"AHOY ME HEARTIES! YOU MAROONED LANDLUBBERS SEEM TO REQUIRE A BIT OF AID RIGHT HERE! FEAR NOT, FOR CAPTAIN MURASA IS ALWAYS AROUND TO HELP A MATEY IN NEED!"
You expected to see Murasa quite soon, likely as a moderate hazard when you're crossing a river or as a nuisance when visiting the Myouren Temple. You certainly did not expect to see her posing on top of a large flying sailboat with a slightly lopsided Jolly Roger up top, the effect of which is completely negated by the words on the side of the hull which read "Myouren Public Ambulance Service".
Which is nothing compared to Murasa herself, who resembles something straight out of a Halloween party. Clad in a long white coat over what appears to be her sailor suit augmented with belts, puffy sleeves, a larger neckerchief and an eye patch, she would actually appear intimidating if it weren’t for the fact that the tricorne hat she's wearing has slid onto her non-covered eye, making her face a completely different direction than where you and the professor are standing. You naturally, are at a complete loss to react, and just stands there staring, dumbstruck.
"My dear captain!" Conner calls out, unaffected by her eccentric costume and manner of speech, "We are located over here."
"I KNEW THAT," she shouts as she hastily pushes the hat back, "I WAS, ER, TESTING YE ATTENTION! THE HIGH SEAS IS FRAUGHT WITH PERIL! AND ONE MUST BE ALERT EVEN WHEN YE ARE THREE SAILS TO THE WIND, LEST THE KRAKEN..."
"Playtime's over Minamitsu." A hand appears from behind her to drag her back from the edge. "Get down to the cargo hold and see if your dramatic landing has caused any breaches in the hull. Remember what Hijiri said: This is an ambulance first, pirate ship second."
"You're no fun Ichirin." she grumbles as she descends down an unseen hatch. Another figure emerges, one wearing a black hood and white robe and carrying a shoulder bag with an esoteric symbol sewn on the side. She leaps off the side of the ship and approaches you, who gulps, bows deeply and says in a weak tone "Greetings, Miss Kumoi." Conner merely acknowledges her with a cordial nod.
Ichirin makes a small bow, before gesturing towards the unconscious kappa hanging over your shoulder, "Is that the pilot, outsider?" she asks.
"I think so, yes, I guess. I mean, she was found in a cockpit in the head part of the robot." You swallow your anxiety, "I believe she is Miss Kawashiro, right?"
"Get her on the ship first please, and yes, you are correct. Kappa tend to get into rough situations when fooling around with their contraptions, and even the Head Engineer is not exempt from such accidents." she surveys the surroundings, "What a shame, Unzan had liked this robot."
You were going to ask where Unzan is when you see a thick grayish-pink cloud diffusing out of the bottom of the ship. It seems to be probing around, extending tendrils of itself around the wreckage and crawling over, like ants over an apple. You think you can see a face within the mass, but given Unzan's reputation for violence, you decide not to look too much in his direction as you ascend the ramp, with Conner following close behind.
"You friends with them or something, professor?" You whisper to Conner.
"They started a hospital service; I supplied them with rolling stretchers and other low-tech devices which are cheaper than what Eientei. In payment, they fix me up and don't ask questions whenever I do something stupid, like fall down a waterfall."
You suspect that this is another way to gain human favor for the rumored Buddhist-Taoist cold war, just like Shou and Futo's position jostling back in the village. Then again, it's not a bad thing for an outsider like you, who are rather likely to end up bleeding out somewhere in the wilderness.
"How do they find where you are and when you need help?"
Conner grins and reveals a small wooden charm worn around his neck, "Magic. Or rather, rub the charm they hand out the villagers and youkai who go to their temple and intone 'Health is the greatest gift.'"
Ichirin, meanwhile, opens the straps on shoulder bag, revealing it to be full of bandages, alcohol, and what appears to be strangely shaped hypodermic needles lined up against the sides.
"I suggest you treat her after getting her on the ship, this area is radioactive."
"Oh, is that so?" She digs within the bag, pulling out what appears to be two yellow adhesive patches shaped like a crescent moon from it. "Take this and stick it onto your skin. Stops most radiation from penetrating into your body for 12 hours."
You set the kappa down and receive the patch gladly. Removing the cover, you notice that the item sparkles slightly on the side which sticks onto your skin. The patch feels no different from an ordinary medicinal patch, except for the strange chill you feel over your skin as it made contact. Ichirin tosses the other one to Conner, and then proceeded with removing bottles of fluid from the bag.
"Nice, where did you get this?"
"Eientei. Where else? Was designed for lunarians, naturally, but applicable to anyone. Youkai and other magically-attuned beings like us do not need it though." Ichirin has begun occupying herself with diagnosing Nitori's wounds, "Hmm, that doesn't look good, you want to help me check which..."
"Upper left femur fracture, multiple right true rib fractures, severe concussion on the rear parietal part of the head, second-degree electric burns over the arm and the body, suspected internal bleeding on left hip, and the laceration across the torso which you are treating right now." Your schooling kicks in, knocking away your previous anxiety, "Are there splints and cyanoacrylate in the bag?"
"Skin glue, you know, spray it on, wounds seal?"
"Never heard of it."
You are actually quite surprised, "Really? There are magical radiation-removing patches but no skin glue? At least you have catgut and needles right?"
Ichirin sighs, "We have them, but we're not going to use them. Youkai regenerate flesh wounds very quickly, so we just have to make sure that they stay clean and covered. Bones are different though. Now are you going to help me splint her up or what? You seem to at least know a little bit of what you are doing."
"Just a little bit." You nab a roll of cloth strips and a long splint made out of what seems like fiberglass from the bag, and begin to secure Nitori's left leg while Ichirin works on the open wounds near her shoulder. Her short stature makes it relatively easy to secure the splint compared to the time when you had to do the same for that hulking American football player who tumbled down the dormitory staircase. Come to think of it, you haven't done anything you haven't done in the Outside World during the past three hours in the land of fantasy. Well, except for firing danmaku, that was pretty interesting.
But this, this is something you've done hundreds of times before in class, and you have a sneaking suspicion that you will do this many more times here.
"Hey, outsider, you paying attention?"
"Huh?" Your mind was drifting off again while your hands repeated the familiar task automatically. "Miss Kumoi?"
"Something fell out of the patient's coat pocket, it would be nice if you picked it up."
Your eyes dart across the floor of the ship, and notice a slightly crumpled up piece of paper, covered with the stylized, careful handwriting of old people. Smoothing out the paper, you read:
"Dear, please pick up some cantaloupe from the village market when you go out today. Also, see if you can find some silk thread, my supply of them is quite low after I made that new robe for father's friend, Senzo."
The last few words hit you like a lightning bolt. "What."
"What?" Ichirin and Conner look at you with a confused expression, "What's wrong? Are there secret stashes of equipment listed on that paper?" Conner added, eliciting a (surprising for you) roll of eyes from Ichirin.
"Parents. She has parents."
"You too have a father and mother, do you not?"
"Bu-but" You feel as if your perspective of Gensokyo is breaking down. "She's a youkai!"
"Civilized societies generally have working familial units," Conner says, somehow managing to imitate the droning speech of the history department head in Japanese, "and magically enhanced creatures such as the kappa are of no exception."
"That's right," Ichirin added as she finished bandaging Nitori's shoulder. "One of the many things left out from mythology is that some youkai have loving families. It's a common misconception that most youkai are born from myths and legends when in fact they've existed for even longer than humans have in this world."
As the reality of this statement sets in, you realize that it isn't as surprising as it originally seemed. With a feeling of foolishness, you nod sheepishly; after all those years of playing those danmaku games and immersing yourself in the Touhou culture and lore, you've always unconsciously accepted a reasoning that youkai existed simply because they can or by the effects of man. Other than a few human characters who had familial background coverage, everyone else simply existed because they just did. It was a woefully naive and simplistic preconception, now that you thought about it. It was the inherent human bias that those who are not like humans have nothing in common with them.
Gensokyo is infinitely more complex than one could ever imagine; the descriptions of it by outside world works simply could not do it justice. You made a mental note to find some spare time and read the "Guide to Gensokyo" as soon as possible, lest you make yourself seem like an ignorant simpleton. Before you knew it, you were done with the medical procedures, and Nitori was sleeping peacefully on a rolling stretcher, being loaded into the patient bay of the ship by Ichirin and Murasa. That left you and Connor standing on the deck of the ship, with half of the village watching in interest.
That reminds you of something that you had wanted to ask before, but didn't bother because of the urgency of helping Nitori. Now, seeing the captain of the Palanquin Ship again, you remembered what you wanted to ask.
"Why is Miss Murasa dressed as a pirate?" You whisper, hoping that the...eccentric Captain would not overhear and make you walk the plank or something for questioning her motives.
"You know that the Palanquin Ship is no longer a ship?"
"Yes, it is now the Myouren Temple."
"Minamitsu is a ship phantom, and since Hijiri has forbidden her from trying to drown more people, she's been spending her time maintaining this ship. And because of a moving-picture they were playing at the Hakurei Shrine that she watched, she named it the '黑珍珠'. It was good fortune that Hijiri forced her to turn it into an ambulance ship for the temple's new hospital service before she went off plundering some poor villager's 'booty'. She still tries to pretend it is a pirate ship though--"
"What's this I hear?" A poorly-mimicked pirate voice growls from behind you. Murasa really can move without making a sound, you think. "Mumblings o' mutiny from an unfaithful crew? This be a pirate ship, now and always! Shall I feed ye' to the Kraken?"
You open your mouth to protest, wanting to question where in Gensokyo would a body of water large enough to accommodate the Kraken even exist. The Misty Lake came into mind, but it was hardly likely that Cirno would appreciate a flying ship intruding on her domain.
Before you could properly formulate a remark, a hand-chop lands squarely over Murasa's head, and Ichirin appeared from behind her.
"Minamitsu, what did I say about harassing people on this ship?"
"A pirate's got to do something in her spare time, right?" she complains, her eyes tearing up a bit from the pain. "Miss Hijiri was okay with that much."
Ichirin sighs and shakes her head. She then turns to you and rummaged in her pocket for a brief moment, before procuring a wooden pendant covered with strange carvings in what appears to be Sanskrit.
"Here, take this," Ichirin said, handing to you the charm. "Thank you for your help. If you ever find yourself in need of immediate care, just rub this charm and chant 'Health is the greatest gift.' and we will show up as soon as possible."
"Thank you very much, Miss Kumoi," you reply gratefully as you receive it. The charm was almost weightless in your hands, and there is an aura of warmth around it as you put it around your neck. You smile on the inside with amusement, thinking that you were now essentially covered by Gensokyo's form of health insurance.
Amusement, not comfort, as you're pretty sure the response time isn't nearly fast enough to save your face from being clawed off by a youkai,
"Well, I think we should be leaving now," Ichirin says with a slight bow. "Take care of yourselves. No matter how familiar you are with Gensokyo, you can never be too careful. Good bye."
You and Connor respectfully bow back before descending the ramp. The pink clouds gather underneath the ship. Ichirin leans over the ramp and whispers something to the pink clouds surrounding it. They immediately condense, and you can see the distinct visage of an old man's face within the cloud as arms form underneath the ship to hoist it up into the air, sending it cruising through the sky as easily as it would in the sea, and even as it disappeared, you felt a lasting impression that this fantastic land still had a lot more in store than a giant nyuudou powering a flying ship.
"Nice," Connor declares with an air of finality. "That is quite an interesting little mess we got here to clean up."
Oh yeah. You look at the ground where the robot had crash-landed. The crater was still steaming, albeit much less than before and with a large gap in the debris created by the ship's impact, and most of the twisted metal was still too hot to touch, not to mention being potentially radioactive. It would take some time for the villagers to clean up this mess, unless...
"Hey, professor, do you think Miss Kamishirasawa could alter the history of the robot crashing?"
"Hmm," Connor ponders, walking cautiously to the large chunk of wreckage which probably was the torso on. You follow him, hoping that the anti-rad crescent patch was still working well. "Miss Kamishirasawa would need to be in her hakutaku form first, and the full moon won't be here for a while, not to mention that she's still recovering. Furthermore, in order to erase this incident from history, she would have to know why and how the robot fell from the sky, something that we don't even have a clue about."
"Hmm," this time you were the one making the humming sound. Your suspicious, paranoid side began to take over, and even in Gensokyo, the land of fantasy and illusions, the scientific method and systematic experimentation could still yield answers. You remembered the burning of the shrine, and the suspicious gasoline traces found in the charred wood. But for a giant, nuclear-steam engine-powered robot to simply fall from the sky? Someone needed to investigate--
"It's about time she's showed up." Connor suddenly pipes up, disrupting your chain of thought.
Confused, you tear your eyes off of Hisoutensoku, and looked up. At first, you didn't understand what was going on. But as Connor pointed to something in the sky, you quickly realize what he meant.
A distant dot was approaching steadily, growing in size. Moments later, the red white-speck has solidified into a concrete form, and you can now clearly recognize the (somewhat familiar by now) Shrine Maiden of Paradise, the de facto law enforcement in Gensokyo. News of the robot crash must've alerted her; after all, she is the canonically and really the primary incident resolver, a duty which persists even if her shrine has burned down, and this surely could be categorized as one. Her flying form was immensely intriguing to your eyes. All she was doing was leaning forward, her head bracing against the headwinds as she flew through the sky. Her skirt and ribbon were fluttering in the currents of the air, and her dark-brown hair flitted wildly as she soared through the sky. There was a small tinge of envy as you wished you could fly like that. You jokingly imagined that maybe you could convince Genji to give you a ride if you gave enough donations.
Reimu lands gracefully next to the crater, looks at it briefly, and then turns to the gathering of villagers.
"Did anyone see what happened here?"
"It fell from the sky." A cobbler says.
Reimu crosses her arms. "Any other 'useful' information?"
"You should ask those two," a woman with a basket of vegetables on her back suggests, pointing at you and Connor. "They extracted the kappa from the robot and helped the Myouren ambulance crew treat her wounds."
Reimu turns to your direction, and you give a sheepish smile. Connor snorted and started to walk away.
"Where are you going, professor?" You hiss as the older man starts to slink away silently.
"You can deal with her yourself," he replies. "The Hakurei shrine maiden and I aren't exactly on great terms. She tends to view me as a...troublesome...person, since I have a record for frequently getting myself into sticky situations. Besides, your knowledge is sufficient."
Before you could say another word, Connor had left, walking away briskly. There's nothing you can do about this, apparently. Well, at least you haven't done anything to make yourself an unpleasant person yet.
"Hey, outsider," Reimu's voice drifts closer, and you turn to face her. She was looking at your curiously now. "Wait, aren't you the one who helped me when my shrine was burning?"
"Uh, yes, that's me."
"Hmm," Reimu looks at you suspiciously. "What about the 10,000 yen donation?"
"Ha-ha, what donation?"
You decide to not make yourself seem too much of a nice person. Apparently Reimu's experiences with outsiders have left her with a lingering trace of vigilant cynicism and skepticism. You fear that she might see you as someone who's just trying to win over her good side with money, something that she was becoming more cautious about. Yet, her behavior is not surprising, as you considered the various types of people in the outside world.
The shrine maiden still remains skeptical. However, she quickly drops that subject, and went back to her normal duty as incident investigator. She inquires about Hisoutensoku, and the events that had occurred before and after. You try to give her as much detail as possible, covering everything from when you and Connor noticed the odd behavior to the very moment she had arrived. After you finished your report, Reimu took on a thoughtful look, eyeing the robot as well as occasionally at you.
"Alright, I'll ask Nitori about what had happened after she recovers," Reimu finally decided. "Maybe it's just a malfunction. I doubt it's anything too much out of the ordinary."
The inkling of suspicion grows stronger inside your conscience. Your sixth sense is telling you that there was more than meets the eye, but at the same time, you couldn't imagine any probable scenario that would make sense. Perhaps you should do some solo investigative work? Back in the day, you did help the chemistry department in investigating a lab explosion, and helped trace the probable cause and chain of events (the teaching assistant's pet corgi knocking over a highly flammable wooden stool). This experience could possibly be applied here, if you were given the sufficient privileges to be allowed to do so.
"By the way, outsider," Reimu suddenly says, her tone becoming less detached and proper. "You seem to be a decently well-behaved and quite helpful outsider. What is your name?"
This sudden turn of events reminded you that your incursion into Gensokyo was all off the record and should stay that way. Anonymity needed to be kept.
"Wu Ming, I know you know what it means, but I'm sticking with it. If you wish, you can also call me Toku Mei or Anon Yimus."
"Well then, Mr....uh...Ming, you're welcome to come visit my shrine after it gets rebuilt. If you find any news relating to this incident, please come by. In the meantime, I'll see if I can get Yukari to gap this pile of scrap away from the village."
The urgent feeling is a bit stronger. Personally, you wanted to keep the trashed robot here for a bit longer, so you could examine it (knowing Connor would greatly desire such an opportunity as well). You also consider the option of helping Reimu with her investigations; after all, she is the incident resolver of Gensokyo, and has been ever since. Nobody is more qualified than her when it comes to such tasks. You might also gain some useful connections by working with her. On the other hand, it might be better to work on your own, as you would be far less detectable and can integrate better with the village's denizens. After much deliberation, you decided to:
[ ] Help Reimu with investigating the incident of Hisoutensoku's crash landing.
[ ] Drag Conner back here to help you figure out what's wrong.
[ ] Head back to the village, the wreckage isn't going anywhere Reimu can't access, and your experience with machinery is limited at best.
[ ] Ask Reimu to head over to the Myouren Temple with you, you should question Nitori as soon as she wakes up. Hopefully before 2:00.
Let's say that, hypothetically, you see a theoretical glint in the trees across the crash site, what would you do?
[ ] Point it out subtly.
[ ] Point it out loudly.
[ ] Duck.
[ ] Tackle.