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File 149825158865.png - (1.68MB , 1000x1414 , Your friendly neighborhood bunny girls.png ) [iqdb]
28002 No. 28002
Previous Thread: >>27514

[X] Tell Chiyo that it would be nice to have her around today, and we can go to the palace later

I understand the concern, like I really do. Chiyo's still mixed up and confused and everything. I've been there before, plenty of times. At the same time though, I also don't think it's the best plan to immediately run off to the palace. Okuu seemed like whatever she had to go do was pretty urgent, and while it's possible that we could get in on words alone, I don't really like the idea of trying. What would we do, just walk up to the house and knock? No thanks. "I think that if you want to stop by there eventually, then you should," I tell Chiyo evenly. "I could even go with you. For today though, I'd still like to have you around."

Chiyo takes a bit of time to absorb the words as we continue through the hallway, but finally gives one short nod in response. She doesn't say anything, in fact she seems to immediately lose herself in thought. It's still really hard for me to read her when she's like this. Compared with all the other rabbits, I've known her for the shortest amount of time, that's true, but it's still been decades. Part of me really wishes she would open up more. Even if it's not to me, then to someone at least.

But then, maybe she really can't? It's not like I'm any stranger to personality hangups myself. Maybe that's why she wants to go and talk to somebody that would be able to read her mind. She wouldn't have to really put her thoughts into words. Or, maybe she would? I don't know the exact mechanics of how mind reading works.

Actually, the more I think about it the more I get slightly uncomfortable at the idea. There's a lot of stuff in my mind that I really wouldn't want to share with other people. Apparently Chiyo still thinks it's worth it though? Personally I rather just go to the extra effort and force myself to talk to the people I know about things. Maybe she thinks that the amount of self censoring that her verbal filter would do would keep a talk like that from being helpful? Hard to tell. Like I said, Chiyo can be hard to read at times.

Anyway, with breakfast finished and no real reason to stop back by the room, Chiyo and I head directly for the staircase up and out of the plant. Briefly, I entertain the notion of going back upstairs and grabbing Sumi, but quickly decide against it. While I appreciate her being there for me, I have a feeling she'll have more fun going out and doing her own thing today. She's a big girl, and has proven plenty of times that she's more than capable of finding stuff to entertain herself. Although now that Sumi has come to mind...

I take a quick glance at Chiyo before we lift off to fly up the stairwell. She hasn't said anything about the Ringo situation yet. Is she going to? While yeah, some part of me is really relieved about the silence... I'm also kind of really curious about what she thinks, and... No, Chiyo isn't the type to gossip about things. She probably won't bring this up on her own. If I want answers, I'll have to ask for them myself.

I'm just... Not quite to a point where my curiosity is trumping my embarrassment yet. I'll stay quiet for a little longer.

The somwehat narrow passage on the flight up, combined with Chiyo's powers, makes conversation somewhat difficult. Our trip to the Moriya shrine goes in relative silence. We just focus on flying up the stairwell, then out the hole in the ground.

Coming up into the open sky, I'm greeted to a pretty nice day out. The sun is up and shining, and it's not too cold, even if it has definitely been getting steadily colder the longer we've stayed on Earth. I'm not too happy about that... But hey, it looks like we're still in mid-morning right now too, so that's also a good thing. I probably won't be too late. Yup, everything seems to be starting off pretty well.

Although I'm still kind of nervous about what happens next.

Suwako aside, it's been... A really long time since I had anyone try to look at my powers. The previous experience in the hospitals back on the moon was rather... It was not something I'd wish on anyone. Once they got me to a point where I could simply take a pill to suppress the effects, I was pretty happy to do so if it meant only having to come in for the occasional checkup. I just straight up don't like the idea of letting more people poke at and experiment with trying to fix me, even though I know it's for the best. Well, at least I can take some comfort in knowing that I'm not going to a hospital this time. I'm going to talk to one of Sanae's friends.

Whether that's better or worse... No, I should try to stay positive about things. This will work out. Even if it doesn't, anything should be better than being stuck back in a lunarian hospital. Just keep going forward.

As we make it around the mountain and to the shrine, it's not hard to find who we're looking for. Sanae is once again predictably out on the grounds, cleaning up the recently fallen leaves. Man, it seems like a really big problem now. When we first got here, all the leaves were nice and behaved, staying on the trees. Now that it's been however many days, everything has just devolved into a mess. Must be tough to live with this happening every year. Still pretty okay with not having trees on the Moon.

Sanae catches sight of Chiyo and I before we've even touched ground. She immediately gives up on her sweeping and comes over to greet us. Seems like she's more than ready to go out instead of spending the day on a dumb chore like this. "Hey you two!" She calls out with a wave. "I've already talked with lady Suwako, so I'm in the clear to go out for a few hours."

Well, that sounds good to me, although I don't know how long this will actually take. "And Kanako?" Chiyo asks from beside me after a short pause.

Sanae only hesitates for a moment. "Well... She's out and about this morning taking care of some business, but everything should be fine."

Hmm, business? "Anything important?" Err, wait, that was probably a bad way to phrase that. If it wasn't important, Kanako probably wouldn't be doing it.

If Sanae's bothered by what I said, it doesn't show. She just shrugs it off. "I don't know really," is her answer. "She didn't mention any plans yesterday, but then we were kinda busy doing other stuff last night."

Oh, right, last night. "Err, I'm sorry that I missed it," I say, kind of hoping to avoid the obvious question of why I left so early while the others were still at the shrine. Or really I'm just hoping to avoid talking about... Much of anything to do with last night.

"It's fine. I um, heard that Ringo was drinking a lot, so I don't blame you for taking her back sooner," There's a slight blush on Sanae's face, and she's not looking directly at me. Um, is there some kind of misunderstanding here? What is she trying to imply? Err, actually, no. I'm just being overly defensive. "A-anyway, like I said, we should be fine to leave for today. I don't sneak off to do stuff very often, but it should be permissible every now and then."

... Wow, not only is she breaking the rules just to help me out specifically, Sanae is also being really tactful about the situation from last night. Like, we just keep imposing on everyone from this shrine, and they just keep helping us anyway. It's hard not to feel guilty, but more than that, I feel really grateful. "Thanks a lot for doing this Sanae," I try to sound as sincere as possible.

"No problem!" Sanae's response actually does make it sound like it's no problem. Sheesh, I guess this is how you get faith from people, huh? Just be really nice all the time. "Let's go!"

-

As it turns out, our destination is actually pretty far away. Not the longest flight across Gensokyo that we've ever had (that still goes to out trip to the bamboo forest), but it is pretty close. As a result, we have plenty of time for Sanae to talk to us, or at least me. Chiyo is still not exactly one for much conversation, given the state that she's in.

Also, given the state that she's in, it's kind of hard to avoid letting Sanae know that something is up with Chiyo. "Do you need us to slow down or anything?" Sanae calls back shortly after we've left. Chiyo has kind of been lagging behind us a little bit, but then she's always been kind of slow at flying. Not like it's a natural rabbit ability after all. Chiyo just happened to not have taken to it as well as the rest of us.

After her standard delay, Chiyo finally cranes her neck up slightly to make eye contact with Sanae. "... I'm fine," She answers simply before going back to watching the scenery pass below us.

"Oh, okay. Just let me know if you need something!" Sanae sounds nice and pleasant, but looks a little worried once she turns back to me. "Um, is it okay to just leave her alone?" She asks, hushing her voice a little bit, even though it's unlikely Chiyo would hear us talking normally at this distance anyway.

I shoot another glance back at Chiyo. Really, this is all standard for me, but then I guess that doesn't mean anything to Sanae. She doesn't know about the specifics about our powers. Heck, she doesn't even know the generals about our powers. Aside from the conversation that prompted this trip in the first place, we've been keeping things a secret for... Reasons.

Honestly, are they even good reasons at this point? Yuzuki's or Sumi's powers potentially netting them classified information is one thing, sure, but Chiyo? Chiyo's power mostly just inconveniences her. At least when she's like this. It's going to keep coming up throughout the course of the day, so I might as well make things clear right now.

So I do. It makes for a decent way to kill time on the flight across Gensokyo, if nothing else. Sanae's reaction is about what I expected. She's concerned when I go over the slow reactions mode that Chiyo is currently stuck in, then rather interested when I talk about the upsides. The clutch factor of having ridiculously fast reactions whenever she wants makes Chiyo reliable in tense situations.

"So does everyone from the Moon have some kind of power then?" Sanae asks after I get done with my explanation. She sounds kind of weirdly into the idea.

"Well... Not exactly," I did know some rabbits back home that never got any powers. Well, aside from the standard comms thing. I don't even really count the telepathy as a power though, just something that we all have. "It's just not that uncommon for some kind of weird magical or otherwise ability manifest. We're not naturally born with them though, and each person is unique."

"Oooh," Sanae considers that for a moment, then seems to come to quick realization. "Then does Yuzuki have one too?" She smirks, looking amused at a sudden thought. "Aside from just being really good at tetris that is."

Tetris? Oh, right, that video game. Sounds like Yuzuki only got better at it after I left Sanae's room. Err, anyway, Sanae was asking a question. Do we all have powers? I wasn't really going to bring the others up, but I don't want to lie either, so... "Well, yeah. All of us do actually."

Sanae claps her hands together excitedly. "Five people with super powers! you're like some kind of super hero team!" She sounds pretty happy about the idea. "Do you guys have a name for your squad?!"

... What is she on about? "Well, our unit is called the Eagle Ravi I guess, but-"

"So cool!" I have a feeling Sanae would be running around wildly if she wasn't already occupied with flying through the sky. "I get to hang out with alien superheroes!"

... Uh huh... Well I don't think we're that different from youkai, but whatever. If Sanae wants to interpret it positively, I'll let her. At least she's not pressing for more specifics. Hopefully our powers won't have to be all that relevant for a while anyway.

-

We continue flying along for a while after that. Sanae's enthusiasm gradually peters off, but not until after she passionately tells me a long list of reasons when the rest of the rabbits and I should get matching uniforms for our 'super squad'. This is kinda just another one of those things where I end up smiling and nodding along, since I can't seem to understand the reasoning behind her excitement.

But then after that, we finally make it to what is apparently our destination. I can't really see Marisa's house because of all the trees, but according to Sanae it's in here somewhere. Apparently not even all that deep in, thankfully. The trees here seem somehow much less friendly than the ones back around our old camp. Everything's more... Twisty, I guess? The trees and plants seem to be perfectly happy with growing all over each other, making the whole forest a kind of disorderly mess. Not a happy place, and one that I'm pretty happy to have a guide for.

Speaking of which, Sanae eventually leads us down enough to start going on foot the rest of the way. "There's a road through here that's not really possible to follow from the air," She tells us. Hm, yeah, I guess there is a lot of coverage from the forest canopy.

The road itself is more like a dirt path, but I guess it doesn't make that much of a difference. As long as it eventually leads us to our destination. Although, speaking of which... "Actually, what are you going to say to Marisa once we get there?" I have to ask.

"What do you mean?" Oh, I was afraid of that. Sanae hasn't given this much thought it seems.

"Well the whole us being from the Moon thing isn't exactly common knowledge." I explain. We've been using a cover story the whole time, after all. "I'm kind of not sure how we should introduce the situation to Marisa."

Sanae's smile falters for a second as she considers that. "Oh... Yeah, and if I bring things up with Marisa, then it could get back to Reimu... She wouldn't really be happy about you guys invading. Even less so about us making deals with you... And I don't think lady Kanako would be happy at me for getting her involved," She's mostly going through possibilities out loud now.

Right, that is kind of a concern. How do we get the most out of this while also revealing the least amount of incriminating information? From what I've heard Kanako say, I doubt she'd be happy about having the Hakurei beating down the door to her power plant, asking why she's harboring lunar soldiers. This could potentially get kind of messy if we do the wrong thing...

[ ] Use the same cover story as before. Recently displaced rabbits who need help.
[ ] Be honest about everything.
[ ] Be honest about everything, but try to convince Marisa to keep quiet about it.
[ ] Maybe we should call this off and go to one of the other magicians instead? (Who?)
[ ] Something else (Write-in)
Expand all images
>> No. 28004
[x] Be honest about everything, but try to convince Marisa to keep quiet about it.

Being honest about everything would presumably include being honest about the fact that Reisen already solved our incident by beating us up, so Marisa doesn't have to beat us up again. It would also include telling her about Eirin trying to kill us, thus explaining why we would need her to keep quiet about us. And if we tell her the truth, not only will she get interested enough to put some actual effort into solving our bullet problem, she might also get interested enough to help us save the Moon.

She'll probably end up telling Reimu anyway, but since Eirin is the one breaking the spellcard rules by trying to kill us, Eirin is the one who'll get in trouble.
>> No. 28005
[X] Be honest about everything, but try to convince Marisa to keep quiet about it.

Hopefully she'll be able to hush up long enough for the whole thing to blow over.
>> No. 28006
[x] Be honest about everything, but try to convince Marisa to keep quiet about it.

This seems like the best of the options here.
>> No. 28007
[X] Be honest about everything, but try to convince Marisa to keep quiet about it.

This can only end in Fun.
>> No. 28008
[X] Be honest about everything, but try to convince Marisa to keep quiet about it.
-[obviously] Yes, this means we tell her about the moon doc's death threats towards us.
>> No. 28010
[x] Be honest about everything, but try to convince Marisa to keep quiet about it.

What the others said.
>> No. 28015
I know it makes no functional difference, but this time I actually have finished the update, I just don't feel satisfied with it enough to post it. So I think that's progress compared to before, just not enough of it.
>> No. 28019
File 149861615089.jpg - (74.95KB , 785x550 , Getting up and going.jpg ) [iqdb]
28019
[X] Be honest about everything, but try to convince Marisa to keep quiet about it.

Honestly, what would I say if I wanted to lie? That's the big question with trying to keep secrets at this point. The cover story doesn't really do the best job of covering things up anymore. Oh sure, it was fine when we were on our own, but it doesn't really work when we have Sanae backing our actions. What reason would the Moriya shrine have for backing a bunch of random rabbit youkai who happen to have been forced out of their homes? None really, and that's the problem.

"We're probably going to have to tell her the truth," I say before Sanae can think up her own answer. Putting aside the fact that I'm bad at lying, there isn't really a convincing lie to tell. "As for the Reimu thing... I don't know, we'll have to figure out some way to keep her from running off and telling people," I decide, feeling like it might be a bit of a stretch. Or maybe not? I don't actually know Marisa. "Um, do you think that's possible?"

"Umm," Not the most assuring look on Sanae's face there. "Maybe? It kind of depends on how we frame things."

Well, at least maybe isn't a no. "That's what we'll have to go with then I guess," It isn't really a plan, but I don't know enough plan. This kind of has to be left to Sanae, like a lot of other things. "Sorry about this," I add, feeling increasingly guilty about forcing Sanae into difficult situations for my sake.

"It's alright," Sanae assures me as we continue walking. The path here isn't exactly easygoing, but it still manages to just barely qualify as a path. Much better than walking through the increasingly dense trees at least. "Marisa was my idea, and I'm much more used to dealing with her than the other options. Even if the worst case is pretty bad..." She trails off, probably imagining an angry Reimu or something. Yeah... I don't know a lot about everything in Gensokyo, but one thing I've definitely picked up is that you don't want to make an enemy of the Hakurei. Absolutely everyone seems to have identified that as a bad idea.

"Sounds promising," Chiyo remarks as I continue worrying.

Sanae lets out a small groan and smiles wryly. "Well, Marisa's always been kind of... Explosive about things. We just have to try and play around that properly, and everything will be fine!" I'm not sure if she's forcing that optimism or not.

Marisa's house... Well I won't say it looks terrible or anything. For someone living in the middle of the wilderness, I was actually expecting something more... Shack-like. This really is a full fledged house. Granted, it's all covered in vines and ivy, but even that kind of works with the surroundings. It might be a little bit nicer if the shutters on the windows weren't all completely closed, but then I guess she doesn't get a huge amount of sunlight in those anyway with all the tree cover.

"I'll go first I guess," Sanae thankfully volunteers, moving closer to the door. "Hopefully she's up by now," She adds as a half-mutter. Hm, even with our flight all the way over here, it's probably before noon-ish? I'm not the best at getting exact times. Yuzuki and Ringo are both much more exact. Regardless, it's late enough in the morning that any reasonable person should be up and getting things done by now.

Sanae reaches up to knock on the door... And there's no answer.

Great.

We stand still, continuing to wait for a little while longer until I finally can't stand the silence anymore. "Err, so what should we do now?"

Sanae frowns, then reaches up again. She knocks on the door much louder this time, and quite a few more times than before. Is that really necessary? Even if we're trying to get her attention, I don't really want to like, bother her.

"Closed still. Come back later," It's clearly someone yelling, but it's from deep enough in the building that it sounds kind of weak. At least from the tone, I don't think that the owner of the voice was just asleep. That's probably a good sign, right?

"It's not a customer!" Sanae yells back at the closed door. "It's Sanae!"

... Silence.

...

I'm about to ask what we should do again when the finally opens the door. U-um, oh! I err, don't really know where to look. The blonde girl that comes to the door (which I feel fairly safe in assuming is Marisa) is only wearing a tank top and bloomers. That's all. She doesn't look like she's done much getting ready for the day either. More like she just got out of bed. "Sanae," She sounds slightly annoyed, but at least she bothered to come out and talk to us rather than just ignore us. "I already told you you can't try making me into a morning person just because thats the only time you can sneak off from your mom bosses."

Sanae gives off a kind of awkward smile at that and laughs nervously. "Um, if it's a bad time we can come back later," I offer sheepishly. Marisa definitely looks like she isn't prepared to entertain guests at the moment.

Marisa looks over at Chiyo and I somewhat curiously. It's kind of hard to tell what she's thinking, but eventually she turns her head to Sanae and gives her a questioning look, which gets an awkward smile in response. Marisa gives up on nonverbal communication after that. "Not a bad time," She answers me. "But I was kinda working on something."

"In that?" Chiyo asks. Right, those are, well, I'd hardly call them work clothes.

"Pfft," Marisa scoffs happily. "Yeah, just like this. Pretty sure I've done more magic sitting around in my underwear than I have in the rest of my clothes combined," She lets out a couple hearty laughs. "So what's up Sanae?"

"It's kind of a long story," Sanae replies, rather truthfully. Honestly I'm still not sure how I'm going to tell all of it either. "Maybe we should come inside first?" Yeah, probably better to not try doing all this out in the open. I don't think anyone would be around to listen in, but... Well, better safe than sorry.

Marisa takes a step back, opening the door fully. "Gotta point there," She agrees. "Kinda chilly to be standing out in the doorway anyway," Maybe it is more for her than for us.

As for the inside of Marisa's house, well, I'll just say that even with all the plants growing all over it, the outside is still much more orderly than the inside. As soon as we step inside, it's clear that Marisa is sorely lacking in storage space. All kinds of knick-knacks are sitting around in piles off to the sides and in the corners. There's at least enough space to move through the rooms, but hopefully anyone who wants to attempt that doesn't mind doing it along a very narrow path. Some of the things we pass by are obviously both fragile and highly magical, so this whole place just kinda looks like an accident waiting to happen.

After leaving us in what is probably a living room, although you can barely tell it apart from any of the other crammed full parts of the house, Marisa excuses herself for a short while. "Know I put some tea somewhere around here..." Err, considering all of what I think are potions of unknown purpose lying around, I'm a little bit apprehensive about drinking anything she brews us. Still, she does eventually find the actual tea that she's looking for and start brewing it up. Sanae takes the brief wait to suggest that Marisa also go put on some clothes. It takes far more prompts than I would have normally expected, but Marisa eventually agrees and wanders off deeper into her house. Meanwhile, the rest of us wait in something that was probably a living room before it got eaten up by junk storage like everywhere else.

Once she's dressed and equipped with tea, Marisa joins us. "So what's up?" She asks again as she hands out a mismatched set of teacups. Urgh, mine is even kinda chipped. You'd think with all this other stuff she has, Marisa would be able to secure more cups. Maybe she just doesn't care. "You usually aren't too buddy buddy with the youkai. Why'd you bring these two around?"

"These two," Sanae begins, gesturing toward me and Chiyo. "Are Seiran and Chiyo. Seiran is here because she needs your help with a magic related issue, and Chiyo is-uh... Well, she just kind of came around," Those introductions started a lot stronger than they finished, but it's a good enough point to go off of. Marisa actually looks moderately curious when Sanae mentions the magic related issue. Hopefully that's a good sign.

As it turns out, now that I'm on my third time explaining my powers over the past couple of days, I actually feel like I'm getting better at it. It's easier to just come out and say what's going on rather than stumbling around feeling guilty about it. Having gone through the explanation more than once, it's easier to fall into something like a script where I can just touch on the important parts.

... Or at least that would be the case if Marisa would stop interrupting me. I quickly pick up that this witch is not exactly the best listener. She keeps butting in to ask for random specifics about how my ability works. Of course, I can barely answer any of her questions. Like how am I supposed to know if any elemental mana gets channelled or not? What the heck is the difference between gating and summoning and conjuring? If I knew anything about this, I wouldn't be here in the first place. I guess the only high point is that she's at least asking questions in the first place. I'm still choosing to take that as a good sign.

"Hm, conjuring bullets out of nowhere, huh," Marisa says thoughtfully, rubbing at her chin. I note that she hasn't even bothered with her tea. I guess she more got it out for the rest of us than for her. It's not exactly the tastiest stuff, so I guess she probably doesn't put much thought into it. "Well at least you're in the right place for it."

"It's not exactly the same thing as danmaku," I answer back. Considering the whole 'being very deadly' thing that the bullets have, I'm reasonably sure that I can't use them in that way.

"Eh, details," Marisa dismisses. What? Wasn't she just pushing me for details? Ugh, whatever. "Still, I guess I can get why you're concerned about it," She continues on casually. "It's not uncommon for some youkai to wind up with some pretty scary powers. If they become a problem then Reimu'll usually seal 'em up or exterminate them," Urgh, the casual way she says that word bothers me a little bit. "Guessing you're trying to do something about it before that happens then?"

"It's a bit more complicated than that," Sanae chimes in as I'm trying to think of how to respond. "Lady Suwako already looked at the magic involved. It's too complex for just a simple sealing. Or at least she didn't recommend it for Seiran's safety," Huh, I don't remember her saying that. Did Sanae and Suwako compare notes at some point? Maybe this morning or something. "Not only that, but we also can't let Reimu know about it in the first place."

Marisa's expression quickly goes from just curious to curious but also somewhat serious. "... Alright Sanae, what's this about?" She asks, yeah, something is obviously up. Although I'm pretty sure Marisa already knew that. We never really did get around to answering her question of why Sanae brought us here. Guess we need to do that now.

The explanation that follows is... Well it's quite a bit messier than my earlier powers explanation, but I think we manage to cover the highlights fairly well.

We're rabbit youkai from the lunarian military. We were sent to Earth on a mission to purify some amount of Gensokyo and gather information while awaiting further orders. That mission was eventually found out and ruined by Reisen, who then used our portal to go back up to the Moon and take up her grievances with the people responsible. After that, the portal turned off, and us rabbits found ourselves stuck here.

As it turns out, the lunar capital was under attack, and moved into the dream world for safety. Now somebody is keeping it in there, and we need to do something to get in there and solve the situation. Not only that, but we have to do it within the next few days, or else Eirin Yagokoro will kill us to stop us from talking while Reisen goes off and solves the problem herself.

There's a bit more to the situation than all that. We end up on quite a few random tangents due to the nature of Marisa's constant questioning. By the end of it though, I think she has a pretty good idea of the situation.

Marisa eventually does run out of (dubiously relevant) questions, and actually pauses to think for a while, giving Sanae and I a much needed break. Incidentally, Chiyo left her chair at some point during the discussion and has been poking at a fat, snake like animal that's been slithering around and under the piles of junk. Apparently it's Marisa's pet. I didn't ask.

Finally, after some more thought, Marisa finally speaks again. "Yeah, it's hard for even me to figure how Reimu'd react to this. You're not exactly innocent, but if you already took your lumps and want to get out of here, I don't think Reimu'll want to exterminate you or nothing." Ugh, that doesn't exactly fill me with hope. We were supposed to be dissuading her from talking to Reimu about it, but she's clearly still planning on it. "At the same time, Eirin saying she's gonna kill you is kinda pushin' it. Dunno the exact letter of the rules on something like that. You might be in a gray area because you're not from Gensokyo, or Eirin could be breaking the spell card rules. Maybe the doc just doesn't care, who knows?"

"Well anyway, you can see where I'm coming from, right?" Sanae asks, already having finished her tea. "I mean, you've done things like this before, right? Take a chance to solve the incident before Reimu can get all the credit for it," Wait, that's what she's concerned about? Seems like kind of an immature way to... Oh wait, she was just trying to frame it to get Marisa on board with the idea.

"Well," Marisa pauses to think Sanae's argument over. "You got a point there," Wow, she actually bought it. "But this incident is sounding like a pretty big deal. More than we thought it was before at least. I kinda gotta take stuff like this more seriously. We're talking about them trying to destroy Gensokyo!"

"Purify," Chiyo corrects after a few more pokes at the snake thing. I'm a little worried, but the thing seems too lazy to do anything about Chiyo bothering it.

"Same thing," Marisa immediately dismisses it, although Chiyo doesn't seem to care. "Not like I'm in a good position either way. I tell Reimu, she takes care of it her way. I help you, Moriya shrine takes all the credit. You're kinda asking a lot of me for nothing in exchange," Well if the credit is what she cares about, I guess she has a point. And that's without even bringing up the 'helping me with my powers' problem. If only we had more bargaining power.

"Well..." I can tell from looking at her that Sanae's gritting her teeth a little bit. Seems like she's running into the same kind of issue that I am. How do we get through this situation? "You... It's not like you have to get involved at all. We only came here to get help with Seiran anyway. Maybe that was a mistake."

"Don't think anybody else'd be happy to shut themselves up about a big deal like this and then work for free on top of that," Marisa leans back in her seat, looking rather unimpressed.

Crap. It sounds like her mind is more or less made up. What are we supposed to do now?

"... Three cards," Sanae says suddenly after a brief silence.

Even though I don't really get the meaning, Marisa obviously does. "Oh-hoh?" Now she sounds suddenly amused. "Going right to a duel, huh?"

"I... Can't really think of a better way to get you to cooperate," Sanae sounds slightly ashamed of herself, looking down at clenched fists in her lap.

Wait, so a duel? Like danmaku? Well, that is the standard way of conflict resolution down here, but... Something about this makes me feel pretty bad. This is all my fault. Sanae's doing this for me, even though the look on her face is anything but happy about the situation. She looks nervous, to be honest. Could she even beat Marisa? I mean, I don't know if there are any other alternatives that are even feasible...

[ ] Don't say anything
[ ] Take Sanae's place in the duel
[ ] Negotiate some other way (Write-in)

Still not completely satisfied, but that's probably just because I am absolute garbage about cutting and summarizing parts of dialogue. I have a pacing problem (as evidenced by how long this story already is)
>> No. 28020
[x] Negotiate some other way (Write-in)
-[x] We have a whole bunker full of Lunarian tech. Take your pick. You can have a whole box of high tech Moon gizmos and gadgets. We can even show you how they work if you want.

When we negotiated with Kanako we said she could have the drone and the portal, but we kept everything else for ourselves. Its time for that decision to pay off.
>> No. 28021
[x] Take Sanae's place in the duel.

Brave bunny. Soon to be beaten, but brave.
>> No. 28022
[x] Negotiate some other way (Write-in)
-[x] We have a whole bunker full of Lunarian tech. Take your pick. You can have a whole box of high tech Moon gizmos and gadgets. We can even show you how they work if you want.

Sounds like a good idea, especially since we have zero chance of actually winning if we take Sanae's place
>> No. 28023
[x] Negotiate some other way (Write-in)
-[x] We have a whole bunker full of Lunarian tech. Take your pick. You can have a whole box of high tech Moon gizmos and gadgets. We can even show you how they work if you want.

Going for a spellcard duel is a gamble, and versus Marisa it's likely one we'll lose. This simply makes more sense.
>> No. 28024
[x] Negotiate some other way (Write-in)
-[x] We have a whole bunker full of Lunarian tech. Take your pick. You can have a whole box of high tech Moon gizmos and gadgets. We can even show you how they work if you want.

Bit of a Hail Mary, but I guess it's worth a shot.
>> No. 28025
[x] Negotiate some other way (Write-in)
-[x] We have a whole bunker full of Lunarian tech. Take your pick. You can have a whole box of high tech Moon gizmos and gadgets. We can even show you how they work if you want.

She's going to rob us of everything we have if we do this, but...

Woah. What if she pawns our stuff off on Kourin?
>> No. 28026
>>28024
(same anon)

On second thoughts, I don't think showing Marisa where the goods at is a good idea.

Even though it is the majority vote, I am rescinding that vote. Treat it as this instead:

[x] Team up with Sanae.
>> No. 28027
>>28025
It will be her funeral if she robs us. This is military ordinance and surpluss. A lot of this stuff is designed to explode in your face if you don't use them right. There's no way we can explain how everything in the bunker works in the short time we have, so if Marisa robs us it would be only a matter of time before Marisa swipes something she wishes she hadn't.
>> No. 28028
File 149880122144.jpg - (89.17KB , 400x600 , Bit of a speed demon.jpg ) [iqdb]
28028
[x] Negotiate some other way (Write-in)
- [x] We have a whole bunker full of Lunarian tech. Take your pick. You can have a whole box of high tech Moon gizmos and gadgets. We can even show you how they work if you want.

"Weeeeell, you know I'm never gonna turn down a duel, but are you sure three cards is enough?" Marisa asks, barely contained enthusiasm hiding behind obviously fake nonchalance. "I've got plenty more than that, and I know you do too. Maybe you'll want some more chances to warm up? You haven't been around for the last couple of incidents..."

I don't really like the sound of that. "Three should be enough to get the point across," Sanae replies shortly. I like the sound of that even less. Unlike Marisa, Sanae doesn't sound confident at all. If anything, it sounds like she's out of ideas and is already trying to think of how to deal with the consequences of losing. Why even offer the duel in the first place if she knows she's likely to lose?

Urgh, this could be bad. What can I do to help though? It's not like I'm going to have more of a chance of beating Marisa than Sanae is. In fact, I'd probably just get stomped immediately. If Sanae and Marisa are both Gensokyo wide incident resolvers, then that would put them at or above Reisen's level, wouldn't it? I'm quite aware of how badly my encounter with her worked out, so trying something here and now in this high stakes situation with someone even more dangerous... No. Just no.

I'm actually kind of annoyed by my uselessness here. Even though I know that it probably wouldn't have made all that much of a difference, I really have been wanting to practice danmaku. Can't really do that with how busy I've been with everything else though. Finding everyone, the mission from Kanako, gathering information, moving camp-Wait. Moving camp... There's an idea.

Marisa and Sanae keep talking while glance around Marisa's living room. I think they're doing some kind of pre-duel banter or something, I don't know. Reisen kinda tried something like that with me before we fought, but I didn't really get it that much. Anyway, I'm trying to figure something out here. Does Marisa have any-Yeah, that's not even really a question. She definitely has bits of outsider technology sprinkled here and there. It's the kind of stuff that she wouldn't even really have a use for, considering the lack of electricity. I'm guessing she's just grabbing things up for the sake of grabbing them. Maybe I can take advantage of that.

When we moved down to the plant, we left all of our equipment and stuff behind in the bunker. We even negotiated to not have to give it up to Kanako, even though we don't have all that much use for it right now. Honestly, we could probably be forgiven if some of it winds up missing before this whole situation is over. Or at least, that's what I'm hoping for. Saving the entire capital and everyone in it should at least give us that much leeway, right? Right.

While I'm thinking of how to phrase this, Marisa gets up. She slips on a (frankly needlessly oversized) hat and gives Sanae a somewhat violent looking smile. Oh no, she's getting excited for this duel thing. I need to say something now if I'm going to say anything at all. "Err, hold on a second, I just had an idea," Marisa looks like I kinda sandbagged her a bit, but at least lets me talk. "If you're worried about working for free, maybe we could just negotiate something so you don't have to?"

"What do you mean?" Marisa asks me somewhat cautiously. I guess even she can assume that we don't have any money or anything.

I take a deep breath. This is also something that could backfire, but I think it's a solid idea. "We have a whole bunker full of Lunarian technology hidden away from during our mission. If you want payment for helping us, then we'll let you take your pick from out of there," I offer, noting that both Sanae and Marisa are rather surprised by the offer. "You can have a whole crate full of Moon tech, whatever you want. We can even show you how they work if you need us to," Oh, now Chiyo is surpised too.

"Can you really offer that?" Sanae asks from the side. Right, even if she wasn't present for that specific part of the negotiation, she probably knows some of the details anyway. "I thought that you wouldn't be able to just give that away without getting into trouble."

"That was kind of just a part of the negotiations," I answer back truthfully. We had to push back on something, and that seemed like the term that was easiest to have an issue with. "And unlike with Kanako, we won't give away everything. Just a crate or so. A reasonable enough amount that you could get some interesting things, but

Marisa looks at me somewhat curiously. "Hmm... Alright, keep talking. What do you actually have?" She asks. Yes! Progress!

I give Marisa a brief rundown on the list of equipment as far as I can remember it. The weapons, the explosives, the supplies, the audiovisual equipment, the extra tents, the rations... Most all of it really. I don't have everything memorized like Yuzuki does, but I'd like to think I'm at least somewhat on top of things. At least more than the others.

From her reaction, it's pretty clear what Marisa actually does care about. Mostly the explosives and such. Actually, it's a little bit funny, but from what I can tell Marisa seems to have a similar list of things she's interested in as those fairies however many days ago. I mean, obviously I don't tell her that, but... I do kind of have to stop myself from giggling, just a little bit.

"Of course," I continue once we've finished some discussion. This is kind of the important part, so I try to sound confident with it. "I'm pretty sure that Reimu wouldn't want anyone to have our equipment around here. She'd probably think it's unsafe or something. If you want any of this stuff for yourself, you'll probably have to keep it quiet for a while."

Marisa considers what I'm saying, but I think she sees the point rather quickly. What can she really do other than agree? If she tries to take our stuff by force, we can just run to Reimu and get it confiscated, then everybody loses. The only way that she'll profit off of this is if she agrees. "Well dang, you got me there," She smiles, slapping her hands on her knees as she jumps up from her chair. "Let's go then. Show me the goods and let's do some business," Then she glances at Sanae. "Shame about the duel though, huh?"

"Maybe some other time?" Sanae is more relieved than anything else.

"We don't have any goods right here," I explain, suddenly realizing the slight problem with my idea. "Like I said before, they're still back at the bunker. We'll have to go over that way and open the thing back up before you can look at anything."

"Alright, let's get going then!" Marisa snaps her fingers loudly. A moment later, a broom flies in from a nearby doorway. She deftly grabs it out of the air before strolling toward the door.

Well, I guess that works.

-

So the biggest problem with this plan is that the bunker is back at camp. The camp that is near the base of the mountain that we just left before coming here. So we have to retrace our flight all the way across Gensokyo again. This trip is made even worse by Marisa insisting that we should be going faster, even though there's no way that Chiyo can possibly keep up.

"Come on! What's the point of flying if you're not tearing through the sky!?" Marisa calls excitedly, making a wide path around the rest of us before speeding off into the distance. I kinda have to wonder if she tires herself out like that. But then, I don't really know how the broom thing works in the first place. Does she even need it? Sanae can fly just fine without something like that... Err, wait, Sanae was like, part goddess or something. Not exactly the same thing then.

Still, Marisa doesn't actually know where exactly we're going, and for that matter neither does Sanae. The two of them are kind of stuck waiting for me, and I'm not going to speed off without Chiyo. The arrangement barely works, but it does work.

Err, well, right up until Marisa gets fed up.

"Alright, that's enough of that," She declares loudly, executing a vertical U-turn in the air before swooping down and managing to scoop Chiyo onto her broom. "Let's get going already."

Chiyo doesn't even manage to flail in surprise until Marisa has already accelerated back up to top speed, and by then they're already out of shouting distance. I have to hurry up to catch back up.

-

We touch back down in camp some time after that. Chiyo looks slightly rattled by the flight, but it's probably because Marisa looked rather... Out of control a lot of the way there. I'm pretty sure that Marisa's method of flight doesn't really require her to stay in constant motion, but you wouldn't know it from how she was controlling herself. You'd think the girl had never even heard of the word 'hover' or something.

Still, it's hard to think of this place as being deserted when the tents are still around. Heck, we haven't even been gone for very long. Sure, it lacks the reassuring charm of having all my friends, but it's still the same place physically.

"Oh wow, you guys really were close by," Sanae says, gazing up toward the peak of the mountain. She has to shield her eyes slightly from the sun, reminding me that yeah, we're kind of burning daylight. Chances are good that even after we finish up here, we're still likely going to have to travel all the way back for Marisa to do all the... Whatever she wants to do to help me with my magic. She hasn't really said anything about it. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Anyway, I lead the people that don't already know where it is to the bunker. A bit to the north, the tiniest bit to the west. Around a couple of rocks... Hidden under a lot of cover of vegetation... And there it is.

Err, wait. Right. It's locked. Obviously Ringo would have locked it last time she came out of the thing.

... Crap.

What actually happened to the keys anyway? Ringo probably has it, if I had to guess. Ugh, another detour just got tacked on to this trip. There's already so much stuff that I want to get done though. Man, I'm already feeling stressed and the day isn't even half over. Okay, let me think, do I know where Ringo is even? Down in the plant I'd guess. I don't think we can bring Marisa down there though, so we'd need to drop her off somewhere first, and then there's the problem of actually finding Ringo and-

"Hey," Chiyo interrupts my worrying suddenly by walking over to me. Err, actually, was she even following along before? She stops in front of me and holds out... Wait, was there another key to this thing?

"Where'd you get this?" I ask, taking the key skeptically.

Chiyo shrugs. "... Ringo told me where she hid an extra one just in case of an emergency. Didn't know if it would still be there, but I just checked and it was."

... On the one hand, I'm really worried about the fact that this potential security breach was just left alone after we abandoned this place. On the other hand, at least it worked out for the best I guess?

-

Dropping down the few rungs of the ladder into the bunker, I'm reminded of just how cramped we left everything. "Err, you guys might not all want to come down," I call back up to everyone else once I've turned on the lights. "Just me and Marisa should be enough," Although actually getting things out of the crates now that they've been packed away is going to be a pain no matter how we do this.

"Hyup," Marisa jumps down the shaft rather than taking the ladder at all, but lands solidly. She immediately starts looking around curiously, but there really isn't that much to see. Just a mostly filled underground tunnel that leads down further into an even more filled underground bunker. "Yeesh, kind of a mess, isn't it?"

Coming from her... Ugh, I'll just ignore the hypocrisy. "We didn't have a lot of time to pack it up nicely," Though that didn't stop Yuzuki from trying, in her own way. "Also didn't have much space," I start walking further down into the bunker, motioning for Marisa to follow. "Come on, the equipment list is down in the main room."

We start digging through things, although it isn't easy given how little space we have to move around. I take some time explaining the functions of some of the various types of goggles that we have around while Marisa listens with obvious interest. She's still not the best listener, but I manage through my explanations eventually.

Once we've got a crate about half full with various pieces of equipment, we suddenly hear something from the entrance. Steps. A loud thud. More steps, rather hurried.

"Guys, we have a problem," Sanae's voice comes from somewhere nearby, although I can't actually see the entrance from how deep we are in the bunker.

"Good problem or bad problem?" Marisa asks instantly. What does that even mean?

"Aya's outside."

... Double crap.

"I noticed her flying overhead, and I don't think she saw me or Chiyo, but I figured it would be bad if she did, " Sanae continues, getting somewhat closer as she navigates through the crates. "Chiyo and I both came down here and shut the door. What should we do?"

Urgh. Right, if Kanako was keeping Aya out of the area around the shrine, of course the tengu would come by somewhere that didn't have that kind of restriction. She's probably snooping around for more information on us, and honestly almost found some. We got lucky by noticing her beforehand. Wonder if I should thank Chiyo for that or not.

... Either way, we're kind of stuck down here. We don't exactly have a good way of knowing when Aya is going to leave. We could try to just sneak off, but... That's kind of risky if we get caught. It should be easy enough to get out of the bunker, since it's moderately far away from camp, but if Aya catches us flying away with crates full of even more lunarian equipment, now with Sanae and Marisa around... I don't know what conclusion she's going to come to, but it probably won't be good.

Maybe one of us could talk to her and get her to leave? Who though?

[ ] Sneak out of the bunker and go talk to Aya. We were just stopping by camp to see if we missed anything. We've moved, you see.
[ ] Have Sanae go talk to Aya. She has some authority, maybe Aya will have to listen.
[ ] Have Marisa go talk to Aya. She wants to keep this equipment a secret too after all.
[ ] Just sneak out and fly away. If Aya's snooping around the camp, maybe she won't be watching the sky.
[ ] Wait down here for a while longer. Aya will have to leave eventually, right?
>> No. 28029
[X] Have Sanae go talk to Aya. She has some authority, maybe Aya will have to listen.
>> No. 28030
[x] Have Marisa go talk to Aya. She wants to keep this equipment a secret too after all.

Highest lying skill, most firepower if things go south.
>> No. 28031
[x] Have Marisa go talk to Aya. She wants to keep this equipment a secret too after all.
-[x] If that don't work, try more gun.
--[x] Better yet, let's all confront her.
>> No. 28032
[X] Have Marisa go talk to Aya. She wants to keep this equipment a secret too after all.

Well that's not good. Think this is probably our best bet though.
>> No. 28034
[X] Have Marisa go talk to Aya. She wants to keep this equipment a secret too after all.

Well, this could've gone better
>> No. 28036
Update is postponed (probably until wednesday/thursday) due to vacation related scheduling shenanigans, sorry.
>> No. 28044
File 149940610644.jpg - (663.93KB , 1275x900 , Can't fit this in a scoop.jpg ) [iqdb]
28044
[X] Have Marisa go talk to Aya. She wants to keep this equipment a secret too after all.

Urgh, really need to think of what to do here... The general feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach just isn't cutting it. Even if that's my immediate reaction, it's not at all actionable. Need to pick a course of action that's actually concrete and roll with it.

Honestly, just trying to sneak away seems like the wrong call. It's not exactly a bad plan if it works, but that's only if it works. If we get caught hauling equipment around... Actually I wonder if Marisa would be able to find an excuse. Not that that would be enough placate Aya or anything, it's just that Marisa seems like the kind that's pretty good at making stuff up when she needs to. In any case, I'll call the sneak away plan the high risk high reward one. I'm not feeling like I'm in a particularly risk taking mood at the moment, so let's fall back to safer ideas.

Having someone go up there and talk to Aya actually sounds like it could work out. There are justifications for any of us to be here. This is our old camp, so me being around could be explained easily. This is also near the mountain, so Sanae could be around here for various reasons too. As for Marisa... Well I'm pretty sure she's allowed to go wherever she wants. She could be investigating the area because of the drone or something I guess. That's part of incident solving, right?

But at the same time, I'm not good at lying, and Aya would already be suspicious of me after last time. Likewise with Sanae, Aya's probably already suspicious about the connection between us after Kanako was the one that got Sumi out of jail. The best way to avoid any unwanted information leaking out is going to be appearing like we were never here in the first place. To do that, we'll need Marisa to cooperate. Luckily she should have just as much motivation as we do to not get this bunker and all the stuff inside it found out by anyone. Much less someone who writes a newspaper and is completely guaranteed to blab.

"Umm, Marisa?" Err, should I be using miss here? Miss Marisa? Actually, what was her last name? Even if she doesn't seem like the type to care about how polite I'm being, I'd still like the option when I'm making a request like this. "Do you think you could go up and talk to Aya?"

"Hah?" While I had been worrying, Marisa had apparently been generally unaffected. In fact, she just went back to looking through things. Pretty sure she's elbow deep in extra rations at the moment. Not sure if she's just that confident that things or fine or if she doesn't care about the situation enough.

"Can you leave the bunker and go get Aya to leave the area?" I repeat patiently. "We can't exactly take anything out of here with her around to see it. You don't want word to get out about what we're doing, right?"

Marisa stands back up straight, putting her hands on her hips. "Guess so," She agrees without sounding all that happy about it.

"And, well, I don't think there's anyone who would be better off talking to her than you," I continue on, hoping that explaining things more clearly will help Marisa feel better about being taken from the fun of selecting her new toys. "If Sanae or I go up there, Aya will probably get suspicious. You can just say that you're looking around the area because of the spider robot or whatever else seems plausible."

"Yeeeah, I guess so," Marisa starts manuvering her way through the still rather packed bunker to get back to the entrance. Oh, oops. She's going to have to kind of squeeze by the rest of us, considering she's currently the one deepest underground. "Hard to say if she'll just back off though."

"Well..." Yeah, I am kind of afraid of that. Can't do anything about it though. We need to be able to leave, and we can't just sit around hoping that Aya's investigation will be a short one. "You know her better than I do, right? I'm not sure exactly what you should say to her to make her leave, but... We kind of do need her to get out of here if we want to leave safely."

"Hmm..." Marisa thinks out loud as she squeezes past me. I think I catch a small hint of excitement in her eyes when she comes to some kind of conclusion. "Alright, I got an idea at least. You guys wait down here, I'll come back when it's all clear."

I'm not completely reassured, but I've done what I can do. Sanae, Chiyo, and I see Marisa out the bunker, closing the hatch once she leaves.

...

Well. I guess now we're stuck waiting down here. I sit down on one of the smaller stacks of crates. Ugh, I really would prefer to be using my limited time more productively. Really, why did Aya have to show up now? It would have been much more convenient for everyone involved if she had been earlier or later in the day.

Although come to think of it, that's probably not true either. Chiyo went and found the extra key that we had, still hidden in the campsite, right? There's actually a possibility that Aya could have found it instead if she had gotten here before us. While that doesn't necessarily mean she would have found the bunker afterward... Yeah, probably for the best that we got here when we did. I can look on that as a bright side I think.

"So um... Are you sure about this?" Sanae interrupts my thinking, but sounds somewhat reluctant to bring up whatever she's talking about. "It was my idea to talk to her and all, but... I'm not sure if letting Marisa have stuff like this entirely safe."

Ooh, I don't like the sound of that. I can't really guess at why it isn't safe though. As long as we teach her how to use things properly, it should maybe probably be okay. Hopefully. "... Err, what is she even going to use any of this stuff for?" If she's already so powerful with magic and stuff, and the rules of engagement specify everything is supposed to be non-lethal anyway, what does Marisa need guns for?

"Your guess is as good as mine," I don't even have a guess, but I can understand what Sanae is trying to say. Too hard to say with any real confidence. "The best case would be her just using them to fight youkai that are terrorizing people."

Assuming she'd even need the help of lunarian equipment for that. "Huh, well, if that's the best case, what's the most likely one instead?" Unfortunately those two categories rarely overlap.

"The most likely case," Sanae thinks about it for a moment, also taking a seat on one of the crates. "Well, I guess that the most likely thing would be that everything you give her ends up like most of the rest of her things. Sitting around in her house, taking up space and making it hard to navigate the place."

That actually sounds like a pretty good case to me. Maybe even better than the best case that Sanae suggested. At least then we wouldn't have to worry about the equipment getting linked back to us. Guess that just speaks to different priorities between us though. "Well.. What would be the worst case then?" I don't know if I should really be asking that. Knowing is just going to make me worry. Not much I can do about saying it now though.

"I'm not sure," Sanae shrugs. "Marisa can be hard to predict sometimes," Yeah, I can see how that would be the case too. From our interactions so far, Marisa seems kind of childish, but not all the time. It's weird, and something that would hard to get completely used to.

"... So the worst case is probably going to happen then," Chiyo says after a slight lull in the conversation.

Sanae looks surprised. Whether that's because she forgot that Chiyo was even a part of the conversation or she just wasn't expecting those exact words to be said. "I don't think so. There's no need to be pessimistic."

I decide not to add anything and instead wait for Chiyo to respond. It takes her a little bit. Maybe a little bit more than what I would consider her normal baseline for being slowed down. "... That's just what I do," She finally answers with a small sigh. Without saying anything else, she starts walking away, deeper into the bunker. Not sure exactly what she's planning on doing, but... Well, I guess it might be boring for her, given that we're going to have to just wait down here for an unknown amount of time.

Sanae also chooses not to say anything that would stop Chiyo or bring her back into the conversation. Instead, she waits until Chiyo disappears into the forest of boxes before she continues talking. "Umm... So this is unrelated, but... I'm actually kind of concerned about Chiyo," She says to me quietly.

Oh, yeah. Sanae probably isn't used to this. "Her power will go back to normal eventually. You just have to be patient with her and wait things out," I explain. I guess I have kind of been taking it for granted that we've only been interacting with people who are in the know for so long.

"It's not that," Oh, wait, really? "Well, okay, that's a little strange, but I can get used to it. I'm more concerned about her for other reasons. You know that she came up and visited the shrine yesterday afternoon, right? After the meeting?"

I nod along, even though I had barely thought about that at the time. I mean, I couldn't have missed the fact that she went there, and obviously after that Chiyo would have spent some amount of time talking with Sanae. It never really occurred to me to ask what they talked about specifically though.

"It's just that Chiyo's really quiet. Even when we were talking, it seemed like she was avoiding being friendly with me. It was all short one or two word answers to things," Sanae explains.

"That just sounds like normal Chiyo to me," Like maybe a little more than one or two words when she's talking with us, but she just isn't a talkative person.

Sanae frowns. "That just makes it worse!" She declares, huffing with some kind of annoyance. "She's clearly bothered by something. How is she going to work through her problems if she doesn't actually talk about them with people?! Sure, I barely know her, so I don't blame her for being cautious, but it isn't healthy to just keep quiet when your problems are eating away at you. Eventually you reach a breaking point, and..." Sanae loses steam, slumping back down where she had previously been leaning forward intently.

A breaking point for Chi? Well... I'm not really sure. I had kind of thought that our little heart to heart yesterday would have helped Chiyo through the biggest issue, the one with the Moon. Although... I guess we never reached a hard conclusion on that one. I just told Chiyo that she had to decide for herself and that we would support her no matter what. She could very well still be worrying over that, but... Well there's not really anything we could say that would help.

"She just has some things that she's working through," I say vaguely. "We've kind of got a lot of stuff going on with this whole getting back to the Moon thing, you know?"

Sanae doesn't look at all satisfied, but nods anyway. "Even so," She looks in the general direction that Chiyo disappeared to. "Wouldn't it be better to work through things with other people? I "

She's got a point. I don't know if it's a point that Chiyo herself would agree with, but I can see where she's coming from. "I'll keep it in mind."

-

It's kind of hard to tell exactly how long it takes for Marisa to open the hatch back up. We don't have a clock down in the bunker (which I would make a mental note to correct if we weren't going to hopefully leave for good after this), and no way to see the movement of the sun either. Pretty sure it's only been something like fifteen minutes or so before Marisa comes back.

"How did it go?" I ask before Marisa has even fully descended the ladder.

"She's outta here," Marisa responds cheerfully. I notice that her clothes are a little more ruffled than they were before. There's even one or two new tears near the edges. Um...

"Did you uh," I feel awkward even asking the question. "Did you actually fight Aya off?"

Marisa grins almost madly. "Yup!" She proudly declares, not even breaking stride deeper into the bunker. "She wasn't backing off, but then I knew she wouldn't. Even told her I was doing official business for the safety of Gensokyo, but she was still stuck on getting her scoop. Gave her a scoop of danmaku and then some, HA!"

"Err..." She's pretty happy about her fight it seems like. Well, I guess danmaku is probably much more normal to her than it is to me. I'm still kind of getting used to the idea, but apparently Marisa can just use it whenever she needs to convince someone to go along with what she says. In a way, that must be convenient, but then at the same time I don't think I would be willing to do the same.

So I guess I'm probably not cut out for incident resolution. Shame I kind of got roped into it anyway.

-

It takes us another hour or so until Marisa is finally satisfied with her selections of what to take and what to leave behind from the crates of equipment. In the end, I don't have a huge problem with most of what she took. Much like the fairies from before, she mostly focuses on explosives and other simple gadgets. She also did end up liking one of the older handguns though, so I'm probably going to have to give her a lecture on gun safety before all of this is over. Hopefully she'll listen.

But in any case, we eventually get everything gathered up and ready to go. Marisa and I haul the crate out of the bunker. Apparently Marisa can take care of the rest by magically attaching it to her broom. Seems pretty handy to me.

"Still got air resistance and some physics to it though," She says, sounding a little bit regretful as she does some kind of hand gestures toward the box while it's sitting on top of her broom. I don't see any visible effect, which is a little surprising. I kind of expected Marisa to be a bit more flashy about things. Also I'm kind of confused why the laws of physics would be a concern when you're using magic anyway, but she's the expert here. "It'll slow me down a little bit."

"... What a shame," Chiyo comments, just quietly enough that we can still barely hear her.

"Aww, where you sad about missing out on another ride?" Marisa teases back. She reaches out and grabs Chiyo by the arm, pulling her over close to the broom. "Well don't worry about it, I've still got room for a passenger. I'll help you keep up with the rest of us whether you like it or not."

After a moment, Chiyo just grimaces in response.

-

"So!" Marisa strikes up conversation once we've all lifted off and are beginning to fly back across Gensokyo. Like she said, it looks like the extra weight really has slowed her down a decent amount. Sanae and I can actually keep up with her and her reluctant passenger Chiyo. "When we get back, I guess we're working on your bullet magic thing, right?"

"Err, yeah," That was the whole point in coming here, even if it did lead to an annoyingly long detour.

"Alright, well, I gotta get this outta the way then," She holds up one finger as if to caution me. "Magic is complicated. Really figuring out what's going on with you could take a while, if it's even possible for me to do that."

"R-right," Yeah, I guess that there really is a possibility that Marisa might not be able to figure anything out. I mean, if the doctors back on the Moon couldn't, then what really are the odds that this random human magician will? It's... This is kind of a shot in the dark really. It might work or it might not.

"So before we get started, I wanna hear your expectations," Marisa continues. "Like if you just wanna get rid of whatever's making the bullets show up, or just the nightmares, or if you want to get rid of everything. Could maybe even get full control over it so you don't get headaches using it if we get real lucky, but that's gonna be a tall order to pull off," She shrugs. "I haven't had a look at you yet, so I can't say what'd be the easiest option, but hearing what you want to get out of this could help give me a direction when I start on researching."

Sounds reasonable enough. What exactly do I want out of this?

[ ] If the bullets are gone, then I could deal with the nightmares.
[ ] If the nightmares are gone, then at least I won't fire bullets in my sleep.
[ ] I wouldn't mind it if all of this magic whatever was gone for good.
[ ] She mentioned full control, right? Well... It might be useful to keep the powers if we could get rid of the down sides.
[ ] It's too early to make a decision. It might be vague, but if Marisa can just learn everything she possibly can, then maybe we could make a more informed decision later.

Note to self: Vacations really mess up writing schedules and make you feel awkward when you come back. Oops.
>> No. 28045
[x] She mentioned full control, right? Well... It might be useful to keep the powers if we could get rid of the down sides.
[x] Failing that, if the bullets are gone then I could deal with the nightmares.

Hopeful but pragmatic.
>> No. 28046
[X] She mentioned full control, right? Well... It might be useful to keep the powers if we could get rid of the down sides.

I feel bad for Chiyo, making her wait so long to get her Satori therapy session.
>> No. 28047
[X] She mentioned full control, right? Well... It might be useful to keep the powers if we could get rid of the down sides.

Failing that, [X] If the nightmares are gone, then at least I won't fire bullets in my sleep.
>> No. 28048
[ ] She mentioned full control, right? Well... It might be useful to keep the powers if we could get rid of the down sides.

"Bullets fucking everywhere" is a really useful power, just need to fix that whole friendly fire issue first.
>> No. 28049
[X] She mentioned full control, right? Well... It might be useful to keep the powers if we could get rid of the down sides.
[X] If the nightmares are gone, then at least I won't fire bullets in my sleep.


Is there any real difference between these two choices? The only real downside to Seiran's power is the fact that she shoots people in her sleep. Solve that problem and Seiran can control her powers just fine.
>> No. 28050
[X] She mentioned full control, right? Well... It might be useful to keep the powers if we could get rid of the down sides.
[X] If the nightmares are gone, then at least I won't fire bullets in my sleep.
>> No. 28051
[X] She mentioned full control, right? Well... It might be useful to keep the powers if we could get rid of the down sides.
[X] If the nightmares are gone, then at least I won't fire bullets in my sleep.
>> No. 28052
File 149974970716.jpg - (520.71KB , 655x969 , Not getting enough done.jpg ) [iqdb]
28052
[X] She mentioned full control, right? Well... It might be useful to keep the powers if we could get rid of the down sides.
[X] If the nightmares are gone, then at least I won't fire bullets in my sleep.

It's pretty much true that lately, my power has caused me nothing but problems. The number of times that I have used them to do something other than almost cause friendly fire can probably be counted on one hand. Even those times probably could have been solved in a different way too. While it's partially the fault of where we ended up, I can't pretend that what I can do isn't dangerous.

But I also can't say that it isn't still potentially useful.

Like if I could just control it... The ability to create (or summon or whatever) bullets could still be made useful even in Gensokyo. There have been odd occasions here and there when I've seen stuff floating around that looked more like danmaku than any kind of bullet that I regularly recognized. What if I could just grab that stuff on command? It may not be that easy, and there would still be the problems with my vision being covered up, but I think it really could help me out.

And that's without mentioning the safety issues that would get cleared up, which are really the even bigger thing. The real reason why I went out with Sanae to talk to Marisa today. I don't want to be a safety hazard every time I sleep. If I were fully in control of everything, I could get rid of the pills. I could dream. I wouldn't have to feel worried and self conscious all the time.

... Well, okay. I probably would still be like that to some degree, but it would at least be for different reasons.

"Honestly, anything and everything you can do to help would be appreciated," I answer after a bit of thought. "I don't want to necessarily get rid of what I have aside from the downsides. From the options you gave, I guess that's more like asking for full control."

I feel kind of guilty for asking for so much, but Marisa just smiles in response instead. "Ahh, ambitious!"

"Um, if it turns out too difficult, you can just focus on the nightmares instead," Priority-wise, I would much rather be safe and be unable to really control what bullets come out than the other way around.

"Hah, too much, she says!" Marisa lightly nudges at Chiyo, who is still sitting in front of her on the broom. Chiyo obviously doesn't notice until Marisa is already moving on. "Girly, you don't know who you're talking to. I'm a damn genius. I'll figure this thing out and fix it before you know what hit you!"

It's nice that she's so confident. Personally I'm not really there yet, but I can at least afford to be hopeful. If this all works out, it honestly might make this whole Earth trip thing worth it in the long run. Well, that and all the other fun and interesting things that have happened. There have been quite a few of them.

"You're the one doing the work, of course you'll know before we do," Chiyo mutters loudly enough for the rest of us to hear.

Marisa just laughs and shoves Chiyo lightly on the shoulder again, completely unbothered by Chiyo's remark.

I honestly don't know if those two are getting along or not at this point.

-

The trip back to Marisa's house actually goes even faster than our original trip out here in the first place. It's initially kind of surprising how easily Marisa finds the specific spot to drop down at through the forest of magic. Thinking about it nullifies that surprise quickly though. This is her house. Obviously she comes and goes from it all the time. She wouldn't need to drop down early and walk the forest path after a while. That does kind of raise the question of just how often Sanae actually comes out here, but I guess that's none of my business.

Marisa bursts into the door of her own home as soon as we touch down. Err... Did she even lock the place up when we left? I don't know what kind of people or youkai or whatever live around here, but you'd think that Marisa would care a bit more about them regardless of what they are. It's kind of a wonder that she hasn't gotten robbed by fairies at some point... Or maybe she has. I wonder if she would even notice something missing from the mess inside her home.

Speaking of which, the crate full of lunarian equipment is quickly added to the heap rather haphazardly. While I guess technically that stuff is Marisa's now, and she can do whatever she wants, I still find myself just a little bit worried. I honestly hope that crate just stays there, unused from now on. Getting more stuff stolen by fairies... Ugh.

Come to think of it, I'm not really sure how that worked out when it happened to us. Like, we got almost all of our equipment back, sure, but what about the stuff that we didn't? We never heard anything from Cirno or Daiyousei, so I guess it's safe to assume that Luna and her friends behaved themselves. Or at the very least they didn't cause enough trouble that we would hear about it. Well, hopefully it's not a big deal. I think I handled that situation pretty well, and would hate to be proven wrong.

The only time Marisa wastes is spent grabbing up some of the tea that was left out, downing it in one gulp. I'm pretty sure she finished hers earlier, didn't she? I don't remember whose cup that would be, but whatever. If it was mine, she can have it. It wasn't really that great anyway.

After that though, Marisa quickly herds me further into her home, back to her "workshop", and I find myself unable to think of the word without the quotes around it. There really isn't much difference here compared to anywhere else... Okay, that's not completely fair. The miscellaneous clutter back here does seem to be at least a little bit more magical in nature. More books and obvious occult stuff. It's still a mess though. I don't really know how she would get any work done in this place, but then I guess she's about to show me.

"Alright, so show me," Err, what? I had just been thinking that, but Marisa said it out loud instead.

"W-what?"

"We're getting started. Best way to do that is for you to show me what you got. Do your magical bullet eyes nightmare whatever thing," Marisa says bluntly, shuffling through a large stack of papers, apparently looking for something to write on.

That's just a little sudden, but I guess there's no point in waiting around. Let me just take a breath here and concentrate... Stop suppressing it... Yeah, there we go.

... It's just a little bit jarring, every single time. Watching bullets fly in front of Marisa's face without her even blinking doesn't help.

"Uh, they're on now," I say when it's clear that Marisa hasn't noticed. Well, there isn't really any outward indication of when I'm suppressing my power versus when I'm not, so it's not really her fault. It still doesn't exactly fill me with hope though.

Marisa looks me up and down for a moment. "Huh, subtle, is it?" She asks, standing up and walking over to me. She stares a bit closer, but doesn't seem to notice anything out of the ordinary. As for myself, I'm already feeling a tiny bit disoriented. I can handle it, and the headaches won't start for a while yet, but I hope Marisa doesn't need me to stay like this for all that long. Actually, I don't know how long this whole process is supposed to take in the first place. Research and stuff takes a lot of time, doesn't it? "Hand."

"Huh? Oh," This again. Same thing as with Suwako then. I put my hand in Marisa's and wait while she closes her eyes to concentrate.

...

"... Still not getting a clear picture," Marisa says after a moment. Um... Well I don't really know what to say to that, but- "Try turning it off and on again?"

Okay, fine. I decline to mention that Suwako could observe what was going on with me just by holding my hand. I didn't even have to mess with the powers themselves. That might not really be a fair comparison though. Goddesses to humans.

... Actually, I'm probably being a bit pessimistic about this whole process already. That's... Not something that I'm feeling very proud of. Okay, maybe part of it is some subtle flasbacks to a long time ago. The time back in the hospital when I first needed to get my powers under control was definitely a bad time in my life. Several different experiments per cycle, at least one failed drug per day. The side effects were all over the place. My mind and body were both in bad places. There were times that I thought I was going crazy. Or maybe I really was crazy for a bit. I don't know.

This... I need to tell myself that this is different.

Sanae is trying to help. She lead me here to Marisa, who is also trying to help. It's not the same thing as back on the Moon.

... Just need to stay calm.

-

Marisa runs me through a gamut of different experiments. Some are uncomfortably familiar, but a lot of them are refreshingly new. That doesn't mean I know what any of them are for, but I can at least do my best to answer Marisa's questions and do whatever she tells me to. There is a lot of turning my powers off and on. About a dozen different tries, each one with Marisa's hands somewhere else on my body. From the look on her face by the end of it, I don't think she's getting the results that she wants. I'm kind of glad to move on after that anyway though. There's only so much touching I can take from a stranger before feeling kind of awkward.

"And you're sure you don't know when this started? No memory of anyone casting anything on you beforehand or anything?" We've already been over this, but I'll clarify again if she needs me to.

"No, it was too gradual for that to be it," I answer, keeping my hands on the weird runic symbols that she has sketched out for me. No idea what they do, but they seem to glow lightly whenever press a little harder, or when I talk. "It started out really slowly. I thought I was just getting hallucinations for the longest time, right up until they were clearly real."

Marisa frowns at that, glancing down at the symbols for a moment before going back to one of the large tomes she brought out.

-

"Um, maybe I could try actually pulling some bullets and letting them fire?" It's four different opened and subsequently discarded tomes later before I feel like I should make a suggestion to move things along. Marisa keeps starting different methods before getting frustrated with a lack of progress, then moving on to something else. There are dozens of crumpled up pages of notes and diagrams littering the floor off the small area of desk she has cleaned off to work on. Even someone as uneducated in magic as I am can tell that she isn't having the best time of getting started.

"Nah, not yet," Marisa mutters without even looking up from whatever she's reading about. "I'm getting closer to figuring this out..."

... She said that two books ago.

-

"Um, I kinda need to go," Sanae suddenly calls out from the doorway to Marisa's workshop. "Lady Suwako can only cover-uhm, what are you doing?"

I'd kind of like to no that myself honestly, but Marisa was rather clear that I shouldn't talk or move very much while I'm in this weird ritual circle thing she has drawn out on the floor. The witch herself is still setting out candles and other miscellaneous magical reagents, apparently for some kind of ritual based something or other.

"Magic," Marisa answers dismissively. "This rabbit is being a tough nut to crack."

Err, I don't really appreciate that terminology, but I guess I should stay quiet still. I try to give Sanae an apologetic look as she attempts to figure out what's going on, but I'm not exactly facing the correct direction. Apparently facing due north is very important right now.

"Uh huh..." Sanae definitely doesn't get it any more than I do. "Well um, I really can't stay out too much longer. I have to get back to work sooner rather than later. Let me know how things work out later Seiran, I'm rooting for you!"

I... I know I'm not supposed to move but I really don't want to be rude, so... "Okay, thanks for everything Sanae," I answer back.

Marisa gives me an annoyed look as Sanae leaves with a smile.

-

Chiyo comes into the room for the next hour or so after that, which I'm kind of glad for. Even if she doesn't say very much, it's somewhat comforting to have a familiar face around while Marisa continues trying a whole bunch of different methods to make progress. Chiyo, for her part, spends the time leafing through what appears to be some kind of novel. Well, given the number of books in this place, it's not surprising that Marisa has some stuff that isn't a magical tome of dubious quality.

Speaking of which, Marisa... Might be making some progress? I don't know exactly. Through this entire process, she's never really gotten to a point where she's looked frustrated, but now she seems to be getting even more into things compared to when she started out. She's actually taken some notes and drawn some diagrams that she hasn't thrown out. She seems to be muttering to herself with slightly more intensity. I'm actually feeling kind of hopeful about how things are going, right up until-

"Alright, I'm stumped," Marisa finally declares, snapping another book shut.

"W-wha-?" I'm honestly stunned.

"It's a mess. I can't even nail down what part of you is being affected by the magic. It's just everywhere," She holds one of her diagrams up to her face, looking at it with an annoyed expression. "It's not a type of magic I've seen before either, or at least... Dunno. It's weird."

"So you're just giving up?" After all that work?!

"Didn't say that," Marisa quickly corrects me, haphazardly throwing the sheet of paper back onto her desk. "Just said I was stumped. There's ways around that, I just gotta get some more knowledge from somewhere," She stands up, completely unconcerned about the couple of loose pieces of paper that fall out of her lap. "Gonna need to run out, grab some more research materials, see who I could talk to... This could take a little while. You guys wanna come back in... I dunno, a couple of hours?"

"Uhm, I guess so..." Urgh, more delays. Although I guess it's to be expected. It took a much longer time than an afternoon for the doctors on the Moon to figure out how to get me to where I am. Even if it took all day, Marisa would still be setting all kinds of records. At least I won't be stuck in a waiting room or a hospital bed in the meantime.

[ ] Going along with Marisa would be more efficient, right? Not sure why she didn't suggest it in the first place.
[ ] Maybe a couple of hours is enough time to squeeze in a visit to the Palace of Earth Spirits?
[ ] I still need to talk to Ringo about last night. Maybe she's around the plant.
[ ] It's much earlier than she said, but maybe Reisen could have found something already?
[ ] Something else (Write-in)
>> No. 28053
[X] Maybe a couple of hours is enough time to squeeze in a visit to the Palace of Earth Spirits?

it's only fair to give Chiyo the visit she wanted, and if lasts more than a couple hours.. well, there's always tomorrow for another visit to Marisa I suppose.
>> No. 28054
[X] Maybe a couple of hours is enough time to squeeze in a visit to the Palace of Earth Spirits?
>> No. 28055
[X] Maybe a couple of hours is enough time to squeeze in a visit to the Palace of Earth Spirits?

Let's not keep Chiyo waiting, plus maybe we could benefit from a little bit of mind-reader psychology as well.
>> No. 28056
[X] Maybe a couple of hours is enough time to squeeze in a visit to the Palace of Earth Spirits?

Chiyo's been having a rough day so far, we owe her one.
>> No. 28057
[X] Maybe a couple of hours is enough time to squeeze in a visit to the Palace of Earth Spirits?

Who knows, Satori might even have some insight on this and we do owe Chiyo for dragging her around all day...
>> No. 28058
[x] Maybe a couple of hours is enough time to squeeze in a visit to the Palace of Earth Spirits?

Satorin~
>> No. 28059
[X] Maybe a couple of hours is enough time to squeeze in a visit to the Palace of Earth Spirits?
>> No. 28060
[X] Maybe a couple of hours is enough time to squeeze in a visit to the Palace of Earth Spirits?

We promised Chiyo.
>> No. 28061
huurrgh

Delay again. Probably not until uh... Late tomorrow? Possibly very late (depending on timezone of course). There are an annoying amount of things happening.
>> No. 28062
File 150014260359.jpg - (94.85KB , 850x769 , Happened to be around.jpg ) [iqdb]
28062
[X] Maybe a couple of hours is enough time to squeeze in a visit to the Palace of Earth Spirits?

A couple more hours, huh? Well, I guess that won't be that bad. I don't technically have anything really pressing that I need to get done until much later in the afternoon when we can meet back up with Resien. I hate to spend time idling, but then, Marisa isn't requiring that we stick around in the mean time. It should be totally possible for me to get something else done while Marisa is out doing whatever she needs to do.

Or at least, probably. She was kind of vague. "Wait, how many hours do you mean when you say a couple?" The strictest definition would put it at two, but that could be an estimate instead.

"A couple," Marisa repeats, rather unhelpfully. Her attention is occupied by sorting through some more loose sheets of paper. You can't pretend to know what her criteria is for what parts of her notes are valid versus what parts aren't, she seems to be going about it pretty randomly. After a few more sheets are put in place, she finally continues. "Two is probably a high estimate, but let's go with that. If you get back after I do, whatever. If you get back before me... I dunno, I won't be here, so that's your problem."

Two hours then. Okay, that's not a huge chunk of time. I'm kind of skeptical about how much progress she can actually make in that short length of time actually. "Err, and there's nothing I can do to help out?" I double check.

"Nah, I gotta do the running myself, check with people, check out a few books, you know how it is," I don't, but Marisa probably won't care if I point that out. "There's a few different places I want to head over to, and honestly you and Chiyo'll just slow me down."

Well excuse me for not having a super powerful broom or whatever to help out with my flight. I do my best. Although... She's kind of got a point. Me coming along would mean wasting time on introductions and explanations to whoever Marisa's peers are. Not to mention how Chiyo really is kind of slow, especially today.

Okay fine, I guess we really are splitting up here. It makes sense, even if I don't like feeling like a dead weight. "Well, alright I guess," I respond, probably not hiding my reluctance very well. "Good luck then I guess."

"Hope I don't need too much luck, that's Reimu or Sanae's thing," Marisa answers back, distractedly continuing with her papers. I'm not completely sure which pile is supposed to be the good one and which is the junk one. She's not doing the best job of organizing either of them. "Me, I gotta work at things to get them done, and I'm really ready to get to work."

"Err, continue with work," I correct her gently. I really don't like the idea that Marisa just spent however long experimenting on me only to find that she doesn't even consider it work.

"Nah, that was the easy stuff. Barely even work," Aaaand now I'm a little annoyed. I didn't really want to think this way, but Marisa and I might not really have that compatible of personalities. "In a way, I'm kinda glad that none of it worked. Makes things a lot more interesting, you know?"

I... Don't really. "S-sure," I mutter out just to appease Marisa. "Then I guess we'll get going and come back to see you later?"

"Yeah sure," Marisa answers back dismissively. "I'll leave in a bit. If the door's still locked by the time you get back, then you're too early. Otherwise, just come inside and find me again."

... Yeah, I'm not that much of a fan of how this is being handled. It's better than the hospital, sure, but that isn't really saying all that much. Maybe I shouldn't be complaining though. Marisa is doing what she thinks is best, and if it works, then it works.

And man I hope that it works.

-

"So now what?" Chiyo asks once we're outside of Marisa's house. Honestly, Chiyo looks rather unfazed the whole situation, but then she's always like that more or less. Quiet, reserved, always there when you need her around for a little quip or help in a clutch situation, but keeping to herself otherwise. Even though she may have joined the unit later than any of us, that was still a long time ago. I've had a long time to get to know her.

So basically what I'm saying is, I didn't exactly need Sanae pointing it out to know that I should be doing more to help Chiyo with her problems. I was already planning on doing that in... Some unspecified way.

Just dragging her around with me today doesn't really count. Sure, it's keeping track of her while her powers are actively messing with her, but that's just ordinary. It's the kind of thing that she's pretty used to from life back on the Moon. We're not up there anymore. This is a new situation, so it should require a new kind of response.

"Well, we have a couple of hours. How about we head back underground and check out the Palace of the Earth Spirits?" I suggest. It was something that I kind of put off when Chiyo suggested it, but I always intended to come back around to it. It's not exactly that I was trying to put my issues above hers or anything, but uh... Well I guess that's kind of what I ended up doing.

Feeling a little bit guilty about that. I can correct it now though.

"Are you sure we have enough time for that?" Chiyo finally responds, still keeping her neutral expression.

It's just yet another flight across Gensokyo, then a trip down and through the plant, followed by a bit more travelling underground to actually get to the palace. Okay sure, we've had much shorter trips before, and with Chiyo's flight speed... Well, it doesn't matter. "We're making time right now," I answer back, although I'm not sure if Chiyo needs the reassurance so much as I do. Marisa said two hours. If that's how long we take, then it should be fine. Probably. I hope so anyway.

"Okay," Chi's response is just one quiet word. After a moment she adds another though. "Thanks."

I'm feeling a little bit better about things already, but maybe I'm just simple like that.

-

After we leave the forest, it's just more and more flying. I feel like I'm covering a ton of distance today. Shame that flying doesn't really count as exercise so much. Like there is some concentration and some magic involved, but it's not really something that tires you out or keeps you healthy or anything. It's just a normal kind of travel. At least, it is for youkai like us.

I didn't really think about it since everyone we've been meeting can fly too, but Marisa needed her broom to fly, right? Is that because she's a normal human, or was she just doing it like that out of habit or something? She has to be more magically powerful than someone like me or Chiyo, right? Shouldn't that mean she's able to fly in the same way? Maybe there's some kind of human limitations that I just don't get as a youkai. Or even more relevantly, a youkai from another planet entirely.

Regardless, another trip through the sky is no big deal. We've already had dozens of them, and I'm sure we'll go through a lot more before this mission is all said and done. At least I'm not nearly as nervous about flying out in the open anymore. I can't imagine how much longer it would take if Chiyo and I had to go all the way across Gensokyo without letting people see us. Really glad that that isn't a concern anymore. Pretty much everyone that has found out about us here on Earth has been nice and welcoming.

Aside from Eirin, but... Well, there had to be at least one big exception I guess.

Anyway, how many trips has it been from the mountain area out to Marisa's house today? One to get out there, one back... Okay, yeah. This is our fourth long flight today. It goes about as well as can be expected. Maybe a little bit slower than the last one when we don't have Marisa pushing Chiyo along to hurry up, but I'm fine with that either way. It gives me a chance to think about what we're doing next.

It's the middle of the day now. I don't know how much people in the plant will actually care about that, but I'm sure that everyone is up doing... Whatever it is they do in an underground power plant. I'm sure that we won't cause them problems since we're just passing through. That's not really my concern. I'm more worried about what's going to happen when we reach the palace itself, because that's a place that I have no real knowledge of whatsoever. Heck, we were only invited informally by Okuu this morning. How much weight does that even carry by itself?

... Well, it makes me worry a little bit, but there isn't much that I can actually do about it other than see how things go.

-

Up the mountain, down the hole and stairwell, through the plant, even the extremely hot hallway parts, a stop at the gate and talk with the oni there to get into the rest of the underground proper, Chiyo and I are pretty much silent the whole way. I half expect that once we get into the caves she'll get a little bit more talkative, or at least comment on my light spell that I figured out all by myself, but no. Nothing really.

I can't really tell for sure, but maybe Chiyo might be a little nervous about things too? Even if she was the one who wanted to come this way in the first place, maybe she's having some second thoughts about it now or something. I have to admit that meeting with a mind reading leader of the underground seems like it's a little bit intimidating. To Chiyo's credit though, she doesn't actually back out. Not that I would mind it if she did, but...

Oh... Well that wasn't that long of a trip at all.

The underground passageway opens up wider, into another full blown cavern. It would probably be rather spacious in here without the massive building dominating most of the space. The palace looks like it was designed to be just small enough to fit into the available area. Or maybe even a bit larger than that. Even with some accent lighting peppered here and there in some of the larger stained glass windows, I can't really see the ceiling or walls of the cavern that well. It's entirely possible that some of the palace is built into, or maybe out of, the stone around it.

Regardless, the whole place gives off the impression of being very old, like some kind of ancient ruin. Although ruin probably isn't appropriate, given that the parts that I can see appear to be completely well maintained. Not sure what the correct word for it is in that case.

There is a gate leading toward the entrance, but it's been left open and has no guard or anything. I guess there probably isn't much need for one. Unlike the plant, this place has obviously been here for a long time. I doubt that you get much in the way of curious or unwanted youkai knocking the doors down.

"So uh, I guess we head inside?" I say nervously to Chiyo, mostly just to get some reassurance that we're doing the right thing here. Chiyo's eventual response is just a shrug, which doesn't really help as much as I'd like. Can't really blame her though. I don't have any idea what we're doing, so of course she doesn't either.

So we just go ahead inside the gates to the palace.

That doesn't put us in the building though, as first there appears to be a large courtyard to walk through until we reach the doors to get inside. Err, is it a courtyard if it's out front or does it have to be enclosed by the building itself? I don't really know a lot about architecture or anything. Guess that isn't that important.

I at least know enough to tell that this place is surprisingly well maintained. Compared to the rest of the underground that I've seen, the amount and variety of vegetation here is way way way above average. There are flowers, grass, shrubberies, and even some vegetables here and there. Everything is nice and neatly sectioned off to the sides of the path, and tastefully lit by a combination of lanterns and other less obvious (and possibly magical) lighting. It's actually kind of calming, just walking through here. A lot less claustrophobic than the dull stone tunnels we just came from too.

Unfortunately that doesn't last for that long though. We cover the distance from the gate to the other end of the courtyard pretty quickly, and end up at a large pair of double doors at the front entrance of the palace building proper. They're not like, ridiculously huge doors or anything, but they still manage to be a little imposing just by how old and solid they look. And also the vague knowledge of what's inside them probably doesn't help with that.

I flinch a little bit at how loud the knocker on the door is. Like stone knocking against hollow metal, which is probably the case entirely. There's no way I would have been able to make a noise that loud without it, but hearing it still makes me feel kind of self conscious. Really don't want to bother people or anything, but...

The door's hinges scrape lightly as the one on the left squeaks open just a bit. I do mean just a bit too. We don't even get a view of what's inside before a tiny head peeks out at us.

Small, pale, light haired, a glowing halo of light above her. Some kind of youkai or... Wait, maybe a fairy? It's definitely different from the ones aboveground, but that makes some sense. Of course things down here would be different from up there. "Can I help you?" The girl's voice has a kind of wispy, weak quality to it, and her tone is just a little bit gloomy. She stares at me and Chiyo kind of suspiciously. Not exactly the most welcome start, but... I guess I'll have to live with it.

"Hi, um, we're uh-Seiran and Chiyo," I introduce the two of us, but that obviously won't mean anything. Good job, me! "We talked to Okuu earlier and uh, she suggested we come by?"

The fairy's face lightens a little bit when I namedrop Okuu. "Ohh, okay," She nods a couple of times. "Miss Okuu is still out working though, you'll have to come back later."

Right. Well, obviously she would still be at the plant in the middle of the day. That's not technically what we came for though. She's not the mind reader. "Uh, no that's-Is miss Satori in?" That was the right name, right? I only heard it like once.

"Miss Satori?" The fairy thinks for a moment. "Well yeah, she's around, but um, what do you need her for?"

Err, how to explain this? The real reasoning of 'my friend is bad with words and would like to talk to someone without really having to talk' sounds a little bit too blunt. "Well, we uh, heard that she can read minds and stuff and um..."

"Okuu said she gives advice and help to people with problems. That's me," Chiyo cuts in when I run out of good words to use. That's pretty succinct, but also pretty accurate.

"Oooh," The fairy seems to catch on with that explanation, nodding again. "Um, okay. I guess I can see if I can find her, and if she's taking appointments today or something..."

That doesn't really sound all that reassuring. "... You don't know?" I ask the question, but then realize

The fairy looks at me nervously for a moment. "Well I'm not really in charge of this kind of thing, but better me than the animals," She admits. Wait, what? Before I can ask, the fairy turns. She pushes at the door, struggling just a little bit to get it opena bit further. "This might take a little bit. I think it should be okay if you wait around inside instead of out."

"Thanks?" I don't really know if I have much of a preference, but at least it sounds like we're making progress on getting where we want to go now, so I won't complain.

Stepping inside the foyer is a little bit intimidating actually. The whole place is built rather high and tall, with long pillars on the side. The whole place is also rather dark, aside from some kind of illuminated stained glass windows on the tiled floor for whatever reason. I can only see a couple of high archways leading off to the sides, conceivably leading deeper into the palace and toward actual rooms.

"I'll come back when I find her," The fairy assures us, closing the door back up once we're inside. "Wait here," She adds before floating off slowly. I get a better look at her and notice some tiny glowing orbs around her... They kind of look like those vengeful spirits that Sanae warned me about, but much smaller. Not really sure what's up with that.

Err, anyway... I guess we just have to wait now. There isn't really anywhere to sit, which is kind of annoying. Maybe they don't have a lot of guests come by or something. Oh well. Nothing I can do about it.

-

And so we wait. It's... This place is actually kind of nerve wracking. More than once I swear I've seen something moving around in the distance, but it's been to dark to catch what it is. Maybe animals or something? Okuu did say that miss Satori helped animals out and stuff. I don't know.

Also, I get this other weird feeling that I can't really identify. Kind of like the worry about what might or might not be lurking around deeper in the palace, but weirdly closer. There's nobody else around right now, right? Maybe I should try to look arou-

... Well, it's probably not important.

-

Not too much longer, but maybe still a bit longer than I would like, the fairy floats back into the entrance hall. "I found her," She says, smiling a lightly and seeming rather satisfied with herself. "Miss Satori is back in the reading room, and said she could meet with visitors right now. Did you both want to come along, or...?"

At first I'm not sure why this is even a question, but thinking about it, it does make slightly more sense. This is a trip for Chiyo, not for me. She wants help, and might not want to be completely honest about how she feels about things if I'm around to listen. Or, well, I guess I won't really be able to listen to her mind like this miss Satori can, but I would be able to listen to any talking that does happen. That could be something that Chiyo would rather keep quiet... Hm...

[ ] Go along with Chiyo as support.
[ ] Stick around inside the palace, but give Chiyo her privacy.

So what happened was I got back even later than I thought I would, then fell asleep. Probably for the better though. I don't think I would have been writing very well when it was that late anyway.
>> No. 28063
Can't we just ask Chiyo what she would prefer, prefacing it by saying that we won't be offended if she asks for privacy?

[X] Ask Chiyo if she wants you to come with her or not.

If that's not an option though, I'm tentatively in favor of [ ] Go along with Chiyo as support.
>> No. 28064
>>28063
Gotta agree with you here.
[X] Ask Chiyo if she wants you to come with her or not.
>> No. 28065
[X] Ask Chiyo if she wants you to come with her or not.

It sounds like the proper thing to do in this situation. We are all for being moral support if she needs it, but if she wants to go by herself then we shouldn't butt in.
>> No. 28066
[X] Ask Chiyo if she wants you to come with her or not.
>> No. 28067
[x] Ask Chiyo if she wants you to come with her or not.

The polite thing to do.
>> No. 28068
[X] Ask Chiyo if she wants you to come with her or not.

It's only fair.
>> No. 28069
[X] Ask Chiyo if she wants you to come with her or not.
- [X] If that's not an option, go along with Chiyo as support.
>> No. 28070
Shocking nobody, it's another delay until tomorrow. I don't know why every update is going like this now. You'd think I'd be in the swing of things after a year and a half of updates, but I'm struggling a lot with making updates that feel good lately.
>> No. 28071
File 150041928027.png - (1.12MB , 752x1007 , Not a licensed therapist.png ) [iqdb]
28071
[X] Ask Chiyo if she wants you to come with her or not.

Uh, on second thought, I might be thinking about this the wrong way. I'm trying to make an assumption here, but why do that without even asking Chiyo first? It's not like I'm the mind reader here or anything, and this is a trip that we're making for Chiyo, not me. I should do whatever makes her the most comfortable so...

Turning toward Chiyo and waiting for her to answer the question takes a little bit of time. She has to realize that I'm looking at her, then realize that I'm expecting her to answer the question, then think of what she actually wants to say and say it. At least that's what I'm guessing is the sequence of events. It's something that would probably only take a second or two for a normal person, maybe even less than that, but with Chiyo how she is, it causes a slightly awkward pause.

"Uh... Whatever you want," Err, Chi, that really doesn't help. She glances between me and our fairy guide a couple of times, but doesn't give any more of a response... Is she nervous? It's a little bit difficult to tell. I might just be imagining it or projecting again, but I can at least see how that could possibly be the case.

In any case, a vague answer doesn't really get us anything here. "Well... Maybe for a little bit then?" I suggest, trying to help things along. "And I can leave whenever you want me to after that, alright?"

Chiyo purses her lips a little bit while she works on a response. "Okay," She nods once, stepping forward past me. "Let's go."

The fairy looks a little surprised, but then I think that's just from the switch of focus. I've been the one managing everything so far, but now Chiyo is suddenly trying to step up. It shouldn't really matter though, right? We're both heading back toward... Wherever the fairy starts to lead us.

The palace in general feels very dark, and very very old. The lighting is mostly done to accent things like the expensive looking patterns on the floors or walls or windows. You can almost never see the actual ceiling. I have to think that that's an intentional design choice. This place is very much different from the plant. It's easier to feel like you're still underground, rather than just being inside a building. Maybe the ceiling is high to kind of offset that claustrophobic feeling?

The fairy leading us provides enough ambient light that it's easy to follow along, even when she turns away from the large hallway and into smaller, slightly more compact sections of the place. There's no attempt at conversation from our guide at all. Either she's shy or... Well, I guess there's not much reason to talk to us. We're complete strangers here. The fact that we got in with no fuss at all is already a show of hospitality. Pushing more conversation on some gloomy looking fairy probably won't help anything.

As we get deeper and deeper (I assume) into the palace, it also seems much more obvious that this place is... I don't know the right word. I guess ancient? Well obviously this place isn't built specifically to house advanced (for gensokyo anyway) technology, but it really gives the impression of having been here for a really really long time. I don't really have any reason to disbelieve that impression either.

We end up in front of a huge wooden door. Almost looks like some kind of dungeon, but then, this whole place has that same kind of spookiness to it. "She's in here," The fairy offers before struggling to pull the door open. The thing is probably heavier than she is. I'm about to offer to help when she finally gets it swinging open.

... Huh. She said this was a reading room, right? I guess I can see that. It's kind of sorta like a library, but much more centered around having a comfortable space for reading than having a huge and well organized collection of books. Actually it kind of reminds me of the common area in the dorms, or at least part of it. There's obviously no kitchen or stairs or anything, but it's just giving me a similar kind of feeling to the sitting area behind the stairwell. Lots of different chairs, actually decent lighting, tall and well stocked bookshelves.

Oh, and a pink haired girl glancing up at us from behind a large novel of some kind.

Hm, she's a bit smaller than I expected. She's probably about as tall as Chiyo from what I can tell. Not that that really matters. Youkai come in all shapes and sizes from what I've seen so far. Sure, she doesn't really seem that intimidating, but someone who owns a palace like this has to be important anyway. As I look over her appearance (cute dress, but I don't really get what all those red cord things are for), she puts her book down in her lap, looking me dead in the eyes.

Err... Wait. Mind reader. Does that mean she can hear me right now? Could she hear what I was just thinking?

Err, um... Hi?

"Good afternoon," Satori's voice is quiet and gentle. I don't know if that's inentional or if she always sounds like that, but I find it rather pleasant at least.

Err, so she could have been saying that in response to what I was thinking or just saying it as an opening greeting. I don't know how her mind reading works at all, so I can't really tell. I mean, I'm completely ready to believe that that kind of power can exist, given present company of weird powers and everything, but that doesn't mean I know the specifics. This is kind of an out of context problem for me. Really it's making me feel kind of self conscious about everything and uh... She could possibly hear all of this too. Right. Um...

"R-right. Good afternoon," Okay, I'll go with just answering back normally. That should be good enough. Next um... I should explain why we're here. "So, I'm Seiran, and this girl here is Chiyo," I gesture toward Chi. Wait, wasn't she trying to lead just a moment ago? Crap, I think I got a bit too nervous and jumped at trying to do things correctly but I might have just messed them up for Chiyo instead. Aaagh...

Satori closes her book up as she looks at Chiyo and I for a moment. She takes a small breath before speaking. "It's alright, you can calm down."

"Err..." Oh, I'm being really tense here. That's probably not helping. If she can just read what I'm thinking then it would be easy to tell how panicky I am. Getting things started on the wrong foot here. Assuming her mind reading works how I'm guessing it does, but there are a ton of different possibilities and-

"You are not far off," Satori suddenly cuts me off while thoughts are still spinning uselessly through my head. "I can read minds, however even if I couldn't it would be obvious how anxious you are," Urgh... Yeah, okay, not the best at hiding my emotions. Knew that one already. "You don't have to worry, even though I don't receive visitors often, I'm not going to turn you away. Even if your circumstances are... Highly unusual, you came here intentionally. Much better than I can say for the oni who occasionally stumble in here after drinking too much."

"Yeah..." Err, how fast and how deep can she read thoughts anyway? Is it just surface thoughts or is it memory too? Does she already know we're from the Moon? What our mission is? Oh wait... I guess she knows those things now even if she didn't before.

... Actually, this whole conversation is kind of way more difficult than it needs to be.

"You're overthinking things," Satori points out simply, folding her hands in her lap. "Yes, I can read your mind, but overusing that ability tends to cause communication to break down very quickly, so I tend to avoid relying on it as a basis for conversation. People's minds are unused to close scrutiny, and I understand that. Rather than tax your brain trying to communicate in a way that you're unused to, it would work better for you to just talk normally, be direct, and say what you want to say. I can fill in any gaps that I need more information for on my own."

Well it's easy to say that, but when I know she has been and is going to continue to be reading my mind anyway... "Well... I guess I'll try."

"Good," Satori nods, probably still fully aware of my misgivings... Err, right, don't really need to think about that so much. "Seiran and Chiyo, it is nice to meet you. I am Satori Komeji. I was informed by that fairy that you came here for some type of meeting with me?"

Even if she already knows... Well, talk normally. Just talk normally... "Well, we both have uh, connections with the power plant nearby," That's vague, but like she said, she can fill in the gaps on her own. If anything this should speed along the process of explaining things. It's still a little strange though. "This morning we happened to talk to Okuu, who suggested that you help animals and animal youkai out with issues they're having," Whether that implicitly included Moon youkai or not, I don't know. "Chiyo here has been struggling with a question for the past... Well, as far as I know it's been a day, but it's probably been longer than that for her."

Satori looks directly at Chiyo for a moment. She raises an eyebrow and leans forward in her chair a little bit. "Hmm... Her mind is..."

"Ah, that is um. She has a power that messes with her perception of time," My explanation is a little rushed, but I really don't want Satori to think that Chiyo is stupid or anything. Chiyo isn't really like, outwardly sensitive about her powers, but that doesn't mean they don't bother her to some degree.

Luckily it seems that Satori understands what I'm getting at. She nods at me slightly before continuing on. "So you're here for Chiyo. Would it be alright if I asked her to explain things for herself."

Honestly that would probably be better. Chiyo hasn't said anything since we came in here. If I wasn't sure of it before, I am now. She's definitely nervous. Honestly I am too, but I'm still doing my best here to try and make this happen. "Um, sure, if you're okay with it Chi."

Chiyo, once she registers what I've said, glances at me, then at Satori. I hear her taking a deep breath. "Okay, yeah," Is all she says though.

...

"Um... There's kind of a lot to it," She adds after a more than brief pause. "And I was hoping that I wouldn't have to put it all into words," Yeah, that's why Chiyo thought this would be a good idea, but it runs counter to what Satori was saying earlier. Maybe this was a bad idea after all? Even if I find the whole mind reading thing to be really weird, Chiyo came here to volunteer for it specifically. If it turns out that Chiyo still has to explain herself verbally, is there really any advantage to coming to this complete stranger rather than any other?

I see Satori let out a small sigh before gesturing to a nearby couch. "Very well. Feel free to take a seat if you like. However, I will warn you that letting me dictate the conversation may make you uncomfortable."

Chiyo quietly walks deeper into the room to grab a seat, so I follow along as well. The couch we settle in on is nice and comfy, but... Seems like there's a decent amount of hair of some kind on it. Maybe it's fur? Okuu mentioned animals living here. Yeah, that makes some sense.

"Now then," Satori continues once we've sat down. I notice the string things around her bob up slightly to reveal a-is that an eyeball? Um... "If you wish to stay quiet, Chiyo, I am able to find the topic that you want to talk about within your thoughts. That's not difficult, but isn't that symptomatic of the problem in the first place?"

I'm not really sure what she means, but then I guess I don't really have to be. This is supposed to be Chiyo time. "What?" Okay, Chiyo isn't sure either. Good start.

"That you feel so uncomfortable with speaking your mind and would rather have me read it directly," Satori explains, her extra eye thing floating up as if it's not at all concerned about gravity. When we first came in, it had been sitting by her side, but now that she's getting down to business, the thing seems to be looking at us intently for some reason. I'm a little weirded out by it. "That is part of the reason why you are having such difficulty coming to a conclusion, is it not?"

Once Chiyo has absorbed Satori's words, she looks a little bit unsure of how to respond. That was surprisingly direct after all. "I guess so... its just kinda complicated so..."

Satori nods, lifting her book out of her lap and setting it off to an end table to the side. "Then let me see if I can fully explain my understanding of the issue," She begins. Okay, sounds promising. "To put it simply, it's actually a number of issues competing for attention in your mind. You have a strong sense of duty, but find it difficult to reconcile that with the orders received from your superiors. You don't believe that you're doing the right thing even being down here on Earth, especially after the truth of your mission was revealed. You think that your commanders and the Moon as a whole should be punished or at least face some kind of consequence for sending you on a mission like this. You're hurt and upset over the deception, but don't see anything that you can actually do about it. You know that attempting to change the way that things are done is hopeless, as you have no way to influence those above you, which you are also unhappy about. Some part of you blames yourself for that. You know that you could have been in command of your own unit by this point, given your talent and dedication, but your power makes it impossible for you to independently work toward achievements. Even though you like your companions as people, it bothers you how much they patronize you. You wish that you could prove to them that you can be independent, but at the same time you wouldn't want to leave them behind or fall behind them yourself. You also-

"S-stop," Chiyo suddenly insists. She only sounds mildly irritated, but I know that's actually a pretty hard reaction to get out of Chi in the first place. Actually, considering Chiyo's current reaction time, she probably wanted Satori to stop talking about so much stuff a couple of sentences ago. Not that I can say I blame her.

Satori, to her credit, does stop talking once Chiyo asks her to. She nods at her, then waits quietly for a while.

...

Um, maybe she's just reading Chiyo's mind right now or something? What is the conversation waiting on exactly?

"A summary then," Satori suddenly continues. "There doesn't appear to be any way to meet all of your desires at once, and you're having difficulty prioritizing them in a way that will allow you to feel satisfied, while also being pressured to make a decision very soon."

"Um, yeah," Chiyo agrees somewhat reluctantly, slumping back in the couch and looking away from both me and Satori. "Something like that."

"Understood," Nodding, Satori folds her hands in her lap, continuing to look at Chiyo even though her gaze isn't being met at all. "I believe that I can help, yes, but I can't simply hand you a solution. You have to be willing to talk your way through these ideas for yourself and decide what is the most important to you."

Chiyo's frown grows slightly, though I can only really see it from the side. "Can't you already tell what I want?"

"No," Of course it can't be that easy, can it? "I can read your mind, but I don't have any more answers than you do. Even if I did, telling you wouldn't quite match up with your desire to be independent, would it?"

I can hear Chiyo sigh as she reaches up to rub at her face. "I guess so..." She mumbles out from behind the palm of her hand.

...

After that, there's a small pause. Honestly, this whole conversation has been kind of weird, but then I guess that's been true of this whole meeting so far. Mind reading really does change the dynamic of a conversation a lot, and even if we're not supposed to, I can't imagine that either of us are able to just ignore that. Like, we've just met Satori, but it seems like she already knows Chiyo (and possibly me too) better than anyone else does. It's kind of really freaky. Like, I don't have that much that I have to hide, but...

Actually, you know what else is freaky? How Satori seems completely unconcerned that we're from the Moon. That's like, against the rules, isn't it? She could like, turn us in or whatever. Although maybe she can tell that we don't really have bad intentions. We were just following orders, and definitely would have done something terrible if they had been successful, but now we're only trying to make things right instead. That should at least make it kind of better, right?

Satori glances and gives me a small nod, probably in response to what I was just thinking. Right, still listening to me too, not just Chiyo then. That's... fine. I guess. I'm sorta kinda used to it now. Just as long as I don't think about anything embarrassing or... Err, wait now I am thinking of embarrassing things. Crapcrapcrap.

I see satori roll her eyes a little bit as she refocuses on Chiyo. Sorry, I know you really didn't need to see those thoughts about how nice my date with Yamame was. "Now then, if you're willing to talk things out with me from this point on, then I will be happy to continue," She says, thankfully not commenting on my thoughts at all.

Chiyo doesn't respond for a bit. "Um..." She looks at Satori, then at me for a moment.

"Ah, I see," Satori catches on much faster than I do. "Seiran, I believe that she wants to take you up on your offer to have some privacy," She explains.

"Oh!" I guess she didn't know how to say so tactfully or something? That's perfectly fine. I was the one who offered, so I really don't mind leaving if she wants me to. Like, I completely understand. That huge examination of Chiyo's feelings just a moment ago was probably not the kind of thing I would want others to hear about if it were me either. Chiyo is probably feeling kind of self conscious about it, and if stuff like that continues to happen, then I can see why she wouldn't want me around to hear it. "Sure. I'll wait outside then?" There isn't really anywhere else to go, so I start standing up before I even get a reply.

"Sorry about this," Chiyo mutters to me by way of response as Satori nods again.

Aww, she doesn't have to feel sorry or anything. "Hey, its fine. We came here for you, remember?" Patting Chiyo on the shoulder a couple of times, I walk around the edge of the couch. This really isn't a problem, although I kinda wonder how long it's going to take. We only have... Some amount of time that is less than two hours left before we have to go back to Marisa's. And aside from that, it's not like I brought anything to do while I wait.

Well, at least satori should be aware of those concerns I had just now.

... Yeah, mind reading is still weird to work around.

Err, sorry for overthinking it still, Satori.

-

I step out of the reading room and pull the large wooden door shut behind me, walking over to the opposite wall and leaning against it to start waiting. There isn't all that much to do while I wait to be honest, so I'm kind of stuck just standing around for now. Hm, maybe it would be better to at least find somewhere to sit down...

Although I could also go exploring.

... No, wait that seems like a terrible idea. I could get lost or run into someone that I'd have to explain things to. Like, Satori accepted us being here easily enough, but it's not like this place is full of mind readers or anything, right? I don't really want to have to field more questions from whoever else might live down here.

... and yet for some reason I'm still tempted to go have a look around. Even while acknowledging that it's a bad idea.

... Weird.

[ ] Well, just a quick look around should be fine.
[ ] No, I should stay put until Chiyo is done.
>> No. 28072
[X] Well, just a quick look around should be fine.

'sup Koishi?
>> No. 28073
[x] No, I should stay put until Chiyo is done.

Chiyo might need us to come back in to talk to each other about our feelings as part of her therapy session. We can't just abandon our friend over some silly whim for adventure. Us rabbits gotta stick together and be there for each other.
>> No. 28074
[x] No, I should stay put until Chiyo is done.

If we don't do what she wants, maybe she'll try something more direct.
>> No. 28075
[X] No, I should stay put until Chiyo is done.

If Koishi really wants our attention, she can damn well work for it.
>> No. 28076
Hmm. We have this vague sense of unease and we want to stay still. What to do, what to do...

[x] Call out to your observer. We need to stay put until Chiyo is done, but this distraction is very tempting.
>> No. 28077
[X] No, I should stay put until Chiyo is done.

Resist the temptations.
>> No. 28078
[x] Well, just a quick look around should be fine.
>> No. 28079
[X] No, I should stay put until Chiyo is done.

I don't know if it's Koishi or not, but I feel like Seiran wouldn't wander off just like that. For several reasons.
>> No. 28080
[X] Well, just a quick look around should be fine.

Don't be such a stick in the mud Seiran (also hi Koishi!)
>> No. 28081
File 15006144111.png - (462.80KB , 716x1023 , Even less licensed somehow.png ) [iqdb]
28081
[X] No, I should stay put until Chiyo is done.

Okay, no. Even though I feel an urge, it shouldn't be hard to ignore it right now if I just think things through. Wandering off is a horrible idea here. That's for multiple reasons too.

I don't know anything about this place. It wouldn't be hard at all to get lost in some random dark hallway, and unlike getting lost aboveground, I wouldn't even have the option of 'just fly up' like I would when there's an open sky. I'd have to find another fairy or hope I get lucky to find my way out, and even if I did, there's no guarantee I would end up in the right place.

More than that though, I have no idea when Chiyo is going to be done talking to Satori. Like it probably won't be a short conversation, but with the aid of mind control, it might not be a really long one either. I should be around whenever Chiyo finishes so that I can get called back into the room. Whether that will be because she's finished up or because she needs me around to talk something over with her, either one is fine. The important thing is that I don't miss it.

So yeah. I'm not getting up and going anywhere. Even if it sounds fun. I have a responsibility, and reasons to stay put.

In fact, I'm not even really sure why the idea of leaving came to mind, or why it sounds so appealing for that matter. Like I'm not the most randomly adventurous person, so why do I want to go wandering through someone else's house? Well, palace is the right word here. And it is pretty big. There's probably all sorts of neat rooms and places to look around in...

Yeah, I must just be in a weird mood or something. Not indulging in it though. Definitely not. In fact, let's just... Yeah. I sit down against the wall, leaning my mallet up next to me. It's not exactly that I'm tired at the moment. I got plenty of sleep yesterday, after all. It's just that I think I might be less inclined to go off wandering if I'm settled here right now, so let's settle, or whatever.

Just take a deep breath and wait.

...

"Wow, a real weirdo!"

Wha-! I almost jump up at the sudden voice from out of nowhere. Who the-? I didn't hear anybody approaching. Okay, sure if it was a fairy then she could have floated over to me, but... Who is this girl?

Long sleeved yellow shirt over a green dress, kind of reminds me of Satori's. A wide brimmed black hat with a yellow ribbon around it... Oh, she has that floating eyeball thing too. It's not looking at me though, unlike Satori. In fact, it's completely closed. Odd.

"Um, wh-what?" After I catch my breath, I'm still not completely sure what to say in response. She called me a weirdo? What for? I'm just sitting around. Like, okay, maybe I'm just chilling out in a hallway, but it's not like I know anywhere else to go.

"At first I thought you were just normal. 'Not that interesting' I thought to me. I'll just send her running around somewhere randomly and see what happens. Seemed like fun! You'd be all panicky and scared or whatever. I would've even put you back when I was done! Probably anyway. If I felt like it. And if I remembered," The way this girl is talking, it's like she's barely talking to me at all. She doesn't even appear to really be looking at me as she paces around in a random pattern across the hallway. "But then I see you keeping your urges in check, and I see you're really good at that too. Like, suuuper good! Do you ever have any fun at all?!"

"What are you talking about?" It... She's not being direct here, but it sounds like she was messing with my head or something? Can people do that? I mean, I guess it's not too out of place, with all the weird powers I've heard of, but... It makes me kind of uncomfortable to imagine.

This little girl, rather than acknowledging my question, just keeps walking around and talking. "And then I just keep looking, and the more I see the more it looks like you're holding yourself back from like, EVERYTHING. Why? Don't you wanna do anything at all ever? What a weirdo."

I... I really don't understand, and it doesn't look like asking questions is getting me much here. Still, not like I have much else I can do. Maybe if I go with a different approach... "Um? Who are you?"

"Ehhh?" Looks surprised for a moment, finally turning to face me. The shocked look on her face stays there the whole time as she points to herself for a moment. Her eyes still show confusion even as her lips curve into a smile and her head nods vigorously. "Me! Right, me," She spins in place once, posing dramatically for all of half a second before she slumps back to a normal stance. "Weeeeell I'm nobody. Not even worth worrying about. You'll forget about me as soon as I leave. You need to worry about what I'm worrying about, and that would be you, not me. You and your desires. You big weirdo!"

"O-okay?" I feel like I have more questions than before, but this girl seems intent on not answering them. I have no idea what point she's actually trying to make, but she clearly has some kind of agenda that I'm not following.

"So when I look at you, I see a lot of wants, but a lot of buts too. And not the good kind. The butts. The buts. Like, the 'but I can't do thaaaaat' kind, you know?" The girl starts walking in a curvy, uneven path around the hallway again, now adding a skip to her step here and there. I keep watching her just because I have no idea what she's on about, but... For some reason it's making my eyes tingle a little bit. Like they're straining for some reason. I mean, it is a little dark in here, but I should be able to see just fine.

"Deep down. Or at least kinda deepish downish, you want to be a leader," The girl keeps on talking without even really giving me a chance to voice my confusion. "You want to take charge and tell 'em who's boss, but you think you're not allowed to do that. But you think nobody will actually listen to you, so you're scared to do it."

W-wait, another mind reader? That doesn't really seem right though. I don't really want something like that. Sure, sometimes I disagree with Ringo's decisions a little bit, or I feel like I have to take independent action to make things run smoothly, but that's not the same thing as wanting to lead the unit or anything. I just try to do my best to help!

"Also, I don't get this bullet thing," Err, wait, she switched topics on me I think. I'm trying to follow along here, but it's unsurprisingly difficult when the other part of the conversation is giving you no context for what they're saying. "If you don't like them so much, why not just stop thinking about them? Duh."

Okay now she's talking about my powers for some reason? So I guess she's some kind of mind reader, but she seems a lot less straightforward about it than Satori was. I try to think of a response as the girl makes her way back over to me. Just stop thinking about them? "Um, I can't exactly do that. The show up in my dreams and um..." I feel awkward talking about this with some mystery girl that I don't even know. Honestly, Satori reading my mind was one thing, but I didn't even give my implicit consent this time! Could you like, not be in my head, please?

"Dreams?" What, has she not heard of them before? Surely she must have- "Ooooh!" Okay, there it is. Realization dawns on the girl's face as she slaps a fist into her other hand's palm. "Well just get a handle on those then. Easy-peasy!" She declares happily.

Just get a handle on... "Umm..." It's not like I can just stop my subconscious from showing me stuff while I sleep. I mean, I can if I take my pill but... "H-hey!" While I'm thinking, this girl reaches down and snatches up my hammer, jumping back a few steps as she looks at it curiously. I rise up to stop- Well I guess it isn't that big of a deal. I'll just sit back down for now.

"Anyway, in more normal news," I'm a little concerned about how wildly the girl starts swinging my mallet around while she continues talking. I should... Nah, it's fine. "It looks like you wanna bump uglies with a couple of different girls. Good choices by the way," She gives a thumbs up with one hand as the other one makes a show of spinning my mallet like some kind of baton or something. "You should get on it though. No need to pretend you don't know who or how. Oh but I'm so embarrassed~! Nobody needs that. Just go for it. Everybody will be a whole lot happier if you can just move on."

"I don't..." Well... Okay, I can kinda understand what she's talking about. That's really not any of her business though, and I don't want to... Sheesh. "What are you talking about!?"

"You," She stops spinning my hammer around, ending with the handle pointing directly at me. "You and what you want and what you don't think you want. Or maybe what you don't know you want but you really do want," She shrugs, but keeps wooden shaft pointed at me. Err, actually, she's pushing it toward me a little bit now. "It's all the same to me, but I've got brain problems. You, you don't have to have brain problems though. You've just gotta do what you've gotta do. Stop being weird! Do the thing!" Ah, ow! Don't poke me! "C'moooonnn!"

"Gh-ah! Stop!" She-ow! She keeps going for my stomach!

"Nuh-uh!" Poke poke poke. "You didn't listen when I wanted to just have some fun, so now I'm gonna poke at you until you do something else! I'm annoyed for now!" Poke poke poke. "So, what are you gonna work on?"

It finally occurs to me to move away from the pokes, so I quickly roll over out of reach. "What guh-" I rub at my stomach. I don't think it was hard enough to bruise or anything, but that doesn't make it okay. "What are you talking about?!"

"I already said," Shrugging again, the girl drops my mallet to the side nonchalantly, now with a happy smile on her face. It's like her annoyance has already completely left. "I want you to stop holding back and actually do something. You've got problems. Fix it," Ah, wait! She's coming toward me again and... Wait, why is she just rubbing my head now?! "Here, I'll even help you with something, just say the word~!"

I... I really don't understand this. This girl is not really making sense. She...

Um... Huh. Suddenly I'm... Yeah, I guess things are okay. I can relax. Just let her pet my head for a bit and...

... Oh yeah, she wanted me to answer something, right? What I wanted her to help with? What does she even mean by help? I don't really get it, but I guess it's probably okay... Wait, who was I talking to?

[ ] I'd like to be a little better at taking charge
[ ] I'd like to be a little more in control of myself
[ ] I'd like to be a little bit harder to embarrass
[ ] I'd... Huh?

Kind of shorter today, but if I kept going after the choice there would probably be a whole lot more before a good stopping point so eh.
>> No. 28082
[x] I'd like to be a little bit harder to embarrass

Easier to kiss all the cute youkai girls that way.
>> No. 28083
[X] I'd like to be a little bit harder to embarrass

Well now I regret voting for following Koishi's urges cause this is much better than I imagined.
>> No. 28084
[x] I'd like to be a little more in control of myself

More control = less bullets = less worrying = more of everything else. Win-win!
>> No. 28085
[No] I'd like to be a little better at taking charge

I don't think Ringo has made an actual decision this entire story. Ringo usually just goes along with whatever idea we come up with. We are already the leader of these rabbits in all but name.

[No] I'd like to be a little more in control of myself

We just resisted Koishi trying to screw with our mind to get us lost. Seiran has plenty of self control as it is. She can't control her powers in her sleep, but Marisa is helping us with that. Marisa already examined us and is trying to understand our powers better right now. Koishi screwing with our brain bullet powers now might throw Marisa's calculations off and we would have to start back at square one.

[No] I'd like to be a little bit harder to embarrass

But being easy to embarrass is one of our core character traits. Being easily embarrassed is one of the reasons Yamame and Ringo like us so much. Its part of who we are, we can't just let it be mind wiped. We would become a completely different person if we did this.

[X] I'd... Huh?

Get out of our head Koishi. Leave our brain alone!
>> No. 28086
[X] I'd... Huh?

>>28085 has a point, this would be the easy way out. Maybe we shouldn't be too antagonistic to Koishi though, she really does seem to be trying to help in her own fucked-up way.
>> No. 28087
[X] I'd... Huh?

You have some good points there.
>> No. 28088
[X] I'd... Huh?

Yeah actually, that makes a lot of sense
>> No. 28089
>>28085
You're very boring
>> No. 28090
[X] I'd... Huh?
-[x] I'd like to know what's causing my powers to malfunction, actually.

Perhaps we can milk Koishi for information without her "screwing with our brain bullet powers" as >>28085 aptly put it.
>> No. 28092
Okay, scratch that previous postponement, I'm going to have to wait until thursday now. I'm running on no sleep and work is doing weird things to me for no reason. Writing this scene now is just coming out really mediocre, and I'd rather wait until I'm well rested than force out badness. Sorry about this.
>> No. 28093
File 150121905256.png - (440.81KB , 500x700 , I see our time here is up.png ) [iqdb]
28093
[X] I'd... Huh?

Who was I-? Something is off right now. It feels like random thoughts are swimming around in my head for no reason. Random little idle desires that I wouldn't even normally think about. What am I so concerned over? Yes, there are things that could be a little bit better about me, but... Having flaws is normal. I can live with that.

... But still, if it came down to it I would... Huh?

No, I'm fine. I just decided that, why are my thoughts backtracking like that? I'm fine. Just a weird mood I guess.

Maybe I'm just bored or something.

... Anyway, back to waiting. Where is my-Oh. Strange, what is my mallet doing in the middle of the hallway? It's not like it's glued to my hands or anything, but I can't think of any reason why I would put it over there. That's no good, somebody could trip over it or something. Assuming anyone else actually came through this hallway, which hasn't actually been the case so far. I guess it's not that big of a deal, but still, no reason to leave it over there.

Just a few steps across the hall, I reach down and grab the handle and-EEP! H-hey! Don't touch my-!

Wait, there's nobody here. That's... Strange. I could have sworn I felt somebody grab at my tail when I bent down just now. Did it get caught on my clothes or something? That never really happens, but I know I didn't imagine that feeling just now. It's always really irritating when somebody touches me back there. It's sensitive, you know?

Still, I can't see anyone around, so... I guess I'll let it go. It makes me feel vaguely irritated as I shuffle back to the door to the reading room, but I can't do anything about some weird sensation that I don't even know the source of. I'll just leave it alone.

---

The wait for Chiyo to finish up is unsurprisingly pretty boring. I obviously didn't have the foresight to bring anything to read or do, so all I can do is sit around while time goes by. There isn't even anything to watch. Occasionally I'll catch a glimpse of pale blue light from a fairy or two floating around in the distance at least. Don't really know what that is about. Are they just allowed to wander freely through the palace? Do they live here? I mean, I guess fairies will do what they want either way, but...

Actually, come to think of it, I haven't seen any of the animals that Okuu spoke about. Whether she meant animal youkai or actual youkai. Maybe I just haven't been in the right place. Just from the architecture that I've seen in the sections I've been in, it's easy to imagine that this palace is really big. I'm sure there are places for animals to live or visit or however that arrangement works. Okuu was kind of vague on the details.

Hm, I know that she and that Orin person work down here. Is i the same with all the other animals? Are there many other animals? I have questions thouigh I can acknowledge that it's not really any of my business. Not like I have anything else to do other than think about things while I wait.

I guess I could probably think about more important things but... Well, I'm already stressed enough I think, and the day is only like, half over.

---

Some time later, I'm finally relieved from my unofficial duty of reading room guard when the door creaks back open. Satori comes shuffles her body halfway out of the opening and gives me a small eyebrow raise. Okay, sure, I guess the room guard thing was a dumb joke, but I was bored, okay? She gives half an eye roll in response before speaking to me.

"My apologies for the wait," She says softly as I stand back up and dust myself off. This place... Well, I'm sure Satori knows already, but they don't keep it completely clean everywhere. N-not that I really expect everywhere to be spotless or anything. Even though she hears my thoughts, I think Satori declines to comment on them, instead continuing on quickly. "I'm sure you can understand better than anyone that working with Chiyo takes some time."

Right. Even if they weren't talking about anything particularly important, Chiyo's powers still would have slowed the whole conversation down. The fact that they were working through what were probably difficult issues kind of makes a pretty good excuse for the wait. "Err, it's no big deal."

"Yes, I suppose you're partially here to kill time anyway," Satori agrees with my next couple of thoughts out loud. "On the bright side, it seems that Chiyo has recovered somewhat over the course of our conversation. Her response times are almost back up to a more average baseline," I don't know if that means she's back to normal or not, considering Chiyo's normal is pretty variable. "Indeed. In any case, it's reasonably simple to make actual conversation with her now, so I decided it would be a good idea to bring you in."

"Uh, me?" So I'm guessing that means that everything isn't completely fixed already. Err, Satori's raising an eyebrow again. "N-not that I expected it would be or anything, though I did kind of hope..."

"I'm not a miracle worker," Satori states patiently. "Both of you, and from what I can tell, the rest of your companions, all have deep seated problems that should probably be addressed some day," Urgh, well, I kinda already knew that, but having someone say it so directly to my face... Satori doesn't pull a lot of punches. "That would be unproductive of me," She points out. "You came here for help, and I am providing it."

... Fair enough. "So what's happening now?"

"Right now," Satori begins with a small glance back into the room. She turns back to me soon after with a neutral look on her face. "We've made some progress, enough that I felt it might be helpful to have you come back in and join the conversation," She explains. Oh, that sounds pretty good. I don't know exactly what I need to contribute, but I'm more than willing to do so if that will actually help. "Chiyo has all but made decisions for what she wants to do and say, but she needs to be able to communicate that with other people."

"Ah." That actually does sound like pretty huge progress too! And Satori said she wasn't a miracle worker.

"Well, there is a bit of a caveat to it. I hope you will be supportive, but..." Satori trails off and glances back again. Huh, weird, I don't think she's been hesitant in really anything else she's said since I first met her. "Well, you'll understand the issue when we actually talk things out," She declares vaguely. "Are you ready?"

"Yeah sure," Just need to grab my hammer up again and go inside. Satori moves out of the way, letting me take the lead as I go toward the sitting area that I left Chiyo in.

Chiyo is sitting on the same couch as before, absently flipping pages in a large soft cover book. She's obviously not reading anything, more just keeping her hands busy. At the sound of me and Satori walking over the lightly carpeted flooring, she glances up at us, but doesn't say anything. Huh, I was half expecting a 'hey' there, but I guess not. Satori takes the same chair that we saw her in originally, leaving me still standing. Um, should I-?

"Please, have a seat," Satori answers the question before I even finish thinking it. Yeah, seemed pretty obvious, but the mood around Chiyo is a little strange. I just got slightly put off for a moment. Everything is fine.

When I sit down on the couch, I automatically look at Satori. Satori, who is looking at Chiyo, which leads me to look at Chiyo as well. She fidgets slightly, closing the book slowly and setting it down in her lap. Her right arm absently scratches at her left. She glances up at Satori with an uncomfortable look on her face, then back down at nothing in particular.

... Nerves, I guess.

I'm debating whether I should say something to break the silence or not when Chiyo does it first. I hear her taking in a deep breath, her voice comes out in a bit of a rush of words when she speaks. "I don't want to go back to the Moon."

"Ah?" O-oh. Well um, that's kind of sudden but... Well, I guess that was part of what she wanted to figure out in the first place. "W-well, that's fine. I know that all of us will um, will support that decision so-"

"And I don't want you or Yuzuki to go back either," She adds before I can figure out the right way to be generically reassuring. "Ringo and Sumi are already set on staying here, and I want all five of us to stay together."

Ah, um... Yeah, so that would be the caveat that Satori talked about. Chiyo's kind of springing this on me. Well, not exactly springing it on me I guess. It was always an issue that I knew I needed to make a decision on, it's just that there were more immediate things happening all the time. I've had a whole lot on my mind and... Well, I might have been avoiding it a little bit.

"And... And I'm going to get better too," Chiyo continues on with a little bit of hesitation when it's clear that I'm not responding. "I'll figure out something I can do for myself. Even if it isn't a problem for you guys to watch out for me, I still want to be independent."

This, um... Well, I won't say that this doesn't sound like Chiyo, like it's her voice and everything, but it's way more words than I expected. And more serious ones too. Sure, these are serious topics, I get that, but... I'm still not sure how to react to this. More than anything, I'm surprised at Satori for bringing this about.

I glance over to her for a response to my thoughts, she catches my gaze, but jerks her eyes back toward Chiyo meaningfully. Alright, fine. This is her time then. I guess I can't deflect away from having to figure out how to respond to this, can I? Not that I really intended too forever, it's just that I wanted some more time.

"I'm um..." Putting me on the spot like this is pretty awkward. There's... Yeah, there are pluses and minuses to staying or going back, and I still have to weigh them properly and um... Yeah. "I'm still not really sure about going back or not," Gosh I feel lame to give such a non-answer, but it's really difficult for me, you know?

"Mm," Chiyo makes a small noise of understanding as she sets her book to the side. She pulls her legs up and hugs them against herself, giving me a somewhat sad expression. "Satori said you wouldn't be."

"But it's still important that you hear the opinion regardless," Satori adds from the side. "She's going to bring the same topic up with Yuzuki later as well. Just like you said that Chiyo needed to decide what she wanted to do, all she's asking for right now is that you do the same."

Well it sounds pretty reasonable when she says it like that. It's not exactly the same, given that Chiyo was pretty clear that she wants my response to be one way, but I didn't try to influence her at all. Err, okay fine, I guess the others would have had that effect anyway. Don't give me that look Satori... "I mean... I know that I have to think about it, and I will," It's just that with everything else that's going on...

"That's all that you can ask for Chiyo," Satori declares simply. "Satisfied?"

"Mm," That little noise again. She doesn't look at all satisfied, and I really would like to help with that but...

"In the meantime. Chiyo and I agree that it would be a good idea to get her involved with others more," Satori continues on, switching the topic away from me and my lack of decision making, which I appreciate. "From our discussions, as well as looking at her mind, she appears the type to benefit from being part of something larger than herself, in order to have some measure of responsibility as well as a clear effect on the world around her."

"Sounds a bit dramatic when you say it like that..." Chiyo mumbles into her knees, looking away from Satori and toward a random bookcase instead.

Well, I kind of agree, but at the same time I can see what Satori means. Chiyo actually has (or maybe had?) some measure of loyalty remaining for the Lunar Defense Corps. That's kind of rare among rabbits. If it's there because she likes the validation of being part of and helping a big group with clear goals... Well, it makes some sense to me at least. "So what should we do?" I don't think that our unit of rabbits bumbling around Gensokyo and trying to figure out what to do about this whole Moon thing qualifies for what Satori is talking about. At least it definitely won't in a few days once we've dealt with the danger.

"I'm... Unsure," Satori admits. That's kind of surprising, but then, I guess like she said, she isn't a miracle worker. "Chiyo has a few options open to her, but all of them present some difficulties, especially given your limited time frame."

"Options, huh?" I can't really think of any, but then I don't know the exact criteria of what Chiyo might be looking for.

"Well, I have offered to let Chiyo stay down here once your business is finished," Satori says, sounding a little bit prim as she straightens up in her chair. "Help, or at least help of the kind that is willing to have their mind read, is difficult to find down here. It won't give her much opportunity for socialization, however the animals will definitely appreciate it, and she may find it therapeutic as well."

Chiyo's face, or what I can see of it anyway, stays pretty neutral at the idea. "Yesterday Sanae said I could probably stay on the mountain if I helped out around the shrine or the plant too," She admits. Right, those two were talking things over for a while, weren't they? "I don't think Yuzuki would like that though..."

"Also, if you were going to join a religious group, I believe you may fit in more closely with the Buddhists instead," Really? I mean I guess Satori would know better than we do but... "You've already been invited to speak with them as well."

"Yeah..." Chiyo agrees. When was that?... Oh wait, back during the youkai network meeting. Huh, wouldn't that be an option too? Or maybe they don't meet up often enough or something. Hard to tell. "Look, I dunno what to do yet. Can I just like... Put it off for a little while?"

Satori frowns slightly. "You can wait, yes, but there isn't much else that I can do to help you aside from those suggestions," Her third eye turns toward me as she keeps talking. "I do think coming out of our meeting with an actionable plan would be a better outcome. Perhaps you have an opinion to offer Seiran? It seems that Chiyo would appreciate some guidance here."

Err, me? W-well um...

[ ] Chiyo's already made progress with Satori. Why not stick around here more often?
[ ] Sanae and the rest of the Moriya shrine group has been pretty nice so far. I'm sure they would have plenty for Chiyo to do as well.
[ ] I don't really know anything about Buddhists, but if Satori says it's a good idea...
[ ] Why not group up with the grassroots youkai network for real? That would mean contacts all over Gensokyo, right?
[ ] If Chiyo wants to wait and look for more options, she should. It might not exactly be actionable though.

Full disclosure, I mostly struggled with this update due to real life stuff (work randomly changing the project that I'm working on with no warning and bleh)

But also yeah, Chiyo is the hardest rabbit to write (also satori interactions are weird)
>> No. 28095
[X] Why not group up with the grassroots youkai network for real? That would mean contacts all over Gensokyo, right?
>> No. 28096
[X] I don't really know anything about Buddhists, but if Satori says it's a good idea...

As far as writers go you've been updating at a pretty good pace, so take your time when you need to.
>> No. 28097
[X] I don't really know anything about Buddhists, but if Satori says it's a good idea...

Chiyo already knows what the other options would be like, but we haven't seen the Buddhists yet. Maybe if she goes to the Buddhist temple they will be the standout winner. At the very least, visiting the temple lets Chiyo explore all of her options.

Chiyo would probably be a great Buddhist. She doesn't eat meat, not a big fan of booze, and is willing to make friends with humans. She'll probably be Byakuren's best follower.
>> No. 28098
>>28097

[X] I don't really know anything about Buddhists, but if Satori says it's a good idea...

I have to agree with this, I think Chiyo's fairly good Buddhist material...and conversely, I think Byakuren is good Chiyo material.
>> No. 28099
[X] Why not group up with the grassroots youkai network for real? That would mean contacts all over Gensokyo, right?

Spreading your social net far and wide is rarely a bad move, especially when you're not really sure what you want to do just yet. That being said, the Buddhists can fuck right off, the last thing we need is another religious/political quagmire to get dragged into. Eirin's already gunning for us, Reimu is annoyed, and Kanako is extracting favors from us in exchange for protection. Getting involved with yet another one of Gensokyo's power players is the absolute last thing that any of the rabbits need right now, let alone one as controversial as Byakuren.
>> No. 28100
Deleted my old vote in favour of

[x] Why not group up with the grassroots youkai network for real? That would mean contacts all over Gensokyo, right?

because I agree with >>28099.
>> No. 28102
[x] Why not group up with the grassroots youkai network for real? That would mean contacts all over Gensokyo, right?

Satori going into counseling would make a pretty good story.
>> No. 28103
File 150156678818.jpg - (775.57KB , 1240x793 , Have you seen this witch.jpg ) [iqdb]
28103
[X] Why not group up with the grassroots youkai network for real? That would mean contacts all over Gensokyo, right?
[X] I don't really know anything about Buddhists, but if Satori says it's a good idea...

Thinking about it, there is one option that Satori didn't mention just now. She must know that it exists, so I'm wondering why she wouldn't bring it up on her own. I guess I'll say something anyway. "Why not try to group up with the Grassroots Youkai Network?" I suggest to Chiyo. "They're a pretty big group with a lot of different people. That would give you contacts all over Gensokyo that you could work with."

Chiyo nods, but still looks a little bit hesitant about it. "I guess."

Right, I guess it's not as easy as just saying something and having her go along with it instantly. Well, there's more to the point I was making anyway. "Plus, back during the meeting, you were already getting along with some of them on your own. You were already being independent with them, just how you wanted, right?"

"... I guess," Chiyo simply repeats herself. Ugh, come on, you don't have to be all reserved now. Talk to me. What's the problem?

"The problem," Satori begins answering for me out loud. "Is that the group you're suggesting doesn't meet very often, is largely disconnected from each other in the day to day, and doesn't have the strongest sense of leadership or a specific goal," Yeesh, a little harsh there. "But you agree with me."

... Okay, I can't really say that I don't. We know that the group only meets once a week, if that. We also know that they're from all over Gensokyo. Heck, I already said that as a positive point for them, but there's downsides to that too, isn't there? Just being a part of the group doesn't mean being in constant contact with them. Look at Elly for example. Then I guess there's also the problem of that whole network not even meeting back up until after we already should have resolved the situation... Although the concert Mystia was talking about is probably a kind of unofficial meet up.

In any case, I can see the problems. I still think it's worth mentioning, but at the same time, Chiyo said she was okay with waiting for a bit. This is just asking for my advice, and I gave it. It's not something we have to do immediately. So, with that bit of framing in mind then... "Well, you could try checking out the buddhists too," I add. No reason why she couldn't shop around a little bit. "Err, later that is."

"Yes, I suppose so," Satori agrees either with my words or my thoughts. Possibly both. "Working your way into a different religious faction than the one you're currently allied with may be a little bit messy to navigate," She explains. Oh, I wasn't even really thinking about that aspect of it. "Especially given that you have a deadline coming up."

Yeah... Let me think. If I'm getting my days correct, it's the twenty-third today by whatever Earth calendar they use here. The full moon is on the... Twenty-seventh? That isn't a huge amount of time to mess around with. Maybe if we could get the portal stuff squared away quickly, then we could mess around a little bit, but without that... "Yeah, so maybe just stick with what we know for now and then after this Moon thing is done, you can look at your options a little more closely."

"... Yeah, alright," Chiyo answers neutrally. Hm, is she disappointed in my answer? I can't really make the decision for her, I can only point her where I think would be good for her to try.

Honestly, this same kind of thing happened with Reisen yesterday, didn't it? Although I guess that time it was unsolicited, even if the end result is the same. In the end, it felt like both Chiyo and Reisen can benefit from the same types of things. Just talking to people more. Who knows, maybe those two will both take the advice to heart and actually meet up at a meeting some time.

Err, wait, what is Satori giving me that look for? Did I think something weird?

Satori quickly recovers from whatever threw her off and speaks again. "It may be wise to deal with that before then," She says evenly. "Chiyo... Has some issues with who you're thinking of."

Chiyo glances up in confusion. I admit I'm feeling a little surprised by that too. Chiyo has issues with Reisen? How did I miss this before? What about all the times when we met with Reisen before? Err... Wait.

When we first went to Eientei, Chiyo left before we found Reisen. When Reisen came to our camp, Chiyo's powers were acting up so she didn't come out of her tent. When we met Reisen yesterday to discuss things, Chiyo declined to come along.

... I'm pretty sure I'm seeing a pattern there.

"Indeed," Satori agrees. "You may want to deal with that issue before this Sunday," Err, I'm assuming that 'Sunday' is the twenty-seventh? Satori nods in response. Okay.

"So you guys wanna tell me what you're talking about?" Chiyo asks, sounding rather unamused at the whole exchange.

"Soon," Satori quickly promises, even though it's going to be me that has to fulfill that promise. Not that I was planning to try and get out of it but... Well I guess Satori doesn't really have to ask me to know I'm okay with it. "But for now, I believe that the two of you will need to get going soon. Miss Kirisame estimated two hours to gather information. Factoring in travel time, you'll likely get back around that time if you leave here soon."

Oh yeah... I hadn't really been watching the time. In fact, I haven't really had a way to do that at all. Good thing that Satori is watching out for us. Pretty helpful that she can catch on to thoughts that I'm not even thinking about whatsoever.

"But..." Chiyo starts to protest, but Satori is already standing up. "... Ugh, never mind then," She gives up quickly enough. So I guess that Satori isn't always completely direct then? Wonder why she wants me to help Chiyo with this rather than having her talk it out like she did with the Moon issue. Maybe it's something that can't really work without Reisen present. Could also be that Satori just decided it was a lower priority issue too I guess.

Either way, Chiyo and I also stand up to get ready to leave. We give some honest thanks to Satori for her help and everything of course. She didn't have to take the time to help us when we just randomly showed up, but it looks like the fact that she did already made a huge difference.

"Of course, you still have things to work on on your own," Satori cautions as she... Wait, is she petting Chiyo's head? I... Wow. I wouldn't normally think that Chiyo would be okay with that, but she's not really protesting it. The two of them are just about the same height, so it honestly looks like a pretty cute scene to me.

Err, unless Satori would rather I not think about it like that, of course...

"You're welcome back later if you have more troubles," Satori smirks lightly at my thoughts as she takes her hand off of Chiyo's head. "That goes for both of you."

Me? Well, it's true that I'm also unsure about this whole moon thing. Not sure if a therapy session is really necessary to work it out though. I also don't know if and when I'll have time to come down here to the palace again.

Satori shakes her head back and forth. "It is always worth it to take time for your mental health," She cautions. Well... Okay, I guess I have been kind of stressed and worried about things too, but I can work through that. Hopefully. "I understand. In any case, best of luck to you both."

Right. Chiyo and I give quick goodbyes before going ahead to leave. Stepping out of the comfortable reading room and into the massive and dark hallways of the Palace of the Earth Spirits.

Like Satori said, we need to get going to make it back to Marisa's house. That means YET ANOTHER flight across all of Gensokyo to worry about... Well not really worry about, more like suffer through. Hopefully there aren't all that many more of these to go through today. It's not exactly tiring, but the travel time is annoying to sit through. Err, speaking of travelling though... How do we get out of the palace again?

By the time I've stepped back into the reading room, Satori is already giving me directions. Helpful, if a little embarrassing.

-

After we figure out where we're actually going, Chiyo and I manage to make it out of the palace and head back toward the eventual goal of Marisa's house. I strike up some conversation part of the way through, just because Chiyo is mostly back to normal enough to actually participate.

"So I don't know about you, but it really was kind of weird to manage conversations where my mind was being read," Seems like a relevant point to bring up. It really does feel like some pressure has been lifted from my mind now that I don't have to worry about anyone listening in on my thoughts.

"Yeah," Chiyo agrees. For a moment I think that she's just leaving it at that, and that I'm going to have to force this conversation or let it die, but she does eventually go on. "It was helpful, but I dunno if I'd want to hang around all day every day."

Hm, so if she thought that, then Satori probably knew that Chiyo wasn't into the whole 'stick around the palace' plan that she proposed. "Well, at least Satori seems to not mind random intrusive thoughts or anything. Seemed like she could tell that we're good enough people to trust pretty quickly."

"Good people..." Oh come on Chiyo, don't look so unconvinced.

"Yes Chi, we're good. Or at least I wouldn't call us bad," That just doesn't seem fair. If she's bringing up what I think she's bringing up anyway. "Is this about the mission again?" That really wasn't our fault. Yeah, okay, maybe I still feel a little guilty about trying to destroy Gensokyo deep down, but when I'm actually thinking about it I can say that it's honestly not our fault. Doesn't mean we shouldn't try to make up for it, but we shouldn't beat ourselves up over it either.

"Kinda," Chiyo responds. Oh... Well I guess that mental rant was kind of a waste then. At least I didn't say it out loud then. "It's more like... I really did want to do my best for the Moon and everything, but now I've made the decision to desert anyway."

Ah, so she's still worried about that then. Why though? This whole therapy session was about talking her through it, so if she was really still unsure, Satori would have known. "But you still did make the decision, right?"

"Well... Yeah," Chiyo reluctantly admits.

"Then don't worry about it," Sounds a bit hypocritical for me to say that, given how I am normally, but really I think Chiyo's just trying to excuse herself here. Like maybe she thinks that I'm disappointed at her for her choice or something. That's definitely not right. "That's what you decided, and everyone here is going to support you with it."

There's a pause before I hear Chiyo heave a quiet sigh. "... Life is complicated when you're not just following orders..." She mutters, just loudly enough that I can hear it.

I have to smirk a little at that. Even though Chiyo is a lot more rigid about that kind of thing than most of them, I'm pretty sure the rabbits back home would agree.

I think she'll figure it out though. In her own time.

... Err, pun not intended.

... Although I am giggling a little bit about it anyway.

-

I don't know how close we are to two hours by the time we touch back down at the forest outside Marisa's house. We don't know enough about the area to land by her house directly, so we have to land and walk the path through the trees, just like this morning along with Sanae. I'm happy to not get lost, but at the same time... Man, I'm hoping we don't have any more days like this. The constant back and forth is really boring. You can only be in awe of Gensokyo's landscape for so long before you want to look at something else.

Anyway, right, Marisa's house. She said to just check when we get back to see if she's here or not and... It looks like she might be? There's still a sign up that claims 'Temporarily closed to pursue magical experimentation. KEEP OUT. Also come back later when I'm open.' on the door. Pleasant.

On a whim, I check the door anyway. It opens... So either Marisa was careless in not locking the door, or she was careless in not taking the sign down.

Or maybe the sign is supposed to be there? She probably does still have work to do and everything. "Marisa? Are you back yet?" I call out into the open front door.

... No response.

Ugh, why does Marisa have to be so difficult all the time? I don't think that she's purposely ignoring me, but at I guess it might be possible that she's just absorbed in something. If I'm really lucky it could be something that's actually important.

Well, I guess I should head in, but at the same time, it feels rude to just barge into a house like this...

[ ] Have a look around the house for Marisa. We're not invading anyone's privacy, we're just looking for our host.
[ ] Just call out and wait for now. Either she'll come when she's ready or she'll see us when she gets home.
>> No. 28104
[x] Just call out and wait for now. Either she'll come when she's ready or she'll see us when she gets home.

In before someone else turns up to bug Marisa for us.
>> No. 28105
[x] Just call out and wait for now. Either she'll come when she's ready or she'll see us when she gets home.
>> No. 28106
[X] Have a look around the house for Marisa. We're not invading anyone's privacy, we're just looking for our host.

Didn't Marisa tell Seiran to just come on in if the door was unlocked when she got back?
>> No. 28107
[X] Have a look around the house for Marisa. We're not invading anyone's privacy, we're just looking for our host.
>> No. 28108
[X] Have a look around the house for Marisa. We're not invading anyone's privacy, we're just looking for our host.
>> No. 28109
[X] Just call out and wait for now. Either she'll come when she's ready or she'll see us when she gets home.
>> No. 28110
>>28106
That she did, hence I have no reservations.

[X] Have a look around the house for Marisa. We're not invading anyone's privacy, we're just looking for our host
>> No. 28112
Okay I'm wrong again. More time than previously expected.
>> No. 28113
File 150216792856.jpg - (254.20KB , 1395x916 , Do not mess with.jpg ) [iqdb]
28113
[X] Have a look around the house for Marisa. We're not invading privacy, we're just looking for our host.

No, that's not right. Marisa said 'just come inside and find me' if we were to get back and have her door be unlocked. Just because she might have already forgotten to lock her door once today and she also apparently forgot to take her 'out of the office' sign down, that doesn't mean I should assume things. Rather, even if I am assuming things (like Marisa's questionable attention to detail for example) I don't have a better plan right now.

So, in we go then. With any luck Marisa will just be absorbed in something enough that she missed my earlier yell. Motioning toward Chiyo, I head inside. She follows along without a word.

...

Of course, no surprise that Marisa isn't in the entryway. Why even would she be right here? I take a moment to check to see if Marisa's shoes are around, but I don't see anything. Come to think of it, was Marisa's house a 'take your shoes off' kind of Japanese one or a western 'just do whatever with your footwear' kind? She never said anything when we first showed up. Hm, come to think of it, yeah. There are probably better ways to investigate.

Oh! I could look and see if her broom is around or not... Wait, no. When she first summoned the thing it was just by snapping her fingers and having it fly to her. I can only guess at where it actually came from. It could be literally anywhere in this sea of junk. Guess I really am going to have to have a quick solo tour of the house then.

The whole place really is ridiculously cluttered though. Sure, I already knew that. If she couldn't clean up in the entryway to her house, then the chances of the rest of it being cleaned up are even lower. It's just so bad that I can't help but remark on it again and again. How does she find anything in here? She's supposed to be running some kind of store out of this place. How does she do business? The only answer I can think of to those questions is 'not very well' which is probably accurate, if a little mean to think.

Let's see here... The sitting room thing that we first talked out the deal in? Okay, obviously she's not in here either. It's at least clear enough to tell as much with a glance, so I guess we can just move- Err, wait, "What's up?" I ask as Chiyo brushes past me to walk into the room.

"Nothing," She mutters absently as she looks around the room curiously. Uh, it's pretty obviously something if she's holding up the search for it, but- "I just thought I saw... Oh," She suddenly squats down, digging out from behind an overturned (and thankfully empty) cauldron. She grabs at something, then pulls it out to reveal... Oh.

"Err, right, that thing," Chiyo had been poking at that fat snake animal earlier. It looks like she wanted to fish it back out for some reason.

Chiyo cradles the snake in her arms. It squirms around, bit more to get comfortable than to actually escape. Once it's pudgy little belly has settled into a nice spot, it seems to rest there contentedly. "Yeah," Chiyo agrees, as if she doesn't need to explain anything.

"... Do you even know what that thing is?" Like it's clearly a snake of some kind, and also maybe probably Marisa's pet, but aside from that...

Chiyo glances down at the chubby thing in her arms for a moment, then shrugs her shoulders lightly. "Dunno. I like him though. He's a cute little guy."

I... You know what? That's fine. The thing looks pretty content to just sit around as Chiyo carries it, and if Chiyo wants to be like that, I guess it's fine. Personally, I'm still not so sure how to feel about Earth animals, but if Chiyo likes them... "Okay, whatever. Let's just keep going."

There wasn't any pen holding that snake thing to that room or anything, so it should be fine for Chiyo to hang onto it, right? Right. Okay, next up...

We end up back in Marisa's kitchen... Ugh. Does she eat all these mushrooms? The variety of them is actually kind of amazing. The smell too, but with a uh, different meaning to the word. I think she has a number of these things set out specifically so that they can dry out, or maybe just age. Okay, I know that Earth dwellers make it more of a habit to tax their immune systems than we would up on the Moon, but this seems slightly overboard.

... Although it's not really any of my business. Marisa isn't here, so I probably shouldn't be hanging around.

A bit more wandering lands us back in Marisa's "workshop" (still can't get rid of the mental quotations there). Hm, this was my best bet on where Marisa would be hiding out if she were actually here. Disappointing to see that she isn't. Either she's in another room that I haven't checked yet for whatever reason, or she really isn't back yet. Guess I should just wait for now.

... But on the other hand.

Okay, I'm a little bit curious. I don't really know magic very well, sure, but... Well there are a lot of leftover diagrams and stuff still sitting around. Just having a quick peek at what Marisa thinks is wrong with me can't hurt, right?

...

...

... Okay well, it doesn't hurt, but it doesn't help either. Is that really what I look like, magically? Just a bunch of circles and lines and symbols that I can't make heads or tails of on my own. There are a couple of words peppered around here and there, but never enough to make an actual sentence. Not to mention that pretty much all of them are crossed out as well. Things like gating, summoning, extra-planar, along with curse, mana contamination, and innate ability.

There's no conclusion, and everything seems fairly disconnected, though I guess Marisa would have taken anything with a positive amount of progress with her. In any case, it's clear she was working pretty hard while she was experimenting on me, even if she wasn't getting anywhere. Err, no, that's a bad way to look at it. Trying things and finding out they don't work is still progress, isn't it? Right. Yeah. I need to be more positive about this. I keep reminding myself of that, but it just won't stick. Maybe if Marisa was just a little bit more professional...

Ugh, no.

I'm just gonna keep looking around. Even if she's not in the spot that I figured she would be, she could still be somewhere in the house.

... Hm, upstairs then?

...

Oh come on!

Marisa, you have dressers, and a closet. All kinds of places that you actually should store things. Why are your clothes ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE ELSE?! I really don't need to see your underwear sitting around.

A part of me really wants to bring Yuzuki over here and just let her unleash the full fury of her anal retentiveness on Marisa and everything she owns. I don't know what the end result would be, but it has to be better than this. Even if it would be Yuzuki brand organization, things would at least be stored together and folded. Way more than I can say for what I'm actually seeing right now.

Discarded books, empty sake bottles, clothes, papers, miscellaneous pouches of what are probably spell components... Yeah, just like downstairs. And everywhere else. I really need to trust my pattern recognition more. Don't know why I expected things to be any different up here.

Still though, no Marisa. Alright, well, she has a pretty decently sized house for someone living by herself out in the middle of nowhere and apparently barely running a magic shop business, but I'm still running low on rooms to look through. I had kinda already figured this out, but it really does look like Marisa's not here yet.

... So what should I do now? Trying to be proactive didn't work, so that just leaves... Waiting.

A little bit disappointing, but I guess that's how things have to go. At least Chiyo doesn't seem at all bothered by the situation. She's mostly been following me around on autopilot this whole time though. Her actual focus has been on either poking at or petting the snake thing she's been carrying around. I'm kind of surprised how chill that thing is about everything, but then, maybe it's just too out of shape to do much else.

Err, wait, do snakes get fat like that normally? I really have no idea.

Well whatever.

... Hm, maybe I could grab some more tea or something. Have a look through Marisa's books and find something to relax with. I do hate to idle, but if there's no other choice.

... Err, what's that noise?

Like some kind of powerful fwooshing noise, but stretched out too long. Well, it kind of starts with a BWAAAAAGH type noise but um, I'm not the best at describing it it. Whatever it is, it's really loud, and coming from not too far away. Somewhere outside and... Up?

"Hey," Chiyo gets my attention then jerks her head (probably because her arms are busy) toward the nearby window. There's definitely some kind of bright light outside.

And uh, it's getting brighter.

What the heck?

I jump over a bit of the clutter and manage to manuver myself up to the window, pulling it open enough to look outside. I just want to locate the source of the noise and light and-

Oh, of course. Of course it's Marisa.

She's up in the sky, standing up on her broom as if she's surfing. Honestly I have no idea how she's balancing like that considering that she's sending out some kind of HUGE magical blast out of her hand. That would be the source of the light and sound then. Sheesh, it's... That is a lot of firepower right there. Just with how large the blast is and how long it lasts... Kind of makes me wonder what actually warranted that kind of attack.

Also, that thing is nonlethal?!

By the time that Marisa finishes up firing, her target is nowhere to be seen. Not that I can see very well past all the tree cover anyway, but I can't imagine that whatever she hit is still anywhere within a few kilometers afterward. Probably rocketed away into the sky, just like Marisa was being rocketed backward somewhat by the sheer recoil. This ends up putting her relatively close to the house, though still up in the air.

I see her exaggeratedly shake her hand out, like it's suddenly tired out. Well maybe it is, I don't know. Once she's satisfied that she's moved it around enough, she settles back down on her broom and starts flying. Taking a wide turn, she heads back toward her house.

Err, her house that I'm currently looking up at her in from the window of her bedroom.

Eep!

Okay. Okay okay okay. I think I closed the window up and ducked down quickly enough. Honestly I don't know if Marisa is even going to be bothered by my invasion of her privacy, but I'd rather not find out. Especially considering what I just saw her doing.

"What's up?" Chiyo asks, sounding completely unconcerned about the massive magical explosion that was happening outside.

"... We should head downstairs now," I decide, sliding back up off the ground and heading for the door. Before Marisa comes back would be good, if at all possible. "Now," I repeat unnecessarily.

-

Chiyo catches enough of my urgency to hurry herself up, so we do make it back downstairs just in time to hear the front door opening up again, followed by a happy sounding breath of relief. Okay, not anger. Can probably just act natural here. Yeah, act natural...

"Oh hey, you're back," I say maybe a bit too casually as I round the corner toward the entryway and catch sight of Marisa. Err, did that sound natural enough. Marisa isn't looking at me suspiciously or anything... Although I did just come from the stairs so... Okay, just keep acting natural.

"Yup," Marisa answers, setting her broom off to the side and hefting a large and heavy looking bag of some kind. "Took a little bit longer than I thought. Had to fight a couple more people than I figured I would. Even had to pull a repeat when one lady just wouldn't quit. Made some progress though."

Err, I'm really not sure that I like the sound of that. "So uh, you had to fight just to borrow that stuff?" Couldn't she have just gone to a library or something?

"As usual, yeah," Marisa answers casually, brushing past me and heading toward her workshop. "It's just how I do things though, no big deal. Sometimes you gotta snatch and grab to make the most progress. Stuff can get cleared up later. Or not. That's what danmaku's for, you know?"

I... I mean, I guess so? It's hard for me to argue, having not been here for nearly as long as Marisa. The feeling in my gut is telling me that I'm uncomfortable with Marisa stealing things in order to help me, but... Well I can't really do anything about it now, can I?

"Did you at least figure it out?" Chiyo cuts in while I'm still thinking through how to respond. Probably for the better. She's getting right to the important bits.

"Probably!" Marisa says, sounding triumphant despite her unclear answer. We follow along behind her as she storms her way into the workshop (hey, managed to think of it naturally this time!). "Still got some more puzzling to do, but there was a big breakthrough. Shouldn't take too much longer once I get another look at you and can read up on things here and there," She sets the bag full of stuff down on the floor, not at all as gently as she probably should, and turns back to face me. "So, got any questions before we get started?"

Questions? Well, if she's asking...

[ ] Uh, did you figure out how to give me full control or just get rid of the nightmares?
[ ] Is this going to take a long time? I'm okay with waiting, but Chiyo...
[ ] Do you need me to do anything? Just sitting around while you experiment is a little dull.
[ ] Where did you go to get all of this stuff anyway? The other magicians?
[ ] Who did you have to fight off for this stuff? I really hope it doesn't cause any problems. Same thing with Aya, come to think of it.
[ ] ... This is kind of an aside, but what's up with that snake thing?

[ ] No, let's just get started right away.

Despite what life may throw at me, I'm still here. Hello.

Anyway, pick what you want, if you actually want anything. Write-ins are fine and all that.
>> No. 28114
[X] Uh, did you figure out how to give me full control or just get rid of the nightmares?
[X] Who did you have to fight off for this stuff? I really hope it doesn't cause any problems. Same thing with Aya, come to think of it.
[X] ... This is kind of an aside, but what's up with that snake thing?
>> No. 28115
[X] Uh, did you figure out how to give me full control or just get rid of the nightmares?
[X] Do you need me to do anything? Just sitting around while you experiment is a little dull.
[X] Who did you have to fight off for this stuff? I really hope it doesn't cause any problems. Same thing with Aya, come to think of it.

Let's stick to the important information that's either immediately helpful or poses a risk of biting us in the ass later.
>> No. 28116
[x] Uh, did you figure out how to give me full control or just get rid of the nightmares?
[x] Where did you go to get all of this stuff anyway? The other magicians?
>> No. 28118
[X] Uh, did you figure out how to give me full control or just get rid of the nightmares?
[X] Is this going to take a long time? I'm okay with waiting, but Chiyo...
[X] Who did you have to fight off for this stuff? I really hope it doesn't cause any problems. Same thing with Aya, come to think of it.
>> No. 28125
[x] Uh, did you figure out how to give me full control or just get rid of the nightmares?
[x] Who did you have to fight off for this stuff? I really hope it doesn't cause any problems. Same thing with Aya, come to think of it.
[x] ... This is kind of an aside, but what's up with that snake thing?

How did you manage to make the tsuchinoko so adorable? I have a snake as thick as my shoulder living in my house and it's not cute at all.
>> No. 28126
[x] Uh, did you figure out how to give me full control or just get rid of the nightmares?
[x] Who did you have to fight off for this stuff? I really hope it doesn't cause any problems. Same thing with Aya, come to think of it.
[x] ... This is kind of an aside, but what's up with that snake thing?
>> No. 28129
[x] Uh, did you figure out how to give me full control or just get rid of the nightmares?
[x] Who did you have to fight off for this stuff? I really hope it doesn't cause any problems. Aya can get fucked though
[x] ... This is kind of an aside, but what's up with that snake thing?

THP has a new pet
>> No. 28130
File 150232590737.png - (301.42KB , 708x384 , SaBNDTsuchinoko.png ) [iqdb]
28130
>>28125
Look at this chubby little round snek. Total cutie.
>> No. 28138
some day I'll be able to keep my update schedule two updates in a row again.

some day
>> No. 28142
File 150249096079.jpg - (375.49KB , 800x600 , cute snek.jpg ) [iqdb]
28142
[X] Uh, did you figure out how to give me full control or just get rid of the nightmares?
[X] Who did you have to fight off for this stuff? I really hope it doesn't cause any problems. Same thing with Aya, come to think of it.
[X] ... This is kind of an aside, but what's up with that snake thing?

"A breakthrough, you say..." Not that I don't believe Marisa of course. There's really no reason not to, after all. It just seems like a pretty vague thing to say. There's more than one area that a breakthrough could be related to. "Was that for the nightmares or the um, everything?" I ask, just for clarification.

"Well like I figured," Marisa opens up her bag and digs through it as she responds to me absentmindedly. "Stopping the nightmares should be the easy way out. Just gotta cut off the magic connection thing you've got going on, and that'll be that. Assuming I can figure out all the ins and outs to how it all works."

"Um, okay," That sounds sorta kinda promising at least. Although an unspoken point comes to my mind as I watch Marisa gather up an armful of books and lay them out on her desk, covering up the previously incorrect diagrams and notes. "So if that's the easy part, then the hard part would be..."

"Taking full control of the connection for yourself instead," Marisa answers, ducking herself back into the sack. Hm, it looks like she has quite a haul there. "I got an idea about how to pull something like that off, but it's riskier. We're messing with a pretty powerful bit of magic here. Can't have something interesting like that without a bit of danger."

Marisa sounds kind of excited about the idea, but her tone just makes me nervous. "What exactly is going on with me?" And why is fixing whatever it is dangerous? I really don't like the sound of that.

"The dream world," What!? Marisa's answer is so nonchalant that I'm left stunnned by it for a moment. "Dunno why I didn't think of it myself actually. Should've been an easy read when you said you were having nightmares," She continues, now pulling out a bundle of rolled up paper. "In my defense, it's an old kinda magic. I haven't messed with it so much."

Huh, that sounds familiar... But wait, hold on. This is a lot to think about. "The dream world?" I repeat automatically. I was connected to the dream world this whole time? That's where the bullets are coming from? Or is it just the nightmares? How does that even work? Why did that even happen? And why didn't the scientists back on the Moon figure that out?

"Yup," It takes me a second to remember which one of my questions I said out loud for Marisa to actually respond to. "It's a weird kind of connection actually. Really faint, shouldn't be enough to do anything at all, or even really notice it. Patchy was guessing that it gets much stronger while you're asleep, hence the nightmares and stuff, but the bullets are still something that we couldn't quite figure out just by brainstorming."

Urgh, that doesn't sound good either. "Patchy?" Chiyo asks before I can properly respond.

"Oh yeah, you probably don't know her. She's a uh... What's that word again?" Marisa pauses her digging for a moment to think. "Colleague! Yeah, that's it. A colleague. Best source of books in the business. Thank you Patchy, for your service to the cause of advancing magic in Gensokyo," She gives a short mock salute before burying her head again.

Slightly sarcastic gratitude aside, I guess it isn't so bad that Marisa consulted someone else on this, especially if it led to a breakthrough. As long as it was only a consultation, that is. "Um, you didn't fight her or anything, right?"

"Patchy? Nah," Marisa dismisses the thought offhand as she pulls out... A couple of pill bottles? What are those for? "Today was one of those days when she pretended to be above it all. Probably helped that I brought her an interesting case to study so she wasn't in the mood to chase me out. Oh speaking of which, if you blow up or something, I promised to donate what's left of you to her for study."

Err... Well, Marisa's tone is pretty clearly joking, but you can never be too sure, so... "I'm really hoping it doesn't come to that."

"Would ruin a few plans, yeah," Marisa agrees, finishing up with her bag. She tosses the empty thing off to the side, not even watching where it lands, then leans toward me and Chiyo, smiling wide. "Though personally, if I was gonna go out, blowin' up seems like the way I'd wanna do it. Way more interesting than getting sick or eaten by youkai or the like. They'd be running the headlines for weeks, and I'd probably even get the crater named after me," She waves her hand in front of her dramatically, as if following the arc of a sign in front of her. "Marisa Kirisame memorial crater! Deepest man made hole in all of gensokyo."

"Even deeper than the underground power plant?" Chiyo asks, barely playing along with Marisa's oddness.

Marisa smirks in response. "Don't go underestimating my ambitions," She confidently answers.

... Seriously. This girl...

"A-anyway, we're getting away from the point here," I try to push things forward. Marisa can make her jokes all she wants, but I do have real concerns here. "You say you didn't fight that Patchy person, but I definitely heard you firing at someone right before you got back. Who was that then?"

"Does it really matter?" Marisa brushes me off, turning back to her desk and shuffling through her new books and papers. "One or two fights is nothing to worry about, and I got what I needed out of them."

One or two? Do I dare believe it was one of those nice, low numbers? "I need to know if there are people that we have to avoid now," I explain. "Aya was already on that list, sure, but I don't want things to get any worse."

"Hhuuu..." Marisa lets out an annoyed huff, spinning her chair back around to face me. "Fine. That was Alice just now. You don't really gotta worry about her though. We duel all the time, usually for even worse reasons than 'hey I need this stuff from you and I don't care that it's dangerous'."

I' still not completely convinced, but I also can't claim to understand Marisa's relationships. "Okay, and was there anyone else?"

"Weeellll... China, but guarding the mansion's part of her job anyway. Totally normal," Yeah, I don't know who China is either. "Only unusual fight was Elly. Most people don't have reason to go to Mugenkan, but I guess she was still hanging around there."

Finally a name that I do know. Also one that I'm not all that happy about hearing though. "Oh..." Elly got attacked and it was more or less my fault. Sure, it was just danmaku, but still...

"Well it was either look through that old place and find some leftover literature on the dream world subject, or go to the owner herself, Marisa defends herself. "Talking to Yuuka... Well, I'd rather make my crater on my own terms, you know?"

"Err... not really," What, someone that Marisa is scared of? How weird, I had gotten a pretty positive picture of Yuuka from talking to Elly.

"Hmm," Marisa makes a noncommital grunt before going back to her desk. She looks through things for a little longer before- "Actually, come on. Walk with me, I need to go grab some things," She stands back up, already making her way across the room.

Sheesh, can she not just pick a way to prepare and stick to it? I still don't know what the plan is exactly, but it doesn't seem like Marisa's making much progress toward it. Still, Chiyo and I both follow along. "Okay I guess..."

"But yeah, that was my itinerary for our little break," Marisa continues casually as we walk through her house. "Stop by the Scarlet Devil Mansion and brainstorm with Patchy, get some ideas, head to Mugankan for the necessary literature, then stop by Alice's house to grab something from her," She rattles off, completely neglecting to mention any of the fights she had along the way. "I'm a very busy girl."

"Sounds like it," Chiyo's blank agreement mirrors my own feelings pretty well.

We head up to where I had just come down from, Marisa's bedroom. If I left any evidence of my snooping around up here, the room's occupant herself doesn't appear to notice. Instead, Marisa quickly moves across the room, grabbing a couple of spare pillows off her bed before lobbing them in my general direction. I don't think she's trying to start a pillow fight here. "Just hold on to those," She orders, already digging through the clutter on a nearby shelf. "Hmm, thought I had the right kinda smelly candles up here somewhere..."

Candles? Pillows? "What are these for?"

"Your benefit, more than anything," Marisa half answers. "They're not strictly necessary, but if I could find them..."

"What about that box?" Chiyo suddenly cuts in to ask. When I glance over at her, she nods me toward a nearby pile. Near the top of the heap is... Ew. There's a cardboard box with a sticky looking (probably wax) substance partially melted through one of the corners.

"Oh?" Marisa seems mildly impressed when she also sees where Chiyo is indicating. "Yeah probably. Good eye. You wanna open it up and take a look?"

Chiyo hesitates for a second. not only is that box higher up than she is tall, but her arms are also otherwise occupied. Chi looks down at that snake thing, still resting comfortably in herarms, then easily makes a decision. "... No."

"... Fair enough," Marisa shrugs, moving to get the box by herself. What, just like that? No complaints or anything? Is it just because of the snake thing?

I feel like I have to ask about this, even if it probably isn't that important. "Um, this is kind of an aside, but what's up with that snake thing anyway?"

"He's a tsuchinoko actually," Marisa corrects me with a word that doesn't really mean anything. Even if there's a name for what snake thing is, it's still a snake thing. "A kind of snake youkai," See!? "I caught him one time when he was messing with some fairies. Decided I'd keep him around."

"Well, he at least seems pretty calm for a youkai," I admit, earning a raised eyebrow from Marisa. Right, I'm a youkai too. There's a pretty big difference though. "Err, at least like, an actually feral one."

"Well he's living the good life now, so yeah," Marisa agrees as she steps up precariously on some junk in order to reach the right box. "Just hangs around, buries himself in my stuff randomly, and chills. He's supposed to be able to manipulate plants. I figured he'd be a good source of extra mushrooms and potion ingredients and stuff, but hell if I've managed to get that idea into his head. Once in a while he'll catch a mouse though, so that's... kinda sorta like repaying me. I guess."

"And he's cute," Chiyo adds, looking down at the tsuchinoko with a small smile. She reaches up one hand and lightly pokes at the thing's nose. "Boop."

"Yeah, that's pretty much the most important thing," Marisa laughs, grabbing at the right box and pulling it down. She tosses the lid off to the side and looks at the contents. A smell that I can't really identify immediately starts to fill the air. Can't say I'm really a fan. "Yup. Here we go, this is what I was looking for," She smiles, tucking the still open box under her arm. "Let's head back down then. Gotta get to work."

Why break the work off to rummage through your house then? Ugh, whatever.

I wait for Marisa to start explaining herself, but lose patience by the time that we make it all the way downstairs. "Okay, what exactly is the plan here?" I feel like I have a right to know. Like I kind of have a guess based on what I'm holding here, but...

"Basically, we're gonna have you fall asleep for a bit," Yup, there it is. It sounded silly to just say it out loud, but apparently it isn't a problem for Marisa.

"Um, it's a little early for that," I point out. It's still afternoon, I'm a long way away from actually feeling tired. "But I'm assuming you have some sort of plan?"

"Yup," That's all the answer I get as we walk through Marisa's house some more. Once we enter the workshop again, she finally continues by stepping over to her desk and picking up... That pill bottle from earlier?

"So this," Marisa says, shaking the bottle just to hear the contents rattle around inside. "This is what I had to get from Alice. Butterfly Dream Pills. They're supposed to put you to sleep and give you a relaxing dream or something. Dunno, I never used them."

I'm... Well, normally I would be skeptical, but then, I'm also the one that spent years taking pills that did the opposite and prevented any dreams from happening. "That... doesn't sound bad. What's the catch?" There has to be a catch.

Marisa stops shaking the bottle and instead pops one of the pills out to examine it. "These ones that I got here are actually a much older, much harder to get a hold of version. The stuff on the market now has all the kinks ironed out, but this version here can actually be dangerous. take too many too often, or get too relaxed into your dream, and your mind could actually get caught up in the dream world for good."

"Uh huh..." Well yeah, having actually been to the dream world, I wouldn't want to get stuck in there. That actually does sound pretty dangerous then.

"But they're much more potent because of that danger," Marisa continues. "Basically what I want to do here is make your connection to the dream world as strong as possible while you're asleep. From there I can manipulate and control it, then fix up your issues."

I feel like there are a lot of steps missing from there. Probably doesn't help that being asleep means I won't even have any say in what happens. "... And you're sure you can do that?"

"Probably."

"Just probably?!"

Marisa lets out another huff of annoyance, setting the pills down on her desk. "Look, we're never gonna get anywhere if we don't take a risk. That ain't how magic works," She explains. "And me and Chi will both be here to watch and make sure you don't get too deep. Nothing bad's gonna happen."

"But still..." It's easy for her to say that, but she doesn't actually know what she's doing, does she? She only just picked up books on the subject.

"... If it's really that bad, I got some of the newer, safer pills too," Marisa reluctantly adds after a slight pause. She grabs another bottle of pills and holds it up. I can't really tell the difference between the two, to be honest. "Wouldn't be as effective for me and my work, so I can't guarantee the results would be as positive, but if you're concerned about safety, this should be one hundred percent safe."

"Should," Chiyo repeats the operative word.

Marisa shoots Chiyo an annoyed look, but doesn't counter the point. Instead she just looks back at me. "So what's it gonna be Seiran?"

Um, let me think here. The more dangerous pill means a stronger connection, which means that Marisa will have a better chance in succeeding with actually helping me. The downside is the danger of getting lost in the dream world... I don't know if that's worth the risk or not. Honestly the whole choice kind of worries me either way, but if Marisa's asking me to decide now...

[ ] I'll take the older, more dangerous pill
[ ] I'll take the newer, safer pill
[ ] Maybe we should call this off
[ ] Maybe we should reschedule this until later

At least I'm happy with how this turned out in the end.
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