After a few taps, the tablet blips to life and mechanically narrates the story written on the screen.
“Who and what Sushi is depends on who you ask.
If you ask Sushi, he’s a Lalafell from the city-state of Gridania, who wants to go back home to his simple life of waiting tables with a side of adventuring, even if the balance has swung the other way as of late. The world of Eorzea brims with magic, and it isn’t the first time he’s been whisked off to somewhere else. Why Earth and why only him? Who’s to say? But without the magical energy of Eorzea to rely on, he’s not likely to find his way home anytime soon without some help.”
Panini furiously taps the fast-forward button. The voice abruptly cuts out, then springs to life once more:
“…possesses an ability never-before seen in any I.D.O.L.: the ability to hop into other I.D.O.L.S., getting insight to their programming and “playing” (but definitely not assuming direct control of) them. During this time, his usual Lalafell appearance is replaced by whatever character he inhabits, though he retains his own voice and memories, not unlike using a gl…”
Tap, tap, tap. The voice cuts out and back in again.
…so much is unknown about him, it is recommended to study the subject for the time being, until we learn more about who or what he is or his usefulness has run its course.”
Panini angrily tosses the tablet on the tabletop, loudly knocking over her teacup in the process.
It’s me! Everyone’s third favorite Lalafell vTuber! I wound up here on Earth sometime in early 2020. The last thing I remember about Eorzea is following a trail I found behind a waterfall in La Noscea, but you’ll have to wait for me to upload more to my journal to read that story. Now that I’m no longer on the run from S.E.A.R.C.H., I’ve had a chance to learn about life and culture on Earth, or at least in this part of America. I call the The Old Dominion home for now. I have spent most of my time learning about the “Eight Oh-Four” and the “Seven Five Seven.” I hope to visit other countries at some point, too!
Since travel is still somewhat difficult (and expensive), my main hobby and link to the outside world is streaming! I’ve made many new friends and learned about so many new worlds in video games on Twitch. Make sure to tune in sometime. Thanks to my line of work, you never know which face might greet you when you do! Hope to see you there!
S.E.A.R.C.H. is short for Safe, Effective Asset Recovery and Conversion Headquarters. SE is developing a new technology to make video games so realistic that they’re not just life-like, but can actually come to life! Think of it like a live action role-playing game that uses costumed actors, holograms, VR, and other technology for a truly immersive experience. Sometimes, however, the NPCs don’t log-off and the programming won’t shut down. Unfortunately, our tech isn’t as reliable as the original.
That’s where S.E.A.R.C.H. gets involved. If an NPC wanders off-site and can’t break out of their own scripted story, it’s up to us to bring them home. Sometimes I can de-escalate things by ‘logging-in’ to the affected programs and helping them work through their problems, allowing us both to jump (again, definitely not leap) to our next adventure. Even when that’s successful, I can’t always dispel the costumes I use for my work. And when it isn’t, it usually means I’m relying on my adventuring skills to defend myself. So if you tune in to stream and see me with a bit of a bloody nose, or maybe an entirely different face, you know it’s been one of those days.
I met Panini shortly after I started streaming on Twitch. She’s a cosplay enthusiast with countless hours spent in Final Fantasy XIV. I’m not sure she really believes my story. It’s hard to get her to talk fervently about something other than my “cosplay ears” sometimes. She is at least willing to entertain the idea, though. Panini is also the first person I met on Earth who was able to see through my glamour, which was honestly pretty frightening at first.
Now that we’re friends, she just treats me like I’m anybody else. I would have expected her to act like I’m some alien from another universe or something! She’s also an avid LARPer and is trying to convince me to try it out as a player. I’m not sure I feel comfortable enough to meet so many new people yet. But it’s been fun trading adventuring stories! And with her knowledge of where a good game is, it’s easy to meet my quotas for S.E.A.R.C.H..
Alexandria is Mike’s best friend; they’ve known each other since whatever age “middle school” counts as in America. Until I met Panini, Alex was probably the only human other than my roommate that I trusted. I’m apparently “too useful to go dying on her” as a party member. She lives a fairly long way away, so we haven’t actually met in person yet. We play Final Fantasy XIV together quite often. In fact, we plan on being Reaper Buddies for the new expansion when it comes out later this year. When she’s not working or playing Final Fantasy, she’s usually spoiling one of her innumerable pets.
My roommate, and the first person I met when I found myself here on Earth. Enjoys lots of video games, including Final Fantasy XIV. When we first met, he told me my story was either one of two things: a unique, grandiose adventure, or a very elaborate prank designed to sucker in some fool. Either way, it sounded fun enough to him. He agreed to take me in and shared his Final Fantasy account with me. I was able to least visit home, even if I couldn’t go back.
I ended up having to move out pretty quickly thanks to S.E.A.R.C.H.. But whenever I was in a fix, Mike did what he could to help. Unfortunately, since I told him the whole story, he’s been roped into my deal, too. It’s nice having a friendly face on those adventures that I know I can trust, though.