It takes longer than it probably should to find the medical supplies. Apparently Yuzuki decided at some point in her reorganization that the best place for the supplies to be was wrapped up inside one of the extra tents we have stored in the equipment tent. I didn't know we have the same number of first aid kits as we have extra tents, but I guess that's not the kind of thing that Yuzuki would miss. I could have just asked where to look and found out immediately I guess, but I decided to try figuring it out for myself instead.
Minor injuries like mine aren't really much of a problem for Lunarian medicine. All I really need to do is apply some of the salve stuff that we have. It works pretty much immediately, though it always leaves me with this weird feeling that I'm slightly sticky for a while afterwards. I already feel a little sticky after the whole web thing, but this isn't going to help any.
I decide to just stay in the equipment tent as I patch myself up. It's still raining outside, so I would obviously prefer to be inside somewhere instead of getting wet. This tent works just as well as any other one, plus it lets me put things away more quickly when I'm done.
As I start working on my arms, I hear somebody enter the tent flap. "Hey." It's Chiyo.
I'm actually a little surprised to see Chiyo here. She would typically stay in her tent by herself most nights after we've finished working for the day. I guess the most likely case is that she's here for equipment, given the tent that we're in. "Hey Chi. Did you need something? Yuzuki reorganized a couple days ago, so you might have trouble finding it." I warn her. I know where some of the stuff is at least, so I might be able to help her.
"Nah, just waiting to see if anybody's making dinner." Chiyo says plainly, walking up behind me. Chiyo has a tendency to screw up cooking things a lot, so she usually needs someone to help her or do it for her. I catch the hint that she wants me to do it, but I'm not sure if I'm feeling up for to cook tonight.
"And waiting for the meeting." I suggest. I would think that's kind of the more important thing here.
"Yeah sure," Chiyo responds dismissively. "You think Ringo will be back soon or...?"
"Well I hope so anyway," I answer her. "I know Ringo doesn't like flying around in the rain either, but I doubt that she'll be out for that much longer anyway."
"Alright. That's what I thought, just checking," Chiyo nods to herself and sits on one of the smaller stacks of crates. "I was pretty sure nothing had thrown off my sense of time."
"You've actually been doing really well lately." I try to encourage her. It's true as well, there have only been a couple of times lately when I noticed her reactions being slower or faster than normal.
"I was pretty off when I was at that hermit's house, but yeah I guess so." Chiyo flops onto her back and stares at the ceiling while she talks. "It's just because we've kept so busy. I don't think it will last. I'll probably have an off day pretty soon."
"We were busy before all this started happening though, weren't we?" Gathering information was different than trying to find each other, but it still kept us out all day most of the time.
Chiyo makes a non-committal grunt. I kind of understand what she's getting at though. Even though we were working every day, it was a lot easier before when we were stealthed. Then we knew that youkai weren't going to find us, so there was one less reason to worry. We're a bit more on edge now, though I will say I think things have gone pretty well so far. Nothing's tried to eat us yet at least.
I feel like it's on me to continue the conversation, which I guess is fine. I haven't gotten a lot of chances to talk to just Chiyo lately. "So how do you feel about the whole situation with us being stuck here?" I ask. I haven't really heard her opinion on things.
There's a brief pause, but I think it's more Chiyo thinking about how to respond than her power messing with her. "I think command isn't gonna come get us." She says plainly.
"Chiyo!" I try to cut her off quickly. I admit it's probably more because I'm uncomfortable than because I think she's wrong. I've had that thought before, but it was more just me worrying. It was DEFINITELY not correct.
"No, think about it," Chiyo continues. "You said Reisen was in and out of the portal in a couple of hours right? That's not enough time for one rabbit with no gear to do much damage to the capital. It wouldn't have taken them days to get comms working again, even in an emergency situation."
I don't actually know exactly how the comms work exactly, but I have to admit that Chiyo has a point. "So you think they're just not letting us use them? Why?" I ask. I can't really think of a good reason for that.
"Dunno. Maybe they're planning a big surprise party for us because of how good a job we've been doing." Anybody could guess that Chiyo was being sarcastic despite how completely deadpan she says it, but that's probably not necessary given how absurd the idea is. "They've obviously got some plan anyway, and my money is on them just leaving us here."
"That seems like a pretty big waste of resources," I say, glancing at the crates full of equipment we had moved here. It is pretty old I admit, but I still don't think that command would just throw it away. "And it's not like we've done anything wrong to get exiled over." I add.
There's another pause. "Well we are the weird ones. If they don't need us, why keep us? Rabbits are disposable as far as they're concerned." She says quietly. Wow. I had known that Chiyo had some issues with how she had been treated back on the moon, I think most of us do, but I didn't expect her to have so little faith in command.
I'm not really sure what to say to that, so I let the silence hang while I finish up applying salve to my legs. I idly watch the cuts and scrapes disappear while I think about things. Before I can think of anything to respond with though, I'm interrupted by Ringo bursting into the tent. I'm glad there's only a tent flap there because I'm pretty sure she would have broken down a door.
"Good evening ladies!" Ringo seems to be in a good mood. "Hope you guys got a lot done today!"
"Did you get a lot done today?" Chiyo asks bluntly. Pretty sure she doesn't think Ringo did. I don't know if I think she did either, but I guess that's what the meeting is for.
"A bit." Ringo says happily before waves her arms in the air a bit and then pointing at the ground. That's the kind of thing that Yuzuki will definitely notice and take as a signal to come here, so I guess we're having the meeting in the equipment tent.
"Where did you go today?" I ask. Considering that Sumi isn't here, it's pretty obvious that Ringo didn't find her either, but that wasn't really Ringo's objective today. She had only vaguely said that she wanted to do something productive. That could really mean anything.
"Ah ah ah," Ringo wags her finger at me playfully. "Wait until the meeting starts. Just for that, I'm making you go first." I sigh at that, but I guess it's not really a big deal. She probably would have made me go first anyway.
Once Yuzuki joins us, Ringo pulls a crate down from the top of a large stack and sits on it just so she doesn't have to stand for the whole meeting. I can see Yuzuki twitch slightly at the disturbance to her organization system, but she doesn't actually say anything. She may have wanted to, but Ringo starts things off before she can.
"So! This shouldn't be too long of a meeting, unless you guys broke off and did separate things that I don't know about I guess," Ringo begins casually. "What did you guys do today then?"
She did say that it was my turn first, so I begin explaining our day today. "Well, like we said this morning, we were going to try the Moriya shrine to see if they knew anything useful."
"It turned out the answer to that was no." Yuzuki adds. I feel like that's a little bit too blunt, but maybe Yuzuki is still a little annoyed about how things went with the Hina issue.
"Well, kind of yeah," I continue. "It was still worth the trip though. We got a chance to speak with the goddess of that shrine, and she agreed to help search for Sumi on our behalf."
That catches Ringo's interest I guess. "Huh, just like that?"
"Apparently they feel somewhat responsible for not destroying the drone quickly, so we had some bargaining power," I still feel a little bit awkward about the lie, but I have to get used to it. "She did also ask for some information about the drone itself though, so I gave her a little bit but not enough to give anything away."
"What do you think she's going to do with that info?" Ringo asks cautiously.
"I don't know. Apparently she thinks it's a kappa project and wanted to know about it so she can find out who's responsible," I explain, then add a bit more. "She's also just interested in technology I guess."
Ringo folds her arms over her chest and thinks for a second. "Hm... That might actually be an issue," She says thoughtfully. "The kappa have the drone now. If that goddess goes and talks to them, then it'll definitely look like it's theirs. They can deny it, but then they'll just look like liars."
"So what?" Chiyo asks, finally sitting up on her crate. "Let the goddess and the kappa work it out, we can pretend to not be involved. It's not our problem."
Ringo thinks about it a bit more before speaking again. "Hmm... How long did she say it would take her to get information?"
"She wants to meet us again in two days." I say. I hadn't actually thought about this issue, so I guess it's good that Ringo brought it up.
"Well, we'll have to decide what we want to do soon then," Ringo finishes, unfolding her arms and going back to being casual. "We can let the kappa take the fall, or we can try to take the drone back and throw everybody off the trail. If we're going to do anything though, it'll probably have to be tomorrow. As early as possible."
The rest of us look at each other. Chiyo already said how she feels about it, but I'm not exactly sure myself. If we don't take the drone back it could get confiscated by Kanako, but would that even be worse than the kappa? My gut tells me yes, just because she's probably more important, but that doesn't necessarily mean that she'd be able to link it back to us either. I'll have to think about it.
"So, anything else?" Ringo asks. I think she knows that couldn't have possibly taken the whole day.
"Chiyo had the idea to check the caves on the base of the mountain's other side, so we went down there for the rest of the day." I explain.
"Guessing Sumi wasn't down there then." Ringo says jokingly. It's pretty obvious considering the whole 'Sumi not being here' thing.
I still shake my head before replying. "Turns out there's a whole city of youkai who don't get along well with humans and other youkai down there though." I say.
"And Seiran cuddled with one of them for a while." Chiyo adds suddenly.
Okay hold on now, Ringo why are you looking so interested suddenly? Chiyo is lying! "She caught me when I fell down." I say clearly. That's the truth after all. I don't have to mention the flirting. Flirting is not at all the same thing as cuddling!
"And held you close until you had to part, staring romantically out over the city as you snuggled into her arms." Chiyo sighs dreamily before shooting me a smirk.
"That is not what happened." I say tersely. This isn't fair. Ringo and Chiyo are both smiling smugly at me, while Yuzuki appears to be pretending to ignore the conversation. I guess I can't count on any help from her when I also joined in on teasing her about Hina. The best thing I can think to do is keep the conversation focused on business. "Anyway! I was told it would be fine for us to come back any time, so I guess we could consider it a safe area. The chances of anyone underground knowing what moon rabbits are is probably pretty slim. Actually some of them probably don't even know what the moon is."
Ringo laughs slightly. "Okay, might be useful to know I guess. Anything else?" I guess she's not going to continue the teasing, which I appreciate.
"No. I got injured in the cave, so we had to come back here," I answer, happy to move on away from the Yamame thing. "We decided to wait for you to come back after that."
"Alright then," Ringo claps her hands as she gets started on her own day. "Since you were talking about a city you went to, I'll talk about the city I went to. Well, it was actually a village, and it was full of humans."
Wait, really? "THE human village?" I ask, I think I sound a bit more incredulous than I should sound, but I'm just surprised that she would go there on her own without telling anybody. It's the largest human population center in Gensokyo after all.
"Yeah," Ringo says casually. "It was pretty interesting."
"Aren't we supposed to be avoiding contact with Earthlings as much as possible?" Yuzuki asks.
"I don't think we have much chance of doing that when you consider how many youkai and humans and goddesses and whatever else we've already talked to. We're definitely here now, we can't just pretending to be stealthed when we're not is probably going to just be more suspicious," Ringo justifies herself, but continues before anyone can argue against her. "Anyway, I hid my ears and tail and tried to act as human as possible. Nobody called me on it so maybe they didn't figure out I was a youkai. I saw a few people that were hiding it a lot worse than me at least, so I guess the humans there are somewhat used to having some youkai around."
There are multiple things there that I want to comment on, but I'm not sure what to say. Before I can decide Chiyo speaks up. "What did you think you were gonna do there?"
"Information. Gathering." Ringo says confidently, punctuating both words clearly.
Chiyo doesn't seem impressed. "And what information did you gather then?" She asks.
"Well, it's... A work in progress," Ringo hesitantly explains. So that means nothing then? "I picked up bits and pieces of info, but nothing worth talking about yet. I was mostly trying to figure out who the important people I should pay attention to are. Part of the information gathering process is learning who has the information after all, and I also did get a better idea of human youkai relations in the largest human population center."
She's not exactly wrong I guess, but I just don't really see that helping that much. "Would command even care about that?" I ask her. I already know the answer.
Ringo ignores the question though. "We need to care about it. There's lots of humans. There's lots of youkai. The more we know about how those two groups interact, the better we can act like normal youkai and blend in. It's a long term thing."
I can at least see the logic she's following, but for the second day in a row, it just kind of feels like this was something that Ringo wanted to do, did, and then made up the justification for later. Maybe I should put more pressure on her in the future. I look at Yuzuki and Chiyo, who both give me some kind of meaningful look back. I'm pretty sure they both agree.
Still, what's done is done, and Ringo seems to be in a good mood about it, so I don't make an argument out of it. At the very least, what we accomplished today got us help in finding Sumi, so even if Ringo isn't being that productive, we're still better off than yesterday. Ringo adjourns the meeting soon quickly after nobody argues with her more.
Yuzuki and Chiyo both leave the equipment tent to head back to their own tents. When they leave I notice the weather outside. It seems that the rain has slowed down to a point where it's pretty much negligible, and is probably going to end entirely in a couple of minutes. I walk over to the tent flap, holding it open as I watch the sky. I kind of hope that the clouds will break up enough to see the moon tonight.
I hear some slight shuffling as Ringo stands up and walks up to my side. "Here. Got this for you. Well, really I got it hoping you would share it with me. I already ate mine. Try one though." She pulls out a paper bag from her pocket and hands it to me.
I look inside the bag and find it filled with little colored circles. Dango. "How did you get these?" I haven't made more yet, and I don't bother to color the ones that I make.
Ringo doesn't really answer me. "Just try one." She prompts again. I shrug and eat a dango. "Good, right?"
It's good. I would like to say that mine are better, but I'm both biased and probably lying. Well I guess it wouldn't be a lie exactly. Opinions aren't lies really. I nod anyway, trying not to look to reluctant about it.
Ringo smiles. "That's what I thought too. It's not filled with love like yours, but it's good." She exaggerates the cooking with love thing again, but I ignore it.
"How did you get these?" I ask again.
Ringo that's not enough of an explanation. "Where did you get human money?" I continue.
"Remember this morning when I was arm wrestling Cirno? That made me think about it and I realized I could probably beat anybody in an arm wrestling contest when I have some dango." Oh no... "So I went and found the loudest, proudest, most obnoxious looking guy I could find and challenged him to a contest for some money. You know the type, one that wouldn't be able to refuse."
"And you won." I finish for her. It's pretty obvious anyway.
"Well, I did yeah, but that's not really the whooooole story." Ringo says slyly. She seems to be having fun at least. "Turns out the loudest, proudest, most obnoxious guy I could find was probably not the best target. When he lost he didn't take it well. I had to rough him up a bit, but it was all in self defence anyway."
"Ringo!" That is not okay.
"Well what else was I gonna do?" Ringo doesn't sound the least bit bothered by my outburst. "The guy was angry. He would've beat me up if I didn't get him first."
"Ugh..." I just sigh.
"Yeah I wasn't happy about it either. I think next time I go there I'm gonna wear a disguise or something. You know where I can get a big bushy moustache? Maybe a top hat?" Ringo laughs to herself.
"Don't you think you're having a bit too much fun?" I feel like I have to ask. This is another thing that's been done, so I can't change it. I'll just have to be careful about letting Ringo do whatever she wants later.
"No such thing."
"It's not like I'm not working too. Okay, I will admit that I got a little carried away today, but I couldn't help it. Everything was so noisy and interesting and full of people. It just felt so much more... Alive than home." Ringo explains, somewhat losing steam near the end when she can't figure out how to phrase what she wants to say.
I don't really know how to respond to that, and I don't try very hard. I let the silence hang for a minute before I have an idea. The rain outside has stopped, so there's no reason to stay in the equipment tent now. "I think I will share these." I say happily, holding up the paper bag that's still full of dango.
"Yes!" Ringo says excitedly.
"With Chiyo. She said she was hungry." I walk off quickly towards Chiyo's tent, letting Ringo chase after me. Hey, she said they were for me, I should be able to do what I want!
The rest of the night goes pretty much how you would expect. We eventually talk Yuzuki into cooking something once the dango that Ringo brought back run out. Yuzuki gets annoyed about us all ruining our appetite, but that doesn't really end up happening. Chiyo and I don't actually end up eating that much while Ringo's appetite is... Ringo's appetite, so nothing actually ends up ruined. I'm pretty sure Yuzuki knew that anyway, it was just the principle of the thing.
After dinner we all end up going back to our own tents for the rest of the night. Even though the rain mostly cleared up, I think we're all tired enough to not want to do much else. For me in particular at least, I still feel sore and a little sticky, even though my wounds are taken care of.
Even though I know it's bad to sleep too soon after eating, I still end up catching myself nodding off soon after getting back to my tent. Eventually I just give up, take my pill, and go to bed. Ringo did say that we might want to get up early if we want to do something about the kappa having the drone before Kanako confronts them about it. I don't really decide if I want to push for us to do that, but I still end up falling asleep pretty early.
Considering how early I went to bed, I'm not too surprised when I wake up and realize that it's not particularly bright out yet. I don't think it's as early as when Aya came to talk to us at least, since I can at least see that the sun is out a little bit. I guess that also means that the weather is better than yesterday as well, so that's nice at least. It's hard to convince myself to get up out of comfy warm blankets when I know that I can wait a little bit and still be the second person up, you know? I would rather just stay in bed a bit longer, but as I become more awake over time, I gradually start hearing some noises that I can't quite identify.
I guess I would describe it as an occasional soft popping noise followed by a bunch of light taps. It's something that I feel like I've heard before but can't really place the origin of it. After a few minutes of listening to it happen in short bursts I realize I'm going to have to get up to investigate. Apparently Yuzuki isn't handling it, and she'd be the only other person up at this point. Maybe she's not up yet like yesterday or something. It would be pretty odd for that to happen two days in a row, but I guess it's possible.
I manage to pull myself out of bed and get dressed properly. I don't like doing it when I could just stay comfy, but somebody has to make sure the situation is all okay. I walk out of my tent and look around, trying to figure out which way the sound is coming from. It's definitely not inside of the camp at least, so I have to walk away from our tents once I figure that out. I can feel the grass squish slightly when I start walking. Maybe it rained a bit more over night. The weather seems good otherwise at least, though it's still pretty early in the morning. I move away from camp, toward the source of the sound and quickly see what's causing it.
It's not exactly what I was expecting, but I guess it's not a bad thing either.
Yuzuki is off near the edge of the clearing, periodically shooting volleys of small circular bullets at a large tree. They don't seem to be doing anything to the tree, but that's obviously not the point. I guess she's just practising danmaku, which seems a little weird. It's definitely happened before at least.
One thing about Yuzuki's powers is that they make it so you can't really sneak up on her. She's pretty much always going to be aware of what the people around her are doing. Most people would probably think is a little but unnerving if they really thought about all the implications of her powers, but I've known her long enough to be used to it by now. It does however mean that if you see her doing something, it's because she's okay with you seeing her doing it.
When she finishes with another volley of shots, Yuzuki suddenly greets me. "Good morning."
"... Morning." I reply back after I force back a yawn. Yuzuki goes back to focusing on her shots and I just watch for a bit. Honestly, Chiyo and Ringo are mostly acting the same as they always have, but Yuzuki keeps surprising me and doing things that I'm not expecting her to do. How am I supposed to respond here?
"So, uh... What brought this on?" Is the question I end up asking. She's got to know what I'm talking about, so I guess it works.
Yuzuki continues firing for a moment, then sighs. "You know how I fought that small youkai yesterday?" She asks, turning around to look at me while we're talking.
"Kisume?" I ask. It's not really for clarification so much as it is to make sure that Yuzuki knows her name. I feel like it's kind of rude to just think of anyone as 'that youkai'.
"Yes, I guess that was her name," Yuzuki shrugs. "Fighting with her made me realize just how weak we are down here."
"Just at danmaku." I add. I want to think that we're doing alright in other departments at least.
"In general, we are pretty weakened right now," Yuzuki disagrees. "Our cover story precludes us from being able to use our firearms. If we get into any kind of trouble, we have to solve it with either talking, running away, or danmaku. If only two out of five of us can use danmaku, then the other three don't have much to offer. I'd like to at least move us up to three out of five."
I feel like that's a bit too negative of an outlook. Considering how little fighting we've actually done since losing stealth, there are obviously plenty of important things that the other rabbits can contribute to what we're doing besides offensive power. "You guys have plenty to offer though..."
"Well... I just meant that in a combat sense," Yuzuki clarifies, though she doesn't sound as sure about it as I think she should. "That youkai yesterday was not very strong. She seemed even less impressive than the fairy you fought yesterday. It took entirely too long for me to fend her off, and I just don't think that was acceptable. Since we're stuck with just the five of us and can't get backup or retreat, I think it would be a good idea to increase our combat effectiveness as much as possible."
Well, I guess she has a point. I shouldn't really argue against her trying to improve herself anyway. If she wants to wake up early and do this, I don't really have a reason to stop her. "I guess that's fine," I say, there's not much need to argue this anyway. "How's it working out then?"
Yuzuki stiffens slightly at the question. "It's... Well, I wish there had been a more formal introduction to this." She says, sounding a little uncomfortable. "I have to make it up as I go, which isn't really my strong suit. Maybe it would be easier if I had the actual rules, or more examples of how other people do it."
I kind of have to agree with that as well. Maybe we should try to find somebody who knows that actual rules at some point, but I don't really know who exactly that would be. "Well, I guess I can help you with what I know." I offer. I don't know a lot, but I think this is one of those situations where two heads will be better than one. We're kind of limited on finding examples too.
Yuzuki smiles lightly, looking a bit relieved. "Sure. I was actually kind of at a loss here. How do you shape your bullets? It just feels weird for me to make them anything other than spheres."
We spend the next half hour or so practicing creating and firing bullets. I feel like this could have been much more effective practice than it actually turned out being though. I guess it's partly because I'm not the best teacher, but also because this was all impromptu, so it's not like I had a plan for how to teach this kind of stuff. Yuzuki eventually begins to get better at creating bullets that aren't just perfect spheres, but she doesn't seem to be good at making them very quickly. She can manage small sprays, but that probably wouldn't cut it in an actual duel.
We eventually have to come to a stop for a couple of reasons. First, after so many bullets, Yuzuki starts to feel a bit drained by it, which is normal, though probably needs to be drastically improved for her to be more effective. Secondly though, I start to feel a bit concerned that we're actually causing damage to the tree. Yuzuki says it helps her to have something to shoot at, but most of the time in an actual duel all your bullets would be flying off into the sky anyway. Maybe that's just another part of Yuzuki's mindset that's causing her problems, but I'm not sure.
"I should have been working on this more while we were stealthed." Yuzuki says after we decide to stop, sounding somewhat discouraged.
"Well we couldn't have seen this situation that we're in coming," I try to reassure her. "It's not your fault. I'm sure you'll get better as you work at it more. Maybe...
[ ] "... I can keep helping you when we have time." [ ] "... You should ask Ringo for help. She's the best out of all of us." [ ] "... You should work with Chiyo, and Sumi when she gets back. Then everybody would be better off." [ ] (Suggest someone else)
After that, I decide to start thinking about what I want to focus on today.
[ ] Finding Sumi - [ ] (Specify where to search, though remember Kanako is going to be doing this today as well) [ ] Getting the drone back from the kappa [ ] Finding the earth rabbits that Aya mentioned before [ ] Go somewhere else to find more information - [ ] (Specify location)
[X] "... I can keep helping you when we have time."
We need the practice at Danmaku too. I don't see much point getting the drone back, how would we be better off for having it? If Sumi's anywhere on the mountain, Kanako is more likely to find her than we are. So I think it's finally time for [X] Finding the earth rabbits that Aya mentioned before
[X] "... I can keep helping you when we have time." [X] Finding the earth rabbits that Aya mentioned before
"Maybe I can keep helping you when we have time." I suggest. Helping her would also mean practice for me as well. Yuzuki kind of has a point anyway, we are pretty weak in the offense department right now. I can't really count on Ringo to work on improving herself, and even if she would, it's better that she not be the only competent one in a fight. Working with Yuzuki sounds like a good idea for both of us.
Yuzuki nods to me, seeming to relax a bit now that she doesn't have to keep creating and firing bullets. "Okay, sure. I would like to set up an actual schedule for this but..."
Yeah, there is an issue there. "But we're making every day up as we go so that's a little tough." I finish for her.
"I'm not exactly happy about it, but yes." Yuzuki agrees. She was always on a pretty set schedule back on the moon. Coming down here was the only thing that changed that.
"Well, evenings are usually pretty free." I point out. I've been using my evenings as a chance to just take it easy a bit and have a chat with one of the others, but I guess they could be more productive.
"That might not be the best idea," Yuzuki points out. "Doing a lot of danmaku at night seems like it would attract more attention because of the flashing lights and colors, along with all the noise."
"I guess you have a point," I look over at the tree we had been shooting at. It's not that bad, but I guess we had only been doing small amounts of bullets. An actual duel would cause a lot more chaos, which would probably be pretty noticeable at night. "We'll work it out though. Maybe we'll have to just get up early like today."
Yuzuki looks a little unsure for a moment. "We'll work it out." She agrees. We'll just have to pick out times when we're both free I guess. It's better than having no plans to practice at least.
One nice thing with danmaku practice compared to practicing with a real fire arm is that there isn't really any cleanup to do or equipment to put away. Since we both decided we were done, all we had to do was go back to the main part of camp. Surprisingly, Ringo's already awake by the time we get back. Well, awake in the sense that she's out of bed at least. She could be asleep again I guess, since I can't see her face. It's lying flat against the table.
When Yuzuki and I approach Ringo makes a sound that's kind of like a greeting, then another one that I'm pretty sure is a request for breakfast. Yuzuki leaves to go get Chiyo up, and I get things ready so we can start the day.
"So, anybody have any ideas on what to do today?" Ringo starts off once she's properly awake and fed. We didn't decide on a plan yesterday, so it's kind of important now.
"Sumi." Chiyo says plainly.
"Yeah, I thought about that one, and I'm not so sure we need to do anything for it today," Ringo says casually. "You guys already got that mountain goddess, Kanako to start looking for her. She's been here much longer and has more connections, so we're probably not gonna be able to contribute much when we don't have much of a lead."
That's not quite right I think. "Unless we look outside of the mountain area." I point out. I don't know if Sumi would have went too far away, but it's possible.
"Which is valid and we could do that, I'm just saying we don't have any leads on her," Ringo continues. "It might be more efficient to work on something else today and continue working at it tomorrow if Kanako doesn't get any results. It sucks for Sumi, but she hasn't exactly made herself easy to find. We need to keep working."
I think I hear Yuzuki scoff quietly when Ringo says that, but she speaks next without sounding annoyed or sarcastic or anything. "Do you think today should be spent trying to get the drone back from the kappa then?" She asks, idly moving her and my used silverware into an exact position on the table.
"Hmm, I've been thinking about that, and I'm still kinda torn on it. Getting it back would make us look better when we make contact with command, but other than that, it doesn't really help us," Ringo sounds more like she's working it through in her mind just now rather than having done it last night. "If anything it could expose our cover story. We would have to break into the right kappa workshop, steal the thing back, and get out without being seen. It'd be doable for us, but we haven't done any prep work or intel gathering."
"And we would have to do all of that today?" Chiyo asks. She scrunches up her face as if she's thinking about it really hard, then looks down at her wrist as if there was a watch there. "Yeah, not happening," She decides, looking back up. "Let's just ignore the thing. It's not our problem, and command had to know this could happen when they sent it down with us."
"That's not the point." Yuzuki argues back. "Our job here was to gather information and allow the drone to purify the area. If we let the drone stay captured then we've already failed our mission."
"We've already failed our mission anyway," I remind her. I'm not exactly happy to bring it up, but let's not kid ourselves here. "The drone was damaged before it was captured. Even if we get it back, none of us will be able to fix it enough to let it finish its job." I didn't actually get to see the drone before it went missing, so I don't actually know the extent of the damage. It stopped stealthing us though, and there shouldn't have been a way for the kappa to capture it if it was still purifying things either. It's probably just destroyed.
Ringo turns to me. "I guess you're not in favor of getting it back then?" She asks.
Honestly I hadn't really thought about it that much last night. I guess I just made up my mind now based off of the current argument. I agree more with Chiyo on this. "I guess not."
"Looks like you're outvoted then Yuzuki." Ringo concludes. Nobody points out that Ringo herself didn't vote, but she only could have made it a tie if she hadn't agreed with Chiyo, so I guess she decided her vote wasn't worth mentioning.
Yuzuki continues on, ignoring the slightly smug look on Chiyo's face. "Well... Fine. What should we do then? If we're not looking for Sumi or the drone then what?"
"Portal is still broken." Chiyo points out plainly.
"Do we have any leads on that?" Yuzuki asks back quickly.
"I think what we need to do is figure out what happened when Reisen used it," Ringo answers for Chiyo. "What did she do that made it stop working when she came back? The best way to find that out would be finding Reisen herself."
That's a bit of a jump, though I have to admit I've thought about wanting to find her as well. "I don't think Reisen wants to be found. She's technically on the run as a deserter."
"Well, she attacked us first, so too bad." Ringo answers quickly. She doesn't seem to actually be mad about it, she's just using that as justification.
"She only attacked because she somehow found out we were invading." I say quickly. I'm not really sure why I defend her. She did shoot me a lot. I just feel like saying that she attacked me implies more malice than she actually had.
"But she didn't have to. Sanae told us that she was going to take care of the drone problem herself, but it disappeared before she got around to it." Chiyo adds. I guess I know which side she's on for this one.
Ringo seems pleased at that information. "So Reisen fought us off when there was at least one human who would have done it already. She's put herself into this incident, so we're justified in trying to find out why." She concludes happily.
"Do we have any leads?" Yuzuki asks again, sounding a little bit more exasperated.
"Yes we do." Ringo answers. "The tengu gave us one. Remember Seiran?"
I remember Ringo bringing this up as a lead before, but I thought it was just info on earth rabbits. "Aya said that the rabbit youkai all live in the bamboo forest." I recall. "That doesn't necessarily link to Reisen though."
"It might," Ringo says, tapping lightly on the table as she goes through her reasoning. "If Reisen is like us, she would have hidden the fact that she's from the moon, which would mean living like an earth rabbit youkai. If that's the case, she'd probably be where the rest of them are."
"There are a few holes in that idea." I point out. "Most of the rumors over comms said that she was hiding with the exiled Lunarians. She's not necessarily anywhere near the Earth rabbits."
"True, true, but it's just a lead. We can't know if it'll pan out until we at least look into it," Ringo says. She seems to notice that she's acting a bit triumphant already and reels herself back a bit when she continues. "I mean, I'm open to other suggestions of course, but I think we should look into this while we've got the time."
I actually don't have much of a problem with her reasoning. I didn't really have a better idea for what to do today anyway. I guess it's also true that even if we don't find Reisen herself, finding the earth rabbits would probably give us information to help with our cover story.
Yuzuki and Chiyo don't bring up any other ideas for what to work on today, so Ringo adjourns the meeting. It looks like we're all going together on this one. I'm a little concerned about the camp being secure, but I don't know who we would leave behind to watch things. Yuzuki is too useful for this kind of information gathering, and leaving Chiyo behind isn't necessarily a good idea. I guess it could be me, but I decide not to volunteer. I'll just hope that things work out well without anyone here like they have the last couple of days.
After we clean the table, the four of us get ready to go. We grab a couple of radios, but decide we probably won't need light sources this time. It's just another forest after all.
The trip to the bamboo forest is a pretty long one, even with us flying. It's not that surprising since the mountain and bamboo forest are pretty much on opposite ends of Gensokyo. We've obviously never gone this far in our general information gathering, so we don't know a lot of the specifics of the area, but we know where all of the major landmarks are at least. We had that kind of intelligence before even leaving the moon.
I fly close to Ringo most of the way there. It's a little rude to think of it like this, but I'm kind of glad that Ringo suggested this plan. Since it was her idea and she's coming with us, that means she's not going to be off doing something by herself again. This seems more like actual work towards our objectives than what she ended up doing the previous two days. Maybe Ringo realized she was having a bit too much fun by herself and wanted us with her? I think I can have enough faith in her to believe that. I'd like to anyway.
We're well into the morning by the time we reach the outskirts of the bamboo forest. Ringo signals for us to land rather than have to decide what we're doing while flying. It's easier to hear things on the ground without the wind blowing everywhere after all.
There's no sign or anything, but this is pretty obviously the start of the bamboo forest. I'm a little surprised at how quick the transition is actually. The land goes from being clear to being a giant messy wall of bamboo almost instantly. "So, I've got my own ideas for how to deal with this, but I'm open to suggestions." Ringo says, looking over the mass of bamboo ahead of us. "How do you think we should do this?"
[ ] Just go in and let Yuzuki point out if she notices any rabbits. [ ] Take it slow, loop around the forest with Yuzuki to let her get an idea of the area. [ ] See if we can find anybody who lives nearby. They're probably used to seeing rabbits in the area, we can ask them where other rabbits would be. [ ] We should split up to cover more ground. We have radios, and we can just fly out of the forest if somebody gets lost (specify groups)
[X] See if we can find anybody who lives nearby. They're probably used to seeing rabbits in the area, we can ask them where other rabbits would be.
I have to think about what we actually know here. The only bit of info we have about this area is the general knowledge of how big this forest is. Unless we get lucky, searching the whole place to find where the rabbits live will probably take hours.
It would take a lot of time for Yuzuki's power to work well in an area like this. I mean, I don't know the exact area she it works at, and she's probably already started trying to increase the range, but I know that an area so full of bamboo isn't favorable for her. It might even be so packed full of obstructions that searching manually at first may be a more efficient use of our time. I don't really like that idea though. There must be some better way to do it.
The biggest help right now would be for us to get more information, and for that, we'd need to find someone who we could talk to. I don't actually know if there are any people near here, but it's worth a shot at least. That's especially true if we can also use the time that we're searching for people to also get Yuzuki a bit more familiar with the area.
"I think we should look around and see if anybody lives nearby." I answer Ringo. "They would probably be used to seeing rabbits around here, and we could ask them where to go."
"Are we still trying to avoid contact with earthlings?" Yuzuki asks suddenly. "I feel like that objective kind of got lost somewhere."
"Eh, it's fine. We have a cover story that everyone we've talked to has believed, so we should be clear as long as we're consistent," Ringo dismisses the question. That's probably what she would have used if I had called her harder on going to the village yesterday actually. "Honestly we probably should have done this in the first place. Talking to people for info is way better than just wandering around looking at stuff while stealthed."
Well, Ringo seems in favor of my idea at least. "So, can you see very far in there?" I ask Yuzuki. I can guess the answer, but I feel like I should make sure.
"I can't 'see' any farther than you can, but I know what you mean anyway," Yuzuki answers, concentrating on the forest. "... I'm at about sixty meters in right now. That can go up, but it will take time."
That's what I thought. "So let's take a walk for now, we'll see if we can find anybody while you increase your range." I suggest again, hoping that my logic makes sense. Nobody really objects to it, so we start walking.
Ringo picks a direction arbitrarily and we spend the next hour or so slowly walking along the edge of the forest. Occasionally Yuzuki notices a fairy or two, but other than that we don't find anything. According to Yuzuki, the forest doesn't thin out any past what we can already see. It's just a thick mess of bamboo all growing at different angles.
I think all of us are starting to feel a little frustrated with the lack of progress when Yuzuki finally notices something interesting. "There's a building in there." She says suddenly, looking intently at some spot that none of us can actually see.
"Already?" Chiyo asks, sounding a bit bored.
"More like, 'finally', Chi." Ringo answers. It has been a while, though maybe Chiyo just didn't actually notice.
"Is there anybody there?" I ask Yuzuki. Just because there's a building there doesn't mean it will help.
Yuzuki focuses for a bit, then nods. "... Yes. She's asleep at the moment though."
"Still?" I ask. I would think most people would be up by now.
"Well we did get up early today. Maybe whoever it is just doesn't have work to do today. Let's go ask then!" Ringo says happily. She quickly starts trying to maneuver her way past the first row of bamboo and into the forest.
"Hold on," Yuzuki stops her quickly. "It looks like there's a path."
The path that Yuzuki leads us to is more like a tunnel in the wall of bamboo. The bamboo here is angled in such a way that you wouldn't notice it unless you were looking for it, but it's definitely meant to be an entrance for something. We have to crouch down and crawl through it, but we quickly reach an actual path that we can stand up and walk along.
The path is only a couple of feet wide, and it seems all the person that made it did was clear out the bamboo and uproot some of the grass. I'm a bit confused why someone would live here like this. It seems like they didn't go out of their way to make it easy to get here, so maybe they want to stay hidden for some reason. I hope we're not bothering somebody who doesn't want to be disturbed.
The walk is fairly short to reach what I guess is our destination. It seems like it's only meant to go deep enough that you wouldn't be able to see this area from outside the forest. All that is here is a small clearing, apparently also created by someone just cutting a bunch of bamboo down, and some kind of wooden structure. Yuzuki had called it a building, but when I look at it I can't help but think of the word 'shack'. It seems like it was constructed by an amateur, or at least by somebody who didn't care if it looked good.
"This... Feels a little shady." I admit somewhat hesitantly.
"It's just some woman's home. There's nothing strange in there from what I can tell." Yuzuki assures me.
"Okay, but why is someone living here like this?" I ask.
"Well we're not gonna know that unless we talk to her!" Ringo says, moving past Yuzuki and I. Before I can say anything, she quickly pounds on the door three times.
After a short pause, Ringo knocks a few more times. "She's getting up." Yuzuki says before Ringo goes for another round of knocking. I'm glad she did so, I'm a little concerned about Ringo accidentally breaking something poorly built like this.
"Who is it?" The door is slid open by an adult woman with long brown hair, probably a human. She definitely looks like she just woke up, with her well worn dress still awkwardly bunched around her legs and one of her hands reaching up to rub her eyes.
"Good morning!" Ringo greets her happily.
"Rabbits?" The woman asks sleepily once she gets a good look at Ringo. "If Tewi sent you, can we do it later?"
"Nope, we weren't sent here at all. We're just looking for directions." Ringo says.
"Huh?" The woman is confused for a moment. "Oh, are you lost?" She asks.
"Nope. Not exactly lost. I'm Ringo, and this is Seiran, Yuzuki, and Chiyo," Ringo introduces all of us. "We're not from around here, so we don't know exactly where we're going. We've recently been forced out of our home, so we're looking for where the other rabbits live to see what they've got going on."
"Hmm..." The woman looks at us, seeming confused for a moment, but gets over it quickly. "So, Eientei then?" She asks.
Ringo shrugs. "Right, sure, if that's where the other rabbits live." She says.
"I don't actually know how to get to Eientei, you should go talk to Miss Fujiwara." The woman suggests. She seems ready to end the conversation there, but Ringo continues it quickly.
"Oh, see, we'd do that, but we're not from around here. We don't know who that is or where she is." Ringo says patiently. "If you could point us to her, we would go talk to her though."
The woman sighs. "Well, she's probably not in on it at least..." She mumbles to herself before speaking out loud again. "It's a little difficult to give directions. I suppose I can lead you to her house though."
"I mean, that'd be great too." Ringo shrugs.
"Fine." The woman says, somewhat reluctantly. "I'll say again though, if Tewi put you up to this, could you please leave? It's too early for pranks."
"I don't know who Tewi is either. We're not lying to you, promise." Ringo assures her.
"Well, okay then," The woman responds, she doesn't sound very convinced, but I guess she wants to get this over with. "Give me a moment."
The woman closes the door, and I use the opportunity to go over the conversation in my head. There was a lot of info in there, and I feel like most of it was given out like it was common knowledge for earth rabbits. There were names there that are probably pretty important. Tewi, Fujiwara, and Eientei specifically. The woman didn't actually give her name though.
This woman seems to be convinced that we're trying to pull some prank on her for some reason. Thinking about it, that makes some sense though. If she's a human living near youkai rabbits, they probably mess with her fairly regularly, since that's what youkai are supposed to do. We don't really have a way to convince her we're not looking to mess with her though. I guess we'll have to live with her being a bit suspicious of us for now.
The door opens again and the woman steps out, seemingly unchanged from before other than the fact that she's now wearing shoes. "It's a bit of a walk, and Miss Fujiwara may not actually be there right now." She says as she comes outside. She closes and locks her door before turning and looking at us.
"That's fine, thanks for the help!" Ringo says happily. She's probably come to the same conclusion that I have. We're not really going to be able to convince her of our innocence, she'll have to see it for herself when nothing bad happens. Well, hopefully nothing bad will happen anyway. And if not, it won't be our fault.
"You're welcome..." The woman says somewhat awkwardly before turning to the side. "This way then."
I guess I can use this walk through the forest as a chance to try and get information.
[ ] Ask who the woman is [ ] Ask who Miss Fujiwara is [ ] Ask who Tewi is [ ] Ask about the other rabbits [ ] Ask about Eientei [ ] Ask about the forest [ ] Ask about something else
[X] Ask who the woman is [X] Ask who Miss Fujiwara is [X] Ask who Tewi is
I try to be pleasant and continue the conversation as we start moving through the forest. It's not that easy to do though, since it's kind of awkward to try and maneuver through all these stalks of bamboo while talking. "So I don't think you said your name."
Even if she thinks we're from around here, she hasn't actually met us before, so it's a fair question I think. "It's Kagerou," The woman says as she easily twists herself between some bamboo. She seems to be having an easier time of it than I am by keeping crouched lower to the ground and moving on her arms and legs, kind of like an animal. It looks a little weird, and I would think that that dress would normally inhibit moving like that, but it seems to be working for her. "Kagerou Imaizumi."
I stop myself from giving my name in response because I remember that Ringo already did. I want to keep the conversation going though. "And you live by yourself out here?" I ask.
"Hm? Yeah." Kagerou responds easily, as if it was no big deal.
I ask the obvious follow up question. "Isn't that dangerous for a lone human?" I mean, I also live in a forest right now, but I'm not alone, and we have plenty of ways to protect ourselves from youkai.
"Well I'm not... Well, I guess I am, but... It's complicated." Kagerou stumbles a bit over her answer, not really even answering. "I've been fine living out here for a while anyway."
I guess I'll take her word for it. There's obviously more to her situation, but I'm not really in a position to press her for more information. Even if it was any of my business, which it's not, she doesn't seem likely to share. If anything I should be glad that this human is even willing to help us, since Ringo said that humans weren't too crazy about youkai.
"And this Miss Fujiwara you're taking us to go see, who is she?" I decide to shift the focus of the conversation off of Kagerou since she doesn't seem like she wants to talk about herself.
"Hm?" Kagerou seems like she didn't expect that from me, even though I think it's a perfectly fair question. "Oh, maybe you've only heard of her as Mokou."
I guess she's still assuming that we're lying about not being locals. "Uh, no. We haven't heard of her at all." I answer.
Kagerou pauses for a bit as she crawls under a low stalk of bamboo. "Well, she's the human who helps guide other humans get to Eientei." She says after she's through.
"Is it really so difficult to get there that people would need a guide? There's nothing magically misleading in this forest." Yuzuki speaks up from behind me as I move under the bamboo. She probably hasn't noticed it because it's the kind of thing that her power would cover for, but this place is actually a little bit disorienting to walk through. The ground is pretty much always flat, but the way that all the bamboo grows at random angles all crisscrossing over itself messes with your depth perception somewhat. I can kind of see why humans would have a hard time going through. Heck, I would probably have a hard time with it if I wasn't being guided by someone.
"Eientei was magically hidden up until a while ago, but I guess you're right about that now. If somebody was desperate enough they could find it on their own, but they'd be a lot better off asking Miss Fujiwara for help. She just knows how to get there and can keep them safe on the way." Kagerou pauses to explain as the rest of us crawl under the low bamboo. "Now that I think about it, I'm not actually sure how she knows how to get there. I guess she's just been there enough times to remember the way."
"And you haven't?" Chiyo asks.
"I've only been there once," Kagerou replies, starting to lead us again. "From what I hear, Miss Fujiwara is there frequently, both with other humans and by herself."
Well I guess that means we're at least going to be able to ask the right person for the job then. Given how annoying it has been to move through so far, I would hate to spend all day in this forest, looking for a place we have no information on. Being directly taken there is a way more efficient use for our time.
"Do we have to pay her or anything?" Ringo asks. Oh, I guess I hadn't really thought about that. Actually I wonder if Ringo has any money left over after yesterday, since she's the only one of us who has even thought about getting Earth money.
"No, I've never heard anything like that," Kagerou assures us. "She does have to be available today though. I've heard she hasn't been around a lot of the time lately. Maybe it'd be more likely for her to be around in the morning though, I don't know exactly what she's been up to."
"What should we do if she's not here?" I ask. I guess we could just fly out of here and come back later, but without knowing where 'here' is exactly, that might be a bit of a pain.
"Hmm..." Kagerou has to consider it for a moment. "Wait there I guess? Either she'll come back or Tewi will come find you. I really don't know the way to Eientei."
"We're really not from here," I try to stress again. "Tewi wouldn't come looking for us. We don't even know who that is."
"Really?" Kagerou asks.
"Hmm..." Kagerou turns back to look at me for a moment. Is there a good way to look like you're not lying when you're not? Maybe being to conscious of trying to convince someone you're telling the truth makes it less believable or something. I don't know. "Sorry about that then." She says. I'm still not sure if she believes it though.
"So who is Tewi?" Yuzuki asks for me.
"Tewi is the head rabbit, as she's pretty proud of telling people. She keeps track of the rabbits, gives them orders, and manages everything for them around here." Kagerou explains. She doesn't sound as cautious now, so either she's convinced, or she's given up on trying to guilt us into telling what she thinks is the truth. "She's also kind of a jerk."
Ringo laughs slightly at that. "Kinda caught that you didn't like her."
"I just hate that she keeps doing all these pranks. I know it's her that keeps setting up dumb traps all over the forest for some reason. It's not like anyone could or would hunt here with her around. She's also tried to get me to give her protection money for no reason a couple of times." Kagerou starts venting. I guess I did ask for it.
"Is that the kind of stuff that youkai normally do to humans?" I ask. I'm pretty sure it isn't. I think there's usually more actual malice than that. Unless danmaku rules make it so they have to be like that I guess. I don't know.
"Not all youkai are like that." Kagerou answers quickly. She almost sounds a bit defensive for whatever reason.
"But Tewi apparently is." Chiyo says.
"Apparently so, yeah," Kagerou goes back to her normal tone again. "Anyway, if you're really not from Eientei, you'll have to talk to Tewi. She doesn't look very impressive, but she knows pretty much every other rabbit, and would want to meet you."
If that's the case, I actually wonder how this Tewi person would react to us. I guess there's not really any way to know before trying. It sounds like she makes it a point to know about all the rabbit youkai in Gensokyo though, so we would definitely be something new and interesting to her in some way.
After a bit more walking, Kagerou finally comes to a stop when the bamboo begins to thin. "We're here." She says, before suddenly backing up a bit when she notices something. "Oh! It looks like she has company."
We're at the edge of another artificially created clearing. Very similar to the one that Kagerou's house was in only pretty much everything seems nicer. The bamboo was cleared away more completely, the grass around the area seems to be actually taken care of, and the house sitting on the side of the area seems well constructed and maintained. I kind of wonder if Kagerou saw this at one point and decided to emulate it for building her own house, then found out that she didn't have the expertise to do it. This place looks much more permanent and comfortable to live in. At least until you consider how deep we are in the middle of a giant forest I guess.
"We can go wherever you want, you know?" I hear a woman's voice coming from the porch on the side of the house. There are two girls sitting there, seemingly just relaxing and talking in the middle of nowhere. From the angle I'm at, I can only really see the first one, who has long white hair and is wearing bright red pants covered with white patches and a plain white shirt.
"Well I don't want to go anywhere today," The second girl responds as she gets up. Once she gets up, I can see that she has two brown pigtails that go down to her shoulders and is wearing a black hat and red glasses, though the rest of her clothes are obscured by a long black cape. She quickly takes a seat the first girl. "I'm tired of tours and exploring for now. I just want to chill."
"Chill, huh? I guess that's fine if it's just that..." The first girl says casually as the second one begins playing with her hair. "Are you having fun back there?"
"What? It's so pretty," The second girl pulls the first girl's hair into a large ponytail, then lets it all go. "Nobody at home has hair like this. Was it always this color?"
"Nah, I guess it just changed at some point," The first girl tries to lean backwards, but is stopped when the second one holds her up so she can start braiding some of her hair. "Can't really remember when."
"It's interesting. Could do with some maintenance though. If I was able to actually come here I'd bring you some kind of shampoo or something to wash it with."
"Hmm, I dunno if I'd know how to use whatever that is."
"You just wash your hair with it." The second girl idly undoes the braid she had been working on before it was really complete.
"I hope you're not just trying to get me in the bath with you." The first girl smirks and successfully leans back this time, before the other starts messing with her hair again.
"Pfft," The second one laughs lightly. "Yeah right."
Are they... Flirting?
[ ] Let's not interrupt them. - [ ] We should leave them alone for a while. - [ ] ... I'm a little interested in watching. [ ] Better to interrupt them now than later. We don't know how long this will take otherwise.
[X] Let's not interrupt them. - [X] ... I'm a little interested in watching.
I'm not really sure which one of these girls is the one we came here to talk to. I mean, it's pretty obvious that one of them is Fujiwara. There isn't really any other conclusion to come to considering that we were lead here by someone else. I guess I can just ask though. Then we can decide what to do from there.
I turn to Kagerou, who has also been watching those girls talk. "Is that Miss Fujiwara?" I ask quietly. I think Kagerou said that her name is actually Mokou, but always referred to her as Miss Fujiwara. I get the idea of last names, even though I don't have one, I just think it feels unnecessarily formal. I'd rather think of people by their first names. I guess it's a cultural thing.
"Yes," Kagerou says back, also trying to stay quiet. Before I can ask the obvious follow up question, she clarifies. "The one with the white hair."
"So who's the other one?" Ringo asks, stepping up next to me and leaning out of the tree line (bamboo line? stalk line?) for a look.
Kagerou shakes her head. "I don't know," She answers. "I've never seen her before."
"Looks like they're pretty close," Ringo says. I think that's probably fair to say considering how Mokou is pretty much laying in the other girl's lap at this point. "You think they're dating?" That might be a bit more of an assumption.
"I don't know, I've never heard anything about it," Kagerou says, pausing slightly as she looks over at the girls again. "I guess that would make sense though. Miss Fujiwara has been away from her house a lot lately, so maybe she's spending time with this other girl."
I feel like it might be bad to admit it, but I'm curious. Like I've said before, dating wasn't really allowed in the military, so I think that's a fair reason for me to want to see what it's about. Not that it's necessarily all that important to me personally since it's still against the rules and all, but uh... I mean, I'm still curious. There shouldn't be anything wrong with that. I am supposed to be gathering information after all! "Let's wait until they're done." I suggest quietly to the others.
"Agreed." Ringo says, turning to watch. I guess she's as interested as I am. Actually, Kagerou seems to be curious too, so it's not just us rabbits I guess.
Speaking of us rabbits, I turn back to look at the others, who seem a bit less enthusiastic. Chiyo seems entirely uninterested and finds a spot to sit down, I guess she's fine with waiting it out. Yuzuki rolls her eyes and occupies herself fiddling with some of the small branches on the nearby bamboo, apparently dissatisfied with their pattern. I guess she can watch without actually looking though, so maybe she's just pretending to not be interested.
We had been discussing over a bit of the girls' conversation, so we missed some of it, but it seems like we start paying attention again between topics anyway. They're still sitting in the same position on the porch, facing away from us. "So, you gonna come less often then?" Mokou asks.
"Huh?" The other girl had apparently still been fiddling with Mokou's hair, and either didn't hear or didn't really understand the reason for the question.
"Just thinking, if you're tired of looking around then are you gonna come to Gensokyo less often?" Mokou clarifies.
"No way!" The other girl cheerfully refuses. "I'm just taking a break for today. I'll definitely keep popping back in whenever I can after this. It's not like I have anything better to do when I sleep."
"You say that, but aren't you supposed to be in school right now?" Mokou asks.
"Ah..." It hadn't really seemed very accusing, but the other girl still sounds a bit embarrassed by that. "Well, kinda."
Mokou chuckles slightly. "Well, I can't make you do anything anyway." She says dismissively.
"Right, and besides, if I only came here when I normally slept then I couldn't explore as much," Well, at least she seems to recover from embarrassment quickly. "Night time still kinda creeps me out a bit after my first trip here, even if I can't actually get killed this time."
"Eh it's not so dangerous once you get used to it and you know what to watch out for," Mokou says casually. "You're strong on your own, and if you're scared you can just come get me. I'll watch out for you."
"My hero." The way it's said, I can't tell if the girl is trying to be sarcastic or not. I guess that's probably on purpose.
Mokou doesn't seem bothered by it though. "Heh, Well somebody should probably keep you out of trouble, and keep you from causing it too."
The girl huffs slightly at that. "I already said I'm not causing any more incidents." She says, sounding slightly indignant as she idly twirls Mokou's hair around her fingers.
"What happened with that anyway?" Mokou asks. "I know Reimu chewed you out about making her work, but did anything else happen after that?"
"I guess Mamizou was supposed to be keeping track of me when I came to visit, but since I was coming so often she decided it was a pain."
"And what'd they do with the occult balls?" Mokou asks. Wait, I've heard of occult balls before. I read about this in the paper.
"All but one of them came back out before I did, and I can't use them again without a full set, even if it wouldn't get me in trouble. I don't know who has the last ball either. I guess probably Reimu, Marisa, or Kasen." The girl explains. "Why, you want to come visit the outside again?" Okay, they kinda lost me again.
"That might be interesting. Probably a ton of stuff to do out there." Mokou says casually, stretching slightly and unintentionally interrupting the other girl's fiddling with her hair.
"A ton of very fun stuff, yeah." The girl responds slyly. There's some odd emphasis on the word fun in there.
"I didn't mean it like that and you know it." Mokou responds bluntly.
"Hm? What do you mean? I am a perfectly innocent high school girl, did you think I meant something inappropriate?" The girl asks happily, humming slightly as she feigns ignorance.
Mokou sighs, apparently okay with letting it drop. "I guess it might be a lot of trouble though. The balls would just make people have to fight a bunch more, and all those urban legends would show up again."
"Oh? Don't you think I'm worth it? I think I'm worth it." The girl asks, sounding exaggeratedly hopeful.
"Hmm..." Mokou cranes her neck back to look up at the other girl's face as she thinks about her response. "Maybe." She says after a moment.
The other girl giggles at the response, but doesn't say anything. After a short moment of the two just looking at each other, the other girl leans down over Mokou quickly. I guess this kind of thing is more normal than I'm used to, but I'm still surprised when I see it. They actually just kissed! It was a quick affectionate peck, but it definitely happened.
Mokou sits up quickly when the two separate. She doesn't seem all that surprised or flustered, but also doesn't look she's in a romantic mood at the moment either. "Hey-" She starts talking, but is suddenly interrupted when a loud beeping noise starts coming from somewhere.
"Ah, crap," The girl scrambles, reaching into her pocket and pulling out some small black rectangle thing. She pushes on it with her finger a bit and the beeping stops. "Uh, sorry."
Mokou sighs. "Time to wake up?" She asks, apparently okay with just dropping whatever she was previously going to say.
"Yeah, I can't really skip my next class," The girl shoves the device back into her pocket. "Should I come back after school?" She asks hopefully.
"Are you gonna do your homework first?" Mokou asks back.
The girl looks strangely relieved. "S-Sure!" She responds quickly. "Homework first, then I'll come back."
"Sure, if you want to." Mokou sits up fully, letting the girl get up from behind her.
"I definitely do!" She says as she gets hops up. She seems to move quickly and lightly, almost skipping as she moves away from the porch. She does a quick twirl to turn back toward Mokou, but abruptly stops when she faces toward where the other rabbits and I are watching from. Oh. Uh-oh.
I can see the girl's eyes widen and a blush grow on her face as she notices us. "Uh-uhm! Ahem!" She stammers out quickly. "Mokou, I think you have guests! I'lltalktoyoulaterokaybye!" She calls out before quickly fading away, seeming to become invisible. I'd be more concerned about how she did that, but I'm a little preoccupied with the fact that we've suddenly been found out. Mokou turns and looks to where the other girl had been looking, and quickly notices us.
Okay, we were definitely just spying on what was probably a rather private moment between two people. In this kind of situation, the best way to handle getting caught would be to...
[ ] Apologize, we didn't mean to spy. (Well, okay, I guess we did) [ ] Feign ignorance, we didn't see anything. [ ] Act natural, it was no big deal. [ ] Hide. Guests? What guests? [ ] Shift the blame. Ringo, I can't believe you would spy on people!
Okay, I think I can handle this. This isn't even that bad of a situation compared to some of the situations we've had over the past few days. I didn't need to freak out about things then and I don't need to freak out now. There are plenty of ways to handle this.
The first idea that comes to mind is to just pretend we never saw anything. We could have just now got here, there's no way for Mokou to really disprove that if we say it. That would work, but I'm kind of feeling a little tired of lying to everyone that I talk to. I mean, I'm already going to have to do the lie for our earth rabbit cover story, but that doesn't mean that I like it. I guess that makes me naive or stupid or whatever you want to call me. I stand by it though.
I think instead we should just treat this as not a big deal. People dating other people is normal here, at least more than it is on the moon, so we should treat it that way. There's no reason to avoid just acting natural. I decide to try and set the mood of the conversation as positively as I can. "Hello!" I call out, trying to sound pleasant. I don't really do that tone all that much though, so maybe it comes across as forced. I hope not.
Mokou initially does look a little annoyed, but it goes away quickly. It's replaced by a look that seems to be more confused than anything else. I guess maybe she wasn't expecting more company or something. "Hello." She answers back after a short pause.
I glance over to see if Kagerou is going to introduce us or anything. Actually, wait, where did Kageoru go? Did she run away when we got caught? Ugh, okay fine. I admit that the thought of doing that did cross my mind, but it didn't seem like it would be productive. I guess we're going to have to handle this without any help. "Uh, just a second." I figure I should step out of the bamboo so I don't have to yell this conversation across the clearing.
As I walk to get closer to Mokou, I notice that the other rabbits are all following me, so I guess I've been volunteered to be in charge of the conversation now. Why do they always leave these things up to me? One of these times I should just stay in the back and let somebody else take the lead. Everybody else is just as capable of talking as I am! Most of the time anyway. Oh well.
By the time I've finished my internal mini-rant, we've reached a more comfortable speaking distance from Mokou. She had gotten up from her porch and walked towards us as well, so we're just in the middle of the clearing now. I guess I should get things started. "So, sorry if our timing was bad or anything." I can't keep myself from apologizing at least a little bit.
Now that she's standing up and not talking to somebody she obviously likes, Mokou seems a much less enthusiastic. Not that she was acting hyper or anything before, but with her hands in her pockets and her shoulders slightly slumped like that, she definitely doesn't seem like she's going to be all that talkative. She sighs lightly. "It's fine. She was leaving anyway. What do you guys need?"
She's being somewhat familiar, so I guess she's already assuming that we're part of the Earth rabbits that live here. "Well, we're rabbit youkai from around the mountain. We were looking for the other rabbits that we've heard live around here, and Kagerou told us we should talk to you so you could lead us to... Eientei?" I know I'm pronouncing it right, but I still act like I'm not sure just to drive home that I don't know what that place is.
Mokou's brow furrows slightly. "Huh... I didn't know there were more rabbits around. Thought Tewi rounded them all up a long time ago." She says.
Kagerou said something like that before too, I guess there really aren't any other rabbits somehow. "Well uh... Here we are anyway, so I guess not." I say, probably a bit less confidently than I should have. I can't really give any proof of anything because what I'm saying is actually false though.
"Hm." Mokou seems to accept it anyway. I think she has questions still, but doesn't end up asking them. Instead she moves on to a different question. "Is Kagerou not here then?"
Okay, I can at least be honest on this. "Yeah... She was just here but, I actually didn't see when she left." I answer.
"She started running when the other girl noticed us." Ringo adds on. She was standing closer to Kagerou than I was, so I guess it was easier for her to notice.
Mokou makes a small 'tsk' noise with her tongue. "Damn, I wanted to talk to her about next week. Oh well," She shrugs before moving on. "So I guess you guys were here for some time before Sumireko noticed you..."
Okay, just act natural here. I'm hoping she'll agree that it wasn't anything to get upset about. "I wasn't going to make a big deal about it or anything, but yes."
Mokou looks at me and seems like she's about to say something, but then shakes her head. "Yeah, okay. 'Preciate it." Okay, that went well then. She doesn't seem upset, though it doesn't look like it's a subject she really wants to continue with either. Fine by me.
"So, about Eientei?" I prompt her.
Mokou nods. "Yeah, I can lead you there just fine. Come on," She says and then immediately starts walking away from her house. I was kind of expecting a bit more instruction than that, but I guess not. "What are you going there for?" She asks back to us as we move to follow.
Looks like it's time for part two of the lie we've been telling everyone. "Well, our home was recently destroyed, so when we heard that there were other rabbits here we thought it might help us if we met up with them." I explain. Ringo and I try to keep close to Mokou for ease of conversation, while Yuzuki and Chiyo follow behind. I won't really complain about it though, it might be uncomfortable if everyone tried to stay close together, and Yuzuki probably wants to focus on learning the area as much as she can.
"Hm, yeah, Tewi'll help you out on that," Mokou says. "Provided she's around at least. I don't think she's on a schedule."
As Mokou leads us, I notice that the path we're taking seems much more well worn than the one that Kagerou had taken us on. It's not as if this is a properly laid road or anything, but there's definitely been more effort put in towards making the trip from Mokou's house to Eintei easier than the trip from Kagerou's house to Mokou's. Patches of bamboo and other foliage seem to have been cleared out, sometimes by hand and some other times apparently by fire. Regardless of the method though, I can definitely appreciate that we don't have to maneuver around as much plant life as we go through the bamboo forest.
As for Mokou herself, she seems pretty content to stay tight lipped the whole walk. She occasionally glances back to make sure we're still following along, but doesn't seem all that interested in keeping up conversation. Eventually Ringo makes a point to do introductions, but aside from that we don't get very much out of Mokou. I just think that the contrast between how she is with us and how she was when she was talking to her girlfriend is a little surprising. I guess that's what being in a relationship is like, not that I would know.
I don't actually know anything about Eientei, but it's pretty easy to guess when we get close. There's a huge clearing mostly closed off by large bamboo fences. The path that we're on appears to lead directly to the main entrance into the area, where the opening in the fence reveals a huge Japanese style mansion. I imagine it wouldn't be too hard for a lot of rabbits to live in that kind of building, but it seems a little too flashy for rabbits to me. Maybe it's a cultural thing.
Mokou comes to a stop a ways away from the entrance. "Well, here it is." She says unenthusiastically. I guess she's pretty used to this. "If you guys are going to be joining up with the other rabbits, then I'll probably see you around occasionally." She adds, turning to start walking away.
"Wait that's all?" Ringo asks. I kinda share the thought there. This seems a little bit sudden to just drop us off here, or maybe I'm just nervous.
"Well, yeah," Mokou says, sounding like it should be obvious. "Did you need something else?"
"Uh... No." Ringo reluctantly admits.
"Good, 'cause I can't really do much more for you anyway," Mokou laughs slightly. "It'd probably cause more problems than anything if I went in there with you, and I don't want to deal with her today. Just look around for Tewi or any of the other rabbits, somebody will be around that can help you."
I guess that's that then. I'm not sure what we were expecting honestly. Mokou has done pretty much exactly what Kagerou said she would do. She guided us to this place. At least we'll probably be able to get here on our own in the future. Well, Yuzuki probably can at least, so we can just follow her. "Well, thank you very much for your help." I say to her, bowing slightly.
Mokou nods to me. "See you around then," She says casually as she turns to walk away. I guess it's just us rabbits again. Well, we at least know that we should be searching specifically for a rabbit named Tewi. We just have to decide how to go about that.
There is one big concern that I've been thinking of though. It seems like there really aren't any other Earth rabbits around than the ones here. We've heard it from Kagerou and Mokou already, I mean, even Aya said something kinda similar. When we're talking to the leader of all the other Earth rabbits, it might be a bit difficult to keep the cover story that we've been using up until now believable. It gets even worse if it turns out that Reisen is actually here. We may want to upfront with things before we're caught in a lie.
If we talk to anyone, we should...
[ ] Keep the cover story [ ] Drop the cover story
As for what to do...
[ ] Head inside [ ] Walk around outside the building [ ] Sneak around the area, try to get information but avoid being noticed
Well, not so much directly drop it as stick only to the things that are true. "Where we were living was damaged by the incident" and "We had no idea there were other rabbits here" are fine, but don't go saying "We're normal earth rabbits".
[X] Walk around outside the building
Innocent strangers just having a look around because we heard there were rabbits here.
I pause at the entrance to the area. I don't know if anybody else is thinking what I'm thinking, so I should probably bring it up. "So about the cover story we've been using," I start, turning back towards the others. It should be fine to just have this conversation in the open. Yuzuki will mention if anyone is within earshot. "We might want to just be honest here."
"Hm? Why do you say that? I was thinking we wouldn't need to do that unless we actually found Reisen." Ringo sounds surprised at my suggestion, which is a little odd. I kind of figured that she would have thought through the information we've gotten today just like I have but I guess not.
"We'll just look like liars if we say that we're earth rabbits. It sounds like this Tewi person would know us if we were. I just think that we should start things off on the right foot." I explain.
"Mokou said that Tewi rounded all the earth rabbits up a long time ago. It's believable to tell other people that she missed us, but she would know we were lying if she was actually thorough," Yuzuki adds, pausing from casually surveying the area. I guess she's on my side for this.
Ringo considers things a bit. "Hm, I guess that's true. We don't know how long a long time ago was though." She doesn't seem like she's actually arguing that much, so I think she's already convinced, she's just pointing things out.
"Doesn't really matter. If it was a long time ago then that just means she would have rounded up the parents we would have had." Chiyo points out. I hadn't actually been thinking about that, but she's right. There's that whole impurity of birth and death thing here on Earth that the Lunarians always hate.
"Oh yeah..." I guess Ringo hadn't really been thinking about it either. It's not something that comes up much on the moon, especially for us rabbits, so I don't blame her. "Alright, we can be honest here I guess." She shrugs.
I'm actually pretty relieved. I might be acting overly sensitive about it, but I really haven't liked lying to everyone we've been meeting. Most of them seem like pretty nice people that I wouldn't mind talking to, but keeping up the cover story means that I've had to been on my guard all the time. I mean, I guess I still probably won't be able to be completely open, but every little bit helps.
"So I guess we should just head inside then?" Ringo suggests, now that my issue is out of the way. She moves in front of the rest of us, stepping closer to the building.
"I guess so," I agree, though we should probably check around the area, just in case. "Unless there's somebody around outside?" I ask, turning towards Yuzuki. She's just so convenient for these kinds of things.
Yuzuki glances around again, but just shrugs afterwards. "I haven't noticed anyone, no, but I'd need some more time to be completely certain."
"Eh, let's just go in then," Ringo decides casually. "We were led here because Tewi is supposed to be here. If she's not outside we'll just have to go in and find her."
"And if she's away doing something else?" Chiyo asks. It's not like we contacted anyone ahead of time, this Tewi person could be busy.
"Well I doubt every single rabbit will be gone from the place. We'll figure it out," Ringo answers nonchalantly as she walks up to the entrance of the mansion. I feel like Ringo might be a little bit too confident here. Maybe it's just because everything has been working out pretty well so far. "Door's open." She calls back to us as she opens the sliding door. The rest of us hurry to catch up as Ringo slowly enters.
The inside of the building looks just about how I expected from seeing the outside. A lot of the older buildings on the moon also draw from this kind of traditional Japanese style of architecture, so it's not exactly new to me. The entryway that we step into is really just a normal hallway, bordered with a couple of closed rooms on either side before turning off and going deeper into the mansion itself. I'm not sure if it would be a good idea to just start opening doors at random, but we don't exactly have another plan.
"Hello?" Ringo calls out, I guess trying not to be too rude with our investigation. "Is anyone home?"
There's no immediate answer from inside the building, but Chiyo still finds something. She taps on Ringo's shoulder and points over to the wall to our right. There's a sign hanging up just next to the door. The main text says "Waiting Room", with a line under it saying "Please ring the bell if no one is present to assist you."
Ringo reads the sign and shrugs. "Okay, guess we can give that a shot." She says, opening the door and casually walking into the room.
Inside is a decently sized waiting room, with chairs lining three of the four walls. There's a small table in the center with a few newspapers and small books neatly laid out on it. On the left wall is a sliding glass window, left open to reveal an unoccupied office space, I guess for a receptionist. Further away on the left wall is large door, which doesn't at all seem to match the Japanese style of the rest of the room, since it seems to be made of metal.
While I'm looking around the room, Ringo immediately walks over to the receptionist window and dings the small bell that sits there. "Ringo!" Yuzuki and I both exclaim at the same time.
"What? The sign said to," Ringo explains herself, leaning against the window and watching the inside for any movement. There doesn't seem to be any. "This should get somebody out here that we can talk to." I guess that's true, but still...
Well, I guess I can't make Ringo undo ringing the bell, so I just let it go with a sigh. Might as well wait and see what the result is. When I look, Chiyo has already sat down in a chair along the right hand wall, looking through one of the newspapers. Yuzuki and I move to join her.
"Ringo's being careless." Yuzuki quietly hisses to me after a minute or two of waiting. She seems a bit annoyed, but also rather serious.
"Are we in trouble?" I tense up as I ask the question. Yuzuki seems to be in a more serious mood, so she's probably detected something that we don't know about. I consider our escape options. The door to the hallway isn't closed, so we should be able to get out if there's trouble.
"Not exactly, I haven't noticed anyone at all yet, which seems a little odd in itself," Yuzuki explains. "We're definitely being watched though. There's a security system. I noticed one at the doorstep too, but there's definitely cameras set up in here."
"Isn't that too high tech for Gensokyo?" I ask. It wouldn't be at all weird for the moon, but I've never heard of anything like that here on Earth. Not that I've been to all that many places that weren't mountain wilderness.
"Could be kappa made," Yuzuki suggests. That's probably likely. They seemed advanced enough to make something like that. "Too small to have any markings though, and the wires go farther than I can see right now. I don't know why they'd set something like this up in here though."
Yeah that does seem a little strange. If they were trying to protect something shouldn't they have locked their doors while they weren't here? "What's behind that other door?" I ask. Maybe there's something important in there.
"Hm..." Yuzuki focuses for a moment. "Another hallway, then a clinic room." She answers.
A clinic room? "So this is a doctor's office?" I ask.
"I guess it must be. Seems like a weird place to put one. How would they even get patients if those patients would need Miss Fujiwara to guide them here?" Yuzuki asks.
That's a good question, but it's one I wouldn't have the answer to even if it weren't rhetoric. Instead I just add my own question. "Why would we get led to a doctor's office when we were looking for rabbits?"
"I'm not sure, I feel like we need more information about this place." Yuzuki says. It's a conclusion I feel like we're running into a lot. We always need more information.
This place does seem a little odd, but I guess I probably shouldn't have just assumed this was going to be a normal mansion that just happened to have rabbits in it. Kagerou probably would have mentioned that this was a doctor's office if I had asked about it, and she did mention coming here before, so it's probably a legitimate clinic. Maybe the doctor here is just good at helping youkai rabbits and that's why they live around here or something. That seems pretty niche, but I guess we don't always get to choose what we're good at.
As I think about it, there's a short buzzing sound from inside the receptionist's office, then a loud click as the door on the far side of the room swings open. Like Yuzuki said, there's a hallway inside. That's all there is though, nobody opened the door, it happened automatically.
"Soo... I guess we go in?" Ringo asks. She sounds a bit less apprehensive than I feel. I could just be worrying about nothing though. I may do that from time to time.
[ ] Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Go in the door. [ ] Let's not. - [ ] It might be a little rude, but let's skip the waiting room and check the rest of the mansion by ourselves. - [ ] If nobody's here to stop us, let's look through the receptionist's office for info. - [ ] Let's go back outside. We came here for to find rabbits, not to go to the doctor.
[X] Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Go in the door.
On the one hand, this is pretty suspicious. Somebody is obviously watching us through the security cameras they have set up. They're also directly inviting us to come inside by opening the door. Despite their obvious interest in us though, whoever it seems to think that it's fine to not show themselves and try to talk. I don't know if they just want to have the upper hand in the situation or they think we're hostile or what, but it just makes me think that we're not dealing with Tewi, who we've never met and who has no reason to avoid us.
On the other hand though, this is probably the quickest way to make something happen. I guess we could just follow the wires in the security devices to find out who's watching us, but that would be a slow and obvious process. We could also try snooping around for some more information, but that might not pan out either. It might be best to just play into this game for now, knowing that whoever is watching doesn't have as much of an upper hand as they think they do.
"We might as well give it a shot I guess." I answer to Ringo while getting up from my chair. I walk over to Ringo while Yuzuki follows me somewhat apprehensively. I'm a little surprised that she isn't calling me careless as well, but I guess she's the one who said we still need more information.
"Chi, come on." Yuzuki calls back after a moment. It looks like Chiyo would have just kept reading her newspaper if Yuzuki hadn't prompted her to get up.
Chiyo sighs and drops the newspaper back on the table. I can see Yuzuki twitch slightly at the messy way it lands, but she doesn't say anything. I think she knows that Chiyo did it on purpose.
The hallway is exactly what I was expecting from Yuzuki's description. I guess that's kind of obvious considering she had no reason to lie but whatever. It's just a plain hallway, with one door on the left that must lead into the receptionist's office, and another door on the far side that leads into a clinical examination room.
"So uh, anybody feeling sick?" Ringo asks jokingly as she walks down the hallway and into the exam room.
"I'm pretty sure we're all fine," I answer her rhetorical question as I follow along. Talking to Ringo specifically does bring up a question that I could ask though. "Actually, did they have doctor's offices like this in the village Ringo?"
The examination clinic is probably a little small to have four people using it at the same time, but it seems like it would be just fine for a one on one appointment. There's an examination table in the center, as well as various cupboards and pieces of equipment along the walls. On the far side of the room next to another door is a small desk with some neatly stacked papers sitting on a clipboard.
Ringo starts poking around the room idly looking at pieces of equipment as she thinks. "Hm, I'm pretty sure they did, yeah." She answers. I guess she probably didn't go in any of them even if they were there, so they might not have left much of an impression.
"That makes even less sense then," Yuzuki interrupts. She's a bit less interested in looking around than anybody else, but I guess that's not surprising. "Why have an office here if there are already some in the village? How are they going to get patients out here?"
Oh, this is something that I thought about a little bit earlier. "I was thinking maybe it's a doctor that only works on youkai rabbits." Actually now that I say it out loud it sounds even dumber. I would be pretty okay with the others ignoring I said anything.
"I don't think that's a popular medical specialization." Chiyo says plainly as she pumps up a blood pressure monitor hanging on the wall. Okay, that's less laughing at me than I was expecting at least.
"Chiyo, stop messing with that." Yuzuki moves to keep Chiyo from playing with stuff while Ringo finishes her look around the room.
"Well, this isn't exactly what I was expecting." Ringo plops herself down on the examination table and sighs in annoyance.
"What were you expecting, immediate answers?" I ask. I don't know if I'm seriously asking her the question or not. I guess she could have thought things were just going to work out easily. That might be a bit too optimistic even for her though.
"Expecting and hoping aren't the same thing." Ringo doesn't really answer the question. "Well, what now?"
I really should be used to it by now, but I don't know why she keeps asking me these things. "Uh, can we use that other door?" I suggest, pointing across the room.
"Locked." Yuzuki says automatically without turning away from Chiyo.
"Ooh, called it." Ringo says triumphantly. You didn't actually call it Ringo.
"What's in there?" I turn away from Ringo to ask.
Yuzuki pauses for a moment. "It's an operating room. Mostly more heavy medical equipment and stuff for actual surgery." Okay, so not really anywhere that I want to be. Not that I'm that crazy about being in any part of a doctor's office honestly.
"And for my second prediction, I'll guess that there's nobody in there," Ringo says, pretending to be dramatic. Yuzuki reluctantly nods, which makes Ringo smile, but her enthusiasm fades quickly. "Well, whoever is let us in here did it for a reason, ball's in their court now, we can't force anything to happen. We'll just have to wait for them." She decides, laying back across the table.
I guess it's true that that's the kind of situation that we opted in to. We'll just have to wait and see what comes of it.
It takes a couple of minutes before anything happens. Well, anything noteworthy I guess. Ringo and Chiyo find a box of rubber gloves and start trying to blow them up with their mouths while Yuzuki tries to get them to behave, but that's not noteworthy, just kind of amusing.
I take some time to try and look through some of the papers on the desk, but most of it is blank or randomly scrawled notes of lists of symptoms or possible treatments. I at least manage to pick up that it's not only humans being examined here. There are a few things on some symptom lists that definitely wouldn't apply to humans, at least I hope not. I'm pretty sure that humans don't have fur to lose, and even if they did, I think 'increased appetite for human flesh' would have been written a bit more dramatically.
While I continue to sort through paperwork and the others goof off, we're all interrupted by a loud noise. There's another beeping noise and a heavy thunk coming from the hallway. I'm kind of hoping that I'm wrong with what caused it, but that's probably too much to ask for. I look nervously at the source of the noise. Yup, the door we came in from just closed.
Yuzuki stands up quickly, but doesn't go anywhere. "It locked." She says quickly.
"Uh... Should we be worried?" I ask, regardless of what she's going to answer my brain starts getting a head start on 'yes' anyway. This can't possibly be anything other than bad.
"Probably," Yuzuki answers quickly. After a moment, she perks up in surprise. Her eyes widen as she practically leaps across the room towards the locked door. "Okay, yes! We need to go now."
"What's the problem?" Chiyo asks, not at all matching the anxiety that Yuzuki, and honestly probably me, are showing.
"Now!" Yuzuki answers urgently.
"Where are we going to go if you just said the door is locked?" Ringo says as she gets up and moves towards the door.
"Ringo, break it down." Yuzuki orders, moving to the side to give Ringo room.
"What?" I'm pretty sure Ringo could do it, and I wish she would, given how urgent Yuzuki thinks it is.
"Break the door down!"
"I haven't eaten any dango today." Ringo says, sounding a little embarrassed.
"Uh, what's happening?!" I would at least like to know why I'm panicking!
There's a light click from the far side of the examination room. All the excitement seems to have instantly turned to silence as the door opens slowly.
That's Eirin Yagokoro. THE Eirin Yagokoro.
The most famous medical and scientific genius to ever walk the moon. The one that is technically an exile and a fugitive, hiding from the people that we take orders from. The one that is more powerful than all of the rest of us in this room combined. The one that would be perfectly capable of killing us all to keep us from saying anything about having found her. That Eirin Yagokoro.
"I hadn't expected trained soldiers to just walk into an obvious trap so carelessly. Why have you come here?" She does not seem very happy to see us.
Hate to do this, but update will have to be delayed until probably tomorrow. Was traveling all weekend and didn't get to start writing until late tonight. I would normally just stay up until I get it done but I start a new job tomorrow as well, so it'll have to wait so I can sleep.
Also votes were pretty mixed so I decided to go with [X] Panic and [X] R-rabbits. Hope nobody is too bothered by the mixing of options.
You know, even though she's across the room, Eirin is still way too close. I know magic is pretty fast, so it doesn't make a difference, but I'd really like her to be much further away from me. The something like 380,000 kilometers that we were dealing with before was a perfectly fine distance I think. Failing that though, I would at least like to not be in the same room with her. Maybe it would help if I wasn't the rabbit that was closest to her as well.
Right! Rabbits! "Uh! R-rabbits?" I stammer out stupidly. I think I was trying to answer her question but didn't have it phrased properly in my brain before I started talking and oh shit now she's looking at me specifically why did I say anything please don't blow me up or science me to death.
"Yes?" Eirin prompts me. I don't know why I'm so intimidated by one word but holy shit help me.
"R-rabbits..." I repeat myself. I can't think correctly right now but I think it would be bad if I didn't say anything. Actually why is it always up to me? Why is nobody helping me? I am the worst at talking but they always make me do it. This is abuse. I am being abused. There are three other people here that could say anything and they're just not doing it this is not at all fair.
Okay, now she's walking towards me, this is getting worse somehow! Would it solve things if I just fainted right now? Then the others would have to say something. Is there a way to make myself faint? That would be really nice. I don't want to have to be the one who handles our encounter with the super powerful super smart Lunarian fugitive. That is like my least favorite thing to do that I can think of.
Ow. Oh I guess I had been stepping back when she was stepping forward. Now I've run into the examination table so I can't step back any more. You know, if I'm here then Chiyo must be right behind me. It would be nice if she'd do something here. Instead of trying to get her help though, I just make a few squeaky noises from my mouth that are kinda sorta like words and probably don't help the situation at all.
It might be getting apparent that this conversation, if you can even call it that, isn't getting anywhere. It seems that Eirin comes to that conclusion as she closes the distance between us at least. "Just talk," She says, sounding slightly irritated. "I'm not going to do anything until I know your intentions."
"We were looking for the rabbits." Oh thank you so much Chiyo, are you going to take over for me now? No?
Eirin's still looking at me, so I guess I should follow what Chiyo said up. "Right! Rabbits!" I agree. That could have been better.
"Why?" Eirin asks. I guess we didn't really explain anything.
"We wanted to meet with them," I clarify. Wait that's not really any detail. "For our cover story. We were pretending to be earth rabbits." Okay, that wasn't too bad. I can do this I think. Hopefully. I am garbage at dealing with my superiors.
"Why are you pretending to be rabbit youkai?" Eirin asks. Okay, I guess it still wasn't good enough. This is why I've never been promoted. "When the purification drone was destroyed, why didn't you go back to the moon? Your job should have been finished. What further objective do you have?"
Wait, if she knows about that doesn't that mean that the rumors were true and that Reisen is actually here? Well, I guess it was in the paper, so she could have found out from that. "We can't go back to the moon," I inform her. "The portal is broken."
"The kaian passageway is broken?" If she's surprised by that, which she seems to be, that either means that Reisen isn't responsible, or that she isn't here. I guess it could be some other things too. I'm not good at leading other people into giving up information. Ringo really should be the one to handle this. I'd like that. "I see..." Eirin mumbles quietly, apparently going into deep thought about this.
Oh wow, she doesn't immediately continue questioning me. Instead, she turns back to the desk on the side of the room and scribbles something down. "Um?" I ask. Actually, why did I say anything? I should have just enjoyed not being grilled for info. Ugh.
"Tell me, does your telepathy work right now?" Eirin asks, glancing up at me.
"Uh, no." What does that have to do with anything?
"Hm, that explains it then." She writes a little bit more down. I can't actually see what it is from here. "I'll have to follow up on this. I suppose it was a bit too simple before..." She's mumbling to herself.
Okay, things have definitely calmed down now. She's not trying to kill us or anything. Was she ever trying to kill us, or was I just making a big deal about things for no reason? I'm pretty sure there was some actual danger in the air at some point, but she seems distracted from it now.
I guess her being distracted can change though, so I should use this moment to try and think. Do we have any escape paths? There's really only the locked door, the window in the receptionist's office, or the door on the other end of the examination room. I can cross that last one off the list of possibilities immediately. We don't know where it goes and we'd have to get past Eirin to get to it. The other two are actually possible in theory though, we would just have to actually coordinate an escape.
Eirin's not looking, so I feel safe enough to glance back at the other rabbits. Chiyo seems to be trying to dismount from the table as quietly as possible. I don't know if she's planning to run or just hide behind it but either one is probably a good idea. Ringo is shoving dango in her mouth and trying to eat as stealthily as possible, while Yuzuki is making some motion with her hands at me. Oh, I think it means she wants me to stretch for time. Ringo's power takes some time to activate after she eats.
"Now then," Eirin says, setting down her pen calmly before turning back to me. I snap my attention back to her quickly. "You didn't answer one of my earlier questions. Do you have any further objectives? What are you planning to do now?" She asks.
I don't really think we had much of a plan. We were just trying to do our jobs and solve the issues that were right in front of us. "We still need to find the last part of our unit, then we were going to fix the portal, and go back to the moon." I assume that's all that's actually on our itinerary at least.
"And that's all?" Eirin asks.
Oh, this may be a good opportunity to try and talk our way out of danger. "Uh, we promise we won't say anything about you?" I offer hopefully. "We weren't ordered to find you or anything, so we can just ignore that we did."
"But you unfortunately did find me," I suppress a flinch when Eirin points this out. Why didn't she just blow us up immediately and save me the anxiety if she wasn't going to let us off easily? "You should be able to understand that it puts me in an uncomfortable position. You're not the first people from the moon that have learned about this place, that's true, however I wouldn't count a group of rabbits to keep quiet about anything as important as this. I've had to solve problems like these before, and I didn't much care for the way I had to do so."
Oh I don't think I like the sound of that.
"Instead of falling back to that option, I have a proposition for how we can work this out peacefully," Eirin continues. "I can pretend that you didn't find me, allow you to leave here, and go about your business of returning to the moon. I won't cause you any harm, all you have to do is agree to test a simple drug for me before you leave the Earth."
Okay I definitely don't like the sound of that. "What?"
"I've been working on a memory modification drug for a while now, but I haven't had a good way to test it. Using it here to remove something as specific and important as my location would likely be a good opportunity. It would guarantee to me that you would to live up to that promise you just proposed. Considering the situation that you're in, I don't think it sounds like a bad deal, does it?"
Okay, I really don't like the idea of taking an experimental drug to hopefully only remove a very specific part of my memory. What if it gets other stuff and I forget how to walk or something? I really don't want to go through with this.
I feel like there are some problems with her plan that would let us squeeze out of the agreement before taking any drugs, but maybe I shouldn't point them out to her. She's smarter than I am, so she's probably thought about them already. In fact, she's probably intentionally avoiding mentioning them in case I haven't thought of any them. I guess it's possible that we'd still be able to get out of it though. I don't know, it seems like a weak thing to bank on, but it would probably guarantee our safety.
It is true that we're not in a bargaining position here though. We can only really agree or try to run. Fighting would probably not work out well.
[ ] Agree, maybe we can get out of the deal later. [ ] Make a break for it - [ ] Ringo, break the door! - [ ] I'll shoot out the receptionist's window!
Sorry for the delay, hopefully things will get back to business as usual after this, since I should be on a well defined schedule.
[X] Make a break for it - [X] Ringo, break the door! - [X] I'll shoot out the receptionist's window!
Why not both? If Ringo's strength hasn't increased enough to break the door down yet perhaps the window plan will work and vice versa. Also forcing people to test new drugs under duress is a very bad thing Eirin.
[X] Make a break for it - [X] Ringo, break the door! - [X] I'll shoot out the receptionist's window!
Okay, I could go with my gut here, but I feel like it still hasn't recovered from all the panic. If I was going with my gut, it would tell me to do whatever the big scary lady wants to help me get through this situation alive. My brain is protesting that pretty heavily though. The idea of letting someone mess with my memories makes me uncomfortable. I know it wouldn't really matter in the end because I wouldn't end up remembering it, but that doesn't make it better to me right now.
So I need to get out of here. Well, not just me, there are three other rabbits in here, and I have a feeling that they all probably feel the same way about this deal. I can't imagine any of them liking it if I don't. We all need to get out of here together then. We can do that, we just have to coordinate an escape.
I think coordinating anything would be easier if I wasn't being stared down right now though. I don't exactly want to turn away to look at the others. I guess it might be doable if Eirin assumes that I'm just getting their opinions on things, but maybe I shouldn't risk it. I'll just have to lead and hope the others are ready.
I know Chiyo is right next to me. She got down from the table and I think is currently crouched behind it. She's not actually hidden or anything, I think she's just avoiding any sudden movements and letting all of Eirin's attention stay directly on me. Thanks for that Chi.
I don't know how much longer I need to stretch for, but it probably isn't too long. Ringo should be good to go soon, and hopefully she'll have enough strength to force the door open. We're going to be rushed, so I think I'll go for the window at the same time, just to make sure something works. At least, I hope one of the two things will work. Maybe I can stretch a little more just to make sure though.
"I'm uh, not sure I like the idea," I say somewhat reluctantly. Let's just sound like I'm considering it but need convinced. "It just feels a little... Shady?" Okay, even pausing there to think of the right word didn't help. That probably could have come out better.
Eirin seems a little annoyed by my sorta kinda insult. "The theory behind it is perfectly sound," She explains tersely. "The chemicals used shouldn't be able to have any unexpected adverse side-effects anyway. If I wanted to harm you, I wouldn't go about it in such a wasteful and roundabout way."
"I understand that," It's at least true that if she really wanted to kill me at this point, I would probably already be dead. "I wasn't calling you a liar."
"Then please explain what issue you have with the plan." Eirin commands.
Sheesh. It's not unusual for Lunarians to look down on rabbits somewhat, I know that perfectly well, but this is still a little irritating. Maybe I was just getting to used to not dealing with haughty 'pure' people here on Earth. The issue is that I don't like this being pushed on me under threat of bodily harm and/or death! Well, I think that, but I probably shouldn't say it.
Well, I've stalled pretty well, or at least I hope so. I guess it's time to go all in and pray that something works here. Let's go.
"Ringo now!" I suddenly call backwards, whirling around to grab Chiyo by the wrist. As soon as I grab hold of Chiyo, I dive into the hallway, concentrating to activate my powers at the same time.
I can hear a loud snapping noise followed by a slam along with Ringo's (honestly kind of manly) grunt of effort. I assume that's good news, but I'm already committed to what I'm doing. I throw my hammer to the side randomly, feeling it thump against a wall. I don't have time to focus on what I'm getting out of the sea of bullets now crowding my vision, let's just hope it's something powerful enough to work. I pull my hammer back and instantly let whatever bullets I pulled out fly. It's haphazard and pretty dangerous, but I'm rewarded with the sound of glass shattering as I pull Chiyo towards the window.
I'm vaguely aware of Eirin following one of us two groups, but I don't have time to look back and find out what the situation is. I just have to hope that we're fast enough. I jump through the window along with Chiyo, landing in the waiting room.
Chiyo and I scramble to stand up while Ringo and Yuzuki charge through the window. Ringo doesn't even stop to try and open the door out of the waiting room, instead she just crashes through it with her shoulder. I don't know if that was really necessary, this is old Japanese architecture so the walls are made out of paper, but whatever. It works.
As I get up to follow Ringo, I take a split second to glance back. Eirin apparently opted to chase us through the door that Ringo pulled open, rather than the window we broke through. I don't know why she hasn't tried to shoot at us though. Maybe she doesn't want to shoot while indoors? It would probably make a mess of things.
Actually, in that case, maybe it would be easier on us if we went further into the building rather than outside. By the time I think of this though, Chiyo and I are already out the door, with Ringo and Yuzuki already out of the building. I would rather follow them than split up at this point, so I pull Chiyo along outside of the mansion.
As soon as we make it a few steps out of the doorway, I start hearing bullets being fired. Great. Now that we're in the open, Eirin has no reason to not shoot at us, so obviously I'm going to be quickly surrounded by danmaku. My powers are still active too, which compounds the problem. I see a lot more bullets than there actually are, and freeze when I realize I'm not sure which way I should run to get out without getting hit.
"Fly up! Two o'clock, Fifty-five degrees!" Chiyo yells. I follow her instructions immediately, trying to slip through where the bullets are thin.
I manage to make it through the bulk of whatever pattern Eirin created, which is good, but it doesn't solve the problem of being chased. Actually this might be even worse! She can follow us easily up here! I need to dive back down before she starts firing again.
Diving back down means going headfirst into bamboo. I'm not the fastest flyer, but I'm at least fast enough that I can't react to the randomly placed stalks of bamboo. Ow! Some of the smaller ones snap easily, but I keep running into the bigger ones. I think Chiyo is yelling instructions at me but I can't really pay attention. I still need to go deeper, gotta get out of danger!
My vision spins as I crash into a thicket of bamboo that doesn't have nearly enough space to let me through. I tumble around in some direction that's entirely impossible for me to keep track of before coming to a stop face first on the ground. Ow. Owowow. Goddamn everything hurts.
I groan. I kind of want to just lay here, but I know I can't. Okay. Now that I've been forced to stop, let's try to breathe and assess things. I sit up and look around.
We aren't being immediately caught and shot at, so we may have lost Eirin. That was the primary goal I think, so I guess that's one thing accomplished.
I'm bleeding a bit, probably from diving out a broken window. It's not any worse than the last time though, so that can be dealt with when I get back to camp.
My powers are still active, I can just turn them off though.
Only Chiyo is here with me, the others ran a different way. Chiyo seems to be perfectly fine. I was pulling her along the whole time, but I guess she caught herself before crashing into the bunch of bamboo that stopped me.
I don't hear any fighting. I don't know where the others are, so either they got away as well, or they're too far for me to hear.
I get a few groans out of my system as I try to stand up. "I don't suppose you know where the others went." I say to Chiyo, not expecting much.
"Lost sight of them." Chiyo says instantly after I finish speaking. Oh, from the speed of her reply I can tell that she's using her powers as well. That's probably how she knew which way I should fly to get out of Eirin's attack, and how she was able to (unsuccessfully) give me directions while I was flying through the forest. Well, we can always count on Chiyo to step up in clutch situations like this, even if we can't count on me to keep up with her insights.
Well, it's just the two of us. I don't know how long Chiyo will keep herself buffed up. We can either fly out of here, or stay in the forest. There's no real way to know where Eirin is right now, so wherever we go, there's some risk involved. We also have no way of contacting the others to let them know where to meet us.
[ ] Let's get out of the forest and go back to camp. We need to regroup. [ ] Let's look for the others. They could be in trouble. I don't know what we're going to do if they are though. [ ] Chiyo was probably aware enough while we were running to know the way back to Eientei. Eirin probably won't be there now, so let's try to investigate some more.
[x] Chiyo was probably aware enough while we were running to know the way back to Eientei. Eirin probably won't be there now, so let's try to investigate some more. [x] Walk [x] Disguise yourselves as lunar emmisaries
[X] Chiyo was probably aware enough while we were running to know the way back to Eientei. Eirin probably won't be there now, so let's try to investigate some more. [X] Walk
Getting up hadn't been that hard surprisingly, the hard part comes next. As I experimentally try to walk, my body aches in protest about how I've treated it. I don't think that's really fair though. Not flying really fast and getting caught would have been even worse than what did end up happening. I guess my dumb body doesn't understand that as well as my brain does though. All it knows is that crashing into large amounts of bamboo at high speeds causes a lot of issues with it's continued movement.
Anyway, I need to think about what to do next. My first instinct is, of course, to find the others. After unintentionally splitting off, we're going to have to regroup somewhere and somehow. I don't exactly know if Eirin is still chasing after me or went after them though, so either they could be in trouble, or I could be soon.
But actually, when I think about it, doesn't the fact that Eirin is out mean this is a good opportunity to go back to Eientei and try to find more information? Chiyo had her powers on, so she probably knows the general direction we'd have to go in order to get back. We'll be on a pretty limited time, we don't know when Eirin will give up the search and come back, but it might be worthwhile if we can find out... Well, anything really.
That's kind of frustrating to think about actually. We haven't really learned anything yet. Okay, well, we've learned a lot about the area, but there's got to be more to pick up that's actually relevant to us. We're dealing with THE Eirin Yagokoro here. Even just in the short conversation that I had with her, she seemed to know a lot more than she was willing to reveal. Heck, she didn't even confirm whether Reisen lived here or not! I really don't want to have come all the way out here and end up with such little in the way of results.
"Hey Chiyo," I ask while taking a moment to massage my shoulders a bit. They're kind of sore. Much like my everything else. "Which way is Eientei right now?" Most of the flight away from Eientei had been a panicked blur, up to and including the crash. Chiyo was basically experiencing it in slow motion though, so it wouldn't have been hard at all for her to keep track of what direction I had been fleeing in.
"Seriously?" Chiyo asks, instantly understanding what I'm suggesting. I guess it's instant from my perspective at least, it's probably not the same for her.
"I just think this might be a good chance to go back there to see if we can get any more information." I explain.
"And what about the others?" Chiyo asks. Talking to Chiyo when she's like this always makes it feel like she's pressuring you because she'll usually start talking in the middle of the last word of your sentence or immediately afterwards. I know better than to get bothered by it for the most part.
"We don't have any way to know where they are anyway." I reason. Comms would make this easy, but they'd make a lot of things easy.
"Radios." Chiyo says bluntly, pulling out one of the radios we had grabbed before leaving camp. I think Ringo has the other one.
"Oh..." Actually, why didn't I think of that before? Ugh, I feel kind of dumb now. Still, it might not be as easy as just calling them. "Well calling them might not be a good idea. What if they're trying to hide?"
"You can turn the radios off to avoid getting caught." Chiyo reminds me.
"But they probably wouldn't have thought to do that." I respond. If I hadn't thought about the radios, then it probably slipped Ringo's as well. Well, probably anway. Maybe. "And if they did then they wouldn't know that we were calling them anyway."
Chiyo sighs lightly, but doesn't continue to argue. "Fine." She says plainly.
"We'll run at the first sign of Eirin, okay?" I assure her. I mean it too. I don't want to have to fight Eirin or anything, but we shouldn't throw away our opportunity here.
"Don't know about that one," Chiyo says, smirking slightly. "Wouldn't that mean you'll crash again?"
"It'll be fine," I'm pretty sure she was just joking, but I dismiss it anyway. Though that does bring up a question I want to ask. "Come to think of it, why didn't you take the lead if you could have avoided crashing?"
Chiyo just shrugs and doesn't say anything. I already know the answers to that anyway. First of all, Chiyo isn't very fast when flying, or really moving in general. Her power improves her mind and makes it easy to react to things, but it doesn't enhance her physically at all. In that high stress, intense situation that we were just in, it was better for her to let someone else handle the actual legwork. Would you call flying legwork? I dunno.
There's also the issue that Chiyo doesn't really lead things all that often. She always seems to be just reacting to what the rest of the unit is doing and trying to help us all along. Part of that could be her being the newest member of the unit I guess, but I think it's more just her personality. Not everybody has to be a leader, especially in the military.
Chiyo points out a random direction, not at all the one that I would have guessed, while I take a deep breath to calm down a bit. Even after arguing for it, I have to admit that this could potentially be a bad idea. I don't really know anything about Eirin. Maybe she gave up as soon as we got into the forest and is already back in her mansion. I guess I can't know until I at least take a look though. I start walking the way that Chiyo is pointing, and she follows along without any complaint.
We're pretty decently into afternoon now, though I don't know the exact time or anything. Even in this forest it's easy to tell that it's a sunny, relatively warm day out today. If it had been like this yesterday when I was injured it would have been a lot less horrible to fly back to camp. As it is right now though, I can't really risk flying. We have no idea where Eirin is, I'll just have to walk my dumb injured body all the way back to Eientei for now. I guess it's a good thing that youkai are tough. It'd probably be a lot harder for a human to do something like this.
Chiyo has to stay focused the whole walk, occasionally pointing out that I'm curving off in one direction or the other instead of a straight line. It honestly is pretty difficult to keep track of where you're going in here, so I'm glad I kept a hold of Chiyo while running. Being stuck in here without anyone to guide me and not being able to fly away safely would probably have been a little terrifying to be honest.
"So what's the plan?" Chiyo asks after we've started to walk. I thought we just argued about the plan, but I guess she wants more specifics here.
"Hm..." I know what I want, more information, but not really how to get it. I haven't really thought it through yet. "We'll probably want to be careful about just going in." I start.
"Would it really be an issue? We're assuming that Eirin is gone." Chiyo points out.
That's the best case scenario, yes, but even in that case there's more to the problem. "There was more than one exiled Lunarian." I respond. That doesn't necessarily mean that anyone will be watching the security cameras, but it's still something to point out.
"Hm." Thanks for the insight Chiyo, you're a big help.
I continue thinking out loud, since Chiyo isn't keeping things going. "We don't know if there are more security cameras either, or where they would be. Yuzuki would be able to spot them easily, but without her..."
"Having second thoughts?" Chiyo asks.
"Let's at least get there and look around a bit before we give up on anything," I decide. "If it doesn't work, I'll admit you're right, and we'll turn around and try to meet back up with the others."
Chiyo just shrugs at that.
A couple minutes of silent walking later, I'm trying to think up how we're going to get back inside Eientei and what we're going to do there. In the best best case scenario, where Eirin is still gone and nobody is watching the cameras, we could just go in. Every other situation is a bit more difficult. I find myself kind of wishing that I had a smoke grenade or two to mess with the cameras, but we didn't bring any from camp. We don't have any equipment for a proper infiltration, and in this case we could actually use it without worrying about blowing our cover.
Maybe it would be better to just try and look around the area first. There could be a better way to enter the building. If that fails, scoping the place out will at least put us in a better position if we want to come back later with more equipment or a better plan. Yeah, I'll try to make the most of this trip since I've actually decided to do it.
The ground gives way underneath me and I trip clumsily into a hole. Ow... Why is there a hole hidden in the ground here? Why did this have to happen to me when I'm already injured? It's only a couple of meters deep, but with how suddenly I fell I didn't really have a chance to prepare myself or land gracefully. Uuuuugh.
A few seconds pass while I just groan before Chiyo jumps down into the hole along with me. I don't pay a lot of attention to her over paying attention to my various injuries, but I at least catch that she actually looks kind of intense. Is something terrible happening? I would really rather that something terrible wasn't happening.
"We're being watched." She says quietly, leaning down next to me and looking up to the mouth of the pit.
"I heard somebody moving around up there after you fell. Too small to be Eirin." Chiyo continues, trying to pull me up into a sitting position at least.
Ugh. Let me think about this. If somebody set a trap, then they obviously have some intention of coming back to it later to see if it sprung. I guess what Chiyo noticed was the person who set this thing. Actually, now that I think of it, didn't Kagerou say something about traps in the forest when I was talking to her? The fall kind of rattled me, I'm not thinking properly right now. What should I even do here?
[ ] Try to find whoever set this trap. - [ ] Just wait in the pit until someone comes to check. - [ ] I'm too annoyed to wait. Let's just jump out and catch whoever it is. [ ] Ignore the trap and continue back to Eientei - [ ] Go directly in, disregard the cameras - [ ] Try to find a better entrance [ ] I am aching and hurting and everything sucks. SCREW. THIS.
[X] Try to find whoever set this trap. - [X] I'm too annoyed to wait. Let's just jump out and catch whoever it is.
Okay, I just need a moment to take a breath here. My head hurts. Is that what I landed on? Probably.
I know these injuries aren't anything that bad. I'll be able to get them fixed up as soon as I get back to camp. That doesn't help me in the present, so it still sucks and I am still in pain, but at least future me will be a bit better off once this is all over. Lucky her.
You know, I think it's fair for me to be a little bit annoyed right now. This morning had actually been going pretty well. I was talking to people competently, we were making our way towards an objective, and things were generally pretty pleasant. Then everything started to suck when we just stumbled stupidly on Eirin. It's not like we were trying to look for her, heck, we probably wouldn't have come here at all if we had known ahead of time that it was enemy territory. I don't know who I'm complaining to here, I guess it's just whining.
Bleh, I'm a soldier. I'm not supposed to whine. I mean, at least I'm not doing it out loud, just in my head. That has to count for something. I should at least be able to complain internally about things that are BULLSHIT. Things like being in the military for decades and decades practicing a specific set of skills, only to be tossed off the moon suddenly and told that I had to follow an entirely different set of rules that has next to nothing to do with what I learned. Yeah, things like being forced into using an obtuse form of combat that I have no experience in against people who have been doing it for years and years, and expecting me to be able to resolve any kind of conflict like that. I barely squeaked out a win against a GODDAMN FAIRY with this stupid danmaku junk, AND SHE SAID SHE WAS TAKING IT EASY ON ME! You know, if I could just use actual guns, or even just my powers this would be so easy. Just one BANG and it's done. There are bullets EVERYWHERE, why can't I just-
"Hey, you okay?"
"Huh?" Oh, Chiyo's talking to me. "Uh, yeah, I just need a moment." I say, suddenly losing my place in my internal rant.
"You had that look on your face." Chiyo points out.
"What?" I don't actually know what she means by that. Was I doing something weird with my face? I wasn't paying attention to it.
"Nevermind." Chiyo drops the subject. Whatever that subject was.
I don't really get what she's talking about, but now that I've collected myself a bit, I think I'm ready to move. Chiyo already said that somebody was moving around up there, so that must be the person who set this thing up. I think I should probably have a talk with them. Somebody can (and did) get hurt like this!
I don't really get what this trap is trying to accomplish though. Small animals would probably be too light to actually cause it to trigger, and most youkai would fly or climb out. I guess it's possible that this could be used to trap humans. It wouldn't be efficient to try to trap humans this deep into a forest that's so impossible to navigate though, so I can only conclude that this is actually just some kind of prank between youkai. A dumb prank that I fell into by mistake and hurt myself in for no reason.
I let something that I originally intended to be a sigh out, but with the speed it comes out of my mouth it's more like a frustrated huff. Yeah, I'm not really happy about things.
"Chiyo, which direction did you hear things from?" I ask, standing myself up. It hurts, but I'm getting kind of used to it now. I can keep going.
Chiyo points in a direction. "Dunno if you taking a moment let them run away though."
I guess that would be the worse case scenario. Still worth trying to catch them though. "Was the noise far away?"
"No, but I couldn't actually see the source." Chiyo explains.
"Okay, I think I'd like to catch whoever set this up."
"Hm," Chiyo nods. She doesn't seem to enthusiastic about the idea, but she doesn't try to stop me either. "I'll follow, but I'm not good at danmaku." She reminds me.
"That's fine, I wasn't really going to use it anyway." I say plainly. We're doing this the old fashioned way. Before Chiyo can say anything else, I launch myself upwards.
I hover for a moment once I've elevated myself out of the trap. Okay, going up further is pointless, it would just make it harder to find anyone, and there's still the possibility of Eirin being up there. I need to fly through the forest again, but this time I don't need to go full speed panic mode. I just need to be fast enough to catch whoever dug that dumb hole. The fact that Chiyo couldn't see them is actually really helpful, it just means that I need to look for thickets of bamboo that are thick enough to give cover in one direction.
There. It's probably that bit of bamboo. I start flying forward immediately. Now that I've come out from the ground, the person is probably going to try to sneak away from their hiding spot, so I need to catch them while they're doing so.
I reach the thicket of bamboo and swerve around it, expecting to find somebody hiding there. When I look down over the area though, there's nothing. They must have moved, so I need to go uh...
"Ten o'clock!" Chiyo calls out from behind me. I don't really need her for danmaku, I already knew she'd be helpful like this. She's got her powers on and isn't injured at all, so she's still a great asset.
I turn sharply to follow Chiyo's instructions immediately, I only catch a blur of whoever I'm chasing, but I don't have time to process what they looked like. Need to catch up!
"Duck!" I hear Chiyo yell.
I swoop down closer to the ground and feel my ears brush against whatever I just ducked under. I think it was a net, but it wasn't very visible. I guess it was another trap. Whatever. Busy.
"Up!" Chiyo yells this time.
I pull back up into the air. I don't know what I'm avoiding now, but Chiyo said it so I'll do it. I continue to chase the blob of something pink around another thick section of bamboo. I can actually see what I'm following now, but I'm not putting in the time to process it. I just want to end this chase!
I speed up behind this running girl. Okay, just a bit closer... Wait, I can just...
Ow. Okay, maybe that wasn't the most well thought out thing considering my injuries. I just wanted to make her stop though. I didn't think enough about myself. What I did was, I got close enough to use my hammer to trip her while she was running. That part worked pretty well, the problem was that her tripping meant her stopping, but I didn't stop. There was some collision involved, and the end result of it is that both of us are now on the ground, in a bit more pain than we were previously. Wonderful.
"Owowow. What did you do that for?" The high pitched girl voice of the person I crashed into says. Apparently she didn't appreciate my method of stopping her. Though she probably didn't want to be stopped in the first place.
"You set that trap!" I hurry to explain. "I had to catch you and..." Actually what was I intending to do when I caught her. I think I was just annoyed and wanted to take it out on something, but I don't really know how I wanted to actually accomplish that. I just did the first thing that came to mind. I caught the person responsible.
"You didn't have to catch me," The girl says indignantly, trying to disentangle herself from me. "I have no idea what you're talking about. Who would dig holes in the middle of the forest? Not me."
"She didn't say anything about digging holes." Chiyo points out bluntly, crouching down over us without helping to sort us out.
"Oh no you caught me!" The girl says. It's obviously fake dramatics, but I have to wonder why she even bothered to pretend she wasn't responsible if she's just going to give up on the lie so easily. It felt more like it was something obligatory than something she actually believed she'd get away with.
Oh, this girl is a rabbit. We've finally found one of the Earth rabbits that we came here for. This one is a little shorter than Chiyo, looking almost like a child. She has messy black hair and wears a poofy pink dress. She'd be kind of cute if it weren't for the kind of irritating smug look on her face.
"Um..." I didn't really have any time to prepare what I want to say at this point, but we have a rabbit here. I think that was the original objective, even if it kind of got lost among all the other things that have happened. "I guess we're looking for somebody named Tewi. Do you know her?" I ask.
"Tewi, huh." The rabbit says, seeming to consider it carefully. After a moment, she seems to decide something. "Well I've got good news for you moon rabbit. You've found me." She says, smirking at me.
Oh... That simplifies things a lot. I should...
[ ] Apologize and help her up, we can talk things out nicely. [ ] Don't let her move from where she is, we have the advantage here and shouldn't give it up for free.
Then we should talk about...
[ ] Tewi [ ] Earth rabbits [ ] Eirin [ ] Eientei [ ] The forest [ ] Do you know Reisen? [ ] Why the traps?
[X] Apologize and help her up, we can talk things out nicely. [X] Tewi [X] Earth rabbits [X] Eirin [X] Do you know Reisen?
Okay, maybe chasing down and tackling this girl wasn't really necessary. I mean, the tackling part probably was after I had committed to the chasing part, but I could have just scrapped the whole plan and waited for her to come to me. I guess I just wasn't thinking about it all that much, I just decided that I wanted to catch the one responsible and went with what I thought would work. I don't think the reward here was really worth the extra pain and effort involved, but whatever. At least we finally found this Tewi person that everyone seemed to be pointing us towards.
When I had collided with Tewi, both of us had crashed and tumbled a bit, and I had ended up on top. I guess I could stay on top of her now, but there doesn't seem to be much point. She won't be able to suddenly escape with Chiyo this close by. It'd probably be better to let her up now and make things a bit less hostile. Tackling someone to the ground isn't really the best opener to a conversation, but I can at least try to make things a bit better now.
"Sorry about that," I say, picking myself up off the smaller rabbit and standing up. "I uh, didn't know who I was chasing." That's probably not the best excuse or explanation.
Tewi doesn't immediately get up, instead just looking up at me. "Wow, you didn't know? So it was just an indiscriminate attack? What a monster." She smirks at me.
"Well, no it was um..." Ugh. She's probably joking, but it is true that I didn't need to be violent. Probably. I don't know how else I would have caught her though.
Tewi shrugs. "Ordinarily, I would demand compensation for my medical expenses after such a vicious attack, but I already know how that would turn out. I'm pretty sure you guys don't have any money anyway."
"Well, no." I don't know what medical expenses she's talking about anyway, she looks fine.
"Right, so we'll skip past the fake broken leg bit then and get right to business," Tewi jumps up to her feet quickly. She walks close to me and looks directly into my face, seemingly not bothered by the height difference. "You're a long way from home, and kinda in the wrong neighborhood. What do you want?"
Even though that last bit there sounded a little bit unfriendly, Tewi herself doesn't seem to be all that hostile. I guess I should try to start this off nicely. "Well, I'm Seiran, and this is Chiyo. There's usually more of us, but we kind of got separated. And you're Tewi?" I ask, just in case she wants to do a better introduction.
"Yep." Is her only reply.
Oh, no fancy title or anything? A lot of the people we've met have done that, but I guess Tewi's not going to play herself up. That's fine by me. I kind of like it better that way actually. I can just keep going then. "When we started looking around the forest, people told us to find and talk to you since you're the on in charge of the Earth rabbits."
"Right, that'd be me. That doesn't answer the question though, what do you want?" She asks again.
I don't think we really need anything specifically from her, but I guess she's probably the best source of information we're going to find, which is why everybody pointed us to her. "Well, like you've already said, we're from the moon, and we've kinda been pretending to be Earth rabbits while we're here. We were mostly just trying to get some information to help out with that." I answer hopefully.
Tewi nods, backing off from me a bit, crossing her arms across her chest. "Sure, sure. Just as long as you know that things like that usually have a price to them."
"What?" Now that I think about it, most of the people we've talked to have been pretty willing to give up information. I guess we've just gotten lucky that this hasn't come up before.
"Well I know you don't have any money, so that's fine," Tewi says casually. "Let's just say that you'll owe me a favor or two after this and get on with it. What do you want to know?"
I can't say I'm completely comfortable with the idea of owing this girl something, but we don't really have anything of value to offer otherwise. She's not making us put anything in writing, so I'm a little wary about there being some kind of catch here. Maybe I should just get started before she pulls out a contract or something.
"Well, I guess the first thing to ask about is our cover story," I begin. "It's okay that we're pretending to be Earth rabbit youkai right?" I don't know if we really need permission, but it probably makes us look better to ask.
Tewi frowns. "Eh, can't say I'm crazy about it, but if people are dumb enough to fall for it, I guess that's on them. You'd think they would pick up that you aren't as small or cute as we are." Wait, all Earth rabbits are like her? I mean, I guess she is pretty cute, but she looks much younger than I expected for the leader of the Earth rabbits.
"Even me?" Chiyo asks from the side.
"Hm..." Tewi gives Chiyo a once over, seeming to think hard about her response. "Eh, you're pushing it, but you could pass." She decides after a bit. I feel like it's being implied that I'm not cute here, but maybe it's just because I'm too tall.
"Anyway," I continue, deciding not to argue over my own cuteness. "We've been saying that we were living by ourselves, hidden on the mountain. We're probably going to have to stick to that story for consistency, so can you back us up if anyone asks?"
"Eh..." Tewi seems unsure. "Probably. Anybody who's paying attention would see through it, but most people aren't, so you can get away with it." She says.
Everybody we've talked to so far has bought it, does that mean that nobody is paying attention? I guess they're just not paying attention to rabbits. I don't get why that would make a difference though. "Is it really that much of a stretch that there are rabbits you aren't leading?" I have to ask.
"Basically," Tewi replies quickly. "I've been around for a long time. Most people that care would know that I've gathered up all of the rabbit youkai in Gensokyo. New youkai don't just pop up every day, and I'd end up hearing about it even if they did."
"So say you're hearing about it now." Chiyo suggests.
"Hmm... Fine. Don't think anybody'll ask me anyway." Tewi says dismissively as she steps back further. I guess that helps our story. It might not matter, but it at least seems that Tewi is willing to cooperate.
"Well it's good for us to cover our tracks either way." I decide out loud.
Tewi nods, leaning against some bamboo. "Right, it could be tough if you left a trail that people would be able to follow if they heard about you from somewhere..." She says, looking kind of sly.
"Umm..." I'm pretty sure there was a vague threat in there.
Tewi doesn't give me much time to think of a response. "Was that it then?" She asks.
"No," I say, there's still a couple more things to clear up. "So, people told us that you live in Eientei, so I can assume that you talk to Eirin..."
"Ooh..." Tewi interrupts me with a reluctant sound. "You already went and found her? That's... A bit of a problem for me." She adds.
"Finding Eirin isn't a part of our mission, if that helps," I assure her. I already said this to Eirin herself, but I guess I should make sure Tewi knows too. "We were pretty surprised when we did, and we would have avoided doing so if we knew about it ahead of time."
Tewi shakes her head. "Doesn't make a big difference. She'll probably be on us now about not working hard enough on holding up our end of the deal." She says, sounding annoyed.
"The deal?" Chiyo asks.
"Ancient stuff, don't worry too much about it," Tewi says dismissively. "Basically me and the rest of the rabbits are supposed to be keeping people away from Eientei. It doesn't really work out that well now though since Eirin's the one that opened the place up to humans. She hadn't mentioned it in a while, but I dunno how she's gonna react to suddenly having unwanted guests."
Hm, if she said it was ancient... "Has Eirin been here long then?"
"Pretty long, yeah."
That seems odd to me. We found her on accident in very little time, so why couldn't the Lunarians? Gensokyo isn't so large that they wouldn't be able to find one mansion in the years and years and years since Eirin left the moon. Either Tewi is really really good at keeping her hidden, or there's more to Eirin's situation than us normal soldiers know. I guess the latter wouldn't be that surprising though. The Lunarians do tend to keep way more stuff hidden than they need to.
I decide not to vocalize my thoughts for now. We can figure more out later if we really want to, but it might be better to just not be near Eirin if we can help it. "Well, it's not our business. We don't really want anything to do with her, and we're willing to pretend we never saw her. Maybe mention that to her?" I suggest.
"I'll think about it," Tewi responds. "Might be a better call for me to just pretend I never saw you. At least with her."
That's a bit disappointing, but I can't really argue against her doing what's in her best interest. "There is one other thing though," I continue. This is probably the most important thing that we came here for, but I still waited to ask it. Tewi's been pretty cooperative so far though, so I'm hopeful. "Do you know Reisen? There's a rumor that she's hiding with the exiled Lunarians, but we didn't find her today."
"Actually, before we keep going, I kind of want to put up my conditions," Tewi doesn't seem to acknowledge my question, even though she obviously heard it. "It should be pretty easy, I'm mostly looking for info as well."
"Uh, okay." I don't really have a choice but to agree.
"I want to know a couple of things," Tewi begins, holding up her fingers and ticking them off as she goes. "First, you talked about a mission before, what is that mission? Second, I want to know where you're located, assuming you're not just going back and forth between here and the moon. Third, and this is the only actual favor I want from you for now, since I'm so generous. I want you to get me in contact with the Lunarians on the moon. I have some business I want to conduct with them."
Well, the information requests are pretty easy at least. I'm surprised she didn't bring this up earlier though. Maybe she... Oh, she waited until after she had already answered some of my questions in order to make me feel obligated to answer hers, while still making it clear that she's willing to talk. That seems risky to me, but maybe she doesn't consider anything she's talked about so far to be high priority or something. She's still holding on to the last bit of information that we want too, so refusing her would basically guarantee that she refuses to tell us anything else.
There's also the issue of her request to talk to the moon. I can't talk to the moon now either, so there's no way I can fulfill that. I don't want to seem like I'm lying though, so I'll have to be careful about things.
Whatever I do, I'll have to think about the consequences. I may be reading her wrong, but Tewi seems like a scheming type. She wouldn't try to trade info if she didn't have some use for it.
[ ] Tell her our mission [ ] Don't tell her our mission
[ ] Tell her our location [ ] Don't tell her our location
[ ] Be honest. "We don't have any way to talk to the Lunarians right now." [ ] Be vague. "Okay, we'll figure something out soon."
[x] Tell her our mission [x] Tell her our location [x] Be honest. "We don't have any way to talk to the Lunarians right now."
Honestly, Reisen could tell anyone this if they just asked her apart from the last one, and lying to Tewi doesn't seem like a good idea. Try to ask Tewi if she thinks Eirin might be responsible for jamming our communication, because it's hard to see anyone else with a motive.
[x] Tell her our location [x] Tell her our mission doesn't matter, because we've failed it [x] Tell her we don't have any way to talk to the Lunarians right now [x] Unprompted, tell her (tell ourselves) that we're sure they haven't just abandoned us
She's expecting at least one lie. It might as well be that one.
[x] Tell her our location [x] Tell her our mission doesn't matter, because we've failed it [x] Tell her we don't have any way to talk to the Lunarians right now [x] Unprompted, tell her (tell ourselves) that we're sure they haven't just abandoned us
[X] Tell her our mission [X] Tell her our location [X] Be honest. "We don't have any way to talk to the Lunarians right now."
I think it would be okay to tell the truth here. I mean, we had already decided to drop the cover story, even though it didn't end up mattering. Tewi seems to be okay with talking to us, and is generally more understanding than I think most people would be. Probably because she's already sheltering someone from the moon. A quick glance over to get Chiyo's input just ends up getting me a shrug in response. Okay, I guess that's good enough for me. If Chiyo's going to pretend to not have an opinion, I'm just going to stick with my own.
I take a deep breath before starting. I haven't really had time to think about how I'd give the answers to these questions, but I have a feeling it'll probably take a bit. "So, our mission first then," I start Tewi looks suddenly attentive. I guess she hadn't really expected me to answer directly. "I'm not in charge, so I wasn't there when Ringo got the order. She'd probably explain it better than me, but then again maybe not. Command isn't the best at explaining things when they also want to be all mysterious like usual. You would think they'd keep that kind of stuff in the normal government and the military would be more direct, but I guess not..."
"'Scuse me," Tewi interrupts. "Get on with it." She suggests.
Okay, well maybe I hadn't been direct enough. Or at all. "We were sent here to gather information on various areas in Gensokyo, while also watching over and protecting the purification spider drone that had been sent with us. Our objectives... Weren't all that well defined to be honest. We weren't really told what information was important and what wasn't, and the drone was controlled remotely, so we were mostly just hanging around waiting," I explain. "I know Ringo had regular contact with command, but they never really gave us further orders. We were pretty much just on standby until they decided to go ahead and bring in more people or pull us out."
"So what, like alien invasion? Not like it'd be too out there compared to what we've had before, but yeesh. You're lucky the Hakurei didn't hear about it." Tewi seems pretty amused. I'm assuming that's due to the idea of us getting caught, rather than by the invasion.
To be honest, I don't really think of it as much of an invasion. So much of the plan just felt so half-hearted that it's hard to believe that command was actually planning to go through with it. Maybe it was planning for a contingency or something. It would be much easier if they would have just TALKED to us, but Lunarians are how they are. "Oh!" I feel like there's more I should add here. "The purification drone was destroyed, so we can't possibly finish the mission right now anyway."
"But you're still here." Tewi points out.
Chiyo cuts in for a moment. "She'll get to that." Oh will I? I feel she has a better idea of where my explanation is going than I do. I'm just making it up as I go.
"R-right," I continue, figuring this is a good enough segue into the second question. "We're still set up near where the drone originally landed. We have a camp a bit to the southwest of the base of the mountain."
Tewi considers that for a moment. "Pretty much on the other side of Gensokyo then. Probably the reason I hadn't heard of you 'til now."
When I think about it, we weren't being very careful about avoiding letting people know about us. Maybe the first day after our stealth ran out, but after that it just made more sense to talk to people for info. It was Ringo that thought up the cover story idea though, she probably had some reasoning behind it that I could have asked about.
Actually, that reminds me. "Do you not read the paper?" I ask. Ringo originally thought up our cover story to deal with Aya. I haven't actually read whatever article she ended up writing, but I assume it at least mentioned what we said happened to us.
Tewi shrugs. "Don't get it delivered here," She says plainly. "Eirin doesn't like it. I usually have one picked up from the village at some point if I feel like reading the tengu stretch her imagination as far as it'll go. Why?"
Oh, I didn't really know we were interviewed for something with that kind of reputation. I don't know if that makes it better or worse. "Well, we kinda got interviewed about the drone..." I answer awkwardly. Had I been expecting to get famous or something?
Tewi snickers at that. "A mastery of stealth and subterfuge."
"Well Ringo's the one that took the interview!" I defend myself. Though if Aya had kept pressing me I probably would have messed things up much worse than Ringo's story.
Tewi rolls her eyes but really just looks amused. "Moon rabbits." She says plainly to no one. What is that supposed to mean?
"Anyway!" I decide to ignore Tewi's side comment. "We're still located near the base of the mountain, and moving is a bit difficult, so there you go."
"Right, sure, that's the stuff I wanted to know," Tewi responds, holding up two fingers before ticking them back down to one. "There's just the one favor then."
Ick. How do I explain this? Even telling the truth might make it seem like I'm trying to weasel out of the favor. "So uh... About talking to the Lunarians," I start off awkwardly. Oh whatever, might as well be honest and hope she believes me. "We don't actually have any way to talk to them now either. Our comms went out a few days ago and haven't come back since then, so we can't talk to them or get any orders."
Tewi doesn't look impressed by my explanation. "How inconvenient for both of us." She says, not at all trying to hide her lack of belief.
"It's true!" I step towards Tewi trying to sound as honest as I can. I actually have been completely honest here, maybe even more than I needed to be, so I'm not sure how to get more believable. "We don't know how the comms work either! Honestly before they went out I didn't even know telepathy could just stop working! I don't know if somebody's jamming us somehow or what it is."
Tewi looks thoughtful, but not convinced. She looks up into the sky, what amount of it you can actually see past all the bamboo, and considered things for a moment before responding with a question. "When exactly did you lose contact with the moon?"
"Three days ago," I answer, though I would like to be a little bit more specific. "It was some time after the drone was destroyed, but I"m not sure exactly when..." Oh wait, this is another chance to segue! "Actually, the reason why I was asking about Reisen was because we think she had something to do with it. See, she destroyed the drone and fought her way through Ringo and I, but after that we're not sure. She used our portal to the moon, but after she used it to come back the portal was broken and comms went out at some point. If we could find her, then maybe she could tell us what's going on."
Tewi's face was pretty neutral through my explanation, and after it she seems to be thinking hard about something. She makes a few thoughtful noises, which in my opinion seem really cute considering that she looks and sounds like a little girl. She finally ends up just sighing. "I guess it makes sense. I'll have to get her to talk about it."
Oh! That sounds promising. "So that means..."
"Yeah, I know Reisen," Tewi cuts me off. "She's out at the village right now, but she lives here too."
Wow, actual progress! I'm about to ask Tewi for more information, but she continues anyway.
"I knew that something was up at least. It was one of her few days off, but she still went out and took her goofy looking gun. Then she came back later, went straight to Eirin, and refused to talk about it. Her and Eirin have been keeping quiet about the whole thing since then," She says.
I don't know exactly how the relationships work there, but that does seem a little weird. If Tewi's supposed to protect their mansion, shouldn't be kept in the know on things like this? "Why would they do that?"
Tewi's started pacing now. I guess she's somewhat excited that we've apparently helped her solve her mystery. "They probably think it's moon only business. Some kind of moon invasion incident is probably the only kind of incident that Eirin would specifically send Reisen out for when there are already so many other people who could solve things. From the sound of it, it seems like they resolved it pretty nicely. Reisen took a trip to the moon, fixed things up, then came back before anybody from Earth knew about it."
"Except that we're still here." Chiyo comments.
Tewi nods. "That's the weird thing. You'd think everybody involved would want you back on the moon to cut off the loose ends," She says thoughtfully. After another moment she comes to a conclusion. "I'm interested," She decides. "Dunno if I trust you, and you still owe me that favor, but I'm interested."
I'm not exactly sure what Tewi being interested actually buys us, but before I can ask, my radio turns on. "Seiran, you there? Over." Ringo's voice isn't that clear, but it's probably hard to get a good signal through all of the bamboo.
I look at Tewi apologetically, since we haven't really finished talking, but she doesn't seem bothered. I take that as a cue to answer the call. "Yeah I'm here." I respond.
There's a slight pause. I think Ringo's waiting for me to say over, but I'm not going to. She eventually gives up and talks again. "Yuzuki's giving the all clear. You still have Chiyo with you? We should regroup and decide what to do. Over."
Okay, sounds like both of them are fine. That's a relief. "Yeah..." I say before trailing off. There's actually a lot of possibilities here when I think about it. We're still in the early afternoon, so we could do more with the day. If Tewi's really interested in helping us, it might be a good idea to ask her to do something.
Tewi also mentioned that Reisen is in the village right now, so we could also do something with that information.
[ ] Regroup at camp [ ] Group up at the village - [ ] Just to find Reisen and plan - [ ] To confront Reisen
Ask Tewi to... [ ] Come along [ ] Send Reisen to our camp later [ ] Not say anything about meeting us [ ] Do whatever she thinks is best
[x] Group up at the village - [x] Just to find Reisen and plan Ask Tewi to... [x] Not say anything about meeting us
Tough decisions. Regrouping at camp would be the most relaxing after the shit we just went through, but we're very close to figuring things out, I feel. But outright confronting Reisen in the middle of the Human Village doesn't seem like the best idea. Finding and following her seems like the best idea to have a talk in a more controlled environment.
As for Tewi... anything here is dangerous. We have her interest, but that's no guarantee of anything. Asking to send Reisen to our camp risks Eirin coming along for the ride, which is obviously the last thing we want. Having her come along would let us keep an eye on her, but if she starts something we're gonna be right there with her. And letting her do whatever she wants... eeeeeh.
I dunno, this seems like the safest route that will get us some more progress.
>>26848 Which is why we need Tewi to find her. She's super-lucky, meaning there's a supreme possibility that Tewi can sneak into the power plant, grab our comrade, (beat Okuu: multiple times if need be) and abscond the hell outta there.
Okay, looks like going to the village is definitely winning, and observing Reisen is just barely beating confronting her. The vote is still tied on asking Tewi to come along or leaving her to do what she wants though.
>>26848 Do I seem like the type to kill a character off screen before she's been introduced?
>>26849 That's a lot of assumptions you're making there.
[X] Group up at the village - [X] Just to find Reisen and plan [X] Ask Tewi to come along
I don't think we should just let this opportunity go by. We have someone here that's willing to help us at least to some degree. We have an actual location to search in order to search for Reisen. We even have the time and people to make that kind of search work. With how much things are suddenly looking up for us, at least for this specific goal, the decision to head for the village to keep things going is pretty obvious.
I don't really like that I've come to that decision, because I kind of want to take a break, but I can't undecide it now. I'm still injured from my crashes earlier, and I probably look like a mess. I'd really just like to put some healing salve stuff on my cuts and bruises, then lie down and take a nap or something. I know it's a waste of valuable time that could be used productively though. Even if command can't possibly know what we're doing, I'll still force myself to keep working as long as I can. I'm used to not having breaks back on the moon anyway.
Having made my decision, I continue talking into the radio. "Actually, can we meet up near the human village?" I ask Ringo.
There's a slight beat before Ringo answers. "Sure!" She says excitedly. "I didn't know you were interested in checking it out! I don't have that much money left after yesterday though so we probably won't be able to buy much of anything, but it's still a pretty neat place from what I..."
"I'm not talking about sightseeing. I have another lead," I cut her off. I didn't really mean that we were going there for fun, but I guess she wouldn't know that. "It might be easier to explain when we actually meet up."
"Oh, alright, that's good too I guess," Ringo sounds a little disappointed. I'm not sure whether she's honestly sad or she's just playing it up to make me feel bad. "We'll head over that way then. Where exactly should we meet up? I'm the only one who's been there, so you're not going to know any land marks. Over."
I hadn't really thought it through that much. "Uh, you guys just go for now, we'll be there soon. If we don't see you before we get there I'll call and we can figure it out." I say. It's a little vague, but I don't have much to work with.
Ringo doesn't seem bothered by it though. "Gotcha. We'll just go straight there, so if you do the same you should end up in the same place. Over."
"Alright, see you then."
"Over and out."
Well, Ringo followed along with that pretty easily. It probably helps that she apparently had a good time there yesterday, but then she's pretty much always open to going along with suggestions that I make. I don't know if that ends up making her a better or worse leader.
Now I guess I should get back to Tewi. She had apparently been fine with just listening to my conversation, but now that I'm done she seems expectant.
"So? Storming down there right now to beat the answers out of Reisen?" She asks. She doesn't sound nearly as accusatory as her words would imply.
Even if I could do that I wouldn't really want to. "I just don't want to miss the chance. We're a little desperate," I say quickly, then realize that I don't like how that sounds. Tewi raises her eyebrow and frowns, so I should correct myself. "Er, well... We just need to do something. I didn't mean we were going to do anything drastic though," I'm probably not speaking very well here.
Tewi seems a bit annoyed by my word fumbling. "What do you think you're going to do?" She asks me clearly.
Okay, just calm down and think about this. We know that Reisen is in the village. We know where that is. We can find her, but what are we going to do then? Confronting her directly could work. It could also end in another lost danmaku duel or even worse. Just getting information on her general movements and figuring out a better time and way of approach may be better, though it's a bit of a passive plan.
"For now... I think we should just find her, see what she's doing, and decide how we're going to talk to her," I take a deep breath and explain. "We only want information, but she might react badly if we just pop up out of nowhere. Especially in a big group."
Tewi looks slightly less defensive after my explanation, so I guess it worked. "So what, you think it'll be better after today when Eirin mentions that you were looking for her?" She asks.
"I actually didn't mention anything about Reisen when I met Eirin," I hadn't really been thinking about it at the time, but I'm kind of proud of myself for avoiding letting that bit of info slip. It might not make a difference though, since Eirin will probably mention us either way. "In any case, we can make decisions on a case by case basis," I add lamely. "For example, I think it might help if you came with us."
Tewi smirks at me. "Not used to planning things?"
Is it that obvious? Actually I don't know if it's that or just a general awkwardness problem. I've had to plan lots of things now. "I don't know why they keep having me make the decisions." I sigh, looking over at Chiyo. She apparently has no comment though.
Tewi thinks for a moment before shrugging. "Yeah, I'll come with," She decides. "If anything, it might keep her from blowing your head off. No promises though." How reassuring.
Without much left to say, we lift off out of the forest. Once we're clear of the bamboo, I'm reminded of how bright the sun is. While it does make it easier to tell the time (sometime around 1 or 2ish?) and which way we're going, the sudden blast of brightness once we're in the open air is a little rough on my eyes. My eyes had been pretty adjusted for the forest.
The flight to the village is pretty quiet. I would try talking with Tewi, but even putting aside the problems that I already have with holding a conversation during flight, I'm still not sure where exactly she stands. She seemed to tense up at the idea of us actually confronting Reisen, but for pretty much everything else has seemed just mildly amused. It almost felt like she wasn't really taking us seriously, as long as we weren't planning on messing with Reisen.
As we approach the human village, it's not hard to see Ringo and Yuzuki. Apparently from the angle that we came from, we're mostly crossing over empty fields and farmlands, so it's easy to pick out a couple of rabbits standing out in the open.
We land near them, on a path that leads around the village. It seems like we're relatively far from an actual entrance to the village walls, but that probably won't matter that much considering our ability to fly. Ringo and Yuzuki walk over to the rest of us, obviously curious about the rabbit they don't recognize.
I guess I should do introductions for everyone here. "This is Ringo and Yuzuki," I say, pointing out which is which for Tewi's benefit. "Guys, this is Tewi."
"Inaba." Tewi adds. Oh right, last names. That cultural thing that I forget about sometimes.
"Oooooh. The boss bunny herself," Ringo says enthusiastically, quickly moving in front of Tewi. She holds her hand out for a handshake and rattles off her full title quickly. "Chief Information Management Officer Ringo, from the special infiltration Eagle Ravi unit."
Tewi doesn't seem impressed, but shakes Ringo's hand all the same. "That doesn't mean a lot to me. You could have been making it up for all I know."
Ringo smiles widely. "Well I wanted to say it since I haven't said it in a while."
"Pretty proud of yourself?" Tewi smirks back.
"Mostly just wanted to sound cool."
"Well, you tried at least." Ringo and Tewi both laugh at that.
I want to try and keep things going here. "I ran into Tewi in the forest." I start explaining.
"But only after you ran into a hole in the ground." Tewi cuts me off.
"That would explain the clothes and the injuries." Yuzuki says, looking me up and down.
"Anyway!" Let's keep things going here people! "Tewi's told me that Reisen is in the village right now, so I'd like to find her and figure out how we're going to talk to her."
"Hey, nice job Seiran," Ringo turns to me and pats me on the back. Ow. Am I injured there too? Ugh. "Where do we go to find her then?"
I don't actually know the specifics. "Tewi?" I prompt the earth rabbit.
"Reisen and Eirin have both made it a point to tell me not to bother Reisen while she's doing her job," Tewi says. "Not that I haven't done it anyway, but I haven't done it so much that I know where she's going to be at any given time." Okay, that's not a lot of help.
"What's her job?" Yuzuki asks.
"Eirin has her selling medicine," Tewi explains. Well that's not too surprising. Eirin probably makes all kinds of stuff that people would want. I know a ton of her inventions are still being sold on the moon. "Generally she has her stand set up in the mornings for selling over the counter stuff and taking orders, then during the afternoon she goes around delivering orders from previous days."
"So right now she'd be delivering things." I point out the obvious without thinking, but luckily nobody points it out.
"Yeah, we don't really know where she'll be." Tewi responds.
"Well, we could split up and look around," Ringo suggests. "It'd make it easier on us for not alerting her too."
"About that, can I ask something?" Says a voice that I haven't heard for a while.
We hadn't really forgotten Chiyo, or at least I hadn't. We're all just used to her not talking a whole lot. "Sure, go ahead."
"Can I go back to camp? I'm uh..." She trails off, looking at Tewi for a moment before turning back to me. "Feeling sick."
Oh right, Chiyo's power. She's had her reaction speed increased by speeding up her perception of time for quite a while now. Generally when she uses her power like this, it'll push back hard on her when she turns it off. That means that her reaction speed will be greatly decreased, which makes it kind of hard for her to be all that useful. She probably wants to go back to camp now so she can turn her power off in a relatively safe environment. If we tell her no, she'll probably accept it and keep her power on, but that might make it hard for her when she finally gets a chance to turn it off.
Having one less rabbit around for the search might not be that big of a deal. Ringo already mentioned an idea of splitting into groups, but it's not strictly necessary. Splitting up would make it easier to cover more ground and use stealth though. A large group of rabbits walking through a human village might be a bit conspicuous.
[ ] Let Chiyo go back to camp [ ] Keep Chiyo here
[ ] Stay together [ ] Break into groups - [ ] Specify groups
[x] Split up as to look less treatening. -[x] Group 1 Overt behaviour: Tewi and MC -[x] Group 2 Covert movements: the rest (do not engage without us)
The idea is that Group 1 is to talk to Reisen while Group 2 works as backup if things go south. She's not as likely to react badly to a wounded, solitary moon rabbit; even less if it is escorted by Tewi.
[X] Let Chiyo go back to camp [X] Break into groups - [X] Seiran and Tewi - [X] Ringo and Yuzuki
For what it's worth, I'm fine with letting Chiyo go back. She already helped me out plenty earlier in the day, and I don't want to push her too hard, especially since what we're doing now shouldn't be as dangerous as earlier in the day. She can go back, rest up and recover, then hopefully she'll be back to normal by tomorrow.
Despite all that, it's not completely my call to make. It's technically Ringo's decision, but we all know what that actually means. Ringo will go along with Chiyo's request as long as nobody presents a case against it, so it's really more me and Yuzuki than it is Ringo. I don't see a reason to keep her here, so it's down to Yuzuki.
Yuzuki walks over to Chiyo and leans down, bringing her concerned face down to Chiyo's level. "Are you going to be okay going back on your own?" She asks cautiously.
"I'll be fine," Chiyo quickly dismisses her worry.
"You may want to hide near the portal if it gets too bad. It would be safer there."
"I'll be fine," Chiyo repeats in the exact same tone as before.
Yuzuki continues anyway. "If you run into trouble, there are extra radios in the equipment tent. They're in the second stack of boxes on the right, top box."
"They won't go far enough for me to call you from camp anyway." Chiyo points out.
"Well then fly until they do."
Chiyo lets out a quick sigh. "Okaaaay mooooom."
I notice Yuzuki twitch slightly in annoyance, but her voice still keeps the same concerned tone. "Just be careful." She concludes. Good enough I guess.
Everybody in the unit already knows the usual flow of these things, so with Yuzuki's advice time settled, Chiyo lifts off and flies away without waiting for Ringo's opinion. Is it bad for us to do that or are we just too used to each other? Whatever. Now that Chiyo has left, I turn back to the village. From this angle all I can really see is the walls and the tops of some buildings.
"So, any plans?" I ask to start things off.
"Maybe we should split up into groups," Yuzuki suggests. "We can call each other if we need to, while also covering more ground that way,"
I had already thought of that. Actually, everyone probably has. Discussing it might be more of a formality than anything else. I'm ready to ask who should group with who when Ringo reminds us of our guest. "Does Tewi have any suggestions?" I guess it's worth it to ask for her input. She knows this place better than we do after all.
"Nah, I think you're fine," Tewi responds casually before launching into an explanation. "Reisen is usually delivering stuff at this point, so there's a couple of places she could be. Most deliveries are either to people sick enough that they need the best medicine you can get in Gensokyo, or people with enough money to afford that kind of stuff. It's still residential areas either way, just that those two types of people live in different areas."
"Well, some of us haven't done any visits to the human village," Yuzuki says, looking meaningfully at Ringo. "We should split up in a way that allows both groups to know where they're going."
Ringo doesn't seem bothered by Yuzuki's passive aggressive comment, though it's pretty obvious that she caught it. "Well I was only there for a day, knew that I shoulda went everywhere and memorized everything."
"All you really need to do is stay in the village and go to the not commercial areas," Tewi says. "It's not hard."
"Yeah, fair," Ringo shrugs. "Still might be better to not have Yuzuki and Seiran go together when they haven't been here before."
"I'll go with you then." Tewi decides quickly, turning to me. "Chief whatever officer and team mom can go together."
Putting aside the fact that she didn't call any of us by names, I don't really have a problem with that. "Uh, sure I guess." It might be nice to have Yuzuki's power when the objective is searching, but I guess it's not happening that way for me.
"Alright, we'll go this way and enter through the western gate, so we'll be closer to the wealthier places. You guys can go around that way and enter through the east." Tewi points to either end of the road as she explains.
"Right," Ringo says, turning the way that Tewi pointed her. "Just remember, don't engage with Reisen, call each other first. We'll decide what to do from there. Good luck."
It's a simple enough mission, so with that, we're ready to get started. Tewi and I head down the road to the west, walking around the wall. Thinking about it, I'm not that sure why the wall is all that necessary. If pretty much all the humans already live in the village they don't really need to keep people out, and youkai would probably have numerous ways to circumvent a simple wood and stone wall. I guess it's more for the illusion of protection than anything.
After a few minutes of silent walking along a dull path, I start to consider some of those ways to get past the wall quickly. An obvious one springs to mind quickly, and I can't help but vocalize it. "We could just fly over the walls." I suggest to Tewi.
Tewi shrugs while making a complicated expression. "Eh, it's a little rude to do that. Usually you'd at least want to talk to the guard so somebody knows they have a youkai in the village. It at least means that somebody else is partially to blame if you cause trouble," She explains. "You might be on to something there though, considering the weapon."
"What?" Oh wait, right, the mallet. Honestly, I'm so used to carrying it around that I don't think about it that much.
"You probably shouldn't carry that hammer around now." Tewi clarifies.
She kind of has a point, but I don't really have any options. "Well I can't just get rid of it." I am kind of attached to it. I don't really remember how many years it's been since I figured out how to use it to focus my powers, but it has been a long time.
"Why? What's it for?" Tewi asks.
It's a fair question, but I feel like maybe I shouldn't answer it. Explaining my powers to people does kind of weird them out a lot of the time. "Uh, well, pounding mochi but uh..." I don't really have a good lie prepared though.
"Riiiight," Tewi doesn't really believe my answer, but doesn't press me for a better one. "Well, I guess we'll have to pop over the wall then. Promise to be on your best behavior though, or I'm pinning everything on you if we get caught. I'm probably doing that anyway though."
I wasn't really planning on causing any problems. I'm already injured and in potentially very hostile territory, it's not like I'm going to act stupid. I try not to be indignant as Tewi and I float over the wall and enter the village proper.
The village itself is... Not wholly unfamiliar to me actually. There's an obvious and significant technological downgrade, but the architecture really is pretty similar to some of the more old style Japanese inspired sections of the Lunar Capital. Granted, most of my recent years have been spent outside the capital on various military installations, usually the one near Mare Crisium, but it's not been so long that this kind of place really throws me off. Not more than anything else on Earth anyway.
What is unfamiliar is the people. I've seen a few humans of course, we just talked to a couple today, but suddenly seeing hundreds of them milling about like this just makes me realize how much of a different world this is.
With rabbits, okay, well, we have differences between ourselves too, but it just doesn't feel as pronounced as the variance I see between humans. Short, fat, tall, children, elderly, men, women of all shapes and sizes. Maybe I'm just too used to rabbits to see the differences between us as being as big of a deal, but I think we're just a little more consistent. All of us have the same red eyes and floopy ears at least. Aside from generally being the same biped shape, which us rabbits do just as well, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of forced consistency between human appearances. Maybe this is part of what the Lunarians talk about when they talk about purity or something. Lunarians seem to be more similar in appearance than humans too.
As we walk out from the alleys near the wall and into the streets, I definitely notice people looking at us. I can kinda see what Ringo was talking about before by how they try to subtly shrink away from Tewi and I. They're not rioting and trying to kick us out of the village, but they don't exactly seem like they're going to invite us to any parties any time soon. I can live with that. I'm used to it from back home, and we're not really supposed to be making friends with the locals here anyway. I guess the mallet might also be making it worse. At least it's clean today. Sometimes after I use it to pound mochi the stains on it can make it look a little bit intimidating.
I mostly let Tewi lead the way, since she's obviously more knowledgeable about where we're going. I just try to be as non-threatening and inconspicuous as possible while we work our way through all the people that are out and about. It's currently afternoon, so I imagine things are actually a bit less busy than they would be earlier in the morning or later into the evening. When I think of it like that, it's actually kind of surprising how many humans there are. Did command really want us to purify all of these people? That feels kind of... Wrong to me.
After a few minutes of somewhat claustrophobic moving through the streets, the crowds eventually thin out. I assume that means that we're out of the higher traffic commercial areas. A few more minutes after that, and Tewi slows to a stop.
"Alright, we're close to where most of the wealthy people are going to be living," Tewi explains to me. I do notice that the houses seem to be more newly constructed and larger, but it's not like they're mansions or anything. Maybe we're just on a border between districts though. "We probably shouldn't go knocking on people's doors asking for Reisen though. You have a plan for this?"
I had kind of been thinking about it, but probably not all that hard. I was kind of distracted by the village and everything. "We could do a stakeout, though picking a spot for it would be a little tough when we have nothing to go on," I think out loud. "Maybe just keep walking and hope we're lucky?"
Tewi smirks. "I am pretty lucky." I guess she's okay with that plan, as haphazard as it is.
After having decided on a course of action, the two of us keep moving. Since we're now in an area that we're expecting (more like hoping really) for Reisen to be, things slow down a bit. I decide that we should stay off main roads, sticking with alleyways as much as possible. I don't want Reisen to see us first. Tewi doesn't seem too excited about it, but I manage to convince her by simply taking the lead.
Since she's not focused on leading me now, only following, Tewi apparently decides that now is a good time to socialize for some reason. "So did you only know about Reisen through your telepathy thing or...?"
Oh, this. This seems like a fair question. "I actually knew Reisen back on the moon," I explain. "Well, I didn't really know her that well. We weren't really friends, but I knew who she was, and she knew who I was."
"Hm, alright," Tewi says, then pauses for a while. She seems to be figuring out how to phrase her next question. "How did you feel about it when she deserted?"
I feel like that's a bit of a loaded question. Well, it's more like Tewi made no attempt to hide that it was. I'm pretty sure Tewi is trying to figure out where I stand with regards to Reisen, which makes sense. She's trying to judge if I'm a danger to her friend or not. I could just give an easy answer to appease her, but I think it might be better to be honest here.
[ ] I was happy for her. She got away from a potentially dangerous situation while she could. [ ] I was kind of jealous. I would have run away too, but I didn't have a plan like she did. [ ] I was sad. I didn't really know her that well, but it was still hard to wrap my head around never seeing her again. [ ] I was a bit angry honestly. We rabbits aren't known for it, but we should try to have at least some kind of loyalty. [ ] I didn't think it was that big of a deal.
(This is less about saying what Tewi wants to hear and more about saying what Seiran actually thinks.)
[X] I was sad. I didn't really know her that well, but it was still hard to wrap my head around never seeing her again.
While I make up my mind on exactly what I'm going to say, I take a step back. I was peering out from the alleyway into the street, but I guess we're having serious talking time now, so I should try to stay in cover. It's pretty much deserted around here, so it might not end up to be necessary, but I don't know how long this conversation is going to take.
Even though it was over forty years ago now, Reisen's disappearance still sticks out pretty well in my memory. That was the first time that I can remember really hearing about any of the rabbits actually making it to Earth. Most of the time when a rabbit gets too stir crazy and tries something drastic, they don't have the planning and skill to actually get anywhere. So how did I actually feel about it? Well it's not that hard to remember.
"I was sad," I begin. I hope Tewi doesn't think that I'm just giving her whatever answer she wants to hear. I'm actually being honest right now. "I didn't really know her that well, but it was still hard to wrap my head around never seeing her again."
"Keep talking," Tewi repeats. "I'm curious. I've known Reisen for a while, but she still tries not to talk about the specifics of when she was on the moon too much. Really all three of them are like that." She almost seems a little annoyed.
Well I guess that's Lunarians for you. They'd probably be even less likely to talk to Earth rabbits about anything important than they are with Moon rabbits. I would have expected Reisen to be more open to sharing information, but then I can't really remember her being that active on the comms before either. Maybe she's just less interested in gossiping than most of us. That's kind of rare for rabbits, but not unheard of.
"Well uh..." What does she want from me? I don't think there was anything wrong with the answer I already gave, but I keep talking anyway. "It took a while for the rumors to stabilize and people to stop guessing wildly at what actually happened. After the investigation ended and Reisen's CO was informed officially though, everybody heard the truth. It was just really weird and jarring for me. I remember seeing her a couple of days before she went missing, then all of the sudden I had to suddenly accept that I would never see her again. It's just not something that I've ever dealt with before. I think that the rabbits actually in her unit had it worse though. They suddenly had to deal with having one less soldier while we were already prepping for war."
"What, did Reisen have some kind of important job?" Tewi looks a little skeptical for some reason. Did I say anything weird?
"No, not really. It's just that the recruitment rate for the Lunar Defense Corps is actually pretty low," I explain. "Most rabbits aren't very loyal to any real cause, so people are never really that quick to join up. The Lunarians are okay with that though. It's kind of stressful on resources to let the military bloat in size during peacetime." Most of us don't really do that much during peacetime honestly. Just drills and stuff. We're not exactly all that productive or useful to the rest of society.
"But you were at war then." Tewi points out.
"Well, I think conscription would have happened at some point if the fighting got serious. It never really did though." And all of us are pretty thankful about that.
"It never really did..." Tewi thinks to herself before getting an uncomfortable look on her face. "Eugh." She grimaces.
Tewi moves away to look out onto the main street. I guess she's fine with my answer and is okay with moving on, but I'm kind of confused about her reaction just now.
"What was that noise for?" I ask, following as she steps out of the alley.
"Just thinking about stuff," That doesn't explain anything Tewi! She continues before I can say that though. "Anyway, looks like you actually do get to see her again. Glad to be the one that cures your sadness. I take cash only, just so you know."
I wasn't exactly sad about it for over forty years, but whatever. "Well, we do have to actually find her." I decide to ignore her last sentence, I don't have any money anyway.
"She'll be here somewhere." Tewi responds confidently.
Even though Tewi seems sure about it, the results aren't exactly immediate. It probably has something to do with the fact that we're just going at this randomly though. We continue wandering through alleyways and peeking out along streets, occasionally doubling back to check areas that we've already looked in case we happen to miss Reisen. It's not the most efficient way to do things, but we don't have a better way to do it. If only we had more Yuzukis around...
Can I just say that Earth really needs some more city planners? The whole area just feels kind of thrown together, like they just plopped down houses and mansions whenever they needed a new one, paying little mind to whether the new buildings would make navigating the area a pain. I would expect the rich and powerful to be a bit more mindful about that kind of thing, but maybe the humans here are just really concerned with showing off how they could afford a bigger and nicer house than the next guy over. This kind of thing wouldn't have happened on the moon, but then, I guess I can thank our more well structured government for that.
After a while with no results, Tewi seems to get a little annoyed. I was kind of expecting this to take a while, but I guess she was hoping it wouldn't. I feel like I should say something to ease the tension here, though I don't really have a good idea what.
"Maybe you could try flying?" I suggest to Tewi, I think she's trying to make it obvious that she feels restless. "It wouldn't be a big deal if she notices you, right?"
"Hmm..." Tewi thinks about it for a moment before a wide smirk shows on her face. "I guess. Worst I'd get is her being annoyed with me, and obviously I'm a good girl who would never want to do something that annoyed my good friend Reisen."
I'm pretty sure she was making a joke there, but it's not all that funny to me. I don't really get it. "Sooo, are you gonna try it then?"
Tewi's smirk doesn't fade even though I'm not playing along. "Yup." She declares before lifting off and floating above the buildings.
We continue, now with Tewi watching from the air. She occasionally drifts off to a side somewhere to get a better look at things, but she always seems to return back above me shortly after. I have to assume that no news is bad news in this case. Things go on like this for a while. At one point I notice that Tewi has gotten food from somewhere, but she doesn't offer me any. Rude. I haven't eaten since breakfast and have kind of exerted myself today.
A while after THAT though, something actually seems to happen. After finally making my way around the outside of a particularly large estate, Tewi suddenly zips down and lands in front of me. "Got her." She says triumphantly.
"You found her?" I get a little excited. Finally some results!
Tewi nods. "Yep. She was wearing her disguise thing, but I kind of expected that, so it was pretty easy." I don't know exactly what Tewi's referring to here, but it probably doesn't matter that much.
"Did she see you?" I think this is the more important question. I would hope Tewi wouldn't come back to me if she had been spotted, but I want to make sure.
"Doubt it. She's got that big hat on, and she probably would have reacted if she saw me." Tewi responds.
Nice! "Alright. Good job!" I say happily.
I reach for my radio to call the others, though I'm not sure exactly what we're going to do once they're here. Before I bring it up to my face though, it clicks on and starts talking.
"Seiran, we have a bit of a problem here." I was expecting Ringo, but it's Yuzuki instead.
I can hear some muffled yelling in the background, but the radio isn't high enough quality for me to hear actual words from it. Oh no. "What is it?"
Yuzuki sounds a bit nervous while she explains. "I don't know exactly, a group of humans came up to Ringo suddenly, and one of them started yelling about wanting his money back. They're arguing right now, and I'm a bit worried about the scene they're causing. I don't know if I can calm things down."
I can hear myself groaning. Why did this have to happen now? Of course they would run into the guy that Ringo beat up and took money from yesterday, and it sounds like he brought friends. I don't think that Yuzuki is going to deescalate that situation by herself.
It should be easy for Ringo and Yuzuki to just fly away, but they could get followed. I don't want to bring an angry mob here to meet Reisen, but not having the others here means dealing with the Reisen situation myself.
About Ringo and Yuzuki's situation... [ ] Tell Yuzuki to come here while trying to lose the humans [ ] Tell Yuzuki to fly out of the village to lose the humans [ ] Tell Yuzuki to try and get the guards involved in breaking up what is probably going to be a fight [ ] Tell Yuzuki to let Ringo deal with it [ ] Go over there to try and solve the situation
About Reisen [ ] Have Tewi track her until the other problem is resolved [ ] Try to approach her as soon as possible [ ] Just watch her, we can talk to her when she leaves the village
Write-ins are very much welcome here. (I am only getting slower and slower at writing updates oh god why)
[X] Tell Yuzuki to fly out of the village to lose the humans [X] Just watch her, we can talk to her when she leaves the village
I can't help but groan again. Even though Ringo brought this on herself, it's still inconveniencing the rest of us. I know that Ringo isn't really going to be in any trouble, she most likely still has some dango in her system, but it's still worth worrying about Yuzuki. She doesn't have any particular defense against an angry human mob. Well, other than flying away I guess. That's probably the best idea here.
"No, don't try to calm things down, it's probably a lost cause," I respond to Yuzuki. I have no idea what she could even try to say that would help the situation. "I should have guessed that something like this could happen." Actually, that's probably even more true of Ringo, and I doubt she's going to be sorry about it!
"So we should just disengage?" Yuzuki asks rhetorically. "We haven't found anything yet. Do you want to meet us somewhere?"
Well Tewi and I have found something, but I think that Yuzuki's situation might be a bit more urgent than mine. "Just go out of the village for now," I suggest. Explaining everything can come later, I should be as decisive as I can now. "You don't want to cause more of a scene by getting chased around town."
"It'll probably be harder to lose them once we're out in the open, but I suppose you have a point. I'll try to keep you posted as..." Yuzuki is cut off by sudden yelling in the background. "I'll call you back later!"
The radio goes silent. I guess I just have to leave it up to the two of them for now and hope that they do the right thing. This is all Ringo's fault though, so maybe doing that is misplaced trust. I dunno. Maybe I should talk with Ringo later and see if she learns a lesson off of this. That would be nice.
While I had been talking on the radio, Tewi had been waiting patiently, most likely listening to my conversation based on the smug look on her face. She's sitting down, slumped casually against a nearby wall, apparently not nearly as bothered by this as I am.
"Sounds like there's a problem." She almost sounds like she's teasing me, and I don't really appreciate that. This is kind of serious.
"It's fine," I declare bluntly. I know I shouldn't be embarrassed about Ringo doing something dumb, but I still kind of am. "Some of us may not be used to interacting with human society yet, but we're fine."
"If it's a fight about money, then that's probably the most human thing you could do actually," Tewi laughs. "Not that I'm one to talk."
"Ringo didn't need money for anything important. Although I will admit it's probably better to have some just in case." If command had known we were going to be stuck like this without stealth, I'm sure they would have given us some Earth money.
Tewi stands up and dusts herself off. "Yup, money makes the world go 'round. If anything, you're lucky that the guy's trying to confront her directly instead of just getting a guard involved."
I had considered mentioning the guards, but decided against it. Ringo only had the excuse that she fought the guy off originally in self defense, and I'm not sure how exactly that would have gone over with the human authorities. I don't know enough about the situation to make a call on whether it was a good idea or not, so I opted for safety instead of bringing in another unknown. Again, I guess I'm just going to have to trust that the others can see this through on their own. "Anyway, can you lead me to Reisen now?"
"Hm? Ah yeah. There's no rush though. I saw her heading into a house, so she'll be around that area even if we take a bit," Tewi says, lifting off and hovering in the air a bit above me. "What are you thinking you're gonna do about her?"
Well, I could just fly over and try to talk to her, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't dreading the idea a bit. Honestly I'm not sure how this is going to go when it's just me and Tewi. I think I can justify putting it off just a little bit longer though. I can use the time to try and think of what to say.
"Like I said before, for now I'll just observe," I reason to Tewi. "Last time we met we ended up fighting each other, so she may have a bad reaction if I try to talk to her now. I'd like to at least be out of the village when that happens."
"Yeah, I guess two separate groups of rabbits causing a scene on the same day is bad for business." Tewi doesn't look all that excited, maybe she knows I'm stalling? She accepts my reasoning either way though. I don't know who's business she's referring to, but it probably applies to all of us rabbits. I don't know if we're going to be back in the village much after this, but we may have already worn out our welcome.
Tewi starts flying away, so I lift off to follow her. It's just a short flight over to another section of the residential village we've been searching before Tewi comes to a stop. "We should probably just focus on not being noticed." Right. I don't like it, but I realize I should probably turn my radio off. Sorry Yuzuki. "She should come out of that house." Tewi points out one of the smaller houses before leading me down to another alley where we can observe the entrance without being all that obvious.
After a few minutes, someone does come out. Huh, if I hadn't specifically been told it was her, I wouldn't have immediately realized that that's Reisen. Aside from the bundled up purple hair, there isn't really much else to give her away. Almost all of her skin is covered up, either in her plain clothing or the wraps around her limbs, and her ears are hidden underneath the large conical hat that she has on. Is that much disguise really necessary? Are the rest of us just really under-dressed? I would have thought Tewi would have said something if that's the case.
I feel somewhat nervous trailing her, but if Reisen notices Tewi and I, she doesn't give any indication. Tewi seems a bit more used to this than I am, so I let her lead the way as we follow along. Reisen's job seems to consist of just walking to random houses, entering them for a few minutes, then coming out and going to the next one. This makes it fairly easy to shadow her without being noticed, but also makes it a little boring.
"Is she going to be doing this until evening?" I ask Tewi as Reisen vanishes into the fourth house. I'm prepared for this to take a while, but I'm also still a little worried about the others.
"She shouldn't be," Tewi responds, still watching the door that Reisen entered. "Reisen usually comes back to Eientei well before then so she can do chores and work on dinner. She'll head back once all her deliveries are done."
After two more houses, Reisen finally finishes making stops, and instead heads for the nearest exit to the village. I notice that she's walking the whole way instead of flying, even though her job is apparently done. Even when she makes it out of the gate, she continues walking. Is she going to walk all the way back? I guess she's not in much of a hurry.
Okay, now that we're out of the village, I need to actually decide what I'm going to do here...
[ ] Friendly approach. We shot each other, but it was no big deal. Let's just talk it out. I just hope she doesn't shoot me again. [ ] Bargaining approach. I just want information. Once I know what happened to the portal I won't bother her or Eirin again. [ ] Hostile approach. We are trapped here because of her. I have a right to be at least a little upset. [ ] Don't approach. I mean, we know where she is most days now so we can figure out something later, it's not like we have to rush this and... Wait Tewi what are you doing!? [ ] Something else?
[X] Friendly approach. We shot each other, but it was no big deal. Let's just talk it out. I just hope she doesn't shoot me again.
Okay, when we met each other a couple of days ago I had tried to act tough about it. I was just trying to do my job, but that obviously ended in combat. It was only nonlethal combat though, it's not like Reisen did anything horrible to me after it ended. Considering how Gensokyo actually has defined rules for that kind of duel, maybe that was just business as usual for her and I'm making a big deal about this for no reason. If I approach her amiably and act like our previous fight was no big deal, I can hopefully avoid any kind of combat. Maybe.
Alright, let me think. Do I look okay? No, I already know the answer to that. It's not like I've gotten a chance to look in the mirror or anything, but I can see just by looking down that I'm a bit of a mess. Actually, it may be better that way. I must look less threatening when it looks like I've gotten the something kicked out of me already.
We're just in open fields outside of the village, so I guess there isn't any better or worse place to try and talk to Reisen for a while. Unless we follow for a long time, it'll have to be on this plain dirt road. I guess that should be fine though. It's a bit of an open area, so there isn't really anywhere to run if things go badly, but I really need to stop thinking like that.
I feel like it would be way easier if Tewi would talk first. Looking back to her though, I notice that she's giving me some kind of expectant look. Seems like she doesn't really agree with me. The look does feel a bit more intense than it needs to be though. Well, I guess I am kind of stalling a bit here. I can just get Reisen's attention now, it's just hard for me to not get caught up in thinking about how to make everything work out okay.
I fly over Reisen's head. I guess there's no need to be stealthy now, since I'm going to want her attention anyway. I think I should land a comfortable enough distance in front of her that I don't seem threatening. I am still carrying a hammer after all. I touch down to the ground and look directly at Reisen. Okay, she's surprised, that much is easy to see even with the big hat and all the coverings. I don't blame her. If I were her I wouldn't have expected to be found either.
I think I should try to give her a nice smile here. Something like this? "Hi again Reisen!" Was that natural sounding? Well, I guess it doesn't have to be, it's pretty obvious that we're not meeting by coincidence.
Reisen doesn't immediately start shooting, which I think is a good sign. Actually, I don't think she has her gun on her. Although that probably doesn't matter considering the whole magical bullets thing. When we fought before she was able to shoot them from her hands and from just summoning them around her too. I think she had to have her hands shaped like a gun though. Yeah, kinda like how she's cautiously tensing her hands right now in preparation... Okay I should keep talking!
"So I just want to say right away that I'm here peacefully and I don't want to fight you again," I start off quickly. I don't think she was actually going to shoot before I said anything, but I don't want to take the chance. "I was just doing my job and you were doing yours. My job has kind of changed now, so I wanted to come and ask if we could talk and figure things out."
Reisen at least stops making a finger gun, but still looks at me cautiously. "How did you find me?" She asks. Well, that's a fair question, but it looks like Tewi's already moving to answer it.
"Yo," Tewi says happily, tapping on Reisen's right shoulder, then moving over to her left when she turns her head, forcing a double-take. "You've been keeping some pretty interesting things a secret Reisen."
"Tewi! What are you doing?" Reisen asks once she turns the right way. "You know she's from the moon, right? Why are you helping her?"
"Because I talked to her and figured out if she seemed like a threat or not." Tewi answers casually. "She's seems fine by me for the most part." What does that 'for the most part' mean?
"It's your job to protect Eientei from them."
Tewi smirks. "Well we're not at Eientei now, are we? We're outside the human village."
It doesn't feel like that was a very good argument, but Reisen still doesn't argue back. Instead she seems to lose herself in thought for a bit. She groans nervously as she unconsciously rubs her hand on the back of her neck. She turns her head to look back at village, then takes her hat off before groaning again. Is it weird to say that she's prettier than I remember? Her hair might be a little messy from being bundled up in her hat all day, but when it all falls out like that it's kind of a stunning effect.
Anyway, I guess I should try to keep things going. She's not being hostile, though she's obviously not happy that I'm here. "I'm not trying to cause any more trouble," I try to be reassuring, though that's usually not my thing. "You destroyed the drone, so it's not like we can do anything here now anyway."
Reisen reluctantly turns to look at me again. "R-right. So they haven't pulled you back yet?" She asks.
Well, I could say that we couldn't go back even though we want to, considering that she broke the portal, but that might be a bit too accusatory. I'm trying to be nice here, so I'll try to bring it up gradually. "Comms are down right now, so we haven't heard any orders for a while."
I see Reisen gasp just a tiny bit. "They don't work for you too?" She asks, almost sounding a little... hopeful?
"No, they haven't worked since some time after you came back out of the portal."
Reisen lets out a big sigh of relief. "Oh, I thought they had just kicked me off of it." She says. Wait, could they even do that? I'm pretty sure that the comms are an inborn ability of the lunar rabbits, though I haven't really put much thought into how it all actually works. Even if Command could keep one specific rabbit out of everyone else's conversations, wouldn't they have done that the forty whatever years ago that she deserted?
Regardless, I still need to bring up the portal. "So yeah, we're still here because we can't contact Command," I continue. "Comms are down, and the portal isn't working, so we're kind of stuck."
Reisen's expression of relief seems to freeze. "The passageway isn't working?" She asks. Uh... "Why wouldn't it be working?"
Wait, if she's not responsible for it then... "Well I thought that you... um..."
"I didn't do anything to the portal when I used it. It was still working when I left. I thought you guys were going to use it to go back to the moon and that would be that."
The two of us stay quiet for a bit after that. Reisen seems to look about as worried as I feel. If Reisen is being honest, and I don't really have a good reason to think that she isn't, then she's not responsible for the portal being broken. That means we have no leads. Zero leads. Nothing to go on. We have no way of knowing how we're going to fix the portal and get back to the moon. We are actually stuck here and don't know what to do. The portal is not only broken but we have no way to know the who, how, or why of it.
"I need to go." Reisen says suddenly, breaking me out of my thoughts.
"I need to go talk to Master." She repeats before quickly walking forward toward me.
Reisen ignores my weak protest as she strides past me. "No, this is wrong. I thought I solved everything, but you're still here because the portal was closed. Who could have..." She trails off her mumbling suddenly.
I could try to stop her and get more information. I still don't know what happened with her on the Moon, but she seems intent on going back to Eientei and talking to Eirin. She might not be open to continuing our talk until she's had a chance to discuss things with her master. That doesn't help me though, we're still stuck with no leads in the meantime.
I guess I could try to follow Reisen back to Eientei, but even ignoring the danger of going back toward where Eirin is, Reisen probably wouldn't be crazy about me following her to her home. I suppose I can try asking her questions along the way, but that puts me farther away from the other rabbits when I'm done, and isn't guaranteed to work.
Maybe I could just send Tewi back with Reisen instead of going myself. The problem there is that it means placing a lot of trust in Tewi to bring info back to me. She's under no obligation to help me, and would definitely side with the people she lives with over the random Moon rabbits she just met today if anything goes wrong.
[ ] Stop Reisen and demand more information [ ] Follow Reisen back toward Eientei, trying to get her to talk along the way [ ] Ask Tewi to follow Reisen and bring any information back [ ] Let Reisen go for now, but remind her where camp is, just in case she wants to come visit (with information)
>>26920 Reisen knows where the camp is anyway. She had to go through it during the incident to get to the moon. All this choice will reveal to her is that it hasn't moved, which she would find out immediately anyway if she came looking anyway.
Although I should probably add "Should I try to talk everyone into moving camp somewhere else?" to the list of decisions Seiran's going to want to work out at her next opportunity.
[X] Let Reisen go for now, but remind her where camp is, just in case she wants to come visit (with information)
Without really thinking about it, I move to follow after Reisen. There has to be more that she can tell me. When I catch another glimpse of her face though, I think about it and quickly come to a stop. She is stressed. It's written all over her face and how she's walking and in what she said. Well, I guess I'm sorry that I couldn't go back to the moon and let her resolve her incident easily, but I'm not so sorry that I'm going to push her into venting her stress on me. I'm already injured enough for today.
"Well, you know where our camp is," I say lamely to Reisen's back. "We're concerned about not being able to go back home too, so if you can tell us anything..."
Reisen doesn't turn around. She continues to speedwalk away without giving me a response. The only confirmation I get that she even heard me is a slight flinch somewhere in the middle of my speaking. I'm assuming that's not a good thing? Well, I'd like to feel bad about whatever I said, but she's not exactly being that reasonable.
I feel like it's a little unfair of Reisen to just leave the rest of us rabbits like this. We have no leads, and are stuck relying on her with no guarantee that she'll even want to help. I'd like to have something more definite to tell the others, but well, I guess I've done what I can. I'm just one soldier.
I'm interrupted from staring at Reisen's back when I suddenly feel a hand slap against my own. "Anyway, I'll be in touch about collecting." Tewi says casually as she steps out in front of me.
Wait, what does she mean? Oh, right. The favor. I'm not sure if putting her in touch with Command is something that they'd be okay with, but I guess that nothing is technically forcing me to keep my word either. I'd like to if I can though.
I decide not to worry about it for now and instead feel like I have to ask a more pressing question. "Is she okay?" I don't know that much about how Reisen normally acts, but she's definitely not in a good mood.
Tewi looks back at Reisen and shrugs. "Well it's not like I know all the specifics of the situation she's so worried about either," She says. "But yeah, she just needs to work through this and get back to normal. Reisen has... issues sometimes. I usually try to get her to lighten up about it, but ehhh."
Issues, huh? I probably shouldn't press too hard on that. It's not that uncommon for military rabbits with powers to wind up with a bit of mental baggage, even the ones that haven't seen combat. I know of a few examples like say... My entire unit.
"Okay..." I say, pausing for a bit before I realize I should probably say more before Tewi leaves. "Well, if you need us, I told you where our camp is."
"For sure," Tewi smiles as she starts walking after Reisen. "Gonna go catch up with her though. I don't think now would be the best time for her to fall into one of my traps."
I wasn't exactly happy when I fell into one either, you know. "Thanks for the help!" I say anyway. She is kind of responsible for the progress I made today.
Well, I don't know if it's progress exactly, but it's something. I guess it's kind of like the search for Sumi, where we're kind of stuck waiting for somebody more qualified to bring us results. Unlike that situation though, we don't really have anywhere else to go if that more qualified person doesn't come through for us.
Well, whatever, I'll call it progress I guess.
As Tewi and Reisen gradually disappear, I reach down and grab my radio, flicking it back on. Well at least nobody immediately starts yelling into it. Wait no, that wouldn't make sense. If there was actually trouble then I don't think the others would bother keeping the send button held down. I guess there's no reason to be relieved. Not that there's any reason to be worried either but... Oh whatever, I should just call them and stop spazzing.
"Hello? You guys there?" I ask.
The answer comes pretty much immediately, which is probably an actual good sign. "Seiran? You okay?" It's Yuzuki.
"Yeah. Tewi and I made some progress, but I needed the radio off for a while," I answer. There's a lot to explain here, but I kinda don't want to do it all over the radio while standing in an empty field. "You guys want to meet back up?"
"Sure, where are you?" I'm not exactly sure. There was a lot of walking and turning around while we were wandering around the village and shadowing Reisen. We probably exited through an east facing village exit, but I don't actually know how many of those there are, much less which one this is.
"I think I'm..." You know what? It's probably better not to risk being wrong. "Actually, maybe we should just go back to camp."
There's a slight pause. When Yuzuki continues, she sounds a bit disappointed. "I guess we can. Today was kind of a wash though, Ringo and I definitely didn't find anything."
"Don't worry about it," Wow, do I actually get to be the hero here? "Like I said, Tewi and I made some progress." I hear a quiet 'Nice!' from Ringo in the back ground.
"Okay, I guess we'll head back now then. We can have a meeting when we're all back."
"Okay, see you soon."
It takes a while to fly back from the village to camp. By the time I finally land back at the closest thing we currently have to a home it's kinda sorta evening. The sun isn't exactly setting, but it's definitely getting ready. We could probably squeeze more out of the day if we really needed to, but I am tired, sore, and hungry. I'd be okay with not going out for the rest of the day at least.
"Yo." Ringo says happily as I walk to the center table. I can't help but notice there's another bag of village bought dango sitting out. Ringo...
"Hey..." I answer awkwardly. I should probably say something disapproving here, but I'm not sure what.
"Ringo bought them while I wasn't watching." Yuzuki sighs. I notice that she's still nibbling on one though.
Well, I guess we can't undo it now. "With more stolen money?" I ask, plopping down in my normal seat and grabbing a dango.
Ringo doesn't seem bothered by my accusation. "I haven't used anything that wasn't fairly won in a contest of strength," She says casually. "I even offered to give him back the stuff that I actually did steal off him, but apparently that wasn't enough for his pride."
Ugh. I feel like I might actually need to sit down and have a serious conversation with Ringo about this. She doesn't seem at all bothered that she basically had an angry mob called on her due to her antics. I can put it off for now though, maybe it's still not worth making a big deal out of. "Is Chiyo coming?" I change the subject to get back to business.
"She declined," Yuzuki answers. "She's not in the best state for it." That's fair enough. She was pretty much always with me anyway, so there's not much for her to add. She could still come out here and listen, but maybe she has a headache or something. That's a pretty common side effect with her powers.
"So you said you have stuff to share Seiran?" Ringo asks, leaning forward in her chair.
"R-right." I guess this meeting was mostly my call, though I am a little curious what happened with the others as well. "Well, I found Reisen." I declare plainly, not really caring to build it up as some great accomplishment.
"But you didn't call us." Yuzuki points out. Right, that was kinda the plan.
"Well it was bad timing. You guys had your own issue." I explain, glancing at Ringo.
"Yes I suppose we did." Yuzuki agrees, doing the same, but with a much less pleasant look.
Ringo gives us an unconcerned look back. "... So about Reisen?" She asks after it seems like I'm not going on without prompting. Fine.
"Like Tewi said, we found Reisen making home deliveries of medicine. We just followed her around until she was done, then I flew down and talked to her. She wasn't immediately hostile, but I don't think she was all that happy to see me either. She didn't talk a whole lot, so I'm not completely sure how she feels but..." I might be rambling a bit, I should reign myself in a bit. "...I don't think she broke the portal. She was pretty shocked when I told her that we couldn't go back home. She could have been acting, but I doubt it. She was definitely worried enough that she wanted to rush back and talk to Eirin."
"So... She didn't help much?" Yuzuki asks awkwardly.
"Uh, not exactly..." Why did I call this progress again? "I did remind her where our camp is though, so hopefully she'll be nice enough to come back with more information after she's talked it over with Eirin."
"Do you think that Eirin will want her sharing info with us?" Yuzuki asks evenly.
"Um..." I don't really have anything to say to that.
"That'd also mean we need somebody around to meet her if she comes by. Group outings might be a bit tougher." Ringo points out.
"... Ugh..." Can't argue with that either.
I sit there awkwardly fidgeting for a moment. Maybe I should have done more... "Hey, relax. We'll make it work. It's not like there was any way you could force the answers out of Reisen right then and there." Ringo reassures me, reaching over to pat me on the back. She's not criticizing me, but I still find myself wishing that I was better at danmaku. The constant threat of 'she could probably riddle you with like a thousand new holes in like a second if she wanted to and you can't do anything about it' makes the relationship between myself and Reisen feel a bit unbalanced. "We followed the lead and got what we could from it. They're not all going to be instant wins."
I groan slightly as Ringo touches a sore spot. "Yeah... I've just had a rough day."
"You look like it," Ringo laughs, taking her hand off my back. "No offense."
None taken, I know I'm not at my cutest right now. "Yeah, I kinda want to patch myself up and rest for the rest of the evening. Is that okay?" I ask hopefully.
"Well we still have to finish the meeting. Aren't you curious about me and Yuzuki's chase sequence?" Ringo asks excitedly.
"Did anything interesting happen to you guys?"
"No," Yuzuki answers quickly before Ringo can. "It did take a bit for them to give up, but I think you made the right call telling us to leave the village. That was probably the best we could do with respect to staying out of the public eye."
"Well, I thought it was funny when the lead guy tripped and ate dirt, but yeah, I guess there's not much else to say about it," Ringo deflates a bit. Was she planning to tell some kind of story? It doesn't sound like there would have been much to it unless she lied about a lot of stuff. "Anyway, dismissed for the day and all that. Take it easy, do whatever, I'm in the mood to cook tonight, so look forward to it."
Once Ringo finishes, I stand up and immediately head for the equipment tent. I needed medical supplies a couple of hours ago, but now is still better than later. It shouldn't take that long to patch myself up anyway, then I can relax and spend the evening...
(Pick two, one before dinner and one after) [ ] By myself, I have a few things I need to think about. [ ] With Ringo - [ ] Maybe have a talk with her about her acting irresponsibly? - [ ] Just take it easy [ ] With Yuzuki - [ ] Practicing danmaku - [ ] Talking [ ] Checking on Chiyo
[X] By myself, I have a few things I need to think about. [X] Checking on Chiyo [X] With Ringo - [X] Maybe have a talk with her about her acting irresponsibly?
(I was going to ask for a tiebreaker, but then I realized I kinda wanted to write both of the second place options, so I stuck them all together in a way that made sense. Have a fuckhuge (for me) update)
I plop myself down on a random crate in the equipment tent and begin to work on patching myself up. When I actually get a chance to look myself over, I definitely feel a lot worse than I actually am. This healing stuff will fix up my actual injuries instantly, but it can't do much for me feeling dumb about getting hurt in the first place. Actually, I can't reach around to cover all of my back, so it's not even fixing all the physical injuries.
Ugh. Maybe I should get somebody else to help. Yuzuki would probably be fine with it, but maybe... Yeah, you know what, never mind. I can let that stuff heal naturally. I'm a youkai, it should work itself out pretty quickly. I think that instead of bothering somebody else, I'd like to use this time for myself. There's been a number of issues that I've put out of mind for now. First of all, equipment.
I stick the salve back in the medical kit and put it back where I found it. I've kinda been considering moving some medical supplies into my own tent, but the actual issue I'm thinking about here is a bit more general. All of the military equipment we own is just sitting in this tent. The thing about that is, we don't have a way to lock up the entrance. Even further, I'm not sure how effective locking it would even be against any really curious youkai that happened to come by. The fairy issue from a few days ago was resolved easily enough, but we got lucky there. It could have been something stronger. Something that we wouldn't have been able to track down and get our things back from.
As it is, openly using most of this stuff is a giant 'HEY LOOK WE'RE NOT FROM GENSOKYO' sign. It might be a good idea for us to move our things to somewhere more hidden or defensible for now. The underground bunker isn't being used right now. It's mostly just there to hold the portal, but since that's off, it's a hidden space that we're currently wasting. I think most of the equipment could fit down there right now if we actually took the time to haul it all down there. Although it'd probably be a bit more cramped and inconvenient than our current setup.
If we're moving things, maybe we could even go a step further. Why not move camp altogether? There's a ton of unoccupied land in Gensokyo that we could potentially move to. There's been a number of Gensokyo natives that have found where our camp is, and this would let us throw them off the trail. Granted, none of them have been hostile or even really looking for us other than Reisen, and even with her, I'm not sure if it's good or bad for her to know where we are. A potential move should probably wait until we understand the situation with her better.
------- [ ] We should be fine if we stay here. [ ] We should probably hide the equipment at least. [ ] We should move camp. [ ] This isn't my job to decide, I should just leave it up to Ringo. -------
Well, any idea I have here would take time anyway. It would also have to be run by the others, which could also cause some issues. They can be stubborn about things. In particular, we're pretty well established here, so Yuzuki might not be the most enthusiastic about moving. She likes being used to an area.
Speaking of Yuzuki, it pops into my mind that I promised to help her with danmaku this morning. I don't think she'll be expecting it to happen today, which is good, because I'm a bit too tired right now I think. Honestly, I'm not sure how productive these kinds of lessons would even end up being. I may know the basics much better than Yuzuki, but there's only so much I'll be able to do.
Somebody or other once said that experience is the best teacher, but I feel like we should have more to go on. Maybe if I could find out the actual rules from someone it would be a good start. Actually, if I go further with that line of thought, maybe it would be good to have someone else help us too?
Uh, wait no. Maybe not the best plan. It would mean bringing in an outsider. Still I definitely feel like I learned a decent amount during my duel with Cirno. Not that I think she'd be a good teacher.
------- [ ] We should do our best to learn with what we have now. [ ] We should try to find somebody who can teach us danmaku. - [ ] Though I can't think of anybody right now. - [ ] And I think it would be okay to ask... (Write-in) [ ] Maybe I shouldn't try to teach danmaku when I barely understand it myself. -------
Well, this is all for Yuzuki's benefit either way. I should probably get her input on it too. Like I said before, she can be stubborn about things. Which also reminds me of the Hina thing.
Kanako should be finished with her search for Sumi by tomorrow, so I should probably think about if I'm going to do anything about it now. Is it okay to let the Hina situation stay as it is? It's not technically any of my business, and Kanako gave a pretty good explanation for her decisions, but I still just don't know.
I don't really have a plan on what to do or what to argue, and I don't have any leverage over the situation anyway, but I guess it's still worth thinking about. I don't know if it's a crush like Chiyo was saying, but Yuzuki seemed pretty concerned about it, and likely still is. She'd be happy if she had somebody else willing to do something to help out our new misfortune goddess friend.
------- [ ] Hina is stuck in a bad situation and there has to be something that I can do to help. [ ] Kanako explained the situation just fine. Hina doesn't need any help. [ ] This is not any of my business. Let the goddesses work it out. -------
Although, thinking about crushes... Ugh, no that's a terrible way to start out that thought. There isn't really anything like that going on on my end at least. I do need to think about the Yamame thing as well though.
Thinking about it objectively, our encounter really wasn't a big deal. I fell into her web, she helped me out, there was some flirting, then I got asked out. It's just a casual date. We don't even really know anything about each other. I still just feel kind of weird about it though.
There wasn't really any reason for me to agree to meet with her again. Back on the moon, I was never even really interested in dating. I was at least aware enough to know that I'm more interested in girls than guys, but that's the extent of it. Well, I will admit from the short bit of time that I could actually see her properly that she was definitely attractive. I think her dress wasn't just poofing out from the dress being big, she seemed to have quite a pair of hips on her so...
Okay, no. Inappropriate thoughts.
I never used to think like this, I swear! It's Yamame's fault if anything. I had been used to this stuff not being a part of my life. Then she started blatantly checking me out and stuff. I mean, I know that most of us rabbits do tend to have nice legs. Even in our unit, I know that Sumi's are really nice because of how much she runs and...
NO. STOP. I feel like I need to hit my head against a wall or something, but I'm in a tent so that wouldn't really do anything.
ANYWAY, I said I would go meet with Yamame and look around the underground city, I think I can probably do that much, I'm just not sure... What exactly I'm hoping to get from it.
------- [ ] The underground seems interesting, I shouldn't focus on the romantic implications. [ ] I should at least give her a chance. [ ] These thoughts aren't going to just go away on their own... Okay, I guess I'm more interested in this kind of thing than I thought. [ ] I don't need to go underground. Nothing is even forcing me to meet her again. I should just forget about it. -------
Well, none of these issues are things that I'm going to immediately act on anyway. There's no reason to. Getting them set straight in my mind is helpful for now, and I can work on them as they come up. It should make it easier for me to focus on the last issue, which I do kinda want to say something about now. Er, well, maybe some time later tonight at least.
Somebody has to talk to Ringo about her behavior. Yuzuki would probably come across as nagging and Ringo would ignore her. Sumi isn't here to do it. Chiyo's arguments are really hit or miss given how little she talks. It should probably be me.
I step out of the equipment tent and sigh. Even with this time spent on clearing my mind, I'm still dreading actually doing anything about the situation in front of me. Maybe it can wait until after dinner...
Dinner was nice tonight. Ringo put together some nice big salads. It's not exactly the hardest thing to do, but it was still tasty, so I'm not going to complain.
I'm a little concerned though. Chiyo didn't come out to eat with the rest of us. It wouldn't be weird if she had just not realized what time it was, but I know that Yuzuki specifically checked to make sure she was aware that we were eating. Maybe I should take a bit of time to check on her. Chiyo can get kind of moody with her powers like this. It might help her to know that we're all concerned about her feeling better.
There isn't really a good way to knock on tent flaps. We used to have a little bell hanging above the entrance to each tent that we could use to get the attention of whoever was inside, but we ended up taking them down. We hadn't put thought into the fact that wind would end up making them ring all the time. It wouldn't have been an issue on the moon, given the lack of wind, but here it just ended up being annoying. It feels rude, but now we're just stuck with the tried and true method of speaking loudly at the tent of whoever you want to talk to.
"Hey Chi, you okay in there?" I call at the door to her tent. There's about a ten second pause before I get an annoyed grunting noise as confirmation that she heard me. Okay, that could have been a lot worse. Ten seconds makes conversation a little difficult, but still totally doable. I open up the flap and step into Chiyo's tent.
I'm glad we got the nicer tents considering how long we've been here. Each of us rabbits have our own tent to sleep and be comfortable in. They're all the same kind, about three meters on all sides and just tall enough that I have to lean a little so that my ears aren't squished against the top. What's actually in each one is pretty different between the five of us though. We all have our own ideas on what makes a comfortable living space.
For Chiyo in particular, she seems to have put a much larger emphasis on using her tent for sleeping than anything else. I'm pretty sure that there was an actual cot in here at some point, but it's definitely missing now. In it's place, Chiyo appears to have horded as many blankets and pillows as she could get, creating a nest for herself that takes up the entire back half of her tent.
"Told Yuzuki I wasn't hungry." Chiyo says quietly. I can't even see her under there.
"I know Chiyo. We already finished eating." I respond. I brace myself for a lot of pauses. Talking to Chiyo when she's like this usually means that the conversation takes way longer than it would otherwise need to.
Chiyo groans. "Then what is it?" There's a bit of shuffling. When it finishes I can only see her ears and face peeking out from under a mess of bedding. I don't think she was actually sleeping.
"I just wanted to check up on you." I explain.
"Still here," Chiyo says unenthusiastically. "Shocking, I know."
There's no need to be sarcastic Chiyo. I step over to her and move to sit down. I don't know exactly how she's positioned in there, so I hope I don't end up sitting on her. "How are you feeling though? I'm just a little concerned because this is kind of my fault."
Chiyo sighs. Okay, it's been about ten seconds now, so I don't think I'm sitting on her or she would have reacted. "Can we do this later when I'm better?" She asks.
I'm about to respond, but she keeps talking as I open my mouth. "It's not your fault. I coulda just not sped up." I guess this was an afterthought and it just took her a while to actually say it.
"Why did you then?" She has a point. Everybody else was able to escape Eientei with their normal reaction times. Even with Chiyo's shorter legs, she probably would have been fine. She didn't have to use her power, but still chose to.
"And it's not that bad right now." Chiyo continues before processing what I actually said. "Well, I got the rest of the day off out of it, so it worked."
I'm pretty sure she's not that lazy, so that was probably a joke. She seems to be doing okay in any case. "Anyway, you don't seem to be in that bad of shape. Do you think you'll be good by tomorrow?"
"How long from now is tomorrow?" Oh, right, I guess she wouldn't really be able to tell.
"We just ate dinner a few minutes ago. It's evening now," Actually, answering here probably doesn't help all that much. Chiyo's power is known to gradually shift her speed up and down without her realizing. She won't have a consistent perception for a while. "You know you could just go outside and look at the sun." I suggest. It's not going to be out there for too much longer though.
"Headache. Don't wanna." Okay, sure. I don't know if she's going to have a headache all night, but I guess she's rejecting the idea.
"Then how about a clock?" I've probably suggested this stuff to her before.
"They're... Frustrating." Chiyo says vaguely. I don't really get what that means, but if Chiyo has a headache, maybe it'd be better to not try and convince her of anything.
"... Fine," I let the matter drop. "Well, I'll let you keep resting then. Just know that if you need anything, just ask. We're all ready to help." I stand up slowly to leave.
I look down at Chiyo's face, just barely visible under all the blankets, pillows, and her own messy bed head. She looks super comfortable. A part of me really wants to join her. Okay, well maybe that's a bit overboard, but going to sleep in my own bed wouldn't be too bad either. Unfortunately, I still have a bit more to get done today.
"See you later."
When I actually look for Ringo, I have a hard time finding her. Ordinarily you would expect her to be in her tent or sitting around camp, but when I look in those places, I don't find her. It takes a bit more wandering around the areas just outside of camp before I finally find her.
"Oh, hey Seiran." Ringo greets me casually as she pulls herself up out of the underground bunker.
This is a little unexpected. The sun has gone down by this point, I don't really know why she'd need to be out here right now. "What are you doing?" I have to ask.
"Just checking the portal," She answers, closing the hatch and moving the camouflage over it. "I actually do this every evening, just to see if it comes back on."
"Huh..." I didn't know about that at all. Yuzuki would probably notice anyway, but I guess it's good that somebody else is paying attention too.
"Well, not that I'm expecting much," Ringo continues, taking a step back to make sure the entrance is sufficiently covered. "They'll either turn it back on or they won't. We're fine for now either way."
"Aren't you at least a little worried?" She definitely didn't sound worried, but I still find myself asking.
Ringo shrugs, turning to face me while leaning against a nearby tree. "Why bother? We've been down here for long enough now, what's a few extra days? Supplies are fine, we're in a safe enough area, easy."
I don't really agree there. "These days have been a bit tougher than the ones when we had stealth."
"Really? Eh, guess that's true. I don't think it's been so bad myself," Ringo answers. I guess that's just a difference in what we've actually been doing. I don't think she's been injured once in the whole time we've been on Earth! "And not having to report to command all the time is pretty nice too."
Okay well, here it goes. "This isn't a vacation Ringo."
Ringo smirks at me. "Yeah yeah, I know."
"No," I have to stop her from brushing this off. "You're not acting like you know that at all."
I take a step toward Ringo and continue before she can really say anything. "When Reisen took the portal and went to the moon, you ignored the issue and took a nap," Step. "When Yuzuki and I spent the day trying to find the others, you took the day off and gathered up food that we didn't even necessarily need," Step. "When the rest of us still couldn't find Sumi, you spent the day wandering around a village, wringing money out of unsuspecting humans and buying dango," Step. "And then today, while we should have been searching for Reisen, you sneak away from Yuzuki to buy more dango!"
Ringo looks uncomfortable, but isn't saying anything. Good, I'll just keep going.
"It would be okay if you were just not coming up with results. Not everything has to pan out. But instead, you're actually just causing problems for the rest of us too! Are you even slightly concerned that you had an angry mob called on you today? What if we have to go back to the village again? Nobody's powers are going to be useful in stopping a large bunch of humans. Not even I could-"
"Seiran," Ringo says clearly, stopping my rant. "Calm down."
Ah... When did I?
"S-sorry." I take my hand off of Ringo's shoulder. I hope I wasn't squeezing too hard or anything. I wasn't really paying attention to what I was doing. "I did want to talk to you about this though."
"Right, right, fine," Ringo says, not sounding bothered by how I had pushed her up against the tree. "Let's talk then."
"I'm just... I'm concerned that you're doing things that you want to do, rather than doing things that would actually help solve problems," I continue, but the urgency that I had going before is already gone. "The others... Well, I didn't ask them exactly, but I know they'd agree. At least Yuzuki would..."
Ringo sighs. "Okay well... Most of that stuff just kind of happened that way," She explains vaguely. Pushing herself away from the tree slightly. "I probably could have been a bit less impulsive about things sure, but I'm not too unhappy about how they've have worked out."
"But what about Sumi?"
"Yeah, I feel bad about her," Ringo says, moving past me to start walking back to camp. I let her go, following along a little bit behind her. "Probably going to just drop the whole 'punishment for leaving camp during an emergency thing'. I'm sure she's having a bad enough time wherever she is."
That doesn't feel like enough to me. "But you could be trying harder to help find her."
"Well that's probably true about everything else too. You know how it goes though."
"You can't just excuse laziness by saying that's how you are." We come to a stop in front of Ringo's tent. "I know that's how you are, that's why we're talking about this now."
"Alright, I'll take it into consideration," I feel like I'm just being brushed off here. "Call me out on it again if things don't get better. Not that we'll have much left to do once we actually find Sumi."
"What?" Okay, telling me I should be able to call her out is something at least, but that's still not solving anything. Why are you being so passive about this Ringo? "The portal will still be broken!"
"Well yeah, but I don't think there's much to do about that," It's a little unusual to hear Ringo getting exasperated. I don't think I'm being unreasonable here. "If it wasn't Reisen's fault, then it must've been something on the moon's side, right? We can't do anything about that."
That's still not good enough Ringo! "But we can't just wait around for them to fix it."
"Well we can't fix it ourselves," Did she just snap at me? "If you have any other plans on how to get back, I'd be happy to hear them."
"We should all be working together to try and come up with a solution! Do you even want to go back home?!" Oh, I didn't mean to snap back there, but it probably came out like that.
"I..." Ringo stops, suddenly struggling with whatever she wants to say. "If you have any suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them." She repeats.
Why was that pause so long? W-wait... "Ringo..."
Ringo cuts me off, speaking quickly. "Anyway, I'm gonna go to bed. See you tomorrow."
"R-right." She quickly retreats into her tent before I've even finished saying the word.
That's... I knew that Ringo was having a good time here, but I didn't think... O-Oh.
Maybe I should go to bed too.
[ ] BANG [ ] Invite [ ] Guest [ ] Bullets
Okay so I ended up making this really long mostly on a whim. Not sure if people will actually appreciate it or would rather not have a long update with a bunch of votes in the middle. I guess we'll see. If it's a problem, I can push the next update back, but I don't think that ~3750 words is that hard to read in a couple of days.
Like Seiran said though, the votes in the middle are just her deciding on her mindset going forward. I feel like they would have been awkward to have as a choice by themselves because she isn't actually going to do anything about them at this very moment.
Normal length updates will most likely resume after this.
[X] This isn't my job to decide, I should just leave it up to Ringo. [X] We should try to find somebody who can teach us danmaku. - [X] And I think it would be okay to ask... -- [X] Hina [X] Hina is stuck in a bad situation and there has to be something that I can do to help. [X] These thoughts aren't going to just go away on their own... Okay, I guess I'm more interested in this kind of thing than I thought. [X] BANG
I actually like longer updates. I hope we can find the group's last member soon.
[x] We should move camp. -[x] Ask where to. Underground? Safest but our equipment might not reach the moon then. -[x] Youkai mountain? Maybe Hina will lead us to a good place if we help her. We could even trade with the Kappa. Forest? We have cover, but it is dangerous.
[x] Hina is stuck in a bad situation and there has to be something that I can do to help.
[x] These thoughts aren't going to just go away on their own... Okay, I guess I'm more interested in this kind of thing than I thought.
I like how this is moving. Slice of life-ish but with a clear ongoing event and mystery.
[x] This isn't my job to decide, I should just leave it up to Ringo. [x] We should try to find somebody who can teach us danmaku. - [x] And I think it would be okay to ask... -- [x] Hina [x] Hina is stuck in a bad situation and there has to be something that I can do to help. [x] These thoughts aren't going to just go away on their own... Okay, I guess I'm more interested in this kind of thing than I thought. [x] Invite
[x] We should probably hide the equipment at least. [x] We should try to find somebody who can teach us danmaku. - [x] Hina [x] Hina is stuck in a bad situation and there has to be something that I can do to help. [x] These thoughts aren't going to just go away on their own... Okay, I guess I'm more interested in this kind of thing than I thought. [x] BANG
The plot finally thickens.
I mean, this bit of plot in particular finally thickens.
[x] We should probably hide the equipment at least. [x] We should do our best to learn with what we have now. [x] Hina is stuck in a bad situation and there has to be something that I can do to help. [x] These thoughts aren't going to just go away on their own... Okay, I guess I'm more interested in this kind of thing than I thought. [x] Invite
Long updates = more story = more better. Five votes is a bit hard to keep track of though.
[X] We should probably hide the equipment at least. [X] We should do our best to learn with what we have now. [X] This is not any of my business. Let the goddesses work it out. [X] I should at least give her a chance.
[x] We should probably hide the equipment at least. [X] We should try to find somebody who can teach us danmaku. -[X] And I think it would be okay to ask... -- [X] Reisen, if she is willing when she comes back; if not, Hina [x] Hina is stuck in a bad situation and there has to be something that I can do to help. [x] I should at least give her a chance. [x] BANG
[x] We should probably hide the equipment at least. [X] We should try to find somebody who can teach us danmaku. -[X] And I think it would be okay to ask... -- [X] Reisen, if she is willing when she comes back; if not, Hina [x] Hina is stuck in a bad situation and there has to be something that I can do to help. [x] I should at least give her a chance. [x] BANG
[x] We should probably hide the equipment at least. [X] We should try to find somebody who can teach us danmaku. -[X] And I think it would be okay to ask... -- [X] Reisen, if she is willing when she comes back; if not, Hina [x] Hina is stuck in a bad situation and there has to be something that I can do to help. [x] I should at least give her a chance. [x] BANG
[i]I continue to stare at plain steel wall in front of me. Do they have me strapped in today? Nope. That's encouraging. I don't really know what they think I'm going to do that they needed me secured before, but I guess they're more confident now. That must mean something good.
Ping. "Okay, it should be in your system. Concentrate now. How many are there?"
I don't have to concentrate. It's more like the opposite. The mesh of colors and movement invades my vision without me putting in any effort. One. Two. Five. Nine? Uh, Seventeen. Th-thirty-six? Okay, it's too many. That's discouraging.
"I can't, um-" Ping.
"You'll have to use the buzzer. There's no microphone inside the room."
I know that. I've been staring at these plain brick walls for how long now? I'm just trying to point out that it won't work. I guess saying that is pointless though. No microphone.
Ping. "That's enough," There's a pause and a sigh. "We were hoping to at least reduce it to a manageable level. There appears to still be too much danger. We'll continue to monitor..."
The voice coming from behind the plain wooden wall keeps talking, but I'm not listening anymore.
Why is it taking them so long? Aren't they all geniuses? They're all so proud of their dumb science, their dumb technology, their dumb magic, their dumb medicine, their dumb purity, their dumb... AARGH! I want to leave! I haven't slept in two cycles! The noises keep waking me up! My head won't stop throbbing! You've barely been giving me anything to eat!
I understand the danger, but I don't get why they think it's good enough to keep me in a room with only plain paper walls. I shoot bullets! With my brain! Okay, maybe it's not with my brain, I still don't really get what's going on, but they're obviously coming from me! If they can't fix it, they can at least put me somewhere that isn't going to stress me out so badly! They can station me on one of the mare bases or whatever, just let me out please!
Actually, maybe I could get out by myself. I shouldn't need more than one shot. It's just a plain flesh wall. That stuff gets destroyed easily. Just like that other rabbit. This is the same thing, but bigger. I can get a bigger bullet, easy, I just need to find one. I just need one... There, that should work!
I shoot up suddenly, springing to my feet. There's something wrapped around my legs and I immediately lose balance, my shoulder crashes down onto the floor, followed quickly by the rest of me.
Ow. Wh-where?! What?! What happened? I flail wildly trying to free myself by from whatever I'm tangled up in. Only after five seconds of pure panic do I realize how soft and blanket-like the thing detaining me is.
Okay. Okay. Okay, okay. No. I'm still here. I'm still on Earth. This is Gensokyo. I jumped up in my cot, lost my footing, and fell on the floor like an idiot. I'm on the ground inside my tent. It hurts, but I'm okay. I am okay.
My sleep addled brain slowly recalls things that should would be obvious at any other time. I can't see anything. It's dark. Oh, I was sleeping. Right, it's night time. My lantern should be over that way. I have a nightstand that's about head level next to my cot, so I need to reach up a bit this way. There it is.
I fumble with the switch for half a second before actually flicking it correctly. There's the click, but that's all that happens. There's no light. There should be light. Is thing is broken? What, did it burn out already? I try to grope at it further, as if that's going to...
Oh no. No no no. No. It's broken. Like, shattered broken. This wasn't supposed to happen anymore. I had it figured out and this hasn't happened in years. Why now? I fixed this. It was fixed.
My pill. Okay, yeah, I must have forgotten to take my pill. So much happened yesterday. I was tired. I fell asleep without thinking about it. It's not the first time that I've forgot though, so why did this happen now?
I still can't see anything. I need another light source. Where's my bug-out bag? It should be under the foot of my cot. No, that's the box of emergency rations. Ah, there it is. Just unzip it and shuffle around the insides until I can find my flashlight. It's small, but I just need to confirm-
Ah, dammit! Why did I point it at my face?
The flashlight definitely works. Good. I cast it away from myself and start scanning the area. The beam of light quivers slightly as I point my flashlight around the tent. My hands aren't steady. I need to calm down. I know that. I just want to confirm first. Where did it go?
I finally manage to completely disentangle myself from my blanket as I stand up to get a closer look at the tent walls. I'm not sure what size I fired, but the hole should be obvious either way. It would be a lot easier if it hadn't gone through my lamp though.
There it is. The hole is fairly small, so it's not that hard to miss unless you're actually looking for it. Must have been a small caliber. I can't tell the angle from just looking at the hole, but considering it had to go through my lamp first, this side of the tent should mean that it went out of camp cleanly. That's good, it means that it wouldn't be going toward any of the others. That's concern number one out of the way at least. I breathe a sigh of relief that I hadn't even been thinking about holding.
Okay, I think I can relax now. I plop down onto my cot, sitting in the darkness as I try to compose myself. It's okay. My brain can slow down and stop panicking over me possibly maybe pulling a bullet out in my sleep and shooting somebody in one of the other tents. It feels like a really specific kind of worry to have, but it only needs to happen once to make you never quite be able to dismiss it from your mind... There's a lot of blood and guts inside a person's stomach, you know? Especially when you consider the caliber and velocity involved and-
Ugh, I feel nauseous. I need to get off this train of thought now.
Ah! My pill. Right. I must have forgotten to take one. I point my flashlight down at my nightstand to find the pill bottle I keep there. Oh no, there's glass shards from my lantern all over the place! I don't think any landed on my cot, but I'll still need to be careful tomorrow morning. I'm not dealing with this right now.
This pill that I try and fail to remember the exact name of while I'm uncapping the bottle. It's supposed to help me sleep by making me unable to dream. I don't actually remember my dreams ever, but the doctors said my sleep study indicated that dreaming was a big part of the problem. I'm usually actively suppressing my powers during the day, but I obviously can't do that while I'm asleep. Something about the stress of bad dreams combined with built up stress from the rest of my life can cause these kinds of involuntary outbursts to happen.
That's all still completely manageable, as long as my stupid self remembers to take her stupid pill.
Anyway, I need to take one of these and get back to sleep. I don't know exactly what time it is, but it's probably too late and/or early to accomplish anything. Do I have some water in here? I think I had a canteen somewhere. It just might take a bit more rummaging around in the dark to find it.
Although now that I look at it... One, two... Seven. I only have seven pills left. Ugh. That's counting the one that I'm about to take too. I only have six more nights worth after this. We've been down here for so long, of course I would run short on them eventually. If the portal still worked I could get a delivery or go get them myself, but that's not really an option now.
I force myself to not groan. I can't do anything about it tonight anyway. There will be plenty of chances to worry, panic, and stress over it later, and I'm sure I'll use them to the fullest. For now, I think I need to sleep.
The morning is another relatively pleasant one. It's a bit colder though. I guess it's not that surprising. I'm pretty sure we're somewhere in either September or October by Earth months, even though I don't know the exact date. Earth tends to start getting colder around this time of the year, right? Er, no, just some parts of Earth, right?
I step out of my tent feeling a bit groggy, but otherwise fine. I didn't get the best of sleep until after actually remembering to take my pill.
Yuzuki's already up, of course, but surprisingly so is Chiyo. Her internal clock can end up a bit off even after she's recovered from her powers. That's the most likely explanation here. I doubt she'd be up this early otherwise.
"Hey." Chiyo greets me normally, glancing up from a bowl of oatmeal.
"Good morning." I answer back, trying to rub my eyes clear.
I amble over to the table to sit down, and am quickly given a bowl for myself. Looks like Yuzuki made enough for all of us. I don't like oats that much, but they're okay every once in a while. It's better than most of the rations anyway.
I'm halfway through my oatmeal when Chiyo breaks the silence. "Sooo?"
"So what's the plan for today?" She clarifies. I'm surprised she's even asking. She doesn't sound excited, but Chiyo wouldn't bother asking if she wasn't interested.
"Isn't that Ringo's job to decide?" I'm pretty sure I didn't take command from her or anything.
"Ringo is likely going to ask for suggestions." Yuzuki points out evenly.
I sigh, but she's not wrong. Things are always like this, so my decision is probably going to be the one that Ringo goes with. "We're supposed to go to the Moriya shrine today and see if Kanako found anything." I recall. Both of these two were with me at the time, so they probably remember it anyway.
I notice a sour look on Yuzuki's face, but she doesn't say anything. Chiyo continues the conversation instead. "She didn't say when though."
"Right..." That's also true. Given the lack of a specific time, it might be excusable to let it wait until later in the day. Well, maybe. I'm not sure if Kanako will like my prioritizing other things or not. There are other things that may be important going on though. I still haven't started practice with Yuzuki, and there's also the possibility that Reisen and/or Tewi may come by as well. It might look a bit suspect to have Reisen come by and find us practicing danmaku though.
Ugh, Ringo mentioned it a bit yesterday, but now that I think about it, coordinating things is a bit hard when we have such vague appointments. Maybe we could just leave while one of us stay behind at camp just in case somebody comes by. I'm not sure who should stay though.
Ringo is the one that's most likely to actually help me negotiate and talk with Kanako. She'd likely pick up on social stuff that I might miss as well. Having her along would be good. Although, she might also appreciate it if I ask her to stay behind as well. She would probably be happy with a chance to prove that she can stay productive after I called her out on things yesterday.
Chiyo doesn't bring much to the negotiation, but she's great to have around in an emergency. I doubt anything like that will come up, but it might not hurt to be prepared. I also haven't explained anything that went on with Reisen to her yet, so asking her to stay behind may be springing it on her unexpectedly. She'd most likely be okay with it, but I don't know that for sure. Maybe she actually is interested in going out and doing stuff today.
Yuzuki... I'm pretty sure she wouldn't blow up about the Hina thing again. Pretty sure. I might actually want her around for that reason though. If I want to talk about the Hina situation again, and I've pretty much decided that I do, then it might help to have someone around who cares about it. She may have left a bad impression after last time though, so leaving her out may look a bit better on our end.
Actually, thinking of Hina, it might be a good idea to get her perspective on things before we talk to Kanako. She said that she tries to stop at her shrine a couple of mornings every week, and it's been a few days since we saw her last. We might be able to catch up with her if we go now. This still has the problem of us not being around if Reisen or Tewi come by though.
[ ] Stay at camp for the morning, go to Moriya Shrine later - [ ] Practice danmaku with Yuzuki - [ ] Convince Ringo to move the equipment into the bunker [ ] Leave camp as a group now - [ ] Head to the Moriya Shrine - [ ] Head to Hina's Shrine [ ] Leave camp while _______ stays behind (who?) - [ ] Head to the Moriya Shrine - [ ] Head to Hina's Shrine
Thanks for the positive feedback everyone. I'll try to up my length when appropriate now, though that's obviously a bit easier to do on weekend updates when I'm off work. Keeping my update schedule is important to me.
[x] Leave camp while _______ stays behind (who?) [x] Yuzuki and Chiyo - [x] Head to the Moriya Shrine
Yuzuki and Chiyo can move the stuff into the bunker. This lets Yuzuki calm her OCD organization methods and gives Chiyo a little more time to recover. Yuzuki will also know if Reisen or anyone else comes to camp, and Chiyo can help them escape if things go south.
Meanwhile, Seiran and Ringo head to Moriya shrine so Ringo can use her negotiating skills, and Seiran can keep Ringo from slacking off.
[x] Leave camp while Yuzuki and Chiyo stay behind - [x] Head to the Moriya Shrine
Phew! Finally caught up from the beginning. Congrats on being one of the few stories worth following still active at the moment.
Anyway, I hate jumping on the bandwagon here, especially since getting more of a handle on Hina's situation might be a good thing, but we do need Ringo, and settling Yuzuki's little personal issues would be hypocritical after calling Ringo out.
[X] Leave camp while Yuzuki and Chiyo stay behind - [X] Head to the Moriya Shrine
I've been thinking about each one individually, and honestly, I really would like everyone to come along. If I'm deciding things rationally though, there isn't really that much of a need to bring them all. If I'm going to screw everything up by saying something stupid (which is entirely possible) then it's probably going to happen regardless of how many other rabbits are around. I'm not really expecting anything dangerous to happen, so the marginal benefit of bringing more rabbits along is probably much lower than the benefit of having some of them stay behind at camp.
"Well, I have some idea on what I'd suggest," I think about it a moment before actually listing off my idea though. "Maybe we should get Ringo up first."
"She's gonna go along with whatever you say." Chiyo reminds me.
"That's not necessarily true," I counter. Ringo has disagreed with me in the past. Mostly that only happens when she has to be a tie breaker though. "And even if she does, getting her up now means I don't have to explain my reasoning twice." That's probably the main reason to wait.
"Fine. Not it though." Chiyo says bluntly, going back to her oatmeal.
Getting up Ringo isn't difficult. In fact, it's surprising how fast she's up and about considering how lazy she normally is. I don't think she's actually all that bad with mornings, she just acts like she is so we don't have any expectation of her waking up on her own. Once I've woken her up, Ringo joins us at the table with her oversized bowl of oatmeal. Okay, let's get the discussion started again then.
"There isn't much to say about the plan for today is there?" Ringo asks once she hears what we're talking about. "We just pop up the the shrine, hear what the goddess there found, and go from there."
"In general, yes. We were speaking more specifically." Yuzuki clarifies.
Ringo nods. "Keep speaking then." She says before she starts eating.
"Fine," I wasn't expecting much more from her initially anyway. "I was thinking that you and I could go there after you've finished eating."
"Just you two?" Yuzuki asks.
"Well it's not like we're doing anything dangerous. If she found Sumi, then we're just picking her up and coming back. If she didn't find Sumi, then she'll tell us that and we'll come back," I explain. In most cases, we shouldn't actually be there for very long, so why not get the others started on something else while they wait? "It seems like there could be a more productive use of everyone's time."
"Then why should both of you go?" Yuzuki continues her questions. "Wouldn't one person suffice?"
"Well..." She has a point. I mostly just wanted to have Ringo with me in the case of more discussion happening. Last time, Kanako's demeanor made it kind of difficult to talk to her. Ringo would probably be better equipped to deal with that than anyone else. Thinking about it though, I hope that Ringo doesn't think I'm just trying to babysit her after our discussion last night. I didn't really mean it like that.
"I'd like to meet the goddess there actually," Oh nice, rather than thinking I was trying to keep an eye on her, Ringo gives an explanation for me. "If she's the big bad authority figure or whatever for this mountain, it might be a good idea to stop by and say hey. Seiran should still come though, since it'd be weird if nobody was there from the last time you guys went."
"Well, I suppose so..." I guess that satisfies Yuzuki's questions, now to move on to the other idea I had.
"What's the more productive thing we're supposed to do then?" Chiyo helpfully provides me with a nice lead in.
I have a feeling they might not be too thrilled about the idea, but I had decided that the equipment we have should probably be moved more out of sight. "Well, I had this idea last night about moving the equipment into the bunker."
"Oh, you too? Nice, we got that brainwave thing going," Ringo laughs. "I was originally gonna have this be the punishment for you guys all running away when Reisen showed up, but I couldn't think of a good way to make it actually that punishing. Probably better to do it now than wait until somebody pokes their nose in the wrong place."
"Ugh... Do we have to?" Chiyo groans. She's not exactly the best equipped for a lot of heavy lifting and moving stuff, so I can at least understand that.
"We need to hide our tech," I explain. "It's just sitting out in the open right now. Any random fairy could sneak in and steal things while we're gone." That's exactly what happened before, and we're kind of lucky that it hasn't happened again by now.
"Hey, at least you have Yuzuki here to make sure everything'll be all organized and convenient to get to." Ringo laughs. I'm pretty sure she's being sarcastic. Moving all the equipment underground is definitely going to make it harder to grab things on short notice, but I think it's still a worthwhile thing to do.
"Into the bunker..." Yuzuki mumbles to herself. "The space is sufficient to fit everything, but if I just stuff it in there's no way it would work out correctly. I'll definitely need to reorganize what's in each crate first before I decide how to store them... Actually, with the size of the bunker... I may need to get one of the shovels."
Chiyo groans again, but doesn't argue more. I feel a bit bad for her, but it's all for the sake of efficiency.
"I just don't want you to think that I don't trust you." While we're flying over to the Moriya shrine, I'm trying to explain to Ringo my motivation for asking her to come today. Maybe I'm not using the best words for it though. I'm not always the best at this sort of thing.
"Nah, it's fine Seiran," Ringo assures me casually, glancing over her shoulder to talk as she flies in front of me. "I told you you could call me out on it, so I don't mind you not giving me a chance for it to come up either."
-"I didn't mean it like that!"
Ringo just laughs. "I know, I know. I'm just messing with you."
That's good. I mean, I really should have known that Ringo wouldn't be mad. Ringo and I have known each other for a long, long time now. Having an argument like the one from last night isn't really anything that either of us would hold against the other for very long. I'm just being too sensitive to things again. I really shouldn't be, it's not like Ringo ever really gets mad. That would compromise her constant state of being chilled out.
We land in about the same place as last time we came here, on the main path between the entrance and large shrine building thing. Just like last time, it looks like Sanae is out sweeping up. Does she have to do that every day? It's outdoors, so it's not like she's going to be able to keep things clean for very long. Especially when you consider all the leaves that are falling in the area now. This just makes shrine maidening look like pretty tedious work.
"Good morning!" I call out to the girl, breaking what little focus she had toward her sweeping.
"Ah, welcome back!" Sanae responds happily, closing the distance between us. "Seiran, right? And this is?" Sanae glances between us.
"Yo." Ringo introduces herself happily. "Just another rabbit here with her. I'm Ringo. Seiran wanted me to come along when we met with your boss again. Is she in?"
"Okay, welcome to the Moriya shrine Ringo," Sanae enthusiastically greets us. "Yes, Lady Kanako should be available now. We expected you to come by sometime today, so she told me to just come get her when you showed up."
"Don't suppose she had another rabbit back with her then?" Ringo asks hopefully.
"Well no, not exactly," I guess it can't be that easy, can it? I suppress a sigh. "She said she had news for you, and that she wanted to sit down and talk for a bit though. If you would follow me, I can set that up now if you'd like."
"Sure, let's go." Ringo decides immediately.
"Thank you Sanae." I add for her.
Sanae leads us up the stairs and into the building at the end of the path. I guess this would be a worship hall or something? We didn't go inside last time, but looking at it now, this is really just a big empty building. Sure, there's all kinds of elaborate decorations hanging from the walls, but any religious significance is definitely going to be lost on me. I can at least recognize the rope stuff hanging up as being the same kind as the big rope circle thing that Kanako had on her. Anyway if you ignore how big some of these wooden pillar things are, I guess this kind of building would be really useful if you wanted to address a bunch of followers or something. It just seems a bit too large for a shrine that currently has no visitors.
As if she's reading my mind (or maybe she just saw some look on my face) Sanae starts speaking. "It's lucky for you that you came by early like this. We don't get a lot of visitors first thing in the morning. Lady Kanako isn't busy right now." Oh yeah, I guess it would be hard for most people to get up the mountain this early if they couldn't fly. Being a human must be tough.
We continue following Sanae up a small set of stairs onto a raised platform on the far side of the room. It's kind of like a stage, but I'd guess it's not really used for shows or anything like that. Maybe ceremonies and announcements to the followers or whatever else it's needed for. Ringo and I are instructed to wait here while Sanae drags out a low table and some cushions. I guess we're going to sit down and have a chat here, though I would think that would look pretty awkward if a worshipper came in and saw us. Not my decision either way.
"Guess this isn't as easy as just saying 'hey you can just go over there and scoop your rabbit back up' then?" Ringo guesses as she plops down at the table.
"Unfortunately not," Sanae answers with a slightly uncomfortable smile. "If the two of you could wait here, I'll let Lady Kanako know that you're here."
"Okay, thank you very much." I say, sitting down next to Ringo as Sanae walks away.
There's a wait of a couple of minutes where Ringo looks around the room curiously. Once some time passes though, we're eventually joined by Sanae again, along with Kanako. It looks like she's still got that big rope thing. I wonder how heavy that is. It's probably fine considering that she's a goddess, but it seems a bit excessive. I guess it probably helps more to make her already imposing figure seem more intimidating or something.
Greetings and names between Ringo and Kanako are exchanged normally. I notice that unlike me, Ringo doesn't seem at all put off by having to give a plain introduction after Kanako's lofty title. I guess she really is used to this kind of thing from dealing with Lunarians more than I do. I have to hope that she can stay in a good position between casual and formal though, because it seems like we actually are sitting down for a discussion. Well, all of us but Sanae are at least. Kanako sends her away with a request for tea.
"I will start off by saying that yes, your friend has been located," Once we're seated, Kanako starts off the talk with good news. "There are some complications, but she is alive and unharmed."
Even though Sumi is obviously not here, I still feel some amount of relief. "That's good."
"So where is she?" Ringo asks.
Kanako doesn't look thrilled with what she's about to say, but does so calmly. "She is currently being held by the tengu. Within one of their prisons."
Oh no. "What did she do?"
"The tengu are very sensitive about maintaining their very rigid territorial borders. Borders that your companion decided to ignore. She was originally removed from the area with a warning, but apparently chose not to acknowledge it," Kanako explains. Damn it Sumi! "Once she was caught trespassing for the third time, they decided that she would be detained."
"Yup, that sounds like Sumi." Ringo says amusedly. She looks like she wants to laugh about it, but I just want to groan. I appreciate Sumi having been so set on coming to help me, but it doesn't make any difference if she gets herself jailed doing it.
"If that weren't enough," Kanako continues without acknowledging our reactions. "It also seems that your companion has outright refused to answer any questions about her actions or intent. Even after I explained the situation to them, it seems that the tengu are still highly suspicious of her motivations."
"So they wouldn't just give her up for free then?" Ringo more states than asks.
Kanako nods, folding her arms in front of her chest and looking slightly irritated. I don't think it's at us though. "They may believe that they can extract some kind of information of value from her, or perhaps they are simply holding her out of spite for the time and energy that went into her questioning. Regardless of the reasoning, it seems that they're reluctant to just give her up without getting some benefit from her capture. Simply because I inquired about her, she's become something of a bargaining chip."
"Why do you need to bargain? Don't you have the authority to just tell them to let her go?" She's in charge right? Wouldn't you normally want to listen to a goddess that you worship?
"The relationship between our shrine and the tengu leadership could barely be called a working relationship," Sanae says, coming back into the room with a tray of teacups. "I think they dislike that they're not the highest authority on the mountain anymore."
"Sanae." Kanako says sternly as she grabs and positions her teacup in front of her. I guess Sanae was speaking out of turn there. As Sanae sits down at the unoccupied side of the table looking admonished, Kanako turns back to Ringo and I. "What she says is true though. I could potentially maneuver to have your friend released as early as today, but there would be a certain amount of political give and take involved."
Okay? Is she saying she can do it or not? Why even ask us? "What does that have to do with us?"
"She wants to use us to cut her losses." Ringo answers me quickly before turning back to Kanako. "You want us to do something for you so that we get what we want, and you come out even on the whole situation."
"As you say." Kanako replies, taking a sip of her tea before she continues. "During my search, I came to understand that you rabbits are something of an unknown factor. You were unheard of to all of the groups that I spoke to. This lack of affiliation gives you a strong value for performing services while maintaining low political visibility."
"Ah, so you want us to do something you don't want associated with your shrine?" It sounds a bit sleazy when you say it like that Ringo.
"Somewhat, but not exactly," Kanako clarifies as I drink some tea. Woah, I actually like this stuff a lot! I'll have to ask Sanae about it later. "It is simply a task that would be easier to accomplish for unaffiliated youkai such as yourself. It's nothing untoward, of course. As an important authority figure in Gensokyo, I have a need to keep myself abreast of all significant goings on here. What I would require from you would be that you gather some information on a certain faction and report it back to me."
That was a lot of words that were probably more complicated than they needed to be. She could have just said that we're unknown, so she wants us to do spy work while that's still the case. This actually sounds right up our alley. We were already trained for this sort of thing. "Who would we be checking into then?" I ask. Don't say Eientei. Don't say Eientei. Don't say Eientei. Don't-
"I unfortunately, would need your agreement to the task before I could go too deeply into the specifics." Kanako gives an answer that isn't really an answer.
"What? Why?" It's better than her saying Eientei, but still...
"Because if she tells us right now and we refuse to do it, then we can go tattle on her and make her look bad," Ringo turns to me again to explain. "She wants us to either agree right now and know that we'll do it, or refuse the offer before we know enough to be dangerous, am I right?"
"In so many words, you are correct, yes. If you agree to fulfill my request, I can get your companion released by the end of the day." Kanako confirms. I guess it makes sense, but I don't know if I like agreeing to a job before I know what it is. She's already said that it's something well suited to youkai like us, so it shouldn't be incredibly dangerous or anything, but it's hard to commit to something we don't know anything about.
"It's interesting that you're even giving us a choice though." Ringo continues on.
"Well I'm sure that you have to realize that leaving Sumi in jail isn't an acceptable outcome for us here," Ringo idly traces her finger around the rim of her teacup as she talks. You could at least drink some of that, you know? "You could have just sat us down and said 'alright, this is what you're going to do for me so I can bust your friend out'. You didn't do that though, which makes it seem like there's another option here."
"Hm." Kanako pauses to drink her tea again. "Well, the option still exists to end my involvement here. I finished my obligation to you already. You requested that I find your friend, and I have done so. The matter of freeing her from the tengu could simply be your own dilemma."
"Leaving it up to us huh?" Ringo says plainly. "Anything you could tell us that would help with that?"
Kanako thinks for a moment before responding. "Well, you could make your own attempt at getting her lawfully released. She did little other than repeated trespassing as far as I know, and could likely be freed with proper negotiation and penance to the tengu themselves. They can be a bit difficult to work with, but officially, I believe that would be the best option for you should you wish to resolve this issue by yourselves." She reasons calmly.
"Right, officially," Ringo finally grabs her teacup and takes a huge gulp of tea before she continues. "Is there anything you want to say unofficially then?"
Kanako smirks at Ringo as she responds. "Regardless of what we decide here, I was planning to return to the tengu's village later today in order to give my answer to their proposed terms. In some misguided attempt at a display of power, a larger than normal number of tengu guards may be kept busy and away from their patrols by such a meeting. It is not my responsibility to police the actions of all youkai, nor is it my concern that their prisons remain secure at all times; however, I will note that some sort of accident during that time may teach the tengu an important lesson in humility." Ringo laughs out loud at that.
It sounds like Kanako is proposing that we could bust Sumi out of jail ourselves, and would even keep some of the guards there busy while we did it. That's more of an infiltration mission, but it's also something that we've had training in how to do. We also have a pretty decent amount of information about the tengu's village from our own information gathering activities. I think it could be possible for us to pull something like this off, but is obviously pretty risky if we get caught.
"Hmmm..." Ringo pauses to finish the rest of her tea. Did you really just drink all of that in two mouthfuls? You could at least try to enjoy it a bit. "What do you think Seiran?"
Well, I'm not really sure. Just going along with whatever information gathering Kanako requests from us would at least guarantee that we'd have Sumi back as soon as possible. There's the big unknown of what exactly we'd be doing for her request though. I don't think it's going to be something impossible for us though. Kanako seems to think that we can do it, and that's without her knowing about our decades of training in information gathering. Working with her directly also probably has some effect on future negotiations towards the Hina situation as well, though I don't know if it would help or hurt us on that front.
Handling the situation by ourselves is also risky, but in a different way. Trying to do the official method that Kanako mentioned would mean that we're not antagonizing anyone, but there's no guarantee that we'll get Sumi back if we mess up. We'd have to fall back on another method if negotiations don't pan out, and we would definitely lose some opportunities in the meantime. Either of the other two options would probably become more costly or difficult to pull off. I don't have a lot of confidence in us being able to talk Sumi out of jail, especially given our lack of bargaining power, but it's an option to consider still.
We could also try the unofficial method that Kanako hinted at but would definitely prefer we didn't claim that she suggested. It does mean counting on Kanako to be discreet, and the risk of getting caught is also there. This one might be the highest risk option. I'm still surprisingly confident in our ability to pull it off though. We do have a significant head start on an infiltration into the tengu's village due to previously gathered information. The reward of having Sumi back without officially being tied to the Moriya shrine is also probably the best reward we can get out of this.
[ ] Agree to gather information for Kanako [ ] Try to resolve this ourselves - [ ] Officially - [ ] Unofficially [ ] Something else (Write in)
There is a slight flaw in Kanako's plan. Just because we agree to spy on people for Kanako doesn't necessarily mean we actually have to go through with it. Kanako will have to tell us who she wants us to spy on eventually. When she does, there is nothing stopping us from deciding not to do it if it is completely suicidal. Also, once she does tell us, we could just go tell whoever we are supposed to be spying on and tattle on Kanako then. Sure, not doing it is a bit dishonorable, but we still have the option of breaking Sumi out ourselves if helping Kanako would be suicide.
>>26953 This is true, and I probably should have included it in Seiran's thought process. There is no obligation here other than a promise. Breaking the agreement does imply that you're okay with making an enemy of the Moriya shrine though, which could be a big disadvantage RE: the Hina situation.
I only have to think about it a bit more before I forcibly shake my head, clearing out all the considerations I had. "No. We shouldn't be taking risks or messing around when it's Sumi's safety on the line," I decide out loud. "If there's a guaranteed way to get her back, then we should go with that, even if we don't exactly know what it entails."
Ringo stops staring at the ceiling long enough to respond to me. "Yeeeeeah. I guess that's a fair call. Personally I think we could pull any of them off, but you're probably right that this is safest. I'm sure Sumi'll appreciate it too," She says, sitting back up and facing me. "Shame, no dramatic jail break sequence. Maybe next time then?"
I'm not really sure when there would be a next time. In fact I really hope there isn't. I still find myself nodding awkwardly to her without really thinking about it though. Whatever. Ringo seems satisfied with my response.
"Welp, you heard the girl." Ringo turns back to Kanako and smiles. "Looks like we're in business." She holds a hand out, which Kanako quickly takes to seal the deal.
"Very good then," Kanko says, offering me a handshake as well. Does Sanae want in on this? Doesn't seem like it. "I will still need to go back to the tengu village and bargain for your friend's release today. I can't give an exact time frame, but I believe I should have her back here by the mid-afternoon to early evening. I imagine you won't want to wait around here all day."
"Nah, we got other stuff we can get done. Maybe even get started on whatever you've got for us or something." Ringo says. Yeah, it's probably better that we don't hang out here and waste time.
Kanako nods in understanding. "Of course, will someone be coming to pick your companion up or...?"
"You can just let her go when you get her." Ringo quickly dismisses the hanging question.
"That seems... Ill-advised."
Ringo shrugs nonchalantly. "It's fine. Assuming that the tengu aren't just going to scoop her back up, which I'm pretty sure you'll make sure doesn't happen, she'll be able to find us on her own."
Kanako looks skeptical about how flippant Ringo is being, but surprisingly doesn't continue the line of conversation. Ringo is correct that Sumi should have no problem getting back to us, but Kanako doesn't know that. As far as she knows, we're still moving around looking for somewhere to settle. I don't know if Ringo knows what Kanako doesn't know though, you know? Uh, nevermind.
"Anyway," I think there's another important part to the deal here. I kinda want to know what we've just talked our way into doing. I just hope it isn't anything secretly suicidal. I don't know if the anxiety is warranted, but it's definitely here now. "That's fine on our end. What did you need us to investigate for you?"
Kanako appears like she's about to answer me, but gets sidetracked for a moment. "You don't have to look like that, I'm not asking you to do anything dangerous. If anything, you might even enjoy the assignment."
"She worries about stuff a lot," Ringo explains for me. I don't like it, but I do have to admit that she's right. "And she sometimes doesn't notice what she's doing with her face." Wait, am I really that bad about it?
Seeming satisfied with Ringo's explanation, Kanako actually answers me this time. "Have you heard of the Grassroots Youkai Network?" Well, okay, it's more like she answers me with a question but close enough. She's obviously going somewhere with this.
Ringo and I both don't answer, which is easy enough for Kanako to interpret as a negative.
"I assumed as much," Kanako said, taking a moment to clear her throat before beginning a story. "Two years ago, a small group of weak youkai somehow came to know each other and formed something of a small alliance. Around that same time, be it before or after, these founding youkai also got a bit too much magical power in their systems. This lead them to the strange conclusion that they could and should overthrow human society of all things. Obviously this idea failed during the course of that incident being resolved. The youkai involved were swiftly quelled, and the group went inactive soon after. At least, that's how it seemed."
Ringo and I don't interrupt, so Kanako sees this as a good enough reason to continue talking.
"It turns out that while their original purpose has been lost, they have continued on and have now grown into an entirely different type of organization. This is all hearsay of course, but it seems to have become a group of relatively civilized youkai meeting together periodically for some reason or another. There have been small mentions of them here and there recently, as it seems that their numbers have grown substantially in the two years since their original founding."
This is something entirely new to me, and I'm not sure whether that makes them more or less dangerous. "Where did you hear about them then?" Ringo asks.
"Reimu mentioned it to me once," Sanae offers from the side. "Apparently she found out about it somehow and went to check them out. She didn't mention having to use force to break them up or anything, so I suppose she didn't think they were out of line."
Kanako doesn't reprimand Sanae for suddenly joining back into the conversation this time, instead adding on to what she said immediately. "However, something being out of line to the Hakurei is largely based off of how many complaints she's getting about the subject. She likes to put up a pretense of always acting for the good of Gensokyo as a whole, but is more often than not motivated by maintaining public relations for herself and her shrine. All that her not acting on it means is that they are not currently causing problems for the human populace. The group's actual aim is still questionable."
I don't know enough about the Hakurei shrine maiden to know if she's lying or not here. I guess we can believe that for now, since it doesn't make a huge difference right now anyway. "So what do you want from them?" Ringo continues her questioning while I think to myself.
"The Grassroots Youkai Network represents a potentially dangerous unknown in the already delicate political situation of Gensokyo, much like yourselves but on a larger scale," I don't think we're that dangerous. Wait no, we were actually trying to purify the Earth and everything. Nevermind. If anything, we're probably even more dangerous. Or at least we would be if we could contact Command. "Alliances between youkai are usually either small enough to not become an issue, large enough to be broken up by the Hakurei, become largely insular like the tengu and kappa, or dissolve on their own due to the nature of the youkai involved. It's been two years now and none of those things have happened to this particular group. While two years is hardly impressive compared to most groups in Gensokyo, it at least shows an unprecedented amount of staying power for a group of youkai."
"Riiight. So what do you want from them?" Ringo repeats herself. For all that Kanako said there, I feel like most of it wasn't answering the question.
Kanako doesn't seem bothered by Ringo pressing her and continues on evenly. "Like I had previously said, I want information," She explains. You know you could have just answered with that! "The identities of all the new members, their objectives, and if any long term planning is going on amongst those members would be a useful start. I'm also interested in what's going on behind all of that as well."
"Ah," Ringo seems to understand something that I don't catch immediately. "You think they're being backed by someone."
Kanako nods solemnly as she continues. "Consider the possibilities allowed when you can leverage a loosely organized group of intelligent youkai. While each one individually may be weak, they are still more than capable of causing problems for any other political entity within Gensokyo, especially if fed the right information. This problem becomes even more difficult to solve if the membership of this group isn't well known or simple to suppress. Someone backing such a group could profoundly influence human youkai relationships with little effort on their part." She explains.
Wait, I think you're jumping forward a bit here. "But there's been nothing like an organized movement towards anything, right?" I ask quickly. "You even said that you've barely heard anything about them. Is it really a stretch that they could just be acting on their own?" I mean sure, our unit of rabbits is organized under the Lunar Defense Corps command, but I think we could organize just fine with out them. Well, probably.
"No, not at all, however confirming that would in itself be useful to me as well." Kanako quickly answers.
"You want to leverage them for yourself in that case, right?" Ringo follows up. That sounds a bit accusatory, but I was kind of thinking the same thing.
"Well, I won't deny that it is a possibility," Oh, she just admits to scheming. That's surprisingly honest of her. "I doubt that I have the means to do so at the moment though. In any case, regardless of whether the Moriya shrine gets involved or not, it is still important to be informed of issues such as these."
"Hm..." Ringo ponders for a moment. At this point I'm really glad I asked her to come along. She's usually very good at getting to the heart of things like this. "So any ideas on who could be backing them then?" She decides on asking.
Kanako also slows to consider things, as if she didn't already have a list of suspects. "Assuming that they're not acting on their own, I would place my bets on two possibilities," She starts off. "The most likely backer would be the Buddhists. They're already quite youkai focused, so it wouldn't surprise me in the least if Byakuren was trying to further group youkai that she couldn't convert to her temple proper. She could easily use them to improve human youkai relations."
"And the other possibility?" Ringo prompts her. I'm pretty sure she would have gone on either way, but I guess Ringo's trying to show that she's interested.
"Though this in itself is a bit vague, I would also not be surprised if it turned out that the youkai within this group were being manipulated by some other much more powerful youkai with their own agenda." Kanako explains. "Yukari Yakumo springs to mind quickly, though her plans are often so opaque that even guessing at them is pointless. There could be numerous other individuals that could bring something like this together for their own purposes as well."
"Well, we can look into it, but it sounds like you're talking about some pretty big players here. Isn't that kind of potentially dangerous for us?" I don't know if Ringo was just briefed better than I was or she's randomly guessing, but I hadn't recognized any of the names that Kanako just dropped. She seems to be correct though, going by Kanako's nods of understanding.
"It shouldn't matter," She reassures us. "I doubt that those individuals themselves would get involved just because you were investigating a bit. If a confrontation were to arise, it would only be by a much less powerful proxy."
"So I guess we're going to be your proxies for this situation right now then?" Ringo guesses.
"Indeed." Kanako answers. Well, we're kind of used to acting as pawns anyway. Whether it's for Command or Kanako I guess we're basically just cannon fodder sent in before anything big happens. Joy.
A random thought pops into my head as I'm moving my head to avoid rolling my eyes. I know Sanae mentioned them rarely getting visitors in the morning before, but we've been talking here for a while now. Apparently Kanako is okay with having this secret backroom deal going on in the largest building in her shrine. She doesn't seem at all concerned that somebody's going to stumble in and catch us scheming or whatever we're doing. Is this really a time of day thing, or is this shrine just not as popular as its size would lead you to believe.
I'm interrupted from my idle thoughts when Ringo asks another question. "Any suggestions on how to get started?"
"I know that the group meets frequently, though the exact location doesn't appear to be static. I also know the identities of the founding members. If you get in contact with them and present yourself properly, you'll likely be able to work your way in to their group." Kanako pulls out a small piece of folded paper and slides it over to Ringo. I guess she was prepared for us accepting her terms. Something about that assumption annoys me for some reason.
Ringo grabs the paper without reading it, instead slipping it into her pocket immediately. "And once we're in?" She continues. Hey, I would have read that if you're going to stay busy.
"Just gather as much data as you can and bring it back to me," Kanako answers. I feel like that's a little vague. "My personal suggestion for where to start? Try to find out where the money is coming from. Any large meeting of youkai is almost inevitably going to devolve into drunken revelry, which isn't exactly cheap to maintain over several of such meetings. Low power youkai like the ones that involved are not known for their wealth or their charity. Large amounts of theft would have gotten them investigated by the Hakurei, so there has to be some other means by which they are securing their supplies." Okay, that's much less vague, yeah.
There is something else that I've been kind of thinking about since we agreed to the deal. "How much information is enough?" I mostly just don't want to go to the effort of doing this only to wind up not meeting Kanako's expectations.
"That is the complication on my side. I'll be fulfilling my end of the agreement first, which puts me in a position where I simply have to trust you to act in good faith," Oh yeah, that's the other thing I had been thinking about. "I understand that you have limits in what you are able to do; however, I'm wise enough to know a half-hearted effort when I see one. There isn't exactly a definite way for me to measure the information that you bring back, so I'm merely asking that you do your best."
The thought of 'what if we don't do anything and just don't come back' also comes to mind, but I decide not to say it. I don't think asking would help at all here. If we decide to double cross Kanako at some point, it's probably better if it comes as a surprise.
Putting aside Kanako's possible ulterior motives, this doesn't actually sound that dangerous or difficult. The group isn't getting pounded down by angry incident solvers, so they must not be causing too much noise. Maybe Kanako only needed us because we were youkai and conveniently here to recruit. The fact that she's investigated enough to have a starting point for our investigation shows that she was thinking about this ahead of time.
"Any other questions?" Kanako asks after Ringo and I sink into silence for a bit. "I know that was a lot of information to take in."
"Sheesh, you're telling me." Ringo chuckles. "I didn't even think it was possible for someone to talk my ears off. That's kind of an achievement, all things considered." Well, Sanae laughs at the joke at least. "I think we should be good though. We'll try to get back to you with any updates ASAP."
"Excellent," Kanako concludes, standing up from the table. "If our business is concluded for now then, I'll be going to prepare for my negotiations with the tengu. I don't expect it will be pleasant, but at least now I have something to look forward to in the future."
Once we've left the shrine and are out of earshot of our friendly green shrine maiden guide, Ringo visibly relaxes. She lets out a long sigh as her shoulders slump. "Phew. I get enough of that from command!" She says, sounding exasperated as she fishes in her pocket.
"Get enough of what?" I kind of have a feeling I know what she's talking about, but it'd probably be therapeutic for her to vent it now. Not that I'm one to talk about proper stress release.
"Overly self-important bigwigs who love the sound of their own voice." Ringo explains casually as she pulls out the paper Kanako had given her. "Ones who use way more words than they need to to say 'this other self-important bigwig irritated me so I want my people to mess with their people just to spite them'. You know you could just punch the other person in the face and save everybody some trouble!"
I giggle a bit. "You kinda sounded like Sumi there."
Ringo laughs in response. "Well I don't quite have her way with words." She admits as she unfolds the paper and reads what's on it. "Hm... Your thoughts?"
Ringo hands me the paper. It looks like there's three names on it along with a type of youkai and a location that I assume is where we're likely to find the corresponding person.
Wakasagihime. Mermaid. Misty lake. Well, that's really close by at least. If it's a mermaid then she's probably not able to move around to other locations very much either.
Sekibanki. Rokurokubi. Human village. Okay, I don't know what a rokurokubi is, but it's surprising there's a youkai just living in the human village. I guess Ringo did mention that she saw some not so well disguised youkai there before though.
Kagerou Imaizumi. Werewolf. Bamboo forest of the lost. Wait, don't we know her? Werewolf? Huh... Well, the bamboo forest is quite a long way from here, but we should at least be able to find her house again.
These all seem like viable enough leads to go on, but we don't necessarily have to rush this either. We could head back to camp as well. I doubt that Yuzuki and Chiyo have finished moving things by now, but there's still the possibility that Tewi or Reisen may have come by.
[ ] Let's get started looking for someone on this paper. - [ ] We should look for Wakasagihime - [ ] If she's in the village, we probably shouldn't look for Sekibanki... Wait Ringo where are you going!? - [ ] We should look for Kagerou Imaizumi [ ] Let's go back to camp instead. [ ] Something else (I don't even know what you would do here, surprise me)
[x] Let's get started looking for someone on this paper. - [x] We should look for Kagerou Imaizumi
Might as well go with the most ideal option. We know where Kagerou is, and we've met her before, so it'll seem less suspicious to approach her now. Also, Human Village + Ringo is bad news, as has been established.
[x] Let's get started looking for someone on this paper. - [x] If she's in the village, we probably shouldn't look for Sekibanki... Wait, Ringo, where are you going?
Never not 'banki time.
Also, I don't recall anybody mentioning this, so I guess I'll have to be that guy and bring it up:
☓"[...]useful to me as well." Kanako quickly answers. ◯"[...]useful to me as well," Kanako quickly answers.
I've seen instances where you had it right only to do it the other way in the next bit of dialogue, so I legitimately can't tell if it's rushed editing or what. Anyway, yeah, it's a thing to consider not doing.
[x] Let's get started looking for someone on this paper. - [x] We should look for Wakasagihime
I actually think Wakasagi would be the easiest to approach. Banki has the obvious human village issue, but it might be a bit weird to ask Kagerou about this, considering we already asked her to lead us (at least a bit indirectly) to Eientei. I dunno, just my thinking.
>>26967 If you're curious about the writing, this is most likely due to my workflow. Especially on updates like this, I tend to write the dialogue I want to cover before anything else, then add the describy bits after that. If I end up changing how I want words to go together, that also changes how the punctuation should be. That may or may not have been how it happened with the specific case you pointed out. I don't know.
Of course, none of that makes it not just sloppy proof reading on my part. Noted.
[X] Let's get started looking for someone on this paper. - [X] We should look for Wakasagihime
Well, we can cross this Sekibanki off the list immediately. I don't think going to the village is the best idea. There's probably some way for us to work through the Ringo and angry villager issue at some point, but I don't know offhand what it would be. I'm okay with keeping it low priority for now though. If we're lucky, we'll be able to stay out of the village until the problem blows over. At least we have some other options available for this specific thing.
Kagerou being listed here is a bit of a surprise to me. There hadn't really been any indication that she was a youkai when we had met her. I don't think that's really my fault though. Werewolves are just normal humans when it's not a full moon right? How would I have known? I guess if I had really thought about it, a lone human living out in a forest is a little odd. Is Mokou a youkai too then? Dunno, and I guess it doesn't matter.
Either way, Kagerou is an option that I'm kind of considering, but in this case I'm not sure if having met her before is really going to help. When we talked to her yesterday we were seeking out one thing, to show up the next day trying to get involved with something entirely different might be considered a little odd. I know that the question is still going to come up if we actually meet with this group, but I can at least give myself some more time to think about an excuse.
That just leaves Wakasagihime as the only option I can't think of anything wrong with. Kind of a mouthful of a name there, but that seems to be kinda normal for Earthlings. Well, it's not any worse than some of the Lunarians. A lot of them have names that wouldn't even be pronounceable by Earth languages if you tried to speak them properly. I like our short and simple rabbit names a lot more. We don't need to try to show off every time we introduce ourselves.
"Let's try to find the mermaid," I answer Ringo, folding the paper up again and handing it back to her. "That's the closest option, and is probably the easiest."
"Hm?" Ringo makes a small questioning noise as she stuffs the list back in her pocket. "How do you figure?"
"Well the village has it's own problems," I start vaguely. Ringo seems to be pretending to not understand what I'm talking about, but I continue on anyway. "And even if we flew to the other side of Gensokyo to find Kagerou again, I don't really remember where her house is actually located in that forest."
"Well yeah sure, but with a mermaid we're going to a lake," Ringo looks out in the general direction of the lake. If we flew up a bit we would probably be able to see it from here, but right now the trees around this area are blocking the view somewhat.
I'm not sure what Ringo's getting at. It was written right there on the paper, so obviously I know we're going to a lake. "So?"
"Being a mermaid means she lives under the water right?" I nod along to Ringo, yeah that's should be true from what I know about mermaids. "I don't know how we're gonna be able to navigate a lake other than just flying over it. We either need a plan to get her up to the surface, or we'll need to stop by camp so I can grab my snorkel."
I'd answer her question, but I kind of want to clarify something she said there. "Wait, you brought a snorkel on our military operation?"
Ringo shrugs. "Hey, if we need it now, then it wasn't a waste," She laughs. Ugh, I could say that this isn't a vacation again, but I'm not actually sure if Ringo's joking or not.
Whatever, it's not important. At least not more important than the point Ringo was actually trying to make. If we're talking about an actual plan, I don't have one really. I haven't gotten that far. I just picked the mermaid because of problems with the other options really. "We'll... Just have to figure something out when we get there," I say vaguely.
Ringo smiles. "That's what I like to hear," I guess she's fine with that, even if it makes me a bit nervous.
We lift off from the shrine. All we really have to do is go back the way we came. We retrace (refly?) our steps (flight?) down the mountain, but keep going past our camp. I briefly consider stopping by to see how the others are doing, but with just the amount of time that we've been gone, I doubt there would be much progress. I feel like I might end up feeling bad and wanting to help them if we stop, so Ringo and I decide to just keep going to the lake instead. Of course, this also means that Ringo doesn't get her snorkel. Or any of the other things that would be better for going underwater than a glorified plastic tube.
Once we're past the bulk of the forest, we drop down on the shore closest to the mountain. The misty lake itself isn't really anything special as far as bodies of water go. We have much nicer seas back on the Moon. That's actually what the mares are, you just can't tell by looking at them from the Earth. That's hidden from view along with the rest of the secret lunar capital stuff.
"So do you think we should split up or stay together?" I ask Ringo before she can ask me.
Ringo kneels down and drops her hand into the water. "Eeesh. Probably don't wanna swim in there," She mumbles to herself while standing back up. I guess it's cold. It is autumn after all. "Together I think. Our timing isn't the best, so visibility is poor and likely to get worse," She answers. Right, one of the things that we picked up pretty quickly while gathering info is that this lake gets enveloped in a huge amount of mist every day, usually peaking at around noon. We're not quite to that point yet, but all that means is that it's going to get worse before it gets better.
"Okay sure. I didn't bring my radio anyway," I probably should have thought of that. Whoops. "I think we might also want to stay away from that mansion on the other side."
The mist has already set in enough that Ringo can't see the mansion, but I'm sure she knows what I'm talking about. "She could be over there, but it's all the same to me. It'll probably take a while to check everywhere else anyway."
It definitely is taking a while. I wouldn't exactly say that the search is going well at this point. With the mist setting in more and more as time goes on, I'm not even exactly sure how much more there is to go either. I can see decently in the area immediately around us, but once you get further out things start getting shadowy and indistinct. I definitely can't see the far shore at this point, so heading too far out is going to be pretty difficult. We may lose track of where we have and haven't looked.
"I guess we could have stopped and gotten Yuzuki for this," I say, feeling a little bored with our slow float over the water.
Ringo laughs. "And deny her the joy of organizing everything for the sixth time?"
"Honestly I'm surprised we're only on number six," I laugh as well. I'm joking, but Yuzuki used to be a lot worse about this kind of thing. "Anyway, I'm just saying that she would probably have made this trivial. The lake isn't that deep in the areas we're looking in right now, but once we get further out we could easily miss the mermaid."
"Yeah I guess," Ringo leans back up and cracks her neck, probably feeling stiff from having been staring down into the water for the last half-hour. She glances around before reaching up to point at something. "She could also probably tell us what that is."
I look up to see what Ringo's pointing out when something suddenly wizzes by my head. Okay, that was close. I can't really focus on what it was though, now that I've looked up I can see more things flying at me!
I twist my body weirdly to dodge what I assume is some kind of danmaku. I barely graze past some of it, but I don't get hit at all by the time that everything has gone by. It's only a short barrage, so I manage it. I'm expecting more shots, but instead it seems like the large thing that Ringo was pointing at through the mist wants to close the distance before firing again.
I ready my hammer, just in case it seems like a good idea to shoot back with something a bit more lethal. I also notice Ringo popping a dango into her mouth out of the corner of my eye. I don't know why we're suddenly being attacked, but we're not exactly helpless here. As the figure in the distance gets closer, I can at least feel comfort in knowing that we're not defenseless here. It's two against one, so even if we can't see all that well, we can at least...
Oh it's Cirno.
Cirno seems to realize who we are at about the same time that I recognize her, and does her best to skid to a stop despite being airborne. Ringo, who had apparently decided to charge forward as well, doesn't do the same. Instead of stopping, she continues forward and more or less aerial tackles Cirno, grabbing her around the waist and tumbling forward, doing three or four flips through the air and quickly being obscured by the mist ahead.
By the time I fly forward enough to catch up with them, I can already see Cirno struggling to get out of Ringo's grip. They've at least come to a stop though. "Lemme go! We're supposed to be allies!" Cirno yells.
Ringo snickers to herself, but doesn't let Cirno out of her grip. "Hey, you attacked us first. Not my fault."
"I didn't know who it was!" Cirno protests.
"That doesn't really make it better Cirno," I try to scold her, but other than surprising me a bit with ice flying by my head, there wasn't really any harm done. "You can't just attack people randomly without knowing who they are."
Cirno doesn't seem chastised in the slightest. "I can too! And I totally should. It's the best chance to catch enemies by surprise. It's a uh," She trails off, trying to think of the right word for a moment. "Preemptive! Preemptive attack!"
"Oh really? Sounds tactical," Ringo says, acting like Cirno just said something really wise. "Maybe I'll give it a try sometime."
"Wait, wha-" Cirno doesn't get to finish her question before Ringo winds back and uses both arms to fling Cirno away, further into the mist.
Cirno's shadow flails and tumbles about wildly for a second before regaining control. I think she plays it off pretty decently, using the momentum from Ringo throwing her to swoop back around in a wide arc. When she comes back around close to us, she doesn't look at all bothered by her sudden involuntary flight. If anything she seems to be giggling about it like she had had a good time.
"Yeah! Sorta like that!" She declares proudly before taking a more serious tone. "You shouldn't have said anything before you did it though. I saw it coming way too easily. There's no way it would have worked out if we were being serious."
I decide not to mention that Cirno's attack on me hadn't worked either. "Noted, thanks for the tip," It looks like Ringo has decided that just humoring her is the best choice too.
"You're welcome! Anyway, did you come here because you needed help from the strongest fairy in Gensokyo, or did you just want to play?" Cirno asks, taking her normal self-assured stance with her chest puffed out and her hands on her hips.
I notice she didn't even consider the possibility that we aren't here for her. "Uh, neither. We were just in the area because-"
"Actually, we could use your help," Ringo cuts me off. "We were looking for someone around here. You'd probably know where she could be more than we would. Do you know a Wakasagihime?" She asks. Actually, why didn't I think to ask Cirno?
Cirno considers the question for a moment before realization shows on her face. "Oh! You mean the princess!" She decides.
Uh, no, we're looking for a mermaid. "Princess?"
"It's in her name, right?" Well, her name does end in 'hime'. I guess that's a title? Is her actual name just Wakasagi then? It might also be a nickname or something. "She's a princess, and I get to be a knight that protects her and the lake from the evil guys and other jerks!" Cirno continues on proudly.
Putting aside the specifics of what Cirno's talking about, it at least seems clear that she knows who we're asking her about. "Do you think we could talk to her? We might have some business with her."
"Well, I dunno. Princess usually doesn't want to talk to people, except when..." Cirno pauses again, suddenly falling into thought. After a moment, she appears to remember something. "Ah! R-right! I should let you guys talk to her! It's this way," She immediately starts flying away.
"Yeah, that'd be great," Ringo tells her as we follow along. "We were just wandering around looking for her, but it wasn't going well."
"I blame the mist," I try to make an excuse for what is really just us lacking a good plan.
"Today's way clearer than normal though!" Cirno declares happily. Wait, really? "But yeah, you wouldn't have found her without running into me. The princess is one of the people in my turf that I've decided to protect, so I would know if she gets into trouble. Her house is hidden under the water too!"
"We aren't looking for her to fight her Cirno," I clarify calmly. Cirno's mind seems to always gravitate that way for some reason.
"Oh," She actually sounds somewhat disappointed. Didn't she just get done saying it was her job to protect Wakasagihime? "Well that's good then. Princess doesn't like doing danmaku that much. That's why she has me here!" Make up your mind you silly fairy!
"I'm sure she's glad she has you on her side," Ringo says, apparently more than happy to let the contradiction go unspoken.
Cirno leads us... Southeastish (I think) across the lake. We go in that direction for a couple of minutes before Cirno suddenly stops us. What, are we here? There don't seem to be any landmarks or anything, we're just over the water. Does Cirno really know this whole lake that well?
"She's always under here in the mornings, so I'll just call her," Cirno declares, staring down at the water. I'm not sure what she intends to do. It seems to be pretty deep in this area, and it's not clear enough to see the bottom. Is she going to dive down in there?
Instead of what I expect, Cirno quietly grunts with effort and creates a large ball of ice, about the size of her head. Once it's complete, she unceremoniously drops it into the water with a loud 'ploomp'.
"Princess said this works kinda like a doorbell for her," I'm surprised Cirno was considerate enough to explain anything. I was kind of under the impression that she only really thought about herself. "Something or other about vibrations. I dunno," Well, she tried at least.
I guess I don't really have any reason to doubt that this fairy knows what she's doing. Aside from the normal issue of fairies being kind of stupid that is. After a moment, there's definitely movement from under the water. A blue head of hair breaks the surface, followed by the shoulders of a girl in a green kimono. Despite coming directly out of the water, her hair and clothes seem relatively dry. Must be some kind of mermaid magic or something.
"Good morning Cirno," The mermaid says. Her voice has a strange airy quality to it that makes her sound quite delicate. She glances up at me and uh, wow. I'm a little struck by how pretty she is. Even though Cirno was calling her a princess, I didn't really expect her to look like one.
"Good morning princess!" Cirno answers back. "I brought these people to see you."
"Yes, it seems like you did. Thank you very much Cirno, you did a great job," Wakasagihime says, sounding very calm and polite despite Cirno constantly brimming with enthusiasm. She turns to Ringo and I. "Good morning. What did you think of my letter?"
"Your what now?" Ringo asks. I don't know what she's talking about either.
"Anyway!" Cirno quickly interrupts. "Since things seem okay now, I'll let you guys talk and head out for some patrolling!"
"Please hold on a moment Cirno," Wakasagihime calls out quickly. I'm kind of surprised that Cirno actually stops, she seemed ready to leave immediately. "They seem confused. Did you lose my letter?"
"No of course not!" Cirno answers, perhaps a bit too quickly. "They're here, so obviously everything worked out!"
"Cirno, please don't lie," Wakasagihime chides gently. "And please don't just barely tell the truth. You want to be a strong and virtuous knight don't you?" She asks, she doesn't seem to be joking about the idea. She might just be humoring Cirno though, that seems to always be the easy way to deal with her.
"Yes... Well, I didn't lose it, but I still have it," Cirno reluctantly admits.
Wakasagihime nods and looks understanding. "Did you get distracted this morning?" She asks calmly.
"Sunny was around trying to mess with me again!" Cirno gives a loud excuse. "I couldn't just not chase her off! It's her fault!"
"It's alright Cirno. I understand," Wakasagihime says calmingly. "Like you said, everything worked out. Thank you very much for your help."
"Of course!" Cirno zips away after giving a quick salute.
"So uh, you sent us a letter?" Ringo asks after Cirno is out of sight.
The mermaid turns her head back to us, still just barely rising out of the water. She doesn't seem bothered by having to crane her neck back to look up at us. "That's right. Although it seems that you weren't given the opportunity to read it. That's a shame, I felt that I expressed myself well," She takes a deep breath before introducing herself, taking on a more formal tone. "I am Wakasagihime, a mermaid living here in the Misty Lake. I was told about you by Cirno, and wanted to speak with you in order to learn more about your situation. Cirno told me that you seem to be unrelated to the other rabbit youkai that live in the bamboo forest, which was something interesting to both myself and maybe even my organization."
"The Grassroots Youkai Network, right?" Ringo interrupts her to ask.
"Ah, you've heard of us?" Wakasagihime smiles brightly and sounds pleased with herself, dropping the official voice that she had been using. "That makes things much simpler. I actually wanted to ask you a couple of questions to get a better impression of who you are. Then if the answers are acceptable, I would like it if you would join us on something of a trial basis for one of our meetings. You would be okay with answering a couple of questions, yes?"
Oh wow, I'm surprised at just how well this is working out. "Uh, sure," I answer her quickly.
Wakasagihime claps her hands happily, splashing a bit of water into her face. She seems entirely unbothered by it though. "Wonderful, thank you. I would like to write this down so that the others could look at it, but it's a bit hard for me to keep writing utensils around here. You understand I'm sure," Yeah, I can't imagine paper keeps well when you live underwater. "First off then, how do you feel about humans? More specifically, how do you feel about the current relationship between humans and youkai?"
Uhhhh. Oh. I suppose that I can't just say 'I'm from the Moon, so I haven't really put any thought into that' here. I'm not actually sure what she's looking for in an answer either. What would she want to hear for this? Kanako's explanations for what this group actually does were kind of vague.
[ ] Humans are great! I love humans! It sure is cool how they... Uh... Evolved from apes or whatever... [ ] I haven't had a chance to talk to any humans really. I don't think there's anything that special about them compared to anyone else though. [ ] I think it's unfair that humans get to live in nice big villages when youkai are forced to live out in the wilderness like animals. [ ] Humans are stupid and weak. If it weren't for that dumb shrine maiden, we youkai would be in charge, and we'd all be better off. [ ] Uhh, Ringo, you wanna take this? [ ] Write-In
(No bonus points for guessing what the [ ] Invite choice from a few updates ago was)
Of all the species Seiran has interacted with so far, I think humans have given her the least reason for Seiran to hate them. Seiran has interacted with 4 (half) humans: Sanae, Kagerou, Mokou, and Sumiriko. Sanae apologized for not helping us sooner when we told her our cover story, and got Kanako to help us find Sumi. Kagerou was kind enough to help us find Mokou even after we forced her to wake up. Mokou led us to Eientei without asking anything in return. And Sumiriko didn't do anything to us even after we spied on her intimate moment with Mokou. The only grievance Seiran has with humans is when they mobbed Ringo in the village, which Ringo arguably brought upon herself by scamming them first. Even then, the village humans were content to leave us alone while we were in the village as long as we didn't cause any trouble.
The other species have given Seiran far more reasons to hate them. The Fairies stole our stuff and Cirno just attacked us with no provocation not but 5 minutes ago. Eirin the Lunarian tried to test her memory wiping drugs on us, and then tried to murder us when we refused. Reisen the Moon rabbit beat us up and ruined our mission. Tewi the Earth Rabbit forced us to fall into a pit trap and hurt ourselves. The youkai of the Underground bashed us over the head and trapped us in a spider web. Kasen the Hermit sicked her Eagle on us. The Tengu imprisoned Sumi and the Kappa stole the drone.
Honestly, next to the Goddesses, humans have arguably been the most helpful species to us.
[x] I haven't had a chance to talk to many humans really. But they seem like decent enough folk from what I've seen.
>>26985 Don't most youkai live pretty well as it is? The vampires have their own mansion, the rabbits live in the palace of Eientei, the tengu and kappa have their own villages, most of the Goddessses have their own shrines, the three fairies we met earlier had a pretty nice tree house, the oni have a city all to themselves underground, Satori lives in a nice mansion with her many pet beast youkai, Yuuka has her own flower garden and mansion in the dream world, the ghosts live in a nice mansion in Hakugyokurou, several youkai live in the Buddhist temple, Seikibanki is apparently living in relative peace within the human village, Alice lives in a nice cottage in the forest, even a random bird youkai has her own food stall. It seems to me that most youkai that live in the wilderness do it because they want to, not because humans force them to.
[X] I haven't had a chance to talk to many humans really. But they seem like decent enough folk from what I've seen. [X] Uhh, Ringo, you wanna take this?
Well, let's ignore the question about the relationship between humans and youkai for now. That's a bit too deep into Gensokyo based sociology for me to even pretend to talk intelligently about. I could probably take a guess at it and sound dumb, but I think it might be better to just go for an easier question. How do I feel about humans?
I've seen plenty of humans around, especially now that we've been flying around Gensokyo these past few days. How many of them have I even talked to though? Not many. Sanae comes to mind, since we just left her place, but I can't really say that I've talked to her about anything other than finding Sumi. There's also Kagerou, but she's apparently actually a youkai. There's also Mokou who's still a bit of a question mark to me. Then there was that girl that was with Mokou who was probably human. Uh...
Actually, going through a list like this, it occurs to me that I haven't really done anything with humans other than ignore them or immediately ask for their help. Not only have I managed to not get called out for being rude, all of the humans that I asked actually did help as much as they could without really asking for anything in return. That's a bit more than I can say for most of the youkai that I've dealt with so far.
"Humans seem okay to me," I say lamely, could probably have phrased my answer better. I'll try to elaborate. "I don't know how much Cirno told you about our situation," and I won't repeat it here because I still don't really like lying to people's faces, especially unexpectedly beautiful ones that are staring curiously up at me. "but we've been pretty on our own for the most part. I haven't actually interacted with humans all that much."
"Ah, I see. That is quite alright," Wakasagihime says to me, smiling warmly as she bobs up and down in the water slightly. I'm still kind of amazed at how she keeps her hair looking dry even while it goes in and out of the water. "Cirno did give me some information about you such as names, Seiran and Ringo, but sometimes it is difficult to get more specific details from her. It is a bit unfortunate, Cirno is very energetic and passionate, but she sometimes becomes a bit too enthusiastic and loses focus on things," That's a really tactful way to excuse someone being a bit dumb.
She didn't say what she thought about my answer or ask another question, so I guess she wants me to go on. It is true that I didn't really say anything about humans and youkai interacting after all. I don't really have anything to say on that, but Ringo probably does. She spent the better part of a day in the village, and the better part of the day before that doing work on a human farm. I don't know exactly who she would have talked to in that time, but she probably had a lot of time to people watch at least. "Uh, Ringo?" I ask, turning to her. I feel a bit pitiful but I did at least try to answer. "Maybe you could talk a bit more about this. You were around humans more than me."
"Yeah sure, lemme think a bit about how to say it though," Ringo reaches up to scratch under her ears while she stares off into the mist for a moment. "I think that things between humans and youkai are decent where they are now, but both sides seem too scared of each other to get the most out of it."
"Ohhh?" Wakasagihime looks suddenly interested. "What do you mean?" She seems bad at hiding her enthusiasm. Is her tail wagging under the water? There's definitely some kind of movement under the surface. Her head is staying surprisingly still if that's the case though.
"Well it seems complicated. There's a pretty big difference between the situation for your everyday human and youkai versus the ones that are all important and powerful. The everyday people on both sides are too afraid of the other sides powerful people to get together and make their situation better together, if that makes sense," Wakasagihime nods quickly along with Ringo's explanation, but I'm not really seeing what she's getting at.
I guess my lack of understanding is showing on my face. When Ringo glances over at me, she takes it as a prompt to continue. "Normal, powerless humans obviously don't like youkai, but they still tolerate having them in the village. What's the reasoning behind that? I think they probably fear what attempting to completely shut them out would entail. It's better for them to avoid confrontation and try to get what they can from youkai than to go through a bunch of effort to directly antagonize them.
At the same time, weaker youkai would probably benefit more from participating in human society than they would from trying to prey on it. They'd be better off trying to make something of an honest living than they would be causing problems to get their jollies and getting a shrine maiden called down on them. The problem with that is that if they get the wrong person upset, they could still have that happen anyway, so they're kind of nervous around humans too," Uh, that's a bit more than I think the two sentence question actually needed, but well done I guess Ringo.
I have a question about that bit at the end though. "Wouldn't a shrine maiden that investigated see that the youkai isn't doing anything wrong?"
Ringo smirks at me. "Well you're assuming that said shrine maiden is more interested in doing the right thing than she is in getting rid of reasons for complaints."
And you're assuming that everything Kanako said was true. I don't have any way to prove otherwise though. "You've thought about this," I decide to compliment her on her sudden monologue instead of arguing. I guess I did kind of ask her for it.
"I was mostly making it up on the spot actually," I don't know if Ringo is humbly bragging or I'm just being overly sensitive about my own social problems. "If I had some way to write it down, it'd probably come out better."
"I thought it was wonderful!" Wakasagihime interjects. Yeah, her tail is definitely swishing back and forth down there. "You have an opinion of the situation that is similar to my own."
Well just by her saying that, it reveals a lot. I think I should still get some point blank clarification here though. "So I guess your group isn't about overthrowing human society anymore then?"
"Oh no, not at all!" Wakasagihime shakes her hands in front of her face defensively. "That may have been the case initially, but we have long since moved on from that. This group was originally formed in somewhat darker times. Well, perhaps not darker, but the situation had extenuating circumstances involved," Her smile looks a bit rueful now, but she's at least still smiling. Her tail has stopped wagging around now though. "I don't regret it happening given the outcome, but I would definitely not wish the stress and anxiety that comes from being involved in an incident on anyone."
Heh, no kidding. I probably shouldn't say that out loud though. "So what do you do now?" Ringo asks for me.
"We are a social group," The mermaid answers vaguely before elaborating. "Our purpose is to allow low powered and generally civilized youkai assistance in participating in human society. This usually takes the form of sharing job opportunities, event information, sympathetic human contact information, and other miscellaneous information with each other."
That sounds pretty benign to me. I'm not sure how much Kanako stands to gain from learning about a bunch of weak youkai trying to play nice with humans, but it's not really my job to care. She can do the scheming or planning or whatever she wants to call it on that if she really wants to. We're doing our job and getting this information for her, it's not our fault if it doesn't turn out that useful for her.
"Sounds like you're happy with our first answer. You have more questions though, right?" Ringo asks. Oh right, she did say she was going to ask questions. Plural.
"Yes I do," Wakasagihime settles down slightly in the water, getting back to business I suppose. "Some interviews do unfortunately end on that first question. Not all youkai have the right mindset for this kind of thing."
Oh we're being interviewed? I don't even have my resume with me. I could write one out quickly though. All it says is 'Way too many decades in the Lunar Defense Corps considering how badly I get paid' and that would be it. At least the medical benefits are pretty good. Well, most of the time. I wouldn't recommend an extended hospital stay or anything.
Wakasagihime doesn't notice me trying not to giggle at my own dumb jokes, instead continuing on talking. "Which brings up the next question. Do you have any particular vices that would need to be accommodated for you to participate in our activities?"
Vices? "Like what?"
"For example, absolutely not being able to attend meetings that happen during the night of a full moon, or needing to purposely startle a human in place of actual food," Those sound a bit specific. I'm pretty sure I know who the first one is referring to as well. "I'm mostly asking as a formality. You're obviously rabbit youkai, so you shouldn't have any needs like that. Perhaps carrots?" Wakasagihime smirks to herself after asking.
Ugh, this again. I'm glad all the people that think this don't actually take care of rabbits. "I don't really like carrots much actually," I answer coolly. Or at least that's how I was trying to make it come out.
"I'm okay with them. Definitely not addicted or anything though," Ringo also offers.
"Ah," Wakasagihime seems a bit embarrassed by our lukewarm replies. "I'm sorry, I was joking. Was that rude of me?" She droops down a bit more in the water, her mouth barely above the surface.
"Nah, you're fine. We don't have anything like that though," Ringo assures her. I'm technically on a sleep medication and Ringo's kinda sorta addicted enough to dango to do stupid things in order to buy them, but I guess those aren't quite the same kind of thing that she's talking about.
"Wonderful. Some issues like that are easy to work through, but others can cause problems. Like our most recent trial member..." Wakasagihime looks a bit worried as she considers some situation I know nothing about. She comes out of it quickly though. "Ah, but I shouldn't gossip about others. You'll most likely have a chance to meet her."
Well, it sounds like we're invited to the next meeting then. "What, is that it? No other questions?" I check to make sure.
"The only other question is if you are available tomorrow evening to come to a meeting," Wakasagihime answers cheerfully. "I don't need a full psychological report on you or anything of that sort. You seem like a pair who will fit right in."
"As far as I know, we don't have anything else planned at that time," What are you looking at me for Ringo? Well, I do try to keep track of our priorities, but I can't think of much else we would be doing tomorrow night. We'll have Sumi back by then, but other than that...
"There's actually three more rabbits in our group," I should probably mention this just in case. I don't want to be a rude guest and show up with a bunch of unexpected people. "They're pretty similar to us, so is it okay to bring them along as well?"
"If they're also interested in coming, that should be alright," Wakasagihime answers me easily before launching into some details of the meeting. "We'll be located about 10 minutes south by southwest of the lake. Go across the road and field, then enter the trees on the far side. We should be noticeable if you're looking to find us, and if you get lost or aren't confident in finding it on your own, I will be on the southwestern shore of the lake until just before the meeting starts just after sundown."
"We should be alright," I say. "We're pretty good at finding our way around," Mostly because we'll have Yuzuki with us so it'll be pretty much impossible to get lost. It is also pretty hard to get lost when you can fly up into the sky to get your bearings whenever you want though.
"Should we bring anything?" It's a meeting, not a party Ringo.
"You're welcome to bring along anything that you would like, but food and drinks will be provided as well," Okay, the way she answered that makes me feel like my last statement might actually be wrong.
"Nice! Hey Seiran, you should make some dango," You don't need to get buffed up during a meeting Ringo. Well, I might make something anyway. If I have time that is.
"Wonderful! I'm very much looking forward to it. I love to meet new people," Wakasagihime's tail is wagging again as she clasps her hands together happily. "I'd invite you to stay and chat with me now, but you appear to be a bit uncomfortable with our current positions, and there will be plenty of time for that tomorrow."
Staring down at her like this for the whole conversation has made my neck a little sore, now that I think of it. I guess I could have oriented myself so I was lying down in the air but that just seems a little awkward when she's more or less standing up in the water. I don't know, it's not a situation I've ever been before. She's at least correct that this isn't exactly the easiest way to chat with someone.
Ringo simply laughs it off. "You got a point there. It was nice meeting you. We'll see you tomorrow night then."
"Yes, see you then," Wakasagihime smiles and waves at us as Ringo and I fly into the mist in some random direction. It'll bring us to a shore eventually.
Well, that's some nice progress. We've already been invited to a Grassroots Youkai Network meeting and it's only been a couple of hours since we first heard of them. I feel a bit bad approaching a nice girl like Wakasagihime for the purpose of spying on her and her friends, but I don't really have much else of a choice. Hopefully everything at the meeting is harmless enough that Kanako doesn't take any real action, or at least no action that would cause Wakasagihime problems. She seemed like a really nice girl.
"So back to camp then?" Ringo asks me once we've made it to shore. I can't think of anything else that we really need to do right at this moment. I'd also kind of like to be around when Sumi comes back.
"Sure, I guess so."
As Ringo and I land just outside of camp, I instantly see Yuzuki running over to meet us. I'm about to greet her and ask how things are going when she interrupts frantically.
"We have a problem!" What a great way to start a conversation. "I-I was too busy and focused on taking care of things a-and I didn't notice it fast enough and and..."
"Hold on, hold on, calm down," Ringo patiently tries to stop Yuzuki from panicking. Is that what I look like when I panic? I usually don't notice other people when it happens, so I've never seen people freaking out along with me. Although, if something is making Yuzuki worry like this then uh... Well this could be bad. While Ringo deals with Yuzuki, I decide to take a peek at camp to see if I can see the source of the problem.
Ooooh. Oh no. No no no.
I can already see two problems. One is a crate of equipment, cracked open with its contents (unloaded rifles) spread out in an exceedingly orderly fashion on the ground. It looks like Yuzuki had been taking the opportunity to clean all of the firearms we had. That by itself isn't really that much of an issue. It's probably not necessary given that we haven't actually used any of them since they were packed, but even that wouldn't be a big deal. When combined with problem number two however, I can definitely see why everyTHING IS TERRIBLE NOW.
There's a girl leaning back in my chair at the center table. She's scribbling something on a small pad of paper at first, but quickly glances up and notices me staring. She gives a friendly wave and a smug smile to me. I'm not together enough to do anything other than weakly wave back. Seeming pleased at my response, the tengu reporter holds up a camera and snaps a quick picture of me.
Hello Aya, I see you've found something that might be a bit newsworthy.
[ ] Attack - [ ] Silence her - [ ] Capture her - [ ] Break camera [ ] Bargain - [ ] Give gossip - [ ] Give sensitive info - [ ] Give mission critical info - [ ] Give favors [ ] PANIC
The flow of the conversation made it make sense for Seiran to ask Ringo for her input, so I combined options. I doubt anyone is that upset by it.
[x] Lie through your teeth -[x] This is our gun collection. We collect guns. Its a hobby.
It's not like we can really catch Aya, and attacking her would just be an admittance of guilt to her wildest conclusions. Hopefully she doesn't know what Lunarian tech looks like, and we can get away with some good old-fashioned bullshitting.
>We're in autosage Whoops, should've posted the last update in a new thread. Oh well. It's not like I'll fall off of /eientei/ anytime soon. Next update will be in a new thread, feel free to vote or whatever in here in the meantime.
>That write-in I'm okay with it if you want to vote for it. It miiiiiight be helpful to have a second choice, but I'm okay with it either way.
>>26994 Well, doing that involves moving all of the things out of the equipment tent, hauling them away from camp, and stuffing them through the hatch into the bunker. When are you ever going to have a better chance to clean things than when you're already getting them out in the open? Yuzuki's just being a helpful and productive bunny!