[X] Sumi was with Ringo the whole evening, and might be in a better mood to talk
Honestly, I kinda wanna go to bed right now. That's not really because I'm tired though. If anything, I'm still pretty energized from going on a successful date. If I were to go to bed, it'd probably take a while for me to fall asleep. I'd be busy thinking about a lot of different stuff, most of it spider girl related. Even after having such a long day, I'm still pretty wired, it's just that the situation I'm in right now is tempering that enthusiasm a bit.
Really, this whole thing is a bit beyond my ordinary social pay grade. People that I know are being weird and acting strange and I can't help but feel like it's all my fault. I don't know how I'm supposed to maneuver myself out of it either. That's also a bit too high level for me and my social issues. All I know is that I have to do something. That doesn't help that much, but it does make it so I can't go to sleep. I have to figure this stuff out.
Okay. "I'll try to take care of it," I say to Yuzuki, exuding confidence like only I can. Turning toward the hallway with all the bedrooms, I realize there's a slight problem in me actually pulling that off. I don't know where exactly I'm going. Definitely don't want to knock on somebody else's door by mistake. "Err, which rooms were ours again?"
"The room Sanae originally showed us was four doors down and to the left on the first floor," Wait, there's more than one floor of dorms? I guess if anyone would know that, it'd be Yuzuki. Sanae didn't mention it though. "Ringo is one room further down the hallway from that."
Okay, that's one down. "And Sumi?"
"The next one after that," Yuzuki says, giving me an unimpressed look. "You know that Sanae already told us that, right?"
"R-right," I've kinda had a lot of other things on my mind. Probably a few more than Yuzuki has, but whatever. I'm not annoyed or anything. "I'll talk to her first," I decide.
Yuzuki raises an eyebrow, but doesn't stop giving me that look. "Not Ringo? I'm actually a little worried about her, while Sumi appears to be completely fine."
"That might be true," I admit, although Yuzuki is going off even less information than even I am. "I'm honestly not sure what exactly to say to Ringo right now though. It's partly because I'm not used to how she's acting but also because I don't even know what's wrong. Sumi knows, and she should be able to explain the situation to me before I screw anything up," Screw anything up even more, that is.
"Oh so you're involved as well," I think Yuzuki probably already expected that, but I just confirmed it for her. "Did you guys all have a fight or something? Is that why you were late getting back?" She asks, then quickly reconsiders before I can answer. "Wait, no. That doesn't seem right either. Not with these reactions."
She's kind of right? "I don't know what we had to be honest," Sumi and Ringo were kind of fighting but it was about me and then they got over it only Sumi was still kind of mad and... Ugh. "Sumi knows though, so it's probably best to have it explained to me as bluntly as possible as soon as possible."
"Hmm. Good luck I suppose," Yuzuki doesn't look at all satisfied, but there isn't much she can do to help the situation with only my vague explanations. "Even if neither of us know what's going on, it seems like you're more equipped to deal with it than I am. All I can do is hope it all works out."
I answer with a nod. The support is appreciated, even if it isn't much. I just need to remind myself that we're all trying to work together. Even if there's some kind of disagreement going on right now, we should be able to work through it for the sake of staying alive. Everyone here is reasonable enough for that to be true. At least most of the time. As far as I know anyway.
A few doors down the hallway later, I'm standing in front of the door to the room that Sumi apparently took possession of. I don't really know what I'm going to say, and it's kind of hard to plan anything either. What if Sumi gets mad at me? She doesn't do that to me specifically all that often, so I'm not good at dealing with it. Well... Whatever. I reach up and knock on the door a couple of times. "Yo, what's up?" Okay, she sounds normal at least.
"Hey Sumi, it's me," I try to be loud enough that she'll hear me through the door, but not loud enough to bother any people in any other rooms. Luckily, I shouldn't have to say much. Sumi obviously knows my voice, and will easily be able to hear anything I say with her powers.
There's a slight pause and a few light footfalls before Sumi's door swings open. She's still wearing her normal shirt and helmet, but appears to have swapped out her camo pants for some more comfortable athletic shorts. I guess it is pretty warm down here, she's lucky she packed something less bulky to sleep and/or exercise in. "Oh hey, you actually did make it back," Alright, she still sounds normal. Not upset at all. Good. "And here I was thinking you'd be out all night, if you know what I mean."
"Um, like a sleepover?" Sleeping over at Yamame's? Putting aside the possible rule breaking involved, that would be pretty irresponsible. We've still got work tomorrow morning!
"With how that girls body was looking, I don't think she would have let you sleep so much," Sumi has a big smirk on her face again. Wait, is this another innuendo? "But yeah, something like that. No, but seriously though," She adds before running her hands down an imaginary body in front of her, making hugely exaggerated bumps in a few places before stopping down at the... Hey! "Like, goddamn!"
"Whawhawha-!" I quickly grab at Sumi's hands to stop her from continuing the gesture. Don't talk about Yamame like that! Her butt isn't that big! Okay, well, maybe it's kind of close, but still! Yuzuki is still around, and is going to notice motions like that! She might even still be within earshot.
Sumi is now obviously laughing out loud at my reaction. Wow, and here I thought I would be able to not be embarrassed for the rest of the night! "You are gonna be an endless source of fun from now on, aren't you?"
So she's just going to tease me forever now? Ugh. Let me just try and force her back on topic. "Sumi, stop it. I need to talk to you seriously!" I hiss, still trying not to be too loud, even though Sumi herself doesn't seem to have the same consideration.
"So go ahead," Sumi answers with a shrug, easily pulling her hands out of my grip. "I haven't said you can't."
In the hallway? Anybody we don't know could hear us. That's not acceptable. "Well... It's about Ringo so..." Although I can't actually see her from here, I glance back in the direction of Yuzuki meaningfully.
Sumi looks where I'm looking, then gets a slightly annoyed expression on her face. I don't know whether it's my obvious attempts to keep the situation away from anyone else, or me bringing up something the fight she had with Ringo earlier, but she's clearly not that happy about it. It might be both things actually. After an uncomfortable moment, she relents. "Fine, we can keep it quiet," She turns back toward her room, swinging the door open further. "Come on in, and don't mind the mess. I'm still getting settled."
Sumi hasn't so much unpacked her bag as she has dumped the contents randomly on one of the beds. I can see a spare handgun, some changes of clothes, some pre-packaged food, ammo, some small electronic devices, bits and pieces of survival gear, and a bunch of other stuff all heaped together in a pile. You know, given how much a fuss she made about not wanting people to look through it, Sumi really doesn't seem to have taken much care with the contents of her bag.
"I'd offer you a drink, but we were too broke to even get the cheapest kinds all night," Sumi says casually as she shuts the door to the room. Okay, we should have some amount of privacy now. "And believe me, the cheapest stuff down here is reaalllly fucking cheap. Bit of a shame really."
I have never been more glad that all five of us are still out of money. That's one crisis averted due to lack of funds at least. "Err, alcohol isn't allowed in the power plant," Did Sanae tell her that part?
Sumi lets out a fake gasp as she walks over to her bed (or at least the one all of her things has claimed) and starts gathering her possessions up. "Oh no! If I got kicked out of here, then I would have to go to the kickass city or bum around gensokyo some more! What a horrible punishment! I'll be sure to avoid getting shitfaced at the thousands of bars that are less than a half hour away from here."
Okay, I guess it wouldn't have mattered even if Sanae did tell her the rules. Should have expected that. "You know if you got kicked out you would still be broke."
"Not for too long," Sumi still sounds unconcerned while she picks up and sniffs at one of her shirts. If that thing wasn't clean already, why did you bring it? "I talked to some people last night and made some contacts. Could set myself up with a sweet deal if we didn't have to get back to the Moon," She explains, finishing up with packing most of her things back into her backpack. She picks the whole thing up and slings it over a shoulder, then gestures to the now empty space. "Anyway, sit."
I'm a little curious about what all she's talking about, but that isn't exactly what I came here for. I guess I should just sit down then. You know, there's another bed that would have worked just as well, I'm not sure why Sumi needed to clean up for me. Whatever. "So about Ringo..." I start awkwardly once I've sat down.
Sumi takes a deep breath. "Ringo has been into you for years, from before I even knew you guys. It started some time back in basic, I dunno. Anyway, instead of saying anything to you about it, she's been trying to keep things subtle in the hopes that you'd eventually come around on your own. 'Course, you obviously had zero interest in anyone the whole time we were back on the Moon, and your own issues with the powers and stuff kept you from getting close to anyone. Which means that nothing fucking happened between you guys until today."
"So obviously, I called her out on her BS ages ago because I could see the signs from a mile away. I've been around a bit more unruly behavior than the average rabbit, so it's not that hard for me, but Ringo wasn't really being that subtle. Hell, Chi knows about it without me having to tell her too, and I wouldn't be surprised if even Yuzuki had caught on at some point, not that I'd talk to her about this kinda stuff. You're just a little too innocent and a little too used to Ringo to put two and two together and actually notice it, but that ain't your fault. Ringo was being an idiot and just figured eventually you would figure it out. I kept telling her she was dumb but she wouldn't listen. Personally if I had been crushing on a girl like you I woulda just grabbed you and kissed you out of nowhere. Fuck subtlety. You're not gonna get it any other way, and you'd probably go along with it once the feelings were out in the open."
"But that was Ringo's fuck up to orchestrate. She made that pretty clear to me in various different ways. It pisses me off how wimpy she's been about the whole thing, but I let it go. My rationalization was that as long as things end up the same, which Ringo kept telling me they would, I could accept it. You both deserve to be happy, and I figured you would be once Ringo got it together enough to finally pop your cherry or whatever the metaphor is for making sweet sweet girl love."
"But of course it should have been obvious that Ringo was caught up making dumb assumptions. 'Oh, sure, as soon as she decides that she wants to romantically pursue anyone, of course it'll be me that she turns to. I'm her best friend, and we've been together for so long that it should be easy to make the adjustment to dating'. Isn't that the shittiest nice guy sorta crap you've ever heard? Hey Ringo, if you just sat the fuck down and actually talked to this girl once in the decades you've known her, you could clear all of this up in like, six minutes! Boom. Over. Done. Fucking idiot."
"So that goes on for however long and we finally end up down here. I dunno if it's something they put in the water or the air or whatever, but living down here seems to be making me hornier to some degree. I'm okay with it and can take care of it, but I don't know if it's just me or what. You can't just go up and ask the people in this group something like that. They all avoid the subject. Can't talk honestly even when there isn't any more judging to be done between us. We've known each other for DECADES. Fucking. HELL. Anyway, then I'm thinking I might be the only one that's fucked up. Got stir crazy from prison or something. Dunno. I'm actually getting worried about, like I'm thinking maybe the whole impurity thing is actually a real thing. Moonbitch propaganda machine strikes again. But then this morning I see you and Ringo together and I'm like fuck yeah! Something actually pushed you two to go at it. It's not just me that feels like this!"
"And yeah, it turns out you guys weren't actually fucking or anything, but it was still a big deal. Ringo told me she actually got you comfortable enough to sleep next to her without medicine, which is a pretty big deal considering your whole issue thing. So I'm still like, okay fine. Ringo's helping you out with something that I know you need help with, and is gonna make a move soon. Hopefully it'll actually fucking work and we can stop all pretending that we don't know about it and you guys can have fun and be happy together or you can let Ringo down and we can all move the FUCK on. FINALLY."
"So then we go out tonight and I figure hey, maybe I'll leave the two of you alone for a while. Ringo can make her move then and I can find shit to do on my own in the mean time. You don't show up, Ringo starts getting nervous, I try to shrug it off and salvage the evening and then BAM. EVERYTHING THAT I WARNED HER ABOUT HAPPENS RIGHT THEN. You're out with a pretty lady, having fun without the rest of us. Ringo STILL doesn't say anything. She just turns around and leaves. What the fuck?" Sumi stops pacing back and forth across the room and turns to the nearby wall. "WHAT THE FUCK RINGO?" She smashes one fist against it, then lets out a quick sigh. "Anyway, it's not your fault at all. You didn't do anything wrong. Ringo was being stupid and wouldn't listen to anyone, something that's supposed to be my job. Now she doesn't know what to do when her stupid decisions have caught up to her. Any questions?"
"Uh-Ummm," Now that Sumi's finally stopped ranting for long enough to let me talk, I'm finding that I have no idea what I want to say. Ringo likes me in that way? Okay well... That's not... The most difficult thing to picture I guess. It's not really something that I've thought that much about before though. I just wasn't somebody who wanted to break the rules, and didn't have that much personal interest in dating. Now that I care less about the rules from back home, thinking about being with Ringo makes me feel... I don't know. This is too sudden.
"Hey, you okay?" Sumi does look genuinely concerned at how lost in my own thoughts I am.
"'m fine," I mumble out. "What happened after that though? Between the two of you?"
"Oh, that," Sumi plops down next to me on the bed, apparently not planning to go into another rant. That's probably for the best. With how she was pacing and waving her arms around during that speech, I was worried she was getting legitimately angry. Maybe she was. "We looked around for a while, but I couldn't really stop telling Ringo off. I was pissed. Not the best recipe for a fun night, so obviously Ringo starts getting more and more sour as things go along. Combine that with this weird feeling that we were being watched and I decided to call it there."
"Wait, being watched?" Who would even be watching two random rabbit youkai walking around the city aimlessly?
"Yeah, it was weird. Ringo said she didn't notice anything, but I don't think she was paying much attention at that point. She was in a bad mood that was getting worse. I would have tried tracking the voyeur or whatever down, but I didn't know what to listen for," Sumi shrugs. "So I just suggested we head back, Ringo agreed, and we did. Ringo locked herself in a room and hasn't come out since."
Okay. Alright. So that's Sumi's story, as long and off the cuff at as it was. Let me try to get my thoughts in order a little bit.
Ringo likes me. Okay... Let's put that specific thing aside for now.
The reason she's upset is that she had the entirely wrong approach, and didn't realize that I was actually open to the idea of dating until it was too late. Maybe I should have said something? No wait. Sumi said I didn't do anything wrong. My own guilt aside, she's probably right. How could I have known that Ringo liked me? I'm not good at this innuendo stuff. If she never told me then obviously I wouldn't have known. Heck, I barely knew that Yamame was flirting with me when we first met, and she was apparently being really obvious! This isn't my fault.
But I still feel bad about it.
I obviously don't want Ringo to be upset or unhappy, and in this situation it's kind of up to me to figure out how to handle the fact that she is. Even though I didn't mean to make it happen, and I wouldn't have if I had known ahead of time, and it's kind of unfair that this is all stuck on me, it doesn't matter. Ringo's still sitting in a room, alone. Maybe if I leave her alone she'll work it out for herself. That's entirely possible. She's mature, probably more than I am. She should know how to bounce back from stuff like this.
I just don't know if I can count on that though.
Well, at the very least, talking to Sumi like this has let me know what's going on. Even if I'm not sure what to say about Ringo's feelings at this very moment, I can at least start thinking about it before suddenly having to talk to her. Like I was thinking before, we're all on the same team here. Sumi's brutal honesty was just her way of trying to help me out. I'm sure she would help more if she could too, it's just that I have to decide what I'm doing on my own right now.
[ ] Go talk to Ringo - [ ] Give her a chance too - [ ] Let her down gently - [ ] I'm just not sure yet [ ] Talk to someone else - [ ] Ask Sumi for advice - [ ] Ask Yuzuki for advice [ ] Go to sleep - [ ] Take a pill and sleep in this room near Sumi - [ ] Take a pill and switch rooms with Yuzuki - [ ] Sleep in the common area and hope it doesn't bother anyone
>>27523 This was kinda something I was planning on talking about whenever the thread actually ended, assuming I maintained consistent updates all the way through that point. If you're going to throw nice words at me like this though, I might as well say it now.
It's basically spite. Well, kinda.
Honestly, I started this story around January of last year which, for people who dont remember, was shortly after that masquerade contest with semi-anonymous people doing daily updates on new stories for an entire month. I had a lot of fun voting on stuff that month, and got really annoyed when almost every single story was quickly abandoned over the course of the following month. I knew there was nothing that I could do to make the writers keep updating, and I didn't blame them for having stuff going on that kept them from doing so. If I didn't want to accept the site going back to relatively low activity, the only other option was to become the change I wanted to see.
I decided the story I was going to write would follow three rules in order of importance: 1. It would eventually end 2. It would update regularly 3. It would include characters that I like
Point 1 is probably the hardest thing. I may have messed it up by making this story kind of large in scope. Even though I already know what's going to bring it to an end (which helps a lot), it's still likely to take another year or so (very very rough estimate), depending on how involved we get in side stuff and how the plan to get to the Moon actually shakes out. Before I started, my ideas were narrowed down to either a Seiran story, a Yoshika story, or a newer tsukumogami girls story. The other two would probably have finished by now, but I had the most ideas for the Seiran one. I also wanted to do something with the LoLK girls since I rather liked that game, so here we are. A big fat story that is up to five threads and still has a while to go.
As for keeping with point 2 and avoiding hiatuses? I'm not really sure. I could just say that I have very little social life(which is true, and probably helps a lot), but it's not like I haven't still been busy otherwise. Over the course of this story I've worked two different jobs, lived in three different houses, graduated college, wrecked my car and bought a new one, spent a bunch of weekends driving all over my state for family stuff, and played a ton of really good, really absorbing video games. Mostly I just tell myself to not take days off unless I really really have to. The first time I skip an update just because I feel like it is the time when it becomes okay to do that again. Then it becomes normal to do it more than once in a row, gets even worse, and eventually I wind up with another unfinished project. I'm just avoiding that really hard because I know that I'm a lazy person.
Also it helps that every vote I get on my story tickles a special part of my brain in a way I can't seem to get anywhere else.
Hm, kind of awkward to have those nice posts telling me I'm doing a good job then respond by talking about keeping my updates regular, only to have trouble with the next update and not get it done on time.
Well, what can you do? I'll have to finish this up tomorrow as is usual with these types of issues. My bad.
"Huh?" Oh right, Sumi's still around. I've been a little lost in my thoughts and haven't said much for the past couple of minutes, so she's probably prompting me so I don't get stuck in a rut. "Err not really," That's not exactly a completely accurate answer, but I think it's probably a better move than trying phrase a question that will get past Sumi's bias. Sumi has made her opinion on the subject pretty clear honestly. She thinks Ringo and I being together would be good, and is annoyed that neither of us, specifically Ringo, have made anything like that happen yet. If I just keep that in mind, then I can probably guess at how she would answer most of my immediate questions on what I should be doing anyway. "No, I think I'm okay," I'll have to take care of this on my own.
Sumi nods at me while relaxing slightly onto her bed. "And I'd apologize for springing this up on you, but it was gonna happen tonight either way sooo yeah," She says, but then thinks better of it. "Unless Ringo wussed out again I guess, that's apparently possible. Pfeh. It's weird. Ringo usually doesn't give a shit about anything most of the time, but with this one thing she's a giant baby. It's not like she has to treat you like you're made of glass just because you know so little. Hell, I don't do that, and we get along fine."
"I guess so," Sometimes I do wish that Sumi would be a little more delicate about things, but I don't need to bring that argument up right now. What I need to do is focus on Ringo, and what I'm going to do about unintentionally distressing her. That's not something that happens normally, and it's not like I have a standard plan for how to deal with it. "Well, I guess I should get up and go talk to Ringo then," That's the best start I can think of. Even though people are telling me that she's upset, I'm not going to know how to react to it without seeing it myself. "I didn't mean to make this happen, and like you said it's a bit more her fault than it is mine," Ugh, no. That sounds bad. Like I'm blaming Ringo when I don't really want to do that. "I can kind of see why she was going with the plan that she was though."
"I can't, but hey, I'm the stupid one," Sumi snickers as I get up from the bed.
Oh not this again. "You're not stupid, Sumi," I patiently remind her. Honestly coming to her has really helped me out. Even if I'm not asking her for advice, having everything put in front of me so clearly makes things much simpler. Personality quirks aside, there are definitely some advantages to having a friend who's so averse to keeping things hidden.
"Maybe, maybe not. Anyway," Sumi sounds unconcerned as she reaches up... HEY! "Get going girl! Ringo's not cheering up by herself."
I get it, sheesh. You don't have to slap my butt. I'm going.
Stepping out of Sumi's room and closing the door behind me puts me only a few steps away from the door to Ringo's room. I'm really not very thankful about that. That is way too close. How am I supposed to plan anything out when I only have a few seconds worth of travel time to work with? Even just taking the time to think these complaints is making it so I don't have any idea about what I'm going to say to Ringo! It's true that I could probably use my time better instead of worrying over every little thing, but this thing isn't exactly little. Ugh, I'm reminded once again just how cruel this world is to socially awkward anxiety ridden introverts. Especially ones in difficult situations like mine.
Reaching up and knocking on Ringo's door doesn't get me any answer. Well... Crap. I don't really know what I expected though, obviously she's not going to come greet me with a big smile on her face. The others already said that she's upset and hasn't come out since she got back to the plant. The fact that it's me knocking (which she wouldn't know based on just the sound) wouldn't solve that. Okay, slightly better approach. "Ringo?" I call out nervously as I knock a couple more times.
Oh. That's a different response. Instead of next to nothing, I hear some frantic shuffling from inside the door. "H-hold on a sec," Yeah, that's definitely Ringo. She sounds slightly hoarse. Not a voice I'm used to hearing from her, although I have a feeling this whole situation is going to be full of stuff I'm not used to with Ringo. Pointing it out over and over again probably isn't necessary.
Okay, she's not rushing to the door from what I can tell, so I guess Ringo wants a second before she's going to let me in. Fine. Fair enough. I've done similar things before, and usually appreciate it when I ask for a moment and am actually given it. Well, I wasn't upset for the same reasons in any of my episodes, but whatever. I can give Ringo the courtesy of waiting for a bit.
There's some more shuffling. Sounds like it's coming from the floor, rather than the bed or a desk. What is she doing in there? Is she cleaning up or something? How much of a mess could she already have made in a room she just moved into? Wait, actually, I don't need the answer to that. I already saw Sumi's room, so it could be something like that. Aside from Yuzuki, none of the other rabbits are particularly known for keeping things clean. Well, I try my best at least, but the rest of them...
Ah, I think I hear her walking around a bit more now. It sounds like she was on the far end of the room and is now coming closer to the door. Okay, okay. Keep it calm. I can do this. I just have to help Ringo through some emotional stuff that I've never dealt with before and is kind of my fault it's even an issue. I can probably maybe kind of do this. As I'm worrying, the door suddenly jerks in front of me, but doesn't open. Instead it makes a loud wooden cracking sound that startles me enough to make me jump backward. Wait, what was that? It sounded like it came from...
Ringo forgot to unlock the door before she opened it. Normally, locking the door would keep it closed so that nobody could move the door. That's the point of locks, right? In this case though, Ringo's pull was hard enough that it apparently caused some damage. I can see a large crack has formed near the door handle, snaking down along some path of least resistance before wrapping toward the frame. Uh oh. Well, at least it doesn't seem so bad that the door isn't going to work right anymore? That's good, right?
"Ughhhh," An uncomfortable half moan half sigh comes from right in front of me. Quickly afterward I hear the sound of the door unlocking properly before it swings open. The room inside is dark. It looks like Ringo has the lights off. Speaking of Ringo... Oh. Eesh. She's pretty obviously not in the best shape of her life. She looks tired, and her eyes are a little red. Her hat is missing and her hair is all mussed up like she's been laying around but hasn't been staying still. Also, there seems to be some kind of mess around her mouth. Has she been eating?
Wait, she just broke the door while attempting to open it. That's not normal. You can't just do that. Even if they're made of wood, these doors aren't exactly flimsy. So the better question to ask is probably how MUCH Ringo's been eating. I know she brought a bunch of food from the bunker along, maybe she had some of that. With the way that she's keeping the door mostly closed and hiding behind it a bit, I can't see into the room very well to check.
Anyway, I need to pay attention to Ringo right now. She's definitely looking at me with an uncomfortable expression, like she's trying to think of what to say. I'm kind of in the same situation, but am probably in a better mental state. Maybe I should try talking first. "So um. Hey Ringo," Nope, never mind. I continue to be the best. THE BEST at talking. That's me.
"H-hey," Ringo greets me back awkwardly before quickly occupying herself with picking up a couple of splintered pieces of wood from the door. They're not big pieces, but I can at least be glad that neither of us will be stepping on them. Ringo holds up one of the wooden fragments in front of her face with a weak smile. "Heh, little accident," She sounds a bit sheepish now. "I'll have to um. I'll have to talk to Kanako about it tomorrow or something."
"Err, r-right," My unsure response quickly turns into awkward silence. Ringo moves away a little bit and ducks behind the door, even further out of sight. I'm guessing that she's putting all the pieces off somewhere safe, but I can't really see her enough to tell.
"S-so," Ringo's voice catches in her throat for a moment as she comes back into vision. She has to clear it out before she can keep talking. "Did you... Need something?"
Ringo seems like she's kind of trying to play it cool, like this situation is normal. Absolutely everything about it is screaming out that that isn't the case though. It's really weak, and it's really obvious, and I have no doubt that it's making both of us uncomfortable. "Can I come in?" I ask first of all. This is not a conversation I want to have in the hallway. "I think it might take a while to talk about everything."
"Err..." Ringo turns her head and glances back into her room, off toward the side that I can't see. "Well..."
She looks deeply conflicted for a moment, but eventually gives up. She opens the door fully and steps aside, letting me in so I can flick on the lights. What the-? Looking into the room, I immediately notice the thing she was trying to keep a secret. The desk in the far corner of the room is smashed. Like something small but very forceful was dropped right in the middle. There's a clear crack down the center width wise, although it's at least still standing. Barely.
"Ringo..." I'm more than a little concerned.
"Yeah, another accident," Ringo admits, sounding both reluctant and a fake kind of nonchalant at the same time. "I wasn't thinking and it just kinda happened. I'll find some way to fix it or pay for a new one or something."
That's not really what I'm worried about. "Are you okay?"
"Are you okay?" She nods automatically, surprised at the intensity that I ask the question with. As she attempts to stare at anything other than myself or the broken up desk, I look her over now that we have proper lighting. Yeah, okay. her arms look perfectly fine, which means... I look around the room a bit more closely. The sheets are messy, but I can see Ringo's bag sitting near the far side of the bed. It doesn't look nearly as full as when we came here. So the containers of food aren't inside it. That means they should be around here somewhere...
Ah, there we go. The noises I heard before Ringo broke the door must have been from her shoving all the empty food containers under the bed. From the count, this that's probably all of them. She ate everything that she brought. There should have been enough mochi and dango here to fill up the rest of us more than once, but Ringo just binge ate all of it by herself in one night.
"I uh-got hungry," Ringo offers weakly from beside me as I duck down to confirm that all the containers are empty, including the ones that she managed to hastily shove under the bed. Even if what she's saying is true, eating everything here is going way overboard. Ringo's physical strength must be absolutely through the roof right now, no wonder she's been breaking stuff on accident (if the desk was even an accident). What was she thinki-
The phrase 'stress eating' comes to mind. Honestly I don't have that good of an idea of how Ringo reacts to stress, even with all the time that I've known her. I guess it would believable to see her doing something like this. It's not exactly the smartest thing, but even I admit to sometimes wanting to eat more than I should when I'm upset. It's just that for Ringo, 'more than I should' is a pretty ridiculous amount.
Turning back to Ringo, it looks like she's still having some difficulty looking directly at me. I don't like this whole situation. It's wrong and weird and it's making me feel awful. Ringo has to know what I'm here for. She can't possibly think for a second that I believe this is normal behavior, and yet she's still not going to talk about it unless I make her.
Ugh. If only I had Sumi's directness. Actually, that might work anyway, even without it. I can be kinda direct in my own way. Ringo's smart. She should get it. "So, Sumi told me everything," I try to say it as neutrally as possible.
"Err, everything?" That's not a happy look on her face. I think she's biting at the inside of her mouth a little bit.
"She was a bit more critical than I would like though," I add. That's definitely true. There was a lot more swearing than was necessary as well. "I'd rather hear the full story from you. This whole idea about me and you being..." Urk, still kinda weird to say out loud. The look on Ringo's face shows that she knows what I'm talking about anyway. "Well, I don't dislike it. It's a little unexpected, but I'm not going to freak out at you or anything, so could you just talk to me?"
Ringo blinks at me in surprise. "You don't uh... Hm," She considers things, but doesn't keep talking.
"I really really do like you Ringo," Maybe not necessarily in that way that she's thinking, but maybe yes in that way as well. I don't know. I don't want to cause a misunderstanding though, so I should clarify. "We've been best friends for a really long time. I want to try and give you some kind of chance, but I can't do that if we can't talk to each other."
Ringo finally looks at me. Her expression isn't exactly happy, but it's not nearly as painful as it has been. I wouldn't call her cheered up, but she's at least in a somewhat better mood. She takes a few steps into the room, taking a seat in the chair that was sitting under the only unbroken desk in the room. I take that as a cue to sit down as well, and drop onto the bed that isn't all messy. "What do you want to know?" Ringo asks, sounding weirdly serious.
[ ] When did this whole thing start? Sumi said something about basic training but didn't seem to know the specific. [ ] Why me? I mean yeah, I think I'm kind of cute but... [ ] Why didn't you say anything? Well, I might have been a bit confused at first, but I don't know. Maybe it would have worked out? [ ] Is this going to make things weird? You and Sumi were fighting and things between us are awkward now. Can we fix things? [ ] You're not angry at Yamame, right? [ ] Do you always eat so much when you're upset? [ ] What should I do to make you feel better? (Err, without going too far, of course. I'm still a little unsure about things.) [ ] Why is Sumi so invested in getting you and I together? [ ] Yuzuki knows something's wrong with how you were acting. Should we tell her the truth or keep this between us? [ ] Something else (Write-in)
So this was originally going to be longer, but then I realized that I didn't know how I wanted Seiran to go about prodding for information without creating a big fat infodump. Thought I would get people's input on what they care about hearing while also giving me some more structure.
[x] When did this whole thing start? Sumi said something about basic training but didn't seem to know the specific. [x] Why me? I mean yeah, I think I'm kind of cute but... [x] Why didn't you say anything? Well, I might have been a bit confused at first, but I don't know. Maybe it would have worked out? [x] You're not angry at Yamame, right? [x] Yuzuki knows something's wrong with how you were acting. Should we tell her the truth or keep this between us?
Clear things up, and make sure you're on the same page going forward.
[X] When did this whole thing start? Sumi said something about basic training but didn't seem to know the specific. [X] Why me? I mean yeah, I think I'm kind of cute but... [X] Why didn't you say anything? Well, I might have been a bit confused at first, but I don't know. Maybe it would have worked out? [X] Why is Sumi so invested in getting you and I together? [X] Yuzuki knows something's wrong with how you were acting. Should we tell her the truth or keep this between us?
[x] Why me? I mean yeah, I think I'm kind of cute but... [x] Why didn't you say anything? Well, I might have been a bit confused at first, but I don't know. Maybe it would have worked out? [x] You're not angry at Yamame, right? [x] Why is Sumi so invested in getting you and I together? [x] Yuzuki knows something's wrong with how you were acting. Should we tell her the truth or keep this between us?
[x] When did this whole thing start? Sumi said something about basic training but didn't seem to know the specific. [x] Why me? I mean yeah, I think I'm kind of cute but... [x] Why didn't you say anything? Well, I might have been a bit confused at first, but I don't know. Maybe it would have worked out?
[x] When did this whole thing start? Sumi said something about basic training but didn't seem to know the specific. [x] Why me? I mean yeah, I think I'm kind of cute but... [x] Why didn't you say anything? Well, I might have been a bit confused at first, but I don't know. Maybe it would have worked out? [x] What should I do to make you feel better? (Err, without going too far, of course. I'm still a little unsure about things.)
[x] Why me? I mean yeah, I think I'm kind of cute but... [x] Why didn't you say anything? Well, I might have been a bit confused at first, but I don't know. Maybe it would have worked out? [x] You're not angry at Yamame, right? [x] Why is Sumi so invested in getting you and I together? [x] Yuzuki knows something's wrong with how you were acting. Should we tell her the truth or keep this between us?
There's too many options that I actually want to hear the answers to so I guess I'll go with these ones.
[X] When did this whole thing start? Sumi said something about basic training but didn't seem to know the specific. [x] Why didn't you say anything? Well, I might have been a bit confused at first, but I don't know. Maybe it would have worked out? [x] You're not angry at Yamame, right? [X] What should I do to make you feel better? (Err, without going too far, of course. I'm still a little unsure about things.)
[x] When did this whole thing start? Sumi said something about basic training but didn't seem to know the specific. [x] Why me? I mean yeah, I think I'm kind of cute but... [x] Why didn't you say anything? Well, I might have been a bit confused at first, but I don't know. Maybe it would have worked out?
[ ] When did this whole thing start? Sumi said something about basic training but didn't seem to know the specific. [ ] Why me? I mean yeah, I think I'm kind of cute but... [ ] Why didn't you say anything? Well, I might have been a bit confused at first, but I don't know. Maybe it would have worked out? [ ] Is this going to make things weird? You and Sumi were fighting and things between us are awkward now. Can we fix things? [ ] You're not angry at Yamame, right? [ ] Do you always eat so much when you're upset? [ ] What should I do to make you feel better? (Err, without going too far, of course. I'm still a little unsure about things.) [ ] Why is Sumi so invested in getting you and I together? [ ] Yuzuki knows something's wrong with how you were acting. Should we tell her the truth or keep this between us?
[X] When did this whole thing start? Sumi said something about basic training but didn't seem to know the specific. [X] Why me? I mean yeah, I think I'm kind of cute but... [X] Why didn't you say anything? Well, I might have been a bit confused at first, but I don't know. Maybe it would have worked out? [X] You're not angry at Yamame, right? [X] Yuzuki knows something's wrong with how you were acting. Should we tell her the truth or keep this between us?
There's actually a multitude of questions I feel like I want to ask right now. However some of those aren't necessarily the nicest, or at least I don't have good ways to phrase them. This is a situation that needs to be handled somewhat delicately while taking everyone's feelings into account. So exactly the kind of situation that I'm sure I'm going to be awful at. Ugh. Maybe I should just be cautious and only ask a few things. Ringo's mood makes it seem like questioning her too hard might end up overwhelming her. Best to keep it basic for now.
Okay, I know what I want to start off with at least. "Why me?" That might be the biggest question on my mind. "I mean yeah, I know I'm cute at least, but that's about it. There ought to have been someone better at some point."
"No," Ringo is still somewhat slouched in her chair and looks uncomfortable, but her response is still clear enough for me to tell she's not lying. "There's definitely more to it than you being cute. That helps, but..." She tries to think of what to say next, but has to pause for a while. "Ugh. It might be easier if I just tell you the fully story. Fair warning that it's kinda long, and I haven't talked about this stuff before, so it might not be that coherent either."
I'm still working on suppressing the squirm that comes to me when when people call me cute, but I still nod along with Ringo's suggestion. Really, it's weird to suddenly have people treating me like this and giving me compliments and stuff. Back home, nobody ever did that. Although I can understand that there were reasons for that. speaking of back home though. "R-right. You never said anything about it back home so the story might help... When did this whole um... Liking me thing start?" Oh hey, more embarrassment. I knew I wasn't done for the night. "Sumi said something about it being back in basic, but almost seemed to be guessing. She didn't know the specifics."
"Well no, basic isn't completely correct," Ringo reaches up to scratch the back of her neck slightly. I think I can see just a little bit of blush on her face. Wow, that's a new one. "I was definitely aware of you back then, but it wasn't like an immediate thing. You and I just kind of left each other alone and did our own things."
"Right, yeah," Gosh, that's a weird time to think about. It was so long ago that Ringo and I weren't friends, and barely knew each other's names. "Back when I tried to focus on learning and following along with whatever I was told, and you... I don't know, I didn't keep up with you and your friends. I felt like you guys were up to no good most of the time."
"That's actually a bit of an understatement. With me and my social group at the time... Well, if there was a rule in place, chances are good that we were breaking it for some reason or another. Sneaking crap under Command's nose was a business that a lot of people wanted a stake in. Bringing contraband in, swiping confiscated stuff back, even sneaking people out of base after hours. We took care of things like that," Wait, what? Ringo notices me giving her an incredulous look. "And we didn't get caught either. We'd just spread enough rumors over comms or plant enough fake evidence to get people we didn't like in trouble. Naoko was ridiculously good at making sure that the heat never fell back on us. I just followed her around so I'd never get caught."
I remember Naoko somewhat. About as tall as Ringo, but had really long ears. Kind of scrawny, didn't stand out much. Short red hair, I think it was called a pixie cut? It's kind of surprising that Ringo was following her instead of the other way around. From what I remember, Naoko was generally pretty quiet, even if she had a habit of looking inappropriately smug at times. "What does she have to do with it though?"
"I kinda gotta work my way to that," Well, at the very least it seems like Ringo is getting a bit more talkative. She still doesn't look happy though. "So back when we were in basic at the same time, I only paid attention to you in the same way I paid attention to anyone else. When Naoko told me to, I checked into you to see if there was any dirt. Didn't find any, and didn't have any reason to bother too hard. We just ignored you and focused on our own business. That was until the uh," Ringo pauses again. I notice that she's been avoiding looking at me for too long this whole time. In fact even right now she seems to be somewhat preoccupied moving one of the empty food containers around with her foot. "The shooting incident," She finally mumbles out.
Oh. That. Ringo almost never mentions that, although it's always pretty fresh in my mind. I even dreamed about it this morning. Although the dream wasn't exactly one-hundred percent accurate. "Hm," I prompt her to keep going. Even if I don't like remembering that, if it helps with the story, then she should just keep going.
"Of course that got everyone talking about you," Oh boy did it ever... "Given the circumstances, Naoko decided it would be easiest for me to get info and stuff on you again, just in case we needed to use it later. You were the cause of something that was..." Ringo catches herself before continuing. Was what? Dangerous? Deadly? Horrible? I know all of that already, although I guess it would probably hurt to have Ringo say it out loud. "Well, everybody knew about it, and a lot of people were worried about it. The idea was that it'd be easy to pin extreme stuff on you if we needed a distraction. The masses would believe it if we said the right things on comms. That was Naoko's plan anyway," Wait, what? This is all new to me. Does that mean that all the bad rumors that started popping up around me were- "You remember that time I visited you in the hospital?"
Ringo kind of interrupted my train of thought there. "Err... No," At least, I don't think I do. I was in the hospital for a long time, but I don't remember having any visitors at all actually.
Ringo sighs, frowning as she accidentally kicks the container she's been messing around with a little too hard. Right, super strength. It slides all the way under the bed, leaving Ringo without anything to keep her occupied. "That's what I figured. You were pretty messed up at the time. I probably just came too early, when they were still just throwing stuff at you to see if any of it would stick," Urgh. I remember that time, or at least some of it. A lot of it I wasn't exactly that lucid for. Lunarian medicine is kind of terrifying when you have something they don't know exactly how to deal with. "You were... well, it had a big effect on me. Obviously I didn't get any useful info from you, and I didn't want to. The idea of forcing you through more shit after you got out made me sick to my stomach. My stomach," She emphasizes with a wry smirk that doesn't stay on her face for very long. "I couldn't follow the orders from Naoko and the rest of the group, so I quit."
That seems just a little bit sudden. "What, just like that?"
"Nope. You don't get out of that kind of situation as a clean break," Okay, that's more of what I figured. "Luckily, as Naoko so kindly pointed out, I was supposed to be their dumb muscle. Insult or not, it at least meant they couldn't fight me physically," Yeah, given Naoko's size... Well maybe she'd have a chance if Ringo hadn't eaten anything in like a day. "So all they could do was throw all kinds of social threats at me. I knew they were going to make good on them, but whatever. I was done with them. Figured I'd just have to deal with whatever happened afterward."
"And all of that was just because of me?" Ringo cut herself off from her friends and dealt with some kind of unspecified revenge just because they were planning on taking advantage of my problems. That's... Well I appreciate it I guess, but I would have told her not to if I had heard about it. Even back then when I didn't know Ringo personally.
"Not exactly. I had already been getting pretty tired of all the crap that stupid clique was doing. You just happened to be the breaking point for me," Okay, that's a little better. I still feel kind of guilty about it. "Originally it was supposed to be a fun way to rebel against some of Command's dumb rules. We were basically the only source of booze anyone knew of, and good luck sneaking out to see somebody late at night without our connections," I wouldn't have wanted to be involved with that stuff at the time anyway, but I knew plenty of people who did. "Then it gradually started to become something more and more shady. Like some kind of racket where you had to pay in the right favors and know the right people, and even then you might get randomly screwed over if you're not careful..." Ringo gazes off into the distance, not that there's much distance to cover in this small dorm room. She's just remembering things.
"I didn't know about any of this," I admit quietly. It's really weird to think that so much was happening behind the scenes while I was just busy trying to get through the basic training, or trying to get better in the hospital.
"You actually missed a lot of it," Ringo refocuses and stops thinking about whatever memories she was going through. "Most of the fallout was over by the time you got out of the hospital. By that time I was forcefully isolated from pretty much everyone that the clique still had influence over, and most everyone else knew that helping me out would have messy consequences. I was well out of the open conflict phase and into the cold war between me and way too many shady rabbits. It was... It was a pretty rough time," With how Ringo's talking, it really sounds like this is a subject I would normally want to avoid bringing up. Like I wouldn't make her talk about it if she wasn't offering up the information herself.
"But couldn't you have gone to Command?"
"Mutually assured destruction," Ringo answers with a shrug. I'm not really following, and she quickly notices as much. "None of us wanted to get discharged or whatever else Command might have done if everything we were up to got found out. I had just as much dirt on all of them as they had on me. Things evened out enough that bringing Command in would have screwed everyone over, so nobody did."
"I see..." On the one hand, I can't believe that Command wouldn't notice so many infractions in the rules, on the other hand, they might not have cared nearly as much as they pretended to. As long as nobody said anything, would they bother to worry about rabbits bickering? A long time ago I would have said yes, but now I'm not that sure. If they really cared enough to watch over what all of us rabbits were doing all that closely, they surely would have caught Ringo's friends at some point, right?
"Of course, I didn't know if that would hold forever, so I decided I needed to stay in Command's good graces too. It couldn't hurt, and plus," Ringo grimaces slightly. "The lack of any kind social life meant I didn't have much else to do."
That actually does connect some dots in my mind. Before the shooting incident, I know that Ringo wasn't really anything special in terms of performance in lessons or drills or pretty much anything. That obviously had to have changed at some point, and I didn't really know why before now. "You got promoted before I had even gotten out of the hospital," I recall.
"That was definitely the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Command isn't well known for handing out chances to advance or even praise very easily," Yeah, I can definitely relate to that. I know the reason though. Lunarians don't really seem to care about effort put in, only success gotten out. "Having the powers I do helped a lot. They're definitely the only way I managed to make things work," Ringo heaves a heavy sigh and holds her face in her hands, rubbing slightly at her temples. "It's shitty, isn't it? I basically cheated through anything physical just to keep myself safe. I crapped all over the hard work that other people were doing just because I happened to get lucky with random magic or whatever."
"That's not really your fault," I argue weakly.
"I didn't have to eat dango, but I still chose to," Ringo answers back quickly. Well, that might be true, but is it really so terrible to use what you're given? I would if my powers weren't dangerous and if I knew how to control them properly. "It already made me feel bad when I finished up and ended up getting promoted, but I felt even worse when you finally got out of the hospital," Ringo finally looks at me, although it's somewhat tentative. She doesn't keep eye contact for very long. "You're fresh off of medical leave. Nobody you know is still in basic with you. None of them are gonna talk to you. Most of the people around you are spreading rumors about random crap that isn't your fault. What do you do? You go back to training and finish everything up. By yourself. Honestly."
"Well," I didn't think it was that big of a deal. What else was I going to do at the time? I mean, I guess I could have quit, but there aren't a lot of career paths for rabbits who don't make it through some amount of military training. "I was just trying to do what I could."
"And I admired you for it," Ringo answers. I'm squirming again, I can feel it. Sheesh... "At some point after I had gotten you assigned to my unit, I guess that changed to some other kinds of feelings. I don't know, it was a very gradual thing. I didn't really even notice it until I got Sumi assigned to us and she ended up calling me out on liking you."
Hold on, now that she mentions it, the coincidence does seem a little strange. "W-wait, I thought that I was assigned to you randomly?"
"No, I burned good will and favors pretty hard to have a say over who I got command of," Ringo explains before grimacing again. "It's probably the only good thing I learned how to do from Naoko. I figured if I was already a fraud of a leader to begin with, I might as well use the position to help out people who were stuck in bad or worse circumstances than I had cheated myself out of. All four of you fit the bill perfectly. You were all isolated from the rest of the rabbits for one reason or another. I wanted all of us to be able to help each other. That part at least worked out."
"Hm," I kinda have to think things over a little bit here. So it turns out that Ringo was watching me for a while before we had even really met, or at least properly talked to each other. That's a bit more than I was expecting. I don't think it's bad or anything it's just... So many things were going on while I wasn't even remotely aware of them. When they're all suddenly thrown in my face at once, I'm having trouble figuring out how to react. Maybe if it had been more gradual instead, I might have been better equipped to deal with it. "But why didn't you say anything about how you felt? I might have been a bit confused at first, sure, but I don't know. Maybe it would have worked out?"
"You just said it right there. Maybe," Ringo points out, sounding a little bit discouraged. "You obviously weren't into the whole dating thing, and I wasn't going to force the issue with all the other baggage we'd have to get through," She holds up her hand, listing off points on her fingers. "You might not like me. There's the threat of giving Naoko another point of blackmail if she hears about it. Relationships are still against Command's rules, so the endgame of all relationships for rabbits becomes 'get caught or keep it a secret forever'. The group dynamic of our unit..." She pauses for a moment, then drops her hands. "Well okay, that one probably isn't a big deal," She admits. "I did intend to eventually say something, but not until I was sure all the issues were cleared up."
"Sumi was pretty sure you were going to say something tonight," It might have been wishful thinking on her part though. She seemed to support the whole idea.
"Maybe," I'm kind of feeling like that's more of a 'no' in disguise though. "Being so disconnected from the Moon does make a lot of problems go away, so... Maybe," Ringo sighs again and looks past me, toward the wall to Sumi's Room. "Doesn't really matter now, does it? Sumi already said something for me."
"I guess so..."
The room falls into silence at my vague answer. It's long enough that I feel a little bit uncomfortable, but I'm not that sure what to say now. Ringo mostly covered the big questions that I had, and I don't want to push too hard after she just had to spill so much about herself and the past to me.
"So, what do you think?" Ringo finally asks after another few moments of awkward silence.
"About..." Ringo waves one hand weakly in a circle between the two of us. "You know, us?"
"Oh," R-right. Right. Rather than just asking questions, I have to respond to Ringo's feelings, right? How do I do that when I don't know what to say or how I feel? "I think that I'm not really sure," Is what finally comes out of my mouth. It's really not satisfying to admit, so I keep going. "This is really sudden for me. I have no idea what I'm doing! Up until recently, like you said, I didn't even know that I wanted to try doing romance stuff."
"But that changed for the spider girl," Ringo mutters. Err, that's not a nice facial expression there. She kind of grimaced for a moment before getting her face back to normal. Is that what it looks like when other people catch my expressions being too obvious.
"Y-yeah," I answer, feeling slightly nervous for another reason now. I don't really want to, because I don't think I'll like the answer, but I feel like I need to ask about that reaction. "Um, you're not angry at Yamame, are you?"
"No," Ringo answers, a little to quickly to feel genuine. She seems to notice me not buying it. "Okay, I feel a little weird about it. She has nothing to do with us, and we don't know anything about her other than being an underground youkai. I'm not saying that she's dangerous, but that doesn't mean that things will work out well even if she isn't."
"I know, but she's... I don't know, she was friendly and fun. I liked spending time with her tonight and..." Oh, Ringo's face is getting sour again. She's even biting slightly at her thumb! Maybe not the best subject to bring up. "N-never mind."
Ringo's face turns back to normal quickly. "Sorry..."
Urgh, this is too hard! "Can I think about things a little more?" I finally decide to ask. "I'm not turning you down or anything, I really do want to give you a chance, but I'm still mixed up. It's been a really long day and so much has happened and-"
Ringo interrupts me with a surprisingly gentle voice considering she was just recently so visibly upset. "It'd be pretty hypocritical of me to force you to immediately make a decision when I had years of prep time, wouldn't it? If you want to take some time, that's fine with me," She answers. Phew. That's a bit of a relief. "Just watch out or Sumi will get on your case," She jokes, actually smiling at me a little.
"Right," I give as normal of a smile back as I can, despite still feeling conflicted about the whole thing. "Speaking of the others though; Yuzuki knows that something is up with you and me because of how we both acted tonight. Should we tell her the truth or keep this between us?"
"Yyeaaaah. I kinda should have thought about that one earlier," Ringo admits. "Well, I can act like usual if you can. We don't have to say anything to anyone else if you don't want to. It'd probably make it easier for you to make up your mind that way."
"Okay," At least Ringo's still being her normal easy going self now. She might be faking it a little, but um... Actually, wait a second. "Sumi might have been listening through the wall though."
"That's fine. If she is, I'm forcing her to carry the portal all the way back tomorrow. If she isn't, well I'll force her to anyway," Ringo smiles smugly at the wall to Sumi's room, waits for a few seconds, then looks back to me. "Hm, no outrage, guess she's not listening."
Yeah, Sumi probably wouldn't have kept quiet at that. A pretty nice test, though it looks like it came back negative. "Are you really making her carry things tomorrow?"
"Maybe," Ringo shrugs casually, standing up from her chair and stretching a little bit. "I'll figure that out tomorrow though. For now, we should get some sleep. What are you thinking about rooming arrangements?"
Right. That is a problem. Chiyo's already asleep in one room, and Yuzuki is probably going to join her. That means we have four more beds and three rabbits to fill them. That would be easy if it weren't for me and my issues.
[ ] Sleep next to Ringo, just like this morning. It was nice, but a little dangerous. [ ] Sleep in the same room as Ringo, but a different bed. Just for safety. [ ] Ask Ringo to sleep in a room with Sumi. Better safe than sorry.
[ ] Take a pill [ ] Don't take a pill - [ ] Bullets - [ ] Suppress - [ ] Void - [ ] What???
[ ] Say something else to Ringo (Write-in just in case you're not satisfied with Seiran leaving things as they are for tonight)
[x] Sleep in the same room as Ringo, but a different bed. Just for safety. [x] Don't take a pill - [x] Bullets
Hot daaaaaang, that backstory's some impressive attention to detail. I don't care if it's a weird thing to comment on, or if everyone else thinks it's nothing special, that's the sort of thing I aspire to as a writer. Makes my characters look like cardboard cut-outs.
[x] Sleep in the same room as Ringo, but a different bed. Just for safety. [x] Don't take a pill - [x] Void
You folks are aware that sleeping in the same bed as Ringo isn't just dangerous for her, right? She is currently hopped up on we don't know how much dango. She broke a table and a door by accident for crying out loud.
[X] Sleep next to Ringo, just like this morning. It was nice, but a little dangerous. [X] Don't take a pill - [X] Void
Sleeping arrangements, sleeping arrangements... It's not a concern that has come up in quite a while actually. We don't really have a default rooming arrangement for this kind of situation. Honestly if it weren't for me we wouldn't even need one. I'm the only one that's dangerous. Similarly, I'm the only one that hasn't picked out a room yet. My stuff must still be sitting in the room Chiyo is in right now, so I need to grab that first, but where to go after that?
Ringo, Yuzuki, and Sumi are all still up and awake. At least I assume so. Even though they don't talk about it (thank you) all of them are aware of my sleeping issues. They would all be understanding if I asked them to move around for my sake, although Sumi and Yuzuki would have to be told about me not taking my pills in order for it to make sense to them. Ugh, that kind of limits my options. I don't really want to have to have that conversation tonight. Maybe some other time. For now I think it's fine to stick with Ringo.
"I guess I'll sleep in here with you, if that's okay," I respond, trying to make it sound as calm as possible despite the worrying implications it might have for Ringo's safety. She's not going to protest, I know that. That doesn't mean I'm endorsing it or anything though.
"Of course I'm okay with it," Ringo leans back in her chair and gives me a look like I'm the one that needs a reality check. "You should be more specific though. Did you mean in your own bed or like we were this morning?"
Oh right. That was also a thing. I mean, of course I haven't forgotten about this morning, but I wasn't planning on bringing it up either. I'm willing to admit (to myself if not out loud) that I liked having someone sleeping right next to me. Well not even just someone. Specifically, I liked being around Ringo. She's my best friend, so I don't think that's weird or anything. It also doesn't really imply anything with respect to what Ringo and I just got done talking about. It was perfectly innocent enjoyment of having someone I like be close to me. In a bed. Which is against the rules, but...
Still though, it definitely was somewhat risky even without taking rules into account. It almost went really badly really quickly. Regardless of me enjoying being in the be with Ringo, I'm a bit conflicted about taking that kind of risk again. "Wouldn't doing it like this morning be kind of dangerous?" I'm kind of hoping that even Ringo will realize she almost got shot and right now she's asking for more. If we were to sleep like that again, with right next to me, there aren't a whole lot of angles that I would be able to shoot in without causing injury. We'd be rolling the dice in more ways than one.
"Hmm. Mayyyybe?" Okay, Ringo's not thinking this is a big deal, obviously. "I guess there could end up being a problem if we don't work around it. Let me think here." Ringo gets up from her chair and walks slowly over to the bed that I'm not currently sitting on. "Oh, this should work," She picks up the complimentary pillow from near the head the headboard.
Err, wait. I reach over and grab the matching piece of bedding on this side. Yeah, this is just a regular pillow. "What is something like this going to do against a bullet?"
Ringo raises an eyebrow. "Bullet? Bullet nothing, this is for me."
Hugging the pillow to herself, Ringo compresses the pillow as much as it can possibly be compressed. "Well I'm still pretty powered up right now, so if I end up squeezing you or something during the night, it could hurt you. Not gonna hurt this thing. So there. I hold onto this and that's that. Danger avoided."
Oh, right. I hadn't even been thinking about Ringo's powers at all. I guess she does have a point though. But wait, that just makes this whole thing an even worse idea than it already was! "Okay, that might work for you, but you're purposely ignoring the biggest issue."
"Something bigger than my muscles?! Not likely," Ringo exaggeratedly flexes her arms. Honestly, she doesn't even look that buff, even though I know how strong she is. Her arms might be a little bit better toned than normal, but that's it. I'm kind of glad that her powers don't make her become visibly ripped though. It's a personal preference, but I think that would look kind of gross. How she looks now is just fine. Err, well, aside from the residual bad mood messiness that she hasn't gotten a chance to take care of.
None of that is even related to the point though. "You're still ignoring what I'm actually worried about," She's doing it on purpose to try and reassure me I think, but I'm not just going to leave the issue alone. "This is serious Ringo. I could shoot you."
Ringo sighs and tosses the pillow as lightly as she can (which isn't very lightly at all) over me and onto the bed that I'm sitting on. "Yes, I know that we could potentially hurt each other," She admits. "But I want to do this anyway. It's..." Ringo grasps at some words for a moment, unsure of exactly how to continue. "Look, this is a bad thing for me to say. I'm being manipulative and trying to force you into things, and I know that, so you're allowed to tell me to shut up. It's just that I really think that having you sleep net to me would make me feel a lot better," Urk. "Just knowing that things aren't all weird with us now or anything would be a pretty big weight off my mind and make it easier to."
Urgh, yeah, that is just a little bit unfair. I'm still feeling guilty about ruining Ringo's night and making her feel bad, even if I didn't know I was doing it at the time. Making her feel better is definitely a high priority for me, and she's now just handing me a way to do that. Namely by listening to her and doing what she wants. Yes, that is kind of manipulative.
That doesn't mean it isn't working.
Ringo's feeling's aside, (not that I would ever discount them of course but I'm trying to work toward another point here) I do still kind of like the idea of sleeping in the same bed as her. Honestly, I just really like being close to girls in general. That's kind of a new thing that I'm learning about myself. I'm also learning that I might not be the best at handling that kind of interest by myself. It definitely isn't helping when two different girls are both offering to help me explore it in different ways. Either I can be responsible about it, or I can try to indulge in these opportunities while I have the chance.
I almost sigh again, but stop myself. "I'll go grab my stuff," Ringo pumps her fist and flings herself onto the bed as I stand up.
Giving Ringo a suggestion that she should at least clean up the room a bit before we go to bed, I walk back out into the hallway. Let's see, the room we first stopped in is right... Here. It's closed up because Chiyo is currently using it. Hopefully I won't bother her too much by just stepping in to get my backpack. Not bothering to knock, I turn the doorknob-aaaaaand it's locked. Of course it would be. The only person inside is asleep. Wait, did Chiyo lock everyone else out? That doesn't seem like something she'd do. Maybe Yuzuki has a key.
Once I've made it back to the common area, Yuzuki's already giving me a curious gaze from over top of her book. Right, I guess she doesn't know exactly what's going on. How do I respond to this? Ringo said she would act like usual and I should do the same, but come on! Everyone keeps telling me that I have no poker face!
"Ringo is cleaning up right now, and it seems like she's carrying herself a bit better. I'm assuming that your talk helped her?" Yuzuki asks without waiting for me to greet her. "You were in there for quite a while though. Much longer than I would think necessary to deal with one night's worth of issues."
She's implying something, but I'm not sure what. Actually, it might just be my guilty conscience. Hard to tell. "There was a bit more to it than that," I mutter vaguely. Wait, something just occured to me. "You weren't um, lip reading or anything, were you?"
"I've developed enough sense to avoid doing that with what is clearly a sensitive or private conversation. I have no idea what specifically you and Ringo talked about," I'm not exactly convinced, but Yuzuki continues on anyway. "My senses don't do anything that would allow me to hear things from several rooms away. Lip reading means that I would have to actively try to match speech with lip movements in real time. That's not an automatic or natural process, unlike the passive information gathering that I normally do."
"Okay," I kinda have a feeling that if Yuzuki was lying, she'd be doing a worse job of it. I believe her for now. "Thanks."
"That being said, I would like an explanation for what happened at some point," Yuzuki adds. I'm not going to say she doesn't deserve one, but I will say I don't know what I'd want to tell her. "However it is getting a little late, so I don't intend to press you for it right now. As long as everything has worked out, it can wait until later if you'd like."
"I would," I answer instantly. Ugh, of course. I should have known that keeping a secret with not one, but two people with super senses would be difficult. Let's just move on. "Anyway, you have the key to Chiyo's room, right?" It's a sudden change of topic, but Yuzuki still nods. "Can I have it to go and grab my stuff?"
"Certainly," Yuzuki produces a small key and slides it onto the table she's sitting at. "How is the rooming going to work out by the way? It seems like Sumi and Ringo have both taken up our remaining rooms, and neither one is currently in the process of leaving."
Right, I'm, uh, going to room with Ringo," My answer doesn't do the best job at hiding my awkwardness. It's kind of hard to do so considering that I just realized Yuzuki is definitely going to know that Ringo and I are sleeping in the same bed. She wasn't there to notice this morning, but that's because she wasn't even in the same general area as the rest of us. There's no possible way that she isn't going to know now. That seems like the kind of thing that is going to change her request for an explanation is into a demand very quickly, isn't it?
Yuzuki just nods to me and goes back to her book. Yup, there's that feeling again, but in another flavor. Anticipatory embarrassment. Being embarrassed about the thing that you already know you're going to be embarrassed about later when it comes up again. Another new kind of embarrassment discovered! Well on the bright side, maybe this is the last one I'll figure out for tonight. That'd be nice.
I scoop the key up off the table and hurry back to Chiyo's room, unlocking it and going inside. Chiyo herself is a nondescript bump under a pile of bedding as usual. I'd say she looks comfortable, but there isn't really much evidence that she's actually in there other than me already knowing she is. The lights are off, which doesn't help, but there's enough coming in from the hallway to grab my backpack and leave. Chiyo doesn't even move from the time that I entered to the point where I lock the door behind me. Nice.
With all my belongings slung onto my back, it's just another quick walk to give Yuzuki her key back. Once she has it again, she assures me she'll be heading to bed soon as well. Apparently whatever she's reading has her quite occupied. Enough so that she's actually decided to read it instead of using her powers to pick up all the information at once. I wonder how that works actually. Does she still have to take time to parse through all the words? Well whatever, that's her business. She can read as long as she wants. If she's still planning on going to Hina's shrine tomorrow though, it probably shouldn't be much longer. At least I think so. What time is it anyway? Man I may have gotten too used to the day night cycle that Earth has. I didn't used to need the sun to keep track of time.
Opening up the door to Ringo's (and I guess my) room, I see that she's cleaned up a little bit. Nothing that would pass a Yuzuki inspection, but I'm not going to get on her that badly about it. She's straightened up the broken pieces of desk and returned the chairs to their rightful positions. She's stored the empty food containers away and fixed up the bed she was resting in before. There isn't much we can do about the broken parts of the door, but luckily it still closes and locks properly.
"So I kinda still wanna be the big spoon, but that's not really doable with the powers thing. Any ideas?" Ringo asks, looking up from the bed further away from the door.
Personally, I'm still not sure what the whole 'spoon' thing is. "It'd probably be safest to be back to back," I decide. Usually I would shoot bullets forward if I'm going to shoot them at all. It's not a guarantee but every little bit helps. Have I mentioned that this is dumb and I probably should just call the whole thing off yet? Because that thought keeps popping into my head.
Ringo, for her part, responds with a slightly disappointed look, but doesn't argue. I'm pretty sure she's also aware of how apprehensive I'm feeling about this whole thing, and doesn't want to risk getting into an argument about it. I'm the one with all the power here, even if I don't know how to use it.
There's still a little bit more preparation to do. I have to stop by the bathroom again and do a little bit of pre-sleep freshening. Can I comment on how nice having a dedicated bathroom is after months of living in the wilderness? Because it's really really nice. It doesn't distract me from all the weird feelings I'm having due to all of the everything that happened today, but it's something.
I settle into bed as Ringo turns the lights off. Yup, this is definitely a real bed. I was kind of spoiled about how nice it would be when I was sitting on it earlier, but laying on it is pretty great too. Even if it's only objectively average, it's still much better than what I've become used to. It's also worth noting that the dorms, like most of the rest of the plant, are very well heated, if a little dry. We definitely don't need as much in the way of blankets as we did back at our old camp. Maybe I-
This bed isn't exactly made for two people, is it? Now that Ringo's laid down, I can tell that technically we both fit just fine, but um... I am very much aware of how close Ringo is to me right now.
"G'night," Ringo says happily before turning away from me, facing outward. That puts me facing the wall. At least, I will be when I turn that direction. Right now I'm still trying to get over this suddenly weird mood that I'm having. Yes, I am tired from such a long day, but I'm ending it in such an unsual way that I can't be expected to immediately get comfortable. There's still too much to think about like um...
Ringo likes me.
Agh, thinking about this is weird. Maybe I'll be able to wrap my head around it better in the morning. Let's just get this over with.
It's dark. Not so dark that I can't still see, but definitely dark. Like some kind of haze is crowding my vision, but I can't tell what exactly is causing it. It doesn't matter that much. It's not obscuring much of anything. Even without it, there wouldn't be much to see.
There are colors. A familiar kind of mix of reds and blues and purples, all masked behind the dark filter. They don't form any particular pattern, in fact they seem to shift over time. Only when I'm not looking though. Staring at a spot seems to make it stabilize just a little bit. I want to try and see what happens when I really REALLY focus on one spot, but I can't seem to do it. I've gotten close before, there almost seemed to be solid shapes of some kind. I couldn't keep on it for long enough though.
I don't have any control. It's a strange sensation. My sense of self is far too weak. Nothing's keeping me grounded, but nothing is letting go free either. There's no sense of gravity or weight to my movement, if indeed I'm moving at all. With only the colors around, it's entirely possible that I'm not. Maybe everything else is moving instead. It's hard to tell when I can't feel anything. I can't see myself either, or maybe I could if I could move my head to look at myself. I'm more curious about the other one though.
Someone is humming. It's a light, kind of somber tune. Just soothing enough to not be haunting, although if I were in a worse frame of mind I suppose I could see it either way. Occasionally the humming stops and I hear some other noises, but that's much less predictable. It always starts with a squish, or a crunch, or a splat, then moves into something else. Sometimes it's a giggle, sometimes a sigh, I swear I've heard crying at least once, but usually it's just silence. Then it eventually goes back to the humming again.
This isn't the first time. I've been here many times before. I think it started around basic training. Before that maybe? What happened before that? What started all this? I don't know. Probably don't want to know. Being here so many times let's me stay calm, but that's all it does. The dream doesn't listen to me.
It's a dream. I'm always lucid enough to think of that eventually, but nothing positive comes of the realization. The humming doesn't stop. My body doesn't start existing. The colors don't stay still. The darkness doesn't go away. All I get are me and my thoughts, scattered as they may be.
That's not right. It's not just me and my thoughts. After I've realized that I'm in a dream, some kind of image will start to form. It starts out as a blob. A nondescript pink blob. It shifts and warps into something recognizable, but the specific thing is always different. I know that once it's finished, the humming will get closer, then stop, then this dream will end. That's how it always happens. I don't know what the point of it all is, but it's happened enough for me to be used to it.
The shape is almost finished. I can already tell what it's going to be...
[ ] Bullet [ ] Square [ ] Apple [ ] Gun [ ] Star [ ] Hourglass
It shifts and morphs right in front of me. It's hard to describe it as a solid or a liquid, but it's too substantial to be a gas. Somewhere in between? Might as well be. As I watch, it gradually becomes more and more opaque. Less and less transient. When it finally finishes, it comes to a stop. That's an hourglass. Initially I thought it was something else, but I can see it easily now. Large bulb at the base and large bulb at the top, coming together closely in the middle of the neck, just enough that it would let a bit of something fall through.The shape calls to mind an image that doesn't at all fit the body (whose?), but that's not why it's appropriate. This isn't a question of form, but one of function.
It's useless. Looking at it now, how functional could it really be? Despite taking on such a shape, it's still an opaque pink blob. It can't be properly used to tell time if you can't see within it. Even if you flipped it over, you could only assume that it was doing its job at its own pace. There would be no way to tell if it were satisfactory. An even more worthless version of an already irrelevant tool. Throw it out.
It shouldn't even bother. Other tools would be better. More clear. Easier to work with. this one can stay shelved. It may be flipped once in a while out of some vague curiosity, but there isn't any other need for it, is there? Just sitting around and looking cute (cute?) is good enough, isn't it?
Everything starts to blur. I see indistinct flashes. Images that are too difficult to identify clearly, but still give an idea of things gone by. Years of work and effort, ruined by random chance. Lack of control, lost time. Confusion, isolation, anger, and finally apathy. Just like I thought, it doesn't need to bother. Telling the time with something like this isn't even possible. It's a broken tool, isn't it?
Something about that is wrong.
I don't want it to be like that.
That's definitely wrong.
I want to reach out and grab it. I want to turn the hourglass over and give it purpose. Maybe if I could just touch it I could clean the pink stuff off enough to see inside. Where are my arms? Where is any part of me? My sense of self is far too weak. Nothing's keeping me grounded, but nothing is letting go free either. I've already thought that. It's not useful. I want to reach out and grab it.
"Curious, curious..." A voice speaks. It has a strange, spacey kind of quality that makes it sound like she's just woken up. That can't be right though, I just heard her humming, right? This is the first time I've heard it speak, but I know it's the same person. Or presence, because I can't see her. I can only hear her. Why? Why now? Why not any of the other times? "Aha!" The owner of the voice doesn't seem to have nearly as much energy as her exclamation implies. "Naughty. We can't have you visiting others like that."
The hourglass is pulled out of my view, leaving me looking at nothing but the void again. I try to whirl my head around, get a clear view of something. Anything really. Of course that's not possible though. I can't move myself when there isn't any self to move. "Can't take my eyes off you for two seconds, can I?" The voice sounds playful, but still like she's halfway to falling over at any second. Her words blend together lazily, but is that her or my own senses? Everything feels so disconnected right now without anything to focus on.
"Hm, a pity. Tainted before it matured," Thoughtful, but not at all regretful. She giggles again. "Oh well. Let's eat~"
A crunch. It sounds like shattering of glass. Everything gets a little darker.
I feel something grab hold of me next. Another giggle. Then I don't feel anything at all.
Huh?! Wha-? Oh... Ugh. Uhhhhhnnn...
It's a lot less violent of an awakening compared to yesterday, but I still don't feel good right now. I'm sleeping in a bed, so shouldn't I feel more rested than usual? Yes, I am a little bit hotter than I'd like, but that's to be expected with where we are. Why do I feel so awful? A groan comes out of my mouth involuntarily. It's loud enough that it hurts my throat too. Ugh. Ow. Why did that hurt? I need water or something. I'm thirsty. Ow. Was I not breathing properly overnight or something?
Wait, my nose is all stuffed up. My head is abnormally hot too. More than the rest of me, which also has its own share of problems. My muscles are kind of aching. If it were just my legs that would make sense. I did climb a lot of stairs and walk around a lot yesterday. I hurt all over though. I didn't get drunk again, I know that. The feeling I have now isn't quite the same thing as yesterday's hangover, and I don't have any gaps in my memory either. This is so weird. I don't know-
"k-ahem Khyugh kyugh kyugh. Huu-KHOFF"
Eugh. Now I'm coughing. Why did that happen? I couldn't even make myself stop to try and avoid bothering Ringo. I didn't drink anything, so it's not like I accidentally swallowed something badly. If I ever cough, that's normally the only reason I can think of. That might have happened if I tried though, given how raw my throat feels...
Oh! I know this one! I'm sick!
My realization is rewarded with another small coughing fit. Ow. This hurts. Why did this happen? I've never gotten sick before. Sure, our immune systems wouldn't normally be used to dealing with all the dirtiness and impurities that Earth dwellers would be used to, that's true. That was the point of giving us so many immunization shots before we came down here! Lunarian medicine shouldn't be losing to any earthborn illness. how did this-
Ahhh. Uh oh. I feel a sneeze coming on. Wait w-wait! I don't have tissue or anything to sneeze into and Ringo's right next to me and-
Ugghhh. Ow ow ow. I just grabbed my nose and held it shut while I was sneezing so the snot couldn't go anywhere. It worked, but all that pressure really hurt my head, nose, and ears. Dammit... I feel miserable... Normal Earthlings have to live with this just randomly happening to them? No wonder they're so far behind in development compared to the Moon. Some portion of their population probably feels like this every day. Just wanting to lay back down in bed and sleep until it all goes away. That can't be good for productivity.
Speaking of laying back down in bed, that doesn't sound like a bad idea right now. I try to settle in a little bit, but when I twist slightly to the side, I catch Ringo's eye. Did my sneeze wake her up just now? "Mornin," She mumbles, scratching at one of her ears as she sits up next to me. She definitely looks like she just woke up. All squinty and sluggish. It doesn't take her that long to break out of it though. She quickly gets a good look at me. "Everything okay?" Her tone shows she obviously knows the answer is no. I must look about as bad as I feel.
Well, "I'm sick," I answer plainly. Even with the bright side that I didn't accidentally shoot anyone or anything over the night, I don't really feel like I have the energy to say much else. In fact all I really have the energy to do is flop back down. Aaaah. Pillow. Gimme the rest of those blankets too please. I wanna sleep some more.
"What!?" Ringo is as surprised as I would be if I felt up to being much other than tired and sore right now. While I take her old posture of laying down, she takes my sitting up position to try and get a better look at me. "Woah," She says, leaning over me slightly. "Yeah, you don't look so good. I guess I believe it, but that's weird. How are you sick?"
Ringo had all the same shots as I did, so now that I think about it, it's weird that I'm the only one sick. It's true that I was all over the place yesterday. A bit more so than everyone else even. It's technically possible I ran into something that Lunarian science didn't vaccinate me for while the others all avoided it. I kinda have to believe that's possible anyway. It sounds really unlikely, but when the proof is right here in my throat and head and pretty much everywhere else, it's kind of hard to argue against it. "I don't know," Ow. Talking hurts too. Rubbing my throat doesn't help, but I still find myself doing it anyway. "Could you get me some water?"
"R-right!" Ringo's surprisingly serious. Maybe she's worried because of how unusual the situation is. None of us have ever been mundanely sick before. My only trip to the hospital was for power related stuff. The viruses or whatever else this could be happening with me is... Oh that's a scary thought.
I have no idea what's wrong with me.
Okay. No. No. Don't panic. Just because it's something that Command didn't expect us to get exposed to doesn't mean that this is anything dangerous. Command just probably doesn't know about absolutely every kind of sickness down here. Heck, they never even briefed us about the underground, and who knows what kind of germs and dirty stuff I was exposed to back at the Prismriver's mansion. Combine that with all the different kinds of youkai from last night that I certainly wasn't planned to encounter and... I don't really know where I'm going with this. All I'm doing is further convincing myself that I have no idea what's going on with me or how I got sick.
So I have utterly failed to calm myself down. Ugh.
I feel a shiver run down my spine, even though I'm really hot right now. This sucks.
"Some kappa were giving me weird looks. I don't think Kanako told everybody that we were going to be living here yet, if she was even going to. Dunno if they thought I was a new employee or what. I definitely don't look it though, so I guess I get why they were confused," Ringo idly chats as she hands me a glass of water and sits down at the unbroken desk, turning her chair around to face me. Hm, this water is kind of lukewarm. Not sure if that'd be better or worse for my throat than cold water. Whatever. "Still, they helped me out when I asked, so it's cool. I didn't know where the glasses and stuff were, and Yuzuki's out so I can't check with her either."
I sip at my water slowly. Ow. Sore. "Yuzuki's out?" I ask once I feel good enough to talk some more. "Oh, right. It's morning. Shrine visit."
"Right, I did tell her it was okay yesterday, so obviously she went through with it. I checked in with the others too, but they're both still asleep as far as I know. Chi's room is still locked, but apparently Sumi forgot to do the same," Ringo shrugs and shakes her head lightly. "And she says I'm the dumbass?"
She said a lot more things than that. That doesn't really mean she meant them. Well, kinda. "Mm," I make a vague noise of agreement before going back to my water. Ugh, so Yuzuki is out doing something of questionable importance, the others are still asleep, I'm sick, and Ringo is stuck watching me right now. We are the best military unit. Not one of us is focusing on the mission. "Sorry about this."
Ringo raises an eyebrow at me. Don't give me that look. "Oh come on, you think I'm gonna get mad at you for getting sick?"
"Ordinarily no," Putting aside that there's no ordinary situation where I would be sick in the first place. "But we're-cough-we're in a tough spot. We only have so ma-cough-many days left to make this all work out."
"Hey, it's no biggie as long as you're alright," I think it kind of is a big deal Ringo. Me being alright doesn't matter if it means getting blown up by Eirin. "Honestly I'm already thinking of ways to work around this. Figure you'll need a little bit of time to get over it, but we might be able to work something out in the meantime."
No no no, that doesn't sound good at all. "I'll be fine," I try to insist. Not very convincing when I follow it up with a couple more coughs. Ugh, this talking thing really isn't working out, but something tells me I shouldn't just let Ringo make all the decisions here. "All we're doing is taking some scientist to go see the portal, right?"
"Or carrying it back here, yeah," Ringo answers, stretching her arms lightly at the thought. I guess it wouldn't be hard for her to carry something like that. She already got the drone yesterday. "Neither of those things require you specifically though. You don't have to do anything that you're not feeling up to. The rest of us can handle it."
That's... Technically true. That doesn't mean I like the idea though. I want to be there in case something happens. Even if I guess I wouldn't be able to do much about any situation in this condition. Actually, wait. I just had an idea! "Well I just thought that if we're going back to camp anyway then I coughcough could grab some medicine there," I have a first aid kit here, but it's more for immediate injuries instead of treating illnesses. We do have various kinds of medicines just in case back at camp. Maybe one of those will be able to cure whatever's wrong with me.
"The medicine from the people who didn't already give you a vaccine for what's wrong with you now? That's kinda optimistic, don'tcha think?" Ringo asks with a smirk. She kind of has a point. I don't have a complete inventory of what all we had at camp. That's more of Yuzuki's thing. Add on the fact that we don't know what sickness I have...
"What else can we do?" I ask reluctantly.
"Get outside help," Ringo casually answers, reaching over to grab her hat off of the desk and slip it back on her bed head. Actually, her hat was just kind of crumpled over there. Did she throw it when she was upset last night? "We're not in full stealth anymore. We can ask around the plant to see if anybody knows about your illness and how to treat it."
The people down here are mostly going to be engineers, right? Scientists and doctors aren't the same thing. Well, some of the time. I guess it's possible, but... "And if they don't?"
Ringo considers that for a moment. Her face clearly shows the moment she gets another idea. "Oh, we still have to talk to Reisen about what we've decided to do about the whole Moon thing. She would probably want to hear that we've made actual progress. We can swing by the village and find her, then bring her back here or just ask for medicine."
"That's still cough Lunarian medicine," I point out. She would be selling medicine from Eirin, who is probably behind most of the things we would already have at camp.
"Lunarian medicine from people who have been on Earth way longer than we or anybody else at Command have. I'd give them pretty good odds on fixing the problem," Ringo counters. "Plus, it'd set us up a meeting with Reisen, which probably needs to happen anyway."
Urgh. Ringo has a point. Two points actually. I don't really have much to counter with on either of them. Oh wait, I know. "I don't cough think Kanako would want you bringing Reisen down here."
"Hmm, point," Yes! I finally got one. Not that Ringo wasn't listening to me, it just felt like she was maneuvering around all of my weak arguments really easily. It'd be easy to blame the sickness, but I don't think I'd be doing any better when healthy honestly. "Might be better to ask for forgiveness instead of permission in this case though. Hmm..."
Ringo's considering everything. Maybe I should try pushing her in one direction or another. She'll probably listen.
[ ] We can solve this by ourselves. We only need medicine from camp. [ ] Asking around the plant might work. Plus it means no travel time. [ ] I guess Ringo has a point about going to Reisen about this. - [ ] But bringing her back to the plant might be overstepping a bit. - [ ] And having her here lets her examine me while getting the best idea about what's going on.
[ ] Leaving the others alone doesn't sound like a good idea. I need to force myself to get up and go too. [ ] Pushing myself might make it worse. As much as I don't like wasting time. I'll sleep for a bit longer.
That's interesting. Didn't expect the vote to go this way. I also didn't think it was the mystery box option, but I guess vague voting options will do that. The vote is of questionable significance anyway. It's only a dream after all.
[x] Asking around the plant might work. Plus it means no travel time. [x] Pushing myself might make it worse. As much as I don't like wasting time. I'll sleep for a bit longer.
Though it could be a false alarm, I'm pretty sure this is what we got for kissing spiderbutt. Charming. Anyways, after our past experiences I feel like getting involved with Eientei is a bad idea till this all blows over.
[x] Asking around the plant might work. Plus it means no travel time. [x] Pushing myself might make it worse. As much as I don't like wasting time. I'll sleep for a bit longer.
I hope Yamame don't go into self-loathing if she finds out we got sick after kissing her. given her backstory she she might chastise herself for this, even if this was unrelated. But on the bright side, manipulation of illness includes making illnesses weaker, so that could help
[x] I guess Ringo has a point about going to Reisen about this. - [x] And having her here lets her examine me while getting the best idea about what's going on. [x] Pushing myself might make it worse. As much as I don't like wasting time. I'll sleep for a bit longer.
We can trust Reisen. I think. It's her boss we need to worry about.
As long as she doesn't have some kind of tracking spell or truth serum effect on her...
> I also didn't think it was the mystery box option, but I guess vague voting options will do that.
Did I get the others right, though? I'd honestly be surprised if I did; I pulled that list of guesses out of thin air in about five seconds.
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[X] Asking around the plant might work. Plus it means no travel time. [X] Pushing myself might make it worse. As much as I don't like wasting time. I'll sleep for a bit longer.
I'm not exactly sure if handling Reisen right at this moment is the best idea. Even if Reisen herself is trustworthy (which I'm leaning toward being the case, given that Eirin didn't storm the camp after we told Reisen where it was), who knows how open she'd be to dropping her actual job and being hauled away to help me out. Even if she was willing to do it, there's no guarantee she'd be able to keep it inconspicuous. If the wrong people saw us and word got back to Eientei somehow... Yeah, even if it's a big what if, I still don't want to deal with it right now. There are just too many unknowns for my sick and tired brain to go through.
"It's ahem probably something from down here," I reason while choking down a cough. "I was fine the entire time we were above ground, and am just now suddenly feeling bad. Asking people down here about common illnesses from the underground makes the most sense." I reason. It's partially just to get Ringo off the Reisen idea, but it does seem like a good idea in its own right.
"And I guess it is the fastest option too," Ringo agrees thoughtfully, mostly talking to herself before returning her focus to me. "Don't think they're gonna have doctors down here though. Onis don't seem like the type to need them. Though there are other youkai, so who knows. I'll have to ask."
"Coughcough," Ow. That one got out on its own. Not sure if it's better to try and hold them in or let them go. Either way seems to hurt. "I guess we'll have to see how it works out," I shuffle over slightly so I can move to get out of bed and... Woah. Ugh. Really don't want to get up. Head hurts. Feel bad. It's not as bad as yesterday, so I could force myself up if I really needed to, but...
"Hold on, hold on. Don't move," Ringo's already up and has a hold on my shoulder before I can will myself to get anywhere. She also takes my glass of water before I spill the rest of it. "I can handle this, you just try and rest a bit more. You look like you need it."
You're one to talk Ringo. Seriously, she still hasn't cleaned herself up after last night... Well, she has a point anyway, and I'm not going to argue against getting some more sleep. As much as I feel like I should be up and trying to help with things, at this point I might just end up making it worse for myself. Wasting time sounds like a terrible idea, but yeeeeah. Ending up more sick than I am right now is not something that I ever want to do. If rest will help, then I'll rest for now. "Hmkay," I mumble as I slide back under the covers.
On the bright side, with Ringo not under here with me I can stretch out a little bit. This bed wasn't really made for two people, so having it to myself is a bit more comfortable. I do have to admit to missing how warm Ringo was though. It was a little too warm just due to the heat from the rest of the plant, but in a weirdly comforting way, you know? Maybe when this whole thing is over we could make this more of a habit. It'd be breaking the rules but...
Err, actually, there are some implications to that idea aren't there? Right, sleeping and getting sick doesn't change what happened yesterday. Even if she's acting normal, Ringo still said that she likes me, and is waiting for me to respond to that. Sleeping next to her might confuse the issue. For me or for her or for both of us.
Another fit of coughing hits me, forcing me to stop thinking too hard about much of anything. This is awful, and I really don't like the concerned looks that Ringo's giving me. Even if I have no idea if I'm going to be fine or not, her worrying about me is only going to make it worse. "You sure you're going to be okay?" She asks me in a surprisingly gentle tone. That's not a voice that I'm used to hearing from her.
Ringo, you're supposed to be acting normal. Not being all nice and sweet and making me have to think about this stuff while I'm sick. "Mhm," I make a soft noise of confirmation while pulling the sheets up far enough that only my eyes and the top of my head is visible.
Ringo stares at me for a little bit longer, still showing that uncomfortable worried face. Eventually she realizes I'm not going to say anything else, and snaps back to normal. "Alright, I'll get on that then, so just take it easy," She assures me. I just nod at that, and she quickly heads out the door.
Ugh. On the surface level, things are okay between us, but it's still a little weird when I really think about it. Well, I hope she can at least wait for a bit longer. I'm not feeling up to all that self examination right now. Really just wanna go back to sleep so I don't hurt so much...
Mmf. I grab the extra pillow that I brought along and try and sandwich my head between it and the one that came with the bed. Go away noises. Let me sleep longer. 'm tired still...
Uuuuuurgh, I don't have enough pillow to cover up my entire head plus my ears. Noises won't go away. mmmmmnf...
Fiiiiine. "C-cough cough cough," Ow ow ow. Did my throat get worse? "Come in," I struggle out after I can breathe properly again. Ugh. It's too early for this. No, I don't know what time it is, but it's still to early for this.
The door makes a few click noises before it opens up. Okay, I guess Ringo locked it on the way out. If you had the key though, did you really need to knock and wake me up? You were the one who told me to get some rest Ringo! Ugh, no stop. I'm being grumpy because I just got up and still feel crappy. She's just checking on me or something. I'm fine(ish), can I go back to bed now?
"Hey," Oh wait, that's not Ringo. "What'd you do to your door?" Chiyo asks, sounding not at all concerned about the answer. "Or the desk?" She adds after a slight pause.
I lower the pillow off my face so I can breathe properly. Well, mostly properly. My nose is still a tiny bit congested. "Umm," How to explain this... Unlike the rest of the rabbits, Chiyo doesn't know anything about what happened yesterday, and doesn't have powers that would let her figure it out. Keeping her out of it would be pretty easy, if it weren't for the physical evidence. "Well um. R-ringo cough cough COUGH."
"Okay okay, never mind." Chiyo interrupts my failing to answer the question. I'd be thankful to my coughs for getting me out of that line of inquiry if they weren't so unpleasant. "Take it easy," I'm not looking up at her, but I can hear her moving a little closer. She sits down in the chair that Ringo was in earlier. "Wasn't expecting it to be this bad. I guess it'd have to be if I'm the one that's supposed to be looking after you instead of the other way around."
I turn myself over enough that I can look at Chiyo properly. "Looking after me?" Wait no, that's obvious. I just asked before I could think about it. Stupid sluggish waking up. Stupid sickness.
"It was on a note in my room when I got up, along with the key," Didn't Ringo say Chiyo's door was locked earlier? I guess she still could have slipped a note and the key to our room under her door though. Actually, she could have just woke Chiyo up instead, right? "Said you were sick and might need someone to look after you while Ringo and Sumi went out," Chiyo continues. "Never seen anyone get sick like this before."
Yeah, that's probably the case for a lot of rabbits. People just don't get mundanely sick back there. Hey, I'm a weirdo in yet another way! I cough a couple more times. Once that calms down, I can talk again. "It's really awful. Wouldn't recommend it to anyone," I struggle out. My throat is really dry and talking is tough. "Um, water?" I ask hopefully.
"Hm," Chiyo makes a noise of acknowledgement reaches back and hands me the glass of water from before. So Ringo just left that there I guess. Well, this glass is still half empty, it's definitely warmed up from the room by now, and it still kind of hurts to swallow anything, but it's still better than nothing. I drink the rest of it in one (slightly painful) gulp. Maybe I'll be able to talk a little more easily now. Hopefully?
"Did the note say anything about where they were going?" They're out there looking for my benefit, but I have no idea how long I've been asleep or what's happened in the mean time.
"Said they were getting a doctor, but that's it," Chiyo answers with a shrug, spinning around slowly in the desk chair. "Dunno, nobody told me anything."
"To be fair, you were asleep," I think it's still irresponsibly lenient of Ringo to not wake Chiyo up, but I guess that's what happened.
"Nah, I wasn't, but it was my fault for not answering when Ringo knocked, so whatever," Chiyo shrugs again and comes to a stop. Good, I don't want her getting dizzy or anything. "I got woken up annoyingly early this morning when Yuzuki left. I just haven't felt like getting out of bed. Was thinking about stuff. You know how it is."
Sitting in bed just thinking about stuff? Not so much any more. Maybe a long time ago, but we've just been so busy lately. "Not really..." Wait, that seems a little bit off. At least in my opinion, Chiyo isn't lazy. She doesn't really like busy work, and definitely likes sleeping, yeah, but she doesn't use that to shirk responsibilities. If she's told to do something, she'll do it as best she can. That's what I've seen from her in the time that I've known her. Why is this morning different? She knew we'd have to get up and get to work, but she decided not to and instead stayed in bed thinking. That's... I think there's something more to it. "Do you want to talk about it?"
"Eh well... Yeah, kinda," Chiyo admits somewhat hesitantly. "It's kinda hard to explain though so..."
I thought so. Chiyo isn't as prone to talking as the other rabbits, so sometimes we have to guess at what she's thinking or what she wants. It's a balancing act though. You also sometimes have to just let her talk at her own pace. Especially when her powers are messing with her. I'm not the best at it, that's probably Ringo, but I think Chiyo and I are pretty comfortable around each other regardless. Either way, I sit up slightly, since I'm not planning on going back to sleep right now, and wait for Chiyo to continue.
"I've been thinking about Ringo's idea. The one to um, stay here," Chiyo eventually continues even without me prompting her, although she doesn't sound too happy about it.
Oh yeah. that's another thing from yesterday that kind of got shoved out of the way by the stuff that came after it. I haven't really put a lot of thought into it. Whether that's because I was busy or because I was actively avoiding thinking about it too much, I'm not really sure. "R-right," That's all I can really think to say. She's thankfully not asking me for my opinion on it, so that should be good enough.
"I still don't know how I feel about it," Chiyo reaches up and uses two fingers to knead at one of her ears. That's something I've seen her do occasionally, but never when she's in a good mood. Maybe it's a nervous habit. I'm not exactly one to judge for other people having tells.
"Same here actually," I admit. The others were all pretty clear in their answers, so maybe Chiyo's just feeling like the odd one out. She definitely isn't though. "We don't need-cough-we don't need to worry right now though. We have time to think about it still."
"Some of us more than others," Chiyo mutters to the side, still working on her ear.
Oh come on. We have five days still. Maybe six depending on if you count the day of the full moon or not. There's no way that Chiyo's personal time would be so messed up that she wouldn't have a chance to think this over. "Even you still have plenty of time Chiyo."
"I know," Chiyo sighs again. "Just in a weird mood and I can't stop thinking about it."
Even with her lack of enthusiasm toward the subject, this is probably something worth pursuing. Chiyo is going out of her way to talk about her problems, which is pretty unusal for her. This must really be bothering her. "I'm listening, go ahead whenever you're ready."
Chiyo nods and lets go of her ear, leaving it to bob back and forth a couple of times before coming to a stop. "If we stay here, we're deserting the Moon and Command and everything. Some people here are okay with that, but I don't know if I'd be satisfied with it," She speaks softly and a little slowly, but doesn't sound unsure about anything she's saying. Chiyo doesn't talk much, but that doesn't mean she's bad at it when she does. Unlike me. "Command isn't nice, but I don't hate them. To me it's mostly understandable why they do the things they do. Other rabbits don't agree with me on that. They don't have the same kind of loyalty to the place they've lived for their entire lives. I think that's weird. Maybe I'm the one that's weird though."
"So you want to go back then?" I surmise.
"I'm not sure," Right, I guess it can't be that simple. If it was, we wouldn't be having this conversation. "Even though I say I'm loyal, I'm not blind either. Command doesn't care about us, individually or as a unit. We're the weird rabbits, none of us are valuable to them. We're disposable if we need to be. Would that change if we save the capital from whatever's happening? Maybe. Would we be better off coming back here afterward? Dunno. Maybe some of us. Probably not me though."
"I'm... Hm," Chiyo starts to say something, but then thinks better of it. She considers her words for a moment before going on. "I had this dream last night. I don't remember a lot of it, but it was just like a bunch of negative stuff and me feeling sorry for myself. Ordinarily I'd just brush it off as normal, but it kinda got me thinking that I'm..." She pauses again, looking a bit hesitant to continue. "Kinda useless in a lot of ways."
What? "Chi!" No, don't say that!
"And it bothers me," Chiyo continues, ignoring me voicing my concern. "I can't be independent with this dumb power stuff always being an issue. Somebody is always going to have to take care of me. No matter how much I try to get a handle on it, I'll eventually lose track of time. Like the one time that I went off on my own before. I messed up, and suddenly found myself alone, lost, and confused, with a hermit drilling me for info."
"But that's..." I don't know what to say. Chiyo and I both know that we can't just get over our powers, even if we've both tried before. We just have to live with them. If Chiyo's really bothered about it, what can I say to that without sounding like a hypocrite?
"So when I decide, I'm not really deciding for myself. I'm deciding which of my friends I want to stay with while forcing them to take care of me, and which ones I'm okay with never seeing again," She shakes her head slightly before leaning forward slightly and resting it in her hands. "I don't like any of that. That's the problem."
When she says it like that, I'm not really okay with it either. It's actually entirely possible that I might never be able to see some of the others again in a few days time. I feel my stomach drop slightly at the realization. That's... But what if... Hm. I can't really think of a solution either.
Chiyo doesn't sound sold either way. Her feelings are mixed and a little bit contradictory on if she's okay with going back to our old life. Even if it wasn't the most fun or pleasant thing, it was stable, and kept all five of us together. That's not the case down here. Aside from Chiyo herself, it seems like all of us have things going on that we don't involve the other rabbits in. Who's to say that wouldn't get worse over time if we moved down here permanently?
Adding to that, even if we did desert and move down here permanently, Chiyo still feels guilty about needing us to take care of her. I've never really thought of it as a burden or anything, but of course Chiyo would think of it that way. From what I heard, she was a bit of a loner before her powers appeared. It's not that surprising to expect that suddenly having to change from being alone to needing other people to support you would give her a bit of trouble mentally. Even if I personally think getting her in the unit and talking to people helped her out a lot.
Sumi and Ringo both seem pretty set on moving down here and enjoying a new life away from the baggage they still have from the Moon. Yuzuki seemed pretty adamant that doing so would be improper, so it'd be hard to get her to go along with it. Meanwhile, Chiyo and I are still unsure. Even if we both picked an answer right now, we'd still have to convince one or more of the others to go along with us in order to avoid losing any of our friends.
With all of this in mind, of course Chiyo is worried. Heck, how was I NOT worried?! I definitely am now, but showing it (Mental note: make sure my face is still calm... Yeah I think I'm okay) doesn't help. Chiyo is talking to me about it because she's genuinely concerned. I need to be reassuring here, or at the very least supportive.
[ ] Assure Chiyo that taking care of her is no problem. Everyone in the unit feels that way. We'll support her no matter what. [ ] Encourage Chiyo to get involved more with things going on on Earth. Maybe if she made other friends then she wouldn't have to rely on the unit all the time. [ ] Remind Chiyo that even if she goes back to the Moon, there are plenty of other rabbits she could get to know. Plus, she could always talk to the rabbits on Earth over comms once they're back up. If she wants to go back to the Moon, she should do so. [ ] Chiyo should figure out what she wants to do for herself. Just hug her... Err, I'm not contagious, am I? [ ] Suggest Chiyo talks to the others about how she feels as well. It's not good for her to keep quiet all the time when she's so unsure about this.
Yeesh. Chiyo was being difficult to write, and I'm still not sure I'm completely satisfied. Also there was another dream in here originally that I ended up scrapping because it wasn't helping anything.
[x] Assure Chiyo that taking care of her is no problem. Everyone in the unit feels that way. We'll support her no matter what. [x] Suggest Chiyo talks to the others about how she feels as well. It's not good for her to keep quiet all the time when she's so unsure about this.
[X] Assure Chiyo that taking care of her is no problem. Everyone in the unit feels that way. We'll support her no matter what. [X] Chiyo should figure out what she wants to do for herself. Just hug her... Err, I'm not contagious, am I?
[X] Assure Chiyo that taking care of her is no problem. Everyone in the unit feels that way. We'll support her no matter what. [X] Chiyo should figure out what she wants to do for herself. Just hug her... Err, I'm not contagious, am I?
[x] Assure Chiyo that taking care of her is no problem. Everyone in the unit feels that way. We'll support her no matter what. [x] Suggest Chiyo talks to the others about how she feels as well. It's not good for her to keep quiet all the time when she's so unsure about this.
[X] Assure Chiyo that taking care of her is no problem. Everyone in the unit feels that way. We'll support her no matter what. [X] Chiyo should figure out what she wants to do for herself. Just hug her... Err, I'm not contagious, am I?
[X] Assure Chiyo that taking care of her is no problem. Everyone in the unit feels that way. We'll support her no matter what. [X] Chiyo should figure out what she wants to do for herself. Just hug her... Err, I'm not contagious, am I?
This is pretty tough. Honestly I don't think I would have an answer even if you have me a day to think about it like Chiyo has had. Technically, yeah, I did have a day to think it over, but it was a very busy day to be fair. When you remind me of the problem then only give me a few minutes to try and think of a reassuring answer, what exactly would you expect?
I don't think I can give Chiyo something definite here. She and I both have justifiably mixed feelings about both the Moon and Geneokyo (although the latter is more due to unfamiliarity as far as I've been able to tell). We're in the same boat here, so I both understand and don't understand why Chiyo would talk to me about this first. Although come to think of it, that may just be due to convenience. I just happen to be available to talk right now. Yeah, that makes the most sense.
Also come to think of it, when did this go from Chiyo taking care of me while sick to me helping her through her problem? I don't exactly mind it, but it is a little bit more difficult for my barely awake, still pretty sick brain. In fact I can't think of much to say or do except...
... Well, that might work anyway.
"Hey Chiyo?" My voice is a little bit softer than I meant it to be, but I think I feel another cough coming on. "Could ahem could you come here?" Yup, there it is. A bit less terrible than I expected, so that's nice.
"What?" I'm pretty sure she heard me still, but maybe she doesn't get the point of the idea.
"Come here," I repeat, patting my hand twice on the bed. It doesn't really matter if she actually sits with me or just comes over here. Either way works.
While she's a little bit slow to comply, Chiyo eventually comes to a stop standing next to my bed. Hmm, yeah, I figured her height would set us up like this. With me sitting and her standing, it actually puts us at a pretty similar height. Convenient, and entirely what I was planning on. Okay, deep breath. Kinda want to try and keep my cough even and under control. I want to talk seriously here, interrupting that with random hacking and the inability to breathe will just ruin it. I'm already not the best at talking, you know?
Actually, it's a little late to think about given I'm already committed to the plan, but am I contagious? I know that's a thing that can happen with illnesses, but I don't know which ones would or wouldn't be.
Oh whatever. Chiyo's worried and maybe kind of sad. I know what I would want if I were in her situation (which I often am), although I may be too embarrassed or hesitant to ask for it. I turn my body sideways and slide my arms over Chiyo's shoulders. She squirms in surprise at being pulled into a hug suddenly, but of course doesn't try to get out. Instead she just kind of stands there rigidly, apparently not sure what exactly she's supposed to do with her arms. That's fine. I may like it if she reciprocated, but this is more for her than for me.
"Um h-hey," Chiyo stammers out.
Err, wait, she sounds uncomfortable. Did I read the situation wrong? Should I let go? "W-what?"
After another short pause, Chiyo presses her face into my shoulder a bit more, then she stays still. That's a good thing, right? She's not trying to get away from me or anything, so I think we're okay. "... mm," She finally makes a small noise. It's kind of like a little whine. Like someone catching their breath right before they start crying.
We both stay quiet for a little bit. She's not actually crying, I'd be able to feel it if she was, but I think it's pretty clear that she needed someone to hug her like this. Okay, it's on me to stay something, isn't it? Hope it all comes out right... "Chi, please don't think that helping you helping you out is a problem for us. That's never even crossed my mind, and I know the others are all the same way. All four of us want to do it. We want to be around you and everything, okay? You're a part of the unit, but more importantly you're our friend."
Chiyo doesn't respond. At least not with words. She does reach up and limply put her arms around my waist. The way I'm twisted is actually a little bit awkward for hugging, but I didn't really think about this ahead of time. Urk, I also feel some more coughs coming on. No thank you. I can struggle through them for a little bit I think. Maybe just suppress it into another throat clear.
"C-aHEM!! This staying or going back thing is the biggest decision that I've ever had to make, and I bet the others are having the same kind of problems with it. It's difficult, and I'm not sure what my answer to it is, but I think that's okay for right now. We still have some time to think about it, decide if we want to talk it over with anyone, then come to a conclusion for ourselves. Even if we don't all end up in the same place by the end of things, it's not like we won't still be friends." "Comms will let us keep in touch, and you know we'll end up using it a lot. You don't honestly think Yuzuki or I would be able to leave you alone forever, do you?" Chiyo moves her head back and forth a little bit. If she weren't so pressed up against me, I could describe it as shaking, but there just isn't enough motion for that.
"So don't cough cough," Dang it. I was doing so well too. "Don't worry about it," I continue on as if I was never interrupted. "Or at least only worry about deciding what you really want to do for yourself. Don't worry about the stuff after that. Just pick whatever you decide you want to do, and the rest will all work out okay."
"... Making a speech, huh? You're pretty out of character," Chiyo's voice is a little bit softer than normal. I think she's forcing herself to sound like she usually does.
"Cough Look who's talking," I joke lightly, although she isn't wrong. Hm, actually, talking like I'm confident about things working out has at the very least made me feel a little better. Yes, it still feels like a lot of bad stuff is looming ahead, but if I just follow the advice I just gave Chiyo, maybe it'll work out.
"Point," Chiyo releases me and shuffles back over to the chair. When she sits back down, she looks a little sheepish, but I'd like to think a little less apprehensive than before as well. That might just be wishful thinking on my part though. All I know is that I tried my best to reassure her, we'll help her with whatever she decides to do next.
Chiyo and I move on to less intense topics of conversation. It gives us both a chance to fall back into usual behavior, although I'm still not one hundred percent normal (still sick!). Chiyo is also a little thrown off just due to suddenly showing weakness in an unusual way. We're both just working through things at the moment. I don't mind that, but truthfully, I also wouldn't mind a chance to go back to sleep either. The longer I stay awake, the more I become aware of just how bad being sick is. My throat and head both hurt. I'm tired. I can't stop coughing. The inside of my head feels way hotter than the rest of me. Blugh.
Anyway, it's definitely not fun. It puts a bit of a damper on the conversation too, when I have to periodically pause to cough or catch my breath while talking. The whole thing is strange. I always knew being sick was a thing for the people from earth, but actually experiencing this really gives me some appreciation for how bad they have it down here. Maybe this is why Reisen distributes and sells medicine as a job. I wouldn't want anyone to stay sick if I could help them, maybe she's the same.
As we're talking, Chiyo requests some information about what happened last night, so I give her some brief descriptions of some of the stuff I saw around the city. Of course, I'm not really sure how to bring up who I saw them with, or the resulting reaction from Ringo, but hey, she didn't ask about that. At least not specifically. I don't know what I would say if she did, but whatever. I'm embarrassed. Still. Or again. Moving on now.
Yuzuki comes back to the room before Ringo and Sumi do. I thought the point of searching around the plant was so they wouldn't be gone for long, so it's a little bit surprising that they're not back yet. Not quite as surprising as the way Yuzuki bursts into the room though. "Seiran what's wrong?!" Ordinarily Yuzuki would make sure to close the door after her whenever she entered a room, but this time it doesn't even seem to pass through her mind. Instead she races over next to my bed, leaning over to get a good look at me.
"Uh, um," I'm still a little shocked at how sudden it was. Yuzuki didn't even knock before she charged in here. Good thing I wasn't drinking at that exact moment. I was about to though, and I think... Yup, I spilled a little water on myself. Ugh.
"Sick," Chiyo answers for me as she gets up to close the door. "Couldn't you already tell?"
"Wait, that's what this is? I haven't ever-hmm," Yuzuki considers me closely, looking me over some more. "I had kind of thought I noticed something off this morning... I was a bit distracted by the rest of your situation though."
The rest of my... Oh, right. Ahem, maybe I should dry off that bit of water now. Yup, I have no idea what you're talking about Yuzuki. No rule breaking occurred last night, none at all! I'm so innocent I don't even need to look at you right now.
"Ringo and Sumi are out looking for medicine stuff," I'm glad that Chiyo is willing to explain things for me. I'm currently a little busy trying to be inconspicuous, although it probably isn't working. "We're just waiting for them to get back now."
Yuzuki scowls. Even though she's looking at me I know it isn't directed at me. "Oh dear, this is my fault. If I had known what was happening I could have stopped by camp and gotten medicine on the way back," Oh good, now she's preoccupied with her own thoughts and is moving on from the embarrassing thing. And would you look at that, just in time for me to be done cleaning up that bit of water.
"Probably wouldn't have worked," Chiyo says bluntly.
She and I work together to get Yuzuki up to speed on the whole plan. It doesn't take that long, especially after Yuzuki notices the note Ringo left for Chiyo, which again leaves us with little else to do other than wait. In the mean time, I try to eat something of a breakfast by forcing down a few of my dehydrated peaches. They aren't as tasty while sick. Most food is probably like that though. Man, eating something good like this almost seems like a waste right now, but I don't have much else in the way of options. Even if it doesn't taste good and I really don't feel hungry, I know that I have to eat something.
"Ah, they're back," Yuzuki tells Chiyo and I out of nowhere a short while later. Honestly, I'm feeling a little worse as time goes on, so I'm glad we don't have to wait that much longer.
"You mean they'll be back here in what, ten minutes?" Chiyo corrects her.
Yuzuki rolls her eyes. "I'm not that well adapted to the area yet. They'll be here in less than a minute, given the rate they're going," Right, Yuzuki still has to spend some time before her powers expand to see everything in the plant itself. Her range is probably pretty limited when she's had less than a day to get used to things.
Ringo actually opens up the door to our room about four minutes later, but Yuzuki explains the inaccuracy by saying that apparently her and Sumi took a detour into the kitchen area for some reason or another. "Yo," Ringo says evenly, stepping into the room and taking up the chair by the desk she broke. I note that Sumi doesn't come in with her, which might be for the best. Five people in this room might make it feel a little bit cramped. "Back."
"What'd you get?" Chiyo asks immediately. Glad she's worried about my well being to the point of being blunt. Actually, she's normally blunt. I'd like to think there's a decent amount of concern there still though.
Ringo lets out a deep breath. "Hate to say it," She begins, holding up her arms loosely. "But it wasn't exactly the smoothest operation. I mean, we have something of a solution now, but it's not complete, and it took more time than we would have liked."
"Was there some kind of problem?" Yuzuki prompts, before turning her head slightly toward one of the walls. "And also, what's Sumi doing with that root thing?" Wait, what?
"I'll get to that," Ringo doesn't really answer before launching into an explanation. "So problem number one was that we didn't know where to go. That one was easy when we asked around. Turns out oni don't get sick too much, so our options were pretty limited. There was a clinic for youkai who get sick, though it doesn't seem to get a lot of use. Still open though, so we had to get directions and head aaaaaaaall the way out to the city again. Found the place we were looking for without getting lost, but it still took a chunk of time."
I had kind of figured that might be an issue. The plant as a whole would probably have a similar situation as us rabbits do. First aid supplies are around, but that's about it. There's no real capability for long term care of anything unless you look elsewhere.
"Then we looked kinda dumb because you weren't with us," Ringo laughs wryly. Ergh, yeah, I guess me being there probably would have helped in finding out what's wrong with me. "Turns out it's way easier to diagnose people when they're actually there. I figured dragging you out to the city was a bad idea, so we just kinda described your symptoms and hoped for the best. Ended up pretty sure you don't actually have black lung or histoplasmosis or leptospirosis or any of the mold related diseases the guy was talking about by the way, so that's good at least."
"Err and those are?" I ask, not liking the sound of those illnesses at all.
"Pretty nasty sounding stuff," Ringo confirms. Part of me wants her to go into detail and part of me really doesn't. "Glad we could count those out of the equation. Anyway, the doc decided you probably just had some kind of flu. Whatever that is. Sounds like it's a common disease, so I would have thought we were immunized for it. Apparently there's some special kind that occasionally shows up down here."
"How would Seiran have caught that though?" Yuzuki asks the question before I can.
"It's commonly carried by certain kinds of youkai," I think I catch some reluctance to answer the question on Ringo's face, but she masks it quickly. Wait, what certain kinds of youkai? "Least that's what we were told. Maybe Seiran bumped into somebody who had it."
"Only Seiran?" Chiyo doesn't sound like she's buying it.
"We weren't right next to each other one-hundred percent of the time," I'm actually rather surprised at how easily Ringo's lying to everyone. Well, I guess it's technically true, but there's so much omission there that it still feels like lying. "Could've happened. Right Seiran?"
Youkai that I ran into that Ringo and Sumi didn't? Well there should be a ton of those. All the people in the tea shop, the streets, the festival... Wait, what's that look Ringo's giving me with her eyes. It's like a look she's giving someone who's not getting the hint and... Oh. R-right. Um. Hm.
"Anyway," Ringo quickly continues while unpleasant thoughts are still whirling around in my head. "Turns out that medicine costs money. You don't just get whatever you need for free for being in the military. Bit of a problem there. Had to come aaaaaaaall the way back here and beg for money from people around here," Ringo lets out a light groan, leaning back in her chair. "Basically I owe Rikako help with some errand or something later on, but whatever. We got some stuff that'll probably work."
"And that's the root thing that Sumi just boiled?" Yuzuki asks about something that we can't actually see again.
"Yup," Ringo confirms casually. "Don't remember the name he gave us, but it's some local remedy for stuff like this. Boil it up, drink the water, should help with the symptoms for a little while. Keep drinking it periodically for a while and you'll get better eventually."
"And we should have enough here that you can do just that," Sumi breaks into the room suddenly, carrying a large mug that says 'Wish You Were (Cucumber Flavored) Beer' on it that she probably just randomly grabbed from the kitchen. "Specialty order paid for by the lady across the room. Some shit they found growing around here and decided to stick in a pot with some water for a while," She declares theatrically, handing me the mug. "Enjoy."
It smells... Like wet dirt mixed with some kind of spice. Not an at all appetizing one either. It's a dull reddish brown colored water. Still hot enough that I think it'd hurt on the way down my throat, although most things are probably like that regardless of temperature. "Err, I just have to drink this and I'll be cured?"
"Nah, there's actually a ton more. I used a pretty big pot," Sumi answers with a shrug. "Basically you should choke that stuff down whenever you start feeling shitty again. Keep doing it until you're better. Easy. The rest of it's already bottled up in the kitchen for later too."
Looking down into the dirty looking water, I steel myself. Yeah, it smells bad, and looks gross, but if it makes me better... Ugh, why couldn't this have been a pill? I bring the mug up and sip lightly-BLEUGH. Ew. Gross. Nasty. It's like some kind of mixture of bitterness and spiciness blended together in murky water. Disgusting.
Ew ew ew ew ew...
Once I've finished drinking the entire mug (which I'm now convinced is entirely too large), I hold it away from myself like it's going to keep making me taste horrible stuff. "Done," I groan out.
"Woah, hardcore," Sumi takes the mug from my hand. "You sure can chug."
"Did it work?" Ringo asks next.
"Um, how would I...?" Wait, my throat already feels a little less sore. My head does a little too. Woah. This actually works! Well, kinda. I can still feel shades of the symptoms I had before, but I'm definitely at least a bit better. "Y-yeah," I confirm, seeing Ringo fist pump in celebration and let out a quite 'nice'.
"So yeah, the rest of it is bottled up already for you. You gonna need some more rest or should we break out the beer helmet so you can take it along with you while we get down to business?" Sumi asks.
Err, let me think about that. I feel a little better now. Probably well enough that I could get up and get back to work. We still have to take care of that portal thing that Kanako told us to do today. I wouldn't exactly be at my best for it though, who knows if that would be a problem. A part of me really does still want to go back to sleep. It'd be good for me to get some more rest, and the other rabbits can probably handle today's job on their own, right? Actually, there are a couple of other options if I stayed underground, aren't there?
[ ] We're on a deadline that's not going to wait for me to feel better. Let's get back to work. - [ ] We'll go grab the portal and bring it back here - [ ] We'll take the scientist person to the bunker so they can look at the portal [ ] A bit more rest would probably help me get better faster. Maybe it'll mean having to drink less medicine stuff too. [ ] I'll stay around here - [ ] Maybe Yamame would know how I got sick... - [ ] Ringo said she owed Rikako a favor, right? I could probably take care of that.
I hate it when I think I'm going to get an update done in a reasonable amount of time and then it is suddenly 1AM on a work night. Such is life I suppose.
[X] A bit more rest would probably help me get better faster. Maybe it'll mean having to drink less medicine stuff too.
As much as I'd love to see more of spiderbutt, I don't really like the "meta-ness" of "I'm sick, let's go out way past the city to talk to the disease spider about how that might have happened". And yeah, I know she doesn't know that Yamame controls diseases, but WE do. That's what makes it feel so meta to me.
[X] A bit more rest would probably help me get better faster. Maybe it'll mean having to drink less medicine stuff too.
You know, this seems a little strange. I might be feeling a bit better now, and while it's nice, that isn't really motivating me to get up and get going. If anything, remembering what it's like to not feel really crappy is encouraging me to try and make that stay permanent. What's the best way that I can think of to do that? It's definitely not flying around Gensokyo. Even if we wouldn't be going that far, it'd be better for me to get some more rest.
"I'll stay here," I'm immediately rewarded for my decision when I slump back into my bed. Aaaaah. Poofy. Anyway, it should be fine if I stay behind on this one little errand. There are four other rabbits in this unit, and they are definitely all competent. To some degree anyway. No, I don't need that quantifying thought. It's rude to them. All of my friends are competent, and I know that. Especially when they get serious about a mission. They can take care of this without me. Full stop. There, much better.
Ringo looks concerned for a moment, but quickly shrugs it off. "Alright, it's your call. Do you need anyone to stay around for you though?" She asks.
Hm, I wasn't really thinking it, but that's a fair question. Earlier she (kind of) had Chiyo stick around to talk to me and keep me company, but I don't know if it was really necessary. If I hadn't been woken up, by the knocking I probably would have slept through the whole morning and woken up when Ringo came back. If it's something like that again, I'd rather have Chiyo (or whoever) free to be productive instead of stuck with me. "No, the medicine should help me enough that I can get up if I need water or something."
"You sure? because somebody-"
"Hey, you heard the lady, let her sleep, we've got shit to do!" Sumi interrupts Ringo by grabbing her around the waist and practically throwing toward the door. Sheesh! Do you have to... Right, it's those two. At least Ringo lands semi-gracefully and doesn't look too annoyed. Personally, I'm okay with her not worrying about me too much. I'm sick yeah, but I'm already feeling better thanks to her and Sumi. I'll be fine.
"Oh come on, no more rough housing," Yuzuki cautions them as she moves to leave the room as well. "We don't need to break Ringo's door even more. We should get going, but we don't need to rush. In fact, it might be a good idea to take some time and make a list of extra things we need to grab from camp before we leave."
"And Ringo could clean herself up so she doesn't look like a slob," Chiyo adds. Hey, I wasn't planning on saying anything but she does have a point. Ringo's been so preoccupied since I woke her that she hasn't taken any time to clean herself up.
"Or at least any more than normal, am I right?! Heyyo!" Sumi laughs as her and Chiyo give each other a high five.
"Alright, alright, get going," Ringo swings the door to the room open and practically pushes the rest of the rabbits out the door. She doesn't follow along with the rest of them, instead taking a moment to drop something on the unbroken desk. "I'll leave one of the keys here and lock up when we go, alright?" She looks back at me, and I nod along. Sounds reasonable enough. I probably won't need to leave unless I need some more medicine though. "We'll try and hurry it up, alright? We can grab what we need and come right back."
It's not like I had many plans aside from just resting anyway, but I still give Ringo another nod of agreement. Some kind of half baked idea had come to mind where I could have gone to ask Yamame about my illness, but would that really be worth it? Yamame knows a lot of stuff about the underground, and probably could identify my illness and where the source would be, but none of that really helps me get better. It might help in keeping the others from getting sick too, but that won't matter if they're going topside. It's a bit of knowledge that can wait until later. Maybe after a nap. Maybe even later after that. Whatever.
Ringo closes the door as she leaves, and I can hear it lock as well. Alright, now I have some time off to myself. There's an unusual thought... Hm, that's a little annoying. Ringo neglected to turn the lights off. Do I even feel like getting up to correct that? Bleh, I'm just gonna pull a blanket up over my face. That should be good enough. I'm tired and sick. I'll make it all work.
- It's cold, and dark, and lonely. All of those are familiar feelings, but they aren't right for where I just was, are they? Where was I before this? I know where I am now. This is the Moon. The capital. Home? Kind of. The thought doesn't feel right in my head, but it's correct. Factually, that is.
It's always a little bit cold up here at night. What else would you expect? Even though the temperature is kept more or less constant no matter what time of day it is, the lack of sun still plays tricks on your mind. Maybe that's just me though. Some rabbits seem to prefer the dawn or dusk cycles more than the midday or nighttime ones. Personal preference. I'm not afraid of the dark, but I still prefer the natural light of the sun to the artificial lighting we have available at night. No, I don't care that the cities lights are more pure.
Let me see here... With how dark it is right now, I would peg this as a few cycles past sundown. There's still quite a bit of time left in the day. If I flew up high enough, I could probably see the sun setting far on the horizon, but you typically don't want to do that. Gravity gets weaker very quickly when you're too high up, and the radiation isn't quite a shielded. I've caught one or two horror stories of rabbits who got chewed out over exposed too much, I'm not sure if that or the treatment was scarier, but I don't want to be involved with either. Best to not fly for now.
Speaking of other rabbits though, I don't see any. That's odd. Normally you wouldn't be able to walk anywhere in the capital without seeing at least a couple of them out and about. Well, maybe they might be missing from the back alleys or the older districts or something, but those aren't places that I would ever go. The only place that I would normally be so alone like this would be on the mare bases. The capital? No way.
And yet, that's the situation. Standing in the lunar capital for an unknown reason, clutching at my mallet nervously. Where am I? I recognize some of these buildings, but oddly enough not all of them. It's like someone took districts that I'm used to and smashed them together with ones that I'm not. Sometimes a building even seems to be abruptly cut off or conjoined with another one. I've never seen anything like this before. Haven't heard about it on comms either. How did I get here?
Of course, there's nobody here to answer my question. Well, maybe I should have a look around. My mental map isn't placing me anywhere in particular, so maybe I should just walk in a random direction until I get back somewhere normal.
Something is wrong.
Even as I go deeper and deeper into the capital, I can't recognize anything. Looking at street signs doesn't work. They seem to be written in some language I don't understand. One that hurts my eyes, or maybe my brain. The buildings get more and more chaotic too. They barely even seem to be structurally sound by this point. Who would have built anything like this? It's a mess. I hate it, but I don't know which way to go to get back to somewhere familiar.
No, this isn't working. Need to try something different. Maybe go somewhere higher up, get a better vantage point. Let me see... That should work. There's a high-rise building nearby, or at least most of one. It appears to have a stall of some kind jutting out of the middle floors, and I think there's restaurant even further up. I know that can't be right, but whatever. It's one of those nice ones with lots of windows, so if I can get inside and go up, then it should work for a lookout.
I head across the street toward my target location. No traffic, no reason to worry about looking both ways. That makes it easy I guess. Now let's see, where is the...
Wait, that's wrong too. This building doesn't have an entrance. How the-? There's just more windows on the ground floor. Is calling them mirrors even correct though? Now that I'm closer, I can't see through them. They're more like mirrors. The reflections show myself and the rest of the capital behind me, but it's too opaque for me to see inside. Why is it like this? How am I supposed to go in?
Maybe the entrance is around one of the sides. I start walking again, but my mind is distracted. There's something strange about these mirrors. Looking at them and comparing them to what they should be reflecting, I can see discrepancies. The view in the mirrors is even more chaotic and messed up than what I actually see by looking around. More buildings are crashed together even more violently. More destruction, more mess. This is wrong. Wrong.
I increase my pace, but that just makes it worse. I see parts of the capital reduced to rubble. Entire buildings collapsed into heaps. Shouldn't I have made it around the building by now? I can't break away from looking at the mirrors.
A few more panes go by, and now I start to see flames. The normal red colors of course, but mixed with an unusual violet, or maybe pink. The sight of it hurts my eyes just as much as it unsettles my thoughts. Who did this? Why is everything burning? Stop it. This is wrong. STOP IT.
My arms feel the resistance before my brain registers what I'm doing. There's a loud crashing sound as I break one of the mirrors with my mallet. Even though the shards of glass stay in place, the reflection changes. Everything goes back to normal. Ah, so that's what it was. Of course. I laugh slightly to myself, feeling pleased that I've figured out the fix.
Just smash it.
Crack! Smash! Shatter! Each mirror breaks easily with one swing. Yeah, it hurts my arms a little bit, but that doesn't matter. Everything can be fixed now that I know what to do! It's so simple!
But wait, there's more to this than the ground floor.
There were windows all the way up, weren't there?
Hm, my hammer can't reach that far...
Wait, I know just the thing!
My pulse increases as the familiar, unsuppressed feeling flows through me. My vision shifts and everything changes. I see things that weren't there before. Perfect. I tap at the barrier with my hammer and experimentally pull out a few bullets. Hm, I'm going to need a lot more than this, aren't I? Well, whatever. I have time, and this all needs to be fixed. Might as well get started.
I let go of the shots I'm holding in place.
BAM BAM BAM
Not this again. Why won't anyone just let me sleep? I mumble something incoherent in the general direction that I remember the door being. Go away. Sick.
Undeterred by my vague response, the annoyingly chipper sounding voice talks again. "Good afternoon. It is currently twelve twenty-five PM on Tuesday, September twenty-second. This is the time I have designated for a weekly cleaning of room four, floor one of the dormitories. If this time is not acceptable for you and your schedule, please let me know. If you are ready for your room to be cleaned, please confirm by opening the door."
Uuuugh. Okay, fine, you have my attention. I recognize Ruukoto's voice, but it takes me a moment to think of why I would be hearing it. Right, right. She's the maid/janitor here, so it makes sense that she would clean things. It sounds like she's supposed to be cleaning this room today. Don't know if she got the memo that we moved in here or not, but either way it doesn't seem like that's something she's going to let stop her.
"Good afternoon. It is currently twelve twenty-five PM on Tuesday, September twenty-second. This is the time I have designated for a weekly cleaning of room four, floor one of the dormitories. If this time is not acceptable for you and your schedule, please let me know. If you are ready for your room to be cleaned, please confirm by opening the door," She repeats her speech not only word for word, but tone for tone. Unlike last time though, she continues on. "If no response is given and the door remains locked, a default delay of one hour will be applied before I will return to confirm your preferred cleaning time. Thank you for your cooperation!"
Unfortunately, it looks like I have to get up and deal with her. Either that or I risk getting woken up again in an hour. Actually, what time did she say it was? Afternoon already? Sheesh, I slept through the entire morning. Granted, I have no idea when I went to sleep last night, or even when I woke up in the first place.
Ugh, it's too bright in here. Why did I sleep with the lights on? I sit up in my bed. Hm, I don't exactly feel great, but I'm good enough to move. I cough a few times just to try and clear my throat a bit. It still hurts. Maybe I should take some more medicine.
[ ] Tell Ruukoto she doesn't need to clean the room. Send her away. [ ] Let Ruukoto clean the room.
[ ] Get up and get some more medicine. [ ] Stay in bed.
[X] Let Ruukoto clean the room. [X] Get up and get some more medicine.
Regardless of what I really want to do, saying nothing isn't really an option. Well, it is technically, but it'd be dumb to actually do it. If I don't say anything, I'm just going to get woken up again an hour from now when Ruukoto comes back. It's better to deal with the problem now. Just need to make a quick mental note to not act annoyed at being woken up. Ruukoto's just doing her job.
"I'm-cough," Ugh. "I'm coming, just a second," I talk toward the door and completely fail to not sound groggy.
Slipping out of bed produces a slight head rush and a much less slight headache. Yeah, okay, I think that finalizes the decision on getting medicine or not. It works out pretty well then I guess. Ruukoto can clean the room while I head out to the common room and find wherever Sumi put that boiled root juice stuff. Hopefully cleaning doesn't take too long. I'm also pretty hopeful that Ruukoto won't mess with my or Ringo's things too much. She can change the sheets or vacuum the room or whatever, but she's definitely not allowed to throw anything out from my bag.
"Good afternoon," Ruukoto starts talking before the door is even completely opened. "It is currently twelve twenty-six PM on Tuesday, September twenty-second. This is the time I have designated for a weekly cleaning of room four, floor one of the dormitories. If this time is not acceptable for you and your schedule-"
"Yeah, it's fine. I just had to get up," I feel a little bad for interrupting her, but I've already heard this speech twice. "You can clean now. I'll be out in the common area."
"Understood," Ruukoto smiles pleasantly to me and nods. "The cleaning process has been designated to take a half hour, barring any unexpected circumstances. During that time, I will be vacuuming the floor, dusting all surfaces, changing bed sheets, and organizing any clutter."
"Sure, fine," I didn't really need to be told all that. At least it sounds like fairly normal stuff anyway. Actually, I wonder if she's going to do a good enough job to live up to a Yuzuki inspection. It's a little amusing to think that I don't know who would do a better job of cleaning between the maid/janitor literally built for cleaning, or Yuzuki. Might be a little rude to mention it though. "Coughcough, just come get me when you're done."
"Understood!" Ruukoto cheerfully moves into the room, and I step out of the way to let her. She's dragging some overly large vacuum-like contraption behind her. Looks kind of low tech to me, but it's probably advanced for this planet. Actually, wait, if that's supposed to be a vacuum then why does she also have a broom? Those both do the same kind of thing.
"coughcoughCOUGH!" Ugh, whatever. Not my business and I don't care. I walk out and away from the room, not bothering to close the door. If Ruukoto is going to make enough noise to bother other people, she can close the door herself. I'm probably the only person around here that was still asleep anyway. Everybody else should be up and doing their jobs.
That does bring up a point actually. Ruukoto telling me the time confirms that we're already in the afternoon by now, but other than that I have no idea what the time line has been for like, the last eighteen hours or something. While the exact specifics don't matter that much, it would be nice to have some idea about when the other rabbits left and when they're coming back. I'm just not used to being out of the action when the others aren't as well. This whole thing feels weird. I'm really not liking being sick, and not just for the obvious reasons.
The kitchen area takes up a large portion of the corner of the common area. It seems about as big as one of the dorm rooms actually, but instead of desks and beds and storage, there's cupboards, appliances, and space to prepare food. Man, aside from yesterday's visit to the Prismriver's mansion, it's been a long time since I've been in a proper kitchen. It kind of makes me miss cooking things that aren't rations or mochi. Maybe I could make some time to try doing that again some time.
Alright, well, I can see Sumi actually did bother to wash the pot she used. Actually that seems a little uncharacteristic of her, so either she's being more self conscious about being a guest here or Yuzuki took care of it before they left. Either way, it's currently drying in a strainer in the sink. I don't see much other evidence of where the medicine would be though. I guess that makes sense, Yuzuki wouldn't let something like that happen.
So then the most obvious place to look for the stuff Sumi made would be the fridge. The refrigerator here is pretty oversized, but I guess it would have to be in order to let multiple rooms worth of people live out of it. Nothing's really keeping me from just looking through it though. I wonder if they ever have a problem with food theft. That happened occasionally back on base... Actually, knowing what I know now, I wonder if Ringo and her friends were responsible for that. Whatever, that was a long time ago. No reason to dwell on a few missing peaches.
Hm, looking inside here, it seems like somebody really really likes cucumbers (or hopefully many somebodies given the volume). That's just my first impression though, and it's none of my business. I'm looking for... There we go. It only takes a cursory glance to find the medicine. Sumi left a large plastic jug full of the brownish-red liquid sitting right at the front of one of the middle racks. If that wasn't obvious enough, she also scribbled my name on a post-it note and stuck it to the bottle. So this is definitely what I was trying to find. I grab it and pull it out, then start looking through the cupboards for a glass.
Come to think of it, does this stuff even need to be refrigerated? That's not normally needed for medicine, is it? Even if it was, it couldn't have been more than an hour or two since this stuff was first made, right? It wouldn't have gone bad in that time. Bleh, whatever, I'm just unnecessarily picking at the logic here. Sumi made decisions on what to do for one reason or another. Argue with her about the specifics of those decisions all you want, but you can't deny that she's good at deciding on things to do without worrying too much about getting everything one-hundred percent correct. I'm a little bit envious of that.
I make sure to turn my head and not cough on any of the utensils or dishes that I find while looking for where the glasses are kept. That'd be pretty rude, and I'm still not completely sure whether I'm contagious or not. Probably should have asked Ringo about that one... Oh hey, here we go. Found the glasses. Now I just need to pour some of this stuff and drink it.
... Ew ew ew.
Okay, making it colder definitely didn't help with the taste at all. Still this weird gross mix of tastes that I don't think are supposed to be able to happen at the same time. Still really difficult to force down. Even being prepared for it doesn't really help me that much. I still don't manage to drink it all in one go.
... Maybe I could get away with just half a glass?
Ugh, no. I need to stop dreading this so much. Yes it tastes bad, but it'll make me feel better. I shouldn't be a wimp about this. I filled the whole glass and I need to drink all of it now. Do what I just did one more time. That's all it is.
Take a deep breath. In... Out. Okay. Here goes nothing...
"Wow, the look on your face. I've heard the phrase 'good medicine tastes bitter' before, but I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be a metaphor most of the time," Wha-EW GROSS GROSS GROSS. Ow... I was so surprised by somebody else talking so suddenly that I choked on the liquid I was drinking. I think some of that stuff went up to my nose! I have a tiny coughing fit while I try to bring my self back under control. "Woah, didn't think you'd freak out. Sorry."
Ow ow ow... Actually, difficulty catching my breath aside, I feel a little less congested now. What is with this medicine stuff? You're definitely not supposed to shove it up your nose, but it just kind of works when you do?! After just a couple more coughs and an involuntarily groan, I clear my throat and calm down. Okay, I was surprised by somebody talking to me suddenly. I hadn't heard or seen anyone else moving around here, so it was unexpected. When I look at the source of the voice though, she's obviously not hiding or anything. Maybe she's just naturally stealthy.
"Yo," Short, blonde, silly hat with googly eyes, overtly casual, the girl waves at me once I turn around and look at her. Her name was Suwako, right? We met briefly yesterday while Ringo and I were negotiating with Kanako. I surmised that she was affiliated with the Moriya shrine in some way, and I guess seeing her here is consistent with that. I didn't ever figure out the extent of the details of her situation though. There were some slightly more important things going on.
"Um, hello," I awkwardly respond while looking down in front of me. Okay, on the bright side, I managed to spit out most of the medicine stuff back into the glass, so it doesn't look like I made a mess. I can't really drink the rest of this though... Oh noooo~ what a tragedy. Whatever, I got most of it, and I do feel a pretty decent amount of relief on my symptoms. "Did you need something?"
Suwako smirks at me. Of course, once again I'm the only one uncomfortable in a situation. "I was actually looking to talk to one of you rabbits about a couple of somethings. You've got time now, right?" She asks, sounding like she already knows the answer.
"Sure?" It's kind of hard to guess exactly what this girl could want from one of us, but I guess it's fine... Actually, I should probably take care of my glass first. I don't know how long this talk is going to take, and I don't want to forget to clean up after myself and look like a slob. "Um, in one second."
"Alright, I'm gonna go grab a chair," Suwako shrugs and gestures to the far side of the room. "Come over when you're good to go," She adds, walking away without waiting for a response.
That's fine I guess. It doesn't take long for me to rinse out my glass, but maybe rather than washing it and putting it away I should get something to drink as well. It feels like I definitely need something to lessen the taste still in my mouth and throat and (this is the worst part) in my nose. There's probably plenty of drinks in the fridge, but there's no way for me to know what, if any, of that stuff would be available for me to take. Whatever, I'll just get some water out of the sink and drink that. Not exactly cool or refreshing given the ambient temperature in here, but it works.
The area over on the other side of the stairwell is mostly a collection of mismatched armchairs and couches sitting around some small tables. Seems like it would be a nice place to relax and talk with people, maybe play some games or collaborate on a project or something. There are quite a few well stocked bookshelves lined up along the walls, although I don't really have time to try and figure out what genre the books themselves are from. It's a surprisingly comfortable looking setup over here. Enough so that I'm confused why Yuzuki was electing to read at the dinner table instead of over here last night.
"So, um. What can I help you with?" I ask to start things off as I take a seat. Suwako has grabbed a nice armchair that faces away from the stairwell, so sitting across from her lets me see most of the rest of the common room. Hm, this isn't as nice as a bed, but I could still manage to sleep on this couch if I needed to.
"You got that one backward actually. I came here to see if you needed help with anything. At least, that's part of it," Suwako corrects me. She's sitting cross legged in her chair, which is probably the right choice. I think her legs wouldn't even touch the ground if she draped them down the front. "So, you got any concerns or stuff you want to bring up about this whole deal?"
Concerns? We kinda just got here, didn't we? I can't really think of much. Well, aside from being sick, but that's not really-Wait what? I'm distracted from my thoughts when I notice Ruukoto walking out of the hallway to the dormitories while carrying the door from Ringo's and my room. I can tell it's ours from the crack. She just took the whole thing off the hinges? Is she going to fix it or... Wait, I was talking to Suwako. "Er, what?" I quickly try to mask my distraction.
Suwako either buys it or doesn't care enough about my lapse in attention to mention anything. "Here's the thing. Kanako can sometimes get a bit caught up in the big picture of things. Likes to think she's a grand thinker making grander plans, and hey, sometimes she's right. When she's actually pulling off those plans, she can end up stepping over the little guys that are actually doing the hard work for her. She gets this idea of what you could possibly do, then plans assuming that you will do that for her," She explains.
Sounds normal to me. Pretty much what Command would be like, although I guess that isn't much of a point in Kanako's favor. "Isn't that just how leadership is supposed to do things?" They assign you work based on your position and competence. If you can't measure up to their expectations, that's kind of more on you than on them, right?
"I guess. What I'm saying is that it doesn't always work out perfectly. I'm just remembering Sanae being in over he head for a solid year or so when we first moved here. Kanako had years worth of knowing Sanae beforehand to make an accurate assessment of her skills and didn't do the best job of it," I think Sanae may have mentioned a tiny bit about that yesterday, but from what Suwako's saying it sounds like she downplayed it. "With you guys, we know where you came from, but only really met you yesterday. You should be able to see the possible problems there. Basically, there's only so much I can do about what you have to actually do on the Moon or whatever, I know that. But there should be plenty of stuff beforehand that Kanako might gloss over and assume isn't a big deal. You can talk to me about that stuff, and I can bring it up to Kanako for you. Won't even ask for much in return either."
Huh... I don't know exactly how much pull Suwako has to make things happen, but she clearly knows Kanako better than we do. Having her talk about problems instead of us should make us look less needy. That actually sounds pretty good, aside from one little thing. "You say you won't ask for much. I'm assuming that means you are going to ask for something though."
"Yeah, it shouldn't be much, just a question about a hypothetical situation you might not have been thinking about," Suwako admits.
Huh, that doesn't sound too bad either. I'm not necessarily the best at answering hypotheticals off the cuff, but hopefully I can manage it. "Okay, what is it?"
Suwako uncrosses her legs and leans forward in her chair, folding her hands under her chin and looking much more serious than before. "Kanako wants you to set up a meeting with your leaders. She wants to make a deal where she gets something in exchange for helping solve this whole situation. That all makes sense. Now obviously, I know what she's going to ask for, but I'm guessing she kept it quiet from you," I nod at that. Ringo and I weren't exactly in a position to press for information. "That's what I figured. Suffice it to say that it's an old bit of business she's wanted resolved for a long time, but the lunarians have refused to play ball on it. So my question is, have you given any thought to what you'll do if they still refuse to make a deal?"
Wait, what? What does that have to do with me? "Is that really our business though? I though we were just setting up the meeting," It's not an answer, but I don't really get why there's a question. Once we get the meeting set up, that's the end of our obligation, isn't it?
Suwako shakes her head a tiny bit, still looking surprisingly serious. "Think about it. The only way Kanako has any bargaining power is if she makes a deal before your capital is free from its attackers and out of the Dream World. So obviously Kanako plans for negotiations to take place before then. If your leaders say no at that point, what leverage does Kanako have to push back on them?"
Err, I don't know. I would assume she'd have something else that she could use... But no, Suwako asked the question to lead me to an answer, and only one thing comes to mind. "Not freeing the capital?"
Suwako gives one slow, deep nod. "So hypothetically, what are you going to do if Kanako holds your people hostage in front of you until your leaders bend for her?"
That's... A bit more severe of a question than I expected. There are a lot of details about the situation that are missing. In fact it makes it a little hard to imagine all that well. I'm kind of at a loss for words. I cough awkwardly a couple of times, partly because I'm still sick (even though my symptoms are really manageable right now), and partly to buy time. Oh hey, there goes Ruukoto with a new door. I guess she really is just going to replace the one we broke.
"Well, it's not likely to happen anyway. I'm sure the people in charge of your capital aren't so unreasonable that they'd pick being under attack and imprisoned over just doing one thing for Kanako. That's why it's just a hypothetical," Suwako's seriousness dissipates quickly and she leans back in her armchair once again. "Personally, I'm just curious about what one of our new employees is thinking. Consider it a late interview question, then we can go back to you and your concerns, alright?"
Ugh, Suwako is trying to downplay it somewhat, but I still feel like it's a difficult question to answer. As for my concerns, I think I can think of a couple, but maybe I shouldn't be too needy about it...
[ ] Our deal with Kanako was to set up a meeting, not ensure a deal comes out of that meeting. Our obligation would be over, so I'd try to free the capital without Kanako's help at that point. [ ] I don't have a lot of sway with Command, but I would try to get them to go along with Kanako. We should try to cooperate for the best results, right? [ ] I... Really don't know enough about the situation. I'm not sure how to answer the question. [ ] (Write-in)
As for concerns:
[ ] Um, actually, who are you? [ ] Command never gave us money because they didn't think we'd need it. We're kind of completely broke. [ ] Kanako was sure that the Aya situation would resolve itself, but I'm still a little worried about her snooping. [ ] I'm not sure how secretive we need to be about living at the plant. [ ] We've been told that we're free to come and go, but how will we know when Kanako has work for us? [ ] Could we maybe get some alarm clocks for our rooms? I have no idea what time it is most of the time. [ ] Sanae says that the cafeteria food is pretty limited. Maybe we could work on some better variety? Former Hell seems to have plenty of stuff. [ ] Have the other people living here been told about us? I don't want to confuse people about us being here. [ ] (Write-in)
[x] I... Really don't know enough about the situation. I'm not sure how to answer the question.
[x] Um, actually, who are you? [x] Command never gave us money because they didn't think we'd need it. We're kind of completely broke. [x] We've been told that we're free to come and go, but how will we know when Kanako has work for us?
Multivotes always make me feel like I've missed something.
[X] I... Really don't know enough about the situation. I'm not sure how to answer the question.
[X] Um, actually, who are you? [X] Command never gave us money because they didn't think we'd need it. We're kind of completely broke. [X] Kanako was sure that the Aya situation would resolve itself, but I'm still a little worried about her snooping. [X] I'm not sure how secretive we need to be about living at the plant. [X] Have the other people living here been told about us? I don't want to confuse people about us being here.
[X] I don't have a lot of sway with Command, but I would try to get them to go along with Kanako. We should try to cooperate for the best results, right?
[X] Um, actually, who are you? [X] Command never gave us money because they didn't think we'd need it. We're kind of completely broke. [X] We've been told that we're free to come and go, but how will we know when Kanako has work for us?
[x] I... Really don't know enough about the situation. I'm not sure how to answer the question. [x] Um, actually, who are you? [x] Command never gave us money because they didn't think we'd need it. We're kind of completely broke. [x] We've been told that we're free to come and go, but how will we know when Kanako has work for us?
[x] If Kanako holds the capital hostage we can't do shit because we can't get there to help them in the first place. -[x] Therefore, I'd try to make them cooperate with the God of War. [x] Aya situation [x] Money situation [x] "Do you have a watch or a clock or anything?"
Either she recovered pretty well or Suwako is blind, because having a serious discussion with a rabbit that's about to pass out is kind of weird. Still, she is kind to show concern when she strictly doesn't need to. Go Curse God go!
As I understand the plan, Sanae is going to come with us to help liberate the Moon. So hypothetically, If Kanako decides to betray us and hold the Moon hostage, we could hypothetically just betray her right back by holding Sanae hostage. All Seiran would have to do is open a portal to the net gun dimension and proceed as pic related times several hundred. Any stun gun or tranquilizer dart dimension would also work in a pinch. Probably shouldn't mention this option to Suwako, but we should keep it in mind.
[x] I... Really don't know enough about the situation. I'm not sure how to answer the question. -[x] mostly because I really shouldn't mention the option to turn the tables by holding Sanae hostage.
[x] Um, actually, who are you? [x] Command never gave us money because they didn't think we'd need it. We're kind of completely broke. [x] I'm not sure how secretive we need to be about living at the plant.
[X] I... Really don't know enough about the situation. I'm not sure how to answer the question.
[X] Command never gave us money because they didn't think we'd need it. We're kind of completely broke. [X] Um, actually, who are you? [X] We've been told that we're free to come and go, but how will we know when Kanako has work for us?
It takes me a moment to formulate an answer. Of course, that's nothing new for me, but I'm glad that Suwako is patient enough and doesn't feel a need to rush me into an answer. Maybe she's sympathetic. Come to think of it, I'm not completely sure to what extent she's aware of me being sick. That medicine stuff seems crazy effective to me, but I still don't look as healthy as say, yesterday afternoon when Ringo and I were negotiating with Kanako. Either she's caught on that I'm not feeling well, or she's just normally laid back. She did still drag me over here for a talk though, so signs are pointing more toward the latter than the former.
Anyway, I think about the question for a bit longer before hesitantly giving something like an answer. Maybe just calling it a response would be better. "It's a little tough for me to guess how I would act," I admit. "I don't really know enough about the situation."
"Hmm, answering I don't know to an interview question, huh?" Crap, Suwako looks unimpressed. "Usually not the best move."
"But it seems more reasonable to me," I stammer out trying to explain myself quickly. Yes, I might be a bit wishy-washy at times, but there's a reason for that! At least this specific time! "You don't seem to want to explain what Kanako," err, should I be adding the lady honorific in front of that? Does Suwako care? Better safe than sorry I guess. "What Lady Kanako would be asking command for in that situation. The only reason why negotiations would break down would be if one side was trying to take advantage of the other. I can't really tell which side would be which from what you're saying. Obviously, if I had all the information I would want to side with the one that was being more fair."
Suwako bobs her head back and forth a couple of times, but eventually shrugs. "Well like you said, that's the reasonable approach. It's just way easier to say than do. People are quick to claim that they'll be fair and impartial when asked about a hypothetical. In practice, they're a lot less rational in the heat of the moment."
As someone who is kind of prone to panic, I can understand and agree with that argument. I've been getting somewhat better about it the past few days, but there have been lots of times where I've made snap decisions that I ended up regretting. It's easy to give the neutral answer now, but if the situation actually came up for real, saying 'I don't know' wouldn't work at all. That's probably part of why Suwako brought up the question. I have to wonder if she really thinks that hypothetical is going to come to pass though.
"Anyway, I asked for your answer and I got it, so that's good enough. Not like I was going to unhire you no matter what you answered," Suwako continues, turning to the side and draping her legs over the arm of her chair. Ah, there goes Ruukoto. It looks like she's brought a new door up. I'm kind of curious about where she would have gotten that from. Do they just have a pile of replacements somewhere? "You can talk about whatever you're worried about now. I'll see about bringing it up with Kanako later."
Right, there is one thing that immediately springs to mind, but I feel a little bit awkward about bringing it up. "Since you brought up getting hired, Command never set us up with any earth currency for our mission. We weren't supposed to get found out or interact with Earth natives, so they thought we wouldn't need any of it. Now that we actually are talking to people and doing things... It's kind of come up that we're completely broke."
Suwako nods along at that, but looks unconcerned in general. "But you should have supplies right? Lunarians wouldn't want you doing something as messy and impure as hunting and gathering food."
"R-cough-right," I'm a little curious how Suwako knows about lunarians. Not that the lunar capital existing is that huge of a secret (at least I don't think so?), but the specifics of their behavior shouldn't exactly be common knowledge, right? "Well, we have enough rations and bare essential supplies to last for a while longer, although most of it is still back at camp," Even if the others bring back enough to last us until the full moon, I still wouldn't be crazy about eating rations for that long though. Earth has a lot more variety, and honestly, more quality. "It mostly came up last night when we were out in the city. There wasn't very much that I could afford to do or eat so..."
"So while you don't need it, money's good for letting you try out Earth's fun stuff," Suwako concludes for me. Yeah, it sounds a bit superfluous, but Suwako is free to deny the idea if she wants. I just don't like how I made Yamame pay for everything yesterday. It just seems rude. Plus, I can't use my hot spring coupon without at least some money. "Can't argue with that, but Kanako probably would. We've gotta keep the payroll balanced and all that," She continues before leaning back some more. It looks like her hat is going to fall off the side of the chair, but she somehow keeps it balanced. "Hmm, she'd probably shoot you down, but I might be able to grab you up a little bit of allowance. Just don't expect to be rolling in it, 'kay?"
"Oh, yeah that's okay, we'd appreciate any help you could give," It can't get worse than being flat broke. Well, I guess it could if we ended up in debt. Honestly, we're already getting to stay here in the plant without paying anything. Suwako would be completely justified in telling me that I'm asking for too much, but instead she's willing to try and set us up with more. I won't complain about generosity like that.
Although how she can even pull anything like that off brings up another question. I probably should have asked about this earlier, but now my curiosity is outweighing my restraint. "Sorry if this is a weird question, but um... who exactly are you?" Suwako glances over at me with momentary surprise that quickly transitions into a smug smile. "Y-you only introduced yourself as Suwako, so I assumed you were someone who just lived at the shrine," I scramble to explain, possibly just making it worse. "The more we talk the more it sounds like there's a lot more to it than that so-"
"Yeah, just a teeny tiny little bit more than that," Suwako giggles again. "You're close. I don't just live at the shrine though, I own it. Or at least some part of it," She doesn't sit up, but waves her arm over her body in a small flourish. "Suwako Moriya, goddess of mountains and one of the deities of the Moriya shrine."
"O-oh!" Crap, should I have been more respectful to her this whole time? That doesn't seem fair, she doesn't even look like any goddess I've ever seen before. She's so small. Also, with her legs draped over one side of the chair and her head dangling off the other side, she's definitely a lot less dramatic about this than Kanako was. Not really sure what else to say, I fake clearing my throat to try and buy some more time.
Suwako only cranes her neck to look directly at me again. "You don't have to get all reverent or anything," She assures me, although it only helps me calm down a bit. "I'm not big on all that standing on ceremony crap like Kanako. I'm over all that busy work. I'm just here to take it easy and cover up Kanako's weak points. Let her and Sanae take care of all the advertising and busy work. Way easier that way."
"Uh huh," Laziness? I kind of have a feeling that Ringo and her would get along. Although that's probably a bit disrespectful to both of them to think about.
"Surprised you don't already know this stuff," Suwako continues. Wait, Ruukoto's also replacing the desk? I'm kind of surprised she can lift the whole thing like that and still know where she's going. She's really going to go down the stairs like that? "Weren't you guys spying on us before?"
"W-w-cough cough!" Urgh, don't surprise me like that please! Although I guess it's kind of my fault for getting distracted by the robot maid doing stuff in the background. It shouldn't bet that surprising. I already knew she was going to be cleaning our room, and the door and desk were very much broken. "Well, yeah. Kind of. Only a tiny bit though. We didn't do much information gathering other than knowing where the shrine was and what it was called."
"Hm, good call. If we knew you were out there, we probably woulda sicced Sanae on you," Suwako smirks at the idea. Not sure if that's a good smirk or a bad one. "Dunno if that would have been better or worse than Reisen was, but it wouldn't have been pretty either way."
"We were stealthed though..."
"Against youkai, which none of us at the shrine are one of," Okay, that's true. I don't actually know how our stealth would work against goddesses. Hey, another one of those things command didn't prepare us for properly. How surprising. "Plus, Kanako and I, and Sanae to a lesser degree, are all divinely connected to the shrine. If you had been snooping around our domain too often, we would have caught on that something was up."
Hm, score one point to slow rolling the information gathering efforts I suppose. Looking around the Moriya shrine was on our priority list, but we weren't going fast enough to actually get around to it before we were discovered. Man, we really were woefully unequipped to actually accomplish our mission, weren't we? Both the fake mission and the real one we weren't told about. Ugh. I'm feeling increasingly disgusted the more I think about it, although some of that might be the sickness. Probably better to just move on either way.
"So you're all connected... Right, I remember Sanae talking remotely with Kanako before," I continue. I know it's not something that's going to happen, but I'd still like to not be on the train of thought that includes Sanae attacking us. Granted I have no idea how strong she actually is, but if she's a shrine maiden that solves incidents like Reimu, she definitely can't be weak. "Is there any way that we could set something like that up too?"
"Hah?" Suwako makes a confused grunting noise as she shuffles herself around a bit and sinks deeper into the armchair.
"Well it's just that Kanako said we were free to come and go from the plant when we wanted, but we also need to be around to do any jobs she has for us," This is another concern I was having. I don't want to look like I'm trying to avoid work. We made a deal with Kanako, and I intend to honor it. "It would help a lot if we had some way of knowing when to come back."
"Oh, I gotcha. Well that's another divine connection thing. We can't just bring whoever we want in on that. There's logistics and stuff to consider," Suwako shrugs, but does appear to go into thought over the problem. "Hm, you rabbits could technically pray to us and we'd hear it, but that's a one way avenue. Answering back to prayer is a rare exception that needs special circumstances. Not to mention you're not even our followers, which makes it even worse."
"I didn't know goddesses had so many rules to follow like that," Who even enforces stuff like that?
"We work in mysterious ways," Suwako waves one of her sleeves vaguely in the air. "So how do you rabbits talk to each other or the Moon then?"
Ah right, this. This is another one of those things that isn't exactly a huge secret, but the specifics probably aren't well known to Earth dwellers. "All of us rabbits are telepathically linked through something that we call comms," It's the informal name, but I've honestly forgotten the official one. The word communications must be in it somewhere, right? I don't recall. There's no reason to refer to it by anything else. If you say 'comms' all the other rabbits are going to know what you're talking about. Suwako isn't going to though, so I'll explain a little more. "It's kind of like an open forum that any of us can talk and contact one another through. It's a little hard to explain when it's mostly instinctual. It's broken right now though, so we've been using two way radios from our equipment whenever we weren't right next to each other."
"Radios hm..." Suwako thinks about it. Oh good, it seems like she at least knows what radios are. I guess that's a given considering the tech level of the place I'm currently sitting in, but Gensokyo is weird about stuff like that. "I'll talk to Kanako and some of the science geeks around here then. Maybe we'll be able to slap something together that'll put you in constant contact with Kanako," She giggles once. "If that's what you really want anyway."
I can kinda get what she's implying. "Kanako is... Intimidating, but following her orders is part of the deal. I'm not going to go back on that," I say patiently. I'm not just trying to make myself look better to one of our hosts either. This is me being totally honest. "I doubt she'd all that worse than Command ordering us around anyway," Doh. I probably shouldn't have said that out loud.
Suwako actually laughs out loud anyway, finally tipping her head back enough that hat falls off. "Whup," She rolls herself over the arm of the chair, doing a somersault and managing to land in a comfortable (for her at least) crouch. I watch the googly eyes on top of her hat settle as she puts it back on her head and feel a little bit silly about asking this person for help. Okay, yes, she's told me she's a goddess, and I do believe her. I just think that she feels much less serious than any goddess I've seen or heard about. Either on Earth or the Moon. But then, Gensokyo messing with my expectations of things isn't exactly new.
A short few minutes after Ruukoto comes back up the stairs with a replacement desk (A bit slowly, I might add. Must be tough to be the only maid here. Is she the only one? Dunno.), Ringo's hat (and then the rest of her) comes walking up as well. She doesn't immediately notice Suwako or I, instead walking quickly toward the dorms, so I cough to get her attention.
"Oh hey, you're up," Once she sees me, Ringo's attention stays focused on me even when Suwako pokes her head out from around the chair to see the source of the voice. "You feeling any better?"
I clear my throat a tiny bit, trying to make sure that I'm not going to cough while talking. "Yeah, I'm doing okay. The medicine has been helping," Although having an entire conversation with Suwako probably hasn't done me any favors. I probably would have been better off sleeping this whole time, but that apparently isn't up to me. "Ruukoto wanted to clean our room, so I came out here and started talking to Suwako," The aforementioned goddess waves lightly over the top of her chair.
"Right, right. Hi again," Ringo greets Suwako casually. Right, she doesn't know about Suwako being a goddess either. I'll have to mention it to her later or something. "Sorry, in a bit of a rush. I just came to grab Seiran. The others are delivering the portal to Rika so she can take a quick look at it. We have other stuff we brought from camp, but Kanako's getting a bit pissy about being behind schedule, so I'm trying to speed things along."
Erk, Ringo, you really shouldn't talk like that about Kanako in front of her fellow goddess. "Hah, yeah she can get like that," Okay, well, Suwako seems more amused than anything, but it's still the principle of the thing.
Moving right along then. "What do I need to do?"
"Nothing really, but Kanako wants to make a decision on how we're planning on getting to the Moon, and I figured you should be around for that," Ringo explains, but then hesitates slightly. "You can skip it if you need to rest some more though," She adds, showing some concern.
While I appreciate the sentiment, I also think it's in our best interest to not upset Kanako. If anything it's my fault that we couldn't make this decision before noon. If I hadn't gotten sick we could have gone and got the portal much more quickly. "No, this sounds important. I can come down right away," I'm not just acting either. I know I'm feeling good enough for a meeting. It'll probably be even easier on me than my time with Suwako too. Kanako and Rikako will probably be the ones doing most of the talking at the meeting.
"Well Kanako'll be happy to hear that. Not that it helps making the call either way. Rika's still going to need some time to look at the portal," Ringo ends with a sigh and shakes her head lightly. "Mostly I'm just trying to act like I'm being productive to look good for the boss lady. You know how it is."
Ringo, one of the boss ladies is right here! "Cough, cough. Err, not really," I struggle not to sound awkward, even though I definitely feel it. "Maybe we shou-"
"Excuse me miss Seiran, I have come to get you," Ruukoto interrupts me as she quickly walks out of the dormitory hallway.
"Er, um, what?" What would Ruukoto need from me? She's just cleaning.
"Before I began cleaning your room, you requested 'just come get me when you're done' and I am here to fulfill that request," Wow, did I really sound that tired earlier? I guess so. It still weirds me out how Ruukoto repeats direct quotes with the exact same tone that the source had.
Now that she mentions it though, I do remember saying that. "Right. Thanks I guess?" That was when I was planning to go back to bed, so it doesn't do me much good now. I can't fault Ruukoto for following my instructions at least.
"All normal room cleaning procedures have been completed. Unfortunately, I lack the proper materials to completely remove some of the anomalies present in your room," Ruukoto continues. Err, anomalies? "There were three bullets embedded in the ceiling which have been successfully removed. As repairing the holes that are still present does not fall under standard clutter removal procedures and maintenance, doing so will need to be done at another time, once I have properly requisitioned ceiling tiles for such repairs."
I feel a drop in the pit of my stomach. Bullets... Right, that dream that I had... But I didn't think that I... Well, it's not like I checked when I woke up. "Th-thanks," I mumble out automatically, trying to ignore the confused look from Suwako and concerned look from Ringo. Okay, Ringo knowing that I definitely did shoot stuff in my sleep is one thing, but what am I supposed to say to Suwako?
[ ] Pretend to have no idea what bullets she's talking about [ ] Say it was danmaku [ ] Claim I brought some of my gun collection with me and forgot to unload all the ammo [ ] Tell the truth [ ] Something else (write in)
I kind of have a feeling I know where the votes are going to go for this, but the only other option is trying to write the whole meeting and give a choice at the end of that, but that will take more time than I have available while making this update hella long. Ideally I could avoid this by having better pacing, but I'm still not the best at that.
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?
I'd rather not rely on a ramshackle rocket to get to the moon, especially since we don't have the same setup as in SSiB. That and I think getting closer to Reisen through getting her help is better in the long run.
Technically, we already have something magic that is strongly connected to the Moon. All 5 of us moon rabbits have magical powers and are connected to the Moon since we live there. As a last ditch emergency option, we could just plug one of us rabbits into the portal and tune it that way. We would probably have to leave whoever we plugged in behind though, so we should only do it as a last resort.
One point nobody seems to have mentioned yet: Eirin is not stupid. If Kanako suddenly kicks off a media campaign about launching a rocket to the moon, Eirin's going to put two and two together in two seconds flat. Even if she didn't already know of a bunch of moon rabbits who desperately want to get back to the moon and report the whereabouts of a highly dangerous fugitive who's planning to kill them, the fact that they're going to the moon is reason enough for her to stick her nose where it doesn't belong.
TL;DR both of these options lead to Eientei. I'd rather it be on our terms than theirs.
...also, wan't Seiran running out of those pills? That was the reason she stopped taking them, if I recall, but she never mentioned it to Suwako.
[x] Argue for the portal plan the portal plan is definitely risky, but the rocket plan will grab attention. more importantly, if Erin can get the rocket from SSiB to fly, she can definitely stop this one from getting to the moon. Neither plan is safe but portal plan has a chance of going unnoticed by Erin. mostly. probably.
"Oh don't be so dramatic, nobody believes it," Suwako rolls her eyes and finally leaves her side of the room. Considering how she's already been the primary person arguing with Kanako, it's about time she joined the rest of us at the table. "There aren't people hunting them, it's just Yagokoro, and she doesn't exactly seem active about doing it."
"Yes, and ignoring Reisen's connection to her is foolhardy," I'm really starting to notice just how often Kanako has to use her 'I'm forcing myself to be patient with you' voice. "Can we trust her to be discreet enough in her investigation of a possible solution to make it worth the risk? I would say not."
Oh wait, now I think I see why Suwako had been so far away before. Looking at someone as short as her facing down someone as imposing as Kanako is almost comical. At least it might be if the subject matter wasn't so serious. "Eirin's not a psychic, and her apprentice is smarter than people give her credit for."
"While those things may be true, why should we take the risk when we have a perfectly valid alternative?" Kanako counters. "One that, when done correctly, benefits the shrine much more in the long run."
I kinda feel like part of this argument is happening for the wrong kind of reasons. Kanako isn't necessarily pushing for the rocket plan because it's the better plan for us. She's doing it because it's clearly a more profitable plan for her. I'm not trying to say that that's selfish or anything though. Of course Kanako should have a right to try and get the most out of the deal that she can, it's just that doing that shouldn't make things worse for the rest of us. We're the ones that need to get back to the Moon, not her. I feel like I need to speak up, but I'm not exactly sure how to argue this.
Actually, from what she was just talking about, I can probably ask a question here. Something doesn't exactly make sense. "Wait, you're saying that Reisen might cough let something slip, but also assume it isn't a problem when the other plan does the same thing?" Erk, wait, that sounds a bit too critical. Why did I say it like that?
Kanako looks surprised that she has to suddenly switch focus to somebody else. It seems like she's pretty used to having back and forths with Suwako, but having me suddenly butt in like this threw her off for a second. "Excuse me?"
"Yeah, I was thinking that too," Ringo answers nodding to me before turning toward Kanako as well. "Eirin's not dumb, everybody knows that. If she hears about you suddenly starting a big ad campaign around getting to the Moon a few days after she met us, I'm pretty sure she'll be able to put two and two together," That's not exactly how I would have phrased it, but that's the same kind of point I was thinking over. Thanks I guess, Ringo. "Then she knows where we are and who's protecting us."
"Yes, managing how information is presented and received by others is a part of the work that Sanae and I would have to handle," Kanako seems to have found her footing again. She's acting no less bothered by arguing with three people than she had been with one. "Understand that Gensokyo is always held in a loose kind of status quo. Any time that any group wants to make progress, dealing with the reactions from other powerful people is an irritating but necessary part of the job. Of course I don't expect the outsiders like yourselves to have to play those politics when I am much better suited for it-"
"So you admit that Eirin's going to be a problem in your plan then?" Suwako cuts her off to ask a direct question. It's probably better to do that than to let Kanako keep going. Even I could tell she was evading the point a little bit.
"Not a problem, no. I have had to deceive her in other previous dealings, and I can do so again," Kanako folds her arms over her chest and stares down at Suwako. "Even if that fails to be the case, I can prevent her from being in a position to act. Sabotaging something that we're building down here just wouldn't be possible for her without declaring an outright conflict."
"But that also applies to the portal, which has a plan that has even less chance of being found out," Suwako points out, while Kanako sounds like she's pretending not to get heated over the argument, Suwako sounds like she doesn't have to pretend at all.
"We need to be proactive in this case," Kanako argues. "Announcing our intent ahead of time allows us to control the flow of information to other parties, and can let us paint ourselves as being in the right. Especially considering that at the moment, we indeed ARE in the right. Putting a narrative forward first means that we're not on the back foot in the case of any kind of information leak."
"Reisen also needs a way to the Moon. She told us that when we met her before," I can't remember if we told Kanako that before or not. Either way, it's probably a good thing for Ringo to bring it back up. "She's not going to rat us out as long as we can help her as much as she can help us."
"And what do you do if she can't help us at all?" Oh right, Rikako was also on Kanako's side in this. It wasn't enough that she was actively arguing, but I think it was pretty obvious which idea she preferred. "The entire plan relies on the existence of something magical which could be used to tune the portal. We don't know if something like that is attainable, and are going to lose precious time if it isn't."
"If time is so precious, why go for the plan that takes up so much of it, involves so many people, and relies on so many things going perfectly?" Ringo asks. Again, that's kind of more critical than I would like to be, but maybe that's the point. Ringo is better at arguing than I am, wo maybe her approach is better than mine. "The portal idea just needs us to do one thing. If we can't pull it off, then that's on us."
Kanako looks slightly annoyed at that. "Failing to reach the Moon isn't just 'on you', as you say," She counters. "Messing up this opportunity means that I also lose the chance to return on the investment of time and energy I've already spent, along with any that I spend in the future."
There's a loud smack on the table that forces everyone to look at the source. Even though she's caught everyone's attention just fine, Sumi still smacks her hand down a couple more times for good measure. "Okay, hold up. WE are the ones that are going to die if we screw this up. You can talk about investments, dividends, equity, or whatever any of those stupid words mean all you want. If we screw this up WE. ARE. GOING. TO. DIE."
Everyone looks at Sumi, stunned at her directness. Well, the people who aren't used to her are surprised by that at least. Us rabbits (or at least me) are more amazed that Sumi managed to get through that whole point without swearing. "Ahem," Yuzuki eventually picks up where Sumi left off by clearing her throat. "I think what Sumi means is that Seiran and Ringo aren't going to propose something that we can't pull off. You called us outsiders before, and said that you would be more suited to handling negotiations. In the same way, we would be more suited to handling the portal plan," She explains. Actually, Kanako probably doesn't know what we're capable of. We can be stealthy without a drone masking us just fine. We were trained for that.
"Why even have a meeting like this?" Chiyo asks suddenly, not sounding all that curious about the answer. "You've already made up your mind. Either order us to do it, or actually listen to what we're saying," I catch Suwako smirk at that remark.
"I am listening to-"
"Nah, not really," Suwako cuts Kanako off before she can argue back. "They've kinda got a point. They're the ones with their backs against the wall. If anyone is going to give it their all, it'll be the desperate ones. We should be using that motivation on something more important than finding research for some rocket. We got good people down here, but they'll just look at this like another project. What if one of them half-asses it? What if more than one of them does?"
Kanako looks over all of us rabbits, then Suwako. She takes a moment to think over what we've said. Instead of immediately responding to it though, she instead casts a glance over at Rika. "Do any of my workers regularly 'half-ass' things?" She asks coolly.
Rika, who had apparently been idly toying with one of her braids, responds with a shrug and a noncommittal "Eeeeehhhh," noise. When it's clear that isn't enough to satisfy Kanako's question, she continues. "Some of them do some of the time. Ones that aren't me of course... Well okay, most of the time they aren't me."
"Micromanaging isn't really something that Rika or I have the patience for," Rikako points out in a rather transparent attempt to cover for Rika. "Ordinarily, we get better morale and better results by simply trusting others to do their jobs. I will admit that we have some disciplinary issues on occasion though."
"You should have brought this up with me before," Kanako frowns, switching focus to Rikako. Honestly, talking to Rika first was probably a bad move. "But you still believe the rocket plan would work out, knowing what you know about your team and the other workers here?" She asks neutrally.
"If things go correctly, yes," Rikako nods emphatically, although I can clearly see that she's a little less confident than she let on at the beginning of the meeting. "I was planning on skipping a bit more sleep than usual just to make sure though," She admits. Yeah, so she was planning to cover it up if anyone else doesn't pull their weight? I can kind of relate to that.
"Hmm," Kanako looks entirely unimpressed. Her expression is a little sour now, though not specifically at Rikako so much as just in general. "That won't be necessary. I suppose this is my fault for not spending enough time evaluating my subordinates." I wince slightly at that. Really hoping that our discussion doesn't end up getting anyone fired. That wasn't my intention at all. Kanako interrupts my worry by looking directly at Ringo and I. "Understand this, working in the dark like the portal plan requires means it will be more difficult for me to openly throw around influence. Bailing you out of trouble with Eientei without the public cover of the rocket plan would be... Difficult."
I look around the table at the other rabbits for a moment. Honestly, I should have expected them all to back me up in the argument, but I'm still really glad that they did. I'm not the best at negotiations, but having five voices all telling her the same thing instead of one must have helped. As long as all five of us are working together like this... Yeah. "We can do it."
Kanako takes a long moment to consider things. I catch her eyes move to Suwako, Sanae, Ringo, and even myself. In fact, she seems to linger on me more than any of the others. Eventually, she actually does come to a decision. "Very well. Then we'll move forward with that plan," She says simply. I resist the urge to fist pump. "What is your next step?"
Right. Arguing for the plan is one thing, we still have to actually make it happen. Well, Reisen was the first lead that we thought of, so let's keep going logically with that. "It's early afternoon now, right?" I ask, just for clarification. I think Ruukoto said the time when she woke me up, but that was a while ago. Kanako nods at me, so I keep going. "So Reisen will be in the village delivering medicine right now. We could go there directly and talk to her."
"But that means dealing with the potential problems of going into the village again," Yuzuki points out. Oh right, last time we went it didn't go the best for some of us. There was an angry mob involved. "Ringo's reputation aside, it wouldn't exactly be subtle. We could be seen by any number of people, and I wouldn't know who to avoid."
"Then we wait until evening, right?" Sumi suggests. "If she doesn't hit the bar after work or anything, that'll be the best chance to get her alone."
"It's still four or five hours until then," Chiyo points out. Right, that's a lot of time to burn still.
"It's five days until the day of the next full moon," Suwako reminds us. Considering how much I've been worrying about what's going to happen then, I don't exactly need to be told that again, but I suppose it might be good for everyone else to hear that. "You'll have to secure something by then, but you should have more than enough time to not need to rush out right now if it's a bad idea."
"Gonna take me a few more hours, maybe some more, to get the portal turned on anyway," Rika quips, already inching away from the meeting. "Can I get back to work by the way?" Well at least she had the decency to ask.
I'm okay with just letting her go, but before I can tell her that much, Chiyo asks a question. "How long will tuning the portal take?" Oh, right. That's probably something worth knowing.
"Once you got whatever doohickey? Couple hours probably," So at the very worst, we'll want to have something we can use to tune the portal within the next one-hundred and twenty hours. That's exactly five Earth days, which would put us in the early afternoon of the full moon, and give Rika the remaining time to set up the portal. "The more time I have to mess with it the better though. Could get the tinkering more accurate depending on how it actually works."
"I'm still amazed at how well you can predict this without having even turned it on yet," Rikako, lets out a small sigh, but does sound appreciative of Rika's apparent skills. "You'll have to show me your notes."
I miss the next part of the exchange to a random coughing fit. Ugh. Ouch. I'm feeling a little bit worn out from having to participate in the discussion as much as I did. It'd be much easier if I could just stop being sick. That'll take time though. Do I really want to miss a chance to get things done? The others will probably understand, but...
[ ] Stay around the plant - [ ] Maybe I should rest up until later in the evening. - [ ] I could take some more medicine, then spend some time with... (who?) [ ] Leave the plant - [ ] We should find Reisen sooner rather than later. Let's go to the village. - [ ] Ringo went to a doctor earlier today. I'm feeling up to going now if I can just get a bit of money together. - [ ] I think I'll go... (Write-in, Where?)
Also if you want anyone specific to come with you on whatever you do, feel free to specify.
So! You have a plan now. That's something. Obviously there's going to be some steps in the middle between now and using the portal, but don't feel like you're not allowed to do side stuff in the meantime too. Use your free time or blow forward toward the end goal. Up to you.
[X] Stay around the plant - [X] Maybe I should rest up until later in the evening.
Well, I am feeling better compared to this morning, that's true. It's nowhere near me being in top form though. At least it sounds like we'll have to wait for a while even if we were to somehow get what we need from Reisen immediately. Even though we could rush and try to get it done quickly, we don't have to.
So with that being the case, we might as well take this free time for what it is, and do what we want with it. I could spend the time talking to somebody, trying to get a better look at the plant, or even going to the doctor, but all of that sounds like a bit much for me right now. I don't know a lot about being sick, but even I can guess that the best way to get better is do what my body is asking me to do. Sit down, rest, and take it easy. The only awkward part is actually bringing it up.
"So um, with Rika needing a few more hours, and the fact cough the fact that Reisen is going to be working for a few more hours, I guess that gives us some free time?" I ask, although Rika herself doesn't even appear to be concerned with the conversation anymore. She's already walking out the door. Well, I wasn't really asking her specifically anyway.
The one person I was (more or less) asking doesn't look too thrilled at the idea. "Hm, I suppose so," Kanako reluctantly agrees. "Although I would encourage you to use this time productively."
"Ehhh, ordinarily I would be all about going to the village right now, but Seiran might be right about taking it easy," Ringo backs me up, as usual. Thanks for that. "If we went to the village right away, who knows who would see us or hear us talking about things. This is supposed to be the low exposure plan, so we should treat it that way," I notice that Ringo avoids mentioning the possibility of getting run out of the village again. I wonder if she even acknowledges that she did anything wrong or not. "Plus, Seiran's sick, in case you haven't noticed."
Kanako glances over at me and I look away, slightly embarrassed. Obviously I'm not sick on purpose, but I really do hate inconveniencing people and/or plans. "I see. Not much that can be done about that then," She at least seems a little sympathetic. It's just that, like it or not, we're on a deadline either way. "I assume you've already been to a doctor?"
"Ringo went earlier and got me some medicine," Some really nasty tasting medicine, but beggars can't be choosers I suppose. "It's been helping, but um... Yeah. If we have a chance to rest that might also help too."
"Very well. This meeting is adjourned then," Kanako decides, a few people being shuffling about with activity as she continues. "I would recommend that you reconvene in about four hours and head out then. That should give you time to reach the village before sundown."
"Hey big boss lady, they're not gonna know when four hours have passed without a clock or something. Actually, I got a couple of things like that I wanted to talk to you about," Ah, it sounds like Suwako is going to bring up those concerns that I talked about earlier. Well, I don't exactly have to stick around for that, and I might feel a bit less like I'm being a bother if I didn't. I stand up, along with most of the other rabbits. Oddly enough, Ringo stays seated, just nodding to the others and myself as I glance at her questioningly. I guess she's staying here for now.
Aside from Ringo and the goddesses, everyone else steps out into the hallway. Rikako quickly moves deeper into the plant, probably toward the lab or wherever Rika has already left to. The rest of us rabbits (and Sanae) stop and look at each other. "So, anybody got any plans?" Sumi asks. "Aside from sicky that is. She's going back to bed or I'm throwing her in there," Hey, you don't have to force me, and don't call me sicky!
"Perhaps I should see if I can get some clarification on what exactly we need to ask Reisen for," Yuzuki considers out loud, glancing over in the direction Rikako is leaving. "Rika wasn't exactly clear on that point."
"Doesn't seem like she's clear on much," Chiyo comments with a smirk.
"Rika is just a little bit hard to talk to at times," Sanae has a difficult smile on her face. Right, didn't she say something about that when we were first talking about the people that live down here? Maybe Sanae doesn't get along with Rika all that well or something.
"Good on Yuzuki for volunteering to do it for us then," Sumi moves on, looking at Sanae and Chiyo next. "What about you two?"
"I have to get back to the shrine. This whole meeting was basically my break," Sanae answers. Right, I guess shrine maidens only get so much time for secret plotting during their busy work of sweeping and um... Whatever else they do. "It's not like I have to be at the shrine all of the time, but well, it is my job."
"Hm, can I come?" Wait, Chiyo's asking that?
"Eh?" Sanae seems about as surprised as the rest of us, but recovers a bit more quickly than I do. "Sure! It might be a little dull though," She answers happily. "Oh, and I might need you to hide for a bit if we get any visitors," She adds. Right, we are youkai after all. Though I would imagine any human who made it all the way up the mountain would beyond the point of finding someone like Chiyo intimidating. Not my call though.
"Bah, you guys are boring," Sumi scoffs. I'm sorry that I'm sick? There's only so many things I could do, and I doubt that Sumi would find any of them entertaining.
I notice Yuzuki rolling her eyes. "Oh, and what are you going to do then?" She asks.
Sumi holds up one finger for a moment, then looks unsure of herself. She glances down the hallway one way, then the other. Finally, she shrugs. "Whatever I want."
Of course. Why would we expect anything different?
As for me, once all of us had gone our separate ways, I headed back upstairs to the dorms. I noticed a couple of some kind of youkai using the kitchen on the way back to my room, but didn't stop to talk. They barely paid me any mind, and I'm perfectly okay with that. I don't need to get in their business any more than they should get in mine.
Hm. When I enter Ringo and my dorm room again, it's pretty clear that Ruukoto actually did a pretty decent job. The door and desk have both been replaced with new ones, the sheets and bedding on the beds have all been straightened up, and even the containers Ringo had been storing mochi in before she ate it all are now in an orderly row directly underneath the far bed. The only thing that looks slightly off is the three bullet holes still in the ceiling... Ugh, well at least you won't really notice those unless you're actually looking up there at them. I only found them just now because I knew they would be there.
That does bring up a slight concern though. I'm going back to sleep again. Not only that, but I only have around four hours to spare. That means I can't take a pill even if I wanted to. I might be adding to the number of marks on the ceiling soon, and there isn't really anything that I can think to do about that. The only real bright side is that nobody should be around to get hurt by it, but...
I almost sigh again, but stop myself. That's not productive. Let's think about this differently. Try to think about how I could be proactive about this. Suwako suggested that I should either get somebody to have a real look at me, put real work into working on controlling my powers, or just keep taking my pills so I don't have to worry about this stuff while we're already busy getting back to the Moon. Although there was a bit more to it than that, and the issue is going to come back up later if I were to (hypothetically!) stay here on Earth. If I just pick one of those options, it at least gives me a plan of attack for the future. That might not help me at this exact moment, but it should at least give me a piece of mind that progress is being made.
------- [ ] Plan to work on my powers when I have time [ ] Plan on finding someone who can find out what's up with my powers [ ] Plan on taking my pills again -------
Right. With that decided, I fall onto my bed. Really it's both mine and Ringo's bed I guess. Whatever. That's a pointless distinction.
Anyway, I'm really glad this thing is comfy. I've already spent a surprising amount of time in it despite only being here for less than a day. Can't imagine how bad things would be if I had been sick back at camp. Stuck in a cot for however many extra hours I've slept today? No thank you. This bed on the other hand... Well, I'm pretty sure I can fall asleep pretty easily here.
It's a beautiful day here on the Moon, and I'm sure it will continue to be a beautiful day for many more of those other kind of days. That's always great, because it means that we don't have to leave the beach until we want to. No need to worry about assignments or missions. Just some fun in the sun. Can I just say that Sumi's looking really good in that swimsuit? I don't even know where she got it from, considering we're not supposed to... Who cares? Beach time.
"'Eyo bitches," Sumi calls over to me and Reisen while she reclines in an oversized beach chair. "Hope you don't mind that I brought my own bitch," Suddenly, Yatsuhashi is sitting there with her.
"Are you sure you should be calling her your bitch?" I ask back. Ew, saying that word feels gross. I'm supposed to be a good girl, I shouldn't say stuff like that.
"I'm fine with it," Yatsuhashi answers. Huh, you know I don't remember exactly what Yatsuhashi's voice sounds like, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't supposed to be exactly the same as Sumi's. "She helped me so much with my concert and everything..." Yatsuhashi trails off, looking at Sumi adoringly.
You know, I don't remember that happening, but I feel like I might have heard something about a concert or something at some point? Well, if it helped Sumi with her relationship, I guess it must have been worthwhile. I'm still kind of curious about it though. "When was tha-"
The ground shakes, but for some reason the sea stays completely still. I guess that's why they call it the Sea of Tranquility, am I right?! Guys? Hello? Is this thing on? Please clap.
I'm more concerned about what made that sound or what made the ground all shaky. I stand up from my beach towel, already forgetting about Reisen or Sumi or whatever not Benben's name was. I'm a bit preoccupied when I realize what's going on.
Oh of course. We're not on the Moon. This is just a big dango.
And what happens to Dango?
Ringo eats them.
So of course the giant Ringo in front of me (us?) took a big chomp out of the ground in front of us (me?). I know, of course, that the giant gaping chasm of no-longer-dango will do nothing to abate Ringo's hunger. She will consume it all. All the dango. All the Moon. SHE HUNGERS.
Oh dear, now it's dark. Not as wet or gross as I was expecting. In fact it doesn't seem like this is the inside of a mouth at all...
Oh, hello Chiyo. I would greet you, but I can't see right now. Sorry. I don't mean to be rude.
"Hey. Hey. Hey. Hey. Hey. Hey. Hey."
Please stop poking my face. Please stop bugging me. I hate bugs. Why are there so many bugs on Earth? Oh, wait, that must be it. Chiyo's a bug. Yup, there she is. A tiny little bunnyfly buzzing around. She keeps poking me in the face though. That's rude. You have my attention, I just can't do anything.
"Pay attention to meeeeeeee! I just want something to dooooo~~~!" That's not my job Chi. You need to find something fun to do on your own. And bugging me DOESN'T COUNT. If it helps, I would be willing to hug you if you would just STOP. Argh, I can't make her stop. Where is my hammer?
"I'll save you!" There's a comical sproinging sound as a sensation of weight returns. I've landed on something sticky and bouncy. I still can't really see anything other than the Chiyofly around me. Maybe if I look around... Wait, is that...? It's Yamame! She swings down dramatically on a line of web. W-wait, why is she dressed in a bikini like she's going to the beach too? She wouldn't have been on the dango Moon! She's too busy here, catching all the tiny Chiyoflies! Gosh, I hope she's not going to eat them.
"Seeeeiiiran," O-oh! Uh, uhm, um! Yamame, instead of doing anything about Chiyo, suddenly tackles me. I'm pressed down onto the web, causing it to bounce up and down what seems like almost a meter. Woah! This is fun, but there's a bit too much movement. Also why is Yamame on me?! She's um... Really close. All of her. All lots of her. Her chest and um...
Are you really going to do this right now with Chiyo watching!? "I'm going to eat you uuuuup," APPARENTLY SO.
There's a sudden loud tearing sound. It sounds like paper, which doesn't seem like it should be right, but I'm not one to question these kinds of things. The web collapses and I feel myself falling.
... Wow this is a long drop. Where am I going again?
Okay, at first I was a little bit panicked, but now I'm just bored. I've been falling for a solid few minutes. I don't even feel like I'm falling very fast. Experimentally, I try spinning around in the air. Oh hey, that was easy. Actually it was so easy that I can't stop now.
I continue falling. Falling and spinning.
"No, stop, stop stop. You're doing it all wrong," I suddenly jerk to a halt, somehow completely upright and back on solid ground. Oh hey, this is Hina's shrine. "I know we can't do anything about your moment of inertia, but please try to control yourself better."
Err, what? I turn at the voice currently criticizing me over something. Okay, right. It's Yuzuki. Head shrine maiden for Hina Kagiyama. Of course. She's even wearing the uniform, although I think it looks a bit too much like Sanae's. Shouldn't she have changed it to be more in line with Hina's style?
"Why can't you be more like the others?" She asks me, sounding completely exasperated while she gestures over beside the main shrine building, now somehow made even smaller than it was before. I see Hina, Sanae, Rikako, and Tewi all spinning in place. Wow, look at them go! They're not getting dizzy or anything. Just continuing to spin. "You need to keep the linear velocity of each of your limbs constant, otherwise you'll generate too much torque!" Yuzuki insists. Right, sorry, sorry. "Ugh, we'll never get to the Moon like this, right Rika?" Wait, weren't we just on the DangoMoon?
Rika looks up from the location where she's sitting, apparently unconcerned that that location happens to be in the middle of a stream. She considers Yuzuki's question for a moment, then furiously begins tracing what are probably equations into the dirt with her finger. After a few more moments of intense calculation, she looks up again. "No."
"See!" Yuzuki demands. Okay, fine. I'll do better. Not my fault I don't know physics. Maybe the problem has to do with my balance or something. If only I had something I could hold in my...
Wait, I know!
Just need to reach out and...
Urgh, why did I put it so far away from me?
There we go!
Once I have my hand on my mallet, I pull it close to me. This feels much more right. I should be able to help us get to the Moon with this. Step one is spin, right? I can do that. I can do anything with my mallet!
Spin, spin, spin...
I wake up on my own, no annoying sounds or people barging in, just me waking up of my own volition. It would feel pretty nice if I wasn't so confused.
What in the HELL was that?
Ugh, okay. It's true that I was the one who said I was curious about what my subconscious would do now that I'm not on pills anymore, and I guess that was strictly better than the nightmares that make me shoot stuff but um... Seriously. What?
And I just noticed that I'm actually cuddling with my mallet right now.
Great. I love waking up feeling like a weirdo.
Bleh. Well, at least I don't feel quite as sick as before. In fact, once I get up and get some more medicine I should be good to go for the rest of the day. Er, after I figure out how much of the rest of the day is left that is. From how groggy I feel, I don't think that was a short nap, but I doubt that the others would let me sleep long enough that I would miss the time that we were supposed to leave.
Hm, no way to know other to get up and check I suppose.
I stretch a little bit as I get up, then leave the room and head to the common area. The place isn't completely deserted. I notice a couple of what I would guess are kappa reading over in the reading area, but chose to keep to myself while I'm getting some medicine out. Looking in the refrigerator, I find it once again, only this time I notice there's a second post it note attached aside from the one that just has my name on it.
I'll come get you when it's time to go, just chill out until then. Hope you feel better soon! -Ringo
Fair enough I guess. Probably better for me to stay in one place rather than try to gather the others up on my own. I'll just drink some more of this stuff, then wait it out. I've slept a lot already, and don't really feel tired anymore. Hopefully it won't be too much longer until it's time to head out and get things done.
Eugh! Gross. Not only the medicine itself, but drinking it right after first waking up from a nap. That gross post-nap taste was still in my mouth, so I got a double dose of ick. Well, at least most of my symptoms should start clearing up now.
My internal clock tells me that I've been waiting something like a half hour by the time that Ringo knocks on the door to our room. I could be a little off about that though. My sense of time isn't exactly perfect. "Yo, how you feeling?" She says happily as she walks in.
What, no comment on the fixed door or desk Ringo? Well whatever. "Much better actually," There's still a tiny bit of tickling in the back of my throat, but I haven't been coughing or anything. My head doesn't hurt either. "I should be good to go tonight."
"Great, really glad to hear it!" Ringo sounds completely sincere in that, though I guess there's no reason why she wouldn't be. "I haven't grabbed anybody else to get going yet though, you want to do that now?"
"Sure," I get up from where I had been sitting on the bed and slip my socks back on. "Were we all going to go for this, or just some of us?" In all likelihood, this mission is going to be pretty simple. We're just going to talk to Reisen and ask her for some information. It's not like she's likely to have something that's magically connected to the Moon sitting in her pocket right then.
"Not sure yet. You wanna go over that now?" Ringo responds. Wait, what's complicated about it that she needs help? Ringo looks at me, probably catching the confusion on my face before continuing. "Well mostly it's just that we're gonna have to be upfront with Reisen now, you know? She seemed to want to avoid involving other parties when we talked to her, but now we've gone and spilled the beans to Kanako and Suwako."
Oh right, I had forgotten about that. Reisen (or more likely her boss) had wanted to keep this as a Moon only problem. "It wasn't really possible to not involve someone else though."
"And I agree with that, yeah, but Reisen might be unhappy," Ringo continues. "I was thinking that it might be a good idea to maybe have somebody from the Moriya shrine with us to help smooth things over. Suwako and Kanako are both pretty good at negotiating stuff, and Sanae... Well, she's enthusiastic at least."
Hm, I can kinda see the point there. It's kind of hard to guess whether Reisen would appreciate having somebody official to talk to or not though...
[ ] Bring Kanako along [ ] Bring Suwako along [ ] Bring Sanae along [ ] Keep it to just a meeting of rabbits
Also if you have any rabbits in particular you want to bring along, you can specify that too. Otherwise it will just be whichever ones want to.
I kind of feel bad about the whole 'Seiran got sick' plotline NRFB gave us because all it basically resulted in was several updates of everyone voting 'Go back to sleep until you're feeling better', including myself.
[X] Plan to work on my powers when I have time [X] Plan on finding someone who can find out what's up with my powers
[X] Keep it to just a meeting of rabbits
Yeah, it's a hard guess to make. I just don't know Reisen well enough to be able to say whether she would react positively to someone from the Moriya shrine being there or not. If we keep it to rabbits only, she should be at least as cordial as she was last time we met up. Whether she remains that way or not... Well, I don't think she's the type to do anything drastic anyway. As long as we explain ourselves properly.
"Let's not bring any of the Moriyas for now," I tell Ringo. "We should at least be able to handle explaining the situation on our own. We can always have Reisen meet up with one of the goddesses later if it seems like a good idea."
"Sure, sure," Ringo doesn't really sound like she cares that much either way, but that's just normal Ringo tone I guess. "Just the two of us then?"
"We probably won't actually need numbers just to meet up with Reisen, so maybe?" The other three are all scattered in random locations as it is. Gathering them up will just take more time. "Well, at least Yuzuki isn't too out of the way. We could check if she wants to come along."
"Yeah, she'd be handy to have around," Ringo agrees. I wasn't going to say it out loud, but I was thinking that too. Meeting up with someone is much easier when you have Yuzuki around to tell you where that someone is. Of course, there's more to her than her powers though! I didn't mean it like that! If Yuzuki doesn't want to come along, I won't make her or anything. Her powers, while useful, are kind of a sore spot sometimes. I can definitely relate.
Although, given what Suwako said earlier. Maybe I should change that. At least about myself anyway. Like she said, I've had problems with my bullet dimension whatever powers for decades, but haven't spent any time actively attempting to control them by my own will. It's like I've been ignoring a part of myself for a really long time just because it was unpleasant and potentially dangerous. Okay, the latter part of that is reasonable, but the former isn't. I really need to do something about that. Whether that's working on my own, getting help from somebody, either would work. I just need to actually do something.
That'll come later though. For now, we have a rabbit to find.
Luckily, Yuzuki is all too happy to agree to come along. It seems like she had kind of run out of interesting things to talk about with Rika and Rikako quite a while ago. At this point she was mostly just sitting around and watching them work. I get a look at what they're doing to the portal and um... Are all those parts really supposed to be out of the casing like that?
Well whatever, they're the scientists. We have to trust in them figuring things out.
The three of us rabbits elect to not try and find Sumi. She could honestly have gone anywhere during the several hours of break, and we're on limited time to get to the village. Anyway, Sumi knew that this was the next thing on our to do list. If she had wanted to come along, she should have made herself available. I might be a little bit worried about none of us knowing where she is, but there's nothing we can do about that right now.
We leave the plant through the staircase and fly out the hole in the ground entrance. Ugh, it's only been around twenty-four hours since I had last seen the sun, but if anything that makes it weirder. The last time I was above ground it was evening, and now here I am looking out at it being evening again. It's like we were in an entirely separate world for a while, and no time passed out here. Or something like that.
Deciding it won't take too much time to at least check on Chiyo, we take a quick detour up and around to the Moriya shrine. Once she notices us, Sanae happily waves us down from where she and Chiyo are sitting on the front steps of the main shrine building. It looks like they had just been relaxing and talking, since there aren't any shrine patrons around. Oh right, Sanae was pretty curious about us being aliens, wasn't she? I wonder what all her and Chiyo talked about.
"Nah, you guys can handle it," Chiyo declines the invitation to come along quickly after we give it. I can't say it's all that unexpected. "Good luck though," She adds, not even getting up from her seat on the stairs. Well at least she seems to be pretty relaxed here with Sanae. That's good.
"Well alright, but make sure you don't stay out too late, okay?" Yuzuki cautions. Sumi is one thing, but there actually would be a real issue if Chiyo got lost again. "Making your way back down to the plant when it gets dark could be dangerous."
Chiyo rolls her eyes. "I'll be fine mom," She calls out unenthusiastically. Yuzuki huffs in annoyance, but doesn't jab back.
Sanae laughs a little bit at the exchange. "Don't worry, I'll be off work soon. I can help her get back if it gets too dark," She assures Yuzuki along with the rest of us. After a split second, Sanae's face lights up with excitement. "Oh! Actually, maybe you could come back and pick her up, then we could all have dinner together? We were already planning on having hot pot, so there should be plenty to go around."
It sounds good to me, although I think it might be us imposing on them a little bit. Even if she says that she'll have plenty of whatever this 'hot pot' stuff is, it's still going to be us eating her food. I don't think she knows anything about Ringo's appetite either. Heck, Sanae didn't even clear it with the goddesses beforehand. She might just be eager to spend more time around 'aliens' or something. "Maybe," Ringo answers before I can, although echoes the not-conclusion I had come to. "We still have to see how this whole Reisen thing goes. You don't have to wait up for us or anything."
Sanae nods, but still looks a little excited. "Alright, good luck! Hopefully we'll see you later!" She says cheerfully. Man, even if she treats us a little strangely, Sanae really does seem like a genuinely good person.
Once we leave the shrine, the flight over is mostly pretty quiet. Yuzuki makes a point to ask me about how I'm feeling, and I reassure her that I'm fine, but that's about it. Actually, that reminds me that I still haven't really told Yuzuki about what was going on last night with me, Ringo, and Sumi. In fact, I haven't even really thought about what all I want to tell her! Ugh, that makes me feel a little guilty. Most of the time, our unit doesn't keep very many secrets from each other. Maybe that was more a side effect of having our comms before though. Being able to communicate telepathically had some good parts and some bad parts to it, but I can't deny that it was at least handy to keep everyone on the same page.
By the time we reach the village, the sun has just about set. We land near the place that we found Reisen last time and start waiting. It occurs to me that there's a chance she might have gotten done earlier today and we might have missed her, but we don't have any way to confirm that other than to wait and hope.
You know, it kind of feels awkward to just be loitering around the outside of the village like this. Not that I have any better plan of course. Yuzuki isn't familiar with the area, so we have to stay nearby enough that she'll still notice Reisen whenever she (hopefully) leaves the village.
Okay, seriously, I know that waiting is an essential part of missions like this, but does it have to be so nerve wracking?
"Hey, maybe we shou-"
"She's coming," Oh, alright. Right on cue then. Just when I was starting to worry about what we were going to tell the goddesses when we returned without having even found Reisen, Yuzuki notices her. That's a relief. It looks like we either got lucky twice or Reisen actually does have a pretty well defined schedule.
A minute or so more of waiting is all it takes before we finally establish a visual. She's still wearing that same disguise thing as last time, but of course that isn't going to fool us. If anything, doesn't being bundled up like that just make her more noticeable? I guess it at least hides her ears, which is probably the point, it just seems like wearing all of that while also lugging around that big medicine case backpack thing would be uncomfortable. I guess it wouldn't be any worse than some of the drills from back in basic though. She's probably fine.
We let Reisen make some distance between the village and herself before we make a move. No reason to be close enough that anyone walking into or out of the gates could happen to catch some of our conversation. Once she's suitably far away and into more of a wilderness-ish area, the three of us move to intercept.
We try to make ourselves obvious enough that we don't startle Reisen or anything, although she still looks a little bit nervous in the split second before she realizes it's us. I wonder how dangerous her commute is. Although if it was too bad, she probably wouldn't voluntarily walk like she does. "Yo, long time no see," Ringo naturally leads the way and greets Reisen casually. Not sure how appropriate it is, but whatever.
"Only three days," Reisen responds evenly, drawing her backpack slightly tighter against herself. "Did you guys find something out?"
"Yup, progress has been made," Ringo answers, glancing off to the side, away from the road. I notice a little bit of relief on Reisen's face, but it seems kind of muted. I really wonder why she looks so guarded. She was like that when we met before too. "You want to go talk about it somewhere?"
Reisen nods, and the four of us head off to somewhere comfortably far away from the road for privacy, but still comfortably close enough that the vegetation isn't very dense. Reisen uses the cover as an excuse to slip her hat off. Ringo leans herself against a tree, while the rest of us stand still. "Well, for starters then, we did find out how to get back to the Moon. There was more than one way actually. Not that they'd be easy, but we did figure out some possibilities and settle on the one that looked like it had the least baggage."
This time Reisen let's quite a bit more relief slip. Her shoulders slump a little bit and she gives off a little sigh. "That's actually really good to hear," She says. "What do we need to do?"
"Hold on a second, I'm getting to that. Kinda have to work past one other little problem," Ergh, now Reisen's back to being reserved again. You probably could have phrased that better Ringo. It sounds like we don't actually have a solution and we're just trying to cover it up by asking for help.
"What Ringo means is," I continue for her, just to try and help a bit. "While we do have a solution figured out, we didn't manage to do it alone. We needed to get some help, which I'm kind of under the impression you weren't crazy about."
Reisen frowns. "It was more Master that said it should be a Moon only problem," She explains. "Although I do agree with her that involving other people in this might not be the best idea depending on who it is. Who did you talk to?"
Okay, here goes nothing. "The Moriya shrine," Reisen immediately winces, pursing her lips as she considers my answer. Err, maybe I should explain a little bit further. "Uh, it's just that they seemed to have the most information and resources so um..."
Reisen waits for me to finish my point, but I kind of didn't plan one out ahead of time, so I stall a bit. When she realizes I'm not continuing, she responds instead. "The Moriyas... Well, Sanae was one of the people that Master considered to talk to about solving this incident, but she decided against it. She said that both of those goddesses are too prone to scheming. It's hard to make sure that they're not plotting something behind the scenes."
"Well we kinda had to talk to somebody, you know?" Ringo's arguing, but is thankfully taking a casual tone to it. "We couldn't have fixed the portal on our own, and it's not like we could fly to the Moon ourselves. We had to bring somebody in, so we figured it should be the people with the highest chance of making this thing work."
"No, yeah, I understand that," Reisen doesn't sound like she has much ground to stand on with her argument other than whatever she heard from Eirin before. I kind of wonder how much she's actually talked to anyone from the shrine before. "Kanako's reputation just makes me a little nervous."
"I agree with you entirely. Something about Kanako rubs me the wrong way as well," Yuzuki suddenly cuts in. Isn't that 'something' just the issue with Hina again? It was a bad first impression, but you kind of brought it on yourself. "She is domineering, abrasive, and difficult to talk to without feeling like you're being judged," Well okay, that stuff is kinda true. "It is obvious that she has her own priorities in helping us get back to the Moon, however, she has been completely straight and narrow in our dealings thus far."
Reisen looks like she might say more, but eventually just sighs and drops it. "I guess what's done is done. If you've made a deal with Kanako, that's what we'll have to go with." I can at least see why she's concerned, but at the same time, she had to expect something like this to happen. Like Ringo said, we couldn't have figured anything out just by ourselves. We had to talk to somebody.
"Yup, we'll make it work," Ringo ends that part of the discussion. Reisen doesn't exactly look thrilled, but she's not freaking out or anything. Maybe it would have been better to have one of the goddesses here to explain things from their perspective? Not sure. "Or at least we plan to. We kinda need some help from you to pull it off."
"Right," Reisen nods reluctantly, then once more, a little bit more resolutely. "Right. What do you need?"
"The portal can be fixed and used again to get us back into the Dream World. Some of Kanako's workers are looking over it right now," Yuzuki explains. Right, she was with Rika and Rikako for a while, so she should be able to explain it the best. "However, it needs something to point it in the correct direction. When it was turned off, it lost the Dream World location that it was tuned to. We need something that is strongly magically tied to the capital in order to point it back in the proper direction."
Reisen thinks that over for a second before responding. "And I guess you guys wouldn't have anything like that," I shake my head, although Reisen isn't looking directly at me so it's kind of a waste. She continues on anyway, I guess it was more of a rhetorical question. "The problem is that Master, the princess, and myself are all exiles. We aren't exactly swimming in piles of lunarian artifacts either."
Urk, right. I don't know the exact circumstances of how Reisen left the Moon, but given that she used a lunar veil, she couldn't have been able to bring much with her at the time. "But you can at least look into it, right?" Ringo asks, still sounding hopeful. "From what it sounded like, anything would work."
"That's only factually true," Yuzuki points out. "In practice, finding the capital on our own once we're inside the Dream World could be extremely difficult and extremely dangerous. We're better off the less time we have to spend wandering around, so the stronger the magical connection, the better."
Reisen's frown gets bigger again. Maybe it's not my place to say, but she really seems like she could use a chance to de-stress. I thought she might get better after last time we met with her, but she still seems pretty rigid and uncomfortable. "I can ask try asking the princess about it. If anyone is going to have things from the Moon sitting around, it would be her," Right, Princess Kaguya Houraisan. I don't really know anything about her other than that she was exiled a really really long time ago and that she lives on the Earth now. "That doesn't mean that she would just lend them out though, and there's a chance I might raise some suspicions by asking... Master might hear about it."
"Best case there is that you just get handed a solution. Worst case is that it puts Eirin on high alert and we can't, say, arrange for something magical to go missing from your place," Ringo, we all know what you're suggesting, you don't have to be sly about it. Breaking into Eientei to steal something magical because Reisen can't just get it herself... Yikes.
"That would probably be difficult to pull off even if Master wasn't worried about it happening."
"Well we do have training for that sort of thing," Ringo sounds nonchalant over something that I would consider stupidly difficult. "Maybe not the stealing part, but definitely the infiltration thing."
"It's still risky," Yes, exactly. Thank you Reisen. "Maybe I could try something else? Tewi and I could work on gathering information from people outside of Eientei. We'd be kind of limited, and might not come up with anything, but if we did it would probably be easier to get my hands on whatever turned up."
"Eirin could hear about that one too though, right?" I ask. It's not exactly clear what contacts any of the residents of Eientei have, but Eirin would probably hear about it if Reisen was doing a lot of investigation on her own, right? "Couldn't you just look for leads and pass them along to us? That'd put you at the least risk."
"True, but that would also limit me even more..."
There's a period of silence as we all think things over. Definitely some difficulty in assessing the risk/reward on these options. The more active Reisen is, the more likely she is to get caught looking into things. That's not something that any of us want, but we definitely all want progress, so... "W-well then at least we have some choices. Maybe we shou-"
... That's kind of embarrassing.
That deep, kind of scary sound just came from my own stomach, completely cutting off my train of thought and forcing everybody to stare at me. "U-Um..."
"Seiran," Ringo looks at me, suddenly serious. "Have you eaten anything today?"
"Err, now that you mention it..." I think the sickness was hurting my appetite for most of the day. I think I struggled down a few peaches a while ago? That's way less than a normal day, so even if food still doesn't sound that great, my body is still probably in need of it. I probably should eat something just to keep up my strength. "Not really?"
"Yeah, that's no good," Ringo shakes her head, walking over to me and putting a hand on my shoulder. "Luckily, Suwako and I got Kanako to give me some allowance. We can go grab something to eat right now if you want," She assures me, then suddenly thinks better of it. Wait, she got money from Kanako? I guess it's a good thing that I brought it up with Suwako then. "No, actually, it doesn't matter what you want. It matters what you need. You need food. We need to go get some."
H-hold on! "Wait, we're still talking to Reisen right now."
"Hm?" Ringo glances back at Reisen again, who is mostly just looking somewhat surprised at Ringo's sudden change of topic. "Yeah, but we were about to come to a decision anyway. There's not much to do after that. So, food, decision, in whatever order, but we should do both. And hey, we're near the village, right? Maybe we could eat there. Or we could try and find Mystia. She should be nearby too, right? Ah, decisions, decisions."
Ugh, fine. Ringo's practically salivating at the idea of eating out again, and I don't think I'm going to get her off this train of thought. I could maybe remind her that Sanae invited us to eat at the shrine, or that we still have rations and stuff back at the plant, but I think that's it. This is technically for my own good, and it's not like I'm against the idea of eating, we're just kind of busy at the moment. I still need to come to a conclusion on what we should do about Reisen and... Actually, maybe Reisen could join us?
[ ] Go somewhere nearby to eat - [ ] The village is right here... - [ ] Look for Mystia [ ] Head back to the shrine to eat [ ] Head back to the plant to eat
[ ] Invite Reisen to come along [ ] Let Reisen get back to Eientei
[ ] Have Reisen check around Eientei [ ] Have Reisen look for information elsewhere [ ] Have Reisen ask around and give you any leads to look into
>>27769 I'm okay with it. That last (fever) dream was fun to write at least.
[X] Head back to the shrine to eat [X] Invite Reisen to come along [X] Have Reisen ask around and give you any leads to look into
I'm feeling like aggravating Eirin any further is gonna be a bad idea, and I know that canonically there's at least one lunar artifact which exists outside of Eientei which could be used for our purposes, though getting that won't be any easier. Being nice to Reisen is good, and who could refuse a Moriyan nabe?
[X] Head back to the shrine to eat [X] Invite Reisen to come along [X] Have Reisen ask around and give you any leads to look into one of the points of choosing the portal plan was to not alert Erin as much as possible after all.
[X] Go somewhere nearby to eat - [X] Look for Mystia [X] Head back to the shrine to eat [X] Have Reisen ask around and give you any leads to look into
If it's up to me, and it sounds like it is, I would like to go for the option that costs the least and we're guaranteed to be welcomed to. I am a little concerned about bringing so many people when it sounds like Sanae hadn't even asked beforehand, but I guess I just have to hope that she'll work things out before we get there. "Remember that Sanae invited us back to the shrine later. We don't really need to eat right now," I remind Ringo, who nods a couple times in response.
"Right, right. Gotta go back and pick up Chi anyway, fair," Ringo agrees easily enough, then narrows her eyes slightly. "You're not getting away with not eating though," She adds. It's not like I was trying to make that happen anyway, it just kind of did.
"You two..." Yuzuki prods at us slightly. Right, we kind of got off the main topic, and our reason for even being here.
Both of us return our attention to Reisen, who appears to be simply watching us neutrally. Before I can continue the discussion on what exactly want her to do to help out with the Moon plan, Ringo starts talking. "Right, right. You want to come with us Reisen?" Well, okay, I did have that thought earlier, but that wasn't what I was about to say. Too late now though.
"Wha?" Reisen looks slightly surprised, and shrinks back slightly in response. "Come with you to-"
"To the Moriya's, yeah," Ringo ends for her, smiling as she walks over to our confused fellow Moon rabbit. "We're all gonna be working together on this thing, so why not try to play nice right up front? Sanae and Suwako seem pretty cool, and Kanako is fine as long as you know how to talk to her," Wait, really? Maybe I should ask Ringo how somebody is normally supposed to talk to Kanako if she's so confident.
"It's not exactly that," Reisen takes another half step away from Ringo, but seems to notice that she's being evasive and stops. "It's just that I do kind of have to get back to Eientei, so..."
"What, your schedule is so tight that you can't even stop and get a bite to eat after work?" Ringo asks. Actually, if that turns out to be the case, I feel a little bad for keeping her here to talk to us. Making her get in trouble with Eirin would be a pretty bad thing.
"Well, no," Reisen admits. "I've done things like that before. Master isn't that inflexible, but... I don't know. Going all the way up the mountain right now just sounds like a little bit much. It would be a bit tough for me."
I'm not sure if she's saying that because of the travel time or just because suddenly having to deal with both goddesses and their shrine maiden out of nowhere would probably be a little bit stressful. I know I would hate to have to unexpectedly meet with a couple of powerful authority figures after a full day of work. No, yeah, Reisen is being reasonable. While it would be nice to have her along, it sounds like dragging her all the way back to the shrine might be pushing it a bit.
Although, now that I think about it, maybe the other option would fit better. If we eat something small right now, Reisen can probably come along. It'll also have the extra purpose of lowering Ringo's appetite a little bit. So it'll be cheaper than eating a full meal, let us talk to Reisen some more, and keep Ringo from eating the Moriyas out of house and home? Sounds good to me.
"How about we just get something small to eat at Mystia's stand then?" I suggest. Yup, Ringo's already giving me an expression of dismay at the mention of a 'small' meal. "Then Reisen can head back to Eientei when we're done, while we go back to the shrine," Oh, that brightened her right back up. It's not exactly going to be two meals, but it'll at least be more than one. Ringo has nothing to complain about.
Reisen, for what it's worth, doesn't immediately reject the idea. She still seems a little bit wary, and almost looks like she wants to sigh, but she doesn't do that. "I suppose I can do that much," She agrees. Actually, why is she so reluctant? It's not like we're holding anything over her. It's more the other way around. If she really doesn't want to come, she can just say so.
Well, whatever. This is a chance to build some camaraderie. Maybe then Reisen can be our friend instead of just our ally who is clearly somewhat guarded about the whole situation.
"Alright, great," Ringo declares, spinning on her heel. "Yuzuki, if you would lead the way, we'll head over there right now!"
Yuzuki raises an eyebrow. "It's not like I'm going to know where Mystia's stand is located," Right, her powers don't make her a map or anything. She's only been to the area around the village once, and even then it wasn't near here. She's not going to know where to go any more than the rest of us.
"It's probably down the path that way, then hang a left," Reisen says, pointing back toward the path, further away from the village. Oh, so it sounds like she's been there before then. Good. At least we probably won't get lost or waste time getting there then.
"Cool," Ringo nods and gives Reisen a thumbs up. "Let's get going then!" She dramatically points the same direction as Reisen, but still waits until Yuzuki takes the lead to start walking. Once the two of them start moving, Reisen and I follow along as well.
Right, well, we have some time while we walk, so I might as well finish up that discussion we were having before my stomach so rudely threw everything off track. "So um, Reisen," I start, a little bit hesitant just because Reisen's expression is a passive frown right now. It clears up a little bit when I get her attention though, so that's probably a good sign. "I was thinking that it's probably best if you just look for some information and pass it along to us."
Reisen considers that for a moment, then nods in understanding. "I might not find much out on my own though," She adds.
"Not a big deal," Ringo assures her from a few steps ahead of us. "The point is to be stealthy about it. Honestly, we can look into it at the same time, but you probably have more contacts than we do. No harm in covering more bases at the same time. Put all our heads together, and even with the varying quality of said heads, we'll figure something out."
"I'm not so sure..." I have to agree. I'm kind of envious of how easily Ringo can just say that things will work out. I just don't share that optimism, and apparently neither does Reisen. "But alright, I'll ask who I can," She agrees.
"Hey, that's all we're asking," Ringo adds, turning her head back and showing Reisen a smile for a moment. When she turns back, she catches sight of our destination. Huh, that was a pretty short walk actually. "Oh hey, speaking of contacts that we have, here's one of ours."
Mystia has cleared up a small spot on the side of the road for her stand. She appears to still be setting up for the evening, but isn't so engrossed in it that she doesn't notice the four of us coming by. She quickly moves back into her stand, readying whatever she thinks she needs behind her counter. "Hey you guys, good to see you again!" She calls happily as we approach. "Oh, and Reisen too!" She adds enthusiastically once she sees our fourth member. "Heheh, what's the word for a group of rabbits again? I know a flock is a bird thing, and pack doesn't sound right."
"It's a herd," Yuzuki answers, brushing the paper screens out of her way and sitting down. The rest of us follow suit shortly after that.
"Right, you guys a herd now?" Mystia asks jokingly, but then gets a sour look on her face. "Ugh, no, makes you sound like farm animals, sorry. Let's just stick with friends then. You guys friends now?"
"Pretty sure we are anyway," Ringo says without even needing to glance at Reisen. Man, I really don't have her optimism. "We happened to meet up with her and Tewi while we were looking into other rabbits in the area," You know, that's not exactly a lie. It's drastically simplifying the situation, but it's not a lie. "She seems pretty cool by me, so I figured being friends would be good."
"That's my general opinion when she comes by too," Mystia laughs, you know, Reisen is right here. She might be purposely not really reacting to the conversation, but that doesn't mean they should talk about her like she isn't here. I know it's not mean spirited, they're even saying nice things, it's just weird, that's all. "Anyway, I'm still setting up, but I'm set up enough if you guys want something."
"Just the usual," Reisen says, sighing slightly in relief as she slips her big backpack box thing off and sets it down behind her.
"Can you do one of those eel bowl things again? That was good last time," Err, isn't that a full meal Ringo? You don't need that much when we're still going to be heading to the shrine after this... Although, it is Ringo. I'm sure she'll still have room regardless of what she eats here.
"Sure thing," Mystia begins shuffling around behind her. "And you two want veggies, right? Salads?"
"We don't need a lot, we can just split one," Yuzuki offers. I nod to her in agreement. One nice thing with Yuzuki is you know that splitting things with her will be a completely even fifty-fifty split. I'm not really feeling that hungry regardless of the noises my stomach might make, but I don't want to sit here and watch other people eat either.
"Coming right up then~!"
It's a short while later when all of us have our food. Yuzuki and I are slowly picking at our salads, while Ringo is devouring her eel bowl thing. Also it looks like Reisen's usual is just the grilled lamprey. Hm, so she's gotten used to eating meat too? Well I guess that's not too surprising given how long she's been down here.
Anyway, Mystia is happily chatting away with us between bites. "You guys actually caught me on the last day I'm gonna be set up for a while. Winter's coming up, and it's always hard to keep the lights on then. Plus, Choujuu Gigaku's got a concert coming up in a few days. Gotta start getting ready for that."
"Oh yeah, didn't you mention that at the meeting?" I ask, just to keep the conversation going. I don't really mind hearing about Mystia's life. Seems like she has a lot of stuff she's involved in. It's pretty interesting to me. Actually, Reisen looks kind of interested too.
"Yup, everything should be cleared to go, but we still gotta work on the actual setup and logistics stuff," Mystia rubs at one of her shoulders. "We've only got today and tomorrow to get everything together, because the show is scheduled for the day after that... Speaking of that, you guys coming?"
What? Go to a concert three days from now? "Err," Is all I can really say. There's a lot of complications in pulling something like that off. "We don't really have tickets," And getting them would probably not be in the budget.
"Really? Huh," What is she surprised about. "I know Yatsuhashi was begging her sister for some extra tickets to give to people. I figured it'd be Sumi and the rest of you," Wait, really? Sheesh, what has Sumi been up to while we weren't watching? "Well, think about it anyway. We already rock out pretty damn hard, and with this being the last show of the year, it's bound to be something you don't want to miss. Right Reisen?" Reisen jerks in surprise at suddenly being addressed. "You were at last year's end of year show, right?"
Reisen finishes the bite she was in the middle of, then composes herself quickly. "Err, yeah. Tewi had me come along with her. It was... Well okay, it was pretty fun," She admits. I can't really see Reisen attending a concert in my mind, but that's probably because all of my recent interaction with her has been kind of stressed by circumstances.
"See?" Mystia laughs happily. "Oh yeah, speaking of stuff you guys should come to, the next meeting was decided on too. Should be the night after the full moon. You guys coming by again? Last time was a lot of fun, and pretty profitable too, you know?"
Oh right, Wakasagihime mentioned something about needing to do some scheduling around that for whatever reason. Something about certain members having trouble with the full moon. I don't know. So it sounds like they settled on the day after we have to leave for the Moon. That's a bit of a shame, I wouldn't mind attending another meeting if we were here for it. "We might have something going on that day," Ringo answers. Again, not really a lie. "We'll definitely keep it in mind though."
"Meeting?" Reisen questions.
"Grass Roots Youkai Network," Mystia quickly answers. Reisen raises her head in in recognition for a moment, but quickly goes back to her food without commenting. Mystia continues, addressing Ringo and I again. "Actually, if you guys are all friends now, you should try and bring Reisen along too. I asked her to come to a meeting before but she said-"
"I said I'd think about it," Reisen interrupts curtly. I kind of have a feeling she didn't think about it very much. She just said she would in order to skip out on giving a real answer. In fact, she's still doing that now.
... You know, it might not be any of my business to think about this, but doesn't it seem like Reisen is isolating herself? If it was just us, it'd be understandable. She might just not trust us, or maybe she thinks we could tell Command where she is when we get back to the Moon, or she has some other issue with us. That's fine. It's just that now seeing her interact with Mystia... Heck, didn't even Tewi say that Reisen didn't open up to her very much? Maybe I don't know her relationship with Eirin or the lunarian princess, but it just seems like she doesn't talk to anyone. I've been like that before. It wasn't fun. Sure, Reisen and I are different people with different feelings, but still...
These kinds of considerations continue bothering me all the way through the rest of our half meal. Conversation is mostly led by Ringo (who of course finishes her food the fastest, despite having the most of it) and Mystia. Reisen remains reticent, while Yuzuki and I mostly listen, but chime in when appropriate. The conversation mostly drifts toward Mystia's business, and how she manages to keep herself afloat during winter when there are way fewer people out and about looking to stop at a roadside stand. It sounds tough. You know, I wonder if she ever considered going to the underground city during that time.
Wait, right, underground. That's an idea. I still have that hot spring coupon. Obviously I wouldn't be able to cover everyone with it, but maybe Reisen would still want to come along when we go? If we have time to go that is. And if Reisen would actually agree to it. And if we even have the money. Okay, there are a lot of ifs in the idea. It's still something. I might be grasping at straws here.
Once we've all finished up eating, Mystia takes our dishes and starts cleaning up. We pay her for the food and say our goodbyes. Mystia says we should think about attending the concert. Right, that's another thing to talk to Sumi about I guess.
Anyway, the four of us walk away from the stand. "So, how should I contact you if I come up with any leads?" Reisen asks once we're out of earshot from the stand.
"You could come by the shrine whenever. Sanae or somebody should usually be around," Ringo suggests casually. Reisen doesn't look very thrilled at the idea, and I'm pretty sure we all catch that pretty quickly. "Or you could ask Tewi to do it, I dunno. We could also come and meet you after work over the next couple of days."
"Right, that should work I guess," Reisen agrees. Wait, which one? Tewi or us? Probably us. Sheesh, is that another way Reisen is avoiding talking to people at the shrine? Or really just talking to people in general?
Again, this might not really be any of my business. She might think I'm being pushy for suggesting anything. But all I can think about is how, unlike the rest of us, Reisen actually lives down here, and yet she doesn't take advantage of all the fun stuff that Gensokyo has to offer. There are so many interesting people and things going on, and she's not at all involved.
Does she like things like this? I can't really tell. She doesn't seem that happy. If anything she just seems stressed. I'd like to help her if I can, but maybe I'd just be causing problems... I don't know.
[ ] Encourage Reisen to come to the shrine tonight. There's still time, and I'm sure the Moriyas won't mind. [ ] Encourage Reisen to go to the concert. She said she liked one last year, right? [ ] Encourage Reisen to look into the Grass Roots Youkai Network. We had a lot of fun a few days ago. Reisen probably would too. [ ] Encourage Reisen to come along to the hot springs. Of course, I don't know when we're actually going to do that, but... [ ] Encourage Reisen to at least come up to the shrine to share information that she finds. That shouldn't be too much. [ ] Leave Reisen alone. What she does is her own business.
Voting was kind of split, so I decided to do both, just with a bit less on the Mystia option. Hopefully doesn't upset anybody. Moriya shrine is still up next anyway.
Also fun fact, the word for a group of bunnies is "fluffle"
[X] Encourage Reisen to look into the Grass Roots Youkai Network. We had a lot of fun a few days ago. Reisen probably would too.
"You know Reisen," I make the decision to start talking a little more quickly than I normally would like. You can't blame me for feeling a little rushed though. Reisen doesn't really have any more reason to keep hanging around us at this point. She could easily say goodbye and start flying away any minute now. "I really think you should take Mystia up on her offer and try out the Grassroots Youkai Network."
"What?" Reisen looks at me, obviously slightly surprised that I'm bringing it back up. "Well... I said I would think about it."
"Yes, but..." I kind of wanted a more satisfying answer than that. Like I know that I can't force her, but promising to think about something is such a weak promise that it really doesn't carry any weight at all.
"Yes, but are you really going to?" Ringo continues for me. "We might not be around to bother you about it when the next meeting happens. If it's not us, and it's not Mystia, who's gonna be able to make you follow through?"
Reisen frowns. "That's not really..." She doesn't really finish her argument, just trailing off instead.
"I mean, it's not really our business yeah, we're just saying you should give it a shot," I'm really glad that Ringo is picking up my train of thought for me, even if I feel a little lame for having brought it up without being able to actually argue for it. "Honestly it's pretty easy. You just show up, do a little talking about whatever's going on in Gensokyo, then chill out. Talk to people, eat some food, get drunk. You know, the usual."
"Usual for some of us," Yuzuki mutters from off to the side, loud enough for the rest of us to hear it.
"Not nearly usual enough for some of us," Ringo corrects with a laugh. Not really sure if I agree there, but Ringo likes what she likes I guess. "But seriously Reisen, it can't hurt. It's a lot better way to communicate and socialize than the he said she said BS from comms too. Everybody we met there was nice and chill, and even if they're not... Well, I happen to know through various sources that you're good enough at danmaku to not have to worry," Ringo finishes with another laugh.
"Right," At first I'm not sure if Reisen appreciates the joke, but I catch a tiny bit of a smirk from her after a moment. "Well it's not exactly everyone else. Well, it kind of is but kind of isn't. The bigger issue is that I have responsibilities that I have to take care of at Eientei during the evenings. Getting time off means explaining my reasons to Master and well... You know."
I nod immediately. Trying to argue with lunarians is intimidating, so it's not something that I would opt into. Especially if that lunarian happened to be Eirin Yagokoro. That's just plain scary. "What, she's got you working full time in the village then coming back and working more?" Ringo asks, sounding slightly annoyed at the very idea. "If all you're making out of that is rent money, you really need to renegotiate something."
Reisen gets an uncomfortable look on her face and fiddles with her hair a bit. "Well, I do appreciate all of the things she teaches me too..." She mutters half-heartedly. "Anyway, I'll think about it, okay? I promise."
Well that sounds at least a little bit better than her first answer. Even if it's still just her saying that she'll think about it, her tone now is a bit more sincere and a bit less awkward. I suppose if that's the best we can do for now, it's fine. I do think that Reisen seems like she could use some more friends, just so she has outlets for stress relief, but I can't make her get them if she doesn't want to. "Hey that's all we're asking," Ringo replies happily. "That and you looking for info I guess."
"Right," Reisen gets back to a slightly more comfortable neutral expression now that we've moved on to a more official topic. "It's kind of unlikely that I'll get immediate results by tomorrow, but you can still come by after work and check. I can't really stop you, so it's mostly up to you."
"Sounds good," Ringo agrees. "We're not on a well defined schedule at the moment, so I'm sure somebody will be able to make it down here to see you for a bit," I'm not sure who she's going to stick on that job, but I guess it depends on what everyone is doing at the time. I'd like to be there if Reisen turns up something important, but it's kind of a shot in the dark whether that's going to happen on any given day. Just wait outside that gate then?"
"Yes, I always head back on that path."
"Sounds good, sounds good," Ringo, you already said that. You don't need to keep repeating it. "Well, we have another meal to get to, so we won't keep you around any longer if you wanna head back. Thanks for the assist."
"Right," Reisen glances over the three of us for a moment. "See you later then," She concludes before floating up into the air.
Alright, that's progress of some kind. Good. Now we just have to hope that things go well for her. I mean, I guess we could technically be on the lookout as well, but everything is still up in the air at this point. We have to find some way to pull it down, if that's not too weird of a use of a metaphor. I don't know, sounds okay to me.
After Reisen has gotten sufficiently high up in the air, Ringo stretches her arms and lets out a sigh of relief dramatically. "Aaaalright, with that done then, I think we all know what time it is. Time for dinner part two, the new and enhanced sequel. Tastes great, more filling, same great taste and all the rest of it. Let's get going before it's all gone!"
While I'm pretty sure that isn't a real concern, I don't think I'm going to be able to dissuade Ringo from it. Sheesh, you've already eaten one meal. Calm down.
The sun is already down by the time we get back up the mountain. Yeesh. It's a good thing that we're flying. I can't imagine having to try and make it up if we had to care about the terrain. Kind of makes me wonder what the Moriyas were thinking when they decided on the location of their shrine. Yes, I'm sure they get a nice view from up here, and it probably looks very impressive to be so high up, but it's not exactly practical.
Well, not my problem I guess.
Anyway, speaking of the shrine. I doubt that any of its occupants are going to be standing around sweeping at this point in the night, so we won't exactly have anyone around to tell us where to go. There are quite a few different buildings behind the main part of the shrine. Chiyo and Sanae should be in one of them, but...
"The one with lights on is a pretty good start, right?" Well, okay, yes Ringo. Just barging in seems a little rude though. That said, I would definitely prefer it to barging in and yelling "HONEY I'M HOME! WHAT'S FOR DINNER?" like Ringo just did.
Ugh. I'd like to apologize for her behavior, but there's nobody immediately available to do so to. This is just the entryway to what seems to be a fairly normal Japanese style home. In comparison to the rest of the shrine, or at least what we've seen of it, this actually feels a little bit cramped. Or maybe cozy would be the nicer word to use. I obviously can't see the whole place from just the door, but judging by just the cursory glance I got while flying in, this building can probably comfortably fit all three of the Moriyas, but only just barely.
Just as I'm about to ask Yuzuki where we should be going, Chiyo's head pops out of a doorway a bit further in. "Hey."
That's all the response that Ringo needs in order to happily charge into the building. "Hey yourself. You didn't eat everything already, did you?" She asks. "If you did I'll... Well I'm not the one cutting your checks, so I can't really dock your pay or anything but uh... Well I'll be annoyed," Chiyo looks entirely unthreatened and simply ducks back into the room while the rest of us follow after her.
We come to what looks like a simple living room, with a few pieces of well worn furniture situated along the walls, a currently closed door leading to the outside across the room, and a couple of tables lined up in the middle. Kanako and Suwako are both seated at the far end of the tables, furthest away from the door, while Chiyo sits down in the first available seat. Suwako casually waves, while Kanako nods at us.
"We're not too late are we?" Ringo asks, probably unnecessarily. I'm pretty sure if they had already eaten, there would be a bit more evidence of it. Right now, the tables and utensils laid out are still clean.
"Just about ready! Your timing was great!" Sanae's cheerful voice calls from somewhere down the hallway we just walked through. I guess she's the one preparing the food then. I try sticking my head back out into the hallway for a second and... Yep. That smells like food that's close to being ready to eat. I can't really pick out what it is specifically, but it definitely doesn't smell bad.
"Welcome," My attention is brought back to the table when Kanako starts talking. "How did your meeting with Reisen go? Did you manage to find her and negotiate a deal?" She asks us. Even while sitting, she somehow still kind of feels like she's lording over us.
"It went okay I guess?" I answer. Ooh, that's not the best response on Kanako's face. Probably should have been a bit more clear. "Reisen is going to look for leads that we can follow up on. We're going to meet with her every day to discuss options."
"Hmm," Kanako's expression clears up slightly, but not quite as much as i would like. "That doesn't seem very immediately actionable. I hope you have plans in the meantime, as well as backups if Reisen doesn't deliver. Perhaps you shou-" Kanako is cut off when she's hit in the face by a flying chopstick.
Suwako taps her other chopstick against the table impatiently. "Oh please, drop the business crap for a bit," She insists. "Let's just celebrate our new partnership tonight, we haven't had a chance to do that properly yet. You can get back to hounding them into productivity tomorrow if that's how you get your jollies."
Kanako frowns as she reaches to pick up Suwako's chopstick. She doesn't hand it back though, instead looking at it closely, considering something. "Perhaps I should hound you on your manners instead," She says slyly.
"Pfft, if you think I'm gonna apologize to get that back, you're wrong," Suwako grins back, looking even more mischievous than Kanako. "Try to keep it from me and I'll just go all native frog god on you. I got a pretty long tongue, you know?"
"... Oh yes, you definitely need some work on your etiquette," Kanako grimaces, placing Suwako's chopstick back in its rightful place. Wow, it looks like Suwako won that exchange pretty easily. It's kind of amusing to see Kanako have to back down like that actually.
"Anyway," Ringo finally steps inside the room and plops herself down at the table next to Chiyo. "Yeah, we're taking care of it. No reason to panic. Eating sounds way better than panicking in all situations."
"Excuse me!" Sanae is practically singing as she brushes past me and... Okay, Yuzuki is already out of the way. Once I've gotten out of her path, Sanae sets a large pot full of a whole bunch of different ingredients on top of the portable stove on the far table. "Everything's just about ready, I just need to take a couple more trips to grab all the ingredients then we can start, okay?" She's speaking to the room in general, rather than anyone in particular. Wow, she seems even more chipper than usual. I'd almost say it seems a bit overwhelming if she wasn't so obviously genuine about her happiness.
"Err, can I help?" I ask before I really think about it. I dunno. Something about Sanae's attitude just made me want to help out.
Hot pot, as it turns out, is a pretty fun way to eat. Once Sanae and I bring out a second pot full of stuff for the second portable stove, as well as a couple plates full of extra ingredients, this weird kind of mess of a meal quickly gets underway.
See, this is a whole lot less formal than anything that we would do on the Moon. Heck, it's a lot less formal than anything I would expect Kanako to want to be involved with too. Just keep the broth simmering, throw ingredients in a pot, sit around it, and pick out whatever you want to eat when it's ready. Definitely a lot less rigid and defined than a normal meal.
Actually, the fact that you're all grabbing food from the same place at the same time makes the whole thing rather social as well. There are arguments over who is taking all the meat (turns out it's Suwako, who jokingly tries to pin it on me instead), discussions over what all we're actually eating (I decline the chance to eat some egg, though at least I know what it is now), and requests for more ingredients (Chiyo keeps asking for more carrots to be added. Way to play into the stereotype). Combine that with how close we all have to sit in order to fit seven people at two small square tables, and the warmth of both pots constantly being cooked, and the whole thing just turns out to be rather comfortable. I can see how this would be a good way for all of us to get to know each other, or at least develop some casual rapport.
We get to hear Sanae talk about her day, and what all she does for the shrine. Likewise with the goddesses. We share some stories about all of the things that our unit has seen and done since we came to Gensokyo. It's all very casual and easy. Even Kanako seems pretty relaxed about things, although it might just be from Suwako obviously kicking her under the table on the one or two occasions that she obviously starts falling back into business mode.
The only bit of apprehension I feel over the course of the meal is that I'm still kind of sick during this, but everyone assures me it should be fine. I still try not to eat too much. I also use a separate set of utensils for picking out ingredients versus the ones that I eat with though. Hopefully nothing bad happens.
Anyway, it's probably one of the most enjoyable meals that I've had since we came to Gensokyo, and for a brief time it helps me feel a bit less worried about all the work that we have to get done over the next few days to make sure we can get to the Moon. It's nice. I'd like to do it another time. I guess us rabbits probably could if we all went back to the Moon together. Or if we all stayed here...
Well, that's still a decision I have to make, isn't it?
"So! I did say we were gonna do this properly," Suwako declares, returning from the kitchen after most of the ingredients have been exhausted, probably something like an hour later. She holds up her hands, each one carrying a bottle of sake by the neck. "Dunno how much you girls have been introduced to the culture of Gensokyo, but this is another part of how things are usually done around here."
Suwako sits back down in her seat, placing both bottles on the table in front of her with a soft thunk noise. The reactions from around the table are... Varied. Ringo's smirking eagerly, while Kanako seems quite content with the idea of starting to drink as well. Yuzuki and Sanae both look slightly uncomfortable, while Chiyo regards the bottles like you would a blank piece of paper. No real reaction.
As for me... Ugh. I'm not opposed to drinking, but I'm not immediately sold on doing it again either. We do have stuff that we should plan on accomplishing tomorrow. If Yuzuki and Sanae both don't drink, which it looks like they really don't want to, that's two (or possibly more) bottles between five people. That might be a little bit much? Those are pretty big bottles, and I don't know how alcoholic the stuff inside them is.
Although maybe it would still be okay, I'm not really sure. It definitely looks like Suwako is treating this as just a normal part of establishing a business relationship. If I'm reading it correctly, the Moriyas will probably be a lot better about not letting things get out of hand than the Grassroots Youkai Network was. Also, it might be good to do this just on the off chance that it helps us relate better with Kanako and Suwako.
"Um, I'm going to start cleaning up," Sanae says, standing and grabbing few random things off the table and taking them away, conceivably to the kitchen. I notice Suwako roll her eyes meaningfully at Kanako, who generally looks indifferent.
"I'll help too," Yuzuki promptly excuses herself as well, getting up to follow after Sanae. Right. I suppose that's an option then. Nobody is stopping any of us from getting up and leaving, rather than staying and drinking. It's all up to me, and I know that, but... I'm definitely feeling some peer pressure here.
[ ] Drink with Kanako and Suwako [ ] Get up and spend some time with Sanae [ ] Make an excuse and head back underground - [ ] Just relax in the plant - [ ] Go try and meet up with Yamame again
Stay smooth, stay calm. Not being lame here, just making a responsible decision. There's a difference. "I-I think I'll help out as well," Okay, that could have been worse. Only one stutter in the face of peer pressure. Fine, now just get up and move.
Honestly, I'm already sick. Even though I'm feeling much better compared to this morning, there's no need for me to stress myself out. I don't know exactly what drunk me would end up doing at the Moriya shrine, but why bother finding out? Yes, I know that it was fun a couple nights ago, but potentially dealing with the kind of fall out that could come afterward just doesn't sound worth it to me.
Ringo gives me a disappointed face as I stand up and grab a few of the remaining dishes from the table. "Aww, really?" I start to wonder why she'd be set on me in particular being here to drink with her, but then it hits me. Right, the liking me thing again. Still a little awkward to randomly remember that, but Ringo made it a point to tell me that I should act normal. Acting normal right now means not staying and drinking, I think. I nod toward Ringo, who's shoulders droop a little bit. "Well, hurry back?"
Oh. That's not really what I meant to imply by getting up to help, but I guess Ringo's just being hopeful. Well, no reason to crush her dreams. Maybe she'll drink enough that my absence won't matter. Err, not that I'm hoping for that. In fact it would probably be a bad thing for multiple reasons, but... Whatever. I try to ignore Suwako's knowing smirk as I head out into the hallway... Err, which way was the kitchen again?
After a couple incorrect guesses, I finally find what I'm looking for. The atmosphere in the kitchen is significantly more subdued than the living room or whatever we had just been eating in. Oh right, I can think of a couple reasons for that. Not just the smaller number of occupants here, but there's also who specifically those occupants are.
Sanae and Yuzuki. Right. These two still kind of have a thing between them, don't they? It's at least enough of something that they're not talking to each other at the moment. Sanae is occupying herself with washing some dishes, while Yuzuki simply stands around awkwardly. I guess this is the power of a bad first impression then. You know, originally, I didn't really hold anything that Yuzuki said against her. She was upset about the Hina thing, and she wasn't really saying anything that wasn't true. Now that we're actually working with the Moriyas though... Well, this kinda needs to get corrected. The sooner the better.
Well, if they're not going to talk, I suppose it comes down to me. "Do you need help with anything Sanae?"
Sanae cranes her neck around to look at me, apparently a little bit surprised that I've joined the 'not drinking' party as well. "Oh! No, it's okay. You don't have to worry about me," She assures me automatically. "E-either of you," She adds, with a little bit of hesitance.
"It's not so much about worrying about you specifically. It's more like we want to avoid any drunks," Not exactly helping here, Yuzuki. "That said, I would be willing to help you with the cleaning," Better, better. "You are missing several spots on th-"
"Ahem!" I clear my throat while making a few frantic gestures with my hands. Yuzuki notices them instantly, and turns to look at me, confused. You're not mending bridges very well here Yuzuki! "What she means is that she'd be happy to show you some techniques to make your cleaning faster and more efficient," That's a much more positive way to say it. It avoids sounding like she's criticizing Sanae's current work. "Right Yuzuki?"
"... Sure," Oh come on, don't give me a look like that. We both know you were going to be all unnecessarily fussy about things.
This catches Sanae's attention. She stops with what she's watching and turns to Yuzuki and I. "Techniques? Do they teach you that kind of stuff on the Moon too?"
Actually yes. Well, kind of. Part of it's that and part of it is Yuzuki being Yuzuki. Probably only need to share the former though. "We were in the military. Menial chores and stuff like that were pretty common minor punishments," I explain, completely truthfully.
"Huh," Sanae looks surprised. What, too mundane for your idea of aliens? "And you got punished often Yuzuki? You don't seem like that kind of person," Err, it was more like Yuzuki regularly volunteered for extra cleaning duties because the people who did get punished didn't do a good job but... "Oh I know! You had a nasty drill sergeant that was super mean to you! Just like in the movies! Alright maggot! Sound off like you got a pair! All that stuff, right?!"
"Err, not exactly?" What is she even talking about? Like, I'm not going to correct her, but that's partially because I don't even know where to start.
"Okay, I get it," Sanae nods emphatically, even though I'm still trying to parse what she's talking about. I don't think Yuzuki's any better off either. "I'd be happy to listen to any advice."
Well... Okay. I guess that works.
I excuse myself in order to grab the remaining silverware and food scraps. The plan, at least in my mind, is to let Yuzuki show Sanae some tips and tricks, and to hope that the two of them get along while they do it. That should get them talking. I don't think that either of them holds a personal grudge after all, they should be able to work things out naturally once they know there's no hard feelings. After a couple of back and forth trips to make sure everything (aside from the booze and things to drink booze from) is cleared out from where we were eating before, the plan thankfully seems to start working out. Sanae at least is rather happy about the arrangement, as well as with having someone helping her clean things up.
Honestly, I've never seen anyone (aside from Yuzuki herself I suppose) get so excited about cleaning. I guess that's just Sanae in general though. She seems to get caught up in things easily, but is obviously very genuine in her enthusiasm. I can appreciate that.
Once everything is cleaned up, I (unsurprisingly) elect not to head back to the room where everyone has already started to drink. Yuzuki doesn't look all that surprised about it, but still sees fit to comment on it. "Oh, you seemed into that party a couple nights ago."
"That just kind of happened," I answer vaguely. Would I still have drank if it hadn't been forced on me? Maybe. Not the point though. "Speaking of which, what happened with you that night? You just kind of disappeared as far as I know."
Yuzuki shrugs lightly, continuing to rearrange things in the Moriya's refrigerator. Err, should you really be doing that without asking? Sanae's too occupied with finishing up washing to really notice. "I just went back to camp at the point where it was clear we weren't going to be doing any more information gathering. I had planned to get up and go to Hina's the next morning, and I didn't particularly care for spending time around a bunch of drunks until they somehow forced me to start drinking myself," I'd like to think that that wouldn't have happened, but chances are good that, yeah, Suika would have eventually forced the issue.
"Ugh, I can relate to that," Sanae says without turning around toward the two of us. "Drinking is practically the national... Err, more like regional pastime here in Gensokyo. I had people bothering me to drink even before I was of age to start," She huffs in annoyance, letting the dishes she's currently working on rest in the sink. "At first I tried to go along with it, but... Well it was tough. I'm a lightweight. Reimu and Marisa would always get me drinking when I tried to hang out with them, then they'd make fun of me when I couldn't keep up. It kind of strained things."
"I would think you'd be fine with that kind of relationship being strained," Yuzuki remarks, finishing up with what she's doing. Okay, that wasn't as much rearranging as I expected. Maybe she's actually showing some restraint. Either that or the Moriyas somehow fit her organization scheme.
"It's... kind of hard to find friends that I can relate too otherwise," Sanae admits, a bit reluctantly. "The three of us at least have being incident solvers in common, and they're kind of nice most of the time otherwise, so..."
"Yeah, I can relate to that," Sometimes you get pigeonholed into a certain social group. N-not that I mind of course. I really like everyone in the unit. It's just that I kinda fell in with them. It obviously worked out well for me, but what if it hadn't? What if I had gotten stuck with people that I didn't get along with as well as I do with Ringo and the others? That's not so pleasant to think about.
"So what about you guys? Have you guys been in a group for very long?" Sanae finally turns back to look at us. Yuzuki looks a little annoyed at her leaving the dish washing job only partially finished, but doesn't comment on it.
"Decades," Yuzuki answers simply. I don't actually remember the exact year either. You could probably look up some paperwork somewhere that has that information, but does it really matter? "Since before the war at least," She adds.
"Wow... I'm kind of envious. Although I guess it doesn't quite live up to Lady Kanako and Lady Suwako. They've known each other for even longer than that," Sanae lets out a very tiny sigh, more like just an abnormally deep breath really, though there's no reason why she would have taken one of those. "It's kind of crazy for me as a human to get used to just how long gods and youkai live."
"Speaking of that," Yuzuki says, sounding like she just remembered something. "You say you're a human, but when we first met I thought I felt something unusual from you. It's the same kind of feeling that I get from a goddess, but not quite the same."
"Oh you can tell that?" Sanae blinks in surprise. "Most people just brush it off as me being a little strange, but I'm actually a living goddess. It's kind of hard to explain, and even I don't completely get it, but basically I'm descended from Lady Suwako, so I'm a goddess too. Technically."
Huh I hadn't even noticed anything that strange about Sanae (aside from the obvious), but I guess it was more something that Yuzuki somehow noticed with her powers. That's interesting, although I don't know anything about how succession or inheritance of goddess...ness works. "So does that mean that people pray to you too?"
Sanae looks slightly embarrassed at the question. "They technically could, yeah. I've been trained on what to do with faith, but it'd still be really weird to think about receiving it from people like that. For now I'm still trying to live my best as a human. If anyone did ever pray to me I would just pass it along to the real goddesses of the shrine. That helps the shrine out a lot more than me using it. Usually."
"Well, sometimes I do need to pull up a little bit of faith for a miracle during an incident or something. It's rare though. I am a perfectly normal girl something like ninety-nineish percent of the time," Well, I don't know about perfectly normal, but at least it seems like it's more accurate to think of Sanae as a human than a goddess. Good to know I guess.
Still, it's interesting to think that Sanae could be a lot more powerful if things were a little different. If she was just a little bit more selfish in asking about getting faith for herself, she wouldn't have to be a normal human. Well, I can't claim to know the specifics of her family situation. I'm sure there's a reason why she doesn't want to be a goddess, even though she totally could. Maybe they just don't get enough faith? I'll have to ask Chiyo if anyone actually came to the shrine today. It might be a little rude to ask Sanae directly.
My thoughts are interrupted by a loud bellow coming from somewhere else in the house. "Sanaaaaaaaaaae, couldja grab some more sake?!" Suwako sounds... A little bit rowdy. Wait, have they already finished both of the bottles she brought in before? That's probably not a good sign.
"Sure! Just a second!" As Sanae moves around the kitchen, grabbing out some more sake, I try to avoid thinking of the worst case scenario. No, Suwako probably just wants a different kind or something. Are there different kinds of sake? There must be. I'm not really knowledgeable in this kind of stuff. Yeah, let's just assume that everything is okay and that the four people in the other room aren't drinking super heavily.
When Sanae comes back, I decline from asking whether my assumption is correct or not. I would like to let myself believe, at least for a little bit longer.
"Anyway, what are your plans for the rest of the night?" Sanae asks, at least she still seems pretty happy when she comes back. That's a good sign.
"Err, I wasn't really sure," I admit. I'm pretty full of food now, but we still have a couple of hours at least until we'd really need to go to sleep, depending on when we want to wake up. The trip back down to the plant will take a little while, sure, but that's not really something that we need to plan around. Our schedules are kind of weird now that we have less concrete stuff planned out ahead of time.
Sanae claps her hands together with a smile. "Well, if it's okay with you, I wouldn't mind talking some more, maybe going for a walk too," She the moves on to looking a little bit sheepish. "I'm actually kind of interested in hearing about life on the Moon, if that's okay?"
Eh, well... It's kind of not okay? We're probably not to talk about being from the Moon. Or at least we weren't. It might be kind of silly to still bother with keeping secrets now that we're as deep in this alliance thing as we are.
Sanae might have noticed my hesitance, because she quickly moves on to something else. "Or if not, that doesn't work. I'd be fine talking about anything else you wanted to bring up too," Hm, actually I do have a couple of questions. Things like where I could learn about danmaku more quickly or where I could find someone to look at what's going on with my powers. That's kind of important. Then suddenly it looks like Sanae's struck with another realization. "Oh! Oooooor, Rika reminded me earlier today that it's been a while since I played some of my old consoles. We could play some video games! Do you have video games on the Moon?" I'm... Not really sure what that is, so I guess not?
[ ] Stay at the shrine with Sanae some more - [ ] Talk about the Moon - [ ] Ask Sanae some questions (Seiran already has some in mind, but you can write in anything that you want in particular) - [ ] Video games? - [ ] Maybe we should keep the others from drinking too much [ ] Head back to the plant
[x] Stay at the shrine with Sanae some more - [x] Ask Sanae some questions ---[x] Those 2 incident solver friends you mentioned, do you guys often help each other solve incidents? If you asked, would they help you save the Moon? Not that I don't have faith in you or anything, its just that I can't help but feel a little worried about this whole thing. Saving the entire Moon just seems like a pretty big job for 5 rabbits and a shrine maiden, it sure would be nice if there were others who would help us. - [x] Video games?
I want to see if we can get Marisa and Reimu to help us out too. The more people that help us, the more likely it is for us to save the Moon. If we can convince Sanae to ask them for help, they would be less likely to attack us for that whole "purify Gensokyo to death" thing. And since Reimu is the one who enforces the spellcard rules, it would be pretty hard for Eirin to kill us without awakening Reimu's wrath.
There's also no reason we can't ask questions and play videogames at the same time.
[X] Stay at the shrine with Sanae some more - [X] Ask Sanae some questions - [X] Video games?
At the very least, I know that I do want to stick around for now. It's already dark outside, and it's going to keep being dark regardless of when I leave (up to a point I guess). There isn't much more reason to rush back underground than there was twenty minutes ago. By contrast, talking with Sanae seems like it will be a more informative use of my time.
At the same time though, maybe I should ask Yuzuki to keep an eye on Ringo and Chiyo's drinking. If I'm staying in here, I can't keep watch over them. Having someone taking note of them and their livers would be the responsible thing to do. Although I can't ask that out loud with Sanae right here at the moment. We're still keeping our powers a secret for whatever reason. Or rather we're at least keeping Yuzuki's powers a secret. I already talked about mine with Suwako, and am kind of planning on discussing a bit of it with Sanae as well. At least as far as getting some information.
In the meantime, I don't really find taking a walk to be that appealing. We've already spent enough nights out in the wilderness around the mountain. It's long since lost its magic. I guess we might as well stick around in here and do... Whatever it was that Sanae just suggested. "Video games?" I repeat back to her questioningly. Sanae quickly begins to nod emphatically in response. "Err, yeah I don't really know what that is," I mean, I know what a video is, and what a game is, but...
"Oh no, then we definitely have to play some!" Sanae decides. Err, is she pitying me a little bit? "Here, let's go to my room," She starts ushering me out of the kitchen and back into the hallway. As we get out the doorway, she glances back behind her. "Are you coming too Yuzuki?"
Yuzuki looks mildly surprised for a moment. "I suppose so?" I think Yuzuki is as surprised as I am about how quickly Sanae has gotten past the awkwardness between them. Personally I'd like to take some of the credit for making this happen. You're welcome
With just a little bit of prodding, the three of us walk back to Sanae's room. When we step inside, my first impression is that it's... Surprisingly modern. At least compared to the rest of the shrine that we've seen. Maybe it's how crammed it is with obviously outsider stuff. Even the walls are covered in posters for things I obviously don't understand. Hey, she even has a ceiling fan installed, and a real bed! That's a bit more than I would expect from the rest of this place to be honest.
"Alright, you guys go ahead and make yourselves comfortable," Sanae declares, quickly making her way across the room and sliding open the door to what looks to be a closet. Yeah, definitely a closet, although I'm pretty sure she's storing everything other than actual clothes in there. A few boxes shift around precariously as Sanae leans in and starts digging around. "It might take me a little while to find what I'm looking for!"
Okay... Fine. Not really knowing what to do I take a seat on Sanae's bed and wait patiently. Yuzuki joins after another moment or two. Oh, right. "Hey, can you keep track of Ringo and Chiyo from here?" I ask her as discreetly and quietly as I can.
Yuzuki concentrates for a moment. "They're a bit further down the hallway than I can watch right now..." She answers. "Give me a little bit of time," Fine, fair enough.
Luckily we end up having more than just a little bit of time. Sanae does eventually find what she's looking for, but it turns out to not be in a convenient spot. She has to move and shuffle a number of things around before she can finally haul out the box containing something she has labelled as "N64". Huh, wonder what that stands for.
While it seems that the wait has given Yuzuki enough time to expand her awareness, she can't really give me a status update on the others at the moment. Now that Sanae is finished in the closet, she's moved over to the side of the room and is fiddling around the back of the big box thing on the side of the room. Err, I think that's like a monitor or some kind? It has a screen, but it's really big and boxy compared to what I'm used to.
Once Sanae is finished back there, she pulls out a black rectangleish kind of thing from the 'N64' box and plugs it in to a couple of cords in what I'm assuming is the back and sticks a smaller gray rectangle in the top. After that, she grabs a few weirdly shaped, three pronged objects and unravels the cords from them, sticking their connectors in the front of the black rectangle thing. She turns on the screen, then flips a switch. The screen turns from static to... Nothing.
Sanae, instead of looking bothered, shrugs and flips the switch back off. She pulls the smaller gray rectangle out, flips it upside down, and blows into the bottom part. After two quick puffs, she reinserts it, then flips the switch again.
Oh! The monitor is showing stuff now. I guess whatever kind of ritual that was worked.
... What is a Super Smash Brother?
What follows is... Confusing. At least for a while. Yuzuki and I are both handed one of those three pronged objects. Sanae calls them controllers, but I think it's weird to call them that. They don't even seem properly designed for human hands. It's not even obvious how we're supposed to hold them! Why three prongs? Why is there a left handle thing if you never use it for anything?
Anyway, according to Sanae I have 'no appreciation for the classics'.
The concept of a video game actually does make some sense once we actually start playing it. Instead of being like a board game or card game, it's something that you play on a screen using some kind of outsider technology running it. It kind of makes me wonder what kind of video games the lunar capital could make if they devoted the resources to it, because what we have here is... Well, it's kind of blocky looking, and clunky to control.
The game itself is apparently about knocking the other players off a floating platform thing by punching them and stuff. Apparently all the characters are from other video games as well, but that's kind of lost on Yuzuki and I. Instead we just pick people at random, then mess around trying to push buttons while Sanae easily wins.
After more than a few rounds of trying things out, Yuzuki ends up sticking with the robot guy. According to Sanae it's actually a girl, and not a robot, but whatever. Me, I end up gravitating to the pink blob thing. The boy one, not the girl one. He has a bunch of jumps, which helps, because Sanae is really really good at knocking me off the stage. According to her, the electricity shooting pudgy yellow animal thing has what she calls 'top tier privilege' which makes it way easier for her, but I'm pretty sure she would beat us regardless of what character she used.
Well, at least the hammer is the most powerful item. I can appreciate that.
We continue playing for a while, and eventually a pattern starts forming. I tend to get stuck between the other two and lose all my lives first, then Yuzuki loses against Sanae soon after that. I don't really get what I'm doing wrong or what Yuzuki's doing right, but... Well it's still fun at least. Sanae is definitely enjoying herself, and Yuzuki seems to be getting into it more than I expected.
Still, we can only play so many games in a row before I get a little tired of it. When I decide that I'd rather sit a round out than actually play, Sanae quickly picks up on my fading interest. "Do you guys want to try something else? I have a whole box of cartridges you can look through to see if something grabs your interest," She suggests.
Yuzuki agrees, and starts walking to the closet before Sanae can even tell her where the box is located. Right, powers and all that. Actually, Yuzuki probably doesn't even have to physically look at the cartridges to know if one of them interests her, but she still makes a show of doing some. I'm not exactly sure if she's pretending to be more enthusiastic about it than she really is or not. Maybe Yuzuki actually does like these video game things.
Speaking of games... Or at least something that's kind of like a game. "Hey Sanae, can I ask you about danmaku?" It's something that Yuzuki and I were both concerned about, so I think it might be good to broach the topic right here.
"Huh? Sure, but Ikaruga is on a different console. I'd have to find that one," What is she talking about? I don't even bother holding back my confused look. "Err, oh, you meant real life. Not a video game. Right. What about it?"
"Well we're kind of... Not very good at it," I admit, glancing over at Yuzuki instead of keeping my eyes on Sanae. "Reisen completely stomped Ringo and I, and we're the strongest out of the whole unit. I feel like that might end up being a problem in the future," Whether that's before we go to the Moon or while we're trying to free it.
"Ohhh," Sanae places a hand on my shoulder and nods in understanding. "But then, Marisa said that you guys don't do danmaku up on the Moon, right? It takes a lot of getting used to."
"Yeah," I admit. I still don't get how Ringo took too it so much faster than the rest of us. I've only managed to become as good as I am by a ton of practice, and it still isn't anything impressive. "I was just wondering if you had any advice on how to get better?"
"Hmm," Sanae considers the question for a little while. "Well, as far as I can tell, most people put a kind of specific flare on their spells. Like they theme things around what they're good at to make their danmaku really express themselves," She explains. Hm, how would I even do something like that? "For example, I theme a lot of my spell cards off of various miracles, because that's what I can do magically. It helps a lot with the understanding of the patterns. If you're not doing something like that, you should think about it."
Right, how would I want to express myself in the form of thousands of tiny balls of energy? That's kind of a weird question, and not really one that I have an answer to either. I guess I really would need to take some time to think about it.
"You could also try asking other people for help, but that's kind difficult," Sanae continues when it's obvious that I'm just thinking the problem over. "Even though most youkai you talk to are going to be somewhat capable, that doesn't mean they'll be a good teacher. The combination of being nice enough to be willing to help you while also being strong enough to show you a thing or two will probably be difficult to find."
Hm... I notice that Sanae isn't volunteering herself either... Yeah, nobody immediately springs to mind, but then the only people I've actually fought with here are Reisen (who doesn't seem like she'd be open to it), and Cirno (who is obviously not a teacher of anything). Maybe I could still ask around or something, but I don't know... I guess I'll need to keep practicing with Yuzuki for the time being.
Speaking of Yuzuki, she comes back from the box of games after a little bit more searching. I don't actually know what took her so long, come to think of it. She had to have known what was available, so maybe she was just deliberating over her choices. Or maybe she was just trying not to interrupt the conversation I was having with Sanae. That would be nice of her.
Anyway, the game Yuzuki comes back with has a title written on it that isn't in Japanese. "Ohh, tetris!" Sanae identifies it immediately. "I forgot I had that one actually. Tetris 64 is kind of an odd ball in the series, so I haven't played it that much. Though really, if you've played one, you've kind of played them all... More or less."
Yeah, I didn't catch any of that. "Why'd you pick that one Yuzuki?"
Yuzuki just shrugs as she puts the cartridge inside the console herself. "I liked the lettering on the front," She says simply. "I can't read English, but something about the blockiness grabbed me."
Well, that's as good a reason as any I guess. I pick my controller back up and prepare to be confused once again.
This game is... Well it feels a lot more abstract and weird. The last one you were clearly controlling a character and making them do things, but this one is... You're moving around a bunch of blocks. You're supposed to fill up rows, which then gets rid of them and makes things harder for the others. If your stack of boxes gets too tall, then you lose. It's kind difficult, and the pressure of having the blocks constantly falling is stressing me out. Unsurprisingly, I'm not very good at this game.
Perhaps even more unsurprisingly, it clicks with Yuzuki almost instantly.
"Wow, and you haven't even played games before this?" Sanae asks, clearly amazed when she loses to Yuzuki in our second round of playing.
"No," Yuzuki answers simply, still staring intently at the screen. "It's kind of irritating that it stops when you win. I was still working on the pattern," She mutters to herself.
Sanae glances back at me, and I give her a wry smile. I don't really think I have a good explanation of Yuzuki's behavior that I want to share. Sanae shrugs and turns back to Yuzuki. "You could play single player if you want. That goes until you lose."
Yuzuki is more than happy to do so, and honestly, I'm more than happy to stop playing. This game is kind of stressful to me, and I'd rather keep talking with Sanae instead. Yuzuki is only getting it because of her powers. At least I'm assuming so. I don't know exactly how her powers interact with things that are only present on a screen.
Anyway, while I'm thinking about powers, I wanted to ask Sanae about something relating to those as well. While Yuzuki starts her single player game (and seems to be doing absurdly well, I might add), I give Sanae a brief explanation of what I talked with Suwako about. Sanae listens calmly, only interrupting me a couple of times to express some concern for my well being. It's nice, and I appreciate it, but I still quickly move on to what I actually wanted to ask about.
"-so Lady Suwako," I remember to use the right title this time. "suggested that I find someone more book smart. Somebody who could actually understand exactly what's going on with whatever magic or whatever else I have inside of me. She didn't suggest anyone in particular though. Do you have any suggestions?"
"Hmm, well, Marisa comes to mind immediately, but that's just because I actually know her," Sanae answers pretty quickly. "She's a magician, and is always interested in seeing new problems. If you catch her interest, I'm sure she'd figure something out. Although she's kinda not very... Delicate about things. If you're sensitive about your problems, she might not really be too respectful of that."
Considering my decades of avoiding dealing with the problem and all the social isolation and complexes that came with it... "Yeah, I'm a little bit sensitive about it," I admit. Having told two people today, I feel a little bit better about it, but Suwako and Sanae have both been very understanding. It doesn't sound like Marisa will be. Or maybe she just won't care or something. I don't know, I've never met her.
"Well then let me think," Sanae continues, apparently completely unbothered about me not wanting to talk with her friend all that much. "There are some other magicians, you could probably talk to them."
"Does it have to be a magician specifically?" I did originally ask a goddess for help after all. In fact I'm technically doing that now too.
"Well no, but when you start talking about examining magic, they're your best bet," Sanae answers. I guess I'll defer to her judgement on this. "The next person I know would be Alice. She's a little bit specialized though, so I wouldn't recommend her. You have a specific problem that doesn't really match up with her area of expertise."
"And that would be?"
"Dolls," Sanae answers simply. I think she kind of needs to explain that better, but she just moves on instead. "Don't worry about it to too much. Anyway, Patchouli Knowledge is much more general, and probably has more resources than anyone else as well. If anyone could figure out a way to help you, it would be her. It can be a little tough to get into the Scarlet Devil Mansion without a reason though..."
Urgh, right. That mansion. Honestly it didn't seem that guarded from when we were checking it out before, but we were stealthed at the time, and only looked at the outside. If we wanted a favor, we probably couldn't infiltrate the place either. We would need a reason to go in. I don't exactly have much to offer.
"Aside from her, I guess that Byakuren Hijiri, down at the temple, could also be an option," Sanae sounds a bit more reluctant to give this option than the other ones. Not really sure why. "She does know a lot about magic too, but she has a lot less in the way of research materials than the others. She doesn't do as much magician stuff as she does religious stuff. If she doesn't already know about your problem, it'll be difficult for her to do much."
"Err, religious stuff?"
"She's the head monk at the Buddhist temple," Oh, maybe that's why Sanae doesn't sound that excited about involving her. Religious differences. Messy. "But since you mentioned people who aren't magicians... Well, Yukari is only around when Reimu doesn't want her to be, and Eirin is out for obvious reasons... I don't know," Sanae finishes, letting out a light sigh. "Any number of people could possibly help you, but it's hard to tell. I'd be glad to point you toward any of them you want, and with some of them I could even talk to them first if you think that would help."
I'm about to ask when exactly she's going to have time to talk to people on my behalf, when I'm interrupted by a groan coming from Yuzuki. Oh, looks like she finally lost. That took a while.
"Why does it keep getting faster?" Yuzuki demands, dropping her controller in disgust.
"Huh? That's kind of the point, isn't it?" Sanae cringes slightly at the plastic contacting the floor. The controller looks perfectly fine to me though.
"The point should be to make the pattern correctly and remove blocks intelligently," Yuzuki insists, gesturing at the screen. "Not just keep them from piling up!"
"It kind of is the point though... Maybe you should just focus on deleting rows of four at a time?" Sanae suggests, obviously not getting what Yuzuki's issue is. To be fair, it's just another one of those powers things. Honestly, I'm kind of surprised at how long Yuzuki was even able to keep the game going if she was worried about following her own rigid patterns the whole time. "That gets you the most points and advances the game faster."
"I don't really care about the points..." Yuzuki mutters, sounding annoyed. Apparently not annoyed enough to not pick the controller back up and start the game over again though.
Right, she's going again, so she'll be here for a while longer. Her last try was apparently the entire length of my and Sanae's conversation, so if she gets better on her next one... "Err, does that game ever end? Like can you win?" I ask, trying just to sound mildly curious instead of worried.
"I dunno actually. She's already beaten my high score and got farther than I ever have," Sanae answers casually, watching as Yuzuki starts filling up one side of the play area. "Maybe?" Right, not really the answer I wanted to hear. It might be necessary to force Yuzuki away from the game at some point. She seems pretty caught up in it.
It's not too late into the night yet though, so maybe it'll be fine. In the meantime...
[ ] Ask Sanae for information on one of the magicians she talked about - [ ] Marisa - [ ] Patchouli Knowledge - [ ] Byakuren Hijiri [ ] Don't ask for help with magic issues
Also where to go next: [ ] Check in on Ringo [ ] Keep talking to Sanae [ ] Go back to the plant
Optional: [ ] Drag Yuzuki away from the video games
Okay, things are done happening now. Hopefully they don't happen again for a while.
[X] Ask Sanae for information on one of the magicians she talked about - [X] Byakuren Hijiri
[x] Check in on Ringo
Getting involved with the SDM feels like it'll turn into our previous run-in with Eientei at this rate, and I don't really think Marisa's gonna get us anywhere without drawbacks. With Byakuren we just have to avoid getting evangelized.
[X] Ask Sanae for information on one of the magicians she talked about - [X] Marisa
[X] Check in on Ringo
I kind of have some doubts that Yuzuki is still watching over Ringo and Chiyo right now, just based on how absorbed she is by the her game. That's fine I guess, she can have fun if she wants to. A weird kind of fun where she's also frustrated and looking kind of tense about it, that is. As for me though, I think it might be a good idea to check back in with the others. Technically they should be safer drinking here than out in the open like a couple nights ago, but it shouldn't hurt to at least double check. Peace of mind is a nice thing to have.
Before that though, Sanae was talking about magicians. Honestly, I don't know what all being a magician entails other than just 'they do magic' and are probably really good at it. That's way beyond my level, sure, but would it be way above the Moon's level? I would think not. Even still, it's possible that they could have a solution anyway. People on Earth can know about things they don't know on the Moon. What have I got to lose? Well, other than time, that is.
"So anyway," There isn't much more to say about Yuzuki and her game, so I try to bring the conversation back around. "You mentioned that you could talk to some of the magicians for me?" It's not like I'm that nervous about meeting new people, we've already been doing it enough these past few days, but Sanae did volunteer to help. I might as well take her up on that in order to start off on the right foot.
"Well, mostly Marisa," Sanae admits with a nervous smile. "The others aren't exactly friends of mine. Miss Knowledge isn't known for being social, and Miss Hijiri is part of a rival faith, so approaching them is... I would call it possible, but probably not any easier for me than it is for you."
"Then let's go with this Marisa person," I decide. Sanae mentioned that she might not exactly be delicate in dealing with my issues, but I can live with that. At least to some degree. If talking to Marisa is what it takes to solve the problem, then I can take it. Definitely won't be the first time I've had my feelings hurt because of my powers, and this time it probably won't even be intentional.
Sanae smiles and nods. "Okay, that sounds good. It should be easy to make it work too, we just have to stop by there in the morning. Marisa usually doesn't get up and going until the afternoon," Okay, that should work out fine as long as... Wait.
"Don't you have work in the morning though?" Every time that we've been to the shrine in the morning, Sanae has been working. I'm kind of assuming that that isn't by choice, although maybe I'm just projecting.
"I do, but it's fine. My schedule isn't really that rigid," Sanae dismisses the problem easily. Huh, so I guess she really does choose to go out sweeping in the mornings then. "As long as I'm doing things for the shrine, it'll be fine."
Yeah, that doesn't sound that convincing. "Err, is that Kanako's rule, or yours?"
Sanae smirks. "Weeellll... Lady Suwako's mostly," She admits before breaking into a full on smile.
"Fair enough I guess," I'm the one asking for help, so I won't complain how I get it. Sounds like whatever morning I show up at the shrine will be fine at least. I just need to grab Sanae and we can go. "Anyway, speaking of them, do you think that maybe we should go check on how the other room is doing?" I suggest. I'm not so much worried about the goddesses as I am about the other rabbits though.
Sanae looks a bit less enthusiastic about that. She glances over at Yuzuki's game for a moment before she responds. "I usually just leave the two of them to it if possible," She confesses. "Like I said, I'm not the best drinker. You only need to get caught up into their pace once or twice before you learn to stay clear."
That's pretty fair. The only time I've been drinking has been because I got caught up in it unintentionally. Granted, it was pretty fun, but I can understand not wanting to have something like that forced on you. "I'm just thinking it would be good to make sure that Ringo and Chiyo aren't in a bad state tomorrow. They could get carried away on their own," Sanae still doesn't look so enthusiastic about it, but does stand up along with me, so I guess she'll follow along. "And hey, we escaped once, I'm sure we can manage it again if we're watching out for each other."
Sanae lets out a small sigh, but nods, following my lead as I step toward the door out of her room. "Is drinking a big thing back on the Moon too?" She asks after a moment.
Oh right, I didn't really go into life on the Moon much, even though Sanae was obviously curious about it. "Not exactly," I answer. No, that's still being too vague. "Alcohol is against the rules to have, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to get. I've personally never drank before I came down here, but I'm apparently in the minority on that."
"Yeeeahh, kind of the same as me back in the outside world," Sanae occupies herself with tracing her hand along the wall as we walk down the hallway. "Although I couldn't really even describe it as difficult to get back there. You just had to find the right vending machine..." She sighs again. Hm, sounds like this isn't the most pleasant subject for her.
Luckily, the hallway isn't all that long, so I don't have much time to continue the line of conversation.
"Aaaayyyyy!" Ringo (and Suwako after half a second) yells out a happy noise as a greeting as soon as I open the door to the living/dining/whatever else room. With a quick glance around... Okay, yeah. Everyone is varying degrees of drunk. I can see two of the sake bottles have already been emptied, and the third one that Sanae brought later is getting down there as well.
Ringo and Suwako seem to be in pretty high spirits, just based on how big their smiles are toward Sanae and I. Seems pretty obvious that the both of them are the big drinkers here. Or at least that they're the most obviously affected. Kanako is much more reserved, even if I can see her face is a bit flushed. I also notice that she's drinking out of a big dish instead of a glass like everyone else. Must be a cultural thing. Lastly, Chiyo seems to be doing fine, but then, it was the same way a couple of nights ago. She held her alcohol better than anyone, even though the morning after wasn't very pleasant for her.
"So uh, how are you guys doing?" I ask, just barely taking a step into the room before Ringo's already over next to me.
"We're pretty great," Suwako is sprawled out on the ground with her legs and arms spread out wide. She only bothers to lean herself up on her elbows as she speaks to Sanae. "Actually I was thinking about asking you to grab some more sake, good thing you're here."
Sanae doesn't look very pleased at that. "Err, haven't you guys already gone through enough already?" She asks patiently. Suwako responds with a loud belch, then unceremoniously drops back onto the floor. Kanako rolls her eyes at the wonderful display of manners, but says nothing.
"Anyway, we've just been hanging out and swapping stories," Ringo continues, slipping an arm around my shoulder and leading me into the room. I let her, though I'm a little bit wary here. If she tries to get me to drink I'm definitely going to say no... Well, probably. "Don't worry, it's nothin' embarrassing about you," She continues, reassuring me about something I'm only a little bit worried about. "I was savin' that stuff for when you're around," She laughs out loud as she pulls me down to sit next to her at the table, then turns to the goddesses. "You guys ought ta see her embarrassed face. Itsch suuper cuuute."
I try not to take offense at that, mostly just because I know doing so would be embarrassing, which is entirely the point in her saying it. "Ringo, you're um, pretty drunk," I point out, just trying to get the focus off of myself.
"Yup," Ringo agrees triumphantly. "Another mission accomplished! Good job Eagle Ravi! Champions of the Lunar Defense Corps!" She picks up a glass (I'm assuming it's hers anyway) and downs the rest of its contents.
"Pfft, yeah sure," Chiyo sarcastically agrees, staring down into her own glass. "That's what we are."
"Well if all goes well you may end up that way," Kanako sounds slightly amused at the prospect. "Although to be honest, I was expecting something a bit more dramatic from stories of the Lunar War," Oh, is that what they were talking about? I don't think Ringo would have much to share, though Chiyo might have a little. "From my understanding your people are happy about how that played out. Hearing it from your perspective it sounds like there was very little in the way of conflict."
"I'm fine with that," Chiyo mutters, sipping at her sake a little more.
"Lunarians ain't really our people anyway," Ringo laughs. "We're rabbits. There's a big difference! Lunarians aren't nearly as adorabibble," Ah, hey! Ringo uses the arm around my shoulder to pulls me up next to her, then nuzzles her face against my shoulder. Sheesh... Was she this touchy-feely when we were drunk before? I don't really remember.
"You do provide quite a contrast at the very least," Kanako looks amused at Ringo's antics. I mean, I guess I kind of am too. I don't really mind her hugging me like this. I was just surprised. "My dealings with the lunarians were much less pleasant than my dealings with you rabbits."
"Uuughhh, not this crap again," Suwako groans from the floor.
Wait, what's the problem? I know that Suwako has mentioned Kanako dealing with Command before at least, but I don't know much about it. Actually, maybe this is a good chance to ask. "Are you talking about the Genso-Lunar war?" I guess out loud. That was a really old war between the youkai of Gensokyo and the lunar capital. I've only really heard about it, but maybe Kanako was there for it.
"Not that specifically," Kanako answers. Well at least I tried. "They, as well as myself, were somewhat involved in a bit of business around the Great Suwa War. It likely doesn't mean anything to you, but in a way, they're responsible for the shrine existing in its current form."
"Sanaaaaaee!" Suwako's prone form whines out loud. "She's bringing it up again! Bleeeeeeh!" She goes largely ignored by everyone else, although Sanae looks a little bit sympathetic.
"Err, that's a good thing. though, right?" I hazard a guess. "It certainly seems like you have a nice setup here."
"I would agree, for the most part," Kanako nods, lifting her large dish thing and drinking for a moment. Once she's finished, she sets it back on the table and leans forward toward me. "There are always positives and negatives to every situation. Obviously I appreciate the way things are now, but we must always strive to improve our position whenever possible. The lunarians still owe me something. They can't repay their debt when trapped in the dream world, so here I am to assist," The goddess ends by nodding sagely to herself. Well, at least she's satisfied I guess.
"Kanaaaaaaa!" Suwako suddenly springs up from the floor, jumping up next to Kanako. "You're bein' too serious again. Haven't been drinkin' enough you big ol lightweight," She grabs the remaining bottle of sake and pours a generous amount into Kanako's dish thing.
"Hmph, some of us simply handle our drink better than others," Kanako rolls her eyes again, but still does sip some more sake.
"Psshhh, you're goin' easy mode by being all big," Suwako sounds indignant as she slumps back down to her sit at the table. "I could be all big and sexy if I felt like usin the faith for it..."
"Oh? Miss Chiyo seems to be handling things just fine as well," Kanako sounds amused.
Chiyo glances up, looking like she's going to respond, but just hiccups instead. She gets an unpleasant look on her face for a moment. "Probably need to stop soon..." She mumbles before standing up slowly. "Toilet?" She asks nobody in particular.
"Ah, here, let me show you the way," Sanae beckons from the doorway and Chiyo takes some shaky steps out of the room. Well, I guess that's as good an excuse as any to leave. We've at least confirmed that everyone here isn't that drunk. Mostly. At the very least Chiyo's calling it quits soon. They probably won't do more than the third bottle of sake... Although even that might be a bit much split between four people. I don't have a good basis for comparison.
Oof! Sheesh, you don't have to squeeze me like that Ringo, I know you're still there. "Seeeeiiraaaaan," Err, yeah, I'm right here. You don't have to sound all dreamy like that. And why are you giggling? Ugh... Well, in any case, it seems like Ringo's just happy to cuddle me for now.
Conversation more or less stops after that, with Kanako slowly nursing her drink and Suwako looking kind of bored. "So where's the other girl at?" Suwako asks after a minute or two of just Ringo lightly squeezing at me.
"Yuzuki?" I unnecessarily ask for clarification while trying to move my head a bit so it's out of Ringo's nuzzling range. "She's back in Sanae's room playing video games still I think," Hey! Don't get grabby! Okay fine, I'll stop trying to squirm away. Happy? "Why?"
Suwako looks more interested suddenly. "Oooohh, Sanae broke out one of those old things?" She hops up to her feet, only looking slightly unbalanced for a second. "I'm game. Let's go Kanako."
Kanako's brow furrows in response. "What? I'm not finished with my drink yet, and there's still time for more discussion."
Suwako glances meaningfully at me, as well as at Ringo, who is now fully wrapped around me and... You know this position is kind of hard to feel comfortable with while half stuck under a table! "Well we can leave the rest of the sake and discussion to these two, you know?" She grabs Kanako and actually pulls her up, although it doesn't look like Kanako is resisting that much. "Come on! Video games!"
Kanako sighs out loud. You know, I can't help but notice that her and Sanae both sigh in the exact same way. "Fine, fine. For a little bit then," She relents, reaching to grab her sake dish thing, she finishes the rest of it before allowing herself to be pulled out of the room and into the hallway.
One of the goddesses slides the door to the room closed after they leave. Now it's just me and Ringo.
Ringo, whose face is so close I can smell the alcohol from her breath.
Err, I know being clingy while drunk is a thing, but...
Actually, why am I feeling more self conscious now that nobody else is even in the room?
Okay. Calm down. Recap. Ringo and I are sitting in the Moriya shrine's living/dining room together. She's drunk. I'm not. She's clinging to me and trying to cuddle up with me. This... Isn't really what I intended to have happen when I came to check on Ringo and Chiyo. Do I mind it? Kind of. I mean I like hugs as much as anyone else but...
Right. I'm once again reminded that Ringo likes me. That's a thought that I've been putting off entirely every time it's come to mind so far. Ringo hasn't been forcing the issue either, at least not verbally. She hasn't actually said anything about it. But with the way she's clinging to me right now... It's kind of making it hard to ignore.
Is this really the best time to say something about it? We're in somebody else's house. Sanae or Chiyo could come back at any moment. Ringo's drunk. We still have so many things to worry about with the whole Moon situation and my powers and a whole bunch of other stuff. This is so complicated, and yet...
I look down at Ringo's face, and she looks back up at me with a weak expression and half lidded eyes.
... My heart is beating a little fast right now.
... I don't know what to say.
[ ] Say something (Write-in) [ ] Don't say anything. Just cuddle. [ ] Stop cuddling. Get up.
Okay, first thing's first. I'm going to take a deep breath and compose myself. Even if I wouldn't have asked for this to happen if it were up to me, it's not that big of a deal. Ringo is drunk and a little bit uh, amorous. Is that the right word here? Maybe not. Well in any case, she's clinging onto my side right now. Both of her arms are wrapped around me, meeting just above my hips, while her face is mostly pressed up against my shoulder. She's not hugging me very tight, but I can still feel the rest of her body as it presses up against me. She's... Kind of hot. Err, temperature wise I mean! It's probably the alcohol, you know?
A-anyway. Deep breath. Right.
I'm still not sure what I should say here. Do I even need to say anything at all? Ringo just pulled me in here and started hugging me while everyone else was talking. I could have stopped it by just pushing her off of me or calling her out on it, but instead I didn't. Heck, I could still do either of those things and she'd probably stop.
But I... Don't really want her to?
Like, I really don't dislike being close like this. I already know that I'm the type of person that enjoys hugs. It's also true that I have felt pretty stressed over the past few days... Or really the past few... Well, it's more like being pretty stressed is my default mental state. That or panicked. This one little isolated cuddling incident right here doesn't exactly fix that, but it does help. Especially considering that it's Ringo.
Ringo is my best friend. That's such an easy thing to say about someone, but at least in our case, it has a LOT of weight. Decades of shared experiences, learning about each other, spending time together... It's not a stretch to say that I'm more comfortable with Ringo now than I ever will be with anyone else. Heck, the number of times we've hugged before today is probably up to four digits! Err, maybe. It's not like I've been keeping track.
And yet, as recently as last night, I've still been learning more about her. How things were for her back on the Moon. Why she rose up through the ranks enough to command our unit. All the rules that she broke on a regular basis back when she was practically a delinquent. That she likes me...
... Yeah, okay, that last one is really the thing messing with my brain right now.
It would be easy to dismiss this whole cuddling thing if I didn't have that last bit of knowledge. I could just play it off as platonic, or at the very least innocuous. Just another friendly hug between best friends, right? Well, no. I can't really just ignore the real implications here. Ringo likes me. I still haven't properly responded to that. Ringo said she wasn't going to rush me into it, but even so, I can't imagine she's not worried about what my response whenever I can properly give her one. What am I going to say at that point? She doesn't know. I don't know.
Heck, forget the in the future stuff. I don't even know what I'm going to say right now. Like I was thinking earlier, I don't really want to push Ringo away, metaphorically or physically. I want us to stay close in a bunch of different ways. I just don't know about it being... That way.
It's... Okay, I'm worried about everyone else suspecting something if they see me and Ringo like this, but is that really necessary? We're not doing anything wrong. If anything, sleeping in the same bed last night is much worse than this. I'm just being self conscious because I know the truth about Ringo's motivations. Nobody else does... Well, aside from Sumi... And I guess Sumi said that Chiyo probably did too... And that Yuzuki might...
Oh! But Sanae and Kanako and Suwako might not... Except now that I think about it, Suwako leaving and forcing Kanako out with her is a tiny bit suspicious. Either Ringo said something while I wasn't here, or the truth is just really obvious.
Well, it wasn't obvious to me at least, but I'm not a however many thousand year old goddess. I have an excuse so-
... Sheesh. You don't have to squeeze on me like that Ringo. Okay, maybe my mind was kind of wandering and I wasn't paying you enough attention, but I really, truly, don't know what I'm supposed to say here! I'm bad at words. It never works out when I just say stuff without thinking. I need time to stop and consider and-
"Seiran," Ringo mumbles softly, right next to the side of my head. I pull back so that I can look at her and... Oh, okay, um. She's still got that same face from before. Her eyes are only slightly open, her expression kind of dreamy. It's the kind of look that makes it clear that she's hoping for me to do something. It reminds me of last night actually. It wasn't Ringo making that face at the time, it was Yamame. That was right before we... Um. Right before we kissed.
... Okay, now that thought is in my mind too. I'm really not making this easier for myself.
Well, I don't really know if I can do that right at this very moment with Ringo. Although, maybe? Ugh, it's weird to think about. Being close to Ringo is obviously fine. Kissing is embarrassing, but also pretty much an okay thing to think about in concept. Combining the two is... Ugh, please work harder, brain.
Maybe I should just do something else, if I can't do the thing that Ringo might be prompting me for. I shift myself back a small amount, just enough so that less of me is underneath the table. I don't really have a plan here, but I know that the table is probably going to get in the way more than anything else. After that, I sort of twist my body a little bit, just enough so that I can wrap my own arms around Ringo as well. There. Yeah, there we go. Now we're actually hugging and-Oof!
Hey, come on Ringo... I might be in more of a position to hold you up now, but that doesn't mean you should just drape yourself over me like that! You're not that heavy, sure, but... Ugh, whatever. We can just hold each other like this then.
This is nice actually.
It's not exactly an optimal position, with my torso kind of twisted to one side toward Ringo and my legs still sitting under the table, but that really isn't that important. The rest of the nice feelings more or less mute that small unpleasantness. Ringo's breathing is coming out in a steady, even rhythm that I can feel directly from her chest to mine. I find myself unconsciously syncing my own breaths to hers. It's rather calming.
Hm, Ringo smells nice today too... Did she get a shower at some point? I don't know exactly when that would have happened, but then I was asleep for a lot of the day. Or maybe she always smells like this? I haven't really made much of a point in thinking about Ringo's scent before... I wonder why I'm noticing it now.
Maybe it's just because of how close we are? I'm not sure if that explains it completely. We've hugged plenty of times before, after all. I mean, okay, yeah, there's plenty different about this situation, I admit to that too. Maybe that's also why I feel so much more conscious about every little shift and movement she makes. There aren't a lot of them, but whenever she slightly adjusts herself I can feel the way that we're touching change. Like we rub against each other, then have to settle back into a new comfortable position.
Err, actually, now that I think about it, Ringo could probably stand to wear a bit more clothes, couldn't she? Like, her normal shirt doesn't even cover up her stomach all the way. Obviously I already knew that, it's not like I'm just realizing it, but um... It's just with how close we are right now that I'm kind of feeling a lot more attentive to things like this I guess. I don't know why. Honestly it feels like I'm thinking about a whole lot of stuff, but not anything important. Why am I so flustered? Yes, I really really like Ringo, but that shouldn't mess up my thoughts this much, right?
Ringo interrupts me by moving much more obviously. This isn't just an adjustment this time, this is a full change in how we're arranging ourselves. Wait, what exactly is she trying to do? I'm not exactly opposed to moving, but if she just told me what was up then I could help things along. "Ri-"
Ringo's arms suddenly disengage from around me. She slides them up my body part of the way, then pulls back, instead putting them on my shoulders. Wait, what? Why are you... Okay, I guess she's pushing me down lightly. Does she want to lie down instead of sit up? Well, okay I guess? So then maybe I should turn on my side and we could like, face each other or something? I suppose that could be more comfortable than how we just were. There'd be less torso twisting, although it would mean laying on one arm... Err, I can't really get up on my side with Ringo's hands still on my shoulders though. I'm stuck on my back.
... Um, are you going to let go soon Ringo?
... Ringo? What are you...
She turns herself over so that she's supporting herself with her arms and knees. Then she leans... W-wait, I'm a little bit nervous with you looming over me like this Ringo. What exactly are you planning on...
Um. Uhum... Uhhhhmmm. H-hold on. W-wait... Ringo, your face is um... I don't know if I'm ready to... Well, I mean, I did think about it a little bit earlier, but that was because it looked like you wanted me to start it! I wasn't really, like um, I still hadn't thought about it enough so I didn't... I didn't um, I didn't think that you would, um... Try to kiss me...
It feels like my cheeks are on fire. I'm too embarrassed. I want to look away, but I don't know if that's a good idea. What if I miss something? Ringo's just staring at me with a serious expression on her face right now. It's like she's trying to steel herself for something. Hold on, hold on, hold on. I really don't know how I feel right now. She's obviously about to kiss me, and I don't really find that idea like, completely unappealing or anything it's just that... What happened to waiting for me to decide? Is this just because of the alcohol? Is this really okay? What if somebody comes back into the room? I don't know what I should do here. I could just stop her, but... Would it really be that bad? I didn't ask for this to happen but...
O-Oh. Ringo's expression changed. She's clearly decided on something. S-she's leaning down now... Um...
[ ] Say something (Write-in) [ ] Don't say anything
[ ] Don't stop her [ ] Stop her
A bit of a shorter update, but there was only so much to work with, and I figured that you might want some say in what's happening at this exact point.
Don't get me wrong, I am all for a Ringo route. But Ringo is drunk while we are totally sober. Kissing her now would just be taking advantage of her. Sure Ringo would probably be fine with it once she sobers up, but Seiran seems like the sort of person who would really beat herself up over doing something like this. A sober person kissing a drunk just seems like a really sketchy thing to do, even if the drunk is the one who started it.
Now if they still want to kiss once they are both sober, that would be totally fair game.
WhatdoIdowhatdoIdowhatdoIdo? I can feel myself freaking out a little but I'm still paralyzed. I know that I'm not like morally opposed to this but... Is morally even the right word here? Not sure. Not important. Just a little bit busy being distracted by my best friend being about to kiss me. You know how it is. Or maybe you don't. I don't know your life. In fact, who am I even addressing right now?
Okay, okay um! Ringo's really close to me right now! If I'm going to do something other than just get kissed right here, I'm going to have to do it soon. Like, really really soon. Her mouth is so close. I can practically feel her breathing on me. It... It smells. Smells like... Well, it smells like booze.
This is messed up.
In a sudden burst of activity, I reach up with both hands, grabbing Ringo's shoulders. I push up, hard. It holds her back just before she finishes closing the distance between us. She freezes, but I don't see the reaction on her face. I'm looking away. Not at anything in particular, just... Not at Ringo. Should I really be looking away right now? Is that going to make it worse? This is kind of serious what I just did, isn't it? It's just that I find it kind of hard to look at Ringo directly after I basically just rejected her.
... Oh gosh I really just did that. She was going to kiss me though! Even if I like her and she likes me, I was right to stop her, right?! I have... I have reasons. "R-Ringo, you're drunk," I mutter weakly toward the corner of the room that I'm now staring at.
Ringo doesn't respond. I don't hear or feel her moving, so I'm pretty sure she's just staying completely still.
Hey, say something...
Just like, laugh it off like you always do when you tease me. We can treat this like it isn't a big deal and everything will be fine. I mean, I know that you weren't messing around. You really did mean to kiss me just now. You had actually worked up the courage to do something after years and years of keeping it quiet and...
Oh man, did I really just screw all of this up? Should I have just let that happen?
No, that's not right. If the only reason Ringo did this was because of the alcohol, and she wouldn't have done it normally, then I was right to stop her. It's not like... Honest I guess? Like I know that the feelings are all there, she told me as much last night. She also told me she wasn't going to force things. She wasn't drunk then, but she is now. Just now she was making a decision she didn't really mean to make, deep down. I was right to stop her before something happened that both of us would regret... Or at least, I think so?
Man, this is way too complicated...
There's some light ruffling as I finally feel Ringo let up on my shoulders. Her weight shifts so that she's no longer leaning on top of me, but I don't feel her getting up completely. A moment later I feel her arms wrap back around me, near my waist again. She-Ooof! O-oh. Ringo dropped herself down a bit lower. Her head is resting on my chest now, like... Right above my heart. She doesn't move, I just feel her burying her face up against my shoulder.
I finally work up the guts to look at Ringo again, but can only see the top of her hat from this angle. A bit of her ears and hair too, but I obviously can't see her face. I'm not really sure if I want to or not. What expression does she have on right now? How is she reacting to what I just did? Did I mess everything up? Ughh...
Wait, what is that feeling? It's something-something wet... Oh. Oh no. Why is-? Ringo's crying. I can feel it slowly spreading through the front of my dress, right about where Ringo's eyes would be. It's not spreading quickly, and Ringo isn't making much noise, but I can definitely notice it. It's not like there's much else to occupy me. I've kinda sorta given up on thinking of something to say. What should I be doing?
I... Maybe I should hug her? There's no point in keeping my hands up on her shoulders like this, so I reach back down. We're not level, but I can at least wrap my arms around her shoulders. There... I'm-I'm not mad, Ringo...
Ringo shudders a couple of times. Where there used to be no noise at all, I start hearing some very weak, barely audible sobbing noises. It's... Wow. I don't remember the last time I saw Ringo cry. I mean, I'm still not really seeing it now, but I know it's happening.
It's so strange. Ringo is always so laid back. Like, I know that doesn't mean she doesn't care about things, but it's still so unusual to have her express herself like this.
And this is my fault. I made her cry.
Both of us just stay still for a while. Her sobbing doesn't really get any better or worse. It just stays at the same painful to listen to level...
I don't like this.
"S-Sorry," Ringo finally speaks, because I'm certainly not doing so. Her voice is kind of choked up, and she's obviously still a little drunk too. I wince at the sound, but let her keep going. "I didn't... I mean, I did, but... I just... I'm sorry..."
She didn't say very much there, but I still got what she was trying to convey. Honestly, I'd like to reply that it wasn't a big deal, but that'd be a lie, wouldn't it? What just happened was a big deal for both of us. Ringo because she actually went for it, and me because I refused to let it happen. Those things didn't just happen on a whim. They weren't easy decisions for either of us. Even though more of me still feels like I made the right call than thinks I screwed everything up, I'm still not happy about the results.
"I'm not mad," I tell Ringo quietly while switching from holding her to rubbing her shoulders. I'm trying to be reassuring here. Yes, I'm not mad. Even though this is Ringo's fault. Even though she was the one that started drinking and tried to force something to happen even when we both aren't ready for it. Even if it would be totally justified if I was, I'm not mad.
Ringo shudders slightly and pulls herself tighter against me. "'m jus' worried," She mutters, although it's kind of muffled by my body. "... Don't wanna lose you..."
Wait, what? "I'm still here, you're not going to lose anyone."
"But you won't say you'll stay here," Ringo whines slightly, sounding a little bit pathetic honestly... Ugh, I made her feel like this, didn't I? "I don't wanna leave, but I want you to stay too."
What is she-... Oh. Right, That question. The issue of if we're staying on Earth or going back to the Moon. That's... Well, I still haven't really come to any conclusion about that. I'm kinda feeling more open to it, if it's even really an option, but... Well it's still really daunting to think about. Just the idea that we're going to throw away everything we've known for decades and become penniless, homeless fugitives. Yeah, okay, we've made some friends down here already, and we know that coming down here has worked for Reisen, but still, you can't blame me for being a little nervous about it.
I just... I can't really say anything other than I still don't know. That's always the point that I keep coming to. I don't know how to answer, so I don't. That should be okay for now, right? This is supposed to be my decision. I shouldn't have to rush into it just yet. It's just like what I told Chiyo this morning. That should apply to me as well.
In the end, I think it's probably best not to say any of that though. It's just me dithering anyway. I just keep my hands busy, trying to comfort Ringo by slowly rubbing over her. I think it's working. I hope so anyway.
Eventually I shift from Ringo's back to stroking her hair. It's not really conscious, and I'm not sure when exactly I started doing it, but it feels nice, so whatever.
I can tell that Ringo's much calmer now. I'm pretty sure from the feeling of her breathing that she isn't even crying anymore. It's much slower and calmer. This is actually a lot like when we were just hugging. That was nice. I didn't mind that, even though it was kind of... Well, it's weird to just completely ignore the romantic connotations there but find kissing to be way too much, isn't it?
I don't know. It's probably fair. I have limits. Those limits can be adjusted with time, sure, but this was just way too sudden. Maybe at some point in the future when neither of us are drunk... If the mood is right then I guess maybe I could... Ugh, this is still so weird to think about. I just don't know, okay? There's a lot of introspection and thinking that I need to do about a bunch of different things. This is probably not the best time or place for that.
Not that I have much else to do.
Ringo has really settled down now. I've still barely said anything, but I guess that just the petting that I've been doing has been enough for her to get herself back together. I'm just glad she didn't really overreact to things because of the alcohol. This could have been a lot worse if she had started screaming or ran away upset or something like that. As things are now, we can just relax, calm it down, and Ringo can get herself back to normal.
I mean, that doesn't undo what just happened, but we can at least get ourselves to a point where we can pretend that it does. That'll be good enough for now, as long as we can sit down and talk it out at some unspecified point in the future.
You know, I think we might actually be good now. Ringo hasn't said anything or given any indication that she's upset anymore. In fact, she hasn't really done much of anything in a while. That's good, right? It means we're calm. She's definitely calm. I can tell from her breathing. It's really really even now. Kind of deep too. Err, actually...
Is she snoring?
Yeah, that's snoring. Not heavy snoring, but yeah, she's not even awake anymore. She fell asleep on top of me.
Well, she has been a lot more busy than I have been at least. It would make sense that she might be more tired than I am. Actually, what time is it? We've been sitting here quietly for quite a while, haven't we?
Now that I think about it, shouldn't Chiyo and Sanae have come back t-
I jerk in surprise as I look at the doorway to the room. It's just barely open, but there's a crack between the door and the frame just wide enough that someone could see inside if they looked. In fact, someone is looking inside right now. Right at this very moment and for who knows how long before this moment.
My face is on fire again.
Sanae obviously notices me noticing her, and quickly backs out of the doorway. A quick "S-sorry," is all she hisses out before she disappears.
I really just want to disappear right now. Like if I could just like sink into the floor or explode or something, that might be good. I don't want to deal with this. This is way too embarrassing.
I can't do that though. Like it or not, I have to deal with things. Ringo's not awake enough to do it for me, and even if she was, she'd be drunk. Probably not a good idea to have her smooth things over when I don't know what she's going to say or do.
So it's on me. Me and my exceedingly red face. Great. Great, great, great.
Really though, I'm still sick. I shouldn't have to do all of this.
It doesn't take that much to extricate myself from Ringo. I just have to lift her up, move her to the side, then lay her back down slowly. Honestly I don't know how much of this sleep is from being tired and how much of it might be due to the alcohol, and I don't have the experience to tell. She's on her front, so I think she should be okay to just rest like that for now either way. Getting back to the plant might be tough though. Either we'll have to wake her back up or carry her all the way down. Both sound slightly daunting to me at the moment, for lots of different reasons.
Standing up from the floor, I walk over to the door and slowly slide it open. Hm, there's nobody out here, so apparently Sanae ran away. Not really sure if that makes it better or worse to be honest. I know that I'm going to have to face Sanae again tomorrow anyway, but this at least gives me some time to properly preparing myself to clear up any misunderstandings.
I take a deep breath, just barely stopping myself from sighing. Okay, well, I may not have been directly responsible for this situation, but I do need to take care of it now.
[ ] Look for Sanae. I should clear this up now, rather than later. [ ] Look for Chiyo. She was also drunk, so taking her and Ringo back to the plant now may be for the best. [ ] Look for Yuzuki. She's the reliable one. I'm sure she'll be able to help get everyone back to the plant safely. [ ] Take Ringo back to the plant right now. I don't want to deal with anyone at the moment.
I think I am developing a sleeping problem and it is not doing nice things to my writing. I will delay by a day again, unfortunately. I have a decent portion written here, but am not thinking of a good point to end it on with my sleepless brain.
[X] Take Ringo back to the plant right now. I don't want to deal with anyone at the moment.
You know what? I'm just gonna go. I mean, I like everyone here well enough, sure, but even I can eventually get to a point where I just don't want to deal with anyone. That point is apparently right now. After an awkward and rather... Difficult situation with Ringo. It's one that I really don't know how to succinctly explain in my brain, so I definitely can't explain it to someone else either. That's kind of the problem right there. Sanae just saw what was going on, and she's a pretty curious person from what I can tell. She's going to want to know what was going on. Yuzuki probably has the same desire too. She's going to be aware of the physics of what happened between me and Ringo, so I'd have to explain stuff to her as well. Chiyo might be safe, if still somewhat drunk, but then I'd have to find her, which could mean running into someone else too, so...
Yeah, no. I'm going back underground to the plant. It's not exactly going to be easy to do by myself, but I'll manage. It's better than the alternatives.
Okay, let me think. Did I bring anything else down here?... No, I don't think so. Just the usual hammer. Hm, I'm going to have to carry that along at the same time as Ringo. There's going to be some maneuvering involved, but that's fine I guess. Being able to carry your fellow soldiers is something that you learn in basic. It may have been a while, but I know I can still do it.
Hm, although fireman's carry might be kinda uncomfortable. She's asleep, not injured. Piggyback should be fine, if a little bit difficult to keep balanced. Whatever, I'll be flying for most of the way anyway. Ringo might not be the fittest rabbit in the unit, but she's not exactly fat or anything either. I'm plenty strong enough to carry her back. She'd do the same thing for me, although, well, super strength and all that makes it not quite an equivalent deal.
Plus, I kinda doubt that we'd ever be in a situation where I'm drunk and she's not, considering her past behavior. Eh, whatever, it's the thought that counts.
I flip Ringo face up, then drag her up into a sitting position. I snake her arms over my shoulders and around my neck, then pull her legs up with my arms. She's surprisingly pretty out of it, and doesn't wake up during this process. How much did she drink anyway? Obviously more than she should have. That's twice in the past couple of days. I'm not a doctor, but I'm pretty sure there are some health concerns there. Hopefully she knows what she's doing.
Experimentally, I try standing up. Ugh. Right, sleeping people aren't really paying attention to how they're carrying their weight, so they seem a bit heavier than normal. Unpleasant, but not unmanageable. If I hunch over a bit more, then I can just support her with my back mostly. It's not exactly perfect form, and also it makes me... I'll say uncomfortably aware of certain parts of Ringo's body, but I can work past that. This is doable like this.
Okay, okay. I'm good I think. I pull up my hammer and hook it underneath Ringo's behind. That should make it pretty easy to support her more evenly, and carry the hammer too. Just loop my arms over it then under Ringo's legs and... Yeah, this is an okay setup. I can do this. It might be a little hard to get through doors, but I just have to remember to turn a bit. Easy enough.
Alright, I look at the room and feel just a little bit bad about leaving something of a mess behind. Even if I'm not responsible for it, I still don't want to just leave the bottles of alcohol and food scraps behind like this. Ugh, maybe I should have thought of that before picking Ringo up. Whoops. Well, at least Yuzuki will probably clean everything up before she leaves, so we shouldn't end up being the absolute worst guests.
So speaking of Yuzuki, even if I don't want to face her directly, I should at least let someone know where Ringo and I are going so that we don't cause a panic. It should be possible to take care of that without having to talk. I just have to signal properly to get her attention... Err, also another thing that I probably should have done before picking up Ringo. Dang, I did not think this through completely, but I have an excuse of being more than a little bit frazzled right now. You know, the whole kissing thing and all that.
It takes me a little bit before I can safely drop one of Ringo's legs, then wave my hands wildly in the air. Standard Yuzuki signal. Rather than the normal follow up of pointing in front of me, I then jerk my thumb toward the door leading outside the shrine. Hopefully Yuzuki gets the point. That isn't exactly normal procedure. If I'm unlucky, Yuzuki might interpret it as wanting to meet her outside. I kinda doubt it though. I trust Yuzuki to figure out what's up... As long as she's not to occupied by video games still, that is.
Waddling out to the entryway gives me a good chance to adjust my movement, so I feel pretty confident by the time I make it out the main door of the building and out onto the shrine grounds. Yikes, it got quite a bit colder now that the sun has been down for a while. Sure, that's been the case most other nights back when we were at camp too, but back then we were nice and secure in our tents and cots. This is different, and is not going to be pleasant. I'll probably want to fly low and slow to keep from hitting too much wind. That'd be pretty uncomfortable for both me and my passenger. Honestly, I'm not sure if Ringo's going to stay asleep this whole time, but I can manage it either way.
I stumble in the air a little bit when I first take off, but quickly adjust to my new weight distribution.
Ugh, this is going to be a long trip back.
At the very least, being (technically) alone on this long flight does give me a lot of quiet time to just think about stuff. It's kind of therapeutic actually. Just flying through the sky on a clear, empty night. Nothing to do as I fly along in the general direction of my destination other than look at the Moon and think.
You know, it isn't really a surprising realization or anything, but the Moon is getting closer and closer to being full. That never really made me nervous back when I was up there, but here I am worrying about it now. I have a pretty good excuse, given the circumstances.
Anyway, it does make me wonder what's going to happen up there. If we can manage to free the capital from the dream world, will we be heroes? Will we be famous? I don't really know if I would want either of those things to happen. It's actually really weird to think about it though. What we're doing right now is actually huge. Succeeding or failing actually changes the very nature of the lunar capital's history. Even if we're just bumbling along, getting drunk, and having generally no idea what we're doing, all of that nonsense is still important, in a way.
So no pressure I guess.
Finding the correct mountainside hole is a bit easier than expected. Even without much light, I thankfully end up recognizing the area. Dropping down the pit is a bit easier than flying, and also has a bit more cover against the wind. Honestly though, even with the confidence boost of quickly finding the place, I am a little anxious. I've only made this trip once before, and we had a guide then. Need to be careful so that I don't miss the actual plant entrance. I know it's lit up specifically so that I won't do that, but I'm still worried.
Floating down the shaft, I kind of have to wonder about this whole Moriya shrine power plant setup. This whole place is elaborate, and kind of intimidating now that I know the extent to which it goes. Honestly, it seems pretty similar to the type of thing I would expect from a lunarian military installation. While I can understand wanting to bring science and technology to Gensokyo, why does Kanako see a need to keep it hidden like this?
It just makes it feel kind of shady. Maybe the public of Gensokyo doesn't actually want the advancement? The Moriya shrine itself clearly had electricity, but the human village clearly does not. Kind of makes me wonder which side wants that disconnect to continue existing. Kanako has been called a schemer plenty of times before from what I've heard, so I'd guess maybe the people in the village don't like that? Seems kind of unfair to me. Everyone at the shrine has been nothing but nice to us, even if I might not completely know all of Kanako's motivations for helping us.
Ah, there's the door.
Travelling down the staircase goes somehow even slower than the rest of the trip. I have to be pretty careful. I take up more space due to the way that my hammer is held out horizontally, so I can't just drop down the center shaft of the spiralling stairs carelessly. I want to make sure I don't get caught on a side and lose control or drop Ringo or anything, so I take it carefully and cautiously.
Although, that's really how I take most things, isn't it? Maybe that's part of the reason that things are like this right now. Now that I have some time to think about it, I was actually kind of scared about kissing Ringo. It just seems like such a mess that I don't know how I want to get into, so of course I would hesitate. It's just... Ugh. Really, I should probably stop dwelling on this. I made a decision, it's over, it's done.
It's just hard not to have my thoughts occupied by the girl currently snoring against my back. The girl who likes me. The girl who I made cry by not accepting her because I was too nervous and...
Ugh, stop. Stop feeling guilty. It doesn't help. Feels like I need to slap my forehead to get my thoughts back in line, but I don't really have the free hands to do that. Oh well, there's plenty of time to figuratively beat myself up if I can't do it literally.
... No, seriously. Stop it.
I come to the bottom of the stairwell, which spits me out right back into the main intersection, just like yesterday. Okay, just turn this way... It's not that much farther to get back to the dorm rooms. Just gotta keep telling myself that. Honestly I'm getting kind of worn down at this point. Am I out of shape? Okay, I don't know why I'm asking the question when I already know the answer is yes. It's not like I spend any time exercising.
Ugh, this is a lot tougher considering the stairs to the dorm are too tightly packed to just fly through. Gotta take each step with this girl still sleeping on my back... Almost there...
I feel some amount of relief when I finally make it all the way up to the common area. At least there aren't any stairs. Just a little bit more to go. Before I can make the last stretch of the journey though, I'm interrupted by a voice calling out behind me.
"Yo, it's about damn time. I thought you guys might have just ditched me for good or something. " Ah, right. Sumi. She'd gone off on her own hours ago. I don't know whether to be glad that she's back here, or annoyed that she's obviously going to want an explanation for... "Err, what's up with Ringo?" Yup, there it is.
You know, as far as I can recall, Sumi was the one who ditched us to go off and do whatever, not the other way around. No real point in bringing it up though I guess. I doubt that she'd feel sorry about it, and having her with us, now that I know what did happen tonight, probably would have just made things worse. "We had dinner at the Moriya shrine," I answer back, turning around toward where Sumi's voice was coming from. It looks like she's just killing time in the sitting area. She's sprawled out on a couch, apparently not reading or doing much else of importance. "The goddesses invited us to drink afterward."
"Ah shit, and I missed it?" Sumi sits up, suddenly looking interested at the mention of alcohol. Kinda predictable really. "Damn, I would've liked to chill out with Kanako for a bit. Still need to thank her some more over the whole prison thing, you know?"
We already thanked her, and paid back our end of the deal, but I can understand the sense of gratitude somewhat. "You don't look particularly sad about missing it," I point out. She actually seems to be in a better than average moood.
"Well I had a pretty good evening myself too," Sumi answers vaguely, hopping up from her seat and strolling around the stairwell toward me. "Speaking of, how'd your guys' thing go? Good news?"
"Uh, kinda," Now that Sumi is right in front of me, I try to hunch over a bit less so I can look her in the eye properly. It's a little bit tougher to carry Ringo like this though... "Reisen's going to be looking for leads and stuff then giving them back to us. We're supposed to meet with her after work whenever we can and..." I shift the weight around a little more. Okay, this isn't working, and I don't know how long the conversation is going to continue. "Err, can I drop Ringo off first?" I awkardly break the conversation up to make a completely reasonable request, although Sumi just kinda looks at me like I'm being silly. "She's uhh... a little bit heavy," I elaborate.
Sumi smirks. "In more ways than one, right?" She laughs at the joke, but I don't really get it... Oh wait, she's talking about the liking thing again. Right. "Speaking of, you guys had a nice talk yesterday, right? Ringo said it wasn't any of my business, but I gotta know, anything nice happen between you two cuties?"
Oh, well I guess that proves that she wasn't actually listening through the wall. In a way, it's kind of surprising, since she totally would have been able to hear everything that Ringo and I said. Privacy between us rabbits is at a bit of a premium, but I guess it's easier to respect with actual rooms as opposed to tents.
So while I appreciate the thought of her not eavesdropping... Well the effect is kind of ruined when she just straight up asks me about the situation the next day. Or maybe she's only asking because it gives me the option of saying it's none of her business?
Ugh, no, even if I do that, it's going to keep coming up with the other rabbits and Sanae. Even my own brain keeps coming back to the subject. Maybe I should just get it out in the open. Whether or not I think anyone else's opinion would help, at least it would get rid of some of the pressure of keeping this whole thing a secret.
... It's not an easy conversation to imagine bringing up though.
[ ] This isn't anyone else's business. Take Ringo back to the room and stay there. [ ] Tell Sumi about what happened. Her advice may be a bit too direct, but even that has its merits. [ ] Wait for Yuzuki and Chiyo to get back, tell everyone the truth at once and get it over with.
[X] Tell Sumi about what happened. Her advice may be a bit too direct, but even that has its merits.
"Something did kinda happen, yeah," I reluctantly admit. Something kinda major happened, and as much as I might like to just move on past it, I know that's not how things work. I'm aware of it, Ringo is probably not drunk enough to not be aware of it later, Sanae is aware of it, and Yuzuki probably is too. Talking is going to happen. There's no just sweeping this under the rug forever. "... I'm gonna drop Ringo off first, then maybe we could talk about it? It'll probably be kind of a long discussion."
Sumi, in her own way, really is helpful for this kind of thing. Even if I don't always appreciate the way that she expresses her opinion, sometimes it really is helpful to have someone who is going to be one-hundred percent direct about things. She explained things about Ringo to me in the most straightforward way possible, and it actually helped a lot more than hearing it from Ringo first, considering the latter probably would have been a lot more evasive about things.
Here's hoping that she'll be able to give a much more direct and simple solution to this, because... Ugh. I adjust Ringo as she starts sagging downward slightly.
"Sure thing," Sumi takes a step toward the dorm rooms, but pauses to look back at me before going any further. "Your room or...?"
Well at least Sumi had enough tact to realize I wouldn't want to have a talk out here, but I feel like the answer is still kind of obvious. "I'm dropping Ringo off in our room, and I don't really want to wake her up," I answer "I'll come by your room."
Sumi holds up one finger for a moment. "Riiight," She points it at me, apparently noticing how obvious that should have been. "Oh, actually, you go ahead. I need to do something," She walks off to the corner of the room. Well, alright, whatever. I carried Ringo all the way here, I don't need help going the tiny bit of remaining distance.
Shuffling back to the (new) door to my room, I do encounter some slight trouble. Even though I still have the room key on me, it's kind of difficult getting it out and using it while still holding up Ringo is just a little bit difficult. I do manage it, it's just that it takes an embarrassingly long time.
It's a pretty big relief when I can finally let Ringo drop onto one of the beds. Due to the weirdness of our sleeping arrangements yesterday, I'm not exactly sure whose bed is whose, so I'll just say the one closer to the door and leave it at that. Once Ringo's no longer on my back, I take a moment to stretch. Urgh, I am out of shape...
Anyway, once I'm feeling a little bit better, I turn back with the intent to make sure Ringo is all settled in too. She's obviously not in much of a condition to be taking care of herself after all. It's not like I want her to be uncomfortable or anything. Far from it really.
Okay, let's see here... Ugh, this is... I shouldn't feel so awkward about looking at Ringo like this, but it's just so unusual and weird. Her face is still somewhat flushed, her breathing slow and even, but you can tell pretty easily that she was crying semi-recently. Neither of us had made it much of a point to properly wipe up her tears, and I can't imagine flying through the sky immediately after she got done sobbing really helped matters. Her face is a bit of a mess. If she were awake, or if I was at a point where I felt like waking her wouldn't be a horribly awkward situation, I would tell her to get up and wash her face at least. Can't really do that though.
Instead, I just try doing a few more things that I think might be useful. I take her hat off, flip her over into what I'm pretty sure is a normal sleeping position for her, and put her under a blanket instead of just sitting on top of them. There, I guess that's something. About all I can do at the moment.
... I still feel guilty though. Like I can't stop thinking this is all my fault.
I catch myself sighing as I exit the room. Damn. And here I was trying so hard not to do that anymore.
Sumi's room is just one door down, so it's only a few steps. Not enough time to really think up how I'm even going to start this conversation. Knocking on the door only gives me a couple more seconds, as Sumi tells me that the door is unlocked immediately afterward. I just get to go right in.
"Yo," Sumi is casually reclined on her bed, leaning up against the wall. To her credit, she at least looks somewhat serious. She must know that this isn't going to be a really fun conversation. At least not for me.
"Hi again. Uh, did you finish your thing?" I ask, still kinda trying to stall for time even though I know it's pretty much worthless to do that.
"Almost," Sumi answer's pointing toward one of the desks on the other side of the room. "Gotta get you to drink it first."
I follow along with what Sumi's indicating and... Oh, right. That medicine stuff. She's set a glass out of the reddish brown liquid, as well as a plain glass of water.
"Figured you've been out and about for a while, so maybe you would need a pick me up," Sumi explains as I take a step over to the desk. "Also didn't want it to go to waste or anything. We bought it, so you might as well use it."
Well, I guess I can appreciate the sentiment, even if I'm not thrilled at the prospect of drinking more of this stuff. It's not exactly that I'm completely healthy yet, but I've been kind of too focused on other things to think about being sick all that much. "Err, aren't there usually some limits to how much medicine you should take in a day?" I ask, not really that concerned about the answer.
"Sure, yeah, usually," Sumi agrees. "But for this stuff... Hell if I know. It's up to you anyway. Drink it or don't. It's up to you."
I really don't want to, but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't do it anyway. That's not exactly a unique feeling to have about medicine though. I guess it's best to just get it out of the way right now. If I can wake up tomorrow feeling not sick, at least that'll be something positive. I grab the glass of gross looking liquid, hold my breath, and...
Fixing my face from looking completely disgusted takes a little while. Eventually I manage it and turn back to Sumi.
Sumi nods thoughtfully at me for a moment. "Alright. So. What the hell's the problem?" She starts off. Err, wait. T-that's rather sudden, isn't it? "Because obviously something bad happened."
"Uh, huh?" I respond intelligently.
Sumi scoffs slightly. "It's written all over your face girl. You feel like shit, took that gross stuff and didn't even wash it down afterward?" Well I mean, I was maybe going to, it's just that... "I'm thinking you're feeling pretty guilty about something right now."
Urgh. Of course. I wasn't even trying to hide it, so obviously Sumi would be able to notice how completely... Blegh I feel right now.
Okay well, I knew I would have to talk about this. There would be no point in bothering Sumi like this if I didn't. That doesn't really make it easier, it just makes it so I can't back down now. Take a deep breath and just go. That should work. "Well, Ringo started drinking after we all ate together at the shrine. Her, Chiyo, Kanako, and Suwako. Yuzuki, Sanae, and I were all off doing something else. When I came back in to check on them, everyone else got up and went various places," I'm skimming over a lot of unimportant stuff, purposely trying to keep myself from stalling more. "So Ringo and I were alone together. I didn't really think much about it at the time. We've been alone together a ton of times, but... I don't know. Maybe it was just her being drunk and not thinking, but... She tried to kiss me.
Okay, now Sumi is definitely interested. She sits up in bed, no longer slouching. "What the hell?" She actually sounds somewhat amused? "Just like that?"
I lean back against the desk and lower my eyes to the ground without really thinking about it. "Well, she didn't like, ask or anything, we were just kinda sitting around and she just... went for it," It felt like a lot more than that at the time, but now that I'm explaining it to someone else, I'm having some trouble using the right words for how off I felt at the time.
Sumi does a small half nod before frowning. "And from the way you're talking I'm guessing she didn't pull it off."
"Err, no..." Should I have? I'm still kind of unsure. Like I think I might have made the right decision but at the same time I feel like I need to justify it better. "I wasn't like comfortable with the situation. She was too drunk to do it normally and we were still in public and-"
"Seiran, you don't gotta explain this to me. I get it," Sumi takes a deep breath after cutting me off. She glances over at the wall connecting our rooms. "Ringo... She's a dumbass. Said it yesterday and I'll say it again today. I dunno how she keeps managing to cock this up so bad, but here we are again."
"No it's..." I try to stammer out some kind of explanation "S-she was drunk, so she wasn't thinking clearly. It's not like, really her fault... Not completely anyway."
"Nah, it's her fault," Sumi flatly refuses me. "It's a dumbass move. You don't tell a girl you'll wait for her answer then go in for the surprise attack later. You do one or the other and then let whatever happens afterward happen."
"You knew about that?" I didn't tell Sumi anything about what Ringo and I discussed yesterday. Did Ringo say something?
"Ringo wouldn't tell me when I asked, but it was a pretty easy guess that that's what happened," Sumi shrugs. "I'm not a huge fan of the slow approach, but it's better than the no approach she's been doing. Anyway, I think it would've worked if she had just waited for like, one more day or something. You woulda come around in your own time."
"Um, I would have?" I'm still pretty unsure on that bit.
"Honestly..." The word comes out more like a sigh than a word. Sumi shakes her head slightly, clearly deciding on something before she continues. "Alright, fuck it. Pop quiz time. You answer these questions with a true or false. No bonus points for explaining your answer, so don't bother. I don't care about the reasons or the extra stuff, I just want a yes or a no, alright?"
"Wh-what?" Quiz? "I guess so?" What's happening right now?
"Okay, good," Sumi keeps going despite my obvious cofusion. "Question one. You like being around Ringo, right?"
I'm pretty sure I can already see where she's going with this but... "Y-yeah, but-"
"But nothing," Sumi leans forward on the bed, looking slightly annoyed. "You said yes, that's all that either of us need to acknowledge. Just do the next question. You think Ringo's cute, right?"
Well, I can't really say no to that either, but it's kind of embarrassing to just answer that with a flat yes. "I-I mean-" Sumi exhales loudly through her nose to cut me off. O-okay, that's not a nice look. Okay, sheesh, I get it. "Y-yeah."
"Next, from what you said, it sounds like you weren't against the idea of kissing Ringo, you just didn't want to do it right then, yeah?" Urk. Okay, I wasn't really expecting this one.
I mean, this should be easy to answer. I had the same kind of thoughts a couple of different times. It's not really that I'm completely opposed to the idea. It's just that it's weird. This whole thing is weird. How do you reduce that to a yes or a no? If you're just going by the word for word question that Sumi asked it would be a yes, but I feel like there's a lot of context being skipped out on there so it's kinda hard to just say yes. "I, err I mean there was just so much going on that um-"
"Yes. Or. No," Sumi clearly emphasizes each word.
Sumi finally leans back against the wall again. "See, I have a feeling we can go back and forth like this all night, but it'd be a waste of time," She folds her arms over her chest. "At this point you might as well just say it and get it over with. You like Ringo."
"H-hold on, t-that's-"
"That is not a big deal," Sumi continues off of what I said without missing a beat. "Just that fact? Who cares? It's not saying you're going to go fuck her right now, it's just one simple little fact. You just say it, then you can cut out a lot of the 'oh no what do I think, what should I do' bullshit. You can skip the quiz, turn it in early, test out of the class, I don't know, I'm not a good metaphor person," She throws her hands up in the air, apparently fed up with trying to be clever with her words. "I don't need them usually, because I think about things all direct-like. Not the point. Point is we're moving on to the last question. The only one that really matters in the end. Should be easy considering all the other ones. Do you like Ringo? Yes or no?"
Hold on, this is just a little bit... It's too much to just say something like that. I'm still confused and a little unsure. How can she just say that it's supposed to be easy? Yes, okay, it's easy to see where Sumi was trying to lead me with those other questions. I answered yes to all of them, but this one is kind of really embarrassing to agree to.
It's embarrassing... To who exactly? If I already know the answer, then I'm not fooling myself. If Sumi's already expecting the answer, then just admitting it doesn't really change anything as far as she's concerned. So who am I embarrassed over right now? Like I definitely am embarrassed, but I don't really know why. That's frustrating...
Maybe Sumi has a point here in just being direct about it.
Another deep breath, and- "Yes," I finally say, though I can't resist adding "To some degree."
That is something that I didn't really know I would have the guts to say out loud, sure, but that doesn't mean that I've actually made any progress toward... Whatever my goal here is. "Err, theres a little bit more to the problem than just saying that."
"Sure, sure, but you're never gonna make progress on any of the other parts without getting that out of the way," Sumi agrees. "I made you get over something that it would've taken you way longer to admit by yourself. That's the whole point of talking to me, right?"
"I'm not really sure," I admit. The entire goal here wasn't exactly clear, I just felt like I needed to talk to someone. Did this help? "Kind of. I was maybe hoping to get some more advice though so..."
Sumi settles down and looks a bit less triumphant. Instead, she smiles and pats a spot next to her on the bed. "Alright, sit down, relax, and ask away. We got time," She offers.
Well, okay. I do have a few concerns. At least it seems like Sumi is completely open to helping out.
[ ] What should I say to Ringo when she wakes up? [ ] Liking her is one thing, but I still feel really weird about actually going forward. [ ] You've gone out with girls and stuff before, right? What am I supposed to do in relationships? [ ] I kind of like Yamame too and I don't really know like... How to handle that along with this. [ ] Should I say anything to Yuzuki and Chiyo? I don't know what to say in that case but... [ ] Sanae saw me and Ringo almost kissing. Talking to the other rabbits is one thing. A near stranger is way harder. [ ] Should I stop sleeping in the same bed as Ringo? I feel like there might be some mixed signals there. [ ] Something else (write-in)
[X] I kind of like Yamame too and I don't really know like... How to handle that along with this. [X] You've gone out with girls and stuff before, right? What am I supposed to do in relationships? [X] Should I stop sleeping in the same bed as Ringo? I feel like there might be some mixed signals there.
[x] Liking her is one thing, but I still feel really weird about actually going forward. [x] I kind of like Yamame too and I don't really know like... How to handle that along with this. [x] Should I stop sleeping in the same bed as Ringo? I feel like there might be some mixed signals there.
[ ] What should I say to Ringo when she wakes up? [ ] You've gone out with girls and stuff before, right? What am I supposed to do in relationships? [ ] I kind of like Yamame too and I don't really know like... How to handle that along with this. [ ] Should I stop sleeping in the same bed as Ringo? I feel like there might be some mixed signals there.
[x] What should I say to Ringo when she wakes up? [X] Liking her is one thing, but I still feel really weird about actually going forward when she is drunk. [X] You've gone out with girls and stuff before, right? What am I supposed to do in relationships?
Are you guys still going on about Yamame? She has her own story. Hell, the only reason stopping won was because Ringo was drunk.
[X] Liking her is one thing, but I still feel really weird about actually going forward. [X] I kind of like Yamame too and I don't really know like... How to handle that along with this. [X] Should I stop sleeping in the same bed as Ringo? I feel like there might be some mixed signals there.
[x] What should I say to Ringo when she wakes up? [x] Liking her is one thing, but I still feel really weird about actually going forward when she is drunk. [x] You've gone out with girls and stuff before, right? What am I supposed to do in relationships?
[X] Liking her is one thing, but I still feel really weird about actually going forward. [X] I kind of like Yamame too and I don't really know like... How to handle that along with this. [X] Should I stop sleeping in the same bed as Ringo? I feel like there might be some mixed signals there.
[X] I kind of like Yamame too and I don't really know like... How to handle that along with this. [X] You've gone out with girls and stuff before, right? What am I supposed to do in relationships? [X] Should I stop sleeping in the same bed as Ringo? I feel like there might be some mixed signals there.
[X] Liking her is one thing, but I still feel really weird about actually going forward. [X] You've gone out with girls and stuff before, right? What am I supposed to do in relationships? [X] Should I stop sleeping in the same bed as Ringo? I feel like there might be some mixed signals there. [X] I kind of like Yamame too and I don't really know like... How to handle that along with this.
I try to get my thoughts in order as I make my way across the room. I'm honestly a little bit exasperated with how hard Sumi was just pushing at me, but at the same time I know this is exactly what I signed up for. Someone who would be rough and to the point with me. Even though I don't like it, I'm hoping that it ends up being for the best in the end.
Of course, there's kind of a requirement there that Sumi knows what she's talking about, but I guess that's the risk I'm working with here.
I crawl on my knees onto the bed, then turn around to prop myself up against the wall. Sumi, sitting beside me, gives me a wide smile, though I'm not quite in a good enough mood to return it. I'm still thinking about things. That's probably not going to stop, even when I start talking, so I might as well just go. "Okay, well, you got me to say... That," I admit, still feeling just a little bit embarrassed about it. "But liking her is just one part of it. It doesn't make it easier to like, move forward."
Not that I know exactly what moving forward would be in this case. Sumi seems to have her own ideas, but is that what I really want? Possibly, but probably not. "Doesn't it though?" Sumi counters back, sounding proud of herself. "I'd call just answering that question honestly a step forward already."
Well... "Kind of?" I'm not exactly sure how you quantify progress without a measurable end goal.
"But it's fine if you're still thinking about stuff," Sumi continues on past my confusion, smiling as she throws an arm around my shoulder. "In fact, I think that's a good sign. You're thirsty for more to happen. You don't want to just sit around and let the situation settle. You want to do something, right?" She doesn't wait for me to answer before patting my on the back. "So there you go! Do that! Easy."
How is it easy!? Turning toward Sumi, I try to contain stop myself from making frustrated noises in response. No, use your words Seiran. "I... Don't know what that thing that I apparently want to do actually is," I stress. "And, like, trying to think about it just feels-I don't know, weird."
Sumi nods, puffing her cheeks out slightly. After a moment, she switches from nodding to shaking her head instead. "Honestly Seiran, don't bullshit me," What? "Saying it feels weird is just an excuse you're making. That's what I wanted you to get over by admitting you like Ringo. If it really felt too weird to even consider, you wouldn't have asked me for help. You wouldn't have felt bad about making Ringo stop, and you wouldn't be all worried about dating now after years and years of it not even entering your mind back on the Moon," Sumi quickly rattles off a bunch of stuff that I'm not prepared enough to counter. "You're interested, so stop trying to pretend that you're not."
I mean... It's kind of hard to argue with all of that without saying that I'm not interested, which isn't the case. I'm just trying to not say that I am interested, which... Okay, that's not very productive for anyone. "Okay, fine, yes," I admit, trying not to sound exasperated even though Sumi is just brashly walking over all of my hesitation and nervousness. "I am interested. In general," It should be okay to add that qualifier to it at least. "But I still have no idea what to do."
"Seems simple enough to me," Sumi shrugs. Yeah, saying that really doesn't help me much. If anything it's kind of irritating. "You just go up to her and ask her for a date. She'll take you up on it, and you can go from there."
A date, huh? I was just kinda on one last night, but it was someone else asking me out. If I had to be the one leading someone else around, especially when you consider I don't know much of anything about Earth... I mean, even before that problem, there's another one. "You kind of need to slow it down for me," I mutter out. "I don't really know how dates are supposed to work in the first place."
"How they're supposed to work?" Sumi repeats skeptically. "Girl, there aren't like, fuck police that are gonna come crashing through your door just because you don't take your bitch out to a fancy enough dinner," What is she even saying? "It seriously doesn't matter what you do, as long as both of you enjoy it."
"Yeah, but..." While that may be true (at least the second part, I still don't know what was up with the first bit) being vague really doesn't help me that much right now. "I still don't really-" Asking Ringo to go somewhere or do something wouldn't at all be out of the ordinary. What would make it a date as opposed to just us being friends? "I mean, you've been in relationships, right? What do you do in this kind of situation?"
Sumi gives me a flat expression. "No, I'm being serious. I just do whatever I think will be fun and make the other girl feel good," She answers. "Like with Yatsuhashi, since I'm seeing her right now," A quick realization comes to her face. "Oh yeah, did you know about that?"
"Err, yeah," I did see them cuddling and stuff. There have also been a few other youkai who have mentioned it, but I haven't actually got a chance to talk to Sumi about it yet. Actually, I'm pretty sure there are multiple things like that where I wanted to confront Sumi about an issue, only to get sidetracked away from doing so. Man, she really gets away with a lot of stuff. I kind of envy her in a weird way.
"Yeah, she's a cutie, right?" Sumi laughs, sounding pleased with herself again. "Anyway, couple nights ago when we first met, we just hung out with the rest of the musician youkai and talked about stuff, then broke off on our own when it was clear we were into each other. Nothing much happened, we just explored the mansion and talked about a lot of stuff. It was fun, at least, what I can remember of it."
Huh. "That just kinda," I pause, not wanting to sound rude. I'm already in the middle of the sentence though, so I kinda have to finish it. "It kinda doesn't really sound like a date?" Or at least not what I would think of as a date.
Sumi shrugs again. "Who cares? We both enjoyed ourselves, date or no date, it made no difference. We had fun and decided to meet back up again later," Urgh, I don't know what the exact distinction is either. It's just weird. "And then tonight we did. Still dunno if you'd call it a date, but I'd at least call us a couple of something or other."
"Wait, tonight?" So that's what Sumi has been up to?
"Yeah. Yatsu had her harp recital thing over at the Scarlet Devil Mansion. She was nervous about it and wanted some support," Sumi explains, smiling as she remembers whatever happened. "Sucks that they didn't let me come in to hear it, so all I got to do was shoot the shit with the gatekeeper for a while until the time was up. Apparently it went well, but I still didn't let Yatsu go until she played for me too," Her grin gets a little bit more sly as she wiggles her eyebrows. "Then I played her a bit, if you know what I'm saying!"
"Err... No?" And stop nudging me like that.
"Yeah I'm just kidding anyway," Sumi laughs to herself as she quits poking at my ribs with her elbow. "We were hanging out with her sister and Raiko for most of the evening. They did pretend to leave me and Yatsu alone for a bit, but Benben was obviously still spying. I gave her a bit of a show, just to mess with her, but nothing serious."
I don't know exactly what she means by serious stuff as compared to not serious stuff, but I'm not sure that I want to know either. "So I guess things went well then?"
"Eh, pretty well. I'd still like to get together with her alone for a while, but whatever. We got time," Hm, Sumi says that, but we only have so many more days until we have to go back to the Moon. Although on the other hand, it's been obvious from the start where she stands on the stay here or stay on the Moon question, so I guess she's just expressing that.
"Right, so uh, anyway," I don't know if that really helped or not. "I guess calling it a date doesn't matter all that much?" I try to summarize the point Sumi was making. Was she making a point or did I just side track her into bragging instead?
"Pretty much. All you have to do is go somewhere and do something together while planning to get closer from it. That's it really. Don't get hung up on calling it a date," Sumi confirms for me. Okay, I guess that makes sense, even if it's easier said than done. "You can even swing it so it's just you and Ringo if you want. Just be upfront and I think everyone will understand. We'll give you as much space as you need."
Urgh, right, Yuzuki and Chiyo are still a bit of a concern too.
"And hey, if you want, I could probably hook you up with some tickets to a concert a couple of nights from now," Sumi continues on. Oh, Mystia mentioned that earlier. It sounds like her guesses about it were right on then.
"Um, I don't know yet," I respond. There's also that hot spring thing. Or I could even just take Ringo out to either the village or the underground city. I'm sure she would enjoy either one but...
Actually, how did this discussion get turned around from me refusing Ringo's advances to planning out my own? What the heck am I doing? Even though it feels like talking to Sumi is helping, I still feel so confused. Is it even helping in a way that I want help toward? Ugh.
"That's fine I guess. Just try to think something up soon if you're going to make a move, and if you aren't gonna make a move, let her down soon," Sumi suggests. It's still weird how casual she is about the idea of me either dating or rejecting Ringo. "Worst thing you can do is keep her guessing. That's how stuff like tonight happens. Or at least it does when you're a dumbass like Ringo," She chuckles a bit more, although I'm still not thinking that it was very funny. "Think about it this way. Ringo had some leeway in making anything happen because you were oblivious about her feelings. She was only stressing herself out before. Now? You don't get the same elbow room before somebody gets upset."
Okay, yeah, I really don't like the sound of that. It's still not exactly fair that I suddenly have to be the one making the decisions, but I can understand what Sumi is saying. She wants me to be clear and straightforward. Of course she does. This is Sumi we're talking about. "So then I guess I should stop like, sleeping in the same bed as Ringo then?" I guess out loud, although the answer is kind of obvious. That... might be giving her some mixed signals.
"Oh yeah, that one," Sumi nods sagely. I know she caught us in bed together at the Prismriver's and apparently thought it was more significant than it was. "Honestly, until you give her an answer, yes," She decides. "After that it's obviously fine, you can sleep together or do whatever else in bed as much as you want. But before that, nah."
Yeah, I guess I kinda knew that already. Sleeping next to someone may have been nice, if a little bit warmer than needed down here, but it really must have been complicating the situation too. That's not mentioning the danger involved either... Yeah, okay. I'll sleep separately from Ringo later I think. That's the more responsible choice, even if it's not the nicest one.
"Of course if you're so disappointed about it, you could just go tell her what you want right now," Sumi gives me a playful shove forward. Wait, what do you mean disappointed? Was it my face again? I wasn't paying much attention to what expression I was showing. Maybe I looked kind of upset for some reason? "Though I guess not until she wakes up, so you'll have to be alone for one more night. Poor you," Okay, the teasing voice is a little bit much.
"I will be okay," I assure her bluntly. I slept by myself for years and years, I can go without for another day. Or maybe even more than another day! Sumi's definitely operating as if this me and Ringo thing is already a done deal, but it's not like that's completely one-hundred percent decided at this point. In fact, I kind of have a reason to say that that isn't going to happen in the first place.
"Umm, you know, I'm already kinda dating someone else..." I feel a little bit awkward bringing this up so deep into the conversation. Actually, it kind of makes me feel sorry for Yamame. "You had me say that I liked Ringo, but I also kinda like Yamame, and I don't really know like... How to deal with that," I finish kind of vaguely, but I think she gets the message.
"Ah, right. Her. Yeah, that does make it a little bit tougher," Sumi rubs at her chin for a bit, before jumping up with her hips. She lands on her feet next to the bed and starts pacing slowly. "Okay, honestly I don't know shit about that girl other than what she looks like. Honestly?" She looks back to wink at me. "Daaaaayum," Err, what does that mean? "But that's all I got for her. I'm biased as fuck. I want you and Ringo to bump uglies until you can't move anymore and all the rest of it. Can't say the same for that other girl. You sure you want to ask me about this?"
Well... At least she had enough self awareness to tell me she was biased, even if I could kinda tell already. That has to count for something. "I've been asking you about everything else," I answer back. What's this one more thing?
"Ooookay," Sumi actually paces a bit more rather than answer immediately. Is she actually considering her words before she says them? That doesn't happen often. "Honestly, I can't think of anything that that girl could have said to you that would outweigh the decades of shit you and Ringo have waded through together," She begins. "Now I wasn't there for the beginning of the unit, so I don't know if it was always like this, but to me you two are really like... I dunno, like the real core of the unit. Or like, even more than that, if that makes sense," It doesn't really, but I wait for Sumi to continue. "Like even without the rest of us, you two were like, always going to be together..."
... Wow. Sumi's blushing at that. I mean, I am too, but that kinda goes without saying.
"A-anyway, I ain't trying to get all sappy or whatever, I'm just saying that I think you guys'd be better off together than with whoever else," Sumi continues, quickly getting over her momentary embarrassment. She turns back to fully face me. "It's all up to you though. You can go with Yamame or Ringo or fucking Kanako if you can swing it. You just gotta pick whoever makes you happy and go with it, alright?"
That's... Still really simple. It's a bit easier said than done, but I can't deny it's the most straightforward way of thinking about it.
But then I guess that's just what I should expect from Sumi.
I really am glad to have her around.
"Alright," I slip off the bed as well, standing up in front of Sumi. "I'll try."
"Bullshit," Sumi answers back. "You'll fucking nail it. You won't just try," Then she grabs me by the shoulders, pulls me closer, and hugs me.
I love my friends.
Once Sumi and I separate, I'm feeling a bit drained from a long day of... Well, a lot of things. It's probably late enough to go to bed by this point. I suppress a short yawn, which Sumi obviously catches pretty quickly.
"Alright, you get out of here and go to bed then," She suggests. "I'll take care of Yuzuki and Chiyo."
"Err..." While I agree that the going to bed is a good idea, I'm not completely sold on having Sumi explain everything for me. Sure, it'll get me out of having to talk to the others about the Ringo situation, but it'll also mean that Sumi is in control of any spin she puts on the story. While it might be nice to have this done right here and now... Hm, I'm not sure.
[ ] Let Sumi talk to the other rabbits about Ringo [ ] Tell Sumi not to talk to the other rabbits about Ringo
[ ] Take a pill [ ] Don't take a pill - [ ] Bullets - [ ] Suppress - [ ] Gravity - [ ] Hero
[X] Let Sumi talk to the other rabbits about Ringo
[X] Don't take a pill - [X] Hero
It's not that I don't think Sumi is trustworthy or anything. She really is! It's just that she's already shown that she's definitely intending to push me toward a certain course of action. I can kind of give her a bit of a pass on that as well though, since she seems quite aware of it, and has even told me out loud that she actually is biased. There is some genuine effort on her part to be fair and honest, but she can't help but slip her own opinion in too. Hard to ask for more than that really. I don't think anyone I talk to is going to be completely one hundred percent impartial all the time. Even if they were, then I think that would more speak to them not caring than anything else. Sumi definitely cares, you couldn't possibly convince me otherwise.
What about the others though? What are they going to think? I'm pretty sure that they'll care one way or the other too, but I'm not completely sure how they'll react otherwise. Will they be upset or angry or anything? Yeah, I doubt that. There'd be no reason for it. It's hard not to be nervous anyway though. There's this annoying feeling that I won't say the right words or I'll cause misunderstandings and embarrassment to myself or... Bleugh, no thank you. I'm okay with letting Sumi handle this, since she volunteered.
"Well, if you're willing to wait up for the others, then sure," I finally answer. Even despite sleeping a lot of the day, I am feeling somewhat drained in various ways. I don't know if I'll fall asleep immediately or anything, but I won't mind the chance to lay down and take it easy. Although falling asleep earlier also means waking up earlier. I do kind of have something of an appointment with Sanae to go meet Marisa... Although come to think of it, that also means talking with Sanae which is um...
"Hey, you don't have to look worried, I got this," Sumi suddenly reassures me about the wrong thing.
"Oh, err," I probably wasn't paying attention to my expression again. It really doesn't do me any good to keep realizing that after the fact if I don't do anything about it. "I wasn't worried about you, it was um... I'm also going to have to talk to Sanae tomorrow."
Sumi strides back over to her bed and sits back down, looking at me with a small amount of confusion. "Sanae? Why? You forget something up there?"
"No it's not that," I double checked enough to make sure that didn't happen in fact. "I just have a um, thing planned," Should I mention what the appointment is for? Err... Maybe later.
"Hm," Sumi apparently accepts the very little explanation that I actually gave her. She just nods and appears to go back to her normal relaxed attitude. "Well, if you need me to, I can talk to her about it too. Not like I have much going on tomorrow morning either."
While I appreciate the thought, that might be a bit overkill. It's not like I owe Sanae an explanation in the same way that I would the rest of the unit. I could just tell her that it's none of her business... Or at least I could if I didn't hate being rude. "I'll think about it," I answer vaguely.
There is a certain point where relying on your friends for help goes too far. I have no idea if that would be passing that point or not. I'm not sure about a lot of things regarding my friends right now though. I think it can be excused.
I stop by the restroom after leaving Sumi's room. The urge to shower is definitely there, but I kind of want to minimize my time wandering around. It feels a little evasive, but not running into the other rabbits is probably for the best right now. I don't know when they're going to come back, so I settle for simply washing my face off a bit and preparing myself for bed. It's a nice bit of comfort, even if I end up feeling a little bit jumpy the whole time.
Anyway, my discretion pays off, thankfully. On the way back to my room, I don't run into anyone. Well, it isn't exactly a long walk anyway, so the chances aren't actually that high. It also probably helps that I kind of hustle a little bit.
Okay, fine, I'm being shady. Whatever.
When I get back to the room, everything is about as quiet and still as you would expect. Ringo is... Still asleep and umm, sprawled out on her bed...
Guh, Come on! It hasn't even been an hour since I last saw her! Why should I feel so awkward now? Yes, okay I did kind of admit, out loud, with my own voice, just a few minutes ago that I um... That I liked her...
Aaaargh! Come on you stupid dumb idiot! There isn't even anybody else around! Why are you blushing!? She's not even doing anything aside from sleeping! Why are you all embarrassed!? Yes she might look a little bit more cute than you really remembered her being but um... GAH! Why are you being so gay!?
I throw myself down on top of the unoccupied bed and bury my face in the pillow.
... Urgh now my face is way too hot. I can't breathe either.
Flipping over to stare at the ceiling instead, I easily notice the bullet holes from this morning.
... Sometimes you just can't win no matter what you do, huh?
I at least manage to keep myself from sighing as I get up to turn off the lights. Just go to sleep. Things will hopefully be a little better in the morning.
Aaaaaah, this is much better. Err, better than what exactly? Hm, I don't know. Most everything that happened before this point, I suppose. Of course, the current situation is a bit of a high bar to reach. Can't
It's a very beautiful day out this cycle. Hm, I would put the time of day as just about noon based on the position of the sun. Nice, that means there should be plenty more cycles of this to go. I could go out.
Feel a hand slap my back playfully, have to turn to see it. it's Ringo. Oh wow, I didn't know Ringo owned a full suit. She looks really good in that! I don't know if the hat really matches, but whatever. "Hey, you spacing out?"
Ha ha ha. Like I haven't heard that one before, considering where we actually are. Still, can't help but glance back at the window. Obviously I can't see the Earth right now. It's midday! I just felt like I wanted to see it again for a second, you know? "Yeah, sorry, did you say something?"
"Nah, I just thought you'd be more excited." "It's an award ceremony!"
Oh, right. That. Honestly things have been such a blur for me ever since we got everything back to normal. Well, okay, things aren't really normal normal. They're more like kinda sorta normalish. Or maybe less than that? I guess the only real
Yeah, there we go...
Looking out toward the stars, this definitely is much better. Kinda relaxing, if a little bright. Well, what else would you expect considering the position of the sun? Of course it's going to be bright out this many cycles into the day. The sun is only halfway across the sky, we've still got plenty of cycles worth of sunlight to go.
I feel a hand pat my back suddenly. Soon after that is a friendly voice. "What's up, you spacing out or something?" Oh har har har, like I've never heard that pun before. The most standard joke you'll ever hear, and yet Ringo has made it so many times. Guess it's accurate this time though. I wasn't really thinking about much in particular, and was just kinda staring at nothing. Turning around so that I can properly respond to Ringo's voice, I see-Oh wow! It's been a while since I've seen Ringo in the uniform. She looks really good like that, even if the hat doesn't really match. She can pull it off much better than I can. Personally, I'm feeling a little bit uncomfortable in this suit jacket thing.
"Err, yeah, something like that," I admit. My thoughts were really far away just now, and I don't remember what I was so focused on. Maybe trying to remember what was going on today? That's the right line of inquiry I think. Why are we in uniform? Why are we so high up in this building? Where are the others? I have a lot of questions, but don't ask any of them. "Sorry, were you saying something?"
"Nah, just trying to get your attention," Ringo takes her hand off of my back and steps away, gesturing toward a door on the inside of the building. "We're supposed to head in soon I think. You ready to go?"
Ready? Ready for what? I glance around the hallway that we're currently standing in. It's just bordering the exterior wall of the building, near the top floor of one of the several skyscrapers in the city. The windows give a great view to the rest of the capital. Pretty sure I've never been in this one before now, in fact I don't really recognize it, or the part of the capital it's in either. If I was just looking at it from the outside though, I would guess that they just do some kind of generic business work in here. Not something that I'd normally be involved in. What are we even here for? "I'm ready, I was just... thinking about stuff," My mouth says without my brain even telling it to.
"About everything that happened?" Ringo sounds amused at the idea. "Man if I let you do that we'll be here until tomorrow!" Grabs me and starts walking. "Just stop worrying about it. We did our job and did it well, so now we're getting rewarded. Simple. Out of character for them, but simple. That's what happens when you become heroes."
We did what now?
While Ringo pulls me into the building, I cast one last look back out at the sky, just out of curiosity. I don't know the reason for it, obviously given the time of day I wouldn't see anything but the sun, or maybe some other stars further away, but... For some reason I just felt like I wanted to look at the Earth.
Ringo flings open the large double doors, leading me along into some kind of banquet hall...
Pure. Pure white. The whole place is rather regal, elegant, and almost offensively white. If it weren't for the accents of the various plates and trays along the center, as well as the faces of the people sat there, I would almost call this place blinding. It's too bright. Everything is too spotlessly white. There's no texture. Who thought this was a good idea?
A clear voice calls something out, although I somehow miss all of the words. Commander Yorohime! Even if it's been a while since I've last seen her (has it?), my body still snaps to attention at the sound. From the movement beside me, Ringo has the same reaction. Hah, of course we would be like this still, even if I'm not catching the specifics of what's being said, just the voice is enough.
Well, anyway, of course the commander would be here. We're obviously doing something important right now, although I don't know why Ringo and I would be invited if that were the case though. The commander of Lunar Defense Corps is obviously important. Her sister who starts speaking next, Lady Toyohime, is obviously important. Lady Sagume, Lady Chang'e(?), Lord Tsukuyomi(???), so many others... Yeah, they're all very important. Why are we here then? A few people start to clap, and I can't help but feel it's directed at me.
Something feels wrong.
More people speak, but I can't focus on the words. It just seems so dissonant. Like I shouldn't be here. No, I definitely shouldn't be here. Why am I here? Why are people so thankful for whatever we did? Why do they keep using that word? It can't be right. I don't want it to be right. I'm just really uncomfortable right now.
The feeling doesn't go away once people stop making speeches. Ringo and I sit down at the table, and dinner begins. Is it dinner or lunch actually? I don't know what time of the cycle we're in. My schedule has been kind of a blur ever since we came back. In fact, most things have been a blur. I can't remember when we came back, or what we did that people are so happy about us doing.
The dinner... It doesn't taste like anything. I can't taste anything other than blandness. The vegetables taste like water, the rice tastes like plastic. It's all too sterilized. Why are they feeding us this? I would rather have field rations than this. Did the food here always taste so bad? Even the Kogasa surprise was better. Tasting horrible is at least tasting like something. This is just... Way too plain.
Ringo's shovelling this stuff down though. Is it just me? Something is definitely wrong. This meal... It's for us, right? What are we celebrating? What did Ringo and I do? I try to remember it while I continue to mechanically eat whatever ends up in front of me. It's not fulfilling. I want another fruit salad from Merlin. I want some more eggplants from Minoriko. I don't want this stuff. It doesn't taste like anything.
"So, are you ready?"
"Huh?" Who said that? I look up and... Reisen? Err, not Reisen the one on Earth, the other one. I've never met her before, but I at least know who she is. She's holding a small microphone out in front of me, and has some kind of medal in the other hand. I can kinda read what it says from here-Medal of Heroism? Is that a real thing? Wait, what is that for?
"You're supposed to make a speech," Reisen prompts me, waving the microphone intently. "That's part of the award ceremony."
Err, a speech? In front of all of these people. These ridiculously important people that are in charge of basically everything on the Moon? I'm supposed to get up and talk about whatever happened? Right now?
... No. "Err, yeah, just a second," The lie comes out easily enough. Reisen backs away as I get up from my chair.
There's some confused muttering as I practically run out of the room, back into the exterior hallway. I hear a few utterances 'hero' from people, and can't help but speed up even more whenever I hear the word. Get me out of here. I didn't do anything. I didn't want to do anything, and I don't want to do anything now. I need to get out of here!
When I enter the hallway again, it's no longer bright outside.
Wait, how could that be? It was midday last time I looked! There's no way I was in there for more than a few hours, right? Why is it dark outside?
I race over to the window and look outside. The sun isn't out anymore. When I look through the sky again, I don't see it.
Instead, I see the Moon.
... Then where am I?
... Wait... The mission... So then that means that I'm... I need to confirm this. There's no way. I couldn't have made that happen. That's wrong. I didn't want that to happen! They didn't tell us that that was the plan! That's wrong!
I need to get out now! Looking up and down the hallway, of course there's no exit to the building this high up. I'd need to go down or up... Or just out. That should work. I can go out through the windows, I just have to get them out of the way first. Where's my hammer? Ugh, of course I wouldn't have brought it to this, would I? No, I didn't.
Well, I do have an alternative.
Two bullets, the first ones I can grab. That's all it takes to shatter one of the large panes of glass. The shards fall away neatly, out and down toward the city. I don't pay them much attention. If I'm correct (and I'm really hoping that I'm not), it shouldn't matter. No, no time to worry about that, I need to confirm something.
Launching myself out of the window, I fly as fast as I can in a random direction. My actual destination isn't specific. I don't care where I end up, as long as I can see what I need to see. The edge of the city. What happens when I get to the end of the lunar capital? Ordinarily, it should just let out to the bleak fields of nothingness that are the rest of the Moon.
But this time it doesn't.
There's a twisting, awful feeling in my gut. I see... What used to be trees. Discolored, lifeless husks of nothing that used to be trees. They've been purified. The further and further I fly, the more remains I see. Things that used to be alive, purified so that we could move in. This isn't the Moon. This is the Earth.
Or at least it used to be, before some hero came by and finished her mission.
... I want to scream, panic, cry, freak out, something. They tricked me. I didn't mean to do all of this. If I had known that this was the end goal, I wouldn't have!
But of course, I did do this. It was an order, and I followed it. It was a mission, and I accomplished it. We save the Moon from invaders. We made it so Lunarian society could continue. We're heroes.
I feel sick just thinking the word, but my body keeps flying forward...
Waking up... Is not very pleasant. I'm not sick, but I don't feel good. Mentally that is. It's like I feel guilty, even if I know I shouldn't. It was just a dream. Just a nightmare, really. I don't have to think about it. Just push it away and out of my mind like all the other ones. I don't have to feel guilty about our original mission.
Yes, okay, deep down, I know that something like that could have happened. Or at least some of it maybe. None of it did though. We failed.
And in a lot of ways, I'm actually glad for that. It doesn't mean that I don't still want to help the capital, but... Well, they have quite a bit of explaining to do afterward. I know I'm not really in a position to make demands of them right now, but...
Well, maybe if I really did become their hero or something.
... That's still really weird to think about. A bit better when I'm doing it on my own terms though.
When I slide out of bed and turn on the lights, I quickly see that Ringo has already gone somewhere. She at least left another post it note on the desk though, which makes it somewhat better.
I owe Rikako a favor after yesterday, so I'll be out taking care of that for a while. Left some money out for you if you wanna go somewhere. See you later. -Ringo
Hm. I kinda get the feeling that she might be intentionally avoiding me to some degree. Although honestly I'm not sure what I would do even if I woke up and she was right here to talk to either, so that kind of suits me just fine. We don't have to be together every hour of every day, especially if things are just going to be awkward.
I move the note to the side, and see a handful of coins were stacked up underneath it. Hm, alright, hopefully this should be enough to get breakfast, or maybe I could just save it and eat a ration instead. It wouldn't exactly be a glamorous start to the morning, but having some money on hand just in case seems like a good idea to me.
Pocketing the coins and turning to grab my hammer, something else happens to catch my eye. Is that-yeah, okay. I'm really not all that surprised anymore. Like I still hate it, and I'm still kind of embarrassed about it, but I'm not surprised. Maybe I'm getting a bit too jaded about things.
There are a couple new bullet holes in the wall.
Ugh. Probably going to have to take care of that too then. I guess it could wait though, I also have an appointment with Sanae. Several things to do, though I think I have a pretty good amount of time to actually get them done. The only other obligation that immediately comes to mind is meeting up with Reisen again, and that's not until afternoon.
[ ] Go get breakfast - [ ] In the cafeteria - [ ] Stay in the common area and eat some rations [ ] Look for Ruukoto. There are some more bullets that need removed [ ] Look for [ ] Head to the shrine to meet up with Sanae - [ ] Bring along Sumi - [ ] Bring along Chiyo [ ] Something else (write-in)
I have had a very long day, let me tell you...
Next update miiiight be in a new thread? Depends on what the vote count is once voting is over. Don't know yet.
[X] Head to the shrine to meet up with Sanae - [X] Bring along Chiyo
Really though, while I don't exactly like the fact that there are bullet holes in the wall to my room no, they're not really doing any harm, are they? I can probably just leave it alone. Ruukoto will clean the room eventually, and at that point she should be able to fix that small problem. In the meantime, it will only serve as yet another reminder that I am a dangerous individual that really really needs to control herself before someone gets hurt.
... Urgh, that kind of devolved into some more self-loathing, which probably isn't productive. Need to snap out of that, even if it is kind of justified. The core idea is sound though I think. The bullet holes aren't doing anything bad other than making the place look a little bit trashier. I can live with that, and I think Ringo will be understanding too. I'll just move on.
So I don't really know what time it is. That could be an issue possibly. I don't think I slept in exactly, but I also don't know the exact time that meeting up with Sanae is supposed to happen. The best way to solve this is getting ready and heading out, then hopefully I can figure things out from there.
It doesn't take very long to get myself ready enough to go. Just need to gather up my things (including the money Ringo left behind), make a quick stop in the restroom to make sure I'm presentable, then decide on a destination. Okay, first and foremost, I'm hungry. Rations aren't sounding like the best idea right now, I think I'll at least check the cafeteria.
... Although I would kind of like to have someone else with me when I do that. It's not that I don't think it's safe it's just that I would like to not look like some kind of weird loner. What are my options there? Ringo is out somewhere, Yuzuki is likely still out on a shrine visit as well. My only choices right at this moment are Sumi and Chiyo. At least, I think they're both choices. I'll have to check.
Feeling just a little bit hesitant, I take a deep breath, then knock on the door to Chiyo and Yuzuki's room. Okay, no big deal, just have to act natural. Just because Sumi told the others about various issues that I'm dealing with, that doesn't mean I have to get all weird.
Hm, did Chiyo go somewhere too or-"It's open," Oh, she just took a little while to answer. Okay.
... Er, wait, for Chiyo, 'taking a little while' has a bit of a more significant meaning. This might be a bit of a bad sign.
I open the door and head inside to find Chiyo herself wrapped up in a couple blankets on the nearest bed. She's sitting up, but only barely. Just enough to look at me. Ugh, how can she manage to use blankets like that in this heat? She does know about all the fire that this place is right next to, right?
"Hey," Chiyo greets me after I've already closed the door and walked over to her. Yup, definitely some delay to her. Powers acting up again. She's been doing pretty well lately, but I guess it has to catch up with her sometime.
"Hey Chi," I answer back. "You feeling okay? Didn't drink too much last night I hope?" Of course, we both know that she's not at full capacity already, but I try to keep it casual for her sake.
Chiyo slowly works her way out of the blankets to face me, only answering once she's completely separated herself from all the coverings. "Ringo and Suwako were the ones drinking most of it anyway," She mutters, reaching up to unruffle some of her bedhead. "'m fine."
Hm, well that's good to hear at least. Actually, I'm kind of relieved. She didn't bring up the me and Ringo thing immediately. I was actually really worried that she would. I mean, I know that that isn't really her personality, but... I'm projecting again. Ugh, stop it, just move on. "Alright, well I was going to go downstairs and get something to eat. Ringo left me some allowance. Do you want to come along?"
Chiyo takes a few seconds to process what I said, then I hear her sigh. "I wasn't really gonna go anywhere for a while..." Oh, right. I'm kind of putting her in a tough position if she actually doesn't want to come along. She can't really prepare rations properly in her current state.
"Err, we don't have to if you don't want to!" I assure her quickly. "I was just-"
"But I guess it's fine if-oh, sorry," Chiyo was just putting a pause between thoughts, but I interrupted her before she could continue. Then she didn't realize that I was taking my turn in the conversation until she was already interrupting me in return. This kind of thing happens pretty often with Chiyo in this state.
Neither one of us talk for a moment, I think it's a long enough pause that Chiyo is waiting for me to continue. Yeah, this can get kind of awkward, but I'm also more or less used to it. Chi has to know that I don't hold anything against her. "I was just hoping to get something a little bit nicer than a ration. We can stay up here if you want."
Chiyo pauses to make sure that I'm not going to continue on, then finally replies. "Right, and I was saying that I guess it's fine if that's what you want to do," She swings her legs off the side of the bed and gingerly steps down, making sure that her footing is solid for a bit longer than natural for other people. "I'm either stuck in bed or stuck following one of you guys around, and I do gotta eat something eventually."
"Well, Ringo and Yuzuki are both out right now, but you could wait for Sumi if you'd rather do that," I know that those two do tend to get along, so I don't think anything is wrong with offering. I'm not trying to force her into going along with me.
"... Nah, I'm up. Let's go," Chiyo decides after a moment.
Of course, she's not exactly in the most presentable state either. I have to push her along to clean herself up in the bathroom before we can get downstairs. It takes up a little bit of extra time, but I think it'll be worth it. I'd hate to be eating breakfast alone in an unfamiliar place.
Down the stairs, past the intersection, over to the cafeteria. It's pretty convenient actually. A much shorter distance than what we would often have to do to get food back in any of the mare bases. Of course, the food was free back then where it isn't now, so there's some pluses and minuses to the situation, as usual.
The cafeteria itself is surprisingly empty, or at least more than I expected it to be. Maybe this is normal though? I guess there are actually a lot of possible explanations. Either this place doesn't serve a lot of customers, or we're here too early or late for the breakfast rush. Yeesh, this is really confusing. My sense of time is all off compared to when we were on the surface, or even on the Moon. I imagine it's even worse for Chiyo though.
In any case, as I look around, I see a couple kappa grouped together at a table, as well as a few isolated youkai scattered here and there that I can't immediately identify. One really tall dark haired girl with black wings waves happily as I glance past her. Um, hum. Do I know her? No, I'm actually positive that I don't. I think she's just being friendly. I offer half a sheepish wave back, just because she doesn't appear to be losing any steam in trying to give me a greeting. She smiles happily at my response, then goes back to what is frankly an excessive amount of food.
Well... Anyway, I decide to put that aside while Chiyo and I go and secure some food. Since this place isn't exactly bustling with activity, it seems like they're going with a process that's more like restaurant than a cafeteria really. The food isn't all laid out for us to pick up and grab what we want. It's instead made as you order. That makes me a little bit anxious. Ordering food at restaurants is always a little pressuring, especially when I have to look over the menu and decide on everything while people are waiting on me and... Ugh.
Although... Here the oni behind the counter barely seem to be paying attention to me and Chiyo. There's only a couple, one standing near the counter to take orders, and probably two of them further back in the kitchen to cook. At least it sounds like two of them. I can definitely hear more than one jovial singing voice from back there.
... Well, I guess I can't fault them for having a good time.
Even Chiyo manages to pick something out and order it faster than I do, but I eventually manage to pick something out. I was hoping for something like a salad or fruits or something, but it seems like most of what the serve down here is kind of more... Hearty, I guess would be the proper word. Even the mushroom soup that I settle on seems like it will be a bit heavy for a breakfast, but I guess there's no helping it. Like Sanae said, they're somewhat limited in their selection down here. If you took out all the stuff with meat in it, I ended up with even less to choose from.
Chiyo and I give our orders to the oni behind the counter, who quickly starts yelling at his fellow workers to get their-ahem, their butts in gear and get back to work. The two of them agree, though they quickly end up going back to singing anyway.
Okay, next is paying, right? I've not really used Earth money all that much, but I just have to match up numbers, right? Should be simple. Let me see here, Chiyo's and mine together should-"Hey! Are you two new here!?"
I nearly jump in surprise. A few seconds later, I actually hear Chiyo do the same. Sheesh! Don't sneak up on me like that! I turn to the voice and see that winged youkai that had been waving at me earlier. She's... Actually pretty tall now that she's standing right next to me. "Err, um, y-yeah?" I try and completely fail to not stammer too much. Did I do something wrong? I really hope I didn't do anything wrong. I just want breakfast, I swear!
"Oooh, okay. That's what I thought!" She sounds cheerful rather than angry. Good sign? "I was pretty sure that I hadn't just met you and then forgotten. I've done that in the past, but I've been getting a lot better about it!" She's also kind of rambling. Okay, at first I was kind of intimidated, but it's quickly seeming like that worry was completely unwarranted. "My name's Okuu! Who're you?"
I'm still kind of a little put off by the suddenness of this whole encounter, but okay, introductions then. "This is Chiyo, and I'm Seiran," I purposely introduce Chiyo first so that she doesn't think that I'm expecting her to talk after me.
"Seiran, and Chiyo," Okuu nods to me and Chi in turn, speaking slowly to herself as if she's going to forget otherwise. "Okay! Do you guys want to join me for breakfast? I'm always interested in making new friends down here!"
"I guess so?" Even if a little overbearing, this girl does seem to be pleasant enough. I'm also not really the best about saying no to strangers so... I kind of make the decision automatically.
"Great!" Okuu actually hops up in joy before turning to the oni behind the counter. "Ah, Yorozu! You can put their food on my bill too, okay?" Wait, she doesn't need to do that! I mean, I'm not going to complain about the hospitality, but I still feel kind of bad about it.
The oni laughs heartily in response. "Miss Satori's gonna get on your case again!" He warns, not sounding at all worried about it.
"It's okay!" Okuu smiles back. "Fuel doesn't come cheap, right?"
The food that we ordered gets delivered to us shortly after that. Okuu quickly leads Chi and I back to the table I saw her at earlier. Sitting back in her seat, utterly surrounded by miscellaneous (mostly meat) dishes, she regards the two of us happily. Sheesh, all of this is breakfast for her?
"So, are you guys down here to help work in the plant?" She starts talking quickly. Chiyo seems content to start eating immediately, so I guess it's up to me to carry the conversation. Great.
Okay, here to work on the plant? No. "We're just staying down here for a few more days actually," I'm still not sure how in depth I'm supposed to go on the whole Kanako agreement. "We're uh, recently displaced rabbit youkai."
"Ooh, okay," Even though that felt a little flimsy to me, Okuu seems to accept it at face value easily enough. "That's a shame though. I was hoping that you would be helping with the reactor or something, then we would be working together all the time!"
Wow, we've only just met and it really seems like she wants to be friends. I don't really think I've done anything all that impressive, so maybe Okuu is just kinda like that. I don't really want to call her simple, but... Wait, hold on a second. "You work in the reactor?"
Okuu smiles wide. "Yeah, I work on... Well, it's kinda hard to explain. I'm kinda like a regulator? Or something like that? Let's just say I do fusion stuff," She nods to herself sagely, as if that was much of an explanation.
... Wait, didn't Sanae say something about this? Don't bother Orin or Okuu if you run into them? Well, she's not working now, so it should be fine. I guess this girl is actually pretty important though, slight misgivings about her behavior aside.
No, even that's mean to think about! She's been perfectly nice so far, and clearly just wants to be friendly. There's no reason to think anything bad about her!
"Yeah well, I don't think any of us are smart enough to do that kind of stuff. So nope, no working here for us," I say honestly. "We uhm, might not even be around all that much once we get back on our feet," Although that remains to be seen. I'm not really planning that far ahead.
"Back on your feet?" Okuu glances down at her own legs. Wait, is one of those encased in concrete? "Huh, well if you need help, you should come by the palace!" She offers. "Miss Satori is always willing to help and give advice to animals like us!"
A-animals? Who is she calling... Okay, well, I guess I did say that I'm a rabbit youkai. Being from the Moon means that I'm not quite the same thing, at least I'm pretty sure, but whatever. Pointless distinction. At least, objectively pointless. Subjectively I guess I still have a bit of Moon pride for whatever reason.
Err, anyway. "The palace?" I ask. I'm pretty sure I know what she's talking about.
"Yeah, the palace of the Palace of Earth Spirits!" Right, Yamame pointed that place out before. I'm still not sure if I have any reason to go there, but at least I know what Okuu is talking about. "That's my home when I'm not working here! If you come by when I'm off, we could have all kinds of fun!"
That's a bit different from helping us out in some nonspecific way, but it's hard to fault Okuu for her enthusiasm. "Right, and what does this miss Satori do?"
"She's really great! She's can read minds, so she's really good at helping people through problems and giving advice!" "Although sometimes I think she's a little hard to understand and-" Okuu is suddenly cut off by a loud beeping coming from around her waist. She jumps slightly before quickly producing some kind of... Electronic gauge thing? "Oh! Sorry, I need to get back down to the reactor," She stands up from the table and immediately starts moving away. "It was nice meeting you! Bye!"
... She left all of her food behind.
With no more conversation to make, Chiyo and I finish up eating quietly. Even with her head start, Chiyo still takes a little bit longer than I do for whatever reason. It's kind of hard to tell if she's lost in thought or just moving slowly because of her powers. Still, it doesn't take an extremely long time, and we eventually get up and get ready to go.
Once we step out of the cafeteria doors and back into the hallway, Chiyo finally speaks up. "Hey," She mutters to me. "Are you sure you want me hanging around you today?"
Oh not this again. We've been over this. "... Chi..."
"I mean, I'm not trying to sound sorry for myself," Chiyo manages to cut me off, but I don't think she meant to. She wouldn't have had the reaction speed to do that with how little I said. "I'm just still kinda unsure about this whole Moon thing," It's been a day since we had that conversation. Has she been thinking about it this whole time? "I feel like... Talking to somebody without having to put it into words might actually be a good thing for me."
Ah, that's what Chiyo's been thinking about. It's a completely valid problem. I was the one who told her that she should try to figure things out instead of pushing her in one direction or the other. It's a bit hard to easily tell how Chiyo is feeling through her generally rather muted emotions, but she definitely seems troubled over things. I've still got my own appointment to worry about though...
[ ] Tell Chiyo that it would be nice to have her around today, and we can talk about the Moon thing some more later [ ] Tell Chiyo that it would be nice to have her around today, and we can go to the palace later [ ] Take Chiyo to the palace now [ ] Let Chiyo stay behind and wait for Okuu to be off of work for long enough to take her to the palace [ ] Something else (Write in)