[x] Foray into that mess-hall.
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
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.”
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—!
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...—! SCREEEEEEEECH
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.
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?”
“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.”
Wow, I suck at tags. >>31374