I think I'm doing a pretty good job at not panicking.
When you consider how quickly and how thoroughly everything went off the rails, you could excuse me if I was panicking a bit.
But I'm not.
Instead of panicking, I'm just going to calmly try to assess the situation. Now that I saw that girl finally leave the area, I feel like I can head back into camp without getting danmaku'd or magic'd or whatever'd to death. I'll think about what lead up to this point while I'm heading back, then decide what to do from there. I will behave properly like rational military mind. I will not panic.
So initially, I was out checking on the mechanical purification spider probe to make sure it was still doing its purifying thing. On the way back down the mountain I decided to take some time away from camp to make some mochi for the other rabbits. I do that from time to time. I have my mallet, so I might as well do something productive with it. Everybody likes it and I like to keep morale up if I can. Suddenly out of nowhere I was challenged to a duel. I tried to act tough and do my job, but honestly I wasn't that hopeful about it. Danmaku is hard. I still haven't really got my head around using spell cards, and my power is unexpectedly bad for it.
I have various excuses for it, but they don't change the fact that I got trashed. There isn't really much of a better way to say it, though losing wasn't as bad as I had expected. It did stop me from making the mochi, which I was sad about, but otherwise it's better than getting blown up or shot with actual weapons. I guess these spell card rules that we're supposed to follow for some reason do make losing much nicer than some of the horror stories I've heard from the Lunar War. It did kind of leave me in an awkward situation though. I couldn't exactly head back to camp along with her when I lost. After I used my comms to tell the others she was coming I was just stuck outside stressing out until she was done doing whatever she thought was necessary to make us stop purifying the earth. Us rabbits don't really care that much about purification, nor were we really made aware of the full plan. We were just supposed to gather information, wait in camp, let the mechanical spider do it's thing, and wait for more orders.
That brings me to the current state of our camp. I don't see any of the other moon rabbits around. That's strange. I'm sure they're okay though. They'd have to be. I don't need to worry about it. I'll just have to find them. They might be looking for me in fact, I was the one that was away from camp. It's a little weird how quiet comms have been if that's the case though, so maybe they're just busy regrouping from the attack. I should probably just find Chief Information Management Officer Ringo. She always knows where everybody is and what they're doing. Given the state of the camp though, she could be anywhere.
Speaking of the camp itself, it's not as bad as it could be. Our little mountain base setup is a bit messier than I would like, at least from the quick look around that I'm giving it. The supplies that Yuzuki and I had spent so long organizing were strewn about camp in a big mess. Food and ammunition were scattered about randomly like somebody had rifled through it. It also looks like a lot of the tents we had been sleeping in had been ruined by stray danmaku, but that's okay. Those are just things. We can get more supplies if we need to later, after I figure out what's actually missing or broken and what is here but just out of place.
I guess the other thing that I could check on, even though it DEFINITELY won't have any problems, would be the Kaian Passageway. I don't really know how it works, but if it's the portal that lets us get back to the lunar capital through the dream world, then that girl that beat me probably used it to get more information from more important people. I guess I could at least check it to be safe. I know there is no way that would be messed up though.
Okay I guess there are a few different things that I should check on since I seem to be the only one around. They don't seem like they could be all THAT bad, but I should try to be productive even in the face of adversity while I wait for more orders. Which one should I check on first though?
 The supplies, I'll have to reorganize after I confirm that everything is still there.  The other rabbits, I hope they're not too bothered by my not finishing the mochi.  The portal, I'm not worried. I'm sure it's just fine.
Also for the setting of this story, which character resolved the incident in LoLK?
Update either today or tomorrow. Initially I'll be trying to update on Wednesdays(or Thursdays depending on how things go) and Sundays. That should only change if something unexpected happens in real life or the story suddenly gets way more complex and hard to write for than I expect it to be.
[X] The other rabbits, I hope they're not too bothered by my not finishing the mochi. [X] Reisen
Our camp is set up at the base of the largest mountain in Gensokyo, mostly because that's where Kaian Passegeway number 4 lets out. We could have used a different portal or gotten them to move this one, but command decided against it. It was convenient to set up here, and also made sense to do so for gathering information. We're pretty far away from human civilization, but close enough to travel there if we want to. We're also close enough to a river and lake that we can have a water supply, so long as we're not bothered by how dirty it is. Still, it never seems like there's enough time to really make this camp feel as comfortable or homey as I would like, instead it just feels like we're stuck having a not so nice vacation.
I enter camp close to the main clearing, we have a table set up in the middle with our personal tents surrounding it so we could eat together when I made food for everyone. The chairs are knocked over, but nothing looks broken. There is various damage from danmaku bullets on everything though. When I take a closer look at just how many marks there are, I'm actually pretty amazed! Reisen must have really gotten used to using danmaku since she came to live down here. Though I guess I could have already guessed that from when she beat me.
Thinking of Reisen, that had been quite a surprise when she flew out at me all of the sudden. I mean I had heard that she was down here after she disappeared around the start of the war, but I had expected her to be in hiding if that was the case. Instead she just comes out and fights me, not knowing if I had backup or what I was doing here, then she goes to our camp, fights her way through Ringo and apparently heads right into the portal going straight to the lunar capital! That was way more than I would have thought from when I knew Reisen.
I knew Reisen from before the war, though I can't say we were really friends. We both joined the military at around the same time, and went through basic training together, but other than that we were mostly just aware of each other's existence. I was pretty used to that though. I didn't become friends with the other rabbits much. Once I got put into the Eagle Ravi though, things got better.
I start looking through the others' tents in hopes of finding somebody else from our unit still around. We haven't been here that long, so our tents aren't very personalized. All I end up finding is that Yuzuki's tent is much cleaner than the others two's. I don't actually find them in there though. I'll have to keep looking.
Our unit actually only has a few rabbits in it, since we're a group meant for small scale infiltration and information gathering. We just happen to be a group that have powers that make us good for that kind of operation. With the large mishmash of magic, science, medicine, and technology that the lunar capital has, it's actually not that unusual for rabbits and lunarians to unintentionally develop a unique skill or magical ability at some point in their lives. Some of them end up useful and some are just strange, but our unit is made up of rabbits with a combination of both.
As I head towards her tent, I guess Ringo is probably a good example of that. She gets stronger by eating dango. Even though it's kind of weird and extremely specific, it's actually pretty useful for military application in things like hand to hand combat or equipment transportation. It's only limited by our supply of dango and Ringo's appetite. Though the latter isn't really much of a limit at all, now that I think about it.
Okay, this isn't that unusual. Ringo is asleep in her bedroll when I look in. I'm not really sure what I was expecting her to be doing in here other than sleeping, but it feels a little weird given the circumstance. I guess I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and say she's just exhausted from fighting Reisen. That would probably be one of the better reasons that I've caught her taking a nap. At least she's never that hard to wake up.
I let my mallet drop to the ground by the entrance, but it's not loud enough to wake her. That's fine, I didn't really want that to work anyway. I like what I'm going to do better. It's usually pretty hard to get a reaction of surprise out of Ringo, she's always so chilled out. When she's sleeping though, that's another story. Kneeling down next to her, I softly pick up one of her big droopy ears with two fingers, inhale deeply, and blow directly into it.
I can see Ringo's whole body spasm as she makes some kind of weird noise like she was trying to combine "Iyaaa" and "Hrrngh" but couldn't decide how much of either she wanted. Her eyes shoot open, but she composes herself pretty quickly once she realizes it was just me. She shakes her head a bit to make me let go of her ear, then sits up.
"Oh hey, you're back, nice," she talks casually as she holds in a yawn. "How're things?"
That's just about as serious as I expected her to be. "I got shot by several hundred magical bullets while I was out and I'm pretty sure that we're going to be in trouble with command when we go back home, but I think I'm fine otherwise."
"Cool, cool, same, same. Turns out Reisen got pretty tough while she was gone, huh? Didn't quite expect that from her," Ringo grabs a canteen she had laying nearby and takes a drink, probably to get rid of that gross taste that you usually wake up with after a nap. "Oh yeah, she come back out yet? I wanted to ask her a few things without getting shot up."
I'm not even sure if talking to her normally would be possible, given that Reisen is technically wanted for desertion, but whatever. "Well, I just saw her leave, and I didn't stop her to ask if she wanted to not shoot me so..."
"Fair enough. Eh well, what are you gonna do?" Ringo shrugs before finishing off her canteen and dropping it behind her. I'm pretty sure there was still some water in there and it's just gonna leak onto her bedroll, but I guess messes like that bother me a lot more than her.
Speaking of that, though. "Anyway, this whole camp is a mess! I want to start cleaning up a bit. Where are the others?" I ask. It's not like they usually help me all that much for this kind of thing, but I was hoping that Ringo knew something about where they were.
Ringo shrugs again "Dunno, Sumi said she was gonna go find you after you called in the emergency and wouldn't take no for an answer, so I figured she was with you. The other two were here up until Reisen showed up but things got a bit crazy after that."
"Uh huh... And you just decided to take a nap instead of doing anything to find them?" I'm trying not to sound upset with her, but really, she's the highest ranking one of us. We don't follow chain of command very strictly when it's just us, but she's technically our leader still. If anyone was going to take charge in this situation I thought it would be her.
Ringo apparently doesn't catch any of my annoyance. "Well, telepathy comms are out for some reason. I didn't know where to look and still don't. I figured I'd wait here in case anybody tries to contact us. The others have been around the area gathering information enough that they should be able to find their way back even if we can't talk to each other long distance."
"Yeah, I don't really know. Can't hear the capital, can't talk to anybody. I don't know when they went out either."
Okay don't panic. Ringo isn't panicking. Ringo probably wouldn't panic even if the entire forest was on fire but that doesn't matter. She's not panicking so I won't either. Yes. I'll just...
[ ] Get mad at Ringo, the whole unit is apparently bad in a crisis but she didn't do anything to make it better. [ ] Don't get upset. I wasn't exactly the most productive person after I lost either. [ ] Panic NO
[ ] Go out and look for the others [ ] Check on the supplies [ ] Check on the portal
[x] Don't get upset. I wasn't exactly the most productive person after I lost either. [x] Check on the supplies We're cool; we're fine. Everything's fine. The supplies are fine. They just need checking on, because they're so important, and maybe we could clean up the supplies a bit while we're there, just in case something's happened and we need first crack at the supplies.
[X] Don't get upset. It's okay, I wasn't exactly the most productive person either [X] Check on the supplies
I need to take a moment and calm down a bit. I'm actually close to getting mad at Ringo, but that's not productive. I should just calm down for now. This is not that big of a deal. Even if it was a big deal though, I know it's still recoverable. I've also known Ringo for long enough to know that getting mad at her is not really going to do anything. No, it's better to leave it and put energy into something constructive.
Ringo just stays quiet while I compose myself. She's also known me for long enough to know when I need a moment I guess. Once I've calmed down, I let things go with a sigh and get down to business. "So, what are we going to do now?"
Ringo just shrugs as she pulls herself out of her sleeping bag, stretching a bit. "Dunno, we'll probably just wanna take a break for now. Kick back and wait it out. We don't have any way to talk to command, so the only way to get more orders would be to go back through the portal or wait until they fix things up there. I guess you can go if you want to, but I'd rather wait for them to come to us."
I actually can't really disagree with that. We don't know what state the lunar capital is in after Reisen went there, just that she must have been successful in whatever she was trying to do, given that she was able to leave. We may not be their top priority right now, so we should try to be self sufficient. "Okay, sure. I don't think we should be asleep if they send somebody out here though. Want to help me check on our supplies and stuff to keep busy?"
Ringo sticks her tongue out and blows a bit to make an annoyed raspberry at me. "I guess. Work work work... Fine." She's not actually that bothered, I know that. She just wants to make a show that work bothers her more than it does in hopes that people won't ask her to do it as much. I grab my mallet and head to the entrance while Ringo stands up and follows me outside. If it were me I think I might feel a little gross just getting up and going after sleeping in my regular clothing for a couple hours like she did, but I guess it doesn't bother her.
We keep our supplies packed into a separate tent, a bit away from the main clearing where all of our sleeping areas are set up. A lot of the stuff is still in the crates that it came in and hasn't actually been used yet. We use the food obviously, but I'm not sure if anyone has even sorted out all the equipment to get at the useful stuff yet. This operation is kind of weird in that way.
Oh... Now that we get into the tent, it's pretty obvious that something has been here. In particular, a couple of the crates that were stacked in the back are knocked over. Things definitely should be clean in here. Even though those knocked over ones are empty and were just being kept around for later transport, there's no way we would have them messed up like that. I guess I need to start going through any of these that look like they've been opened recently to see if things are missing from them.
I don't want to think about it, but I should probably go for the worst case scenario and assume that they weren't just going to go for the food crates. I should look through the actual hardware first. Some of the stuff we have here would probably be bad if it was taken from us.
The spread of equipment we were given for this operation is a little odd. Initial marching orders had us to follow gensokyo rules of engagement, meaning spell cards only. That was kind of weird, but I don't know all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes, so there must have been some reason for it. It wasn't supposed to be a big deal anyway since the mechanical spider was supposed to be the thing doing the actual work. We were just here to make sure it keeps working and to gather information in case a larger invasion is necessary later. Not that I know why we'd want to move here anyway.
We were rushed off the moon without enough time to get very much practice at danmaku, since only really commander Yorihime had any experience with it, and even that was just one duel. Even though magic isn't that hard to learn for us, that doesn't mean that we'll be good at firing thousands of bullets in surprisingly pretty patterns in such a short time. Eventually Yuzuki and I complained enough that Ringo requested that we were sent some actual hardware, just as a last resort self defence option. I'm actually surprised that they granted that request to be honest, even if it's all outdated surplus materials. We're not exactly the most high value soldiers. They could have just told us to deal with it.
I open up an equipment crate that has obviously been opened previously. I don't know if it was opened by us or by whoever else has been in here, but I should be able to figure out if anything was taken regardless. I think we have a list of what should be in which crate somewhere, so I should probably grab that. Right as I finish thinking that though, Ringo sets a clipboard with that list on it next to me. I guess she was thinking the same thing.
I start going through things on the list. This particular crate appears to be missing some optics stuff. Whoever was here apparently wanted multiple pairs of binoculars and night vision goggles. That pretty much confirms that it wasn't someone from here. I know none of the other girls have been active enough at night to need these things. Actually me, Ringo, and Chiyo are probably the only ones who would need them that badly. I guess I could check if Ringo knows anything just in case though.
I turn back toward the entrance to ask. "Hey Ringo..." I start but trail off quickly. I notice something moving around in the trees outside camp. I can't actually see what it is, but it's too big to just be an animal. It could be one of the other rabbits, but they'd have no reason to be sneaky like this. If it's the same person that has stolen stuff from us though, it's strange that they're sticking around. My instincts are telling me to react quickly now if I'm going to react at all. We could be in danger.
Reaction: [ ] Try to talk to whatever it is. [ ] Shoot! -[ ] Danmaku -[ ] Use your powers -[ ] Grab a handgun from one of the crates [ ] Warn Ringo, scatter! [ ] Don't reveal you've noticed it, see if it does anything besides watching.
"Hey Ringo what?" Ringo asks expectantly. I did just stop in the middle of my request after all. My request has changed, but I should probably finish my sentence now.
"Could you move out of the way a bit?" I need her out of the doorway, she can either go out or come in. I just need a clear shot.
Ringo smirks at me and points a finger gun at me before stepping out of the tent. I guess she's happy to fill any request that will get her away from where work is being done. She wasn't even helping much! Oh well. I should get down to business.
My pulse shot up when I noticed the movement outside, so it's easy to activate my powers now. I say activate, but it's more like I'm not suppressing it any more. It's easier to do that when I'm excited. I close my eyes and focus a bit. I don't feel anything different, but when I open my eyes back up I can see them. There are bullets everywhere. I've almost gotten used to this, so I know they're in other dimensions, but it's still just a tiny bit jarring to see them all flying about suddenly. When this power first started developing, I practically had a heart attack. It's almost normal now.
I let my eyes wander freely, looking at the mess of objects around me. It's not just the normal lead bullets either, things like danmaku, lasers, even some weird projectiles I don't recognize are all flying randomly. Layers and layers of different dimensions are all overlapped around me, but I can somehow still see the individual shots in each one. I don't want to take too long looking for something suitable though, the headaches that staring directly at hundreds of criss-crossing dimensional boundaries can cause are pretty damn rough.
There, those ones. I picked them arbitrarily, but a number still pops into my mind. 9x19mm? That's pretty normal, but I guess that's bound to happen when I choose randomly. I'm not sure why so many of them are so close together, but it'll work just fine. I swing my hammer to the side, striking it against the dimensional boundary and feeling it squish slightly. It's not strictly necessary to use my hammer, but the way that I do it feels kind of similar to kneading mochi, only in reverse. Kinda. It's hard to describe how I interact with dimensional rifts when it's largely instinctual.
I pull my hammer back, feeling the bullets come with it. They're struggling, wanting to go flying forward in two different dimensions at once and having different definitions of forward in both, but things will be fine once I make the choice for them. It just takes a little bit of magic to break the connection they have to their original home, so I do just that.
As soon as I let them, the bullets fly out toward where I last saw movement, piercing through the brush. I barely hear the yelp of surprise while I heft my hammer and charge towards it. My hammer isn't only a tool that helps me in using my power. It's also a hammer. I'm perfectly comfortable in using it like one. I just have to close the distance while I still have it surprised. I push straight through the first layer of brush and WOAH-
... Oh I tripped over a fairy.
I guess she had been so surprised by the sudden bullets that she hadn't thought to run away. She was frozen on the spot until I crashed into her a second later. I can see where a couple of shots had hit the ground. I was actually really close to hitting her, so she was probably pretty shocked. I would think anyone who lives here would be used to being shot at, though they probably have a bit more warning and the bullets wouldn't be quite as fast or deadly.
As I move to disentangle myself from the fairy that I tackled, I can feel all the adrenaline leaving me. I even turn my power off to go back to normal vision. It's probably not needed any more. I've seen enough fairies while observing this place to not be concerned over what a fairy can do. I've heard lunarians hate fairies because of the impurity of nature or something, but to us rabbits that's not really that big of a deal. If there was some fairy that was really strong I guess it could be a big problem, but all the fairies I've seen in Gensokyo seemed pretty weak.
I hear Ringo coming over to check on me. "Hey, guessing you found somebody?" She asks me calmly.
I'm a little bothered that she doesn't seem to be in much of a hurry to help, but then I guess it's not noisy enough for her to have a reason to worry about me. I also didn't really ask her to help either. "Yeah, a fairy was watching us and I thought it was whoever took our things," I answer back. Though now that I think about it, that could be the case. "Although..."
When I turn to look at the fairy somewhat accusingly, I think it finally jogs her out of her shock. Oh, she's pretty clearly panicking now. I feel a little bad when she starts apologizing frantically. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to steal from you I just wanted to help the others and they said there was nobody here so the camp was probably abandoned and I didn't know you were there and I'm so sorry and and..."
"Talky one I guess?" Ringo laughs, walking through the brushes to us. The fairy instantly cuts her apology short when Ringo speaks and just looks at us fearfully. I will admit, she definitely looks sorry.
"Uh huh..." I feel a little bad about how rattled she is, but she did admit to being the culprit. At least partially. I'll probably understand it better if I calm her down and get her to talk more calmly. I stand myself up and lend her a hand so she can get up as well. "Do you need a moment to calm down so you can tell us what's going on?" I ask her evenly as she stands up. Some sternness might be necessary to get information, but I can at least give her a moment if she needs it.
I do want to avoid treating this apparent thief too nice just because she's a cute little girl. Although now that she's stood up and I can look at her, she's probably one of the biggest and most adult looking fairies that I've seen here. Her cute green sidetail and big yellow ribbon might look a bit childish, and she's still much shorter than an adult, but she doesn't look like a little kid like some fairies. Her attitude, at least as much as I've seen it, doesn't seem to match up with her figure though.
The fairy takes a deep breath before she starts talking. Giving her a moment to compose herself seems to have helped. "I came here to apologize. I was helping some of my friends..." She hesitates there. She doesn't sound too sure about that label I guess. "The other fairies, explore your camp a little while ago. I live in the lake near here and they noticed me while they were flying by. They said found a lot of cool stuff and wanted help carrying it back to their house, so I came with them. We took a bunch of stuff and I wasn't really sure about it, but Star said there was nobody around, so I didn't try to make them stop... Then we came back for a second look and saw somebody leaving. The others ran away, but I felt bad and wanted to come back to apologize. I'm really sorry." She finishes.
Okay. Okay fine. There are fairies flying around with an unknown amount of stolen lunarian military equipment. They probably don't know how to use it. I don't know if that makes it better or worse. At the very least we have a lead with this fairy who for some reason seems to have a good conscience. I just need to get more details from her and we can take care of things. How should I do that?
[ ] With kindness. She did stay and say she's sorry. Let's just calm her down and ask her nicely for more information. It's fine. [ ] With sternness. Her friends tell her this place is abandoned and she just believes them and helps them loot the place? That's not acceptable. [ ] With force. She's a fairy and can probably be intimidated easily. Let's get this information quickly. [ ] Good cop/Bad cop with Ringo. - [ ] Good Ringo/Bad Seiran - [ ] Good Seiran/Bad Ringo
[X] With kindness. She did stay and say she's sorry. Let's just calm her down and ask her nicely for more information. It's fine.
I don't really want to give this girl a hard time. She did come back here and apologize when she really didn't have to, and if she hadn't there's probably no way we could have found out she was involved. This is the kind of behavior that more people should have, so I should encourage it. I'm just not sure how.
This fairy is staring at me and looking apologetic, I get that, but it's not a situation that I really know how to deal with. Nobody that I usually talk to is ever sorry about things like this. At least not to this extent. Actually that kind of makes me feel like everybody else I talk to are jerks but there are more important things to worry about here.
"It... It's okay," I offer weakly. "I'm not mad at you." She looks a little bit better after that but she's still obviously nervous that I'm going to suddenly change my mind or something. I'd like to calm her down, but I can't really think of what else I should say. Instead I end up placing my hand on her head and petting her without really thinking about.
The fairy flinches a tiny bit when I first touch her, but after the initial worry, I think she likes it. Her worried frown shifts to an almost smile but not quite. I glance over at Ringo who seems to be trying to to laugh. Would you help me out a little bit please? I make eye contact with her and she walks over to us.
"Aww, you guys are absolute cuties," Ringo smirks as she puts a hand on both the fairy's and my head. I'm actually a little taller than Ringo, which makes it a bit awkward because she has to reach a bit, but she doesn't seem bothered by that. "How about the two of you head into camp, and I'll grab some snacks. We can all talk this out like buddies."
Maybe she noticed that I wasn't sure what to say, or maybe she just wanted an excuse to get some snacks. Either way, I'm pretty happy to go with Ringo's suggestion. "Yeah, sure that sounds good. Come on uh..."
The fairy looks confused for a moment before realizing the question I'm asking without asking. "D-Daiyousei." She offers.
"Okay, come on Daiyousei." She looks a bit less comfortable when my hand leaves her head, but follows along with me into camp just fine. Ringo leads us to the clearing that all of our tents are centered around. She motions for us to sit at the table while she wanders off to her own tent to get some food.
I sit down in my normal seat and Daiyousei sits across from me, where Chiyo usually sits when she actually shows up for meals. I still don't know what to say though. This is something that I know is a big problem for me, but I'm actually a little bit bad at knowing what to say to people. I've gotten used to the other rabbits in my unit, but when it comes to people outside of that, I have some trouble. Ringo says that I think too much and talk too little, but I still think that's better than the other way around.
Ringo gets back quickly, before I think of anything to say, and brings a tray with a few dango skewers to the table. She pops a couple of dango into her mouth while she sits down in her normal seat. "So, first off, I'm Ringo, and that's Seiran. In case Seiran didn't introduce us," Ugh, I'm annoyed by her assuming I'd be awkward like that, but she's not wrong either. "Getting to business though, you said you're sorry, and that's fine. I get you, but our stuff is still gone sooo... We should probably talk to those other fairies about getting it back."
Daiyousei looks worried again, after we had just gotten her calmed down. "Y-you're not going to hurt them right?" She asks. "I don't want anyone to fight."
"Nah, probably not," Ringo brushes off the question casually. "Well, I'd rather not anyway. We are gonna have to go talk to them though, I don't think they're gonna come back to us like you did. You know?" Daiyousei nods hesitantly. "So, tell us about these other fairies."
"Well... Their names are Sunny, Luna, and Star. They're three other fairies that I know that always group together for pranks." Daiyousei explains.
Ringo pauses as she finishes one skewer of dango off, so I try to keep things going. "Stealing stuff doesn't seem like that funny of a prank."
"They told me that they thought this camp was abandoned so they weren't planning on this being a prank. I wouldn't have helped them if it was!" Oh no, she's getting frantic about us being upset with her again. I didn't mean it like that.
"Okay okay it's fine," Ringo assures her, she slides the tray towards the nervous fairy, trying to give her some dango. "What kind of stuff were they taking?"
Daiyousei doesn't take any dango still, but does lower her voice. "I don't really know what all the stuff was. I've never seen most of the things in those crates before. I didn't see everything they were carrying, but I know the others took at least a couple of hats and vests, t-that's not a big deal right?" She sounds hopeful, and I mean I guess it isn't. We don't really use a lot of that stuff anyway. Well Sumi does but other than that... "Oh! I was carrying a couple boxes that said they had uh... Flares? I don't know what those are."
"Okay sure, sure. You know what guns are though, right?" Ringo asks. That's probably a much bigger deal here. Daiyousei nods, which is a little surprising to me. "Did they take any of those?"
Daiyousei shakes her head and finally reaches out to take a skewer of dango. "I d-didn't see any..." That's a huge relief. Actually, the guns and the ammo are separate so even if they had taken some guns, I don't think fairies would know how to load them, but it's still nice to not have to worry about it.
Ringo also appears to brighten slightly as well. "Can you tell us where they live so we can go talk to them? We know they just want to do pranks, but if they have flares that could be bad. They could start a fire or something."
Daiyousei nibbles at her dango worriedly, apparently imagining the possibility. "W-well I can tell you, but I don't think it would help. Fairies keep their homes magically hidden from non-fairies. Unless somebody showed you where it is you won't be able to find them there..."
Ringo nods. "That's fine, can you show us where it is then?"
Daiyousei seems conflicted about answering. "Do you promise you won't fight them?" She asked quietly.
That does make things a bit more complicated. If it's just fairies, I'm pretty sure me or Ringo would be able to out-danmaku them. We could also just break the rules and fight them some other way which would probably go even better. The problem then is that Daiyousei doesn't want us to fight them, and we need to take her with us to even meet with them at their house. I guess we don't technically have to care about what Daiyousei wants, but I've already decided I want to be nice to her. She's been such a good girl so far.
The other thing to think about is that the other fairies don't know who they stole from. If we could find some other way to get to them, or could catch them outside their house, we wouldn't need Daiyousei. We could just wait and see if we hear anything about them causing trouble and catch them if they do. They won't know to avoid us.
Ringo answers Daiyousei's question since I'm not doing it. "As long as they don't try to fight us."
I don't know how much I believe her on that one. Daiyousei obviously wouldn't think anything of it, but I'm a little worried about how many dango Ringo has eaten. She's going to be a bit powered up for a while, so she might try to fight regardless of how Daiyousei feels. Maybe I'm worrying too much and she was just eating them because she likes them though. That could also be it. I'm a little worried about it, but Ringo will probably listen to me if I make a suggestion about what to do. I think...
[ ] I'll go with Daiyousei to talk to the fairies and... - [ ] ask Ringo to come along. - [ ] Tell Ringo to do something productive at camp while we're away. [ ] I'll tell Ringo to go with Daiyousei and... - [ ] I can look outside the camp for the other rabbits while they're away. - [ ] I can stick around at camp and check on the portal while they're away. [ ] We'll worry about the stolen stuff later. If Daiyousei lives at the lake we can talk to her later, or maybe we could find some other way to get to the fairies. - [ ] Try to look for the other rabbits - [ ] Check on the portal [ ] I'll think of some other plan (Write in)
[X] I'll go with Daiyousei to talk to the fairies and... - [X] ask Ringo to come along.
Daiyousei doesn't look quite satisfied with that answer, I'm not sure I believe it either to be honest, but neither of us expect it to be changed, and we're not saying anything against it. As Daiyousei nods reluctantly and gives a small noise of confirmation, Ringo smiles and finishes another dango skewer.
"Alright, great. Let's go have that talk then," Ringo smiles and grabs one more stick of dango. "For the road." She explains as she notices me watching her. Come on, you've already had like five of those!
I'm a little worried about leaving camp like this, but I'm probably more worried about Ringo going alone. It's not even necessarily about stopping Ringo from fighting for Daiyousei's sake, though I guess that's part of it. I'm more concerned about her bringing attention to us lunar rabbits being here. Ringo is the least stealthy rabbit in the unit, especially when she fights. We already had Reisen find us, and she was nice enough to not capture us or blow us up all that badly, but if we start making a lot of trouble, we could draw even more powerful people to us.
I could just ask Ringo to stay here, but I'm not crazy about that idea either. Getting our stolen gear back from fairies without fighting would mean some kind of negotiations. I could probably do it... Well maybe. Ringo would probably be better at it though. As long as she doesn't get annoyed that it's taking too long. There's a certain point in things like this where she decides to cut her losses on negotiations and just fight her way through the problem to end it faster. She's pretty good up until that point though. I'd like to take advantage of that, so I won't make her stay behind.
Daiyousei doesn't seem too eager to get going, but both Ringo and I have already stood up, so she doesn't look like she has any argument that she likes enough to make left. "O-okay... They live near the shrine. We can go there now I guess..." I'm pretty sure there are at least two shrines in Gensokyo, but with the direction she starts floating in, I guess it's not the one at the top of the mountain we're already near. The other shrine is pretty far away if I recall correctly, but I don't mind that too much.
There are a lot of things I don't like about Gensokyo, but flying through it is definitely not one of them. We have wind and an atmosphere on the moon, not that I can explain how that works, but we don't have a sky like the one the Earth has. The clear blue of the sky, only obscured by the occasional fluffy white clouds is something that I only had a vague concept of before we came down here. We haven't been here that long, but it still looks amazing to me whenever I stop to notice it. Flying through it really enhances the view that much more.
We start following Dai as she flies to the east. I don't actually know the layout of Gensokyo that well. We had given it a couple of high level views, and we do have a map, but most of the information gathering we've done so far has started at the camp and went radially outward with us gradually increasing the area as we learn more. It doesn't take us that long to follow Daiyousei further than our usual information gathering trips would go. When I think of it like that, I feel like we really should have tried harder. I don't think it matters that much though, the spider drone was supposed to end up purifying everything here anyway. Why does it matter if we don't know everything about everything that was here after it's gone?
We're not flying that fast, so it takes a while to cross most of Gensokyo. I guess Daiyousei doesn't have a lot of speed. It's not that surprising, but I'm pretty sure Ringo and I both can fly faster than this, not that that would help since we don't know where we're going. Maybe a half hour later, I'm actually surprised that Daiyousei starts turning, taking us on a curved path. If we're flying, why couldn't we have just taken a direct path?
Ringo beats me to asking the question, though she asks it differently than I would have. "Hey Dai, you get lost or something? Why are we turning? We almost there?"
Daiyousei turns back to us. "Oh! Uh, I just always fly this way. I try to avoid going to the shrine most of the time," She looks nervous still, but I guess it's about something else now. "Miss Reimu can be scary sometimes."
I've actually heard of Reimu Hakurei before. She apparently visited the moon a few years back, so there was some information on her that we could find before we came down here. Rei'sen had apparently met her before as well, though I've never talked to Rei'sen personally. I just heard about it through rumours on the comms. From what I know, Reimu is not someone I want to mess with, so I guess I'm okay with a slight detour. We get there just fine, though it might have done a little bit more damage to Ringo's patience. I'll have to watch for that.
Daiyousei drifts down to the edge of a small clearing centered around a tree that's much larger than the surrounding forest. Incidentally, one of the things I don't like that much about Gensokyo is how many dumb forests there are all over the place, but that's not that important right now. Daiyousei points to the large tree in the center. "They live in there."
Oh. Well that's interesting. There were definitely not windows or a door on that tree previously. I guess that's fairy magic then. That would have been useful for our base if we could do that. I should talk to command about looking into that whenever comms get back up or we go back to the moon. Having our base be completely inconspicuous and hidden from, say, angry danmaku shooting former soldiers might be nice.
"Okay, thanks Daiyousei," I say to the fairy, now that we're almost here we should probably decide on how we're doing negotiations. "So how do you want to do this?" I ask Ringo.
Ringo shrugs. "I dunno, I guess Dai should talk to them first. We don't want to scare them or anything. Also they would need some explanation for why we know their house is here." She says. I don't get why she started that statement with an 'I dunno' when she had obviously already considered it beforehand but okay. That sounds reasonable.
"Okay, I guess so," I turn back to the fairy. "Can you talk to them first Daiyousei?" I ask her as nicely as I can.
"W-well I can, but they're going to know you're here anyway. Star's power will notice you." Huh, I guess we can't stealth this.
"Yeah, nah, that's fine. Starting with somebody they know would probably keep them from being immediately hostile," Ringo explains before I say anything. "We just want you to open negotiations for us."
Daiyousei looks worried, but still nods and walks slowly up to the door of the big tree. Ringo and I follow and stand off to the side of the door. We're far enough that we shouldn't seem like we pose much of an immediate threat. Unless we shot bullets I guess, but that seems to be a danger when interacting with absolutely anybody here. Daiyousei takes a deep breath before knocking on the door.
There's an awkwardly long pause after the knock. "Maybe they're not home?" Daiyousei says. She sounds like she's hoping for it pretty hard, but eventually the door opens slowly and another fairy, a bit smaller than Daiyousei, steps out.
Oh wow she's so cute! I mean the stolen kevlar helmet and camo jacket don't really go that well with the drill hair and frilly dress, but she's cute enough on her own that I still have to hold back the reflex to say awwwwww. If this is one of the fairies that stole from us I definitely don't want Ringo to hurt her or anything.
The other fairy looks a little relieved when she sees Daiyousei. "Oh, hello Dai," she starts off. "Who are they?"
"Um... They're Ringo and Seiran. They uh, wanted to talk to you." Daiyousei explains awkwardly. I don't think she thought through what she was going to say beforehand. I can sympathize there.
"Uh huh..." The other fairy takes about half a step back. I guess we're still worrying her even with having Daiyousei talk to her first. That's no good.
Daiyousei fidgets. "They're um... They're from that camp so we kinda... Stole from them." Well she sounds pretty sorry about it, but I guess we already knew that. It's how these other fairies act that actually matters.
The fairy takes another half step back as she opens her mouth slightly in realization. Her mouth is kind of weirdly shaped. That's kind of cute too. "Oh... Can you give me a second?" Before she gets an answer she starts yelling back into the house. "SUNNY! RETRIBUTION!" Wait what does that mean?
"SCATTER!" Something drops on the ground next to the fairy in the door...
My entire vision goes white and my ears ring so loud that I can't hear anything. They took a stupid flashbang from us! I hate these things so much! Do you know how much that noise hurts when you have giant rabbit ears? I grab my ears and hold them against my head as I try to get a hold of myself, but then something crashes into me and I fall over backwards.
Goddamn fairies. My brain hurts, I can't see or hear anything. This sucks. It takes a while of squinting before my vision comes back. It takes even longer before I can hear anything again. I try to piece together what happened. Apparently those fairies took at least one stun grenade from our equipment and figured out how to use it. When they realized we were here to get our stuff back, they decided to use one and get out of their house to make a break for it.
That was probably an okay plan but it looks like Ringo had managed to catch onto the fairy that Daiyousei was talking to earlier. Probably while they were scrambling past us. Nice. Ringo is still squinting somewhat, but otherwise looks pleased with herself. Even though that fairy is struggling to get out of Ringo's grip, there's no way she'll be able to break out. Not with how much dango Ringo's eaten. Not that that's probably necessary anyway, it's just a fairy.
[ ] Chase after the other fairies! [ ] We've got one fairy, we should be able to ask her NICELY where our things are in her house. [ ] Write in
[x] We've got one fairy, we should be able to ask her NICELY where our things are in her house.
My instincts tell me to chase the other fairies that got away, and I almost do so, but I hold back. They weren't expecting us, so they probably didn't have time to gather our stuff or move it out of here. I didn't see them, but they couldn't have been carrying much when they escaped. Our things are probably in this house. Even if I manage to catch more fairies, it won't add much more info than we can already get out of this one fairy.
That's assuming I could even find them. I don't know which direction they went in, or what they look like. Even if they were slow fliers like Daiyousei, we're still in much more familiar territory for them than for me. No, for now we should just focus on the fairy we have.
Speaking of that fairy, she's currently struggling to get out of Ringo's arms. She seems to be trying to not make a lot of noise, as if she's going to slip out without us noticing. That doesn't work very well when she's the only person we have to pay attention to though. Ringo doesn't have a hard time holding onto the fairy, but seems to be humoring her. "Oh hey, you're feistier than you look! Come on, don't you like hugs?"
The fairy obviously is not pleased with not being able to get away. "Well, not from jerks..." She mumbles unhappily. Aw, she's pouting.
"I don't think that's all that fair to say. You were the ones who stole from us. Also you hurt our ears and eyes with that flashbang." I say evenly. My ears are still ringing, and I can see that Daiyousei has fallen on the ground and is still rubbing her eyes. She probably got the worst of the blast.
The fairy looks at me, since she can get a good view of Ringo with the way she's being held. "Those are called flashbangs? That's a dumb sounding name."
Ringo laughs slightly. "Eh, flashbangs, stun grenades, whatever. What would you call them then?" She asks.
"Well Sunny was calling them light-boomers." Ringo snorts slightly at the answer and the fairy looks annoyed at her captor.
"Well whatever. So kid, why'd you do it?" Ringo moves on.
"I am not a kid. My name is Luna. And it was Sunny's dumb idea. 'You can't just leave a bunch of cool stuff like that sitting around! We'll put it to better use!' is what she said. We needed new helmets anyway." Luna explains. Well, we already knew that fairies are kind of self-centered, so I guess that's good enough reason for them.
I don't think she's going to apologize, not that that's what we're here for. "It's not just sitting around though, it was in our tents. We need those things back." I say.
Luna looks unimpressed. "What for? You weren't using it anyway. It was in a bunch of closed boxes."
I don't actually have much to say to that. We got a lot of stuff sent to us mostly for peace of mind, but we hadn't used most of it for anything. Still, I'd rather it be unused than used by fairies. Especially since these fairies seem pretty easily caught. There probably aren't a lot of places in Gensokyo that have Lunarian military weapons, and we're supposed to avoid revealing ourselves as much as possible. "That's not the point," I explain. Oh don't roll your eyes at me! "You fairies don't know what it's for, you could cause all kind of problems with it."
Luna nods. "Well, yes. We're going to cause problems for people anyway, that's kind of what we do. We're fairies." Yeah, okay, she's definitely not sorry. "You guys are youkai. Weren't you going to use that stuff to mess with people too?"
"Well, kind of. I guess. Not really." I say vaguely. I probably shouldn't tell this fairy that we're kinda here to purify everything.
"So isn't letting fairies mess with humans messing with humans by proxy? We're making your job easier," Luna seems happy with that logic. "So could you let me go now?"
"No." Ringo says. She seems to be amused by my trying to negotiate with this fairy, but I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere. Maybe I should be more direct.
"Look, Luna. Those things that you stole are ours. We need to get them back now. If you show us where our things are, we'll take them and let you go." There, that should be pretty clear.
"No." Luna says, trying to have the same tone as Ringo just had.
"Luna please..." Daiyousei says nervously as she awkwardly floats over to Ringo and Luna. "They promised that they won't hurt you, they just want to get their things back." I know Daiyousei is trying to help, but removing our ability to physically threaten Luna probably just makes things harder.
Luna jerks her head to the side and stares intensely at anything other than me or Daiyousei. Damn. I guess she doesn't want to talk anymore. You know, I wanted to be nice about this, but I'm not sure how effective it's turning out. I'm a bit unsure what I should say.
Ringo takes that as her cue. "Right! Negotiations are over now!" She yells happily as she spins to the side and kicks the door to the tree house off its hinges. Ringo I don't think you needed to do that, the door was already open. Ringo ignores Luna's noises of surprise and dismay as she walks into the fairy house confidently. I follow afterwards with a scared looking Daiyousei. I've seen Ringo break stuff like that plenty of times, but the fairies probably weren't expecting it.
Aside from the remnants of a stun grenade explosion and the door that apparently knocked over a pile of books and an armchair, it's quite nice in the fairy's tree house. It's not the kind of place I would like to live, since it's sized for someone considerably smaller than me, but I'd still call it quite cozy. The first room we walk into is apparently some combination of dining room, kitchen, and living room. The fairies don't appear to have a strong sense of organization, but I can understand more or less how the layout was developed. Things that are used together appear to be grouped together, but those groups aren't really organized logically. One side of the table for example has a big pile of newspapers and books, set right next to a coffee syphon and bean grinder. On the other side of the table though, I can already see some familiar boxes. Pretty sure those are the boxes of flares that Daiyousei was talking about. One of them is open, but I guess that's to be expected. They probably wouldn't have taken it without at least checking what was inside.
Ringo walks to the center of the room, easily pushing anything in her path away with her legs and hips. She makes it a point to knock everything over as violently as she can. Honestly she could probably do that without having ate any dango, this is all pretty small furniture, but okay. "So, this is how this is going to work. You can either tell Seiran and Dai over there where to find things, or I will have to search and find things for myself."
Luna looks distressed at the idea of Ringo romping through the house. "Okay..." She says reluctantly. I don't like it, but I guess that works.
It doesn't take all that long to gather up everything that Luna says is still in the house. She's pretty cooperative when faced with the prospect of having all the random knick-knacks in her house messed with (Why do they even have an American flag? That doesn't make any sense and also kinda pisses me off). I guess it's possible that she didn't volunteer everything, but the amount that we found seems pretty reasonable for how much four fairies could carry here in one trip while considering they had pockets available and that two of them got away with some other things. In total we find:
Almost 2 boxes of flares (Missing 4 flares) 2 sets of night vision goggles 3 stun grenades 1 small size radar jamming device (I'm surprised they carried this considering how heavy it is and that they probably don't even know what it is.) 2 boxes of handwarmers (Honestly I'd be fine letting the fairies have these. They're harmless.) 3 smoke grenades The helmet and jacket that Luna is wearing
We can probably carry this back on our own. The question is if that's good enough to cause the problem solved. When pressed, Luna said she didn't know where the other two would have gone, so we'd have to wait for them to get back if we wanted whatever stuff they had on them. Luna claims that all the big stuff is here though, the other fairies probably just have a couple more stun grenades and flares on them.
[ ] Stay here and try to catch the other fairies when they get back. [ ] Leave for now, we can come back later if it turns out they're causing trouble with our things. [ ] Leave it at that. The fairies probably can't cause that much trouble with the few things they have left. Let's not worry about it. [ ] Write In
[X] Leave for now, we can come back later if it turns out they're causing trouble with our things.
Once everything is gathered together on the table and Ringo is satisfied that we've looked in every room, she lets Luna go. I'm a little worried at the idea that the fairy might try to danmaku us, but it doesn't happen, she just floats around us looking a bit indignant.
Unlike the fairies, we didn't bring jackets, so Ringo is the only one with pockets. It might be hard to carry all of this. If we get Daiyousei to help and put some of the grenades in the box with the flares and the other ones in Ringo's pockets... Yeah it'll work but it'll still be a lot. I'm actually a little impressed at how much stuff these little fairies carried across Gensokyo in so little time. I think we could make it easier on ourselves going back though.
"So how about this, if you promise not to steal from us again, not cause trouble with anything your friends got away with, and not tell anybody where our camp is, you can keep the hand warmers." That's my offer. Originally I wanted it to sound more charitable than that, but as I started saying it more conditions that I needed to add kept coming to mind. It's not like these promises are that hard to keep though.
Luna looks slightly confused at my offer for a second before she realizes what I'm talking about. I guess she didn't know what they were called. "Oh," she says plainly, looking at the boxes of hand warmers. "I don't think you're actually giving me a choice."
"Well technically we are," Ringo replies "I don't see any reason why you wouldn't take it, but it is a choice still."
Luna sighs. "Even if I can't do anything and she would have done the same thing, Sunny is still going to give me grief for agreeing to that," She grabs a hand warmer and shakes it slightly. "Oh well. These things are quite nice, so it's better than fighting and getting nothing. Fine."
With that, we've successfully negotiated the return of most of our stolen equipment, which is probably good enough. I scoop up the smoke grenades and night vision goggles while Daiyousei grabs the boxes of flares for the second time today. We can leave the rest for Ringo.
"Alright, cool," Ringo says happily, then leans towards Luna and continues. "Just remember what the conditions are. We expect you to behave with anything we left with you. We CAN come back here you know." Then as an afterthought, "Also remember to share some hand warmers with Dai if she wants them." Oh I hadn't thought of that condition.
Luna agrees easily, probably just hoping that we'll get out of her house without any more of an incident. After Ringo gathers up the remaining equipment and some awkward goodbyes, we start flying back to camp.
It's actually quiet most of the way back. Ringo looks pretty pleased with herself, while Daiyousei is much less nervous than she had been earlier. I guess she feels more at ease with us since we more or less kept our promise to not use violence. We have to go slow enough for Daiyousei to keep up with us, but other than that it's just a normal flight over Gensokyo. I'm struck with the thought of how nice the sky is again.
"Anyway, thanks for the help Dai," Ringo says out of nowhere. I don't know why she would start that sentence with anyway when we weren't talking but okay. "You really saved us there. If you're ever around our camp and we're there, I'll treat you to some dango anytime."
I'm not so sure that it's a good idea to invite a fairy to our secret base, but Ringo probably wasn't thinking about it too much. Dango is her standard way of repaying anyone for anything. Really it's just so she has an excuse to eat some too, as if she needs an excuse. It's kind of annoying though, we can't just buy dango here, so I'm the one that has to make it.
"Okay, sure!" Oh wow, Daiyousei's really cute when she smiles like that. "Um, why are you camping out here though? Aren't you scared of the feral youkai? Don't you have a home somewhere?" She sounds curious but also genuinely concerned about us.
Ringo hesitates for just a second. "We're ah... Exploring. We're not from around here, so we want to check things out before we settle down somewhere to live." I guess she didn't really have an explanation for that planned since we aren't really supposed to be talking to anybody. I don't have an explanation either though, so I keep my mouth shut.
Daiyousei gapes slightly in surprise at this. "Are you from outside?" She sounds a bit excited about it.
"Uh... Kinda. It's a little complicated, don't worry about it too much." I'd snark at Ringo's lack of a cover story, but I don't think I'd do any better thinking one up. We're probably going to need to come up with something to explain our presence now that I think about it. We were supposed to be stealthed from youkai by the spider drone, but that's not an option now. We can try to be discreet, we're actually not that bad at it, but our camp is only covered by the trees. The longer we're here the better chance that we'll be found.
We really should contact command soon and see if they have any suggestions on what we should do. The whole mission is probably shot, and it's weird that we haven't been ordered to do anything different yet.
The silence is probably because comms are down, but I'm not sure why that's happening either. It's never happened before as far as I know. It can't just be because we're in Gensokyo, because it only just stopped working today. It couldn't have been when our stealth from the drone broke either, because I used comms after that too. That just leaves me with the conclusion that Reisen must have done something at the capital that cut us off when she used the portal. I don't really know how or why.
Luckily Daiyousei doesn't press Ringo much harder for details. That's nice of her. I guess she's smart enough to realize when Ringo is being intentionally vague. She might also just believe that we're from the outside. She does still look pretty interested in us. As if we're suddenly going to do something weird. Trust me, Daiyousei, outsiders aren't that interesting. Or at least their humans aren't from what I've heard. Not as interesting as the moon in any case.
It's late afternoon by the time we get back to camp, though the day was so busy I feel like it should be even later than that. After dropping off the things in the equipment tent, it's time to say goodbye to Daiyousei.
"You let us know if those others start acting up with our stuff okay?" Ringo asks nicely while I give Daiyousei a handshake and thank her. Once I'm done Ringo gives her a big hug. Daiyousei seems to be pretty okay with it, though she's a little surprised. She agrees to Ringo's request and smiles when Ringo reminds her to stop by for dango some time.
Hm, I feel a little jealous. I should have hugged her too. Daiyousei really is cute.
"So that went well. Good work out there and all that." Ringo says as we watch Daiyousei float into the surrounding forest, waving back at us. Uh, hold on what did Ringo just say? Okay, I should probably stop her before she calls it a day.
"Uh, I think we still have work to do," I can see the groan attempting to escape Ringo before she forces it back down. "Oh come on, we can't just leave the others out there!"
Ringo sighs, "Yeah you're right, I know. I've just been thinking about how to handle it."
"That's a relief." I'm not actually sure if I'm being sarcastic or not. Ringo ignores it either way.
"We can't just run out there randomly. We're in hostile territory, they're all poorly equipped and kinda bad at danmaku. If they haven't come back yet it's because somebody or something is keeping them out there, they're lost, or..." She doesn't finish the thought.
I understand what she's implying by not saying the last option, but I don't think it would be that bad. At least I hope not. I mean I'm sure they're fine! It's gotta be one of those first two options anyway. "So do you have any ideas on what we should do?" I ask. Let's just keep the conversation rather than worrying about that other option that definitely wouldn't be the case.
"Well, we still have an hour or two before the sun is down completely, so we'll want to at least try something before all the tough youkai come out," Ringo says, turning back to the equipment tent. "Something caught my eye in here earlier, and I thought we could give it a try."
Ringo digs through one of the open boxes for a bit before coming back. Oh, two way radios. We don't really use those much considering the whole telepathy thing, but on the odd occasion that a lunarian is involved in an operation I know that the army keeps them around. Lunarians aren't connected to the comms we rabbits use. Or maybe the lunarians just don't like listening to all the chatter and random rumors that rabbits sent to each other. I don't know.
"Two of these were missing by the way," Ringo says as she drops one of the devices into my hand. "I hope those fairies enjoy them. Also we should probably switch off the default frequency so they don't hear us on accident."
"Huh..." I'm not that bothered by fairies with walkie talkies I guess. These radios aren't even going to cover that much distance unless you're flying. Gensokyo is too full of trees and other obstacles in the way. It isn't exactly ideal for us either, but it's at least something to let us split up and search nearby while staying organized without comms.
"So, what do you think? We can search around a bit before night, or we can stay here and hope they come back." Ringo asks me. I feel like she should give more orders since she's the one in charge, but she's always been like this. That's probably why the others felt like it was okay to leave on their own come to think of it.
[ ] Let's both stay at camp for safety, the others will have to find their way back. [ ] Let's just look until nightfall, we're not good enough at danmaku to ensure our safety against powerful youkai. [ ] We've got night vision goggles, and our friends are out there. We're looking until we find somebody.
If you want to leave camp, also vote here: Seiran will: [ ] Try going up the mountain [ ] Try looking around the base of the mountain [ ] Stay at camp in case somebody comes back
Ringo will: [ ] Try going up the mountain [ ] Try looking around the base of the mountain [ ] Stay at camp in case somebody comes back
Other suggestions for the search are also welcome and may improve the rate of success.
[X] Let's just look until nightfall, we're not good enough at danmaku to ensure our safety against powerful youkai. Seiran will: [X] Try going up the mountain Ringo will: [X] Try looking around the base of the mountain
There are 3 missing rabbits, Sumi, Yuzuki and Chiyo. We don't know where the others went, but Sumi went up the mountain to find Seiran, so I think Seiran should be the one to look for her, and she should start by checking the way up to that spider probe.
[x] Let's just look until nightfall, we're not good enough at danmaku to ensure our safety against powerful youkai. [X] Seiran will try looking around the base of the mountain [X] Ringo will try going up the mountain
I need to think about it. There are three other members of our unit missing, Yuzuki, Sumi, and Chiyo. Sumi left camp to come find me after I lost, and the other two disappeared some time after that to avoid getting shot by Reisen. Just like Ringo said, something is probably keeping them out there, whether that means they've been captured or are just lost somewhere. Yuzuki and Sumi know that it's not safe to stay out overnight, especially now that the spider drone is destroyed. Chiyo is a bit of a different case, but if she left along with Yuzuki, then even that shouldn't be a problem.
I definitely want to find them as soon as possible, but it's not going to be easy to do that at night. We're not all that strong compared to some of the youkai around here. We know that youkai are more active at night, so we'll want to avoid staying out for too long.
If we split up, we'll obviously cover more distance, the real question is where we should go. Ringo's powerup from the dango earlier is probably wearing down or gone by now, but even without it, she's more powerful than me. Something about danmaku just makes sense to her in a way that nobody else in the unit picked up on. If one of us is going to go to the more dangerous parts of the mountain, it should probably be her. I'm not trying to avoid danger, it just makes the most sense to do it this way.
"Well I think it would probably make the most sense if you went up the mountain and I looked around the lower areas?" I phrase it as a question for some reason. I guess to make it easier on her to refuse the suggestion, but then that's probably not going to happen.
Ringo nods at that. "Sure, sounds fine to me. We know Sumi went that way at least, so I'll try to find her." She says. I'm not surprised that she's totally okay with it. Ringo is really open to suggestions when deciding on orders, probably even too much so. That's probably how she gets along well with Sumi, by letting her do whatever she wants.
As for me, I can go check the lower areas of the mountain. There's a lot of mountain to check, and the others could be anywhere. We've covered this area a lot during our earlier information gathering, so while I can't claim that I know absolutely everything that lives around here, I do know that we haven't found anything too dangerous yet.
Ringo glances up to see where the sun is in the sky, then starts walking away. "Well, grab anything you think you'll need, I'm gonna take a couple things then head out soon. Time's a wastin."
"Good luck." I say to her, getting a wave in response. I'm on my own now I guess. I shouldn't really need anything, but I decide to go back to the equipment tent and grab a pair of the night vision goggles just in case. That and the radio that Ringo gave me are probably good enough. Well I guess I also take my mallet, but that's not something that I normally think about any more. I don't really go anywhere without it.
After I'm equipped, I pick a random direction to start the search in, away from the direction that Ringo will probably take. Right before I go to leave, I hear my radio turn on.
"Oh yeah, I should check if this works. Mic check mic check. Yo." And then she starts beatboxing.
Ringo stop, you don't have to do that. Why are you even good at beatboxing?
"Yes, it works." I say into my radio.
Ringo stops. "Okay, cool thanks. Over."
Well I can at least appreciate that she was checking them. I don't know if these things are going to be that useful though. "Ringo, just remember that we don't know the exact range that these are going to cover. If I don't respond, try flying up in the air to get less things between us, but there still might be a point where we can't hear each other." I caution her.
"Right, also, notify each other of any problems or relevant information, avoid confrontation with Gensokyo natives as much as possible, and try to make it back to camp by the time the sun has set completely. Over." Ringo gives a brief overview of the mission to assure me that she is taking this seriously. Well, as seriously as she takes anything else I guess.
"See you in a couple of hours then, good luck." I repeat myself, but I'm sure there's no harm in it. I do want things to go well.
"Over and out." She answers.
I look back and see Ringo take off into the sky, but I think I'll stay on the ground for now. Camp is in a largely wooded area at the base of the mountain. Flying over all of the trees doesn't give me a very good chance of seeing much on the ground. Not that walking through the trees is much better for visibility, but I think I'll start on the ground for now.
I decide on a starting path pretty much randomly. Ringo may have the more dangerous part of the mountain, but at least she has some leads to go on. She can follow the river for a while then either head up the waterfall or continue on and find where the spider drone was last. Come to think of it, I'm not sure how much of it is still there. We know it was destroyed because our stealth went out, but we haven't checked on it since then. It might be a good idea to recover whatever is left of that thing at some point.
I suppose I could follow the river as well, just by going downstream instead of upstream. That's eventually going to dump me out at the lake where Daiyousei lives, which is probably not where the others would have went, but it's at least something to start with. Wandering randomly in the middle of the wilderness has too low of a chance of finding anybody or anything of interest. I decide that I'll start with the river and see if I can find anything unusual that would keep the others from getting back to camp.
I move along at as fast a pace that I can without making too much noise. I could just fly slightly above the ground to get rid of noise, but that takes energy and concentration that I'd rather devote to the search. Occasionally I come across a small animal or two, but other than that I don't find anything for quite a while.
Eventually, Ringo's voice comes over the radio again, a bit quieter than before. "Well, the kappa are still here, but I don't think they'd take any of our guys prisoner. There's no reason for it. Over." She says. From what we know about them, she's probably right. We found out about the kappa almost immediately when we started here, a lot of their settlements are pretty close to our camp, so we've had time to see their activities. Their brand of science and engineering isn't really near the level of the lunarians, but they're still orders better than pretty much anything else we've seen in Gensokyo.
They were closest to us, so they would probably be the first to notice us once our stealth ran out. For that matter, they were also close to where the spider drone was walking around purifying things, so there's no way they couldn't have been somewhat aware of that, and by that extension, us. I decide to suggest to Ringo...
(Choice before the end of the chapter) ------- [ ] "They could have seen one of the others at some point today. Maybe you should check if they're acting or doing anything differently." [ ] "There's no reason they'd take any of us prisoner or anything, so it'd just take up time to bother with them. You should keep moving." -------
There's a small pause after my response. "You're not saying over when you're done speaking Seiran. Over."
Ringo, these things are full duplex, we can talk at the same time through them. I just answer her with "True." She probably knows already anyway.
After that, things are quiet. It's probably over an hour of walking until I start noticing any changes in the area. It has been getting darker just because of time passing, but as I continue forward it starts to feel a bit unnatural. The plants seem just a little bit less healthy, and there are fewer animals around. I can't help but get a little more cautious as I continue forward. It gets too quiet around here for something not to be happening ahead.
I try to silence myself as much as possible, I'm actually pretty good at sneaking, considering our unit specializes in infiltration and information gathering. Without hearing my own movement, I eventually start to hear a slight swishing sound. Maybe something like fabric? There's definitely something large moving around a lot up ahead. I try to get as close as possible before taking cover behind a tree and peeking out.
There's a single adult woman near a bend in the river ahead. As far as I can tell, she's human, not that I've seen many of those. She has green hair and and an elaborate dress covered with bows and frills. As for what she's doing, she's just spinning in place with her eyes closed. The whole scene just feels a bit bizarre. Some woman is spinning with absolute perfect balance alone in the middle of a forest, far away from any human civilization. There's obviously something to this, but I'm not sure if I should even get involved.
[ ] Talk to the strange woman. I need to get more information about this. [ ] Just watch and wait, something about this feels like it shouldn't be interrupted. [ ] Move far enough away to call Ringo and ask for her help. She kind of did the same for me after all. [ ] Ringo said to avoid confrontations. I don't know if this woman will be hostile or not. I'll just leave.
[X] "They could have seen one of the others at some point today. Maybe you should check if they're acting or doing anything differently." [X] Just watch and wait, something about this feels like it shouldn't be interrupted.
[X] "There's no reason they'd take any of us prisoner or anything, so it'd just take up time to bother with them. You should keep moving." [X] Just watch and wait, something about this feels like it shouldn't be interrupted.
[X] "They could have seen one of the others at some point today. Maybe you should check if they're acting or doing anything differently." [X] Just watch and wait, something about this feels like it shouldn't be interrupted.
I'm not exactly sure what I should do here. There's some woman I don't know anything about doing some... Thing that I also know nothing about. I guess it's possible she's crazy and not doing anything at all, but either way I probably shouldn't get involved. The thought to call Ringo and ask her what she thinks crosses my mind for a second, but I decide against it. I don't know how much she's trying to sneak around the kappa right now. It's probably better not to distract her until I know she's done gathering information.
Still, watching this woman is giving me really weird feelings. My instincts are telling me to stay away, but I also feel like something in me is being drawn towards her as well. Maybe it's just the way she's spinning. There's definitely some kind of magic something or other going on here, because these sensations aren't really physical ones. Honestly, this along with the almost total silence is getting me a little creeped out. If even animals are staying away, I probably shouldn't be bothering her either.
I duck my head back behind tree, deciding to just wait until the swishing noise of the woman's spinning stops. Her eyes are closed, but I can't guarantee they'll stay that way. My ears poking out whenever I try to peek would make me easy to spot, so I'll just stay still for now. I guess this is why Ringo and Sumi wear hats most of the time, but I don't like my ears getting squished down like that.
It takes a while, and I'm reminded of my least favorite part of stealth; waiting. It'd be one thing if this was a tense situation where I was in danger of being caught, but this is just the boring kind of waiting. All I can do is stare at all the trees. You know, forests were kind of interesting when I first came to Gensokyo, since we don't have a whole lot in the way of plant life on the moon. After this long of living in one though, I'm starting to get annoyed by them. So many trees that don't do anything but get in the way. I guess having them around is just another Earth thing that I don't appreciate yet. I just feel like the space could be better used.
After a while, I start to wonder if the woman's ever going to stop spinning. She's probably spent the last fifteen minutes doing nothing but spinning at this point, and that's just the time that I've been here. Who knows how long she was at it before I found her. Doesn't she ever get dizzy?
Ten minutes or so after that, I'm starting to wonder what exactly I'm waiting for. I could just go. When I start considering it though, I finally notice the sound slowing down. Well... Crap.
I had all that time to think about it and didn't really come up with a plan for what I'm doing next.
The woman makes a light sigh as her movement finally comes to a stop. She sounds... Content maybe? Like she just got done with a nice meal I guess. That's a little strange, but I'll worry about it later. I'm more worried that she seems to be walking towards me. I haven't let go of my mallet the whole time I've been waiting, but I still feel my grip tighten on it involuntarily. Just in case, I start trying to remember all the patterns on my spell cards. I'm not the best at that. Okay so "Speed Strike" has the lines of shots that go curvy at the end...
The woman stops walking near my tree, but she shouldn't be far forward enough to see me. I'm hoping she'll turn around and leave, but then she talks, facing my direction. "Thank you for waiting. Many don't have that kind of decency."
Crap! I can't remember how to do "The Eagle Has Been Shot" yet! I still jump up and hold my hammer out. She's probably going to get the first pattern like this, I should've thought of this while I was waiting!
Instead of shooting at me, the woman is just standing there calmly with her hands up. "Ah, no, it's okay. I don't want to fight you. If you were human I would warn you and try to scare you off, but you're a youkai. I'm sure you know what you're getting into if you're going up the mountain." She says, I guess trying to calm me down.
Should I let myself be calmed down? I'm not totally convinced, but it's at least true that she hasn't fired at me yet. Maybe some people here aren't as quick to start danmaku fights as I thought? I try to relax a bit, but I'm not letting my mallet rest on the ground yet. I hope this woman understands.
As if it wasn't obvious from her behavior, now that I get a closer look, this woman is pretty obviously not actually human. She just looks a bit too... I guess perfect would be the word here. I could say pure but that kind of has a different meaning where I come from. Regardless, this woman's appearance just doesn't seem to have enough flaws for some one who apparently makes a normal habit of walking around a youkai infested mountain. Her skin seems to be completely flawless, her clothes a little too clean and frilly. I try not to think of her as creepy, but first impressions are hard to shake.
I decide to start with the obvious question. "Who are you?"
The woman doesn't look surprised at the question, but does make some kind of face in reaction to it. Maybe disappointment. Not a lot of it though. "Well, people do make a point to avoid talking about me," She says, before clearing her throat and continuing. "My name is Hina Kagiyama. I am the goddess of misfortune."
Okay sure, a goddess. That makes sense. I mean, I've never heard of her, but apparently there are all kinds of gods all over Gensokyo so whatever. We have a few in the lunar capital as well, so I guess it's the same kind of thing. "I'm Seiran..." I feel like it's a pretty lackluster introduction after being told you're talking to a goddess, but I can't think of anything else to add on to it. We're not supposed to say we're from the moon, and I'm not good enough at improvising to think of something else.
Hina seems to not be bothered by it though. "Well then Seiran, did you need anything from me? Or were you just curious as to what I was doing?" She asks nicely.
I mean I did stick around and wait, so I might as well satisfy my curiosity. "I guess the second one."
Hina smiles and launches into what I assume is a speech she's made several times. "Oh wonderful, let me explain. You see, as a goddess of misfortune, I'm naturally attuned to the negative energies and bad luck that clings to living things and the environment itself. Over time, this attunement draws those negative forces towards me, allowing me to gather them all up. Once I've gathered them, I can absorb all of the misfortune, keeping it from befalling any living thing." She explains, apparently pretty happy to get a chance to talk about it.
"Uh huh..." I say, trying to process how that works. It seems like a simple enough idea, and I guess I can't really understand the finer details without being a goddess myself.
Hina looks a little worried at my thoughtfulness and continues on maybe just a bit too quickly. "I should clarify though, that it is perfectly safe to talk to or be around me. What you just saw was me absorbing the misfortune from the environment. While you may notice it being highly concentrated in some places. I can assure you that I am making it perfectly safe."
Okay, maybe people are afraid of her for what she does then? She certainly seems to want to keep me from feeling that way. I admit I was a little freaked out by the foreboding feeling of the area combined with how animals seem to instinctively avoid her and her doll like appearance. I can see how humans might want to avoid her for those things, given that they're pretty weak and fragile and probably a little stupid.
"Okay, I get it." I say. Hina looks relieved that I'm not scared of her, and I can't help but feel a bit bad for her. Maybe I could ask her for information. She seems like she doesn't get to talk to people much, despite wanting to, so she'll probably be willing to help if she can.
[ ] I'm looking for some friends. Have you seen any other rabbits lately? Do you know of anybody who might have seen them? [ ] Is there anything around here that would maybe like... Make my friends go missing? They should be home by now. [ ] I'm going to be in the area for a while, is there anything I should be careful of that I might not have seen? [ ] How did you notice me? I was trying not to alert you. [ ] Are you sure it's safe to be around you? The animals don't seem to think so. [ ] So is the area here where there's lots of misfortune going to get better or something? [ ] You take people's misfortune? What's involved in that? Could you do it for me? [ ] You mentioned scaring away humans? I don't think I've seen any humans around here. Do they come around here often? [ ] If you're a goddess, does that mean you have a shrine near here or something? [ ] Why were you spinning? [ ] I don't suppose you've heard about the uh... Spider thing that's been around here lately?
Feel free to ask as much as you want, (even something not on the list) but keep in mind that talking takes up time. Or you could:
[ ] Ask no questions. Avoid staying near the misfortune goddess.
[x] I'm looking for some friends. Have you seen any other rabbits lately? Do you know of anybody who might have seen them? [x] Is there anything around here that would maybe like... Make my friends go missing? They should be home by now. [x] I'm going to be in the area for a while, is there anything I should be careful of that I might not have seen? [x] How did you notice me? I was trying not to alert you. [x] Why were you spinning?
[X] I'm looking for some friends. Have you seen any other rabbits lately? Do you know of anybody who might have seen them? [X] Is there anything around here that would maybe like... Make my friends go missing? They should be home by now. [X] I'm going to be in the area for a while, is there anything I should be careful of that I might not have seen? [X] How did you notice me? I was trying not to alert you. [X] You take people's misfortune? What's involved in that? Could you do it for me?
If you feel something in you drawn to her ritual, that seems like you might have misfortune to get rid of.
[X] I'm looking for some friends. Have you seen any other rabbits lately? Do you know of anybody who might have seen them? [X] Is there anything around here that would maybe like... Make my friends go missing? They should be home by now. [X] How did you notice me? I was trying not to alert you. [X] You take people's misfortune? What's involved in that? Could you do it for me? [X] Why were you spinning?
[X] I'm looking for some friends. Have you seen any other rabbits lately? Do you know of anybody who might have seen them? [X] Is there anything around here that would maybe like... Make my friends go missing? They should be home by now. [X] How did you notice me? I was trying not to alert you. [X] I'm going to be in the area for a while, is there anything I should be careful of that I might not have seen? [X] You take people's misfortune? What's involved in that? Could you do it for me? [X] Why were you spinning?
Well, I can think of a few questions at least. Hina might not have any useful information, but I might as well try to get some information while I have someone who isn't hostile here. I'm on a time limit, but between asking the locals or randomly wandering, I guess I'll go with asking.
"So I was interested in knowing what you were doing, but I guess I could also use some help." Hina nods and looks at me expectantly, but doesn't interrupt. "I'm looking for some of my friends. Have you seen any other rabbits around here lately? Do you know of anybody who might have seen them?"
Hina thinks about it for a moment. "Hm... I did notice two people moving through the area much earlier in the day. I don't know if they were rabbits or not, but it could have been your friends. They were heading around the mountain rather than up or down it as far as I could tell. There aren't a lot of people in this area consistently though, so I don't know who else you could check with. I'm sorry if that doesn't help much."
Well that's something at least. It does match with what we know happened as well. Yuzuki and Chiyo left together. It would help if she knew they were rabbits though, because it could have just been two other people. "You noticed them but didn't notice if they were rabbits? Couldn't you see their ears?" I would think that would be a give away, I know that Yuzuki and Chiyo don't wear hats normally.
Hina shakes her head lightly. "I only noticed their misfortune, I can sense that without seeing someone."
Oh okay, that makes sense. I had been wondering so I might as well confirm it. "So that's how you knew I was hiding?" I ask. Hina nods.
"If it helps at all, one of them had very very little misfortune, while the other just had a normal amount." She adds. I don't really think it helps, I have no frame of reference for what that even means, but I guess I appreciate the effort. She's definitely trying to be helpful.
"Is there anything around here that would maybe like... Make them go missing?" I continue with my questioning. "They've been gone for hours, but they know how to find our place. They should be home by now."
Hina nods in understanding, then gestures to the side. "If you don't mind, can we walk and talk? I have more I need to get done tonight." She begins moving before I answer, but walks slowly and doesn't turn away from me in case I decline.
"Sure I guess" I want more information. We start walking along the river. I notice that we're going back the way I originally came, but I guess I won't complain about it.
Once I catch up and start walking beside her, Hina starts talking again. "I suppose the most likely thing would be that they got lost, but if you say they know how to get back, then you're probably asking for something more specific than that," Yeah, that's not all that likely. Being able to fly kind of makes getting lost a lot harder to pull off, since you can just go up in the sky to orient yourself. "I suppose there are a couple of other things that could be keeping them as well. If they went too deep into tengu territory, they could have gotten captured. They should have been caught and warned on entering though, the wolf tengu guards are very vigilant about doing that."
That's a possibility. I don't know why any of them would do that though. We scouted out the tengu's territory while we were stealthed, and there isn't much of anything worth sneaking in there for as far as I know. It's also further up the mountain, so I probably won't be able to check it before it gets dark. Maybe Ringo will get to it.
Hina looks at me and sees that I'm busy thinking about it, so she continues. "They could have also gone near the hermit, Kasen Ibaraki's house. I know that that place is magically hidden, so getting too close to it without following a specific path would cause you to lose your way. It would definitely let them out eventually though, and they could make their way back from there... Unless they somehow managed to make it through."
I don't know what the other rabbits would want with a hermit, but they probably wouldn't know they were going to a hermit's house anyway. That feels like another possibility that wouldn't make sense to me if it ends up true. I guess I can't rule it out though.
"Other than other miscellaneous youkai attacks, I can't think of anything else that would keep your rabbit friends from coming back to you." Hina concludes.
Random youkai attacks could also be a problem, but it's not something to go on unless I know what kind of youkai we're dealing with. "Could you tell me about those as well? I'm going to be in the area for a while, is there anything I should be careful of that I might not have seen yet?" I ask. I notice that the plants in the area looks a bit healthier compared to when I came through here originally. I also don't get the same feeling of something being wrong that I got before. I guess this is what Hina does when she absorbs misfortune in an area.
"Well I don't know what you might have seen, but there are quite a few youkai around the mountain. The kappa and tengu are of course the largest groups, but there are plenty of lone youkai living on the fringes as well. Most are only powerful enough to bother humans, any youkai that is too powerful here is usually dealt with by one of those larger groups or the Moriyas." Hina explains. "I have heard however that that wanted amanojaku from the incident two years ago may be around here lately. I would guess that she's hiding in the inverted castle while miss Shinmyomaru is occupied with whatever the current incident is, but that's just my guess. She could be anywhere."
I don't really know what she's talking about, but it sounds like it's news that a normal person would have heard about before. I'll just pretend that I get it. "I see. Is that dangerous?"
Hina spins in a circle once while she continues walking, then answers. "I don't know. She has managed to avoid being caught for two years, so there is something to be said for that, but I don't know if she's dangerous or not. I have heard that the reward has gone up again lately, but I'm not interested in that sort of thing."
I'm not very interested in earth money either, but I did catch Hina mentioning something else there that might be worth keeping in mind. An inverted castle. I never saw it, but Yuzuki talked about it before. She said it annoyed her, but there are a lot of things that annoy her like that. I guess it's possible that she went back there, though I'm not sure what she would be planning to do. Flip it rightside-up?
Hina also mentioned something about the Moriyas. I recognize the name as the same one on the shrine near the top of the mountain. I don't think Yuzuki or Chiyo would qualify as youkai that are too powerful and need to be dealt with though. Neither of them is that good at shooting danmaku or using magic. I guess I could ask the people at that shrine if they know anything though.
Hina comes to a stop with another twirl. "Did you need anything else? This seems like a good spot for me to continue working tonight." She asks, occasionally spinning in place while she talks.
I'm drawing a blank on anything else that's really important that I could ask. With how she keeps rotating though, I guess I'm a little curious about something not as mission critical. "Why are you spinning?"
Hina continues to twirl in place at random points. "It's just how I do what I do."
Hina hums happily. "Yes. It helps me focus on the natural energies of the surrounding world and specifically draw out the misfortune from the people and the environment."
"So to draw out misfortune from people all you have to do is spin at them?" I guess it's just something that I don't understand, but then I probably couldn't explain to people how I pull bullets out of other dimensions, so it's probably the same thing.
Hina giggles slightly. "Something like that. If you would like, I can show you. The amount of misfortune on you isn't so high that it is unmanageable, but I would still be willing to help you with it."
I look down at myself as if I'm going to be able to see a blob of misfortune stuck on me. Thankfully there's nothing there, because my mind was imagining some kind of gross purple and black goop for some reason. "Uh... Sure?" I guess there's no harm in letting her spin at me. She's certainly been doing it enough already.
"Oh wonderful!" Hina perks up happily before grabbing my hand in both of her own. She closes her eyes and concentrates for a few seconds, then lets me go. "Well then, just a moment." She says to me before taking a step back and starting to spin.
Oh, okay. This kind of feels like how I felt behind the tree. I feel like I'm being drawn towards Hina, but not in a physical way. Something more spiritual that is harder to pin down. It's a little strange but after a short while I do start to feel oddly relieved. I guess it's kind of like the feeling when you've been told that you don't have to do some task you had been dreading, only I can't think of what that task would be.
Anyway, it's pretty nice.
After a minute or two, Hina slows to a stop, ending her spinning with a small curtsy. "Thank you." She says simply, as if she had just finished a meal.
I'm a little surprised how simple that was. "That's all?" I ask. I guess there was probably a lot of goddess stuff that went on that I can't really understand.
Hina nods, but then jumps slightly, seeming to suddenly remember something. "There is one other thing actually," She looks a bit nervous all of the sudden. "I hate to ask this because it feels like I'm forcing you, but if you would stop by my shrine at some point and maybe give me a quick prayer it would help me out a lot. The Moriyas were nice enough to let me put up a small shrine at the bottom of the path to their shrine, near where they're planning to build the tramway. My name isn't on it explicitly to avoid people being unsettled by it, but I definitely can receive some faith from it so..."
Oh it's a religion thing. I guess that makes sense if she's a goddess. "Uh... If I can find time." I answer. Rabbits aren't known for being all that devout, but it's a bit of a different thing when you are speaking directly to a goddess who just performed a ritual to remove bad fortune from you. I guess I can try to do her this favor if I have time.
Hina sighs with relief. "Thank you, that's all I'm asking. You don't have to convert to worship me full time or anything. It's just that every little bit helps."
I'm out of questions, and I know that it's getting late now. There are probably only a few minutes until the sun sets, so I need to get going. "Well, thank you for all your help Hina. I'll let you get back to work."
"It was no trouble. Do come find me again if you run into any bad luck." She says happily. She waves at me a bit as I turn to leave, then starts to spin again.
Well, that was a lot of information, but it's all speculation and none of it may matter. There wasn't anything concrete. She wasn't even sure if the people she saw were rabbits or not. I don't have a lot of time to investigate anything, so I decide to...
[ ] Head back to camp. I can regroup with Ringo and we can decide on a plan of what to do from there. [ ] Go to Hina's shrine and pray. She asked nicely, and I know where the main path up the mountain is already. [ ] Tell Ringo over the radio that I'm staying out longer. I need to check on: - [ ] The tengu's territory - [ ] The Moriya shrine - [ ] The upside-down castle - [ ] The hermit's house
[X] Go to Hina's shrine and pray. She asked nicely, and I know where the main path up the mountain is already.
I have time, but not enough of it to investigate anything well enough that it would matter. I can do this one small thing now, then Ringo and I can figure out what to do when I get back. Going to a shrine probably won't help with the mission, but I guess that's okay. I'll just think of it as paying back someone who helped out.
I'll call Ringo first though, might as well check in with her. "Hey Ringo, you there?" I say into the radio. I try to be quiet just in case she's in hostile territory, not that it would probably help.
"Yup, I'm here, what's up? Over." She answers back pretty much immediately.
She's still doing that over thing I guess. "Okay, I haven't found anyone, but I did get some information about things that are going on in the area. I have one more quick thing to do, then I'm coming back. How about you?"
"Same here on all of that actually. Taking a bit of a detour, but it won't take long. I'm calling a meeting when we get back. Over." No surprise there. Ringo's official title is Chief Information Management Officer, and she has it for more of a reason than to just have the highest rank in the unit. Even if she's lazy, she is also probably the best of us at keeping our priorities straight. It's not unusual for Ringo to call at least one meeting per day when we're actually doing something, just so she can hear everything from everyone and get a full understanding of every situation she can.
"Okay, that's fine, see you then." I say, lifting off into the air and orienting myself towards where I want to go.
"Lemme know if you run into any trouble. Over and out." Ringo concludes with that, and the radio clicks off.
I figure out which direction the main path up the mountain is and start flying towards it. Staying in the trees isn't really worth it at this point. It's getting too dark to search for anyone anyway. I also have a specific destination now, so I might as well fly there quickly before it gets too late in the day.
While I'm thinking about it though, I'm a little annoyed by earth time. I don't have it as bad as Chiyo does of course, but I still don't feel like I've adjusted to the way that Earth does timing. I'm used to a day being something like 29 and a half times as long and having a bunch of cycles within each day. I mean objectively it makes sense, having a living cycle of 24 hours match up with the day night cycle I can understand. I've just lived on lunar time for so long that it's still throwing me off. It definitely doesn't help that we use the same words to describe segments of time, but most of ours are slightly shorter. The faster cycles of this planet around the sun are making me feel like everything is taking less time when it's actually taking more. It's been an awkward adjustment period. I wonder how much longer we're going to be on Earth. Maybe I won't have to get used to it.
Regardless, it's not a long flight to get to the main mountain path. She said it was near where a tram was being built, so it's probably near the bottom somewhere. A tram probably would be pretty helpful to people who can't just fly everywhere, though I'm not sure why those people would come all the way out here just to get to the big shrine at the top of the mountain. If the Moriyas wanted humans to come to them, why'd they put themselves on top of a mountain covered with youkai?
Oh hey here it is.
Hina's shrine, at least I have to assume it's hers, is a relatively new looking wooden structure, barely even big enough that a person could fit inside. There are a few steps leading up to the front of it where I guess you're supposed to leave any offerings and pray, but other than that there isn't all that much to it. In front of those steps, I can see a small sign saying that you should offer prayers for good fortune if you're journeying up the mountain. I guess removing bad fortune and having good fortune are basically the same thing.
Hina mentioned her name wasn't on this intentionally, but still it doesn't really feel like it's HER shrine if that makes sense. At least not from the impression I got from her during our short interaction. It feels kind of like an afterthought that was just stuck in here to coincide with a business venture. Even more so when I notice the second sign a few feet off to the right that mentions this is the future site of "The Youkai Mountain Aerial Tramway". I guess gods have to get faith somehow though.
Religion really isn't so much a big thing for rabbits, probably because we're not exposed to it very much. The few gods and goddesses that are on the moon are even less interested in talking to us than the lunarians, so we tend to just let it be. I guess it's also part of it that most of us aren't hugely loyal most of the time, so most probably wouldn't stick with regular prayer for very long even if they started at some point.
I guess what I'm saying is that I don't really know much about praying. Do I just like... Think at this shrine now? What am I even praying for? I guess it should be to have my misfortune taken away, but that already happened when I talked directly to the goddess I'm supposed to be praying to so that's probably not even necessary right now.
For starters, I walk up to the shrine and bow my head. I guess I should also clasp my hands together. That seems right. Now for the actual praying, I guess it should be something like...
I know I just saw you Hina, but if you could help my friends at all, keep bad luck away from them so they can stay safe while they're stuck out on this mountain, I think that would be the thing I'd ask for... Thanks I guess? I don't know how you are supposed to end prayers.
I stay still like that for a bit longer. I know nothing is going to happen, it's not like she's going to answer me, that's not how this works. I'll just have to have faith that it'll work out now. That's probably more how it does work.
When I'm finished, it's time to head back to camp, so I get flying. Honestly, I feel a bit comforted from coming here and doing this. Like things are a little bit closer to being okay, even though I don't really have anything that would indicate they were. It's weird, but I assume this is how religious stuff is supposed to make you feel. Kind of a shame we didn't get much opportunity to do this sort of thing on the moon.
On my way back when my radio comes back on. "Seiran come in. Over."
It hasn't even been that long since we just talked Ringo, why do you sound so excited? "I'm done here, I'm coming back now, don't worry." I answer.
Ringo laughs once before answering. "Nah I wasn't worried, I was just saying you probably want to get back here. We have somebody joining us for our meeting tonight. Over."
I feel myself jump in excitement. It doesn't really have much of an effect when I'm flying but it does happen. "You found somebody?!"
Ringo laughs again. "More like she just found her way back. Hurry up, we still go business to get through tonight! Over and out!"
Oh, well way to not tell me who it is and keep me in suspense. I speed up as much as I can, directly towards camp.
When I arrive back at camp I land in the center clearing, right next to the table. It's a little odd, but nobody is here. I would think Ringo and whoever came back would be here where we normally have our meetings. I guess they're doing something or other. I'll just have to wander around and find them.
I check everyone's tents, as well as the equipment tent. No luck. There's only really one other actual structure at camp that they could be at, but I don't know why they would be there. There's an area a bit outside of camp where we intentionally collapsed a few trees for cover, then dug a small underground bunker underneath for the portal to be hidden away in. It was a bit more cautious than we probably had to be, considering we were stealthed anyway, but we were told that keeping the portal safe was pretty much priority one. Considering it's our way back to the moon, I agree with that idea.
Once I get to where the enclosure is, I have to clear a few tree branches away as well as search on the ground for the hidden latch. It's not the easiest thing to do in the dark, but I get it eventually. It's just a short drop into the small enclosure. When I drop down I immediately notice that Yuzuki is here. It's only been half a day, but I'm still really relieved to see one of the other rabbits made it back safely.
"Hey welcome back. What are you guys..." I trail off when I get a full look at the room.
Oh that's bad.
"So... Try not to freak out if you can. I thought you guys already knew, since I noticed it immediately when I got back but uh..." Yuzuki looks awkward and also doesn't finish her sentence.
When Yuzuki starts talking, Ringo turns back to look at me. She appears to be obviously worried, which is pretty unusual for her, but I'm still too distracted to say anything.
That's really bad.
The portal isn't open anymore.
That's really really bad.
That's really really really bad.
That's really really really real-
[ ] Panic [ ] Nope. I'm out. Going to bed. Nope. [ ] Faint [ ] Force myself to not panic NO MATTER WHAT
I feel nauseous. This shouldn't be happening. Why is this happening? I'm vaguely aware of bullets flying around on the edge of my vision. Yeah, I must be losing it if I can't even keep that suppressed. I think Yuzuki is saying something to me, but I can't focus on it. This is really bad. That portal is our only way back to the moon, and we can't fix it. We only used the portal to get here, we don't know how it was set up. It's closed now. How are we going to go home?!
I feel like screaming, maybe fainting. Anything really. I thought I was close to panicking earlier in the day, but this is so much worse. I just know I'm going to freak out.
"Seiran." I feel a hand on my shoulder. I guess Ringo moved up to me, which is weird because I don't know what I was looking at if it wasn't her. What was I doing besides freaking out? Why am I like this? I need to calm down before I lose it. Now. My jaw hurts. Oh I'm clenching my teeth. My hands are also in pain. I'm gripping my hammer way too hard. Okay, stop. Breathe.
Yuzuki puts her hand on my other shoulder as I'm trying to get a hold on my breathing. I think having both of them here is helping actually. I know they're both worried about this as well, but they're not freaking out. I can do that too. I can not freak out. It would probably be a lot easier if I did, this is a pretty bad situation, but I know it's not going to be helpful or productive to panic. I just need to breathe.
"Let's... Let's go have a meeting." I suggest after another couple of minutes of just breathing. Ringo looks relieved and nods, which makes me realize she may have been more concerned about my reaction than she was about the portal actually being down. She's probably worried about both things though. I think. It'd be kind of weird if she wasn't.
Yuzuki lets go of my shoulder and takes my hand in both of hers. She pulls me slightly, which I appreciate, because my legs weren't very willing to move just because my brain was telling them to. As I turn around Ringo puts her other hand on my other shoulder and follows me out, just pushing me along a little bit. By the time I get to the small ladder to climb out of the bunker, I think I'm mostly back in control of myself, or at least my legs. Once all three of us have climbed out, I even help Yuzuki cover the entrance back up. We definitely don't want anybody making off with any of the parts that make up the base of the portal before it comes back on. Which is a thing that it's definitely going to do. Eventually.
Nobody says anything as we go back to center table and sit in normal seats. It feels a little awkward because the other side of the table is usually Sumi and Chiyo, while Ringo sits on the side, so Yuzuki and I are currently sitting next to each other with nobody across from us. Yuzuki doesn't seem to mind it though, which is odd. I guess she finds it more important to sit in her usual chair than to keep things symmetrical.
Ringo stretches her fingers to make them crack as she sits down. "Alright, let's calm it down a bit and get started then," She says, taking charge like normal. She'd usually have snacks set out at the table, but I guess she was too distracted by something HORRIBLE happening to get them ready for this one. "Yuzuki, I think I'll let you go up first."
Yuzuki nods just slightly, apparently prepared for this. "Chiyo and I... Left camp earlier today." She starts plainly. "In our defense, we wouldn't have made a difference to what happened, and it was also her idea. I do apologize for leaving without asking first, but when Chiyo left, I felt like I had to keep track of her as best as I could."
Ringo waves her hand dismissively to cut off the apologies and explanations. "Discipline and punishment and stuff will wait until we've got everybody back here. I'd rather just hear what happened so we can keep things going. Where'd you guys go, and why isn't she with you now?"
Yuzuki flinches just slightly at the mention of discipline, but nods again and continues. "I'm not quite sure what Chiyo's reason was, but she told me she was only going to be out for a bit. We all know that for her, 'a bit' doesn't mean anything, so I wanted to keep track of her. We seemed to just be walking around the mountain. I don't know if she had an actual destination, but it didn't matter. We got attacked by some youkai for no reason and she ran off while I was dodging danmaku."
"And you spent the rest of the day out looking." Ringo finishes for her.
"Yes," Yuzuki says apologetically. "I managed to avoid the spell cards until the youkai ran out of them, but it took a while.I had no idea where Chiyo went afterwards. She was way out of my range."
"Good job on beating that youkai though." I offer, trying to give her something to feel good about. I'm a bit surprised that she more or less won a danmaku duel. She doesn't even look like she had been in a fight. Her short ponytail isn't loose and the yukata that she always wears (for some reason) looks completely in order too. I guess she wouldn't let it be any other way though.
Yuzuki smiles slightly, but still tries to downplay it a bit. "Well I think it was just lucky how our powers matched up. She could flip things upside down or left and right quickly, but it wasn't instant or random, so I could still comprehend a pattern out of it even if my perspective was different. Her danmaku also weren't incredibly fast, which helped with the patterns as well."
Yeah, I didn't quite get that, but that's how it always is with Yuzuki's power. Yuzuki has a form of extrasensory perception. Her ESP gives her an understanding of every entity that's physically within an area, even without her other senses interacting with that entity. The more familiar she is with an area the larger that area can grow, but even when she's in new locations it's still very useful for information gathering. I've tried to get her to explain how it works to me a couple of times, and most of the time her explanations involve her "just knowing the patterns of everything around her," which doesn't really explain it at all.
Ringo isn't too concerned. "Well it sounds like you're not too at fault at least. Youkai are going to be a problem from here on out. You should've said something over comms though, I'm pretty sure they were still up at the time. We could have tried to help you after we lost here." Yuzuki looks down sadly.
Well that's a good enough reason for why she was gone, but it could have also just been Yuzuki trying to avoid conflict that she knew was coming here. There's kind of a problem with most rabbits in general, and Yuzuki is a good example of it. A lot of us rabbits are simply not the best soldiers. A lot of us are skittish, impulsive, and somewhat lacking in loyalty to a cause. Lunarian science and magic being way ahead of anything on earth can only make up for that so much.
I think Yuzuki is a great friend, and I like having her around. I've also known her for years, so I have some basis for making this assessment. Her power offsets a lot her problems by making her really useful in information gathering, but she is probably the worst soldier in the unit.
"Anyway, Seiran and I had quite a day, so let's move on and talk about that." Ringo continues. "So, you don't know Reisen right?"
Yuzuki shakes her head. "No, I only heard about her after she left the moon. Didn't she go through basic training at the same time as you guys?" She asks. Yuzuki is actually older than us by a few years, which makes her the oldest rabbit in the unit as well.
"Right, well, Seiran didn't say it over the comms, but it turns out that it was Reisen that beat her and was coming to camp..."
Ringo summarizes the events earlier in the day, how both of us lost to Reisen, how Reisen went through the portal for a while then came back out, how we found out that our stuff was missing, and how we got it back from fairies. I notice that she left out the part where she took a nap and I had to wake her up to make her get back to work, but otherwise Ringo does a pretty good job of bringing Yuzuki up to speed.
For Yuzuki's part, she mostly stays quiet and motionless, just listening. That's perfectly normal for Yuzuki. She tends to only move if the person she's talking to moves. She only interrupts in the middle to express annoyance when Ringo mentions that the fairies made a mess of the equipment tent. I would guess she plans to clean it up later, or at least do her definition of cleaning, which nobody else understands completely. It's something to do with patterns though, I'm sure.
"After that we decided to split up and search for you guys, though apparently we didn't find anybody and you knew to come back on your own. We did find other stuff though. Seiran, go ahead." Ringo gestures to me. I guess it's my turn before hers.
"I was looking around the lower areas of the mountain for you and Chiyo when I randomly met a goddess," I start explain to Ringo and Yuzuki. I'm not as good at talking through everything as Ringo is, so Ringo occasionally needs to clarify something or ask a question, but I do eventually get through it.
Once I finish with all the information that Hina gave me, Yuzuki speaks up. "I think I was near that hermit's house that you mentioned. There was a short time when I felt my powers acting weird, so that may have been the magic that makes people get lost if they try to go there."
"Do you know where it is? Could you get there again?" Ringo asks before I can respond. Yuzuki nods to her. "Alright, good to know just in case. Anything else Seiran?"
I decide to leave out talking about how I went to pray at Hina's shrine for now. I'm not sure if the others would think it was weird or not, and I didn't exactly get anything from it. It's not that I'm embarrassed about my sudden interest in a religion. It just doesn't seem that relevant to what we're talking about. "No, not really." I finish somewhat awkwardly.
Ringo nods, satisfied with that. "Well that's a lot of places to check out at least. Good job. I guess it's my turn now then," Ringo leans back comfortably as she starts explaining her evening. "I went and looked further up the mountain, toward where Seiran first fought Reisen. We know that Sumi at least started going that way when she left camp, though she could have gone anywhere after that. I came across the kappa first, and Seiran and I agreed that I should at least check on them, even if it was unlikely they had captured anyone. As expected, I didn't notice Sumi, but that doesn't mean that there's nothing going on there. I think a lot of their homes and stuff are hidden underwater, but from what I could catch while sneaking around, some of them are pretty active and excited today."
"More than usual?" I ask. "From what we've seen, they seem to always be building something or other that they're excited about." Not that we've ever seen them actually testing any machines that work.
"Yeah... Well, no point in building suspense. I'm pretty sure they stole the drone," I guess I should have seen that coming, just based on how things have been going today. "After I checked them out, I took a quick look at the last known location of the drone and couldn't find it. The kappa are interested in technology, and had to know about the drone when it started moving around. It adds up in my mind that they'd be tracking it and would want to check it out once it stopped purifying things. We're probably going to have to get it back from them. Command would pitch a fit if we let lunarian tech get captured by random Earth youkai."
I try not to groan. She's completely right, command would hate it if they knew we didn't recover the drone as soon as it was broken. I was the last person who saw it, and it was working then, but it must have been broken by somebody shortly after that, because Reisen wouldn't have been able to see me if it was still intact. The drone was supposed to both cloak us from Earth youkai, as well as purify the environment, but other than that, I don't know anything about how it works. It could actually be dangerous if the kappa start messing with it.
"So that's what we've found out before coming back tonight," Ringo concludes. "Which just leaves us with what we were all present for." She looks awkwardly at me.
I still feel discomfort in the pit of my stomach. I kind of want to go to bed even though it's way too early to do that. "The portal." I say plainly. The portal was something that was set up before we came here. None of us know how it works or why it's closed now.
Ringo nods and reaches for some dango before remembering that there isn't any there. "I dunno what to do on that one. We don't know what happened after Reisen went in there, or why it stopped working after she came out, or even when exactly it stopped working. There just isn't enough information, and we can't get any from the moon without comms. The only thing I can think of is talking to Reisen, but we have no idea where she is either."
"What if we just left it alone?" Yuzuki asks. "I'm sure that command will fix things on their end eventually. Once we have comms back we can figure out what happened and what we need to do to fix the portal."
That's pretty optimistic, but I kind of want to think that way as well. Ringo shrugs her shoulders before responding. "Well, we don't have many other options anyway... Unless we could get to the moon ourselves." Ringo laughs at the idea. "I think we should stay in camp for tonight though, we don't know how much of a threat youkai are going to be through the night now that we're visible. We're not exactly camped in the safest place either. Tomorrow we'll get up and focus on... I dunno, any suggestions?" She asks. As usual, she tries to get our opinions before making the decisions.
[ ] Let's investigate the kappa and try to find the spider drone [ ] Let's try to find the other rabbits - [ ] (specify where to search) [ ] Let's try to find Reisen and investigate what happened with the portal [ ] Other suggestion (Write-in)
And for the evening
[ ] Spend time with Ringo [ ] Spend time with Yuzuki [ ] Spend time alone and try to calm down
[X] Let's try to find the other rabbits - [X] Near that hermit's place [X] Let's try to find Reisen and investigate what happened with the portal [X] Spend time with Yuzuki
"I want to find the others, but I also don't think we should just sit and wait for command to fix the portal either. We should try to do both things I think." I'm a little torn and my words don't come out very well. The others don't seem very swayed by my suggestions either.
Ringo gives me a blank look before she leans back again and stares into the sky. The moon has come out by now. I have to admit, it looks really nice from here, even though you can only see some of it. "Only lead on the portal is Reisen... We'd have to find her... We need more info..." She's just mumbling to herself.
"If it helps, I can volunteer to check out the area around the hermit's house tomorrow." Yuzuki offers to keep things moving. "Chiyo could have gotten lost around there, and my powers would at least let me know when I'm getting magically misdirected."
Ringo sits still for a bit longer before sitting up suddenly, apparently reaching a decision. "You know what, I'll think about it overnight. Let's break here and reconvene in the morning," She puts her hand on her stomach and smirks. "I need some brain food, and some for the rest of me too. It's not like it makes that much of difference whether we figure out what to do tonight since we're not leaving until tomorrow."
Well so much for reaching a decision. Yuzuki doesn't look satisfied with that, but that's pretty much normal. Yuzuki always wants Ringo to lead us more strongly, it just never actually happens.
As for me, I'm okay with waiting on it. I'm still not sure on what our priorities should be, and it seems like Ringo isn't either. If she needs time to make the best decision, I'm okay with giving it to her. I just hope nothing bad happens overnight.
Seeing that Yuzuki and I aren't saying anything, Ringo takes it that we don't have any problems. "Adjourned!" She smacks the table with her palm and jumps up. "Di~i~inner time!"
Yuzuki sighs as she watches Ringo head off to her own tent. "Well, I guess we should eat as well. We've been so busy today that I haven't had anything since this morning. Care to join me?"
"Uh, sure," I hadn't even been thinking about it since today has been so busy, but I also haven't eaten anything in a while. I haven't even prepared anything. Now that I think about it, I didn't even finish the mochi I was making when I got attacked by Reisen. What a waste. "It'll probably have to be MREs though."
We have a pretty decent amount of packaged rations from the moon. They aren't the worst tasting things, but not the best either. We can do better if we have ingredients and time. Yuzuki isn't bothered by us having to default to them though. "Sure, I'll grab a couple from one of the crates in the equipment tent."
Oh wait, the equipment tent. "Uh, maybe I should..." I move to get up, but she's already walking away. I have a feeling that she's not going to like what she sees in there, I didn't really have any time to clean up. Sure enough, a bit later hear a very loud and very annoyed groan coming from the equipment tent.
When Yuzuki comes back she has an obvious grimace on her face, but doesn't say anything about it beyond "I hate fairies". I'm pretty sure she doesn't actually mean it, but when she sees things messed up like that she's going to get annoyed with someone. That's just how it is.
The MREs are self heating with a bit of water, so we don't have to do much after Yuzuki sets them up to cook by themselves. While we're waiting I decide to pop back into my tent and bring out a jar of dehydrated peaches that I bought on the moon before we left. I'm a little worried that we're eating something like this that is suddenly limited to us, but I just want something nice to eat. I guess it's also not actually any use to save food if you're not going to eat it.
Things are quiet for a while as we eat the peaches and wait for our meals to cook. I have time to notice that Yuzuki seems to intentionally be eating exactly half the amount of peach slices that I eat. "I really am sorry." She says after a few minutes.
It doesn't occur to me immediately what she's talking about. We had settled into something so normal that I guess I wasn't really thinking about all the weirdness today. It takes me a second, but I guess she's talking about leaving without saying anything earlier. "It's not that big of a deal," I respond. There is one thing I'm wondering though. "Was it actually Chiyo's idea though? Not to be rude."
Yuzuki folds her hands in front of her, apparently done snacking for now, and nods. "It was. She can act tough during training and drills, but she was in the infantry for a longer time than the rest of us. She's heard enough bad stories to want to avoid combat." Aside from Chiyo, none of us have ever been in real combat, and even she wasn't all that involved in the war.
"Okay, I was just wondering. For the record, I'm not mad at either of you, just worried."
The Second Lunar War was a stressful time for all of us, but mostly from command drilling us too hard rather than from actual fighting. The earth forces were pretty small, and couldn't really get much in the way of reinforcements. Since they were invading us and we were defending, there wasn't a whole lot for our unit to do, so we were never deployed, just drilled really hard. It was different for the infantry, which Chiyo was in at the time, though even then she's told us she only had to actually fight once over the whole three years of the war.
Yuzuki looks relieved at my answer, but still looks like she wants to ask something. Eventually she gets around to it. "... Did it hurt?"
Oh yeah, I had my first real deal danmaku duel today. Ringo and I had practiced before, all of us had actually, but it really isn't the same thing as actually dueling. Reisen didn't go easy. At all. "A bit, yeah," I laugh a little. "Kinda like having a bunch of tiny balls of pain thrown at you. Getting hit by one wouldn't be so bad, but man Reisen has had a lot of time to get good at it." It was actually kind of inspiring when I think about it. My patterns are nice, but Reisen's attacks take advantage of her powers in a way that I could never even try to pull off. "I feel like I kinda want to give it some more work sometime. I won't ask you to practice if you don't want to though."
Yuzuki is very good at dodging slower more rigid patterns, but is thrown off easily by randomness. Her and Chiyo are actually both pretty good at dodging in general, but aren't really good at firing lots of bullets very quickly or powerfully. We've all pretty much decided that they're not cut out for dueling, that would have to come down to Ringo and I.
That does remind me of something from earlier though. "Oh yeah, Reisen had a weird gun with her when we fought today. I've never seen that model before. Seems weird that she'd get new tech down here. It looked pretty high quality too."
Yuzuki doesn't seem as interested in it as I am. "Well everybody knows that she's hiding out with the exiled Lunarians, wherever they are. I would assume that Miss Yagokoro is still doing all kinds of experiments in in science and medicine."
Oh yeah, I guess that's true. You couldn't last long in the lunarian military without hearing the name Eirien Yagokoro, so I feel a little silly for not putting two and two together. Though that makes me think of something else as well. "Hm, I guess we really should find Reisen then. Maybe Miss Yagokoro would know something and could help us get the portal back open."
Yuzuki is quiet for a moment. "Why do you keep talking like you think they've forgotten us? I'm sure they'll do something to get comms and the portal working once they can. I'm... I'm sure they'll come get us soon..."
Even if Yuzuki doesn't sound convinced, at least she's saying that she is. As for me, I'm actually surprised at how quickly I assumed they weren't coming for us now that she pointed it out. For some reason I had immediately assumed that command didn't care about us. We are low on the totem pole, but even so, it makes me realize how little loyalty I actually have. I don't like it. "W-well..."
Dinner is pretty quiet after that.
For how annoyed Yuzuki had been about the equipment tent, she seems to have a great time reorganizing it. Yuzuki's idea of organized doesn't really coincide with other people's, but everybody is generally okay with letting her do whatever she wants. The end result means that she always knows where everything is, and it keeps her happy, even if the rest of us don't understand her system. I still can't help but ask questions from time to time, even if I don't really get the answers.
"I'm trying to make it so each crate that has ammo has a prime number of it."
"You know, with how roughly the fairies handled that radio jammer, the shape changed just a little bit. I think it should go near the back now. Yeah, much better."
"Okay, that box of flares is open now, so I think we should probably open all the flares and have them individually stored so that it doesn't make things weird. Only one box being open is making my nose itch."
"Yeah, that rifle is throwing everything off, do you think we could maybe store it somewhere else? Just put it in my tent, I'll do something with it later."
"Hm... I think those crates need to be flipped upside down now. It'll make them hard to get into, but it just makes more sense that way... HEY RINGO CAN YOU COME HERE FOR A SECOND?!"
For some reason that I can't even begin to understand, cleaning the equipment tent takes up the rest of the night. Even when I convince her to go to bed, Yuzuki still looks like there's more she wants to do. We can only do this for so many hours though. Eventually we need to sleep.
Settling down and going to sleep for the night goes okay I guess. There's a brief moment of panicworry during the night when I'm suddenly struck with the realization of just how vulnerable we are out here now that we're not stealthed. Any youkai could just stumble on our camp, take anything they want and eat us or whatever. I'm actually not sure if youkai usually eat other youkai but when I'm afraid of things late at night it's usually pretty hard to convince myself that things aren't scary. Eventually I manage to force myself to stop worrying though. I guess it also helps when I remember that I'm supposed to take my pill too. That tends to make me drowsy.
I wake up to the sounds of people talking outside, which is unusual. Usually Yuzuki and I are the first ones up. This is a bit too early for me though, I don't think there's even any light outside yet. It takes me a bit to be conscious enough to actually understand the words I'm hearing.
"Like I said, I thought I would say hello to our new neighbors and bring you a complimentary paper." I don't recognize that voice. Somebody new is here. That wakes me up pretty quickly. I scramble to get up as the conversation continues.
"Uh, thanks but I don't think you should be wandering around our camp taking pictures..." That voice is definitely Yuzuki.
"Hm? No, I guess you have a point. It's still early and the lighting isn't the best with all the trees and stuff."
"That's not what I meant."
"Well, while we're waiting for a good photo op, how about we sit down and have a talk? This doesn't look like a temporary set up, so I'd love to know a thing or two about what you're doing here." As she finishes, I come out of my tent. Oh okay, I was wrong, the sun has just barely come up.
"Uh that's a bit..." Yuzuki starts, then notices me and gives me a look like she wants help. This makes the other girl she's talking to notice me as well.
We've seen enough tengu flying around that it's easy to identify this girl as one. The large feathered wings and ridiculous shoes seem to be a common thing between all the crow tengu that we've seen. She looks at me, and smiles widely, lifting up a... Camera? Wait, don't take a picture of me!
"Ah, cute bunnygirl with bedhead in her pjs..." The girl says dreamily as I cover myself up instinctively. I am just wearing my normal dress thank you very much! I did just wake up without doing anything to my hair or appearance though, so I feel pretty self conscious.
Yuzuki takes the chance. "Ah! Seiran, can you deal with this while I go get Ringo? Thanks, I'll be right back." She starts walking away before I can answer. Why would you do this to me Yuzuki?
The tengu lowers her camera and appears to compose herself, which is nice because I was definitely not liking the way she was... Checking me out? That's not something I've had happen to me much before. I feel a little bit uncomfortable, but she goes right back to the same cheerful tone she was taking with Yuzuki.
"Seiran huh?" The tengu starts. She scribbles something down on a small pad of paper while walking up to me. "Aya Shameimaru, number one reporter in Gensokyo and don't let anybody tell you anything different." She says once she's finished writing, then holds her hand out.
I shake her hand, not nearly matching how firmly she shakes mine back. "Uh, I'm Seiran." I say completely unnecessarily. She just said my name. Stop being awkward self.
"I just have a few questions about a few things here, no big deal, no big deal. So, it's unusual for us to see organized youkai pop up suddenly, what are you guys looking to do here? When did you get here? Why? A lot of this stuff that I can see around your camp also looks pretty well made, can you tell me where you got it?"
Uh, I can't answer all these questions if you ask them all at once. It definitely doesn't make it better that I'm probably not supposed to answer any of these questions either. We're not supposed to let people know we're here.
"Uh, hold on... I can't um..." I'm not sure what to say, but this tengu, Aya, just waits for me to continue. "We uh, just moved here." I offer lamely, picking one of the questions she asked at random and answering it vaguely. Aya still writes a bit down, so I guess she's okay with my answers being vague.
"It's too early for this, what's the problem you two? Oh." Ringo is basically being pushed towards us by Yuzuki. Oh good, salvation.
Aya seems pleased by having another person to talk to as well, not that I blame her. "Good morning! Number one writer of the truth, ace reporter Aya Shameimaru here! Just swinging by your lovely camp to grab a few details and see if there's anything newsworthy going on!" She practically launches herself over to Ringo, offering her a handshake.
Ringo recoils slightly, but quickly responds by shaking Aya's hand. "Suuure. Yeah, let's sit down and talk at the table."
"Great, just great," Aya says, following Ringo to the center of camp. "So, you would be Ringo then? I guess from what the others say you would be the leader?"
"It's... Nothing official like that." Ringo says cautiously. Oh yeah, I guess if we're not acting like we're in the military we shouldn't act like Ringo is our superior. "These two just aren't the best with words so they'd rather have me talk if you're asking questions about all of us, you know?"
They reach the table while Yuzuki and I are still following. Hey wait, don't take my seat! Well, I guess she doesn't know it's my seat, so I just take Chiyo's seat instead. "Sure, sure, guess I can hold off on individual interviews then if anything interesting is going on. Speaking of that then, what is going on here?" Aya asks, holding her notepad at the ready.
Ringo seems prepared for this. "We're just a few rabbit youkai that were living further up the mountain without bothering anybody. Our home got destroyed by some big mechanical spider thing, so we had to move." She says evenly.
Aya starts writing quickly. "Oh, that's horrible!" She doesn't sound as sympathetic as she sounds excited. I'm pretty amazed at how fast she can both write and talk at the same time. "Yeah, I've been hearing about something weird happening to parts of the mountain. Nobody wanted to get close to it, and the village was dragging their feet, saying it wasn't a hugely pressing concern while it was only happening to unoccupied territory. I think they figured somebody else would take care of it, and it wasn't their business when it was outside their territory. Surprising that we didn't know that the area actually had some rabbit youkai living in it though! I've never heard about you guys before."
Ringo doesn't seem thrown off at all by Aya's sudden burst of interest. I can barely keep up with her myself, but Ringo's better at this kind of thing than I am. "Well we keep to ourselves you know? Living peacefully with privacy and all that." Aya does not look like she gets it at all actually.
"Hmm... Interesting. I was pretty sure that all the rabbits that wanted to do that just lived in the bamboo forest." She pauses. "Not much worth reporting on here then... Other than the... Ah! Idea! Can you tell me a bit more about the mechanical spider? I could probably do a write up on that for a short feature. Would be a good idea to bring it to the attention of more than just the tengu if it's out there destroying places that people could actually live."
"Uh..." Ringo apparently didn't have a response ready for this line of questioning. "Well I don't know much about it. It's about big enough that a single person could stand on the main body. It's made of metal I guess? I don't know what you want me to say about it."
"Well what does it do that made it ruin your home?" Aya asks.
"Well it uh... It kinda kills the trees and stuff. I don't know, we didn't stick around long enough to see if what it would do to us, we just knew we needed to leave." Ringo definitely wanted to avoid saying what it's actually doing. Purification.
"I see... How fast was it moving around?" Aya asks, then perks up and shakes her head quickly. "Actually, it might be better to leave that out. Leave some question about how fast it's going and people will be more concerned about it. Who knows, that might even get things solved faster!" She's mostly talking to herself at this point as she continues to scribble on her notepad. "Yeah, this'll work fine. It's not front page material unless I get some good pictures, but people will want to hear about it... Need pictures though. Pictures of spider robot... Well, never let danger stop keep me from a story before."
"So, are we done here?" Ringo asks hopefully, apparently tired of listening to Aya mutter to herself.
Aya reads over whatever she had written. "Well for now, I guess so. Actually, wait. Could I get a quote from you? Maybe something about how upset you are about your home getting destroyed? That'd probably bump up the appeal of the article."
Ringo looks a little awkward. "Well uh... I'm not that broken up about it. I don't mind being forced to get out and wander around Gensokyo. I like this place." Wait, what?
"Hmm..." Aya doesn't look satisfied that, but still writes something down. "Well, thanks for your time." She stands up and offers her hand for another handshake. Ringo takes it firmly. "I'll head out and investigate some more after I finish delivering papers today. If you come across anything else newsworthy, let me know. I'm usually all over the place though, so just tell one of the tengu guards. They probably won't let you into tengu territory even if I'm there, but I'll hear about it whenever I'm in the village and come find you." Man she talks fast.
"Sure thing. Nice to meet you Aya." Ringo says, standing up as well.
Aya nods. "Likewise. See you later!" Right after that, she launches into the sky. Apparently she flies as fast as she talks.
Ringo watches the tengu fly away for a bit before she lets out a huge sigh of relief. "It really is too early for this." She says plainly.
Well, I'm glad that that's over with. She's probably going to come back once she finds out the spider drone isn't up there anymore though. "Did you make up that cover story on the spot?" I ask Ringo.
Ringo shakes her head. "Nah, I thought about it last night. I was actually thinking through a lot of stuff last night."
"A lot of stuff?" Yuzuki asks.
"Yeah. I guess we can have a meeting now since we're all here already and awake for SOME reason." Ringo sits back down in her chair and I take the chance to get back to my own chair too. "I made some official decisions last night, since we can't talk to command. I decided that we're not going to accomplish anything just sitting here trying to hide. We need to take action for ourselves and do what we think is smartest. That tengu showing up just shows that people are going to find out about us, and we need to be able to talk to them and get information if we're going to find the others and get things back on track."
Oh, okay. I'm pretty okay with that line of thinking. "So you made up a story for us to use so we seem like normal youkai?"
Ringo shrugs. "I mean, I don't know what the exact difference between earth and moon rabbits are, but apparently we can pass for earth rabbits just by saying we are. That gives us a lot of options to talk to people and get info like I just did."
I'm not sure about that. "Wasn't it just her getting info from you?" I ask.
Ringo smirks. "Mostly, but I caught something she said in there. She said that most rabbits live in the bamboo forest. That's something we didn't know, and it might even be a lead to go on. Well, about as much of a lead as any of the other places we've heard vague things about anyway." She explains.
I actually hadn't caught that at all, though I remember it now that Ringo mentions it. I guess like she says, it's as worth a shot as anywhere else. Just because there are rabbits there doesn't mean that Reisen is there.
"Anyway, that leaves us with the question of what we're going to do today," Ringo says, leaning towards Yuzuki and I. "I know Yuzuki wanted to check out the area near the hermit's house, since she knows where that is. What do you think you wanna do Seiran?"
I want to...
[ ] Go with Yuzuki to the hermit's house [ ] Investigate a specific location - [ ] (Where?) [ ] Wander a bit to gather more information. Now that we have a cover story, it should be easier to talk to the locals. [ ] Something else (Write in)
There are a lot of options, but since they all seem equally (un)likely to actually pan out into something meaningful, I guess it's okay to just go with my default choice.
"I think I'll go with Yuzuki then." Both of the others look completely unsurprised, but Yuzuki does look somewhat pleased. She and I get along pretty well, and have similar ways of thinking aside from her weird fixation on patterns. I've spent more time with Ringo overall, but Yuzuki has been an Eagle Ravi with us for as long as the unit has existed. We've been together for a long time.
"Good enough. I'm gonna go get a bit more sleep," Ringo yawns and starts walking away after hearing my choice.
"You're not coming with us? What are you going to do today then?" Yuzuki asks.
Ringo stops and turns back around to face us. "Don't worry, don't worry. I won't be slacking off or anything, it's just too early right now. I'll get up a bit later and start gathering information from whoever I can find around here." She says dismissively.
Well, Ringo may be a bit lazy, but she isn't a liar. I guess I can believe her on this one. I do kind of have an issue with what she said she wanted to do though. "That seems like a pretty vague plan."
Ringo yawns again and shrugs. "All our plans are vague right now. Don't worry about it, you guys check out that lead and I'll see if I can gather a few more up while you're out."
Now that she says it, it definitely sounds like she's making us do the difficult work. "I'm still not sure it's fair that you get to go back to sleep though." I say. Yuzuki is one thing, but it's still pretty early for me to be up.
"Hey, I'm not forcing you to stay up too. Just go at whatever pace you want. I'll keep a radio by my bed, and take it with me when I get up and go. Call me if you find anything or need help." Ringo starts walking away again before we can respond, but I don't really have much to say anyway.
I look at Yuzuki and shrug, she doesn't seem that bothered by it either. We're probably just more used to this than we should be.
I kind of like mornings on earth. On the moon, sunrises were an occasional but long lasting thing, but here Earthlings get to have them every cycle. I'd like it a lot more if I didn't have to wake up so early to see it, but still, it's nice. I even get a chance to skim through the paper that Aya gave us, which feels like an appropriate thing to do in the morning. Apparently there's been frequent fights breaking out over some "occult balls", and Aya has been trying to compile information about it. The people she's interviewed that were actually involved in the fighting don't seem to be helping her with that very much though.
We have a small breakfast and clean ourselves up before getting ready to leave. Both Yuzuki and I grab radios, but aside from that and my mallet, we don't bring anything. If we run into any combat, it's going to be up to me, and I don't really need any hardware for that. On the other hand, Yuzuki has her powers, which also negates a lot of need for other information gathering equipment.
We test Yuzuki's radio by calling Ringo and loudly waking her back up. Just to make sure it works of course. Ringo grumbles about it, but we did give her an extra half hour or so of sleep. Once we're definitely sure that Yuzuki's radio is working (and by that I mean we're definitely sure that Ringo is awake again), we fly off. I let Yuzuki take the lead, since she actually knows where we're going.
It's not a long flight, but it's long enough for a bit of small talk along the way. "It just bugs me a little bit." Yuzuki starts off.
The number of times that I have heard her say that exact sentence might actually be approaching five digits at this point. There are a lot of things that bother her, so I kind of have to narrow the possibilities down. "Ringo?"
"No. Well yes, a little bit, but that's not what I was talking about," I notice that even though she's flying slightly ahead of me, she always keeps the distance between us exactly the same, even if I change speeds. "I was talking about that tengu."
Well that was my second guess anyway, being the only other thing of note that happened this morning. "What about her?" I ask.
Yuzuki lets out a slight huff. "Messy hand writing is one thing, but she wasn't writing in even CLOSE to complete sentences. I don't even know how she's going to remember anything when she goes back to look at it. I understand the idea of shorthand, but in practice it just doesn't seem like a good method. She should write things down properly!"
Yeah, I suppose that would set Yuzuki off a bit. She doesn't have to see writing to know what it says after all. "It's okay Yuzuki, some people just have different ways of doing things."
"I..." Yuzuki starts to complain again but catches herself. "I know that..." She says, dropping the subject.
Yuzuki just needs to vent sometimes, and I know that's what this is too. The thing is, this is actually much better than she used to be about things that bother her. She used to try to correct things that bothered her no matter what, saying she couldn't stand it otherwise. She's mellowed out a lot compared to then, and can mostly just tolerate things that set her off but aren't her job to fix.
Eventually, Yuzuki starts dropping altitude, and I follow along. "We're here." She says when we come to a stop. I haven't really noticed anything, but I don't doubt that she's right. She takes a quick look around the area and lets her feet settle onto the ground. "I think first of all, I want to get an idea of the area we're dealing with. This might take a while. You don't mind walking do you? It will help if we're close to the ground."
I land on the ground as well. Yuzuki knows how to use her powers better than I would, so I'm not going to argue against it. It's not like I'm not used to going on foot for things anyway. This area is a bit less heavy on vegetation, being a bit rockier and more mountainous. It would make walking a pain, but I'm already used to rough terrain from being on the moon.
"I want to walk around the whole circumference first, assuming that it is a circle," Yuzuki says as she starts walking slowly. There's a slight curve to her path that I follow as well. "That should be the best chance of finding Chiyo if she's lost around here, since she'd probably end up going in and out of it without noticing. She knows nothing about the area, and with her personality, I wouldn't be surprised if she was still just wandering around." It's not like she's great at being casual, but it is still pretty noticeable once Yuzuki gets down to business.
"What if she ended up getting to the hermit's house?" I ask. "Is that possible?"
"It's... Possible." Yuzuki says, looking toward the inside of the curve we're following. "From what I can tell, this magic isn't random. There is most likely one specific path you can follow to get to the center, like a kind of password. She technically could have guessed it or found some way through, she just would have had to be really lucky..." Yuzuki trails off after that, continuing to stare off into the distance. I think we're both thinking the same thing. One thing we've noticed over the years we've known Chiyo, she is very lucky.
"Let's just walk around the area first." I offer, breaking the silence.
"Agreed." Yuzuki says, and we continue walking.
It takes over an hour, probably closer to two, to make it all the way around the area on foot over rough terrain. It's something that both of us are used to though. It reminds me of some of the hikes and runs during basic training, only we don't have anybody yelling at us. Yuzuki does have to tell me when I'm apparently slipping into the area the magic is affecting, but she doesn't yell about it. Yuzuki almost never yells.
By the time we reach back to where we started we've barely seen anything worth mentioning. All we really saw aside from empty landscape were some eagles flying around and some other wildlife that I don't know the names of. That's probably just because I don't know all the different species that live on earth, much less Gensokyo. We didn't see Chiyo though, or even any sign of her, which is discouraging, but not that surprising.
"So... I guess we'll have to try going inside then?" I offer.
Yuzuki looks annoyed, but eventually nods. "My powers don't work in there very well, and it's giving me a headache from the couple of times that we stepped into it just now. We're going in there mostly blind, but I'll at least know when we end up outside of it."
"Other than that... We just have to keep trying until we get there?" I ask. "This is a bit of a long shot." Yuzuki just sighs before she starts walking again, this time into the area that we've been circling.
A couple more hours and twenty something attempts later, we leave the area affected by magic again, both of us getting obviously frustrated. I'm definitely better off though. Yuzuki has to keep using her hands to massage her temples, apparently in a decent amount of pain. I imagine it has something to do with a sense she's used to always having suddenly being cut off over and over again. Maybe we should take a break. "Hey Yuzuki do you want..." She cuts me off with a 'shh!'
"Don't panic," She says quietly. "I noticed it when we came out just now, and I don't know if it notices us."
"There's uh... There's a tiger watching us from nearby." She says awkwardly. Okay, what? I don't know a lot about tigers, but I'm pretty sure they don't live in Japan. Actually, does that make it more or less likely for them to be in Gensokyo then? I don't really know how that works.
Not that it really matters though because we are apparently being stalked by a TIGER. It may not be attacking us, it may not even know we're here, but it's still a nerve racking thought.
[ ] Continue to try brute forcing our way through the area [ ] Leave, we're not doing anything but wasting time, Chiyo might not even be here, AND THERE IS ALSO A TIGER
If the tiger attacks (which I'm sure definitely WON'T HAPPEN) [ ] We are running away very fast [ ] I'll fight it off - [ ] With my hammer - [ ] With danmaku - [ ] With my powers
[X] Politely ask the tiger if it's seen any other rabbits. [X] We are running away very fast.
You know what? No. I think that right now I don't want to have to worry about it. I'd rather just get this over with. I can get chased off by a tiger now instead of spending more time here and then getting chased off later. That is, assuming that things go badly.
"Where is it?" I ask Yuzuki, already looking around to see if I can find it.
"A little more to the right. There." She says. She can always tell which way I'm looking if she wants to. Her power sure is handy compared to mine. "A bit further away, it's sitting on those rocks, watching us." Okay, now I can kinda see it. It does seem to just be watching.
I take a deep breath and prepare myself mentally a bit. "Alright, let's go." I start walking towards the tiger. The way I figure it, this tiger is not a part of the normal wildlife here. At least I've never heard of there being tigers here, and haven't noticed any while we were gathering information. So if that's the case, then it must be something special. Maybe it's a more feral youkai or something, I don't know. Whatever it ends up being, I'd still rather not have it stalking us while we're trying to work. I'll at least attempt communication, then deal with what happens.
"Wait, what are you doing?" Yuzuki asks worriedly as she follows after me at a distance. I don't blame her for sounding nervous about it, I feel a bit jittery as well to be honest. Even if we can just fly away if it attacks us, we are still knowingly walking toward a giant murdercat.
I don't really answer Yuzuki's question as we continue toward the rocks that the tiger is sitting on. I'm trying to think of what I'm supposed to say here, but I don't really come up with anything by the time that I get within the right range to start talking. I decide the best place to stand is close enough that the tiger can reasonably hear me, but far enough away that it probably won't be able to jump from those rocks onto my face. Hopefully.
I have to say something, even though I'm not sure what to say. "Uh, hey there," I start. Good enough. I've started off conversations with worse. "Can you talk? Or I guess, can you understand me?" I ask. The tiger doesn't say anything in response, but doesn't look like it's going to pounce suddenly either. It just stares at me. That could be worse, and I guess it makes the answer to my question a firm maybe. I'm the best at getting information.
"So I don't want to bother you too much, but have you seen any other rabbits around here?" I continue. The tiger looks at me for a bit longer before standing up. I flinch slightly and try to keep myself from freaking out while the tiger begins slowly climbing down the rocks. I just need to be ready to fly if it decides that it's hungry. Thankfully, all it does is walk past me, glancing at me and Yuzuki in turn before it goes back towards the area we were getting lost in. Well... Okay then.
Does it want us to follow it? I turn and walk towards the tiger, but it turns back and growls a bit. Okay, I guess not! When I stop moving, it stops growling, then nods it's head slightly and looks meaningfully at the ground under my feet. So we're supposed to stay here then? Must be tough to not be able to talk, but it definitely seems more intelligent than a wild animal.
I stay still, just watching it leave before I notice that Yuzuki turns to me. "So, that was crazy." She says, sounding a little annoyed. I think that's pretty justified.
"But nothing bad happened." I answer plainly. I mean, I only did it because I know we can just fly away, but we could have gotten attacked pretty quickly if it hadn't been a nice tiger. This really does highlight something for me though. Gensokyo seems decidedly less deadly than I originally thought. "It seemed weird for a tiger to be here, so I took a chance."
Yuzuki just stares at me. "That's just not at all what I would have expected from you," She says, which is also probably a fair thing for her to say. "So now what?"
"The tiger seemed to imply that it wanted me to stay here. I guess we can do that," I set my mallet down on the ground headfirst and lean against it. "We can always go back to trying to brute force our way through if the tiger doesn't come back." Yuzuki looks like she wants to argue for a second, but ends up deciding not to. Instead of that, we just wait quietly.
It takes maybe five or ten minutes before anything happens. Eventually though, we see the tiger coming back along followed by a woman. The tiger comes back up to us and sits down softly, seeming to be satisfied with just having done its job. "Thank you Houso." The woman says softly to him, placing a bandaged arm on the tiger's head and petting slowly as she examines me. I feel like she's trying to evaluate if I'm a threat or something like that, and can't shake the worrying thought that she's judging me for some reason.
This would probably be the hermit Kasen Ibasomethingorother, like Hina mentioned. Is this what a hermit looks like? There aren't any on the moon, so I'm not even that sure of what a hermit does. Aside from her exotic outfit, the shackle on her left wrist, and the bandages all over her right arm, she just seems like a normal human to me. I probably just don't know enough to make the distinction between human and hermit though.
I don't say anything immediately, so after a short wait, Kasen speaks instead. "Houso tells me that you've been looking around for the past couple of hours. Most normal youkai would simply lose their way and leave, but you're very clearly attempting to reach my home," She doesn't look angry, just cautious. We are two unknown youkai attempting to force our way to her intentionally hidden home, so I guess that's fair. "Do you have some business with me?"
That seems like a weird question to me. If the tiger somehow told her that we were around for hours, wouldn't it also tell her what I asked that prompted it to go get her? I guess it's true that I don't know how communication with tigers works though. "We were looking for our friend who got lost around here."
Kasen puts her unoccupied hand on her chin, looking thoughtful. "I see... I'm sure you're aware by now that you can't reach my home without following a special route, otherwise you'll just end up lost. Have you checked the surrounding area already?" She suggests.
"We have looked around for a while. We just wanted to be thorough." I answer. If anyone were around the rest of the area, I really doubt Yuzuki would have missed it.
"I see..." Kasen says again. "There has been a bit of unusual activity around here in the last couple of days. What type of youkai would that friend you're looking for be?"
That's another question I think I answered already. I already said that I was looking for another rabbit when I talked to her tiger, so why does she need to ask? The fact that she didn't just turn us away implies she's seen someone, or at least she seems to know something, so why wouldn't she just tell us?
When I think about it though, I'm pretty sure I know what's going on here. I've noticed Ringo doing similar things when trying to get something out of people before. She's trying to get more information from me. She wants me to talk more, even though she kind of already knows what I'm going to say. Well, we already have a cover story, so I can just tell her that.
Although, if she actually has found Chiyo, then there's no way to know what information Chiyo gave her. I doubt Chiyo would think up the same cover story as Ringo did, if she even thought of one at all. If I lie and tell Kasen we're Earth rabbit youkai and Chiyo already told her something different, she'll know that I'm lying, which might be bad for negotiations after that. The other alternative would mean telling her that we're Moon rabbit youkai instead, and I don't know how she'd react to that at all. I just know we're not actually supposed to be here.
If Chiyo isn't here though, or if she is here and didn't give up any information, then it's safe to just use the cover story. I don't know if this is really hard or if I'm just thinking about it too much.
[ ] "Rabbit youkai" - Stick with the cover story [ ] "Moon rabbit" - Tell the truth
It looks like there are multiple write ins that can more or less be lumped together as:
[ ] Answer the question without being specific, let Kasen decide what it means.
As long as I'm correctly reading the intention of the votes, I'm assuming that all the write-ins fall under this so far. Let me know if that's not what you meant with your vote or want to change something.
[X] Answer the question without being specific, let Kasen decide what it means.
"She's a rabbit like us." I say, pointing up at my ears. Kasen can decide what I mean based on what she knows, and I can avoid looking like a liar. Lying by omission isn't exactly the same thing as regular lying. Kind of. At least I hope she takes it that way. If she knows anything that is.
For a moment, I'm worried that Kasen isn't satisfied with that answer. She definitely gives me a stern look before her face eventually softens. "Well, I guess I should have seen that coming," She takes her hand off the tiger's head and walks closer to me. "You'll have to forgive me, things have been a bit tense lately as I've been caught up in a bit of a problem. I don't suppose you've heard anything about the occult balls incident..."
She looks at my face carefully after that for some reason. Is she expecting some kind of special reaction? I've only just heard of it from the paper this morning. Is it a big deal for people or something? "I read a little bit about it. Why?" I say awkwardly. I feel like I'm being judged by her when she stares like that.
"Reimu, myself, and several other important figures here in Gensokyo have more or less resolved the problem and gotten rid of the cause. However, we're aware that one of the occult balls is still acting strangely. We're monitoring the situation, so rest assured that if anything changes with it, or there is any more mischief on the part of whoever is responsible, we will know." She's giving me a meaningful look, but that doesn't really matter if I don't get the meaning. I don't know why I would even be involved with what she's talking about.
"That's... Good?" I say hesitantly. I'm actually feeling a little intimidated, but I don't know what I'm being accused of. Is some rabbit a part of this occult thing? Am I being racially profiled here?
"So, have you seen her?" Oh thank you. Yuzuki comes to my rescue while she moves closer to back me up. "I apologize if things have been tough for you lately, but that doesn't have anything to do with us. We're just looking for our friend."
There's another pause, as Kasen sizes Yuzuki up. She looks like she's biting the inside of her mouth a little bit as she tries to determine something. Eventually she talks again. "Yes. She somehow got to my house yesterday afternoon. She claimed she was running away from a malicious youkai, so I let her stay." Kasen says. She seems much less accusatory now, like she's calmed down.
"Did she stay all night?" Yuzuki asks. I'm so glad she's keeping things on track here.
Kasen nods. "I don't get visitors all that often, as I'm sure you can understand. I wanted to figure out how she figured out the path, but she didn't appear to know. It could have just been dumb luck. She also didn't appear to be in a big hurry to leave, so I decided it would be fine to let her stay rather than have her get lost at night."
Well, that's Chiyo for you I guess. Hurry isn't really in her vocabulary most of the time. "Well, we kinda came to take her back home, so..." I say, hoping that Kasen isn't still mad at me for whatever reason she was before.
Kasen seems to perk slightly when I mention going home, as if she just had an idea. She doesn't share it with us though. She just nods to herself. "I'll go get her for you," she decides. "Wait here a moment."
"Thank you." I say bowing slightly. I probably just got a bad first impression, but I want to avoid getting on her bad side any more than I apparently am. Kasen leaves, walking in an awkward pattern to go back to her house, while her tiger stays behind and watches us silently.
After a minute or so, Yuzuki breaks the silence. "Her body language was pretty aggressive there. What did you do?" She asks me as if I'm going to know.
"I didn't do anything, I don't know why she was being like that..." I answer.
Yuzuki thinks about it for a second. "Maybe hermits are just like that. She did choose to live away from people for some reason, right?"
I don't think that's quite what hermit means in this context, but okay. "Well, whatever," I say, wanting to move on. "We found Chiyo though, that's progress!"
Yuzuki nods and gives a relieved sigh. "I'm glad. Sumi is one thing, but I don't like leaving Chiyo alone for that long." She says, looking hopefully in the direction Kasen left. I agree, even though it kind of feels like we're babying her.
Chiyo is the youngest member of the unit, as well as the newest. That combines well with her short height, absent minded personality, and general cuteness, so most of us end up doting on her a little bit. We're kind of aware that it doesn't make sense. Considering she was actually involved in the war, which is getting close to fifty years ago, she's obviously mature. We still baby her a bit though, and she doesn't seem to mind it.
There's another fiveish minute wait for Kasen to come back. During that time I'm tempted to see if I can pet the tiger. I'm not so tempted that I actually do it, but I feel like I want to. When he's just sitting there like a big cat, he's actually pretty cute. That's ignoring his ability to easily rip my face off. Cute is still cute.
Eventually though, I do see Kasen come back. I'm also happy when I notice that Chiyo is slowly trailing behind her. Well, it's not that early, but it is still morning. Kasen probably wouldn't have been making sure that Chiyo stays on a schedule as much as we do. It's pretty obvious that Chiyo just woke up, though she seems to be walking around normally otherwise which is good. Her power is probably acting normally right now.
When they reach us, Kasen stops and lets Chiyo step in front of her. Chiyo greets us with a small hand wave and a plain "Hey." What, that's it?
"Hey yourself. We were worried about you." Yuzuki says sternly. She walks up to Chiyo with her hands on her hips. Yeah, Yuzuki can sometimes get a bit mom-like with Chiyo.
"I wasn't gone for that long though." Chiyo says, ending with a yawn.
"Almost a day Chi," I remind her, just in case she wasn't sure. "And Yuzuki said you guys got attacked, so I think she's allowed to be a bit worried."
Chiyo looks surprised at that. "A day?!" Oh right.
"Er, well... A cycle." I correct myself so she doesn't get confused. I wanted to avoid using moon time terminology when Kasen was here, but I don't want Chiyo to think she was away for a moon day without noticing it. That's way longer than an earth day. Chiyo's power never messes her up that badly.
Chiyo's power is as much a curse as it is a gift. Her perception of time is constantly changing. At best she can have perfect reaction time to anything and everything, which is perfect for high pressure combat scenarios. At worst though she could end up staring at a wall for five minutes and think it's only been five seconds, which is obviously much much worse in those scenarios. She can purposely control it to go one way or the other to some degree, but it tends to push back on her just as much. She usually just lets time do whatever it does, and tries not to lose track of things too badly.
"Oh... Okay so I was pretty close," She mumbles, rubbing her eyes slightly. "Not a big deal."
Yuzuki sighs. "We can talk more about it when we get back. Ringo isn't happy with either of us you know." She says, trying to continue with her stern mom act, but it doesn't seem to be working on Chiyo much.
"Okay, we'll talk later then," Chiyo says, paying more attention to Kasen's tiger than Yuzuki. She reaches down and pets it without a bit of fear. I'm a little jealous, the tiger seems to be perfectly fine with it!
Kasen seems to just be watching us with amusement, but I think I should try to take the initiative here. "Thank you for helping her stay safe," I say to Kasen, bowing slightly again. "Also, I never introduced myself. I'm Seiran and that's Yuzuki." I'm actually really pleased with how not awkward that was as I hold out my hand for a handshake.
Kasen takes my hand in her own bandaged one. Oh, that could have been awkward if her hand was hurt or something, but I guess it's fine. She doesn't seem hurt or bothered by it. "Kasen Ibaraki," She responds. "I admit I was surprised, but it wasn't really any trouble."
"Are we going back now?" Chiyo asks, looking up from the tiger and reluctantly stopping her petting. I nod to her and she walks over to Kasen. "Thanks." She says, lowering her head slightly. It wasn't really a bow but it was close enough I guess.
Kasen nods to her as well. "I suppose I'll see you around then. Let me know if any of you get any information about the incident."
We say our goodbyes and fly off. I feel pretty okay with how that went overall.
As we fly back, none of us are particularly talkative. I'm okay with not talking while flying that much, there's usually a lot of wind and it's harder to face the person you're talking to all the time, especially if you're in a group. I guess Chiyo is also following through on Yuzuki's suggestion that we talk about things when we get back to camp.
The silence is eventually broken though, when Yuzuki flies closer to me. "We're being followed," She says, loud enough for me to hear, but still obviously trying to be quiet. "An eagle is tailing us. Given that Kasen could talk to her tiger, it's probably hers. What should we do?"
[ ] Let it follow, if Kasen looks hard enough she's going to find our base anyway [ ] Don't go to camp, go somewhere else and hope it stops following eventually - [ ] Where? [ ] Try to scare the eagle off - [ ] With danmaku - [ ] With my power
[x] Don't go to camp, go somewhere else and hope it stops following eventually -[x] Hina's Shrine
You know, sending an eagle to follow us was an enormous tactical error on Kasen's part. Eagle's eat rabbits. In many ways, an eagle is an even bigger threat to a rabbit than a tiger is. In the wild, when a rabbit realizes there is an eagle in the area, they will immediately run to the nearest hidey-hole they can find and stay there until the eagle leaves. We now have an iron clad alibi if anyone questions why we decided to hide in Hina's Shrine. Running off to hide in the shrine would be completely normal behavior for a rabbit in this situation. Kasen should have sent a pigeon or something instead.
[X] Don't go to camp, go somewhere else and hope it stops following eventually - [X] Hina's Shrine
"How close is it? Are you sure it's following us?" I doubt that Yuzuki would say anything if she wasn't sure that we were being followed, but I still want to make sure. I'm also kind of hoping she's mistaken, even though I really doubt it.
As expected, Yuzuki shakes her head. "The way it's moving is too unusual for it to just be an animal out hunting. It could be going much faster than it is, but it's moving slowly and staying far enough away that I'm only catching it occasionally." She explains. Well that kinda sucks.
I try to ignore the irony of our unit being tracked and scouted by an eagle and think through the actual problem that we're facing here. Kasen couldn't have known about Yuzuki's power, so would have assumed that we wouldn't be able to notice the eagle if it stayed far enough away and just watched us until we got back to camp. I don't know exactly what she wants to do with the information of where we live, but I also don't see any reason to give it to her. It's probably a good idea to avoid giving our location away to someone who is pretty obviously suspicious of us doing something bad. We kind of are doing something bad after all.
I slow down slightly in the air and the others follow suit. We need to do something to force it to lose the trail, but I also don't want to do anything so overt that it's obvious we know we're being followed. It's probably best to make it losing us into a mistake the eagle makes. That would look less suspicious. We could just go somewhere else I suppose. If it seems like we have some other errand that we're running, then we have a perfectly good excuse for why we're not returning to camp. The problem then is making sure that the eagle doesn't continue to track us afterwards so we can get away. Eagles are typically pretty good at hunting rabbits from what I know about them. Just hiding in the trees might not be good enough. We need to do something that would actually throw it off the trail.
I try to think of places we could go to that would be considered friendly when an idea suddenly hits me. Hina. Animals were avoiding her instinctively. If we went to her shrine and she was there, that might be enough to get the eagle to lose sight of us. I don't know how big of a range her misfortune effect thing reaches out to, or if the eagle will stay away from her in the same way other animals were, but it's worth a shot.
"I have an idea, let's go somewhere else," I suggest to Yuzuki, who nods at me. "Tell me if it stops following us." Yuzuki makes sure that Chiyo is following while I start leading them on a curved path toward Hina's roadside shrine. I try to keep from the change of course seeming too drastic, as if we had always meant to go this way.
Yuzuki doesn't say anything on the flight to Hina's shrine, she just seems to be concentrating on monitoring the situation. No news in this case is probably bad news, so I assume the eagle is still tracking us by the time we get there.
We touch down just off the main path up the mountain and I lead the other girls off toward Hina's shrine. It's quiet here, even unnaturally so. I actually take that as a good sign though. It means that the normal animals that make a lot of the ambient forest noise aren't around, so Hina probably is around. I just need to find her.
"Where exactly are we?" Yuzuki asks, sounding slightly concerned at the change of atmosphere. I guess she decided that it's time to start asking questions now that we seem to have reached our destination.
I point over to the small wooden structure that I prayed at yesterday while I begin looking around for Hina. "That's a shrine to the goddess that I met yesterday. I thought it would be okay to come here for a bit."
"You mean the goddess of misfortune you met yesterday?" Yuzuki asks. I don't like that she's sounding more worried now, but I guess I understand why. "Is she the reason why there are no animals around?" I wasn't going to mention that because I'm not sure if that's another sore point for Hina, but it is kind of part of the reason why I thought this was a good idea.
"Yeah, something like that. I think they want to avoid the misfortune that she gathers naturally," I explain. "It's no big deal though. Hina told me that it's not dangerous, and she seems like a really nice lady. Speaking of her though, where is she?" It's probably more efficient to just have Yuzuki tell me where Hina is instead of searching myself.
Yuzuki looks at me like I'm crazy, which is fine. She hasn't met Hina. After a moment though, her facial expression changes suddenly. She blinks twice then has a look of surprise. "Is... Is that um..." She says awkwardly with a tone that I don't really think I've ever heard from her. Kind of like she's in awe I guess. "She's on the other side of the shrine, sitting by the stream..."
"Alright, come on then," I say, beckoning for Yuzuki to follow me. "You too Chiyo!" I call over to Chiyo who was staring blankly at the signs. I don't think she was actually reading them, she was probably just spaced out. She gets like that a lot.
There isn't a path, but it's easy to just walk around the shrine by following the small stream nearby. I guess it's something that runs off of one of the various rivers that flow down and around the mountain. It definitely helps this place look more serene. The effect is probably going to be lost once a tramway is built here, but for right now it's a pleasant and quiet morning here. That is, as long as you don't pay too much attention to the plant life which doesn't seem to be doing that great or the complete lack of wildlife. Still better than most of the moon though.
It doesn't take much to notice Hina. She's just sitting peacefully by the stream, soaking her feet a bit. She probably sensed us just as much as Yuzuki sensed her, so she looks up as we approach. A soft smile appears on her face when she recognizes me. As we get a bit closer she talks first. "Hello again Seiran. Thank you very much for visiting the shrine and praying yesterday," She says cheerfully. I think the others are giving me weird looks. That's probably because they're not used to the idea of me praying, not that I'm used to it either. "Did you want to talk about something?" Hina continues.
I actually feel prepared for this and thought of an answer to that question ahead of time. No awkwardness here. "Hi Hina. I just wanted to thank you for your help yesterday. I found some of the friends I was looking for," None of that is untrue, even if it wasn't the exact thing that prompted the trip out here. "This is Yuzuki," I say motioning to the rabbit on my right. She has a look of amazement on her face and is blatantly staring at Hina in awe. Uhm, that's a little weird but okay, need to continue on with introductions. "And this is Chiyo." I finish, motioning to my left. Chiyo at least seems to be acting normally.
Hina bows lightly to each of them in turn. "I am Hina Kagiyama, goddess of misfortune. Thank you very much for visiting today," That might have been a bit businesslike, but that doesn't mean it's not genuine gratitude. After her introduction, Hina looks at all of us again, pausing at Chiyo. "It really was Chiyo that I noticed yesterday, it's very unusual to see someone with such good fortune."
"She always has been pretty lucky." I say. I decide to walk over to Hina, intending to join her in soaking her feet in the stream. Might as well take it easy while we're waiting for the eagle to give up on us.
As I sit down next to her however, Hina looks like she remembers something suddenly and gets a slightly conflicted look on her face. She lifts her feet up out of the water and apologizes to me. "Ah I'm sorry but, well, I really am glad that you came by again, but I'm afraid I can't stay around here much longer. I need to go get to work and well... I'm not exactly supposed to be spending a lot of time here." She doesn't sound nervous or anything, so I don't think she's lying. If anything she sounds a bit regretful.
"It's your shrine." Chiyo points out. She has a neutral tone, but it's obviously supposed to be a lead in for a question. Hina most likely picks up on that.
"Well... You can kind of tell by the atmosphere that I've been here longer than I should," Hina says, trying to pull back her pleasant smile as she reaches over for her boots and a small towel laying nearby. "The Moriyas have asked me to not spend enough time around here that misfortune starts gathering, as it might make humans that come by nervous, even though there isn't any danger to them."
"But you're still here?" Chiyo that might be a little rude to ask it so bluntly like that.
Hina doesn't seem offended at least. "Well I try to stop by once or twice a week to make sure everything is clean and maintained. My faith is not at all large enough to have a shrine maiden or anything like that to keep this place looking nice, so it has to be me I suppose. At the very least, the shrine is small enough that it's easy to clean up in a short time. I was just enjoying myself here a bit too much. I should probably leave."
I don't really want to keep Hina from doing her job, but on the other hand I'm also pretty sure that we haven't been here long enough to lose the eagle. I can't exactly pause the conversation to ask Yuzuki if we're clear now either.
[ ] Ask Hina to stick around a bit more. It should guarantee that we lose the eagle, though it might inconvenience Hina a bit. [ ] Ask to go along with Hina. It should guarantee that we lose the eagle, but it may take up a lot of time. [ ] Let Hina go and stay here. The fact that Hina was here should keep the eagle away until it gives up, and we can have a small meeting while we wait. [ ] Let Hina go and leave if Yuzuki says the eagle has given up. I want to get back to camp sooner rather than later.
[x] Let Hina go and leave if Yuzuki says the eagle has given up. If it hasn't then tell Hina that you're nervous about being followed by a giant eagle and ask to accompany her until it goes away. She shouldn't find it surprising that rabbits want to avoid an eagle and not fight it.
[X] Let Hina go and leave if Yuzuki says the eagle has given up. I want to get back to camp sooner rather than later.
When I think about it, I actually think this might be good enough. It's probably important that Hina gets to work on her... Being a misfortune goddess. We can let her go for now and then I can have Yuzuki check if we're safe to leave. If the eagle hasn't left yet we can wait a bit longer on our own, and if it has we can get right back to camp and figure out what to do from there.
"Oh, alright. If you have work then we won't try to keep you." I say, standing back up and speaking as pleasantly as I can. I do feel a bit bad for interrupting her personal time and reminding her of her job. I wouldn't really like it if somebody did that to me.
"Thank you, I appreciate you coming by again," Hina replies cordially. She then looks a little nervous about continuing, but still does so. "One other thing if you're going to stay around here. I'm not saying that you would do this, but please try not to cause any trouble for any humans that come by." She asks, sounding a bit apologetic.
Oh yeah, I guess it's normal for Earth youkai to mess with humans. That's just what they're supposed to do, or at least what their instincts tell them to do. Nobody sits all the youkai babies and tells them that they have to spook people, it's just what a lot of them end up doing because they like it. Me personally though, aside from the whole 'letting the drone purify the earth' thing which didn't even work out, I don't have any real drive to cause problems for people. Even that thing was just because I had orders to follow. "Yeah sure," I reply. "I think we were going to leave soon anyway, right Yuzuki?"
I look meaningfully at Yuzuki, but it takes a moment for her to notice me. She was apparently busy staring at Hina again. "Huh? Oh, right! It was very nice to meet you Miss Hina." She says hurriedly. That's not what I was getting at, but I don't want to have to keep staring at Yuzuki mid conversation and hoping that she gets that I'm telling her to check if the eagle is around. Oh well, I guess I can just wait until Hina leaves and ask directly.
Hina and I also exchange simple goodbyes and she walks off into the wilderness. I don't know where she's going exactly, but then I don't really know what her job entails so I guess that's to be expected. Gathering misfortune is kind of vague when she seems to just do that by going anywhere. Maybe there's some rules or standards to doing it or something. I idly wonder if goddesses have somebody they have to report to or something.
Once Hina is out of sight, I turn to Yuzuki. I want to ask her about the status of the eagle that was following us, but she seems to be preoccupied with staring at where Hina left. Okay, I really have to ask this first. "What is up with you?"
Yuzuki snaps out of it suddenly. "N-nothing... I uh..." She stammers out quickly. Before continuing, she takes a deep breath and calms down. "Seiran," She says seriously, having reagained her composure. "I want to help her."
"Help her with what?" I ask. "I don't think you can do anything to suck up misfortune for her."
"I still feel like I should do something!" Yuzuki says, sounding a bit more flustered than I'm used to. "She deserves better than this and I should be able to do something to make it better for her."
I'm uh, not at all sure how to react to this. Yuzuki has never acted like this before. The only other times she gets frantic are when she's freaking out about something being really messed up and bothering her, but that's not what's happening here. "No really, what's up with you?" I have to ask it again.
"Sounds like a crush..." I hear Chiyo say casually from off to the side. I guess while Yuzuki and I were talking Chiyo took the time to sit down at the stream and soak her feet a bit, just like Hina had. I think she's in the same spot as well.
"No, and please don't say things like that." Yuzuki huffs angrily, whirling around to face Chiyo. Chiyo isn't looking at her though, so she eventually gives up glaring at Chiyo's back and looks off to the side. Is she blushing? "You guys just don't get it. You definitely don't get it," She grumbles. "She is PERFECT."
"Well, I definitely don't get it." Chiyo answers nonchalantly.
I think I can guess what Yuzuki is talking about though. I noticed this when I first met Hina, but she does have a kind of uncanny valley-esque appearance. Every part of how she looks seems to be completely lacking in flaws that normal living things would get just from living day to day. I don't know if this is something that all goddesses have or if it's just because her appearance is kind of like a doll. For me personally it just made something feel a little off about her, and I imagine it's even worse for humans. For someone like Yuzuki who values perfection and can sense everything about a person's physical appearance though, I guess Hina's flawlessness would be something really amazing.
Or maybe it is just a crush. That would be fine by me too.
I put my hand on Yuzuki's shoulder. I don't want her getting upset or anything, so I'll try to help her out here. "You know, yesterday Hina asked me if I would offer her some faith by praying at her shrine. She said that would really help her out."
Yuzuki turns back to me with a wide smile. "Okay, I can definitely do that!" She says happily. "I'll be back in a moment." She hurries off back to the front of the shrine. Oh wait, crap, I was supposed to ask about the eagle. This is fine though. It probably would have been a bit rude to just ignore Yuzuki's desire to help and just go right back to business.
Since we're waiting for Yuzuki now, I walk over to Chiyo and stand next to where she's sitting. It's easy to loose track of Chiyo in conversations because she tends to talk the least out of all of us and space out a lot, so I think it's important to pay attention to her when I have a chance.
"So..." I start it off. "Everything alright with you?"
Chiyo just shrugs lightly, staring a bit down the stream. "Yeah, I'm fine. Hermit lady wasn't mean to me or anything."
Okay, that's kind of where I wanted the conversation to go anyway. It'll give us a head start on the meeting we'll want to have later. "About her, did you say anything that would make her suspicious of us being from the moon or anything? She seemed to be accusing us of that when we met her."
"I don't think so. She asked a lot of questions that I didn't really get and couldn't answer well though, maybe I said something that I shouldn't have." Chiyo says. "My brain was going slow then too, so luckily I think she thought I was mentally deficient or something. I just played that up until she gave up on getting anything useful out of me."
Chiyo doesn't look upset or anything, but I still don't really like somebody assuming she was stupid. I guess it would kind of look that way to somebody who didn't know about Chiyo's power. When her reaction time is slowed down a lot it is really obvious. It also gets pretty hard to talk to her if you're not really patient with her. Chiyo is definitely not stupid though, I don't like the implication that she is.
Chiyo looks like she's going to say more when we notice Yuzuki coming back. "I'm done now." Yuzuki says cheerfully. "I feel good about that. I'd like to do it more some other time." I kinda felt the same way last night, so I can see where she's coming from.
With Yuzuki back, I decide it's finally time to make progress toward getting us back to camp. "Hey Yuzuki, has the eagle left?" I ask.
Yuzuki concentrates for a moment. I'm pretty sure that her powers don't actually need concentration unless she's actively trying to expand the range that they work in. At least that's what I'm guessing from all the times I've seen her concentrating on her ESP. I'm still not completely sure about all the rules of how it works. "It's... Well it's still there, but it hasn't gotten any closer in a while," She says after she's focused enough. "I think we can avoid it if we don't fly." Oh great.
I try not to groan about having to hike through the forest for over an hour to get back to camp. I manage to get over it with just a sigh. "Alright then. I guess we'll have to walk the rest of the way back." I don't think the others appreciate it either, but Chiyo gets up and ready to leave all the same.
Once we get away from Hina's shrine, it's a pretty uneventful trip. We don't run into anything notable, and Yuzuki doesn't bring up the eagle at any point, so I guess we accomplished what we were going for.
Aside from Ringo being gone, it looks like camp is exactly the same as how we left it for once. At least, Yuzuki doesn't say anything about anything being different so I assume we're good. After the long walk all three of us plop ourselves down at the center table. Military training means that we're not that tired, we could go much further, but it's still nice to get to sit down after a long hike.
After a minute or two of silence, Yuzuki breaks it to ask a question. "So what now?"
It's a bit after noon now, if I've gotten used to telling time with the sun while on Earth. We still have plenty of time left this cycle to get stuff done. "We should probably have a meeting now that Chiyo's back. We need to decide what to do next."
"Shouldn't we find Sumi next?" Yuzuki asks.
I pull out my radio and set it on the table. We should probably try to get Ringo back here for this. "Well yeah, but we don't know where she is." I turn the radio on and make sure the frequency hasn't changed while I'm talking. "Ringo, you there?" I ask into the radio. It occurs to me that I have no idea where Ringo is or what she's doing. She never told us specifically what she was planning on doing earlier.
There's a long pause and I almost start to worry before I finally get a response. "Sorry, can't talk right now," Ringo hisses quickly. "I'll be back later ton-ah! Shit! Gottagookaybye!" The radio clicks off.
[ ] I'm worried [ ] I'm not worried
[ ] Just have a meeting anyway [ ] Try to find Ringo [ ] Go out somewhere else - [ ] (Where?) [ ] Take it easy
I'm actually not worried. I tell myself that a lot, and it might sometimes be a lie, but this time it isn't. Promise.
Ringo was alarmed by something, that was obvious, but if she had been doing something dangerous, she probably wouldn't have picked up the radio in the first place. That's a pretty big drawback with using the radios instead of using comms, we have to actually talk into the radios. If Ringo had been sneaking around something dangerous, she probably wouldn't have answered when I called her. Probably. I hope so anyway.
I think we should go and make sure she's okay though. I'm not worried or anything, I just want to know what she's up to and why she sounded less relaxed than usual over the radio. Something must have happened, even though it probably wasn't anything to worry about.
I get up calmly from my seat and pull my mallet up onto my shoulders. "We should probably go get her."
"We don't know where she is any more than we know where Sumi is." Yuzuki reminds me. It's a perfectly fair and accurate statement, so I don't know why it bothers me. I guess probably just because I was trying to be proactive about things, but I just ended up getting sandbagged by the lack of information.
"Well... She probably didn't go very far." I say, a bit less sure than I probably should be when I'm trying to take the lead. The only thing that Ringo said this morning was that she was going to try and get info from whoever she could find around here. She shouldn't have gone very far if that's the case, but it's also possible that she couldn't find anybody around here and went further away. I want to try being positive though.
Yuzuki looks like she wants to argue more, but doesn't. Instead she just sighs slightly and stands up from the table as well. "So how do you want to do this then?"
"We should probably just stay as a group and look around relatively nearby." I decide. I don't think splitting up would do us much good here. Yuzuki is the only one that has a power that helps her in searching for people, and Chiyo isn't very good at working by herself.
"I check on that from here, but I'm not seeing anything." Yuzuki responds. Well that's not very surprising. Yuzuki's powers are extremely useful for things like this, but they are still limited. For the whole time that we've been on Earth, Yuzuki's main job has just been to get used to the area. The idea was that familiarity would increase the range that she can sense things, but it takes time when the area is so full of stuff like trees and whatnot. In a place that is a lot more empty space like the sky or back on the moon, her operational range can expand much more quickly, but here on the ground I don't think it even reaches half a kilometer. That's still pretty impressive when I think about it though.
"That's fine," I assure her. "We'll just head out and look for a while." Neither of the other two look all that excited about it, but they follow me just the same.
It definitely does take a while. When we leave initially, I'm still a little worried about the possibility of the eagle being around, so we start out on foot. Maybe an hour or so in, we get tired of walking and decide to go back to flying. The problem there is that we can't go much faster still, because going too fast would make Yuzuki unable to use her powers effectively. All in all, it takes us until mid-afternoon just to cover most of the mountain base.
We don't find anything.
I'm still not worried though, I promise. We just decide to expand the search area. There's a lot more to Gensokyo than just this mountain and the surrounding forest after all. We haven't looked around the other places very thoroughly while gathering information yet, so maybe Ringo just wanted to try and fill in some blanks on that front.
I know that there's a big lake a bit further to the south. We've been there before, but never did much. Aside from the giant mansion on the other side, the lake didn't appear to have much of interest. It was just a big body of water. The only reason I could think of that Ringo would go there would be to visit Daiyousei, but I don't know why she would do that. I guess it's possible she had thought of something she wanted to ask the fairy, it just seems like too much of a long shot to bother with though.
We decide against going to the lake and instead head more to the east. The thought process there is that once the trees thin out that way, it should be easier for Yuzuki to work and we can cover more area more quickly. That's the thought anyway, but we pretty quickly run into a problem with that as well. Once we're out of the forest there's a decent buffer zone of empty fields that we work through quickly, but after that, it's farmland. We don't really have seasons on the moon, but my understanding of Earth time and weather says that we're currently in autumn, which is the season where a lot of crops and food is harvested. This means that when we find farmlands, we find humans out working in them.
I know that Lunarians have a pretty low opinion of humans, but that's true for a lot of things, some of which I don't even agree with. I've never actually met a human myself, so when Yuzuki points them out in the distance, I'm not really sure what to do. Would humans even be okay seeing youkai just fly around randomly? Were we going to get in trouble if we get seen? Aside from getting in trouble with command that is. Somebody has to be keeping the humans safe, and I don't want to draw attention to us by scaring humans.
"I don't think it's a big deal. The hermit lady was fine with us." Chiyo says, but I'm pretty sure that's not quite the same thing.
In the end, we decide to avoid being seen as much as possible, so that slows us down even more. What we end up doing is staying in the more wooded areas bordering the farmlands when possible, and letting Yuzuki peek out every once in a while so we know if we're missing anything other than farmers.
After another half hour or so of this, and I'm feeling a little discouraged by lack of results. I'm about ready to give up on it and suggest we try somewhere else when Yuzuki stops me. "Wait a second," She says, not looking out past the tree line, but instead forward. "It's... Not quite the same but I need to check..." She mutters, suddenly hurrying forward.
Uh, hello? Please communicate better. "What are you talking about?" I ask, trying to follow Yuzuki's sudden urgency.
"Hold on, I just want to check something." She says back, not at all answering the question. After another minute or so of trying to follow her though, we find what caught her attention.
There's a girl here. She's sitting on a large rock and peering out from the trees, simply watching the farmers work. Her hands and poofy sleeves have dirt all over them, but she doesn't appear to be bothered by that at all as she idly bites at a sweet potato.
"Hm?" She looks over her shoulder before hurriedly swallowing the food in her mouth. "Oh hey, more rabbits. You guys looking for work too?"
My heart jumps at that. She said 'more rabbits'. That's a good sign. The rest of what she said though... "Looking for work?" I ask.
The girl turns and faces us, but stays sitting. "Just thought you might be the same as the other rabbit," She says cheerfully. "I caught her sneaking around here and wanted to make sure she wasn't causing any trouble. When I talked to her though, she said she wanted to help out in exchange for some food. I set her up with some work as long as I can watch her to make sure she's on the up and up and not just looking to mess with some humans."
"So Ringo's here?" I ask excitedly.
The girl smiles at me. "Yup!" She says happily as she points to the far side of the field she was looking over before. I can barely see her, but now that she's been pointed out, it's pretty clearly her down there picking sweet potatoes. I would think that Yuzuki would have been able to sense that far though.
"She's made a few mistakes here and there, but she's doing honest work so I can't complain," The girl continues. "You guys here to join her?"
[ ] No. As long as we know where Ringo is that's good enough. We can go have our meeting. [ ] No. We should bring Ringo back with us as well. [ ] Yes. We can help her out.
As for how I feel about what Ringo's doing, I'm...
[ ] Pleased. As long as she shares, I'm okay with a break from rations. [ ] Confused. We already have food at camp that's perfectly fine, why does she need to do this? And also Ringo is doing field work?! [ ] Annoyed. I was worried! She could have told us what she was doing if she wasn't in danger! [ ] Indifferent. Well, I guess it could be worse. At least she's not actually in danger.
[X] Yes. We can help her out. [X] Confused. We already have food at camp that's perfectly fine, why does she need to do this? And also Ringo is doing field work?!
"Uh... Sure?" I reply without really thinking about it. I'm preoccupied trying to think of what Ringo's angle is here. We already have more than enough food to last us for quite a while back at camp. Why would she need to go out and work to get us fresh vegetables?
That's another thing, Ringo is voluntarily out working! Doing field work! Manual labor! You know, the kind that would be done by not lazy people!
The girl looks pleased at my response. "Awesome! Having more people means more progress!" She jumps up from the rock she's sitting on, landing on her muddy bare feet. "Let's go then!"
"Weren't you just watching?" I ask. I was kind of hoping to get a chance to talk (and by talk I mean ask 'what the hell') to Ringo with just us rabbits around. That'd be easier than having to maintain our cover story.
"No way!" The girl says quickly. Dang. "Of course I'm working too, I was just away for a bit looking to see if my older sister was around so I could share some food with her too. Seems like she's still hard at work with her job though, so I should get back to it too. Come on."
The girl spins around happily and walks into the fields humming happily to herself. I'm about to follow when I'm stopped by Yuzuki grabbing my arm. "She's like Hina." She hisses at me urgently.
"Like Hina?" I repeat, not sure what that means. I look around, but there doesn't seem to be any misfortune in the area or anything. Not that I could see it when I was around Hina, but I could at least see some signs then.
"Another goddess!" Yuzuki quickly clarifies when I don't seem to get it immediately. "The feeling isn't exactly the same because she's all dirty and her hands and feet are really worn, but she's still got that same perfect feeling like Hina had!" Yuzuki continues excitedly. "Wow Gensokyo is so amazing..." She says dreamily. There were goddesses on the moon too Yuzuki. I mean, they definitely didn't involve themselves in stuff like farming or whatever it is that Hina does exactly, so I guess that's pretty different, but they were still there.
"Cheating on Hina already? You sure are fickle." Chiyo says bluntly, smirking as she walks past us to follow the goddess.
"It's not like that!" Yuzuki whines, following after Chiyo quickly. I follow as well, hurrying to catch up.
Something about being in a field of crops makes it seem much more impressive than just looking out over it. I can't help but think about how many people will be fed by these hundreds if not thousands of vegetables that we're walking through. Agriculture on the moon is much more artificial and orderly than this, which probably makes it more efficient, but it's not as visually amazing. I dunno, I guess where food comes from is just something that I never really actively thought about back home.
The goddess girl reaches Ringo before us, clapping a hand on her shoulder, which makes Ringo jerk up and almost drop her armful of sweet potatoes. Ringo keeps them together and doesn't drop any, seeming a little annoyed before she realizes who interrupted her. Ringo puts the sweet potatoes in a nearby basket and says something I don't quite catch before the goddess points to us. Ringo notices us and waves to us as we join them.
"Oh hey guys! Glad to see you got Chi back!" Ringo says happily once we reach her. "You didn't have to come and find me, I told you I'd be back later tonight. You went and ruined the surprise." She doesn't actually sound annoyed by us ruining her plan to get us groceries though.
"You sounded panicked... Earlier," I say. I stop myself from mentioning the radio directly, since there's somebody else here. "We thought we should come find you in case something was up."
Ringo waves her hand dismissively. "Naahhhh, I just dropped a couple things while I was talking, wasn't a big deal."
"It sounded like a big deal." Chiyo points out.
Ringo laughs slightly. "Well Minoriko's got her eyes on me to make sure I don't mess things up or act like a big mean youkai, so I'm trying not mess anything up." She explains. "Right Mino?"
The goddess girl, Minoriko I guess, snorts slightly as she joins in Ringo's amusement. "Hey, I gotta watch out for the farmers first you know?" She says happily. "You're doing fine anyway, and you even brought in some friends to help work too!"
"Oh yeah, about that." I interject. I just have to ask because I still don't get it. "What brought this on Ringo? You never WANT to work normally."
"You calling me lazy?!" Ringo pretends to sound annoyed, but it doesn't really work. We both know that she usually is, in fact, lazy. "Well, I can do stuff on my own sometimes." She shrugs, not even really answering the question. I'm not going to let her out of it that easily.
Before I can continue though, Minoriko interrupts. "Speaking of doing stuff though, can we get back to work?" She asks. "I don't mind if you guys talk while working, but we're burning daylight, and I'd like to get things done. The two of you can keep talking and work on the crops here. I'll just grab you other two and we can go work on the rice. It'll be good to get that started on today too."
Yuzuki nods at the idea, while Chiyo looks unenthusiastic. I didn't really think of it before, but I guess I kind of roped everybody into spending the afternoon here without really meaning to. Oops. I just wanted to talk to Ringo. Well, I guess any of us could get out of it if we really wanted to though.
"Great, just ask Ringo and she'll tell you what to do," Minoriko says happily. "We are gonna get so much done! Oh, how about this? If you guys get done with the sweet potatoes, you can move on to the carrots! Sound good?" She asks Ringo and I.
I'm actually not that crazy about carrots. People seem to think that rabbits are crazy about them but that's not actually how it works. Like, they're okay I guess but I don't see what the big deal about them is. It doesn't annoy me, I just think it's weird how people just assume that all rabbits like the same things. "Sure." I say noncommittally.
Minoriko nods, apparently satisfied with that, then she leads Yuzuki and Chiyo away, toward a nearby rice paddy.
Once the others are out of earshot I decide to pick back up on the earlier conversation. "So really, what are you thinking here?" I ask Ringo.
Ringo starts back on work, pulling a sweet potato out of the ground and putting it in the nearby basket before she starts talking. "There isn't much to it really. All I'm thinking is; When are we ever gonna have a chance to get fresh food otherwise? Command isn't watching, we can do what we want, and I want to try something new and eat some Earth food."
"That's all?" I ask. I kinda get it, but it still seems weird and almost out of character to me.
Ringo shrugs, continuing on to the next potato. "Guess so. I knew where the farms were from when we were scoping out the area, and after I had some dango this morning I figured I could put my strength to good use. I'd help out the farmers and get us some new food. Win-win really. Maybe I'd even hear some rumors or something too. I dunno."
"Huh..." I don't have much to say to that, so I start on a different row of crops. I think the rumor part is a little flimsy for justification, but I can at least understand where she's coming from with the rest of it.
"When I got here I wasn't sure how to ask the farmers if I could help though. I thought maybe they'd be scared of youkai or something. Mino found me wandering around nearby though, and it worked out from there. It was a lot easier this morning when was still buffed up though." Ringo laughs as she struggles a bit to pull up another sweet potato. "I don't think I quite knew what I was getting into."
As it turns out, I hadn't known what I was getting us into either. This harvesting part of the farming process, as it turns out, is very tedious and exhausting, and we have to do it for hours. I had already spent a large chunk of the day walking around, and then you add on all of the physical labor of constantly bending down to pick vegetables, then lugging around baskets full of them. I'm feeling pretty tired and hungry by the time early evening rolls around.
We finally hit the end of the sweet potatoes, and neither of us are in any hurry to go on to the carrots. "Can we be done now?" Ringo asks after heaving a big sigh.
I admit I was kind of thinking it too, but it's still weird for her to be asking me that. "This was your idea, and you would have had to do even more if we hadn't come to get you."
"Is that a yeeeeess?" Ringo asks looking at me hopefully.
Ugh. Don't give me that begging look. I'm not even in charge here. "Fine." I say anyway.
We leave our field and head over to the rice paddies that Minoriko and the other rabbits are working at. From what I can see Yuzuki looks distraught at how dirty walking around in the mud has gotten her, while Chiyo appears to be working diligently without a care in the world. I don't know much about rice harvesting, so I can't really tell how much they've accomplished. It looks like a lot to me, but I don't know how much actual rice comes out of each plant.
"Hey Mino!" Ringo calls into the field. "We kinda need to get going to get back home before dark."
Minoriko looks up from cutting rice plants when she hears her name. "Huh? Oh, sure thing. Thanks a lot for the help. I'll get you a basket of stuff together real quick and then you can go."
Yuzuki and Chiyo join us outside of the rice paddy. Yuzuki looks incredibly relieved, while Chiyo barely seems to be paying attention. I think she was probably using her powers to make things seem to go by more quickly. After a couple of minutes, Minoriko comes back and presents Ringo with a large basket. I can't see everything inside but I can at least see that there's a ton of stuff. Sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, eggplants, corn, she's being pretty generous with us. I guess we got a pretty good deal. At least I hope so. I don't know the actual value of things like this on Earth.
"Feel free to come by again if you want more. The farmers around her can always use the help." Minoriko says happily.
"We didn't even see the farmers though." Chiyo points out.
Minoriko sighs as she moves back into the rice paddy. "Yeah, the farmers here are getting kind of old," She says sadly as she starts cutting more rice. "They had a son, but he decided to go live in the village and chase girls or something instead of helping his parents supply food to everyone," She continues, focusing more on the rice than what she's saying. "Honestly, farmers don't get enough respect around here. Food is something that everybody needs to survive. Honestly you might as well make the farmers kings of this whole place with how important they are. It's not like anybody else is keeping things running around here..." She doesn't even seem to be paying attention to us at this point.
"Well uh, see you later then!" I excuse us. Minoriko does break out of her muttering to say goodbye as well, and we start heading back to camp.
It's evening now, but we still have a meeting to get through when we get back to camp, but after that it will probably be late enough that we're not going to get much done outside of camp. I decide that after the meeting, I'm going to spend time before bed with...
>>26549 >I'm actually not that crazy about carrots. People seem to think that rabbits are crazy about them but that's not actually how it works. Like, they're okay I guess but I don't see what the big deal about them is. It doesn't annoy me, I just think it's weird how people just assume that all rabbits like the same things.
Finally, a rabbit who isn't into junk food (i.e. carrots! Didja know that carrots aren't very healthy to rabbits in real life?)
When I think about it, I'm pretty appreciative of how helpful Yuzuki has been today. Ringo was focused on doing her own thing, and I'm not completely sold on it being all that useful. In contrast, Yuzuki was instrumental in finding Chiyo today, as well as hopefully preventing our base's location being discovered by someone who was obviously suspicious of us. Given that her and I are probably the ones that take our work the most seriously, I'm really glad that Yuzuki isn't the one still missing. Not to say that I'm happy that Sumi isn't here.
The trip back to camp takes much less time than it took to get out to the farms. That's not very surprising since we were intentionally slowing ourselves down before in order to search the area. Once we're only returning home, we can just fly without too much concern for letting Yuzuki use her powers.
By the time we get back, the sun has almost set. Just like yesterday, going out after this point is probably not the best idea. Even though we've doubled in numbers since yesterday, that doesn't mean we've doubled in combat effectiveness. I don't think either Yuzuki or Chiyo would be much of an asset against any dangerous youkai that are out at night. Really only Ringo and I have offensively oriented powers. Unless we decide to ignore rules of engagement and use some of our actual hardware, we're probably going to be in a tough spot when it comes to getting things done out here in the wilderness at night.
We land back in camp and go right to the center table like usual. Ringo sets the basket down on the ground to the left of her seat. Ordinarily she would set the food out on the table, but the basket is a bit large, and I guess she doesn't want to obstruct anybody's view. She could have dumped the vegetables out on the table, but then Yuzuki would probably have spent most of the meeting arranging them into her idea of a correct pattern.
Even though the basket is on the ground, Ringo still reaches down and grabs a carrot (stereotypes!) out of it to nibble on while the rest of us sit down. After she finishes her current bite, she gets things started. "Alright, so. Meeting. First thing, nice to have you back Chi. Glad you didn't get eaten or whatever. Let's hear what happened with you while you were out." She says. Our meetings are always informal like this, but I do have to admit that Ringo does a pretty good job at keeping them productive anyway.
Compared to how Yuzuki looked yesterday, Chiyo looks much less apologetic about things. She still kind of tries to excuse herself though. "I only wanted to step out for a bit yesterday. Seiran said we'd probably have somebody come fight us, so I wanted to chill out for a bit before that happened in case I didn't get a chance to for a while." She says evenly.
"But you didn't have to leave camp for that, did you? I'd like to think we're pretty chill here." Ringo says jokingly. Well, she definitely is chilled most of the time at least.
"... Yuzuki and Sumi were both freaking out in different ways. I wanted to be alone for a bit." There's a slight pause between Ringo saying something and Chiyo responding to it. Either her power's acting up again or she's just taking a lot of time to think of a response.
"But Yuzuki followed you anyway." Ringo adds.
"I didn't know where she was going or if she'd be back in time!" Yuzuki cuts in to explain.
Ringo holds up her hand to stop Yuzuki. "It's fine. It's over and done with. There's going to be some kind of punishment later once everybody's back and I can think of what it should actually be, but it's fine for now," She talks Yuzuki down before turning back to Chiyo. "Let's just keep it going. You guys got attacked and split up, we know what happened with Yuzuki, what about you?"
"... I got lost," Chiyo says bluntly after a slight pause. "I didn't want to fly because I realized that our stealth had gotten broken, so I had to walk around for... I don't know how long. I wound up pretty far away apparently, so it was probably a long time."
Ringo nods in understanding. "Sure, you were in combat, so you probably used your power then. After that it pushed back on you and you lost track of time without realizing it while you were still escaping."
"I ended up at the hermit's house. She was surprised and seemed curious about how I got there, but I don't really remember. I explained that I had been attacked and she let me in. I was still there until today when Seiran and Yuzuki came to pick me up. She was pretty nice, aside from all the questioning that came later." Chiyo explains.
"Apparently Kasen is suspicious of us. She asked Yuzuki and I a lot of questions too." I add.
Ringo takes another bite out of her carrot and thinks for a short time. She doesn't seem concerned, just thinking about things. "That's weird, why would she be suspicious? The only sign of us doing anything is the drone, and there isn't really anything linking us to it."
"It wasn't even about the drone," I clarify. "Did you read the paper that that tengu gave us this morning?" Ringo nods, of course she did, she'd want to look for any useful information in it. "It's something to do with that occult ball incident. She seemed to think that we were involved for some reason."
Ringo doesn't respond immediately, thinking a bit more. "She was asking me about it a lot too, but I just played dumb," Chiyo says, breaking the pause in conversation. "What I picked up from her questions is that the incident itself is over, but one of the balls is still acting weird, whatever that means. She seemed suspicious of me because I was a rabbit and seemed to imply that she knows about moon rabbits, so maybe the moon is involved somehow."
"Have you heard about anything like that Ringo? Was anybody else sent down here?" I ask. If anybody had heard anything, it would probably be Ringo. Not only is she the highest ranking member of the unit, meaning she gets our orders from command, but she also pays attention to random rumors that are spread over the comms the most.
Ringo shakes her head. "No, I haven't heard anything, but that doesn't mean the moon isn't involved. They only tell me what they decide I need to know, and I don't know anything about it. Definitely something we'll want to follow up on if we can find a source of info about the incident though. Maybe we were supposed to just be a diversion for something bigger going on down here. They might have avoided telling us so we couldn't give anything away if we got caught."
That's not a pleasant thought, but it could be true. If we were supposed to buy time for command to accomplish something separately, it could mean that they were the ones that shut down the portal to make sure we didn't retreat when our stealth dropped. They might not have been very trusting of us considering how most rabbits aren't that loyal, so maybe they decided to force us into it. I feel my gut twisting as the words 'suicide mission' come to mind. That's definitely a bad thought.
I'm broken out of my thoughts when Ringo puts her hand on my shoulder and gives me a concerned look. Was I worrying too much again? Was it obvious? "Sorry, I was just thinking about possibilities. Let's keep things going. Seiran and Yuzuki, you guys went to the hermit's house, she questioned you about something or other, then what?"
"She let us have Chiyo after we told her that we didn't know anything, but then she sent an eagle out to follow us. She probably wanted to know where we're located. We threw it off the trail by stopping at Hina's shrine though." I notice Yuzuki perk up slightly when I say Hina's name.
Ringo doesn't seem to understand the logic there. "How did that work?"
"Hina's aura makes animals want to avoid her, so it actually worked very well and I'm glad that we went there." Yuzuki explains. "The eagle didn't want to keep track of us while we were there, and we left on foot afterwards, so I'm something like ninety percent sure that we lost it at that point. I haven't seen it since this afternoon in any case."
"After that we came back to camp and I tried to call you on the radio. You should know what happened from there." I conclude. There was a lot more that happened, but I don't think there was much more actual information that Ringo would need.
Ringo finishes her carrot before continuing. "Right, I guess that leads into my part. I went to the farms because I wanted to see if I could learn anything useful from the humans there. I figured I could gauge if we were going to be able to get help from them. It... Didn't go as well as I would have liked honestly. The humans that I talked to weren't running away in terror or anything, but they definitely didn't want to talk to me. Except Minoriko."
Oh I guess she doesn't know about Minoriko. I wouldn't have known without Yuzuki saying something either, so that's fair. "Yuzuki is pretty sure that Minoriko isn't human." I interrupt Ringo.
"She's a harvest goddess actually." Yuzuki adds, getting a surprised look from Ringo. "I asked her about it while we were working."
"Huh..." Ringo says thoughtfully. "Okay, well that explains it I guess. So yeah, humans aren't too crazy about talking to youkai, but they didn't grab the torches and pitchforks to try and chase me off either. I guess that gives us a general idea of how humans feel about youkai here. Aside from the vegetables and that bit of info, I didn't get much out of what I did today."
I almost want to criticize her choice on what to do today, but I end up not saying anything. I'm not even sure what she would have gotten out of it in a best case scenario, but it just feels like Ringo did it because she felt like it more than anything. I feel like it would be better to get ourselves sorted out before we try to go out to talk to more Gensokyo residents than we have to.
"Anyway, that clears things up for today. We still have to find Sumi, and get the drone back. We also still have a few leads on information that we could look into just for general Gensokyo knowledge, so there's still plenty of stuff to get done tomorrow," Ringo says, wrapping things up. "We can figure it out in the morning though, it's dinner time now. Meeting over!" Ringo smacks the table with her palm before standing up. "I'm gonna cook something here, you guys can have some when it's done." She says happily as she picks up the basket of vegetables and walks off.
"In the meantime, could either of you help me get some water to clean up with?" Yuzuki asks Chiyo and I. I'm actually surprised that she managed to stay still this long, her hands and feet are still muddy from working in the field.
"Sure." I answer. I had already wanted to spend some time and talk with Yuzuki anyway. "How did you get so dirty when Chiyo didn't though?"
"Chiyo found some boots that Minoriko let her use, and I slipped while I was working." Yuzuki groaned slightly and looked down at herself, and I noticed Chiyo grin slightly. "This is really not acceptable."
We have a collapsible one person shower, along with a heater and pump that we brought from the moon. It's really handy for cleaning ourselves up, the only downside is that we have to transport the water we use for it from somewhere. The pump cleans it up, so it's okay to just use river water, but we have to go there and manually fill up a couple of big jugs every time we want a shower. The jugs get kind of heavy as well, so if you want a shower that lasts longer than a few minutes, you need more than one person getting water.
Yuzuki and I grab the water jugs out of the equipment tent and head down to the nearest river. We walk, rather than fly, just to try and keep as low of a profile as we can now that the sun has set. This actually gives me a pretty good chance to talk to her. I decide to start off with the most obvious thing in my mind. It's the most unusual thing I've seen from her in a long time. "So, can you explain the thing you have with goddesses?"
Yuzuki looks a little startled, like she hadn't been prepared for the question. "What do you mean?" She says, a little quickly.
"I just thought you were acting differently than usual today when we talked to Hina," I explain. "I already kind of have an idea of what it's about but I wanted to ask."
"You don't believe Chiyo right? It's not a crush!" Yuzuki quickly clarifies.
That's not at all what I was thinking, but saying it like that isn't really convincing. "No, that's not what I meant."
"Good, because I don't... I mean, well, I'm not..." She trails off and sighs. Usually I'm the one freaking out over things, so I'm not actually sure what to say to her. After a moment she continues though, apparently having regained her composure. "Seiran, did you know that one of your legs is slightly longer than the other?" She asks suddenly.
"What?" I'm not ready for the sudden change in topic.
"Just a little bit, nobody else would notice it, and you're so used to it that it's normal for you," Yuzuki continues on, not answering my question. "Did you know that Chiyo's nose is just barely off center? Did you know that Sumi has a scar on the inside of her left ankle? Did you know that one of Ringo's dimples is larger than the other one?"
"What?" I repeat. I don't understand where this is coming from.
Yuzuki sighs again. "It's normal, and I know that, but everybody has stuff about them that isn't perfect. A lot of the time those things are too small to notice for normal people, but the thing is, I notice those things. I notice them all the time. It's normal, even I have things like that, but I still can't stop noticing it. I know it shouldn't bother me, and usually it doesn't, but sometimes..." She sounds a little frustrated for some reason.
"And goddesses..." I start, but Yuzuki cuts me off.
"The goddesses we saw today were perfect. It wasn't normal. I couldn't find anything wrong about them. I was just..." She pauses slightly, searching for words. "I felt amazed and refreshed to see somebody perfect like that. Normal people are normal, and I don't dislike them for it, that wouldn't be fair. I just wasn't ready for how not normal a goddess would be. It's..." She pauses again. "I felt like I wanted to be around them just to keep seeing them be perfect."
I can kinda see what Chiyo was saying now. That actually does kind of sound like something we could call it a crush. An extreme one that's kind of based off of something weird, but still a crush. I don't really want to joke about it though, bringing up this topic seems to have put Yuzuki in a weird mood that I'm not used to.
We get the water without incident and bring it back to camp. After her shower, Yuzuki joins back up with everyone at the table and we have a pretty nice dinner. Aside from the usual rice that we still have a lot of, Ringo fried up eggplants for everybody. It's probably not as filling as the rations, but it still ends up tasting better just because, as Ringo says while making an exaggerated kissy face, "It was cooked with ~love~."
After that, there's a small amount of time killing before bed. I take the opportunity to rinse myself off with the water that Yuzuki didn't use, though there isn't enough to even really call it a shower. I go to bed feeling happy with the progress we made today, but still a bit anxious about what we're going to do.
I wake up after an unusually good sleep. I even wind up with more sleep than yesterday, since there's no tengu waking me up earlier than I would want. Because of that, I feel pretty good, but when I look, I also realize I forgot to take a pill last night. Oops. I guess it turned out okay in the end somehow though, so no big deal.
This morning is a little bit colder than the previous one, even though the sun is up by now. Well, I say that it's up but it's mostly obscured, since it's pretty cloudy out. I'm about to be annoyed by the weather, but then remember that clouds don't necessarily mean rain on Earth. On the moon, most of our weather and atmospheric conditions are controlled with technology, though I don't know much of the details or who's in charge of it. Regardless, seeing clouds out on the moon means that somebody important decided that a rain shower was necessary for something. Here it could still clear up and we could end up still having a productive day. I really hope we do at least.
I put on my normal clothes and head out of my tent as usual. I think that I might actually be the first one up, which is surprising to me. Yuzuki is pretty much always up first, aside from the rare occasions where Chiyo accidentally gets up really early. A quick scan of the tents reveals that I'm wrong though. Yuzuki isn't in her tent, so I probably just missed her somewhere around here. When I think about it, I'm not exactly sure where she would be other than the center table or Chiyo's tent though.
I'm about to go look for her to see if she'll make me some breakfast (I'm allowed to be a little lazy sometimes too) when I'm interrupted by something swooping down from the sky, only slowing immediately before it hits the ground in front of me.
Oh. Oh good another fairy.
I've seen quite a few fairies while gathering information, but this one seems patently different than the rest of them. It's not just her appearance either. Like most of them, she's small, about the same size as Luna. Her clothes aren't that special either, just a blue and white dress and a big blue ribbon. Her wings are a bit different I guess, I don't think I've ever seen another fairy that looks like she has wings made of ice, but that's not really the biggest factor.
I'd say the biggest thing is how she looks at me while standing in front of me. Even though her head has to be at something like a fourty-five degree angle to look up at my face, she still does so and seems to exude confidence while doing it. She doesn't seem to mind the size difference. She has her hands on her hips and her legs wide apart, not even trying to be subtle about her body language. I guess you'd have to be used to being smaller than the people you talk to as a fairy, but this is just so much different from the fairies that I've seen. This one seems to almost be daring me to start something.
We stare at each other in silence for a moment, me trying to think of what to say and her seeming to size me up. Eventually she breaks the silence. "Hey!" She says, greeting me happily before immediately moving on. "Are you Seiran or Ringo? Cause I wanna talk to them. We have business!"
"Um..." Oh great, more fairy nonsense. We dealt with the last batch of it easily enough, but that was more because we kinda had to. I don't want this taking up the day while we still have more important things to get done.
While I'm contemplating lying in order to pass this off to Ringo, I notice another fairy float down from the sky, coming the same way that the first one did. I actually recognize this second one though, since it's Daiyousei again.
"Cirno, I told you I couldn't keep up with you." Daiyousei whines slightly as she comes to a stop next to the first fairy. She looks like she was straining herself to get here as fast as she did.
"Sorry Dai, I just couldn't wait up." The fairy, Cirno I guess, says without taking her eyes off me.
Well, with a fairy that actually knows me here, I guess there's no pushing it off on to Ringo. Even if I could wake Ringo up, there isn't really a good way to avoid saying who I am. "I'm Seiran," I admit, trying to keep a neutral tone. "I guess Daiyousei said something about us?"
The fairy nods confidently. "That's right. Well then Seiran, I'm Cirno! I'm the strongest fairy in all of Gensokyo!" She proclaims loudly.
She doesn't continue after that, and I'm not exactly sure what she wants me to react with. "Uh, Cirno..." Daiyousei prompts her after a couple of awkward seconds of her waiting for me to be amazed.
"Right!" Cirno continues, not appearing to be thrown off her pace at all. "And because I'm the strongest one here, I wanna know about anybody who's in my territory that might also be strong! Whether you're a friend or not, I gotta let you know who's in charge here! Me!"
"Cirno..." Daiyousei prompts her again, not waiting for the awkward pause that was most likely going to come otherwise.
"I also wanted to meet the people who helped Daiyousei out earlier," She continues, a little less boastfully. "And I guess thank them."
Oh okay. I was a little hesitant, but if the business that she said we have is just her thanking us, that's simple enough. I was expecting something much more time consuming for some reason. "Sure, it wasn't a big deal. We needed to get our stuff back anyway." I say. I don't think it's anything that somebody else needed to come here and thank us for.
"Right! What was with those three dummies anyway? They should have known better than to mess with people in my territory, human or not! I'm glad you took care of them though, it saved me from having to go show them who's boss. Again." Cirno responds. I'm amused by a random thought of us sending reports about fairy politics and turf wars to command. I'm sure they would have found it absolutely fascinating. "And it's not like they even took anything good. Who needs some dumb warm bag things anyway? Dumb."
I feel like we're not really getting anywhere. Daiyousei gives me an apologetic look when I look over at her, but before either of us can try to get Cirno on track for what she actually wants came here for, we hear someone else start talking.
"Seiiiraaan... What's the noise for this tiiime?" I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that Ringo's up now, but she definitely is. Considering how pretty much everything Cirno has been saying has been at right below yelling volume, I guess it's not that surprising.
This is a pretty good chance for me though. "Good morning Ringo. Daiyousei came back and brought a friend." I say, hoping that Ringo will be able to take it from here. Whether she lets the fairy continue to rant or forces her to make her point, either way it's not my job now at least.
Once she's joined us, Ringo looks down at Cirno. "Heyo. I'm Ringo." She says, leaning down and presenting her hand for a handshake.
Cirno grabs Ringo's hand and appears to put a ton of effort into giving the most firm handshake ever. Considering the size difference between hands, I don't think it actually works, but the enthusiasm was definitely there. "I'm Cirno, the strongest fairy in Gensokyo!"
Ringo raises an eyebrow, I'm not sure if she's impressed or amused, though I can probably guess. She quickly plays it off in the same chilled out way she reacts to most things though. "Oh really? Cool, cool. Nice to meet you then. Did you want something from us?"
"I'm here to scope you guys out. Dai told me that you intimidated Luna really good, and broke her door open with just a kick!" Cirno says, looking at Ringo before turning to me. "And she said that you looked scary when you charged at her out of nowhere! You guys are stronger than normal people, and you still took the time to help out Daiyousei!"
'Scary'? Really? It's kind of hard for me to think of myself as scary, but I guess I impressed these fairies for whatever that's worth.
"We should fight!" Cirno declares happily, though I don't know if she's talking to me or Ringo specifically. "You helped Daiyousei, so we can be allies, but if we're allies, then we should know how strong we are. That way you guys will know that you can count on me, and I'll know just how tough you guys are!"
"Oh really? Like danmaku and stuff? That might be fun actually." Ringo says with a smirk. Cirno nods confidently back at her. "What do you think Seiran?" Ringo asks me.
From what I had heard of Gensokyo before coming here, this is more of what I expected. A lot of youkai and whatever else fighting each other for tenuous (at best) reasons. I guess it could be worse though, if it's just a fairy, I don't think there's much at stake here. I could get some practice, or I could just pass it off onto Ringo. On the other hand, we do have other things to get to today...
[ ] Fight Cirno - [ ] Go all out - [ ] Take it easy on her - [ ] Let her win [ ] Have Ringo fight Cirno [ ] Decline, and make Ringo decline too. We have more important things to do.
(Some days writing is much harder than other days)
[x] Fight Cirno -[x] Seriously, but not desperately
As Seiran's repeatedly said in narration, we're really not that good at danmaku. If we just half-ass it, we won't learn anything from the fight. (And I don't think we'll have any trouble not being impressive.)
And really, "seriously, but not desperately" has been Seiran's approach to everything else she's done; it's worked pretty well so far.
[X] Fight Cirno - [X] Seriously, but not desperately
"I think I'll take her up on it." I answer Ringo. She actually looks a bit surprised.
"You sure? Because I don't mind fighting for you." She asks. I appreciate the sentiment, but at the same time I don't know why she's choosing now to avoid being lazy. If only she would use that kind of enthusiasm on chores, or keeping all the other rabbits in line.
"No, it's fine. I kinda want to fight more after that mess two days ago anyway." I assure Ringo. It's true as well. I've been thinking about this occasionally after losing to Reisen. She's had quite a few years of head start to learn danmaku, but it was still impressive for me to see her fight. When she had left the moon she was just like any other rabbit. Well, maybe her work ethic was a bit better than average, but it wasn't like she was receiving commendations or anything. It was just surprising to see the jump in ability that came from living and fighting down here for all these years.
I look back at Cirno, who's still standing confidently and giving me a wide smile. "How do you want to do this?" I ask. The rules for danmaku weren't really that well explained to us honestly. It was kind of on the list of information we wanted to find somewhere, but I'm not exactly sure where the spell card rules that we're supposed to be following would even be written down. We only know what Commander Yorihime told us, and even that was second hand info.
"We can just keep using cards until we run out or one of us blows up!" Cirno answers happily.
Oh yeah, I guess fairies reform whenever they get destroyed. Doesn't that still hurt though? "Uh, I can't really blow up." I don't think this fairy actually wants me dead, so she's probably just not thinking about me not being a fairy.
Cirno looks surprised for a moment (really?), but quickly remembers that she's not talking to a fairy. "Oh... Fine then. Three cards, whoever gets hit the most loses. I can even go down to two cards if you want a handicap!"
I think most people would laugh at a fairy suggesting that she's willing to take it easy on you. In my case though, I'm willing to take her seriously. I don't know exactly how strong the self-proclaimed strongest fairy in Gensokyo is, but it would make sense if she was at least much more used to this than me. She's probably lived here for a long time, and given her personality, that probably means she's been in a lot of fights. It's frustrating, but I'm too new at this to not take this opportunity for practice seriously.
I'm not desperate enough to need a handicap though.
"Okay, three cards each then." I tell Cirno. I actually only have three cards total, so I guess that works out well. Making up patterns that I can use is surprisingly hard!
"Alright! LET'S GO!" Cirno yells happily as she launches up into the sky. Her wings don't move nearly fast enough for her to be flying that quickly, but I guess they're more for show than anything else. I don't need wings to fly after all.
As I'm about to lift off and follow Cirno, Daiyousei talks to me. "I'm really sorry about this," She says quickly, bowing somewhat deeply. "Cirno got really excited when I told her about you two. I managed to talk her down yesterday so she wouldn't bother you, but today she wouldn't listen."
"It's fine Daiyousei." I assure her, before Ringo cuts me off.
"Yeah, it's fine. We get a show out of it, and nobody's going to get hurt or anything, so there's no harm to it," She says, putting her hand on Daiyousei's shoulder and pulling her up out of her bow. "Good luck out there though Seiran," She says to me. "Don't make us look too bad against the strongest fairy ever." She sounds amused by it, so I guess she's not taking this as seriously as I am.
"Oh cool, no pressure then." I say somewhat sarcastically. Ringo just laughs about it while I lift off into the sky. Cirno doesn't seem like the patient type, so I can just leave the conversation at that.
While I fly up into the air, I idly think about how conspicuous this is going to be. From what I know, danmaku fights are usually several straight minutes of loud noises and bright colors. I'm under the impression that that kind of runs counter to us trying to stay somewhat hidden out here. That eagle following us issue from yesterday is still fresh in my mind, so maybe I'm being a bit paranoid still though. This kind of thing probably happens all the time.
It's not hard to find Cirno in the air, considering there's nothing else up here. I guess it would be harder if the sky was clear today since she would blend in more, but it's cloudy today. That would probably give me an advantage if I wasn't also wearing blue. I like this dress though. Whatever.
Once I reach about the same altitude as Cirno and come to a stop, she finally stops grinning so much and instead gets serious. She adopts a loose stance, seemingly ready to move and react at a moment's notice. You definitely have to in a spell card duel though, so it makes sense. "You can go first." She offers. I'm not going to argue with that.
「Evil Bullet "Speed Strike"」
I hold out the card and concentrate on using my magic. It's like an explosion of red and pink light as I shoot out a bunch of differently sized lines of bullets. They're designed to curve later in their flight path, which is a pretty big advantage that they actually have over actual bullets. The next volley I shoot will then curve the other way, causing the patterns to cross over each other. I'm not that happy with how simple this one is, but I think it works fine as an opener. Might as well use it as a warm-up and if it actually hits anything, all the better.
Sometimes it's actually a little hard to see you opponent during a spell card duel. At least that's the conclusion I've come to. Maybe it's just my lack of experience. I don't hear the sound of Cirno getting hit though, which isn't exactly a good sign. Instead, once I'm out of bullets from this card, I immediately hear Cirno declaring her own attack.
「Ice Sign "Icicle Fall"」
I see lines and lines of icicles shoot out as Cirno flies up above me. They turning around once they spread out enough and fall at me from above. This is probably the even harder part of danmaku for me. Dodging is really nerve-racking for me. Especially when you're using reaLLY SHARP ICICLES HOLY CRAP. They curve and converge on me, forcing me to squeeze through them as best as I can. I know that danmaku is non-lethal and this isn't supposed to be that dangerous but that doesn't really help when they all look SO SHARP.
After the first wave, I notice something as the second wave is being sent out. It looks like there should be a blind spot above me before the icicles curve. I'm tempted to go up there to try and catch a break, but decide against it. Cirno didn't seem like the smartest person ever, but if she's taking this seriously like I am, I don't think she would just let that area go completely uncovered.
A few seconds later, I'm proven right when Cirno starts shotgunning extra yellow bullets at me. I'm not exactly happy about having more to dodge, but I manage. It would have been much harder to avoid if I had gotten closer. Compared to some of the stuff that Reisen threw at me though, this pattern isn't actually all that hard. I don't get hit at all, which makes us even as I start my second card.
「Bullet Sign "The Eagle Has Been Shot"」
This one is actually the most recent one that I've made, since it took a while for me to learn how to make large bullets turn into smaller ones. I just focus on firing out the larger circular bullets and they eventually turn into walls of smaller ones that close off Cirno's movements. This by itself doesn't end up hitting, but once I shoot out my extra volley of actually bullet shaped shots, it catches her off guard. I hear the 'Pichuun' noise. That's one hit for me. Cirno yells in frustration while using her second card.
「Freeze Sign "Perfect Freeze"」
I don't have time to think as a huge spray of multicolored bullets flies out in every direction. There doesn't even seem to be any pattern to them, they're just all shooting out randomly at different speeds. I'm focused on dodging as best as I can, just reacting to whatever I can see, but suddenly there's a flash and everything stops. All the bullets go pure white and freeze in place. It would be a relief, but they're all still there, getting in the way as Cirno starts shooting again and-Pichuun, shit.
I just ran into a bullet that I forgot was frozen in place there. I guess I need to focus on knowing my surroundings more. I need to score a hit with this last card now.
「Gun Sign "Lunatic Gun"」
This pattern, while better than Speed Strike, could just as easily be called spray and pray. FIRE. BULLETS. EVERYWHERE. It's actually based off of some of the more dangerous weapons we have back home, which fire a ton of shots in a short period of time. This is my impression of it in danmaku format, though it's not nearly as accurate.
Pichuun! I hear Cirno get hit again shortly into the pattern, then there's some kind of high pitched cracking noise. It takes me a moment to realize what is happening. Cirno is freezing the shots that I fired at her in place and letting them disappear harmlessly. Is that even allowed? The area around her is suddenly completely clear of threats, and she finishes up the rest of the pattern without a problem. I'm ahead by one now, so I can actually win this if I don't get hit here!
「Ice King "Frost King"」
Cirno yells with effort as she suddenly creates some huge crystals of ice. They're even bigger than she is, but shouldn't be hard to dodge. Instead of throwing them at me though, she throws them to the side, where they hover in place and... Oh.
That's a lot of icicles coming out of those things.
[ ] Dodge! - [ ] Up! - [ ] Left! - [ ] I DON'T KNOW! [ ] If she's going to freeze my bullets I'm going to stop hers from firing. Break the crystals! - [ ] Hammer - [ ] Powers
[X] If she's going to freeze my bullets I'm going to stop hers from firing. Break the crystals! - [X] Hammer
I don't know all the rules, but if she's allowed to freeze my bullets in place instead of dodging them, then I should be allowed to break the sources of her bullets. There are two large crystals on either side of Cirno, and I can already see her creating more, so I pick the one on the left randomly and rush towards it, steering myself around the incoming ice.
Decisiveness under pressure isn't really one of my strongest points usually, that among other things is probably why I'm not in charge, but I'm pretty proud of how quickly I pick a course of action here. I would probably be more proud if I wasn't so focused on avoiding the waves and waves of icicles, but still, there's some pride in there at least. Probably hiding somewhere between all the shout out something dramatic as I do this.
I can't think of anything cool to say though. It's probably better just to stay focused instead.
The icicles are coming out in waves, so there's a few seconds of rest after I pass by the next volley. That's enough time to close the distance. I let my hammer trail behind me all the way there, only pulling it up to strike. I swing sideways with my hips, trying to let the momentum of my flight continue through my hammer as I come to a sudden stop in front of the crystal.
The head of my hammer smashes against the crystal with a dull thud and a cracking noise, and I feel the shock of the impact surge through my arms. This might not have been the best idea in hindsight. I don't know how hollow these things are, if they're completely solid, they may take quite a few hits to break. When I pull back a bit though, I can clearly see several large cracks from where I hit it, so some kind of progress was made. The only issue is that the crystal is still firing, and the wave is coming back around toward me.
I fly upwards, circling around the crystal in an orbit perpendicular to the way the waves of icicles are firing. I'm upside down by the time I get to the other side of the crystal, but ignore any disorientation and swing my weapon again.
I feel the ice give way and shatter as the second hit creates cracks that combine with the first ones. The crystal doesn't break completely, but after my second swing, it stops firing out any icicles.
That's the plan then. I don't know exactly how many hits it will take for the other crystal, or how much more there is to this spell card, but I do know that I can break the sources of the bullets. I hope that's enough to get through.
My arms are throbbing by the time the duel is over, and I don't even feel that great about how things went. As I was breaking the second crystal, Cirno created two more, but put them closer together and made them fire faster. I mistimed one of my dodges while moving around and ended up getting hit once. When I had broken the fourth crystal, the duel ended 2-2. A tie.
In the end, where there normally would have been an explosion from the loser of the duel, there was instead an explosion of enthusiasm from my opponent. Cirno immediately rushed over to me and started talking excitedly. "You looked so cool!"
"Uh... Thanks." I say somewhat awkwardly, still trying to catch my breath. I don't think I've ever flown that fast while having to swing my hammer around so hard. It was quite a workout.
"I can totally see why Dai said you were scary if you charged at her like that! Not that I'd be scared, of course." Cirno continues on. "You're great though! You just zoom around smashing everything that you don't like! You're just like 'It's too cold. Nuts to that, HAMMER TIME' and then WHACK!"
I take a deep breath as I try to parse what Cirno is ranting about. I don't think I was that impressive. If anything I was clumsy enough to get hit again. I could have done better. She seems happy about the outcome though, so I guess that works out.
"So, we tied," I interrupt Cirno, who's still talking on about the duel. "Are you satisfied with that?" I hope she is, I don't have any more spell cards. Honestly, I've realized that I don't have enough cards, and the ones that I have are probably a bit too easy to dodge. I need to make some more. The only problem is finding the time to develop and practice new bullet patters when I already have so many other things going on. I'm not sure how easy it will be to pull off, but it might be worth looking into later.
Cirno nods enthusiastically. "I was going easy on you of course, but you turned out to be pretty tough anyway. You guys helped Dai out too, so I'll definitely let you guys be my friends!" She said happily, holding out her hand.
I grab her hand and try to give as firm a handshake as I can despite the soreness in my arm. I don't know how much this random fairy's friendship is worth, but I guess it's better than her disliking us. I feel like I've learned a few things from this as well.
The first thing that I can think of is that I definitely need to be more aware of my surroundings during combat. I can't always rely on Yuzuki being around to keep track of things. The whole unit has probably gotten a bit too used to using her as our own multi-purpose sensor that would notice everything that we would miss. Having to have Yuzuki around limits our ability to split up effectively. We might be a unit, but sticking together as five all the time would just be inefficient.
Another point that I found is that my instincts actually aren't that bad. My plan worked fine, I only got hit due to an unrelated mistake in dodging. I guess that if the crystals had been harder, it wouldn't have worked as well, but it was probably better to decide on a plan and execute it than to second guess myself and do nothing. That's a bit of a confidence booster, even if I didn't actually win.
When we go back down to camp I notice that our audience apparently expanded to include the rest of the rabbits in our unit (minus Sumi) at some point. Cirno quickly starts relaying the fight to Daiyousei, who seems happy to listen to Cirno's story even though she had been watching the whole thing. Yuzuki and Chiyo greet me normally when I land, while Ringo immediately pats me hard on the back and congratulates me. "Smash them up! Just how I woulda done it!" She laughs, and I can't help but smile at that as well.
We have a couple extra seats at the table, so the fairies join us for breakfast. Apparently fairies can eat, but they don't really have to and they don't eat nearly as much as a full sized youkai. That works out fine for us, since it means we use less of our food supply. During the meal, Ringo leads the conversation, and I can tell she's trying to be friendly while also trying to see if she can get any useful information out of Cirno.
According to Cirno, she's seen all kinds of youkai around, and a lot of them are "big jerks". She apparently has a few friends among the weaker youkai, but a lot of the stronger ones don't want anything to do with her. She tells us about things like her friend Mystia's food stand, how she's making friends with the mermaid that lives in the lake who has a lot of other friends, or how the gate guard at the mansion by the lake will sometimes do tai chi stuff with her on boring days. She doesn't say anything about rabbits though, so there's not much information gained on that front.
We spend some time taking it easy, which I feel a bit guilty about, until mid morning. I kind of want to get to work, but I'm not sure exactly how to tell the fairies that we want to get to work without seeming like I'm chasing them off though. I'm worrying about it a bit, but eventually Chiyo saves the day.
"What time is it?" She asks Ringo suddenly. It's a perfectly innocuous question, and one that shouldn't be at all surprising coming from Chiyo. It calls attention to the time to Ringo though, and she seems to get the hint.
"A couple hours before noon still," Ringo says while pretending to struggle to win an arm wrestling contest against Cirno. After slowly forcing Cirno's hand to the table, she dramatically shakes her arm out as if it's tired, then talks. "Sorry Cirno, but we kind have stuff we need to do. Can we call it here for today?"
Cirno's looking down at her arm like it betrayed her, apparently pretty displeased at her loss. "Okay..." She agrees reluctantly before going back to her normal confident tone. "But you guys have to come to me if you have any trouble! We're friends now, and you live in my territory, so I'll help you out if you guys need it!"
"Sure, sure, and I'll come hang out with you guys some time even if we don't need help, okay?" Ringo says happily. That seems to satisfy Cirno. I don't know when we'll have time for Ringo to keep that promise though.
We say our goodbyes to Cirno and Daiyousei, and are left with just us rabbits. We can get down to business for today.
Let's focus on... [ ] Finding Sumi - [ ] (Specify where to search) [ ] Getting the drone back from the kappa [ ] Finding the earth rabbits that Aya mentioned yesterday [ ] Wander somewhere else to find more information - [ ] (Specify location)
And for people I want to come with me... (Vote for any number you want, the highest will be guaranteed, while the others will decide what they want to do on their own, whether that means coming with you or doing something else.) [ ] Ringo [ ] Yuzuki [ ] Chiyo [ ] I'll go by myself
(And if anyone was curious, there were win options, there were lose options, and there were draw options for this duel which I decided on before voting. You picked the one that Cirno liked the most for whatever that's worth, even though it ended as a draw.)
Once the fairies have left, our unit gathers around the table like usual. Well, we were pretty much gathered already, but now we know that it's time for business instead of fairy play time. We need to get things done today, and I already know what I want to do.
It's been around two days since we were discovered and everything got messed up. In those two days, we haven't seen Sumi at all. I'd like to be optimistic about the situation. It's actually not that unusual for Sumi to go missing without anybody knowing what she's doing. It could just be her acting on her own here, but even thinking that doesn't really make me believe it. She's never gone for this long. She also told Ringo she was going to find me when she left, so either she's been searching for me for two days without coming back to camp, or something is keeping her out there.
"So then," Ringo starts but immediately pauses to eat a dango. "... What do you guys think about today? I have a couple ideas of stuff I want to look into, but I think there's still one issue in particular that we have to clear up."
"Sumi." Chiyo and I say at the same time. We look at each other and she motions for me to go on, so I continue. "She left to look for me after I was attacked, so that means she must have gone up the mountain."
"There's a lot of mountain to go up though." Chiyo adds after I finish.
"Yeah, that's the big issue. Somehow she and Seiran missed each other when Seiran came back to camp," Ringo says, trying to look thoughtful with a stick of dango still in her mouth. "I also went out later that evening in the same direction she probably took but didn't find anything, though I kinda got sidetracked checking out the situation with the drone and the kappa."
"I'm here now, maybe that would help in finding her." Yuzuki offers.
"I don't think it's an issue of not searching hard enough. Yuzuki's pretty self sufficient, but she's still gotta come back to eat eventually." Ringo answers. "The only reason she'd still be out there after this long is that she can't make it back here. We need to check out why that is."
I raise my hand slightly and speak. "I think we should try the Moriya shrine." Ringo and Yuzuki perk up a little at my suggestion, seeming surprised or at least interested. Everybody here knows about the Moriya shrine from our previous information gathering.
Ringo taps the skewer that used to have dango on it against the table a couple of times. "Go on." She prompts me.
"Well, when I met Hina for the first time she mentioned that the Moriyas would usually take part in dealing with any dangerous youkai incident on the mountain. They would probably have the most information about what happens on the mountain. They might know something." I explain my thought process.
"Hm... Even if they don't know anything about her, they might know about whatever is keeping her out there." Ringo says, mostly thinking to herself. "Yeah, worth a shot. You can check that out today then." She says to me.
"I'll go as well." Yuzuki suddenly volunteers. I'm pretty okay with that. I would have asked her to come if she hadn't volunteered like that.
"Sure, that works. What about you Chiyo?" Ringo asks Chiyo.
Chiyo thinks about it for a moment before shrugging. "I guess I'll go too."
Ringo smiles and gets up from her chair. "Alright, that works for me. You three go out and check that shrine, I'll figure out something else productive to do. Radio me if you guys find anything or if you finish up and decide to go somewhere else."
I'm a little worried about Ringo's idea of productive given what happened yesterday. I guess it was productive in that it got us food, but it didn't get us any closer to solving any of our other issues. I decide not to say anything though. I think I can still trust Ringo to get things done. She is in charge after all.
I make sure that I have a radio, and Chiyo does as well, just in case. It's probably better to have more than one. I've really been missing just being able to communicate with everyone telepathically though. It wasn't a perfect system, but at least it didn't require equipment and all of us were connected to it. It's been pretty strange to not be able to just listen to random chatter and rumors going over the comms whenever I want. When I think about comms not working, it really makes me wonder how everyone back home is doing. I didn't have many friends outside our unit, but it still feels weird to be so cut off from them like this.
After we're all equipped and ready to go, Ringo wishes us luck and we fly off. I know it won't be too hard for us to find the Moriya shrine, since we just have to find the main path up the mountain and follow it up. We don't even need Yuzuki's power for that. Not that she can turn it off.
As we're flying, Yuzuki takes a moment to talk to me. "You didn't have to move on that last pattern." She says out of nowhere.
"What?" I'm surprised. Not because she's talking to me, but more because she didn't give me any context for what she's saying first.
"Against Cirno," She clarifies. "Her last card was in a repeated, unchanging pattern. If you had stayed still in a safe spot, all of the icicles would have missed you."
I'm not sure why she's bringing it back up, but I guess it's just a Yuzuki thing. Maybe my missing an obvious pattern bothered her, though it's not like I can notice those things like she can. It at least made her feel like she had to point it out. I'm not really upset about her talking about it, but I think things worked out well with what I chose. I hadn't even really thought about how I would have dodged it at the time, I just picked a plan and went with it. Even if I had wanted to dodge though, I probably wouldn't have been able to find a safe spot and stay perfectly still in it anyway. I give Yuzuki a simple answer of "Noted." and leave it alone. She does too, so I guess she wasn't that bothered by it.
The flight is uneventful after that, and we get near our destination without any trouble. We land a bit away from the Moriya shrine, deciding to walk the rest of the way on foot. They have a great big wooden torii as their entrance, so I assume they'd rather have people not just drop in from the sky in any random spot. There's probably a procedure for shrine visits, not that I would know about that.
We walk through the entrance toward the shrine. I can't help but feel this is a little intimidating compared to Hina's. I don't have much knowledge about religious things, so I can think of two different possibilities for the Moriya shrine. Either this size of a shrine is normal and Hina's in a worse situation than I thought, or this shrine is really well off and Hina is more normal. I'm leaning toward the former though, just because it looks like people would actually be able to live in a shrine this size.
There's a green haired shrine maiden sweeping some of the newly fallen leaves off the path ahead. She's facing away from us, swaying slightly as she hums to herself. I guess she's in a good mood. That's probably a good sign for us.
I had been thinking about how to frame my questions to match up with our cover story on the flight over here, so I feel pretty prepared now. I probably won't mess this up. Hopefully. I walk a bit ahead of the other rabbits (who seem perfectly happy to let me handle this even though I am not good at conversations), and call out to the girl. "Excuse me."
The girl quickly turns around and almost immediately bows in greeting. "Welcome to the Moriya shrine!" She says happily once she finishes her bow. "My name is Sanae, and I'm the shrine maiden here, and you're... Youkai rabbits?" She asks, as if we could be anything else with these big ears.
That introduction was simple enough, I can go right into the questions. "Yeah we are. I'm Seiran. We came to..."
"Oh wow! We've almost never had a rabbit visit us before! Thank you very much for coming!" She cuts me off, though I can't get mad with how enthusiastic and friendly she's being.
"Right umm..." Being interrupted did kind of throw me off there still. "We came to see if you'd heard anything about our friend Sumi," Just judging by what she's already said I think the answer is probably no, but I've already thought of what I wanted to say. I should just say it. "She's another rabbit who went missing in the area two days ago when we had to leave our old home."
"She's got short green hair and wears camo patterns all the time," Chiyo adds. I didn't think to go into detail like that, but okay.
Sanae thinks about it for a second. "No, I haven't seen anybody like that," I'm pretty disappointed, but I guess if Sumi had been keeping a low profile there's no real way that some human shrine maiden girl would have found out about her. "Why did you have to leave your home?"
Okay, I was ready for this one. "Well we were living on the mountain, but there was some weird mechanical thing walking around that destroyed our home. We got out in time, but our friend went missing during the move." I explain, going off of what Ringo told Aya while adding on the part about Sumi.
Sanae's eyes widen at my answer. "Oh no! I'm really sorry!" She apologizes for some reason, bowing again, though more deeply this time. "I didn't know anyone was living in that area! I was going to go do something about about the spider thing earlier, but Reimu said that I should leave it alone! I'm really sorry!"
Okay I wasn't expecting that. I guess I could have acted more upset, considering my pretend home was destroyed. I'm not that great of an actor though. "No it's uh... It's okay." I'm not sure what to do about this one.
"I'm really sorry. I should have resolved the incident as soon as I knew about it," Sanae says, finally coming back up from her bow. "I'll definitely be on the lookout for your friend, and if you need anything, let me know. I'll try to help as much as I can!"
Well, she clearly wants to help now, so that's good, but I feel kinda bad lying about things when she's so apologetic. I don't really like manipulating people. "Uh, no it's fine," I awkwardly try to assure her. "Just as long as you tell her we're looking for her if you see her um..." Oh there's a problem. Even if this shrine maiden is willing to help us, there isn't really any way for her to get in contact with us if she doesn't know where our base is.
While I'm thinking about things, Yuzuki interrupts. "There is one other thing I wanted to ask about." She says suddenly. "It's not about Sumi though."
"Ah!" Sanae looks a little surprised at Yuzuki suddenly entering the conversation after it had been almost entirely me talking. "Sure, what is it? If the Moriya shrine can help with it, I'll do my best!"
"Why..." Yuzuki starts but pauses, seeming to compose herself before launching into a bunch of questions. "Why is this place so big? Why do you deserve this? Why does Hina get a shack in the woods that you don't even let her visit if you have all this?"
"Wh-What?!" Sanae is surprised at Yuzuki suddenly becoming hostile.
"You still kinda feel like a god, but you don't even seem like half the god that Hina is! You feel like a god, but you also feel like a normal human! You're even doing menial shrine maiden work! Why do you get all this?!" Yuzuki continues hostilely.
I don't remember ever seeing Yuzuki like this before. I've known her for a long time too. I've seen her get upset, sure, but this is just weird.
[ ] Calm Yuzuki down [ ] Let her keep going
(As an aside, the next week or two might be a bit rough for me. End of semester stuff and graduating from college. I'll try to keep my schedule still, but no promises.)
I kind of understand the reason why she's upset, but this is a pretty bad time to show it honestly. Sanae was totally open to helping us. Yelling at her about Hina's situation seems like a good way to make that not the case any more. I need to calm things down before Yuzuki causes a problem.
"And you're not even doing a good job of sweeping this place! You misse-mmph!" I put my hand over Yuzuki's mouth before she can finish ranting. I don't like forcing her to shut up, but it's all I can think to do to make her stop. The part of her face that isn't covered by my hand looks surprised that I stopped her. Maybe she didn't realize how hard she was going.
"Uh, sorry about this!" I say to Sanae hurriedly. "She's um..." I'm not sure how to excuse Yuzuki's outburst.
"She's been stressed out after we got forced away from home," Chiyo immediately picks up where I left off, stepping up to Yuzuki's other side and putting a hand on her shoulder. "We met with Hina shortly after that and Yuzuki's been using her as a way to support herself. She still sometimes gets upset with things though. Sorry."
I'd be pretty surprised at how quickly Chiyo thought up that excuse if it had been anybody else, but it's Chiyo. When she's in the right frame of mind she can think of things extremely quickly. I don't know if it's actually from her power or not, but it doesn't really matter. Either way it was a reasonable excuse that I wouldn't have thought up that quickly.
"I'll take her for a time out," Chiyo says quietly to me, pulling lightly on Yuzuki's shoulder to lead her away. "Don't worry about it, just try to smooth things over."
"Uh... Right." I don't know why people keep leaving these kinds of things to me. I don't argue as Chiyo leads Yuzuki off to the side though, so I guess that's kind of my fault.
When I turn back to her, Sanae is looking at me somewhat awkwardly. I quickly bow my head. "I'm sorry!" I say, hearing her do the same. I look up and, yup, she also bowed and apologized.
"I really didn't know anybody was living in that area. I would have stopped it much sooner if I had. It looks like you were really troubled by it." She explains again. I feel even more guilty now. I'm not good at lying to people and manipulating them.
I try to get things back to the reason why we came here. "It's um... I think we'll feel a lot better after we find our friend." I'm not exactly lying by saying it either.
"Yeah, I can understand that," Sanae seems a bit relieved that at least I'm not upset with her like Yuzuki was. "I'd like to do something to help, but I'm not sure... Actually, if you can wait a moment, I could ask Lady Kanako if she could do anything. She might have some ideas about how to help." She suggests.
I don't really know who Lady Kanako is, but I guess she's the goddess here. Sanae just seems like a normal human to me, not that I have any experience with those. "Sure I guess." I say. It probably couldn't hurt any more than talking to Sanae.
Sanae nods enthusiastically. "Okay! I'll go talk to her, just a moment!" She says before turning and hurrying up the steps to the shrine.
When Sanae leaves, I decide to walk off the path, to where Chiyo took Yuzuki.
I reach the two of them, and can already tell that Yuzuki has calmed down. She looks a little sheepish as she apologizes. "Sorry, I lost control." That doesn't really feel like enough of an explanation. We talked about this last night, so I know she finds goddesses really amazing for reasons that I can't really experience, but I don't think that excuses her causing problems for us. I don't know how to bring this up with her though. I don't really want to drag things out into an argument. Instead I decide to let it go for now, as long as she's calmed down.
I decide to stay on target with our information gathering and Sumi finding objectives. "Sanae is still willing to help us. She went inside to get someone who might be able to help us even more. Are you okay now? Do you need some more time?" Usually when I freak out about stuff I need to have time to calm down. I don't have a problem with offering the same thing to Yuzuki. If the pattern holds, I'm going to have to do most of the talking anyway.
Yuzuki has a complicated expression on her face as she looks around at the grounds of the shrine for a moment. "I still don't like this," She says reluctantly. "I can keep quiet about it though. Finding Sumi is more important."
"Don't worry, I'm sure Hina will still love you." Chiyo says dryly.
"Chiyo! It's not like that!" Yuzuki protests loudly. I can't help but smirk at that.
A couple of minutes later, Sanae comes back over to the three of us. "She wants to talk to you directly, is that okay?" She asks, cautiously glancing at Yuzuki.
"Yeah, that's fine." I assure her. I don't think Yuzuki was that intimidating, but then I guess I've known her for years while Sanae just met her today. It must have been a bad first impression.
Sanae motions for us to follow her. "Come this way then." She says, leading us toward the shrine. As we stop at the foot of the stairs, a woman comes out from the interior of the shrine.
Of all the people that we've met so far, this is the first one that I can look at and immediately identify as a goddess. She's tall, and carries herself with obvious confidence and grace. She has fine clothes, and fancy accessories of a small mirror on her chest and a big rope... circle thing.
"Good morning, I am Lady Kanako Yasaka, goddess of the wind and rain, and deity of the Moriya shrine." She begins, speaking clearly with an air of superiority that I can't really say she doesn't deserve.
"I'm uh, Seiran." I say, feeling completely outclassed in introduction. I really need a better title, but I can't use my lunarian military rank. Not that that would sound cool either. "These are my friends Yuzuki and Chiyo."
Kanako looks us over, and I can't help but feel like I'm being judged. After a moment, she speaks again. "I heard your story from Sanae. However I wasn't aware that there were rabbit youkai living on the mountain."
"Well, we kept to ourselves most of the time." I explain, trying to stay vague intentionally. I don't know if a goddess of the mountain would have any way to catch the lie, but I hope not.
"Hm," She looks over us again before continuing. "Very well. Sanae has asked me to assist you in finding your friend, and I'm willing to do so. I have many contacts with the larger youkai groups of the mountain, and can ask them for information and perhaps assistance. I may even be able to convince the Tengu to run a search of the area, depending on how generous they're feeling."
That actually sounds really promising, though that might just be because it's an obviously competent goddess saying it. "What do we have to do then?" Chiyo asks.
Kanako looks over at Chiyo. "Nothing in particular. I only ask that you forgive Sanae for not acting immediately." She answers calmly.
"We can do that, right Yuzuki?" Considering that we're not actually upset with Sanae for the reasons she thinks we are, it shouldn't be hard.
Yuzuki nods. She seems to be staring at Kanako, though maybe she's a bit more used to goddesses now, since she doesn't seem to be as amazed as she was when she first saw Hina.
"Very well then. There is one other thing I suppose," Kanako says. "If you had to flee your home because of the mechanical spider, it must have been pretty close to you at the time. I happen to have a large interest in new technologies and have never heard of anything like that in Gensokyo. If you have any information about that machine, I would love to hear it."
She's intimidating, and I'm not sure if she has an ulterior motive here, but it still might be worth saying something. If I tell her some not too incriminating things about the drone, it would probably make her more invested in helping us. She's not demanding anything though, so I could also just say that I don't know anything. On the other hand, it might be better to just not ask for help at all. The fewer contacts we have with Earthlings, the less chance we have of getting caught in a lie.
[ ] Ask Kanako for help, give her some information (which does not implicate you) about the drone [ ] Ask Kanako for help, tell her you don't know anything about the drone [ ] Decline help, we should search on our own
Also... [ ] Let Yuzuki talk to Kanako about Hina [ ] Now is not the time
Afterwards... [ ] Go somewhere else to look for Sumi - [ ] (Where?) [ ] Focus on getting the drone back from the kappa [ ] Focus on finding the earth rabbits that Aya mentioned yesterday [ ] Call Ringo and try to meet up with her (wherever she went) [ ] Wander somewhere else to find more information - [ ] (Specify location)
[X] Ask Kanako for help, give her some information (which does not implicate you) about the drone [X] Let Yuzuki talk to Kanako about Hina [X] Focus on finding the earth rabbits that Aya mentioned yesterday
[X] Ask Kanako for help, give her some information (which does not implicate you) about the drone [X] Let Yuzuki talk to Kanako about Hina [X] Go somewhere else to look for Sumi - [X] Look for caves near the base of the mountain.
I suspect there might be Undergound access somewhere around there, and Sumi getting lost there seems like a possibility.
[X] Ask Kanako for help, give her some information (which does not implicate you) about the drone [X] Let Yuzuki talk to Kanako about Hina [X] Focus on finding the earth rabbits that Aya mentioned yesterday
[X] Ask Kanako for help, give her some information (which does not implicate you) about the drone
"(which does not implicate you)" might be tricky, but we can limit it to things a calmly evacuatingnot panicking not panicking not panicking rabbit might have seen.
[X] Ask Kanako about Hina on Yuzuki's behalf - [X] If she asks why we want to know: "Yuzuki here has a crush on her and was curious. She gets a bit... passionate about it, though, so I thought it'd be better for me to ask." - - [X] Weather Yuzuki's outrage placidly (better hers than Kanako's)
I honestly don't think it's just a crush, but it's funny and I'm nosy.
[X] Go somewhere else to look for Sumi - [X] Look for caves near the base of the mountain.
>>26606's reasoning is plausible. Also, earth rabbits are tied with Eientei for "group most likely to poke holes in our story".
Asking for help and checking out caves are winning their votes, but "Let Yuzuki talk to Kanako about Hina" and "Ask about Hina Yourself" are tied, so if somebody could break that one that would be great.
[x] Ask Kanako about Hina on Yuzuki's behalf - [x] If she asks why we want to know: "Yuzuki here has a crush on her and was curious. She gets a bit... passionate about it, though, so I thought it'd be better for me to ask."
[x] Ask Kanako about Hina on Yuzuki's behalf - [x] If she asks why we want to know: "Yuzuki here has a crush on her and was curious. She gets a bit... passionate about it, though, so I thought it'd be better for me to ask."
There, now the opposition will have to try harder.
[X] Ask Kanako for help, give her some information (which does not implicate you) about the drone [X] Ask Kanako about Hina on Yuzuki's behalf - [X] If she asks why we want to know: "Yuzuki here has a crush on her and was curious. She gets a bit... passionate about it, though, so I thought it'd be better for me to ask." [X] Go somewhere else to look for Sumi - [X] Look for caves near the base of the mountain.
I turn my head towards Chiyo, who catches my look and nods to me. By the time I turn to Yuzuki, she's also noticed my request for approval. Yuzuki also nods, though she looks a bit less decisive while doing it. I guess that's that then. I'll try to be cooperative here, but also try to make sure that I'm not giving too much away.
"We don't know a whole lot," I start somewhat slowly. I have to be careful about what I'm saying. To start off with though, I can probably just go with what Ringo told Aya. "It's not too big, maybe like the size of a person. It's big enough that somebody could probably ride on top of it though. I don't know what kind of metal it's made of because we never got close to it. From what we could tell, it was doing something weird where it was kind of sucking something out of the plants around it which made them die somehow."
Kanako listens intently the whole time that I talk, only asking a question once it seems that I've run out of things to say. "I see, is there anything else?" She asks.
I don't think I need to say anything else. I've already covered everything that an uninvolved youkai would probably know when they had to evacuate. She can't expect all that much out of me. "No, not really. I don't know very much about machines, so that's all."
Kanako thinks for a moment. "Very well. I had assumed that it was just the kappa testing one of their projects in an uninhabited area, however if it's actively destroying the homes of other youkai, someone needs to be held responsible. There are very few individuals who could cause this, so I will be able to investigate that while also attempting to locate your friend," She says authoritatively. "Thank you for bringing the matter to my attention. Do you need anything else?"
I look over at Yuzuki again, who notices me looking at her and gives me a hopeful expression back. I know full well what she wants to bring up, but unfortunately it's probably still better for me to handle it rather than her. I don't like having to do all the talking, but given how the issue made Yuzuki start yelling earlier, I think I have to.
"There is one other thing we were curious about," I begin carefully. We are asking for help here, I don't want to be too accusatory. "We wanted to ask about Hina Kagiyama."
"Miss Kagiyama?" Kanako looks a little surprised at the subject change, but recovers fairly quickly. "Yes, she's another goddess that lives further down the mountain. Did you have some issue with her?"
"Well, we met with her a couple of times while we were trying to find another place to settle down," I clarify.
"And Yuzuki started crushing on her." Chiyo adds on suddenly.
"Right," I agree quickly, partially to mask Yuzuki's protest but mostly just because it's an easy avenue for teasing her. We don't get to do that with Yuzuki most of the time. Kanako raises an eyebrow at this, but I keep going. "Yuzuki got a bit too... Passionate about it when she was talking to Sanae, so I thought it'd be better for me to ask about her. Hina seemed like a nice lady when we visited her shrine, but we couldn't help but notice how... Tiny it is compared to here."
"And that you weren't allowing her to stay there very much. Isn't that kind of unfair to Hina?" Yuzuki asks, a bit less delicately than I would have liked, but I can't exactly stop her from talking. She might be a little irritated about the crush thing as well.
Kanako thinks for a moment before answering. "Hm, I understand your concern, but did you actually ask miss Kagiyama for her feelings on this?" She asks us.
"Uh, well, not exactly." I answer awkwardly. Hina left kind of quickly when we visited her after all. We didn't get to ask all that much.
Kanako nods, "You have to understand, miss Kagiyama's shrine was a joint agreement between us, even though she is not technically a part of the Moriya shrine. I recognized that her blessings could be desirable for travellers making their way up the mountain, while she recognized that having a shrine in such a high traffic area would be beneficial to her own gathering of faith. It's natural that we would work together with these circumstances." She explains, taking a businesslike tone.
"But if she's not allowed to be there and her name isn't on it then how is that even going to help people have faith in her?" I ask. I don't know the specifics of how faith gathering for gods works, but I would think people would have to know who she was to have faith in her.
Kanako folds her arms in front of her and begins slowly pacing as she explains herself. "It will help her because name recognition is not beneficial to her at this time. Humans are wary of her and her misfortune gathering abilities. Enough so that they ignore the good that she can do for them and make speaking about her something of a taboo. If the shrine was linked directly to her right now, people would go out of their way to avoid being anywhere near it. That would get her nothing and hurt us at the same time." She pauses after that, but before I can think of how to respond, she continues.
"The plan we have currently is intended to play the long game here. That shrine's deity will be unnamed for now. We will only gradually introduce the idea of it being a separate goddess from the Moriyas after people are used to using it, which will allow miss Kagiyama to gather more faith than she has now. After that, we can move forward on to reveal the goddess behind the shrine, but only when we know that making such a move is wise."
"But it still seems unfair that you're forcing her to be a visitor to her own shrine," Yuzuki interrupts, She sounds a little bit weak, like even she doesn't think this argument is going to work well. Kanako is clearly more prepared here.
"The shrine is a mutually beneficial deal that both miss Kagiyama and myself agreed to," Kanako answers sternly. "A deal that benefits her more, I will mention. It may be less than ideal at this time, but miss Kagiyama knows that having a shrine that people use is strictly better than not having one. Things will only continue to get better for her once the tramway is built as well. This is simply a situation that will take time to play out fully. If you have any suggestions that might improve things, I am willing to take them into consideration." When she finishes, Kanako finally stops pacing, instead facing us and looking at each of us in turn again.
I'm not sure if I have anything to say here. It is true that we don't know all the specifics about how Hina gets faith, so arguing against Kanako's understanding of the situation might not work out all that well. When I glance at Yuzuki again, she still doesn't look happy, but she doesn't volunteer any suggestions either. "Uh, no, I think that's okay," I say somewhat awkwardly. "We just didn't understand the situation."
Kanako nods. "Very well. I appreciate the concern, and I'm sure miss Kagiyama does as well," I hear Yuzuki make a small noise in annoyance at Kanako ending the discussion, but she doesn't actually say anything. "Was there anything else?"
I look over at Chiyo, who just shrugs at me, while Yuzuki doesn't respond much at all. "Yeah," I answer. "I guess that's it. Thank you for your help."
"Very good then," Kanako says, apparently happy to move on from the topic of Hina. "How should we contact you in the event that we find any information on your missing friend?" She asks. I had actually thought about this question.
"We're still looking for a place to settle down, so that might be tough. We're camping out right now, but we might not be in the same place later," I lie. We aren't really planning on moving camp as far as I know, but I don't want to say that. Instead I want to keep the focus off of us and what we're doing. "Could we just come back here in a couple of days instead?"
Kanako doesn't look too happy about my answer, but allows it. "I can't guarantee any results in that time, but I suppose it's fine. Come back here the day after tomorrow and I'll let you know if any progress is made," She says.
"That sounds good then. Thank you very much for your help." I say, bowing slightly.
"I will be leaving soon then," Kanako says, moving back towards the shrine. "Sanae, if Suwako comes back, let her know where I've gone."
I guess that ends the negotiation.
We say some awkward goodbyes to Sanae and leave the Moriya shrine. I try to guess the time based on the sun, but I'm not that great at it yet. I'd say it's somewhere around noon though. Maybe a bit after.
"I was thinking about it," Chiyo says out of nowhere as we slowly fly upwards. We haven't decided where we're going, so we're not in a hurry to get there yet. "You know there's an entrance to a big cave system further down the other side of the mountain. Maybe we should check if Sumi went down there."
I remember Chiyo having mentioned that at some point in the past. It's one of the various things that we came across while gathering information but never followed up on. "Why would she have gone down there?" I ask. I can't really think of a specific reason.
"It's Sumi." Chiyo answers plainly.
"Ah..." I can't really argue that very well. Compared to a normal rabbit Sumi is somewhat more... I guess adventurous would be a nice word. I don't know if she would have gotten an urge to explore underground caves a couple of days ago, but it is possible she's lost down there. Aside from that, if Kanako is going to be checking with her contacts, it might be better for us to check on leads that she wouldn't have any reason to look at. Going underground fits the bill, and could actually lead to finding her. "Okay, I guess we could give that a shot."
It's not too hard to find the caves that Chiyo's talking about, although the area that they're in is a bit unpleasant. There seems to be some kind of volcanic activity happening all over the place, with a ton of holes or cracks in the ground leading down. I do notice some hot springs around though, which I make a note of. I've never been to one of those before.
Once we pick a random cave and go to its entrance though, we quickly realize a problem. "I don't suppose anybody brought night vision goggles?" I ask, Sumi and Yuzuki both shake their heads. Didn't think so.
Rabbits don't have very good night vision normally. We're pretty good at low light levels, but when you're talking about a pitch black cave, we usually want to get some help in order to see things. Most of us anyway. Sumi and Yuzuki can get around it with their powers, but Ringo, Chiyo, and I would normally need some kind of assistance. Unfortunately, all of the assistance we could use is back at camp, and it would take time to go get it.
"Well, if you guys are okay with it, I could lead us," Yuzuki volunteers. "I'm going to be using my powers a lot to look for Sumi down there anyway."
"So then why would you even need us?" Chiyo asks. I guess she kind of has a point. If we're only relying on Yuzuki's powers to find our way, then Chiyo and I aren't going to do much good.
[ ] Go back to base and get night vision goggles [ ] Go back to base and get simple light sources [ ] Let Yuzuki lead the way, everybody goes underground [ ] Let Yuzuki go by herself, Chiyo and I can do something else instead - [ ] (Specify what Seiran and Chiyo will do)
We can't use the night vision goggles because we are still trying to act like normal Earth rabbits. Something as hi-tech as night vision goggles would make it blatantly obvious that we are from the moon. We also can't go underground without a light source because Seiran and Chiyo would just slow Yuzuki down, and sending Yuzuki down alone is just begging for her to go missing again.
"She might not end up needing us, but I think we should do the cautious thing here and come along anyway. We don't know what she might run into if she goes by herself. Any random youkai could be down there using the caves as free shelter, so sending Yuzuki alone is too dangerous." I decide out loud after considering Chiyo's question.
"Well we won't be much help if we're just going off of her powers." Chiyo says, walking slightly into the mouth of the cave and looking around. The only light she has available is what little is coming from the cloudy sky.
Here's the unfortunate part of my decision. "We'll have to go back to camp," I say somewhat reluctantly. "It will eat up time, but I think it's the smartest and safest option."
"Do you want me to get started in the meantime then?" Yuzuki asks, apprehensively following Chiyo, probably to make sure she doesn't go too far.
"No, I think you need to come back with us. It'll be faster if you're there, since you'll be able to find the lanterns more quickly." I answer.
Yuzuki gives me a slightly confused look. "We organized things together two days ago, you should know where things are," I try not to comment on that part. Yuzuki's organization pretty much guarantees that I absolutely don't know where specific things are. "And why would we use lanterns instead of the night vision goggles?"
"Too high tech," Chiyo says, still looking around the cave entrance.
"Yeah. It was fine when we were stealthed, but now we kind of need to be concerned about what people see us doing. We're trying to keep up an appearance of normal Gensokyo youkai, so we can't use technology that they wouldn't have access to. We should try to maintain the cover story as much as possible." I continue, since Chiyo doesn't seem interested in doing so.
Yuzuki thinks for a moment. "That seems like a bit of a waste," She says. "I don't think that any random youkai we run into down there is going to have the ability to blow our cover."
She has a point there. Assuming we even meet one, a youkai that is living in a random cave probably doesn't have contact with anyone important. It might not even matter that much in the end. I still want to be careful here though. "We've been having a lot of unplanned meetings the past couple of days. I think we should keep our story consistent here, just in case." I decide. It's a little inconvenient. The goggles, as uncomfortable as they are, would definitely be better than having to use lanterns or flashlights. I still think I've made the right call here though.
There's a short pause in the discussion. For a moment, I'm pretty sure that Yuzuki is going to bring up more points against my plan. Instead, she just gives a light sigh. "Alright fine, I guess it doesn't make much difference to me anyway," She says before turning away from me. "Let's go Chiyo."
Chiyo walks back over to us, and the three of us fly off back to camp.
Our camp is basically on the opposite side of the mountain from the caves, so it takes a bit to get all the way back. I notice that the clouds seem to be getting a bit darker. Rain seems more and more likely as time goes on. I hate camping out in the rain honestly, so tonight is probably going to be pretty miserable.
Nobody says anything the whole way back. That's pretty normal for Chiyo, but I think Yuzuki is a bit annoyed about something. I guess it could be the Hina thing still, but I think Kanako gave pretty okay reasoning for why things are the way they are. I'll have to talk to Yuzuki about it later, but for now I'm more concerned about getting work done.
After landing in camp, I take a brief moment to check that Ringo isn't still here (she's not) before we head over to the equipment tent. With the previous talk about us keeping our tech hidden, it occurs to me that we might want to think up a more stealthy hiding spot for all of these crates of lunarian military equipment. We can't lock the tent that everything is stored in, and we've already had things stolen once. I make a mental note to bring the problem up with Ringo soon, though a solution doesn't immediately come to mind.
Yuzuki finds a couple of lanterns immediately, which is much much faster than Chiyo or I would have all things considered. All three of us take one, even though Yuzuki doesn't actually need to use hers. Even if she doesn't need it, it's still a good idea to have a backup.
Chiyo somehow talks us into taking a short break to grab a snack after we've gotten our lights. During that time I notice that I need to make some more dango. Ringo's been going through them quickly I guess. It probably doesn't help that I got interrupted when I was going to make more two days ago. I know we still have ingredients at least, so that goes on the to do list as well.
After we've finished eating, it's another quiet flight back to the caves.
"So how should we do this?" Chiyo asks as she fiddles with her lantern. We're standing at the mouth of the cave, pretty much just in time too, as it seems like the rain is just starting outside. Hopefully things will clear up by the time we're done here, though I honestly have no idea how long searching this cave will take.
"I guess I'll go first," I volunteer. I'm not crazy about doing it, but I am the strongest of us three after all. "Then Chiyo, then Yuzuki, since Yuzuki doesn't need to see past us to know what's going on."
"From what I can tell this cave goes pretty far down," Yuzuki says. "I actually can't tell where it ends. It might take a while to find Sumi like this. If she's even down there."
"If it's that big, Sumi could have just gotten lost. Still worth a shot, right?" I ask hopefully. Yuzuki just shrugs. Her guess is as good as mine.
It is damp, dark, and oddly nerve racking, even with nothing much actually happening. We're cautiously slow as we make our way through the cave. The whole thing seems to be gradually twisting and turning its way downward, getting more and more steep as time goes on. I can sometimes hear the sound of running water, which I guess means there's underground rivers down here somewhere. We pause occasionally, letting Yuzuki reach as far out with her powers as possible, but she doesn't notice anything.
After maybe a half hour of exploring, I come to a stop. The path drops down sharply here, at more than a fourty-five degree angle. I'm starting to wonder how deep this cave is actually going to go. Will Yuzuki's powers even be enough to navigate us back out if we keep going like this? Would Sumi have kept going this deep just out of curiosity? I'm starting to doubt things, it's not that I'm scared, I'm just willing to fall back on this plan. "Hey Yuzu-"
"Hold on, there's something on the ceiling!" Yuzuki says suddenly. I swing my lantern around, trying to look for whatever she's noticed. I don't know exactly where in the ceiling she's talking about though. I don't get a chance to figure it out either. Before I can manage to find whatever Yuzuki sensed, I hear her shout. "DUCK!"
"OW! Oh SHIT!"
Maybe I wasn't fast enough, or maybe it wasn't the right move. I don't know. What my attempt at ducking ends up doing however is make the blow that was probably intended for my back hit my head instead. There's a small thud as I feel something wooden strike the back of my head with enough force to knock me forward. This of course has the side effect of sending me tumbling down the incline entirely too fast.
Can I just say that this hurts? Because it REALLY hurts.
I throw out my arms and legs, trying desperately to control my sudden descent. I manage to stop myself from somersaulting and slamming my head against the stone floor, but feel my limbs scrape against the ground as I continue sliding downward. I immediately lose track of my lantern, effectively blinding me as I try to swing out my hammer. I hope it will catch on something and stop me from falling further. It doesn't. Instead I suddenly feel the ground that I was sliding on disappear. I start falling straight down.
Instead of smashing against the cave ground, I quickly get caught in... Something. It's oddly sticky, but at least it stopped me from breaking my back on rocks or something. Once my head stops spinning I look around. Hey, there's my lantern! It's also caught in the... Oh good. I'm in a giant spider web. Aaand I can't get out. Great. I'm stuck. In a spider web.
You know, I probably could have prevented this if I had just started flying immediately instead of panicking.
Damn it all.
[ ] Call out for help [ ] Try to shoot your way out
Okay, I know I can't move, but at least I don't appear to be in any immediate danger from what little I can see. I landed facing upwards near the center of a web that takes up the entirety of the tunnel, so I can't see below me, and even when struggling, I can't seem to break out of the parts that I'm stuck to. I'm going to need the others to get down here and help me if I want to get out of this.
"HEY! YUZUKI! CHIYO! I'M STUCK!" I call up the cavern. I don't know how far exactly I fell, but I at least know it was far enough that I'll have to yell for them to hear me. The whole way down had been pretty disorienting, not to mention painful. I'm pretty sure that my legs are bleeding in a couple of places, but I can't move them or my head around enough to check and make sure. I definitely hurt all over though. This sucks.
There's no response after my first yell. I don't know exactly what it was that knocked me down here, though I would guess it was some kind of youkai. Maybe the others are busy trying to get that thing to leave them alone and can't respond. I still decide to try again though. "I FELL IN A SPIDER WEB OR SOMETHING DOWN HERE! I CAN'T MOVE!"
I'm kind of hoping that they hurry up a bit honestly. A spider that's big enough to make a web this size and this strength is probably pretty large itself. I don't know a lot about actual living non-drone spiders, since we don't have them on the moon, but I know that I don't exactly like the ones that I've come across on earth. Trying to imagine one that's large enough to make something like this grosses me out just thinking about it.
A minute or so later and there's still no sign of a response. "HELLOOOOOO?" I call out again. Yuzuki at least should know that I'm down here. I definitely didn't fall far enough to be out of range of her pow-EEP!
I feel hands snake their way around my shoulders as someone grabs onto me. The web I'm stuck to sags downwards slightly as weight is added to it, but I can't see whatever is causing it. "Oooh, what do we have here?" A feminine voice whispers hungrily at me. "I wasn't expecting a meal to drop down here today. What a nice surprise, I was just getting a little hungry." I can feel her breath directly on my neck. The rest of whoever this woman is is pressing up against my back.
"Ah, um!" I stammer out dumbly. What do I say here?! Am I going to get eaten!?
"You shouldn't have come down here..." The woman's voice continues, ignoring what little I actually say. I can feel bits of web wrapping around my legs and arms out of nowhere. "Didn't anybody tell you that there's only scary youkai down here? What a shame, you're such a cute girl too..." I continue to make panicked noises as I feel strands of webbing securing me in place. "Wait..."
HEY! Don't grab my tail! Shortly afterwards I feel another hand grab one of my ears. "Oh," The woman's voice says while letting go of me, her voice completely lacking the hunger and intensity it seemed to have before. "You're not a human. My bad."
It takes a moment for my brain to calm down and register what was said. "Y-your bad?"
"Eyup," The woman's voice says as she lets go of me. A moment later I see her emerge through one of the larger holes in the web a few feet away from me, somewhat close to where my lantern fell. She has blonde hair tied up in a bun with a large brown ribbon, as well as a long brown dress with a yellow ribbon wrapped around it. Even though the bottom of her dress is big and poofy, she seems to be completely immune to getting stuck in the webs when she comes into contact with them. She easily walks over the webs and squats down next to me, looking down at my face with a smile. "I mistakenly thought you were a human that wandered down here. That's happened a couple of times now, so my bad."
"A human?" I ask.
"Yeah," The woman says, casually pulling webs off my legs as she talks. I'm surprised at how easily she does it. "I put these webs here for other people's safety more than anything. It's a bit of a drop from here to the next layer of the underground, you know? Youkai usually just blow through the webs if they have business in the old capital, but humans can't, so it keeps them from falling to death. When I catch humans I usually just give them a scare for being dumb and coming down here when it's obviously dangerous for them, then I knock them out and let them wake up above ground. I thought you were a human because you didn't just shoot your way though the webs."
Oh. I guess I could have done that if I had seen the webs ahead of time. I probably still could honestly, though it might not be the best idea with how little I can see. I also could have just flown to avoid falling into them, but I was too busy panicking at the time. "I uh, didn't think to for some reason." I say. It's not really a lie I guess.
The woman continues removing webs from my legs, then suddenly stops. She lets out a small whistle. I'm assuming she can see cuts and scrapes on my legs. Actually, she did say I was cute earlier, so maybe she just likes my legs. Am I being checked out again? "Looks like you fell." She says. Okay, that clears that up I think. Probably.
"Well, yeah," I admit reluctantly. "I didn't think to do it because I was falling."
"Hm," The woman says, looking up at where I fell from. "Did you get knocked down here?"
"Yeah. Something hit me," I answer, that's probably a better excuse than just saying that I fell. "I didn't see what it was though."
"Ugh. Sorry about that," The woman says apologetically, resting her hand on my leg. It stings a bit, so there's probably a cut there, but I can't really see from the way that I'm stuck. "Kisume's a bit less civilized than most youkai you're probably used to. Well, she's normal for being underground, but yeah, probably less than you above grounder youkai. I told her to leave people alone and that I'd catch the ones that went too deep, but I guess she can't help but mess with people. It's a youkai thing, I'm sure you understand."
I don't really understand, but I'm not really a normal above ground youkai either. I'm a bit worried that this uncivilized youkai is still up there with Yuzuki and Chiyo though. "Is she dangerous?" I feel like I have to ask. Not that I can do much to help even if the answer is yes.
"Kisume, dangerous? No, not really," The woman says casually. "The most she'll really do is try to bonk you on the head and knock you down, maybe throw out a bit of danmaku, then she'll run away. She's not a fighter, she's just looking to scare people a bit."
"Oh," That's a relief at least. I'm still not sure why the others haven't come down here yet though. I'd like to get back to them as soon as possible. I'm still stuck though, so getting out of that problem kind of has to be priority number one. "So since I'm not a human, can you get me out of this web now?" I ask hopefully.
The woman gives me a wide smile and laughs a little. "Aw, what's the matter? Don't like being tied up like this? I'm pretty good at it, you know?" She says playfully.
"Uh, no I don't uhm..." I can't say I've ever had any interest in being stuck on a web in the middle of a pitch black, damp, and honestly kind of scary cave.
"Oh you're no fun. I bet you've never even tried it! It can be pretty great in the right context." The woman huffs a bit but keeps her smile. "But yeah, I can start getting you out. It'll take a bit though. Every other time I've just wrapped the person up, torn the whole web down, then cut them out of it when I get above ground. Doing this right here is a bit more of a precision job. Cutting the wrong bit at the wrong time could just swing you right into a wall or something. I don't think either of us want that, so I hope you're comfortable for now."
I'm not comfortable, especially with the vague sense that I'm being hit on, which I'm completely not used to. I don't actually have much of a choice though. "Well, is there anything I can do to help?" I ask, hoping to speed the process along.
"No, not really. Just don't move too much I guess," The woman is already looking over her web, I guess figuring out how she's going to do this. "We can at least talk though. This'll take a little while, so I'd like having conversation more than just working in silence."
Well, since I can't get out of it anyway, and she's offering to talk, I do have a few things to ask about...
Ask what you want: [ ] Ask if she's seen Sumi [ ] Ask about herself [ ] Ask if she's hitting on you - [ ] It's okay if she is - [ ] You'd rather she didn't [ ] Ask about Kisume [ ] Ask about the underground [ ] Ask if she's heard about the drone incident [ ] Ask about something else... (Write in)
(Well, I honestly don't know if the business actually lowered the quality of the last few updates, but I'm done graduating college now. Hopefully I'll have some more time now. Or maybe I won't. I dunno.)
[X] Ask if she's seen Sumi [X] Ask about herself [X] Don't ask if she's hitting on you - [X] ... because under the circumstances you're really not interested, and she might not take a "no" well [X] Ask if she's heard about the incident involving the mechanical spider - [X] Don't use the word "drone"
[X] Ask if she's seen Sumi [X] Ask about herself [X] Ask if she's hitting on you - [X] It's okay if she is
First and foremost, I guess I need to talk about business. We did come down here for a reason after all. If Sumi is deeper in this cave, then it's reasonable to expect that she would have passed through here and this woman would have seen her. Well, that's what I'm guessing anyway. I don't know exactly how this cave system is laid out. Asking is strictly better than not asking either way, so I might as well ask while I'm stuck here.
"Well I originally came down here looking for a friend. She's another rabbit like me. Has she been down here?" I ask.
The woman looks a little surprised as she begins removing the webs that are holding my arms. "No, not that I know of. You're the first person to come down here for quite a while actually. A lot of people were coming and going during the last incident, but that was a while ago. It's been pretty low traffic since then," She explains as she frees my right arm. "Why, does she have some business down here?"
I don't even know what there is below here, so Sumi wouldn't either. If she had come down here, then it would actually have been for no reason, weirdly enough. "No, I don't think so. She's just kind of... Hard to predict some times." I say. There are some days when Sumi just ends up wanting to do her own thing and refusing to do anything else. She's stubborn like that.
"Yeah, I know plenty of people like that," the woman laughs, working on my other arm. "They're all underground though. Kinda weird that someone from above ground like you would come down here without a reason. I thought a lot of you guys were still scared of the oni or the other youkai down here or whatever."
Oh okay. I've heard about Oni before, at least a little bit. I don't really know why I would be afraid of them any more than any other earth youkai though. If anything, they should be afraid of us and our technology. "Well, I'm not really scared of them, so I doubt Sumi would be." I answer.
The woman smiles widely at my response as she gets the last bits of web off my left arm. "Good to hear it!" She says happily. "Ah, try not to let your arms touch the web too much now. It might be tiring to hold them up, but you don't want to get more stuck on the stickier parts."
Given my lack of ability to move my head, I can't really tell where the sticky parts are. In fact, I didn't know that different parts would be more sticky than others. It makes some sense though, that's probably how this woman is able to move on the web so easily when I'm completely stuck. She probably knows where the sticky parts are. She might also just be immune to it for whatever reason too, I don't know how other youkai work.
It's a bit late into the conversation, but I guess I can just ask about her. She's obviously a youkai and obviously the one behind this web thing, which makes her a spider something or other. Beyond that I can't really guess though, so I might as well let her talk about herself now and get some information. "So um, I don't think you said your name yet," I say, hoping she doesn't end up being somebody that a normal earth youkai would know. "Who are you?"
The woman stands up in front of me, making sure that I can actually see her, then leans down slightly over me. "Yamame Kurodani," She says happily, holding out her hand. "I'm the underground's coolest and cutest tsuchigumo. You?"
I don't know what a tsuchigumo is, but I guess it's some kind of spider thing. Grabbing her hand and shaking is a little awkward, but I can move my arms enough to manage it. "I'm Seiran. I'm just a rabbit youkai." That lie is getting pretty easy to tell at least. Well, I would hope it would be by now, considering I don't really have anything else I could say.
Yamame smiles at my response. "I figured that one out at least. I like your tail by the way. It's like a soft little ball of poof. Most people with tails down here aren't quite as soft and fluffy."
I suppress a groan. My ears are one thing, but I really don't like it when people touch my tail. I guess it's better that she noticed those things and realized I wasn't a human though. I wouldn't like to be wrapped up and left unconscious at the mouth of the cave, especially because it's probably raining by now. "So do you just live down here, catching people and scaring them by pretending you're going to eat them?" I ask, seeing no reason to not just continue the conversation about her.
"Hm, something like that," Yamame responds playfully before hopping down through another hole in the web. After that I hear her voice continue from under me as she pulls at webs securing my head and torso. "I do live pretty close to here though. It's relatively close to above ground but not too far from the old capital either. I can do business with both while also occasionally catching and scaring a human or two. It works pretty well."
"You do some kind of business?" I ask.
"I'm an architect, designer, and construction worker all in one!" She answers triumphantly. "I build all kinds of things for all kinds of people, at least I do when they hear about me and actually come down here to talk. Lately it seems like I only get jobs up topside when I go there and look for them."
I guess that makes sense. A lot of our construction on the moon is done by machines, but they obviously wouldn't have that kind of stuff down here on Earth. "So why don't you live up there if you get more jobs there?" I ask. I'm fine with letting her talk about herself, there's not much more information that I actually need out of her after all.
"Ah well, humans don't like me too much, you know?" Yamame sounds a bit hesitant when she answers. "They probably have a bit more of a problem with me than other youkai for various reasons. It's no big deal, I'm used to it down here anyway."
Hm, Ringo seemed to think yesterday that humans would generally tolerate youkai. That's just her observations though, so I guess I shouldn't argue with somebody who is actually from here. "Oh, okay. Then why don't you live in the..." What did she call it again? "Old capital?"
"Hah! If you live down there you never get anything done. The whole place is in a perpetual state of partying that's hard not to want to get caught up in. Nah, it's probably better for me to stay here, I can go up or down whenever I need to that way. When I don't need to do either though, it's nice to have my own place where I can have some privacy just for me," she says. A moment later I feel her hand trace over the back of my neck lightly. I don't feel her pull a web off though, I'm pretty sure that spot has already been cleared. "And maybe for a cute guest too." She adds softly.
Okay, I wasn't really planning on saying anything, but that was a little too blatant. I don't want to be rude while she's helping me get free though, so I decide to approach the subject cautiously. "Don't take this badly or anything, but um, are you hitting on me?" I ask awkwardly.
"Depends, is it working?" Yamame asks back playfully before laughing. "You don't have to think too much of it if you don't want to. I normally say that the humans that I catch are cute just to freak them out a bit, but I'm definitely not just saying that with you, you know?"
"Uh, sure..." I'm really not sure how to respond to that.
"Guess I should be careful about it though. If you're not into girls or whatever, I can stop," She says. It sounds sincere, but I can't actually see her to tell if she's acting like it. "Hope you're not too bothered by me being interested though. I haven't run into many new and interesting people in a while."
"Well, I mean, I guess it's fine," I admit somewhat hesitantly. "I'm just not used to it." Fraternization in that kind of context is against the rules in the lunarian military, so I don't really have much experience in being openly flirted with. Command is pretty focused on the idea of purity in a lot of different ways, some of which us rabbits don't really like or care about. That means that there ends up being a lot of restrictions on things like romance, especially between people of the same sex. That doesn't mean that it never happens secretly of course, it's just that I'm somebody who normally follows the rules, so it's not something that's happened to me.
"Really? A girl like you doesn't get the attention you deserve?" Yamame pretends to be appalled at the thought. "That's just all kinds of wrong."
"I don't really know about deserving anything..." I say awkwardly.
"You definitely do though, you're super cute! People should be scrambling to get with you!" Yamame enthusiastically assures me.
"Ah... Hm." I fidget slightly but don't really respond with words. What do I even say to this? This is weird and I'm not used to it.
There's a bit of silence while Yamame continues to work, apparently waiting for me to respond. When it's clear that I'm not going to though, I feel a slight shift in the web underneath me. "Hey, you still doing okay there?" She asks suddenly.
"Huh? Yeah," I respond, feeling somewhat confused.
"Good," Yamame says happily. "Don't panic here, I know what I'm doing."
"Wha-" I start to question what she's talking about, but then I feel the entire web give way under me, Yamame apparently cutting enough of it off of me that it couldn't support me anymore. I was completely unprepared for it, but before I could worry about suddenly falling, I land in Yamame's arms. She catches me in a princess carry, which leaves me looking directly at the wide smile on her face.
Then I feel myself dropping again.
Despite her telling me not to, I can't help but worry a little bit when Yamame and I both start descending further down the cavern. Yamame is holding me the whole time and doesn't seem to be worried though. After a short fall and a slight swing forward, we stop again, then fall and swing again, then stop again. Okay, we're rappelling downwards. Oh, I can see a thick cord of silk that Yamame's using for it. Okay, this isn't too bad. I don't know what we're doing it for thoug-
The vertical shaft we had been descending suddenly opens up into a much larger underground cavern. There's a large waterway flowing down even further, and off in the distance I can see a bridge crossing over it, illuminated by a few small lights. Even further past that however, I can see hundreds, or more likely thousands of similar lights. There's a huge city down there. Even with the differences in architecture, something about the massive city hidden in a place that should be a lifeless and empty environment reminded me of home.
"So hey, I don't mean to be too forward, but if you want, how about we go have some fun in the city for a bit?" Yamame says suddenly. She seems to read the confusion from my face when I look back at her and continues on. "You can think of it as either me saying sorry for sticking you in a web, me saying sorry for Kisume knocking you down, me saying sorry for other people apparently not treating you as nice as you deserve, or me just giving you a nice welcome to the Underground!"
The timing here is kind of bad to be honest. We're still searching for Sumi and there's a bunch of other stuff that we need to get done as a unit. The drone is missing and our portal back to the moon is still broken. Our comms don't work and we have no way to get orders from command. My legs also still hurt and I haven't gotten a proper look at them yet. If you somehow manage to put all that aside though, it does look surprisingly pretty. I'm reminded of something that Ringo said yesterday; 'Command isn't watching, we can do what we want'. Looking down at a huge, hidden city from way above, I do kind of want to see what's there.
"Heeeeey Seiran!" I hear Chiyo's voice echoing from the top of the cavern. "Yuzuki says you're down there. You okay?"
I jump in surprise as I realize that I'm still being held up in Yamame's arms. This... Might be a little awkward.
[ ] Disengage from Yamame, thank her for the help and leave [ ] Disengage from Yamame and let the others come down to you. [ ] Stay in Yameme's arms and let the others come down to you. It's no big deal.
As for Yamame's invitation
[ ] Accept, though you'll probably need some excuse to give the other rabbits [ ] Ask if you can reschedule when you're not so busy. [ ] Decline. None of your objectives have anything to do with this city.
[X] Stay in Yamame's arms and let the others come down to you. It's no big deal. [X] Ask if you can reschedule when you're not so busy.
I think about getting out of this girl's arms before my friends come down here, but decide against it. I honestly find it kind of awkward to start flying from a position like this when I don't have ground to launch off of. It'd probably be better to have Yamame just drop me so I could use the momentum to get started and swoop back up while I'm falling, but I don't really feel like it. I've had enough sudden drops for today I think. Besides, it's not that big of a deal to be like this anyway.
"Yeah, I'm okay!" I call upwards. Yamame and I both look up the shaft that we originally dropped down from, though I can only really see the bit where my lantern is still stuck, everything else is too dark. "You guys should come down and see this though." I add. It really does look beautiful to look down on such a large city from all the way up here.
When I move my head to look down again, I notice a complicated look on Yamame's face. It's kind of like she can't decide between being sad and annoyed, while she also doesn't want to act like she's either of those things. Well, she was asking me a question before we were interrupted, so I should probably answer that. That will probably help.
"Just so you know, I would like to take you up on your offer," I explain to her. That makes her smile again. "The timing just isn't good right now."
Yamame keeps smiling even with my refusal. "Oh sure, sure. I can understand that. I didn't know you had other people with you. They might not want to go down there, huh?"
"It's not even that." I say, though I will admit that only Sumi would probably be all that interested. At least with the situation how it is right now anyway. "It's just that we have a lot of things we have to get done before we can think about enjoying ourselves. Our friend is still missing after all."
"Yeah, that'd probably kill the mood a bit. Makes sense." Yamame shrugs lightly afterwards. "Bit of a shame."
"Maybe we could reschedule?" I ask. I'm not exactly sure when I'll be able to make this happen, all things considered, but I don't really want to refuse outright either.
"Definitely! I'm pretty much always down here, so whenever you feel like having a fun time down here in the Old Capital, come on down." Yamame responds enthusiastically. "I'll let Kisume know if I'm not going to be around so you don't waste time looking for me. Otherwise just find one of my webs and yell a bit like you did earlier and I'll come find you."
Not having a specific time is probably a bit better for my situation. "As long as I don't get knocked down into one again."
Yamame laughs lightly. "I'll talk to Kisume about that too, don't worry. Any more contact you have with webs will only be if you want it. I'd be pretty happy to fulfill your desires then." I'm not used to being hit on, but I'm pretty sure even I can catch what she's implying there. "It's a date then!"
The idea of a date feels really weird to me, but it's not exactly wrong for her to call it one. I'm still a little bit iffy about the idea, so it'll probably take some time for me to figure out how exactly I feel about things. Still, I guess there isn't much harm to agreeing right now. Ignoring the idea of it being a date, it's still a reason to explore somewhere that I'm kind of interested in with someone who seems pretty friendly and sociable. "Yeah, I guess so."
With that finished, I look up again and notice Chiyo's lantern. It's gradually getting larger as she and Yuzuki descend down towards me. I have to squint a little bit when they come closer. My eyes have apparently adjusted to not having a light source so close to them.
Chiyo and Yuzuki float down so that they're level with Yamame and I. "Hey." Chiyo says flatly. Her normal greeting.
"Hello! You guys must be Seiran's friends" Yamame greets both of them, though her statement may have been a little obvious. "I'm Yamame Kurodani. I just happened to catch Seiran when she fell down and I was showing her the sights a bit." Although she's still holding me, Yamame shrugs her shoulders toward the direction of the underground city. Chiyo and Yuzuki both look around, though seem a bit less impressed than I was.
After a small pause, Chiyo holds her lantern back up toward me. "You caught her just like that then?" She asks plainly, I guess talking about the position we're in. I don't know if she's being sarcastic or honestly asking.
"Heh heh. Well no, I actually caught her in a web, but I had to do some work to get her out of it. We just kind of ended up like this." Yamame says, playing it off casually. I don't know if she's pretending she wasn't flirting with me for her sake or mine. I don't really mind either way though.
"A web?" Chiyo asks, moving her lantern upwards slightly. She notices the string that's still holding Yamame up. "Ew."
"Hey, most people I know like the feeling of silk." Yamame says. I will admit, the webs weren't particularly uncomfortable. The situation was, but the webs themselves weren't.
Chiyo lowers her lantern and shrugs, bringing the focus back towards me. "Looks like you should've caught her earlier though." She says, looking at my legs.
"Chiyo..." Yuzuki admonishes her. Yamame doesn't seem bothered by it though.
"I would've been happy to, but my web wasn't far enough up. Maybe next time."
While the others are talking, I finally get an actual look at my wounds. It's mostly a bunch of scrapes and cuts on my arms and legs. I pretty much guessed this from how roughly I fell, but this is the first chance I've had to actually see since then. "Oh, I didn't know how bad it was." I say. It actually isn't all that bad considering that we have lunarian medical supplies. I probably shouldn't mention that though.
"I think we're going to have to go back home to treat you," Yuzuki says, likely thinking along the same lines as I am. "Do you think we should keep looking or give up for now?"
I shake my head. "I think we should call it off. Yamame says that Sumi hasn't been through her web, so we're not going to find her down here."
"Well it was just a guess anyway," Chiyo says, shrugging slightly. It had been her idea after all. "At least you found somebody to cuddle you Seiran."
I want to protest that statement, but I try not to flustered. Chiyo just wants to mess with me like she's been messing with Yuzuki about Hina. "That's not exactly what happened but okay."
"Oh, isn't it?" Yamame says playfully, leaning down and nuzzling her cheek against mine. I'm surprised and a little embarrassed, but Yamame stops quickly and laughs about it. "Anyway, we're going back up then?"
"Yes." I blurt out, maybe just a little bit too quickly. I'm pretty sure that the others notice, but nobody really says anything about it.
On the way back up the cave, I try to summarize the relevant information that Yamame gave me. With her help, we do a pretty decent job of it I think. Once we get high up enough that I can get solid footing, I finally get down from Yamame's arms. My legs don't exactly feel good when they touch the ground, but it's not like anything is broken. It should be easy to patch up my injuries once we get back to camp. Until then I'll just have to deal with the pain.
"By the way," Yamame says as we walk back toward the entrance of the cave system. "What happened with Kisume?"
"Kisume?" Yuzuki asks. Oh, I guess I didn't really bring her up while explaining things. Whoops.
"The youkai that knocked me down." I clarify. I don't really have any better way to describe her. I didn't even get a look at her when she knocked me down.
"Yuzuki fought her off." Chiyo answers.
That's pretty surprising actually. "Really?" I ask.
"Well, she attacked us. I'm not completely incapable of danmaku you know." Yuzuki explains, somewhat tersely.
"It took you a while though," Chiyo says. "Quite an epic battle for the ages that took ages."
I don't actually see it, but I'm pretty sure that Yuzuki rolls her eyes. I would expect her to do that in response to Chiyo's sarcasm. "Well, I still won." She says, apparently not wanting to talk about it any more.
Yamame laughs lightly at the exchange. "Well she probably wasn't expecting that. I'll have a talk with her later. I hope she'll learn a lesson about picking fights with people."
Yamame accompanies us all the way to the entrance to the cave, and scowls along with the rest of us when we see that it's still raining outside. There's no real reason to stick around though, so we say our goodbyes and fly back towards camp.
Flying in the rain with scrapes cuts and bruises on your arms and legs sucks. I mean, flying in the rain already sucks though. There's no cover above you and you get soaked almost immediately. We never had to deal with this on the moon, and it's probably one of the things that I don't like about Earth weather. It sure would be nice if the Earthlings could control the weather and only have it active when they need it like back home. I guess they have other priorities though. Earth is a lot bigger than the moon and has it's own natural atmosphere after all, so maybe it's a lot tougher to develop that kind of technology.
Basically what I'm getting at though is that the trip back to camp gets all three of us very wet and very unhappy. Once we actually got back, it was better, since we could change clothes and get umbrellas, but by that point the damage has already been done. It's late afternoon by the time we get back. Then once we're all dried and I've treated my injuries, all three of us agree to rest for the remainder of the evening. I feel a bit guilty about Sumi still being missing, but I think she'd understand our reasoning. I hope so anyway.
Before Ringo gets back from wherever she went, I'll spend my time with...
[ ] Yuzuki [ ] Chiyo [ ] Nobody
And then after Ringo gets back and we finish our normal meeting I'll spend the rest of the time with...
[ ] Ringo [ ] Yuzuki [ ] Chiyo [ ] Nobody
(For variety's sake, if one option wins both votes I'll probably pick the second place vote on one of them)
Next update will be in a new thread since we're close to bump limit. Feel free to leave any comments or questions or whatever on how things are going if you have any. I've never run something like this before, and honestly this is probably the longest continuous story I've ever written before. I think I'm doing okayish at least but my opinion probably matters less than the people who are reading and participating.