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File 147306962759.jpg - (125.33KB , 850x850 , __kawashiro_nitori_touhou_drawn_by_konohana_saku__.jpg ) [iqdb]
30819 No. 30819
Previous Thread: >>29707

============================
[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."

"Eh?"

"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?"

"Um, yes?"

"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
Expand all images
>> No. 30821
Can we get her to take a closer look at that metal tanegashima instead? I don't think we need upgrades or repairs that much right now.
>> No. 30822
I wonder how often can Kappa mess around with Lunarian tech? I guess it is somewhere in the south side of 'never'

[x] Tune up weapons.

Besides? Remeber when our hammer or our bow killed a knight in one direct hit? Yeah, me neither, because that doesn't fucking happen.
>> No. 30823
[X] I want you to tune up my weapons

With every passing hour, Wu becomes slightly more of a protagonist. Soon he will be flying around on a metal dragon, wielding some sort of magical iron gun and reanimating random dying touhous.

>>30822
Also curious about what Kappa think of Lunarian technology.
>> No. 30824
>>30823
Yeah, those will be some glorious hours before his time comes and he dies screaming like a pig, alone and forgotten.
>> No. 30825
[x] I want you to tune up my weapons
>> No. 30826
>>30821
Not a bad idea but there's no reason for the Kappa to not have upgraded Arwy's systems already. Unless they assumed that they wouldn't need to because he's going out of his shell soon.

Wait, is it a she or a he?
>> No. 30827
>>30826
The metal tanegashima he's talking about refers to the broken gun that Tenma showed us earlier, not the tank.
>> No. 30828
>>30824
Best ending.
>> No. 30829
[x] Fix the metal tanegashima

OK sounds good.
>> No. 30830
[X] I want you to fix up a gun
>> No. 30831
[x] I want you to tune up my weapons

Given that this whole story is basically a big fat "fuck you" to empowered outsiders, I'm inclined to avoid getting any closer to becoming one. And what else is messing with that gun gonna do?
>> No. 30832
Smelting the weird gun down would arguably probably have the greatest possible repercussion, if we really want to roll the dice and do something out of left field.

Either become complete inert or something crazy.
>> No. 30834
>outsider heroes taking stuff from the kappa
>all of them have divine weapons
>every single one insisted that they were different
>protagonist expected to die at the end

Some Diamond in the Rough stuff happening here. The only way Wu is going to survive this is by rejecting the plot laid out for him.

[x] I want you to tune up my weapons
>> No. 30835
>>30834
You sure? So far he doesn't want to fight it, he just wants his death to mean something, unlike the hero's... which is something I approve of.
>> No. 30837
>>30835

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.
>> No. 30842
File 147332125771.jpg - (939.99KB , 1280x960 , __touhou_drawn_by_aoha_twintail__660cde200918bd295.jpg ) [iqdb]
30842
[x] I want you to tune up my weapons

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.

Time: 7:00 PM
Date: June 29, 20XX
Location: Moriya Shrine
Threat Level: 0

"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!"

"Miss Kochiya?"

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?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
>> No. 30843
[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] No
There's already been quite enough of them.
>> No. 30844
[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] No

Can't forget the pleasantries.
>> No. 30845
[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] No

There was some things I wanted to add but I forgot. So this will do for now.
>> No. 30846
[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 think of a better writein.

[X] Yes
Go ahead, mr writer

Also, fast updates, woo!
>> No. 30849
[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] Yes
>> No. 30850
[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] No
>> No. 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.

"Damn it."

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.

[ ] Accept
[ ] Decline
>> No. 30852
[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 ?
>> No. 30853
[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.
>> No. 30854
[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.
>> No. 30855
[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.
>> No. 30856
[X] Decline

Nah.
>> No. 30857
>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.

I'm not sure what to vote, but I think it might be a good idea to try to talk with Reimu/get in contact with Hakurei Shrine.

Border maintenance is pretty bloody important, and even if we could get some info on the status of Reimu, it would be worth the trip.

Since we have some form of favor with her, it is less likely we will be flatly turned away away like random messenger.
>> No. 30870
File 147592033694.jpg - (45.08KB , 850x400 , quote-sadism-is-all-right-in-its-place-but-it-shou.jpg ) [iqdb]
30870
[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...

...so...

...so tired...

====================

Time: 8:30 PM
Date: June 29, 20XX
Location: Moriya Shrine
Threat Level: 0

"Ming? Ming?"

"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."

"Gotcha."

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."

"...Yes."

"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?"

"Yes! So...oh"

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?"

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
>> No. 30871
[x] No

Standards.
>> No. 30872
File 147593757282.jpg - (188.61KB , 1366x768 , Touhou-Mountains-768x1366.jpg ) [iqdb]
30872
[x] I don't like it, but if I have to I will.
-[x] Wouldnt want to embarrass the clan. Uh, more than I just did I mean.


Maybe he doesn't care about honor, but would he want to make awoo sad?
>> No. 30873
>>30872
seconding
[x] I don't like it, but if I have to I will.
-[x] Wouldnt want to embarrass the clan. Uh, more than I just did I mean.

Would you eat the sausage for her ?
>> No. 30874
[x] Yes

Well, it's there, isn't it?
>> No. 30875
[x] I don't like it, but if I have to I will.
-[x] Wouldnt want to embarrass the clan. Uh, more than I just did I mean.

WOO PRION DISEASES
>> No. 30876
[x] Yes

Did we ever learn what Keyaki's deal is? I ctrl-F'd all four threads and couldn't find anything.
>> No. 30877
[X] No
- [X] But you'll do it once for the image. Not another time unless you're really desperate.

I liked the update. Really fit the situation nicely. A realistic approach to everything tends to shake up the world nicely every once in a while.
>> No. 30878
[x] No.

Give the guy a break, he's only human.
>> No. 30879
[x] No.

There's importance in a human choosing to eat human flesh -- or is the importance there only because people think it's important?

If anything I almost feel like his objection would be based on the fact the cattle are more trash than anything else, unworthy of being consumed.
>> No. 30880
[x] No.

"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?)
>> No. 30881
[x] No.

His physiology is not pure human. I don't want to find out what happens if he eats human flesh.
>> No. 30884
File 147622579824.jpg - (284.03KB , 850x1200 , __inubashiri_momiji_and_shameimaru_aya_touhou_draw.jpg ) [iqdb]
30884
[X] No
- [X] But you'll do it once for the image. Not another time unless you're really desperate.

I doubt he'll be alive for the ceremony, so I guess this works.
>> No. 30888
[x] No

staying human is good
>> No. 30892
File 147721976973.jpg - (96.77KB , 1024x767 , BI225211.jpg ) [iqdb]
30892
==================

"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.

"Boss?"

"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."
>> No. 30893
File 147722001360.png - (274.07KB , 500x330 , Black-wolf-from-the-back.png ) [iqdb]
30893
[x] No

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.
>> No. 30894
[X] Not your problem. Forget about him and just enjoy the feast, he's not worth it.

>"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."
heh
>> No. 30895
"Yes" And "Just this once" (effectively the same) won by two over "No"
>> No. 30896
[x] Talk to Ochiba

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?
>> No. 30897
[x] Find Ochiba, better make sure he isn't doing something hot-headed.

I really don't have a good feeling about this guy.
>> No. 30898
[x] Not your problem. Forget about him and just enjoy the feast, he's not worth it.
>> No. 30899
[X] Find Ochiba, better make sure he isn't doing something hot-headed.

I made a list of reasons why we should do this:
- traitor ochiba is bad
- traitor ochiba is terrible
- generally being fucked over by mr divine katanas is a terrible bad thing
>> No. 30900
>>30895
Well there were 2 Yes votes, 2 Maybe votes, 2 Maybe-No votes and 5 No votes, so I went with No as the seeming plurality.
>> No. 30901
[x] Find Ochiba, better make sure he isn't doing something hot-headed.

I have a strong feeling that this is a bad idea... but leaving him alone might just be worse.
>> No. 30902
File 147781833912.jpg - (133.26KB , 850x1186 , __kawashiro_nitori_touhou_drawn_by_gokuu_acoloredp.jpg ) [iqdb]
30902
[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-

"OOF!"

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
>> No. 30903
[X]Test your new gun on Rigel
>> No. 30904
>>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.
>> No. 30905
[x] Remain hidden then confront Ochiba
>> No. 30906
[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.
>> No. 30907
[x] Remain hidden then confront Ochiba

>>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.
>> No. 30908
>>30907
>nothing got done because we were being too edgy.

Damn that's a good point. Let's let him say what he prefers, it is likely that whatever attempt we make to tone down his lack of subtlety will just worsen our situation.

[x] Remain hidden then confront Ochiba
>> No. 30909
>>30903
I'm seconding this. There's no reasoning between those who've already picked their sides.

[x] Shoot at Rigel
- [x] And Ochiba, if need be
- [x] Detain either or both if possible

I want their heads, if not whatever's in them.
>> No. 30910
>>30909
The point here is that Ochiba hasn't decided his.
>> No. 30911
[x] Remain hidden then confront Ochiba

Please keep in mind, Ochiba is '*teleports behind u and explodes u into spaghetti mince*' tier of strong and stupid.
>> No. 30912
[x] Remain hidden then confront Ochiba

Hopefully Nitori will help Ming not shove his foot straight into his mouth.
>> No. 30915
File 147903704193.jpg - (17.15KB , 662x442 , handshake-health_jpg_662x0_q70_crop-scale.jpg ) [iqdb]
30915
[x] Remain hidden then confront Ochiba

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.
>> No. 30916
[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.
>> No. 30917
[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.
>> No. 30919
[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.

I almost forgot we're actually working for someone.
>> No. 30922
[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.

I'd like to get advice on the Ochiba situation, but he WILL find out so...
>> No. 30923
[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
>> No. 30924
[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.

I feel we can trust Eirin and anybody else sensible, but the more...playful of the Eintei crew leave doubts in my mind. Better safe than sorry.
>> No. 30957
Did you die, or is this another regularly scheduled disappearance?
>> No. 30989
RIP Rifle, you will be missed.
>> No. 30990
File 148896200513.png - (2.49MB , 1500x1500 , __houjuu_nue_touhou_drawn_by_kuyuru_vocalo520__d9b.png ) [iqdb]
30990
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.

Beep. Beep.

“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.

“Dr. Yagokoro?”

“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.”

“Eh?”

“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.

“You WHAT?”

“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?”

Silence, “…maybe.”

“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?”
>> No. 30991
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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!”

Silence.

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.”

“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?”

“NO.”

“What?”

“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.
>> No. 30992
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.
>> No. 30993
[X] 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.

Nothing ever goes wrong by picking the middle road. Nothing. Not at all. Nosiree.
>> No. 30994
[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.

I'm okay with killing, if it is justified, but this is like killing five guys at once with four of them being completely innocent. Makes us no better than those blind zealots we are fighting.

So yeah, no messing up with the afterlife.

Speaking of life beyond death... Welcome back Rifle!
>> No. 30995
[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.

You only bully people BEFORE they die, not after.
>> No. 30996
[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.
>> No. 30997
[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.

It's pretty mean to mess with someone's spirit after death.
>> No. 30998
[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, it's for the best.
>> No. 31000
[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.

Fucking with reincarnation itself is a bit much.
>> No. 31001
>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.

>“Lost spirits? You mean the dead?” Momiji looks confused, “We didn’t suffer any deaths in the battle today, miraculously”

>"You are just one man, Ming, it’s not physically possible for you to generate the energy needed to counteract that much magical power."

UH OH
>> No. 31002
>>31001
So, awoo is now a living dead.
And ming is multiple peoples.
The plot thickens.
>> No. 31014
[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.
>> No. 31015
>>31002
Shit, we should probably make sure we're not erasing Momiji's soul.
>> No. 31017
Computer died. Hard Drive is fried. Data recovery told me to see Seagate instead after I graduate in two weeks.

Needless to say the update was gone. Will probably rewrite it now.
>> No. 31018
>>31017

Sucks to hear that, hope your situation improves. I'm looking forward to what you have when you return.
>> No. 31019
>>31017
Too bad about the computer. I think every good writer has passed through the same thing so take it as a rite of passage into godhood. Or something.
>> No. 31020
>>31017
>Trusting Seashit
>2017

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.

Also back yo shit up foo
>> No. 31022
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31022
<%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...

...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."

"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."

"Guoguo...chu-hmm,heh."

"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.

"Hey Ming--"

"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?"

"Objectives?"

"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."

"Actual objectives?"

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.

So does the other watcher.

========================
>> No. 31023
[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.
>> No. 31024
[X] It’s okay, I can see why people enjoy this type of thing socially

It's hard to believe that it's only been four days. It seems like a lot more has happened.
>> No. 31025
File 14953811909.jpg - (533.63KB , 1536x2048 , ihavemyownbrandyknow.jpg ) [iqdb]
31025
[x] Oddly relaxing and evoking confused feelings. I guess most fans would kill themselves several times to be in my position.

>I'm a millennial

Unless she has her own page on instagram and thinks facebook 'is for old people' she is not.

Oh, you mean a thousand years old! Like the last update, yes?
>> No. 31026
[X] It’s okay, I can see why people enjoy this type of thing socially

Glad to see this story hasn't yet hit the cemetery.
>> No. 31027
[x] Oddly relaxing and evoking confused feelings. I guess most fans would kill themselves several times to be in my position.
>> No. 31028
[x] It’s overrated, cliched and I never liked sharing the a bathtub or pool
>> No. 31029
[X] It’s okay, I can see why people enjoy this type of thing socially
>> No. 31030
[x] It’s okay, I can see why people enjoy this type of thing socially

So, Hecatia reacted pretty explosively when she heard about Ming. That's... bad, right?
>> No. 31031
>>31030
I presume it's simply that she's from the right kind of hell, so she knows what's up with those cards of his, and it's nothing good. As expected.
>> No. 31032
[X] FUCKING TIGERS
>> No. 31041
File 149785724959.jpg - (376.98KB , 1600x1200 , 23b403160efa8610624abd383dd63559-d7j8z6x.jpg ) [iqdb]
31041
[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.

No answer.

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.

Scales.

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.

"You...hatched?"

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?"

"Sure, mom."

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."

"And?"

"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."

"Yes?"

"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."

"Excuse me?"

"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?"

"Negatory."

"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

===============
>> No. 31042
[X] ...HIGHWAY TO THE DANGER ZONE
Wu 'empty inside and Hecatia's biggest mistake' Ming needs to learn fast before he gets into even deeper shit.
>> No. 31043
[X] ...At just cruising speed
>> No. 31044
[x] ...At just cruising speed

Not too reckless, not too wimpy.

Also Okuu FTW. Hahahaha.
>> No. 31045
>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!

Also, lol Okuu, empty inside my ass.
>> No. 31046
[X] ...At just cruising speed

Looks like we're getting some more clues about what Ming really is.
>> No. 31047
[x] ...HIGHWAY TO THE DANGER ZONE

WE'RE ON A HIIIIGHWAY TO HELL
>> No. 31048
[X] ...HIGHWAY TO THE DANGER ZONE

I could almost hear Ming's sigh on finding out that Iron Wing was an old Nazi project.

>>31046

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?
>> No. 31049
>>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.
>> No. 31050
[X] ...HIGHWAY TO THE DANGER ZONE
>> No. 31051
I wonder if hecate is going to show up and throw the line "We both made mistakes you are going to regret."
>> No. 31052
File 149825139179.jpg - (11.53KB , 320x240 , tg.jpg ) [iqdb]
31052
>>31041
>Pic very related.
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