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“You say that like we haven’t met before?” I asked, my lips twitching anxiously.

I didn’t know why, but my heart was suddenly beating fast, and I felt nervous. This was the Netori, or rather all three sisters, but she also wasn’t. The way she held herself seemed to have a feeling of pride and arrogance. She came off as far more elegant and less accessible than her sisters. It was an aloof feeling, like I wasn’t fit to be in the same room with her. As I studied her more, that feeling only grew.

I told myself that this was because of the power discrepancy between us. I no longer had the sisters inside me, and NTR was three times stronger, maybe more, than she had been before. She was a much higher tier goddess. In terms of level, she had to be at least a level 12 now. She might be as strong as Depravity. For a mortal, it only furthered the gap between us greatly.

“I possess the memories of those three women, but to say I am the same isn’t quite right.” She responded carefully.

“I see…”

Her voice had an alluring charm to it that made a person want to listen. She had an awe-inspiring presence that left me feeling inadequate. No matter how much I fought against those negative feelings, her perfection only seemed to serve to highlight everything I lacked. It was at that point I realized that I didn’t have the same feeling around Mary. Even when she appeared in her true form in this white space, I didn’t feel quite like this. NTR seemed to notice the small frown on my face.

“What is it?” She asked, cocking her head. “I’m more than those three were. Am I not satisfying enough?”

“It’s not that…” I didn’t meet her eye. “I just… miss them.”

I changed what I was going to say. I had no clue how to tell her that she made me feel inadequate. Rather, I took it as a personal challenge. Since there was such a gap between us, I would have to close it. I told Netori I would have her, all of her. This was all of her, and the second I saw her, I started to feel scared. I forced myself to look her in the eyes and smile.

“Perhaps, they should have made it clear the results of this. Their personalities were just fragments of my own. The same with their beauty, their power… everything.”

“It’s fine. I just need to get used to the new you. You’re still my girl.”

“Hehe… that’s the boy I remember.” She laughed, but in a way that didn’t really touch her eyes. “Then, shall we go?”

“Just like that? You can bring me back to life?”

“Of course.” She nodded eloquently, “I am much stronger now. She promised you godhood, right? I will keep that word, and help you achieve godhood. It will take playing NTR Crush a little longer. However, I’m not as weak as Netori. I can award more points, and I had ideas. This game is my namesake, after all, not Netori’s. As an ally, you have definitely moved up.”

“And afterward, we’ll be together forever, right?” I asked, feeling a bit afraid of the answer.  

She looked me up and down and then took a single step toward me. Even though she was several feet away, she closed the distance with that single step. She gently put a palm on my cheek.

“You don’t need to worry. This is a good thing. You did what the sisters wanted. You have nothing to fear. I’ll take care of you. After all, I owe you my existence. I didn’t just absorb their power. I absorbed their love. I care about you, Hakaru. That hasn’t changed.”

Feeling her soft, warm hand on my cheek, I finally let out a relieved breath. I finally felt like things might be okay. I was just letting myself get worried over nothing. Her face changed. Maybe her personality changed as well. However, she was essentially the same girl.

“Now… I’m sorry, but this is going to hurt for a bit.”

“Huh?”

I suddenly felt like I had been plunged into water. The white light around me flicked out like a switch, and I was surrounded by darkness. Then, I started to feel a pain in my gut. Actually, compared to the feeling of NTR’s formation, it was rather weak, and I was able to handle it alright. It also seemed rather brief. It felt like time, which was at a standstill, had returned to normal.

Slowly, muffled sounds and feeling started returning to me. I heard the murmur of voices. I heard a beeping sound. My eyes started to flutter open. The light was blurry, and I couldn’t make out anything. Instead, I concentrated on the sense that was the most vivid at the moment, my ears.

“His eyes are moving! Honey, he’s waking up!”

“That’s good. Good! Hakaru! You scared us! I thought my son was dead!”

“Don’t start chastising him now, he’s not even awake.”

“Ah, good idea. I’ll chastise him when he’s fully awake.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

My eyes started to clear up to see the image of my mother and father looking down on me. Mother had tears in her eyes, while dad had a slight smirk on his face.

“How was the other side, son?” Dad asked.

Mom hit his shoulder with the back of her hand. “Don’t say something like that?”

“What? The doctors said for five minutes he was actually dead?” Dad let out a laugh.

“Don’t remind me! You foolish man!”

I was in a hospital bed and wearing a hospital gown. It was a single room and I was there alone with my parents. There were various cords strapped to me and needles inside me. The pain in my chest wasn’t as bad as it had been, but as I tried to move, I could feel bandages across my chest.

“K-Kira…” My voice croaked the first word I had spoken.

Nothing else mattered to me at the moment other than my women. Of them, it was Kira who was in the most danger. Knowing what her fate was would more or less inform me of the fate of the rest. Plus, since she was my girlfriend, it’d be the least odd if I asked about her, although it was tough to say whether my thoughts were so complicated yet. My head throbbed, and just trying to remember what happened was difficult.

My parents glanced at each other and then mom spoke. “Kira is fine, dear. They’re actually out in the waiting room.”

“They?”

“Her… mother brought her.” Dad said with a small frown. “That Akiko girl is with her. So is your sister.”

“Sasori looks more worried than Kira.” Mother chuckled.

“She should be.” Dad put on an unhappy face. “She’s the one that let our son get hurt.”

“Nonsense… how could she have done more? If anything, she saved him!”

“What do you mean?” I asked as I tried to get a grasp on the situation. “What happened?”

I had expected to wake up in the gym and still have time to save the girls. When I realized I was in a hospital, I began to grow afraid that the girls had been left in that situation. They were in the waiting room, though. That meant they were safe, at least, at the moment. Still, I wasn’t able to finish my confrontation with Derek, let alone Depravity.

“You don’t remember?” Mom asked. “You went back to the school to meet up with Kira. A group of hoodlums had broken into the school. They attacked you. You and Derek stood your ground and protected the girls. Sasori pulled a fire alarm in a panic, and that scared them away.”

“Ah… right… I remember now…” I responded slowly.

Obviously, that was the story they were telling everyone. I’m not sure how Derek got protected in that, but I’m sure it was a necessity to explain all of his blood. The reality was way less noble for both of us. He got his dick bitten off by my girlfriend, and I stabbed myself so that I could get NTR’s help. In the commotion, Sasori must have pulled the fire alarm, and the men Derek had brought fled, afraid of being caught. After that, Derek and I both were brought to the hospital, and the girls came up with some group of people accosting us. There was certainly evidence of a large group.

Derek was brought into it to protect us. Depravity had set all of this up. Now, he was going to have to be the one to clean it. By including Derek in the story, he couldn’t easily throw us under the bus. Everyone was protected. It was probably the best outcome I could have hoped for, yet I still had wanted to finish off my enemies then and there. I guess I had imagined NTR appearing next to me and smiting my enemies. Perhaps I was being a bit too expectant. She had just put herself back together, she probably needed time.

“How long has it been?” I asked.

“Just two days.” Mom said. “I’m so glad you woke up. If it took any longer, I’m not sure I could take it.”

Mom reached out to grab me, but suddenly Dad wrapped his hand around her. He cupped one of her breasts as he did so, copping a feel as he grinned lewdly.

“Come, wife. Hakaru will want his rest.”

“You… acting perverted even now!” Mom shot back.

“We’ll see you in a bit. I’ll send in your girlfriend if you want comfort.”

“I should comfort my son! Stop pulling!” Mom was in tears now, and it really did look like she was ready to throw herself on me, but dad dragged her out of the room.

Once the door closed, I leaned back and sighed.

“You didn’t call for me.” A voice came to my side in a pout.

I looked over to see Mary standing there. She was back in the body of the punk girl and vessel I was familiar with. She had a very displeased look on her face.

“I…”

“You brought back NTR, I know! How could I not! You threw away your best chance to become a god!”

“There are still chances.”

“Hakaru!”

“Leave over, Matty.”

“You! I hate that name! You know that!” Mary shot her look over my body to someone on the other side.

It was NTR standing there, a smug look on her face that said she was well aware of what pissed Mary off. I gave a start when I looked at it. It was because she looked like Netori. Rather, she was using the body of the girl who Netori had used. She was identical, but how she held herself was completely different. It was like the difference between Netorase and Kira. It struck home that she wasn’t just a stronger Netori. I supposed, in my mind, I had always thought that NTR was just Netori with more power and strength, but they really weren’t the same woman.

“I will take care of Hakaru from here on out. You can leave.” NTR sneered. “Unless you intend to try to take my man again? It won’t go your way the second time!”

“I could barely tolerate 1/3rd of you, but now that I see you back the way you are, I remember why you were so detestable!” Mary looked over to me. “See? You’re still wounded!”

Mary touched my stomach. Instantly, the pain vanished. No, it was more than that. The wound had healed instantly.

“No, don’t… agh… so irritating!”

“Do you hear this? She wanted you in pain! Now, when the bandages come off, you’ll be good. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re out by tomorrow! If you had picked me, then I wouldn’t have forced you to wake up here!”

“Y-you… have no finesse!” NTR shot back. “First, if he just suddenly healed after dying, some of those chronies of Derek’s would think that he’s some kind of messiah and start worshipping him! Secondly, it puts Depravity in an awkward situation where he can’t make a move. Third, women like to tend to the man they love. This was an opportunity for Hakaru to grow even closer to his mother and girls and get some points!”

“Y-you… are you implying that I’m just some… ahh… Hakaru, why are you laughing?”

“Are you making fun of us?” NTR demanded.

It was just the way they were arguing was exactly like how Netori argued with Mary in purgatory. It had felt so familiar, that I couldn’t help but laugh. I laughed because I felt some relief. I had started worrying that NTR wasn’t the same woman as Netori. However, I was starting to realize that they may not be the same, but they weren’t so different either.

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