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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)
[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.
[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.
[x] Be honest about everything, but try to convince Marisa to keep quiet about it.

This seems like the best of the options here.
[X] Be honest about everything, but try to convince Marisa to keep quiet about it.

This can only end in Fun.
[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.
[x] Be honest about everything, but try to convince Marisa to keep quiet about it.

What the others said.
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.
File 149861615089.jpg - (74.95KB, 785x550, Getting up and going.jpg) [iqdb]
[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.


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)
[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.
[x] Take Sanae's place in the duel.

Brave bunny. Soon to be beaten, but brave.
[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
[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.
[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.
[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?
(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.
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.
File 149880122144.jpg - (89.17KB, 400x600, Bit of a speed demon.jpg) [iqdb]
[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?
[X] Have Sanae go talk to Aya. She has some authority, maybe Aya will have to listen.
[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.
[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.
[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.
[X] Have Marisa go talk to Aya. She wants to keep this equipment a secret too after all.

Well, this could've gone better
Update is postponed (probably until wednesday/thursday) due to vacation related scheduling shenanigans, sorry.
File 149940610644.jpg - (663.93KB, 1275x900, Can't fit this in a scoop.jpg) [iqdb]
[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.
[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.
[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.
[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.
[ ] 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.
[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.
[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.
[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.
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[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.


"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)
[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.
[X] Maybe a couple of hours is enough time to squeeze in a visit to the Palace of Earth Spirits?
[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.
[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.
[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...
[x] Maybe a couple of hours is enough time to squeeze in a visit to the Palace of Earth Spirits?

[X] Maybe a couple of hours is enough time to squeeze in a visit to the Palace of Earth Spirits?
[X] Maybe a couple of hours is enough time to squeeze in a visit to the Palace of Earth Spirits?

We promised Chiyo.

Delay again. Probably not until uh... Late tomorrow? Possibly very late (depending on timezone of course). There are an annoying amount of things happening.
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[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.
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.
Gotta agree with you here.
[X] Ask Chiyo if she wants you to come with her or not.
[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.
[X] Ask Chiyo if she wants you to come with her or not.
[x] Ask Chiyo if she wants you to come with her or not.

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

It's only fair.
[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.
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.
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[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.
[X] Well, just a quick look around should be fine.

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

If Koishi really wants our attention, she can damn well work for it.
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.
[X] No, I should stay put until Chiyo is done.

Resist the temptations.
[x] Well, just a quick look around should be fine.
[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.
[X] Well, just a quick look around should be fine.

Don't be such a stick in the mud Seiran (also hi Koishi!)
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[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.
[x] I'd like to be a little bit harder to embarrass

Easier to kiss all the cute youkai girls that way.
[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.
[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] 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!
[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.
[X] I'd... Huh?

You have some good points there.
[X] I'd... Huh?

Yeah actually, that makes a lot of sense
You're very boring
[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.
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.
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[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)
[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...

As far as writers go you've been updating at a pretty good pace, so take your time when you need to.
[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.

[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.
[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.
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.
[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.
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[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.
[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.
[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.
[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?
[X] Have a look around the house for Marisa. We're not invading anyone's privacy, we're just looking for our host.
[X] Have a look around the house for Marisa. We're not invading anyone's privacy, we're just looking for our host.
[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.
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
Okay I'm wrong again. More time than previously expected.
File 150216792856.jpg - (254.20KB, 1395x916, Do not mess with.jpg) [iqdb]
[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.


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.
[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?
[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.
[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?
[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.
[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.
[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?
[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
File 150232590737.png - (301.42KB, 708x384, SaBNDTsuchinoko.png) [iqdb]
Look at this chubby little round snek. Total cutie.
some day I'll be able to keep my update schedule two updates in a row again.

some day
File 150249096079.jpg - (375.49KB, 800x600, cute snek.jpg) [iqdb]
[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?"


"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.
[X] I'll take the older, more dangerous pill

Nothing ventured, nothing gained!
[x] I'll take the older, more dangerous pill

A little death never hurt anyone.
[X] I'll take the older, more dangerous pill

Taking the dream world express.
[X] I'll take the older, more dangerous pill
>"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?"

[x] Can't we ask for Yuuka's opinion beforehand?
-[x] I mean, I might die. She might be dangerous but I'm already risking my life.

Why haven't we asked her opinion anyway? She knew who she was.
[x] I'll take the older, more dangerous pill

Isn't the Dream World kinda-sorta where we want to be anyway?
File 150277368032.jpg - (319.88KB, 800x533, Fluttering by.jpg) [iqdb]
[X] I'll take the older, more dangerous pill

It's justified to have some serious misgivings here, right? It has to be. Marisa basically just told me that I could (in the very worst case) get trapped in the dream world, and it's pretty easy to tell that she hasn't done this before personally. Magic? Yes, she's clearly proficient in that. But the dream world whatever she's lining up for me? Not so much.

And yet, I'm still here.

... I'm still not going to sigh.

Either I need to go all in at this point, or I should just call the whole thing off. Half measures aren't the answer at this point. Not after I've already spent over half of an entire day of our rather limited time running around Gensokyo to set this up. Either I drop it and stop sinking more time, or I just trust what Marisa can do.

... Well, no, it wouldn't quite be all lost. At least the Satori visit was productive. That's kind of unrelated though, so... Ugh, I'm just jumping through mental hoops at this point. Need to accept that if I back out now it's a waste. I don't want to do any wasting of time, whether it's mine or Marisa's. That really only leaves me with one choice then, doesn't it?

"Okay. I'll take the older pill," I answer, feeling a little bit apprehensive still. Marisa is obviously pleased with my decision, so that at least makes one of us... Ugh, stop! I just keep being pessimistic about things. This is not productive. "So what do I need to do?" I ask, glancing around the room. I catch Chiyo giving me a slightly worried look. She pulls the snake thing a bit closer to herself for a moment, but quickly calms down and returns to her normal expression. Doesn't say anything though.

Instead, Marisa responds to my question. "Just set yourself up," She answers rather dismissively, going back to her books. "Doesn't really matter where exactly, just clear a spot on the floor that you can lie down on."

On the floor? Well, it's not like I haven't slept like that before, but...

"That's what the pillows are for by the way," Marisa adds, possibly after seeing my discomfort with the arrangement. "I woulda let you use my bed, but I kinda need my notes and stuff set up here so I can work things properly."

"Hmm," Even if Marisa's reasoning is vague, I get what she's saying. "Well I can't say it's going to be comfortable no matter how many pillows you brought down..." Especially because Marisa's bedding isn't exactly the highest of quality. "But I just have to fall asleep, right?"

"Yup," Marisa confirms. "Don't worry about it too much. The pill and the candles should help with getting through the hard part of actually dozing off. You just gotta be comfy enough to not wake up naturally while I'm working with you."

And hopefully enough to not be cramped if when I wake back up. "I can manage that much," I respond. It's just falling asleep.

"Gotta be a balance though," Marisa cautions me after a moment. "If something goes wrong I need to be able to wake you back up too. I'm no stranger to being noisy, but keep it in mind anyway."

Considering how I just heard her fighting up in the sky from down here in the house... Yeah. Though I don't think she'll let out that giant laser right here just to wake me up. The point is that she's more than capable. "I'll take your word for it," I answer back. Honestly, that's something that I actually am comfortable putting faith in Marisa over. Though I don't have much choice on anything else either. From what I can tell, this whole setup has a lot more to do with her and her abilities than it does with me. I just have to sleep.

Chiyo helps me find an easily cleared up spot. We really just relocate some of the clutter to somewhere else, which is probably sufficient. Or at least it is after Marisa points out that she also needs some more space to set up things around me too. Once that's done though, I lay out some pillows while Chiyo steps away to get me a glass of water.

Marisa draws a circle around my sleeping area, then spreads out some of her candles. Well, at least they smell a bit less offensive now that they're not cooped up in a box. Still not sure if they'll really help me sleep. Maybe it'll be different when they're actually lit though.

Once everything has been set up... Nothing left to do but take the pill. At least, I don't think so. Err, it can't hurt to double check though, right? Right. "Umm, anything else I should know?" I ask, now sitting down in the center of what is clearly some kind of magical ritual that I don't at all understand.

Marisa snaps her book shut before picking up another one. "Mmmm... Not really. Just try not to go with the dream one-hundred percent," She advises. I'm not really sure if I can help it, but... Okay I guess. "Try to stay a little lucid so you don't get sucked in completely. Like I said, I'll be watching, but there's..." She trails off, apparently having had her eye caught by something she's reading. "... Yeah, there's a lot of stuff I have to do at the same time."

Ugh... This... Honestly I think it's justified that I'm feeling really anxious. It really reminds me of my time in the hospital. Sure, Marisa is a lot nicer and less businesslike about the whole situation, but she's still basically experimenting on me. It makes it a bit better to know that if this works it could actually be a permanent fix, but... I've heard that before. Many many times in fact. Granted, Marisa seems to be approaching things from a different angle than those doctors did, or at least from what I can tell. Maybe she really did stumble onto the actual solution? That's kind of hard to believe, but...

Still, there's nothing else to do but go along with it. That's what I decided to do. I take a deep breath, grab the glass of water and the little red pill, then down both of them.

... I don't feel anything immediately. Not too surprising. It's probably like my sleeping pill. I'll just lie down and wait for it to take effect. I settle onto the ground and try to get comfortable, glancing over at Chiyo. She couldn't sit inside the circle, but she's still vigilantly waiting nearby. I'm kind of glad for that. I can always count on Chiyo to come in clutch when needed. Probably good, because Marisa is still poring over her books. I don't think she'll be able to watch me very closely while doing that...

... I'm really not going to be able to calm down and fall asleep if I keep worrying like this.



... I'm... I'm flying.

This... I've felt this before. Floating through the air. Just a tiny bit of wind. The temperature is just right. The sun is shining down on me. Not too bright, but enough to make the colors of the grass and the plants below me pop out. A mixture, predominantly green, but with smatterings of vibrant colors all around. Flowers, tress... Life.

It's perfect really.

I flutter my wings a bit, dipping down to go in for a landing. The air currents around me give little to no resistance. Almost like I don't need wings at all. The sensation of flapping them lightly is still calming though, so I continue to do it automatically.

... There. That one.

The flower is a perfect kind of blue shade. What is it called? I don't know. It doesn't matter. That's the one that I'm targeting. I'm going to land there. Then I'll take a brief rest, get some energy, and it's on to the next flower. Lovely. Wonderful. Nice and relaxing.

Just need to slow down, descend... Fall... Good.

I land softly, feeling the flower barely squish under my minuscule weight. It shifts from side to side from a moment, but the air around me moves just enough to correct it. No need to worry. Everything is fine. I can relax.

Relax and eat a little bit.




I look up into the clear blue sky. I spread my wings out. Lift off... And I'm on to the next one. Just floating along. Flying along. Such a nice feeling. Such a calm thing. No effort. Just relaxing, easy, restful...




There. That one.

The flower is a perfect kind of shade of dark blues and reds. They swirl and mix together in an oddly familiar pattern. Have I seen something like that before? I don't know. It doesn't matter. That's the one that I'm targeting. I'm going to land there. Then I'll take a brief rest, get a tiny bit of energy, and it's on to the next flower. Lovely.

Just need to shoot down in that direction... Fly... A little faster... Wait, no. Slow down... Good.

I land a bit harder than I should have. The flower gives way a bit too much... I think I broke the surface? It takes a while for the swaying to stop enough for me to know what I did.

... No need to worry. Everything is fine. I can relax.

Breaking it just made it easier to eat from anyway.




I look up at the dark, swirling colors above me. I spread my... No. Just lift off... And I'm on to the next one. Just flying along. Shooting away. Speeding up.




There. That one.

The instant I pick my target, my body blasts through the dark air surrounding me. Straight line. One shot. No sound, no smell, no smoke, no gunpowder, no shell, no case. Just going forward. My thoughts... Slower than before... But everything else is faster... Much, much faster.

Just need to...

I breach through the surface of the pink, blobby mass of flower. Cleanly burrowing through before exiting out the other side. Not enough resistance, of course a flower wouldn't stop me. Going to fast. Too high caliber. It's just made out of... I don't know. Whatever it is isn't strong enough.

... I'm a little worried.

I keep hurtling forward. Too much momentum. Too much force. Not enough stopping power.

Just shooting through this void until I hit something.



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

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

... No, those aren't the right words. That's not what happened to me just now, right?

I felt an impact. I hit something. Something soft, squishy. It didn't give much resistance, but there was enough of it that I didn't exit out the other side. I can't see. I don't know what happened. It's... Everything is... Wet? It smells... Metallic. Like copper? I hear something... Someone groaning from above... From all around me.

The something that I'm in shifts slightly. It moans again, then... Whispers?

They're asking if... Somebody is okay? There was a name... I should recognize it. I should be able to hear what they're saying...

Then somebody screams in terror.

... This... Something is wrong. Why are things like this? I've been here before, right? Not like this, but from... Somewhere else? Perspective...

I need to do... I don't know. Can I move? Should I move? I don't feel danger... What if I miss something? What if I haven't been here long enough? What if it's not enough?

[ ] Go deeper
[ ] Stay still
[ ] Get out
...is Seiran dreaming that she's the bullet? If she is, then...

[x] Stay still
[x] Stay still
[X] Stay still

On the one hand, no more half measures. On the other hand, don't want to completely lose ourselves in the dream either.
[x] Stay still
[X] Stay still

Got to bite the bullet and hang in there.
[X] Go deeper

If she thinks she might have missed something, then keep going.
File 150303209045.jpg - (66.67KB, 625x920, nice and comfy.jpg) [iqdb]
[X] Stay still

... No. I'm going to stay still.

Something is wrong here. I shouldn't be here in this... Wherever. It's wet and warm and gross and something smells. Would it be better to move? No, no I shouldn't. Every time that my surroundings move, there's another grunt of pain. More wetness. This isn't good.

I'll stay still... Just try to pay attention. Don't let the swirling colors and the darkness and all of the everything take me down. Stay here. Don't do anything, but don't go anywhere.

What happens next? There has to be more to it than that, doesn't there? The longer I stay here, the more familiar it all is. I've been here before. I've seen this before. So many times. It's played through my mind. Sometimes awake, sometimes asleep. Not so much lately, but it's still there. It's still here.

What happens next?

I wake up?

No, that doesn't make sense. Maybe last time, but the other times...

No. I don't wake up. It's real. Or at least it was at one point.

If anything, I fall asleep again. Or do I faint? Yeah, I couldn't have fallen asleep. My head hurt too much. I was seeing too much. I couldn't understand what happened, even when it was right in front of me. Too soft. Too afraid. I took the easy way out. Another half measure. I couldn't help it. I couldn't handle it.

I fainted...

I'm sorry...



No. Wait! I was supposed to stay here. Stay still. Don't fall asleep again. Don't faint again. Don't go deeper. Do something else. Stay here!

... Where is here?


"-heavily sedated. We haven't pinned down the exact nature of her affliction yet. Currently she is still seeing these visions, as well as unconsciously magically manifesting them."

I don't like that voice... I've heard it before. I was hearing it for a long time. This... I'm not in the same place anymore, am I? I didn't go deeper. I stayed still, but everything changed around me anyway. Now I can't stay still anymore. I'm flying again. Buzzing around the room. The sterile white walls... The row of unoccupied beds, aside from that one. The one with all the ties...

"Uh huh..." Ah, that voice is... That's a lot more familiar. I know her voice really well. "But I can still go in and talk to her, right?"

A pause, then a groan. "... Well, um..."

"Listen..." A soft thump, muffled from the other side of the door, just like the voices. "I know what we had you do before. I know where we're keeping all of the leftover drugs too. Insurance, she called it."

"Ah... You wouldn't... But, my job..." The nurse is obviously distressed. An unwinnable situation?

"Nah, I wouldn't." Automatic agreement. So no blackmail? That wasn't the plan then. "I'm making you a deal. You help me out, then we can both just stop worrying about that stuff. It'll go missing forever, Naoko'll have nothing on you, and we'll both be happy. Alright?"

"You... You're lying."

"I'm telling the truth. I'm not like that. Not anymore." It doesn't sound like she believes that. Although she is at least trying to make things better. More than she could say about her former friends. "And even if I was, what would you have to lose?"

"... I need to lock things back up before my shift ends for this cycle. Make it quick."

"Right," That's a relief. "And you won't hear from me again after tonight. I'll get that thing taken care of. You're a free rabbit from now on... Well, as much as any of the rest of us are."


A buzzer. A couple of loud clanks as the door unlocks. A couple more loud clanks...

"Yeesh... What the hell?" What? What's the problem? I can't really see properly. I'm flying too quickly. In fact, I think I've been speeding up the closer and closer she gets. Flying around... Going everywhere. Uncontrollable. "The straightjacket [i]and
the ties? Kinda overkill, isn't it? And that's coming from me..."

There's a brief pause. I speed up faster. Don't! Stop! Don't get closer...

"... And no chairs either, great," Instead, she sits on the closes bed. Next to the one with all the ties, and the rabbit inside of it.

"So... Seiran, right? We've barely talked before... Err, speaking of that, can you hear me at all?"


"... Well, she did warn me. Heavily sedated... This... This is fucked up," She sighs to herself. "Aagghhhh... Why did I even come here? And I burned my only way in too..."


"Alright. I guess... I dunno if you can actually hear me or not, but... I'm just gonna say my piece anyway, alright? Might not get a chance to see you again until after they figure out how to cure you and let you out. I might be kinda busy depending on when that happens too. I've got plans now... But yeah, I just wanted to tell you a couple of things. Hope you can actually hear them."

She clears her throat quietly.

"I'm not mad at you, okay? I don't even blame you. It was random. You happened to get some weird powers, and they happened to hit me. Yeah, it hurt, but it's not your fault. I'm fine now."

This... I don't remember this at all... But that doesn't mean it didn't happen, right?

"So I guess... When all of this is over and you're out of here, I'd like to meet up and talk for a while. Maybe get some food or something? Probably can't get off base easily anymore, but... Well, we'll figure something out."

For dango, right? That's what I would guess. I don't think we ever actually did that... At least not for a long time.

"And... Yeah. That's all I really had," She sounds awkward about it. She's never been the best at this kind of talk. Too serious. Not like her at all. "I dunno, I just couldn't sit around and wait for them to let you out. They're not officially allowing visitors in, so I figured you might be lonely or something."

... Projecting?

"Hell, I don't know if they even told you that I was okay or not. Maybe you were still feeling guilty about what happened. It's... Yeah, I just wanted to make sure you knew that I'm okay, and I don't blame you, so..." She stands up and moves closer to the bed. Reaching up her arm and-

Just that tap. That bit of motion. That's enough. The rabbit is moved just enough for it to work. I feel a pulling sensation in my core as I'm wrenched out of my flight path, instead appearing right next to the rabbit's tied up body. The shock is enough to force her to let go.

I shoot-

My flight is short. Painfully so. There's only a fraction of a second before I collide with the tiled flooring, digging deep into it before coming to a forceful halt. What a waste. I finally got to fly freely, but it was for such a short time, and I didn't even hit anything. This is terrible. Not relaxing at all. I should be flying around. Fluttering around. This should be calm and relaxing... Why am I seeing all of this instead of all of that?

"Ah... Shit." A voice comes from above. "I uh... Guess I shouldn't have touched you. W-well uhm... Just keep in mind what I said, alright? We'll meet up after you're better. I promise."

I can feel the slight shakes of her footsteps as she walks away, then a pause, then a much larger shaking as the door opens and closes one more time.

Then nothing.

... It's dark again.

Not as dark as it should be though. I can see those colors again. The swirling purples and blues. The lines of red. The specks of bright lights... They seem stronger now, compared to before. Maybe it's the lack of other sensations. Without the smell or the warmth or the wetness, there's very little else to think about. There's very little else to feel, aside from the floaty, dreamy feeling around me.

I... Is there more to this? It feels like I'm being pulled again. Should I keep going along with it? I... I don't think I can just stay still again. I can tell that I'm not deep enough yet, but...

[ ] Go deeper
[ ] Get out

Fairly short one here, but that will happen some times I guess.
[x] Go deeper

something something inception reference
Ringo is a bro

[X] Depeer
How do I keep messing up tags and then also mess up my password thing so that I can't delete? I don't even know. Wish there was an easy edit button but much imageboard culture.

Oh well...
[X] Go deeper
[X] Go deeper

We need to go deeper.
[X] Go deeper

No retreat, no surrender!
[X] Go deeper
File 150337948480.png - (1.66MB, 1072x1500, Wakey wakey.png) [iqdb]
[X] Go deeper

I'll... I'll go. I don't know where I'm being pulled to, though it is definitely a pull. Right in the center of myself. A tug, not really gentle, but it doesn't hurt. Hard to feel like anything hurts after I already smashed through the floor. I'm too solid. I can do this. I can go. It will be okay...

Let's go.

The instant that I decide that, my awareness shakes, everything blurs. I see-I see noise? Like static, but too colorful. Too dark. It's like some kind of mosaic, but for my brain instead of just my eyes. Hard to describe, even harder to keep away. Maybe I shouldn't keep it away. I'll let it do wh-...



It's dark. Not so dark that I can't still see, but definitely dark. Like some kind of haze is crowding my vision, but I can't tell what exactly is causing it. It doesn't matter that much. It's not obscuring much of anything. Even without it, there wouldn't be much to see.

There are colors. A familiar kind of mix of reds and blues and purples, all masked behind the dark filter. They don't form any particular pattern, in fact they seem to shift over time. Only when I'm not looking though. Staring at a spot seems to make it stabilize just a little bit. I want to try and see what happens when I really REALLY focus on one spot, but I can't seem to do it. I've gotten close before, there almost seemed to be solid shapes of some kind. I couldn't keep on it for long enough though.

I don't have any control. It's a strange sensation. My sense of self is far too weak. Nothing's keeping me grounded, but nothing is letting go free either. There's no sense of gravity or weight to my movement, if indeed I'm moving at all. With only the colors around, it's entirely possible that I'm not. Maybe everything else is moving instead. It's hard to tell when I can't feel anything. I can't see myself either, or maybe I could if I could move my head to look at myself. I'm more curious about the other one though.

Someone is humming. It's a light, kind of somber tune. Just soothing enough to not be haunting, although if I were in a worse frame of mind I suppose I could see it either way. Occasionally the humming stops and I hear some other noises, but that's much less predictable. It always starts with a squish, or a crunch, or a splat, then moves into something else. Sometimes it's a giggle, sometimes a sigh, I swear I've heard crying at least once, but usually it's just silence. Then it eventually goes back to the humming again.

This isn't the first time. I've been here many times before. I think it started around basic training. Before that maybe? What happened before that? What started all this? I don't know. Probably don't want to know. Being here so many times let's me stay calm, but that's all it does. The dream doesn't listen to me.

It's a dream...
Is it a dream though? I'm lucid enough to think of that, but... The humming doesn't stop. My body doesn't start existing. The colors don't stay still. The darkness doesn't go away. All I get are me and my thoughts, scattered as they may be.

That's not right. It's not just me and my thoughts. After I've realized that I'm in a dream-

"Oh me, oh my~" That's... New. The voice isn't, it matches up with the humming from before, but what she's saying... It's new. "You're so much earlier than last time... Having a mid afternoon nap?"

I can't respond. Even if I could, I wouldn't know what to say. Who is talking? Why hasn't she said anything before? This isn't the first time. I've been here many times before. But it's never been like this. I feel more... I'm more whole. If I could just focus a little harder, look a little more...

Ah! W-woah. Stop!

There isn't enough of a chance for me to get my bearings before I'm pulled again. Not the same kind of pull as last time. This one is external, and more like a lift. Where am I going?

"Hmm... And the composition is strange too... Much more artificial," The voice is much closer to me now. Okay, that helps a little bit. I have a sense of distance. A sense of myself. Just need to concentrate on that. Maybe if she would just keep talking... "Curious. Always a curious one, you are. So full of surprises. I have to wonder just how you got to this point."

Yes, that's good. Not great, but better than before. I'm getting a sense of where I am. Lower than the voice, but still close by. I can see... Spots? Like polka dots, but detached from the fabric. Polka orbs? I don't know. Probably more important to see the fabric in the first place. Clothes. Clothes of whoever is talking.

"I also have to wonder how lucid you are right now," The voice continues. It sounds a little drowsy and carefree, even through the hint of curiosity. She's speaking slowly, and a lot more to herself than to me. "You're always so active. Every time I see you it's either another nightmare or..." She sighs, and I feel myself be lifted up higher.

This is... Pale face, slightly drooped eyes, dark blue hair, some kind of hat... I don't recognize her... At least I don't think so? I can't recall having seen her before, and yet...

"I can't even tell if you're ready or not yet... Such a strange little dreamer you are," Yeah, I'm definitely right in front of her face now. She's holding me up... Wait, in that case, what am I? I should be a rabbit, but...

"Oooh... That's no good. Squirming around like that. A part of me wanted to keep you around just to see what would happen, but no... You're definitely too lucid. Guess I'll have to do my job instead~. Hopefully you don't upset my stomach too much," I'm moved closer. Directly toward... W-wait. Toward her mouth!?

She opens wide. "Aaaaaa-" NO NO NO NO-!

Before the panic can even properly set in after I realize what's happening, something else starts happening instead. I feel a warmth, like some kind of glow from inside myself. It's... Wow. What little haziness was still in my mind disappears completely. My senses clear completely. I can tell what's going on. I can remember why I'm here.

There's a loud crashing sound along with an explosion of light all around me.

I'm awake.

Okay, situational assessment time. Proper, rational, military mind and all that. Marisa had me fall asleep so that I would connect to the dream world. Logic dictates that that's where I am right now. This weird, dark void with all the glowy red and blue lines and swirls of color. Hm, knowing what this place looks like definitely clears up some questions about dreams that I've had before. Even without that pill that Marisa gave me, my powers were enough to ensure that I was always coming back here. Might also be the case that everyone dreams in this place. I don't know. I only have my own experiences to go off of.

Although, now that I think about it... What even am I? This isn't... Like, I'm not a rabbit right now. Even having awareness of myself and my surroundings, it doesn't really feel like I'm real, if that makes sense. It's like my mind is present, but my body... It's like I'm immaterial. Even stranger still, it doesn't even feel all that strange, which is in itself... Strange. Yes, I'm just floating in a void of nothingness, but... Well, it's comfortable. Sleeping doesn't sound like too bad of an idea. At least it wouldn't if I didn't suddenly remember why I came here in the first place.

Marisa said to stay somewhat lucid so that I didn't get sucked into the dream completely. While I was doing that, she would focus on the magical connection that I have to the dream world itself. Whether it's her doing or not, I'm definitely pretty damn lucid right now. Hopefully this is good enough for her to do whatever she needs to do. It's kind of hard to guess how long this will last.

"Urghh..." What was-? Oh... Right, that girl who was picking me up somehow. Before that explosion happened she was trying to... Eat me? Wait, hold on, I know this. "Well, that's just a little irritating. You certainly are full of surprises, and not even the nice kind."

I can see now that the black and white orbs are attached to a dress. The hat is actually a nightcap. The girl herself... She pulls herself back up into a sitting position, her long tail swishing lightly in annoyance. Yeah, I definitely know this, and I don't like it.

On our trip down to Earth through the Kaian Passageway, the first piece and most important piece of advice I can remember hearing from command was "Avoid any and all bakus." Those things supposedly could control everything you saw, heard, felt, and even smelled in the dream world. Messing with one, especially when we were moving through the dream world in our real bodies, was just asking for something horrific to happen to us. Needless to say, we listened to the suggestion to avoid them at all costs.

And now I just blew up in one's face.

"Well then," The baku slowly stands back up, staring down at whatever kind of body I am. "I was looking forward to a little unexpected snack, but it seems that you're not worth the effort," Some of the orbs of detach themselves from the baku's dress, slowly floating into the air as they give off an inverted glow. "Why don't you be a good little dream, let your owner have a nice, long sleep, and forget everything for me?"

Even from the pleasant (if still a little sleepy) tone in her voice, I can feel the menacing atmosphere. More orbs start appearing, floating into position as if they're all going to collapse on top of me at any moment.

Crap, I... Yeah, I can't actually talk. I don't even seem to have a body. What am I? No time to figure that out. This baku doesn't seem like she's going to wait for much longer before she forces me out of the dream world (if that's actually what she's doing). Whether that's a good thing or not, I need to decide what to do about it right now.

I could try to run. Even if I don't know where to go, as long as I can stall for long enough that Marisa finishes up whatever magic she's attempting, it should be fine. Although, come to think of it, the fact that I'm this aware might be because Marisa has finished up her magic already. If that's the case, then it doesn't matter what happens now, as long as I can wake up.

That's kind of iffy to bet on though.

... Hm, actually, I'm in the dream world right now, right? This place is supposed to be the source of my powers in the first place. Maybe it would help Marisa if I used them? Although it would probably piss the baku off even more to fight back like that, and I doubt that I could win, or even hold her off for very long. Even if my powers are connected to this place, this is her realm in the first place. If I screw fighting her up... I don't know.

A smirk plays across the baku's face. She's getting ready. I'll...

[ ] Fight. I'll show this baku yet another surprise.
[ ] Run away. I'm not fighting a baku in it's homeworld, but Marisa might need more time.
[ ] Don't do anything. The baku sounded like she was just going to put me to sleep. Marisa and Chiyo will wake me up.
[X] Fight. I'll show this baku yet another surprise.

How very interesting. Let's see what dream world based danmaku powers can do directly in it.
[X] Run away. I'm not fighting a baku in it's homeworld, but Marisa might need more time.

Stall for time, it's the actual goal after all
[X] Fight. I'll show this baku yet another surprise

Damn she's really sure she'll lose. Maybe we should gain time for Marisa instead.
No. I believe in her.
[X] Run away. I'm not fighting a baku in it's homeworld, but Marisa might need more time.

Eyes on the prize everyone, let Marisa work her magic.
[x] Fight. I'll show this baku yet another surprise.

What better place to practice controlling her powers?
[X] Don't do anything. The baku sounded like she was just going to put me to sleep. Marisa and Chiyo will wake me up.

I like this option.
[x] Fight. I'll show this baku yet another surprise.

I just feel like our good 'ol Doremy's getting a little bit too cocky around this rabbit. Some bullets in her face will change her mind.
[x] Fight. I'll show this baku yet another surprise.
Delay again. May be tomorrow, may be later depending on what happens.
File 15038174511.png - (651.70KB, 621x881, Almost caught.png) [iqdb]
[X] Fight. I'll show this baku yet another surprise.


The idea is only half decided on in my mind before a shot rings out. Honestly I don't even see where the sound came from. was that me? I mean, it gives the baku pause, so it probably wasn't her, but the weird thing is how little effort it took.

The thought process seems really simple. I need to give Marisa more time to do her work, or at least I probably do if she's not done. We never really discussed a signal or anything. Could she even give me one? Well anyway I need to stall. Run or fight, either one has a chance of failing. I don't know much of anything about the dream world, so running might not work so well. Where would I even go? As for fighting though, my powers come from here, and from the look on the baku's face, they really weren't expected.

So I guess I should go with that then. The more I can catch this girl off guard, the better.

"What was...?" the baku only asks half a question, looking up and away at where the first shot probably came from. That's good. She's distracted, which gives me time... Woah.

It comes even easier than usual, feeling less like I'm just not suppressing the power and more like I'm purposely calling it forth. This unusual sight. This trick of my vision. The bullets start flying up and down and all around me. Unlike all the previous times, this time they actually feel real. At least... As real as anything else in this world.

"This is... What?" It seems like this time I'm not the only one that can see the bullets. The baku scrambles slightly when she notices what's going on, but quickly realizes the source. What else could it be other than something that I'm causing to happen, honestly? "What are you doing?"

Sternness in the voice or not, I don't have a way to answer that question. Still cant talk after all. Instead I try to focus on what I actually can do. This is a bit different from the usual. I need every moment I can get to experiment with how it works before things come to a head.

... Okay, it looks like I can focus on and will individual shots, but if I just try to switch it up to be a bit more general, or at least not specific... Woah. Yeah, that's a lot more movement. Really weird how effortless this feels. All it takes is a little bit of thought on a place and suddenly there are bullets there. I'm still lacking the finesse and control to pick and choose what is actually being fired though. Maybe if I tried drawing them in from somewhere else in the dream world... It's kind of like lucid dreaming, right? I can take control here and do whatev-

"Stop!" Okay, looks like that's all the time I'm getting to mess around.

Even without knowing exactly how, I still force my body(self?) into motion before the baku's glowing orbs can hit me. They're surprisingly fast, I only just barely avoid them making contact. From the number of them though-Yikes!

There's no gravity or sense of up and down here, so I can't really say which direction I'm going relative to much other than the baku herself. If I'm comparing that... Down and away, a long curved path. I'll try looping around and- Oh crap! Get out of my-


A bullet rips through the orb that I had been on a collision course with. The force and shock seems to have stretched out the orb into a long, translucent trail, spinning off into the distance. It isn't moving toward me anymore, instead harmlessly following the path of my own (unconscious) shot.

Woah. that's kind of unexpected. I wonder if that mean I could...

Bang! Bang bang bang!

I focus on the nearest orbs that are still trailing me, forcing bullets from out of nowhere to rip through them, sending the remaining, fading light spiralling off into the void.

Hah. Hahaha... Wow.

That's... That was kind of amazing. I can just do that? With just my own powers?

Could I actually win this?

I spin myself back around, facing toward the remaining orbs that are still headed toward me. It's easy to see the brightly growing ones, given the backdrop, although the dark ones are much more difficult. If I want to shoot down all of them...


Bang bang bang bang-

It's harder to call it concentration when it's so weirdly instinctual. A better way to describe it is that I just will the bullets to appear from somewhere (or just anywhere) and to follow a specific path. As long as it pierces each orb, I'm a little bit safer. If that's what it takes, then...

-bang bang bang bang-

Not sure whether I'm aiming them or if they all just happened to already be going in that direction, but it doesn't matter. Even if shots aren't accurate, I can just increase the quantity to make up for the quality. Push it a little harder, get more shots out... More!


... Aaaand... Clear. There aren't any orbs left, just the occasional wispy remain floating off in to the distance.

... I kind of wish I could laugh out loud. That was weirdly... Invigorating. I didn't just struggle through that, lose, or run away, like I've had to in a lot of instances. I fought back. I fought back through everything sent my way, and I'm still here. What are you going to do about it, baku?

"Fuuu..." When I turn my awareness back toward my opponent, she let's out an unhappy sigh. Her face looks... She's irritated, but not shaken. She obviously didn't expect what just happened, but just looking at her, it doesn't look like she's all that bothered over it either. There's a fair amount of distance between us now, but I can still see that look clearly. I don't like it. Like she knows something I don't... Okay, obviously she does, but-

What is she doing?

Spreading her arms out wide, the baku lazily gestures to either side of her. What? There's nothing- What!?

Everything around me, the entire environment in the surrounding void... It twists. Not to an extreme degree, but just watching it, all the crisscrossing lines, the sparkles of color, the clouds and bright lights, all of that rotates slightly. How-? No, that actually makes sense. Even if I don't like it, it makes sense. This is the dream world, a place that's controlled by bakus. Even if I can move around and shoot bullets here...

She can do everything else.

Before I can figure out a plan on what to do, the baku swings her arms in front of her, pointing them in my direction. I feel a strange kind of pushing sensation, like I should be moving, but I'm not sure what direction I'm going. Maybe I'm not? Wait, no, it's the lights! As the world shifts around me, the lights close in much closer, stretching out from single points into long lines. There's... That's a lot of them. I have a feeling that I shouldn't let them touch me. I need to move. Now.

Where to go?... The lights are shooting in from every possible direction. I can't possibly track all of them. That way! I pick a path where the density is the lowest, or at least I think it is, and fly.

At least, I think I start flying. My position moves relative to the beams of light, but everything else seems to stay the same. Am I moving or are they? Both? Crap, another light is coming in from the side! I twist and turn, trying to move out of the- No, not that way. Change cour-Not that way either!

No no no... The beams of light are getting more and more dense. I'm being walled in. I can't-!

... I'm surrounded.

I come to a halt (if I was ever really moving in the first place). There are too many lasers. Everywhere I look, I'm cut off from being able to go that way. The dark surroundings of the dream world almost entirely obscured by the bright white lights as they push closer and closer toward me.

Now she's just toying with me. I can see the baku occasionally, peeking out from behind the walls of light. Her face has returned to that calm, self assured, smug expression. She's reclined, at a weird angle compared to what I think upright is supposed to be right now. It... Seeing her like that kind of pisses me off.

"Dream catcher..." The baku says quietly to herself with a lazy giggle. Her arm gesturing vaguely in my direction as the light walls close in tighter. Is she going to crush me or something? Crap crap crap... I still don't know if I've used up enough time, but what can I do?

This... Crap... Shit. I can't even move anymore!

Maybe if... Yeah, okay. I don't know if this will work, and I probably only get one shot at this. If she's going to toy with me when I'm still able to do things, then I need to take advantage of that. The next time the lasers clear up enough that I can get a good glimpse of her... There. Take aim, and...


"Woah!" A different voice calls out in surprise. "Okay, sheesh, you can have five more minutes."

My body lurches up in surprise. What happened to-Wait, my body?

I look around for a moment. Messy workshop. Stacks of books and junk all over the place. Chiyo leaning over me looking concerned... I'm awake again.

Letting out a breath of relief, I try to get my thoughts back in order. That was really, really weird. I remember all of it, and can at least kind of understand what happened, but the sensation of switching between so many different perspectives and bodies was just... I don't know. I need some time to recover from all of that stuff.

Unfortunately, I don't really get the chance. "So, how you feeling?" Marisa's voice asks me as soon as I've sat up. Sheesh, doesn't even give me a chance to eat breakfast first? Err, not that now is exactly the time for that. Maybe we're more around lunchtime, or possibly a little later.

Anyway, how am I feeling? "Um," Honestly, how should I be feeling right now? I'm definitely not refreshed after that nap. That was really stressful. That's kind of the less important bit though. "Did it work?" I ask back, glancing up at where Marisa is standing. It looks like she abandoned her chair at some point. She's standing up, a tome still in her hand and her hat missing entirely.

"Well I'm pretty sure I managed everything on my end. Kinda need your confirmation if it actually worked or not though," Marisa doesn't really answer my question, although to be fair I didn't answer hers either. "You uh, kinda shot up my house a little bit, so-"

I what?! I look around the room, and sure enough, there are a couple of bullet holes in the ceiling and upper walls. I'm pretty sure some of the surrounding junk wasn't tipped over like that too... Crap... Although, maybe it was only because of the dream itself? I definitely shot a ton of bullets. Way fewer than what I can see from here. "How many times?" I ask for confirmation.

"Seven shots," Chiyo answers quickly. "You didn't hit us or anything important."

"Hey, how do you know those boxes she hit weren't important?!" Marisa demands.

"When was the last time you even looked in them?" Chiyo counters. From the look on Marisa's face, it wasn't very recently.

"A-anyway, not the first time an experiment has caused a bit of a mess. No hard feelings on that one. I just wanna know if it actually worked," Marisa continues on, snapping whatever book she's carrying shut and depositing it on the desk behind herself. "I'm pretty sure I did everything right. I definitely had the connection under control for a while there. Even open and closed it on my own a couple of times. Question is if I transferred it to you properly..."

... Actually, how can I even confirm that for her? The nightmares going away is something I'd need to check by falling back asleep. The other thing would be... Control of my powers.

Okay, just stop suppressing them... Wait, no. That... Isn't working?

Wait, if I'm in control, then it's not me stopping the suppression of something that is always there, it's me willing the connection to-Ah! There it is.

The void of bullets floating around Marisa's room is a lot less chaotic than what I'm used to. I can follow individual shots with my eyes more clearly, and don't even feel a headache coming on from doing so. Getting up to my feet, I glance all around myself, just trying to take this in.

Even though the bullets are there, this is different. It feels more correct. It's like I'm in control.

... That feels really good to think, so I'm going to think it again.

I'm in control.

I turn off my powers, then turn them on again on a whim.


"It's working," I cut Marisa off quickly, still looking around at all the bullets. I want to remember this moment. It's-this is amazing. I-I... What? What are you hugging me for Chiyo? I feel great. Amazing even. Th-this is... A-ah. I'm crying. I'm so relieved tha-that I can't... Hahaha... Wow.

I just let myself cry for a while.


"So it at least seems like it works then... Hm, gonna have to compare notes with Patchy again. She was interested in how this all was gonna turn out too," Marisa seems a little awkward about things even after I've calmed back down. She's more focused on her work, or at least pretending to be.

As for myself, I've sat back down on the floor, with Chiyo next to me. She isn't hugging me anymore, but is at least sitting very close by. I'm still kind of trying to get my head around this. I'm free. It's been so many years of being afraid and worried and anxious and now it's just... Gone. Even breathing feels different.

"Also probably going to want to have a checkup tomorrow too. Make sure natural sleep doesn't mess with the connection some more..." Wait, what? I really don't like the sound of what Marisa's saying right now. "Could probably run a few more tests here now. Err, feel free to leave it alone for now though, if you're not feeling up to it."

Huh, so she does have some tact then. Well, intense feelings of relief aside, let me think a little bit... A checkup would mean another trip out here to the forest of magic, which would take some time. While it'd be good to have if something goes wrong, committing to it might not be necessary if everything goes right instead. Same kind of thing with the extra tests Marisa is suggesting. They'd take up more time, but might help me get a better handle on things... And she does kind of have a point. I'm not sure how up to more experimentation I am.

[ ] Agree to a checkup within the next couple of days, and run some extra tests now. Better safe than sorry.
[ ] Agree to a checkup within the next couple of days, but decline the extra tests for now. I'd like to get going for today.
[ ] Decline a checkup, but agree to run some extra tests now. I can just stop by later if something happens overnight.
[ ] Decline a checkup and the tests. We're kind of on a time crunch at this point.

... Don't ask me about my weekend.
[x] Agree to a checkup within the next couple of days, and run some extra tests now. Better safe than sorry.

We've come too far to half-ass this.
[X] Agree to a checkup within the next couple of days, and run some extra tests now. Better safe than sorry.
[x] Agree to a checkup within the next couple of days, and run some extra tests now. Better safe than sorry.

Marisa has made more progress in one day than the entire Lunarian scientific community has in the past several hundred years. If Marisa says we need more tests, then I say we listen to her.
[x] Agree to a checkup within the next couple of days, and run some extra tests now. Better safe than sorry.

So, about that weekend?
[x] Agree to a checkup within the next couple of days, and run some extra tests now. Better safe than sorry.
[X] Agree to a checkup within the next couple of days, and run some extra tests now. Better safe than sorry.

The pain is how you know it's working!
File 150398464698.png - (570.94KB, 900x1440, I will make progress.png) [iqdb]
[X] Agree to a checkup within the next couple of days, and run some extra tests now. Better safe than sorry.

Even on a time limit, I've come too far into this to back down now. Marisa actually gave me progress, possibly even a real permanent solution. The least I can do is stay here and go with whatever she tells me to in order to make sure that this sticks. If she says tests, I'll do tests. I could put up with years and years of tests just for a pill that only kinda sorta solves the problem, so I should be able to spare an afternoon for this, if it even lasts that long in the first place.

Let me just wipe my face a little bit first. Make sure everything is in order... Look, I got a little bit emotional, okay? I'm fine now. Everything is pretty great, in fact. "Sure, what do you need me to do?" I ask, standing up from-woah. Oh, okay. My legs are a little bit more wobbly than expected. That's fine. Just need a second to recover from that too.

"Mostly the same kind of stuff as earlier, but a little more specific now that I know what I'm looking at," Marisa gives something kind of sort of like an answer as she gathers up something that is probably her old notes. Given her lack of organization, I can't exactly be sure, but I feel secure in the guess at least. It would match up with what she's saying at least.

"So just sit around and let you do your thing?" Not like I have a problem with it at all, but it was kind of boring the first time around.

"Yeeeaahh," Marisa elongates the word thoughtfully, glancing around the room for a moment. "Might wanna change the location up a little bit first though. Just in case."

Just in case of what? If she felt fine with doing this indoors before, what's the difference now? She's looking around the room and-oh. "Err, sorry about the bullets and stuff. I can clean up and pry the bullets out of the walls and stuff if you want," Even if there isn't much fixing the damage that's already done, it was an accident I'm willing to take responsibility for.

"Eh, like I said, I've had worse before," Do I even want to know what all Marisa has been doing that would be worse? Probably not. "I don't really care about cleaning up after what happened, just being careful in case it happens again."

That sounds reasonable enough. Not like I haven't already spent a huge ammount of time outside today. "Alright, let's go then," I stumble just a bit on my first step, but quickly get my bearings. Weird dream world experiences aside, I really am perfectly fine. Hopefully whatever these experiments are will show the same.

"Can this guy even go outside?" Chiyo... Wait, when did she pick Marisa's tsuchinoko back up? Where did that thing even go while I was dreaming? Probably burrowed around somewhere. I guess it doesn't matter that much. Chiyo seems randomly attached to it though. Maybe she likes animals? Not really something that we had a chance to learn about back on the Moon.

Marisa seems as surprised as I am that Chiyo has already managed to gather up the pet again. "... He can," Marisa admits a little reluctantly. "Just try to keep an eye on him. Little guy isn't the best at huntin for food on his own. Too lazy. Wouldn't be good for him to get lost."

Chiyo nods before looking down at the tsuchinoko curled up in her arms. "I'll hold him," She decides, slowly walking over to me.

Well alright then.


Marisa has a small clearing set up behind her house. Most of the grass has been stamped down, and the whole area gets moderately more sunlight than the rest of the surrounding forest. Seems like it's just an area for doing whatever. I can definitely see scorch marks on the trunks of some of the surrounding trees, not to mention the couple of large stones sticking out of the ground with some kind of incomprehensible symbols carved into them. Probably not a stretch to call this Marisa's secondary experiment area... Or something.

"Alright, so first, hand," Marisa prompts me, holding her free hand out for me to grab. Even with the clipboard she's carrying in her other arm, she probably can't write like this, but whatever. I should be used to this by now. I take her hand. "Powers on."

... It's really unusual just how different this feels. It's nice, don't get me wrong, but different. Once I can see the bullets start flying around, I nod to Marisa. "They're on."

Marisa concentrates for a second. "Hm, yeah, that's definitely different. Way more understandable for me, and not just 'cause I know what I'm looking at now. Definitely more controlled," Well, I'm glad she agrees. I'm not sure how exactly she can tell all that, but I'll just have to settle for 'it's magic' at this point. "We're gonna need to try a few things though."

Right, just about what I expected.


The experiments... Marisa runs me through a gamut of tests, and I'm honestly really surprised at how easily it all comes to me now. Even though I turn my powers on and leave them on for most of the hour or so that we spend working on things, there's no headache. My eyes don't hurt, I don't feel sick, nothing. That's without mentioning the more interesting part too. Namely, actually pulling bullets out of other dimensions.

Using my mallet is still the most comfortable method, but once I've actually breached the dimensional divide, which I guess is actually the dream world, even if I didn't know that before, things are much easier than before. It's more of a clean cut, if that makes sense. Before, I would still feel like the bullets wanted to maintain whatever flight path they were following in their original dimension. Now that's not the case. Once I pull a bullet (or anything else) out, it's basically mine. This means I can fire even more shots even faster than before.

Kind of helpful too, because Marisa has me show off quite a bit of the variety of stuff that I can pull out. Bullets of all shapes and sizes, grenades, flares, fireworks, buckshot pellets... I even pull out some weird stuff like a couple of lasers and what I'm pretty sure was a projectile originally fired from a railgun.

I'm... Actually kind of scary.

Obviously I wouldn't really want to use this kind of stuff on anyone, but the fact that I can... Yikes. It's a weird feeling to know how dangerous I am suddenly.

"No wonder the military kept you around," Chiyo quips quietly after I've successfully managed to launch a cannonball off into the distance. I hear it crashing into some trees or something, but am kind of distracted by what Chiyo actually said.

What does she mean by that? "It's not like I was a bad soldier either," I was... Kinda sorta average. A good shot at least, if nothing else.

Chiyo just shrugs in response as she looks off in the general direction that the cannonball went. "Is that gonna be okay by the way?" I'm pretty sure she doesn't actually care from her tone of voice, but it's an easy way for her to avoid the subject.

"What? Yeah it's fine," Marisa answers dismissively, looking around curiously to check if she can see any of the damage from here. "I've done worse. And there's weirder stuff out in the forest anyway. No big deal."

Kind of strikes me as pretty irresponsible of her, but... Well, it's her backyard. She's the one that will have to deal with any mess. Not that I expect her to, given the state of her home.

"Anyway, I was thinkin', what about danmaku?" Marisa forces things to continue without a care in the world. Well... I'm kind of curious about how long I can keep this going too, so I guess it's fine.


Danmaku, as it turns out, is actually completely doable now. Well, okay, maybe it's not up to the same level that a spell card would be, but once I actually find danmaku to shoot, firing it is just as easy as anything else. End result means that actually using it in a duel would be kind of a grab bag of whatever I can, but... It's actually serviceable. Something that I could conceivably use in a duel. Another surprise.

... Wow, and the lunar capital couldn't have made this happen in the years and years that they had to try and figure out what was wrong with me? Instead it took one random Earth magician an afternoon and a quick trip to talk with her sources. Really weird. I'm guessing maybe there's more to it? I'd like to think that, because otherwise I feel like I just lost a lot of faith in how advanced my home world is supposed to be.

"We'll have to duel sometime!" Marisa seems excited once it's clear that I'm firing nonlethal ordinance. "I haven't fought anybody from the Moon for a good long time."

"Why not right now?" Chiyo asks, though I don't really appreciate her volunteering me for things like that.

"Ehhh, not right now," Okay good. Marisa isn't immediately into it either. "I might not look it, but I'm a little tired after working all day on this project. Maybe next time?"

"Err... Maybe," I'm not really that quick to commit to something like that. Although I know that spell card duels and danmaku are useful skills to learn... I've actually probably not been practicing them enough to be dangerous. This sudden and unexpected power up will probably help, but... Well, I'll leave it as a maybe for now. That does remind me of something else though. "Oh yeah, speaking of next time. You wanted me to come by for a check up later?"

"Oh, yeah. Like... Tomorrow? Or maybe the next day," Marisa sounds like she's coming to the decision as she's speaking. "Eh, tomorrow should be good enough. Just gotta see what happens when you go back to dream land naturally. Dunno if the connection is going to act up again or not."

I'm really hoping it doesn't, but again, better safe than sorry. "Okay, any specific time?"

"Nah, just stop by. I don't have any plans for tomorrow anyway. I'll just chill," Ugh, if only we could all take it easy like that. Maybe after this whole thing is over... Err, no, probably not then either. Depends on if I'm going back to the Moon for good or not.

... Right, that's still something I need to work out a decision on. The fact that I might not be a public safety hazard actually makes it a little bit more complicated too...


By the time Marisa is finally satisfied that she's examined me and my powers thoroughly, I'm starting to feel kind of drained. It's the magical kind of drained, which is kind of hard to deal with. Best thing for it is eating a good meal and resting, so I guess it's not too different from being sick or whatever. Now that I think of it though, Chiyo and I did kind of skip lunch. We're well into the afternoon and haven't eaten since breakfast.

"Alright, well, I guess that's it then," Marisa interrupts my worries as she finishes writing whatever notes she's been working on. "Pleasure doin' business with you. Really mentally stimulating."

"Uh sure." Whatever she means by that... Actually, I'm being rude. Even if I think Marisa is weird, she definitely just changed my life for the better. Deactivating my powers, I bow my head gratefully in Marisa's direction. "Thank you very very much. This... This is actually a really big deal for me."

"Ahh, it wasn't really much..." Wait, is she embarrassed? Heh. Not used to people showing gratitude toward her then? "Just uh, y'know, tell your friends and all that. I gotta make a living."

I'm not sure how well she can make a living if she keeps accepting lunarian military equipment as payment. Probably doesn't do much to keep food on the table. Not my business though. It worked out for the best. "Alright, will do."

Marisa smiles, trying to hide the remnants of her earlier embarrassment. "Great, thanks... Then, I guess I'll see you guys tomorrow? If you don't have anything else anyway. I need to go compare notes with a couple people... And make sure Alice isn't still mad."

Anything else? Well, let me think about it... We're well into afternoon now. Haven't eaten lunch yet, and it might take some time to find a place to do so. Still a little early to try and find Reisen. She's probably not going to be off work for a few hours.

We've got some time, although really, if her powers are cleared up, maybe Chiyo would rather head back to the plant. Satori mentioned that Chi might have some issues with Reisen. Putting the two of them together may or may not be the right call here. Hm...

[ ] Marisa fought Alice on my behalf, right? I feel like I should go along and apologize for that.
[ ] Marisa fought Elly on my behalf, right? Maybe I could try finding her place and apologize for that.
[ ] If we head back to the plant, Chiyo and I could grab lunch. She probably won't want to head back out afterward though.
[ ] I guess we could kill time in the village. Chiyo still has money after Okuu paid for our breakfast.
[ ] Something else (Write-in)

Pretty open to write-ins here. The timing just worked out to be a little awkward, but no reason to not be productive in some way.

It's more like decades and less like centuries, but your point stands.

[X] Marisa fought Elly on my behalf, right? Maybe I could try finding her place and apologize for that.

Unlike Alice, we're kind of more acquainted with Elly, and she's just too pitiful in places not to apologize to. Also potential more Yuuka is a huge plus.
[x] Marisa fought Elly on my behalf, right? Maybe I could try finding her place and apologize for that.

Might want to let Alice cool down first, by the sounds of it.
[X] Marisa fought Elly on my behalf, right? Maybe I could try finding her place and apologize for that.

I feel bad for her.
[x] I guess we could kill time in the village. Chiyo still has money after Okuu paid for our breakfast.

Roll on that random encounter table.
[x] If we head back to the plant, Chiyo and I could grab lunch. She probably won't want to head back out afterward though.

We've done a lot today, all told. Should probably take a break for a bit.
[x] Marisa fought Elly on my behalf, right? Maybe I could try finding her place and apologize for that.

More Elly is rarely a bad thing.
Yeah okay, I really hate to do this but writing hasn't really been going that well for a while now (frequent delays on updates that at least in my opinion aren't as good as stuff from before). I also have a lot fewer scenes planned now that we're so far into the story, and my (very busy) schedule isn't giving me a good chance to sit down and plan things or review all the things that I should have done a better job of keeping track of. I'm going to try taking a short break for a bit. I'll be back in like a week. (the 7th)

Don't panic.
File 150484563417.png - (240.22KB, 480x640, Had better days.png) [iqdb]
[X] Marisa fought Elly on my behalf, right? Maybe I could try finding her place and apologize for that.

"And you are only going to talk to Alice, right?" Depending on what Marisa's planning, it might be better for me to act around that. I'm grateful for all that she's done, but at the same time, the flow of the conversation kind of dictates that we should go our separate ways now. At least, I'm pretty sure anyway. Social cues aren't that difficult, right? Right.

"Yeah... Figure I'm probably gonna have to apologize eventually. Really dunno why she'd be all bent out of shape though. It was just one fight," Marisa sighs as she starts walking back in the direction of her house. Err, she got into a duel and won against this Alice person. Pretty sure any remaining anger is justified. "Just one fight for just one pill. Hell, she wasn't even using the things. Maybe she'll feel better about it when she hears that the experiment worked... Hopefully."

Right, maybe I'm not the one that needs to be worried about social cues here. Pretty sure that this isn't just one of those normal Gensokyo things that I haven't picked up on yet.

Well that's not really my main concern anyway. While I'm not exactly happy that Marisa bothered whoever that Alice person is, it sounds like they know each other fairly well. I'll leave it up to her to mend that bridge. Or not. I don't think it will affect me either way. I'm more concerned over what happened to the person that I know personally.

Elly was only doing her job, or rather her former job. Protecting that Mugenkan place from Marisa (or other people) coming in, busting up the place, and stealing things. Obviously she didn't succeed, and a part of me is glad she didn't, but at the same time I do feel kind of bad. It was my fault that this happened in the first place. Considering I have the time, and it doesn't seem like Marisa's going to do it, why not go and apologize?

Although... I only sort of kind of have an idea of where I'm actually going.

What exactly did Elly say again? Err, something like the mountains behind the Hakurei shrine, I think? Okay, that's another place that I haven't actually been. Should I ask Marisa? No, actually, I think I can figure it out on my own. Back when Daiyousei was leading me and Ringo to get our equipment back from the fairies, she specifically moved to avoid the Hakurei shrine. If I just go in that general direction, I should be able to figure it out.

And if not... Well, it's not like Elly is really waiting on me to show up. Worst comes to worst, I'll just fly back to the plant or wherever while Chiyo snarks at me for wasting time. Worse things have happened. I can do this.

"Well, good luck with that," I tell Marisa, with maybe a bit too little empathy to seem all that sincere. "I'll see you tomorrow. And... Thanks again. This is great," It's hard to stress this point too much. I feel so... This really is amazing to be free from my powers like this. Even if something happens overnight and I relapse or whatever the correct word is here, just having a day like this where I'm in control of everything is just amazing.

Marisa gives off a wide smile as she turns to head back to her house. "Yeah yeah, get outta here and go enjoy it."


Chiyo is just a little bit skeptical when we're finally alone enough for me to explain my plan to her. "Elly, huh?" It's not all that easy to read Chiyo's expressions, but I have enough experience in it to tell that she's not enthused by the idea. Honestly it's kind of justified. Now that her powers are done messing with her, she doesn't technically need to tag along with me. "We already solved the getting into the dream world thing though."

"Err, yeah, but that's not what I want to stop by for," And thinking of Elly just in terms of what benefits she can give to us feels a little cold, don't you think Chi? "I know that Marisa isn't going to apologize, so somebody ought to."

Chiyo exhales from her nose sharply, but eventually just shrugs it off. Okay, good. Looks like she's just going to go along with it. If she had said she wanted to go back to the plant, I wouldn't have had a very good argument for it, but now I don't have to think of one. She isn't even balking at the fact that I don't exactly know where we're going. Of course, I did tell her that, but she seemed oddly okay with it.

Basically, things seem to be working out. Feels good to have the trust of another member of the unit.

And now without my powers... I almost feel like I actually deserve it.

When we lift off to start flying, I decide to go a bit higher than normal. This isn't like, a psychological thing, at least, not much. I'm more thinking that it's a good idea to get as good of a view as possible. All I need to see is a shrine, head north from there toward the more mountainous area, then look for a dried up lake bed. Actually, I might even be able to skip the shrine bit. From this high up, it's not that hard to guess at the mountainish area that I'm supposed to be looking for. Not as big as the mountains that the plant is in, but they're enough.

So I drift in that general direction. Let's see, from my understanding of how directions work, I'm pretty sure I'm going more east-ish. The Forest of Magic continues more northward. Sure, the way that I'm headed toward is still pretty wooded and unsettled, but it's not to the same level as Marisa's- err, neck of the woods. I think that's the right phrase here. Certainly sounds like it.

It's not the most exciting flight, to be honest. I kind of have to keep my eye out for any landmarks, just in case I happen to see a certain shrine. Makes it kind of hard to have a conversation. Even more so than the normal problems that in-flight talking has. But then, this is Chiyo I'm flying with. Not like she's going to be that talkative to begin with, so we just head through the air in silence.

And honestly, I'm alright with that. A part of me is still worried that if Chi has time and reason to think about it, she'll realize that she really doesn't have much reason to be here with me. Objectively, this is a little bit silly. Of course she knows. Chiyo isn't dumb. She has self awareness, and honestly is a little bit lazy at times. She's going to realize when she's doing work that she doesn't strictly have to. She must realize that now, and she's going along with me anyway.

That... Kind of makes me feel a little guilty. Part of the reason I'm making her come along is to keep her busy until it's time to meet back up with Reisen. Satori kept quiet enough about it that Chiyo doesn't realize I know, but apparently Chi has some kind of issue with Reisen. I don't know if I'm going to force them to talk it out or not, but I'm trying to keep the option open. Better to do it now in the open than having to do it later when we're heading into the dream world to save the Moon and everything.

Or... At least, I think so? I'm not like, a counselor or anything. Maybe I should just leave it alone.

... Oh hey wait, isn't that the shrine down there?

Yeah... It's similar enough to the Moriya shrine that I feel comfortable saying that that's the famed Hakurei shrine. Huh... I don't think that the grounds there are being kept quite as thoroughly as Sanae was keeping the Moriya's. Lots of leaves and stuff. Not any of my business though. I really really don't plan on stopping by for a visit if I can at all help it.

So looking around from here, we're still a little far from the mountain-y area. I do feel a little better about knowing where I'm going though. I can just orient myself to go toward the back of the shrine and continue forward and hopefully I'll find what I'm looking for.


... Huh, I think that might be it?

So... I don't know a whole lot about how lakes work, but this seems a little bit high up in the mountain to have formed naturally. The soil is also weirdly dark. Seems unnatural, at least compared to the ground around it. I'm mostly guessing at things here really, it's just that this big hole in the ground looks too out of place for me to think that I haven't found exactly what I'm looking for.

Good thing too. The idea that I might actually end up lost was just starting to creep in. Well, okay, I was only really worried about not being able to find my destination. I still know how to get back to the plant, if need be.

"That it?" Chiyo asks, a bit unnecessarily. I've already started dropping altitude, so it's probably implied.

"Probably," I still don't answer with complete conviction. I could still be wron-Oh. Alright, I'm correct.

As I'm dropping down, I can see a small figure sitting along the bank on the side further away from where I am. Long red dress, wide brimmed lightly pink hat, yeah... Definitely Elly. I found the place.

Wow. Another accomplishment. I'm on a roll today.

Knowing where the person I was looking for is, I shift course a little bit so I'll drop down closer to Elly. She's definitely sitting down along what would be the shore of the lake if there were any water (or blood I guess, ick) within the giant hole. Her scythe is propped up on her shoulder, the blade resting on the ground. Her posture is... Not exactly the best. As I get a little closer I see...

Eesh... Right, she did lose a danmaku duel fairly recently, didn't she? Her clothes aren't really in the best shape, and she looks pretty dejected. Honestly, I don't think she's even looked up enough to notice me and Chiyo yet.

Okay... Well, I should probably be positive here. I know that it sucks to lose. It hurts and you feel dumb over not being able to properly do your job and all that. What Elly probably needs right now is a supportive and positive conversation to get her over her troubles.

I don't know exactly how I'm going to supply that, but... Well, it's probably what she needs regardless.

Alright, so... How to start this off? I've actually reached the ground by now, and I'm not even that far away from Elly. Of course, I'm out of sight, just by virtue of having landed off to her side. I've got to think of what I want to say and how I want to approach this.

"Uh... You okay?"

... Yeah, that could have gone better.

Elly perks up suddenly, spinning suddenly at what was probably a rather unexpected voice. Her curly blonde hair actually moves quickly enough that it lightly baps her in the face. Her... Slightly dirty face. Yeah, it doesn't look like things went well for her today. Really wish I could be more supportive, but... Well, I am how I am I guess.

"Ah, S-Seiran!" Elly scrambles to stand up, accidentally letting her scythe fall away from her body as she does so. It clatters sharply down the slight incline of the lake as Elly groans and weakly reaches a hand out as if to try and stop it.

"Tough day?" Chiyo asks, as if it's really a question. She still looks generally uninterested, but obviously has nothing better to do than continue following along with me.

"It... Yes. A bit of a tough day," Elly agrees with a sigh. She daintily makes her way further into the empty lake, dropping down and hefting her scythe back onto her shoulder. "Your timing is somewhat unfortunate, though that doesn't mean you're unwelcome."

"What a coincidence," Chiyo mutters loudly enough for Elly to hear. Okay, come on... There's no need for sarcasm. Also no need for making this conversation even harder for me.

"Err, well, you did say we could stop by and everything..." Although she did kind of preface that by saying that it was if I had some information to help with her and Kurumi's situation. That would probably be a nice way to cheer her up... If I could actually think of anything to suggest.

Though now that I think about it... How exactly should I handle this conversation. I want to apologize, sure, but I feel like there should be more to it than that.

[ ] We can just talk next to the lake here. The weather isn't terrible, and nobody is around to bother us.
[ ] There's supposed to be some mansion here. Mugenkan, right? Maybe we can go in there to talk.
[ ] Maybe we could head over to the village to talk? Elly seems like she could use a break away from here for a little while.

[ ] Apologize on Marisa's behalf and explain the situation. (Vaguely, leaving out incriminating information about the Moon)
[ ] Apologize on Marisa's behalf and explain the situation. (Fully)

[ ] I had an idea for a job you could work at, Elly (Write-in required)

Pick one from both sections, then a write in for the last bit if you have one.

Still kind of easing back into things, but I feel a bit better now. I'm hoping to start wrapping up some of the miscellaneous plot threads here and there as we move into the last couple of days on Earth, so here's a chance to do that with Elly. Of course, it's by no means required. Just thought I would give people the chance if there were any ideas out there. (There are a couple that I have in mind, but they've only been very vaguely mentioned at specific points)
[x] Maybe we could head over to the village to talk? Elly seems like she could use a break away from here for a little while.
[x] Apologize on Marisa's behalf and explain the situation. (Vaguely, leaving out incriminating information about the Moon)

Elly doesn't need our worries, but damn does she need some downtime.

Might bandwagon on a good write-in if I see one, but for now I got nothing.
I'll follow this guy's lead. I wanted to be honest, but I doubt she really cares. She just needs to know why she was attacked and it was to help us so apologies are in order

[X] That.

Also, I wish we could hell her with her issue. Besides literally buying human blood from willful donators, I doubt there much they can do without resorting to animal blood...
[x] Maybe we could head over to the village to talk? Elly seems like she could use a break away from here for a little while.
[x] Apologize on Marisa's behalf and explain the situation. (Vaguely, leaving out incriminating information about the Moon)

[x] I had an idea for a job you could work at, Elly (Write-in required)
-[x] The Moriya Shrine has an underground nuclear plant that has guards protecting it. Maybe you could apply for a guard job there.

I don't think the plant is really looking for a new guard right now, but with her experience guarding Yuuka's mansion Elly might be able to convince them to let her work a few shifts. The job is also located near the Oni City, where they get in drunken bar fights every night and probably spill a whole lot of blood in the process. She might be able to get some extra blood that way if the job at the plant doesn't get her enough money to buy what she needs.
[x] Maybe we could head over to the village to talk? Elly seems like she could use a break away from here for a little while.
[x] Apologize on Marisa's behalf and explain the situation. (Vaguely, leaving out incriminating information about the Moon)

[x] I had an idea for a job you could work at, Elly (Write-in required)
-[x] The Moriya Shrine has an underground nuclear plant that has guards protecting it. Maybe you could apply for a guard job there.

It's by no means a perfect solution, but at least it might be a start, and I do feel kind of bad for Elly right now.
[x] Maybe we could head over to the village to talk? Elly seems like she could use a break away from here for a little while.
[x] Apologize on Marisa's behalf and explain the situation. (Vaguely, leaving out incriminating information about the Moon)

[x] I had an idea for a job you could work at, Elly (Write-in required)
-[x] The Moriya Shrine has an underground nuclear plant that has guards protecting it. Maybe you could apply for a guard job there.
>>28211 here, throwing my weight behind

[x] I had an idea for a job you could work at, Elly (Write-in required).
-[x] The Moriya Shrine has an underground nuclear plant that has guards protecting it. Maybe you could apply for a guard job there.
[X] Maybe we could head over to the village to talk? Elly seems like she could use a break away from here for a little while.
[X] Apologize on Marisa's behalf and explain the situation. (Fully)
[X] I had an idea for a job you could work at, Elly (Write-in required).
-[X] The Moriya Shrine has an underground nuclear plant that has guards protecting it. Maybe you could apply for a guard job there.
[x] Maybe we could head over to the village to talk? Elly seems like she could use a break away from here for a little while.
[x] Apologize on Marisa's behalf and explain the situation. (Vaguely, leaving out incriminating information about the Moon)

[x] I had an idea for a job you could work at, Elly (Write-in required)
-[x] The Moriya Shrine has an underground nuclear plant that has guards protecting it. Maybe you could apply for a guard job there.
File 150519421499.png - (282.13KB, 800x540, They've become connoisseurs.png) [iqdb]
[X] Maybe we could head over to the village to talk? Elly seems like she could use a break away from here for a little while.
[X] Apologize on Marisa's behalf and explain the situation. (Fully)
[X] I had an idea for a job you could work at, Elly (Write-in required).
-[X] The Moriya Shrine has an underground nuclear plant that has guards protecting it. Maybe you could apply for a guard job there.

Honestly, I get it. Our situations aren't exactly the same, sure, but I get it. Guarding things kind of stinks. It's a whole lot of nothing happening, and then when something does happen you're either just doing your job by keeping someone out, or horribly failing at it by letting them get by. There isn't really much glory to it, but some people just have to do it. That's the life of grunts like us.

Luckily, I don't have to do it anymore, and technically neither does Elly. I mean, I guess she was more guarding the place because she still lives here than anything else. She's already said she's not on anyone's payroll anymore. I guess that makes it a bit different from me doing military work. Unlike my situation, Elly actually does care about what happens to this place beyond just following orders. That probably just makes it tougher on her.

"Uh, before we start talking, I guess I'll ask something first," I continue on as a sudden idea strikes me. Might be better to improve Elly's mood before I get too deep in my explanations. Just to get a bit of a better reaction hopefully. "Are you busy right now?"

"Busy?" Elly repeats the word, seeming to be rather surprised at the question. She folds one arm over her front, using the other to touch a finger thoughtfully to her face. "Ah, well, there are still a couple of hours to go until Kurumi will wake up," she points out.

"Is that a yes?" While true, it doesn't really answer my question.

"It is not a yes or a no," Elly doesn't answer some more. Not helpful, but okay. "But there is no real requirement for me to be here at this exact moment. Why, did you have something in mind?"

Okay, that so8unds like a no then. A roundabout one, but still a no. "Yeah actually, thought you might appreciate a break and some cheering up, or something. Do you want to go the village?"

"The village?" Elly is surprised once again, but tries to keep her thoughtful posture. I think she might just be playing it cool, but it's hard to tell with how little I actually know her. She considers the question for a moment more while I stay silent, then frowns slightly. "Are you certain that you'll be okay there?"

Why wouldn't I be-? Oh right, rabbit youkai features. But then, Ringo has randomly visited the village multiple times. The only reason that angry mob formed to chase her out was because of her actions, not her looks. Sure, her appearance probably didn't help, but as long as I'm careful... Okay, that's not that reassuring, but I still like the plan better than the alternatives I can think of. I've got Earth money to pay, and I think it looks better than doing nothing or trying to mooch food off of Elly, who I know is struggling to make ends meet. "Yeah, I'll be fine."

"Oohh..." Elly lets out a small, worried huff, glancing down into the lake. From this angle, I can't even see any kind of entrance into her mansion place or whatever. Where am I supposed to be looking? I guess it doesn't matter that much, I'm just curious. "I suppose so..."

"Great! I'm buying. Err, within reason of course," Ah, that got a bit more a smile out of Elly. "And hey, try to cheer up and relax for a bit. Whatever may or may not have happened today, it's over and done with." That wasn't giving away too much, right? I'm still thinking of the best way to talk about this.

"Breaking character a bit there Seiran?" Chiyo comments slyly.

Do I even need to respond to that? Okay, maybe she has a point. It's hard for me to not feel a bit enthusiastic though. I'm free! Sure, I'm dreading having to let Elly know that her being attacked was my fault. Still trying to figure out how I want to bring that conversation around, but... Still free.

"From previous experience, it's usually best for me to keep this put away before interacting with humans... At least, interacting in an unofficial capacity," Elly comments, holding her scythe out in front of her. Official capacity? Is she talking about her old job? What would she need a scythe for-

zzwhhip! The scythe in front of Elly glows faintly for a moment, then the brightness suddenly intensifies. The entire weapon appears to go pure white before the light suddenly winks away, leaving nothing in the space that it once occupied. Huh. Maybe I should learn to do something like that when I have a chance. I'm still stuck actually carrying my mallet around. Not that I mind it all that much, but I'm well aware that I'll probably get some looks from people.

"There we are," Elly says lightly, reaching down to her dress to brush the remnants from having sat on the ground for a while. "Shall we go?"

"Sure," I nod before a sudden thought stops me. "Err, but maybe you should lead the way?" At least the slight embarrassment still comes naturally.


During the flight over, it actually does seem like Elly has cheered up a little bit. She's definitely better of than she had been when I first showed up, so I think I'm doing a good job. In fact, maybe now would be an okay time to come clean a bit? Not about everything, but just enough to make a proper apology. "So uhm, about today..." I try to speak quietly, but we're flying, which means I have to speak up a bit more than I would like.

"Yes?" Elly responds, holding on to her hat the whole time so that it doesn't fly off her head. "Like your friend suggested, it has simply been a bit difficult for me today. No reason to worry."

Urgh, feeling guilty again... "Right, yeah, about that... Err, it's kind of my fault."

"..." Elly's face is more confused than upset. That isn't necessarily better. She might still move into anger once I've actually clarified what happened. "Explain?"

"Well basically..." Okay, I probably don't need to go super deep into things. The whole lunar capital thing isn't really her business, and I doubt that she has any reason to care about moon affairs. I can keep this a bit more vague and not feel bad about it. "I have- had this uh... Curse. This curse was on me. After asking around a bit, I was eventually pointed toward Marisa as one of the people who could solve the problem." Realization starts to dawn on Elly's face now. Of course, most people that aren't me already knew about Marisa's problem solving techniques... Not that they don't work. "I didn't really know what that entailed until she was already doing things that I wouldn't have approved of otherwise, not that I could really stop her once she got going."

Elly frowns and thinks that over for a moment. "I see... Why me though? Or rather, why Mugenkan?"

"I don't really know the exact specifics of how it works. I'm not really trained in magic," All truths. Just not the full story. I might be getting a little too used to doing stuff like this, though I guess we have to make compromises sometimes. "From what Marisa said though, the curse thing had something to do with the dream world. She needed more information on that, sooo..."

"And Mugenkan's connection to the dream world was one that she knew about," Elly finishes for me. I think she's nodding, though it might just be the wind whipping around us as we continue flying toward the village. We're actually not that far off. I can see the walls and a large number of rooftops from up here. "Unfortunately she hasn't kept up enough to know that connection no longer exists, though miss Yuuka has left a bit of literature on the subject behind. I suppose that's why Marisa still seemed satisfied once she left."

"R-right..." I still feel a little bit awkward. Elly doesn't seem all that mad, which helps a little bit, but it doesn't completely get rid of my guilt. "Err, if it helps, Marisa did manage to solve my problem, and I'm feeling a lot better now. I know that you'd rather she hadn't, but um... I am sorry about it."

Elly sighs lightly, though I more see it than hear it. "I would rather have an apology from Marisa than you, but I appreciate it Seiran."

There's a bit of a pause after that. I'm not really sure what to say next. Kiiind of awkward.

"To be quite honest," Elly finally breaks the (relative) silence by continuing to speak as we gradually drop altitude to approach the village. "I'm a bit surprised that Marisa remembers that far back in the first place," She points out. "Most other people seem content to leave us alone. A part of me wonders if most of Gensokyo has forgotten Kurumi and I. At the very least, I don't think that miss Yuuka intends to come back for all of her books and other possessions still in Mugenkan."

... Yikes. Yeah, that's kind of sad honestly. It seems like Elly could really use some more options to talk to people. Something like a j-job... Oh yeah.

So that's another thing that I should probably try to think up a solution to before today is over. Of course, Elly isn't really expecting me to fix her unemployment problem, but if I want to do so anyway, this might actually end up being my last chance to do so. Seems like a good way to make things up to her actually, that is, if this lunch that we're going to doesn't already do that.

While I do remember what Tewi said last time about it being rude to fly over the walls and sneak into the village rather than letting guards know that there are youkai walking around... Well I still have the same problem as before. Carrying around something that is kind of sort of like a weapon. Don't want people guards confiscating it or asking too many questions. The thought of either of those things is already making me anxious. Luckily, Elly doesn't really balk when we fly over the wall and drop directly into the village. Of course, she's clearly not as socially active as Tewi. Maybe she's just not aware of the rules.

Well, in any case, we're in the village now. As long as I don't do much to stand out and don't cause any problems, it should be fine. Probably. Hopefully.

"So um, I don't really know my way around. I've only been here once," I admit, feeling a little bit awkward about making the suggestion when I barely know how to follow through on it. "So unless you're okay with wandering around randomly..."

"I'm not opposed to it exactly," Elly assures me curtly, straightening out her dress and hair after the flight over. Honestly, even if she didn't bother, she'd still look nice enough to make the village look kind of... Err, let's go with quaint. Elly is a little bit out of place, though obviously I'm not much better off, just for different reasons. "However it may not be prudent. I can take the lead if you have any preference on where you want to go."

Preference? Err... Kinda hard to make a decision when I don't even know what's around here. What all do humans eat again? Apparently way more than lunarians, sure, but specifically... "Um, any preference Chi?" I deflect the question back to the other person with us. Chiyo has been pretty quiet the whole time, even though that's nothing new.

"Huh?" Chiyo snaps away from looking around curiously. Oh yeah, she hasn't actually been here before at all. Last time we were here she went back to camp. "Nah I'm good with whatever. Don't worry about me," and with that, Chiyo goes back to looking around intently. She looks partly curious and maybe just a tiny bit worried.

I'm about to also tell Elly that I have no preferences when I remember something. "Um... What about dango?" I hear Chiyo make a tiny snort of amusement at that. What? I was just thinking that I'd like to give human dango another shot before I unanimously decree mine to be better... Okay, and maybe I was thinking about getting Ringo a tiny gift. Just to thank her for when she brought some home for us, of course. "Not exactly a meal, but..."

"Dango? Certainly." "I don't have much experience eating them, but know of at least one place that sells them. This way then."

Just like last time that we were at the village, the locals aren't exactly welcoming us with open arms. Chiyo and I are obviously enough non-humans that Elly's out of place outfit makes it obvious that she is too. So yeah, give us space, whisper some things that I try my best not to hear, and just in general don't make me as comfortable as I possibly could be if they were a little bit more accepting. I wouldn't say that that's enough for me to call this a bad idea though. That distinction will have to wait until I get some food in me.

... Still better than the reverse though. Lunarians definitely wouldn't let Earth youkai wander around in their cities at all. There are levels of tolerance here is all I'm saying. Earth is clearly on a better one.

Anyway, we head through what I assume is the shopping district without any real incident. The streets aren't all that full, mostly due to the time of day. While Elly only seems to have a vague idea of where exactly we're going, it's not hard to find our way around anyway.

Our destination turns out to be a (rather unenthusiastic if I do say so myself) street vendor. The man doesn't exactly specialize in dango, but makes and sells it anyway, so we order enough for the three of us and then some. Seems cheap in comparison to how much allowance I have, although I don't really have much of a grasp on the value of Earth money yet. I just have to trust that Elly would tell me if I were being ripped off... Unless she's feeling particularly vindictive, though I don't think she's the type.

Speaking of Elly... I actually do think that getting out like this is helping her. She appears to be quite a bit more comfortable surrounded by people than I am. Although she obviously can't make conversation with the random passersby, she seems more than happy to be the one giving our orders and chatting with the street vendor. Sure, it's just comments about the weather and other vapid stuff, but Elly still seems to delight in it. I don't know if she's an extrovert or just really starved for conversation, but... Either way, my mind goes back to Elly's real problem.

... Jobs, jobs, jobs... I try to search through my memory as we wander about to find a nice, relatively secluded spot to sit down and eat. I'm not coming up with all that much though. It's not like I was asking people directly, so why would they have brought it up in the first place even if they had work that someone like Elly or even Kurumi could do? I just... I had a lot of things going on, with the whole Moriya shrine thing and... Wait.

"Ah, this will do," Elly declares, sitting down to rest at a wide bench shoved in an alleyway between two buildings. It's not exactly luxurious, and there's no table, but I'm too busy thinking about other things to care. Not that I would normally care anyway. "You had... These two, right Seiran?"

"Uh, yeah," I answer absentmindedly, not even really paying attention to if Elly is handing me the correct skewers. Chiyo doesn't protest, so I'm assuming that I didn't get hers at least.

Moriya shrine... Sure, the shrine itself is taken care of by Sanae, but what about the plant that they have? That's a pretty big operation, with lots of people working on it. Sure, Elly might not be able to contribute to the sciency stuff going on in the plant proper, but I know that there's security there. Elly actually has some relevant experience. She could start earning money for Kurumi...

Wait, even more than that. They'd be right next to an underground city. An underground city full of oni. Oni that get in fights all the time. I kind of doubt that they miss a bit of blood here and there... At least not as much as a human would.

There are some details and some things to work out, but... This actually seems like it could work! Elly probably has no idea that the plant even exists, so if I bring it to her attention... "Hey Elly..."

My dango goes uneaten for quite a while.


It takes some time to explain the whole power plant situation, and just a little more to make Elly actually believe it. Once I mention that it could possibly lead into a job though, that gets her attention pretty well. She listens closely, leaving Chiyo as the only one of us that's actually eating.

"Oni..." Elly trails off thoughtfully once I get to that part of the idea. "I don't think Kurumi has ever tried it before. We are originally from quite far away after all. Oni aren't exactly native to Europe... It can't be worse than animals however."

"Err, well, I don't know if they'll just let her feed on them or whatever," That still sounds really weird and gross to talk about, even if it is kind of the whole point. "I'm just saying that it could be a possibility."

Elly looks somewhat conflicted. "Are you certain that it is though?" She asks. "Just having gatekeeper experience doesn't mean that I have the connections to secure a job like that..."

Well, I can't really help her if she has to sit through and interview or whatever, but I think it's not quite as hopeless as she's thinking. "Connections I can do actually. Me, Chiyo, and the rest of us rabbits are actually working with the Moriya shrine temporarily right now. I can put in a good word for you," How much they're actually going to listen to me is up in the air, but it's better than nothing.

Elly's face shows surprise, thoughtfulness, then excitement in that order as she thinks through what I'm offering. "That..." She breaks out in a cheerful smile. "That sounds fantastic Seiran! While living underground and so far from miss Yuuka would be a bit regrettable, it's still a job. Something that I could actually do! Who should I speak to about it and when? I'm ready to give this a try!"

Ah, yeah, that is a question. I just brought up the idea on a whim. There's a chance that it won't work. I'd really really like it to though... Hm, I could talk to anyone at the shrine to float the idea, maybe do some convincing with what little pull I have available.

Although come to think of it, there's still some more time until we'll need to be back here to meet up with Reisen. I could take Elly up to the shrine right now, though that would mean less time to try and convince anyone who seems skeptical about the idea... Hm.

[ ] Talk to Sanae about it.
[ ] Talk to Kanako about it.
[ ] Talk to Suwako about it.

[ ] I'll put in a good word for you next time I head back to the shrine, so follow up on it within the next day or so.
[ ] Actually, let's head up there right now.
[X] Talk to Suwako about it.
[X] I'll put in a good word for you next time I head back to the shrine, so follow up on it within the next day or so.
[x] Talk to Suwako about it.
[x] Actually, let's head up there right now.

Goddamn, how lonely must the poor girl be if just walking into the village cheers her up that much?
[X] Talk to Suwako about it.
[X] I'll put in a good word for you next time I head back to the shrine, so follow up on it within the next day or so.

Hopefully things will start looking up for her.
[X] Talk to Kanako about it.
[X] I'll put in a good word for you next time I head back to the shrine, so follow up on it within the next day or so.

I think going to Kanako might actually be a safer bet, particularly if we tell her it's a member of the Grassroots Youkai Network who's looking for work. Kanako gives her a job, and in return Elly could potentially serve as a long-term contact between the Moriya Shrine and the Network once we either return to the Moon or otherwise go around doing our own thing. It might come across as a little manipulative, but everybody wins!
Enough that cheering her up is a blessing upon my heart!
[X] Talk to Suwako about it.
[X] I'll put in a good word for you next time I head back to the shrine, so follow up on it within the next day or so.
I didn't finish it in time again...
File 150556130549.png - (623.74KB, 998x1250, seiran_nrfb.png) [iqdb]
don't sweat it. take your time.
File 150560396579.jpg - (59.46KB, 1023x723, They walk among us.jpg) [iqdb]
[X] Talk to Suwako about it.
[X] I'll put in a good word for you next time I head back to the shrine, so follow up on it within the next day or so.

No... No. I've made enough trips back and forth Gensokyo for today, and it's not even over yet. Flying all the way back to the mountain once again? No thank you. At least not if I don't have to. Heck, waiting is probably better. It'll give Elly more time to prepare for an interview or whatever is going to happen.

That's assuming anything even does happen though. If I go with the current plan, I need to make sure that I manage to talk to somebody who will listen about Elly's problem. Otherwise I'm just going to be wasting everyone's time. Elly's, the Moriya's, and even my own. So... Who is my best bet here?

Sanae would probably be nice enough to try to help, but she might not have the authority to make something happen. If anything, talking to her first would just mean passing the message through another link in the chain. Probably better to be more direct. Either Kanako or Suwako, and honestly, that isn't a hard choice to make. Suwako has already shown herself to be very much open to helping me out. Okay, honestly, so has Kanako, but it's... Kind of a matter of how easy they are to talk to...

I could see any of them working, but Suwako... Even if she doesn't have the authority to hire someone on the spot, it'd still be better for her to make the argument than me, right? Where my time knowing Kanako can be measured in days, hers is in centuries. She's boudn to know a ton of different ways to convince the one in charge of the business matters. Really the only thing that I should have to focus on is confincing Suwako, and I think that's entirely doable.

"Alright, then I'll float the idea when I head back to the shrine later," I assure Elly, who looks very pleased at the idea. "I'll put in as good a word for you as I can, so you should head up the mountain sometime in the next couple of days to follow up on it."

Elly's smile grows very wide as I keep talking. "Wonderful!" She says after I finish, looking like she's about ready to jump up in excitement. Instead she ends up settling for some kind of happy shoulder shimmy and finishing up with her dango. "I'll have to get my nice dress out for the interview."

"Err..." What she's got on right now looks plenty nice as far as I'm concerned. Sure, I understand trying to dress nice for something like this but uh... "You're going to be trying to get a job in security. I don't think they care how nice you look."

"Hmph. There's nothing wrong with a good first impression," Elly pouts, but I think she's just joking around at this point. Elly seems like a pretty reasonable person. I'm sure she understands what she should and shouldn't be doing. If anything, the plan is probably more likely to fail on my end than anything else... No pressure there.

Though I guess I should be used to that by this point.

We take a bit longer to hammer out some details. Elly seems more than happy to come by as soon as possible, but I'm going to need a chance to do my part first. We settle on tomorrow afternoon for the time when she should head up to the shrine. Hopefully things won't get too busy for that to not work out. Days seem pretty full now that we have so few of them left to work with. I don't think that's necessarily true for Kanako or Suwako though. They're probably just as busy as they have been.

"So... What was gonna happen if you didn't find a job?" Chiyo asks casually once we've finished the discussion. She's long since finished her food and has mostly been sitting around listening to me and Elly talk. "Would your boss just let you starve to death, or...?"

"Oh certainly not!" Elly quickly denies the idea. "I'm sure that if we were ever really truly in trouble, miss Yuuka would have helped us again. She may have wanted to motivate Kurumi and I to stay active, but she's not cruel or anything."

"Don't vampires need blood to live?" Even being from the Moon, I'm pretty sure that Chiyo knows the answer to that question.

"Well, yes," Elly agrees. "But it doesn't have to be human blood. She's been surviving on... Miscellaneous sources for a while now. It does make her a little grumpy at times, but it works just fine."

This is still kind of gross, but since we're on the subject, I'm a little bit curious. "Err, speaking of that," I interrupt, trying not to sound awkward or reveal how creepy this all is. Elly doesn't seem bothered by it. "When I came to see you today, that lake you were sitting on used to be all blood, right?"

"Ah, yes. Rather impressive volume, isn't it?" Elly says proudly. "The whole thing used to be not only filled, but also kept in pristine condition and protected from the elements. I'm not the type of youkai that would drink the stuff, but I still have to have some appreciation for the length to which miss Yuuka went just for Kurumi."

"That's uh..." I search for the right adjective to use here, but can't really think of one. The pause is long enough that Elly catches on to my hesitation.

Giving me a slightly nervous smile, Elly shrugs. "Well, in any case, Kurumi is a good friend, one that I've known for a long time. I think it's fine to just accept that different youkai need different things and move on from there," She says curtly, apparently ready to move on from the subject if it's making me uncomfortable. I'm thankful for that.

"So you're some kind of job eating youkai then?" Chiyo's deadpan asking of such a silly sounding question makes me snicker a little bit.

"Oh my," Elly seems likewise amused, though laughs a bit more lightly than I do. "Not exactly, no. As for the type of youkai that I am..." She trails off, considering something as she looks at me for a moment. "Well... Perhaps another time. There are some details around that I'd rather not get into in a place like this." Right, I guess we are still in the human village. While we're out of sight enough that I don't think we're bothering anybody, it's still probably best to watch exactly what we say. "In the meantime, seconds? I can pay if you'd like."

What? No, Elly, you really don't have to do that. "Nah, it's fine," I assure her before she can stand back up. While I get her being excited, she hasn't landed the job just yet. "We should be... Oh hey!"

I interrupt myself as I look out from the alleyway we're currently sitting down in. She doesn't notice me, but from this angle, I happen to catch a familiar face passing by. Bright red hair, blue ribbon, a little short, it looks like she's changed to clothes that are just a bit less conspicuous, but that's definitely Sekibanki. Right, she does live here in the village after all. I don't know exactly what she does here, but if we're hanging around, there was always a chance we might run into her.

"What? Oh!" Elly's sitting closer to the street than Chiyo, so she sees what I'm looking at fairly quickly. "Ah, wait a moment," I'm moving to get up and move out of the alleyway before Sekibanki walks out of sight, but Elly grabs my arm before I can do so. "Perhaps you should leave her for now."

"What, why?" I just wanted to say hi. It's been a few days, and I have kind of directed a few more people toward the grassroots youkai network. I figure Banki might want to know about that.

"Sekibanki is very human passing, and likes to keep it that way in the village. She's... Undercover, I suppose," Elly explains.


Before I can say anything, I feel something grab at my tail. Looking back angrily, I see that Chiyo reached over to grab me. "We're not exactly stealthy about being youkai," She points out.

Well... Fair enough, but you didn't have to grab my tail. I hate it when people do that. I sit back down awkwardly, feeling a little bit silly at my lack of self awareness. Sheesh, I'm supposed to be more cautious than this. Maybe things have just been going too well lately. Not that I'm going to complain about that.


It's not too much longer after that that we kind of run out of things to talk about. Sure, Elly brings up a few shorter stories about times that she's been to the village before, but that's about it. Chiyo and I can't really share much, considering how little time we've actually been in Gensokyo along with how we still haven't actually revealed the truth about being from the Moon to Elly. I don't think she really needs to worry about that stuff.

Still, it limits conversation a little bit, so we're soon out of food and out of reason to keep sitting around. We get up from our place on the bench and walk for a little while longer, mostly just retracing our steps through the village and heading back toward the outer edge. We're not really in any hurry, since Elly, like us, doesn't really have anywhere that she needs to be until the sun starts to set.

"It depends on how early she feels like getting up, but sundown is a usual time to look for her. Lately Kurumi has been rather lethargic. Too much exercise without enough feeding, unfortunately," Elly explains. "Hopefully that will change soon enough."

"Hopefully, yeah," I agree halfheartedly. While having Kurumi feel better would be nice, I'm still not sold on the whole feeding thing... Well, it'll work out somehow.

"In any case," Elly says happily once we reach the wall to the village. "I don't want to overstay our welcome here, so heading back may be the best thing to do now. Are you coming along to Mugenkan?"

"Err... We kind of have some more business to take care of," I don't know what time it is exactly, but we're getting to around the point where we might be able to find Reisen soon. No reason to take a trip back to Elly's place just to drop her off and have to fly all the way back.

"I see, hopefully I'll see you soon then?"

"Maybe," I answer. Not sure if we're going to actually be hanging around enough to see whatever interview happens or whatever, but I'm sure if things work out like we hope, we'll be seeing more of Elly around the plant soon. "See you later then."

"Goodbye Seiran, Chiyo," And with that, Elly floats over the wall and in the general direction of her home.

"So... Business?" Chiyo asks after Elly's out of sight.

Right, so I never really told Chiyo this far ahead, mostly because I didn't really plan out my day ahead of time. Didn't know if I was going to be out and about all the way until evening like I have been. "I'm supposed to meet up with Reisen in the evenings. Or at least somebody is. She's looking around for information and leads for us."

"Ah," Chiyo's expression is perfectly blank. She has a much better poker face than I do, I'll give her that much. "So... You don't really need me around for that, right? I kinda want to get back to the plant sometime today."

"Really? What for?" She hasn't protested before this.

"... Stuff."


Well, Satori already told me what this is about. Chiyo has some kind of problem with Reisen. Of course, it looks like she's trying to get out of dealing with it, assuming that I don't know what she's doing. Honestly, I'm not sure if I want to force it or not. I don't know the details, and I don't want anything antagonistic to happen between us and Reisen. On the other hand, we're going to be working with her for at least a few more days. We can't avoid this forever...

[ ] Let Chiyo go back to the plant, wait around for Reisen alone.
[ ] Make Chiyo stick around. Don't push her to deal with whatever problem she has with Reisen.
[ ] Make Chiyo stick around. Make her talk to Reisen.

Wooahh. Nice.
[x] Ask Chiyo what the deal is with her and Reisen before making a decision.

Make it a really short update.
[x] Ask Chiyo what the deal is with her and Reisen before making a decision.

It might really be for the best to let her go back, but I'd rather have more information before making that call.
[x] Ask Chiyo what the deal is with her and Reisen before making a decision.

Forcing her to stay is a bit much, but we'd be a poor friend if we didn't at least ask what's up.


[x] Ask Chiyo what the deal is with her and Reisen before making a decision.
File 150579216892.png - (1.15MB, 1000x1400, We're just talking.png) [iqdb]
[X] Ask Chiyo what the deal is with her and Reisen before making a decision.

"So..." I begin conversationally rather than directly answering Chiyo's question. "Before I do or don't let you go back, I want to clear something up."

"... Alright. Shoot," The shift in Chiyo's attitude is almost impossible to notice. In fact, the only reason that I likely saw any change is just because I know her so well. Chiyo's good at remaining neutral, but I'm pretty sure from the tiny difference in her expression that she's feeling a little bit defensive, or at least cautious.

So with that being said, I probably want to be a little bit careful here. I'm not trying to be accusatory. Just questioning. "Walk with me," I request, heading off in a random direction. Chiyo looks a little bit nonplussed, but follows along as we move along the outer wall of the village.

Of course, this part of the village isn't exactly meant for leisurely strolling. There are a lot of buildings pressed right up against the border, as well as a lot of junk. Just random miscellaneous things like wagons, broken up stalls, or other junk. It's still passable, but not the best for casual walking around. Maybe I could have planned this better. Not that I really planned it at all.

"Where are we going?" Okay that's a perfectly reasonable question to be honest. I actually have no clue. That isn't the point though.

"Nowhere really," I answer, still keeping it casual. "We're just talking." I don't know if Chiyo believes me or not, but she doesn't say anything, which I take as a good enough cue to continue. "Anyway, you said you have stuff that you want to do, but... Well, I kind of already know what the issue is. It's not really that you have stuff to do, it's that you have something you want to avoid."

Chiyo remains silent. Not sure if that's good or not. She's definitely on guard now though. So much so that I can barely tell that she is, if that makes sense.

"I know that you have some kind of thing with Reisen," I decide to just come out with it. Yeah, I could have forced her to confront it without telling her, or just left it alone, but I think I want to talk about this. "Satori told me while we were talking to her," I add offhandedly. "She didn't say what it was, but the tip off made it obvious that you've been purposely avoiding Reisen every time we've talked to her. And now you're trying to do it again, sooo... I'm just wondering what's up. What's the problem?"

I hear Chiyo sigh, and it takes me a half second to realize she's stopped following along with me. Turning back to look, she's leaning back against the outer wall of the village, her eyes avoiding me by scanning the sky instead. "... I," She starts before pausing to sigh again and think what she's saying over a little bit more. "Dunno."

"Uh huh..."


Well, I can wait. We've got time. I turn and join Chiyo right up against the wall, deciding not to force her to look at me if she doesn't want to. I have more than enough experience with uncomfortable conversations where eye contact is just impossible. The silence between us grows longer and longer as I decide to wait for Chiyo to break it.



... She is going to break it, right?

"... If you had asked me yesterday or any other day about this, it would've been easy," Chiyo finally speaks again, even though it's been long enough that she must have realized I wasn't going to talk quite a while ago. "I could've just said that I didn't like that she abandoned the Moon as soon as things got tough."

Right, that would make sense. Chiyo has always had a bit more loyalty for the Moon than other rabbits. I guess I can kind of see why she, someone who actually participated in the war, might resent Someone who ran away from it. Or at least, I could see that before today. "But now..."

"But now I'm doing the same thing," Chiyo finishes my unfinished sentence. I probably would have put it more nicely but okay. "And with even less reason behind it. Just because I want to... There's no war this time. Nothing to run from. By the time I get to desert, there'll be no actual reason to. It's just because I want to..."

Right, because Chiyo is only planning on staying here after we solve the Moon's big problem. "Having second thoughts?"

"Nope," Chiyo answers simply without even really thinking about it. "And that's the worst thing. I'm still sure that I want to stay here now that I have the chance. Truthfully, Reisen was never the real problem," Chiyo shakes her head, rubbing it against the wooden wall behind her lightly. "At least, not the way I thought she was. We've never talked. Not even on comms. She doesn't even know who I am really."

"Then what was the real problem?" I find myself asking before I can stop to think that Chiyo might not want or even be able to answer the question.

"Well..." Chiyo starts to answer, but then pauses, looking further up into the sky.


... A few birds pass by.


"Me, I guess," Chiyo finally decides. "It's all on me. I'm a hypocrite. Just as disloyal as the rest of them, but I was willing to lie about it. Acting like I'm so much better just because I can pretend to give a damn," I notice Chiyo tapping irritably on the wall with her hand. "I'm not special. I'm not different. Just another cannon fodder bunny for the top brass to throw at their problems, and not even willing to do that."


"Even with all the work to advance, it didn't matter. I'm not different from everyone else when it comes down to it. Still a useless bunny," Chiyo continues, it's weird to hear her get upset like this, which kind of puts me at a loss for words. "But if I'm not different then why didn't anyone ever want to be frie-" Chiyo's voice suddenly cuts off.

"Chi?" I turn to look, but Chiyo's jaw appears to have forced itself shut to prevent her continued speaking. Her face is a little red, and her eyes might be a tiny bit... She isn't crying, right?


"... A-anyway," Chiyo forces herself to continue after a moment of calming down. It's really unusual to hear her stutter. "I... Feel like I still kind of want some time. Talking to Reisen is probably going to mess me up more than help..." She lets out a fake sounding laugh. "Or maybe not. I've been wrong about myself before."

So... This is kind of more complicated than I expected then. I guess having less than two hours with Satori wasn't enough to help Chi with all of her problems. Not that I would expect it to be. Even Satori would need time to sort through things. Even if she could get Chiyo to reach a decision, apparently it doesn't mean that she can force Chiyo to be one-hundred percent satisfied with that decision.

Let me think about this. Chiyo is upset with herself for being like the rest of the rabbits, at least in terms of loyalty, but acting like she was different anyway. She was projecting that dissatisfaction with herself onto Reisen, who she more or less identifies as the least loyal rabbit she can think of. Now that she's had to do some self examination to figure out why she's okay with going back to the Moon, she's realized that there's no real reason for her to dislike Reisen, but that animosity has to go somewhere, so... She's let it rebound right back onto herself.

Or at least that's what I'm getting from this. I'm... Really not the best at this sort of thing. There's no guarantee that Chiyo is giving me the full story either, but just based on what she told me...

[ ] She should go back to the plant for now. She needs more time to think.
[ ] She should stick around. Even if she doesn't talk to Reisen, it's better than sitting around trying to work through this alone.
[ ] She should confront this head on. Maybe talking to Reisen will actually help her work through things.

Right you are.
[x] She should stick around. Even if she doesn't talk to Reisen, it's better than sitting around trying to work through this alone.

I am incurably wishy-washy.
[x] She should stick around. Even if she doesn't talk to Reisen, it's better than sitting around trying to work through this alone.

She can talk or not if she wants.
[x] She should stick around. Even if she doesn't talk to Reisen, it's better than sitting around trying to work through this alone.

She will have plenty of time to think later. For now, a confrontation, even if indirect, will give her more to think about. If she can't help but blurt something out... Even better.
[X] She should confront this head on. Maybe talking to Reisen will actually help her work through things.

Dancing around the issue won't solve anything, take it head on and punch it in the metaphorical face!
[X] She should stick around. Even if she doesn't talk to Reisen, it's better than sitting around trying to work through this alone.

Reisen is probably the best person to talk to about this, since she's actually deserted before and probably had a somewhat similar experience.
That's if she can get herself to talk to Reisen, however...
[X] She should stick around. Even if she doesn't talk to Reisen, it's better than sitting around trying to work through this alone.
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[X] She should stick around. Even if she doesn't talk to Reisen, it's better than sitting around trying to work through this alone.

Okay, it's a bit difficult for me to mentally justify forcing Chiyo into a conversation. I would hate it if somebody did that to me, after all. With how things have been going lately, I've been stuck in a lot of conversations that are kind of difficult. Granted, they usually work out in the end, but getting started on them has always been the hard part.

"Honestly Chi, that's fine," I assure her, pushing off from the wall and turning around to face Chiyo directly. "If you want time, you can have it. I'm not going to make you talk to Reisen."

Chiyo stays quiet at that. She seems to be pointedly ignoring making eye contact, which is another thing that I'm pretty well used to. Maybe not for the same exact reasons, but I get the idea. She's uncomfortable with this whole situation, so I might as well try to make it as not awkward for her as possible.

"... Buuut, I don't see any reason why you can't stick around at least," I continue, noticing that Chiyo's frown increases a bit when I do. "Look, we're both going to go to the same place once the meeting with Reisen is done, why not wait it out so we can stick together? Anything's better than sitting around trying to figure this all out by yourself."

Chiyo keeps looking uncomfortable, but eventually does respond. With words this time. "Not like I'm making much conversation anyway," she mutters, just loud enough for me to hear it properly.

"I don't mind. Just having the company is enough," I tell her cheerfully. She has to know that I'm used to her by now. As long as we can talk when it matters, I don't mind that she skips over all the small talk that doesn't.

"... Hm," That's not a real response, but okay. Kind of hurts the point I was just making.

"All I'm saying is that Reisen might be the best person that you should talk to at some point in time. She's had a lot of time to think through whatever bad feelings came about from her deserting. Even if it's not now, you should at least try talking to her at some point, okay?" From Chiyo's look, I don't think it is okay at all. "We're going to keep working with her either way. There's no rush. Just think about it. Like I said, you can stay silent the whole time if you want," Okay, that's a little bit better of a reaction.

Chiyo gives a slightly resigned sigh, then takes a step away from the wall. "Fine."


"That's what I said."

"Okay..." If that's all I'm going to get, I guess I'll take it. At least I convinced her to stick around. "Well, we might have a little bit of time to wait still, but not enough that it's worth going anywhere else. I think the place that we're supposed to meet up with Reisen is..." Err... I look around suddenly, but I don't really know the layout of the village from the inside. I end up just picking a random direction so that I don't leave Chiyo hanging completely. "That way?"

"... Let's just fly up," Hm, and here I thought I bluffed that pretty well. Maybe it's just hard to put stuff like that past Chi.

The two of us lift off, and I'm pleased to see that I was mostly correct in picking out our direction. Well, more correct than not. Within one-hundred eighty degrees at least... Close enough really. I don't know why Chiyo feels the need to snicker about it.

... Okay, so maybe my sense of direction could be a little better. We're not lost, are we? No. No we're not.

Not to mention, it doesn't really matter if we get there in a direct manner (which we do). There's still some wait time to sit through before it gets late enough in the evening for Reisen to leave the village. Time that is honestly kind of a waste, but since I can't think of anything better to do with it...


"- not saying that yours are bad. Just a change of pace."

"But..." No, calm down, calm down... She's being reasonable here. Just because I kind of take some pride in my dango doesn't mean everyone has to see them as better than the ones at the village. Chiyo's even just said that she didn't mean it like that. I don't need to worry. It's fine...

"Hey, I think that's her," Before I can think of a good response to make sure that Chiyo admits, in no uncertain terms, that my dango are still the best, there's an interruption. Part of me is disappointed about not having time to set the record straight, but the much more reasonable side of me knows that this is exactly what we were waiting for. After telling Chiyo what to watch for, we've mostly just had a lot of time to sit around and wait for people to pass by. As if to make the wait even more annoying, it seems like not many people even use this entrance to the village. I guess there's nothing that people want to walk to in the direction of Eientei?

In any case, that's definitely Reisen. Chiyo and I wait for her to pass us by, until she's a decent distance away from the village, then fly over toward her. She's walking somewhat quickly, but her shoulders and head are lowered a bit more than normal. Is she upset over something? Maybe worried.

"Good evening," I know Chiyo isn't going to do it, and it looks like Reisen would have a hard time of it, so I try to be the cheerful one in the conversation. Reisen flinches slightly when she notices me, coming to a stop in the middle of the road. She looks tired. "Rough day?"

"Err... Yeah, kinda," Reisen answers, slipping the medicine case off of her back and rolling her shoulders a little bit. She keeps the hat on this time though. "Some days are like this. Busy morning, then a lot of orders in the afternoon. Taking the detours to try and gather information didn't help either."

"Oh," So it's kind of our fault. I'm not exactly sure what to say to that. Should I apologize? She did agree to it, but we're kinda sorta forcing her into it... Well, not really.

"I haven't found anything yet," Reisen continues before I can sort out how to respond. She tugs at the collar to her costume a little bit. "But honestly... I don't have a huge amount of contacts to run through that would want to deal with things that are tied to the Moon. At least not in town."

"... I guess the village probably isn't the best for that, yeah," I admit. Thinking about it, if Reisen has been stuck doing her medicine selling stuff all day, it's no wonder that she hasn't had much chance to check things out.

"Yeah... If you count all the people in the village that know I'm a youkai, and that I'm from the Moon... It's not a big number," I'm not surprised about that one, I kind of already knew that she's been isolating herself, and if she wears that outfit every time she goes to the village for work, she probably doesn't have very many people she can get to know. "Of course, I can fish around for just rumors more discreetly, but it takes time before I'm going to find the right person to check. That's if what I hear ends up being anything of substance."

Urgh, so we told Reisen to take this path because it had the lowest chance of getting her in trouble with Eirin, but of course that ends up translating into it being the slowest option as well. I don't need to be nervous, there's still time. Not needing to be nervous doesn't mean that I'm not anyway though. "Can we help at all?"

Reisen thinks about it for a moment. "... No. I just need more time if we're really sticking on this idea," How much more time? I kind of don't want to ask, but kind of do as well. "I was going to try and check with some people outside the village tonight, but I can only stay out so late before Master starts getting suspicious. I'll need another day before I've checked everyone I can think of."

Hm. Another day. That's probably reasonable, given how much time we have left, but we're running the clock down. Even if Reisen finds something, who knows how long it will take to actually acquire it? If there was some way to get her more time tonight instead... "Couldn't you just say you were making deliveries to faraway people and stay out later tonight?" That seems believable, right?

"That only works until Master actually bothers to check my inventory and profits," Reisen counters back. Oh yeah, I guess that's a point. Something that could be proven wrong. And I don't really have money to give her so that she could keep up the lie. "It's a risk to try it, but... She has been a little bit distracted lately. She hasn't been checking my sales every night. I might be able to pull it off."

Hm, so it's still down to a question of how much risk we're willing to take. I know that Reisen wants this plan to work out too, but if Eirin catches on to what she's doing, that's no good either. I glance back at Chiyo while I think things over... Yeah, she's trying to act like she isn't even a part of the conversation. The look on her face isn't exactly pleasant either. No help there then. Let me think...

[ ] Just stay the course for now. Let Reisen run through the rest of her contacts on her own time.
[ ] Encourage Reisen to stay out later tonight and work through more
[ ] Maybe we should switch focus. There's probably something in Eientei that would qualify for what we need. Reisen should switch to finding that instead.

[ ] Head back to the shrine
[ ] Head back to the plant
[ ] Go somewhere else (Write-in)

So I don't know if anyone's noticed, but Thursday updates aren't working so well for me anymore (and if I miss them then other obligations mean I don't get around to it until Saturday). I'm thinking about changing up my schedule, but I'm not sure how yet. More information to come, though I'll stick with Monday Thursday until then.
[x] Just stay the course for now. Let Reisen run through the rest of her contacts on her own time.
[x] Head back to the shrine.
[X] Just stay the course for now. Let Reisen run through the rest of her contacts on her own time.
[X] Head back to the shrine
[X] Just stay the course for now. Let Reisen run through the rest of her contacts on her own time.

Reisen doesn't deserve any more trouble from Eirin than she already gets, so let's not put her in that position.

[x] Head back to the shrine.

Gotta put in that good word for Elly!
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[X] Just stay the course for now. Let Reisen run through the rest of her contacts on her own time.
[X] Head back to the shrine

It's difficult not to be a little bit worried. Anyone who knows me even a little bit wouldn't find that surprising, especially given what we're dealing with here. If we screw this up... But that's the thing. Reisen hasn't screwed up at all. She's been working at the problem to the best of her ability while avoiding suspicion from Eirin. I don't see any reason to give her trouble over that. I know that I would certainly hate to have somebody bothering me while I was trying to covertly gathering information.

So no. There's no reason to force this, at least not until Reisen is officially out of ideas. Only at that point should I worry... Err, worry more than my normal baseline anyway. No amount of reassuring myself that is alright is going to get rid of my normal anxiety. That much I just have to live with... For now?

"In that case, let's not risk it," I say, trying to sound like it was an easy decision to make. Reisen looks rather surprised at how casual I sound about the situation, which means I probably did a pretty good job. "The whole point of this version of the plan was to give you the smallest chance to get in trouble with Eirin, right? I think we should stick to that priority before anything else. Rushing something like this won't necessarily make it better, and I'm not going to ask you to switch focus now that you've gotten started."

"O-oh... Well, thanks," Reisen shows gratitude automatically, appearing to still be too surprised at my response to do otherwise. "I'll keep trying then I guess, but if I don't have anything by tomorrow..."

"Then we'll figure out where to go from there," I finish for her. Oddly, having someone else be so obviously worried is making it easier for me to pretend that I'm not. Maybe I'm just trying to be reassuring. "Don't worry about it."

Reisen bites at her lower lip, glancing back at the village while deep in thought. "I'll try, but..." She sighs, thankfully giving her lip a break. "I'm still worried about what happens even if we do succeed."

Huh, that's a new one. I guess I can see why she would be though. "About saving the capital?"

Reisen nods quickly, but then thinks better of it. "That too, but... Just keep in mind that some places don't play as nice as Gensokyo does," from the way she says it, it sounds like Reisen is telling me whatever she's saying somewhat reluctantly for whatever reason.

Playing nice, huh? I can only really think of one way that Gensokyo plays nice. Their rules of engagement. "You mean danmaku then?" I guess.

Reisen responds with a quick nod. "I guess it doesn't make a difference that I'm already sworn to secrecy about everything, but..." Her reluctance finally gets the better of her. She pauses, reaching up absentmindedly to adjust her hat for no real reason. "If... If we figure out a way back, just know that there will be some people who try to stop us."

Hm, I guess that somebody had to have forced the capital into the dream world in the first place. They probably won't be too happy about us trying to get it out. Not to mention, considering that we'll be in the dream world, bakus could be an issue too. This time I won't have Marisa watching me to make sure that everything goes okay either. I suppose it shouldn't be odd to face danger as a soldier, but given how little we've had to worry about our lives in the past few months...

All I can think to do is nod solemnly. At the very least, I've got more reliable powers now. If I can summon bullets, fight off our enemies, and protect everyone, then I'll do that. I don't know how much time I'll have to practice in the next couple of days, but I can definitely try, if it's going to keep everyone safe. I'll look over my spell cards tonight, see if I can conceptualize using other bullets in them, and then...

"... I'll see if I can do anything about that too," Reisen suddenly adds, although I don't know exactly what she's referring to. Before I can think of the words to ask properly, she's already slid her backpack thing onto her back, adjusted herself, and stood poised to leave. "Anyway, I need to get going. See you tomorrow?" She asks evenly.

"Hopefully, yeah," Not that I'm worried about anything happening to either of us, but it might not be me who comes out to check with her tomorrow. "See you later."

Reisen nods, then starts walking away.

... All of that without Chiyo saying anything at all. Bit of a shame really.


Chiyo keeps her expression one of restrained thoughtfulness even after Reisen leaves. It kind of makes it hard to say much to her. Even my suggestion that we should get going back to the shrine is met with little more than a nod. Okay, maybe that's not that unusual for Chiyo, but... I'm completely unsure of what she's actually thinking, and she doesn't seem open to sharing.

Like, Reisen didn't say anything too odd, right? I don't know what's put Chiyo in a funk like this.

Still, she follows along and we start flying across Gensokyo for what is hopefully the last time today. It gives me some time to think as well, and...

... I've kind of been avoiding doing that.

Now that we're finally heading back and I know for a fact that we're going to see the other rabbits again, I'm remembering the confrontations that have been left unresolved. Last night, Ringo almost... Y-yeah. I'm sure that Sumi has already explained everything to the others by this point. I asked her to do it after all. That doesn't necessarily mean that Yuzuki won't ask questions, but I'm much less worried about them than I am about Ringo herself.

Conveniently enough, Ringo was gone when I woke up this morning. Running some errand or other for one of our hosts. Do I believe that that's a coincidence? Nope. Not at all. She was avoiding me after that failed kiss last night. How long is that going to last? What's she going to say when we meet up again? What am I going to say? Sumi wants me to ask Ringo out on a date, but...

In a way, staying out all day was kind of a relief. I feel bad about thinking that though. These are my friends. I can't avoid them just because things are a little weird now. We need to work through this...

I just don't really know how.


The sun has almost set by the time we've made it all the way back up to the top of the mountain and are landing at the shrine. The multicolored, tree filled landscape is actually really pretty to look at, but I'm a bit preoccupied. Iwonder if everyone else had as full of a day as I did. That would be pretty nice, all things considered. Though come to think of it, I have no idea what anyone else might have been working on. I haven't even seen Ringo, Yuzuki, or Sumi all day. Let me think here, Ringo was working for Rikako on something, Yuzuki was gone before I even woke up, and Sumi was... I don't know actually. That actually makes me feel a little bit lonely.

And of course, it's not any of those three that comes out to greet me and Chiyo when we land. Instead, it's Sanae. I guess that's to be expected, and I don't really mind it at all. I like Sanae of course, even if she isn't part of our unit.

"Good evening! Welcome back you two," Sanae calls out cheerfully. I don't know if she had been cleaning up or what, but she was out in the front of the shrine for some reason or another. "Did things work out okay with Marisa?"

"Yeah, actually they did," More than okay really. In fact, at the moment, I can still cheer myself up instantly whenever I just remind myself that yes, my powers might actually be fixed now. "Um, do you know where any of the others are?" I ask. "We'd normally have a meeting or something to keep track of what each other are doing."

Sanae nods thoughtfully. "Debriefing for your secret missions," she nods. I don't really know if she's being serious or not, and she's only kind of sort of right if she is. "Well, Ringo just left recently. She said she was going to meet up with Reisen, so-"

"Wait, we just did that," I don't mean to cut Sanae off, but that's a bit of a surprise. Also a bit of a waste.

"Oh... Well, Ringo couldn't have known that," Sanae points out. Yeah, I guess that's true, but I still feel like I want to groan at the lack of efficiency. This is what happens when we don't have comms and don't talk to each other. "I'm sure she'll come back soon though, it'll be fine!"

It probably will, but it's still a bit of a waste of time. Even worse if she somehow manages to find Reisen and take up her time too. That's not what I wanted to have happen at all. Still, I guess there isn't much I can do about it now. Even if Ringo was carrying one of the two way radios, she'd almost certainly be out of range. I guess the meeting will just have to wait. "I guess so... What about the others?"

"Yuzuki came by in the afternoon and asked if she could help out here and there," Sanae replies cheerfully, gesturing deeper into the shrine's grounds. "She should be around here somewhere still."

"Um... Help out here and there with...?" I'm already getting worried again.

"Cleaning!" Yuuup, that's what I was afraid of. Sanae probably isn't aware of the exact lengths Yuzuki will go to to get things clean to her own standards. If nobody's watching her... "I'm actually really thankful. I thought Yuzuki didn't like me, but after we talked things out last night, it looks like we've reached an understanding!" While that's great and all, it might only be okay because she doesn't know what's really happening.

Before I can warn her though, Chiyo speaks up for the first time in quite a while. "And Sumi?"

"Hm... I'm not sure. I haven't seen her since I got back," Sanae shrugs and shakes her head apologetically.

Ugh... I respect everyone having their own things that they care about, of course, but I'm really missing comms. Being able to telepathically communicate with each other would be a big help now that we're all spread out potentially anywhere in Gensokyo. I don't really expect people to go missing again, but there's technically always that possibility... Still another thing that I can't really do anything about at this exact moment.

So it sounds like a meeting isn't going to happen immediately then. If we wait long enough, Ringo might come back, and getting Yuzuki's attention is as easy as just waving my arms around and pointing. That's four out of five, which is pretty good. heck, there's a nonzero chance that Sumi might come by too, though I have no idea if that's even on her list of priorities or not. There's a bit of time before I can reach a respectable fraction for a meeting, so in the meantime... Oh yeah.

"Is Lady Suwako around?" I ask, remembering to use the right title even though I'm still more used to thinking of her as just Suwako. Hopefully the goddess herself doesn't mind too much. I need to talk to her about Elly at some point before tomorrow afternoon, and this might be as good an opportunity as any other.

Sanae blinks in surprise. "Uhm, I think she's out by the Wind God's Lake," She answers, sounding a bit unsure. Okay, I kind of know where that is. I have seen a small lake near the shrine while flying back and forth, and Kanako mentioned it by name before. "She heads out that way pretty often in the afternoon, and doesn't come back until dinner... Oh yeah, are you guys staying for dinner again?!"

"I'm not sure yet," That's being honest. A part of me really doesn't want to impose after we already ate so much of their food last night, but then we don't really have much in the way of options otherwise. "We'll talk it over once Ringo gets back," Though I already have a feeling I know what she's going to say. It's free food, what reason does she have to refuse.

... Err, as long as nothing like last night happens again.

A-Anyway, it seems like I'm kind of stuck waiting for a meeting, unless I wanted to hold it just between me, Chiyo, and Yuzuki. That probably wouldn't be that productive considering that Chiyo and I were together all day anyway.

[ ] Just wait around for now. Ringo should be back soon, and then we can get things done.
[ ] I should probably talk to Yuzuki. Stop her from cleaning up too much and find out what she's been up to.
[ ] This is a decent chance to go talk to Suwako. Might as well get that out of the way.
[ ] Maybe I could just talk to Sanae for a bit. I do have a few things to ask her about...
[X] This is a decent chance to go talk to Suwako. Might as well get that out of the way.
[x] This is a decent chance to go talk to Suwako. Might as well get that out of the way.

Can't decide, falling back on 'help the cute 2hu.'
[X] This is a decent chance to go talk to Suwako. Might as well get that out of the way.
We have time to burn and she is close so...
[X] This is a decent chance to go talk to Suwako. Might as well get that out of the way.

Must honor commitments.
[X] This is a decent chance to go talk to Suwako. Might as well get that out of the way.

Time to help Elly!
[x] This is a decent chance to go talk to Suwako. Might as well get that out of the way.
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[X] This is a decent chance to go talk to Suwako. Might as well get that out of the way.

One of the things that I would call- well, okay, I don't know if I would go as far as to call it an advantage, but it is a... Feature, I guess. One of the things that I would call a feature of being so prone to worrying is that I'm not very forgetful about things that I have to worry about. Truthfully, I don't think that I'm going to forget to talk to Suwako if I put it off, but considering this is as good a chance as any, and I have the free time, I might as well get it out of the way now.

Chiyo is asking something about what food they'd be having tonight (unfortunately it isn't hotpot again), so I wait for there to be a lull in that conversation before I check something. "Which way to that lake you were talking about?"

"Huh? Oh, you just have to head over in that direction," Sanae points toward the east (I think), and I follow along with my eyes, even if I don't end up seeing anything but the surrounding wilderness. "You can head over the trees or through them, but it's pretty hard to miss... What did you need to talk to Lady Suwako about?"

"Business," I answer simply. It's not like the Elly thing needs to be a big secret, but I figured I would start off on the strongest option, the one that I already decided on earlier. Suwako knowing first will let me know how I should let the others know, you know?... Ahem. Anyway. "Err, am I going to be interrupting something important if I head over there right now?"

"No, probably not," Sanae shakes her head lightly. "Lady Suwako is usually just playing around with the frogs and stuff..." She trails off, and seems to come to the conclusion that she might have said too much. She hurriedly continues. "Err, but um, if it's about business, shouldn't you talk to Lady Kanako instead?"

I just shrug. The thought had crossed my mind, and it makes sense from a certain perspective, but I decided on Suwako instead. "I figured she'd be busy. It's not like, mission critical, just a side thing."

"Oh, okay. Well, just head over to the lake then, I don't think Lady Suwako will mind the company," Sanae quickly regains footing, going back to her normal happy demeanor. The 'happy helpful shrine maiden' one, not the 'kind of weird but still endearing, super enthusiastic' one. Not that I mind either of them.

"Alright, thanks," I notice Chiyo taking a few steps to distance herself from the conversation. She does that a lot, slips out of focus when nobody's paying attention to her. Of course, usually people miss it completely, but i've just hit a point where I'm ready to move on. "Chi?"

"Gonna go find Yuzuki," Chiyo decides, turning and taking a few steps away. She pauses to look over her shoulder back at me. "We'll meet back up for a meeting, right?"

"Sure," That's the hope anyway, once Ringo gets back. "Oh, and thanks for coming along today and helping with everything," I add. Even if I was mostly dragging her around for my own benefit, the fact that I did benefit means some thanks are in order. Even if she's already heard it, no reason not to say it again.

Chiyo makes a grunt of acknowledgement. That's all she says before wandering off deeper into the shrine grounds. Sanae and I share an awkward smile, though probably for vastly different reasons.

Well, anyway, I know Chi has a lot to think about still. I'll leave her to it.


The Wind God's Lake, as it turns out, isn't that impressive of a lake. At least not compared to what I'm used to. I'm not just talking about the Lunar Maria either, though those are obviously orders of magnitude larger than what we're looking at here. Even the lake down near where we used to be camped out was considerably larger than the body of water I see peeking out from the trees as I fly toward where Sanae pointed me. Honestly though, I don't know what anyone would need all the water from those larger lakes for in the first place. This seems a lot more manageable. Maybe even scenic.

Of course, being scenic doesn't matter when you're so high up above the rest of Gensokyo. Nobody else can really benefit from the view unless they come all the way up to the shrine, then wander off to the left for no particular reason. Not the best planned thing, in my opinion. How many visitors the Moriya shrine gets is not really my business, or even my concern honestly, but I do feel like they could do things to improve the figure at least a little bit. Maybe move somewhere closer to... Anything.

But anyway, the lake itself is open to the sky, and with so little to obscure it, gives a nice reflection of the setting sun around me as I lower down to the ground again. The effect is only really obscured by the number of large wooden pillars sticking up out of the water nearby. Must be a religious thing. The air is a little colder here, but I'm still mostly okay with the temperature. Just a little bit chillier than I would keep things.

It's not hard to see Suwako, considering she's the only other person (goddess really but who's counting?) around. Her socks and shoes missing entirely, it looks like she's about knee deep in the water of the lake, splashing around a bit as she walks through it with almost no effort on her part. There are a number of little green animals around her, swimming or hopping out of the water. Those are frogs, right? I'm not really used to those things. We only saw a few of them around every once in a while in the months that we've been here. Honestly I think they're kind of gross, but if Suwako likes them, I'll leave it alone.

"Hey there," I made it a point to land pretty close to Suwako, though I'm still not sure if she noticed me before I called out. Either way, she doesn't look all that surprised, instead just turning her head toward me casually, the eyes on her hat spinng around to look directly at me as well. "Um, do you have a few spare minutes?"

"More than a few actually, yeah," Suwako wades through the water to get a bit closer to the raised bank of the shore, just to make the conversation easier. She doesn't move to leave the water once she's nearby though. "Unless you're telling me dinner's ready early, then I'm busy."

"Nah, not for a while," It didn't even look like Sanae was completely done working yet, to be honest. There's probably at least another hour or something like that before any food is ready in the shrine. That's not really important though, I know Suwako was just making a joke. "What are you doing anyway?"

Suwako glances down into the water. A few frogs are still swimming around her. "Goddess stuff," She responds simply with a shrug.

"... Fair enough," Also not really the point of the visit. I wanted to talk about the situation from today. "Anyway, I wanted to ask you about something..."

I give a brief outline of meeting Elly and her situation as Suwako listens. At some point she pulls herself up to sit on the bank of the lake, still letting her legs and feet dangle into the water a little bit, but mostly she just listens quietly. From watching her face, I'm pretty sure she catches on to where I'm going with things before I actually reach the point of my request, but she doens't cut me off still. Part of me appreciates that, but part of me wouldn't mind hurrying through things if Suwako has already caught on.

"- and, well I couldn't give her a job myself, but I could probably put her in contract with someone who could. She's coming by tomorrow to talk about it, and I figured I could put in a good word for her, or something," I finish lamely. "Could you help with that? Kinda like, smooth things over with Kanako?"

Suwako thinks it over for a nerve wrackingly long period of time. It probably isn't actually that long. Not like it takes that much to get me nervous. "We're not exactly recruiting right now," She finally says. Ugh. That's a disappointment. Also going to be pretty awkward when Elly shows up. "But at the same time, I don't think that we're going to turn anyone away if it's worthwhile to have them around instead. Like, for example, you."

Oh, that's much better. Not only does it turn out that Elly actually does have a shot, but apparently us rabbits have moved up the ladder to the level of worthwhile to have around. I'm only half joking when I say that's better than what we're used to from Command. "Thanks, I guess."

"Don't mention it," Suwako shrugs it off casually. "Anyway, yeah, I can probably do that... You said you met her in the GRYN meeting, right?"

"The..." I have to wrap my head around what that acronym actually means for a second, but I catch it quickly enough. It was a part of my story after all. The grassroots youkai network. "Oh, yeah."

"Well then it should be a done deal," Suwako cranes her neck to look up at me with a wide smile. I'm not sure exactly why that's the deciding factor though. "I just have to throw that little fact in Kanako's face and bam. She'll jump at having another point of contact in that group if you guys don't stick around after all this business is over."

Oh... I didn't even think of that initially. Elly working for the shrine means that Kanako might try to take advantage of her previous social connections to gather information. It's probably harmless, and we kind of gathered the same kind of information ourselves, but it's still a little bit opportunistic. "Err... Weren't you the one saying that you wanted Kanako to do less scheming?" I say cautiously.

Suwako shrugs again, putting her hand down and idly flicking a nearby pebble out onto the lake. I see it skip twice before sinking a good distance away. "Gotta roll with where life takes you. Can't stop Kanako from being Kanako at this point, not in the middle of all this stuff that's going on," She flicks another pebble in, getting three skips this time. "Anyway, it works out well for you and your friend, so why not just go with it? It's a better call than going with the emotional appeal of her sob story, at least when you're talking to Kanako."

"Well... If it works, I guess that's fine," I can think of a number of situations where it isn't going to be fine, but... Well, it's really only for how Elly rates her own priorities.

Say Elly does get the job. What does she tell people at the meetings? If she reveals who she's working for, that let's Wakisagihime and Banki and all the rest of them know Kanako has an in with them. What if they don't like that and kick Elly out? Doesn't that defeat the purpose. Although, I guess it's likely Kanako would anticipate that and have Elly not mention her involvement. But then she'd need a good cover story and there'd be lies going back and forth and... Ugh.

I don't exactly like it, but considering that we're already aware that Banki is being backed by somebody or other... Well, what's the difference here?

And anyway, that's something that's between Elly and the rest of the network.

"So!" Suwako picks up the conversation after I spend a few seconds thinking things over. "How'd your thing go today? Anybody go check with Reisen yet?"

"Err, yeah," Technically multiple different people in multiple different groups did. Ringo's just not back yet. "She hasn't found anything yet, but still has people she wants to check with. I think we have another day before we really need to panic."

"Probably shouldn't panic ever, but yeah," Suwako finally takes her legs out of the water. She's oddly enough already dry by the time she's stood back up. "Ain't much we can do without the next piece of the puzzle. Kanako's still running Rikako and Rika through their paces though. Seems to think she'll be able to squeeze out more efficiency just by getting more bossy," She shakes her head.

"What for? They're done with everything as far as the portal, right?" I don't think that's an efficient use of anyone's time.

"Eh, Last minute checks. Kanako just wants to feel like she's doing something," So... She's nervous? I guess we all work through that in different ways, but it just seems like a waste. Rikako and Rika must have had other projects before this. What about this makes it worth them dropping everything? "She's invested at this point. I'm fine with Reisen needing another day, but don't be surprised if Kanako starts putting some pressure on you when she hears."

Ugh. Just what we needed. Top down pressure. At least we're used to stuff like that. "Noted."

"Anyway, yeah. I'll talk to Kanako later, so we'll see how your friend does tomorrow. You got anything else you need?"

She didn't phrase it like she's annoyed or anything, but just hearing Suwako ask that question does kind of make me realize that I've been asking her about a lot of stuff. It's just... I dunno. It's nice to have something of an authority figure that actually listens. Her appearance makes it feel a little bit surreal, but otherwise, Suwako's been really helpful so far. I guess if I'm not in a hurry to head back for the meeting that is going to happen sooner or later, I could talk to Suwako about a couple more things, though I dont't know if any of them are strictly necessary.

[ ] Stick around and talk to Suwako some more
- [ ] So... What is "goddess stuff"? It looks to me like you're just playing around with the frogs.
- [ ] I think I got the problem with my powers fixed. Do you think you could take a look again?
- [ ] Why is Kanako so invested in us succeeding? It doesn't seem like she's spent much on this whole thing.
- [ ] Um, so about yesterday... Did you drag Kanako away to give me and Ringo privacy? It's not really... Like that. Kinda.
- [ ] Would Elly have had a chance without her connection to the grassroots youkai network? It seems to me like having more security would be better than not.
- [ ] Other (Write-in)
[ ] Head back to the shrine
- [ ] Talk to Yuzuki
- [ ] Talk to Sanae
- [ ] Wait around for Ringo. We've got a meeting to get done with.
[X] Stick around and talk to Suwako some more
- [X] I think I got the problem with my powers fixed. Do you think you could take a look again?
- [X] Why is Kanako so invested in us succeeding? It doesn't seem like she's spent much on this whole thing.
[x] Stick around and talk to Suwako some more
- [x] I think I got the problem with my powers fixed. Do you think you could take a look again?

And if there's time after that...

[x] Head back to the shrine
- [x] Talk to Sanae
[x] Stick around and talk to Suwako some more
- [x] So... What is "goddess stuff"? It looks to me like you're just playing around with the frogs.
- [x] I think I got the problem with my powers fixed. Do you think you could take a look again?
- [x] Why is Kanako so invested in us succeeding? It doesn't seem like she's spent much on this whole thing.

Mori as a positive figure of authority. I never thought I'd see the day.
[x] Stick around and talk to Suwako some more
- [x] So... What is "goddess stuff"? It looks to me like you're just playing around with the frogs.
- [x] I think I got the problem with my powers fixed. Do you think you could take a look again?
- [x] Why is Kanako so invested in us succeeding? It doesn't seem like she's spent much on this whole thing.
[x] Stick around and talk to Suwako some more
- [x] So... What is "goddess stuff"? It looks to me like you're just playing around with the frogs.
- [x] I think I got the problem with my powers fixed. Do you think you could take a look again?
- [x] Why is Kanako so invested in us succeeding? It doesn't seem like she's spent much on this whole thing.
[x] Stick around and talk to Suwako some more
- [x] So... What is "goddess stuff"? It looks to me like you're just playing around with the frogs.
- [x] I think I got the problem with my powers fixed. Do you think you could take a look again?
- [x] Why is Kanako so invested in us succeeding? It doesn't seem like she's spent much on this whole thing.
File 150707243556.jpg - (762.10KB, 1020x1447, Messing with you.jpg) [iqdb]
[X] Stick around and talk to Suwako some more
- [X] So... What is "goddess stuff"? It looks to me like you're just playing around with the frogs.
- [X] I think I got the problem with my powers fixed. Do you think you could take a look again?
- [X] Why is Kanako so invested in us succeeding? It doesn't seem like she's spent much on this whole thing.

"Not exactly anything I need, no," Maybe it's not the best to admit this. I am kind of trivializing the questions I'm going to ask next, but I don't think I would identify them as mission critical or anything. I just happen to be curious enough to stick around and ask about them. I've got time, at least, I'm pretty sure that I do. Can only guess when Ringo isn't around to communicate what's up. "I did have a couple more questions though, if you don't mind."

"Don't mind," Suwako repeats, walking forward, passing by my side. "Walk with me though? I don't wanna just stand around and do nothing. Bit of a waste."

"Yeah, it'll keep you from doing... Goddess stuff?" I put extra effort into sounding confused as I turn to follow her, in the hopes that Suwako will catch the unasked question.

"Right, goddess stuff," Suwako agrees with a tiny laugh. I see her putting her hands casually behind her head, not even looking my way as she walks along. "Very busy. Very very busy... Nah I'm screwing with you. I'm just killing time," She laughs out loud.

"Right," That's what I figured, so I don't know why she went to the effort of pretending otherwise only to immediately give up on doing so. Either stick to the 'very powerful goddess' thing or don't. "I figured you were just uh, playing with the frogs really. But if you wanted to pretend otherwise, I can't exactly prove you wrong."

"Well then," Suwako turns her head toward the lake again, leaning back so she can see it from behind me even though I'm beside her. "Let's say that I'm not playing. Nope. Practicing. Practicing is a better word."

I would agree that it is, but the two things can be done at the same time, can't they? Just depends on the perspective really. "Practicing what?"

Instead of answering Suwako reaches out with one arm, pointing vaguely toward the lake. I follow her gesture, not seeing anything but water at first. A short time later though, something changes. The water shifts a bit, small waves seeming to emanate outward from where I'm looking. Soon after, a column of dirt, maybe half a meter in diameter, breaks the surface of the water, creating a tiny island in the lake.

Ohh... Should I clap now?

"Creation and manipulation of earth. The ground and dirt, not the whole planet," Suwako says calmly, starting to walk again. I move to follow along, and can already see the small island start to break apart in the water, sinking away just as easily as it formed. "I can do other stuff of course, but this is a lot easier to do casually that most blessing stuff, and a lot more practical. I can shape the ground and the lake itself, make it easier for any animals that are struggling in there, while keeping the whole thing pristine and nice looking."

"Huh..." I... Don't really know much about Earth ecosystems, so I guess I'll take her word for it.

"Course, nature has a way of working these things out for itself, but eh," Suwako adds with a shrug. "Call it a hobby."

So is it playing, practicing, or a hobby? All three I guess? "... I still don't see how the frogs come into play, but... Okay."

Suwako pauses for a second, and I'm not sure if I caught her off guard or something. She ends up just chuckling. "I thought it might go over the head of a mortal like you, yeah."

"... Am I a mortal?" Putting aside the obvious dismissal of the question, I'll just move on. I don't think Suwako is going to give me a straight answer, and it isn't that important anyway. At least, not compared to where we've moved the conversation to now. "I mean, I kind of get the concept, but... Even talking about that kind of stuff is pretty much forbidden on the Moon."

"Well considering all the stuff you're doing to avoid dying, I damn well hope you're mortal," Suwako still sounds like she's joking around, even though I'm being serious here.

"There's a difference between that and..." How do I say this? Nobody I know has ever died. Nobody I know has ever appeared to get any older or anything that Earth people do. Injuries are treated with medicine and magic, sickness just doesn't happen, and if we age at all, I've never seen it happening. The whole concept is just not supposed to be a thing. Compared to down here, the culture is just... "It's kind of hard to explain."

"Yeah, I know," Suwako assures me, though I'm not feeling so confident in how calmly she's saying it. "We've dealt with your people before, remember? Or at least your bosses, for better or worse."

"Hm..." I definitely noticed that she still hasn't really answered the question, but at the same time, do I even want an answer to it?

... Maybe better to just move on.

"Anyway, speaking of not dying..." Okay, maybe not the smoothest transition there. "I um, did manage to get the problem with my powers fixed. At least, I think I did."

"What do you mean you think you did?" Suwako looks at me quizzically, cocking her head to the side.

I mostly mean that I can't actually believe it could be so simple. That it only took one day's worth of work to solve the problem. "Well the person that did it said it was kind of a maybe. Even though they seem to be working perfectly right now, they might screw up again overnight," I give the more rational explanation instead of the emotional one that I have in mind. "Do you think maybe you could check too? Give your input?"

Suwako lets out a little huff noise, taking her hands off of her head and allowing them to swing loosely by her side. "Pretty sure I said this, but you know I'm not classically trained for this, right?"

Not classically trained, but still able to see what was going on even easier than Marisa could. "I'd appreciate the second opinion anyway."

"Heh. I think you're a bit desperate, but I guess if it makes you feel better..." Coming to a stop, Suwako extends a hand out to me, palm up. "Shake."

"That again..." I'm still not a pet, you know...

The instant my hand makes contact with Suwako's I feel the goddess grab on and pull me toward her. Even with how small she is, it still makes me stagger forward. Wait, why is she looking at me like that? "OH NO!"


"Nothing. Just messing with you."

I... urgh...

As if she didn't just try to give me a panic attack, Suwako's voice and grip quickly go back to normal. "Anyway, let me take a look here..."

That really wasn't funny! At least, I'm not laughing about it. Suwako isn't laughing either, though she does look rather pleased with herself. A part of me wants to complain, but she is doing me a favor, so...

"Do you think making me panic helped or hurt?" I settle on asking a neutral question. I'm trying to imply that I'm not happy, although maybe that will just egg Suwako on even more.

"Hm..." Suwako just shrugs, the smile still stuck on her face as she looks intently at my hand and arm. "Yeah, I'm still not that great at getting what this is, but you definitely cleaned up shop a bit. You can still tell that there's some weirdness going on though."

"I still have powers," I agree. Really weird, dangerous powers. "They're just not as... Connected, I guess? I don't know exactly how this all works."

"That's what I was saying, but some people just don't listen." Oh, she means me. If it really bothered her, she could've just said no. "Anyway, far as I can tell, you're probably good to go... At least, better than before. The whole thing is a lot less nebulous. Whatever you actually did, it cleaned up your magic and your head just about right."

Not completely sure about the head part, but... "That's really good to hear. I guess all that's left is to practice with it, make sure I can do what I need to do," Whatever that ends up being.

"Mm, Kanako'll be happy to hear that we've got some more firepower at least," Suwako lets go of my hand and starts walking again, so I follow along. "Sanae being our lady out in the field isn't new exactly, but she's bit off more than she can chew before. More insurance to make sure things don't go wrong is welcome. Especially on Kanako's part."

"Why is Kanako so invested already?" This is something that I was already kind of wondering about, but I'm just now getting around to asking about it. "It doesn't seem like she's spent a lot of resources on making sure we succeed, not to be rude. It's just that as far as I can tell, she doesn't lose much if we fail, yet still seems to care a lot if we do."

"And I suppose you won't accept a simple explanation of her hating to lose?" Suwako asks, not even sounding very hopeful about it.

I mean, I guess that would be the easy way out, but it doesn't sound like that's even true. "Not if there's a better one available."

"Fair enough then," Suwako sighs and goes silent. I'm half tempted to push her to answer some more, but when I look, she seems to be thinking her answer over. "Well, it is true, Kanako hates losing out on things. More than that though, she hates being irrelevant. We've been biding our time, focusing on our own things for a while. Things that don't exactly put us at the forefront of public attention. Even if she's smart enough to know when to hold back, I don't think she likes it."

"This isn't exactly something that's going to show up in the paper though," I hope not at least.

"As long as we keep Aya away, sure, but it's still a big win for Kanako in a different way," "Stuff like this might not be for the general public, but people in the know are going to care about how it all plays out. It shows Eientei and the Moonies and even the people who aren't directly involved that we're still a threat. We can still mess with them if we need to. It's not exactly that this specific thing is going to hurt anybody, but as long as the threat exists that we can set something up like this again, we're worth listening to."

"Feels kind of indirect," Even if I can see the point. It'd be nicer if everyone could just sit down and negotiate better, but maybe that's too naive.

"Well that's the kind of level that Kanako operates on," Suwako shrugs. "When you can't do outright war, you go all politics all the time. You're a soldier, you oughta be used to this."

"Not really a soldier who has done anything like this before..." I don't think the situation is the same. Command didn't need to do politics with people on Earth. Even if they did, I was certainly never involved. That might be part of the problem though.

"Lucky," What's with the look? Is it really that amusing? "Don't worry about it too much though. And maybe don't ask Kanako this kinda stuff directly. She might not like it."

What? That seems a bit too... I mean, I'm used to it from back home, but... "That sounds suspiciously like a 'be quiet and follow orders' statement."

"Not really intended," Even though that's how it came out. "Plus, if the orders are there to make sure you don't get yourselves killed, it's probably worth it, yeah?"

I sigh. "Point," Just need to remember that Kanako and the rest of the shrine is doing this for us. Even if Kanako doesn't want to mess this up, she still stands to lose less than we do. We should be trying to please them, not the other way around.

"So, anything else?" Suwako asks after a brief pause. Even just through the course of this conversation, with all of our stopping and going, it seems like we've walked from one side of the lake to the other. That's if I'm judging off the wooden pillars properly.

Well... No. There are a couple of other things that come to mind, but I think I've asked enough questions and bothered Suwako enough. Even if I only half believe that she's actually doing anything relevant right now. That's fine either way. Nothing wrong with some leisure time.

... Though I wouldn't mind having some more of that myself. Maybe I've just been worrying too much lately. Not that that's anything new.

Well, it can wait. For now I should probably get back to the shrine, and...

[ ] Talk to Yuzuki
[ ] Talk to Sanae
[ ] Wait around for Ringo. We've got a meeting to get done with.

The meeting is going to happen soon regardless but eh.
[X] Talk to Sanae

Alright, be a good little soldier bunny around Kanako, got it. Anyway, I like your Sanae and think we should spend more time with her.
[X] Talk to Sanae
[x] Talk to Sanae

Sorry Yuzuki, NRFB's Sanae is just too adorable.
[x] Wait around for Ringo

Ringo option
[x] Wait around for Ringo. We've got a meeting to get done with.
[X] Wait around for Ringo. We've got a meeting to get done with.
[X] Talk to Sanae

Pretty sure I haven't voted yet so to break the tie.
File 150724468257.png - (1.35MB, 822x750, vices.png) [iqdb]
[X] Wait around for Ringo. We've got a meeting to get done with.
[x] Wait around for Ringo. We've got a meeting to get done with.

Guess I'll break this new tie in the other direction.
File 150760672661.jpg - (98.94KB, 500x500, Made it back eventually.jpg) [iqdb]
[X] Wait around for Ringo. We've got a meeting to get done with.

Yeah, I don't have any way of knowing when Ringo's going to get back unless I'm actually at the shrine when it happens. It's a pain to have gotten so used to instant, (mutli)global communication only to have it suddenly taken away like this. We still haven't updated our behavior very well to account for the difference. For example, I don't think anyone has any idea where Sumi is. Also, Ringo is duplicating my effort in talking to Reisen. It's not ideal, and all I can do is try to work around it.

"No, I think I'm okay. Thanks for all the help," I assure Suwako. I feel like I'm a bit more sorted out now, at least in some ways. There's something to be said for getting a perspective from someone who is so down to earth and knowledgeable. I kind of doubt that a whole lot of people think of her in the same kind of way, but then, they probably have more options. "You still going to keep at it here, or did you want to come back to the shrine too?"

Suwako glances back over the lake, though I don't think she's looking at anything in particular. "You know if Sanae said anything about dinner or not?" She asks.

"Other than inviting us to come along to it again, not really. It's probably going to be a bit." That might depend on what exactly Sanae is cooking, but I know she hasn't even started yet. At least, she hadn't before I left to come here.

"Hm, then I'll stay here. Get a bit more done. Lot's to do still, you know?" I catch Suwako eyeing me with a smirk. Probably joking, since I still have no idea how serious the goddess stuff is supposed to be. "Are you coming to dinner then?"

Sanae asked something similar, and I didn't really have an answer then either. "Uh, I'll have to talk to the others." I have no idea what the plan is for the rest of the night after all. I don't think that our meeting is going to cover anything that would force us away from the option, but it doesn't hurt to wait before committing to anything. "I personally wouldn't mind it though. It was..." Err, how do I describe this succinctly, given all that happened last night?

"From what I heard, you had a lot of fun," Suwako gives me a mischievous smile for some reason.

"It was different," I finish my earlier sentence. Definitely like anything back on the Moon, of course. "But fun is a good way to put it too." I admit. At least, most of it. I do have a bit of a concern about Ringo's health if she keeps drinking all the time. No way to know if that will happen every time we come for dinner or not.

"Good. I'll see you later then." And with that, Suwako strides back over to the lake, sitting down on the shore and resting her feet in the water. I take it that that means the conversation is over, though it's not like I had anything else to say. I give another half goodbye and lift off to fly back to the shrine.


So let me think here. As far as I'm aware, Ringo isn't back yet. It's possible that I could have just missed her coming back, but even if that's the case, it's not my job to gather everyone up. That's just asking for confusion. Yuzuki is still around somewhere, so as long as she's paying any attention whatsoever (and I know she will be), she can handle letting everyone know when it's time to group. I could signal her to make it easier but... Eh.

It's just that there's no real need, right? We'll all meet back up eventually, it doesn't have to be me that forces it to happen. It's... Yeah, I don't know, the more I think about it, the more awkward I feel about meeting up with Ringo separately. We're going to have to talk eventually, sure, but... Bleh. Just bleh.

For now... Oh hey, there's Sanae. She waves up at me when she notices that I've seen her. I'm not exactly sure what she's doing, but she seems to be doing walking around the grounds with enough purpose that I won't bother her. I've just been kind of sitting on the roof of the shrine, waiting. It didn't take long at all to get back here, but I wasn't exactly sure where I should go and what I should do. I figured that if Ringo wasn't back yet, I could just wait and watch until she was.

... Only problem is that it's a teeny bit cold up here. Not anything that I can't handle, but given the wind and the fact that the sun is pretty rapidly disappearing... Yeah. I don't know, it kind of feels good in a way. The good kind of unpleasant. I think I've thought that before, even if it is a weird kind of thought to think (heh). I don't know, I'm not tired, so it's not like it's waking me up. I'm not hot, so it's not like it's necessarily cooling me down. It just...

I almost sigh again. Maybe I'm feeling guilty. I've been avoiding Ringo all day. Justifiably, I think. Our schedules didn't exactly match up, and I don't regret what I managed to accomplish, but at the same time, we haven't talked since last night. Since that kind of major thing happened. Since that kind of major thing happened to screw my mind up even more, and I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to do or say about it. Even with all of Sumi's help after that, she only told me what she thinks I should be doing. Not the exact specifics of how to broach the topic.

I'm supposed to ask Ringo out on a date? How do you even do something like that? Even if I brought it up and she said yes, which in itself is really really weird to think about, what happens after that? Where do we go? What do we do? It's not like I'm experienced outside of Yamame. And she was the one that asked me out, not the other way around.

Ugh, I really don't need things to be all complicated like this. Not when I already have so much on my plate with the Moon portal thing. Not like complaining about it will do anything at this point though. I've already admitted to myself that I actually do like Ringo. You'd think it would have gotten easier after that point, but no, not really, no matter what Sumi might have said.

It's still a little early for the Moon to be out and visible, but I still find myself scanning the sky for it. Did I like things better when they were simple? Unpleasant in a lot of ways, but simple.

No, I guess not. At least, I wouldn't go back to that if I had a choi-

... Oh.

... And I hadn't even been thinking about that question, even though I know it's going to come up frequently until I really do decide. Until I really do decide, and tell people about that decision.

This time I actually do let out a sigh.


The only real measure of the passing of time I have at this point is watching as the sun sets the rest of the way and the Moon comes up to eventually take its place. I'm stuck sitting around and thinking, at least until I finally see a figure floating up the mountain and toward the shrine.


Even with it being night time now, her bright clothes make it pretty easy to see her in the ambient lighting that still remains from the stars and Moon. In contrast to the capital, there isn't much in the way of light pollution here in Gensokyo. Sorta like the mare bases.

Anyway, she doesn't appear to be in much of a hurry to make her way up here, but she's headed in my direction nonetheless. I try to think up something to say as I stand up to wave her down. Even after all this time, even with the conversations I've been thinking of in my head, I still have no idea what I'm going to say. That's even if I put the whole d-date thing aside and just worry about addressing all of the rest of the stuff between us.

... I really bit off more than I should have here, haven't I?

But it's too late to do anything about it. I see Ringo catch sight of me. Not exactly hard given that I'm the only thing moving in the area. The faint lighting from both the inside and outside of the shrine makes it pretty easy to see me, even with most of it being back or under lighting. Ringo doesn't really speed up, but adjusts her course slightly to make her way toward the roof that I'm sitting on, rather than landing in the courtyard or wherever else.

"Hyup..." Ringo makes a small grunt of effort as she sets down on the slanted roof a short distance away from me. Just about on the edge of speaking distance, I note. Not as close as normal, though I'm probably just reading too much into it.

... Err, maybe not. Neither of us are saying anything right now, and it's difficult to read Ringo's expression. I really shouldn't be panicking this early, but what am I supposed to say? Do I address the problem? Ignore it? Umm, ahh...

"I couldn't find Reisen," Ringo offers after a bit more worrying on my part. "Went to look in the usual place, but she didn't come by. I waited for like an hour."

Oh, okay, yeah. This is an easy topic, good start. This is why Ringo's the boss. "Oh, that. I already talked to her when I was finished with what I was doing. I wanted to tell you, but you were already gone by the time I got back here, so... Bit of a mixup."

"Bit, yeah," Ringo shrugs. "No big deal, this kind of thing can happen when we split up like we did today. We'll have to watch out for that in the future. I'll make a mental note, for all the good that might do," She smiles weakly at the bit of humor.

Hm, right. I hadn't exactly told Ringo what I had been planning on doing all day. She's completely in the dark about everything that's happened. A part of that might have been her avoiding me in the morning, but it's not like I tried all that hard to come back and check in with her either. A bit of blame on both sides, but all the rabbits have done similar things before. They'll probably do it again too. "Are we going to be splitting up again?"

"Dunno," Ringo fiddles at one of the loose tiles on the roof with her foot, not looking directly at me. "We'll figure it out though. I guess we should probably pick somebody out to be on Reisen duty over the next couple of days, just in case we can't meet up to go as a group."

That sounds reasonable enough. "Probably you or me then," I say. "Yuzuki might work too, but Chiyo and Sumi probably aren't the best for that sort of thing."

"Chi?" Oh right, Ringo doesn't know about that issue either. "Well, we can figure it out when we have a meeting. Don't suppose Sumi's around anywhere?"

"Not that I know of," Honestly, of all the rabbits, she seems to have hit the ground running the easiest with this whole 'living on Earth' thing. She's already made a bunch of contacts, and it's to the point where we have no idea what she might even be doing. Probably not the best for a military unit, but as a friend... Well, I'm glad as long as she's having fun. Provided that she can rein it in when we need her to.

Ringo grunts neutrally, finally giving up on the ceiling tile. "Alright, we'll worry about her later. Hopefully she doesn't wind up in jail again." Urgh, that's worrying to think about... I'd like to think she'll be more careful about that kind of thing now, but maybe not. "Anyway, Yuzuki's still around, right? I'll signal her, then we can get down to business."

"W-wait!" I find myself interrupting Ringo the instant she starts raising her arms.


... I hadn't really thought about what I actually wanted to say.

It's just that... Ringo hasn't actually said anything about what happened yesterday, or how she avoided me this morning. She hasn't said anything, and she seems just a little bit colder too. She's barely been looking at me this whole conversation. Now she just wants to move onto the meeting? Sure, that would be okay normally, but with all the stuff that could be said by either of us, that just feels premature. We have a moment of relative privacy, or at least I think we do. What's wrong with using that to work out this... Weirdness.

Of course, I have no idea how to actually do that. Maybe just putting it behind us would be okay... Or maybe Ringo will be more willing to talk about it later. Maybe I should say that we need to talk about it later.

Maybe... Maybe I should ask her about that um, that date thing right now... I'm still not completely sure where we stand, or even where I want us to stand, but the date thing was what Sumi suggested, so...

[ ] Don't say anything, just get on with the meeting.
[ ] Talk about what happened last night.
[ ] Get on with the meeting, but mention needing to talk things over later.
[ ] Suggest going out somewhere together. Alone... A date. (write in required for where/what)

I started with this update and it didn't go well. Eventually I scrapped the whole thing and went about it in a different way and I'm more okay with it now.

Honestly I've been stressing out a bit. I've been writing A LOT, but not so much for this story, which I feel bad about. Definitely still in this though. I even know where I'm going with it, just have to actually write it, which is always the hard part.
[X] Talk about what happened last night.
[x] Talk about what happened last night.

> feeling bad about being the most consistent writefag on THP

This light, it burns. I am not worthy.
[X] Get on with the meeting, but mention needing to talk things over later.

[x] Suggest going out somewhere together. Alone... A date.
-[x] Human Village

You need to talk about a ton of things and a rendezvous is the better way to go about it without worrying about the time.
[X] Talk about what happened last night.
[X] Talk about what happened last night.

Gotta clear things up before going forward.
[X] Talk about what happened last night.

Confront the situation head on!
[X] Talk about what happened last night.
[x] Suggest going out somewhere together. Alone... A date.
-[x] Underground Village

We already know where all the best date spots are! It's perfect!
[X] Talk about what happened last night.

Both Seiran and Ringo have boundaries and emotional needs, and going on a date with them being the elephant in the room or just trying to ignore the the events of the previous night both seem like they'd end poorly.
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[X] Talk about what happened last night.

This sucks... I want to take my time and think about how to address the issues here, but Ringo almost signalling Yuzuki kind of forced my hand. I had to stop her before she got anyone's attention, and now I have to think up what to say and actually say it. Easier said than done, especially for someone that typically needs time to think about what she's going to say ahead of time. Namely, me.

Although maybe... Yuzuki probably knows that Ringo is in the area already. Ugh, my timetable for this might be even shorter than I thought. What if she's on her way right now? I won't have time to cover everything that I need to say to Ringo in that case. Need to talk about the most important thing first and hope we don't get interrupted or Yuzuki somehow has the sense to not interrupt us. Not holding out hope for that second one.

"You..." No wait, is that too accusatory? Ugh, stressing out. Bad start. Get it together. "Um, we need to talk."

"Yeah, we're gonna have a meeting and talk to everyone." I'm not sure if she's being intentionally evasive or not. I'll pretend she isn't.

"Ringo," I tug a little harder on her arm just to let her know that I'm being serious here. "We need to talk about last night."

Ringo's already kind of forced smile freezes for a split second, but that doesn't last very long. Instead it falls away to a more dejected look as she sighs. Not moving to make me let go of her, Ringo still sits herself down on the roof with her legs dangling off the edge. Hm, I wonder what a shrine visitor would think about this, if they could see a couple of rabbit youkai sitting on the roof when they came for a visit. I haven't actually seen any visitors in all the time that I've been here, but it's totally possible that one will show up one of these times. At least, I'm assuming that.

"So..." Ringo's looking somewhere other than me, vaguely in the direction of the village, if I'm remembering correctly. I think that's more of a coincidence than anything else. "Guessing you wouldn't believe it if I pretended not to remember?" She asks in a way that even if the answer was yes, her tone would convince me that the real answer was no.

"You were drunk, but you weren't that drunk," This was 'drinking with employers' level drunk, not 'force fed by an oni' drunk. Even I have the good sense to know the difference there, even if I've only experience the one.

"Yeah that's what I figured," Ringo rests her elbows on her knees, leaning forward a bit closer to the edge than I would really like. Sure, we can fly, but I get nervous about stuff like that anyway. "Honestly, I don't know what you want me to say though. I messed up, I went to far, it's over and done with. If you're mad, and you have every right to be, I'll make it up to you. If we're cool, then I'd rather just pretend it didn't happen."

"That's not really..." Mad isn't really the right way to describe it, but I wouldn't just dismiss it and say that everything is cool either. It's more complex than that. False di... What was that word? I forget. Whatever. "I feel like we need to talk about it a little more than just that. I don't blame you for wanting to move on, I do to, but there's more to it than just being mad or not being mad."

Ringo stays quiet for a little bit, still just staring out at Gensokyo. I note that she's not really looking at the Moon at this point, which is weird, because that's where my eyes are naturally drawn. Might just be a difference in mindset though. She's already decided she's not going back, while I'm... I don't know. "... Like what?" She finally asks after a pause long enough for me to almost lose track of the conversation.

"Like..." Like a bunch of things, although the thing that mostly prompted this specific conversation is what I did after Ringo fell asleep, I guess. "I talked to Sumi about it after that," I explain, as if that's all the explanation I really need.

"Hoooo boy," Ringo lets out a long breath, shaking her head lightly. Of course, Sumi being as vocal as she is about things, Ringo would know what me talking to her would be like. "I'm sure she had a lot to say."

"Kind of, but it was more about what she wanted me to say. Or admit, I guess," It was a long conversation with a lot of different parts, but the biggest thing is really fresh in my mind. I don't really want to say it though, especially since I don't really know what would happen after that. If I tell Ringo that I probably like her back, sure it will make her happy, but... Things are complicated in a lot of different ways. I... Maybe I should hold off on that specific bit of information for right now, at least until I get a better plan about how I want that conversation to go. "Ringo, I'm still sorting things out. You know that. You're the one who asked me to do it, and I really am giving it honest thought, it's just that... It takes time. You want um, a specific kind of result, and trying to push it like that is... I don't know, I'm not good at this stuff."

"No, I got it. You don't have to worry about it," Phew, I'm glad that Ringo is so accepting of how bad I am at explaining myself. I kind of ran out of steam there, and I might not have gotten the point across that well, but Ringo seems to get it anyway. "I'm stressing you out, and it isn't fair. I get that. If anything, I'm glad that you don't seem all that mad. So here's what I'm gonna do then," Ringo finally turns to face my direction, holding up a hand and ticking off points on her fingers as she continues talking. "One; no more pushing you. I hadn't really meant to, and I really hate that I did anyway. Part two; no more drinking. Even if I like it, if it pushes me to do dumb stuff, then I'll leave it alone for as long as you think that I should. Three, no more jumping to conclusions. I um... Kind of assumed you were mad at me, so uh-"

"So you avoided me today." I finish for her.

"Yeah... Figured you'd notice that," The hand that Ringo was using to count off her points moves up instead to rub at her neck sheepishly. "It was dumb. If you were mad, I should have let you confront me. That's just good leadership. And now that you turn out to not be that angry, I just look kind of dumb. Wasted a bit of time we could have hung out."

Some of that is on me too though. It's not like I went looking for her, considering all the stuff I was working on. "Well, I kept busy just fine. That'll come up in the meeting though."

"Cool, cool," I can see Ringo visibly relax. This is probably the closest to normal that I've seen her in the past twenty-four hours. "We good then?" She asks. "Don't want things to be weird between us when we meet back up with everyone."

I'm assuming she means weirder than they already are, anyway. Ignoring the kiss itself, there's still the reason that it happened in the first place. "Um... Speaking of that, I kind of told Sumi that she could let the others know what's going on between us..."

Oh, and she was looking so much better just a second ago. "Ugh..." Ringo groans out loud and falls back to a grimace that's only partially hidden by her hand.

"If it helps, I was with Chiyo all day, and she never said anything about it," Sure, part of that might be just because Chiyo isn't that talkative or gossipy, but so what? It doesn't change that she left it alone. I guess it's possible that Yuzuki might say something embarrassing, but at this point, would it really be that bad even if she did? "I think they're letting us work things out by ourselves." Which of course means that everything is just on me. Ringo's already said her bit and left the ball in my court. The longer I don't say anything, the longer this weirdness surrounds all of my interactions with Ringo. But then... Things aren't ever really going to stop being weird, are they? Can't shove all of this back inside a box or anything. Ringo likes me.

... And as Sumi was so intent on getting me to say last night, I like her too.

"I guess that'll have to be good enough then," Ringo doesn't sound completely convinced, but does seem to brighten back up at least a little bit. "So, meeting?"

"Um, yeah," I could probably use a bit of time to get my thoughts in order, but hopefully I'll be able to do that while everyone groups up. "Are we going to have it right here, or...?"

"Don't see why not," Ringo stands back up, reaching her arms up to give the standard signal for Yuzuki to come here. This time I let her go ahead, even if...

Well... I guess we can move if we're causing a problem. Not like I have a better suggestion about where to go. At least, not all that close by. "Fine."


Yuzuki and Chiyo show up together shortly after that. Like Chiyo said when we got back here, looks like she was spending the between time searching for, and then talking to, Yuzuki. Don't know if it was about anything important, but then that's what the meeting itself is for.

We're grouped up in an row, rather than a proper huddle. I kind of blame the weird spot that we chose to hold the meeting actually. The area of roof we're on either means we sit in a line, or the ones of us that don't are noticably higher or lower than the others. I guess that wouldn't be a big deal, but the only person here who actually is higher ranked than us isn't really into power plays like that. The worst we got out of Ringo was giving her the head of the table back at our old camp, and even that didn't really matter much... Maybe I'm reading too much into this though. Doesn't matter that much. The end result is that we're all sitting along the edge of the Moriya shrine's roof, to varying degrees of comfort.

"Anybody have any idea where Sumi is?" Ringo asks before we get started. All responses are negative. I was with Chiyo all day, and I know that neither of us saw her at any point. Actually I had figure the one of us that had the best chance of talking to her at any point was Ringo, but I guess Sumi's been off on her own even more than I expected. Still not sure if that's something to worry about or not. "Hm... Well, I guess we'll give her a bit more time before we start talking about going out to find her."

"Ringo, you really need to talk to her about that," Yuzuki chastises, though Ringo just lets it roll off her back with a shrug. "I'm serious, what if she gets in trouble or blows our cover or something? You know she doesn't take things as seriously as the rest of us. Somebody needs to watch her."

"I didn't need anyone to watch you today," "But I guess you've got a point. I'll talk to her when she comes back, for all the good it'll do."

"Just punch her if she stops listening."

"Who, me? I'd never do something like that." "But anyway, we might as well get started for now. Standard meeting, what was everyone up to with their free day? No judgement here if you weren't one-hundred percent productive by the way. I'd rather have you happy and taking breaks than stressed out and trying to do everything. We'll start with Seiran."

Of course we'll start with Seiran. We always start with me. Of course, I saw it coming by this point. "Well, yesterday evening, I had a talk with Sanae about some things. I decided to follow up on them today, and it actually worked out pretty well..."

I launch into an explanation of my day, grabbing Chiyo, meeting Okuu, heading out to Marisa's house and learning stuff there, going all the way back to the Palace of Earth Spirits, going back to Marisa's again, having my powers fixed-

"FIXED?" Ringo yells out loud enough that I'm worried we're going to annoy Sanae or Kanako. They're probably inside the building we're sitting on by this point.

Maybe fixed is a little dramatic of me though. I can't help but be a little excited, sure, but there were some warnings to the situation that I haven't explained yet. "Um, well... Maybe. I'm supposed to go for a checkup tomorrow. It still remains to be seen if they'll stay like this but-"

"But that's all it took?" Ringo asks, incredulous. "One day of work with an Earth magician and now you're better?"

"She just said she doesn't know if she's better or not," Yuzuki points out, although she seems rather interested as well.

"Yeah whatever, that's not the point I'm getting at," Ringo waves vaguely in Yuzuki's direction, not even really looking at her. Her eyes are locked on me, obviously showing a lot of excitement. "How in the hell did the doctors and the scientists and all the rest of the lunarians fail to help you for decades when it only took some random Earth witch ONE DAY?"

"I've been wondering that too," Chiyo adds.

"I... I don't know what to tell you," Even though I completely agree with them. Honestly, I think we're all asking the same question, but that doesn't mean any of us have the answer. "I think that maybe um... Maybe they didn't tie the powers to the dream world like Marisa did?" I hazard a guess, but it feels flimsy. How could a society that built multiple portals specifically for moving through the dream world not think that magical effects might crop up related to that very thing? "Or maybe... I don't know. I'm not really an expert."

"Apparently neither are any of your doctors," Chiyo quips. Ringo exhales in amusement.

"Doesn't that seem a little bit strange though?" Yuzuki asks nobody in particular. "It seems weird to assume incompetence, but..."

"You think there's more to it," Ringo summarizes Yuzuki's point before she's even finished making it. She looks a bit skeptical about the idea. "Some reason why they never bothered to cure Seiran properly?"

"Maybe?" It doesn't sound like Yuzuki believes it very much either. "I agree that it doesn't really make sense, but..."

"Something to ask them about, at the very least. Maybe rub it in their noses too, depending on the answer," Ringo decides. I see Chiyo nodding, though Yuzuki spends a bit more time thinking it over before dismissing things off hand.

Honestly, rubbing people's faces in it seems a little bit mean-spirited, but I decide to leave the point alone. I'm happy enough to have my powers probably fixed and my nightmares probably gone. It's a bit difficult to drag me down into negative thoughts in that department, which says a lot considering the kind of person I am. I elect to just keep going on explaining my day, though that bit really is the highlight of it all.

Let's see, next up is... Right, once everything had been fixed, we went to go talk to Elly. Of course, I had neglected to set up the reasons as to why in my earlier explanation, so I have to double back on the time line of events a bit. I never claimed to be the best at explaining things, okay? Anyway, I move on, glossing over the village trip, which Ringo seems a little bit jealous of, then go on to meeting up with Reisen.

"She doesn't really have much to report. She's still working on checking with her sources," I say again, just like I told Suwako. "I decided it would be okay to give her another day before we started worrying about figuring out what other options we can scrap together."

"About that one, I guess I'll take my turn, since it deals with that. That is, as long as you don't have anything else to bring up Seiran?" After that... It was just me coming back here and a short talk with Suwako, but I don't think anything was said there that really needs bringing up at this meeting. I shake my head and gesture for Ringo to go on, and she does so. "I was working with Rikako today, since I owed her a favor. Most of it flew over my head, but I was basically answering a bajillion questions about the Moon and what kind of tech we have. I probably wasn't enough to completely satisfy her curiosity, but I did what I could. We eventually started talking about what would actually work to help attune the portal and get us through the dream world more easily," Ringo folds her arms over her chest, looking a bit proud of herself. "I floated the idea of using us."

"Us?" How would that even work?

"Yeah, or it worked out more specifically to being just one of us," Ringo explains to my tiny interjection. "All of us are magical by nature, and attuned, whatever that means, to our homeland and the capital itself. Maybe not as strongly as a rabbit that has always lived there, but still as a last resort, one of us could be used to point the portal toward where we're going." She explains. Huh... That actually sounds like a solution. Odd she didn't bring it up immediately. Maybe there's some caveat to it?

"Why only one of us?" Sounds like Chiyo also came to that same conclusion that I did.

"And why would it be a last resort?" Okay, Yuzuki too. We're all on the same page then.

"Because whoever was used to point the thing would have to stay behind until we solved the problem on the other end," Ringo continues. "Way I had it explained to me, having a magic artifact or whatever would be a lot better because they could keep the portal attuned while all of us used it. If we used one of us for the job, whoever it was wouldn't be able to use the portal while they're doing it. We'd be down a rabbit before we even got started."

Ah, okay, so one person would have to stay at the portal while the rest of us went in to solve the problem. "Still better than nothing, but..."

Ringo nods at my assessment. "Granted. I'm not ruling it out, but considering how we know that the dream world is dangerous, not to mention somebody in there is holding the capital hostage, I'd rather avoid cutting our fire power back," I recall the baku that I ran into while sleeping through Marisa's ritual... Yeah, that place could be dangerous if it's filled with youkai like that, not to mention people who can easily deal with youkai like that too.

"Hm... What about the drone?" Yuzuki asks suddenly. Oh right, I hadn't even been thinking about that. Even if it's broken, it still comes from the Moon.

"Not magically connected. Electronics and radio waves, but not magicBelieve me, I was with Rikako all day, that came up already when she was grilling me about the thing," Ringo shakes her head sadly for a moment, then moves on. "But yeah, that's all I got, who's up next? Chi?"

"I was with Seiran all day. Nothing new to report that she hasn't said already." Err, she's kind of selling herself short there, I think. Maybe there's a good reason for it, but she didn't even mention her decision to stay here... Well, I guess I won't out her like that, though she does have to bring it up eventually. Honestly, Chiyo needs to talk to the others more in general... Or just communicate at all. She's been pretty quiet ever since the whole Reisen thing.

"Fair enough I guess," Since I don't call Chiyo out on anything, Ringo buys the short explanation easily enough and moves on. "Yuzuki?"

"Err..." Surprisingly, Yuzuki doesn't answer right away. She seems a little nervous about doing so actually. "Well... I was at miss Hina's shrine all day, actually..." She answers vaguely.

"Ah, young love," Chiyo chuckles to herself. Yuzuki pointedly ignores her.

"Miss Hina happened to come by again today. I... Lost track of time," She explains, sounding embarrassed for herself, though maybe only because of Chiyo's jab.

"All day long?" That doesn't seem like normal Yuzuki behavior at all. Yuzuki looks a little uncomfortable, but eventually nods sheepishly.

"Did she have any leads?" Ringo asks, surprisingly not joining in on Chiyo's ribbing of Yuzuki's time usage.

Yuzuki shakes her head back and forth once, almost mechanically, though that's fairly normal with her. "Well... I did ask about that in vague terms, but... No. miss Hina doesn't know of anything magically connected to the lunar capital."

"Eh, it's fine. Hope you had a good time at least," Ringo shrugs it off, quickly changing subjects. Hm, seems like she's defending Yuzuki from Chiyo a little bit. That's nice of her. "So okay, sounds like we all got things done when left up to our own devices. That's good, because tomorrow is probably going to be similar. We don't have too many more days before we have to find a solution though, so here's hoping that Reisen pulls through. If not, we've at least got a backup plan for last resort, so don't panic too hard, alright?"

Even if I hadn't already known that that last bit was aimed at me, Ringo putting her hand on my shoulder would have confirmed it. "I'm okay," I assure her. Honestly, I'm in a better mood than usual right now. Even if things are a tiny bit weird with Ringo at the moment, my powers are kinda sorta fixed, and we have at least one possible solution to getting to the right place in the dream world. As long as we keep at it, things can only get better from here.

"Good," Ringo nods, spinning her body and jumping up to her feet in a manuever that I definitely wouldn't have attempted while standing on the roof like this. "So meeting's over now, let's get going somewhere less windy. It's getting kinda cold up here."

It was her idea to meet up here in the first place, but whatever. "Sanae invited us to eat at the shrine again," I point out. Though there's probably going to be a bit of a wait before the food is actually ready. "We could just go... Downstairs, more or less. If you wanted to anyway."

"Because that went so well yesterday," Chiyo... Err, is she referencing the Ringo thing right now? She hasn't said anything all day, and I don't know what specifically Sumi did or didn't say about what's going on with me and Ringo. I might just be getting self conscious over nothing.

"It did though," Ringo says, stretching her arms out for no real reason. I think she might be trying not to look me or Chiyo in the eye. "Well, the meal itself at least."

"I wouldn't mind trying tetris again," Yuzuki adds, also standing up.

"Tet-ris?" Ringo repeats. Oh right, she was too busy drinking to find out about Yuzuki's new found love of video games.

"What are you gonna do Seiran?" Chiyo asks me. "I want to head back to the plant."

Hm, that's a good question. Obviously stopping at the shrine would be the easiest thing, but I'm a little concerned about Sumi still. She might show up here or the plant and have no idea what everyone else is up to, if she even cares. I wouldn't mind having a chance to talk to her, or any of the other rabbits. Hm...

[ ] Go to the Moriya Shrine for dinner. Yuzuki will probably monopolize the video games again, but there's plenty of other stuff to do.
[ ] Head back to the plant and eat. It'll be quieter, but I don't really mind that.
[ ] Stick around outside for a little longer, just in case Sumi shows up.

No I'm not trying to go to weekly updates. I promise.
[x] Go to the Moriya Shrine for dinner. Yuzuki will probably monopolize the video games again, but there's plenty of other stuff to do.

[x] Go to the Moriya Shrine for dinner. Yuzuki will probably monopolize the video games again, but there's plenty of other stuff to do.
[X] Stick around outside for a little longer, just in case Sumi shows up.
[x] Go to the Moriya Shrine for dinner. Yuzuki will probably monopolize the video games again, but there's plenty of other stuff to do.

Might as well, Sanae is fun to hang out with.
[X] Go to the Moriya Shrine for dinner. Yuzuki will probably monopolize the video games again, but there's plenty of other stuff to do.
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[X] Go to the Moriya Shrine for dinner. Yuzuki will probably monopolize the video games again, but there's plenty of other stuff to do.

Heading back to the plant... Well, I already know that I'm going to wind back up there eventually. Why rush it now when I have a more welcoming option? Also free food. Free food helps too. Dango back at the village weren't that expensive, so I still have some Earth money left over, but why not save that for when I need it instead? Yeah, I'm pretty willing to take advantage of the Moriya's hospitality... Or take advantage of it more, if we're being honest. They've already supplied the place we're staying and shelter, and... Yeah, a whole lot of stuff.

If I was a cynic, I would wonder whether they're expecting more out of us than what they're saying... I'm not really that jaded though.

... Although I am enough of one to think that thought in the first place. Not sure what that implies.

"Um, I think going to the shrine is a better idea than heading back right now," I tell Chiyo, though obviously the other two listen as well. "Are you sure you want to go all the way back?" It seems a bit out of character for her to waste the convenience of an easy meal. She still gives me a small nod in response though. "... And you're sure you're okay?"

The low light up here doesn't do much to hide Chiyo's eye roll. "Yeah, I'm fine," She says in a way that seems like it's hiding her exasperation. "I've just got a lot to think about still."

While that makes sense, I can't help but notice that she's been thinking about things silently for quite a while now. It's a little worrying, but I don't think that rushing her to talk will do any good. "Okay, fine."

"Actually, this works out pretty well," Ringo chimes in, sounding optimistic. "We stay here, she goes back. Bases are covered for finding Sumi, assuming she comes back up at all, that is."

That's... Ugh. "You're not really helping me avoid worrying when you say it like that..." I mutter quietly. Ringo just smiles in response and pats me on the shoulder.

"We can't do anything about Sumi regardless. Either she comes back on her own or we have to go looking for her tomorrow," Yuzuki reasons calmly. She's being reasonable, though reasonable also doesn't mean reassuring. Another rescue mission? Here's hoping it doesn't come to that. Although the last one did lead to some pretty positive things over all... "Just remember to be careful on your way home Chi. If you can't find the entrance in the dark or anything goes wrong, come back up here I can take you back down if you need me to."

"Uh huh," Hey, you don't have to sound so unenthused Chiyo. If anything, Yuzuki's being less coddling than usual. "Whatever. I'll be fine," And before anyone can say anything else on the subject, Chiyo drops off the roof, catching herself in the air half way down before floating off in the general direction of the plant.

"So... Dinner then?" Ringo suggests with a smile.


It's not exactly as simple as just showing up and eating. While Sanae seems rather pleased when we come in and tell her that we want to join in, she still has prep work and cooking to get through. From the sound of things, Suwako and Kanako both aren't even here yet, so dinner isn't exactly imminent. Maybe another twenty minutes to a half hour or something? Maybe less if we can help out with the remaining work.

Sanae doesn't appear all that used to delegating tasks, which is a bit of a difficulty. Ringo at least knows enough about that to make suggestions that Sanae sees fit to go along with, so the end result is good enough. The four of us get to work, staggered or awkward as it may be. There isn't exactly a decent amount of space, nor are there enough jobs for all of us to be busy at the same exact moment. Chatter starts cropping up, though I don't mind that at all.

"Oh yeah, Yuzuki," Sanae starts at some point in the middle of chopping up some vegetables. "Thank you so much for helping clean things up! Even if you didn't quite finish up, it was still a really good start. Moving so many of the things that are on the bottom of the piles was an interesting approach. It looks like you were still in the middle of things though, are you going to keep going? No pressure to do it either way of course. You've already helped a lot."

"Your welcome?" Yuzuki seems a little surprised. "But you're incorrect on one thing, the shed is organized now. I don't have anything else that I want to do to it."

"Eh?" Oh, yeah, I figured something like this would happen. Somebody should have warned Sanae about Yuzuki's habits, but I guess that nobody was around to do so. It sounds like the storage area of the Moriya shrine is now perfectly organized for Yuzuki and literally nobody else. "Uhm... W-well..."

"Speaking of which," Yuzuki continues on, either not noticing Sanae's confusion or not caring. "You're not cutting those properly. The pieces aren't even enough."

"Huh?" To anyone with normal vision, myself included, I'm pretty sure that what Sanae's already done would be pretty impressive. Still not good enough for our perfectionist though.

Yuzuki drops what she was doing, instead crossing the room and stopping right next to Sanae. She holds a hand out expectantly. "May I?" Sanae looks rightfully bewildered.

"Should probably just let her do her thing," Ringo cautions from off to the side where she is obviously not doing any actual work. "Let her get it out of her system. Otherwise she'll find something else to do, like sharpen all your knives."

"I can hear you." Yuzuki shoots Ringo an annoyed look that is returned with a shrug. "Although now that you mention it," Yuzuki turns, glaring intently at a closed drawer nearby. "Those could use a bit of sharpening... I'll make time for that too."

"Err, wait," Sanae hands Yuzuki the [something or other] rather quickly. "I'd be happy to listen to your advice," She says. She does know that the knives thing... Well, it wasn't really a joke, but it wasn't supposed to be threatening either.

Guess there was a good reason that the rest of the unit gradually learned to either let Yuzuki do all the cooking or keep her out of the kitchen entirely.


Sanae's own communication with her goddesses really does seem convenient. Of course, what us rabbits had fulfilled the same purpose just as well, but our current situation suggests that it's a lot easier to knock out than the divine connection thing that Sanae has. Anyway, Kanako and Suwako are notified at some point in the middle of our cooking, I barely even notice Sanae doing it too, so I guess add stealthy to the list of advantages on her side. The goddesses arrive shortly after that, one after the other. Suwako first, then Kanako. They don't actually come into the kitchen to greet us, but wait in the same living room as last night while the four of us finish up cooking.

Actually, it kind of raises the question about if goddesses even need to eat in the first place. Obviously they can, but do they need to? Do they eat faith for sustenance and eat food for fun? It's idle curiosity, but I'm not sure if I want to ask... The answer hits me after a bit more thought anyway.

Thinking about it, Sanae herself does have to eat. She's more or less a human, going by her own explanation of the whole living god thing. Regardless of the other two occupants, there's going to have to be meals for her at some point. With that in mind, I can totally get the goddesses showing up to talk and enjoy a part of the evening together as a group. Heck, our unit would do similar things back on the Moon all the time. Even with weird shifts or different patrol routes, we'd still meet up to eat together and complain about work or talk about things to keep each other busy. Same thing here, just different subjects.

The food being good helps too. It's not a hotpot tonight, which makes it feel a bit less social, but that's fine. We've all got our own plates. I'm actually pleasantly surprised that I don't have to remind Sanae that Yuzuki and I don't eat meat, but Ringo does. She remembered from our meal yesterday and planned out things accordingly. Enough vegetarian stuff that Suwako felt a need to comment about 'rabbit food' before remembering who she was eating with. Or maybe she was just pretending to forget in the first place. Sanae finds it funny either way.

Although I do note that she didn't give Ringo a disproportionately larger amount of food. That would have also fit with the pattern from yesterday, though if anything I'm perfectly okay with not continuing it. Ringo doesn't need to eat that much. She just likes to.

Kanako does press us for information a little bit over the course of the meal, but considering I've already given my report on how the day went down more than once, it's not hard to explain it again. In fact, Suwako and Sanae have both heard it before, so they help as well, explaining things in ways that are probably easier for Kanako to accept without worrying or being unhappy with the job that us rabbits have been doing. Not that I get that impression either way.

In fact, it comes out that Kanako also knows that bit of info that Ringo and Rikako figured out. The stuff about us having a last resort way to get to where we're going by leaving one of us rabbits here to point the portal in the right direction.

"I would encourage you all to plan for that eventuality," She says evenly, pausing from her food to talk more seriously. Yuzuki and I respectfully pause as well, though it would obviously take a bit more than that to get Ringo to wait. "Don't rely on it, continue on like it doesn't exist, but in the case that things don't work out, you should be able to fall back on the less ideal strategy. It's important to have back up plans."

"And backup plans for your backup plans and backup plans for those too, just in case they don't work out. We get it," Suwako says, sounding exasperated as she idly pushes some of her rice around on her plate. "Of course, doesn't matter how many plans you have if they just get blown up every time you attempt them. Ask miss 'take over Gensokyo in five easy steps' here about that one."

"Even if the plans that are made can't account for every possibility, it is still essential that planning happens regardless," Kanako still sounds composed even if she's obviously annoyed at being undercut by her fellow goddess. "Even you must see the wisdom in that."

"Sure, but I'm also seeing that the planning stops the instant that they actually get in the portal," Suwako says. Right, that is kind of a good point. Even when we get into the dream world, aside from the portal hopefully pointing us in the right direction to find the capital, we don't know what's actually in there. "What are the steps after that, oh grand war goddess? Throw Sanae and Reisen at the problem until it works?"

"Hm," Kanako folds her arms over her chest, looking thoughtful. "I've had concerns about that as well, but there's precious little we know about the workings of the dream world. Talking with Rika may be in order."

"Because that always goes so productively," Suwako hides her smug smirk by taking a bite of rice. Kanako still shoots her an unimpressed look.

"Oh yeah, I was thinking about this before, but Suwako-" Ringo takes a moment from her eating to start talking, and I quickly nudge her with my elbow. "What?" I look at her intently, gesturing with my eyes toward Suwako. "Oh, right. Lady Suwako just said it, right? The plan is to bring Reisen along too, since she's packing way more firepower than the rest of us rabbits. Does she even know where the plant and all the portal stuff is? Should we tell her? We're not doing much to bring her into the operation."

"We're hedging our bets, I suppose," Kanako responds, uncrossing her arms. "While it's true that Eirin knows about the existence of the power plant, we have no reason to think that the easier to get to entrance is public knowledge. We'll discuss what information to supply Reisen with soon, after she's contributed more to this deal."

That seems a bit... Unnecessarily cautious. Reisen's trying to help things along too. Honestly, if we're planning on having her, the only reason I can think of to not bring her in on discussions like this is her curfew, and that's not even something that Kanako controls. "... Do you not trust her?"

"Reisen, despite current behavior, is still loyal to Eirin," Kanako explains. "She's likely to stay like that after the crisis is resolved as well. If we can get away without sharing unnecessary information, I see no reason to give anything up."

"But..." I'm not really sure what argument to use here. It just seems like a waste. Before I can get my words together though, I catch Sanae shaking her head at me. Hm, seems like I should cut this short instead. Darn. "Okay, fine." I guess to some extent, it's impossible to avoid some Gensokyan politics when you're dealing with people like this.

"Very good then, speaking of firepower then, I'd be interested in hearing what your unit is capable of..."


After a discussion about danmaku (and our lack of proficiency in it), things more or less calm down. Dinner is a pretty easygoing affair after that, even though I do feel a little bad. I'm a bit better off than say, Yuzuki or Chiyo in the offense department, but it feels like I can't contribute much to our offensive capabilities aside from the whole 'being a warm body' thing. Sanae and Reisen just have so much more practice in the subject.

We finish up eating, then clean the room and the kitchen up. Suwako makes some vague references to drinking again, but nobody seems all that interested in the idea this time thankfully. That leaves the rest of the evening open to do whatever.

For some value of whatever...

[ ] I'll talk to somebody (Who?)
[ ] I'll spend some time by myself, think about things
[ ] I'll head back to the plant
[ ] I'll see if anybody wants to practice danmaku
[x] I'll talk to somebody (Who?)
-[x] Ringo

All the misunderstandings have been cleared up. Now its time to clear our schedules for a date.
[x] I'll talk to somebody
 [x] Yuzuki

What? It's been a while.
[X] I'll see if anybody wants to practice danmaku
[X] I'll see if anybody wants to practice danmaku

Got to test those new powers.
[x] I'll see if anybody wants to practice danmaku
[X] I'll see if anybody wants to practice danmaku

For one Seiran still needs practice if she's going to master this essential gensokyo life skill, for two she hasn't really given her newly under control powers a test drive yet.
[x] I'll talk to somebody (Who?)
-[x] Ringo

Long long overdue date planning is a go
[X] I'll see if anybody wants to practice danmaku

Hammer time?
File 150881678196.jpg - (1.17MB, 4134x2953, The lesson plan is up to you.jpg) [iqdb]
[X] I'll see if anybody wants to practice danmaku

It was something that was only vaguely alluded to during our conversations over dinner, but it's something that I've kind of been thinking about as well. When discussing our offensive options for the journey into the dream world. Only Sanae and Reisen are being brought into consideration. The five (or it may even end up being four) of us outsiders to Gensokyo are on such a lower level compared to the two of them that we're not even really worth counting as an asset. At least, that's the impression that everyone seems to have arrived at. Granted, we haven't exactly done much to challenge that idea. Ringo and I were both soundly beaten by Reisen, and since then, what have we even done? I almost lost to Cirno, that's about it on the danmaku front. We've been talking our way out of most encounters rather than fighting. While I might prefer that, the way that the encounter with Marisa was going, it really does seem like danmaku is a more essential skill than we've been treating it.

Luckily, I've gotten a bit of an upgrade in that department today.

Truthfully, I'd like to have more time to experiment. I had years and years and years to figure out how my powers used to work. Now things are different. Even though Marisa may have had me go through some simple tests of using regular bullets, projectiles, and danmaku, that wasn't even close to the same level of understanding that I used to have. If this power of mine turns out how I think it might... Well, maybe I can help out more than anyone would expect. I'd like that.

Not that I'm looking forward to the violence, of course. I just have a feeling that that's the way this is going to go.

So that's the idea. Now I need to nail down the specifics a little bit more. Where can I go to do this? What if I overdo it an wear myself out? Should I bring somebody else along? Surprisingly I'm not feeling too embarrassed about mentioning the plan to other people, so I could probably figure most of this stuff out just by asking one of the people who actually lives here. One of them in specific comes to mind for that actually.

"Hey Sanae," People are still milling about, cleaning up a bit, deciding on what to do for the evening when I take a chance to ask the girl most likely to have spent any time practicing. The other two have goddess powers after all. Honestly I'd feel a little better having a slightly more private conversation, but better to ask now before she gets absorbed into something else. "Do you have like, a spot that you practice danmaku?"

"Practice?" Sanae repeats automatically. Hm, not the most encouraging response there.

"Well it's just that my powers work differently after that thing with Marisa," I elaborate quickly. "I'd like to get a better handle on them sooner rather than later."

"Ohh, I get it," Sanae nods a couple of times, pausing in the remaining bit of cleaning up she was doing to consider my question. "Hm, well, let me think. A lot of my practice was done before coming here. I don't really have a designated spot or anything..."

Hm, before coming to Gensokyo. Has Sanae said how long ago that was? Surely she's still had to work on it a bit in the time since then. "Well what have you done since moving here?"

"Err..." Sanae suddenly looks kind of awkward, which only draws the attention of the rest of the room to her, which makes it worse. Man, I can really relate to that. Sorry Sanae. "M-mostly just gone out and found troublemaking youkai to fight," She answers, sounding like she's reluctantly admitting to it. "You see, I was kind of really excited about the shrine maiden job when I first got here. I wanted to make a good impression, so I went at my duties of protecting the humans as hard as I could..."

"Yeah, youkai extermination," Suwako snickers from where she's sprawled out casually on the ground. "That was a fun phase."

"L-lady Suwako please!" Yep, definitely embarrassed now. Sanae waves her hands nervously as if to try and swat what Suwako is saying out of the air. "U-uhm... I kind of had this idea about what I should be doing going in and I was very... Proactive about it. I calmed down a lot after I had a few incidents under my belt and I had a chance to sit down and talk to Reimu about things... Besides, it's not like it hurt anybody... Much."

Sounds like a bit of a sore point. I won't press on it then. Honestly, if the people here are going to look beyond us almost purifying everything in Gensokyo, we owe it to them to look over Sanae non-lethally attacking a few random youkai. "I'm not really going to judge," I say, dismissing the topic. "That kind of stuff seems pretty normal. Gensokyo is kind of violent in general, I guess."

"We are not!" Oh, whoops. I meant for that to calm her down, but Sanae seems pretty distressed instead. "O-okay... Most of the time," She admits after a short pause. See? No big deal.

"Anyway, I don't think that Seiran should go out hunting youkai," Ringo chimes in. I'm inclined to agree. "We might end up running into somebody we know," Right, like one of the members of the grassroots youkai network. I'd hate for Sanae to attack any of them.

"Not that that stops people from shooting at each other most of the time," Suwako counters, chuckling to herself as she nudges Kanako a couple of times. The larger goddess doesn't react.

"Okay, we might end up running into somebody we know and have no reason to shoot at," Ringo amends.

Suwako laughs out loud at that. "Still doesn't rule out danmaku!"

People who don't know each other, shooting at each other for no reason. Can't say it doesn't gel with the image I've already built up. "... And you're saying that this place isn't violent?" I ask Sanae.

"Eheh... Heh," Nervous laughter isn't really an answer, Sanae. "Um, a-anyway, how about we practice against each other instead? I can go easy, you can try things out. It'll be fun!"

Even if I had a problem with it, Sanae appears to already be standing up to go. I guess she's already decided she wants to help out. Fair enough. "Sure. Where are we going?"

"Outside is fine," Sanae decides while I'm standing up and grabbing my mallet so I can follow along. "It's not that late, and even if it was, we don't really have neighbors to bother. Miss Ibaraki's on the other side of the mountain, and even if the tengu get curious, they won't say or do anything about it. Lady Kanako is pretty strict about them not messing with our business up here."

Hm, not a perfect reassurance I don't think, but I'll live with it. "Ooh, I'll come too!" Ringo says, scrambling to get up and follow along. A quick glance back shows that Yuzuki, Suwako, and Kanako all seem uninterested. Guess the three of them will be staying behind. Hopefully they can play nice. I don't actually know how things went last night, come to think of it. Did they all play video games together? I was a bit too preoccupied to join in.

Oh well, I've got a bit more to worry about right now.


Not exactly ideal conditions for a fight out at the moment. When we're outside, the only light we have remaining to work with is the lights from the shrine building and surrounding grounds. Not exactly enough to see each other properly when flying around. Even the dream world had more ambient lighting than I can see right now. This is more similar to being at one of the mare bases during night time on the Moon. During those times where we'd be without sunlight for what amounts to days and days worth of Earth time. Back then we would only have the lights in the bases and our own low light vision to rely on, and that was barely sufficient. This is a bit more manageable, though I wonder how well Sanae is going to be able to manage.

"Danmaku's pretty good at making its own light anyway," Ringo says, her head craned up to look at the stars.

"I guess so," It's not exactly what I would use to see, but then, I also have that light spell thing that I figured out. Still a little proud of that. Maybe I should show it off while we work on... "Err, actually, what did you have planned for us to do?"

"Planned?" Sanae repeats cheerfully. "Well what did you want to do, Seiran?" Turning that around on me, well I guess I was kind of vague. I just asked about practice. You'd think that Sanae would have gotten more clarification before joining in if she didn't have an idea of her own though. "I don't really know that much about your abilities, so I would start with that, but if you had a plan in mind we can do that instead."

"Err..." Maybe I was kind of relying on Sanae a bit much once she agreed to come along. I wasn't really thinking about a plan. To be fair though, she did end up suggesting something that I'm perfectly happy to go along with. "Okay, sure. I guess I can start talking about my power, at least as far as I understood it, then we can see how it's different now."

We make our way back to an open area in the shrine grounds, behind the main building, but not quite to the stuff further back and away from the more public facing front areas. This seems like a good enough spot. Open. If we do anything danmaku related, we should be able to avoid causing too much property damage if we do it above this area. Granted, I don't know what Sanae is capable of, but I doubt she would want to blow up her house or anything. Probably.

"So..." I guess this is all on me now. "Some of this might be a me repeating things that you guys already know, but I'm just going to talk through everything I know, if that's okay."

"Sure," Sanae prompts, smiling gently at me. "Go ahead."

"Okay..." Deep breath. I haven't really explained all of this before. Don't really have a prepared speech for it. It might end up a little bit rambly. I know I'll be able to cover everything, but maybe not efficiently. I might also throw in some information that isn't necessary, but that's just the risk I'm running here when going off the cuff.

So I just start talking. It's stream of consciousness, but I'm pretty sure I hit all the points that I need to hit. I cover how my power was, before today, an always on connection to an alternate dimension full of projectiles. Bullets and other similar stuff. I cover how I'm able to pull those projectiles out using my hammer or even my hands. As long as I could see a bullet, I could pull it through whatever connection I was looking through, then fire it off.

I talk about the whole process and how it is from my perspective. Stop suppressing the power, find the shot that I want, pull it, let it go, and physics takes care of the rest. I talk about the difficulties of staring into another dimension, how it would give me a headache or at the very least make me dizzier the more I looked at it. I talk about how the connection being always there meant that it could seep into my dreams, and how I would shoot bullets off in my sleep whenever a nightmare would get particularly intense. Ringo is, of course, especially sympathetic for this part, though she thankfully knows not to interrupt me once I've gotten on a roll.

Of course, that leads into my meds. Obviously I couldn't be a danger to everyone when I was in the military, so the medication was meant to help me suppress the effects by knocking me out while I slept. I don't know the exact mechanics of how it works, but that was never really that important to me. It was a way to be relatively normal and not hurt the people around me. Even if the trust was already gone by that point and I was stuck as an outsider to the rest of the lunar defense corps, it was still something.

But now... "Things are different now, obviously. Marisa messed with the connection to the dream world in order to fix the problems," I say, finally getting back to the present day, thankfully. "But I'm not sure how much they actually did, or if anything else happened as a result. Marisa had me run some tests, but they weren't extensive. At least not as extensive as years of experimentation."

"Years?" I just shrug at Sanae's question. It's not like I had much else to do while on patrols in the middle of nowhere. "Well what do you know already?"

Okay, well, this is a nice list to go through actually, let me see if I can remember everything that I've already figured out. "My powers don't give me a headache or make me dizzy anymore. I can use them until they exhaust me magically and I don't feel even the slightest bit sick," I start ticking off points. "I know that my powers are connected to the dream world specifically, because that's what Marisa worked on to fix the problem," Though I still have no idea how that actually works or what it means functionally. "I have better control over the orientation and flight path of projectiles now, and can pull more things through more easily," Though I still can't decide what's available. "I'm... I don't know this for a fact, but now that the connection is fixed, I might not get nightmares or fire off bullets in my sleep anymore."

Ringo seems to perk up at the last point, but doesn't say anything about it. Instead, it's Sanae that keeps things going. "Oh wow, that sounds like a serious power up! Like a shonen manga or something!" She says excitedly. I don't follow, but I guess this is just Sanae being Sanae some more. "Okay, so this is a training arc then. Makes sense," She nods sagely to herself.

"Um, but even with all that, it doesn't really matter if I don't know how to do danmaku properly," I continue on to the main reason I even brought this whole thing up. "Bullets are lethal force, so I can't use them for a duel. My power is really limited by that."

"The randomness also means that you can't use it for spell cards either," Ringo adds. Right, that's another thing. All of my spell card patterns are completely bullet power free, just because I couldn't think of a way to make them otherwise. Too many unknowns.

"Oh, that's not that big of a deal actually. At least not as much as you'd think," Sanae says. Wait, really? I was never really told the full rules, but I thought that things like these had to be defined ahead of time for them to be part of a card. "Not every attack is a completely rigidly defined pattern. Some people do have random elements to their attacks."

Oh. Some randomness. "Probably not as random as my powers are."

"Hm... Maybe," Sanae says thoughtfully, putting a hand to her chin and thinking for a moment or two. Finally, she comes to a decision. "Okay, I think I know of a few things you can work on, though I don't know if they'll necessarily pan out. I don't know as much about your power as you do, so I might not make perfect suggestions."

"Okay," I'll take anything at this point. As long as it comes from someone with experience, like Sanae. "What should I do?"

"What do you want to do?" Sanae repeats again. I hear Ringo huff in amusement, but I'm not so happy with the response. "Like I said, I have ideas, but I'm still going to leave it up to you."

"Okay fine," You can't leave it up to me if you don't even give me the options though. "What are your ideas then?"

Sanae smiles happily, crossing her arms across her chest and looking slightly smug. "Idea one. Endurance," She says dramatically. "You said that you can use your powers until they exhaust you magically. Training that threshold up is probably important if you're going to be using them for a long period of time."

"And our trip into the dream world is going to qualify for a long period of time," Ringo adds. Hm, yeah. The experiments with Marisa weren't even an hour, I don't think. Granted, you can get a lot of duels done in that amount of time, but those might be orders more intense than the experimenting that I did in Marisa's backyard.

"Probably," Sanae agrees before moving on. "We could also work on versatility. If we practice, we might be able to make it so you could choose what you find in the other dimension more easily. You'd be more versatile that way. You'd only be held back by your imagination!"

I kind of have a feeling that Sanae is more the type to benefit from that than I am. I'm not that inventive of a person. Of course, I guess it does help that there's a bit more of a constraint than Sanae is implying. "And the fact that whatever I use has to be a bullet."

Sanae just nods, almost dismissing the counterpoint in favor of going on. "Third, we could work on your control. You said this already improved somewhat, but what if you could hold bullets in place for longer, or aim them better, even adjust them more directly? I know some people can do that with their normal danmaku pretty well, but it sounds like that's harder to do when you're not using projectiles you created."

Hm, yeah, there is some merit to that. I used to be pretty limited on how many bullets I could hold in place and for how long they'd stay there while I was aiming. I haven't had a chance to test how limited that is now though. Might give me even better control than I have with my normal danmaku. "I'm not that great at it when I create the projectiles either."

"Which is another thing!" Sanae seems very pleased that I've lead the conversation right into her next point. "We could work on stuff outside of your powers too. You can already duel to some degree. We could put aside the bullet dimension and just work with your own power."

"Hm..." So this would be more or less the kind of stuff that I was working on with Yuzuki... Actually, come to think of it, why isn't she out here? We did agree to practice together before. Is it still her thing with Sanae? But I thought they had worked through that at least a little bit. More than Yuzuki's thing with Kanako at least.

"Of course," Sanae continues when I don't meaningfully respond. "Then there's also dueling itself. There's spell cards and stuff, that's important. Being able to attack people is only part of it though. Dodging is also pretty important."

Okay, so I have options. Sanae wants me to pick what I want to do, as she's so clearly told me. Fair enough. I don't think there'll be time to cover all of it, but with the rest of the evening, I could probably make some meaningful headway.

[ ] Work on improving bullet power endurance
[ ] Work on improving bullet power versatility
[ ] Work on improving bullet power control
[ ] Work on improving normal danmaku
[ ] Work on improving danmaku dueling
[ ] Work on something Sanae didn't mention. She never said I could only pick from her options after all (Write-in)

You can vote for more than one thing here if you want, but keep in mind that splitting focus too much might not be the best things for return on time investment.
[x] Work on improving bullet power control.

Sniper route go.
[X] Work on improving bullet power control

We've already had a lifetime of little to no control, so we should make damn sure that it never comes to that again.

[X] Work on improving bullet power endurance

Ringo's got a point, once we go through the portal we'll be in it for the long haul.
[x] Work on improving bullet power endurance
[x] Work on improving bullet power control

Infinite homing shots for ez modo.

Also lol at Ringo realizing she can now sleep with Seiran without being shot to death.
[x] Work on improving bullet power endurance
[x] Work on improving bullet power control
File 150885102936.jpg - (510.91KB, 1600x1600, its nerf or nothin.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Work on improving bullet power versatility

If Seiran could freely pick and choose what kind of bullet she could fire, she would be insanely powerful. Sure she is limited to bullets, but if you define a bullet as "anything that can be shot from a gun and/or cannon," then the possibilities are endless. Just limiting myself to non-lethal projectiles, here is a list of things she could theoretically fire:

Nerf darts (pic related)
Water (squirt guns)
Corks (pop-guns)
rubber (police riot control bullets)
paint (paintball guns)
electricity (stun guns)
confetti (launched out of cannons at the end of some sports games)
Air (the Airzooka toy air gun, look it up on google)
Tear gas (police riot control gear)
grappling hooks
Tranquilizer darts
nets (look up net guns on google)
potatoes (potato cannons)
T-shirts (T-shirt cannons, used at sporting events. "I dueled Seiran and all I got was this lousy T-shirt")
and of course Danmaku, which going only by the people we know has its own insane potential. Cirno's ice bullets, Marisa's Master spark, Sanae's wind and shrine maiden talismans, the list goes on and on.

If we master versatility, we'll be a walking swiss army knife of problem solving potential. Need a fire, use flamethrowers. Need to put the fire out, use squirt guns. Need some food, eat the potato cannon ammo. Need new clothes, fire the T-shirt cannon.
[X] Work on improving bullet power versatility
[X] Work on improving bullet power control

Time for some training.
Alright, >>28299 has convinced me. Changing my vote from >>28295 to
[x] Work on improving bullet power versatility.

Being a Swiss Army Bun is too good to pass up on.
Sounds like a plan

[X] Work on improving bullet power versatility
[X] Work on improving bullet power control
[x] Work on improving bullet power versatility

Yeah, I'm sold on >>28299's suggestion.
File 150942121520.png - (0.97MB, 750x1000, night time practice.png) [iqdb]
[X] Work on improving bullet power control
[X] Work on improving bullet power versatility

At this point, I would say that doing anything with my power sounds like a pretty good idea. Compared to the little to no control I had over things that I had just a day ago, everything that Sanae is saying sounds fantastic. It should also be a pretty good chance to test what my actual limits are now. That'll be important to know going forward if I want to help out with whatever happens inside the portal.

Even the non-power stuff that Sanae mentioned doesn't sound like a bad idea exactly. I just think that I probably shouldn't split my focus on things too much. This is just one evening. If I try to cover everything, I'll probably just end up not learning anything useful by the time that it's over. Better to think about what really matters to me right now.

So of the stuff that Sanae mentioned... Control. Yeah, that sounds like a good word to me, just because it's something that I've had next to none of for the past forever. Sure, what Sanae's saying is only one specific aspect of control, but it still seems useful to work on anyway. The idea that I could better control when my summoned bullets shoot and their speeds and trajectories and everything else would go a long way in making me more versatile in what I can actually do.

Speaking of versatility, none of that control stuff really matters if I can only grab out the lethal kinds of bullets, does it? Well, it does, but not for the more immediate applications that I'm likely to run into for the rest of this mission. I need to be able to sort through the alternate dimension and get danmaku, or at the very least not the most traditional kind of bullet. Anything non-lethal should work, and considering how many different projectiles exist, I should have plenty of options. I just need to figure out where to look.

Hm, I wonder if I could slow down a regular bullet enough to make it non-lethal... Might be more trouble than it's worth. Anyway, that's experimentation for later. I probably have a ton of stuff like that to work through. Hey, who knows? Maybe with all the work I'll also improve my endurance at the same time, even without actually focusing on it specifically. My power isn't exactly like a muscle that I can work out, but experience has to count for something in getting better, right? Hopefully.

"Um, let's go with my powers now, instead of the dueling stuff," I say. I think Sanae looks rather happy about my answer, although she might have been that way regardless of what I actually said. It's a much more common expression from her than the opposite. "Once I know what I can do, it should be easier to incorporate it into danmaku duels, I hope."

"Okay, sure, that makes sense," Sanae nods. "Did you have any area in particular that you wanted to work on?"

"Control," I answer, catching myself looking over in Ringo's direction before I can think better of it. For what it's worth, Ringo just smiles at me wide enough to show teeth. I'm only kind of sort of doing it for her sake, just as much as for anyone else. It's not even really for the sake of sleeping by her. Whatever.

"Okay, then let's try things out!" Sanae declares happily.

Then there's a bit of a pause because just saying that isn't at all the same thing as actually having a plan to try things out.

Despite her enthusiasm, Sanae doesn't actually know any more about my powers than I do. She can't say for certain 'do such and such and you'll get better results' sadly enough. Maybe she could do something like that with danmaku, but this is all new to her. She seems pretty good at suggesting ideas despite that though, which is a help on its own. She does a good job of thinking up exercises to focus on one thing at a time. I start running through those under her and Ringo's supervision, to varying results.

We identify two different areas that all fall into the category of improving control. Namely, aiming and maintaining whatever power I have over a bullet when I first bring it in. After that, we can break those down even more just by working on specific things. Aiming before actually shooting, then trying to redirect and aim afterward too are different exercises. As for maintaining the connection, there's the distance that I can hold the connection as well as number of connections at one time.

At first, we just focus on holding a bullet that I summon in place for as long as possible. It's easy to handle a single shot, but then that's kind of always been the case. As long as I can concentrate on the single thing, I don't need to worry about it randomly zooming off when I don't want it to. It's no surprise that nothing has changed there. After demonstrating that I really am in control, Sanae has me vary things up a little bit more. We increase the number of bullets up until I can't hold on to everything anymore.

I'm kind of glad that reaching my limit doesn't make me shoot everything that I have held at once. Instead it just breaks the control I had over whatever I had been holding on to the longest. First in first out. It also appears that I'm not so much gated by the number of individual bullets as I am by the amount of actual matter that I'm pulling through. Larger projectiles are more costly toward reaching my limit, while smaller things like a common nine millimeter bullet or something similar take up very little focus at all. It makes it a little difficult to get an upper limit on the exact number that I can handle at once, because it really depends on what I'm actually working with.

By contrast, the tests about distance that I can hold a shot are much more conclusive. I have to be able to physically touch the place that I want to gate a bullet in, and after that I have to stay within about a fifteen meter radius, or else I lose my connection and the bullet flies off. The tests and exercises that we work on don't seem to do anything to increase the number, but I think that's still a pretty decent leash to work with. Interestingly, adding more connections doesn't do anything to the range, so I feel pretty good with that measurement being something that I can consider constant. Fifteen meters. I commit it to memory, and make a mental note to practice mentally estimating the distance periodically so I always know whether I'm going to lose track of something.

After that, we work on aiming. Bullets that I pull through have their own orientation already, so I have to put focus into redirecting them to go in a specific direction before letting them go. Honestly, this seems to be the area that improves the most due to working at it. Starting off, I have to focus on each individual angle and vector. With time and work, I get much better at pointing multiple held bullets and pointing them all in one direction at the same time. Aiming different shots in different directions at the same time is still kind of beyond me, but I think I'll get the hang of it with more time to practice.

Unfortunately, aiming bullets that are already in motion is a bit more of a tall order. It doesn't even really seem possible with how my powers work. Danmaku is one thing, this is another. For me, once I've shot a projectile with my powers, the connection is just gone. There's no way for me to continue influencing it. No amount of trying or retrying makes a difference. When it comes to using my powers, it seems like my initial aim is the most important thing that I can work with. That's a little disappointing, but I guess there are just some rules that I can't break on my own. At least, unless I get bullets that somehow naturally curve...

It's just an idea, one that isn't really feasible in most cases. Obviously you can't just curve bullets like that unless they're magic danmaku or some other weird thing. Luckily, I just so happen to have access to those weird things. At least, in theory I do anyway. In practice it's just a bit more difficult than that.

"Is it just because bullets are the most common things, or is it something else?" Ringo asks once the topic of conversation has moved onto the next area that I wanted to focus on, versatility. I really don't know the limits of what I can actually pull out of whatever dimension my powers grab things from, but pushing up to my limits sounds like a good idea, just so I can always know what I have available.

"That's a big part of it, but I do think there must be something else that's weird about it," I answer thoughtfully. Thinking about it, I have no idea why bullets even would be the most common projectile I can grab. Is it a mentality thing or is it an actual limitation of the power? "I don't know, I never really had an opportunity to experiment with it, because every time I did it would give me a massive headache."

Ringo pauses at that. "Are you still good to go right now? We can stop if you want to."

I appreciate the concern, I really do. The thing is that this is kind of important. No reason to do any half measures with it. "I'm getting a little bit tired, but I can keep going for a while longer."

"Okay, as long as you say so..." Sanae agrees, casually looking around in the general direction that I've been firing bullets off. I don't really have any idea of where they're landing, so I just kind of have to hope that I'm not hitting anything important. The odds of things being fine seem pretty good anyway. Hopefully. "How do you want to do this?"

"Umm..." Just looking around with my powers, I can already see a number of different non-bullet options, but just getting what I can see immediately isn't really the point of the exercise. "Maybe just give me ideas for what to grab, and I'll see if I can find whatever you suggest," That should work. Hopefully we'll be able to figure out what limits I actually have.

"Oooh, sounds fun actually, let's go!" Right, I had a feeling that Sanae in particular would be helpful with this. She strikes me as somebody with quite the imagination. If anyone can help reach the limits of my power, it'll be her.



Does my power actually have limits?

I mean, it definitely used to, but it was mostly based on my inability to keep using it for long enough, not because I couldn't actually find a specific projectile. As Sanae and Ringo continue to come up with ideas and give them to me to try out, I'm rapidly considering the idea that my endurance really might still be the only real limit that I have.

It's actually really amazing. As long as the things that Sanae and Ringo call out are actually projectiles, things that are fired, and fly through the air with the intention of hitting some target, I can find it. Given enough time, absolutely nothing that Ringo or Sanae stays unfound. Admittedly, after a couple minutes of searching, I decline to actually use the missle that Sanae suggests, but the fact remains that it was there. Everything is there.

It never really gets faster to grab out specific, non-bullet things, so I guess the weirder stuff is still limited by the time that I take to find it too. Danmaku, for example, takes very little extra time to find, but if I want to keep grabbing bits of it that match each other to make an actual pattern, it adds up. Pulling out just water (from a squirtgun, according to Sanae), or fire (from a flamethrower, thanks Ringo) can take upwards of fifteen to thirty seconds of concentration, depending on the volume that I want, as well as some unexplained variance. The most outlandish and weird suggestions can take minutes, making them completely impractical in any combat situation.

It's actually kind of freaky. Just the sheer possibilities almost make my head spin, although that might just be me getting tired from extended power usage.

"And I thought my power was crazy..." Ringo mentions as the implications of what I can actually do start to set in.

"You're like some kind of magical projectile Swiss army knife!" Sanae says excitedly. I think she hasn't really calmed down since I managed to shoot some approximation of that attack I saw Marisa using earlier. I had been kind of nervous about that one, just because of how big, obvious and loud it is. Sanae's really sure that we're not bothering the neighbors, right?

As for what she actually said, "What's Swiss?"

"Oh right, aliens," Sanae looks a little bit embarrassed as she thinks of how to explain. "Err, it's a country-well, no. Switzerland is the country but they call the things from it Swiss. They make utility knives there or something I guess? Err, most people would just know what I'm talking about when I said it so... Never mind."

"Okay, whatever, um..." Sanae's explanation kind of petered out and got awkward, so I'm happy to move things along so she doesn't have to stay embarrassed. "A-anyway, this is all still contingent on my power not going back to how it was when I sleep. Marisa said that could happen," I caution the others before they get too excited. Before I get too excited too, honestly.

"But if it doesn't..." Ringo leans over to me, looking like she doesn't at all believe that it will. "I think we've got more firepower than expected."

For the mission? I mean, I guess that would be good, since we were kind of concerned about only having Reisen and Sanae available, but... "I uh, I don't know about that."

Sanae seems to catch my hesitation. "It's okay, I'm used to doing this kind of thing," She says cheerfully. "But you might not be. You can do what you're comfortable with."

I don't know if I'm hesitant for that reason, more just because I'm still not sure about my powers. "It's not really-" I cut myself off when I notice something in the corner of my vision. I turn to get a better look. "Woah."

"Huh?" Ringo looks to where I'm looking. "Oh hey!"

We had been wondering when she would show back up, but it's still a little unexpected that she would just pop back in like this. She's floating toward us, obviously having noticed us before we noticed her. Ringo still waves her down anyway.

"The shit are you guys doing?" Sumi immediately demands of the group once she lands She looks pretty normal, although maybe a bit more self assured than usual.

"Erm, practicing?" I explain lamely. Is it really so weird that we're standing around in a relatively safe area?

"Practicing your big fucking laser power, yes of course. I should have known," Oh. That. I guess if she was flying toward us at the time, she definitely would have seen the big laser that I shot earlier. The funny thing is that it wasn't even as big or powerful as Marisa's but it was still obviously noticeable.

"A lot of stuff happened," Ringo answers vaguely for me, stepping in between me and Sumi to handle the conversation. "Sucks for you that you missed it. What have you been doing?"

"Eh..." Sumi shrugs and at first seems like she's actually not going to answer, but after a moment thinks better of it. Good. We're supposed to be working together here. "Actually, I guess I might as well say it now. You might be interested in this actually Ringo," She reaches into one of the pockets of her camo pants and pulls out a few small slips of paper. "I got tickets."

"Tickets to?" Ringo asks the obvious question before I can.

"Oh, only Choujuu Gigaku's last concert of the year. No big deal," Sumi looks over the tickets in her had, flipping them over a couple times before waving them in the air casually. "Well, maybe a teeny bit of a big fuckin' deal actually. Course, I already knew I could get in regardless, but it took a lot of promises and way nicer words than I'm used to to get five tickets. It's the day after tomorrow. Seats aren't the best, but they're good. If you say we can't go to this, I'm gonna be pissed."

"Hold on," I feel like I have to stop her. Maybe she would have given a better explanation for why we should be going to this concert other than her obviously wanting to. Maybe not. I'm not sure. Either way, there's a big problem here. "The day after tomorrow."

"Yup," Sumi confirms.

"So two nights before we have to leave for the capital," I continue.


"... You don't think that we might be a little busy at that point?" We still don't have a solution figured out for getting back.

"That's why I'm bringing it up ahead of time," Sumi rolls her eyes as if it were obvious. She pockets the tickets again. "We can schedule it and not get shafted. Easy."

... Ugh.

"Eh, you gotta admit Sumi, Seiran has a point," Thank you Ringo. "But at the same time, from talking to youkai about it, it sounds like it's going to be a blast. I don't really want to miss it either."


Ugh... Once again Ringo is doing a questionable job as leader. I'm too tired from all the experimenting and practising to deal with this right now, but I should probably say something sooner, rather than later.

[ ] I guess we can probably make some time. It does sound like fun.
[ ] Going to the concert is fine, but I don't want Sumi skipping out on us anymore. She needs to stick around from now until then.
[ ] We should only go if we've made progress on our mission before then.
[ ] I really don't think that we should be focusing on this extra stuff.

[ ] Practice a little more. Maybe do some dueling.
[ ] Head back to the plant. It might be good to relax for a bit before heading to bed.
[ ] Head inside the shrine again. Sumi might not have eaten yet.

I feel like there's a lot of technical power information in this update, but I've been really into stuff like this since I just finished reading Worm (just in time for Worm 2!)

Also it's kind of hitting me how many days are still left in the story. I'm thinking that tomorrow in story and the last day are probably going to go by faster than the others though. Not sure on the day of the concert of the day after that though. Story still has a bit longer to go than I expected, but I'm bad at estimating these things I guess. My pacing doesn't help that much either.
[x] Going to the concert is fine, but I don't want Sumi skipping out on us anymore. She needs to stick around from now until then.
[x] Head back to the plant. It might be good to relax for a bit before heading to bed.
[x] Going to the concert is fine, but I don't want Sumi skipping out on us anymore. She needs to stick around from now until then.
[x] Head back to the plant. It might be good to relax for a bit before heading to bed.

Work hard, play hard.
[x] Going to the concert is fine, but I don't want Sumi skipping out on us anymore. She needs to stick around from now until then.
[x] Head back to the plant. It might be good to relax for a bit before heading to bed.

I know Sumi has her own issues, but she needs to get with the fucking program or we could all end up in serious trouble. As to the pacing, don't worry about it too much. I think you're doing fine, it lets us spend more time with the characters and come to know/appreciate them a little better.
[x] Going to the concert is fine, but I don't want Sumi skipping out on us anymore. She needs to stick around from now until then.
[x] Head back to the plant. It might be good to relax for a bit before heading to bed.
[X] Going to the concert is fine, but I don't want Sumi skipping out on us anymore. She needs to stick around from now until then.
[X] Head back to the plant. It might be good to relax for a bit before heading to bed.
File 151003315276.jpg - (42.45KB, 1023x575, Might've been down for a sleepover.jpg) [iqdb]
[X] Going to the concert is fine, but I don't want Sumi skipping out on us anymore. She needs to stick around from now until then.
[X] Head back to the plant. It might be good to relax for a bit before heading to bed.

She can't really expect this to work out just by asking us. Saying that we'll plan around it and actually having the time to do something extra like go to a concert are two very different things. I'm pretty sure that Sumi knows that though. Just because she's prone to defying authority doesn't mean she's out of touch with reality. She's stubborn, but only to a point. If Ringo or I said no to her idea, she wouldn't be happy, but I'm pretty sure she would understand. At least, I hope so. Might also help if we have a good reason.

I don't actually know exactly where Sumi stands at the moment. She's made it exceedingly clear on more than one occasion that she's not going to go back to the Moon. Full stop. No chance. That's... I can't necessarily say that I like it, considering she basically decided that regardless of what the rest of us end up deciding. To me it kind of points to a surprising willingness to distance herself from us. Would she really stay here by herself even if all the rest of us wanted to go back? Hard to tell. It's not hard to tell that she likes us, but maybe it doesn't go quite as far as I thought before.

Although thinking about it, she's the only one of us, beside me with Yamame I guess, who has made obvious friendships that are separate from everyone else. She's been spending time with Prismrivers and Raiko and Benben and Yatsuhashi and who knows who else. That whole group that she went off and talked to during the grass roots youkai network meeting. If anyone has enough contacts to leave the unit and survive on their own here in Gensokyo, it'll be her. Do I think that she's going to abandon us or anything? No, I really really doubt it. It's just that somewhere in her mind, she has to be aware that it's a possibility. Even if she's not willing to use it now, there's no reason to push things and give her a reason to do so.

In fact... Maybe I can compromise to try and keep the distance between us from growing.

"Okay, if you both want to go, I guess we can," Sumi pumps her fist with a quiet 'hell yeah' as I give my answer. Ringo also looks rather pleased as well. I pointedly ignore both of their reactions. "I'm not in charge of convincing Yuzuki though."

"Eh, if she doesn't want to come, it's her loss," Sumi shrugs. "We'll find someone else," she then adds, turning her head toward Sanae. Pretty sure that she intentionally makes it obvious enough that everyone else catches it as well.

"Choujuu Gigaku?" Sanae repeats, actually sounding rather excited by the idea. "Do you think it'd be okay!?"

Personally I don't see the problem. Why wouldn't it be okay? Sumi seems to get the issue though. "You wouldn't be the only human there," She says, more casual than reassuring.

It doesn't seem to help Sanae feel much better. "I'd be the only shrine maiden though..."

"Human, shrine maiden, whatever. Same difference," I don't really think that settles the issue, but Sumi seems keen to move on rather than get stuck on the details of a plan that she hasn't even made yet. "We've got time to figure it out is all I'm saying. Let's plan on keeping our schedules free that night, and I swear to you guys you'll have the best fucking night out of this whole trip."

... Right. Well, I won't deny that it could be fun. Earth does seem to have a knack for having much more fun parties than the Moon, though part of that is probably due to them not having many parties to choose from up there. Not sure if that excuses them or is just another point against them, but I guess it doesn't matter that much. What I'm saying is that I wouldn't mind having a night that's kind of like our meeting night, but a bit more structured and less alcohol filled. Maybe the concert would qualify, maybe not.

"Speaking of plans," All of that aside, I need to use some leverage here to get a handle on what Sumi's actually doing. "As a compromise, do you think you could maybe actually be around so we can include you in plans?" I half suggest, half plead. "We had no way of contacting you today, and we had no idea when or even if you would come back tonight. It's adding a lot of stress to our end for no reason."

"You're the one adding stress if you're getting your panties bunched up just because I'm not right next to you to iron them out," Sumi argues back.

I'm pretty sure she's intentionally missing the point. She's always been like this though, it's hard to get her to budge on issues of personal freedom. Sumi got into the habit of fighting for as much of it as possible before, and even that wasn't much, considering the whole being in the military thing. "Last time you were out and nobody knew where you were going, you ended up in jail," I remind her, not bothering to be gentle about it. "We're running out of time. We need everyone on deck if we want to make sure that we have the time and resources to solve the portal problem. That includes you."

"Oh come on," Sumi gives me an exasperated look, as if I was missing something. No Sumi, I really don't think I am. "The jail thing was to help you out."

For all the helping out that it actually did... "Look, I appreciate the idea of what you did, but it'd probably better if it doesn't happen again. Nobody wants that."

"And it ain't gonna happen again," Sumi counters. "I'm meeting up with people, not searching through the ass-end of bird country. It's not the same issue. Not gonna get tossed in the bird cage just hanging out with Yatsuhashi..." She pauses her argument for a second. "Though maybe there'll be some slamming going on, if you know what I mean," She adds with a smirk. What?

"Nice," Ringo cracks a smile as well, and I'm left not quite getting the joke. "How about this then," She proposes, moving on before I have a chance to ask. "You can head out and meet up with people, but only if we're not busy with something else, and you let me and Seiran know ahead of time."

Sumi sighs heavily. "It's bullshit," She points out, apparently deciding that that's argument enough.

"Sure, sure," Ringo shrugs. "But you only have to deal for a few more days. After that, you can do whatever. Once we desert, I won't technically have any authority to tell you what to do. You can run off and get married or whatever. It'll all be up to you."

Sumi seems to ignore the marriage comment, though I notice Sanae let out a tiny gasp of excitement at the idea. I uh, really don't think that Sumi's relationship is anywhere close to that level yet. "Not like I have much reason to listen now."

Ugh, I'm used to Sumi being difficult, but this is just frustrating. "Other than wanting to survive," I stress meaningfully. "Look, it's like Ringo said. A couple more days. That's all. Can you please just work with us for that long?"

Sumi looks at me, obviously unimpressed. "... Fine," She finally relents. "As long as you guys actually do plan around going to the concert, I'll plan around whatever you need me to do."

"That's all we're asking," Ringo says with a smile. I really doubt that I can do the same, or even fake it.

Honestly, I'm more than a little frustrated, even after more or less getting what I wanted out of the conversation. Sumi has agreed, however reluctantly, to work with us so we're at full capacity when we need to be. That's good. It just really shouldn't have been such a struggle to get to that point.

Sumi's just weird like that though. In some ways, and at certain times, she's the most mature one of all of us. I know that I have gone to her for advice more than once in the past couple of days, and while I haven't really followed all of it, it's still nice to have the option. Situations like this though, where she's being all stubborn about everything, these are the worst part of dealing with her. Even worse, the fact that she's arguing instead of just tuning Ringo and I out with her power and ignoring us can actually be considered an improvement.

I guess saying that she was bad before doesn't necessarily mean that she's good in all aspects now though, huh?

"So anyway..." Sumi continues, now that that discussion is wrapped up. "Were you guys done setting of fireworks or whatever? What's up with you?"

Right, still haven't really explained everything to Sumi. Her fault that she wasn't around for the meeting really. I honestly don't feel like launching into that whole explanation again, so I won't. "Err, like I said, practicing," I repeat lamely. "Um, we were mostly finished though, I think?" I look questioningly toward Sanae, since we haven't really formally ended the session or anything.

Sanae catches my look and smiles gently toward me in response. "This is for your benefit, if you want to stop now, that's completely your decision."

Okay, so... Could I keep going? Honestly, maybe for a little bit. I'm feeling drained, but it's not like I'm falling over from exhaustion or anything. Something tells me that I don't want to overdo it though. I made good progress in understanding some of the limitations that I'm working with tonight, as well as areas that I can actually improve by practicing more. That's really good. As long as I follow up on that, I can... I can what?

Ideally, I wouldn't even need to use my powers for anything. We would just float our way into the dream world, find the capital, Sanae and Reisen would handle any fighting that needed to happen, and everything would be good. After that... What does happen after that? I go back to the Moon and show them that my powers aren't dangerous anymore? They run more experiments to understand what Marisa did? I become rabbit artillery for whatever else they need me to do for the rest of forever?

Ugh... No. Just no. Even if I'm being pessimistic, just... No.

Err, I kind of got sidetracked there though. Sanae asked me if I wanted to continue. I mentally decided on a response but didn't actually say it out loud. "Okay, we can stop for tonight then."

"Sounds good," Sanae says cheerfully, clapping her hands together. "This was really interesting though, I had a lot of fun."

I feel kind of guilty considering that Sanae didn't really have to do much other than make suggestions, but I have a feeling that she'd shoot down any apology that I make. Sanae is nothing if not charitable and helpful and a bunch of other nice things. I really do appreciate her helping us out as much as she has... Actually, I should probably say that out loud, shouldn't I?

"I did too. Thanks a lot Sanae."


The four of us head back inside the shrine after that. It's a bit of a relief, considering how the outdoors isn't exactly warm at this point in the evening. In contrast, Sanae's home has at least some form of heating. Much more comfortable. Much nicer. A shame that we're going to have to go for at least one more flight before we can settle in.

It's not that difficult of a discussion. Honestly it takes longer to get Sumi to focus than for all of us to come to a decision. Nothing important left to do here, we might as well head back to the plant sooner or later. Even if it's still a little bit early to actually go to sleep (Unless I wanted to wake up exceptionally early I guess), putting it off doesn't really get us much.

Aside from let Yuzuki play more tetris I guess. It's kind of funny, but when we try to signal her, it doesn't actually work. We have to physically walk to Sanae's room and interrupt the video game in order to get Yuzuki's attention. She's a little embarrassed about it, but isn't so absorbed that she disagrees with heading back... After she finishes her current game anyway.

While that takes a bit longer than I thought (Yuzuki's obviously been getting better. I kind of wonder if that's all she's been doing while the rest of us were outside), she does eventually finish up. We're likely to see all or at least most of them soon, but we still give some goodbyes to the occupants of the Moriya shrine, then head out.

It's dark, so we let Yuzuki lead the way, electing to take our time on the way back to the plant. Better safe than sorry.


The flight back is largely uneventful, not to mention moderately slow. Yuzuki being in front when she's generally slower than the rest of us kind of limits our top speed, but we prefer that to the random off chance that we could get lost. Of course, I've already flown around so much today that one more trip shouldn't bother me that much, and even with the reduced speed, this one is still comparatively shorter.

I keep myself busy by trying to think over what I'm going to do next. It's later into the evening. Late enough that I could go to bed, but it would be a bit earlier than normal. That isn't that big of a deal, but I'm kind of dreading it a little bit for other reasons anyway.

Problem one is that I don't actually know what's going to happen when I sleep. Marisa said that something could screw up, my powers could get reconnected to the dream world or whatever. The progress could get undone. I don't really know what the plan is if that happens. It's a big, scary unknown. Even though I know that putting it off won't make it any better... I still kind of want to put it off.

It also leads directly into problem two... Ringo. The talk that we had together on the roof helped smooth things over a little bit, sure, but there's still a lot of issues hanging over our heads. I'm pretty convinced that Ringo is going to ask if we can sleep in the same bed again, now that I'm safe(ish). Yesterday Sumi suggested that I stop that, but Sumi suggested a lot of stuff. I still have to pick and choose what of it I actually intend on following. Even if Ringo has promised not to try and force things, there's the issue of what signals I'm sending with whatever I do.

This... Honestly it's still way more complicated than I like. No getting around it in the long term though.

However in the short term, I could still do something else instead. Everyone should be in the general area of the plant, so I could talk to any of the others, or I could even go for a walk or something. Clear my head a bit. That does carry the risk of running into somebody I don't really know though.

[ ] Talk to somebody (who?)
[ ] Go for a walk in the plant
[ ] Go to bed early

This update took longer than it should have for a mostly transition update where very little actually happens. I've been having some troubles lately, both writing and not writing related, but I'm still going.

Anyway, next update will be a new thread.

Yeah, but finishing the story at some point is actually my big goal. I'm going to hit two years soon and still have a while to go. Whoops.
[x] Go for a walk in the plant.

Random encounter go!
[X] Go for a walk in the plant
[x] Go for a walk in the plant
[X] Go for a walk in the plant

Personally, I find going for a walk helps clear the head when you have a lot to think about.
[X] Go for a walk in the plant

Who knows, maybe an outside perspective is just what we need right now.
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