============================ [X] Awyrgan, what do you want?
Everybody else falls silent as the tank slowly drives up to you. "HATCH DIRECTIVE REQUIRES A COMMANDING UNIT TO DEFINE. DO YOU WISH TO REVOKE THIS LIMIT?"
"Yes." You affirm, "Nobody other than you yourself know better than what to do in this case."
"Hold on!" Nitori protests, "What if it decides to just never hatch?"
"NEGATORY. HATCHING DIRECTIVE IS MANDATORY. HATCHING PARAMETERS CAN HOWEVER BE DEFINED. DO YOU WISH TO ALLOW ME TO DEFINE HATCHING PARAMETERS?"
"I do not know." Tenma says, with just the hint of nervousness, "What are your parameters, Iron Wing?"
"I WILL STAY WITH MY FRIEND AND COMMANDER. EVEN IF MY INCUBATION VEHICLE IS BREACHED I WILL EMERGE IN A FUNCTIONAL STATE. ESTIMATED TIME TO 100% COMPLETION IN THREE DAYS. REQUESTING CONFIRMATION."
You gesture around, fishing for any disagreements. To your surprise, nobody, not even Nitori, lodges a protest. Seeing that, you confirm "Awyrgan, commence with your chosen incubation protocol."
"AFFIRMATIVE." The hatch opens and a shower of sparks are sent out, accompanied by a loud rumbling sound from within. The kappa tending to the tank scatter immediately at the sight. "INCUBATION PROTOCOL LOCKED IN. REQUESTING MATERIALS."
"All hands on deck!" Nitori orders. "Get those supplies to the tank now!"
The kappa mob answer in the affirmative, and hurry off in different directions with Nitori continuing to shout orders over them. Soon, you see more of those spider-bots from before coming over either loaded with heaps of scrap metal or dragging broken vehicles of various sorts behind them. Some of the vehicles, you note, look to be cut up portions of military hardware. Awyrgan immediately begins laying into the resources, shoving piles of scrap metal into its hatch and using its cannon's flamethrower to cut apart some of the larger chunks.
While you are distracted by the hubbub, a crow tengu flew in from somewhere outside and knelt in front of Tenma. It's only when you hear the unfamiliar voice that you turn to notice.
"Lord Tenma." She reports, "Hakurei Ochiba has finished his meeting with the Moriya Shrine and is requesting your presence to discuss what he terms to be a 'organized strategy' against the enemy."
Tenma's mouth curls into a slight frown, "Tell him we will be there shortly. All of the captains should come. It would also be beneficial for Miss Shameimaru to be present."
You suck in a breath. Ochiba isn't going to be fun to deal with. You just know that somebody with his personality, all virtuous and upright, will turn out badly for you sooner or later.
You wonder how long that will take.
"I've already interviewed him--" Aya protests.
"Miss Himekaidou is there..."
"--I'll be there."
"Hey, I need Ming here for just a while longer." Nitori interjects, "Can you make an exception for him?"
"Hmm. Captain Wu is not serving an active role at the moment. He could stay."
Heads turn as you choke up with the breath you let out at the statement. "Thank you Lord Tenma." You gasp.
You follow Nitori up some stairs, and another bridge, until you see sunlight streaming through windows in the walls and realize you are outside again. You can see the river from the windows, as well as the bridge-like cottages of the Kappa Village. At the end of a hallway, an automatic door slides open, and you step into a large laboratory built right on the edge of the cavern.
The lab is like if your university's laboratories all rolled into one and were funded by a Columbian drug lord. Even compared to the kappa workstations, which are visible from the one side of the room through a large window, this is lavish beyond end. What looks to be a supercomputer of unknown manufacture takes up a corner of the room, and the rest is just filled with devices, both ones you recognize and ones you do not, in addition to fabrication equipment straight out of a science fiction work. Holographic displays compose the interfaces of the devices, filling the room with hard-looking light, and the equipment itself follows the same magitech pattern you observed in Rikako and Conner's workshop, with the floating parts and the obviously magical inscriptions. Despite everything big being fairly well organized, the room is fairly cluttered with a mix of unfinished projects and outside world gadgets.
Nitori sets her backpack down and slumps into a chair next to a computer desk. "Have a seat." She says as she points at one of the chairs littered around the lab. "It's been a while."
"Since you and Felix Conner pulled me from Hisoutensoku's wreckage." She tilts her head, "Don't you remember?"
"Oh right, that. Sorry, it's been a very long four days."
Nitori rubs her eyes, and only now do you notice the dark circles under them. "I didn't appreciate you hitting me with a sleep dart, but Ichirin told me that you were trying to help and that you did end up setting my broken bones. So thank...you, Captain Wu."
You are unsure of what her tone is implying, "My, uh, pleasure? I was just trying to help."
"Mother said that I shouldn't feel bad for being helped by a human, and I guess she's right, since said human managed to win over the trust of Iron Wing and bring my friend back from the dead."
You blush, "Thanks."
"It's not praise, it's a fact. A strange fact." The kappa engineer says with an air of uncertainty, "For somebody with such capabilities you don't seem to show it off much."
"Yeah. I'm just going to show off all the divine weapons I don't have, and heal my enemies to death. Sure. Look, I don't even know how I could have survived the last three days without help from other powerful people. Doctor isn't a very showy or fight-y profession, after all."
"You. Brought. Momiji. Back. From. The. Dead."
"I. Just. Resuscitated. Her. With. Magic."
"Look, if you want to denigrate your own power you are free to do so." She seems to be getting irritated, "It does not change the fact that you are a hero, a protagonist, now."
"I don't consider myself one, but sure. What does that matter to you anyway?"
"Because outsider heroes ALWAYS end up here and ALWAYS end up asking me for free stuff!" Nitori shouts as she gets off the seat in anger, "I cannot exactly deny the requests of those wearing divine weapons now, can I? One wrong step and they'd tear up Kappa Village..."
"Hold on." You ask, curious. "Reimu talked about these empowered outsiders, and I know Ochiba is one, but did all of them have divine weapons?"
"Every one! Spear, sword, gun, whatever! Makes bounties on them just that much harder and inevitably in the process I'd lose valuable research and prototypes! Ochiba just took our prototype, designed for Clear Sky, of a personal microrocket launching platform." You involuntarily shudder at that statement, "At least he helped out the mountain in a fight. Other ones just show up, blades out, and silently extort us for gear like the lesser beings they are! When they inevitably fall prey to the bounty system the gear they took is often also destroyed in the process."
Nitori plops back onto her chair, sighing, "The amount of research lost...resources wasted, are enough to build a second Mountain Interior, I bet." She straightens up and gives you a glare, "So now, you Captain Wu Ming, what do you want? I invited you her because I don't want you popping in at a more inconvenient time."
"Nothing. Obviously." You reply with your palms up, "After all you said it's ridiculous for me to ask for anything."
The kappa stares at you for a while, before opening her mouth. "Is that all?"
"Huh." She mutters, confused, "Every single one that came before you, including Ochiba, insisted that they were different and had long, articulate arguments as to why."
"Like I said Miss Kawashiro, I'm not a hero, no matter what you say." You stand up, "I have no divine weapons, I murdered people for profit and my self-confidence is the size of a rice grain. If you didn't lead me here I wouldn't even have the notion of asking for free stuff. Everything I've had was given out of necessity, not because I wanted them. I don't want to be a burden on anyone."
You're lying a bit, considering you had asked Tewi for your weapons, but you feel that the general gist of your statement remains true, since the weapons were necessary.
"You...really aren't asking for anything?" She repeats, aghast.
"I could use a hug, I gue--"
You stumble back as Nitori lunges towards you and gives you a massive bear hug. She's not as strong or as large as you, but the hug is still enough to knock the air out of your lungs, especially since you are missing your exoskeleton.
"You are the first 'hero' I've met that did this!" Nitori sobs into your shirt. "You don't know how much this means to me!"
"I said what any decent person would say, and I'm not even a decent person!" You wheeze out. "Is every empowered outsider a complete asshole or something?!"
"You don't like them either?!"
"I don't think anybody likes them!"
Despite the initial shock, the hug is rather enjoyable. Nobody has hugged you in quite a while now anyway.
"So..." You say as both you and Nitori awkwardly disengage. "What now?"
"Actually, now that I think of it." She grins sheepishly, "I do owe you one for helping to heal me. Still can't give you anything, but I'm more than happy to fix or tune up anything you want."
[ ] I want you to tune up my weapons [ ] I want you to fix up a gun
True, he'll probably die no matter what. He can have a meaningful death without chasing this thread, and I don't think the mastermind has anyone's best interest in mind. It would be best to avoid their plans if possible.
It was a leisurely ride back up the Waterfall of Nine Heavens. You let out a breath in satisfaction as you retrace the path Reimu took in Mountain of Faith. No fairies or mountain guards come out to confront you as you are carried upwards on Nitori's Extending Arms as she flies. In no time at all, the two of you are back in front of the Inubashiri residence, now with eerily less people around.
"Looks like everybody's gone to whatever Ochiba's doing." You observe as you walk up to the door. It opens by itself, to your surprise, though in hindsight that should not have been surprising considering what Momiji did.
"Let's try not talk about him, shall we?" Nitori says as she steps into the house, "Your gear is that pile of stuff by the cabinet, right?"
"Looks like it." You note that your Lunar Forestry Suit has been scrubbed quite clean, and is smelling like fresh forest leaves as you put it back on. Judging by the household it's most likely that Keyaki did the work, though Yanagi...what was Yanagi's job again?
Your eyes wander back over to their...no, you are an Inubashiri now...your shield display cabinet. Beside some of the maple leaf shields are shields decorated with a willow leaf, and look as if they have not been used in a while.
She was probably the previous Lord Inubashiri, not Kuromatsu, who would have used a pine-based emblem.
"So...let's see what we got here." Nitori says as she lays out your weapons onto the table, "A bow, a warhammer, and a shotgun."
"The bow is actually a sort of railgun, and both it and the warhammer use Lunar technology. Rikako already screwed with the shotgun quite a bit by the way."
Nitori takes out a complex looking device that looks like a series of magnifying lens stuck together, and manually adjusts it a couple times before looking through them at the weapons. "Internal strucutre looks normal...no, wait those look like miniature reactors, can't touch those, but the external designs...hmm. Ming, I think I got what I could do."
She lays out the bow first, "I can't do anything about the weapon's fundamental workings, since that is beyond earthly technology, even mine. The bow, however, is a very cumbersome way of operating the railgun that actually propels the projectiles, and with just some time I could greatly improve its firing rate and ergonomics, but do be warned it won't be much of a bow anymore."
The warhammer comes next. "Similarly, not much I can do about the pile driver itself. It could however use a variable length handle, adjustable through simple incantations, that will make it more flexible for you in combat."
Lastly, and with a grimace, she taps the shotgun on the table, "Rusty and antiquated components, and I'm not going to touch that launcher that Rikako made since it’s probably going to blow up in my face. Tell you what, I'm going to gut it completely and replace them with newly machined parts. Also, I've been meaning to test out some of the new ammunition old Koguchi came up with: HESH rounds for small arms."
"Ooh, that could make this weapon not completely useless against the knights we will be facing." You space out a bit at the prospect of spalling them to death through their armor. "I don't see anything wrong with your proposals, so let's do this."
The door opening interrupts your conversation. Keyaki peeks in with his usual nervous demeanor. "Oh, there you are, Mr. Wu-Er, I mean Ming. Oh, and hi Miss Kawashiro." He quickly does a bow, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but Mr. Hakurei has asked for your presence at Moriya Shrine right now. Not you though, Miss Kawashiro."
"Fuck." You swear without thinking about it, taking Keyaki aback. "Do I have to?"
"He's really insistent about it. Like, really insistent."
"Well. I've got nothing I could do. Ugh."
A comforting hand pats you on the shoulder, "Don't worry, it's just a meeting." Nitori reassures you with a smile, "I'll get your weapons tuned up in no time, in case he wants to pick a fight for whatever reason."
"Thanks Nitori. Love you." You give her a friendly nudge in return. "Alright, Keyaki, let's get this over with."
Not being able to fly is a real hindrance, you find. Once gain you have to hitch a ride, this time on Keyaki's back across the Tengu settlement at the top of the mountain, around several of the lesser peaks until you catch sight of a large shrine, looking nearly identical to the shrine in Suwa, resting on the shore of a large mountain lake dominated by onbashira, which does NOT resemble the Suwa lake in the outside world and looks to be formed from the snow runoff from the mountain peak.
It takes you a while to realize how high up you actually are. You actually see several structures even higher up on the mountain's main peak, and you wager that Tenma likely lives up there, among the snow, even. The dense forest that holds the tengu settlement thins out as you get higher up the mountain, and the area the Moriya Shrine is on is almost tundra-like, though it's not really that cold up here. In the sky you can spot several floating island-looking things hidden among the rather dense clouds high up in the atmosphere illuminated by the setting sun, Heaven's visual presence.
"I wish I could fly." You complain as you get off of Keyaki's back at the landing spot near the shrine. "I hate having to depend on other people."
"Nitori had some flying suits developed for Clear Sky's use in the Outside World. But they've been exported." Keyaki answers, still in an indirect, shy tone. "I'm sure somebody can help you with that though!"
"You do realize I can't use magic in the traditional sense, right Keyaki?"
"I know. But if you can save Sis, surely you can learn to fly!"
"I sure hope so."
A pair of white wolf guards at the shrine’s front gate opens the gate for the two of you, and you step into the Moriya Shrine's courtyard. You've visited the outside world Suwa shrine beforehand, and the Moriya shrine resembles it quite closely, save for the fact that the size is larger. The pillars decorating the shrine interior are the size of those found in Greek-style government buildings, with the doors scaled up enough to fit large animals.
Like the white serpent that flies right across the courtyard, ending up in a sprawled heap on the ground.
"I told you, Mishaguji! I feel fine!" You hear a girl's voice call out. A normal girl's voice, not the bestial tones of youkai, the otherworldly tones of most of the non-youkai you've met, or the distinct regional accent of the Gensokyean humans. No, this voice sounds like those of the Japanese you've met in the Outside World.
Sanae Kochiya, wearing a set of pajamas and with her (somewhere between dyed and natural-looking) green hair sprawled messily over her face and the bandages around her forehead, stumbles out of the door that Mishaguji was thrown out of. "I don't care what Lady Suwako says, I'm not going to be sleeping while a war rages on just below us. Just because I bumped my head a bit doesn't mean I need to be treated like a dying person!"
The girl turns at the sound. "Keyaki!" She shouts in joy, and rushes over to the wolf tengu, catching him in her arms and furiously ruffling his ears while Keyaki kind of limply accepts it. "Aww...I haven't seen you in a while! Whatcha doing here anyway?"
"Th-There's a meeting going on. You didn't know?"
"They never told me! Why I'll..." Only now does she suddenly appear to notice you, "You! Hi there!" She greets while continuing to treat Keyaki like a teddy bear, "Who are you?"
"Wu Ming. Eientei courier and newly inducted Inubashiri." You nervously reply. "Nice to meet you Miss Kochiya."
"Newly inducted Inubashiri? You don't even have the ears! How can you..." Her eyes drift to the shield you're carrying over your armor's shield. "...You're serious."
"I got it by resuscitating Momiji."
"Resuscitate?" Keyaki interjects, "That was resurrection!"
"Hold on, hold on." Sanae lets go of Keyaki and puts her hands up, "You're saying you brought Momiji back to life, so she died somehow? Where is she now anyway?"
"Yeah, the knights got her during the battle. She should be at the meeting here." You answer.
Sanae, glowering, turns to the cowering serpent on the ground and begins drawing a glowing pentagram in the air (one of her spellcasting windups in the games, you remember), "Why didn't I hear of this, MISHAGUJI?"
"Lady Suwako insisted that stressful news be put away from your presence," The snake whimpers. From the way he's looking at you, you can sense Mishaguji also saying, "Wu Ming, help me!"
"Relax, Miss Kochiya." You try to calm her down. "Mishaguji is only acting on Lady Suwako's orders. If you want to get mad, get mad at her."
"Hmph." Sanae clears the spell away with a swipe and a disdainful frown, and Mishaguji timidly slithers away, back into the room, "Now, I guess you two must hurry to the meeting then."
"Are you coming?" asks Keyaki.
"'Course not, that'll be stupid, I'll be sneaking in."
Sanae departs, grinning, and you and Keyaki make it to the doors of the shrine's main hall. Chattering can be heard from behind said doors. Keyaki tenses up for a bit before pushing the doors open.
You freeze up as you see a roomful of eyes turn towards you. The shrine interior is dominated by a long table, and kneeling around it are many people. You recognize Tenma, Momiji and her father, Kuromatsu among them, as well as Aya who is taking notes standing up off to the side, alongside who you recognize as Hatate. Many other tengu fill up the spots, including the large tengu captain that flew you over earlier this day, and judging by the weapons they are carrying on their hips and backs they are most likely officers of some sort. Ochiba is also here, positioned at the edge of the table.
Sitting on the steps to the altar in the shrine, in front of a large shimenawa, sits an imposing, blue haired woman, who could be easily confused for a sculpture by her looks and posture. Kanako Yasaka, the patron god of the Moriya Shrine, was apparently in the middle of monologuing before your interruption.
Suwako is nowhere to be seen.
"Lord Tenma, I have retrieved Captain Wu as Mr. Hakurei requested." Keyaki reports.
Muttering commences among the gathered host as Momiji quickly gets up and moves next to you. "Captain Wu Ming is the one who saved my life, for which I have paid for with my name."
The muttering gets more intense. Kanako is eyeing you with great interest.
"Come on." Momiji whispers, "Introduce yourself."
You realize you've never thought of that. How will you introduce yourself properly for the first time after becoming somewhat of a noteworthy person?
[ ] Write-In
Should the writefag rant about Diamond in the Rough?
[X] "I'm the guy who signed for holidays in a beautiful although somewhat hostile land and then proceeded to stumble upon a gang of child kidnappers, 3 conspiracies, 2 wars and a Raise Dead spell." -[X] "Nice to meet you."
[X] "I'm the guy who signed for holidays in a beautiful although somewhat hostile land and then proceeded to stumble upon a gang of child kidnappers, 3 conspiracies, 2 wars and a Raise Dead spell." -[X] "Nice to meet you."
There was some things I wanted to add but I forgot. So this will do for now.
[X] "I'm the guy who signed for holidays in a beautiful although somewhat hostile land and then proceeded to stumble upon a gang of child kidnappers, 3 conspiracies, 2 wars and a Raise Dead spell." -[X] "Nice to meet you."
[x] Greetings, lords, ladies, gods. I'm Wu Ming: Inubashiri retainer, descendant of the Dragon God of calamity, honorary Tengu Captain, Eientei courier, medicine student and cute Youkai girls enthusiast. -[x] It is an honor, and my pleasure, to meet you all
[X] "I'm the guy who signed for holidays in a beautiful although somewhat hostile land and then proceeded to stumble upon a gang of child kidnappers, 3 conspiracies, 2 wars and a Raise Dead spell." -[X] "Nice to meet you."
Can't find a good picture for this, sorry.Rifle!AK47hf008c2016/09/20 (Tue) 22:34No. 30851▼
[X] "I'm a guy who signed for holidays in a beautiful although somewhat hostile land and then proceeded to stumble upon a gang of child kidnappers, 3 conspiracies, 2 wars and a Raise Dead spell." -[X] "Nice to meet you all."
You finish your introduction with a bow, and look up to see many confused stares being thrown your way, and the muttering intensifies.
"Very well, please be seated." Tenma orders. You dutifully pick a spot next to Keyaki and kneel there, silently cursing the lack of chairs.
"Well I thought it was funny." You mutter to yourself.
"Thank you, now, if we can turn our attention back to our exhibit." Kanako directs the audience's attention towards the large canvas behind and off to her side, "Miss Shameimaru, if you will begin the emergency presentation."
"Affirmative." Aya puts down the notepad and steps up, "The agent captured by the Scarlet Devil Mansion had a data device on him, one unreadable by equipment either Gensokyean or Outside. It was, however, readable by his own equipment, and after much coercion, magical and otherwise, he gave up some schematics that are proving to be disturbing in implication. The SDM has delivered the data to us via magical vessel by fairy courier."
She produces a bejeweled pot from her clothing, and raises her hand. A stream of ink spews out at the command and springs for the canvas, forming itself into intricate lines and dots, into what you can tell is a blueprint.
"This," Aya gestures at the diagram, which you recognize as one representing the design of a gun of some sort, "Is what he called a Tactical Laser System, designed for anti-air use. It is not man-portable, but the abominable war-beasts we encountered can field them as weapons. Judging by the power capacity, it is enough to incinerate one of us on impact."
Everybody quiets down at that statement. Tenma speaks up, "Our danmaku play skills will come in favorably against this weapon, and I will put in a work request for heat shields both magical and technological. What else?"
The ink rearranges itself, into a different blueprint, one of what looks like a missile warhead. "The TLS systems revealed appears to be a 'light' anti-air system that they are introducing in addition to the conventional weapons they have used against us. This, on the other hand is what the captured agent termed a 'Skysmasher', an explosive device with technology beyond our scope that can effectively deny airspaces. He claims the warhead is not nuclear powered, but has a similar capacity, and is designed to create "slow" shockwaves that pulse through the air, rendering flight at any height above tree level to be impossible.
The room turns dead silent. "Why haven't they leveled Gensokyo yet with these weapons?" One of the white wolf captains asks.
"According to the interrogation transcript the captured agent claimed that they are not nearly so barbaric and cruel. He says that they are here to stop Clear Sky, not to destroy Gensokyo."
"Sounds like an occupation instead of annihilation; at least we can write mass destruction off as a threat for the duration, if we can trust him." Tenma states with unnerving calm, "Is that it for the schematics recovered?"
"No, there is a final one." Aya states, her tone deadened as the ink rearranges into a different design, one which is unrecognizable and looks like a jumble of lines reorganized in a strangely organic manner, "It's a thing. A thing we can't recognize. The agent would not give up the information regardless of what Miss Izayoi did to him, only admitting that it is very large, and 'The last step'."
"...Perhaps some sort of annihilation is still in consideration." Tenma says, his voice now slightly quivering.
"Hakurei Ochiba," Kanako says, asserting the voice of the meeting from Tenma and Aya, "You have stated that you involved the Moriya Shrine here in this meeting to begin an alliance in the face of this new threat facing Gensokyo, how will you go about doing so?"
Ochiba stands up, and you note that he appears to have gained a new backpack and pauldrons. Shiny chrome ones too. You tremble a bit at the realization that they are probably concealing micromissiles. "I have called all of you here today to do exactly that. Even as we talk now a massive contingent of these knights are bearing down upon us. While I trust Lady Yukari Yakumo's capability in stopping some of them before they arrive here, the fact that the border is sealed off to us means that we must, at this crucial moment, stand together."
"I am requesting the cooperation of not just Moriya Shrine and the Youkai Mountain, but every faction in Gensokyo to come together against this storm..."
He's not saying anything disagreeable, but either because his manner of speaking is too long-winded or because of your personal distaste for him, you zone out most of the speech. You catch enough fragments to note that his plan is to send out messages to all Gensokyean factions, from the Human Village to the barely-above feral youkai dwelling in the Forest of Magic, to come to arms and report to a central command structure based around Clear Sky's core member (Youkai Mountain).
"Is he honestly suggesting a pitched battle against these guys?" You whisper to Momiji as Ochiba goes into detail about a theoretical second defense of the mountain.
"It's the honorable way to go about it." She whispers back, "But I do not think it is possible. Fully half of our troops are too injured to fight as a result of the last battle, and either way we're heavily outnumbered"
"Shouldn't we be figuring out how to regain control of the Border instead? Once we do that it doesn't matter how many knights they have."
"We would need Hakurei Shrine's cooperation for that."
"And what's the problem with that?"
Momiji furtively looks around, then whispers to you, "Hakurei Shrine has gone silent since the announcement they made. The last messenger we sent there an hour ago was turned away by Mima and Ibaraki Kasen with no explanation."
"What about Mayohiga?" You choke back, your heart sinking like a stone at what she implied with that statement, "We got anything?"
"Chen is there, currently under the protection of a squad of white wolves, as per contract. As both Ran and Yukari have been Outside during the past month, it is likely that they are locked out."
You glance back up, and note that Ochiba is still talking, not noticing your chatter.
It takes quite a while for Ochiba to finish talking. It is overall not a bad plan, very logical and consistent, if it were not for the fact that Gensokyo is severely outnumbered in terms of warm bodies. Meanwhile, you busy yourself with theories of what WMDs you could reasonably use to turn the tide, but you think of none that can both eliminate the threat and preserve Gensokyo's integrity. This includes getting Flandre or Utsuho involved to their full extent.
The white wolves in the crowd mutter and bicker. The one which you recognize as Momiji's father, Kuromatsu, is whispering constantly in Tenma's ear. Kanako remains in her crosslegged pose, with her head on her hand, listening intently to what Ochiba was saying but showing no emotion other than a shallow smile.
"...And that is the conclusion of my proposal! As I have said, only together, can Gensokyo stand against this menace!"
Applause, firm but unenthusiastic, comes out from the crowd. Everybody appears to be more nervously eying Ochiba's weaponry than genuinely appealed.
"Thank you, Mr. Hakurei." Kanako announces, "Now, if we may proceed with the other reports from the White Wolf Guard..."
"May I request something?" Ochiba interjects, and to your horror he is looking at you, "I have requested Captain Wu Ming's presence because of his extensive experience in dealing with these Saviors, and I would like for him to speak next."
"I...uh." Your stomach clenches as the eyes in the room turn again onto you, and you realize you have no idea what you are doing here.
[X] Decline What does he knows that they don't ? Aside from their vulnerability to Hew, not very useful to them, there isn't much beyond "bash his skull until it dies". Do they know they can turn invisible ?
[x] Accept -[x] Say what you know about their capabilities and address that an honorable straight fight is unwise against an enemy that outnumbers you. --[x] Suggest guerrilla warfare as an alternative
One thing is ambushing an enemy and fighting with advantage on your side, another is dashing straight into a squad of hostiles with specialized equipment that is designed to slay your ass specifically. Guerrilla warfare is the way to go here, and considering that youkai are THE experts in the field and the fighting's on our side, it'd be plain stupid to go open conflict.
[x] Accept -[x] Say what you know about their capabilities and address that an honorable straight fight is unwise against an enemy that outnumbers you. --[x] Suggest guerrilla warfare as an alternative ---[x] Reiterate that while you are heavily equipped for combat. Assert that you are not a combatant whatsoever, take your suggestions as they will.
I agree with the above anon. While I'd rather stay quiet and hold our cards. Doing so will leave everyone with an impression of us being either incompetent or unwilling. In the presence of all these superpowers. I very much think that leaving that kind of impression would not be beneficial.
However that doesn't mean we should put ourselves on the frontlines both on the honorable ground and the dishonorable one. Wu isn't an experienced fighter. He's gotten through most engagements through bullshitting and equalizing equipment. Over complicated tactics are not his forte. At the most; he'd be a foot soldier. The least; a meatshield.
[x] Accept -[x] Say what you know about their capabilities and address that an honorable straight fight is unwise against an enemy that outnumbers you. --[x] Suggest guerrilla warfare as an alternative ---[x] Reiterate that while you are heavily equipped for combat. Assert that you are not a combatant whatsoever, take your suggestions as they will.
You stand, wide-eyed and in shock, at the front of the room, next to the magical projector screen after letting yourself get pulled over by Ochiba. It's like giving a presentation for your thesis, except instead of having little idea of what you are doing you instead have absolutely NO idea instead.
The rainbow scale in your head shakes and tingles.
"Alright, let's get this out of the way first." Your mouth moves without thinking, "I'm a college student on vacation, and I'm not getting paid enough to fight for anything. However, I still fought back when these armored assholes attacked me out of nowhere, meaning that I know something about hurting them. I guess I should share it so we can get this over with and I can enjoy my summer vacation in peace in youkai-land."
Looking out, you see surprised faces looking back at you. Ochiba in particular appears to have frozen in the middle of a smile, and looks like somebody forcing an expression.
You make an exaggerated gesture around your body as you continue speaking with no real filter. "So on the outside they are covered with this tough metal shell right? Banging around like a tin can. They can also remain invisible to most forms of detection when remaining still, according to my boss anyway. But once you get past those two problems they are just squishy humans on the inside, tasty for you guys, and with organs that can be sold for quite a bit of money. But that's another story."
"The problem with fighting them is that there's probably a lot of them and not a whole lot of you. Normal guns and blades don't work really well, but things like ol' Initiative here," You unsheathe your warhammer and hold it high, "Hurts them real well through their armor. It doesn't matter how strong the plating is when you blunt force their bones into mush. Also, these guys dress like knights and sort of act like them, and from my experience they tend to stand tall and fight upright unless they're ambushing. So don't do what they do. Do youkai stuff like waiting for them to come out of invisibility and just try to keep them down. While normal bullets and weapons don't work quite well I'm pretty sure a solid blow to the head would still concussion their brains out like chicken soup. Mmm, chicken soup. Setting them on fire also works, I guess. I'm not really much of a fighter, so take what I say with a grain of salt."
"Now, on how to beat them? Torture. They seem like decent people at heart so just catch a few of them by the lonesome and hang'em up somewhere visible and just go to town on them. It'll probably be tricky with the teleportation devices they have but we've captured a few already so it should be no biggie.. Cut off fingers and such, then eat them, and broadcast the resulting screams. That'll bait anybody with a human heart into rushing to aid them, and that's where you set an ambush. Got any stockpiles of nerve gas or white phosphorus or the magical equivalent for dealing with large numbers? "
"Clear Sky does not use such weapons," Tenma quietly states, "They are too indiscriminate."
"Well we need indiscriminate now. Call Utsuho up from the underground and have her drop suns on them or something, I don't know. We've got 20,000 problems and we need a quick way to solve it. Gosh I hate fighting. Give me a good casualty to treat any day or a captured asshole to torment. If we only have precision weaponry then I guess the best way is to draw them thin and deep into Gensokyo and pick them off one by one. Still, that may mean giving up Youkai Mountain for a while, but hopefully we'll have more options by then. If not we can always pretend to stand down then do independent terror attacks as a last resort...why are you all staring at me like that?"
Distrust, suspicion, some degree of revulsion. The collected white wolf tengu captains and Tenma look rather baffled at your rant. Momiji and Kuromatsu have widened eyes, Keyaki's looking away, Kanako is holding her head in her palm and Ochiba is looking downright shocked.
"So yeah. That's what a 20 year old medical student with some random magical powers and makeshift combat experience would tell you. Thanks for listening."
The rainbow scale ceases its motion
You return to your seat as Kanako clears her throat and uncomfortably says, "Thanks...uh, Captain Wu. That was an eye-opening talk."
"Ming?" Momiji worriedly whispers at you as you settle back in to the kneel, "What was that?"
"Ochiba asked me for me to speak, so I did so." You look at the outsider, and see that he is avoiding your gaze. "What did he expect?"
"A healer in attitude as well as trade?" Kuromatsu whispers from your other side. "Perhaps he hoped for a moderating message to treat the enemy humanely?"
"Just because I'm a medic with healing magic doesn't mean I fit the archetype." You groan.
You're not sure how this will affect your...relationship with the empowered outsider. It's probably not good.
The rest of the meeting is sort of a blur. Some more white wolf captains came up to give reports on the battle results and the enemy movements sighted throughout the Youkai Mountain's jurisdiction, neither of which paint a rosy picture of Gensokyo's current situation. Then everybody with actual commanding authority begins discussing the actual strategy they are going to employ, and you find yourself forcing your eyelids to stay open as the shear weariness from this day's exertions begin to kick in properly.
You spot Sanae poking her head around a pillar once or twice, but she doesn't seem very interested even after sneaking in. From what you gather they spoke of fortifying the mountain, deploying what Clear Sky tech they have immediately and clustering around the mountain to form a solid defense.
Doesn't seem like they took what you said seriously. You think as you stifle another yawn.
And Suwako still has not shown up. You like her as a character better than Kanako so...
"Mmrm...Oh." You look around to see that people are leaving the room, and Kuromatsu is looking rather concernedly at you. "Sorry, I'm really tired."
"You have enough energy to join us for the celebratory feast? I do not believe you have eaten yet."
"Celebratory feast? We're celebrating?" You pick yourself off of the table, and shake your head to clear it.
"We need one after the battle. We won after all, and a feast boosts morale like no other. Key, can you give Ming a ride?"
"Yes Pa." The black-haired wolf comes over and once again pulls you onto his back. "Come on."
The two of you soar out of the shrine, staying close to the other two Inubashiris. Looking down, you see that the Tengu Village is awash in red light, coming out of thousands of lanterns dotted around the mountainous settlement. The darkening sky is thick with flying individuals and the smoke from cooking fires.
"Hope we won't get attacked while this is going on." You remark.
"If they do it wouldn't matter if we were feasting or not." Momiji sighs as she flies in closer. "We're too low on numbers to fight right now."
As you move in closer you see tables being hauled up to the plaza of the village, which appears to be the only flat area on the mountain. You can hear music from the various tengu musicians sounding above the sounds of tengu and kappa converging on this location, many of whom are bearing food. You spot Tenma with an accompaniment of captains standing on an elevated position, likely to address the attendees in some way. The wounded white wolf guards you saw earlier are entering the area in one cohesive column, and are taking up the tables closer to Tenma.
This is really a morale-boosting feast. You recognize.
You don't spot Meiling and Yanagi. Are they still at the hot springs?
The real centerpiece of this upcoming feast, as far as you can tell, are several large pots posted at (where else) the center of the plaza, which is odd as most of the food appears to have been prepared elsewhere save for the barbecue stands. Notably, you see a few guards posted around them.
"Man, I'm hungry. Whatever's in those pots smells really good." You remark.
"Of course! That's where we cook...the..." Momiji stops mid-sentence, and bites her lip.
"You see..." Kuromatsu quickly picks up, "It's not that..."
"It's people isn't it." You guess. "You're cooking humans in there."
"Cattle from Yukari, right? I don't think you guys captured any of the knights yet."
"The cattle are throughly vetted to only include the most rotten of sinners," Momiji almost instinctively begins to explain, "We have never killed an innocent..."
"Yeah yeah yeah I know." You cut her off, "I've cut a deal with Nue Houjuu once to guide some of them into a slaughter once. I really don't care how many of these scumbags you kill or eat."
"...Huh. I expected more of a disgusted reaction. My brother here didn't react well at all initially."
"I just don't like the taste, okay?" Keyaki pipes up, "Being previously human is hard on the taste buds. It also didn't help that you only told me after I ate it!"
"Sorry. But the way you reacted was adorable." Momiji teases. "Still, you learned to deal with it right? Especially since we as the top-ranked captains in the Guard means that we get the share right after Lord Tenma, so we have to eat it lest people complain about wastage."
"Wait, I am an Inubashiri too now, right?"
Awkward silence dominates the air between the four of you for a few moments, as you all stare at the pots. Kuromatsu eventually breaks the question.
"So uh, Ming, are you okay with...eating the flesh?"
"However misanthropic I might be, I am still human, and while that stands I have no reason to eat human flesh. The idea doesn't horrify me as much as it probably should, and that fact alone would likely horrify any humans that heard it . . . as it should, frankly. Thank you for the offer, however. Ask me again if I somehow become a youkai and I'll likely have a different answer."
(We're creepy and don't follow common ethics, but we are still technically human and aren't cannibals yet . . . right?)
"Overthrowing governments? Spreading chaos? Forcing your view onto the world? Look at yourselves. What makes you any different from a comic book terrorist organization? "
- Message from an unknown source, broadcast to Clear Sky facilities at 1700 hours ====================
Time: 1900 hours Date: June 29, 20XX Location: Airspace near Southern Japan Threat Level: 3
"Davin, are we close to Japan?"
"Yes ma'am, ETA to Matsumoto Airport in twenty minutes."
Winters stirs from his reclined seat, yawning. He has been on this plane on average of ten hours a day, and he is silently hoping that Yukari would implement her stable portal network to the fringe regions they are visiting soon.
They used the last portable one in Darfur, Sudan to set up a quick invasion of the region and knock the government off balance. Most of their Myanmar bases and dormant satellite bases are still dependent on traditional supply routes. Hence, the converted Boeing 767 they are using as a mobile command center for Yukari to perform inspections with.
"Ma'am?" The co-pilot calls over the comms, "We are picking up radar signatures to our front, looks to be JASDF F-15s."
"What?" Yukari looks up from her laptop and, for the first time in Winter's memory, looks surprised.
"They're radioing us...'Clear Sky Eight-Four-Nine-Two, You are not allowed within Japanese airspace, please turn back.'"
The youkai of boundaries makes a soft growling sound, before having her satellite phone fly up to her hand and dial a quick sequence by itself, "Seriously...Hello, Yamato?"
Winters watches with terrified anticipation as Yukari's face steadily grows darker as angry Japanese shouting comes through the other end of the phone. Even the bodyguards have ceased their constant intake of coffee and are watching their boss for any sudden movements, likely out of self-preservation instincts.
"...Thank you Yamato." Yukari hangs up and sets the phone down after what feels like five minutes of ranting from the other side. She then proceeds to deeply sigh and lean back.
"We are not entering Japan after all, it seems. The information that we shared out of cooperation to the Japanese government was not received well, to say the least. They are accusing us of provoking a massive terrorist incursion on their soil, and are ordering Clear Sky to stand down and have the JSDF and US forces to, and I quote 'Clean up your mess'. Davin, Miyato, redirect us to Nanjing."
She checks her phone again, "So the backup I called in from Spice and Mir are not going to be able to make it over the border without me personally intervening, which defeats the purpose. Dropping Russian or Chinese troops in would only make it worse at this point. Alas, I have shamefully neglected to install a secondary portal entrance in Japan, so smuggling our own troops over would require quite some effort."
"So what do we do then?" Winters asks, concerned.
"The current situation that we have to deal with are the 20,000 hostiles rapidly moving towards Gensokyo. Make no mistake, with their weaponry and armament, if the preliminary reports from Darfur and the Garden before it was cut off is accurate, would make mincemeat of the JSDF. I also doubt the US forces would fare much better. No, it's time for some...experimental methods."
A wide, unsettling smile spreads across her face, unusual compared to her usual whimsical grins. Winters leans back as Yukari dials another number, "Nagano Outpost, this is Callsign Primrose...Listen up, remember that strange designator I gave to you four months ago and never explained what it did? Now you're going to use that. Intercept the invading force and paint the center of their mass...yes do not confront them otherwise."
She hangs up, then stands up from her seat. With a hand wave she draws a gap in the air, making Winters cringe as the horrible eyes in there stare mindlessly at the people in the room. Yukari takes a deep breath, and draws a complex wheel sigil in the air, forming what looks like a magical antenna that punches straight through the gap.
"Moonfall, can you read me?"
The mercenaries perk up, "Moonfall? Project Moonfall? I thought that was still under construction?"
"What is Project Moonfall anyway?" Winters asks. It's the first time he's heard of the name.
"Project Moonfall is not complete yet, to answer your question Johannes. It is however very functional, and is ready for some preliminary testing."
A synthesized, artificial voice comes back through Yukari's portal, "MOONFALL STATUS: OPERATIONAL. WHAT IS YOUR WISH, MASTER?"
"Move into orbit over the Garden, Moonfall, and standby. Load the corrosion shells."
Winters freezes as he hears the combination of "orbit" and "shells". "You couldn't have." He stammers out, "You have a Rods from God satellite in orbit."
"Oh my dear Winters," Yukari laughs as she closes the portal, "Did you think that such a little thing as a countrywide lockdown will keep us from defending Gensokyo? Such a situation has been planned for, and the contingency implemented."
Time: 8:40 PM Date: June 29, 20XX Location: Tengu Village Threat Level: 2
Human meat doesn't really look all that different when it's been stewed for this long. The cooks left the head out, thankfully, and most of the meat looks little different than stewed pork. Of course, you can see knuckles and other distinctively human parts floating around in there, but you pay it no mind as you watch one of the cooks serve the tengu higher-ups, starting with Tenma.
Still no good for you, though.
"Are you sure, Ming?" Momiji asks.
"Yes. I don't want to risk getting a prion infection from something like this. Can't fight with holes in my brain after all. Sorry."
"It is fine. Forcing you to eat it would be cruel." She says, without a hint of ill-will of any sort.
You watch as the tengu take turns by rank to receive their serving of flesh. Everybody receives the same serving size though, no matter the rank, though you wager that the first chunks of meat from the pot are likely better than the bottom ones. Eventually, with the arrival of more people and the sound of music in the air come the cooks bearing more conventional dishes: Whole roasted carcasses of wild pigs and deer, vast tubs of all sorts of riceballs, baskets of fried vegetables, platters of pastries, and trays of various river delicacies. Your stomach growling, you are just about to grab a plate and dig in when somebody taps you on the shoulder.
"So, what are we doing here?" Ochiba cheerfully inquisites, gesturing at the long line for the pots, "It must be something really good!"
You respond, deadpan, "People."
"Ha ha, no really, what is it? It smells quite well."
"It's people. African war criminals to be exact. A byproduct of Clear Sky's adventures in that region."
Ochiba's smile gradually fades as he hears you and sees the cook fish a foot out of the pot, "You are serious."
"Dude, have you read anything about Gensokyo? They're youkai. They eat people. Don't worry about it, the cattle have all been judged by the Yama and their souls are blacker than the night. See, look they've even got the authenticated crime plaques lined up there." You motion at the wooden plaques set next to the pots like discarded shopping labels. "Multiple rapist, multiple rapist, child killer, mass murderer, multiple rapist..."
"I have not paid that much attention to the material, I confess. But..." He senses that the plaques are genuine, the harsh judgment of the Yama radiating an aura of undeniable certainty. "This seems so..."
"Disgusting? Well I'm with you on that. Not a big fan of cannibalism myself. Everybody else here seems to be pretty happy about it however. Local customs! Gotta love them."
You wonder to yourself if acting like this in front of a spotlessly clean hero like Ochiba is a good idea.
"You...really. Oh, Miss Kochiya!" He calls out to the shrine maiden who happened to land nearby during the conversation as he shifts up right next to her in a blur, startling her before he coerces her over next to the pots. "There are humans in these pots!"
Sanae stares blankly at him, "Yes? Your point?"
"Aren't you going to do something about this desecrating act? At least some objections?"
"Desecrating?" Sanae's tone suddenly takes on a harsh edge, "Oh, so now these cattle deserve respect now? Is that what you are saying?"
Sensing another argument about to happen, once again between two people you really don't want to be in the way of, you dive on over to where one of the locations where the food is being kept (there's a couple of food tables, the plaza is large and it looks like a couple thousand tengu are attending, plus those that are grabbing and going), and fill up your plate with a chunk of pork and riceballs, before spotting and moving over to the table where the Inubashiri family is seated at.
You note with some apprehension that Yanagi and Meiling are still absent.
"Hey Ming!" Momiji beams at you, "How are you enjoying the feast?"
"Mmmhrmhmmrm?" You answer back with a mouthful of food, before swallowing. "Oh, uh. It's great. The food's great, the music is nice, and the people are awesome...I don't mean the ones you're eating." You quickly add as the three laugh.
You then remember something you always wanted to know.
"So, Keyaki," You ask the black wolf, "I'm surprised that you haven't shown up in any of the Outside World works about Gensokyo."
"That's to be expected, really." He chuckles, "I spend most of my time off-duty as a recluse, and if Sis never even got a portrait in the games, I doubt I would have shown up at all."
"Which is strange, you know. A human turned tengu, that's not something you see everyday, and you don't look older than twenty! How did you get here?"
The cheerful atmosphere at the table recedes some as you ask that question, as his father and sister give him a worried gaze. Keyaki clears his throat, nervously. "You really want to know?"
"If it's not too much to ask for."
"Bro, if you want to I can answer..." Momiji begins before Keyaki cuts her off.
"No, it's fine. Ming, I was an outsider, like you."
He swallows saliva, then continues, "I was born sometime in the 1940s, I never knew my birth parents. Perhaps they died during the bombings or abandoned me for other reasons. The gray walls of the orphanage and the cruel jeers of the children were all I knew. I was shy, cried a lot and probably most importantly had a deformed leg, meaning I had to go around on crutches. It was...not a fun time."
A war orphan from WWII? That's something you didn't expect.
"On a trip in Nagano, I was pushed off of a cliff and became separated from the group. When I woke up I was in a strange forest, one much unlike the one we were in. I can't find my way back, so I limped on through the woods, and somehow I survived long enough there to get picked up by Sis while she was out on patrol."
"Aren't you letting something out, Keyaki?" Momiji insists.
"...I kind of wandered for three days and had to fend off some feral youkai."
"Wait, hold on." You ask, "How old were you?"
"Twelve, I think, it's been a while."
"A twelve year old crippled outsider survived in Gensokyo, back before the spellcard rule era, for three days." You state incredulously.
"To be honest I was very lucky, and I think most of the youkai didn't think of me as a proper meal given how I was skin and bones."
"You looked like a famine victim when we found you, remember?" Kuromatsu adds on, "We thought you were a hungry ghost at first, being so malnourished and covered in grime and blood. Before then I never thought that a human child could be so tough and tenacious. I knew from the moment Momiji carried you to our house that you were worthy of being an Inubashiri."
That can't be the end of the story, "So how did you get the ears and become a tengu, anyway?"
Keyaki glances in the direction of the platform, where Tenma is positioned, before saying back, "Back then Youkai Mountain was much more strict and brutal on the presence of humans on the mountain. This was before the spellcard rules and before the Hakurei-Yakumo clan was as strong as they are now, so any human on the mountain was automatically assumed to be an enemy. I guess Tenma wanted to make an example out of me or something, so as soon as he found out about me he ordered me to be thrown into a trial by combat...with Momiji, the new Guard-Captain, as the opponent."
You don't quite know what to say at that.
"It wasn't much of a fight. A crippled human child against...I think you broke half of my bones then, Sis. As she was going to land the final blow, however..."
"...I turned the blade into myself and impaled us both, mingling your blood with mine." Momiji finishes, softly, "When we collapsed together in the arena, then, I became partially human and you died, only to be immediately reborn as a tengu."
Something clicks in your head, "Is that why many depictions of you lack wolf ears?" You quickly ask.
"Yep," She rubs her currently present ones, "Got these back only recently, after a drop by in the Outside World where I ended up working in a bar for a while, but that's another story that I don't want to talk about."
"So...wow, okay. That was a pretty...brutal story honestly. I mean, conversion through impaling? Damn."
"It wasn't that bad." Keyaki remarks with uncharacteristic cheer, "It hurt for just a brief moment before it all went black, and then I woke up to Sis crying and hugging me. Lord Tenma had to accept me afterwards, and I think he ended up softening his stance on humans from that point on. So I guess it was a happy ending, if this was a fairy tale."
"A well-earned happy ending!" Kuromatsu laughs as he slaps his son on the back, "You fought for every little thing all the way to where you are now: One of the top officers of the Guard!"
"Come on, guys." Momiji requests, "Storytime's over, the food's getting cold."
While you dig in to the food, you silently digest the information in your head.
If this was a story. Keyaki isn't a native character of it. He is an inserted character who's gone through his story and came out with the reward for the hero's journey, in his case the gift of tengu-hood and a loving family.
An inserted character just like you, Conner, Ochiba, the Russians, and the horde of outsiders camped outside of the Village. Also Sanae to an extent.
You realize you should really to be aiming for his current position in the narrative, but somehow you doubt that it is possible.
For one, you're not sure if you can survive the next day even.
"...If you saw the scars on their little bodies and the tears on their faces, Mr. Hakurei, you wouldn't be arguing for the 'honor' of these human fiends."
Without a further word, Ochiba turns around and disappears off into the Tengu Village.
"Well that went well." Sanae mutters.
"What happened?" You groggily ask as you stumble up next to Sanae, catching the tail end of their conversation as you noticed that they are still arguing after you've stuffed yourself with food for half an hour.
"Oh, Ming. Mr. Hakurei Ochiba won't concede that eating the cattle is exact justice for what they have done. I mean, have you seen the kids Yukari sometimes sends over to Eientei for therapy?" She shakes her head, "One of them legitimately doesn't have a face anymore after what she's been through. Burned out by acid. And he had the nerve to stand there and complain that it's violating the cattle's decency as human beings."
"You guys have been arguing for a while, aren't you hungry yet?"
Sanae reacts as though that is shocking news, "Oh my. I guess I really am hungry. Ugh." You watch her run off to the food tables.
"She really does lack common sense." You remark as you look out into the street that Ochiba walked away into.
[ ] Find Ochiba, better make sure he isn't doing something hot-headed. [ ] Not your problem. Forget about him and just enjoy the feast, he's not worth it.
How naive the motion that a guilty and an innocent life have the same value seems right now. I wonder if he'll try to talk the invaders to submission too. Because people willing to put their life on the line, right or wrong, fanatical or not, are easily persuaded,no?
[x] Find Ochiba, better make sure he isn't doing something hot-headed.
Down the cobbles of the village, beneath the joyous gloom of the paper lanterns, you give chase on exoskeletal legs to the other outsider.
Your Hunter's Module shows life signs all around you, filtered by its projected threat levels. It's a good thing Ochiba shows up as a big yellow signature on there as a result, or else with his quick movement it becomes really hard to track him.
"Call," You had called out at the beginning of your chase, and soon you found yourself flanked by the glowing wisps of your three familiars...each of whom bear one of their crude flamethrowers.
You have no weapons yourself save for your spells, which really aren't that wonderful offensively. Nothing that could stand against Ochiba. You are quite certain that Hew would simply bounce off of his plot armor or whatever empowered outsiders get.
Strange, he was walking semi-randomly before, but now it looks as though he's going in a straight line to the west. Which means that-
You find yourself sprawled on the ground after tripping over something. Only when you scramble up and look around do you notice that you tripped over someone instead. Namely, someone short and with a massive backpack.
"Ow..." Nitori groans as she gets off the ground after you. "Watch where you're going! You damn...Oh it's you, Ming."
"Hey Nitori. Here for the feast?" You ask as you pat yourself down.
"I've already ate, I'm actually here for you. Specifically, to deliver the weapons you had me...tinker with."
"Tinker?" You give her an inquisitive look, "Nitori, what exactly did you do with them?"
"Heh, so...yeah, I got carried away while modifying the railgun. Then I looked over at your warhammer and one thing led to another, and...well, I made your weapons better!" She proudly has the extending arms hold up the resultant product.
The Lunarian Sentinel Bow has been completely gutted, with only the bare minimum of the required components remaining, which are the energy capacitors, the miniature fusion reactors, and the prongs that guide the projectiles. The weapon now appears to have a conventional mechanism for the loading of tungsten darts, with a magazine and an autoloader mechanism, making it resemble more of a conventional anti-matériel rifle. You heft the weapon, and note that despite how much lighter it looks compared to the clunky bow it was made from it still weighs about as much.
"So where's my warhammer?"
Nitori grins as she points to a button on the barrel of the weapon. "Press that."
You hold out the gun with one hand and press the button. The weapon immediately begins shifting its own parts around and the stock collapses, warping and reforming until you are looking at a long handled version of your old warhammer.
"See, the Lunarian weapons only have a tiny portion of them that are actually required for them to work, so I just took those parts out and combined the two into one weapon so you don't have to carry so much volume or fumble around with the Ethereal Sheath spell. Progress!"
"Y'know." You remark as you morph the weapon back and forth a few times, noting that the transformation is quite fast and takes less than a second. "I would normally be suspicious about such an...innovative device, but this is actually quite handy. Initiative!" You hold up the weapon and exclaim, "Now capable of dispensing death at all ranges!"
"Initiative? That's what you're calling the weapon?"
"Hey, it sounds cool in Japanese ('Initiative' is pronounced 'Sente'), and it's as good as a name as any. The Netherworld gardener's blades are named after buildings for crying out loud."
"Whatever you say, customer." Nitori doesn't seem very satisfied with your explanation as she digs around in her backpack. "Here's your shotgun." She hands you something that resembles an overgrown machine pistol, with two large barrels in the front and a massive magazine in front of the trigger. "I've determined that with the HESH rounds you'll be using its accuracy is going to be abysmal at longer ranges anyway, so I've pared it down into a high-caliber sidearm. The universal launcher installed by the village engineers is still available under the normal barrel."
"Sidearm, primary." You make a pose holding the shotgun pistol in front of you and the warhammer to the side, and then a pose holding the transformed rifle and the pistol in front of you with crossed arms. "I feel like an actual warrior now." You beam in satisfaction.
"Don't get too carried away now. Say," Nitori looks around you, "Everybody's at the feast. What are you doing out here?"
"Ochiba left the party and is currently en-route to somewhere." You check your HUD and raise a finger, "Yeah, he's running off to the west in that direction...huh, he's stopped."
"Over there? Ooh..." Nitori cringes and exhales, "...That's where the tengu keeps the pens for the cattle."
"Oh no." You begin taking off at a run, with Nitori following close behind you, "Is he going to be trying to free them?"
"That's not going to be a problem. I think Tenma had all of the remaining ones in the pens slaughtered for the feast. However, the tengu also slaughter them over there and keep the ossuary for their inedible remains. Well, it's more of a garbage heap than an ossuary, really. How did he find it anyway? I doubt anybody told him."
The only way to find out is to find him. Between the mechanical enhancements both of you have, you clear the distance between you and Ochiba quite fast despite how simultaneously full in the stomach and exhausted in the muscles you are. Dashing under the spindly buildings and up and down the steep stairs which characterize most of tengu village, you eventually come upon less and less buildings as you approach the edge of the village proper, and the buildings you do come across are more utilitarian in nature.
"The rainclouds are gathering, and the air feels charged." Nitori says as she looks up while flying alongside you, "It feels like a storm tonight."
"Just wonderful." You grumble as you put your hood up.
The raindrops pitter patter down the cobbles as you finally approach what looks like a quarry on the side of the mountain. You motion for Nitori to stop as you catch sight of Ochiba's signature in direct visual range. Both of you take cover behind a rock, and peek out and observe the surroundings.
The quarry is dug in a way that the only way out is through the narrow path that you are overlooking, with the rest of the perimeter being a sheer rock wall or a cliff drop. The area is illuminated by some braziers that somebody apparently forgot to put out. Wooden cages line one side of the quarry, cages covered with leather and lined with straw. A lone stone block lies in the center, stained with some dark liquid that shines crimson in the firelight, with a heavy sword lying on it that clarifies its purpose twice over.
Ochiba is kneeling next to a vast pit dug in the ground, a pit that was carved with deliberation and care, and flanked with decorative statues, almost as a sign of respect towards its grisly contents: Human bones piled halfway up the pit, Skulls, ribs, thighbones, you name it, all stacked up in the 'ossuary' while fully exposed to the elements.
"Do you understand now?" A deep baritone male voice rings out.
You suddenly become aware of a second figure in the quarry. A tall, imposing one. He is clad in a dark cloak, which is why you didn't notice him at first. Carefully comparing him with Ochiba who is positioned by his side, you judge with silent surprise that the stranger is at least eight feet tall, with shoulder width to match. Your breath catches in your throat as you realize that he does not show up on the Hunter's Module at all.
"They are slaughtered here. Their skin tanned to make parts of armor, their flesh cooked and devoured, and their bones discarded here, waiting for the rain and wind to wear them down into powder, which are then forged into cruel weapons and distilled into wicked medicines. Humans treated like cattle: The true nature of Gensokyo."
"This can't be it! This is a paradise! A paradise I was born to defend! J-Just because they commit some injustice doesn't mean the whole place is corrupted like you say!" Ochiba protests, standing up.
"This is already a heinous crime. What is even worse is the implications. The youkai treat humans as inconveniences at best, prey at worst. They have no qualms in attacking outsiders and somehow even less in their treatment of 'cattle', is this the product of a just place? Is this what it means to be a paradise?"
Ochiba does not respond. The stranger continues to speak.
"The humans who live here turn a blind eye to all of this. They have become corrupted by this place's twisted laws and morals. Even the outsiders who move in succumb, turning their backs on their fellow humans. The so-called enlightened ones, the hermits, the celestials--they do nothing!"
"What's worse, the Violet Tyrant is spreading this to the rest of the world. Day after day she conquers and brutalizes lands, with tacit permission from the governments of the world. Day after day her minions degrade and mock the dignity of humanity. The Clear Sky banner is held aloft by a base of death, and powered by the magic in these lands. If we do not stand against her, who will?"
"I can change this!" Ochiba responds, his hands extended in a pleadful position, "I can convince them to stop this madness, and find some other way!"
"That's what we're trying to do!" The other man responds forcefully, "We have cut off the Tyrant from her powerbase, and we have a plan--a plan that will free Gensokyo from her clutches permanently. We can save hundreds of thousands of lives here, and billions in the future. Upon my honor as Rigel of the Seven, I pledge my trustworthiness in this!"
"But that is not what I have seen! Your people have bombed and made war upon this land! Why should I trust you on this?"
Rigel doesn't respond immediately, then replies, in a much more quiet tone, "The ruins, in the far west of Gensokyo. Come find me there later, and I will show you."
With that statement, Rigel turns to the cliffside. Under his cloak, a pair of glowing, translucent golden wings emerge and spread wide, and he makes a movement as if to leap off.
If there is a time to intervene, it's now or never.
[ ] Confront [ ] Remain hidden then confront Ochiba [ ] Just leave
>>30903 Bad idea. Given the state Ochiba is in now, it's likely he'll attack us should we try to shoot Rivel.
I can't see  Confronting going well either. Ming is a confirmed sociopath, and his intervention could actually make things worse, especially if that Rivel guy turns our own arguments against us. He seems pretty persuasive.
[X] Remain hidden, then confront Ochiba.
I feel this is the least risky course of action, and the one most likely to not make an enemy out of Ochiba. Hopefully, with Nitori's help, we can convince him. If not... Well, it'll be easier to flee or take him down if he's alone.
[x] Remain hidden, then Confront Ochiba -[x] "A hero can't save everyone, they can only save whom they side with" --[x]"The people killed here are mass murderers and rapists. The youkai killed here are families that were forced to defend themselves again an unprovoked attack." --[x] For me, the choice is simple.
Maybe quoting a stupid wannabe hero we can convince a stupid, actual, hero.
Also, from a purely ethical point, there isn't much contest. While he, and some people, think the whole cattle issue is wrong, that is nothing compared to a mass incursion made by murderers armed with nuclear weapons.
>>30906 This is a bad idea and I would vote against it if I could. Last time we tried to explain something in detail nothing got done because we were being too edgy.
I have a feeling that the only write-in that would work here is pure "Without those traditions youkai wouldn't exist, literal war criminals scheduled for execution are eaten instead of random fags, you're being played you stupid" pragmatism, but since our delivery is lacking it might be best to pick a single option.
You watch with silence as Rigel flares out his angelic appendages and take off into the sky. How did he get those wings? Is he an empowered outsider even stronger than Ochiba?
You hear Nitori let out a trembling squeak at the sight.
Only when Rigel has disappeared into the night, with Ochiba still staring at his departure, do you finally get the nerve to decide to confront him.
Then you realize you have no real good things to say to him.
"Nitori, we've got to keep Mr. Hakurei from turning to the enemy. What should we do?" You whisper frantically.
"What are you asking me for then? You know how outsiders think of me and how I think of outsiders." Nitori replies, shuddering, "Brutes, the lot of them. Ochiba is no different."
A loud, firm tone interrupts your conversation. "I can hear you there, come out."
With Ochiba facing towards your hiding spot and one of the divine katanas drawn and pointed towards you, there's nothing much you could do other than sheepishly come out with Nitori in tow. Ochiba's eyes widen with surprise at her presence.
"I've expected you, Mr. Wu. But Miss Kawashiro? What are you doing here?"
"That's none of your business!" Nitori indignantly yells back, "Who was that? Was he an enemy?"
Ochiba shakes his head, "Not...exactly. He claims he is the leader of the Saviors, but did not show any aggression. I am amazed. Rigel...felt nothing like a terrorist or an aggressor. If he's telling the truth then I don't know what to believe anymore."
"You..." Nitori begins to speak, but you cut her off. As inexperienced as you are, knowing Nitori's personality she may just make things worse.
With all of your self-control asserting in an effort to not simply scream at him for listening to the enemy, you state, "I'm interested. What exactly did he tell you?"
"Rigel says that he is from a lost future, a future where humanity is decimated, with billions dead from a massive war that consumed the entire worlds and made grey ruins of many a city. Billions dead." Ochiba repeats it with emphasis. "He was led back in time by a person he only knows as Polaris, along with one other of his surviving companions. According to him they were on the losing side of the war, and on the winning side is the Violet Tyrant: Yakumo Yukari."
"The Gatekeeper of Gensokyo is his nemesis, eh?" You can't help but let some condescension into your voice. This is once again a plot you have read over a thousand times in the form of poorly written doujins and fanfiction. "So according to him, he lost a war and is coming back in time to nip his opponent in the bud. How does this make him right in any way?"
"I don't know. That's what's confusing me. He said the Seven were a group of friends who wanted to change the world for the better, but was brutally suppressed by the Violet Tyrant. They led a massive resistance movement against her, but in the end they lost. Polaris then showed up, seemingly out of the blue, and led the survivors back here. I don't know; if something so miraculous happened to them...it must be a sign of some sort, right?"
You don't quite know how to respond to that, prompting Nitori to speak up, "So you are trusting him based off of nothing more than what he said?"
"He promised something else too...that he will stop the war in the future without destroying Gensokyo or doing any more harm. He promised to rein in the more uncontrolled operatives they have and focus on the plan they are doing instead. He also told me to meet him in the western ruins of Gensokyo, wherever that is. I don't know about his motives, but perhaps it would lead to an outcome better than...this." He motions towards the pit of bones.
"The western ruins can be seen from here during the day, but they are inaccessible." Nitori replies, "No human, youkai, god has been able to step foot in that region for as long as I remember, how could he possibly be there? It sounds like a trap."
"Hold on," You interject, "Inaccessible? Can't you guys fly?"
"The ruins over by that side are affected by some sort of spatial anomaly: Nobody can even get close to it before finding themselves flying over the same area over and over again. If these brutes were to ambush you, Mr. Hakurei, it would be done there."
"You have a point, Miss Kawashiro." Ochiba admits, "I will think about it. Meanwhile, can you two do me a favor? Do not tell anybody else about it, I fear that they would not be as understanding about this."
You see Nitori begin a motion to object, and you immediately grab her by the head to silence her, "Of course, Mr. Hakurei."
"Thanks, I knew you'd understand." He sheathes the sword and looks at his watch, "It's late. I am going to turn in. Good night."
Without a sound save for his coat blowing in the wind, he leaps up the ledge and vanishes into the darkness.
Nitori shakes your hand off, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? LETTING HIM GO LIKE THAT?" She yells.
You grab her by the shoulders in response. "What am I supposed to do? Be like you and tell him 'no', and then have his twin divine blades separate our heads from our bodies?"
"Fine but we need to tell Tenma that..."
"Nitori. It's our word against his if he denies the meeting, which he will. Namely, an unhinged medic and a misanthropic engineer's words against a honorable, kind hero's. Sure, they may not trust empowered outsiders that much, but I doubt they'd trust us more."
"Damn you." Nitori grumbles, but accepts it. "Even if Ochiba's an empowered outsider, even if he is naive, from what I've heard from the white wolves they regard him as the best weapon we've got right now against the Saviors."
"We'll just have to wait until he does something undeniable. Until then, we should probably just keep our eyes peeled if Rigel shows up again."
"And if he does you should bring Awygran and I'll bring Nessie," You take a moment to process that until you remember that she did indeed build a replica Loch Ness monster for ULiL, "And we'll blow him to bits!" Nitori says with glee.
"We will. I promise." You extend a hand towards Nitori. The engineer takes some seconds to react, but she eventually smiles and responds with a firm shake to the promise of future destruction.
It doesn't matter if Rigel's side is right or wrong. He's not on the side of the two of you, that's for sure.
"I'm heading back home, if you need anything just drop by the lab, okay?" Was what Nitori said as she parted ways with you as you two headed back towards the village.
You're not going to. You are way too tired after all the bullshit you went through today.
"I'm home." You groan out as you limp through the doorway of the Inubashiri household. Your household now, you remind yourself.
"Where have you been, Ming?" Momiji asks as she looks up from a sheaf of papers, "You left during the middle of the feast and missed the performances."
"Ochiba left and I had to make sure he wasn't up to something stupid. I'm glad he wasn't." You lie as you take off your boots. Momiji is comfortably positioned on a couch, going through a pile what looks to be reports. Her sword is casually propped against the wall. Deeper inside the house the sound of fighting rings out periodically, but you judge from wooden clacks that it is just sparring.
"I take it that you do not trust him much, do you?" The white wolf asks as she flips the papers by a page, "That's a rather paranoid thing to do."
"I suppose it is. Say, whatcha doing?" You peek over at her papers.
"Reading the after battle reports." She sighs, "Not very interesting unless you wish to read about how utterly outmatched we are in gear."
"You know, I can't really believe that you didn't get any breaks for...you know the mortal wounds you took."
"Duty waits for nothing. Especially in these times I must be Guard-Captain no matter what my condition is."
"Isn't reading reports crow tengu work though?" You assume.
"Not really. As you know, Father is a chief administrator and he's a white wolf through and through. Also, even if it is crow tengu work I'll still have to listen to their summaries, and I'd much prefer not to."
"By the way, is that sparring I hear coming from in there?"
"The dojo? Yeah, Mother always spars us before bed, and I think Miss Hong in also there right now."
About time they got back up from the hot springs.
==================== [ ] Just take a bath and go to sleep. [ ] Go watch the late-night combat training, then take a bath and go to sleep. [ ] Report to Eientei about everything today, they can keep a secret, then take a bath and go to sleep. - [ ] Maybe leave Ochiba's request out. God knows he'll find out. Damn self-insert fantasies. [ ] Dick around the house for a while, then take a bath and go to sleep.
[X] Go watch the late-night combat training [X] Report to Eientei about everything today, they can keep a secret, then take a bath and go to sleep. -[X] Ask Eientei for advice where nobody would overhear.
[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. An engineer ally will be helpful
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?”
Sup guys. Sorry for being dead. (2/2)Rifle!AK47hf008c2017/03/08 (Wed) 08:34No. 30991▼
“You guys are youkai! I thought murdering innocents was par for the course for you guys!”
“WE ARE TENGU! NOT COMMON YOUKAI!” You feel her spittle on your face, “We have codes of honor to live by, and murdering innocents is not one of them! We don’t fight or eat anybody who isn’t a blackened sinner or taking up arms against us!”
“But they are blackened sinners. Are they not?”
“They are warriors just like you and me, Ming. So far I have seen no indication that they have stepped outside the boundaries for honorable combat.”
“But they are sinners, Momiji. They are filthy, wicked sinners that are seeking to eliminate any possibility of this world being a better place for us outsiders who don’t have the luxury of living in paradise. They claim and swear that they are fighting for justice, for the right thing, and yet they may as well be condemning the future of humanity to poverty and death. Against these sickos there’s NOTHING too extreme. And that is because, well, I’ve been thinking.”
Momiji clasps her hands, “Go on.”
“Have you noticed, Momiji? The Outside World is kind of a shitty place. Nobody outside who wants to make the world a better place has power, and everybody who has power is determined to make the world a much worse place. As far as I can tell, youkai rule under Clear Sky is the only way this damn planet can actually improve. And these guys think just because ’it’s immoral to do so’ and ’it’s going to kill a billion people in the future’, that they are allowed to strangle the single hope this world has left.”
“Kill a billion people in the future? Where did you hear that from?”
You bite your lip, “I…heard that when they assaulted me at the Scarlet Devil Mansion and called me a murderer. Either way I’m pretty sure they are lying, and even if its true its irrelevant in the grand scheme of things if it means the entire world will be a Gensokyo.”
“Is it worth it? Even though it is called paradise, it’s not…”
“Momiji, I don’t think you’ve noticed, but I haven’t seen a tengu sleeping in a box or begging for money.”
“Why would they? There’s always room on the mountain to build a hut, and plenty of caves to dwell in, and no tengu would bend their pride to beg for money.”
“Because Gensokyo’s ecology isn’t completely fucked and because of how fertile the land is here there is never a shortage of free food in the wilderness. Fuck, I saw more deer here than I did in all of my time in Japan and America combined! And the village is harvesting corn that they grew in March. Hell, between all the tragic but hilarious outsider deaths, when has anybody here actually starved?”
“When was the last time the village had a famine? Oh wait, there are harvest goddesses camping right outside in its crop fields! Can you think of one time an actually bad thing happened and people died, even with regards to the empowered outsiders that get in every once in a while?”
“One of those just did happen!”
“And it happened because of these imbeciles. Claiming that what Yukari is doing in the Outside World is bad and wants to stop her. Well FUCK THEM. If Gensokyo is the end result of Yukari running things I sure as hell would like her running the world. What’s their concern anyway? Some humans that don’t like the new system getting feral youkai unleashed on them? Well they deserve it. I’d rather live in a world like this, a paradise, without any of those annoying assholes in the way.”
“Ming…you do know that many humans in the Village are dissatisfied at having youkai dominance over this country, right?”
“And that’s fine! People should always be dissatisfied at their current position! At least they have the option of challenging youkai dominance here! Back home you try to challenge the actual players in power and your own neighbors will call you a murderer or a traitor! The only people I could see in Gensokyo who were born into their position are Akyuu and Reimu, and neither of them are really well off for it! I can’t—-”
You are cut off as knocking rings out from the front door, across the parlor.
“Who comes? This is the Inubashiri household, any matters of inquiry should be relayed to…” Momiji asks as she slides opens the door from the courtyard to the parlor. You can see the shadow of a figure standing in the doorway.
“It’s Higan, open up…aw, nevermind.” You are disoriented for a brief moment as you see the dimensions of the parlor contract for a brief moment, and as they slacken a fourth person appears in the room.
A familiar, scythe wielding figure.
“Miss Onozuka, I presume?” Momiji sheathes her blade even as her voice turns hard, “What brings you to our house? I thought you only came up here to visit the hermit?”
“Not this time,” She says as she stifles a yawn, “I’m here for work. Have you seen any lost spirits around here today?”
“Lost spirits? You mean the dead?” Momiji looks confused, “We didn’t suffer any deaths in the battle today, miraculously”
“That’s what everybody else I asked told me, but even if that is true, that does not change the fact that there’s been an error on the Ledger of Life and Death today. A tengu from around here is supposed to have shown up at the shores of the Sanzu, but that did not happen today, so he or she is probably still wandering around here.”
“Can’t you just…check with their family?” You ask as you vaguely recall how the Ledger worked in Buddhist/Taoist mythology, “You have the name right?”
“Ming? Oh, sorry, I didn’t notice you there,” Komachi laughs as she greets you, “Forgive me, it’s been a long night and I’m tired. No, it’s a bit more complicated than that. I cannot consult the name on the ledger because something’s happened to it. It’s all smudged out. Here, I’ve got a photo of it.”
“You have cameras in Higan?” You ask as you take the photograph Komachi hands over.
“Bought some from here, in fact. The clerk shinigami says it simplifies aspects of their documentation. The kishin could use it too…you know, if he would come back…”
She taps her scythe against the floor and stares at you closely. You instinctively nudge back. Was she implying that you were the one she’s looking for?
“…We actually located him shortly before the border closed. Well, his current incarnation anyway. We even borrowed a satellite phone to contact him, and the only response on his messaging machine was, and I quote in his language: ’Feck off, ye cunt’”
“Well my phone’s right here and that’s definitely not my voice mail message. You got the name?”
“Nope, just the number, somehow. Aaaaanyways, you guys sure you haven’t seen any ghosty looking fellows around?”
“Just mine.” You mutter Call, and the three evil spirits in your command quietly gather themselves behind you as obedient familiars.
Momiji is taken aback at their appearance, and reacts appropriately by letting out a cry and leveling her weapon at them. Komachi merely widens her eyes as she begins prepping a spell in her offhand.
“Whoa, calm down, they’re friendly.” You wave your hand around, ordering the wisps to dance about in a circle around your head. “They’re loyal souls who seem to like me when I use this weird spell that’s burned into my skin, and honestly they’re pretty worthless on their own.”
“Really?” The shinigami looks over at the spirits, cancels her cast, and extends an open palm towards one of the evil spirits. “Hmph, another one who can talk and comfort these wicked things? That is strange as you don’t seem to be the necromantic type. Spirit!” She turns her gaze towards the vengeful spirits over your head “Tell me why!”
Furrowing her brow, Komachi removes a seal from her sleeve and raises it towards the spirits, “By the authority of the Yama, I command you to answer!”
A sharp pain crosses your head, and you yelp and clutch your pained cranium.
“Whatever spell you are using seems to be blocking their communication. Ming, can you ask it?”
“Fine, Komachi, just don’t do that again. Yo, guys, why are you following me?”
“VENGEANCE.” Three hollow voices reply in unison.
“That’s not a real answer guys, give a real one or the red-haired lady will hurt me again.”
“WE FOLLOW. WE ENJOY…VENGEANCE. YOU GIVE US…VENGEANCE. YOU CHANGE US…MAKE US PURE…SAVE US FROM HELL.”
This time it’s your turn to be taken aback, “Make us pure? What? I don’t see how I’m doing that, and you guys weren’t talking like this before. It’s kind of creepy.”
Komachi snaps her fingers and gives a knowing smirk, “Ming, ask them what their names are. Vengeful spirits never let go of their names.”
Silence. “WE DON’T REMEMBER.”
“Gotcha! Your control spell over them is wiping their identity clean just like the waters of oblivion given to reincarnating souls. Normally sinful souls like these can only do so once they’ve been purged of their sins in Hell, but you are doing it without the suffering. Of course they’ll be happy to serve you.”
“Haha, I was wondering about that. Thanks Komachi. So, you guys are looking forward to cheating the system and reincarnating early, amirite?”
“WE DON’T WANT TO LEAVE. WE ARE NO LONGER…SINGLE…ISOLATED. WE ARE YOU.”
You give the spirits a good hard look and lay down a knife hand. “What the hell do you mean by that?”
Without warning, Komachi raises her scythe and takes a swing at one of the spirits that sends you yelling and ducking. Another burst of pain courses through your head, one stronger than the last, and a feeling of something tugging on your insides. Your vision blurs for a moment, and a sudden sense of vertigo kicks in, making you clutch your head.
“Okay, this is bad.” Komachi comments with less vigor than before, her face paler than usual as she looks at the intact spirits.
“Clarify? It appears Ming was hurt by your attempt at reaping his shikigami, is that not natural?” Momiji asks with a hint of worry.
“I wasn’t trying to reap it. I was just trying to pull it by cutting some distance. Instead, as you probably saw, it also pulled Ming’s soul out a little bit. That is definitely not supposed to happen and only works if these weren’t separate spirits at all, but a projection of Ming’s own, which is not the case as we…oh, oh no.”
“Ugh, eh?” You dizzily say as you shake off the experience.
“You didn’t just wipe their identity, you’re wiping them until they are no longer distinct souls. Any trace of the person they may once have been is gone for good, and the souls are defined entirely in regards to you. They are really just aspects of you now.”
You take a moment to comprehend the words, look at Momiji’s horrified expression, and something in your mind seems to unlock with a click. An image forming in your mind, you command the spirits into a particular form with nothing but a thought. At the speed of neurons they dutifully merge into a faint humanoid form alongside you, striking the same pose as you. Another thought, and they dissipate, only to reassemble as a semi-solid writhing swarm of tendrils in your hand.
You lash out with the tendrils, grasping a chair, and…nudge it slightly before they snap in half and dissipate, regrouping back into hovering spirits.
“So, uh, bit more useful, but they still suck.”
“Oh Ming, if Kaenbyou Rin finds out what you are doing she is going to murder you.” Komachi shakes her head, “These evil spirits were still sapient beings once, and while death strikes once in a lifetime, such erasure of self will turn them into blank slates for quite a few generations afterwards. You are disturbing future lives for past sins in this regard, which is beyond Hell’s guidelines. Besides, aren’t you concerned?”
[ ] Not really, why? These are wicked souls after all, who cares if I turn them into obedient, crappy shikigami? [ ] I mean, I guess, it does kind of suck to have their selves erased, but it’s penance and it keeps them from doing more evil WHEN I release them. [ ] I guess you’re right. Killing is one thing but erasing them after death is another. I should probably hold off on getting more of these guys until I figure out how to stop this erasure process.
================ Prob update the side story soon too lol.
It lives ! [X] I guess you’re right. Killing is one thing but erasing them after death is another. I should probably hold off on getting more of these guys until I figure out how to stop this erasure process.
Yeah don't do that. That company went to shit after the tsunami hit the factories in Malaysia and one other country they had factories in a few years ago. After the move to China cause of that, the reliability has been utter shit, hence why they're usually the cheapest of the HDDs.
<%Diabolos>lol <%Diabolos>told you this would happen <%Purple>at least I'm relevant <%Purple>and not surviving off of an emo clothing store in Athens because nobody worships me except for edgy teenagers <%Diabolos>at least my store won't burn down because it attracted modern inquisition <%Purple>like they can <%Purple>after I drop a salvo of corrosion bombs on their position Gensokyo will wipe the rest out easily <%Purple>between the usual apocalypse inducers like the hell raven, Reimu, and our Iron Wing we should be fine <%Diabolos>didn't the shenanigan they do with the border cut off Iron Wing's control? <%Purple>it's fine, it bonded to some outsider that it liked for some reason <%Diabolos>European dragons don't just "bond" with humans, not even hybrids <%Diabolos>an empowered? <%Purple>nah, he can't even use magic lol <%Purple>weirdest thing about him is that we dug up a coroner's report on him <%Purple>something about dying from burns sustained in a fire at World University-Los Angeles but revived on the slab <%Purple>prob in one of the old buildings back before it got globalized <%Diabolos>but he's alive <%Purple>yep <%Purple>a pretty decent medic too from what I've heard <%Diabolos>a medic? <%Purple>yeah, last bit of info we got was that he obtained some prefab spells that allowed him to fulfill that role better <%Purple>something about iron cards <%Diabolos>SHIT <%Diabolos>SHIT <%Diabolos>SHIT ===================
[x] I guess you’re right. Killing is one thing but erasing them after death is another. I should probably hold off on getting more of these guys until I figure out how to stop this erasure process.
"Well that settles it." Komachi remarks with a satisfied sigh. "Still, this only raises more questions about what's going on. First these fanatical crusaders dressed like old-fashioned western men-at-arms arrive, but skirmish with seemingly no casualties..."
"Not for lack of trying," The Guard-Captain spits, "Most of them thankfully did not have anything beyond advanced conventional weaponry, but those that were equipped with blessed anti-youkai munitions tore up our ranks, and it's only due to us wolf tengu's faint divine heritage and the fact that they didn't waste ammunition on the downed that we pulled through with only maimed soldiers at worst. Even then, it took Ming's strange healing spell to save me from dying to the divine wounds their leader inflicted."
Komachi blinks, twice, "Did you say 'divine' wounds? Inflicted by a divine weapon?"
"Yeah why, people make a big deal out of it here but it wasn't that much harder to heal." You say, "I'm pretty sure most of the difficulty were from the damaged heart tissue, but Hew covers that damage anyway."
"You don't 'heal' divine wounds on a monster."
"Well good thing Momiji isn't a monster, then is it?"
The white wolf scoffs, "Tsk, tsk, Yes I am. Youkai are monsters by definition."
"How. I don't get it. Eating humans is weird I guess but...right I guess that does fill the criteria. Well shit, I guess you really should be dead then Momiji, so are you like a zombie now or something?"
"Shouldn't you know?"
"Like I said, I don't know jack about my own powers. It just works, you know? It's not like I have access to the precise readings or source code of the spells beneath me. Trust me, I've had everyone from Myouren to Senkai to the SDM take a look at the cards that seem to merge into my body over time, and they cannot discern anything unusual about it other than the use of iron as a spell medium and the awkward, crude inscriptions."
"Has anybody from Hell looked at it? Could be something infernal."
"Aren't you from Hell?"
"Yeah, that was what I was implying."
"Go ahead then." You answer as you take off your shirt, revealing the intricate mass of burn scars across your arms and torso. "They've all engraved themselves into my skin at this point, but I'm fairly sure that it's not bad for my health."
"Oooh, that looks pretty nasty. Looks like somebody drew four spells and threw them together."
You pause and look closer at your scars. "Four?"
"Yeah. You see? There are four trigger-phrases etched in. I see a 'Hew', 'Stop', 'Call' and 'Mist'." Komachi remarks as she crouches in front of you, studying the scars, "Funny, from the looks of the lines they are supposed to join up at the center, at your breastbone, but there's nothing there."
"Mist is new and I have not seen it anywhere before." You cannot help but allow fear to creep into your voice, "Somebody's been slipping me cards when I'm not noticing, and eventualy they turn into these without me noticing or feeling anything."
"These look like they hurt though." She says as she lightly prods your chest. "Like branded by a red-hot iron...its glowing."
"They only glow when I cast, so...it's glowing where you touched it." You recoil away from Komachi as you stare at the scars in horror. "It's the section called 'Mist' too! What did you..."
You rub your eyes as you wake up from your nap on the school desk.
It's midday. The sun is shining bright through the open windows onto the faces of bored students. You sneak a glance at the girl, Melissa, who usually sits on the desk two spaces to the left and three spaces in front. You remember this. You remember where she goes for lunch. You remember her dorm number. You remember which drawer she keeps her panties in.
They smelled beautiful.
Five up. One right. Sarah. She works late so her apartment is empty until midnight. Third drawer up.
Four left. Two down. Kimberly. You have dirt on her slut ways and her religious parents' contact info so there's no need to remember anything to get her to pay up her dues.
You think you're quite nice, really. A real man in the old days would have just went straight in and took what he wanted. Now just even a bit of what these bitches owe you, just a piece of sexuality in photograph form or a reminder of their assets, takes so much effort. It's just so sad how things have degenerated.
You fidget with your phone as one of your friends, currently vacationing in Japan, messages you. Your eyes light up. He says he and his buddies have found an isolated village while driving around Nagato, and one of them insisted that it was a place in some video game or whatever. But that's not the important part. He says that the girls there are pretty things, and since it has been isolated since the 1800s they'd be easy lays.
Leaning back and smiling, a picture of nubile exotic Japanese maidens offering themselves to you forming in your mind, you immediately begin ordering the plane ticket. Pressing confirm on every page, you reach the ordering form and begin typing your name...
What was it? Ah, yes, Anderson...Schmidt. Right. Why does your name seem so fuzzy all of a sudden?
You look up. Everything is fuzzy. The teacher, the students, the classroom, all seem off. You look at the...slut...Kimberly? Why was she a slut again? Who's Kimberly?
Everything is not just fuzzy, but falling apart, fragmenting into little pieces. Why were you here? That's not the last thing you remembered. That was having your throat slashed open and blacking out.
The classroom splits in two, the empty chairs and desks falling into the void below. You see gears grinding them up into powder, as well as the students, the teacher, the sunlight, your parents, your friends...
Well, your friends aren't being ground up. They, as well as you it seems as you fall into the machinery, are too hard. What little is left of you inside dimly hopes that it will remain this way.
You pass through the big gears and the small gears come and chew up more than what you remember but everything else too every thought everything important every human thing everything worth living for every name
You are on a heap of flakes.
You are happy. You are new.
They made you new. Innocent. Pure. Empty. Vengeful like them.
More flakes of being fall from the sky like snow. Old flakes. You watch with the other two but do not catch. They are dead, shriveled things.
You wonder when you'll be needed again.
The gate opens. But it's not your turn. Instead a wind roars, and the flakes are sent out in a furious snowstorm.
Maybe somebody outside wants them now.
"At least we learned that it probably originated from something to do with us shinigami or Hell, right Ming?"
The three of you sit silently in the bathtub, trying desperately to avoid eye contact while attempting to scrub the thoughts away.
"And that the 'Mist' spell shouldn't be used against anybody you don't want to make an enemy for life, it's pretty nasty."
"Pretty nasty. PRETTY nasty." Momiji screams as she maddeningly scrubs down her body with three hard brushes, one in each and and a special one on her tail. "Did you get one with the child rape? I had to watch myself rape a crying little girl until blood came out!"
"It wasn't that bad..." You mutter as you try to forget the images of underwear sniffing and other...less than savory acts...that you saw from a first person perspective when the white mist blew back onto you. "It's just somebody else's memories, I'm sure."
"One of the longer scenes I saw was bleeding out from the throat and crying on the ground while some guy with a gas mask walked over me next to some crying children, and that guy with the gas mask was me, Wu Ming. So these were probably the memories of the sick fuck I killed in the Village three days ago. I guess it takes up the memories of people I've killed and weaponizes it in a way."
"It's not just the memories on replay Ming. The worst part is that you get the feelings too. I felt GOOD during that...ugh." Momiji steps out of the bath and runs over to the water closet, where you hear her violently retch. It's the third time by now.
"Honestly, Ming. Given how relatively conventional the other spells are this one is a real morbid piece of work." Komachi says as she pretends to not have been affected, if it not were for the fact that she's dropped the soap bar several times now from her shaking hands and that she still has not taken off her hair-beads even though her red hair is soaked. "It doesn't just spit out ground memories, but their personality traits too. I guess it's a good thing that they don't last, and are more of a bad dream than an influence."
"It's not that bad if it's just bad dreams."
"Do you get bad dreams about child rape?"
"Point. So this scales based off of how bad the memories are, I think. They are all jumbled together and disjointed so actual really bad memories may not have context to go off of. Of course child rape is self-explanatory but that's an exception."
"Really it's nasty no matter how you use it. Even good memories can seem disturbing out of context with that."
"Compared to you who can pull and push reality to your hearts content, or you know...the nuclear hell raven sleeping below us."
"It's not that it's strong. It's just a very nasty spell. Mental prions, that's what it is, little bits of information and personality that serve no purpose but to violate one's sense of self.
Momiji comes back into the tub and tosses the rest of the soap powder in from the can and turns on the hot water faucet, covering all of you in a nice and cozy blanket of bubbles to insulate your thoughts from each other.
"You guys have all had magical accidents before, right? It can't be the first this has happened in 1000 or so years."
"It has," Momiji groans, "We may have changed a lot through the centuries, but tengu and tiangou were always proud, insular creatures. The basest thing we'd do was seducing monks and tricking people into eating dung, and that was a long time ago. Our enemies who can utilize magic were generally monks and priests of good moral standing, so something like your spell was never seen before. Sure, I've been through burns, scalds, cuts and broken bones aplenty from spell use, but not...this."
Komachi shakes her head, "I've only had the passengers on my boat tell me about such things. Never have I experienced it like it was myself."
"Because, Komachi, you activated it on contact, so I thought you would know something similar..."
"Nope, nothing. Just because it was made in Hell doesn't mean it's our Hell. The underworld is vast, and remains so as the fear and reverence of death remains in all cultures in the world. I have nothing in common with a demon in America or Africa, for example, but we can share amulets and such without issue, for it is the stench of death, so to speak, that marks something as infernal."
It is at this moment that the door to the bathhouse swings open, and two eagerly chatting Asian ladies like you are familiar with in your neighborhood walk in.
"Hey---Whoa!" Meiling spreads her mouth in a wide grin as she turns towards the bathing pool, "Ming! How could you do this!"
You stare at her blankly with tired eyes, "Do what?"
Yanagi giggles, "Scandalous! Scandalous! Bathing nude with two young women and not feeling shame?"
"What." You trace your gaze around the room until the situation finally crawls into your brain's processing center, "Oh, right, we're naked. I guess in doujins and shit this leads to sex or whatever. I dunno, any of you feel like it?"
Momiji's face turns a shade of green, and Komachi looks away.
"Yeah, didn't think so. So no, grandma, milord, no violation of public morals here, no siree."
"Well technically you violated a lot of public morals indirectly," Momiji mutters out of the side of her mouth in an attempted facetious tone.
The laughter from the parents stop. "Indirectly?"
"One of my spells apparently infects people's minds with terrible memories and feelings apparently distilled from the terrible people I've killed, which includes myself if I breath in the spell's medium, so now we're all trying to wash it off our minds...somehow."
Concerned looks, as expected. You notice Meiling reacting just a bit slower than Yanagi.
"Oh dear, and I thought having Keyaki catching Miss Houjuu stealing from our alcohol cabinet was the worst thing today," Yanagi hurries over to check on the three of you, "Is it because you stressed yourself too hard today, Guoguo?"
"Goddamn it Meiling why did you tell her."
"Shouldn't your family know your nickname, Guoguo?" Meiling asks as she checks the bathhouse's medicine cabinet while Yanagi does the hand to forehead thing. You hear Komachi qietly grumble "I'm a millenial" at Yanagi, who responds with "I've seen three thousand, dear."
"MOMIJI. YOU'D BETTER NOT DO THIS TOO."
"What do you mean, Guoguo?" Komachi teases.
"I hate all of you." You reply with your favorite phrase as you exit the tub and reach for the towels.
"We'll talk about it in the morning if you want to. I'm way too fucking tired for this shit. It's 12:30 AM, and I'm beginning to hallucinate. Night guys."
Zoning out any further words. You finish drying off and don a bathrobe. Walking over to the room you woke up this afternoon in, you dive into the futon, and pass out.
No more bullshit for this day.
DAY 4 END
*TL Note: "Guoguo" here is a childish doubling of the word for fruit
So how was bathing with girls for you anyway? [ ] It’s overrated, cliched and I never liked sharing the a bathtub or pool [ ] It’s okay, I can see why people enjoy this type of thing socially [ ] Oddly relaxing and evoking confused feelings. I guess most fans would kill themselves several times to be in my position. [ ] FUCKING TIGERS ================ The house has burned to ash, and you are standing in an void. Not an empty void.
"So she's gone, and that was a thing, what are we going to do now?"
"Find out what's going on and accomplish my objectives here. What else?"
"Secure Gensokyo. Salvage what's left of this summer vacation. Duh. I was here for cute youkai girls, drinking, and spell-learning under a lazy sun and a relatively peaceful environs. Sure being elevated to tengu nobility is nice but I would like be able to enjoy that."
The gears grind against each other in the void, "Find out why I exist."
"Not what I am?"
"Isn't it obvious now?" The gears grind back. "I am me. I am a thing that was created to DO bad things to good people. I may have been put together at some point, but is any of this important compared to what I can do now to PREVENT bad things from happening to good people?"
"But I am also doing bad things to good people."
"If those good people would stop shooting at my good people then maybe I don't have to do bad things to them. They are bad people to me."
"I'm not disagreeing with me. I enjoy doing bad things to people in general. I'm just making sure that I'm on the same page."
"Well I am the same person as me, aren't I."
"Yes I am."
The two-headed serpent, watching silently at the conversation, chuckles in relief.
[X] It’s okay, I can see why people enjoy this type of thing socially
Holy shit it updated.
Diablos is almost certainly Hecatia, and I guess she has at least the slightest something to do with the iron cards based on her reaction. Hecatia is much higher (lower?) on the 'hell' rungs than Shiki and Yuyuko, but there's a chance they might know too.
Gonna have to reread this eventually, no way I can piece anything together with bicentennial updates.
[X] It’s okay, I can see why people enjoy this type of thing socially (This will matter later)
DAY 5: START
Time: 9:30 AM Location: Inubashiri Manor, Upper Tengu Village Threat Level: 2
You wake up to the sound of thunder booming in the distance, and raindrops pouring over the house in a steady, rapid beat.
"Great. A storm. Just what I needed." You grumble as you try to shove the blanket off of your body.
It won't budge.
You are then aware that the blanket is heavier than usual, as if something is pressing down upon it with the weight of another person. Peaking over the blanket, you see nothing in the dim grey light other than the air. Little drops of water spot your head, and you realize that the large window behind you is open.
"Koishi?" You say the name of the one character you know could do something like invisibility.
You reach out carefully, a half-formed "Hew" on your lips just in case. There is something there, in fact, something warm and hard.
You trace your hand alongside it.
Your hand retracts as a layer of light recedes from the surface, and your gaze falls straight into a hungry, reptilian pupil.
"Friend..." Comes a low gutteral growl. Not mechanical, way, way too bestial for that.
The light dissipates completely, and you see that on top of you and around you lay a massive reptilian beast straight from the storybooks.
It's at least as large as a horse, not even counting in its wings which it has folded around your position. Streams of flame...no...not flame. Little bits of white-hot plasma are streaming out of its nostrils as it stares at you intently, its mouth slightly parted to reveal rows of sharp teeth and a forked tongue.
Below that lies interlapping rows of shiny steel scales, overlapping with no weaknesses to be seen. Powerful muscles of non-organic fibers bulge under them, containing strength that could crush castles and bunkers alike. Claws of a metal you can't quite discern adorn each of its paws, and a row of spikes with similar compensation runs down its back down to its rhythmically swaying tail.
"A-Awyrgan, it's you right?" You nervously ask as you try to back away, to no avail as you are pinned down quite well. "You shouldn't have hatched this early. W-What happened?"
"Energy surge." Is the matter-of-fact reply. "There was an unknown energy surge that charged the progress past 100, hatching commenced. In the process I have consumed the entirety of my incubator due to the aberration, though I do retain a copy of the schematics."
You breath out deeply at the sign that it retains its original mind. "That's awesome! Say, could you get off of me? You're a little...heavy."
"I am too heavy? Very well." The dragon vanishes in a plume of plasma. You shield your eyes initially, but lower your hands when your feel no heat nor excessive light, thankfully. The gas clears just as quickly as you feel the air around you curve at the presence of magically stored mass, the same effect as an ethereal sheath spell.
You then narrow your eyes and slap a hand across your forehead. The new form of the dragon is altogether not surprising at all. But still.
"What the fuck did I expect. Of course. Gensokyo. Fucking Gensokyo. I mean yeah, the first iteration of the species ought to be able to reproduce with minimal assistance and as such will be female by logic, but come on DOES FUCKING EVERYTHING TURN INTO A GIRL IN A FRILLY DRESS."
"Frilly?" Awyrgan looks confused as she checks her clothing, and you note that it's still mostly the same monstrous voice, but tempered with a more human edge, "Tis my scales, hardened steel and gemstone. They are angled at the most efficient position to neutralize incoming fire."
You get a good look at the girl before you. Caucasian, pale and dark grey all over. Her apparent age is quite vague, really, looking quite young...in her early teens maybe?...but only being a few inches shorter than you are. Her face is human only by definition, not helped at all by her very much inhuman eyes and curved ears supporting a rather menacing, if somewhat adorably eager, expression. And the horn. And the tail. And the wings. And the scaly skin texture. And the strange metallic outfit of what looks like a royal dress and tights.
Way too much dragon to be considered humanlike, or even youkai-like.
"That still looks like a frilly dress, you know. I can put a maid headdress on you and make Anime of the Year 2017 from that. I--" You cut yourself off as you see burning reptilian eyes staring back at you from beneath steel-colored bangs, and you remind yourself that this is the same terrifying beast that was on top of you a few moments ago.
"What is an 'anime'?" She...it? She. She asks with widened eyes as she examines your body closely the way you did her, "I have sensed snatches of that tone sequence from outsiders but no context. I did not have the Japanese language programmed in during incubation, and the thought processing circuits in the host vehicle were primitive."
"It's a...thing. I think I'm in one. Nevermind, I'll show you it when I get my hands on some and when our lives aren't in danger. It's probably easier to move around in the house in that form, though I think those scales will scratch up the woodwork here."
"I will dismiss them then. It's..."
You swiftly interrupt her line by tossing one of the spare robes beside your bed at her as the scales do in fact dissolve into the aether, revealing the (sort of human) skin. "Aaand put this on when you do that."
"A pitiful garment, little protection." Her voice persists, muffled beneath the large cotton robe as she pulls it down, "But it will do until I find better human clothing."
"The scales will be good for when we go into combat. But before that, let's get breakfast, I'm starving." You pull on her shoulder to go, "Awyri?"
She reaches her hands out, "Your turn to carry me. I have carried you and your load for the past two days, tis only fair."
"Do I look like your servant..." You pause as you realize that she does have a point, and that giving a dragon a piggyback ride is hilarious in concept, "I mean, gladly."
She's not that heavy in this form, thankfully. With a dragon on your back and straw sandals on your feet, you depart your bedroom.
"Guoguo, you're up! It's about time for lunch but--who's that?"
You stumble into the dining room with Awyrgan on your back. "Project Iron Wing, 100% completion. Deployed." The dragon answers for you.
Meiling sets down her teacup as her eyes narrow, "No divine traces at all, a true Western drake." Her English, unrefined but accentless, comes out in a condescending stream "Honestly, I have never seen one before. Is your kind usually this small?"
"Not usually," Awyri says as she leapfrogs over your head in a plume of heatless flame, landing as a full sized monster on her claws and talons(and to your horror, scratching the tatami), "Are you satisfied, friend of friend?"
Two sets of reptilian eyes look into each other, then three sets as you blink and immediately look away, your brain recoiling from the presence of your ancestor's violent form as the filial bond inflames. "Not bad, not bad at all for a hatchling. Certainly a different legend that spawned you compared to us easterners, and I can see what sort of terrors the bards dreamed of in your features."
You see the screen door to the kitchen slide open, and Momiji's little brother walks out with a plate of meat buns. Keyaki then stops, eyes frozen at the scene, before turning back in and gently closing the door.
"Thank you." Was that a trembling note of satisfaction you heard in that voice? "I was partially worried at how my friend did not react with fear at my newly-born body, that mayhaps there was something wrong---"
"Mate you are talking about somebody who's almost gotten killed a couple times just yesterday, of course I won't be scared at anything other than Meiling and that's only because I'm unreasonably scared of my parents in general." You look back and are able to stay so as Meiling no longer has two heads. "Of course you're scary. You are a dozen metric tons of moving steel and fire that steals princesses and barbeque knights and is a metaphor for cancer, war and everything bad."
The trembling tone becomes more of a domineering overture, "Of course I am. I am a dragon. I am a dead myth given life. I am tyranny given wings!"
"Who taught you that?" You dryly observe. "That is way cliche."
"I...well tis what the data pre-recorded in my vessel told me. I did not converse with people while incubating. Well then, my friend, can you come up with a better line?"
"Can you drop the 'my friend' thing? It sounds weird when you're not physically a tank anymore. It's just Ming. Anyways it's the twenty-first century so that sort of introduction is for movie villains only, unless you want to be hamming it up like that."
"Zhen-Guo, your idea of introduction is to threaten murder on them, murder on their families, murder on their pets, and murder on the bricks in their houses." Meiling says as she leans her head against her hand.
"Well it works, and they'll assume I'm insane and not a priority target."
"Or that you're really immature. Awyrgan, the expectation for terrifying dragons now is a smooth erudite tone narrating the doom of their enemies, which takes practice and preparation. Those first lines are fine, but it should be at the end of a...hey are you paying attention?" The older dragon snaps at the younger foreigner, whose eyes and snout had drifted onto the former's beret.
"That star on your hat...is it gold?"
"It's gilded bronze." Meiling responds as she swats away Awyri's snout, "Eastern dragons don't carry gold or jewels around."
The door to the kitchen slides open, and Yanagi pokes her head out, her face the usual smiling expression, "Does our new dragon want any meat buns?"
"One hundred. I am quite famished."
You are just about to comment on the infeasibility of the request when Yanagi opens the door again and comes out with a massive platter, stacked with buns as tall as you are, held in one hand. "Here you go, dear! Pork and onions like you always enjoyed."
"Wait, what? 'Like you always enjoyed?'" You ask, bewildered.
The retired lord smiles in the typical manner of an affectionate parent, "Awyrgan? Is it? She's shown up to the kappa village more than a few times when unhatched, demanding metal. Though they've noticed how it always steals some pork buns while there, and prefers the ones with onions."
"Appropriated. Stealing is for lesser creatures who have to hide in their act. I take it openly."
"How is that better. You knew that trading was the correct way to obtain goods."
"...From people that I can't just take things from." She turns her neck as her maw opens wide, and devours several rows in one bite. "It's one of the things my creator taught me."
"And who is that?"
"Walther Schmied. Tis what he stated while I was incubating and only capable of thinking in wires. I know little about him, except that he spoke to me often while the vehicle was constructed and spoke oft of what he wanted me to become. More than a weapon, he said, but a living legend that will turn the world right."
"And how long ago was this?"
"The vehicle's internal clock ceased at precisely 72 years, 6 months, 15 days, 9 hours upon incubation, so I would judge that to be a good estimate of my age."
"72 years...that was World War II. Your origin was not in Germany, was it?"
"My incubation began there, yes. You do not possess a document containing my specifications?" Awyrgan continues, somewhat muffled by a maw full of meat buns.
"I...oh right, the sheet you printed out when I had Conner and Rikako fix your vehicle. I did not look too closely at it, since most of it was mechanical engineering content that I am not familiar with."
"I was not referring to the long form. I was referring to the brief set of information from Callsign Primrose. It should have been distributed among all associates post-incubation."
"Is Callsign Primrose, Clear Sky Command? Because in case you have not noticed we are kind of cut off from them."
"Totally cut off? I had believed that the communications cutoff was temporary."
"Not with the Hakurei Border under their control, no. We're going to have to do something about that eventually. Speaking of which, where's everyone else?"
"Momiji and Kuro are at the Moriya Shrine again, this time because the oni of Old Hell came up to see what's going on and were convinced by Mr. Hakurei Ochiba to join forces. They, represented by Lady Komeiji, are busy in talks with Lord Tenma and the officers right now. The shinigami left soon after you fell asleep." Yanagi says as she serves you a plate of strong smelling buns. Lamb. (Your favorite. Meiling must have noted it somehow and informed her, as you have told nobody of this prior).
"And Miss Houjuu?"
The door opposite to where you are sitting slides open, and a rather sick looking Nue walks in, stumbling over her own feet before collapsing to the floor, groaning. "Water..."
"The fuck happened to you?"
"She drank from the distilled pot that was intended more as a ceremonial firestarter than a legitimate drink. 98% alcohol, to be specific, I don't quite recall what else it contained."
"It was a taro distillation, not very good I may add." Meiling answers Yanagi, "When you hit that concentration you might as well just drink medical alcohol really. Villagers often set these out to appease and deceive the river spirits in the backwaters I dwelt in, but only the smallest streams will fall for it, and the larger ones are simply too large."
"Keyaki, dear, you mind giving Miss Houjuu some water?"
Keyaki hoists Nue up on his shoulders and carries her into the kitchen. The sound of running water and Nue gurgling ensues, louder than Awyrgan devouring the meat buns two rows at a time. Which everyone small talks over.
A while after, she emerges from the kitchen looking still sick but more conscious. Removing Yorimasa's Bow from the Ethereal Sheath to make sure it's still there, she then collapses into a kneel with her chin on the dining table, and weakly reaches for a meat bun.
"Any plans?" You ask as Keyaki also takes his place at the table, his hair still with some streaks of flour in them.
"It's a rainy day. I was thinking of staying inside. Maybe some mahjong. None of us here have anything pressing." Meiling loudly answers, in the concealed facetious tone she uses to provoke a conditioned response from you.
"Now that you say it," You state, the filial conditioning functioning as the rainbow scale trembles in your head, "I am actually not satisfied with the prospect of sitting around and having tea while the world grinds around us beyond control. Is there anything we could do, milord?"
You actually kind of do want to take it easy for a day. But even without Meiling, you have an odd feeling that if you don't go out, a character you care about will die.
Yanagi pauses from her dough mix, "Momi did have something she was planning. While the natural concealment of the Yakumo residence combined with the wolf tengu detachment deployed there was sufficient to cover security prior, with the confirmed total compromise of the Border that has been severely weakened. In addition, a crow scout reported that enemy forces are setting up fortifications at Mayohiga, which is dangerously close by. She suggested that we should transfer Chen over to Youkai Mountain proper for better protection, but due to the casualties we sustained we were unable to send out a strike team to reinforce and breakout the position over there, and there were doubts that we had a chance at defeating them without more backup and intel. As you also know, the Human Village and its subsidiary regions have their own problems, and we suspect that there are Savior positions near the boundary region between Village and Mountain domain."
"Most importantly though, their truce offer is still standing, resulting in a ceasefire, and our hands are tied."
"With the arrival of outsider forces like you and the Russian observer team, we do have the option of sending out 'deniable' forces to secure Mayohiga and recover Chen. Well, you are inducted, Guoguo, but thankfully the enemy does not know yet."
"Can all of you stop calling me that." You quietly mutter.
"As a result, she enacted a standing order that any Guard officer is now permitted to gather non-tengu volunteers for this mission. Secretly, of course."
"Awesome, who wants to volunteer? As somebody who is technically an active officer I am going to do exactly that."
Awyrgan and the people who behave like actual adults in the room instantly raise a relevant limb. Keyaki emerges from the kitchen after a short delay, with his hand tentatively raised. Seeing how Nue is mostly immobile, you grab her hand and raise it for her. "Alright, we got six."
"Again?" She complains.
"You're not doing anything productive and you owe us booze."
"Fair enough. Just be a better leader don't get me killed this time, okay?"
"Sure, I can definitely lead. There's a grand total of one and a half humans between us when we are against an enemy specifically geared to kill non-humans. We are going to rescue a literal cat stuck in a metaphorical tree made of fire and explosives. Any of you guys have any idea about what to do."
"Aren't you the commander? Why are you asking them?" Nue asks, still somewhat dazed.
"And I have exactly zero training on military strategy unless you count the pitiful, irrelevant amount they taught me in National Guard training. We have zero intel save for their position. We know they can turn assets invisible on demand, and they just wiped the floor with Youkai Mountain's main forces."
"But we overpowered them, didn't we?" Meiling reminds you as she stands up, "They're tougher than your regular human warrior, and the paladin-looking types can put up a decent fight, but in the end they are just..."
"I'm going to stop you right there. You are only a youkai in name and I'm a human in fact. Everyone else here will die to the anti-youkai weaponry. Maybe not Awyri, but I'm not taking chances. The best---"
"Here is the plan." Yanagi was ignoring the conversation the whole time, and had been busying herself with casting minor magics and writing on several silk scrolls on the table, which she is now handing out to all of you. "Contained within is the map of the operational region, times of approach, probable enemy concentrations given the terrain and prior experience, and the approaching timer of the Spetsnaz squad. My instincts on this may be a bit rusty, so if anybody else can come up with anything better I would greatly appreciate it."
"Awyri, go small." You instruct the dragon to turn into the humanoid form capable of holding paper without destroying it as you hand her a copy of the plans. Thick red lines detail every single possible approach path given on conditions, and the currently viable one glows softly. "Yeah, milord I think this is the best we got. But what are these...teams?"
"Team Fang is Miss Hong and Iron Wing, who will be spearheading the frontal assault, potentially in flight. Team Claw is Miss Houjuu and I, as we possess better experience in subterfuge and will be taking the concealed route to remove vulnerable assets and dormant warbeasts..."
"Awyri can turn invisible though..."
"I cannot evade any sensors of radiation or magic." The dragon muffles, "Tis the sad reality."
"Finally, Keyaki and Ming will be Team Snout, Keyaki's ears can pick up anything carried on the winds and Ming, I believe, can detect hidden enemies by instinct in some way. Your job is to stick to the middle between Fang, Claw, and the Spetsnaz. Your job will be to keep us updated on enemy positions and to act as the medical support for obvious reasons. As such, ideally you shouldn't be under enemy fire."
You are about to protest your position being defended by others, but swallow it as you realize she's right about you being more valuable in the backline. "So that's the plan. Got it."
"Excellent. Everyone gear up and get ready. We have a stash of unmarked armor and arms in the house.I doubt they will be better than what you have but feel free to take what you need. Provisions and packs can be found in the storehouse. Rendezvous at Point A on the map before 10:00AM. We will be entering that point separately to avoid attracting attention. Everybody understand? Good."
"Heeeeeey, Miss Inubashiri." Nue mutters as her mind seems to have rid itself of the last traces of concentrated alcohol, and her wing tendrils begin moving again. "If you and your son are participating, aren't you still dragging Youkai Mountain into this?"
"Keyaki is a cadet at most, and I am no longer an officer of Youkai Mountain since Momiji took up the reins as Guard Captain. Any other concerns? No? Good! Do what you need to do and move out! Dismissed?"
As you turn, you hear Nue mumble, "No longer an officer...sure..."
There are of course several things to do before departure. Yanagi and Meiling are packing the provisions so you just proceed to complete your daily routine. It appears they did set aside a set of cleaning supplies. The tooth powder has some odd looking purple herbs mixed in, and the toothbrush seems to brush further back than what your hand tells you, but you get that and a shower done without much incident.
"Awyri, you've cleaned, right?" You ask the dragon burning a picture into the mud with her breath as you come out of the bathhouse.
"I hath burned off all contaminants on my scales and rinsed in the waterfall. Tis of your interest?"
You look up at the beast, so different and yet so similar to the tank you are familiar with. "For your health and for mine when I need to rely on your transport. You can carry me still, right?"
"Naturally. I assure thee, I am stronger than what I was before, friend."
You pause for a second, "You only seem to call me friend."
"Isn't there...anyone else you like?"
"No...perhaps my creator, but I only remember him from when I cannot speak." Awyrgan answers as she nuzzles her snout against you, her scales oddly soothing against your skin. "Thou art the sole person I have come across that feels...nice on the inside."
"It's ordered, neat. Everybody else I felt, humans, monsters, they have a confused mass of things that disgust me. Tis difficult to explain. But you, I can feel it in your words, your actions. Inside, you are clean, quiet. Empty."
"Really? Me the edgy medic? Quiet? Empty? And what's with the inconsistent archaic English?"
"Tis normal. A processing weight in my incubation learning from my creator." Her forked tongue flicks out at your face, licking it and retracting back in before you can even flinch. "You even taste clean. Like acid and iron."
"I don't...well, whatever you prefer. Anything you need before we depart?"
"All righty." You gesture for her to lower her neck, and without much difficulty (a horse was harder in your opinion), you clamber onto a rather comfortable position just below the shoulder. With the Lunarian Fishing Line, you make a secure lasso around her neck, tying it off with the hook. "Let's go..."
[ ] ...First time, slow and steady [ ] ...At just cruising speed [ ] ...HIGHWAY TO THE DANGER ZONE
=================== Relevant Equipment:
Initiative - Kappa-converted Lunarian Kinetic Warhammer/AT Rifle Kappa-converted Shotgun, modified for one-handed use with HESH rounds Grand Barrier Charm "Hew, Stop, Call, Mist, " ===================
"I wonder why the foreigner soldiers moved out by themselves." Keyaki asks while putting on his personal armor, "If we didn't choose to go help them they easily be going against a force they cannot overpower."
"Momiji told them that they will have backup." Yanagi answers, "Are those straps too tight? You are still growing."
"It's fine Mom. But aren't all of the warriors indisposed to combat currently? Because of the ceasefire?"
Meiling cuts in from her side of the room, "I had informed her that Ming and Awyrgan will be coming along with no reason to doubt. Miss Houjuu is just a booze-nicking bonus. Aside from that, your sister made sure Miss Kochiya was eavesdropping when she talked to the Russians."
"WAIT WHY." ===================
"Damn it. Damn it. Damn it Okuu!" The kasha furiously howls as she paces the cave. "Why did you touch the tank?"
"I didn't touch it with the rod! It just sucked in my power like a magnet!" The hell raven frantically replies as she wildly flails about the remains of the vehicle, trying to find any scattered parts that were shrewn around from the explosion.
"Ughuu~ Master's going to have us over the coals for this. At least it was incomplete, I think, the interior is mostly empty."
<%Diabolos>it wasn't my fault directly <%Diabolos>but it was still the biggest mistake I've ever made <%Purple>coming from somebody who is public enemy #2 of Luna and thinks that title is fine <%Purple>that's worrying <%Diabolos>it's bigger than all of yours put together
>You swiftly interrupt her line by tossing one of the spare robes beside your bed at her as the scales do in fact dissolve into the aether, revealing the (sort of human) skin. "Aaand put this on when you do that."
Genre savvy as fuck.
[X] Highway to the danger zone.
Come on, it is the first time she spreads her wings, make it memorable!
Yep. I had assumed that he was a conglomeration of damned souls, but then we got this: >Inside, you are clean, quiet. Empty Maybe he just doesn't have one? Maybe there's something weird happening to contain the souls?
>>31048 Its practically the opposite of what Miko said, though she did mention that our surface thoughts were pretty clear from the horrible screaming flesh cacophony. Maybe the dragon inly perceives the purity part. I'll have to reread.
"Alright Awyri, let us reach the battle with all due haste! Full speed ahead!"
"Full speed? Verily! Fabricating restraints and air shield."
You squirm a bit as parts of her scales clamp around your leg, lower body and back, "Uh, Awyri. How fast can you fly with those wings, anyway?"
"One zero four nine meters per second at full acceleration."
"You mean one zero point four nine, right?"
"No. Tis a full one zero four nine. Ascending now." You hear a sound not entirely unlike a jet engine warming up within her, and as the restraints fully deploy you see plasma wash over your head, sending the raindrops flying backwards in a manner reminiscent of a sci-fi forcefield.
"Uh..." You grab ahold of her spine with both arms just as Awyrgan takes off in a single wingbeat, temporarily batting aside all of the raindrops in a burst of mist. You look down to see the ground getting smaller as Awyrgan ascends vertically until there is a comfortable five hundred meters between her talons and the ground. Your stomach clenches, but the dizzying spell you are used to when flying is gone now.
A loud roar and the sound of gale winds. You look back and was only saved from a flashbang effect as a torrent of plasma begins streaming out from the gaps in her rear scales. G-force sends you squeezing into your makeshift seat, barely able to even cry out as the dragon accelerates at the pace of a jet fighter.
The destination was a mere six kilometers away horizontally. As such, in about ten seconds when the acceleration begins wearing off, you are able to see the large tree that marks the rendezvous point whoosh by beneath. While the air shield is blocking out the sound of rushing air, the rear plasma torrent is still quite loud, as is Awyrgan's joyful growling.
"AWYRI!" You scream, oddly not-passing out despite the speed you are flying at, likely due to the dragon's air shield. "WE'VE OVERSHOT THE...OH SHIT!"
Several red, blinking lights on your Hunter Module appear in unison, indicating fast heat signatures, and a cursory glance to your rear elicits a louder scream from you as you can clearly see the telltale smoke trail and light of multiple missiles closing in on your position.
“ENEMY MISSILES INCOMING!”
"Worry not! They are of no use against my trail!"
"They might not be heatseekers you know!"
"Tis not evasion, tis destruction!"
An explosion. A missile that flew too close to the expansive rear exhaust detonated well beyond 700 meters away. If your experience with video games is accurate, that is beyond a missile's kill range.
A distressing roar from Awyrgan signals an exception to that.
Taking another look back, you scream as well as you see the sky itself erupt in a storm of lightning and fiery dust as the missile explodes exactly like a volcano eruption, releasing dust packed so densely that their velocity incited a localized electric storm. Or were they magically generated in some way? You don't know and you don't care, as you are too busy panicking as Awyrgan does her best to outrun the Saviors' heavy anti-air technique.
The other two missiles are not trailing you. Rather, they appear to have curved off to the side, and are cutting a wide arc around your position. Checking closer, you note that they are flying a couple klicks above you, which means...
"THE MISSILES ARE LEADING OUR PATH! WHERE ARE YOU GOING?"
"THE BORDER!" Comes the loud, but much calmer reply, "TIS A WARP BACK TOWARDS MAYOHIGA!"
The missiles are beginning their descent interception, judging by the Hunter Module's displayed path they are going to explode in front of you to catch Awyrgan between three expanding clouds of electric dust. They are, however, a bit too slow for that. Before you've even noticed, the air had taken on the characteristic translucence of the Border's presence, and just a few seconds later your surroundings suddenly shift and your ears pop at a sudden shift in air pressure. Well, pop is an understatement, as you briefly go deaf as you hear an extremely loud ringing noise, but a few moments later it clears up.
Either way you didn't notice much other than the ringing, too busy checking the Hunter's Module to see that you are indeed just one kilometer above ground over a flat side of the Youkai Mountain foothills. The missiles have disappeared from radar, but in the distant west you can see a black cloud being joined by two more of its siblings.
"I am correct! Tis trivial. I possess experience that only the sapient art subject to this anomaly," The dragon happily brags, "And..."
"Hard left!" You interrupt, "The missiles were launched close to our left!"
"Verily." Blood rushes from your head and a brief nauseous sensation kicks in as Awyrgan banks hard, "I see nothing but trees in that direction. Art thou certain?"
"Of course. They're probably cloaked, but I smell something..." The scent is quite strong, is it a scent? The air shield shouldn't be allowing any scent through as you are smelling nothing else but steel and burnt air here. It's more of an instinct, mayhap, a disgusted reaction of some sort? Either way, "Something in the grove over that small cliff, can you toss something at it?"
"Fireball or Solid Missile?"
"Anything! We're passing it!"
Unlike your experience in video games, Awyrgan is not a man-made fighter jet. She simply swings her neck back, a dim glow briefly flashing under the scales, and opens her mouth to disgorge a bolt of ionized gas at the grove. The shot flies true, and a glimmer can be seen briefly before the bolt explodes in a fireball rivaling a small thermobaric bomb, smothering the area with thin plasma.
As the gas fades away as quickly as it came, you spy something, something big, emerge. More importantly, your Hunter's Module now shows a cluster of hostiles. You're not quite sure how it manages its FoF identification, but's its probably Lunarian magic or something.
"You see that?!"
"Yes! Turning to confront!" Without warning, Awrygan banks upwards and does a rolling somersault over herself. The contents of your stomach rush to your mouth, and in your already unstable state you find yourself adding a vomit plume of half-digested meat buns to the plasma wake. At least they are incinerated almost immediately at the speed you are going.
Closer up, you see that the large thing you are approaching resembles a massive lion of stone the size of a small apartment building. Not the caricature that adorns temples, no, the savage, African reality. Mostly reality, anyway, as in your experience lions don't usually have multiple missile launchers and other less obvious weapons mounted on its shoulders, or a even larger (in this case, thankfully empty, rack on its back).
As if a hornet's nest had been stirred, the lion fires a swarm of smaller missiles in response to the approaching dragon, covering the air with a web of contrails. Bullets and even smaller missiles are also fired at you from what you presume are infantry or smaller vehicles concealed in the patchy forest, albeit with less coordination and aim. The lesser munitions either miss completely or glance harmlessly off of Awyrgan's steel scales, even the anti-youkai silver rounds, as you discover when you reflexively catch one that was matching Awyrgan's velocity, noting the same shine on the smushed metal as the ones that you popped out of Nue. The lion's missiles, while somewhat numerous, are less sophiscated than the ones that pursued you earlier, and for the lone few that look threateningly close, you grit your teeth and mutter "Stop", freezing them where they fly until Awyrgan has flown well past them.
Awyrgan barely paid attention, easily outmanuevering the mass of enemy fire. She dives down to about a hundred meters above the ground, close enough that you begin to see what looks like people and armored cars standing their ground as flashes of large caliber gunfire open up rom their positions. Ignoring the increased rate of bullet pings to her armor (you don't, you press yourself lower and raise your shield), Awyrgan roars with childish glee as her gullet sprays out a great gout of plasma.
While the distant bolt may not have been too efective, you watch with a mix of fascination and horror as the modern dragonfire at short range warps the metal of the vehicles, turning them into distorted, charred wreckages, and the Saviors on foot caught in this actually combust, flailing about as their armor expands and breaks off, revealing the fleshy, burning human innards and more often than not collapse and cease movement instead of blinking out as they are prone to do.
Coming up to the enemy beast, Awyrgan ceases the fire and instead rears back to spit out what looks like a spear of molten metal at the left weapon compartment of the lion. The metal slags on to the surface, but you can see some of it fly inside the compartment before the lion could close the hatch.
A muffled series of explosions occur as the lion stumbles, before compartment cracks open from an additional series of explosions, not muffled. Not as large as you expect, but this isn't Hollywood and either way it's not functional anymore.
"Great job! You are the best dragon I've ever seen!" You exclaim a technically true statement as Awyrgan flies past the lion. "You still have enough juice for another run?"
"Have I! I hath enough to turn fully punish them for standing against us, friend!" She somersaults and twists again, and this time you manage to hold your stomach in on account of it being mostly empty now.
No flurry of missiles this time. You lower your shield as you see the lesser enemies scatter at the approaching dragon. Laughing along with your friend at this point, you draw your sidearm and fire off several rounds at them, missing completely as you are riding on a dragon going Mach 1. As such, bloated with confidence, neither of you notice the lion turning its remaining compartment around on its turret.
You do however notice the unidentified chunk of gun on it disgorge an unusually thick laser tracer. Awyri doesn't, and your brain is too late at putting this observation together with what Aya said at the Tengu Officer meeting.
Even as fast as Awyri is to react, whatever fire control system they used caught up, and a sustained TLS shot, straight out of Ace Combat, barely grazes past her head, hitting another part instead.
It doesn't cut right through, immediately. But with a projectile that's literally light, it gets to track Awyri perfectly, and cause quite significant damage. Apparently this exterior part of Awyri isn't as heat-proof as her innards.
"YOU'VE GOT A HOLE IN YOUR LEFT WING!" You scream as you frantically assess the damage, which is, in fact a solid, molten hole in the wing that makes it look precariously close to falling off.
"I DO?" Is the growling reply. "DAMNATION! I CANNOT FEEL THAT SIDE!"
"NERVE DAMAGE, FUCK!" You feel blood rush to your head as the dragon begins tilting and losing altitude. "WE'RE GONNA CRASH, WE'RE GONNA CRASH...huh?"
In the middle of your panicked movements, your hands grasp the amulet you've been wearing on your neck for convenience the whole time. The gift from Patchouli that you had succeeded in completely forgetting about. Until now.
[X] Great Shield Charm
In unusual haste, the neurons in your brain fire off in a split-second pattern that is technically a plan.
"AIM FOR THE WARBEAST AND VOMIT AS MUCH PLASMA AS YOU CAN. WE'RE RAMMING IT!"
"ART THEE INSANE? I AM DURABLE BUT NOT AS SO! TIS WISER TO SIMPLY LAND!"
"I GOT A SHIELD, DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT!" You scream in exhilaration as you hold up the amulet and cry out its incantation. In a dramatic burst of light, a thick, formidable arcane barrier of translucent magical crystal forms around you and Awyri. Bullets and TLS bursts chip and melt parts of the shield as Awyri plows forward, an angry, clawed, comet of plasma.
In the single second as Awyri accelerates to full speed before the last kilometer, you can see the distant shapes of the knights scatter. Their warbeast is unfortunately not as quick, and a sickening crunch is heard as the shielded dragon slams into its craggy hide, shattering it and subjecting the vulnerable innards to a torrent of sun-stuff from Awyrgan's maw.
Before the plasma charred it to cinders, you see that beneath the stony exterior, the inside is red and pulsating with tendrils.
Is this huge warmachine the same as the red abominations that troubled your adventures earlier?
A resounding crunch as the stony looking armor falls apart and the insides burst into flame and steam from the heat. Thankfully, the remnants of the great barrier protect you from the worst of it as you desperately pull up the mask on your suit, before they dissolve into the aether. No dramatic explosion, but you do hear the dying beast letting out a mournful howl of pain as it collapses. Hoping that it would fall on some nearby enemies, you are disappointed to see that even in its death throes, it actively avoids falling on its allies, swinging what remains of its charred arms around to fall in the direction with none of them.
Awyrgan leaps off, and lands amidst the Saviors still standing bear their failing warmachine. At this point you are more than a little disoriented and sick, but the scale in your brain and your own resilient physiology kicks in, allowing you to knock some of them down with your sidearm as Awyrgan continues breathing plasma, incinerating those too foolhardy or too slow to flee.
When the fire stopsand Awyrgan takes a breather, nothing remained save for ashen ground and the roasted bodies of your opponents, some still twitching. You pondered on how much trouble these guys gave you before, but now they are...wait, they weren't that good even before, just fanatics in metal suits and somewhat futuristic gear that kills youkai. Bulletproof? Sure, but you still took them out with your even better armor and gear despite lack of proper training. Maybe their paladins would be tougher. Oh well. The Hunter's Module shows no more hostiles, but it does show several green friendlies nearby.
"Hey hey," You motion for Awyri to stop before she wounds up for another breath. "We're clear. Hold still for a sec while I patch up your wing."
"But thou art a doctor, not a mechanic. Aside, I can repair it on my own."
"Yeah but I'm going to try anyway, it’s faster. You are a living creature after all. Hew!"
You are a little surprised yourself at the metal slowly weaving back together into her tough wingskin under your pink haze. It is much slower than with people, but then again this is physically a much more serious injury. Feeling your strength give away, you terminate the spell before the wound closes.
"Hold on." You ask her as you retract the improvised restraint you were using and slide off her back. "I need to recharge."
"Tis a good time for a snack, I agree."
"No, as in I need to suck some lifespan out of these losers. I hope there are some...ah." You hear pained moaning from one of the prone knights and stroll over. Apparently this one is still moving somewhat, and the moaning is rather high-pitched, feminine even.
It is feminine, in fact, as you note the different shape of the armor this one has compared to its compatriots.
"Huh, I was under the impression that you guys were chauvinist. Guess you are good guys." You mutter as you take out Initiative and give it a good swing, puncturing its armor with the claw, "Well, consider this an act of mercy. Hew."
Soothing life flows up the weapon and into your veins, or magical circuits or whatever. The moaning eventually becomes a quiet whimper as you continue siphoning the knight’s (knightess? You’re not sure if there is a female conjugation) lifespan, and when the flow finally ceases the body seizes for a bit before falling limp and silent.
"That is a lot of life, whew, I feel great. I guess you would have survived. Ah well." You walk back to Awyrgan and finish up your healing. "There you go Awyri, feel better?"
You stand back as the dragon unfurls and flaps that wing a couple times. "As good as new. Thou art a great friend, Ming."
"Just doing my job. Somebody's gotta patch our side up." You turn back to your Hunter's Module and count up the friendlies nearby. Twelve. "HEY! CAPTAIN LAZAROV, ARE YOU GUYS HERE? THE AREA IS CLEAR!"
"You know, tis really a good time for a snack."
"I only brought a potential lunch, so...oh." You note her hungry stare at the dead knights on the ground, "Yeah, go ahead. Just don't eat any that are twitching, since they may have intel. HEY! CAPTAIN LAZAROV, I KNOW YOU GUYS ARE OVER THERE! I HAVE A SENSOR!"
Your radio crackles, "Mr. Wu, is that you?"
"Is it really safe?" Dear lord, his Russian accent is actually thicker in English than Japanese, "For what we see the huge, occasionally disappearing monster we've been skirmishing with just got replaced by a smaller, but scarier looking monster."
"Awyri? Oh no she's on our side."
Some scuffling on the other end, and then you hear Konoroz's voice, "Are you certain?" A muffled "Hey Ming!" that you recognize as Spring is heard in the background.
"Yeah! She's an evolved form of the sapient tank I was travelling with. Kinda like a Pokemon or something. Anyways, you guys should probably get over here so we can consolidate our positions while the others arrive."
"I don't know about that. While the kapitan is quite gleeful," A muffled "She's friendly! Let me hug it!" is heard in the background, "You guys are the most obvious targets right now, and if any enemies are in the area they would be making a move against you."
"Scanners show that the coast is clear, and while they are invisible they cannot be moving, so I doubt that is the case right now."
"If that is the case, then da, we will head over to your position now. Though judging by your performance I think our aid might be redundant."
"Eh, your Lunar gear is better than mine, and sticking together is better if more of those warbeasts show up, besides, we're just..."
[ ] A Boy and his dragon [ ] A Dragon and her attendant [ ] Just two fighters [ ] (Let the dragon speak) [ ] ____[Something else?]____
=============== <%Purple>with the lives he saved he can't be a mistake <%Purple>at least not a complete one <%Diabolos>it's nothing compared to the lives he took <%Purple>directly or indirectly <%Diabolos>... <%Diabolos>have you talked to anyone in the Chinese pantheon lately? <Spice>DID SOMEBODY CALL ME? <%Diabolos>shoo, I meant somebody who's allowed into the Heavenly Palace <Spice>oh <Spice>no, y tho <%Diabolos>well, the followup question would have been "Have you talked to anyone suffering from shell shock" ===============
><%Diabolos>have you talked to anyone in the Chinese pantheon lately? ><%Diabolos>shoo, I meant somebody who's allowed into the Heavenly Palace >Chinese patheon -> Bāxiān - Eight Immortals -> Zhang Guolao Apparently we're a white spiritual bat or something. Although the part about us being a mistake isn't clear - how the hell did we fuck up so much that we're considered a much, much bigger mistake compared to, say, Sun Wukong?
>>31059 ><%Diabolos>well, the followup question would have been "Have you talked to anyone suffering from shell shock" Remember that Mist power that allowed him to make Momiji and Komachi trance into his evil spirits sins ? He probably abused that in his previous life and mindfucked a few immortals into brokenness or something, and Hecatia regrets it.
>>29912 >"Aren't you tired of talking to me? Get out of here, it's my head."
>"A head completely under my responsibility."
Immortals have to constantly fight off Shinigami to extend their lifespan yet, assuming that we're an immortal, we have someone inside our head. Maybe some drama happened and we fucked over the rest of the Eight Immortals for Hell's benefit and then things went extremely wrong?
"Lord Inubashiri? Lord Inubashiri?" Ochiba asks, puzzled at why the Guard Captain had been staring out the window into the distance, as if focusing on something.
"Oh? I'm sorry." Momiji blinks, allowing her eyesight to retract back to normal distances. "No, I do not have any issues with your proposal, please continue."
"Okay. Please be focused, this is more important than strategy. As I have stated, the Geneva Conventions should serve as a baseline for what..."
She turns back to the window, her seating location in this high temple specifically chosen to overlook the area around Mayohiga, in the distance. A hidden smile forms on her lips as she watches her planned attack unfold, its progression marked by a trail of charred corpses.
"Let's see them make a meme out of me after this." She quietly gloats.
[x] ...A dragon and her friend
"...That's just two units. We need backup"
"Tak tochno, we'll make our way over. Stay frosty."
"Yo, Awyri." You call to the dragon as you switch off the radio, "Incoming friendlies. One of them may try to hug you but please don't roast him."
With her jaws currently scraping delicious chunks of human out from a suit of armor, Awyrgan responds with a thumbs up on her left claw. Apparently those are opposable, who knew?
The Russians emerge from behind bushes and within shadows, like the ghosts of a lost battle. But they are not ghosts, not yet. Some of them are bloodied, as while their Eientei armor did effectively immunize against piercing bullets and shrapnel it is less effective against heat and shock, but except for some blood on their faces, none of them appear to have been severely injured.
Just barely. You recognize some of the injuries as near scrapes from large objects that likely would have killed through blunt impact, Eientei armor or no. Speaking of Eientei armor, their nanosuits don't look nearly as good as they did before, though no rounds or blades seem to have gotten through yet.
"Wu Ming! My man!" Lazarov walks forward, extending his arms and enclosing you in a bear hug before you can react. "Just in time! They were zeroing in on our position when you slammed into their giant robot like a meteor."
He then notices the giant lizard nearby, and you give a resigned shrug to his eager gaze.
As the dignified Russian officer begins poking and touching the dragon like a child would a zoo elephant close to the fence. You approach the rest of the squad, who also seem to be thinking of copying their commander but are a bit more wary. Save for one.
"So how is he still the captain?" You whisper to Konoroz, who is shaking his head at the shenanigans.
"Because he is. That is all. Nobody else could be Alexei Lazarov...literally."
"Eh?" You raise an eyebrow.
Konoroz looks around furtively, then whispers in your ear, "Some of the older commanders say they do not recall a time when Lazarov wasn't captain, despite them having been in service since the Union. Others said that he had sold his soul to the devil or is really a demon himself, but I always thought these were just jokes regarding such an old officer staying within Spetsnaz and not being transferred to VDV, but now...I'm not sure anymore. More damningly, I actually checked his military ID one time when we were barhopping and I did not drink, his birth date was in 1900."
"..." For all intents and purposes Lazarov looks like a normal, middle-aged man as he attempts to climb the dragon's back, and actually succeeds easily because Spetsnaz, "You got any ideas of what he could be?"
"You could bring people back from the dead, so I thought---"
"I can't. I can heal mortal wounds, but I can't pull off resurrection or extended lifespan. It's probably just an inside joke between the senior commanders." The captain is trying to get the dragon to fly, with little success.
"Ah. Well, I don't think with the medikits Eientei gave us that we will require too much of your service. Anyway, other than what I found, have you noticed his smoking habits?"
You have noticed, "Yeah, I understand soldiers like you smoke a lot, but he went through an entire pack in like 30 minutes when he was talking to Keine. That's going further than just courting cancer, that's dating it."
"He doesn't have any problems with his lungs, and more importantly...he never shares, and he never runs out. We all guessed that he keeps many cartons in his pockets, but well, I'm not so sure any more."
Konoroz then snaps back to his previous position as if nothing happened as one of the other Spetsnaz approaches you from behind. "Horosho, tovarishch!" The one you recognize as the one called Vamp, likely due to his thin, pale face, comes up and pats you on the back, "That sniper missed me by a single inch! The shockwave from your impact must have thrown him off."
"Her. It was a woman. Now it's a snack." You reply in your usual matter-of-fact tone, directing their attention to the dragon happily helping herself to the corpse you are talking about, not even bothering to scrape it out of the armor before hastily toasting it even more with a spurt of plasma and crunching through. Lazarov is not perturbed.
"That...that thing." Konoroz nervously whispers, "Are you sure it's safe to be around?"
"HEY AWYRI, ARE YOU SAFE TO BE AROUND?"
The dragon briefly looks up from the torso she is gnawing through, "Tis a matter for contention. Art thee friends of friend? Art thee willing to render tribute? Art thee present to grovel and plead for mercy?"
"We...we are allies."
"Then yes. Thou art safe for as long as you remain so." Awyrgan goes back to her "snack", continuing to ignore Lazarov trying to get her attention.
"She's great. A real dragon, who frolics in the autumn mist and...right none of you probably know this song."
"I do!" The former helicopter pilot cries, "It's my favorite English song! I am certain though that I do not recall Puff eating people."
"That's because bad guys wasn't in the song. See? Awyri's perfectly friendly and nice." You state as you lean against her, allowing her to give you an affectionate nuzzle and a low growl of contentment. "A good dragon! Our dragon! That--"
You are abruptly cut off by a sudden burst of blinding light and a deafening ring in your ears. Somewhere in the din you could make out a faint screaming of "DIE YOU HORRID MONSTROSITY!" accompanied by a frantic roar from Awyrgan.
Grabbing Initiative, you blindly grope around to see if the enemy's close, but Awyrgan knocks you to the ground as she does the same thing with her arms. You fish around for the hammer, unsuccessfully. Hearing discharges of some sort over your head, you fall completely flat and cover your head, hoping that it wasn't aimed for you.
"It's all right. I got him."
As the flashbang effect fades, you see Lazarov standing with one foot on the head of a very confused Awyrgan, with his two revolvers trained on a target on a nearby tree. Said target is impaled to said tree by its arms and legs, thick spikes of rough metal being the medium of its crude crucifixation.
"Nice shots, kapitan!" The recovered Spetsnaz cheers as Lazarov, with flair and style, holsters his spellguns after a twirl. Leaping off of the dragon's head, he lightly lands on the tree branch next to the impaled, screaming knight.
"So, pedik, what were you trying to do with our friendly magic dragon?"
No response save for a litany of indistinct bloody curses. You thought the answer obvious: The knight's two-handed enchanted sword was right there, lying uselessly out of reach on the grass below after it fell from his now-impaled hands in his futile attempt to gain the title of Dragonslayer. It's a nice silver sword, similar to the one they attempted to stab you with earlier, and by just holding it close you can tell its the same material as the anti-youkai bullets fired earlier.
"Not answering? Mr. Wu, do you have a way of making this one talk? A plan, maybe?"
"Hmm? Oh yeah. I have a spell for this now." You toss the fishing line at the tree and are reeled up to the struggling knight. "Stand back y'all. Mist."
You are careful to not have the mist blow back on you this time, which is fairly simple as it appears to be consciously directed by your intent. Sigils on the knight's armor glow in response, and you sense it to be some form of resistance pushing back, to no real avail as the mist bypasses it without much incident.
It only took about thirty seconds for him to fall silent. Twenty more for the screaming to begin again, albeit far higher in pitch and torturous in tone.
"Cool, it worked." You say as you wrench off his helmet with the claw of your warhammer, "Hey buddy, which of the memory fragments did you get this time?"
More incomprehensible screaming, now without the anonymizing electronic treble. Italian, maybe? He looks darker than the last one you tortured. "Oi, oi, did I actually break you that hard? Sheesh, it's nasty but Momiji and Komachi withstood it just fine."
"WHAT...WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?" English. American English. Just like the last one. Is it because their front organization operates there?
"Get over yourself man. You're just experiencing the dead memories of several murdered pedophilic fucks. It's not permanent...I think. In fact, just to make sure I might just do it again if you don't talk."
"BASTARD! MURDERER! AAARGH." The captured Savior sounds more like a dying animal than a person at this point. With some concern you actually see a trickle of blood leaking from his ears.
"I'LL KILL YOU! I'LL KILL YOUR WICKED SERPENT AND YOU, TRAITOR TO HUMANITY!"
A round of chortling laughter arises from the gathered Russians listening to your interrogation. "We're all humans here, buddy." You retort, "I have no idea what you're talking about."
"SELLING OUT YOUR SPECIES! SACRIFICING BILLIONS FOR THE BLOODLUST OF THAT PURPLE WITCH!"
"Listen buddy," You lower your voice as your previous mirth is overridden by his parroting of Rigel's words. "Your accusations are baseless, and if you don't want to have that lovely experience again I highly suggest you tell us what you fuckers were setting up out here."
"A DEFENSE, A BULWARK AGAINST THE FORCES THE TYRANT WILL BRING AGAINST US."
"That's us, and you've failed, horribly. Hey! Awyri, stop eating for a sec and get over here!"
The looming head of the dragon casts a shadow over you, her fangs still awash with dripping gore and smelling of a slaughterhouse. "Tis necessary for my aid in turning this pitiful villein?"
"I do not see the point in this action." She sighs as she perches onto your shoulders, humanoid. "My visage is not a comely one."
Your absorbed evil spirits suck, but lifting five pounds is still well within their capabilities as you have their tendrils drag the greatsword up into your hands like a really shitty Hermit Purple. Setting Awyrgan on the ground, you swing the sword over your head and onto hers.
Awyrgan doesn't even flinch as the blade shatters over her brow.
"So yeah, nice cosplay weapons. Probably excellent at murdering the civilians and rusty soldiers that are the only trace of fantasy left in this god-forsaken world, not so well against purpose built warmachines like this dragon, even in that form. Not really good against humans either." You add on as you jam the broken hilt into your own neck, with absolutely no effect.
You notice suddenly that his expression changes from undulating rage into a mixture of confusion and fear. Lazarov is also reacting similarly at you jamming a physical weapon into yourself with no discomfort. The silence from the Russians behind you says the same.
"That...that...NO. THAT IS NOT HOW...NO!"
"Hey, give me that." Lazarov asks as he carefully jabs the back of his hand with the hilt. "Ooh..." A sharp intake of breath as the blade sinks a bit into his flesh, as he grimaces. "This really hurts, in more ways than one."
"IT'S A HOLY WEAPON, IT DOES NOT DRAW BLOOD BUT RENDS THE SOUL! BUT YOU!" His spittle is hitting your face now, "YOU CAN'T JUST...DO THAT. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU?!"
"Dunno, I've been asking that question myself, and I don’t have an answer yet. Not important though, what I'm saying was...crap...Lazarov, I don't actually know what to ask during interrogation other than the generics, can you handle this part?"
You get off the tree as Awyri goes back over to the pile of corpses and wreckage she's gathered into a crater like a makeshift barbeque pit. Spring high-fives you as he passes by to help Lazarov, while Konoroz rolls his eyes and mutters "College student, really?"
Most of the other Russians are unoccupied, and are watching with amusement and bile fascination as the dragon smelts broken metal into skewers with plasma-heated teeth, impales broken corpse parts and vehicle components on the before roasting them, and then jamming the whole thing down her gullet, defeating the point of using a skewer.
Your stomach growls from the fact that you have vacated it during flight. Digging into your pack, you fish out the meaty rice balls that Yanagi packed as rations. They're kind of cold despite the summer heat.
"Hey, buddy, give me a small fire, won't ya?"
Awyri nods, rips a Savior corpse in half, and douses it in an extra thick plume of plasma until it bursts into flames before gently setting it in a patch of sand next to you. It is, in fact, a small fire.
"T-Thanks." Doing your best to ignore the fact that it is a dead human, you allow yourself to take in the somewhat delightful smell of the burning meat as you heat up the riceballs on the flat of the broken greatsword.
The Yakumo Residence was not that far from the Youkai Mountain, or at least Yukari put it close by this time. To the west a thick black smoke is wafting up, and her descendant and that strange Western drake is nowhere to be found despite having departed earlier.
Meiling shrugs at the conclusion. She still senses his heart pulsing, at least he's still alive, and it appears whatever ruckus he is causing has diverted the enemies over there, as they met no resistance on the way.
She had seen the residence before, and it remains the same now despite the boundary youkai's capricious nature. A rather ordinary Eastern-styled residence, if on the larger side with some uncanny Western features such as stone walls and the lack of sliding doors. It is, however, only reachable through taking a very specific path through several patches of woods in a very specific order.
"Well...that was a milk run." Yanagi remarks as she stretches at the path's end. "Son, you hear anything?"
"Nothing within two kilometers, mom," Keyaki answers from his stabilized perch on Nue's back, "We are in the clear."
The chimera shrugs and lies down, "Can you get off of me then?"
"You two are going to be standing guard here while we get the objective out." Yanagi says, before turning to the front door of the house, "Oi! Sergeant Tsurugi! Report!"
The door creaks open. The fearful, bedraggled face of a white wolf peeks out, unarmored and with matted hair. Her eyes fearfully dart in all directions before motioning for them to quickly enter.
"I wasn't expecting to see you, Senior Captain Inubashiri." Tsurugi mutters as the reinforcement group crosses the doorway.
"You should have," Yanagi answers with a hint of annoyance, "Where's your armor and weapons? And look at yourself! Do you look like an example of tengu militancy? And why didn't you at least send us a crow to update your status!"
"Captain!" The sergeant's voice suddenly rises in fury, shocking Yanagi into stepping back, "We can't...the radio tower and crow roosts were taken out just yestersday, nothing left but corpses."
"Were there no guards? How...oh," Yanagi recognizes the look of despair in Tsurugi's eyes, "Oh...no."
"Sadow and Narisawa are dead. We buried them in the flower garden. The enemy's blessed ammunition tore through them like nothing." Tsurugi quietly says as she closes the door. "It is only by sheer luck that they didn't discover the residence yet, but I'm not counting on that."
"Bastards...how dare they..." Meiling notices a tear coming down the side of the normally ineffable captain's eye. "No...let's keep our heads in the game. Is the objective still secure?"
"Chen? She's in her bedroom. Healthy, if more than a little traumatized."
"Good, because we're getting you all out of here out of here. Gather your weapons, and..."
"Not going to happen. Remember what their announcement was, about only combatting those in their way?"
"But they KILLED TWO OF US ALREADY! WHAT..."
"They have a twisted definition, captain. In their way means leaving our territory on purpose and bearing weapons. You likely weren't attacked on the way because they saw you as re-entering a home, not knowing that this is in fact the Yakumo household. The moment we cross the esoteric zone, though, is when we are scythed down in a hail of gunfire and explosives from the two cloaked firebases they set up about two hundred meters away...Sadow and Narisawa found that out the hard way."
"Two firebases. One we can handle, but two...anybody else have any thoughts?"
"Wait for backup." Meiling answers matter-of-factly, "The Russians should be on their way if they made it, and I'm telling Ming right now to get over here."
================ You clutch your head in pain, the rainbow scale jiggling your brain meats. It's been a while, and the Russians have already moved on ahead while you wait for Awyri to consume her meal and absorb whatever pieces of weaponry she sees fit to do so. The crucified knight didn't know anything other than the rough location of two other Savior positions nearby, and as such you and Lazarov saw fit to just leave him on the tree.
"Hey Awyri, finish up, we need to move." You say as the unconscious thought leaps unbidden into your mind as a clear order, though you are well aware of its source and nature.
"Tis only one minute until I finish fabrication of the next weapon." Is the reply as she chews on the slagged missile pod of the beast. You see that similar looking structures are indeed growing out of the scales on her shoulders and underbelly. Is this Awyri's special power as a Touhou? You're not sure.
"Fine, but only one minute." You turn to the crucified man on the tree, "Hey you, fuckboy, you want me to cut you down so you don't die up there?"
"I...don't...need...your mercy...monster." His voice comes out in long rasping sighs. Exsanguination and septic shock are in their terminal stages by now, you judge.
"Whatever you want." You answer back, "You'll be dead either way."
"BS. You fucks tried multiple times and failed." You reply as you raise a rock to chuck at him, but become distracted as you see something in the distance, an odd light not part of Gensokyo's natural atmosphere.
"The phoenix...has been tamed. It is coming...for you...fiends. I feel, the light...rising..."
A long shuddering rattle, and the tortured Savior breathes his last. You don't notice, but you are too busy observing the horizon.
Something is rising over in the east, near where the last foothills of the mountain range give way to impossibly tall bamboo. Something burning red.
Something bigger than the smoldering corpse of the warbeast.
Something with wings of bright colors. Something smothered in red. Something smelling of dried corpses.
You pull on the radio in your armband and say, without any emotion in your deadened mood, "If anybody is listening right now. I have spotted a phoenix coming towards Mayohiga. Repeat, there is a phoenix heading towards Mayohiga. It's probably a corrupted Mokou."
"If none of you want to intervene, fine, but please pass this on to Keine so she may know."
"Hello? Damn it." You look up, and see that the phoenix is that much closer. "We're going to be facing that thing...Awyri?"
The dragon had become humanoid, and is, to your surprise and horror, actually appears fearful. "Tis...not possible. Can thou see? Tis not only the phoenix approaching."
"Huh?" You zoom in with your Hunter's Module, and blink as you see additional, golden armored figures riding atop of the flaming divine bird.
Golden armored figures, inducing a faint trace of dread rising in your gut.
"Oh. OH SHIT IT’S THE ELITES."
"Tis necessary to flee and hide." She tugs hard on your collar, "Now."
[ ] To the Yakumo Residence in the north. With any luck Yukari's house should act as a fort against this onslaught. [ ] Away from the Yakumo Residence, to the south. If they really are homing onto us we can't endanger the others.
================ <%Purple>what does this have to do with the Chinese pantheon? I assume you mean the Taoist consensus. <%Diabolos>yes, that one. ever noticed how it's a little...weak lately? <Spice>now that you mention it they haven't been doing anything <Spice>even with me bringing the Hong back, no floods or storms or angry celestial dragons <Spice>weird <%Diabolos>if you learn your tradition's flying cloud, you could just fly up and sit on the throne <%Diabolos>the Jade Emperor can't stop you, not after my mistake <%Diabolos>still, he's better off than Confucius <%Diabolos>poor fellow <%Diabolos>you're looking to put him out of his misery, right? <Spice>well the Hong is pretty opposed to most of his tenets, so yeah <%Diabolos>it's the merciful thing to do now *** Crackerjack has joined #LeadersOnly <Crackerjack>hey boss, urgent news <Crackerjack>we got into their computer systems <Crackerjack>literally <Crackerjack>I've got a dozen software and phyiscal bugs inside the computers in that GAM staging area sapping data as we speak <%Purple>Good job Wriggle, what did you find? <Crackerjack>How to get back in ================
[ ] To the Yakumo Residence in the north. With any luck Yukari's house should act as a fort against this onslaught.
Mayohiga is being at the border and assuming they are able to regain entrance, that would be a logical reinforcement location. It is being watched by two firebases and we already know the individuals there cannot stand up to the basic troops that are stationed there alone without sustaining some level of damage.
If we regroup with the individuals that are already known to be at the Mayohiga location (having been watched on their way in) and anyone survives to report it, the cease-fire pact will likely be broken as it would be pretty well assumed that the Mountain has moved against them considering MC & Friends just destroyed that firing location. This drags a lot of people in to the danger if it occurs.
A sudden strike here to take over the two fire bases and use them to attempt to slow down the incoming phoenix and elites however has merit. If their weaponry strikes at the soul, that may impact the incoming troops and Mokou to an extent, assuming anything can actually strike her.
Of course the firebases already likely heard of the destruction of the location we're at and would be on alert to attack us as we approached.
[ ] Away from the Yakumo Residence, to the south. If they really are homing onto us we can't endanger the others.
This strands the group at the Yakumo residence. If they move out to fight assuming that Ming and the others are coming, they will be placed in direct danger when that support does not come. Without a healing entity of some kind, wounds are likely to be fatal against these enemies. Meiling however has a head for tactics and it's possible that she'll be able to tell that we are not on the way.
I don't think the Russians have any kind of speed to disperse either way. In an extended escape sequence I see things going very poorly for them unless they've got some major tricks up their sleeves. They would likely best be used while fighting from an entrenched position (at the northern firebases or the manor). Or sending them off in an entirely different direction while playing fighter jet and going away.
High risk either way. North could turn into a drawn out siege. South could turn into a losing chase. Both could be a slaughter.
This may come down to whether Ming can actually weaponize Mist to shut Mokou down on some level, otherwise I can't see what anyone else could bring to the table.
This isn't a fight to be won with what we have on hand, but likely a battle of attrition until an opportunity presents itself. We're out of our element.
Ming just grabbed some life force fresh, it's possible he could throw some extra life energy into Awry, maybe get some extra speed to make the chase more likely.
Gotta assume he's a known entity to these guys as it stands, the russians didn't come in until after the assault was pretty much finished so they're the asset to keep hidden. Ming probably doesn't have that luxury given they would've reported the contact as they were firing and be expecting him.
[x] Away from the Yakumo Residence, to anything but the north. If they really are homing onto us we can't endanger the others.
Short update because studiesRifle2017/08/17 (Thu) 09:35No. 31077▼
================ ***MATARA has joined #leadersonly <%Purple>wait, that's it? The solution is that easy? <Crackerjack>their setup assumed no direct interventions of a godly nature <Crackerjack>Barriers against human and youkai interference are there, as well as internal godly and divine interference <Crackerjack>but nothing against godly or divine interference from the outside, because they used that avenue to initiate the lockdown <%Purple>AWESOME, GET ON IT YOU SORRY EXCUSE FOR A GOD <MATARA>maybe <MATARA>my game when? <%Beerkorin>I'll do it for Gensokyo, but you're not interesting enough, literally <%Beerkorin>your aspects are so obscure and diluted, you have separate ones on both sides of the Border. I can't draw a consistent theme <%Beerkorin>and more importantly you have no friends so I can't make any bosses other than your hollowed servants <MATARA>just grab everyone else that should have had that privilege earlier <MATARA>heck I'll start an incident just for that <MATARA>I'll even change my core aspect <MATARA>I'M A LITTLE STARVED FOR FAITH IF YOU HAVEN'T NOTICED <%Beerkorin>I'll throw your suggestion into the pipeline. Probably not the next game since Diabolos is doing something soon. <%Beerkorin>but the next one if you can save our land <%Diabolos>and assuming Gensokyo is still there by then <%Beerkorin>oh come on, of course it will be there, I have faith <%Purple>I'm warming up the armored trains already <%Purple>this will not be recorded <%Purple>this isn't an incident, this isn't fun, this is a hellish war in paradise <%Purple>there will be no games, no manga, no books <%Beerkorin>well, obviously <%Beerkorin>the fans are already touchy on actual deaths <%Beerkorin>good thing I don't reintroduce people that often <%Beerkorin>would be really bad if they found out their favorite one is gone
================ Slay the Dragon afore it breeds
Cleanse the Null Fiend lest it feeds
While monsters may have some good within
These two have naught but void and sin
Rinnosuke furrows his brow. This scrap of paper he had been putting off looking at was given to him by Reimu days ago, written in a weirdly cursive English script. He thought it was a torn page from a poetry anthology, in which the deciphering of such would have been better devoted to Kosuzu, if it were not for two peculiarities.
One, his powers can tell this was not a page from a poetry book, but instead a military order of some sort.
Two, the date etched in the corner of the paper, an imprint in the texture, reads 25/08/2217
[x] Away from the Yakumo Residence, to the south. If they really are homing onto us we can't endanger the others.
The Lunar forestry suit increases your speed quite a bit, but not as much as the dragon can run on all fours even while humanoid. Awyrgan has to slow down occasionally to allow you to catch up, much to her consternation as the phoenix in the distance is still closing in, and as far as you can tell it is indeed homing onto your position.
"Speed! Speed!" She growls in the horribly draconic tone that falls just short of being human. "Tis no use if we cannot hide! Why hath you chosen to flee this way!"
"I know! But if we let them go the other way we'll get the others killed too! It was going to come to this eventually, and I really don't want to be a burden on others."
"Tis a burden on me right now!"
"You don't have to listen to me you know. If you think they are after me over you just flee and let me be the sacrifice. You..."
"NO!" She slams her hands down and stops, making you fall over yourself to avoid running into her. "Are we not comrades in arms? Are we not friends?"
"Yes! It's because you're my friend that you need to leave me if worst comes to worst!"
"Cease this knavery! Your being less of worth to me does not imply such defeatism! You are still worth infinitely more than the enemy, my friend!"
You are about to respond with your habitual bitter laughter and a sardonic statement, but something about the dragon's voice puts you off. A primitive sincerity in there? "Look, it's not about 'worth', it's that if somebody has to make a sacrifice it should be me. Not you."
"Why should thee? To feed thyself to these insolent dogs? You must live, friend! None of us shall perish! None!"
"Tis not a discussion, tis an order! Cease obsessing over your own demise!" She begins sprinting again, this time grabbing you by the arms and putting out enough speed that you are being flown like a flag by her grip with nothing but her steely wings in your eyes. "We will complete our mission, together!"
That is not expected draconic personality. But then again, Gensokyo. You really, really, really don't want anybody becoming a shield for you. You say it out loud, you can't hear what you said over the wind.
A sharp draconic retort clearly sounds over the howling wind. "What if there are more than one shield? And who are you to judge?"
"Who are you to judge?"
"Who are you to judge?"
"Who are you to judge?" The servant asked once, upon returning from his duty.
"We are kings, granted wisdom by the gods" Was the answer from the judges.
But the messenger was not satisfied. Was it true wisdom?
So he went to his master, a god. "What wisdom do you grant that judge?"
"Wisdom tempered by eternity. We judge because only we can."
And so the servant was satisfied.
But the eternity was not to be. Soon the messenger found that he was ordered less and less. He noticed his master growing older and weaker.
One day he woke up to see that his master was gone, and all the people he brought to his realm are gone. He angrily asked the new master, who bore an uncanny resemblance to the ferocious guard dog he was familiar with. "Are you here to judge?"
She shrugs. "I cannot. Everyone's gone to the new place in this land."
And so the servant left. But he found that the new place was not welcoming to the likes of him. Despite their similar appearances to himself, complete with the wings of a bird, the new messengers were not harsh, emotive, or deceivable, but compassionate, kind, and unstoppable in any way. They were also not individuals, but representations of a single, greater entity.
This entity is unfit to judge.
"Who are you to judge?" The now powerless servant cried out.
"I am all. As I am all and I see all. I am fit to judge."
And so the servant decided to see if he can accept the new god.
He stopped as he saw the pious priests of his old master being condemned.
The old god was wrong. The new god is unjust.
Perhaps nobody is fit to judge. He thought of humanity, but allowed the thought to sink into the morass of his own contempt for the beings that sentence each other to his clutches for as little as a wrongful word.
Perhaps it's time for gods to die.
But he is too weak. Far too weak. He is already losing his divine nature from being forgotten.
No matter. The first god to die shall be himself.
And so he carved out his own heart, his hateful heart. Contemptuous towards anything and everything, especially those that defy his inevitability.
Gods cannot die save by the narrative, but a god of death's narrative is the death of all. A paradox that filled his still beating heart even as he faded away with a smile on his lips.
A paradox that does what he cannot.
"My friend? Are you awake?"
You blink as you adjust to the sudden change in surroundings. A shallow dirt cave of some sort? The dragon girl is kneeling next to your prone form, looking awfully anxious.
"What do you mean, awake? Did we teleport?"
"My friend, Ming! Tis half an hour since you fell into a deep slumber! It was no trouble carrying you, but it was only by sheer fortune that I stumbled upon this lair! Tis enchanted in some way with an illusion, but I fear tis only a matter of time afore the enemy uncovers it."
"Man, I don't remember falling asleep, but I'll take your word for it." You groan as you feel a pained ringing in your head as you rub off some of the dirt on your hood. "Now where are we exactly."
"Tis twenty kilometers south of the Mountain. We are near the copper mine, but I fear tis of little help."
"You ran that fast?" You toggle the options on the Hunter's Module, and see that the massive threat blob that is a possessed Mokou is not as close any more, but is still within your vicinity. Double checking your position on the map, you see that there are in fact two locations which might be beneficial to run to.
"Huh. We might actually have a way of getting rid of them for a while."
[ ] Fly up to the Netherworld, with any luck they'll run into the mass-murdering youkai plant there [ ] Head the Garden of the Sun, with any luck they'll run into the mass-murdering plant youkai there
[X] Head the Garden of the Sun, with any luck they'll run into the mass-murdering plant youkai there
>Two, the date etched in the corner of the paper, an imprint in the texture, reads 25/08/2217 Welp.
>Null Fiend Unless this is a red herring, we have a name now. Where the food at? Be it souls, children's tears, or silly hats.
>Matara Not sure who Matara is. Google tells me it's a place in Sri Lanka, so it could be Buddhist or Hindu related. Probably the former, given that the wikipedia article says it's home to a sacred fig tree.
>>31085 >Unless this is a red herring, we have a name now. Where the food at? Be it souls, children's tears, or silly hats. We're Demifiend on steroids. Now we just need party buffs and Debilitate and we're good to go. >Not sure who Matara is. Google tells me it's a place in Sri Lanka, so it could be Buddhist or Hindu related. Probably the former, given that the wikipedia article says it's home to a sacred fig tree. you secondary
========== **Purple has disconnected (Time to kill) **MATARA has disconnected (Same) **BEARS has joined <BEARS>screw. this. <BEARS>even after Purple dropped a bomb full of ferrovore bacteria that covered the entire operations area <BEARS>we're still facing enemy air <BEARS>not much, but they have F-22s for some reason <BEARS>like, they're flying like garbage and are trying to dogfight in a stealth fighter, but they all have F-22s <%Diabolos>that's a relief <Spice>aren't ya gonna help? <%Diabolos>all of my assets are in an opposite hemisphere <%Diabolos>and unfortunately most of them are geared towards combating Lunarian threats, not mortals <Spice>can't you give us your dog or something? <%Diabolos>Cerberus is for mauling immortals and dead souls only <%Diabolos>thanks to Herakles it scampers in the opposite direction when it smells hero <%Diabolos>poor thing <Mir>Ой <Mir>didn't Purple make a beast that can actually fight good? <Mir>a dragon or something <%Diabolos>yeah, about that <%Diabolos>you know how western dragons are sort of extinct? <BEARS>yep, but she said she pulled a Jurassic Park <%Diabolos>it's more Frankenstein <%Diabolos>which is a terrible thing to do <%Diabolos>I'd know ========== [x] Head the Garden of the Sun, with any luck they'll run into the mass-murdering plant youkai there
"Awyri, are you familiar with a certain Kazami Yuuka?"
"Most certainly!" She beams at you with pride, her tail shifting from side to side "Tis more time than one where the Lady of the Meadows had need of me in removing ruffians from her domain!"
One, Yuuka normally doesn't ask for help. Two, the dragon is talking like a classical fairy-tale knight. "O...kay. So you know the fastest way to get there by land, right?"
"Certainly! Thou believe that Lady Kazami will be of aid against these foul interlopers and their subjugated phoenix?"
"If there's one thing Yuuka is known for, it's murdering."
"Tis so? Tis not my observation, but I believe it would be worthy to attempt, as the enemy have lost track of us and hath given us the initiative."
You shrug, "You really do believe in me that much? Alright, let's head out."
The cave entrance shimmers as you and Awyrgan creep out. The phoenix is within visual range, but now it has no indication of noticing your presence. Awyrgan looks around and gestures in a sidewinding and wide path that leads down a cliff face. You and Awyrgan then proceed to rappel down on a fishing line and glide down on wings respectively, ignoring the path completely. Neither make note of this as you follow her lead into the woods around the Youkai Mountain foothills.
It is upon exiting the woods that your ears start ringing from the booming voice raining down from the Barrier. "CITIZENS OF GENSOKYO. DO NOT AID THE MURDERER. HE HAS BROKEN THE PEACE AND MURDERED MORE IN HIS BLOODLUST. DO NOT APPROACH HIM OR HIS FOUL STEED."
"STEED? STEED? WHY I AM-MPHMRAGHMPH..." Awyrgan was about to scream when you quickly reach over and clasp her mouth shut.
You whisper as you wrangle a bit with the annoyed dragon, "They're listening for us, you know. If they have operatives camouflaged around I don't want to attract them."
She shakes your hands off, "Tis an outrage! They art greatly in focus of your actions and yours only, Ming! What of my initiative? What of the younger Scarlet?"
"I don't get it either. Really, you'd think that they would suspect that a mere courier can't do all of this by himself."
Awyrgan falls silent for a moment as both of you resume travelling, before opening up again, "Now that I hath given thought...what is stopping them from making the assumption that thou art a monster? For your previous battles, did they see anybody else landing killing blows?"
"Come to think of it...huh."
Your first encounter was made with you at the fore-front of the encounter. The one you did not kill was terminated by either Toyohime or Eirin...both of whom specialize in long-ranged weaponry that make it difficult to determine the murderer.
The encounter with the Kaguya-warbeast likely went unreported.
The second encounter where you might have killed someone was the skirmish along with Nue and Mishaguji. Both of them were in monstrous forms, and you legitimately were the only one that landed seemingly fatal blows.
The third encounter was at the SDM. Meiling was dueling their captain...while you wiped out the lesser subordinates, some perhaps fatally. Flandre wiped out another squad, but they were completely obliterated, and perhaps no one on their side found out who did it.
Their fight at Youkai Mountain incurred no casualties on their side save for the one Ochiba struck down, and seeing how what appears to be their leader, Rigel, is trying to turn the empowered outsider, they likely would have overlooked it.
The latest encounter was you and Awyrgan roasting a living SAM site and its operators alive with dragonflame.
Not only are you a murderer. You, along with your presumed steed, are the ONLY murderer as far as they can tell.
"I...I am the shield."
"I am the only one they will go after specifically. I doubt Chen would have been in any immediate danger if there were sufficient supplies in the house. In fact, the only way she might be killed is probably if I went there. I mean, they haven't been intentionally killing others, right? Ceasefire and all that."
Tengu are great warriors with centuries of experience and practice. Their magical arms are no slouch against modern counterparts and neither is their tactical and strategic acumen, having honed over the years in analyzing recordings, simulated battles and small-scale mercenary activities in the Outside World.
But when it comes down to it, they are still just as soft and vulnerable as anybody else. Perhaps moreso, Meiling pondered as she surveyed the survivors in the squad spread out around the living room, as tengu seldom died since the Edo period. An overall glaze in their eyes pervades the lot as they absentmindedly clean their swords or stare off into the distance.
Only one of them is making any vocalizations, a persistent "Why, why did they do this?". The double wyrm didn't think such creatures so used to treating humans...sinners anyway...as mere cattle, will be so dissonant at the deaths of their own. Perhaps they do not see themselves that close to humanity? Or perhaps the weight of the sins on the degenerates they eat provides a filter?
Meiling does not know, and resigns herself to doing her best to address their problems as Yanagi tries her best to console them.
"Of course...well, there was Momiji, but you know," A brief migraine brings a seed of doubt to your previous statement, "My point is. I am putting them in danger by being near valuable targets, and as they are making several irrational efforts to take me out, I can buy the others time to make plans."
You clear the treeline completely. The smell of blooming flowers is noticeable now, and you can swear the light further on is rather more yellow than usual. The enemy has shown no awareness of you presence yet, even as you and Awyrgan run up a rather large and steep hillside.
"Aaaand, we're here, right?" You leap, and rappel your way up top.
The Garden of the Sun. A nature reserve within a nature reserve. Once you cross the crest of the hill overlooking the area, you see a veritable ocean of sunflowers gently swaying in the post-rain breeze. Amidst the flowers, you can see occasional groves of trees bearing fruit inappropriate in both size and climate to mundane Japan. You stop, briefly transfixed as an odd emotion washes over you.
You had always wanted to lay in a meadow like this. A pure land of flowers beneath a beautiful blue sky with a rainbow across it. A place you could fall asleep on a flora bed and be happy even if you never woke up. It hits you that you are in paradise for all intents and purposes as awe and glibness overcome your mind as your eyes water up.
"My friend, look out!"
Awrygan inadvertently nudges you forward as she jumps over the hilltop on all fours and into you. With no preparation, you can only let out a surprised yell as you tumble head over heels down the slope of the hillside in a manner that would be comedic if it not for the fact that you were fleeing certain death.
"Pft...ow..." You groan and cough up a mouthful of silt. Looking down, you see several crushed sunflowers and groan harder.
How stereotypical of you.
"Get up! Shalt we not hurry to proceed and greet the lord of this garden?"
"I crushed some flowers, she's going to show up in about five seconds to kick my face in." You close your eyes and prostrate yourself in an effort to not be horribly murdered.
Five seconds pass. Nothing but the wind through the sunflowers.
Ten seconds pass. Still nothing.
A full minute passes. You feel Awyrgan brush her tail on your back, "My fri...Ming. Ming, tis no sign of the youkai of flowers."
"Huh?" You look up and around at the still vacant surroundings. "Well, shit, guess fanon is wrong again, as usual. Alright, let's go find Yuuka."
Taking great care to avoid stepping over anymore sunflowers, which isn't as hard as it sounds as the sunflowers are generally taller than you are, and there are in fact several carefully tilled dirt paths that you could follow without running into vegetation. Occasionally your presence stirs up a few fairies from the thicket, but they quickly scatter and flee back into the sunflowers once they take note of your presence.
"I swear, fairies are so bleeding numerous in the games, but here I come to Gensokyo and not a single one has come out to harass me." You loudly complain as you walk through the field, "Can any of you fire off a danmaku barrage or something at me?"
"Tis normal. These fae are but small miscreants. They will not expend the effort to irritate any that either will not respond or respond in a non-playful manner." Awyrgan answers as she strolls along on a path familiar to her near you. You now notice that there are old tread marks in the ground, but no crushed flowers for some reason.
"How often have you been here anyway? Can't imagine Miss Kazami is too fond of visitors."
The dragon smiles with pride, "The Flower Lady only despises those who talk and think! And I, Awyrgan, am not such a thing! She is quite tolerant and welcoming of me whenever I feel like taking a nap in this meadow."
You raise a finger in protest, and she seems to recognize the contradiction, immediately adding, "I do not need to do such things, is the essence of my statement. For most of my lifetime, I am content to not move and bask in the sun and the yellow flowers. Tis most like a pile of gold, do you not think so?"
Looking at the flowers, the steady humming of mindless insects and the sheer amount of life without thought, you start to get a feel of what Yuuka is really like, "I don't see a pile of gold, but I can see where you're coming from."
"You do not? Ah. Perhaps you need to think like me afore you can see. Speaking of Miss Kazami, Oi!"
Atop of a green hill jutting out from this endless field of yellow, aside a lonely tree, sits the living meatgrinder you have heard so much about. Yuuka Kazami is relaxing aside the trunk with her back turned to you. You gulp as you soon as her enormous blip shows up on your visor, as each step towards her feels heavier than the last...until Awyri shoves you aside and strolls up right beside her, "Fair tidings, Miss Kazami!"
"You smell familiar." Was the oddly normal reply, you had expected supernatural intonations appropriate for a youkai of this caliber, but no, nothing. "You're that tank, aren't you?"
"Tis I! Awyrgan! You named me a moving annoyance!"
"Mmhmm." She replies as she stands up and turns around, her deep red eyes passing her and locking onto you. "A new growth stage, I see. And you've brought a friend?"
"Yes!" Awyrgan enthusiastically presents you, "I think you'll like him too! He's like me!"
"Is that so?" The stare narrows, "And you are?"
You gulp and sheepishly answer, "Y...Y-yeah. Greetings, Lady Kazami. I'm Wu Ming."
"Ah yes. Wu Ming. They have mentioned you in the Grassroots Youkai Network." Yuuka gets up in a flourish and a spin, her parasol pointed outwards as she gives a knowing smile that melds into slight confusion, "You...actually, how are you important again?"
"Just an Outsider courier of Eientei. The enemy forces call me The Murderer but that's way overrated." You say while nervously scratching your neck. You don't detect any murderous intent from Yuuka, but you can't be too sure.
"Ohohoho! The Murderer? How positively endearing." Yuuka slowly strolls down, past a mildly concerned dragon and arriving uncomfortably near you, "How so? I may ask. It is doubtful a simple human like you can achieve a body count anywhere near the average in this land, say, mine."
You shrug, forcing yourself to stare at her, "It's a self-serving moniker on their part. Sure you may have made a game out of grinding outsiders into fertilizer, but I scored first blood on their people and have either committed taken the blame for all subsequent kills. Quality over quantity."
"I beg your pardon?" Awyrgan complains from the side.
"I'm pretty sure they'll still blame me for the kills as the rider. They probably think you're just a dumb beast for want of better information."
Yuuka's smile softens slightly, now with concern, "For all of the commotion they've been making about The Enemy, as well as their grandiose proclamations, they must be paper tigers if a single human can cause so much trouble."
"It's called avoiding the actually threatening ones and going after the untrained volunteers. Speaking of which, a crew of the elites is currently in the skies atop of what I believe to be a brainwashed and corrupted Fujiwara no Mokou. They were going to attack Mayohiga but we have diverted their attention for now."
"Divert? By what method?" Her words drip out like poisoned honey, sweet and innocent on the surface but backed with hostile intent.
"Well, they seem to be attracted towards me, so I'm basically leading them on a wild goose chase around Gensokyo."
"And you are leading them...here?" Her smile widens to a frightening degree.
Cold sweat runs down your face as you feel the faint hum of magical resonance on Yuuka, "Y-You're my favorite character, and I know the one thing you dislike more than humans in your presence is many of them in your presence. So I thought you'd have an interest in driving out those invaders...right?"
Yuuka does not reply immediately. Instead, with a somewhat apologetic gesture, she takes her parasol out from her dress and opens it up, slinging it across her shoulder wide open.
"You are quite mistaken then. I do not dislike humans, as many of them are quite tolerable. I dislike humanity: The encroaching tide of fire, smog, and construction and the insolence to believe that they are greater than this world despite their feeble power. It's disgusting."
You take a couple more steps back, "I...well..."
"Thus," She raises her parasol at you, "I don't need the help of lowlives like you who embodies such filth. Disappear."
Awyrgan reacts too late, screaming for Yuuka to stop as the youkai of flowers unleashes her incantation. The last thing you see is a bright light, a deafening boom, then darkness.
[ ] No
You wake up. Your first thought is that it's pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
Actually no, you can see some light coming through a zipper on the bag you are in along with the sound of strong wind. The second thought is "HOLY SHIT I'M KIDNAPPED".
The third thought is "Holy shit, it's hot."
You are just about to say that when something soft, smooth and vaguely fragrant rubs against your ear. "Mr. Wu. Remain. Silent." It whispers.
Biting your tongue, you quietly rotate to see a sunflower, severed at the stem and closed up, pressed against your ear and animated by forces you are pretty sure you know. "Good. Listen. There was no time to explain and I am not going to apologize. In fact, this is quite amusing. To make a long story short, I lightly toasted you with a Double Spark and implanted several small plants inside your body to keep your vital signs suppressed for a few seconds while they checked over you. These should only have minor side effects."
You nod, suppressing ten separate desires to scream.
"The enemy had eyes on you and Awyrgan as soon as you reached the hill I was napping on, just waiting for a moment where your guard is down. They moved in ten minutes before you arrived and I did not feel like chasing them off then as I have some reservations about confronting these unknown fools directly, which is where you come in. I had them believe that I killed you, and offered them your 'corpse'. Now you are currently inside a bodybag atop what I now know is a suborned Mokou along with several of their elites."
You suppress eleven separate desires to scream. You feel the exoskeleton on your body, the smooth silk of the Eientei armor, and the characteristic weight of the two modules attached to its gauntlet portions. Your weapons are, however, nowhere you can feel.
"You have five minutes before they reach the inaccessible zone around the Western Ruins. I am currently with Awyrgan, unseen, loitering ten klicks behind your position. The part of myself, the flower you see, that I am speaking through is overcharged with several embedded spellcards emulating my Double Spark, and will activate upon the invocation: 'Bloom'."
The flower twitches, and begins faintly glowing along the stem as the petals unfurl. You hear Yuuka giggle.
"Oh dear, you appear to have five seconds, Ming."
[X] Yes [X] Yes [X] Yes
[ ] HEW (I'll just send some lifeforce into the bomb and see what happens) [ ] STOP (Just for me) [ ] CALL (Come aid the shield, shields!) [ ] MIST (It probably won't kill me, better suppress those that could once shit happens) [ ] METAL BARRIER (Oh hey, the amulet's recharged)
"For thee sake, thou hath not found my friend disgusting?! CORRECT?" Awyrgan snarls at her new and unfamiliar rider, her appendages and jaw bound by supernaturally sturdy vines with just enough slack to allow her to fly.
"Calm down you silly lizard." Yuuka responds, still sporting the perpetual smile of a serial killer. "No need to get your wings in a bind...oh ho ho ho." She quietly chuckles as the dragon tries to thrash against the restraints as best as she could without breaking the invisibility sheath.
"Alright, alright. Enough with this act. If you would kindly not try to attack me instead of the actual nemesis I will release you. I'm not ignorant enough to sacrifice useful people on meaningless suicides. Your friend will be fine." The dragon's ears perk up as she detects a change in her affably evil tone to something darker, "It is a bald-faced lie to call your friend a representation of humanity. Or even a fragment of it at this point."
"Art thou implying..."
"It's not important. Are you going to stop struggling or not? We have weeds to pull."
[x] HEW (I'll just send some lifeforce into the bomb and see what happens) [x] METAL BARRIER (Oh hey, the amulet's recharged)
Suppressing your fear for a moment, you quietly cast your bread-and-butter technique on the flower. Hew and the detached spell-bomb combines to form...a bloated flower that is bursting at the seams with vaguely pinkish light. Enough to make you panic even more than you already did.
With two seconds left. You cry out the invocation for Patchouli's barrier. The body bag rips apart as the crystal shell expands around you, and you are blinded by the reintroduction of daylight, and then blinded even more as Yuuka's flower detonates in a dazzling spray of volcanic magical eruptions, similar to Marisa's Master Spark you witnessed prior but with a green tinge rather than a rainbow one. The eruption sends your shell flying upwards, and you frantically scramble up against the G-force, managing to crawl up and blink harshly a few times to dispel the flash bang effect.
Nothing but blue sky and a blinding pink smoke, the residue of a massive spell explosion, below...
A spear implants itself into the barrier, sending spider cracks along the crystal. Its wielder appears shortly afterwards in a bright golden blur, putting both hands on the glowing weapon to jam it in even further. You barely manage to put up the shield in time to block the attack, and no time at all to consider that Patchouli's shield is likely stronger than your gravity barrier.
Your left side erupts in blinding pain as the weapon goes through your armor like so much wet paper and then your skin, and your organs. In shock, you grasp the spear by reflex and cry out your most familiar word, which dulls the pain for a brief moment before your assailant lets go of the weapon...right as your makeshift vessel reaches the apex of its flight path and begins falling back down.
The crystal barrier, unable to sustain itself under the impact of a divine weapon, shatters. You are left falling without protection, a mortal wound in your side, and the enemy leering above you, his gilded armor gleaming against the sun and his mechanical, seemingly jetpack-driven wings offering him the free aerial movement appropriate for a wielder of such a weapon.
Your mind claws through the pain and forces your right arm to extend despite the grievous wound. His head turns in surprise at the gleaming silver of the Lunarian Fishing Line attaching to his arm, and then yells and struggles as you recast your life drain, desperately clawing away the breaths of life you need to survive.
As you extract just enough to overcome the pain from the spear wound, a brand new source of agony slams into your back, and again, and again. Judging by the new imbalance you feel, several shafted projectiles have found their way past your armor and into your meaty bits and are happily staying there. Kicking at the air, you gather just enough momentum that the next flurry of arrows barely grazes past you. Cursing your inability to fly, you blindly fire back with Hew blasts, hitting none of them.
Something loud, shiny, and grey flashes by in your peripheral vision, and you hear a bloodcurdling roar and a mighty cry come from below the smog of magical residue. A plume of the substance erupts shortly afterwards, sending the stuff flying even higher into the sky as the bloodied, burnt feathers of a wounded phoenix emerges from within, its glamorous wings and fiery presence belying the pulsating flesh that occasionally comes to its skin like bubbles in water. Its pale red eyes gleam with unbound hatred as it tears away at its attacker, your steel-hided dragon, now coated in a healthy splattering of gore.
Further figures emerge from the cloud, aloft on elegant constructs that resemble the wings of an angel (or of Rigel, you consider). Three of them raise their weapons and move to attack Awyrgan, and is immediately engulfed by another blinding torrent of technocolor magic, followed by a stream of flower petals as they reel back from the Spark. Razor sharp petals, to be specific, as you can feel the wind scratching your skin even with some distance between you and them.
"Ming, catch!" Yuuka's voice rings out from behind you, as soft and vicious as ever. You turn around right as you see your warhammer flying towards you in an arc, and it is only with some luck and a bit of fumbling with your free hand that you succeed in catching it.
A laugh leaps unbidden to your lips as you get a good grip on the weapon, "How the..*hack*...turn...tides...Fuck." You spit out blood as you choke out the words. Turning initiative into its railgun state, you level the gun upwards as best as you can with your right arm locked upwards from the reel , mutter Hew just in case, and pull the trigger.
Very mild recoil, more of a light kick really, and it feels more like a mechanical set than an adversarial force from the launch. Like with the bow, the gun spews dust out the sides as counterweight. You don't really notice that, as you realize too late that Nitori had set this weapon to be fully automatic by default. A spray of pink-tinged plasma trails impact the paladin you latched on to, ricocheting off of his thick golden plate armor and leaving but pock marks in it.
Considering how the railgun penetrated inch-thick steel plate and left lethal dents in the armor of the lesser knights, this is a worrying change. A bit of lifedrain still comes through, however, enough to make the jammed spear fall out of your wound and down towards earth.
You then realize that this means Mr. Paladin is now vulnerable, as you see him reaching for a sidearm rather than another divine weapon. You activate the Lunar Fishing Line's reel, pulling yourself upwards with Initiative, in its war hammer state, swinging upwards.
A solid thunk, and a mild dimple in that golden armor's greaves. A kick to your chin snaps the exoskeleton straight and your face hurting, but you bear through it as you mutter the trigger words for both the life-stealing light and the mind-twisting fog while grabbing onto his leg, the pain from the activation almost making you let go.
Another kick, but just a grazing one as the paladin begins to convulse from the mist seeping into his armor, memory particulates unhindered by barriers physical and the point of cast too close for the magical wards on his armor to react. Taking advantage of this, you begin freely smashing into him with the warhammer, chipping away at his armor bit by bit and taking every opportunity to switch sides and using the blunt end on his head and joints.
Taking a moment to glance at the rest of the fight, you widen your eyes as you see that the airspace had become filled up with massive webs of white tendrils, and only when you see the brown trunks connected to them do you realize that these are monstrously overgrown dandelion seeds. You then become aware of the distinct smell of acid in the air, and note that the dandelion seeds are dripping a clear ichor of some sort. Yuuka herself is calmly weaving in and out between the cloud of dandelions, harassing the paladins trying to break through to your position in the air with a curtain fire of flower petals.
One of them tries smashing through the web, but jerks back on contact as if in pain. They then wisely begin using their weapons instead, setting them aflame when appropriate. You are about to remark on how bullshit it is that they are on the caliber of arbitrary pyromancy when Yuuka passes by and mutters, "It won't hold. Kill him quickly."
"I'm trying." You reply, frustrated as your blows aren't breaching the padding on the flailing paladin, "These guys are...*hack*...too tanky."
"Well then just get him far away from us then. I really do not want to be near those blades." The flower youkai says as she aims her parasol at the distant group, charging up yet another Double Spark. "Mokou is quite fragile, so as long as the moving annoyance isn't interfered with, we'll get her."
You look around to see if there's anything, but it's just sky, obstacles, and projectiles. You then look down, and mentally kick yourself for not realizing it sooner.
Using your hammer as a climbing pick and disengaging the fishing line, you grapple yourself upwards and over the paladin's shoulder. Grabbing onto his mechanical left wing with your right hand and planting your legs firmly around his torso, you begin hacking away at the piece of equipment securing the wings to the armor's cuirass with Initative, and while it does not crack immediately, a noticeable bend begins forming in the relatively thinner metal, and as Hew-empowered strike after Hew-empowered strike hits home, the metal reaches the end of its sheer strength and snaps off.
The lines of divine energy on the left wing go dark, and the streams of energy exuding from its tips vanish. You raise up the severed equipment in triumph, and then in panic as the blood rushes to your head from you and your foe beginning a terminal descent.
"FUUUUUUUuuuuuuuuuuuuuu-" You wildly look around for something to grab onto, finding none. Looking up, Awyrgan is still entangled in a duel of beasts with Mokou and Yuuka is busy fending off one of the paladins that have gotten close to her.
Are you going to die?
"I've done this before, haven't I?"
"Why yes, yes I have. The sky is a common battleground for those with magic."
"So how do I survive this?"
"By borrowing, of course. There are so many words for it: steal, hijack, possess..."
You do have access to one thing that is good at possession and not much else. You also don't know if it works, but right now there's not many options left.
Mentally straining yourself, you manifest the consumed spirits that you had dismissed as a meager distraction and order them into the detached set of wings. A mental drain is felt as the runes glow with a sickly pink instead of its previous golden light, and you feel your descent slowing down and you see the paladin fall further away. Pulling yourself on top of the device, you manage to use it as an improvised glider to navigate your way back up towards the fight while hanging on for dear life with the help of your Hunter's Module. Flying like this shouldn't be easy, but with your add-ons possessing the device you manage to steer it quite effectively.
You can barely see Awyrgan and the Mokou-warbeast, their fight having taken them quite some distance away from the original airspace.
Two of the paladins streak down past you, and you barely manage to steer away in time. But they do not come back for another go, and when you look down and see that they are aiming for their falling comrade instead.
Perhaps you won't increment your body count today, oh well.
With your body mostly healed up from leeched lifespan, you confidently fly yourself back into the zone of combat. Yuuka had disengaged from her partisan wielding opponent and is kiting away from them, with more ease as the number of opponents has been reduced to three.
"Ming!" Yuuka shouts when she notices you. You briefly stop flying for a moment at the lack of the poisonous cover in her tone. "Excellent work on that one!"
"T..T-thanks?" You reply back as you manuever yourself close by, adding to her output of danmaku with a steady rhythm of railgun fire. "That guy's not dead, we need to do something before my spell wears off."
"Really now. That is quite irritating." She bites her lip as she continues to dance, blasting out a torrent of vines at the archer paladin before he can let off what looked like an entire quiver of arrows on one bowstring. "Only that empowered outsider with divine weapons got a confirmed kill on these guys though, so we'll need to free up your friend to get an advantage...Ming, take my hand."
"Eh?" You quizzically comply and grab her hand. It feels oddly textured and hard...almost plant-like.
You then look down and see that her left shoulder and hand has morphed into a writhing mass of vines, stems and flowers.
"HELP YOUR DRAGON DESTROY THE PHOENIX!" Yuuka cries out as she whips the arm back and snaps forward, sending you hurtling like a sling bullet towards the monster fight in the distance.
"FUUUUuuuu..." Your surprise trails off as the dueling monsters get closer and closer to you. Using the wings as an airbrake with its reverse thrust, you manage to slow yourself down enough right before you slammed into either one of them too hard.
You still slam into one of them very hard.
Shaking your head, you recognize the strong smell of perfume and flesh around you, not to mention a burning sensation. Taking another look, you spike the charred beak poking at you in terrified reflex with a Hew empowered war hammer strike, causing the claw of the hammer to get stuck in. It rears up, carrying you along with it, and in the same panicked thought you fire the Fishing Line at its back, reeling you over and snapping its mouth wide open.
The panic subsiding, your arms shaking, and the enemy struggling, you regain just enough clarity to cry out, "NOW AWYRI, END IT!"
The dragon rears back, and sucks in a huge volume of air. Her scales glow white with heat, her claws rippling with sun-stuff as she lunges forward in a single, reckless attack. The claws spear right through the roof of the phoenix's mouth. You release your hammer and grapple hook onto her head right as a further surge of plasma tears the head clean off, and Awyri reaches her head in and vomits a tornado of gases into the exposed neck stump.
You watch with bile fascination at the phoenix's body rapidly heat up beyond its normal flaming temperature and begin swelling, like pancakes on a stove. The heated pustules then burst, releasing bits of feathers, gore, and bone in all directions that burn up quickly when separated. No spectacular explosion happens, but it is still rather entertaining to watch it disintegrate like a cluster of fleshy balloons.
"My fri...Ming!" Awyrgan says as she holds up the severed head, which is currently burning white hot, "'Tis a joy seeing you, but cheer not yet. 'Tis our foe the same phoenix of the bamboo forest?"
"I'm like 99% sure of it."
"Then...she is resurrecting from this piece. What shalt be done with it?"
[ ] Get away from it, brainwashed or not we don't want to be near Mokou when she wakes up
[ ] Stay close to it, depending on the outcome we may need to restrain her or explain to her what's happening immediately
[x] Stay close to it, depending on the outcome we may need to restrain her or explain to her what's happening immediately -[x] Stall with STOP/HEW as much as we're able to while Awyrgan helps Yuuka and gets her over here
It's a risky plan since we could run out of juice, but if she revives while still brainwashed Awyrgan and Yuuka will have no problems dealing with her.
[x] Stay close to it, depending on the outcome we may need to restrain her or explain to her what's happening immediately
"Tis...quite an adventurous notion. Art thou certain?"
“Tis...burning quite intensely. Painful is...ARGH” The dragon roars as the white flames flare up suddenly, leaving scorch marks on her metal scales and forcing her to drop it.
“Dang it. Stop!” You shout, freezing the head in mid-air under a dark sphere. Only, the dark sphere cracks. Your arms go slack at the sudden drain in energy, and you slump over on Awyri’s back from the wave of exhaustion that washes over you.
Your stasis spell bursts, and a flaming ball of heat and hate overwhelms you through your visor and singes your face even through the protective mask of the forestry suit.
“Fuck, ow, fuck.” You take off the visor to rub your hurt eyes when you hear the dragon and feel her rush backwards through the air. Looking ahead, your blurry vision picks up an incoming volley of fuzzy red projectiles.
You blink. Those are feathers, flaming feathers.
There isn’t many of them, but they are coming in thick, so you can see why Awyrgan is dodging back and off to the side. Glancing past the stream of projectiles, you however see nothing but empty sky.
Something strikes you in the side. Hard. Your Fishing Line reel snaps back from the impact as you are knocked straight off the dragon amidst the sound of rushing air and the sick crunching sound of your ribs cracking, the impact having struck you through the protective padding of the armor.
And then. Falling. Again.
You manage to just pull up your shield in time for it to stop the second impact cold. Dangerous amounts of flickering come out, and your body feels heavier from the sheer energy drain caused by the blocked hit. Looking up, you see that what you blocked is a brown shoe wreathed in flames...connected to a pair of red pants...connected to a very angry looking girl with white hair longer than her body.
Fujiwara no Mokou then rears up, and slams both feet into your shield with a yell, sending you accelerating further down. Fortunately, this opens up some air between you and her, which gives you just enough time to mentally command your add-ons to reactivate the torn wings before Mokou winds up another kick, this time with a flaming talon in place of her foot.
Fortunately, in her rage, Mokou misses you by a couple inches even with your clumsy flight, and you take this opening to grab ahold of her leg and channel Hew.
Which does absolutely nothing but hurt your mind. An angry yell emits from her lips as she kicks you off with massive force, flinging you through the skies.
“What the fuck Fujiwara? We’re friendlies!” You scream out as you airbrake with the wings and fly back. A fireball just narrowly misses you, and then a massive gust of wind knocks you sideways as 35 tons of angry dragon swoops towards Mokou, wreathed in plasma and with her maw wide open.
“Wait, no, Stop!” A well-timed stasis aimed at Awyri freezes her in place, giving you just enough time to move over to Mokou who had stopped her fist in return. “Jesus Christ, Blue on Blue! Friendly Fire! Imperishable Night Stage 4! I mean...Mokou, Fujiwara no Mokou, is it?”
Awyrgan takes this moment to break free, and you throw another stasis on her just as she starts a swipe as you continue, short of breath. “Look, I know we just killed you, but trust me, that was because there was a parasite of some sort possessing you made by those knight guys. The only solution was to burn it.”
Mokou narrows her eyes and crosses her arms, “And I’m suppose ta’ believe those words?”
“Look, I don’t have time. The enemy is engaging one of my allies over there and I need to go.” You hurriedly shout as Awyrgan unfreezes for the second time, and seems to have gotten the message and stands down, allowing you to clamber back on her back and begin flying off towards the other fight, “They’re the ones that knocked you out and maimed Keine!”
“You...WHAT? Hey! Get back here!”
You nor your friend turn back. The distant web of acidic dandelion seeds have broken down completely, and Yuuka is now kiting back one vs three towards you.
“Art thou prepared, friend?”
“As always, CHARGE…..uh”
A wall of twinkling gold lights appears in front of you, each and every one a small red projectile dot on your HUD. Divine arrows. That archer paladin…
Awyrgan immediately flips and dives downwards, angling herself to sail past the cloud of arrows before they reach her. You raise your shield, brace yourself with a prayer and an invocation, and close your eyes as the arrows she doesn’t fly under clatter against the shield, sparking the gravity barrier but causing nary a drain on your Hew, oddly enough.
Turning around, you open your eyes see that something behind you has just been pincushioned and bursted into white flame. Turning back, you choke on a significant volume of wind as you see that at least a dozen shining arrows have penetrated Awyrgan’s steel hide, jutting out like trees on a hill.
Trees that proceed to explode like they were in the aftermath of a winter storm. The dragon’s cries of pain and agony drown out even the explosion’s sounds as the divine weaponry wreaks havoc over her body, as you stare in abject horror, a realization dawning.
In legends, churches and priests burn just like anything else to dragonfire. Blessed water and common monster wards do nothing.
It is the heroes that stand against the flame which can slay the foul beast with one swift strike of the lance.
“...Ah...ah...tis...tis...no...issue...” Even with her bestial voice, you can hear the strain and the pain as her wingbeats turn laborous and slow.
“No issue?!” You reply as you frantically channel energy into the gaping craters on her hide, “That attack almost turned you into swiss cheese! Get out of range while I...OH COME ON!”
Another wave. Another stream of twinkling golden lights in the horizon.
“Awyri. Go small. Now.”
“DO IT, NOW!”
Too injured to hold up her pride, the dragon reluctantly fades into her smaller self. You immediately grab ahold of her, slide her onto your back while afloat on a combination of your possessed wings and hers, and raise the shield up against the rain.
As the arrows clatter against the lifeforce empowered barrier while you defiantly continue floating upwards with a winged girl hanging on your back, you start to wonder if shit’s gotten way too anime. You then remind yourself that you’re in fucking Gensokyo, and by extension, a world where Touhou is indeed, real, of course sometimes shit gets anime.
Heck, you think you can even hear faint theme music in the distance. Familiar theme music even…
You can definitely hear faint music, it’s real, and persists even through the rain of arrows crashing down on you and Awyri. It is, in fact, Faith for the Transient People.
Sounds like a metal remix too, huh.
"So, this is not going according to plan." Yanagi sighs as she reads the note from the little Lunarian drone that climbed in through the window. "The Russians are trading fire on the outskirts of the second firebase, but are meeting stiff resistance from the enemy heavy support warbeasts. While the Draken Cataphract did take out one of the further firebases and has tied up reinforcements, we're not going to be able to fall back on their firepower directly."
"Draken Cataphract?" Meiling asks while arm-wrestling one of the tengu soldiers, "Is that how Youkai Mountain Command planned on referring to those two? Quaint."
"They are collectively a massive blunt implement, so yes, a cataphract is an excellent term for Zhen-Guo and Awyrgan. They were also Plan A of our actual objective."
"Eh?" The half-breed listening on the balcony, the nue lurking near the front entrance, and the sergeant tending to some of her subordinates perk up.
"Quite simply put." Yanagi states, in an uncharacteristically hard tone, "Momiji and I had no intention of just extracting Chen and getting out. My actual plan was to kill as many of them as we can, openly or not, and show that we will not stand for these FILTHY, IGNORANT savages to cross the tengu! How DARE they kill my troops? How DARE they murder my daughter? How DARE they claim THEY are right?"
"As such," Meiling calmly continues from her as Yanagi stops to calm down from her outburst, taking the note, "As a minor god of calamity in collaboration with the Tengu Guard I am very happy to report that Plan A of the operation has gone mostly according to plan. The Draken Cataphract has slaughtered at least a platoon of them, according to the Russians, and left their half-eaten, burnt corpses rotting in the sun. What has not been going according to plan is that they have not came back to our agreed rendezvous."
"So," Yanagi picks back up again, "Plan B is now in the garden."
"Oh yes I did, dear. I told you clearly that we were to send up a danmaku flare to signal our rendezvous point. Very clearly. Clearly enough that a certain empowered outsider would have heard it easily. I was not going to send that flare if Plan A went smoothly, which is why I didn't stop you from doing it. It was going to come to this eventually, really. Regardless of what he says, that alleged Hakurei is going to sue for compromise. Compromise which we cannot afford. This means that the more of the primary incident resolvers harden their hearts, the better chance we have of succeeding."
The room then falls silent. Everyone then becomes aware of a previously overlooked loud sniffling coming from the mansion's interior garden.
Navigating through the somewhat twisty corridors of the Yakumo household...well, the chunk of it within Gensokyo anyway, one will eventually come across a quiet little garden, normally maintained by the fox of the house to produce a delicate selection of flowers which are more subject to the mood of the house rather than the seasons. Currently, it’s sprouting a snow-like composition of white lilies and orchids, for obvious reasons.
A young nekomata, or rather, the Black Cat of the Yakumos is standing there, confused and scared with her watering can hanging loosely from her fingers. The other person is kneeling in front of the patch of freshly dug dirt in the garden, her eyes blank, hollow, her green hair stringing in front of her face like vines on a cliff.
One thing, oft forgotten, is that Sanae Kochiya is just as much of an empowered outsider as the others, a divinely gifted interloper from the world of steel and smog. One thing that remains unknown is how she remained alive, became accepted, and even ended up becoming one of the primary keepers of balance in this land, the only non-native human to do so.
The answer is quite simple, really, Gensokyo is a land of fantasy, and fantasy, as a certain eldritch-loving writer noted, is irrevocably linked with frenzied madness.
"...So, Chen. I am going to be honest here, I did not know them that well. There was but one thing I remember..." A loud sniffle punctuates her words, "Last Christmas, they both came up to me and asked f-for my blessing. They were going to be e-e-engaged this year, during the Autumn Red Leaf Festival, and now...they're gone."
There are no tears on Sanae's face. Only the redness of dried sobbing as she slowly turns to face Chen. Who takes a step back at the clear signs of instability on her face. Dilated pupils, a stiff, unearthly expression, unkempt, matted hair (To be fair, forced bedrest does that), and of course, the absence of her hair ornaments.
Which would be laughable, if they did not represent the link to her patrons.
"Momiji was right. If I don't do something, people I know will die. It's...it's too late for these two...but...I can still save the rest. I can still be...I can still be the player character."
"Wait, like a video game?" The unexpected phrase catches Chen off guard, and her innate suicidal curiosity bubbles to the surface.
"Player One. Main Character. Protagonist. Many names, one role." Sanae stands back up, her face now slowly turning into a content smile. “I haven’t gamed in a while, have I? Press start. Select difficulty. Lunatic. Pick character...Me.”
And then, a plume of dust, and a shallow crater in the garden. The miko had flown off with the force of a rocket launch, leaving an even more confused and now thoroughly shocked cat in her wake.
Behind the paper windows peeping, the others holed up in this house turn towards their most senior officer, their eyes all saying one thing in silence:
“Inubashiri Yanagi, what have you done?”
"The red miko's imprisoned in her shrine, the witch is hiding in the forest. The dog of the devil is chained to her master, the samurai to its lady. The lunatic deserter's curled up and gone, and the fairy has no brain...Doo di doo di doo...doo DI doo di doo..."
Sanae flies amidst the clouds, blissfully unaware of the calls from below asking her to parlay or leave. She even seemed unaware when another flier, somebody propelled via mechanical wings and held aloft by a pale imitation of divine energy, tried to guide her by the hand. In fact, she even seemed unaware when her gohei stabbed straight through that person's helmet slit, sending them plummeting to the ground before a burst of divine energy from their insides detonates the armor, a mere non-divine replica of the winged paladin’s, in a cloud of metal scraps and viscera. You watch as the explosion fades, angry yelling coming from below, and a stream of physical projectiles beginning to make its way up to you.
You wake up, as if emerging from a pool of mud. You had been idling in this land for too long. But I still remember why I came here. Why I threw away my old life and embraced this land that the gods loved. I look down and see filth, scum, defilers of this beautiful land. Defilers who dare raise their heads and arms at me.
And so I ask you, dear readers. I know you all are here watching me. I can hear your voices inside my head.
So, what should I, Sanae Kochiya, the only protagonist now willing to take up the role as a protagonist. Do?
[x] Of course, why am I listening to voices in my head anyway? You guys are never decisive.
Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
Another barrage, and then another. But they fail to find purchase as the two of you slowly push through the air with shield held high.
“How has it come to this?” You silently mutter to yourself as you unconsciously hold the dragon tighter after experiencing a sudden case of perspective shift. “I just wanted to chill in Gensokyo...Eh, too late now.”
As the last wave of arrows clatter against your shield, you raise your rifle and fire off a burst of flechettes at the attacker. It won’t really do anything, but you doubt anybody could aim straight with a gunfire going in their direction.
“Awyri, you got any rapid long range fire?”
“I hath several consumed firearms of their design and mine cannon of eld. Tis unlikely to be of much use.”
“Doesn’t matter. Shoot the damn archer. Do not stop. We just need to throw his aim off enough so we can get clo---WOAH WOAH HEY!”
A comet of raging red flame zooms past you and into the hail of arrows, immediately exploding upon contact with one of the projectiles into white flame.
“...As I was saying.” You continue, trying to ignore Mokou’s suicide charge before a sting of pain interrupts you, ”Guh...shit, one is stuck in my leg! FUCKING SHOOT HIM!”
The girl nods, and then proceeds to distend her shoulders, opening up several holes of molten metal on her back. That proceed to disgorge the guns she was talking about, mounted on metal fibres. She then strains a bit more, and your eyes widen at her right shoulder completely dislocates, and out springs the massive 155mm cannon she was using as a tank, which barely misses your face.
And then your ears go numb.
The 155mm caliber is not supposed to be a long-ranged caliber for direct fire. But with a barrel the length of a regular tank, it’s hard to argue its effectiveness. Especially when it begins spitting out shells at the pace of a 30mm.
“GO, CLOSE THE DISTANCE!”
“WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN---GAH!” The acceleration Awyrgan is capable of catches you off guard as the two of you close the kilometers between you and the target in a flash, barely hampered by a vastly reduced volume of arrows. The archer, upon contact, dodges out of the way with deft grace, but is abruptly jerked back by your FIshing Line wrapping around his waist.
“Tag, you’re it.” You quietly remark before jerking the line back even harder, “AWRYI, DIVE!”
“NO! Dive! We’re slamming this one into the ground!!”
Before she can change direction, however, a sudden force on the line jerks you off of her. Looking over, you see Mokou, engulfed in red flame, grappling with the archer, who was trying to cut the line with a shortsword but is now futilely trying to fend off the traitorous phoenix, as while the armor is holding up just fine, getting repeatedly kneed in the face while your midsection is immobile effectively neutralizes any resistance.
“Can’t use your damn Lunarian bow now, can you? DId Kaguya give you that?”
“Uh...Mokou...” You begin, but then decide against correcting her in this moment.
The archer’s plate suddenly glows and releases a burst of light, knocking Mokou back. Before the light has faded, he had lunged forward and stabbed the girl in the heart in a single, impeccable move.
Mokou looks down, smiles, and grabs ahold of his sword arm as she self-immolates all over the archer’s arm, disappearing into a ball of white hot fire. You take advantage of this act to reel in the line and smack the archer in the face with your warhammer, before calling out your new favorite word in battle.
With a single call, and a careful concentration onto your left hand that had grasped around his neck, you allow the treacherous mist to release in a concentrated but slow pace, just enough to get in through the holes in the helmet and cause the convulsions---
A massive blunt impact hits you square in the side, definitely snapping an entire line of ribs and knocking you off the archer. As you’ve been channeling Hew the whole time, it doesn’t hurt as bad, but it still stuns you long enough for the paladin responsible to dive in, snatch the archer, and detach the Fishing Line with a firm tug to the side amidst a burst of light.
Turns out the Lunarians didn’t really want their fishing to be too difficult. Annoying.
Mokou reappears in a burst of embers, looking very nonplussed at the fact that somebody just juked her victim out of fire’s way. You take this brief lull in combat to access the situation. Yuuka’s currently...FUCK.
Yuuka is currently somewhere on the ground, if that massive pale indicator that signals the existence of a disabled ally is indeed her. Hopefully she’s not dead. The hammer knight and his rescuee are moving downwards, away from you, but not at a pace Mokou can’t catch up (Your improvised wings are a different question). The knight with a partisan is trying his best to slay a dragon, but Awyrgan seems to have gotten the hint that being a large target is a bad idea, and is kiting him away from your position, exploiting her flight speed to its full extent. Though she is flying a bit too close for comfort in your opinion.
To your left, off to the north, the ground seems to have turned into a lake and the sky is raining a combination of what looks like lava and brimstone that actually hurts to look at. You decide that it’s not immediately concerning save to avoid that region.
“Oi, Miss Fujiwara. Trust that we’re on the same side now?”
“No, but you aren’t the one using Lunarian weapons, which is all I need to know that you are at least less of an enemy.”
You are definitely not going to correct her right now, instead choosing to discreetly turn your armband inside out while she hasn’t noticed. “Alright then, we’re...”
[ ] Going after the Hammer - Two knights, one metaphorical pike [ ] Going after the Partisan - You’re not risking your dragon’s safety
“We’ve reached the shrine. Over.” Xavier Ward reports into his radio. “Our forces are heavily attritioned by the Violet Tyrant’s despicable biological weapon. But for the sake of the future we must press on even without armor!”
The Saviors that made it through the Yatsugatake-Chūshin Kōgen Quasi-National Park’s forests, mostly the volunteers and light scouts that were not affected by the ferrovore bacteria, made it through after fending off American carrier fighters and JSDF helicopters patrolling the region, having disabled enough of the latter through EMP rifle shots to scare them off permanently. Xavier takes a grateful glance at his, carefully kept under leather wrapping and thus spared by the bacteria.
They have taken only a few non-lethal casualties so far, as even the non-powered armor of the Saviors is more than enough against modern small-arms fire, and none of the aircraft have managed to get a missile lock-on with the active camouflage they have. These pilots have had no experience fighting against infantry that can actually fight back, and the Saviors, as usual, prove more than a match.
Xavier checks his GPS. The shrine is just beyond a hilltop, and should only be lightly guarded at most. They have cut off all of Clear Sky’s forces, and had agents in the Japanese government maintaining this status through diplomatic means. “Much more civilized than what she does.” He mutters to himself as the scout in his squad takes point and peers over the hill with his binoculars.
“Previous reports were accurate. Only the Nagano station guards appear to be here, just some conventional mercenaries with Clear Sky standard gear. Lots of civilian cars piled up around the area for some reason, desperate fortifications, maybe?...Wait, there’s somebody else at the top of the shrine stairs.”
“A youkai? Some magician?”
“Scanners are saying human, which is weird, and she looks---OH SHIT.”
Xavier just manages to roll out of the way of the car that slammed into the scout, hurled by some unseen force. The rest of the squad immediately jumps out and runs over, firing their heavy assault rifles and lobbing grenades as they go...
...And stop as they see their projectiles hang in mid-air like a pause button on real life. Only, they aren’t, they are trembling, as if held in place by an invisible hand.
The enemy soldiers take up positions behind the cars and the few sandbags they put up, but not the unarmored human at the top of the shrine, who had just stood up, adjusting her glasses to glare off sunlight from Xavier’s perspective.
“Nya-Ha-Ha-Ha. You thought that you could just waltz on over past the shrine unmolested! But it turns out you have fallen right into my trap!”
Xavier gets back up, and readies himself to charge as he sees his Pack’s leader, one of the True Companions, step forth, his golden armor still shining and perfect even after the ferrovore attack. But he freezes as he raises his sword over the hill, looking down at the girl, who just looks like an average Japanese schoolgirl clad in an overly extravagant cape.
“Sir! SIR!” Xavier shouts, “What do you mean?”
“Why are you doing this? Why YOU doing this?” The Companion shouts in anguish, as if stung by a personal betrayal. Both sides briefly pause in their acts to react to this strange development. The girl pauses, confused, before reasserting her domineering persona.
“I, the great Sumireko Usami, Master of the Occultic Arts, have my own reasons for fighting, now, draw!”
Xavier has to duck behind a tree as the bullets and grenades are returned to sender along an explosive wave of psionic energy. The Companion is still frozen their, even as bullets glance off his armor and car parts dent it, still muttering to himself, “Why...why....”
“Oi! Ren--I mean Sumireko.” The youkai of boundaries greets as she pops into the bedroom from behind a wall scroll. “Watcha up to?”
After screaming her head off for a full minute and telekinetically chucking various objects at Yukari’s smug grin. The student yells “Can’t you knock? I’m trying to catch up on studies! You are so lucky mom and dad aren’t home!”
“Yeah, I remember college too. Say,” The youkai ignores Sumireko correcting her with “I'm in high school!”, reaches into the gap and pulls out a sheaf of papers and an envelope. “It’s Physics, Japanese and English next week, right? What a headache, if only somebody had stole a copy of the Test. Questions. Beforehand.”
Holding the papers just out of the human’s grasping reach, Yukari then opens the envelope, revealing a bundle of checks. “And speaking of Mr. and Mrs. Usami, aren’t they worried about losing the house after the salary cuts at your father’s factory? If only there was a generous individual willing to lend a hand in such times!”
Sumireko ceases her motions. Mom and dad were arguing a lot more these days because of the house. It wasn’t dad’s fault that the company decided his skills were deprecated after thirty years and didn’t institute a training program. And it isn’t mom’s prerogative to shoulder the burden. Even so...
“I know you’re pulling a trick, Lady Yakumo, I ain’t falling for it---” She then stops as Yukari pulls out a large plastic bag with a familiar logo on it, as her mouth salivates in an almost conditioned response courtesy of a reward-deprivation cycle so common to anybody who actually has responsible parents.
“So, all I need you to do is...”
“Worth it.” Sumireko mumbles as she chews contentedly on a KFC drumstick, the rest of the bucket hidden under her cape. Bullets aren’t really much of a threat against a telekinetic entity capable of regularly pulling down radio towers owing to their relatively tiny momentum, which she did make sure to test beforehand with her own 3D-printed products. Speaking of guns…
“Miss Usami, enemy on your six!” One of the soldiers call out.
In an over-dramatic fashion, the high schooler pushes up her glasses and exclaims “EMPERAH!” before firing the revolver that she had the captain (reluctantly) provide her, without aiming or turning around. There’s no need to, really, as her telekinesis is sufficient to guide all six bullets into the face of the unfortunate Savior volunteer who was just raising her rifle.
“Worth it.” She repeats as the victim of her Jojo reference collapses, as she picks up the glass coke bottle she had just finished and tosses it into the air. “Totally, totally, worth it.”
[x] Go after the Hammer - Two knights, one metaphorical pike
“Let’s crash that one, we’ll nail two at once.” You say as you refocus your control on your wings, your fishing line ready for deployment.
Mokou looks at you incredulously, “They’re retreating with wounded, they pose no threat unlike that one.”
“Yeah but if I don’t finish them off or at least cripple them then they’ll be back! If you’re not coming along I’m going after them anyway! They haven’t surrendered so it’s okay by the Geneva Convention!”
Not even waiting for her response in the affirmative or negative. You turn and begin gliding towards the descending foe, when about halfway over you realize that you are only unable to catch up because of said gliding. If she wants to help she should just do so, really.
“Wings off, folks.” You order your add-ons to disengage the active propulsion as you dive down straight towards the couple. Relying on the Hunter Module for targeting, you fire off a Fishing Line at the hammer wielder.
And miss as the paladin jerks out of the way just in time in a deft movement.
You quickly switch over to the Lunar-Kappa railgun, and squeeze. The gun clicks.
You had neglected to reload throughout this battle. Sure, Nitori’s modifications have greatly increased your weapon’s ammo capacity, but it is not infinite even if the tungsten darts aren’t very space-taxing, which is now painfully self-evident.
Trying to reach for a magazine in your pouch, you are abruptly interrupted by the feeling of your torso bending back in a way it’s not supposed to. Looking down, you gasp for air as the knight’s hammer, glowing with divine light, flies back into his hand.
“That...is so unfair.” You mutter as you pull up the shield. The next hammer throw doesn’t pierce straight through it like the spear, but it knocks you back, away from your target, and shocks your arm numb. It then returns to the paladin’s hand, as with last time.
Sending a surge of lifespan to your right hand, you switch over the hammer to your left, and with your right hand you reach out towards the next incoming hammer as if trying to block it in desperation. The hammer, of course, smashes right into your hand, and you grit your teeth as it crushes your fingers and breaks multiple bones from your wrist into your forearm, sending a massive jolt of pain that penetrates both the Hew buffer and your painkillers.
The limp arm is then dragged along with the hammer back to its owner, attached by the Fishing Line at minimum length, followed by you who is attached to the arm by some now questionable ligaments and the exoskeleton. The paladin appears to jolt back in shock, and then jolts back in pain as your warhammer’s pick clashes against his wide-open neck, leaving a dent in the armor, followed up immediately by a burst of fragmented memories straight from your hand into his face.
You proceed to turn on your wings...the wrong way around as they never shifted their angle. Turns out, your add-ons really aren’t intelligent enough to do anything important even semi-autonomously. That is your thought as what was originally going to be another latch-on attack becomes a plunging attack on the paladin who is too occupied fighting off the memories while holding onto his comrade to resist effectively.
It is also at this moment that you realized that you have no idea what the fuck you were doing as the ground gets closer and closer. Just a few hours ago you were...okay, you were riding a dragon but it was very challenging to just hang on. Now, through pure instinct and reactions and an absence of thought, you flew, grappled, and battered your way through a group of flying elite soldiers.
How did you do that? In any case, you’ve forgotten now that the ground is approaching. You shove down on the paladin and struggle to turn the wings around. Your add-ons obey, as best as they could with unfamiliar machinery, and you manage to turn the wings around about half-way---
--Before you unceremoniously slam into the dirt.
The impact gel sandwiched in the layers between the armor’s silk hardens and expands, actually shielding you for once from the crash that would have snapped your neck or at least break your remaining bones. You tumble and roll for at least fifty meters, smashing god knows how many sunflowers aside in your path, before eventually coming to a final, painful stop.
“Bleedin’ hell.” You groan as you struggle up, one hand fumbling with your Eientei medikit for more of the painkillers, the other hand dangling uselessly due to being almost pulped by a divinely powered hammer. The loving needle you come across is immediately uncapped, and finds its way to your wrist, staving off the pain for at least a little longer.
You still have some Last Chance left, but with access to Lunar pharmaceuticals, there isn’t really much reason to indulge in an experimental Earth university project, especially seeing as you don’t especially need it right now.
Checking the skies, there are still plumes of plasma and flame going off amidst bursts of golden light. You probably should help them, but your right arm and broken bones says otherwise. Still, you can walk, and that gray blob of Yuuka on screen probably needs medical attention. As the hammer knight was just trying to evacuate his comrade, you can probably safely ignore him for now.
It is after taking a hundred steps over that you realize that the indication blob isn’t large from the “bloom” effect that indicates a rough estimate of threat/power, but from its physical boundaries. As in, Yuuka is physically spread all over a roughly fifty meter long smear.
The evidence is quite visceral as you spot a hand lying on the ground, and miscellaneous chunks of flesh, all smoldering with divine energy. You note that they are not bleeding blood, but plant sap.
“Hey, Mr. Wu.”
Yuuka’s head is smack dab in the middle of a cluster of sunflowers, severed at the neck, but judging by the expression on her face she seems rather unconcerned at her state. Without thinking too much, your head being already quite dull from the painkillers, you pick it up by her green locks.
“How are you talking without lungs or a vocal cord?” You mutter as you stare at the head, scanning for injuries until you decide that the lack of a body is probably the largest concern. Looks like really strong youkai, stronger than Momiji anyway, can live on for a while even through lethal divine wounds.
“It wouldn’t matter soon.” She sighs, somehow. “The irony, thousands of years of picking fights with everyone that crosses me and it is a pack of empowered humans that brought me down. Looks like it’s finally time for me to cross the Sanzu, and let my body rot and turn into sustenance for a thousand blooming flowers...”
“Zip it, Miss Kazami. I can fix you. Hew.” You incant as you take a more comfortable seat on the ground. She’s still alive, so this is still resuscitation. Perfectly plausible from a medical perspective, really.
Roots sprout from the neck stump, causing you to drop it from the excess weight. Yuuka’s eyes widen as the spell continues to channel through the air, pumping wave after wave of pinkish energy into her.You also notice similar energy coming up through her neck roots, and look around for the unseen source. It appears to be travelling through the ground, from all directions, but how?
You notice movement. The sunflower closest to you is drooping, is it bowing? No, it is slowly turning brown, and drooping further...ah, and it wilts.
And so do the flowers next to it, and the flowers next to them, and so on and so on as the waves of yellow flowers turn brown and die, turning the verdant meadow into a desolate reminder of mortality.
“Say, Miss Kazami, how old are you?”
She sees it too, eyes agape even as the roots grow into a woody tree-like body, “Millenia...” A deadened voice comes out, devoid of the sadistically honeyed tone her words usually carry, “Many thousands of winters.”
“Sunflowers live for three months at mosts, so it should only be a couple thousand that die...oh right, plants aren’t people or youkai yet, so you need to calculate magical potential in that...”
You remember the strength of her Sparks, and realize the implications of that calculation.
“...Hopefully it’s only the Garden of the Sun.”
Wave upon wave of flowers fall, and between them, fairies pop up in confusion, before fading out of existence along with their vessels. Animals flee out of the expanding radius of death, and the insects that tended to the pollen of the plants fall out of the air. Even the earth itself cracks from the sudden destruction of the roots and their symbiotic growths, and you’d wager that they might even be sterile.
And as abruptly as it began, the destruction stops, leaving a crescent shaped patch of the Garden intact. About 90% of the place is now brown and withered, some even crumbling into dust from a touch, and you guess that the lifespan of the incidental creatures living here have supplemented the requirements enough that the healing didn’t eat up all of the place.
“Yuuka? Miss Kazami?” You wave your hands in front of the youkai, whose tree-like bark is gradually softening into a more skin like tone. “Are you feeling alright?”
You check her breathing. Existent, if deep. “Probably just post-traumatic catatonia or something.” You remark as you turn towards the other set of blobs near your location.
There is no point further in following any of the paths, as the dead flowers easily fall apart as you trudge through them. Strange, Hew never had any effects on plants before, so how is it doing that right now? None of your previously healing effects had caused this much collateral damage, so was it a simple backlash from trying to knit a new body? Was it some sort of casting error?
Or was Yuuka considered a contiguous entity with all of the plants in the area? Given her ability and the healing process, that’s the most likely answer, but you could be wrong.
The hammer knight and the archer had fallen together, creating a small crater where they impacted the ground. Even now, their armor appears to be intact, compared to yours which is now marked throughout by penetrating blows. As you approach them, you put away your rifle, which is hard to aim with one hand, and unholster your sidearm. If either of them are still alive, it may be prudent, perhaps merciful, to finish them off.
The hammerer stirs, and you point the shotgun at his head. He slowly turns to look at you as you lift your finger from the trigger guard and curl it around the trigger itself. You’d better shoot first lest he throws his hammer…
Which he does, but not as you expected. The hammer limply tumbles out of his hand and lands harmlessly at your feet. Waiting for the other shoe to drop, you instead see the glow fade from his armor as he crawls backwards from his position into a kneel and raises his hands above his head. And from the speaker on his helmet comes two words you never really expected to hear from them:
File 151308324798.jpg - (144.85KB, 850x526, yfw you realize you haven't been truly angry .jpg)
Not sure if this is the right choice-in fact, I'm sure this will bite us in the back, but it honestly seems like the most sensible one.
First: If Yuuka wants to go in a rampage for the destruction of her garden, she might decide to go for the soldiers instead of us. And she needs some of them alive.
Second: We told Mokou that we still killed them because they did not surrender. The fact that we hace a choice to let them surrender 2 minutes afterwards did not escape me. We need her as an ally. This is the most important point.
Third: We have a broken hand, a missing dragon and a Youkai that's about to go ballistical for us denying her final wish. We have bigger fish to fry AND we do not need more targets in our back.
Fourth: It may help counteract the bad opinion of our MC that.... hahaha as if.
Fifth: Forget about all this, again, WHERE THE FUCK is our dragon?
>>31154 Saviors in this story are all fanatics that are convinced that not killing us will destroy the world and place it under youkai control. There's no reason for them to surrender other than to pull a final "fuck you we'll take you with you!", so ironically being an edgemaster here works. It'll fuck over relations for sure, but our pet dragon is getting wrecked somewhere off-screen and securing those two would take time.
Dudes, are you sure? Being edgy as fuck has worked pretty well in this story, no?
I think that any choice that doesn't end in the merciless murder of innocents will bite us in the back eventually. Like this guy backstabbing us as soon as we turn our back on him or something like that guy.
[Approximately 2 kilometers away from our protagonist]
The shrine maiden groggily wakes up, face deep in a pile of mud. Her tongue tastes of salt and spice as she coughs up a mouthful of the stuff. Somebody is reaching a hand out to her, and she takes it...only for it to fall apart into white powder. Salt.
She blinks, and sees that the crumbled hand was part of a salt sculpture of a person, half-sunken in the mud, its face etched in a permanent expression of horror. Looking around, she sees many more similar sculptures lying around the churned ground, some sunken in, some still trying to get out of their flayed armor, some trapped inside burnt wreckages.
Fumbling around for her dropped gohei, Sanae Kochiya pushes herself up from the ground, head throbbing with pulses of pain and the reversion of her point of view.
“I made a mess, didn’t I? Now I’m going to have to clean this up. Thanks Gensokyo.”
[Approximately 200 kilometers away, outside of Gensokyo]
“Miss Usami! I wanted to show you this figurine they made of you from this year’s Comiket! Isn’t it cute?” One of the Clear Sky agents, a cheerful local hire, previously a mortician, from Nagano says as she tries to get the psychic’s attention.
“Uh, Yataban? Miss Usami’s not talking.”
“I know, Sakura, she’s been staring blankly at those corpses for an hour now.”
“That’s so strange, why is that?”
“I don’t know, Sakura.” Her commanding officer answers back in his typical deadpan tone, “Perhaps it is because she’s an ordinary high school student who just killed at least a dozen people in cold blood?”
“Don’t be silly, Yataban, she was the final boss of the last fighting game! War and stuff shouldn’t be alien to her, and she even threatened to kill herself in there.”
The officer rolls his eyes, “Because teenagers like her obviously know what they are talking about. Let’s be honest, a normal Japanese person whose only serious fights were under spellcard rules would not really understand that their powers can actually kill people, or in her case, overkill them.”
“That one with her spinal cord ripped out like that on impact is really nasty, eh. Would be hard putting her back together for a body viewing. Can’t believe Usami did that with a car door. That’s pretty wicked.”
“Watch your mouth!.” Yatapon warns, as Sumireko Usami’s breathing quickens and small bits of metal around her begin floating, “Last thing I want to deal with is an esper with PTSD. Ridiculous, we have to deal with this AND more incoming foes while the other Clear Sky divisions just watch for now. The non-Japanese really have it easy this time.”
“JESUS CHRIST KOKORO WHY DID YOU STEAL THIS BUS FULL OF ORPHANS?”
“I do not recall, it did seem urgent. After setting off Ahmed’s improvised chemical bombs in their headquarters and after Wassem and Adin started a riot in the city, the best way to get these Saviors out of the area was to escape with collateral.”
“ORPHANS ARE COLLATERAL?”
“They seem to like me.” True, all children on the bus are laughing and singing, but it's hard not to with Kokoro’s Happy Mask floating around.
“THAT DOESN’T COUNT WHEN YOU’RE INVOLVED! IT’S CHEATING! WHY DID YOU COME UP WITH THIS?!”
Blank stare, the usual, and silence as a quizzical mask appears, “We were plotting at the restaurant, running out of time and...I forgot what happened next.”
“You’re not the only one who forgot.” Sylla mutters back.
============== [x] Accept
Putting a foot on the hammer just in case, you do not lower your gun as you ask, “In that case...state your name, rank and serial number and disarm yourself thoroughly.”
“Castor Pyrus, Rank: Companion, we do not use serial numbers.” He takes off his helmet, revealing the crew-cut head of a brown-skinned guy of somewhat indeterminate ethnicity in his mid-thirties looking back at you, eyes shining with gold, but slowly dimming. His voice is similar, with the clear heroic overtone you heard from Ochiba, but fading, “The unconscious one is Nashira Pyrus, my sister.”
“I’m probably going to forget the names by the way. But really, I’m quite surprised, and suspicious, that one of your ilk will actually surrender instead of dying in battle.”
“I am not merely surrendering.” He grunts with some difficulty as he spits out a globble of bloody saliva, “I am defecting to your side, Null Fiend. This plot is a joke, an act of futile resistance, and neither Rigel nor Arcturus, nor that one they call Polaris are going to make the future a better place by doing this.”
“What.” You did not expect that statement. Is this paladin, which you assume to be one of the most fanatical of an organization of fanatics, defecting? Is this a trap? And are there two more of those “angel” leaders running around? You shiver at the thought.
“Precisely. In case you haven’t figured out by now, the casus belli for this whole war in this time is because my side lost the war that shall happen two centuries later. A war that killed off a full 10-20% of the Earth’s population. But, instead of attempting to make peace or influence events so it does not cause a war, a task easily done with the resources and information we transferred through the wormhole, they decide to start the war 200 years earlier! I agreed initially, as you too have seen those shows and films where one travels back in time to strangle evil in its crib, but now...now I can tell we have even less of a chance this time around.” He continues his rant as he detaches and tosses aside his gauntlets, “‘Oh Clear Sky was in its infancy! Oh our superior technology and heroism will prevail easily! Oh we can just recruit the idealistic to make up for our lack of numbers!’ No, it is the same as before, and the Saviors, in the hands of those incompetents who happen to have been those chosen by Lux Pacifica, will fail again. ”
You notice that he raised his voice noticeably when saying “Lux Pacifica”.
“I lost everyone in my family to a Clear Sky bombing raid early in the war...Nashira...Nashira was the only one I could pull from the rubble. that’s how we became Companions, to avenge our parents and our siblings lost. It also means I am surely not obtuse in purpose: I will not support something that will likely result in all of that happening again to my family in this timeline. If they can’t stop the war by starting a war, then they shouldn’t have done this.”
“So do you know how this war started?” You ask, lowering your gun, “As one of the higher-ups you should. And to play Devil’s Advocate they could still be right.”
“It was always couched in a lot of religious overtones. But I believe it boiled down to a conflict between Lux Pacifica and your Violet Tyrant. For us mortals, it is truly irrelevant, and even now I do not recall the true purpose or crux of the disagreement, neither do I care. You, Null Fiend, have shown me just how futile our struggle is, and for the sake of the people I care for, so far away and yet so close across this gap of time, I shall work for the side most capable of ending this war before it starts: the stronger side. More importantly...” He kneels down as his greaves detach, checking something on his sister’s armor, “...I’m not going to risk the last thing I care about in the world over somebody else’s disagreement.”
“Cool,” At this point, the paladin is just standing in a jumpsuit now, unarmed and vulnerable. “But before I will take both of you into custody...Ah, nice.”
The red threat blob had disappeared from your visor. Both of the allied ones are still intact.
“Area’s secured now...I was going to say, I need some of your life force, for my arm.”
“Have at it.” He holds out his arms without even hesitating.
As you go forward and cast Hew, you lock eyes with him and come to realize that your assumptions were correct, just not your conclusions. His orbs are burning with unyielding will, enough to be visible. He is a fanatic of fanatics, but is it not true that the greatest champions of an order, when disillusioned, become its greatest foes?
Of course, you’re not the best judge of character, so it could very well still be a trap. You carefully extract just enough lifeforce to bring your right arm back into a mostly painless operational status, before asking, “There’s another reason for this, isn’t there?”
“Negatory...I...” He sighs as you begin muttering the invocation for Call, allowing your familiars to form ropes behind you for dramatic effect, “I concede. There is one other reason: Captain Deimos, the one with the partisan, is a total and utter fool and a cur. I could have forgiven him in snubbing me promotions for a dozen times over our disagreements, I could forgive him for handing me the most lethal assignments every time,I could have even forgiven him for his derogatory comments on my performance and attitude.”
“But, I could not forgive him for treating Nashira the same way, I could not forgive him for snubbing her advances, and then come crawling back to her when his other relationships failed. I could not forgive him for talking down her abilities to the others, locking her rank and position to keep her near himself. And most importantly, I could not forgive him for ordering me to recall immediately after you destroyed Nashira’s suit’s recall chip, thus stranding her to your dubious mercy.”
So they have problems between themselves too? Interesting, and relieving to know that they are mortal in that way, “If that is true, well, that is quite fucked up, and defecting was the more moral choice in a personal sense. And come on, you’re not giving me enough credit. I draw the line at killing wounded and POWs.”
Not above using the wounded as bait, of course, but that’s another question that you have not had the opportunity to answer yet.
Two crunching sounds behind you indicate that your allies have landed. You turn and see Mokou with her hands in her pockets, first scanning over your prisoners before closing them in relief for a moment. Awyrgan on the other hand is more peeved, looking away from you while chewing on...yep, that’s a severed arm with the armor still stuck on as her tail lashes around.
“Good, you captured them alive.” The phoenix states, “Now, I say we take them back to the village for interrogation.”
“Or simply consume the whole lot of them,” Awyrgan mutters, “Saves time.”
A sort of hacking laughter comes out from Castor’s throat as Mokou throws the dragon a weird look, “I see that the Dragon was the same as she is two centuries later. Thinking with only your gullet and your pride. But no, Phoenix, or was it Miss Fujiwara? There will be no need for interrogation. You may simply ask.”
Mokou shoves you aside and grabs the man by his throat, “In that case.” She growls in a dangerously low tone, “Who. Shot. KEINE?!”
“One of the overeager, undertrained scout volunteers in Squad Six. Their bunker is located between Hakurei Shrine and the Village. Here,” Castor fumbles around in his discarded armor, before pulling up a gauntlet which in turn begins projecting a sizeable holographic map of Gensokyo, “That pip, right there, can you behold it? It’s positioned on the underhang of the cliff right there but invisible, you will need to attack the structure to reveal it. One more thing---GAH”
Mokou throws him down, and without a word leaps up and takes off, flying away in a furious blaze.
“...I was going to tell her that the Saviors have more than likely increased their presence in that area. But that would not be her style now, would it?”
“Hey Awyrgan, how did the fight with that partisan knight go?”
She throws a depressed look at you, or is it a pouting look? Can dragons pout? “Tis a struggle. Thoust presence would hath conserved much time and effort.”
“Excellent work on ripping that ne'er-do-well’s arm off though.” Castor says as he sits back down on top of his armor, “Awyr...gan, is it? Sounds Welsh. We just called you the Dragon.”
Okay, that gaze she gave Castor is definitely a death gaze, “My friend, why hath you not slain them yet?”
“Because they’re prisoners of war, Awyrgan, plus he’s cooperating.” You see her blank face and then continue, “His cooperating means that we can find where the rest of them are hiding and thus more food, got it? Good.” You sigh in relief as her face lightens up, “By the way, get over here, I want to check you for any injuries.”
“Tis fine, but a few minor scratches. The partisan impaled Mokou, mostly.” She says as she does as you ask.
Another chuckle from the prisoner behind you, “I pity Deimos. Given the choice of an immortal and a living slab of metal to fight. Sure, the phoenix may come back, but there is a reason why the Null Fiend and the Dragon were despised so much.”
“Despised?” Awyrgan shouts over your shoulder, “Not ‘feared’ nor ‘dreaded’?”
“It is the context. In the timeline where I came from, the Null Fiend and the Dragon were an inseparable unit, never one without the other. Much like in medieval legends, the Dragon is only slayable by a hero of sufficient willpower, which is not a common occurrence. The Null Fiend, on the other hand, had no legendary precursor, and is not too special by himself, by the standards of a time where spells fly as often as bullets, if it did not have the ability to compensate for that single weakness.”
“Healing?” You guess. “Heavier defense?”
“Oh, you have not figured it out yet? You, Null Fiend...”
“Call me Ming, Wu Ming. I have a name, I’m a human.”
He shrugs, “Whatever you term yourself to be. Your spells were incidental, ordinary even. Healing, stasis, wicked familiars, and your awkward mental virus. All spells we have derived the operations of quite easily. Your true ability, one which you may have noticed, turned out to be one of the thorniest ones we had to deal with: The ability, to detect and ignore heroism.”
You stop looking over Awyrgan’s back, “Say again?”
“The ability to detect and bypass heroism. You at least know the correlation between thoughts and magic, right? Fear empowers youkai and related effects. Knowledge and curiosity empowers human magic. Faith and hope is what empowers gods and heroes alike, and that last one is what you appear to be utterly unaffected.
It all makes sense now. If Castor is telling the truth, and if his observations as an enemy were accurate, that’s how you got this far at all. Nue and Momiji’s wounds healed because they were just regular wounds to you. The blessed weaponry had no effect on you and when you wielded them since to you, they barely existed. You churned through regular knights and even tackled these Companions one-on-one because to you, they are just barely trained volunteers in lackluster armor and overly complacent fighters with somewhat superior gear.
“I would be happy to share all I know, in detail, but...I do not think this is a safe place, and while this may be an egregious request, but I wish Nashira to obtain some medical assistance.”
He has a point, “I can supply the medical assistance, but I’m running dry and I’m not sure how well Hew works on heroes. As for security...oh shit.”
You curse yourself for not having considered this earlier, “Youkai Mountain, my current employer, is technically at a ceasefire. However, because of certain prior Savior actions such as killing their guard commander I’m fairly certain many of the tengu there, unfamiliar with Geneva Conventions, will kill and eat you and your sister without hesitation. There’s also the small fact that I have reason to believe that the empowered outsider there...”
“Ochiba Hakurei, we know. Defeated several companions. He was on our priority list of targets before an unusual change on Rigel’s part.”
“Because I have cause to believe that Rigel has been in contact with him, and you don’t want him knowing of your defection. Still, that is the safest place in Gensokyo, since judging by what I’ve heard the Village and Hakurei Shrine region can barely cover their own security.”
“My friend,” Awyrgan announces as she chews on Castor’s discarded armor, “What of thee original employer that hired us as couriers? I am certain that Eientei is hidden and well-protected, and so far beneath Savior notice. And tis mayhaps a fantasy, but they art renegades also and may find common ground.”
“Lady Yagokoro told us to not return specifically so they stay hidden. I don’t think they want any part in this war. If you,” You turn back to your captives, “Have some tracking mechanism we cannot detect, then Eientei could become vulnerable. Unless...hmm. The bamboo forest itself is an excellent hiding spot, and even if Eientei does not want anything to do with us we can still rendezvous with Mokou and have her take over custody, assuming the information you gave is accurate and that you’re not stabbing us in the back.”
“Still distrustful, ah? Neither option sounds appealing, but it is better than remaining here like a cornered mouse..
[ ] Rendevzous with the Yanagi and Meiling with the prisoners [ ] Take them to the Bamboo Forest and try to hand them off to somebody there
[x] Rendevzous with the Yanagi and Meiling with the prisoners
“I always did want to ride a Clear Sky drake, you know. A great shame they never caught one alive. Self-immolation and all that.”
You turn back to your captives, currently tied up and locked in place by Awyrgan’s scales as you fly on back to the designated rendezvous point, previously within the area of a freakish thunderstorm that you had neglected to think about, “So we had..will have...an entire corps of dragons?”
“Dragons and dragonriders, yes. Made helicopters and similar low altitude attack craft completely redundant and tore up flying infantry. Many, many supplies and lives were spent on eliminating the broodmother for them...oh right...that was you, Lady Awyrgan. ”
“Just as I predict! You lot are ill prepared to slay a true dragon!” She proudly answers as she flies into the dispersing clouds, aiming for the ever-retreating arc of the rainbow left by the storm, shedding her hostile demeanor from earlier as soon as Castor decided to call her by the honorific of Lady. You make a mental note to not perpetuate this notion for her.
“I said we sacrificed an enormous amount, enough to lose us much of the war. I did not say we failed. In the end, we did succeed in slaying both the Dragon and the Null Fiend, but the war was over by then. Of the Seven Stars who set out to reclaim the Earth from the Violet Tyrant, Canopus, Kentaurus, Vega, and Capella are dead, Procyon has disappeared, and Rigel and Arcturus are left with a mere fraction of a force that once promised salvation for the entire Human Sector...”
“WE WERE SLAIN?!”
“The Earth, Luna, as well as the colonies on Mars, Venus, and Jupiter’s moons, not counting the many space station habitats. The colonies were not truly involved due to the rigors of space travel, but securing the space elevators was a major aspect of the war due to the logistical value of maintaining trade. And yes, I personally saw you, the broodmother, skewered and combust along with your rider, the dreaded Null Fiend, a being of questionable species who never took off its armor, and merely melted away into sludge when the combined force of many Companions and Followers finally managed to decapitate it.”
You and Awyrgan share a glance, “I’m not made of sludge, you can see that I bleed.”
“And I do not breed, tis uncomely for one of noble stature. Mine ifanc, if the need arises, art created by mine own claws and breath from raw metal. Tis mine ability to fabricate any machinery with ease and speed. If necessity demands, ‘tis also within possibility to make forgery of mine form from mundane processes and born of mortal bodies.”
You actually did not know this, “You know, Awyri, you probably should have told me what your ability was earlier.”
“Ye hath never put it to question.”
Castor stares blankly at the dragon, before slowly shaking his head. “If you are being truthful, then that explains why killing you two merely reduced the number of new dragons fielded on the Tyrant’s side...I lost many of my friends during that mission, and it was pointless in the end? All the more reason to stop this war before it begins.”
Conversation then ceases as Awyrgan dives down in a tight spiral to cut speed, snapping you to the right with sheer centrifugal force and thus preventing any conversation. With deft grace, she lands softly on the churned mud in front of a grove of trees that according to your map is the objective location that you had completely forgotten about.
“Ming and Awyrgan, reporting back! You call out as you jump down from Awyri’s side and barely manage to not fall over despite the dizziness. “Whadda I miss? We roasted an emplacement, beat back an assault from their elites, freed Mokou from their control and got ahold of a defector. What happened here?”
“Ah, the Draken Cataphract has returned.” Yanagi says as she leaps down from a tree behind you, her eyes somewhat redder than usual, “Leave the captives here, we’ll decide how stew-worthy they are. So according to you, the enemy had been utterly crushed in this vicinity?”
“More or less. So why is this chunk of Gensokyo completely destroyed as far as I can tell?”
“My bad.” You see a bedraggled, dirty shrine maiden call to you while sprawled out on a muddy hill about fifty meters away, “Oh, hi Ming, where’d you get that dragon?
“The tank I rode in on was the dragon’s egg. Wait...” You take a look beyond Sanae, at the torn up ground, the wreckage of what appeared to be armored vehicles, and curious looking piles of white powder. “Miss Kochiya, did YOU make this mess?”
“Western miracles are really cool, aren’t they?”
“Western miracles...” You experimentally reach out to one of the nearby white piles, which flies apart on contact into dust, imbuing your nose and tongue with the taste of… “Salt? Is this...”
“Those westerners really have some badass miracles recorded in their Bible, don’t they? Raining down fire from heaven onto not one, but two cities! And turning everyone there into salt!” Sanae laughs, head swinging back and forth, as she lazily flies over, swaying in the air like a drunk. “I can’t help but borrow it like I did with that Sea Parting trick, since apparently the miracle goes across cultural boundaries. It worked really well! I nailed two positions and definitely ended the vast majority of them. I guess you’re not the only one they can call the Murderer anymore!” “We can be murder-buddies now!”
“Yeah...murder buddies, right.” You nervously shift as Sanae playfully latches onto you...and falls off, along with a good chunk of your armor. Below the seemingly superficially damaged surface, the underside of the spider silk and Lunar metal composite had become burnt, glowing golden, and sloughs off like so much dissolved flesh. Looks like her act was the last straw that broke the weakened straps.
So were most of the clothing underneath. You bite your lip as your bare skin feels moving air gracing it. Even though it’s...charred black?
You can’t help but gasp as you see that the twisting patterns of burns have spread over your entire torso, and are moving their way up your neck.
“Ming?” Sanae looks on with horror, “Did you get injured that badly? Why didn’t you say something! I don’t have a lot of faith left but I can still...”
“Hold it. These aren’t injuries. It’s some sort of infestation borne of the strange iron spell cards that SOMEBODY--” You look around as you shout that word, “--has been sneaking me without rhyme or reason.”
“These are the source of your powers?” Yanagi states as she leans in close to examine the scars, “Positively indecipherable.”
“They are not.” Castor says, still on the back of Awyrgan who seemed uninterested in doing much other than lying down to rest. “Trust me. It is something on the inside. The scars are just an outward symptom.”
“And I should trust your words, why?” Yanagi’s tone suddenly turns icy cold as she turns towards the paladin, enough to make you take a step back.
“I’m defecting, that’s why. I swear, upon my honor as a human, to pay whatever you hold against me back in blood, ten times.” Castor’s tone also abruptly drops, to a dark whisper. “Deimos’s head first, if you wish.”
“Your blood would be sufficient.” Yanagi says as she walks over, knife out in her offhand as she slings her massive kanabo across her shoulder. “I would demand more, but I doubt you could afford the price.”
Without hesitation, Castor thrusts his neck right at the knife, causing the tengu to pull her arm back, but not before he gouges himself on the blade. Everybody else stares in shock at his act for a moment with unblinking eyes, before you reflexively scream “SHIT”, run over, and cast Hew, clotting the blood spewing out and knitting the wound back together.
“That is not something I see humans do. Ever.” Yanagi, wide-eyed, says as she drops the knife as she kneels down to examine the ex-paladin, now fainted from the shock and blood loss. “What does he intend?”
“I think he’s actually defecting to our side while retaining the same suicidal fanaticism. For very strong personal reasons.” You answer. “Could be useful. I sort of believe him.”
“In that case, we could have Lady Komeiji pick over his mind and see how it goes. Good grief, I was not actually going to cut him on the throat. Miss Hong! I believe we have confirmed the elimination of all immediate hostiles and that the Draken Cataphract are not under any sort of mind-altering effect, you can come down now.”
You look around, not seeing any trace of your ancestor. Then you notice that the rainbow in the damp sky is shifting, twisting in unnatural ways as it peels off from heaven and flies downwards, in your direction.
“Hey grandma,” You greet, averting your eyes as the rainbow flows into a two-headed serpent, and then into the red-haired, pseudo Red Guard style-dressed woman you are familiar with by blood. “How long were you watching us?”
“Ever since we arrived at the rendezvous point that you two seemed to have forgotten about.” Meiling teases. “Really though, beating back legitimate heroes with just a hammer and a dragon? That’s awesome!”
“What doth thou imply, ‘merely a dragon’?” Awyrgan complains from the ground.
“One of the creatures that suffer the most in the presence of genuine heroism, naturally! When have you ever hear or read of a Western drake winning against a hero? Until now of course, you ”
“The defector said that my true special ability is to neutralize heroism and divinity in general, so that’s probably why. I wouldn’t count on it too much against anybody not in that category, or non-magical stuff. Still, I assume we got our job done, seeing the complete lack of hostiles in the area...”
“Mostly thanks to meeee!” Sanae shouts as she clambers her way back onto your back.
“...So...with all enemies present either dragon food or literally too salty to function, unless Chen or any others need a lift back I think I’ll just have Awyri fly Sanae and I back home. I could use a bath, and a nap. Honestly, this is a pretty nice deal, and we’ve even managed to take no casualties...why are you two looking away from me?”
Meiling’s faking a cough, and Yanagi turns away completely.
“Don’t worry about it Guoguo, it’s nothing.”
[ ] Pry into the matter [ ] Do not pry into the matter
>"The Earth, Luna, as well as the colonies on Mars, Venus, and Jupiter’s moons, not counting the many space station habitats."
I wonder how much was the moon involved in this mess.
I can't find a pictureRifle2018/03/11 (Sun) 10:07No. 31201▼
[x] Pry into the matter
“Guoguo, there’s not much that even you could have done. This was before we were even near Youkai Mountain.”
Standing in front of the graves in that garden, you don’t quite know how to feel. You don’t know these two random tengu soldiers, but you’re also not that used to dealing with outright lack of control over the state of affairs that much.
“Tis of little good to dwell upon the tragedies of the past, my friend.”
“...We took permanent casualties.” You stutter out, unfamiliar feelings engulfing your heart, “And I can’t do anything...”
“It’s not your fault, you can’t...”
“You know damn well that this isn’t a proven statement.” You shake off the brief sense of dissonance and snap back to your usual self as you have Awyrgan pull you up, “Yanagi, grandma, you two are thousand year old beings who knew quite well how reacting like that to an inquiry is supposed to subtly manipulate me into doing something.”
“Yet you’re here anyway, Guoguo.”
“I ain’t complaining. What do you want me to do anyway? I’m a doctor at best, not a mortician.”
Yanagi looks away as she nervously scratches her ears, “You did resurrect Momi, so….”
“How many times do I have to tell you guys that that was resuscitation, not resurrection! Besides, Sadao and Narisawa here have been six feet under for a day already. Even if I can magically nab their souls back from the Netherworld, I still need to deal with the putrefaction their bodies went through, which could be nigh-unrepairable.”
“But still...you should try.”
“Forget it, best case scenario is that I manage to conjure up some evil spirits wearing Narisawa and Sadao’s rotten corpses as puppets. I don’t want to think about what the worst case would look like, but it probably involves separately animated body parts crawling around---”
Abrupt shouting from another part of the house interrupts you, followed by a just as abrupt silence. The four of you in the courtyard stare in the direction until you hear a familiar voice call out, “All Tengu personnel, evacuate these premises. All associated personnel who are NOT Captain Wu, follow. NOW.”
Yanagi sighs at the command of her daughter, but obeys. As she leaves, Meiling shrugs and winks at you, and takes off into the sky, blending in once more with the rainbow, a tingling remaining in your head to remind you that she’s still watching.
Awyrgan digs her hands...claws, those are claws now...and talons into the ground in a crouching position. “I’m not leaving you alone, friend.”
“Thanks. Geez, why are they have such a hard-on for such a bad idea? What’s the strategic reason for this?”
“Morale issues.” Momiji calls from behind you, “If our impression of relatively constant success on your part and safety from death...a ‘comfy war’, if you will, is dispelled, the mountain population might be...discouraged. They might even spring for a peace treaty. It is a sad fate that the tengu has grown so soft, really. And Iron Wing, I don’t expect you to leave.”
You turn, and see the Guard-Captain emerging from behind the sliding door of the garden, clad in a full set of traditional armor and, with...something dangling from her hand.
“Hey...oh my god is that...”
“Hmm? ” She raises the sash she was carrying...a sash with seven severed and burnt human heads dangling from it. “Oh, this? I came across your work and procured some trophies from the battle’s leftovers. Should be good for morale when put up near the Human-Youkai Administration border. Do you want it though?”
“Hell naw. Way too heavy and unsanitary. What if one of those dead bastards was HIV positive?”
“‘Tis would be a pleasant act if thou were to bestow it upon me. Festooned on my neck, it would strike fear into the hearts of those rogues.”
You merely sigh as Momiji bestows Awyrgan, whose tail has perked up and is slowly swishing from side to side as she tries to hide the glee on her face, with the garish skull necklace of death, victory, and most importantly to you, pathogens.
“At least clean the flesh off the damn things first. Also I never took you for the human trophy collecting kind of guy, Momiji.”
“Their charred state makes it nearly impossible to clean in the field, and the reason why such trophies were not prevalent before is because degenerate cattle make for unwholesome ones, and regular civilian outsiders are banned in that regard. These ones were enemy warriors, like the one our clan shields are made out of. Speaking of fallen warriors,” She turns around from the dragon, a strained smile on her face, “I take it that you really don’t want to do this.”
“Have you seen what happens to people who try to bring back the dead? I could lose an arm and a leg over this! Or worse! And what if they come back like some ghost or zombie from a horror movie?”
“It does not have to be permanent, and I believe the very master of the house we are in succeeded in a partial implementation, the result being Yuyuko Saigyouji. Anything to tide the people over until Clear Sky reinforcements arrive.”
“So why don’t you ask Yuyuko then? I’m a heal-the-living kinda guy, not a raise-the-dead one.”
Momiji shakes her head, “I’ll be asking her as well. I’ll even go bargain with Higan if that’s what it takes. But Ming, you should at least give it a try first. If you need energy, well, you’ve got me.”
“It’s not that, it’s more of a fact that my ‘spells’ have horrible side effects between wiping the personality from souls and turning dead memories into prions---”
“And I am perfectly willing to take that risk. I’ll take responsibility for the fallout when it happens, but winning the war takes priority.”
“Hoooly fuck.” You avert your eyes from hers, “You didn’t even blink when you said that. Are you willing to desecrate the corpses of your soldiers and risk violating their souls?”
“Ming. Look at me. What am I?” Her eyes do not betray even a hint of remorse or reconsideration as her voice grows noticeably harsher.
“Inubashiri Momiji, White Wolf Tengu Guard-Captain of Youkai Mountain.”
“Now don’t you see something wrong with that expression? ‘White Wolf’ Tengu? Have you ever heard of such an entity outside of Gensokyo?”
“Closest thing I can think of, aside from the obvious werewolf comparison, is the Chinese Tiangou, spelled the same in kanji. As far as I can tell the vast majority of you are not black nor domestic, but you do invoke a lot of dog-like imagery in your spell cards. Other problem is that while Japanese tengu have been established to be both humanoid and a populous species, the Tiangou is a singular, animalistic entity.”
“That is the correct guess, actually. Now, what do you get when the Tiangou’s bastard offspring, inevitably formed given the frequency of his descents onto Earth along his master, are rejected from the Heavenly Palace, and cast down to Earth?”
You point at her ears and hair, confused, “Your fur is white though, the Tiangou is almost always depicted as a black dog due to the eclipse connections.”
“That’s because after we emigrated out of the mainland, unwilling to suffer the fate of other half-breeds that remained like having our progenitors sealed under a mountain or something, we arrived in Hokkaido, and mingled with the native youkai population there, noticeably the White Wolves of now obscure legend and extinct species, even among the Hokkaido native Ainu. Even so, when this blood is spread to somebody closer to Heaven, like any purebred human...the old Tiangou’s color shows up.”
Is that the real reason why her adopted brother is black-haired? You thought it was just a thing about being a transformed human.
“As bearers of divine blood, eventually the native crow ---”
“---Cease this narration of thy species’ past. Tis irrelevant to tie that which had to that which will. ” Awyrgan cuts in before you get a chance, “Is this act truly a necessity? Art thou threatening my friend to perform an act of such depravity that even one as low as he would not be willing to? What doth this act have in relation to thy goals?”
“Did you just backhand-insult me?” You mutter.
Momiji lowers her sword and raises her shield over her torso, “There is a very good reason other than that ideological one, why I’m resorting to this. The Saviors have given us their end-goal and terms as part of the truce agreement just an hour ago.”
Her voice goes even colder, enough that you can feel the not entirely mental chill in the air, “They will leave us alone, and depart as soon as they are finished with their...project here.”
“That doesn’t sound...”
“--The project is to harden the Hakurei Border with their magic, and seal in Gensokyo. No way in. No way out. The garden will be our prison. Forever.”
“Forever...” You leap up from your seat in shock, mind numb at that implication, “Forever! Fuck! I still have friends Outside! I can’t stay here! And mom and dad will fucking kill me! Fuck it, I don’t care anymore, I’ll do it!”
“Ah, consent. Just what I needed.” Momiji says as her eyebrows and ears perk up and raises her volume to a shout, “For the sake of the white wolf tengu, for the sake of the black crow tengu, for the sake of all of those imprisoned here. I command you to follow the order of the Guard Captain!”
Your brain trembles as the red leaf on her shield glows. Sharp twinges of pain spread through your nerves, and you fall to the ground in pain. You see Awyrgan screaming in your face and feel her holding your shoulders up, but you do not hear anything.
You feel the your energy reserves already leaping through your nerves, unbidden.
All you can choose is what exactly to do them.
==== [ ] RefuseMing, this is an consented order, tied to an oath bound by blood. [x] Accept … … … ………. “I know what I said is true, I cannot bring back the---”
[x] Stop using that pronoun, it’s confusing.
Fine, WE cannot bring back the dead properly. We do not have the power, nor the history, nor the knowledge.
But what can we do then?
[x] You think. I decide.
Always leaving the hard work to me, eh? Alright. We have two options, as usual. More than two is confusing for humans, yes? Dumb malakes.
[x] You’re one to talk.
So, cutting aside the banter, we know now that our powers is somewhat focused around a core of stopping “heroic” and “divine” type things from happening. Well, fallen warriors are a type of hero, yes? So if we dump enough Hew and Mist incantations at the graves we can probably stop the process in its tracks and thus make them.
[x] Downsides? Well...I have a theory that this anti-hero mechanism works on the basis of somehow retroactively removing memories and their associated feelings and beliefs, which is theoretically the only way of actually dispelling divine effects. If that is the case we are going to get some nasty amnesia, and it might be less permanent than what we need.
[x] What’s our other option then?
Their souls can’t have gotten far. Komachi just got back to work and there’s going to be a backlog on Higan’s shores. A strong Call invocation can grab them.
[x] I thought that only worked on evil spirits.
Guess what the Outside World considers youkai to be. I just have to bend the flow a bit.
[x] If so, then what?
We’ll get something done. We might be able to pull something together with what’s in the house and the words I beat out of that hobo Taoist.
That guy who got anti-being-dead pills from Laozi. You know, that one with the cane? Not important though, just know that if we try to play Heracles/Jesus it could go terribly, terribly wrong. Or terribly, terribly right. ……….
[ ] Give them what they need - They don’t need these two back, they just need to never think of them.
[ ] Give them what they want - If they want resurrections, they’re gonna get what you attempt.
[x] Give them what they need - They don’t need these two back, they just need to never think of them.
Welcome to the Serious Choice number two. If we consent to a full-blown resurrection, they essentially use us as a disposable proxy to bring back those two. It'll bring the Yama down on our heads after this in the best case scenario. They could cover for us later and seek excuse with them because muh invaders, but they'll know that we can do this stuff again. This is literally sticking out our neck for them.
On the other hand, if we just make them shut up and forget they ever died, this doesn't happen. They'll find out afterwards and get really pissed, but between the two options of pissing off the Yama or the Tengu, we can barely survive the Tengu.
>“--The project is to harden the Hakurei Border with their magic, and seal in Gensokyo. No way in. No way out. The garden will be our prison. Forever.” That sounds really weird. Correct me if I'm wrong, the Hakurei border separates the geographical location of Gensokyo , and there's some Yakumo border on top of it to separate fantasy from reality. It never separated fantasy from fantasy which allowed a few otherworlds to border Gensokyo and outsiders to pour in from the dreamworld.
>Give them what they need - They don’t need these two back, they just need to never think of them. Yeah, so they can come over everytime they lose someone so we can 'repeat' the 'miracle'
[x] Give them what they want - If they want resurrections, they’re gonna get what you attempt.
We are gonna get their souls, do our best, and probably fail horribly, removing them from the circle of transmigration forever. And when that happens, they aren't gonna ever ask for something as stupid ever again.
And, maybe, knowing that this fate worse than death was the fault of the cowardice of the Tengu, might help them into growing a spine.
I dislike her attempt to wield Ming as a weapon here.
She'll go parade the success back as a rallying point or if it's an abomination blame it at the Savior's feet to rally people for the fight.
She doesn't care which happens because in her mind she'll make use of either situation as she needs to. And that's a kind of hubris I don't care for and Ming is many things but not something to be pressured for a direct outcome in such a manner.
[x] Give them what they need - They don’t need these two back, they just need to never think of them.
Yeah but Ming agreeing to help mattered in this, she's trying to use the position to accept all the blame for the action on herself in the same stroke by attempting to remove Ming's agency and 'forcing' him to do it.
Exhausted. In no fighting condition. Internal energy reserves for only a few casts.
1/0 possible routes unlocked.
Anti-Divinity (?) - Your actions bypass resistances and defenses powered through hope, faith, and the like. Offensive attacks powered by the same sources do not affect you. This only extends to you and anything under your spell effects. Physical and non-divine effects will still murder you like the squishy human you are.
Hew - Oni-demonic hybrid spell that saps lifespan/lifeforce/magic in general really and heals you. Can be applied in reverse.
Stop - Traps a roughly 3 meter radius spherical area in stasis.
Call - Summons new evil spirits to do your bidding as best as their feeble nature allows or commands your existing ones. Evil spirits consumed in this way gradually become reset to a blank slate.
Mist - Disgorges clouds of powdered memories that seep past armor to attack the minds of enemies directly. Can friendly fire and can be mentally resisted.
>>31213 >Anti-Divinity> This only extends to you and anything under your spell effects. Does that mean he can use Stop and Mist as shields or buffs to make objects divine-immune ? Are the spirits summoned by call also affected ?
you wot m8Anonymous2018/03/16 (Fri) 15:07No. 31223▼
>>31222 Raising Schrödinger's Tengus and make everyone forget about it ?
I voted for attempting resurrection, I'm not swapping. The only way I can see the two options being compatible would be to go for resurrection but fail and resorting to memory hole the event for damage control. But if they really wanted to do that they may as well call Keine, it's canon she's good at burying history.
One more thing to consider : there will be other battles in the future. Their current belief in Ming's power will make them meet the enemy with little fear of death. Give them what they need and that faith will be based on a huge lie, a loophole in his oath. How many will die because of this ? Try to give them what they want and at least they'll know what they can get and act accordingly.
>>31223 Yeah, I don't get the "give them what they want" option. That is the worst case scenario; literally setting yourself up for failure.
After we voted "Wait erasing a soul is fucked up, we are killing their future, innocent reincarnations!" we now have the option to do... exactly that? What.
I heard someone say we might get in trouble with the Yama too. Trouble like being a paradoxical death god on the loose? Trouble like fucking up the Chinese Pantheon? Or trouble like bringing a soul back from the Sanzu? Because we are kinda fucked in this regard, friends.
Finally, considering we are being coerced (No, Momijii, "no takesies backsies" is not a good tool to determine consent) what would look better? An honest attempt to revive a couple of good soldiers or a selfish soul-erasure because we need to trick some bird Tengu (the bird is chicken apparently) that they're going to fight the first riskless war in history.
All the glory without the risk? What are you, twelve? Un-fucking believable.
I got the flu, sorry.Rifle2018/04/01 (Sun) 04:51No. 31229▼
“Alrighty Momiji, if you want a resurrection, you’re gonna get the best thing I can attempt. Awyri! Stop licking those skulls. I need your energy reserves for this.”
The dragon reluctantly sets down the head necklace and saunders over. You gesture for her to turn smaller, and then grab ahold of her hand as you kneel down in front of the grave.
Clearing your throat, you stop thinking, and let something deep inside of you take over. It really isn’t a split personality. It’s barely a personality in the first place. It’s more of an internal dialogue triggered by the hazy visions you received when touching that rusty gun part. Visions that gradually solidify into memories that conform and fit oddly snug with your own life.
”Flames of Phlegethon, burning through Earth. With heat and life, Hew and renew.”
You’re not quite sure what you are saying, but it sounds cool as your intended Hew incantation turns into a full-blown chant as your tongue picks up some forgotten muscle memory. Awyrgan tenses up as a massive amount of siphoned life is drained from her and into the ground.
”Vapors of Lethe, dust of thought. Rise as Mist, and twist the minds.”
“Huh, I was going to say ‘Call’---GAH!” You tumble backwards onto your rear as a sudden surge of life strikes pain through your mind. Moments later, the earth before you erupts in a twisted mass of bushes and tall grasses, stretching across the garden and forming two odd bulges, side by side, in the middle, tightly wrapped with woody stems and leaves.
You were going to ask what they were when the smell hits you. The smell of putrefying meat. However, as the pulses of pink energy move through the stems and into the bulges, the smell seems to recede slightly with each wave.
You gag slightly, but both of the others seem used to it.
“Ech, ugh. Lord Inubashiri, grab some of these branches and relax, I need more energy.”
“Is this...What are you aiming to do exactly?”
“I dunno, I’m just spitballing here. But it should work!”
”Wraiths of Acheron, the woeful horde. Hear my Call. Obey my will.”
You step forward and insert your hands into the arboreal coffins. Aye, you feel their souls, wavering somewhere distant not just in physical terms, but also in consciousness. Unlike the evil spirits, you don’t feel acceptance. You feel fear, and their claws lashing against your mind.
”Ice of Cocytus, lament in form. Stop all force, by hell’s decree.”
With that incantation, the nerves in your brain feeling those painful spiritual sensations are blacked out. Ignoring their attacks, you forcibly drag their souls back little by little with repetitive commands.
“Awyri, can you do this part? Go small and grab that medikit.” You order, “Grab the golden and the turquoise tinctures, and pour half of each over each of the bodies. Then crack two of those strange nuts you see, mash the grubs in them between your hands, and smear them over the bulges.”
“Dare I ask you what this is for?” She asks as she cautiously follow your instructions.
“Precursors for Celestial medicine from Eientei. It’s the stuff gods ate to never grow old or die. I don’t have the raw power to actually synthesize it though, since that requires Divine Flames like Taishan Laojun’s furnace. But they help as a catalyst for the next part. Probably.”
”Styx. Where all rivers flow. Where all men---”
“Hey, that’s the wrong incantation.”
“Yeah, I REALLY don’t want to use that one.” ...
You interrupt yourself with a sudden, irresistable hacking cough as some dust flies into your throat. All parties look with alarm at the interrupted chant.
“Sorry. Ugh. The Tao sleeps still, its ideals lie dead. Heaven burnt and the celestials fled. From the memories in the ashen fill. Taiqing’s secret: A resurrection pill. Death and life, two states in one. One merely ends while the other begun. Faith twisting nature, fueled by ‘wisdom’. The river flows backwards, flipping the system!”
“ Life and death, yin and yang. Two of one, a porous split! Vapors of Lethe, a Misty blight! Fill these lost souls with Taoist thought! Binds of Acheron, chains of pathos! Call their minds back, reverse their fate!”
… [x] Wow, that magical logic wasn’t absurdly painful at all.
“Well yeah, those Taoists don’t really think of death as a problem, it’s just a thing that happens like sleeping, so simply forgetting being dead and guiding your soul back in, ala waking up, can port somebody back to life. Piggybacking off of their belief system with the faint knowledge we got from that memory fragment in that old gun is more than sufficient with our techniques. Ha, why were we so worried about that again? We’re literally Jesus!”
[x] If that is so easy though, why don’t more Taoists come back to life?
“Because body preservation and medicine sucked back then, so they can’t restore corpses to a viable state. You know how Miko and Futo both needed to use phylacteries to preserve themselves? Plus the gods of the dead don’t like it. And most importantly there’s that big river between life and death that exists in all belief systems, but we stole the knowledge from somebody who crossed it easily, so…”
[x] I don’t think that guy actually ever died, just astral projected excessively.
“Huh. Pretty sure that was why we had the opportunity to beat the knowledge out of that stupid beggar initially. It’s kind of fuzzy though so I can’t remember.”
[x] So they can’t cross over the river. We still do not have that knowledge. We merely faked it in their minds.
“The ritual’s succeeding, so they obviously did somehow. I can tell they’re tengu souls, at least. Probably some thread left over.”
[x] Let me check...those souls look weird?
“That is queer. Misshapen and bloated too, looks kind of like some carcass washed up---GAMATO! CUT THE RITUAL, NOW!’”
[x] It’s already done. Ritual’s complete. Too late. Rip in Pepperonis. What, did we pull a Pet Semetary?
“Yes...I think we did. We did not pull them OVER the river. We pulled them THROUGH the river! They were Sergeant Narisawa and Corporal Sadao alright. Emphasis on the ‘were’, as whatever’s here is analogous to a body being dragged through a concrete wall by a chain winch: mangled and broken.”
[x] YOU SAID THERE WAS GOING TO BE A BACKLOG ON HIGAN’S SHORE!
“WELL APPARENTLY WE DIDN’T KILL ENOUGH PEOPLE!”
[x] Panic and dump responsibility?
“Do we have another choice?”
[X] Probably not.
As the flowers begin to droop and the leaves begin to wilt on the byproduct of your hackneyed resurrection, you quickly incant, “Flames of Phlegethon. Hew off the chains, between the returned and I.”
As you stumble backwards and fall onto your rear, you find some sliver of strength left to weakly call out, “Guard Captain Inubashiri...you promised to take responsibility for what happens next...am I not mistaken?”
“A commander must take responsibility for their subordinates.” Momiji gasps out as she leans onto her sword. “What you did were directly my orders. It’s the Binding Chain invoked through my shield.”
“Good. Because I’m not taking responsibility for what happens next...” Struggling to take a knee, you feel a rough, scaly hand grab your shoulders and heave you upwards, giving you a good look at what happens next.
The vegetation crumbles and falls apart, the residual life force bleeding off. Two wolf tengu, one man and one woman, still clad in their bloodstained armor, slowly crawl out of the dead plant matter. You morbidly note that Narisawa had her entire head blown off, judging based on the dried gore around her upper body, while Sadao had a giant hole put in his torso given the absence of clothing in that area. Not noticeable anymore, of course, as the stolen life had restored the relevant parts, but you can’t help but be glad that you did not have to see your magic work visually.
Momiji steps back, and raises her shield in a defensive stance. You begin to wonder what having a damaged soul like this implies. Symposium of Post-Mysticism stated that Yoshika reverts to part of her old life when the seal comes off, but that could be just residual memories from a very fresh corpse.
Sadao is the first one to open his eyes. Looks normal, no all-black irises or anything, just the usual blood-red lupine eyes of the wolf tengu. He stares blankly at nothing in particular for a few moments, before standing up fully and opening his mouth as if to speak before making a sudden imperceptible motion.
A shout, a white blur, and the loud clang of metal on metal is all you perceive before you see Momiji struggling with the soldier on the ground, succeeding slowly in wrenching his grasped dagger from his throat. Narisawa seems to get up too, at this point, and without opening her eyes, slowly and awkwardly stumbles over to the fight and puts her hand on Sadao’s shoulder. Her face never changes from a totally blank expression.
“Not yet, my love.” Her words come out in a chilling, hollow echo, with an inhuman tone that best analogy of which you can describe as a person imitating a text-to-speech program. It’s like the hollow tinge in Murasa and Tojiko’s voice ampified tenfold, and more of a complete voice rather than a mere flair. The muscle movements are also disturbingly unnatural, as if somebody is tugging on her facial features from the outside.
Somehow, Awyrgan remains undisturbed through all of this, standing in her humanoid form and watching the scene with joyful interest. Out of the corner of your ear, you hear her mutter, “I wonder how these ones taste...”
“Not yet?” Comes an equally hollow reply from her…”love”? Were they an item? The tengu did not tell you this. Sadao notably does not move at all from his struggle with Momiji as he replies, the same blank expression on his face.
“No. We are still on duty. Guard-Captain, may we be relieved of our duties?” Removing the dirt caked sword from her sheath, she rests it across her throat. “Forgive us for failing in our duties, but this...duty, it is too painful to bear.”
“My lungs breathe, yet I feel only suffocation...” Sadao says.
“...My brain thinks, yet I only conclude pain...” His lover follows.
“...My guts contain, yet I only sense emptiness...”
“...My heart pumps, yet the blood stays still….”
“Hey hey hey, hold on there.“ You interrupt, causing the two revenants to turn their heads towards you...without moving their shoulders. “JESUS CHRIST THAT...I mean, uh, why are you doing the creepy synchronization poetry thing?”
“...Our love is all we can cling, lord...”
“...Our love is all that keeps us sane...”
“Without each other, our souls will be torn asunder...”
“Also Sadao is a poetry freak. I’m...doing my best to...keep...the...link alive. I apologize, my love, I cannot think…...of a next line. My brain...is crumbling.”
Normally such a pattern-breaking line would be hilarious, but the dreadfully artificial tone it was delivered in, coupled by the horrifying stance these revenant tengu are positioned in makes it much less of a joking matter.
“Please...captain, let us...rest. And keep what’s left.”
“Ming!” Momiji screams, sheer terror on her usually stoic face, “What have you done?!”
“Mistakes were made. I TOLD YOU THIS WOULD HAPPEN, YOU KNOW. But in any case this was a Taoist resurrection ritual. Without the safeguards, the ritual, the necessary preparations, the items...you know. Maybe sometimes it works, sometimes the soul comes back after drowning in the Sanzu and can no longer fit their own bodies like these two. Either way, your responsibility now.”
You are then aware of the door opening behind you, and the other wolf tengu rushing it at the loud shouting coming from within, their weapons drawn.
“Halt, stop...oh.” The squad’s sergeant, whose name you did not ask for, lowers her weapon at the sight of her resurrected subordinates. You see the path of her perception as her face first lights up in bliss, then dims as her eyes wander down, and finally twists into abject horror and disgust as she fully sense the state of the resurrectees. “GUARD-CAPTAIN!”
Ignoring the order, the sergeant screams as she raises her naginata and lunges, “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!”
“I said stand down!” Momiji coldly orders as she pushes the revenant off and brings her sword around in a deceptively swift wide arc, smacking the sergeant with the flat end like a paddle and sending her flying back, crashing through a screen door along the way to the tune of some sickening crunches. “This is not the time for a martial challenge. I did what I HAD to. It would have been hypocritical to deny them the same salvation that I was given.”
“Ugh...” You groan. Really? Was that why?
“It was a mistake, yes. But we tried. We had to! Ming, how should we handle this?”
You take a good look at all the wolf tengu gathered on the scene staring at you, even the undead two who turns to look back at you with a glint of interest. Once more, they are counting on you to act.
… [x] NOPE ...
“Nope! I’m not dealing with any ethically complicated questions. You took responsibility. Not me. It’s your problem now, Guard-Captain. Awyri, what do you think?”
“Civilized ethics are an alien concept in mine brain. Civilized taste, however...” She replies, not moving her eyes from the revenants.
“And I choose to ignore such things. Not to mention that this is a tengu-to-tengu issue that we are unqualified to discuss due to cultural differences. See ya back at the Mountain when you’re done with this conundrum.”
Grabbing Awyrgan’s arm and avoiding everyone else’s eyes and actively ignoring Momiji’s protests, you speed walk out of the courtyard. Instinctively you reach out with your other arm and grab Sanae by the collar as she was about to sneak in to the problematic scene, and ignore her protests until you make your way out of the house.
“Ming, what was going on in there that you don’t want me to see, huh?” Sanae loudly complains as she smacks you in the hood with her gohei, sending rice grains all over your head as her divine energy bursts on impact.
“I made a mistake, but it was Momiji’s fault.” You murmur, “Botched resurrection.”
Sanae stops, and gives a nervous chuckle, “What? Did you play puppeteer with their bodies and screw up? Even I cannot duplicate that miracle, much less a non-divine like you.”
“No, I was unable to drag their souls back without damaging them. Momiji got what she ordered me to do...what she wanted me to do. Now it’s her’s and the Tengu Command’s problem.”
“So you’re telling me that YOU TRIED TO BREACH THE BORDER OF LIFE AND DEATH THROUGH BRUTE FORCE?”
“Hey, I SUCCEEDED in breaching the border of life and death through brute force. As long as Momiji does the reasonable thing and orders them to re-kill themselves again the damage should be minimized. Like I said, she ordered me to do this. I could take hits from anything physical, but I. For. Sure. Am. NOT TAKING ANY BLAME!”
Sanae and Awyrgan looks towards you, astonished, “My friend, art thee truly concerned this thoroughly on a mere responsibility issue? Even post thy unwilling combat with all manner of knightly scum?”
“Well I can’t simply bash in the face or get others to bash in the face of responsibility now, can I? That requires things like charisma! And basic social awareness! Both things that I do not trust myself with! I’m only willing to take responsibility when the people who will come after me for it are clearly enemies, not allies or God forbid...neutral parties.”
“Speaking of responsibility.” A rainbow serpent hisses as it slithers into the room, before reasserting itself as your ancestor squatting on a table with closed eyes and a wide smile. “Great job there.”
“Was that sarcastic, grandma?”
“Nope. Hopefully this little controlled calamity you caused will allow the tengu to rethink their entrenched traits from living in a Walled Garden, and give the Guard-Captain some much needed...toughening, and stop asking you, Guo Guo, for miracles in the future. I would not worry too much about the souls themselves. Personality grows back, after all.”
“Does that mean they will begin asking me instead for resurrections?” Sanae worriedly asks, “Because neither I, nor any god in this land, possess enough power to actualize a Lazarus miracle. That Sodom and Gomorrah one is about my limit for now, sadly.”
“Hopefully the fate of their former comrades will dissuade them from that silly illusion. Now then, we have a much bigger issue that you need to decide what to do.”
Gesturing out the window, you see Meiling first point northeast, where a large area of scorched earth, burnt corpses, and the smoldering, rotting remains of a mass of red matter mark Awyrgan’s fun time. Then she gestures east, at the massive mud lake created by Sanae going Biblical, the pits of salt that mark her victims, and the shellshocked Russians making camp at the edge, trying to eat a meal that their strangely unaffected captain and lieutenant are preparing. Finally, she points north, at the large botchy patch of decay that the Garden of the Sun has become.
Oh, and there are random fires burning all over the place. Really puts the whole scene together.
“See, this wouldn’t be an issue if there wasn’t a ‘ceasefire’ going on. And this magnitude of destruction is exactly what neither side can really deny. The enemy will be tossing a lot of hard questions at the Mountain, and from what I could tell, the Mountain really isn’t ready to break it.”
“I thought you and Yanagi planned...”
“What was nominally a mission to extract Chen, who as you probably noticed is not here, as we had Nue escort her to the mountain as soon as Miss Kochiya took out the surrounding firebases. As such, we have a fair justification as the soldiers were under attack beforehand. The three of you, as the distraction team, however, probably have less things to lean on when their negotiators come a-knocking.”
Sanae looks unfazed, “We do negotiate with terrorists. Ming, merely a relatively strong outsider, already took care of their elite guard with a hatchling for aid... ”
“Tis inaccurate, but I appreciate the inferred compliment.”
“...How are they going to win? At all?”
“The Human Village has fallen into their hands.” Comes the matter-of-fact reply from Meiling, “In addition to their total control over the Border and our lack of knowledge on the status of Clear Sky outside means that we can expect endless reinforcements on their part. Also, we’re pretty sure they have a final solution for the Gensokyo problem in progress. I’m not going to be able to remotely puppeteer Ming to fight forever in this scenario.”
Looking at your surprised face, she laughs, “What, did you not notice your sudden combat capability spike? The least I could do for a promising descendant is to Matrix some of my kung-fu into you, you know what I’m saying? At least I know you’ll use it for good reasons…” Her voice drops to an angry murmur, ”...unlike that disappointment He Zi-zhen.”
“That would explain how I was able to fight mid-air...” You disappointedly mutter as the rainbow scale in your head does a little jingle.
Sanae crosses her arms and shrugs, “I still stand by my statement. What I did was just and lawful retaliation. Ming? What are you going to say?”
[ ] Take full responsibility - “I am a rogue agent, not affiliated with the mountain, come at me.” [ ] Do not take full responsibility - [ ] Deny knowledge “Faulty knowledge from command. Must be an agitating party or something. - [ ] Justify intent “I was just protecting my friends when they came under attack for no real reason.” - [ ] Deny involvement “I have no idea what you’re talking about, as you can see here Awyrgan is a moe girl like most youkai and not a fighter jet sized dragon.” - [ ] Zip your mouth closed on this matter.
>>31235 Not really. It's not the same option if he acknowledges to have friends,allies or acted under orders. Taking full responsibility means it was just him and his dragon friend breaking a siege under ceasefire for no valid reason.
[X] Take full responsibility -[X] Deny common sense "We went to play with Yuuka-chan when your boys fired AAMs at us and joined the fun."
“We weren’t associated with the Mountain, we’re just a dragon and her friend out for some fun vacation times. Nothing that happened was planned and all was incidental them firing missiles at us for no good reason.”
“Tis true. These villains are underhanded snapdogs, they know naught of the proper conduct of war, and open fired upon mine form with no provocation. The fault lies upon their conscience.”
“But really, grandma, I doubt it would matter. They have a kill on sight policy for me at this point and what I say would most likely be disregarded, which is probably for the better.”
“Is that so? So you do have a good justification.” Meiling shrugs and sighs, “Seems like your best option is to hope that they will confirm your statements by opening fire as soon as they see you.”
“That doesn’t help me at all.”
“No, but it does help keeping the youkai hostile towards them, which is what we want. Resistance is kept up as the tengu see the enemy unwilling to spare a respected medic, thus buying time for support from the outside and allowing Lady Scarlet leeway and influence to progress her goal in the next few days.”
“Yeah, but I’ll be dead.” You protest, “The aerial battle I just went through was a somewhat pre-planned ambush and they still almost killed me like three times and wrecked my Lunarian armor. I want to be a shield, but a shield needs repairs every so often to remain a shield. Regardless of my powers, grandma, I’m a mostly untrained human, and you said that you can’t possess me forever to fight..”
“A mostly untrained human who has the potential to wipe out teams of heroes.” She gently remarks, stepping down from the table. “And I said I can’t remotely puppeteer you...not that I cannot do so locally.”
“Dear Guoguo, when separate, we struggle to take down even one semi-hero. But when I give my full combat abilities to you, we can make corpses of entire teams of them.” She smiles and extends her hand out, palm up, “As I have mostly ran dry of faith at this point, why don’t we take our partnership to the next level, grandson?”
Before you can react, she moves her hand under your chin and pulls your mouth open. Before you can turn away, a flash of blinding rainbow light disorients your senses. Before you even gasp and choke, the serpent had slithered its way down your throat and into your internals.
Your head grows hot, your muscles twitch and spasm, and you limbs flail with unprecedented rigidity, until settling down into an eerie stillness.
You look up, and in front of you is Meiling’s empty clothes, slumped in a pile of multicolor dust. A foreign heart beats within you, raw and unrefined, but a heart nonetheless.
A voice, distinct from your two internal thoughts, resonates through your brain, tingling and prickly, irrepressible in anyway through its sheer force of filial fear, “There. That should patch up the weaknesses in your body. If only it was this easy for our country. That odd resistance you have to the divine is fascinating, but I think I found a weakness...”
“What?” You think to the not-yourself.
“Fallen gods, like me, are no longer divine. Best to keep that in mind, as I can only act upon your physical body, and not the magical portions.”
“Great. Well then.” You turn around to see Sanae frozen in shock, while Awyrgan’s tail swishes back and forth as she looks at you with her usual curious gaze. Seriously, is this dragon fazed by anything at all?
“Was thy ancestor a delectable treat? Friend?”
“Th-that wasn’t food, that was...”
Sanae snaps out, “By all that is good under the sky, what that really Miss Hong? Was she that...creature that...Oh no, Ming! Are you hurt?”
“Wait what, this is possession right? You of all people should be used to that?”
“That was possession?” Her horrified look betrays no evidence of sarcasm, “Only evil spirits possess like...that...oh...”
You form a thought, but it does not reach your spinal cord. Your mouth moves independently, “What are hated, forgotten gods like me, but mere evil spirits anyway?”
“Do you have to do that?” You tell yourself right after while Sanae turns away on instinct, “Sharing a mouth will get really annoying.”
“I won’t talk much, promise. Really, I plan on using this opportunity to catch up on some sleep that Sakuya deprived me of. You’ll only hear me when you need me. Now...” You hear and simultaneously perform a long, windy yawn.
The voice fades, and again you are left alone in the silence of your own mind.
“My friend,” Awyrgan says in an awfully detached voice as she leans in to your face, “Thy eyes art now the color of sapphire like thy ancestor. Tis glowing with an appealing, valuable shine. Delectable.”
You check in the cabinet mirror in this room. Meiling’s blue pupils do indeed stare back at you from your own eye sockets. You begin to recognize your own face as foreign.
“Eh, could have been worse. I’ve already given up my political and personal autonomy in Gensokyo, might as well give up my bodily integrity as well.“
“Lady Kanako and Lady Suwako never possessed me in such a visceral manner.” Sanae mutters, still somewhat shaken. “Usually you get some faint light, and a projection of their spirits appear alongside you like a Stand or something, but crawling down your throat? That’s...so blatantly evil in appearance.”
“Sanae, you just turned two platoons of living, breathing human beings into salt pillars.” You respond incredulously, “And this is what disturbs you?”
The green-haired protagonist looks confused, “You should be right in some ways, but I still find this more disturbing. Gods are supposed to punish the wicked with fire and lightning after all, but they are not supposed to enter people’s mouths like a horror movie alien creature.”
“You haven’t been studying the Olympians then. Regardless, god or not, Meiling’s action here should help me deal with the upcoming bullshit. Lets go.”
“Grab my clothes for me, would you kindly?”
You head out the front door of the Yakumo residence with the two girls in tow. It’s evening, but since it’s summer the afternoon sun is still shining brightly over the smoldering landscape visible over the surrounding treetops.
“Hoy there!” You turn to see Castor shouting from his chained position under a tree...wait, did he recover from that stunt this fast? “You mind telling us what’s going on?”
“How the hell...”
“I am tougher than I may appear,” He cheerfully laughs, even with the noticeable scar on his neck, “Despite lacking the Lux’s questionable “blessings”. But may I ask why the normally cautious wolves have neglected to keep watch over me? Is the area under attack?”
“No, but they are running towards an moral issue I’m determined to stay away from. Damn, Awyri, unchain them would ya?”
“No need.” The ex-paladin breathes in, and in a burst of golden light, the chains break apart. Grabbing his still unconscious sister over his shoulder, he walks over, “Let us be off. Oh, Lady Kochiya, you’re coming with us?”
“Of course, Sir Pyrus.” Sanae enthusiastically replies as she helps him with the carry. You frown, this guy got Sanae to act friendly with him in just an hour? There is after all, still a possibility of betrayal from him.
As Awyrgan shifts back and the lot of you climb onto her back, you notice that she does not bother restraining the prisoners any more. You also notice that, over the course of this one day, she had gradually grown from the size of a large horse to the size of a fighter jet, an entity able to comfortably take on all of the passengers without batting an eye.Though given the sheer quantity of matter she intaked, it really should not be surprising.
“We’re heading back to Youkai Mountain. Hang on tight. Oh, how’s your sister? You’ve been asking for medical attention for her, but we did not have an opportunity to remove her armor yet.”
“Stable, thanks to the holy armor’s capabilities, but only so much. You battered her internals quite a bit, and Miss Fujiwara certainly did not help,” Castor sighs as Awyrgan locks everyone in and takes off, four exhausted or worse humans seated on her back. “She would only survive for a few minutes at best if the armor comes off.”
“I’ll handle it,” Comes Sanae’s offer, “I can perform several healing miracles if you don’t want Ming’s anti-divinity all over your sis. Just give me a couple of hours to freshen up my body.”
“Thank you, Lady Kochiya.” The ex-paladin bows, “You have not...will not change much in personality...hmm? Lady Awyrgan. We need to stop for a moment.”
The dragon rears up and airbrakes as the knight drops his voice for no real reason. “I’m getting a familiar feeling. A good one before, a bad one now. Can we get some close-up visuals on that temple near the top?”
“Moriya? Sure.” You turn on your Hunter’s Module, slightly cracked at this point, and zoom in to the building. “Looks normal…” Your eyes are then suddenly filled with red, ”aaaand the energy-based threat detection blob is covering my screen. I’m blind.”
“Tis a queer feeling, Mr. Pyrus. ” The dragon remarks, “I feel fear, even within the presence of mine friend and all of you, and with no challengers in my sight.”
“It’s Rigel of the Seven. He’s in the temple.” Castor says, nervous. “I highly recommend not arriving at our destination. Anywhere else, really, just not there.”
“He’s just a big hero, right?” You ask, “And he’s not going to start a fight on the Mountain, is he?”
“No...but he doesn’t need to. Hold on, let me try hiding our presence. Let me go for a moment.” The scale restraints detach, and he stands up before dropping into a crouch, holding his arms to his chest in some sort of a praying pose. “Spirits of the Air, Souls of man. Blind their eyes, senses hidden.”
A sort of distortion in the air forms, surrounding you in faint crackles of golden energy that quickly blacken into an impenetrable sphere of darkness.You flail around in the darkness a bit, before Awyrgan’s scales light up with streaks of plasma, illuminating the area.
“There, looks like there’s quite a bit of hope in this land. Alright,” He removes a bracelet from his wrist, fiddles around with it somewhat until it levitates off of his palm and rearranges itself into a square screen with a holographic image hovering in the middle.
“WHOA! That is so cool! Not even the kappa have gotten that far!” Sanae gasps in delight as she stares at the gadget, “If humans in the future get to do that with devices that small, I wouldn’t mind living then!”
The look Castor gives her is one of pure disapproval, “No, no you don’t. For starters, strawberries and many other basic foodstuffs have gone extinct, and outside of the wealthy countries, starvation was the rule prior to the war. After the war began, it was violence and starvation,” The knight sighs as he pulls up the model of the head of a man, seemingly around thirty, with blond hair and sharp eyes, “This is Rigel of the Seven. One of the individuals chosen directly by the Lux Pacifica and current leader of this remnant Savior shard. I guess I should have info-dumped all of this sooner. The Seven were the leaders in the resistance against the Violet Tyrant’s new world order, with the stated goal of not allowing humanity to become degraded and ruled over by monsters.”
“I figured that’s what you guys were going for given the accusations leveled at me.” You remark.
“The Seven were nominally equal, but there was a clear distinction in their roles. Rigel, for instance, is generally listed last, and serves the role of strategist and governmental ruler over the Savior-aligned portion of the world.” Zooming the hologram out, you see that the man is massive, even outside of his armor, “They all agree that he is the weakest of the Seven in combat, and that he should stay out of direct fighting to lend his wisdom and insight from the backline.”
You take a gander at the weapon he is leaning on, “Huh, a hammer-wielder, like us.”
“Unfortunately, though he does not use it that often.”
Sanae nods, “So, he’s the Caster class out of the seven summoned heroes then?”
“My name, a class, wha--Oh, CastEr. No, Kentaurus is the one who specializes in pure magic, if that’s what you meant. Odd choice of wording.” Castor continues while Sanae shrugs at the missed, or perhaps long-forgotten, reference, “But don’t worry about him, he’s dead, along with four others. The only other living one is Arcturus, considered the fourth best fighter of the seven, and as far as I know he fell out with Rigel after the others died, and I have no clue as to his actions afterwards, only that he took the majority of the remnant forces.”
Five of the Seven are dead? You let out a sigh of relief, at least for now you don’t have to worry about that many more Exalted-esque heroes massacring you.
“So we’re hiding from a mere tactician? Gragh!” Sanae snarls, anger and irritation across her face, “Let’s just go and SMITE him already!”
“Not to doubt your abilities, Lady Kochiya, but let me finish my explanation: The Seven are directly empowered by the closest equivalent to a omniscient god’s manifestation in millenia. He can slaughter every single youkai in Gensokyo at the moment by himself, and take on his own Companions one against fifty and come up on top. This also illustrates just how much the Violet Tyrant’s forces, including all of you, grew over the next two centuries into something that killed these heroes. He is not a sword swinging warrior, though he can still do it perfectly well. He’s a king, a statesman, and a thinker. He can determine your capabilities and flaws at a glance, formulate a plan to subdue you, and carry out that plan within seconds. As long as he has access to his baseline miracles from the Lux, he really cannot lose.”
“So how did we win then? Bullshit?”
“How did you think the war killed over a billion people? You had---will have, similar tacticians on your side as well, which resulted in the war lasting more than a full decade. Pure, horrendous insanity. Also remember I wasn’t on your side. I do not know exactly how you isolated and killed five of the Seven, but your side won. At a horrible cost, but you won. In the face of something like this, I recommend that you find some other place to wait.”
“Oh no. No no no. We’re not running. I’m not leaving my home today just because some guy with a hero-complex decides to visit. It’s not right.” Sanae argues, “Ming, we’re going back. If this Rigel wants to push his luck by stepping into the heart of our territory, I, at least, am going to tell him he’s not welcome. I doubt he’ll go as far as to kill me in front of the whole mountain.”
“I wouldn’t be too sure about that. He’s getting...unstable, to say the least, mostly since five of his friends are dead. Good for your side.”
“My friend.” Awyrgan interjects, “This talk is becoming tiresome, are you proceeding to follow Sir Pyrus’s advice or Lady Kochiya’s?”
[ ] Into the typhoon, we’re going to confront, hopefully in a civil manner, the leader behind all this [ ] Divert your course, we’re going to die if something goes wrong
[x] Divert your course, we’re going to die if something goes wrong
We just said we wanted to be a shield but if "Murderer #1" shows up with a guy of the seven that definitely, DEFINITELY knows who we are and knows the threat that both MC and Awyri represent, he might be willing to strike first.
There's no reason to show ourselves and also implicate Moriya with our presence, especially after the pains we've kinda gone through to try to keep up the semblance of "not tied together". I'd also like to make sure our ex-Paladin friends are not seen consorting with us, who knows what safe-guards could've been put in their armor.
[x] Divert your course, we’re going to die if something goes wrong [x] Sanae, can’t you speak to your patrons? “MING!”
“Look, Sanae, none of us are in fighting condition. If Rigel so much as sneezes at us it’s game over. Come to think of it, can’t you use the bond with your gods to see what’s going on?”
She seems to tense up, then shrugs, “They’ve probably figured out about my little killing spree already though. But fine. Sir Pyrus, lower the stealth field. Awyrgan, fly away from the mountain.”
As you execute the aforementioned tactical retreat. Sanae puts her hair ornaments back on, and begins praying. “Lady Kanako, Lady Suwako, if you can hear my voice, please respond.”
You see the traces of light converging to form an image, much like how you’d expect a god to appear in spirit. The image coalesces into a long, slender shape.
A sword that flies straight at you and spears you in the chest.
“Oh look at that, I’ve been impaled.” You blankly state as you feel absolutely nothing while the purely divine projectile dissipates. “Sanae?”
She stares at you, half apologetic and half confused, “That wasn’t supposed to happen.”
“Rigel’s interfering with the divine energy in that area, being a massive battery of it himself.” Castor states in a seemingly calm tone that is undermined by his visible shaking, “ He saw us during that prayer, but good thing we didn’t get far yet. Milady Awyrgan, if you would randomwalk please.”
“What?” Sanae shouts in disbelief? “He’s strong enough of a hero to intercept the prayers between me and my goddesses!”
“Aren’t you glad we didn’t go in face-first?” You remark.
Awyrgan flattens her wings and the traces of energy under her scales glow brighter as she begins a complex random flight path over Gensokyo.
“I really like how he threw an attack at the one person it wasn’t going to affect,” You say, with a shiver as you realize what would have happened if he did that against Awyrgan.
“Like I said, master tactician, but in the process of breaking down.” Rigel sighs, then suddenly sits up straight in alarm as he notices a red glow coming from his sister’s armor. “Oh, oh no. Ming, you promised to get my sister treatment, right? Get us that, now!”
You grit your teeth. “Awyri, remember Eientei?”
“Doth thee doubt mine memory?”
“No, get us there, now!”
She flips around and begins heading straight for the Bamboo forest. You turn around to check on the turncoats, “What’s wrong, did something happen?”
“That link also allowed him to remotely excommunicate our blessed armor. She’s going to die in the next hour or so without treatment.”
“I’M SORRY!” Sanae cries, “I...I didn’t mean to, I just...”
“Chill.” You pat her on the shoulder as Awyri plunges straight into the bamboo thicket, “We’ve got somebody who can cross Gensokyo in a few minutes, time isn’t an issue. AND she somehow knows where Eientei is without a guide.”
“Tis simple, really. Magnetic disorientation works naught on a beast such as I, so suffused and and shimmering with the regular movement of molten metal. I shall land within their courtyard and...tis that...”
She swerves sharply out of the way as a circle of brightly shining pale orbs surround her, before bursting apart into a spray of blue bullets, rather pretty against the setting sun in the distance. As you struggle to regain orientation, you then notice something coming from behind, something big and flaming.
She barely dodges out of the way of a crumbling piece of spacecraft, which looked to be a replica of a Lunar landing module, as it streaks passed you and dispersed into silvery magical residue. Residue which is quickly cleared by a hail of arrows flying towards you. Non-magical arrows, but they are coming unusually fast.
Awyrgan batters them aside with her wings with ease. “Thou depleted of swords, foe?”
An explosion rings out to your right, ringing your ears and dimming your vision for a moment. You turn, and dumbly note for a moment that half of Awyrgan’s right wing has been blown off, smoldering silver.
You then notice that you are falling, and subsequently the feeling of restraints on your legs disappearing as Awyrgan disintegrates, reverting into her mana-light humanoid form as she falls. Turning around, you see Castor grab ahold of his sister, and try futilely to activate the defunct wings on her back.
Without a moment’s hesitation, you throw the broken wings you were carrying to him. As the knight catches them on reflex and his divine energy suffuse the device, he looks at you with a mix of gratitude and sadness as you wave at him with a smile, falling down to earth with no armor protecting you.
And then not one second later Sanae snatches you up, before diving down and grabbing the unconscious Awyrgan up with her other hand. You smile wider as the knight shakes his head.
“Well that was expected. I knew that Gensokyean heroes are strong enough to fly and carry people even when exhausted!”
“Eh...I can’t. You two are pretty heavy.”
Looking at the movement of the bamboo leaves, you see that you are still losing altitude. Slower, but still losing altitude at an unpleasant pace.
You then look down and see the ground rising up to greet you for the third time today. Your smile goes away.
“FUCKING DAMN IT WE’RE---” You are interrupted by Sanae’s erratic descent smashing you into a bamboo stalk.
Eventually the three of you come to a abrupt, but not too much so, stop on the forest floor. Face-first. You spit out a mouthful of leaves as you roll around and stare up. Awyrgan is still out cold with a broken wing, and Sanae is groaning in pain in a fetal position after crashing into a stalk like you did.
Angry voices can be heard coming from a steadily closer source, and you look up to see a woman with almost feet length black hair and the white-robed assassin Tsuki no Iwakasa shouting at Eirin, who is unusually nonplussed. Her hair’s undone and her clothes are dirty, and she looks as if she hadn’t slept in days. Your ears are still ringing, so you can’t tell what they are saying in Japanese. Your vision is similarly blurry.
A pink shape looms over you, with a blacking topping and white ears. You then feel a stinging pain in your right arm, as Tewi grins at you and shows you what looks to be a two pronged hypodermic needle. The pain then fades away, along with the rest of the exhaustion in your body.
“...I told you!...Friendly fire!...”
“...at least...be sure...”
You struggle up to see Tewi patch up the other two on the ground. Needle into Sanae’s arm, needle out of Sanae’s arm. Needle into Awyrgan’s....needle snaps.
“At least you did not kill your own employee, Eirin.” An unfamiliar voice says, “Just let Iwakasa go on watch next.”
“Princess, I’m sorry, but I can’t...”
“Focus your attention on cleaning up the mess you made, Eirin. Shooting down our allies is not good form and not your usual style.” Judging by the formal Japanese and assertive tone, the other voice must be Kaguya.
Somebody helps you up, “Kiddo, you have got to stop getting yourself into these situations. Wait, are you actually conscious?”
“Whaaat, we didn’t exactly make a very hard landing.” You grumble as you pretend that you didn’t lose all feeling in your legs.
“As the person responsible for this accident,” You turn to see Eirin, with dark circles under her eyes and a genuine look of depressed confusion on her face, “I sincerely---”
“Eirin...” The woman that you now recognize as...damn, she is very pretty without the warbeast goo over her, the game art and even the best fanart you’ve seen fail at doing her justice...Kaguya Houraisan nudges her companion.
The doctor dutifully bows deeply, “I sincerely apologize for opening fire without provocation or checking the target.”
“Me and Sanae are probably fine. It’s Awyrgan you need to apologize to.” You answer as you walk over to the motionless dragon. Holding her up, you check her neck for a pulse, only realize the fault in your reasoning when you feel unfamiliar writhing movement under her humanoid facade “Yeah, that shot didn’t kill her, what spellcard was that?”
“It was not a spellcard. That was a purely physical shot from my daikyu.” You notice that Eirin is holding a variant of the all-metal bow you saw earlier in Eientei’s archery range, “Her name is Awyrgan? Who is this girl?”
“The Lowe-model tank that was acting unusually friendly to me.” You say has you pick her off the ground, quite easily even without armor as metal tends to be lighter than bone and water, “Turned out to be an incubating western dragon, as you can see by the wings, the tail, and the scales that serve as clothing. Hmm...doesn’t feel like she lost much energy at all...Awyri, are you awake?”
“Princess...I smell the scent of...princesses...” She groans, a bit of sizzling drool leaking from the side of her lips. You sigh in relief. Some metal and she’ll probably be as good as new.
A ruffling sound comes from the leaves above, then a soft *puft* as the brown skinned defector lands onto the ground with his sister cradled in his arms. “Null Fi--Ming, is this where your promised medical facility is located?”
“Oh right. Lady Yagokoro, I will accept your apology if you are willing to restore the person in that armor...”
“Done.” Eirin asks with just a cursory glance made. “Mortal organ trauma, skull fracture, multiple spinal dislocations. Tewi, prep the Blessed Water Vessel. Stranger, if you would carry your wounded sister and follow the rabbit...”
“How...” You begin to ask, when Castor walks by you and mutters, “This is what I meant by intelligences that won the war for your side.”
Eirin clears her throat, “Now, if you need anything else, ask anybody else. Again, I am sincerely sorry for this incident. I do however, have work to do.” Saying all of that with a very insincere tone, she then turns around and quickly walks back into Eientei.
“I did not know Eirin acts like that after almost killing three innocent people.” Sanae complains as Iwakasa helps her off the ground, “It doesn’t seem her style, right Ming?”
You suppress the urge to correct her assumptions on this one. “Yeah, probably. Eirin did order me to not come back.”
“Ah, forgive me. I had forgotten to thank you for risking your life to help me out earlier.” Kaguya says as she gives you a deep bow, her ridiculously long hair somehow not touching the ground in the process, “Mr. Wu Ming.”
“I was just doing my job.” You slightly bow in return, “My pleasure to meet you while conscious, Lady Houraisan. Say, Lady Yagokoro appears rather unfazed about me being back here.”
“That was before you three collectively vaporized a hundred or so of their people, and the incident of thy Hunter Module feeding data of multiple lesser-god level hostiles and a single monstrosity on par with Great Amaterasu herself” Kaguya looks worriedly at Eirin in the distance, who had just shut the door to the main building, “She has been trying to reconstruct a weapon capable of slaying heroes of that caliber. It has not been positive for her health....she has already committed suicide multiple times to refresh her body.
Ignoring Sanae’s and your shocked expressions, she continues, “Regardless, as she has not raised any objections to you disregarding an order, I will permit you to rest here for a while if you do not attract undue attention.”
“You mean crashing a dragon into this area isn’t attracting undue attention?”
“If they wish to seek you, they will succeed with their copied Lunarian technology. The reason why they have retreated, judging by your exoskeleton and Hunter Module’s data according to Eirin, was that they did not wish to keep wasting lives. As far as we can discern from their troop movements, after the attack three hours ago they seem to be content on avoiding you. As the situation for now is an eye in the storm, you may be guests at Eientei for now.”
“So dinner?” Sanae grumbles along with her stomach, “Miracles take a lot of energy.”
“Of course. We’ll set aside some metal for the dragon as well when she wakes up.”
“Princess...two? Two princesses...” Awyrgan is beginning to exude smoke out of her nostrils as well.
“Are you sure about that?”
“We can handle a western drake,” Kaguya smiles as several rabbits come over to carry the unconscious anti-princess off. Sanae, seeing that the situation has been handled, rushes off into Eientei, you are about to follow her when Kaguya tugs on your ragged sleeves.
“Mr. Wu, Udongein wants to see you.”
Your brain does a little twitch, “What?! She tried to kill me last time!”
“She is preparing to apologize, hence the request. Aside from that, judging by your combat data, I find it difficult to believe that she could do so even if she tried. I shall remain nearby, if that will put you at ease.”
She does a stereotypical head tilt and smile at the end, which causes you to avert your eyes lest you show some emotion. It’s beautiful, even for you, but rather detached.
After all the crap you ground through today, she is probably right in that case. You follow Kaguya back into Eientei and its spacious Japanese corridors and thick odor of bamboo and herbs. After passing by several familiar areas, you stand in front of a door simply labelled with ‘Reisen’, etched into the wood.
“Udongein! You have been wanting to see a Wu Ming?”
Silence, and then the door slowly slides open open with nobody visible immediately inside the darkened room. Kaguya gently ushers you in, before shutting the door behind you.
Slowly your eyes adjust to the darkness. To the right of you there is a dim, covered light. You slowly walk over, careful not to trip or to bump into anything. As you get closer you realize that it is a large lump of something, covered by a blanket made to emulate the American flag.
“You’re here.” A pair of rabbit ears emerge from the blanket, and then the rest of Reisen emerges like a snake, crawling on the ground, her voice oddly detached and empty. “Wu Ming.”
“So, er, why do you want me here? Are you in the middle of something?”
“Just a bit of remembrance treatment for me.” You notice an astronaut’s helmet and an opaque sack buried in the blanket. “I wanted you here so I can apologize for my insane actions a few days ago, not with platitudes, but with some forbidden info.”
“Master did not wish for you to know this, but currently she is distracted and I have waveproofed this room. Sight and sound do not pass that door.”
“Can you turn on the lights then?”
A light whir, and the soft glass lamp in the room flare to life. You can see now that Reisen’s room is furnished in a quite comfy manner. A padded armchair next to a sleek, modern looking desk made of polished wood, next to a thick futon that she is currently on. The cabinet, closet, and other assorted furniture are well-designed with a curved feel and layers of embroidered cloth.
“Nice room. So, what is this forbidden information you speak of?” You sit down next to her, “I’m rather excited.”
“A severe aberration in your medical report when we salvaged you from the missile impact.” She slides open a drawer, and pulls out some papers from the bottom of the stack within. “Here’s the full copy if you want to read it, but other than minor prior weight issues, everything else was normal save for the aberration.”
Reisen lowers her eyes, “Under both the mundane and magical sensors, you looked normal, like any human would after suffering severe force trauma and burns, but then Lady Yagokoro decided to have a look at you herself out of interest at your alleged drug resistance, she wore a set of frozen lenses crafted by Suijin herself from the deepest water in the sea, and saw...she saw what appeared to be a human corpse, in an unnaturally stalled state of putrefaction consistent with three weeks of decay. This did not change after you were healed.”
“That...that makes no sense.” You say as you pull on your own skin, bewildered. “Here, touch me! Do I feel like a dead body? That literally makes no sense! Even in Gensokyo!”
“This is why we hid this from you, as even for Master, this was a novel problem. However,” Reisen opens another drawer, removes a glasses case and hands it to you, “Here is a pair of goggles with those lenses implanted. What you will see is..grotesque, to say the least.”
You put them on and turn to the mirror. A rotting, maggot hole-ridden effigy of yourself stares back, making you gag slightly and avert your eyes on instinct from the implication of disease. Across your upper body, dotted across your arms and torso, are oddly lively blood vessels pumping...something across your body. You trace a hand across them, and feel the line of a painless burn scar. At their intersections, where you feel the iron card’s clearest imprints, you can see human hearts...no, fragments of something that once was a heart, beating with regular rhythm.
You turn to look at Reisen, and see no difference on her.
“Master did not see any difference in you with just her own eyes, so whatever form of glamour you have on you, it is something only penetrable by divine forces dedicated to some form of truesight like Suijin. I cannot see anything wrong with you either, regardless of how I manipulate the wavelengths into my eye.”
“This makes no sense, at all.” You repeat. “By no other metric am I anywhere near dead. Though...those iron cards being body parts of a magical or divine being of some sort makes sense since they directly gave me control over spells I never learned.”
“About those powers, Ming.” Reisen perks up, “Have you gotten any sort of new memories in your brain? Some spontaneously occurring information?”
“Ugh...other than distant internal dialogue that is no different from mild schizophrenia? I had an adversal feeling to some old iron arquebus Lord Tenma had shown me...oh, and when I decided to violate the bodies of two tengu soldiers, I started adding invocations about some rivers to my ‘spell’ casts...Greco-Roman underworld rivers, I think, like Cocytus and Acheron. Dunno why, I thought I just improvised on the spot.”
Reisen remains silent for some time, fidgeting in her seat, before timidly asking, “...That sounds like either repressed memories resurfacing, or implanted memories taking effect. While a certain Lady Komeiji would be ideal in resolving this issue, in her absence, I can massage your brain to unlock them.”
You stare at her glowing red eyes, “Will it hurt?”
“Not as much as what I did to you already.”
“Go for it then,” You declare as you lean in to her, “It’s not like I have anything to hide.”
Reisen breathes in, and her eyes blink in a rapid strobing pattern. Your vision slowly fades in to the red and your other senses dull, before all becoming overwhelmed. As you fade out, you hear the rabbit whisper.
“Lunatic Red Eyes: Mind Inversion”
2016, April 12
You crack the door open and peak in to the sunlit office.
“Professor, what did you call me here today for? I wasn’t aware of any ongoing experiments.”
“Ah, Zhenguo, have a seat, close the door behind you please.” You dutifully close the door and pull up a chair in front of the smiling professor, “I just wanted to chat a bit about your records, that’s all.”
“Geez, ” You pretend to scratch an itch on your neck while giving a large, sheepish smile, “My attendance hasn’t been good, hasn’t it?”
“No, no, no. Not your academic records.”
“Then what?” You ask, confused, “My job record, criminal record? I’m pretty sure they are all clean as a whistle.”
“Not...exactly.” The man in front of you sighs as he takes off his glasses, “You see, not all records are written down, per say…”
“C’mon, that’s the very definition of records, what is this, a trick question?”
“July 4, 2004.” His smile remains even as his tone drastically lowers, “You lit a bundle of Roman candles in front of a cage of rabbits, burning them alive.”
You smile as well, but only because you are too shocked to change expressions.
“February 13, 2007. You shot and killed a stray cat and her kittens with a pellet gun while they were sleeping in a box. November 25, 2008. You caught a fox and gouged out his eyes before removing each limb while he was alive...”
“Those are just animals nobody will miss...”
“January 9, 2013. You beat a homeless man over the head with a baseball bat after he begged you for money. He died of the wounds that same night...”
“NOBODY WOULD MISS THAT USELESS SHITSTAIN!” You yell as you stand up, having lost all control. The professor just keeps smiling.
“May 14, 2015. While visiting family in China, you lured a lost, dirty looking child into an alleyway, where you strangled her to death because you felt like it was fun. Do you have another excuse for me to keep reciting your crimes?”
You sit in silence, stewing in in disbelief and anger, for a few moments, “You can’t prove this...YOU CAN’T!”
“Oh but I can.” Spinning around in his chair, he turns on the TV and begins flipping through videos. There, in grainy looking CCTV footage, is a recording of you and that feeble wretch in that alley. You watch with horror as your recorded avatar throws the child onto the ground, shoves her face into a puddle of mud, and grasps her neck for three whole minutes until the child finally stops flailing.
“Wu Zhenguo, do note that there are beings watching you, even when there are no cameras to be seen. And don’t try to attack me.” He sharply kicks you under the desk as you feel for your pocketknife. “It will not help.”
“So what do you want? Money? Or do you want to punish me for my crimes to fulfill your sick desires?” You grit out.
“Calling justice a sick desire. Colorful. But no, the material and physical do not concern me. Though you cannot see, Mr. Wu, I am exhausted of my repetitive existence, and an utterly despicable monster like you, would make an excellent shell to bear my burden.”
You turn and run backwards, only to slam face-first into a closed door. Trying the handle, you find with horror that it has been covered by some odd black sphere, that your hands cannot breach.
“I do not need your life or property. I need everything else. Wraiths of Acheron, the woeful horde. Hear my Call. Obey my will.”
Sickly, faintly glowing hands emerge without warning from behind his desk, grasping your limbs and dragging your prone form to the center of the room. You shake some off, only for your limbs to suddenly go dead, and for you to see the same black spheres on the handle covering them. You try to scream, but your lips go numb as well.
“The Ice of Cocytus, such wonderful tools to stop movement. Now,” His smile finally goes away as he produces a large hunting knife from under his coat, “This won’t hurt, honest: Flames of Phlogiston, Hew and renew.”
Some pink energy effuses the blade as it stabs down into your chest. But even as it tears apart your shirt and cuts a deep, heavily bleeding gash in you, you feel no pain even as you struggle to scream with no mouth.
“Don’t bother struggling, fella. It won’t help. ” He then turns the knife in upon himself and does the same to his own chest. Grunting as he bends his ribcage outwards, he reaches in and slowly tears out his own...heart? It looks oddly dead and rotten, but is pulsating far more than what a heart should be, so much that it looks as if it is about to jump out of his hand at any moment.
“Fortunately I replaced my ribs with metallic substitutes. Unfortunately for you though.” His voice grows faint as he reaches into your chest cavity and begins snapping out ribs, all while you scream silently from the sight and the lack of sensation. Tossing them aside like discarded machining fragments, he then tears out your heart, tosses it aside, and plops his own in. “Hew, hew, hew… that should do the trick. ”
It is at this point that you suddenly shift perspective into a third-person one.
“It’s not beating...aw crap. Fecking...I killed him, didn’t I. Call!” Your perspective then gets jerked back into first-person, but in a blurry, abstract sort of way. “Damnation. Well, good enough. Don’t really need him to be alive anyway. Vapors of Lethe, dust of thought. Rise as Mist, twist the minds. Revert the end. Born anew”
You fade, every part of you. Your memories become undone, chopped up into little pieces, and glued back together. Your mind dulls even further than the numbness of death, and the delights, the values...all, who are you again? What are you again?”
“You are Wu Zhenguo, a perfectly normal if cold person. You value no life, not even your own, but will defend others for personal reasons. There, shouldn’t be too much of a difference that they can tell. Now, to make you last until the handoff is complete after I goad you there: Styx, where all rivers flow. Styx, where all lives end. Let your waters consume this body. Let your embrace blind the gods….”
You fade out completely.
~~~~~~~~~ “Ha, ha, Zhenguo, you alive?”
“Whaa…?” You look up and see the counter in front of you laden with bottles, a rough hand slaps you on the back.
“You were jabbering on about how you wanted to visit Japan just to see if some fairy land is real. Ha ha ha! You had way too much to drink, seeing how you passed out for a little bit there.”
Seeing the smiling faces of your professor and school mates around you, you remember that silly thing you’ve been mulling over and how you blurted it out after you tongue was loosened by three bottles of vodka.
“Hey Zhenguo, don’t I recall you passing out after one glass of wine!” One of the freshmen calls out from down the bar as he admires the evidence of your bar tab, “Wow, how did you stay up for that much?”
“Practice and a bit of conditioning, ain’t that the pie?” Your professor laughs as he pats your back again.
“What are you saying,” You sigh, a bit annoyed, “I’ve always been like this, Professor Conner.”
You remember some of it now.
Your false memories falter, and the memories of your old self resurfaces. You remember the delight of the killings that still cast a shadow on your feelings now. You see your past self through the fragments of a broken TV screen. And it absolutely disgusts you.
From his lack of professionalism and pride.
What purpose is there mutilating, torturing, and killing small, entrapped animals? They cannot flee, they cannot fight back, and the world doesn’t care if they die or not.
Similarly, what purpose is there stalking and murdering vagrants, street orphans and wandering mental cases? You spit at your past image. They are already suffering, to which someone as heartless as you could say that death is a mercy for them. The world had already turned its back to them, and does not care if they die or not. In fact, given how everyone else treats them, you could say that murdering them is even conforming to society’s will.
SO WHY? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? There are so many...so many others out there. Gutter scum in suits and ties. Feces piles in uniforms and peaked caps. Glittering gold, silver and bronze covering utter filth that preen and mince among the world’s crust, stomping on those below.
All ripe for the taking, but your past self did not have that ambition and contented himself on the blood of the weak and cheap.
Your true memories, your true self, are all similarly worthless.
Your jerk awake.
“Ming? You passed out.”
“It worked.” Your recovery time from trances and unconsciousness is almost zero at this point. “Thanks. I really mean it.”
“So,” Reisen had begun curling back into her blanket. “Wanna share what you remembered?”
“How I was trash. Also who to go find for more answers.”
“Don’t you want to elaborate?” Once again, long waves bombard your brain, and you slowly back away from the rabbit.
“No thanks, it’s not a savory tale, nor is it something I really want people to know.”
The waves cease as Reisen edges closer, still wrapped in the blanket, “I will tell you my secret if you tell me yours.”
[ ] I’ll trade your story for what I’ve got so far. Secrets shared are friendships made. [ ] Let’s keep our stories to ourselves. Secrets shared are liabilities made.
[x] I’ll trade your story for what I’ve got so far. Secrets shared are friendships made. -[x] ...But your master has to hear this. Sooner rather than later.
Let's not ignore the matter of somebody LURING US HERE TO HAND US OFF TO SOMEBODY while we're under their employ. And from the looks of it, we might seriously need their help to not die to someone that had enough power to use ridiculous magical bullshit, and in the outside world no less.
>>31262 > unnaturally stalled state of putrefaction consistent with three weeks of decay. > A rotting, maggot hole-ridden effigy of yourself stares back, making you gag slightly and avert your eyes on instinct from the implication of disease. Putrefaction is a result of various protein breaking down makes sense, though I find it strange that flies could apparently see and lay eggs in the dead body. Three weeks is an odd number too, though she said 'stalled' not 'stopped.' Does that mean he will eventually fall apart? Considering the rotting started in 2016, and its currently 2017(?), that's 3 weeks of rot per year. Theoretically, it may be a good idea to guzzle some embalming fluids and the like to be a dry mummy rather than a slow-mo rotting corpse.
>You are Wu Zhenguo, a perfectly normal if cold person. You value no life, not even your own, but will defend others for personal reasons. >What purpose is there . . . etc The objective given to him by mystery man is only to 'defend others', nothing to do with the 'purpose' of violence. > There are so many...so many others out there. Gutter scum in suits and ties. Feces piles in uniforms and peaked caps. Glittering gold, silver and bronze covering utter filth that preen and mince among the world’s crust, stomping on those below. Seems like he has an innate desire to punish people. Makes sense if the thing that heart-raped him is that lost kishin, which I believe was speculated much earlier. Also fits with the arcane rambling about Cocytus (lake of tears where lucifer hangs out), and 'oni magic'. >In the Touhou Project, kishin are powerful youkai who reside in Hell. Each kishin chief commands a number of lesser oni in their torment of the souls who fall into Hell That being the case, Wu's personality has melded with mr kishin. It may be dangerous to indulge in Wu's idea of justice for this reason.
>- Styx, where all rivers flow. Styx, where all lives end. Let your waters consume this body. Let your embrace blind the gods….” The incantation AFTER the personality reboot, causing Ming to 'fade out.' Earlier, Wu accidentally began to cast 'Styx' during his shitty revival spell, and Kishin corrected him. Styx is typically associated with Achilles. I couldn't find any other reference to its abilities/meaning besides granting immortality.
There's been a few other exchanges with Kishin which take place with the peculiar [x] (dialogue) function. Curious he didn't pipe up this update.
All this said, I'd need to seriously reread this story to get a good grasp on the possible name-identity of the Kishin, and all the other details I've no doubt missed. Kishin uses 'lethe,' 'styx,' 'archeron' and 'cocytus' in the same breath. While it seems like a mishmash to add Cocytus among the Greek, Lethe, Styx, Archeron and Cocytus are all referred to in the Divine Comedy. This leads me to believe the Kishin has a christian origin. Greek origin is also very possible. Keep mind Hecat(e)ia made(?) it.
Scrolled back to find anything I could latch on to: >The two-headed serpent, watching silently at the conversation, chuckles in relief. >So does the other watcher - >“Hey grandma,” You greet, averting your eyes as the rainbow flows into a two-headed serpent, and then into the red-haired, pseudo Red Guard style-dressed woman you are familiar with by blood. “How long were you watching us?” Alright so Meiling knows. Maybe.