[X] “What was that? Sorry, I couldn't hear you over the sound of your legs.”
Make amour, not war...
“—get your blasted hands off my—!”
… judging by the sounds of it, however, Mokou doesn't seem to care too much for the wise, French saying of old, instead smacking the yelping Princess down to the floor-level with a series of frustrated punches. Which is, you have to admit, merely just a supposition, since you can't see a lot through the flesh of your palm, but...
“Ouch! Ouch—ouch! Hey!— quit— ow!—stop it!”
… yes, they're not exactly leaving much to imagination, there.
“Ti—tiger!” you hear Mokou snap your way. If voices could blush, hers would be as red as a bunch of ripe tomatoes. “Toss me—On your right, on the—quit squirming, damn it!—throw me the—hold still, you—!” “No~—!” Kaguya squeals a stifled cry. “Don't—don't do it—!” “Shut your mouth! Tiger! Tape! Give me the bloody tape already! Just don't look!” You tilt your head in Mokou's general direction. “What was that? Sorry, I er... I sort of couldn't hear you over the sound of your legs, see.”
All of a sudden, a sizzling-hot wave furls around your exposed arms, legs and face, nearly setting your hair on fire, making you wince from the sheer, burning heat of the breeze. Nearly...? Yes, you can't really smell any burning hair or skin. Kaguya, on the other hand, it would seem has had much less luck in not getting fried. “Ah—! My clothes are—!”
Another, cooler current sweeps by your body, this time carrying a distinct smell of herbal shampoo, sweat, as well as barely audible, but acute sounds of flustered huffing. Knowing full well what it is, you don't dare move a single finger when it bounds off the mattress by your feet, snatches something off Kaguya's night-table, and traces the same path back to the Princess's burning side – all in less than four seconds, and at the same time more than a dozen pissed-off curses. Not a single slur, either.
“Moko—?” you hear a startled hiccup. “What are you— Stop! Don't—wah—!”
Moments later, the sounds of stretching Sellotape subside, along with Kaguya's squawking – now only gagged, incoherent mumbling, coming as if from behind a thin wall somewhere off-side, leaving you alone like a sitting duck on the Princess's bed – completely vulnerable and without any backup whatsoever behind enemy lines, with the maddened Phoenix free to do with you as she wills. That's it, then – it's your turn next, and all you can do is wait obediently for the inevitable to engrave its fist in your stomach and sear your facial features off in a fit of embarrassed rage.
Miraculously enough, though, inevitable becomes evitable after all, and seats itself shamelessly on your lap – just like the Princess did earlier – although this time, it's more forceful, warmer... More Mokou-ish. Heavier, but in a good way. “Finally,” she sighs, seizing a hold of your cheeks. “You can open your eyes now.”
So you do – just in time to catch a single glimpse of her blush before she locks her feverishly hot lips with yours in a greedy, almost savage kiss – of the Gallic sort, at that – where her tongue quickly seeks out yours, and invites it to engage in a headlong race around every single corner of her mouth, dancing and bending in ways that would make a linen thread stand at attention. Her hands slip down to your shoulders, holding on to them like to a mast on a ship in the middle of a hurricane. Yours, in turn, slip to her naked thighs, and begin to finger them ever so gently...
On that cue, Mokou bites your underlip and draws away abruptly. “N—not now,” she slurs, swallowing. “Legs later, okay?” “Okay.”
You attempt to kiss her again, but she dodges swiftly, giving you at the same time the sort of look that could make an eighteenth century Englishman go out and commit an honourable suicide rather than confess to whatever sins that may have summoned it to her face.
“Did...” she hesitates. “... did you and Kaguya...?” “Did we what?” “... did the two of you shag?” “What? No!” you protest. “No, no bloody way. I never even touched her, I swear.” “Then why did it look like you were about to kiss when I came in?” “It's, er... well, you'd best be off asking her yourself, I think. She was on top of me when I woke up.” “Woke up?” Mokou blinks. “You slept here?” “Just napped,” you correct. “She, um... she invited me here to make sure I wasn't leading you false and all that tosh, but then she went off to play video games, and I, er...” “... and you thought it would be a good idea to go to nap on her sheets?” “Hey, you left me here all alone, didn't you?” you try to sound offended. “What was I supposed to do? Do you have any idea how boring it was without you?”
That seems to pull the proper string – Mokou makes a sheepish smile, then takes a hold of your hands, and places them on the collar of her shirt.
“Here,” she ushers, looking pleased with herself. “Undo it.”
With pleasure, you would say, but sadly – picking the buttons off one by one quickly absorbs the last of your thoughts that weren't yet focused on Mokou – who purrs silently with delight every instance you accidentally brush your fingers against the surface of her skin. There's a banging noise coming from one of the cupboards, but neither of you pay it much heed.
“Probably wants to watch,” Mokou notes absently. “Do we let her?” “Maybe another time. Are you done yet?” “Mhm.”
You are – the white button-up goes flying aside, and Mokou's assets are at last set free for the world to admire. Mokou makes a smirk and stretches her back, her arms crossed above her head, pushing her chest out forward as much as humanly possible.
“So?” she asks mischievously. “Do you like them?” “Very.”
No lying about it – even though you've had the chance to feel them several times, you haven't up to this point had the chance to witness the magnitude and beauty of Mother Nature's work on Mokou's bosom – and even in the dim, bleak light of the TV screen, the sight is simply splendid. Reimu can't compare – although cute in her own, immature way, the shrine maiden's chest holds nothing over the spectacle before your eyes. Why would you even think of her right now? There are many reasons not to, and two – two handfuls of ripe, perky reasons – are currently right in front of you. What more could you wish for?
“Can I, er...” you mumble, stopping your hands mid-way. “... can I touch?” “Silly cat,” Mokou grins. “Of course you can.” It's almost too good to be true. “I'll be doing that, then...”
Almost, however, turns out to be horribly wrong – because the very moment your palms are about to contact the pink surface of her breasts, Mokou lunges forward, throws a piece of white cloth around your head, and pushes you forcefully down to the mattress, all while giggling to herself in an impish, rascally fashion.
“Mokou?!” you blurt out.“What are you—?” “I wanted the skirt to be a surprise, you know...” she breathes at your blindfolded face, resting her heavy features on your chest. They're heavy. Heavier than you imagined. “Now that you've seen it, though... I may as well make the whole thing a surprise... What do you think?” “Mokou, but I can't—I mean, I need to see—” “You can't?” “Not without—” you choke when Mokou rubs herself against you. “—Mokou, please!” “Oh, do you by chance mean to say you're not ready?” “No!” you yell. Hell, no! Of course you're not! “I'm not ready!” “Then consider yourself about to be raped, tiger,” she states, letting go of your arms. “Now reach up and hold to those rails.” “M—Mokou...?” “Didn't you hear? Reach up and hold on to those rails by your head with both hands, would you kindly? Oh, and try not to be too loud – we wouldn't want to wake anybody up, would we?”
What else are you supposed to do? With a girl of Mokou's sort fiddling around with your bottom half, there is little choice but to grit your teeth and prepare for whatever may come.
Morning arrives, and with it come rays of pesky sunlight, nibbling malevolently at your eyelids through the slits in the window-blinds. Even so, you awaken feeling probably the best you have in days – rested , but deliciously dreamy. Relaxed, but pleasantly tense.
You look to your side, but the wayward hummingbird isn't there – only a hint of a scent left lingering behind where she fell asleep the previous night. Gone – while you were still asleep. What a disappointment – you had hoped, somewhat, to maybe give her a wake-up kiss, or something as supposedly romantic... There's no clocks around, but you know full well what hour it is – and it's here yet again. What would you have to do not to wake up all alone in the morning? Strap somebody to your back and tell them to deal with it? What a crock.
Never fear, you tell yourself. It's nothing to be stressed about. Instead, you might want to go to the bathroom and ]̝̘͕͕͚̙ṃ͙͉a̰r̮t͖e͍̯̣̩̥n ̝̤̮͈͙̳ṵ̲͎̣̫̲p̜̦ ̠̜͍̳̞a̰̺̖̮̥̲̬ ̪b̜̗̼̻ ͕̤̬i̲̱̹̰̯̦̣t͓͇ ̲̪̙̩̣ẉ͚̘̖͓̥̩h͎̭̣̩̞i͙͍̞͎͓l̠̳̯e͍͚͚̞͖ ̯̖͚͓͔̱̫̙̺y̬̼o͙̘͉̩̙̺̦u̯̟̜̦ͅ ͈̼̯̥̺h̠͖̖̣͇̺ͅa̱̹̤̹̱̠̺ͅ
.ͪ.. ̏̐̚e̾̓̀̓̇̐nt͆͂̿ē͊r̉]̉̏̈́͂ͧ̆ ̊͛ͮ͌t͋h͗̈́̒̚e ͗ͯͯ̿ͧͩs̐uͮ̍n̂̓̓ͪ̽͂ͣ-̇l̄͗̊ͮiͧͣt̍ͥpatio. Early as the hour is, the sun is already giving its best to turn anything not smart enough to hide in the shade into a puddle of primordial matter soup. It's really the dead of the summer, isn't it?
“Hmm...” you hum to yourself, breathing in fresh, morning air.
Looks like today, too, there will be a lot of work to be done around the shrine-grounds. Which means yet another chance to worsen the already miserable state of your leg. Oh well, not like you have any right to complain. Reimu did take you in out of good-will after all, and you owe her that at least.
Speaking of, you should probably stop admiring the weather and go get started on a breakfast before she wakes up, lest she comes breaking donation boxes over your head for being such a bastard-lazybones-moron yet again.
“Heh,” you smirk to yourself.
It wasn't a mistake to go with Keine's suggestion. Mokou will eventually get over it, sooner or later, and even if your injuries will have you held here for a while more, it's not all as bad as you'd have thought. Not ba͋d̈́ͩ̒ ͦ͌̃̉͂͒͊aͮ̃̅ẗ́̿͐͆ͯ͆ ȧ͛ͦ̏l̏lͯ̒ͩ̽ͫͦ
k ͛ͨ̑ͫ͛̈́b̿͆ͮ̉͛̅ảͬc̐̋k͊̓ͤͭ ͆̆̃͒̾ouͧ̓ͩ̑̒̾̚t ͭ̾́]̆̌̽̆tͦ̆̌̏͋͒h̐̒̒̅͑eͦ̃ͣ̍ ̋̐b̌ͫ͗at̍̑̿̓̆͂͒h̑́̓͒ͦrͮͫ̔oo̎m̾̊ͯͯ̑̾̍.ͣ̈ ̐͂ssages smeared in red lipstick on the mirror in the bathroom? How blooming cliché is that? They're meting out breakfast downstairs at 9AM. Don't starve yourself, tiger~. Honestly, you slept with her the previous night, and all she's worried about is that you get a decent meal in the morning? Can't she trust you a little? Does she think you're a little child in need of constant attention? Or is she simply playing a silly joke on you?
You honestly can't tell. Either way, there's only so much you can do in an empty room that isn't even yours to begin with. You wipe your face on your shirt and leave Kaguya's private refuge. Time to shift.
[ ] Go to your room first. [ ] Foray into that mess-hall.
>>31361 The scene WAS fulfilling. That's part of the reason you see: a second after bliss we get a whole paragraph of 'it was all a dream' and another second later we're back in business at eintei. We (at least I am) kind of freaked out. Which was the point, I think, so don't͙̣̯̆̏̾w̰̅ͭ̆̌ͅơ͎̮̳̪̼̳̔r̠̠̖̒̿̓ͣ̊r̨̥͚y̢̯̠̤͔͛̿̽͗ͮͦ ̯̞͉͖͖̐ä̲͇͙̜̰͖̈́ͨb͔̖͓̦ͅọ̧̬ͧ̋ͪͨ͊ư̞̦͔̘̟̠̲͂ͨ̈͑͛ͭt̲ͣ͗̈ͬ̋́͗ ̗͚̪͖̞͕ͮ̉̉̍ͬ̊s̶̰̺̩͑̒ͫ͐͐̃uͦ̈́̊͒̍͟c͕̫̯̦͉̯̺ͭ̒̌ͬͣ̀h̞͕̪͈̯ͣ̐ͮ̆͛ ̆҉͈͎t̛̮̆̐h͇̑īͬ̒͗̇̑n̪̻̼͓̓͐̅̌g̳̭ͣş̜͍͓̤̇.̫̳͖̹̱̃͗ ͇̬͆I͈͋ͦ̓́ͩ̅t̸̝̬͉͆ͬ͊ͣ̒ ̳͇̼̟̌s̷̹̓e̤ͦ͟è͕̹̥̝͕̙̔̌̀m̷͈̦̙̲̖̞̲ͣ̒͒ͯ̚̚ ̵̤͎̘̏ͨ͗̚t̗͕͚̬͆͒ͣh̵̳͈̘̣̥͉̱̅̔͌ͤ͐̊a͍͗ͬ̉ͩͥ̇͌͢t̲ͯ̍ͤ̃ͅ ̼͇͕̖̞͐́͜ͅý̹͙̤̬͖̞́ͅoͯͨͩu̍̉ ̝̬͎̃̇ͮ̽̌t̫̦͕̘̯̱̱ͪ͆̔͑̓̔i͕̩̺̗̭̐ͅl̺͍̹̱ͤ̊͐̌̕l̲̖͖̩͎̉ͪ̽̒ ̵̩͉̺̬̗͕̑a̬̜̤͕͈̭͊͜v̡̼͚̱̟̀̈́̑ͅe̺͖̊̓͑͂̅̐̚̕ ̮̤̮͙̙̒͜ͅtͩ̈́҉̣ơ̜̫̳͑̌ͯ̾̄ͤͮo̮̻̼̥̒̌̑͌ ̠̍ͫ̈̓͆ͣ͒͊̾͑ͩȋ̝̦̰̩̙̯̆̄̌̂t̻̝̩͍̗̭̣t͎͎̞ͨ̀̅ͥͅe̮͍̝̯̟ͫ͌ͧ̅̍̎͛ ̞͍̪͖̮̈c͖͔̰̫͙̬̹͛̽̍̒͂̓̔̀o̘͕̳̹̬̻ͩͣ͒ͧ͒͞n̡̯̗̥͇̾̊f̢̯̞͔̜̬̰͗ͫͬ̚i̹̰̲̫̻͈ͬ̐͂̾̈́d͎e̢n͎̬̪̲ͥ͊͠ ̰c̵̫̬̠͓͆͛̾͒͛̌e̬̘͍̤ͩͨͬ̃̿̀͠o͐ͭ̅̓͠͡҉̲͕͖n̪͙͙̝̩̫̪͒͞ ̡̥̗̗͒̇̐̾͟y̶̼̖̝͔̦͛ͦ́̿̇͌̉͜ô̳ͮͤ̃͂̾̾̽͠ư͔͖͙̱̄̈ͭ͊̓ͤ͛̎r̵̼̩̒̋́̆͑̚ͅ ̗̭̲̙̘̦̑͟͠s̤̤̦͇̫̾̏͒̔̓̕k̥̖͚͍͔̪̣̂̕i̮̖ͦ͑͛͐ͥͣ̐ͤ͊͢l̛͕͖͕̔ͤ͆ͥl̵͒̒̉ͬ̋̾̾̔̏͏̮͕̩̥̟̯̤͕̩s͛͂ͬ ̡̨̗͖̫̭͎̥̻̪̮͠,͍̫̫̓ͣ̄͌ͅ ̛̖̬̾̅͛̿͐ͥ͆ͫ͟͡b̗̰̞͓̞͙ͯ̎̽ͧ͑̽͊̀͘ṳ̡̖̘̻̹̦ͮ̐̊̐͆͌̽ͦt̰̘̽ͮͅ ̧͉͖̼̬͖̫̘̹̟͑ͥ̋̋y̹͍̟ͬ̓̈̎̉̂̚o̸͓͈̖̙͖͇͙̲̤ͦư̝̝̖̘̹͈̿̓̋ͤ́ ̶̹͔̦̩̖̻̻̭͕͌̔̒̓͢A̗͍̪̟̼̬̪͐̉̄͛̔R̸͖͓̜̦̗ͦ́E̜͕̣̬͕͎͇ͦ̂͌ͪͭ͠ ̶̦̠̲̬͕͈͍̹͑̉̃̎̆̓ͨ͞ͅg͙ͮ̏͗ͨ͑̏ͤ͊̿͟o̺͖̞̬̤͈̞̭ͤ̉͛̽̆͒ͪͪ̚͠o̢͈̰͚̣̺̎̓̔̊͌̕͞d͔̲̭̬̗̲̟̮͊͐̅̆̈́ .̴͖̝̣̠͔̻͗̅ͣ̽͌̆ͭ̋́ͅ ̧̨̭̹͓̠̯͈̯̉ͨͨ͌̾ͭ̿̃D̵͍̻̮̆ͦo̶̸͉̥ͤ̒͞n̗̬̏̔̄̋̋̓͞͝'͚͈̼͔͋̓͊ͤͥ͐ͅͅt̬͈̮͙̮͊͗̽ͪͪ̄͐̀̀̚ ͤ͆͢҉̗̺͉̭̖̞g̛̼̓ͨͪͩ̇ẻ̮̦͉̤̻̖̰̣͐͒͞ͅt̑̎ͯ̀͗̾ͧ̄ͭ͜͞҉͙͕̘̱͉͕̥ ͎̮̣̯͔̦̙͈̐̏ͫ̽̉i̷̘̙̮̪͙̦̩͛̽ͧ̓ͦ͟t̢̬̠̔ͧ̽̋͊̿ͧ̃͞͝ ̠̭͈ͫ̏ͦo͑ͯ͏͚̟̲͖͟͝v̆ͥ̇͌҉͓̳̥̯̼̤̲e̵̟͇͓̳͎͕͈̓̀ͭ̊͆̾͐ͯr̸͓̙̥̟̭̆ͣͯ͡ͅ ͆̄ͭ̇̑̀҉̪̳̖̗yͫ̂̑͛̿̓ͬͩ҉̰͔̲ͅo̯̗̣̫̜̹̔̔̓̄ͅű̹̻ͪ̊ͅŗ̷͓̼̝̖̓̐̏̽͆ͤ̊ͣͦ ̣̲͚͍ͯ͐̔͜h̍̈͗҉̬̦͡ȩ̴̩͖̬͕̫͍͍̯͗ͬ̀a͖̰̩̣̞̻ͤ̃̀ͪ̌ͥ͊d̛̰̅ͩ́̒ͤ͊͋̃̎͢ ̶͈̯͉̝̞̞̐͂̋͛̍̋̚͢҉͍h̢͔̻̤̯͈̻́ͧͥ̔ͬͬ̔̾ͬ͢͝oͪ̌͛ͭ̓̐̿́͘҉̼̭̳̮u̵̡̩͈̝̣̦̓ͭͮ͑͋́̑ͩg͉͖̫ͯ̽̏ͥͬ̌ ͚ĥ̤̹̃ͯ̆ͥ͂ͨ̂̀,͇͇̜̤̻̔̒̑͛ͫ ̵̝̣͈̪̗̎̋͜͢b̞̥̿̊͠ě̴̱̟̫̯̤̠̓̿ͬ̊͢͝c̛̛̮̜̱̠̳̱̊̍ͦ̍͑ͭͮ͡ã̜̳̌ͩ́ủͤͮͫ̏͏̵̬̞̜s͙̗̅̾̍̏̏̍̆ͬe? ?̵̴̺̥̓̆͂̒͋̆͆́ ̒ͬ͢҉̭̗̗̲͖ͅị̡͓͍͗͛͑̑͠ͅṫ̴̢͔̟̺̥͔̦ͧ̐ͯ͌̑́͝ ̛̘̜̲̣͍͑̃̎a͚͍̹͕͆̾̀ͦ̀̓ͬͣ͝l̠͚̟̯͕͔̙ͤ͐͆̊͋ẅ̶͙̳̹̲͖̈́ͯ̋͐͌͂͡ͅa͖ͨ̿ͯ͊̓̈́y̓ͤ̊ͤ̎̓͑̓̚͏҉̙̘͉͚̰? ?͇̯s̸̞̯͇̜̥̓ͫ͋ͥ ̸҉̱̫̣e͉̲̬̩̬͈̫͑̄̾ͣͨ̍͜͝n̶̑ͫ͏̸̖̤d̥̉̊ͩš̸ͧ͐̌̏͐҉̗̝̦̜͚ ̵͎̪̗͖̯̝͖́̇ͩ͋̈́͝őͮ͢҉̸͖̲̤̹̪̙̤̻ͅň̨̛̜͍͇͂̔̂ ̵͓̭͙̟͚̱̊̍͆̍̍ó̜̮̐́͝h͆̈͋̃ͦ͏͕͕̫ ̰̞̗̗̖͔̙̿͒̏̍͆͐̄̀͐g͈̠̰̹ͥ̊ͥͩͭͨ͑ͩ͛oͮ̽ͨ̍ͥ̓͏̙͙͜d̩̙͎͙͍̉̊͋̉͑͋ͦ̽ ͓̫͎̙̱̼̌ͨ͝wͫ̒̑̍̀̃͝͏̶͇̪͈͕̱̮h̴̭͎̼̥̋̊̓̓̄ͬͦȧ͔̳̙͐͗̉t̰̞̰̞͕̜̺̻͌̋ͬ͆̌̿ͭ̀ ̴̛̤̇͑͒͛̒͆̚͘ț̱̠̘͍ͣͭͥ͐͟͞h̴̙̟͎̝̘̣̦̺̙̽̐͗ͯ̏ͯͩ̒͘e̬͚͎̖̳̽̏͊ͦ̍͝ f̢͇̜͊ͧ͊͂̾ͪ̋̀́͝ŭ̟̐̊͋̾ͮ̚c̶̷̭͕͓̆̌ͪ̾̿̋̍k͒ͧi̢̗͕͇̥̪̙̟͎̣͈̫̭̬̱̇̀̉̍́͠ͅnͭ̾̏̀̔̊̏͆̑̎͂̎̒ͦ̚ ̞͈͖͇̬̪͈͈͌̏ͫ̆͘ģ̵͈̳̮̱̝̞̝̹̏̆̃͋̿̎ͧ͌ͯ͗͟ ̢̛̹̭̪͚̹̦̮̼ͣͩ̀ͪ̾̃͑ͫͯ̉͘ͅͅF̧̦̭͍̫͔́ͧͮ̊̾͐ͩ͊̒U̶̢̗̼̬̣̜̭͔͓͚ͮ͐ͬͣͥ̂̍́͢Č̢̱͓̼̬ͣ̓̑̔ͫ̿̌͜͜? ?͉̜̫̯̝̜͚̲̪͇͙Ḵ̡̜͍͓̻͍̠̣͉̞̞̪̠̠̰̹͔̾ͫ̓͑̅ͪ̈́̃ͪ̄̽͊ͬ̒͋͌̈́̂͢͟͜͝ ̴̧̧̛̠͙̞̺̮̻̝̥͔̦̙͇̓̂̄̑̐̽͐ͪ̈́͌ͦ͂͆ͪ̈́ͅi̴̢̧̧̨̻̩̩̲̗͉̪̲̒̄͌̇̔͊̽̏ͅš͔̟̟̩̑͐̒̃̅ͬ̇͒ͥ̿̎͊͘͟͠ ͕͎̳̻̪̫̤̖͈͙̬̬̫ ̫͉͉̘̗̪͍ͩ̇ͩ͑ͫ̃̓ͩ͛͌̀ͯ̓͊̏͡͝T̢ͮ̂̎̅ͯ̎̂̌̑ͨ͒̋̾ͧͤ̚͡͏̰͙̣͍̫͜H̨̽͋̌̃ͣ͢͏͙̟̻̺͈̼̰̠̱͇̘̼͝I͌̉ͦ? ?̷̢̧̛͈͚͍̜͕̥̹̩̜͇̬̭̔̓ͧͥ̾͒̿ͬ̇ͨ̂́̂ͭ̚͡ͅS̟̳̼̙̬̗̯͔͎͍̱̺̗̹̘̅͆̊̽̈͊͡ ̸̴̴̜̙̲̲̜̳͇̠̲͚̩̰̣̱͕̑̑̈̌̾̏̂̃ͨ̚̚i̶̧̟̘̝͎̙͔̩̯̞̲̰͛̇ͧ̑ͫ͌ͯ̐̓͗͊̄̓̊͞͝͝ ̴̧̤̞̫̗̼̯͖̲̝̻̟̜̠̙̖̔̃͆ͦ̊ͥͯ͜͞ͅͅd̸̢͔̟͉͔̰̥͍͇̠̦̘̥͈̈́ͨ͐̄ͥ͛̓̔̎̉̚͟͡ô̔̇ͭ̌͛̏͌̀ͩ̀̓̚͏̴̷̙̬ ̺̤̼̮̯̙̣͖͍̫̖̣̖̻̟n̶̟̝̝̘̹̦̜̯̘̦̲̟̭̭̦̺͓̏̿̇̍ͮ̽̓̃̑̈̆ͨ͒̇̕ͅͅ´̛̓̐̈͊̎̓ͪ̂ͦ̎̚͘͏̩̱̥͖͓̮̯̰̣? ?͕̭̹̫̳ͅţ̴̢̺͉͖̜͉̗̬͇̪̯̰͙̩̿̓̋̉̎̊ͦ́͆ͤ̄͗ͦ́̚̚ͅ ̑ͫ̍̎̃ͯ̈͂̅̏̃̈̏̐̅̊̐̅͘͟҉̢̨͍̟͚̬̻͓̺̞͍̙̗e̢̧̢͋͛̾͋̔͋ͣ͂̆̈ͣͥ͋̄͌͛̚͟͏͉͚̜͖̣̤̮̯̖̻͙̳̭̰̞̱̳ͅv ̸̞͓͔͕͖͖͙́ͯ̔͛ͦͤͩ̇̓ͧ̒̉̇͗ͦ̕e̶̱͍͖͔̘̗̳͎̫̞͙̞̼̻̘̩ͬ̂̑̔n̹̤̮͖̠̗̎̏͛͐̅͝͡ ͒ͦ͗̊͌ͨ͐̄ͮ̇̋͒͆̌̓ͧ̿͊͟͏̮͚̲͉͎͓̭͉͖̹̮͓̝̞̩͖̟̜ͅÇ̴̴̹̦͖̞͖̖͍͖̗͚̻̖̘̰͚̩̪̒̓͗ͩ̅͂̑̒̈́̽̔̒̚Ǎ͊ ̛̙͚̙̲̺̥͉̬̤̱̙̗̹͚̪͖͚̌̔ͯ͠͞͞N̵̝̣͕̫̯̱̥̹̜͇̮̰̱̪̠̼͔̱ͣͫ̐̐̌̔̀̃ͥͦͩ͂͡'̡͓͈̠͚̀͑ͩ͑̓̅͜͡T̊͐̆̀? ?̧̧̻̯̹̲̞̟̝̙͙͖͍̭̬͍͚͖̙̭͙̄ͩ̆ͥ͛̇ͮ̄ͮ̐̒ͮ̈́̋͗ͩ͌ͩͦ̀̕̚͢͟͟͢͢g̵̨̣͔̞̼̯̈ͪ̒̾ͭ̊ͭ̔́͆ͮ̏͆͐̆͘oͤ̔? ?̸̯͉̩̠̜̪̬͓͓̪̺̗̗̲̥͚̬̟ͭ̀̈͝i͖̝̩̞̣͍̣͇̹͈͉̓͑͊̈́̀͘͝͝͡n̨͕̲̲̝͙͕ͪ͂ͧ͒ͫͩ͋ͪ̆̀̕͡g̢̖̏̄͆ͭͨ͊̿̀͟ ͙̖͕̝̱̪̖̯͍̝ ̵̸̓͊̒ͮ̑͌ͤ͐͆̅҉̸̨͇͖̥̼ǫ̴̷̖̰̲̰̼̼̟̬̏̿͌̄ͫͨͫ̆͢͞ͅḫ͓̹͈̮̩͓̞̘̘͉ͣ̈̃́ͩ̃ͧ̓ͮͯ̽́̌̒ͤ͂̀͜͢ḧ̑? ?̛̟̩̩̠͎̮͍̖̞͎̯͓͚̖̽̿ͣ̀ͩ͂ͩ̇̔̀̚͞ ̵̨̪͔̥͈̘̺̬̗̫̪͔͈̹̭̦̼̿̓͗͆̀ầ̡̡̦̬̬̘̤̘̰̭͈̦͍͇̺̗ͨ̔͛̿̃̌ͫ̔̿̏ͮ́̐̐ͯ͂̀́͟h̶̐ͭ̓̓ͨ̒ͬͫ̂ͨ̊̔̀ ̻̹͖̭̱͎̖͕̬̦͝h̢̢̝͓̜͈̘̫̜̳̙ͦ́ͬ̏̂ͮ͌̆̅̃̈́̏̀͢͡h̬̣̠̝̳̜̹̪͐̿̒͋̊ͧͨ͋͗ͬ̎ͮ̌́̂̚͞͠h̡̓͒̽͌͛ͬ̄̃̀? ?͙̹͉̫͇͓͔͖̳̮͕̘̳̳̥ ̡̰͖̤̮ͨ̉̆̀͜
Fair enough, you do feel like a cup of tea or five.
Perhaps, you muse, you ought to seek Mokou out first – make sure the hot-headed bird didn't scarper off somewhere because of some terrible gaffe you may have committed in bed last night and forgotten about it, but... eh, c'est la vie. Worst case possible she'll just come back and smear your brains all over the building sometime later in the day.
With that heartening thought, you touch off down the nearest flight, taking two or three steps a leap, elated enough to shrug the persistent buzzing in the back of your skull off as fully ignorable. One measly headache isn't going to cock this wonderful morning up.
Not on your watch.
Easily less than a fiver afterwards, you find yourself at the entrance to the mess-hall – marked well enough not to let any famished belly overlook the place and wander off to starve in some dark corner of the clinic and give the staff an extra hour of dirty work. Clever. Having taken in a deeper breath, you push the door open, and stroll inside as leisurely as you can...
“... well, blow me sideways...”
… but even so, the sight is stupefying – or maybe just slightly out of ordinary, depending on how used you are to the sight of dozens of casual-dressed, bunny-eared persons spreading and joking happily with each other in a place that calls to mind a rough military mess rather than a regular clinic canteen. Nevertheless, you proceed to the self-service counter at the far end of the hall, giving your best to ignore all the curious stares and giggles given to you as you trod past all the rows of crowded tables. Maybe the rabbit-girls – maybe they're as perplexed to see somebody without a pair frivolous ears as you were to see somebody with one. Bugger, with these proportions, you may as well be the queer fish here, not them.
Either way, you collect a tray and pick some of the better-looking foods from the buffet, all under the overly happy grin and a just a little bit too daring suggestions of the white-clad cook, then set out to find a decent spot to rest your left-field self on.
There is one, as luck would have it – with only two people occupying an off-side, four-seat table, one of them being the well-developed expert on nursery – Reisen, and the other – ... the sadistic doctor who nearly made your knees explode with magic yesterday – Eirin. C'est la vie, you tell yourself. C'est la bloody vie. One lives only once.
“Morning,” you announce as you approach the table. “Is this seat free?” “Ah, he—hello,” Reisen gives you a slightly startled greeting. “P—please, go ahead.” “Thanks,” you tell her, sitting down. “Good morning, Master Eirin.” “... good day,” the doctor regards you coolly. “... how is your leg faring?” “Surprisingly well so far,” you admit. “I'm sorry for not trusting your methods, doctor. It's just that all the pain, and light, and the fireworks... no offence, it just looked sort of dodgy to a down-to-earth twit such as myself.”
Eirin stares at you for a longer while. “... none taken,” she says at last. “It's the small mind's entitlement to doubt. Yours was not the first complaint I've received.” “Ah, true,” you force a weak laugh. “I'm sure it wasn't. Haha...” “Did you sleep well last night?” Reisen chimes in worriedly. “Me and Tewi went to visit in the evening, but you weren't in your room...” “Ack—!” you choke on your food. Oh, hell! That's right – you forgot! Fuck! “That's—er... Yes, I wasn't... Damn it, I mean, I'm sorry, I—...bloody hell, how could I forget?” you give the nurse an apologetic bow. “I'm so sorry, Reisen.” “N—no, don't mind it,” Reisen waves her cute, polished nails at you in a troubled manner. “I was just wondering if you weren't overexerting yourself too much...”
Bollocks! you curse through grit teeth. How in the blazes did you forget about Reisen's coming to visit after her shift?! How forgetful can you get! What are you, ten years old?! Mokou was right leaving you that message on the mirror – because if she hadn't, you could have well died of hunger in Kaguya's blasted room!
Eirin harrumphs snidely from the side. “I'm sorry, really,” you apologise once more, “and no, I didn't overexert myself. Actually, I think I slept through the better part of the day yesterday, so... yeah...” “Oh... that's good, then...” Reisen falls quiet for a moment. “So, um... I won't ask where you slept, but... please, don't strain yourself too much. Our medicine isn't flawless, even though we work to perfect it at every opportunity. There may be some unforeseen after-effects, and we would like to keep as close a check as we can on those, in case any show up. Am I correct, Eiri—um, Master Eirin?”
“... Udonge speaks the truth,” the doctor affirms with a nod, “but her worries are exaggerated. Don't be afraid to put some wear and tear on that leg of yours. If something breaks, we can always put it back together again.” “Er, that can't be too healthy, can it...?” “I trust my skills,” Eirin smiles faintly, “and I have no reason to believe your body would be any harder to recompose than that of any other man.” “... er, thanks, I suppose...” you let your brows twist in a frown. “That's very, encouraging, I...—” Tap, tap, tap, you feel somebody rap a quick tune on your shoulder with two fingers. Come on, now? Of all times? “Hey, buzz off!” you turn to glare daggers at the inept musician. “We're in the middle of a conversation—... here...?”
“Is that so? Excuse me, then.”
Mokou removes her cleavage from your sight and gives you the sort of smirk that seems to tell: 'I know exactly where you were looking just now, you silly mug, and I'm very much liking the fact, but I'm not going to let you look again any time soon'. Blast. Meanwhile, Reisen cedes her seat without a word, switching to the one beside her superior.
At the opposite side of the hall, you notice Princess Kaguya meddling around with something that looks like an on-wall switch-box of sorts. They came together, then – the Girl Alliance strikes once again with their secretive tactics. What were they thinking, not telling you a thing?
“Good morning,” you say to Mokou. “You seem to be in a good mood.” “Why don't you?” she sits down and gives you a kiss. “Wasn't last night fun enough for your standards?” “That's beside the point. Where did you vanish off to in the morning?” “Don't be a child, tiger,” Mokou rolls her eyes. “One of us had to clean up, you know.” “Oh...” 'Oh' indeed. That changes everything. You glance at Reisen, but the nurse has already shifted her attention entirely elsewhere, giving the two of you even more space than obliged to by good manners. Blast it, why is it only making you feel more immature? “I'm sorry, I got, er...” you hesitate. “... I got somewhat carried away, didn't I? I completely forgot you were, er... Damn it! Is everything, you know... all right?”
“Oh, you dozy cat!” Mokou laughs all of a sudden at your concerns as if they were just a silly joke. “I can't believe it! You're actually worried about me! That's so sweet of you!” She leans in to brush your cheeks with her lips again. “Don't let it trouble you, tiger – I can't get ill or pregnant. It's one of the benefits of this stupid body.” “It's not stupid,” you scowl. “It's, um... very pretty, for one, and, well... convenient, I think?” “If you're into that sort of thing,” Mokou grins. “On an off-note, tell me,” she points a finger at your lower half. “Why aren't you wearing any pants?” “Why aren't—” you look down at your legs, “—I wearing any...?”
Why aren't you— Oh, for the love of—!
Now it becomes painfully apparent just why your passing aroused so many curious stares along the way – because you weren't wearing anything but an idiotic smile and a pair of woodland-patterned knickers on your stupid arse! Bollocks! No wonder Reisen seemed so troubled! Master Eirin, too... though she probably didn't mind as much. All the same, how in the blazes did you miss something so vital as putting on a pair of slacks?! There goes all your credibility – out the bloody window, down to the bloody swamp below. Son of a...—!
Your self-deprecating monologue gets cut short by electronic noise tearing out of nowhere through the air, sending some of the less wary diners yelping and sallying out of their seats.
Kaguya's voice follows the interruption, cursing at the volume of a blasting-off Harrier. “Aw, crappit!...”
Mokou turns in her chair to face her clumsy friend, and you follow her amused eyes to where the Princess is standing – now with a microphone in her hand, its cord plugged into the switch-box you saw her fiddling around with not so long ago.
“Uh, is... is this working now?” she asks. “It's working, isn't it?”
A confirming murmur spreads across the hall.
“Good! Um...” the Princess inhales loudly. “... as you may know, today is Sunday – our weekly vacant day! As such, I thought it would be an excellent day to have fun with all of you and play a game!”
Another, more excited murmur. Even Reisen pricks up her ears to the Princess's words.
“Yes, a game!” Kaguya states again. “I had some time to think yesterday, and I came up with a super idea for all of us to have a great good time! For this purpose, I would like you to gather in room Z23 in ten hundred hours – but not all at once!” she adds quickly. “There will be two teams – one defending, and one attacking! Team A – attacking – that will consist of Wing A staff, along with my new friend, Shooter, shall come to hear me out first! I will explain everything to them then! Next, Team B – defending – from Wing B, as well as my old friend, Mokou, should come later for their part of the briefing! Is everything clear so far?”
Surprisingly enough, the rabbit-eared flock cheers and yays to Kaguya's idea. You lean towards Mokou and prod her lightly in the side. “You easy with this?” “Not really,” she says, not looking at you, “but I owe her one, so my options are limited.” “Owe her? What for?” “What do you think, silly?” “... eh...?”
“Now,” the Princess goes on, “I will briefly explain the premise of the game! First of all, it will be a shooting game! We'll dig up our old equipment and refit it for non-lethal action!”
“Eirin,” the Princess addresses the doctor. “I would like if you took care of rounding our equipment up from the armoury and imbuing it with magic. And no live ammunition! We wouldn't want to hurt anybody on an accident. Will you do that for me?”
Eirin gives a wordless nod. It's somewhat scary how saliently cool she remains while her protege sows carefree chaos and blitheness inside her ranks.
“Thanks, Eirin! I love you! So!” Kaguya resumes her speech, “Team B's captain will be our favourite Reisen Udongein Inaba! I shall give her the leave to choose her two-aye-sees on her own accord! We'll explain that in detail at Team B's briefing! Copy that, Reisen?” “Um, yes!” Reisen squeals, shrinking under everybody's stares. “Of course! I—I'll do my best!”
Once again, the crowd claps in acclaimer. Even Mokou allows herself a slow, golf sort of an applause. Madness.
“Lovely!” the Princess exclaims. “I knew I could count on you, Reisen! You're the best! Now, about Team A – their captain will be my previously mentioned new friend, Shooter!” She brandishes her mike triumphantly in your direction and shoots you a naughty wink. “He's had prior experience with military operations, so I'm willing to entrust myself completely into his hands for the duration of the game! He will lead Team A into battle, and we will drink every word off his lips as if it was the finest wine we've ever seen! Copy that, Shooter?”
[ ] “Veto, Princess. If I'm in charge, I want to be in Mokou's squad.” [ ] “Copy that, Princess. Count me in.” [ ] “Uh, that's a big negative, Princess. I'm on a biff chit today, you see.”
Games, eh? Why the heck not? Even with magic involved, it shouldn't prove too big of a danger.
Sure enough, the notion of lounging around in bed with Mokou until dinner—or supper—time and listening as she purrs sweet nothings into your ear did cross your mind for a moment, but… with your hot-headed lover forced to partake in the match anyhow, there's little choice but to assent to the Princess's scheme and lead the charge in Her Majesty's lieu.
“Roger that,” you flash her an offhand salute. “My skills are yours to exert.”
The bunny-eared throng gives a loud ovation, and Kaguya complements it with a big cheer of her own. There's a couple of flirtatious whistles among the noise, you note, but you just grin them off smugly for the moment. Maybe forgetting to dress yourself wasn't such a big mistake after all.
“Wonderful!” Kaguya chirps after the clapping has abated. “Everything is looking to be in perfect order! We've got two proficient captains, two teams of excellent, passionate players, and an entire day to kill while having fun! Super, I love you guys!”
The crowd booms once again in applause—and also this time around—confessions of undying affection for the Princess – effectively making the selfish, little bird burn her cheeks deep cherry-pink and giggle girlishly at the sheer amount of adoration. Which of course provokes yet another wave of blissfully delighted 'we love you too!'s and 'our Princess is the best!'s from the bunny-eared flock. Honestly, what a strange relation they have to each other. Heart-warming – yes, maybe, but curious all the same. Perhaps, you think, you should join their veneration of Her rosy-faced Highness?
No, perhaps not. Instead, you utilise the window of opportunity to take a quick gander at Mokou – only to discover she has already finished mopping up her course and was in fact just about to leave. “Mokou?” you stop her. “Where are you going?” “Hit up a couple of spots, while I still can,” she says, throwing a discreet glance at Eirin. Not discreet enough, needless to say. “Don't worry about me, tiger. I'll be all right, really.” “That only makes me more anxious, you know…” Mokou laughs and leans over to kiss you. “I love you too,” she confides quietly, “and I appreciate your feelings, but seriously… if I'd known shagging me would nark you so much, I'd have thought about it one or two more times before I got you in bed. Don't let it trouble you so, tiger. Please.” “How many times did you think about it, anyhow?” you ask. “Many,” she smiles. “Not nearly enough though, it seems. Loosen up, tiger. We'll see each other on the field later, yes? Go easy on me, okay? I'm still sort of aching all over… Oh, and by the way,” she adds, reeling on her heels, “if you're looking for your breeches – I left those in your room, in the bathroom.” “You took them?” “What do you think? I couldn't go strolling around the place in that skimpy skirt, could I? Ciao, tiger. See you later.”
With that, she waves off and sets for the exit, promptly disappearing behind the door – leaving you, alone, with your puzzled thoughts. Something seems to be ailing her, that much you've managed to infer — what exactly it is, however, is beyond your discernment. Could it possibly be something stupid you did to her yesterday and didn't realise? Maybe something you said?… “…” You press at your temples, trying to recall the events of the last night.
No, there's nothing… Regardless of how hard you try, the reason of Mokou's distress escapes you completely. Weren't the two of you supposed to be having the jolliest time of your lives back then? Mokou seemed to be giving her absolute finest to make it more than memorable — and so did you, despite your unsure condition, you're bloody well sure of that…
… yet something appears to be missing. On the very edge of your memory, that something is floating malignantly, a slight out of your reach, slipping through your fingers, laughing malevolently at your inability to fully grasp its significance. What in the blazes are you forgetting?…
Meanwhile, Master Eirin wraps her meal up and diligently wipes her mouth with a serviette. “… thanks for the meal.” Then, she retires from the mess-hall, not gracing any of you with a single additional glance as she skims by.
That, quite obviously, leaves you and Reisen in only each other's modest company. “Um…” frets the nurse. “… you don't look so great. Is there a problem?” “Wha—What?” you blink yourself out of reverie. “Oh, no, not at all. It's nothing, I'm just, er… overreacting, I suppose. People are still keeping secrets from me and I'm upset, that's all. Don't mind it.” “Oh…” Reisen flutters her eyelashes some more. “… I—I see. Okay…” a pause. “… so, we'll be fighting today, won't we?” “Fighting?” you let out. “Oh, you mean the game… Yeah, it looks like it. Do you have any experience in, er… military operations?” “Some, yes,” Reisen nods. “I had a unit of my own, back during the war on the Moon.” “On the Moon, eh…” you smile to yourself, picturing the well-endowed nurse crammed inside a tight, hot spacesuit, stranded somewhere on a silver desert. “… how many years?” “I… lost the track of time. Must have been around two decades, maybe more.”
“Twenty years?” Just how old was she when she first joined the army? “That's a load longer than my professional tenure, wow! You're amazing, Reisen!” “Ah,” she flushes at the compliment. “N—no, not at all, I'm, um… thanks… but what about you? What did you do on the Force?” “Point Insertion Tactical Support,” you recite. “Sharpshooter position. I parachuted onto rooftops half a click away from danger and picked stray tangos off when somebody else botched the job. Sometimes took a ground team into CQB, but only on rare occasions. Nothing too impressive.” Reisen gives a nervous laugh and holds out a hand. “Well, I'm sure you'll do fine,” she assures. “Just be careful, okay? Don't overdo it. Good luck.” “Thanks,” you say, squeezing her delicate palm. “Same to you.” “Let's make it a good match.” “Let's.”
“Flirting again, are we?” a nosy voice chimes in. At the same time, a pair of arms slithers around your shoulders, embracing you from behind. “Reisen, I thought you didn't swing this way.” “Princess!” squeals the nurse, retreating her hand. “I—I wasn't flirting! We were just, um—!” “Kaguya…” you sigh. “… get off my back, would you?” “What was that?” the Princess drills a nail into your cheek. “No way, tiger. You were consorting with the enemy, weren't you? Do you know where traitors end up?” “… under court martial?” “Precisely,” she agrees. “Court martial. Now, you'll go with me, won't you? We've got to talk.” Do you even have a choice? “… yes, Princess,” you sigh again. “I'll come with you, just… let go of me, all right?” “No!” she pouts, puffed with her own importance. “We're going to Z23, this instant! On one foot, soldier! Time is running short!” “Yes, yes…”
What the hell are you supposed to do? You bid Reisen an apologetic goodbye, then slowly drag yourself out of the hall with the back-biting, complaining Princess in tow.
Ten-double-zero arrives on the clock with dreadful accuracy, as the last Team A member strolls into the operating theatre, where you and Kaguya have been laying in wait for the last half-hour – the Princess explaining to you the rough idea of the upcoming battle, and you – brushing off her sporadic advances and pleads to tell her – in 'extreme' detail – of your heady night with Mokou.
“Looks like they're all here,” the Princess notes, regarding the chit-chatting crowd. “Do you remember everything I told you?” “Yes.” “Do you have the map?” “Positive.” “Good,” she pauses. “Don't you, uh… want to put some clothes on?” “Rule number two,” you poke a finger at her nose. “Never question your commanding officer's attire.” “… and what's rule number one?” “Never ask about rule number one, ever. Seriously, it's a bad idea.” “But—” “Never,” you ignore the Princess and speak louder. “Gentlemen!”
On that cue, thirty-so bunny-eared heads turn in your direction, hushing, waiting to take in your next words. Kaguya, huffing under her nose, follows closely behind as you toddle down to the innermost circle of the theatre.
“Ladies,” you correct and gesture them to stack up. “Gather near, please. Closer. We all want to hear each other well. Thank you.” You give a brief cough. “As you may already know, I am Shooter, and I will be the commanding spirit behind this operation. If you have any doubts concerning the Princess's choice, now would be an excellent time to express them. Anybody?” You throw a quick scan around. “No? Shame, I had hoped we could settle our differences with some critical arm-wrestling.” A stifled titter sweeps through the crowd. “Very well, then. Let's take a look at the map, shall we?”
“Our objective is to retrieve and escort a package from the old clinic building, three-four clicks north of here. Intel says the area is heavily deformed, full of ridges and crevices we can use to cover our approach. There will be seven teams of four – Alpha through Golf, with the exception of Echo and Papa Bear, which will be my team – the rest will stay at the HQ and provide tactical and logical support. Team Echo will serve as a rescue team in case of casualties, as well as last resort emergency reinforcements, should a need arise. Teams Alpha through Golf will strike from here, here, here and here,” you jab a finger at several points on the map. “Papa Bear will attempt to circle and infiltrate the building from the back-door, or failing that, attack from the flank. Until I see our equipment, this is as much as I can specify. Questions?” One of the staff rises an arm. “Rules of engagement, sir?”
“Good question. What's your name?” “Adel, sir.” “Adel,” you consider the blond, skirt-wearing girl. “I'll want you in my team. Is this agreeable?” “It would be my pleasure, sir.” “Noted,” you say. “As for the rules, they are as follows. One: bullets hurt. If you get hit in an arm or leg, it will go limp for a period of time, possibly until the end of the game. If you get hit in the neck, stomach or head, you will go temporarily unconscious, same deal. Whether your team calls Echo to extract you or leaves you in the brush is their own call. Two: we do not stray farther than a click from the field of battle. If you do, the Princess will know immediately, and you will be expelled from the game.” “Kicked out!” Kaguya underlines.
“Three,” you go on, “no cheating. Only the magic provided with the firearms will be permitted. No spells of your own. Keep it clean, girls, and keep it tight,” you give them a sharp look to accentuate the point. “Finally, the Princess is a priority target for the enemy team. If she goes down, Team A loses with immediate effects. Our primary objective is to keep her alive, secondary is to extract the package. Which brings me to another issue. Does anybody here speak English?” “I do.”
Another of the nurses steps up – and what a sight that is. Casual, high-cut threads? Check. Short, black hair trimmed in fashionable bangs? Check. Confident look? Check. Breasts perched at exactly eighty degrees south? Check, check. “Good,” you say. “What's your name?” “Delaney, sir.” “Excellent. Delaney, I'm making you my radio relay.” Delaney inclines her head. “Relay, sir?” “Relay,” you confirm. “Most of you don't speak English, is that correct?” Collective nodding. “I deduced by observing the way your lips move when you speak. Thanks to the magic of this place, the words that we hear are translated in our heads to our most prevalent tongue – but this system fails when it comes to artificially transmitted voice.” “How do you know?” Kaguya asks.
“Through trying to watch some TV yesterday. At first I thought it would only be the case with pre-recorded footage, but live feed was also left untranslated. Delaney,” you address the chic nurse. “Please, give me an example sitrep.” “Uh… Excuse me, sir?” “Give me a short sitrep. In English.” Delaney breathes in a deep one. “Papa Bear, this is Baseplate, crews are in position, waiting on your directives, over.”
Not entirely flawless, you assess, but not all too bad either. Perhaps you could catch up with her later and teach her some of the more intimate English vocabulary. 'Ooh' maybe. Or 'ahh', and 'yes, keep doing that to me, Shooter, you unstoppable love machine!'. Not too likely, but one can dream.
“Lovely,” you smile. “Do you realise what I expect of you, Delaney?” “Uh… to translate your orders, sir?” “Bingo. Also, translate any report or call meant for my ears. Can you do that?” “Yes, sir. I'll do my best, sir. Uh… sir?” “Yes?” “What about Princess Kaguya, sir? Is Her Highness going to participate directly, sir?”
[ ] “Of course. I'll be watching her myself. Welcome to team Papa Bear, Princess.” [ ] “Indeed. One of the teams will have to take her in. I'll let you decide which on your own – the arm-wrestling bench is over there.” [ ] “No, she'll remain with at the HQ and provide support with Baseplate and Echo. We'll go through this one fast and smooth, at minimal risk. Nobody said we couldn't do that.”
[x] “No, she'll remain at the HQ and provide support with Baseplate and Echo. We'll go through this one fast and smooth, at minimal risk. Nobody said we couldn't do that.” All the other choices are too damn obvious. So we will bend the rules a little and show them why we wear the pants around here. Yes.
>>31440>>31447>>31436 Let's settle a new rule, then. Every response to a shitty troll equals one day of delay until the next update. I kid. Thanks for breaking the tie, I've been waiting for somebody to do that. Writings happen later today. Until then, until then.
[X] “Of course. I'll be watching her myself. Welcome to team Papa Bear, Princess.”
Her Highness certainly wouldn't appreciate being left out of the skirmish, you concede sourly, regardless of how big of a burden her direct involvement will put on her team-mates' conscience… … yet on the other hand, from a completely privy stand-point… … it would be rude to let Her Majesty miss out on all the joys of competitive warfare, wouldn't it?
“Ah, yes, of course,” you announce to the assembly after clearing your throat. “I wouldn't think of excluding our beloved Princess from playing along us. However, I don't think I need to elucidate on how her presence will put a substantial risk on the success of our operation, and I must say I wouldn't dare to put the stress of escorting a high-priority target on any of your minds. Therefore…” On this mark, you shift to Kaguya and take a hold of her palm. “That is why I will bear the responsibility of looking after Her Highness myself. Welcome to team Papa Bear, Princess.”
Kaguya squeals in delight, and her court quickly follows suit, even more so when the Princess climbs your shoulders and pecks a brief, but irresistibly doe-eyed kiss on your cheek. You brush her off gently, muttering something about 'superior authority' and desperately willing the rushing blood out of your nether regions.
“Ahem,” you give a formal cough. “It pleases me to see your enthusiasm, but it's all fun and games only until somebody gets shot. So if we are to win, Princess, I will require you to follow my every order and directive without a slightest question. Is that understandable?” Kaguya makes an eager salute. “Sir, yes sir!” “Excellent.” Although you're not supposed to pay your honours with your left hand. “Now that we've got this out of the way, does anybody have other questions?… None? Good,” you breathe out. “That means I'm still fair of form at this whole commanding business. Very well. If that is all, then I suppose we can go and take a gander at our equipment now. Team A, move out! Princess Kaguya, do lead the way, please.” “Yes, sir!”
While the group crowds at the exit, murmuring excitedly among themselves, you lock the English-speaking nurse in your sights and attempt to silently stop her from leaving with the rest of the team. However, your fingers only brush the skin on her wrist when you try to seize a hold of it, and the nurse recoils away, reeling in to give you a sort of a displeased glare.
“… yes?” she drawls. “What is it, sir?” “I'd like if you stayed for a tick, Delaney,” you tell her. “There is something I would have you do.” “If it's about the game, sir, I think the rest of the team should—” “It's not about the game, Delaney. It's a personal request.” “Personal?…” the word calls a look of dubiety to her face. “… it had better be important, then.” “Thank you, Delaney,” you nod. “Have I ever told you about your beautiful eyes?” Delaney groans. “… with all due respect, sir, go to hell.” “I've been. It's overrated. People die way too often just because they forgot to put their sights on that tiny, sparkly point somewhere on a rooftop half a mile away. Delaney,” you assume a graver cast. “What I'm about to ask of you is critical, and I trust you will take it as such.”
“… just tell me what it is.” “Very well,” you agree. “What I will need of you is to inform me immediately if anybody that isn't me, the Princess, or one of the staff appears on the battlefield – and I do mean immediately. No tarrying. If somebody is spotted, I want to know about it the very instant it happens. Not later, not on another occasion, not by the way some other time. Instantly. Do you understand what I'm trying to say?” “… anyone in particular I should look out for?” “No. Simply let me know if any third party turns up on the field. Can you do that for me?” Delaney considers for a moment, nervously licking her lips. “… I suppose… but I guarantee nothing.” “No need to. I'll be fine with any results.” “… then I will try to… sir.” “Thank you, Relay,” you answer with a nod. “With that dealt with, I suppose we should rejoin our crew before they begin to worry, eh? Let's get going, ladies first.”
Delaney remains defiantly on the spot. “… I refuse, sir.” “Pardon?” “… excuse me, sir, but I know your type, and I also know that you know my face is up here, not down on my chest. I'll lock the door behind us, so you can go on ahead.” “Ah,” you let out. “If you say so, then I'll… take the lead, I suppose?” “… by all means.”
Bloody hell, you think. If her carmine eyes are as good at spotting potential dangers as they are at intercepting occasional peeks directed at her charms, you and Team A should have few concerns regarding the upcoming battle.
12:45, late August, year unknown. Somewhere in the Bamboo Forest.
It's quiet now. Deep in the undergrowth, below all the leaves and branches, between thick, wide stalks of waist-high grass, you lay like a predator in wait, breathing, slowly and steadily, despite the weight of your equipment pressing on your trunk. Sun is at your back, glinting down into your eyes off the plexiglass of the holosight compartment on your borrowed AR, but you pay it no attention. “Standby,” you whisper off to the side. “One, roger.” “Two, standing by.” “Kilo Hotel, in position.”
Having ensured the safety of your team's hideaway, you switch your laryngophone on and speak softly through the waves of ether.
“Relay, report.” “Uh, roger that, Papa Bear,” Delaney's voice responds. “Give me just a moment…”
As she collects sit-reps from all the teams, you snap the magazine out of your borrowed AR and examine the contents of the heavy aluminium container. Not for the first time today – and most likely not for the last – a mass of glittering, nebula-like jelly substance sparkles at you from the inside, making you frantically recall Reisen's lecture about visible forms of magic. It's only an illusion, you tell yourself. It's just made to look like that in your eyes. It's not going to clog up the barrel, conk out, and splatter over your face at the least appropriate moment. If it does, somebody is going to get hurt.
There was also, you noticed, a flippable liquid crystal display on the PEQ Box mounted on the side-rail, but it didn't seem to be working, so you flipped it off and let it see the rest of its day in the armoury. Never haul more rig than necessary.
“Relay to Papa Bear,” Delaney's voice crackles in your ear-piece. “Alpha, Beta, Charlie and Delta report all ready and waiting – remaining ground teams are still shifting into attack positions, ETA in four to five. Echo is locked and ready to deploy at your command.” “Mike Foxtrot?” “Uh… the girls here say negative, sir. No kill, no sight… Uh, sir?…” “I'm here.” “Golf Two… it could be a misunderstanding, but… Golf Two reports 'your voice is sexy', sir.” “Excellent,” you smile to yourself. That's one test passed by your Guardian Angel. “Send Golf Two my thanks and tell her she did well.” “Uh, excuse me, sir?…” “Keep me posted. Papa Bear out.”
Having tapped your upstream off, you load your rifle and switch it from safe to semi-auto. “Squad, move out.” “Copy.”
You and your three squad-mates emerge from the brush and proceed along the predetermined approach vector, tearing swiftly through the copse with your hands and bayonets, trying to make as avoidably little noise as possible.
Grass and other overgrown plant-life gives up under the soles of your heavy-duty boots, and the combined poundage of a full ACU, a tac vest loaded to the gills with spare ammunition, and the SOPMOD M4 carabine Kaguya insisted you adopted for the duration of the game.
“Fan out. Four-metre spread.” “Roger that.”
Adel and her friend, Elena – a tall, dark-haired surgeon – take the three and nine o'clock positions at your flanks, nodding at each other in mute agreement as they space out. There's something oddly alluring about the way a slender female finger squeezes the cold, thick metal of the trigger, you note inertly as you observe them. No, perhaps the mere concept of an armed woman, capable of kicking your arse back to the previous week pulls the sort of a mental string that makes your senses tick. Mokou, Reimu, Kaguya… even Delaney, in her own degree. It does explain quite a lot, now that you think about it.
“Hot today,” the Princess complains behind your back. Yes, you are, you agree inwardly.
“Contact north-west,” Adel snaps all of a sudden, kneeling and pointing her aim sideways. Elena, you, and Kaguya take heed and crouch as well. “Enemy patrol, two foot-mobiles, thirty meters. Haven't acquired us yet. May be more around.” “Hold your fire,” you instruct. “Squad, on me. Watch your sectors.” “One, copy.” “Two, copy.” “Why can't I be Three?” “Cut the chatter, Kilo Hotel. Stay frosty.”
Without another word, the four of you sneak up to the edge of the narrow glade Adel pointed out, and sure enough, two flecktarn-wearing, bunny-eared hostiles seem to be loitering about in the clearing, chatting loudly over their short-wave radios as well as between themselves, quite obviously not taking too much care not to stand out among the botany of the forest. Now they have four barrels gaping at them from the cover of the brush, the poor souls. As Adel said, they haven't quite noticed you yet.
[ ] “Shoot the tide, tide shoots back. Leave them to me.” [ ] “Weapons free.” [ ] “Leave them be. We'll find a different way.”
>>31456 Honestly, there's no need for praises after every update - you're making me blush. Thanks. There's no better motivation than an acclamation from your readers. Still, I am saddened to announce the next update will not appear before Wednesday evening for private reasons. Sorry, and thanks again. Until then, folks. Until then.
>>31485 Now you pissed me off, mister. Caw you, and caw your family, and caw your every relative to the fifth generation back.
Here's your update.
[x] I smell a trap. Keep them on your sights, shoot only if our cover if spotted. -[x] Check the surroundings for anything out of the ordinary and keep an ear on the radio.
“Standby,” you command. “I don't like this, smells like a trap.”
And a bleeding blatant one, at that – no sensible C-in-C with half a brain would leave two stray GI squatting idly in the open without any sort of support to cover their exposed behinds. Unless, of course, somebody either bodged their job terribly, or Reisen is completely out of her mind, which you have absolutely no reason to believe.
Yet here they are, those blasted coneys, strolling about heedlessly, mocking you with their carefree attitude and waggling of the fuzzy ears peeking out the holes in their camo headgear. Cute. As if all the loud-arse chatter wasn't dead enough of a give-away. If this doesn't stink of a set-up, the sky may well be pink and freckled like Her Majesty's cheeks.
“Adel, can you tell what they're saying?” “Yes, but it's dreadfully self-involved, sir.” “Cheeky bastards… Kilo Hotel,” you address the Princess. “How is your humour?” “Um…” she considers for a moment. “… energetic, I suppose?” “Good, you'll follow me. Adel, Elena,” you clock the two. “Stay here and watch those tangos. Hold your fire until spotted or ordered otherwise. Me and Kilo Hotel will flank from ninety degrees west, so keep and eye on that sector and keep your triggers tight. Everything clear?” “Copy, sir,” Adel nods. Elena follows suit. “Two, copy.” “Good,” you smile. “Kilo Hotel, move out.”
Kaguya gives a stilly confirmation, and the two of you dip into the holt brimming the danger-zone of the hostile-guarded dell.
Once again, you take the point and clear a way for the less experienced Princess, ploughing through the stalks with as little stirring as your heavy equipment allows, step by step, metre by metre in a steady fashion, slowly circling along the overgrown edge of the glade, Her Majesty carefully tracing your steps, not letting the two tangos escape her sights even for a moment as you slowly work your way through the brush.
“Baseplate,” you send through the radio. “This is Papa Bear, Relay, come in.” “Receiving, Papa Bear,” hisses your earpiece. “What's your status?” “We have encountered enemy forces, I repeat, enemy forces encountered in Sector India-Lima-Terrathree, two foot-mobiles, possibly a trap, attempting to determine. What's the ETA on those ground teams, over?” “Uh… about good to go, sir. Still waiting on all ready from Foxtrot. Other teams are in position, on call to take directives. Uh… sir?” A pause. “… which sector was that, again?” “India-Lima-Three,” you restate calmly. “I-L-3, Delaney, just off the big bloody ridge to the East. Work those pretty eyes of yours.” “Thank you very much,” comes a tart response. “I can see the 'big bloody ridge' just fine. Shame it's not marked as such on this map. If I may ask, isn't it high time you revealed your secret battle-plan, sir? Girls here are getting kind of uptight, you know.”
“Bloody hell,” you gasp. “Does that mean I haven't told you yet?” “Not anything past 'kicking their arses' and 'going in like the blasted HMS Dreadnought'.” Her voice drips acid. “Mind elaborating so I may have something to base my orders on, sir?” Oh, you would give her something to 'base her orders on' all right. “Okay, listen and take notes, then,” you hold back your choler. “After we have dealt with this little problem of ours, you will give all the ground teams an all clear to converge on the old clinic from the seven, six and five o'clock vectors to cover our recces. If you draw their attention to the front, Papa Bear and Kilo Hotel should be…” Hold up for a second, something is… “… should be?” You turn on a sudden impulse. “Princess?—”
Kaguya, you discover, is standing still a handful paces behind, tears welling up in the corners of her eyes. “Shooter…” she sobs. “.. I think… I think I stepped in something…” There is a high-pitched whine coming from the soil beneath her feet, growing gradually in volume as the terrified Princess awaits your response. …eeeeee… “Did it go 'click'?…” … eeeEEEE… “It did…” … EEEEEE… “… bollocks!”
At the very same moment the noise reaches its peak, you heave yourself at the Princess, sweeping her off her footing, coming to the ground and rolling with her several meters away from the source of the sound.
—WHOOM! – an explosion shakes the air. Scraps of leaves, wood and dirt are sent flying everywhere, raining on your back as you help the Princess regain verticality. “Get up, you're still in one piece! On your feet, Kaguya!” Meanwhile, shouts are heard from the glade, and not only there – it seems all around multiple squads are reporting their presence, calling words you can't understand. One pair, left. Two pairs, right. Three pairs… Sweet mother of… are they everywhere?!
You take Her Majesty's hand, rip a round metal can off your thigh-sheath, pluck the pin out, then toss it over your shoulder. When the smoke emerges, you dash through the hurst, back to where your two team-mates should be. “Adel! Elena!” you yell through the radio, forgetting the language limitations. “Papa Bear! We are compromised! Fall back! Pop the bloody—!”
Before you can round off, first shots are let fly – gunfire pours through the air like a horizontal rain, hosing coils of tracer enfilades – die-straight zips of energy that vanish as quickly as they appeared, flurries of deep-blue projectiles like a blizzarding hail of glowing needles.
In that hell-hot torrent, you race to rejoin the rest of your squad with the Princess in toll, stumbling and falling to your knees, but righting yourself back again almost immediately.
“Sir!” you hear a call from the side. “Shooter, sir, over here!” It's Adel, and she's signalling at your from a crevice in the forest-floor. You measure the distance, take a faster run-up, and come tumbling into the fissure, taking Princess along into the mud. “Adel!” you snap, gathering yourself off Her Majesty's bust. “Tally?!” “Unknown, sir!” Adel fires a quick burst over the lip of the crevice, then dives down to avoid getting shot back. “Three fire-teams in the least, exact number impossible to determine! We're in deep shit, sir!”
Another hail of bullets shaves the brink of your trench. “Blast it! Elena, get some firing solution on the glade! Those two bastards were still—!“ “Shooter,” your radio interrupts. “Shooter, this is me. Come in.”
You stifle an oath and tap your upstream on. “Delaney, love, not now!” “Somebody is on the field, Shooter,” Delaney whispers in an urgent tone. “You wanted to know, so I'm telling you now. Not later. Not on another occasion.” Oh, for the love of!… “Who is it?!” “I don't know. I'm getting reports of a single person, sweeping the general area. I contacted the ground teams, it's none of theirs. It could be—” Signal wears thin. “—ed-White, Shooter. I'm getting reports of—”
“Contact airborne!” Adel shrieks all of a sudden, aiming her sights up. “Contact in the air! Directly above us! Engaging!” “No!” you attempt to stop her. “Hold your fire! HOLD YOUR—!”
It's no use. Even if she didn't, the enemies would – and they bloody well do. Streams of purple and blue shots plash overhead, seeking to take out a single point of colour on the bleak-looking sky – a lone female figure, floating well above the thick of the forest.
It doesn't take a second for the response to come – and sooner than you can take cover—WHOP! WHOP! WHOP!—a series of gigantic fireballs pound the ground between your and the enemy teams, casting clouds of dust and earth up into the air, shrouding your vision with a curtain of burnt umber.
“Princess—!” you call out. “Kaguya—!”
You're not allowed to finish, however. Before you can convene bearings on the situation, the furious blur dives down onto your position like a Javelin missile, tackling you to the ground, nearly shattering a good majority of your ribs and organs in the process.
“I'll show you to fuck with me!” screams a familiar voice. “I'll show you to shoot at me, you dirty sack of—!” “Reimu!” you cry, desperately shielding your face from the punch that you know is about to come down. “Reimu, it's me! Don't—! For the love of God, please don't kill me!” “You…?”
Reimu draws away abruptly, fast enough to make the mist recede a little bit, allowing you to see her blazing pupils stare at you in dumb stupefaction. Behind her, Kaguya, Adel and Elena are still recovering from the shell-shock, moaning and wriggling about like earthworms in a puddle. They don't seem to be wounded, not worse than you are.
“Why are you—” Reimu tries to speak. “I mean, how—” You take a hold of her wrist and start dragging her off to the nearby bay in the crevice. “Quiet! Relay! Relay, come in!” “Papa Bear?” you hear a faint reply. “I lost you there for a moment, what—” “There's no time!” you bark, shoving Reimu into the recess in the wall of the fissure. “Delaney, is Echo on station?” “They are, but—”
[ ] “Deploy! We've got a civilian on the field, I repeat, civvie on the field! I want an evac, ASAP!” [ ] “We've received reinforcements, but they're heavily under-equipped. Sling a rig our way, over.”
[x] “Deploy! We've got a civilian on the field, I repeat, civvie on the field! I want an evac, ASAP!” [x] “We've received reinforcements, but they're heavily under-equipped. Sling a rig our way, over.”
[X] “Deploy! We've got a civilian on the field, I repeat, civvie on the field! I want an evac, ASAP!” [X] “We've received reinforcements, but they're heavily under-equipped. Sling a rig our way, over.”
Contradictions? Maybe, but it should be interesting.
>>31503 For me yes. One of the options is 'give Reimu a weapon and ask her to join us' the other is 'send Reimu away' Add a write in about backup if you want, but I kinda wonder how would that work if they're all engaging an unknown number of contacts.
>>31503 Oh, perhaps not, but I wouldn't like it if I misunderstood and—oh, I don't know—accidentally railroaded you onto Reimu's route, for instance? You wouldn't like that either, would you? Yes, I'm partially joking, but it's still better to ask, isn't it?
[X] “We've received reinforcements, but they're heavily under-equipped. Sling a rig our way, over.”
At least that element of the line-up hasn't been upset yet.
“Listen, sweetheart,” you chip in. “We have received reinforcements, but they are heavily under-equipped. If you could sling some gear for one person our way, I would forever be in debt. Do it quick though – the weather's shifting into bullshit over here!” “Reinforcements, sir?” Delaney sounds out. “It's the first time I hear of—” “Unforeseen reinforcements!” you haver. “Please, don't make this any harder on me!” Delaney breathes a pained sigh. “… very well,” she gives up. “Echo will be dispatched immediately. Sector India-Lima-Terrathree, southern quadrant, cargo is one lightweight reconnaissance kit, delivery mission Sugar-Zero-One, LZ possibly hot. Permission for flight, sir?” “Permission for what?” “Flight, sir. Permission—for—flight,” she articulates. “Hovering above the ground, very convenient, very fast, better than walking? Ring any bells?” “Granted!” you yelp. “Granted, just get their arses going already!” “Excellent choice, sir,” she mocks. “Echo is inbound, they will see you in two. More remarkably, sir, about the unknown contact, I have received confirmations of—” “Disregard it, Relay,” you advise. “Unknown contact has been dealt with, I repeat, unknown contact—is—down. Ignore all further reports regarding undetermined activity in this sector.” There is a short pause before Delaney speaks again. “… am I hearing right?” “Pardon?” “… Shooter, is the contact with you right now?” “… yes, she is. Is there a problem?” “… I'll be blunt with you, Shooter. This is against the rules. I don't like what you're doing, and I hope it backfires and blows your family relics off, if you have any.” “We're supposed to be on the same team, Delaney,” you remind. “Go to hell, darling,” she snaps. “I'm here if the Princess needs me. Relay out.” I love you too, you add inside, cutting the feed.
Bloody hell, it sure is jammy to be you, isn't it, lucky dog? Mokou first, Delaney second. If you weren't used to having your affairs slide along belly up for quite a while now, this could have been considered one of the more brilliant cock-ups you've seen to in the last couple of days. Now it's merely yet another tot of hot oil sizzling on your naked hide.
“What on earth was all that about? What's going on here?”
Of course, straight off the frying pan you trundle recklessly right into the blaze below – and the crimson flames swiftly take you in, watching expectantly with their dishevelled, wine-coloured eyes, from under an equally dishevelled, coal-coloured fringe.
Getting their flimsy, cream-coloured forearms squashed by your bloody hands as well, you realise all of a sudden. “Sorry,” you apologise and retreat your paws. “It's, er… sort of complicated.” “You don't say,” Reimu smiles thinly. “Could you… take that thing off? I can't see your face like this.”
Why would she need to see it, though? Good manners? Violent intent? Guilt, perhaps? Oh, never bloody mind, will you ever? It shouldn't hurt all too much, unless she decides to break some snouts after all – and even if she indeed does, you have done her enough harm to deserve a cracked nose, if not more. Probably much, much more.
“Absolutely,” you lift the goggles and peel your mask off. “There, is this better?” “Only a little bit,” she admits sourly. “Could you tell me now what the hell have I walked in on?” “War,” you shrug. “What else does it look like?” “War?” Reimu blinks. “You… you're not serious, are you?” “Oh, naturally I'm not!” you give a huff. “Do I look like I'm joking?” Reimu frowns. “… I'm not sure.” “If this isn't war, what do you think it is?” Reimu bites her lip. “Then… you're for real?” “No,” you confess and snort at your own quip. “It's just a game. In fact, we were about to have our arses handed to us when you swept by and made that dramatic entrance. Guess I owe you thanks.” “Very funny,” glares the shrine maiden. “If you could return the favour by laying off the jokes, that would be nice, because I'm seriously not in the mood for those.” “Then if I may ask,” you assume a sober tone. “What in the blazes are you doing here? It's not the best sort of neighbourhood to be hanging around, I gather, and I honestly can't think of a reason for your mingling with the Bamboo Forest folk.” “Ah.”
'Ah' where her eyes suddenly attempt to escape yours and begin to bore into the tips of her careworn shoes. 'Ah' where her palms connect timidly at her waistline and begin tensely fingering each other behind her back. 'Ah' where her lips suddenly become unable to decide whether they want to smile or grimace, and start quivering nervously instead. That's the sort of 'ah' that Reimu gives to you.
“Ah,” she adds one more to your collection. “I, um… I was actually…” “Looking for me?” you hint. “No!” Reimu flashes angrily, then mitigates herself. “I mean—! Yes! I, um… I was actually… kind of, yes…” she casts a glance aside. “Brennan, he, um… he sent me to search for you, to… to see if you were all right, I think…”
[ ] “So, you found me. Do you want a congratulatory kiss?” [ ] “Brennan told you to find me? Why? Where is Keine? How is she doing?”
>>31513 Oh, but you could always do other things to her mouth.
[x] “Brennan told you to find me? Why? Where is Keine? How is she doing?” With his lick, he'll cause Reimu to fall and break her neck and then Mokou will appear from nowhere and burn his balls out. Seriously.
[x] “So, you found me. Do you want a congratulatory kiss?”
So here's her naughty cub – and what a merry chase he led her, too.
One can only ponder the lengths she's gone and the tension she's endured since yesterday to hunt you down, and if your cagey qualms are to be believed, she should be bulging with impatient fluids right now, not piffling on witlessly about the old man's tat as she is.
“—and he, um…” the blushing kitten stutters on, “… he asked me if I… if I would like to talk… you know, about you, since I… since we…” she totters at the thought. You feel, down in the heart of your brain, that if you allow her to go along on her own, her mind will soon shift to a state where she will need an Invisibility Lotion treatment to go out of it. “… b—but I told him I didn't, so he said I should go and look for you, and tell you he was worried, and… and…” she shivers again. “… and if I found you, that I should—that is, if you were alone, or if you were with Fujiwara, or somebody from the clinic, or with—I mean—ah?…”
Hence why you kill the lyrics of her silly tittering by laying a decisive hand on the gravely slope just beside her rosy cheek, leaning in to flick a startled look into her eyes, breathing a silent question at her suddenly sealed lips.
“So,” you whisper, “you found me. My compliments. Do you want a congratulatory kiss?” Reimu swallows and peeks sidelong. “… I… I've actually…” “… yes?” “… I've been thinking…” “… and?” you press on. “What do you think?” Reimu shakes her head all of a sudden. “I—I don't know what to think!” she squeals, looking offended. “I mean, I should hate you! I'd never before had anybody do something like that to me! It was—… it was awful! Stupid! Rude! Selfish! And you know what? I'm not even angry! I should be seething! This isn't normal! This is—!”
Whatever it was, however, will evermore remain unknown.
Reimu squirms violently when you steal her lips, trying to push you away, moaning impotently in helpless disapproval of this sudden violation of her personal space, feeling up the front of your vest in a feeble attempt to escape.
Polite beyond all measure, you let her freely switch targets to your other arm, the one slung idly along your side, seek out your hand desperately, rip open the straps of your protective glove, tear it off, and toss it somewhere aside, then greedily tangle her small, delicate fingers with yours.
All of her stirring dies away in that instant, cured as if it were never there to begin with, merely an illusion of resistance that she never meant to show. Slap, your ears catch a tiny noise, but this time it's only the sound of the glove falling to the moist soil of the ridge.
Calm now, the shrine maiden lets herself be indulged in the warmth of the kiss, clutching at your palm as if it held all of her condensed gallantry and courage, grasping so tightly your fingertips go numb.
Several long seconds pass, and you count them, picturing the numbers slide-showing on the inside of your lowered eyelids.
Six… seven… eight… nine… ten… eleven…
Twelve full seconds before she jerks back suddenly, putting both hands on her deep-red face. “Wha—?!” she blinks. “Wa—wa—wa—?!” “Oh,” you pull away slightly . “Sorry. I, er… I didn't want to start you.” “You licked my lips!” she yelps. “Why did you lick my lips?!” Why? Isn't it obvious? “It's an, er… a sort of a custom,” you explain, feeling inappropriate all of a sudden. “Er… you didn't know? Haven't you ever, er…” No, she most likely hasn't, you realise. “… ah, blast it! Look, I'm sorry, I didn't—”
“Uh… Shooter? Sir?”
Ah, bollocks! You flinch back from the blushing shrine maiden to confront the gate-crashers of your private little moment – and how surprised you are when they reveal themselves to be your retainers, saluting just a bit too eagerly when you turn to face them.
Two lightly-equipped nurses in multi-camo uniforms, sub-machine guns tied to holsters on their backs, their ears shelled inside heavy-looking headphones. Echo team, Delaney's Angels of Death.
“Echo reporting,” one of them says, handing you a rucksack. “Delivery mission Sugar—Zero—One, one lightweight reconnaissance kit, requesting permission to return.” “Thank you, Echo,” you nod, taking the rig. “Aren't you going to stay? We could use some help.” Echo look briefly at each other. “Uh, negative, sir,” one of them says. “Commander Delaney's orders. We are to return immediately upon delivering the package.” “You really pissed her off, sir,” the second adds. “I won't repeat what she said about your mother's moral decency, but it wasn't all too kind.” She smiles. “I think she likes you, sir.” “Oh,” you let out. “That's, er… very—”
“Sir! Shooter, sir!”
Another party-crasher. Adel comes to a stop at your side, gasping for air and grasping at her chest. “Sir, are you all right?” she pants. “When the bombs fell, we—” “I'm okay,” you assure her. “Is anybody wounded?” “Negative, sir,” Adel rights herself. “Kilo Hotel is unscathed. We're still battle-operational. Enemy is regrouping at the moment, sir, so we're safe for the time being. Um, sir?” She glances at Echo. “Is this our reinforcements?”
1/2 [ ] “No, they're not. Adel, could you send for Princess Kaguya? I need her here, ASAP.” 1/2 [ ] “No. Adel, meet Reimu, your reinforcements. Help her gear up, please. Get acquainted.”
2/2 [ ] “Echo, good job. Kiss Delaney for me. Good luck. Dismissed.” 2/2 [ ] “Echo, please, warn Delaney that my tolerance only goes as far. Thank you. Dismissed.”
Okay, since I'm knackered, I'm going to quickly drop this in here. [ ] Quick, shorter update tonight. [ ] Longer update tomorrow or the day after. Sorry in advance if these sorts of polls are off limits. If they are, simply pay it no heed. Oh, and somebody, please, go 'Reimu～' or something, because if I get 'Yaffy'd one more time, I might lose what little faith I yet have in my skills. See you in a few. Until then, folks. Until then.
>>31589>>31590 Okay. Alternatively I could [X] Shorter update tomorrow or the day after, if you would like. It's always a possibility. Oh, and I truly hope you found the Reimu enjoyable, and aren't just trying to stay my fragile, tiny ego from going suicidal over its inability to deliver quality miko-service. N-not that it would, anyhow, I-I'm just saying, dummy! M-my purpose here is to entertain you, after all! It would be bad if you put my pleasure before your own, you know! Geez, what a bunch of selfless airheads my readers are! Sheesh! >>31584 It honestly eludes me why you would want Shooter to do Yaffy with Reimu. I mean, how does one do a stick-man, even? This is all too baffling to think about.
I think I'll check back with you once I'm done sleeping. Until then, folks. Until then.
 “No. Adel, meet Reimu, your reinforcements. Help her gear up, please. Get acquainted.”  “Echo, good job. Kiss Delaney for me. Good luck. Dismissed.”
Wouldn't that be just outstanding? It's not as if this little hide-out wasn't about to change into a fully-fledged sérail at this rate despite it being well past bleeding tea-time, was it?
“Sorry, Adel,” you axe the girl's hopes. “Delaney doesn't want us daring more lives than necessary out here, so Echo has to go. They're needed elsewhere, and we can't be keeping them all to ourselves.” “Ah,” Adel sighs, disappointed. “Does that mean we'll have to make do with what we have, sir?” “Would it be a problem for Papa Bear?” you flash her a wink. “No, Adel. We've got our reinforcements all right. Meet Reimu, the newest addition to our team.”
Adel's eyes follow your pointing to the shrine maiden, who gives a concise, somewhat stiff curtsey, her eyes flickering between your squad-mate and the laces of her shoes, while the former attempts to puzzle out the reason of her rather unexpected appearance in the trench.
“Hakurei, sir?” Adel questions, scowling like a thundercloud. “Isn't she the one who—” “It doesn't matter,” you cut her off. “Whatever grudges you may have, I'd like if you kept them off the field and accepted what little help she can offer. Same is requested of you, Reimu. Understood?” It's generally not a good idea to get aggrieved at someone who has just done certain tingly things to your body, and even Reimu realises that much – she swallows her pride and gives you a timid nod. “… yes,” she drones. “I'll try.” “Adel?”
Adel puffs, but makes a salute. “Copy, sir. As long as she stays out of the way.” “Excellent. Now, if you would be so kind as to help her gear up, I would be obliged. Teach her what Papa Bear is all about. Echo,” you crook a finger at Delaney's team. “Let's give the ladies some privacy, shall we?”
You lead them off to one side, then stroke each firmly on the shoulder. “Good job, Echo. My thanks. I owe you more than you could imagine.” “It's nothing, sir,” one of them says. “Just doing our job. Besides, it's Commander Delaney that gave us a clear for this mission, so it's her you should be thanking.” “I suppose,” you smile. “Kiss her for me then, would you kindly?” Echo glance archly at one another. “Both of us, sir?” “If circumstances allow, that would indeed be nice.” One of them stifles a soft laugh. “I can see now why she likes you, sir,” she grins. “Little Miss Delaney delights in honest men-folk.” “Does she?” you ask. “But she yelled at me. She hates me.” “Oh, no. Not at all. See, she's only being, you know, austere because of this war-game affair. When she's off her duty, she'll probably give in and weep all her sorrows out on us.” “And drink herself naked,” the other nurse adds. “Oh, yes, that too. Delaney is a beast when naked. I mean, when drunk. Anyway, it would be a shame if you two didn't get along, even if the Princess has got her sights on you. Or if you have yours on the shrine maiden,” she bats her eyelashes at you in a naughty fashion. “Either way, I imagine we shouldn't tarry too much – we've all got our duties, don't we? Let's tend to them as we should. Permission to leave, sir?”
“Granted,” you nod. “Good luck on the hunt.” “Thank you, sir. Don't tell Delaney what we said, all right? If you do, she will want to have our heads off, and we wouldn't like that one bit. By the bye, my name is Nathalie, and this,” she flicks a thumb at her colleague, “is Noémi, my apprentice. We usually do the night ward at the front desk, so if you ever feel sleepless, feel at liberty to look in on us, okay?” “… will see. Dismissed.” “Lovely. See you around then. Oh, I almost forgot!” she gasps at her own lapse. “I do believe I have something that is yours, sir.”
Nathalie hands you the glove Reimu tore off of you earlier, then starts for the other end of the crevice, tugging Noémi at a trot toward the nearest swerve in the fissure. They salute Adel and Reimu on the go, and quickly disappear behind the natural intersection thirty yards down the way, leaving you with an even muddler mess of a mind than you had before.
Greeks got it right, bloody hell. There are times when the Gods are on your side, and then there are times when they sit perched atop of their stupid mountain, pissing with laughter at all the mischief they have caused. Bastards.
Anyhow, that's it for this little hitch, you concede. Wars don't win themselves, and while cruel and unsparing, there is one good thing about scrunching in their shit. It doesn't give you the time to think of all the other types of shit you might feel tempted to get into.
“Elena,” you rasp, plunking onto the ground beside her. “Sorry for the hold-up. What's the situation?” “Quiet, surprisingly,” Elena admits. “Enemy has disengaged and backed away farther into the forest. Either they esteemed our numbers were greater than they are, or that strafe back there gave them one hell of a scare. Sir?…” She makes a worried face. “Who on Earth was that? It wasn't one of ours, was it?” “No, not back then it wasn't.” “Sir?” “Never mind, you will see. Soon, I reckon. Kaguya?” you accost the Princess. “Kaguya, what in the blazes are you grinning at?” Kaguya steers her twinkling gaze at you and giggles girlishly. “He he, I think I'm in love~” “Princess has been like this since the shelling,” Elena explains. “Must be trauma. She's never been in a real war before, so this must be quite a shock to her… Uh, sir? If I may, where is Adel?” “Over there,” you jerk a nod sideways. “Briefing our new squaddie, I reckon.” “New squaddie, sir?” Elena blinks. “Is that… no, it can't—…” she trails off and frowns. “… sir, I hope with all my heart I'm mistaken about this new booter being the same cheat that nearly bombed the crap out of us earlier.” “Sorry, Elena,” you say. “It's complicated.” “It had better be, sir,” Elena spits. “Isn't this against the rules?” “It's a special case, Elena. I got a permission from Baseplate to draft her in.”
“Her, sir?” “Yes, and I would expect you to know her already,” you inhale and exhale just a mite melodramatically. “Elena, love, I will ask of you the same I did of your friend. Please, for my sake, keep whatever quarrels you might have with the new girl to yourself until after we have done our part in this operation. Kilo Hotel, you too. It's imperative that you understand I don't want any conflicts inside my group.” Elena shakes her head. “Is this an order, sir?” “Yes, Elena, this is an order.” “… roger that, then. As long as she—” “—stays out of your way,” you fill in. “Listen, I'm sure she won't be a problem, so unwind a little and give her a chance to prove herself, okay? Do it for—”
“Who won't be a problem?”
Reimu kicks in, leaning against the slant at your side, giving you a beautifully playful look. Her usual red-and-white liveries have changed to greens and browns of an IIFS harness, a pair of patterned trousers, and a short-sleeved, olive-hue under-shirt. Her arms, starting from the bands of a pair of leather gloves up, are on display, and they are a wonderful shade of beige. Naysayers may claim beige is a trite colour, but bloody hell, when it's applied to those arms, it's pretty damn interesting. In her hands, rests a jury-looking, stub-barrelled rifle of a model you cannot discern. Delaney must have really chosen the most auxiliary piece of hardware she could lay her paws on.
Reimu makes a little bow, as if showing off a new dress. “What do you think?” “You've got arms.” “You've seen them before,” she smiles. “Or have you forgotten?”
“Ahem,” Adel, who has taken up position beside the Princess, cuts in then. “Sir, we're running short on time. Could you spare us the pointless twittering and get back to business at hand, please?” “Very well,” you agree. “We've lingered in here long enough, and the clock is ticking. Is everybody prepared to move out? Kilo Hotel? Kaguya!” “Y—yes!” Kaguya salutes, albeit weakly. “Uh, yes, sir!” “One, good to go.” Adel reports. Elena follows. “Two, locked and ready.” “Three,” Reimu nods. “Ready to go.” “Excellent. Let's move out, Papa Bear. Vector through the glade at twelve o'clock, keep low, and do it double time. Two, go ahead and take point. Watch your sectors, everyone.” “Copy, sir, taking point.”
Elena draws up to climb over the edge of the cranny, but as quickly as she heaves herself up, she swallows an oath and dives back behind the shield of the slope. “Tits! Fucking tits!” she hisses. “They're back, sir! Mike Foxtrot spotted at one o'clock, escort four tangos! Bleeping rascals have a fucking MG set up out there!” “Weren't MGs supposed to be stationary defence only?” Adel asks. “They were, they freaking were! Shit! Bitch!” Elena swears repeatedly. “They hauled one all the way here from their base! How fucking unsporting is that?!” “Are you sure it's an MG? Maybe they're trying to intimidate us.” “See for yourself if you don't believe me!”
Adel peeks over the lip of the fissure. “Oh, shit!” she drops behind the cover. “They do! They have a whole damned nest tacked together! When did this happen?!” Reimu lugs gently at the sleeve of your tunic. “Mike Foxtrot?” “Mike Foxtrot,” you explain. “M.F. Stands for Mokou Fujiwara. It's a codename, just like Kilo Hotel. Easier to identify over the radio.” Reimu's eyes narrow. “Fujiwara? Fujiwara is here? Is she in our team?” “No, she's—“ Zing, zing, zing. “Shite!” you blunder when scattered burst fire glances off the tip of the rent, inches away from your ear. “Bloody hell, they've spotted us! Kilo Hotel! Do you have any smokes left?” Kaguya shrugs helplessly as another hail shears the grass over her head. “Can't we go around, sir?” Adel suggests. “This ridge goes on down West, so we should be able to—” “We can't go that way! Boundary rules, remember?” “East, then—” “Impassable terrain, we can't go flying over that.” you bite your lip. “Shit, shit, shit… Listen up, I've got a plan, but I will need absolute obedience for this one to work. Elena? Adel? If you want to live through this, you have to do what I say, and when I say. Can I count on you?” Adel inclines her head. “One, copy. I'm all yours, sir.” “Two, roger,” Elena drawls. “I'll watch Kilo Hotel, don't worry.” “Reimu?” you ask, not looking back. “Can we trust you? Reimu—?”
“HEY! OVER HERE, YOU WHORE OF A BITCH!!!”
Everything goes to the devil in that moment – and as if to add to the injury of ruining your clever scheme, it all does happen at an insufferably laggard pace.
Earlier than you can react, Reimu leaps into the open, taking a slovenly stance, aiming through her sights in the direction of the hostile nest.
Enemy takes note of her presence and opens fire at the reckless shrine maiden, sending spates of white-hot stings grazing past her hair and togs.
Adel and Elena peer their rifles over the edge, screaming challenges and spraying shots themselves.
Kaguya drops to her knees and squeals hysterically.
In all that disarray of things, you spring onto your feet, attempting to yank the shrine back down the trench by the belt of her pants. Not quick enough.
Not even remotely quick enough. You couldn't possibly be more belated if you tried.
In that very second, Reimu pulls the trigger, and an ear-piercing note ruptures the air when the tiny firearm spews out what could well be the largest bloody bullet you have seen in your entire life. Easily larger in diameter than the trunk of a hundred-years-old oak, the colossal projectile burns a wavering path through the brush, and detonates at the front of the hostile furrow.
—WHOOOM! it explodes, letting out a shock-wave that nearly sweeps the shrine maiden off her legs. Elena jumps out of the ditch and forcibly yanks Reimu back into cover before a hail of shreds and dust comes raining on your position.
You cast a quick gander at the impact site, only to catch a glimpse of two persistent live tangos popping smoke and dragging bodies of their unconscious or numb team-mates away from the blaze. Mokou included. Bollocks. So much for going easy on her.
“Why did you use your own magic?!” Elena shrieks at the shrine maiden, who can only squirm helplessly in her expertly trained grip. “What the fuck were you thinking?! That's strictly off the fucking record, you god-damned half-wit!” “I didn't do it!” Reimu protests. “I just—I just did what Adel told me to do, that's all!” “Then how are you going to explain that fuck-huge crater over there?! ” “I told you! I didn't do anything! Let me go!” “Elena, please,” you pat a mollifying palm on the raging nurse's back. “It's not the best of times for bickering. Enemy is in retreat. We've got to move, and we've got to move fast. Now, preferably.” Elena swears, but withdraws her hands. “… respect where respect is due, sir,” she hisses, “but this sort of behaviour is going to get us killed yet. Mark my words. Princess?” she approaches the still-cowering Kaguya. “Princess, we're moving out, do you hear me? It's not safe here, we've got to go!” “I don't want to—!” Kaguya whines. “On your feet, Princess! I'm not joking!”
You ignore the two, and instead help Reimu regain a steady footing. “I won't ask,” you say, passing her the dodgy gun. “Just don't do it again, please.” “I did nothing bad!” the shrine maiden complains. “I just pulled that thing Adel told me to pull, and it went off on its own! I didn't use any magic!” “Hush,” you lower your voice. “I believe you, but others don't, so for the time being, you're on the bleeding red line, do you understand? Keep to my back, and don't use that piece of tat until I order otherwise. Is that clear?” Reimu dithers. “… it is, but I really didn't—” “Yes, I'm sure of that.”
'It is not a rare occurrence for things to explode in her hands after all,' you think.
Fourty minutes later. Papa Bear's location: Old Clinic Building, heart of the Bamboo Forest.
It's all but quiet now. Sounds of heated fire-exchange round off in the distance again and again, over at the other side of the Old Bamboo Forest Clinic's squat, decaying silhouette. Stray shots wheeze through the clump up above, knocking off leaves and an occasional branch, then harmlessly fade out a hundred-odd yards abroad. Having all gathered in full strength on the perimeter of the hostile Head Quarters, the ground teams began their feint of a frontal attack, enabling your slightly crowded squad to ghost along the rim of the snare-field, and find one of the few serviceable entrances remaining in the withered, moss-grown back-walls of the building.
Adel and Elena situate themselves at both of its sides. “One, ready.” “Two, ready.” “On my mark,” you state and load a shell. It cracks pleasantly when you do. “Princess, do you know what this thing is?” Kaguya squints at the weapon in your hands. “Uh… I'm pretty sure it's a gun.” “It's the KAC Masterkey, Princess, a Remington 870 breaching shotgun attachment. Useless in mid-to-long-range combat, excellent for other calls. Do you want to know why it's called the 'master key'?” “Um… I think?” “Watch then,” you smile. “Three, two, one… mark.”
—woop! shrapnel comes flying off the wooden door-frame, casting up a cloud of splinters in thick-white smoke. Before it can clear, Adel and Elena charge inside, firing two shots each in perfect unison, without a second of lag. “Clear left.” “Clear right.” You storm indoors, scanning for hostile threats – but find none. “All clear. Squad, move on.” “One, copy.” Adel pokes one of the unconscious tangos with the tip of her boot. “Sleep tight.”
“Two, copy,” Elena takes the lead and proceeds down the hallway. “Zero movement.” “Check those corners.” “Yes, sir,” she says. “… sassy cock.” “What was that, sweetheart?” “Nothing, sir,” she mutters, tipping over the next turn. “Passage, clear. Looks quiet. On me.” “Stay frosty.” Reimu secures the six with you at her side, while Adel and her friend wade at the front, the Princess in close toll, sandwiched between the two pairs, not quite sure what to do with herself. Guess those virtual battlefields don't translate too well into real-life face-offs, do they.
Out of the blue, Elena stops at the edge of a seemingly random passageway, and raises her hand to call you over. Only when you do, you begin to hear the muffled chatter coming out of the gap in the slightly opened door, as well as a lot of artificial, whirring noise, as if a bunch of aged computers were stored inside, muddling over an especially hard mathematical allegory.
“Package inside,” Elena declares. “Three tangos of escort, likely to be armed. Course of action, sir?”
[ ] “Open, bang and clear. It's time to seal the win.” [ ] “Weapons free, but be careful. Keep the package alive.”
>>31636 That's precisely what the Internet suggested when I consulted it about my PL military lingo and its rather inadequate English translations. Hopefully it isn't as jarring as one would fear. >>31612 As if anybody would dare tread that path. Oh, wait. Collaboration of Missing Numbers. My bad. >>31625 OH YOU WOULD TRY AND NOT BE OKAY, YOU FLAT, TWO-DIMENSIONAL SOD! I DOUBLE-DARE YOU! I TRIPLE-BLOODY-DARE YOU!
By the way, I posted another Fuku short in /others/. Enjoy, and I'll see you next update. Until then, folks. Until then.
[X] “Weapons free, but be careful. Keep the package alive.”
Inside? Here? How remarkably convenient. Nearly too much so, in your modest opinion. It's definitely not excessively concealed, you appraise. They must have had a hidden motive in this sort of inferior arrangement, but what is it? Why wouldn't they place such a high-priority objective deeper in the entrails of the complex?
Evacuation? No, not an option, the package was not meant to leave the deployment site except for when extracted by the competing team. Supervision? No, that is being done through the radio, and the building's aged surveillance grid has been confirmed to be entirely off-line, which negates the possibility of visual oversight. Quick access? What for? Kinky photo-sessions with sexy Miss Captain when nobody else is looking at her? Conceivable, but unreasonable. Only a single feasible option remains – and that is a ploy. Which sort of a ploy it is, however, eludes you completely. Nevertheless, you tighten the hold on your rifle.
“Stand by,” you whisper to your squad. “One, take the opposite side, quietly. Two, keep a notice on those tangos. Mark time until my go. Reimu,” you usher the shrine maiden to come closer, “I would have you remain with Kilo Hotel and watch her back. If this is a trap, I would like if you helped her out into the open and re-joined with another fire-team in case we fail to secure the package. Do you think this is doable?” Reimu lets the far end of the hall leave her sights and gives you a fleetly smirk. “It's the first time I've handled a firearm, you realise?” “I know,” you return the smile, “and I am willing to take the risk.” “If that is so, I am at your orders.” “Excellent. I would also like if you took this,” you unholster your side-arm and present it to her, handle-first. “It's the 1911, my personal favourite, so try to be prudent with it, okay?” Reimu takes a hold of the grip and makes an understanding nod. “I will.”
Her fingertips kiss briefly against yours, and a flicker of pleasure curtly crosses her lips when they do, making her crimson-red pupils hastily shift aside. It lasts a scant, but very lovely moment before the shrine maiden wards it off, swings the faulty carabine over to her back, and snaps a firm grasp around Kaguya's wrist, all to much of the Princess's mad blinking. Not that Her Highness is too aware of the situation, you note somewhat bitterly – the baffled spark is still present in her eyes, and she hasn't spoken a great deal since the ambush and the mishap back in India-Lima-3. Elena may have been right about this entire show being a little bit of a shock to her. Maybe it's better this way, you muse. If nothing else, leastwise she's not making a scene. “I'll be taking her away,” Reimu proposes. “It's going to get busy around here soon, isn't it?” “Good call,” you praise. “Now go, and remember my instructions.”
Reimu shoots you a sloppy salute with the 1911, then retreats down the hallway back in the direction of the entry-point, hauling the mildly opposing Princess behind her, and sweeping the darkened side-passages with the notch-sight of her gun. You see them off to the closest turn, then exhale a sigh when they vanish beyond the crumbling walls. Now all that is left is the actually hard part.
“Papa Bear,” you gesture at Adel and Elena. “Pay attention, this whole place reeks of subterfuge, so we'll have to proceed with utmost caution. Let's do this nice, clean and smooth, all right? I want the package alive, so keep your nerves and arms at bay, do you understand?” “We don't need her alive, sir,” Elena notes. “Certainly, but I want her conscious all the same. Copy that, Elena?” Elena groans. “Copy, tits.” “Cracking. Now, this is our raison d'etre, so I want no unexpected cock-ups. Is that clear?” “Clear as ice,” Adel chips in. “Don't be a bitch, Elly.” “Fine, holy dicks. I won't. Fuck.” “I love you two,” you smile. “Ready? On my go.” Elena and Adel both fix their grips. “One, ready.” “Two, ready.”
When the grime clears, it's long over. Four downed tangos adorn the mouldy floor-boards, and their last subsisting crony stands disarmed at the other end of the lab, by one of the many monochrome displays present in the room, her hands staled warily at head-level, her chest thrust proudly out despite the distraught look on her face.
“Hold those slippy fingers where they are, Inaba,” Elena threats. “Move a slightest bit, and I'll have them all off, do you hear?” Reisen regards your team-mate coldly. “Elena Lefevre, Consultant Maxillofacial Surgeon, Eastern Block, room Sixty-Nine. Are you aware your superior is utterly appalled by this act of discourtesy?” Elena laughs. “Nice try, Udonge.” “I thought as much. So,” Reisen switches her attention to you. “What are you waiting for? Kill me now. If you expect me to talk, I fear I will have to disappoint. Sorely.” “I don't expect you to talk, Reisen,” you tell her. “I expect you to keep quiet and look comely when we drag you out of this place. Baseplate,” you press at your mike. “Baseplate, this is Papa Bear, package is secure, I repeat, package—is—secure. We are ready to extract the enemy officer, Sector Juliet-Delta-Kartefour, requesting assistance, over.”
… you wait a few seconds, but there is no response, only mute static.
“… Baseplate?” you try again. “Baseplate, this is Papa Bear, the package is—… ah, bollocks! Adel, are you receiving anything?” Adel checks her radio. “… negative, sir. No signal.” “Elena?” Elena fiddles with hers a bit before answering. “Nope, not getting through. Must be all this garbage blocking out the link. Should I try raising other teams, sir?” “No,” you say. “No point, we'll just move along on our own. It's not a long way out, so we should be—” “—pa Bear?” your earpiece grates all of a sudden. “Papa Bear, do you copy?” “It's on! Bloody hell, it's on! Affirmative, Relay!” you send back. “Papa Bear copies! We have secured the package, I repeat, package is secure! Requesting immediate EVAC from the field, sector Juliet-Delta—” “—forget it, Papa Bear,” Delaney interrupts. “Echo team is on the move to Site Oscar Charlie, and will be arriving momentarily. Stay—where—you—are, Shooter, this is a direct order from the highest summit. Do not move, or you will be declared hostile and disposed of accordingly.” “Pardon? Delaney, sweetie, what is this supposed to mean?” “There has been a change in the plans,” Delaney declares. “I'm not your beloved 'Relay' any more, Shooter.” “What? Why—” “I will see you soon, darling. Very soon. Delaney out.” With that, she drops off, and you find yourself staring in wide-mouthed disbelief at the radio-box in your vest. Did you just hear all of that right? Delaney…?
“Sir?… Sir, are you there?” You shake out of the shock and look to your team-mate. “… yes, Elly. Yes, I'm here…” “Is there trouble, sir?” Adel asks. “You are pale.” “Trouble?…”Trouble would be a massive understatement. “No, Adel, it's not trouble, it's—” —it's what? What are you supposed to tell them? Delaney's gone off her rocker and is on to our arses? As if that is going to solve anything. “No, it's not important. Listen, we have to—”
“I've got your trouble right here.”
Each of you, the entire team, veers at once to Reisen, only in time to see her toss a round, black, metal can into the air at your twelve.
Everything explodes in a ripple of acute, white noise when the stun-grenade goes off. Chaos erupts inside your ears, now flooded with a shrilling, high-pitched screech, while your brain makes its every bleeding effort to comprehend the blurred, still after-image seared into your retinae. Captain Reisen Udongein Inaba, in her charmingly tight uniform top, blenched slightly back, shielding her cunning, little eyes from the stunning glow of the flashbang she has just ejected. What a curious picture, you observe. Blast, under different circumstances, it might have even been sort of cute. Not in this case, ostensibly.
In a fit of panic, you attempt to fire blindly at the enemy Captain, but your rifle is promptly knocked out of your hands when you do, torn off of its mount and discarded somewhere aside. “—!” Floor quivers beneath your feet when two heavy thuds crash with the parquet, followed by somebody coursing swiftly about your flank, lashing a double coil of nylon cord around your forearms, and forcing you several steps over to an old, squeaking office-chair, where your hands and upper body are tied to its ruined back-rest. Pinioned like a piece of gammon over live grills, all you can do is swear inert curses at your inadvertence and await your vision to unhurriedly revert to normal.
When it does, Reisen is looming triumphantly over the unmoving bodies of your squad-mates, dusting off her hands as if she's just done scouring an exceptionally untidy bedroom.
“Is everything okay?” she totters to your side with a heartfelt look of concern. “Does your leg hurt? I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be so harsh, I had no other choice.” “No, it's all right,” you assure her, “but I would really appreciate a forewarning next time you're about to throw yourself at me. Maybe I could catch you then, you know… like a princess, here by the shoulders, there by the legs… carry you to my château with the sunset at our backs… whisper sweet nothings into your ear on the way… sounds fun, doesn't it?” Reisen blushes scarlet at the notion. “Ah, no! Please, I wouldn't mean to bother you! I'm not a princess, I'm just a simple nurse, nothing more!…” she sighs faintly. “… although that does sound rather sweet, I must admit…” “Just say the word.” “No, I'm sorry,” she gives a regretful smile, “I really am, but we cannot do that. It's nothing to do with you, honestly, it's… Sorry, I would really like to, but in all sincerity, I—…” her voice tails off. “N—never mind me, I'm blabbering again! More importantly, since we are here, we should carry on with the game, yes? Let's do that, okay?”
Without waiting for your consent, she pulls closer and stamps one of her steel-shod boots between your legs, nearly crushing your cowering, startled family heirloom.
Even though her thigh is inches from your face, it's somewhat difficult to focus on the fact. “R—Reisen? What are you—” “Silence,” she barks, glaring. “We will talk now, Shooter, and if you value your pitiful, worthless manhood, you are going to be a good puppy and answer my every question. Where is the Princess?” You grit your teeth. “Which Princess?” “Don't toy with me,” Reisen yanks at your collar, “or you will find that I play rough. Talk. Where. Is. Kilo. Hotel.” Is this how she wants to do it? “… bite me, Reisen,” you force a snort, “I could go on for hours. Which Princess? Which Royal Court? Which Pair of Laced Underwear? Which Belgian Philosopher? Go on, sweetheart, try me. Give me an excuse to continue. Which Princess?”
Reisen draws even closer, breathing so hot she could melt the pelt of a polar bear right off. “Nobody will come to save you, Shooter. Nobody. You are all alone, betrayed by your closest subordinates, deep behind enemy lines. Your team-mates are all dead, and you are completely unarmed. Where does all that gall come from, Shooter? Is it fear? Are you afraid of me, young man?” “Not at all, my cute, little bunny,” you mock. “Not at bloody all.” “Tell me where the Princess is, Shooter. I might spare your life then.” “If you give me a kiss, I'll consider. On the lips, Reisen, five seconds, no blinking. I want to see the look in your eyes.”
Reisen clicks her tongue and drifts away. “So smug,” she says, “but how long is it going to last? Do you still cling on to hope that Echo is going to save you?” “Echo?” you choke all of a sudden. “How do you—” “Keep your friends close, Shooter,” Reisen smiles, “and your enemies even closer. One might wonder how his very enemies may prove his greatest allies.” Your heart sinks. “Delaney—?” “Oh, yes, Delaney indeed!” Reisen laughs with scorn. “Why, don't tell me! Did you honestly think she kept her distance because she simply didn't like your attitude? Silly, little Shooter. Poor, little boy. The look on your face! Do you want to see a mirror? Or maybe you want to talk now?” “… go to hell, Reisen.” Reisen smiles wryly. “We shall see how tight your tongue is when your beloved Relay puts it in hot irons.” “Go blow yourself.” “If that is your final word.” Both you and her fall silent then.
“… Reisen?” you ask after a moment. “Yes?” “Is Elena going to get in trouble for this?” “No, silly,” she lets out a soft giggle. “I was just trying to bully her.” “Oh.” “Do you want to talk about something else?” “Sure,” you say. “Why not. What about? How cute you look in that uniform?” “If you must.”
—Not more than ten minutes later, the door bangs open, and Delaney marches in, her team following closely being her back, sweeping the corners of the room for hints of hostile activity.
“Black Raven,” Reisen turns to greet her. “Finally, you sure took your—” “Shut it, Inaba.”
Delaney doesn't let her round off – she whips a pistol from the sheath on her waist, and fires four quick shots, one through each of Reisen's limbs.
—Thunk! —Thunk! —Thunk! —Thunk!
Reisen plummets to the floor like a rag-doll, while Delaney calmly goes to stand over her numb body. “Glory to the Moon, eh?” she flouts. “Glory to Houraisan, am I right, Inaba?” “Raven!—” Reisen coughs. “—what—… is the meaning… of this—?!” “Oh, it's quite simple,” Delaney says. “I am taking over, my friend.” “What—?! —how can you—?! —you traitor!…” “As if you have the right to speak. Sleep tight, Gold Rabbit.”
Delaney steps off Reisen's corpse and wipes the slide of her pistol with a piece of cloth. “Timely rescue, eh Shooter?” she scoffs. “One more minute and you'd have been a bleeding toast, isn't that right, darling?” Not even twitching an eyebrow, she puts the gun to your forehead. “Timely rescue indeed. Echo team, leave us alone. Set up charges along phase lines Abel and Whisky, prepare for initiative Anvil Down, code Amber! Double time, move out!”
Echo all listen to her ridiculous order without a moment's doubt. They file out of the laboratory, one by one, until only a sole last remains. “What are you waiting for?” Delaney growls. “Get out.” “No.” Reimu locks the door with one hand and takes out her 1911. “No, I won't get out, thank you very much for the offer.” She sets her aim on Delaney's back. “I will, however, tell you to drop that thing and back away. Slowly.” Delaney freezes. “… are you out of your mind, Hakurei?” Reimu assumes a poisonous grin. “Some say I am.” “… what if you hit him by an accident? Haven't you thought of that?” “He would find it preferable to your bullshit.” “How do you—?” “Because I've known him longer than you have, Black Raven,” Reimu says. “Now, if you want to live, you will let go of that thing and slowly back away. One wrong move, and I'm blowing your innards out. It's not a joke, Commander, I'm completely serious.” Delaney shifts her furious look at you. “Tell her not to do it, Shooter! This isn't—!… this is not what she—!” “On the count of three, Commander. One…”
[ ] “Do it, Reimu. Kill her.” [ ] “Don't do it, Reimu. Listen to Delaney. Leave.”
>>31650 Yes, I'm sorry, I passed out before I could finish the update yesterday. I should be back to my regular schedule the day after tomoOH GOD GET OFF MY BACK! GET IT OFF! GET IT O—hyan~! >>31647 >Your update just made this Monday bearable. And your comment made mine. Cheers.
Oh, and since I'm updating slower now, I'm removing the best-of-seven rule to let everybody have their say in the vote. Next update tomorrow or the day after. Until then, folks. Until then.
I reread the update closely, Delaney is too suspicious. There were plenty of other ways to handle this situation. She could should have simply dropped the gun and stepped away from us to explain herself. As far as I can see, she still has the gun pointed at Shooter's head. Bad idea.
If we drop her, then we will most likely have to face off against Echo too. This shouldn't be too much of an issue and could also be an opportunity to score more miko points.
I'll change my vote if someone has a better argument.
>“Tell her not to do it, Shooter! This isn't—!… this is not what she—!” [x] "Tell her what? She's the one with the gun; Reimu's running the show now and I trust her judgement. Too bad for you I guess."
Sorry, mates. StarCraft 2 happened. I'll be back soon. Hopefully. Feeling pretty giddy myself about the next couple of scenes, but I really had been waiting for this game. And it feels like old times aaaalready.
>>31698 Well, we're having our fun and that's what matters, isn't it? Yes, this is a poorly disguised attempt to get somebody to say "yup, your story is pretty fun, despite all the sodding typos, you half-blind nonce! God, do you forget to breathe and blink too? I can't believe I'm still reading this!" I'm sorry, never mind me. Sniff. I'll just be pumping out more Marines and Marauders over there, I think, then A-Move them everywhere, because that is how much I suck at StarCraft.
[x] "Drop the gun and you'll have 10 seconds to explain yourself before this lovely miko blasts your mutinous ass to hell."
“Hold up,” you order Reimu's counting to quell. “Let us be civil about this. I do not wish for my seconds to start killing off each other without consideration. It's the first step on a sloppy road, and I would like to refrain from taking it just yet.”
Delaney narrows her incensed glare. “Do you honestly think you are in a state to make demands, Shooter?” “Do you believe you are, sweetie?” you let her deliberate the idea. “No, I don't think so. If there is any reason left in that pretty head of yours, duckling, you will drop the gun and take the following ten seconds to explain yourself, before this charming shrine maiden blasts your mutinous arse to hell.” “Do not presume you can boss me around, Shooter.” “I don't – I'm giving you a chance to redeem yourself. Use it, Delaney. Do it for me.”
“You prattle too much,” she grinds her cute, spotless teeth. “Way too much. It doesn't become you, Shooter. It's not how you talk to the one who holds your life on the line. It's not how it goes.” “Oh, but that's why you like me, isn't it?” you grin at her. “Please, sweetheart. Indulge us.” Reimu tightens her stance. “Indulge me.” Delaney gags a curse. “… this isn't what she thinks, Shooter. Tell her to get that thing off my back.” “Only if you get this thing out of my face,” you impose. “It's a square exchange, isn't it? Please, don't be irrational. Stop making unsightly faces and let go of that gun. Now, Delaney.”
Delaney twitches angrily, but secures her revolver, snaps the safety locks on, and drops the heavy side-arm to the floor. It makes a dent in the panels at her feet, clacking balefully at this obvious mistreatment of an esteemed warfare keepsake. Disarmed now, the modish nurse turns and shoots a cross suggestion at the chary shrine maiden. Reimu nods and lets her shoulders rest. Delaney smiles bitterly.
“Now tell the shrine girl to get out,” she requires. “This is between me and you, Shooter, it doesn't concern her. It's the Highest Summit's command that we talk alone, and she is in the way.” “No,” you force on an icy look. “Don't forget our agreement. Explain yourself, or your short-lived taste of power will end here, in this dirty stack of rotting wood and rubble. Why did you turn on me, Relay?” “Turn on you?” Delaney lets a scowl crook her lovely face. “I turned on you? Shooter, do you even realise how much I've done for you today? Reports you made were piecemeal and irregular, your orders were preposterous bullshit, and your flirting was so absurdly galling I snapped my best pair of headphones in half!” Indeed, now that you look at her, she is not wearing shells over her ears like the rest of her team. “I can't overstate how irresponsible, unreliable, harebrained and self-centred you are! You are a fool, Shooter, an idiot, a rascal, a boar wild and hirsute, a gambler, a bastard with no heritage to speak of, a speculator, a brainless coquette and a gormless philanderer! I can't think of a single quality that would put you above the level of a baby chimpanzee!”
Slightly hurt, you look to Reimu, but find no help. “Delaney, love, please,” you take on her ill-tempered glower. “Don't lose the sight of our mission. Reisen is here, right in front of us, and all we need to do is extract her, then the game will be ours. If you want the honours, go on ahead, neither I nor Reimu will interfere, I swear—” “Screw the game,” Delaney heckles in. “I don't give a shit about it, Shooter. If I had to place it on my priority list, it would be somewhere between a cockroach and the white stuff that accumulates in the corners of your mouth when you're really thirsty now. I don't care for the game.” “… what do you want, then?” She smiles. “Oh, it's simple. Have you ever heard the saying, if you cannot win with glory, lose with grace?” “Wasn't that the other way—”
Even if it was, nobody cares. Delaney dives for her cast-off firearm, quicker than a bunny with its tail on fire, flashing you the briefest coup d'oeil of her naked thighs, then bristles up to take aim at your hollow head, all without cracking even a single blink. Reimu, however, reacts just in time, and tackles the nurse from behind, knocking the gun out of Delaney's hands, and her young, unprepared body – into a crash with yours. Old and ruined, the chair gives up under the weight of two people, and the two of you topple to the floorboards, your arms screaming in pain as they absorb the impact of your fall. Nonetheless, you stifle a groan as you discover Delaney is laying pressed to your front, boring you with a stare of her acidly yellow pupils, her satiny hair enveloped around your ears. “Drink with me,” she whispers, looking entirely serious. “Now—?” “No, you imbecile, after the game.” “What—?”
No use – before you can finish, a shot is heard, and the nurse's flawlessly smooth arms lose their strength – her eyes drift off, her breath, marked by the weight of her assets on your chest, becomes shallow, rhythmical, while her head rests against yours, and having graced you with a lonely, unpremeditated kiss, promptly lolls over to your shoulder.
Okay, you aren't the greatest communicator in the world, but if she wasn't sending out more contradictory messages than a schizophrenic's video diary, you might bloody well fling your psychology papers overboard. Why is everybody in this place so bent on being so knavish?
Reimu hales Delaney's deadened figure off your torso, then proceeds to help your baffled self to an upright sit. Fragments of the broken chair drill into your buttocks, but you pay them little heed. “Cut me loose,” you say. “My shiv is on my belt, left side, to the back.” Reimu follows your nodding to the knife-sheath at your waist, carefully draws the blade, and even more carefully slices through the threads holding your wrists together. When she is done, you gather yourself off the ground, then knead the aching rope-marks on your forearms' skin. Gentle as she appears, Reisen sure does know how to tie a decent knot.
Reimu hands the knife back to you. “I'm sorry,” she says, looking crestfallen. “I should have intervened earlier, I knew she was plotting something when I ran into her outside, I should have…” “No, you did well,” you assure her. “If it wasn't for you, I'd have been… well, a bleeding toast, probably.” “Really?” Reimu brightens up, cocking her head like a spaniel waiting for somebody to say walkies. “Does that mean I—that is, um—we, does that mean we can still win?”
Possibly. If Delaney and Echo were the only traitors, chances are the Baseplate is still operative, and if the ground teams weren't called off, it is likely that the package can still be safely extracted, Echo's resistance or not. One problem is, if Delaney's orders came from the Highest Summit, aren't you the one betraying your superiors? If so, shouldn't both sides of the conflict strive to eliminate you? Only one way to find out.
“Reimu,” you note a swollen spot on her cheek and touch it with your palm. “How did this happen? Did Delaney do this?” Reimu freezes. “Ah. Ah, no—I mean, yes, um…” she frantically escapes with her eyes. “… I hit—I hit myself on her, um… the rear part, I mean, of the gun, when I—I mean, it's nothing bad, it doesn't—ouch!—it doesn't hurt, honestly, I've had worse…” “Reimu.” “… and it was my fault, I didn't really have to push her so hard—I mean, I did, but I didn't have to, that is—you know I can't control myself, so I had no choice—” “Reimu.” “—I didn't want to, but if I hadn't, she would have shot you, and I couldn't forgive myself if—ah?!”
Her voice breaks off when you steal her lips, and her fingers once again seek out yours, almost instinctively now, as the shrine maiden closes her crimson eyes, letting herself enjoy the moment to the fullest. Mokou would kill you for this. Keine would kill you for this. Kaguya would kill you for this. Delaney would likely kill you for this too, but in spite of all that, you don't feel any less encouraged.
“I… I don't know why I like it,” Reimu confesses seconds later. “I've read about it many times, but I always thought it was dirty. It's like my whole world is being turned upside down.” It probably is all right, and there is yet another underneath it for her to discover, you think. Not now, however. “I'm happy for you,” you tell her, “but we really need to move out. Echo will be back any time soon, and knowing my luck, it's going to be sooner than I would find comfortable. Reimu, my 1911, please.” Reimu weighs the gun on her palm. “… It's a nice toy, you know? I think I might have taken a liking to it… Sigh, why am I saying this? Here, I suppose you will need it.” “Well, I can't aim a rifle if I'm to carry Reisen.” “Then we are going to drag her all the way out there? On foot?” “No, there is a garage by the west wing of the building,” you reveal, trying to devise how to tote the sleeping nurse. “Don't ask me why, but Kaguya had somebody take a car from the New Clinic and park it there. Our little Princess has watched one too many films, I reckon, but at least it gives us an opportunity to escape unharmed. Bloody hell, how do I carry this girl?” “Why don't you give her a piggyback?” Reimu proposes. “Uh, but if I do, won't her—… ah, blast it. God will forgive me. Sorry, Reisen,” you heave her up gently and let her rest on your back. “Who in the blazes wears a skirt to battle? Reimu, take my M4, it's the one over there,” you point it out with your chin. “Snap the, uh… the thing at the front, on the bottom off, there is a knob on the side. We won't need it, hopefully.”
Reimu examines the gun. “It works like the broken one, doesn't it?” “Sort of. They all work more or less the same.” “I should be fine with this, then.” she throws a glance down the sights. “It's kind of heavy.” “Will you manage?” “I will. Let's get going,” she takes a position by the doorway. “You do it like this, yes?” “Yeah, and you always clear the side of the room you are on when behind the door. So if you're on the right side, you go right – and vice-versa.” “Copy,” she smiles at the word. “I think I'm getting a hang of this.” “Keep it tight, then. Ready? On my go.” “One, ready,” she says. “Can I be One now? Since there is nobody else…” “Sure, why not,” you agree. Since there is nobody else… “… Reimu?” “Yes?”
[ ] “… you do know I'm with Mokou, right? I love her, so… please, be sensible, okay?” [ ] “Nothing, just wanted to say I lo—no, I probably shouldn't be saying this. Move out.” [ ] “As soon as we are out, I want you to leave the field and go back to the village. Tell Keine and Brennan I'm all right, but if the old goat does anything suspicious, please, I need to know.”
[X] “As soon as we are out, I want you to leave the field and go back to the village. Tell Keine and Brennan I'm all right, but if the old goat does anything suspicious, please, I need to know.” -[X] “Sorry for all this, but it seems you're one of the few people I can trust”
Strangely enough, this game doesn't feel like a game and all of his troubles and 'situations' are fresh in my mind... am I being too paranoid?
[X] “As soon as we are out, I want you to leave the field and go back to the village. Tell Keine and Brennan I'm all right, but if the old goat does anything suspicious, please, I need to know.” -[X] “Sorry for all this, but it seems you're one of the few people I can trust”
I don't know what's going on anymore. I thought this was supposed to be just a simple war game, but somewhere along the line stuff went out of control. Was it Reimu's appearance, or something else?
One little side-question, since I'm curious. Do you usually examine the other votes (if there are any) before voting? If so, do you stick by your choice, or do you go with what the majority said? Your answer will have no effect on the story, I'm simply asking because I'm genuinely interested. Will try to update in the evening, if I manage to get some sleep. I'm completely knackered right now. Until then, folks. Until then.
[X] “As soon as we are out, I want you to leave the field and go back to the village. Tell Keine and Brennan I'm all right, but if the old goat does anything suspicious, please, I need to know.” -[X] “Sorry for all this, but it seems you're one of the few people I can trust”
So our suspicions were correct eh? Looking forward to having a drink with Delaney after.
>>31727 I usually read the update and choose an option depending on what I read in the other votes. If I'm first to post or there is little discussion, I'll try to justify my vote a little.
>>31727 Normally I go with the smartest option, or at least the one that isn't likely to get us killed.
In this case I'm going with: [X] “As soon as we are out, I want you to leave the field and go back to the village. Tell Keine and Brennan I'm all right, but if the old goat does anything suspicious, please, I need to know.” -[X] “Sorry for all this, but it seems you're one of the few people I can trust”
[X] “As soon as we are out, I want you to leave the field and go back to the village. Tell Keine and Brennan I'm all right, but if the old goat does anything suspicious, please, I need to know.” -[X] “Sorry for all this, but it seems you're one of the few people I can trust”
“It may be sudden,” you begin, “but I will have a favour to ask of you, Reimu. Personal favour. It has nothing to do with this game – but it does with me. With both of us, probably. Will you listen?” “Ah, yes,” she says, “yes, of course, I would, um… I would love to. We're… we're friends, yes?” “Friends?” you ask. “Friends.” Reimu makes a skittish smile. “We are, aren't we?”
Deep inside, you feel a profound sort of click – the sound of two things destined to meet finally falling together, nudged into motion by the willing air of the flighty girl you would have sworn just yesterday would ever remain your relentless enemy.
… and yet, you cannot help feeling somewhat threatened by her coy look. It is common knowledge that as soon as a friendship passes a certain point – some obscure and secret boundary – a woman quite automatically becomes overwhelmed by a raging compulsion to complicate things. To make any future interaction a livid nightmare for the simple mind of a male careless enough to spring her fancy. Reimu is, you realise, to all intents and purposes a blossoming young lady, with every customary beauty and shadow that usually goes with it. Eyes lovably cunning, but full of silly ideas. Chest bewitchingly petite, but filled with arrogant pride. Knickers still sort of immature, but full of adult dreams; and in her case, a head harbouring a timid mindset with an acute inclination for uncanny violence. One hell of a recipe for fireworks.
Either way, come what may, you can't let yourself lounge around too long. Getting stranded here until tomorrow's tea-time feels like a just a little bit too daring strategy, and even before that, you would get splattered in bits of exploding shrine maidens, which doesn't sound nearly as appealing as it might do at first.
“Yes, we are,” you confide, “we're friends, so please, don't… don't get too mad at me, all right?” “… it's going to be something bad, isn't it?” Reimu moans, biting her underlip. Whether it is because she is flustered, disappointed, or thinking how to announce she's in fact stuffed full of explosives and about to blow up, you cannot tell. “Um, I said I would listen, but—” “No, no,” you assure. “It's nothing bad, it's just, er… It's important. Sorry for all this, I really am, but it seems you're one of the few people I can still trust.” “Ah,” the confession seems to appease her. “… okay, thank, um… thank you… I guess. I'm, er… listening.” “Thanks, Reimu, you are—… No, never mind. Listen, what I need you to do is, as soon as we get out, you have leave the field, return to the village and tell Keine and Brennan I'm okay, and we—me and Mokou— that we are both safe and sound. It's what they wanted you to do, no? Check up on us. If not for them, can you do that for me? Please.”
Reimu blinks. “… you—you want me to leave?” she asks, looking wounded. “But I was just starting to enjoy myself!” “Sorry,” you apologise. “Honestly, I'm sorry, but really, really, I need somebody to keep an eye on those two. Especially on Brennan, that shifty old goat.” “Brennan?” “Yes. I don't trust the blasted codger. If he does anything even remotely suspicious, I want to know. No,” you correct, “I need to know, Reimu. This is more important than our—than anything. Please, I'm begging you, Reimu. I'm not trying to rid of you, I swear.”
Reimu sighs. “… you know, and this was really fun, while it lasted. I'd have loved to take it to the very end too, but…” she shakes her head. “… I—I don't really have much choice, do I? Okay, I'll—I'll go and buzz off, if you really want me to… b—but not before I walk you out of this place!” she adds quickly. “I want… I want to, um, you know…” “Stay for a while more,” you fill in. “Isn't that exactly what I suggested?” Reimu titters nervously. “Haha, yes, I… I don't even know what I'm saying any more. D—Don't listen to me, I'm not making sense, I—” “You're getting better.” “I—… what?…” “At talking,” you smile. “Didn't you tell me you were no good at it? You're getting better.” “Ah.” “Kissing too.” “Ah—?!”
And there goes the discharge you so anticipated. More florid than a rose in full bloom, the shrine maiden clings to the nearest wall, hopelessly attempting to hide her blushing cheeks from your apparently very embarrassing stare by melding them with the flaking grey paint, squirming her fingers around the grip of her rifle, mutely laughing to herself about your not-all-that-witty compliment. —boom… or something. It wouldn't be too tactful to say it out loud, however, so you let her enjoy the cooling embrace for one more little moment before clearing your throat in the least unobtrusive way one can manage while still maintaining a necessary degree of obtrusiveness.
“Ahem. One?” Reimu gives out one last gasp, then rights herself, rubbing the blush off her face. Or at least trying to. “Y—yes, I'm—… I'm locked and ready, sir.” She retakes the position at the door-frame. “One, ready.” “On my go.” “Copy.” “Reimu?” “Yes?” she asks. “What is it?” “There is paint on your nose.” “Ah.” “It looks cute. Okay, go.”
One quarter afterwards, Old Clinic Building, West Wing Ward Garage, Papa Bear & Gold Rabbit
—“Sorry once more, I've got to do this.”
Reisen doesn't object when you buckle her to the front passenger seat of the dusted Chevy Blazer, and even smiles in her sleep when you give her rumpled mop a quickie pet. Having double-checked her safety belts, you shift to the other side of the car, briefly hold one of the back doors open, then go and take your place in the right-hand driver's seat, at the oddly large steering wheel.
When was the last time you drove a regular vehicle? One, two, three… three years ago? It did not end well either, if your fragmented memories are anything to go by. Breathe. Ignition switch? Check, and somebody has even gone through all the trouble of leaving a key behind. Breathe. Clutch? Check, under your foot. It's a little squeaky, but hopefully nothing breaks while you are at the rudder. Breathe. Accelerator?… no, better not touch it yet.
Only now do you realise how quiet it is without team-mates making reports or complains every few odd seconds, and as if to rub salt into the injury, your short-wave radio has been miserably quiet ever since Delaney's sudden betrayal. Reimu, the silly cat, briskly took to the woods after you had helped her wriggle out of her gear and lent an ear to all of her discomposed promises. 'I'll be back,' she said, 'but I don't know when. If Brennan doesn't do anything, I'll try to visit in a few days, if I can. I want to see—no, don't listen to me. I… I probably should go. Goodbye. Thank you. Bye. Have fun. Remember me. Until the next time, yes? I'll be seeing you then. Shooter? Can I call you that? I… I don't think I've ever called you by a real name. It's stupid, isn't it? I always just called you an idiot in my head. No, I don't want to go yet, I… Thanks again, really, if it wasn't for you—um…? Shooter? What are you—ah?!'
“Don't laugh, all right? I haven't done this in years.”
The S-10 roars to life like a wintering bear woken by the smell fresh, hot honey, and swiftly takes you through the Garage gate, smashing it to splinters as if it was made of plastic pins and soggy cardboard, not iron hoops and inch-thick wooden boards. Then it carries on as though nothing had ever happened.
“Bolloooooo—OH SHITE!” Initial shots skim off the bonnet as the car touches down on the mangled surface of the Clinic's front yard and begins to bounce down along the pits and bumps towards the barrier of the trees up ahead. “Oh no, you little tit, you won't!” You snap up a hold on the wheel and force it to swerve just when an RPG-sized round grazes past your dirtied windscreen. Chevy the Big Green Bastard moans at this inhuman and cruel abuse, but bravely continues its heroic subjugation of the cheeky potholes and ditches trying to get a bite out of its absurdly tough chassis. “That's the boy!” you praise the devilish machine. “Now where's the bloody road?”
Thereaways, you spot, straight past that group of tangos at the fore. Pedal to the metal. “WAHOO, Mohammed!” They scatter and roll out of the way when the S-10 flies growling and spitting smoke through the middle of their midst, jumping over their narrow, belly-deep trench, giving them a good gander of its insect-like underside. More blue and purple bursts zip past the shield of its boot, but before the slow infantry fire-teams can give a chase, you plunge deep and hard into the thick of the forest. Soon the Old Clinic becomes obscured from the sight.
Liberty at last.
“Sweet Queen's nightie robes,” you note aloud, “that was bleeding ace! Did you see that?”
Chevy puffs in respect of your godly driving skills, and you cheer in approval of his. Even if the others aren't nearly as amused, the two of you laugh together at your cooperated stunt. Never again, bloody hell. It was amazing, but never sodding again. Good lord, that was one of the more offish one-offs in your curtailed life.
“Yes, I know,” you tell yourself, “I'll slow down, keep your panties on, blast.”
From here it should be an easy ride anyhow.
Your enthusiasm wanes somewhat when you run into a convoy headed the opposite way one and half a click down the trail. “Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks. Loads of bollocks.”
The leading vehicle – a half-truck of sorts – comes to a halt, and several armed nurses leap off the rear, setting up a concave to trap the lone little Chevy fleeing from the battlefield. Given no other alternative but to either squeeze the heck out of your brakes, or decimate the reckless girl standing in the middle of the road, waving the universal gesture for 'if you don't stop, I'll leave nasty bloodstains all over your windscreen', you decide go with the former option.
“I give up,” you say, slipping out of the car. “I've had about enough thrills for today.” One of the nurses steps forth. “Turn around. Hands on the hood, legs wide apart.” Heck, what else are you supposed to do? You abide by her demands and prepare for the worst. “Okay, what now?” “Silence, and don't move.” She conjures up a black box-mike from her vest. “Summit, this is convoy Zulu, we have encountered the package on approach Two, one comma five down South, no team in sight, no Romeo confirmed. Gold Rabbit is with him, I repeat, Gold Rabbit is with him. Please ad—… negative, Summit, I said no Romeo, no team—…” she makes a longer pause. “Are you certain, Princess? This is—” “Princess?” you let out. “Kaguya is on the line?”
“Yes, Summit,” the nurse goes on, “as you can hear, he's entirely all right. Gold Rabbit appears to be unconscious, but unharmed… yes, affirmative, Summit. I will—… I said affirmative, Princess. Don't worry, he's a man, he can take care of himself. I will now execute Master Eirin's directives. Zulu out.” She flips her radio off and taps you on the shoulder. “At ease, Shooter, the game is over. Hey, you lot!” she waves at the other girls. “Get back on the truck! Double-time! Master Eirin wanted to know how you were feeling, Shooter. We are to take you back to the Clinic for an examination.” “I'm feeling quite splendid, thanks for asking,” you say, dusting off your hands. “Now, if you would be so kind and tell me what in the blazes is going on, I would be very grateful indeed.” “Haven't you heard?” she blinks incredulously. “There has been a change in the plans. We were originally supposed to mop up here, then bring everybody back to HQ, but our Princess got the idea of a… what do you call it… a field party or something at the Old Clinic.” “So that,” you nod at the convoy. “… that's a field kitchen I see, no? And a butt-load of booze.” “Yup,” the nurse nods. “We will designate two groups to transport the, uh… the people back to HQ in case they get too soaked, so don't worry about a thing and enjoy yourself. Or at least that's what our Princess says.” “Sounds like a plan.” “Not a very good one, if you ask me,” she sighs. “But who am I to say. Hey, Élodie! Come up here, you'll drive this young man back to the Clinic, you hear? Careful with her,” the nurse hints quietly, “she tends to get heady with that bike of hers.” “Sure, all right. Uh… captain? Miss?” “Florence.” “Florence,” you taste the name. “Florence, Florence… Please, take good care of those two, okay?” “Which two?”
You flick a thumb back at the Chevy. “Those two.” “… ah. All right. Sure, no sweat. Élodie!” she yells again. “What the hell are you doing there? Time is running short, you'll be late for the party at this rate! Come on, pecker up!”
17:55, Old Clinic Courtyard, Aftermath Party, Papa—ah, screw it.
—It's rather late when you see the field in front of the Old Clinic again.
Tents and stalls have been rigged up and bunged where the terrain allowed, neatly transforming the lacerated snare-field into honestly festive-looking carnival-grounds. Smells of food, sounds of music and humming of the chatter mingle all together in the fine, eventide air, filling it with a cheery sort of mood. Élodie dabs you on the back, then skips off to join her friends at one of the many tables tacked along the murky front-façade of the old clinic building, cluttered with empty cups, bottles and pitchers, more or less completely filled with wassailing bunny-girls, in or out of their military turnouts, making little of the harsh, evening chill.
Eating too, of course. If the food here is half as tasty as the staff, you are likely to be in for a treat.
One of the tables, you observe, is occupied by Delaney and her two happy-go-lucky mates from Echo – Nathalie and Noémi – still oblivious of your late arrival at the knees-up. Another has Reisen giggling merrily in the company of her own team-mates, including the dinky nurse from the day before, whose name you can't seem to recall. Yet another houses two of your slightly sombre squaddies, Adel and Elena, sitting sort of apart from the rest of the flock, blathering over a colourful flask of drink.
With all these delicious flavours for the taking, you can't help but feel sort of spoilt for choice.
As you are about to make your pick, however, a distant gunshot reverberates through the air, catching only the fleeting scrap of your attention, but your heart tickles at the sight of its source. At the far end on the field, somewhat off the rest of the rowdy assembly, Mokou is plinking away at targets downrange, looking perfectly satisfied to be having fun on her own. Princess Kaguya, surprisingly, is nowhere to be seen. Her Highness not showing up to her own soirée? Why are you feeling sort of squeamish about this?
[ ] Join Reisen. [ ] Join Delaney. [ ] Join Adel and Elena. [ ] Join Mokou. [ ] Bother that, go recce the perimeter.
>>31733 God damn it, Yaffy, stop that. You are not a sentient entity, you do not even exist outside of the two-dimensional plane.
Queasy or not, the Princess isn't here, and bless her tits for that.
It's her loss of she decides to bob off the rave, and in all fidelity, you are glad to be off her gem-encrusted, royal leash for a while more. Leastwise nobody is going to make a storm in a teacup over what you are about to do, and maybe, just maybe, the rest of the night will tick by with no other incidental mischances. Yes, that might just work out. Encouraging thought, you muse, but what is more, it supplies you with about the ideal amount of spur to initiate working your slightly stale behind. Hence you start, along the shadowed fringe of the meadow, unseen and unheeded by revelling eyes.
Nor by Mokou, whose sole focus seems to be trying to hit the tiny, rabbit-shaped bullseye across the range. Even as you sidle up her sixth on your tip-toes, she lets off a shot, and cusses sourly when it falls a good twenty inches short of the target, vanishing instead into the hay-stacked barrier beyond. Not dashed by the lack of success, Mokou bolts the spent round out of the rifle and chambers another, then sets her stare through the sights again. That is when you step in, and swathe your arms around her from behind, careful to block the trigger from an accidental discharge.
“Sloppy stance,” you chide, sliding a leg between her knees. “Feet wider, and bend down a bit.” “Tiger, please,” she complains, but her smile betrays her. “Are you sure you're not just trying to feel me up?” “Oh no, sweetheart, I wouldn't think of that,” you kiss her on the cheek. “As if you didn't know me. Get your front grip closer to the magazine too, some of the weight should be balanced out that way.” “Say that again.” “Pardon?” “Call me a 'sweetheart'.” “Don't you know how I feel about you?” Mokou purrs, looking positively angelic. “Oh, that I do, but I like to be told.” “Sweetheart,” you whisper into her ear. “Darling, beloved, sweetie, dearest, lover, my precious little kitty-cat, my sunshine in the sky, my paragon of purity, my—” Mokou laughs. “Now you're making things up.” “Not at all,” you laugh and give her a light nudge. “Now then, it's your turn. Call me cute names. Come on, I'm waiting.” “Tiger, aren't you being clingy?” “Of course I'm being clingy!” you huff. “Who wouldn't?” “We only haven't seen each other for one afternoon.” “Only an afternoon? It felt like weeks. I was beginning to die of loneliness.” “Oh, don't be silly now,” she scolds all of a sudden, “did you really think I would forget about Reimu?” Oops. “Reimu?” you breathe out. “Why do you—?” “I could smell that skank out on the other side of the world, tiger, and you absolutely reek of her. Not to mention she was the one who killed me, so it's not too hard to suss. Besides, Kaguya and I kept in close touch during the game, did you honestly believe she wouldn't tell me?” Princess? Oh, that sneaky, little—! “Mokou, I swear to God and everything that is holy, I had no idea she would show up. Honestly, I was as surprised as everybody else, if not more, and she was looking for us, so I had no reason to—” “Oh, shush, you,” she moans. “Don't get all twitchy on me now. We're both adults, aren't we? It's Reimu that isn't, and it's her I'm worried about. Where is she? I want to talk to her.” “I, er…” you hesitate. “… I sort of sent her back.” Mokou blinks. “Sort of sent her back? Why, Tiger? Didn't she want to stay?” “Uh, she… she was apparently here to check up on us, and she had done her job, so I thought it would be okay to let her off to the village, since Adel and Elly—I mean, er, the nurses, my team, they didn't seem to be so hot on having her around, and I didn't want any more conflicts, all right? Us too, we both know you two don't get along, and—”
—and seeing as you need to lay low for a couple more days, mixing these two explosive personae is one of the least reasonable things you could be doing at the moment. How do you break that out to Mokou, however, especially when she is scowling at you as she is? How to tell her without ruining the lovely moment?
Salvation comes in the form of a glassy clink and the metal click of a selector switch. Delaney sets a half-full, green-tinted bottle down on the counter, heaves up her M4, quickly smacks the mag, pulls the cocking handle, briefly checks the bolt, releases it, then finally taps the forward assist and flips the weapon to semi-auto, everything in a slick, nearly seamless motion of her elegantly pastel hands. Having exhaled somewhat wearily, she assumes a stance – a very, very neat stance, you note – and immediately fires three shots off at three separate targets, all of which hit square in the black zone of the bullseyes. Without a delay, she ejects the magazine, clears the chamber, and puts the weapon down on the table.
Mokou puffs silently. “Show-off.” Delaney meanwhile takes a healthy swig, then points the bottle accusingly in your direction. “Deserter,” she declares, her voice wobbly. “I ordered you to drink with me after the game, and you decide to ditch me for this… this…” she snorts. “Oh, how so ungrateful of me! Excuse me, you are a friend of Her Highness, aren't you? I forget my manners. Everyone can see you groping each other here.” “Tiger,” Mokou glares at the young nurse. “Who is this and what is she talking about?” Uh-oh. Somehow you don't feel all too giddy about this. “It's, er… Mokou, meet Delaney,” you try the diplomatic approach, “she was my relay during the game, as she was the only one who spoke English on our team. We, uh… sort of had a fight, shortly before it ended and, er… I reckon I owe her, uh… a thank-you cheer at least, I suppose.” “Bollocks.” It seems your attempt at diplomacy falls on sterile ears. “Tiger, didn't I tell you Kaguya had an eye on everything? This… snake-eyed slag nearly killed you, didn't she? Why are you defending her?” Delaney tugs at her half-open top and scoffs. “Says who? Weren't you the one who planned to kidnap him to some faraway hutch and rack him to reveal Kilo Hotel's whereabouts?” “That is completely unrelated,” Mokou rebuts. “You were on his team, and you were trying to get him killed.” “Oh, so what of it?” Delaney sneers. “We were all playing dirty, Mike Foxtrot, and our Princess was the dirtiest of us all. Do you want to know what she said to me? 'Go on ahead,' she told me, 'this is going to be so much fun!' Isn't that what you heard as well?” Mokou lays the rifle down and takes your hand. “Tiger, I'm not going to listen to her any more. We are leaving.” “Oh no, you're not!”
Delaney leaps after the two of you, still holding on to the half-empty bottle. Mokou senses her movement, and steps out of her trajectory, pulling you along, but the nurse is not nearly pissed enough to simply fold over and black out – she responds almost at once, reels on her heels for an extra support, then launches again, this time too quick for Mokou to react. —whoop, all three of you flop to the ground, the bottle shatters to pieces, and green shards are pitched to scatter all about. Delaney trips over your head, then goes rolling several yards away through the sheer force of the impact. So does Mokou. So do you, actually, now that you look at it. Tumbling in the dirt, you manage to someway use your arms to brake yourself to a stop. It still hurts like a bitch, though.
Mokou hurries to lean over your aching body, but you are pretty sure it's just a pretty hallucination. There is no way in hell your Mokou is this cute. Backlit by the glare of setting sun, she is almost a Goddess descending down from Heaven, or an exquisite renaissance painting come alive, like the occasional dreams of her you sometimes have in between the usual sessions of grating nightmares. Her voice sounds real enough, anyhow. “Tiger, are you all right?” “Uh…” You do a cursory finger- and toe-jiggling survey. Everything, surprisingly, seems to be there, and your vision is fine – you can see all of her four legs perfectly. “… I think.” “Can you stand?” she asks, looking beautifully worried. “No.” “No?” “Did I say that out loud? I meant yes,” you rise to a sit. “See? Healthier than Elvis. No, hold up—that's wrong, isn't it?” “Very funny,” Mokou frowns. “You're bleeding.” “Uh?…” What? Where? Blast it, you can't see a thing… “… I am?” “Here,” she points at your forearm, and sure enough, a naughty cut marks your skin there, leaking thick and ugly red. “We've got to patch this up, Tiger. Come on, let's get you up on your feet, and—” “No, wait,” Delaney intrudes, but her expression is downcast for a change. “I'm sorry, it's all my fault. I shouldn't have—no, I'll take him to the medic. Let me. P—“ she coughs. “… please, M—… Miss Mokou.” Mokou gives the teen nurse a mixed look. “… surely you can't be serious.” “I am dead serious!” Delaney gasps. “Please, let me—!”
[ ] “No, Delaney. You done cocked up enough today. Go get some sleep. Let's go, Mokou, before I bleed out.” [ ] “Give her a chance, Mokou. If she redeems herself, we'll all kiss each other sorry and carry on with the night, okay? Please.” [ ] “I've got a better idea. I'll go on my own, and you two can slap it out while I'm gone. It's, uh… that way, yes?”
>>31786 That... is actually the 'leave both' option. Sorry, mate. I apologise for any confusion I may have created, maybe I should have worded it a little bit more clearly.
Which is also why I would like to remark that you need not hold back any little comments you might have that could clarify potential misunderstandings (as seen above), since not only does it help me write the story to your liking, but also—oh, dear—makes me smile whenever I read them. No, I do not mean to whine for discussion/speculation/theories/whatever (heck, there isn't even much to speculate about, is there? Maybe aside from how cute Mokou/Reimu/Kaguya are, that is.) like a certain other /shrine/ writ— hold up, scratch that, I don't want to get banned, now do I? Yup, definitely wouldn't like that. Anyhow, don't hold back if you've got something to say, is what I'm trying to convey here.
After all... history is written by the readers.
>>31794 Oh, you are back. I was actually about to—... I mean, I didn't miss you or anything, but I wanted you to know I—er... ... yes. Um, you can, er... you know... stay, that is, if you want to, I won't... yell... at you... any more...
I should be back with updates either later today, or tomorrow night, usual time. Until then, folks. Until then.
[X] “I've got a better idea. I'll go on my own, and you two can slap it out while I'm gone. It's, uh… that way, yes?”
Surely can't be serious?
Oh, you reckon Shirley is bleeding serious all right, but… she probably wouldn't appreciate the joke at the moment. Hapless, ill-starred Shirley, bullied into filthy scapegoat skin so soon after tripping over some artless bloke's empty noddle and nearly slicing her dainty, little nose right off on the shattered glass. Bloody hell.
“No, that won't do, actual,” you let out as you stand, “because I have a much better idea, yes? Got those ears pricked? I'll go all on my own, okay? Meanwhile you two will slap it out here, out of my earshot and sight, how does that sound? Nifty, eh?” Mokou makes a sour face. “Tiger, that isn't—” “Oh no, certainly not,” you chisel in, “it isn't, so look here now, darling. Look at me. I've had my share of pointless bickering for today. I've had my arse shot at, my gob smacked around, my dignity beaten up, my privacy invaded and violated, my eyes flashed, my soles blown up, my machismo put to doubt, my team wiped out, and even my late mother's moral decency questioned,—” you pause to register Delaney blushing a discreet pink, “—so as you can clearly see, my day has been full of sixes, sevens, crocks and bleeding bollocks, and I need to lay quickly down to let them out of my nervous system, before I conk out on the spot and drool snot all over my bloody clothes!” You wheeze. “Cocks, that was a mouthful. So, does anybody have any other dozy questions to ask?” Mokou drops her stare and frets contritely with her sleeve. “Nobody? We are clear, then?” Delaney bites her lip, not even trying to look becoming. “Good,” you smile wryly, “excellent, that means I'm still as splendid a whiney twat as ever. Now chin up, you two, calm down, and tell me which way I go to reach the the blasted medic, because if this faint whiff of gangrene I'm smelling isn't just my imagination, I might soon go all the way and—ah, fuck.”
Almost on the stroke of six, you make a misstep and lose the rest of your already teetering balance.
Naturally, both the ladies rush up to your side to give a helping hand, and to stop you dead of losing a hefty part of your skull in addition to a large portion of your self-esteem. Quite expectedly, they start hissing at one another like two belligerent tabbies the very moment they realise what the other has just done. Now they really are taking the piss.
“Okay, I've had it,” you break free of their hold and step away, “I've had enough of you two! Jesus Blimey Almighty, you are like a pair of cats in bloody heat, did you know that?” Delaney and Mokou back off, clocking sidelong, suddenly not as keen on tearing at each other any more. “Um—” “Tiger—” “Don't—” you flick a finger at them, “—you 'Tiger' me now, angels. No more 'Tigers'. I'm off, you hear me? Off, here, see? I'm off! Off—as—shite. Off I go,” you lurch a few of steps forward with no hitches from the girls, then come to an abrupt stop. “… ah, sodding hell.” “Tiger?…”
“… um,” you mumble, turning, “to the medic, it's, er… this way, yes?”
Of course, you knew they were carnivorous. It was quite obvious letting those two interact would be like prickling your thumb with a needle then dipping it into the Amazon, and they would be the first Piranhas to reach you. Stick a palm their way, and they would have your whole upper torso off, that is what they are. Do you mind? Oh, you do, and how. Okay, maybe you don't. Maybe it's the natural course of things, and you are subconsciously happy to have them going as they are. Nevertheless, this game of Hassle-The-Shooter is slowly growing somewhat tiresome.
Sighing, you step inside the field infirmary… … and soon as you do, the few lights inside go out with a loud snap. Sure, why not. It's not like this is anything new.
When they brighten back up, a lone person is standing there in the mid of the tent, beaming the frivolous grin of a mischievous primary-schoolgirl whose best playmate has just had a bucketful of ice-cold water dunked down her collar.
“I've been waiting, Shooter,” Kaguya declares, sweeping a hand through her lustrous hair, “and I've been waiting for quite a while. Have you been enjoying yourself?” “Were you watching?” you ask right back. “Was all that out there your doing as well?” Kaguya circles around you, laughing. “Oh no, of course not, you silly boy. Although yes, I was watching – watching and taking notes, lots and lots of notes, so many-many notes.” “I didn't see you.” “Oh, you wouldn't!” the Princess hugs you from behind. “I am noticed when I want to be, and I am not when I do not. It goes with the title. Princess of the Moon,” she breathes in your ear, “Ka-gu-ya Hou-rai-san, Lu-na-tic Prin-cess… —oh dear, you are bleeding,” she notes then. “Come on, take a seat and we'll stitch this thing up.” “I don't see any doctors.” Kaguya skids off your shoulders and hums. “Hm, honestly? I could have sworn there was at least one qualified surgeon in here with you. Perhaps you should look again?” Something in your brain snaps together. “Oh, bloody hell, no…” “Hey, I'm trying to do you a favour here!” the Princess sulks. “Don't forget who you are talking to, Shooter! Now sit down, and let me have at that poor twig of yours.” Capital, you think, the Princess is now on her bloody hobby-horse. Good luck ever walking out of here alive.
Still, a royal decree is a royal decree, and there aren't many alternatives you could consider either way. Kaguya hops around the tent, collecting medical appliances from the glaze-doored cabinets, and is soon back at your side, gesturing with a rather professional cough for you to entrust your damaged limb into her care. Not seeing other choice, you reluctantly do.
“Ho-hum,” she croons, swiping the blood off your skin. “Glass cuts are the worst. Only maybe second to paper cuts. Paper cuts are the absolute worst, yes. Ugh, just thinking about them makes me shiver.” “Do you get those often?” “I do read a fair deal, you know. Well… okay, maybe only from time to time, but I also have a lot of that. Time. Time… Speaking of which, say, how long does it usually take for something like this to close up?” “Isn't that common knowledge, Princess?” Kaguya smiles. “If you really feel the need to pry, Tiger, I've forgotten, and even with the rare patient I get to see, they are usually long cured before I do. As for the staff… well, you may have noticed they are a rather odd bunch.” “And what about you? How long do yours take?” “Seconds, Tiger. We—…” her smile wavers. “… —I am privileged, you see. Or cursed. I honestly tend not to think about it any more. So, how long? Days, weeks?” “One day to clot up, a few weeks to heal,” you give a rough estimate. “In case of an infection, possibly more. Much more, sometimes. Months, maybe, half a year at most, and the scars are likely to stay, too. Why do you ask? Got a friend somewhere in a clink?” Kaguya gives a wink. “Oh, you would like to know every little thing, wouldn't you?” “People seem to expect otherwise.” “Oh yes, that they do, don't they?” she lets out a giggle. “Can you keep it a secret, Tiger?” “I'll try.” “Okay,” she says. “Moko wanted me to ask.” “Mokou did? Why?” “See?” Kaguya laughs again. “I rest my case, every little thing, honestly. I'm not telling, Tiger, and I trust you won't get in a stew about it. Will you?”
“Okay, very well, I won't. What about the match, then?” you inquire instead. “Was that whole gigantic cock-up your fault, or am reading too deep here?” “Oh, so full of questions tonight, are we?” “Princess.” “Oh, sure, sure,” she rolls her eyes. “I did wangle this and that, I do admit. Haven't you noticed, Tiger? I prefer the commanding spot, and leave performing to the others. I don't like taking orders. No, sir, not at all. It doesn't sit well with me, you see.” “Why were you so happy to be in Papa Bear, then?” “Oh, I just didn't want to disappoint you, Tiger,” she makes a shrug. “I would have hated to ruin your fun.” “My fun?” “Weren't you having a… what did Moko call it… a jolly good time out there in the field? It sure looked like it, and Elly and Adel, those two baby-girls, they were absolutely delighted with you, you know.” “What about Delaney? Was it your idea to have her betray me?” “Betray you, Tiger?” Kaguya repeats. “No, not at all. I gave her a green light, of course, though she had only said she wanted to have a small private chat regarding a little something-something she wanted from you… funny, I was under the impression she absolutely hated your guts. Strange girl, that Delaney… but you know how they are – all stingy and tart up front, but once you get them on the floor—” “—yes, I get the point.” “I would have found it strange if you didn't,” Kaguya grins and points down at your arm. “Oh, would you look at that – we're done already. Where does the time go?”
In fact, indeed you are – your forearm from the wrist up to the elbow is all patched and bandaged up, with not a trace of red visible underneath the firm, but comfortably flexible dressing. “… not too shabby,” you praise. “Maybe you should consider nursery instead, Princess.” “Oh, so witty,” she pouts. “Do you not remember where I live, Tiger? It would be impossible not to get a line on one thing or the other with Eirin fluttering about you all day long. Now, anything else I should see? Or would you rather I assayed myself?” “No,” you say. “I'm all fine, I only got this one cause of—ah?”
“Hush,” Kaguya urges, gently pushing at your shoulders. “Say no more. Ease up.” Having forced you down to the flimsy camp-bed, the Princess creeps on top of you, and rests her heavy assets on your chest. Not even letting you doubt her motives, she brushes a wisp of wayward hair off her face, and pecks a quick, casual kiss on your cheek. “Treat this as my thanks for today,” she says, drawing back a shade, “and this,” she does it again on the other one, “as my way of buying you off to keep quiet about it,” she laughs girlishly, “and this next one, Tiger, is my personal gift for you. Make yourself at home and enjoy.”
Is it you, or did she blush slightly saying that? Even if she did, you never get to make sure. Holding that unruly hair behind her ear, the Princess inclines again, closing her eyes, breathing slowly and steadily, hesitates for a moment… and then finally strokes her cute, little lips against yours. Somewhat out of a reflex, you seek our her small, delicate hands, but find them pressed hard, too hard, against the sheets – shame, but what can you do? No, perhaps you shouldn't do anything…
“Princess,” you speak after she has at last pulled away, “may I ask something?” “Kaguya,” she corrects, looking buoyant. “Try to call me by the name more often, Tiger. It's cuter that way.” “Okay,” you nod, “Kaguya.” “Kaguya, yes~,” she purrs. “Kaguya. Don't you think this is a little bit too sudden?” “Sudden?” she echoes. “Why would it be?” “It's only been, what, two days since we met?” “Oh, when you have lived for as long as I have, Tiger, you may come to a conclusion all the fancy… build-up and shillyshallying is all but unnecessary theatrics. I made a decision to like you – and so I do like you. Besides, Moko loves me, I love Moko, and Moko loves you – by extension, I should love you as well.” “Very… lovely logic, I must say. Convenient, too.” “It's mine, of course it's convenient. Do you love Moko, Tiger?” “… is this a trick question?” Kaguya smiles. “Take a guess.” “Would 'I love you, Princess' suffice for an answer?” “Yes~,” she chirps, adorably breezy, “yes, it would~.” “Excellent,” you rein back a smirk and take a deeper breath. The Princess quivers in anticipation. “Hey, Mokou!” you shout at the door, “I love you, Mokou! Do you hear me? I love you more than I do anything! Even Keine! I love you, Mokou! If you can hear me, say that you love me!…”
However, the only reply that comes, does so from Kaguya. “Nooo!” the Princess beats her brittle fists on your chest, “Moko isn't there, you idiot! It was me you were supposed to say you love! Nooo! Ah, you stupid, stupid, stupid—!…” she settles down and moans. “I was about to propose something really nice, too. Me, you, some of our best stuff, some silent place, far away… I don't usually drink, but I would make this exception for you, and you… ah, I feel so dejected!” the Princess ruffles her mop in irritation. “Bother, I'm proposing anyway! Come with me, Shooter! My treat!”
[ ] “Okay, but how about we throw two more peeps in? It would make a full fire-team.” [ ] “Actually, I was about to invite you to large it with the rest of our squad. Elly must be in tears by now.”
>>31835 I—I am flattered, but why… I—I mean, it makes me happy, very happy that you like what I'm doing, and it would be useless trying to hide that these sorts of comments make me smile, I just feel sort of, uh… that is, o—of course, I would like if you continued, because it honestly delights me to see others are pleased with my creations, and I am by no means offended, but… i—it's just that I'm also embarrassed, somewhat. Maybe a bit suspicious, too, due to my paranoia and natural inferiority complex, but by no means, honestly, no means at all, am I dissatisfied. I, uh, I would just like to know why, er… why… n—no, never mind me, I'm just talking gibberish, I'm silly. Thank you. Just, um… thank you.
Ahem. Other than that, the vote seems to be tied at the moment, which means that if everything goes well, I should return with an update tomorrow. If it doesn't… I suppose there will be no survivors to make regretful livejournal entries out of despair.
So… Until then, folks. Until then. I'm really liking this catchphrase.
[x] “Actually, I was about to invite you to large it with the rest of our squad. Elly must be in tears by now.”
Of course it would be a treat.
Maybe it is the large draughts of oxygen you have been hoovering today, or the white-knuckled thrill of slicing yourself open on a piece of glass, or perhaps the lingering gale of the engagement you had the dubious honour of barely surviving, but you sense this treat would be the same type of a pleasure a lobster knows it's in for when it feels that first gust of hot steam rising from the cooking pot. It may seem fun at first, but before long, it turns out 'seem' was in fact the operative word. Nevertheless, the show must go on, as the cliché goes, and as per usual, there is little you can do to stop it. Let alone to stop yourself from pushing it even faster forward.
“I am deeply honoured by thy benevolent proposal, dearest Kaguya,” you tell the Princess with as much grandeur as her sitting in your lap allows, “yet if thou wouldst be as kind as to heed my plea before thou passest thy judgement onto my humble soul, I was in all actuality keen to bid thee an offer of mine own. No insolence meant, obviously,” you quickly add, “but I reckoned Her Highness might find the idea worthy of… at least a brief consideration. May I proceed, beloved?”
Kaguya makes a slightly discontented face, but her inability to resist your exquisite tone is more than painfully apparent. If the twitching of her lips trying to battle off a gratified smile is anything to go by, the Princess is either terribly pleased, or royally peeved by your stagely display. If her kissing you softly again is of any indication, however, chances are it is more likely to be the first rather than the other.
“Please, my handsome Knight,” she follows, delighted, “by all means, continue, I am verily intrigued.” “An it please thee,” you do a minuscule bow, “it was my thought Her Highness flattered her lowly servant with such undivided attention, whilst her finest warriors feasted lonesome, denied the divine light of thine heavenly presence. Most unjust a predicament, methinks, if thou excusest this affront of thy nobility. Hence, my brightest of stars, I would query thee—” you give a courtly cough, “—how about we go and get pissed with the rest of our squad instead, eh? Elly must be ankle-deep in tears by now, I imagine, and I am sort of hungry myself, too.”
“Oh—!,” Kaguya moans and nudges gently at your chest, “—you catty bastard! Why did you feel it was necessary to spoil everything like this? Do you have any idea how awesome it was? So awesome, and you ruined it all!” She smiles bitterly. “An it please thee! My goodness, I could listen to you blandish all day long! Why don't you talk like this normally?” “Hast thou no notion of how tiresome it may become, an a certain while is transpired?” you shrug. “It's only amusing up until your tongue twists into a knot, and your braincells go numb from all the 'thee's and 'thou's and 'thy's. So, what wilt tho—blast, I mean—what do you say? It's not that your proposal wasn't tempting, because it bloody well was, but I honestly think we shouldn't push the boat out all on our own. We owe our loyal sisters our victory, so a drink or two would only be polite, no?”
Kaguya sighs and rises to her feet, at last freeing your lap from the captivating warmth of her thighs. “Yes, I suppose you are right,” she says, pacing the confines of the tent, “as much as it annoys me, you probably are… and I feel I shouldn't make any more passes at you so soon after you and Moko—… well, you know what I mean, I assume. She is a strong kitten, our little Fujiwara girl, but this has to be the first time I've seen her so determined about something—… about somebody, rather, a man, nonetheless. I would love to have you, Tiger,” the Princess grants you a meaningful wink, “but I love that silly bird even more than I do my own self. Moreover, I believe you wouldn't dare to hurt her feelings even if I gave my best to thieve your heart away, now would you, Tiger?”
“No, of course I—… wait just a second,” you hold up a hand, “I thought Mokou had had others before? Hasn't she? Didn't you say—?” “Oh yes, I did,” Kaguya admits, “but that wasn't entirely serious, Tiger. I was only mocking, you understand. Despite what she might look, Moko has only opened up recently, you see, especially about the male-to-female, uh… affairs, affinities and such. Okay, she may have brought a boy to the Clinic once or twice, but they were never—you know—her boys, just… people from the village, maybe Keine's pupils or something, I don't know, but never—…“ she pauses, looking for a word, “… well, her partners, if you know what I mean. If you haven't caught on yet, that is exactly why she was so upset about my teasing – she didn't want you to think you weren't her first love… and yet you still did, didn't you?” “How was I supposed to know?” you try to justify, “Mokou was never too… clear about her past.” “Oh, but she told you about her unique affliction, didn't she?” Kaguya clicks her delicate fingers. “Doesn't that prove she trusts you enough to share her secrets, Tiger?” “One would expect somebody as cute as her would have loads of previous experience.” Kaguya laughs. “Don't tell me that, Tiger, tell it to her. Oh, and you might also want to repeat what you said to me just then – the loving part, I mean, of course. Speaking of, mm—” she stops to straighten out her back, purring all the while, “—I reckon we should probably move on, shouldn't we? Buckle down and on your feet, soldier. We are Oscar Mike, no?” “Roger that, Princess,” you nod. “… uh, about Mokou and Delaney, maybe I ought to—” “Don't you brood about that, Tiger,” she comforts, “I will go and talk some reason into them, okay? Meanwhile, you should regroup with the rest of our team, understood? I won't be long, I promise.” “Very well,” you stand up, stretching, “let's get cracking with this hassle, then.” “Let's,” the Princess agrees, “and don't worry about a thing.” Having said that, she skips briskly for the exit, trilling quietly to herself.
“Kaguya,” you stop her before she leaves. She half-turns. “Yes, Shooter?” “Why did you tell me all that?” Kaguya smiles. “It's because Moko has done something great for you today, Tiger, and I would hate if it went to waste.” “Something great? As in?” “That would be telling. Was there anything else?” “But—…” you sigh, “no, I just, er… thanks. I don't know where I would be without you.” “You're welcome,” she gives an assuring look, “but don't let it trouble you. It's only natural I would look out for you two. I was almost about to become Moko's mother once, you know.” “Her mother? How so?” “It's a story for another time, I'm afraid,” the Princess puts a finger to her lips. “Now, Tiger, lay it off with the fretting and put some bustle on before the rest of the night steals away. Outside, soldier, at the double!”
—You leave the infirmary and make a bee-line for your squad-mates' table.
However pleasant the time spent with Kaguya was, it was also a long enough one for the rave to pick up quite the pace, according to the upbeat buzz, jolly singing, as well as the hints of naked skin flashing time and time again among the crowd. Even your solemn subordinates, bless their lovely hearts, had seen off their husky share of drink in your momentary absence, it appears. Nervy as they were before, they sure have let themselves go now that the dust has cleared.
“Hullo,” you announce, drawing up at their side. “Having fun, Adel, Elly?” Adel springs upright from her chair. “Shooter, sir!” she squeals, even as she leaps to hug you. “I'll be damned, we were so worried, Elly and I, like you wouldn't believe! Where have you been, sir? Oh boy, it's so good to have you back, I swear!” She pulls back a bit and spots the bandage on your arm. “My goodness!” she gasps. “Are you all right, sir? What happened? Is everything okay? Do you need a medic?” “No, I'm good,” you tell her, gently trying to brush her off. It's not only the Princess that has those touchy habits, you note. It must be some sort of a custom to rub yourself against the ones you admire back on—what was that, again?—the Moon, yes? Or wherever they had been brought up. What a great place it must be. “Kaguya—“ you resume, “—I mean, the Princess, she plastered it up for me. Thanks anyhow, it's nice to see somebody still cares for me.” “It's nothing, sir,” the tipsy nurse says. “Is the Princess going to join us? I'll go fetch some stools, just cut me a mike.” “Yes,” you confirm, “okay. Get four, all right? Just in case. Might have some extras coming, I feel.” “Copy that, sir!” Adel tears away from you. “One, on the go!” she does a sloppy salute, then coggles off into the thick of the tiddly throng to try her luck in finding intact seats.
In the interim, Elena drifts up, giving you the full benefit of a choked lipstick scowl. “Sir—…” she begins and trails off, fiddling with her palms. “I want to, er…” she finally says, “—that is—…” but she can't think of a way to finish the sentence. Suspicious? Out of character? Adorably sweet? “I am—…” Acting cute? Drunk as a lord? Horribly embarrassing myself? “… you have…” Lost her trust? Lost your mind? Lost any hope that Elly would ever finish a sentence again? “I mean, uh—” “It's okay,” you chip in and take a hold of her hand. “I'm not angry. If you doubted me, that only serves to show how splendid of an operative you are. I made an arseload of idiotic mistakes out there, you should have called me out on more of them.” “… yes, I should have,” she smiles acidly. “No offence, sir, but you are the type of a leader that would make angels throw their harps at him in frustration.” “Yes, I am,” you accept, “and please, Elly, drop the 'sir's. We're all equals here.” “If I do that, I might lose what little respect I still hold for you, sir.” “Cleverly said.” “I watch a lot of movies. If I may, sir, isn't the Hakurei girl with you?” “Reimu?” you probe. “Why do you ask?” “Well, I heard she shepherded your sassy self out of Site Oscar Charlie all on her own,” Elly says. “Not a mean trick, for somebody who—well, who never held a gun before. Wasn't she with you, sir? I wanted to congratulate her.” “Oh, she actually, er—”
“Hola! Gidday! How do you do!” Her Highness reappears in the fray, hauling behind her the pair of bellicose cats. Tugging at their outstretched arms, she beams impishly like a mischievous child, almost as if to contrast Delaney and Mokou's somewhat awkward faces.
“Princess,” Elena greets her. “Good evening. I apologise for my behaviour in the field, I—” “Oh, don't be silly, now!” Kaguya lets the two girls go, then prances up to Elly. “It's why you're the best, isn't it? I've never before had so much fun in my life!” she chirps. “We did what we could, yes? And we won, so don't be sad, chin up! See? Smiling suits you better, Elly. Keep it up. Oh, and also,” the Princess shifts to you, “Shooter, please lean forward and close your eyes.” “Pardon?” “Don't question me, Shooter,” the Princess chides. “Bend over and close your eyes. Quickly, quickly, we don't have all night.”
“Okay…” Seeing no other option, you abide by her royal wish, let your weary eyelids down, and lean forward with as much dignity as you can muster. Moments pass, and nothing happens, but then— “—ah?—” —out of the blue, two pairs of lips press to both of your cheeks, and as tersely as they turned up, withdraw, leaving you to blink your confusion to the world. “… I, er… Mokou? Delaney?” Delaney keeps a respectful lack of eye-contact, trying to look unnoticeable. Mokou glares the same sort of glare as she did the previous night, when you were cuddling in the Princess's bed. “I am so going to make you pay for this later, so you'd better be ready, Tiger,” she mouths almost inaudibly, “and for the love of God, stop blushing, you stupid nonce!” “I, er—okay, yes…” you give yourself a powerful slap in the face. It may be just a foolish pipe dream of a muddled knob, but perhaps there is a chance of a consolation shag coming your way soon. “Uh, Delaney?…” “Leave me alone!” Delaney yells, still defiant. “I don't want to talk to you!” Kaguya laughs and clings on to the young nurse. “Now that we got this out of the way,” she says, “I think it is high time to begin our celebration. Where is Adel, that silly girl?”
“I'm here!” Adel comes back with a bundle of folding chairs. “Did I miss anything?” “Not much,” the Princess grins. “Now, set those up, and give me one more minute. Where did I put that—oh, here it is,” she conjures up a radio box. “X-Ray One, this is Kilo Hotel, do you copy, over?” “X-Ray copies, Summit,” the radio answers. “Standing by for your orders, Princess.” “Thank you, X-Ray,” Kaguya replies, “you are hereby cleared to launch initiative Anvil Down, code Amber. Ignition password is my name. If you would be so nice, start with section Whiskey and go backwards, please.” “X-Ray copies. Initiative Anvil Down is… go. Password, clear. Charges, clear. Firing mission…” a short pause. “… clear. Anvil Down underway in three… two… one… Enjoy, Kilo Hotel. X-Ray One out.”
Sooner than Kaguya can tap off, an ear-piercing, crackling noise rends through the air.
—bang! – a lone firework detonates over the roof of the Old Clinic, flooding the courtyard with an array of colourful lights. More follow, and soon, the bleak evening-sky is bright as day once more, flared up again and again by the sparkling explosions.
“Now, now, don't just stand there,” Kaguya ushers everybody to gather at the table. “Come on, don't be shy. Everyone grab what you like, and we'll go from there. I want to make a toast, you hear me? We don't have al̺̞͙͇͍͔͚͍͇ ̖͍͇͙̳l͙ͅ ͙̬̹͖͖̹̲͖̠ ̠̹͔̲̙͖̞ ̝͎̳̟ ̩͍̤n̹̼̫̮̥ ̺̤̝͇͓͓w͏̢̕͠ḩ̧̕y̵̷ I͎̩̰̮̱̹̱̪ g̲̯ ̦̱̟p͝l͘e̴͟͞ase͘ ͠d̀͟o҉̡̛n̶̨'́͠ţ͢h̦ͅ ͕̘̝̣̬̹͔̻ͅ ̟̮̩̳̜̪͖̻ͅt͎̜̮ ̻͈͉ ̝̫̱̼̥̬.͕̱͈͈̳̤̣-̶̧̡ͨ́̄̿̈̽̐̋͒ͬ̉ͮ͑ͫ͗͟͝-̍̌͗͂̂̅̇ͤ̐̈́̇̎͂ͦ̎̿͝҉-̷̴̵̛̇̍̀̂ͣ̈̓̋̓͋͌ͥ̓-̽̓͂̏? ?̨̉ͣ̏̐̍͢͟-̢̛̉͌̄͋̽̿ͩ̏̉ͦ͑̓̅̇̈́̚͞-̃̾́͋̇̾ͪ̎̍̑͐̆̔̾ͤ̀̔͌͜͏̶̢-̶̢͛͑ͩͪ̈͑͋̉̕͟͡ ͎͕̹̯̲̙̬ͅͅ ͈̟.͇̳͇̼͙̙̱ͅ ̣͇̯̥̩ ̣̼̘͉͔̟.̻͚̗͉͕̟̙̫̬ ̝s̶̨̕͢͝t͏ò̸̵̢͘p҉̨͠ ̴͞҉í̶͡҉̨t̸̨
y͂̏̾o͊ͮ͌̉̍̾̃ͥ͒u͒̂̏ͦ̋ͨ̊̽͂ ̀̽̊̈́gͣ͂rͣ̀͆͗͂̈ͣo̿̅̍̈́̾an and load another round.
“Énorme. Fifty metres. Twelve points, I'd say.” “Stop that,” you demand crossly. “It's not funny. Don't screw with the Border just because you feel like it.” Remilia gives a refined titter, then launches one more orb of white-hot magic. It makes an arch across the deep-blue sky, growing ever tighter, before it finally explodes, pierced by a shot from your rifle. “Inquiétant,” the small vampire comments. “Sixty-five metres in the least. Splendidly done, pet.” “Remi, love,” you lower your rifle and grimace at the little lady, “didn't I tell you to stop it?” “Ah, avouz-le!” she laughs. “En fait vous n'aimez pas ça, n'est-ce pas! Non, Chéri? Come on, admit it!” “Stop messing with the Border, Remi!” you reproach. “It's dangerous! And annoying! … bloody frog!…” “What was that, pet?” “Nothing,” you sigh and cock the gun. “Give me more, Mistress.” “As you wish, pet. Ready? On the count of three. One… two… th ̝̣͈͍r̯̯͇̺̥̳̞ ̩s̶̨̕͢͝t͏ò̸̵̢͘p҉̨͠ ̴͞҉í̶͡҉̨t̸̨
e -̶̧̡ͨ́̄̿̈̽̐̋͒ͬ̉ͮ͑ͫ͗͟͝-̍̌͗͂̂̅̇ͤ̐̈́̇̎͂ͦ̎̿͝҉-̷̴̵̛̇̍̀̂ͣ̈̓̋̓͋͌ͥ̓-̨̽̓͂̏̀̉ͣ̏̐̍͢͟-̉͌̄͋? ?̢̛̿ͩ̏̉ͦ͑̓̅̇̈́̚͞-̃̾́͋̇̾ͪ̎̍̑͐̆̔̾ͤ̀̔͌͜͏̶̢-̶̢͛͑ͩͪ̈͑͋̉̕͟͡
Any second now, the hangover is going to swing down from the ceiling and come down on your face like a bag of cluster bombs. You can remember when you started drinking, but not when you stopped, which is never a good thing. No, never a good thing. Water, you think. Water, or else your tongue will shrivel up like a raisin and roll down your throat. You will your wayward carcass off the bed and into a crawl towards the bathroom.
Immediately as you step inside, something hits you as amiss. No, more accurate would be to say something becomes amiss and lands on the floor-tiles with a wet sound, having first broken off of your unfeeling groin. Or does it? Everything is so hazy… “Bloody hell…” Hold up, this can't be what you're thinking, can it? No, there is no bleeding way in hell your very essence would give up just like this―heck, is that even possible? Surely, under some circumstances it could be quite normal, but you can't recall anything to make it reasonable for your―no. Make time, you can't let yourself be pulled into any rash conclusions. Got to make sure beforehand, yes? Can't let yourself be swayed by those thoughts, yes? Here comes a hip-check, then, and let us pray it's not what you fear it is.
Nope, your willie is definitely still attached. What was it, then? Swearing, you drop to the floor and scan it for anything out of place. Nearly cramming your nose into one, as it were. You pick it up and scan it closer for recognisable features. “… oh, shit.” Yes, you bloody well know what it is. “… oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.” Even dumbed as you are, there is no mistaking it for anything else. You fling the thing over your shoulder and make haste back to the bedroom.
Going to bed with someone for the first time, you realise, is like eating a clementine.
No, not because you can spit the pips out afterwards. When you take a clementine, you never know what it's like inside. Sometimes the peel is tight-fitting, and the fruit is pressing its curves up into the skin, but the clementine itself might turn out to be bone-hard and juice-less. If the peel is loose, the fruit might be burstingly ripe, or it might just be limp and uninspiring. One just never knows. Clementines are much bigger teases than apples or bananas.
One major difference, however, is that clementines don't usually wake up next morning to stare at you with two eyes like burnt holes in a blanket, trying their worst not to look down at your stark-naked libido.
“Ah,” Reimu gasps and gathers the sheets up to cover her nude body. “I, er―um, hello?” “What―” you let out and break into a coughing fit. This isn't happening. This isn't happening. This isn't― “―what are you doing here?!” “Wha―” the shrine maiden makes a startled noise. “What do you mean, what? Didn't you, er―… I mean, we, um… we―we probably drank too much yesterday, didn't we…” “No, I mean, how―” Hold up. No, that's not important at the moment. “―Reimu, did we―… er, you know, uh, had, um―that is, did we…” No need to round off – the mad blush on her face is an answer enough. “Shite―!” you sit down and scratch your head. “Was this―no, it can't have―… Reimu, was this… blast, I feel so stupid… was this your first time?” “…” she nods timidly. “… y―yes, it―it was…” “Bollocks!” you curse. “Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks! Reimu, please, forgive me, I'm―I'm so sorry. I'm so bleeding sorry.” Reimu makes a sour face. “… this… isn't exactly what… what I would have liked to hear, you know.” “Ah―” you choke. “I mean, I'm not sorry because it wasn't―that is, I can't―ah, shite, I don't even―!”
Somebody interrupts by rapping a nervous tune on the door. “Tiger?” It's Mokou. “Tiger, are you in there?” With your heart beating at the walls of your gullet, you make for the door, then open up a gap in it just wide enough for Mokou's angry face to peer through. “Um, morning…?” you try. “Finally,” she says. “I've been looking for you all over. Where were you last night?” “Where was I? Where were you? If you had been with me, I'd have been with you.” No, you're thinking way too logically. It must be the hangover speaking. “Very funny,” Mokou glares. “Now, are you going to let me in or what? Is there a problem?”
[ ] “Uh, do you mean, right now? I, er… I've got quite the mess in there, so let me clean it up a tad first, okay?” [ ] “Yes. Of course. Come in. Please.”
[x] Grab some clothes and get out of the building. -[x] Think Think THINK. What happened to your memory? Why can't you remember anything? You didn't get drunk... you don't even have a hangover! If he gets out, she has no real reason to enter. Besides, he gotta focus on this problem... this is the second or third time that the character's mind was screwed (as far as he is concerned anyway) so I'd be pretty fucking paranoid and freaked out right now.
[x] Grab some clothes and get out of the building. -[x] Think Think THINK. What happened to your memory? Why can't you remember anything? You didn't get drunk... you don't even have a hangover! I love much text. YAF really seemed to have matured a lot, you never were the best writer but made up for it in other areas. I was sceptic at first but i approve of the new YAF. Good work man.
[X] “Uh, do you mean, right now? I, er… I've got quite the mess in there, so let me clean it up a tad first, okay?” –[X] Try to figure out what the hell happened.
You have flirted with Disaster latterly.
What is more, you even took Disaster out on first date, found that she was too fat and scary, then tried to kill the relationship, doing at the same time your very best not to hurt her feelings. Subsequently, without her hair-rising gaze to bore bolt-holes in your nape at every given moment any more, you unwounded for a couple of days, confident that she had given up on her terrible, daunting advances. Disaster, however, proved to be a naughty, naughty girl, and returned with her two hulking brothers – Cock-up and Catastrophe – to put the boot in. Oh, how smug she must feel.
“Tiger?” Mokou presses on. “I asked if you were going to let me in.” “Uh—” you cough. Your throat seems as arid as a riverbed in draught. “Uh, let you in, um… Do you mean, er… now?…” “Yes, now would be nice, Tiger.” “Does it have to be right now, love? Cause I've, er…” you jerk a quick glance over at Reimu. “… looks like I've got quite the mess going on in here, actually.” Mokou stamps her foot impatiently. “So? I don't mind a mess.” “Sure, but I happen to do,” you retort. “So let me spruce it up a tad and I promise I won't be long, okay? Give me just a tick or two, I'll be done before you know it. Please, sweetheart. It's all I ask. One minute, all right? I'll be right back.”
Mokou blocks the door before you can shut it. “What sort of a mess is it?” she questions. “Something serious?” “Oh, the ordinary sort,” you fib quickly, “you know, the usual farrago – crumpled sheets, clothes on the floor, niffy air, puke in the sink, bottles out of the bin—” “—and a nude shrine maiden in the bed?” Mokou chips in, her voice testy. “Ah—” “Is that it, Tiger?” she pushes. “Did you think I wouldn't find out? Honestly? Where do you think I was last night? Bollocks,” she swears, backing away. “Why do you do this? Why do you keep trying to hide things? Why can't you be honest with me?” “Mokou, please,” you rasp, “this is not what you think—!” “Then what is it?!” she yells, throwing her arms out. “What, you are going to tell me you didn't screw her? Oh, maybe she was only sleeping in your bed naked because it was too stuffy to leave her clothes on?” “Mokou, please, I—…” shite, what are you supposed to say? “Mokou, I beg you, we were both—we were all pissed like skunks last night, you and I—and Kaguya too, and Adel and Elly, and Delaney, and Reimu, and—bloody hell, I can't even remember who—!” Mokou stares at you in wide-eyed disbelief. “… and you suppose making excuses is going to make it better? Surely you can't be serious, Tiger.” “Yes, I am serious!” —and don't call me—ah, blast it! “I can't recollect who I was with, I can't even recall what happened after we—!” “Do you think I care?!” Mokou cries, retreating ever so slowly. “Do you think I give a shit? I don't, Tiger, I don't give a—!… —It doesn't matter if you shagged her! I don't care! I just—” she shakes her head, “—I just wanted to—… I thought—!… Nyargh!” she lets out something between a curse and an incoherent scream, then touches off down the hallway. “Mokou!” you call after her. “Mokou, wait!” “Piss off!” she snaps. “Go snog your bloody shrine maiden!”
‘Not blooming likely,’ you hiss, scrambling to retrieve your part of the garderobe. It's in a rather miserable state, but bloody hell, so are you. Mokou may have been using words, but they felt like needles in your ears. Reimu remains in bed, insistent on lounging around with the confused look unwittingly devised to drive any watching men insane. “Sorry,” you tell her, and mean it for a change, “I've got to go. Stay here, understood? Smarten up or something, I don't know. Sorry!”
Not waiting for her response, you shoot out into the hall and home in on the fading staccato of Mokou's steps.
“Mokou! Hold up!” “Bugger off!” comes from the stairway below. “Let me be, you nonce!” “Not on my sodding watch!” you vault over the rails. “Hold up, I say!” “Over my dead arse!”
How did this come to happen? It was only yesterday, and should clearly remember it as such. Delaney's betrayal, remanding Reimu to the Village, the Princess's lovely lecture, and then the successive piss-up with the lot of your team, as fireworks launched and erupted overhead. When in the devil did you lose the notion of your surroundings? Why, instead of a clear picture, or leastwise a suggestion of what it may have been, is there only this white, unintelligible noise? Is your mind playing tricks on you, or are you playing tricks on it? Disorganised lines and deeds are everything there is, all but barely discernible memories… as well as the premonition of something, something gravely important, slipping yet again the range of your baffled thoughts…
“Mokou! Wait!” “No! Bug off!”
… and you sense, bitter, that whilst gone now, the turncoat mirage has since done its slice of harm. It had haunted you, ever from the start of yester morning, throughout the game and the following events, and even though you had learned to dismiss its prying presence, now that it has vanished from your side at last, you realise the illusory voice has been with you al̴͟l ̵̨͜d̵a̵̶͝y̸̵ ̢l̛͝o͢͟͠n̢g͜.
Mokou yaws off the flight nearly at the bottom of the building, taking into one of the side-passages you haven't yet had the chance to explore. Until now. You leap past the last set of stairs and tail her into the shadowy back-bowel of the Clinic.
“Mokou, please, slow down!” you plead. “I'm starting to see double!” “Let them both flip you off, then!” her ratty-eyed glare looms merely twenty-odd yards ahead. “Stop following me! Leave me alone!” “No bleeding way!” you shout back. “What do you want me to say? Oh, that stupid shrine maiden can't compare to my sexy, little Mokou? I can't even remember what we did last night!” “I don't want you to say anything! Don't talk to me!” “Oh no. Not this time, sweetheart.”
Enough dallying, you decide. Having taken a deeper breath, you give your legs a mute apology and charge up to Mokou's back, then latch on to her wrist, forcing her to acknowledge her loss in this stupid race she's led you on. On that cue, she slowly comes to a stop, panting hot, hard and quick, still unwilling to look her hunter in the eye.
“See,” you exhale, “you can't run away. I've got you now.” “Think again!” Between one drained wheeze and another, she veers around; her arm whips back and then flashes forward with a blob of incandescent flame nestled in her clenched palm. You brush it aside with a negligent gesture, then throw your arms around her feverish shoulders. “Ah?!—“ she squeals, squirming in the embrace. “—what—let me go!” “No,” you tighten the hold. There is only one thing you can do with a woman in the right, and that is squeeze her in your arms, telling her how right she is, adding just enough degrees of rightness to make her proud enough of herself to forgive you for whatever she's right about. “I won't let go, deal with it.” “What—do you think you're doing? It—it hurts! Stop!” “I can't.” “You can't?” “Understand, Mokou, please,” you say, “I was so arsefaced I can't even recall what happened back there, but I know that whatever it was, I didn't want it. Reimu, Kaguya, Delaney, whoever – I would have rather been with you, honest.” Mokou swears again. “Bullshit! Do you expect me to just smile and forget it?” “No, I expect you to listen to how much I love you until we're both satisfied.” “… you're a bloody idiot!” “Yes, you're right.” “Don't admit it!” “Why not?” you ask. “I'm two fools, I know, one for loving, two for saying so.” “Lay it off! I'm not to be flexed with right now—!” “Screw it, I'm flexing,” you clinch her tighter. “I love you, Mokou.”
Mokou struggles a few more times, but each attempt turns out weaker than the last. It's only natural, you concede – you weren't being responsible, and she'd got cold feet. If anybody is to blame, it's you. If you hadn't let yourself fly… “… Tiger,” she grunts finally, “I'm, uh… a little hard of hearing. Could you say that again?” “I love you, Mokou,” you pet her gently. “I absolutely adore you. I love your eyes, I love the sound of your voice, I love the way you frown when I'm being silly, I love your hair, especially when you have just washed it at Keine's place, I love your breasts, I love your legs, I love all of you, Mokou. I always have, I've loved you since the day we first camped out in the woods together. I've loved you since you got me that vest for my birthday. I've loved you since forever, Mokou, I—” “Okay, enough,” she prods you lightly in the sides and sighs. “I've had enough, Tiger, you hear? I'm appeased, you can let go of me now.” “Have you?” “Yes, quite, and I can also feel the big load of frankness in your slacks.” “Oh,” you let out. “Sorry, I, er… okay…”
Slightly embarrassed, you pull away from Mokou, making it your best effort not to let your discomfort be apparent. Content now, the tetchy girl grooms her bedraggled hair back to order, smiling thinly at her success in this sneaky operation. Gears of comprehension clack in your head, and you realise all of a sudden – it was all a kinky show of emotion, a perverted stage-play, and you've done your part in it flawlessly, without so much as a second of doubt – which only proves how well Kaguya had schooled her rebellous friend in the art. Womankind – one, manhood – a resounding zero.
“I love you too, Tiger,” Mokou leans to kiss you on the lips, looking tickled with herself, “but I hate it when you lie to me. Stop lying. Sure, I didn't like that you shagged the shrine maiden, but it's nothing to get all twitchy over. We, uh… we've both had some past, haven't we? It's natural, isn't it? Unless you're gay.” No, not gay, you comment inside, English – there's a difference. “Yes…” you give a nod. It's not the time nor place for witticism. “… I reckon.” “It's not what I wanted to say though,” Mokou slickly shifts the topic. “I wanted to say, Tiger, that if you've got something on your mind, or if something has happened, or if you've got some sort of trouble going on, you can tell me—no, you have to tell me. I've been watching you these past few days, for—well, for various reasons, and you look awfully stressed out.” “I, er… I may be.” “It's—…” Mokou dithers, but her face is serious. “… it's nothing related to us, is it? Are you still worrying about—you know—that thing?” By which she means your going savage on her a night ago. “No,” you assure, “it's something else.” “Tiger,” Mokou chides, crossing arms on her chest. “Okay. Okay, blast it,” you groan. “I'm still worried, I bloody well am, but it's not the only issue on my mind, okay?” “Stop worrying, then,” she advises, “and focus on something else. I'm all right, Tiger.” “Is that so?” you ask and point to a fresh scrape on her hand. “What's all this, then?” Mokou pales. “It's—… no, it's nothing,” she steps back. “It's nothing, really, I must have scratched myself on your belt or something. It'll heal, sooner or later. Tiger, don't be silly,” she assumes a firmer tone, “we've got more important things to do. I'll want to talk with Reimu now, so don't disturb us for a moment, if you would be so nice. Reisen was looking for you, and so I hear was Eirin. Maybe you should take this opportunity to go and see them.”
1/2 [ ] Yes, and after that, you are going straight back to the Village. Keine owes you some answers. 1/2 [ ] Yes, and you shall find Kaguya immediately after. If anybody knows what is going on, it's her.
2/2 [ ] … but not before you make sure Mokou is all right – she might need a plaster. 2/2 [ ] Reisen first. If she was looking for you, it may be significant. 2/2 [ ] Eirin probably just wants to examine you, but you could ask her some questions as well in the meantime, you think.
1/2 & 2/2 [ ] No, you are going with Mokou. If it's about you and Reimu, it bloody well concerns you.
1/2 [x] Yes, and you shall find Kaguya immediately after. If anybody knows what is going on, it's her. 2/2 [x] … but not before you make sure Mokou is all right – she might need a plaster.
Maybe you ought to – but since when has that been motivation enough?
Every time you do conform to others' advice, something titanic and horrible happens; and spoken frankly, you rightly haven't the stomach for it at the moment. Had there been no cats on the lines in every nook and cranny of the place, you might have unbent a little bit, and perhaps sifted the situation in a somewhat more sober manner, but… not now. Not when you had drank yourself into a swoon, shagged a shrine maiden who had supposedly been elsewhere at the time, and narked your precious girl some awful whilst not even knowing when or how you'd got in bed in the first place. If fate had a dick, surely it would tell you to keel over and give it a hefty suck.
“Oh, sure I do, buggery,” you slate the idea off, “especially since my bedfellow hasn't got any ugly cuts on her lovely arms, we haven't just had a blasted tiff, genuine or not, and my aching head certainly isn't chock-full of hungover fuck from all the botch going on and on ever since Keine laid her eyes on me. So yeah, sweetheart,” you round off with a tart smile, “thank you, but no, thank you. Pass on my side, come hell or high water.” Mokou glowers once again. “Tiger, you're bitter.” Bitter? What tipped her off? “Me? Bitter?” You force a sour laugh. “Mokou, love, I'm not bitter, I'm simply trying to say giving me the bullet when I'm still guilt-ridden out of my bloody mind is a sort of a silly thing to do. What did you think? Of course I'm bitter! What would you have me do instead? Flaunt my cock in everybody's face that I romped both Fujiwara Mokou and her arch nemesis?”
Mokou blinks. “My arch nemesis?” “Okay,” you confess, “I hyperbolise, true. What do we call her, then – your sort-of-a-foe-but-not-really? Natural-adversary-gone-slightly-pally? All-chummy-competitor-from-the-shrine-next-door?” “How about 'my friendly rival'?” “Friendly rival since when, exactly?—Oh, and I don't like it. It reeks of some twisted game I don't want to play.” Hassle-the-Shooter, most likely. “It's not a game.” “It sure does sound like one, I would say.” “Well,” Mokou throws her head roguishly, “if you insist, it's not me who cries 'FOUL, REF!' when I climax nuts-deep in my girlfriend with my face between her tits.”
Now it's your turn to blink. “… I do that?” “Oh, among other things,” Mokou shrugs. “'Goal four!',” she does an arch impression of your winded voice, “'Tally-ho!' 'Twee monkey!' 'Goody yonks!' 'Gordon Bennett blimey!' – those were some the least obscene ones, by the way. Oh, what's this?” she scoffs. “Don't believe me, Tiger? Should I maybe mooch one of those… what were those called… those dick-a-phones from Kaguya next time we're about to sleep together? I bloody well could!” Ostensibly, by that she meant 'dictaphones', but you feel in this case her version of the name would also be appropriate. “Or would you rather I invited her over to watch as we shag the ever-loving heck out of each other? How about that, Tiger? Would you enjoy it? Don't lie, you would have a field day with her there.” “What I would and wouldn't enjoy is not relevant,” you return. “What is, sweetheart, is that I'm not the only one who gets all hot to trot in bed. Oh, you didn't know?” You smirk at her suddenly thunderstruck face. “No way, honestly? Mokou, love, please… you were like a big, soft, fleshy piano in my hands!”
Mokou flushes. “I was not!” “Or were you?” you tease. “What was it that you told me about your neck, then?… 'Aah~!', was it? No, wait, 'ahhn, please~!', I believe? Or 'nnyes, m—more~!'? I really can't recall. Oh, and about your chest? 'Nyah~!', am I right? 'Ahn~, no~!'? Or 'ooh yes, here~!', mayhaps? Which was it, Mokou?” “None!” Mokou yelps, casting herself at you. “Stop lying! I said none of that!” “Well, you didn't exactly say it, to be fair…” “Shut up!” She tacks you to the closest wall. “Shut up! Not another word! I swear to heavens, if you say another word—!” “Why, sweetheart?” you ask. “Why the nerve? Look around. It's just you and me—” “—and this giant hole I'm going to burn through your guts if you don't belt up!” she yells. “I knew it was a mistake to let you touch me, but I thought—” “It was? Why did you allow it, then?” Mokou colours even deeper. “Because I wanted to!” she puffs. “I wanted to, okay?! I leaned on you! I wanted to trust you! How long do you think I had waited?! How many times do you think I'd played it out in my head?! I knew we had only known each other for a few months, but I thought we were—… I just wanted to—… I wanted to say—… I just can't—… I want—!… I need to—!… I—!”
Gently, using all the tact required to restore amicable Anglo-Altaic relations after the trauma of recent events, you entice her ever so politely into a diplomatic hug. As usual, the softly-softly approach towards Eastern Asia yields success, the greater good of Nichi-Ei Dōmei wins the day, and Mokou is soon resting in your gallant embrace, letting you have your jolly way with the silvery-grey tussocks of her lovely hair.
“… Tiger,” she moans after a while, quieter, but still mildly sullen, “you stink of her, you know.” “Yes—” Figures there's no hiding it, is there? “—and you are still leaking. Say, love, how about we try to find somebody to stitch you up? We've passed by a consulting room along the way here, I believe… shall we go and check it? Somebody ought to be in, I reckon, and I would loathe if you tore yourself up any more on some sharp corner someplace.”
Mokou draws away from you with an almost audible sound of unpicking tissue. “Okay,” she nods, “but you will stop joking and let me go afterwards, you hear? We both have others things that require our attention.” “Yes,” you tell her, “but you rank before them, dear. Come on then,” you enjoin, “let's go find you a plaster.”
“Why do people do this, anyway?” “What, disinfect their wounds? Well… let's just say it makes the chances of their appendages going bad and coming off all of a sudden slightly lower. Now, give me that pretty hand of yours and clench your teeth.”
Nobody was in to see Mokou, it turned out. Whether every nurse in the building is having a tea-time break or going through the mill of a beastly hangover after last night's piss-up contest, the nearest seeing-room proved to be almost eerily empty. Unlocked – yet unmanned, however irresponsible it may seem – the place was fortunately supplied with every appliance one might possibly find need for in a crisis such as this. Even though your experience with the thread and needle isn't something to be worth a note, never fear – the situation isn't as grave as certain parties would have you believe. What concerns you more, however, is that this dodgy streak of fortune might soon decide to swing right over to seat its ugly hind end on your face. 'Thank you, Lady Luck!' you muse. 'I still hate you.'
Mokou sighs absently. “… Tiger?” “What is it?” “So, how…” she hesitates. “… how long does it take? I mean, for something like this to close up.” “Kaguya hasn't told you?” Her fingers twitch. “Ka—Kaguya?… Why would she—… ah, bollocks,” she groans, “she can't keep a secret, can she? I'll have to beat it into her some day, for the love of…” “Two weeks,” you say. “What?” “Two weeks,” you repeat. “It should be fine within a fortnight. If you don't overtax it today, it should clot up by tomorrow and then only feel uncomfortable for the next six days or so. It's a smooth trip from there on.” “Oh,” Mokou lets out, “I… I see.”
Silence cues in between the two of you, only broken by the sound of stretching bandage and the ticking of an on-wall clock. It has to be a natural defence mechanism for a healthy human mind to notice things like these when desperately keeping its activity at absolute minimum, you deduce – as natural as closing your eye when a mosquito tries to head-butt your cornea in. Silly, but leastwise it does its task rather well.
“… Tiger?” “Yeah?” “Don't you, uh…” she havers again, as if waiting for you to chip in with another bon mot retort. “… don't you want to ask me something?” “Nope.” “No?” she bats her lashes in surprise. “Honestly? No? Nothing at all?” “Well…” you drone. “… I don't know. I could ask if you would know what to do in case of an emergency on-board a plane in flight, but that would be hardly adequate, no? Or, I could question your unusual choice in garment since I fancy your legs a rather mighty deal, but that could be misunderstood as well. Questions are everything I have, love,” you tell her, smiling, “but they are mine to answer, not yours.” Mokou makes a frown. “Don't get all poetic on me,” she reproves. “What did I say about sharing your problems?” “Ah, but that goes both ways, doesn't it?” You stand up. “It would be rather dull if we knew all about each other from the start. Some row and rumpus every now and then is what keeps your blood on the edge. Now, sweetheart… take your shirt off, please.” “Excuse me?” “Take your shirt off,” you iterate patiently. “I want to have a good look at you. All of you.” “And your hangover, Tiger? What has become of that?” “I jogged it off,” you say. “Now, are you going to undress, or will I have to do it for you?”
Mokou leans back a bit, letting a sheepish smile onto her face. “Only if you take off yours.” Whatever happened to 'other things that required your attention'? No, what you should be asking is, what does she think you were about to do to her? Even so… if a play is what she wants, a play she shall receive. “Sure,” you hide a grin, “that seems a square condition. On my mark then, okay? Ready? Three, two, one—!” you uncase your black camise and smugly look to Mokou.
Mokou, however, instead of showing off her comely charms, squats there cross-legged on the squeaky couch, giving you the sort of amused stare one would give somebody dense enough to get duped into a jape this obvious. Exempli gratia: you. “I wish all our disagreements could end this way,” says Mokou, “me – in bed, you – ripping your shirt like the bloody idiot you are. Why don't you do it more often, Tiger? I would love to see you flex in front of Reimu or Keine. They would be over the moon, I feel.” “Well, pardon me,” you make an offended face, “but whose idea was it to have me strip as well?” Mokou gives a satisfied smile. “Didn't your mother teach you you must coddle a girl a bit before you try to bed her? I'm coddled now,” she extends a hand, beckoning, “so if you feel up to it, Tiger, I'm right here.”
Of course you do. “Go me.” Although the day had started off unwell, Mokou ultimately forgave your crimes, and blow hot or cold, you are going to make it up to her, whether it costs you a limb, two, or a life. Having taken a hold of her palm, you lay her down delicately on the couch, listening to her soft tittering as you sneak your fingers up her top, feeling your path along her nervously jiggling belly, slowly, gingerly nearing the main reward stashed hitherto away below the thin, white fabric of her dress shirt.
When you are about to kiss her though, she puts her other hand across your lips. “Oh no,” she says, giggling cattily, “I can bear the shrine maiden stink, but your breath is absolutely gross. Either you wash your mouth, or there's no smooching in it for you.”
What are you supposed to do? You wash your tacky gob like Nanny Mokou bid.
—Screwing around has decidedly screwed with your screws.
Sure, it must be said that you have only been to Kaguya's nest before once, and had been led to it from the opposite approach to boot, but by the time you eventually find your slightly worn out self at the Princess's doorstep, more than half an hour has shot past, barely noted by either you, or the ghastly silent passages of the Clinic Building. Only now do you realise how finely designed this place is – one can stroll along in total peace and quiet, pondering romantically whether he is about to meet the love of his life, or which of the many windows he should hurl himself through.
Smiling at the thought, you knock on the door. “Princess? Kaguya, love, are you in there?” No answer – yet it doesn't quite discourage you. Having first ensured a lack of eyewitnesses to observe it, you tap on the handle, yank the door open, and fleetly sidle inside, expecting to catch the Princess sleeping late, unaware of somebody—a man, nonetheless, as she put it—slipping into her room to give her a rough awakening.
Nothing like that happens, however. Kaguya isn't there – her bed is empty, and the sheets have been scattered disorderly across the room, over other junk and oddments strewed about, as if to cede their place to a set of jet-black, metal gun-parts, laid out on the mattress in a slapdash, random fashion.
“Oh, what in the…”
Regardless, you recognise the thing immediately – although it's been taken apart, the semblance is uncanny – it's the same as the piece of broken trash Delaney rigged Reimu out with during yesterday's field-game in the woods. No, chances are it may bloody well be the very same one, and it has for some bizarre reason found its way into the Princess's beddings. 'Not like that's a big feat,' you remark acridly. 'Now, where is that silly girl?…'
“…—nhark…” a stifled cough reaches you from the annexed bathroom. “… kuh—… ugh…”
Ha – it would seem you weren't the only one who hadn't gone off scot-free from the bash. Still smirking mutely to yourself, you take a seat beside the disassembled rifle and await Her Highness's brewing return to the land of the sober.
—When she does come out though, she does it in a style.
“Hullo,” you greet her when she frames in the toilet's entryway, hardly surprised about your being there to do so. No, rather than expecting it, she simply isn't in the shape to feign any sort of shock to make you feel better about your bungled plan. “How are we feeling today, Princess?” Kaguya gives you a sly sort of smile. “And you?” she strikes back. “Where did you run off to last night?” “It's a long story,” you stand up, “and I reckon you know it all already.” “True,” she says. “Have you made it up to Moko yet?” “With interest.” Kaguya exhales. “I hope so… Shooter? If I may, why are you staring so intently in my eyes?” “Isn't that where your face is?” “Yes,” she replies, somewhat at a loss, “but aren't my—… you know what, never mind.” Pouting, she goes over to one of the cupboards and quickly pulls on a shirt. Only the boyish sense of pride stops you from outright exploding with victorious laughter. Manhood – one, at long bloody last. Kaguya adjusts her top and turns to you, visibly irked by her botched advance. If her twitching brow is something to go by, your naughty scheme may still be salvageable. Nevertheless, there are more pressing matters to attend to.
“So, what's all this mess about?” you nod at the gun. “Doing some personal, after-hours research?” “Yes, actually,” she swans majestically past you and takes up the steel-cast receiver. “It's been bothering me, you know. Eirin doesn't usually make mistakes of this kind, so I thought it was my duty to investigate – you know, just in case – since she doesn't take too kindly to being proven wrong about it.” “What have you found out?” “It's been tampered with, obviously,” she puts the stock to her shoulder, “that much I could assay, before it blew up in my face.” “It did?” you ask, startled. “Kaguya, are you serious—? Is everything all right?” Her Highness smiles. “Yes, Tiger, thank you, but you seem to forget what I am. Now, you were here about something, weren't you? Or did you just want to see your beloved Princess? Don't quip,” she adds swiftly, “I know you're in the mood, but I have just recovered from losing half my freaking mug, so I'm rather ruffled with it. If you want to cuddle, I'm afraid it'll have to wait.” “But—” you try, only to be cut off. “No, Tiger,” Kaguya rebukes, “I will take no buts this time. Don't get me wrong – I still love you – I'm just mighty pissed at myself and the world as a whole. Now,” she grins, “you had some questions to ask me, yes?”
[ ] Questions? (Elucidate.) [ ] Or was it something else? (As above.) [ ] No, definitely cuddles.
[x] Questions? (Elucidate.) -[x] You mentioned a case of Keine abusing her powers. I want to hear more; I suspect this morning's incident might have been related to whatever's going on in the village. -[x] How much do you know of Brenen and his goals? I suspect he's the one pulling Keine's string. -[x] Were things always like they are with Anything out of the ordinary being feared, including Reimu?
[x] Questions? (Elucidate.) -[x] You mentioned a case of Keine abusing her powers. I want to hear more; I suspect this morning's incident might have been related to whatever's going on in the village. -[x] Brenen: tell me all yo know about him, please -[x] I´ve feeling that something is not right ever since THE GAME started. Am I being paranoid? I suppose that having overlapped memories will do that to a person. My feelings reflected in question form.
[x] Questions? (Elucidate.) -[x] You mentioned a case of Keine abusing her powers. I want to hear more; I suspect this morning's incident might have been related to whatever's going on in the village. -[x] Brenen: tell me all yo know about him, please -[x] I´ve feeling that something is not right ever since THE GAME started. Am I being paranoid? I suppose that having overlapped memories will do that to a person.
[x] Questions? (Elucidate.) -[x] You mentioned a case of Keine abusing her powers. I want to hear more; I suspect this morning's incident might have been related to whatever's going on in the village. -[x] Brenen: tell me all yo know about him, please -[x] I´ve feeling that something is not right ever since THE GAME started. Am I being paranoid? I suppose that having overlapped memories will do that to a person.
Intermission. I skimmed through the previous threads, and I realised a terrible mistake on my part. Post >>30998: >if I was indeed willing to let my own bias play a part in the story, you would have already been getting it on with the Touhoe of my choice. Evidently, that is not the case (...) Now look at the first post of this thread, as well as the last few ones. Now back at me. Now back at those posts. Did you know it looks like I will have to reconsider a few future scenes? A lot of future scenes? I apologise, I'm sorry, it just… sort of happened on its own, I had no intention of… well, of mucking up this terribly. I'm sorry. It slipped out of my control, for which I—again—apologise from the bottom of my heart. Forgive me. I'll do my best to make up for it, somehow. I promise. I will. I'll try. While at it, I would also like to apologise for the sluggish pace as of recently. I haven't been feeling all too well, the weather has been terrible (meteopathy, woo!), loads of issues have been going on for everybody around, the usual sort of excuses. Hopefully I'll be able to pick up the pace soon. Long as it doesn't murder me. On a lighter note, thirty-six more posts and I'll be able to get me a new OP picture! I've been wanting to do that, Mokou is OLEV, but one can only stare at an image for so long before it becomes plain and boring. I will see you soon, if all goes well.
>>32017 Relax. Chill. As I've read somewhere, the story-teller is free to change the future events at will to avoid logic errors (or should I call them, waifu errors?) as long as those changes don't contradict events or things that were already told. It's not like we can see the future anyway. A word of advice, if you fail, you will be send to some, twisted, ironic hell. Like getting trapped in a room if you made a closed room murder that doesn't make sense, or getting killed over and over again by an angry shrine maiden, your immediate resurrection doing nothing to relieve you from the incredible amounts of pain and suffering and... sorry, lost my train of thought.
Anyway, [x] Questions? (Elucidate.) -[x] You mentioned a case of Keine abusing her powers. I want to hear more; I suspect this morning's incident might have been related to whatever's going on in the village. -[x] Brenen: tell me all yo know about him, please -[x] I´ve feeling that something is not right ever since THE GAME started. Am I being paranoid? I suppose that having overlapped memories will do that to a person.
[x] Questions? (Elucidate.) -[x] You mentioned a case of Keine abusing her powers. I want to hear more; I suspect this morning's incident might have been related to whatever's going on in the village. -[x] Brenen: tell me all yo know about him, please -[x] I´ve feeling that something is not right ever since THE GAME started. Am I being paranoid? I suppose that having overlapped memories will do that to a person.
>>32018 What I meant is that I will have to tone down the girl-interaction because I have let myself go with it. I said I wouldn't let my personal bias get in the way, whilst a thread later, Shooter has already shagged at least one girl who I was supposedly biased for, at the same time flirting with another. That is my mistake. Plot-wise, we're doing exceptionally fine. >A word of advice, if you fail, you will be send to some, twisted, ironic hell. … and I realised, finally, that the malicious, ever-trolling entity trapped inside the thread was – and always had been – me. So… this was my terrible destiny – to play out this purgatorial cycle for all eternity… I could not bear it – despair overwhelmed me.
[x] “You mentioned a case of Keine abusing her powers. I want to hear more; I suspect this morning's incident might have been related to whatever is going on in the village.” [x] “Brennan: tell me all you know about him, please.” [x] “I've a feeling that something hasn't been right ever since the game started. Am I being paranoid? I suppose that having overlapped memories will do that to a person.”
“Cobblers,” you say. “No cuddles?” Kaguya nods. “No cuddles. I know what you're thinking, dear, and you can forget it.” “Colour me confused.” “Don't make fun of me, Shooter,” the Princess chides, “I do that well enough on my own. Now, please,” she settles herself gracefully on the bed and motions you to join her, “take a seat. If we are to talk, I would prefer to have you at eye-level.” “Isn't there more than one way to skin that cat?” “Quit it, Tiger,” the Princess exacts, “because you will get nothing, and you will like it. Now sit – before I lose my cool and choose to go nasty on you.”
Smiling at her dirty look, you install yourself by her side, keeping a respectful six inches between her unclothed arm and yours. Succumbing under the gravitational push of two adult bodies, the tacky bed-frame moans longingly, reminiscent of the dreary afternoon not long ago, when you and Her Highness had a first vis-a-vis, hush-hush natter in each other's warm embrace, unfinished and unresolved even now, fourty-eight hours after. If only you had known what would come the next day, you could have made the better of it.
“Talk to me,” the Princess pokes, picking up the rifle-parts. “Don't just stare like you're about to eat me. If you really wanted, you could have done it when I gave you the chance.” Oh, so she is browned off about that. “Very well,” you say, keeping a straight tone. “I had a couple of questions, actually, about certain things that… well, seem to be important, but I don't yet know how. I honestly hate to shove them all on you this early in the morning, but I appear to have very little choice. Forgive me.” “As always,” she replies placidly, her hands busy with the gun. “Go on, Tiger.” “Sorry,” you say again. “I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't have to. Okay, first of all… you mentioned once a case of Keine abusing her powers, yes? I want to hear more – I suspect this morning's incident might have been related to whatever's going on in the Village.” Kaguya pauses for a moment. “Incident?” “We'll get to that yet,” you urge. “Tell me about Keine, Princess. Please, I need every scrap of information I can unearth if I'm to make sense of my thoughts.”
“… fine,” she agrees, “Keine, is that it? If it's about the story from a year ago, I'm not certain how much I am allowed to divulge, but… what the hell, it's not like she's going to do anything about it.” The Princess snorts. “I still can't believe she went through with all the were-cow nonsense… either way, Tiger, how much do you know about Keine?” “How much—…” you consider. “… she's a teacher in the History School, for starters. Takes care of new arrivals in the Village as well, and also governs the distribution of duties among the, uh, the upper-class folks, if that adds up.” “I didn't know. What does that mean?” “It's rather simple—” you explicate, “—the proles living in the Village are split in two groups, see. One is those living in their own houses, holding down the works, mills, shops and such – those are all under Keine's jurisdiction, far as I know. Second is the barracks flock – the hunters, foresters, labourers and, uh… other such dossers, you know – the sort of muscle-mass doing the wet-work for the Village. We—… they—they usually keep clear of the gentry's business and sort of stay out of their way wherever they can. I haven't been there for too long, but I caught on quick enough – if I kept out of their knickers, they would gladly keep out of mine. It's sort of like that.”
“I see,” Kaguya thrums, “ and how long have you lived there, again?” “If I recall correctly, for about a half-year.” “Half a year…” she drones. “… and when did you and Moko first meet?” “Princess,” you groan, “please, this isn't about us.” “Humour me.” Bloody hell. “Very well,” you give up, “I'll indulge you. We were first introduced when I was about two months in. Keine acquainted us. It was my second jaunt out of the Village, I was ordained to search for some tyke who'd got pissy with his parents and took to the woods, and Mokou was my guide.” “… yes, and? Carry on, please.” “We wound up straying all day looking for the tot. It would have been hard to keep our gobs shut the whole time, so we shopped about this and that. Couple of days after, I ran into her in the Village and talked some more. Another day, Keine invited me over for a class, and Mokou was there, so we hanged out afterwards, and then…” you inhale, “… well, one thing led to another, and we sort of became friends over time… but you already knew that, didn't you?” Kaguya smiles thinly. “Why would you assume so?” “Never mind,” you sigh. “Now, Princess, about Keine…”
Kaguya sets down the nearly-assembled rifle and reclines on the mattress. “It's high time, I suppose,” she begins, her expression grave. “One year ago, our little Keine found herself a handsome lover-boy to smooch, you see. Somebody from the Village, I believe, although my knowledge goes no further. Mokou remarked once he fancied himself an Outsider, even, as incredible as it may sound. Or maybe that is exactly why he went about saying so.” “Okay, so they shagged,” you sum up. “What happened next?” “Or maybe it was just a platonic love,” the Princess gives you an arch look. “Either way, Keine, the silly baby-girl, she was all over that guy. Everyone else was pretty much okay with it, but that lasted only until their first full-moon. Tell me, dear, when we last talked, did I bring up Keine being a monster?” “Sort of. May have.” “Don't joke about it,” Kaguya scolds. “No matter how harmless she appears, Keine is a monster, Shooter – a White Marsh – a were-cow, in your simpler terms. Every once in a month, when the Moon is full, she… changes, both inwardly and outwardly, if that makes sense. It's not a complete transformation, as one might think, but—” “I've seen manlike monsters before,” you chime in, “I know what they look like.” Kaguya sits up. “—and Keine is one of them. I am sorry to break this to you, Tiger,” she inclines her head apologetically, “but that's how it is. I understand you and Keine share a certain… sentiment, and that this is something she should have told you herself, but you insisted, so I—” “It's all right,” you assure. “It's my fault. Got it. Okay, so what about the smug bloke—the one who bonked her?” “I'm not sure if he 'bonked' her, Tiger,” the Princess smiles sourly. “Continuing, according to the rumour mill, Keine had after some time decided to share the curse with the boy. I am not entirely certain how they carried it out, but Keine is a special case, and she is not stupid – she must have found a way to do it. Long story short, soon after that we had two were-cows loitering about, going on a drive at the slightest nudge or kick. It was total chaos, if my information is any right.” “So somebody finally got irked with them, I presume?” “Everyone, Tiger. One were-cow was more than enough. Two were an overkill. I do not know what happened next, though – Eirin helped resolve the situation, but she never told me of the details, and Mokou acted as if nothing had ever happened. It's been a year, and frankly I stopped caring before long.” Her Highness exhales. “It's been quiet since then. Eirin must have forgotten by now. Mokou hasn't been around, but I guess I can blame that on you.”
“Sorry.” “Don't be,” the Princess shifts closer as if to hug you, but quickly backs away, looking troubled. “I need to stop doing this,” she says, “Mokou doesn't appreciate me fondling you too much, I think. Not to mention I'm still pissed,” she tries on a scowl. “So yes, anyway, this is all I know about Keine – about her recent hijinks. I don't leave here all too often, so I only hear what others say.”
“It's enough,” you tell her. “It's more than I would have liked to know.”
“About Brennan then,” you pursue. “Tell me all you know about him, please.”
Kaguya makes a thoughtful face. “Brennan…” she mutters, scouring her memory, “Brennan, Brennan… Brennan, huh,” she shrugs eventually. “I'm sorry, Tiger, I don't seem to recall the name. Who is he?” “I had hoped you would know,” you reply. “Brennan appears to manage the other part of the Village, the one I mentioned before – the mokes, the navvies and such. Everybody in the barracks is his subject, essentially – he's the Big Bald Boss of the Village, if it ever had one. If stocks are running low, they had better be refilled before he gets the word. If he decides the fence has to be expanded, it had better bloody be. Even Keine listens to what the has to say.”
“Sounds like my kind of man,” notes the Princess. “What about him?” “I don't know yet,” you confess, “I reckon it looks as if he's caught in the intrigue, but I cannot surmise how. If we assume it was him I overheard speaking with Keine two days ago—” “—after you had flunked at the shrine?” “Yes, bugger—after I had come to in Keine's flat. If it was him, then what sense does it make? It was his idea to hunt monsters using firearms, why would he withdraw his help now? How does it relate to what he told me, about my being needed in the Village? It doesn't make an ounce of—” “Hold up,” Kaguya interrupts, “what did you say about firearms?” “It was his idea to hunt—…” you dither. “… or was it? No, I am bloody well certain it was. I reckon Brennan always harboured a grudge against the monsters, whatever the reason. He certainly takes their lives rather lightly, if you ask me.” “Give me a minute,” she says, “we might be on to something.”
Having declared that, the Princess gathers to her feet, then skips liltingly over to the rubbish-laden rack at the far edge of the room. Her blouse strains pleasantly as she reaches her hands up into the mishmash on one of the overhead shelves, mumbling softly to herself when the fabric shins up above her hip-line. While she tiptoes there, fossicking through the heaps of junk and paper, you bide your time idly studying her slinky back-side, letting your musings coil free inside your head.
It is hard to believe that Keine – the collected, self-reliant teacher – would contrive something so unwise as to require an outside interference to repair the damage. It seems unlikely in the least – improbable, even, for her to do something so infantile… yet if what the Princess speaks is true, could this be the cause of the relentless hatred for everything inhuman the Villagers claim to hold? If so, what of Akyu and her meddling? What about Brennan, the shifty, old cock? Where does he fit in the conspiracy?
“… bloody hell…”
What is the bastard trying to concoct?
It all seems so flagrantly convoluted…
None too soon, Her Highness returns from the foray, flourishing what looks to be an old, yellowed newspaper, ragged and nipped by the tooth of time, full to the brim of branchy, foreign letters, packaged tighter than mandarins in an export box.
“Here,” she drops the thing on your lap, “it's on the last page. Read it, I have a feeling this might be him. It's a little old, but it may be a clue.” Somewhat disconcerted, you run an eye over the text. “Uh… Kaguya, love…” you turn to her with your best remorseful puppy smile, “… you do know I cannot read those, yes?” The Princess makes a choked noise. “You can't—? Oh, crappit,” she swears, “of course you can't! Oh, that's so stupid of me! I'm so sorry, Shooter… and for the note too, I had no idea—” “Never mind,” you tell her, “I found you either way somehow, so we're easy. Do you think you could read this out to me? It'd be lovely if you would.”
The Princess plunks down beside you. “Naturally. Okay, ahem,” she gives a stagy cough. “It goes like this: 'In the Human Settlement, there are rumours of the existence of a secret society. Its purported aims are to find the tracks of humans and monsters that reside in the Land of Illusions, and discover the secrets of the two species' origins. Since they also research the areas of monster activity, it was said that death had occurred in extreme cases during the investigations.'”
Kaguya stops and hums. “This is the interesting bit,” she says. “'This time we contacted the person who claims to be the leader of said undercover society. Mister A – pseudonym – explains the origins of the society as thus: «People nowadays know nothing about things like why the monsters live here, what is the Land, who their ancestors were, and so on. When the pervasive monsters are chased from the Land, and the Land falls under human control, it is imperative that we know the vital truths of this place,» said he…'”
“Secret society, eh,” you observe. “Sounds like something out of a duff novel.” Kaguya smiles. “Aya does have the tendency to dramatise, yes.” “How old is the article?” “Let me see…” the Princess leafs through the pages. “… about three to four years. What I'm worried about more, however, is what you told me just then – that he uses firearms to hunt the monsters.” “Isn't it safer for the humans that way?” “Don't be stupid, Tiger,” Kaguya berates. “I don't know just how familiar you are with our customs, but we don't kill each other here. If you haven't realised yet, there is a certain balance to things in the Land – a kind of a natural cycle of affairs – a set of rules everyone abides by. One of them states clearly: you will not kill the monsters.'Will not kill' being the important part.” “What about Reimu, then?” you demand. “What is her role? I thought her job was to exterminate the monsters, not—well, whatever she is doing with them.”
“Even the Hakurei don't kill, Tiger,” Kaguya affirms. “Monsters may be immortal, but they are not invincible, and they aren't born like men are. Land of Illusions wasn't made to accommodate us humans, dear, it was created for beings out of the ordinary, oddities such as Reisen and the Lunarians, and those are limited in numbers. Very limited.”
Her Highness leans in and lays her hands on your thighs. “So we are. Isn't this what Reimu was trying to teach you yesterday, right before you started sucking on her face like some rude, drunk manatee?”
“No, it isn't,” you say, brushing her off. “Reimu wasn't there with the rest of us after the game.” Kaguya looks at you as if you just sprouted feathers. “What are you talking about? Of course she was, silly.” “No,” you push on. “I'd had a feeling something wasn't right ever since the game had started. Reimu was not with us, Kaguya, we both know that.”
“… Shooter?” Now you have a beak and wings too. “… my goodness, are you feeling all right? Have you hit yourself somewhere? Didn't you invite Reimu to play with us? Wasn't she—and you, weren't you two—” “No, we weren't,” you butt in, revealing your identity as a type of talking flamingo. “Not unless I am completely wrong about this, but I've got the bloodiest right to be paranoid. Having overlapped memories does that to a person, Princess. Listen to me,” you take a hold of her half-nude shoulders, “Reimu was not with us back there. I'd sent her back to the Village shortly before I'd took off with Reisen in the car, and I hadn't seen her once until this morning, when she inexplicably washed up in my sheets. Remember, Kaguya – please…”
Kaguya stares at you blankly. Now you are a dunce even by flamingo standards, it seems. “Shooter,” she speaks quietly, “… calm down – you're not making sense—…” “Bloody hell—… what's all this, then?” you gesture at your bandaged arm. “Where did this come from? Maybe I cut myself for the sodding heck of it? Recall, Kaguya, for the love of—!” “I can't—!” she shakes her head. “How am I supposed to know? Couldn't you have cut yourself earlier today, or somewhere on the way here? I don't know, Shooter. Are you feeling unwell? Is everything all right? Calm down, please…”
Bollocks!… How are you supposed to make her recall?…
For a short moment, you find yourself in doubt. Is it even her memories that have been meddled with? you think. How can you be sure? If hers are entirely wholesome, and it is yours that have been altered somehow instead, how could you ever be certain?… If that is so, however, how could the wound on your forearm be explained? It hurts when you move it around – hence there's no question in that it's genuine, but…
… but there is something missing. Kaguya will insist on her version of events until you find a mislaid piece – just as you were able to persist in yours the time Keine first attempted to contort your mind – a paradox to shatter her thinly veiled illusion. Keine said it was Reimu who had aided you against a flock of monsters, and that Mokou hadn't been in the Village that day – yet the whole situation had taken place solely as a result of the two meeting face to face. Surely the teacher realised the incongruity – yet she must have counted on your negligence to accomplish the better part of the task…
Hieda was there for you as well, of course – but then, so are you now for Her Highness. Willpower and love, you recall her words. If this doesn't work, nothing will.
So you give a retired sigh and look her in the eye. “Kaguya, may I ask you a question?” Kaguya clocks you warily. “… yes, I suppose?” “Very well,” you exhale again. “I apologise for my outburst – I am rather stressed, you see. I must ask, however – was Mokou present at our party? If not, where was she? Can you tell me that, Princess?” Kaguya gives you an incredulous look. “Of course she was, you silly cat. Why would she—”
“Princess,” you ignore her words, “I love you.”
Next, not giving her the scope to oppose, you do to her the same she did to you last night. The Princess yelps at first, as expected – but soon quietens, and having allayed her nerves a bit, shuffles closer, almost touching your front with the length of her chest. Her eyes closed, she accepts the kiss and all that goes with it – your gentle petting of her hair, the feeling of your bodies grazing against each other midly—yet blissfully in the hold – and lastly, her own hastened breathing, not even trying to conceal her excitement.
It lasts a second – two, then – and three, and on and on – as the Princess thrives under your touch, stroking your cheeks with the delicate fingers of her hands as the time goes. For a flash, all the worries are swept away, and there is only her breath-taking presence.
In the end, she draws away with the same pleased look she showed you the evening before. “Let me close my gapingly open mouth,” she whispers jokingly. “I never thought you would find the courage to do something like this, Shooter. Congratulations. Goodness, nobody has been this bold with me in ages.” “Do you remember now, love?” “Keine wasn't here, Tiger,” she responds calmly, “and if she had really come around, I would have heard of it immediately. I don't know what causes you so much fret, Tiger, but you ought to let it go. Don't fight it – the more you struggle, the more it is going to haunt you.” “Kaguya…” “Lighten up, honestly,” she lets out a short, rippling laugh. “We are all safe here. Nobody crosses my doorstep without me knowing of it in advance.” “Still—” Kaguya puts a finger to your lips. “Watch.”
On that cue, the door to her room flies open, revealing two shocking guests – two female guests – draped in identical sets of clothes – themed white and black, similarly clean and ironed – both sporting the same sort of irked expression that halts your senses to a stand-by.
“See,” Mokou says, scowling, “it's sort of like this – you leave him for a tick, and you find him delving in somebody else's slacks.” Reimu nods charily. “… I suppose.” “What impeccable timing,” the Princess giggles, standing from your lap. “I was just about to throw him out, you know. If only you had waited one more minute—” “Bollocks,” Mokou snaps and shifts her glare to you. “Tiger, get out of here. Kaguya needs to speak with us.”
“Girl talk,” Reimu adds, just a bit too eagerly, “so please…”
[ ] Yes, you need to collect your thoughts… and take a shower, too – a nice, cold shower to calm your choler. [ ] No. It's not the time for girl talk. Now that they are here, you can formulate a plan. Girl talk can wait. [ ] Yes, let them eat cake and chat. Somebody else will have to help you, and you know well who she is…
[x] Yes, let them eat cake and chat. Somebody else will have to help you, and you know well who she is… ...except that I don't. But it doesn't say write in there, so I'll be counting on you, Yaf. The first option seems somewhat passive and the second is useless now that we seem like a nutjob to everyone we could have trusted.
>>32065 Don't be bitter, Christian – there's plenty of Duke to go around! >>32064 >HEALTH REGEN AND ROUTE AIM HELP Well, what do you know, we already have tha—god damn it. ;__;
Other than that, sorry for the lack of activity. My excuse this time is that – first, my mind has switched into self-hate mode (something I get when bad weather hits), meaning I can't work on my text without mentally puking my blooming brains out. Second, I am sort of stumped. I'll be honest with you – I had given myself too much slack counting on this info-dump to spark some sort of an exchange to nudge me in the right direction. Welp, being a lazy writer ain't easy, it seems, and I should have given it more thought, I reckon.
Never fear – we will come up with something, I promise. Soon-ish. Sooner than later, hopefully. Updates when I do. Sorry for the bloggery, I felt the need to explain myself.
>>32081 Your Reimu is really adorable, like a toasted muffin: It looks hard, strong yet inviting on the outside and, after you take a bite, you realize that it's much softer and sweeter than you ever imagined. That said, if I had to choose which is the best for shooter, I'd go with Mokou. They seem kinda alike: sarcastic, strong, mature and funny all around. Let's be honest here: someone who forgave so much from a man is pretty much entitled to him for all eternity.
If you're smart, you probably realized I never answered your question. Though if you were smarter, you'd have realized that I did. I choose Mokou as 'the best for shooter' which pretty much implied that the best for me would me... that Eternally capricious shrine maiden.
>>32084>>32083>>32082 Thanks, you have no idea how giddy it made me to read those comments. Really, really, thank you very, VERY much for those. I love you. Honestly, I do. Unfortunately, it's been raining all the blooming week, meaning I haven't been able to as much as touch my work, sadly. For which I apologise. I ought to get back on track soon. I've got a load of paperwork to do in the meantime, but I should be done with it before Monday or so. Expect a surprise update within the next few days. Thanks again, really. Those posts made my day. I can't say when, but I definitely will see you soon.