You thought you had free time for this semester, BUT IT WAS I, YOUR THESIS!
Anyway here's the update.
[x] Report to Eientei about everything today, they can keep a secret, then take a bath and go to sleep.
- [x] Maybe leave Ochiba’s request out. God knows he’ll find out. Damn self-insert fantasies.
You step outside into the deserted courtyard of the house to make the call.
“Greetings.” Eirin’s refined voice comes through the other end. “Is this Ming?”
“Affirmative, Dr. Yagokoro, this is Ming. I have finished delivering the supplies and will wait for further orders.”
“No need to be so militant in your language, Ming. Also, we detected heavy combat taking place near Youkai Mountain in the afternoon, were you involved?”
“Not really. I performed my duty as a medic in the aftermath…right, I resuscitated Guard Captain Inubashiri Momiji from some mortal wounds left by divine weapons, one thing lead to another, and now I’m an honorary member of the Inubashiri clan.”
A brief silence, and then you hear Eirin softly chuckle on the other end.
“Ming, are you serious? That strange healing power that you reported to Tewi may be quite strong, but healing mortal wounds from divine weapons? And the tengu making you effective nobility?”
“I am serious. If you wish I can get Momiji herself to verify this.”
“On a first name basis, are we? No, there is no need to burden Lord Inubashiri with inquiries. She must have an awful lot of workload in the aftermath of battle.”
“Boss I’m serious. I got their clan shield and everything.” You can’t help but allow irritation into your voice, “If you don’t have anything I’m going to take a shower here at the Inubashiri residence and hit the sack.”
“I don’t doubt you, Ming. Outsiders get into all kinds of funny situations all the time. I don’t doubt that you have become bonded to the Inubashiri clan. I doubt that the wounds you healed were truly divine wounds. As you well know, divine wounds are wounds with the force of all humanity’s noosphere behind it, a truly heroic strike even if the definition of a hero is up for debate. You are just one man, Ming, it’s not physically possible for you to generate the energy needed to counteract that much magical power.”
“All I know is that the wounds are glowy and golden, and certainly looked divine, and I made them go away. So back on topic boss, what’s the next thing you want me to do?”
“Funny you should ask. The next thing to do, for you, would be to hold position on the western portion of Gensokyo.”
“It appears as though the enemy have taken an interest in you, Ming, and keeping you near Eientei would jeopardize the preparations we are making, which is already a fragile affair due to Reisen’s problems. As you have apparently been entered into the favor of the Inubashiri Clan, it is safer for both of us if you would just remain where you are.”
So, you are being hung out to dry? “So, Lady Yagokoro, if that is the case can I get some better equipment? I’m probably going to get into more fights against these armored mofos soon and I would like to not die.”
“I would, but the only equipment we had available were sold to the Russians. It would take more time than we have to have the nanoforge produce a new set of armor or weapons.”
Either she’s telling the truth or she’s unwilling to expend more resources on you. You process this information with a sigh, “Alright Lady Yagokoro. I will stay here and do my best to help the situation. Anything else I need to know?”
“Not really…there is one thing you should know, however. The forestry suit you are issued with has a mis-calibrated reactor that Reisen never told you about. It is specced for only utility use, which means a 50% power output. If you turn it up you could likely get an engineer to fit additional armor plating without much issue.”
“I should have been told that when I received the suit, Lady Yagokoro. But thanks. Good night.”
“Good night. I will contact you with further orders when the situation changes.”
You slide the armband radio back down and let out a deep sigh. You cannot really blame Eirin for letting go of a non-critical asset that is drawing enemy attention, but you also hoped that she would not just dump you here. It is great and all that you have Youkai Mountain behind you at this point, as well as Meiling…but there isn’t much around that can compensate for the lack of new Eientei technology which you attribute to your own immediate survival in crises.
You detach the exoskeleton and click open the hatch on the rear pack. Indeed the power dial, labeled in archaic Japanese—aka archaic Chinese, is turned to half. The consumption on the battery looks to be negligible, and you note that there does not appear to be an off-switch and that Reisen did not put in a new pack, meaning that the hydrogen battery can likely last for years. Still, you leave it as it is for now, as you don’t really have any additional armor at hand to strap on.
Maybe you’ll ask Nitori about it tomorrow.
As soon as you click the exoskeleton back on, your vision suddenly goes dark. You panic as you feel somebody’s hands over your eyes, until you hear a familiar voice giggle and say, “Guess who?”
“ET, the extra-terrestrial, right?” You joke back, “Or perhaps you’re some sort of practice target?”
“Wu Ming! That was your stupid idea!” Nue shouts as she shoves you forward, sending you stumbling a few paces. Turning back, you note that she looks no worse for wear on the surface, albeit with a different but similar set of black clothes compared to last time. “I could have died there!”
“You’re the one who wanted me to figure out how to deal with the knights! And I ended up saving you, wasn’t that the case?”
You are not going to mention the fact that the knights were sort of going for you.
“Well…yes. But you still should have done better, as a…”
“What? I’m a 20 year old biomed student with very limited magic, what did you expect me to come up with? Actual stratagems? It’s not my fault that neither you nor Mishaguji studied military tactics or strategy?”
“I did! They just happen to be outdated since they were learned for the…” She suddenly stops herself from spilling another aspect of whatever secret she’s keeping. “The point is, I thought—-”
The door to the courtyard slides open, and Momiji steps out with her blade drawn, irritation on her face, “Trespassing into this household, really? If you have business please knock, Miss…Houjuu, was it? What brings you to fly into my courtyard in the middle of the night?”
“Your courtyard?” Nue looks surprised for a moment as she looks from Momiji, then back at you, “What is this clueless college student doing in your courtyard, Guard-Captain?”
“What is Wu Ming of the Inubashiri clan doing in his household?”
“Wait what? This has to be a joke right? How is he a white wolf? He doesn’t even have ears!”
“I saved Momiji’s life.” You mutter.
“I saved your’s and her’s. You know, since I’m technically a medic. She had divine wounds on her, so apparently that qualified me for a clan induction.”
“Divine wounds…laid on by a divine weapon?”
You shrug, “What else?”
“Really, if that is the case then my scar…” Nue turns and rolls up her blouse, exposing her lower back beneath the stems of her writhing wings, “Would have healed too, right?”
You and Momiji stare blankly at the smooth skin, “What scar?”
Nue looks confused. “You two really don’t see anything there?”
You take a closer look, “Nope, it’s all normal. Well, except for the wings sprouting out of it, but I’m pretty sure that’s normal.”
Looking even more confused, Nue waves her hands around, spreading a delicate net of light as an incantation weaves its way through the noosphere, bending reality and producing photon residuals. A shiny surface appears to her front, then to her back.
She stares into the mirrors, and her face freezes as she notes that her back, indeed, does not have any scars on it.
You can almost hear the nerves snapping inside her skull.
“Wu Ming…” She growls, her head lowered and her bangs over her eyes, “What…have…you…done.”
Momiji draws her broken blade in anticipation as Nue withdraws her Grudge Bow from ethereal sheath, but she makes no pretense of attacking. Instead she cradles it, making a sort of rocking motion as she sways back and forth with her wings undulating.
“This is all that’s left…isn’t it. Ha…Ha…” She chuckles between audible sobbing. The change in tone is unnerving. Nue sounds almost like a different person altogether.
“Nue, what are you talking about.” You carefully ask.
“It’s all that’s left, don’t you know?”
“Left of what?”
“That scar you healed…was from this bow, by the hand of Minamoto no Yorimasa…the hand of my son.”
Your clan sister reacts with appropriate shock, you yourself less so.
“YOUR WHAT?” Momiji yells out, “HE WAS YOUR SON?”
“Hey, it is a version of the tale according to Wikipedia, believed by some small town that I can’t recall.” You respond, “Though in that version you are still dead Nue.”
“Is it. Ha. And I thought nobody knew the truth. Perhaps that old guardian dragon was loose with his secrets.” Nue sighs, “Yes, I was a wife of Minamoto no Nakamasa or perhaps a lower concubine. Who knows? It’s been centuries and history has long since forgotten my name. All I know is that I gave birth to Yorimasa, and that I gave my body and soul for the purpose of making him a hero, to have the strength to subvert the order and bring down the influence of the accursed Taira clan. I prayed and I became this…chimera.”
“Blithering and mad, I haunted the skies of Heian-Kyo as a blackening mist, sickening body and soul with my miasma and chilling cries. Until finally an arrow, an ancient arrow of Minamoto no Yorimitsu in my back, a divine shot from the hands of a hero, gravely wounded me and sent me crashing down into Nijo Castle. There, I watched my son and his friend ready their weapons, preparing to finish me off. I smiled for, in doing so he has become a true hero, and will lead the Minamoto back to glory.”
“The most common version of tale I’ve heard was that Ino Hayate seized me and finished me off. That is what he would have done…had it not been for the unfortunate fact that my true form as the dreaded Nue is not the monstrous chimera, but this.” She gestures at herself, sweeping her hands, “What he found, bleeding out against a wall on the cobbles, was not the horrid creature he saw in the mist, but a woman, dressed in the same ragged kimono she wore during her vigil in that mountain. Even more unfortunately, he called for his master to confirm, and my son easily recognized me.”
“Without hesitation he and Hayate carried me into one of his houses, shooed out the servants, and set on bandaging my wounds. I begged him to take my head and prove himself a hero. He angrily replied as to what sort of hero would take his mother’s head as a trophy. He demanded to know why I did this, why I chose to throw away my life and humanity. I gave my reasons. He fell silent for a long time.”
“He then told me that he never wanted any part in the clan feud. He told me that I left him no choice in the matter, that my effective suicide is going to force him, by the honor of our clan, to act. Nevertheless, he refused to take his mother’s head. Instead, he made a great ceremony of throwing my seemingly lifeless form onto a boat down the river, and told me to never come back.”
“I was happy, at the moment. Even though he refused to kill me I still succeeded in making him a great hero. I thought that way for years after he banished me as I tended to the pond as I promised, until…” She chokes up slightly, “Until I could not resist finding out what happened and left my recluse back to the clan home in Hojo, and heard of the Battle of Uji. It was then that I realized that I signed Yori’s death warrant with my actions, even as his death became a rallying cry for the Minamoto to fight.”
“Yeah, he’s kind of remembered as a pioneer of seppuku more than for shooting you down.” You can’t help but remark coldly. “What did you expect anyway? I think by 1180 he was fighting with nothing really to lose, and such a final confrontation with a heroic suicide is par for the course for you Japanese. I mean, it’s not like…oh right, his sons also died in that battle, that ends your bloodline, right?”
“Ming, that’s terrible! How can you say that!” Momiji shouts at you, shocked.
“No, Miss Inubashiri, Ming’s right. Yori never wanted a part in any of this. I never should have had this wish, or told him why afterwards. The blood of him and his descendants is on my hands. I tried making up for it by fighting in the Genpei War, doing what I should have done all along by not having others fight for what I wanted. I led raids on Taira camps at night, led frontal charges at day, yet none of them were able to strike me down in those five years. I watched the young emperor drown in the Kanmon Straits, cementing the Minamoto as the clan of Japan for the next 650 years. But still…still it does not make up for it.”
Another rasping sigh, as her wings droop, “At least I met Mamizou during that affair.”
“If he is your son, and you cared about him so much, why is the spellcard called ’Grudge Bow’?” Momiji asks, sheathing her sword as she sees Nue is in no position to pose a threat.
“The grudge isn’t against him, it’s against me. I sacrificed my own son for my desire, and nothing I can do will ever remedy that fact.”
“You could kill yourself. That’s popular.” You remark again without much thought, provoking Momiji to jab you sharply in the side this time, with a quiet “What the hell?”
“I don’t deserve it. Death would be an easy way out at this point, and he won’t forgive me for suiciding again, wherever he is now. No, I must do what he always wanted me to do. At the tree in Byodo-in where he took his own life, next to his bitter death poem, were his last words towards me, ’Mother, perhaps you are right, but you did not give me a choice. Thus, I will not give you a choice either. Minamoto no Tsugumi, you are hereby stripped of your name, and may only be known as the wretched monster you have become. You will be all but dead to the world at large, but you shall have no luxury of honorable suicide. Instead, you must wander until your end comes, whatever end that may be befitting of a creature like you.’ And of course, with his position, he did exactly that with our records before the battle.”
“That explains why I can’t find your old name in a history book anywhere. Tsugumi eh? Your parents named you ’Thrush’?”
“In all regards, Miss Houjuu.” Momiji says, “It’s no use holding something like that for centuries on end. I understand that you may have stewed with your thoughts for a great chunk of your life underground…”
“I was sleeping most of the time there.” The monster groans.
“Sleeping, alright. But as somebody who is at least two centuries your senior, there comes a point where you should let go of that grudge, lest you endanger your own life.”
A sudden realization hits you, “Nue, is that why you agreed to my poorly thought out plan to draw out the knights?”
“Did you know that the knights could’ve actually killed you?”
“I didn’t know that, but I don’t care either way.”
“Bloody hell, does that mean I shouldn’t have saved you? I thought I was the only one here with a death wish, you know? Besides, you shouldn’t keep thinking of honorable ways to off yourself, that’s stupid. What you want to do is go for the high score, you know? It’s all about how many stupid fuckers you can drag down into hell with you, bonus points if you get their families too—”
“MING!” A side of your face erupts in massive stinging pain, causing your eyes to well up and your body to hunch over. Hazily, you see Momiji retract her hand from the youkai strength slap you just received.
“What in the name of Sōjōbō are you saying?!” Momiji screams at you, her face scrunched up in surprising anger.
“The truth.” You weakly reply back as you recover, “I mean, I guess I didn’t really think about it much before I came to Gensokyo, but I think I’ve gotten a handle on what I want at this point.”
“Why are you spouting such psychotic nonsense then?”
“…Speaking of sleeping.” Nue seems to have sobered up a bit from her flashback, and just realized that Momiji is arguing with you. “Is it alright if I use your bathhouse, Lord Inubashiri? I would like to clean myself up a bit.”
“Of course, of course, you’ve already welcomed yourself in anyway, Miss Houjuu.” Momiji dismisses, as Nue wanders off over to the baths. “Ming. I am going to have to ask you this. What is wrong with you? First what you said about using nerve gas, and now you are suggesting murdering innocents?”