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[X] Tell the truth
This really isn't fair. If it had just been Ruukoto telling me about the bullets, that would have been okay. She's pretty clearly not asking about where they came from. In fact, I doubt that she cares about them at all. She's only really concerned with cleaning. Once she's got them out of the ceiling, I wouldn't be surprised if she never thought about them again. As long as she can pull that off (which it sounds like she can with more time and some replacement tiles) I doubt I even have to give her an explanation.
Likewise with Ringo. She's clearly concerned about me, and has walked around the stairwell and sat next to me on the couch for support, which I definitely appreciate. She has to be able to guess at what happened. It's obvious. At the very least, we can count ourselves lucky that it happened when she wasn't in the room. I'm pretty sure it did anyway. It's strange, usually shooting bullets in my sleep would wake me up, but this time it didn't. It's possible that it happened some time overnight instead of just recently, but I kind of doubt it.
No, okay, that's not the thing I need to worry about here. The real concern is that Ruukoto brought this up right in front of our host. The goddess that I just spent however long chatting with is now giving me an inquisitive look from her seat in the armchair across from me. Ugh, of course she would be. There isn't a good reason for bullets to be lodged in the ceiling of our dorm room as far as she knows. We never told her or anybody else about my special powers situation. I would kind of liked to have kept it that way as well.
A few possible lies come to mind immediately, but I choose not to actually say any of them out loud. For one thing, I still dislike lying, but also most of what I can think of would be easy to disprove with a little investigation. Would Suwako actually go to the trouble of doing that? Well that's up for debate. Either way, as much as I don't want to talk about this, I also really don't need the stress of maintaining a cover story with a place that is supposed to be safe for us. I'm going to have to say the real truth here... That's something that I haven't had to explain to anyone in years.
"It was an accident, sorry. I have some um, strange powers that I'm not always completely in control of," I offer weakly. Ringo puts a hand on my shoulder, which helps a little. Of course, everyone giving me their full attention just makes me feel like running away and hiding more than anything. I have to keep going unfortunately. "I can pull a whole bunch of different kinds of bullets out of some other dimension."
"These bullets in particular are .45 caliber rounds," Ruukoto helpfully quips. Err, why exactly does the robot maid know that? Probably best not to think about it too much.
"Right, that's one of the most common ones yeah," Usually if I was grabbing something at random it would be that or 9mm, but it really is up to chance. It's not like I'm paying attention to what I'm getting while I'm asleep. If I was, I wouldn't shoot anything in the first place! "When I sleep, I tend to have nightmares easily. Sometimes they get kind of intense and stuff happens without me meaning for it to."
While my explanation got a little vague at the end there, Suwako obviously understands what I mean. Her face is a bit more serious now as she nods slightly. "Does that happen a lot?" She asks.
That's a fair question. Ugh, is she gonna kick me out for being a safety hazard? I bet you really can't afford to have someone firing live ammunition at random in somewhere like a power plant. Maybe I should... No, I said I was going to be honest. "Well um, most of the time, yeah," I reluctantly admit. "Command gave me some pills to keep it from happening, but I um, haven't been taking them."
Suwako frowns just a little bit. Yup, here it comes. Just like back home. I'm not safe. The best thing to do is "... Seems a little dangerous, doesn't it?" She questions me a bit more evenly than I expected.
"A-a little bit, yeah," No, don't downplay it. That's still kind of dishonest. "Okay, a little bit more than a little bit."
"All her pills do is knock her out for six or seven hours," Ringo interrupts, sounding a bit worried about how this conversation is going. "They don't fix anything, it just makes it so she can't dream at all."
What's her point? That's the best way to handle the problem, isn't it? "I don't really mind-"
"Come on Seiran, you know you mind, or else you would still be taking them," Ringo cuts me off. Well, okay, fine, I was curious before. Dreams are weird experiences that I haven't really had for decades. If it isn't safe though, maybe I really should just go back to taking my pills. Skipping so many days really was irresponsible of me.
I just mumble half a response, glancing back nervously toward Suwako. The look on her face is surprisingly thoughtful. "And here I had heard that the Lunarians were all about that super science and medicine stuff. You're telling me they can't just fix whatever's up with you?"
Err, I've kind of had thoughts like that in the past, but never really got an explanation about why I had to take a pill forever instead of just getting my brain fixed. "I guess? I don't really know anything about magic so um..." It's not like I'm in a position to force the doctors to sit down and tell me everything.
"My guess is they just took the first solution they found and called it good enough," Ringo explains for me. She sounds a bit more bitter than I feel. Come on, it's not all their fault! Some blame has to go to me too. "If it's just one rabbit, why spend the time and energy on actually helping her get better for real?"
Suwako considers that for a moment, then slides out of her chair. "You've got me curious now," She says, walking from her chair to where I'm sitting on the couch. "Hand," She demands once she's standing in front of me.
"cough cough What?"
Suwako holds her own hand out palm up. "Shake," She offers as explanation. Oh, er, I guess she wants me to give her my hand. I slowly put the palm of my right hand down on hers. "Good girl," She snickers just a tiny bit. Hey, I'm not a pet! "Let me see here..."
Suwako places her other hand on top of mine, enclosing it and holding it in place. Rather than explaining what's going on, she then simply closes her eyes and concentrates. Err, I'm just waiting then I guess? Nothing I can do to help whatever this is along?
You know, even with Suwako standing next to me, she's still shorter than I am while sitting on the couch. It's really weird to think of the contrast between her and Kanako, or really any of the goddesses I've seen so far. Suwako is just so much smaller and not intimidating or otherworldly (not that that word means much coming from me) feeling at all. It'd be easy to mistake her as something much less important than she apparently is.
"Other hand," Suwako suddenly says, causing me to jump slightly. Err, right. I hold up my other hand, and Suwako takes hold of both of them. Then she goes back to concentrating, her brow furrowing a little bit more.
Um, I'm kind of feeling a little silly here.
"Bah," Suwako finally lets go of my hands, swinging her arms up in a 'I give up' gesture. "It's too far out of my normal scene. My magic is more natural and centered around curses. This stuff is coming at it from an entirely different direction. I can't really get a handle on it."
"What exactly were you doing?" Ringo asks the question that we were both thinking, although I probably would have tried to phrase it a bit more nicely.
Suwako spins around and flops herself down into the couch on my side, opposite Ringo. "Checking out the magic around her. Honestly, it's a big mess, and I don't entirely know what I'm looking at with it. Might not even be one hundred percent magic based, or at least not magic that I'm used to."
"Well, it took them a while to figure it out on the Moon too," I offer as explanation. Yeah, it isn't often that something confuses the doctors enough that someone will have to spend time actually living at the hospital. To stay in there as long as I did... Yeesh.
"Did they really figure it out though? Pretty sure they just swept it under the rug," If I didn't know better, I would say that Ringo was more upset over this than I was.
"That's pretty much right, at least from what I can tell," Suwako agrees before I can respond. Come on, they did what they had to do, and it worked for a really long time! It would still work if I didn't do stupid things like not take my pill. "I don't think forcibly suppressing it for so long was the best move," Err, wait, what? "That whole mess is really deeply ingrained in your spirit by now, while your mind is barely touching it. If you had had the chance to work on it on your own, you'd be better about controlling it by now."
I'm not quite sure I follow that explanation, but I notice Ringo nodding beside me. "So skipping her pills is better for her in the long run?"
"At least in my uneducated opinion," Suwako shrugs. "From what you've said, it sounds like it would've been a risk short term, but in the long term, the only way you're going to get a handle on something like that is to try to control it by your own will."
Wait, hold on. That's not fair. Command told me to take a pill every day, so of course I did. I was just following orders. Plus, before that point, I really had been trying to suppress the bullets, it just got to a point where I couldn't anymore. What was I supposed to do? It's easy to just say that I needed to control it better, but I didn't know how to do that!
I think all of that stuff, but I don't say it. These two wouldn't really get what was actually happening, would they? Of course they wouldn't. "... That might not be doable with all the other stuff I have to focus on though," I say neutrally. Technically true as well.
"Then you can just keep taking the pills," Suwako shrugs again. "If you don't have time to deal with it right now, then don't. This magic whatever has been stuck to you for decades, what's a few more days?"
"It'd still be pushing off the problem until later though... Hmm," Ringo doesn't sound happy about the idea. "Well, I'll leave it up to do what you want to do, Seiran."
"You might also wanna look into finding somebody more book smart than me to have a look at you too," Suwako adds. "Like I already said, this isn't my normal thing. I'm not classically trained on anything. Never needed to be. Though the list of people who would be both powerful enough to manipulate whatever you've got going on and smart enough to do it safely is gonna be pretty small. Dunno who I'd recommend personally."
Huh. That hadn't really crossed my mind. I think that's kind of fair though. Obviously when I try to think of somebody who would know more than the people back on the Moon, I come up blank. Suwako seems to think that there might be hope though, and maybe it really would help to have a second opinion from somebody who knows what they're talking about. That's especially true if I'm going to keep going without my meds. I don't know if things will get more or less dangerous, but I know I'm not exactly comfortable with where they are right now.
Speaking of that though. "Um, are you going to tell other people about this?" I ask Suwako awkwardly. I'd be kind of uncomfortable with more rumors and stuff floating around. I got enough of that back on the Moon. "It's um, I kind of don't like bringing it up..."
"Eh, as long as you don't wreck up the room too much or shoot anybody, I guess it'll be fine," Suwako dismisses my concern as she hops off of the couch. "Ruukoto doesn't mind doing some extra work anyway right?" She asks, walking over to the maid and giving her a friendly pat on the back, just below the radiation symbol.
"Yes miss Moriya!" Ruukoto cheerfully answers. Wow, I had basically forgotten about her. Maybe it's a maid thing, but Ruukoto really seems good at keeping herself from being distracting during a conversation. "If you would please specify a time during which it would be acceptable for me to repair the ceiling."
Oh right. "Um, just not in the morning please..."
A short while later, Suwako, Ringo, and I head downstairs to get to the meeting. Ruukoto stays behind in order to clean some more rooms. I feel a little bad about that actually, since we kinda distracted her and threw her off schedule. Though according to Suwako that's not a big deal at all. They put Ruukoto to work because she enjoys it much more than they do so because they actually need her constantly cleaning.
Anyway, Ringo tells us that the meeting is in the same room as last night, so it's not exactly a long or difficult trip. We don't really have much time or need to discuss anything in particular.
When we get inside the records room, it seems like most everyone that should be here is already here and waiting for us, or more specifically me. Sanae gives me a small wave while Kanako and Rikako wrap up whatever discussion they had been having. Yuzuki, Sumi, and Chiyo are also all here, sitting around the largest table available and looking various degrees of bored. I also notice they all seem to have very full looking backpacks sitting near them. Must be rations and other equipment from camp. I wonder what exactly they deemed important enough to grab.
I head over and sit down next to Chiyo, who seems to be slowly picking at an ear of corn. Err, is that the same stuff that Minoriko gave us? Is that stuff getting old by this point? We probably need to eat it sooner rather than later. It's been more than a few days. I would offer to help, but I'm still not feeling hungry. Hm, is losing my appetite one of the symptoms of my illness? I haven't felt hungry at all today, and it's been quite a while since I ate.
Once Ringo has also taken a seat at the table and Suwako seems to have settled in off to the side of the room, the room quiets down. I'm not sure who exactly is going to start things (other than not me), so I just wait until somebody speaks first.
"Alright. I suppose we can get things started. The purpose of this meeting is to determine our course of action going forward with respect to reaching the Moon," Rikako stands up and moves in front of the white board, but doesn't write anything on it. "Rika is still looking over the portal, and will hopefully join us as soon as she has an idea of what would be required to make use of it. That should give me plenty of time to explain the potential issues with traveling to the Moon by rocket instead."
Rikako turns around and writes on the board a bit, so I take the opportunity to cough a couple of times without interrupting her. Hopefully doing it now will mean I don't have to later, but it probably doesn't work like that.
When Rikako finishes, there's a large heading at the top left of the board that says 'Rocket Plan Issues:' in very neat handwriting. Not quite up to Yuzuki levels, but still better than my own writing. Underneath the heading, there are a couple of subheadings. 'Knowledge', 'Funding', and 'Time' to be specific.
"I already touched on this briefly in our short meeting last night, but simply launching a rocket into space is not the difficult part," Rikako begins. "It's getting the rocket back that's the hard part. We're already going to be on a major time crunch just building the thing. I won't have the time to run all the proper experiments and simulations I would need to in order to devise a way to make the return trip safely. We can either accept that as a limitation, or find some way to cover the first point, a lack of knowledge."
"Is this why you were asking me about old textbooks from school?" Sanae asks cautiously, sounding a little bit embarrassed about it, or maybe she's just worried about speaking out of turn again.
"It's my understanding that the outside world has tried and succeeded such flights before. While I already have some idea on how to do it, however any other examples would be welcome," Rikako confirms, glancing down at a large book sitting on the table. I think that's the same one that she was flipping through last night. It doesn't have a title on it though, so I don't know what's in it. "Unfortunately your history textbook was a bit too anemic on details, and my own source of knowledge skips over too many crucial steps."
"There are multiple different collections of books and literature in Gensokyo," Kanako offers calmly. "The Scarlet Devil Mansion comes to mind immediately, but there some other book sellers among the humans which may have stumbled upon such things as well. Perhaps even Kourindou..."
"True, however we would still need to seek them out. That would quickly run us into the next point, cost," Rikako gestures back toward the board again, unintentionally flipping her long purple hair a bit. "Lady Kanako, you haven't given me a budget for this project, but I can guarantee you that it will not be cheap. Materials cost money, there's just no getting around that."
"I haven't given you a budget because I trust you to be reasonable in your spending," Kanako answers patiently. "Within reason, I'm not opposed to accruing some debt when necessary. We will be able to balance our budget in due time."
"Kind of a change of heart, isn't it?" Suwako notes from the side of the room. "You're usually a bit more stingy about big projects."
"If indeed this is the plan that we're going with, I'm already planning on involving Sanae and myself in something of an advertising campaign," Kanako explains tersely. I note Sanae jerk just a tiny tiny bit at the mention of Kanako's idea, but she doesn't visibly react otherwise. "If done correctly, it should increase our funds and popularity substantially once we've successfully launched something into space."
"Wouldn't doing something like that also cost money?" Ringo asks. "You'd be banking a lot on people donating in response to the rocket launch going well."
"It's simply a matter of good marketing. Make enough of an event of something, involve a bit of alcohol, and you can always carve some amount of success for yourself in Gensokyo," I'm a little bit skeptical, but I guess that Kanako would know about this stuff better than I would. "It will leave Sanae and myself quite busy though," She continues.
"Err, is that what causes the time problem that's up on the board?" Sanae asks. I feel like she's trying to change the subject a little bit. Maybe she doesn't like the idea of doing whatever advertising work Kanako is thinking of?
"To some degree, although it's more on my end than anything else," Rikako answers. "Like I said before, construction and setting everything up for a launch will put me and much of the rest of the facility on a major time crunch. Any kind of delay could very well throw us off of our deadline. The plan has lots of points of failure and relies on everything going well."
"But it has quite a good payoff in terms of faith and advertising," Kanako counters, sounding rather pleased with herself. Well, I guess it's pretty clear that she likes the idea. "And I have full confidence in your ability to make it work."
"Why don't you hear the other side before you start drooling over all those worshippers, eh?" Suwako jokes. I suppress a smile, though Kanako looks much less amused.
"Hmph, very well," Kanako shoots Suwako an annoyed look before moving back to Rikako. "Do we plan to wait for Rika?"
"I'll grab her," Rikako sets her white board marker in the tray and steps toward the door to the hallway. "She should be done with the preliminary check by now, and if nobody drags her away from her work she'll probably forget that a meeting is even happening."
It takes a couple minutes of nothing before anything happens. Chiyo finishes her ear of corn while Suwako continues ribbing at Kanako a little more, but other than that it's mostly us waiting quietly. Eventually I hear Rikako approaching from the hallway. Well, it's less that I hear her and more that I hear an extremely long and drawn out groaning sound coming along with her.
"Come on Rika, you can get back to it later," Rikako insists, sounding somewhat annoyed as she drags the source of the noise into the records room.
"Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh," The girl being pulled in looks surprisingly young for someone who's supposed to be the head engineer or whatever her title was. Her brown hair is tied in braided pigtails, and she's wearing plain brown pants and a white button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up.
"Nice of you to join us Rika," Kanako says, raising her voice just loud enough to get past Rika's groaning. Either this is normal behavior, or Kanako is just used enough to it that she's not going to comment. "Have you completed your evaluation of the portal?"
Rika finally runs out of air for "Boss lady," She nods toward Kanako. "Boss lady two," She adds to Suwako, before shaking her arm free of Rikako's grip. Even once free, she continues wagging her arm around in the air for a moment, vaguely pointing it at everyone in the room before she finally stops. "You people have no appreciation for art. I'm. Still. Busy!"
"It's science, not art, Rika," Rikako says plainly as she moves back to the front of the room.
"Same difference," Rika follows along.
Rikako rolls her eyes before picking the marker she had been using earlier. She offers it to Rika. "No, they are absolutely different things."
"Pffffffffffffffffffft," Rika blows a loud raspberry in annoyance, grabbing the marker and popping the cap off, letting it fall on the ground without a second thought. "You don't get it. None of you get it," She let's out a sigh before turning to address the rest of us still sitting at the table. "So, what do you need?"
"We need to know if you have completed your evaluation of the portal that these rabbits brought to you earlier," Kanako is surprisingly patient, although she might be forcing it a little bit. "What would be required in order to use it to get back to the Moon through the Dream World?"
"Right," Rika turns on her heel and presses the marker against the white board, but doesn't write anything down. "Right."
"Today?" Rikako prompts.
Rika spins back around, only leaving a small dot on the board. "Well before I was interrupted, I was pretty close to getting the thing to turn back on. It'll still work just fine. Definitely'll have that done before the end of the day," She explains. "That's not the issue though. Thing's worthless on its own. Just turning it on is like just turning on that TV box thing in Sanae's room. Worthless static," She turns toward Sanae specifically. "Speaking of which, when are you gonna let me take that thing apart?"
Sanae looks a little surprised. "Err, I still use that to play video games," She answers weakly.
"Riiiiiight. Ah! Idea!" Rika turns and writes 'video games' down on the lower right side of the board, then faces the table again. "Doesn't answer the question though."
"You're one to talk," Rikako grabs another marker and writes 'Portal Plan Issues:' down in the upper right corner. So apparently video games are the problem with that idea? "Can we use the portal to get to the Moon or not?"
"It's possible," Er, there's no point in emphasizing something so vague, is there? "If it's like the TV, then we just have to have video games to show it what to display. Then we can go inside."
"You don't do that with video games," Sanae points out quickly, then looks a little bit embarrassed again.
"Stretching the metaphor. Whatever," Rika spins her marker in a circle. "Point is, if we have something to tune the portal to the right place in the Dream World, it'll work. Might not stick you on the most optimal path, or maybe it will. All depends on how you tune it," She turns around and puts an underline under the 'video games' point on the board. "Yup, sounds right to me."
"And what exactly would we need in order to do this tuning?" Kanako questions, as if Rika was explaining things clearly. She really isn't though. I mean, I can kinda follow it, but there has to be a better way to vocalize the issues with her plan.
"Magic probably," Rika answers dismissively. I catch Rikako rolling her eyes for a moment before Rika continues. "The Dream World's got connections everywhere. If we're trying to get to the Moon, you'd need to have something that's magically connected there, the stronger the connection the better off you are."
"And you're assuming all of this without having even turned the portal on yet?" Rikako clarifies.
Rika tosses her marker up in the air, managing to make it land directly in the white board's tray. "How often am I wrong?" She asks, shooting Rikako a proud look and not even waiting for answer. "And I know a thing or three about the Dream World too. It'll work."
"Fine," Rikako looks a little bit exasperated as she turns and writes 'magical connection needed' on the board for Rika. "Do any of you have anything like that?" She asks, turning toward where us rabbits are sitting.
Err, something strongly magically connected to the Moon? Us rabbits aren't normally permitted to even touch that kind of stuff. I mean, maybe if we had been properly equipped for this mission then we could have had something magical around, but that definitely didn't happen. "No, all of our stuff is pretty mundane," Ringo answers for us.
"Failure to launch then," Rika gives an unconcerned shrug. If anything she looks a little bit happy to hear it. "Guess I get to take the whole portal apart after all~" She practically sings the last couple of words.
"Err, hold on," An idea suddenly hits me. It's a bit of a stretch, but we shouldn't just dismiss ideas if there's a way to make them work, right? "cough, cough, cough-We might be able to ask Reisen about something like that, right?"
"Eientei?" Kanako asks, sounding more than a little surprised. She recovers quickly however. "Hm, if something like that exists, it is likely they would have or at least know about it," She reasons out loud. "Whether Reisen would help you get at it is another issue entirely,"
"But if she does, fixing the portal would be way less work than putting together an entire space program, right?" Suwako asks.
Rika laughs confidently in response. "Heh, I could have the portal up and running by tomorrow if you had a connection today. It'd be a fun project. No problemo."
"So there's only one unknown in the plan then," Suwako decides. "We clear that up and go from there."
"Any time spent waiting on more answers is a threat to our deadline," Rikako says, motioning to the left half of the board. "I would rather bet on something we know we can accomplish than chase after something that might not exist. We need to get started now if we want a chance at getting things done."
"I have to agree," Kanako nods. "The rocket plan benefits us more in terms of visibility as well."
"High visibility is not always a good thing," Suwako interrupts. "Especially with what I already know you're planning on getting out of this. You think Hakurei's just gonna sit around while you do a media blitz and think nothing else is going on?"
"Hmph, and surely sending these rabbits back toward the very people hunting them is a better idea?"
I glance over at Sanae. It seems like everyone else here aside from her and the rabbits have expressed their opinions. She actually just looks uncomfortable now that the argument is starting to get a bit heated. I don't think she's going to speak up. That just leaves us then.
[ ] Argue for the rocket plan
[ ] Argue for the portal plan
This is kind of important. Both sides have some merits and some drawbacks, but picking a path and following it is the most important thing, right?