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Darkness is all before you as you wake up once again from the shrieking that rings in your ears. Groggily, you pull yourself from your bed as you glance around, shaking the cobwebs from your mind as you remember what you are doing up at this ungodly hour.

As you look at the clock, you can't help but to grimace. "Right. Work, again. Early today; we need to get a lot done." With a sigh, you slide out of bed, idly scratching yourself as you pass by the clock. Idly, your hand reaches out to turn off the alarm, giving your eardrums a blissful rest from the cacophony that only then ceased.

Slowly, you make your way to the bathroom, flicking on the light as you do. Not even bothering to look in the mirror, you step into the shower and let the hot water bring you to your senses.

Ten minutes later, you are already dried off and partially dressed, doing your best to hurry along. Making sure that the cheap slacks and company polo were on straight and not showing too many wrinkles, lest you give off a veneer of being unprofessional, you grab a coat and walk out into the chilly morning air.

You automatically glanced up as you leave the building, your eyes seeking the sun that wasn't present in the sky. "So damn early? Bah." Without any more griping besides the grumbling under your breath, you unlock your truck and climb in.

Turning over the ignition, you automatically pat the dashboard as you back out of your parking spot. "Another early one today, girl. Let's get going, so we can get home early, yes?" As you switch it into drive, you can't help but to chuckle, imagining that the truck was responding to you with the engine's roar. Still, you let your imagination settle down, making sure to turn on the lights before turning onto the main road.

The drive was silent, with but a few cars on the old city streets as you drive along. The most movement comes from the occasional early morning jogger and the flashing of the traffic lights as they slowly allow you to proceed. Glancing down at the still water of the river as you cross the bridge spanning its depths, you sigh. "At least it's Friday? Almost over for now. Ain't that right, girl?" Hearing no response but the steady roar, you shake your head and finish your drive to work.

Once you park next to a curb, taking care to make sure that the truck was perfectly safe from everyone but an idiotic or willfully destructive driver, you clamber out and walk in. Upon reaching the service entry, you pull out a key and open the lock. "Looks like I'm the first one here. Again." You snort to yourself as you approach the time clock. "When am I ever not, though?"

Turning the lights on in the storage closet, you begin to scan for your own card. Your hand automatically plucks the card from its slot once you spot it in the dim light before putting it into the machine. Punching your time on the stiff piece of paper, you put the card back in its home before turning around towards your equipment.

After spending a minute to check that everything is stocked completely, you pick up a mop bucket and began to fill it. You grab one of the mops off the wall while waiting for the bucket to fill up. In your early-morning stupor, you have to remind yourself to put in some soap. "Pretty stupid to not get any for cleaning. It's not time to rinse yet?" Once it is full, you lift up the heavy bucket and place it on the cart. Barely bothering to lock the door behind you, you roll out of the room and start the day the same as all of the others. "At least I'll have some peace and quiet until the bigwigs show up."

The next few hours are the same tedium that they always were. Restocking empty dispensers, wiping off counters, mopping up messes on the floor and cleaning toilets. Merely going through the motions, you refill yet another box of paper towels as you finish yet another bathroom.

On your way back to the closet, you start to talk to yourself. "So, wonder what the bigwigs have planned for today. Probably just some big to-do of a meeting. Where they'll make a mess of for sure." Wiping his brow as he finished the last one, leaving it as shining as the dull tile could, he rolled the cart out and back to the closet. "Just because someone is paid to clean up after you doesn't mean you can't show the common courtesy of picking up after yourself." Pausing, you nearly pinch yourself. "Got to watch the double negatives round the staff. Always complain when I don't speak right."

Still griping under your breath, you continue on your way, putting away the cart and taking up a dust mop to start cleaning the hallways. As you walk along, someone else finally appears before you. "Hello, Mr. Blevins. How are you doing today?"

The man in the suit turned his head towards you before smiling. "Quite fine, quite fine. Has your day been going well?"

Shrugging, you lean slightly on the dust mop. "Nothing to complain about sir. Just need to finish mopping, then pan and broom the carpeted rooms. Then a general dusting and wiping down the tables. Shouldn't be much more than an hour or two till I'm done with the basic care." Pausing, you nearly slap yourself in the head. "Oh, and I need to pull trash sometime."

Mr. Blevins nods at you, turning away slightly. "Well, keep it up son. Wish that you could be more thorough than that, in all honesty."

"I get the rest of everything done in the afternoon. Shouldn't need vacuuming for another day or two, depending on the traffic. Everything else is going along swimmingly, for better lack of a proper term."

Still nodding more to himself than anything else, Mr. Blevins turned back to face you. "As always, as always. However, before everyone else arrives, can you spend some time in the break room? There was a rather large mess when I came by earlier."

Mentally you groan as you shoot him an odd look. "I cleaned it last night, before I left. What's wrong with it?"

"Some junior staffers came in late last night to do some work." Mr. Blevins returns your glance with a tired look of his own. "I'll be having some words with them later. But could you go ahead and fix it up?"

Clenching your teeth, you sigh. "Alright, I'll get to it. I'm ahead of schedule, so it shouldn't take much longer."

Not quite smiling, Mr. Blevins nods to you before moving on. "Thanks. If it happens again, I'll have them clean it up themselves."

Responding with just a silent nod, you turn back to your work, picking up the pace. "Bout need to. But I wonder if they even know how to use a broom." Snorting, he fell into silence before returning to the closet. "Better just get to it, though."


After too many hours of scrubbing down the messes that others made, you take a seat back in the closet. "Damn fools must have exploded something in the microwave. What kind of idiot would do that?" Snorting under your breath, you pull yourself to your feet and walk towards the sink. "Ten bucks they were throwing random things into that oven and watched what was going to blow up."

Looking down at your hands, you can't help but wonder what could have been in it. It certainly made enough of a mess that you could feel it through your gloves. "Who knows. Idiots trusted with all sorts of things, but couldn't manage to tell the head of a horse from its ass." After scrubbing for a while longer, ridding yourself of the nasty feeling of gunk and grime, you look back to check the time. "Ten o'clock already? Sheesh, that must have taken me longer than I thought it would have."

Not even particularly enthused to be leaving, you take a few spare moments to organize the closet. Tossing the dirties in the pile for you to take home with you, you nearly shake your head at the amount that are there. "Might be needing to have a word with the weekend shift. They're using way too many for how much they have to clean."

Still, it takes you but a few minutes to finish that chore. Glancing around, you shrug your shoulders before clocking out once more. "Best to get going? Might swing by and get some groceries for the weekend. That way I don't have to leave until Monday again."

As you talk aloud, a random staffer walks by and shoots you an odd look. Shrugging back at him, you lock the door behind you and walk towards the exit. The bright sunlight stings your eyes for just a moment, but you manage to adjust to it without too much hassle.

It is with no small relief that you spot your truck resting safely where you left it. "Good? Would hate it if I had to get her fixed again? Poor girl." Patting the hood of the truck as you walk by, you climb into the cab and put it into reverse.

As you drive out, radio just as silent as it was when you left, you find yourself automatically following the route back to your home. A small frown crosses your face as you remember not to turn down the side street, instead staying on the main road as you head out of town. "I wonder? It is Friday, isn't it?" Pausing, a snort escapes your mouth. "Of course it is. Don't tell me that my memory's already going. I'm not that old."

Fortunately, there is no one inside the truck with you to answer your implied question. However, with the date in mind, you drive past the grocery store. "Might as well go and see what the Farmer's Market has for sale. Be better than what they have in the frozen aisles, at least."

It takes about fifteen minutes to get far enough out of town to see the market. Set up in an empty lot, a small carnival's worth of tents and popups covers the ground. Considering the few dozen cars that are lined up and the hundred or so people that are milling about the grounds, you picked the wrong time to come. "Can't be helped."

Driving over the curb and into a patch of grass that was mostly dead, you park the truck and get out. One hand automatically goes to your wallet, confirming that it is where you had placed it. "Knowing my luck, I'd go and leave it at work or something stupid like that." Chuckling, you walk over to the stalls and begin perusing the wares.

Granted, you cannot say that you are much of a plant-eater, given that most of your meals tend to be either nuked or bought, but you can appreciate something a little more down to Earth. That, and meat is expensive; vegetables, on the other hand, are cheaper. Although, the sweet corn's price makes you wince slightly. "Wasn't it half that price a few years ago?"

A young girl not more than sixteen years answers you. "Probably was cheaper, at the least. So much of it's being used as gasoline that it's more profitable to sell it to be refined. 'Swy meat's getting more expensive as well."

"I hear ya." Shrugging to yourself, you grab a few ears, placing them in front of the girl. "I'll go ahead and take these few. Be something different, at the least." Sighing, you reach back and pull out your wallet, extracting a bill the moment the billfold is in your hands.

"Alright, sir. You need to be having a sack as well? Doesn't look like you have one."

Nodding to her, you hand her your payment. "That'd be best. It's that, or take everything back to the truck once I buy it." The girl doesn't say anything, merely handing you the sack in which you place the corn.

After counting out the pile of ones you had handed her, you receive a couple of small coins as change. "There you go, sir. Forty-seven cents." The girl smiles at you, the expression not quite reaching her eyes. "Have a nice day."

"You as well, Miss." Shrugging it off, you turn to the side, spotting what appears to be jerky in another stall. Curious as to what that might be, you start to head over towards it before a woman's shout interrupts you. Glancing over at the source of the shout, you see a group of people gathered around one of the stalls. The yells are too incoherent for you to make much sense of, but you are able to hear something that involves the word potato.

Even as you try to make out what is inside, you cannot observe much. All you can see is the top of some odd looking hat that has fruit on it. "Probably just another nuttier trying to bargain them down to a lower price. At least they're making sure that all of the other stalls are easily reached." Considering that at least half of the people there had gathered around the bickering person, and that there were even more joining in.

[ ] Go and see what the ruckus is about. You can't help but be curious.
[ ] Don't bother, and get your business done while everyone else is gawking.
[x] Don't bother, and get your business done while everyone else is gawking.

Janitor, that's a new one.
I think he's tired of being dragged into someone else mess, so he knows when to keep himself away from trouble.
[x ] Don't bother, and get your business done while everyone else is gawking.

We should stay out of the way for now. Janitor man seems like that kind of guy.
[X] Go and see what the ruckus is about. You can't help but be curious.
Can't have a story without a proper start.
[x] Go and see what the ruckus is about. You can't help but be curious.

Either Tenshi or Minoriko, either one ought to be interesting.
[x] Go and see what the ruckus is about. You can't help but be curious.
[X] Go and see what the ruckus is about. You can't help but be curious.
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[-a-] Go and see what the ruckus is about. You can't help but be curious.


Sighing to yourself, you gather up your purchase and go over and see what the whole mess is about. While you don't particular have a reason to do as such, they are going to keep making a disturbance. So if you can't shop in peace, you might as well see the reason that you can't have some quiet.

It doesn't take long to reach the edge of the mess. While you may not be the tallest person in the crowd, it doesn't take much tiptoeing to see what is in the inside of the horde. "So, it is just some woman arguing with one of the vendors? Why am I not surprised? Probably tried to haggle too much of his asking price off?"

As you try to make out their words over the murmur of the crowd, you notice that she is rather odd, even by the lax standards that you've grown accustomed to. "Not many that bother wearing dresses like that, even if it has been growing cooler. Looks like something out of Williamsburg, almost?" Mentally, you make a note to visit the old town sometime, if you ever get the cash. "Has it been a decade already?"

Before you can continue down that train of thought, the woman in the odd dress begins to shout loud enough for you to make clear. "How can you call yourself a farmer if this is the type of crop that you pull out of the ground? I would call this pathetic, but that would be an insult to all things that are grown pathetically where I come from!"

To his credit, you notice that the presumed farmer merely rolls his eyes as he tries to keep his cool in front of the angry woman. "I'm sure that you would, Miss. But if you had anything of your own to sell, I'm sure that you would have brought a stall of your own?" Idly, he reaches forward in an effort to retrieve the potato that the woman had clenched in her hands.

Unfortunately, the woman did not seem eager to let up on her spiel. "Now listen here. Just because I'm caught up in a strange land doesn't mean that I can't argue about this. Look at this sweet potato!" Holding it up, she nearly shoves it in his face. "This is the completely wrong color! I don't know how in the world that you messed this up, but there must have been some curse upon your farm. You must have done something terrible to cause such a discoloration."

The farmer stares blankly at the potato before plucking it out of her hand. "'Sposed to look like that, Miss. Not sure what a sweet potato would look like sides from orange and brown, and none of these are rotten, so don't scare away any customers."

"Fat chance that'll happen?" Even as you mutter under your breath, you do notice that the crowd surrounding the stall is indeed thinning out. "At least everyone's getting on with their business. Just turns out that it's an angry woman who thinks that she knows better."

As it does thin out, you step forward, feeling the desire to get some potatoes of your own after hearing that argument. However, you give the woman another look as you pass by, causing your eyebrows to rise. Nothing looks quite right, especially considering that she has blonde hair, yet her face hardly looks like one who would typically have the ancestry to give that shade. What is even more surprising is the pair of red eyes that continue to glare at the farmer.

Fortunately, she does not notice your inspection; so intent she is on continuing the argument with the farmer. "Still, there must be something wrong. Potatoes are one of my specialties back home, so it isn't as if I know not how to grow them properly. I still believe your land must be cursed."

Again the farmer rolls his eyes, pointedly looking away from the girl. "So you say. I'll make sure to contact the exorcists soon enough. I'd hate to have a scarecrow start spinning around while vomiting in technicolor." You can't help but let out a small snort at the mental image. "That is if I bothered to use one."

"You mock my warnings? You probably deserved it. And peddling such groceries?" The woman throws up her hands, before fixing him with a glare once more. "I ought to teach you a lesson myself. However, I'm sure that whatever foul spirit that is plaguing you?"

"Miss." There was only so much of this you can take, especially as she was disturbing your otherwise pleasant trip here. Best to nip this problem in the bud. Placing your hand on her shoulder, you barely wince as she fixes you with that burning glare. "Please leave the man alone. I'm sure that, wherever you came from, you are certainly talented. However, I'd hazard a guess that this is not your home. Please do not berate someone who is only trying to do his job." After all, you can remember being on the receiving end of such a shouting match many times over.

The woman stares at you for a few moments, before crossing their arms and muttering under her breath. "?mans, always thinking that they know best nowadays. What happened to the time that my advice was actually respected??"

There are a few crass comments that cross your mind, but you manage to bite your tongue and turn back to the stall. After a few seconds of looking over the potatoes, which look just as you had expected them to, another voice chimes in. "Sister. Have you managed to calm down some? You were rather apoplectic when we first stumbled across here."

Your teeth clench in apprehension as you glance back to take in the new arrival. Fortunately, her young face holds no anger on it, only resignation. For a moment, you swear that her eyes are lined with wrinkles, but the crow's feet vanish after a moment of observation, leaving only the smooth skin behind.

If the first girl looks like some sort of odd reenactor, the second one is something else entirely. If you didn't know better, she had just emerged from the woods considering that she had a few leaves stuck in her hair. It takes quite a lot for you to keep from commenting on what she is wearing as well, writing it off as something a college student dreamed up. "?Maybe they're from a Renaissance Fair, or something. Would explain their getup."

Fortunately, the woman doesn't hear your mutterings, although the man across from you nods along to your words. The one in the hat turns to face the more youthful one, placing her hands on her hips as she speaks. "Shizuha, why is it just now that you finally show up? I would have appreciated if you had assisted me!"

"In doing what, sister? You know that we're not at home anymore. We have to keep a low profile?" Sighing, she gives the older woman a pitying look. "We don't want to be cause any trouble while we're here, do we?"

Grumbling, the woman slowly nods while folding her arms. "Still, it does not sit right with me. Why should I try and abdicate my duty when I am displaced from my home in the dead of the night?"

You try to shut the conversation out of the back of your mind, although you do wince at the thought of such a thing happening to you. It was hardly your business, though, and you could hardly interject yourself into it. Reaching forward, you pick up a few sweet potatoes and place them on the front of the stall. "Let me just get a few of these."

"What?" Behind you, the woman shouts once more, and you have to wince. "You are buying his stock? Unacceptable!" Stomping forward, she grabs your arm, nearly spinning you around. "Put those down! I will show you whose crops are the best, and I will have someone else that believes!"

The other girl issues a small sigh, before tapping on the woman's shoulder. "Sister, what did I just say about making trouble?"

"Nonsense! This will serve as part of the solution for our other problem, should he accept. So come along! I will prepare something suitable to prove the veracity of my words!" At that, the woman lets go of you and starts walking away, clearly expecting you to follow.

The other girl, apparently her sister from what you had heard, shakes her head. "Minoriko, what are you going to?" Sighing, she glances at you. "I'm sorry about that. My sister is quite willful when she feels that she has been slighted. I don't mean to cause any trouble, but would you acquiesce to her deal?"

Knowing that this would bring about a great deal of trouble either way you look at it, you rub the back of your head before sighing as she did. "What will that involve, aside from bringing complete strangers into my home in order for that other girl to soothe her pride?"

Unusually yellow eyes glance away as her brow knits. "We have nowhere to go as it is. We? We came here just recently, and where we were staying before has? Well, it can't quite be called closed down, but that is effectively what happened." Looking back at you, she tries to smile, although her heart isn't in it. "Would you take us in, if but for a few days?"

Narrowing your eyes at her, you glance away. They are an odd pair of girls to claim to be homeless. Their clothes were in much too good of a shape, and they wouldn't have those contacts that they were so obviously wearing if they were homeless. "Are you two runaways? It's either that or illegals, but you speak English well enough that I doubt it is the latter."

"So, that is the name of the language we are speaking?" Your eyebrows rise as you catch the words that are half-muttered under her breath. "Do not worry too much about it. It is hardly our native tongue? There must be someone who believed that was able to speak it at one point."

Grumbling slightly, you clench the sack in your hand. "Oh, bother. Now you're speaking oddly. I couldn't understand a thing you just said."

The corner of the girl's lip turns up. "I wasn't trying to make sense." The girl glances away. "It is not something that you decide with haste? and if we cause enough trouble, you may kick us out. We shan't complain. Just? Please do it for my sister."

"That other girl?" Glancing at her, you see that she has turned around and placed her hands on her hips once again. "Not exactly the best of personalities. If you were auditioning to be taken home, I believe you failed."

"That is because we weren't. And her name is Minoriko. Aki Minoriko." Bowing slightly, she continues. "And I am Shizuha, if you must know." Pausing for a second, you realize that is all that the girl is going to say as she waits for an answer.

[ ] ?Fine. You and Aki can come. Just don't get any funny ideas.
[ ] Sorry, Shizuha. I'm afraid I can't do that for you and Aki.
[ ] (Choose name for truck)
[x] Sorry, Shizuha. I'm afraid I can't do that for you and Aki.

Two votes, two foregone conclusions. Preemptive tide-piss.
[x] "Fine. You and Aki can come. Just don't get any funny ideas.

I'm guessing that if we don't vote for the Akis, we'll bump into other touhous until someone sticks to our janitor. I enjoy the pair greatly, so let's enjoy their company while we can.
[X] "Fine. You and Aki can come. Just don't get any funny ideas.
[X] "Fine. You and Aki can come. Just don't get any funny ideas.
[X] "Fine. You and Aki can come. Just don't get any funny ideas.
-[X] But you have to explain to me why you're in this city. You're obviously not locals.
So, no one noticed that the vote is two parts?
[X] "Fine. You and Aki can come. Just don't get any funny ideas.
[x] Spot
[x] "Fine. You and Aki can come. Just don't get any funny ideas.
[x] Lisa

Am I doing this right?
[x] "Fine. You and Aki can come. Just don't get any funny ideas.
[x] Ford
[x] "Fine. You and Aki can come. Just don't get any funny ideas.
[x] Lisa
[X] "Fine. You and Aki can come. Just don't get any funny ideas.

[X] Chupa
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[-b-] "Fine. You and Aki can come. Just don't get any funny ideas.
[-b-] Lisa


"?Fine." Shrugging your shoulders, you turn around and walk away from the stand, not waiting for her to catch up next to you. "You and Aki can come along. Not as if I've anything to do, or anyone in particular that I'll be hosting. Just don't get any funny ideas now."

The girl barely seems to take your action as a slightly, easily catching up and walking next to you. "Understandable. It is hard to take a complete stranger in, especially if you don't trust us." You feel eyes on the side of your head as you catch up to the older-looking woman. "Not that I'd expect that in a few days. I promise that nothing poor will occur from our presence."

"Promises are easily broken nowadays Miss. Bout the only one you can depend on is yourself. Even then?" Sighing, you quietly walk until you catch up to the other woman, who is tapping her foot while she waits.

Looking at her sister, Aki speaks aloud. "I was wondering if you were coming. Are you planning to decline my offer that I made for you?"

"I believe that he is merely unwary of taking in two people that he met mere minutes ago, sister. Even without the troubles that we face at home, it seems that those who live here are just as wary of strangers."

"With good reason. There are plenty of people that are wiling to take advantage of the gullible." Glancing from side to side, you reach into your pocket and take out the keys to your truck. "Which I hope that I am not. Although your story is odd, I doubt that you're trying to con me. You'd have practiced the story better and actually tried to look the part."

The woman looks at you in disbelief as her face colors again. "Why in the world do you think we're trying to do something like that? This is an honest offer that I am making, and to be so insulted?" She stops as you hold up a hand and slowly shake your head.

"And that is the other reason. You're much too agitated to be faking it. Bluster is easy to fake, but that much pride is not." A small grin crosses your face as the woman breathes heavily. "A little humility would go a long way, though."

Before she can go any farther, Shizuha cuts into the conversation. "Perhaps we should just get going before we draw any sort of crowd. I do not think you are the type to desire attention, am I correct?"

"Indeed, you are." Not looking back, you start walking the rest of the distance to the truck, waiting for the others to catch up once again. "I am merely offering my opinion, though. There aren't many people that appreciate blunt hubris."

Behind you, the woman's voices clearly echoes over your shoulder. "I cannot wait to show you the lies which you unknowingly breathe?" Any other flowery words quickly die on her breath, and the two quietly follow you.

Tossing the bag that you still have into the back of the truck, you unlock the door before pointing inside. "Go ahead and get in."

Both of them eye the truck rather curiously, and Shizuha immediately follows instructions and climbs in, sliding across into the middle. "Interesting wagon that you have. Seen a fair few since we've arrived, but haven't the chance to actually look inside one."

As you get in the driver's side, you hear the woman say something under her breath about coppers and contraptions, raising your interest. Once you have the door shut, you look over at the two and ask, "So, when did you run into the police? I don't recall any of their cars being anything special."

Both Shizuha and Aki look at you blankly for a second. "Police? I don't recall anyone going by such a title. Why do you bring this up?"

Glaring at them suspiciously, you stop your hand from retrieving the belt buckle. "You just mentioned something about coppers. Which means you're actively avoiding them, or you've had a run-in with them."

The woman looks over from the passenger seat and fixes you with a glare. "I was merely commenting to my sister how this appears to be one of the inventions of the kappa. They live around us back home, and are a rather? interesting group."

Shizuha shot her sister a look of her own before turning to you and elaborating. "They are a group of? Tinkerers, I might say? They love fiddling with various mechanical oddities? However, if they built something like this, it would probably be a lot more haphazard." The woman snorts before turning away from her sister, muttering once more under her breath.

"If you say so." Another odd story, but it doesn't seem that farfetched that a bunch of people like that would give themselves an odd name. "Isn't kappa one of the Greek letters? Maybe it's some odd fraternity, or something?" Shizuha gives you an odd look as you start up the truck, the roar causing both to jump slightly in their seats. "What? Never heard an engine up close?"

"?Just didn't expect it to be so loud. That is all." Yet another odd answer. At this rate, you're going to have to start keeping a list in order to try and figure out what they're not telling you. "Well, are we not going? Or do we have to wait for the machine to warm up?"

"?No. I'm just wondering why you haven't put your seatbelts on?" At the odd look that both of them shoot you, you let out a long sigh. "That's right; you say you've never been in a vehicle before. Of course you don't know how to put a seatbelt on." Pulling yours over your shoulder, you quickly plug it into the buckle by your side. "Just do that. I don't want to get pulled over because one of you two aren't buckled."

The two immediately do as such, even though it takes them a few moments to figure out what to place where. At least Shizuha was able to see what it was that you had done, finishing more quickly and helping her sister put hers together. Once you hear the click you waste no more time, putting the truck into drive and pulling off and onto the road.

The other two handle the jostling as you bounce off the curve and onto the pavement rather poorly, grabbing onto each other in order to keep their heads from slamming into the back of the seat. You muffle a chuckle at their reaction as you start heading back down the road. "Blast this infernal machine?"

Glancing over at Aki, you cluck your tongue before correcting her. "She has a name, and the ride won't be that bad. It's just what we had to do to get off the curb."

"?And what, pray tell, would be that name? That seems to be an odd thing to insist upon, considering that you have not provided your own."

"Her name is Lisa." Pausing to see if they react, you continue once they do not. "She's my girl. I hate it when she doesn't get taken care of? As for my own name, I'm going to hold off on that. If you do prove to be trouble, I'd rather not have it associated."

The younger-looking girl levels her eyes at her, shooting you a sympathetic look. "Paranoid a bit? Or is it from personal experience?"

"The former, mostly. However, as you said, it is hard to trust people nowadays. Especially complete strangers." At that, you offer no more as the truck roars towards your home. Considering that you have a few minutes until reaching it and that the awkward silence is growing louder by the second, you try to think of something to ask them.

Writing off any direct questions about where they previously lived, you instead ask, "So, how is it that you farm if you don't use a tractor, Aki? If you are so unused to engines, I can't imagine you using farm equipment."

Puffing out her chest, she shoots you a smug look over the top of her sister. "I need not any particular contraption. I do all the work with my own hands and the? the sweat from my brow." Pointing at her feet, which you cannot see from here, she continues. "That is why I walk barefoot. How else to test the soil but to feel it with my own two feet?"

"If you say as much. Still, if that is true?" Maybe that explains why they don't know much at all. Perhaps the two are subsistence farmers that live far away from civilization? That, or they are an odd group of Amish folk that you've never heard of.

"Wait a moment. Why are you addressing me by my surname? You are using Shizuha's given name when speaking to her?" Well if there's any tone of voice that you do know, it is that particular one. You don't even have to look at her to know that her eyes would have turned green if she wasn't using contacts.

Still, you can't help but wonder why she is giving you much trouble over such things. "Isn't your name Aki Minoriko? That is what Shizuha told me."

"Indeed it is. But you addressed me by my surname, not my given name?"

"?So your last name came first? That is? Well, you're definitely not from around here." That narrows things down considerably, as it's not from this continent. However, you don't get much of a chance as you finally pull into the lot, a small smile of relief coming over your face.

Shizuha seemed resigned to the conversation, her hand upon her brow as a pained look flickers over her face. "Well, we don't know where here is, so I suppose that we can admit that is true enough."

"Well, the name of the city is Colombia. So you'll at least know that much." Getting out, you quickly usher them inside, not wanting anybody that might be here at this time of day to get any funny ideas. "


The two do glance around oddly for a few minutes once entering your apartment, taking it in. Granted, you can't say that it is very attractive of a place, considering that it is mostly barren. You've never planned for company, so you've not gone to much trouble to decorate it.

Fortunately, you've kept it decent enough that you don't blush in shame when they enter. Even though you expected the woman to say something derisive about how simple the place is, she instead does nothing. Instead, she merely looks around curiously before turning to you. "Here. Hand me the stuff, and I'll prepare something."

"If you continue to insist?" Shrugging, you give up the sack as she walks away, head high in the air as she does so. "How did you know where the kitchen was in the first place?"

Shizuha just smiles as she steps away, looking curiously at various articles lying about the apartment. "I believe that you might say that she has a knack for these things. Although, consider that your? table is over there? It seems to be similar to what some of our neighbors use." Glancing at the ancient television that is the centerpiece of your sparse living room, she asks, "I don't suppose you'd mind if I spend some time outside? It is a lovely time of year, after all. And I enjoy watching the leaves fall."

"There aren't exactly many left? But if you say so." Pointing over towards a far door, you answer. "It's fine if you do. The porch is over there if you want to stay somewhere screened in. I don't use it very much, so it's probably got a fair bit of mess and cobwebs out there?"

"Do not worry. I am quite used to the outdoors. A little bit of uninvited nature is no concern to me." Nodding to you, she glides over to the door, quickly slipping out and shutting it behind her.

Standing there, you hardly know what to do. There are two strangers in your home, and you've barely any knowledge about them aside from their names. At the very least, they don't seem to want and try and steal anything. Even then, you feel like you need to keep an eye on at least one of them?

[ ] Go talk to Shizuha. She seems more pleasant by far, and perhaps willing to share something more.
[ ] Assist Minoriko. It is your house, and you don't know how familiar she'd be with the kitchen.
[ ] Just kill some time. If they wanted your company, they'd have said such a thing.


Yes, we'll need a name soon, so if you want to argue over that, go ahead. I'll make a note when it is required, though.
[ X] Go talk to Shizuha. She seems more pleasant by far, and perhaps willing to share something more.

We might learn more of what exactly is going on this way.
[X] Assist Minoriko. It is your house, and you don't know how familiar she'd be with the kitchen.

Really like this story so far. To my knowledge, The Aki sisters are uncharted waters as far as characterization is concerned, but what you have done so far is promising.
[X] Assist Minoriko. It is your house, and you don't know how familiar she'd be with the kitchen.
Gotta break through that cold exterior is an autumn goddess, after all.
[X] Assist Minoriko. It is your house, and you don't know how familiar she'd be with the kitchen.
[X] Assist Minoriko. It is your house, and you don't know how familiar she'd be with the kitchen.
[X] Go talk to Shizuha. She seems more pleasant by far, and perhaps willing to share something more.
She's a tsundere, minus the 'dere'

[X] Go talk to Shizuha. She seems more pleasant by far, and perhaps willing to share something more
[ ] Assist Minoriko. It is your house, and you don't know how familiar she'd be with the kitchen.

Seems about right.
[x] Go talk to Shizuha.

She's the best of the two sisters, so why not?
[X] Assist Minoriko. It is your house, and you don't know how familiar she'd be with the kitchen.

Just to make sure she knows how to use it and to avoid any messes. That and she could use some work getting over her pride.

Too soon to pick a favorite.
[X] Assist Minoriko. It is your house, and you don't know how familiar she'd be with the kitchen.

Somehow, I don't trust a goddess from a technologically stagnated pocket of unreality to have any experience with the workings of a modern stove.
Very well, Minoriko it is. Writing should start somewhat soon.

Just a fair warning to some: Be a little less simplistic in your motives. I'd hate for you to be led about by the nose. At least you can't die in the prologue.
Was that towards the waifufags? That and making rather simple choices have complicated results isn't the best idea.
Except that isn't what he said
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[-c-] Assist Minoriko. It is your house, and you don't know how familiar she'd be with the kitchen.


Best to check up on the one who currently has the greatest chance of burning your house down. As backwards as these two seem to be, even by your standards, you worry at the thought of whether they know how to work the range on a stove. "Don't want them building a fire on top of it either, although I suppose they cannot be that crude?"

Turning into the kitchen, you are slightly amused at the sight before you. Having tossed the bags on a nearby counter, Minoriko is now staring curiously at the microwave oven, trying to discern its purpose just by staring at it. After a few seconds of her pushing random buttons and causing it to beep, you clear your throat. "That's a microwave right there. Never seen one of those before, have you?"

The girl nearly jumps in place before turning to face you. "Oh, you again. What in the world is wrong with this kitchen? How do you even have the space to prepare food, much less anything else? Not to mention these odd cabinets?" Pulling on the door of the microwave, she looks inside before taking out a plate. "This seems much too complicated of a device to store a singular plate."

You can't help but to chuckle a bit as you pluck the plate from her grasp and set it back down inside. "That is because it is not for storage. It's designed to heat food. Or rather, to reheat food."

"?I suppose that might be useful, depending on whether or not that there are plenty of leftovers to consume." Poking it once more, she slams shut the door to yet another beep. "After all, it is quite difficult to reliably reheat food and have it be warm throughout with but a fire."

Oddly confused by the girl's somewhat agreeable tone, you can't help but shrug in response. "It's hardly perfect. And some food doesn't reheat well. Something supposed to be crisp often ends up quite limp. Not that I care too much; food is food."

"Incorrect!" Shoving a finger at your face, her red eyes burn brightly. "It all depends on the quality of goods, how it is prepared, what type of material you use to fuel the fire, the metal of the pot?" For a moment she appears willing to continue on her rant, but she manages to calm herself down. "Not that I can call myself an expert at cooking. However, with years of experience?" Shaking her head, she looks about the kitchen. "So, where is the stove?"

"Right behind you." At least she didn't assume that the dishwasher was the stove itself. The woman turns about and curiously begins to examine the stove, apparently not recognizing it at all.

"Very curious? Definitely something that Kawashiro and her kin?" You try and listen closer to her words to get some hint of what she is speaking of, but she spends the rest of her brief examination in silence. Not too long passes until she is done. "Very well, stranger. Where do you keep your wood, so that I may fire this up?"

It takes you for a few moments to realize what she speaks of. "Minoriko, this stove does not use wood."

"Charcoal, then? Interesting choice. Should burn better than wood, at least." Pushing you to the side, and slamming you into the counter with exceptional strength in the process, she makes her way to the pantry and opens it up, looking within. "?None in here. Just a bunch of tin cans?" Taking a few out at random and examining them, she nods approval before sticking them back inside. "Well? I will require fuel if I am to cook anything."

Sighing, you lean up from the counter and rub your back. "?Damn. I was trying to say that it doesn't use a kind of fuel. It uses electricity." At her look, you sigh. "There are no open flames."

"Then how can you cook with it?" Rolling her eyes, she marches back over to the stove, observing it carefully. "?So, how does one work it, then? Or does this take some mechanical magic that you are only capable of?"

"Stop with the dramatics, Minoriko. It's easier than you make it out to be." Reaching over her and turning the dial, you explain. "Turn the dial for the burner you want. The higher the number, the hotter it is." Leaving it on, you point at the stove. "It's the same for there. Turn it to the temperature you want it to be at and wait for it to heat up."

"But how does that make it hotter?" You almost answer, before she waves you off. "Bah. It must be like something that those new g- people brought in. Trying to change our entire home and revolutionize it? Always stirring up all sorts of trouble." Heaving her shoulders, she mutters under her breath too quietly for you to hear.

Whatever is bothering her is cast aside in a few seconds before she fixes you with a glare. "Anything else that I need to know of them? Such information would have been pertinent beforehand."

Rolling your eyes, you point at the fridge. "That is where cold stuff is kept. I hope that you are at least familiar with the principle of an icebox?"

"Indeed I am. However, I imagine that you're about to tell me that you do not use ice to keep stuff cold as well." You take a moment to stare at her at the rather blunt statement. "I may not be very knowledgeable about all this, but I am hardly stupid. If you do not use a fuel to warm things up, why would you use something similar to keep things cool?"

"Not all bluster, then?" You clear your throat in order to speak at full volume. "But yes, that's the general idea. The only other thing that you need to be aware of besides that is that the toaster oven is used in a similar fashion, but on a smaller and less thorough scale." Pointing at it, you wait for her to nod. "Oh, and the sink is behind me."

At that, the girl idly nods before opening the refrigerator. "?Letty would like this, I do believe." Not even shivering at the chill, she begins to dig through the stuff inside. "?Such an odd language; rules are so different?"

Again, the questions come to your mind about where they are from. With every other word that you hear, you garner yet more questions instead of answers. Stepping forward, you ask, "Minoriko, what do you?"

"Out." Blinking idly, you try to speak over her, but her sharp words cut your own to pieces. "I need my space if I am to cook. Especially as I know not how anything might turn out, since this kitchen is hardly well stocked by my standards. If I wish to prepare something acceptable, I want to ensure that it meets my standards. So out."

Clearing your throat, you try to put your foot down. "I don't know who do you think you are, but this is my home. So if I want to?"

"And if I am cooking, this is my kitchen. So out!" Brandishing one of the pieces of corn, she pokes you in the chest. "A deal is a deal, yes? You will leave me alone so that I may fulfill my end of the bargain."

At risk of being speared by a yellow grain, you finally relent. "Fine? But if there is any trouble, I am going to have to have words with you." Any glare that you send her way is ignored, though, as Minoriko has begun to rifle through the cabinetry once more.

Shaking your head in derision, you just leave the proud woman to her work. "No arguing with her?" At least she is too busy to bother retorting once you turn back into the living room. That, or she is simply hard of hearing.

Heading to your bedroom, you close and lock the door before grabbing a change of clothes. You might have to head back to work in a few hours, but at the very least you can bother to take a quick shower and rinse off. Now that you're not being bothered by either of the girls, you can tell that you smell quite noticeably. "?They didn't seem to notice. For that matter, when was the last time they bathed?"

It's no matter to you. If they want one, they can ask or figure it out on their own. Grabbing some clothes from your drawer, you head in to take a shower. "They certainly look like they are clean. So many questions?"


The hours pass quickly, and you find yourself staring at the clock. Having settled for making a sandwich in the quick thirty seconds that Minoriko allowed you inside, you made best use of the hours you did have.

Now, though, the hands approach five thirty in the afternoon. Shutting the book and removing a pair of reading glasses, you hurry both away to a small bookshelf in your room before taking another good look at the clock. "?Don't have much time left. Should I bother to trust those two here?"

Granted, neither has left either the kitchen or the small cubby you call a porch, but that could just mean that they are well disciplined and patient. Not that either of them seem to have the temperament of thieves. Again, though, you can't be sure?

[ ] Go in anyways. There will be a time when you cannot keep tabs on them sooner or later.
[ ] Go in, but come back as quickly as possible. If they do something, you can catch them in the act.
[ ] Take them with you. Even if it's technically trespassing?
[ ] Call in and ask off for the night. Though, you do need the overtime.
[ ] Just don't bother going in. The weekend crew can deal with the real messes for once.


That one was, yes. I just would point out that thinking with the wrong head might lead to trouble. Most of it will come later, though. Rule of thumb is never to assume.

There is a route, so don't take me wrong there. I just have to remember that this isn't /forest/.
[x] Go in anyways. There will be a time when you cannot keep tabs on them sooner or later.
-[x] Inform Shizuha and Minoriko that you're leaving.

Second bit included just to make sure they don't wonder where we are.
[x] Go in anyways. There will be a time when you cannot keep tabs on them sooner or later.
-[x] Inform Shizuha and Minoriko that you're leaving.

We've got a job.
[x] Go in anyways. There will be a time when you cannot keep tabs on them sooner or later.
-[x] Inform Shizuha and Minoriko that you're leaving.

What story in /forest/ are you referencing to? It sounds like you wrote something there.

No Such Things as Fairytales. It's nearing the end, so I decided to go ahead and start this one.
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[-d-] Go in anyways. There will be a time when you cannot keep tabs on them sooner or later.
-[-d-] Inform Shizuha and Minoriko that you're leaving.


No matter. It doesn't matter whether or not you leave now or leave later. You're going to have to leave the two girls be sooner or later. Even if you just go to sleep for a night, you will leave them alone to do whatever you want. As much as you'd like to deny such a thing, it behooves you to give them a little trust. They have been mysterious, but they haven't even shown a hint of avarice.

However, you do need to inform them that you are going. There is little to be gained from leaving them in the dark. If they are as honest as you hope they are, they might be offended if you were to suddenly disappear.

The thought of Minoriko finally fixing something when you are not there sends chills through your mind. That is hardly a woman you would want to anger.

With trepidation weighing heavily upon your heart, you seek out the woman that has overtaken your kitchen. Peeking your head into the kitchen, you clear your throat to get her attention. "I am going to head on out to work. I'll be back in a few hours, so if anything?"

The woman merely cuts an eye towards you. "Nothing will happen. I have become acquainted with your cooking instruments. "Not quite as crude as I am used to, although this is a strange material most of the implements are composed of."

"That's probably because they're plastic." Shrugging off her odd look, you turn away. "Just be careful with it. Plastic can melt if you're not careful. Don't let it get too close to the burners."

"Are you saying that I plan to burn the food? I'll have you know?"

You shoot her a look, trying to cut off her spiel. "No, I do not. Just? Never mind. It's just what you call the places where you place the pans on top." Rolling your eyes at her, you turn your back to peek your head into the porch.

Shizuha barely even turns her head, which seems to still be adorned by that one odd leaf. "I heard what you said to Minoriko. I will see you in a little while." Turning her head to glance at you, she gives you a wan smile. "Too bad that you did not join me to watch the leaves, at least for a little bit."

Having not much to say, you offer her a weak reply. "Perhaps tomorrow, then. I've never much to do on the weekends." The idea isn't that appealing, but you haven't had the chance to enjoy her company for long. Perhaps one of the sisters might not be a pain to be around.

Even then, she just looks away from you, glancing back at the darkening sky. "Perhaps so. But the transient things such as this always meet their end before you expect them to."

"?Right." Perhaps she has some greater attachment to the viewing than you might expect. It isn't your place to question it, though. Instead, you just nod to her and head out the door.

Making sure that it is locked behind you, you turn your back and head towards the parking lot after giving your home one last lingering look. "Better not be any trouble, or I will eat my shoes. At least I will, after hunting down those two?" Climbing into your truck, you pat her dashboard while cranking her up. "Well, let's get going, Lisa. Hopefully we'll get back and see whether or not these two have made a fool out of me.


One nice thing about the evening shift is that you were less likely to run across people as you worked. There were still a few people that bark orders at you to be quiet when you vacuum the offices near them, but you know that their numbers are only going to decrease.

At least that would normally be the case. However, instead your thoughts keep drifting back to the two that are occupying your home. "They better not be doing anything crazy back there? Knowing my luck, they are probably lifting half of my valuables as I speak." Pausing for a moment as you finish vacuuming up another mess, you glance at the ceiling. "Really, why did I let them in? Did I feel sorry for the two? Or was it just the right thing to do?"

Snorting under your breath, you resume your work. "No telling. Right thing is hard to do when others don't follow it as well. Still doesn't explain? Who knows." Sighing, you eventually finish up all the carpet. Barely an hour in, you roll the vacuum back and grab a mop to start cleaning.

Before you can get started, though, a familiar face interrupts you. "Ah, there you are son. I was looking for you earlier. What are you up to?"

Taking the wooden handle in hand, you lean against it while replying. "Just starting out. Went ahead and vacuumed since you brought it up earlier. Otherwise, there isn't too much of a mess tonight, fortunately. I'll punch out when it's all done."

The older man glances away for a second, not quite meeting your eyes. "Well, why don't you head out now? There's no reason for you to stay on, especially after the extra hours you had to spend earlier."

A thought crosses your mind as you watch the man carefully. "There's no need for that. I'm doing perfectly fine as is. And a little extra to go in my pocket hardly sits poorly with me."

Again, he averts his eyes, causing you to frown. "Which is the problem that management is facing. Have to cut costs somewhere? Which means we have to eliminate anything costs too much." Sighing, he finally meets your eyes. "Paying overtime is one of those things."

Your knuckles bulge as you grip the mop handle tightly. After a few seconds, you exhale; pointedly doing everything you can to stay calm. "So, can't afford to have the janitor to do his job, even when your new interns are giving me more work?"

Once more he glances away from you. "It was not up to me. But some feel that we can do just as well by hiring someone else and having two short shifts." After a few moments, he sighs. "You are not getting fired, but you'll essentially be relegated to part time hours. I'm afraid that's as good as I could do, as most wanted to just eliminate you and hire others."

You don't say anything as you stare at the wall. "I don't doubt that." Continuing your thorough inspection of the paint, dry and chipping in places, you grab the mop and push it back in. "Well, I suppose I don't have much say in this, either way. I'd be easy enough to replace, after all."

"It's the best that I could do. The company isn't in the best of states in the first place?" He places a hand on your shoulder, causing you to freeze in place. "You know that I would have done anything if I could."

You don't say anything, and he eventually removes the hand, allowing you to replace all of the tools. "Perhaps so, Mr. Blevins. Let me not hold you up. I'll be leaving shortly." Punching the time on your card once again, you move over to collect any rags and toss them into a trash bag. "I'll just take these on home to wash. Does the management plan to hire an outside company soon?"

"?That would not be out of the realm of possibility." The older man shrugs his shoulders, before beating a retreat. "Take care, son. They are only trying to do what's best."

"Aren't we all? Good night, sir." At that, you toss the trash bag over your shoulder and march towards the exit, trying to not let out the curses that so tempted you all the while.


The trip back to your home took much less time than you would normally have spent, although that might have been because your bottled-up emotions were taking everything out on the accelerator. Once you pull in, you pound a hand on the steering wheel. "Sorry girl. Just? Frustrated. Hard enough to find a job nowadays. To lose even half of it due to cutting costs?" Grumbling under your breath, you eventually slide out and head to the door once you grab the sack.

Just by passing by the window you notice that there is plenty of movement inside your apartment. At least there is one weight off your chest. "Granted, they could have let more people in and they merely are taking their time in ransacking? But I'm just being pessimistic at this point." At least if you are, you'll never be disappointed.

Once you get to the door, you take a deep breath and turn the lock over, letting yourself into your abode. Immediately you see Shizuha, standing in the middle of the room, curiously looking about whatever it is that draws her attention. Her hands remained placed behind her, not touching anything that she is looking at. Taking a quick glance at her body, you see that she has nothing in any hidden pockets that the dress of hers may have.

After closing the door behind you, you finally hear the clatter of a pan on the stove and the hiss of something cooking. At the same time, you swear you hear a soft humming coming from the kitchen. Stepping in, you dump the bag of rags to the side, causing Shizuha to look up. "Oh, hello there. You are back earlier than I had expected."

"That I am?" Well, at least the girls are minding their own business. That is one weight off of your shoulders? Glancing at the bag in your hands, you drop it to the side before heading over to wash your hands. The last thing you want to do tonight is something related to work.

[ ] Go see what Shizuha was looking at. Probably has never seen half of the stuff in this room.
[ ] Check on Minoriko. You don't smell smoke, so there shouldn't be any problems.
[x] Go see what Shizuha was looking at. Probably has never seen half of the stuff in this room.

Let's trust her cooking skills.
[X] Go see what Shizuha was looking at. Probably has never seen half of the stuff in this room.

Let's give Minoriko some space with her cooking.
[x] Go see what Shizuha was looking at. Probably has never seen half of the stuff in this room.

Never interfere with overzealous cooks.
[X] Go see what Shizuha was looking at. Probably has never seen half of the stuff in this room.
[x] Go see what Shizuha was looking at. Probably has never seen half of the stuff in this room.

Yeah, let's just leave Minoriko alone for now.
[x] Go see what Shizuha was looking at. Probably has never seen half of the stuff in this room.

My reasons are:
-spending some time with Shizuha
-It'd be more relaxing than worrying about Minoriko
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[-e-] Go see what Shizuha was looking at. Probably has never seen half of the stuff in this room.


Entering once more into the room, you cast a glance at the kitchen before shaking your head. The last thing you want is the ire of that woman brought down upon you. Instead, you decide to sate the curiosity of other girl. "What are you looking at there, Shizuha?"

Turning back to face you, a small blush comes across the girl's face. "Nothing too much. You have many strange pieces of furniture in here? Although, I imagine if you were to come into our home, you would think it strange as well." Coughing slightly, she pokes a plastic brick on the table to the side of your couch. "But many of these things are rather strange. Are the trinkets for decoration, or do they serve some purpose?"

You can barely keep a smile off of your face as you walk forward and pluck the brick from the table, yanking a cord from the side in the process. "It has a function, alright. It's a phone." Flipping it open, you note that you have a missed call from family. Frowning, you make a mental note to call them back later. "You use it to talk to people from far away? To put it simply, at least."

Curiously enough, recognition shone in her eyes the moment you mentioned the brick's name. "Oh, I do believe I know what it is. Not that I've ever used one myself? But the kappa have mentioned something along those regards?" Sidling up next to you, she looks at the screen. "Although, I thought they were supposed to be bigger? and have multiple parts."

"You must be thinking of an antique of some type." Again, something curious. Unfamiliar with vehicles, and yet she recognizes what a phone is supposed to be? "Phones like that are still around, but they are pretty rare nowadays. Most people use cellular phones when they have a chance." Flipping the top down, you place the brick in your pocket. "And even more have smart phones. Those are more like handheld computers than anything, though."

Shizuha stares at your pocket for a second before a giggle passes her lips. "So, would that mean you have a dumb phone instead?"

"Pretty much. I like my brick, though. Less likely to break? 'Sides, you have a computer if you need to get online, and a phone to call people. Don't see why you need one in the same?" Chuckling, you can't help but grin slightly. "Perhaps I'm a bit old fashioned that way."

"Then what does that make the rest of us, then?" Well, that's a question you don't want to answer. Even you know that you should try not to imply a girl is old, no matter what the case may be. Fortunately, Shizuha turns back towards the television, dropping the question. "I wonder what this is for. Is it some storage container for a pet of some type? It would explain the glass in front."

"Not in the slightest." The girl merely glances back at you as you kneel down in front of the television, pressing the button to turn it on. "Although, I don't doubt that mine could be adapted for an aquarium. These, though, are supposed to be used for entertainment. You watch shows on them." Pausing, you think of how best to explain them to her.

Again, she does have some semblance of recognition. "So, it's somewhat like the puppet shows that the puppeteer used to put on?" She stares as a picture slowly grows on the old tube, before stroking her chin. "But with live people. There hasn't been a theater show in dec? a long time back at home. None that I can remember at least." Pausing, she glances down. "Although, at times it's easy to forget, what with being forgotten?"

Turning towards her, you forget the topic at hand for a moment. "What do you mean by that, Shizuha?"

"Nothing at much. Just that my sister and I are not quite as? involved as some others among our home. We don't mind company in particular, but visitors are few and far between at best."

A pang of sympathy burns in your chest before you glance away yourself. "I can imagine how you feel. "Although, if Minoriko is always like that?"

Shizuha just shakes her head. "My little sister isn't always like that. She's? She's determined to prove herself, at times. She still has her pride."

"Quite a lot of it." After processing her words, you pause, glancing at her. "Wait a moment. You're the older of the two? You looked younger than her."

"Better not let her hear you say that." A tight smile crosses the girl's face. "And that is how many might perceive us. She is the one with most of the drive. Not to mention that she looks older than I." The grin becomes slightly teasing as she looks at you. "I hope you didn't use anything else to compare the two of us."

Whatever she is implying has been the last thing that was on your mind. "Hardly. I've had plenty of other things to worry about besides such things."

"I didn't think that you would, anyways. You don't seem to be the type." Sighing, she turns back towards the television. "It's a pity that we don't have things like this much at all. One can only listen to the Prismrivers play so many times?"

Any further questions are halted by a voice coming from the kitchen. "Ahem. Are you two done with your chatting? The food is done, so unless you intend to stand there all night?"

Glancing at Minoriko, you simply shrug your shoulders. "Perhaps I will. You burn your food faster if you're standing, if only by a bit."

The girl simply rolls her eyes and walks back towards the kitchen. For her part, Shizuha simply smiles before gliding over. "Best not keep her waiting while she's in a decent mood, right?"

"Right." Heading towards the kitchen, you glance back inside of it in order to see what she had prepared. Granted, all you can see is the girl knocking a few clumps onto a plate before setting the frying pan back down on one of the burners.

Minoriko has a small smile on her face as she picks up the plate, placing it on the center of the table. However, any good humor disappears as she glances at you. "You know where your own plates are, I do imagine. Unless you need me to fetch them for you?"

Snorting, you walk over and grab a few of them, fetching some utensils at the same time. "Best that I get a few spare. As you have not deigned to tell me what it is that I will be consuming?"

"Just something I whipped up really quickly. Nothing fancy, as I still don't trust that dratted stove of yours." Raising up her left arm, you wince at a few lines that cross the top of it. "One of the burners was left on and I accidentally placed my arm on it. You can see the result."

You wince as you set everything down. "Are you sure that you're alright? Did you at least put some ice on it?"

She just shakes her head before taking a seat, awkward setting herself so that she was leaning forward from the straight back of the chair. "I am quite fine. I am made of sterner stuff than you think otherwise. A small burn like that is quite? normal, considering what else goes on at home."

Taking a short look at Shizuha, you note that she isn't showing much alarm either. Unable to help yourself, you shoot the ornery girl a smirk. "So, are you normally that clumsy? Your sister doesn't seem to be very disturbed by the happenings."

Minoriko shoots Shizuha a look, almost opening her mouth to say something. After a moment, though, she reigns in her emotions and shuts it immediately thereafter. "Never mind. So, are we going to fulfill the bargain, or are you going to dither along?"

"I suppose I will do that, then?" At her direction, you lift a fork up and spear one of the objects. "Although, does this have a name?"

"They're potatoes. Simple enough so that even an odd stove from the outside couldn't screw it up."

Pausing, you look down at the object on the end of your fork, twisting it back and forth. "Perhaps so? But last I checked, I didn't have any potatoes."

Minoriko returns your earlier smirk with her own self-satisfied one. "You didn't. But they are my specialty, remember. I always have a few tricks up my sleeves."

"One of which must be pulling potatoes out of them." Sighing, you take another look. No matter what, there is something that seems off about them. Especially in the way that the skin is purple. There's no way that such a thing could be natural, as far as you know. Looking up at her, part of you wants to ask if she poisoned the potatoes.

Considering how much time they've had, during which they could have easily taken advantage of you, there is only one thing for you to do. Gripping the fork, you place the potato in your mouth, and start chewing.

As you take in the rather odd taste, you feel eyes boring down on you. A quickly glance shows Minoriko staring you down intensely. "So does it meet satisfaction?"

You ignore her for a few seconds as you judge it. Needless to say, you've never tasted something that is quite like this. It's too sweet to be even a normal sweet potato, but it doesn't taste like she put brown sugar or honey inside of it. Other than the taste, though, it seems to be just the same as any other roast potato. There's not a lot that you can say.

Swallowing, you look back at her. "It taste fine. "Odd, but I imagine this isn't something run of the mill."

"Of course not. But I suppose after those nasty things that you call potatoes that the man earlier was trying to force upon you, I expected you might be familiar with them." A grin does cross her face as she continues to look at you. "So, is it good enough for you to uphold the other part of the bargain?"

This time, you know that you are being stared at. Even the rather amicable sister is watching you as intently as the first. In any other situation, you might be flattered. Now, though, you are just tired and hungry. "Yes, it is enough. You can stay, at least for a little while."

A victorious grin comes over the girl's face. "Good, good? It's good to feel appreciated, if even a bit." Plucking one other piece from the plate, she leans back in the chair and begins to eat herself. "Might as well go ahead then. A little celebration of our new homecoming."

"Sister, they are just potatoes. Wouldn't a feast require more?" It seems like Shizuha cannot help but to rib her sister some more. "At the very least, some wine would be nice."

You shake your head at the very thought. "No. I don't drink. Even that."

The two of them share a grin, and you can finally see the resemblance that had been otherwise elusive. "He wouldn't survive very long where we come from, would he?"

The other simply nodded along. Tossing their conversation aside, you finish eating as quickly as you can, before ushering yourself into the room to change for the night. If you have the two of them over, you're going to have to give up your bed, at least for a while. It's bigger than the couch is, at least.

You never do have the chance to see them off for the night, though. The moment you sit down on the couch, your eyelids grow heavy. With an old blanket wrapped around you, you quickly fall into a dreamless sleep. Finally, you are free of worries for at least one more night.


The bliss of sleep does not last long as you wake up on Saturday morning. Even without the alarm clock blaring in your ear you wake up at the crack of dawn. It takes a few moments for you to realize why exactly you are on the couch, but it eventually comes back to you.

"Right? They're here." At least neither of the girls could hear you speaking. Just as good, as you did not want to open your eyes to look at anything yet. "So, that all did happen? Woulda been too easy to have been a dream, wouldn't it?"

Lying there on the couch, you just think about everything that has happened, attempting to keep up all appearances of being dead to the world. You remain that way for quite a while, until the sun begins to shine through the window and onto your face.

Eventually it is too much for you to bear, and you sit up, slowly cracking your eyes and looking about. Nothing is out of place, not that your addled mind can tell very much. You sit there for a few minutes as you chase away the few dust bunnies that are clogging your mind before standing, looking about.

The door to your room is open, but you are not prepared to go in there yet. Best to wait until you know both are dressed, as running into them naked would probably not be the best of occurrences. Especially if it was Minoriko. "?I still hear something, though? So who is it that is up?"

Listening intently, a small scratching sound becomes apparent, and you begin to look around the apartment. "?Not in the kitchen. And haven't tried to do anything in the washing room. The shower isn't running, so they're not in there. Either there's something going on in the bedroom?" You highly doubt that, though, as the sound is coming not from the bedroom, but from the porch.

Poking your head onto the porch, you resist the urge to curse under your breath. There outside, past the screen that surrounds said porch, is Minoriko. A great deal of dirt at her feet has been turned up, and you can just tell that there are seeds perched on the top of each row. "Don't tell me?"

However, this early in the morning, you hardly are able to summing the energy to care. If it keeps the girl satisfied, you are tempted to leave her to her work. Less stuff to bother you with.

[ ] Get on Minoriko's case. She shouldn't be doing this.
[ ] Ignore it. If she's happy, she's happy. And not being smug at you.
-[ ] (Do what instead?)
[x] Ignore it. If she's happy, she's happy. And not being smug at you.
-[x] See about cleaning up, possibly informing Shizuha (if she's up) about it so no misunderstandings happen.

Nice Shizuha is nice.
Forgot one thing that needs to be added to the vote.

[ ] Choose name.

It won't be for a few updates until this matters, and I'll say when. Just thought I'd get the ball rolling officially.
[ ] Ignore it. If she's happy, she's happy. And not being smug at you.
[ ] Choose name

Let's see where this goes.
[X] Ignore it. If she's happy, she's happy. And not being smug at you.

[X] Name. Choose Name.
[X] Ignore it. If she's happy, she's happy. And not being smug at you.

Works for me~!
[x] Ignore it. If she's happy, she's happy. And not being smug at you.
-[x] Do you need to get ready for work or something?

Name for? Person, pet, or object? there's a difference here.
[x] Carl.
Sorry. Meant for the anon, as we'll need it soon.

...as for you, >>48070, I think I'll veto that. As amusing as it might be to have the guy named Choose Name, I'm trying to write something somewhat serious.

Good thing I didn't put Insert Name Here, instead...
[x] Ignore it. If she's happy, she's happy. And not being smug at you.
-[x] Make some coffee. Offer to the sisters.

[x] Elroy

Who doesn't drink coffee in the morning? As for the name... dunno.
>>48067 Here

[x] Richard.
[x] Ignore it. If she's happy, she's happy. And not being smug at you.
-[x] Do you need to get ready for work or something?

Choose name? A pet name for Minoriko? Ok then...how about;

[X]My sweet little potato.
[x] Ignore it. If she's happy, she's happy. And not being smug at you.
-[x] Clean yourself
[x] Roger Stevens
I'm not sure if the MC even has work on the weekends as it's not noted and the whole "cutting back" hours thing.
Nah, he doesn't. Remember the few times the weekend crew was mentioned? Granted, with hours disappearing, that might change.
[x] Get on Minoriko's case. She shouldn't be doing this.
[x] Elroy.

Staying for a bit != living here. And it is not okay to dig up anyone's yard unless you're living there. Have some dignity, man!
>it is not okay to dig up anyone's yard unless you're living there. Have some dignity, man!

There's dignity to be had in not digging up the yard? Not to be antagonistic but whats the logic behind that?
There's dignity to be had in stopping a prideful stranger who you only met yesterday from doing whatever she wants to your property.
Even if it's infinitely more trouble than it's worth?
Technically, one could point out that since he lives in an apartment, he shouldn't do anything at all to the grounds. But that point is moot now. Vote called, and next one should be up... soon.
File 135892516596.jpg - (1.44MB, 800x1143 , it is not quite on this scale.jpg) [iqdb]
[-f-] Ignore it. If she's happy, she's happy. And not being smug at you.
-[-f-] Do you need to get ready for work or something?


No point in bugging her. Sure, you'll probably catch hell from the landlord, but it's not as if anyone can see it from the road. With the way some people are nowadays, they might see such a thing as a plus if it's offered. Pulling your head back in, you head towards the kitchen, intent on something to wake you up. "No matter what, it's not worth it, at least this early in the morning. But just need to get up?"

For a moment, you wonder if you should get moving, as this time of day you'd normally be at work. However, you've managed to keep your weekends relatively free from such a thing, even if it means that you have to work longer during the week. You grimace as your mind flashes to last night, and the sudden readjustment of your schedule. "?I'll probably have to start doing that, then. Overtime was about the only thing that kept me afloat? At least rent's cheap enough that I should be fine."

Cursing under your breath once more, you do your best to shake the thought out of your mind once more. "Worry about that tomorrow. At least I can take one day and forget about it." You can worry about searching for any open jobs tomorrow. Instead, you pull open the fridge and look around for something to drink.

"At least there's some tea left?" Pulling out the pitcher and pouring yourself a glass, you set the container back inside and take a slip. "I wonder what they plan to do. That woman seems already prepared to settle in." The thought causes your eyes to narrow. "Better not stay too long. If she stays like she has been this whole time?" Even if she was slightly more pleasant upon being vindicated, first impressions are quite hard to repair.

Eventually you stop musing and head back into the living room, sitting down on the couch once more. You're tempted to turn on the television and just watch something, but it'd probably be best to wait for the other one to come out of your bedroom first. You wouldn't want to forget and walk in on her.

Your glass is mostly empty by the time she appears from your room. Curiously, even though she has not seemingly borrowed your shower, she is as clean as she was the day before. Shizuha's eyes look through the wall to where Minoriko is before resting upon you. "So, I see that you are already up?"

The small grin on her face is only met by a shrug. "Typically I am up earlier. This is what counts as sleeping in for me. Just not quite used to having others up when I would be, otherwise?" You glance back at the porch. "Especially if they are busy digging up my back yard."

"Would you have expected anything else from her?" Shizuha watches you for a moment before you shake your head. "It's good that you left her be. She hasn't had the time to really settle herself after we came here. Minoriko never has been one to deal well with change."

"Heh. At least I can understand that. But my landlord will probably raise Cain over this once he finds out."

Shizuha just shrugged at that. "Not that I can do much about that. If you wish, I can try and have her stop. She isn't as unreasonable as she appears."

"I've yet to see that. But it should be fine. If there is a problem, it wouldn't take but a bit to turn the ground back over and cover it with pine needles." Sighing, you stand up. "But for now, I'm going to get washed up. Have you borrowed anything in there that I should know about?"

The girl shakes her head, smiling slightly as she watches you. "No. I need not use a bath for quite a while. I feel that I am clean enough?" Shizuha chuckles softly before passing you by. "Besides, that room was strange enough when I peered inside earlier."

"I'm sure it is, to you." A mental image of the two sisters using a washtub for everything passes your mind before you let the matter drop. "Eh, oh well. I'm going to head in. Please don't have anything happen in the next little bit."

"Has anything happened yet?" Nodding her head to you, she slips out to the other side of the room. "I'll keep an eye on Minoriko, though. Just in case."

Once she was outside, you sigh before heaving yourself to your feet. "Odd girl. Bout fades out of sight if you don't keep your eyes on her." Leaving an empty cup behind, you proceed to head into your room and prepare yourself for the day.


Granted, there was another reason you wanted Shizuha out of your room. Once she was gone, and you were clean and dressed, you took the time to explore every nook and cranny of your bare room.

Fortunately, everything seemed to be there. The cash you had squirreled away in one of the drawers had not moved. A few valuables and keepsakes stayed locked in a box at the foot of your bed. The old twenty-two that you took with you when you left home is still safe behind the headboard, the magazines safely in a nearby drawer.

"Looks like they didn't come to case me. At least I don't have to worry about that." One load is off your mind, at least. "A million more to go." Removing your books from their home, you toss them gently onto the couch before heading into the kitchen to make breakfast.

Three frozen waffles later and you are back at work, flipping the pages of your book. The girls are mostly quiet, leaving you alone for the morning hours. Although, you can't help but wonder what it is exactly that Minoriko is doing. There are a few words passed back and forth, but they are too soft for you to hear.

About noontime, the two appear once more. Shizuha in her normal mood, and Minoriko covered with a healthy coating of dirt. You initially wince at the sight, thinking of how much it would take to get dirt out of the carpet, but she proves how much of an enigma that both of them are by coming in with perfectly clean feet. You cast suspicious looks at both of them, but don't say a thing before returning to your book.

The proud woman interrupts your reading, making you sigh before she even can get a word in. "Where is your bath? I need to take advantage of it at the moment. If you don't mind so much."

You jerk your head towards the bathroom, lowering your book to watch her carefully. "It's over there, in that room. I'm surprised you haven't had to use it yet, considering that you've been here nearly a full day already."

"I've used the toilet, if that is what you are referring to. However, it was quite hard to squat over it. Even if you are a few inches taller than me, shouldn't you also have the same problem?"

"Squatting? I didn't take you for a catcher." Eying her for a moment to make sure she wasn't joking, even if you doubted if she even could do such a thing, you say a prayer under your breath. "Please don't tell me I don't have to explain the concept of a toilet to you."

"Perhaps you should. After all, your potatoes are strange, and so are your toilets. At this rate, I have to wonder what else may be incredibly odd and broken here."

There's the woman you know. "Well, I'm not sure how it goes for women, but I'm pretty sure that you can just sit down on top of it and let everything flow out. Or do I have to look up all the muscle groups so I can give instructions on how to do the job?"

Shizuha cuts her eyes at you before placing a hand on her sister's shoulder. "Minoriko, don't get too upset. Imagine how you'd feel if the roles were reversed."

"I'd tell him to go out to the outhouse and figure it out himself. That, or find a nice bush for him to use." Minoriko jerks away for a moment, heading for the bath. "Good thing I have a few herbs to wash me down. Never can stand the soap most use now."

Looking back at Shizuha, you open your mouth to ask her something before Minoriko interrupts you once more. "And where can you rinse off before taking a soak? "Oh, I see. The spigot on the top of the shower? Hrm. Idiots. Don't you always rinse and go straight to the bath, instead of having to wait for it to fill?"

Sighing, you snap the book shut. "Well, I suppose that is enough of that. Your sister is quite the handful, isn't she?"

"She is uncomfortable. I spoke to you of this earlier. Not to mention that she is quite a prideful woman. She remembers how things used to be." Leaving that hanging, Shizuha smoothes out her dress before looking away. "Is it that late in the day already? I suppose she isn't as strong out here?"

Turning towards Shizuha, you watch the slender girl for a few seconds. "?Still not going to tell me everything, are you? The more I hear, the more questions I have to ask you."

"Perhaps I can answer some. But many things you would not believe." She turns to face you, yellow eyes glinting in mischief. "Besides, did you not say we could only stay for a few days? If that is the case, I don't see the need to speak of everything."

"That doesn't mean I want to know everything." A blatant lie if anything else, but this girl will not part with much under any circumstance. "However, could you tell me where you are from, at the least?"

"Do you trust me to know your name, then?" The silence that ensues answers her question, and her smile grows just a bit. "Well, if you do not trust me with that much, why should I trust you with more than what I have shared?"

The frown on your face deepens until you shake your head. "Well, I did take you into my home, so I thought that might count for a little more. Or is it too humble for you?"

"Hardly. Ours is much the same in complexity, albeit different in a number of ways." Shizuha's hands clasp as she backs away. "However, I don't think now is the proper time."

Frustrated, you narrow your eyes at her. "About sound like a gambler or a conman, trying to twist words about like that."

"I've merely had a long time to think. Plus, there are things that I have agreed with Minoriko not to tell. And I will not break a promise with her." For a moment, her face grows older before returning to its normal youthfulness. "But isn't it lunchtime, about? Surely you must be hungry."

"Maybe I am." You bite your tongue to keep the next line from automatically passing your mouth. "But it's not a big deal. I can fix a sandwich or something on my own."

Shizuha shakes her head before heading into the kitchen herself. "Maybe so. But we did promise to do something to help you. So let me do something, since my sister is out of the picture."

You shake your head before standing up, following her into the kitchen. "Not that I have much of a choice, do I?" The girl shakes her head in reply, and you don't bother responding. At least you can look on the bright side of things. Considering how good of a cook Minoriko is, her sister should be at least decent as well. Especially as you plan to just make something simple to eat.

Three minutes are all you can take before kicking her out of the kitchen.

[ ] Watch TV. Try and catch up on what is going on? And you can distract yourself.
[ ] Dig up an old card game. Challenge the others, just to see what they are like.
[ ] Go back to your book and ignore them completely.

[ ] Help Minoriko cook again. This is your house, and it doesn't feel right being waited on by a stranger.
[ ] Visit Shizuha on the porch. See if she has anything to say.


One researches the oddest things when writing this story. Oh, and write-ins are allowed (technically, they always are), but I reserve veto power if I don't like the looks of it.
[x] Dig up an old card game. Challenge the others, just to see what they are like.
[x] Visit Shizuha on the porch. See if she has anything to say.
[X] Watch TV. Try and catch up on what is going on? And you can distract yourself.
[X] Visit Shizuha on the porch. See if she has anything to say.
[X] Dig up an old card game. Challenge the others, just to see what they are like.
-[X] Visit Shizuha on the porch. See if she has anything to say.

Just saying: I am eagerly hoping for Jenga at the SDM-tier shenanigans here.
[X] Watch TV. Try and catch up on what is going on? And you can distract yourself.
[X] Visit Shizuha on the porch. See if she has anything to say.
If possible, a tiebreaker would be appreciated.
[X] Watch TV. Try and catch up on what is going on? And you can distract yourself.
[X] Help Minoriko cook again. This is your house, and it doesn't feel right being waited on by a stranger.

Tiebreaking and tidepissing in the same vote!
How versatile.
Indeed. I was getting fairly disturbed at the uniformity of some of the votes.
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[-g-] Watch TV. Try and catch up on what is going on? And you can distract yourself.
[-g-] Visit Shizuha on the porch. See if she has anything to say.


Once done eating, you wonder for a few moments if you should bother to introduce the two to any sort of game. It might be a good way to judge their character, but you think you've seen enough of them both to judge all you want.

So, instead, you set yourself down in front of the television again and turn it on. Best to keep up with the going-ons in the rest of the world, even if it won't have much of an effect on you. Granted, you may be spurred on by your curiosity at where the two girls in your apartment came from, but it's not exactly likely that something will come up.

Of course, after the first couple of minutes you realize why you don't bother watching the news much. A bunch of blowhards on ever channel, and you can't stand the sound of their voice. That, and a bunch of the news seems to be centered on the many travails of a bunch of idiot celebrities. "Why in the world do people even bother with this stuff?"

Well, some people have plenty of disposable income. And those people tend not to have the best sense, disposing it on such things. Sighing, you change the channel in an attempt to find something else to watch.

Since it is midday, a bunch of the shows that are on are a bunch of crappy reruns, at least in your opinion. As you flip through, you realize that there is nothing particularly interesting that is on, so you instead let the last channel sit online for a while, idly watching it as you turn to retrieve your book.

Before you leave the room, though, something catches your eyes. The woman on the television turns to the camera and begins talking. "There have been rumors occurring in the past few days that some of silos in the Midwest have been compromised by intruders. An anonymous source, whose source could not be traced by our limited efforts, sent this video."

Turning back to look at the television, they show some grainy security footage of two girls running around the edge of a military base. As they do, you narrow your eyes. "?That can't be real. That looks like something out of a gas station when I was a kid? Doctored, maybe?" Your personal opinions aside, you watch as the two grainy female blobs as they run in and out of a nearby building, before disappearing around the corner.

"At our requests for further information, the Pentagon denied that the reports were serious. They maintain that the silo that was shown was one that had been deactivated, so the two that were visiting could have simply been tourists. They did pledge to probe the officers and ensure that none had been bringing any children onto the base, which is a clear violation of policy."

The woman looks down and shuffles her papers, eventually looking back up. "Now to our next segment. In the last couple of days, the mayor of New York City has called for increasingly ludicrous new laws, along with committing several odd actions. At latest, his recent tweet, which he then used to argue for a that one must have a license in order to tweet?"

You tune out the channel as they show the garbled mess on the screen. "Another reason not to go to the big town anytime? But that other part was? interesting." Your eyes flicker back and forth from the porch to the bathroom right near you. You doubt that these two were the same as those on the television? "Two strange girls, though."

A sudden thought comes to mind. "What if they're spies?" You start to laugh at the though, but manage to calm down. "Not like they've been doing much in the way of spy work unless they routinely set up gardens on other people's property?" Sighing, you make a mental note to observe them more thoroughly the rest of their time here. "Maybe I should go keep an eye on Shizuha? Make sure she's not doing anything untoward out there."

Glancing up, you see another segment coming on. "Now, we go over to our newsman in Maryland, where children are reporting the sights of a mystical creature. Which, surprisingly enough, is not Bigfoot." You scoff at the title of the segment, before reaching over to change the channel. "?Right. Fairy Sightings, my ass. Next thing you know, they'll start saying that Mexican lizard is showing up down in Texas."

Before you can bother to either sit down or get something else to do, the door to the bathroom opens up. Right there is Minoriko, face red from the heat as she glances around. "Where did? You! What are you doing here?"

Ears burn as you avert your eyes. Even if she is wrapped in one of your towels, you have the feeling that she had only just thrown it on. "I was about to fetch something before I was distracted by something on the TV."

"The what, now?" The girl just narrows her eyes. "Not trying to see me naked? I have to wonder?" She immediately shuts the door, and you can hear her muttering quite clearly through the closed entrance. "Just like the kappa. Half the time they only show up to try and steal the shirikodama? Idiots think that I look close enough like?"

"You are aware that I can hear you, correct?" A frustrated growl is Minoriko's only reply, and you finally walk away from the door, slightly red. "These girls are going to be the death of me."


The next few hours are spent idly watching the television, with part of you wanting to go and check up on them once more. Minoriko just shoots you a glare when she finally gets out of the bathroom, having spent two hours in there. Dreading the thought of what your water bill will be, you eventually shake the though off as she joins her sister for a little while.

Once she comes back in and heads to the kitchen, you decide that you've waited long enough. Slipping out onto the porch, you look for the younger-looking girl. With how small the place is, it takes you but a glance. She doesn't even turn her head to look at you as you come out. "Have you come with more questions for me?"

"Not necessarily, but I don't think I'll run out anytime soon." Leaning up against the wall, you look at Shizuha for a moment before trying to follow her eyes. "So, what is it that you are looking at?"

"The leaves." She finally glances back at you with her yellow eyes. "It's something I've always been fond of. Watching the leaves fall is always such a beautiful thing, is it not?"

After a few moments you take a step forward to glance up at the trees. As late as it is in the year, many of the limbs are barren. At most, only half remain. "I suppose it could be. But I've never been one to admire such things. Sure, the trees are pretty when they turn colors, but they just look? ugly and dead once they start to fall."

Shizuha turns back, idly nodding her head. "I suppose. That just may be how this world is? But it's beautiful in its own right. How it's the last stage of rebirth."

"Hrm?" You raise an eyebrow, hoping she'll continue speaking.

Even from this angle, you can tell her eyes lose focus as she does continue. "It's a cycle of life. Everything that is born must die, in the end. Most everyone celebrates the coming of new life? But not the cessation of old life. Old must give way to new, just as the leaves must fall in order for buds to bloom in the future. To deny that?"

"Mmm?" Not that you have much to say about that. However, before you even bother to respond, you hear her voice, once again.

"And it reminds me of how unneeded I am."

You snap your head towards her. "What was that?"

The girl continues being quiet, and for a moment her shoulders slump under an invisible weight. "Tell me. Is not the farmer not required to raise the crops and bring them to market?"

"?Not quite how I put it. And I imagine most of the big ones use machines to do the work? But, effectively, yes."

"Then, tell me, why do the leaves fall? Is there no one who goes around ensuring such a thing happens?"

You have no idea where she is taking this, so you just shrug your shoulders. "Last I checked, they did it on their own. They're trees, after all. And I think it has something to do with the chlorophyll breaking down. Not like I'm any kind of biologist."

The girl gives no reply, instead weakly slumping in her chair. "Indeed. They do fall on their own. Out here, at least." A small smile comes over her face as she looks away. "Barely any point in staying around then. At least I can wait until Minoriko no longer needs me?"

She trails off, staring out into the distance. You remain silent, curious to see if she would say anything else. Although what she was speaking about made no sense to you, it was important to her, whatever it was. After five minutes, you finally clear your throat. "Shizuha??"

Remaining silent, the girl eventually stands up, dusting off her dress. "Gensokyo. That is what you wished to know, is it not?"

"Know what?" Odd name, and definitely not from around these parts. "That some part of the capital of Japan or something? Similar enough name."

"Not quite. But you have the country right?" She chuckles weakly before skirting about you. "Although, using that name is odd to me? Odder than you would think. But that is enough for now. I think Minoriko will be done shortly." Stopping herself before she slips away, she actually bows to you. "My apologies for being so negative. I am used to being alone, and never think about speaking my mind."

"?No problem. Sounds like that you have a big load on you." An odd one, but she doesn't seem insane, just troubled. "You might be able to tell that I'm not used to company either."

"Then maybe we should stay longer then. Unless it troubles you too much." Before you can answer, she finally disappears inside, leaving you alone on the porch. More curious than ever, you follow them in.


The rest of the day proceeded fairly smoothly, even though Minoriko took every opportunity to snipe at you over dinner. At least she did not bring up the incident, although you believe it is mostly because Shizuha would take advantage of anything that was said on the subject.

You turned in early, not really having anything to do. Shizuha seemed to be interested in doing something for a little bit, but Minoriko shot such an idea down fairly quickly. Instead, they both retired to your room, while you took the couch once again.

In the morning you woke up just as early once again, with Minoriko making the same sounds as the morning before. Grumbling softly, you push yourself up and off of the couch and head into the shower, not bothering to wait this morning. "Got to get going.. See if there are any part times open around here."

Seems like being with two girls for a few days has not helped the problem of talking to yourself.

Once inside the shower, you hear someone knock on the door. "Now, who could be here at this hour, on a Sunday at that?" For a moment you think about running out there and checking to see if it is anything important, but you shrug it off. "Can't be that important?"

However, the knocking continues for a few minutes. Grumbling, you reach for the faucet, but not before you hear someone pass by the bathroom and head to the door. "Hello; who is it?"

Mentally reminding yourself to tell Shizuha that she does not have that privilege, you listen to the visitor's reply. "Pardon me, miss, but is a Mr. Elroy Stevens here? There have been recent rumors about some strange women in these parts. We've been tracking some disturbances, and wanted to see if he knew anything."

[ ] She can handle it. At least he hasn't seen Minoriko.
[ ] Go out there and get rid of him yourself.
-[ ] Get dressed.
-[ ] At least grab a towel.
-[ ] Full Frontal Assault
[X] She can handle it.
-[X] Run interference in case Minoriko feels the need to show herself.
[X] She can handle it. At least he hasn't seen Minoriko.
- [X] Get dressed ASAP just in case.
[X] Go out there and get rid of him yourself.
-[X] Hastily grab a towel.
-[X] "Strange women you say? Why, of course I know about them. I just picked these two sisters from the street because they were total strangers to me and I am that much of a nice and gullible fellow. Now I am letting them lounge around while I am taking a relaxing shower so that they have every opportunity to steal all of my twenty bucks, because I am that rich and have strange women trying to con me all the time.
Seriously now, how are you supposed to find them or any clues on them by asking random people? They could be right in front of you and you would not notice without anybody telling you so. Have the news inform the populace or whatever and wait for someone to call you, should be more effective than disrupting people's showers."

Do the only thing possible in this situation: be unfriendly and snark him away with almost 100% truth.
Grabbing the towel hastily is intended to help make Elrond look more disgruntled and having him look familiar with the Akis. Shizuha at least I expect to keep a cool head and play along, only Minoriko, if she appears, may flip out.
Ah, sarcastic confession, a classic. I guess tropes are tropes for a reason.
[x] She can handle it. At least he hasn't seen Minoriko.
-[x] Get dressed ASAP just in case.
[X] Go out there and get rid of him yourself.
-[X] Hastily grab a towel.
-[X] "Strange women you say? Why, of course I know about them. I just picked these two sisters from the street because they were total strangers to me and I am that much of a nice and gullible fellow. Now I am letting them lounge around while I am taking a relaxing shower so that they have every opportunity to steal all of my twenty bucks, because I am that rich and have strange women trying to con me all the time.
Seriously now, how are you supposed to find them or any clues on them by asking random people? They could be right in front of you and you would not notice without anybody telling you so. Have the news inform the populace or whatever and wait for someone to call you, should be more effective than disrupting people's showers."
[X] Go out there and get rid of him yourself.
-[X] Hastily grab a towel.
-[X] "Strange women you say? Why, of course I know about them. I just picked these two sisters from the street because they were total strangers to me and I am that much of a nice and gullible fellow. Now I am letting them lounge around while I am taking a relaxing shower so that they have every opportunity to steal all of my twenty bucks, because I am that rich and have strange women trying to con me all the time.
Seriously now, how are you supposed to find them or any clues on them by asking random people? They could be right in front of you and you would not notice without anybody telling you so. Have the news inform the populace or whatever and wait for someone to call you, should be more effective than disrupting people's showers."
File 135927502461.jpg - (8.13KB, 400x224 , time to fall from the tree.jpg) [iqdb]
[-h-] Go out there and get rid of him yourself.
-[-h-] Hastily grab a towel.
-[-h-] "Strange women you say? Why, of course I know about them. I just picked these two sisters from the street because they were total strangers to me and I am that much of a nice and gullible fellow. Now I am letting them lounge around while I am taking a relaxing shower so that they have every opportunity to steal all of my twenty bucks, because I am that rich and have strange women trying to con me all the time.
Seriously now, how are you supposed to find them or any clues on them by asking random people? They could be right in front of you and you would not notice without anybody telling you so. Have the news inform the populace or whatever and wait for someone to call you, should be more effective than disrupting people's showers."


You don't have time to deal with this. Hell, this is your house, and you are not going to have others barging in willy-nilly. You may have let the two sisters in, but it wasn't merely on some random whim. You waited a long time before deciding whether or not they could stay.

However, it is too much for you to let that stranger continue to remain on your doorstep. Turning off the shower, you step out, nearly heading out there to give him a piece of your mind. Before you show yourself off to the world, you do remember to grab a towel to wrap around yourself. After all, there are two that might care about such a thing. One more than the other, perhaps?

Exiting the door, you quickly turn the corner and stare down the man standing in the doorway. Shizuha just turns to you, raising an eyebrow as she steps aside and lets you approach him.

The two of you could not be more different, standing there at the moment. With you there in an old, bummy towel as your only clothing while he is dressed in a black suit, you almost wish you could laugh. Instead, you just stare down the man for a few moments before speaking. "So, what is it that you are here for? Strange women?"

Barely raising an eyebrow at the visage you present, he answers. "Indeed. Mr. Stevens, I presume?" At your nod, he continues. "Sorry to intrude, but I am here to see if you know anything about these? unusual women. Based on recent reports, there have been way too many sightings?" His eyes trail from you once again as he eyes up Shizuha. "We were curious to know if you had any knowledge of such people."

"You're speaking of Shizuha, and her sister?" Rolling your eyes, you automatically try to cross your arms before realizing they are what is protecting your modesty currently. "Of course I have knowledge of them. After all, I just picked these two girls off the side of the street, even though they are total strangers because I am simply that nice and gullible a fellow."

Pausing, you take a moment to fix the towel so that it hopefully won't fall down before you continue your spiel. "Naturally, I am letting them lounge about this expensive apartment while I take a relaxing shower so that they have every single opportunity available to steal the twenty bucks and thirty and a half cents in pocket change."

Even still, you garner no reaction from the man, who continues to stare at you. Somewhat frustrated from the lack of a response, you throw up your hands. "Seriously, how are you supposed to find them by asking random people. They could be right in front of you wouldn't ever notice the difference." Catching your towel before it fell, you shake your head at him sadly. "Have the news inform everyone, or something. Whatever. Wait for them to call you; it should be more effective disrupting my shower."

The man stares at you for a few more seconds before his gravely voice replies. "Indeed. We are not so dumb, Mr. Stevens. That is exactly what we did. One of your neighbors noted the strange girl that was coming in and out of your apartment. Especially odd as you live alone, normally."

He folds his hands together, interlacing his fingers. "Furthermore, these two are? Oddly dressed for the current times." His eyes turn back from you to Shizuha, staring her down. "And that color of eye is unnatural. Her sister's, as you kindly informed me, is even odder."

"Contacts. You know they can get them anywhere nowadays." Not that you believe that excuse anymore, but this guy is starting to creep you out. "Have you been spying on me? What have I done to deserve such attention?"

"Currently, nothing. Although that could change." He eyes Shizuha for a moment longer. "So, I suppose you can tell me what your relationship is? Especially if you did not pick them up off the street, like you said."

You have to give the man credit. He's almost as paranoid as you are. "Shizuha is an old friend of mine, whom I haven't seen in years. She is just in town for a little bit, and I thought I'd show her around." Sighing, you glance towards the door as you spin the yarn. "Sadly, that must mean that I will have to put up with her sister for the rest of her time here. But I consider that an acceptable concession."

"Indeed." The man finally glances back at you, steely eyes burning down. "So, I suppose there is nothing else that you wish to tell us?"

"Not particularly. Although, I would like it if you would let me go dress. Unless there is anything else that you would like to ask of us?"

The two of you continue to stare down each other until the man shakes his head. "No, there is not. Have a good day. We will keep in touch." At that, he turned around and let himself out. None too kindly, you firmly shut the door behind him, not quite slamming it closed.

After a few moments, you sigh. "Fuck. Just? Just great. Now got the government watching me."

A few seconds later, you feel a hand on your shoulder. "Elroy, do calm down. Nothing poorly will come due to?"

"Says what? I'm sure that something bad will come of it." Biting your lip, you eventually turn around and look Shizuha straight in the eye. "Get your sister in here. I am going to get dressed. After that? We will talk."

Even as your voice cuts into her, the girl merely gives a small crooked grin. "Not giving us a choice, are you? I suppose that's fine. Sister will be unhappy, though."

"When is she not?" Not answering, Shizuha simply shakes her head. "No matter. I'll get dressed? But I want to know sooner or later. Rather, sooner. Later has already come and past." At that, you turn around and head back into your room.


Not ten minutes later, you are staring down the two girls on the couch. "Like I said, I need to know what it is that is going on here. You've got the government breathing down on my neck." Looking between the two, you lose the hard look on your face as your shoulders slump. "Look. Everything I've seen that the two of you do shows to me that you're decent, at least. But I've got nothing to prove that, even after I've vouched for you. Whatever that may gain me."

The two glance at each other before Shizuha looks back at you. "What I said before still holds true. You would not believe me even if I told you."

"Maybe so. But that doesn't matter now, does it?" Sighing, you sit down on the table, facing the two. "So, tell me. Whatever the heck that it is that you want to say."

Shizuha sighs, glancing away. "?Very well. I spoke yesterday of Gensokyo. Our home. It is not a town or a city that you might be accustomed to. It is a? a preserve might be the best way to put it. At least, in your language."

"So? You live in some kind of zoo? Then why would they be hunting for you? Let loose a bunch of other wild creatures?" Pausing, you frown. "That doesn't explain the other girls though? Unless it is some sort of asylum instead." At least that would explain Minoriko's mania.

The younger sister immediately shakes her head. "Hardly. There may be creatures that live there, along with a few girls that like to call themselves insane, but it is neither of the two. Gensokyo is a land that is designed to preserve magic."

"?Right?" You glance at Shizuha for a second. "You're right. I don't believe you. That's as farfetched as anything else. Some secret magic society that has been kept hidden from the rest of the world?"

"I imagine Yukari lets some on this side know. But generally, yes, that is correct." Glancing back at you, you feel a hint of sorrow in her gaze. "It is a wild land. Something that normal humans would not be accustomed to. There is a very large chance that if you were to visit there, you would be killed."

"Don't forget eaten. The youkai all love to eat the humans from the outside when they get a chance."

Holding up a hand, you ignore that thought for a second. "Let's wait a bit on that note, shall we? Whatever these youkai are, they sound like some big dumb creature that eats meat. Anything big enough could eat me if I'm not careful, so don't try to distract me on that." Glancing between the two, you wait to speak once more. "So, tell me, why should I believe that you are from a land of magic?"

Minoriko rolls her eyes before pulling off her hat. "We don't have time for this? Fine. Here. This should do it." At that, she plunges her hand in her hat before beginning to root around. "Now, where is it? Aha!" After a moment, she pulls out a potato and shoves it in your face. "Is that proof enough?"

Biting your tongue, you shove the potato out of your face. "That is a potato. And I have seen plenty of magicians use slight of hand on the television. That won't be able to convince me."

"Then how about I turn your living room into a greenhouse? Would that be enough?" Grinning wickedly, she raises up a hand as if preparing to snap her fingers. However, Shizuha grabs hold of her wrist, stopping her from doing anything. "?Sister?"

"Minoriko, you know that both of our powers are weakened out here. Don't waste so much on such a trivial thing."

"Then what do you propose?"

Shizuha smiles at Minoriko. "I've had something in mind for a while?" At that, she closes her eyes and knits her brow.

Seconds later, the door to the porch flies open, thrown off by a mighty gust of wind. It is all that you can do to keep a hold of yourself as the wind buffets you, and you feel your eyes begin to water. However, you manage to keep them open as something colorful begins to fly in.

Some things that are oddly familiar.

A veritable torrent of leaves surrounds you, spinning about your body in a miniature tornado. Quickly overcoming your shock at the sudden onslaught, you pluck a leaf out of the whirlwind. "Wait a second? How did you?"

A smug smirk settles onto her face, eerily reminiscent of her sister's. "I am The Symbol of Loneliness and Demise. Aki Shizuha?" She pauses, before blushing and looking away. "Goddess of Dead Leaves."

You have no idea what to say to that, so instead you watch as the wind calms down and the leaves slowly float to the floor below you. As they do, Shizuha snatches a yellow leaf out of the air before affixing it to her hair.

Minoriko just rolls her eyes at the sight. "And here you tell me not to waste my power. You know that you have less than I, Shizuha."

"But I did not create anything. I just moved from one place to the other." Smiling sadly, she looks down at the rest of the leaves. "And it is time for them to return as well, so they can prepare for the next year." In a flash, the wind reversed and the leaves lifted back in the air, slowly approaching the door.

Not having anything else to say, you follow them out, looking around outside. Curiously enough, the screen surrounding the porch was intact. Yet, there were no leaves on the ground, nor are there any stuck to the inside of the screen. They had truly come and gone. "Welp. I think I'm starting to go mad right now."

From her spot on the couch, Minoriko glances over Shizuha as you shake your head in disbelief. "Usually, they have to see something a bit more impressive than that to reach that point."

"Heh. And you would know?" Turning your head over to them, you sigh once more. "Alright. So, if I am to say that I believe in this magic? Why are you here? Why leave that place you called home?"

Shizuha just shakes her head, and lets Minoriko answer. "We were telling the truth then. We didn't have a choice. One minute we were there, and the next? I was sleeping under an open sky."

Seeing her looking away from the conversation, you clear your throat. "And you, Shizuha??"

"Oh, I don't sleep that much at home? Although I was at home, I was outside, enjoying the moonlight for a little while. We both ended up in the same place." Raising a hand, she continues. "I didn't see anything. It was just like my sister said. One minute we were there? And the next, we were here."

"?So, some form of magic that you don't know, I imagine." Still shaking your head, you consider all that has gone on this morning. After a few minutes of silently weighing your chances, you nod and begin walking to your room.

Before you can, though, Minoriko interrupts you. "What about me? Aren't you curious as to what I am, since you know what my sister is?"

"Not particularly. I said I believed in magic. I never said I believed that you are a goddess." Both of the girls visibly wince at the words, but you stand firm. "You haven't done anything that I imagine that a magician could do. So, that's what I'm going to think you two are. Just some strange magicians."

"I'll have you know that I'm a harvest goddess. Not some two-bit black-white magician who likes to go around and shoot lasers at random passerby."

"Don't forget the stars, Minoriko. And the orbs that shoot the stars. She uses those a lot, too."

"Don't remind me?" Gritting her teeth, she crosses her arms and looks away. "Damned black-white? Ruined one too many crops with that bloody elemental reactor."

"As lovely as it is, that doesn't make a lick of difference." Looking both of them in the eye, you quietly speak. "We are leaving. Now. I'm not taking my chances."

They both shoot you a curious look, with Shizuha rising to her feet while adjusting the new leaf in her hair. "Really? And where do you propose to take us, then? Unless you plan to abandon us here."

"Hardly. Although the idea does have its own merits." Sighing, you turn around and head into your room. "However, you still haven't done anything that would necessitate me turning you in? Asides from being illegal foreigners that don't have their papers. But when you have a man in a black suit bearing down on you?" Shaking your head, you open your drawers and start to clean them out. "Well, call me paranoid, but I don't trust my chances if I stay here. Best to leave."

Both of the girls follow you in, watching as you tear apart the room, collecting every valuable that you might have. "That still doesn't answer my question, you know. Especially as we've answered most of yours, already."

"Even if I only have more now?" After a moment, you shake your head, digging out a small suitcase from under your bed as you do. "I'm originally from Tennessee. It might be odd, but what would be weird about taking a friend home to see family, so that she might observe life and various customs around here?"

"?How long have you been working on that yarn? Not exactly many consummate liars that are about, especially on the mountain."

All you do is shrug. "A few minutes? It's hardly that crazy. Especially as that man sussed out my lies already. I can tell that much?" It doesn't take you long to toss everything that you would consider valuable or memorable in your bag, before placing a few spare sets of clothes in as well. "I highly doubt it, but is there anything that you are wanting to take with you as well?"

Both of them shake their heads. "Hardly? Although, the garden still needs to be?"

"It can wait for another day, Minoriko. This is hardly the time. For now, we'll be taking a road trip. Hopefully this will all blow over, and I can come on back safely.

"Don't you have work? You had to leave for a while on Friday evening, and I believe you mentioned something about working more than that."

"I may have. However, my hours have already been cut in half. They might as well fire me, if that's the case. Gonna have to get a new job, anyways. Why not make it a whole new one?" Laughing softly under your breath, you zip the bag shut and pick it up in one hand. It takes you a moment to remember one last thing, so instead you reach around with the other to pluck the twenty-two from its safe spot. "So, since you two got me in to this? Shall we?"

The two just glance at each other before nodding, and all three walk out to the truck.

[ ] Plot a course from Columbia, SC to Nashville, TN.
[ ] Listen to the radio. You don't particularly want to talk to them.
[ ] There was something about dead leaves? Doesn't sound like the most intriguing of jobs. It's too curious to leave untouched.
[ ] Does Minoriko know that harvest goddess are also fertility goddesses in some religions? Might be fun to rattle her a bit.


So, here comes the big part of the plan. I need you all to plot me a route for which way we go. Said route will determine what we will come across, although that will come more into point later on. For now, though, I just need directions.

Oh, and don't try to be smart and try to go there via New York, or something like that. But the shortest path may or may not be the best one, for a given value of best.
Damn, did not expect a government agent to come and shoot my write-in down that fast.
Also I would prefer to have the radio on in a low volume at least so that we can hear any possible news that might concern us, but I doubt that works here.

Sage for not voting yet. Being paranoid but not American I rather leave planning the route to the locals.
[ x ] Listen to NPR.

I'm from the west cost, so no idea about the route.
>"Not particularly. I said I believed in magic. I never said I believed that you are a goddess." Both of the girls visibly wince at the words, but you stand firm.

Aki sisters need faith badly. ;_;

[X] There was something about dead leaves? Doesn't sound like the most intriguing of jobs. It's too curious to leave untouched.
-[X] Keep NPR on and one ear listening for any news of strange women.
[X] There was something about dead leaves? Doesn't sound like the most intriguing of jobs. It's too curious to leave untouched.
-[X] Keep NPR on and one ear listening for any news of strange women.

I'm mexican, besides google maps It'd do an awful job with planning the route.
Besides, a longer route has the risk of having something breaking, but it would be wise to use secondary roads, keep away from toll-booths and maybe hop from "smalltown,USA" to "littleville,USA" while avoiding federal center cities or army bases.
Although that would look even more suspicious, maybe going to places with kitschy and lame tourist traps ala "world's biggest X" and county or state fairs and make a harvest season tour, less suspicious if we are "taking a vacation and enjoying the view".
Well, if anyone wants to just give a recommendation of where to go (even if it's a general term such as avoid x city or go through y state or over/around z river/mountain range), that'd be fine as well. Any direction at all would be acceptable.
[x] There was something about dead leaves? Doesn't sound like the most intriguing of jobs. It's too curious to leave untouched.
[x] Route: NW on I-26 to Spartanburg, then N to Asheville.
-West on I-40, following it through the Cherokee National Forest to the intersection of I-40 and I-81.
-Continue west on I-40 to Knoxville, then Cookeville, then Nashville.

Approximately an 8 hour trip, so we could leave in the morning and arrive by the evening. We can stop for gas in Spartanburg, Knoxville, and Cookeville, and in Knoxville for lunch. We can take rest stops as needed, and the sisters might enjoy the national forest as well.
File 135933151194.jpg - (16.75KB, 285x282 , circle_chord.jpg) [iqdb]
>Any direction at all would be acceptable.
[x] Down.

Shortest distance between two points, and we're in a hurry.
This looks like a sound plan, so count my vote on this. [I'm the mexican guy btw].

Did this guy just voted for tunneling the earth?
I believe he did. And such a desire is noted. Sadly, the truck lacks a drill tank accessory, so we cannot do such a thing.
I'm Australian.
Wouldn't have a clue about regional America.
Bravo on shooting us in the foot.

[X] There was something about dead leaves? Doesn't sound like the most intriguing of jobs. It's too curious to leave untouched.
-[X] Keep NPR on and one ear listening for any news of strange women.
[X] >>48162
Sounds like he knows the area at least somewhat.

[X] There was something about dead leaves? Doesn't sound like the most intriguing of jobs. It's too curious to leave untouched.
-[X] Keep NPR on and one ear listening for any news of strange women.
Jumping the bandwagon even if flustering Minoriko would have been fun to see.

I knew I should have put more points into paranoia when I had the chance, then I would have anticipated this case.
File 135942535790.jpg - (138.77KB, 850x665 , need to see a man about a brush.jpg) [iqdb]
[-i-] There was something about dead leaves? Doesn't sound like the most intriguing of jobs. It's too curious to leave untouched.
-[-i-] Keep NPR on and one ear listening for any news of strange women.


The three of you settle into the truck relatively easily, although Minoriko does show some trace sign of irritation. Given how often she is irritated, though, you don't bother her about it in the least. Instead, you insure that whatever belongings you are taking with you are stowed in the bed of the truck before placing the rifle behind your seat.

"Alright, Lisa, let's see about getting out of here?" Patting the truck on the dash once more, you fire her up. As her engine revs loudly in approval, you pull out of the spot and start driving along.

The first fifteen minutes of the trip are silent, with none of you willing to talk too much. Just by their presence, you find yourself on the run. And you still don't know how much they are responsible for everything that did happen. That is on top of being unable to make heads or tails of this whole magic thing.

At the very least, there is one question that has been answered. Now you don't have to worry about where in the world Minoriko is getting all of this food.

After a little bit, when you're finally out of the city and driving along the highway, you finally reach over to the radio. Hitting the button, you scan the channels until you finally make it to 91.3 FM. "?And we'll be back soon. Now onto our commercial break."

"Eh. Fun times." Turning it down, you glance at the others who are watching you out of the corner of their eyes. "What? I was just turning the radio on?"

"We don't have that at home, remember?" Sighing, Shizuha shook her head. "Strange. But I suppose it is similar to the television that you had in your home?"

You shrug your shoulders. "Somewhat, I suppose. But there is no video here, as you can imagine. Might take my eyes off the road." Glancing back forward, you take note of your speed and let off the gas. You don't want to be running too fast. All you have to do is drive as a normal commuter might, and you should be fine. "Besides, it might be best to keep at least one ear open. We want to know if there are any other problems going on. I don't want to deal with running into any others that could bring trouble on my head."

A somewhat cross look comes onto Minoriko's face, although you can't quite see from the corner of the eye. "Well, how long is it going to take to get to where you are taking us? This thing is rather stuffy?"

"For a long while. It's going to take us an hour and a half just to reach Spartanburg. I'll need to stop for gas there." Glancing down at the fuel gauge, you thin your lips. "It's low enough as it is, but we'll make it that far with plenty. Fill up there and we can make it most of the way before stopping again."

"Still sounds annoying? I don't see how you can travel in these metal boxes, and so far at that."

You can't help to roll your eyes. "Well, excuse me. What is it that you normally do? Fly around on a broomstick or something?"

"I am not like that insufferable black-white! Of course we don't fly around using such things. We can do well enough with our own power."

Blinking, you take your eyes away from the road for a second. "?You're not joshing me, are you?" If there were anything that sounds ridiculous, that'd be one of them. Although, it may not be that big of a stretch to go from flying leaves to flying straight up. "Don't tell me you have a carpetbag and use an umbrella instead."

"?Not particularly. We just use our own power. Although, I remember that some tourists a few years ago were fond of such bags?" Shizuha shakes her head. "But no, we do not. We were able to fly before? Although, we are too weak to do much, now."

"I had surmised as much." Sighing, you turn back to the road. "Still, probably would be a bit faster for you two. But if that was the case, you wouldn't have needed to borrow my home, would you?"

The only answer that you receive to that is silence. Not that they need to say anything in particular. So instead, you keep driving along for another fifteen minutes or so, listening to whatever comes on the radio. However, nothing in particular seems to be on this early in the morning, with only the odd tidbit about foreign politics. Nothing about strange girls that are suddenly popping up.

As you drive along the highway, still maintaining the speed limit as best as possible so as not to draw too much attention, you finally sigh. "So, that thing about dead leaves? What's that whole shtick about?"

Shizuha glances back at you, raising an eyebrow curiously. "I had thought you didn't believe us about that part."

"I don't. However, color me curious. You did have some control over the leaves that you showed off to me, so at least your power over that sounds reasonable. I'm just curious as to the why."

The older girl glances away as her sister looks to say something to you. However, she shuts her mouth, apparently giving anything up as a lost job. She lets her sister answer after a few moments. "It is simply the way that I was created. Just as my sister was born to bless the harvest, I was born to paint the leaves."

"Painting the leaves?" The thought triggers a few memories from many years ago. "Don't tell me it's like painting the roses red. Or do you have someone that paints frost on the grass in the winter morning, as well?"

"Not quite. Although, there are some that are certainly capable of it." Her face falls for a moment, looking down. "Please, though? Don't speak of winter too much. Even if I understand its purpose, it is a dreadful time for us."

You nod for a moment, barely taking your eyes off of the road to check on her. "If you say so. Are you being metaphorical when you speak of painting? I can't imagine how long it'd take to do one tree, much less forests of them."

"I did say that I have a lot of time to think, didn't I?" Her lip quirks into a smile. "Although, it is probably not what you have in mind. But other than painting the leaves, it is my job to have them fall from their boughs. Typically, I do that by kicking them."

There is nothing that you can do after that announcement. Nothing except laughing. "Well, that hardly sounds like the most impressive of your powers. I had something grander in mind, after your claims and what you showed me."

"We all can do more than that. One of the benefits is how? liberal our powers can be if you use them intelligently."

Minoriko finally makes herself heard by leaning over her sister towards you. "Not that it does much of anything when no one believes." Her voice is rather heated, but she manages to keep herself under control. For the most part. "The both of us have been fading for the past hundred years. A lot have forgotten what it is what we can do. Not to mention that with the treaty, they hardly need us for other things."

"You know they never came to us before the treaty either, sister." Shizuha smiled sadly at the girl, placing a hand on her shoulder and pulling her back. "Not many are fond of a goddess whose job is to invoke death, even on such a small scale."

"To be honest, I'd expect you to have rattling chains and exposed bones if you were like that. Or a scythe." Shaking your head, you turn back to the road completely, not bothering to look at them. "I figure that there is a lot of explaining that needs to be done, then. As I hardly understand half of what you're talking about."

Minoriko snorts under her breath. "And the other half?" She shakes her head, looking pointedly away. "That will come in time. Besides, the treaty hardly matters right now. And at the very least, we don't have to worry about any other outside gods trying to steal our faith. Hopefully."

Again, more questions, but at least they're starting to make sense. The two are at the least living up to their role, so at the least you know that they truly believe it. Now you just have to wonder how sane they might or might not be.


The rest of the ride towards the next city doesn't take too long, as you keep your silence for the most part. Nothing else comes on the radio, but you notice that all of the reports are canned after a little while. Maybe in a few hours a live report will come on.

It was also somewhat difficult to pay attention, what with Minoriko's on and off bickering under her breath. So, instead, you merely watch the road, pulling into a gas station once you are near the city limits.

Pulling up to a pump, you place a hand on your wallet automatically in order to check if it is there. After turning the truck off and putting it into park, you turn to the others. "Now, just stay in here. I have to put some gas in so that we can make it all the way across." Before they can ask, you decide to clarify for their sakes. "It's the fuel for the truck. Without it, we don't move."

Turning her head towards the outside, Minoriko just nods and looks at the ground. "Still, it'd be good to stretch my legs." As she sees the ground, though, her frown tightens. "But the land here looks terrible. What happened?"

As far as you can tell, the ground is just normal gas-stained concrete. Although to someone who is so used to dirt and grass, it might appear to be abnormal. "It's supposed to look like that. Just simple concrete. If you haven't noticed, though, everyone wears shoes nowadays. Most places won't even let you in if you don't wear them."

The girl simply harrumphs, and crosses her arms. However, she says nothing in return, instead staring off. You can do nothing more than sigh and slide out of your seat, shutting the door behind you and walking in.

Ignoring the tinkling of the bell as you cross the threshold, you look around for anything you might need. The current employee on duty ignores you for the most part, so you just slip into the back and look around. You've not had anything to eat yet, so you grab something to eat if you ever do get hungry.

As you do, you pass by yet another aisle that has quite a variety of random wares for sale. Everything from clothing to random car parts to smelly trees to hang on the rearview mirror was there. All of it was tacky, but you hardly care about that. Although, a stay thought does come to your head.

[ ] Get a pair of cheap sandals for Minoriko. Explain that her highness's feet shouldn't have to touch such ground.
[ ] It's not worth the two bucks you'd have to burn.
[ ] Just go and pay for your gas, making sure to quietly leave.
[ ] Ask the attendant if anything strange has happened today.
[x] Get a pair of cheap sandals for Minoriko. Explain that she shouldn't have to walk on such unnatural ground if she's not comfortable with it.
[x] Ask the attendant if anything strange has happened today.
-[x] Pass it off as asking for troubles on the road, construction sites, any thing of interest or something that could have changed since you haven't been around here for a while.

It's normal to ask for directions in a gas station, right?
[x] Get a pair of cheap sandals for Minoriko. Explain that she shouldn't have to walk on such unnatural ground if she's not comfortable with it.
[x] Ask the attendant if anything strange has happened today.
-[x] Pass it off as asking for troubles on the road, construction sites, any thing of interest or something that could have changed since you haven't been around here for a while.

I hope this won' blow up in our faces.
[x] Get a pair of cheap sandals for Minoriko. Explain that she shouldn't have to walk on such unnatural ground if she's not comfortable with it.
[x] Ask the attendant if anything strange has happened today.
-[x] Pass it off as asking for troubles on the road, construction sites, any thing of interest or something that could have changed since you haven't been around here for a while.

Hope we can eyeball her shoe size well enough. And that she'll wear them after we buy them.
[X] Get a pair of cheap sandals for Minoriko. Explain that she shouldn't have to walk on such unnatural ground if she's not comfortable with it.
[X] Ask the attendant if anything strange has happened today.
-[X] Pass it off as asking for troubles on the road, construction sites, any thing of interest or something that could have changed since you haven't been around here for a while.

Seems reasonable enough.
File 13595105994.jpg - (176.00KB, 765x1080 , are you sure yes no.jpg) [iqdb]
[-j-] Get a pair of cheap sandals for Minoriko. Explain that she shouldn't have to walk on such unnatural ground if she's not comfortable with it.
[-j-] Ask the attendant if anything strange has happened today.
-[-j-] Pass it off as asking for troubles on the road, construction sites, any thing of interest or something that could have changed since you haven't been around here for a while.


Shrugging your shoulders, you grab the most basic pair from the wall. They may not exactly fit, but beggars can't be choosers. And it's no skin off your back if she doesn't wear them, as you probably have enough coins on you to pay for them.

Walking up to the counter, you set the sandals on it while leaning over, trying to get a good look at the television. Just from a glance, you realize that he must have just been watching the weather. Raising an eyebrow, you clear your throat to get the attention of the guy. "How are you doing? I need to pay for this, along with some gas."

"Which pump are you on?" The man leans forward for a second, finally turning away from the television. "And aren't these much too small for you?"

"They're not for me. Friend that is with me lost hers. She needs a pair, if just for a little bit." You just shrug as you answer the man's first question. "It's pump seven. Need to put forty in."

"Alright, then." He stands there as he waits for you to hand them the money, eyes drifting back to the television. "Should be about ready now. Have a good day."

"You too." Watching him eye the television for a while longer, you decide to go ahead and ask if he's seen anything. Either he has, or he is simply so bored that he would watch even that. "Say, has there been anything going on around here? It's been a while since I've been through here, and was wondering if there was anything I should keep an eye out for."

The man slowly blinks, before glancing back at you. "Mmm?" After a moment, he shrugs. "Not too much, I'm afraid. Of course, that depends on which way you're headed."

"North. Going to Lexington." The majority of the route would be similar, but it'd be good to throw people off of your trail if you were being followed. It really is starting to get to you how much you're having to lie, but you've really no choice.

"Not too much, I'm afraid. Twenty-six is clear, unless there's been a wreck I hadn't heard." He raises an eyebrow, before jerking his head towards the television. "Weather's a bit funny. If you're headed up there, you might want to take a jacket."

Raising an eyebrow, you look down at the long sleeves already on. "The mountains may be a bit nippy, but if we're stopping it won't be for long, if at all."

"Just saying. Sounds like it's been a bit cold up there. Especially for this time of year." Glancing around, he shrugs again before leaning back. "Other than that, haven't seen nothing. Except that there are some whack jobs thinking they caught an alien somewhere out in the west. Not that I could tell you anything about it. Probably was just some diseased dog that looked funny."

The man must be bored indeed if he's passing off strange rumors such as that. "Probably. They'll say anything to get attention anymore." Shaking your head, you head to the door while idly waving at the guy. "Aye, thanks for that. See ya."

"You have a good one." Leaving the man in the store, you head back towards the truck, shoes in hand. Once back, you stick your head inside, glancing at the two that are still waiting. At least they're both calm, for once, even if Minoriko appears a bit antsy.

Well, maybe you can solve that. "Hey, Minoriko." Once you have her attention, you toss the shoes to her. "These are for ya. I figured you might want them if you don't want to walk on the ground like this."

The supposed goddess picks up the shoes, eyeing them with distaste. "Really, now? Are you insisting that I do such a thing?"

"Hardly. You can do whatever you want. Just thought I'd try and be nice." Leaving it at that, you shut the door behind you and head towards the back of the truck. Opening the door for the fuel, you pull off the cap before turning to the pump. Let's see? cheap stuff. Heh. I remember when there didn't even need all of these digits?" Sighing, you pull the nozzle off and stick it in.

It doesn't take long for the machine to register once you flip the lever up. Although, it does take quite a while for the numbers to turn on the indicator. "Bloody old pump. Oh well. Doesn't matter in the long run."

As you wait for the machine to finish, you hear the door of the truck creep open. You don't even turn your head as someone shuffles beside you, looking oddly at the pump. "Odd thing, this is. The kappa would have a field day with it."

"I'm sure they would." Turning towards the girl, you look down, only mildly surprised. "So you're wearing them? I thought that you hated the idea of doing such a thing."

Minoriko rolls her eyes at you. "I'm certainly not fond of it. But the idea of walking around on this ground here?" She eyes the gas stains that litter the parking lot. "I'm not particularly fond of it. Even if these shoes are too big."

"Well, I didn't pay that much attention. At the least, they aren't too small."

"Mmm. Still surprised you were able to find someone to make them, so quickly. A cobbler of any type isn't easy to find."

"That's because they were prefabricated. Or whatever you would call shoes made like that." Clucking your tongue, you wait for the pump to bang before picking up the hose and trying to shake every last drop of gasoline out. "Most everywhere has something cheap and mass-produced. That's the word I was searching for. Not many make custom stuff anymore."

The woman just looks at you oddly before shrugging. "I? See. I don't think I could stand such a thing? If I bothered to wear shoes at all." Having nothing else to say, she turns to the side and walks back to the door. "I suppose you'll have us leave, soon?"

"Maybe." Before she walks too far, you speak up. "Just by the way, I wanted to ask you. Is there another one of you that can cause the air to get cold?"

Minoriko stills before glancing back at you. "?There are a few. Why do you say that?"

"The attendant was watching the weather. I asked him about anything that could be happening the way we're going." You turn towards her, watching the red-eyed girl carefully. "No construction that he knows of. Just that there is a cold snap up north. Didn't mention how much of one, but just that it was unusual."

Hesitating, Minoriko just shrugs. "It shouldn't be a problem, if it is one of the few I know. Although, it could be a spirit problem, which would be pretty bad." The girl frowns at the thought. "Ghosts are never fun to deal with. Although, they shouldn't have quite enough power to manifest all the way out here, much less influence the weather."

Idly nodding, you pull the nozzle out and stick it back on the pump before screwing the cap back on. "So, you think that we should just keep going? We're not so far out of the way that we can't take another route."

After a few moments, she shakes her head. "It shouldn't be that bad. If it is, we can turn around or just keep going through. It just depends on how fast this thing is."

That hardly sounds pleasant. You can just imagine something cruel happening to Lisa if this all goes wrong. And mountain roads are hardly something that can be driven quickly through, even if you are on the interstate.

[ ] Choose another route. You'll not take the risk. Don't want anything poorly to happen to your truck.
[ ] You're this far, and it's only a little cold. Besides, you've two supposed goddesses on your side.
[x] You're this far, and it's only a little cold. Besides, you've two supposed goddesses on your side.

Better to deal with what we know about than what we don't know about.
Maybe we could go via Spartanburg > Atlanta > Chattanooga > Nashville, but for my own life can't read google maps to know where the mountains are.

Is Spartanburg - Asheville via US 221 N > US 74 W > and I 26 W a viable route for bypassing the mountains or am I just reading this stupid map in the worst way possible.

In case my routes are really that stupid feel free to just count me on the "push forward" camp.

[x] You're this far, and it's only a little cold. Besides, you've two supposed goddesses on your side.
[x] You're this far, and it's only a little cold. Besides, you've two supposed goddesses on your side.

Trucks are built for moving loads and using four wheel drive. Snow will affect us less than a normal car.
[X] You're this far, and it's only a little cold. Besides, you've two supposed goddesses on your side.
[x] You're this far, and it's only a little cold. Besides, you've two supposed goddesses on your side.

Either it'll be fine, or it's worth investigating. Either way...
[x] You're this far, and it's only a little cold. Besides, you've two supposed goddesses on your side.

Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!
File 135955942243.png - (111.11KB, 787x1165 , it is hard to find sufficiently evil pics of these.png) [iqdb]
[-k-] You're this far, and it's only a little cold. Besides, you've two supposed goddesses on your side.


"No matter. It's not something that should bother us too much. It's not like the roads are iced over. It's just? unnatural." You crook a grin at the girl as you open up your door. "Besides, you say you're a goddess, right? Surely you could protect me if something did happen, couldn't you?"

The woman just shoots you a glare in return. "That is if I feel that you deserve protecting." Not amused by your words, Minoriko eventually does follow suit, sitting inside and strapping herself in.

A smile tugging at her lips, Shizuha glances between her sister and you. "Did you have a lovely conversation? Or is it something that cannot be allowed to reach my ears?"

"Hardly." You shoot the younger girl a look. "I just had a few words with her about something that we might be running across soon. Just a late unpleasantness that could come across if my suspicions are correct."

"Hrm. If you say so." Shizuha grins at you for a bit longer before turning away. "Surely you must be hiding something if you're being so coy with me, but it is alright. I can handle a secret, after all."

Minoriko eventually just shakes her head as you pull out of the parking lot and head back to the highway. "Hardly. Just that there is some unseasonable cold up ahead. He just had to make sure that it wasn't anybody that we might know, as he isn't quite used to the cold. Might damage his precious skin, or something."

"Funny, Minoriko, funny." At the least, Shizuha seemed to be amused, so you left them be seeing that one of the girls was happy. After riding north on the highway for a while in silence, you finally hear something come on the radio. "?Turn that up. Maybe something has come on since earlier."

Dutifully, the elder of the two reaches forward to turn the volume up. "?After further reports of heightened military status in the Dakotas. The Secretary could not be reached about questions concerning the change relating to the reports of unknowns infiltrating some bases."

After waiting for a few moments, during which they blathered on about turbulent weather on the Great Lakes and new ordinances on animals pushing wheelbarrows in New York, you sigh and reach towards the radio to turn it down. "At least nothing is bothering to happen where we are going. I can be thankful for that?"

"But you're still worried about something. Otherwise you wouldn't be frowning like that." Shizuha's yellow eyes pierce you for a moment as they search for an answer. "You've been wearing that frown for a while."

"I've had a lot of stuff to worry about. "But it's none of my business, really. Just need to get to my family's house, and we'll figure it out from there." Sighing, you shut your mouth, still curious about what might be going on all the way up there. After another few miles, you cast it out of your mind, intent on driving.


"I can't believe you eat stuff like this. It looks positively disgusting." Picking apart her cheap meal, Minoriko picks away the limp toppings. "This poor lettuce? What have those people done to it?"

"It was probably frozen and reheated a few times by accident. Or on purpose. I've never worked on that sort of job before." Shrugging your shoulders, you glance at the older sister who had already finished her food. "Was it that bad, though? It's not like we had much of a choice on what to eat if we wanted to keep moving."

Shizuha just shakes her head. "Maybe not as bad as what sister implies, but it certainly tasted? Half done. As if it were thrown together at the last minute."

"Well, that is the general idea." Shrugging, you tossed your own wrapper in the paper bag. "At the least we're past Asheville. Once we get through the mountains, its smooth sailing."

"So you hope." Minoriko eyes you with just as much distaste as she eyes the food, tepidly taking a bit from it before verbally choking. "Nasty stuff? I thought I was supposed to be the one cooking?"

"One, we're no longer in my home, so such a thing hardly applies." Holding up another finger, you shoot her a glance before looking back, dearly wanting to keep your eyes on the road. "Two, how would you propose to cook when we're riding down the road? As far as I know, you had to make all of the food that we ate manually, so I don't believe your powers involve summoning a five course meal to eat."

The girl just huffs and looks down in silence. As you drive along the road, you unconsciously rub your arms. "?Whoever that man was right, though. It's already getting mighty cold up here?"

"Sure you're not just used to the mountain air? We've already gone up quite a long ways from your home. You may just need the time to adjust."

After a moment, you shake your head at Shizuha. "Hardly. I wasn't cold back in Asheville, even for the little bit that I managed to persuade Minoriko to wear her shoes. Not that it was worth it, considering the general reaction to the food?"

"Such drivel that you have purchased for me barely counts as food! Why, if you had merely let me attempt to school them in the proper methods of cooking?"

"We would be stuck there for the rest of the day, and we might get caught. Not worth the risk. We can slow down once we pass Knoxville. Until then?" You shrug as you start to climb even higher into the mountains, your ears popping after a quarter hour of driving. "?Always hated that part."

"Which part?" Glancing over, you imagine that you see Shizuha's breath as she stares at you curiously? "Slowing down after the next big town?"

"Oh, no. Just the popping of the ears. Annoying thing. Been a while since I've traveled back, so I didn't even think about it." At her nonplussed look, you look at the two. "Why do you ask? Ya'll not have to deal with it?"

As her sister looks down in contemplation, Minoriko answers for her. "I guess not, if you're having to explain it. Although, we're used to flying all of the time. That, and since we're not human?" She grins triumphantly at you, causing you to roll your eyes. "We don't have to deal with such trivialities."

"If you say so, Minoriko." Sighing, you continue to drive along through the forests that are half covered in leaves and half bare. While Shizuha seems to be watching them in some sort of distress, she doesn't say anything as you instead are growing concerned by the breath that you see coming from your own mouth. "Alright. Something has to be going on. It's never this cold this early."

While you turn the heat on, Minoriko glances at Shizuha. "?We know this chill. There's only really one answer." Out of nowhere, the girl begins to crack her knuckles. "And I can't wait to say hello?"

Shizuha finally looks up at the popping of her sister's joints before glaring at her a moment later. "Don't be ridiculous, Minoriko! It could still be ghosts of some sort. We may not have found a nexus yet."

"You know it's not, Shizuha. If it were the ice fairy, [i]everything[i] would be frozen in order to make the land this cold. And you've not felt a ghost's presence. This is something that was left behind."

Shizuha seems to sigh. "And yet, why are you so eager to fight her? We've hardly the energy to spare."

"For this, I always have the energy to spare." After a few moments, Minoriko looks across her sister and at you. "Now, stop this vehicle. I am going to see the source of this cold, as I know exactly who it is."

[ ] Don't do it.
-[ ] It's not worth the wait. Who knows how long it will take the proud girl to finish the job.
-[ ] You've got family that you need to be checking on. "Now that you're thinking about it, shouldn't you call?
[ ] Do it.
-[ ] Remind her that this is more than just a 'vehicle'. She has a name.
-[ ] At least she won't complain as much. Even if you have thick skin, it'll thin sooner or later.


You should be careful when you assume. Bad things happen to people who assume too much. Ask Margatroid. She knows.
Good thing you we don't have to worry about minefields, eh?
>Ask Margatroid
[X] Don't do it.
-[X] You've got family that you need to be checking on. "Now that you're thinking about it, shouldn't you call?

>Ask Margatroid. She knows.
Tempt us not into Bad End once more, that we may rewind everything ALL THE WAY.

By the way, are we doing the same thing here once we reach Z?
That's the general idea. Same rules as before. Although, the first Bad End I didn't mind. The second one irked me, though.
[X]do it but go with her
[x]grab a crow bar for protection
[X] Do it.
-[X] Remind her that this is more than just a 'vehicle'. She has a name.
-[X] Warn her not to overextend herself - she's not in Kanzas Gensokyo anymore.
File 13595766845.jpg - (488.48KB, 678x1174 , PCB - What winter left behind.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Don't do it.
-[x] You've got family that you need to be checking on. "Now that you're thinking about it, you should call the next time you stop. Calling while driving is too risky on these mountain roads.

>"This is something that was left behind."
Pic related.

>Tempt us not
Don't blame the author for your own misguided sense of morbid curiosity. You and the rest of the bandwagon are responsible for screwing us over for the rest of that story.
[x] Slow down.
-[x] I won't do something that would get you or ourselves hurt, you're not on Kansas Gensokyo anymore.
--[x] Who is this person and how dangerous/reasonable it is.
---[x] Too dangerous for you, the truck or the sisters? Leg it.
---[x] Might be open to negotiate / Minoriko won't dropkick her at sight? Stop and meet the winter (do you have a coat or jacket for this?)
-[x] Make a note to check on your family and call them next time you stop.

Too many unkowns, they better explain who we're dealing with (so we don't make assumptions).
[X] Don't do it.
-[X] You've got family that you need to be checking on. "Now that you're thinking about it, shouldn't you call?

If Letty/whatever's causing the cold attacking, we defend otherwise, we try to avoid her. Minoriko's far too proud for her (and our) own good.
Eh, seems to be some indecision, so I'll wait a while longer before calling the vote.

Sorry to say there is no crowbar. There is a tire iron under the hood if you do need something.
[X] Do it.
-[X] Remind her that this is more than just a 'vehicle'. She has a name.
It appears that we have a tie. A tiebreaker is needed. Unless you want me to go to the old standby of flip a coin, and hope it doesn't land on the edge.
[X] Do it.
-[X] Remind her that this is more than just a 'vehicle'. She has a name.
-[X] Warn her not to overextend herself.

Letty's not going to catch you. You're on a mission from God gods - two of them, even!

[X] Put on your sunglasses.
"Do it" means stopping the truck and Minoriko picking a fight. Basically poking the bees' nest.

It's a slightly modified quote from the Blues Brothers.
File 136012812668.jpg - (162.99KB, 500x706 , miss letty feels we needed a color that is cool.jpg) [iqdb]
[-l-] Do it.
-[-l-] Remind her that this is more than just a 'vehicle'. She has a name.
-[-l-] You've got family that you need to be checking on. Remember to call next chance you have.


Grumbling under your breath, you slowly nod to the woman. "If you insist. I'd much rather that we not get in a fight, but I figure that you'll complain the whole time if you don't get the chance to go, won't you?"

Minoriko shoots you a wide grin, and you hear her cracking her knuckles. "Most likely. But it's good to mess with that one whenever I've the chance. She needs to be reminded of a few things?"

Sighing greatly, you don't know whether to scream or roll your eyes. "Mind you, I don't want to get in a fight. If you do, I'll just leave you up here on the mountain and you'll have to get down on your own."

"I can manage well enough on my own." Minoriko hardly seems phased by the answer, but she does desist from another spiel, instead looking outside. "So, why are we not stopping?"

"Because I am waiting until we get to somewhere we can pull off. I'm not going to just get onto the side of the road and let you run off like some hooligan." Resisting the urge to rib Minoriko even more for her griping, you instead drive along for another half of a mile into pulling off onto a small rest area, parking the truck in a safe spot. "Oh, and mind you. This vehicle does have a name."

"Whatever you say. Swear you're just like the kappa." The moment you come to a complete stop, Minoriko clicks open the buckle and throws the belt off before leaping out of the truck. Without even waiting for you to venture forth with her, she disappears up over the curb and into the woods.

"Don't worry. They won't do too much." Shaking her head at her sister's actions, Shizuha slips out of the truck while you make sure it is put into park. "She has been rather miffed at Letty for a few years now. Sister has always been susceptible to slight insults, even unintentional. And she can hold a grudge like few others."

"In other words, she's a lovely girl. Just as I've always suspected." Shizuha does not reply to your sarcasm. Instead, she waits for you as you lock everything up before leading you into the bush, taking the same trail her sister took.

Shaking your head, you wish you had bothered to bring a jacket as you cross your arms, shivering from the chill that was covering the land. As you walk through the mountain forests and eventually come to the road, you wonder whether you should bother to ask Shizuha anything else about this girl.

However, that will hardly matter. By the time you get to them, you figure you'll have a fight on your hands that you'll have to try and break up. Especially if this other is similar to Minoriko in any respect. However, you instead just clench your fists and your teeth, preparing for whatever it is that may come.

Seemingly, Shizuha knows exactly where her sister is, even though the latter dashed off into the woods unseen. The supposed goddess leads you out of the woods to an old road that eventually leads under the highway once more. No other cars run across you, which is fortunate on the small lanes. As you come out the other side and walk for a few more minutes, you come out on the edge of a lake.

Looking out on the edge of the dock, you see Minoriko staring down yet another woman in strange clothes and with even stranger hair. That is all you can see from this far off, but there is little more that you can notice, as the cold is getting quite intense. When you bother to look down as the two of you approach the dock, you notice that there is a sheen of ice coating everything about you, including the water of the lake.

Minoriko, of course, is busy shooting off her mouth at the woman on the edge of the dock. "What do you think you're doing? It is hardly your time of year to be intruding! On top of that, you're positively freezing over this mountaintop!"

The woman finally turns her head about, perhaps sensing the company that is now joining. "I am making myself comfortable, little harvest. I'd hate to be sweltering in these times, and these mountains are not quite as cold as I am used to." Leaning back, she faces to the two of you. Curiously enough, she has this otherworldly air about her, along with an aged face that once may have been perfect, but now no longer is. "Although, not all of the company is terrible. Greetings, quiet leaf."

"Hello, Letty." Even though she is shivering as much as you, Shizuha walks up towards the girl, standing opposite of her sister. "Enjoying yourself all the way up here? It has been a fair while since we've been in the mountains, instead of the other way around."

"A few decades, no?" Smiling slightly, her eyes fade over to you, and you can't help but to stare back. "?Is it that time again? Need the faith from another villager, and need to prove yourselves?" At that, she stands up and stretches to her full height, towering over the sisters and looking you straight in the eye. "That might explain why the ornery one decided to approach me first, then. I'd hate to ruin the theatrics, but it appears that I have already done so."

At the thought, Minoriko lets out a derisive snort. "Hardly. He doesn't even believe what we are. We've a long way from even considering him as a prospect? It hardly matters anyways, what with the new goddesses on the mountaintop."

Letty finally lets go of your gaze, and you manage to catch your breath after realizing that you held it the entire time. She turns to face the younger girl, the former's lips curing into a smile. "So, why are you bothering me? It may be autumn everywhere, but there is no reason to deny me a little bit of winter to keep myself comfortable."

"That is not the point! Is there not somewhere else that you can go? There are some other places that are much closer to your natural clime, surely." Crossing her own arms, Minoriko glares back up at Letty, who does nothing more than smile wider. "There is no need for you to stay down here, sitting on a dock the whole time."

"Who says I've been here the whole time? I was just reminded of home for a second, and that unnatural fairy." The woman's lips curled into an unusual combination of a smile and frown before shaking her head. "Bothers. But I have been traveling north the entire time. Some local mentioned of a land full of snow, syrup, and men who play a game on ice that involves beating each other with sticks." Chuckling at the rather confused look on Minoriko's face, the woman shrugs her shoulders. "Granted, he was rather drunk at the time, so I can't quite be sure."

Shaking your head, you finally decide to insert yourself into the conversation. "It's stereotypical, and the game doesn't go quite like that, but it's a lot colder up there than down here. Unless you decide to go all the way up to Alaska, I doubt you'll find anything as cold." Well, there are the poles as well, but that goes without saying.

"Maybe I'll head up there, soon. Might be nice, not needing to stay in the same old cave all of the time." Stretching noticeably while looking at you, Letty finally turns her eyes to the older of your two companions. "But not now. Perhaps you can come sit with me, leaf? It might be nice to share stories of what has happened since we came here."

Shizuha looks back at you for one moment before shaking her head and turning towards Letty. "I'm afraid not. We have caused our friend here trouble, and are accompanying him to his family's home. One day we need to repay him, so I'm afraid I have to turn your offer down."

Again, Letty turns her eyes to you, her eyes sparkly in interest. "Indeed? I can imagine Minoriko causing one problems, but not you, Shizuha." After a moment, she laughs softly and looks down. "Unless it was to help Minoriko that you did it. You're usually quite unobtrusive."

Minoriko grits her teeth once more and takes a step towards Letty, looking straight up in her face. "What are you trying to imply by that statement? I'm hardly like that at all, and you know it."

"Do I? I apologize, as I hadn't realized that it was an impostor that attacked me that summer a few years ago."

"That was because your cold ruined the spring crops! I barely had enough power left after reviving the majority of the village's farms to stay corporeal, much less participate in the harvest fest later in the year!"

Letty sighs before shaking her head. "You do realize that was the fault of the ghost princess that time? I had nothing to do with that."

"Not that time!" Sighing, Minoriko pokes at the side of the girl. "The previous year! When all of those demon travelers came up from Makai! You went out and made sure we had a cold spell after that."

"Ah." Recognition coming to her eyes, Letty takes off her hat for a moment, revealing hair that cannot be natural by any definition. "Well, do remember that a gate to a type of hell was opened up. Someone had to cool down the land, afterwards." You swear you see a rather mischievous grin on her face for a moment, but it disappears beneath a benign smile. "Perhaps I merely overdid it at one point?"

Shizuha just shakes her head. "Last I checked, you merely controlled the cold, and were unable to create it. That sounds rather unlike something you would accidentally do."

"And have you ever accidentally kicked a house and had the shingles come off?" The older girl doesn't reply, but you see a hint of a blush cross her face. Letty however turns away from her and looks at Minoriko. "But have you not taken this mishap up with me before? It seems familiar to me."

"I have, but that's because every time you bring it up, either one of those fairies that follow you around pelt me with a snowball or you just change the subject."

By now, you've had enough. Minoriko is building herself into a rage, and you'd hardly like to see her erupt into one that would cause the two to start fighting. Especially considering that you don't want to know how much this ability the woman possesses is capable of doing. "Enough, Minoriko. We need to get going, and fast. We don't want to have anybody catching up to us, now do we?"

The shortest of the three glares back at you for a moment, betrayal covering her face, before letting her shoulders droop. "Fine. But this isn't the last you've heard of me."

"Perhaps." Letty once again glances at you as Minoriko starts to march away, pausing halfway through her motion and nearly falling over on the ice. "But I'm rather curious. And I would like to catch up with the leaf, once we have the time? I'm sure you must be interesting company as well, Mr. Human."

Again, the otherworldly presence of the girl becomes quite noticeable, and you feel something in the back of your head telling you to back away. "That is hardly the point. If you're so fond of the cold, I'm afraid where we're heading is only going to get warmer."

"I have heard of those devices that you use to create the cold." A look of distaste shadows her face, but it disappears in a flash. "Unnatural, but quite effective? And enjoyable, if I do say so myself."

[ ] Take her with you. Might be useful to have someone with a tangible power.
[ ] Don't. You have the other two, and you don't want to stick one in the back.
[ ] Insist that Shizuha and Minoriko can stay. You can make it all the way on your own, and then they won't have any evidence to hold against you.
[x] Take her with you. Might be useful to have someone with a tangible power.

This way she and Shizuha can talk on top of the possible help.

Minoriko? Well she can just deal with it.
[X] Tell her that you don't mind either way if she follows you or not, but if she does, she would have to bear with Minoriko all the way, and vice versa. Leave the final decision up to her.
[x] Take her with you. Might be useful to have someone with a tangible power.

Hm. Why not? Maybe show her a map, give her an idea of where she needs to go.
[x] Don't. You have the other two, and you don't want to stick one in the back.

Letty stands out more than the Aki sisters. Also, don't we drive a three seater?
[X] Take her with you. Might be useful to have someone with a tangible power.

You must gather your party before venturing forth.
[X] Take her with you. Might be useful to have someone with a tangible power.
[x] Tell her that you don't mind either way if she follows you or not, but if she does, she would have to bear with Minoriko all the way, and vice versa. Leave the final decision up to her.

Not making executive decisions is wise when keeping company with those possessing unknown power.
[x] Tell her that you don't mind either way if she follows you or not, but if she does, she would have to bear with Minoriko all the way, and vice versa. Leave the final decision up to her.

This looks like the saner option.
File 136068388867.png - (874.99KB, 650x857 , delegation has its own dangers.png) [iqdb]
[-m-] Take her with you. Might be useful to have someone with a tangible power.


Shrugging your shoulders, you turn back to head to your truck. "Might as well come with me. Not as if I have enough to take care of, as it is." As you walk away, you breathe a sigh of relief as the odd presence is lifted from your shoulders. "Mind you, there's probably not going to be enough room in the cab. So we'll have to figure something out when we'll get there. As for air conditioners, it is plenty cold enough as it is."

"I'm hardly addicted to them. And it could be much nicer weather than the current warmth." Walking off of the dock, leaving Minoriko sitting there fuming all the while, Letty follows after you. "Although, I know something I can do with the cold, so the little harvest shan't have a reason to complain."

Not even bothering to look back, you continue walking along as Minoriko makes a point of hurrying past all of you. "Insufferable snow wench. If I had even a smidgen of the old power at my hands?" The younger of the two sisters runs ahead, continuing to mutter under her breath.

While you continue to walk, the other sister comes up alongside you. Shooting her a look, she seems ready to answer you. Unfortunately, you have no desire to ask her question, feeling somewhat cross. With a sigh, Shizuha begins to speak. "They are not always like that, you know. Goddesses don't find it easy to forgive and forget."

"Sounds more like a human, in that case. And she's a bit easily led about by the nose, especially if she lets that anger get to her." Looking at the Minoriko's back as she quickly strides up the road, you shake your head.

"That's my job as the elder sister, is it not? I need to make sure that my younger sibling doesn't manage to bring the wrath of the land down on her head." Laughing softly, she looks away for a moment. "?You still do not believe my words."

"Afraid I don't." You manage to spare a glance at the cold woman as she follows along, feigning interest in the passing trees. "Is this woman supposed to be one as well? If you have some sort of deal worked out?"

Turning away from you, Shizuha shakes her head. "No, she is not. She is just a snow woman. Yuki-onna." Pausing for a moment, she speaks to you in a low tone. "She is a youkai."

You simply raise an eyebrow at the phrase. "Don't know what that means. But that just answers my question." At Shizuha's interested and somewhat hopeful look, you continue. "How can you be a goddess if there are regular people that are stronger than you? Doesn't make too much sense, I'm afraid."

Out of the corner of your eye, you catch that old, tired look that flashes across her face. In an instant, the trick of the light is gone, and Shizuha just sadly looks down. "Maybe that was her plan. Or at least part of it. Make it so the only place we could survive for long was one where we had to interact as equals. A few centuries ago, the thought?" Biting her lip, she looks back up. "Idle thought. Something I indulge in far too much."

Before you can probe her, you hear the woman that is following the two of you clear her throat. "It is done. The harvest goddess should have nothing more to complain about now." Letty shoots the two of you a small grin when you look back at her. "It should also solve the little problem you spoke of, so it is a win-win for us all."

"?Whatever you say." Even as you speak, you notice that the faint clouds of mist that you had breathed out before have disappeared. While you don't yet feel warmer, the air touching your arms is not quite as cool as it was before. "Although, I doubt it will bring peace and quiet."

"Of course not. That goddess is too proud. At least she had something to back it up before her followers left her." The woman shrugs her shoulders before smiling in her unsettling manner. "But those were different times. Now, Mr. Human, are we going to walk all the way to your destination?"

"Hardly. It's just through these woods?" Shaking your head, you quickly walk away from Letty, putting as much distance as possible between the two of you while trying to stay sedate. "She better not have gotten lost. I'd not want to find Minoriko in all of this. We're behind schedule as it is."

"She won't get lost. When it comes to knowing the land, there are few that would know it better." Well, there might be more ways than one to know the land, so you don't even bother asking her about it. Instead, you keep walking until you get to the truck, where the girl is waiting for you.

Minoriko says nothing as the three of you finally catch up, instead glaring at you while resting her hands on her hips. It takes you a moment to fiddle in your bucket before extracting the keys and unlocking the truck. Before you let the girl in, though, you turn around to face the others. "Now, here's the problem. We don't have enough room. So either one of you is going to have to sit on another's lap, or you're going to have to take a ride in the back."

Finally, Minoriko expressed her ire. "Well, it sure isn't going to be me. Let the wench go ahead and sit in the back of your vehicle." Immediately you shoot her a glare, and she mollifies her speech slightly. "Fine. Lisa. Whatever." At that, she proceeds to climb inside, waiting for a decision to be made.

Shaking your head, you turn back to the others. "Alright. Well, It's going to be?" It takes you a moment to realize the older sister is no longer there. Looking about, you find her sitting in the back of the truck, smiling somewhat impishly. "?Well, I guess you've already decided. You sure about that?"

"Naturally. I don't mind it. I'm used to minding my own for long segments of time. And you needn't mind my health back here, at least." Glancing away, she slides down, her head the only part visible from where you stand. "I can take quite a bit more punishment than you can."

"If you say so." Shrugging it off, you glance at the other girl to tell her that she can get in. However, it seems that this Letty has already taken advantage of your generosity and slid into the cab, shoving Minoriko over into the middle.

As you shake your head and walk around to your side of the truck, you hear Shizuha's voice. "Besides, this way you can have those two provide you company. I am sure that you will enjoy it."

Sighing shortly, you climb back inside as your lips thin. She may claim to be a goddess, but that girl's devilish side is far more readily apparent as far as you are concerned.


It is to your greatest relief that the two disagreeable women are silent for most of the way down the mountain. You already have to drive slower than you would prefer because the cargo in the bed, so the constant snipes back and forth would have driven you mad.

Instead, the two have descended into a rather ironic cold silence as Minoriko pointedly ignores the one to her right. It almost would make you laugh how focused she is on the road ahead if not for the harsh glares she would send your way every time a wayward breath left your mouth.

The newest companion seemed to not be nearly as frigid, instead curiously looking over the truck. A few times you felt her eyes on the side of your head, but you made no motion towards speaking with the girl. You may not be as bothered by her as Minoriko, but the thought of raising the ire of either of the girls was enough to stay your tongue.

Instead, she spent the majority of the trip with the window rolled down, her head leaning out the side of it as the still cool air whipped in everyone's faces. It is fortunate that even if she knew of what the air conditioner was, she did not know how to operate it.

Eventually, you manage to drive down the mountain and into the valley proper. Once the road stops winding as much as it had high in the mountain, you look over at Letty. "Hey. I'm rolling up the window; I need to make a call."

The woman glances back at you, lazily raising an eye. "I don't think that anyone can hear you if you do. The wind is quite loud enough, so unless your voice is that of a sparrow's, you're not going to be heard."

Sighing, you shake your head. "Not literally. Just roll it up real quick. I need to make this short." After a moment, the girl relents and raises her head from the windowsill. As you roll it up, you hear Minoriko give off a small sigh of relief that you are rather inclined to echo.

Once you are driving on a straight and calm stretch of the road, you manage to wrangle your phone out of the pocket. Once the ancient brick is retrieved, you flip it open and dial in numbers with one hand while keeping your eyes on the road. "Starting to worry why they've not called back. May have just been an idle thought?" Once it's done and it begins dialing, you put it up against your ear as the other two watch.

The emerging frown on your face deepens as it continues to ring until going straight to voicemail. "Great? But it is Sunday, and rather early? They probably just missed the call." Sighing, you wait until it goes to voicemail. "Hey. Just called. Heading to Lexington; wanted to know whether or not you wanted to meet in Knoxville for a bit. Seeya."

As you flip it down, still frowning, Minoriko speaks for the first time in a long while. "Seems like whatever you just tried failed. Unless you have some sort of servant that took a message."

"Heh." Snorting, you take a moment to answer. "A mechanical one, you might call it. But I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. They did call yesterday. Might not be expecting me to call back now?"

Tilting her head, the girl continues to speak. "Didn't you say we were going to some other city? Changing your mind already?"

"No. Just keeping my story straight? Just in case that anyone is following. The road is oddly clear, even for this time of day." Checking your rearview mirror, the nearest car that you can see is probably a mile or two behind you. "If anyone came looking for us, it wouldn't be hard to find."

"It is going to be rather hard for any to follow the way you came, I do believe." Taking a short glance, you notice a smug grin on the face of the odd woman.

Shaking your head, you turn your eyes back to the road. "Maybe. But we'll still need to get where we're going first." After a few moments, you sigh and reach for the radio. "Best just to keep it on, just in case that there is anything else going on."

The others settle in as you turn the radio back on before scanning around for a news station. It takes a while, but you manage to find it once the station finally comes off of the commercials. Unfortunately, the identification only lasts long enough for them to go back to more commercials.

After taking a deep breath and easing the frustration away, you wait until the news comes back on. Nothing raises your eyebrow asides from the mention of a series of wilting vineyards across the sea in France. "Must be a slow news day?"

A few moments later, the station pauses to shift to the traffic report. "?All lanes on Forty are shut down in the Appalachians due to a large rockslide in the area. The recent extreme cold seems to have finally caused the mountain to crack, and all lanes both east and westbound are currently closed. Multiple vehicles seem to have been hit by the rocks or fallen victim to cracked and icy roadways. No injuries have yet been reported."

"?Perhaps I may have been a bit too successful. I only intended to destroy part of that road." Shrugging nonchalantly, Letty stretches out. "No matter. At least you've nothing to worry about if they can't follow after."

"?Wait. So you're telling me that you went out of your way to possibly kill others?" Ridding the mountains of the unnatural cold was one thing, but that? Not like you could have stopped her from doing it, but the sheer thought? "Why in the world would you have done that? We weren't in that big of a hurry."

Shooting you a lazy glance, Letty shrugs once more. "The cold had to go somewhere. I control it. I don't create or destroy it. I had to move it somewhere, so I moved it where it might be of use to me." A soft laugh breaks the silence after her words. "I hate to have all my work lost for no reason, after all."

It takes you a moment to respond. "Something tells me that you have your priorities mixed up if a bit of cold is more important than the others that were driving along. How can you be so blas??"

"Because it doesn't matter in the long run. It delays those that pursue you. I am curious to see what you plan to do. On the run with the two sisters of autumn? The very thought is amusing." Before you can respond, she continues. "Do you plan to kick me out, then? After all, the voice merely spoke that more vehicles had been hit, not that anyone had been killed."

[ ] "Yes, actually. Get the hell out of my truck. We are already in enough trouble.
[ ] Best to keep you here where I can keep my eyes on you. No telling what you may do otherwise.
[X] Best to keep you here where I can keep my eyes on you. No telling what you may do otherwise.

Oh wow, ice-cold Letty, I like that.
Jesus Christ, why is everybody we meet assholes.
[X] Best to keep you here where I can keep my eyes on you. No telling what you may do otherwise.
-[X] Ask her to be subtle, if possible. You're trying to avoid attention here.
[x] Best to keep you here where I can keep my eyes on you. No telling what you may do otherwise.
-[x] Ask her to be subtle, if possible. You're trying to avoid attention here.

Different value systems for non-humans.
hey Shizuha isn't an asshole at all. Letty just seems very pragmatic.

[X] Best to keep you here where I can keep my eyes on you. No telling what you may do otherwise.
[X] Best to keep you here where I can keep my eyes on you. No telling what you may do otherwise.

Letty's used to Gensokyo (not that Elroy knows anything about that) where she could pretty much do stuff like this and only have to worry about a thump on the head from the local shrine maiden. I suspect she doesn't have nearly so much leniency on the outside, and just hasn't yet figured out that she needs to keep her head down.
[X] Best to keep you here where I can keep my eyes on you. No telling what you may do otherwise.

Neat update!
File 136096262175.gif - (1.20MB, 2048x1536 , anybody home?.gif) [iqdb]
[-n-] Best to keep you here where I can keep my eyes on you. No telling what you may do otherwise.


The thought does linger in your head for a while. Would you want to be associated with this person anymore than is necessary? The callousness in her voice weighs heavily on you, and you can't help but to wonder what it is that she hopes to accomplish by staying with you.

Then again? She is Shizuha's friend for a reason. There have to be some redeeming feature. Although, you've yet to find much of one with the girl's sister, so such a hope might be too much. Shaking your head, you turn back to the road. "No. You can stay here." One last time, you cut your eyes towards her. "No telling what it is that you'll do if you leave. Best to keep my eyes on you, just in case."

"I am quite used to such a thing, even if I haven't had it often in the last few decades." You can almost feel the frigid smile that she sends you way. "I'm surprised that you haven't brought it up, little harvest."

Before Minoriko can say anything, you cut her off. "Enough. I don't want to hear any more of this. Just stay quiet until we get home. I'd rather not deal with any more of that." After a moment, you can't help but to add, "You can't do stuff like that, Letty. If the ones following us know that you did it, and I am associated with you, we'll all be in a load of trouble."

"Whatever you say. But I'm sure there won't be much trouble. The humans have always known to be careful about where I live. I'm sure they could be taught that if I needed to." Stretching again, she finally removes her gaze from you.

"You're not helping your case." At least the two supposed gods didn't act as if they were superior to you. Well, much. "Just? Let's just sit here and let me drive. Just a few more hours?"


Fortunately, there were no more distractions on the rest of your trip. Even though your stomach demands sustenance just as your legs dearly want to be stretched, you manage to continue driving the entire way, without bothering to stop.

The two girls seem to actually listen to you for once. Nothing in the cab of the truck makes a sound until you bother to turn the radio back on. The news just constantly repeats the same lines through the rest of the trip, as there hasn't been anything else to happen yet. You are relieved by the reports on the lack of deaths caused by the rockslide. Not that it matters if they hold it against you, but it is one small plus, at least.

You do manage to take a few glances back at the passenger in the rear of your truck. She still is lying against the back of the cab, staring at the landscape as it passes by. You don't know how she could manage to stay out there all of this time, especially without anything to do. Not once has she even knocked on the window to get your attention to take a break.

Shaking your head, you continue along the side road, slowing down for the first time in a long while. The old side streets are not that busy at this time of day, as most should be getting ready for supper about now.

Light peeks through the trees about you as you turn onto a smaller side road, and then once more onto a gravel driveway. The rocks crunch beneath the tires as you wind into the forest. Slowly, an old two-story house finally comes into view at the end of the driveway. A few cars are parked in the driveway, along with the old camper that has been sitting there for years on end. The house itself is quiet, with no lights on in the shadowy woods.

"Hrm. At least they should be here. I hadn't heard about them getting a new car, at least?" Minoriko gives a start at your words, but she says nothing as you finally pull to a stop. "Might just be watching something. Still a bit early for that, though."

Leaving the thought alone for now, you get out of the truck and finally stretch for the first time in a while. After popping a few of your joints, you finally take a look around. The ground is mostly covered with leaves, with what little grass that is visible wilting in the chilly air. While unkempt, the grounds don't look to be in too poor of a condition, even if the lawn mower and a rake have been left sprawled near the front door.

Shaking your head, you turn around to assist Shizuha out of the back, only to find that she has already gotten out. Shaking your head, you just give her and her sister a firm look. "Slippery little devil, aren't you? I'm going to need the lot of you to hang back, though. At least let me give them a warning that they'll have company."

Minoriko manages to not do anything sarcastic, instead just nodding her head. "Alright then. We'll just hang back here. Just tell us when we're welcome?" Her eyes dart over towards Letty. "About her?"

"That goes double for her." You fix your eyes on the tall woman. "Just stay back here for a moment. I don't want anyone getting the wrong idea."

"Do they think so lowly of you that they'd assume such a thing?" Letty tries to shoot you a wan smile in an attempt to mollify you, but she lets it fade after it doesn't work. "Very well. It isn't as if I've much to do now, do I?"

"No, you don't." After making sure that they aren't following, you walk up the gravel pathway to the front door. Before knocking, you take a moment to check if there is anything wrong. After spending a few seconds, the only thing that you see wrong with the door is that it needs a new coat of paint.

Shaking off your worries, you raise your hand and knock on the door. No one answers, so you wait fifteen seconds before knocking again. Still no one does, so you repeat it one more time. After no one comes, you do it again, and then you knock on it one last time.

"Please tell me they're busy?" Starting to get a bit worried, you fish out the keys from your pocket and stick them in the lock, quickly opening the door. Taking a glance at the interior, you notice that the rug right in front of the door is off center, as if someone had knocked it out of the way while running. Another quick look has your eyes falling on the wall left of the door, where a hole has been punched in the drywall at the same height as the doorknob.

The signs are getting too clear. Looking back at the others, you shout out to them. "Get in here! I need you to help me look!" Turning back around, you don't even wait for them to get through the door before taking a turn to the left, shouting out the whole time. "Ma! Pa! You two here? Anybody?"

The first room you come to is empty, with two chairs pushed to the side and the table in the sitting room off kilter as well. Dashing through and into the living room, you find that nothing is out of place, although nobody is here as well. Continuing your run around the first floor, you find all is the same. The kitchen is empty. The dining room is empty. The bathroom is empty. The guest room is empty. Nobody is here.

By now, you've made it to the entrance once again, where the three girls are standing around. Before they can bother to ask, you shout at them once more. "They're not here. I need you to check and make sure I didn't miss them."

You might be overreacting, but this is just too much. You're much too paranoid, especially after seeing the little things that have been damaged. Running up the stairs, you begin to check each and every room up there, but it is just more of the same. Empty rooms with nobody inside.

Eventually, you come to a rest in your parent's bedroom, having checked inside the master bath and the closet, just in case. "Not here? All the cars are here. Hole in the wall, and the rug messed up? Ma would never have let that stand, not in the least. Where could they be?"

As you continue to think, you hear the footsteps of the three as they march up the stairs, the familiar sound sparking old memories. However, you shove them down, as now is hardly the time to reminisce. "Why would they be gone? Shouldn't they be waiting for me, if they were to go so far?"

Any other rumination is cut off as you hear a loud thump echo from the closet. Your head snaps up as you stare at the room that you know to be empty. There was no way that they could have fit in there. That, and the other girls couldn't have gotten in from there.

Staring at the entrance to the closet, you barely notice Shizuha stick her head in the doorway. "Hey? We've yet to find anyone. Are they not simply out? Just because they aren't here at this moment?"

"Doesn't matter to me. Just feeling so paranoid. "Plus, I think something is still here." Glancing at her, wait for a moment before asking, "Have the other two been up here for long? Or on the other end of the hall?"

"Sister is currently using the bathroom. "Letty remained downstairs, as she didn't feel that anyone was here." Shizuha shakes her head after a moment. "Are you sure that there is someone else here?"

You shrug your shoulders, turning back to the closet. "Pretty sure. It's either that, or a raccoon got into the ventilation and chose this time to make a noise." Turning your eyes back to the entrance to the closet, you let your lips thin. "Gonna need to go and check once more."

[ ] Go yourself. Your old home, so it's your responsibility to check yourself.
[ ] Get Letty. Have her freeze whatever is in there out.
[ ] Get Minoriko. Maybe have something grow and trap whatever is there?
[ ] Let Shizuha blow leaves at it? That is a bit of a useless power, isn't it...
[x] Go yourself. Your old home, so it's your responsibility to check yourself.
[x] Go yourself. Your old home, so it's your responsibility to check yourself.
[x] Have Shizuha come with in case something goes south
[x] Go yourself. Your old home, so it's your responsibility to check yourself.
[x] Have Shizuha come with in case something goes south.
[x] Go yourself. Your old home, so it's your responsibility to check yourself.
[x] Have Shizuha come with in case something goes south.
[-o-] Go yourself. Your old home, so it's your responsibility to check yourself.
[-o-] Have Shizuha come with in case something goes south.


Before you go running off into the closet, you glance back at the girl. "You better come with me. I'd rather have someone else to make sure I don't get eaten by what lurks there in the dark." Oddly enough, Shizuha winces at your words, but she follows along just as much.

Shrugging it off as an odd incident, you head towards the closet door, placing your hand on the handle and taking a deep breath. Waiting but a few seconds, glancing once more in order to check whether or not the girl was still following you, you open the door and head inside.

There isn't anything dramatically different about the closet once you enter it. There's a row of clothes to your left, and there's a row of clothes to your right. Nothing is really out of place, not that you remember what was in here.

Narrowing your eyes, you begin to push aside the hanging clothes, checking to see if anything was hiding between them. Once you take a closer look, you see that some are off-kilter, hanging on by only a sleeve. You glance back at Shizuha for a moment. "Someone has been here, at least. That, or the folks were in quite a hurry to leave."

She doesn't say anything in response, leaving you to finish searching the room. Oddly enough, there is nothing else that is there save for a few pairs of shoes that have been scattered to and fro. Turning back to the door, you shrug your shoulders. "I guess whatever it is must have left, or is in the ventilation."

"If you say so. "Not that I have any clue what a ventilation is, mind you." Shizuha smiles slightly at her quip before turning away to leave once more.

You almost follow after her before seeing a speck of dust fall in front of you, landing on Shizuha's shoulders. Curious, you watch as two more white flecks fall from the ceiling, one passing right in front of your face.

"Don't tell me?" Your eyes immediately rise to the ceiling, where you finally spot the noisy intruder. You see purple hair and a yellow dress of some kind, along with what appears to be wings.

Any inspection of the girl is cut off as a light forms in her cupped hands. You yell in surprise as you raise an arm to shade your eyes from the sudden light. Before you or Shizuha can do anything else, the light forms a pinprick before blasting at you, knocking you bodily to the floor. The moment your head whiplashes into the hard wood, the lights go out and you know no more.


Warmth is the first thing you feel as you try to regain consciousness. A heavy, sweltering heat that is causing beads to form on your forehead and slide off. You continue to lie there as you swim back to consciousness, with only the heat and the thumping of your blood to occupy yourself. The shooting pain in the back of your head hardly encourages you to move, either. Instead, you just continue to rest in the comforting embrace of what is apparently a bed.

A cold hand being placed on your forehead jars you from the sleepy state you are in. Forcing your eyes open, you see a blurry head looking down at you. "Hrm. Looks like someone's finally awake. Been a few hours, now."

Narrowing your eyes, you finally recognize the color of the girl's hair, even if the cold hand jogged your mind enough. "Letty? So, care to tell me what happened?"

"Business first, Elroy? Pity?" Watching her carefully, you realize that she has removed her scarf and her vest, and seems to be sweating much more than you are. "Well, it was just a little fairy infestation, it seems. All shocked, she was. We had to put her on ice the moment that the little harvest managed to catch her."

Interesting as that was, it still doesn't answer your question. "Not that? What hit me? I just remember a light, and then?"

"Oh, that." The woman laughs softly, sending chills down your spine unrelated to her cold hand. "Well, she hit you with a bit of her power, it seems. A laser from what the quiet leaf said. She seemed oddly nostalgic about the sight." At that, Letty wistfully looks away. "Must have been one of the stronger ones not to use ordinary bullets."

"There's something I'm? missing, isn't there?" Groaning slightly, you try and force yourself into a seated position, only to find the hand gripping your shoulder and preventing you from moving. "Let me up, would you kindly?"

"I'm afraid I am not allowed to. Your goddess friend was quite insistent on you not moving until she said so otherwise." The easy smile of the woman gets a bit wider. "I'm certain that you won't mind. Especially if I'm putting myself through so much heat in order to keep your little intruder frozen."

Blinking a bit, you tilt your head at the girl, wincing at the pain in the back of your head. "Were you literal when you said that you put the girl on ice?"

"Of course. Once they found a washbasin, it took very little effort to fill it up and place the fairy in before removing the heat." Letty shrugs after a moment. "She'll be fine? Even if dies, she'll respawn soon enough, back in Gensokyo. And that would be your problem solved."

[ ] No, you want to speak to this intruder yourself. You don't want to kill her, after all.
[ ] Maybe it'd be best to listen. Didn't she say Shizuha wanted you to remain here?


Sorry for the abbreviation of this update. Will try to get another one out tonight.
[X] Maybe it'd be best to listen. Didn't she say Shizuha wanted you to remain here?
[x] Maybe it'd be best to listen. Didn't she say Shizuha wanted you to remain here?

Let's not push ourselves too hard. And Shizuha (I assume) would know fairies better than us.
[x] Maybe it'd be best to listen. Didn't she say Shizuha wanted you to remain here?
-[x] "Do your best to keep her alive."

Too soon to be talking with freaking faeries.
[x] No, you want to speak to this intruder yourself. You don't want to kill her, after all.

Powers get weaker here. So could the fairy's revival process. Just thinking out loud here.
[x] Maybe it'd be best to listen. Didn't she say Shizuha wanted you to remain here?
-[x] "What do you mean, 'putting yourself through so much heat?'"

The MC doesn't yet know all about Letty's power, hence the secondary vote.
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[-p-] Maybe it'd be best to listen. Didn't she say Shizuha wanted you to remain here?


"Fine." Gritting your teeth, you lean your head back down and rest once more on the pillow. "Not that I particularly care for your opinion, but if the older sister thinks I should remain here, I'll listen to her."

"Hrm. That seems to be a problem. Men always have such a difficult time listening to my warnings." The woman just shakes her head and places a freezing hand back on your head, cooling you off even more. "It would be a pity if they did bother to listen to me, though. Always an amusing game."

Glancing up at her, you watch her expression as you ask, "Is that why you didn't care whether or not you could have killed anybody? Do their lives mean so little to you?"

Curiously enough, the woman merely shrugs her shoulders, answering the question for you. "Not in particular. The strangers that may or may not have been injured are, quite frankly, nothing. There are many men that wander into the mountains that I call home, from time to time. They would suffer terribly unless I run across them."

"That doesn't sound like the words of someone who doesn't care. You try and save them?"

Her smile merely gets wider as she meets your eyes. "In a manner of speaking, I do suppose. They would suffer horribly without my interference. Slowly freezing to death in the snow is quite a painful way to go, as you might very well imagine."

The light that appears in her eyes does not make you any less wary, and you find yourself starting to back away just slightly. "Something tells me that you do not mean to save their lives, do you?"

"Only the ones that I find interesting." She laughs softly, sitting down on the edge of the bed so that she need not reach to keep you cool. "Only those that are intriguing."

Considering that she is ensuring that she remains close to you, you, you give up on the retreat. Even if her presence is becoming more and more pressing as the seconds go by, you attempt to keep any of the growing worry from showing on your face. "What? What are you? You don't sound like you consider yourself a human."

"That's because I'm not. Shouldn't that be obvious?" Letty chuckles softly to herself, visibly amused by your reactions. "I am something that humans wished to forget, just as they wished to forget everything else that was mystical." Letty tilts her head to the side, her eyes sparkling in mirth. "Did not Shizuha tell you about the land that we are from?"

"She mentioned something along the lines of it being a preserve, a place where magic is kept alive."

The woman shakes her head before finally breaking eye contact, glancing away and lifting the weight from your shoulders. "I suppose that itself is correct. But the is a reason that it is locked away. Those who live there are quite dangerous? And a great many dislike your species."

"Really, now?" Heartened by the lack of attention she was currently paying you, you try to coax a bit more information from her. "That sounds rather interesting. And wouldn't you count yourself among them?"

"Hardly. I simply don't care in most case." After a moment, Letty fixes you with her gaze once more. "But there are those that have an active hate. And do remember that you've two goddesses with you. Think about what the devils that lurk in our home might be like."

"Considering that one of those goddesses is Minoriko, they'd probably be charming and polite, albeit horrible cooks." It takes a good deal of physical effort, but you manage to pull your eyes from her and instead look at the ceiling, not wanting to have that heavy feeling pressing on your shoulders once more. "However, you've not said what you are, though."

The woman laughs again before finally removing her hand from you. In one smooth motion, she slips from her seat and walks around to the foot of the bed. Letty watches you for a moment before placing her hands on the footboard and leaning down quite intentionally, especially considering that she is rather soaked in sweat. "I've had many names over the years. Many of which are rather ordinary, and ones that I gave myself." She pauses for a moment, seemingly relishing the silence she had caused. "However, I am referred to as a snow woman by many."

You manage to bite your tongue and not make any disparaging remarks along that line, as she might take such a thing nice. "Can't say I've ever heard of such a thing, so perhaps I am not one of those many. And Shizuha had said as much earlier, but I don't know what that means."

"Do you really want to know? Truly, ignorance is bliss. Just remember that I am a youkai that loves the cold, and you will understand enough." Her smile grows wider as she stands back at her full height. "Maybe we will be acquainted enough so that you may know me."

Before she can expound on that weighty statement, you hear footsteps pounding the stairs as two once again come closer. Wiping your forehead of the sweat that had been building up from more than just the heat, you manage to breathe a sigh of relief.

Moments later, the elder of the two sisters pokes her head around the doorjamb, looking at you both. "I hope that you haven't been too much of trouble to him, Letty. We only left you hear as your chill may help him."

"So it wasn't because you were embarrassed that you were unable to protect him?" Shizuha blushes as the woman's smile grows vicious for one second. "We were only having a few words. If you had taken any longer, I might have grown even better acquainted with him."

The supposed goddess's eyes flash at other's words before she closes them, taking a deep breath. "Don't get any funny ideas. I don't want you to be making a mess of things, and he needs to heal more than anything else."

Letty clucks her tongue before folding her hands behind her back. "Have I done anything that would hinder that? Not to mention that I have to sit here with this dreadful heat because I was keeping that fairy nice and immobile?"

"You can stop trying to. The ice already melted, so you must have forgotten to keep at it." Shaking her head, Shizuha glances at you, pointedly ignoring the sweltering woman. "Speaking of that fairy, she wanted to speak to you. Something about apologizing. For a species that is usually so scatterbrained, she didn't say much at all."

Shrugging, you pull yourself into a sitting position once more. You count yourself lucky that the pain is noticeably less, even if your head is still throbbing. "I'm hardly in a position to do anything else, so I'm not going to stop you."

The girl nods to you before looking back into the hall. "Come on in, now. If you're good, I'll have Minoriko untie you."

After a few moments, you hear shuffling in the hallway before a purple head emerges from the doorway. Unable to see anything else, you force your head up even higher so that you can peer down at the little person that is now in the room.

You don't say anything as you curiously watch the girl that is looking at the ground. Unlike any of the three girls that you had met, there is nothing muted about this fairy. A bright yellow dress along with purple hair and wings growing out of her back could hardly be overlooked. "How could I have missed that?"

The girl's head tilts up at your words and she returns the favor, looking at you rather curiously. After a moment, her eyes widen and she looks down, looking rather chagrined as a blush crosses her face. Nothing else happens for the next minute or so, with you merely watching her and she looking at the ground, still flanked by Shizuha and Minoriko.

[ ] So? you got a name?
[ ] Heh. So you're supposed to be a fairy?
[ ] Care to explain why you're here?
[ ] What was that you hit me with?
[ ] "Why can't anyone from this fantasy land wear something normal?
[x] So? you got a name?

Well, let's start off politely, see if she really wanted to apologize or was made to.
[X] So? you got a name?

Guess we can ask all the other options afterwards.
[X] So? you got a name?

Was your proofreader unavailable? I noticed quite a few things in this one.
I don't have one. Usually, I proofread my own stuff. I did pound this out last night so you all would have something, as I'm going to be unavailable for most of today.

That's what I get for rushing. Will do a better job next time.
[X] So? you got a name?
[x] So? you got a name?
[x] What did you hit me with?
[x] Heh. So you're supposed to be a fairy?

>weighty statement
Unintentional, but I lol'd anyway.
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[-q-] So? you got a name?


"So? You got a name?" You see no reason to continue the examination, and there is little you can ask without knowing before. Besides, it might set the girl a bit more at ease. Then you can ask her about that blast that she had apparently hit you with.

She looks back up at you, her eyes avoiding your face. In a voice that is firmer than her size would indicate, she answers. "Rengeteki. Just that. Never had a family name like you humans have, as I have no family."

You can't help but to wince a bit at her words. For all that you can see, she is a little girl, even with everything that is off about her. After considering her for a moment more, you sit up, ignoring the pain in your head. "Well, I'm Elroy. I'd say that it'd be nice to meet you?"

The fairy just blushes some, avoiding your eyes even more. "I understand. I was very? hasty. But there were men that took away the ones that lived here for questioning. They were nice people." She shakes softly, looking back up at you again. "I had thought they had come back for me. They were looking for me in the first place."

Shizuha looks over the fairy's head, glancing at you for a moment. "Sounds like the same that came looking for us. Anything strange or out of the ordinary?" Stopping for a moment, she looks back down at Rengeteki. "How long have you been here? It didn't take very long for them to realize that there was something strange going on at our companion's home?"

Taking a moment to rub her eyes, Rengeteki eventually answers. "About? a week, I believe. Maybe not that long. I appeared in the woods near here, and just flew along until I found my way here."

"Then it's for the best that we left when we did." Sighing, you look downwards at the old, worn comforter that covers you. "If they had come already to inspect? Maybe they would have come last night. I know that my family called yesterday, so it couldn't have been recently that they disappeared." Turning your head back to the fairy, you wait for her to confirm your suspicion.

"They did. Last night." She looks down again, darkness crossing the top of her face. "So you are part of their family. I injured?"

"Stop that." Grouchy and annoyed you may be, but you doubt that the fairy acted maliciously. "If it was an accident, then there's nothing too much to complain about. Even if my head is still aching."

To the side, Letty snorts under her breath. "Oh, I doubt that she even understands what an ache is. Most of those fairies respawn too quickly to even remember that pain is a word." A wicked grin crosses over her face as she also turns and stares down the fairy. "That only makes it a bit easier to get information out of her, doesn't it?"

Immediately backing away, Rengeteki looks up at the girl with a hint of fear in her eyes. "No, don't do that! I have nothing to hide? And I don't want to respawn. I don't want to forget."

"Letty, stop doing that. Bout makes it sound like you plan on killing her." None of the girls say anything for a few minutes, and the silence hangs heavy in the hot air. "Wait a second. When you said respawning, did you truly mean?"

The two sisters glance each other, the elder one sighing and shaking her head before offering a reply. "That is about the point. Fairies are immortal beings, but it doesn't mean they can be killed. Instead, when they die, they are reborn back at the particular place that they had spawned."

"?That must be some messed up fantasy land you live in." Grumbling under your breath, you turn a gimlet eye to all of the girls in the room before looking away in disbelief. "As far as I can tell, she looks just like a little girl. So where do you get off on talking about killing her."

"She would be fine. It's something that you wouldn't understand." Letty finally turns her cold gaze back towards you. "Humans might be fragile and prone to dying, but such a thing isn't as much a problem." Snorting softly, she stands up and moves away. "Even if death were a problem, many of the dead roam the land, just as content as those whom are not." Heading towards the door, she grabs her vest and scarf, tossing them over her shoulder. "I'm going to be leaving now. It's much too warm in here, and he seems perfectly fine. I will be around if you desire to look for me."

The moment she is gone, you can't help but to sigh a bit in relief. "Lovely friend that you have there, Shizuha. Is everyone else from your land just like that?"

"?Most don't really care this way or that about the fairies. A lot of them are annoyances or pranksters at best. Even the ones that do other to socialize tend to annoy more than they befriend." Shizuha sighs in resignation before turning her e to the fairy in front of her. "The ice fairy is one that seems to inspire most of those emotions, nowadays. Although, Letty is more tolerant of her than the others."

The small girl standing there just looks back and forth between the three of you, emphatically shaking her head at Shizuha's statement. "I wouldn't be doing that? Miss Yuuka hardly would have let any of us get away with such things."

The woman's name causes both of the girls to cringe. "Kazami? How in the world would you know her?"

Rengeteki immediately turns to the younger of the two sisters. "I? I think I used to work for her. I know I did. I just don't remember many of the details." Sighing, she shook her head. "But that was a decade ago? Up until a time where a witch in purple came."

"A wicked witch, I suppose?" The idea sounds extremely silly. However, if you've already allowed yourself to think that these girls are magicians, a witch isn't much of a stretch. Not that the implausibility will prevent you from pointing out how ridiculous it sounds. "I don't suppose she ended up melting, did she?"

The girl in front of you did not look nearly as amused. "No. She was fighting with a shrine maiden. I tried to? defend her home, and I ended up being caught in the crossfire."

Minoriko nods sagely at her words, before giving the fairy a pat on her head. "I know how that must feel. It's bad enough to be on the receiving end from one of them? But both?"

"Still don't have idea of what you're talking about, for the most part." While you may be aching, you know you should get up. You don't even remember what time it is, and you do need to worry about the next step you should take. "But I feel well enough. Probably should get something to eat. Besides, isn't it a bad idea for me to rest with a head injury?"

At the mention of food, Minoriko looks up at you. "It is a bit late, and we already ate earlier. But it would do you some good to put something in your stomach."

Nodding, you throw the covers off of you and turn to the side, slow making your way to your feet. It takes you a moment to check whether or not you are still wearing anything, but you are relieved to note that they had not gone that far in their care for you. "Well, I'm sure that I can find something to eat, especially if you've already made yourself at home enough to do as much yourself."

Your words earn you a short blush from Minoriko, but you pay it little heed. Letting out a small groan as you stretch your limbs. Making your way around the three girls, you head towards the door. Before you make it, a small hand reaches out to grab your shirt. "Were you planning to kick me out after what I did??"

Looking down at the fairy's head, you wait a moment to make your answer. "Considering that it was an accident, whatever it was that you did to me, I'll not be doing that. Especially if my family invited you in." Pausing, you wait until she meets her eyes before finishing. "Now, I'll want the entirety of the story later, alright?"

The fairy nods and flutters up, sitting on the bed. It takes you a moment to realize that she actually flying, but you block that particular detail out for now. Leaving the three behind, you head down through the hall and towards the creaky stairs that lead to the first floor.

Once you are out of earshot, you find yourself muttering under your breath once more. "Dammit, this is just getting too mad. Seems like they really are out to get me? Or everyone associated with those girls, for that matter."

The moment you get to the stairs, a dizzy spell causes you to nearly lose your balance. Reaching out for the rail next to the stairs, you take a moment to catch your breath. "This isn't helping either. Are those girls really that dangerous? What am I saying? Of course they are, what with Letty and that fairy? But are most of them like the sisters, or are they instead like that woman?"

Slowly, you walk down the stairs, carefully taking every step just in case. "Of all the? Why am I caught up in this? I'm just a janitor, for Pete's sake. What am I supposed to do?" Once you reach the main floor, you let out a sigh. "What am I going to do?"

[ ] Maybe if you turn them in, it will end up fine. Probably be the sensible option at this point, as do you want to be hunted down?
[ ] You can't turn them in, but you can sure as hell kick them out.
[ ] No, that can't be done. You can just do what you can to wait it out here, staying low and just waiting for it to all sort out.
[ ] Just do what you've already done. Get moving as soon as you can. You can keep running for quite a while, at the least.
[ ] Write-In Option
[x] Maybe if you turn them in, it will end up fine. Probably be the sensible option at this point, as do you want to be hunted down?
[X] Just do what you've already done. Get moving as soon as you can. You can keep running for quite a while, at the least.

Jananon has no job to hold him down, no reason to live normally. He can either be a boring NPC or he can take the opportunity for adventure presented.

I want a magical girl mafia.
[X] Just do what you've already done. Get moving as soon as you can. You can keep running for quite a while, at the least.
[X] First things first, you want answers. About everything. There's no way you're surviving all this unless you properly know what it is you've gotten into.

After that,
[X] You can't turn them in, but you can sure as hell kick them out.
-[X] Not that you'd kick them out without supplies, money, cellphones... All the better to search for more of their kind, all the better to cover more ground, all the better to find a way to send them back. Not to mention ease anyone watching you personally off your back.
--[X] The sisters will travel together, and Letty can take Rengeteki. You'll go on your own, all the easier to lie low, go under the radar, and set up a safehouse to reconvene at in a week's time.

[x] Just do what you've already done. Get moving as soon as you can. You can keep running for quite a while, at the least.

Pissing against the tide I guess. Besides, people who took her family will come looking for these four some time or another.
Mafia, you say?
[X] Just do what you've already done. Get moving as soon as you can. You can keep running for quite a while, at the least.

Specifically, we need to start finding answers about just what is going on. Where are these girls coming form, who is after them and why, and what can we do about it.
>>I'm just a janitor

I will be disappointed if we do not turn into an almighty janitor at some point during this.

Sage for not voting.
[x] No, that can't be done. You can just do what you can to wait it out here, staying low until it's all sorted out.
[x] You want answers. About everything. There's no way you're surviving all this unless you properly know what it is you've gotten into.

Constantly running is no good; we'd be cooped up in the car all day. Where would we even go?
[x] Just do what you've already done. Get moving as soon as you can. You can keep running for quite a while, at the least.
[x] Try to gather some answers

I get the feeling something happened in Gensokyo to kick out various beings.
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[-q-] Just do what you've already done. Get moving as soon as you can. You can keep running for quite a while, at the least.
[-q-] You want answers.


"The same thing I've been doing this whole time. Can't stay here, at least for too long." Sighing, you slowly make your way to the kitchen, taking care not to go too fast and risk suffering from another faint spell. "Never would have been in this situation?"

You have to bite your lip to keep yourself from complaining too loudly. There is no telling yet why they are pursuing them, unless it is just because of how dangerous they are. That, and you'd rather not be overheard by any of the more temperamental girls. You've little want to be frozen, after all.

Still, even as you make it to the kitchen, it begins to strike you how quiet the house is. Even if your family would probably be headed to bed at this time of the day, it still seems rather barren. The coffee pot on the counter is not tucked away in its little niche, instead out in the middle of the counter with the familiar black liquid in it. A mug on the counter is knocked over, propped up by its handle. A few rags lay about the countertop next to the sink, still slightly damp.

Granted, some of the mess was probably due to your guests. There are a few plates at the end of the counter that are sparkling clean, and you can still see the drops of water on the end. "At least they bothered to clean up after themselves?"

After shaking the eerie an odd feeling that wasn't quite nostalgia, you pull out enough stuff in order to make a quick meal. Divesting some meat and bread from their homes in the fridge and panty, you throw them together for a quick and cold sandwich.

Sitting there, you think on what exactly these girls can do that would have others chasing them. "Letty's obviously dangerous, especially with that attitude of hers. With how easily that she created that rockslide? But she doesn't seem that dangerous. "The fairy didn't seem to do anything on purpose. The sisters hardly are dangerous."

"?Alright. So somewhat dangerous for two of them. But what is prompting this roundup? Unless I am missing something noticeable here, there is no reason to go so far." Sighing, you look down at the last little bit of a sandwich in your hands, having taken your time to eat it. "I don't know enough. They've danced around a lot of these stories about our home. What exactly lurks from where they are from that would?"

"For that matter, why are they even here? Too much to ask, and not enough that I know?" You look up at the clock as you finish your meal. "Already past ten? Looks like I should be sleeping soon, especially if I plan on moving on already. "But first, I need to be questioning those girls."

[ ] Who to question
[ ] What do you want to know?


Since a lot want answers, you might as well ask the questions.
[x] Start with the fairy. Keep it friendly, ask about her home. Every time she introduces a concept you are unfamiliar with, ask for clarification. Get the details on fairy respawning, danmaku, Gensokyo's inhabitants, who she knows, the events leading up to her exile and what she's done since. After that we can talk to Shizuha about a long-term goal.
[x]Start with the fairy
-[x] Ask about her home and a few basic things, perhaps how she ended here.

I think she'd be more forthcoming yet not know the complicated stuff.
[x] The elder sister
-[x] Ask her, in plain concepts, what was the place where they came from, any ideas as of the reason of their exile and hints on returning home.

Any ideas about how to rob a bank? Because if we need to get to Japan...
[x] Let's talk with Letty
-[x] Ask her, in plain concepts, what was the place where they came from, any ideas as of the reason of their exile and hints on returning home.
-[x] About Youkai, Fairies and Gods. Differences, concepts, etc.
-[x] The witch and the maiden. Why did everybody knew them?

If you have time
[x] The fairy.
-[x] The people that came, what they said, what they wanted, how did the know about her.
-[x] About the fae and the land.

We already know the Aki's kind of woke up here and Letty is better for hard truths since she just doesn't care.
The fairy because she's the newest and we want to know the most about who or what is chasing them [yeah, 'the government' but there's a difference between a pair of agents and a SWAT team].
[x] Let's talk with Letty.
-[x] Ask her, in plain concepts, what was the place where they came from, any ideas as to the reason of their exile and hints on returning home.
-[x] About Youkai, fairies and gods. Differences, concepts, etc.
-[x] The witch and the maiden. Why did everybody know about them?

If you have time,
[x] The fairy.
-[x] The people that came looking for her, what they said, what they wanted, and how they knew about her.
-[x] About the fae and the land.

Going with this, reworded slightly from the above.
Right when I was about to call it...

Well, time to make a choice. Talk to Rengeteki, or talk to Letty and then Rengeteki.
[x] Talk to Letty and then Rengeteki.
It's a shame the drill sergeant characterization didn't carry over.

[x] Talk to Letty and then Rengeteki.
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[-r-] Talk to Letty and then Rengeteki


"?Letty would be the best one. She doesn't seem to give a damn. Even if she does give me the creeps every time I go near her." Shaking your head, you slide out of the chair and stand up, dusting off your shirt as you do so. "Now, where could she be?"

Sliding through the shadows of the house, you peek into every room that you pass by, checking to see if there was anybody within. However, none of them seem to be occupied, each of them empty as the last one. As you walk along, you find yourself tiptoeing along the rickety wood floor, feeling that you should try to be as quiet as possible in case someone is asleep.

Unable to help it, you can't help but to let out a bit of a laugh. "Don't exactly have to worry about that now. None of the others should be asleep by now. "Don't care if some of them don't have a good night's sleep, either." Shaking your head, you continue to walk along, continuing to search for that rather cold woman.

Eventually, you come to the sitting room, where you find the woman standing at the window and staring out at the darkness. She barely tilts her head to the side as you approach her, her cold eyes glinting in the light. "Funny you should come looking for me. Didn't seem that you enjoyed my company too much."

"I'm not here to talk about pleasantries." Walking next to Letty, you look up to meet her eyes. "I want answers. This mess that I'm getting into. Can you expect me to agree to help you all without more explanation?"

"Yes." Smirking slightly, she turns and looks out the window. "After all, you don't want me here at all. It is obvious by the way you act. If it wasn't for the quiet leaf, you'd have already have gotten rid of me."

Crossing your arms, you look back at out at the inky darkness that lies beyond the glass of the window. "Perhaps. But that ability you used? manipulating the air to make it warm like that. That seems to be useful. "If we're being chased by people, I'd rather have that than an endless supply of potatoes to chuck at them."

Your comment earns a small snicker from the woman, who finally turns back to look at you. "She is capable of doing far more than that, you know. We all are. But we are out here, in your world. There is little magic, and fewer people who believe in it."

"It's not hard to believe that there is magic. Unless you all are just a bunch of con artists trying to trick me." As you might expect, she does not react to the small slight. "But how can they claim to be goddesses when it is obvious enough that you are stronger?"

"You shouldn't be so quick to assume. But then again, you are ignorant." Turning away from the window, the tall woman retreats into the shadows of the room, staring at various china knickknacks that litter the shelves. "Tell me. Do you believe that mine is a power worth worshipping? Would you get down on your knees and submit yourself to me?"

"Not at all." Snorting a bit, you can't help but shake your head at the impudence. "You expected a different answer?"

Still ignoring you, she turns and strolls around one of the chairs, trailing one finger along the top. "I've had different answers before. Then again, I didn't ask questions like that, either." Smiling at you, she sits down and crosses her legs, meeting your eyes all the while. "That's why my body has this shape. After the first hundred children, even a body of magic begins to take a toll."

"?Wait. So there are more of you? Great." Gnashing your teeth, you remain standing, edging away slightly from the woman. "And how would that even work?"

"I cannot explain. Even though I am not human, I am similar enough to bear children. Although, in the end, they were but humans that were pale of skin and cold natured." The woman stares at you for a few moments, her expression never changing. "But that isn't what you wanted to know about, was it?"

"Hardly." Wanting to push the thought out of your mind, you speak quickly. "So, why do you say that they are goddesses, when they don't have the power to back it up?"

Sighing a bit in disappointment, Letty leans back in the chair and resumes her observation of the outside. "Because people willed them into existence. They wished for a god to come help with the harvest. They prayed that one would come take care of their crops so that even with the harshest of suns and driest of clouds they would grow tall and heavy with food. And so she was born."

"We're talking about Minoriko, right?" Curious, you glance outside to see if you can see anything out there now. The same murky depths as before greet you. "Then how does Shizuha exist?"

"Because with life, there must be death. Autumn is a celebration of the harvest, but it is also an omen of the coming cold that is winter." She pauses, resuming after you don't react for her. "I imagine that out here, what with all of the little conveniences I see, such a thing isn't a danger. But back then, and even now, it is a threat to the humans. So while they worship the one that grants them plenty, they fear the other that is an ill reminder of the tough times to come."

"Odd. You think with the way they act, Minoriko would be the one disliked." Tapping your chin, you think for a second. "But if she was always treated that well?"

"Neither have been worshipped for a long time. Not in that manner. Not since Gensokyo was formed." Chuckling, Letty finally looks back at you. "But those two are old. Older than I, even, despite appearances."

"You've said as much." A frown mars your face as you continue to think. "You keep going on about worshipping them. You make it sound important to them."

"But of course it is. Without it, they would just vanish into thin air." To emphasize her point, Letty snaps her fingers. "Gone, essentially. Going back what they were before, if they even had a conscious before they were summoned to life." At the concerned look you give her, Letty smirks. "Told them straight to their faces that you didn't believe in them, did you? I'd almost be impressed if you weren't an outsider."

Snorting, you start to walk to the door. "You would consider that something good, wouldn't you? I almost have to wonder why they put up with you."

The woman simply shrugs to herself. "For the same reason you're putting up with me, I imagine." Before you walk out of the room, she speaks again. "I can feel that cold in your heart, human. Don't pretend that it's not there."

Lips thinning, you respond immediately. "I don't know what your talking about, Letty."

"I'm sure that you do. After all, it isn't just the literal cold that I can manipulate?" Laughing softly, she turns her head back towards the window to stare out. "You would not have been the woodcarver spared, if it were those times."

Not knowing what she speaks of, you just shake your head and walk away. "Whatever you say. Whatever you say."


Having quickly left that room, you head back upstairs to check on the two sisters, along with the fairy. Already nodding off, you leave them be in your parent's room so they can sleep. "Not like anyone else needs the bed? I'm not going to use it, that's for sure."

Curiously enough, the fairy seems to be hidden again, as she was not with the sisters when you checked on them. Slowly walking around upstairs, you check all of the rooms before spotting the little girl with purple hair perched on a pile of boxes in a room you don't quite recognize.

"?What are you doing in here?" Stepping inside, you almost turn on the light. Before you do so, the fairy jerks her head up and seems to automatically summon a ball of light to her hand. "Whoah, wait a second! I'm just checking on you."

"Oh. You're here. "Elroy, was it?" Eyes downcast, she clenches her fist about the ball of light, crushing it into oblivion between her tiny fingers. "Sorry about that. I was getting? A bit twitchy."

"I noticed." Smiling a bit ruefully, you lean against the wall. "I wouldn't want to get blasted by that thing again, whatever it was."

Although you can barely see it in the dark, the little fairy blushes. "Just a small spark. I don't want to use anything strong out here, lest I run out of magic."

"Just don't do it again, alright?" Watching her for a few moments, you notice that her eyes are actually darting around, checking every dark corner of the room. "Should I turn on the light? There's nobody else in here."

Freezing in place, Rengeteki shakes her head. "No, that's fine? I like it in the dark better. Easier to see if someone is coming for me?"

"I would call you paranoid. But seeing as they are out to get us?" Sighing, you watch her for a few more moments. "Shouldn't you be getting some sleep, though? As young as you are, you shouldn't be staying up so late?"

Immediately, the fairy cuts her eyes at you. "I'm older than you are, so if you should be the one getting to bed." Sighing, her voice softens back into a few quiet words. "Besides, if I sleep, how will I be able to protect myself? I let my guard down once already?"

Curious, and wanting at least some semblance of an answer, you press her for more. "What happened earlier? Do you know why they were here?"

"They came for me. A strange man showed up a few days ago. Asking about anything that was strange. The woman? your mother?" At your slow nod, she winces. "She was nice, and seemed to want to show me off to them. Something about being a precious little thing and all that?"

You smile a bit at the thought. "Sounds like her. She's been a bit lonely since we moved out. "Probably loved having a little girl to take care of again."

Nodding to herself, Rengeteki continues to explain. "But she didn't when I asked her not to. "Didn't feel anything strange about the men. They weren't magical, not in the slightest. They seemed ordinary? More ordinary than the humans that lived in the village."

"But what about the men? They came back later, didn't they?"

"This morning, at dawn." Grimacing, she wraps her arms about herself. "I woke up when the door smashed into the wall. Took a bit to get the others moving? I tried to drag them away, but they told me to hide. Get out of sight, and all that. They would take care of it." The girl begins to shake her head as a tear threatens to roll out. 'I shouldn't have listened? Could have helped?"

Sighing, you get up and move to her, intent on patting her on the shoulder. However, she jerks away, flying onto a box that is higher up and cutting you off before you offer any platitudes. "I could have helped! But was so dumb. Just needed to go down and shoot them. And I didn't. Instead, they took them, just because they were afraid of some contamination or something?"

"Wait a sec. What was that?"

"That's all I caught. They said that there might be a danger of contamination or some such stuff?. I didn't hear much. Just a bunch of banging and yelling?"

"I see?" Seeing as the girl wasn't taking any sort of comfort, you head back to lean against the wall. "Well, it's the best lead so far. "But what could you contaminate them with, I have to wonder?"

Rengeteki looks down at you, shaking her head. "Nothing at all. I'm not from the underground or anything? I don't have any special powers, either. I'm just a fairy."

"Not that it tells me a lot, you know. Don't think I've ever had the opportunity to meet a fairy before, if you hadn't noticed."

"Right, right?" Sighing, she shakes her head. "There's not much to use. We're spirits of nature, and representative of where we were spawned, for the most part." You notice that her wings flap a bit, but the why is unknown to you. "I'm not? I'm not like most of them. There are hundreds, thousands? And all as dumb as a deer scarer."

"That's? interesting. That's why Letty didn't care for you."

"She's normal. And I can understand why? When all but a few of your species are like that?" Trailing off, Rengeteki shakes her head. "I don't like to talk about it though. It's just frustrating?"

"I see." Leaning up so that you are standing on your feet once more, you can't help but ask one last question. "So, do you know what you came from?"

"Not at all. That's one thing I try to forget. "Otherwise, I might want to go back. And the easiest way back is something unpleasant."

Staring at the fairy for a few moments, you sigh and turn away. "Alright then. Just don't go and do anything rash, alright?" Walking out the door, you start to close it behind you before a small hand grabs the edge. "?What is it?"

"We are going after them, right? I owe them?" The fairy looks up at you, her eyes wide and pleading. "I owe them that much?"

Glancing back at the little girl, you wait a few moments before answering. "We're leaving in the morning. I'm not going to just let them go. They are my family, after all. "But first, we have to get the ones chasing us off our tail."

"Alright then." Rengeteki mutters good night to you under her breath before reaching up to close the door. Staring at the closed door, you finally recognize what room that it was.

Doing your best to shrug it off, you turn to the side and head down the hall once more. Not particularly wanting to head back downstairs where the cold woman is still probably sitting and waiting, and not even daring to intrude on the sisters, you instead head towards the end of the hall, coming to an old alcove where the old trundle bed sits.

Silently, you sit down on in and stare out the window fore a long while. The longer your eyes remain focused on the dark expanse beyond, the more you feel that there is something staring back. Shivering a bit, you ignore the feeling and lay down, pulling an old and dusty blanket over you. Within thirty seconds, you drift off into the troubled night.


Upon waking, you waste no time in getting up, even if your head is once again sore. Pointedly ignoring the pounding blood in your skull, you clamber up from the bed and head down the hallway.

Even though you went to bed so late, especially compared to your normal schedule, the sun barely managed to wink at you from beyond the horizon. "?Normally, I'd just about be getting to work. Makes me wonder what Mr. Blevins is going to think when I don't show up?"

Both sighing and laughing softly, you calm yourself and head to the stairs. Just as you expected, you hear someone bustling around, and you can see the familiar brown dress of the younger sister as you glance at your parents' bedroom door.

Wishing for the peace and quiet to last just a bit longer, you walk down the stairs and to the main floor. After checking to make sure nothing had been broken or otherwise lost during your guest's stay, you walk on over to the front door and head out, intent on reclaiming your suitcase.

While outside in the crisp morning air, you catch sight of the camper. "?Well, if we're leaving, and if they're all coming, they can't ride in the truck. That'd just be asking to be pulled over." Not that it was quite legal to have people in a pull behind trailer in the first place, but there wasn't a good option available otherwise.

[ ] Well, might as well get everything ready to go. Want to leave as early as possible.
[ ] First go and shower. And get some new clothes. You'll start to stink.
[ ] Go check and see if there's anything else to be heard on the news. It can't just be you that has been questioned.
[x] Go check and see if there's anything else to be heard on the news. It can't just be you that has been questioned.
[x] Go check and see if there's anything else to be heard on the news. It can't just be you that has been questioned.
[x] Go check and see if there's anything else to be heard on the news. It can't just be you that has been questioned.

So, Letty's cold as ice and Rengeteki's a smart fairy. Anyway, better gather some information.
[x] First go and shower. And get some new clothes. You'll start to stink.

A stinky person is a suspicious person. Or a hobo.
[X] Go check and see if there's anything else to be heard on the news. It can't just be you that has been questioned.
[x] First go and shower. And get some new clothes. You'll start to stink.
[x] Go check and see if there's anything else to be heard on the news. It can't just be you that has been questioned.

I don't see why he can't do both.
[x] First go and shower. And get some new clothes. You'll start to stink.
[x] Go check and see if there's anything else to be heard on the news. You can't be the only one who has been questioned.
[x] First go and shower. And get some new clothes. You'll start to stink.
[x] Go check and see if there's anything else to be heard on the news. It can't just be you that has been questioned.

Morning shower then news? Sounds good.
>"You would not have been the woodcarver spared, if it were those times."

Classic Yuki-onna legend, cold man gets shattered maybe? Either way, really cold harsh from Letty.
[-s-] First go and shower. And get some new clothes. You'll start to stink.
[-s-] Go check and see if there's anything else to be heard on the news. It can't just be you that has been questioned.


There is no need for you to shirk the bare necessities, even if you lack an animated bear to sing about the need for such things. Hurrying up to get everything ready to go won't stop those men from coming after you anyways. "?If they're sending predawn raids, they would have already been here. I guess we'll just take the chance."

After retrieving your suitcase from the back of the truck, you head inside and march up the stairs. Initially, you think about checking and making sure that everyone is awake, but it has barely been fifteen minutes. There's not much of a point.

When you get to the bathroom, you can't help but to shake your head at the sight. "They still haven't gotten rid of the shag in here?" Chuckling a bit, you kick off your shoes and set the suitcase down before undressing.

Twenty minutes later, having relieved and rinsed yourself off relatively quickly, you leave the bathroom fully clothed and ready to get to work. Carrying the case with you as you leave, you set it beside the main entrances while walking to the sitting room.

The two sisters seem to finally be up, and are talk to each other in rather hushed tones. You catch a glimpse of worry on the face of the younger sister, but it vanishes as the elder pats her on the shoulder to assuage whatever it is that ails her. After deciding to leave them be for the moment, you walk past them, squatting in front of the television. Turning the dial on, you wait for the old cathode ray tube to boot up, the whine of the old electronics piercing your ears as it comes to life.

"Seems like they were watching the news too?" You wait a few moments for the volume to come on, only to realize that the thing is muted. "Dangit, where's the button for that?"

As you search for the button, you manage to catch a glimpse of video footage of some random city street, where large amounts of people are running about the streets. Some seem to be dancing, while others are licking themselves in the crotch. Still, more are seem to be destroying everything they can in sight. "?And that's all for the riots in New York City. We will be right back after this commercial break."

"Always with the commercial breaks?" Sighing, you walk away and stand behind one of the chairs, leaning on the back and staring at the screen. "It's near the bottom of the hour. At least they'll be back on soon." Pausing, you try to reason out what is going on up there. "Who knows? Perhaps the mayor decided to ban hot dogs longer than six inches. Probably botched it so that anything close to the shape was also banned." A number of rather rude jokes come to your mind that would describe the Yankees up there, but you manage to stay your tongue.

The next commercial that comes on encourages you to speak once more. "?Of course. Why in the world is a male enhancement commercial playing at eight thirty in the morning?" Glancing to the side, you notice that the two girls have stopped talking, and are watching the television rather curiously. "You can just ignore that. Idiotic thing to have on this early in the morning?"

The commercial eventually goes off, but the attention of the two focuses on you. "?Is such a problem common on the outside?"

"Is that something you really want to talk about?" Rolling your eyes, you don't bother to turn and face them. "I suppose it is, if they're selling it. Although, I've never particularly had a problem."

The huff that you received in response could have only come from one of the girls. "Didn't take you to be one to be like that. Was that what you planned to do to us?"

"I'll have you remember that it was you who thrust yourself upon me." Mentally groaning at the awful metaphor, you quickly finish. "Besides, it's something I don't want to talk about."


"Not talking about it." Turning back, you silently wait for the news to come back on. After a few somewhat awkward moments, the show comes back on.

"Moving on from our last report, we begin with an apparent rash of disappearances over the weekend." You perk up, as this had been exactly what you wanted to hear about. "Hundreds of from across the entire nation have been reported by police departments, as families are discovering that loved ones have vanished overnight. Many of those missing had their homes vandalized heavily, lending weight to worries that some sort of criminal or terrorist group has begun striking out. No body has yet to be recovered from any of the potential crime scenes."

The actor leans into her mike for a moment before nodding. "And that's all that we have about that. Onto another serious note. A train containing a shipment of U.S. Abrams tanks has been found derailed just east of Pierre, South Dakota. The train was carrying at least ten of the tanks as they were being shipped to Alabama for refurbishment. We go to our man on the scene. Jeff, are you with us?"

A small window pops up on the screen. A heavily bundled man faces the camera, before glancing back at the derailed train. "That I am, Jennifer. As you can see behind me, the train was heavily damaged when it fell off the tracks." As he speaks, the camera leaves his face and instead focuses on a nearby boxcar, which seems to have been stripped of its metal siding. "What isn't so obvious are the tracks. They are a few hundred yards west of here, but we that nearly a hundred feet had been removed from them. Whoever did this has done so intentionally."

A frown mars the face of the anchor. "Could this be connected with the disappearances that have been reported and are still coming in?"

"Who knows, Jenn." The camera pans along to an overturned flatbed, the tank still strapped securely to it. Upon closer examination, though, the tank's main gun is noticeably bent, and the tracks on it have disappeared. "We have tried to ask any military personnel on site, but we have received no word either way."

"Still, this is a disturbing way to start off a Monday. Thank you, Jeff." A fake smile crosses her face. "In a bit of lighter news, we are receiving more reports of various mythological sightings. Could these supposed fairies be an ill-timed hoax, or perhaps something more? We'll address that once we return from commercials."

Sighing, you stand back up straight and stretch, popping your back. "Great. At least it's not just me. "But how many of you are there in the first place? If there are hundreds that are missing?"

Her headed lowed in thought, Shizuha raises it to look at you. "I suppose it depends on how your count us. There are hundreds of different? magical people, but only a fraction of that even bothers to associate themselves with others." She pauses after a moment. "If you include the celestials and the fairies, not to mention the lunarians, the oni? It could easily reach thousands."

"Definitely a lot. So, it could easily be that all of these people have been taken. Which means that we were really lucky to get away."

"Or, you might want to stop assuming." All three of the girl's heads snap across to look at Letty, who was standing in the doorway. "Although, it isn't your fault, Elroy. You've yet to come across to our way of thinking. But think of how many of those youkai that are more feral than sapient might have also fallen across."

Shizuha freezes in place, her face paling somewhat noticeably. "?I-I was hoping that it wouldn't be the case. If the humans aren't expecting the youkai to be preying upon them?"

You can read between the lines well enough. "So, instead of being captured, they might have been eaten instead?" Glancing at Letty, then at the other two girls, you can't help but to mumble softly. "Least the ones I ran into seem to prefer to be was on the eyes instead of making me easy on their stomachs?"

A small grin grows on Letty's face, but the other two don't seem to hear you. The four of you instead look awkwardly at each other, not quite knowing what to say. Instead of continuing the standoff, you break the silence. "Let's get moving, then. We can get packed and ready to roll as soon as possible. It should be easy, as you didn't bring anything with you."

The younger of the Aki's grins weakly at you. "Then we should be ready quickly. I can always make something real quick, first."

You shake your head immediately. "No, that would take too long. I want to be leaving as soon as possible." Still, another problem crosses your mind. "?But there is something to consider. Your clothes."

Both Shizuha and Letty arc an eyebrow at you while Minoriko huffs. "What about them? They aren't wrinkled or stain, so there is nothing wrong with them."

"Except for the little fact that you stick out like a sore thumb." Now that you think about it, the last time you saw this many women in dresses was an eon ago. "You're not that bad, Minoriko, but Shizuha, Letty, and especially Rengeteki?" Pausing, you glance around for the little fairy. "Where is she, for that matter?"

A finger presses into the small of your back, causing you to jump in place. Ignoring the quiet giggles of the other two, you look around and down at the small girl. Even though she is staring up at you with wide eyes, the sight is not that cute. The bags under her eyes make her appear far older than she would otherwise. "?Hey. Are you ok?"

"I am fine." Lazily, she drops her head and looks at the rest of the group, remaining silent.

Dropping that aborted conversation, you glance back at the others. "As? Odd as it sounds, can you at least check for something? I do have cash on me, but I don't think we should spend it on anything other than what is necessary."

The three give me an odd look, but Letty is the first one to answer. "Far be it for us to stand out. But we'll play it by your rules." Spinning on her heels, she begins to walk away, as the other sisters glance each other before splitting up.

[ ] Go with Shizuha. Be nice to have some pleasant company for the little bit of time you have.
[ ] Go with Minoriko. She seems to be in a better mood, and you might want to patch things up.
[ ] Follow Letty. She doesn't give a damn, and frankly, do you?
[ ] Take a look at Rengeteki. She did look rather tired.
[ ] Just leave them be, and make sure that you are ready to go at moment's notice.
[ ] Obligatory Write-in Option


[ ] Directions and Destination (Still no drill-tank modification, so down isn't a choice.)

Another update tonight or tomorrow for sure.
[ x] Take a look at Rengeteki. She did look rather tired.

Last thing we need is one of our companions getting sick?

This makes me wonder, we're outside of Gensokyo right? Being a fairy and all, if Rengeteki dies, will she still be reborn?

Greeting from FF.Net BTW, Luminous.
Mr. Muss, I presume?

Not quite, but here's a hint: we had a discussion about EU3 recently.
Ah, alright then. Had to ask. And just a friendly reminder: remember to sage on a nonvote.
[ ] Take a look at Rengeteki. She did look rather tired.
My money's on no.

[x] Take a look at Rengeteki. She did look rather tired.
[x] Take a look at Rengeteki. She did look rather tired.

Seriously, what the fuck is going on in that place. Is Koishi on the loose or another insanity based character?

We might need another local to plan the route and stay away from the tank bussiness. Maybe going north, Canada seems like a good place to be with the winter and fall people.
[x] Take a look at Rengeteki. She did look rather tired.
Better question: What the hell happened in or to Gensokyo to get a bunch of touhous in the US?
[-t-] Take a look at Rengeteki. She did look rather tired.


As the rest of your party scatters in the house, you turn around and kneel in front of the little fairy. She barely seems to react to your presence, just staring off into the distance. Frowning, you try to get her attention by waving your hand in front of her face. "Hey, Rengeteki. You still there? You're zoning out on us."

The fairy gives a little start, slowly turning her head to look at you. "I am here. Just? tired. I will get better as the day goes on."

"But why are you like this?" You feel as if you know the answer, but you want to hear her admit it herself. "It almost seems as if you stayed up all night long."

"I did." Slowly, she blinks, staring up and into your eyes. "There is so little magic here? I am not used to being this tired. I usually do stay up back at home, so it's no problem. But I got lazy here? Got too used to sleeping."

Frowning, you merely return the stare, not shifting your own gaze. "That is hardly healthy. Staying up all night like that will only make it easier for you to taken advantage of when you are weaker. I could probably steal your wings off your back right now, and you'd never even notice."

Rengeteki twitches a bit at your words. "You don't seem like the black-white? Besides, the wings are attached to me. I would notice if you tried to pull them off."

"I'm just making a point. And I still don't know who these colors are, so making the analogies won't exactly help your cause." Shaking your head, you reach out and place a hand on her shoulder. "Just? You should get some sleep. Especially if it makes you this tired after just one night."

"Not going to, maggot. I am not going to get caught off guard again. Don't want to get caught in a trap again." Regeteki shoves your hand away before taking a step back. "I can take care of myself? Done it for long enough."

[ ] Insist that she listen. You're just trying to look out for her.
[ ] Try to compromise. If someone is keeping watch while she sleeps, she should be safe.
[ ] Remind her that you're on the same side. The people she should be angry at aren't here.
[ ] Just leave her be. You've about had it with stubborn girls.
[ ] Other.


Short one. Should be able to get another up tonight.
[X] Remind her that you're on the same side. The people she should be angry at aren't here.
[x ] Insist that she listen. You're just trying to look out for her.

Stand your ground on this one, Elroy.
[x] Try to compromise. If someone is keeping watch while she sleeps, she should be safe.

We can at least try to meet her half-way.
[x] Try to compromise. If someone is keeping watch while she sleeps, she should be safe.

What she said may be true of her life in Gensokyo, but this isn't Gensokyo nor is this normal life.
[x] Remind her that you're on the same side. The people she should be angry at aren't here.

Sheesh, I miss an update here every time I check FF.net, then the same thing happens the other way around.
[x] Remind her that you're on the same side. The people she should be angry at aren't here
What the heck
Today's a quick day for Luminous it seems.
[x] Try to compromise. If someone is keeping watch while she sleeps, she should be safe.
-[x] "You can trust us, we'll protect you"

[joke] Maybe magic, yukari, lunarians, the moriyas and the taoists in that order? [/joke]
Since it's a tie, I'll wait until tomorrow to see who wins.

You forgot Eiren and shady drugs. Have to complete the template before reminding you it was forbidden.

Also, it wasn't Yukari.
[X] Remind her that you're on the same side. The people she should be angry at aren't here.

Thar be dragons, I say, dragons!
[x] Try to compromise. If someone is keeping watch while she sleeps, she should be safe.
I think it's something far more serious and worrying.
Next vote wins if it breaks the tie.
[x] Remind her that you're on the same side. The people she should be angry at aren't here.
[-u-] Remind her that you're on the same side. The people she should be angry at aren't here.

"Calm down, will you?" Stepping forward, you bend down so that you're looking her in the eyes. "We're on the same side here Rengeteki. There's no reason for you to be acting this way, especially towards the rest of us."

The girl remains silent for a few seconds more, and you sigh in frustration. "Just listen. The ones that did those things to my family are not here. We're not working for them. We're working against them." Reaching forward, you place a hand on her shoulder once more, squeezing gently. "Remember that. Getting angry or snippety with the rest of us won't help. It might hurt instead."

Looking back at you wearily, the fairy eventually does nod. "Right? Right. Sorry." Groaning, Rengeteki rubs at her own eyes as they droop shut. "Just? I'm frustrated. You don't seem to be that urgent, and they're your family. I just? How can you be so calm?"

Grimacing, you glance away, looking over her shoulder. "I wasn't exactly calm when I came here. Or when I couldn't find them at first?" Snorting, you look back. "Although, I have to say that blast you hit me with brought me down to Earth."

At the least, Rengeteki has the grace to blush. "Still, sorry about that? I had just reacted."

"You've said as much." Smiling slightly, you squeeze her shoulder again. "But my head has stopped hurting me by now. Just needed to sleep it off, and I'll be fine." Seeing that she had finally calmed down some, you stand back up. "Now, promise that you won't fly off on us just because you're tired or grumpy?"

"Yeah? Sorry." Blushing a bit, she turns back around. "So, should I go help look for something? I am a bit more conspicuous than the others are?"

"There's no point." Shaking your head, you explain. "Mom never was able to have a daughter, even though she sorely wanted one. So there'd be nothing here that even had a chance to fit you." Pausing, you do admit, "I have a plan in case someone brings that up, though." Under your breath, you mutter, "In the old line of work, always had to have a plan?"

Rengeteki nods idly. "Alright. Well, do you need me to do anything so that we can leave?"

"Take it easy, for one. You're tired. Don't go wearing yourself out." You just shrug, trying to think. "Just go and help the others, alright? I'm going to shut everything down here. Don't want anything to happen to this house." The apartment you could care less about.

Without waiting any longer, she nods and flits into the house, heading upstairs to search for the others. A few seconds later, you leave the sitting room and head towards the kitchen, walking up to the breaker box. Taking just a moment to read all of the settings, you begin to turn off everything save for the lights and the refrigerator. "It'll probably be bad when we get back, but if this blows over in the next couple of days, the only thing they'll have to deal with is a cold house for a few hours."

Shaking your head, you stop talking to yourself and walk out the back. As you pass by the water main, you reach down to turn it off, before pausing. "Wait? I still need to fill up the trailer. And who knows if those girls still need to shower or use the bathroom." That brings a few thoughts about supposed divinities and if they actually need to use the bathroom at all, but you cast those thoughts out of your head.

Unfortunately, the old pull behind camper seems to have not moved in the past year, at least. As you take another close look, you notice that the tires are deflated just a little bit, and the propane tank on the tongue of the trailer is more than a bit rusty.

Waling up to it, you lift the tank up from its snug and secure home. "Hrm? Seems heavy enough. At least we won't have to get more right away." After putting it back down and strapping it back on, you start to walk around the trailer. Nothing else seems to be out of place, as there are no holes in the paneling nor are any of the jacks for power or water damaged. When you walk behind the camper, though, you grimace. "?Tags only good for another month. I have a feeling that if we survive that long, that'd be the last thing we'd worry about."

Finishing the walkabout, you sigh in relief. "At least nothing seems to be too out of shape. It will take a bit longer to get in driving condition, though." Heading back to the other side, you reach for the door handle and try to open it up. However, it won't budge at all. "?Dammit, of course it's locked. Why wouldn't it be?"

After taking a closer look at the lock, you check behind you to see if the girls are there. Seeing none in sight, you reach into your pocket and pull out a small penknife. Popping open the blade, you slide it between the door and its frame and wiggle it. A second later, the lock clicks as the latch is pressed back by the blade. "Child's play? I'll just have to remember to get the key later."

Once inside, you are assaulted by the musty smell of the interior. However, a quick, cursory scan reveals that there is out of place inside of the camper, save for the smell. Checking in the cabinets near the entrance, you find an old electric air pump. "At least that hasn't been moved?"

Leaving the inside of the trailer to air out, you quickly get to work. First, you open up the interior tank so that any water can drain out of it. Not much comes out, but you'd rather not have stagnant water, either way. Once it stops dripping, you plug the garden hose and start pumping more in.

As it fills, you take a moment to unscrew the cap from the left tire. Inserting the pump onto the nub, you leave the electric pump standing there as you head for the truck.

Before you get to her, though, you spot the three girls coming out. You can't help but chuckle a bit at the sight. While the purloined clothing seems to fit the younger sister, the elder is too slim and the cold woman is too big to fit in them properly. At the very least, it was less conspicuous than what you had before, although all three do seem to insist on retaining their headgear. "?You know, you all probably should take the hats off."

Shizuha laughs softly to herself as the other two shoot you a quick glare. "Good luck at doing that. I can't quite remember the last time I saw my sister with a bare head." Lazily tilting her head to the side to avoid a slap, she pats her clothing. "Are you ready to go, though? I think we're ready."

"Almost." Pausing, you realize that you're missing someone. "A problem, though. Where's the fairy?"

"She's coming. She said she had something that she had remembered." Letty eyes you for a second before smirking and glancing away. "So, this is the wagon you wish to take now?"

Looking at the trailer, you snort at the thought of it being a wagon. "I suppose. I'd need a canvas top for it to be a wagon, along with a couple of oxen. But close enough." Shrugging at them, you walk around the truck and start to climb in. "Back on up. I need to get Lisa back so I can hitch the trailer up."

The woman glances back and forth a few times before raising an eyebrow. "You sure about that? You vehicle is rather small. Can such outside technology pull a wagon that large?"

Your eyebrow twitches at the implied insult. "She can pull it. It's not a fifth wheel, and it's not that long. Just a four person trailer."

"But there is a bigger vehicle over there." Pointing out your father's truck, which is parked beside the trailer proper, Letty continues. "Wouldn't that be better for the job?"

"Well, it would be?" Sighing, you glance at the other truck. "Still, doesn't seem right to leave her behind. Been with me a long time." You've not time to dilly-dally, so you might as well make the decision now.

[ ] Keep Lisa. She may not have quite everything to pull it easily, but she can do the job.
[ ] Take the other truck. It's just a machine, after all. No need to handicap yourself at this point.
[x] Keep Lisa. She may not have quite everything to pull it easily, but she can do the job.
It'd feel like leaving Kogasa behind when it stops raining. She's our partner.
[x] keep Lisa; we know all her quirks. Also, Smaller truck = better MPG Maybe?
We have a fixed budget so fuel economy is a concern.
[x] Keep Lisa. She may not have quite everything to pull it easily, but she can do the job.

Less clues about things, that and the MC is awfully attached to this truck.
[x] Keep Lisa. She may not have quite everything to pull it easily, but she can do the job.

The other vehicle might be on a closer watchlist since the person that owns it is on custody, also better mileage and we must not anger the machine spirit of the truck .
[x] Keep Lisa. She may not have quite everything to pull it easily, but she can do the job.

No leaving behind the truck!
[-v-] Keep Lisa. She may not have quite everything to pull it easily, but she can do the job.


"No, I'm keeping her. I know she can handle the load. Might strain her engine some, and ruin our mileage, but I'm not leaving her behind." Shooting Letty a firm look, you climb into the cab and back up towards the tongue of the trailer.

Once you are close enough to it, you climb back out and head towards the trailer once more. Picking up the pump, you pull it until it is close enough that you can plug it into the cigarette lighter in the truck. "Just need to pump up the tires and hitch the trailer to the truck? Well, that, and I need to check and see if the lights still work." You mentally cross your fingers while you sit on the tongue, as that would be a great pain to try and remedy.

As you wait, you spot Rengeteki in a window on the second floor, still searching for something. You shrug it off as the old pump continues to do its work, finally bringing one tire up to full. "Just three more to go?"

"So, is there anything you want us to do?" You look up to see Shizuha standing there. "Or are you just going to ask us to stand around awkwardly while you do all the work yourself?"

Laughing softly, you shrug. "Not much to do, I'm afraid. Until the tires are inflated fully, not much that we can do to attach it to my girl." Looking at the trailer, you frown. "Gonna be hard enough rolling her on and hooking her up. Could back the truck up under the tongue, but unless you want me to give you a crash course in directing traffic?"

Frowning, Shizuha shakes her head. "I don't think it'd be necessary to do that?" Tilting her head, she looks at the trailer more closely. "How heavy is this thing, though?"

That is a question you don't quite know the answer to. "A few thousand pounds, maybe? Haven't read the manual for it yet, so I'm not sure of the exact weight."

Shizuha nods to you before turning to the others. "Letty! Can you come here, please? We need you to do me a favor?"

"And what would that be, quiet leaf?" Before you can blink, it seems that the girl in question is already by her side. "I do hope that it isn't something that will lead to me insulting another piece of equipment our dear human possesses."

The supposed goddess just shakes her head as her face lights up with a blush. "Nothing like that. We just need to go ahead and attach this wagon to his truck. He says that he might have a problem moving it onto the? hitch?" She quirks an eyebrow as she looks at you. "Seems so odd to use that word when there is no beast of burden."

Before you can point out that your truck is essentially that, Letty nods. "Indeed? This might be hard for a human to lift." Again, she moves before you can even attempt to give instructions, laying hands on the tongue of the vehicle. "I'm no oni or kappa, but this thing is light enough."

With you still sitting on the tongue, she wrenches the entire trailer off, nearly tossing you as if you were riding a bucking bronco. Hanging on for dear life, you can only watch as the tall woman manhandles the trailer forward, eventually depositing it on top of the hitch. "?A? A w-warning might have been nice."

"But then I wouldn't have seen your reaction." Smiling a bit too widely, she lets go and walks off. "It was pretty good, but not as impressive as I had hoped."

Grumbling under your breath, you slowly get back to your feet. "Crazy women? Always seem to be out to get me." Ignoring Shizuha's glance, you lean down to inspect the hitch. "?Seems to be on tight. Now just to lock it in." Lowering the latch and inserting the rod through the hole in the latch, you make sure to secure it as tightly as possible. "Good. Now just to hook up the wires and check if they work. Can you go behind the trailer real quick and tell me if the lights come on?"

The girl with the leaf in her hair nods as you reach down to grab the wires. Taking a moment to make sure you have them flipped the right way, you slot them in. "Good, good? Now to check." As you walk around to the cab, you spot Minoriko standing apart from the others, looking somewhat listless. "You ok over there, Minoriko?"

The girl snaps her head at you before looking away. "Fine, fine? Just waiting." Her hands are wringing as she speaks, and you can almost feel the desire for her to be doing something, even if that something is just digging up dirt. "Don't dawdle, now. You said we needed to get going."

"We are, we are. But we don't want to attract too much attention, do we?" Continuing around the truck, you climb in and crank her up once more. "Oi! You back there! Are the lights coming on?"

Fortunately, all the wires seem to work, even as you pump the brakes and check the turn signals. With but two tires left to go, you realize that you need to figure out what you're doing now. Even a vague destination is better than aimless driving.

[ ] Destination and Directions


[ ] Seating Arrangements


Not one dissenting vote? I'm amazed, to be honest. But I'll point out that an overloaded vehicle tends to have worse gas mileage than a larger one pulling a load it is rated for.
To clarify, We need to know who, if anybody, is going to sit in the cab, while the rest are delegated the the back of the camper. As for directions, well, there is the question of where to go.
[X] canada
best to get out of the country for awhile maybe find and isolated plot of land that can be farmed and hunted on
[x]Rengeteki and letty up front with Rengeteki in the center while the two goddesses bunker down in the trailer
also it might be best to stock up on propane, entertainment, storable food, and food storage containers such as jars along the way. their's no telling how long they may have to hide out it coud be just for a few weeks or it could be for a few years best to be prepaired for anything. in fact get I would get a few guns and stock pile some ammo.
We're not preparing for a zombie apocalypse. Nix the year-long planning, armament rush, and "plan" to flee the country. Realistically, we have a very finite limit on cash for food, gas, etc. This means we either need to return to the apartment and cancel our adventure, or go to the location of one of the disturbances mentioned on the news in hopes of finding out exactly what happened to our parents. Will add a list of mentioned locations once I have time.
[x] Canada
[x] Put Minoriko up front with you.

Shizuha and Letty seem to get along well enough.
Heh. Well, this will be interesting.

I'll be back in about twelve hours. I'll see if we have a consensus then.
All the strange sightings so far:
>"There have been rumors occurring in the past few days that some missile silos in the Midwest have been compromised by intruders. An anonymous source, whose source could not be traced by our limited efforts, sent this video."
>Turning back to look at the television, they show some grainy security footage of two girls running around the edge of a military base.
"Midwest? is pretty vague, but a pair of individuals are here.

>"Now to our next segment. In the last couple of days, the mayor of New York City has called for increasingly ludicrous new laws, along with committing several odd actions."
Strange happenings in New York City, New York.

>"Now, we go over to our newsman in Maryland, where children are reporting the sights of a mystical creature. Which, surprisingly enough, is not Bigfoot." You scoff at the title of the segment, before reaching over to change the channel. "?Right. Fairy Sightings, my ass."
More fairies were sighted in Maryland. Could be nameless fairies, Cirno, Daiyousei, Lily, or the three mischievous fairies.

>"?After further reports of heightened military status in the Dakotas. The Secretary could not be reached about questions concerning the change relating to the reports of unknowns infiltrating some bases."

>After waiting for a few moments, during which they blathered on about turbulent weather on the Great Lakes.
The states bordering the great lakes (Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota). Perhaps Murasa is here.

>Nothing raises your eyebrow asides from the mention of a series of wilting vineyards across the sea in France.
Out of range. Maybe Yuuka or Medicine?

>As you search for the button, you manage to catch a glimpse of video footage of some random city street, where large amounts of people are running about the streets. Some seem to be dancing, while others are licking themselves in the crotch. Still, more seem to be destroying everything they can in sight. "?And that's all for the riots in New York City."
More weirdness in New York. Perhaps Koishi is responsible?

>?Onto another serious note. A train containing a shipment of U.S. Abrams tanks has been found derailed just east of Pierre, South Dakota. The train was carrying at least ten of the tanks as they were being shipped to Alabama for refurbishment."
>The camera pans along to an overturned flatbed, the tank still strapped securely to it. Upon closer examination, though, the tank's main gun is noticeably bent, and the tracks on it have disappeared.
More strange happenings in South Dakota. Not sure about the stripped treads, but any of the oni could have bent the main gun.
[x] Maryland.
[x] Put the Akis up front with you.

From the previous, it's closest to our current position. Akis up front because Minoriko would hate being cooped up in the trailer, Rengeteki stands out too much to be in the cab, and Letty wouldn't get along with Minoriko.

Not going to Canada because we've heard no news from there, it makes zero sense to try fleeing the country when our parents are still missing, and only Elroy has a passport, at best.

I lost the exact post on /blue/, but please remember that as the writer you can ignore votes that threaten to derail the story or are outright stupid.
[x] Maryland
[x] Put the Akis up front with you

This will have to do, although I got to say I'm not sure what we are trying to accomplish.
I plan to do as much, if it comes to such a point. I have no problems making voters pay for stupid votes, though. (See Mad End in NST) And I did think up a few contingencies in case you all decide to go far off the tracks.

As for your analysis... I'll give you a 60%, although many are intentionally vague.

Run as far and as fast as you can from the men chasing the Touhous, and thus you, while trying to figure out where they took your family. I could put you back on the railroad tracks, but the exercise would be defeated if that were to occur.
A 60%, huh? Given that I listed six locations of which five were paired with Touhous, that means I either missed three more location/Touhou pairs, was incorrect on guessing the Touhou in four of the pairings, or some combination of the previous.
[X] Maryland.
[X] Put the Akis up front with you.
Currently tied. Still waiting.

I also took points off, as only one answer was right and didn't have incorrect answers alongside.
[X] Maryland.
-[x] Put the Akis up front with you.

This will do
[X] Maryland.
-[x] Put the Akis up front with you.

Would REALLY prefer not to sit within arm's reach of Letty without either of the sisters being near.

Far as I can tell, Maryland is the closest.
Goddamn common sense. I was all for voting NYC

[X] Maryland.
-[x] Put the Akis up front with you.
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[-w-] Maryland
-[-w-] Put the Akis up front with you.


"?That should do the trick." Finishing up the last of the tires, you turn back to the others. "Alright then. Go ahead and load in." Before they can bother asking, you continue speaking. "Shizuha and Minoriko are in the cab. Letty, you can have the back all to yourself." Might as well attempt to make it sound like it's a privilege.

The tall woman smiles at you, but what little warmth that she sometimes has in her eyes is gone. "Of course. That way I won't have to risk the little harvest's feelings if something does go wrong." Chuckling, she strolls past you as you stand by the tongue of the trailer. "Now, of course, that means that our little fairy would be joining us back there?"

Said fairy does turn her head to look at you as she floats close enough to hear, and you can see the confusion in her eyes. "Wait. What do you mean? You want me to go back with?" Rengeteki shiver's as the icy woman's gaze focuses on her. "What if she decides to go ahead and kill me like she said she would last night?"

Shaking her head, the woman turns about. "I doubt that our human friend here would appreciate such a thing. It would put him in quite the mood if I were to do that." Letty takes that moment to turn around and walk towards the side, opening the rather flimsy door. Shooting you one last glance, she walks inside and closes the door behind her quite firmly.

You immediately let out a sigh of relief as the woman vanishes, and you no longer have that presence that always lurks in the back of her mind. "?She's starting to become a real pain."

"We never should have picked her up." Minoriko naturally lets her voice be heard first, and for once you are glad to let her. "It's just asking for trouble, you know." Sighing, she just shakes her head. "Although, you're tired of hearing me talk by now, aren't you?"

"?It could be worse. But until she actually does something that she intimates, we've no complete reason to throw her out." Rubbing your head, you look down. "Sides, she can still be useful. Even if she is just acting like?"

"We get the idea." Tugging at her sister's arm, Shizuha pulls Minoriko to the side. "Come on. Let's not take any longer than we have to." The blonde looks back at you as the two take their leave, giving you a rather significant look before glancing at the fairy.

Fortunately, you are not so obtuse that you'd need to be told what to do. Kneeling down next to the fairy, you pat her on the shoulder. "Yes, I need you to go in the back. But I need you to relax as well. Get some rest back there. There are a few beds you can sleep on."

The girl's wary eyes meet yours as you try to calm her. "Still? I don't think I could do that. Not when I have to keep a watch out for her. Making sure she doesn't try to sneak up and finish what she threatened."

"She won't do that." Snorting, you glance at the trailer, and you feel like you can see where she is through the old vinyl panels. "She loves to scare us. All of us. But at the same time, I don't think she has it in her to actually do anything. At least not without provocation."

"?Are you sure I can't go up front with the three of you?" The girl looks away once more, her cheeks pinking. "I know there's not enough room, but I don't take up much at all. "I would sleep then. Promise."

[ ] Allow her to. She's young enough that it wouldn't be too suspicious.
[ ] She has purple hair and wings. The risk is too damn high.


Yeah, I know. Been forever. Didn't help that ya'll chose the one option I had no contingencies for. Ah well. Was going to go longer, but I felt that you might want to make this choice rather than letting me make it for you.
[x] Allow her to. She's young enough that it wouldn't be too suspicious.
I know we can't go back on a previous choice, but do the akis fit in the back with Ms Ice Queen?
[ ] Allow her to. She's young enough that it wouldn't be too suspicious.

Given our luck, this will end badly. But more Rengeteki, yes.
[X] Into the back with you!
I don't like fairies much.
[x] Allow her to. She's young enough that it wouldn't be too suspicious.

Eh, be nice to the little fairy. Let her lie down on the Akis' lap or something.
There may be room, but Minoriko doesn't get along with her whatsoever.

[x] Allow her to. She's young enough that it wouldn't be too suspicious.

That and if she sits in the truck, I doubt she'd stick out too much.
[x] She has purple hair and wings. The risk is too high.

It really is, and the cab is already small. If we pass by any traffic cameras, and our pursuers have tapped into them, the purple hair and wings will immediately reduce any chance we had of avoiding notice to zero.
[x] Allow her to. She's young enough that it wouldn't be too suspicious.

If it'll allow her to get some rest I'm all for it.

If we were going to compromise it would probably be better to have Shizuha ride with Letty since they get along well enough while Minoriko & Rengeteki ride in the truck.

And I just realized the date but, eh, fuck it. I've already typed this anyway.
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[-x-] Allow her to. She's young enough that it wouldn't be too suspicious.


"Fine, fine." Shaking your head ruefully, you gesture to her to follow. "You can sit up there. Mind you, if you do decide to sleep up there with us, it would be upon a very unhappy bed. I'm not sure that Minoriko takes too kindly to the idea." Of course, there aren't many ideas that she does take kindly to, so you just push that out of your head.

And no matter how unhappy the others might be, the smile of relief that crosses the fairy's face is enough to relieve some of your worries. "Thank you? And whatever they think, they wouldn't be nearly so bad as hers." However grateful she might be, she realizes that you do need to get going, and she follows behind you as you both head to the passenger side.

You try your best to ignore the suspicious looks that are being thrown your way out the side of the vehicle, and instead just open the door for her. "Alright, Rengeteki. Come on up. Just don't hit anyone in the face with those wings."

The little girl's ears turn red at your perfunctory rebuke, but she does as told all the same, folding her wings together and carefully climbing up and over the younger of the two sisters and taking a spot on the elder, lacking anywhere else she could squeeze into. Rengeteki eventually does her best to relax, even if that means she is less tense than normal and is just trying to close your eyes.

You've done all you can to help with her, at least for the moment. Now you have to instead face down the rather annoyed stare of the younger woman. "Why, exactly, is she up here? Weren't you going to talk her into going back?"

"There's not much of a point, is there? Unless you just want to have scarred by Letty an unable to get any rest at all." Minoriko hesitates, and you take the opportunity to continue speaking over her. "At worst, if we do get pulled over, we can just pass her off as a little kid that wanted to ride with her mother."

Minoriko snorts out loud at the prospect, but doesn't bother to fight it anymore. "Fine, fine. Whatever you say. I doubt that I'll be able to change your mind on this. Although, if she does act up, I think that even the two of us can handle a little fairy." At that, she just reaches over and shuts the door, oddly enough taking care not to slam it.

"Well, at least she doesn't seem too angry, then." Slumping your shoulders and sighing, you head around to the other side of the vehicle. "Granted, with the way that the fairy blasted me with that beam of light, I wonder if they can handle her." A frown crosses your face as you wonder how dangerous the cargo in your front seat actually is, but you shake it off and climb in. "As you strap yourself into your seat, you glance towards the others. "Are you all ready to go?"

Minoriko just nods and grunts before pointedly averting her eyes. Her sister just rolls her eyes before nodding as well. "Yes, we are both prepared to go. At least that is what I believe that Minoriko just inferred with her grunting." Shizuha chuckles at the glare that is sent her way, but she chooses to ignore it. Instead, she looks down at the fairy occupying her lap. "Are you comfortable down there, Rengeteki? We're going to be in here for quite a while, I imagine?"

She glances up at you for confirmation, which you easily give. "Quite a while. We might make the east coast by tomorrow morning at the earliest. It's about ten hours to the tip of Maryland, anyways. Probably longer, as I can't go very fast with this trailer hooked up." Even as you imagine the route in your head, you think of the multitude of other things that you'll have to worry about. "?Probably even longer. Going to have to make sure we have enough gas." You wince at the thought of fueling up once, maybe even twice more. You only have so much money, even if you could get some more."

Rengeteki blinks a little in confusion before shrugging it off. "I guess you know what you're talking about? I don't mind. Just tell me if I have to do anything. I'll? I'll do my best to not draw any attention?"

"Don't worry, I will." At that, you put the keys into the truck and turn over the engine. Eight cylinders roar to life under the hood before tampering down the noise. "Alright, now, let's get going. Hopefully she's up to it." As you gently press the pedal, Lisa moves an inch forward before halting, making the trailer buck behind you. "Come on now, pull it for me, girl." Just as gently, you lay on the gas and roll forward. The trailer tugs back on her once more, but this time she doesn't stop.

"Roll on, then." Carefully maneuvering the truck out of the driveway, you all slowly make your way down the driveway as you mentally prepare yourself for the long haul.


Fortunately, it wasn't nearly as bad as you had thought it would be. The lack of the icy woman seems to have cooled the tempers of everyone else, rather ironically. While the fairy had been quite wary for the first few hours, which was not helped by the rather seedy looking place that you stopped at for another tank full of cheap gas, she eventually did fall to sleep.

It puzzles you even more how Minoriko reacted to being used as a pillow. Instead of complaining about it as seems to be her wont, she held her tongue. Even as she gritted her teeth, she seemed to accept the inevitability that is a tired fairy and remained there. Over the last thirty miles, you even think that you saw her cradling her head, but when you turn your head to look, she is sitting primly and stiffly.

Overall, the trip so far has been nice and quiet. While you've been tempted to turn it on the news, you've declined and simply listen to the wind as it blows over the edge of a cracked window. The silence has been blissful, and you have even managed to chase most of the worries away, at least for now. You lazily check the rear view mirror, seeing a couple of trucks and tractor trailers passing by, along with a single black car far in the distance and catching up. Going through the motions as always, you slip into the ruminations that you have kept at bay.

Those worries that remain still bother you. Vague ideas of what you plan to be doing, and where you plan to be going. Before, you had a concrete idea of what to do. Hide out at home and hope that this all blows over. But this is something larger than you'd ever have imagined. And, frankly, you know you are over your head. This is not a situation that you see a happy ending out of. But you keep driving, also knowing that you would be unhappy with sitting still and waiting for this all to get better.

The thoughts come back to your mind once more, and you glance at the three that are riding with you. There is still so little that you know about them, even now. Self-professed goddesses that are so weak that they only are capable of the littlest of miracles. One that is combative and one that is distant, neither being the truly pleasant sort. Still, now you're stuck with them. From all that you've heard and seen, you will share their fate if you are caught.

Letty's words from last night echo through your mind, no matter how much you try to shut them out. What, exactly, is it that that girl could feel about you? In you? You're not so certain that you feel safe with one that can feel out your secrets, with some sort of person that seems to be able to read your mind. Still, you are unwilling to kick her out yet. You've put up with quite enough, and you want to get something in return.

Not that you'd like to admit it, either, but what she said about the two girls also worries you. As far as you can tell, the sisters are as human as anyone else. If not for the odd pigmentation of their eyes, you would think them normal. And yet? They seem so sure of themselves when they say they are not human, when they claim they are gods. And yet, what proof have you seen aside from hat tricks and blowing leaves? Nothing at all. Nothing in the slightest.

Still, they seem to be so sure of it, and you are disinclined to rebuke them yet again. You are still suspicious as to whether they have told you the truth, but either they are very accomplished liars or at the least they believe their own story. You can't help but snort a little as the thought of the people that are kept at the asylums come to mind. After all, they believe what they say is true, but the madness of those interned there distorts their minds enough.

Alright, now you've done it. You were enjoying a nice ride, and now you're all worked up with all of these thoughts on conspiracies. It would be good if you could find out what is truth from someone that knows better. But who would that be? Certainly not these girls. And you know you can't trust the government to come out with a clean answer. All you can do is watch and wait to see if concrete answers do turn up, so that your mind may be set at ease.

But as long as those answers elude you, you still can seek them from those that are willing to share. You glance to the side, intending to quiz Shizuha on a few answers, anything that may make sense of some sort. However, you notice that she as well has nodded off, and is using her sister's shoulder as a rest just as the fairy is using the younger's lap. Her face, for but a fleeting moment, appears long and drawn out, with more than a few wrinkles tugging at her eyes and her mouth. Still, they disappear the moment you blink, and she looks to be the picture of a young, tired woman.

Leaving the questions that occurrence raises in the corner of your mind, you glance at Minoriko to ensure that she is not one of those who have fallen to the grasp of Morpheus's realm. You are a little amused by the resigned expression on her face as sits there, stiffly as ever, if not a little exasperated at the same time. Turning your head to look forward once again, you decide to finally break the long silence. "So, can you tell me anything else about this place you come from? This Gensokyo?"

You give Minoriko a start with your sudden question, nearly causing her to jump up. Her head swivels over to look at you, her red eyes showing both confusion and no small amount of annoyance, as seems to be her norm. "Why do you ask about it? I had the impression that you did not care one white for our home, in any form."

"I don't, not particularly." You may care about it in the sense that you need information about it in order to survive its spawn, but that is about all. "Still, the impression that I have had so far is that it's a land of voracious monsters. So far, all I've found are a few women who appear more vociferous than anything."

"?Sometimes I wonder about you. You claim to have the job of a maid, and yet you sometimes speak more like the mages?" Minoriko shakes her head before staring down at you some more. "And your current opinion is not entirely incorrect. There are many creatures that live in our home that feast on humans, when and where they can find them." Her voice becomes a bit distant and she stares out, seemingly looking for them along the shabby woods that line the road.

"Which are the ones you are worried about. After all, if you are here, there's no reason for them not to be." You know you are reiterating a point that the girls made yesterday, and you manage to draw the ire of Minoriko once more.

"Are you blaming me, then?" Her voice snaps across the cabin, and Rengeteki twitches a little bit in her lap. "I have nothing to do with this displacement! It was as my sister said. One moment, we were asleep in Gensokyo, and then the next we were in your world."

Noticing the fairy's movement, you hold one hand up in surrender before chancing a glance at her, as you do not wish to take your eyes off the road for a moment. "I'm not accusing you of anything. But could we please keep our voices down? I don't want either of them to wake up, not when they're resting."

Minoriko closes her eyes and takes a deep breath, but she nods. "Of course we must accede to the fairy's?" Eventually, with her temper better under control, she responds to you. "So, what is it that you wished to ask me? Or did you merely desire to confirm what you already knew?"

"Not that." You lean forward a little, as if to rest your chin upon the tip of the wheel. You pause halfway to it, instead staying hunched over in thought. "Just? You said it was a preserve of some sort. If... If all the creatures there are so dangerous, what point is it there in preserving it?"

The younger goddess has no answer to your words, and remains silent for a minute or two as she thinks. "You? You don't think that those of us deserve life, in the end? Those of us who need magic do not deserve to live?"

"I never said?"

"That is exactly what you just said." Minoriko's eyes flash in anger once more, but she keeps her voice down, instead hissing under her breath in order to get her point across. "Without that magic in the realm, we would all eventually die out. We have enough in our being now, but how long will it last? Once it runs out, those of us who do not have ties to this Earth will simply fade away."

Recoiling from the girl's berating words, your mind flashes back to the night before. "Letty had mentioned something along those?"

"So you'll listen to her? Is that what you're saying?"

"What I'm saying is I don't know!" You clench your eyes shut as you own irritation swells. "Why would I take anything she says at face value? Am I supposed to take a hostile woman's word at face value? Should I believe her when she says that you two would just wither away, and leave nothing behind?"

Mollified just slightly, Minoriko pauses once more, this time for but a few seconds. "Hrmpf. At least it is good to hear that her words carry so little weight." After a few seconds, you hear the light thunk of one's skull against glass. "There are multiple components that keep us alive, which is what sustains us. But the primary is belief, not magic. And magic itself is powered by the belief in it. That is why that woman formed the barrier to keep magic in. Or at least, so I know." Minoriko shrugs a little bit, barely moving her shoulders. "Sister and I have managed to scrape by on the barest scraps of belief for years, so it wasn't nearly as large a change for us as for some of the others."

"So, why is it that you're so worried by losing that land? If you survived before?"

"It is not those times. The magic is weaker out here than it was previously. Back then, there were those that still believed, even if it was in the farthest corner of their hearts. They desired it to be real, even if their conscious mind dissuaded them." Minoriko closes her eyes and sighs. "I suppose it'd be the same way with magic. You'd have to believe in order to understand. Something which you do not. We can feel it, you know."

"That's because it doesn't matter to me if it's real or not. All I care about is making it another day, and finding what happened to my kin." Your eyes dart to see her reaction, but there is nothing anxious in her movements. All you see is resigned acceptance. "I did say I believe in that magic, not what you two claim to be."

"You do not. You yearn to comprehend, perhaps, or pretend to understand the concept, but you do not yet know magic." Minoriko sighs grandly as she leans against the window. "It is one thing to prove to an outsider that comes to our home, but you will not be impressed unless you see something that cannot be explained away."

"Then what about Shizuha's leaves, and Letty's cold? I certainly can't explain it away, as you put it."

Minoriko finally opens her eyes and peers out the corner at you, even though you turn your head to stare back down the road. "You are trying, to, though. Your preference does not signify, no matter how you twist the words. I'm not Sister, after all. I do not care for those little games."

A bit of a grin tugs at your lips, but you quickly smother it. "I've noticed." A few seconds later, you decide that it'd be best to redirect the conversation back to what you originally intended it to be. "Well, how about this. There are all those creatures there that are so horrid, but what are the good parts? It was your home, and I doubt you would be one satisfied with it if it was infested with those things."

Frowning just a bit, Minoriko turns back to stare out the window, once more gazing into the world beyond. "It was quite the lovely world. Not littered with this ugly concrete seemingly grows everywhere. Parts of it you might even call picturesque, but the wastelands beyond the mountain did remind us that it wasn't a true paradise."

She sighs and begins to think harder on the subject, dredging up an explanation she never has had to give. "It? Well, it was more than enough for sister. I resented it a little bit, as the humans that lived there needed no goddess to watch over them. The Hakurei Shrine and those that served in it have been the official protectors. There was always some attention given during the harvest, and occasionally we would receive visitors asking for blessings, but it was a far cry from the older days."

"You weren't content, it seems." She has said as much before, but she never has spoken at length about what occurred. "What was different in these old days you speak of, then? Enlighten this poor ignorant human of his lack of knowledge."

Just barely, you think you hear a bit of laughter, but that must have been something your mind had imagined. "Don't encourage me, or we might be here all day." You neglect to mention that you have all day right then for that very reason. "However, we were once major deities. Not great ones like the sun god, but still we were as respected as that damn goddess who now lives on the mountain. And we were able to use that power effectively. Where we ruled, the lands were never fallow and crops grew thicker than the hair on your head."

"?Was that an insult?"

"Yes." This time you are certain you hear laughter in her voice, but you decline to make a comment. "I'm not sure how long we were in that position. The years never matter when one is performing their duty as best they can. It was long and tiring work, but we were successful."

A clear picture of the events involved slowly forms in your head. "But now there is no one to do that, and you don't have nearly as many people to watch over. You feel like you can do more, and yet there is none for you to do."

"?Somewhat. It is not so simple." Minoriko's face had a small smile on it as she had reminisced, but now that you've pulled her back to reality it falls into a customary frown. "There are many things over the years that you've skipped over, if you want the full story."

"Sorry for interrupting, then." Still, there is one thing that bugs you about what she has said so far, and since you don't want to bother her once again, you go ahead and ask. "What about Shizuha, though? You keep on saying we, but you continue to talk about yourself. "Even though I asked about Gensokyo, not your history."

"I suppose that I just went off on a tangent. And you've yet to say you are disinclined to hear my history." Minoriko lets her words hang in the air for but a second as she ponders how to explain. "As for Shizuha, she? I'll let her tell her part. It would be rude of me to speak of her when she is unaware."

Idly, you glance at the mirror, having been too busy speaking to check what's going on behind you. "Very well. At least there is someone you don't care about being rude to."

"?That is uncalled for, you are aware." Perhaps it was, but the point has already been made. You merely shrug as Minoriko takes a deep breath. "As I was saying?"

As she speaks once more, you look in the mirror yet again, as something seemed odd in the background. The scene had changed as vehicles had passed you by, but there was still that one black car hanging behind you. "This is strange?"

"What is?" Minoriko leans forward as far as she can without tossing either of the girls off and tries to peer at the mirror you're focusing on. "You weren't even paying attention, were you?"

"?We're being followed. Either that, or I'm being paranoid." The girl suddenly stills, and you explain. "I'm going under the speed limit, as this old girl can't go too fast, especially with this trailer. And everyone has passed us so far. Everyone save this one vehicle? Granted, they could be having problems, but that thing is newer than this old truck. I can't help but to think?"

Pinching her nose, Minoriko just looks down. "That was a little bit faster than I would have thought. "Do you plan on doing anything?"

"That was what I was working on. Either way, we'll have to save story time for later."

[ ] Stop and confront them if they stop as well. You're not going to outrun them.
[ ] Keep on driving. You're just being paranoid.
[ ] Have one of the girls take care of it, if they can.
[x] Have one of the girls take care of it, if they can.

All right. Prove your magic. Make us believe.
[X] Keep on driving. You're just being paranoid.

We have no proof that they are actually doing anything. This could be some coincidence for all we know. Stopping would be risky, and attacking would be ruthless.
[X] Have one of the girls take care of it, if they can.

she needs to stop the self righteous bull crap, when it comes down to it they did this to themselves no one wants to fallow a god that ignores prays and ask so much of it's people. kami are kept alive by human faith and youkai are kept alive by human belief so why should anyone do anything for the kami when humanity gives them life and why should human endevore to keep the youkai alive when many they just want to hurt theme. I'm not saying that all youkai are bad the tengu,kappa, and oni seem alright but non of them seem to be dealing with the youkai. their entitled to live but their not entitled to live at the expense of other. and as for the whole belief in magic when humans see it they will believe it, panic about it, and begin to question everything they ever thought they new. I refer you to m.i.b. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT6h2CUWLzQ
[x] Stop and confront them if they stop as well. You're not going to outrun them.

Sure is summer around here. Have you considered spell-checking your posts before exploding words all over the internet, or is such a thing beyond your ability?
[X] Keep on driving. You're just being paranoid.
Exactly. It is madness to worship a god you create yourself.
[X] Stop and confront them if they stop as well. You're not going to outrun them.

Going to have to stop sometime.
Alright, let's get one thing straight here. I don't care how much you believe that youkai are an evil that must be eliminated at all costs, which apparently some of you do. Far be it for you to actually think through your decisions and taking a veritable dump on the keyboard as an alternative. I did attempt to wade through your text, but it proved to be such a pain that I am going to ignore parts of it instead of trying to decipher that gibberish that you call written word.

For one thing, you know little about these girls and less about how they came to be as they are. You assume some things to be the case, when in fact it is the exact opposite. After all, Gensokyo could be referred to as a land of the forgotten, not the land of the ones that didn't do their duty. And your desire to project information that Elroy has no knowledge of onto your decisions, which I normally wouldn't call you out on, is too egregious for me to ignore at this point.

And frankly, I don't care how some other universe treats the coming out of something fantastical and unimaginable. Quite frankly, your suggestion is the exact opposite of that situation you are probably referring to. (Also, I refused to click on the link, as that is irrelevant to this story as far as I am concerned.) Instead of conducting yourself as an ignoramus would, perhaps you would like to participate in some introspection so you do not continue to clog up my threads with your shit.

You are the one that needs to stop the self-righteous bull crap. I love discussion, and I love well-designed write-ins, as they help drive these stories to be greater than if I did them on their own. However, that is not the purpose of your post. You desire for me to compose the story in a manner along your own designs, to please your worldview. Frankly, reader, I don't give a damn. I don't care if you are some HFY fag, or a waifufag, or something else. The waifu lovers at least keep themselves in line, and there are typically few enough that I do not have to call them out on it, so I presume it is either the former or a separate ideology you follow. However, I will not have any sanctimonious bull clogging this thread up.

I may remind you who the writerfag is. Me. I allow the readers to participate in the votes because I enjoy picking the brains of those that are more intelligent and more creative that happen to enjoy my little story. Indeed, their choices have changed the previous story for both the good and the bad. However, it was not with declarations full of steaming indignation that they did this with, but with little insights and speeches full of fervor that they manage to sway believers to their cause.

To that end, I have to put up with those that produce truly horrible choices. Some of which made me sick to write them. The MAD END was not something I enjoyed writing, but it was something that was necessary, I do believe. I will not, though, put up with what you are trying to pull across this story.

To whit, I will ignore you if you decide to continue to act in such a way. If it becomes so bad that I cannot continue the story, I will simply pull up all my stakes and move back to ff.net. I love these forums, but in the end, I come to tell my stories. Not let a vocal minority run ramshod and ruin the outcome.

Where in the world are you going with this? Elroy did not create Minoriko or Shizuha. And if you are not being literal, then you miss the point of it so much that I doubt that any explanation would enlighten you.

Anyways, with the rant out of the way, I was going to say I was planning to update this one once a week anyway, so there is plenty of time to think/vote if you wish.

Sage for lack of anything productive done.
Voted for one of the girls to do something about the car, but figured that I should elaborate a little.

That black car is suspicious. Elroy is worried about it. This might just be paranoia, but right now is a very good time to cast the occasional glance over your shoulder. Elroy should probably see if the car really is following him; take a few random turn-offs and see if the car follows, or drives off only to settle in behind him again.

If they ARE being followed, they'll probably have to re-think things, but the first thing is to lose the tail, which means getting one of the girls to do something about it.

This has the secondary effect of getting Elroy to confront the fact that something magical has happened, and might break through his preconceptions. Which I think would be an interesting development.
[x] Keep on driving. Slow down a bit and after a while speed up. See if they keep following in the same way.
[x] If they do stop and confront them if they stop as well. You're not going to outrun them.
[x] Warn the girls to be on ready to act if they try something.

Don't want to be too paranoid, let's make sure before we confront them. I'd rather not panic and have the girls act before we're sure.
If we can take care of the problem, that's for the best, the girls are our a last resort. Even if we're starting to believe them, no reason to have them use their abilities if we don't have to. Don't want to call attention to our group, especially if we can talk our way out of it. Low profile and all. Also been a little while since I read the whole thing, but I believe their may be limits to how much and often they can use their power on the outside, don't want to use up our trump card.

Thread Watcher x