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Pirates and Evenstar join a VRMMO in the Troubleverse
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When Hyacinth comes home to her new apartment for the first time after a long day at university, it's to the sight of moving bots just finishing dropping off the last of her stuff and moving furniture into place. The full-immersion VR pod her parents gave her is safely hooked up in the pod room, her bed is in her bedroom, she has chairs and a desk and some bookshelves. Clothes are mostly still in boxes, waiting to be hung up in the closet. Holovid and a cozy chair occupy the living room. She doesn't have any food in the small kitchen yet.

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Hyacinth - (she's still getting used to the name) - sets down her ill-fitting body on the side of her bed. 

It has been pretty much the worst month of her life. She had thought that because it was clear to her, that because the love and the joy inside her that bubbled up when she finally put on the dress was so shockingly obvious, that it would be obvious to everyone she cared about too.

That was wrong, and a disastrous month later has seen her move out of her old family home on the seashore for this cramped apartment. UBI's caught her, sure, but god was it ever a headache getting the papers together and moving everything out. Her family fought her the whole way, but they had to admit that she was allowed to leave if she wanted to - 

She pushes up her glasses and presses her palms against her eyes just to bathe in the soothing blackness for a while. 

All because of that damn assignment in her creative writing course and some well-meaning advice from that author at the conference to "look at what scares you." 

She has no idea what she's doing. University is a week on and a week off now, and she's been doing her best to throw herself into the work, but now she's got nothing to do for nine whole days. Any other week this would be a vacation she'd welcome, but going back to her friends in Soul Reavers is impossible, her family's in the fucking guild, it'd be awkward as hell. 

She hasn't got anything to eat. She should go get groceries but she's exhausted. 

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She gets up and paces over to the window, looking out at the five feet of alley before the window faces another brick wall. It lets in light, but it's a far cry from the seaside view she's used to. 

She wants out.

She wants out of this whole situation. 

It's ridiculous and unfair and stupid. 

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... She finds herself in the pod room. Her feet must have carried her in here on their own. 

She checks over the pod. It's something to do. 

The nutrient solution's fully stocked, unlike her fridge. Of course.

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... She could try CORA. 

It's the hot new thing, supposedly better than Realms of Dragons. No guild in it for her, but maybe what she needs is a fresh start. 

A fresh reroll. 

Come to think of it, she hasn't been in full-dive before... knowing this. 

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She's in the pod before the thought even fully forms, her violet dress flapping against the edge of the pod awkwardly. She pulls it in, settles the neural stimulator on her head, and lays back. 

For all her family's reluctance to accept her, they didn't skimp on this present. She'll be safe in here. 

It's always a little scary to accept the dive. If the feed system doesn't work she could starve herself unknowingly. But right now, she needs out.

Hyacinth settles back, tenses for a moment - this part is always uncomfortable - and accepts the prick of the intravenous line to the underside of her right wrist. There's more, but she doesn't like to think about it. This is clean. Medical. A safety feature, really. The rest happens once she's under and is gone by the time she wakes, so it's like it never happened. 

She lays her head back against the comfortable pillow, and sends the familiar mental motion through the neural crown...

And her room vanishes.

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And with a flicker of light, her starspace opens up around her. 

She's had it since she was a child. A small plane of stars, to launch and edit programs from. Her own little magic factory. Some of it even works based on her own little bits of code. She's no expert, but she can read an API. 

Her body is more slight here, a little more androgynous and formless. She doesn't have a proper avatar here. Never set it up, for... some reason. 

She traces a symbol - [Search] - then wills for CORA to appear. 

After a few moments of flicking through lore she's brought to a character generation screen. She installed it before the move. Hoping for... something. 

Now it's blindingly obvious what she wanted.

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Character creation sliders blur under her will. She knows what she wants. 

She wants the body she'll never have. 

She wants to be free. 

She wants braids. Long ones, down to her waist. Lavender hair. Magic. Real magic. Glasses, of course, can't not have them. A pair of fox ears, so Tod Sifv for the race. A smaller, shorter body. Slight breasts. Between her legs can be standard for girls. It's not like she's committed to playing CORA. There'll be another fulldive MMO along if she doesn't like it. Even though she can't reroll this - 

It's good enough. 

She'll never have another first chance. 

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And, after a long blurry moment, she just is.

As she dreamed herself.

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She has fox ears. And breasts. And a distinct lack of something she's used to between her legs. Her frame is shorter, her skin a little more sensitive. There's a fluttery sensation in her stomach. 

She could stay on this character selection screen for a long time.

It feels right. In a way that no other body she's worn ever has. 

... Suddenly, it seems blindingly obvious why she played Undead in Realms of Dragons. The feeling of having a rotting, wrong body is just everyday for her. It doesn't surprise her, the way it did other players. It doesn't feel wrong. The unnatural strength of being Undead was just... how she lived. 

But this body is full of energy. She feels like her heart is going to burst, it feels so right.

She grins irrepressibly. "Hyacinth," she says to herself. Her voice is light, bubbly... A little too cute actually. 

She tunes it downwards a little. Keep it feminine, but she'd like something... a little more husky and soft, actually... does she want to keep her Canadian accent? 

"Hyacinth." 

There, that's a little better.

She looks at the confirm button. 

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Does she want this.

Forever and ever.

To be her, in the realms of CORA. 

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Heck yes!

But she hasn't checked the skill trees yet, it's tempting to hit confirm but her build -

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Alright so if she just consults the CORA strategy guide she has open in this other simulspace, she should take Ranged Cast Magic for any form of blasting or offensive casting. For defensive casting she should take Self Cast Magic, and if she wants to make magic items of any kind, Sustain Magic. There are a lot of more specialized trees but she wants to be an enchanter of the most generalist type she can be.

Her race gives her Affinity: Arcane for free, which is tremendously versatile, so the question is whether she wants to go with light or fire as her secondary affinity. 

Light... is traditional, for women. There's always been an inclination towards "girls heal." That makes her want it a little, but...

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In her heart, and until the end of time, she will always be a Fire mage. It's just part of who she is now. Realms of Dragons saw to that.

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As for being useful out of combat, it's clear that the best stat to focus on overall is Intricacy. That will let her build more complex enchantments and items with Sustain Magic and hopefully serve as the equivalent of a Realms of Dragons "Profession."

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She's so excited to get to blow things up.

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Anyway. 

Once she confirms she'll be thrown into the game. 

... She should really get ready for a proper session, she's still wearing her dress and if she comes back in a few days it'll be soaked through with sweat. That's no way to treat it.

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Regretfully, she saves the in-progress character and closes her session. 

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Consciousness doesn't return instantly. There's a timeless moment of dislocation before the neural crown disengages and she's left back in the pod. 

She gets out, goes into her bedroom. Changes into her VR wear, little more than a set of underwear. She doesn't have a proper bra but that's okay. Nobody's going to see her in the pod, and nobody would know what they were looking at. 

She's going to be going down for a long time. She can feel it. 

She sets the pod to give her an alarm on next Sunday morning. Nine days of her newest life. 

Then she gets back in.

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One familiar pinprick and she's back in her real body.

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Back to herself. 

The confirm button's right there. 

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Time for a new adventure. 

She hits Confirm.

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Hyacinth experiences a moment of discontinuity, then finds herself standing in a forest. She hears the growling and barking of wolves, and smells blood. Six wolves with red eyes surround a demon girl.

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The girl โ€” who is a Darkling, from what Hyacinth remembers of reading the lore during character creation โ€” has large black wings, and horns that sweep back over her scalp, starting just above her violet hairline, and a long dark violet tail with a blunted spade on the end, and bright violet eyes. She's wearing a black blouse and trousers under some very basic leather armor, and black boots.

She dances between the wolves, slashing at them with her saber and occasionally using her wings to vault high over the beasts.

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And she abruptly has a staff now! Yay starter inventory!

Okay so how does she cast in this system, she completely forgot to set up her abilities at character creation - 

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One of the wolves makes a pass at her, and she reflexively clubs it with the end of her staff. Old habits die hard. 

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