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[X] Um. What?
[X] How does...?
[X] ... Cool.
"Um..." Please stop looking at me like that Rika. No matter how much you stare at me, I'm still going to need a minute to try and think of anything intelligent to say here. Maybe more than a few minutes to be honest. This is just so much higher than the level of technology that we were briefed to expect down here! Did command do any kind of recon before shipping us out? I mean, I have to guess the answer is no, or they would know how stupidly underequipped we are for the job. A robot thing that size? It could have just stomped the purification drone into the ground without a problem, right? Did we ever even stand a chance of succeeding at all? Considering how without us, the capital is just stuck in the dream world indefinitely, it strikes me as really odd that command put so little resources into actually making it so we could pull this off.
... Not that I really like the idea of purifying things, especially now that I know about the area that we started in initially. In a way, I'm glad that we failed. If the drone had kept expanding the area it was working on, it would have run into the Moriya shrine before too long. Just the idea of destroying Sanae's place and everything... No. They don't deserve that.
But um, anyway, I'm kind of getting away from the point here. Probably because I still don't know what to actually say or do about the main point in the first place. I don't have enough worldly experience to properly react to the sudden appearance of giant robots. My bad I guess? If it's any consolation, I'm trying to fix it right now. It's going poorly, but I am trying.
I just... I need more details here, I think. Maybe focusing in on something specific will help. "So, what are those, specifically?"
"I... Yes," I really should have seen that response coming. "I-I know. Aaand?"
Rika glances back at the indentations where the robots are being held for a moment, then back at me. She shrugs, saying nothing else despite my prompt.
I have to work really hard to suppress a sigh. Not very much ground gained. Not much specific to focus on. Rika just seems to have a way of speaking that prevents me from making any real progress. "Okay... Okay. How does um," I pause, trying to pick a question that can't just be answered in one word. "How does Earth have something like this already?" Is what I end up settling on.
There's a brief metal tapping noise from beneath Rika, followed by her beginning to slowly float along the length of the walkway. I'm not going to let her get away, even if I don't think she's really trying to. I follow along anyway, just in case.
"Why wouldn't we? It's not really anything impressive," She says after a moment, looking across the room instead of at me. If we weren't the only ones here, I would almost think she was talking to somebody else. "Stuff in my head is way better than both of them, though the little bro is getting a bit closer the more I work on it. The big brother? Yeah, he was hopeless, and still has a long way to go. Like I said, a kappa project. Couldn't do much, only steam powered, meant for advertisement of something or other. A waste really."
"Advertisement?" What, was it going to walk around holding a big sign or something? Wouldn't that freak people out more than attract them? I can't imagine the normal humans from the village understanding this. Heck, I barely understand it.
"Originally, yeah. I thought that's what Kanako bought it off them for too, at first," Rika continues. I'm noticing that she's gliding along smoothly. What exactly is that thing she's standing on anyway? "I didn't even get to finish complaining about all the design shortcomings before she said I'm supposed to make another one. A real one, with combat modifications and actual features. Change it to be nuclear instead of steam powered, make it so someone could pilot it, improve durability, flight speed, manuverability, harder, better, faster, stronger, and all the rest of it. The kappa've been making changes to the original based off my design on the new one ever since... And I guess they've been helping a little in their own way too."
Okay, so it's one of Rika's projects then. I guess I have to expect that she, along with the rest of the people down here, have to spend their time working on something. I just wouldn't have expected that something to be this. "What for?"
"Eh?" Rika finally turns back to me, a confused grimace twisted onto her face. Was my question really that strange?
"What are they for?" I emphasize.
Rika's expression turns to one of bemusement instead. A little better I guess. "... I don't think you're asking the right questions here," Well what else am I supposed to ask?! "Look, sometimes some things just need to be built," She stresses, making a long, sweeping gesture toward the robots as we walk toward them. "We need to make progress and advance forward technologically. It's something the boss lady is big on. Science doesn't have enough of a place in our normal society, people just aren't interested. We have to stay separate so we can work on things that need to get done. Advance technology enough on our own, and people are bound to want to follow, whether it's for convenience or just because we've made something too amazing to ignore. I think that's what she was saying anyway. Might've paraphrased a bit."
By the time Rika has finished her speech, we've made it to the silos on the side of the room. The walkway puts us at just about chest level of the robots, the lack of distance making the whole thing look a little bit more real, and therefore more intimidating. "And you're uh, planning to use this robot for that?" While this thing is pretty amazing, I don't know if it'll inspire people to follow the Moriya shrine like Kanako wants. If anything I can imagine it making people panic, though I guess maybe Kanako might know more than I do.
"If that's the plan higher up, sure," Rika answers back, sounding pretty non-committal about it as she climbs up over the railing and onto the walkway next to me. "I haven't been told if it is though. I'm just working on it because I want to. Not everything we finish down here has to see the light of day. Long as it meets my standards, we're good."
"Uh... Huh." Didn't she just get done calling the original robot, the one that actually got used for its intended purpose, a waste? What is her criteria here?
"So, any comments?"
That's just a bit of a loaded question, I think.
To be honest, I'm a little worried about these things. Sure, Rika hasn't said much about what it can actually do offensively, but that's not really the problem. A nuclear powered, walking, flying robot. More than one of them, in fact. Even if the Moon can handle something like this relatively easily, what about the rest of Gensokyo? How would they deal with the threat of two giant robots looming over them? What about three or more? Could these things end up mass produced? Is Kanako going to build so many of them that she can just overrun Gensokyo and rule it or something?
Although... I might be going a bit overboard here. I'm assuming a slippery slope that doesn't necessarily exist. Rika isn't even finished with one of these, and building more of them can't possibly be cheap or easy. They don't have the space or resources to mass produce a bunch of hundred meter tall robots down here. Even if that were the case, I have a feeling that something like an invasion of giant Moriya shrine robots would be treated as an incident, and people like Marisa or Reimu would deal with it with the same kind of efficiency (and extreme prejudice) that Reisen had when she dealt with the one I was in. That's what they do, right? The impression I've gotten from talking to miscellaneous youkai is that they're quite good at it too.
And also, I mean, technically it's not my problem right now. It's an Earth thing.
"Honestly," If you push aside all the little nagging worries that they cause, "I think they're pretty cool," Really though, command wouldn't build something like this, and even if they did, I would never get a chance to be so close to it. They'd probably keep it a secret forever, or at the very least not tell the random soldiers about it. As it is right now, I could basically lean out over the edge of the railing here and touch the bright red, metal chestplate of this thing, and I could probably get Rika to tell me about it pretty easily. Pretty big difference there.
... Huh, you know now that I think about it, I guess I technically can't rule out the idea that the Moon does have giant robots and I just haven't heard about them. Seems a bit too whimsical though. Moriya shrine? Sure. Lunar defense corps? Probably not.
"Pretty cool," Rika repeats, nodding a couple of times before apparently thinking better of it. "Be much cooler when it's done. Still having problems with the finer motions, dexterity, and some of the user interface. Thing's clumsy in more ways than one. More ways than I am."
"What can they actually do then?" Clumsiness isn't really a trait that I would normally want to associate with a giant robot.
"Right now? Mostly walk around, pick stuff up, fly for a while," Rika lists off, leaning somewhat precariously over the railing to look the second of the two giant robots up and down. "Got a hell of a punch too. Later I'm gonna strap more danmaku cannons and lasers and stuff onto it so it can fight better, the current design is one of my old ones. Sanae also says that we gotta make it so it can transform, or maybe combine with the original. Not sure how she's gonna get that part approved, but I'd be down to try it as long as I get to set the standards for both systems."
"Huh, so it's already usable then?" That sounds like most of the things you would want a robot like this to be able to do on a basic level at least. If there's supposed to be more to the thing, it sounds like even Rika doesn't know about it.
"More than Hisoutensoku mark one, at least." Hisoutensoku? Is that the name? Doesn't really roll off the tongue, does it? Rika apparently catches something in my expression, because she quickly mutters "Working title."
That aside though, it sounds like it's usable to a degree, but still has a while to go. Unfortunate, but I guess it doesn't matter that much to me. Originally I was kind of thinking that maybe we could use this thing to help with our mission, but even if it was completely finished, something this big wouldn't fit through the portal that we're going to use in the first place. I guess Rika was more showing me this to show off or something, or more likely she didn't put much thought into it at all. I kind of have a feeling I'm not even supposed to be in this hangar in the first place.
"Want to go for a ride?"
As it turns out, the silos that both Hisoutensokus are in can go either up or down. Inputting a few commands into a wall mounted control panel, the platforms that the robots are standing on can be raised or lowered. Raising them up and out of the hangar eventually puts them in a large, mostly vertical shaft which, once the thing launches and flies up, will apparently let out into the main hole in the ground that we've been coming in and out of the plant from. Obviously, using that is kind of out of the question right now. It would mean flying a giant robot around Gensokyo, and that's the kind of thing that draws a bit too much attention.
Instead, if you set the platforms to lower, you drop the robots down into a tunnel, which leads out into the underground. More specifically, the Remains of Blazing Hell part that Sanae showed off to me during an earlier walk through the plant. The part where everything is either on fire, made of fire, or next to a fire. Possibly all three things at once.
And that is, unfortunately, the area that we're allowed to ride the robot around in.
"Um, maybe you should try adding a bit of air conditioning into your design?" I try to make the suggestion gently, but I almost feel like I'm getting cooked. This is way hotter than I'm used to, and having somebody sitting practically on top of me doesn't help. Bleh, I'm sweating already.
"I did," Rika answers bluntly, not even turning her head back to me. Instead, she opens a panel in one of the armrests of the seat, giving it a glance. "It's working too. Nice."
The cockpit of Hisoutensoku mk. II is situated in the upper torso, inside the chest part where the armor is the thickest and most durable, which makes complete sense, sure. The problem is that it really isn't made for two people. I had some misgivings when Rika opened the thing up and told me that we were going to have to share a seat. Now that she's sitting in my lap, piloting the thing like I'm not even here, I have even more issues with it.
I don't have anyone else to blame but myself really. She offered a chance to ride around in the thing, so obviously I took the opportunity. "When am I ever going to get a chance to do something like this again?" was the thought process I had in my head. Now a big part of me is hoping that the answer to that is never.
There are a couple of screens in here, showing the scene outside the robot from the perspective of its eyes, as well as another one that seems to be from the chest. Redundancy I guess. Aside from that, I can't really think of what most of this stuff even is. Too many blinking lights, gauges, meters, and switches with not enough labels. It seems kind of crude compared to what I would expect if people from the Moon were to build it, but I guess that's to be expected. To Rika's credit at least, she doesn't seem to be having a difficult time getting the thing going, and all she's had to use to pilot it are a couple of arm controllers, as well as some pedals under her feet.
"I'm gonna get it up to speed. Hold on to something," She mutters back to me. What do-there's nothing to hold on to! "Other than me." That just makes it worse!
The back and forth rocking of the robot intensifies as the pace of its steps speed up. We're still walking around the ground, somehow managing to not sink into the molten lava or catching on fire. At least the robot seems pretty durable, given that I can both hear and feel the crunching of stone underneath us with every step. We move from slow steps to a power walk to a brisk jog, the whole machine shaking more intensely the entire time. I clutch the arms of the pilot's seat as much as I can, but still feel myself being shaken around enough that my butt hurts.
"This is um... Kind of way more dangerous than I thought it would be," I say, trying not to let the worry leak through my voice too much.
"It's fiiiine," Rika insists, pushing forward harder. The robot responds by breaking out into a run. Rika urges it forward verbally as well, leaning forward in my lap. "C'mon c'mon..." Suddenly she pulls back with her arms, slamming her feet down on a different set of pedals "Yeah!"
I feel a lurching sensation as we lift off. Not anywhere close to as easy or comfortable as normal flying, the robot blasts into the air, flying above the burning ground of the Remains of Blazing Hell. Its body flattens out horizontally, giving the screen showing the chest level view a good view of all the fire we're flying over. The head view keeps itself oriented forward, showing us soaring past a collection of ravens, fairies, and the vengeful spirit thing Sanae warned me about earlier. As we get higher, we even have to dodge out of the way of the occasional stalactite.
Rika whoops excitedly, pulling back a little bit to make the robot fly a bit more slowly. We're still cruising along, but at least I don't feel like we're going to crash into something at the slightest mistake. Luckily it seems like the underground is quite a bit bigger than I expected.
Unluckily, I am hot, sweaty, cramped, a little achey, kind of terrified, and in a place that I'm probably not supposed to be just because I was curious about riding in a giant robot. I can appreciate that Rika seems to be having fun, but this might have been a bad idea in the first place. If she's just doing this to test things out, I don't know if I want to be a test dummy for her. We haven't even hit a point where this thing's supposed clumsiness is a problem yet.
[ ] Try to get Rika to go back
[ ] Screw it, if Rika's fine, we can keep going until she's satisfied
Hello thanksgiving holiday break, you certainly are playing hell with my schedule.
Also I figured there was no point in having a 'get in the fucking robot' or 'don't do that' vote so I skipped it to go a bit further than that.