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Previous Thread: >>27001

[X] Leave Sumi alone

I feel like I'm looking at something that I'm not supposed to be looking at. What I'm seeing Sumi involved in here would at least be frowned on if not outright against the rules of the Lunar military, but I know that's never stopped her before. Sumi's rap sheet was already massive before she joined our unit, and even though she's calmed down some recently, she's still the type of person to do whatever she wants regardless of the consequences. Apparently what she wants right now, or at least last night when she fell asleep, is to cuddle with some tsukumogami girl that she just met.

The door didn't make much noise when I opened it up a minute ago, but I still find myself trying to swing it closed as slowly and quietly as possible as I back out of the room. I'm not going to be the one that bothers the two of them. Even though I know that all of us rabbits need to get up and get going, and there's no guarantee that Sumi will wake up on her own anytime soon, I'm willing to do her this favor. I... Might also be a little bit embarrassed to get involved in this kind of stuff, but that's not the point. This is Sumi's business the mix of curiosity and awkwardness that I'm feeling now isn't enough to make me butt in.

Okay, anyway, that's three out of four of us safe and accounted for. The only remaining rabbit is Yuzuki. If she's awake, then it's much more likely that she'll find us rather than us finding her. In fact I can probably check on that now. I take a moment to do the standard arm-waving Yuzuki summoning motion, but don't see or hear anything in response after a bit of waiting. Either she's still asleep or she's out of the range that her powers will show her. I don't know how big the place we're in right now is, but I guess it could be large and unfamiliar enough for Yuzuki to not notice me.

Come to think of it, I haven't really considered much about where we actually are right now. The whole description that I've thought up is 'some kind of old house or mansion thing that is a bit less Japanese than expected', which doesn't really narrow anything down. I walk a bit further down the hallway. Maybe if I could manage a quick look outs-ow ow ow.

No, don't give up on this, I just need a glance for some information and then I can be done. There are even curtains next to the window, so I can shut the horrible pain bringing not nice light off afterward. Okay. When I look outside I can see... Some more generic Gensokyo wooded landscape. Not really sure what else I expected to be honest. Oh wait, but there's the mountain! So if I use my limited knowledge of Gensokyo geography and judge based off of the angle that I'm looking at... Uh. I don't think we went all that far from the meeting location probably?

It feels like something is attempting to gouge my eyes out from the inside of my head right now. I don't know how somebody would have gotten in there, but I really wish they would pick a less painful way of getting out. Ugh, I think that's enough looking outside for now. I quickly close the curtains with a groan of relief and slump over to think about things a bit. We're not in the big lakeside mansion, if that were the case then I would have been able to see the lake itself outside. We must be in another building that I don't know about. Did something like that exist? I guess it's possible. I don't think that myself or any of the others went out all that far in this direction while we were still gathering information under stealth. I'm sure there's still a ton of stuff that we don't know about.

In any case, it shouldn't be hard to navigate back to camp from here once I've gathered everybody and everything up. Or at least it should be easy after we actually get out of the building. From what I could tell, I seem to be on the second floor, and this place seems reasonably nice, so it wouldn't surprise me if there's a lot of rooms left to look through. I guess that just means that I have to get started.

I walk back down the hallway again, poking my head into the bathroom. Yup, that's pretty much what I expected. Chiyo's leaned over the toilet, with Ringo holding her ears and hair back so they don't droop down into the water. I... Don't really want to get close enough to see whatever mess is being made in the bowl. When I hear Chiyo give another cough and some suspicious plopping sounds follow, I realize I don't really want to be anywhere close to this right now. Especially if the noises end up giving Kagerou or Wakasagihime a rude awakening.

I make a few vague hand gestures to catch Ringo's attention. I'm trying to tell her that I'm gonna keep looking around while she handles things here, but we don't really have any kind of sign language like that worked out. She still nods at me once after noticing though, so I'm just going to assume that we're on a good enough wavelength that she gets my intent. We've been together long enough that that's probably fair to say. I still give her one more point downward at the end. We'll probably want to meet up downstairs unless we're going to be leaving out of a window.

So with that taken care of there's more snooping around to do. Well, that's probably a bad way to put it, but it's at least honest. Let's see here...

Another bedroom, just like the other two. Seems a bit better taken care of in relative terms but it's still a bit messy in more absolute ones.

Some kind of reading room or mini-library? It looks like most of the bookshelves are dusty, unorganized, and in questionable repair, but there's at least a small armchair in the corner that's comfy enough for Raiko to be sleeping in. She's missing the jacket for her suit, and seems to have gained a some kind of hat that I forget the name of, but is otherwise fine. I'll leave her alone.

Another bedroom, possibly the master bedroom just going by the larger bed and furniture? It looks nicer than all the other ones, but the dust seems to suggest that it's used much less.

A kind of wardrobe room, I guess. It's full of nothing but clothes, mostly on racks and hangers, but some unceremoniously scattered onto the ground. I'm already dressed, so I won't bother changing again, but it probably would have been better if I found this place first. I could have taken something that looks like nobody would mind instead of something out of a room that was obviously in use. Oh well. I'll give it back.

And it continues on like that until I finally reach a staircase that leads down. I see a couple more of the youkai from last night in a couple of the rooms, but don't find any of the things that I'm actually looking for. In general, it looks like the party moved to this place (wherever this is) last night for some reason (whatever that is), and broke off into groups as they continued partying (for however long).

So yeah, still some blanks to fill in, but it's a work in progress.

Walking down the stairs turns out to be a little bit tricky. Around the middle of the staircase it looks like a part of the banister and a couple of steps somehow collapsed or got crushed or something. It's not too difficult to navigate right now, but I kind of wonder how drunk me managed. Maybe I just flew or something. Regardless, I make it down safely, but not as easily as it should have been.

This means that I'm now in what I'd guess is the foyer. The windows (which are of course not covered, but at least not facing east) show that I'm near the outside at least, so that's the front door. If I didn't have a bunch more things to do, I could easily just fly back to camp and sleep off this terrible feeling in my everywhere. Too bad I'm too busy though. Right now there are multiple different hallways that I could randomly wander down and search through, but I don't really have... Okay, I definitely just heard some kind of crashing coming from my left. That's probably a good enough place to start.

I head down the hall that I had heard the sound coming from, and it surprisingly doesn't end with a bunch of doorways. Instead, it opens up into some kind of ballroom, or at least most of one. I don't think that part of the ceiling is supposed to be collapsed like that. The rubble gets in the way of using about half the room, and the low quality replacement ceiling kind of hurts the overall mood. It seems fine otherwise, if a little messy and filled with instruments and other assorted junk. It probably looked really classy in its time.

And in the middle of the room, surrounded by various instruments and awkwardly picking up a cymbal stand from the ground is Kogasa. She looks a bit more disheveled than most of the other youkai that I've seen this morning, and seems to be scrambling a bit. Well, I can at least help her out, since she seems to be searching for something.

"Hey Kogasa," I call out from the entrance, holding her umbrella out. "I think I found..."

She's over to me and wrenching the umbrella out of my hand before I can even finish talking.

Kogasa hugs the umbrella against herself tightly. The thing's expression changes slightly, although I'm not that good at reading something with just an eye and a mouth. I guess it looks a bit happier? "Oh my gooooosh..." Kogasa whines out before heaving a huge sigh of what I assume is relief.

"Um," I stammer a bit. I'm just a little bit surprised at how quickly and desperately she moved toward me. It was a little bit frightening actually. "You're welcome?"

"Ah!" Kogasa only remembers that I'm here when I make a noise. When she looks back at me though, her smile is a bit too happy and genuine for me to feel annoyed. "Thanks for helping me get back together Seiran. I was really worried for a bit there."

"R-right... I uh, found that thing when I woke up and thought you might be missing it," I explain simply. There should be more explanation than that but I can't remember it so I'd have to make it up. "I guess I was right."

"Yup! I'm a karakasa obake, so this is me, but this," She holds her umbrella out and spins it so that it's facing me. "Is also me. Separating me from me isn't good for me. I can't fly and am cut off from a lot of my magic when both of me aren't together."

That's... Something of an explanation I guess. I don't know which me is which from how she said it, but whatever. I don't really need to understand how other youkai work. The explanation probably just boils down to 'it's magic' anyway. "So I found that in place of where my mallet should have been, did we like, swap last night or something?" I guess.

Kogasa considers it for a moment. "Hmm... I don't remember last night. You made me drink too much," Er, was I being that forceful about it? I don't remember. I think it's kind of fair though. I only started drinking in the first place because of Kogasa's special cupcakes putting a bunch of spiciness in my mouth. "But yeah, when I woke up I had your hammer thing."

Oh good, that means I don't have to keep searching through random rooms for it. "Great, where is it?"

"I left it in the kitchen," Kogasa answers with a simple smile. I'm surprised she didn't carry it around like I did with her umbrella. I would think that she'd be used to doing that.

I turn to walk to the kitchen, but then I remember that I don't know where that is and turn back to Kogasa. "Well can we go get it?" I suggest. "I'd really like to have it back."

Kogasa has a look of realization and suddenly looks sympathetic and a little worried for me. "Oh, is that also you too?"

"No, nothing like that," I assure her. It's just a normal mallet. Not magically connected to me at all. "It's more like a... Security type thing. Holding onto it makes me feel calmer and more in control of... Things," I explain vaguely. In truth, I had happened to stumble on it being useful for controlling my powers by chance. Keeping it around helped me remember that I was always at least somewhat in command of some part of my powers, even during... Worse times. "I've also had it for a really long time, so if we could go get it now..."

"Sure! Come with me!" Kogasa happily agrees before moving past me, smiling and twirling her umbrella just a bit. She leads me out of the ballroom and down a hallway to the right, deeper into the house.

We come to a stop in the entrance of a surprisingly modern looking kitchen. I would say, compared to the rest of the house, this place is probably the most well kept room I've seen so far. I also doubt that most of these electronics like the refrigerator and microwave are things that came standard with the house. They were probably added when the house got electricity.

There are two girls both manning a stove with their backs turned to Kogasa and I. I wasn't really introduced to either of them that I can remember, but I know they were at the meeting too. They're the ones that look a lot like Lunasa but with different color schemes.

The one with the light blue hair and pink clothes notices us first, turning her head and calling out in a sing-song voice. "Good morning~!"

"Gah," The shorter brunette next to her recoils at having someone yelling so close to her head. "Merlin, could you not be so loud?" She hisses.

"It's fine," The first girl, Merlin I suppose, assures her happily. "You shouldn't let a hangover get you down Lyrica! Just power through! We can do it!"

"Yeah yeah..." Okay so, Lyrica and Merlin. I can remember that easily enough. Lyrica turns around to look at Kogasa and I. "Oh, glad you found what you were looking for Kogasa, and you're... Seiran, right? We didn't talk much last night, but good to see you up." She says, sounding pleasant enough but a bit subdued. I appreciate it a bit more than the other girl being so loud at least.

"Good morning," I mumble out as Kogasa happily skips over to the large dining table. She apparently stored my mallet on one of the chairs while she was out looking. I follow along and meet her halfway, happy to feel the familiar wooden handle again when she hands it back to me. It's a surprising relief to tension that I was only vaguely aware of.

"Lyrica and Merlin were making breakfast!" Kogasa tells me happily. "You want some?" I don't think she's allowed to make that offer for them. Although when I look, Lyrica gives me a shrug and Merlin gives me a warm smile, so they seem to be fine with it. I am rather hungry, I don't even remember if I ate anything last night, and it might not be a bad idea to get some more information while taking care of that.

[ ] Sure
- [ ] Where are we?
- [ ] Have you seen Yuzuki?
- [ ] What happened last night?
- [ ] Who is Suika? Where did she go?
- [ ] Does that drinking stuff always happen at meetings?
- [ ] Do you have anything that would help with a hangover?
- [ ] (I'm too curious to not be nosy) Can you tell me about Yatsuhashi and Sumi?
- [ ] Something else...
[ ] I actually need to get going soon, so I'll skip breakfast
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[X] Sure
- [X] Where are we?
- [X] What happened last night?
- [X] (I'm too curious to not be nosy) Can you tell me about Yatsuhashi and Sumi?
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[X] Sure
- [X] Do you have anything that would help with a hangover?
- [X] Have you seen Yuzuki?
- [X] What happened last night?
- [X] (I'm too curious to not be nosy) Can you tell me about Yatsuhashi and Sumi?
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[x] Sure
- [x] Do you have anything that would help with a hangover?
- [x] What happened last night?
- [x] Have you seen Yuzuki?

Mmmm, that fresh new thread smell.
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[X] Sure
- [X] Where are we?
- [X] What happened last night?
- [X] (I'm too curious to not be nosy) Can you tell me about Yatsuhashi and Sumi?
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[x] Sure
- [x] Where are we?
- [x] Have you seen Yuzuki?
- [x] Do you have anything that would help with a hangover?
- [x] (I'm too curious to not be nosy) Can you tell me about Yatsuhashi and Sumi?
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[X] Sure
- [X] Where are we?
- [X] What happened last night?
- [X] Have you seen Yuzuki?
- [X] Do you have anything that would help with a hangover?
- [X] (I'm too curious to not be nosy) Can you tell me about Yatsuhashi and Sumi?

"Sure, I'd be happy to join if it's not going to be a problem," I respond. If anything I'm just happy to have a chance at a free meal. Even if there's food back at camp, this could be a nice change of pace. Plus, I'm kind of dreading the flight back, considering all the sunlight and wind and ugh... One more thing comes to mind though, so I turn Merlin and Lyrica to bring it up. "Oh, I don't eat meat by the way. If that's a problem you don't have to do anything for me."

"Nooooot a problem! I'll hook you right up!" Merlin calls cheerfully as she hops over to the refrigerator and starts digging through it. I'm not sure how common refrigeration is in Gensokyo, or really how common electricity is for that matter. Should I be acting more impressed than i am right now? Ugh, whatever. My head hurts too much to worry a lot about keeping my cover story up. I doubt I'll do a worse job than whatever I said while I was drunk at least.

"Rare to see a vegetarian youkai though," Lyrica says, seeming to just be making some simple conversation while she continues cooking the whatever she's cooking. I see Kogasa taking a seat at the table, a pleased expression on her face as she clutches her umbrella with both hands and making it bob back and forth in front of her. After a moment, I follow her and grab a seat for myself. I resist the impulse to lay my head down on the table in favor of keeping some conversation going.

"Well, I am a rabbit, so it's not that weird," I feel like that's a decent enough explanation, even if I don't know much about how Earth rabbits do things. Lyrica just shrugs in response, so I guess she agrees. Personally, I'm not as against the idea of eating meat as I think everyone back home would be. It does seem like kind of a strange concept to eat something that used to be able to move around on its own, but I think it's a concept I could eventually get used to. I just haven't given it all that much thought up to this point. I never had a chance to try it before, and I don't really have a compelling reason to do so right now.

"A rabbit youkai," Lyrica emphasizes. What's your point? "Most youkai that I know are at least a little bit carnivorous. If only for the purpose of scaring humans. Not a bad idea to have multiple food sources, especially since I hear you new rabbits were living outside of society up until this point."

Err, I guess she has something of a point. I've mostly been coasting on our original cover story, but if you look too closely at it, there are probably more than a few holes you could poke at. "Well, we managed," I answer vaguely, hoping that Lyrica will accept that as good enough. She gives me a curious look for a moment, but doesn't press the issue, choosing to go back to cooking. Maybe I should move this conversation away from myself sooner rather than later. "We don't exactly have a mansion like this, so maybe we're not that civilised, but we managed," I reiterate after some thought.

"Pshh. Kehehe," Merlin snickers, bent over and leaning into the fridge still. Err, aren't you sticking your butt out a little too far? Maybe I should just focus on Lyrica right now instead... "I don't know if you saw most of it, but this place isn't exactly the picture of high class."

"Well I did notice a couple of places that could use some work," I admit. Pretty much every room that I looked in had some amount of mess somewhere, whether it was from the building or whoever lives in it. "What exactly is up with this place anyway?"

"This is the not so glamorous Prismriver mansion," Lyrica smiles wryly as she answers. "It's, well, technically us three sisters' house right now. The place is a bit of a mess, but well, we've all got busy schedules sooo..."

"Plus, we're poltergeists!" Merlin interrupts happily, standing back up with both arms full of fruit. "It's against our nature to keep things clean. We gotta make some noise and make some messes!"

"Not right now though, please," Lyrica pleads. Merlin is definitely lacking in an inside voice. After bringing a hand up to rub her temple for a moment, Lyrica continues. "Well, that's her excuse anyway, and it's more or less true. Sorry if we're not the best hosts. This whole thing was a little short notice."

"No not at all, it's fine," I assure her, I don't want to be rude. "If anything, I'm glad that we wound up here. Getting drunk like last night could have ended with us in much worse places, I'm sure."

Merlin laughs again as puts everything down on a nearby counter and starts doing... Something. I can't tell, she's facing away from me. "I wanted to have the whole thing here, and that was part of my argument too!" She explains, turning her head toward Lyrica. "Drinking was gonna happen last night regardless, so why not do it somewhere safe instead of the wilderness?"

"It's a meeting, not a house party," Lyrica doesn't turn to face Merlin but still responds to her tersely. "The rooms that are big enough to hold everyone that came last night are already trashed in one way or another, and we don't need to make it worse."

"I told you we should've hired a maid," Merlin says smugly.

"And as the one that takes care of finances, I told you that we can't afford something like that unless we're paying like crap," Lyrica sounds like she's getting a little annoyed, but also like she's had this argument multiple times before. "No human is going to come all the way out to the famed 'ruined western mansion' to work for peanuts. Not to mention how much worse you'd make their job whenever you got rowdy."

"Err, speaking of last night, what exactly happened?" I interject just to try and break this argument up and get us back on topic. I don't feel like they were talking about anything that relevant to me. "Everything gets kind of hazy for me after a certain point."

"Everybody got smashed, what more is there to it?" Lyrica asks bluntly.

I already know that much. "I was kind of hoping for some specifics."

Lyrica finishes up whatever food she's preparing and starts scooping some of it out of her pan and onto some plates. "Well I wasn't there when it all started. We kinda got pulled in after you had already began, so I don't really-"

"Oh! I know, I know!" Kogasa lifts up her umbrella as she interrupts proudly. "Seiran, you ate one of my surprise cupcakes and got a flavor that surprised you!"

I'm a little annoyed by how proud Kogasa seems of what happened. "I definitely remember that," There isn't really any reason why I wouldn't.

"It was a big success, I was really happy that it worked out!" If by 'big success' she means 'the reason I feel horrible right now' then she's probably correct. "Anyway, Suika showed up offered you some of her sake to help your mouth, and after that everybody took it as a cue to start drinking."

"I remember everything you've said so far. It's after that that I need help remembering," I tell Kogasa. "What did we do after that?"

"Uhmmm, lots of stuff," Kogasa answers vaguely. Great, thanks for the help. I guess she got drunk too, so I can't really blame her.

"Hm, lemme think..." Lyrica picks up where Kogasa left off, putting down her utensils to tick things off on her fingers. "Party tricks, tests of strength, drinking contests, made up party games, multiple performances from all the musicians, cards, danmaku..." For every point that Lyrica mentions, Merlin has been adding an 'and drinking' on to it in the background. "Yes Merlin, we get it."

"Uh huh..." Well I can kinda remember bits and pieces of some of those things. It sounds pretty benign, and honestly, I'm a bit sad that I missed some of it. It was probably a lot of fun. "And at some point we decided to move from where the meeting was to here?" I ask.

"Yyyeah," Lyrica cautiously agrees as she brings three plates over to the table. She doesn't put one in front of me so I guess that squishy looking yellow stuff is some kind of meat? I've never seen it before. "It's a little hazy for me at that point too," She admits, sitting down across from me.

"I remember!" Merlin calls out as she finishes up what she's doing. She bounces (in more than one w-STOP THAT) over to me and sets a tall dessert cup down on the table. It's full a variety of fruits, most of which I don't even recognize. We don't have this kind of variety on the Moon! Let's see, I recognize some sliced up apples, strawberries, oranges, watermelon... I don't know what the rest of the stuff in here actually is.

"Uh, wow... This looks really good," I say honestly. It might not end up being all that filling, but I'm still looking forward to it. "Thank you very much!"

"Don't mention it honey~!" Merlin slides into the chair with the unclaimed food in front of it before continuing. "Anyway, by that point the people that were still sober wanted to go home, and some people were already passed out so they couldn't go home. I figured it was a good idea to come back here, since it was close by and relatively safe."

"Aside from the hole in the ceiling," Lyrica points out between bites. I glance up above me, but she must be talking about somewhere else. Maybe just that hole I saw in the ballroom, although that one was covered up pretty well.

"I did say relatively," Merlin laughs. "So most people agreed and here we are. We played around a bit more, truth or dare happened for a bit, eventually more people started passing out or falling asleep and the party wound down."

"Everybody involved would later wake up with a hangover and a few new regrets," Lyrica finishes the story bluntly.

"I don't know if that's right. Most everything that I saw happen was pretty tame," I'm really glad to hear Merlin say that. "I've been to much wilder parties."

"So I didn't do anything too embarrassing?" I ask, just to double check. I could have done or said anything, but if I managed to go an entire evening without acting stupid, then drunk me might actually be more socially competent than sober me... That's kind of depressing to think about.

Merlin looks at me curiously, concentrating on trying to remember anything. She gives up after a few seconds. "Not that I can remember, although I don't recall lending you those clothes, so maaaaybe..."

Oh, these are hers. That makes some sense now that I think about it. Merlin is wearing pajamas similar to the ones I saw in the room that I found these clothes. I must have been in her room. "Er, no, I had to borrow these this morning," I explain awkwardly. "I apparently slept in the bathtub so..."

"It's fine, you can keep them. You pull it off great! Real cute, double thumbs up!" Merlin smiles widely at me and gives me two thumbs up. That's the second person so far that has seemed to really like me in these clothes. It's a little embarrassing but I'm also kind of happy about it too. Er, am I blushing right now?

"R-right," I talk to get things moving away from my embarrassment. "So do you know where Yuzuki went last night? I've found everybody else in my group this morning but I haven't been able to find her."

"Hm, Yuzuki..." Merlin considers the name but doesn't seem to recognize it. Oh yeah, I guess that Merlin or Lyrica wouldn't really have talked to her much last night.

"Pinkish hair, short ponytail, yukata," I list off what most people would notice pretty quickly about Yuzuki. "Kind of rigid posture?"

"Ah!" Merlin snaps her fingers as she recalls something. "She was one of the sober ones," She declares. "Yeah, she left last night instead of coming here."

That's actually not that surprising. Yuzuki definitely isn't the type to drink, although before last night, I wouldn't call myself that type either, so what do I know? Well, I at least know that Yuzuki wasn't around during what little I can remember of last night, so it's easy to believe that she went home early. She did want to talk to Hina this morning, so she might be doing that right now. "That's like her," I say with a shrug. I pick up a spoon to start eating. "Well, I'm sure she's feeling much better off than the rest of us now."

"But she didn't get Merlin Prismriver's custom fruit salad deluxe, so who's the real winner here?" Merlin asks, spinning her index finger around in circle for a bit before bringing it to a stop pointed at me. "This girl~!"

I can't help but smile at Merlin's enthusiasm. "I don't exactly feel like a winner, but I guess I would feel bad if I missed out the... Experience that last night was," Even if I don't remember most of it. Next time (there's going to be a next time?) I'll have to drink a bit more slowly.

"Yeah, but this kinda stuff happens when you spend a night getting plastered," Lyrica says ruefully, holding her head with one of her hands. "We can't all be masters at it like Merlin," She adds, earning a giggle from Merlin in response.

"Is there some kind of secret to it?" I ask hopefully. Anything that would make my headache hurt a little less would be very welcome. "I have stuff I still want to get done today, so if you could help at all..."

"Pacing yourself and drinking lots of water while drinking is the most important thing, but that doesn't help now, does it?" Merlin sets down her silverware as she lectures me happily. "Well you can still drink lots of water and get lots of rest, but there isn't much you can do now other than suffer through it. A lot of places will try to sell you a hangover cure, but unless it's from Eientei, you're probably just going to get ripped off," She concludes, but then has a second thought and continues. "Well, unless they're selling you more alcohol. Getting drunk again is technically an option."

"Ugh," I feel a little sick at the idea. "I don't think so," I'm not against the idea of drinking ever again, it's just... Not now.

"Darn," Merlin says, not sounding discouraged in the slightest. "I'll go and get you some water then," She decides, getting up from her seat.

There's a few minutes of silence while everyone eats their breakfast. I have to say, I really enjoy a lot of these Earth fruits. I don't know their names and can't think of a subtle way of asking, but I definitely wish I could find and grow some of these things back home. More variety would be really nice.

After an entire breakfast of restraining myself, my curiosity finally reaches a breaking point. "So uh," It might be nosy, but I really want to ask. "You two were around her much more than I was last night, but I heard that Sumi kind of hit it off with someone."

"Oh yeah, that," Lyrica answers me unenthusiastically.

That's not the nicest reaction right there. "Er, it's not a problem, is it?"

"Not really," Lyrica begins, "Yatsu's always been pretty outgoing, so of course when she meets your friend with the... Interesting attitude, the two of them find it easy to talk to each other. Yatsuhashi doesn't really have any friends outside the two bands, and even then she's not in either of them. I think she was just enjoying having somebody new to talk to that doesn't treat her like part of a set."

"Oh, so there wasn't anything uh," How to say this without sounding awkward? "Romantic going on?"

"Not that I know of," Lyrica shrugs.

"Hmmm~? I wouldn't be so sure," Merlin butts in. "Remember how quick she was to help Sumi during that duel?" She asks rhetorically. "And I may have been a bit tipsy myself, but I'm sure I saw them giving each other a few nice looks," She adds.

"Looks?" I'm not sure what she means.

Merlin leans forward over the table, seemingly unbothered at how this pushes her breasts up under her. If anything she seems to encourage it, wiggling a bit in order to expose what little cleavage she can under her pajama top. She looks directly up at me with half-lidded eyes, shaking her hair a bit to make sure none of it is in the way. Her lips twist into a sly little smile as I feel a weird kind of intensity from her stare. I'm... Uhm. My face feels like it's heating up. Is it normal to look hungry like that when you look into somebody's eyes? She definitely looks hungry, but not in a wanting food kind of way. This is, uh... When I finally feel awkward enough that I have to look away, Merlin sits back up as if satisfied. "Looks!" She declares happily.

"I uh. I see," I say, still not looking directly at Merlin. My heart is beating kind of fast right now. Nobody's ever given me those kinds of looks before. I'm simultaneously embarrassed and a little bit thankful for the demonstration.

"Well, it's not our call either way," Lyrica continues as if nothing weird just happened. It was weird, right? How can you just ignore something that got my heart going so fast? "I just hope that Yatsuhashi isn't trying to act out for attention. There have been times when she's purposefully tried to act more mature than she is."

"I don't think anything bad will come of it," Merlin says casually. "It's pretty cute honestly."

"Okay. Well either way, I'll talk to Sumi about it later," I decide out loud.

"What are you planning for the rest of the day then? Just heading back to wherever you're living and sleeping things off?" Merlin asks me.

That honestly does sound really tempting, but I don't think that things will go that well for me. The flight back to camp is already going to be horrible, but after that there's still a lot of stuff that I could and probably should get done today. We're working under a time limit here, so hangover or not, it would be better to get things done as soon as we can. We went to the meeting last night, so that means we can deliver a report to Kanako today at least.

Oh wait, we were still missing some possible info on that. Yuzuki suggested yesterday that we try tracking Sekibanki to see if she has any hidden contacts. Pulling that off might be an issue. Sekibanki is asleep upstairs right now, but if I leave to go get Yuzuki and come back, she might leave while I'm gone. I could try doing the tracking by myself, but I'm not as skilled as Yuzuki and Sumi are.

[ ] Gather the others and go back to camp for a meeting
[ ] Go back to camp, get Yuzuki, come back, and track Sekibanki together
[ ] Don't go back to camp
- [ ] Track Sekibanki alone
- [ ] Wake up Sumi, then track Sekibanki together
- [ ] Rest until the others are up. This hangover is terrible.
- [ ] Do something else

You know what there aren't enough of? Pictures of touhous in pajamas.
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[X] Gather the others and go back to camp for a meeting
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[X] Gather the others and go back to camp for a meeting

I'm open to suggestions if people think we really need more intel, but I think we have enough to satisfy Kanako's basic requirements and I'm not really interested in helping her beyond that point.
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[x] Gather the others and go back to camp for a meeting
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[x] Don't go back to camp
- [x] Rest until the others are up. This hangover is terrible.

> You know what there aren't enough of? Pictures of touhous in pajamas.

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[x] Don't go back to camp
- [x] Rest until the others are up. This hangover is terrible.

With Sumi asleep and Chiyo puking last time we saw her, on top of Seiran's own hangover I doubt we'll be accomplish much no matter what we choose, so let's get a little rest instead.

Also this gives Merlin more chances to be flirty
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No can do friend, we iPhone route now.

[x] Don't go back to camp
- [x] Track Sekibanki alone
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iPhone route? What's that?
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[x] Go back to camp, without bringing anybody with
-[x] Track Sekibanki alone - after you've gotten a good pair of binoculars, of course.
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[x] Don't go back to camp
- [x] Rest until the others are up. This hangover is terrible.

As good as striking when the iron is hot can be, I think it's best we get numbers and our wits about us. Try to track a youkai with many sets of eyes, literally, when we're hung over sounds like a recipe for disaster.
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Well, iPhone is an Apple product and Ringo means Apple and... Well, it was funnier in my head.
It was going to be "Mac" route but Rinno is already called that. And iPad brings out old Sakuya jokes.
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There's a tie between going back to camp for a meeting and staying at the Prismriver's for some rest. Those are kind of mutually exclusive, so if I could get a tiebreaker that would be good.

I got it, for whatever that's worth.
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[x] Don't go back to camp
- [x] Rest until the others are up. This hangover is terrible.

I can't imagine 4 hungover rabbits tromping through the unknown wilderness will end well.
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I am very annoyed.

I want this scene I'm writing to be better than it is but it is just not happening right now. I need more sleep or something goddamn. I can't focus on anything.

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[X] Don't go back to camp
- [X] Rest until the others are up. This hangover is terrible.

Ugh, even after having discussed the idea of tracking Sekibanki with Yuzuki, I'm still ready to abandon it right now. We've done our job. We don't have to go out of the way to uncover everything about the Grassroots Youkai Network right now, or really ever. We've already met the minimum requirements for what Kanako asked us to do, so unless we really feel the need to impress her, we should be fine to leave well enough alone. I can't say that I'm very eager to chase a youkai all over Gensokyo based off of an idea that we might possibly pick up some information that might possibly be useful but isn't strictly necessary. And that's assuming we would even pull it off. Sekibanki has a bunch of heads with two times as many eyes, so following her discreetly would be hard to manage even without the state that we're currently in.

Honestly, the whole idea of going out there is giving me a headache right now. Although I guess that could just be the hangover continuing to be horrible.

"Something like that," I give a vague answer as I reach up to try to rub some of the pain away from my head. It's not really working. "We'll probably head back after everyone's awake. I'm not looking forward to the flight though."

Lyrica nods sympathetically as Merlin reaches forward to slide my glass of water closer to me. Oh yeah, she did say that water was supposed to help, didn't she? "There's no rush, just so you know," Lyrica assures me. "I don't know whose idea it was to come here last night, but we're not going to chase anyone out now that they're here."

"Thanks," I mumble before taking a gulp of water. Hm, well if they're offering more hospitality, it might not be a bad idea to take it. "Maybe I could just stay here and rest for a bit then?" I ask hopefully. It's not just that I don't want to go out in the sun right now, it's also the fact that the others still aren't ready to go either. Chiyo's probably still getting sick and Sumi's probably still... Busy. I'm not going to forcibly round them all up at this very moment, so why not try to work on feeling a bit better in the meantime?

"Sure, there's plenty of room for you to lie down somewhere or other," Merlin answers happily. "I'll try not to make too much noise for a while."

"I've heard that one before," Lyrica mutters, loud enough that everyone else can hear. Merlin just snickers in response.

Oh, it kind of sounds like Merlin had plans. "Are you going to be doing something?" I don't want to get in the way.

"Merlin practices her music in the morning," Lyrica explains for me. "Trumpet, trombone, tuba, french horn, baritone... Doesn't seem to matter that Lunasa and I have asked her to stop and at least wait until everybody else is awake."

"I have to do something with my time. I'm just not the type of person who can go back to sleep after I get up," Merlin defends herself, but sounds more amused than indignant. She turns to me next. "So unless you really want me to, I won't be joining you in your nap."

"N-no thanks, I'm okay," Merlin's flirtiness is obvious even to me, but nobody else seems to be commenting on it. Maybe this is just how she talks or something, but I'm not really used to it. I don't know how to respond that well. It's kind of like with Yamame again. I'm flattered and a little confused but uh... What do I say? And how do I avoid stammering like an idiot?

"No cuddlebunny for now then. Oh well~," Merlin heaves an exaggerated sigh, then goes right back to eating with a smile on her face.

Lyrica continues on without commenting on what was just said, and I don't know if I'd prefer her saying anything or not. "Mine, Merlin's, and Lunasa's rooms are all right next to each other, so you can help yourself to a bed if you want," She explains. "Just don't make a mess and don't go into the other bedroom."

"The master bedroom?" I ask. Lyrica gets a complicated look on her face. I guess I kinda gave myself away right there. I should probably explain myself. "I kind of looked in there earlier already. Sorry."

"Well just... Don't, okay?" Lyrica suggests vaguely. I don't have a problem with keeping the request anyway. "It's a personal thing," She adds. Merlin nods along as well, so I guess it's something between them, and probably Lunasa as well. The look Lyrica is still giving me suggests that it really isn't my business to know though, so I'll leave it at that.


After I finish eating, I get up to head back upstairs. Merlin and Lyrica remain behind in the kitchen to clean a bit, while Kogasa goes off on her own. She claims that she's just going to try and surprise a few people while she waits for Sekibanki to get up. Given the state that most people here are probably going to be in when waking up, I can't imagine that Kogasa's shenanigans are going to be very welcome, but I don't really put in any effort to stop her. Well, hopefully whoever she scares next won't danmaku her too hard or whatever.

Nobody seems to have gotten up to wander through the halls like I was earlier, so it's just a quiet morning in the Prismriver's mansion. It would be a lot nicer if it were overcast or raining outside, but that's just my hangover talking. I don't actually have that much to complain about. Heck, if I were in a better state, this would be downright enjoyable. It sure would be nice to have an actual home with real walls and some amount of privacy and security instead of a small base of tents huddled together in the woods. Why can't I ever have nice things? Oh right, military.

I decide to float up the stairs, just because I don't want to put in the extra effort of having to climb over the collapsed part. On setting down on the landing I decide that it makes the most sense for me to rest in Merlin's room. I know exactly where it is, and if I hang my dress over something then it might be dry enough for me to wear out of here by the time I wake up. That way I don't have to go to the trouble of returning the clothes I'm wearing now. It might be nice that people keep complimenting me on these, but I really would be a lot more comfortable in what I usually wear.

Merlin's room is exactly how I left it, mess and all. You would think, given her enthusiasm and apparent habit of getting up earlier than the others, she could afford to take some of her spare time to clean her room a little bit. It doesn't make much of a difference to me though, it's at least clean enough that I can still drape my dress over the chair in front of her desk and close her blinds. With that done, all that's left is to collapse into Merlin's bed.

Oh wow... This is so nice...

A bed! A real one! Not a cot! A real squishy, soft, warm, comfy bed! I worm my way under the blankets and try to get comfortable, not that that's difficult. Honestly, getting comfortable here might be the easiest thing I've done in weeks. I haven't slept in anything so nice since... Possibly ever. We only have cots back at camp, and there's no way that the beds at the mare bases or in basic training or in the hospital would be this high quality!

I'll just focus on relaxing myself for now. The throbbing in my head seems to be matching up with my heartbeat, so slowing that down is probably for the best. If I can fall asleep, then that's all the better. In the meantime, I guess it'll just be me and my thoughts for a while. I can't say I'm that excited about that, but hopefully sleep will come pretty soon.



Mmf. Don't do that...




"BWAAH!" I jerk awake when a sudden gust of air hits my ear.

"Heh heh heh," A pleased voice from somewhere to my left laughs sinisterly. "Revenge!"

"Hmbwff..." I mumble out some kind of noise and turn to look for the voice. Ugh, my vision's blurry and everything's still too bright. Need to rub my eyes...

"Having a nice nap there Seiran?" As my consciousness returns enough that I'm aware of what I'm looking at, I discover that the culprit is Ringo. Yeah, I guess this is payback, isn't it? I kind of doubt that my reaction was as amusing as Ringo's normally is, but we're both probably too biased to judge that fairly.

Lemme think here... I was sleeping in this big comfy bed because... Oh, right, the Prismriver's mansion. Right, right. It's all coming back to me now that I'm waking up properly. How long was I asleep? "... What time is it?"

Ringo is still leaning over me with a pleased smile on her face. Her ears are drooping down on either side of me. I could probably blow into them from here as payback for her payback, but it's not really the same if she isn't asleep. "Still morning," She assures me. "Chiyo felt good enough to get away from the toilet, so we went exploring for a bit. Lyrica said you'd be up here when we asked, so I thought I'd check on you. How are you feeling?"

How am I feeling? Urgh, headache is still there. Lights are still too bright. Sound is still too loud. Everything is at least a little better than before, but from what Ringo's said, I haven't been asleep for that long. I probably could have lived with a little more time to rest. "A little better than before, still not so good," I answer quietly. If we both keep our indoor voices, I can manage a conversation just fine.

Ringo's expression softens as she rolls over so she's not hovering above me. "Same," She declares while taking up a spot next to me and laying her head on an extra pillow.

There's a brief pause where the conversation stops. Instead we just look at each other, me huddled up under the blankets and her laying on top of them. Err, Ringo, if you don't have anything to say, did you need to wake me up? It's just awkward when all you're doing is staring at me like that. "So uh, where's Chiyo now?"

"Hm? Oh, she's still downstairs," Ringo answers dismissively, putting her hands behind her head and staring at the ceiling. "Needed to wash her mouth out. Then Lyrica offered some breakfast and she took her up on it."

That's surprising to hear. Not the breakfast offer of course, but that Ringo apparently isn't taking advantage of it. "And you're not down there too?"

"Wanted to check on you first, you know?" I can see Ringo glancing at me without turning her head. "Did you find the others?"

Oh right, the thing I was doing before I gave myself a break. I probably could have reported this part back first now that I think of it. "Yuzuki went back to camp last night, so we don't have to worry about her. As for Sumi," How exactly do I phrase this? I'm oddly embarrassed about just coming out and saying it. "I found her, but she was um... Not alone."

"So?" Ringo asks before thinking about what I'm saying. "Oooooooooohh," she draws out once she realizes.

"They were just cuddling!" I hurry to explain. I don't want Ringo to get the wrong idea about things. It's not like they were kissing or anything. I definitely would have been too embarrassed to say anything in that case. "I still thought I shouldn't bother them,"

"Yeah, probably the same call I would have made," Ringo says with a shrug. "That girl works damn fast though," She adds, chuckling lightly to herself.

"Works fast?" What, did Sumi have some job that I didn't know about? That's a surprise.

"Well, you know..." No, I don't know what you mean Ringo. I look at her expectantly, prompting her to continue. After an awkward pause she gets the message and does so, albeit reluctantly. "I'm sure Sumi's got the same kind of feeling that I've been getting lately. The one I'm pretty sure that all of us are getting."

She's being too vague. "The what?"

"Mmmm," Ringo purses her lips and concentrates for a moment. Maybe she's unsure of what she wants to say or something. "That thing that I mentioned it a few days ago. The urge to do uh... Stuff," Is what she decides on. She could have done a bit better than that in my opinion.

"Yeeeeah," I kind of remember her saying something weird about wanting to do 'stuff' before. I didn't get what she means then and I still don't. Why doesn't she just come out and say what the 'stuff' is?

"Right, so I dunno, maybe it's Earth's impurities finally getting to us. Maybe we're just realizing that we can do whatever we want since nobody from Command is watching. Maybe we're just pent up after all these years. Maybe it's a combination of all those things. Maybe it's something else I'm not thinking about. I dunno," Ringo continues, taking my unsure reply at face value and apparently ignoring the confusion behind it. "I'm just surprised at how quick Sumi's acting on it, though I guess I shouldn't be. It's not like she wasn't already keeping herself busy back on the Moon."

Okay, I really have to stop her before she keeps going on and on. "What exactly are you talking about?"

"You don't...? Err, uhm," Ringo actually stammers out, losing pace in her speech about whatever she was talking about. "Nevermind," And now she's actually blushing!? "It's a dumb thing, and it's not a big deal. Let's talk about something else."

"Sure?" I guess?

Ringo glances around for a moment, searching for a topic almost literally. "So you were just resting for a bit then?" She asks after calming down a little bit.

"Y-yeah," I'm a little confused still, but I guess it's fine to just move on. "I was waiting for everyone else to get up, and I figured that resting would help with my headache."

"Solid plan," Ringo nods sagely. "I'm glad you're finally picking up some tricks from yours truly," She adds with a smug smile.

I wasn't really trying to imitate her. "Sleeping in after a night of partying and taking a nap after having your base attacked are two entirely different things," I point out. "Though I'm pretty sure Command wouldn't be happy about either of them."

"Pssh, Command. Who cares about that?" Ringo dismisses my comments easily, then grabs onto the blankets and begins shuffling toward me. "Anyway, scoot over, I'm coming in too."

"Wh-what?!" Wait, Ringo, I don't think that's the best idea here! I jerk away from Ringo instinctively, but there's only so much bed that I can slide across. I'm practically falling off the side already.

Ringo moves over again and I don't really have anywhere else to go. "C'mon, the others are still gonna be busy. I'm just going along with your original plan," She argues. I mean, I can see the point, but that doesn't mean she has to stay right next to me. There are other beds!

"Lyrica said we could use her room too," I suggest, trying not to sound too nervous.

"Sure, but I'm already here, and you've got enough space," I don't want to admit it, but that is true. Whether it was made for it or not, this bed is definitely big enough for two. "I'm not bad company and I don't snore or anything, so what's the problem?"

"There aren't enough blankets!" I argue kinda lamely, pulling the blankets that I have into a tighter ball around myself to try and seem more convincing. It doesn't work.

"Then don't hog 'em all," Ringo laughs as she easily tugs the blankets off of me. Man, super strength is not fair. I have to let her have them or else we'd probably rip Merlin's sheets.

There must be something else I can argue with. "S-Sharing your bed with anyone else is against the rules!" That's true actually. They were really clear on that back home. If you got caught in somebody else's bed you were in big trouble.

"We're just sleeping," Well yeah, of course we are Ringo. That's what would be against the rules. "And I just said that nobody has to care about what Command thinks."

Okay, I'm out of arguments now, so I guess I'll just have to give up on the whole sleeping plan. Maybe I can excuse myself and go over to Lyrica's room by myself. "Actually I'm awake now so I'll just um, uh, WHA-" I catch my legs in the blankets as I'm trying to get out of bed, almost falling to the floor if it weren't for Ringo reaching out to catch me.

"Seiran, calm down," Ringo's holding me up just by her grip on my shoulder and speaking to me in a surprisingly soothing voice. "What are you freaking out about?" She asks patiently.

Dammit. "I haven't been taking my pills," I admit, staring at the ground. I didn't really want to talk about it, but I can't really risk sleeping near anybody when a random nightmare could make me shoot them on accident. I'm already really glad that I managed to last the night without hurting Wakasagihime or Kagerou. I really shouldn't take another chance here.

There's a brief pause before Ringo pulls me back up into a sitting position next to her. Once I'm back up, she gives me a soft, but still slightly concerned smile. "I trust you," She says evenly, looking me straight in the eyes. "I'm not gonna tell you what to do either way, but I trust you."

Ringo that's not really fair to just say that. Of course I don't dislike having you here with me. Of course it would be nice to have somebody else warming up the blankets. Of course I would like to be able to think that I won't lose control of my powers but...

Ringo is lying in a pool of blood, clutching her stomach and wheezing in pain as she presses her face down into her bunk. I hear panic and calls for help from the rabbits around me, but all I can do is stare. I did this.

I don't know if I trust myself.

[ ] Go back to sleep with Ringo
[ ] Sleep somewhere else
[ ] Do something else (What?)

I like it better than yesterday now.
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[X] Go back to sleep with Ringo

If you can't trust your comrade's trust in you, what can you trust? Also, she needs to do that thing with Yamame eventually. Maybe not this day, but one day.
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[X] Go back to sleep with Ringo

I kind of hope we're not wasting time in regards to the whole "must get back to the Moon in 8 days or Eirin will kill us all" thing.
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[X] Go back to sleep with Ringo
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[x] Go back to sleep with Ringo
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[x] Go back to sleep with Ringo

You're not the type to be cruel and make this go horribly wrong... right?
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[x] Go back to sleep with Lingo

The path to recovery starts now.
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[X] Go back to sleep with Ringo

Believe in the Ringo that believes in us? Sounds good to me.
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[X] Go back to sleep with Ringo

We'll be fine. Totally. No problem. Right?
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I'm glad that events have conspired to continue to prevent Seiran from taking that dream prevention drug, I'm hoping we can keep this up.
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[X] Go back to sleep with Ringo

What am I supposed to say here? What can I say here? I may not be at my best right now but there has to be something better than 'Sorry Ringo, I have massive issues about things that happened a long time ago and am apparently the only one who hasn't gotten over it'. While that may or may not be true, saying it out loud just doesn't sit well with me. It's like I'm giving up on getting better. That was never supposed to be the case it's just... I don't know.

'Sorry Ringo, I'm an idiot who has been deliberately avoiding my not-shooting-people medication so I'm not safe to be around'? No, that's kind of even harder for me to admit to. I don't like saying that I'm dumb when I know I'm not. I can't really think of any other reason why I've been skipping out on my pills though. Well, okay, one night I had to because otherwise I wouldn't have had enough of them left over to last until the full moon. I think that's excused. Then last night I didn't have one on me, and wasn't able to go back to camp because of all the drinking and stuff. Maybe that one's not so much excused but it's at least rationalized in my mind. Two nights ago however, that one I actively chose not to take my very important medication. Why?

Honestly, I guess I'm just curious. It's been a really long time since I've ever had any kind of dream of anything, after all. It's just interesting to see what my subconscious feels like throwing together when it has the chance, whether that ends up being semi-accurate looks at things that happened in the past or just mish-mashes of things that I vaguely remember encountering at some point. They haven't really ended up being pleasant either way, and I've kind of avoided analyzing them very heavily, but they are still a little interesting. It's just a bit troubling that I'm choosing to indulge in that curiosity when it puts people around me in danger.

Anyway, I'm getting away from the point here, or at least wandering around it pointlessly. Ringo's still right next to me. I know that she's not going to rush me into deciding anything, but that doesn't mean she isn't giving me an expectant and kind of hopeful look. Yes, I see you there, I'm getting back to thinking about it, just a second.

Ringo trusts me. This is far from the first time that she's told me as much, but it's never really been in this exact context. It's... Really nice to hear somebody say that right now actually. I know that I still have something of a complex (an entirely justified one) about the whole 'unnecessarily deadly powers that I don't have proper control of' thing. Almost any other rabbit that knew about me would definitely go out of there way to avoid me. Hell, any person who knew about me would avoid me. To have Ringo saying that she still believes in me, especially considering the history there...

I'm really going to do this, aren't I?

There's no reason to take a risk like this. There are plenty of other places I could sleep that would be much safer for everyone involved. Honestly, this whole break is an unnecessary waste of time that I was selfishly doing on my own. Ringo should be telling me to get up and get back to work! She shouldn't be just going along with whatever dumb thing I decide to do!

Maybe that's just another part of what it means when she says she trusts me. I don't know.

"Fine," I declare simply, pulling my body up on my own before letting it flop down onto the bed. After all that mental rambling combined with the headache, I don't really have the mental energy to think of anything more interesting to say. I'm just giving up and going with it. It's dumb and risky, but I'm still going to go with it. I heave a sigh, but Ringo seems too pleased with herself to notice it.

"Great!" Ringo lays back, letting go of my shoulder with a wide smile. "As an added bonus, I'll let you pick which spoon you wanna be. I personally prefer the big spoon, but it might end up looking silly with the height difference," She looks at me, pausing her offer to consider something. "Well, your call either way."


Ringo's smug smile opens up into a larger grin. "It was a joke," She laughs. "Well partially anyway. Was some truth in there too. Don't worry about it."

"I don't really get it," I admit.

"It's one of those euphemisms. Don't worry about it," I don't know how Ringo and Sumi learned all these phrases and slang things that I never have. Even Chiyo sometimes talks about stuff that I've never heard of without explaining it to me. It's a little frustrating. I think they do it on purpose just to see me getting confused.

Well anyway, Ringo may be in a good mood, but I'm still trying to keep myself calm. It's going to be fine. Nothing bad is going to happen. No I don't need to try and think of whether I saw any emergency medical supplies anywhere in the house (I didn't). I won't need them anyway. I am not going to shoot Ringo in my sleep. She trusts me, and I really don't want her to be wrong in doing so.

Ringo moves back over to give me some more room and pats the spot next to her. "Well, let's get started. This hangover isn't sleeping itself off," Don't you sound a little too eager for what is just us going to sleep? It's not like we're going to be conscious for it.

I mumble out a noise of confirmation that isn't any word in particular and move over to the spot she indicated. Ringo lies down next to me with a tiny laugh. We're a little close like this, don't you think? There's enough bed that you don't have to be right right next to me. Well, I guess it might be nice anyway. The heating in this house isn't the best (although I admit it's much better than a tent) so having another person warming the blankets is welcome.

Yeah, just need to keep thinking about positives like that. No negatives. No bullets. Just think about nice things like how soft and cute Ringo's face looks right now and how she's lying RIGHT next to me... Uhm, wow, we're really close like this aren't we? Yeah, we definitely are. I'm really not used to this. I feel like I'm saying that a lot lately. I don't know if that's good or not. Having new experiences (even ones that Command might frown on) is probably good, but freezing up and getting confused when they happen is probably bad. I should work on that. And maybe not have dumb thoughts every time I see a pretty girl.

"'Night Seiran," Ringo says, pulling her half of the blankets up over her.

But it's morning.



There's a crash, maybe like something shattering, ending with a confused cry of pain. Then silence.

I don't know what that was, but I'm surprised that was enough to wake me up. I'm exhausted. I've been exhausted for days. It's especially bad now. I didn't sleep at all the last two cycles. Too many dreams. I'm too anxious. I'm a mess. Can't focus on training. Can't see right. Still hallucinating.

These hallucinations are a disease, right? I've never had a disease before. I know I should go to the doctor, but I haven't. Diseases are an impurity. They shouldn't exist. If I have an impurity, I must have done something wrong. What if they tell me it's my fault? What if I get in trouble? What if they can't fix it? Ughhh, I can't do this anymore. Just let me sleep. No dreams this time too. That's all I want.

There's whispering a few bunks down. That's not unusual after lights out. Those rabbits are up to something a lot of the time, I don't know how they don't get in trouble. I don't know them very well. I don't know any rabbits very well actually. I keep to myself. People think I'm weird because I take the training seriously. They don't get it. I don't really get it either. I just want to be useful. There's nothing wrong with that.

The whispers are answered by... Groans? It's faint. Why groan if you're trying to be quiet? Just whisper some more. That'd make more sense.

Then somebody screams in terror.

I jerk up in bed and open my eyes t-woah. Oh this is bad. The hallucinations have never been this strong before. It's not just bullets flying around at the edge of my vision. Criss-crossing purples, blues, and reds swirling around, with projectiles going everywhere. I can't see. I wouldn't be able to see even if they turned on the lights.

Don't panic. DON'T. Calm down. Don't panic. Reality check. Just focus on what I can sense. I can feel myself breathing. That's a good start. Count my fingers. They're all there. Bring them up close. Too dark to see. I can feel them against my face though. That's good. There's a smell in the air. Something metallic smelling. I can hear people shuffling around, responding to the scream.

Somebody flicks on the lights, and it hurts my eyes. I can see other things now, but there's still so many bullets. So many patterns. It hurts to look at. Somebody else must see this too, right? I can see people getting out of their bunks to see what's going on. They don't look at the bullets though, they're all looking over at the source of the scream. Right, my vision is still hallucinating, but my hearing was right. Another person screams and the shuffling over to the sound increases in intensity. What's going on?

I move to stand up. I'm on the bottom bunk, so it should be easy. It isn't. I'm dizzy. I'm too tired and my vision is too messed up. What I can see that I know is actually there is blurry. Standing up is difficult. I need to brace myself against something. There's a wall near the head of my bed. I'll use that.

My hand finds the barracks wall, and I push against it to steady myself. It's solid, so it does the job I want of it. I manage to stand up fully, but stop when I feel an irregularity. There's a small dimple in the wall here. That wasn't there before. It's very small in diameter, but feels deep enough that I can't get my finger in. It's kind of warm too, and it feels like there's something... Metal in it...?

My vision clears up slightly as a sense of foreboding washes over me. There's a bullet in the wall here. I would have noticed it before lights out, right? Somebody shot something inside the barracks at night. Why? When? How? I look around some more.

One of the lights, hanging up near the growing congregation of people, is shattered. It makes that side of the room much darker. I can see the glass on the floor. The whole thing just exploded. Somebody shot that too. I'm sure of it. Why am I so sure of it? This isn't something that's happened before.

I watch out for glass shards, but still quickly make my way over to the group of people a few bunks down. I have to push a little bit to get past the ring of people, and I almost lose my balance. The patterns and the swirling and the bullets are still a problem. I manage to make it though, and I can see what everyone else is looking at.

That girl. We've met before, but I don't remember her name. Short blond hair. Kind of short. Has lots of friends. Always active in the cafeteria and not in any other place. She's slumped on the ground next to her bed, occasionally heaving out a strangled sob, but mostly just sitting there clutching her stomach.

And she's sitting in a pool of blood.

That's a lot of blood.

Everyone else is just staring. They're not reacting correctly. This is wrong. They have to do something. This girl is bleeding!

My vision blurs more and I start losing track of the area around me. Bullets... They're everywhere again. I'm dizzy. I need to do something else...

[ ] Run
[ ] Look away
[ ] Faint
[ ] Something else

[ ] Wake up

Actually it's only 6 days now, but who's counting?

I don't know if you're being sarcastic or not and I'm okay with that.
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[X] Wake up

Nope, not in the mood for dream bullshit today, no sir.
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Nah, wasn't being sarcastic. My impression from earlier updates was that the Lunarians were dicks who jumped straight to preventing her from dreaming at all, rather than any kind of attempt at helping her gain firmer control or therapy.
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[x] Wake up

I have a feeling this is a trick question, but I don't have any better ideas.
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[X] Wake up

I get the feeling that's Ringo in that dream.
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[x] Faint

What happens if you faint in a dream??? We need to go deeper.
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[X] Faint
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[x] Bind the wound
-[x] Faint
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[x] Something else

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Need to tiebreak again, thanks.
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[x] Wake up

The tie is now broken.
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[X] Wake up

This is wrong. Something is definitely wrong here. How did this happen? Why did this happen?

I can't really focus on that stuff, even if the questions are all vaguely buzzing around in my head. In fact, I can't really focus on much of anything other than the scene that I'm looking at right now. The red liquid under that girl seems to be seeping out and expanding a little faster than I think it should. That's a lot of blood. Do people really have that much blood? Why isn't anyone else doing anything to help? The other rabbits were just here, I heard some of them scream, but I've lost track of them just like most of everything else.

I want to look away. I want to look away, or run away, or just stop this entire situation, but somehow I'm just stuck. Rooted in one spot as I try to identify this girl through all the bullets.

The bullets. They're still around aren't they? Yeah, they're definitely still here, and they seem to be getting worse again. My vision is getting clouded up. They're making it hard to see, and I don't know whether that's good or bad. I don't want to see what I'm seeing right now, but I don't want to see the bullets either. What am I supposed to do?

Something. I have to do something. Even if my fight or flight reaction has swung massively toward the latter, that still means that I have to do something. That means that I need to see. I need to see something other than the bullets. Something other than this girl bleeding out in front of me.

Maybe I can just push them out of the way with my hands. But they're not really there are they? They're not real. They can't be real. Shouldn't be. If they were real then people would be getting hurt. They'd be getting shot. Getting shot and bleeding everywhere and that's way too much blood why can I still see that but not anything else why won't they just cover that up move move movemovemove!

My arm won't move.

My arm won't move!

What's happening!? I can't get out! I can't get away! I need to move and my arm isn't moving and my vision is blurry and my head hurts and I don't know where anyone went and I can't focus and I think I'm screaming now and I need to get the bullets out of here now before somebody gets shot and I can't move and-



I wake up to the sound of my own screaming and immediately start to panic. Where am I?! What's happening?! My arm! Why can't I move my... Oh.

R-right. That's what was happening... Okay. Take a deep breath. Close eyes. Focus. Everything is okay. I was sleeping off a hangover in Merlin's bed. Ringo was with me. She still is, in fact. She's actually lying on her side, with both of her arms wrapped around my left one. She's clinging to me rather tight, now that I'm calmed enough to notice it. I don't think she's doing it on purpose. From what I can hear of her breathing, she seems to still be peacefully asleep. Lucky her.

Okay, now that I'm calmed down and am in control of myself, I'm probably in a good enough state to address what just happened. Yes, I was dreaming again. Yes, I was having another nightmare that was a mix of stuff that actually happened and some subconscious nonsense thrown in. Yes, I just barely managed to wake up before the bad part.

And yes, even after waking up, my powers are active right now.

It only takes a brief moment of concentration to suppress them again, but that doesn't make the fact that they were turned on less disturbing. This could have ended really badly if things had worked out a little differently. Using my power involves physically pulling bullets through dimensional barriers. It isn't strictly necessary that I use my hammer, or even my arms to do that, but it helps to have a physical sensation associated with what I'm doing. I was probably trying to do that in my sleep. The only reason I didn't was that Ringo was holding on to me hard enough that when I tried to move my arms, I couldn't.

I let out a sigh as I let my body relax into the mattress. There's definitely a miserable feeling that I basically just broke Ringo's trust. Even if no shots were actually fired, it wasn't because of my own ability to control myself, it was just because Ringo got a little clingy in her sleep, and that happened to mess up what I was doing in the dream enough that the surprise woke me up. It was just a coincidence that happened to save the situation from becoming either me causing some random property damage to Merlin's room, or something much worse to Ringo's body.

Maybe I shouldn't be risking sleep without taking my pills anymore. The doctors back home definitely advised against it. Actually, advised is probably the wrong word. It's more like I was under very explicit orders to never ever skip taking my pill. That's not to say that I never missed a day here or there, but it's never been intentional, and nothing ever came from a single day skipped. Now that I've gone without for several days, I can see what all the time and experience with controlling my powers has gotten me. I can also get discouraged when I realize that it isn't all that much.

Ugh, this is depressing to think about. Maybe I should just get out of... Oh. Right. I can't move still, because Ringo is still holding on to me so tight. Maybe if I just wiggle out a little... No, that's not working either. Man, this isn't even her super strength. It's not like Ringo's been eating dango in her sleep. She just has a naturally tight grip or something. This is so unfair. I'm stuck like this until she gets up or lets go.

Fine. I could just wake her up, but she looks comfortable and happy. I'll just wait while I think about something else. I don't know how long Ringo and I have been asleep, but my headache is mostly gone. I don't feel like I'm at my best or anything, but the small bit of sunlight peeking out from behind the window's blinds isn't trying to murder my eyes either. So I'm feeling good enough to get back to work, which was more or less the point of this whole thing. Good job, self. Mission accomplished. You only had to almost shoot your commanding officer once! You know how much she'd love it if that happened!

Wow, I managed to make that positive thing into a negative too! I really am the best at depressing myself!

Too much negativity. Way too much negativity. Just think of something nice and positive without turning it into self-loathing. Shouldn't be that hard. Okay. I'm... Pretty comfortable right now. That's nice. Ringo's squeezing my arm, and I'm a little bit warmer than I need to be with her body heat and all the blankets combined, but neither of those are really big deals. It's not likely that I'm going to get a chance to sleep somewhere comfortable like this in the foreseeable future, so I should try to enjoy this moment for that reason at least. Ringo definitely is.

Speaking of Ringo, she's uh, kind of close, isn't she? I mean obviously she is because of the way she's holding on to me, but something about seeing her sleeping face right next to my own awake one makes me a little nervous. Maybe it's just a guilty conscience. I've seen her asleep tons of times, but I've definitely never woken up next to her like this. Sleeping next to somebody is against the rules, so obviously this is a new thing for me. Now that I'm looking at her and thinking about it, I really hope that she wakes up before anybody-

The door to the room flings open with a loud thud. "Alright Ringo you lardass! I can't take it anymore! If you're done pissing the day away then can we..." Sumi marches into the room, ranting in a way that I can only describe as 'characteristically Sumi', before she notices me and trails off what she's saying. My immediate reaction is to try to hide, but there's only so much I can do when I'm being held in place.

Why did it have to be right now that someone would come in? Ringo is still asleep and I can't quickly get her off of me! I feel myself blushing heavily as I try to force out something of an explanation. "Uhm! This is um... We were..." Argh, I'm just making it worse! Sumi's looking at me with a grin that keeps on getting bigger. I just need to stop stammering and tell the truth! Yes we were breaking the rules, okay?!

Before I can put the right words in the right order, Chiyo pokes her head into the doorway. She takes a quick glance at the situation before speaking. "Bad timing? Do we need to come back later?" She asks plainly.

"Nnnnnnmfff," Ringo makes an annoyed noise at having been disturbed, but doesn't seem to really wake up. Instead she just pulls herself closer to me and tries to bury her face into my shoulder. Ah! Ringo! Don't move like that! You're going to knock the strap for my top down!

I struggle to keep Merlin's clothes on properly for a second, and when I look up Sumi's smile has grown so wide that I can see all of her teeth. Chiyo still looks pretty neutral about it though. "Yeah, bad time. Let us know when you're ready," She says before ducking out of the doorway.

"So you guys finally decided to make it happen, huh?" Sumi asks, looking down at Ringo and I approvingly. "Figured you two would get together eventually. Well, as long as you don't make too much of a mess and don't keep the rest of us up at night, I am all for it! Congraaaatulations!" Sumi adds a wink and a thumbs up.

Okay, I don't know what Sumi is thinking, but it's definitely wrong. "What are you talking about?!" I demand loudly, kind of hoping that I'll wake up Ringo so she can help me out with this. "We were just sleeping here to get rid of our headaches! There's nothing else to it!"

"Right, sure," Sumi sounds amused as she dismisses my response. Just listen to me and stop jumping to conclusions! "Well, I'm gonna head outside and shut the door. You guys can get yourselves up, maybe squeeze in a quickie, get dressed, clean any extra fluids, then come out and we'll all go back to camp. Sound good? Great, see you in a few!" Sumi laughs as she sprints back to the door, shutting it on her way out.


I groan out loud and put my face in the palm of my free hand. It's really warm. I'm pretty sure my face is as red as my eyes right now. Why did Sumi and Chiyo immediately decide that Ringo and I were doing something inappropriate? I mean, we were breaking the rules by sleeping in the same bed, but that's all! It's not like we were cuddling or um... Kissing. That'd be... Um. Hm. Kissing Ringo would be...

Well, I should probably stop thinking about that.


A couple of minutes and one indignant puff of air into somebody's ear later, Ringo and I are both up and out of bed. I'm relieved to hear it when Ringo promises that she'll talk to the others about why we were sleeping together and clear up any misunderstandings, although I honestly wish she had just woken up earlier and stopped any from being formed in the first place. I don't think she would have left me in that kind of situation just to watch me squirm though. I'm sure she would have helped if she had been properly awake.

Anyway, Chiyo and Sumi came in here because they wanted to go back to camp. I'm not really opposed to the idea either, since it seems like Ringo and I slept most of the morning away. It's probably around noon or later now, and it seems that most of the other youkai have already left the mansion. The four of us really should get back, regroup with Yuzuki, and figure out what we're going to do from there. On the way back though, maybe I could talk to one of the others about something.

[ ] I should apologize to Ringo for almost shooting her.
[ ] I'm curious about the thing with Sumi and Yatsuhashi.
[ ] I hope Chiyo's okay now. She was getting sick earlier.
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[x] I should apologize to Ringo for almost shooting her.

She deserves to know. It seems that her conditions and little to do with willpower, unfortunately.
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[x] I should apologize to Ringo for almost shooting her.

Ringo is a good friend and also totally gaaaay. Clearly the long-term solution is for her to sleep with Seiran every night.
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[X] I should apologize to Ringo for almost shooting her.
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[X] I should apologize to Ringo for almost shooting her.

That does seem like the sort of thing that would demand an apology.
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[X] I hope Chiyo's okay now. She was getting sick earlier.
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[x] I should apologize to Ringo for almost shooting her.

Preferably with the others in earshot.
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>Preferably with the others in earshot

Oh you!
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[X] I should apologize to Ringo for almost shooting her.

Looks like Seiran never went to therapy.
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What did I... oh fuck me.
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I'm having that thing where I want this scene to be better than it is again.

Blugh. Tomorrow. Thanks for the patience. I know most people probably don't mind a day's delay but it still bothers me a lot. Maybe I need to do something different with my schedule. Dunno.
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[X] I should apologize to Ringo for almost shooting her.

It doesn't take a very long for Ringo and I to get back up and going. Ringo just has to slip her hat back on, while I have to gather up my clothes and mallet. I'd honestly like to change back into my normal dress, but the whole thing is still just a little bit damp. That combined with the autumn weather outside means that I don't feel like I have much choice but to take up Merlin's offer to borrow her outfit. Well, at least I know that people seem to think I look good in it. I can live with a few extra compliments.

Ringo and I exit Merlin's room and are immediately greeted by an indifferent looking Chiyo and entirely too many eyebrow wiggles from Sumi. The two of them are waiting across the hall. Sumi's leaning casually up against the far wall, while Chiyo is sitting down, hugging her knees to her chest, occasionally glancing off at nothing in particular. I feel a little awkward just looking at them. I know that there's been a misunderstanding here.

"Ready to go?" Chiyo asks quickly as I come out and close Merlin's door behind me. "You guys get it all out of your systems?"

"Yup," Ringo responds happily, reaching up to stretch her arms a bit. "With that little nap, Seiran and I are well on the way to no-hangover town," This is pretty much true, thankfully. I'm still sore from having slept in a bathtub all night, but my head is in a much better state than it was when I first woke up. While I may not be functioning at one-hundred percent, I'm at least functioning at all now. "How about you?"

I catch Sumi rolling her eyes at the response for whatever reason, while Chiyo shrugs. "I've still got breakfast in me," She responds. Well, she doesn't sound or look very happy, but at least she hasn't been getting sick anymore. "I should be fine. Sumi says some of the stuff we have back at camp will help too."

"Oh," Ringo's small surprise matches my own. Although thinking about it, I suppose that if anyone between us would know about dealing with hangovers, it would be Sumi. "Well you could've saved us some time if you just told us that earlier," Ringo says before thinking about it. "Actually, I don't mind an excuse to nap so never mind."

"Eh, it's just some painkillers. It's not like they're even meant to treat hangovers. You're still gonna hurt like a sonnuvabitch if you drink like any of us did last night, it'll just help out. Anyway!" Sumi explains herself before pushing off from the far wall. She hops over to Ringo and slides her arm around her shoulders. "Ringo, buddy, don't think I didn't catch you dodging Chiyo's question."

"Huh? No I didn't."

Sumi takes a deep breath and closes her eyes before continuing on gleefully. "Okay, think about it. Did you guuuuuys," She points back and forth between me and Ringo a couple of times. "Get it aaaaaaall," She starts rotating her hips around for some reason. "Out of your systems?" She snickers a couple of times before making a couple of kissy faces at Ringo and wiggling her eyebrows again.


"Restroom," I declare shortly while I turn to walk away. I vaguely hear Sumi trying to make me stop so she can keep teasing me, but I'm not listening to what she's saying.

I heave a loud sigh as I close myself into the restroom. It looks like Wakasagihime and Kagerou (and tiny Suika) have left while Ringo and I were asleep, so it's just me here. Just me and my thoughts. Ugh.

I know it shouldn't really bother me. Sumi messing with us, or just me specifically, isn't really anything new. She's found a fun new avenue to bother me and is running with it until it stops being funny or something else comes along. She might even be projecting somewhat. Who is she to talk about what she thinks Ringo and I did together when she was the one cuddling with someone earlier? Or at least I'm pretty sure she was. I don't think I'm projecting like she is...

Whatever. The point is that Sumi's only teasing me because of a misunderstanding. Once Ringo has a chance to clear that up, Sumi will let it drop. She might apologize or she might not, but either way is fine by me. I didn't really come into the bathroom here to escape Sumi's teasing, it might have set me off, but it's more just an excuse. I really came in here for a couple of other reasons. The first is to give Ringo a chance to explain things to the others. The second is because this guilt is making me feel like garbage.

When she woke up, Ringo didn't ask a single question about what happened while we were both asleep. She didn't ask if I dreamed. She didn't ask if I almost shot her. To her, there wasn't any need to ask those questions. She really does trust me that much.

And she's wrong.

It's... Frustrating. Really frustrating actually. I want to be somebody worth trusting. I want to be somebody that can get close to other people without hurting them. I'm not those things though. Not without my pills. Not without my pills and constantly suppressing everything all the GODDAMN TIME-

Ow. Why did I do that? What did I really think I was going to accomplish by slamming my fist on the sink? It just hurt. I sigh again as I glance at myself in the mirror. At least hitting the sink is a little better than the alternative. I could have tried punching my reflection. If I had been looking at it before my stupid outburst I probably would have done that instead. That would have been much worse.

Honestly, looking in the mirror, I see a mess. A bunny girl with dark circles under her eyes and unkempt hair, like she'd gotten it wet but not washed it or put any thought into drying it. She looks exhausted and slumped over, like the weight of the dress awkwardly draped over her shoulder is much heavier than it actually is. She looks exhausted, like the only sleep she's been getting has been constantly interrupted. She looks confused, wearing somebody else's clothes and hiding in their bathroom from what is basically a few insensitive words that she knows shouldn't bother her. She looks anxious, clutching to her hammer so tightly, like it's going to even do anything when she knows the problem is her the whole time. I don't like looking at this mess.

I need to do better than this.

If not for myself, then at least for Ringo, who trusts me.

The first thing I decide to do is not sigh a third time. I won't say that I'm giving up on self pity forever, but I shouldn't bother with it right now. Instead, I turn on the sink, getting my hands wet before splashing some water onto my face. It's cold and unpleasant, but a good kind of unpleasant, if that makes sense. Like I really need to wake myself up and the shock there is just what I needed.

Somebody's hairbrush is sitting nearby, so I grab it and start trying to make myself look a little bit more presentable. I need to get better in lots of ways. This is a small start, but it's something I can do right now. Even though I'm kind of dreading what comes next, I can manage this much. I just have to keep trying.


Sumi doesn't apologize when I leave the bathroom, instead choosing to drop all the teasing while acting like nothing happened at all. That suits me just fine, so I let it go as well. I guess Ringo's talk with her went well, though for a Sumi and Ringo talk, 'going well' has it's own kind of definition. Fists have been involved on more than one occasion, but I'm pretty sure that isn't the case now. They both look fine.

The end result is that all four of us are ready and various levels of eager to head back to camp. While I don't dislike the Prismriver's mansion, finding a way to survive until next week kind of takes precedence over hanging around with the locals. That's not to say that we skip saying goodbyes to our hosts though.

Lyrica says we're welcome to come by again if we want to. Whether it's for fun or to escape some kind of trouble, as long as we don't bring that trouble with us, we'll be welcome. She also talks a bit about jam sessions and next year's concert season, which seems to interest Sumi a lot, but that's not really something that I think should be our concern. That's way too far away.

Merlin happily assures me that I can keep her clothes for as long as I need. Apparently she has more than enough clothes that she barely ever wears. She also adds that if I really want to pay her back, then I should come by and help them clean up their house a bit, so long as I don't mind her making a mess of things shortly afterwards.

Lunasa doesn't say much, apparently still miserable about her own hangover. She gives a brief goodbye, but that's about it. I don't mind all that much though. We didn't interact all that much last night or at all this morning, and it's not like she owes us anything.

All in all, I can say that we've met yet another group of very nice youkai. When are we going to be meeting the bad people that need to be purified anyway?


Leaving the mansion elicits different degrees of groaning and pain from all four of us. Ringo and I seem to have it the best, while Sumi seems at least ready to tough it out. As for Chiyo, if she keeps grimacing like that, I'm pretty sure her face might get stuck that way. I'm much less sure if she cares though, so I don't say anything to her about it.

Looking out the window from upstairs had already given me a pretty good idea of where the Prismriver's mansion is located, and once we're out and airborne, I'm pleased to see that my guesses were right. Well, I'm pleased about being right anyway. I would kind of rather have the flight be a bit longer. Giving me such a limited time puts a bit of pressure on me to get Ringo's attention quickly.

It's already been something like ten or fifteen minutes since I came out of the bathroom, and even that has been an annoyingly long time to feel guilt every time I look at Ringo. I just haven't really found a good chance to get Ringo off to the side and talk to her. We've just been busy gathering up and leaving. Now that we have an otherwise boring flight ahead of us though, this should be as good of a chance as any. I just have to actually do it. You know, the hard part.

Luckily, Ringo takes the lead when we all take off, so I can just accelerate a bit and fly next to her. Hopefully the usual difficulty in hearing people talk while flying will give us a little bit of privacy, though if Sumi wants to eavesdrop there isn't really any way to stop her. I guess this is the best chance I'm going to get. We're definitely having a meeting when we get back to camp, and I'm not sitting through one of those feeling all guilty like this.

It doesn't take all that long for Ringo to catch on that I'm intentionally flying much closer to her than normal, even when she slows down just in case I want to go in front of her. "What's up?" She questions after a moment.

Okay, here we go. "I just wanted to say that I'm sorry," I start off with that, but Ringo responds before I can continue.

"Don't be," I'm both surprised by the fact that she cut me off and what she cut me off with.

"W-wait, I haven't even explained myself yet!" At least let me apologize. I'm not going to feel better otherwise!

Ringo chuckles at my reaction, glancing over at me for a moment before facing forward again to make sure we're going the right way. We're almost to the lake already. "Seiran, you already know you have no poker face, right? You wear your heart on your sleeve all the time. When I see you looking all mopey and nervous right after we wake up, it's not hard for me to assume what happened."

"Well then you shouldn't be so okay with it!" How can she be so calm that she can just laugh about this?! Maybe she's just saying she knows but her guess is actually wrong. "I almost shot you," I clarify for her.

"But you didn't," Ringo counters simply.

"Only by sheer luck," I continue. She really doesn't understand the situation, does she? She was asleep at the time after all. "If you hadn't held onto me in your sleep..."

"Then something different might have happened," Ringo finishes for me. "But that isn't what happened. Instead, you and I slept right next to each other and we're still fine."

Why is she being so stubborn about this? It's like she's not understanding the danger she was in and is instead insisting that it was okay that I almost hurt her! How could that possibly be okay?! "You can't just ignore the potential problem because it didn't happen! I was about to start freaking out in my dream, and when I woke up my powers were on! If things were just a little bit different-"

"Seiran," Ringo cuts me off again, still calm in the face of my ranting. "If you're so worried about what might or might not happen, then why did you stop taking your pills?"

"W-well..." To be honest, I've thought through my reasoning a couple of times, but I feel like actually saying any of the conclusions out loud is kind of flimsy and doesn't help my argument. It was just something that I decided to do a couple of times. I'm not sold on continuing to make similar choices, but that doesn't change the fact that I definitely made the decision in the past.

"For the record, I support the decision," Ringo continues when it becomes obvious that I'm not sure what to say. "In my mind, the Lunarian way of 'solving' the problem was a load of crap. They just slapped some pills in your hand that you have to keep taking forever and never thought about fixing any underlying issues or trauma before booting you back into basic training. It's bullshit!"

I'm a little surprised at how heated Ringo starts to sound by the end there. It's really unusual to see her getting angry. "It's still better than shooting people randomly," I point out, a little timidly.

"Which you didn't do earlier," Ringo reminds me again. "That means that you can avoid it, we just have to figure out how to do that. We don't have to bet everything on Lunarian science being as perfect as they like to pretend it is. We don't have to sit here praying that your condition never gets worse, or that the medicine never stops working, or that you never run out on the wrong night, or whatever. We can work on this. Together."

I'm really not sure what to say to that. It almost feels out of character for Ringo to get excited like this, but she's not saying anything unbelievable for her to have at least thought of before. I've had worries about those things too. "You're um... You're acting weird..." Ringo seems to catch my nervousness and deflates slightly.

Ringo pauses for a moment, probably thinking about what to say next instead of continuing to rant. "We have issues," She admits, much more calmly now. "All five of us do, and I'm really hoping that we'll be able to address some of them down here. Think of how many new people and situations we've run into since we lost stealth. Everybody is finding out new things about themselves and all five of us are changing because of that. I really think it's for the better too," I can barely hear Ringo's sigh over the sounds of us flying, but I can still see her do it. "Honestly, six more days just doesn't feel like enough."

I think about just how much has happened so far. It feels like a lot, even if it's been less than a week since Reisen first came to camp. Saying that we've been changing is... Probably accurate. I know that some of the others have already made comments about me being more proactive and outgoing. Even if I still find it a little bit unpleasant, it should be a net benefit that I get better at talking to people. "So... What should I do?"

"It's up to you really. I'm not going to force you into anything," Ringo assures me. "I've said it before, but Command isn't watching. We should be doing what we want. I'm willing to help you with whatever you want to do, so don't give up on any of your options just because you feel like it's a little bit risky," She shows me a wide smile. "I still trust you, you know?"

I think about that as we go past the lake and above the forest. Ringo is being almost irrationally faithful in me. Where did that come from? She doesn't seem to even be accepting the idea that she might get hurt in the process of helping me. That kind of helps my guilt and kind of doesn't. In the short term, I can at least say that I've been honest with her about what happened and she's forgiven me. In the long term, I have a feeling this is going to make me inevitably screwing everything up feel even worse. At least for now, I can accept that Ringo's just being stubborn and a little dumb in her own Ringo way. I guess I'll have to live with that. At least until something bad happens.


In just a little bit more time, the four of us reach at camp. It looks a little bit cleaner than how we had left it yesterday, but I can already assume why that is. Yuzuki had a whole morning to herself here, so even if some of it was spent finding and talking to Hina, she would have had a lot of down time to do whatever she wanted. There isn't too much left out for her to clean up after we moved all of our equipment into the bunker, but that isn't going to stop Yuzuki from being anal about everything she can.

Speaking of which, here she is now.

Yuzuki hurries over to the rest of us, greeting us just as we're touching down. "Welcome back," She says calmly. "I've been here getting things done, so I hope I didn't "

"Oh don't be so passive aggressive about it," Sumi laughs as she claps Yuzuki on the shoulder. "It was a party! We all had fun, and now we're back and ready to get back to work. End of story, no harm done."

Yuzuki gives a skeptical look to the rest of us. "Are you sure?" She asks. "It looks like some harm was done to Chiyo."

"Oh yeah," Sumi remembers as we all look back at Chiyo. The grimace she had from before we took off has only gotten more severe, and she doesn't look so steady on her feet. It's not a pleasant sight. "Hey, come on Chi, let's go to my tent. I'll fix you right up!" Sumi grabs Chiyo's wrist and pulls her along, moving toward the tents.

"We're gonna have a meeting when you get done, so come right back afterward," Ringo calls to the two of them, getting back a thumbs up from Sumi and a groan from Chiyo. With those two gone, Ringo turns back to Yuzuki. "Did we miss anything?"

Yuzuki sighs lightly and closes her eyes. "Yes, actually," She admits, sounding not at all thrilled. I can feel bad news coming already. "She's not nearby right now, but Aya has been flying around camp periodically."

"Ugh," I didn't expect the Aya issue to just go away, but having it come back up definitely doesn't feel good. "What for?"

"Probably just simple info gathering," Ringo guesses. "I kinda had a feeling this would happen. If anything, I'm surprised it took her so long to get started. Maybe she was asking around about us yesterday or something."

Yuzuki nods to Ringo, then continues. "I haven't done anything to tip her off that I've noticed her, but so far all she's been doing is watching and writing down what she observes. I believe she's trying to watch if we have any kind of schedule, as well as what directions we're coming and going from."

"So it's just passive observance for now," Ringo concludes. "We'll want to be careful about what we do and say out in the open, but if we don't do anything fishy for long enough she'll probably give up."

"I think you're understating the problem," Yuzuki argues. "This doesn't just effect us here at camp. She could follow us if we went anywhere, and with how careful she was earlier, I doubt that anyone other than me or maybe Sumi would notice her. That limits how much we can split up."

"Not to mention that she'll see who's coming to camp, which Reisen and Tewi might want to avoid," I point out as well.

"Well, I guess you guys have a point, but I'm not sure how to deal with it," Ringo admits unhappily. "We'd need some way to get her off our backs. I guess we could try just catching her spying and see if she lets up."

"Which could also backfire by getting her even more interested in how we keep noticing her," Yuzuki reasons out. "Or she might just danmaku us."

"Which could work out in our favor if we were stronger or she turned out to be weak, but that doesn't seem likely. That's why I said we don't have a good way to deal with it," Ringo continues. She seems to have thought all this through faster than I have. "I guess we could ask somebody else to distract her or fight her off, but that kind of implicates them as well, and opens us up for some awkward questions..." Ringo trails off in thought for a moment before glancing over to me, obviously looking for my opinion.

[ ] Try not to act suspicious when she's around, but don't do anything about Aya.
[ ] Try catching her in the act. If she can't spy discreetly she might have to give up.
[ ] Ask someone for help (Who?)
[ ] Something else (What?)

The story of the update that just kept growing.
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First option doesn't solve the problem.

The second option will only make her more curious, unless we can confess that we are, or want to be, refugees, but they haven't decided on that yet
The third option is meaningless unless we get someone with more power. Kanako is already involved we made her look like she's on a conspiracy to take over the mountain and WE HAVEN'T EVEN TOLD HER ABOUT THIS YET AND WE CAN'T DO IT UNDER SURVILLANCE.
But I guess that's all we have.

[x] Something else
-[x] Group meeting to decide what to talk with Kanako
--[x] How to explain what Aya saw? Come clean? Make a lie (better than 'I collect guns' please)
--[x] What do we ask her help with? Going home? Staying here? Getting Aya off our backs?
--[x] How do we pay back? More favors? Lunarian technology? Faith? Promises that we won't follow through?

[x] Ask for help
-[x] (Who) Kanako
-[x] (How) By asking for a meeting to report back with our findings when the Tengu aren't watching (we need the Fluffy-eared Aya detector Mark I)

It's time for the bunnies to decide what they really really want.
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[X] Try not to act suspicious when she's around, but don't do anything about Aya.

Would getting Kanako involved be a good idea? I don't think she would connect any dots that would be too bad, but that might just end up owing more favors.
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A Tengu found a group of bunnies with guns, immediately after Kanako forced the elders to release another bunny belonging to the same group.

Only a five year old wouldn't connect the dots.
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Of course, but I meant more along the lines that there wouldn't be anything that would show a relation between the bunnies and the moon or the rover.

At least that I can think of.
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Aya might be able to figure something out there if she really reads between the lines. Our cover story is that we're previously unknown rabbits forced out of hiding by the rover. If she's willing to make some wild assumptions and follow through on investigating them, she might actually piece it together.

And we really don't have any good options here. I have to agree with basically everything >>27311 said: being passive will do nothing, confronting her will only make her more curious, and Kanako is the only one we can ask for help, which also makes her (and us) highly suspicious. And I think because we buried most of our guns, we can't even try to sneak attack and capture Aya.

So as far as I can figure, our only practical option is:

[x] Bunny Brainstorm Session: How to Ask the Gods for Help

which is basically just >>27311's vote all crammed into a single sentence.
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>>27312 Here
Changing my vote to [x] Bunny Brainstorm Session: How to Ask the Gods for Help

After thinking about it, this seems like a much better option. Still, I wonder if Kanako would find this suspicious, or if they could just pass it off as Aya being annoying and persistent.

(Should I delete my old vote post?)
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[x] Bunny Brainstorm Session: How to Ask the Gods for Help

Well, I can't think of any better option, so I'll go with the bandwagon.
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File 148212451484.jpg - (2.53MB, 1200x1694, Sitting around and talking.jpg)
Sitting around and talking
[X] Bunny Brainstorm Session

Even with Ringo looking at me, maybe not expectantly but at least hopefully, I'm not going to just pull a perfect solution out of nowhere. Between Ringo, Yuzuki, and a little bit of myself, we've already done a pretty good job of thinking why every option is full of caveats. Well, we could probably make any of them work with enough effort, but that doesn't mean any of them are actually good. In fact they all kinda suck in my opinion.

Still, Ringo's expecting something from me at least. "I don't think we can take this decision in isolation," This isn't me avoiding the unasked question, I'm just trying to make sure we're thinking things through first. "No matter what we decide to do about this issue, it'll change how we act going forward. Since we were already going to have a meeting about what to do next, shouldn't we wait until then to make sure everything fits together?"

"True," Ringo admits, turning her head toward Sumi's tent even though she won't be able to see anyone. "This affects the other two as well, so we might as well get their opinions on it. Along with their opinions on everything else going on too."


"Goddamn birds," Is Sumi's eloquently stated opinion once she's been brought up to speed on the situation.

All five of us have gathered around the center table for our meeting as usual. Initially, I was a little concerned about how out in the open this is, but Yuzuki assured me that Aya isn't anywhere close to us at the moment. Even if she could somehow still see us from outside of Yuzuki's range, Aya would still be too far away to hear our discussion. Sound just wouldn't carry that far. We're safe to talk openly for now, thankfully. Well, not really thankfully in Sumi's case though.

"Cacaw! Look at me, I think I'm all fancy because I can fly around like any other fucking youkai!" Sumi limply flaps her arms around at her sides ass he rants. "Better not get too close to my dumb village or I'll lock you the fuck up inside of it! Because that's not defeating the purpose or anything!"

"Sumi, calm down," Ringo advises as sternly as she can while stuffing her face with a couple more dango. To be fair, she didn't eat anything for breakfast, unlike the rest of us. Not that she wouldn't be eating now even if she had eaten earlier, but whatever.

"Nah," Sumi decides immediately.

"Then at least shut up," Ringo counters back. "We're going to deal with it, but we're not going to get anything done like this."

"Aya probably didn't have anything to do with you going to jail anyway," Chiyo points out. She's looking a little less sick already, but is still slightly slumped over the table and looks pretty tired. "No need to get racist about it."

"Bah," Sumi sits back down at the table and leans back dramatically in her chair. "Fine, so what are we doing about it?"

"That's partially what the meeting is for," Yuzuki says calmly. She places a large sheet of paper in front of her and takes out a pen. Noticing a couple people looking at her curiously, she explains herself. "We have a lot of things to discuss, so I think that somebody should be keeping notes."

"Hm," Chiyo regards the paper somewhat skeptically. "You're gonna destroy the notes after the meeting though, right?"

"Yes, it's just for organization purposes right now," Yuzuki assures her before leaning down and bringing her pen to the paper. She writes the name 'Aya' in disturbingly neat handwriting on the top left corner of the paper. "The Aya problem is the most immediate issue that we're facing. She's actively attempting to investigate us, so she can be considered an actual threat to us right now, unlike most things which are only possible future threats."

Ringo finishes the dango she was eating and leans forward. She starts tapping the leftover skewer on the table, though she's too far away to actually point at anything on the paper. "We're also in the business of doing recon, so it's kind of scummy for us to get mad about her looking for info. She's just doing her job. Still in our best interest that she turns up with nothing though," She decides. "Yuzuki, Seiran, and I had a short talk already about what we could consider doing, but it didn't go anywhere. If we ignore Aya, that's giving her free reign and doesn't solve the problem. If we confront or at least catch her that'll probably just make her more curious. If we try to get help that makes us and them look suspicious," Yuzuki paraphrases these points on her paper while Ringo speaks them.

"Plus, we don't have a lot of people that we could ask for help," Sumi adds, earning a shake of Ringo's head.

"It's not even that, actually," Ringo disagrees. "There are lots of people that we've met so far, and I don't think we made a bad impression on very many of them. Now whether they'd be willing and able to make a difference is the real question."

I think for a moment about all the people that we've talked with, but figure I should probably say it out loud as well. "Daiyousei, Cirno, Luna, Hina, Kasen, Minoriko, Sanae, Kanako," I notice that Yuzuki has flipped her paper over and is copying the names as I say them. "Yamame, Kagerou, Mokou, Eirin, Tewi, Reisen, Wakasagihime, and the rest of the Grassroots Youkai Network."

"We can cross a few of those out right away," Yuzuki says once she's finished up with all the names. Well, mostly. Since I didn't list out every single member of the Grassroots Youkai Network, Yuzuki didn't put it on the paper, but this will do for now. "I wouldn't rely on a fairy for anything, and Kasen was already suspicious of us as it was," She crosses off the first three names, skips over Hina, then crosses out Kasen as well. "Mokou didn't want much to do with us, and Eirin should be out for obvious reasons," She continues.

"Which also makes it difficult for Reisen or Tewi to help us," I realize. We still owe Tewi a favor, and I doubt that either her or Reisen would like very much to be reported as helping us when we already know that Eirin does get the news delivered to Eientei.

"Although that's not to say that it's impossible for them if we had a plan and could convince them it was a good idea," Ringo reasons. That's a bit optimistic but I guess it's technically possible.

"I'll leave those two there for now then," Yuzuki decides, setting her pen down and looking over the remaining names. "Although I don't think having them here adds much in the way of options."

The rest of us also look over the list. This doesn't look that good honestly. We would need someone here who was willing and able to help. Willing means that they'd have to either owe us something (which nobody here does), or that we need something to give them in exchange (and we're still poor). Able means that they'd either need to be able to have some influence over Aya (which I doubt many people do), or they'd need to be able to fight her off (and I don't know how powerful she is).

After a minute of consideration, Chiyo finally breaks the silence. "Kanako again, right?"

"Unless you guys talked to anybody during your party that would help..." Yuzuki trails off, sounding only a little hopeful. She glances over at Ringo.

"Pretty sure we just made some more casual acquaintances there. Probably," Ringo answers. "Anyway, it's not a bad idea to talk about Kanako regardless. We do need to visit her to report on yesterday, so if she can help us, we can get all this squared away at once."

Yuzuki sighs, flipping her paper back over to the front page. She moves to the right side of the page and writes down Kanako's name again. "Alright, let's talk about what we're going to do when we visit Kanako," She says primly, not sounding very happy about the subject.

"Hm, bare minimum, we tell her who's in the Network and that's it. That's all we technically owe her," Ringo starts thoughtfully. I'm pretty sure she's making this up as she goes along, but it's still kind of impressive to me to hear her do all the reasoning on the fly. "That's a little risky though. Aya knows that something shady is going on with us, and I given that she's a tengu as well, she's not going to miss that Kanako did us a favor by getting Sumi out of their prison. Honestly I'd be shocked if she didn't already know. If we don't say anything and she hears about it later-"

"Then we can expect an angry goddess and/or shrine maiden in camp at some point," Chiyo concludes for her.

"Most likely, yeah," Ringo agress. "Still technically an option though. If we wanted to find somebody to shelter us from Kanako, we could get away from Aya at the same time. Just an question of how well you think we can keep ourselves hidden."

I'm not too sure about that idea. "That sounds a bit complicated to pull off," Maybe Yamame would help us stay underground? I would think that we would be found eventually in most other places.

"Yeah, it's just brainstorming anyway. Might as well keep our options open when we're just talking," Ringo shrugs. "So anyway, let's say that we don't do the bare minimum and instead we talk it out with our friendly neighborhood mountain goddess. What do we say?"

Yuzuki finishes writing down 'Say nothing -> Go into hiding' underneath Kanako's name. "If we're keeping our story straight, then that means we'd have to tell her the same thing we told Aya. Seiran has a gun collection, and Aya happened to find out about it."

"That could work though, right?" Sumi asks. "Isn't mountain boss into tech? We got plenty of samples we could give her if she wanted, so that might be a lie she likes to hear."

"Until she asks where the guns came from," Yuzuki points, rolling her eyes out as if it were an obviously bad idea.

"Outside world stuff shows up in Gensokyo all the time, right? We can just play dumb about the specifics," Sumi brushes off the problem, but I kind of agree more with Yuzuki.

"But we don't have outside world guns. We have Lunarian military guns," I argue.

"Without training, most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Our guns are really out of date. It wouldn't be hard to believe that they were modernish outsider weapons." Well, with Chiyo agreeing with Sumi, it looks like split on this idea.

"So keeping our cover story is technically an option then," Ringo concludes, declining to take a side and instead gesturing toward Yuzuki to write that bit down. "Unless we wanted to think of something better to say. No offense, Seiran," She adds.

"It's fine," I suppress a sigh. I'm not the most proud of the story that I gave in the heat of the moment. Looking back at it though, I still can't think of a better way that I could have talked my way out of that situation. "It might be difficult to switch stories though. If we come up with something believable now, we'd need a reason why we gave Aya a different story earlier."

"Noted," Yuzuki says, adding another option to the list. "So I guess that gives us a few options about what we're actually going to say, but-"

"You're forgetting one," Sumi cuts her off. "We could also tell the truth."

There's a pause as everyone digests what Sumi is actually suggesting. "Err," I feel myself saying without thinking about it.

"Well we have to tell somebody at some point, right!?" Sumi demands, slamming her fist on the table in annoyance at our shocked reaction. "You think there's gonna be somebody out there who's smart enough to get us back to the Moon, but also retarded enough to not connect the dots on why a bunch of rabbits would want to go? Not fuckin' likely."

There's another pause, this one a little bit less shocked and a little bit more thoughtful. I... Hadn't really thought about that actually. It does seem like it'll be hard to get ourselves back to the Moon without having to tell somebody about who we really are. "Could Kanako even get us back home?" I ask.

"Fuck if I know," Sumi slumps back in her seat, calming down quickly. "But she ain't gonna offer if we don't say anything."

"Well, that kind of brings up what I was going to talk about next actually," Yuzuki says hesitantly before writing a new header under the Kanako section of her paper. 'What are we asking for?' it reads once she's done. "If we're going to be striking another deal with Kanako, which I'm not saying I condone but that's where the discussion is, then we need to know what we want her to do. Dealing with Aya is what brought the discussion about, but it's true that we could ask for help with more than just that."

"We don't need much else from her," Chiyo notes. "Either it's just the Aya thing, or we come clean with her and hope she's got a way back to the Moon."

"Or that she can shelter us so we can hide when Eirin comes for us," Ringo adds. "That's still an option."

Ringo seems to be the only one that interested in that option, but I guess she has a point. "Would Kanako stand against Eirin though?" I think out loud. "We don't know the relationship there," Or if there even is a relationship. I'm just assuming that powerful people in Gensokyo all talk at least a little bit, but I could be wrong.

"I guess it depends on what we're doing in exchange," Ringo shrugs. You're just glossing over things again. "Which we don't know until we meet with her. We're the ones asking her for help, she's going to try and get some advantage out of it."

"Then we may as well skip that point for now and talk about the other important point that Ringo brought up," Yuzuki continues. "How are we getting back to the Moon?" She states as she writes the same words much further down on the page. "There's no guarantee that Kanako can do anything, so we should discuss alternatives even if we do decide to come clean."

"We can choose to do nothing, and just find a place to hide until everything blows over. Reisen won't like it, and if we screw it up we're dead, but it's still an option," Ringo repeats for us. Yuzuki writes it down, but nobody else has much to say about it.

"Seiran also found that lead yesterday with that Elly person," Yuzuki says, adding another point to the list. "If we can help her out, then her employer would probably be able to get us into the Dream World. That one seems like a pretty solid lead, we just have to actually figure out how to help Elly and her friend."

There's a bit more quiet consideration, but nobody else seems to have anything to add. "Other than that and asking Kanako, that's all the leads we've got," Ringo summarizes.

"Hey, how about another crazy idea though?" Sumi says, actually sounding a bit unsure of herself. "What if we just turned ourselves in?"

Nobody seems to react to that, we instead look at Sumi, hoping that she'll go on. When it seems like she's not going to, I finally decide to break the silence. "Who are we turning ourselves in to?"

"The shrine maiden," Sumi says with a shrug. "Her name's Reimu right? Yeah, we go to her."

I'm not all that sure about that one. Everything that I've heard about Reimu makes her come across as rather terrifying. Voluntarily going to her and admitting to anything sounds like a very bad idea. "Yeah, that's definitely a crazy idea," I agree nervously.

"I can kinda get what she's thinking though," Ringo says suddenly. "We go to the number one authority figure and tell her what's going on, then she has to deal with it. We're not supposed to be down here, so she has to send us back up, right?"

Chiyo gives a hollow laugh. "Or she'll just exterminate us."

"Don't think so. Worst we'll get is danmaku, and that isn't thaaaaat bad," Sumi shrugs again.

Well, I can't confirm what Reimu would do actually. I've definitely never met her, and I don't know all the rules to when she uses danmaku vs something more damaging either. There are still other problems though. "Then you're opening up a potential conflict between Gensokyo's guardian and the Moon. Command won't like that at all."

"Fuck Command," Sumi answers back immediately. That's a sentiment I've heard tons of times from her before, but this time it seems a bit more bitter and a bit less light hearted. "Besides, we were just talking about telling Kanako. What's the difference? People on Earth are going to have to find out if we're trying to get help."

"Write it down as a last resort," Ringo suggests when it seems like Yuzuki is still a little hesitant. "No reason to leave it off when it is an option. Anybody have anything else?"

The rest of us fall into silence as we think about Ringo's question. I glance down at what Yuzuki's written down. It looks like we already have a lot of different options for a lot of different issues. As for what sounds the best to me...

For Aya
[ ] Try not to act suspicious
[ ] Confront her
[ ] Ask Kanako for help
[ ] Ask somebody else for help (who?)

When meeting Kanako
[ ] Just give a report and nothing else
[ ] Tell the same cover story as with Aya
[ ] Give a new cover story (What?)
[ ] Tell her the full truth

Ask Kanako to
[ ] Do nothing
[ ] Just help dealing with Aya
[ ] Provide shelter
[ ] Help get us to the Moon

About getting back to the Moon
[ ] Focus on the Elly lead
[ ] Plan on asking Kanako
[ ] Find somewhere to hide
[ ] Turn ourselves in to Reimu

So that last vote was more or less me trying to break up an already really long update while also trying to make this update have fewer choices at the end of it. That didn't work out so well. My bad for only giving bad choices, though all of them are still here now so maybe I didn't learn anything at all.

There's a lot to consider here, and this vote is at least a little important, so write-ins to make sure your opinion is expressed properly might be a little better than just voting with the choices presented. Feel free to discuss whatever for a while, since there's probably things here that the rabbits haven't considered or brought up yet.

Also I'm taking a week break for Christmas. The next update will be after that, probably on the 28th.
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[x] >>27083

I came up with this plan back then and I stand by it now. Eirin considered getting Sanae and Kanako involved, so that's a good enough reason to believe they can help us get back to the Moon for me.

If we join forces with Kanako, we don't have to worry about Aya either. We don't have to worry about Aya digging up all our secrets if we dig them up ourselves first. As long as we tell the whole truth to Kanako, all of Aya's snooping around will do is confirm our story for us, making Kanako trust us more.
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Not sure what to vote yet, especially if someone comes up with a proper plan, but I'm definitely leaning towards

[ ] Tell her the full truth
[ ] Provide shelter (Hiding the rabbits in the underground maybe? She has an in with Satori I believe)

[ ] Find somewhere to hide

Because I've been hoping to find a way to get the rabbits to abandon the moon for most of the quest now.
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Screw it, why not.

[x] Bring up the possibility of not going back to the moon.

If we defect, Eirin has no reason to silence us, because we'll have every reason to stay off the loonies' radar already. It's better than the moon, and we've already made a good impression on the neighbours (or most of them anyway), so why not?
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For Aya
[x] Try not to act suspicious

As long as Kanako is informed, it is fine.

When meeting Kanako
[x] Tell her the truth
We confide our big secret with her. And, in return:

Ask Kanako:
[x] Help get us to the Moon
Either by her getting us there or by...

About getting back to the Moon
[x] Focus on the Elly lead

Helping us with Elly.
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[X] Try not to act suspicious
[X] Tell her the full truth
[X] Provide shelter
[X] Plan on asking Kanako

This is a hard decision.
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[X] Try not to act suspicious
[X] Tell her the full truth
[X] Provide shelter
[X] Plan on asking Kanako
[x] Bring up the possibility of not going back to the moon.

Hrm. I think this'll be my vote barring a good write in.
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Hey, thought I would poke at a few things here even though I'm on break. (New Shantae game is pretty good if you like that kind of thing)

>[ ] Provide shelter

One thing about this choice; The original plan that Ringo's bringing back up here is to just wait things out in a (hopefully) safe-from-moonbrain place and figure out how to get back once communication is reestablished with the Moon. Reisen is already planning to take care of the incident herself if the rabbits don't come up with anything, so conceivably whatever method she uses to get back from the Dream World afterward will be open to use to get back to the Moon. Even if it isn't, Command would (probably) do something about their soldiers being stuck.

Going with this does mean leaving Reisen to handle everything on her own again, but it's not exactly like Seiran owes her anything.

That's all fine if that's the plan that you want to go with, but it can be treated as independent of going back to the Moon vs staying in Gensokyo after the incident. Speaking of which...

>[ ] Bring up the possibility of not going back to the moon.

For some of the rabbits present (Seiran included), this is still a bit of a hard sell. The idea of abandoning almost everything that they've ever known is kind of a tall order. Regardless of their opinions of their experiences back on the Moon, we're still talking about them throwing away their entire lives up to this point. Now given enough time to adjust, enjoy what Gensokyo has to offer, and find new things that they care about, some of them may warm to the idea.

At the moment though, it's a perfectly fine write-in, it's just that Seiran won't be the one to bring it up. (no bonus points for guessing who will)

So, I dunno if it's bad form to comment on votes like this but there you go. Please continue to register your opinions as desired.
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Oh it's perfectly fine to bring up stuff that clarifies what people are actually voting for, I might just go and change my vote up thanks to it in fact.
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Here. After the clarifications and time to think about it, I'm changing my vote to

[X] Try not to act suspicious
[X] Tell her the full truth
[x] Help get us to the Moon
[X] Focus on the Elly lead
[x] Bring up the possibility of not going back to the moon.

as per >>27322's vote with the write in as well.
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Hey, I'm back from my break now and am going to start writing again after work tomorrow. We'll see how well that actually goes.

So with the current votes it looks like the plan is to not do anything about Aya right now. Hopefully Kanako will be able to do something about it when she hears the full truth about everything that's going on. Then the votes are kind of split up and inconsistent. It's currently looking like we want to at least try to figure out a way to the Moon, but whether that's through Kanako or Elly isn't decided.

This all works more or less, and you don't technically have to make a call on a plan until after you at least talking to Kanako, so I can work with this vote.

Although if anyone was out there waiting for a write-in or something before voting, this is the last call to make your opinion known.
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[X] Try not to act suspicious
[X] Tell her the full truth
[X] Provide shelter
[X] Plan on asking Kanako
[x] Bring up the possibility of not going back to the moon.
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[X] Try not to act suspicious
[X] Tell her the full truth
[X] Some other stuff
[X] Bring up the possibility of not going back to the moon.

I pause and take a bit of time to consider. Quite a large bit of time actually. So much that I actually start feeling a little worried that I'm causing an awkward pause in the conversation. When I look up though, everyone else looks to be lost in thought too. It's not just me, and the quietness isn't just my fault. This is an important thing to think about, so it's probably better that nobody is trying to make a snap decision.

It makes it a little easier when, after another minute of quiet consideration, Ringo gives up on looking directly at me. Instead she goes back to staring at Yuzuki's option list like the rest of us. Having everything all written down like this does actually help. Maybe we should be keeping better notes at meetings in the future. That's something to think about later though.

There's another couple minutes of silence. During that time, the only sound that happens is my occasional fidgeting in my chair. Ugh, I shouldn't be this uncomfortable but there's all this pressure right now and aaaaaaaaaa...

"Kanako again, right?" Chiyo finally repeats herself. There's a rush of relief as everyone exhales all their built up tension. It looks like it wasn't just me that was struck with bad thoughts due to the mood.

"Yes, it's Kanako again," I admit. My thoughts had been gravitating toward that conclusion too actually. I'm not just going along with whatever somebody else said first. I just wasn't sure if I wanted to be the one making the call. Even if Ringo was prompting me, that doesn't mean that it has to be me, right? Everybody else is entitled to their opinions too.

"It makes some sense, don't it?" Sumi agrees as well, leaning back and relaxing in her chair. "We've got a few different things to worry about, and goddess lady could have an answer to some or all of them if we talk to her,"

"Or none of them," Yuzuki counters, still sitting rigidly in her chair and looking much less happy about the suggested course of action than the rest of us. "We would be making ourselves vulnerable on a gamble with somebody that we can't predict. That doesn't sit well with me."

Ringo leans forward to tap a few spots on Yuzuki's list. I don't think there's anything in particular that she's trying to indicate, she's just keeping her hands busy. "The thing is, all our options are literally on the table," She says, sounding casual and lightly amused in the face of Yuzuki's obvious displeasure. "If you know of something better, you should've added it to the list in the first place. We could've discussed it earlier and then thought it over during that thinking time thing we just had."

Yuzuki's face stiffens slightly. "I don't have anything that isn't already there," She admits tersely. "But what about Seiran's Elly lead? Why are we just throwing that away? We know for sure that we could get a connection to the dream world if we follow that through. We don't have any way of knowing if Kanako can do anything for us at all."

"It's not like the option goes away if we talk to Kanako first," Chiyo points out.

Even as the person who found the Elly thing, I still feel like Yuzuki's grasping at the idea for personal reasons rather than because it's a good plan. It could end up working fine, but we don't know that yet. "Right, we should be able to figure out what we're going to do based off of how Kanako reacts to us. More information is almost always a good thing to have," I try to sound reasonable, since I feel there's more Chiyo could have said to reason with Yuzuki.

"Yes, but think about the position we'll be at by that point. By then, we've completely exposed ourselves to someone that schemes so much that even Eirin didn't want to risk letting her get involved in the situation," Yuzuki continues patiently. "Kanako won't just let us tell her everything and walk away afterward. At that point we either follow her orders or have to deal with a new enemy. And not one that we can just avoid either."

Sumi sighs in annoyance, making sure it's as loud as possible on purpose. "Well fine, if we're not gonna get involved with the only person who has some connection to the fuckers behind my four day long happy-fun-time getaway, the what the fuck are we gonna do to deal with our new voyeur?"

"We have two soldiers here that should be able to keep track of when Aya is watching us," Yuzuki reminds Sumi. Er, I definitely caught the veiled jab in there. Was that really necessary Yuzuki? "Most of us are able to avoid acting out stupidly for another few days, and then we'll slip into the dream world and it won't matter what Aya does anymore."

"Oh okay, we'll just sit here with our dicks in our hands and hope it all works out later then? That ain't a real plan you smug twat!" Oh no oh no, don't stand up Sumi. Why are you guys fighting? Stop.

Yuzuki ignores Sumi's much more direct insult and stays still in her seat. "No, we will be working with Elly and Kurumi to solve their-"

"What, you think scythe lady has any good references on her resume? Cause otherwise I don't know whose ass you're pulling a job for her out of!" I'm squirming in my seat trying to move my chair out of the line of fire as Sumi leans over the table to fight with Yuzuki. "And not only that, we don't know what her old boss is like either. You're still rolling the dice with some random power-bitch's reaction to an alien invasion!"

"Guys," Oh now Ringo's out of her seat too. "Calm. Down," She orders with a surprisingly stern voice. It's pretty rare to hear her try to actually take command, so it does give Sumi and Yuzuki some pause as they remember that the rest of us are here.

"I am calm," Yuzuki finally replies in a completely even tone. She only needed a moment to compose herself, and I'm the only one that can see her wringing her hands so tightly in her lap, so it probably sounds genuine to everyone else.

"Bullshit," Okay, I guess not. Sumi flops back down in her chair and nods her head toward Ringo to keep going. Oh good, I guess she actually is letting it drop. I was pretty worried for a moment there. I don't think I'm the only one either. It looks like Chiyo's doing her best to act like she's not paying attention to what's been happening, instead staring off toward the equipment tent with an uncomfortable look on her face.

"Anyway!" Ringo continues, also sitting back down. "We don't need to go back and forth speculating how everything could go wrong. Yuzuki, I hate to say it, but it looks like you're outvoted here, so-"

"How convenient for you that that happened without you having to vote. Once again," Yuzuki interrupts. "You won't have to pretend that you haven't given up."

There's a tense moment of silence after Yuzuki finishes speaking. I don't know what she's talking about, but Ringo suddenly looks both surprised and a little guilty that Yuzuki brought whatever it is up. Why can't I just be happy that the argument is over? Now I'm worried about whatever Ringo's keeping from me. "Ringo, what's she talking about?"


"Oh, did you not talk to Seiran about it?" Yuzuki sounds genuinely surprised.

"We... Had a talk that kinda sorta got close to getting around to it," Ringo explains in the absolute vaguest way possible. Explains isn't even the right verb for that actually. "Didn't look like she was gonna react well, so I thought maybe I would wait until she's in a better state and less stressed out to ask her."

Yuzuki nods quickly, taking on a neutral, somewhat unimpressed expression. "But you didn't reserve that same courtesy for the rest of us," She notes.

"Ringo, what's going on?" I ask again.

"It's not like a huge deal or anything, don't worry," She assures me, again not answering the question. "I've just been kinda sounding out an idea with the others over the last couple of days. It's kind of a tough question sooo..." Okay, now she's hopefully getting around to it. "Well, it's an option that I didn't bring up here at this meeting anyway, since it's not exactly tied to any of these goals. We could do it either way, as long as you guys wanted to."

"Ringo, what's going on?" One more time. Why isn't Sumi on your case about being indirect? Oh, she's not paying attention. She probably has us all tuned out with her powers right now. Great. Good meeting.

"Ringo asked the rest of us if we would be interested in deserting with her," Chiyo finally joins back into the conversation by answering for Ringo.

Okay, that's finally a straight answer, but still. "What?" I need more information.

"Technically correct, but I think you're kind of putting a negative spin on it there," Ringo admits sheepishly. "I just brought up the idea of maybe just, you know. Not going back after we've got everything figured out down here," I'm trying to think of how to respond to that when she hurries on. "Well think about it. Everybody down here that we've met has been pretty nice, and I think we could pull it off if we gave it a shot."

"Wouldn't that mean abandoning the Moon completely?" There's more to the issue than just what I think, right? "The capital is still trapped in the dream world right now!"

"Reisen's gonna take care of that even if we don't do anything," Ringo reminds me. Right, and I don't really want to leave it all to her. She was already stressed out enough. "It's a separate issue, which is why I didn't bring it up at this meeting. I was just seeing what people thought about it beforehand. I'm not gonna stay down here if all my girls want to go back."

I look over at the other rabbits. Yuzuki and Chiyo are both looking rather unimpressed with Ringo, while Sumi still doesn't seem to be paying attention. "And what did you guys say?"

"Sumi is all for it," Ringo answers. I guess it's fair for her to do so, considering that Sumi has opted out of the conversation. "Doing it would mean that she's not under my command anymore, and would be free to do whatever she wants."

"Yeah that sounds like something that she would jump at," I admit. I know that Sumi is definitely not a fan of our bosses either, so she doesn't have much tying her down. "What about you Chi?"

Chiyo furrows her brow with a complicated look on her face. "Still thinking about it," She decides after a bit of thought. Well, I'm not sure what I expected. Chiyo isn't prone to using a lot of words to explain herself, especially when she isn't sure of something. I could push her for more information, and it might even help her work through her thoughts if I did so, but for now a solid 'maybe' is probably good enough.

That just leaves Yuzuki, who starts answering before I've even asked her the question. "It's not a part of the mission, so I think we should put it aside right now," She says. "The bigger issue I have is that Ringo is obviously already trying to abandon the Moon. She keeps bringing up suggestions toward it, which by the way definitely isn't the proper attitude for a commanding-"

"Oh for FUCK'S SAKE!" Sumi slams her head on the table before immediately jerking back up to a standing position looking angry. "I tune you guys back in for two seconds because I think somebody's talking to me, and you're already pissing me the fuck off! Say it to her face already!" She demands, glaring at Yuzuki and gesturing wildly toward Ringo with one hand. "Call her fat, call her lazy, call her a terrible leader! It doesn't matter, she's a big girl, she can take it! I do it to her all the time and she just laughs it off! Stop fucking sniping at her and just talk to her if you have a problem!"

"I didn't say any of that. Don't put words in my mouth."

"Somebody has to!" Sumi continues ranting. "If they don't get shoved in there, then you're just going to sit there being all passive aggressive and pretending like you're not still being a huge bitch!"

"Okay, that's enough," Wow, Ringo had to use her commander voice two times today. That hasn't happened in a while. "The meeting is over now. I have to get started on a report for Kanako. Everybody just take a bit to cool off and take it easy. We need to not be at each other's throats if we're going to be negotiating with Kanako later."

Despite Ringo adjourning the meeting, Sumi and Yuzuki continue staring at each other for a while. Honestly, the two of them fighting isn't exactly a new thing. With the way their personalities are and how long we've all been together, of course they've had a ton of disagreements in the past. These kinds of things have gradually gotten less and less frequent over time, but with the stress of the situation, I guess I can see how things would come to a head eventually.

I just wish it wasn't so awkward to be around people when they're arguing.

"Dismissed," Ringo stresses, finally getting a response when Yuzuki and Sumi both get up and walk away in opposite directions.


[ ] I'll follow Yuzuki, even if she doesn't appear upset, I might be able to help her feel better about our plan of action
[ ] I'll follow Sumi, she'll probably feel better if she has somebody to vent to.
[ ] Chiyo still looks exhausted. Maybe we should just take a break together
[ ] Ringo might need some help with the report, so I'll stay with her
[ ] I need a break, maybe Ringo will let me leave camp for a little while (specify where to)

I've just now realized that there's going to be a lot of sitting around and talking about serious things in the coming updates. Need to think of ways to break it up so it isn't hard to sit through. Blugh.
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[X] Chiyo still looks exhausted. Maybe we should just take a break together
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[x] Follow Yuzuki

Passive aggressive bullshit destroys groups. At least the rest actually talks about their issues.
Besides she's the only one completely against deserting so she might be feeling alone. Letting her vent with us should help.

As for what to do... I think helping the moon as a final act of loyalty and then deserting is the way to go.

Reisen might make it on her own, as they so confidently stated, but she might also fail. They should be feeling like helping their homeland, right now.
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[X] I'll follow Yuzuki, even if she doesn't appear upset, I might be able to help her feel better about our plan of action

She strikes me as the type who really needs others to approach her to help her emotionally. I have no doubt Yuzuki has pretty similar thoughts to Sumi despite their contrasting personalities, but obviously won't express them.
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[X] I'll follow Yuzuki, even if she doesn't appear upset, I might be able to help her feel better about our plan of action

Better now than in front of Kanako, I guess. Still not feeling too confident in this particular band of idiots and assholes though. Maybe we can run off and crash with the Prismrivers forever?
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[x] I'll follow Yuzuki, even if she doesn't appear upset, I might be able to help her feel better about our plan of action

Yuzuki seems to be more comfortable around Seiran than the others.
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update status: 2300 words in and I'm realizing I still have a bunch to go to get to a decision point or even finish up this conversation. I'm not putting words down very well at this point either. Delaying until tomorrow (actually today because it's 1 am)

Me stats: Annoyed at the above. At least I have the day off so I'll try to finish this up earlier rather than later.
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Take your time, I'd rather have a later update of better quality than a rushed one.
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[X] I'll follow Yuzuki, even if she doesn't appear upset, I might be able to help her feel better about our plan of action

The three of us that are remaining wait until Yuzuki and Sumi are well out of earshot before we say or do anything. Well, technically Sumi would still be able to hear us if she really tried, and Yuzuki would probably be able to read our lips if she wanted to as well. Expectations of privacy here in camp are a little bit weird like that honestly. It's a little unpleasant when you actually think about it. Neither of them are likely going to be in a state of mind to pay attention to us though. Not after storming off like that.

I finally hear Chiyo slumping in her seat and letting out a heavy sigh, which breaks the silence that Ringo and I were stuck in. "I don't need this right now," She mutters out, folding her arms on the table and dropping her head on top of them.

"Agreed," We really need to be working together, not fighting among ourselves. "Well, I don't blame them for getting worked up over something important like this," I admit. "We're taking risks here no matter what we do. Of course they're both going to be passionate about it when we're dealing with keeping everyone safe."

Chiyo responds by poking her head up slightly and giving me an unimpressed look. "My head still hurts and they were being way too loud," Oh, she was talking about something a bit more simple. Whoops. "Do you guys need me to help handle the fallout or can I lie down for a little bit?"

"I dunno. Probably wanna get started on that report for Kanako sooner rather than later, so it's kinda up to you guys if you wanna say something," Ringo says, reaching over the table and picking up Yuzuki's idea page. I don't think she'll need that to write her report, so I hope she's going to tear it up and get rid of it. It was helpful to have, but keeping it around is just incriminating. "Personally I think you can just leave them alone and they'll come around eventually. Like you said Seiran, they're both trying to keep everyone safe, just in their own ways."

Let me think about that for a second. Leaving the two of them to themselves for a little bit would probably work out okay. This argument was only Sumi yelling and Yuzuki pretending to keep calm, so it's hardly the worst that they've ever been at odds with each other. I can even guess what they're both going to be doing right now. They're both going off by themselves to do something that will calm them down and let them work the anger (or whatever Yuzuki's feeling that she says definitely isn't anger) out of their systems. For Sumi it'll be running and Yuzuki it'll be... Organizing something probably. "I think I'll still go talk to Yuzuki anyway," I decide out loud, standing up from my chair.

"Yeah sure. Could you check back in with me when you're done though?" Ringo suggests. "Just so I've got somebody to double check everything on the report. You saw and heard some stuff that I didn't. Honestly Sumi did too buuuut y'know..."

"Alright," I don't have any reason not to follow along with that request. We'll have to meet back up before heading off to the Moriya shrine anyway.

The three of us all stand up and head over to the tents. Chiyo and Sumi both head toward theirs while I move to Yuzuki's. I don't actually know if she went this way after leaving the meeting, given that this is behind my normal seat, but I think this is as good a spot as any to start looking for her. I'm kind of hoping she's not right here though, because I need some more time to think about what I actually want to say. 'Hey you just got yelled at so I kinda wanted to check and make sure that you're not mad and are ready to shut up and go along with what everyone else thinks we should do' doesn't seem like the best start, even if it is kinda what I'm doing here.

While I'm standing there awkwardly, Chiyo wordlessly enters her own tent without a second thought. I immediately hear the soft floomf noise of her collapsing into her pile of pillows and blankets. Man, she has it easy. Well, more so in terms of not having to do anything. It's plain to see that she's still not feeling well. From what I can remember, she was actually holding her booze pretty well last night, but I guess it's really caught up to her now. At least she's past the point of needing to vomit or clutch her head in pain all the time. With a little bit more rest I'm sure she'll be good to go again. I bet she could probably even use her powers somewhat to make it so she feels bad for less subjective time now that she's in a safe place to do so. I make a mental note to check on her later and leave it at that.

When I glance over at Ringo next, she gives me a nod and a small thumbs up before heading into her tent. It's nice that she's trying to encourage me, even though I'm not particularly worried about her back right now. Ringo isn't really a stranger to having to write up reports. That's just a part of her job as our commanding officer. Granted, most of those previous reports back on the Moon could be summed up with 'nothing happened', so this one should end up being a little different in that regard. Actually, that just makes me think of how big the report is going to be whenever we actually do get back to the capital. As if I needed another reason to be glad that I'm not in charge.

Alright, with the other two heading inside to deal with their issues, that just leaves me here to deal with mine. Or really it would be Yuzuki's. The one that I opted into trying to help her with because I'm trying to be a good friend. I don't need to feel bad about it or think that I'm going to bother or annoy her. I'm doing the right thing here. Okay.

"Yuzuki, are you in there?" My call doesn't come out as loudly as it probably should, but that shouldn't matter. If she is in fact inside there, she'll know I'm looking for her regardless of if she can hear me or not. That's my excuse anyway. I'm not just being reluctant to try and talk to somebody when I don't know how they're really feeling or what I should actually say. No sir.

I wait for a minute or so, but there's no response. Okay, that's fine. There's only so many places in camp that she could be at. Well, I'm assuming she's still at camp. I guess the possibility exists that she'd go somewhere else. Most likely Hina's shrine. Actually, she was supposed to meet with Hina today, wasn't she? I wonder how that worked out for her. Maybe I could ask her about that to break the ice or something. Yeah, okay. That might work.

When I check, the equipment tent is pretty much empty. I wonder if it might be a good idea to tear the thing down, just because it's not being used. Might make us look a little less suspicious I guess. Anyway, that just leaves one more location to check in camp before I have to fly somewhere. I'm trying to remain hopeful, but it doesn't hurt to try and remember the exact location of Hina's shrine, does it?

The bunker is closed when I reach it, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's empty. We're technically supposed to keep it closed as much as possible for the purpose of keeping it a secret. I open up the hatch and check inside. Sure enough, the lights are on. Either whoever was in here last (I don't know who that was other than definitely not me) forgot to shut them off, or Yuzuki's down there. Either way, I climb on down.

It's a lot more cramped in here than last time I was inside, but I guess that isn't very surprising. This bunker wasn't exactly very spacious before we moved all of our equipment down here, and doing so only made it worse. This thing wasn't designed for this. In fact it wasn't designed for much other than to be a safe place to hide away the portal so that we could move ourselves and equipment into the area stealthily. You could probably point out that we were supposed to be invisible to youkai at the time, but I guess having another layer of protection wasn't a bad idea. Not that it made much difference when things went wrong, but I understand the thought process behind this place existing at least.

Anyway, right now I'm in the entryway, which should slope down a little bit deeper before the tunnel opens up into the portal room. The crates here are all stacked on the right side of the hallway, which gives juuuust enough room to squeeze through on the left. I head down, but once I've travelled down far enough that things should be opening up, I can barely tell. Yuzuki really packed this place well a couple of days ago, didn't she? Just barely enough space to move through it, but it's definitely not easy. I really have to hope that we don't need to get anything out of here in a hurry. Putting aside that things are probably only organized in a way that makes sense to Yuzuki, most of the equipment is going to be inaccessible without considerable shuffling around of our limited space. This isn't really an ideal arrangement here.

What also doesn't help is that Yuzuki apparently decided that the path through the room shouldn't be in a straight line. There are several sudden, sharp turns to navigate through all these boxes and-

"Hello Seiran," I jump when Yuzuki suddenly greets me as I turn a corner. Okay, I was looking for her but I still wasn't ready for that. She usually waits until she knows we can see each other before talking. "Oh, sorry. I thought you knew I was here already."

The crates here are normally stacked four high, which makes a tower that is pretty much floor to ceiling. Apparently this isn't necessary the whole way through the room though, and now that I'm a few rows deep, the stacks have thinned out a bit. Turning one last corner, I find her. Yuzuki is sitting up on a single crate, holding the clipboard that used to be hanging in the equipment tent. I think she was writing something on it, but I can't see what that is from the way she's got it positioned. Anyway, she said hello to me. "Uh, hey," I respond, not too awkwardly but still recovering a bit from being surprised. "No big deal. Just thought I would check to see how you're doing."

Yuzuki adjusts her posture slightly so she's sitting up completely straight. "I'm doing just fine, thank you," She answers, just a little too primly. "I decided, since the meeting was over, that I would come down here and check a few things. One of the other less delicate members of our unit may have come down here and rifled through things recently, so I wanted to see if anything had been taken out."

"Right," I answer, a little bit unsure. There's kind of a hole in what she's telling me. "Can't you do that without coming down here though?"

Yuzuki's expression freezes for a moment. "Well... Yes, but..." She stops talking, apparently not sure what to say to continue.

Okay, that just makes it really obvious. She wasn't thinking about a convincing lie to tell anyone at all. She just came down here to get away because she was upset about things. When I immediately poked at the obvious problem in her story, she wasn't ready and is now trying to quickly figure out something to say. Boy do I know what that's like. I'll help her out. "So, how was the meeting with Hina?" I ask quickly, trying to shift the focus away from the obvious issue. Let's just get her talking first.

Yuzuki looks a little relieved at the change in subject. "Ah, that actually was rather pleasant," She answers. "It took a little bit of time to find her this morning, but once I did we had a nice talk. She was very thankful for my visits and prayers, and I told her I was happy to help."

"Uh huh," She's not mentioning the actual reason she went to see Hina, which might be a bad sign. I'll ask. "And what about that issue with the message you had to deliver to her?"

Yuzuki stiffens up again at my question. Okay, bad sign. "Like you suggested, I delivered it, along with my own misgivings," She begins with a little bit of hesitation. "Well, I would like to believe she's going to listen to me but... Maybe I'm wrong. Apparently that has been happing a lot lately."

Uh oh, I think she's getting passive aggressive again. "You haven't been-"

"When I express concern about things, people tell me to stop worrying because I'm wrong. When I suggest courses of action, people decide to do something different because I'm wrong. When I offer advice, people ignore it because I'm wrong. When I'm trying to get people to listen to me, not only am I wrong, I am apparently being a 'huge bitch' of some kind," There's a clatter as Yuzuki drops the clipboard on the crate next to her with a loud sigh. "It's," She continues before pausing to think about what she's saying. "I'm just frustrated," She finishes vaguely. Well I could kind of already see that. I'm a little bit anxious about her ranting like this, but I know she's just venting and it's not me specifically that has her upset.

I don't respond immediately. Mostly because I'm not sure what exactly I want to say. While I'm waiting for Yuzuki to continue, I look down at the paper clipped to the board just out of curiosity. That's not the equipment list that was there before. It looks like a piece of graph paper, only some of the lines are much darker than the others. Was she tracing over the lines? That seems a little different than other things that I've seen her doing to calm herself down like reordering a shuffled deck of cards or making sure that all the canned food have their labels facing the same way. Maybe there isn't much left to put in order here so she's just tracing the lines because she knows they're perfectly straight.

"We are soldiers, so it really shouldn't bother me. I know that our job really is to just follow orders," Yuzuki continues when it's clear that I'm not sure what to say. "When it's just the five of us though, I wish that it didn't feel like I was being used like a tool."

Wait, hold on. That's not right. "I've never treated you like a tool," I argue back quickly without thinking.

"You do occasionally, but I know you don't do it on purpose. Nobody ever does it on purpose," Yuzuki shakes her head slowly. "It's still the end result regardless of people's intentions. They listen to me when I'm telling them about their surroundings using my powers, but ignore me whenever I'm giving an opinion they don't like. It's frustrating when it feels like people would rather have some kind of scanner that never talked back rather than me."

"That's not true."

"It's not true of the four of you," Yuzuki agrees quickly. "At least I would like to think that. It's just that when everything seems to be going wrong from my perspective, but nobody else thinks there's a problem, I start to get doubtful about things. What if it's me that's wrong? If I'm wrong then I have to fix it immediately. How do I fix myself so I'm not wrong anymore? When I can't think of the answer to things like that, then I start feeling frustrated."

"You're not wrong just because you have a different opinion than the rest of us," I point out. That's not how opinions are supposed to work.

"And I know that in my head," Yuzuki agrees with me again. "But there's another part of me that needs to see things as either correct or incorrect. Then I can work on fixing the incorrect things and enjoying the correct ones," She explains. "I only feel completely comfortable when everything is correct and proper, so I have to do something to move the situation toward that state. It's just that right now I don't know what that something should be, or even if there is a something."

I kind of expected something a bit more specific when I came down here. Something like her being bothered by the things that Sumi said, or unhappy about working with Kanako. This is turning out to be a bit more of a deep seated issue. "So basically, we've been disagreeing with you a lot lately, and you're not sure if it's because we're mistreating you, or if something is wrong with your opinions and you by extension," I explain, just to make sure I'm getting this right.

"If you wanted to put it simply in one sentence like that, yes," Yuzuki says, picking the clipboard back up and tracing a few more lines on it.

I don't really think that either of those things are true, but pointing that out to her probably won't help. Yuzuki has a different way of seeing things than the rest of us, and I only kind of understand it. It's difficult because, unlike the rest of us, she's always had her powers as far as I know. Having another sense like she does probably affected her a lot, especially in the way that she thinks.

"Honestly, I'm a little bit envious of you Seiran," Yuzuki admits after a short pause. "Everyone listens to you and your suggestions on what to do. Even Ringo. If things were like that with me..." She trails off into another sigh.

It is true that Ringo and the rest of the rabbits seem to listen to me a little better than anyone else, but I don't have any idea how that happened. It's not like I'm in charge or anything. I just say what I think and usually Ringo listens. "So did you want me to say something to Ringo for you? Er, rather, what can I do to help you feel better?"

"I'm not asking you to do anything," Yuzuki quickly shoots me down while still staring down at her paper. "Sumi and I were disagreeing with each other and the argument got a little bit heated. Now we need some time to get over it. There's no reason either of us should be rewarded for that. I'm perfectly fine."

"Right," And that's why she's down here in the bunker, alone, tracing lines of graph paper. "Well I need to meet up with Ringo soon to go over her report anyway. If I was going to hypothetically say something to her on your behalf, what would you want it to be?"

Yuzuki glances up at with an even look. She knows what I'm saying, but I don't think she wants to ask for the help. "I suppose I wouldn't mind it if you asked her to reconsider having us work with Kanako, but that might be a little bit much. It comes down to either following a call that I don't like, or being the cause of the group getting split up even more. Both aren't exactly ideal, but I have to settle for one."

"The first one, right?" I ask, just for clarification.

"Unless you think you can get everyone to give up on the idea, yes," Yuzuki agrees. "But no, I think maybe instead I would just like it if you could explain the situation with my shrine visits to Ringo," She continues on, going back to her paper. "I haven't gotten a chance to tell her about it, and given the Aya situation coming up, it might be a little difficult for me to ask for morning time off to go over to Hina's. Actually, it would also be ideal for me to take all of tomorrow morning up to the afternoon off. Just to make sure that Seija doesn't cause any problems, but I know that that's asking for too much."

Wait, Seija? "I thought you said that Hina listened to your advice."

"I said that I believed that she would," Yuzuki replies, still looking a little bit frustrated. I'm probably touching another sore spot. "She's still planning to meet with Seija regardless, if only to turn her down."

[ ] Yuzuki says she'll be fine, so I'll believe her and drop the issue.
[ ] I'll talk to Ringo about...
- [ ] Making sure Yuzuki can have her morning shrine time
- [ ] Getting Yuzuki half a day off to help Hina deal with Seija
- [ ] Maybe not throwing our lot in with Kanako just yet
- [ ] Something else

Also, since this will also come up, who all do you want to come along when going to Moriya Shrine? The others can be delegated other tasks or just left to make sure camp is secure.

[ ] Ringo
[ ] Yuzuki
[ ] Sumi
[ ] Chiyo

Well I know that most people probably don't mind another day of delay, but I still have to give myself a deadline so I don't just keep putting writing off until later. If I miss my deadline and don't at least get annoyed by it, then there's not much point in it.

Just me tricking myself into doing work. It's been successful for a while but I am definitely slowing down on my updates.
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[x] I'll talk to Ringo about...
- [x] Making sure Yuzuki can have her morning shrine time

Don't see why we shouldn't, or why Ringo would say no.

[x] Ringo
[x] Yuzuki

Ringo is a given, since she's the only one who knows what she's doing. And it's her job.

As for Yuzuki... I can't work out if she'd rather be around to give her input, since she seems to have issues with people not listening to her, or if she's dead set against Kanako and would rather we just get it over with. And I'm kind of hoping that the deal with Kanako will work out well enough to give Yuzuki a better impression of her.

It'll probably backfire, but I'll go with this for now.
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[X] I'll talk to Ringo about...
- [X] Making sure Yuzuki can have her morning shrine time
[X] Ringo

Yuzuki hasn't had the best relationship with Kanako, and Chiyo probably wouldn't be feeling up to the task.
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[X] I'll talk to Ringo about...
- [X] Making sure Yuzuki can have her morning shrine time
[X] Ringo

Poor Yuzuki. Maybe she can become Hina's live-in shrine maiden and maid, forever keeping her house perfectly neat and organized.
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[x] Go with Ringo

[x] Discuss giving her your blessing for a daily church visit and the repercussions on the base's defenses
[x] Give her time off to go meet the troublemaker with Hina

Opressed and stressed bunny needs some love
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[X] I'll talk to Ringo about...
- [X] Getting Yuzuki half a day off to help Hina deal with Seija

[X] Ringo
[X] Sumi

I'm still kind of worried about Hina and want to throw Yuzuki a bone there, while Sumi going with us would be helpful in stopping Aya from easily spying on the meeting. Chiyo can take a break and have the relatively easy job of watching over the camp so it doesn't get ransacked while we're gone.
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[X] I'll talk to Ringo about...
- [X] Making sure Yuzuki can have her morning shrine time
[X] Ringo

"Well I'll be happy to talk to Ringo about your shrine visits at least," I decide. I don't really expect Ringo to turn a request like that down, but if it's something simple like this that can help Yuzuki feel a little better, I'll do it. "You probably don't need my help though, we both know how Ringo is. As long as she understands why you want to do something, she'll let you do it. Sometimes she doesn't even need that much either."

"That's true," Yuzuki admits, returning her focus to the graph paper in front of her. I'm pretty sure she can trace lines like that perfectly without even looking at them, but she's still keeping her eyes down anyway. "I still find it an awkward subject to bring up when I know everyone other than you is going to be quick to tease me about it."

I choose not to point out that I have teased her about it in the past. "They're just joking around really. Nobody really thinks it's a big deal."

"I don't like jokes like that," Yuzuki grumbles out. "It shouldn't be that difficult to believe that I just want to help Hina normally, should it? There doesn't have to be such an inappropriate ulterior motive as they keep pretending there is."

In everyone else's defence, Yuzuki has been just a little bit weirdly obsessed with someone she just met. With how she's been acting, I'm still still calling it a toss up whether there is or isn't some potentially impure thinking going on there. I'm not really in a position to judge though, so I won't say anything. Yuzuki is even more against breaking the rules than I am, and I don't see any reason to annoy her even more than Sumi already did. "No there doesn't have to be," I agree. That doesn't mean that there isn't, just that there doesn't have to be. "I'll talk to Ringo about that stuff soon then. Are you going to stay down here for much longer?"

Yuzuki continues with her paper, and I'm pretty sure she doesn't have many lines left to mark. "Hmm, I will finish up soon. I suppose it would be best to go back up though, while Aya isn't around to see either of us leaving," She answers before glancing up at me. "Why?"

"Sumi is still out running around and Chiyo needs a little bit more rest. It's a good idea to have someone reliable around who can be the lookout," I'm really planning and hoping that nothing happens, and even if it does it's not like Chiyo and Sumi are completely defenceless. It just can't hurt to be sure.

"Ah, so you're leaving for the Moriya shrine soon then? Just you and Ringo?" Yuzuki quickly realizes a couple of the implications of my question. She doesn't seem that upset by them at least.

"That's what I was thinking anyway," I confirm for her while I stand up straight. I had been leaning against one of the larger stacks of crates while we were talking just now, since there isn't a lot of sitting room. Conveniently, things are packed in here well enough that putting my weight against them doesn't cause all these boxes to tip over. "Of course, I'm not the one making the final decision. I just don't think that the other two would add very much to the discussion once we're there, and I kinda figured you weren't that interested in coming along," Although I was a bit more sure about the former than the latter.

"I would be willing, if only so that I could know what was happening instead of having to worry by myself back here," Yuzuki sets down her clipboard as she finishes explaining. Oh, looks like she's traced every line now. She's definitely in a better mood than when I first came down here. I'd like to claim some responsibility for that. Maybe it's like a fifty fifty split? I don't know. "But no, I agree with your reasoning, and I'm willing to trust you and Ringo to handle things. I suppose even in the worst case, this arrangement would mean that only two of us end up captured."

"I'm really hoping it doesn't come to that," Now that she mentions it, I am just a little bit nervous about what's coming up. Yuzuki may or may not have been joking, but it is true that this could backfire on us. "Honestly I'm still trying to come up with a good way to bring the topic up once we get there. There's no way of knowing how Kanako is going to react to having a bombshell dropped on her like this," I admit.

Yuzuki considers that for a moment before standing up herself. She takes the clipboard with her. I'm pretty sure that that's supposed to be hanging up somewhere, but wherever that spot is, it's probably concealed by crates. "If it helps, I believe you'll have plenty of time to think of something," She tells me with a slight smirk.

"Why is that?" We're already in the early afternoon, I'd kind of like to get things started. I have no idea how long negotiations (or lack thereof) will take. I don't really want to be out too late at night. Though given how most of us were out getting drunk last night and nothing bad happened, maybe we have been a bit too paranoid about our policies.

Yuzuki casts a glance up at the ceiling. "Well Ringo's still working on writing that report," Right, she can still tell what's going on up there. "And from what I can tell, it hasn't gotten off to a good start."

Oh, right. I guess I need to go help her with that. Crap.


Ringo was always pretty good at making reports, but was never very good at making them quickly. We had A LOT of downtime back on the Moon. When you couple that with how little actually happened, it was pretty easy for Ringo to explain everything that she needed to report on in the perfect level of detail detail. Now that we're working with a lot of information that needs to be condensed by an unknown degree as soon as possible...

"So I've got the list of everyone who attended, or at least their first names since we didn't get everyone's full names. Is that gonna be good enough? We don't know if Kanako knows everyone by name, maybe we need to add descriptions in too. Youkai types? Probably unnecessary and we've got too many holes in what we actually know to be useful. But then on the other hand more info should be strictly better, right? As long as it doesn't cause too much clutter. Need to figure out all the info before I put it down for real..."

Yes, Ringo has more or less spent most of this time that I was talking to Yuzuki quietly muttering and writing down random bits of information on pieces of paper that she's now spread out around herself on her cot. It's not exactly a pretty sight. I'm actually a little surprised that Yuzuki hadn't found this mess downright offensive actually. She had declined to come help, instead choosing to go check up on Chiyo, and I'm just now seeing there may have been more than one reason for that.

"Everything okay in here?" I ask cautiously before Ringo notices me coming into her tent.

"Hm?" Ringo's concentration breaks and she glances up at me, quickly switching from a thoughtful face to a smile. "Oh yeah, just getting the creative process started," She assures me, though I feel a little bit skeptical. It's just a report, how creative do you have to be? "Unlike reports back to Command, Kanako didn't really give a standard format for this, y'know? She probably wants more than a memo, but I'm not gonna write her a book either. Gotta do things efficiently and thoroughly," Maybe Ringo caught my confusion there, because she definitely went on to answer my question.

"So just like everything else you do?" I ask bluntly. Ringo catches my obvious sarcasm, but only smiles wider at it.

"Yeah, just like that!" She laughs before shuffling a few papers next to her into a slightly (but only slightly) more organized pile. "You wanna help out?" She offers happily.

I really want to say no to that. I really do. This is really just Ringo's job, and she should be more than equipped to do it on her own. I could just give myself a break and wait until she's done. It would be justified.

But do I want to avoid this mess of information and work more than I want to just get it done with? No.

Don't sigh. This is for Ringo's sake. Everyone's sake really.

I really want to sigh, but no. Let's do this.


Say what you want about Ringo being lazy, she's not stupid. Actually, I have to admit that she's probably smarter than I am when she sets her mind to getting something done. Once we sit down and started it really just feels like I'm there so she has somebody to bounce plans off of. She doesn't make me write anything down for her, instead just tasking me with helping her keep her papers straight and keeping her from getting too absorbed in minor details.

We start off the report by expanding on Kanako's understanding of what the Grassroots Youkai Network actually is. She more or less had it right when she told us, but now she has a confirmation of people who have actually went to a meeting. After that we expand to the meeting location (though note that the location isn't static), as well as the frequency of when they happen (every week, although we never did hear whether the next one is going to be moved due to the full moon next week). We also include a brief outline on what kind of information was being exchanged and the general structure of the meeting (we don't mention the drinking, but I think Kanako already knows about that somehow).

The harder part is once we get into the information about the members. We can only make assumptions about what Kanako does or doesn't know about the random collection of youkai that we met there, and whether the information we have is actually relevant or useful. Adding too much makes us look like we're desperately padding, while putting too little makes it look like we're not putting in much effort. There isn't really any way to reach a conclusion, so we end up going somewhere in between the two extremes and hoping it all works out.


"So wait, what was the deal with Suika?" I ask when her name suddenly comes back up. She had just shown up out of nowhere and started handing out alcohol to people. I know I spent a decent amount of my evening around her exactly for that reason, but I'm just now realizing that I don't know anything about her.

"I asked a little about her this morning actually," Ringo continues to idly toss her pen up in the air and catch it. She's not always completely coordinated though, so occasionally she winds up with marks on her blankets or pillow. "Apparently she's one of the great and terrible and much feared oni. You remember hearing about them in the briefing, right?"

"Yeeeeeah," She doesn't really match up with the pictures that they showed us, but the pictures were mostly male oni. At least the horns are explained now. "I vaguely remember her saying something about that," Something about oni's not being able to lie, but I can't really remember why. Ugh, too many gaps in my memory, let's just move on. "So was she a member of the network or not?"

"She's shown up to a couple of meetings, but she isn't a member per se," Ringo explains. Ah, hey! You almost hit me with that throw, keep it under control! "She just loves to party, and sometimes shows up to these ones by chance," She glances over at me while she leans over to pick her pen back up. "And don't try to give me that 'It was a meeting not a party thing'."

"I wasn't going to," The annoyed look I was giving her was from having a pen thrown at me, not from needing to correct her. Anyway, it was definitely a meeting at first, but it definitely evolved (devolved?) into a party soon afterward. I'm not going to argue that point anymore. "So should we include her in the report?"

"Might as well, it's as relevant as anything else when we've got vague requirements."


"Just so you know, Aya is currently flying around the area," Yuzuki suddenly sticks her head into the tent to warn Ringo and I. Well, she did say Aya had been around more than once, but I can't think of anything that we're supposed to actually do about it. We can just wait until she gives up on seeing anything interesting then leave.

"Damn, and we were just getting ready to go too," Ringo snaps her fingers in fake frustration as she looks up from her report. We're getting it done at a good pace now, but we still have a ways to go. "Guess we'll have to wait a bit longer."

"All three of us know that you're not anywhere close to done Ringo," Yuzuki shoots her down immediately.

Ringo turns to me, pouting. "Seeeiiiraaaaan," She whines out. "Yuzuki's cheating and copying my answers for professor Kanako's test!" Wait, what am I supposed to be in this joke, a teacher's aide I guess?

"Oh? Why would I copy answers off of someone who's just guessing at them anyway?" Yuzuki humors her, showing a smug smile.

"Hm, guess you've got a point. Maybe you could help me for a bit instead?" Ringo suggests, patting another spot on her cot.

"Sorry, but no. I think you'll be better off doing the work on your own," Yuzuki refuses the invitation and goes back to a more serious tone. "I'm going to be out here acting innocent and not at all suspicious until Aya gives up. Don't come out unless you're going to do the same."

"Bah, I only came to this school for booze and chicks anyway, know what I'm saying?" Ringo glances over at me and smiles as Yuzuki ducks back out of the tent.

Er, no Ringo, I don't really know what you're saying. Well, I get it but uh... Whatever. Let's get back to work.


"No, yeah, I don't have a problem with it," Ringo answers quickly once I've explained Yuzuki's earlier shrine request to her.

We've gone through a majority of the youkai network's members now, and we're taking a quick break. I wasn't really in favor of it, but Ringo made the executive decision before flopping down across my lap like this, so I figured she wasn't taking no for an answer. Whatever, it is a little nice to just sit here like this, even with the gloom of all the stuff we still have to get done hanging over our heads.

"I figured you wouldn't," I say back. "The only reason I could think to argue against Yuzuki going out in the mornings was if you were really concerned about nobody keeping note of the Aya situation."

Ringo bobs her head back and forth a little bit as she considers what I said. I think she's trying to annoy me with her hair, but since I'm still wearing those pants from Merlin, it doesn't really tickle much. "Actually the morning might be the best kind of timing for that sort of thing anyway. If you remember from the first time she showed up, Aya delivers newspapers in the morning. She probably won't have a lot of time to stop and creep on us while Yuzuki's out."

I hadn't really thought of that actually. "I guess you have a point."

"But anyway, as long as Yuzuki's careful and watches out for herself while she's away from camp, I got no problem with what she does," Ringo continues on, then she perks up suddenly, remembering something. "Which reminds me," She adds, reaching into her pocket and pulling out... Oh right!

"Wait, where did you find that?" I ask, looking at her hand in surprise. She's holding out the electroshock gun that Chiyo gave me before. I had kind of forgotten about it, even though I had been keeping it on me ever since getting it, but now Ringo has it for some reason!

"It was on the floor of the Prismriver's bathroom. I saw it when I was helping Chiyo," Ringo hands the gun to me when I reach for it. "She said it was yours, so I was just waiting for a good chance to give it back to you,"

"Huh..." Well, it's not going to be as easy to hide under the clothes I'm wearing now, but I'll definitely keep it for whenever my clothes dry. "Drunk me proves to be surprisingly cautious for someone who falls asleep in filled bathtubs," I mutter, feeling a little bit embarrassed. I guess it's better than the alternative, given that I don't think Wakasagihime would have appreciated it if I had kept the thing on me when I joined her in the tub.

Ringo just laughs slightly and smiles up at me. I guess it isn't that big of a deal.


We finish up the report with some of the inferences that Yuzuki had told me while at the meeting. The stuff about there likely being another leader backing the group and that they're probably connected to Sekibanki. It feels a little lame when it's just speculation and we can't really name any names, but what we have already should be good enough to satisfy the requirements Kanako gave us anyway.

"Done!" Ringo throws her pen up in the air in a random direction and collapses back onto her pillow.

"I hate to break it to you, but that was probably the easy part," There's still an entire negotiation session we have to get through with Kanako. The report actually took up a decent amount of time, so we're in the mid-afternoon now. "And we don't really have time to relax either."

Ringo groans lightly and sits back up. "Right right," She mutters reluctantly. "So just the two of us then?" I nod in response. I had mentioned the idea to her earlier, and she agreed pretty quickly. It looks like it really is just going to be me and Ringo for this. "So, how do you think we should do this?"

[ ] Act humble. We are literally asking a god for help here.
[ ] Act desperate. This isn't just us, this is the entire Lunar Capital at stake
[ ] Act neutral. Just the facts, let Kanako decide how to react once she knows everything.
[ ] Act cooperative. This is just an extension of our earlier deal. We can do more work, but we need more help.
[ ] Act cautious. We need to be ready to get out if negotiations go sour.
[ ] Something else (Write-in)

This is an update that I thought was going to be much shorter than it was but then whoops.
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[x] Act neutral. Just the facts, let Kanako decide how to react once she knows everything.

Professionals have standards.
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[X] Act neutral. Just the facts, let Kanako decide how to react once she knows everything.

Better to not put too much bias.
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[x] Act cooperative

I'm sure this will be a nice change of pace when compared to Tengu, who like to make everything difficult, Gods, who treat this as a visit to the dentist and power players, who probably refuse to play along
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[x] Act cooperative. This is just an extension of our earlier deal. We can do more work, but we need more help.

Sorry Ringo, you're going to have to be a lot more straightforward than that if you want to flirt with Seiran. She's as pure and innocent as the driven snow.
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[X] Act neutral. Just the facts, let Kanako decide how to react once she knows everything.

I don't like surrendering the initiative like this, but it's probably our best option to avoid either pissing her off or getting in too deep.
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Not finished tonight sadly. Probably going to move my scheduled update days from sunday wednesday to monday thursday. Not that it matters if I can't actually make a deadline.
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[X] Act neutral. Just the facts, let Kanako decide how to react once she knows everything.

"It's a little difficult to make a call on that with what little we know about Kanako," I reason while Ringo gets up from her cot. I know that she's still listening to me, but apparently she's also pretty ready to get going. Writing up our report ended up taking a bit longer than I think either of us would have liked. "I've only met her twice, and both times were pretty strictly business focused meetings where she was in control of the conversation the whole time. We don't know how she's going to react when we drop a bombshell on her like this."

"Well I can agree with that much," Ringo says as she moves over to the corner of her tent. There are a few boxes haphazardly stacked over there, but I don't know exactly what's in them. "But the question wasn't really supposed to be about what Kanako is gonna do. We have no way of knowing that. I'm asking how we should break the news to her. Once we've laid it all out we can figure it what to do from there."

I consider things while Ringo rifles through the contents of whatever box she picks out. I can't actually see what's in there, but it sounds like a lot of stuff, and I have my doubts about it being at all organized. "I guess what I'm saying is that if we can't bet on her reacting any particular way then we shouldn't try to act a particular way. Let's just give her the facts and leave it at that."

"Hm, fair. If it were a less serious thing I would say otherwise, but with this it's probably better to not seem too biased or anything," Ringo finds whatever she's looking for in the box and affixes it to her report. "Anyway, are paper clips considered too high tech here? I tried to just keep the non-incriminating stuff above ground but I had to guess on some stuff."

I just shrug and let Ringo work on her own problem. It's not like I'm any better versed on the origins of various office supplies. I'm a little busy wrestling with the growing feeling of nervousness at what we've got coming up.


Yuzuki manages to get Chiyo up before Ringo and I are ready to go, so the two of them see us off. I'm at least happy to see that Chiyo is more or less feeling better. Yuzuki also assures me that Aya isn't anywhere nearby, so we should hopefully be fine to fly without worrying about being seen. At least for the first part of the trip. After that it mostly just becomes hoping that Aya doesn't see us, or at least that she leaves us alone if she does.

Ringo and I take off and fly the uneventful and short flight up and over to the Moriya shrine without incident or conversation. We've already got something of a vague strategy worked out, so continuing to talk it over doesn't do much for us anymore. Either it'll work out or it won't. Well, no that's probably a bit too binary. Either she'll listen to us and help us, listen to us and not help us, listen to us and capture/attack us, or I'll say something stupid and screw everything up. In any case, I'm pretty sure she'll at least listen to us for a bit, so as long as we stick to the strategy we'll be able to make something or other happen.


Anyway, when we touch down I take a break from being worried about that and switch over to being worried about something that is somehow even more of an immediate problem. Namely, Sanae isn't out here in the courtyard. Both of the other times that we've come by she's been immediately available to help us get an audience with Kanako. I guess I was wrong in my guess last time we were here. Sanae must not sweep up the path every single day. Or at least not all day every day. We are here a bit later in the day than our other visits. She probably cleaned up this morning, and the leaves I'm seeing now are just whatever fell down between now and then.

Regardless, this ends up leaving Ringo and I standing around awkwardly in front of the shrine and wondering how to get the attention of its occupants. I know they're probably in one of the buildings further back, behind the main one, but are we allowed to just go over there and find out? That kinda feels like we're breaking into someone's home, but at the same time, we do have business here. Our briefing never told us anything about proper etiquette when visiting Gensokyo religious institutions. Although even if it had, I probably wouldn't have been able to keep myself awake through the explanation. Kind of a moot point.

With a shrug and a vague gesture, Ringo and I head up the small set of steps to the main shrine building. The same one that we had spent most of our last visit negotiating in. I don't have any other ideas on what to do, and I think Ringo is the same. We're just guessing at what to do.

Ringo slides one of the large doors open and steps in to have a look around, but the look on her face when she comes back out shows that she obviously didn't have any actual results from her quick glance around. "Nothing," She declares simply. "You want to head in and look around for somebody?"

Maybe it's just the nerves talking, but I absolutely do not want to do that thing you just said. "I'm definitely not for the idea of trespassing until somebody catches us. That might start things off on the wrong foot," I say, being completely reasonable. "You could have tried calling out to see if anybody was inside."

"Sure, but that'd only work if they were in the building. Guess I'll give it a shot and then..." Ringo trails off suddenly when she glances around the outside of the shrine building and catches appears to catch sight of something. "Oh hey, there we go," She jumps up and reaches for something, but can't quite reach it because of her height. After a couple tries she instead floats up a dozen or so extra centimeters before grabbing at some kind of cord hanging off of a couple of large metal bells. It looks like the cord would normally be longer, but it's tied up for whatever reason. "Found the doorbell!" She says triumphantly.

Thinking about it, Ringo probably could have just gotten up on this big wooden box thing here, although it probably would have put her up a bit too high. The top of it also isn't flat, it looks like it has a lot of slits in it. Maybe you put paper or something inside? Whatever.

"I don't think that's going to be any more effective than just yelling," Though I will admit that it seems a bit less embarrassing. "Are you sure that's a doorbell?"

Ringo gives the cord a few experimental shakes, not enough to actually ring the bells. "Dunno what else it'd be," She says, thoughtfully staring up above the box. "Who knows, maybe it's hooked up to a system of even more bells further back. You know, a low tech solution. Like what we did with our tents a while back."

"I don't really think that..." Before I can finish bringing up my misgivings, Ringo pulls the chord hard enough to ring the bells. "Well... Fine then."

After a few more loud rings, the two of us wait through a couple minutes of silence. Nothing in particular happens. Well, maybe they're just far away? The are this shrine takes up is rather big. Sanae or Kanako might have to walk quite a way to get from the back to the front.

After a little bit more waiting, Ringo mutters out something like: "Hmph, must not have heard it," and rings the bell a few more times. I'm pretty sure that's just going to annoy them if they did happen to hear it the first time, Ringo.

"You're supposed to donate first," A voice from behind startles me enough to make me jump.

I swing around quickly and find a short blonde girl wearing a simple purple dress and a silly looking wide-brimmed hat staring up at me from the foot of the stairs. She looks slightly amused at how she managed to catch me off guard. I honestly didn't hear her at all.

"Err, donate?" I'm still recovering from the surprise, so my mouth moves before I think about it. "Oh, right," Money. I guess that a shrine like this would need help from its visitors in order to keep going. That's not something that would happen back on the Moon, but I can at least understand it.

Before I can point out that I'm definitely broke, I hear a couple of light clatters from the wooden box that I'm standing next to. I look back at the source of the noise, Ringo, who had apparently dropped some change in. "What?" She asks in response to my confusion, dropping back down so that she's not hovering anymore.

It's not a big deal, and it's not like I was in any state to keep track of it, but I'm still surprised that Ringo was able to donate anything. "I thought you spent all your money yesterday."

Ringo shrugs, turning out one of her pockets. "I had some spare change left over," She explains. "Once you get to small enough numbers you can't really buy any more booze with it,"

"Not even enough to buy booze with? Cheeeeeap," The blonde girl complains, but quickly gives up the act of pretending to be serious about it. Her expression goes back to an easygoing smile. "Hm, oh well. Panhandling for donations isn't my job anyway. And it's still better than some youkai we've had come here before," She jumps up the stairs in two hops before coming to a stop directly in front of Ringo and I. It was only like six steps, but it's still a little impressive given how short she is. This little girl is quite a good jumper. "You guys here for something in particular? Our shrine maiden is out right now."

Oh, I guess we just had bad timing and Sanae isn't here now. I guess it's not a big deal, we only really need Kanako... Wait, 'our shrine maiden'? So this other girl lives here or something then? "We were actually here because we have some business with..." I pause as I try to remember Kanako's last name. We've just been calling her Kanako, but somebody who lives here might care more about us using proper respect. I honestly can't remember the name though. "The goddess here," I settle with that, feeling slightly annoyed at myself already.

"Oh?" The girl looks a bit more interested and puffs her chest out slightly. "And what do you need from her today?" She asks, sounding a little proud for whatever reason.

I'm not sure I'm understanding her reactions honestly. "Well, she gave us a job to do, and we're here now so we can report on how that went."

"Business stuff then," The girl deflates slightly, losing her enthusiasm. She looks at us more closely for a moment before remembering something. "Riiiight, you're those rabbits. Well crap."

"Er, is there a problem?"

"Nah, I just lost a bet. No big deal," She lets out a small puff of annoyance before turning toward the door to the main building. "Anyway, I'll go grab Kanako for you, go ahead inside."


A short while later we're gathered around the same table as a few days ago. We're even in the same seats, although the spot previously taken up by Sanae is now empty. The blonde girl doesn't join us at the table and instead mostly disappears. I say mostly because, as Kanako skims through Ringo's report silently, I occasionally see the girl poke back into the main shrine room, look around at what's happening for a moment, then leave without saying anything. Strange girl. I would be more curious about what was up with her if I wasn't busy worrying over the meeting itself.

Kanako keeps an even expression as she looks over what Ringo and I worked together to write. She's either a very fast reader or there's a lot of stuff in there that she can skip over, because it doesn't take her all that long to work her way from the beginning to the end. Kinda hoping that it's the former, but I can't tell just from watching Kanako read. Once finished, she sets the packet of papers down on the table and looks at Ringo and I with the same calm and collected expression.

"I will say, I am actually pleasantly surprised by this report," Kanako starts. Okay, not bad, not bad. "Not because of the information inside. To be honest, it doesn't contain much of anything that I hadn't already assumed or guessed, although having those things confirmed for me is still useful. What I'm more impressed by is how well the information is prepared and how quickly you got things done."

"Well, we have some experience with doing that kind of stuff," I answer vaguely. Maybe it's not quite the time to bring up the actual truth yet.

"And there also just happened to be a meeting soon after you gave us the request to look for one," Ringo adds. "If you had told us to do it today for example, you would have been waiting for quite a while. We kinda got lucky on that one."

Kanako nods briefly in understanding. "Well in any case, it is refreshing to have someone take work for me seriously. I have many allies, but I don't have many competent people that I can rely on to perform tasks for me outside of Sanae," She explains. That's a bit frank, don't you think? "Still, this was a single exchange of favors. With this report, your obligation to me has ended, and our deal is concluded."

Okay, here it goes. "Actually, there was... Quite a bit more that we wanted to talk to you about," I interject, stopping Kanako just as she's moving to stand up from the table.

Kanako settles back down, glancing at the place in front of her. Sanae isn't here, so there wasn't any tea served. She was probably expecting this to be short enough that it wouldn't matter though. "Very well, what can the Moriya shrine do for you?" She still asks cordially.

I take a deep breath before starting in. "Shortly after our last meeting, we had a chance encounter with the tengu, Aya," Kanako's face shows some recognition, so I guess that she knows the name. "She asked us a lot of questions about what was going on, and our answers weren't enough to satisfy her. She's now investigating more closely into what we're up to. That includes our connection with you."

Kanako shakes her head lightly. "That won't be an issue. The truth of the favors I burned through to get your friend out of jail is relatively harmless. If you ignore her and go about your own business, Shameimaru won't be a problem."

"It's not the truth on your end that's the problem," Ringo assures her. "It's ours."

Well, that's a good enough lead in I suppose. "When Aya came to our camp to investigate us, she happened to come at a time when we were moving some of our equipment. The equipment in question was a crate with standard-issue Lunarian assault rifles," I see a lot of expressions pass over Kanako's face in an instant. There's some surprise, maybe a brief flash of confusion, something worryingly predatory, then cautious. Once her face settles down, I can practically see the gears whirring quickly in her head as she considers the implications of what I just said.

"Lady Yasaka," Ringo continues before Kanako can think of a response. Wait, Yasaka! That was the name. "I am Chief Information Management Officer Ringo of the special Lunar Defense Corps infiltration unit, the Eagle Ravi. This is my subordinate Seiran," Ringo gestures toward me, and I give a short bow, since I can't think of what would be any more appropriate to do in this situation. Ringo's being very official here, and it's honestly a little bit surprising. Maybe she can handle this a little bit better than I can. "Our unit was sent to Gensokyo with orders to capture and purify a section of land for later use by Lunarian Command. Our mission was compromised when we were discovered and attacked by a former Lunarian soldier, and we have since lost both our means of communication with and our means of returning to the Moon.

"From the information we have gathered since then, we have found out that the Lunar capital is currently both hidden away in another world and under siege by invaders. We are currently seeking a way to either return to the capital, or to hide ourselves away safely until the situation resolves itself."

When Ringo finishes, I decide to add in a bit more information, partially to give Ringo a break, but also because I'm not sure if she's going to cover everything. Kanako looks like she isn't going to interrupt, and is instead listening quietly with the same attentive expression as before. "While investigating, we were found by Eirin Yagokoro, who has a vested interest in not letting us tell Command her location. If we don't get back to the Moon or find a place to hide within the next six days, she will find us, and she will kill us," I'm really wishing that we had tea right now.

"Our encounter with Aya forced our hand, but it was already true that we were going to need someone's assistance," Ringo continues for me. I'm still surprised at how good she is at talking so officially for so long. I almost never get to see this side of her anymore. I barely even knew it existed honestly. "Given that you had already worked with us, and that Aya's investigation has possible implications for you as well, we decided it would be best to come clean with you immediately. Our hope is that we will be able to reach some kind of agreement or arrangement that would benefit you, our unit, and our capital all at once."

There's no immediate response, Kanako just takes all of our words in quietly. Her expression hasn't changed all that much, although it might have gotten a bit more severe if I look really closely. She's also now placed her hand on her chin as she considers what she's being told. I notice off to the side that the blonde girl is also listening in, although I'm not sure how long she's been there for.

Finally, Kanako speaks. "I'm going to need a moment to consider this," She states calmly, already standing up from her spot at the table. "I will return shortly."

"Of course," Ringo answers calmly as we watch Kanako step out of the room.

I'm uh... Not sure how that went honestly. Kanako has a pretty good poker face. At the very least, she didn't immediately attack or try to capture us, and I didn't screw any of our explanation up. That's the worst cases out of the way. Probably.

[ ] Wait
[ ] Talk strategy with Ringo before Kanako gets back (Write-in here for anything specific)
[ ] That blonde girl is still around, right? Maybe she would be helpful to us...?
[ ] Leave now before Kanako gets back
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[x] That blonde girl is still around, right? Maybe she would be helpful to us...?
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[X] That blonde girl is still around, right? Maybe she would be helpful to us...?
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[x] That blonde girl...

Suwako is the type to let us know if we need to bail, if only to spite Kanako.

And I'd say the meeting went as exoected: "Hi, we were send to kill you all, please help us to return to our home so we can try again"
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[x] Wait

Gotta keep up our own poker faces.


To be fair, the rabbits weren't ordered to purify all of Gensoukyou. They've mentioned that several times now.
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[X] Wait

I wonder how she'll take the news.
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would've made nice negotiations
[X] That blonde girl is still around, right? Maybe she would be helpful to us...?

With Kanako out of the room for an unspecified amount of time, what I really want to do is take a moment to calm down. While her reactions had been rather muted, I don't think it's a stretch to say that we surprised Kanako with all of what we told her. It was at least enough of a shock that she needed to step away and compose herself for a bit. I guess that could be good or bad, and we won't really know which one until she gets back.

Anyway, like I said, what I really want to do here is calm down. Slump over, sigh, maybe thank Ringo for being appropriately serious, that kind of stuff. I can't really do any of that though, because we're still being watched at the moment. I should at least try to keep up the appearance of somebody trying to keep up the appearance of somebody that isn't really nervous.

The blonde girl from before elected to not join Kanako in leaving completely, and is instead leaned against one of the doorways leading deeper into the shrine, staring at us blankly. Well, maybe not blankly. She's not giving us the same lightly amused but mostly easygoing expression she had before, but she doesn't seem all that troubled by all of the things she heard from us either. Her face is just a little bit more serious, and maybe a little bit more interested in us than she was before. I guess that at least makes her better off than Kanako. That is, if I'm reading things correctly anyway.

I stare back at her. I'm not really sure how else I should react. We don't even know who this girl is! Kanako didn't say anything about or to her when they both came back initially, and didn't seem to mind the girl poking in and out during our conversation either. When you combine that with what the girl herself said when we first met her, it's a pretty safe bet that she lives or is affiliated with this place in some way. With that being the case, I should probably avoid being rude to her. Not that I make it a plan to be rude to anyone, but it might be slightly helpful to be nice to this particular girl.

I break our (totally unintended) staring contest by reaching up and giving her a wave with my hand. I'm trying not to look very awkward here, but I'm not so sure that I'm pulling it off right. Hey, in my defense, I'm still nervous about the rest of the situation. That's reasonable right? At least I'm putting in an effort to be friendly.

The small girl smirks at me in response, then casually strides across the room, making a direct path toward Ringo and I. Well sheesh, if you're so willing to act like you own the place, why did it take you so long? What were you worried about? "So," She starts before she's even finished sitting down at the previously unoccupied spot at the table. "You guys sure aren't making this easy," She declares, sticking her legs under the table then leaning back with a relaxed posture.

I'm pretty sure I don't like the sound of that. Well, this is a difficult situation for us too, but we were hoping things would get easier by getting help, not harder for everyone involved. "What do you mean?" I ask, keeping even.

"Kanako," The girl immediately responds, tilting her head slightly toward the door Kanako had left through. "I've been trying to slow her down with the whole shady deals and secret plotting stuff for a while now, then you guys show up and plop something like this right down in her lap. I guess we're done taking it easy for a while."

That's... Interesting. Mostly because of the way the girl was talking. It made it sound like she had more ability to influence Kanako than what I would expect. Why is the goddess here listening to a little girl about what to do? Who actually is this? "Err, well I'm sorry miss..."

"Suwako," The girl answers my question before I have to ask it. Nice. "And if I were you, I'd save the sorries and see how much you're still feeling like giving them out later," Suwako smirks at us.

Ringo and I share an awkward glance. That kinda makes it sound like we made the wrong choice coming here. No stop, I don't need to get more nervous! "So she's gonna be that tough, huh?" Ringo asks awkwardly.

"Well maybe, maybe not," Even though I'm sure she can see our concerns growing, Suwako remains pretty laid back about things. "I don't know everything Kanako'll try and push you into, but I have some idea what I'd do if I were her. Even if it ends up not being too tough on you, your bosses probably aren't gonna like it."

So Kanako has some kind of business with the capital that we can't do ourselves, and Suwako knows about it. There's more than one surprising part of that idea, but I don't think Suwako's lying or just trying to mess with us. "Command's already not going to like it that we're asking for help," Ringo laughs, slipping back into her more normal tone. Either Suwako's attitude is disarming her or she's just acting like that's what's happening. Either one works for me. "What's one more offense on the heap?"

"Point, but this is a bit of an older issue. Some ancient feud that nobody would want to deal with when they were already under attack," Suwako responds as if she's relatively uninterested in the whole thing, but she still bothered to bring it up. "But then, you'd be hard pressed to find any powerful people down here that don't have some kind of bad blood with the Moonies. If you looked at your options and decided on Kanako, I'm not gonna tell you it's a bad choice."

"But you're not saying it's the best choice either," Ringo points out.

"Caught that one, did you?" Suwako giggles. I think it was pretty obvious honestly. "Well it doesn't matter much what I think. This is business, so it's between you two and her. My opinion? Now that she knows that something's up, even if you want to walk away and she lets you, she's gonna get her nose in the situation. You can't keep her out of it now."

I give Ringo another uncomfortable glance. That doesn't sound good. We don't even know if she's willing to work with us yet, but I'm already feeling pressured away from backing out. I guess we were asking for this by coming here, but it does make things feel a little bit more complicated. Now that we've revealed ourselves to someone, we can't just go back to being a secret anymore.

"Well that's just Kanako. It's what she does," Suwako still doesn't sound worried about anything. I guess she doesn't have to be, even if I am. "You stick her in a situation, and she'll find a way to make it work for herself, Sanae, and me. Not necessarily in that order either. You guys are on the other side of the negotiating table, so she's gonna push you as hard as she thinks you'll go and then some."

"But then she must expect us to push back," Ringo reasons.

"Yup, and that's business," Suwako nods in agreement, folding her arms across her chest. "Not my scene, but then that's what I keep Kanako around for," She giggles again. The way she talks seems surprisingly mature, if a little bit too casual, but the giggling kind of ruins it.

A few moments later, I hear the sound of footsteps coming into the main shrine room. All three of us look up at the doorway to see Kanako returning, still keeping her purposely neutral face. "Suwako," She says, regarding the small girl evenly. "I don't believe I asked you to take part in negotiations for my sake. That's not necessary," Well that's a really roundabout way of saying 'go away' if I've ever heard one.

"No, no you didn't," Suwako continues to take things in stride. "If anything I asked you to do it for me. I could have taken them and talked to them myself. Heck, maybe then that one," She pushes her arm out and points toward me, though I mostly just see her overly large sleeve instead of a finger. "Wouldn't look like she's gonna freak out and start panicking soon."

I don't look like that!... Probably. Okay, I'm nervous, fine. I've said it enough times already. I really need to work on keeping my face from betraying my feelings all the time.

"Regardless, I can handle this without your assistance," Kanako insists, walking over to the table and looking down on Suwako. The massive height difference would be intimidating if it were me, but Suwako seems used to it.

"Hmmmmmm~" Suwako tilts her head so far that I'm not even sure how her hat stays on her head. "Fine. I'll be out at the lake. Tell Sanae to come get me at dinner if she comes back by then," She decides, springing up from her seat and walking toward the far door. Once she reaches it, she turns back and calls something else to Kanako. "Oh yeah, and I know what you're going to try and get out of this, don't act like it's a big secret!"

Kanako flinches slightly and forces a grimace off of her face, but otherwise doesn't react. She instead sits back down in her old seat. I guess the discussion is starting back up.

"Now then, there were a few clarifying questions that I wanted answers to before beginning a negotiation at length," Kanako launches into things, seeming to compose herself as she starts talking. I guess Suwako threw her off slightly, but now she's getting down to business. "You said that your mission was to purify an area of Gensokyo for some future purpose. I need more information about that mission. More specifically, how much area, for what purpose, what was the timeframe involved, and how did purification work?"

"Our mission was poorly defined to us as well, if I'm being honest. We were merely given orders, not specifics," Ringo also gets back into her serious mode. If she's so good at switching between attitudes, how come she's always so laid back when we're with the unit? "We were told that we were going to be clearing enough area for a vacation home of unspecified size," I can see Kanako raising her eyebrow and feel a little bit embarrassed, but Ringo continues whether she notices or not. "We began during late summer, though we don't know the actual date. I don't even know what date it is right now honestly. That's an Earth calendar thing. As for how it all works, we don't really know that either. The drone took care of everything, we just watched it."

"Ah yes, the drone," Kanako leans forward slightly over the table. "That was my next question. I am currently in possession of your drone, though I previously did not know it's owner. I was going to send it away for a more in-depth investigation by top minds, however I would be interested in hearing what you know of it first."

"It is a Lunarian mechanical purification spider probe," Ringo quickly rattles off the full name that we never really use. "None of us rabbits down here are well versed in the technical details to go much beyond the basics. It was controlled remotely by Command. It takes in impurities from the environment and removes them. It also removed some kind of impurity from the five of us rabbits, which allowed us to be invisible to impure Earth youkai."

"Interesting," Kanako considers the possibilities for a moment. I'm really hoping that she doesn't draw the conclusion that we used our invisibility to spy on her. We did a little bit, but I don't think it was an unreasonable amount. Heck we were here so little that we had never even seen Suwako before. It's not like we were being creepy or anything! "So then how were you discovered if you were invisible?"

"Reisen found us somehow," I answer, feeling like I need to move away from the implications I was just thinking of. I hope she knows who Reisen is. "I don't know how exactly, she just showed up five days ago, damaged the drone, and took our portal back to the capital. She was in there for hours, then left just as suddenly as she showed up. The next time we looked at it, the portal didn't work anymore and we couldn't contact Command."

"But you mentioned some of the circumstances around what your home is currently facing," Kanako says, the question she's implying is obvious.

"We've been able to talk to Reisen since then," I explain further. "She was sworn to secrecy on a lot of the details, but still told us that the capital is hidden away in the Dream World and under attack by... Something," I finish lamely. We don't actually know all that much.

"I see," Kanako pauses for a bit to take everything in. After an uncomfortable minute (maybe it just feels that long) of silence, she continues. "That isn't quite the level of detail that I had hoped, however I suppose I can only expect so much information to be handed down through your chain of command. You are merely soldiers tasked with the field work."

"As much as we may or may not like it," Ringo jokes, letting her less serious nature show a little bit.

"And I should hope that you do not," Kanako's voice grows much less even and businesslike. Oh no... "Purification may indeed be seen as a positive thing where you come from, but here it is equivalent to killing the land and its people. That you were complicit in a plan to purify any amount of Gensokyo can be seen as nothing less than a direct attack against the Earth itself. If I were more direct like some of my competition, I would have punished you for your crimes by force the instant you revealed yourself," Oh no oh no oh no. Don't kill us. Should we run now? We might get a head start if we go before she attacks. How far are we from the nearest exit? No, not that way, that would only take us deeper into the building and we wouldn't know where to go. Maybe if we...

"But...?" I feel Ringo's hand grabbing mine under the table as she talks. Ah... Was I panicking too visibly? Damn it.

"But I am not as simple minded as that," Kanako finishes, and I feel myself slump in relief, even though I know I really shouldn't. Ringo keeps hold of my hand, but I don't really mind that right now. "As you already alluded to, there should be some kind of deal that allows all parties involved to gain something. We merely need to negotiate that deal. So let's begin. I am capable of assisting you in the ways that you requested, however I have several conditions for doing so."

Ugh, if she already had conditions figured out, why go through the intimidation thing? I was scared. "Let's hear them," Ringo says calmly.

Kanako nods before launching into a clearly prepared request. "First, before or during the resolution of your capital's situation, I will be given an audience with an authority figure of your government. There is a long standing issue that I need to work through with them, and you don't need to be involved in that any more than setting up the meeting."

This must be the bad blood situation that Suwako mentioned. It sounds like she doesn't want to go into detail, and I'm not sure if pressing her on it would be a good idea.

"Secondly," Kanako continues. "Up to and during your return to your capital, you will follow my orders and cooperate with me. I have tasks that you will see to, both for my convenience and to aid your eventual trip."

So we're basically going to be grunts for Kanako instead of Command. It's probably not that big of a change for us honestly, although the specifics will obviously be different. I don't think Yuzuki will be happy about it though.

"Third, regardless of whether you back to the Moon directly or through the Dream World, Sanae will accompany you. She will act as a direct agent of myself during that time, and orders coming through her can be considered orders from me."

Okay, so I guess that Kanako wants to keep us directly on a leash so we don't try to bail on her once we've gotten our way back, but doesn't want to come along herself. I kinda wonder if Sanae would agree with this, but I don't know her well enough to make that call.

"Lastly, your drone, portal, and any excess non-personal lunarian equipment will remain here with me and my associates for study," Kanako says, just from her tone, I believe that's the last of her conditions.

Ouch, I figured the drone was a lost cause, but the portal and all of our equipment? I don't personally care about any of that stuff, but Command is going to pitch a fit if we agree to that.

"And in exchange," Ringo continues where Kanako left off, seeming to take the list of terms without flinching. I can't pretend to do the same. I'm honestly feeling a little bit apprehensive about things. "You will assist us in either providing us with a way to return to the capital, or shelter to keep us safe when we don't return."

"If those are your terms and you agree to mine, then yes. That is the deal as it stands. The specifics of how we accomplish that will need to be worked out, but I already have at least one plan for how we could go about getting you to the Moon," Kanako sits back, folding her arms proudly over her chest. "What do you say?"

Ringo turns and gives me a questioning look. Well, Suwako did say that Kanako would try to push us pretty hard, and I'm definitely feeling it here. Maybe we could give a little push back and still accept the deal. If we even want to accept it at all.

[ ] Accept the deal as is
[ ] Accept the deal, but try to negotiate one of the terms away
- [ ] Don't get Kanako an audience with Command
- [ ] Don't get stuck following all of Kanako's orders
- [ ] Don't bring Sanae along
- [ ] Don't leave Lunarian technology behind
- [ ] The drone
- [ ] The portal
- [ ] The other equipment
[ ] Don't accept the deal

Some things are more or less negotiable than others.
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Bit of a formatting error there that I'm not deleting the post just to fix
[ ] The drone
[ ] The portal
[ ] The other equipment
are supposed to be (sub)sub options of
[ ] Don't leave Lunarian technology behind
so that you can pick and choose just in case you want to fight to keep anything in particular.
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[X] Accept the deal as is

I think the deal is not bad considering other options they have.
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[X] Accept the deal, but try to negotiate one of the terms away
- [X] Don't leave Lunarian technology behind
- [X] The other equipment

I can understand losing control of the two key pieces of kit which were needed for the invasion, but really, the other tech is basically the rabbits' property until they can return to the Moon, and confiscating it is unnecessary to ensure their compliance or protect against them going against their word.

That, and with Aya being so snoopy about the camp it may not be too good an idea to suddenly have all these suspicious devices changing hands all of a sudden.
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[X] Accept the deal, but try to negotiate one of the terms away
- [X] Don't leave Lunarian technology behind
- [X] The other equipment

Everything else is ultimately acceptable, but losing all our gear is not. Also, >>27360
has a point, that would only make Aya even more suspicious and complicate things for everyone.
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[x] Accept the deal, but try to negotiate one of the terms away
- [x] Don't get Kanako an audience with Command
- [x] Don't leave Lunarian technology behind

We have to negotiate the audience with Command out because we can not guarantee it will happen. Command commands us, not the other way around. The best we can do is ask Command to talk to Kanako, but if they refuse to talk to her there is nothing we can do to force them to meet with her. We are just grunts and have no actual power within the Lunarian chain of command.

We have to try to keep our stuff because, once Command finds out we gave all our stuff to an Earthling, they will probably court martial us and have us executed for treason. Since the entire point of this negotiation is to make sure we DON'T die, giving all of our stuff away seems counter productive. Kanako can have some of our stuff, maybe even most of our stuff, but she can't have all of our stuff. I say we offer her one third of our stuff and offer to show her how that third works, offer half of our stuff and show her how the dangerous stuff works, or offer her two thirds of our stuff and let her figure out how it all works herself (and tell her that if she uses some of our stuff wrong, it could literally blow up in her face. A lot of our stuff is weaponry after all.)

[x] New offer:
-[x] We will ask Command to talk to you, but no guarantees
-[x] 1/3 our stuff and we show you how it works, or
-[x] 1/2 our stuff and we show you how not to kill yourself with the dangerous parts, or
-[x] 2/3 our stuff and you have to figure out how it all works yourself (even the stuff that may or may not explode)
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[X] Accept the deal, but try to negotiate one of the terms away
- [X] Don't leave Lunarian technology behind
- - [X] The other equipment
[X] But also: question why Kanako wants to speak with Command

I'm really curious now. Kanako is not the first person to make this request; Tewi asked the exact same thing when we first met her. What is this old feud that Suwako referred to when we spoke with her? I mean nobody likes the Lunarians, sure, and I was willing to write Tewi's reasons off as Eientei related, but this is just weird now.
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IIRC in canon the Lunarians may have secretly helped the invading gods, like Kanako, defeat the native gods like Suwako.
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[X] Accept the deal, but try to negotiate one of the terms away
- [X] Don't leave Lunarian technology behind
- [X] The other equipment

>>27362 Makes some good points. We can't guarantee the audience, but I think Kanako knows that already. So that would probably be fine with a caveat (we'll do what we can to deliver the message, but it's ultimately up to command if they want to talk or not) instead of completely removing it.

As for the gear...
The drone is a lost cause, and we can't exactly just pick up and move the portal as far as I know so those can be made excuses for, but the rest. We can move boxes around well enough and command would want us to leave as little as possible behind.
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Source? That sounds really interesting
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[x] Accept the deal, but try to negotiate one of the terms away
-[x] Don't leave Lunarian technology behind
-[x]The drone it is broken, it doesn't really matter.
-[x] The portal
-[x] The other equipment
-[x] "This is non negotiable. We won't return to the moon just to be sent into a firing squad immediately after our report. If you disagree with this, then you might as well start killing us now"

Acting as grunts is the same as usual, obeying Sanae's orders is something we won't really do all that strictly and an audience to command is something that will do Gensokyo good.
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Hello to your new boss
[X] Accept the deal, but try to negotiate one of the terms away
- [X] Don't leave Lunarian technology behind (the other equipment)

Half of the points that Kanako's proposing here don't honestly sound all that bad. Following her orders and doing things for her shouldn't be much different than following orders from Command. Heck, she might even end up being more reasonable than they are. Similarly, Sanae also being able to to tell us what to do shouldn't be too bad either. She didn't strike me as particularly overbearing or anything, so I'm sure we'll be able to get along with her as long as we try. Those things are fine, it's the other two points that are making me feel a little bit apprehensive.

"The thing about meeting with somebody important in the capital is that we can't really guarantee it," In my brain I know that I don't need to be so hesitant to bring up the problems I'm seeing with this deal. My brain isn't helping my voice in return all that much, but that's just how I am. I guess I'm just way more used to taking orders than negotiating over them. "Command tells us what to do, not the other way around."

"Of course," Kanako quickly agrees. "Your own ability to secure an audience is limited, I understand that. You may have noticed from my phrasing that your attempt to do so would be before or during securing the freedom of your capital. That was deliberate. It is unfortunately a bit opportunistic, however I believe that it makes sense for me to taking advantage a literal captive audience, as it were."

Yeah, that's definitely opportunistic, but at the same time, I don't know if I mind it that much. Will it really hurt Command that much to deal with Kanako? She's been pretty straight with us so far at least. "Well I guess we could see what we could do," I respond. As long as she's not taking at as a guarantee, I guess it's fine.

"And that is all I would be asking of you," Kanako agrees. "I believe that Sanae and I can take care of the negotiations. I simply need you to put me in a position to do so."

Well I can hope that it works out that nicely anyway. We don't have any idea of the situation in the Dream World though, maybe there won't be any way to ask for an audience until everything's already settled. We can't know until we get there. "Okay," I let the topic drop and move on to the next point. "Well then there's the other thing I'm not sure on..."

"The equipment, right?" Ringo guesses quickly. I nod to her in response, and she takes that as a cue to continue for me. She turns back to Kanako and starts explaining. "That was my issue as well. While our stuff may be pretty outdated compared to equipment back home, it's still military property. It's not really ours to give away, and I'd really like to avoid the consequences for doing so."

"But only the equipment?" Kanako questions evenly. "What about your drone, and the portal that you used to come here? Aren't they Lunarian military property as well?"

"Yeah, but I'm trying to think in terms of acceptable losses for Command here," Ringo continues her explanation. "There's not a whole lot to the portal to be honest. It's got some mechanical stuff on the base I think, but it's mostly just a frame for whatever magic they did to make it connect to the Dream World. In the case that we would have needed to retreat back through it, the thing would get left behind. Command probably has some way to destroy it remotely, so I doubt they'll take losing it as a big deal. Just uh, know that the thing might end up exploding randomly at some point," She finishes with a couple of light laughs. Actually, now that she mentions it, we weren't really told a complete exit strategy for after our mission. Probably because our mission wasn't explained honestly to us.

"Noted," Kanako doesn't look that happy about the idea, but she still accepts it. I have a feeling the portal may have become less important of a priority in her mind. Ringo's just being honest though.

"As for the drone," Ringo continues. "It's more or less true to say that it was destroyed and the parts were captured by people here on Earth before we could secure them. I think Command had to have known that that might happen, so they should be able to take the loss on that one too."

"But I fail to see how that makes it any different from the rest of your equipment," Kanako points out.

"Well if we show back up completely empty handed I think they'll just ask us why we bothered coming back at all," That's a little extreme, isn't it Ringo? There'll probably be plenty of people who are glad that we're back. Maybe not me specifically, but some members of our unit have friends in the capital, right?

"You would be coming back to assist in freeing them from whoever is attacking your capital, of course," Kanako answers as if it was obvious.

"Right, so if we pull that off they'll either thank us or court martial us. I'd like to avoid giving them any reason to do the latter," I still feel like Ringo's jumping a little far here. I guess it's possible that we'd get in that much trouble, but I really don't want to think about it. Let's just not get into a situation like that.

Kanako doesn't seem completely satisfied with Ringo's explanation, but doesn't say anything in response immediately. Maybe I can add a little bit here. At first I think that maybe I should point out that a lot of the equipment we have is dangerous and Kanako could hurt herself if she doesn't know what she's doing. On further consideration of that though, I can't think of a way to say it without feeling like I might be insulting her intelligence. "Aya's also watching us a lot now, so it might be difficult for us to hand everything over without her noticing," I decide to just play it safe for now, and bring up another concern.

"I have some ideas for how to deal with Shameimaru as well, but that discussion can wait for the moment," Kanako dismisses the problem, but still takes a moment to think things over afterward. "Very well," She finally decides. "I'm willing to remove the condition that you supply me with your excess equipment. Although I do question how you plan to transport it all back to the Moon in the future."

Urgh, actually I don't think we've thought about that. There's clearly going to be some logistical issues here that we can't figure out immediately. "Doesn't that depend on how we're getting back?" I ask. No matter what the method we use, there's going to have to be some way for Sanae and Reisen to get back, right? So we'll probably be able to transport our equipment in the same way, right?

"Indeed. And as I said previously, I already have a couple of ideas for different courses of action," Kanako assures us again. "If you're satisfied with the terms now and agree with them, then we can begin discussing a plan going forward."

Ringo glances at me again, but seems a bit less questioning now. It's just a quick check to confirm that I don't have anything else to bring up, and I don't. I nod to her, and she immediately breaks into a smile while turning back to Kanako.

"Looks like we're good to go now," She says happily. "Looking forward to working with you!" She presents her hand and Kanako takes it, giving it a firm shake without missing a beat.

"Likewise," Once she's finished with Ringo, Kanako offers me a handshake as well. Wow she has a strong grip. I have to admit, I feel pretty relieved now that we have somebody else working to solve this problem with us. Not even just somebody, but a goddess. One with power and connections too! Maybe we'll actually pull this off!

"So then," Ringo says casually once Kanako releases my hand. "What have you got for us?"

"Ideas," Kanako's answer is a bit vague, but she quickly launches into more explanation as to why. "Ideas that still need looking into unfortunately. You did spring this on me out of the blue, so I need to confirm specifics with my contacts to know exactly what I'm going to be able to deliver," I guess that's reasonable, but it kind of hurts the feeling of confidence that I was only just starting to grow. "Suffice it to say that I don't at all oppose the idea of being the force behind Gensokyo's second manned space flight. In fact, much of the preparatory work on that front has already been completed due to my own interest in the subject. If the timetable is too small for my engineers to pull that off completely however, I also have at least one contact with some experience dealing with the Dream World previously."

"Well if you still need to confirm things, then there isn't much to talk about yet, is there?" Ringo asks.

"Other aspects of the situation can be decided now as well," Kanako continues. "As we are going to be collaborating on this, I will need a way to keep in contact with you when needed. That means I will need you to be located somewhere close by. Where are you basing your operations right now?"

"We've got a bunch of tents set up near the base of the mountain," Ringo answers. I think she realizes that there's a lot of mountain base though, so that doesn't narrow things down very well. "Kinda near the lake but in the foresty area," She adds.

"The Great Youkai Forest then. That's not a terribly inconvenient location," Kanako folds her arms again, looking off at a far wall of the building as she considers things. That's vaguely the direction we're located in, although she's probably not looking down enough. "I suppose it would be okay if you stayed there. Sanae can make the trip down there whenever I need to speak with you. It's not going to be as safe as the possibilities I was considering, but you have managed without much problem thus far."

"What possibilities were you thinking of?" I was ready to move on to whatever the next issue was, but I guess that Ringo is still curious.

"There is a lake very close to this shrine, the Wind God's Lake," Kanako turns back to us as she begins. It sounds as if she's been ready to pitch this idea to us for a while. She probably has been actually. "There is plenty of room around there for you to move your encampment, and it would mean I could immediately reach you when needed."

"Wouldn't that be a little suspicious?" I ask. I'm not just trying to avoid having to move all of our stuff here, there is an obvious problem. "Aya already knows there's a connection between us based on you getting Sumi out of jail. If we reinforce that connection by moving up next to you, she's going to be even more curious."

"More curious perhaps, but less able to act," Kanako smirks. "I've already had harsh words with Shameimaru after one too many invasions of the shrine's privacy. She stays clear of the area now for the most part. Even if she knows that you've moved here, she won't be able to investigate without facing punishment from myself, and by extension the tengu leadership as well. I understand your concern however, which is why I merely said it was a possibility."

"Are there other possibilities then?" What, are you actually eager to move or something Ringo?

"The other option I was considering was to simply move you underground. That would mean simply disappearing. Even if Shameimaru were to look for you underground, which isn't likely, you would be in too restricted of areas for her to gain access to," Kanako explains. Wait, underground? We already started going there once. Didn't get much of a good look at what's down deeper though. "It would put you close to my contacts, and would be relatively safe as long as you don't get on the bad side of any of the less civilized youkai that live down there. It is, however, a bit of a trip. Even with our direct access tunnel down to the power plant, it may increase the time needed for us to communicate or for you to go about future tasks above ground," Oh, a direct access tunnel. I guess that's not the same way that we went before.

"But it's still okay for us to just stay where we are?" I ask for clarification.

Ringo turns to me. "She said it'd be okay, but we'd still need a way to deal with the Aya issue," She answers. Oh, right. I guess that would still be something of a problem. Especially if we're going to be actively working for Kanako now. We could just rely on Yuzuki to let us know when it's safe to do things, but that's not really a permanent solution.

Kanako nods at Ringo before continuing. "If you're planning to keep your current location, then I can arrange for Shameimaru to be kept busy by her superiors inside the village. It would be subtle enough that she would likely not be suspicious of it, however it wouldn't be enough to occupy her completely. At best it would simply mean she'd have much less time to look into what you're doing," That seems like an okay idea, although it still isn't a complete solution, just a better stopgap. Do we need anything more than that though? "I could also directly tell her to stop."

We kind of already considered that possibility, although we were calling it the 'direct confrontation' idea. We didn't think that it would work out that well back then and I don't see why it would now. "Wouldn't that just backfire and make her more curious?"

"Yes, but again, her being more curious doesn't matter if she can't act on it," Kanako repeats the same point as before. "Once I've told her to stop and she disobeys that order, use of force would be justified. Either she would have to give up, or we would simply have to catch her spying while Sanae or myself were around," Well I guess it does help to have powerful allies. I don't think that force would be nearly as effective if any of us rabbits tried to do it in this situation.

Still, none of this might even be necessary. We're only going to be here for five more days. How much could Aya really find out in that time?

[ ] Keep camp where it is
- [ ] Don't do anything about Aya. Yuzuki can handle keeping track of her.
- [ ] Have Kanako subtly push to keep Aya busy.
- [ ] Have Kanako directly tell Aya to stop snooping.
[ ] Move camp to the Wind God's Lake, near the Moriya Shrine
[ ] Move underground

Hopefully this is the last of the 'sit around talking and planning things' updates for a while. Maybe?!

Also I know that in canon, the Eagle Ravi's camp was originally supposed to be located by Wind God's Lake. I changed that to be farther down the mountain at the start of the story so that they wouldn't immediately have Kanako breathing down their collective neck. Hope that isn't a big deal for anyone. I don't see why it would be.
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and you just let her walk away?
[x] Move underground
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[X] Move underground

We still need that date, and the change of location will be pretty refreshing.
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[X] Move underground

Going deeper down this rabbit hole.
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[x] Move underground

A nice change of scenery.
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What adventures await
[X] Move underground

My gut reaction is that I really just want to stay where we are now, but I might not be thinking that for the right reasons. It's not that I'm all that attached to our little clearing in the woods. It's also not that I think it's going to be the safest or easiest place to stay for the remaining five or six (depending on how you count the day of the full moon) days that we have left. If I'm being really really honest with myself, I'm just trying to get out of having to move again. I'm just being lazy. That's no good.

Okay, let's reconsider this and be a bit less biased toward the path of least work. If we move, Kanako is pretty sure that the Aya situation will be taken care of just by virtue of either new location being somewhere that investigating us is impossible. That's mostly believable, so I'll take it as a point in both of the other place's favors. A point that our current location doesn't have as well. On the flip side of that, the only reason why they're so safe is because they're more remote and under control. The increased commuting time to anywhere else in Gensokyo is the trade off for more security and closer proximity to the people that would actually be helping us.

That sounds like not that bad of a deal to me honestly. Travelling isn't that difficult when we just fly everywhere we need to go anyway. So now I just need to think about either the lake near Kanako's shrine or the underground. One is a relatively short move up the mountain that puts us within immediate reach of Kanako, as well as the other occupants of the Moriya shrine. The other one is a long distance move that puts us in an almost completely unknown location near whoever Kanako's contacts are.

Hmm... Well, there's also... No, never mind. That's not something that should enter into the decision making process here. Stop it, me.

Although maybe I should get a little bit of clarification. Not just for me but for the others as well. That's reasonable.

"So if we decided to go underground," This is just an if, of course. I'm being hypothetical. I haven't decided anything, and am definitely not going to let non-mission related things influence this decision. "We'd still be able to move around after that, right?" And I mean both under and above ground by that.

"So long as you're following my orders and not acting as a liability to either your goals or mine, I don't intend to keep you prisoner," Kanako answers. Okay yeah, that's how I figured it would be. It seems like it goes a bit against the idea of keeping the truth about what we're doing from getting out but I guess I'm not complaining. I don't really want to be locked up or anything. "You will be permitted to access the service entrance between the power plant and the base of the mountain. Although I will admit that it's a bit of a detour to do so."

"And that's where we'd be living? A power plant?" Something like that seems a little bit out of place here in Gensokyo. Actually, I guess I can say that out loud now that we're no longer pretending to be from Earth, huh? "I didn't think Gensokyo would have something like that. Electricity doesn't seem to be very common here."

"I have been working my way into becoming a goddess of technological innovation for several years now. One of the ways that I have attempted to bring Gensokyo into the future is through an industrial revolution, centered mainly around our own nuclear reactor," Kanako sounds all too proud to talk about herself, but I will admit it's a little bit interesting. We have our own technology back on the Moon, but the technologal development here is obviously going to follow a completely different path due to different circumstances. "Maintaining such a thing is no small feat, and requires that I employ many followers and like minded individuals under me. I made sure that plenty of living space was included into the initial construction. It wouldn't be feasible to expect humans to make a commute from the village to the underground every day," Yeah, I would imagine that a trip underground would take well over a day on foot, so that makes some sense.

This does bring up the topic of Kanako's contacts though. "So we would be living around a bunch of human scientists down there?" I can practically already hear Sumi yelling 'NERDS' at people.

"It's a rather eclectic group actually. There are some humans, some surface youkai, some underground youkai, some... Others," Don't think I didn't catch the slight pause there. What other type of person would she be thinking of though? "Of course, while many of them may be eccentric, I will personally vouch that each of them are perfectly trustworthy. The reactor, as well as many other projects, wouldn't be sustainable without them."

So living space is already included. That means we wouldn't need the tents I guess. Oh, there might even be real beds involved! I'm pretty sure not living in tents is a bonus that is exclusive to the underground, though I guess I could check. "And if we decided to move up here near your lake, then I'm assuming that things would pretty much be the same for us. We'd just be camping closer to you, and therefore be safer?"

"Yes. I unfortunately would not be able to offer you quarters in the shrine. No offense meant to you personally of course, but I would prefer to avoid having patrons seeing you when they visit," I can understand that. We've already heard that some humans just don't like youkai, and I don't have a good reason to want to spook people like that. "You would still be close by, just not directly on shrine grounds at all times."

Well there are the possibilities I guess. Honestly, if we're going through the pain that is moving just for our own safety, I don't see a reason to half ass it. The underground feels like the better choice here. Who knows, maybe we'll even enjoy the change in scenery. I already know I've gotten pretty tired of trees.

Of course, I should clarify again that this decision has nothing to do with the underground being home to a certain spider. This is a strategically sound decision made because of reasons. None of which are a date that I still plan to go on at some point. Yes. Okay.

"Well, in that case, I think that moving underground is the best idea," I decide out loud. Although it technically isn't up to me. "What do you think Ringo?"

Ringo's been pretty quiet while I figure things out, which I really shouldn't be so surprised about. "I don't have that much of a preference," Yeah, even looking for her opinion doesn't get me much. I wonder if she really doesn't care about these things or just doesn't want to go to the trouble of deciding them for herself. Those are kind of the same thing now that I think about it. "It's only a temporary thing, so if you're okay with it, we might as well go somewhere new. A new place with new people and new stuff to see could end up being pretty fun,"

That's a pretty optimistic view of it, but she's right. It could be fun. "Aside from the actual moving part," I point out. Ringo chuckles slightly in response, although she has to know that she's the one that's going to have to do a lot of the literal heavy lifting for a move. "How is this going to work? Are we just going to haul everything underground?" I turn back to ask Kanako.

"Well yes, that was my original intention," Kanako admits, sounding a bit disappointed. Even if it's easy for us to make the decision, there's always logistics to worry about, huh? "I admit, however, that I'm not aware of just how much equipment you have or how much space you'll need."

"Uh, a lot," Ringo says vaguely, laughing even though there really isn't much that's very funny about it. "Maybe like four times as much as we need and like ten times as much as we've actually used. It's all here now though, so we kinda gotta deal with it," Well excuse Yuzuki and I for feeling a little bit insecure on a hostile planet we knew next to nothing about. We wouldn't have complained to Command if we had known what was going to happen. At least my push for more supplies means that we're nowhere close to running out of food.

"That may be a bit of a problem. How many trips would you need to transport everything?" Kanako asks. Actually yeah, that's a bit of an issue. The more time it takes the worse off we are in keeping Aya from seeing anything.

"Many," You're still being vague, Ringo! Even if you are correct. "See we originally came in through the Dream World, and that place doesn't have the same concept of gravity. All we had to do was tie everything together and push it along and it didn't take much effort. For actually lifting everything? Yikes."

Yikes is right. Ringo having super strength doesn't help that much if she has to keep a bunch of crates balanced while flying across Gensokyo. With an entire bunker full of stuff, we wouldn't be able to rush things. Maybe we don't need to though. "Well we don't have to move everything immediately, right? We can lock our equipment up safe and secure where it is, then come back for it later," I suggest. The bunker would be pretty much impossible to break into, even if Aya happened to find it. We don't technically have to be right next to everything all the time. All the more if we're going to be in a safe place underground. "Maybe some day when Kanako arranges for Aya to be kept busy?"

"I could make that work. Although there would be some setting up to do for it," Kanako goes into deep thought, looking down at the table as she speaks. "Although setting up for you to move down would also require some time to let them know that you're coming and that space needs to be cleared out. Hm, and since Sanae isn't back yet I suppose I'll either have to let them know myself or wait for her to come back..."

"Then why don't we break for now?" Ringo suggests, probably because it doesn't seem like Kanako needs us around to go over all this stuff. She seems to be doing it just fine on her own. "You can talk to whoever you need to talk to while we head back to camp and gather ourselves and the others up. We'll come back around sundown with enough stuff to move underground and figure it out from there."

"I suppose that's fine," Kanako quickly agrees before thinking a bit more about it. "Actually, yes, that works out quite well. One of the first tasks I was going to give you was to deliver the remains of your spider robot to my head scientist anyway. Sanae can lead you down while you take care of that."

Okay, that sounds like a reasonable request... Except... "Wait, the remains of the drone? I didn't think it was that broken," Well, I guess it's true that I never actually saw it after it went missing.

"It may not have been when the kappa first got to it, yes," Kanako breaks from her serious thinking to smirk just a little bit. "They are a very curious race. Knowing what I know now, it's very fortunate that I managed to get it from them before it ended up blowing up in their faces."

"Protecting the people of the mountain before they even know they're in danger," Ringo laughs out loud. "I guess that's why you're the goddess around here!"

Kanako gives a pleased smile in response. I guess she's not going to point out that it's us she was protecting them from. Must be one of the perks of being her ally now. She's not guilting us.


My legs are a little tired from sitting at the table for so long, but I feel like we accomplished a lot by the time Ringo and I get up to leave. Kanako reiterates the plan, which is maybe a little bit unnecessary given that we have just made it, then we say our goodbyes and head out of the shrine. I don't catch sight of Suwako or Sanae while we leave, but I guess that's to be expected.

Ringo and I try to go over a list of things that we'll need as we fly back to camp. Honestly we don't come up with a lot. While there might be a lot of stuff that we could use if we had it, there's not a lot of stuff that we actually need to have. I need my mallet and Ringo needs dango just for our powers, sure, but everything else we decide we're eventually going to cram in a backpack is going to end up falling into either 'just in case' or 'it would be nice to have' territory. I'm kind of proud of how much less paranoid I've gotten about Earth now, considering I don't even really think that I need to bring any weapons along.

Camp is quiet when we get back, in fact I don't see anyone around. Oh no, wait, there's Chiyo. She's sitting at the table slowly picking away and eating tiny bits of one of those big white radish things. What were those called again? We don't have them on the Moon. That's one of the ones that we got from Minoriko. I haven't actually tried it yet.

"Hey," Chiyo greets us in the usual way as she tears the leafy part off the top of the radish and starts chewing on it.

"Hey Chi," Ringo says happily, taking a seat at the table like usual. I'd move to join them, but somebody is probably going to have to gather up the others if they're not here. Or at least Sumi. "Did we miss anything while we were gone?"

Chiyo takes a moment to finish chewing before she can respond. "Not really. Sumi and Yuzuki fought for a while, but they're done now."

"What!?" I thought I calmed Yuzuki down! Well, calmed her down internally. She was always calm externally.

"Yuzuki asked Sumi to do some danmaku stuff so they could 'practice' and also to 'show Aya that we're not defenseless', as if she'd care," Chiyo seems completely unconcerned about this, but I'm a little bit worried. "They shot each other for a while, yelled at each other after that, shot some more, now they're both in their tents resting."

"Who won?" Ringo there's more important things to talk about here than that!

"It was close, but that's because they're still both kinda bad," Chiyo smirks. Hey, it's not like she's any better than they are. "Yuzuki won though. Or at least she was the last one shooting before they stopped."

Ringo chuckles a little bit again and still seems annoyingly unconcerned. I really need to say something here. "Ringo, shouldn't you be a little bit more concerned about the two of them actually fighting?" I ask, trying to sound patient with her. I'm used to this, but she should be used to me sometimes responding negatively to her laziness as well.

"Not really," Ringo shrugs, reaching over the table and holding a hand out for Chiyo, apparently asking for some of the whatever it's called radish. Chiyo ignores her. "Sometimes you gotta let Sumi know who's boss. I've done it plenty of times," While it's true that Ringo has forcibly stopped Sumi from acting out before, shouldn't this be one of those times as well? Resolving conflicts should be a thing that the leader does, right?

"They both seemed pretty tired when they were done, but they weren't angry at least," Chiyo chimes in, blatantly ignoring Ringo's increasingly obvious requests for her to share some food. "You should be able to leave them alone and let things blow over now. Sumi got her fight while Yuzuki got to pretend that they weren't fighting."

I'm not so sure...

[ ] I'll talk to them later about it. Just to make sure things are okay.
[ ] Push Ringo into stepping up and taking care of the situation. She's the leader here.
[ ] Chiyo's right, I'll just leave them alone. I'm sure they can work it out. They have before.

Also if you have any suggestions for things that Seiran should pack with her, feel free to add them in. Seiran's going to be meeting with several different people and will be away from camp until at least the next day, so you can include anything you think might be handy to have just in case. I've deliberately kept it kind of vague what all is included with the rabbit's equipment just so people can suggest things that they think make sense.
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[x] I'll talk to them later about it. Just to make sure things are okay.
[j] Make sure I know where my towel is.

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[X] Chiyo's right, I'll just leave them alone. I'm sure they can work it out. They have before.
[X] Flashlights

I hope this means we'll finally get some Yamame action.
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[x] I'll talk to them later about it. Just to make sure things are okay.

You're the leader in all but name, deal with it-
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[X] Chiyo's right, I'll just leave them alone. I'm sure they can work it out. They have before.
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Willing to share unlimited power
[X] I'll talk to them later about it. Just to make sure things are okay.
[X] Chiyo's right, I'll just leave them alone. I'm sure they can work it out. They have before.

Even if the others aren't very concerned, I still kind of am. We're in a tough situation here, and we need everyone to be getting along and working together, not fighting each other behind Ringo's back. Maybe it's not a big deal and it's already out of their systems, but somebody should at least check to make sure that there aren't any hard feelings left over.

So I'll totally do that. Soon. Ish. Soonish.

I mean, it's not my job, and I'm already a bit busy worrying about the move that we need to get ready for in the remaining daylight. I still have to break the news to the others, get them to pack up quickly, and move us all out. Maybe having a talk about interpersonal conflict would be badly timed here. I can wait until later and see if it's really necessary to say anything, just as long as I promise myself that I'll actually do it if I see anything off between Yuzuki and Sumi. It seems pretty obvious that I can't rely on Ringo to step up at least.

Alright, with my reasoning (excuses really) squared away, let's get to (hopefully) more urgent business. That means we need a short meeting.

Ringo's been asking Chiyo about the specifics of the duel while I was considering things. She's not getting very clear descriptions though. I guess Chiyo wasn't interested enough to watch closely, or maybe she just didn't catch a lot of it. Chiyo is surprisingly bad at danmaku after all. Well anyway, it's not something that's all that important, so I don't feel bad about interrupting. "Chiyo, can you go grab Sumi?"

Chiyo looks all too ready to move away from Ringo's questioning. She's already standing up when she starts replying. "Sure I guess, but I still think it's not a big deal."

"It's not about the fight," At least not at the moment. "We need to have a meeting about what happened with Kanako," I explain. I can get Yuzuki out here without anyone going to get her, but somebody needs to get Sumi's attention manually.

"Oh yeah, that. Speaking of, good job on not getting killed or whatever," It's kind of hard to tell if she actually thinks that we were in any danger when she says it so easily. I wonder if any of the others had put much thought into what they were going to do if negotiations went badly. Probably not. I guess I could take that as a vote of confidence from them though.

Ringo laughs, though I think it's less about what Chiyo said and more about just wanting to seem confident. "Oh ho, we did much more than that, just you wait!" She declares happily, ignoring the fact that Chiyo is already walking away.


Ringo and I summarize the deal we made with Kanako to varied reactions from the other rabbits. We don't repeat absolutely everything, but get enough of the main points for everyone to know what's going on. The others need to know what's expected of us and what we're getting in return.

"So we get to live in a kick ass underground base while some eggheads figure out how to send us back home, all for stuff that isn't ours anyway and work that we're already used to doing? Goddamn, how did Kanako not know that she was getting flim-fucking-flammed?" Weird word choices aside, Sumi seems interested in the change of scenery, and doesn't have much of a problem working for Kanako. Given that her first impression of Kanako was 'the person who got me out of jail' I guess I can understand why.

"Giving up equipment that isn't ours doesn't really make it better," I ease Sumi down a little bit. Even though I agreed to the deal, I know it's not like we're getting a huge advantage here. "We also don't know what specifically she's going to ask us to do over the next couple of days. We could end up being busy."

"We might also not be," Ringo adds with a shrug. Yes that's also possible. When we don't have any jobs nailed down, you can speculate any way you want.

"Did we really need to move for any of the deal though?" Chiyo was also pretty okay with the deal up to a point. Once we started talking about the plan to move though, her expression got a bit less pleasant. Not that she was emoting that much in the first place mind you. "It just feels like we're running away from Aya. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth."

"Well we kind of are," Ringo chuckles wryly. Hey if you didn't like it, why did you let me decide while pretending you don't have a preference?

"The other option to stay here wasn't guaranteed to be safe, so moving felt like a better choice," Although I had been initially resistant to the idea too. I'm sure Chiyo will come around, she's just going through the same thought process as me. "We're already going to be moving back home in less than a week, so we'll just have to live with the idea that we aren't going to be the ones who break Aya's spying habit."

Chiyo thinks it over for a bit before shrugging. I think I catch her mumbling something about it being a pain. Although I agree, I'm still feeling like I made the right choice for the long (or maybe more like medium) term.

As for Yuzuki, it's obvious she still doesn't like Kanako, but was probably expecting this to happen if we succeeded in our negotiations, so it's not a surprise. She's more or less resigned at this point, I just hope she doesn't feel bitter about it. "Well, I suppose we can make this work, I really don't want to be stuck underground all the time though. Like for example in the mornings..." She gives Ringo and I a meaningful look.

"Yeah don't worry about it," Ringo quickly assures her. "Kanako says we can come and go, so as long as you're okay with making the trip out, you're fine."

Yuzuki catches Ringo's meaning and seems a little pleased that my request on her behalf went over well. "It's not exactly convenient, but fine. We can move."

"Great!" Ringo says happily. She didn't really need everyone's consent, but now we've more or less got it anyway. "Next step is to actually do it then. Kanako's expecting us back up at the shrine before the sun goes down, so we've only got a couple of hours to pack things up. Keep in mind that, while we'll be able to come back here and move more stuff if we need to, the camp is going to be left unsupervised for at least the rest of tonight. Aya could come around snooping."

"So hide the guns?" Sumi asks casually. Actually, I don't know how much hardware she's been keeping in her tent. That might have been a security issue waiting to happen.

"You should have already hidden the guns," Chiyo rolls her eyes. I completely agree.

"Just don't leave anything valuable or incriminating behind," Ringo ends the conversation there and adjourns the meeting. My mind is still a little bit blank on what all I should take with me, so I think I decide to spend a little bit of time just rifling through all of the stuff still in my tent.


Actually this isn't too bad. I thought I was going to end up with a still mostly empty backpack (if I even needed one) when I first started, but enough looking around and thinking means that it's got some weight to it now. It's not full or anything, but that's fine I guess. Maybe somebody else will have some stuff they need me to carry. Let's see...

I already had a bug-out bag prepared for an emergency, so I start by stuffing that in my backpack. It has enough supplies to last for a few days, so that covers most everything immediate right there. I've also got two flares, my pills, an extra canteen full of water, a little over half of that jar of dehydrated peaches from a few nights ago, the clothes I borrowed from Merlin (I changed out of them earlier today, but I still don't feel like I should just leave them just sitting around since they're not mine), one of the two way radios, the pillow I've been using here just in case they don't have one where we're going, and a towel. That's pretty respectable. There shouldn't be much that I can't handle with this.

Since the majority of my things were already prepared, it takes me less time than I expect to finish packing. When I leave my tent, I'm actually rather surprised to not be the first one gathering up in the center of camp. I guess I can understand Yuzuki, she's always going to know where everything she needs is. The only thing that would have slowed her down would be her needing to get everything organized in her own pack. No really though, what I'm actually surprised about is that Sumi's out here too. Already packed.

"-are NOT going to need that," I hear Yuzuki argue as I walk over and set my backpack down on the table. Oh great, are they fighting again? It seems kind of like it, but they also look a little bit less intense than when they were fighting earlier. If anything, Yuzuki looks embarrassed while Sumi's trying to hold back laughter. Hm, I wonder what this is about.

"I've got lots of stuff in here, and I might need some of it at some point," Sumi says casually, holding her backpack in one hand and shuffling the contents of it with the other. It looks like a mess in there, like she mostly just shoved a bunch of stuff from her tent inside. It's all probably somewhat important though. Actually, is she really gonna need extra ammo?

"You absolutely will NOT. at ANY POINT. Need THAT," Yuzuki insists urgently. She can tell the contents of everyone's packs instantly, that's true, but I kind of expected her to not say anything about other people's choices. I wonder what's provoking her to do that now.

Sumi lets out a small 'hm' noise before flipping her pack closed and slipping it around her back. "Like I said, you're gonna have to be more specific. I'm pretty dumb, you know?"

"You know what I'm talking about," Yuzuki snaps back. Actually, why is her face red? She's blushing?

My curiosity is really too strong here. "What's she talking about?" I ask Sumi, who apparently had been to preoccupied with her belongings to notice me coming over.

"Ah, here we go, this'll be fair. Seiran can tell us who's right," Sumi decides, although Yuzuki doesn't at all look like she agrees with the idea. Sumi turns to me anyway without waiting for a response. "So, I got a lot of stuff in my backpack here, you see?" She shrugs her shoulders a bit so I can hear the sounds of her things. I nod at her question, though it's obviously rhetorical. "So oooone or twooo items in here may have been really really fucking hard to get back on the Moon, so I don't want to leave them behind to get stolen, right?" Okay, I guess that's fair enough. I don't know what all would be difficult to get on the Moon though. Alcohol? She wouldn't keep that in her bag right next to everything else though, right? What if it leaked or something? "Yuzuki's saying that I shouldn't bother keeping them with me, even though she never said anything about me having them before."

"I understand why you have those... Things," Yuzuki cuts in, practically hissing now. "But I know you can be without them for a day. You're just acting inappropriate to try and get a reaction out of me and now you're going to try and get Seiran involved in something that she won't-"

"Yuzuki, what are you telling her to leave behind?" The mood isn't quite up to a full blown fight yet, but I can see it getting to that point if Yuzuki keeps ranting enough to get Sumi to stop being amused by whatever this situation is. I'll just hear what the actual problem is, settle it, and we can all move on.

"It's..." Yuzuki starts but quickly falters. Her face is getting more red now for some reason. "You wouldn't..." She starts again. I wouldn't what? "Never mind," She finally deflates. Sumi snickers victoriously, but nobody's explained the problem to me yet! Why is Yuzuki so embarrassed? Why is Sumi so smug about it?

I keep trying to get either of them to explain it, but don't get anywhere for the next few minutes. I don't get anything out of it other than Yuzuki's vague mention of 'inappropriateness' and Sumi saying something about 'contraband'. You know, it's frustrating dealing when people won't let me in on something like this.

Before I can get anything of value, Chiyo comes out of her tent with a very stuffed backpack. It looks big and puffed up, practically bursting at the seams, but it doesn't seem to be very heavy just from the way she's carrying it. She's not exactly struggling with it, but it's still throwing off her balance a bit. She walks over and sets her pack down, making a soft puff noise.


"Err," I'm about to ask what all she's bringing when the answer quickly comes to me. Right, what's in Chiyo's room? Her bedding. All those pillows and blankets. "Do you really need all of that?" I ask, trying to be as gentle as I can.

Chiyo stares down at her pack for more than a few seconds. "Yes," She answers, somewhat reluctantly. She actually looks a little embarrassed. Maybe I shouldn't press her too hard on this. Given how much Chiyo sleeps, it's probably important to her to be able to be comfortable while doing it. I don't know if she's going to have that much time underground to laze around, but whatever. It doesn't matter that much. The only thing I'm concerned about is how it looks and how difficult it might be for her to move in.

Actually, I think I can help with that. "Okay, that's fine then," I assure her. "But I've got some extra room in my bag, so if you need me to take some for you, I can."

Chiyo glances down again. "Fine," She decides. Wow, she's talking even less than usual. Maybe this is what being embarrassed (for whatever reason) does to her. Oh well, she gave me permission, so I'll be happy to help her out.

While I'm trying to stuff more than a few blankets into my bag, I see Ringo coming out of her tent. Instead of coming over to join the rest of us though, she instead heads over to the bunker. Hm, I wonder what all she's grabbing. It doesn't take her long to return, so it must not be something that's all that buried in there.

"Alright," Ringo starts talking before she's even made it all the way back to the table. She can clearly see that we're all waiting for her. All told, packing couldn't have taken much more than an hour. Even with the sun starting to set now, we should end up with plenty of time to get back to the shrine and get underground before it gets too dark to see. "You guys all ready to go?"

"Mostly," I answer her, though I'm a little bit curious now. "What did you need to grab from the bunker? Isn't most everything down there incriminating?"

"Mostly yeah, but it also has the refrigeration for the mochi and dango stuff. Thought I'd bring some of that to make a good impression on our new neighbors," Ringo happily declares, pulling her bag up on her back a little bit. "Plus, the dango are tactically important," She adds. That's... Technically true. Well, it's probably not necessary to bring much food along, but then I also brought some of my peaches, so I won't say anything.

We take ten or so more minutes to go through camp again, double checking for any evidence that we may have left behind. We could just have Yuzuki do it, but I think it's also nice to have a chance to say goodbye to the place. Even if we're probably going to come back sometime soon to pick up things that we've forgotten, we're still moving out formally now. After however many days of living here, it does feel a little bit odd to be moving on now.


Once finished, we double check with Yuzuki that Aya isn't watching, then fly up toward the peak of the mountain. It's not the longest trip, but it seems to be going a little slower. After a couple minutes of flying I realize that that's because Chiyo is lagging slightly. Even though I took a portion of her luggage for her, her pack is still a little bit big for her. It's messing with her aerodynamics, and she wasn't that fast to begin with.

Regardless, it's not actually that much of an issue. She's still capable of flying, so we get up the mountain and to the shrine without incident. This time, there's even someone waiting for us.

"Welcome!" Sanae calls from the ground before we've even landed. It looks like she isn't sweeping this time, so I guess she might have just been waiting for us.

"Hey Sanae," Ringo hits the ground first and greets the shrine maiden for the rest of us. Well, we've all met her before except maybe Sumi. "Did Kanako tell you what's going on?"

Sanae nods enthusiastically. Actually, her whole demeanor seems a little different compared to when we saw her before. She seems a little more animated and a little less business like. "Yeah, she told me everything. That was really surprising. To think that I talked to aliens a few days ago and didn't even realize it!"

Well, saying aliens is technically true, but I don't know why she's so excited about it. "I don't think we're that different from normal youkai," I point out weakly.

"Youkai from space!" Sanae quickly corrects me. "You even did the whole 'Take me to your leader' thing and I didn't even think twice about it!" She changes her voice to some weird robotic sounding one in the middle of that for some reason I don't get. "And I was worried that Gensokyo was getting boring, or that I was getting too used to things!"

"We're not the first people from the Moon down here," Chiyo mutters to the side, loud enough that we can all hear.

"That's true," Sanae admits. "But I've talked to Reisen before. She never tells me anything interesting about living in space. On top of that, she's acts totally normal all the time too. It's completely not what I would expect from someone from another planet!" Technically the Moon isn't a planet, it's a moon. Splitting hairs here though. "Hm, I guess it's technically still surprising if you expect to be surprised and aren't..."

I think we're pretty normal too, but I don't see any reason to crush Sanae's enthusiasm. She seems much more excited now than she was any other time I've seen her so far. Let's just move on before her happiness fades. "Anyway, we're supposed to go underground now, right?" I suggest.

"Oh, right, right!" Sanae snaps out of her thoughts about being or not being surprised and moves a bit closer to the rest of us. "Lady Kanako said that you were supposed to help move the spider robot underground, so let's go grab that, then I can lead you to the back entrance down."

"Right, lead the way then," Ringo says, starting to walk even before Sanae does.

Sanae quickly catches up and takes our group around the main building of the shrine and further back through the grounds. We head off a small path to the right until we come up to some kind of shed. I guess it's just for storage. When Sanae opens it up, it's definitely full of a lot of dusty old boxes and such. It looks like most of the things in here haven't been pulled out for a long time, though obviously the drone itself is a new addition.

Ugh, while it isn't a dusty mess like a lot of the other stuff, it's definitely a mess of a different type. The thing used to be just pure chrome, but is now dirty and dented in various places. It looks like it sustained a lot of damage (probably from danmaku) to the main body, then when the kappa got to it they started working from there. Tearing off parts of the plating to see the stuff inside. Two of the legs are also detached, and it looks like a couple others are going to join it soon.

"So, I'll warn you that it's pretty heavy, so you guys might have a bit of trouble carrying it all the way down," Sanae explains while Ringo and I move in closer to the broken down thing. "We can go slow if you need to, since I don't think it'd be good to drop it."

"Nah, we're fine, I got this," Ringo calmly declares, pulling out a couple of dango and quickly eating them.

Sanae seems a little bit disbelieving, but still watches Ringo's actions curiously. "What's that?"

Ringo holds up a hand. "Give it a minute," It does take a little while for dango to kick in to Ringo's system. I'm not sure exactly how it works though. It's much shorter than the time it would take for her to digest them, so maybe it's just when they start getting dissolved in her stomach or something? Ick, maybe it's not that important.

After a short wait, Ringo bends at the knees and gropes around on the drone for a little bit. Even if she's strong enough to lift it easily now, there's still some maneuvering she'll have to do in order to hold it properly. I think me and one of the others should carry the broken off legs at least. After a little bit of work, Ringo manages to get a good hold on the drone and lifts it up effortlessly.

"Wow~!" Sanae claps her hands happily as she steps out of the way for Ringo to bring the drone out of the shed. Once out in the open, Ringo puts it back down on the ground and basks in the applause. I guess the rest of us are pretty used to Ringo being ridiculously strong, so she must be enjoying somebody actually being impressed by her power. "So was that stuff you ate some kind of Moon medicine to make you strong?" Sanae guesses.

Well, it's not that far from the truth, but it's not correct either. "Mmmmmaybe," Ringo teases, holding out another dango for Sanae. "Here, why don't you try it out?"

Sanae quickly grabs the dango out of Ringo's hand and bites into it without a second thought. Isn't that a little too trusting? There's a brief flash of realization on her face, then confusion, probably from realizing it's something that she's eaten before. It's just an ordinary dango. She still eats the whole thing anyway. Once finished, Sanae looks down at herself as if she's expecting something to happen, even though she just saw that nothing visibly happened to Ringo.

"Well?" Ringo asks after a moment, obviously knowing that nothing is going to happen.

"Hmm," Sanae looks down at the drone, then back at herself, then bends over and gives the thing an experimental push. It doesn't budge much. "I don't think it's working. I think I feel something, but maybe I have to get used to it or something."

"Hm, maybe," Ringo agrees casually. I'm pretty sure I hear Sumi hiding laughter as Ringo picks the drone back up. "Shall we go?"

"Ah, sure!" Sanae happily agrees. Well, it was just a little joke, but I think Sanae enjoyed it anyway. She seems to be in a really good mood. Maybe I could talk to her while we head off to wherever it is we're going.

[ ] Talk to Sanae
- [ ] Ask about Sanae herself
- [ ] Ask about the Moriya shrine
- [ ] Ask about where we're staying
- [ ] Ask about the people we're staying with
- [ ] Ask about what work Kanako might make us do
- [ ] Ask about Kanako wanting to talk with the capital
- [ ] Tell Sanae that Ringo just gave her an ordinary dango
- [ ] Something else
[ ] Talk to somebody else (about what?)
[ ] Let's just get underground, then we can talk

tfw you outline a chapter and think 'yeah, this will be easy' then start writing it and it turns out to be 4.2k words long and you don't finish until 40 minutes after you wanted to go to bed. Oops. At least I like the update.
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[X] Talk to Sanae
- [X] Ask about Sanae herself
- [X] Ask about where we're staying
- [X] Ask about the people we're staying with

Strike a nice balance between friendly banter and useful information without overwhelming her with questions.
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[X] Talk to Sanae
- [X] Ask about Sanae herself
- [X] Ask about where we're staying
- [X] Ask about the people we're staying with

Oh Sumi and Yuzuki you cards.
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[X] Talk to Sanae
- [X] Ask about Sanae herself
- [X] Ask about the Moriya shrine
- [X] Ask about where we're staying

Huh, I never realized that they did ask her to take them to her leader.
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[x] Talk to Sanae
- [x] Ask about Sanae herself
- [x] Ask about where we're staying
- [x] Ask about the people we're staying with

> a towel
> I guess I can understand Yuzuki, she's always going to know where everything she needs is.
> "You even did the whole 'Take me to your leader' thing and I didn't even think twice about it!"
> "So was that stuff you ate some kind of Moon medicine to make you strong?"
> etc

I have this big stupid grin on my face that won't go away.
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You are not where she's pointing
[X] Ask about Sanae herself
[X] Ask about where we're staying
[X] Ask about the people we're staying with

Nobody else seems to be doing it, so I move into the shed to grab up one of the drone legs that Ringo didn't take out with her. There's probably valuable materials in all parts of this thing, so we can't leave any of it behind. I grab it and... Okay this thing is actually a little more heavy than I expected. I can still carry it, but I was expecting something a little bit easier. I'm used to carrying my mallet around, and this is a bit of a step up. I guess that will happen when you have something made of metal instead of wood. Still, I guess I shouldn't complain when Ringo has it worse. Even with super strength, the drone has to be big enough that it takes some work to balance and keep hold of it, and she has to carry it all the way to... Wherever exactly we're going.

I walk out of the shed, pleasantly surprised that Sumi is already moving in to take care of the other broken leg. So where are we going then? Kanako was kind of vague about the exact location of this service entrance thing we're supposed to be using, and Sanae hasn't said the exact location yet either. Maybe the whole thing is a secret or something. Speaking of Sanae though, hopefully the trip will be long enough that I'll have some time to talk to her a bit. If she's going to be commanding us from here on out, it's probably a good idea to build up some kind of rapport with her. Luckily she doesn't seem that hard to talk to, I just have to think of what to say.

When Sumi walks out of the shed (with a bit less difficulty than me since she's a bit more fit), Sanae looks back at the two of us and nods happily. "Everybody ready then?" She asks the group as a whole. She gets some noises of agreement from a few of us, which I guess is good enough for her. "Great! I'll let you guys know if that medicine stuff kicks in so I can carry some stuff for you, but until then we'll go slow. The whole trip shouldn't take more than twenty minutes or so, but try to pay attention so you can find your way back in the future," Well, hopefully Yuzuki will be able to take care of that last part. I'll try to memorize the path anyway though.

With her explanation finished, Sanae takes a couple of steps before hopping into the air and flying off unhurriedly. We all follow along, though I make sure to purposely move up front, close to Sanae herself. I'm still planning to talk to her after all. Just have to think of a good way to start asking some questions without seeming nosy or anything.

The path we're taking seems a little more around the mountain than up or down it. That's a little surprising. We found the cave for our last trip underground much further down the mountain. I guess that means that the underground is pretty expansive. It also means that this service entrance must be really really tall to go all the way from near the top part of the mountain to way underneath it.

Well whatever, I'm sure Sanae knows where she's going. Even if she is going a little bit slower than she needs to. Maybe it's just out of courtesy for those of us carrying big loads though. That's nice of her. It should also make it easier to talk to her as well, so I just need to actually do that.

"Hey Seiran?" Oh, well that makes it easy. She's talking to me first. "What's up with the hammer?" Hey it's even a question that I've gotten multiple times before. "Does it also have some crazy alien Moon technology in it? Like is it jet powered or can it catch on fire or-" Okay, that's not something I've gotten before.

"Er, no, it's actually pretty much a normal mallet," I cut her off before Sanae becomes convinced that my hammer is some kind of super weapon. It might actually be too late, given her look that says she obviously doesn't buy it. "Pounding mochi is kind of a cultural thing back home. I'm pretty good at it, and find keeping the hammer around useful for that and for... Danmaku and stuff," Maybe that wasn't the smoothest, but I'd rather not go into powers all that much. All of us in the unit kind of have this understanding that we try to keep those things a secret. It's just to avoid causing rumors or getting negative reactions from people.

"Really?" Sanae turns her head to look at me curiously, but it really is true. This thing is just plain wood all the way through. "Well that's lame. I would have thought it would be really souped up for you to carry it around all the time."

Well it kind of calms me down and gives me a feeling of control, so I don't like not having it. That's a bit too personal to say though. Maybe I should just deflect off of this topic. "I'll think about it when we get back to the Moon," Probably a lie. I don't think that Command would approve anything like that. Not important though. "Why are you so convinced everything we have is going to be secret Moon technology though?" She did it with Ringo's dango too.

"I'm just being a little bit hopeful," Sanae cheerfully responds. "I'm lucky enough to live in a place where you can see crazy stuff like this if you know where to look, so I'm going to keep looking and having cool experiences!"

"What kind of stuff exactly?" Well, obviously people from the Moon, but I don't think she would have seen many of those before.

"You know like, supernatural stuff," It's really hard to think of myself as supernatural, but I guess I am relative to a human. Maybe she notices me feeling weird about it, because Sanae continues by rattling off a list of other things. "Aliens, super advanced technology, monsters, miracles, magic, time travellers..."

Sanae keeps listing off things, so I decide to cut her off again. "Have you actually seen a time traveller?"

"Well no, but I've heard they might have been here before," Sanae says, sounding a little bit saddened. It doesn't take much more than a moment for her to perk up though. "I wasn't here at the time. It was too long ago."

"You sound disappointed," Actually I can kind of see why. Time travel is one of the things that even the capital hasn't figured out. At least as far as I know. "Don't most humans want to stay away from this kind of stuff?" At least that's the impression I've gotten from the normal humans I've seen and what people have said about them.

"Yes, but I say that most humans don't know how lucky they are to be here in Gensokyo!" Sanae argues. She seems passionate about this. "I was actually born outside the barrier, and grew up totally normally. I didn't know that any of this magic stuff was even real," She continues, then thinks better of what she said. "No, that's not exactly correct. I knew deep inside that these kind of things were real, but of course I didn't have a way to prove it. Everyone that I talked to just thought I was strange. Things would have been so much worse if Lady Kanako hadn't found me. Even if things can be inconvenient, creepy, or even dangerous, I'm still glad that I got to move here."

I guess this is something that's hard to understand fully without having gone through all the things that Sanae has. I mean, I won't say that I hate Gensokyo or anything, but my basis for comparison is quite a bit different. Anyway, I'm a little bit curious now. "Is being a shrine maiden really all that dangerous?"

"Not by itself," Sanae assures me as we start descending a little bit. I notice that the area here is a little bit sparse on vegetation. It seems much more rocky and treacherous. Kind of like the area around the first cave we used. Probably not a coincidence. "But I do the same kind of incident resolution work as Reimu, which can get pretty crazy. You wind up staring down some of the most powerful people in Gensokyo with nothing but a bit of paper stuck on the end of a stick," She laughs to herself, but it doesn't sound like she's joking. "Divinely blessed paper on a stick of course, but it took a while for me to get used to having enough faith in something like that to actually keep me safe. I still remember my first incident was a bit of a mess."

Wow, Sanae really seems to be all smiles today. "You're... A bit different from my first impression of you," I admit. She seemed a lot more composed and business like when we first saw her out in front of her shrine. "Not that to be rude of course. It's just that originally I thought you just swept and minded the shrine quietly all the time," I still remember that meeting where Sanae barely got to talk and when she did Kanako reprimanded her. That's pretty far from the happy and excitable girl I'm talking to now.

"There's a lot of that kind of thing in being a shrine maiden. It's part of the job. Have to look good for the patrons," Sanae explains evenly. I can't tell if she likes that part of her job or not. "But when Lady Kanako explained the situation to me a little while ago, I started to get really excited. The shrine hasn't been very active lately, and I've been kept sitting out of incidents while Reimu and Marisa go out and solve them. Now I get the first shot at a brand new incident, right? It's even one that Reimu doesn't know about yet! I'm looking forward to it going really well!"

Personally, I'm kind of hoping that this kind of incident will involve a minimal amount of danmaku and violence compared to what Sanae may be used to. That might be a bit optimistic though. Either way, it seems weird to hear someone that's so eager to be involved in this kind of stuff when I just want it to be over.

"Here we are," Sanae says back toward the rest of the rabbits as she drops low enough to land on the ground. The rest of us follow along and come to a stop just in front of a huge hole in the ground. Seriously, this thing has to be more than fifty meters across. I'd complain about it being a safety hazard given that I can't seen the bottom, but I don't imagine many people come up this far on this side of the mountain anyway. Maybe they could at least put up a fence or something still. The sudden drop is making me nervous, and I can fly!

"So... who's jumping first?" Chiyo asks bluntly, moving up next to the edge and kicking a small rock over the side. Yeah, I don't even hear it hit the bottom.

"Seems a little bit less safe than Kanako told us it'd be," Ringo jokes. She seems completely comfortable still despite holding onto the drone for over ten minutes. I'm not doing badly myself, but I definitely wouldn't mind putting this leg down sometime soon.

"Oh no no, we're not just dropping all the way down there," Sanae quickly assures us. "Part of the way down there's an entrance to a tunnel we made with stairs that lead down to the plant properly. It's safe, you just have to know where you're going."

"And where are we going exactly?" Yuzuki asks, not sounding very thrilled about the next step. "We know there's some kind of living space in this power plant, but we haven't been told much other than that."

There's a tiny twinge of nervousness on Sanae's face, but it quickly passes. Actually, Sanae might still be a little bit uncomfortable around Yuzuki come to think of it. The two of them didn't have the best first meeting. "Well I've only been to the dormitories once or twice myself. Basically they're what you would expect for a place where the workers and scientists spend their time off. There's rooms to sleep in, make up food, relax and read, that kind of stuff. It doesn't seem like an uncomfortable place from what I've seen," Sanae doesn't seem like much of a real estate agent, but I doubt that's a normal shrine maiden duty. "It's even got air conditioning to keep it from getting too hot, since you're kind of close to the furnace," That doesn't exactly fill me with confidence, although I admit that that might be a tough thing to do.

"So do you have to lug humans down yourself when they come by for the first time?" Sumi asks, sounding amused at the thought.

"No, actually most people that we hire or bring on enter the underground from a different way. They have to go through the old capital and the palace of the earth spirits," Oh hey, so probably the way that we went originally. Past Yamame. "You guys are just a bit of a special case, so we wanted to be a bit faster and a bit more discreet."

"Yeah, this seems like it'd accomplish that," Ringo confirms, looking down the hole even though there really is only darkness to look at. Maybe if the sun was higher up we'd be able to see better. It's too late in the day though. The angle is bad. "Doesn't even look like much of an entrance."

"Well it wasn't originally. It's more like a natural vent that formed," Sanae explains, slowing down a little bit to choose her words more carefullly. "When we were first starting the power plant, there were a few unintended side effects and energy releases. We took care of all that now, and figured we would take advantage of this hole already being here."

"So why not put the stairs at the top?" Chiyo asks.

"To keep the entrance hidden. We don't really want unauthorized access down into our plant," That's probably fair, but it does feel a little bit shady too.

"Maybe it's stupid to ask this," I have to ask. It's probably not something I need to worry about, but I'm still asking. "But this whole operation isn't going to suddenly get busted, right?" I'm imagining Reimu (though I don't remember what she looks like all that well) blasting a bunch of magic down here and all of us rabbits flying out immediately afterward. We leave behind a trail of smoke all the way into the sky before disappearing with a little 'ping' noise.

"No we're legitimate," Sanae assures us once again. I think it's a little worrying that she keeps having to assure us of stuff honestly. "All the important players in Gensokyo know theres a power plant down here. They just don't know exactly where the entrance is. Think of it like an underground base! It's pretty cool that way, right?"

Well, it being cool is her taste at least. I've seen enough bases that definitely weren't cool to not be that excited about it. This one isn't Moon owned though, that probably counts for something. We're committed to following through on this anyway, so even if we have misgivings, we might as well keep following along. I adjust the way that I'm holding the drone leg and float down after Sanae when she drops into the hole.

As soon as we're below the level where we're getting any sunlight, Sanae creats some little glowy magic stars so that we can still see. I guess it's kinda like danmaku but she's not shooting them anywhere. Handy. Still, dropping down like this is a bit more harrowing than just flying over land, so we continue to go quite a bit slower than we could be going. It gives me a chance to look around at things.

I don't know much of anything about how caves form on Earth, but the walls here don't exactly look natural. Sanae mentioned some kind of energy releases, and I guess that's what happened here. It looks like some strong blasts shot out from deep below and this hole happened to be the path of least resistance. At least, that's what I'm guessing anyway. It certainly looks more roughly cut than the first cave we went through to get underground.

After a few more minutes of floating down, Sanae drifts over to the side. At first I don't even notice it, but once I look more closely, there it is. The entrance is a heavy looking metal blast door, painted so as to be hard to spot while also being recessed into a small hole in the tunnel down. It's not something that I would see without looking for it, in fact, I'm kinda worried about having to find this thing later on without Sanae's help. That's how well hidden it is.

"We don't actually keep this door locked," Sanae tells us as she turns a crank on the outside. "There is a camera at the entrance, and we pay some oni to take shifts watching it for intruders. It's never happened before, but even if somebody happened to find this place and walked all the way down, they wouldn't get very far," It seems a little strange to me that you would want to keep the entrance so well hidden but still bother to pay guards all the time, but I guess I can't complain about another security measure.

Ack! When Sanae pulls open the door, there's suddenly a very bright light pouring over my face. It's fluorescent, so definitely not natural. Seems it's placed at the top of this staircase down... Oh, that goes down pretty far. The stairs seem to be cut directly out of the surrounding stone, and form a long spiral downward. There's an open shaft in the middle that allows the light at the top to illuminate most of the way down, so I can kinda see the bottom, but it's really far down still.

"Ordinarily I fly up and down the middle here," Sanae points out.

"That might be a little bit tough for me. Could we walk down normally?" Ringo asks. Yeah, she's still carrying the drone, which makes maneuvering down the middle a bit of a difficult idea. If the drone catches on something she could drop it and that's really not something anyone wants. I guess we could all just go and let Ringo catch up, but I don't want to be rude like that. Sanae agrees to walk, so I guess she doesn't either. We start heading down.


This is a lot of steps.


Actually, I haven't had to use stairs for much of anything since leaving the capital.


It turns out my legs aren't used to stairs anymore. Ouch.

"So," I start conversation back up with Sanae to try and take my mind off the increasing strain in my calves and thighs. "What kind of people are down here? Kanako said a lot of general stuff, and you already mentioned oni security guards, but what kind of people are in the actual plant living space?"

"She was probably general because there really is a pretty good mix," Sanae answers, not sounding at all tired like me. I really should be keeping myself more fit. I'm the one in the military here. "In general, you're probably going to run into researchers and engineers. Most of them are either human or kappa that we recruited from above ground. There are other youkai from down here, but they're close enough to the capital that they can commute, so they don't use the dormitories."

"We haven't talked to many kappa, but we've seen a lot of their inventions and stuff," I think back. We kinda investigated their whole territory pretty much. We were stealthed after all, it wasn't difficult to look around and gather information. "Is it really uh, up to code for a power plant?"

Sanae laughs lightly. "Ordinarily no, but Lady Kanako has a pretty tough interview process for them," She explains. "Any kappa that we've brought in are usually the type that are smart enough to get things done, but also appreciate having somebody else telling them what to do."

Oh sure, I guess there probably would be kappa like that. I've known rabbits that were smart but didn't have the inspiration to use their intelligence before. "And the humans?"

"Pretty much normal people too, just interested in science and stuff. Which I guess makes them not so normal compared to most Gensokyo humans," Well I don't think I know any normal humans, so that doesn't mean much to me. "Still, you can talk to them like you usually would. Aside from Rika sometimes. She's... Odd."

"Odd?" There should be a little bit more to the description than that.

"Yeah, just... Odd," Oookay, I guess not. "Anyway, you're mostly going to just run into people too busy with their work to be that bothered with you. I think that's probably what you want anyway, right?"

"Well yeah," I admit. As long as Kanako can figure out a way to get us back to the Moon, we don't really need to make friends down here. Certain spider youkai not included in that I guess, but it sounds like we're actually pretty far away from her.

"Which reminds me that if you run into Orin or Okuu, you shouldn't get in their way if they're working," Sanae continues on. "Orin's the red haired cat girl, and Okuu is the tall bird girl with the cape. Their jobs are pretty important, and they take them surprisingly seriously. You're fine to talk to them if they're on break or they're leaving for the day, but if they're working, leave them alone."

I mentally try to commit those vague descriptions to memory. Sounds like I should be careful about those people. "Sure," I agree.

"Also you'll probably run into the janitor at some point," Oh hey, we're down low enough that I can actually see the door from here. "Well, really she's a maid, but she does the job of a janitor. She's uh... got some issues, so you'll have to be patient while she gets used to you," It sounds like there are a lot of people with issues down here. Not that I can talk.

We (finally!) reach the bottom of the large staircase and come to another blast door. Sanae twists the handle on this one open just like the first and pries it open.

Oh, this is... Surprisingly familiar.

Well cut, tiled floor. Evenly placed fluorescent lighting, inoffensively dull colored walls. Yup, if you told me I was in the hallway of one of the larger mare bases back on the Moon, I wouldn't be that surprised just from the look of things. Well, I guess I would be surprised if I read the signs.

We're in the middle of a four way intersection, with the blast door behind us. There are several plastic looking signs pointing out where each of the other paths will take us. Let me see...


Ahead there's a sign for NUCLEAR FURNACE.


Wait, what was that last one?

"Hm, I thought that Lady Kanako would be waiting for us here," Sanae says nonchalantly as I'm still trying to grasp what that last sign says. "She must still be talking to someone. I could contact her now, but maybe we should wait until she's done... Oh, how about I take you on a quick tour?" She suddenly suggests, turning back to the rest of us.

[ ] Maybe we could take a look at (LOCATION)
[ ] We should drop off the drone
- [ ] In the research lab
- [ ] In the supplies and storage area
[ ] We should drop off our things in the dorms
[ ] Have Sanae contact Kanako now

Fun fact, this story is now a year old. Woo. I'm pretty proud of my ability to spend a years worth of wednesdays and sundays (now mondays and thursdays) writing magical girl fanfiction.

I think it miiiiight go on like another yearish... Maybe more? I know where the ending is going to be, and if you're paying any attention at all you probably should too, since it's literally what everything in the story is building up to. The exact method and what all you have to do to get there, plus any extra fun stuff you want to do is still up in the air though. Plus my pacing and update length is all over the place.
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[x] We should drop off the drone
-[x] In the supplies and storage area

Poor ringo...

Also congrats! I really stories with a clear, long term objective that allow themselves for a few sidequests. So I obviously like this one. Here's to another year!
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[x] Maybe we could take a look at REMAINS OF BLAZING HELL

I mean seriously what even
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[X] We should drop off the drone
- [X] In the research lab
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[x] We should drop off the drone
- [x] In the supplies and storage area

Work first, play later.
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[X] We should drop off the drone
- [X] In the supplies and storage area

Congratulations on your story continuing for a year! I'm glad I decided to stick around this long, I really enjoy reading your story.
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[X] We should drop off the drone
- [X] In the supplies and storage area

I take a look back at the rest of the rabbits as everyone comes out of the stairwell. They're all curiously glancing around the area just like I had been, aside from Yuzuki, who is busy closing the door behind her. Well, she doesn't need to look around anyway. If anything, she's most likely already working to expand her awareness to more than just the hallways that we're in. Hm, that might actually be a bit of a problem if there's prohibited stuff that we're not supposed to know about somewhere. We'll have to consider whether to come clean about her powers or just hope that they never get found out. Something else to think (worry) about.

Anyway, I was more curious about Ringo than anyone else. She really doesn't seem to be having any problems carrying around the drone barring the logistics of it. She only ate a couple of dango, but it should be in her system for at least a little while longer. Still, it's probably best for us to take care of business before we go crazy exploring. I may be curious, but this job we're doing also acts as a first impression to our new boss(es). I want us to do our best.

"Maybe we could have a tour later," I suggest. It actually would be good to be lead around by somebody who is familiar with this place, and Sanae is obviously a nice enough person. We just need to take care of something first. "But I think it might be better to drop off the drone first. Just for Ringo's sake."

"Hm? Nah I'm good," Don't sandbag me like that Ringo. Well, in a way, this is also a first impression for her as well. Maybe she wants to act tough and strong. Or I'm just projecting again. Bleh, whatever. "Don't hold back on my account."

Luckily Sumi also seems to want to get rid of the drone part that she's been carrying all the way here. "Ringo, if we don't stuff that thing somewhere it's gonna wind up being the same as our tour through the Dream World. You won't see shit," I don't think that's a very good comparison to make. Our move through the Dream World was hardly a tour, not that I was able to see very much in there worth touring.

"Point," Ringo seems to buy it regardless, so thanks for making the argument for me easier Sumi. "Alright, where are we going?"

"Err," Not filling me with hope there Sanae. "I was kind of hoping that Lady Kanako had told one of you where it was going," She admits with a couple nervous laughs. Well, it can never be that easy I guess.

"Communication breakdown! This really is like back home!" Again, I wouldn't go that far. Sumi seems to be jumping to extremes a little more easily than usual. Not sure why that is. "Anyway, does it really matter? Just pack it in some closet somewhere. We can always haul it out again later. Come on, I wanna look around," oh, okay, she's just excited. I guess I should have expected that. Probably going to need to keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn't go exploring too much on her own.

Anyway, we need somewhere to put the drone away, right? There's only so many places to go, and luckily there are signs right here listing them out. Let me see...

"Well, how about that supplies and storage place then?" I suggest to Sanae.

"That should be fine," Any awkwardness from Sanae is instantly replaced with the same good mood as before. "I don't know who might still be around. Aside from the people that work here, most of the workers have probably gone home already. Even if we took it to the lab, there might not be anyone who could start working on it right now," Yeah, that's some much more in depth reasoning than I had gone through, but it supports my idea so I'll just nod along with it. "Besides, like um..." Sanae trails off.

Sumi notices Sanae looking at her and realizes the unasked question before anyone else. "Sumi," She says simply. Oh right, I guess the two of them were never really introduced, were they?

"Right, like Sumi said," Sanae happily continues. "You can just use more of your Moon medicine stuff and move the drone tomorrow if somebody wants to look at it," Then she catches herself and looks as if she might have spoken a bit too much. "Oh, or we can get an oni or something to do it too, if that medicine is valuable."

"Nah, it's not," Ringo laughs, shifting the drone a bit as she moves closer to Sanae. I'm not sure if she can see the signs that well with the drone in front of her face, so maybe she's just going to try and follow our host. "We can make more of it pretty easily."

"Wow really?" Sanae's impressed, but she's still under the impression that there's more to it than just making dangos and having Ringo eat them. "The Moon must be pretty amazing. You guys can just create strength powerups!"

"Amazing is definitely a word," Chiyo mutters just loud enough for everyone to hear her.

"It's an adjective too, so you'd at least be grammatically correct in using it to describe the Moon," Sumi laughs. Sanae doesn't seem to catch their not so subtle jabs at our home world, but I do. Not sure how I feel about that actually. "Anyway, let's go!" With that, Sumi moves quickly toward the left hallway, prompting Sanae to move so she can lead us.

We don't get very far in our walk down the hallway before coming to a set of double doors. Truth be told, I could already see these from the intersection, but now I can actually tell what they're going to. There are a couple of tall windows on the otherwise plain metal doors that reveal a bunch of tables and seats inside. I can't see the whole room, since it's fairly large, but it's pretty obviously the cafeteria. I guess it makes sense to have this here, as long as my assumption that the intersection we just came from is the center of the facility is correct. Most people would probably want the food to be in a relatively central location.

"This is the cafeteria," Sanae slows to point it out to us, but I'm pretty sure everybody already knows. Well whatever, she's the tour guide here. "Most of the employees eat here for lunch and dinner. The prices are pretty cheap, much more than the capital. It doesn't make us a lot of money that way, but it's a convenience that keeps people happy."

"What kind of stuff do they serve?" That was just about as fast as I expected Ringo to ask that.

Sanae glances into the window and looks a little bit less enthusiastic. "The variety is a little bit lacking actually," She admits. "You can only produce so much food underground with the limited space and lack of sunlight for farming. Most of the local specialties involve a lot of mushrooms or a lot of meat."

Ugh, that might be a problem. "I don't really eat meat. Am I going to have to live on mushrooms for the next few days?" Well I guess I could also grab more rations whenever we go back to camp, and we do have some food that Ringo and I brought. I'm not going to starve, I just want to see if getting back to our old camp is a higher priority than I originally thought.

"You might have a bit of a tough time then," Sanae still looks a bit uncomfortable, like she feels bad about bringing up the food at all. Still not filling me with hope here. "Bringing produce underground takes time and is expensive, so it usually costs a bit more. The oni have only developed a few plants to grow natively. They have some kinds of beansprouts and potatoes. Oh, there's also a weirdly rugged kind of rice, but most of that goes directly into producing sake. You know how oni are," She ends with a few more light laughs.

"We don't really know anything about oni, but you at least have my interest with the alcohol," Ringo jokes (maybe, probably not, okay definitely not). Right, Yamame did mention that a lot of partying happens underground. Not sure how I feel about that either. The party yesterday wasn't the worst experience ever, but I don't know if we should be taking the time to do something like that again on our limited schedule.

"Thankfully we don't allow alcohol on the premises," Sanae says, just a little bit too quickly. Maybe she doesn't like people drinking? "It's a safety hazard and makes people act stupid, which isn't safe in a place like this. You have to go to the capital if you want to drink, and you need to be sober by the time you get back."

"Noted~!" Sumi sounds weirdly pleased by Sanae's warning. Should I be worried by that? I'm kind of worried by that.

"We don't have any money," Yuzuki points out. That was my other concern as well. What little money we ever did have was only gotten a bit dishonestly, and we don't have a way to get more now that it's been spent. "And I'm assuming that giving us a living stipend wasn't a part of the deal. We may not be able to use your cafeteria at all."

"Hmm, you have a point," Sanae probabaly hadn't been thinking about that. Man, it sucks being poor. "You'll have to talk to Lady Kanako about that, I can't do anything for you there."

We move on from the cafeteria, given that there isn't much we can actually do there. Knowing where it's located may help, but it's probably not going to be too important. We can just move on to dropping off the drone now.

The hallway continues on for a while longer before turning off to the right, probably wrapping around the outside of the cafeteria. I'm just guessing that bit actually but it seems to make sense. A bit more walking then a turn back to the left. Okay, we're getting further and further away from the beginning intersection still, but I don't really know what that means functionally.

Well, aside from the heat. I mean, I could be excused for being a little bit worn out after carrying this somewhat heavy metal robot spider leg down approximately one million stairs, I think. I'm just saying that there's even more reason why I'm starting to sweat now. It's definitely getting a bit hotter here. Aren't we getting further away from whatever the NUCLEAR FURNACE was? I would at least expect that place to be hot. Then again, I guess we're also technically heading toward the REMAINS OF BLAZING HELL, so actually no, I shouldn't be surprised at all.


Ooookay, yeah. Definitely getting a little stuffy now. I'm about to says something (complain), but it looks like we're coming up to a door. Hopefully this is it and we won't have to go too much further.

Hm, this is much less like cafeteria doors and more like some kind of gated freight elevator. Sanae taps a button off to the side without a word, causing the gates to open up to the sides and reveal a gigantic warehouse, or at least I assume it's gigantic. Hard to tell with all the tall stacks of boxes and shelves preventing me from seeing the whole place. It looks like the doorway here is at the top corner of the room, and the elevator immediately in front of it allows access to either the ground floor or a few walkways at various heights further down.

Sanae steps onto the elevator and motions for us to join her, so we do so. We could honestly just fly down, but I guess that kind of defeats the purpose. Somebody had to pay to have this elevator built, so we might as well use it.

A few button presses and slightly shaky drop down later, we're at the bottom floor. The other end of the elevator automatically opens up to let us out, but that still doesn't really tell us what we're supposed to do. This place is huge and full of who knows what. Where are we supposed to put this one bit of alien technology? If we wandered around enough, Yuzuki might be able to tell us where it fits, but we probably shouldn't do that with Sanae right here.

I glance over at Ringo and Sumi, who are apparently much less worried about the problem than I am. "Well, just putting it here should be good enough, right?" Ringo asks, dropping the main body of the drone down gently off to the side before Sanae can respond. Sumi puts the broken leg on top of it much less gently.

"Ah! Questionable noise!" There's a girl's voice from deeper in the warehouse. It sounds kind of strange. Like it has some kind of tinny quality to it. "Ah!" Another gasp, sounds exactly the same as the first one. "Scrap metal located outside of its designated area. Returning objects to proper storage!" Her saying all that gives me enough time to pick out where the voice is coming from.

Emerging out from a few columns of storage crates is a kind of short, slightly scrawny looking girl. She has shoulder length light green hair and is wearing a frilly looking blue and white maid uniform. She's carrying a long handled broom and heading directly toward us. Actually, she's heading directly toward the drone. She's not even looking at the rest of us.

The girl trots over quickly, never breaking eye contact with the spot Ringo dropped off our piece of Moon technology. Once she reaches it, the maid girl quickly starts pushing at it with her broom. Uh, hold on. That is a small wooden stick with bristles on the end of it. That is not going to push that big hunk of metal anywhere.

The girl continues attempting to sweep, not at all letting her complete lack of success break her focus on the task at hand. After about fifteen seconds of this, Ringo finally says something. "Uh, do you need help?"

No response.

Or at least not one from the maid girl. "Sorry about her," Sanae apologizes quickly, moving over to Ringo and Sumi. "Ruukoto's primary job is to keep things clean, so she tends to focus on that above anything else. She'll probably keep pushing it like that until it moves to the right spot."

Ringo mostly just has a bemused look on her face, but quickly catches Sanae's meaning and picks the drone (and its broken leg) back up herself. With the thing she was pushing out of the way, the girl continues forward with her broom, immediately running it into Ringo's leg instead. "Ah!" That is the exact same gasp three times in a row. Isn't that kind of weird? "Individual not registered! Unauthorized access detected in the storage facility!" Aaaaand now she's running for the elevator.

"Wait wait wait Ruukoto, it's okay!" Sanae grabs the girl by the arm before she makes it very far. "Don't worry."

The maid (Ruukoto) turns and apparently notices Sanae for the first time. "Good evening Miss Kochiya. How do you do?" She asks, stopping to bow mechanically even while Sanae is still holding one of her arms. "I am presently on my way to locate the alarm, if you would be so kind as to release me, I would be happy to assist you with whatever you need afterward."

"No, you don't need to do that," Sanae's voice takes on a (somewhat forced) patient tone, like she's talking to someone she doesn't expect to listen to her the first time. "These are guests. They're not unauthorized. You don't need to do anything."

"I was not aware of guests arriving today," Ruukoto sounds confused for a split second before returning to the same cordial pleasantness as before. "I must authenticate this with security. If you would be so kind as to release me, I would be happy to assist you with whatever you need afterward."

"No, security probably doesn't know about them yet. It's okay. You don't need to do anything," Sanae repeats.

"Understood," Ruukoto nods quickly, but doesn't appear to relax any. She's still kind of rigid. "How may I assist you now?"

"You don't need to do anything other than meet all of them so you know what they look like," I catch Sanae almost sighing in relief as she lets go of Ruukoto's arm. Maybe this maid girl is hard to deal with. She certainly seems strange. "They're going to be staying in the dormitories for the next few days."

"Understood," Ruukoto nods again before turning back to Ringo and bowing deeply. "Good evening, my name is Ruukoto. I am a robot serving as janitorial staff for the Moriya Shrine's underground power plant. Please state your name and/or preferred title."

Ringo seems slightly stunned, and I admit I am too. A robot? They have those down here? What? How? "... Ringo?" She finally says, sounding confused.

"Registered! Good evening Ringo?" Ruukoto repeats Ringo's name with the same confused upward inflection. "How may I assist you?"

"Uh, could you show me where to put this thing?" Ringo asks, shrugging her shoulders lightly to hold the drone up a little more.

"Scrap metal can be located in row E, columns fourteen and fifteen, I would be happy to show you to them if you would like," Ruukoto turns to gesture deeper into the warehouse, and I notice a few large yellow shapes on her back. A radiation warning symbol?

"It's not exactly scrap metal, but sure," Ringo still seems a little put off, but moves forward to go along with this robot maid. "Sumi, can you grab your part off of here again?" She asks when the leg shifts suddenly, threatening to fall off.

Sumi grunts and steps over to Ringo, grabbing the broken piece off of Ringo's load. "Ah!" There's that gasp again from Ruukoto. What is it this time? "Individual not registered! Unauthorized access detected in the storage facility!"

It turns out that Ruukoto has to run through her process for each new rabbit individually. That means detecting an unauthorized person, being told it's okay by Sanae, introducing herself, getting the person's name, then asking them how she can help. Five times total. Also she always pronounces each person's name the exact same way that they say it originally, so I guess Ringo's name now ends with a question mark. I'm already seeing why Sanae said we would need to be patient with the janitor here.

Still, after all that, she does successfully lead us to a place where we can leave the drone parts. She even briefly explains the organization system that the storage facility uses while we walk. Yuzuki seems very interested in that, but I kind of tune it out. I don't plan to be looking around in here much unless we have to, and I'm sure that Yuzuki can handle it if we do.

"Alright," Ringo says, stretching her arms happily now that they're finally free from having to carry things. "Where to next?" She asks.

"Hold on a second," Sanae says, suddenly looking intently up and to the side. She folds her hands in front of her and concentrates on something.

"Talking to the boss?" Chiyo asks, figuring it out much more quickly than me. Oh, okay, she's connected to Kanako by religious something or other.

"Hm," Sanae confirms Chiyo's question before quietly listening for a bit longer. When whatever communication she's using ends, she lets out a small sigh. "Apparently I was supposed to take you to drop off your things," She says. From her tone, it sounds like she wasn't told that beforehand, but was expected to just know. "Lady Kanako is already expecting that you're ready to meet our head researcher in the library and records room. So either we go straight there now, or we drop your stuff off now and keep them waiting."

"What's the problem with going there now?" I ask. That would be the best way to make a good first impression, right?

"If you show up with backpacks full of stuff from your camp, our head researcher might get a little bit curious and want to see it. She's a scientist and you're aliens. She's going to want to know if you have any new technology and stuff," Urgh, that does sound a little bit unpleasant. I don't have anything that bad in here, but I would kind of like some privacy. "I don't know what all you brought with you, but I know I wouldn't want my stuff to get examined."

"Yeah, fuck that," Sumi decides quickly. "My shit is my shit, it's not some egghead's stuff to gawk at. If we really gotta see them right now, why not just have the beep boop do it?" She jerks her thumb at Ruukoto, who has been patiently waiting for us to do... Something.

"I would be happy to help!" Ruukoto immediately assures us. "We have dollies available for supply transport through the facility if required," I'm not exactly sure if we can rely on her though.

[ ] Go straight to the meeting with Kanako and the scientist
[ ] Go drop the backpacks off now, Kanako can wait a little while
[ ] Ask Ruukoto to take everything to the dormitories
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[x] Go drop the backpacks off now, Kanako can wait a little while

She will definitely lose all our stuff or something. We can explain the reason of the delay to Kanako later.
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[x] Go drop the backpacks off now, Kanako can wait a little while

Just go fast.
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[X] Go drop the backpacks off now, Kanako can wait a little while

The world is not going to end by being late.
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[x] Go drop the backpacks off now, Kanako can wait a little while.

Kanako has only herself to blame.
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Update isn't going to be done tonight. Not going to rush it. Tomorrow.
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[X] Go drop the backpacks off now, Kanako can wait a little while

It's a little rude, so obviously I'm not going to say it out loud, but I don't have a lot of confidence in this robot we just met. No, isn't that just me being reasonable? I don't want to trust this girl that I don't even know with what few possessions I actually own. That doesn't sound rude at all. It sounds perfectly normal. No more rude than not wanting any of those possessions to be poured out of the bag and inspected as if they were all alien technology anyway. I guess that means I've made up my mind then.

"No, we can just go ourselves," I decide, pulling everyone's attention away from Ruukoto and back onto myself. "The library and records room was in the same direction as the dormitories anyway, we can make a quick stop on the way."

"And leave Kanako waiting?" You don't really sound like you care that much Yuzuki.

"I feel a little bad for saying it, but it's her fault isn't it?" I don't want to badmouth Kanako in front of Sanae, or at all really. It's just that I don't see what else she could have expected. "She could have told us or Sanae if she wanted us to be doing something specific. She didn't, so we had to do what we thought was best. It's not like any of us are mind readers, right?"

"No, not down here, that's a bit further up," Sanae giggles to herself a little bit at that. Wait, what? "But I agree. We can take a quick detour to your rooms, as long as it actually is quick."

"Alright, let's get moving then," Ringo's already brushing past the rest of us back toward the elevator, seemingly happy to be able to move without having to carry the drone anymore. I feel the same, even though my load had been much lighter. "See you later Ruukoto!" She calls back after a moment. Oh right, I had kind of stopped paying attention to Ruukoto. She was surprisingly inconspicuous once the rest of us had moved the subject away from her. Must be a maid skill.

"Have a good evening new guests! Please let me know if I can assist you during your stay!" Well, it doesn't sound like she's very upset at my lack of attention to her at least. Though I don't think she cares about much of anything now that she's getting back to her cleaning.

All of us rabbits and Sanae move back through the storage warehouse and onto the elevator. Sanae presses one of the buttons and the gate into the room starts to close. "So that girl was a robot?" We have a bit of a trip, so I figure I can make at least a little bit of conversation. "I didn't know that Gensokyo could make something advanced like that."

"We normally can't," Sanae assures me as the elevator starts to ascend slowly. Okay, glad we're not way off in our assessment of Earth technology then. "Ruukoto is a very special case. She was originally in the possession of some alternate dimension super scientist, but Reimu won her in some incident a long time ago. I don't know all the specifics, and Reimu doesn't talk much about stuff from that long ago, but apparently she just wanted someone to help clean her shrine. It takes a lot of work to teach Ruukoto new things, and she isn't actually that great at cleaning, so eventually Reimu got fed up with her. Poor girl was just gathering dust in a storage shed until I happened to find her one day," Sanae shakes her head and sighs wistfully. "Honestly, Reimu's so strange sometimes. She just sits on advanced technology without doing anything with it. An actual ROBOT! You can't just do nothing with something as amazing as that!"

"Yeah, not when the important job of sweeping up your underground warehouse is still unfulfilled," Chiyo agrees sarcastically.

"She sweeps other things too," Sanae giggles and moves to the other side of the elevator as it starts to slow to a stop. We're back at the top now, so that side should lead back out to the main hallway. "But yeah, we use her as a janitor because that's what she's built for. It would be cruel to deny a robot its purpose, right?" I'm not really well versed enough in robot brains to know if she would even care. "Do you guys have robots on the Moon?" Sanae suddenly asks as the door/gate of the elevator opens up.

Surprisingly, no. That's kind of why I was so shocked to see one here. The closest thing I've seen would be the drone, but I'm still not completely sure on if that was remotely controlled from the capital or if it was autonomous. "I don't think that Command ever bothered making something like that," I answer vaguely since I'm not exactly sure. "It's not hard to imagine that they could if they wanted to though. She didn't seem that advanced compared to some of the other stuff back home," I'm defending Command without thinking here, but I probably don't have to. It's not my problem that we didn't have intelligent robots back home.

"Her AI is fairly simple from what we can tell," Sanae agrees, stepping back out into the hallway. "That's why she fixates on things easily and it's difficult to teach her new things. Her body is the really amazing part."

"Didn't seem that impressive to me, kinda small and flat actually," Sumi laughs and makes a kind of up and down motion in front of her chest... Wait, don't talk about that! "Well different people have different tastes I guess."

Sanae looks about as flustered as I feel, which is just a little bit. "Oh no! I was talking about her being nuclear powered and stuff!" She quickly clarifies, shaking her hands defensively. "It was a big leap forward for our scientists to have something so advanced to model off of. She'd be a huge help to us even if she wasn't also keeping the place clean."

"Well she isn't doing that last part all that well," Yuzuki points out. I didn't think anything particular was that dirty down in the storage area, but I guess Yuzuki would know better than I would.

"She does her best, so we don't mind if she's not perfect. It's still better than nothing," Sanae says happily before turning to go back the way we originally came.


The trip back through the hallway to the first intersection goes a bit faster than the trip from there to storage. Partially because we don't stop at all, but also because Sanae leads us with a slightly quicker stride. Well, we do want to get somewhere soon, so I don't blame her. Chiyo's having a tough time keeping up though, what with her shorter legs and much bigger backpack. Poor girl. I'd help if I could but there isn't really anything I can do about it.

Once we get back to the main intersection (at least I assume it's the main one from what I've seen), we keep going forward past our original point of entry. This way is just a bit more of the same, an otherwise boring hallway, but it doesn't take long until Sanae leads us through an open doorway into another stairwell. This one is obviously smaller, and a bit less ruggedly constructed, but the downside of that is that there isn't an opening for us to fly up or down. We have to take some more stairs. Ugh.

Okay, it's only five flights of stairs this time. That's a lot less than the last one. It doesn't make my legs feel any better to know that they've got it easier now, but at least I don't have to start complaining.

We get up to the top of the stairs, and the whole place opens up into a much wider and more comfortable living area. There's even carpet up here instead of the plain tile floors we've been seeing. I'm assuming this is meant to function as some kind of common area for the dormitories. On either side of the stairwell's opening is a large sitting area that curves behind us and around the stairwell we're coming up from. The far corners of the room are occupied by an open kitchen area (complete with a refidgerator and microwave) and a dining area. Between those two corners is another hallway with a bunch of doors on either side, which are probably the bedrooms themselves.

"Hm, it doesn't look like many residents are around right now," Sanae observes as she crosses the room and heads into the hall of doors. The rest of us follow along with varying degrees of interest. It's not just 'not many' residents. We're the only ones here. "Not that this place is ever that full of people anyway."

Sanae pauses four doors down the hallway and turns to the room on her left. She pauses for a moment, glancing up at the room number before nodding to herself and opening the door. "There are five of you, and I know we should have at least three rooms open, so it should work out okay," She begins, flicking on a nearby light switch. It's... Hm. It's a little plain and not very impressive, but it's obviously meant to just be functional rather than impressive. The whole room is rather narrow, with just enough room for two or three people to walk down the middle. On the right side there are two beds, separated by a medium sized dresser. On the opposite side across from each bed is a simple desk, separated by a standing wardrobe. It feels like there should be a window on the far side, but I guess even if there was we wouldn't be able to see anything. We're still underground.

This kind of room might actually end up giving us less room to move around than in our tents, but I don't really mind that all that much. I can live with this just being a place to sleep, and there are even REAL BEDS here. "All the rooms are identical, so just set your stuff in one randomly for now, you can decide for yourselves how you want to handle the rooming situation. This room and the next two should all be open, but any of the others might be occupied by somebody else, or at least their extra stuff," Sanae continues.

Ergh, I definitely feel anxious about the prospect of a roommate, given my whole dreaming situation. I guess we can put it off for now, but that's just another thing I'm going to have to worry about. Maybe the others will let me have a room to myself if I ask nicely. For now, I move into the room and drop my backpack on the nearest bed. The mallet obviously stays with me though. Once the other four have also dropped off their things, Sanae grabs the key to the room off one of the desks and hands it to Ringo, who shoves it in her pocket. Well at least it looks like we'll be able to have some privacy and keep our stuff locked up.

I wouldn't mind having a chance to look around a little, but we're still trying to hurry, so we head straight out of the room and back down the stairs. Ugh, more stairs. You know, with all the up and down we've been doing, combined with it being pretty warm and kind of stuffy down here, I don't really feel like I'm looking my best. I've been sweating a little bit and feel kind of gross. Combine that with us being late and I'm probably not going to be making the best first impression. Hopefully this head scientist person won't mind too much.

We exit from the dormitory stairs and continue further down the hall. Sanae continues to lead us, but doesn't stop to explain any of the doors that we pass along the way. I guess that means we're really out of tourism mode at this point. Kind of a shame. I can't really know which door corresponds with which of the signs I saw in the main intersection. Heck, I don't even know if they're in the same order. That seems kind of confusing. Why not label the outside of the rooms as well? Oh, Sanae's stopping here.

Sanae turns back and looks at us, I guess to confirm that nobody fell behind. Once satisfied, she turns to this new set of double doors (kinda like the cafeteria's come to think of it) and heads inside. Well, I don't know what to expect, but here we go.

The records room that we enter into feels a bit brighter than most of the previous areas. Probably from the shifting of wall colors from light beige to white. Really surprising color choices all around to be honest. Anyway, it seems like most of the room is taken up by long shelves full of binders and loosely bound books. There's also plenty of filing cabinets, some of which are so full they'd probably burst open if you tapped them in the wrong place. It looks like all this information storage goes back quite a way, and the room is quite large, but the main area of importance is still here near the front. Namely the table set up in front of a white board, where Kanako and some other woman are currently having a heated discussion.

"-but you have to keep in mind the ridiculous time constraint you're suggesting. I won't make a promise I don't know if I can keep. Quality, speed, or low cost. You can only reasonably ask for two, and you've already told me you need this done quickly," Wow, this woman is openly arguing with Kanako. That's not something that I've ever seen anyone else do, and I would definitely be too easily intimidated to try.

Kanako looks like she's going to fire back when she notices the six of us entering. "Ah, here you are," She says, her voice sounding a bit more calm than she looks. "That took a bit longer than expected. Did you encounter any issues coming down here?" She asks, more toward Sanae than anyone else.

"No, we got down here fine, you didn't tell me what to do with them," Sanae explains, moving across the room to stand near Kanako. It looks like there aren't enough seats at the table for everyone, so she's purposely not taking one. "We were over in the main storage room dropping the drone off when you contacted me."

"Er, did I not?" Kanako looks at the rest of us, surprised and maybe just a little bit embarrassed. "You'll have to forgive me, it's been an unexpectedly busy day. I've had to make a lot of sudden preparation in a short period of time," That's a little bit dismissive for an apology, don't you think? Sanae doesn't look that impressed with it either, but she's probably used to this. She doesn't press the subject, so Kanako quickly moves on. "Speaking of which, I would like to introduce you to our head researcher, Rikako Asakura."

The woman Kanako had just been discussing (really arguing) things with stands up at her name. Rikako is a tall, mature looking woman with long purple hair and a plain white lab coat. Hm, she's also got glasses too. That's something you almost never see back on the Moon. We have plenty of procedures for fixing imperfect eyesight, so most of the time glasses are only around because of some kind of magical power based complication. I guess they don't have that kind of stuff here though, so Rikako probably just doesn't have perfect vision. Must be tough.

Instead of saying something for herself immediately, Rikako instead walks over to us. "Hmm," She thinks to herself as she stops right in front of me. Err, do you have to stare at me like that? I'm not that strange, am I? Do I smell? I might smell after all the exercise and the heat and stuff. "They don't seem much different from Earth youkai," She finally concludes to Kanako after a bit more inspection. "Not to say that I don't believe your story."

"They've been posing as such for a few days, and had much longer than that to acclimate to our environment," You don't have to talk about us like we're not here Kanako. "Although I agree that residents of the Moon aren't as different as many would think," You'd probably piss a lot of lunarians off by saying that.

"Interesting," Rikako steps back to give me a bit more breathing room before gesturing to herself proudly and addressing us rabbits. "So, as Lady Kanako said, I am Rikako Asakura. I am the head scientist, researcher, and technician of this facility, and one of the greatest scientific minds in all of Gensokyo," It's kind of amazing that somebody can say all that about herself without sounding arrogant. She seems to be pulling it off though. "I've been informed of the issue you're currently facing and was just discussing with Lady Kanako how we would be going about achieving a solution."

"It didn't sound like it was going well," Ringo points out. I agree. In fact, it doesn't look like it's going that well either. There are a several random books scattered across the table for no obvious reason, and the white board behind our hosts is covered with hastily scribbled words, most of which are crossed out or partially erased.

"We are making progress," Kanako assures us, possibly noticing my eyes wandering toward evidence to the contrary. "As expected, Rikako agrees that both of my ideas are in fact feasible."

"Feasible with time, yes," Rikako cuts Kanako off. Wow, it's a surprising change of pace to have somebody who isn't acting overly respectful around Kanako. "Feasible in five days after today? Still technically yes, but with caveats that you have yet to give real solutions for."

"Regardless, you are claiming that either one is possible, correct?" Kanako continues with a smile.

Rikako grimaces as she walks over and sits back down at the table. "Calling something possible doesn't mean much. Anything can be made possible if you have the right approach," She says that line as if she's repeating something she's said many times before. "I simply need more information before I can promise anything."

"Well you're in luck!" Ringo declares triumphantly as she pulls up a chair. "We happen to be in the business of information," I don't think she's asking for exactly the same thing as what we do for our jobs, Ringo. "What exactly are you guys looking at?"

"You had already brought up during our own meeting that there are two main avenues for getting to your capital," Kanako explains to Ringo, glancing up at the rest of us who are still standing in the doorway instead of joining the conversation at the table. "Either fly to the Moon and enter the Dream World from there, or enter the Dream World directly from here trough some other means."

"If it's simply about building something capable of launching you into space, that isn't the issue," Rikako cuts in, flipping open one of her larger books. It doesn't even look like she's reading it, she's just skimming it to have something to do with her hands and eyes while she talks. "We have a power source and plenty of information regarding rockets. Hell, Patchouli Knowledge was able to get people to the Moon in a stack of wooden tubs powered by nothing but prayer. We can definitely do the same with the power of nuclear fusion at our disposal."

"That is, of course, not discounting the strength of a good prayer," Kanako adds, I notice Sanae nodding at that.

"Sure," Rikako dismisses Kanako's interruption thoughtlessly and continues on. "The issue that we're struggling with is setting up a return trip. You guys may be able to just stay at the capital, but Sanae can't. That complicates things by necessitating that you find a way back for her."

"In the worse case scenario, that is," Kanako interrupts again. Wow, I imagine these two were going back the whole time that the rest of us were in the dorms. I don't know if it's better or worse that we got here late.

"That is the only scenario that sounds remotely reasonable," Rikako fires back, sounding a little bit exasperated now. "If I had the time and information for it, I could try to make something that would orbit around the Moon, yes. It could drop everyone off and eventually allow Sanae to board the rocket and fly back. However unless you have a ton of information regarding the physics and gravity of the Moon handy, that's not going to happen."

"Well... I don't really know about that stuff," Ringo hesitantly admits. "I at least know that the gravity and atmosphere on the Moon was created along with the capital and wasn't there originally, but that's about it.

Rikako abruptly stands and writes down the words 'artifical gravity' and 'artificial atmosphere' on the board. I don't see how that helps though, considering that board is a disorganized mess of words and scribbles. "Pretty much as expected then," She mutters to herself. "And it's most likely different between the real and fake Moons, so that means..."

Rikako gradually gets quieter as she talks to herself, so I decide to move the conversation along. "What about the other way back? The one where we enter the Dream World first?"

Rikako breaks out of her silent brainstorming instantly, spinning back around to face the rest of us. "That's also filled with questions," She tells us simply. "Our head engineer, Rika, is the only one here who has experience doing anything Dream World related, and even that may not end up being applicable. The Dream World is multi-faceted, so we don't know exactly what we're dealing with until we know what part of it we're talking about."

"That is actually what I needed to call on you all for," Kanako explains, standing up as well. Oh, is the meeting coming to an end already? "Rikako and I hope to make a decision on this matter by noon tomorrow, though sooner would obviously be better. I will need some number of you available tomorrow morning to either escort Rika to your portal so that she can examine it, or more ideally gather the device up and bring it back here."

"Once Rika has had a look at it, she'll hopefully know what's involved in going that route. From there we can decide what path is most worth spending the next five days without sleep on," Rikako laughs dryly. I'm not even sure if she's actually joking. Hopefully she is.

Actually, this is kind of surprising. Following the pattern we've been going on, I was expecting to have to make a big decision about this right now. Instead it looks like Kanako and Rikako are planning on taking charge of that once they've gathered all the information they need. I'm weirdly not sure if I like the idea that we're not in control of this kind of thing now. Maybe I've gotten too used to not having anyone giving us orders for the past few days. "So why did you need us here right now?" I ask. "You could have just told us that through Sanae."

"I had originally thought that this would be a good chance for you to meet the people who you would be working with over the course of the week," Kanako explains, looking a little bit embarrassed again. "But Rika left at some point during the discussion while we were waiting for you to join us."

Translation: Rikako and I were arguing and we didn't notice Rika leaving. "I see..."

"So that means we're free for the rest of the night then, yeah?" Sumi asks, sounding hopeful. "Long as some of us are up tomorrow morning?" I kind of have a feeling that she doesn't include herself in that group.

"Yes you're free to do as you please within reason," Kanako says. I can already see Sumi inching toward the door. I think she wants to go exploring. "You don't have full run of the facility, however restricted areas are clearly marked. I'll be informing security about you shortly, so you'll be free to come and go within the underground as well. Just keep in mind that it can be difficult to keep track of time down here. The plant has plenty of clocks, but the palace and city do not."

[ ] Go exploring somewhere (Where?)
- [ ] Ask Sanae to be tour guide
[ ] Stay here and talk to Rikako some more
[ ] Follow and talk to Kanako
[ ] Talk to one of the other rabbits (Who?)
[ ] Head back to the dormitories
[ ] Something else (What?)

Feel free to mention it if you want to talk to anyone about anything specific, though not doing that is fine too. You have free time here.
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[x] Follow and talk to Kanako
-[x] Mention the vampire deal option.
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[X] Go exploring somewhere (Where?)
-[X] Find Yamame or her webs
-[X] Ask Sanae for directions

I don't know if there's enough time, but I really want this to happen. It might be hard for Seiran to find her way unless she flew back to the surface then went underground the usual way.
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[X] Go exploring somewhere (Where?)
-[X] Find Yamame or her webs
-[X] Ask Sanae for directions
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[X] Take a shower
[X] Go exploring somewhere (Where?)
-[X] Find Yamame or her webs
-[X] Ask Sanae for directions

We're still sweaty and gross from walking around this place. We can't go out on a date like that!
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[x] Yamame option
- [x] Shower first

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I am perfectly okay with this idea and am not surprised that people are jumping at it. It has been like 9 months or something since the date was first offered. Seiran is kind of far away from Yamame right now though, so it might take her a bit to navigate from what is basically the bottom of the underground to almost the top.

Just so everybody knows, I am going to be moving to a new apartment in the middle of February. Definitely no update on the 16th and 20th while I settle things, and possibly the 13th or 23rd as well depending on how things go.

Basically there may end up being an awkward pause in any potential spider date due to author real life shenanigans. Please understand.
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[X] Take a shower
[X] Go exploring somewhere (Where?)
- [X] Find Yamame or her webs
- [X] Ask Sanae for directions

"Aight, free time sounds like a good time," Sumi says, already half way out the door. "Peace bitches! Have a lovely night!" Aaaaand she's gone.

The people in the room who aren't so used to Sumi sit in what is probably a stunned silence. The rest of us who are used to her attitude aren't stunned at all, just a little bit unsure of what to say. What a... Pleasant person," Rikako finally mutters out, not sounding sarcastic even though we all know she is.

"Yyyeah, don't worry about it. Sumi's just like that," Ringo laughs it off, but doesn't get anyone to join in. At least I don't think anyone's actually insulted by Sumi, just surprised. I hope so anyway. "I think she's realized that this place is going to be dark regardless of the time, so we don't have to stay in when the sun goes down. You give her a new environment and free time, she's gonna look around as soon as she can. Can't really do much about it."

"You are a military unit, correct?" Kanako asks evenly. "You should have the authority to keep your people in line," Yeah, you tell her!

"Eh, true enough," Ugh, it's not true if you never actually apply that authority Ringo! Well, I guess it's fine for now anyway. Sumi isn't the only one that's a little bit curious about heading out of the plant to look around. Actually, I have something of a specific destination in mind. Or at least a person that I could go see.

"Excuse me," I pull the focus off of Ringo's lack of discipline again, which I'm sure she's happy about. Convenient how this always seems to happen with her, isn't it? "How long of a trip is it from here to the underground capital?"

"We are significantly deeper than it is, but none of the tunnels or passageways are so small that you can't fly there. It takes around a fifteen to twenty minute flight to make the trip from here to the center of the city," Kanako explains. Oh, so about how long it took to get here from the shrine? Not that bad at all. "Why?"

"I figure that Sumi is probably going to try to go there," We did tell her about the underground city when we brought her back up to speed on everything that happened before we rescued her. She seemed interested in the idea, but obviously never got a chance to check it out until now. "Honestly I'm a little curious myself," I also admit.

"So maybe we can grab her and turn it into a full tour," Ringo suggest happily, turning toward Sanae with a bit of a hopeful look. Sanae isn't balking at the suggestion but I still feel like you're abusing some of her hospitality there Ringo.

Honestly, I was hoping to avoid having too many more people coming along. I'm already embarrassed about my what I'm planning to do, and would rather like to avoid having more people around that I have to lie or sneak around. Maybe I can still make this work though. "I kind of need a shower first, and I don't think Sumi will wait that long," I say, a little bit embarrassed about the bad shape that I'm in. Nobody has commented on it, but I still feel gross. "You should go off with her now if you're going to try and keep track of her. I'll catch up with you guys later," There, that seems like a perfectly reasonable way to excuse myself for going it alone.

"Without knowing the area?" Yuzuki asks. Oops. "How are you going to find each other?"

"Oh, I can help with that too!" Sanae volunteers. "I can go with Ringo and Sumi for now, then we can decide on a meeting place. I'll come back before Seiran is done with her shower, then take her to them!" Wow, Sanae really is bending over backward to help us for this. If she's going to be so accommodating for us now, I guess I can't complain about any orders she has to give us in the future. They'll probably start with please, end with thank you, and be much more reasonable than orders we would get from anyone else above us.

"If you're gonna go that far, then you're coming along with Seiran afterward, right?" Ringo asks. "We could use someone around that knows the place, and then it can be the... Four?" She trails off, looking over at Yuzuki and Chiyo, who look doubtful and uninterested, respectively. "Yeah, four of us."

Sanae hesitates slightly. "Well I wouldn't be as much help as you think," She admits, rubbing the back of her neck with one hand. "I don't really spend much time in the oni's city. I have a very low tolerance for alcohol so..." Wait, nobody said anything about drinking. I at least wasn't planning on it. Although given what we've heard and seen about the oni so far, I guess it's a fair assumption to make.

"No, Sanae has work tomorrow, so she will not be out late tonight," Kanako cuts in, sounding a bit stern. Doesn't Sanae have work every day though? I wonder if she never gets to go out and have fun. Not that I'm one to talk. Aside from yesterday that is. "Similarly, if any of you are or are not heading to the city, I would encourage you not to drink. Especially if it is offered to you by an oni. Joining in with them has a tendency to get very out of hand very quickly," Speaking of yesterday, what Kanako is saying now is definitely something I learned yesterday from personal experience. That was just one oni and a bunch of other excitable youkai too. A whole city full of onis shoving gourds in your mouth... Yikes. "Avoid starting any fights for much the same reason. It wouldn't do to have you hungover or incapacitated should something come up tomorrow."

Well neither of those were things I planned on doing. Probably. It would have been a better warning for Sumi anyway, and she wasn't here to listen. Actually, it probably wouldn't have mattered. Listening to things she doesn't want to hear isn't Sumi's normal game plan. Still, we have to try. "Maybe you guys should get going and tell Sumi that," I suggest.

"Right-o. We'll go catch up with her and pick out a landmark to meet at. See you in a bit Seiran," Ringo laughs as she gets up from her chair and jogs out the door. Well she sounds excited. I kinda have to wonder if she'll listen to Kanako's warnings either. Ugh, this has potential disaster written all over it, and I don't know what I can do to stop it from becoming one. I'm also guilty of going along with it for my own reasons.

I turn to the two remaining rabbits in the unit. They both look unimpressed but knowing what I know about them tells me that it's actually two distinct flavors of unimpressed. "What about you two?" I ask. I don't want anyone to feel like they're being ignored. Even if Chiyo's probably used to not being actively involved in conversations.

"I thought it might help to stay behind and talk things over a bit more," Yuzuki answers, nodding her head toward Rikako. The head scientist appears to have lost interest in us rabbits, or maybe she was just too struck by an idea or something. She's intently reading through a very thick, old looking text book. She occasionally stops to scribble something down, usually for much to short of a time for me to believe it's a complete sentence. "After that I suppose Chi and I will take a bit more of a look around if we have time for it, then take care of sleeping arrangements, unpack, and get to sleep. I'm going to have to get up quite early to finish my morning routine and get back here," Oh right, the Hina thing. Honestly it doesn't seem like it's that huge of a difference compared to when we were at camp, but that's up to Yuzuki to decide how she wants to handle things. "It's looking like we may not end up having certain parts of our unit available for Kanako's assignment already."

Yeah, I had the same kind of worries. "Well you're expecting me to go AWOL, right?" I'm sure she has more faith in me than that, but I still ask before thinking about it.

"Yes, as long as you don't get caught up in someone else's pace," The qualifier on that kind of hurts, but considering last night... Yeah that's probably fair of her to say. If anything, I'm the one that's being unfair. I'm asking her to believe in me when I'm actively thinking about sneaking off and do my own thing.

I say some simple goodbyes to everyone still around, then leave the records room and head upstairs. I need to grab my towel and get in the shower. Sanae will be back and waiting for me in a half hour to fourtyish minutes. That should be enough time to get myself looking presentable.


Well, turns out that the restroom in the hallway doesn't actually have a shower. I have to duck back into the records room and ask, but that's fine. Kanako directs me to a bathroom inside the dorms which actually does end up having a real shower. A real shower that is way way way way nicer than any the portable thing we had been using. It honestly feels better than pretty much any shower I can remember having in a long long time. Or at least that's how it feels. Maybe I just forgot how to have nice things. Man, this actually has me getting kind of excited to eventually being able to sleep in a nice fresh bed too. Although I did already do that for a bit this morning. Whatever. I still have a bit more I want to do tonight before that.

Basically, I have a... Well, a date.

That's still a crazy thing to think to myself. Well, maybe not that crazy I guess. Just new. And weird. Not really crazy. The rules about fraternization were probably the most commonly broken ones by rabbits back home. I saw and heard plenty of things that confirmed that, just never joined in myself. I've known for a long time that I like girls, and there were plenty of girls around, so if things had worked out differently, then maybe I would have tried dating and stuff before. I just wasn't really that interested before. At least not enough to risk getting in trouble. It's also kind of hard to get close to people when you know any screw up is just going to reopen the rumor mill about you over comms.

Or maybe those are just excuses. I do make a lot of excuses for myself in a lot of things after all. I'm still trying to work through that. At least I decided this morning that I want to do better. I'd like to think that I'm already making progress too. Today I made it a point to try and avoid just sighing at dumb stuff, and instead worked to make them better. That's with or without Ringo's help too. I may not be the best at talking to people yet, but I can at least say that I'm getting things done. Just look at where we are now!

Well, in terms of progress that is. Don't look at this place specifically. This is just a bathroom. A very large and very nice bathroom with several shower stalls and sinks, obviously made big enough to accommodate an entire floor of dormitories, but still a bathroom. This is actually the second bathroom today that's making me feel strangely introspective. Staring at my towel wrapped self in the mirror (luckily nobody else is in here or I would definitely be a lot more modest) and thinking about what I'm doing and how to do it better. I probably shouldn't make a habit of this. It'd be a big hit on my productivity if I spend every morning and/or evening contemplating my own usefulness. Speaking of productivity; I probably need to hurry up and get dressed to go. Sanae was going to go and come right back, so after spending so much time on a (really really nice) shower, I probably don't have much time left to stand around.

Once I've dried off and dressed myself, I have to stop back in the room where everyone dumped their stuff off to leave my towel. Hm, there isn't really anywhere to hang this up. Umm... I'll just make do by opening the door to the wardrobe and draping it over that. Oh yeah, speaking of wardrobe, maybe I should change my clothes back to the ones I borrowed from Merlin this morning. People were saying I looked cute in them. Looking cute is important for this kind of thing. Even I know that much.

Actually, no. The others would ask questions about the change. I'm already not sure about how I want to deal with them even being there. I might be somewhat interested in the city, but I'm primarily going out to try and meet up with Yamame. The others being there is kind of... I don't like it so much. Really I know this shouldn't be a big deal, I could just be honest and tell them what's happening. I just really don't want to. I don't want people to make fun of me or talk about me behind my back or... ugh. Let's just leave those kind of thoughts alone.

Okay, just a quick step back into the bathroom to double check how I look. I'm still cute, right? Yeah, I look fine, I need to go see if Sanae's back yet.


Err, maybe a third check won't hurt.


An embarrassingly large number of checks later (I'm NERVOUS okay?) I find Sanae at the foot of the stairs to the dormitories. It doesn't look like she just got here. Oops. Okay, try to be thankful rather than sorry. It's more positive that way.

"Hey, thanks for waiting," I say, trying to sound cheerful.

"Not a problem," Sanae stands up straight, moving off of the wall she had been leaning against. "I wasn't waiting for that long, plus, I want to be a good host! It's not every day that you get to make friends with aliens!" She's got that same bright attitude that she had when we first came by the shrine today. Like she's just happy to have the chance to be around me and my alien-ness. It's kind of weird to be honest. I think I'm normal. Coming from the Moon doesn't make me some kind of monster or anything.

Still, Sanae is being really helpful and nice to all of us, so I guess I can put up with her describing me in a way that I definitely wouldn't describe myself. If it makes her excited to think of me as an alien she can do that. I guess. It's still weird though.

The two of us head back down the main hallway, going the same direction as the cafeteria and storage area. I ask about flying, but Sanae tells me that she'd like a little bit more room before lifting off. I don't think this hallway is all that cramped, but maybe humans just aren't that good flying compared to youkai. I know that most of them can't do it at all.

Once we pass by the storage area, I notice the area gradually getting warmer again. I'm in a better situation than earlier, so I probably won't sweat too much, but I'm still worried about it. What if it gets even hotter the further we go? "Er, we're not going into an oven, right?" I try to phrase my question as light-hearted as I can.

Sanae laughs, probably more to be polite than anything else. "If you wait a little bit you'll see. We should be hitting the area soon," I look a bit further down the hallway. What area? I think I see some windows there but what does...


On the right side of the hallway are a series of thick glassed windows. They reveal a gigantic cavern all around us, illuminated brightly by the walls and floors outside. Everything out there is on fire. Well, not everything. Maybe more like seventy-something percent of it. The remainder seems to be a few naturally formed stone pathways, although a lot of that appears to be sinking into some goopy looking orange reddish stuff.

"Welcome to the Remains of Blazing Hell," Sanae is remarkably cheerfully given what she's actually saying. Most of the plant is built into the stone around it, and suspended above all of the fire and stuff down there. We only had so much room to work with though. We had to peek out a little bit for this segment of hallway, so it tends to get a little bit toasty."

I'm not really listening that well. "What is all that stuff?" I ask stupidly.

"Hm? Oh right. Ringo already said that you don't have volcanic activity on the Moon, right?" Sanae asks, barely paying attention to the outside. "You've never seen magma before."

"I don't even know what that word means," I admit, still trying to get a good look out of every window we pass.

"Right," Sanae nods with a light shrug. "Well, don't worry too much about it. Basically the Earth has a lot of energy inside of it, which means a lot of heat. Magma is just melted or melting rock inside the Earth. That's what you're seeing there."

"Uh huh," I feel like I just got the most basic explanation that I could possibly get, but I guess it doesn't matter that much. Just as long as I know what I'm looking at and if I need to worry about it, that should be good enough for now. "And what about all those floaty things?" There aren't a lot of them, but occasionally I can see a pale bluish blog like thing floating around in the air. They look kind of out of place around all this fire.

"Those are vengeful spirits," Sanae explains, sounding a bit less happy now. I guess she doesn't like them ruining the ambiance. "This area is connected to what used to be Hell, and part of the process that keeps the fires burning can produce spirits like that. They're nasty little ghost things that are angry about not getting proper rest. They'll usually try to attack living things out of spite and possess them or suck their spirit out or other creepy stuff."

Yeesh. "That doesn't sound like something I want anywhere near me."

"They won't be," Sanae proudly assures me. "Everything down here is well warded by the goddesses of the Moriya shrine. We've never had a single one get in here. As long as you don't go down there," She gestures to the side and back a bit. It looks like we just passed a door of some kind. I guess it's a way to enter this sea of flames. As if anyone would ever want to. "You should be fine."

There's a bit more of a concern that I think Sanae just glossed over though. "You warded here, but what about the rest of the underground?"

"That would take a long time and a lot of wards. We can't really maintain something like that," Sanae seems to shudder at the amount of work it would require to set that up. I don't know the specifics, but it's probably not something I can understand. Just a shrine maiden and/or goddess thing. "It's still taken care of though. Part of Miss Kaenbyou's job is to keep track of them throughout the rest of the underworld. She works real hard at it and everything generally works out. You almost never hear about vengeful spirits being a problem anymore."

"Almost never?"

"Well... There's always some danger no matter where you are in Gensokyo. That's part of what makes it exciting!" Yyyeeeeaah. Okay. That's Sanae's opinion on it at least.

And Kanako called coming down here relatively safe...

A bit further along, the windows end and the heat gradually begins to die down. From what Sanae said, that must mean that we're back into the solid rock around the plant, rather than hanging off of it. I definitely feel safer already. Although I am wondering... Oh wait, no, here we go. The Hallway takes a sharp incline up, turning into more stairs. I knew this was coming at some point. It's been pretty well established that we have to go up to get to the city.

As we reach the foot of the stairs, the pathway widens a bit, so Sanae lifts of and drifts upward. Oh good, that means I don't have to climb more stairs myself. Score one for laziness and another for not making a mess of myself and looking gross again when I go on my uh... Date. Still working on thinking that with a straight face.

I quickly notice that the hallway is a lot less uniform and seems to twist and turn slightly as we go upward. Sanae starts explaining before I can remark on it. "This hallway was formed from the path of least resistance going down through the ground. There was a natural tunnel from near the Palace of the Earth Spirits to the Remains of Former Hell, so we mostly just built with it.

After more than a few minutes of just going up the stairs (I think more than half of the time estimate that Kanako gave us has just been stairs actually), the hallway finally levels out again. Here it just kind of... Ends. There's an abrupt cut off covered by a large gate, much more rugged looking than the modern interior. Off to the right side is a door, as well as a small window. I think that's probably the security that Sanae mentioned earlier.

Sure enough, Sanae quickly walks over to the window and starts chatting happily with the man inside. Okay, that guy is much more in line with what we were briefed to expect an oni to look like. Huge and muscular, horns, the barely fitting security guard uniform isn't quite the same, but it's not unexpected given the circumstances. Sanae waves me over and let's the youkai inside get a good look at me.

"A'Righ," The oni writes my name and a short description down with a pen that looks like it's going to snap in a few seconds. "You're clear to come in an' out. Jus' push the buzzer near the window either way," Well this went smoothly. From my experience getting clearance for stuff usually involves a lot more paperwork. I guess Sanae just happens to be the right kind of connection to skip over a lot of it.

"Thanks Nobu!" Sanae says happily as the gate start to rise. Okay, now we're in somewhere a bit more familiar. Dark (aside from the light of the hallway behind us and the booth next to us), earthy, a little echoey. It looks like there are a few different pathways leading out of this small cavern. A couple of them even seem to have some lights in them, though they're kind of far away.

"If you go that way," Sanae gestures off to a passageway immediately to our right. "You'll get to the Palace of the Earth Spirits. You don't really need to go there, and probably won't ever need to, but just in case. That's where it is," Sure I guess I'll log that bit of knowledge away then. "The way you'll want to go is there," She points out another opening a bit to the left.

"Er, is it going to be dark the whole way?" I ask. Just another thing to be nervous about. Maybe I should have brought a flashlight with me.

"No, once you get a bit into it there's a bunch of cool mushrooms that light up a lot of the path," Sanae seems to once again be excited about something that seems kinda silly to me. Well, we don't really have glowing mushrooms back home either, but I don't think I'd be excited about them anyway. I really doubt they give off that good of light.


"I can just tell you what landmark you're looking for. Or if you need me to I can take you the rest of the way there," Sanae offers, obviously seeing my hesitation.

Well, that might be handy, I'm a little concerned about getting lost or running into a wall or something down here. Sanae would definitely help with that. She might complicate things a little bit. On the way up here I had kinda been planning on pretending that I couldn't find the meeting place and instead going straight away to look for Yamame. That would let me avoid having to answer any awkward questions and keep this whole date (Hah! I thought it normally that time!) thing private. I can't really do that if Sanae is making sure that I make it to the meeting spot.

I glance back and forth between Sanae and the path she pointed out indecisively. Don't want to have to talk to the others but also don't want to go through dark unknown caverns by myself but also don't want to mess up or not go on the date even though Yamame isn't even expecting me and uh... Wow I am really a nervous mess already. The date hasn't even started. Hoooooo boy. Can I even do this?

[ ] Ask Sanae to help guide the rest of the way
[ ] Tell Sanae she doesn't need to help

[ ] Go to the meeting spot and talk to Ringo and Sumi
[ ] Skip going to the meeting spot and look for Yamame's place directly
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[x] Tell Sanae she doesn't need to help
[x] Skip going to the meeting spot and look for Yamame's place directly

Don't. Panic.
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[X] Ask Sanae to help guide the rest of the way
[X] Go to the meeting spot and talk to Ringo and Sumi

It's fine, Seiran just has to find a way to ditch them.
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[X] Ask Sanae to help guide the rest of the way
[X] Skip going to the meeting spot and look for Yamame's place directly

You can do it Seiran!
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[x] Ask Sanae to help guide the rest of the way
[x] Go to the meeting spot and talk to Ringo and Sumi

I want to see if Ringo gets jealous.
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[X] Tell Sanae she doesn't need to help

[X] Skip going to the meeting spot and look for Yamame's place directly

Time for spiderbutt!
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[x] Ask Sanae to help guide the rest of the way
No getting lost!
[x] Skip going to the meeting spot and look for Yamame's place directly
Time to have fun by ourselves for once!
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[X] Ask Sanae to help guide the rest of the way
[X] Skip going to the meeting spot and look for Yamame's place directly

Just calm down for a second. Think. What do I want to do and how should I do it? Take one thing at a time. Worry less about the date. The date... OKAY! Not worrying! Moving on. Making progress.

I know that I'm planning on skipping out on meeting up with Ringo and Sumi. They'll be fine without me. In fact, they'll probably enjoy themselves more without me trying to slow them down or keep them from doing stupid stuff. While leaving them unsupervised may or may not turn out badly, it's not my job to keep track of them. They're big girls that are perfectly capable of making their own decisions. So am I. And I'm deciding that I'm going to go find Yamame.

Well that's the plan anyway. Actually executing that plan is another problem entirely. I'm at least ready to be realistic (or pessimistic) with my expectations. I have a pretty good chance of getting lost if I go it on my own right now. I don't know anything about the area, all I have to go off of was Sanae pointing in a general direction. A little bit more wouldn't hurt, but I don't need so much help that Sanae delivers me right to the meeting place.

"Maybe you could at least take me into the city," I suggest. It's not hard to sound slightly embarrassed over my own helplessness. I have a lot of experience genuinely doing that. "You don't have to stick around or anything though. You've already spent plenty of time helping us. I'm just a little nervous about navigating these passageways by myself," I'm not really lying about any of this, but telling the truth for deceitful reasons still feels shady. Maybe I should just be glad that I still haven't gotten used to being dishonest.

Sanae doesn't look bothered at all by my request. "The city isn't far, but sure," She raises her hand and traces a pattern in the air with her finger. A small glowing orb forms just above her hand, hovering there motionlessly. Oh, it's just a little magic light. Neat. That would be convenient if I had something like that. I have pretty okay low-light vision, so this area we're in right now isn't that hard to see in. That will probably change once we move away from the entrance to the plant.

Speaking of which, Sanae and her light have started walking toward the passage to the left that she pointed out earlier, so I should probably try to keep up. It just takes a few quick strides and I'm now just a bit behind and just a bit to the right of Sanae. Well, she has the light after all, no harm in letting her lead the way. Plus, she looks perfectly calm, even when the lights from the plant entrance disappear behind us.

These tunnels are... Well, they're pretty similar to the ones that Yuzuki, Chiyo and I navigated through back near the top of the cave. Plenty of loose rocks and cracks in the ground. Occasional twist or turn this way or that way. I'm pretty glad that I didn't have to stumble through this alone, although I suppose I'll probably have to on the return trip. At the very least from what I can see, there's only one real path to follow.

A short while later I start seeing some of those mushrooms that Sanae mentioned. Well, I don't really notice them that well at first just because Sanae's light overpowers most of the glow that they're giving off, but I notice them eventually. They start getting kind of dense on the walls. It would probably be much easier to see them if we didn't have-AH!

"Neat, huh?" Sanae asks proudly. Oh, okay. She meant to turn off the light. I was a little surprised there but now I can catch my breath. The edges of the top parts as well as the stems of all the mushrooms all around us are lit up with a kind of pale blue color. I do admit that it is kind of pretty, but I think Sanae likes it a lot more than me. Maybe I would appreciate the effect a little more if she had given me some warning and I didn't get stuck in a panic.

"Well, I've never seen anything like it," I say honestly. Even if I didn't sound all that impressed, Sanae seems pleased with my response. She creates another small glowing orb of magic or whatever and motions for me to start following her again. Alright. Hopefully no more surprises now. I'm already in a nervous enough state of mind.


A bit further along, the mushrooms start to thin out and we come across something new. Houses. Well, not really houses, but places that people are probably living in anyway. Most of them appear to be partially or wholly carved out holes in the walls. I can only tell that they're there because most of them have doors of some kind or another. Scrap metal, cloth, bits of wood, and lots and lots of stone are the main elements when things are actually constructed as additions to the holes in the walls. Honestly the place gives off this kind of shanty-town feeling, and I'm not sure exactly how comfortable I am with it.

"The whole city is kind of an urban sprawl. It's nothing compared to the outside world of course, but it's still expanding. I think this whole place might be bigger than the human village by now, although it weirdly isn't as populated," Sanae starts talking as I notice us pass by more and more homes. "Building up has an eventual limit here, so most expansion means building outward or further down instead. The city may be fun, but it never really calms down. The areas like this are here because of the demand for quiet places to sleep."

"Hm, that didn't really happen back home," The lunar capital is a big city too after all. Granted, we could build upward as much as we wanted, and we wouldn't have echoey caves making a lot of noise either. I guess the situations are a little different. Oh, we're probably better at sound proofing things as well. Hm, maybe I should have thought a bit more before pointing out the obvious.

"Some youkai also want a quiet place to go for privacy that won't get knocked down after a bar fight gone wrong," Sanae explains, sounding a little amused at the thought.

"Is that a normal problem?" I kind of get the feeling that she's not joking, but I still want to ask. "Buildings in the city just collapsing?"

"Well some oni or another is always going to be on a bender in the heart of the city. It's something most of the people who live here have gotten used to," How would you even get used to that? I would be even more of a nervous wreck than I already am if there was a random chance my house might fall on me while I was sleeping. "Apparently all the random destruction was really causing an issue with the price of building materials back when the underground was completely closed from the surface."

Yeesh. So random destruction is a common occurrence, the inhabitants are always drunk and partying, and the whole place never stops because there isn't a day/night cycle to tell them when to sleep. "This is starting to sound a little bit dangerous."

"It's been getting a lot better since we moved in actually, so it's not as dangerous as you would think," Well, I guess it's true that if we were in real danger, Sanae wouldn't have voluntarily lead us here. I can trust her that much. "As long as you're honest and reasonably friendly with them, oni are usually pretty safe to be around."

I catch some kind of youkai I can't identify staring at the two of us as we pass by her open window. She doesn't seem bothered by us that much, just curious. Actually, I've been seeing more and more people outside of their homes (caves) as we've been getting closer to the city. Their reactions to us have run the full mix from apathy to great interest. A couple of them have even waved at Sanae, who happily waved back when it happened. "And what about all the other youkai? Are any of them dangerous?"

Sanae considers the question for a moment before making a 'who knows' kind of shrug with her shoulders and hands. "Everyone down here is just trying to live their lives however they can. You can assume that most of them are down here for a reason though. It's usually not an issue with them individually so much as it is whatever race they're a part of. A lot of youkai used to cause a lot of trouble for humans. A lot of them still do too."

Even down here, people are just trying to live their lives. So it's pretty much the same as everywhere else we've seen above ground. Would we have ended up purifying all of this too? That doesn't really sit well with me, even if I hadn't known or agreed to it at the time. What gives us the right to purify and destroy everything they've built just to make room for our city to move in? I may only really know a couple people from down here, but they seem nice. At least nice enough that I agreed to meet with one of them when she asked me out.

Ugh, I had been kind of trying to keep my mind off of that. Honestly, while this whole trip has been a new and unique experience, I still can't shake the nervousness. Sanae talking and keeping my mind off of what's coming next has been pretty welcome, but then, that's true of everything that Sanae's been doing for us. She's really bright, cheerful, and willing to help with everything we've asked for so far. It makes her easy to talk to casually. I kinda wonder if she's always like this when she's not working or if I'm getting special treatment just for being an alien. Well, whatever works is fine with me.

The density, as well as the quality of the houses start increasing the further we go. I'm starting to see more porches in front of the caves. More fenced off areas with small gardens. I guess they're probably growing some of the stuff that Sanae mentioned back when we first saw the cafeteria. Must be tough to grow your own food. Agriculture was kept well out of public sight back home. I'm not even exactly sure where or by who the farming was done. In fact I-

Oh. Wow.

That was probably the exact thought that ran through my head last time I saw it, but this underground city has managed to impress me again just by seeing it from a different angle. The tunnel that we were going through ends abruptly, suddenly opening up into the enormously wide and tall cavern that houses the city itself. We're not at the ground level, being maybe something like fifteen to twenty meters above the floor of the city, but that just serves to give me an even better view.

The biggest thing that strikes me is the lighting. Yes, I notice the old Japanese architecture and the bustling noises of all the youkai moving around below, but I'm really more taken by the lighting. There are tons of paper lanterns and other red, yellow, and orange shades and hues. It makes the whole feel very warm and cozy. I kind of like it actually. Although it does contrast pretty heavily with the more cold mechanical lighting that I'm used to from the capital city back on the Moon. Maybe I'm just impressed because this is new and different. Dunno. Time will tell.

"Welcome to Former Hell!" Sanae loudly welcomes me, throwing her arms out and gesturing to the city enthusiastically.

"It's... Surprising," Even though I've already seen it from much higher up and farther away.

"Yup," Sanae agrees simply, taking a moment to look over the city silently before she continues. "I still remember the first time I came down here. I got so excited I started screaming and begging Lady Kanako to take me around to check out all the shops and see the sights. It took a lot of pleading and some promises, but once Lady Suwako joined in and helped me with the negotiations, I finally got my way. It was a lot of fun too."

It sounds like it'd be a fun story, and I'm kind of disappointed that I won't be making a similar one just yet. I still have someone I want to meet up with. Need to keep with my cover story first though. "So what landmark are the others waiting at?" I ask, looking over the cityscape curiously.

Sanae points off into the distance, a little down and a little to the left. "You can't really see it from here, but you really just have to follow the river," She explains, quickly ending her reminiscing and speaking clearly. "There's a pretty big river that runs through parts of the city. Sometimes it goes completely under the ground and sometimes you can see its surface. If you follow it along, there's a point where it goes underground just before one of the bigger marketplaces in the city. Right in the middle of that is a big fountain, with a couple of onis fighting carved on top. That's where I told Ringo and Sumi to meet you."

Even if I don't intend to use it, I still commit that to memory. Don't know if it'll come in handy. "Thanks for all of this Sanae," I am being completely honest with that at least. Just from time spent with her this evening, I already have a feeling that working with her is going to go well. Much nicer than other people we've taken orders from at least. "I can handle it from here so you can go back now. Kanako didn't seem crazy about us dragging you down with us."

"That's true. Well, it is a week night, so I wasn't expecting much leeway. Lady Kanako can be pretty strict like that..." "Anyway, just remember her advice and you should be okay."

Don't start drinking, don't get into any fights. Seems simple enough. "I'll keep that in mind," Well it shouldn't matter in an immediate sense, but I guess that the city is still a likely destination for the date. The original idea Yamame proposed was to show me around after all.

"Okay! Good luck! Have a good time!" Sanae calls out to me as she starts walking back down the tunnel. I stay still for a while and wave to her, then wait for a little longer. I'm glad she's so accommodating. This could have backfired if she had insisted on leading me directly to the meeting place.

Anyway, it's time to think about the next step. Yamame said that I need to find her webs and yell to meet back up with her, but that's kind of vague. I don't even know where to look. Even remembering what the city looked like when Yamame first showed it to me doesn't help that much. I was too far away and too unfocused to memorize any details that I could pick out from down here. Hmm, I guess there was that little house next to a bridge. Maybe I could look for that, then fly up from there.

Well whatever I'm looking for, it's going to be easier to find if I'm further up. I'll need to fly around a bit. Not too high or too obviously though. I could be seen by Ringo or Sumi, and that would bring up some awkward questions and ruin the cover story I've been making up for myself. When I get back to the plant, I'm planning on telling the others that I got absorbed by something interesting in the city (specifics to be determined later) and got lost before I realized it. Then when I finally found my way to the landmark, the others had given up waiting. This story is kind of banking on Sumi being impatient for it to work, but I don't think that's a bad bet to make.

I lift off and start flying over the city. I try to keep low and go at an even pace, staying just above the buildings, and try to give a wide berth to the center of the city. I'm just trying to get my bearings at this point. This place is huge, and continuing around like this only serves to show me that. There are even more offshoots into random tunnels and small caverns too. Even flying over it doesn't let me see the whole city.

Let's see... Seems like I'm mostly over a commercial district right now. Several restaurants, way too many bars, and open air stalls that seem randomly spread out. A lot of random gaps where it looks like there should be more people selling things. I guess if there isn't a defined day/night cycle, then everybody just makes up their own schedule. Must be hard to run errands if you're not on the same cycle as whatever shop you want to get stuff from.

Okay, I think this area is residential now. I would probably be more sure of that if there weren't still bars all over the place, but those seem to be the only places of business here. Or at least the only ones with signs. It also looks like fewer people are milling about and shopping here, so yeah, probably not commercial.

Hm, is that? Oh! Definitely shouldn't fly over that. That would be rude and inappropriate. Those are hot springs. Hm, hot springs. That sounds really nice, although probably not necessary given that I already had a shower less than an hour ago. Maybe some other time.

What is that huge circular stone building? Wait, is that an arena? Do they have some kind of sporting event down here? Actually, given how big oni (other than Suika) seem to be I guess that wouldn't be much of a surprise. They probably like doing physical stuff. Or maybe I'm stereotyping and they actually use it for plays or something instead. That would be interesting to see.

Woah, the lights are really red here for some reason. Wait, what does that sign say? Red-line? What does that mean?

Okay, I should be far enough now that I won't get seen if I float up a little bit. Probably. Actually, it just now occurs to me that if I went up high enough, the light would be dim enough and I'd be far enough away that nobody would be able to see me from the ground anyway. I could have done that in the first place. Crap. Well, at least nobody is around to criticize my decisions.

I quickly ascend up as high as I can go. Pretty close to it at least. I stop before I get to any of the pointy stalag... I forget which one is the word for pointy ceiling thing versus pointy ground thing. Whatever. Anyway, I use my new height to try and get a more complete view of things. Okay, the passage back to the plant should be that way, the fountain for the meeting that I'm not going to is over there. Wait, right, it's on a river! That bridge I saw the first time that we came down here was over a river too! I can just go upstream!

Finding the river isn't hard, I just have to look for the larger breaks between some of the buildings in the middle of the city. This should be easy to follow along with. Even if it disappears by going completely underground sometimes, I'm high up enough that I can easily find where it resurfaces. After a short flight, I've followed the river all the way to the outskirts of the city.

The cavern narrows considerably now, while the floor quickly slopes up. As it rolls down even more steep ground, the river obviously gets a bit more active. There are even some points where it drops off enough to create some waterfalls here. So I should be close. If I crane my neck up and squint a little bit... Yup, there's the bridge and the little house next to it.

Okay, I must be close to the area Yamame and I rappelled down now. It's just a bit further up. If I fly up and over the bridge then I should be able to... Actually, what will I do then? The couple of lights at the house by the bridge are the only lights this far away from the city. If I keep going up, it's going to get too dark for me to see.

Urgh, I'm so close. I know I'm really close, but I can't find webs if I can't see.

[ ] Just fly up until I get to the ceiling and call out. Hopefully that's close enough to a web for Yamame to hear.
[ ] Somebody is probably in that house near the bridge. They might be willing to help.
[ ] They've got plenty of lights down in the city. Borrowing one should be easy.
[ ] Sanae did some magic and made a light follow her earlier. Now might be a good time to learn how to imitate that.

Date of the next update is tbd. I would like to have something written at some point next week but you know, moving.

It sucks.
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[X] Sanae did some magic and made a light follow her earlier. Now might be a good time to learn how to imitate that.
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> [ ] Somebody is probably in that house near the bridge. They might be willing to help.

Parsee? Help someone meet up for a date? Pfffft.

[x] Sanae did some magic and made a light follow her earlier. Now might be a good time to learn how to imitate that.
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[X] They've got plenty of lights down in the city. Borrowing one should be easy.

It'll be fine if she puts it back after.
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[x] Somebody is probably in that house near the bridge. They might be willing to help.

Sanae was so nice, they probably will be too!
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[x] Sanae did some magic and made a light follow her earlier. Now might be a good time to learn how to imitate that.

Fucking magic, how does it work?
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[x] Sanae did some magic and made a light follow her earlier. Now might be a good time to learn how to imitate that.

If I am understanding Seiran's powers correctly, she can open up portals to alternate dimensions made entirely out of different kinds of bullets. If worst comes to worst, she should be able to open a portal to the flare gun dimension and make as much light as she wants.
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[X] Sanae did some magic and made a light follow her earlier. Now might be a good time to learn how to imitate that.
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Update tomorrow. Need one more day to get back into a normal schedule and back into the correct writing mindset. Then it'll be business as usual hopefully.
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[X] Sanae did some magic and made a light follow her earlier. Now might be a good time to learn how to imitate that.

Okay, let's take it easy and think about things here. No need to get frustrated. This is actually going just fine. I made good time on the way here, so there shouldn't be a need to rush through things. Just need to consider the problem here for a moment and I'm sure it won't be that hard to figure out a solution. Simple. Easy.

So I know more or less what I'm looking for. That's a good start. The problem is that I don't know where Yamame's webs are and I wouldn't have enough light to see them even if I could. Okay, that's fine. Solve that latter issue first, then wander around until the former gets solved too. Easy.

So I need light to see by first and foremost. I could head back down to the city and ask around I suppose. They've obviously got plenty of lights, and maybe if I asked nicely they could spare a torch or something if I promised to bring it back soon. The same thing applies to that little house by the bridge, assuming anyone is even in there. It might be better to avoid those options though. The fewer people there are that remember seeing me the better. It probably won't make any difference toward maintaining my cover story, but I guess my guilty conscience is just making me paranoid for whatever reason. Just the kind of feeling you want to have hanging over you at a time like this.

Anyway, if I'm striking out the option of getting help, that means I have to take care of things myself. Hindsight is telling me that I really should have brought a flashlight for this, but hindsight isn't going to be any help presently. I'll be able to groan at my questionable decision making later. Now is the time to be working on a solution instead.

Well, Sanae used some kind of magic for us to see by earlier. I should probably be able to do the same thing. Probably. I doubt a little glowing orb of light is an exclusive shrine maiden ability, and it looked pretty simple to my exceedingly untrained eye. I should be able to imitate it with enough thought. I'm a youkai after all, and one from the Moon at that. We're supposed to be somewhat powerful, or at least have a pretty decent amount of magic inside of us.

Of course, saying that I should be able to do something in theory isn't the same as saying that I can do that something. Just because you're really smart, that doesn't mean you'll be able to do rocket science just by seeing someone else doing it. There needs to be some kind of teaching involved unless you have ridiculous intuition. I don't have any kind of magical intuition, so I'm not starting out in the best place for this.

Honestly when it comes to magic, I was taught how to fly, and that was about the extent of it. Wait, no there's also danmaku. Oh! I can do something like that! Just need to make a bullet that gives off light. None of my normally memorized patterns have bullets that are purposely bright, but it isn't too much of a stretch to think of how I could pull that off.

Pow! Eep! Oh, right. I just shot it out without thinking, so it travelled out straight until it hit one of the stalag...whichever that is, then disappeared. It was bright enough to see by though. That's some amount of progress as far as I'm concerned. Needs some slight adjustments and...

Pop! Oh, perfect! Well, kinda. Sanae's version was obviously better. Hers stuck by her the whole time, and stopped when she did. Me, I've just managed to shoot out a very slow moving, very bright bullet. While it technically works and does what I need it to do, I don't really have any control now that I've shot it. Useful, but still not the best.

I refine my design a few more times, gradually getting closer to what I saw from Sanae. After a little more tinkering, I end up with what I think is a pretty good knockoff version. Honestly, this is probably a really easy spell that tons of people who know magic can do, but in my defense, we weren't really taught any magic for utility. We had technology for that. Heck, we only know danmaku because it's the normal rules of engagement down here. It's not exactly a standard part of the curriculum back home. I'm sure us rabbits would be perfectly fine at doing this type of magic if we had years of practice like I'm sure all of these Gensokyo people do.

Actually, I wonder just how powerful we are exactly. At least relative to the other people on Earth. We've done a pretty good job at managing to not escalate any conflicts, although it's more like we've been avoiding conflicts entirely. The result is the same though. While we're definitely safe by doing staying out of trouble, I don't have the best idea of what we would or wouldn't be able to fight against in the case of an emergency. Well, aside from fairies I guess. I think we'd be able to handle those.

Anyway, right. The search for Yamame's webs. Given that I can see now, should I just be looking at random parts of the ceiling or should I be looking for openings to go further up? I guess I'll just look around and go with whatever I find.

You know, we don't have spiders on the moon, but I've seen enough of them down here to get what they're about more or less. They put those webs up to catch food, right? Like, other bugs and stuff. That's gross, but is it the same thing with Yamame? What does she catch in her large, cave tunnel spanning webs? Aside from clumsy rabbits that is. She did mention humans before, but also explicitly mentioned that she doesn't actually eat them. She just scares them, knocks them out, and let's them go. Is that the whole point of the webs or is it just some kind of instinct? I guess I'm just curious about her and her life. Actually that's probably normal to feel curious about someone you're going to go out with soon, huh?

Oh hey, there's a hole up there. I've been floating along slowly just to make sure I don't miss anything, but aside from this I've just been seeing more stone ceiling. So this opening... I'm not going to say it looks familiar, since there could be any number of holes just like this all over the place. If you told me it was the same hole as the one that Yamame and I rappelled down a few days ago though, it wouldn't be hard for me to believe you. This seems promising. I'll try this.

Hmm, it seems that aside from the flat area that Former Hell is built on, the whole underground is really vertically oriented. I guess I kind of already knew that, but now I'm thinking about just how much up and down distance I've actually covered today. Up the mountain to the shrine, back down to camp, back up to the shrine, down the maintenance entrance, and now back up again but through the underground itself. A lot of movement, although I've been so busy with what's going on that I didn't really think about all that distance at the time. Aside from all the stairs that is. Honestly I'm a little tired after such a long day with so much travelling around, but I'm still feeling okay to continue. Okay, and a little nervous...

Oh, there's a web! It's just the remains of one clinging to the side of the saft, but I've at least found something now. I wonder if this is enough to count. My instructions on how to meet back up with Yamame were kind of unclear on that actually. If yelling near the webs works because of vibrations or some other kind of sense then this probably isn't sufficient. If it's just magic, then this might be enough.

Okay, stop worrying about it and just try it. I was told to do this. There's no reason to be embarrassed, nobody else is even going to be around to hear me yelling at possibly nothing and looking stupid. Actually, before I do that, how do I look right now? Could I double check again before I go through with this, just in case Yamame actually does show up? No, stop worrying about that too. Even if I've somehow became a mess, there's no way to check my appearance. Just stop stalling and do it.

"Yamame!" I yell out quickly before thinking of what exactly to say. It's something like jumping into the Maria back on the Moon. Sometimes it was easier to just jump in before you had time to think about how cold it might be. Er, not that I goofed off and went swimming all that often of course.

I struggle with my words for a second when there isn't an immediate response. Not that I'm expecting the webs to yell back, but I was kinda hoping for something. "So I don't know if now is a good time for you or if you're around or not. I didn't really have time to give you any notice or anything but uh, well I didn't know I was going to be in the area either so uh..." No, you're doing really good. Not awkward at all. Keep going, you are absolutely the smoothest. "I-I'm here is basically what I'm saying."


Okay, well uh... Did that work?


I guess that if it didn't, there wouldn't really be any indication. How long should I wait until I move on and look somewhere else?


Well, uh-


I jerk my head up to see a yellow and brown mass quickly dropping down toward me. Gah! Okay, scrambling out of the way isn't the easiest thing to do while floating in midair, but I manage to clear out of Yamame's drop path before she crashes down on top of me. Actually, given that I have to look up slightly just to look at her face, we might not have hit each other at all even if I hadn't moved. I'm okay with not taking the chance though.

Yamame looks much the same as before, although I don't think I had this good of light to see her last time. She's still wearing her poofy looking brown dress, although I'm kind of surprised how well it's keeping her modest given that she's now hanging upside down, bobbing slightly from the left over momentum of her drop down to me. Er, not that I would want to see anything inappropriate if her dress was more caring about the laws of physics! If anything, that would probably just make me even more embarrassed than I'm already feeling for some stupid reason.

"Hey!" Yamame sounds happy, and maybe a little bit surprised. She waves one hand down at me, although it's not really needed to get my attention. "You came back!"

"Y-yeah, um, hi," Great start, great start. Urgh, stop being so critical. Stop being so nervous. Just talk and get comfortable with doing so. Bring up a topic. Yamame is still hanging upside down, that's something I can comment on. "Er, are you okay like that? I can't really see if your legs are tangled up or something, but I can help if you're stuck."

Yamame looks confused for a moment, glancing up (or down if you think of it from her perspective) at her feet and then back down at me. "Hmm? Oh yeah. This is perfectly fine for me actually. I do this stuff all the time," She assures me. Why doesn't the blood rush to her head though? Aside from some of her hair getting in her face a little bit, she looks perfectly normal like this. "It's spider stuff. Have to be able to hang on your webs in all kinds of ways depending on how a build works out. It's pretty handy, makes me all flexible and maneuverable. Very nice."

I feel like I have to ask the obvious question here. "Can't you just fly?" I mean, I guess it's true that some people are better at flying than others, but dealing with gravity when you have the option of not doing so seems counterproductive.

"I can, yeah, but that has way less personality," Yamame's grin widens as she shifts her weight just slightly enough to start swaying back and forth a handful of centimeters. It looks kinda nauseating for me, but I guess hanging like that is normal for her. "Plus, dropping like this is a lot more fun than just floating down. I've actually been working on changing the composition of my webs lately to make them springier, so testing that out has become a bit of a pastime for me. I heard about this weird bun gee jump thing from the outside and wanted to see if I could imitate it," Her swaying slows down as Yamame seems to realize that she's digressing. "Anyway, that's not really the important part. What's important is that you came back!"

Well, she already said that once, although last time she sounded a bit more surprised than now. I guess it is true that I just kind of showed up out of nowhere. "Well I said that I would be willing to reschedule our um... meet," I don't know why I'm hesitating to say the word 'date' when she's the one that called it that in the first place. "But I didn't know that I would be here until recently, so I hope it isn't a problem that that I've just suddenly showed up like this."

"Oh no, of course not. I'm really glad you came by. I haven't had any visitors since you dropped in on me last time, and haven't had much reason to go down into the city either. Things have been a little dull for me lately. If you have time to hang out for a little while, pun intended, I'm not gonna complain," Yamame laughs at her own corny joke for a second, then corrects herself. "No, more than that, I'd actually be thrilled to have you!"

I feel my face heat up a little bit. That's going a little far, isn't it? "Thrilled? I don't think I'm that big of a deal," I mutter nervously, looking away from Yamame. What am I pretending to look at? Oh, my light, I'm checking on my light spell. Of course.

"Oh don't put yourself down like that," Yamame giggles again, and I hear her shifting slightly to "I actually love meeting people and showing them around normally, so the fact that I get to do that with a cute bunny girl is a huge bonus. Don't try to tell me to not be thrilled. Even if you did, I wouldn't listen anyway. So there."

Urgh, she's obviously having fun, but when she says it like that I feel like the pressure is piling up on me. I have to try and live up to her expectations without really knowing what they are. Or what I'm doing at all for that matter. I mean, come on, this is my first date and I don't want to say or do anything stupid and...

My thought process is stopped for a moment when I feel Yamame's hand on my head. Turning back to look at her, I see that she's reaching down (or up from her perspective I guess) and patting right between my ears. The light patting that she's doing actually is a little calming. Simple and effective, huh? It looks kind of awkward for her given the way that she has to twist her arm right side up so her palm can cup my head, but even that doesn't seem like it's bothering her. She's just smiling comfortingly down at me. "Hey, come on, you don't have to be all nervous," She assures me, moving just a tiny bit to scratch at the base of one of my ears before taking her hand away. "I won't bite. Unless you ask me to I guess," She laughs at that, but I don't get the joke. Why would I ask for something like that? "Anyway, I really am just planning on showing you around. You don't have to put any more thought into it than that if you don't want to," She pauses for a moment after that, considering something before she reluctantly continues. "Or we can just call it off if you'd rather do that. I don't want to force you into something if you're uncomfortable."

"No!" I immediately say, maybe a little too loudly. My nervousness doesn't mean that I don't want to go through with this, just that I'm not sure how to do it correctly. I know that I told myself that I wanted to give Yamame a chance and I meant it. I really am interested in this kind of thing. I don't want to give up on it before I've started just because of a (admittedly very intimidating) mix of social anxiety and dating inexperience. "Sorry, I'm just not used to this."

"No no, you don't have to be sorry. It's fine," Yamame casually assures me as she swiftly undoes the webs from her legs. She does a quick half flip, ending up floating next to me, now right side up. "Maybe it'll help if we actually go do something now. You have any idea on what we start with? You hungry? Want to get a drink? Feel like dancing? Shopping? Want to see some sights or just have a look around? Something else?" Yamame lists a lot of things off before realizing she's probably not helping by suddenly giving me a lot of choices. "Of course, I can lead the way instead if you don't have any preference."

Well, even from my quick fly-over of the city, I could see that there was a lot to do. All of those things involve actually going into the city though, which does carry some risk of getting seen by Ringo and Sumi. Either I have to hope that Yamame and I don't happen to go to the same place as them, or I have to suggest something to do outside of the city.

[ ] Go into the city
- [ ] Get something to eat
- [ ] Dancing?
- [ ] Just wander around
- [ ] See some sights
- [ ] Let Yamame lead the way
[ ] Stay out of the city for now
- [ ] Where does Yamame live?
- [ ] Get properly introduced to Kisume
- [ ] What's with that house by the bridge?

Truth be told, I still don't feel completely back into the swing of things, but not writing isn't going to fix that, so here I am again. Hi. Going to try and regain my Monday/Thursday schedule, though this next update might be tough depending on how voting/writing goes. We'll see.

This is technically true if Seiran happens upon flares while using her powers. She hasn't practiced getting specific things out of there on command very much. Using her powers for utility doesn't come to mind easily for her either, as she usually tries to ignore them as much as possible. Poor bunny with her complexes and all that.
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[x] Go into the city
- [x] Let Yamame lead the way

Awkward meeting with Ringo and Sumi? Count me in.
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[X] Stay out of the city for now
[X] What's with that house by the bridge?

Call me biased, but we did seem legitimately curious for a moment, and I want some Parsee in our lives.
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[X] Go into the city
- [X] Let Yamame lead the way

I am very happy about this.
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[x] Go into the city
- [x] Let Yamame lead the way
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[X] Stay out of the city for now
[X] What's with that house by the bridge?

Let's do a sightseeing tour first. Comedy rules indicate that it is better if they have built a rapport before it gets interrupted by jealousy shenanigans.
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So let me get this straight. Your plan is to postpone jealousy shenanigans, by heading straight to the bridge where the literal embodiment of jealousy lives? I'm not sure how far you've thought this plan through, but it seems a bit counterproductive.
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[X] Stay out of the city for now
[X] What's with that house by the bridge?
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[X] Stay out of the city for now
- [X] Where does Yamame live?
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Because of ties, there will be a Parsee scene and a being led by Yamame into the city scene. It will be posted tomorrow though.
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[X] Go into the city
- [X] Let Yamame lead the way
- [X] Also, what's with that house by the bridge?

I may be worried about it, but realistically, the chances of us running into Ringo and Sumi should be slim. Probably. I think. It's true that I don't know the city's layout or where Yamame is intending to show me, but it should be more structured than the random wandering that the other two rabbits in the city will be doing. Hopefully. Okay, I'm still probably going to worry about it, but that's just how I am. Realistically, it'll probably be fine.

Yamame just said a moment ago that she actually loves showing people around (right before she called me cute), so I want to let her do that. Let her take charge and lead the way somewhat. It's actually kind of welcome to have somebody else making the decisions for once instead of pushing them all onto me. I'd like to say that it helps with the stress, but I'm still stressed out for other reasons. Someday I will be able to relax! Maybe.

"O-okay. Lead the way then," I gesture downward, which causes Yamame to smile and begin descending. I try to keep level with her while we move down the tunnel, just in case she wants to talk or something.

"So," Yup, sounds like she does. Okay then. "What brings you back into the area? From what you said earlier, it sounds like you weren't expecting to come back."

No that's not quite right. "I was planning on coming back eventually," I correct her. "It's just that I didn't know when it would happen. When I woke up this morning I had no idea I would be back in this area tonight."

Yamame fails to hide her smile growing just a little bit. I guess She had been worried I wasn't going to come back, even after saying that I would. That seems odd. Why would she assume I was lying to her? "Okay, but then what happened?"

Right, great, now I have to start thinking up even more lies. Ugh. Stupid Moon mission and secrecy and whatever. "Well," I pause for a moment to try and think through how to say this with the least amount of deceiving possible. "We found the rabbit we were looking for, Sumi, but we're still left without a home," Actually, did I tell her about that when we first met? I can't remember if I mentioned it or just said we were looking for Sumi. Ringo would be able to keep this kind of thing straight. "We got caught up in some incident above ground," I summarize simply, just in case.

"Yikes, my condolences," Sounds like Yamame has some experience with incidents too. I kinda doubt that she caused one like we did, but I'm definitely not going to bring that up.

"So basically," I continue, nodding appreciatively to Yamame's sympathy. "We had to go asking around for help to find a safe place to stay. Somebody who lives down here is letting us stay with them for a while, so I decided to come visit when I got some spare time," There, I think that was pretty good. Very general, but technically the truth. I feel okay with that.

"Huh, that's surprising," Urk, did I say something dumb in there? I don't I did. "It's just that there aren't a lot of people down here that you would have been able to meet up topside, and even fewer that would have offered you a place to stay. You must have gotten lucky!"

Yamame said it innocently enough, so I don't think she's accusing me of anything, but somehow that makes it feel worse. "Something like that," I mutter halfheartedly.

We emerge from the vertical tunnel again, now into a much larger cavern. We're not flying particularly fast. I wouldn't normally mind that, but I'm a little uncomfortable with how the conversation is going. Yamame glances back at me for a moment before moving on. "So you'll be around for a while then?" I nod. Yeah, that's what I said. "What's a while in this case? Like days, weeks, months?"

"Five days after today," I answer simply. Oh wait, that's a little bit too exact I think. "Er, well, at least for the next five days," I correct myself quickly. "It could be more, but that's what we were planning on anyway."

"Oh that's all?" Yamame's interest seems to have been growing as I continue talking, but that last answer slows her down a little. "Well you'll have to be careful then. If you get too caught up in things down here, five days can end up feeling like nothing," She laughs at that.

Yeah, pretty sure we got a similar warning from Kanako before. I am still planning on heeding it, although I'm once again struck with a tiny amount of worry over Sumi and Ringo. "I don't think that'll be that big of an issue," I lie. "We have to work for our host to earn our stay. We're not going to be partying all the time."

"Then just some of the time?" Yamame suggests, glancing back at me. She laughs when she sees whatever expression I'm making unconsciously. "I'm joking. Anyway, you've got work, huh? Hopefully that won't keep you too busy, but I don't know what it is you're doing."

That was kind of the point of giving such a vague explanation. On top of not knowing exactly what we're going to be asked to do myself, I'm pretty sure that I shouldn't just come out and tell the real truth. Maybe I could get away with some kind of half truth where I namedrop Kanako, but I don't know how much weight that would carry or if I could do that without also having to bring up the Moon. Yeah, no, best to just leave that question alone. It might not the best impression to give Yamame, but I'm just not good enough at thinking up convincing lies at a moment's notice.

Wait, I could have been preparing for these kinds of questions the whole time I was looking for Yamame. There was no reason to think she wouldn't ask about this stuff.

... Dammit.

We continue floating down the cavern as I'm trying to think of something to say. Nothing immediately comes to mind, and I find myself distracted when I notice that house by the bridge again. I'm actually a little curious on what the story is there. There are lights, so somebody must live there. I wonder why whoever that is is up here instead of living in the city itself. Actually, I guess that goes for Yamame too, not that I'm going to point-blank ask her about that.

"Hey, what's up with that house?" I ask suddenly. It's not the smoothest change of topic, and it doesn't really make me feel better to remember that I've done worse before.

Yamame looks where I'm pointing "That's... ah," Her expression gets a little bit more difficult to place. Maybe not something I should have brought up? We are passing right by it though, so I think it's a fair question. "Well that's Parsee's house," Yamame continues, staring down at the house as we approach. "She's kind of a guard who keeps track of people coming and going from the city. Or something like that."

"Oh," I just flew over the bridge on my way here. Oops. Although it probably would have been weird to explain why I was going away from the city if I hadn't come in in the first place. Still, if there's a guard, that means there must be some process for leaving and entering the area. "Should we stop and talk to her then?" I ask, already lowering myself slightly.

Yamame doesn't drop altitude as quickly as I do. "Well, technically yeah," She admits reluctantly. "That was the normal procedure back before the city was former hell. Nowadays everyone just kinda flies past without stopping."

That sounds... "Isn't that kind of rude?" This Parsee person is just in there trying to do her job, but everyone just ignores her.

Yamame turns to look at me directly, but still has that uncomfortable look on her face. "I do feel kinda bad about it too, but Parsee can be kind of hard to deal with at times," She explains. "Given our situation right now, it's probably better that we just ignore her."

I know that listening to Yamame is probably the right thing to do here. She is the local after all, and I was planning on letting her take the lead. That doesn't make it feel any more fair though. I know what it's like to feel unappreciated for working hard. It's not good. It shouldn't be too hard to just stop by and follow the proper procedure for entering the city, right? That's all we'll have to do, and it might even make this Parsee person happy.

After a moment of silence, Yamame let's out a very quiet sigh. "Okay, I guess we can at least stop by," She acquiesces, finally starting to drop along with me. Why the change though? I didn't even say anything... Oh wait, was my face showing my feelings too much again? Ugh, I really need to keep track of that better.

Parsee's house is a lot shabbier than I thought now that I get a closer look at it. With the way it seems like it's barely holding itself up, I'm kind of reminded of Kagerou's house. There's obviously a big difference in building materials used between the two of them, this one has a lot more stone and a lot less bamboo. Both of them definitely have the feeling of having been built by an amateur. Well I guess down here houses don't need to be made to withstand rain anyway, so it probably provides good enough shelter as it is. Not exactly pretty to look at though.

Yamame lowers her voice as we come to a full stop in front of the house. "I've offered to help Parsee improve her house multiple times, or at least fix it up enough to match the construction of the bridge, but she always turns me down," Yamame sighs. Oh right, she did mention that she does construction stuff as part of her work. "I know it's one of her hangups, but I still feel a little bad for her," Yamame gives Parsee's house a critical, unimpressed look before moving on. "Anyway, fair warning that Parsee can be a little rough around the edges. Err, more than just a little actually. We're just doing a quick check in though, so hopefully she won't make too much of a scene."

While that doesn't exactly fill me with confidence, I was the one who asked for this. Too late to call it off now. Yamame's already reaching up to knock on the door. Two solid knocks against the wooden door are met without an immediate response. Just an awkward silence.


Yamame reaches up and knocks again, a little harder this time. "WHAT?!" Gah! I jerk back as the door swings open suddenly. Okay, from how quickly she responded to the second time Yamame knocked, this woman must have been right by the door. Why did she wait for a second round when she obviously heard the first? "Oh, it's you."

"Hey Parsee," Yamame seems a lot less phased by this new person's behavior than I am. Well, I guess it's partially the woman's behavior and partially her appearance. At first glance, Parsee seems pretty similar to a normal human, but looking closer, I start to notice more and more obvious youkai traits. Her skin is really pale (although she does live underground to be fair) and her ears are pointed. Her teeth, which I can only see because she's scowling so hard, are a little bit sharper than normal, and her eyes... Woah. When she glances at me, I'm struck by how intense the shade of green in her eyes is. They're practically glowing, and the contrast with the dark circles under her eyes isn't helping shake that impression. "A friend and I were just going to head into the city and figured we should-"

"Should come by and rub it in my face, right?" Parsee finishes for her, roughly grabbing onto the door frame as she leans toward Yamame. Okay, that's not at all what we came here for. "Great, thanks."

Yamame's smile gets slightly more forced, but she doesn't shrink away from Parsee's aggressive posture. Okay, she's used to this I guess. "I wasn't trying-"

"Nah, of course you weren't. You just decided that this was the time you'd bother saying anything to me instead of just flying past like always," Isn't it kind of rude to keep interrupting like that? "This time, when you happened to have somebody with you. I'm sure you're going to go have a GREAT night on the town and I just HAD to know about it."

"Well, not exactly, it's just uh..." Yamame seems a little bit unsure what to say at Parsee's hostility.

"It was my idea," I try to help bail Yamame out, but that really just makes Parsee turn on me next. Sheesh, I didn't think we'd be upsetting her by following the rules! Actually, why is this upsetting her at all? She's clearly not happy to see us.

"Hmm," Parsee looks me over intensely, but seems to be forcing an unappreciative look on her face the whole time. She stops when her eyes reach the top of my head and lets out a small annoyed puff of air from her nose. "Must be nice to have ears that don't make you look like some kind of fucked up elf," She mutters, her scowl intensifying.

Yamame giggles suddenly. "That's what you choose to get worked up about?" She asks, sounding incredulous. "Parsee, you know everyone thinks your ears are super cute, right?"

Parsee clicks her tongue in annoyance and looks away from Yamame and I. Wait, did her ears just twitch a little bit? "Pfeh," She makes a sound of dismissal after a moment of composing herself. "Like it matters when I have to get compared to little miss sex symbol. Even you are bringing new people around. Tch. Jealous..." Parsee glowers, biting slightly at her thumb as she starts mumbling to herself. "... Probably does it like a rabbit..."

I'm about to ask what that means when Yamame breaks in, sounding exasperated. "Ugh, Parsee! It's not like that," She glances back at me, and seems surprised when I just stare back at her, confused. Should I be insulted or something? "... Can we just go into the city?"

Parsee glares at Yamame, then me, then Yamame again. Finally she relents. "I ain't stopping you. Go have yourselves a wonderful evening. I'm sure it'll be much better than the boring one I'm gonna have. Alone."

What a fun person...


"So, sorry about that, but to be fair I did warn you," Yamame seems slightly embarrassed as we're flying away from Parsee's house. She doesn't really need to be.

It's true that she did seem kind of against talking to Parsee, but I'm not that upset about it. Her being so negative and unpleasant may have caught me off guard, but it's not like anything bad happened. It was just unexpected, not terrible. "Right... What's up with her exactly?" I glance back at the house after asking. What the? Oh wow. I can see Parsee, or at least her eyes staring at us as we fly away. Those things really are bright... Actually, is she just going to watch us until we disappear? That's a little creepy.

"Well, it's true that she's a youkai that was born out of jealousy, so that does kind of give her some personality issues. Although honestly I think she was playing it up a little bit when she realized you were new. I swear she tries to leave a bad first impression," Yamame sighs as I turn back to her. "We're neighbors though, and friends in a weird kind of way, so I've known her for a long time. She used to keep her attitude reigned in and only talked behind people's backs, but I dunno if you'd call that preferable to how she is now or not."

When Yamame says it like that, I'm reminded of that thing Sanae said earlier. Any youkai down here is probably down here for a reason. I may not be able to claim that everyone I know has a perfect personality, but we've gotten along with people at least. Actually, this does bring up the question of why Yamame is down here then. She seems completely reasonable compared to Parsee. really compared to anyone. Well, there isn't a tactful way to ask about her that I can think of. "Well, at least we followed the rules?" I say weakly, shrugging slightly even though it's probably hard to see while we're flying.

"Well if you care about that kind of thing, then that's fine. No harm done really," Yamame decides. We can just move on. "Well, hopefully."

We float deeper underground, eventually reaching the outskirts of the city. Just before the first few buildings, Yamame drops to the ground and lands. I follow her lead, and once I touch the ground, the two of us start walking. We follow the surprisingly well paved path near the underground river. I suppose this path will take us deeper into the capital and toward wherever Yamame is planning to go. Wait... "Actually, why are we walking?" I ask after a moment.

Yamame folds her arms behind her back, happily strolling along. "Flying around isn't that common down here, so people who do it tend to stand out and look like tourists or unusual people," She explains. Oh, I guess that some people would be thinking that about me earlier then. It's accurate, but I still don't really like it. "Oni typically walk rather than fly, and they're the majority of the population. The place isn't really laid out with flying in mind. Plus, we don't need to hurry or anything. There's plenty of stuff to see. It's kind of hard to appreciate the architecture if you're looking down from way above."

Hmm, that last bit sounds more like Yamame's opinion, but the stuff before it could probably be called a cultural difference. People flying around was fairly common back home. It was more efficient use of space and people's capabilities, and did wonders for the traffic too. Well, I guess I don't mind walking anyway if that's what Yamame wants to do. Or at least I normally wouldn't. My legs are still tired from all the stairs earlier. Sheesh, I really am out of shape. I should have run with Sumi some more during our downtimes. Too late now.

"Hey, you okay?" Yamame interrupts my thoughts with a question. How did she know? Oh, wait. I might be showing my thoughts a bit too obviously again. Wasn't I just thinking that I needed to keep track of my face better?

"Um, yeah. I just had a long day," And continuing to get longer. It'll be a relief when I get to lay down. Not that I'm in any hurry or anything of course. I wouldn't want to be rude to Yamame's hospitality. "I'll be fine though, we can keep going."

Yamame looks a little bit concerned, but after another assurance (I've been through worse, don't worry) she let's things go. Instead she starts leading me around, seemingly at random. It seems less like she has a specific destination in mind so much as she is just showing me around and telling me stories to see how I react to them.

There are definitely a lot of stories to tell. Every notable place that we go by, Yamame seems to have some tidbit about it. Whether it's a bar ("This place used to have two owners, but they got in fight after drinking too much and broke the partnership. You can see there's another bar across the street now. Actually a pretty common situation, now that I think about it."), a shop ("The lady in there actually mines her own precious stones to make jewelry. It is absolutely beautiful, but ends up a little expensive"), or a restaurant ("The youkai that cooks there likes to pretend his meat is made of humans a bit too much. Everyone knows he's lying but that doesn't seem to stop him."), Yamame has something to say about it. It's actually really impressive. I don't think I could do the same kind of thing if I was showing somebody around the capital back home. She even points out a few buildings that she says she helped build.

We continue on like this for a while, and I gradually start to get a sense of how the city works. There's actually a few different underground rivers flowing through the areas, and it seems that the city was originally built around those. As the population grew, people got further and further away from those, but you can definitely tell where the waterways are just by looking at the density of the buildings. This also has the effect of giving the whole city a very natural feeling. It isn't laid out in a way that's necessarily efficient, but it's still interesting to walk through because of that.

I also notice a lot about the people of the city. There really is a huge mixing and matching of youkai moving around through the streets. Some are monstrous, some are practically human, and of course, there's a whole lot of oni. It's surprising really. I had been amazed at how much variance there was in the human village, but this completely blows it out of the water. People are so used to so many different types of youkai walking around that Yamame and I barely get any glances thrown our way, despite me being an outsider. Actually, it seems like more people take notice of Yamame than of me. Maybe they know her or something, though none of them bother to say hi if that's the case.

"Hmm," Yamame finishes up telling me a story about the nearby dance club that recently got the monthly award for 'Most Times Destroyed in a Barfight' and how the owner is displaying the award on the only wall that stayed intact through the entire month. Once we've finished laughing about it, she turns to me and slows down the walk slightly. "Actually, maybe I should ask you a bit about yourself instead. The city is interesting and fun, but if you let me talk about it the whole time, I'll never stop."

Err... "About me?"

"Well yeah, all I know is that you're a rabbit youkai from up above ground. You're adorable, surprisingly pure, and easy to tease. You're also diligent, and seem to think highly of rules and schedules, which is pretty different from what we're used to down here. Oh, you also have a habit of making a lot of cute facial expressions without realizing that people are watching you," Yamame lists all that stuff off. I'm not going to disagree with her, but it is kind of embarrassing to hear somebody assess you so positively like that. "Well those are just my impressions anyway. I've only known you for a little while. I want to hear about you from you. Tell me about Seiran."

Urgh... This is going to be tough to do. I can't just come out and say that I'm from the Moon. I can give a basic introduction about myself, sure, but aside from that...

[ ] Deflect back to Yamame. Talk about her instead.
[ ] Get distracted talking about the other rabbits.
[ ] Get distracted by some store or something. Doesn't really matter what it is.
[ ] Try to be honest but keep it vague. Even though this might just lead to more questions...
[ ] Write-in(???)
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> Oh, you also have a habit of making a lot of cute facial expressions without realizing that people are watching you

This is why I love your Yamame.

[x] Mention my powers, and not really having a lot of friends as a result.
[x] Nudge topic to said friends.

I'm not sure Seiran would want to talk about it to some girl she's only just met, but playing the outcast card will at least avoid the Moon issue.
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[x] Mention powers and friends or lack thereof
[x] Mention our group,and the fact that, while you like them, you are together out of necessity
-[x] Mrntion that anything further is secret and you can't decide to break it without their input.

Lovely Yamame. But I wish we had time for Parsee as well.
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[X] Try to be honest but keep it vague. Even though this might just lead to more questions...

It's tough to open up to someone.
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[X] Try to be honest but keep it vague. Even though this might just lead to more questions...

Seems like a good choice, maybe with a focus on [x] Mention my powers, and not really having a lot of friends as a result.
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[x] Try to be honest but keep it vague. Even though this might just lead to more questions...

Not that I think we should tell the whole truth now, but for the sake of argument do we really need to keep who we are a secret from everybody anymore? Sure we caused an incident, but Reisen already resolved it, which means we should be having tea with everyone right about now.

We may have tried to purify all of Gensokyo to death, but that's pretty much par for the course as far as incidents go. Remilia blocked out the sun with her scarlet mist, which would have caused all the plants to die forcing everyone to starve to death. Yuyuko stole Spring and created a never ending Winter, which would have frozen Gensokyo to death. Okuu tried to kill everyone by burning the entire world to the ground. Eintei made night last for eternity, which would have killed the plants and forced everyone to starve again. The Grassroots Youkai Network tried to overthrow Gensokyo in a violent and bloody revolution, and we know for a fact that they are nice friendly people now.

The only reason we are underground right now is because Eirin is trying to solve our already solved incident by killing us, which is a direct violation of the spellcard rules. Telling the truth about this might make people sympathetic towards us and more likely to help us.
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> Eirin is trying to solve our already solved incident by killing us, which is a direct violation of the spellcard rules.

That's actually a really good point. I wonder what would happen if Reimu found out.
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[x] Try to be honest but keep it vague. Even though this might just lead to more questions...
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[x] Try to be honest but keep it vague. Even though this might just lead to more questions...
-[x] Mention my powers, and not really having a lot of friends as a result.

This should give some common ground
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Should've tried the scones
[X] Try to be honest but keep it vague. Even though this might just lead to more questions...

The first thing I do is avoid sighing. Yes, I will admit that this is kind of tough. I want to tell the truth, but the more truth I tell the more I'll have to lie to cover up the bits that I can't tell. It sucks. It's complicated. It makes what should have been a simple question into something needlessly frustrating. I'll never get to relax like this. Still, don't need to sigh. I can at least start with the easy stuff, then figure out what to say after that as I go. I may not have the greatest track record for that, but it's all I have.

"Well, I'm Seiran," I add on a little wave, but it probably just looks awkward, so I quickly stop. "I'm a youkai rabbit. Oh, I don't actually have a last name, so it really is just Seiran. I think I'm a pretty normal person, although I tend to get panicky and nervous easily, and I'm not really the best at talking to people," Too negative, this is going to give her a bad impression or make it look like I'm fishing for compliments. "Still, I try my best and work hard anyway, and I think I do an okay job of most things."

We continue to walk through the city, going somewhat slower and taking a few turns off of the larger main roads by the rivers. Yamame is letting me talk without interrupting, but is still leading me somewhere specific I think. We're in a more kind of commercial type district now? It's a bit less busy around here than the main roads we had been walking on, so I guess that does make me feel a little bit more comfortable sharing information about myself.

So... What else is there that I can actually say? "My favorite color is, unsurprisingly, blue, and my favorite food is peaches," Err wait, is she going to know what peaches are? "Although you guys might not have those down here," I add, laughing nervously even though Yamame doesn't look at all bothered. "... I'm a vegetarian by the way, but not really for any particular reason. Meat just wasn't something that I ate for a long time, and I haven't had a need to break that habit."

Yamame listens my explanation and looks a little surprised in response. I guess vegetarian youkai really are a weird concept. It's totally normal back home though. In fact, eating meat seems really weird from my perspective. Once she's worked through the initial shock, Yamame starts visibly thinking about something. Ah, wait! Her pace is speeding back up a little bit. She's not saying anything though, so I guess I should keep going. I wonder what she actually wants to hear from me.

"Um... I live... Well, I've lived in a bunch of different places. The most recent place was in the forested area around the mountain," I think Kanako called it by some name or another, but I forgot what that was. Yamame probably wouldn't recognize it even if I said it anyway. "My four friends and I were camping out there while trying to figure out what to do next. Like I said before, there was that incident that messed up our last place and uh..."

I trail off when Yamame turns off of the street, heading directly for the entrance of a small shop of some kind. I don't have to a good chance to look at the sign out front as I stumble down the couple of stairs leading down to the door itself.

My first impression as I walk in behind Yamame is something like 'oh, this is what bars look like' since I've never been in one before. Seems a lot more restrained than I was expecting. I can see the counter on the far side of the long building, as well as a generous number of tables and booths between here and there. Err, maybe this is actually just a restaurant with a bar in it? What's the actual difference?

"So it's not really my scene, but apparently tea is pretty popular above ground, right?" Yamame asks conversationally as she motions for me to follow her to a nearby booth. "It's still not going to get close to competing with alcohol, but when trade opened up with the surface some places decided to get into that market. It's probably not at all like whatever it is you're used to since there isn't any real ceremony to it, but this is kinda like our approximation of a tea house."

"Uh huh..." I mumble as I look around. I guess when the people down here are so used to building bars, anything else they try to build is going to end up kind of similar. I didn't say anything about needing to stop, although I don't mind having a chance to get something to drink. Did it need to be tea specifically though? Actually... "I don't have any money so I don't think I can get anything," I realize out loud, feeling a little embarrassed. We really need to figure out some way to secure some funds. Not just for dates, of course but...

"Nah, don't worry about it," There are already some menus laid out on the table, so Yamame starts leafing through one while she casually reassures me. "I'm the one that asked you out, so I'll handle the cost," She glances up at me for a moment, smiling. "Honestly, with your figure, I think my wallet and I can trust you to not go overboard. You look like you take care of yourself pretty damn well."

I squirm lightly in my seat and look down at myself. Sheesh... I'm not really anything special... Yamame's body is a lot um... Fuller. Ugh, awkward thoughts. Yup, I'm blushing. Let's think about something else. Honestly even if she says she'll take care of it, I'm still a little worried. They probably can't grow tea very well down here, right? That would mean they have to bring the tea down here from above ground. Doesn't that make it more expensive?

"Anyway, you can keep going. I'm still listening," Yamame prompts, flipping her menu over to the 'imports' page.

"Umm..." The sudden change of scenery distracted me enough that I kind of stopped trying to think up random things about myself that I can safely say. "I'm not really that sure what else there is..."

Yamame looks up from her menu, eyes roaming over me for a moment. She notices something sitting down next to me and her eyes light up a little bit. "Well what about the hammer?" She suggests happily. "The first time you came down I figured it was just in case you needed to fight something off, but do you really need it right now? It's a little bit of a pain to use for self defense isn't it? Although you'll impress some oni with it I'm sure," She laughs lightly at that.

Ah, right. My mallet is so normal for me that I don't really pay much attention to it usually, but I guess some of the looks that we were getting outside were at least partially due to it. "This..." I grab at the handle, moving it back and forth for no reason. "Well it's kinda, sorta something like that?" I answer vaguely. It's kind of a personal thing, and I can't give the same answer I gave Sanae earlier tonight either.

"Hmm?" Yamame leans over the table a little bit, obviously wanting me to go on.

"Y-yeah..." I mumble, busying myself by trying to bury my nose into my menu. What do I SAY?!


Yamame doesn't prod at me to keep going, and I'm feeling too anxious to look up at her.


I am the most awkward piece of-

"Ah, here we go!" Yamame says excitedly. It surprises me enough that I stop staring at nothing and look up. She has her finger pointing at her menu, but isn't holding it at an angle where I can see what she's indicating. "Hope you don't mind Seiran, but can I order for both of us?"

"S-sure?" I was just planning on ordering whatever was cheapest but... Oh no, wait. That's alcoholic. Oni city. Right. Predictable. Well, whatever the cheapest thing without alcohol ends up being.

"Great! I was worried you might feel awkward about accepting or whatever," I'm feeling awkward about more than just that Yamame. You're just pretending not to notice. Thanks for that by the way. "You don't have to be. I want to do this, okay?" With how bright her smile is, I can't do much other than sink down bashfully in my seat and nod.

The woman that comes by to take our orders a short time later has long black hair and looks surprisingly regal and elegant in just a simple kimono. I would almost guess she was some kind of human noblewoman if it weren't for our current location and the fact that some of her hair appears to be moving around on it's own volition. I try not to be freaked out by what look like tentacles of black hair waving around as she prompts Yamame for an order.

"Two peach teas," Wait, what? "And some of those sweet rice cake things, please," Yamame smiles wide, directly at me.

The waitress gives a light bow, assures us it will be just a moment, then leaves. "R-really?" I ask, before I can think of something more intelligent to say.

"Well I only remembered hearing about it because you said you liked peaches," Yamame explains, grabbing both of our menus and stacking them off to the side of the table. "Truthfully, I've never even seen a peach before. If you like it though, I might as well give it a try. Worst comes to worst and I end up hating it, I'll at least have someone to give it to."

That makes sense I suppose. I'm still surprised though. "But you actually do have peaches down here?" Well, they obviously aren't growing them, but importing enough that they can just casually serve them as tea in a random hole-in-the-wall shop?

Yamame smirks at me, looking pleased with herself. "You'd be surprised how much stuff you can find down here if you know where to look and who to talk to. For example," She gestures toward the bar counter, where our server is currently brewing some tea. "I've been to Fuka's little cafe here a couple of times, so I already knew that she's something of a connoisseur of special tastes. At least more than your normal youkai down here."

"Really?" I guess she's some kind of classy woman who is very particular about things? There are some lunarians like that.

"Yeah. Take a good look at her. I'm sure you'll notice when her hair moves the right way," Yamame says. What am I looking for thou-Eeek! I jerk back in surprise, trying to shrink into my seat. That woman has another mouth on the back of her head! One with big, nasty, pointy teeth! "If you've gotta feed two mouths, you're probably gonna care a little bit about how things taste, right?" Yamame giggles at my reaction.

I take a moment to compose myself after that little shock, while Yamame quiets down her laughter. Once we're both back to normal, we settle back into another awkward silence. Although maybe I'm the only one that feels awkward about it. If Yamame is bothered at all, she's doing a good job at not showing it. In complete contrast with me, she looks totally calm. She's glancing around casually, sometimes humming, but seems to default to just watching me quietly.

I'm... I'm being really unfair to her, aren't I? Yamame really is just trying to help me have a good time while helping me get a look around the city. Meanwhile, I'm sitting here being awkward and secretive and tripping over my thoughts and words and everything else. Every question leads to me searching for the best way to lie to her, and if I can't think of a good lie then I just stop talking. I'm a jerk. I'm the worst. I...

No. Stop whining.

Fix it.

"My hammer," Yamame perks up slightly as I try to go back to a topic I had obviously avoided talking about. "My hammer is kind of like a control tool for my powers. It's something that needed a long time ago to help focus and make everything work the way that I wanted it to," I explain, still in kind of vague terms, but at least I'm not keeping quiet now. "I don't really need it now, although it still kind of helps. I mostly keep it with me because it calms me down. I get anxious a lot, so every little bit helps."

Yamame nods intently, leaning across the table again. I guess I said something that interested her. "Powers?" She repeats questioningly.

"Well you know... Most youkai have special abilities or magic powers, right?" She nods along. "I have a thing like that too, only I don't really... Well, I'm still not perfect at controlling it. It's much better now than when I first started developing them, but yeah. My hammer gives me a little bit more confidence than I would otherwise have," I conclude.

"Hmm," Yamame nods thoughtfully. "Soooo, it's like a security blanket?" Wha!? That's so- "Sorry, sorry, I'm joking. I just wanted to see your embarrassed face again."

Ugh. She was just teasing me. "Well, that's not too far off anyway," I admit quietly, causing Yamame to laugh out loud as I feel myself blushing more. Well at least I'm telling the truth now! The embarrassing truth.

"So, your powers," Yamame continues after taking a minute to calm back down. "You said they were bad when they first showed up, and are carrying something like that around specifically to help control them," She ticks off a couple of points on her fingers, clearly leading to some conclusion. Her voice decreases in volume as she goes, moving to a somewhat more serious tone. "So, you don't have to answer this or anything, I'm just guessing, but are your powers uhm. Are they like, dangerous?"

From how she's acting, Yamame clearly thinks that she's covering a touchy subject, and she's kind of right. Even someone who wasn't full of secrets like me would probably be a little bit nervous over talking about this kind of thing. Should I still be honest here? I kind of don't want to. I really don't want to. But I also really don't want to be a jerk. I guess I'm doing this. Here goes nothing. "Well, yes. They could hurt somebody if I'm not careful."

"Ah," Yamame bites lightly at her lip, she looks sympathetic. I imagine if we weren't across the table from each other she would be putting a hand on my shoulder or something, but she's not in a good position for reassuring touching right now. "It must be difficult."

"Yeah. It was. It still kind of is, but it's not as bad right now," I explain vaguely. It seems like Yamame isn't going to press me too much more, which is nice, because I feel like actually explaining what exactly my powers are and the bad things that they've done is a bit much. "There are some things that I can't do, and some things that I shouldn't do, but umm-"

"You don't have to talk about anything if you don't want to," Yamame softly interrupts to tell me.

Right. This is probably a little heavy for a first date anyway. "Thanks," I let out a breath of relief, relaxing slightly into my seat. "Er, actually there is one thing," I realize after a moment of thought. It's kind of an excuse for myself, but whatever. She's listening, and will probably be understanding if I explain things properly. "My powers being the way that they are made it kind of hard to make any friends for a long period of time. Even now I've only got four people that I would consider close to me. So, basically what I'm saying is that I might not be like um, the best socially, you know? I might say or do dumb things because I'm not used to new people so-"

"Seiran," Yamame interrupts me again, this time holding one hand out across the table. Before it occurs to me that she wants me to hold it, she seems to remember something, and quickly but calmly pulls her hand back. "That is absolutely fine. Honestly, I know what that's like myself, so don't worry about it."

Our tea comes shortly after that, and the conversation both slows down and gets into less serious territory. Honestly, it's not the best peach tea that I've ever had, but it's definitely not bad either. I wouldn't make a trip down to Earth just for this, but I would definitely stop by again if I was in the neighborhood. Yamame more or less agrees, or at least I think she does. Actually, she's not immediately sold on the taste, claiming it to be 'too sweet' when she first sips it. After a couple more tries though, she gets used to it, and eventually drinks her share just fine.

We stay in the tea house for a while longer, with Yamame going back to leading the conversation. She explains more about food and other goods that you can find underground. Apparently Sanae's information about what was available down here is actually a little dated, probably due to her not spending a lot of time in Former Hell. The cafeteria back at the plant actually has a pretty anemic selection compared to everything available in the city. From what Yamame tells me, trade happens a bit more often than you would think, but not quite as much as she would like.

"There's just so much culture above ground that we've been cut off from," She laments while digging around in her dress for a purse. "It may be pretty fun down here, but you can only party for so long before you can't handle the hangover, you know? I'd love to visit the above ground more often, just to see all the stuff there is to see."

I can at least kind of relate. I'd probably be more curious about life in Gensokyo if I was allowed to be here and didn't have the looming threat of death by lunarian hanging over my head. "So why don't you?"

Yamame flinches slightly, pausing for a moment before she finally pulls out her money. "That's a long, kind of dumb story," She says, smiling wryly. "I'll tell you about it later probably. For now, let's get going. There's still plenty of city to see."

"Sure," I agree as Yamame gets up to pay. I don't think I'm going to follow her at this exact moment. I'm not like, prejudice or anything, I'm sure that the owner here, is a perfectly nice lady. Yamame said as much, and it's not like I've seen anything that would actually imply otherwise. The second mouth and the tentacle hair things just freak me out a little bit. Sorry.

Instead, I tidy up the cups and dishes left on the table a little bit, then head over to get the door for Yamame. Once she's finished up paying, she comes over and steps out of the shop. "Thank you very much, madam," She says, purposely sounding a little more formal than she needs to. "So, any particular thoughts about where to go next?"

I step out of the shop too, and take a couple of the stairs back up toward the street. "Well, I-" Wait. CRAP. I quickly duck back toward the entrance to the tea house. Crap crap crap. When I stuck my head up just now, I definitely saw bunny ears. Two pairs. Ringo and Sumi are out there. Coming in this direction. I don't think they saw me, but it's only a matter of time.

"Seiran?" Yamame's looking at me, confused.

What do I do? Where do I go?

[ ] Down the street, away from them. Maybe they'll be too busy to see us.
[ ] Into an alley. That'll definitely lose them. They'd have no reason to follow.
[ ] Back into the tea house. They'll probably pass by without coming in.
[ ] Fly away. They might notice, but we'll be gone before they can confirm anything.
[ ] Go say hi No way. Too embarrassing. Absolutely not.
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[ ] Go say hi
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[X] Go say hi
Yamame's probably going to have to be the one to prompt her though, it looks like
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[X] Go say hi

Need to take a step forward once in a while.
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[x] Go say hi

Dogpiling the out-of-character option is fun when you're not the writer.
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[X] Back into the tea house. They'll probably pass by without coming in.

Am I the sole saving grace for Seiran's (rapidly dwindling) sanity bar?
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[X] Into an alley. That'll definitely lose them. They'd have no reason to follow.

I'm not sure if Seiran really wants to say hi right now.
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[x] Go say hi

Embarrased rabbit is best rabbit.
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[x] Down the street, away from them. Maybe they'll be too busy to see us.

You'll have to face the music someday, bunny.
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[x] Back into the tea house. They'll probably pass by without coming in.
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[X] Back into the tea house. They'll probably pass by without coming in.

Really, guys?
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>second mouth
>tentacle hair
And here I thought that game had been lost to the sands of time.

[X] Back into the tea house. They'll probably pass by without coming in.
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It's not ready yet. I want the mess you've maneuvered brought together to be done right.

You guys are mean. Not to me, to Seiran.

I was honestly just picking at random youkai types when I saw Futakuchi-Onna and thought "Hey that works for a background character" then half way through the writing I was like "Oh wait, I'm making a reference without meaning to. Well that's fine." and now here we are. Squigly best girl
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[ ] Back into the tea house. They'll probably pass by without coming in.
[X] Go say hi

I nearly fall over as I stumble backward down the stairs. I'm trying to get out of sight, but unless I actually go back inside, this isn't going to work. The stairs are dug out, placing the entrance to the tea house below ground (well, slightly more below ground than everything else technically), but it's not like that gives me enough cover to hide here. Anybody who's even remotely paying attention would be able to see me when they walked by. No, we need to move away, but that means that I have to get Yamame to come along quickly. That might be a little tough, given how she's currently trying not to look at me like I'm crazy.

"Seiran?" She repeats once I've come to a stop, pressing myself back against the door. "What's wrong?"

"U-uh," Where to go? Where can we go? The more time I spend deciding on a plan, the closer they're going to get. I need to move quickly. Okay, what's the first thing that I can think of and will that work? I'm backed up against the door to the tea shop... Okay yeah, that'll probably work. Sumi isn't really a tea person, so even if Ringo is an absolutely-anything-I-can-get-in-my-mouth person, they probably won't come into this building in particular. That's a plan. Good enough. "Can we go back inside for a little bit?" I hurry out. Come on come on come on.

"What? Why?" Okay, I guess it can't be that easy. "You have your hammer, so it doesn't look like you forgot anything," Yamame looks over me curiously, but doesn't get closer to the door, despite me beckoning slightly with one hand.

"It's um..." Crap crap crap they're getting closer and I am the worst at making up excuses! "Uhh," Before I can continue my eloquent and intelligent discourse, Yamame catches on to my obvious discomfort and has the idea to look for its source. She steps up one stair and looks down the street one way, then the other.

"Ah!" Yamame quickly catches on once she looks the correct direction. "Rabbits, huh?" She considers, stepping back down next to me. "Well, I've never seen any rabbits down here before, so I'm gonna guess those are your friends?" She asks casually.

I could just say no, but she's got a point that it would be a bit too much of a coincidence to believably play off. Two separate groups of rabbits just happened to show up underground in the same place on the same night? Nope. Plus, even if I really don't want to have them see me right now, pretending not to know my only friends just feels completely wrong to me. There's a limit to how big of a lie I'm willing to say. "W-well, yeah..." I stammer out bashfully.

Yamame nods, ignoring my awkwardness. "And even if I didn't get the best look last time, they don't look like the two that were with you before either. You said you had four other rabbits with you, right? So these would be the ones I haven't met before?"

"Err yeah," Yamame only saw me, Chiyo, and Yuzuki when we came down the first time. She doesn't know anything about Ringo or Sumi, although I did mention her to both of them at least vaguely while sharing information.

"Huh..." Yamame quietly absorbs that for a second. "Sooooo, is there a reason you're trying to avoid them?" She asks, still sounding like it's a perfectly innocent question. Well, I guess it is, even if I'm clearly uncomfortable right now.

"Well... K-kinda?" I manage to struggle out. How do I explain this? Just be honest? That's probably better than letting Yamame think up her own conclusion. Wait. Crap, what if she thinks I'm embarrassed to be seen with her?! Well, I mean, I am, but not in that way! Only by certain people. Wait, that still sounds bad. Crapcrapcrap.

"They are your friends, right?" Yamame prompts again. Whoops, I might have gotten a bit too focused on my thoughts.

Urgh, I wish I had time to think this through instead of having to both explain the situation and get out of it really quickly. "Well I kinda," I start before thinking about it. Okay, I guess I am telling the truth. Fair enough, mouth. I guess you're going now, don't mess this up. "I kinda snuck away from them in order to meet up with you, so I don't really want them to see me."

"What? Why'd you do that?" Yamame looks confused, but not upset. Could be worse I guess.

Actually, it is kinda bad still though, because I don't know what to say in response. Something something dating. Something teasing. What do I want to say here? My mouth isn't auto-talking anymore either. "E-embarrassing..." I mumble out. Nonono that's not enough. Stop looking at me please Yamame I can't think like this. Maybe if I look away it'll help. Oh hey look, the ground, that's something I can stare at while I try to not SCREW EVERYTHING UP.

"Hmm... let's go talk to them."

What? "What?" What? No!

"Whoa, whoa. Calm down. Listen," Was I panicking? I think I was panicking. Yamame's trying to calm me down as if I was panicking. "I've been having a good time so far, and I hope that you are too," She assures me, which doesn't convince me to look up from the ground, but it does make me feel a little better. "But it'll just make me feel bad if you have to keep secrets just to hang out. We just met, and we are getting along well, but hurting your long standing friendships just for some casual dating? I wouldn't say that's worth it," Well, when she puts it like that... "I'm not going to make you go talk to them. We can run away and continue on with the evening if you want. I just think that keeping the lie alive is only going to get more difficult for you, and you already don't seem to be handling it that well. If you go and get things in the open now, you may be embarrassed, but that'll pass. Then we can have fun for the rest of the night without worrying, Okay?"

Argh... Dammit. I know she has a point, but I'm still feeling apprehensive about actually doing it. "Y-yeah but..." Oh, now you're working again, mouth? When I don't actually have a point to make?

"And hey, if you're really uncomfortable with the whole dating thing, we could all group up and look around together."

That does make me look up. I never said that. "N-no that's not..." I mean, I am uncomfortable, but it's all my fault. It's not Yamame's.

The two of us stare at each other for a moment before Yamame breaks back into the same smile as usual. "Come on, it'll be fine," She says, grabbing my hand and pulling lightly toward the stairs. I don't stop her, even if I still have no idea how I'm going to handle this situation. I think I might be getting a headache actually. Help.

Of course, with how long Yamame and I were talking in the doorway of the teahouse, Ringo and Sumi are practically right in front of us when Yamame finishes dragging me up to the street. There aren't very many people out and about right here either, so of course they notice us, or more specifically me, instantly.

"Seiran!" Ringo calls out quickly, jogging over to Yamame and I. Her voice is a mix of things, but I'd describe it as primarily relieved.

"Hey, uh, what the hell?" Sumi sounds a little annoyed, but I think she's just faking it. "We thought you got lost or Sanae told you the wrong place as a joke or something."

"That stuff still could have happened, Sumi" Ringo quickly responds, maybe sounding a bit dismissive, before getting back to me. "So what's up? We waited for you for a while. I would've waited around longer, but Sumi couldn't stand it anymore. Did we leave too soon?"

"N-no that's not it um," My brain is screaming way too loud for someone who has absolutely nothing useful to say. I'm a mess. Why did I agree to this? Why did I do any of this? I could have just gone to bed. I could still do that if I were to fly away right now. Which way would I need to go to get back to the plant?

Ow. Something's squeezing me. It's not that hard, but I wasn't expecting it at first. Oh wait, Yamame is still holding my hand from when she dragged me over here. I glance down to look, as if I was going to see anything useful. Yup, that's two hands. Yamame lets out a tiny gasp as if remembering something, then let's go like my hand is really hot or something. "Sorry," She mumbles out quietly. What? What are you sorry about? She takes a half step away from me and motions over toward Ringo again. Right, I'm still trying to answer a question.

Strange reactions aside, Yamame was trying to reassure me. She wants to help me. Actually, I need to remember that everyone here wants to help me. They're all my friends. Ringo and Sumi aren't mad, they just don't know the whole situation. Things might take a turn toward the embarrassing when they do, but it'll be okay. Deep breath. In. Out. Okay. "I actually went off on my own on purpose," I start off. Okay so far, just explain the situation and let it go from there. "You remember how Yuzuki and Chi and I all went down here back when Sumi was still missing?"

"Sure?" Ringo answers, she sounds kind of unclear on where I'm going with this, and is looking curiously at Yamame.

"Well last time I was down here Yamame, err, this is her, Yamame," I gesture vaguely to my side, and Yamame waves slightly. Not the best introduction, but I'll keep going. "She offered to show me around the city. It wasn't the best timing at that point, but I thought going to her now would work out okay."

"Right, right," Ringo nods in understanding. "I remember you mentioning her before. Makes sense, ask a local to show you around."

"I was kinda having fun bumming around randomly," Sumi laughs, glancing back down the street. I kind of wonder what exactly the two of them have been up to, come to think of it. "But by ourselves it does seem a little hard to find anything to do other than get wasted. Not that that sounds too bad to me."

I'm a little concerned by Sumi saying that, but Ringo just rolls her eyes without even looking at her. "She keeps bringing up drinking, and I have to keep telling her no. I think we may have created a monster yesterday."

"I've always been a monster. Monster in bed. Rawr," Sumi wiggles her eyebrows at me, and I hear Yamame giggle slightly in response. Uh, no comment?

"Yeah yeah, whatever," Ringo chuckles a little bit as well before moving on. "Anyway, like I was saying, seems like a good call to get somebody who knows the place to show us around. You could've let us know beforehand though, then we could have gone with you to pick her up."

"W-well she asked me specifically I kinda wanted to try going on a..." Yeah, no. Definitely can't say date right now. That's way too embarrassing. I already feel like ninety percent of my blood is stuck in my face right now. "G-going out alone with her first. Like um, just the two of us and um..."

"Ah, oh," Ringo's face goes from slightly confused to understanding to somewhat complicated. "Oooookay umm..."




A random oni stumbles by and gives the four of us a confused look before going back to drinking out of an oversized barrel.


So... This can't be a good sign. Even Ringo doesn't know what to say. She's never at a loss for words.

"No hold on," Sumi to the rescue I guess? Actually I'm surprised it took her this long to say something. She butts in between Ringo and I, holding her arms up slightly in confusion. "What the fuck?" She asks, but I'm not sure if she's addressing me or Ringo. Ringo seems to think that it's her, as she starts trying to respond before Sumi continues on. "No, hold on, because this came out of nowhere to me. Weren't you and you," Her hands go from open palms to pointed fingers at Ringo and I. "Making something happen this morning?"

Wait, what is Sumi talking about? Is it the thing where her and Chiyo caught me and Ringo sleeping in the same bed? Why is that a big deal? Aside from the rule breaking I guess, but Ringo already talked to her about it. "That's... No. I already told you that that wasn't a thing," See, why did you need Ringo to shoot you down again Sumi?

"Right, sure. And I didn't really believe you but was willing to leave you alone while you two worked it out," Sumi actually seems a little annoyed, which is probably not good. I'm a little worried about that, but I'm also a little busy trying to read all the vague statements being made. "Now you're telling me that you were right there and you didn't even make a move-"

"Sumi!" Woah, Ringo yelled? Ringo doesn't yell normally. "We're not doing this right now," She says sternly. She seems a little bit... Embarrassed?

"Why not do it now?" Sumi continues, her annoyance clearly growing on her face. She takes a step toward Ringo, and needs to look down slightly so she can look her in the eyes. "You not doing anything when you've already had years is what caused this. I told you. You just sit around waiting instead of actually saying anything and of course she-"

Ringo takes a half-step back. Before I realize what she's doing, her arm is already swinging in a long arc over her head. I wince at the dull thud of her fist coming down on Sumi's helmet. "We are NOT doing this right now," Ringo states forcefully. Um, that's really not a normal Ringo tone of voice. I'm kind of intimidated, and she wasn't even talking to me.

"Shhhiiit. Ow," Sumi groans, clutching at her head. It's still Sumi though, so she recovers fairly quickly. "You fucking-"

"S-Sumi!" Why are you guys fighting?! Don't do that! Sumi's closer to me, so I grab her by the arm. Even if I don't know what's going on exactly, I do know that this situation needs to calm down right now.

Sumi stops before closing any distance with Ringo. She looks back at my worried face, then Yamame, then the surrounding area. Err, when did those people start watching us? We're making a scene, aren't we? "Fffffine," Sumi relents, shoulders slumping as she shakes her arm out of my grip. "I don't like it, but I guess this is your problem. I can't fucking believe you though, Ringo."

"What exactly is the problem?" I have to ask because I only kind of get what's happening. It seems like Ringo and Sumi were talking about stuff on their own, and Sumi's annoyed at Ringo not following through on something?

"There isn't one," Ringo says with a small sigh. She takes a step to the side so that Sumi isn't between us anymore. Her expression still looks kind of complicated. "It's something between me and Sumi. Don't worry about it."

"Right..." I mean, I know that it's between them, but that doesn't make me worry any less. It would help a lot more if Ringo or Sumi would let me in on the stuff that I don't know.

"Anyway," Woah, how did Ringo get back to normal so quickly. Her face is casual again and she sounds relaxed. "Now that I've got a great first impression going for me, I'm Ringo," Ringo holds out her hand toward Yamame. "Me and Seiran have been best friends for... Dunno, some ridiculous amount of time."

Yamame looks down at Ringo's hand, but doesn't grab it. She doesn't look as shaken up by the Sumi/Ringo exchange as I feel, but she might still be a little surprised. Instead of shaking Ringo's hand she chooses to bow lightly and give off her normal smile. "Yamame Kurodani," She gives her full name, because I honestly forgot what her last name was. Oops. "I was just showing Seiran around to some places when we happened to see the two of you. I though it might be good to say hello. Although um," She glances quickly at Sumi, who's currently got her helmet off and is looking it over. "Maybe we shouldn't have?"

"Hm?" Sumi notices that somebody's paying attention to her. "Nah, I'm fine," She says casually. "We do this kinda stuff all the time, and this helmet's solid enough. Ringo's only dented it a couple of times. I'm more annoyed at her being a giant puss than anything else," Sumi finishes the inspection of her helmet and flips it back onto her head. "I'm Sumi."

"Well, I wouldn't be able to live down here if I wasn't used to a bit of roughhousing," Yamame's laughter sounds more like the forced, polite type than anything, but at least she isn't too put off by my friends. That's a bit of a relief. It's one less type of embarrassment that I have to feel tonight. "You'll probably fit right in like that actually. Nice to meet you."

"Right," Ringo laughs as well, and it also sounds kind of fake. Err, there's still some tension going on right now, isn't there? "So uh, Seiran. What are you thinking now? This whole situation is a little unexpected to be honest."

What am I thinking? "What do you mean?"

"I mean like, I didn't really expect that you'd go out looking to be alone with this girl, so uh," Yeah, this is definitely not normal Ringo attitude. Even if her tone is sounding like it, the words she's using are too hesitant and unsure. "I'm just wondering if you've done that for long enough and we can all have a look around together, or what?" Sumi shoots Ringo another annoyed look, but doesn't say anything.

So basically Ringo's asking if I want to continue my date with Yamame by myself or if I want her and Sumi to come along. I kind of feel like there's more behind the question than just that though...

[ ] Ask to meet back up with Ringo and Sumi at the plant
[ ] Ask Ringo and Sumi to come along right now
[ ] Ask Yamame to meet up another time, spend the evening with just Ringo and Sumi
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[X] Ask to meet back up with Ringo and Sumi at the plant

Sorry Ringo, you had your chance(s). Right now it's time for Spiderbutt!
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[X] Ask Yamame to meet up another time, spend the evening with just Ringo and Sumi

Well that was... complicated. I'd be fine with either this choice, or meeting back up with Ringo and Sumi later, but having everyone go together would likely end badly, at least while this tension is still here. I love Yamame, but I think Seiran should keep her friends close rather than putting strain on her relationships for some casual dating like Yamame said.
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[x] Ask to meet back up with Ringo and Sumi at the plant

I feel like this is the most interesting option.
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[X] Ask Yamame to meet up another time, spend the evening with just Ringo and Sumi

This is difficult, I really don't want to blow off Yamame, but I feel if we kind of push Ringo away again something important's gonna be lost. What we really need is for Seiran to figure out what's up before further pursuing the silky ass.
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Hooooo boy. Shoulda seen that coming.

Telling Ringo to go away would be a slap in the face. Telling Yamame to go away feels rude, and Ringo did suggest it, so...

[x] Ask Ringo and Sumi to come along right now
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[x] Ask to meet back up with Ringo and Sumi at the plant

You can't just stop a date and invite a couple of third wheels along half way through. That's rude.

Also, I think if we go with Yameme now, Ringo might get jealous enough to stop beating around the bush and finally spit it out. So far, Ringo has been trying to play it cool and make her flirting subtle, which just goes right over Seiran's innocent little head. The only reason Yamame got us on a date was because she flirted with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the face. If Ringo wants Seiran she has to take action, and our dating Yamame could be the push Ringo needs.
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[x] Ask Ringo and Sumi to come along right now
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[X] Ask Yamame to meet up another time, spend the evening with just Ringo and Sumi

How many fucking signals will Ringo get. And I thought Yamame was supposed to be the slow one.
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[x] Ask to meet back up with Ringo and Sumi at the plant

I feel this is the best option, imo.
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[X] Ask to meet back up with Ringo and Sumi at the plant

Gonna have to abandon all subtlety if you want to get through to her Ringo. Seiran is an innocent bunny who has no idea what subtext is.
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[x] Ask to meet back up with Ringo and Sumi at the plant
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Where should we go
[X] Ask to meet back up with Ringo and Sumi at the plant

That question actually feels really hard to answer. Ordinarily yeah, of course I would want Ringo to come along. Like she just said a moment ago, the two of us have been close for some really long period of time. I don't know the exact amount but that isn't really important. The important thing is that Ringo is my best friend and I almost always want her to be around. This just might be a situation that falls outside of that almost always qualifier.

To be honest, I already feel like I haven't been repaying Yamame's kindness properly. For pretty much the whole evening I've been a nervous, stuttering mess. Even if she acts like it's okay and it doesn't bother her, I still think she'd be happier to be guiding someone that could keep up with her socially. In most social situations, my normal answer is to bring Ringo in. She can handle that kind of stuff better than I can. That isn't going to work here. If anything, it would be rude. For whatever reason, Yamame asked me out specifically, and I decided that I wanted to give it a chance. Even if I'm being awkward, my nervousness about dating isn't going to get better if all I do is hide behind Ringo.

"I think we should maybe plan on meeting back up later," I answer. It comes out sounding kind of unsure, but that's more due to not knowing how to phrase it properly than not knowing what I want to happen. I want to spend a bit more time with just me and Yamame, but I don't want Ringo or Sumi to be upset. I guess they could be though, I did lie to them and try to sneak around on my own.

"O-oh okay. Um, yeah sure," Ringo seems slightly caught off guard, but looks like she's trying not to show it. It's easy for me to notice though, Ringo never stutters. "So like somewhere else in the city or...?"

"Well, I was more thinking it'd be back at the plant," I feel kind of awful about this because Ringo doesn't seem to be happy about my answer, and I'm not sure if I have a way to make it better. Might as well try still I guess. "I mean, that makes sense right? It's somewhere that all three of us can find our way to easily. It also means we don't have to worry about meeting back up at a specific time, we can just head back when we're done for the night."

Ringo purses her lips for a moment, glancing off to the side before quickly getting back to a more normal expression. Yup, makes sense. Can't argue with that," She nods a few times, but doesn't really look at me. "Then I guess I'll keep Sumi on a leash for a while and keep looking around. We'll see you later, okay?" Then, as an afterthought. "Also, uh, try to keep safe and stuff, alright?"

I'm a little more concerned about them than I think they need to be about me. Yamame is going to be guiding me, so I'm sure we won't end up anywhere dangerous. "Same to you," I answer back casually. "See you later Ringo."

"Right," Ringo gives a softer than normal smile before turning back toward Sumi, who has been watching the exchange with an increasingly sour look on her face. "Come on, let's see if we can scrounge up some money somewhere or something," Ringo sounds a little halfhearted as she starts walking back the way she and Sumi originally came.

Sumi gives me a small wave of her hand before following along with Ringo. "God fucking daaaamn. I still cannot fucking believe you," She groans. If Ringo responds to that, I don't hear it. She's already far enough away that whispers or maybe even soft talking would be inaudible from this distance. Actually, doesn't it seem like she's walking a little bit faster than normal?

Yamame and I watch my friends leave in silence for a bit. "So," Yamame starts after they are definitely out of earshot. "They seemed um..."

I don't really blame Yamame for not finishing her sentence. That was probably a pretty weird first impression. Well, let's be a little fair here. "Ringo was acting a little unusual, so I wouldn't judge her based off that," I explain. I don't know how much it will matter or how much Ringo and Yamame will actually meet, but I'd still rather that Yamame not have a negative impression of my best friend. "Although I admit that Sumi was pretty much completely normal. It's amazing how much stuff she can say that goes over my head given how direct she is. It can be a little tough to deal with her, but I'm used to it by now."

"Hmmm," Yamame accepts my words without too much comment. "Are you sure that you should just let them go like that though? It's not really my place to say but..." She trails off, looking in the general direction that Ringo and Sumi are walking. "Well, I guess you know them better than I do," She finally decides.

That's definitely true, although I kind of get what Yamame is trying to say. Ringo's behavior is definitely still bothering me a little bit. I need to talk to her later and ask what the problem is I think. I kind of expected her to be upset at me for lying and going off on my own, but it seemed a little more complicated than that. Actually, now that I think about it, wasn't I planning to talk to Sumi about the thing between her and Yuzuki at some point too? Ugh, this day never ends.

Not that I'm in a hurry to get away from Yamame, of course.

"So anyway," When it seems like I'm getting lost in my thoughts and worries, I'm interrupted by Yamame continuing the conversation. She takes a few steps away from me, toward the center of the street. Traffic here is still relatively light, and there don't appear to be any vehicles aside from the occasional cart, so she's not really in the way standing out like this. "Before you noticed those two, we were talking about places to go. Or rather I was asking you if you had any preference."

Oh yeah, now that we're alone together again, it's time to get back to the actual date thing. "R-right," Unfortunately, even if she asks me for a preference I don't really know what the options available are. Considering that I'm broke, there probably aren't too many of them either. Oh, that's something to bring up. "Well, I still don't have any money, and I'd prefer to not have you pay for both of us the whole time, so um..."

Yamame laughs, starting to walk down the street and beckoning me to follow. I don't know where we're going yet but I guess it should be fine. "I don't mind spending a little more you know. You're definitely worth more than just the price of some tea," She assures me.

"Well..." I get what she's saying, even if it is a little embarrassing. I'm well aware that going out and having fun usually requires spending at least some money.

"I can see that it makes you uncomfortable though, so we can keep it simple this time," It doesn't exactly make her wrong, but it seems that a lot of things actually make me uncomfortable. In fact, having it pointed out how uncomfortable I am is making me a little uncomfortable too. Guh, I'm going to get stuck in a discomfort spiral or something. "I don't mind, by the way. You already explained yourself, and I understand," Yamame assures me, which makes me feel a little bit relieved. I move up a little bit so that I can walk beside Yamame instead of behind her. "Plus, and forgive me if it makes me sound like a sadist or something, your awkwardness really is cute to me. I know that you're honestly trying, and it's kind of refreshing when most people down here are all about keeping up false or exaggerated bravado."

I feel myself squirm slightly at the compliment. She keeps calling me cute! It's not like I don't think that I am, it's just weird when other people say it out loud. I'm blushing again, aren't I? Quick, deflect before she notices! There should be something I can bring up. Oh, I know! "What's a sadist?" She said that word, but I don't think I've ever heard it before.

Yamame giggles slightly as we continue walking toward a more densely populated area. I don't get it. Did she think I was joking? I silently wait for her to finish laughing, and when she does, she notices that I'm not laughing too. "Err, you really don't...?" I just look at her curiously, which causes her stride to break as we stop and stare at each other. Oh? Now she's the one that looks a little embarrassed. I feel like I just accomplished some kind of minor victory here. Yay? "Hmm. Well you don't really have to worry about it. Let's just keep walking, I've got an idea on where to go, and we can talk along the way, alright?" Well, she was the one that stopped first.


We continue on through the city in a similar manner to before. Walking along, I get to hear stories and tidbits of info from Yamame about random places that we pass. We mostly stick to the main roads, occasionally having to cross a short bridge over one of the rivers. I've kinda lost my sense of where we are relative to where we've been, but I'd guess that we're heading into both larger and older parts of the city just by the architecture. At the very least it's a more popular part of it. We actually have to avoid running into people here. Not that I find that to be all that difficult. I have lived in a big city before after all.

"Anyway," Yamame continues after a while. We're a little bit slower, and have to stick a little bit closer together, but it's not so bad that we can't keep making conversation. "You asked that question about what sadist means earlier, and that does bring up something I wanted to ask about," But she's not going to tell me what it means, is she? Why do people keep doing this to me? I would know what more of these weird words mean if people would just tell me about them! "I don't want to be rude, but I have to know. How are you so pure?"

"W-what?" The question surprises me enough that I bump shoulders with some slimy looking youkai. Like, literally slimy. Eww, what is that goop? No, that's not the important thing here. "Pure?" If anything, I'm not pure at all. Earth is pretty impure, and I've been down here for months. I've been gradually breaking more and more rules, and it's not like I put a lot of thought and effort into all the rules for what is pure and what isn't back home. I just did what I thought was best. Any lunarian that really looked into it would probably find plenty of impurities in me.

"Yeah, I mean, at first I thought you might have just been ignoring my obvious come-ons because you weren't interested, since I wasn't really trying to be subtle. I was shocked when you just directly asked me if I was hitting on you like you genuinely weren't sure. I didn't expect that somebody would miss subtext and innuendo so easily. It's especially surprising now in hindsight with how your friend Sumi acts," Urgh. Well I'm just not used to it and... I'm blushing again, but for a different reason this time. Well at least my circulatory system is getting a good workout today, having to keep bringing all this blood up to my face. "I mean, don't get me wrong. It's actually completely adorable, and I really do like it. I'm just amazed that someone like you actually exists. There can't be that many people from the surface that are like you, right?"

That's probably true. No, actually it's definitely true. There are only six moon rabbits that I know of on Earth, and none of the others are like me. The others all have their quirks and I have mine. I think mine are the most normal, but I'm admittedly biased in that. "I can't really explain why or how I am this way," I say after a short pause to think about it. At least I can't explain it in an appropriately vague way that is. "I just had a different set of experiences than most people, and now I am the way that I am," That's about as honest and vague as I can get on such short notice anyway.

Yamame nods thoughtfully as we pull into a more open town square type of area. I wonder if this is the same area that Sanae told me to meet up with Ringo and Sumi in originally. I don't see any statue, so I guess not. "Well, I don't know everything about above ground, but there must be a lot to it if it can make people like you just as well as some of the other surfacers I've met," Yamame says with a sigh. Well, it can't exactly do that, but whatever. I'm not going to point that out. "It must be really amazing up there. To be honest, the small area and centralized society down here kind of hurts the diversity. I'm not saying I dislike the people or the city down here, it's just that a lot of them do end up a little samey."

Oh yeah, I can relate to this. It's just like in the capital back home. In fact, the Moon might actually be worse considering all of the rabbits being connected by telepathy. There's definitely a lot of groupthink going on a lot of the time. "I kinda get what you're talking about, yeah."

"But it's not a big deal, just one of my own issues with this place. Not a big deal," Yamame shrugs, coming to a stop near the center of the square. It's awfully crowded here, isn't it? "You just moved down here, and I want you to have a good time, so I shouldn't be talking crap about the city. We should be having fun. Speaking of which, what do you think of this?" Yamame holds her arms out to either side, pointing to both sides of the square. I can't look both ways at once, so I pick the right.

Along the side of the plaza, set up in front of the various buildings and stands, are a large selection of different wooden booths. I can't exactly tell what each one is, but I can at least see that they're all either stalls or shops of some kind or another. The specifics are a bit hard to see, given that most of them have some kind of crowd of tons of different youkai in front of them. Still, I think I know what this is.

"Is this some kind of festival for something?" I ask, probably unnecessarily. We didn't have parties very often back home, but that doesn't mean I'm unfamiliar with the idea.

"Not exactly," Yamame says, lowering her arms back down and smiling happily at me before she begins looking around herself. I wonder if she has something she wants to do here. "Well, it is a festival, but there isn't any real reason behind it. I've said before that the whole capital is in a perpetual state of party, right? Well this is just another part of it. The group that runs this place generally moves location every few days, but they're always set up somewhere in the city."

"Uh huh..."

"It tends to be a bit more popular with kids, so they've kinda marketed toward that niche by keeping things relatively tame compared to other parts of the city," Hm, I have noticed a lot of smaller youkai around, not to mention there seems to be less drinking in general. That's not to say that there isn't any going on of course. There are definitely some oni sitting around drinking and laughing, but it really does seem a bit more subdued than I expected. Heck, I was probably more rowdy at the party last night than the people here are being. That's kind of embarrassing to think about. "That's not really my reasoning for coming here though. I mostly chose it because things are generally pretty cheap, so you don't have to feel bad about doing whatever you want, okay? Let's just have some fun."

I look over the festival some more. I guess I could see myself doing some of this stuff. It might be interesting to do some window shopping, although I don't know if I would ask Yamame to buy something for me. I also see a couple of games that I could try. I'm pretty sure that's a shooting gallery over there, and I might not be suited for it, but it looks like I already have the right kind of hammer for that test of strength thing.

"But hey, if you think it's lame, I'm perfectly open to going somewhere else," Yamame adds. "This was just a random idea of mine."

[ ] Spend some time at the festival (Choose 2-3)
- [ ] Let's look around the shops for a souvenir, maybe one of the other rabbits would appreciate it.
- [ ] A shooting gallery sounds like it should be easy. I am trained for this.
- [ ] If I already have a hammer, I might as well try the test of strength.
- [ ] I haven't eaten in a while. Maybe festival food will be good.
- [ ] Is that a petting zoo? What kind of animals would they even have down here?
- [ ] There's a corner over there that seems to be dedicated to just music and dance. Let's look at that.
- [ ] Let's just sit and do some people watching. We can talk while we do it.
[ ] Leave the festival
- [ ] Maybe we could go somewhere more mature?
- [ ] I'd like to see Yamame's house actually, although that means leaving the city again.
- [ ] I'm still pretty clean, but I don't know when I might get another chance to go to hot springs.
- [ ] Somewhere else (Write-in)

See, it's not just me. I had to wait 3 threads but I'm finally vindicated.
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- [X] Let's just sit and do some people watching. We can talk while we do it.
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[x] Spend some time at the festival (Choose 2-3)
- [x] Let's look around the shops for a souvenir, maybe one of the other rabbits would appreciate it.
- [x] A shooting gallery sounds like it should be easy. I am trained for this.
- [x] If I already have a hammer, I might as well try the test of strength.

A festival like this seems good enough for our purr protagonist.

And, of course, the answer to the Ringo problem is to tak her on a date too, ASAP.
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[X] Spend some time at the festival (Choose 2-3)
- [X] A shooting gallery sounds like it should be easy. I am trained for this.
- [X] Let's just sit and do some people watching. We can talk while we do it.

Seiran is going to have to confront Ringo about this later.
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[x] Spend some time at the festival (Choose 2-3)
- [x] A shooting gallery sounds like it should be easy. I am trained for this.
- [x] If I already have a hammer, I might as well try the test of strength.

We don't have money to buy a souvenir but if we win something we can give it to Ringo to really twist the knife.
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[X] Spend some time at the festival (Choose 2-3)
- [X] A shooting gallery sounds like it should be easy. I am trained for this.
- [X] Let's just sit and do some people watching. We can talk while we do it.

Spiderbutt, Spiderbutt...
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[X] Spend some time at the festival
- [X] Let's look around the shops for a souvenir, maybe one of the other rabbits would appreciate it.
- [X] Is that a petting zoo? What kind of animals would they even have down here?
- [X] Let's just sit and do some people watching. We can talk while we do it.

Aaw, I like this Yamame. Initially I kind of felt like we were pursuing the silky ass just because it was the only hint of romance we got in this story, but now I can see this working out...provided we can get past the Ringo situation.
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[x] Spend some time at the festival (Choose 2-3)
- [x] Let's look around the shops for a souvenir, maybe one of the other rabbits would appreciate it.
- [x] A shooting gallery sounds like it should be easy. I am trained for this.
- [x] If I already have a hammer, I might as well try the test of strength.

I second this idea.
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[x] Spend some time at the festival (Choose 2-3)
- [x] A shooting gallery sounds like it should be easy. I am trained for this.
- [x] If I already have a hammer, I might as well try the test of strength.
- [x] Let's just sit and do some people watching. We can talk while we do it.

Festivals are always cool.
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You know, I was already aware that I'm developing a problem of making my updates too long, so I probably should have limited the choices to 2 instead of 3. Whoops.

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Surprise skills
[X] A shooting gallery sounds like it should be easy. I am trained for this.
[X] If I already have a hammer, I might as well try the test of strength.
[X] Let's just sit and do some people watching. We can talk while we do it.

No, I'm not really in a hurry to leave. We just got here, and it's not like I have a better idea on places to go. Yamame's the one showing me around, and if she had the random idea to come here, I'm fine with it. I'm not exactly sure what all is here yet, but I don't see a reason not to have a look around. Worst comes to worst, I can just let Yamame do whatever she wants.

Speaking of that. "Is there anything in particular that you want to do here?" Maybe she'll say something that we're both interested in and we can go from there.

Yamame looks around for a moment, not locking on to anything specific before she turns back to me. "Kind of, or at least I'd be able to find something since we're here. I don't have anything pressing though. I'd rather let you take the lead if anything catches your eye."

Okay, sure I guess. Let me see. It looks like there are quite a few different shops for buying merchandise here, but honestly I'm a little more interested in the games. While it might be neat to do some window shopping and look over what each stall has to offer, I'm still broke. Yes, Yamame has pointed out that she's okay with spending a little more money, but it's still a little embarrassing. The game stalls probably cost less, should be fun in their own right, and have their own set of winnable prizes if things go well. Those are good justifiable reasons to ask Yamame to help pay for them, right?

I'm still going to say that it's a little embarrassing though.

Well, I guess since she asked, something did in fact catch my eye earlier. I turn my head to look toward the shooting gallery again. I've been practicing how to shoot for decades, so I could probably do pretty well in a game like that. I will admit that it's been a while since I've been to a range and practiced properly though. There hasn't been any need to shoot stuff down here, and not all of the mare bases had the option available. I could end up being a little bit rusty, but I don't know if that will matter much. Muscle memory is hard to forget, plus it's just a festival game. It's not going to measure up to lunarian military training. At least I hope not.

Before I answer, Yamame has already followed my gaze toward the stall in question. "Hm?" She makes a small surprised noise once she gets a clear look. There's still a bit of a crowd after all, you can't perfectly see everything going on. "You're interested in that kind of game? That's a little unexpected."

I know I probably shouldn't mention the years of experience and practice. It's not exactly about me not wanting to shatter whatever (apparently adorably pure) mental image she has of me, but that information isn't really possible to disentangle from the rest of the classified being-from-the-Moon stuff. Vague awkwardness it is. The old standby. "Well, kinda? I just thought it might be interesting. We don't have to do it if you don't want to."

Yamame looks at the stall again, then back at me. She stares into my face for a moment, looking a little skeptical. "Hmmm... You don't look like you want to give up on it to me. I think you're more excited about the idea than you're letting on. I can see that look in your eyes. Behind your harmless appearance is some kind of stone cold killer just waiting for a chance to strike!" Wait, really? Okay, I know that I'm not in the best control of my face sometimes, but I don't know how I would even look like that at all! "Heheha! I'm just kidding," Yamame laughs at my distress. Oh, good. She wasn't serious. "Come on, let's go give it a try,"

We move across the square. Occasionally we have to dodge a few people, but it's not so dense that moving is much of a problem. Once we reach the stall, we settle into waiting in line. Well, it's more like we are the line right now, because there's only one person in front of us, and he's currently playing. I'm perfectly okay with waiting though. It gives me a bit of time to figure out how the game actually works.

I can't see what kind of gun is being used, but I can see the targets that need to get hit. They look like discs made of some kind of light stone hanging on a much larger wooden column. Whenever a target is hit, they're designed to fall off and land on the ground. Isn't that a little wasteful? Some of them are actually breaking. I guess it's not my problem. Anyway, the wooden base column appears to be suspended from the ceiling of the booth, which lets it move around and increase the difficulty in hitting the targets as the game goes on. I don't know exactly how the mechanics up in the ceiling work out, but it's actually a little impressive if they're presumably doing it without electricity. As Yamame and I watch, I see that the column is easily able to rotate, swing, and move closer or further away from the front counter. I guess that's how they customize the difficulty.

The youkai in front of us (I don't know Earth animals very well, but he has a head of one. It's not a cow, but it's similar, right? I can't remember what it's called.) finishes up soon enough. It looks like you only get a certain number of shots to clear out as many targets as you can. He got quite a few while the pillar wasn't moving around, but didn't have enough shots left to get much done once the thing began swinging. He sets the gun down on the counter with an annoyed noise, leaving without even taking a prize. Did he not earn one or did he not care?

"Evening ladies!" The man behind the counter greets us so enthusiastically that his tongue extends out of his mouth. Actually it might just be really long now that I look at him. The heavily red tinted, weirdly clammy looking skin kind of makes it obvious he's some kind of youkai. That's probably a good default assumption of anyone down here really. "If you're looking for a game of skill and dexterity you've come to the right place. Which one of you will be taking on the challenge?"

"Seiran will!" Yamame meets the youkai's enthusiasm in kind and gives me a slight push forward. It's just hard enough that I almost run into the counter, but I stumble to a stop before embarrassing myself. Um, hi mister youkai. Now that I think of it, it's been a while since I've had to deal with a male. It's not a big deal I guess, it's just weird how much more we've been running into girls compared to guys. "But I'm paying, so how exactly does this work?" Yamame asks, stepping up next to me.

"You pay up front for a certain number of shots. We set up eight targets per ten shots. There's no limit to how many shots you can buy, and you get a prize depending on how many targets you hit."

"Hmm," Yamame nods before facing me. "So how confident are you Seiran?"

How confident am I? In most situations it wouldn't be very confident, but since we're dealing with shooting... Wait, what the heck is this thing? Is this the gun I'm going to have to use? Well I was feeling pretty good about this game until I tried picking this thing up. The term 'improvised' is probably the nicest way to put it. This whole thing is basically four parts. The main body is just a pistol shaped hunk of (admittedly well carved) rock. There's a small steel tube secured on top, which is clearly the barrel, and the other two parts appear to be some kind of metal scraps, twisted around the body to act as a hammer and a simple trigger holding it back. I can kinda see how this is supposed to work but...

"Um, can I have one test shot before I decide?" I ask awkwardly. Well, at least he doesn't seem annoyed by the request. Instead, the youkai pulls out what looks like a tiny ball bearing and gestures to hand him the gun. I do so somewhat gingerly, and he shows me how to load it. You just stick the ammo in the barrel, one at a time. Hmm, single shot and muzzle loaded, so the time between shots is going to be pretty long. It'll be hard to get into a groove. I'll have to adjust and get comfortable for each shot. That might or might not be a problem depending on how accurate it is.

Once the pistol is loaded, the stall attendant hands it back to me. Okay, even if it doesn't look like anything special, I know for a fact that this thing is loaded now. Need to be careful. Trigger discipline and all that. I experimentally try aiming down the top. There obviously aren't any sights, but this works okay I guess. Hmm, there's no safety either. I really will want to be careful here if I'm going to have to reload between each shot. This may be a bit of a slow process if I want to get it right...

There's a high pitched pinging noise when I finish aiming and fire. That's from the bullet hitting the target I was aiming at, the pistol itself is rather quiet. Hmm, well, it's surprisingly accurate and has very little recoil. The trigger pull is also extremely low. I kinda wonder how this thing actually works. I don't think there's much in the way of mechanics built into the rock part, so I'd have to guess some magic is involved. Probably something simple to keep you from having to insert gunpowder or an equivalent as well as the ammunition. Maybe the hammer activates a small enchantment to cause an ignition or something? If they're going to go that far though, why not just have the gun fire danmaku? Not that I'm complaining exactly. Even if it's low tech, this feels more authentic and familiar to me, so-

"Seiran, hello?" Yamame's voice suddenly interrupts my thoughts. "You okay there?"

"Huh?!" I jerk up suddenly, but manage not to drop the pistol in surprise. Oh, I've just been sitting here silently staring at this thing for a while, haven't I? I hope I haven't been ignoring too much of whatever Yamame or the stall attendant have said to me. "Err, I'm fine. I was just thinking," I mumble. Yeah, good job not looking like a weirdo there.

"You looked like you were getting into it," Yamame says with a small laugh. It sounds more like she's trying to play off my behavior than anything, but I can appreciate that.

"Yeah kinda..." I don't really dislike guns, and I'm a pretty good shot, so I guess it's fair to say that I was getting into it. I did ask to do this after all. I want to try and have some fun with it.

"It was a good shot for a first timer," The youkai says cheerfully, taking a step back to pick the target up off the ground. "Of course, the game gets harder as you go, so you won't always have an easy shot like that," He hangs the target back on the central column and turns back to Yamame and I. "You ready to really give the game a spin? Just give me a number of rounds and it's off you'll go."

Well, all the issues I've already found with this pistol aside, it was accurate enough. Even if the targets are all the way at the back of the stall, this should still be much easier than some of the shots I had to make back home. "How many targets do I have to hit to get any prize I want?"

"You can get any prize you want when you hit thirty-two targets," That doesn't sound like very many, but I guess if they raised the number it'd take a long time to have to load and fire every shot. "For beginners like yourself I'd normally suggest you start off with fifty or sixty tries."

"Forty shots is fine," That even gives me eight extra shots. I probably won't land absolutely every shot perfectly, but eight extra shots is way more than I should need.

"You sure? Like I said, the game gets tougher as it goes on, you can buy extra shots. If you're really gunning for something specific, it might be nice to have some insurance, right?" I'm choosing to ignore that pun.

"No, forty is plenty."


Once Yamame's paid for my shots and I've gone through a couple, the unfamiliarity with this pistol quickly stops being a factor. I settle into a mechanical routine of loading, pulling the hammer back, aiming, firing, hearing the ping, and repeating. The stall attendant spends most of the time dramatically attempting to play up the difficulty of what I'm doing, although I'm not sure if it's to try and throw me off or to impress Yamame. If it's the former then it doesn't work, but the latter definitely does. I gradually get used to hearing Yamame's sounds of amazement or encouragement as I go through the motions. It might be a tiny bit distracting, but it really does feel good to have somebody cheering me on.

I hit the thirty-second target on my thirty-fourth shot. I'm going to blame the two missed shots on rustiness. Even if the targets were both spinning around and swaying at the end there, they were still way closer than most of the targets I would have had to hit in drills back home.

"And we have a winner!" Although he seems pretty surprised, the stall attendant doesn't seem bothered with how easily I won. He's happily ringing a bell and calling attention to my victory, which is just a little bit embarrassing. "Veeeerry impressive little lady. Go ahead and pick your prize."

Oh right, the prizes. Honestly I was just playing this game for the game itself, and have barely even looked at what exactly I can get now that I've won. The attendant points me over to the bigger prizes and lets me look them over. Hm, I guess even if I can't find something I'm interested in, there must be something her that somebody I know will appreciate.

[ ] There's no shortage of cheap looking jewelry available. Maybe I can find something worthwhile though.
[ ] They just have a keg of some kind of alcohol as a prize?... Well, maybe it wouldn't hurt to have that on hand for any kind of special occasion coming up...
[ ] A well cut, oddly geometrically patterned crystal of some kind. It's multicolored and quite pretty, although I don't know what you would use it for other than some kind of paper weight.
[ ] A small set of wooden drums. Obviously meant to be played by hand. Probably not the highest quality instrument ever, but should be fun to play with for a bit.
[ ] Are those fireworks? Can you even safely set off fireworks underground? Would the oni even care about safety?
[ ] A discount coupon for any of the area's hot springs. 10% off per person for a party of up to 5. Makes a special note that the offer does not include extra booze.
[ ] A less well carved copy of the gun I was just using. I know that this thing isn't strong enough to really injure anyone down here, but just handing out guns like this strikes me as a little irresponsible.
[ ] I'll dig around some more maybe I can find... Wait, what is this thing? (Write in, be reasonable, it's just a dumb carnival game)

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Definitely interested
"So, got any other secret talents?" Yamame asks happily as we walk in a random direction through the square. Yamame's been in a good (or more accurately, even better) mood ever since we left the shooting gallery. Honestly it's making me feel pretty happy too, considering that she's happy about me.

"N-not really," I mumble so bashfully and quietly that I'm not really sure if Yamame hears me over the ambient noise of all the festival goers. Actually, I'm still not completely sure how to explain my proficiency in firearms, but Yamame thankfully isn't asking for any specifics about that. Probably better to just move on from it. "Well, I'm pretty good at making mochi too. Or at least Ringo and the others seem to like it a lot."

"Shooting guns and making mochi?" Yamame laughs out loud. "How multifaceted. I'm one lucky girl, aren't I? I managed to catch somebody like you before anyone else could."

I feel myself blushing a little bit again, even though I know this is just more good natured teasing. "I'm not so great at much else, so I dunno about that," I say, trying to keep her from saying more embarrassing things.

"Hm, that reminds me though. There's that game over there where you could try putting one of your much more obvious character traits to use," Yamame gestures over toward the test of strength game. I did notice that earlier. "If you're okay with the idea anyway. If you'd rather not use your security blanket for something like that then it's fine."

Yamame quickly starts giggling at me while I try not to look embarrassed over the security blanket thing again. Does she really never get tired of teasing me? It's not like she's saying anything mean, it's just that I'm really easily embarrassed right now. Ugh, fine. Moving on then. "I was thinking about trying that, but I'm not particularly strong. You'll probably be throwing your money away if we pay to try that thing out."

"Money doesn't have any value unless you're spending it anyway," I feel like there's something irresponsibly wrong about that statement, but I can't put an argument against it into words before Yamame starts walking away. "Come on, let's go!" Well... Fine I guess.

The test of strength game (which I guess turns out to be called a high striker? Kind of a simple name but okay) is actually pretty popular. It doesn't take much thought to understand why though, given where we are. Oni are more than eager to smash a mallet down on a lever, sending the puck up far enough to ring the bell. The line here is much longer than the shooting gallery, but aside from Yamame and I, it's all oni. This gets us a few curious looks, but it's not like anyone makes us leave. It's more like they're just curious why we're bothering. Hey, it's not like it's a hard game. We're allowed to try it out. Isn't it boring just watching oni after oni go up there and win?

Yes, from the time that Yamame and I get in line to this point, where we're the next on deck, nobody fails to hit the bell. I guess that's normal for oni though, as most of the patrons look less excited at their victory and more like they feel like they're obligated to win, so they were expecting to hit the bell all along. Maybe it's a pride thing. Kind of ruins the fun if you already know you're going to succeed though, doesn't it? Actually, I knew I was going to win at the shooting gallery, so I guess I can't talk.

"Nothin' unexpected, just a straight forward game to separate the men from the boys," The man tending this stall is obviously an oni. He's a little bit scrawny compared to most of the ones I've been seeing, and also possibly sober. A pretty big change of pace. "Err, or the youkai ladies from the youkai girlies?" He says, sounding slightly unsure. I guess he doesn't get a lot of female patrons? You'd think the oni ladies would still be into this type of thing. "Of course, not that you're any less of a lady if you can't hit the thing hard enough," He clarifies, well I guess I'm not the only one tripping over my words today.

"Nice save," Yamame says casually. I'm not really bothered by what the oni said, and she doesn't look like she is either. Instead, she just moves on by motioning toward me. "It's fine that Seiran's got her own mallet though, right?"

"Hmm?" The oni looks curious. People bringing their own mallets probably isn't a normal occurance. There's a perfectly good one already sitting right next to the machine that you have to hit. Mine is a little bit longer, but also somewhat thinner. Not sure whether that would make it advantageous to use or not. Well, since he's looking, I hold my mallet out for him to look at. I'm not going to let him take it, but he can obviously look it over if he wants. "Sure thing, looks fine to me!"

Yamame pays the man and tells me that I can go ahead. I get three tries to hit it hard enough to make the bell ring. Okay, this isn't that much different than pounding mochi. Well, it's supposed to be one all or nothing swing instead of a marathon of regular swings, but at least the motion is pretty much the same. Just need to think of it like that. "HMPH!"



So despite my embarrassingly unladylike grunt of effort, the puck didn't even go a tenth of the way up. It didn't even reach the notch in the tower labelled 'weenie'.

In fact it barely even moved.

... This is awkward.


... There are way too many people around, don't you think?

"Um!" Yamame hurriedly cuts in by talking to the oni in charge of the game. "Maybe you forgot to set it down to youkai level?" She suggests. "I'm pretty sure that it's still set for oni strength."

There's a sudden look of embarrassed realization on the oni's face. "D'oh! You're right about that one!" He hurries over behind the machine and starts messing with it. "Sorry bout that!"

Okay, okay. I don't really have to be embarrassed then. I still am a little bit, but there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for why I accomplished so little. The few people that were watching are laughing it off. I should just laugh it off too. Ha. ha. ha. It's fine. This is fine.

Why does it feel like tonight has just been a quest to collect as many different types of embarrassment as possible? I wouldn't have signed up for that of my own free will you know.

Once I've settled down a little bit, I line myself back up and take another swing. There we go, that's kinda better. This time it went up to just about half way. That spot is labelled 'Average Joe', whatever that means.

"Though it should be average Joesephine for this one, right? Josephina maybe?" The oni sounds amused. My name is Seiran you know...

Putting that aside, I take a couple more tries, but I don't really get much higher. I refine my swing (as much as that can be done in a game like this) but still only barely break three fifths of the way up by the third one. All I can pick up is that there's a decent amount of importance in accurately hitting the middle of the lever, but my arms can't make up for the lack of strength.

"It's fine Seiran," Yamame quickly assures me once I've finished. "I wouldn't do much better."

"Are you gonna try next then?" I ask. Unlike the shooting gallery, we haven't won yet. She'd probably have more fun doing something instead of just watching, right?

"Sure!" Yamame jumps over to the machine, reaching out for the mallet that isn't mine, but suddenly stops. "Err... Actually..." She glances back at me, suddenly unsure.

"What's the matter?" I don't want any more turns if that's what she's worried about. Although it seems more like she's looking "Oh, you can use mine if you want," I say, holding out my own mallet toward her.

"It's not that it's um," Yamame pauses again, looking back and forth between the two mallets. "Well, I guess that would probably be better..." She decides, but it seems like a weak decision. I don't really get what the problem is, so I can't exactly help her.

Yamame wipes her hands off on her dress a few times before gingerly taking my mallet from me. I don't mind lending it out for a short amount of time, you know? Yamame looks at me with a somewhat complicated expression, like she's concerned about something, before quickly snapping out of it. She goes right back to her usual attitude. "Alright, here I go!"


Yamame's swings go just a tiny bit higher than mine, which I'm a little surprised about given that I'm the one with the military training. Granted, I haven't exactly kept up on my workouts after we got out of basic, but still. The only reason I can think of for that is her construction working job keeping her more fit than me. I guess it's also possible that spider youkai are just naturally stronger than Moon rabbits as well. Not that I have a way of knowing that. Whatever. My ego is fine with it. I'm a girl. I'm allowed to be delicate. I know that she's a girl too, but that's not the point. Anyway, neither of us won, so we move on.

After we finish up at the test of strength game, Yamame tells me to find a bench somewhere and wait for her. Okay, that's not completely true. What actually happens is that she says she wants to pick up some food, but I decline, so then she tells me to wait around for her. I still feel a little too guilty about asking her to spend money on me. She obviously doesn't think it's a big deal, but coming from a place of being as poor as I am right now, it still feels like a big deal.

So I find a place to sit down off to the side of the festivities. It's not exactly quiet here, but it's out of the way enough that I can relax a little. Being surrounded by so many unfamiliar youkai all of the sudden was a little nerve wracking at first, I'll admit, but I feel like I've dealt with it pretty well. I just have to remind myself that everyone down here is a normal (more or less) person trying to live their life and have a good time at a festival. I can even ignore the "what kind of youkai is that" question that keeps coming to mind by answering with a default of "who cares". I know that they won't bother me or even pay me any mind if I don't do the same to them. I can just focus on me and Yamame.

Speaking of my spiderdate (hey I thought it pretty naturally there), she's coming back toward me carrying a plate of some kind of food. "I'd ask if you want some, but you don't eat meat soooo," She trails off as she plops down next to me. Hm, I don't know enough about dead Earth animals to identify what kind of meat that is. For being the roasted carcass of what was once a living thing, it looks surprisingly appetizing, but that's all I got.

"I'm fine. It gives me a chance to relax for a little bit," Actually, I haven't eaten in a while, but I'll live. I already turned her down on getting me more things, and I'm not going back on that just because her food smells surprisingly delicious. Seriously, I don't even eat meat, why does it smell so good?

I choose to distract myself by looking around some more. We're kind of far away from it, but I have noticed that the large group dancing and playing music off in the far corner has been steadily growing through the night. More people are joining in, and it seems like more instruments are being added as well. It's very heavy on drums, but it doesn't sound too bad. I can at least understand why so many people seem to be over there dancing. Combine the consistent rythm with the generally happy atmosphere, add in a generous amount of alcohol for a lot of the people involved... Sounds like an okay recipe for a good time to me.

"You feel like joining in?" Yamame suddenly asks between bites. I jerk my attention back to her, hoping that she doesn't think I'm ignoring her. She doesn't look bothered at all, even though she obviously knows where I was looking.

Right, anyway, her question. "I can't really dance," I think I tried some last night, but that was drunk me. It's practically a different person. "And no, that's not an invitation to try and teach me."

"Poo, you're no fun," Yamame pouts, for a moment, but can't keep it up for very long. "Just kidding of course. Although I know for sure that I would like to see you shaking it a little bit, and I'm hoping you're thinking the same thing about me~" She adds with a laugh once she's finished.

"R-right," I'm definitely trying NOT to think about that actually. Definitely inappropriate. Definitely not thinking about that. Definitely not blushing. Definitely not thinking about that a lot and definitely not blushing a lot.

While I'm busy not doing any of those things, my thoughts are interrupted by a familiar pinging sound. I jerk my head over to the sound's source, not because I want to change the subject or anything, I'm just curious. I quickly remember what that sound means though. Hopefully whoever that is is having fun with the shooting gallery. I know I did. I haven't gotten a chance to show off like that in years, and even back when I could, there were others that were an even better shot than I am.

Since I'm thinking about it though, there is something that I thought was kinda weird about that game. The test of strength one too. Even though we lost, we lost fairly. "I was kind of expecting the games to be more rigged against us," I mention, still staring in the general direction of the shooting range.

"Nah," Yamame counters simply, wait is that it? Oh, she's taking another bite. I'll wait for her to finish and stare at her curiously until she continues. "That's one of the big upsides of being in a city of oni. Cheaters and liars don't last long with oni around to punish them. Even if a place looks shady, it's pretty likely to still be on the up and up."

"Doesn't that make it harder for them to make a profit?" The games weren't exactly expensive, at least from my concept of Earth money, and the prizes weren't terrible.

"I can't really answer that one. I'm gonna guess that it does, but they've been in this business for years and haven't stopped yet," Yamame shrugs like she hasn't put a lot of thought into the economics of oni festivals. Actually, I don't know why I'm trying to either. "The games are just something extra anyway. Like most everything else around here, most of their money is probably made on booze sales."

I glance around and look at some of the oni spread throughout the area. With how they seem to outnumber pretty much all the other youkai down here combined, I can see how antagonizing them might hurt profits even more than just structuring your games and pricing with the assumption that they'll be able to win. It's kind of weird when you think about it actually. The oni basically rule this city by virtue of being powerful and there being a lot of them around, but it doesn't seem like they put any effort into it. This whole place is basically a functioning anarchy that only holds itself together by the oni being too drunk and generally good natured to take advantage of the weaker youkai. It's like some kind of order made out of chaos. That feels completely foreign to me as someone from the Moon.

While I don't have any evidence to say it's not working, I still feel like I need to ask a question. "Do they really need to drink that much?" Couldn't they get more done while sober?

Yamame chuckles at that. "You just haven't been around them enough. There's not much point to asking the oni why they do the things they do. You can't stop them, so your options are generally to either go along with it or ignore it," She explains, finishing up her food once she's done. "I figured that you're probably part of the people who would do the latter. Although you keep surprising me tonight, so maybe you're more into the kind of stuff that the Oni like than I thought."

Pretty sure that somebody from the Moon (who is supposed to be pure) being anything like the oni would be big problem for everyone. I'd be a bit more upset about that, but Ringo saying 'Command isn't watching, we can do what we want' quickly pops into my head. Whatever. I'm having a good time right now, and I'm not hurting anything. Who cares if I'm following any kind of Moon purity guidelines. "You're probably right for the most part anyway. I'm closer to your earlier impression than an oni."

"Hm, so you're a innocent little cutie with a hidden wild youkai side?" Yamame asks curiously. "I'd like to try and get more of that out of you too," She snickers.

Wait, I think I know this one. She said that I miss these a lot usually, but I think I caught it this time. "Is that one of those innuendos?"

"Kind of!" Yamame laughs, standing up from her spot on the bench. "I'm partially joking, but I am completely serious in that I'm even more interested in you than when we first met. It feels like there's a lot more to you that I really would like to learn about," Well I don't know how much more of me I should actually let her know about, but I understand the sentiment. It's actually really nice too. "You're going to be in the area for at least a few more days, right?"

"Y-yeah," Wait, is she...?

"Then hopefully you'll have some more nights open for me," She's actually asking me for another date after this one.

... I did it.

I dated successfully.

I did it!

I'm forcing myself to not jump up excitedly, but I'm also confused about something. "Wait, does that mean we're ending it here for tonight?"

"Not necessarily. It's just that it has been a few hours. I don't have the best idea of what time it is on the surface, but it's probably late by now," Oh, right. Kanako did warn me that losing track of time is easy down here. I have no idea what time it is either now that Yamame mentions it. I'm kind of tired physically, but the realization that I'm actually doing an okay job at this dating thing is giving me a big mental second wind. "It's up to you, we can keep going if you want."

Hm, I know I want to be up somewhat early tomorrow morning, so calling it at this point would probably be more responsible. I am tempted to be a little selfish though as well, but that could end up bad if some kind of complication comes up.

[ ] Continue the date
- [ ] Let's wander around the city some more
- [ ] Let's spend some more time at the festival
- [ ] I'd still like to see Yamame's house
[ ] End the date for tonight
- [ ] I can walk Yamame home first
- [ ] I might need Yamame to help me get back to the right tunnel

why do I do this to myself

Well, the next update will probably be shorter. It might actually be objectively short if certain things are voted for. That could be nice too.
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[X] A small set of wooden drums. Obviously meant to be played by hand. Probably not the highest quality instrument ever, but should be fun to play with for a bit.

Music is always a good choice!

[X] End the date for tonight
- [X] I might need Yamame to help me get back to the right tunnel

Responsible bunny is responsible.
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[ ] They just have a keg of some kind of alcohol as a prize?... Well, maybe it wouldn't hurt to have that on hand for any kind of special occasion coming up...

[ ] End the date for tonight
- [ ] I can walk Yamame home first
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[x] A less well carved copy of the gun I was just using. I know that this thing isn't strong enough to really injure anyone down here, but just handing out guns like this strikes me as a little irresponsible.
[x] End the date for tonight
- [x] I might need Yamame to help me get back to the right tunnel
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[x] A 20 inch chime that doesn't seem to have been touched for years.
[x] End the date for tonight
- [x] I can walk Yamame home first
A complete gentlewoman
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[X] A discount coupon for any of the area's hot springs. 10% off per person for a party of up to 5. Makes a special note that the offer does not include extra booze.

[x] End the date for tonight
- [x] I can walk Yamame home first
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[X] A well cut, oddly geometrically patterned crystal of some kind. It's multicolored and quite pretty, although I don't know what you would use it for other than some kind of paper weight.
[X] Continue the date
- [X] I'd still like to see Yamame's house

Date success!
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[X] A discount coupon for any of the area's hot springs. 10% off per person for a party of up to 5. Makes a special note that the offer does not include extra booze.
[X] Continue the date
- [X] I'd still like to see Yamame's house

Time for a hot springs episode.

> I dated successfully.
Papyrus would be proud.
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[X] A discount coupon for any of the area's hot springs. 10% off per person for a party of up to 5. Makes a special note that the offer does not include extra booze.
[X] Continue the date
- [X] I'd still like to see Yamame's house

Screw it, if we're choosing to ignore our pals we may as well go all the way.
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...fuck it. >>27479 here, changing vote to:

[x] A discount coupon for any of the area's hot springs. 10% off per person for a party of up to 5. Makes a special note that the offer does not include extra booze.
[x] End the date for tonight
- [x] I might need Yamame to help me get back to the right tunnel
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[X] A discount coupon for any of the area's hot springs. 10% off per person for a party of up to 5. Makes a special note that the offer does not include extra booze.
[X] Continue the date
- [X] I'd still like to see Yamame's house
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[x] A discount coupon for any of the area's hot springs. 10% off per person for a party of up to 5. Makes a special note that the offer does not include extra booze.
[x] End the date for tonight
- [x] I might need Yamame to help me get back to the right tunnel

I feel like if we keep going we'll go too far, by which I mean time/distance wise and won't make it back until way too late.
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So the votes worked out a little strangely here. There's 6 for ending the date and 4 for continuing it, but the ending the date votes are split 3 to 3 on walking Yamame home vs having her guide Seiran back. So we're in a weird spot where the majority is for ending the date but neither option within that has the majority. I can't hit all three things, so unless the numbers for the votes change, I'm thinking I will do the walking Yamame home thing but also include some stuff at her home as well. That covers two out of three options, and Seiran will still plan to end the date soon.

Here I am again opting into writing more. Oops.
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[x] A discount coupon for any of the area's hot springs. 10% off per person for a party of up to 5. Makes a special note that the offer does not include extra booze.
[x] End the date for tonight
- [x] I might need Yamame to help me get back to the right tunnel

Here have a tiebreaker.
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How will it end
That works

[X] A discount coupon for any of the area's hot springs. 10% off per person for a party of up to 5. Makes a special note that the offer does not include extra booze.
[X] End the date for tonight
- [X] I might need Yamame to help me get back to the right tunnel

There is definitely at least a bit of temptation to just keep going, I'm not going to pretend there isn't. I mean, come on! Most of the other rabbits aren't always responsible, so why does that mean that I have to make up for their shortcomings? I'm having fun right now. Stressful kind of confusing fun where I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing or what I'm supposed to be saying, but fun nonetheless.

But still, I know deep down that I need to reign it in. Losing track of time is a real concern. I already only have a vague sense of how many hours it's been since I left the plant, and it could get worse. I don't want to stay out for so long that I'm not any good for whatever mission related stuff we need to do tomorrow. If it were anything other than having to work on getting ourselves back to the Moon, then maybe I could see the temptation winning out, but for now, no. I'll be responsible and cautious.

"I guess you're right," I admit. My reluctance isn't at all faked. In fact, it takes me a second to realize I'm vocalizing it. "I wasn't really paying much attention to the time. That could be a problem because I might need to get up early tomorrow. Getting back to where I'm staying is probably for the best."

If Yamame is unhappy about me saying to end the date, she doesn't show it. Instead, she just seems to want to help me with my own disappointment. Hey, there's no rush," She assures me. "My schedule's pretty clear, so we should be able to meet up again soon. Actually, it's probably better that we haven't blown through everything there is to do in the city in one night. Even if it would've been a hell of a night, it would leave me without material for later."

"R-right," Considering she's the one that's always answering the 'where should we go' question, that's a fair point. Although at least I have something of my own now. When I won that shooting gallery game earlier, a lot of different things caught my eye. In the end though, I decided that instead of having some cheap little souvenir, I would try and set up for an experience that everyone in the unit could share. I'm not sure what the plan is or how I'm going to get the money for a trip to the hot springs, but it just seemed like too good of a deal to pass up. Ten percent off per person for up to five people! I've got that many friends, and I'm sure they'll all enjoy it. Although if I include Yamame along with us, then that would put us past the max size, wouldn't it? Hmm, I'm not sure if that would mean we don't get the group rate at all, or just that having her with us doesn't increase it past fifty percent. Well, I can worry about that later I guess.

"I don't exactly know what my schedule is going to be like after this," I say cautiously. Even making time for the hot springs is up in the air. "It's actually possible that I don't get a chance to come visit again," Although given how Kanako seems to be taking charge of the operation, I think getting more free time is definitely on the table if she runs out of stuff for us to do. Especially if her scientists are doing most of the really hard stuff.

"Because you're only here for a few days, right?" Yamame recalls. "That's no biggie, we could always plan on hooking up after that if you're short term busy."

"That might be a little..." Completely impossible? Urgh, why does suddenly having that thought come to mind make my stomach turn?

Yamame easily catches my hesitation, but obviously doesn't know the full scope of the problem. "I could also come visit you up top if you decide not to stay down here," She suggests, trying to sound helpful. "I would actually love a reason to head above ground. With you sweetening the deal? Sounds like it'd be a great day to me."

She's flirting with me again. I'm really going to have to get used to that. "W-well," I stutter out without thinking. You'd have to go pretty far above ground to get to where us rabbits are planning on going. Yeah, no. I can't say that. "Maybe. I don't know how everything is going to work out," I finish vaguely.

"Gotcha," I feel a little guilty about how easily she accepts my vague nonanswer. "I just hope you can keep me posted on it."

"I'll try," It has the caveat of being followed by 'as much as my own mission will let me', but I really am being as honest as I can. I don't want to just disappear completely after one night, it's just that it might be out of my control. Ugh, this whole thing just leaves a bad feeling in my gut. Can we move on? "But um, a-anyway, if we're not going to go anywhere else, can I ask you for one more little thing?"

"Oh, Seiran!" This forces me to look back up at Yamame's face. What is she so happy sounding about? "I'm definitely open to kissing on the first date, maybe even a little more, but I didn't think you'd be so bold!" She gushes excitedly.

"Wh-wh-wha-" No, that's not what I-! Kissing is-! B-but um...

Yamame suddenly breaks out laughing. "I'm kidding, I'm kidding!" She's actually doubled over from laughing so hard. A frustrated groaning sound comes out of my mouth. That wasn't a nice joke to make you know. "I do really love the look on your face right now though," She adds with a wink. "So what did you need?"

It takes me a little bit to calm my heart rate and my stammering mouth down, but I eventually get myself back under control. Once I'm better, I start explaining what I had originally wanted to say before Yamame decided to throw me for a loop. "I still don't exactly know my way around the caverns here all that well. If we just split up right now, I'm a little concerned about getting lost on my way back. Could you show me which way I should go?" I ask, then think better of it. "Or at least some of it so I can figure out the rest of the way on my own?"

"Sure!" Yamame looks more than happy to help. That's not too surprising, considering she's already been showing me around all evening. This is just an extension on that. Yamame casts a slow glance around the square, looking around as if she's already planning a route. "Err, where are we going?" She asks after a moment, probably realizing there's no route to plan without a destination in mind.

That's a bit difficult. "Um," I don't know if I should mention the plant or not. Even if she knows where it is, revealing the association with Kanako may be a bit too much information. Wait, I know! "Like maybe just the tunnel that leads toward the Palace of the Earth Spirits?" I suggest. Sanae pointed out how to get there from the plant, so I should be able to do it the other way around as well.

Yamame looks surprised at that. Did I say something weird without knowing? "Ohh, is that where you're staying? That's pretty rare," Rare but not unheard of I hope? "You on some official business or something?"

That's a little bit too close to the truth I think. "No no no," I wave my hands around, hopefully not too frantically. "The place I'm staying is just kinda close by there so um..."

Yamame looks even more curious for a moment, thinking things over. Please don't ask. Please don't ask. Please don't ask... "Well, okay," She finally shrugs. Yes! "I'll help you out. I don't really go through that area much, but I know the way, more or less."

"Hopefully a little more than less?" I ask, standing up from my seat to join her. It doesn't really matter what she says though, beggars can't be choosers.

"Hehe, don't worry, I've got you."


The two of us head through the city, down paths that I might recognize if I hadn't flown over them the first time. I'm just guessing at that actually. Realistically there would be no way that I could handle finding my way back on foot, although maybe I could have muddled through it by flying. Kind of a moot point though, Yamame knows the way, so I just have to follow along. It's a nice chance to squeeze just a little bit more time together with her, which is rather nice. Really this whole evening has been... I don't know what words to use. Let's just call it new and exciting.

Of course I know I was a nervous wreck for most of the date, but I'm always kind of like that. I get anxious and nervous and a bunch of other panicky things. That's how I've been for a long time. At least in this situation it was less because of actual danger and more because of embarrassment. It kind of sucks that my nervousness never actually prevents the bad things from happening though. Maybe I should worry less about things like that. Or maybe not. The self consciousness and anxiety may actually help keep me from being careless like certain other rabbits at certain times. That's something I bring to the group that the others don't so much.

The other rabbits... Speaking of them, I'm going to have to deal with their reactions to this too, aren't I? When we met up with them, Ringo and Sumi could obviously tell that I was on a date with Yamame. I have no confidence in Sumi to keep that from the other two as well, so there's a very good chance that word will have spread to everyone by the time I get back. That... I was kind of hoping to avoid it, but things just got out of hand too quickly. I'm definitely not going to blame Yamame for it though.

So let me think, Chiyo probably won't care about the situation. She's generally neutral about this kind of stuff, although she might tease me a bit. If I think about it, hadn't she already noticed something unusual with me and Yamame when she first saw me caught up in Yamame's arms? It's hard to tell. Chiyo doesn't talk enough to easily get a read on everything that she thinks. A part of me worries about her because of that, but another part of me is okay to let her do what she wants.

Yuzuki probably won't say much about it, although I don't think she'll like the idea. She's usually staunchly against inappropriate conduct like dating and the like. With how she's become in recent years though, she's at least been able to distinguish what is and is not her business. Most of the time anyway. She'll probably leave me alone, in fact, she probably won't really want to talk about it even if I bring it up. That's probably just an issue of her and her hangups though.

The bigger issue really is the two that actually saw me. They had reactions that weren't exactly what I expected. I'm not actually sure what exactly I did expect, but it wasn't that at least. Sumi was confused and surprised. She clearly said that the Yamame thing came out of nowhere, which I guess is true for her. She had never met Yamame, I had never talked about Yamame directly to her, and for all she knew Yamame was just another one of the miscellaneous youkai that we met while wandering Gensokyo. I guess I can kinda see why she would be surprised, but I'm still weirded out by how she seemed to get upset with Ringo right after that. Sumi getting angry at people is nothing new, but still...

Ringo... Ringo seemed lost and unsure of what to say as soon as the truth of the situation came out. That's completely different from what I'm used to when talking to her. She always knows what to say, and nothing bothers her. That's the normal Ringo. Or at least it has been for however many years that I've known her. Hm, I'm vaguely reminded of something Ringo said earlier. Stuff about how all five of us are finding out new things about ourselves and changing because of that. Maybe this is just a situation that Ringo wasn't expecting to have happen on the Moon and she's not equipped to deal with it now. I don't know why that would be though.

"Hey, you okay there?" Yamame's face suddenly enters my vision as she leans around in front of me. We're still just walking along through the city's streets, but I guess I had been spacing out and thinking about a lot of stuff.

"Huh? Oh, yeah," I mutter. Yamame hasn't been trying so hard to give out a bunch of interesting tidbits about every place we pass now, so either she doesn't have any or she's just giving me my some time to think. "It's been kind of a long day for me, sorry," Argh, that sounded lame.

"Yeah, I know what that's like," Yamame returns to facing forward, looking up thoughtfully at the... Well, I guess it wouldn't be the sky here, it'd be the ceiling. It's too dark to see all the way up there though. "Still, I hope I capped it off nicely for you. I had fun tonight."

And of course there's Yamame herself. I can't just spend time thinking about the other rabbits. I do have to put some thought into my situation with her as well. To be honest, the main reasons I agreed to this dating thing were curiosity and a feeling of wanting to at least give Yamame a chance. She had enough courage to ask me out (something I definitely wouldn't be able to do to a complete stranger) and was willing to put time aside to show me a good time. I wanted to enjoy that hospitality while also getting a little bit of experience about what all of this relationship stuff is all about. It didn't have that much to do with Yamame personally, as mean as that is to say. After tonight though, that's not quite the same thing.

Yes, as weird as it is to think about because I normally try to avoid these kinds of thoughts, I do find Yamame to be physically attractive. Very much so.

Yes, I think that the teasing, as embarrassing as it is, really is all done in good fun. When I'm confused or embarrassed about something she says, Yamame's happy reactions perk me up enough to make it really easy to laugh everything off.

And yes, I really really appreciate the way that Yamame seems to know when and when not to ask more about a subject. She's been able to tread a line of being curious about me and wanting to know more while also avoiding any subjects or information that would make me uncomfortable to talk about.

I glance over at Yamame, who catches my gaze after a moment and smiles back. I sheepishly look away. Yes, all of that stuff is true. But then...

No, I don't know how I'd be able to manage a relationship where I can't be honest about who I am and where I came from.

No, I don't know if it's worth it to cause confusion and strange reactions in my long standing friends just because I want to try casually dating.

And no, I don't know how a relationship like this would ever work out long term, considering that I have to get back to the Moon in a handful of days.

That's a lot of things that I don't know. Do I really need all of that when I'm already going to be stressed and busy and I have no idea what I'm doing? When wasting time could have the end effect of getting me killed? I just... Don't know.

"We need to float up a little bit. It should be that tunnel up there."

"Huhwah?" Oh, I got lost in my thoughts again. Yamame's pointing up slightly with her finger. Oh right, when Sanae first showed me how to get to the capital, we came out from a tunnel slightly above the ground floor, didn't we. Looking up at where Yamame's indicating, yeah, I'm pretty confident that this is the same place. "Oh," Yamame giggles a little bit at my delayed reaction, then lifts off slowly and floats up to the entrance to the tunnel. I follow along, still feeling my thoughts buzzing a bit too much.

The city still looks much the same as it had however many hours ago when I first visited, but that doesn't mean it isn't pretty. When Yamame and I touch down, I can't help but look out at the scenery for a little bit. Sparkling, warm lights. Muffled sounds of people having a good time. It's all so different and interesting. That I got to see even the small portion that I did tonight is really... I don't know. Special?

"Sooo..." Yamame says, her shoulder just barely not touching my own as we both look over the city. "See you again soon?" She asks hopefully, turning her head toward me. When I also turn to meet her though, I feel something weird. There's more to that question than just a yes or no answer, isn't there? There's some kind of desire plain on her face that-


I know what she's thinking might happen. She just teased me about it recently, so the idea is fresh in my head too. Maybe not the 'and a little more', but the first part...

Can I do that?

Should I do that?

Am I ready to do that?

I'm... I don't know about a lot of things, but...

[ ] Be bold. Go for it.
[ ] I don't know. Maybe next time.
[ ] It's just... That's too much.

This update felt short but then I looked and it was over 3k words again? I blame Seiran's internal monologue being so easy for me to write now that I've done it for a year.
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[X] Be bold. Go for it.

Grab a handful of that spiderbutt and go for the gold!
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[x] Be bold. Go for it.
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[x] Be bold. Go for it.

We don't need another Paran.
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[x] I don't know. Maybe next time.

A kiss is a promise you probably won't be able to keep.
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[X] I don't know. Maybe next time.

You shouldn't make promises you can't keep.
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[X] Be bold. Go for it.

Don't let this opportunity pass you by.
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[ ] Be bold. Go for it.
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[X] Be bold. Go for it.

Poor Ringo. I regret nothing.
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today, we found love. I'll be damned if we just let this pass by. JUST DO IT!
[X] Be bold. Go for it.
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File 148972533378.jpg - (196.09KB, 850x1133, This did not last.jpg)
This did not last
[X] Be bold. Go for it.

I barely stop myself from looking away. My eyes aren't trying to go in any particular direction other than away from Yamame anyway. It's stupid. Yamame is looking directly into my eyes, and yes, it's embarrassing, but no, that doesn't mean I should look away.

This is... Kinda dumb actually. I'm doing something irresponsible and dumb by pretending this will ever work out long term, aren't I? Even if there were a possible way that I could think of to keep this relationship from falling apart, there'd be no promise that I could make it happen. For goodness' sake, me even being alive ten days from now is questionable! Despite that, here I am just getting caught up in weird feelings and my own expectations about what's supposed to happen on dates. I don't have to go along with that if I don't want to. I could just leave now. Just say 'see you later' and walk away, but...

I want to do this.

She's only looking at me right now. Not at the gorgeous view around us, just at me. Yamame, who has been leading me around all evening, is telling me with just her expression to decide for myself on this part. She doesn't exactly look expectant. There's just a tiny bit of hopefulness in her face, but that's it.

She's not forcing me into anything is the point here. She has to know that I'm awkward and nervous. She has to know that I've never done this before. She has to know that if she just took the lead and did the thing that I'm thinking of doing, I would let her. It would actually get this whole situation over with much quicker and easier than leaving it up to me. She has to know that too, doesn't she? She's not doing that though. She's just waiting. Why? What is she worried about? It shouldn't be the same things that I'm worried about I don't think.

Could it be that she's not sure what my reaction would be? I know that I would go along with it (how am I so calm about thinking that aaaaaaaaa), but that doesn't mean that she does. I've spent a lot more time thinking about things tonight than I have on vocalizing them. Maybe yamame doesn't realize that I really have had a good time. What if, in her mind, I've only been continuing the date out of politeness? If I haven't been clear about how glad I am that I came out here with her, then maybe I've given her mixed signals. Have I been giving any signals? I don't know. If I were doing the wrong thing, which is probably the case, it's my job to clear things up, isn't it? That... Sounds right. As for making it happen though, well I know what should be done, I'm just nervous about actually doing it.

Of course, it's also possible that I could be wrong about all of that. I'm new to this after all.


Still better to try it than to do nothing I guess.

Yamame jumps slightly when I reach up and put a hand on each of her shoulders. We've just been silently staring at each other for I'm not exactly sure how long, so I the sudden feeling of me touching her was unexpected. Actually, we've barely had any physical contact all night, now that I think about it. Too late to take it back though. I know she realizes what I'm doing. Even if she looks surprised, it's not the actions so much as the person taking them. She said earlier that she didn't expect me to be so bold right? Well, she doesn't know me perfectly yet.

Yamame is mostly correct in her assessments of me, aside from this one thing. For right now, I'm going to be bold. Just a little bit.

A-am I going to be able to do this right? My first instinct is to just jerk forward enough to bring our lips together, so I start doing that, but hesitate a tiny bit. Yamame's eyes are closed now, should I close mine? How do I hold my head so our noses don't hit each other? Are they supposed to hit each other? How long is this supposed to last? I haven't looked around at all, what if people see us? Would anyone care? Does my breath still smell like peach tea? It probably does. That's good, right?


Ah, screw it.


No, yeah, this feels correct.

I guess I would describe it as light. It's much less intense than I expected from everything I had heard before, but still really nice. Yamame's lips are really soft. When I touch them with my own it kinda makes me feel floaty. Even with my heart beating so fast I'm still weirdly calm about it. Yes, I'm nervous and anxious and all that, but I'm also relieved and excited and a bunch of other stuff too. It's like the flood of random emotions is too mixed up for any one feeling in particular to cause a problem. Instead I just feel this light sense of contented happiness.

And I really like it.

My grip on Yamame's shoulders gets a little tighter while I feel something tug at me, pulling my mouth closer to Yamame's. She's-wh-whoa.




I really really like it.

When I start to feel a bit light headed, I realize I haven't been paying attention to breathing at all, so my body hasn't been doing it. Pretty sure that's not something that's supposed to just stop happening, but I guess I really was that distracted. Kissing Yamame is... Really really good.

I (sadly) break the contact between our lips, just a little bit. We're still close enough together that I can hear Yamame's breath, coming out just a little bit less rough than my own. She's looking at me with a coy smile, blushing much less than I am, but still enough to be visible. Oh hey, her arms are wrapped around my waist with her hands folded just above my tail. I guess that's what the pulling was from. She put her arms around me and brought me closer, to make the kiss a bit more intense. I'm definitely not going to complain about that part. "You really are full of surprises," Ah! Her voice tickles a little bit when it's so close to my face.

Oh, right, she said something. It's really hard to think about much right now. Well, anything other than the kissing that is. "Y-you were the one who mentioned it."

"But that doesn't mean I expected you to actually do it!" She sounds more amused than anything else. "I said I was joking, you know?"

"I still did it," And I liked it. I liked it a lot. I don't have any basis for comparison, but Yamame must be a really good kisser, right? That's why I'm all happy and floaty and why it's hard to think about most not kissing things. I am still listening to her though. "Er, you weren't joking that you were okay with that, right?"

"I'm more than okay with it!" Yamame gushes, moving forward to-Ah! Hey, I wasn't prepared for that one at all! Instead of making it last, Yamame leaves the kiss as a quick peck before separating us. She doesn't move into position to look directly at me again, this time she moves her head off to the side a little bit and pulls me close into a hug. "Well... there is one thing but..." She mumbles softly. "No. Never mind. Of course I'm okay with it."

A part of me is a little bit concerned about whatever Yamame just decided to bring up, but maybe I shouldn't say anything. Yamame knew when not to press a subject with me, and I think this is a time to return the favor. Hopefully. Instead, I wrap my arms around Yamame's shoulders, reciprocating her hug. It might not quite be a kiss, but I do like hugs too. They're really nice, and I probably don't get them as often as I'd like. Sometimes Ringo would hug me, but it was usually to calm me down or reassure me. This is different. Not just because Ringo is shorter while Yamame and I are pretty much the same height either.

We hold each other for a while, not moving or saying anything. Obviously I can't actually see Yamame's face, so I can't really guess at what she's feeling. I'm hoping it's similar to my own thoughts of 'this is nice' though. After a few silent minutes, she finally says something. "Hmm, you'll come back later, right?" She asks. It's surprisingly quiet. "Even if you have second thoughts and change your mind about us, that's fine. Or if you're too busy in the next few days and it takes a while, that's fine too. Just as long as you come back at least once. Okay?"

Huh. She sounds kind of worried for some reason. This seems like something that's important to her, although I can't guess exactly why. Well, I've already made the decision to try and make this work, so coming back is already something I was planning on doing. This is an easy answer to give. "Okay. I promise."

Urk! Yamame squeezes me tightly against herself for a moment, then let's go. Her arms unwrap from around me, so I do the same. Once we're both disentangled, Yamame hops back quickly. Her expression looks the same as I'm used to, even though there was obviously a bit more significance to what she just asked me. "Great!" Her tone sounds normal again too. "Well, you still have to get back to your friends, so I'll let you get going. I had a lot of fun tonight Seiran, thanks a lot for coming and finding me."

"R-right," Honestly I kinda want to go back to hugging, and even more honestly I want to kiss her again, but the moment has obviously passed. I guess I really do have to go back now. I glance down the tunnel that leads deeper underground, away from the city. I'm not looking forward to it that much. Oh wait, before I go. "So for next time I can come around, I should just come by and do the same thing again? Find a web and yell to you?" That was kind of embarrassing, but if it works for Yamame, I guess it can work for me.

Yamame smiles wide at me again. Eep! Even though I've seen her do it tons of time already, for some reason this one really makes my heart jump a little. She's really pretty, isn't she? "That should probably work. I'm around most of the time, although our sleep schedules might not be the same..." Oh yeah, given how difficult it is to keep track of time down here, I guess that might become a concern if Yamame is on a non-twenty-four hour cycle. "Nah, whatever. I'll make time, and we'll figure it out," She decides. It's good that one of us is confident I suppose.

"Okay, um, thanks a lot for everything Yamame," I kinda want to say that I had a good time tonight, but Yamame already said that. I don't want to seem like I'm just repeating her.

"Not a problem," Yamame smoothly assures me, backing up a little more. "Like I said, you're worth it," She adds, lifting off the ground and floating away slowly. She waves at me as she lowers herself back down to the city's streets. "Take care on your way back. See you later!"

"Same to you!" Although she almost definitely doesn't need the well wishes as much as I do. "Bye!"

Yamame keeps waving for a while longer, right up until she lands on the ground floor of the city. After that, she starts walking back toward her home. I guess that means that I should get going too. I take a deep breath and turn toward the much less inviting direction. Alright.


The nervousness I feel about going back alone is surprisingly tame. In fact, I hardly notice it the entire trip. I'm a bit preoccupied with thoughts about various things. Various Yamame related things mostly. My relationship with Yamame, hugging Yamame, kissing Yamame. All of that stuff is absolutely stuck in my mind. Not that I want to get it out of my head really. It puts me in a good mood. If flying wasn't faster and more practical, I could imagine myself merrily walking the whole way back. Maybe even skipping a bit if that wasn't so cheesy and embarrassing.

Anyway, the trip back goes pretty much without incident. I head through the outer city shanty-town thing with only a few curious glances. Nobody stops or bothers me. Once I get further, I'm able to use my new light spell (even though I just cast it a few hours ago, it still takes a couple tries to remember how it all works) to head through the dark parts of the cavern. After that, I reach the security gate for the plant. I ring the buzzer like the security guard said while Sanae and I were coming out, and that gets the oni's attention immediately. He does a quick check to confirm who I am, then lets me back into the plant itself.

He also makes a comment that I have a look on my face like something good happened to me. Apparently I look much happier this time around. That's definitely true, but I'm still a little bothered that even strangers are calling me out over not having control of my face. Maybe I should work on that. Although Yamame seemed to think it was cute, so maybe not. We'll see.

The plant itself is still completely empty as I head down through it. That's not exactly surprising though. It's definitely night time by now, even though I don't know the exact hour. The only person up and around is probably Ruukoto, and she could be anywhere. Whatever, just gives me more time for myself and the Yamame thoughts.

By the time I make it back to the main intersection of the plant, I'm in such a good mood that I catch myself giggling out loud. Yeesh, okay, I should probably calm it down a little bit. Don't want to look too giddy when I have to go talk to the other...

Right, the other rabbits.


It might not be that big of a deal actually. Maybe Ringo and Sumi had such a good time out tonight that they both got over their weird moods and everything will be back to normal when I head up the stairs to the dorms. I'm not going to hold my breath on that happening, but it's possible. Everything could work out nicely for me for once. That could happen.

... I'm not fooling myself at all.

I walk up the dorm stairs and reach the common area. The lights here are still on, although I don't know if that means that people are still around or if these lights are just always kept on. It seems like the latter would be a waste of energy, although we are in a nuclear fusion power plant. Maybe keeping a couple bulbs lit isn't much of a big deal.

"Welcome back," I jump slightly at Yuzuki's voice. I hadn't seen her immediately, but that's because she's off in the dining corner. Actually, it looks like she's reading something. That's kind of unusual. Normally she'd be able to read all the information in a book without having manually open and turn the pages. I wonder why she's bothering now.

Curiosity aside, I'm not quite sure what to say here. I take the time to get from the stairwell to the dining table in order to get my thoughts in order. "Hey, ummm. Are Ringo and Sumi back yet?" I ask hopefully. That's probably the most important thing to make sure of first. If they're out drinking or something that could be a huge problem.

Yuzuki sighs and looks up from her book. "What happened?" She questions. It sounds a bit accusing like that, and I'm pretty sure it's not just me having a guilty conscience.

"Err..." How do I answer that? Do I have to answer that when Yuzuki didn't answer my question first? That doesn't seem fair. "A lot of stuff," I answer vaguely. I don't really want to go into specifics on anything I don't have to, but I can't know how much I have to talk about until I know the situation right now.

Yuzuki gives me an unimpressed look and shuts her book before continuing. "Yes, they're both back and in the rooms that we were given. They both came back at the same time, then split off into separate rooms without a word to me or Chiyo, although Chiyo was already asleep by that point. Sumi appears to have been doing some light exercise and a lot of sitting around thinking, while Ringo... Well, suffice it to say that Ringo has locked herself in her room and is very uncharacteristically upset about something. She wouldn't answer the door when I tried to talk to her either."

Oh no. So Ringo's still upset, apparently enough that she's locked her door and won't come out of the room or talk to anyone. Sumi's status is questionable, but I at least know that the two of them didn't have that fantastic of a time out there tonight. Chiyo is asleep in another room, while Yuzuki is out here giving me a look that suggests I really need to start talking.

I know I have to do something here. Even if I wanted to try and ignore the situation (that I caused), all three of our available rooms have someone in them now. Originally I was hoping I could get a room to myself so that my powers wouldn't be an issue, but that's definitely not happening now. I'm going to have to talk to somebody and figure out how to resolve this situation.

[ ] Try to talk to Ringo. Maybe she'll answer the door if it's me.
[ ] Sumi was with Ringo the whole evening, and might be in a better mood to talk.
[ ] Maybe Yuzuki will have some advice if she hears about the situation.
[ ] I... Can't deal with this. I'll just sleep in the common area and hope I don't bother anyone.
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[x] Try to talk to Ringo. Maybe she'll answer the door if it's me.

Maybe hearing about how great the date was will cheer her up!
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[X] Try to talk to Ringo. Maybe she'll answer the door if it's me.
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You're evil

[X] Sumi was with Ringo the whole evening, and might be in a better mood to talk.

Sumi might be direct enough to give Seiran some insight into what the problem is. I'm very happy that Seiran had a good date, our naive gay bunny is doing well for herself.
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[x] Try to talk to Ringo. Maybe she'll answer the door if it's me.

Come on Ringo, spit it out!
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[X] Sumi was with Ringo the whole evening, and might be in a better mood to talk.

It's probably better that Seiran understands exactly why Ringo is so upset first.
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[x] Try to talk to Ringo. Maybe she'll answer the door if it's me.
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[X] Sumi was with Ringo the whole evening, and might be in a better mood to talk.

We will talk with Ringo after getting more info. Doesn't matter if she's sleeping, we'll just wait on her

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[X] Sumi was with Ringo the whole evening, and might be in a better mood to talk.

Let's not rush in blindly, time is plenty a cure for whatever issues Ringo's currently having. That, and Sumi will tell us exactly what's up, because she's Sumi.
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[X] Sumi was with Ringo the whole evening, and might be in a better mood to talk.

YES! Spiderbutt GET!
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[X] Sumi was with Ringo the whole evening, and might be in a better mood to talk.

Talking to Ringo immediately feel like a "there's no brakes on this trainwreck"-option. Not that that might not be fun too, but eh.
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[X] Sumi was with Ringo the whole evening, and might be in a better mood to talk.

This option leads to spiderbutt? Huh..I guess I'll give this story a read and see what it's all about.
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[x] Try to talk to Ringo. Maybe she'll answer the door if it's me.

"Ringo, did Sumi's SeiRingo ship actually have some merit to it on your side?"
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