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File 148264214210.png - (422.47KB , 1400x600 , I think it's time we blow this scene.png ) [iqdb]
29615 No. 29615
[X] Which means you've got responsibilities, here. Estimate as truthfully as ya can.

Which means you've got responsibilities.

Regardless of any douchenozzle tendencies this dude in front of you's displayin'.

Nuts. “Eight dollars,” ya say, puttin' the disc back down. “I'm gonna say 'bout eight dollars.”

Rika does a squinchin' of the peepers, royal. “You paused,” she says.

“I didn't pause.”

“You paused,” Rika says again. “Before you named your price, you paused.”

“That wasn't a pause,” ya say. “That was more like a happenstantial ellipsis.”

“That would be a pause. That's a pause. An ellipsis denotes a pause.”

“As the dude who either did or didn't pause, I think I can tell if I paused or not, which I didn't,” ya say. “Tell 'er, Mac. Tell 'er I didn't pause.”

Rinnosuke sits there lookin' ya both askance, cheek of his mug restin' easy in his palm.

“Mac,” ya say again.

“She didn't pause,” Rinnosuke says. His syllables come out half-squashed, squeezin' between his lips and the hand he's not even botherin' to move away for understandability.

But that's good enough. “See?” ya say, whirlin' back to the dude ya like least here. “I didn't pause. Eight smackers, over easy. Whaddya iratin' at me for, anyways? That's scant compared to what the others're worth.”

“My problem is that the more you talk, the more I think that you're simply making these prices up as you go.

Well, ya can't say she's wrong.

“You're wrong,” ya say.

Or ya guess ya can. Whoops! And with that, ya flip label-side-up the grand finale of disc procession and—oh, wait, this last one's actually just tax preparation software. Talk about an anticlimax. “Yo Mac, how'dja score these again?” ya ask. “Singularly.”

Now he takes the hand off. “Three hundred yen each,” he says.

“Yeah—ya got this one right, I think. So the total is...”

And then ya don't say what the total is, 'cause ya realize something. Ya realize something kinda significant.

“Hey, Mac?” ya say, out into the open air. “What's three hundred yen in dollars?”

“I still don't know that.”

“Right, gotta ballpark. Lemme see—it's prolly three dollars—”

“An exact one to one hundredth exchange rate?” Rinnosuke interrupts ya. “That seems unlikely.”

“I said I was ballparkin' it, didn't I?” Not that the dude hasn't got a point. “Okay, we'll round it down. Let's say two-fifty. See, we're not cheatin' ya here.” That last bits directed Rikawards—

Not that said dude appreciates it. “I don't know what you're doing,” says Rika. “You don't know what you're doing—”

“Wait,” says Rinnosuke. “What price did you set the others?”

“Ten, fifteen, eleven, eight. So if ya add those together—”

“Forty-six point five. Wait, forty-six point five what?”

“Forty-six point five dollars.”

I don't sell in dollars.

“Yo, dig it, Mac. Did I ever steer ya wrong? Just means we've gotta convert back to yen again. So if three hundred yen is two point five dollars—”

“This is mathematics,” Rinnosuke mutters. “Where did I put my brush?”

“Excuse me.”

“Gotta be straight with ya, Mac, it might not be two point five dollars. We're imaginin' all kindsa spherical cows here.”

Rinnosuke pauses fumblin' 'cross his desk to glance atcha. “I don't know what that means.”

“Sorta like when the teach tells ya to put down g as ten in baby's first physics class.”

“I don't know what that means, either—ah.” Rinnosuke locates his instrument all flourishy, then drags a thing of paper in and starts jottin'. “Three hundred yen is two point five dollars—”

Excuse me.

“Wait a sec, Mac,” ya stop 'im. “Write it as a fraction. Or actually, no, gimme the brush.”

“Oh, do you have another method of working out the amount?”

“Definitely, Mac. I'm not gonna tell ya it's better, 'cause I don't know, but I know I can work it out.”

“Go ahead—I'm interested in seeing this, now.”

“Lemme see if I remember, first. Ya set it up as ratios, and...yo, hold up, six hundred equals five? That's totally not right—”

Excuse me!

The both of ya look up from the scratch paper that's already startin' to look more scratch than paper. Hey, writin' with a tool like this is mad difícil, okay? More importantly, that's not a good look adornin' Rika's mug there, and also her everything else. Looks straight up frumious. Clenched fists and jaws and everything.

“Yes?” Rinnosuke says.

“What's up?” ya say, simultaneous.

“I'm not paying that amount.”

You and Rinnosuke mull that over, just for a tick.

“What?” Rinnosuke says.

“I'm not paying that much,” Rika says. “I was never going to pay that much—I have a budget.”

“Arentcha jumpin' steps here, dude?” ya ask.

“You don't know what the final price will be, yet,” adds Rinnosuke.

“I don't need to know the final price; it's obviously too much—I can tell it's too much, even now.” She picks up the eight-dollar disc, displayin' atcha the specterish soldier gracin' the label of it. “How much is this one? It's the second-cheapest.”

You and Rinnosuke hunch back over your inkin'—oh, wait, there ya go; flubbed your ratios. No wonder the math fell over into itself the moment you took your hand away. Some multiplication, a little long division, and you've got a number that actually looks reasonable. “So that's nine hundred and sixty yen,” you come out with, while Rinnosuke double-checks your figures.

“And added to this one—” and Rika lifts the tax software, “one thousand two hundred sixty yen.”

“Yeah, that's how addition works. Cash, credit, or debit?”

“What?”

“Ha ha, just kiddin'! I know prolly they don't have ATMs in Gensokyo. Just fork over the moola dude.”

What?

“I believe she's asking you to pay what we're owed,” says Rinnosuke. Which—yeah, duh.

Rika's mug goes real still, 'cept for her eyes. The CD she's liftin' lowers, just a bit, catchin' the light. Not as much as it would if it was shiny-side-out instead of soldier-side-out, but it catches the light.

“I have a budget,” she says. “That price falls only just inside it.”

“Lucky, dude,” ya say.

“If you hadn't changed the prices I would have been able to buy all these items and stay in my budget.”

Ya glance at Rinnosuke, who glances back doin' a sorta shrug that's done without shoulders. “True,” ya say.

“But you changed the prices.”

“Also true,” ya say.

“That's not fair. You—just changed the prices. You took what I thought was fine to pay and you made it more.”

“It's not so much the price increased,” Rinnosuke cuts in. “Rather, what you're paying now is what these items were worth all along.”

“And I still have to pay more,” says Rika, totally not up for digestin' Rinnosuke's logic, no matter how logicky it actually is. The CD shifts again, this time more youwards. “If she hadn't readjusted these prices, I wouldn't have to.”

“If you want to blame anybody, blame me for underpricing these items in the first place.”

“And you're going to keep doing it? You're going to keep having her raise the prices, and raise the prices—if she raises the prices, what am I supposed to sell anything for? There isn't any profit.”

Ya blink. “Wait, that's what you're all steamed about? Not makin' so much on the markup?”

“At least I buy,” Rika says, and it's kinda unnervin', how this dude can pitch so close to shoutin' with her face so tight. “There's nothing wrong with selling what I've bought—you aren't going to sell; I've been here enough to know—if I sell what I buy and buy off what I sell there's nothing wrong with that.”

Ya glance at Rinnosuke, flickerin' your eyes between the significant parties in this deal. That means, “Yo, Mac, is this normal?”

Rinnosuke shifts, lookin' all way very uncomfy, which you're pretty sure means, “No.” “That's fine,” he says to Rika, his supercooled shopkeep persona holdin' together in all the main places. “But I can't let you leave with anything I sell here unless you pay for it, first.”

Rika opens her yap again—but nothing comes out, even though her teeth gnash and her lips work and her neck arches like that's where all the words are jammed. She looks at Rinnosuke—at you. All around her, like maybe there's some backup here she missed that's just about to rise to her defense in a super-dramatic movie moment.

“So, this is going to keep happening,” she croaks. “You're just going to raise the prices—raise the prices—and that's it? Because she says so? So she's an Outsider—who is she to say? Authority—what authority? Whose authority does she have—”

Dicunt ei: Cæsaris.

The three of you—you, Rinnosuke, Rika—turn like a trio of tops to look at the new voice in the matter.

Rumia stands center stage, arms outstretched, somewhere between standin' and floatin' and balancin' on her own two feet.

Tunc ait illis: Reddite ergo quæ sunt Cæsaris, Cæsari: et quæ sunt Dei, Deo,” she says, and ya don't understand any of it, but you're pretty sure this is the opposite of backup.

Well, whatever it is, it settles it. Mug stone-still, throat bobbin', she transfers the moola from her person to the desktop, takin' the appropriate discs in exchange.

“Thank you for your continued patronage,” says Rinnosuke.

“No problem,” Rika definitely doesn't say even slightly, as she tries to set Rinnosuke on fire with her mind. And then, like a windup doll that hasn't gotten the hang of flesh yet, she walks 'cross the shop floor and then out.

There's a moment of perfect pin-droppin' silence. And then the whole shop seems to let loose its breath, expellin' this tenseness ya didn't even know was buildin' up, and you relax, lettin' your shoulders slump. It's maybe your imagination, but ya think ya feel Rinnosuke doin' basically the same next to you.

He handles the CDs Rika didn't buy, peerin' close up at 'em like he's tryin' to discern their secrets by eyeball alone. “These CDs...” he mutters. “Are they really worth so much?”

“Who cares?” ya say. “The important part's that we got leftovers. Where'dja put that CD player?”

“On the shelf above the radiator...” Rinnosuke sorta trails off in the tail end of that sentence. “Wait,” he says.

Oh, yeah, there it is, alright. And perched on top of it is that set of those headphones Rinnosuke was talkin' 'bout, a coupla weeks ago. You collect both. Or maybe more than both, if headphones are already a both, though that's kinda besides the point right now. “Cross your fingers, Mac,” ya chortle. “Barrin' some egregious scratches, we've got tunes incomin'!”

“Is that why you raised the prices? Only because you didn't want her to buy all of the CDs?”

“It's not an 'only' thing, Mac. I mean, like, ya seriously did have all these tunes underpriced—I just gave ya the out for pumpin' those prices up to proper. Now ya get to sell this stuff for more than just spare change, and I get to showcase for you the power of music. That's what we Outsider dudes call 'win-win.'” Ya glance at Rinnosuke there, and—

That look on his mug. It's...complicated.

“Hey,” ya say, rearrangin' priorities pronto. “Something wrong, Mac?”

Rinnosuke shakes his head, his facemood goin' back to normal. Well, Rinnosuke-normal. “That you'd done what you'd done for my benefit—I suppose is what I thought,” he 'splains, and—

There's something 'bout the way he says that, something real, and it makes ya wanna look at something else that isn't 'im, just real quick. Or someone else. Rumia. Ya look at Rumia.

Rumia looks at you.

Then Rumia's head does the minisculest of shifts and she's lookin' at Rinnosuke, which means you've gotta look at Rinnosuke after all, which ya don't wanna, but you've gotta.

So.

There's something itchin' at the insides of your epidermis. “Hey, Mac,” ya say.

“Hm?” Rinnosuke peers atcha, just over the rims of his glasses.

Ya realize, all of a sudden, thatcha didn't actually plan something to say. Ya open your mouth anyways.

The tank smashes through the wall.

“What?” says Rinnosuke.

“What,” says you, for related but not-exactly-the-same reasons.

The tank lumbers forwards, in through the giant hole where shop used to be, crushin' beneath its treads a whole lotta shelves and crates and knickknacks and tchotchkes that two and a half seconds ago quit bein' shelves and crates and knickknacks and tchotchkes real quick and started bein' rubble, instead. It's a weird tank, even excludin' the whole it's-a-tank-in-Gensokyo-isn't-that-how-things-aren't-supposta-be-here angle—hatted with something like a squat pyramid of a roof painted a bright healthy red with a yin-yang sign facin' forth, with a coupla thick ropey things hangin' from the frontal eaves and some zigzaggy papercraft hangin' from that to top it off.

But forget form, for a sec, 'cause there's the important part, which, yeah, ya maybe mentioned already, but it sorta bears repeatin', 'specially this moment:

That's a tank.

Like, legit. Made outta tank parts, with a turret and cannon and everything. A turret and cannon that're shiftin' on their own azimuth, angle-adjustin' till the whole deal is pointed properly, i.e. right atcha.

You're not gonna lie. This is not how ya saw this day goin'. “Down!” ya yell, and head there yourself.

The sound of the cannon going off is—actually, it's a lot less explodey than you figured it was gonna be. Like, not that you've had alotta 'sperience with tanks, but if a tiny gun goin' off makes a pretty strong blam, any dude'd 'spect a gun like like to make a blam immense, right?

Only it doesn't. Like, it's still a pretty good blam, as far as blams go. Seven out of ten blammage, which is a passin' grade. It's just...flat, is all. Like the sorta thing you'd get at your local laser tag maybe if the dude in charge sprung for the better SFX. Actually, if ya wanna be totally honest? It's not so much blam as blat, and the fact that's one letter off kinda makes it disappointinger. Like it got so far only to fall flat on its face a foot before the finish line.

Still puts another hole in the opposite wall, though.

Like, it's not a big hole. It looks like a fireman went to town on the wall, instead of a tank.

But that's still a hole.

You're really, seriously, totally glad ya ducked.

Rinnosuke, meanwhile, assesses the calamity with a calm eye. “What are you doing?” he says, leanin' forwards like the desk in front is the only think keepin' 'im from leapin'. “No fighting in the shop!

His specs are askew, the dude half-covered in dust from just standin' too close to the recent coupla instances of destruction alone. What you're sayin' is that he presents himself as less than a figure of authority right now.

So it's kinda surprisin' when the tank actually does lurch to a stop, treads jerkin' bit by bit till they've got themselves a nice place to perch on top of all the wall and not-wall (well, it's all not-wall now, but that's splittin' hairs). Then, after a moment longer, something in the roof of the machine shifts—the peak of the roof swingin' up and open like it's on hinges, pushed open by a dude's hand.

A moment after that, the rest of the dude follows.

It's Rika.

You really oughta be surprised here, but somehow? Not so much.

Rika's red-faced, pantin', and ya don't think it's all from bein' cooped up in that machine of hers. Her eyes run the room—at Rinnosuke, at you, at Rinnosuke, at yousettlin' on you before her mouth cracks open in a lopsided grin. “Extortionists,” she says—calls out, in a way you're nearly 'spectin' her to follow it up with “lend me your ears.”

She doesn't though. Just keeps grinnin', eyes wide and glassy.

“Dude,” ya say, holdin' your palms out in what you're pretty sure's the universal gesture for “calm the holy oak down.”

Unfortunately, this is totally the wrong move, on account of the fact that is kinda gives the dude with the tank something to focus on. Which she does. “You,” she says. “You did it.” Her peepers to Rinnosuke again. “You let it happen.”

Rinnosuke freezes mid-step, less like a dude tryin' to get significant tracks from a desk before another dude both with and in a tank notices what he's up to, and more like a dude tryin' to get significant tracks from a desk before another dude both with and in a tank notices what he's up to and failin'.

“Extortionist,” mutters Rika, her eyes goin' back to table-tennisin'. “Extortionist, extortionists, extortionists—”

The other half of Rika's smile perks, which does wonders for the dude's facial symmetry and also gives you a bad feelin' like you're gonna need to do some serious ruin' soon but ya don't know in what direction. She reaches down—sorta stoops, in her stand, still lookin' out the top as she fiddles onehandedly with whatever knobs and levers she's got workin' in there.

The turret—cannon attached, obvs—rotates outta your direction.

Which is cool.

It rotates in Rinnosuke's direction, which is not.

Extortionists don't get shops,” says Rika.

[ ] Run!
[ ] Hide!
[ ] Fight!
Expand all images
>> No. 29616
File 14826450898.jpg - (125.81KB , 392x409 , __fujiwara_no_mokou_and_houraisan_kaguya_touhou_dr.jpg ) [iqdb]
29616
[x] Fight!

WHAT THE FUCK

IS SHE INSANE?

IS THAT GENSOKYO'S FREE MARKET? SELL AT MY PRICES OR DIE?
>> No. 29617
[x] Fight!

Where's Reimu when you need her?
>> No. 29618
[X] Fight this nutter!

Maybe there's panzerfaust or bazooka or rpgs on Kourindou's storeroom?
>> No. 29619
[X] Run!
>> No. 29620
File 148267444037.png - (72.11KB , 255x371 , Louis.png ) [iqdb]
29620
[x] Fight!

Tank incoming!
>> No. 29621
[X] Fight!

RUMIA! HELP!
>> No. 29622
[☯] Fight!
>> No. 29624
[x] Fight!

I voted to low ball the prices out of kindness but this is simply rude and uncalled for.
>> No. 29626
>>29618

Does Rumia count?

[x] Fight!

Man this went from First Year Economics to Stalingrad real fast.
>> No. 29627
>>29626
We can't always count on Rumia for everything. This is just a tank
>> No. 29628
>>29627

Unless Christie is descendant from a World War II soldier that killed like 50 Panzers with a rock, we might just need some help here.
>> No. 29629
>>29628
Tanks are designed to destroy very large objects from very far away, which they are very good at doing. However, tanks are not designed to destroy individual people at point blank range, which is why infantry can take out a tank relatively easily. All Christie has to do is climb up the tank, open the hatch, and punch Rika right in the face.
>> No. 29630
>>29629

I feel like there is a fundamental misunderstanding of tanks here.
>> No. 29631
>>29630

I agree with you. A simple metal latch would Defeat 99.98% of mortals attempting this. I think we should give tank designers and builders some credit here, and say they probably put a lock on the hatch.
>> No. 29632
>>29631
This is a custom made tank that may or may not have a shrine on top of it. Functionality isn't a guarantee here
>> No. 29634
>>29632

A valid point. However; if we examine the ways this custom tank could have come into existence, we're left with only a few possibilities:

1. This tank was build in accordance with preexisting schematics based on European, Asian, or American tank specifications.

2. This tank evolved, from conception to construction, independant from non-Gensokyo tanks, with the similarities between the two a mere coincidence. Meaning it might not be locked.

3. This tank spontaneously congealed from the Aether. Without a lock.

4. Someone in Gensokyo saw a picture of a tank and said "Yes, I need this in my life."

5. This tank isn't any variation of "tank" we're discussing, but Chris is calling it a tank for lack of better word.

Though all these options are guesses, Occam's Razor tells us the best scenario to prepare for is option 1. Which means it's probably locked.

[X] Fight!

Because fuck logic. Rinnosuke risked going out in the cold to get us medicine, and I think he's entitled to one(1) act of selfless heroism in return.
>> No. 29635
Okay, okay, let's run down the options here.

[]Run: Unless we can reliably dodge tank munitions we're shit outta luck.

[]Hide: Yeah, no. Tanks laugh at the concept of hide and seek.

Which leaves [X]Fight. However that manifests. Though I'm reasonably certain we're not gonna get deaded given the general atmosphere of the story so far.
>> No. 29636
>>29635
I see a fourth opinion available, which is to climb on top and just sit right on the viewport until she's forced to open the hatch to get us off.

At which point we pop 'er roight in da kissah.
>> No. 29637
>>29636

That fall squarely under fight. Also, I like this plan.
>> No. 29638
>>29637
I consider it it less "fighting" and more "deliberately inconvenient inaction, followed by a punch in the face".

Remember, it's only a fight if the other guy punches back! Don't get in fights; make sure the first hit does it.
>> No. 29640
File 148411290016.jpg - (686.76KB , 1132x895 , tn_kiero_means_disappear.jpg ) [iqdb]
29640
See, /tg/ dude? I told you soon.

[X] Fight!

Ya act. The moment this dude's got her eyes trained outta your direction, ya run for it. Not away. 'Cause, like, that'd make sense, right? Run away from the angry dude behind the death cannon, and maybe if ya zigzag she won't time it right to getcha.

But no. Like ya said, that'd make sense. So that's not whatcha do. Instead, in that pinpoint in all of existence where both cannon and dude've forgotten you're even there, maybe, ya run at the both of 'em. Like, straight line. Ya aren't even disguisin' it here or tryin' to act in any way sneaky so it's no surprise that Rika notices the whole thing of you gettin' at 'er when you're only halfway and reacts like like any sane dude would.

Lucky for you, reactin' consists of fumblin' at her tank-insides to start swivelin' the cannon back atcha again, and by the time that starts happenin', you're already there—clamberin' up and over and onto the body of the whole deal, even as Rika's stopped rotatin' and started revvin' it tryin' to catch ya under the whole mess. She gets close—the toe of your sneaker fallin' into the shadow of the tank-front before ya manage to scramble it up after ya—but only close. And “close,” as you've heard one dude or another say, is a deal that only works out in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Speakin' of which: “Yo—Mac—got any hand grenades?”

Rinnosuke's standin' at the end of the room like a football player mid-play who's somehow still not sure which way to run. The only thing savin' his chattanooga at the mo is the fact that Rika looks to be operatin' similar, if the way the turret's jerkin' is anything to judge by. The cannon lurches back towards Rinnosuke—back towards you (totally ineffective as that'd be)—to him—to you—

Do I have what?” Rinnosuke says, and if it's a sorta distracted answer ya can't really blame 'im for it at the mo. Like, at all.

The cannon does another lurch, your way again, and then does a second lurch in the same direction. Ya look at Rika, who's lookin' at you pretty clearly now, eyes narrow, teeth showin' as she mutters something ya can't hear over the racket, and you suspect she's decided on a target here. “Grenades!” ya shout, as ya make yourself neighbor to the side of the cannon, which is a terrible place to be but prolly a lot better than straight in front. “Do ya have any grenades?”

“That's not an item familiar to me!”

Just say 'no,' Mac. But okay, then—time for plan B. Or at least it's gonna be time for that, once ya actually think up a plan B to put in motion. You're not gonna lie; ya sorta went off at this half-cocked here, which is the main reason the next thing ya do is grip onto the side of a tank cannon, sleeves protectin' your grippers as much as that counts for, as the turret the deal's attached to turns your way and then keeps turnin' your way—you attached—the dude turnin' it tryin' to dislodge ya off it so she can blast ya proper.

“Get off,” she says, and she's not mutterin' now. “Get off, get off, get off get off get off—”

Yeah, ya kinda wish she'd get back to mutterin'. “Yo, Mac!” ya yell. “Stop this crazy thing!”

And how exactly do you expect me to do that—

The idea gets moot, though—in a good way—'cause another ring-'round-the-rosie between you and the cannon and ya swing just right to find a place to stand, lettin' yourself get deposited back onto the tank front like a dude steppin' off at the train station (the cannon continues, clippin' ya odd over the skull on the pass, but that's just gravy—you can count bumps and bruises later).

From there, it's not too hard a step up one more to the roof of the thing, where Rika's pokin' her head out, still lookin' atcha like ya shivved her dog. You ignore her snarlin' and whatnot (“Waiting game—I'm done waiting—done being extorted—”) and as the cannon halts in its turn and starts unturnin', the best to make friends again, ya go for the main problem in this shop, fingers scrabblin' at the tank-roof's slope before finally findin' purchase and friction and everything ya need to pull yourself upwards

And then your face explodes in what-the-hey pain and ya lose all grip ya had and fall—and stumble backwards—lose your footin' and slip and fall some more and then land, square on your back on the shop floor with a solid thwack through the back of your skull and out the anterior.

She punched ya in the face, ya realize, somewhere between the thunder. She punched ya in the face and then ya fell down. That's totally unfair. She shouldn't be allowed to punch ya in the face. She's already got a tank—

Ya think someone says your name at this part, maybe. You're not sure. Everything's gone kinda tinny, like you're 'speriencin' the world through a Strombus shell. That's sight, too, by the way—you've gotta blink more than a few times before the shadows and lights sort themselves out and your eyes go back to deliverin' like they're supposta.

Though part of ya kinda wishes they hadn't, considerin' that when ya bend up your neck to assess the evolution of the whole sitch as it's gone while you've been dazed, it's the cannon you're face to not-face with direct. The end of it you'd prefer not havin' so close, to be specific.

It'd be a good time for a bout of dramatic silence, with the whole world holdin' its breath for that infinite sec, 'cept the tank's still a tank and doesn't stop rumblin' and clankin', tanklike, so that doesn't happen.

Should've, though.

“It's your fault,” Rika mutter-mumble-says, far up past her end of the cannon, and even though she's not shoutin' you can hear her enough to understand. Maybe that's the drama kickin' in. “I'm running behind—even now I'm running behind—that's your fault. You're all extortionists, but you're the one who started this.”

“Dude,” ya croak back, “you're a cracked egg.”

You're lyin' on the floor and Rika's got a tank pointed at your sweet mug. Obviously, you're in prime position to insult 'er from here. And she's gotta be thinkin' the same, guessin' by how her mouth stretches out into a double-row wall of teeth and she reaches down one more time to activate the pseudoanachronism that's about to reduce ya to Planck smithereens—

And then something small, angular, and multicolored flies through the ether like a fragment of rainbow shrapnel, shatterin' into plastic-gloss chunks against Rika's brow, sendin' 'er rearin' back—and the cannon does that too, the danger end of it suddenly jerkin' itself upwards and away from your mug with the unintended pull or push or you-dunno-how-tanks-work that Rika's accidentally done in there, in the same mo blastin' like it and she intended, but it's too late and maybe the shot's loud, like the sound of someone testin' a nail gun by your head, and maybe ya feel the heat of it, even, but it doesn't hit ya, and that's what's important—just goes flyin' bare feet over your nose like the worst limbo consequence.

There's a sound of more wood becomin' not so much anymore, but you don't've time for assessin' the damage—ya roll, put your hands against the shop floor, push yourself up—

And ya see Rinnosuke there, just for a sec—only for a sec, 'cause that's all you've got to look at him in, but ya see 'im in that sec, feet in a stance, one arm millin' back, the other outstretched in something kinda like a lunge 'cept not exactly, 'cause a lunge and a throw aren't the same thing at all, and if there's anything else ya catch in that sec it's how definitely not tucked-away-in-a-position-that'd-stand-up-to-tankin' he is.

There's something there, something ya oughta get, but ya seriously don't've the time here. Maybe later, when ya do. But for now? There's a dude in a tank, who has a tank, and also the tank, and all that's still a major factor right now.

(And if you've got a head to ruminate with later, maybe you can cover how ya keep gettin' your bacon pulled out at the last possible. 'Cause—that? Not a trend you appreciate.)

Rika gets her head back on in 'bout the same time it takes for you to get to your feet and start scramblin' back towards maybe-safety, which is either a nice enough coincidence or a really unfortunate one. She shakes her head to dislodge the concussionesquity like a character out a slapstick cartoon, then her eyes go back to narrow and focuses in on what she's got marked as the main threat in the room. Which isn't you anymore—good news!

Bad news—it's the dude who just took a crack at Rika's cranium long-distance, i.e. everyone's favorite shopkeep. Rika snarls—like, legit snarls this time, no words, even—and cranks her turret over himwise without anything even like a quantum of hesitation.

Which means it's your turn to make the rescue—like you were ever gonna leave Rinnosuke's save unrepaid. “Yo, eyes on me, gearhead!” ya holler, takin' a threatenin' step in the unwisest of directions once more.

“Stop talking!” Rika says, and the turret goes your way again—only to pull a version of a repeat of that whole unsurety routine it had on earlier, the cannon waverin' back and forth before settlin' with pointin' unsteadily in a spot between you and him. Rika seems a lot more aware of it this time, though—kinda settled down from her whole tank-aided berserker rage that she was all 'bout earlier. Maybe whatever Rinnosuke threw at 'er knocked something the opposite of loose?

Point is, in the time it takes for a dude to throw a knickknack at a second dude who's in a tank and then for the first dude to realize the possible profundity of regret, this whole deal's settled into a weird equilibrium. In this corner, Rika, who is a dude in a tank. Like some sort of Gensokyo tank that shoots magic bullets, but still a tank, with all the entailments bein'-a-tank's got attached. Up against her? The tank-bashin' tag team of the awesome Christie Christoferson and the also-awesome Rinnosuke Morichika. Only, Christie and Rinnosuke can't bash a tank easy at the mo, 'cause tank, still with the entailments. And the dude in the tank can't take the obvious route a dude in a tank would think of takin', 'cause if she makes to 'splode you again Rinnosuke's likely to take the opportunity to strike, maybe, and also swap the names if it's him she goes for instead. You're in a stalemate, in other words. Holdin' each other in check. And maybe she's got her king in ace position, but you dudes're bishops, 'cause you can move diagonally, and this chess metaphor went rank seriously quick but ya don't have time to construct a proper one, not now, not with a tank potentially pointed at your face. It's a matter of priorities, and priorities are kinda obvious, right now.

Point is, whatcha need—or whatcha don't need, maybe, dependin'—is a tiebreaker.

Or Rumia.

Ya see 'er the moment ya think 'er, like the answer to a prayer ya haven't gotten the chance to kneel for even—a dark figure out the shadows with a mug beatific (and how'dja miss a shinin' face like that, ya can't say). She's a shootin' star in a black dress, tracin' down a swoop of night, a dive bomber with an angel's smile—

And then also a lot like most shootin' stars she totally fails to actually hit a dude, smashin' face-first into the side of the turret just shy of anything Rikaform instead with a sound to make Chuck Barris nostalgic and then bouncin' off into a crumpled heap on the shop floor.

Which ya guess would make 'er a meteorite now, followin' the metaphor.

Since now she's landed.

Yeah.

“What,” says Rika, takin' her eye off the two of you just long enough.

Take two.

And this time, you've got a plan to go with it.

Okay, so it's not a complicated plan—“do exactly whatcha did last time, 'cept this time don't fail,” basically. But with you knowin' 'zactly where you're goin', and with all of Rika's attentions on the wrong dude—

She's bendin' over out of her tank head to look; it's like she wants to give ya a bigger target; it's too perfect

It's the sorta scene that wants a slow-mo shot wide. Here's you, runnin' for a tank like your life depends on it, 'cause it does. Here's Rika, still sufferin' momentarily under the effects of what-the-crispies-was-that. Ya spring

Some subconscious inklin' worms its way through Rika's head; ya watch 'er turn—

One foot landin' on the tank-front but ya don't even pause; no time for that; just another jump, your fingers itchin' for the handhold ya didn't grasp proper before—

Rika's body still turnin', eyes goin' wide, her realizin' what's goin' on—

Ya swing yourself up, to where you're gonna do the most good—

Rika almost lashes, almost shields herself, tries to split the difference, doesn't

And ya punch 'er in the schnozz.

It isn't a very hard punch, you've gotta admit. You're at a too-funky angle for it and goin' for gettin' the hit at all instead of gettin' it right. But four fingers and a thumb do what they're supposta do, which is enough, which is get the first bop in so you can string it up in a combo—

Rika's head snaps back—her body goes back, slammin' itself against the lip of the into-the-tank—slips, starts to fall in

Oh, no way you're lettin' 'er back into with the guns. Ya grab the collar of her shirt before she can drop, haul 'er—

(It's either her bein' light or you bein' all hopped up on determination, or maybe it's both, but she lifts easy, and ya aren't 'spectin' that—)

And ya pull too hard, 'cause she goes up, and you go back, and it's fallin' tank tank fallin' tank tank floor head.

Ow. Also, why does that keep happeni—.

Your totally righteous grouse 'bout head injuries becomin' a thing is cut off as your view of the shop roof stops bein' a view of the shop roof and suddenly starts bein' a view of an angry woman draggin' herself up over you. Ya thought she was ragin' before? Well, she was.

It's just that, now, she looks like she's gone so far she's come out the other end.

She's got a mug like she stepped it through a cloud of sindoor. She's got her teeth so tight ya wouldn't be surprised for one to get flyin' out. It's her hands on your collar now, bunchin' up the fabric tight in a coupla clenched fists. Her eyes—

—are wide and wet.

“Years,” she hisses, without movin' her jaws. “Years.”

You try sittin' up. It doesn't work. For obvious reasons.

“I have spent years saving,” says Rika. “Years and years. I'm not going to throw away years saving just because you're starting this now. There are prices for buying and buying for selling, and I'm running in place—almost running in place—and I have so much to do to her.”

“Dude,” ya say, and it's harder than you'd like with the feelin' of fingers way, way too close to your neckway, but ya manage, “I have no idea what you're talkin' 'bout.”

And then Rika takes the whole neckway problem an inch further, or farther, or more than an inch anyways, and takes that collar you've got and pulls. Not far, not all the way to you sittin' up, just enough that you're sorta hoverin' over the floor and it's mad uncomfy. And also your shirt fabric's prolly gettin' stretched. Like whoa.

“I am buying things and selling things and I am making profit,” Rika says, and you've got no idea here if she's tryin' to 'splain things to you or just goin' at it like the light at the end of a fuse. “I'm not making enough and that's okay; it's positive, but then you say 'raise the price' and he raises the price, and the kappa don't work for free.”

“'Kappa'?” ya—ya kinda gurgle, to be honest.

“There's a tank—I haven't built it; I haven't had it built, but it's up here—” And Rika makes a motion with her head, and her fingers pull, “—and they want it in a lump sum—the kappa—and I have spent years. I have spent years and years and I'm almost there and there's a better tank to build. There's a miko.”

“What's a miko?” ya ask.

And it's kinda funny, 'cause it's this question that stops up this verbal lahar. She just sorta freezes, not pullin' ya up, not pushin' ya down, just stares, her features relaxin' with the broadsideage of it all.

“What?” she goes

And then before she can say any more than that a hardback book comes cartwheelin' through the air stage left and gets 'er in the temple straight on, right with one of those pointyish corner bits.

She's barely up enough to stumble, but she does, off to the side again, her fingers goin' loose and finally lettin' your shirt be shirt. But yo, forget the sartorics—this seems like prime opportunity to get away from the dude who's been tryin' to do ya in, so ya do that, scootin' yourself backwards first of all and then gettin' to your feet and coverin' the rest of the distance in leggin' it, over to where Rinnosuke standin' tense.

His eyes go over atcha, just for a tick, and then return to the dude on the floor. His hands're up in front of 'im—not zombie-esque, but more like just hangin' there limp and curled, like he doesn't know what to do with 'em.

“Nice shot,” ya tell 'im, readjustin' your collar. “Ya really threw the book at 'er.”

“I just grabbed what I had,” Rinnosuke says. “I don't think I damaged it, but I can't be sure.”

Oh, right, the idiom isn't gonna exist in Japanese, obvs. Also, ya can't believe ya actually said that. Seriously, that's shame ya feel right now. “What was that thing ya threw the first time?” ya ask. “Y'know, right before I was gonna bite it.”

“A sort of puzzle cube,” says your savior to the power of x. His eyes don't lift from Rika, now. Ya join' 'em in starin'.

Dude's just lyin' on the floor, face-down.

She's alive, right? Rinnosuke can't've hit 'er that hard.

“You can turn the faces of it independently,” continues Rinnosuke in that weirdly distracted way he's got goin' on right now. “I can't tell for certain, but I think the goal was to shift the faces in such a way that each face was only one color.”

“Yeah, sounds 'bout right.”

Thanks, Ernő Rubik.

“So,” ya say, “Mac—what do we do now?”

Rinnosuke doesn't answer you, at least not with words. But he glances at you as you glance back, and then like on some signal unheard the two of you start approachin' the dude, slow and wary. 'Specially slow and wary, as ya get within potential strikin' distance. A snake can getcha even with its body chopped off, and plus ya have seen a horror flick, ever.

And it's a good thing ya did that, too, 'cause that's about when Rika starts stirrin', and ya don't mean soup. One arm reaches out like a spider's leg, bracin' itself against the floor—the head rises—

Rika looks up at the two of you lookin' down at her, and ya think—things've gotta look really awful from where she's lyin', don't they?

Her jaw creaks open.

Qui patiens est multa gubernatur prudentia; qui autem impatiens est exaltat stultitiam suam.

'Cept of course, it isn't Rika who says that. It's Rumia, instead, who's just joined ya at the Rikaside, makin' your duo a trio. She raises her arms in a T-pose, apparently no worse for the wear, and ya think—that's good. That's totally good. You were seriously worried, after that whole slam-into-the-tank deal she fell into—

And suddenly, laser.

It doesn't vaporize Rika, not like it did the poltergeist, which, y'know, lucky her, but also lucky you, 'cause you're kinda not up to watchin' somebody die today, even if this dude woulda been all for it happenin' the other way 'round. What the laser does do is send the dude skiddin' 'cross the shop floor like a spider hit with the full blast of a hair dryer. She goes tumblin' end over end, a sprawlin' silhouette in this whole lightshow of pain Rumia's cheerily dealin' out, up till she slams up against one of the walls she didn't bust, bouncin' off it in a way that makes shelves rattle and you wonder if Rumia isn't actually all up into the idea of ironic comeuppance.

That is ironic, right? The whole concept of irony's been kinda floaty lately. Not that that's new or anything. Like, who uses it to mean “playin' Socrates” nowadays?

Point is, Rika doesn't try gettin' up again. Ya don't know if she's unconscious—detectin' that sorta thing is totally not your forte, dig—but maybe she's gonna be disinclined to give it a second go either way. Even determination's got its limits.

Prolly.

“Rumia?” ya call out, keepin' your peepers careful even as ya look otherwise.

“Mm-hmm?”

“That was totally sweet,” ya say. “Like, totally. More than made up for the whole dramatic-entrance-only-to-smash-yourself-in-the-head-with-a-tank thing.”

Rumia's smile droops at the edges into something kinda sheepish. “It's bright,” she says. “I can't see well when it's bright.”

“Fair enough.”

“And I get sleepy.”

“Yeah.”

Ya all stare at the dude on the ground some more. Dude still hasn't stirred. Maybe she is conked out proper this time.

“Also—Mac?”

Rinnosuke is a presence. “Yes?”

“I've gotta asterisk here.”

“You need to do what?”

“A word of warnin', Mac, warnin'. It's just that, uh, considerin' real recent developments, I don't think rememberin' this dude's name's gonna net ya a repeat customer. Like, even if ya do remember her name.”

Rinnosuke's head turns on its axis. Very very carefully, like it might fall off, till it's facin' you and not watchin' the dude who might or might not get up again like it oughta be doin'. “Do you really think so,” says the mouth attached to the front of it.

“Yeah, Mac,” ya say. “Just a hunch. There's some attitudes even hoomalimali can't soften up, y'know?”

The eyes that're also things attached to the head regard ya. At least, you're pretty sure they're regardin' ya. You're not lookin' 'em straight, for various reasons.

“I don't know what that means,” says Rinnosuke.

“Oh, uh—”

“My customer tried to kill me, two of the walls of my shop have been badly damaged, a significant amount of merchandise has been destroyed beyond salvaging or selling, and I don't know what the word that you used means.”

Various various reasons. “Um,” ya try, “well, look on the bright side, Mac. You've got us here with ya, right? We can get through this together.”

Somewhere behind ya, there's a grand crack as some construction gives up the ghost. And then the sound of alotta smaller other somethings hittin' the floor all at once in what you can only call a chord of destruction.

Or a mess.

“A mess” works.

Rinnosuke makes a sound somewhere 'round his velum.

“Yep,” ya say, and maybe it ya say it loud enough it'll have miraculous effects, “Gonna get through this together. You and me, and also Rumia. But seriously, Mac, we're just gonna blaze through this, you'll see. You'll be up and back to chargin' people in no time—”

“Stop,” says Rinnosuke. “Please stop.”

You stop.
>> No. 29641
Beautiful...

And now they have a defense turret for the shop! And if any youkai get uppity tank can be used to drive over their sorry asses until they actually pay. Would not help with stronger gensokyians but then again, what does?
>> No. 29642
This story never fails to deliver.
>> No. 29643
File 148414556011.png - (200.04KB , 599x414 , 1412551621072-2.png ) [iqdb]
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Half her shop is destroyed because we tried to help:

Lesson learned: never try to help
>> No. 29644
> “I am buying things and selling things and I am making profit,” Rika says, and you've got no idea here if she's tryin' to 'splain things to you or just goin' at it like the light at the end of a fuse. “I'm not making enough and that's okay; it's positive, but then you say 'raise the price' and he raises the price, and the kappa don't work for free.”

I just realised that Rika was bankrolling her new tank by purchasing things from Rinno and then selling it at marked-up rates, and that is why she reacted so strongly to our meddling.
>> No. 29647
But....but...why? Why Rika? Why do you need a tank? Why do you need anything? There no rent or taxes in Gensokyo. Why immediately resort to murder? I'm sure the dude would have accepted a handie in exchange for the tank goods, it's not like anyone else pays money.

Just....why?

......why?

It was a fun read though.
>> No. 29648
If recent events have taught us anything, it's that we need work out. You never know when another Tank's gonna want to bash skulls with us, and the next dude to drive it might actually have to IQ necessary to lock the top. 'Specially because of this Chekhov's boss fight.

>“—and they want it in a lump sum—the kappa—and I have spent years. I have spent years and years and I'm almost there and there's a better tank to build. There's a miko.”

Sanae? I can't think of anyone else so close to the kappa.
>> No. 29649
>>29648
I'm pretty sure she wants to try to blast Reimu.
>> No. 29650
File 148418950496.png - (453.84KB , 414x499 , 1469043175175.png ) [iqdb]
29650
>See, /tg/ dude? I told you soon.

you beautiful son of a bitch it really was you

>>29647

>implying Rinnosuke would ever accept something like that

It's like you think the man has no ethics, pfah. Also I'm pretty sure he'd combust spontaneously if anyone ever tried to touch him like that.
>> No. 29651
>>29650

Stay thine words, oh ye of little faith. I don't think anyone has ever even thought to ask the poor man. I mean like...we could be dealing with a "40 year old virgin" type scenario here. Who knows what dark desires lurk deep within the murky depths of his heart? Also, Chris claims to be a true bro, but she hasn't even asked to help him find a sexy girl to settle down with. Or at the very least find a dumb braud willing to let him get the tip wet, know what I'm sayin?
>> No. 29652
>>29640
>See, /tg/ dude? I told you soon.
>six days
This is what I meant when I said we had different definitions of Soon™.
>> No. 29653
>>29652
I've been waiting for my favorite Oh! My Goddess fic to update since December 2013.

You won't get no sympathy from me.
>> No. 29654
>>29653
You wanna play thus game, boyo? Because I've been desperately hoping the author of a surprisingly good Warcraft/Warhammer crossover fic isn't actually dead since he vanished in 2011.
>> No. 29655
>>29654
You think that's bad? I'm still waiting for a *Scorn* update.
>> No. 29656
>>29655
Oh yeah? Well I don't know what that is! So there.
>> No. 29657
>>29653
>>29654
>>29655

The point is, I think we can all agree that roughly four thousand words even in 17 days isn't the worst kind of progress where fanfiction is involved.
>> No. 29658
File 148434774745.png - (468.31KB , 800x440 , 0Xh610n.png ) [iqdb]
29658
>>29655
>> No. 29659
Fallout Gensokyo
>> No. 29660
File 148437996885.jpg - (1.04MB , 5000x5000 , 1459796006026.jpg ) [iqdb]
29660
>>29653
>>29654
>>29655
I've been waiting for about six quests and OP that was writing one of them is updating a story on this site.
>> No. 29661
Come on guys, is this really the place for this discussion? I mean, I know we all miss Patchy Quest, but let's not let our intense feelings of sadness and loss cloud our judgement. I'm sure OP would appreciate it if we went back to praising his amazing story.
>> No. 29662
>>29661
This sounds like sarcasm. But just in case it isn't, there is nothing wrong with offtopic posting every now and then. This ain't forums, damn it.
>> No. 29663
File 148514058099.gif - (106.59KB , 320x180 , (2÷3)πr.gif ) [iqdb]
29663
So there's this pretty famous puzzle. Like, mad famous. You're talkin' practically ubiquitous here, least to the globe's western half. It goes like this:

You're on one side of a river and ya wanna get to the other. There's no bridge. There's a boat, though, left out for any dude to use just as long as they're on the same side of the river as the thing, apparently. And it is on your side, which is cool, 'cept for the further complications ranklin' the whole sitch.

See, not only have ya gotta transport yourself over the river, which would be fine, but also there's a wolf, a goat, and a cabbage you've gotta get over as well. And the boat's only a two-seater, one of which has gotta be you, owin' to the general inability of wolves, goats, and especially cabbages to boatrow.

Oh, and also as long as you're babysittin' it's all hunky-dory in terms of wolf-goat-cabbage relations, but if you leave the wolf and goat on their own while ya take the boat to the other side, that goat is goin' down the gullet. Ditto for if ya leave the goat and cabbage unattended, 'cept it's the cabbage that bites it. Or gets bitten. Whatever.

And no, ya can't squeeze the wolf and cabbage into one seat. There's not enough room, or the boatin' system has a very strict only-two-passengers-slash-cabbages policy, or something.

Now, considerin' all this—the river, the boat, the boatspace, the four of you cispontine minus the pont—how do you end up on the other side, company intact?

“All I'm sayin' is, I feel like the answer would be applicable here,” ya say to Rumia. “Or something.”

Rumia tilts her head, clearly givin' the whole matter the thought it deserves.

You adjust your sittin' and continue.

“I mean, it's not an exact science, prolly. But it fits, right? Thematically. I mean, Rinnosuke's left us alone before trustin' us not to get blasted or chomped one way or another, but...”

Ya wave your hand, acknowledgin' the new ventilation Rinnosuke's pad is all about at the mo. Which makes ya slip a little—but no, you've got it. Still, ya adjust your sittin' again, this time more firmly just in case.

“So like, thoughts?” ya ask. “Corrections? Various ruminations? I'd do the wordplay there, but it doesn't really work in Japanese.”

“I ate a goat, once,” Rumia says. “When you eat a goat, it makes a lot of noise. Most humans do, too.”

Legit fascinatin', but you're not sure it helps. “The goat's a metaphor,” ya say.

Rumia hmms, head still tilted.

“Also I think in this particular sitch there are multiple goats. And the wolves are indefinite. And the cabbage can bite back, potentially. Like I said, thematic.”

Rumia hmms again. Then, carefully, slowly, like a dude outta the high-stakes world of contact jugglin', she restraightens her neck and reaches her arms out the sides. “You should take the goat to the other side,” she says. “Then come back, and take the wolf or the cabbage to the other side. Then come back with the goat, and take the cabbage or wolf to the other side. Then come back, and take the goat to the other side.”

And havin' said that, she puts her arms back down, brushes down her dress, and sits all very dainty on the floor beside ya.

Ya look at Rumia.

Rumia smiles.

Ya look down at your hands.

Ya work out the math yourself. Fingers're involved.

“Huh,” ya say. “I kinda thought that'd be a lot more help than actually it is.”

Bonum est confidere in Domino, quam confidere in homine.

Still don't know Latin.” Ya bend sideways just a tilt, lookin' down over. “How 'bout you?” ya ask. “You got anything?”

Rika looks up from where she's lyin' prone on the shop floor and also pinned square underneath the gravitative force of you. It's not a real friendly look. Or a real I-am-champin'-at-the-bit-to-assist-in-logic-puzzle-application-slash-Latin-translation look, either.

She sorta shifts, tryin' to break free, but that whole sittin'-on-'er deal you've got goin' on at the mo is a real obstruction there. Also the fact that while she was out of it you and Rinnosuke took every vaguely cordlike production in the pad and wrapped 'em all over the dude with enough twists and turns to make a Scout break out in hives. Knots'ren't your forte (though ya can't speak for Rinnosuke), but quantity's its own kinda quality, right?

“So that's a 'no,'” ya say.

The gaze Rika rolls up atcha is fulla bale, straight up. “Fmff,” she says.

“Yeah, didn't think so,” ya say, noddin'. “Dude's gotta hope, though.”

Mff!

Exactly.

Rika's all set to agree further, prolly, or at least make a lot more with the muffled mumblin' (which is close enough, as far as you're concerned), but then ya never get to know for sure, 'cause Rumia just sorta peps to attention, standin'—not straight, 'zactly, but alert, lookin' somewhere over your shoulder past the back of it on. Ya turn your neck, followin' her eyesight.

It's Rinnosuke, which is cool.

And he's brought company.

Coolness pendin'.

It's a coupla dudes Rinnosuke's got with 'im, specifically. One of 'em's walkin' close to Rinnosuke's side, like she's ready to pull 'im down and take the bullet instead, the other trailin' behind in a meanderin', zigzaggy sorta way. And seriously, they couldn't be more off opposite ends of the spectrum if ya tried. Like, the dude next to Rinnosuke? The 'spression she's wearin' belongs on the mug of a dude that is all outta bothers and isn't shy 'bout lettin' an audience know, while the other dude—the trailin' dude—isn't even here right now. You can tell that from the unfocused gaze she's totin'. Where she actually is ya don't know, but if ya hafta guess—

Jupiter.

Orbitin' Jupiter, prolly.

The clothes are a little more samey, in the way gettin' your pinky finger cut off has some thematic similarities with losin' your head. Outta-Bothers is bearin' a mostly red something that ya might kinda accurately call a dress, if it weren't missin' the armpits for some reason. As it is, ya guess it is a dress, still—just a sleeveless one. Or there are sleeves, but those sleeves're just hangin' there, detached. Ya can't guess how the dude keeps 'em up, not without a closer study.

The other dude, meanwhile—Jupitous—is wearin' what you'd guess to be a normal robe set, featurin' a casual spotty pattern of flowers or fireworks or starbursts (which are also flowers) or at least something radial near to the hems of it. That's not weird. What is weird is that the robe? Jupitous is drownin' in it, practically. Like, there's wrapped up for the oncomin' winter—which ya get, totally; Japan's gettin' cold, yo—and then there's this, which is kinda approachin' overboard with vigor.

Though okay, it's not overboard yet. There are levels. But it's gettin' there.

But back to the important part: Rinnosuke's back, which is totally, totally cool. You'd spring up, if ya weren't doin' the way important job of keepin' a tank dude down, which ya are—so, well, ya don't. Ya just wave hello, callin' out a hearty, “Yo, Mac!”

Rinnosuke waves his head back. Or, as some dudes like to call it, “nods.” Which is also a hello.

Unfortunately, the dude's not the only dude in the vicinity zeroin' in on the sound of your dulcet notes. The moment ya break the air, Outta-Bothers—you remember Outta-Bothers, from earlier—does basically the same, lookin' your way as good as Rinnosuke ever did. Only problem is, she's not so keen on the greets, apparently? Which'd be fine on its own, you've gotta admit. After all, you dunno her, and vice versa. What she does do, though, is focus a laser beam of sight right atcha—no, over you, like you're at the grocery store and she's lookin' for the bars that say how much ya cost.

Ya kinda don't like it. Like, nothing's solid, but—it's inducin' with the badfeel, you've gotta say? Yeah.

And that badfeel gets even badder when she shifts that same look over to Rumia, 'cept when she does that the laser beam ups in intensity drastic. And that's the new normal it holds at, even when it moves off 'er and starts takin' in the less important bits of the scene, like Rika, and, y'know.

The tank.

Which is still there, 'cause, y'know, can't move a tank.

Rika could move a tank! Don't wanna let Rika move a tank. For obvious reasons.

Point is, that's a real unsteadyin' look, which means it's a seriously awesome time for Rinnosuke to make himself the center of the universe. “Was there any trouble?” he says.

Tryin' not to get any Outta-Bothers in your peepers, ya give 'im a thumbs-up. This thumbs-up means “everything rocked,” and not “yes.” It's a real important distinction 'cause “yes” would mean the opposite of “everything rocked,” here. “Tank dude still secure!” you report. “Me and Rumia were on it.”

“She didn't run, so I didn't eat her,” Rumia adds.

Tank Dude below yourself stops squirmin' quick. Like, real quick.

Rinnosuke nods some more, which you're gonna interpret as supreme satisfaction that Christie Christoferson and Rumia Wait-Does-She-Have-a-Surname-Even are on the case. Then he sees a thing, and that noddin' stops partway. “Why is she gagged?” he asks.

Ya glance down at Tank Dude. Specifically, at the dustin' cloth you had Rumia shove across her mouth halfway through the waitin' game.

“It's thematic,” ya say.

“I see,” says Rinnosuke, after a pause. Then he turns his head, acknowledgin' the dudes he brought with 'im—both the one to his side and the one laggin' behind.

Outta-Bothers catches the turn and does ditto at the one dude in the back who hasn't. “Well?” she says.

Jupitous raises her head slowly from where she's busy makin' rounds. And then, suddenly—like, you're talkin' blink-and-ya-miss-it suddenly—all that dopiness drops and she pops into focus sharp. Didja really say she was circlin' Jupiter? Turns out the reason she was circlin' Jupiter was 'cause Jupiter's a good place to circle if you're a death laser. What's up, Project Excalibur?

“Aha,” mutters Jupitous, takin' in the tableau. “Well—something's certainly happened here.”

Yeah, ya can't really argue with that. “Who's the dudes, Mac?” ya break in, before all of this can get any more ahead of you.

Rinnosuke does the sorta sweepy arm gesture done by all dudes tryin' to facilitate introductions. He gestures at Jupitous first (which is kinda weird, actually, considerin' Outta-Bothers is a lot closer). “This is Kotohime,” he says. “She's a...”

He pauses.

“...police officer?”

That sounds like some serious unsurety, Mac.

Outta-Bothers pipes in to back 'im up, though. “She's a police officer,” she says, and—well, okay. Ya mean, she doesn't look like how you'd think a cop would look, but then again, it's not like ya ever thought about what a Gensokyo cop would look like at all, right? Maybe this set-up is totally advantageous to the Gensokyo Police Department. Or maybe there's some magic in the robes or something. Right?

Rinnosuke continues, unheedin' of your analysis, prolly 'cause he can't read your mind. He does his second intro, motionin' at Outta-Bothers. “And this,” he says, “is...”

Ya wait for the bit that comes after this pause, only to realize after, like, a good hefty ten seconds that it's not gonna happen. Rinnosuke just looks at you, then at Outta Bothers, and it's a look ya can't 'zactly read, 'cept for the extreme uncomfiness.

In the end, Outta-Bothers finally, finally takes over herself. “Hakurei Reimu,” she says.

Real life doesn't have a soundtrack attached, but if it did, ya feel like ya woulda gotta a real forebodin' chord there. Or at least a subtle change in room tone.

[ ] Maybe get some exposition from Rinnosuke here?
[ ] Might be advantageous to buddy-buddy with a cop.
[ ] Better to beat uncomfiness head-on—talk to Reimu.
[ ]
>> No. 29664
[X] Might be advantageous to buddy-buddy with a cop.

Cops! Something familiar! Let's go all, perp, MO, al and the like.
>> No. 29666
[X] Better to beat uncomfiness head-on—talk to Reimu.

Oh hey, after all this time Chris has finally met the person who can get her out of Gensokyo... If she can even remember that.
>> No. 29667
[x] Better to beat uncomfiness head-on—talk to Reimu.

Probably best to be honest because I'm not sure how receptive Reimu will be to whatever Christie means with "buddy-buddy."
>> No. 29668
[x] Better to beat uncomfiness head-on—talk to Reimu.

We don't have the greatest track record for first impressions, but this Reimu dude already seems to be filing us under "pain in the hiney." Let's see if we can't head that off at the pass and maybe establish amicable relations. It could work, right?

Right?
>> No. 29669
[X] Might be advantageous to buddy-buddy with a cop.

K O T O H I M E
>> No. 29670
[X] Might be advantageous to buddy-buddy with a cop.

I don't wanna go home
>> No. 29671
[x] Better to beat uncomfiness head-on—talk to Reimu.
>> No. 29672
[x] Better to beat uncomfiness head-on—talk to Reimu.
>> No. 29673
[x] Better to beat uncomfiness head-on—talk to Reimu.

For some reason I feel like this is the least dangerous option.
>> No. 29675
[X] Might be advantageous to buddy-buddy with a cop.

On the one hand, finally getting to talk to Reimu and potentially making a good first impression. On the other hand, Best Girl. Sorry Reimu, you're gonna have to wait a bit.
>> No. 29676
[X] Better to beat uncomfiness head-on—talk to Reimu.

Time to talk to the shrine maiden.
>> No. 29677
[X] Maybe get some exposition from Rinnosuke here?
>> No. 29679
[X] Maybe get some exposition from Rinnosuke here.

For some reason I feel like I should be slightly ashamed for not recognizing princess-policewoman Kotohime. But then again I don't really see many references to the older games.
>> No. 29683
[X] Better to beat uncomfiness head-on—talk to Reimu.

>>29679
If it makes you feel any better, I still don't know who she is.
>> No. 29686
File 148547064920.jpg - (835.37KB , 2480x3507 , the_miko_is_back_again.jpg ) [iqdb]
29686
[X] Better to beat uncomfiness head-on—talk to Reimu.

There's something real uncanny 'bout this dude. Some kinda aposematism you're pickin' up on a level ya can't entirely pick up on.

Which means the really smart thing to do is to charge 'er head-on, in a matter of speakin'. Ya look 'er in the eyes direct and stretch your mug into a CFL smile. “What's up, dude?”

Rinnosuke's whole face flinches. Like, just all at once. It's a neat trick.

As for the receiver of your upwhattin', she doesn't react in any way that makes ya any comfier. She glances at you, at Rumia (why Rumia keeps bein' a thing ya don't know), turns her head so she can glance properly at Rinnosuke—

“'What's up,'” Rinnosuke cuts in, before this dude—Reimu—can staredown the whole globe. “It's a greeting—it means something like 'what is happening?'”

“Then she should say that,” says Reimu, and, wow. Prescriptivist much?

Still, gotta grin and bear it. “So, who're you dudes?” ya ask, pointin', as to leave the “you dudes” unambiguous. “Rinnosuke said he knew a dude who could take care of a whole tank-dude-attacks-the-shop aftermath, but he was sorta skimp on the deets. Or, like, in what capacity this caretakin' would come in—y'know?”

“I don't understand most of what you said,” says Reimu.

“Dude, seriously?”

Reimu sorta regards ya for a sec more before switchin' over abrupt to Rinnosuke. “Already dropping honorifics?” she says.

“We've been living in the same house for two months,” Rinnosuke says.

“You've been living in the same house because you haven't sent her away.”

“If it's using honorifics,” Rumia says, her voice slippin' into the forefront like the sound of a dinner bell, “she never did it at all.”

Reimu looks at Rumia with a gaze that could prolly drill a hole in something that isn't a kid-sized youkai in a black dress. Then she looks at Rinnosuke with a gaze that's almost the same as that, but isn't.

Rinnosuke doesn't return that. Actually, he looks like returnin' it is the last thing he wants to consider. Maybe better help 'im out? “Uh, yo.”

You punctuate your yo-ing with another arm-wavin', which turns out totally unnecessary. Everyone's lookin' atcha even without. But they're not lookin' at Rinnosuke anymore, so...mission accomplished?

“Are we talkin' 'bout me?” ya ask. “'Cause, like, if we're talkin' 'bout me, I kinda wanna be involved in that, dudes.” You consider. “And also Mac.”

Reimu digests what's a totally reasonable request, and, havin' digested it, sorta just kinda tosses it away, turnin' back at Rinnosuke—whoops. “'Mac'?” she prompts.

“It's something she calls me, for some reason,” Rinnosuke says, avodin' eyes.

“You have nicknames?”

She has a nickname for me. Why is this important? This isn't what I needed your help with—”

“Ah, I understand now.”

That's not Rinnosuke or Reimu. It's not Rumia, either, and it's definitely not you.

All the eyes in the world check Kotohime out.

'Cept instead of givin' 'er stage fright, all that that eyeballin' does is sorta gracefully pump 'er up, that Mona Lisa smile gettin' ever Mona-Lisaer. She closes her eyes, not to block anything out, but like she's gotta close 'em on account of the fairy dust that got all sprinkled on her lashes.

When she speaks, it's—level. Enunciated, 'cept only to a spot and not any more than that.

“Then, others, who are you? The one called Master Rinnosuke spoke to me, that he knew of one who understood the method by which the aftermath of an attack upon a shop by a war-vehicle could be resolved. However, only of this he spoke to me. Of the one's method, he spoke not. May this yet be understood?”

She opens her eyes again.

There's no diff in the quiet the shop's all about, there. But it feels like there is, anyways. Like ya had a brush, just then, with some kinda nebulous magic.

What,” says Reimu.

“—is what she said,” says Kotohime, and the magic's gone.

Rumia nods. “She says things weird,” she says, in—oh, come on, is that supposta be commiseration or something?

“This I-can't-understand-the-dude shtick is totally unwarranted,” ya grouse. “I'm intelligible. Like whoa, I'm intelligible.”

“No, you're not,” says Reimu.

“You're not,” says Rumia.

“Not particularly,” says Rinnosuke.

“I understood her!”

“See?” ya say, and also, Kotohimewards, “Thanks.”

“Though it took me a minute to place it in normal words.”

“Okay, maybe stop helpin' me out here.”

“I'm not helping.”

“Yeah, that's, like, all beaucoup clear, at the mo—”

“My guest's habits of speech aside,” Rinnosuke interrupts, “I'd like it if someone would take custody of the person who demolished my shop.”

Reimu holds an unblinkin' stare Rinnosuke's way.

Kotohime swings her eyesight all at various places. And dudes.

“The person Christie's sitting on,” Rinnosuke specifies.

Ya offer up a visual aid. By wavin'.

Again.

“Ah,” says Kotohime, and ya can't tell if she's only really really noticin' Rika now, but, like, ya wouldn't be surprised? “That's fine, then. It's been a long time since I got to put somebody in jail.”

And, that hinky sentence all out there, she crouches down, grabbin' hold of Rika by the back of the collar. Which is prolly close enough to police custody in a place like this, so ya roll yourself off the dude, feelin' your joints pop with the shiftin' of 'em. Sittin' on a dude that long'll drive ya stiff.

Rika, of course, starts gagmouthin' with new energy the sec this hand-off starts, but one, not your problem, and two, she totally deserves it, whatever the “it” that's settin' off this new kinda protest is. Discomfort at gettin' manhandled, maybe. Or just the realization she's been snatched by the five-oh for realsies now.

Dude tried to getcha with a tank. Your sympathy's at an all-time low, here.

Anyways, ya finally get to stand (on wobbly legs, you've gotta admit), and the sight of Kotohime luggin' Rika like a dude haulin' a particularly ugly sports bag is real neato, no kiddin'. “Thank you for your cooperation,” the cop says, salutin' with the hand unloaded.

And then she about-faces, and, with a back straight and a bearin' almost militaryish, marches out the shop front door, criminal load squirmin' and mumblin' and protestin' the best anyone can protest without words to protest with all the way through till the sound of it fades into forestry.

Yeah.

So.

That was admittedly kinda cool. “Exeunt, stage right,” ya mutter.

“You said you didn't know Latin,” says Rumia.

“It's not Latin, it's theater. Total diff—”

And then ya turn and hey, that Reimu dude—when'd she get so close?

Okay, so she isn't close-close. Like, there's plenty of air between the tips of your noses respective. But she definitely got closer while you were literally seein' Kotohime and baggage off, enough to make ya pause mid-sentence, even if it was right before the endin' punctuation. Uncool. And kinda not insignificantly creepola.

“Yo,” ya offer, tentatively.

Reimu doesn't yo back. She's back to scannin' mode, and if ya thought it was unnervin' before, this close it's a straight up neurectomy. It doesn't help the way she's got her head set—juttin' her chin atcha like an actual neurectomy—involuntary on your part, natch—isn't totally outta the question here. Even her lowerin' it a centimeter makes ya feel a little better.

“So,” she says, “you're still here.”

“Uh, yeah?” ya say. “Not like I put a tank through Rinnosuke's wall, right?”

Reimu continues on like ya didn't just make a good point there. “I thought you would've left by now,” she said. “Left, or died. One of those.”

“Yeah, between the ghost in the machine and the dude in the tank, it's kinda a wonder I haven't totally bit it,” you admit.

“And the failed homunculus, too.”

“Yeah, and the homunculus, too—” Ya stop short, so you can double-check that proper, what it was ya just said. “Hey, dude—how'dja know 'bout the homunculus?”

Reimu doesn't tell ya how she knew 'bout the homunculus. Reimu stares ya in the eye, like she's lookin' deep for something. Like she's studyin' your process on some sorta test and she's actively givin' ya every chance to pass, openin' all the doors ahead of you so you can see the finish line, and even with that goin' for ya you're still found wantin'.

Those eyes, man.

“Anyway, you're not what I expected.” And then that eyeline finally breaks and if that isn't a breath of fresh air, ya dunno what is.

Though the comment makes ya raise your eyebrows. “You were 'spectin' something?”

“No, not as much. Mostly, I wanted to see the person Marisa let use her Mini-Hakkero.”

And then ya spoke too soon 'cause the eyes're back, the eyes're back, not cool

“Remember?”

“Uh.” Ya take a glance at Rinnosuke, but if that worried-lookin' look en pointe all up on his face's any clue, you're thinkin' he's not gonna swoop in to save ya again. “If you're hopin' for a repeat performance, I'm gonna hafta disappoint,” ya said. “Marisa and me aren't 'zactly on speakin' terms, at the mo.”

“I heard that, too,” Reimu says. “But you seem to get along well with Rumia.”

Ya look at the dude in question. Rumia is still there, and still Rumia, which ya think is pretty good thing for Rumia to be, if anyone's askin' you for opinions. She smiles atcha as she leans your way, the corners of her crescent mouth stretchin' ever so slightly more than they're curlin' already, and that makes ya feel better, actually.

“Yeah,” ya say. “Rumia's a real cool dude. She's hauled my chattanooga outta some serious damage, y'know? When a dude does that, you've gotta appreciate.”

“Even though you know what she is?”

You're not likin' the direction this whole convo's takin'. “Ya mean, like, a youkai?” ya ask. “'Cause I know she's a youkai. Rinnosuke told me and everything.”

Reimu looks at Rinnosuke. There's a pause, while Rinnosuke realizes that he's the dude 'spected to talk, now, and then he fumbles in accordance. “It was the first thing I told her about,” Rinnosuke says. “It didn't change anything.”

Reimu makes a low, considerin' sound.

Then she looks to you. Ya kinda wish she'd stop lookin' here. Ya kinda wish she'd stop bein' here. There's some serious subtext goin' on here and you can feel it passin' ya by like the sinister of a horror-flick shark grazin' a swimmer's toes.

'Cept in this case the swimmer's never heard of a shark or a horror flick and has no basis for properly proportionatin' the threat.

But, like.

Something's down there.

“Most Outsiders come in two kinds,” Reimu says. “Either they're too afraid, or they're not afraid enough.”

She was talkin' 'bout you, and you're an Outsider, so ya guess technically she didn't just shift from fourth to first without a segue there. Still, no idea where she's goin' with this. “Yeah?” ya say, fishin'.

Reimu doesn't bite. Just keeps starin' atcha. Then she looks at Rumia, the same kinda deliberate look she's been gracin' mostly youwards here.

Though if it affects Rumia in any way, dude doesn't show it. Just smiles her Rumia smile, and float-skips over to poise herself by the hangin' of your arm. She's got her arms in instead of out, but she tilts her head and you can feel her ribbon, brushin' against ya.

Reimu shifts her eyes up. Youwards again.

“As long as you know, you can't complain,” she says. “Don't think it's anyone's responsibility but your own.”

Yeah, you've got no idea what the haysel. “Sure,” ya say. “No problemo, dude.”

And whaddya get in reply? A snort. Ya didn't even know soul-weary snorts were a thing. But if that's the sound a Reimu makes when the high beams in her peepers get turned down—which is what happens—then you're all very down with that. Or maybe she's still got those things on full-blast, and ya just can't tell 'cause they aren't pointed directly atcha. Like traffic lights.

Either way, it's Rinnosuke she's all involved in, now, which makes it fine for you, either way. Maybe not so fine for Rinnosuke, dependin'. “Set out some tea the next time I come over, will you?” she says to the dude. “All this talking made me thirsty.”

“If you're asking me to prepare tea in advance, that's impossible,” says Rinnosuke. “You never tell me when you're coming over, anyway.”

“I come over often enough you should be able to figure it out by now.”

“If there isn't any pattern, I can't predict—”

Whatever objection Rinnosuke got for objectin' with is lost on Reimu, though, 'cause she's barely got her own words out her gab before she turns on her heel like a whip and strides out the door like she owns it. The stride, and also the door. And maybe everything else.

Then she sort of pushes—'cept, it's not so much pushin' as pushin' and pullin' and doin' nothing at all, all at the same time—

And she goes floatin' up and off. And then she clears the doorway, so ya can't even see 'er anymore.

And she's gone.

Gone.

Yeah.

“So, that was meaningful,” ya say.

You can feel Rinnosuke's eyes. Ya don't mind as much, though. Ya like these eyes better. “'Meaningful,'” the dude parrots, dead flat.

“Well, like, I mean, I'm not sure what the meanin' was, but I'm pretty sure it was meaningful,” ya say. “Kinda like a Zen koan, y'know?”

“She's not a Buddhist; she's a Shintoist.”

“I dunno what that is, Mac.” Rumia shifts off in any old direction, her ribbon glancin' off your arm again as she passes off—ya sorta absentmindedly reach after it as it goes, but you're too slow to unravel it or whatever. Oh well. “Hey, Mac,” ya say, as something occurs to you. “That Reimu dude—maybe I've got my ears back up, but did she say her last name was 'Hakurei'?”

The question just sorta hangs there. Ya look at Rinnosuke to make sure he doesn't need a rebootin', but no—dude's lucid. Eye contact and everything.

“Yes,” he says slowly, like he's real apprehensive 'bout the monster at the end of the sentence, “she did say that.”

“Yeah, I thought so,” ya say, noddin'. “Wasn't sure, though. I thought it coulda been one of those things—y'know, like when you're hearin' stuff real unclear and ya don't get all the audibles, so your brain's like, 'Well, something's gotta go in that empty space,' and tries to fill in the gaps itself, 'cept it sorta sucks at it. Ya know what I'm talkin' 'bout, Mac?”

“I can't say for sure that I have or that I haven't,” says Rinnosuke. “It's definitely the first time I've considered the idea.”

“Seriously, Mac? Well, now ya know what you're listenin' for, right? If that happens to you, and ya know it's happenin' to you, you've totally gotta let me know.”

“That might be difficult. If I hear something incorrectly, I may not know I heard it incorrectly in the first place.”

“Ooh. Good point, Mac. Yeah, you've gotta be vigilant like whoa.”

Ya look at Rinnosuke and Rinnosuke looks at you. Rumia wanders back into the room, her hands together, cuppin' round something black and colored and plasticky. Rubik again, or ya guess his pieces. Rumia squats down and lets one of the larger remains tilt outta there. It lands on the floor, skitters for a sec, and then more or less balances diagonal 'cross a coupla faces of it.

Rumia stands up and clear again, peerin' down at her openin' move. Then she looks at the rest of the rubble she's got ahold of in that handbowl of hers. Assessin'.

“Hey, Mac,” ya say.

“Yes?” says Rinnosuke.

“Isn't 'Hakurei' also the name of that one shrine I'm supposta be headed off to?” ya ask.

“It is,” says Rinnosuke.

“And I'm guessin' that's not a coincidence, right, Mac?” ya ask.

“No, it's not,” says Rinnosuke.

“Yeah,” ya say.

Ya sit down (you're used to sittin' on the floor by now), tentin' your knees up in front of you so you can study 'em—your knees, ya mean. Course, ya can't see 'em, 'cause your jeans're in the way, but you're A-OK with studyin' those, instead, so whatever.

Are ya gettin' a hole? Not that that'd be a surprise, considerin' all the death-defyin' highjinkery you're puttin' this one singular pair into. Jeez.

“To be honest, I expected more than that,” says Rinnosuke.

“Huh? More than what, Mac?” ya say.

“Your response,” says Rinnosuke. “I expected you'd react in something closer to the usual fashion.”

“Yeah,” ya say. “I'm kinda emotionally drained at the sec. Way too much happened, and I'm pretty sure it's not even, like, afternoon proper, yet. That's, like, mega-ridic.” Ya look over at the clock Rinnosuke never got to set, like you're actually gonna get something useful outta that, but ya don't even get the clock—no, wait, there it is; it just got knocked over sometime durin' the whole tank thing. When'd that happen? “I.O.U. one soul-cleansin' 'nuts,' Mac.”

“I don't know what that means.”

“Rain check, Mac, rain check. Trust me, I am totally gonna go off and scream at the heavens. I just hafta work up to it, is all.”

Rinnosuke looks at you. Rinnosuke looks at the hole in his wall. Rinnosuke looks at the other hole in his other wall.

“We can't sleep here tonight,” he says.

“'Cause there's holes in the shop?”

“Because there are holes in the shop, yes.”

Man, it's been a day and a half.

[ ] That Alice dude has a pad, right? You've been there. It had walls.
[ ] Maybe ya oughta make up with Marisa. Or make truce, at least.
[ ]
>> No. 29687
>>29686
[X] That Alice dude has a pad, right? You've been there. It had walls.

Hang with Alice, she's cool
>> No. 29688
>>29686
[X] That Alice dude has a pad, right? You've been there. It had walls.

Damn Reimu, you scary.
>> No. 29689
[X] Maybe ya oughta make up with Marisa. Or make truce, at least.

Even if Alice has a much nicer house, she has to face Marisa eventually.
>> No. 29690
>>29686
[X] That Alice dude has a pad, right? You've been there. It had walls.

Alice 4 life
>> No. 29691
[X] That Alice dude has a pad, right? You've been there. It had walls.

We must make her know that the doll is fucking alive. She has already achieved her lifelong dream!
>> No. 29692
[x] That Alice dude has a pad, right? You've been there. It had walls.

Shanghai~
>> No. 29693
[x] That Alice dude has a pad, right? You've been there. It had walls.

Though hell or heaven bars the path, always vote Shanghai.
>> No. 29694
[X] That Alice dude has a pad, right? You've been there. It had walls.

Although I wouldn't mind meeting with Marisa (and potentially seeing how far she's gotten with the homunculus stuff at this point) I feel as though Alice may be the safer option...although I use the term "safer" somewhat loosely.
>> No. 29695
[X]See where Rumia chills when she's not with us
Frankly, I trust Rumia more than I'll ever trust Alice. Besides, camping in a tree is more fun than sleeping in the same house as her creepy ass dolls.
>> No. 29696
[X] I´m hundred-percent sure that Keine will let us bunk in her pad.
>> No. 29697
Besides, Alice will demand payment from Rinno and we don´t want him to owe anything to her.
>> No. 29698
[X]See where Rumia chills when she's not with us
This is a fun option. Where does she stay, anyway?
>> No. 29699
[X]See where Rumia chills when she's not with us
>> No. 29700
>>29694
I was this guy right here. Changing my vote:

[X]See where Rumia chills when she's not with us

This can only end so well.
>> No. 29701
[X]See where Rumia chills when she's not with us
>> No. 29702
File 14857630413.jpg - (302.36KB , 960x727 , tumblr_o92qg6wgDQ1rjmvbeo1_1280.jpg ) [iqdb]
29702
It's awfully close, so I'ma actually lay down for you guys the winner—it's Alice, by a hair.
>> No. 29703
>>29702

Probably for the best considering Rumia is more or less a youkai hobo.
>> No. 29704
[X] That Alice dude has a pad, right? You've been there. It had walls.

Meaningless vote just raise reader headcount.
>> No. 29705
[X] Chill with Rumia
>> No. 29706
Shouldn't Rika pay for the damages she caused? Yknow, with that money she saved by ripping off Rinnosuke, o she could buy a tank to kill Reimu?
>> No. 29707
>>29706
Something tells me she doesn't have a lot in the way of liquid assets. PROBABLY just buys her food then drops the rest on the down payment for tank MK2.
>> No. 29708
>>29706
I wish this were a darker story so I could vote-lobby for killing her and being done with it. What an absolute horrible cunt.
>> No. 29709
>>29708
Look here, son.

I was the one responsible for setting this off, and I asked for only a SMALL increase in the price. Y'all bandwagoners are really funkin' up my groove here, and I don't take lightly to that. It was you dolts who got her so pissed off at you, not me.
>> No. 29710
>>29709
But you lost. We got no increase and she still got pissed.

I think that if your vote won, then she'd have strangled us at the spot.

And put 'sage' on your email field. That's what it is for.
>> No. 29712
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29712
[X] That Alice dude has a pad, right? You've been there. It had walls.

“So, what's it for us, Mac?” ya ask—not thatcha don't immediately kick your head into gear and start wonderin' it forwards yourself. “Ya got a friend you can mooch a bed off from?”

Rinnosuke's mug goes a little painful. “Not exactly,” he admits.

That doesn't sound right. There's gotta be someone in Rinnosuke's monkeysphere willin' to lend a coupla sheets, at least. “What about that Keine dude?” ya ask. “Arentcha you and her all significantly buddy-buddy?”

The pause is deep. You're talkin' fathomless. Profound. “Keine and I are...spending some time away from each other,” Rinnosuke finally says, and—well, ya know how really unspecified meaningfulness has been, like, all the rage, lately?

More of that, there.

You're starin' at Rinnosuke's face, tryin' to suss that mystery out, when something occurs. “Hey, Mac—does this have anything to do with why ya came home back from the festival with a mood like a rotten egg?”

That mug you've been studyin' does a transfiguration hard. You're catchin' regret, with a dash of irritation and a sweet spoonscoop of inwards loathin'.

That means “yes.”

Though he's not the only one feelin' regret here. Kickin' Rinnosuke into the dumps? Not your intention. “Okay, so Keine's out,” ya blast ahead, before the dude can explicate. “Who else've we got?”

The whole pad drops into silence as you and Rinnosuke both give a big show of thinkin'. Or maybe he's actually thinkin' for realsies—you just don't wanna admit you're comin' up empty, here. Or effectively empty, anyways. Like, your brain's got ideas bubblin' all up in it, if you're gonna be honest. They're just kinda subpar ideas, so ya give 'em the ax before they can get voiced.

It's only when Rumia wanders back into this whole silent scene like some kinda restless ghost thatcha decide—enh, nobody else's up to it, apparently.

Sure.

You'll say the not-so-good thing.

“Yo, Mac,” ya say.

Rinnosuke looks up, makin' a clipped hummin' interesty noise.

“Okay, so, I've got an idea here. Only? Serious drawbacks attached. Hear me out, though—”

***

Alice opens the door.

“'Sup!” ya say.

Alice closes the door.

You and Rinnosuke and Rumia-makes-three sorta just stand there for a sec, checkin' out the wooden barricade that's just gone shut in your respective faces.

“Wow,” ya say. “Rude.

“But not entirely unexpected,” Rinnosuke mutters, and this time he knocks, though his pattern's a bit lighter and tighter than yours.

And maybe that's the trick, 'cause Alice opens the door again, even though she knows who's on the other side. Not happily—totally not happily—but she opens it. “Yes?” she squeezes out through her teeth.

“There was an incident at Kourindou,” Rinnosuke says, in a tone you'd nearly call apologetic if it wasn't so tight, too. “We need a place to stay for the night.”

Alice closes the door again.

“So is it Rumia's turn now?” ya ask.

Rinnosuke doesn't not look at the door. “No,” he says.

“'Cause I dunno if you remember, but Rumia's seriously good at the whole gettin'-into-places thing.”

“Your windows are open,” adds Rumia.

“They don't shut properly,” Rinnosuke admits. “They never have.” He reaches over and does the door again, harder this time. Not as hard as you did it, but harder than last time.

The door opens immediate. Was Alice waitin' on the other side? “You understand I'll be compensated for this,” she says.

“I didn't expect otherwise,” says Rinnosuke.

Alice and Rinnosuke stare at each other a moment longer. It reminds ya of those comics—the ones where you've got two superpowered dudes dukin' it out with energy beams, only they're both about evenly matched in that category so all it's gonna come down to is either who's got the most in reserves or who can pull off a sudden oomph to get all the way over. It's like that, only in this case the energy beams're invisible, and also produced out the eyes, and they don't break eye contact the both of 'em even while Alice pulls the door open just enough of the way that Rinnosuke can get through, if he wants, though only awkwardly.

Which he does. So he does. Which means he breaks the staredown first, and then has to pretendin'-he's-not-doin'-it-on-purpose avoid Alice's crazy maintained gaze.

Yeah, Mac, you're not foolin' anyone. Sorry.

You duck in after 'im—easier for you, since you're smaller, even though it's really mostly the duds—and bam! There ya are, walls to the left of ya, walls to the right of ya, and none of 'em with any holes they're not supposta have. It's a pretty cool sight, 'specially comparin' it to the alternative. Okay, yeah, sure, so prolly the host isn't so keen on you (and you're harborin' something like that vice versa, most def), but like your mom always says, “When life give ya lemons, squeeze 'em in someone's peepers.”

What you're sayin' is, you're gonna keep this place lemony fresh

“No.”

There's a sec where ya think Alice has learned how to pluck up the thoughts as ya pass 'em through the ether, but then ya look behind, and it's not you she's noin'. Who she is noin' is Rumia, who also she's blockadin' the door against with her own self.

Ya tip-toe to catch the ish, though not by much, 'cause Alice's short enough already.

“Guests may be negotiated,” Alice says, voice pitchin' somewhere between snotty and snooty, “but this is where I set my limits.”

You blink a bit, checkin' for if Rumia's committed some houseguesty faux pas, but no, she's just standin' there, smilin' up at Alice, head tilted just slight.

Like usual.

Though now that you're lookin' at it, that angle seems a little stiff. And so does that smile. Like the placement of both of 'em, and that's all. “Dude,” ya say to Alice, before it can get any more ya-don't-like-it-er.

Alice whirls, glarin' your way instead. “You may be content to endanger your own life, but don't assume your recklessness universal,” she snaps. “I'm generous already, allowing the two of you a night.”

Oh, this whole deal again. “Come on, dude, Rumia's cool,” you protest. “She's not gonna eat us here.”

Alice looks at you like she's watchin' a centipede uncurl on her kitchen floor.

Okay, fine. “Rumia,” ya say, over Alice's shoulder, “you're not gonna eat us here, right?”

Rumia's eyes, on the other hand, look like your brother's ex-girlfriend's. Which, y'know, still kinda offputtin', but better than the myriapodology.

“Rumia,” ya say, “kinda maybe please don't eat us here.”

The tilt of Rumia goes more natural, though she seems to wholebodily relax. Like a poiseful version of a slump. “Okay,” she says.

“See?” ya tell Alice. “It's all gravy.”

Alice looks at you, then at Rumia, then at you again, like she's just makin' completely sure this is all happenin' in front of 'er and also behind 'er and more importantly not not-happenin'. “No,” she says again, once she's all done, youwards this time.

Dude,” ya dude. “It's winter, basically. You're not seriously gonna make a dude sleep in the snow, are ya? 'Cause that's cold. Both figuratively and literally.”

“First of all, it won't snow in Gensokyo until at least the next month,” says Alice. “Secondly, even if it were to snow tonight, your unwisely chosen friend is a youkai. It's exceedingly unlikely she'll suffer from exposure, let alone perish by it.”

“Huh.” Ya look over at Rumia again. “Seriously?”

Rumia nods.

[ ] Well, it's no big, then, right? See ya tomorrow, Rumia.
[ ] No way you're leavin' Rumia hangin', youkai-skin or no.
[ ]
>> No. 29713
[X] No way you're leavin' Rumia hangin', youkai-skin or no.

Is letting Alice give Rumia the boot the smart decision? Yep. But at the same time, Rumia's good people, even if she's got a deserved rep for eating other, presumably also good people. Like, Alice may be being a chode, here, definitely, but she's got good reason to be a chode, considering who's fixing to get in.

Still.

You gotta stick up for the people who've been good to you, and Rumia's been nothing but good - even setting aside how she'd have totally tried to eat us when we first met if we'd tried to skedaddle, the girl's packed lasers and blasted ghosts and just generally been a grand dude.
>> No. 29714
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29714
[x] No way you're leavin' Rumia hangin', youkai-skin or no.
-[x] Or, to put it in Rumia's words: "If anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?"
>> No. 29715
[X]Okay, you camp out with Rumia.
-[X] On the roof, that is. It IS outside.

My rough, crazy plan is that we sit on the roof. Of course, our combined weight causes us to fall through into the interior, and then we use this as some excuse to stay inside.
>> No. 29716
[X] No way you're leavin' Rumia hangin', youkai-skin or no.
-[X] "Come on Alice, you are youkai too, right? So if Rumia decides to have a humanitarian midnight snack she´ll munch on me or go on a nice midnight flight. I know you don´t really like me so you gotta see the underneath the underneath or look for the silver lining or something like that. You savvy?
--[X] Besides, she´s really a nice girl if you leave out the `eating humans` bit and i don´t think it can be held against her since that´s what being a youkai means to her."
>> No. 29717
[X] Well, it's no big, then, right? See ya tomorrow, Rumia.
>> No. 29718
[x] Rumia option

Wait, Rumia is all the options.

[x] No way you're leavin' Rumia hangin', youkai-skin or no.

This going to end badly. And it will be awesome. Somehow.
>> No. 29719
>>29712
>Well, it's no big, then, right? See ya tomorrow, Rumia. *WINK*
>Leave the window open
>> No. 29720
[X] Well, it's no big, then, right? See ya tomorrow, Rumia.

Gonna loose, but at least I get I told you so rights.
>> No. 29721
[X] No way you're leavin' Rumia hangin', youkai-skin or no.

You know, I know on some level that this is probably a bad idea, but this Rumia is so well-written that I can't bring myself to care.
>> No. 29722
[X] Well, it's no big, then, right? See ya tomorrow, Rumia.
>> No. 29723
[X] But we totally had you set up as part of our girls only slumber party. Don't you want to braid each other's hair and talk about boys?

Com on Alice you socially awkward fuck, let her in!
>> No. 29724
[X] But we totally had you set up as part of our girls only slumber party. Don't you want to braid each other's hair and talk about boys?
- [X] Or girls, if that's how you drift. Like that Gallant Pig Marriage they came up with in Rome, you know?
>> No. 29725
In case my past vote was a little confusing (I was trying to channel her style), I was referring to the story of Pygmalion and Galatea; mostly I want to see Alice's reaction to our implication on her "relationship" with her dolls (plus, it might distract her enough to concede on the Rumia issue).
>> No. 29726
[x] No way you're leavin' Rumia hangin', youkai-skin or no.

Wow, the youkai magician is lecturing us on trusting youkai.

This is why I wanted to go to Rumia's place to begin with.
>> No. 29727
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29727
>>29726
Yeah but magician blah blah city-sect blah blah mindless beasts blah blah
>> No. 29728
>>29726

Knowing Christie's luck, Rumia's a Youkai Hobo and has no actual place.
>> No. 29729
>>29723

So like, I hate to say this but; my boy Rinno totally seems like the kind of Infinicuck who gets invite to girl's sleep-overs. Just sayin. Dude has zero game.
>> No. 29730
[x] No way you're leavin' Rumia hangin', youkai-skin or no.

This is my favorite quest to check and vote for whatever the Rumia option is no matter how unwise every time I remember this site exists.

Real curious to see what'll happen if Alice does kick Christie us out.
>> No. 29736
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29736
[X] No way you're leavin' Rumia hangin', youkai-skin or no.

“Cool,” ya say. And then ya go back to Alice, 'cause: “Still the principle of the thing, though. Are we in or what?”

The space between Alice's eyebrows twitches. “Surely you can't be serious.”

Oh, man, if she'd been speakin' English? Perfect setup. How does that keep happenin' now, when ya can't do the thing? Things. “Dude, I am totally serious,” ya say instead. “I mean—yeah, maybe hypothetically Rumia totally could stand gettin' dumped out in the chill overnight, if that happened. And maybe she wouldn't even get a runny nose from the deal. But just 'cause ya can, doesn't mean ya hafta. Dig?”

“I agree wholeheartedly.”

Blinkin' happens. “Ya do?”

“Yes. It might be that I can allow a dangerous youkai into my house, if I'm so inclined to do so, but it doesn't necessarily follow that I have to.”

“Okay, one, not cool,” ya say. “And two, aren't you a youkai, too?”

The question seems to leave your maw in slow-mo retroactive as Alice's mug does—well, does something. Whatever it's doin', it's givin' a feelin' like a dude who's just realized they stepped on a landmine the moment before they aren't gonna be able to not realize they stepped on a landmine any longer.

“There is a difference,” hisses Alice. “I'll ignore the insult, if only because you know no better.”

And call it a hunch, but it feels like your chances of gettin' Rumia in just dropped.

Whoops.

Ya switch to a different tack toot sweet. If ya can't appeal to logic, you're gonna razzle and-slash-or dazzle 'er with natural awesome. “Check it, dude,” ya say. “I dunno what reason you've got this hate-on for youkai for—

“Their tendency toward violence and generally uncivilized behavior?”

“Yeah, like, there's tons of things 'bout ya I dunno, 'cause we don't spend a whole lotta time next to each other, for some reason.”

“The sheer irritation of your presence may be some minor matter.”

“But anyways, I've got my loyalties, dig?” And ya point at Alice grand, like a dude in a courtroom 'bout to turn the whole deal upside-down. “So check it,” ya say. “If you're gonna kick Rumia on out into the not-even-streets-out-there, then I'm followin' 'er. Whaddya say to that?”

***

Alice's door is hard against your back.

“Okay,” ya say, “but I won the moral victory.”

“Mm-hmm,” Rumia says.

You adjust your sittin'. It's a real useless effort, though. Between the cold, hard ground and the cold, hard door, there's no way you're gettin' comfy out here.

“We're not 'here' anymore,” Rumia observes.

You consider that. “Yeah,” ya say.

There's a cold wind, 'cause winter's becomin' a thing, if it isn't already, and also Japan. Most of it sorta whiffs over the treetops, visitin' on ya some real atmospheric susurratin', but enough of it gets through to your level thatcha shiver and try pullin' your jacket collar up to guard.

Ya fail at that, mostly 'cause you're not wearin' a jacket.

“Y'know,” ya say.

Rumia tilts her head. That's her I'm-listenin' tilt, you're pretty sure.

“Ya could hold that wherever ya are, that's your 'here.' Like, that's an argument you could make.”

“It is.”

The headtilt doesn't jostle a millimeter. The smile, though, spreads out at the ends. Maybe even that same millimeter the neck decided not to deal with.

Dude is conserved.

“Totally not gonna make that argument, though.” Ya make that super clear. “It's a hinky argument that counts on bein' technical, and not even a cool technical, like if ya were trickin' a demon into not gettin' your soul or something. It's just a douchey, spirit-violatin', language-dependent, we-all-know-whatcha-meant-and-we-all-know-ya-didn't-mean-that kinda technical.” You say that, lookin' over to make sure Rumia's got the picture proper.

Rumia's smile does its deal at you, just as her as it ever was. Then the dude of the hour goes, “Okay,” runs her hands down down the front of her dress in a way that's real familiar by now, and takes a sittin' spot beside ya at the outside foot of the door.

Cool.

“Hey, dude,” ya say.

“Mm-hmm?”

“I've got a buildup of lame wordplay. Wanna hear a joke?”

Rumia considers the offer. “Okay,” she says.

“It's in English, though,” ya warn. “'Cause I dunno Japanese puns, just English puns. That all good with you?”

“I don't know English.”

“Oh. Bummer.”

So much for that line of convo. Ya go back to tryin' to find the sweet spot for your spine against this door, which ya theorize is a thing that exists but also which ya suspect is on the aforementioned door's otherside, which makes your theory a real unfalsifiable one at the mo. (Yo, is this what it's like to be a string theoriest? Double bummer.) Like, you'd try any of the door-testin' procedures that occur to you, if ya could, but this whole bein'-corporeal shtick you've bein' haulin' for two decades plus is keepin' ya outta the relevant testin' area.

Somewhere off over your head, a bough shifts. Ya look up and out, but if there's anything to catch, ya don't catch it.

Well, it's prolly just the wind again. Or a squirrel.

Wait, do they have squirrels in Japan?

“Do you want to tell the joke?”

Ya swivel your head Rumiawards. “What?” ya say.

The look on Rumia's face stays the same, but somehow she's givin' off a different kinda air outta her. Like an elementary school teach with an overabundance of love and an underabundance of sleep. “If you want to tell the joke, you should tell the joke,” Rumia says. “It might be funny.”

“What the point?” says you. “Not like you're gonna understand it.”

“That's true.”

The woods are silent and tulgey as all whatnow. Whatever that squirrel or not-squirrel was—if there was even a squirrel-slash-not-squirrel at all—it's royally shoved itself off, prolly outta consequence of hearin' your voices and not wantin' to be in the vicinity of that. Squirrels're skittish, right?

You're pretty sure squirrels're skittish.

“Yeah, okay,” ya say. “So...”

“If it's a funny joke,” 'splains Rumia, with the infinitest of patience, “it'll be funny when I don't understand it, too.”

Can't argue with that. Or actually ya totally can argue with that, but at the same time, it sorta feels like there's a real cromulent point Rumia's got in there somewhere. So what the hey, right? “Okay, check it,” ya say.

Rumia looks up atcha all attentively, back straight, eyes lit.

“If the both of us got booted out here outta solidarity,” ya say, “does that make this a sit-out?”

From somewhere far off, over the rockin' mountains and rollin' seas, comes super-faint but super-there the echo of a distant rimshot.

Nah, just kiddin'. That doesn't happen.

It woulda been totally cool if it had, though.

“I don't get it,” says Rumia cheerily.

Ya shrug. “What'd I tell ya, dude?”

Dies mei velocius transierunt quam a texente tela succiditur, et consumpti sunt absque ulla spe. Memento quia ventus est vita mea, et non revertetur oculus meus ut videat bona.

Ya stare at Rumia. Just for a little bit.

“That's my wordplay,” Rumia 'splains. And then she doesn't stop smilin', but the whole look goes a little wan. Dude looks kinda apologetic, almost. “I told it wrong.”

“Well, if it's a funny joke, it's gotta be funny even if I don't get it, right?”

And Rumia's smile still doesn't shift, but her head does, just a titch, and it's like she's sayin', “Touché.” And then she and you go back to sittin', and it's quiet, yeah, but it's a good kinda quiet. Ya don't mind it.

Or at least ya wouldn't mind it if it wasn't so cold. “So,” ya ask, more outta desirin' distraction from your own goosebumps than anything else, “what's that line like when ya tell it right?”

“Judaean.”

“What?”

And ya don't find out what, actually, 'cause that's the moment the door behind ya solid all of a sudden isn't, sendin' ya tumblin' backwards literally headlong into the gap. The back of the skull is the first of you to find out, and the usual way, too, which you've gotta point out real quick is a thing that keeps happenin' and you're also real quick gettin' tired of it happenin', thanks.

At least it's Rinnosuke lookin' down at you instead of some-hypothetical-one else. “Are you okay?” he says, kinda unsteady halfway through, like he's still stuck tryin' to process your entrance even though he's the dude that engendered it.

Still, the concern seems legit. The least you can do is a thumbs-up. Which ya guess is a thumbs-to-the-side from his perspective, but he can prolly figure out whatcha mean. “'Sup, Mac?” ya say.

“I've arranged matters with Margatroid,” Rinnosuke says, after a sec.

And also prolly he doesn't mean it, but you've gotta say it: “The way ya said that made it sound kinda fearsome, Mac. Is this good news or bad news?”

“You'd call it good news. Would you please get up from the floor?”

“Fair 'nuff.” Ya flip yourself over, all turtley, climbin' up in the air and turnin' on your footballs till you're facin' the right direction, i.e. towards the dude who letcha in. “So, what's the deets, Mac? Behavioral authority I'm not, but I feel like Alice didn't just do a total one-eighty on the deal here.”

Behind ya, Rumia stands just out the doorway, all politely passin' up actual encroachment, appraisin' this whole sitch as it develops. That's prolly the smart thing to do.

“I was able to arrange matters with Margatroid,” Rinnosuke says to you. “She says that she'll allow Rumia to stay, but only for one night, and nothing longer than that. That was the best I could get her to agree to.”

“And how'dja manage that?”

Rinnosuke's mouth stretches out at the sides. Whoa, déjà vu. “I am a shopkeeper,” he says. “My job is to convince others to buy items they might not be inclined to. It took a little while, but I found an argument that Margatroid would accept.”

“Sweet, Mac! What was it?”

“Six books of my choosing, owed me at a date or dates also of my choice.”

That's not Rinnosuke. That's Alice, makin' herself a presence as she peers at you (and also at Rumia, but mostly at you). She's not smilin', but she's managin' to radiate this grim sorta triumph anyways, which you've gotta admit is a real neat trick and a half even as much as you don't like it. Seriously—the way she looked sayin' what she said was something like a dude deliverin' the witty action flick pre-kill line, which'd actually be alright if also she wasn't standin' there givin' off the impression like she's the villain of the piece.

Like, if she'd ripped off a latex face instead and gone all, “Ha ha! In reality, it is I, the nefarious Fräulein van Winter!” you'da been only half surprised. Sixty-five percent surprised, at most, and most of that only 'cause nobody's a fräulein anymore. They're all fraus. Frau. Frau-en? They're one frau, and also an indeterminate number of 'em followin' that.

Full disclosure: You dunno from German. Null.

But more importantly, you're just realizin'—maybe that bit Alice just mouthed off was the pre-kill line, actually, 'cause you're lookin' at Rinnosuke now and—there's no easy way of sayin' this, but you're pretty sure he just had his dignity executed. Like, he's sorta still actually technically got his composure, in the same way an asterisk-laden baseball record's still actually technically in the books, but the only thing hidin' that 'spression he's got on his face is the rest of his head.

He looks embarrassed.

He looks...

“Hey, Mac,” ya say, and then ya don't say anymore, 'cause words. Words. For some reason they'ren't a thing that's happenin' right now?

“Your benefactor proposed an exchange of goods for favors,” Alice says, like ya aren't goin' through a crisis at the mo. “Whatever it is responsible for your complete lack of self-preservation instinct must be communicable.”

Ya look at Rinnosuke again.

Rinnosuke looks at you. He looks past ya. He's not lookin' atcha at all.

“Dude,” ya say, and ya still can't say anything else. Rumia toddles in behind ya—behind ya, carefully, like she can count on you to aegisize. You dunno if ya can. Ya try again.

Dude.

And that's a triple no-go on the wordage, and ya can't understand why. Like, ya know whatcha wanna say: “Thanks, Rinnosuke, for gettin' Rumia let in by givin' up a buncha un-up-give-'em-ables.” But all of a sudden you're aware of your tongue, and it's massive, and ya can't get it to do anything but uselessly fill up all the gawpspace.

But slowly, like maybe what you've somehow managed to squawk out is enough, Rinnosuke's head shifts—not a lot, but just enough to focus on you instead of out there. His eyes, too. They're meetin'—yours and his.

Ya open your mouth. You're gonna get it right this time.

Ya breathe in—

“I have one guest room,” Alice says, and whatever it was you were gonna say straight up just dies in the back of your throat. For realsies. “I can't see three individuals as yourselves arranging yourself comfortably in such space, but that difficulty is yours, not mine.” She turns, all military-like in demeanor, then stops, archin' her neck sideways for the partin' shot.

“Meals,” she says, “are not within my purview.”

And then she stalks off, leavin' you, Rinnosuke, and Rumia fillin' up the foyer, stealin' glances triangularly like something's gonna go off if any of you are direct about it. Rumia's the first to break it off, but more outta occupation with some else than any kinda mutual uncomfiness—she pushes the door away till it shuts into the frame with a sound that's way, way more audible than it oughta be in a sitch like this.

“Yeah, so,” ya say.

Rinnosuke looks at you, and you look at Rinnosuke, and Rinnosuke looks away from you, and you look over Rinnosuke's head, and you and Rinnosuke suddenly suck at this for no apparent reason, ya guess.

Yeah.

***

It's not like you were 'spectin' Alice to suddenly surprise ya with a full-course meal, but the dude remains real firm on her disclaimer. Well, it's not like she herds ya over to the dinner table and makes ya watch while she gobbles up three kindsa poultry, but she didn't notably not do dinner, either. It just doesn't come up from 'er. At all.

Do youkai not eat or something? No, check yourself; that definitely can't be it. Rumia's a thing. Ya know Rumia's a thing, here. Get it together, Christie.

Luckily, Rinnosuke is Rinnosuke, and also awesome, and so the dude saves the day once again, duckin' outta the pad before night can fix itself firm over your respective heads and returnin' in a surprisingly shortish time with muchables. Meat, specifically, and rice, all of it in a buncha little what-you've-gotta-guess're-bamboopunk-versions-of-takeout-containers. You're all for that, and ya know Rumia is too, if the way the stuff goes from in the containers to not is a clue.

And then it's bedtime, which is a problem, but also a surprise, 'cause goin' straight to bed after supper? Not the norm, as far as norms've been normalized over the whole stayin'-at-Rinnosuke's deal. Then again, it's not like Rinnosuke can complete his customary after-dinner fiddle-with-the-Outsider-thingamabob activity, not when all the thingamabobs that'd fulfill the fiddlee role are over at Rinnosuke's pad and also importantly not here. Dude can't poke and prod and theorize and get grinned after from behind your fingers, obvs, so he's skipped to the next item on the list, which is just “go to bed.”

Which is where “problem” comes in. Remember “problem”? Ya said “problem,” first.

There's only one bed. A standalone closet, a waist-high set of drawers featurin' a single lantern-lookin' thing that's pretty good at castin' the whole locale in forebodin' dimness, but only one bed.

That's a problem.

Or wait; actually, that's not a problem at all. “I call dibs on the floor!” ya call out.

Rinnosuke jerks his head over so fast you're amazed he doesn't pull a muscle. Or maybe he did and he's just seriously chill 'bout it. “What?

“I call dibs on the floor,” ya say again. “Like, throw down a blanket and an extra pillow or something. You and Rumia can take the bed.”

“Okay,” Rumia says, and points herself off crowish in a mattressy direction.

Unfortunately, she's the only dude that done. “I am not sleeping in the bed with Rumia,” Rinnosuke says.

“Why not?” ya say back. “There oughta be enough room. Rumia's small.”

“I'm small,” Rumia agrees, already liftin' the covers.

“Yeah, see? Bed's kinda narrow, but you can totally make it work.”

“It isn't a problem of how I'll fit on the bed,” Rinnosuke says. “It's a problem of how I'll survive the entire night.”

Ya narrow your peepers. “Is this a Rumia thing? Mac, ya oughta be the second dude to know—Rumia's cool. Rumia, you're cool, right?”

“I'm cool,” Rumia agrees, adjustin' her pillow.

“You're the only one she's 'cool' toward,” Rinnosuke says. “I still don't know how you accomplished that.”

“Well, I am seriously awesome. But also Rumia's awesome, too, so we ended up combinin' our powers to create this rainbow bridge of awesome between Christiekind and Rumiakind,” ya say.

Rinnosuke looks at you with the mug of a dead man.

“Or something. C'mon, Mac, ya know Rumia's alright. She's been hangingaroundin' your shop all this time, right? And she hasn't ever tried givin' you the chomp.”

Rinnosuke looks at you with the mug of a pained dead man. “That's true,” he admits, “but I can't depend on that.”

“Mac, ya can't depend on anything. How do ya know I'm not gonna suddenly spring up this second and go for your jugular with a shivvy device I secreted away on my person specifically for this purpose. Ya can't.”

“Then you can sleep with Rumia,” says Rinnosuke, takin' a step back.

Which is a solution, you've gotta say, 'cept: “Yeah? Then where're you gonna sleep?”

“I'll sleep on the floor, or perhaps find a chair in the kitchen. Anywhere will be acceptable as long as it's somewhere else.”

Veto, Mac. There's no way I'm takin' the bed while you're takin' the floor.”

“I'll be fine. I'm used to sleeping on the floor, after all.”

“And like I told Alice, just 'cause ya can manage something, doesn't mean ya hafta. You take the bed.”

“You're the guest. I won't make you sleep where you'll be less comfortable.”

“This isn't your pad, Mac. We're both guests.”

“And I shall evict both guests if they don't form a compromise!” snarls Alice, all of a sudden loomin' into the room like a jerky horror flick specter. “Now go to sleep!”

And she slams the door shut so hard you're pretty sure back home they're wonderin' what that was.

The two of you stare in that direction for a tick. “Uh,” ya point out.

There's a sound of breath blowin', and the light from the lantern goes out, plungin' the room into dark. “Good night!” chirps Rumia.

There's the sound of someone settlin' into a bed, somewhere real close. And then the sound of an irate cottageowner makin' floorboards creak, but then that's over with, too.

“Hey, Mac,” ya say, once it's clear the sitch isn't gonna change on its own.

“Yes,” goes Rinnosuke's voice, from where you'd expect Rinnosuke's voice to come.

“That closet—ya think it's got any spare sheets in it?”

“It's possible,” goes Rinnosuke voice.

The silence is a yawnin' chasm. Or maybe just the gap between a wall and a stick of furniture.

“Hey, Mac,” ya say again.

“Yes?” goes Rinnosuke's voice.

“My eyes haven't adjusted to the dark yet.”

There's a sigh in the dark. “I'll go and see,” goes Rinnosuke's voice, and then prolly it does.

***

There are sheets and pillows. Turns out Alice keeps the closet pretty decently stocked. Guess she already at some point figured the possibility of multiple guests.

Even luckier—it's proper futon, not just sheets. Sure, they smell like camphor and disuse, but still:futon. You're all for that.

You can sleep on a futon. You've been sleepin' on a futon. It's just like Rinnosuke's pad!

Well, 'cept for the fact that Rinnosuke's sleepin' on a futon right next to you. That's new. The next-to-you part, not the futon part. You're pretty sure Rinnosuke already slept on a futon.

If ya reached out, Rumialike, you're pretty sure you could touch 'im. Though ya don't do that, obvs. As it is, you can feel the sorta himness that he's exudin'. Not, like, body heat or anything, though maybe there's a difference there, too, but the fact of 'im just bein' there. The dude's presence.

It's sorta weirdly comfortin', and at the same time? Not. Not thatcha think you've got anything to fear outta Rinnosuke. It's just thatcha haven't slept with another dude this close since—see? Ya don't even remember when. Sometime when you were years younger, with either your mom or your dad or your brother or some close-family combo.

“Nervous nostalgia”—that's the perfect way to say it, and not just 'cause it's alliterative.

[ ] Time for some shuteye.
[ ] With a slumber party, talkin' is obligatory. [Choose one.]
-[ ] 'Bout Rumia.
-[ ] 'Bout the shop.
-[ ] 'Bout the festival.
-[ ]
[ ]
>> No. 29737
[x] Nighty night, sleep tight, don't let the youkai bite.
>> No. 29738
[X] Time for some shuteye.

Translated:

[X] Don't piss off Alice
>> No. 29739
-[x] 'Bout the festival.
I've decided my goals as a voter in this story are: to poke the hive as many times as possible, make things as awkward and terrible for everyone as I can, and to see some lovin'. And on that note, I'm displeased at the nonexistent amount of sexual tension in that last stretch of this update. Don't compare him to family, god damn it.
>> No. 29740
[X] Time for some shuteye.
>> No. 29741
[X] Time for some shuteye.

Alice is already about one step away from murdering us, let's not poke her just yet if we can help it.
>> No. 29743
[x] (quietly) "Thanks, Rinnosuke, for gettin' Rumia let in by givin' up a buncha un-up-give-'em-ables"

There's no Alice to stop us now!
>> No. 29744
[X] Time for some shuteye.

We can always talk in the morning if need be.
>> No. 29745
[x] (quietly) "Thanks, Rinnosuke, for gettin' Rumia let in by givin' up a buncha un-up-give-'em-ables"

Alice can sit and spin, I'll not rest until we land Rinno and get Rumia as best daughteru
>> No. 29746
-[x] 'Bout the festival.
>> No. 29747
[x] (quietly) "Thanks, Rinnosuke, for gettin' Rumia let in by givin' up a buncha un-up-give-'em-ables"

Rumia is awesome, but Rinnosuke is pretty awesome as well. He should be made aware of that.

And saying "thank you" is just polite, of course.
>> No. 29748
[X] With a slumber party, talkin' is obligatory. [Choose one.]
-[X] 'Bout Rumia.
--[X] Let's check out Rumia's pad tomorrow.
-[X] 'Bout the shop.
--[X] You know I have to pay you back for those books, right? Where do you suppose a girl could find a job around here?

First of all, OP wouldn't include talk options if we weren't allowed to talk. Second of all, they just defaulted to Alice's house without even asking Rumia what her place is like.
>> No. 29749
>>29748
>[ ] With a slumber party, talkin' is obligatory. [Choose one.]
>[Choose one.]
>ONE

maths are hard
>> No. 29750
appending >>29745
with
[X] With a slumber party, talkin' is obligatory. [Choose one.]
-[X] 'Bout Rumia.
--[X] Let's check out Rumia's pad tomorrow.
>> No. 29751
>>29736
>[X] Time for some shuteye
>[x] Kinda sorta unintentionally wake up spooning
>> No. 29752
>>29749

Eh, I'm sure OP can handles two conversation topics. I won't let him sell himself short by claiming otherwise. Also, this is kinda an important turning point in the story, so I want to milk it for all it's worth.
>> No. 29753
>>29752
>this is kinda an important turning point in the story
It is?
What makes you think that?
>> No. 29754
File 148770796235.png - (149.86KB , 769x366 , this one's for you.png ) [iqdb]
29754
>>29753

Well gee, I dunno man. I kinda just get that feeling, you know?
>> No. 29756
File 148883455543.png - (198.42KB , 700x800 , ___.png ) [iqdb]
29756
[X] With a slumber party, talkin' is obligatory. [Choose one.]
-[X] 'Bout Rumia.

“Hey, Mac.” Ya whisper the dude's way, more 'cause ya wanna poke a stick in the craw of this whatever-it-is mood you've got hangin' here than 'cause ya wanna talk—though it's not like ya don't wanna talk to Rinnosuke, either. It's win-win, is what you're sayin'. Or at least it would be, if the dude on the other end'd pick up.

“Hey, Mac,” ya shoot off again, tunin' up the amplitude by just a touch. And also the rasp, but that's incidental.

This time, ya get a response—a telltale rustin' of sheets as Rinnosuke checks in. And then: “Yes?”

The dude's voice is heavy, like maybe he actually managed to nod off already and ya just pulled 'im out. Oops. Well, ya can't unwake 'im, so ya might as well get on with what it is you're gonna say.

Which is this: “Thanks.”

And ya leave it like that, not cause that's the end of it, but just 'cause that's the most you can get outta your gullet by your own devices. And seein' as you're off from the shop right now, ya don't have any devices, so—complication. But hey! Ya got that far, at least, which is the sorta achievement you can do a mental finaglin' of into victorydom, so it's all gravy.

Or that's what you're figurin', up till Rinnosuke says, with all the sleep drainin' outta his voice:

“What?”

Which means you've gotta repeat yourself. Which sounds terrible, and actually is, but not as terrible as it sounds, since sayin' what you've already said before is easier than sayin' something new entirely. “Thanks,” ya go again, and wait for the comeback.

And wait.

Yo, did the dude nod off again? Ya didn't take that long.

But then Rinnosuke's voice comes spiralin' outta the dark beside ya, slow again, 'cept this time it's thought weighin' it down instead of sleep. “Alright,” he says, carefully. And then, after a sec of that soakin' into the air around ya, “Christie.”

“Yeah?” ya say.

“What am I being thanked for?”

Okay, 'zactly how half-asleep is this dude here? 'Cause you're gonna be PO'd big time if it turns out actually he's zonked off total and what you're gettin' now is auto-reply. Like, bearin' your soul just to find out it's crash landed on deaf ears? Not your plot twist of the week, thanks. “For lettin' Rumia in,” ya say. “That's what I'm thankin' ya for.”

There's a rustlin' of bedsheets offa your head. Like someone sittin' up a bit. Or someone just turnin' incidentally. Hard to tell without lookin'.

“I wasn't the one responsible for letting Rumia in,” comes from Rinnosuke. “That was Margatroid.”

“Yeah, but you were the dude 'sponsible for gettin' Alice to let Rumia in. Which means you're the dude I oughta thank. Which is why I'm thankin' you now.” Ya pause. “So—thanks, Mac.”

Another thing of quiet. “I didn't have a choice,” goes Rinnosuke, finally soundin' full awake. 'Cept he isn't sayin' it mournfully or anything, not like how you'd anticipate anyone sayin', “I didn't have a choice,” to sound like. It's more matter-of-fact. The sky's dark, the floor's hard, and Rinnosuke didn't have a choice.

Which is bupkis, of course. “Ya totally did, though,” ya say. “I mean, ya didn't hafta save me. I was basically plannin' to stick it out out there all night, if I had to.”

“I know,” says Rinnosuke

“But, like, I mean,” ya say, and here's you tryin' to cram feelin' into words and not gettin' it 'zactly right, but you've gotta try, “ya gave up books. And I know ya like books. And ya gave 'em to Alice, and I know ya don't like Alice. So that's like—double whammy. Ya dig, Mac?”

“Yes,” says Rinnosuke. “I dig.”

“Yeah,” ya say.

And more quiet happens, and ya mean what you're sayin', is the thing.

So why does it sound so limp?

Ya wanna tell 'im right. Ya wanna impress it all up on 'im, the breadth of thankfulness you're hostin' under your skin at 'im. But whenever ya try, it just comes out all—platitudey. Which is why you're just repeatin' yourself now, prolly.

If ya can't wow 'em with quality, shoot for quantity instead. As strats go, it's usually a good one.

“So yeah,” ya say. “Thanks for lettin' Rumia in.”

And as much as ya don't wanna, ya figure ya oughta leave it at that. Not thatcha wanna shut up, but at this point you're just gonna annoy with your thankin', and that's something like opposite direct of the sorta deal you're tryin' to get across. Ya turn your head back to the sleepin' position and shut your eyes, ready to get yourself delivered first-class to Nod.

Maybe it didn't end all satisfactorily, 'zactly. But ya said the thanks, and then Rinnosuke accepted the thanks, or at least didn't slap it down partway with a howlin', “Rejected!” so as far as you're concerned?

It's all fine.

“Christie.”

And then it turns out the clock runnin' down was a fake-out and you're still playin'. “Yeah, Mac?” ya say, openin' your eyes and proppin' yourself up.

A pause. Then: “I don't understand how you can trust Rumia so deeply.”

Ya glance over at where Rumia's dozin' to see if she got summoned up by the mention and totally fail to reach any conclusions on the ish on account of your eyes haven't perked up that much yet. Bummer. “Is this another one of those ya-don't-get-Gensokyo things, Mac?” ya ask.

“Yes. Well, no. Not entirely.” This pause sounds like a thinkin'-over pause, so ya let 'im have it up till your 'spectations're totally confirmed: “You know what Rumia is.”

Ya mime hittin' a buzzer even though ya don't know if Rinnosuke can see ya, or if he's watchin', or if he'd know from game shows in the least if either of the above. “Youkai?” ya guess.

“Not an incorrect answer, but I can't say it's as simple as that, either,” Rinnosuke says. There's a rustlin' of sheets, that could either be a dude sittin' up or turnin' incidentally. Ya dunno which. “I may not like Margatroid—”

Ya sense understatement.

“—but she was justified in feeling insulted when you compared her to Rumia—even if it was inadvertent.”

“Yeah, I'm not gonna lie. I'm kinda not all up on the whole youkai hierarchy thing.” Ya can't keep yourself bent like this forever, so ya sit up, or sit up too, dependin'. “How's it go—horse's leg, Rumia, Alice, you?”

Your hypothesis is swallowed by the darkness.

“Oh, wait,” ya say, quick-realizin'. “Or you, Alice, Rumia, horse's leg, maybe. Are we goin' from-the-bottom-up or from-the-top-down?”

“Which one is from-the-top-down?”

“You, Alice, Rumia, horse's leg. Well, you, Rumia, horse's leg, Alice, but ya said Alice got insulted, so I'm guessin' she puts herself over Rumia, at least.”

“It's not so simple as ranking individual youkai, either,” says Rinnosuke. “First of all...”

He trails off.

“Wait,” Rinnosuke says, soundin' kinda off his feet.

“Yeah, Mac?” ya say.

“You...put me at the top?”

Ya blink, and some of the darkness comes away offa your eyelids. Ya catch Rinnosuke's edges in front of ya, but but then your eyeballs shift and everything you're seein'—the little you're seein'—jostles and slides and rearranges till ya can't tell if what you're lookin' at is actual Rinnosukeness or just flyin' fly floater pareidolia.

Course I put ya at the top,” ya say in Rinnosuke's general direction. “Who else am I gonna put at the top?”

“Ah, I suppose this is restricted to youkai you have actually encountered yourself...”

“Well, yeah, but even if I'd met alotta youkai already you'd still be number one, prolly. I mean, you're awesome.”

Rinnosuke says nothing, and ya peer into the darkness to make sure he hasn't been eaten by a grue or the nearest native equivalent (who is maybe takin' the bed at the mo, actually). Your eyes're finally adjustin' proper, and you can see the dude's outline continuous, if you try super-hard and maintain your gaze super-steady. Ya can't make sense of anything above the neck, though—not till ya realize you're lookin' at his head in profile, facin' off from you like some sorta black-on-black silhouette portrait.

“Why do you trust Rumia?” he asks, real careful, real quiet, and ya don't think the quiet part's just 'cause he doesn't want the dude to know he talkin' 'bout 'er behind her back right in front of 'er.

Ya shrug, which Rinnosuke can prolly see. If you can see Rinnosuke's shoulders, dude can see yours. Or maybe not, considerin' those specs of his. “Why wouldn't I trust Rumia?” ya asks.

“She's a youkai.”

“You're a youkai.”

He scowls, or maybe he doesn't. “She eats humans. Humans who are lost, or humans who think they can get through the Forest of Magic without being harmed.”

And ya wanna say something—like, all Osgood it, like, “Yo, nobody's perfect,” but if you're gonna lay it straight with Rinnosuke right now (and you're totally gonna lay it straight with Rinnosuke right now; point A to point B like you're some kinda California crow)—yeah, ya would have problems if all of that was happenin' back home, wouldntcha? If it was you and Rumia in Los Ojos instead of Gensokyo and Rumia decided she was gonna keep on keepin' on with her whole eatin'-the-dudes routine.

This? This is called cognitive dissonance.

Sometimes you're kinda not so awesome. Ya can't help it. Dudekind wasn't meant for awesome that sustained.

“Yeah, that's a thing she does, Mac,” you admit. “And, like, I know that that's a thing she does? But I've never seen 'er actually do it, and that makes all the diff.”

“But you know she eats humans,” says Rinnosuke.

“I know she'd eat me, if I was like, 'Go for it, dude.' Like, there wouldn't be a second between that and the curtains droppin' on my chattanooga. Just blink, and then total skeletalization.”

“But you don't care.”

“It's not that I don't care. Like, I would totally rather not get devoured. But the first time I ran into the dude, she saved me. She brought me to you, Mac.”

Ya pause there, in case Rinnosuke's got any more he's gotta interject.

He hasn't.

“So, yeah, Mac. I guess I've only ever seen 'er at her best.”

And then there's nothing else you've gotta say, so ya leave it like that. Which means now it's seriously Rinnosuke's turn in this hot convo you've got goin' on at the sec.

But Rinnosuke—

Ya look at the dude—you can see 'im now, not super-clear, but clear enough. He's sittin' on his futon, lookin' at you as much as you're lookin' at him. There's the hint of a brow and a mouth drawn low and straight, respectively, but nothing else more than that.

The shape of a jaw shifts.

“And what would you think if you did see her eat somebody?” Rinnosuke asks.

“I dunno.”

The shape of Rinnosuke seems kinda a little totally unimpressed with your answer. “You don't know?” it says, encroachin' at the border between a loud whisper and yo-there's-a-dude-sleepin'-here-rude.

“I don't know,” ya say again. “Like, maybe I'd feel bad about it? Maybe me and Rumia would get into some sorta serious big-time argument. Or maybe 'cause it'd just be some dude I don't know from a village I've never been at, I just wouldn't care. Which is totally uncool, but, like, it's outta my monkeysphere, dude. Eat along whatcha want, as long as ya don't visit the sincere chomp on anyone I love. Ya dig, Mac?”

You're not shoutin'. You're talkin' normal, which is bad enough, since it's the middle of the night and now you're the dude bein' rude, indisputably. But it feels like ya shouted, just now.

“I dig,” says Rinnosuke, like an echo that came back wrong.

“Cool,” ya say.

It's all cool. It's all gravy.

It's also sorta not.

“Anything else ya wanna get all up on about?” ya ask.

“No,” Rinnosuke says.

“Ya wanna nod off for realsies now, Mac?” ya ask.

“Yes,” Rinnosuke says.

Ya lay yourself down, and a second later Rinnosuke does ditto.

Your head sinks into your pillow, and it occurs to ya, just all kinda incidental, that with the both of ya layin' your heads down right next to each other, you're not far at all. It's gotta be an inch or less gap between the nearest pair of shoulders.

Less for sure, seein' as you're feelin' it again—that himness.

As far as gaps go, it's a good one.
>> No. 29758
Nice. Now were getting somewhere.
>> No. 29759
File 148893316057.jpg - (142.37KB , 721x960 , 16819040_10154955973249020_3653266691891398509_o.jpg ) [iqdb]
29759
Come morning, you better be grabbing him as if he were the last lifeboat in the goddamn titanic, or so help me god...
>> No. 29760
>>29759
Clutching him like Jack Dawson frozen to a piece of wreckage, mark my words.
>> No. 29761
Y'know, Christie makes a good point here. Youkai may think that all humans are alike, but likewise Christie didn't really grasp the difference between Rumia and Alice. Some people might wonder at why MCs are so quick to befriend youkai in other stories, but when you get right down to it, why wouldn't they? Why would some random outsider give two shits about some insular, backwards village stuck in feudal Japan?

Put like that, it's no surprise that someone might favor the company of their new friend and not give a damn about the human village.
>> No. 29762
>>29761

Why should someone care about their friends killing innocent people? I hope you don't actually have this attitude in real life.

We've already got enough protagonists who buddy up with murderers just because they don't personally know their victims, its getting irksome.
>> No. 29763
>>29762

And there's the flipside, which is why Christie isn't completely on the RUMIA 4 LIFE train. She does kill people, out of a need for food rather than malice, but the difference is splitting hairs.

But the reverse is that the humans of Gensokyo actively hunt youkai. It's part of the whole weird balance that makes the place run. You've got a number of factions all balanced against each other. It's just that Christie isn't necessarily on the "human" faction just by the dinT of her species. I guess we'll see how she feels after actually visiting the human village. If she ever does.
>> No. 29764
>>29756
>As far as gaps go, it's a good one.
>gaps

Inb4 Yukari shenanigans.
>> No. 29765
>>29762

Are you a vegan? Probably not. In fact, you most likely scarf down flesh from murdered animals on a daily basis alongside the rest of civilized society.

So why would you fault Rumia or any other predator for eating it's prey? Human beings aren't the center of the universe you know.
>> No. 29766
>>29765

Oh, we're doing this again? As if we didn't have enough of that back in AWIY. But sure, whatever. Humans are all evil and deserve to be chomped on.

Course, you guys blow a gasket whenever readers decide to go after youkai characters for this, like in deme's story. So apparently its only bad when humans do it.
>> No. 29767
>>29766

Humans don't deserve to be chomped on any more than any other animal. Being chomped on is just a side-effect of being eaten. Which humans also don't deserve any more than other animals.
>> No. 29768
>>29767

Why are you even arguing with me, then?
>> No. 29769
>>29768

I'm not arguing. I restated your post in a way that doesn't allude to a four year old story, so everyone here can be on the same page.
>> No. 29770
>>29769

Oh, whoops.

I'm sorry, I always get worked up whenever this topic comes around. Its just a story and I really should calm down.
>> No. 29771
>>29770

I feel ya bro. I honestly miss the thread-longshitstormsarguments in AWIY more than the actual story.
>> No. 29772
File 148928603867.png - (190.14KB , 600x800 , happenstantial.png ) [iqdb]
29772
Sleepin' in a different pad is mad uncomfy, for serious.

You're not talkin' 'bout the quality of the sheets here, of course. The beddin' ya got for sleepin' on (and also in) was all good, more or less, even if it did smell like it came out a closet. Which it did, fair 'nuff, but just 'cause it comes out a closet doesn't mean it's gotta smell that way. There's something to say 'bout the occasional thing of fabric softener—right?

Anyways.

It's not a physical comfort thing, is the point you're tryin' to make here—more like mental. After two months and change of gettin' accustomed to Rinnosuke's roof, havin' this new one suddenly switched in on you is kinda seriously uneasin'. So ya do sleep, but ya sleep unsteady, and ya sleep light, which is prolly why ya wake up earlier than ya woulda managed normally.

Rinnosuke's standin' in the corner, adjustin' the hems of his robe. Same robe he wore to bed, which makes sense—ya didn't see 'im luggin' anything with 'im when ya made the trek to Alice's the three of you. The sound of your sheets shufflin' must catch at 'im—he sorta starts, and turns 'round, a surprised look to his mug.

“You're awake,” he says.

“Morn to you too, Mac.” Ya sit up and stretch a bit, tryin' to knock your joints outta sleep mode, then brush down your shirt to make sure you're not exhibitin' excessive belly button. Your shirt's all up with the beaucoup wrinklage, which is only to be 'spected, considerin' that not only didja sleep in this one, but it's been your next-to-sole torso-coverer since ya got dropped into this place.

Yeah, see? Rinnosuke slept in his duds, too, but compared to yours? Only sorta wrinkly. That's 'cause the dude's before had an actual change back at the pad. A lot less wearin' of that particular set makes it a lot less with the wearin'-out.

Rinnosuke looks down atcha kinda curious. “Is there something wrong?” he asks.

And that's when ya realize you're starin'. Whoops. “Naw, Mac,” ya say quick. “Just thinkin'.”

“Thinking?”

“'Bout clothes.” And ya spread your arms to emphasize.

Rinnosuke starts peerin'. Atcha, but only generally, like he's tryin' to work out prime numbers in his head and you're just sorta incidental. “That's right,” he mutters. “You keep borrowing my robe.”

Unavoidable. You're alotta things, but a nudist isn't one of 'em. “If it makes ya feel better, it's a mad comfy buncha robes you've got.”

“That doesn't make me feel better.”

“Seriously, Mac? Not even a titch?”

“Not really, no.”

“Uncool, Mac.” Ya shake your head in pretend despair, which'd be a lot more convincin' if ya weren't smilin' (plus teeth), but what the hey—ya weren't shootin' for verisimilitude anyways. “So, where's Rumia?” ya ask.

Rinnosuke's eyebrows go up. “Rumia's in the same place,” he says, and motions with a twist of the wrist—ya follow that over to the bed, where the dude ya know and love is a kid-sized lump under layers of beddery. She'd look like some kinda fabric lipoma if it wasn't for her crown pokin' out up out of the top of the sheets at (but not on) the pillows.

Still asleep, in other words, or at least lookin' like it, no thanks to you and Rinnosuke and the way you've been basically yodelin' by her ears the both of ya. Ya tune it down, pronto. “Should we wake 'er?” ya whisper.

Okay, not “whisper,” 'zactly, but it's definitely more towards whisperdom than it was before.

Rinnosuke, meanwhile, doesn't even bother modulatin', but he was kinda easy with the voice in the first place, so you'll give 'im a pass. “Better to let her sleep,” is what he says.

“Yeah, right on,” ya say, and get up proper, which involves actually bein' on your feet.

“The longer she's asleep, the less likely she is to cause trouble, whether it's chasing humans or otherwise. What are you doing?”

You're real careful as ya pull at the bed's bedsheets, rollin' 'em down from the top till they've got Rumia's whole mug at least displayed to the world. She looks a lot the same asleep as she does awake. Like, sure, there's the closed eyes. That's not the same.

But the muscles in her face, all relaxed, and the mouth of hers that's got a quirk to it? Yeah. That's classic Rumia. “Just bein' sure, Mac,” ya say. “Ya know how many dudes suffocate in their own bedsheets in a year?”

“I can honestly say I don't.”

“Yeah, me neither. But I don't wanna see us part of that population.” One last settlin' down of the covers at shoulder-level, and there—Rumia's the very model of a little kid almost done rechargin' for the new day. Also, this is prolly the first time ya ever tucked someone in. Like, sure, you've babysat before, but only ever dudes old enough to do in themselves. It's a new, weird-but-not-bad-necessarily 'sperience.

“If Rumia can survive an everyday extermination, I'm not sure a heavy sheet over her face is anything to be concerned about.”

“Didn't think you'd be so pro-smother, Mac. Do I hafta be worried?”

“I'm not going to suffocate you in your sleep, if that's what you're asking.”

“Only in my sleep?”

“I'm not going to suffocate you at all.”

Ya grin at Rinnosuke. “Cool,” ya say. “Then I'm not gonna suffocate ya either.”

And ya don't get a return grin, but there's something behind Rinnosuke's eyes, and ya feel like it can't be too bad.

“Speakin' of Rumia,” ya say, “whaddya say 'bout breakfast? I wanna ask Alice if she does vittles.”

This time, the something behind Rinnosuke's mug is lower down, at the cheek, pullin' up just momentary the corner of his mouth. “I don't know myself,” Rinnosuke says, his words pulled outta his chest like a magician practices the trick with scarves. “I don't think you'll find out unless you ask her.”

“Well, what're we waitin' for, Mac?” ya say. “Let's head off the borborygmi.”

Ya hold the door open for 'im on the way out, and then try to squeeze through the doorway at the same time as 'im anyways. It works out—nobody falls over.

That's cool, too.

***

The kitchen is fulla dolls, dolls, dolls. Blonde hair, and ribbons, and little hand-sewn dresses, and painted faces with starin' marbley eyes. They hang 'round the space in rings, like the eyes of an ophan, silent 'cept for the sound of joint-rattle multiplied over itself.

And in the center, playin' the hub all these not-dudes are spoked up to, stands Alice, feet flat, head stiff-angled, arms ramrod tense straight floorwards with the hands at the ends of 'em curled up in palm-cuttin' fists. Ya watch those hands goin' tense

Relax.

Tense—

Relax.

Tense, and each time those fists tense all the dolls hanginaroundin' twitch, all of 'em, all at once, like they're attached to strings pulled tight and every measure counted's got 'em played simultaneous pizzicato.

'Cept instead of dulcet violinin' what you've got is joint-rattle. Ya mentioned that, right?

This, says Alice through every one of her teeth, “is not an inn.

“See, this is what I'm talkin' 'bout,” ya say to Rinnosuke. “Here she is, up with all the fury, and ya know what's strikin' me? Not the colors. Like, I'm seein' lotsa hues here—acknowledged—but they're basically comin' up bupkis on the should-I-care-'bout-this meter. I'm more concerned with the quantity. Haven't I toldja quantity's its own quality?”

“I don't think you have,” says Rinnosuke.

“Wait, seriously, Mac? I thought I did. Or maybe I just thought it. But anyways, see, right now I'm payin' attention a lot more to the number of dudes she's got as opposed to whether they're well-made or whatever. As titles go, 'the Thousand-Armed Puppeteer' trumps.”

“'Seven-Colored' refers to the appearance of her grimoire, not her dolls.”

“And if her title was 'the Seven-Colored Grimoirer,' I'd be totally for it, but it's not, so I'm not.”

“'Grimoirer'?”

“I dunno. Is there a word for 'someone who grimoires'?”

“A grimoire is an object, not an action.”

“Now it's both. Grimoire, grimoired, don't grimoire, can grimoire—”

[ ] Let's make it a lazy day 'round Alice's.
[ ] Let's off some time with a forest walk.
[ ] Let's see how the shop is standin' at the mo.
[ ]
>> No. 29773
[X] Let's see how the shop is standin' at the mo.
>> No. 29774
File 14892879347.jpg - (8.30KB , 480x360 , hqdefault.jpg ) [iqdb]
29774
[x] Lazy days at Alice's
-[x] Convince her that dolls do talk goddamnit

I want to believe

“Then I'm not gonna suffocate ya either.”

>And ya don't get a return grin, but there's something behind Rinnosuke's eyes, and ya feel like it can't be too bad.

She smothered him on her sleep, I KNEW IT.
>> No. 29775
[x] Let's see how the shop is standin' at the mo.
>> No. 29776
[x] Let's see how the shop is standin' at the mo.

As much as I love Christie driving Alice up the wall, (further) overstaying our welcome would just be rude.
>> No. 29777
[X]Wait for Rumia to wake up
[x]THEN Let's see how the shop is standin' at the mo.

I'd rather us not have expended all that effort to get Rumia in the house for us to just leave her there to get executed by the turbobitch.
>> No. 29778
[X]Wait for Rumia to wake up
[x]THEN Let's see how the shop is standin' at the mo.
>> No. 29779
[X]Wait for Rumia to wake up
[x]THEN Let's see how the shop is standin' at the mo.

This sounds like a reasonable course of action.
>> No. 29780
I assumed waiting for Little Miss Awesome's upwaking was implied. If not, change >>29776 to

[x] Wait for Rumia to wake up.
[x] Let's see how the shop is standin' at the mo.
>> No. 29781
[x] Lazy days at Alice's
-[x] Convince her that dolls do talk goddamnit

How much Christie does it take to drive a puppeteer to madness? Let's find out!

She's the Superficially Busy Youkai, after all, it's not like we're really interrupting anything.
>> No. 29782
[x] Wait for Rumia to wake up.
-[x] Let's see how the shop is standin' at the mo.
--[X] Ask if Shanghai can come. Someone needs to carry those books back....right?
>> No. 29787
File 149136861714.png - (131.72KB , 480x550 , but with more killing intent.png ) [iqdb]
29787
[X] Let's see how the shop is standin' at the mo.

Enough!

Ya break outta the grammar ish (“grammar,” “grimoire,” that totally can't be a coinky-dink), fixin' your notice on the dude that's injected herself back into the whole convo just now, i.e. Alice. She's stopped doin' the whole tense-relax pattern with her fists, ya notice, but only 'cause she's decided that tense twenty-four-seven is where it's at instead. The dolls 'round the pad've followed suit, twitchin' and vibratin' and rattlin' hangin' in their places so much you're half ready for 'em to fly apart of themselves outta the strain of it.

“I have exhibited the utmost patience in the face of your behavior,” Alice seethes through the gaps between her incisors, “and you have responded with insults, mockery, and an apparently inexhaustible reservoir of idiocy. I would have been justified in leaving you to perish in front of my door as soon as I saw your faces—you and your friend youkai both. And yet, despite my better judgment. I let you in. I let you in. A mistake, I fully admit now.”

With every word Alice directs your way, the tension to the room racks itself out farther and farther. Forget just the dolls—it's you ya feel like is goin' strung here. Like, you and this room and all of reality as ya know it.

And all it wants is one bad-angled rasgado and the whole sitch's likely to snap right at your fingertips.

“Tell me,” hisses Alice, “is this how you repay hospitality? A roof and a free bed given you? Is there anything that I gain by not simply tossing you out upon your respective ears this very moment?”

“Yeah,” ya say. “Books.”

The dolls hangin' keep hangin'. But also they go limp.

Hangin' and limp.

Still.

“I mean,” ya say, “that's whatcha said, right? Books.”

The concept you've let loose just now seems to slowly permeate into the sitch. Or diffuse. Or omose, or something. “That's. True,” Alice says, somehow without movin' her face at all.

“And also, y'know, we're sorta awesome. So books and us. You're kinda totally gettin' the winnin' end of this deal, here, dude.”

A wave of rattlin' passes through the all of Alice's dolls, from one end of 'em to the other and endin' with the dude herself, though with her it's not so much “rattle” as “twitch.” But now her face's moved, in other words. Well, the part of her face below one of her eyes, at least, and only as briefly as the word “twitch” implies.

Still, that's movin'.

“So yeah,” you conclude.

Alice says nothing for a tick, and then she hitches a real sharp take-it-in of breath through her jaws. “Very well,” she says. “If you must continue sheltering yourselves in my home, I would thank you to do so in a manner as unobtrusive as possible. I will be occupied with various tasks of great importance through the afternoon, and have no wish to be disturbed from them. Do you understand?”

Ya throw a thumbs-up. “No problemo, dude.”

And Alice looks like she wants to dispute that for serious, but if that's a thing, it gets swallowed, and the dude goes “Indeed,” like the word is made outta glass comin' up 'er.

“But y'know,” ya say, “just double-checkin' here—so you're not developin' anything here in the way of munchables—”

Get out.

“Thank you for the care,” Rinnosuke says, and grabs ya by the shoulders and steers, and long story short but that's how ya end up outside Alice's cottage in something like forty-five seconds at the most with an attendin' Rinnosuke over your shoulder and a still partway-dozin' Rumia being a thing over shoulder number two.

Good thing ya went light on packin'.

“Hey, Mac?” ya say, Rinnosukewards. “I don't think it was the whole pad she meant—”

Do you want her to demand that specifically?

Yeah, okay. Point, maybe. “So, where now?” ya ask.

Rinnosuke's lookin' at you, and for a sec he's got a mug like he's all set to find the nearest warm stone to laze on and ruminate over all the twists and turns of life that've brought 'im up into this moment, but then he doesn't do that at all and stops lookin' at you and starts lookin' down the path instead. Or at least what passes for “path” in a place that hasn't got any, e.g. this one.

“Let's go back to Kourindou,” he says.

“Already?” says you.

Rinnosuke nods. “I can't say for sure, but with Reimu driving it, I wouldn't be surprised if the construction were nearly finished by now.”

Ya nod, and then catch up to what you're noddin' at. “Wait, what?”

Rinnosuke tilts his head at you, a silent question. Prolly something like, “Whaddya wait-whattin' at?” 'Cept he doesn't actually say that, of course, 'cause silent.

So ya expand: “Hasn't it been, like, a day, Mac? Since the whole tank-through-the-wall deal.”

“Less than a day, but yes.”

Yeah, that's whatcha thought. “Don't wanna rain on the whole parade you're marchin' here, Mac, but I dunno any dude that can effect a whole wall goin' up in a day. Even if that Reimu dude was mad terrifyin'. Right?”

Rinnosuke says nothing.

“Right?” ya say again.

Rinnosuke still says nothing. And then he continues still sayin' nothing, and then real slow, real careful, like he's not sure he oughta be doin' it himself, he smiles.

Ya know that smile, even with it bein' the weaksauce version. That's the smile of a dude who's got some crucial slice of info tucked away. It's the I-know-something-you-don't smile. (Ya know that smile 'cause you're the one usually smilin' it.)

Not that it looks bad featurin' on Rinnosuke's mug instead. It's just unexpected, is all. Weird, but not bad-weird. Just not-the-norm-weird.

Which is an okay weird.

'Specially since he's smilin' at all. Why doesn't he do that more? You've seriously gotta make 'im do that more. “Lemme guess,” ya say. “Magic, right? Like, some sort of instant shop-buildin' hocus pocus you've gotta prep, but then—whammo, instant establishment, right?”

Rinnosuke's smile goes a titch wryer, but it's still a smile, and also still a good smile. “If there's a spell that does that, I at least don't know of it.”

“So what—beaucoup speedy builders? Or just beaucoup builders, even, maybe?”

“Something like that.”

“Are ya gonna at least tell me if I'm gettin' warmer?”

“'Warmer'?”

“Like, closer to whatever deal it is you're hidin'. Warmer.”

“I did say 'something like that,' didn't I? I'd say that means you're getting closer.”

“You're enjoyin' this, Mac.”

Rinnosuke doesn't say that he is, which means he is. Totally.

***

“'Something like that,'” ya gripe. “More like ''zactly like that.'”

'Cause it's not like you've gone your whole life without seein' construction workers construction-workin', but this is something else, for serious. It's less construction workers, even, and more like a swarm of ants goin' the pad over and through, though instead of ant bites they're deliverin' repair.

Okay, so maybe that's a bit exaggerationy, there, sure, but only a bit. 'Cause you're watchin' a wall go up, gettin' worked at by what's gotta be six dudes simultaneous, and with that many cooks in the broth you'd think they'd be gettin' all up in each others' ways, 'cept—and here's the twist—they're not. “Concerted” is a word. So is “hivemind.”

And then one of the dudes you're watchin' gets her thumb stuck between two things of wood which brings that whole section of shopwallraisin' up to a clamorous halt and never mind, you'll stick with “concerted.”

Still impressive, though. Impressive enough that the fact that a not insignificant number of these workers've got horns is actually a distant second on the check-that-out scale.

“Seriously, Mac. How'd they get this much done already?”

“It is only a repair to the damaged portions of the walls. It was never going to take as long as rebuilding a home completely would.”

“Yeah, but still.” Something occurs to you. “Though I guess it helps when ya don't hafta worry 'bout the utilities,” ya muse.

“Utilities?”

“Like water and electricity. I'm not gonna say it's global, but back home it'd be super-weird if ya had a liveable pad without that stuff comin' through the walls.”

Rinnosuke looks thoughtful. And also kinda confused. “I can't say the same for electricity, but we do have water.”

“Yeah, outside. That's not the same, Mac. I'm talkin' runnin' into the pad. Like, from a place.”

“But wouldn't there be considerable drawbacks to having water run through your home? I imagine it would be less clean the farther downstream you lived. Do people with higher wealth or status get to live closer to the river source? What if they dump something into the river? Do the people downstream have to bear with it?”

De infantibus Hebræorum est hic.

And there's Rumia on the other side of you, as smiley as ever, and also as ungettable as ever. At least ya don't hafta carry 'er anymore. Dude got heavy.

But yeah, you and Rinnosuke bust out the usual Rumia's-Latinin'-again procedure, i.e. it's not any of your faults respectively she's goin' outta her way to speak a language she knows neither of you understand, so you're just gonna sorta ignore 'er till the verbage starts makin' sense again.

Huh. When ya put it like that, it sounds a lot douchier than ya considered it previous. Kinda too late now, 'cause you're already doin' the whole pretend-she-didn't-just-do-the-Latin thing, but maybe ya oughta reconsider for next time?

Wait, wait, more important at the sec. Rinnosuke said a thing, didn't he? Ya follow that back. And then follow that forth 'cause whatever mental image he's got in his brain—rivers through residences, and not in a reasonable metaphorical way—is totally off, obvs. “It's not like you're thinkin', Mac. Like, you're not gonna have a strait runnin' through your livin' room or anything. It's more like—okay, Mac. I'm simplifyin' here, right?”

Rinnosuke nods, and looks to be lendin' you his ears for realsies.

Which makes ya 'specially nervous, now. Ya don't wanna get this wrong, not for him. “So it's something like—imagine a buncha water gets collected somewhere. Then, that water gets treated so that it doesn't kill ya when ya drink it—which, mondo concern, natch. Then it gets piped up to everywhere you'd 'spect to get water from, et voilà! You've got the hookup.”

“That simple?”

“That simple! Well, I say 'simple,' but...” Ya shrug, by which ya mean that actually water supply and sanitation is a beaucoup complicated affair; yo, John Snow. “But anyways, yeah. Pads on the Outside've got walls all fulla stuff. If it isn't pipes for water, it's gonna be wires for electricity.”

“And so, since there's more work to be done, repairing a wall is going to take longer,” Rinnosuke muses. “It makes sense.”

Ya nod, and appropriately concluded, this whole convo just sorta peters out. Ya watch, Rinnosuke and Rumia alongside ya, as the construction workers with horns and the construction workers without horns do a great heave-ho and literally raise the roof. Or at least a portion of it.

Did ya mention that this is impressive? 'Cause, actually, maybe ya oughta actually actually mention that it's impressive. “These dudes are goin' fast, though,” ya say. “Like, even accountin' for the less-total-work thing. I don't hanginaround alotta construction sites, but every team of hardhats I've seen—these dudes have 'em beat by far. So, uh, you dudes win on that front?”

Rinnosuke considers his victory, and then doesn't rub it in your face 'cause he's awesome like that. “Most of them look to be oni,” he says instead—the workers, he means, obvs. “I imagine they have experience rebuilding homes.”

“Missin' some context here, Mac.”

“Well, they're oni, after all,” Rinnosuke says. “You understand.” And the he pauses and gets a look like—oh, right, this dude's an Outsider, so no, she wouldn't, maybe? “Ah—”

“They break things,” Rumia chimes in.

Rinnosuke nods, lookin' uncharacteristically appreciative for Rumia's presence. “Yes,” he says, takin' back the reins. “Oni are often—”

“So they fix things,” Rumia interrupts.

Rinnosuke glances Rumiawards, waitin' for any upcomin' sentence additional. When it's pretty certain that no, he's got the floor here, he starts up again. “Oni—”

“If they didn't fix things, they wouldn't be able to break things anymore,” says Rumia.

Rinnosuke looks down at Rumia, his thankfulness runnin' out quick.

Rumia looks up at Rinnosuke, and doesn't seem to notice. Or care.

And here's you in the middle, literally, feelin' the eyelines like rebar through your torso, which is a bad place for rebar to hang out, generally. “So, oni?” ya venture.

Rinnosuke maintains his not-technically-a-gaze with Rumia a sec longer before givin' in and lettin' himself recede back into exposition mode. “What Rumia says is correct, more or less,” he says, and that's the first time that permutation of words has ever seen air outta his maw, prolly. “Most oni enjoy competing in contests, especially physical ones. Additionally, drinking and, ah, participating in various festivities are common pastimes.”

Huh. “That sounds like the sorta combo that'd have alotta stuff comically shatterin' off-scene.”

Rinnosuke starts to nod again, catches himself, then screws up the bit between his eyebrows. “If you mean that it would lead to significant property damage—then yes, you're absolutely right.”

“So they've gotta be handy with a hammer and nails to compensate,” ya sum up. “Yeah. I can dig it.”

“Also they don't want to be blasted.”

You look at Rumia. Rumia is smiles, smiles, smiles all the way downtown and you're still tryin' to figure out what in the holy hey she meant by that when she lifts her hand and points, out, where all those dudes're workin' in ways that've been described already. For a sec ya don't know what she's gettin' at—you've seen those dudes, thanks; what does she think you've been jawin' all up on about this whole time—

And then ya catch something—someone there. Which, y'know, not so strange on its own. There's lotsa someones there. Only this someone doesn't seem to be actively participatin' in the whole home improvement deal. Or inactively, even, like if they were the foreman, directin' but not necessarily haulin' wood and nailin' it down themself. They're just standin' there, hands on their hips—hands on her hips; sorry, that's a her, or at least ya think they are—

Or actually ya more than think they are, 'cause ya recognize those duds. Red, and dress, and skimp at the pits.

It's that Reimu dude back.

She hasn't noticed you, or at least she doesn't look like she's noticed you. Maybe she already noticed you and ya didn't catch it 'cause ya weren't noticin' her—that's totally possible, right? Either way, she's standin' there, hands, hips, et cetera, watchin' what's happenin', but not in a way that's suggestin' she'd actually care if these dudes started puttin' the house in Betty-MacDonald-style. No, whatever she's lookin' at or for is a lot more specific.

[ ] Let's bother the intense-lookin' dude; this is a good idea.
[ ] Maybe how 'bout we just hang here for a while, Mac.
[ ] Think one of those workers'd mind a little confab?
[ ]
>> No. 29788
[x] Think one of those workers'd mind a little confab?

Hey, mac. What's it like being a hive mind?
>> No. 29790
File 149136951864.jpg - (113.33KB , 600x800 , smarterthanshelooks.jpg ) [iqdb]
29790
[x] Think one of those workers'd mind a little confab?

She's such a good character that just seeing her interact with other characters, even nameless ones, promises to be entertaining.
>> No. 29791
[X] Let's bother the intense-lookin' dude; this is a good idea.

What could possibly go wrong?
>> No. 29792
[x] Think one of those workers'd mind a little confab?
>> No. 29793
[x] Let's bother the intense-lookin' dude; this is a good idea.

Miko-bothering is a time-honoured sport of Gensoukyou.
>> No. 29794
[X] Let's bother the intense-lookin' dude; this is a good idea.

One day we will make it the shrine, and then fuck up in some new and unexpected manner.
>> No. 29795
[X] Let's bother the intense-lookin' dude; this is a good idea.
>> No. 29796
[x] Think one of those workers'd mind a little confab?

I want as many people as possible to experience the wonders of confabin' (if that even is a word... I've stopped caring long ago with this story) with us. Reimu already has, so moving on to the next target.
>> No. 29797
[X] Maybe how 'bout we just hang here for a while, Mac.
>> No. 29798
[X] Let's bother the intense-lookin' dude; this is a good idea.

Is it a good idea? Debatable. But is it an idea I want to pursue? Most definitely.
>> No. 29837
[x] Think one of those workers'd mind a little confab?
>> No. 29930
File 14942987674.jpg - (304.08KB , 720x720 , ウォーターメロン.jpg ) [iqdb]
29930
[X] Let's bother the intense-lookin' dude; this is a good idea.

It’s a mystery!

And the thing ‘bout mysteries—they wanna be solved. “Hold my sake, Mac. I’m goin’ in.”

“You don’t have sake.”

“It’s metaphorical sake. Hold it anyways?”

Rinnosuke looks like he wants to press the ish further. Then he does a mental shrug (you can see it happenin’, in the slope of his shoulders), huffs a sigh that even the lowdownest of tired dogs would get concerned about, and holds his thumb and index out just far apart enough to be grippin’ an imaginary sake-holder of some kind. One of those dinky cups, maybe. Ya don’t know for sure, ‘cause imaginary. You look at it (even though it isn’t there, whatever it is), and then ya look up at Rinnosuke.

Rinnosuke looks ya back and doesn’t back down from it.

“I’m not gonna lie,” ya say. “I didn’t actually ‘spect ya to do the hand thing.”

“You did just teach me about houses in the Outside World,” Rinnosuke says.

“So this is a tit-for-tat deal?”

“Something like that.”

You’re still lookin’ at Rinnosuke’s mug and Rinnosuke’s mug’s still lookin’ at you and the mug’s also just as neutral as it is a lot, at least since ya dropped into this dude’s pad and didn’t drop out—

But there’s something there, maybe? Some sorta—

Appreciation?

No, not exactly. But whatever it is, it makes ya feel uncomfy, straight out—though not a bad uncomfy, ‘zactly. Just a twitchy, antsy sorta feelin’, like either you’re standin’ still when you’re supposta be movin’ or movin’ when you’re supposta be standin’ still, and either way ya can’t stand it so ya nod, and ya break that weirdly solid gaze Rinnosuke’s sightin’ your way, and ya go towards Reimu, like ya planned.

And while you’re doin’ that, you’re thinkin’: Ya don’t know what Rinnosuke’s got to appreciate and-slash-or supply either tit or tat in exchange about. Ya barely gave ‘im anything. Like, ya did set down some Outside World knowledge for ‘im, which definitely maybe a dude could say was awesome, but ya didn’t set down a lot, didja? Just mostly “houses do water and power.” Still awesome, but not that awesome.

Also, you’re close enough to Reimu now. “Yo!” ya greet.

Reimu turns to face ya, real deliberate. It’s the turnin’ of a dude who is controllin’ every arcsecond of it and wants you to know that. She does that till she’s facin’ ya full on with a look on her mug of the totally unimpressed.

More importantly, she doesn’t yo back. She doesn’t anything back, ‘cept look ya up and down, like she’s makin’ sure, yeah, it’s really you. Then she goes back to watchin’ construction, like ya didn’t just burst onto the scene.

And then she says: “It’s not done yet.”

“The shop?”

Kourindou.

“So the shop.”

Reimu doesn’t respond. Which is fine. No, seriously! ‘Cause now you can get to business without gettin’ spun off on some sorta conversational tangent. “So what’s with the whole watchdog impression?” ya ask.

Dude doesn’t look off from what she’s lookin’. Not even with just her eyes. “I’m making certain nobody gets any foolish ideas,” she says.

And then she doesn’t say anything after that.

Yeah. Jabberjaw, she’s not.

Ya try again: “What, like puttin’ the rooms in wrong-way-’round?”

“That would only be an improvement.”

Ya glance back at Rinnosuke, who luckily isn’t payin’ attention to this whole you-and-Reimu thing at the mo. He’s engaged in his own little convo, actually—guess without something Outsidery to investigate, he’s gotta occupy himself somehow.

It’s kinda nice, though—seein’ him and Rumia get along. Or look like they’re gettin’ along, at least on the surface. He’s gettin’ more wordflow than ya are with Reimu, anyways.

C’mon, third time’s the charm...

“So is this construction deal a sorta side biz? Like, ya run it outta the shrine, or something?”

This time, ya get something offa Reimu’s face, even if it’s just a twitchin’ of the eyebrow. One of ‘em, not both. “I have enough to look after without adding a crowd of oni in particular,” she says.

“Really? ‘cause I assumed ya were the foreman here or something.”

And finally—finally—ya get a full faceturnin’, though the face you’re gettin’ the faceturnin’ with isn’t exactly harmonious. In fact, with that flarin’ at the nostrils and that wrinklin’ offa the alae besides, dude looks like she just thought of something terrible. Or disgusting. Or both. It’s only there for a sec, though, and then it gets schooled away.

“Foreman,” Reimu repeats, dully. “No, I’m not. If anyone could be called the foreman—”

“If anyone could be called the foreman, it’s me!”

Who the hey

There’s an empty space next to Reimu, where nobody’s standin’ or sittin’ or anything ‘cause nobody’s there to do anything, which is totally normal and wouldn’t want pointin’ out, usually, ‘cept that this empty space—suddenly it’s not empty. Suddenly it’s fulla something, though you’re havin’ a hard time figurin’ what “something” is before it turns into “something else.” At first it looks like a buncha floatin’ flecks, like there’s a ‘stremely high pollen index that’s also somehow ‘stremely localized, but then those flecks turn into larger flecks which turn into larger bits thatcha can’t honestly call “flecks” anymore, and you’re watchin’ as all these bits (not flecks) gather into fewer but also larger bits, like some sorta reverse mitosis—

And then suddenly (alotta things happenin’ suddenly) it’s not bits at all, but a dude—a girl-lookin’ down, almost as low-down to the ground as Rumia, ‘cept unlike Rumia, and also unlike Reimu, and more like the dudes over there overseen—this dude’s got horns. Long horns, twistin’ like someone wrung ‘em out, one of ‘em terminating in—

Is that a little bow?

Wait, but she’s also got a bow herself. Like, additionally, a larger one, more directly in the way bows’re usually worn, specifically in this case on the back of her hair. She’s wearin’ two bows, in other words, which is almost excessive. Ya mean—it’s not, in the end, ‘cause it’s only two bows, but if she was wearin’ a third bow? That would be excessive, most def. As it is, she’s just sorta toein’ the bow line.

Though of course you’re one to gawp seein’ as you’d do the same, if you had the horns to get away with it. “Yo,” ya say, liftin’ your hand in greets.

The new dude laughs, handliftin’ back atcha. The chain at her wrists clink. Also, she’s got chains at her wrists, with basic-geometric-shape-lookin’ weights and gravity hangin’ off the ends of ‘em. Prolly ya shoulda noticed this before the bows, but yo—it’s near-excessive bows, she was sportin’.

Ya can’t be blamed here.

Maybe. “So you’re the dude doin’ the foremannin’,” ya say.

The dude nods, smilin’ with mad cheer and also all her teeth. “And you’re Christie Christoferson,” she says.

She pronounces your name properly, which is a real cool breeze after so many dudes lettin’ their u’s pass through. “Dude, you’ve heard of me?” ya say.

“Heard, seen—did a little investigating myself.” The dude nudges the Reimu next to her, who somehow scowls down back with minimum movement of the mug, which said dude merrily ignores. “Reimu’s not the only one who’s been curious.”

“Oh, huh.” If this keeps happenin’, maybe Rinnosuke should charge admission. Fork over some yen, see the Outsider—that oughta offset some of the Christie Christoferson caretakin’ cost. “Sorry to surprise ya, then, ‘cause I’ve got it on good authority that I’m actually more awesome than rumors suggest,” ya say. “Or maybe actually less awesome. Depends on the rumors.”

“I dunno. Could be the rumors are actually spot-on.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously. Right, Reimu?” The dude nudges Reimu again, who this time doesn’t even react ‘cept for bein’ nudged. She doesn’t seem to mind, though—just peers back atcha again, that toothy thing she’s got settlin’ into something easier. Then she thrusts one manacle-wristed hand your way.

“I’m Ibuki Suika,” she says. “’Put ‘er there’—that’s how they say it where you’re from, right?”

“Dude.” Ya meet Suika halfway, graspin’ the hand that grasps yours, and do a coupla firm pumps—everything a cool handshake’s supposta be, in other words. Still, you’re grinnin’ like Suika is by the end of it. “Dude,” ya say again. “Ya know how much I’ve gotten in the way of handshakes since I got dropped in here?”

“Not a lot?”

“Like the bare minimum. How’dja know I was a handshakes dude, anyways?”

Suika shrugs. “The name was a clue—that and everyone knows you’re an Outsider. They shake hands a lot, for some reason.”

“And when ya say ‘everyone’...”

“Well, everyone that’s heard of you.”

Dude. Could you possibly be actually super-popular? Are you the Gensokyo version of a cryptid, i.e. just a normal dude ‘cause in Gensokyo cryptids are the norm and vice versa? Are there actually tons of Gensokyo dudes campin’ out in the forest tryin’ to get a glimpse of you like the dudes who’ve been years tryin’ to snapshot Bigfeet?

Well, you’re kinda hopin’ not that last one, ‘cause that’d be creepy. Like, mega-creepy. Creepola to the max. Privacy is a thing, dudes; you’ve covered this before.

Ugh, now ya wanna change this topic before ya get any uncomfier (too late). “So anyways, you’re the dude in charge of the rebuildin’ goin’ on, though, right?” ya ask, totally subtly and conversationally deft.

Suika’s already-grinny grin grins up at the edges. Just a little more, enough that ya can’t help thinkin’ she’d make a neato jack-o’-lantern. “I wouldn’t say I’m in charge,” she says. “I just called in a few favors, that’s all.”

“Oh—so, like, you’re one of Rinnosuke’s buddies, then.”

“Ah, well, we’re in the same circles. Actually, it was Reimu who asked me if I could help out somehow—” Nudge, nonreaction, “—so I definitely couldn’t refuse.”

“Nice,” ya say. And then, Reimuwards, “Nice.

That’s what gets the most reaction outta Reimu, weirdly. Her eyes widen a bit, at the edges—and then they dart, over to where Rinnosuke’s hangin’ before flickin’ back to you again. Her lips twitch, like they’ve got four different things to say, silence included, and they don’t know which they want first, or at all.

And then she seems to realize she’s tellin’ and schools her face outta that unschoolage and back into what you’re startin’ to ‘spect as the usual Reimu intensity. “Not as nice as you think,” she says.

“I dunno,” ya say. “Ya prompted the whole shop-rebuildin’ project, didntcha? That’s totally nice.”

“It’s not selflessness,” Reimu says. And for a sec ya think she’s gonna leave it at that—at that mysterious sorta phrase with currents underneath that everyone and their grandma seems to spout off in a place like this, but then she also says: “I’m ensuring I don’t pay for my own tea.”

Well, whatever reason it is, she’s still facilitatin’ the buildage, so it’s all good. Like, standin’ here, you can really actually believe that everything’s imminent on goin’ back to normal (and wow, ‘cause that’s totally a relative term).

“By the way, any of ya got a time frame for shop-rebuildage completeage? I don’t wanna rush a dude, but...”

The corner of Reimu’s mouth twitches, which is prolly not a good thing, answerwise, and then Suika laughs through her teeth, which is the same thing, ‘cept definitely. The latter gives a good shot of considerin’ the matter—tiltin’ her head upwards to imagine and thumbin’ her chin in the classic I’m-thinkin’-‘bout-it pose, even—before returnin’ the query with a grand shrug. “Hard to say, hard to say!” she says. “It’s not easy to get oni to work at anything but their own pace, you know.”

“Really?” Ya glance back at the hammerin’ and whatnot happenin’ simultaneous. “‘Cause these dudes look like they’re operatin’ pretty steady.”

“For now. We’re oni, after all. Who can tell how we’ll be feeling in a few minutes?”

“Huh. Bummer.” But seein’ as these dudes are literally puttin’ a roof above your head, it’s not like you can complain. “I’ll tell Rinnosuke, then—prolly we can finagle another sleepover at Alice’s pad?”

Well, hopefully.

You’re not sure.

I mean, unless Rinnosuke’s all set to keep tradin’ literaries, but he’s given up enough pages for your sake already than you can stand comfy over. Have him hoof over any more, and you’re gonna be feelin’ like the pits.

And speakin’ of pits, is it just your imagination, or is someone diggin’ a coupla them in the side of your skull? Ya look over, and—

Oh, hey. Ya wouldn’t think a dude could go from zero to eighty-five in the space of time it takes a second dude to get distracted by the Gensokyo barterin’ system, but apparently a dude can. Also, didja mention already that Reimu’s kinda scary? ‘Cause Reimu—kinda scary. “Yo,” ya offer, weakly, hopin’ that maybe that’s the secret password to get those laser eyes offa your general vicinity.

It’s not. “You stayed with Alice,” Reimu says.

It’s not a question. Ya answer it anyways. “Yes?”

“Alice Margatroid.”

“I don’t know any other Alices?”

Reimu regards ya. And regards ya. And continues regardin’ ya, while the silence attached to the regardin’ just sorta hangs. It’s a very weighty and significant hangin’, the sorta hangin’ you’d ‘spect to have with a body at the end of it. Prolly Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s, ‘cause you’d need more rope that way.

And then Reimu stops with the eye thing, just all of a sudden, turns on her foot, and goes stalkin’ off towards the construction.

Huh.

“Dude,” ya say. And Suikawards: “Did I say something wrong?”

Suika’s eyes are dark and narrow. Her smile’s a crescent moon upended. “It’s more like you said something right,” she says.

You don’t even try puttin’ that one together. “I don’t get it.”

“That’s fine. There’s a lot of things humans don’t get.” And she glances off at Reimu, who’s now standin’ before the whole hammer-and-nails shebang and makin’ sharp indications at the whole company attendin’ you’re just too far off to make sense of, and then Suika looks back at you again and yeah, that is totally a sentence that’s drippin’ with meaningfulness, that sentence. Like, that sentence’s got layers. And ya don’t know what any of those layers consist of, ‘cept for maybe the uppermost of ‘em, and even then just the topsoil.

But like this dude’s said, there’s alotta things dudes don’t get, right?

So it’s fine. Maybe. And even if it’s not, you can just head back to Rinnosuke, the half-youkai shopkeep, and Rumia, the dude-chompin’ beast in little-girl form, your two best friends in this magical forest in the middle of a Japanese bubble dimension in which they both live, and now in which you live also.

What ya thought about normal, something like a minute ago? That again, ‘cept more that.

Not that it’s a bad thing. Like, you’re not picky, even with your life havin’ clearly changed with all the changes in a relatively short amount of time. Change can be totally cool! And on that positive note—

“Okay, so—I’m just gonna get back to Rinnosuke and company and tell ‘em whatcha said ‘bout oni and paces—yeah?” Ya stick out your hand for the goodbye shakin’. “Nice talkin’ atcha.”

Suika doesn’t take your hand, though. What she does is—yeah, you’ve got it—regard ya, which is a serious case of déjà vu to visit on ya. At least she’s a lot more cheery-lookin’ in the way she does it than Reimu was—smilin’ and all. “You know,” she says, “this might be the most change there’s been without an Incident attached to it.”

Ya hear the capitalization—“Incident.” That’s even though Japanese doesn’t really do capitalization. Maybe puttin’ the word in all katakana or something, or with the dots, but not capitalization. “Change?”

“You wouldn’t see it yourself, since you’re the one causing it, but sure, change.”

“No offense, dude, but that’s gonna need a little unpackin’. What...”

Ya trail off.

Reimu’s done talkin’ at the construction dudes, it looks like—ya see her walkin’ a walk that wouldn’t be unfit in combat boots, right towards you, and then past ya, her eyes pointin’ straight like you or Suika aren’t even there. Ya can’t help turn your head to follow—and then watch her almost-stomp up to where Rinnosuke’s still at. The dude doesn’t notice ‘er at first—he’s kinda preoccupied with Rumia, who’s ended up perched on his shoulder somehow like the manbitiest parrot, which’d be adorable if it wasn’t for the air of imminent doom approachin’—but then he does notice, and for a sec he just sorta gapes before pluckin’ the kid he’s heftin’ off his person and into thin air where she bobs, not-mindingly.

Ya see ‘im say something to Reimu—belated greets, prolly. The slight movement of the back of a dude’s head tells ya Reimu is prolly respondin’, but if ya wanna know what with, you’re still outta luck—with all the shopworkin’ sounds, it’s all lost. Rinnosuke tilts his head at it, whatever it was, and there’s a pause—and then Rinnosuke’s eyebrows rise, and he nods, and Reimu nods, too, and ‘bout-faces and starts stompin’ back again, back to where she was overseein’ the whole deal. Ya watch ‘er pass you again, and then ya look at Rinnosuke, who’s wanderin’ after like he’s been drawn in her wake (along with Rumia, who trails behind).

He seems to lose the guidance ‘round where you and Suika are, though—just sorta meanders over and putters to a stop, like he hasn’t got the energy to keep up with that company so he’ll go with you and hope nobody noticed you dudes were the second choice.

Ya totally noticed. Ya don’t mention it, though. ‘Cause, like, been there. “Hey, Mac. What was that about?” ya say.

Rinnosuke looks at you with a ‘spression that’s not at ease, ‘zactly, but maybe might get there someday with a some luck and also some pluck, and also also more of one than the other. “We’ll be able to move back into Kourindou by the end of the day,” he says. “At least, we should be.”

Now it’s Suika’s turn to make with the eyebrows. “That soon? Really?

“That’s what Reimu told me.”

Ya look over yourself—ya can’t tell if the dudes’re workin’ in a way that’d be considered “speedy”—no context, so ya wouldn’t know one pace from another—but with the way Reimu’s standin’ here, hands on her hips again, ‘spression taut, beamin’ laser eyes at whichever dude’s unlucky to be her focus any given sec—

Like, you’re not exactly an unbiased observer here? But you’ve got a feelin’ like if Reimu’s decided something’s gonna be a certain way, it’s gonna be that way or else. Ya can’t justify it too well, even to yourself. It’s just this sense of authority waftin’ offa her, is what it is—something past parent or angry boss or pissed-off police officer pullin’ all the stops to make your infraction ‘spand into full life consequences.

If it was Reimu versus the world, you’d bet on the world, ‘cause attrition. But you’d think about it, first.

Suika considers the whole sitch. Or acts like she’s considerin’ it, anyways—thumb on her chin and tiltin’ her head up and hummin’ ponderously and everything. “Well, if Reimu’s said that, it’s gotta be true,” she says, finally. Then her grin goes broad and she leers atcha—not in the way a dude leers at other dudes on the street, but the way a dude leers when they’ve got all the cards and they know it.

“Why don’t you two go spend some time somewhere else?” she says. “We oughta be done here by sundown, at least.”

“Three,” ya say.

For the first time in this whole convo—encounter, actually—Suika looks sorta off-foot. “‘Three’?”

You point at Rumia, who’s swayin’ in some nonexistent breeze over Rinnosuke’s back. She has her hands restin’ in each other behind her back—her slimness and her blonde hair leave ‘er resemblin’ a dandelion still frontin’ with the pseudanthium (though completin’ this simile means that Rumia’s hair is gonna blow away in the wind sometime soon, which is a mental image you’re real okay with abandonin’—not that she couldn’t rock the bald look, if she wanted to, but this train of thought has taken a worryin’ line and ya wanna abort before it ends up at one of those urban-legend train stations that’s half in this world and half in another, and gettin’ off at that point basically spells a dude’s doom, only now thatcha think about it you’re in Gensokyo where it’s supernatural whatnow up the wazoo twenty-four-seven, so it might already be too late).

“Yeah, me, Rinnosuke, and Rumia, dude,” ya say. “Three.”

Rumia seems to notice Suika’s gaze for the first time. She waves merrily, which makes her look less like a dandelion, ‘cause dandelions don’t have arms, and you’re totally okay with that.

Rumia not lookin’ like a dandelion, not the general armlessness of dandelions. Though you’re okay with that, too.

Anyways.

Suika recovers quick, once she’s got your line. “Huh,” she says, first, but then she’s back to her usual mug and the tone to go with it: “Well, then you three should go have fun somewhere. Like I said, we’ll be done by sundown.”

You and Rinnosuke look at each other. There’s some raisin’ of the eyebrows and the tiltin’ of the heads, while Rumia stands to the side and officiates blandly, but it doesn’t take long to get to an implicit decision.

Yeah, sure. You can take a walk.

***

Okay, so maybe “walk” isn’t totally the right word. “Walk” sorta implies ya know where you’re goin’, even if it’s only in what direction. What you’ve got here—with you and Rinnosuke and Rumia just headin’ out and if ya curve away from your ray then whatever—is a “mosey.”

Ya let that happen for a while, just you and Rinnosuke puttin’ one step in front of the other and Rumia doin’ similar but not identical ‘cause floatin’—and then break it. “So what’s up?”

Rinnosuke’s got a furrowed brow. “’What’s up?’” he repeats.

“With Suika. Like, if you can tell me anything,” ya say, and when that’s clearly not gettin’ ya what you’re lookin’ for, you expand: “Like, there was an introduction, but I feel like if I wanna get the four-one-one on some Gensokyo dude, maybe I better ask someone who’s actually a denizen? E.g. you.”

“Ah...” Rinnosuke trails off, noddin’ in an oh-that-makes-sense sorta way. “Ibuki Suika—she’s an oni, just as the other workers are. As far as her interests are concerned, they don’t differ much from the typical oni’s, either—alcohol, fighting, and festivities. Past that, she’s been involved in a few incidents, but nothing that hasn’t been put to rest relatively quickly.”

“And she and the Reimu dude are—what, buddies?”

“It’s difficult to tell, especially where Reimu is involved.” And there’s something funny in the way Rinnosuke says that that you’ve gotta look at ‘im, like maybe it’s printed on his mug what or why. Maybe ya shouldnta looked at all, though, ‘cause as soon as Rinnosuke notices you’re noticin’ he shakes it away (whatever it is). “I suppose you could call them friends,” he says quick, more normal ‘bout it. “They don’t go out of their ways to impede each other.”

“That’s a kinda low bar for friendship, Mac.”

“I suspect Ibuki might call it a friendship anyway.”

“Yeah, but, like...that’s on her. It doesn’t make it very friendshippy just ‘cause it’s called that.”

“They help each other more than they actively hinder each other—why is this an argument?”

And the thing is, you’re all set to shoot something right back—what, exactly, ya don’t know, and prolly ya still wouldn’t know till it parted your jaw—but yeah, why is this an argument? Ya don’t know that, either.

So ya settle down and shut it, at least as far as the concept of friendship goes. “So they’re friends, huh,” ya mutter.

Rinnosuke’s mug is blank. “They’re friends,” he says.

“Also,” Rumia says, “once Suika made the moon explode.”

Ya digest that, just for a sec. Like, the words, and the sentence, and the place of the words in the sentence. “What,” ya conclude.

“No, that isn’t right,” Rinnosuke says, quick. “You can’t say she made the moon explode.”

Oh, good.

“Can’t I?” says Rumia.

“You could, but it would be inaccurate. Certainly, the moon appeared to explode—

Again, what.

“—but it wasn’t the actual moon that exploded, but only the image of the moon, as it was reflected in the heavens. You might not know this, but the moon that we see in the night sky is only a reflection of the moon and not the moon itself—otherwise, human beings who saw it would go insane. In short, the actual moon was unaffected.”

Yeah. Okay. Like, that sounds totally fake and-slash-or mind-blowin’, but okay. Just as long as she didn’t actually blow up the moon.

‘Cause that would be kinda terrifyin’? Just a bit.

“If you wanted to be accurate, you would say that what Suika actually made explode was the canopy of the sky itself.”

Never mind! Still kinda terrifyin’. “I guess if you can blow up the sky no one’s gonna complain when ya call yourself their friend,” ya muse.

Rinnosuke blinks, like he forgot he actually had an audience to the lecture he was layin’ on ears here. “I suppose that’s true,” he says, unsteadily, and the three of you get on with this walk to nowhere.
>> No. 29932
File 149430053627.png - (81.70KB , 600x213 , silvambulate.png ) [iqdb]
29932
***

As far as habitats go, you’re a dude of the city. Sure, your home’s got plenty of green and space to it—smog-choked urban dystopia it’s not, thanks—but ultimately it’s still a whole buncha zones and streets in grids, with public transport and upkeep on the reg. Hikin’, meanwhile? Yeah, you’ve been campin’ a coupla times, ‘cause your dad’s the sort, but trompin’ through high green with the sun on your back and the bugs at your arms is primarily on that side of “not your jam.”

Still...

Walkin’ through the forest, as aimlessly as ya know you’re walkin’ right now—somehow, it’s not so bad. Maybe it’s the company. Rinnosuke’s Rinnosuke, and Rumia’s Rumia. A coupla dudes and a childish fun-sized dude, and...

Yo, maybe you’re just pareidolizin’, but walkin’ side by side like this, the three of you look like some sorta familial unit, is all. It’s a weird feelin’. But not a bad feelin’. Maybe this is why your dad was so set on campfires—this whole thing of you’re-here-and-I’m-here-and-I’m-here-with-ya.

You’re-here-and-I’m-here-and-I’m-here-with-ya-and-maybe-that’s-enough-somehow, maybe.

There’s enough clearin’ in this walk of the forest you could do something fun if ya wanted, prolly. Like, ya don’t have a deck of cards or anything, but you could nudge Rinnosuke, just a little, and watch ‘im stumble, also just a little, not enough to actually be mean, and then you could laugh, and maybe Rumia’d laugh, and maybe Rinnosuke’d laugh, too, though ya can’t image that too well.

But it’s a possibility.

Ya don’t do that. What ya do instead is ask Rumia a question she prolly wouldn’t know the answer to, tiltin’ your head down Rumiawards to ensure the direction’s clear as crystal. Or as clear as a bell. Or a clear as a bell made outta crystal, which’d be a severe ‘spression of ostentatious luxury. Like, seriously, dude, just donate to meaningful causes or something.

“So, Rumia,” is whatcha say, “ya think they’re gonna be done soon? With the shop.”

Sapientia ædificabitur domus, et prudentia roborabitur. In doctrina replebuntur cellaria, universa substantia pretiosa et pulcherrima.

Yeah, you’re not sure whatcha ‘spected. And you’re all set to give it up for a loss like usual when Rumia continues:

“But Rinnosuke already knows a lot of things, so that’s okay for now.”

“What?” Rinnosuke says.

“What?” ya say.

Rumia smiles up at you. “You know a lot of things, too,” she says, and for some reason, ya can’t help thinkin’ she’s makin’ fun of you. Laughin’ at you, behind her face.

But maybe that’s not mean, either.
>> No. 29934
>No foundation for a house like wisdom, no buttress like discernment; no furnishing may be found for the rooms of it so rare and so pleasant, as true knowledge.

It doesn't matter if they have a house or not, because they have knowledge far more precious. With a focus on important things and a flabbergasting lack of prejudices, they could surpass almost any obstacle.

Also, not sure if Reimu appreciated them forcing a friend (or a friend of a friend) to be more sociable or if she just doesn't want them to spend another night with her.

I hope it is the first.
>> No. 29947
I'm getting some serious homewrecker vibes from Reimu. We were here first, fuck off armpit-whore.
>> No. 29950
>>29947

I don´t see it. Please elaborate.
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