other girls. All of them give a silent testimony to Ira’s tsundere behavior with a simple nod.
“W-wha- !" She pouts. "I thought we were supposed to be a team..."
“You know, Kurenai-taichou has a point.” Another girl spoke up, wearing what appeared to a female version of my current outfit in pink and light blue. She didn’t have an ascot though, instead wearing a decorated bow-tie that matched her outfit’s color.
“And you are?” I looked over at her.
“Name: Naoko Inoue, Callsign: Superbia, position: Vanguard agent, avatar: Machina.” She replied with barely any hint of emotion.
“Naoto-chan?” I unintentionally blurt out, unable to deny her physical similarities to my late sister. That blue hair… those blue eyes… She even had a Machina avatar like me and wore an outfit that mirrored my own.
“Naoto? My name is Naoko, Kurenai-taichou.” She inquisitively replied.
“Sorry, Naoko-san. You just… remind me of someone familiar…” I reply to her.
“You may refer to me as Naoko-chan if you’d like. Hearing a higher-ranking officer refer to me as ‘Naoko-san’ makes me rather uncomfortable.” She humbly replied.
“Indeed.” Naoko-chan didn’t share a personality with my sister, though.
“I take it you are ready to accept the contract?” The man kindly reminded everyone of their reasoning for coming here.
“H-huh? Oh, right. Yes, I’ll accept.” I extend my hand towards the man for a handshake, which he respectfully completed to confirm my acceptance.
“Splendid! Your first mission with the Sin Squadron is to get to know them better. I shall leave you to that now.” Once our handshake was released, he said this and immediately left without another word.
“H-huh… Okay then...” I was a little confused with what he meant, but I’m pretty sure he meant that I was to learn about the team more and adapt to their presence on a daily basis. “So… I’d like you all to introduce yourselves, please.”
“I’m Koneko Natsumi, Vanguard agent under the callsign Acedia.” A cat-like girl stood up to introduce yourself.
“I can tell you’re a cat Beastial, you don’t need to tell me.” I tell Koneko.
“Of course, sir!” She enthusiastically replied.
“I’m the heavy gunner of group, Touka Ichinose. I’m a succubus under the codename ‘Luxuria’.” A girl with folded-back demon wings stood up and introduced herself. “I’m also our seductress.”
“That’s not a position…” Koneko told me in a condescending voice.
“Now for my intro!” the short girl jumped onto my desk to introduce herself. “I’m Mitsuru Nakashima! My position is engineer and support agent, and my callsign is ‘Avaritia’! My height should be an obvious indication to my avatar's species!”
“I can tell you’re a dwarf. That was literally the first thing I noticed about you when I walked in.”
“Why were you sitting in my chair?”
“I didn't want to stand!”
“Why did you jump on my desk...?”
“Why not?!” She zealously yells out in joy.
“I do important things with that desk...”
"Confidential meetings with clients, organizing data, sorting files, calculating my pay rates and wages, researching Damasu-kai activity. I could go on."
"Oh. I'm sorry, Taichou!" She jumps off my desk and finds another spot to sit down at.
“Anyway, who’s next?”
“I’m Gula, the Dullahan spotter for our sniper. My real name is Yoko Sasaki.” Another girl wearing dark-colored clothing replies to my question.
“I assume you have a mount of some kind.”
“What is it?”
“Honda NM4-01 bike, modded.”
“I got a modded Honda CBR650F in my garage.”
“Hm, not bad. Good choice, Taichou.”
“You’ve got good tastes too, Yoko-san.”
“Thanks.” I can tell the two of us were going to get along fairly well.
“Last but not least,” said the final girl. “Is me. I’m Kiriko Yukimura. Healer and support agent under the callsign ‘Invidia” here.”
“Got it. And your avatar’s species?”
“I’m an elf, Kurenai-taicho.”
“So, we’ve got an Elf, a Dullahan, a Succubus, a Dwarf, a Machina, a Neko, and a Gorgon. Lovely.”
“Seven girls, seven species, seven sins. Not much else to it,” Ira said.
“Yeah, yeah. Whatever.”
“Now what, Taichou?” Koneko said.
“It’s getting late, isn’t it?”
“It should be around 2200 hours IRL right now,” Superbia said. “Perhaps we should go to sleep.”
“Alright then. Off to sleep we go.” The girls all nodded, and we all logged off.
As I removed the ApexGear from my head, I couldn’t stop thinking about my current situation. There’s no way this was going to end well at all for me. At all. So many antics are going to ensue… Girls are going to get triggered. I’m going to be blamed for indecent things I didn’t want to happen. Ira is going to be a major Tsundere and is going to be hard to work with at first... Superbia oddly resembles my late sister for some reason. Luxuria is gonna be a bit difficult if she really represents lust and is a huge flirt. Gula might actually be the most normal girl of the bunch, not sure how she represents… whatever sin Gula is supposed to mean. Gluttony? I think so… Acedia’s neko avatar is rather… cute, though her cat-like mannerisms are a little off-putting. Invidia is fairly polite, and she seems like a great support agent. Avaritia seems like a great engineer, and she’ll be another great support agent.
Seems like I was tasked to lead a well-made team. And yet, one thought never ceased to escape my thoughts.
“Why am I being assigned to manage a harem…?”