Jun 23, 2021 8:58 PM
Bella is an otome villainess
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The space is bright purple and stretches on for what seems like forever. The only other thing in it that can be perceived is a rounded woman with a bright face and glowing feathery wings. 

"Congratulations! You have been selected by the ineffable Will of the Multiverse to reincarnate as the villainess of an otome game. Kind of weird, but it's become a huge thing over ten or so of your years in at least a dozen universal branes adjacent to yours. I think one of the Will's avatars read a light novel in your world, honestly. Now, you won't be reincarnating into an actual otome game from your world," the angel says. 

She taps her chin. "I don't get it, but according to my guidelines it's actually more in genre for us to create a custom otome-style world for you? It seems weird to me, but the universe molding crews love it, so we get lots of brownie points at inter-department parties. In any case, you'll be reincarnating into the soon-to-be-created Kingdom of Villarosa, setting of the non-existent smash hit otome game, manga, anime, and Broadway musical Roses of Villarosa!" She throws her arms out enthusiastically. 

"You'll be becoming the much-hated villainess of the story, fated to be sentenced to a horrible bad ending for the crime of being the gorgeous and charismatic heroine's rival in love and for generally being an awful person. I'm sure you can picture how the story goes already," she adds sympathetically. "You're definitely going to be a woman in your next life, and you'll also be attracted to men, though you may choose whether you want to be attracted to women also in your new life or be strictly into the cute boys."

"If you object, all I can say is that management apologizes for the inconvenience, but the Will's... well, will is final. On the upside, though, the reincarnation process will ensure you don't suffer any severe body or gender dysphoria, as well as preventing too much homesickness for your old life. Those safeties are there to prevent any depressing suicides. I'm sure you'll be relieved to know that you won't have to relive being a baby or toddler, you'll recover your old identity and memories when you're a teenager, a few days or weeks before the start of 'canon.' Another benefit is that because we haven't actually sent the specification for Villarosa to the universe molders, we have a chance to tweak things to make sure that your otome villainess reincarnation is to your taste. Just pick what you like best, and when we're done the molders get to work, I download a batch of fresh fake meta-knowledge about Roses of Villarosa to your soul, and you get reincarnated."

"So let's get started, okay?"

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"What is an otome," says Bella, who, last thing she remembers, was getting hit by a van.

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The angel blinks at her. 

"An otome is a genre of game from your and similar universes. It's a kind of visual novel where, possibly in addition to some more momentous main plot, the female protagonist's goal is to romance one--or more, depending on the game--male characters."

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"And you are proposing to, prompted by my - death - create an entire universe and slot me in as the villain of a plot that does not in fact otherwise already exist, which you expect to work - how?"

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"Well, I'm not on the universe creation team, I'm in customer service," she chirps. "Creating the plot of the game is what we're here for! Or you could just abdicate all the choices, but that seems strictly worse."

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"No, no, I'm not abdicating anything, just - asking on - backround - I was recently killed, you see, I would like to get oriented to, uh, this. Do you do this a lot?"

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"Well, the otome thing specifically is new."

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"But creating entire universes, that you do all the time. Are many people in these universes pulled from deaths in others?"

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"Well, in a general reincarnation sense, yes, but most of them aren't offered their memories back."

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"Why do I get my memories?"

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"The Will finds it entertaining to design universes around a central, well, plotline. And for the plotline to be interesting compared to just reading a book, there has to be someone who knows what's going on and can try to avoid or embrace their fate on purpose."

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"Yeah, but am I special, or is this random? After it's all over do I get reincarnated again? Have I been reincarnated before?"

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"You in particular..." she turns her head as though to examine something Bella can't see. "Have not been reincarnated before. You're special in the sense that you have certain meta-metaphysical qualities that suggest you would make a particularly entertaining protagonist. After you die you will obey whatever rules apply to dead people in the universe in question, which if the answer is 'none' may result in your being scooped up again for reincarnation although it's highly unlikely you'll be offered your memories back a second time in a row."

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"- is what happens to dead people in the universe in question a choice I get to make?"

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"Well, it's not one of the core options to choose between, but each option has a certain amount of freeform customization potential beyond simply the discrete choices. In order to get any kind of afterlife you're definitely going to have to choose a magic level of low, medium, or high." 

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"That's not a lot of - granularity, are all the choices like that? What process fills in the details?"

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"Any details you don't choose to fill in will be handled by the universe design team."

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"But I can choose however much? - am I working with a time limit here?"

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"Oh, no, we're in dilated time here, and I'm psychologically incapable of getting bored!" the angel assures her brightly. "There are some things you could try to decide where I would have to tell you 'no, that's not allowed' or 'that's only allowed if you make thus and such a choice among the discrete options,' but yes, arbitrary levels of detail!"

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"...with that much control over the situation how am I going to be induced to serve a villain role?"

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"Well, you can't choose options that completely preclude it, but you can in fact choose not to behave villainously, that's a feature, not a bug."

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"So it's not going to be, like, a situation where the society is guaranteed to be so fucked up that they only think people are heroes if they commit genocide, or something?"

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"No, no. That wouldn't be a good otome game at all."

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"What kind of conversation would we be having if I were a lesbian and strenuously objected to having that changed?"

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"Well...you'd be less likely to have been chosen if you were a lesbian who would object strenuously, but...the Will's decisions are final."

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"Can I decide that what happens to dead people in my universe is that they get to go give the Will a swift kick?"

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