My cage shudders with a jolt and it slowly creeps towards the courtroom. I squint at the light, but as my eyes get used to it, the room becomes apparent in size. Easily over 300 various laws-men and bourgeoisie fill the chamber, trying, in a very unsubtle way, to intimidate the criminal. Everyone is seated on what look like massive metal staircases, rising up 3 meters a step to the edge of the wall. The glint of polished metal makes for a dull colour, and the light just makes the room seem deflated instead of imposing. The big guy in front looks like he’s the highest in command here- probably not anybody truly important, but its all about style. I can’t see his face, as its covered by a ghastly mask.
“Before the royal court, has been brought a criminal, Inaba 25886216 ‘Sieran’. Under this court you are being accused of high treason, greater property damage, lesser property damage...” I can’t be arsed to deal with over blowing everything so much. “Oy, just skip to the important details will you!” Apparently, my shout came out louder than I intended, for all the courtesan, who were doing such important things like talking to one another, suddenly and all at once silenced themselves. The big guy in front, who I assume is the judge, gave a loud huff, and looked up from his device, to stare directly at me.
His body language showed anger at being interrupted but his voice retained its clarity and indifference from before. “… Very well. It’s a waste of time for everyone, after all.” I see a few smirks light up across the chamber, but apart from that, everyone remains quiet and still. “Do you plead guilty, Seiran?” “Of course I do, but...” “You have heard it straight from her mouth, all!” He took advantage of my blunder with my wording to speed up the process. Fair trial, my arse. “You will be exiled for your attempted rebellion of the most Noblest and Greatest Lord Tsukuyomi, as well as attempts to sway your brethren rabbits.” He continues to talk for a good ten minutes, but I’ve already stopped listening. I’m being exiled.
This is the best thing to happen to me in my entire life.
The rest of the proceedings went without a hitch. The security guards, one of which I have known for thirty years, ferried me off in my little metal cage, after all the pompous bastards had left, gloating about another boring day at the courts. Funny how even the most pure and pristine place for civilization still couldn’t stop crime. The courts gave me half a day to say goodbye, mostly to my fellow squad members, and to take what precious little I owned in the military. Most likely, it’s going to go down as dishonourable discharge, and my superiors will gloat about what I've done wrong. I know though, that every single rabbit in the entire army, no, on the entire moon, will be rooting for me. Because, even though nobody followed me, I know I've set about a spark of unrest, some wild hope that people will begin to think things over for themselves.
After I said goodbye, I was lead to a strange room, all white, deep in the lab complex. It gets pretty blurry after that, and then… I awake.
Instantly, I can tell at least 5 different things that are wrong with my surroundings, and my eyes haven’t even opened yet. It’s so utterly, incredibly cold, at first, but everything warms up. I can move my extremities first and before I open my eyes, I can smell something completely different to the moon dust. Something truly wet, mixed with a good kind of rotten. I’m in some kind of canister. The door is half ajar, leading out into a shack of some sorts. Wooden walls, wooden table, and a rabbit, eating some sort of Earthly delicacy on top of the table. She’s sitting crossed legged, and is turned away from me.
>I sneak out of my prison and surprise her >Call out her name to intimidate her and force her to give me information >Calmly exit the room >Write in
There was no point in me staying here. A quick look over myself revealed the fact that nothing held me down, like I was left out to air. Surely nobody would miss such a thing. The other bunny continued to eat, quietly and cautiously, occasionally peering at the door, perhaps trying to look through it. I had to pry myself free of the pod, but once I had, I simply crossed the room, waved goodbye to the rabbit, and left. Of course, I didn’t particularly want to talk to her, or explain my reasoning, but thankfully, by sheer luck someone had left the key to the door in the outside lock. Needless to say, I don’t think that rabbit will be following me soon.
Ignoring the thumping coming from behind me, I turn around as I pocket the key. I seemed to be near the outside of some sort of lunar base, except on the Earth. It had all the features of something lunar, like the unexceptional architecture, entirely for function over form, and the small spires constructed around the vague outskirts providing aerial defence. The flag was different though, baring not the traditional Lunarian crest, but a large, mighty bird clutching in its talons a pair of binoculars and a satellite dish. Red and imposing, I keep seeing the sign plastered everywhere now, on almost every single building, on the ground and on the spires. It’s so utterly bizarre that the military would construct a reconnaissance base on the Earth, despite totally despising the Earth and everything that lives on it. That was the current military when I was in it. It was obvious from the start that I was in cold sleep, but now my mind has caught up to the facts. Just how long was I asleep in there? I’m left with two probable outcomes. The first is that I’ve been asleep for far far longer than is healthy or normal, and I’ve found myself in the distant future where the lunarian capital is not a ruthless regime that imposes it’s ‘power’ through fear and manipulation, or, the much more likely event, something serious has happened on the moon and this invasion of sorts was deemed necessary. Both options looked equally terrifying. For a second I’m worried I’ve been robbed of my dignity, but I’m still wearing my old uniform, comforting in its softness over the years and how it fits only me. The knocking has subdued. I can only assume this means that the rabbit inside has stopped trying to break out and is calling for help. Fortunately, it is night time, and the main gate is encampment has no walls, no boundary separating it from the thick tangled forest. I simply pick a random direction, behind the hut from whence I came, and I disappear into the woods.
The undergrowth isn’t too thick, but it is a substantial amount, so I alternate between hopping from foot to foot across the ground, and flying in short bursts to not get caught in anything in the low leaves of the tree. I let all of the smells and sounds of the forest flow into me, once I get far enough from the lunar base. Once the hum from the base can’t be heard, there’s always something that catches my ear. A hoot, or a chirp. Simply being here makes me feel alive. I’ve always associated the idea of purity with this sterility, taking away properties that shouldn’t be taken. Everywhere on the moon felt cold and dull, millions of years of people forgetting themselves and their roots.
For the first time in forever, I feel a calm overcome me, and I’m not sure if that’s because of the forest or if that’s due to the knowledge I’ve escaped for now. Have I truly lost the pursuit of them or did they simply not bother running after me? What’s going on with this aggressive attack on Earth? That’s the most puzzling part. Nobody used to care what happened on Earth, they were too busy having their heads up their own arses to bother with ‘plebeian affairs.’ It’s some reason for concern but I probably couldn’t stop it on my own. I need people who can help our cause, and are willing to fight with me!
Probably easier said than done. Up ahead I can see a small opening in the forest, where some moonlight shines through the canopy. I see somebody sitting on a rock, looking contemplative and a little lost. It’s also obvious she’s a human, but I’ve never seen someone so weirdly dressed, mystical and shaman-like. I would have loved the opportunity to choose whether to ignore her or talk to her but she seemed to have made the choice for me. She rushes over to me with speed I’ve rarely seen. “Those ears… Are you a rabbit?” “Hmm, yes. Could you not stand so near to me though?” Up close, I could see her dress seemed to echo some sort of starry night. Her hair had a green frog pin in it, and in her hand she was clutching an odd stick that had a length of paper sticking out of it. “Right, um, sorry.” As she took a step back I could see she was no higher than I was, and I was considered small. How old was she, and why was she outside this late at night? “Hey, um, did you see a sort of probe, or, or, a mechanical spider of sorts?” That’s not a good sign. “I guess you’re talking about the Earth probes? I haven’t seen them but I know there’s a moon base towards the way I’ve come from.” She’s a bit startled by this information, but there’s a grim determination in her eyes that clashes with her personality. “Thanks for the information.” She’s very curt all of a sudden, and she looks like she’s about to fly off when she turns around and asks me a question. “Would you like to go there with me?”
>Say yes and lie about who you are. >Say yes and tell the truth. >Say no and go down the mountain. >Say no and go up the mountain.
Grim determination from a human after hearing about a lunar base just after asking about probes? It doesn't take a genius to guess that she's about to wreck some shit. I guess our rebel would want in on that
I’m not the most magically gifted person in the world, but I could tell that this girl had an aura of resolution around her, something so strong that I could feel it. This sort of person was someone who I needed, so I, albeit reluctantly, accepted her proposal, and got ready to set off with her.
I have the feeling I’m either incredibly lucky to meet such a gifted human so soon landing on Earth, or she’s not entirely a human. I’m probably a little slack jawed, because her previous grimness melted away to reveal a fretting frown, and all of a sudden she’s landed by me and is doting to see what’s wrong.
“Well, it’s rare to see flying humans around...” Curse my inability to put my thoughts into words! “Who are you, exactly?” Her face scrunches up and she’s suddenly looking quiet dejected and oh my that was the wrong choice wasn’t it. Wouldn’t flying humans be rare make her more noticeable anyway? “Wait, you’ve got the wrong idea! I’m not from around here, so I don’t know anybody.”
I think she’s realised my mistake. “Oh, if you say that, then it makes sense. That you wouldn’t know who I am.” I think she’s trying to think up a title for herself, but after a short pause she can feel how awkward it seems to be. “I’m Sanae Kochiya. The shrine maiden. Of Moriya!” That explains the get up then. It’s my turn to introduce myself, I suppose. Politeness separates people from beasts.
“My names Seiran. I don’t have a surname.” I try to be warm but it’s difficult to do so, then my greeting just ends up being brusque.
She fires off again. “You’re from the moon, aren’t you?” Whoa, how did she pick up on that, was it my accent? She must be pretty bright.
“I could tell by your uniform.” Or I’m just really obvious. No point in lying now, but I wasn’t going for subtly anyway.
“Yeah. Well, I was at one point. How much do you know about the moon?”
“Eh? How much? Well, Reimu keeps talking about how bad they were, but not really a lot...” At least they haven’t done anything bold yet. I think I need to reaffirm something when we get to the base again. Looks like I have another opportunity to cause some havoc on the lunar base, if they’re still searching for me we might be able to sneak in.
Once we’re flying it shouldn’t take long to get to the place again. I didn’t fly high before, but now we’re actively trying to get caught. I don’t understand the end goal of the lunarians but we might be able to get some information when we get there. Sanae doesn’t talk much, but whether this is due to determination or shyness needs to be seen.
Its not difficult to find the lunar base when you start looking for it, but they make sure its hidden so at least nobody strays into it by accident. In the same way I could walk out of it before, the lunar base is so filled with activity that nobody bats us an eye, even when we came flying in from a pretty long distance. Was I that important?
“Hey, you, who goes there!” Looks like I spoke too soon. Thank my lucky stars only one person had seen us and nobody else.
“Hey, don’t be like that! I’m just taking an Earthling for interrogation, that’s all.”
My acting was either very good, or he had more important things to worry about, because he just gave a gruff ‘meh’ and went on his way. The rest of the trip was uneventful. Those rifles make me worried though.
I saw an opportunity and I went for it – at the side of a sizeable warehouse was a subtle entrance, perfect for taking away a captive. I made sure to sell my acting by pushing Sanae through it, looking pissed the entire time. As I shut the door behind us, so did the noise fade out.
Sanae was not pleased. “Why did you have to push me through there like that!” She looked more upset I didn’t tell her before than she did at the actual act.
“There’s roughly two types of rabbits, Sanae.” It’s crucial I get this through to her. “There’s the zealous brainwashed people who will do anything they can to help the regime, and there’s those who have seen enough and just want to get on with their lives. The nail that sticks out gets hammered down and all.”
“Ok… Still, that was really cool how you handled that so smoothly!” Rats, she just deflected my monologue. “Where did you learn to be so suave?”
She’s like a little teen all of a sudden, pouncing on her idol. I feel so constricted in this tiny room, its making me a bit light headed. “Well, I used to do a bit of spying back in my day...”
“Spying?!” Crap, I’ve just made her more excitable. “Did you have a secret base? Did you ever get the girl in the end? Oooo, you must’ve had a secret code name! What was it?”
How do I let her down lightly!? “Sanae, spying is not nearly as glamorous as you think it is.” Finally, I’ve said something clever. “It was days on end of gruelling surveillance, and trawling through endless catalogues without an end in sight. Its completely unrewarding, and soul crushingly depressing.” Time to introduce the truth into this. “It was probably the worst job to have in the rebel force.”
Through most of my speech, she was looking pretty dejected, but her faces lights up at the instance of ‘rebel.’ “Woah, that must’ve been pretty cool.”
‘Pretty cool.’My entire life, watered down into two words. I should feel more angry, or any other emotion other than apathy, but I know I signed up this job without asking for anything. ‘Pretty cool’ is what is assigned to footnotes, and I guess that’s all that ever came of it.
I’m good at acting. I’m good at pretending. I just kind of mumble “thanks” and try to ignore my emotions.
The room we had stumbled into looked hideous. Small and oblique, nothing here seemed to be of importance, the beige wallpaper vomit inducing. I stuck my head out the door, to find a hallway stretching to both sides of me, covered in the same horrible colour.
“Hey Sanae, come check this out.” No point in beating around the bush.
“Urm, what did you want me to see.” Back to shy mode again.
“Look here. The corridor stretches both ways here, and I have this sneaking suspicion its going to be pretty big. I came here expecting a warehouse and I get what looks like an old office block. Obviously, the only course of action is...”
>Split up to cover more ground >Stick together to stay safe >Blow the place to the ground >Peaceful demonstration to show the lunarians the errors of their ways >Write in
I’m seriously tempted by the idea of razing the whole building to the ground, considering what could be hidden in it, but there has to be something we can use here.
“… to find out some sort of information, or maybe an office for someone higher up. That will have plenty to offer. Come on Sanae” I take her and we both go to the left, away from the entrance, further into the complex.
Past the first turn, the hallway evolves into a wider area, with doors on both sides of the place, stretching for a while before veering off to the left. I tell Sanae to get about to work, and we try each and every single one of the doors, like clockwork. Left, right, left right, the rattle of door handles compliments our busywork. I suspected the building was an office, but every third door or so has a small metal table next to it. The majority of these lie empty, but I encountered one that puzzled me, 9 doors down.
“Shouldn’t that belong in a hospital?” Sanae must’ve noticed I had stopped trying the doors, and was looking towards the syringe I had picked up.
“Have you ever seen carpet in a hospital? I didn’t think so. Maybe this place is some sort of hybrid building? Or maybe this is actually a hospital and the guy who designed it was a moron.” The most likely option was someone was being interrogated here. I didn’t tell Sanae that. I decided to put the syringe back where I had found it, in case it might give away the fact we were here.
It took about four more sets of doors before something of interest came up, this time Sanae found it. “Ahh, this door opens!” I turn around to see Sanae go through, into the gloom. “I wonder where the light switch is...” I can hear her fumbling around near the wall, while I wait for her. “Ahh! There we go.”
I… seemed to be correct about the place being an office, however this place looks like something out of a horror film. As far as I can tell, there didn’t seem to be any blood, but it was obvious something caused a massive panic. Three rows of desks on each side lead forward into another door, possibly the office for these worker’s superior, but there was the addition of a massive gash on the left side, stretching from just above the floor to become three meters tall. It didn’t tear the wall, not quite, but there were at least four discrete layers of plaster and wallpaper. Papers were thrown across the entire floor, and most of the computer systems lay flat on the ground ,probably pushed down as people tried to get away from… something. A couple of desks lay overturned, discarding their paperwork on the carpet.
I enter the room. Sanae seems to stir from her hypnotism, and she turns to face me. If she’s upset, she’s doing a good job of hiding it. “I think we just stumbled into something really big.” I find myself bending down, to look at the papers that lay on the ground. Words blended together on the paper, forming an incomprehensible mess of tax work and small print.
“Hey, Sanae, can you cast some sort of magic to see what made the tear?”
She’s apprehensive about answering, instead looking back over the wall, but soon enough she faces me again, resolved to do it. “I can try a couple of things, but it will take a while.”
“Perfect, I was going to check out this room first, and then try the next one.” First, I paced the aisle looking for anything that would seem out of place. Any sort of different coloured paper, or perhaps some envelopes. By the second sweep, I had accumulated a sizeable pile of assorted papers.
You would think that an office might have some more useful information pertaining to current events, but 10 minutes of skim reading shows me nothing I don’t already know – the Moon has sent people to Earth, because of some sort of threat on the Moon. The only insight I gained was the fact that they sent people to Gensokyo first, a name I didn’t recognise.
I kept pacing the room, looking for anything that might help. Old memos, any sort of journal or just something that could give more hints to what’s going on. My search was futile, of course.
Sanae seemed to still be busy with inspecting the gash, having drawn out a complex rune on the ground, in which she sat. Strange incantations emanated from her, so I decided to test my luck on the far door, leading into the bosses room. Hopefully.
>Bust down the door >Pick the door’s lock >Keep checking papers >Check outside the room for clues
Sorry, I had no idea where to take this until tonight. This might not even bet the best approach
Lock picking isn’t a skill you forget easily. It’s handy and it’s entertaining. An exercise in dexterity and patience. It’s also exceedingly more difficult without the proper tools on hand. My mind tends to wander whilst I’m doing these sorts of things, but I managed to find some especially hardy paper clips for a tension wrench. See, people think its the pick that is necessary to open a lock, but the tension wrench is the most important tool, because it keeps all your work in place whilst you work on the next pin.
It takes longer than I anticipated, but I finally managed to get the last pin in place. My handiwork is rewarded with the lock turning, and I enter the room.
After the lights come on, its clear someone has tried very hard to recreate their own bosses room, except the intended intimidation doesn’t work when there’s a half meter gap between the door and the desk, and barely no room to move around in. The cabinet in the left corner of the room was overflowing in two compartments and the desk next to it was covered in what looked like years of abuse. Whoever owned- no, owns- this desk hasn’t bothered to take good care of it. Scratches and stains were the least worrying part, as a pretty large gouge had been carved out of the top.
There was an envelope sitting on the top of the largest pile of scrap paper, on a whim, I took it and did the courtesy of opening it for them, a Mr Ringo. That date can’t be correct.
Suddenly, every single paper in the room was precious. Each one was at least 60 years from the last time I remember the day. 3421 P.C. was the furthest I had seen. That placed my cryostasis as lasting about 75 years. That’s far, far beyond what a normal sleep cycle should last without permanent damage. A person needs to be woken up every 20 years, at the latest, to prevent brain damage from occurring.
It takes a while, but I manage to steel myself so that I can continue looking over the papers in more scrutiny. I’m now conscious of the time I’ve wasted messing around, but all the letters start to blur as my brain refuses to let go. It’s mostly just keywords I’m looking for at this point, but nothing seems to be suspicious. Not on the desk at least.
My hope starts to run thin as I go through the drawers, one by one, until I get to the bottom drawer. I don’t think I’ve seen such a badly hidden fake bottom in a while, where “bottom” is halfway up the drawer. It takes some stress, but I pull the drawer out and place it on the top of the desk. Like usual, the drawer has observation notes on Earth and Gensokyo, but its mostly notes on fauna, and nothing alarming. The fake bottom is the most interesting part.
A gun, and a folder. The gun is a model I don’t recognise, but it’s more of a hand cannon than a gun. Flipping open the chamber shows its already loaded with the standard seven bullets, and the text reads 82 mm diameter. I don’t think I can take down someone exceptionally powerful with it, but it will be enough to stop them in their tracks. Anyone apart from them won’t be getting up for a while, maybe never. Even the grip is cold, and that’s got some special adaptive foam as a handle.
I stow it in my trousers waistband.
It weighs heavily on me, but I feel comfortable carrying such high fire power. Unfortunately there weren’t any spare bullets, but I’ll take what I can get.
By coincidence, Sanae pokes her head into the room just as I finish stowing away the gun. It’s better if she doesn’t know, after all. “Hey, Seiran, I’m done with the spell” It’s not a good sign when people look confused after those words, but I wave her into the office regardless.
“So, what did you find? As you can see,” I wave my hand over the office. “I’ve been through the whole place and found only one small folder. I was going to go through it right now, in fact.”
“Seiran, you’re shaking” Oh, so I am. I open my mouth to explain.
I close it. I want to tell her everything but I can’t. I’ve never been so afraid, I’ve lost everything I’ve ever known. I want to vomit.
I open my mouth to explain. “I just found out I probably have been frozen for longer than seventy years, maybe seventy five. I can’t give an exact date.” I can’t look her in the eye. Why do I feel so guilty when I did nothing wrong? When I did the correct thing, and not tell a stranger all my worries as soon as I met her?
Sanae doesn’t care I didn’t tell her immediately, Sanae just hugs me instead.
“We can do this Seiran. I know we can.” She breaks her hug to look me in the eye. “I can tell your remarkably brave, much, much braver than I would have given any person credit for.” It’s what I have to do.
I resolve to steer us back into work; its been a while since we came in here and there’s still no signs of people moving. It seems to me that they’ll start sending workers back in here soon.
“So, lets start with you.” It’s always awkward after something heart warming. “What did you find from the gash?” I can tell that the girl’s a little peeved from the fact that I got straight back into work, but it’s necessary.
She starts rambling a little, unsure at first but with more fervour as she goes on.
“I didn’t understand what the spell was telling me, not at first. It was a confusion of horror and disgust and anger at the world, all these feelings were flowing into and out of me, trying to find something to unleash it on.” She pauses, for breath and to think. “It was definitely someone mortal, and it was definitely someone close by. This much I am sure of, although I have no idea what the rest means”
Finally, something we can look at, something that is tangible. “Let’s take a look at these documents now.”
I’m almost disappointed, but it’s not as bad as it looks. “I can’t read this script.” All these runes, and so many of them. “It doesn’t look untranslatable, but it seems to be a mix of Old Lunarian and some sort of cipher language.” However, that doesn’t mean it’s completely useless at the moment.
Me and Sanae get to work, spreading the documents across a patch of table not used. Every single one gets scrutinised for any sort of information easily available. From the gist of things, we manage to discover that it was a log of some sort, possibly a surveillance file. The pictures are the most important thing, showing the landscape of the far side of the Moon. Bizarrely, Sanae finds what seems to be medical logs on a rabbit, judging from how it’s organised on the sheet and the photo attached. Why would it be here, in code language?
By the end of our shuffle around, we gain 10 questions for each answer we solve. Dates are easy find, and we pieced together a very vague reason for the invasion. Namely, something is attacking the moon, and someone strong enough to hold their attention for over 5 months, at least.
“There’s still one big thing that’s really bugging me Sanae, what’s this ‘Gensokyo’ they keep writing about?” I thought I could make some sense of a couple of words in the folder, and this one kept cropping up.
“It’s a bit hard to explain” Sanae sits down in the office chair to ponder, sinking into it a little. “We’re in Gensokyo right now, actually. You know how the Lunarian world isn’t accessible to normal earthlings?” She’s smirking, probably because she just used earthling legitimately.
“Yeah, yeah. They put those seals up right back when the capital was founded.” It’s slightly worrying I’m struggling to remember history drilled into me when I was learning, but I push that thought aside.
“Well, Gensokyo was made in the same way. A bunch of really powerful mages got together and sealed off a tonne of youkai, to make sure they can survive.” Her face creases to pout. “Most normal people stopped believing in them all, youkai, gods, ghosts, whatever! They could only live without worry in this area of dense belief. There’s still some youkai out there, outside Gensokyo, but it’s getting harder and harder.”
She’s getting emotional again, this time with some sort of patriotism for Gensokyo. “That’s why I want to make sure this place is fine, because there’s no where else for my gods, there’s nowhere else for youkai, and I don’t want this place to be lost!”
I’m feeling a bit motivated by that speech myself. Sanae really gives it her all whenever it’s required, it seems. All in all, our expedition wasn’t a complete failure, but now we need a new plan of action. I am keenly aware of how much time we have already spent here.
>Leave the building as soon as possible. >Leave the office, but continue searching the building. >Search the office again one last time. >Attempt to find the person who made the gash. >Write in