A Catcher in the Sky

By: Shinka
I pulled my coat tighter. It got cold at night when you were this high up. Shuffling a few steps over to my right, I peeked over the edge and looked down.
‘It’s a long way to the bottom,’ I mused, feeling vertigo start to take over.
We were so high up you couldn’t see the ground below, much less the other Anime Metaverse islands in the distance.
Someone tugged on my coat, and I turned around. My roommate, still holding onto my coat, had a look of concern on her face.
“What are you doing Jimin?” she asked.
“Nothing! Sorry Momo, I just wanted to see just how high it is. I’ve never been to Kyoko’s island.”
“I come here all the time for skincare products,” she replied, “and since it’s so high up, the view is amazing!”
‘Amazing indeed,’ I thought, taking in the night sky and the soft starlight glow on my roommate’s face. The cold nipped at her ears and nose, imbuing them with a pink hue.
We were standing on the open roof terrace of Kyoko’s research facility. There were tables, chairs, and even propane heaters to keep patrons warm during the nighttime chill.
“How’d you hear about this?” I asked, noticing more people were making their way over.
“A Senior Soulmate at work told me about it,” she replied.
“So, what made you want to come?”
“Well, I’ve been trying to craft something for a while now, and it keeps failing,” she said. “I felt like I was just throwing $ANIMA away.”
“But what does coming here have to do with that?” I asked, unable to make the connection.
“Oh honey,” she scoffed with a cheeky smile. “You do know what this is for, right?”
“I thought you just wanted to show me the view,” I replied, “but I guess it’s more than just an excuse to take me out,” I shot back with a grin.
She laughed and lightly poked my arm. “No dummy, it’s to wish upon a Falling Star.”
I stared at her, trying to see if she had made a joke.
“Wait… Really?”
“Well, yeah, you’ve never heard of that? You’ve been here for how long now?”
“A little over a month now…” I replied sheepishly. “This is my first time hearing about it.”
She let out a slight chuckle.
“So your first Falling Star viewing is with me! Lucky! Anyways, if you make a wish upon a Falling Star, it gives you protection!” she said.
“Ohhkay… But protection from what? I get exactly what I want when crafting.” I retorted. “Wha- What the heck? How are you so lucky? Is RNGesus your best friend? What about me?” she asked, adding in some puppy eyes for good measure.
“Momo, you’re still my BFF, I just have a 100% crafting success rate. Although… I’m not as lucky with Starcrane. There’s this rare item I’ve been trying to get for days.”
“Wishing upon a Falling Star helps with Starcrane, too!” she said, a little too excitedly.
“So it protects me from getting what I want? No thank you!” I sassed back.
“Haha no, it’s supposed to guarantee your target item instead of waiting for RNGesus to deliver,” she explained.
“So I’m guaranteed the item if I make a wish? That sounds too good to be true,” ‌
“It’s true! It takes a while, but the last time I wished on a Falling Star, I got a Starcrane legendary! I’m here today to pray for crafting protection,” she said.
“Besides, I made you that amazing dinner and got us front-row seats to the Falling Star Shower. Shouldn’t you be thanking me? I’m the Bestest Best Friend ever!” she boasted.
I laughed because the “amazing dinner” was instant ramen with a can of spam.
“You’re right Momo, I literally wouldn’t be here without you. What do I need to do?”
“You wish upon a Falling Star, and then you give some offerings. You’ll see. I’ve got a bunch of things prepared: some spare $ANIMA and random items. I've heard you can even offer upgrade points,” she said, lowering her voice to a whisper at that last part.
“Oh, okay, I’ve got some $ANIMA and extra crafting items. What, what do I do with them?”
“Worry not, young grasshopper, let Sensei show you the way. Oh ho ho ho,” she said as she stroked imaginary facial hair and then tossed an invisible beard of great length over her shoulders.
“Come, it’s 11:09PM, we’ve got two minutes before the Falling Star Shower!” she said, pulling me through the crowd toward the roof’s edge.
We stood in the very front and admired the night sky above us as it blended in with the darkness below.
I felt myself drifting into the dark expanse before me. The background noises began to fade away when suddenly, a flash of light in the corner of my eye caught my attention.
As I turned to look, a hush fell across the crowd, and I noticed the stars began to twinkle more vibrantly.
Here and there, a few stars would shake themselves loose and drift across the sky in one big lazy arc before crashing into the unknown below.
The stars were falling, so that’s why they called it the Falling Star Shower.
“Momo, it’s so beautiful. I feel like I’m lost in the stars and floating through the night sky.”
“Hurry, this doesn’t last long,” Momo said. “Make your wish inside your head.”
“How will I know it worked?”
“You’ll know,” she said, closing her eyes.
I copied my roommate and closed my eyes, making my wish.
‘Please Falling Stars, RNGesus, Starcatcher, grant me my wish. Let me get that Rare Corgi Loaf Plush. ’ I prayed, feeling embarrassed at the ridiculous request.
I stood there for a few more seconds with my eyes closed. I was waiting for something — anything — to happen, but nothing did.
‘Well, she said it’s worked before, and she doesn’t tell lies so let’s see how it goes.’
I opened my eyes and looked over at my roommate. Her eyes were still closed, with her cheeks puffed out in concentration. ‘She’s making such a cute face,’ I chuckled.
She opened her eyes, noticed me watching her, and then motioned for me to follow her.
We walked dangerously close to the roof’s edge, and before I could ask why, I saw her throw her $ANIMA and her items over the edge.
“Wha- What are you doing?!” I yelled.
“Ya gotta offer things to really make your wish count. This is how I was taught and it got me a legendary item, so why not?” she said, continuing to throw stuff over the edge.
I looked around bewildered and saw others doing the same.
“C’mon Jimin, show me what you got,” she urged.
“Do I really just throw $ANIMA over the edge? This is crazy.”
“You don’t trust me Jimin? This amazing Momo senpai of yours?”
“That’s not fair. Ugh, fine.”
Reluctantly, I emptied my pockets of the $ANIMA I had brought and threw them, leaning over to watch them fall into the unknown.
A strange sensation suddenly washed over me. I could only describe it as a warm & fuzzy feeling that made my body tingle all over, pushing back the night chill.
I looked at Momo in surprise. She just responded with a knowing smile.
“Did you think I would lie to you, dearest Jimin?”
“What happens to all the stuff we toss in?”
“No idea,” she added with a shrug. “I heard this practice started centuries ago, saying it’s ‘the will of the world’ or something.”
She leaned over the railings to watch the $ANIMA fall into the darkness. “No one knows what’s below the islands, we just know that praying to Falling Stars and giving offerings works.”
“Well, I would’ve thrown that $ANIMA into Starcrane machines anyways. Is that it then?”
“Yeah, let's get out of this cold and head home. There’s this place that sells amazing hot chocolate near our dorm. Ever heard of Nono’s Patisserie?”
“Oh yeah, I grab an eclair everyday on the way to school.”
“Jimin, you're so naughty!” she giggled.
We linked arms and navigated our way through the crowd. After a quick pit stop for hot cocoa, we spent the night in our dorm guessing each other's wishes.
It wasn’t until a few days, and many Starcrane pulls later that I walked into our dorm with the Rare Corgi Loaf Plush.
“Momo, after almost a week of Starcrane pulls, I finally got him! My life is complete!” I exclaimed while holding the plush up above my head.
“Yaassss, I’m so happy for you! I was able to craft new shoes too, so the Falling Stars definitely helped me. Aren’t you glad you wished?”
“It’s all thanks to you Momo, I can’t believe wishing on a Falling Star actually works!” I hugged my plushie tightly. “What will I wish for next time?”
Player Screen: You wish upon a Falling Star. You offered $ANIMA You offered [Items] You offered [FUN Points] You feel a warm, tingling sensation all over your body. You aren’t sure why but you feel protected from failures and errors, not to mention incredibly lucky. You feel as if RNGesus is your best friend.