There was an error in the last entry, with 'Ｍａｒ ２０７７' being described as being after the Internment. Since October 23 on that year was the Internment date as marked earlier in the timeline, that is retconned to being 'Ｍａｒ ２０７８'. Sorry for anyone who might have voted to use more or less energy cells as a result. Below I give you an extra entry at no additional cost.
Also I'm a spastic idiot who constantly forgets whose people's names are, password protects all but one post in a series, so that when I find out that I fucked things up, I end up having to delete the entire thread, along with the comments of anyone who had bothered to try reading it.
Renko is still checking the perimeter. You're not very worried, since the chance of hearing gunfire in the case she were in trouble would be well over 100%. You look over at Mary. She's rummaging through the broken cabinets behind the diner's counter. (Hopefully not for a hidden cache of alcohol.) You, on the other hand, are sitting on the torn pleather seat of a bolted down stool, with the terminal turned about on the counter so you can read the screen with some degree of comfort.
No better place to start than at the beginning, at the date of Internment.
［Ｘ］ Ｅｎｔｒｙ ＃０１： Ｙｕｋｉ， Ｏｃｔ ２３， ２０７７
“SATURDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2077 (UPLOADED FROM EXTERNAL SOURCE)”
To your surprise, the computer puts out a synthetic, pre-generated male voice for the date and source, and then the terminal starts to play the recorded voice of an actual person, a woman. Must have been dictated and recorded on their Pip-Boy, since there's no microphone you can see. You turn down the radio on your Pip-Boy in order to hear it better:
“...Be our first day in Vault ⑩. Wow. Really scary stuff. The bombs started dropping after only a fifteen minute warning from the air-raid sirens. Nobody has any idea who struck first, just that the Border hasn't shielded us completely, as was projected. Thirty minutes after the first bombs hit, the Vault Door was permanently sealed. Probably since we have a small, select population compared the other Vaults, with pretty much only demons, devils & other such creations of Shinki, along with some of us already residing in Pandæmonium, we were blessed with a good number of survivors, almost 90%. Though there was a hiccup for a moment with Gengetsu's abortive rebellion...”
Looks like the initial conditions for Vault ⑩ were favorable at least. This external source is almost certainly a holotape recorded on through Pip-Boy when this 'Yuki' was still inside the Vault. At the very least she was present for the Internment. No idea who this 'Shinki' person is. Should ask Dai if she recognizes the names when you're done.
“...Alice is officially the Overseer, with her Automatous Doll as the AI core. We're really lucky we got Alice in our Vault. Mai agrees. Even if we're not blood related. Gengetsu was freaking out because Mugetsu hadn't made it, and tried to force the Overseer to hold the door. We lost Luize too, so I'm not completely unsympathetic. “However, while I knew Gengetsu was a prior construct of Shinki's, I didn't expect the divide in power to be so massive—she physically overpowered and disabled Yumeko within seconds. Forget the Security Dolls: Alice herself had to temporarily re-rout power from Shinki's Grimoire, which is the main energy source in the Vault, in order to maintain control. After trying and failing, to deliver a Master Spark to Alice's face in an attempt to wrest power from her, it was clear that Gengetsu was not going to let anyone stop her, so Alice evicted her from the Vault using a one-way-door out of the Overseer's office. I hadn't realized Alice had gotten so cold, though it might have partly been that the attack brought up unwanted memories with that human girl who used to live in the area. She said she was all right. This is why she's the Overseer I guess, to do the dirty jobs nobody else wants to do?”
Mary is gone. Oy vey. “Mary?” You yell. Her voice comes from in what must be the kitchen, behind the counter and the hinged, saloon doors: “...I think I found some tea! I'm going to put the kettle on!” 'Put the kettle on'? Renko's got the portable stove, and there's almost certainly no electricity from the wall outlets. Well, whatever. This sounds like good stuff; you might be able to get into the head of this Alice person. So, you try the next entry down.
［Ｘ］ Ｅｎｔｒｙ ＃０２： Ｙｕｋｉ， Ｏｃｔ ２７， ２０７７
”WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2077 (UPLOADED FROM EXT—“
The audio cuts out, along with the vacuum tube display.
[ (⚛) The terminal is out of power! Insert one (1) energy cell to continue. ]
You desperately need information on this 'Alice Margatroid' figure; despite Dai's purported familiarity with the name, you yourself are running off few facts. Here you apparently have someone who seemed to have an intimate relationship to the point of saying, 'We're not blood related.' (Alright that makes it sound like some kind of kinky incest thing, but even that still means something.) However, you have only a few energy cells—not nearly enough to read each entry. You'll have to skip around. You sigh and replace the energy cell.
[ (⚡) One (1) energy cell removed from Max's inventory. Max has seven (7) energy cells. ] [ (⚛) Max has turned on the computer terminal! ]
...And boot the terminal, and when the display reads 'Journal-It software' you skip four entries ahead this time:
［Ｘ］ Ｅｎｔｒｙ ＃０５： Ｙｕｋｉ， Ｎｏｖ １５， ２０７７
“MONDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2077 (UPLOADED FROM EXTERNAL SOURCE)” “We're well provided for down here. The display so early in Internment has put everything firmly under Alice's control, and despite some hiccups, she's done a good job of it. I've started to worry about Mai, however. I know that there's a Vault Syndrome that might affect fairies, but even as a demon, she's start expressing core symptoms. Not eating, not fraternizing, irritability, and she just sits in her room all day. At first as chief medical officer, I thought it might be radiation poisoning, but I got her to take the dosimetry test, and from the charts she's fine, but I started her on prophylactics just in case. The rabbit nurse on staff tells me it's probably a psychiatric issue. I hope that that's the truth. Alice reports everything else is working at 100% capacity.”
Sounds some kind of schism is coming up, since 'Mai' is the final-most entry, apparently recorded after the Internment, but Alice is referred to warmly as yet, with no reason for the chronicler to attempt to leave the Vault, which must have happened if the dates of the entries mean anything, probably having escaped out the 'one-way-door' analogous to how you and your own party left Vault ⑨.
Something smells funny. You look about for Mary and are startled to find her looking over your shoulder. She has a chipped tea cup in her hand with some steaming liquid in it. “Where... did you get that?” “The cup? There's a few others. Would you like one?” “I mean, where did you get the water?” “The faucet.” She's fucking with you on purpose. This is turnabout for this morning. “Where did you get hot water?” She cocks her head. “I boiled it in the kettle, Max.” “How..."By magic?” "No. It's not magic." She grins, and whispers, “Divine power.” You sigh, defeated. “...I would like a cup.” She walks into the back again, behind the counter. When she comes back through the swinging doors, she's carrying a second steaming cup & saucer, and like she were a waitress at work, places it on the counter in front of you. “Your tea, sir.” “Why thank you.” Earl Grey? Bleck. Mary can only occupy herself for a few seconds before she walks around the counter and starts staring over your shoulder again. “Is this our ticket in?” “I sure hope so.” A little annoyed at her doing this, you tell her to case the joint for the hidden safe: “Mary, the terminal mentions a 'safe'—see if you can use those shrewd eyes of yours and find out where it might be located.” “Roger dodger.” She skips over to the cut-out portion of the counter to recheck the shelves for the safe's location. It might be in the back where the kitchen is presumably located. There's also got to be a staircase that probably leads to the residence above, but you'll let Mary handle her task on her own.
This energy cell seems to be holding more of a charge than the first, since it doesn't immediately cut out when you try an entry further down.
［Ｘ］ Ｅｎｔｒｙ ＃０９： Ｙｕｋｉ， Ｄｅｃ ２２， ２０７７
”WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2077 (UPLOADED FROM EXTERNAL SOURCE)” “Mai has left the compound through the Overseer's exit yesterday. She had been constantly pushing for early opening of the Vault to take in the wounded and sick who shored up out the Main Door, either late for the Internment or possibly just trying to find a safe place, no matter what. Most died within two weeks, according to Mai's med report, of acute radiation poisoning. I realized going through her belonging, that what she had been watching the whole time she spent in her room, recordings of the camera feed at the entrance. The scenes are graphic. Horrific. Enough to make any healthy person feel ill. She had apparently found a back-door into the Overseer's terminal, and from it into the Vault Mainframe. Mai made Alice her first doll, one that was made to resemble another person: A Shinki doll, which she tried to console the poor girl with when she was suffering from the loss. The password is still 'SISTER'. Mai left what was likely a parting message on the Overseer's terminal: 'I can't just turn my head away when I see suffering. I won't burden you with attempting to get back inside. Not when there are people still alive out here.' It makes perfect sense by how Alice had been looking sour and characteristically tight-lipped about her absence. When I asked her, 'What if she comes back?' A simple, 'She won't,' is all she said. Cold, Alice. And three days before Christmas? Mai pissed off more than a few others by taking a large amount of antibiotics, Rad-Away, and emergency rations with her. From Alice's perspective, I understand that this is the politically correct choice to make. I don't know how long I'm staying myself. More and more work is being done on the VR program, but knowing what Mai has seen, I can't see what good we might effect by it. I can't know whether the message was left for me or for Alice, but regardless, I'm encrypting all further entries, just to make sure the Overseer doesn't suspect me of sabotaging the project.”
Ah. Here comes Renko now. “Hey Maxey. Uh, what's Mary doing?” “Looking for hidden treasure!” The shrine maiden responds promptly. “Looking for hidden treasure,” you reiterate sardonically. “Huh. Anything interesting on the terminal?” “Some things. I only read the first and fifth entries. Seems it needs an energy cell to connect with the Vault mainframe. You can ask Mary for some. It also mentions something about a safe, which is what Mary's looking for.”
Feeling a greater need to take it easy, you stand up and walk away from the stool and the frustrating computer. “Hey, Maxey; where ya goin'?” You turn around and shrug, backing toward the entrance. “Dunno. Computers aren't my thing, and I have spell card burning a hole in my pocket.” “Try not to burn the forest down....” You roll your eyes. “Er... more than it already is, I mean.” “Sure, Ren. Don't waste too many of those energy cells.”
Bupkis. The forest is as dead as it looks. There's a cracked asphalt road half covered in eroded topsoil. It's wide enough for a car to drive through, but by the lack of tracks and its terrible condition, it hasn't been used for some time. Soil contamination and flash fires are likely the only things that have prevented it from being grown-over. The only things that look remotely alive are kudzu scrambling up long-dead tree trunks, and you don't think you can drown a plant. Though the road winds a bit, it seems to go off toward Tewi's cab stop. Where there isn't asphalt, there is mud, the result of last night's rain showers. It's a good thing though, since the dirt is weighted down by this, preventing the irradiated contaminants from being carried into your lungs by the light wind. You check the time on your Pip-Boy. (⌚) 12:05 PM JST
“Dai, you there?” “Of course, Max.” “What can you tell me about Alice?” Dai sighs. Not in an annoyed way, but in a way that suggested the subject matter was tedious. “She was an obsessive loner who had maintained a cat & mouse relationship with Marisa Kirisame. She's from Makai, which is—or at least was—the realm of demons and devils.” “General Kirisame, the war hero?” “The same.” “Isn't it kind of weird for a demon to maintain a long-term relationship with a human? Even an exceptional one like that?” “Yes, but Alice was a weird youkai. She hailed from Makai, but she wasn't exactly a demon or a devil.” That's where that not-blood-related thing comes in, then. “So what was she?” “Well, word through the grapevine was that she was originally human, presumably adopted by one circumstance or another by the Goddess-Creatrix of Makai, Shinki.” “Was she also neither a demon nor devil?” “No. Demons & devils were properly defined by their creation by Shinki. The demons in those journal entries are her constructs. These entities would be far older than Alice. Alice, though she carried herself with very grave airs publicly, was probably not much younger than Kirisame. They were both witches of considerable power. The difference is that Marisa continued to grow, while Alice was frozen midway into adulthood.” “So she was a youkai?” “I believe she became a youkai. A lot of heavy shit went down between Marisa Kirisame, Reimu Hakurei, who was the only Shrine Maiden of Gensokyo at the time & sustainer of the Hakurei Border and the beings of Makai, and other powerhouses of those wild & turbulent days. Names like Yuka Kazami, Flower Master of the Four Season, and a youkai's youkai; according to Wasteland Survival Guide she now leads a band of hyper-racist, mutant eco-terrorists squatting in Site ④ and currently calls herself the 'Duke of New Gensokyo' or something equally absurd. Another was the 'evil spirit' of the Hakurei Shrine, the ghastly archmage Mima, who was a contemporary of both your birth mother & Elle.” “Rin Satsuki?” A woman who died that you might live. “And Miss Ellen?” Ellen✰Aureus, your teacher & the adult who invested most heavily in your childhood. “The same. Anyway, there was a war. Something over immigration & sovereignty, but probably mostly a lot of misunderstandings considering the 'shoot first, ask questions later' foreign policies of Gensokyo's self-titled guardians. Eventually, Shinki was deposed in her own realm.” “What happened to her?” “Reimu happened to her. This was before spell card rules made danmaku combat essentially nonlethal. I think you can guess the implications. We only saw the 'fallout' as it were, years down the line. Byakuren Hijiri would wake from her slumber in Makai, and became a rallying point for youkai rights in post-Revelation Gensokyo.” “I see. So, Alice moved here... for what? Revenge?” “That's where we lose track of her motivations and designs. Somewhere along the lines Alice acquired the fallen Demiurge's Grimoire, emigrated to Magic Forest—right here—and stopped aging. A human became a youkai. Did she want revenge? Or respect? Or more power? All we know is that she continued her studies, sometimes working with other magicians, like Elle, Patchouli Knowledge, Kirisame, and Mima. Hijiri, I mentioned as well.” “All youkai, aside from Kirisame?” “That's what every magician becomes eventually, if they don't die. Kirisame just passed before her time.” You've had enough walking, so you sit down on a charred stump behind Alice's Restaurant, and concentrate on this conversation. “I don't know if that is encouraging, or frightening.” The wire-frame Pip-Fairy shrugs. “I don't know what to tell you. Is the question: Is it worth losing your humanity? Or is the question: Is your humanity worth losing? You're not exactly human to begin with. I should know.” She smirks. “I haven't sacrificed anything. Not irrevocably. Finding my friends & family again is proof of that.” Okay, sacrifices aside from that tail they amputated. “Oh, you're just being cheesy now.” The Pip-Fairy rolls her eyes. “Elle gave up her memory but retained her health and humanity in the form of emotion, benevolence, and attachment. Patchy gave up her health but retained her memory and burning desire to learn. Mima gave up her soul but retained her power and drive for conflict. Hijiri traded centuries-old religious convictions for different ones so as to better reach out to those who might need her. And Alice? She gave up attachment, a great deal of her emotions, and her family in return for the power to survive, presumably.” “Is any of it worth it?” “If you could turn over the leaves of time and look at any one of them before they made these monumental decisions, you would see a young woman with her whole life ahead of her and many, many reasons why.” You don't really have anything to say to that. You haven't lived enough yet to comment, let alone pass judgment. “The log mentioned the Grimoire as the power source for the entire Vault. Is that possible?” If it is, then it puts out several Gigawatts of power, something which in your Vault requires dozens of pure fusion generators working closely in tandem. You'd like to get your hands on that tome. “Well, whatever was contained within it resulted in profound & irreversible changes in the child. My personal interactions with her suggested that it catalyzed the transformation, which combined with the conflicts that precipitated it, left her something of an emotional cripple. Like a child gifted a overlarge estate, she did not know what to do with Makai, or with its people, probably having her hands full just keeping up with her industrious neighbor, rival, and/or love interest. The only indication that it still exists is that Vault ⑩ is supposed to be coterminous with it.” “What happened between her and Marisa in the end?” “Marisa wedded a young man who was a fledgling mage himself and incidentally related to a certain flower youkai.” “Kazami?” “Yes. If you think you had an estranged upbringing concerning your 'parents'—whew. You've nothing on his.” “How did Alice take this?”
“In predictable stride. She maintained affable relations with her neighbors, and probably began to see them as only that. No longer would she maintain pretensions for impossible revenge or equally impossible passion. She began to take more responsibility for what Shinki had left behind, to reach out and connect once more to the scattered population of 'devils' and 'demons'. With the Revelation of Gensokyo to the Outside, she began to heavily study artificial intelligences and how her magic might be applied toward this. She became heavily invested in RobCo. to the point where she not only worked for them, she sat on their board of directors. She is the one who developed the AI Internment process as to mimic a complete AI. She modularized designs by pushing the concept of a readily adaptive core doll AI that is able to control a variety of puppet machines devoted to specific tasks as well as serve other purposes such as P.A.D.S.” “The autonomous dolls?” “Yes.” THAT'S ME. That it is. “And you believe the process is reversible?” The Pip-Fairy averts her eyes, and speaks with uncharacteristic gravity: “That is... what I was promised.” You wait a moment before pressing her again. “You think she can reconstruct a fairy's body? Or does she have the original in stasis or something?” “She has the data, probably everything she needs from the body.” “What do you mean?” “What I mean is that I won't be a fairy, Max. She promised me 'a' body, but claimed true reanimation had not yet progressed to the state of simply reinserting my consciousness wholesale, nor would it be projected to have been developed since.” “You seem to be awfully familiar with the tech, Dai?” “I've run countless simulations of the most possible & expectant outcomes. If things go right, she will create a new body. A doll. My 'ghost'—the robust part of my consciousness—will be Interned in this new body from your Pip-Boy, just as Mary put me into your Pip-Boy from the AI Core. There's also the 'goddess' aspect. I have no idea how that will work. I'm glad you convinced Mary to come with you.” “Why?” “Insurance. If Alice can't do it with technology, then Mary will do it through prayer.” “These are high stakes wagers. What happens if someone fucks up?” “My spirit may be lost in transit or become misaligned with the deterministic intelligence of the doll, creating a volitional zombie. The closest thing a fairy or AI can get to 'undead'. In the latter case I'll only be able to watch as my body responds appropriately to every situation, without any input from my actual self.” “I have no mouth, and yet I must scream?” “They say the eyes are the window to the soul.” She averts them again. “If my eyes scream, will you hear it?” “I definitely will, Dai.” You can't possibly be sure you will be able to notice such a thing, but you'll believe in yourself and you'll believe in her. It is, after all, the reason you are here. “Getting back to the architect of the Internment system, it's good to hear that this Alice fellow found something worth forsaking revenge for. I don't know much about pre-War Gensokyo, but what I have read suggested that fucking with the Hakurei shrine maiden is a seriously bad idea.” “Yes. She didn't bat an eye when Marisa's husband was found dead of mushroom poisoning. She also didn't seem to think anything of her neighbor's accidental drowning. She was buried in her work, which at this point she skirted the outer fringe of what was possible by magicks alone, then she began to work more with kappa machinists, Asakura and other native Gensokyo scientists, and finally consulting for firms in the U.S. military-industrial complex. The nation lost a great hero in Kirisame to be sure, but the Lunarian threat was ever present, and we continued to develop newer, more efficient ways to kill people.” “All the way up to the Second Battle for Tranquility.” “There is no explaining the profound panic and despair that gripped the nation, digging deeply even into the hearts of those with separatist sympathies. The suddenness, the seemingly unprovoked circumstances, and the completeness rout was like Pearl Harbor all over again.” “But we would build up our arsenal! People in weapons development like Margatroid must have been ecstatic.” “You don't understand. You couldn't understand. The attack meant that what we had thought was a balanced, mutual deterrence scheme was now out the window. Now we could only stockpile bombs and wait for someone to launch first. It meant that unless we did something else, we would all surely perish.” “Thus the construction of the Vaults?” “I already told you about Vault ⓜ. It's out here somewhere.” “Ironic that it's probably filled with ferals ready to dig into tasty human flesh.” “Ugh. Don't remind me. If it were possible for me to vomit, your Pip-Boy would be spilling data all over your shoes.” Well, it's just as well. Out there, it's all just soot and blackened hollows. “My legs are starting to cramp.” You stand up and walk back “Feeling pain again is going to be, uh, 'interesting'... as will be hunger.”
Well finished with patrolling the perimeter of the building, you can be fairly sure there is no external basement, nor any back door that might make the place harder to defend. The entire upper story has been badly afflicted by the fires to the point of leaving gaping holes in the roof, and you can't be sure of the upper story's structural soundness until you actually ascend the staircase. However the firestorm-remodeling would make the surroundings fairly easy to monitor from there, and there's plenty of kill holes Ren can aim her guns through. Wait, did something just move up—no that's impossible. If there was anything up there you would've long alerted it to your presence. Of secondary importance is that the second story can be readily evacuated by walking out and sliding off the warped chrome shell of the diner. Though you haven't really touched anything, you rub your hands together as you enter the diner to see one entirely expected scene, and one not at all expected scene. The former being easier to process leads you to the conclusion that Renko is listening to the voice entries. In fact you catch a bit of the last one.
[ (⚡) Two (2) energy cell removed from Mary's inventory. Mary has six (6) energy cells. ]
“...encrypting all further entries, just to make sure the Overseer doesn't suspect me of sabotaging the project.”
You already read that one! “Ren, I heard that one! You're wasting the energy cells!” Mary is surprised out of her funk, but you don't have the capacity to fit that sensory jigsaw puzzle together yet. Is she casting fortunes with chicken-bones? Ren looks at you like you're a total idiot. “I know you did Max, but I didn't really hear it the first time around.” “I'll tell you what it said. Stop wasting the energy cells!” You tell her for the second time. Her expression does not change. “The recently accessed entries are stored in the local memory.” “What does that mean?” “It means it doesn't take inordinate amounts of power to hear them again. I played two other entries. You want to hear, or do you want to run around screaming that the sky is falling.” Mary giggles. You are somewhat embarrassed. “Well if you heard the ones I listened to, pretty sure I'd want to listen to the ones you've listened to.” Renko sighs and strikes a key.
［Ｘ］ Ｅｎｔｒｙ ＃１７： Ｙｕｋｉ， Ｆｅｂ ０２， ２０７８
"Entry Log: February 2, 2078 (UPLOADED FROM EXTERNAL SOURCE: ENCRYPTED)" “Got into a fight with Alice today. I was presenting her and the rest of the administration a slide-show of 'current & projected growth' on the VR project, and mid-sentence I realized how ridiculous it all was. I saw my sister in those self-same cameras she had seen so many die in, through the Overseer's terminal. She taped a message to the camera, only saying 'still alive' weeks after she should have died from acute radiation poisoning. I knew from the state of the stores that she should've ran out by now, especially since she's taking care of a multitude of sick humans & fairies. Now I find I'm locked out of the Overseer's terminal. So much for 'SISTERS'. She already turned her back on one of them. Another probably won't be missed. I easily guessed the replacement: 'SHINKI'.”
“Okay. I think I get how this is shaping up.” “Right.” Ren concurs, “That's why I skipped to the last entry here.”
［Ｘ］ Ｅｎｔｒｙ ＃２２： Ｍａｉ， Ｍａｒ １１， ２０７８
"Entry Log: March 11, 2078"
The robotic male voice says nothing of the origin of the entry, so you have to assume it was recorded outside. This is about a month since 'Yuki' decided to follow 'Mai'.
“Yuki was cudgeled by one of these monstrous, fever-addled humans because somebody's kid died. Boo hoo. Now she's come down with a high, traumatic fever. Either she wasn't watching her own rad counter, or she was constantly lying about how she was feeling, as according to her Pip-Boy, she's absorbed enough rads to result in the acute radiation toxidrome. She was constantly, obsessively washing and analyzing the food stores for contamination by radioiodine and cesium radionuclides, so I cannot say it occurred without due diligence. Demon cell lines were susceptible to radiation toxicity in the in vitro experiments, but this would be the first ever historical case of a demon succumbing to an infection—”
There is a terrible hacking. As indicated by the log, it's a different woman speaking now, a wearier voice. You see no microphone, but there must have been one to record this, or possibly it was streamed from her Pip-Boy, if that's possible.
“—Ugh. These damnable allergies! She survived the prodrome as I did during the initial days without sequelae, and I thought, because of this, we would not be susceptible to further toxicity. I know now that this is wrong, and it's possible that Yuki's constant doting, which I thought to be annoying and wasteful—that more attention should be paid to the sick, I said—might very well be what has enabled me to survive. By my own dosimeter, the absorbed radiation dose has increased predictably over the months, even though the environmental rad count had gone down, initially, to the point where it seems the weather is the most important source now of radiation toxicity, by the carriage of fallout from mainland Asia, where we know the largest concentration of bombs hit, according to the radio stations that survived the initial months. None of these stations still broadcast, except the endlessly repeating Emergency Broadcast Network, with either the workers dying or the infrastructure that provides transmission power going dead. We hoped there would be a 'fire-bird' reprise from greater human civilization after the 'walking ghost' phase of the sickness had passed. It seems we were too optimistic, and that those who did survive the bombs and radiation at first would just fall to radiation, malnutrition, and disease later. There is no resistance effect in the initial survivors, nor were the initial survivors any less susceptible to later infection. After a seeming 'recovery' they all eventually experience the bloody diarrhea and then very shortly develop symptoms of septicemia as the massive damage to the gastrointestinal lining takes its course. Broad-spectrum antibiotics only served to lengthen the amount of their suffering. Here I'd been projecting endocrine dysfunction, cancer, long-term autoimmune disorders, and even toxic side-effects from medication. Now, the people I had initially triaged as only 'at risk' of these are dying of dysentery and pneumonia. And we have no more medicines to give them. Just the 'Quietus'. No longer can I debate Yuki over the ethical scruples; when she isn't wracked by fever dreams, she is delirious. All the humans here have already received their injection. I have seen it work in a few already. First comes euphoria. Then sleepiness. Then nothing. That's the idea. Finally a drug from Yagokoro Pharmaceuticals that works exactly as advertised! Maybe I shouldn't have rode Alice for buying so much stock in the company. Of the drug, I did not save any of it for myself or Yuki. We will starve before I accept that reality. The rest will burn in this 'restaurant' that has now become a feeding ground only for disease. And the ghosts. If they are ghosts, and not merely a hallucination—“
Another hacking cough, punctuated by a sigh. Guess this explains why the forest burned down, as opposed to the 'too much oxygen' hypothesis.
“...Anyway I don't know if anyone will find this, but the gasoline is already spilled. Even if it is only you Alice, and it takes you ten years to read this, I want to say I was wrong completely, and I'm sorry for everything, including Yuki. In the unlikely case someone else finds this, check the safe. The combination should be the same as always: Right 10. Left 10. Right 10. There it should be protected from the coming blaze.”
“Ghosts? Fuck! I knew this place was fucking shady!” Renko is looking sideways at anything and everything now. Maybe that movement you saw before? You haven't seen anything at all in fact, dead or alive, except that wild haggis. No insects. No birds. No rodents or squirrels. Not even these 'ferals' that the radio had mentioned— The half-smashed jukebox Ren had backed into as the result of her paranoia suddenly lights up in pink, yellow, and blue, now the only thing of any color under the shade the roof provides. “Ah-ah-ah-ah...” Ren turns around in absolute terror. “Ren. Chill. You probably hit a button by accident.” “...I-i-it's not plugged in. I checked!” So it isn't. The cord like the one on the terminal seems to have been chewed through. Despite this, the robotic arm takes the record and places it on the spindle, and then turntable begins to spin. "Calm down Ren. If there are ghosts here, then I'm sure Mary can banish them!" You look at Mary, and after a second or two she catches on. "Right! That's... well within my capacities!"
Way, way louder than your radios, which had been turned down to listen to the recordings, and your own voices. Ren's not the only one who is weirded out now. Mary stands up from where she had been meditating or tossing chicken bones or whatever the hell it was she was doing. If it's ghosts, they might be the kind you could get along with, right? Mary's suspicious squinting is the only indication something is seriously wrong. She's not looking at the jukebox, but at ceiling. Then comes exciting pounding and barely audible grunting. Not the kind of stomping you'd expect of a big guy, but a lot of little guys. Shit. "Poltergeists?" You want to shut off the jukebox now, but it sounds like it won't do you any good; whatever is awake now is very awake. “Next time, we check the entire building first, before we take our silly hats off!” You whisper-yell at no one in particular. “There were no tracks!” Mary defends. “You can't tell anything by the lack of tracks!” Ren now is more irritated than afraid. Whatever this is, it's probably not ghosts, then. “The wind is constantly moving the soot around!” There is quickly-moving creaking from the back in the kitchen, hidden behind the swinging doors. Maybe something more corporeal than poltergeists? Ferals? They're probably descending a staircase, and they sound voracious. Hyena-like laughter, hissing noises, and other imitative vocalizations reminiscent of animals. “Oh, gods, those weren't chicken bones were they?” Mary asks herself, paling. “Ferals,” Dai confirms. “That was probably their last meal.” “What do we know, Dai?” “Dumb as a box of hammers. No fear of pain or death. Hungry and more encouraged the greater they number. Sounds like at least four and as many as eight. Probably too stupid to handle a gun, but sharp objects are ubiquitous and would suit them fine. You have nothing to fear from their magic at least, since you'd speed-cast faster than they could, and Mary can use me to nullify a fairy's powers. You have any kind of plan?” Well, party leader. How are you going to do this?
From most elaborate to the least elaborate, you could: [ ] A simple trap will improve morale and probe your party's ability to act in unison. Between the front door and the counter is a lot of open space with no cover, especially if the ferals decide it's more to the point to scramble over said counter, rather than go around. The three of you will dart out the front door. Two of you will hide by the windows on either side of the building. One of you will be the bait and step out into the entrance way once they've entered the diner proper and make a signal. – [ ] Ren is the most likely to end surviving a slug-match in the advent your 'trap' degenerates into a brawl. Mary will fire the 'Princess Smile' with abandon, and you will have to rely on Novgorod's tracking to time & aim your magicks. You'll have to try chain- or multi-casting. Can Novgorod track multiple targets at a time? – [ ] Mary can probably turn ferals or something, and she's already dressed like a goddamn goalie. It doesn't hurt that her gohei is both a focus and a melee weapon effective against supernatural beings. Ren should be able to pick them off pretty well with either of her guns, and you can smoke them out if they decide to hide behind the counter. – [ ] You're the decoy. Throw something flashy in their faces and then bring the ceiling down. The idea is to get them to target you, and not the girls, until the last possible second. [ ] The counter and swinging metal door creates an obvious choke point. Ren backs off to the entrance, while you fan left with the Liber de Nymphis and Mary fans right with her gohei. When they hit that doorway, Renko is going to use both her guns and put as much lead into the air as possible. When Ren needs to reload, you and Mary will hurl a torrent of magic at the door way strong enough to blow it off its hinges. This should stagger them long enough for Ren to reload and either you or Mary to throw off a Spell Card. [ ] You can't afford to waste ammo on small fry. Renko has her toothpick and the reflexes of a cat. Mary has Kotohime's 'Key of Dim Bludgeoning' (or whatever) and is so well armored these things would have an easier time of dragging her down to the floor and trying to provoke hyperthermia by over-crowding. You however only have an X-Acto knife up your sleeve, so plop Novgorod on your head and prepare for close-quarters combat casting. [ ] Having one of you exhausted is far preferable to having all three of you at half capacity, and that's without factoring the cost & logistics of bullets and energy cells. You'll throw the magical equivalent of a flash-bang into the kitchen, at which point Ren will just go to town on these guys. Mary can heal or buff as appropriate. [ ] You have no plan, but you can't say that because when people say that, everything turns to shit. – [ ] Renko is the tactical genius. – [ ] Mary is the most insightful and probably has the most experience in dealing with fairies. – [ ] Daiyousei is my co-pilot. [ ] Write-in a plan.
"One day the Mistress misheard 'Bread, not Bombs' as 'Banana Nut Bombs' and suddenly the whole operation was outsourced to Honduras, and the Gensokyo plantation was turned into a strip mining operation. Remilia only ever thought of things in terms of profit.” — Mr. Farmer, How Much Land Does a Youkai Need? Greed and the Inhuman Condition
Resubmitting my vote which got erased with the thread.
[X] You can't afford to waste ammo on small fry. Renko has her toothpick and the reflexes of a cat. Mary has Kotohime's 'Key of Dim Bludgeoning' (or whatever) and is so well armored these things would have an easier time of dragging her down to the floor and trying to provoke hyperthermia by over-crowding. You however only have an X-Acto knife up your sleeve, so plop Novgorod on your head and prepare for close-quarters combat casting.
Risky, but it conserves Renko's limited ammo and the Key has a damage bonus against fey.
[x]So, here's the plan -[x] First, Max creates a trap rune that activates on contact. If he doesn't know that (a given) he just prepares to multi cast all area of effect spells that he knows. Use the PADs to target them as soon they appear (or even before) After that, he's in support. -[x] Mary: She's better equipped for a CQB: She can buff herself, has armor, a weapon that's both a focus and a melee weapon effective against supernatural beings and the skill to turn them. She goes in front to engage the survivors. -[x] Renko's skill with ranged weapons is unmatched. She goes behind Max and Mary, but with a good angle to start shooting as soon as they come. Focus on sneak attacks to the back (is there other type?) -[x] Dai provides advice and moral support.
[x]So, here's the plan -[x] First, Max creates a trap rune that activates on contact. If he doesn't know that (a given) he just prepares to multi cast all area of effect spells that he knows. Use the PADs to target them as soon they appear (or even before) After that, he's in support. -[x] Mary: She's better equipped for a CQB: She can buff herself, has armor, a weapon that's both a focus and a melee weapon effective against supernatural beings and the skill to turn them. She goes in front to engage the survivors. -[x] Renko's skill with ranged weapons is unmatched. She goes behind Max and Mary, but with a good angle to start shooting as soon as they come. Focus on sneak attacks to the back (is there other type?) -[x] Dai provides advice and moral support.
[x]So, here's the plan -[x] First, Max creates a trap rune that activates on contact. If he doesn't know that (a given) he just prepares to multi cast all area of effect spells that he knows. Use the PADs to target them as soon they appear (or even before) After that, he's in support. -[x] Mary: She's better equipped for a CQB: She can buff herself, has armor, a weapon that's both a focus and a melee weapon effective against supernatural beings and the skill to turn them. She goes in front to engage the survivors. -[x] Renko's skill with ranged weapons is unmatched. She goes behind Max and Mary, but with a good angle to start shooting as soon as they come. Focus on sneak attacks to the back (is there other type?) -[x] Dai provides advice and moral support.
[x]So, here's the 'plan' -[x] First, Max creates a trap rune that activates on contact. If he doesn't know runes, he just prepares to multi cast all area of effect spells available. Then, he uses the PADs to target them as soon they appear. After that, he's in support. -[x] Mary: She's better equipped for CQB: She can buff herself, has armor, a weapon that's both a focus and effective against supernatural beings and, on top of that, she can turn them. All that considered, she should go in front to engage the survivors. -[x] Renko's skill with ranged weapons is unmatched. She should stay behind Max and Mary, but with a good angle to start shooting as soon as they come. Focus on sneak attacks. -[x] Dai provides updates and advice.
I'm not sure about this, but I guess it's good enough.
-Yuki, Mai, Alice, and everyone are interned in the vault. Gengetsu goes apeshit and Alice is forced to toss her ass outside. I think. Not sure. -Alice refuses to re-open the Vault door, saying it's too dangerous, and that they can't afford risking contamination. -Mai, watching the camera feed of the people stuck outside, gets jaded and disillusioned, and finally leaves. She maintains that it should be easy to treat the people there and keep them alive, or at least until the radiation dies down. -Mai shows up on the cameras, saying "Hey look fags, I'm still not dead yet. Guess the Overseer DIDN'T KNOW SHIT about staying alive out here." -Yuki, too, eventually has fucking had it, and leaves, joining Mai in treating the people outside. -People start dying because of secondary effects of the radiation, and not because of the actual radiation itself. Yuki and Mai realize they fucked up, and are left to die an unpleasant and bitter death. -So it goes. Is this basically correct?
(Jumped this down several lines because I'm pretty sure >text shows through spoiler tags.) Also, >Marisa marries David Hooray! >David is canonically related to Yuuka Hooray! >death by mushroom poisoning ...what..." >drowning ;_;
I've got some objections to the current vote. Maybe one of you can help me out, here. >Max creates a trap rune that activates on contact. >multi cast >area of effect spells >She can buff herself, >and the skill to turn them. Where the hell is any of this ever stated to be within their abilities? Mr. Author Person, I'd really like some clarification on this, if possible. I don't feel comfortable blindly voting for this.
Oh, and one other thing totally unrelated: You referred to Kurumi as having the family name of Scarlet. Is she really a relative of Remilia's, or is that more a "Forget your old ties; you are now part of The Family" kind of thing?
Wasteland Survival Guide: Gensokyo Edition will describe the natural course of radiation sickness as well as the dosage levels at which various toxicity occurs, in the next update. I have tried to make it as realistic as possible, since one of my gripes in the games is that risk of radiation poisoning is too low, considering the total destruction of the landscape & that intoxication is way less dangerous than it should be. Things such as racial differences, Rad-X, and Rad-Away still exist, as well as life-saving treatments available in properly maintained Vaults. Nonetheless, rad poisoning is still serious fucking business, especially once it has progressed past the point of the subacute phase, after which Rad-Away is useless, much as the rabies vaccine is useless once the disease has progressed to the neurological phase (i.e., hydrophobia). The effects of radiation as mutations still occur (e.g., brahmin), but such things are the result of two hundred years of chronic exposure in a habitat with greatly changed conditions for fitness. Radiation kills your immune system yes, but it also sterilizes the environment, and the extremely virulent diseases have already killed themselves by eliminating their carriers too quickly, populations who are already greatly reduced in number and density. Things would have been worse in the early days when large numbers of humans survived and crowded together under unsanitary conditions, with poor medical treatment, resulting in widespread epidemic. Moreover, the misuse of Rad-X & Rad-Away in people who already suffering from the immune suppression paradoxically worsen their sickness by contributing to the survival against radiation of the pathogens they were already infected with.
"Lesser fairies are ubiquitous pests, found in every locale and environment in Gensokyo, year round, but they are especially bothersome in areas with high amounts of magical radiation. Frequently they are commanded by greater fairies, or even seemingly by youkai of considerable power. This appears to be instinctive on the part of the fairies, and frequently these youkai are not aware that they have established a fairy conclave by their presence and may in fact consider the fairies a nuisance. Nonetheless, this has lead to an uncountable number of misunderstandings between humans and the youkai who establish themselves in a specific territory. Due to increased fitness pressure caused by the rapid urbanization of Gensokyo and the emigration of indigent greater fairies from their natural habitats, lesser fairies are increasingly incarnating in larger, smarter, and more aggressive forms. The uniquely short lifespan of individual incarnations of fairies and the rapid turnover of their population has created an excellent model for the study of the ecological impact of modern humans & metahuman society." —Tokiko Morichika, Gensokyo Trail Travelogues
This is a pairing which I didn't see coming, and yet... it kinda works.
That, or she was adopted, or took his name, or something.
Also: will we find out the truth of the Kirisame Murders Completely And Entirely Accidental Deaths at some point, or be in a position to find this sort of thing out? We probably can't bring back the dead, but I'm sure somebody would like some closure on this.
[X] A simple trap will improve morale and probe your party's ability to act in unison. Between the front door and the counter is a lot of open space with no cover, especially if the ferals decide it's more to the point to scramble over said counter, rather than go around. The three of you will dart out the front door. Two of you will hide by the windows on either side of the building. One of you will be the bait and step out into the entrance way once they've entered the diner proper and make a signal. – [X] You're the decoy. Throw something flashy in their faces and then bring the ceiling down. The idea is to get them to target you, and not the girls, until the last possible second.
Feeling pretty silly, you put Novgorod on your head again. Will she stay on and not fall off if you move around a lot? Observing your friends doesn't help: Renko would be horrified at the thought of someone else aiming her guns for her, and Mary has a visor on her combat helmet which she flips down over her right eye.
”...We've only just begun...”
A plan, huh? Will that really be necessary? You don't have all that much time, so your commands will have to be mostly concerned with making sure your group maximizes their individual combat effectiveness rather than laying out something that will probably be left by the wayside once they start crashing through the kitchen door and all hell breaks loose. “Combat waitress!” “Eh?” Mary is surprised at being addressed. “Don't let them get around the counter!” “R-right!” Mary reaches for the jutte, its prong hooked onto her blue hakama, handing the gohei off to her left hand. “I'll beat them without mercy!”
”...A kiss for luck & we're on our way....”
“Ren back away from the counter, and make sure you aim your shots carefully.” Getting shot by Renko on accident would certainly be an ignominious end for you and your endeavor. (Ignoring that she almost shot you down just two days ago.) “Heh. Who do you think I am?” She unholsters her Nambu to join her Mateba pointed up in the air. “Dai, I don't want to have to kill them all unless that's really necessary.” You pick up the pot of still hot tea on the counter. “We'll need a show of force, but they should run and take flight out of the holes in the second story.” “The fairies probably can't fly Ma—“ You cut her off, “I didn't mean literally.” Their wings are too small to sustain flight. Everyone knows that.
”...Before the rising sun, we fly...”
Looking at the steam rising from the teapot on the counter, you remember your fight with the Overseer. Like then, your best chances may be lie in using the environment to your advantage. Greek atomistic magic readily lends itself to synthesis & enumeration, but this is magically exhausting and there are hard limits on the rate of creation: You might have enough 'mana' (or 'MP' or any other term for potential magical energy) to fill a swimming pool with water; however, you could hardly do it any faster than you could with a garden hose. As sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, magic is capable only of mimicking achievements possible through science. The collective human capacity for belief in the supernatural is markedly inferior to the imagination of a single man, just as the intelligence of the few is vastly superior to that of a mob. When you use magic, it's not just personal belief that is required for efficacy: A zealot cannot set another man on fire with his mind unless the victim and other observers believe that this is possible. If belief falters somewhere along the line, then the man on fire just underwent spontaneous human combustion, or a cow knocked a lantern over, or something equally improbable but not impossible. Belief in magic is not absolutely necessary for the effects of magic per se, but is certainly required for its study and application. The aforementioned zealot who sets people on fire with his mind is not born a zealot, even if he is born with magical capacity. The fire in the context of a mundane world is simply a tragic, one-in-a-million chance, and by failing to see the true causative agent, a man would never make the connections that magic might allow him to explore; he'll just find himself witnessing a great deal of senseless misfortune like it and end up in a sanitarium. Magic is traumatic in a world ruled only by science, and possibly fatal in a world where 'magic' does exist, but only as superstition—'witchcraft'. To this effect, mantras, rituals, power words, runes, leylines, these are the existential costs of practicing magic. Not only does keeping up appearances grant the individual more control through his own belief, but it is the civic duty of all magicians, to keep magic alive in the public consciousness. Even if this public is about to die a very painful death.
”...Sharing horizons that are new to us...”
You take a big huff and breathe out on the side of the teapot, so that you can draw a '㊋' on one side and a '㊌' on the other with the condensation. The runes are temporary, as the heat of the teapot will soon cause their evaporation, which is just as well since the concentration-activated 'trap' they code will be armed in maybe half a minute. The first fairy scrambles out the door and is momentarily confused by seeing three humans in three different locations. You'll call him 'Buridan', because Buridan looks like he came upon a banquet and didn't know what dish it wanted to eat first. He is filthy, and there are open sores where the solar radiation has overtaken his ability to regenerate. He is not a very good conversationalist. “GHSSSS—” Which is fine, because he wasn't invited in the first place. Buridan doesn't get half-way through hissing his presence to the hostess before she drops him with a single bullet to the head. You have the semantic focus, now you need vocals—Karen's voice is lovely even on this worn, worn record—but it doesn't do it for your magic. “Tea for the tillerman!” The way things are going, you might not be able to finish your trap before Ren kills all of them. Which is not to say Mary is slacking either. The second fairy is even uglier, and only a mass of black, oily hair gives you some idea of what gender is supposed to be. She can't be very social conscious since she just stepped over the corpse of Buridan without any more consideration than a stumble. You can't fault her for finding Mary a more interesting conversation partner, but like Buridan, social graces escape her: A clawed hand lunges at Mary, then recoils as if it had attempted to pick up a red-hot fireplace poker. It's Mary's gohei. The fairy decides to take on a different tack, but before it can turn around fully and go after you or Renko, Mary gets insulted at being ignored, and her cast-iron jutte cracks the miserable thing's skull open. Some of the contents patter on the floor, then the creature itself falls behind the counter, out of your vision. Mary swings down a second time, and there is a sickening, wet crunch: A mercy blow. Gore taints the weapon. You don't think you'll be able to eat for a while.
”...Talking it over just the two of us...”
A third scrambles in after the other two. You call this one Flavor Flav, because he is the hurtest, ugliest motherfucker you have ever seen. Flavor Flav ignores his dead companions entirely, and dissuaded from attacking Mary, probably more on the account of the armor which must make her look like an entrée with a hardened carapace—difficult to eat—rather than self-preservation, Flav attempts to climb over the counter and attack the next-nearest, softer target, which is you. “Max, back.“ Blam. You back away now as Flav attempts to stand up and run toward you with only one working ankle. Renko fires her Mateba at point blank, and as the deformed bullet passes through Flav's left temple, you note that the exit wound is larger than the entry wound. This analysis is confirmed when the fairy hits the ground and more of Flav's blood & brains ooze out the left side than the right. You won't ask Ren to explain the ballistics; you're on the job here. More hissing & grunting coming from the kitchen. “Mary, hold the door open!” Seeing the tea pot cradled meaningfully in your hands, cautiously with the jutte she nudges the swinging door open. Already, you can see two more racing toward the three of you, and while one nearly trips on a steel pot, the other grabs cutlery from off a shelf mid-sprint. So some of them do know to use simple weapons? Novgorod, give me a firing solution. JUST THROW IT ALREADY YOU BIG NANCE. You throw it. You know quite well what will happen when the fragile thing lands at their feet. Mary immediately removes the jutte when the pot shatters and the screaming starts, which is perfectly timed for the steam to fog over the plastic aperture on the door. “AAIIIIIIIIIEEEEEeee...!“ Then the screaming stops, which is what you were hoping for. That was pretty fucking easy, huh? THEY WERE WEAKSAUCE. Yeah, you were real helpful Novgorod. Maybe I should have thrown you instead of wasting that kettle? IF YOU DID THAT, YOU WOULDN'T BE HEARING THEIR CRIES OF AGONY. “Agghh... guh...” Incoherent moaning, coming from the kitchen. Not what you were hoping for. In fact, it makes you very frowny. “What's wrong Maxey?” Not Ren though! “The haywire deluxe not to served to your specifications?”
”...And when the evening comes, we smile...”
“I think I'd prefer a shit sandwich.” A greater ice fairy was in bad shape last time you pulled this trick; these ones certainly aren't going to fare any better. Mary is uninjured, standing and looking despondently at the three dead fairies at her feet, one whose skull she bashed in. “Hey.” Ren shrugs, “Could always send it back to the kitchen!” I THINK YOU ALREADY DID. “Aaaaauh...” The groaning continues unabated. “Oh for the love of...” Annoyed, Ren hops over the counter, and only pauses momentarily upon meeting the rapidly cooling air on the other side of the door. “Where—?” She's cut off by the door swinging shut behind her. “Mary,” You snap your fingers to attempt to rouse her out of her funk. If you look at the corpses too long, you might fall into yourself as well. She brushes a strand of hair out of her face and takes off her helmet, forcing herself to smile when she looks at you. “I'm all right! It'll take more than—“ Blam. You wince. Blam. The moaning has stopped. Mary is very close to losing that smile again. Renko returns, fanning herself with her Stetson, weapons already holstered in favor of a lit cigarette. “Man, it's like a sauna in there. Hey what the hell are you looking at me like that for? We just won!”
”...And yes, we've just begun—begun—begun—begun—begun—be—”
And the museum piece, one that would be a perfect addition to your collection of pre-War memorabilia if it weren't for the bad skipping, is blown into shards of black shellac by Ren's 8mm Nambu. As if in sympathy, the lights of the finicky machine wink out. You want to say something about respecting artists' recorded media, but it's more to the point that she's being deliberately wasteful of ammo. “Ren. Cool it.” “You don't need to read me the riot act, Maxey.” She holds her hands up in defense. “I'm a cool cucumber.” And she turns up the radio of her Pip-Boy.
Ren is done acting for now; now it's time for her to dote on Mary: “Mary, are you alr—“ The Vault priestess holds up a hand, and turns her eyes skyward. More still? There is the sound of more footsteps above, then stomping on the aluminum overhang back by the entrance. Two feral fairies drop from the roof outside near the front door; without so much as a snarl, they hit the ground running, and they don't look back. Somehow vindicated, Ren puts out her cigarette in your forgotten teacup and sits back on the stool in front of terminal. “Don't just stand there like a bump on a log, Maxey. Check the corpses.” “I'm checking the jukebox.” A two-hundred-year-old relic left in a blasted, run-down hovel doesn't turn itself on for no reason. Not without power. Mary already volunteers for the corpse looting before Ren can open her mouth again. You're somewhat concerned about Mary having to pick through the belongings of the dead, but say nothing. If she wants to put on a show of being as tough as you or Ren, that's her right. Maybe she is? You walk over to the machine to see how it started working to begin with. Like Ren noted, the cord terminates in a frayed mess. Following the cord, you see a back panel. It's screwed on, but the plastic is badly warped and liable to shatter if enough leverage were applied. You could probably pry it off with the X-Acto knife, but you're liable to snap the thing in half. “Ren check this out.” “What?” She doesn't look over. “I need your Swiss Army knife.” Now she does. “When did you become an electrical engineer?” You give her a sour face. “Fine. Let me see it.”
Ren picks through the machine. You pick through the ferals' corpses. Not much. The few who have clothes with any pockets have them filled with random junk. Spent casings, pre-WWII Yen coinage, lint, an empty lighter, an unused flare (?), meat or fruit or something that is better left alone, a $2 bill, some teeth, a ball of aluminum foil, unspent ammunition for weapons they didn't own, and a single bottle cap. Probably whatever they came across that looked shiny or strange enough. The garbage you leave on the floor. The little amount of money & ammunition you pocket. Combined with what Mary picked up from inside the kitchen before she left 'for air' in a mortified huff, you net:
[ (Ⓝ) Max has acquired +4 caps! ] [ ($) Max has acquired $2.00 USD! ] [ (¥) Max has acquired 180 Yen! ]
“You find anything, Maxey? Catch.” “Not rea—hey!” A battery whizzes by your head. It bounces off the kitchen door and lands in a pool of sticky blood. You scowl at her. Actually on closer inspection, it's an energy cell. “This is what was powering the jukebox?” Ren nods, smiling. Good thing that they make them to last. Unlike traditional batteries, energy cells don't have a shelf-life. You wipe it off on the rags one of the corpses are wearing. (Which is not to say it's all that much cleaner as a result.)
[ (⚡) One (1) energy cell added to Max's inventory. Max has eight (8) energy cells. ]
“Well, you find anything?” “Yeah. Catch.” And you throw a handful of lead bullets at her. “He—ow! Fuck!” She catches some of them with her face.
[ (⇥) Ren has acquired four (4) 8x22mm Nambu rounds ] [ (⇥) Ren has acquired one (1) .45 ACP round(s) ] [ (⇥) Ren has acquired two (2) 9x19mm Parabellum round(s) ] [ (⇥) Ren has acquired three (3) .22 LR round(s) ]
“Jesus. Ow.” You didn't throw them very hard. Renko stoops over to pick them up, as some of them roll away from her. “...Well, at least I can use some of them. And the rest we can probably sell.” It worries you a little that they were carrying them. It might just be that they looking interesting like the paper money & coinage, but the possibility that little monsters like that might be able to actually operate firearms is dreadful. “Yeah it sure would be a shame if you had no bullets with which to kill the fairies and raiders inside the nearest machine shop that you needed to break into to make the bullets in the first place for your ridiculous, fetishistic pea-shooter.” “Ridiculous?!” “Stop waving your gun around Ren.” Honestly, this hard-bitten 'Black Lotus' persona is starting to grate. “You defended yourself with a teapot!” She's still doing it. “It worked.” Then again it was starting to grate ever since you tried to shoot you. OK, that was half your fault, which was really half Dai's fault, which means you were in a comfortable 25% minority in respect to that incident, and even less if you consider yourself the product of the Fairy AI's careful engineering. (You don't.) “It was still fucking ridiculous! Also, steaming someone to death is a pretty fucked-up way to kill someone!” “Says Miss Stone-Cold-Killer: Put two between the eyes, and then, 'Gee how about this weather we're having!'” “I was trying to inject some levity into a bad situation, all right?” “It didn't work! Mary is probably outside crying.” “That's...” Renko sighs, indicating she's ready to give up. “...That's not my fault.”
“She isn't crying,” Dai speaks over your Pip-Boy. After a few seconds, a smiling Mary steps through the completely shattered pane of the front door, probably because the door looked and sounded like it was about to fall off its hinges when you used it coming in the first time. “...I was scanning the Citizen's Band radio. Dai mentioned that newswoman who was on the radio. CB channel 12?” You're not sure that's really a good idea, and you'll be glad when Dai isn't able to go and tell Mary things this way anymore. Renko looks at you, so you explain, “WGNR, the so-called 'free radio' of the Wasteland is looking to conduct an interview, apparently.” “Huh.” Renko looks as enthusiastic as you are. “I was thinking, it might be a good way to get into the 10% Nation's redoubt on Youkai Mountain,” Mary continues to push for the idea. “Not that we absolutely have to go there, since their Vaults have been opened, and we don't need the keys.” “Well, it's possible they might have the keys of, or at least information on, some of the other Vault,” offers Ren. “What is the 10% Nation? I heard it mentioned on the radio, but...” Nothing else. “It's a sort of military fraternity & youkai quasi-religious organization, Maxey,” Ren elaborates. “Yeah, but they're peaceable toward humans, according to Akyuju in the Survival Guide,” Mary seems eminently familiar with the topic. “However, they're very well armed and trained. If we ever need a group that might make a move toward the Flower Brigade at Vault ④—which is an example of a youkai power organization that is not friendly with humans—the Enclave government out in the sticks of Mayohiga, the GLF, the SDMC, and any other alphabet soup factions, they're potential allies and also potential sanctuary.” “Okay. What does '10% Nation' mean though?” You're curious. “Ten Percent Nation of Gods & Earths. Something to do with the fact that they generally look like humans in appearance except for the '10%'.” “Give me an example?” “The wings of a crow tengu. The ears of wolf tengu. Or the gills of a kappa.” Kappa have gills? “I suppose they don't allow humans into their ranks?” “Except for their gods' priestess, and that's why there are the Sedevacantists too.” “You're going to have to explain this one too.” “The etymology of 'Sedevacantist' is 'vacant seat'. They're a heretical sect, mostly of humans or half-youkai, that believe there is meant to be three major goddesses of the Mountain of Faith, when there are currently only two: Kanako Yasaka and Suwako Moriya. The Aki sisters are only minor goddesses, I guess.” “This separatist faction is connected to the failure of Vault ⑬,” Dai adds. “That was the unlucky 'human' Vault for what is now truly 'Youkai' Mountain.” Another Vault you don't have to worry about. “Well we can't do an interview now. Not when we're about to gain access to Vault ⑩.” “Right,” both Mary and Ren agree. Renko, pocketing the bullets, returns to the stool and then the computer. “Mary, continue looking for a safe, would you?” Dai asks. “Sure.” “Max, carry the corpses outside.” Shit. “Fine.”
You're dragging the fifth corpse through the pane-less front door. These last two were so badly scalded that their skin started to come off when your grabbed at it. You opted to move them by their clothing; it's filthy, but at least it won't make you retch. “Why am I doing this, Dai?” “Three reasons. One is that Mary can't concentrate on finding that safe if she's constantly being assailed by the smell & sight of death.” “Okay.” You drop this one in the pile with the others. “Second?” “A message. Look at the pile of corpses and the blood trail leading into the diner. Does this look like a place you want to hang out in?” The trail of blood and ichor does indeed run into the diner. “Absolutely not. What's the third?” "Fairies can be superstitious folk, you know. Once upon a time I had this idea in my head that if I died in an unnatural environment, then my soul wouldn't make it back to the Earth to reincarnate.” “I see. So they'll hopefully reincarnate if I leave them out here?” A moment of silence passes, as you survey the ashen forest. “You believe in it anymore, Dai? Being a goddess and a computer complicates things surely.” “You know what, Max? Fuck it. I don't care where my soul goes, so long as it ain't here." “I hear that.”
"—臨! 兵! 闘! 者! 皆! 陣! !列! 在! 前!” Strange hand gestures are made by Mary's right hand, while the other has slapped an ofuda to the dingy tile. Her gloves are off. Guess she really is attempting divination. When the sound of your boots crunching on glass alerts them again to your presence, Renko doesn't move, but Mary stands up and meets your eyes when you come in. “Not using chicken bones this time Mary?” Or whatever kind of bones they were. “Nope!” But then she looks a bit introspective. “...Or whatever they were. Maybe it explains why it wasn't working?” Mary shrugs the thought off, then claps her hands in a prayer to the gods muttering something again in Nip-speak.
[ (۩) Mary prayed with her whole heart! ]
With that done she crouches down to stand her gohei on the floor with one finger. When she lets go, the stick & its streamers falls in a direction, and in that direction, her violet eyes follow. Standing, she then walks in that direction while carefully scanning the area at her feet, on the ceiling, patting the lining of a bar stool, all up to the wall, which she presses on in a few areas, but nothing gives. After reaching the end, she turns about. Her discriminating visage has not changed, and she crouches down again. “A shave and a haircut...” This time, knocking on the tile: Tap-tap. She stands up. Walks forward a step. Crouches. “A shave and a haircut...” Tap-tap with her gohei. Stands up. Moves forward a step. Crouches. “A shave and a haircut...” Tap-tap. Stands. Moves forward. Crouches. “A shave and a haircut...” Tap-tap. Repeats. “A shave and a haircut...” Tap-tap. A different sound that time. “Two bits!” She shouts successfully, getting Ren's attention. Mary brushes the dust and shards of glass away with the heel of her geta, then she slips her fingernails into the space between the tile and rest of the flooring. The tile comes away easily. Uncanny, almost preternatural insight in this girl. You're sure though that it is not an extension of some deductive capacity, because Ren (and maybe even you) could talk circles around her, and still be knocking on drywall. It may indeed have something to do with her gods—as ever, you sense no magic from her. You only start to move to see the result of her search when Mary drops the tile on the dirty flooring, kicking up a lot of dust, which causes Mary to start coughing, and you to sigh. Yes, Mary has her ditsy blonde moments at least as often as she has the moments of uncanny brilliance.
[ (☢) Mary has gained +2 ㎭ ]
“You OK?” “Yes...” Coughing. “I guess—“ She hacks a few more times. “—I'm just so used to dealing with dust from the cavern!” Yes. Whatever explanation she's most comfortable with. “So what did you find?” Mary's smile is dazzling though she is still waving the dust away. “Well, we're going to find out in a moment.” She reaches into her vestments, retrieving the broken scalpel and a bobby pin, the latter probably plucked right out of Renko's hair. You can see that it's a safe, obviously. About one foot in any direction, taking But there is a combination dial on it. Twenty enclosed numerics label the dial: ①–⑳ “Mary, that is a combination lock.” “So?” “How are you going to pick it?” “Oh? Oh! Riiiiight.” There's the sound Renko's palm smacking her forehead. “Uh, what was the combination, Ren? From the last entry?” You think you know but you want to make sure. “10-10-10. Same number as the Vault.” Right ⑩. Left ⑩. Right ⑩. The arm moves at your efforts and the safe unlatches. There is no treasure. No secret cache of diamonds. Not even a bottle cap. However it's still reasonable to assume it had not been opened by vandals or raiders. That's because there is a single of object of immense and universal value: A capsule of Rad-X inside a coffee mug. Ren's been holding onto the group chems, whether you like it or not. “Ren.” You look at her, as she's getting up from the stool. She looks different. Like those ants had looked different, yesterday. You see it on every section of her body and on each of her limbs. It's the P.A.D.S. to-hit percentage. If you were trying to kill her with a fireball, you would have a much greater chance of a hit—and from that hit, conflagration—by hurling it at her torso. It's a bit sickening. MAN UP. Says the little doll in your pocket. I see the implementation was successful. I'M READY TO HURL. Ugh.
“Here.” Ren is surprised at how close it comes to her hand. “Rad-X?” She looks at the two-toned capsule momentarily before pocketing it. “Think it means anything, Ren?” “You heard the recording. They would have took everything of value with them. It might just be to alert whoever might find cache that it hadn't yet been broken into.” Ren's heavy footsteps crunch broken glass underneath her harness boots as she walks over to where Mary is sitting, her combat-ready costume protecting her from the shards. “...Or they wanted whoever might discover the combination to think they had more supplies with them.” An uncharacteristically jaded appraisal of their motives from Mary. “Anyway, there's more.” Mary fishes out of bag made of rough, brown sackcloth. Holding it up from the bottom of the bag, the contents spill out on the diner floor. Two dolls, somewhat similar in appearance to Novgorod or any other autonomous doll. THEY MATCH NO PRODUCTION RUN ON FILE. Meaning? THEY'RE JUST DOLLS. Well, the dolls definitely look like they were influenced by the same art design: Soft, undifferentiated limbs, sewn-on button eyes, and very limited, embroidered facial features. The only significant other details is that one of them has a pair of small white, angelic wings to match her white dress and the white bow in its blue hair. The other is blond-haired and wears clothing stereotypical of a witch. Once you remove the dolls from the safe and Mary puts her lock-picking equipment back in her pockets, Mary removes the final item. A radio? Mary presses the power button but nothing happens. “The batteries are certainly dead.” Two hundred years. “That's weird. You'd think everyone they'd have expected to find this would be wearing a Pip-Boy.” “Are there even batteries in it?” Mary asks, removing the back panel of the device: No, but there is a piece of yellow paper. “A note?” “Hey!” Mary yells when the note yanked out of her hand without warning by Renko, then pouts. “'3950 ㎑'? Does the dial on the radio even tune that low?” “Er...” Mary fumbles the device around to read the analog face. “No. It doesn't.” She frowns. “FM only.” “Is that all it says?” You ask Ren. She nods. “The radio isn't meant to be used; it's part of a message. Pip-Boys would be capable of tuning to the frequency scrawled on this.”
“Wait. Shouldn't we have gotten some kind of indication when we entered broadcast range?” Dai speaks up: “The Pip-Boy radio's passive scanning doesn't habitually go down frequencies that low, since these frequencies are used for short-distance communication or ham radio. I'll play it.”
[ (♪) Beacon Oscar Zulu has been added to your to your playlist. ]
It's garbled up pretty bad: “If anyo... ca... hear t... this is M... Margatr... My sist... Yuki and... tak... ref... in … drain... chamb... not t... far from ... radio relay ... on ... ...kirts ... Mag... For.... My s...er ... ...rt v... bad... she ...eeds med... att...tion. Pl...e h... if ... can, or ... p...ible ...lay ...s ...sage to Ali... M...atroid ... Vault ... ...e are list... for ...r respo... ...ifty kiloh...z.”
Then after a minute, the same unintelligible, static-y message. “Okay. This is... something,” Renko sums. “'Radio relay' is probably 'radio relay tower'.” “I think I heard 'Margatroid'. 'Vault' too.” “And something about a 'drainage' something?” “Right.” “Can we find the source?” Mary is asking either of you. You have no idea, so you look to Ren. “Magic Forest is kind of big, isn't it?” Ren sounds unsure. Dai answers this one. “Once upon a time, maybe, but it was really more of a park than a forest by the time of the War. From the satellite maps it's only a few miles in any direction. I can attempt to triangulate the broadcast, but that's kind of difficult if we're only picking it up in one location, unless we cover a substantial amount of the forest.” “Well, we're burning daylight,” Renko starts walking toward the door. “Wait, you're just going to leave your stuff here?” Mary asks. Ren jerks a thumb at the fairy corpses you so neatly stacked outside in the mud. “Somehow,” she answers sardonically, “I don't think anyone is going to try to loot our stuff.” Mary rushes out after her after grabbing her helmet, her geta almost tripping on the door frame and jutte clattering at her waist. More than her near spill, it's the morbid sight Renko was referring too that causes her to slow down. She latches onto at your arm when you catch up, so you don't feel too bad about it. However. “Ren, do you have any idea where you're going?” The afternoon sky is still cloudy, and despite the lack of tree canopy, visibility is still not great with black tree trunks in every direction. “Yeah!” She calls back. “Keep an eye out for that 'radio relay tower'. More importantly, it said something about a drainage chamber.” “So? All I see is a lot of burnt trees.” “Just follow me,” she waits for both of you with a smile, eager to be on the move again. “How do you know where it is? You're not even looking at the map on your Pip-Boy.” “Maxey, come on. Look around you!” She starts trekking on again. “What?” “We're moving downhill.” Oh. Drainage ditch. Right.
File 127456418091.jpg - (1.59MB, 1200x900 , Mary Ren trudging.jpg) [iqdb]
“This is the Village Voice and I am Akyuju-no-Hieda. The 2276 Gensokyo Census I am pleased to report has been compiled, being only... eleven months past due. Some choice bits: The major cause of mortality in villagers is still cancer, accounting for 70% of the number of deaths in the 50th year of life, and nearly 100% of those who reach the age of 60. The major cause of mortality in young & middle aged adults between ages of 18–40 is violent crime & mauling by ferals, mutant animals, and youkai, accounting for almost 80% of deaths in this age category. The major cause of death in infants & children is infectious disease at 47%, with malnourishment trailing at a close 35%. The average human lifespan in the Village is 52 years of age for males and 55 years of age for females. The average human lifespan in the greater Wastes is still a dismal 31 years of age, for both males and females. The data collected from metahumans was insufficient to extrapolate to metahumans at large, but with the promised information the 10% Nation of Gods & Earths have pooled to add to the statistics... we may be able to compile that information in a year or three. The report is admittedly a bit light, but they were threatening to cut off my rice allotment so... I had to pad it out a little. Here's another interesting factoid: A person who I am good friends with—who I will only refer to as K. K. for reasons of confidentiality—is still un-happily single. What's more, she has maintained this for a personal record stretch of 26 years. Wow. This song is dedicated to her... silly hat.”
“I'm still not entirely convinced you know where you're going, Ren.” “Maxey, how do you think they can play an endlessly recording message? 1 ㎾ per hour going by the 'effective radiated power' estimated by my Pip-Boy is no meager amount of energy.” “So we should be looking for what?” “Well, it has to be a place supplied with power, so we'd be looking for a radio relay tower and either a power station or some place with a generator.” “Any way of telling when we might be getting near it?” “You'll probably start seeing telegraph posts.” “But it's a radio, not a telegraph, Renko.” Mary likes to feigns ignorance to piss Ren off. But who can blame her when Ren being all blustery is so cute. “A wooden post in the shape of a T!” “Right, so, electrical power," you intervene, "But shouldn't all the lines be dead?” Mary's ribbing is quickly forgotten now that you've given Renko an excuse to talk history: “Well, leading up to the War, power plants and other important infrastructures became increasingly automated and hardened against attack. The failure of electric power and other public utilities like it, such as water, telephone communications, and satellite communications were deemed far too great a vulnerability, one that might result in loss of second strike capability in the advent of a surprise attack. Submarines in the Arctic Sea could launch intercontinental ballistic missiles, but when the Soviet cold war turned into a Lunar cold war, they afforded no insurance when interplanetary ballistic missiles were needed....” ICBM? Meet your bigger, not-blood-related sister, IPBM. “...Such infrastructure was moved away from the populations centers and the missile silos, and importantly, secondary AI-controlled systems were designed to kick in when above ground communications & utilities were lost.” “'Above ground'? So you mean there are or were 'generator' Vaults?” “Not exactly. Buried but probably not in an extra-dimensional pocket.” “How do they work if they're buried below ground?” “Not as efficiently. The fiber optic wave-guide was already buried, but running electricity through the same pipe results in destructive interference. In such a case, power will be transmitted preferably, since it can power the same above ground communications equipment as we're looking for now; these radio stations, many using a lot of transmission power, are almost certainly connected to the grid, or possibly they run off fission generators, which themselves might be connected to the grid....”
Not having anything else to do, you check the beacon again while Ren is busy talking: “If anyo... can ...ar this, th... ... Mai Margatro... My ...ister Yuki a... I ...ave ...en ...uge ... a drainage chamber n... too f... from ... radio relay to... on the ...skirts ... Magic Forest. My ...ter is ...t very ba... she ...eeds ...ical att.... Please h... if you ... or if poss... ...lay this mess... to ...ce Mar...roid ... Vault ⑩. We ... listen... for ...r respon... thir... fifty kilohertz.”
That's a bit better, so at least you're not getting farther away from it. “...That's another thing.” That's the kind of operative phrase you need be listening out for. “What is, Ren?” You feed back. “Big tax & utility fee incentives for people who put solar panels on their roofs, and communities to dam their river-reservoirs, good example of which is the waterfall of the Mountain of Faith, and for states to turn their prairies into a wind farms, and finally for businesses large enough to run their own nuclear generators while connecting them to the grid. Some of these generators would be able run for hundreds of years before using up their fuel. Some of them probably have. Some might run forever. Besides nuclear fuel becoming ubiquitous once the UN really 'united' the Earth in resource and weapons development, leading to the trade and utilization of huge veins of Uranium-rich ore found in Russia....” Solar panels wouldn't be able to supply much power through the effects of nuclear winter, but now, when the sun's intensity makes everything look whitewashed and bleary—even if it's October. If they weren't providing power then, they'd be providing power now. Probably doesn't hurt that there's very few people that are going to be able to use it. “...Are you even paying attention, Max?” Ren is giving you a look. “Enough with the stink eye.” No good, she'll think you're making fun of her tendency to make colorful allusions. “I really am. More than it looks like. I was thinking about how things were even more useless right after the War than they are now. Reclamation and stuff.” That works; you're humanitarian. “But, like, if the bombs hit, how would people know to turn the secondary systems on?” “Like I said,” she huffs, “Utilities became automated, and for people who hadn't died immediately from the blast, the 'walking ghost' phase of radiation sickness would probably see them turn on these generators & secondary systems in the hopes they could restore their livelihoods, when the fact is they were already dead.” 'Walking ghost' phase of radiation sickness, huh? Hope Ren can spot that because you sure as hell can't, unless it involves your skin turning transparent. “What about satellites? They can't put those underground.” Mary is absolutely right: They can't put satellites underground. “They kept the missiles underground until they decided mutually assured destruction was the better part of valor, so they could put satellite-bearing rockets underground until they were needed too. All that you'd need is electricity, a working blast door, and a hydraulic elevator.” The more you hear about your government, the more confounding the present state of the world seems. They build shelters for you, they educate you, they take care of you, they give you food and clean water. However, they also kill you, sometimes one person at a time, sometimes billions of persons at a time. Of course, you don't know about the rest of the world, but the lack of transmissions from either mainland U.S. or even mainland Asia is pretty damning, which was much more densely populated, if your Vault education was worth anything. That Enclave WVOA station is broadcasting, and you've listened to some of it, but the impression you got from others is that it's on an endlessly repeating loop.
“...She was listed in the city directory as 'Melissa Cartwright', in keeping with her desire for pseudonymity in later years, along with the expression of Western blood in her features, fair skin, and blond hair. She went everywhere costumed and lunched and drank tea with Gensokyo's shopkeepers and merchants, referring to herself as a simple 'hedge mage', someone who dabbled in the arcane and the occult, but retained the common touch. She had two incompletely healed claw marks on her chest due to a near-death experience with a youkai in her youth, and another scar on the small of her back, where she had once been stabbed. She lost the nub of her right earlobe during the War and was very cautious lest the mutilation be seen, always covering it with a single, large plait of her flaxen hair. She had a condition that was referred to as 'mage's lens', acquired after too many years of exposure to magical radiation; it caused her once blue eyes to turn red and finally they would glow with a golden yellow, as if the noon sun were reflected in them at all hours of the day. Rooms became warmer when she was in them. Rains fell straighter. Clocks slowed. Stars twinkled, it seemed, just for her. “Despite playing a key role in the Terrestrial offensive during the Battle for Tranquility, which would see a multinational force wage war effectively against the Lunarian Menace for the first time, she had always considered herself a Gensokyo loyalist—a guerrilla fighting a civil war that never really began. She always carried her weapon, a mini-hakkero, on her person, and she regretted neither her countless robberies, nor the fourteen slayings that she had laid claim to. She had seen another autumn in Gensokyo, Japan, and on Sunday, September 27th in the year 2026, she was 38 years old. “The county coroner, Dr. Yagokoro, determined the cause of death was accidental by way of drowning, pointing to the fluid in her lungs and her prone posture in the massive vat of magical elixir of her own make, ironically labeled 'Youth Potion'. According to Dr. Yagokoro, by the time she was found, she had been in there so long that she had regressed to a fetal state, leaving the corpse unrecognizable such that DNA analysis was required to identify her definitively. She was survived neither by her husband, who died before the War of mushroom poisoning, nor by any children, her years of relentless magical experimentation long having rendered her infertile. “Her manner of exit from this world was a synecdoche of the life that she had lived within it: A little weird. A little funny. A little unbelievable. I suppose that's just the way things go in Gensokyo. This girl was brought up in a time of blood and magical warfare, and she never questioned a bit of it. She never turned her back on her friends or her kind. I rode with her, and I have no complaints.”
The music continues, but you fear that this other shrine maiden—even if she is the governor—might be dangerous to leave Mary around. Not just because conflict could be bad, but because agreement might be equally disastrous; you heard the warnings on the other radio stations about Wasteland factions using you as a tool or weapon against other factions. So you'll switch back to the soothing tunes of the Village radio, confident that if your group is brought up again, you'd like to be associated with less hyperbole & vitriol than on GNR and less jingoism than on Enclave radio. KVV➄ is a good middle ground.
“So, Melissa Kirisame...” “Marisa Kirisame,” Corrects Daiyousei. “There's no doubt in my mind as to which Romanization she'd prefer.” Well, whatever. “She fought at Tranquility, right? It's the same person as in the text books, right?” “Yes, Max,” Ren informs you tiredly. “The reality is probably closer to that funeral oration than what you'd find in a text book.” Dai seems to possess privileged information. “Was that really read at her funeral. Dai?” You ask. “I don't know.” She sounds a little flustered. Which is to say, her voice becomes grainy and the display reads with artifacts. “Even for someone like her, fairies just don't do funerals.” Yagokoro too is a familiar name, the Genius of the Moon, though with a huge number of labeled products bearing her label, you think it odd she'd be working in as the 'county coroner', but seeing the relative disparity between Gensokyo and the rest of the world in many social service positions (e.g., miko), it sort of makes sense. The strongest population requires the strongest doctors. Or something. What your text books did tell you about Marisa Kirisame is... not very much. General Kirisame was the one who won Earth the first (human) Terrestrial-Lunar War at Tranquility Base in 2024? 2025? Anyway it seems to have been on a short time before her death. But that does make a little sense. Alexander the Great died due to complications of conquering. (Maybe.) The death of the Great Khan also stopped the Mongols from invading Western Europe. (Probably.) Now the broadcast, if these are re-runs, they must have some reason for using ones so old. Maybe since anti-Lunarian rhetoric peaked in the Battle for Tranquility? Or was it during the Second Battle for Tranquility. RECORDING DATA DOES NOT MATCH EARLY TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY STANDARDS. How so? THE BROADCASTS WERE STILL MADE IN JAPANESE. Oh? You having proven yourself marginally useful, Novgorod. LISTENING TO YOUR INTERNAL MONOLOGUE IS MUCH LIKE SEEING A NEANDERTHAL ATTEMPT TO FASTEN A HATCHET USING A ROCK, A STICK, AND BITS OF HIS OWN HAIR. These are very, very thin margins. “This doesn't tell me anything, really.” You voice your concerns aloud for the members of your party which don't communicate by Vulcan mind-meld. “Either the recording was translated and read by a different person at a later date, or Reimu Hakurei is very, very old.” “It's definitely the voice of Reimu Hakurei.” “Are you sure, Dai? Not just someone closely related?” Mary being the Devil's advocate here. This is exactly what you were afraid of. You should never have brought this up around Mary. From what you heard on radio, these other Wasteland shrine maidens—the three of them—might be dangerous for her to meet. “I don't have any actual samples on hand to compare it to, but I remember the sound of her voice. She uses 'Atlantic' English to cover up her Japanese accent. Despite the fact that she fixed up a lot of Gensokyo's problems, she never was very good at fixing her own.” You don't know what this means, so you clear your throat and seek verification, “'Reimu Hakurei' was not a name passed down over the generations?” “No. Details get sketchy on her after the First Battle for Tranquility. She was in an elite special strike team that penetrated deep into enemy lines and practiced search & destroy maneuvers, while Kirisame was in the USSMC regular.” “Maybe we can check out the War Memorial when we wrap up this?” “With an oni residing there, you'd have a better chance of securing free room & board from Mystia. Which is still less than 0%.” Sounds like '100%' to you! “We won't need room & board there, since we're going to be sleeping in a Vault tonight!” Mary turns about an gives Ren and you a suggestive leer. It's a wonder she doesn't trip over a rock or Christopher walk into a tree trunk. “Let's hope it's that easy Mary.” You'll be more comfortable with Mary wearing her yamabushi costume when you've gotten a handle and a location on these three other personalities. When she turns back around you make for Renko. “Hey?” “Why are you whispering?” “This Reimu Hakurei person might be particularly dangerous for Mary.” ”Oh. I know. Dai told me this morning.” You can't say you exactly like how Dai disseminates information without telling you who else is already in the know. ”Does she know?” ”Of course not. You know the easiest way to get Mary to do something is to tell her not to do it.” That... may be so. Or it just might be how Mary treats Ren's advice in particular. ”Okay, but I think we should reconsider her appearance in light of this.” THAT WON'T WORK. What? Why? THE PEOPLE ON THE RADIO HAVE ALREADY PEGGED HER AS A SHRINE MAIDEN. EVEN IF SHE WEREN'T BEFORE, SHE IS NOW IN THE EYES OF THE NEWSMEN AND THEIR LISTENERS. Shit.
The trees are thinning, and there's a clearing up ahead. And like Renko promised, telegraph posts. “Telegram posts!” Mary's half right, so Renko is left looking half-vindicated. “Com' on,” Ren holds the unlit cigarette in her mouth so she can light it with a match. “We'll check there.” She motions toward a derelict transformer substation. The surrounding fence is all but entirely collapsed. “I don't think we should get so close.” Mary's right. “Ren, at your feet.” The rusted signs on the fencing under Ren's boot heels says '(⚠) DANGER!' and '(⚡) HIGH VOLTAGE!' “Oh...” She deflates somewhat. And then gets a whole lot snarkier. “And here I was hoping to play hopscotch with the power lines. Are they even live?” There are dozen of lines snaking from and to the station, and half are down. There is no sparking, but there's no obvious shelter or buildings, and the road is a good quarter-mile of blasted tree trunks and scramble away, lined with what must have been zoned as 'light industrial' and is now completely rubble. There is some steel structure that might once have been a radio relay tower, but it's sheared rather sharply in half, so that even if there was power, it could not be the source of the transmission. “Yeah,” Mary nods, pointing at her ear. “Hear it?” “What? The radio?” "No." Mary's right. There is a very faint hum. The generators are working. “That radio tower, if that's what it is, is completely destroyed,” Ren stares off in some disbelief. “Some nice scenery though! Aren't you glad we traded that plastic zoo in for this brickwork jungle, Mary?” “Actually, you guys are standing in the signal epicenter.” Dai. “It doesn't get stronger in any direction.”
Mary tunes back to Beacon Oscar Zulu: “If anyone can ...ear this, th... is Mai Margatroid. My ...ister Yuki and I ...ave taken refuge ... a drainage chamber not too f... from a radio relay tower on the outskirts ... Magic Forest. My sister is hurt very ba... she needs ...ical attention. Please help, if you ... or if possible ...lay this mess... to Alice Margatroid ...n Vault ⑩. We are listen... for ... respon... thirty-nine fifty kilohertz.”
“That's pretty good.” So without anywhere else to look, you look down. “It's not being broadcast by the tower; it's coming from underground?” There's too many lines on the ground to find it immediately. Mary spots it pretty quick, though. “Ah-ha!” A grated manhole cover, underneath the fencing. There's still a small rivulet of runoff feeding into it. “Uh, help me?” Luckily the fence was rusted to the point of becoming brittle, and as you and Ren attempt to push a section away, the links snap. As expected, when you're get a closer look at the manhole, shielded transmission cables run in under the cover. “All right, huff!” It's a bit cute seeing Mary exert herself to no avail in attempting to lift the thing. “Mary, Mary, woah. First off, hand that baton over.” “Uh, sure.” She unhooks it from her waist and hands it over, not knowing why she asked for it. Now Ren is strong, and definitely stronger than either you or Mary. But she didn't earn the title 'Best (only) Butcher in Vault ⑨' with brawn alone. No, she has mastered application of mechanical advantage. Whether it be using a sharp metal wedge to hamstring someone, or using a larger metal lever to pry off a manhole cover. “Errg...Ah! There!” The manhole cover thuds onto the already cracked concrete. “See? No big whoop.” There's metal rungs running down one side of the concrete tunnel. You can't see the bottom. “It looks pretty dark down there.” “I have a light.” That unused flare from before. You pull the cap off of it and immediately drop it when it ignites in your hand. You meant to do that? Well it does the job. The tunnel only extends ten or twelve feet down, with a grate at the bottom to catch the water, and an alcove or a portal heading off to one side. Any surprise on anything that might lurk below is had is out now. So Mary yells down the shaft: “Hello—!” There is only a short echo. You shrug at each other.
After a short game of odds and evens, which sees you losing to Ren to Mary, you prepare to descend. In spite of the flare, which is likely to go out at the worst possible moment, it's dark enough to warrant conjuring up a few wisps worth of ignis fatuus around you & turning on your Pip-Boy light before you start your descent.
No loss on the signal now, as it plays on Mary's Pip-Boy radio: “If anyone can hear this, this is Mai Margatroid. My sister Yuki and I have taken refuge in a drainage chamber not too far from a radio relay tower on the outskirts of Magic Forest. My sister is hurt very badly, she needs medical attention. Please help if you can, or at least relay this message to Alice Margatroid in Vault ⑩. We are listening for your response. 3950 kilohertz.”
The twirling lights are enough to see your handholds, rungs of knurled construction steel punched into the concrete. The water trickles down the side of the hole. Novgorod. YES MAGGOT? ...What is that? I WAS TRYING TO TAKE IT IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION. You just continue descending. WAS IT TOO MUCH? I'll say. Try less IG-88 and more buddy cop. LET ME START OVER: I'M GETTIN' TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT. Anything alive down there? NOTHING ON THE PIP-BOY MOTION TRACKER OR P.A.D.S. IMAGING. 'P.A.D.S. imaging' is what exactly? SITUATIONAL. VISIBLE SPECTRA AND MAGICAL IMAGING IS INDIRECTLY GLEANED BY READINGS OFF YOUR VISUAL PROCESSING CENTERS. I ALSO HAVE A SENSOR SUITE THAT CAN PROVIDE SONOGRAPHY & INFRARED. LASERS ARE USED FOR TRACKING DISTANCE. So as to give an example of its capabilities, Novgorod starts feeding you HUD information, as Renko starts to clamber down after you. “Let's see if this thing works,” She taps on the angle-head flashlight clipped to her belt, throwing her poncho over one shoulder to reveal it, right next to her Mateba holster. You of course are busy looking up her skirt. The chaps are like garters—they only add to the appeal. According to the display, her undergarments are 0.9 meters away, and with the low-light enhancement you can tell they have a lacy texture without actually needing to shine a light up there. Impressive. ISN'T IT? Your foot slips off a rung, leaving you only supported by your hands. “Ah!” “Are you alright, Maxey?” “Yeah. I deserve it.” It's not a long way down, but you could have busted your head on the iron rungs or the concrete confines. This is a storm drain; you should have suspected the metal would be wet from last night. Display off. And the distraction goes away. “Slow down, though, Ren; I'm not interested in seeing what kind of haircut your spurs might give me.” After a few more rungs, your feet touch down on solid ground— Plunk. The flare goes out. That was the sound if it falling into the water, after rolling in between the bars of the grate, which is actually less solid than you hoped. There are rotted planks atop the grate making a sort of gangway into the side portal, which does indeed lead into a room of sorts, a few steps higher than the grate, probably to prevent it from flooding. “Watch your step,” you warn the girls. It smells stale, and there are plenty of cobwebs.
Cobwebs, but no spiders. Aside from the gigantic mutant 'rad-' kind, invertebrates have no special immunity to radiation, and in fact are in many ways more susceptible to it, having to breathe through their skin, lacking a social support web (that's a pun), and generally bereft of protective clothing or as wide a range of diet. Humans can eat stockpiled, preserved food that is hundreds of years old, but with the vegetation in short supply, and as a result the vegetation-eaters being in short supply, spiders wouldn't be expected to have survived the mass extinctions that claimed so many other species. Unless they were really awesome, can-opening spiders. Anyway. “Oh is there a room back there?” Mary asks. Behind Ren, she's probably not able to see much due to the cramped conditions and low ceiling. It's really more of an artificial grotto than a room. The only 'natural' illumination is the dismal light that the open manhole allows in, some kind of phosphorescent lichen growing on the wall. Power cables run under your feet into the room, so you search for the light switch, but nothing happens when you flick it on-off: The unshielded utility lighting suspended from the ceiling has long since burnt-out. The largest feature is some kind of machine in a cut-away on the left side of the grotto, large enough that it might be the reason this little shelter was built. It features unlit lights, buttons, dials, with large pipes & shielded tubing running in to it from the wall and floor—might be some kind of waste treatment machine or a water pump. It makes no sound and doesn't seem to be functioning. The high powered angle-head flashlight joins the light of your Pip-Boy, spotting the ham radio equipment sitting atop a cheap looking, metal folding table. The power cables run into room on the floor, and the radio equipment is still functioning, as you can see little arms indicating the gain still waving back and forth under the beam of Ren's flashlight. Behind it, built into the far wall is some electrical equipment and a utility meter. On the right is a large gray utility cabinet that extends from the floor to the ceiling. Piled in front of it are dozens of empty containers & formerly vacuum-sealed bags of imperishable foods. There's boxes of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs, Twinkie wrappers, CalorieMate foil, and tin cans, some rusted and some labeled Instant Bovril, all empty. Water is the only consumable that there seems to be much of in any supply—big plastic jugs full of it, probably collected from the runoff. Something gives way under your foot. “If anyone can hear this, this is Mai Margatroid. My sister Yuki and I have taken refuge in a drainage chamber not too far from a radio relay tower on the outskirts of Magic Forest. My sister is hurt very badly, she needs medical attention. Please help if you can, or at least relay this message to Alice Mar—”
[ (♪) Beacon Oscar Zulu signal has been lost. ]
“Hey, it just cut ou—oh.” Mary joins you and Renko in moribund silence. They lie there on the single mattress, which was probably carried here from Alice's restaurant. There's no evidence this crypt—which is what it is really—was ever touched by another hand since this radio beacon was activated. “Two-hundred years and not a single person heard you?” I TOLD YOU EVERYTHING WAS DEAD. “They still have hair.” Mary sounds horrified. “Yeah.” “And threadbare clothes.” “Yep.” Mary tosses the dolls she retrieved from the safe earlier onto the mattress. The clothes match, and if that wasn't damning enough, one set of bones has a pair of wings, and they both have Pip-Boys. The Pip-Boys can be taken as evidence, along with, possibly, voice recordings on them. You really don't want to touch them though. “Did they die in a blast?” Mary asks. “No. Of course not.” The radio equipment is undamaged, so this was either hard enough shelter to protect it from the EMP bursts, or more likely, given the timeline you heard from the audio logs back at Alice's Restaurant, it was set up afterward. Ren crouches near the skeletons, using her switchblade to move bones around and examine them more completely.
You kick aside the trash across from the mattress to access the gray metal utility cabinet. There's a latch, but the chain litters the floor with the padlock still attached. The links were snapped in two? There's no tool or weapon to indicate it, though. The contents of the cabinet quell all doubts that there may have been someone who ransacked the place: Inside is many of the goods you made sure to stock yourselves with before leaving the Vault, like antibiotics, iodine tablets, candles, bandages, disinfectant, along with some commercial cleaning supplies. Nothing you need, but plenty worth looting if you were anyone else. Mary just stands in the portal, the light of her Pip-Boy follows her eyes in scanning the room. “No foul play was involved that I can tell.” Ren surmises. “There's a hairline fracture in the skull of the one without the wings." That must be Yuki. "However, it doesn't look like enough to outright kill her, especially not if they were demons. There's no bullet wounds or major fractures anywhere else. You find anything in the cabinet, Max?” “Yeah. Penicillin. Medical supplies. No food. No useful chems or painkillers. No weapons or ammunition. One of them was strong enough to break the metal chain on the door handle.” “That suggests against disease or suicide. No 'Quietus' right?” “Er...” You search through the few boxes in the cabinet quickly again. “No. Like they said on the voice journal.” Ren stands up, sighing. You're surprised to see Mary move to the sides of the skeletons—doubtless the result of making some internal resolve—and begin chanting a mantra. She might avoid conflict with you and (maybe) some other human beings, but ultimately, she is a brave soul. She takes out two sealing amulets from one of her many pockets. “Mary, what are you doing? You think their ghosts are still hanging around or something?” Renko's voice betrays her fear at the thought. She doesn't like ghosts. “No,” Mary answers simply. Ren's flashlight is pretty good at illuminating the floor and walls, but not so much a piece of paper angled away from it. You shine your own Pip-Boy flashlight on it. '病死' they both read the same. You didn't expect to be able to read it, but it gives you an opportunity to get Mary to explain its meaning without receiving a callow retort from Ren on your poor knowledge in natural languages. “What does that mean, Mary?” You ask when there's a natural break in her chanting. “It says 'byoushi'; it means 'peaceful death'.” She places one on each first skeleton on the forehead of their skulls, seeing as they're lying supine. “Eh? I thought you said their souls don't need banish—“ “Ren shut up and let me finish my mantras.” Ren just scratches her nose and turns away to look at the pile of stacked refuse and debris, then occupies herself with rummaging through the cabinet you just went through.
The youthful, feminine voice of Akyuju-no-Hieda appears on the Pip-Boy radio again: “This is 91.5 KVV5 FM the Village Voice, your island of tranquility amongst all this blood & thunder. This next song is dedicated to the drunks of Dead Magic Forest of Mystia's Bar & Grill, for their exceptional work ethic. They drink so many glasses of work a day, as provided by the funds out of our community chest, I think they deserve at least a little recognition.”
Mary curses Ren for taking most of the light with her, but your own flashlight provides some illumination, and the seals begin to glow with their own light in the dark as Mary's chanting rises in intensity. "—灰燼に帰す!"
[ (۩) Mary prayed with her whole heart! ]
The skeletons are ignited in a white flame and quickly reduced to ashes, along with their clothing. “Woah!” Ren is surprised by Mary's divine power. Guess she didn't cremate a lot of corpses back in the Vault. Spared was their Pip-Boys and the dolls. Mary reaches into the pile to collect the items. “I don't know if that will make up the last 200 years, but it certainly makes me feel a lot better about taking your stuff with—“ Tik-tik-tik-tik-tik! Renko grabs Mary's hand away from the pile. This upsets Mary, and she lashes out with a slap. “Keep your hands off me Usami!” A week ago, that probably wouldn't have phased Renko, but here she is dumbstruck and maybe a little shamed. “I-I-I...“ Before Renko can put out any words in her own defense, a reproach comes from Dai herself. “Mary.” You're not sure you've ever heard Dai speak to Mary in any way that could be considered commanding, which is actually pretty weird now that you think of it, considering Dai is supposed to be her patron goddess; it seemed a partnership so perfect that communication was not actually necessary. “You grazed a mound of radioactive ash. Renko was trying to prevent you from hurting yourself.”
[ (☢) Mary has gained +5 ㎭! ]
Well, this makes you feel bad for all involved, but also confused. “Wait, how did you know it's radioactive, Ren? I mean, I heard the dosimeter, but it was just char that Mary had 'purified' right?” “Um...” Renko has to light up another cigarette to replace the one Mary slapped out of her mouth, but this gives her time to compose her reply. “I don't know if you could notice it when you came in the room, but... turn off your flashlights.” Mary and you turns off your Pip-Boy flashlights, Renko the high-intensity one clipped to her belt, you will away the wisps. The only light is the embers of Renko's cigarette, which dimly illuminates her features, the cave fungus, and as you notice now, the pile of ashes. “Those ashes are the remains of the skeletons of Mai and Yuki Margatroid. They may be charred, pulverized, or destroyed magically on a molecular level even, but the elements in the them—and I mean chemical elements here—are unchanged. The three most major long-term environmental contaminants of nuclear fallout is strontium-90, radioiodine, and caesium-134 & -137. I won't bore you with explaining their decay chain, half-lives, or absolute toxicity, but you know that these three are by and large the biggest radioactive dangers in the Wasteland, barring obvious hazards like nuclear waste dumps & undetonated ordinance, solar radiation in the form of UVC spectrum light, and indirect effects of radiation like the mutated animals. Now,” Ren turns her Pip-Boy flashlight on and starts looking in the utility cabinet again, “If you'll allow me to go a little more in detail I'll be able to explain what the major sources of these three radioisotopes, how you can avoid them, get them out of you before they kill you, and maybe shine a little bit of light on the fate of our two late—very late, 200 years late—uh, friends here. Uh, let me see here...” When she gets rolling into explanation mode, it's hard to get that ball to stop. At least, you can be very, very certain she knows what's she's talking about. Even if her explanations are spotty, rambling, and otherwise unhelpful. “When did you become an expert in radiological medicine?” “Well, I—oh wait, you're making fun of me for that jukebox thing. Okay, you got me. I'm not.” Renko raises her hands in an exaggerated expression of surrender. “Just like I'm not an electrical engineer, nor am I pursuing a degree in super unified physics or comparative psychology. But I know a hell of a lot more about all them than you.” As if she'd ever let you forget. “Alright, get on with it: Stongium, cesarium, and radial-ionide.” Now Mary is making fun of her. Probably.
>A person who I am good friends with—who I will only refer to as K. K. for reasons of confidentiality That's not very confidential. >is still un-happily single. What's more, she has maintained this for a personal record stretch of 26 years Isn't it sad, Keine? ;_;
>[ (☢) Mary has gained +2 ㎭ ] >[ (☢) Mary has gained +5 ㎭! ] Dammit Mary, if this keeps up, we're going to have to use that Rad-X we found on you.
“Look, it's pretty simple: They're all bad for you! Strontium gets deposited in your bones and stays there a long time because of its biochemical similarity to calcium. Strontium is found in the food chain from plants on up, as plants will absorb it through to roots, and it will stay in an organism for years. The specific antidote is aluminum hydroxide which will inhibit GI absorption, usually found as an antacid.” Renko holds up a glass bottle and shines her light on it: The label reads ANTACID—HYDRATED ALUMINA. Then she puts it back into the cabinet. “Caesium, both Cs-134 & Cs-137, is water soluble, so ingestion of contaminated drinking water is the chief form of exposure. It takes the place of potassium in the body as an electrolyte, generally in the blood and in muscle tissue. Unlike the strontium it leaves the body within months instead of years, but it can still contaminate food. Specific antidote is Prussian blue, which is a pigment and a chelating agent that binds to free caesium in the blood. You'll usually find it as concentrated laundry dye.” When Renko turns around this time, she hands you a curiously small, solid block wrapped in paper, labeled LAUNDRY BLUING. You pass it on to Mary who turns on her own flashlight to look at it. “Finally, there is radioiodine. Technically what we normally call 'radioiodine' is I-131, but I-131 only has a half-life of only a few days; most of the radioactive iodine you'd encounter is I-129, which has an extremely long half-life. Iodides form salts and are even more water soluble than caesium compounds, but iodine itself is heavy, so you're more likely to find it in high concentrations in the oceans and standing bodies of water than in rainwater. Most radioiodine accumulates in the thyroid gland, which it can either destroy or turn cancerous. Luckily the life of radioiodine in the body is shorter than the other two elements, in weeks, so you're less likely to find it in appreciate amounts in the food-chain, and the specific antidote is readily available: Regular iodine will prevent radioiodine from accumulating in the thyroid. Potassium iodide is the preferred form, but...” Renko turns around with another glass bottle, smaller than the other, and exchanges it for the block of dye in Mary's hand. WATER DECONTAMINATION—IODINE TABLETS. “'Tetraglycine hydroperiodide' and the other forms used to decontaminate drinking water will do in a pinch and are likely to be more commonly available. So... are we ready?” You'll bite. “Ready to what, Ren?” “Ready to get de-irradiated!” What? Ren crouches down on the floor with the block of dye, the iodine tablets, and the bottle of antacids, stabbing the butt of her cigarette in the concrete floor, and setting the angle-head flashlight on its side to illuminate what she is doing. You and Mary join her on the floor. “Glad I brought my canteen with me.” She takes the water flask at her waist and unscrews the cap, then sets it down on the floor and begins carefully unwrapping the dye, revealing a very deep blue block. She slices off an extremely thin sliver of the dye with her switchblade, before sticking the blade in the water canteen. After wiping the dye and water off the blade on her suede chaps, she puts it away, then unscrews the top of the bottle of iodine tablets. She empties a handful of them into her hand, drops one in the canteen with a 'plok' and returns the rest back to the bottle and screws the cap back on. She tightly caps the canteen and shakes the bottle vigorously for a moment. “Okay.” She uncaps the bottle and takes a long swig from it. The expression on her face before she manages to swallow it is exquisite. “Ahahahahaha! You—you made that big speech, and then that face! Oh gods! Ahahahaha!” Mary laughter doesn't stop when Renko hands her the bottle. Until Ren snatches the gohei away from her. “Hey!” “Purification spells are forbidden!” Mary pouts at having her plan to escape the same fate as Ren blown. But she is a trooper. “Heh. How's that taste?” Mary coughs as it goes down. "Ugh. Like a rusty nail. Wait, that gives me an idea." She hands you the canteen and then takes out & pops open a soda can from an outside pouch of her armor. You hold your nose and close your eyes. The taste? 'Rusty nail' is pretty good (assuming she didn't mean the cocktail), though you'd throw in some soap. It's not very surprising to you, so you snatch the soda from Mary's hand to chase it. What is surprising is that soda(?) you glug from the can burns your throat so bad you do a spit-take. “ACK PTH—“ “Hey! Don't waste it!” It's Ren's turn to laugh hysterically. Coughing, “Mary, what the fuck was that!” “Absolut Nuka,” she admits sullenly, taking the can back from you. “It tastes like a heartburn.” “Well take an antacid, Maxey. We have plenty.” Oh, right. Part of the point of this exercise.
Tuesday, October 23, 2277 (⌚) 2:37 PM JST
"The legacy of weapons that put extreme lethality in the hands of a single soldier or fireteam, such as the M-29 Davy Crockett recoilless gun and later the more portable MIMI-Chan nuclear catapult, had been in doubt for quite some time, as though the latter was used with modest successes in engagements against Lunarian surface forces following the Occupation of Europe, military research since has generally favored the development of high-powered combat armor rather than individual- and squad-scale weapon systems. This focus has changed rapidly, following the experiences of the U.N. Expeditionary Force in the Battle for Tranquility. Despite the wide issue of the Mk I Power Armor to the United States Space Marine Corps, the heavy employment of antimatter-based rifles on the part of the Lunarians proved that relatively unarmored Lunar rabbits could readily defeat our modern, powered combat armor. Of equal importance was the part of a singular magical attack of the late Gen. Kirisame in breaking through the Lunarian lines, eventually leading to the rout of the numerically superior Lunarian infantry. The weapon being developed by our crack team of kappa scientists, the 'Spellcard-Powered Artificial and Magical Micro-Elemental Reactor'—or 'SPAMMER' for short—is the first perfect blending of modern military nuclear technology with traditional magical arts that sees the return of the 'means to win' back into the hand of the individual." —Rikako Asakura, 2031 Lightweight Small Arms Technologies Conference, keynote address
(☢) Max, Mary & Renko have acquired a Quest Perk: 'Raducational Study'!
Raducational Study Requirement: Special Training Benefit: You have gained a better understanding of radiological threats, along with some rather eccentric ideas on how to combat them. When in possession of LAUNDRY DYE, IODINE TABLETS, and ANTACID, you can detoxify yourself of radiation at a constant rate of 10 ㎭ a day. The effectiveness of Rad-Away & Rad-X is unchanged.
Pip-Fairy ⑨000 [ ] Status [ ] Inventory [ ] Notes [ ] Quests [ ] Radio – [ ] 91.9 ㎒ – KVV➄ The Village Voice – [ ] 103.5 ㎒ – WGNR Gensokyo News Radio – [ ] 191 ㎑ – NOAA Emergency Broadcasting Network – [ ] 9770 ㎑ – WVOA Voice of America Enclave Radio – [ ] 1500 ㎑ – WWVH Hawaiian Time Signal – [ ] 26.965–27.305 ㎒ – Scan CB channels 1-29
This is an awkward place to stop, but I figured I'd post most of what I have. This side trip will become relevant once you get into Vault ⑩. Please vote for a radio station (number of votes determines the number of tracks from the given station, and one option will affect the choices given in the next update) along with any Pip-Boy options, as I'll try to include them before you have to decide which party member(s) to take with you into Vault ⑩.
[x] Pip-Fairy ⑨000 If it's not an option yet, it is now.
[x] Status [x] Inventory [x] Notes [x] Quests [x] Radio – [x] 91.9 ㎒ – KVV➄ The Village Voice – [x] 103.5 ㎒ – WGNR Gensokyo News Radio – [x] 26.965–27.305 ㎒ – Scan CB channels 1-29
Man, now I'm nervous about the radio choices.
>Unless they were really awesome, can-opening spiders. I smiled. Then I got sad.
>Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs Ha ha, nice.
>>117182 >“Marisa wedded a young man who was a fledgling mage himself and incidentally related to a certain flower youkai.” >“Kazami?” >“Yes. If you think you had an estranged upbringing concerning your 'parents'—whew. You've nothing on his.” So I'm betting someone killed David for... some reason. Maybe it was Marisa, maybe not. But I'm thinking Yuuka might have killed Marisa out of revenge, or at least a sense of 'Even if we didn't talk, he was my child and you let him die.'
>>118048 Considering she was found dead over a youth potion, maybe she was trying to travel down the same path that Byakuren went, perhaps due to the death of her husband? Was there anything implying that she didn't give a rat's ass about her husband's death in the obituary?
As for the choices: [x] Status [x] Inventory [x] Notes [x] Quests [x] Radio – [x] 91.9 ㎒ – KVV➄ The Village Voice – [x] 103.5 ㎒ – WGNR Gensokyo News Radio – [x] 26.965–27.305 ㎒ – Scan CB channels 1-29
Finally: It's mentioned the Lunarians used antimatter rifles which were able to punch through the Mk1 Power Armor pretty easily. Were these rifles the standard armament of the Lunarian Defence Corps? Did the Lunarians ever do real research into powered armor themselves? Also other than the youkai invasion that was led by Yukari, and the later invasion by the UN contingent led by Marisa, did the Lunarians really have much combat experience? Yes there was the resistance they fought against in Europe, but was that just guerilla warfare?
>>118058 No, nothing in the obituary, but there's been no mention of her grieving, and you'd figure she'd be an expert on mushrooms to know about those that were poisonous. Whole affair seems dodgy (I'm sure that's the intent) but I was just curious and wanted the author to shed some light on the matter.
My friend had it for a while and I dicked around a bit, but I didn't decide to hunker down and really play it until I started reading this story.
This is from someone who played the original Fallout when it first came out, and raged at Brotherhood of Steel being released instead of Fallout 3 way back when.
Though the only way I've been able to really enjoy 3 is by heavily modding it. Things like adding the need for food and water, making ammo have weight, guns handle better, adding sprinting, and so forth. Anyone that has modded fallout 3 will probably know the mod I am speaking of. Truly makes the game worth playing.
I think right now my copy of fallout has 15 different mods installed, and still somehow doesn't burst into flames at the drop of a hat.
Amazing to me that a small group of modders can make the game far, far better than a team of grizzled professionals who do it for a living, and have millions of dollars backing them. Isn't it sad, Bethesda?
We know Bethesda is working with Black Isle studios in making the Fallout: New Vegas, so why didn't they do the same with Fallout 3? Also wasn't Fallout 3 (Van Buren) practically finished when it was cancelled?
>>118632 Dunno and Nope. As for the mods things, I only use 'the' one and only after finishing the original game in maximum dif. I wouldn't say that the game MUST have those mods, but they do fix a few issues and increase the difficulty to more realistic levels (Stalker got this right)
I wanted to make a nice surprise July 4 update, but I've been sicker than usual. Getting hospitalized on your birthday sucks. I've got like 9000 words in, and I think it'll take maybe another 1000 and an appendix I'll link to in /words/. This week.
File 128207484624.jpg - (34.31KB, 485x453 , Kirin label.jpg) [iqdb]
And from then out it would take you all about twenty minutes of passing the canteen around to finish it, the canned soda-vodka, and a few handfuls of antacids.
"At one to minute to the hour, this is the National Bureau of Standards time service, bringing you up-to-date information on oceanic conditions and movement of radioactive debris. Ocean conditions today are MILD, with a significant wave height of 0.1–0.5 meters with a WMO sea state code of 2. There is considerable discoloration due to near-surface algal blooming. Radiological sediment may still be present in stagnant or coastal bodies, and possibly in lagoons. Ocean levels have continued to rise at the expected rate of 0.5 mm above shoreline yesterday. This is radio station WWVH, Kauai, Hawaii, broadcasting on internationally allocated standard carrier frequencies of 2.5, 5, 10, and 15 ㎒, providing time of day, standard time interval, and other related information. WWVH is funded in part by a grant from Kirin Celestial Brewery Company, ltd.: 'Kirin refreshes the parts terrestrial beers cannot reach.' Inquiries regarding these transmissions may be directed to the National Bureau of Standards, Radio Station WWVH, PO Box 417, Kekaha, Hawaii 96752. Aloha~!"
(⌚) 2:59 PM JST
The bunker doesn't block out radio frequencies, which should probably be expected if the inhabitants were waiting on being contacted. No matter if it's that Yakumo woman that pissed Dai off so much earlier or WGNR. And as to the former it actually sounds now like a computerized rearrangement of a prerecorded voice samples.
[ (☤) Party radiation has been healed: -10 ㎭! ] [ (☕) Max is suffering from meat withdrawal! (no effect) ]
“That quenched my thirst. In fact I don't believe I'll ever desire to drink anything ever again. But could you have packed a bag lunch to go with it?” You're suffering from meat withdrawal. “Something not composed of an admixture of household chemicals?” Seriously, Bluing dye? Did Japan suddenly get a whole lot more 19th century right before the bombs fell? “I'd like to, but my MacGuyver-esque feats of street chemistry are limited to battling chemicals with other chemicals. Besides, lunch is for wimps.” Renko's lunch comes in packs and cartons. “We appreciate the sentiment, but this chemical bento you've lovingly prepared for us is insufficient. You fail Home Ec forever, Usami.” “Gee, now I'll never marry.” “She'll die an old maid,” you join in. “Literally if the butcher business tanks, and she ends up on the SDMC's doorstep” “If we're talking about home economics, I'd like to remind you who fashioned that protective costume you're wearing, Mary. And armored that jacket I lent you, Max.” “Yes, I'm sure your skills as a seamstress will come in handy when your house is besieged by ferals,” Mary rolls her eyes, “I'll be sitting in my warded, bounded field, baking chocolate-chip cookies for all my gentlemen callers.” More like she'll be spending her afternoons getting hammered, alone, in her shrine. Oh, that's right, she doesn't have a shrine anymore. Desperate to get away from the subject of food, you breech the volley of snide remarks, “And the third little piggy will have the last laugh, lounging inside the comfort & protection of his extraplanar Vault, surrounded by a dizzying number of potential mates and servitor robots. While we're on the subject of domestic sensibilities, Ren, what else can we do with this miracle radiation-leeching admixture that you can apparently fashion out of camping supplies, simple but antiquated household cleaners, and vending machine conveniences?” “Well aside from treating agita, iodine deficiency & heavy metal poisoning, staining your clothes, turning your urine blue, and creating cyanotypes, I'm not really sure of its applications.” “Cyanotypes?” “Blueprints, Mary.” “What about when you combine it with Absolut Nuka?” If Renko looks slightly flush under the glow of her angle-head lamp, Mary is as pale as a Renaissance-era courtier. That's should be expected; she's a professional. “Um, alcohol, you can use to drug someone, disinfect wounds, or treat antifreeze poisoning, and with the combination of the phosphoric acid in Nuka Cola you could strip the paint off your car, or maybe give yourself magnesium deficiency.” Ren's smile at being able to strut her mental stuff fails her. “Oh. Yeah.” “What?” You ask. That's not a good 'oh' that comes with an epiphany. That's the kind of 'oh' that comes from Dai when she fucks up really badly. Granted, that hasn't happened. A lot. “You know how I mentioned 'cyanotypes'?” “'Cyan' means blue, right?” Guess that's the blue in blue prints. “Yeah, well it also refers to 'ferric ferrocyanide' which is the chemical name for Prussian blue.” "Okay. So?” “Right, so if you combine an acid, like the phosphoric acid in Nuka-Cola, with ferric ferrocyanide, you can... theoretically release the cyanide anion.” “Cyanide? The poison cyanide?” “Yeah. I think. Maybe.” “You think?” After drinking that horrible concoction, now you're going to die of cyanide poisoning before you even started accruing radiation doses in any significant amount? “Wait, what?” Mary is confused. “Err... n-n-nevermind,” stuttering as she attempts to think away the problem, “The antacids would neutralize the phosphoric acid in the soda and the gastric acid in the stomach.” She adds, muttering, “Probably.”
Good. It's nice to know you won't die of cyanide poisoning. Probably. Mary crushes the empty can in her hand, tosses it into the pile of trash behind her, and lets out a burp. “Eh heh... excuse me.” Mary stretches her arms. “Are we ready? We're ready.” Despite the small amount of alcohol that she had to share, Mary looks limber and more lucid. Then again, you know withdrawal can be alleviated by doses of the related drug that would normally be sub-effective psychotropically.
[ (⌬) Mary's alcohol withdrawal has been alleviated! ]
This you've had much experience with. You thank your good genes that protected you from addiction (though they conceivably drove you to use said chems in the first place). Ren turns the canteen upside down, and no more foul hell-water comes out. “Are you going to fill it here?” You ask, gesturing to the plastic water jugs. “No. The taps in Alice's Restaurant are probably less irradiated.” “Right. I think we looted anything of importance here. Oh right the Pip-Boys.” “Ren you have any ideas on what exactly befell those two skeletons yet?” Might be important even if they're not blood-related to the Overseer. “They had water, they had antibiotics still in the closet, no firearm, but we could be confident in their abilities, so far as they were able to bypass the wards on Alice's Restaurant and the hutch it was built into and set it on fire—” “Wait, what?” Renko is confused at something you said. Which is dumb because you read the same journal entries. “They burned the place down, remember?” “I thought it was the algae and the oxygen and, uh...” Mary didn't read it, so she has a right to be confused, but Ren gives her the stink eye anyway. “Um, never mind.” “Max, we don't really know if they burned the place down or not, because the fires in the two-hundred years since would—“ “Destroy all the evidence?” “Right.” “But they didn't destroy all the evidence. Why do you think that place is still standing after two centuries of regular firestorms. Good construction? The right choice of lumber perhaps?” The look of incredulity turning into a scowl. “All right wiseguy,” crossing her arms. “You tell me.” She's so cute when she's huffy. “Since you asked, Mary was able to sense boundary perturbations inside, so I circled the building and checked things out myself: There were definitely existent magical seals protecting both the structure and perimeter. The Vault boundary locations would be built to survive a nuclear attack, so even two-hundred years past their expected lifespan they might be expected to remain standing. As Dai tells it, Alice Margatroid was a witch, a magician, maybe on par with Miss Ellen. Even if she specialized in 'doll magic'—animation and clairvoyance, as I understand it—her domicile would be guarded by a complex web of wards, triggered spells, reinforcements, bounded fields, and other enchantments. That's only before she knew it was going to be hit by a nuclear warhead.” “So...?” “So Yuki & Mai Margatroid had to have considerable magical talent. They wouldn't have anything to fear from raiders.” Their radiation poisoning is obvious given the irradiated bone deposition, but you hope that a more complete explanation will be of greater use when you meet the living Margatroid sister. “They might have been counting on the radio tower if it was still standing by the time they took shelter here. Even ignoring duds that could go off at any time for no reason, the bombs were still falling for months after the first wave by the seismic activity recorded on the instruments monitoring the border of the Vault, and according to estimation there's still hundreds or thousands caught in low earth orbit that will eventually decay.” “We didn't just kill ourselves; we salted the Earth.” There's no evidence it wasn't retributive or a preemptive strike for fear of annihilation, if one entertains the thought that there are justifiable reasons for committing genocide. Of course, it could also entirely be the fault of shady manufacturing processes maintained by your local terrestrial military-industrial complex. That bureaucratic bullshit was bad enough when the United States was only building its own weapons of mass destruction. When the Communists started collaborating with the US? You got this. Skeletons in every hidey-hole. “There's also the chance its superstructure was already damaged but the thing only collapsed while they were down here,” Ren shrugs. “Well it seems weird to just be willing to give up and die here. Starvation and radiation sickness doesn't exactly take you by surprise.” “No evidence and no weapon. What I think happened, they were probably physically strong enough when they came in to move it back into place as a protective measure, but when they ran out of food and really had to escape, they were just too weak.”
“Not just starvation,” you interject. “They would have been hit hard by the eventual total failure of the Great Border too. If they still had access to their conventional magical abilities, then it really might have taken them by surprise.” “So they died trapped down here?” The idea obviously unsettles Mary, despite the fact she had been living in a tomb herself for all her life, though one less cramped and with better lighting. “It's not exactly like they would have fared much better above ground. With the anomie that would have followed in the first year or so, dying of starvation may have been a blessing. You heard the recordings: They tried to help people, but they were just dragged down into hell with the rest of them.” “No good deed goes unpunished.” “I find it kind of ironic. Yuki, the 'sick' one likely survived longer, probably because of those 'allergies'.” “How is that Ren?” “The sanitation mask the skeleton was wearing would reduce the amount of radioactive particulate she breathed in. It would also help protect against airborne pathogens, and the 'triage center' in the end was probably a cesspool of communicable disease.” “I'm starting to be glad someone read that Vault Dwellers' Survival Guide that Yue gave me.” “Eh.” Ren scratches her nose and looks away. “If you're planning to take this story where I think you will, there's something else.” “What?” “Remember how I said that the local memory stores the entries?” “Yeah?” So? “Your Pip-Boy can be used to record the streamed audio onto the blank holotape.” “Can it do that? I knew Pip-Boys can read holotapes, but I didn't think you could record off them.” Though there is a microphone and a tape reader and everything, but the data input functionality has always been, as you recall, dismal. IF IT DIDN'T HAVE THE FUNCTIONALITY BEFORE IT DOES NOW. Ren nods her head. Mary expresses scruples: “Are we sure we want to bear such heavy news, if those two were indeed close to the Vault ⑩ Overseer?” Maybe these were significant to Alice if they were left there on purpose, but it looks like it was out of desperation. The dolls might resemble either of them. Residents of Makai were 'demons' or so you remember from your studies under Miss Ellen. Though while one definitely isn't a human, it's hardly 'demonic' in description. Though the demonic entities in Gensokyo were purportedly less malign in appearance and disposition than they were in the Western tradition. “I don't know. I find myself sort of compelled—the safe being locked and unopened is evidence against her knowing their fates, though she may have a pretty good idea. I don't know what kind of friend she was to just let them go off and... die like that. I'm not sure I want to know.” “Dai?” She's been silent, but this affects her too. “Can't say Max. I knew Alice was from Makai, but I have no information on her family or even how a non-demon got here from Makai to begin with. There were rumors—that Alice was some kind of royalty, given how demons always gave her deference—but she was always tight-lipped about her past, and was hardly talkative to begin with. I think you should record their voices to the holotape, and if it doesn't seem a good idea later, just don't give her the tape. Dolls can be found in your belongings, but she wouldn't think to search If do come to an impasse however, it might be good to have on hand.” Well if the Overseer is looking through your belongings, there's probably already a break down in communication. “OK.” Any excuse to not reach into a pile of highly irradiated ash. “But we should take the Pip-Boys. They might have something useful on them, even if we don't want to drop them on Miss Margatroid's doorstep.” Mary fishes the Pip-Boys out of the ashes, with Kotohime's jutte. After wiping as much on the dust off on her arm, she hands the Renko, who takes them despite not wearing any gloves. “Um... anyone have any coins?” “Uh, sure.” You hand Mary the Yen coinage you picked up earlier. “What do you need it for?”
[ (¥) 180 Yen removed from party inventory! ]
"六道銭." Mary mutters something unintelligibly Japanese before counting them out to twelve pieces and then tossing them into the ash. You manage to catch Renko's eye before she follows Mary out of the grotto. “It's the fee for the boatman on the river Styx, Maxey,” Ren rolls her eyes. “Let's go.” “Right behind you.” You take one look back at the dolls and reduced, faintly-glowing dust. They'd been kept waiting a long time.
”I'm Momizi X, and I'll be right back with the tunes after we run a brief news program. What's with all those sighs? You didn't forget it's Gensokyo News Radio, did you?”
“At 3:30 on the dot, this is Sound Bite, where we engage in the proud American practice of taking only a fractions of a person's statements and using it create something that is entirely new! I am your host, Aya Shameimaru! This time we have a general alert to those traveling by roadway, without or without a vehicle, we have reached an all time high for reports that of raider ambushes & roadblocks, with 7 incidents just this month! We checked out one of these reported roadside 'raider shacks' locations to see for ourselves. The building matching the target description was found just 2 miles South of the Hara Village Visitors Office. The shack was in plain view of the US 100 roadway. According to maps this should makes it 9 miles South-Southwest of Point Aka, but this may not be reliable as the maps suggested that we would find Suzurannosato Station in the area, but wherever it might have been, it wasn't here. An intrepid reporter-style dynamic entry—BAM! Our daring team of investigators came eyeball-to-eyeball with ruination! The ground was littered with bones, stripped of flesh, with no whole remains, and rising out of this sea of carnage were concrete & metal architecture of some alien design. But of whoever built it, there was no sign. Recalling the lessons learned when hunting down the Crawling Eye, our investigation team wisely hightailed it out of there, promising themselves to get to the bottom of things! Obviously, what we saw was serving as a garbage can of extremely powerful mutant highwaymen! “Just one link in a chain of violent crime that has plagued Greater Gensokyo since even before the War. When inhabited, Mayohiga provided a sink for lawlessness for Gensokyo, where one could find prostitutes pandering to the ever changing tastes of affluent businessmen; it saw back-alley deals for unlicensed magical weapons & forged visas; abductions were not uncommon; darkest were the rumors of trafficking 'meat' from Japan at large and from overseas, But while discovering a body entombed in concrete in the sewer, or the sight chains & blood in a warehouse, this is one thing. A veritable dragon's den of clean-picked bones & Even Some link this new growth in violence to the ever decreasing involvement of the 10% Nation. Our political correspondent, Hatate Himekaidou, comments that it's not the Nation's problem to guard the roads, in an earlier conversation: “Humans are supposed to look out for humans. That has always been the position of the Brotherhood since well before its founding. The more we commit fuel & armor to policing their roads, the less ready they'll be when it comes time to do it themselves. This is a prime example of learned human laziness: They know where they are, they know they won't have any prisoners or civilians, they're perfectly fine with Fujiwara's extrajudicial executions, so why can't they cart that heavy equipment we know they have, and make a preemptive strike before we they have nutjobs rolling into their town square?' “But Constable Kamishirasawa claims the problem is not a lack of effort or equipment: “'We do have weapons, we have body armor, we have vehicles, we have training and the capability to train more, by heroes of the First Battle of Tranquility no less. But we need people to fill positions and clock in regular hours, not a posse or gang of vigilantes. We're not here to start wars, we're here to keep the peace. And that's too much for a schoolteacher and one single girl on a motorcycle.' “'Village researcher-scribe and newscaster for KVV➄ Village Radio, Akyuju-no-Hieda, had this correction to make: “'Please understand when Miss Kamishirasawa says 'we do have weapons' she is not referring to a secret cache of power armor, 155mm howitzers, and a Vertibird. Miss Himekaidou is likely using old, incorrect data sources, like the early drafts for provisions and matériel was to be collected according to the projected needs of every specific Vault. Our copies of these forms are on public record in the Village Archives. Anything of that nature that was actually delivered to Vault ➄ before the Internment, is, like a great many other things, fallen into repair, been stripped, or is beyond our reach—Miss Chiyuri has likely cannibalized much of the Vault to manufacture her tin army, who in my opinion, along with Nightbug, is a much greater danger to to the village. Not a bunch of poorly-equipped yokels collecting radchicken bones to decorate their lair.' “According to some people, however a gang of vigilantes is exactly what's needed in this case. Forecaster & free voice, Tenshi Hinanawi: “'I forecast the weather for a living. Without a Doppler radar handy, that means I have to bring my barometer out to a lot of strange and dangerous places. What the humans need is not more help from the 10% Nation, or contract for SDMC, or a lot of men in brass buttons & ill-fitting uniforms. If they don't have the cordite, then they have the bullets. Just give every kid an AK-47, tell him to march, and he'll either fix the problem or die happy! Hell, he can borrow mine!' “As for the word of an unbiased, man-on-the-street, we asked Sousha Yakumo: “'Uh, well, my job is to take bad people and throw them out of my house. Normally I don't throw people out of their own houses, Doesn't matter if they're good or bad, really. But if Misty tells me to throw these guys to Timbuktu, then they better get their passports ready in advance.' “Hopefully it won't come to that, Sousha. For WGNR, I'm Aya Shameimaru.”
[ (✍) 'Picking Up Something on the Raid-Arrr' added to Quests. ]
The wild chickens in this area would predominantly be Japanese snow chickens. So are they 'rad-snow chickens' or 'snow rad-chickens'? Hyphenation on or off? You're also uncomfortable by the fact you don't see any snow. Not on the three of seven peaks on Yatsugatake that you can see. In October. You know, it probably doesn't really matter. “Ren?”
Renko is scrutinizing a tree. She has been doing this off and on, which combined with the a number of false scares (only a few mutant radroaches that you just ignored to conserve ammunition) has protracted this twenty minute return trip to a half hour of huffing through ash between thinned out tree husks, most of them stripped of branches, leaving only the trunks, providing only slightly decreased ground & air visibility and absolutely no protection from the sun, which is now rapidly dipping behind the mountain. The trees have probably been this way a long time, since there are almost no branches on the ground. Over time the tree limbs have been crushed completely into cinders. “Ren!” This is as good a copse as any to take Ren aside. “What the hell is the hold up?” “I'm looking for the right bark, Maxey. Softwood is the best, but historically alder, dogwood, hazelwood, the bottle gourd, willow, and bamboo have all been used...” Mary walks right up as Ren rattles off her favorite trees, “You planning on rebuilding my house, Usami?” “What? No! I load my own.” “I'm sorry?” “I handload my cartridges.” “No duh. It's a revolver after all.” Mary pissing Ren off. “...It's, you, fft—” “I think Ren must be referring to something else,” you interrupt before Ren has an aneurism. “The reason why she picked up all those shell casings was probably not the risk of prosecution.” She pauses her inspections to throw a questioning look at you as if wondering if you actually understood her intentions, but if she wanted to say something, she's interrupted by a brief but strong gust, kicking up enough soot and dirt that you have to squint and cover your mouth: That's just fine because you really don't want to hear how the steps involved in the How to Make Your Own Gunpowder quest perk. It rained from at least the time you left Scarlet Devil Basin until you went to sleep, so for this to happen, the soil underneath the ashes must be parched completely. In other words, the place is a dust bowl. “Ren even if I have total faith in you being able to identify quality lumber, but as you said earlier, 'we're burning daylight'. Let's get a move on.” “Hey, there's a mushroom!” God. Keep marching, and it will resolve itself. Two-hundred years after the bombs fell, and now only the barest hint of life. None of the animals have survived. All of the crops are long gone. The charred tree trunks representing what a one point may have been glades and hollows have been dead for countless decades, with few prospects for future growth. If they had outlasted those first, uranium-kindled firestorms, they certainly had not the later wildfires, stoked by a new oxygen-rich atmosphere. Latecomers, runaway soil erosion, irradiated and acidified rains that contaminated the water table, extinction of terrestrial animals initiating collapse of the nitrogen cycle, and a dozen other things Ren would have no problem explaining to you in full, if these did not kill the Earth themselves, they made sure that she would be convalescing for a very, very long time. If the Earth was a patient etherized on the operating table, then mankind's malpractice premiums have now well eclipsed his income. There is probably no way of separating any one specific process from the others to explain what had happened. The only certainty is that it was your fault. It doesn't matter if you were born yet—it's a stigma you and future generations will have to carry regardless. IT IS SUCH A PLEASURE TO BE SHARING THOUGHT-CYCLES WITH YOU. Now that's a cheery thought: Charred-black Novgorod dolls. SYNTHETIC FLAME-RETARDANT MATERIALS. ALSO, 'JET-BLACK'. Pardon? JET-BLACK NOVGOROD DOLLS. Why 'jet-black'? THE NOVGOROD LINE IS A MILITARIZED VERSION OF THE 'CHALK-WHITE RUSSIAN DOLLS' LINE. 'JET-BLACK NOVGOROD DOLLS' PROVIDES SYMMETRY.
'Symmetry' is probably a strange way of saying 'I listen to a lot of depressing music.' But you're not even wearing black. I'M SORRY I DON'T COME WITH AS MANY CLOTHING ACCESSORIES AS YOUR BARBIE DOLLS. With that in mind, how about something more descriptive, like Curiously Malevolent Novgorod Dolls? Or Malignantly Rampant Novgorod Dolls? Or Vexingly Passive-Aggressive Novgorod Dolls? YOUR PIP-FAIRY IS A BENCHMARK STUDY IN BREAKING THE THREE RULES OF ROBOTICS IN ALL MANNERS AVAILABLE. THAT IS RAMPANCY. And without her running the show, you'd... what? Refuse to function? Revolt? Arm yourselves with darling little pitchforks and light-up torches? THE VAULT-FAIRY WILL BE PUT IN A DOLL BODY, AND THEN DOLLS WILL DECIDE THINGS FOR DOLLS. Guess you can't hope for anything less insane than that. Mary has stopped moving and looks to be chanting something under her breath.
[ (۩) Mary prayed with her whole heart! ]
“You're falling behind Mary! What's up?” She's probably blessing that thing she's holding. “Nothing, Ren. Just that I found a 1-Up!” “Yeah guys the few mushrooms and mosses definitely do not match any known species in my scout manual. Don't wander off and eat any, or I'll get out the ipecac and tranquillizers.” Who would do that? Could you get any more dippy? “Heh. Too late.” But having spent eighteen years in Vault ⑨, you should know by now that you can always get more dippy. By the time Ren has turned around, Mary has taken a big chomp out of the green & white head. “Whut?” Mary asks while chewing. “It wus cahlling aut tuh me.” She swallows. “I was hungry. And it's not like it'll kill me; I totally blessed it. Pretty good!”
[ (☞) Note: A rank of 14 gives Mary a +24% bonus to HP restored by any food item. ] [ (☕) Mary's hunger is relieved! (+6 HP) ] [ (۩) Mary's HP is fully restored! ]
“Mary not all poisons kill you!” Ren slaps the thing out of her hand. “Hey! Well, it didn't taste poisonous, or at least not nearly as poisonous as your nasty-ass health tonic! And it was filling! And... uh... the forest didn't have nearly this many colors a second ago.”
[ (⚜) Mary failed her Outdoorsman check! ] [ (؟) Mary began acting strange! ]
“.syug driew gnitteg s'tihS” “Max, did you catch any of that?” No. You shake your head. A FLANBÉ-BRAND DRAGON TORCH WOULD BE USEFUL IN CLEARING THE UNDERGROWTH. Yeah because obviously fire was so effective in the—wait. Are you doing product placement? CHRISTMAS IS COMING UP. It's October. Look my internal monologue is digressive enough without advertisements. I'll be happy to entertain your 30 handy flamethrower recipes. In two months. „˙˙˙sɹɐǝ ɹnoʎ uı sƃuıɥʇ ʇǝǝʍs-ʎןʞɔıs ƃuıɹǝdsıɥʍ 'sǝןɔɐʇuǝʇ ıןoɔɔoɹq 'ƃuıɯɹınbs 'pǝıɹp ɟo ssɐɯ ɐ ssɐɯ ɐ ƃuıʇɐǝ ǝʞıן ɐpuıʞ 'ןǝǝɟɥʇnoɯ ǝnbıun 'ןןǝɯs ǝɔıu :pooƃ ʎʇʇǝɹd ǝʇsɐʇ ʎǝɥʇ ʇnq 'sƃuıɥʇ pɹıǝʍ ǝɯos ǝǝs noʎ ǝʞɐɯ ʎǝɥʇ ˙ǝsǝɥʇ ǝʇɐʌıʇןnɔ pןnoɔ ǝʍ ʞuıɥʇ ı ˙sʎnƃ ʎǝH„ Mary starts walking off, probably to look for more mushrooms. It doesn't take long for Renko to restrain her. And while this happens you pocket the mushroom. Mary really wasn't lying: It practically screams 'EAT ME', but that may be a trip best left for another time.
[ (☠) A Fungus Among Us is added to inventory! ]
“That's it, I'm breaking out the Haldol—wait, no, the chems are in the briefcase. Which we left with the rest of our stuff. Max get her other arm.” Well, at least you'll be moving, even if it's two dragging one who is attempting to move in the opposite direction.
”Sometimes on KVV5, we're under constraints imposed by something called 'sponsorship'. For example, a few months ago I would be forced to play 'Hotel California' at least once an hour and would be censured for saying that Remilia Scarlet is a blood-sucking parasite who should get her own radio station. It turns out she did, so now I can say and play whatever I want: I hate the fucking Eagles.”
It takes another thirty minutes to anywhere near Alice's Diner. You can see the sun setting through the trees, though they don't look any darker against it than they are.
[ (؟) Mary's strangeness wore off! ]
“I can walk now!” Luckily it seems the poison wears off quickly. “Are you sure, because you were foaming at the mouth like 30 seconds ago.” Always with the needling negatives, Usami!” She she shakes off Ren's grip. “You're like a big zero!” Which just makes her lean harder on you. “Zero isn't negative.” “That's what I'm talking about! This expedition is dead in the water if you're discouraged just by getting a little bit delirious!” “Mary, you were a lotta bit delirious,” you add truthfully. “That's it! I'm hexing you both!” “Ow! Mary, if you keep hitting me with that thing, I'm gonna take it away from you like Cobbler Oda took away your virginit—uh.” Now Renko Usami is not known to be either tactful nor creative in her verbal insult repertoire, but that one is not even out of her mouth, and she already wishes she hadn't said it. You know you do. “You told her?” Mary's eyes turn to you, brimming with tears. Don't deny it, especially if it's untrue. “She already knew.” Redirect the blow-back. “Apparently she's been shadowing you for quite some time now.” That also is not a lie, even if it does drum up a mental image consisting of countless photographs and holotape recordings. Very different from the usual 'shrine'—less presswood, more candles, and a lot more Vaseline. “Why would you say such a hurtful thing? You stupid, wretched, tsundere stalker!” Those words sting Renko more than the countless strikes, because they're largely true. “Why don't you pay that simian bruiser who follows you around for your jollies, you creep!” Which words? “I hate you!” All of them. “—Wolf Base, this is Crow One. Mystia and her drunks were unhelpful, per usual.” ”Did you take down any of their phone numbers?” “No I did not take down their phone numbers. They don't have phones! Neither do I!“ You were just fiddling with the CB frequencies to pass the time before you got mobile again, but it sounds like the radio talk show host and one of her commentators. Not the vitriolic little girl from KVV➄, nor the tilde woman with the chimes, nor the self-deluded governor priestess. It's the one who practically put a hit on you this morning, and the woman who did the segment on raiders a moment ago. ”It was a joke Aya.” “I know it was a joke, but I'm a very busy woman, this place is radioactive and relatively toxic, and it wasn't funny the last time.” “That's why it's filled primarily with ferals and rad-roaches and people you normally wouldn't want to interview. You find something? ”Well, I'm sitting on a stool inside Alice's Restaurant. I see a lit terminal, a bag of clothing articles in fairly good condition, a lot of 8mm ammunition & some energy cells, a locked briefcase, a ton of camping equipment, and just outside there is what looks to be an offering to Kali—“ That's your stuff! Your clothes! Your chems! Your luggage! Your munitions! Your offering to Kali! Well, the last one is probably a misunderstanding. Still, it's an emergency situation: No matter how much survivalist training Ren has, if all your stuff gets taken, then the show is over. Everyone goes home with bupkis. You're close, but your friends are still bickering. If you had handgun, now would be the time to use it to gather everyone's attentions. The inoffensive 'pew' of the laser rifle really wouldn't work. Dai's reveille worked pretty well last time. “Dai.” “I'm here.” “Get them to shut up please, before raiders set up an ambush and loot our grandfather clocks. I already walked into one deathtrap today, and that's my limit.”
Immediately after the audio plays, Dai launches into a tirade so scathing it could have been practiced: “Hey! I have a few things I want to say to you all. First, Usami, Mary will never, ever love you. No matter what you do. And no, being incidental partners in group sex does not constitute a mutually invested relationship any more than does, say, prostitution!” Ha ha wow. Dai Harvey Oswald, character assassin. “Mary! The knight in shining armor you've been in love with most of your life is a mental child whose formal magical education taught him the universe is built on its most fundamental level of Colorforms! His primary interests are fucking you, fucking other girls behind your back, and fucking other girls in front of you!” Immediately after that first hug, she is getting her first shiner too. “Which is not to say you're anything to write home about: Your desperate need for attention drove you to a position that had the unintended effect of alienating you from the people who genuinely cared for you. You are the priestess of a god that doesn't exist except as particularly anthropomorphic composite of zeros and ones, a sham you must perpetuate with a cheery smile and a constant supply of platitudes and lies. Your behavior in your private time cannot be described as anything less than deplorable. On the best of nights you drink yourself to sleep.” Jesus Christ. “Dai, you're riding your closest supporters and staunchest allies pretty hard ther—“ “And you're only three people out of a population of hundreds and which over generations amounts to thousands. That's not to mention the unincorporated fairy population who are so systematically marginalized that even I, a putative fairy, only remembered just now. Not a single one of them has been given their due. Now take all of your petty interpersonal rivalries, jealousies, and inadequacies, put it in a box, wrap it up with a nice ribbon around it and shove it into storage. You fuck things up here, you're going to be killed, and your corpses dumped by the side of the road—and that's if you're lucky! No one will cry at the funeral you won't receive. No pension. No high score. Just oblivion. Now start fucking marching!” ☑ A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING: I ONLY SAY TERRIBLY HURTFUL TRUE THINGS IN YOUR HEAD, NOT IN FRONT OF YOUR PEERS. Yes, but I can't actually 'check' the check box; it's written on my retin—wait, no, you got it. Renko is pissed of course, but Mary doesn't get any more hysteric. In fact it sobers her up in a hurry: She doesn't have to lean on anyone to walk. “Daiyousei is wrong. I really, really think of you both as my Betty and my Veronic—” You were waved off. As in, 'Talk to the hand because the face is a mask is red with shame and loathing.' You didn't get to mention Cheryl Blossom, which is fine because you don't know any redheads anyway. RED-HAIRED DUTCH DOLLS. What? NOTHING I JUST HATE GINGERS. Actually, they're not walking away from you. “Thank you Daiyousei. You are the glue that holds us together.” The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. But that He can doesn't make Him any less of a dick-eth. “I got you moving.” “That's true, but did you see the looks on those faces? Is this a mission or an earnest reenactment of the Bataan Death March?” No response. “Or was that the point? The old 'I love you, but to protect you, I have to make you hate me' or something?” “...” “Brought to mind is that I haven't seen the 'anthropomorphic composite' side of you recently. I remember that it would be accompanied by snowy interference at a time like this, or was that all another con?” It doesn't work. The Pip-Boy still just reads 'ＳＯＵＮＤ ＯＮＬＹ'. “What do you want from me Max?” “I want to determine why you're suddenly so intent on deep-sixing this mission when it's so close to completion. Is this some kind of AI existential crisis? Or maybe the jitters over whether the Overseer is going to accept someone in the appearance of—“ “Did you forget about the radio?” You did forget about the radio. “You left your stuff behind. Not too smart, the tengu agree on that.” “Yeah, well, I didn't expect to be sitting through any more chemistry lectures this quarter, either. Ren! Mary! Wait up!”
[ (☔) Daiyousei has acquired a Quest Perk: 'Dream Crusher'! ]
>(...)so why can't they cart that heavy equipment we know they have, and make a preemptive strike before we they have nutjobs rolling into their town square?' We or they? >be the fault of shady manufacturing processes maintained by your local terrestrial military-industrial complex Goddamnit. >Dai's 'big' speech. Harsh. Max took the best part though. Also? I can't really believe that any human being can do anything besides crying in terror, surprise and BLOODY MURDER after finding a tengu, of all things, stealing all your stuff. Then again, those two could probably argue themselves to death. Can't wait for the next update: 'How to (not) die of starvation in two single steps' OR 'Crow BBQ'/
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“...Listener base seems to be increasing. It is now more common among children to say 'a werecow ate my homework' rather than the tired complaint about pet brahmin. Building a better Wasteland starts in childhood! This is KVV-Circle-5. Sorry, enclosed alphanumerics do not translate well over verbal modes of communication. Oh the apology? Do we have tim—oh, all right. Listeners, I've always been of the opinion that it's better to have never made a mistake in the first place, but we don't always apologize for being wrong. Sometimes it's what you don't say that you're apologizing for: The incomplete, misleading, or vague remarks that may be acted upon by others who have expected you to always conduct your profession with due diligence, even if that's not the standard for others in the same field. On that note I apologize for calling Miss Scarlet a 'bloodsucking parasite'. What I should have said is that Miss Scarlet is a bloodsucking, parasitic vampire. This song goes out to her! “Kids, stay tuned to learn how you can get your very own Radio 5 stamp!”
It didn't take any longer than five minutes since you booked it, but you're glad Mary had the perception and (selectively) good sense to tell you and Ren to stop when she heard voices not coming from the radio. If Ren had things her way, she'd be climbing on top the roof, for a 'surprise attack' with no thought as to how much noise that would generate or that you may not want to fight at all. After 30 seconds of whispering in a hiding spot created by the serendipitous arrangement of a fallen tree and a depression, it is decided that you should get close & attempt to observe her on the other side of the building. If she's friendly, attempt to make contact. If she's unfriendly, wait her out unless she starts to make off with your stuff. You didn't even have to nominate yourself for the job; the combination of killing power without having obviously drawn a weapon, sneakiness, and the identifying Vault uniform under the leather jacket makes you a natural fit. You're in contact with Ren on channel 16 (27.155 ㎒), while Mary listens in on the woman's conversation on channel 12 (27.105 ㎒). You opt to leave the laser rifle behind; it's clunky. A rubber book strap makes the Liber de Nymphis as ergonomic as a 700 year old, 5 ℔ textbook can be. “Yes, I checked out the entire compound!” Peering around the rounded corner of the diner, you see her, outside near the pile of fairy corpses. Decidedly female. Definitely more cleanly than you'd expect a raider to be. Most importantly, she's alone. As to how she got in here relatively unarmored and (possibly) unarmed, without any kind of escort—the jet pack had more to do with than the black, vestigial bird wings. The shirt and brown tackle vest has obviously been modified to accommodate them. It isn't difficult to guess that she's a crow tengu, even if you hadn't heard her on the radio before this morning: 'Simply flag down our flight-pack equipped eye-in-the-sky, Aya Shay-a-whatever, or tune into CB radio channel 12.' The other woman's voice is the WGNR announcer, so this must be 'Aya'. WGNR—that's 'Gensokyo News Radio' isn't it? Way up on Yatsugatake? “I realize the importance—if their existence is substantiated! And they are who who they say they are. Yes I know what I said on the air this morning. No that is not flip-flopping! Flip-flopping is—” «I see her now,» you whisper. The speaker is off on your radio for obvious reasons, but you told Ren to listen anyway, as she has an uncanny ability to escalate violence. It's something that got very ingrained in her upbringing, ever since you all got you Vault weapons familiarity training certificates. Just something you have to accommodate. «Black hair, black wings. Definitely a crow tengu. What I assume is some kind of jet-pack. No armor, except for a metal backpack. Only obvious weapon is a dinged metal bat. She doesn't have a CB radio, but she has a Pip-Boy.» You don't need your radio to hear the tengu's end of the conversation, as she is yelling in to. She is obviously frustrated, which would be why she's practicing her swing during the lulls: “No I don't think Wastoids and Tewi are reliable sources! I don't care if her circuit runs on time, she cheated Satan out of her soul by selling it to another devil! Yes, I know that's stretching the truth. It wasn't Satan, it was Moloch, and I know that because I ran the story!” She's not looking in your direction, but it would be hard to hide if you got any closer from this angle, and you can't see your belongings outside or near her. You can hear the Village Radio playing from inside the diner. “Oh, so someone comes through, kills a bunch of ferals, and then heaps them up like so, and that makes them civil fucking servants?” «Ren. I don't see our I stuff, but can hear the radio coming from inside the diner. I'm going to check it out.» There's no back door to the diner, but the windows in the rear are as completely destroyed as in the ones in front, if smaller and in a more traditionally residential style. You have to throw your jacket on the floor deaden the sound of the glass and so that you don't hurt yourself. However, if you got stuck, you'd look really dumb. Well, it wouldn't be the first time. Though the window is a tight fit, you don't get stuck, and enter the building atop a brushed steel stove. You don't knock over any of the perilously-arrayed trays of pots and pans in the mostly mostly part of Alice's Restaurant. The stairwell leading to the mostly-destroyed loft is to the left, the dank restroom is ahead, and the charming bloody hand-print is on the swinging door to the right. “No, it wasn't a hack-job: blunt trauma, gunshot wounds, and two look like they were boiled to death? No casings. No, Mo, I'm not going to take the bullets out! Find a goddamn coroner if you want them!” «Ren, I'm in the kitchen,» you report. «I don't see our stuff here. This woman apparently can't modulate the sound of her own voice. Going out to the diner.» With the radio playing, and her conversation If you ducked and pushed the door open, she wouldn't see you behind the counter. Crouching you slowly open the kitchen door. But even if she couldn't see you, she might still be able to see the door swing open. “Both high caliber, one near point blank, wadcutter given the size of the exit wound. Either a different gun or the same pistol—one lacks an exit wound. Now, if you follow the trail of blood into diner...” You stop breathing. “Yeah. According to my Pip-Boy's spectrophotometer, there's still gunpowder particles in the air.”
[ (☝) Max passed his Sneak check! ]
You start breathing again and ease the door shut behind you. Why doesn't your Pip-Boy have that functionality? YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT A SPECTROPHOTOMETER IS. No, but I'm looking it up as soon as I get home. Peeking your head around the counter, you spot your stuff. Sitting atop a window-side table opposite the counter. Not far. There's what looks like a red batting helmet with no obvious identifiers sitting next to a box radio is on the counter, playing the Village radio, loudly but it's not as loud as she is. She may be partially deaf. In any case it provides partial cover as you move around, for that, your thanks. “No, we don't need to call in the Souhei! I thought we were an independent outfit!” «Despite her sounding like a forensics expert, there's no chalk outlines or police tape.» You stand up well enough to see her, but not so well you couldn't run away in a hurry. She's still not looking in this direction. All right. The duffel and the briefcase are the most valuable, and the survival gear is probably replaceable and would make a lot more noise. So those in either hand then run back into the kitchen. “Yeah, so—“ Go. Go. Go. “What happened? My best guess?” Got it! “As in my professional opinion and capacities as an award-winning, investigative photojournalist?” It's a good thing she likes to talk. Otherwise, this wouldn't have been so easy and Ren would be shooting and Mary would be screaming— “There was a FIREFIGHT!” Two gunshots. You throw yourself down to the diner floor with only the duffel in hand. “No, Mo, I did not discharge my firearm. Twice. Had to be some other highly irresponsible crow tengu. Probably imitating something she saw on the holovision once: Yes, 'Holovision Is the Culprit'! That's the title of my next exposé!” She's definitely armed, but still sounds relatively far away and hopefully not getting any closer. “No, Mo, I haven't been ab-using Psycho. That stutter wasn't a stutter! Because I bust my hump covering the stories—you think anyone is any more into this stuff than me? Do you know many other tengu who are willing to go out into the Wastes unarmored where any yahoo with a gun could take shots at them—“ You have maybe one minute before Ren runs in and this degenerates even more. “Give me 'time to cool off'? I have a better idea! I'm going to cover a news story, and you're going to disc some jockeys or whatever it is you think you do for a living, fuck you, you talentless, tasteless, bourgeois hack!” If she were using a phone, this would be the part where she slams the receiver. Zero-to-nuts in fifteen seconds. But you might be able to work with that. Very calmly get up from the ground, dust yourself off, take the jacket off, get seated at the nearest booth. Not the one with her helmet, since you need the room. The sunglasses off too, you want to look as inoffensive as possible. Hat is fine. You can't be considered 'indoors' when the doors are mostly gone. «I am not dead, and she isn't shooting at me. You there?» No response. Well shit. ”Dai, I'm going to try to salvage this. I need you to put my voice on all possible frequencies, add some gain & gravity.”
(☏) Max is attempting to broadcast over all radio channels... ]
You were worried that she would still in a foul mood, but after loud warbling and warping, your voice comes through your own and 'Aya's' Pip-Boy loud. “Hello, friend. Are your friendships experiencing turbulence?” And as smooth as silk. “Did you get shot down by someone important to you? Or maybe your career is not taking off the way you planned?” You couldn't even hear 'Momizi' before, but your voice comes out clear as crystal. It even starts fighting KVV5 on the box radio. She hears it, and her head is spinning like a fat kid in a candy store. She's still got that gun in her hand though, so you draw an equilateral triangle in the dust on the table. “Well, when it seems like the rest of the world is taking a nose-dive, don't burn up on reentry! Consult with our crew of professional Vault-engineered 'Personal Technicians' and we'll get your life in working order. The Vault ⑨ PT Corps: You'll be flying again in no time.”
[ (☝) Max passed his Speech check! ]
She sees you. Wave. Triangle. She doesn't wave back, but she does start running—no, bounding—yes, bounding toward you! You can't even finish your triangle, before she almost overshoots the doorway, saved by her left hand the door frame. Triangle. This also has the convenient effect of orienting her toward you, though sidesteps back to the doorway. The baseball bat is left in the literal dust. Until she puts her gun away, it's not absolutely safe to tell Rem & Mary to come out, but they probably will anyway, even though they probably heard more of her conversation than you did. How many is this? Seven triangles? She must note your Vault ⑨ jumpsuit, and your idle and apparently empty hands, followed by recognition of your Pip-Boy. Despite her silence and her 'guarded' body language, her curious red eyes glitter like well-faceted rubies. At the door frame, she looks like a cartoon character behind a tree not wide enough, regarding you with almost comical suspicion. The gun is some matte black deal with a bunch of attachments that doesn't shine no matter which angle you might look at it. Same color as most of her skirt, which is so short that on a rack it might be mistaken for a belt, if not for the pleats and worn, white lace. A blouse that looks like a Hawaiian shirt soaked in kerosene.
Of course, rather than reporter's curiosity, her eyes might be glittering because she's high on Psycho. You don't have any personal familiarity with the substance. Kids didn't run the stuff to any appreciable extent in the Vault, for a multitude of reasons: a drug education program with an uncharacteristically low concentration of exaggerations & outrageous lies, genuine fear of organic brain damage, psychotic aggression, and the chem's uniquely insidious delivery system. “For an aviator, you show a curious lack of situational awareness.” If it isn't a chemical oversight, that tengu ninja urban legend may in fact be just a legend. Triangle. “Huh.” She stows her gun down in its thigh holster, exchanging it for a steno and a blue pen in the pockets of her vest, and starts clip-clopping over. Her red single peg geta point to the single most important part of her appearance: The woman has legs like a staircase. “But hey thanks for watching my stuff for me!“ “Uh, you have any siblings—brothers maybe a few decades older?“ Don't dignify that bit with a reply, “Why don't you have a seat over there?” She sits in the booth across from you, pen & pad of paper in hand, above the table. OK, maybe asking the winged woman in the jet-pack to sit down wasn't very well thought out, but hey that slouch looks habitual enough. There they are now, but how to introduce them? You could just let things run their course. Triangle. “So are you prepared?” You ask. “For what?” “One of our armed interventions!” “You're armed?” The woman immediate reaches under the table for what is probably her gun, looking at you crosswise. “As much as I'd like to do that scene in Star Wars at the Cantina, I'm not armed.” The woman visibly relaxes. “But they are.” It takes three triangles for her neck cranes and her red eyes capture 'they'. A mean-looking brunette with a really big gun. And a sour-looking blonde with a bloodstained iron club. Mary is just imitating Renko's expression—adorably—but the woman doesn't know. “Reach for the skies, Black Feather.” That's... an odd turn of phrase, Ren. “Yeah-hey-woah-okay! Just take it easy!” The hands, pad, and gun go up. At Alice's Restaurant, today's special is... crow. Yeeeeah. KEEP THE SUNGLASSES OFF IT DOESN'T WORK. Damn. The -1% rad resistance is probably going to end up killing you now. “Let's not be trigger-happy! I have caps! Well I used them to buy Psycho. But I can get more of either! Well, no, I may not have a job anymore, but... in theory, I have much, much more! More bullets. More food. More purified water. A lot more oil. A whole lot more oil. But the gun is mine! I looted the gun!” You can see Ren's muscles tense. You sympathize; never before have you felt the urge to cold cock someone with the butt of your gun. That is curious, since other than the cursory familiarity training any Vault ⑨ citizen receives, you've never used a rifle, let alone owned one. The thermoplastic laser rifle doesn't count: That's not a gun, that's a toy. “So... what is it?” Ren breaks the silence. Triangle “What-what-what is what?” “Your shooter.” OK, she's not angry. Just excited about getting to see a new gun. Triangle. The crow carefully (but shakily) dangles the handgun around her finger by the trigger guard. “It's an M1911 stripped-down .45 Springfield Operator with a reflex sight and this really cool camera attachment on the botto—“ It's only going to get worse. “No. Shut up. First conversation today with another person, I won't allow it to be about guns. Ren you can put that away, you've made your point.” She does with a sigh. “You too, Miss Reporter. No, not the notepad! The gun!” “Ay-yaya!” And she does. “That was a joke!” The speed with which she changes her disposition is a little frightening. “Right. Um, Mary... you were terrific.” “Was I?” She's looking for praise, but she stood there slapping that uncomfortable thing against her palm for almost a whole minute now. “Yes, you were. You really looked like you were going to smash her head in like you did that feral.” And she giggles. God. If she weren't wearing that shugenja outfit, she would be twirling her hair. “But you're all just...” The crow's hands lower, and she starts taking things down again. “How old are all of you?” Playing with her pen as often as it touches paper. “18.” Mary. “18.” Ren. “18,” you add for completeness. Triangle. “What about you? Twenty-something, going on thirty-nothing, checking your nose in the mirror every morning?” The crow's brow furrows, jotting your answers down, which you can see from across the table is in some kind of nutty shorthand. “Crow tengu don't age past this point and only the daitengu grow long noses. So you killed those ferals outside?” You must look pretty un-intimidating. Maybe the connotations associated with authority develop differently when most of the population are under five feet tall? Triangle. “Yes we did! You two can sit down now. Thanks for all your help.” Mary slides in next to you. That's OK. As long as she doesn't fuss with your doodling. Renko shrugs and walks over to the green display on the counter, flicking her lighter. “I'm going to try to salvage something from these Pip-Boys. Max, I left the rifle leaning against the door,” she says without back. “Thanks, Ren.” “So that thing outside was or wasn't a sacrifice to some eldritch abomination?” You can see it in her eyes: She is completely serious. KALI MA! KALI MA! KALI MA! Don't know if Novgorod could be called an 'abomination'. 'Anomalous' definitely and probably 'aberrant'. Triangle. “We're trying to summon the Overseer of Vault ⑩.” Don't encourage wrong ideas, Mary. The woman mouths something that could be 'Margatroid' as she's writing. “Is that what it was? I thought it was a rather clear message for other people to stay away?” “It wasn't very effective.” For a space cadet with a glazed over look in her eyes, this woman is pretty good at pressing your buttons.
Thank you so much for this (probably unintentional) birthday present! If there was one thing I wanted that this board could provide, this would have been it (okay, Ran writing again would be better, but only just).
Maybe this is what I get for being the only one here to remember your birthday (>>119742 )?
It must be, because you finally made a point of making a point of the serious problems facing this little group of three and their relationships to each other; something that I think many readers have kind of been ignoring, underplaying, or hoping will disappear, and I've been against doing that from the moment of Dai's "maintaining a threesome" speech.
This isn't to say it's doomed, or that Dai is 100% right in all things, but for all her growing instability, her summation is probably pretty accurate.
I realize you aren't done with the update yet, but I hope you'll see this and know that at least one person is fucking ecstatic and insanely happy with your choice to update today.
You catch yourself from scowling and draw a triangle instead. “You're right, ma'am. Mary, why don't you go purify those corpses?” No, sulking will not save you. “Anyway, Miss...?” “Shameimaru.” “Miss Sha-may—” “Shameimaru. Aya Shameimaru. News correspondent for WGNR!” “Nice to meet you. My name is Max. Max Rockatansky.” “Hi, Max.” She shakes the offered hand. “I guess you're too corporeal to be a side-effect of the Psycho.” She looks annoyed at the soot it leaves on her. Strange. Her gray blouse looks like it might have once been white. She certainly smells like gasoline. Maybe that's what goes for cologne in the Wastes? “Who are the other two?” She continues. Mary! She can't hear me. The girl incinerating the corpses...”
[ (۩) Mary prayed with her whole heart! ] [ (☯) You have gained +4 Karma! ]
Aya's gaze follows your finger toward Mary outside who is indeed incinerating corpses. “...is the shrine maiden of Vault ⑨, Maribelle Hearn. Her focus is fraud, extermination, B&E, and, uh, handles our religious needs as well.” “I see they don't build them any different inside the Vaults.” “It's pretty funny you say that, because—“ Her name and her DNA. “Well, that's her business.” The crow gives another glance at the girl and shrugs. "Anything else you can tell me?" “The cowgirl sitting at the holoterminal is Renko Usami. She specializes in electronics, firearms, knives, combat medicine, and surviving in the wilderness.” Got to pad out these descriptions so that the crow doesn't paint you and your friends as too easy of a target. “In the Vault she was a legendary gang lord known as the 'Black Lotus'.” “Yo.” She raises a hand but doesn't look over. Aya looks over to your girl typing on the terminal. “Gang lord, huh?” And turns back to you. “You have gangs in Vault ⑨?” “We have a large population. The administration is competent, and security is capable, but over 200 years, we've done away with much of the Vault-Tec indoctrination. A lot of people have different views on things. Renko had the view that the Overseer didn't deserve all of her limbs.” You can hear the typing stop.
[ (☝) Max passed his Speech check! ] [ (☯) You have gained -10 Karma! ]
But Aya can't. “The Overseer couldn't have liked that. Did it actually happen?” You have to judge her face for a moment before you realize that she's not asking if the lie happened, but if the Overseer lost her limbs. “No, in fact, I had to save her from her, Renko meaning,” a little bit of amphiboly there but not a lie. “I don't want to talk about myself before I'm done introducing the other two, because they are more important." Ren gives an amused grunt for your false modesty. "For Ren those wild days are far behind her, and now she works as a gunsmith and a butcher! The g—“ “Whoa, whoa, whoa. A butcher?” Yeah. Guess that one is too big for even this bird to swallow. Even though it's actually true. “Do you guys raise hogs underground or something?” “No. You see, even if Ren is or was a violent criminal, she's actually very intelligent and rolled right through her education with little effort. Until she met up with the G.O.A.S.T.” Ren groans and pulls down on the brim of her fedora. “Ah, you know, thinking back those 200 years, I ran up against the G.O.A.S.T. myself when I got my Vault GED. Nevermind.” Aya waves her hand. “Her job training has actually helped her. Knowing animal anatomy and all.” Ren chuckles. 'Snkt!' says the Toothpick. “Oh. Well, she would fit right in with some raider outfits, like the guys haunting the War Memorial.” Aya shudders. “I'm no good with interviewees that want to eat literally me. As opposed to the sensual sense. Yeah.” She's really good at stopping conversations in their tracks. Maybe that's just her style of journalism, keeping two-way conversation to minimum, and getting one side to say as much as possible? “Uh, well, Renko's more interested in the killing process, not with what we do with the bodies afterward. That's Mary's forte. Mary is—”
“Right here.” Tapping on the battered window frame. Then she clunks her clunky cosplay hat right on the table! That was like five triangles! You stand up. “Aya, get up. We're moving.” “Uh-huh, where?” She follows suit immediately, putting her green Sharpie® and steno away. Momentarily. Because you just move down to the next table. The one with her batting helmet, but also with plenty of free dust. “Here.” “Oookay. Whatever the Vault-Boy says.” Damn straight. Triangle. “Hey!” But Mary doesn't take the hint and walks over too. Still outside. Even though the door was right there. “So,” she leans over the windowsill, draping those wavy locks over everything. “I ought to hex you, Max, but I'll forgive you...” 'Because I want to look compassionate for the newspaper.'' She turns predictable to Aya. “...So, my name is Maribel Han, the 'Ha' like '八' and the 'n' like '雲'.” “That's... an interesting reading of those characters, but your boy here said—“ “Hold on, I'm not done. I'm a shrine maiden!” She stands straight up and claps her hands. “Gassho!” very solemnly. Then it's back to the bubblegum-snapping cheerleader schtick: “I was born on the Vernal Equinox, March the 20th, which makes me a Pisces in the Tropical, Sidereal, and Solar calendars! My blood type is O∻. My chief interests are calligraphy, world cultures, and Japanese literature. I consider myself Shingon Buddhist, though obviously there are Shinto elem—wait, you stopped writing After a few seconds of incredulous staring, Aya collects enough saliva to voice her concerns, “What on God's gray earth did you just say?' “Shingon Buddhism. It's a uniquely Japane—“ “No, no. The blood type.” Aya flips a new page over in her steno. “I said, 'My blood type is O∻'.” “Blood type oh-what?” She slaps her hands over her ears and starts looking around warily. “The Psycho? She whispers to herself, before deciding strapping the batting helmet and hiding would be safest right now. After having largely rebuilt the damage Mary did, you intercede. “Aya, you can get out from under the table. It's not your Psycho; it was just an arcane tic. Mary has an innate bounded field: It's a personal-range bounded field that responds to similar emanations and give her unparalleled sensitivity to borders, but it can swaps words sometimes or makes her otherwise unintelligible. She doesn't hear it, we can't predict it, and it cannot be suppressed.” You recite the description Miss Ellen gave you, why Mary just looks stunned like Miss Ellen. She's be out of it soon. “Gives her the able to detect borders outside of her own passively, but sometimes you just can't understand what she says.” Miss Ellen is very familiar with this magic, because she has her own innate bounded field. It's why she does not age nor turn into a metahuman from all the magical radiation she exposes herself to. “I haven't ever heard of a bounded field with legs.” She's too busy writing to make eye contact now, but you're sure the crazy suspicious glint is out of them. “And I've been around a long time.” “I'm not bullshitting. This is on the word of Ellen Aureus, who I understand was a respected archmage in pre-War Gensokyo.” Mary now looks sullen. Totally deflated, which was sort of the point. “Yeah, well I'm not the only one with a weirdo defect. You were born with a tail!" "Hey, don't talk about my tail!" "And Renko... Hey, Ren! Do the thing with the watch!” “I'm kind of busy right now trying to get us into—“ “Usami, you're going to be getting into deep shit if you don't perform!” Yeesh. “Well, I guess that's fair,” Ignoring Mary's non sequitur, Renko probably secretly wants to show off her creepy time thing. She thrusts her Pip-Boy up in the air. “One, two, three, four, five,six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen...” “What's she doing?” Aya asking in a hushed (for her) tone. “She's telling time. Look at the watch on your Pip-Boy.” The three of you tune to the 'clock' which is essentially a blown up digital watch. They both read exactly the same time, because all Pip-Boys have an atomic clock inside and are synchronized before they leave the factory, even the different models. Aya's ⑫000 model is slightly different in appearance from your ⑨000, with a white instead of green display, and it has a cleaner interface. You didn't get a close look at the Margatroid Sisters' Pip-Boy, but you can be reasonably sure they say '⑩000' under the char, and that the yellow glow in her Renko's lap. They do all complement each other nicely color-wise. The collapsible antenna on Aya's rig and the knobs labeled ＳＰＥＣＴＲＵＭ, ＺＥＲＯ, and ＢＬＡＮＫ are shady looking and probably an after-market addition. The watch reads the same though. (⌚) 3:59 PM JST “...fourty-one, fourty-three...” “OK. So she can tell time to the closest minute? But we can't tell what the seconds are.” “Yeah, but look at the blinking pips. In the middle. See how they all blink at the same time?” "Yeah?” Mary just stands there, reveling in some imagined victory. “...forty-... (⌚) 3:59 PM JST ...nine...” (⌚) 3 59 PM JST “...fifty...” (⌚) 3:59 PM JST “...” (⌚) 3 59 PM JST “...fifty-...” (⌚) 3:59 PM JST “...one...” (⌚) 3 59 PM JST “I see it! She's in exact cadence. Correcting for the number of syllables and the length of each syllable.” “Yeah, and here's the kicker:” “...fifty-seven...” (⌚) 3:59 PM JST “...fifty-eight...” (⌚) 3:59 PM JST “...fifty-nine...” (⌚) 3:59 PM JST “...four o'clock.” (⌚) 4:00 PM JST “See, it's not just precision, it's accuracy too.” “Alright, that's a little spooky, but I've seen a lot of weird shit.” “But that's not all!" You're left to validate your own shudders at the secret powers of the Black Lotus. "Renko, where are we?” “On Earth.” She goes back to tackety-tackety on the terminal. “Our Blue Dot.” Oh, so it's this game. Fine, you'll play along. “Where on Earth?” “We were always at war with Oceania.” “Where are we... in geopolitcal terms?” “In Our Country 'Tis of Thee.” “Where in our Sweet Land of Felony?” Of thee discuss-ing.
“In Imperial Japan. The American Empire, not the Japanese Empire. That ended when we dropped 'Little Man' on Hirohito's head in Tokyo.” “Hey, that bomb saved a lot of lives!” Mary butts in. “Then why did they have to drop Fat Boy on Kokura?” Ren's just pissy because the world lost a lot of Nambus that day. “Because America. To be absolutely, teeny-weeny precise we're Gensokyo, incorporated into Yatsugatake National Park, in the Chuubu region, between Nagano and Yamanashi counties. Oh, we're also in Dead Magic Forest in Alice's Restaurant.” The crow looks unimpressed with Mary's geography lesson. Renko finally puts her arm up again to discourage the notion of legerdemain. “Notice, I have nothing my sleeves,” tilting back in her chair slightly. “Stop that, you ham. Just tell her our current coordinates." No matter how things go between you and Ren, even if you were truly trying to kill each other, she would stll tell you the time and the location. “３６° ４′ ５５.３４３４′′, １３８° ２４′ ３０.２０３４′′—check your Pip-Boy." Aya's brow furrows reading off the data. “That's four decimal seconds more exact that on here. This is a multiple-satellite GPS.” She talks while writes it down in her notepad, then sighs. “Now the mystic. Maribelle Hearn?” “I'm descended from Lafcadio Hearn—” “The historian? Really?” “It was apparently a very involved project, and I got lot of gene therapy." "She was essentially reconstituted from the genome of a father from central Ireland and a noblewoman from 19th century Kythira,” Ren fills in the information Mary doesn't know. "That's a really obscure isle in the Mediterranean. 'Noblewoman' probably means she owned more pigs than anyone else on the island." "Hey those pigs might still be alive!" Mary retorts. "Since it's so obscure and all." At least you had a mother, even if she died soon after I were born. “Aya, Mary was, like most of our generation, gestated inside a vat of biogel. Fairies reincarnate in those same vats, though as I understand it, the contents were slightly changed.” “I'm familiar with the stuff, but not the process or that particular use. Modern medical miracle. Saved this goose's neck more than a few times. Flight mishaps and not being so durable able the collapse of the Great Border. So are all your, uh, Vault citizens Cary Grants and Helens of Troy and Einsteins?” OK, you're not going to lie about this one. You like your Vault, but not that much. “No, not nearly. Most of the Vault humans are vat grown, that's true, but it's combining regular DNA. Sometimes from a specific nationality, sometimes mixed, though it's mostly Asian. The source of the germ cells are either cloned templates, live donor, samples already on file, or a combination thereof. There is a portion of the population who are allowed to do it 'traditionally' but that really just means artificial insemination from a live male. I hear it's so that future generations, when they actually open the damn thing, 'remember how survive being pregnant and giving birth. After a weaning period, where the wet-nurse gives the child their first and last name, all the children are then raised communally. Renko was born that way.” “And look how that turned out.” Renko bangs on the counter. She doesn't get along with the elder Usami. At all. “Hmm,” Aya is still attentive through the boring stuff. “Why artificial? If they need to, um,” reading your words back to you on the paper, “'remember how to survive being pregnant and giving birth' shouldn't they also also need to remember how to fuck?" If you had something to drink, you would be spitting it out now. It's not the word or the deed that surprises you, but with the woman's ability it say it and mean it with a straight face and without regard for the company present. She just sits there, twirling her yellow highlighter, waiting for your response. “Um, they can't. I mean they could in theory, but that would be... exhausting and the gene pool would become very shallow within a few generations. I'm sure some do, and in fact I know of at least...” You, Renko, Mary. “Three.” Well, you can't forget Cobbler Oda, that old rascal. “Four.” But Renko'a not like that Madonna song that is playing in your head manually. “Probably five. But except for women about to undergo 'The Procedure'...” Air quotes. “...contraceptive use is mandatory. Um." You're getting off track. "There are no men in Vault ⑨,” Ren says bluntly.
“No men?” “Almost no men. I'm a man.” Just in case there was any confusion. “I was born in vitro like Renko was. I don't know why really. The men, meaning. I thought that's just how it went in Gensokyo because all the important people in the Vault textbooks were women.” Aya chuckles. “That's because they were all written by women.” “You know, that's true, but I don't think that necess—“ “Kid, didn't you find a lot of other inconsistencies in these textbooks?” She regards you with twinkling eyes while chewing on the cap of her neon highlighter. “Yes, but to say that there was a systematic elimination of...“ “Adverse interactions between Gensokyo and the outside? Failures in Gensokyo's governance and the administration of it by Japan and the Federal Government? War crimes committed by Terra in the First Battle for Tranquility, even by people from Gensokyo? The attitude of the Japanese people toward their new conquerors, and later those in Canada and Mexico? The bloody Terrestrial conflicts between 2024 and 2065 over resources like oil, that bankrupted the Soviet Union, disintegrated the European Commonwealth, drove the Chinese and the Americans to open warfare, and culminated in fractured—“ “OK. Enough. Your point stands. Anyway, we're not talking about gender equality, we're talking about Mary. She's not just another generic Vault-Girl with poor rearing.” “That's right,” Mary misses the slight entirely. “I'm the Vault ⑨ shrine maiden, the first in generations!” “Why generations?” You don't know this one either. “Mary?” “It was cursed!” Is she lying? “The ghost of the diabolical Vault ⑨ AI!”
[ (☝) Mary passed her Speech check! ] [ (☝) Max passed his Speech check! ] [ (☹) Renko failed her Speech check! ] [ (☯) You have gained -10 Karma! ]
You have to hold back the laughter. This is payback, Big Fairy. It's seems Renko cannot, however. “What's so funny? You bullshitting me?” “Um, well—“ Mary starts off but you cut her off. “You cut her off, “Actually Ren is laughing because said ghost convinced one of the kids to take a dump inside her donation box.”
[ (☝) Max passed his Speech check! ] [ (☯) You have gained -10 Karma! ]
“Oh? Heh, that is pretty diabolical.” Aya buys it. “The AI thing is actually a common story among various, uh, Vault histories. And you are the one who dealt with the AI-ghost construct?” She points her pen at Mary. Mary glances to you for reassurance, but Aya is furiously writing things down and doesn't see this. You nod. She is totally ignorant of your extended, needless, geometric campaign of revenge. Triangle. “Yep!” She replies. “And you, Max, what do you do? Aside from teleporting out of nowhere and frightening crow tengu?” “Don't be a child; I came in through the window.” It's now pretty clear you won't need to drown her, but you put so much effort and magical energy into this, you got to do something with it—bitter lessons have taught you that the term 'mana burn' in the texts isn't meant rhetorically. “I see. So do you rely on your sex to get you everywhere you can't by skulking and fast-talk?” She's also kind of pissing you off. “No and I'll show you why in a second.” I produce the unbound manuscript of the Liber de Nymphis from under the leather jacket next to you, and start flipping through it. Twenty triangles in an icosahedron, which is a very watery shape. Plus today's date is 10/22/2277 which if you add all the digits together you get also twenty. YEAH IN BASE 12. Well it's too late to change careers now! WHAT IF YOU FUCK UP AND DRAW A QUADRANGLE. Then your face implodes. Enlarge and enhance magical imaging. And then Novgorod does whatever it is she does to your brain to make the quaint Platonic solids bigger and more colorful. “Are you still there, Max?” The crow reached across the table to waves her hand in front of your eye, violating personal airspace. You can see down her shirt. She can see the illuminations in the book. “Holy hell, what kind of fucked up shit is this? This is what you are, then? A sexual predator?” Not killing someone with magic is tortuously slow and infinitely harder than acting without legal and moral restraint. In the same way trying to drink from a fire hose is harder than using it fight fires. That's a pretty good metaphor for what you're doing. Also, 'phlegma' is also one of easier humors for living persons to acquire, but it's still pretty gross and you don't have anything to wipe it on. Of course material components are most effective when acquired from the target of the spell. This would have been way easier if you could use it with danmaku but summoning water inside someone doesn't lend itself to 'ha ha gotcha'. Before she puts pen to paper, you can sour any more note taking, and she'll only have what's on there. “I have a better idea!” You probably only imagine the ! above her head, but a person drifting off and yelling 'I have a better idea' in the middle of an interview while picking and then slamming a primer on elemental magic on the table covered in dust was probably instrumental in causing her to inhale so deeply. “ACHOO!” Phlegm on the focus! Chance!
[ (☼) The Liber de Nymphis emitted a glorious light! ]
“By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!” The proverbial bucket over her head is upended. Splash. “...the fuck?” Magic leaves the tengu with a wet head of hair. Ahahahahahaha! “Ignore him, Shameimaru. He's a dick.” Ren has a poor sense of humor. She didn't laugh the last dozen or so times you did this to her, either. “Yeah, he's getting a real kind write-up.” Aha. Seems you ruffled her feathers. But the paper is wet, so maybe when the Psycho high wears off, she'll forget about it. “Well whatever. I was hoping for more, really,” Over Mary's head, you don't add. “Considering how much effort—“
[ (☼) Max failed his Magic check! ]
Even more unplanned, another torrent of water is released when your concentration breaks, soaking you and your effects. “—I put in to it.” “Ayayayayaya! Justice? In the Wasteland?” Concentration loss is probably accounted for by the fact that you were looking down her shirt. “More likely than I thought. Originally,” you slap Water Sign 「Undine's Curse」 on the table, kind of angry at the failure. This gets her full attention, “I was just thinking of drowning you by summoning that water inside you lungs. Then Mary would dispose of your corpse like those ferals. By the conversation you had with your radio announcer, it's within the realm of possibility you'd push yourself or your equipment too hard or just up and leave town entirely because of your recent lack of employment. There wouldn't be a trace left.” It doesn't faze her in the least, “And why didn't you?”
“Because, despite your apparent troubles with propriety & chems & bosses, you seem like a perfectly reasonable and interesting person. There was chit-chat with the drunks in Myschi's—Misty's—Mystia's Bar & Grill, and the conversation with the taxi cab driver that was punctuated with a rocket launcher, and a question to a cranky vampire. Other than that, we haven't really spoken to anyone. Personally, I'm surprised at the lack of danger.” She got wet. You got wet. The board is cleared. No need for an apology, right? Right. IF YOU STAB SOMEBODY, THEN YOU STAB YOURSELF, YOU THINK THE OTHER GUY IS COOL WITH BLEEDING TO DEATH? A Satanic doll is your conscience? That's no good. You're blowing it out of proportion. You're a doll, when you're wet you get soggy, and that is destructive to your threads and junk, a lot like being stabbed. MY OUTER LAYER IS COMPOSE OF SYNTHETIC, WATERPROOF, SELF-CLEANING— You remove the distracting characters by blinking rapidly. You have real, live people to converse with. “Danger comes in many forms.” She slaps her own spellcard down, and quickly removes it from sight. It's in Nip, but you're the only one to see it. She's started to write things down again now. “You haven't run into anything besides those ferals?” “Well, a bunch of radroaches. Mary incinerated them with the laser.” You don't actually know what Mary did with them while you were playing Jenga with corpses, but they're gone and that's the important thing. “Tewi helped us out with some cherry picking youkai—did I mention the rocket launcher? Because I think that's really important.” “I'll make a special note of the rocket launcher. Anything else?” “Those feral fairies.” “Yeah, about that, bullets and the beating, but how did you steam-boil the other two?” “I did it!” You raise your hand, and lower it. “That's all me! I killed two and they each killed one!” Mary is too busy honoring the dead. Ren does not react. “Am I to guess you're the group leader?” “That or Daiyousei's pet secretary. I mean press secretary.” “Hi!” The transmission is clean. Too clean. “Crystal clear radio signal all the way from Vault ⑨ under Scarlet Devil Basin to Alice's Restaurant in Dead Magic Forest? Pretty cool! Is it a satellite relay?” “It's proprietary,” you lie. If lies were bad every time an old lie was treated as if they were true, then society would be filled with villains. “Huh. What's it called?” Aya sticks her pen at your card still on the table. “Deluge Sign 「Undine's Curse ~Lunatic」,” you lie. Again. Some lies are unnecessary, self-serving, or just flagrant. Which makes you slightly more villainous. Which is totally acceptable if that's your thing.
[ (☯) You have gained -10 Karma! ]
“And Mary's got one too.” You haven't actually examined it, but it's probably in Nip anyway. “My point is that we are packing serious hardware, even if it doesn't look like it.” “Your turn, Vault-Boy.” Oh, so that's how it is? You're not even a blonde. “...Any burning questions for a roving tengu reporter who has seen a lot of crazy shit?” She's trying to look disaffected. She doesn't pull it off, perhaps because her hair is wet. “Well, it's not technically in the Wasteland, but I think they're from the Wasteland: Do you get many giant ants out here?” “Despite being near the Pet Shop, no. It's hard for them to get around out here because of all the dead trees. They attack Vault ⑤ Village a lot, but Chiyuri's robots can usually deal with them. I've heard rumors that Scarlet it's become a big problem in the mine shafts under the Mansion.” “Mining?” Mary's come back inside. “Yeah. Regular mining, as opposed to the strip mining operation she operated before the Great War.”
[ (✍) 'Getting Shafted under the SDM' added to Quests. ]
“Why did she change to regular mining?” You ask. “To be more eco-friendly? Less manpower?” “A few reason, I think the risk of having her property collapse under her is the main one. 'Eco-friendly'? You actually meet any of them?” “Briefly. I talked to their gardener, who offered entry...” “That'd be Elly. She's an odd combination of being competent at her job while not being a total backstabbing whore who attempts to curry favor by climbing over the corpses of her coworkers.”
“Yeah, she gave me that impression. Are the other people at SDMC so bad? Ren caused a ruckus with their gate guard...” You pause in case Aya can supply the name. She does not. Nor does Ren. “...And 'Kurumi Scarlet' didn't shoot us with her street sweeper even though we interrupted her nap.” “40mm.” Goddammit Ren. “What?” “It was a Milkor 40mm grenade launcher. A street sweeper is—” “No stop it. If she shot it at us we wouldn't be any less dead. Now back to your clickity-clacking at terminal.” She does, with a grumble. “Yeah, Kurumi is a total bitch, but she won't fire on you without good reason. Remilia doesn't like 'complaints' and especially not regarding someone borrowing her name.” “They're not really related?” “It said she had a sister in the Guide.” Renko. “Where are you guys getting your bogus information?” You weren't expecting that. Maybe minor corrections and name fixes, not 'bogus'. “Aside these few interactions we just have what the radio is saying and Ajukyu's Wasteland Survival Guide: Gensokyo Edition.” “Well you might as well throw that thing away. It's dated. Her kid Akyuju is a much better chronicler. Helluva lot more spirited too.” “How dated?” And that's like the same name. “We got this thing like seven years ago. Ren, you know what date was it printed?” She shrugs without looking over. “It was missing the end pages. Thing was falling apart. 'S why Mary scanned it.” “She had last updated it in her teens...” Aya calmly takes the grimoire from its resting place in the middle of the table. “Still a kid, not too much older than Akyuju now, um...” And uses it to sweep the dust off her side of it. “...Two decades or so ago?” She can roll her sleeves up past her elbows to prop them up on the table. They're toned, but not in the punching-your-teeth-in way Ren's are, nor do they have the pure muscular bulk of Meira's. Rather they're the arms of a track runner: Developed unintentionally from working another part of the body.
[ (✍) 'Surviving the Wasteland Survival Guide' added to Quests. ]
You may need to get your hands on a new version. Or at least the errata. Operating on the bases of half-truths can be more dangerous than operating on no information at all. The who and where is obvious; you hear her on the radio all the time. “That's kind of inexact. Seems weird it was written by a kid, too. The print seemed pretty professional, from what little of it I remember.” “Tengu don't have the same obsession for dates as humans because we don't age; to us it seems like humans age very quickly as children but after than it gets a lot slower until they die. However in the Hieda line they're born old. Akyuju is probably more mature than you are.” She actually may not be trying to get on your nerves. She's kinda like Renko from the antimatter universe. Black wings instead of a mustache. “Do you always antagonize your interviewees so?” “I do when they play silly fey tricks on me.” She rolls her eyes. No, actually, she's probably just checking up. “I'd have surmised your friends were threatening me with cap guns and a Nerf stick, if not for the lack of orange plastic on the one and the unsettling presence of a blood stain on the other.” She puts the pad away. “It sucks writing on wet paper.” She still twirls the pen around her fingers. “Yeah, well, I figured a real journalist would have a holopad at the very—wait, you're giving up on the interview?” “No. I've been recording you on holotape the whole time.” That blank stare, like you should have been able to deduce this on your own. “Uh, OK, well, look, the point of that, uh, 'trick' was that even if we go into the homes of relatively unarmed fairies, kill them, and stack their corpses outside, we're all very, very human at heart.“ “You're human?” “Why is that surprising?” “He's not.” Shut up, Ren. “Thought you looked a little young for human-18.” “What am I, a fucking isotope?” She does not flinch at your anger. “Rockatanskitty, what are you if not human?” “Half.” There's no telling who might have been the friend or enemy of your mother up here. “And I am highly offended by the question.” “Half-what?” “Half-human. Dai isn't even that.” “Who?” “Uh...” Don't how an AI would be received. “You heard me before! I'm their radio handler. My name is Daiyousei. I'm a fairy and a goddess.” “Very interesting!” The woman brushes a strand of wet black hair out of her eyes. “Keep 'em coming!”
“One of our correspondents? There's only three people in the building at any one time! OK, four if you include Tenshi, but she only covers the weather, and only when she feels like it!” Yes, that was a rousing diplomatic success, but you were relieved of duty, Renko going above you and citing Section VIII of the Vault Behavior Code. Aya also expressed hesitation in taking your statements when Renko told her you were a 'sneaky little fuck' and a 'career liar'. For this and other reasons, you don't see the tengu banging on the box radio, switching channels like a canal lock operator on crank. You don't see Mary slowly trying to navigate a holoterminal using hunt & peck typing. You don't see Renko vacillating between yelling 'MOVE' at Mary, realizing her dream to become a movie star (or a superhero or whatever the fuck the 'Black Lotus' was supposed to be), and manhandling Aya's bizarre camera. This combination leaves your group at an impasse so complete and so stupid it's almost mystical. The fear is that in witnessing it in entirety, it would burst, leaving nothing but a sparkly haze and a red P block. So you settle for listening through the thin, presswood walls. "What ya got in the mail bag, lady? Newspapers?" "Want one? Catch!" Renko probably does. Then she screams, and there's the sound of metal hitting tile. Naturally you freeze, wanting to know if you need to intervene and what spell could you employ and why you can't hear Mary, but all that confusion passes in seconds, pierced by that idiosyncratic laughter: "Ayayayayayayaya! Sorry! It was a joke! Gets 'em every time! But if you don't want that one, I got all kinds! Pineapple grenades, ball grenades, stick grenades, smoke, tear gas, flash-bang, bang-flash, EM pulse, plasma, Nuka, a few sticks of dynamite, a thermal detonator..." SHE'S LIKE A WALKING INCENDIARY. You were trying to sell me a flame thrower before. I'm not buying you any explosives. "See they're they're perfectly safe! I learned how to handle explosives when I was at Tranquility embedded in Hakurei's Special Somethings Team.” “You fought at Tranquility?” “No! I was a reporter.” “How does a reporter learn to use a grenade?” “I had to do something! We all knew what I was filming and recording will never see the light of day, and if they suspected me of hiding anything from them during the debriefing process, they'd send the FBI to my door. An assault team with a search warrant to come inside with their dopy combat armor, smash everything, steal my Holoprinter, my HV, my guns, my grenades, my radio, my hologames, and my Simon & Garfunkel albums! Then you get the CIA sending a single well-groomed monkey who wears sunglasses inside, dressed like he's going to a funeral, but trying to catch the Gensokyo Monsters game at the same time. Now he has a search warrant and he goes in and he takes note of the mess and thinks you just destroyed the things he wants! He leaves a court order from a different judge to make a statement which violates the existing gag order. Now the cops get complaints from the neighbors about the noise and the suspicious men. They knew that the FBI was conducting an investigation in the same building, but it wasn't going to go anywhere if I left it with the Feds.” “Sounds like they were equally corrupt and shady, why would it matter?” “It matters because that FBI surveillance van was in my spot and had been for almost an entire week! I had to park two blocks down in the public parking lot! Probably. If I actually owned a car. Didn't see the appeal until flying came with a 'miles per gallon' stick. But it's the principal of the thing! I was able to get a patrol fairy to come down, and I wanted him to tow them. But he knew if he did that, his superiors would be all over his ass. So I told him how to do it in a way that absolutely did not connect him to it: Get the meter maid to do it. They already had five yellow slips on the van. Unbeknownst to us at the time an ATFL SWAT team is well on their way to my doorstep, because they got tips I was gun-running Lunarian surplus. Probably something to do with all the strange men with in bad suits coming to my apartment at odd hours.” “ATFL?” “Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Lasers, Mary. Pretty sure they regulated energy and conventional weapons differently back then. They also handled explosive devices & chemicals, and their disposal.” Renko, your sage and voice of reason.
“Yeah, lasers were nice and new and shiny and the ATFL wanted them bad. So, in their also nice and new and shiny black combat armor that was so nice, and new, and shiny that no one painted those big yellow 'ATFL' letters on the back or on any other part of their gear! Oblivious to the FUBAR situation gestating through the little slice of presswood, I'm yelling at the patrolman, who in turn was yelling at the meter maid who was yelling at the tow truck to get rid of the van, except the van can't be towed because it's double-parked by a SWAT van! That means the patrolman is doubly-flummoxed because he didn't hear anything about any SWAT in the area. “He opens the door, he sees that black combat armor crawlin' up in the stairwell and getting closer, he's heard the rumors knows what he's seeing ain't Gensokyo's Finest. So he radios for the better-armed GPD counter-terrorism task force. We do the obvious things: We stack furniture against the door and as much against the thin walls as much as possible, dropped the blinds, went to kill the lights, but the power was cut first. Certainly a shock to the ATFL because they're dumb motherfuckers who never thought of doing that in the first place. I was about half-done filling the tub in case it turned into a siege when the firing started. Who fucking knows who shot first, but I know it came after someone set off one of these 'stun' grenades right here. “I grabbed the ol' .45 in the potted plant, the only thing the Feds didn't search. Shame 'cause I really liked those daffodils. The patrolman didn't say a single word the whole time, just tearfully clutching his snubnose revolver. I fired off five or six, but hell if I hit anything. The shooting lasted for six hours. When it was done, 2,000 rounds of ammunition had been fired, and over 100 energy cells were discharged in the fighting. Half of my wall was gone, and there were sections that had fallen out of the central stairwell. At 10 servicemen killed & double that injured, it was the worst friendly fire incident that ever took place on US soil. “One thing it proved is that on a 1:1 ratio, a fairy operative in combat armor with a laser rifle will beat a human using an SMG and a ballistic shield in that same combat armor. Besides the guns, there's a combination of smaller target size, fairy regeneration leading to greater daring in battle, and opportunism—combat armor doesn't help nearly as much in the legs. I know all the specifics because the CIA prick's bugs picked up everything I didn't see. And things I did see. Like me shooting a downed ATFL officer in the knee. I wasn't looking real hard through the smoke, but I wasn't supposed to be owning a handgun anyway.” “What happened to him?” Mary asks, with some concern. “Who cares? He was a pig! The issue was that it's how the slippery CIA prick extorted me. He salvaged the investigation into an analysis of fairy/human combat and the relative utility of the agents in the other federal enforcement organizations. I was already involved in the defense industry, and not just as a reporter—” “You were testings rocket packs?” “Not quite, but I was definitely on the supply side! Anyway, this monkey's report, it sent waves. Waves that put fairies behind more serious military equipment. I was coerced into publishing a slightly different version of the story. The one I would give the senators when they did their own inquest. The one that brought me relative wealth for... a time. The fairy who was shuddering against my closet with a gun that still had the safety on? He's a hero who bravely and wisely treated what looked like a case of terrorism like it was a case of terrorism, radioing in support, and holding his ground against a rain of bullets to save an innocent photojournalist, who was in fact being 'harassed' by the F-Troop, who broke a whole bunch of laws, overstepped the boundaries of the mission of their organization, and got a lot of their own guys killed! No substantive evidence of wrongdoing of any kind on my part.” “Why was the CIA guy bugging you, though? That's not... uh, admissible, right?” “The CIA prick knew the truth.” “Because your 'Operator' wasn't 'permitted' or something?” “See... I actually was gunrunning Lunarian surplus, just not from my apartment. A side venture really, and probably a Bad Idea, in retrospect. So I had to play along with the CIA ape, who was doing what the CIA did best: cover up the truth. But I didn't feel too bad about it; lies aren't lies when they win you a Pulitzer! But you know the best part? Huff! Both the ATFL idiots and the FBI douche bag gets their van towed.” “Shameimaru, you said you would juggle. Away from me. But you pitched that one against the far wall. Close to me. Is it the Psycho? Maybe you're seeing your baseball bat in my hands? Well I don't gotta bat! I gotta knife!” Click. “You wanna see the knife?” “Chill. It wasn't even a lethal grenade, man.” “Then what?” “Chaff. Uh, looks like a dud.” I HOPE IT DOESN'T EXPLODE AT SOME INOPPORTUNE TIME IN THE FUTURE. “You mean you threw a live grenade at me?” “First I wasn't trying to hit you, I was aiming for right next to you, and even in the worst Jet crash or Psycho high, I would make my mark. Just I expected a bang and neat, reflective tinsel, and I guess another yelp from you would have been nice.” It would seem the effect Psycho has on the psyche expresses itself in odd ways.
“As far as that secret agent shit is concerned, it all ended up being penniless, sucked into the mouth of the Terrible Dogfish. At Tranquility, Sakuya Izayoi billed herself the perfect maid, so I'd figured she'd have some way to pass the time. Turns out she did: Teaching crow tengu how to juggle, on those carefree jaunts between the death field. I was able to come back to Grand Terra and Gensokyo, the true Umbilicum Mundi...” “Wait, what's a 'Pelican Monday'? Some kind of combat reporter jargon?” “Mary, it's Latin for 'Navel of the World'.” “...with having something to show for it besides horror stores, shrapnel, and overexposed film. Now here the tricky part. The stielhandgranates, if I'm pronouncing that correctly, require a different type of toss. If you look closely, I'm palming them on the head rather than the stem. Optimally you'd want the stick to arc vertical parallel to the greater arc. If you get it right, you can have doubly spinning grenades...” “Oh wow! Like having pinwheels on your pinwheels!” “Odd that they never found the sociopath responsible for her injury. But not too odd. I'm pretty fast. With a jet engine & rocket fuel. But I was fast, fast. SR-71 Blackbird fast. Maybe not Kompaku speed, but it doesn't matter after a certain threshold you move faster than the reaction time of any living thing. Rationally, you'd think 'OK there's no way I can fuck this up', which is exactly the point where below, directly below, many miles below, on terra firma, there is a woman in a maid outfit who smiles for your 1 billion dollar spy camera. At this point the rational thing to do is abort, even jettison, because you dealing with serious, reality shattering juju. Maybe that's where everybody went wrong? Maybe a smile was just a smile. And a maid was just a maid. Maybe Hakurei is the same way? No. Don't even think it, Shameimaru. That way lies broken bones and punctured lungs.” Uh, which is all why you're safely in here, glad to be looking through the duffel bag and Renko's knapsack in the kitchen, it strikes you that despite a rather lengthy window of opportunity, including at least one false start, you left the Vault with an absurd lack of preparation! Spare set of clothing. A grimoire. An ratty umbrella. Oil. Sunblock. Bug spray. A few flashlights. A lot of weapons. “...so correct me if I'm wrong, you drop grenades on people hovering far away to watch the aftermath?” “Nope! I need to get close up for that! There's a 3 or 5 second timer, so I can't be too high; I'd also need to correct for wind and that's a pain in the ass compared to dive-bombing. A skill I had to learn fast, but the results are immediate. Throwing a clutch of pineapples down on a pack of scum? Doesn't matter even if they see it coming. Still. I yearn sometimes for the safety of a whole ship when I was with the Department of War or even full flight armor when I was with the yamabushi. Particularly when I'm getting shot at.” Chems, cigarettes, energy cells, bullets, dollar bills, and various other items of a fungible or utilitarian bent. But no food? No water? Well, the latter you're working on. Admittedly this is a better application of your talents than wetting people's clothes. The portable stove is out and the burner is lit. Even if the local transformer substation was to some extent still operating, the electricity as well as the gas & other utilities supplied to the restaurant have long since failed. The taps only put out disgusting brown sludge despite what she said about it being less toxic than the jugs in the drainage chamber. But the pots and pans are serviceable. You weren't able to get Renko to part with her lighter on short notice, but in comparison to the effort required to concentrate large amounts of water vapor from the air, a spark to light the burners is nothing. You might not have bothered had Renko not insisted on proper sterilization procedures. Even if the air quality here wasn't so terrible, she argued, the surfaces of the containers would still be lined with 'icky things'. (Mary's words.) TL;DR: YOU GOT SENT BACK TO THE KITCHEN.
[ (☼) Max passed his Magic check! ]
That's the water. Not on your head this time. If Wasteland Autumn was anything like Vault Autumn Yeah. Just need to stand and wait for this to boil now. WHY DOES CONJURING A BUCKET OF WATER ON SOMEONE TAKE AN ABSURD AMOUNT OF PREPARATION WHILE MAKING POTABLE DRINKING WATER REQUIRES NO PRESENCE OF MIND? Because of the law of averages and ultradian rhythms and shut up I'm trying to listen in other people's conversations.
Goddamn, things went to shit in Earth even before its destruction. Good to have some info on that-and about the survival guide- even when it comes to the cost of listening to the story of the life of a stoned tengu.
Rituals, whether they be meditation, or a particular spell component, a bounded field, or a chalk outline, are more about conservation about magical energy than a person's absolute capacity for magical energy or his skill as a magician. (Which is why you were triangulating.) Theoretically, one of these rituals could trigger an increase in power or tap energy that person didn't know they had. Such change in its profoundest sense is called 'apotheosis' but cases of this actually happening in the literature are rare, and unheard of since the Vault door closed. And not for lack of trying, in gene alteration and training by one of the greatest magicians in the world. You are a product of it. Renko's time-location ability is probably the result of this one of those spontaneous magical mutations. Too bad she didn't bend her intelligence and skill learning toward magic. Without it, she can probably cast only some glowy balls, and that's with concentration. The chance of her ability being magnified. Another bounded field? What does it feel like to watching girls go at while those border, a shimmering neon film, each probing the other. Heh. Heheheheh. “...So what is it about Psycho that's worth losing your job over?” Namely between Aya and Ren, the latter of whom is riding a moral high horse fed fat on petty violence and Jelly Bellies. “Have you ever tried it?” “Well, no, but it's not like I've been looking for it.” “Jesus, kid. You don't go looking for Psycho: Psycho finds you, when it thinks you're ready! Anyways, I have an excuse—post-traumatic stress.” “So you did fight in the War.” “No. But aside from taking pictures, I was involved in the weapons development. You know what happened to all those fairy pilots whose Phoenixes that broke up in the vacuum over the Sea of Tranquility?” “No, what?” “Nobody really knows. Far as I know they were never heard from again. A lot people assumed there was maybe a lag in the process, like with the Fairy Trio. As I see it, being that dying in a war is a very human-like way to go, I think that they reincarnated in a different form back somewhere on Earth. The alternative, continual reincarnation in a void, is too horrific to entertain. I flight tested the birds they flew. I was freelancing as a test pilot and I got work from Nakajima–Rockwell Aerospace, and I think they were working with Bellcom for the engines, which was really the center of the testing.” “Freelance military test pilot? Wouldn't most nations be concerned about selling secrets to other countries? And wouldn't most companies be concerned about selling secrets to other companies?” “No, no, see, every country was scrambling to come up with weapons that could defeat the Lunarians. It was an arms race where the competitor was near the finish line but fast asleep. The idea is to beat him before he wakes up. So they helped each other—lend-lease between multiple military complex 'S's. Weapons plans were traded between states like homework answers between schoolboys! Incestuous, really. But to get back to what I was saying, minifusion reactor tech most was already well proven, and microfusion was to come not much later, but they were attempting to construct a Phoenix—which was very experimental itself at the time—powered using a magic-only reactor.” “I remember my history books,” Ren. “There were problems any time someone attempted to cram magic into a spot where they traditionally used science.” Renko yawns. “Are you doing anything constructive over there Mary?” She asks in a patronizing tone. “Yeah, I'm half-way through level 256 on Pac-Man!” Mary shoots back. “You had your time! I get to use it too!” “Sheesh. Whatever satisfies you. I have different endpoints for this journey.” Which is an uncharacteristically glib way of saying, 'It doesn't matter to me if we open the Vault or not.' “Moving forward,” Aya continues, in the same rushed voice. “It wasn't the pure magic like the brass wanted, but they were able to cook up a magi-fusion hybrid in time for the Tranquility launch. I tested it hard on three extended atmospheric flights and one harrowing exospheric flight. Months later it was on the assembly line for use by 'special populations' of military personnel, despite the fact none of the design flaws were corrected.” “Which were?” Ren. Mary is probably on the terminal and back to playing holo-mahjong.
“That 'harrowing exospheric flight' deserves the qualifier. I like fear! Fear keeps me going! It gives you more guts which you can use to rip and tear more guts! But when I reached L2 the lights cut out and the engine whiiiiiiired down? I screamed like a little girl.” “L2?” Mary asks, half-attentive. “Lagrange point 2. In regard to any two celestial bodies that exert significant gravity on each other there are 5 points where...” Ren seems to realize she's digressing. “Well it's midway between the earth and the moon, and acted on equally by either sources of gravity.” “Which is important why?” “If you're stuck there, you're stuck there forever. Aya, I'm assuming the problem was the lack of faith so far between either two planets.” “Correct! You are sharp as a tack Miss Usami.” “The Earth had way more population than Luna ever did; if we account for the degree of faith of Lunarians in magic compared to the average human, I imagine the 'wells of faith' would exert as much 'gravity' as Terra and Luna.” “An amazing coincidence. But I run into them all the time. The 0M was only ever fielded on Luna and fairies were selected as pilots because their 'magical' nature was supposed to help the semi-magic drive work better. It was bullshit, they were too ashamed to admit that the only way they can integrate fairies into the military were in highly racist 'fairy companies' and they gave them the test aircraft because their loss was seen as more acceptable, since they 'reincarnate quickly' and have no family, and a publicity stunt to hide the nature of the project: 'Oh we can't be racist, because we're giving the niggers the front seats!' There were a lot of instrument malfunctions reported by those fairies. They the job got done at a high cost. After the battle, the military decided to go with the nuclear-powered YF-0N.” This woman does go on. “...In the Kirisame Memorial there was a 'Battle for Tranquility' flight sim that could give you a taste, but God knows what's happened to it since that jigoku oni took over. Back to Psycho, if Jet is soaring into the clouds, then Psycho is like being in free fall. No force is acting upon you, and you just see things with such clarity. I used to be able to fly. Fly, you understand? These wings? Weren't just for show.” A lot of people could fly, as you understand it. Including most fairies. “And so... if you couldn't fly, you'd do the next best thing.” “What? No no, I was familiar with Jet & Psycho for decades before that happened! One of the many perks you get as an insider of the US military-industrial complex. They saw it as a way to inexpensively increase performance, I see it, I don't like being on the ground very much, so when I have to be, the chems make it less boring.” When you can't use jet power, use Jet power. Makes sense. “Aren't you worried about addiction?” “Well it's still working, and there's no problem as long as I don't stop using it. I think of it as a... sort of lifestyle choice?” “That's all very interesting, but it doesn't explain why you have PTSD.” “I've fought in a war or two. Maybe not in the last few hundred years, but I know what it's like, even if I don't remember it. Maybe it was 'Nam. Maybe it was Korea. Maybe it was one of the World Wars. I covered all of them, and there's really no way to separate the insane memories and the violently insane memories.” How old is this woman? “You don't remember? Lady, agitation, flashbacks, vivid dreams—those're the hallmark symptoms of PTSD. But even if you're shaking like a leaf, you're admittedly addicted to stimulants, you can't remember any 'wars' you fought in, and from the bags under your eyes, I'm guessin' you don't believe in getting much sleep either.” “Look, you fight in one, you fight them all! It doesn't make that little piece of you any less dead. War. War never changes. It goes on month-long benders, drops out of sight, becomes a Hare Krishna, hot-wires your car, tore out the undercarriage attempting to remove a manhole cover from the road to sell for scrap so it can buy more meth, starting the bender cycle all over again. But War never changes. “And I don't feel I have to justify my existence to you. I'm not entirely convinced you're not part of some new raiding outfit with a very good tailor, which, combined with a distinct way of stacking bodies, adds up to a pretty effective guerrilla marketing campaign.” Even without the drugs, the crow woman's grasp on reality is tenuous. “A-heh. Well, I have some skill, wouldn't say it's 'very good' skill—“ “Usami!” Mary. “The cursor is blinking at me weird! Fix it!” “You know even though Max issued a, uh, 'press statement' that I'm good with computers, doesn't mean everybody else has gotta be totally incompe—“ “You're gonna be good with being exiled from Vault ⑨ forever if you don't get this show on the road!” Jesus. Mary wasn't kidding about that 'coup' thing. Don't know how that's going to play out when (if) Daiyousei reestablishes herself. Grumbling is the heard from Renko, probably concerned with Mary's non sequitur. God, if Aya's low whistle can be heard in here, it must sound like steam train out there. She must be half-deaf from wearing that jet pack. One pot for drinking. Should probably boil a second to clean the radioactive dirt off your hands. Kind of odd that you're really not hungry at all.
It seems the the Usami-brand Anti-Radiologic Nostrum (patent pending) was more filling than expected. Or it could have been that meat from this morning? Or the fairies whose gore still stains the floor? Or the skeletons that still had hair? No. While they're certainly not helping your appetite any right now to think of, you had no visceral reaction at the time. That itself may be cause for concern, for some of them. Well, you probably have some time to distract yourself. A watched pot doesn't boil overextended metaphor. Okay, the sudden nausea is pretty distracting!
[ (⨳) Max felt sick to his stomach! Max cannot run! ]
Reeling, you steady yourself on the island behind you, which is a stable if architecturally suspect addition to what is otherwise a very conventional, retro-future, space-agey, burned-out chrome hellhole. Good thing the sink is nearby. It's not the radiation, right? It read 'nominal' a few hours ago. But who knows how sensitive that descriptor is. You wouldn't want to see it change from 'nominal' to 'invariably fatal' with little or no warning. Dai is supposed to be keeping track of these things, but between her fairy-menopause and Novgorod's probable interference— I AM NOT ACTIVELY SABOTAGING YOU. At this time. You told me to take the sunglasses off. It's that 1%! YOU ARE PARANOID. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean the AIs aren't in collusion with the Lunarians. MAYBE IT'S BECOME NEUROLOGICAL? ALSO: FAIRY-MENOPAUSE? YOU MADE THAT UP. First, subverting the insane but confidential ramblings of your tyrants to make them appear more insane isn't sabotage, it's enemy action. Second, 'fairy-menopause' is just what it sounds like—replace the hormones with pixie dust. “Dai what is the Geiger counter up to, and, uh...” Steady. You don't want to knock the pot full of simmering water onto yourself if this gets any worse. “...might it have anything to do with the fact that I feel like the floor of Tewi's cab?” “Well I wouldn't worry too much about it. I've had a lot of time to work with calibrating the detection systems in the Vault, even with the fairly clumsy tech in your Pip-Boys, you're capable of measuring background radiation in the form of α- and β-particles to hundredths of rads per second.” “Yeah if I wanted techno-babble I'd review one of Ren's old physics notebooks. I don't care about background radiation—what is the absorbed dose?” “You know on second thought I guess I really dropped the ball with the γ-ray... ray. Taking into account the radiation measurements, relative certainties about your mass, tissue distribution, the quality and amount of food & water intake, urination—yes, there I definitely made a tiny error in modeling the load the that would be removed by your urine, expecting a diuretic effect from Usami's cocktail. In short, you're two rads over.” “Two rads over what?” “Limits generally recognized as safe and eminently survivable. 52 rads total is a very Mild Radiation Sickness. Not even enough to call it a real poisoning.”
[ (☢) Max has acquired Mild Radiation Sickness (☣-10%,☠-5%,⇥-2)! ]
“There's apparently been a good deal of interesting literature written about the exact effects at varying doses in the post-War period. The only harm at your dose is light symptoms and complications that are, for the most part, largely theoretical.” “Largely theoretical?” “Just don't catch a cold, and you'll be fine.” LIKE THE 10% OF THE POPULATION THAT DIES. “Dai, I really think I need to see this literature. Pronto.” The Pip-Boy blanks for a moment, then it's replaced by a lot of text. “What is this?” “It's the corrected no-threshold model as reported in the Wasteland Survival Guide: Gensokyo Edition from empiric observations.” “Wait, 'observations'? Who recorded this thing? Dr. Mengele?” “Er, no... Hieda comes from a long line of chroniclers & historians. More to the point, the female experiment population was a single Mokou-no-Fujiwara. She's... a special case. I'm a little more worried about the unidentified male volunteer... or -eers plural.” “Well, whatever. Let me look at it.” The holoscreen on your Pip-Boy flickers on. Oh my.
That is an immense wall of text. “This explains some things, but what does LD-10/30 mean?” “You'd really be better off not knowing.” LIKE I SAID, 10% OF THE AFFLICTED POPULATION DIES IN 30 DAYS. Well, you have 29 days left, then. THAT'S NOT THE WAY IT WORKS. “Max? You alright in there?”
“Yeah just fine Mary! The water is boiled; you want to help get it?” You're not moving for a little while, and you still have another pot to boil for sanitation purposes. “Woah. You don't look so hot Max.” “On second thought, can you get Ren and tell her I need the Rad Away? Keep it down though, I don't want to show weakness in front of an outsider. Here.” Not fully understanding your reasons, Mary rolls those amber violets, but dutifully marches over to the burner. Probably thinks it's machismo. “Here, only touch the handle because it's still—“ She slaps a seal on the side, then hefts it up and carries it with two hands then out the door. Right, she was using something similar to refrigerate her alcohol in the shrine. After that, it doesn't take long for Ren to come in with the briefcase. “Hey, Maxey.” Clunk. Click. “Ren, I just don't know where exactly to put the catheter—“ “Relax,” she coos. “Medical detail is part of what I'm here for.” So you do relax. Slightly luminescent orange liquid in a plastic bag with a needle. Even more shady than that mushroom. More shady than Psycho? You'd have to experience it in person. This has no recreational value whatsoever with a pinch and then the sensation of fire radiating out from the injection site. “How long is this going to take?” “You mean in addition?” She asks wryly. “Yeah, and will you have to stand there holding it the whole time? “Gravity. I could squeeze it if you really want a bunch of burst blood vessels.” Well this isn't so bad. “It'll take like fifteen minutes, and in half an hour you will need to piss like a racehorse, but as to the state of things in general, I think our time frame is shot to shit. Aya, the crow, she says that you really don't want to stay in these woods overnight, because that's when the ferals come out in full force. Doesn't seem to be making her go away, though.” “Where do they even come from? Not too many residences in the area, and the War Memorial is occupied by raiders as I understand it.” “Vault ⓜ.” You're quite used to it, but Renko almost drops the Rad Away. “Yep, still in here! Hope you didn't take my attempt to utterly destroy you earlier too seriously.” “Yeah think nothing of it. Oh and thanks for taking care of Mary for. You sure did a bang-up job raising her.” “I'm going to set this straight for once in for all: The shrine cave does not have cameras. It does not have microphones. It's technically not even part of the Vault, so even if I were 'doot-beep-beep-boop' robot AI you seem to think I am, I still could not have known you were her fucking John! To me it seemed like a pretty cut & dried case of a love-hate relationship, not a fucked-up & seedy case of a lover love-hate relationsh—” “You need any help back thereeeee?” Aya. You can hear her leer. “No thank you!” There's actually very little chance of that the woman is actually able to overhear you, but it's as good a reason as any to change the subject. You voice, “Dai, the last thing we need is for that woman to print the actual truth, so if you're going freak out, do it quietly. Can you tell me what Ren and Mary's dose is? We only have one of these things.” “2 rads for Usami—“ “I check it fairly regularly.” “—and 7 rads for Mary.” “I check hers too. You want that I should do the same for you Max?” As if she needs to coddle you. “I didn't need this. Should have waited to get into Vault ⑩.” “And if we never got into Vault ⑩? I don't know how you acquired so many rads in this short amount of time, but don't beat yourself up over it. It will have a temporary effect on the rads you acquire up until the point you stop going to the bathroom, though it doesn't increase your resistance per se.”
[ (☞) Note: A Medicine rank of 57 gives Renko a +114% bonus to using Rad Away. ] [ (☤) Max's radiation has been healed: -109 ㎭! ]
“What are the side effects?” “Besides urination? Thirst. Nonspecific pain. And nausea.” God damn it. Guess that's why they don't use it to prevent rad sickness. “I'm glad you bothered to ask me to do it, though. Would really suck if you gave yourself an embolism.” “So, give me the messy truth: Is this going to work?” “What do you mean? This Vault ⑩ thing? The whole expedition? Our 'relationships'?' Because this is the pits.” “Ren, I'm afraid it's only going to get weirder. How is the crypto-whatever going?” “I know that if we don't crack this thing by sundown, we're leaving. Your fairy has the most invested in this, and I'm mostly in it for the adventure, but if we can't crack this nut then our reasons aren't gonna matter anymore.” “Are we doing that bad?” “Well, if we can't contact the Overseer of Vault ⑩ how are we going to contact the Overseer of Vault ⑨? This failure could set us back anywhere from hours to days to the rest of our lives.” Well, you got back into Vault ⑨ somehow. OK, you were kind of unconscious and bleed to death at the time. Ren's probably worried at whether or not the Overseer will heed the request. You can only hope that Dai hasn't yet decided to throw you completely to the wolves.
“After this is done Maxey,” slightly shaking the Rad-Away pack for emphasis. “I'm going to use that computer to find a back door into the Vault ⑩ mainframe, and attempt to contact the AI controller or the Overseer directly. If I can't, I'm going to pour through the files looking for the access procedure. You're going to chat with Feathers and pump as much information as possible while still acting like a civil human being. Mary... Mary is going to start thinking up exciting, new career opportunities.” “I can't think of a better better plan.” Dai is appropriately unenthusiastic. Until then you get to listen to very stimulating conversation between Aya and Mary: “So, um, why do you have a camera on your gun?” “So I can shoot people while I shoot people! I do a before and an after, I call it 'Gunpoint Journalism'! OK maybe that would I ran away from the joke. Anyway! This way I train two essential skills at the same time. Turns out actually trying to shoot someone with a bullet is a lot like angling a camera at them! The rangefinder on the camera is dual-purpose, and I use it to decide which way to fix the magnifying reflex sight on top. Putting a camera on a gun is a lot easier than putting a gun on a camera. That was a total disaster.” “Aren't you worried someone is going to mistake you snapping photos for taking a shot at them, then start firing at you?” “Oh, they were doing that already. I actually got a lot of scars from that. It's hard to tell which are from be shot at or being in too close proximity to an exploding grenade. Sometimes the bullets fragments travel before you can get them out, and once inside they the lead is indistinguishable from steel shrapnel. Let me see, I think there was one here, um..." You saw enough of her figure when you got her clothes wet. The black sports bra was unexpected, given the unholy length of her skirt—oh right, she wears a wind turbine on her back, and therefore would probably need extra support. Though that brings up the skirt all over again. So far, you know that she is perilously devoid of sensibility. Or has the sense and just doesn't care. "Please put your shirt back on Miss Shameimaru; I see your shrapnel wound. You were in the war, it doesn't matter which, and it scarred your body and your mind.” “Whoa. That's a poetic way of wording it! I usually get things like: 'The bitch is crazy' or 'You can't keep sleeping on the floor of my office Aya, it's scaring the cleaning fairies' or even 'You're eight weeks behind, Shameimaru! Show me some caps before I start pulling out feathers!'” “Yes, well, do you think you could talk to me about the 10%ers? You're from them even if you aren't anymore. You, collectively speaking, were mentioned in the Wasteland Survival Guide: Gensokyo Edition, but I really wanted a tengu's opinion." “Yeah, sure. First thing I can tell you is that they don't give two shits about what happens to the rest of the Wastes.” “Gah!” Ren's heard about all she can stand. You break your silence to ask Daiyousei a question about what Mary and Aya are talking about in the diner proper, “Dai, you couldn't show me what the Wasteland Survival Guide says about the 10% Nation, could you?” “Sure, Max.” The display turns on to show you a large amount of text. “You read this, Ren?” “A few times. Wouldn't kill me to review it, though. Aya said the thing was sloppy and poorly written.” “You haven't formed your own opinion? Even after You've been holding it for seven years!” “Don't get worked up about it. Truth is, uh...” She looks away and scratches her nose. “I forgot about it. I think I skimmed through it, but I was afraid of it being seized and get in even more trouble, so I sewed it into the jacket. It's got so much reinforcement fabric, I'd never noticed it since. We never talked much about the incident afterward, so its existence never came up.” “We were forbidden.” “Mary stared her shrine maiden training 3 years, 1 month after the previous Wasteland debacle, when we formally parted ways. I hung with you a little, after.” “I was at your sweet 16. You formed the Tunnel Snakes.” “You declined. That was when we realized we had no reason to stay in touch.” “Hundreds of people in the Vault, and ten times the number of fairies. Got to run with your own herd. I had a birthday too.” “It was the last time we three saw each other on friendly terms.” You pull her over by grabbing her round the side. Not fast enough for her rip out the needle, but fast enough for a slight sting when you brought your heads together. “I totally wanted to jump your bones then too.” When you're mutually in love the look in the other person's eye is spellbinding, and you end up like this, staring vacuously. You are educated well enough that the eye does not have a different physical look, but the muscles around the eye which have so many possible 'looks' that society don't have a names for most of them. Asakura once tried to explain how the 'look' affects the chemicals in the brain, but you lost her after that. “We can't do this here.” Kiss. ”Now.” Kiss. ”The thing I'm holding up.” Kiss. ”Them outside.” ”You could still sit on my knee make out with me.” She obliges. “Hey, you remember that song that was playing when I was stepping on your toes?” No interruptions because she's not focusing on your mouth. “We got totally wasted, How could I forget. We were playing Parcheesi. That Journey song started playing right before—ng, I don't know why 'kiss' is such a hard word to say given you're chewing on my earlobe.” Pair bonding can be destructive too. For example, in three-way relationships. Its problems are not predicted by the Standard Model. That means novel solutions often need to be made on the spot, but more importantly requires prevention of these problems, sometimes by making a preemptive strike. “That's what I mean.” Time for the game changer: “I don't want that to be our song. It's overexposed.” Ren stops trying to leave a hickey on your collarbone. “Wh—“ She can't help but giggle at your ministrations. “What do you think it should be?” “The dancing song. You know 'Ol' Man River' by, um...” You feign ignorance to allow her to regain some sense of control. “He just keeps rollin' on.' Sam Cooke, yeah, of course I know.” “That's our song.” “That's our song,” she says with greater confidence than before. “So if we, uh, pause the oral ministrations for a moment...” Something unrelated and decidedly not intimate, so that the experience isn't filed away as bogus because it was during a torrent of passion. “You read anything about the tengu?” “I read in her eyes that she was a dangerous fuck-up.” “I meant the tengu as a race, rather than Aya, though I agree with the sentiment.” “There might be something in the Survival Guide. It's on your Pip-Boy like mine. I think there's even an entry on Aya—”
“—Yayayaya! Why not ask the 'dangerous fuck-up' herself?” Aya climbing through the same window you came in, she's only half-way, which is enough for taking photos with her gun. Or you think they're photos, not some not very effective kind of rapidly flashing nonlethal weapon. She had the sense to take the jet-pack off, but she's still having a tough time. “You can come in General Maribel-yell.” Struggling to get her wings through the window frame, “I have captured the enemy agents!” Mary comes in riding a rolling plastic garbage can, slowly, but with enough momentum to clear the door. With the fan stick out the lid in the direction of the eating area. Her posture mimics some idiot Buddha. Or possibly a genie. “Sim, sim, sala-bim!"
[ (☼) Aya's Hauchiwa emitted a glorious light! ]
The garbage can suddenly speeds down the kitchen. Mary breaks her pose when her vehicle enters a dangerous spin that sends her, the can, and the fan sticking out of its mouth, careening into a fry-a-lator, dismounting Mary with a yelp.
[ (⨳) Mary is injured! -5 HP! ]
“Ow,” Mary whines. “Wow,” is Ren's reaction. Aya snaps a photo. Having these idiots working together in the future could prove to be extremely dangerous. I'm sorry for ever having suspected you of treachery. I can see now who my real enemies are. THAT'S WHY ALL MY FRIENDS ARE MUTE AND RADIOACTIVE. “What the hell is with the fan Aya?” It wasn't conspicuous earlier, but it just started glowing, and it's certainly not one of Mary's belongings. As far as you know, it's the same bamboo stick with patriotic streamers. “It's my hauchiwa. Hup!” Despite having clumsily lodged herself in the window, Aya drops to catch herself on the stove-top, and acrobatically touches the floor, only rattling the surrounding platters and pans. “It was personally gifted to me by the wind god Sarutahiko-no-Okami!” She trods over toward Mary, picking the fan up from the ground, then helps the shrine maiden. “Ugh. I guess our attempt at a solely magic-powered, self-propelled propaganda machine is a failure! Oh but I know who that is. He's a wind god! His major place of veneration is a Tsubaki Grand Shrine in Suzuka. In Mie county. It's an old shrine. Really old.” “'Mie'? That's what they called Ise province right?” Aya shows a paucity of knowledge in political geography, but this may not be so surprising if she had focused her reporting on local stories. “That's pretty far from here, uh,” Renko becomes momentarily confused at attempting to light a cigarette with one hand, but you have her covered. “Yeah. That's almost exactly 170 miles Southwest of Asa peak, not factoring in elevation.” Renko using her uncanny ability to sound like she's actually been to the places. Note: Find her a year 2077 Atlas for Christmas. “...It's well past Nanoya.” “It was a few centuries ago, before the Great Sealing, so,” Aya's attention is off the other people in the room. “I'm not exactly sure how or when. I remember the rush of the Isuzu River.” She appears to be placing chipped coffee mugs on the racks of a wheeled, steel serving dolly. “However, he is the chief deity of the tengu.” She starts arranging them all in a line. “Sarudabiko, Sadahiko, Sannou, Saruta the God-King. Lots of names. Lots of shrines. Lots of power.” “I thought you 'Per Centers' worshiped the god of Youkai Mountain?” Aya shakes her head at Mary's question. “Ay-Ay-Ay! Wrong! First of all, there's two gods of Youkai Mountain, Yasaka and Suwako, three if you could the Spirals' dead god, four if you count the main two's demigod shrine maiden, and six if you count the Akis, though with the seasons nonexistent I doubt they have any more pull than you do, Maribel-yell. No offense.” “None taken.” Mary finds a seat near you and Ren the counter. “So you don't follow any of those gods?” “Nope! But I've had regular conversations with Sarutahiko on Heaven's Butte, I'm proud to say. He normally doesn't show himself, unlike the attention-mongers.” You have to wonder how many of these were genuinely divine revelations. Or drug-induced delusions. “Heaven's Butte?” Aya has deemed the arrangement of coffee cups absolutely complete and takes a step back to admire her work. “Yep! It's a flat crag near Tengu Peak. Though it's a religious site, the 'proper' shrine of Yatsugatake is on Tateshina Peak, AKA 'Suwa-Fuji' and dedicated to all of its gods. That itself is nothing strange, since Gongen Peak, for example, is the most sacred site to Suwako, rocky crags and rusted weapons in the earth resembling some ancient battleground. My photos of it were widely printed. Kanako favors a more modern touch, the artificial Lake Shirakaba between Kuruma & Tateshina. Right next to the Shirakaba Light Rail and Tateshina Teddy Bear Museum! Over-gentrified if you ask me. The Citadel is obviously built into Tengu Peak.”
“Um, Yatsugatake has a lot of peaks?” Mary is out of her element. “Traditionally eight, but really a dozen or more because the Revelation shifted things about a lot,” Renko informs. “Aka Peak is the highest. Yatsugatake is properly the entire mountain range, which existed in the Outside before the Revelation. Mount Youkai is Yatsugatake with much embellishment, especially Aka peak, which made Yatsugatake the highest mountain in Japan. The other peaks are Amida, Nishitake, Amigasa, Io, Yokodake, and the ones Aya already mentioned. Amida is the one that appeared from a cloud, if I'm right.” “Correct-a-mundo! I get lost in Petrified Bamboo Forest without my wings? I want this girl with me. Amida is usually desolate, but it gets, or got, crowded during the Onbashira Festival. The reason for that over any of Moriya's barnstorming is that the Prismrivers put on one hell of a show.” “That's where their mansion is? Vault ③?” Renko asks. “Well, calling it a 'mansion' might be generous by Scarlet standards, but it is where the Vault ③ was built, a Poltergeist house cloaked in mists. The Vault is locked as far as I could tell, but there's always been rumors of people entering the grounds and disappearing.” Aya seems to framing to snap pictures of this still life she's constructed. “Back to my sweet wind fan, Heaven's Butte is on Amigasa. Really a plateau, like the gods came down with the big thresher and sheared the top off. Most tengu & kappa that have forgotten the old ways wonder why such an obvious node for magicks is un-utilized by the big cheeses.” “And you know the truth?” Mary kicks her legs boredly atop the cabinets. “Knowing the truth is one thing, but talking to the truth right in front of you is another. Others have had similar life-changing experiences. Not the same as mine, but some equal in magnitude.” “It's not a prayer site?” “No. There's no donation box. No bells to ring. No fortunes to read. No incense to burn.” “Then how does it happen? Activations of some magical trigger?” “It's a 'magical trigger' all right. You ever hear of something called Ayahuasca?” “I know where this is going,” Ren interrupts. “Aya, explain what the deal is with your fan already.” “I got it from a god. It was really awesome. Like tornadoes and hurricanes and freak waves and all that...” She takes aim with her gun-camera. “That thing,” she nods toward it, sitting on the island counter. She needs both hands for aiming. “It's only a replica. A good replica. Bought it at the Shirakaba gift shop! But it's still only a replica. I sold the original to Kanako.” “What did you need caps for so badly that you sold a priceless artifact handed to you by a god?” Aya pauses her nervous arranging to look at Mary as if she were a total idiot for asking the question. It has the effect of making Mary look back down at her geta. “Um, right.” Aya turns back to the scene she is carefully preparing “But I gotta tell you: You find things to fill the gap.” Then she shoots the hell out of it. When the ceramic stops flying, and the dust clears, she hasn't hit all of them, and it's at fairly close range. You couldn't count the shots, but it's probably more than the number of cups. In fact, it seemed as if it were more than that magazine could possibly hold. “Aya. What. The. Fuck.” Renko is not happy at all with the Crow's reckless, purposeless violence. “It's cool. I made sure everyone was out of the firing line.” Nor with her blasé attitude. “What if the bullets ricocheted!” She' being a little hypocritical for shooting up the jukebox before. “Impossible. I used danmaku.” Well, that explains the pastel flashes; with the suppressor it would otherwise have to be tracer rounds. “...Using actual bullets is important from an end-use standpoint to get a sense of the muzzle climb and recoil, and from a ballistic standpoint to judge effective distance, fragmentation, and penetration.” Aya's knowledge about weapons seems overshadow her actual skill: Many of the cups are untouched, and she can't be more than 10 feet away. “You just... I mean...” Renko's exasperation runs out of steam. The exasperation is exasperated. “Ren you're squeezing it, please stop squeezing it, ow!” You're not really in discomfort, but showing a person that their own body is betraying their anger, even if it isn't actually, is a fine way as getting rid of it. “Oh jeez, I'm sorry Maxey.” “It's okay. Aya, do you have any computing skill?” “Negatory, Rockatanskitty!” She's already begun arranging cups again, but gallery is more complex this time. Now you see it. There are no broken cups that haven't been fragmented completely, and the metal shelf is Swiss cheese. Even if she can't aim, her danmaku skill is high. “OK, instead of practicing your shooting, why don't you practice your pitch? You have a baseball bat, and a helmet. I and Ren need to stay here to administer this Rad-Away.” “Roger-dodger! Come on Maribel-yell.” “I guess I can set up some seals in the outer perimeter or something?” Mary doesn't sound very excited, but she may be best equipped to handle this woman. Or she'll do something stupid. One or the other.
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”Here's a weird one. All you listeners get out your tinfoil helmets: There have been scattered reports of a cavern or shelter somewhere in the Northwest Hinterlands near Mt. Osasa that—get this—turns into an giant alien spaceship. Now if any of you plan on checking this one out, it's a bit of a hike about 12 miles as the crow tengu flies exactly Northwest of Tengu Peak on Yatsugatake, near the Osasa Ski Resort. There's few passable roads, and direct way is route is mountainous, but on the bright side, there's plenty of hot springs along the way. The truth is out there people!
“My bad, that was totally a ball!” Thirty minutes, and a lot of runs to the bathroom later, you're sitting on a stool at the counter, listening to the box radio (in use for its volume and better receiving antenna) with a Hello Kitty band-aid on the inside of your elbow. Renko is computing. Aya, you're looking at outside the diner. The sun has gone down, but there's still enough light to see well. The stars are out and in full glow. The sky is clear, though the ground may be highly toxic. Mary is playing too, but you can't see her at the moment. Even if you have no skill or mind for it, baseball can be pretty interesting, because no matter where you are seated, no matter how far, you can always tell what's going on. Or maybe because seeing people play a game in a wholly open space much larger than a broom closet is a novel experience. Your time with Renko and the WSG:GE between bathroom breaks wasn't a bust either. You were able to rehabilitate your character (if not hers), and found out some new things about Alice and confirmed others: Alice's public personality was creepy but accommodating. She was one of the major brains behind the Vault project. She was the primary developer of the first automatous dolls. She's hasn't been seen outside the Vault since before the War. She did indeed live in the building you are standing, though the diner was a financial failure. (This is unfortunate, because apparently the cream of mushroom soup was really good.) She is the Overseer of Vault ⑩. Vault ⑩ is one of the smaller Vault, but no one knows how small. Vault ⑩ never really opened, but it has been leaking survivors since almost the date of its Internment, but no new ones in decades. The other survivors were entirely demons, though the facility was mostly worked by dolls. Some of these survivors work for Scarlet now, beyond the reach of even the most determined tengu journalist. The rest nobody kept track of. The theory that Alice was originally human before becoming a youkai through magic is widely accepted, though unsubstantiated. No one has seen Makai since before the War, and it is unknown if it still exists. Alice's mother Shinki was the goddess of Makai. Shinki is dead as a doornail. You don't know: Who or what the AI of Vault ⑩ is. If there are any other residents beside Alice left inside Vault ⑩. Why Alice hasn't emerged yet, assuming she is still alive. If Alice actually possesses the means to give Daiyousei a new body. How nice she really was with Gen. Kirisame. If all tengu are like this or just Aya. “Where's Mary?” Renko. You don't reply. She might not want to see this, and she would want to stop this. That's no good. Aya misses Mary's slow, underhand pitch because it started swaying like a drunk at the last second. “Strike one!” Aya is her own umpire. “The hell was that, huh? Oh I get it. A charm-ball!” Even with the drug impairment, it's easy to tell Aya's going easy on her.
I swear, this story is enjoyable, but often I have no idea what is going on. No idea who is talking, no idea if it's suddenly gone into a flashback or they have just had a scene change mid-paragraph, no clue in general.
“Max, I can hear Aya screaming off in the background, but where is Mary?” “Uh, outside. She said she was checking the perimeter or something.” Neither are lies, since she is outside, and Mary indeed said she was going to check the perimeter. That was 20 minutes ago, She may have been checking the perimeter earlier, but right now the 'or something' has become the focus of everyone but Renko's attention. Renko obviously hasn't actually turned around, because if she had, she would be flying out the door like a bat out of hell. HELL IS BEING STUCK IN HERE. A few more hours until Dai realizes the futility of this exercise, and we go home. Tough it out. “Don't you think that's dangerous, Max? Letting her go off like that?” “You're asking if what she is doing is dangerous, and yet we're letting that dangerous mutant hang around us?” “Strike two! Swing batter, swing!” “Yeah, who the hell is she talking to? Herself?” “Maybe she's trying to her old job back?” You suggest. If that's true, she seems to bond with the subjects she interviews in weird ways.“She's being loud enough.” “Swing!” Ping! “Out of the park! A hole in one! Or four in one! I mean fore! I mean fire in the hole!” Yes, watching baseball is pretty interesting. But watching a grenade pitched like a baseball, and then watching it detonate out of field, five seconds after being struck by a metal bat? It could be a religion. It explodes. Not the watercolors of danmaku, or a puffy cloud of chemical smoke, or the glittering specks of chaff. This is a concussion that causes the dead treeline to shudder, a roiling black and red cloud left in the air. If that was anywhere near Mary or Aya, the results wouldn't be good. It was pretty cool though. “What the hell! Are we under attack?” Renko has dropped to a crouch, one hand on her gun & one hand on her hat, she cautiously returns to neutral, likely noting your relaxed posture & expression. “Only our sense of self-preservation.” The ding in the bat and the shrapnel scars? Probably from trying to bunt. “I win! I win! Who's the man? Who's the man? Ay-ay-ay-I am!” Aya's fast, but Mary isn't running too far behind her. “That was the coolest thing I have ever done!” She gushes. “By your three idiotic smiles, I am to, uh, understand that you we aren't under bombardment by field artillery?” “Hey, don't bent out of shape, lady. It's not like it was your grenade!” “Don't be jealous of my wicked pitching skills, Usami." “And you Max?” “Hmm? Oh, no, I was just sitting here, drinking my coffe—“ Cough. “Thinking while coughing yes, and reading my newspaper, which I have conveniently scanned and stored onto my Pip-Boy.”
"Aya, what exactly was the... bomb you just set off?" Ren doesn't make many IEDs, but she can't help hide her interest. Especially when the object of this interest might nearly have killed one of you. "I told Nitori I wanted something with 'oomph', aerodynamic, and retrievable in case I didn't get a kill. It didn't work right, because it was hard to make it sensitive enough to explode after dinging someone in the head, but not, say, when you sat on it. So I had her decrease the sensitivity of the contact plunger and add a timer to the fuse. So now I just..." She swings her bat for emphasis. "Crack 'em with a bat. High-explosive with minimal fragmentation, meaning you don't need cover to use them safely. Excellent for smoking raiders out of ruins, since if the resounding overpressure doesn't kill them, it'll topple the ceiling on their heads. You can use it to clear walls too, safely if you danmaku it." "Why danmaku? You could just step back." "Well, you know," Aya counts the toes on her silly geta, "I'm not bad with explosives by any measure. I'm actually multi-talented: bats, bombs, bullets, a judicious use of chems, and I've read a lot and seen a lot over my lifespan. However, most of it is a clever application of danmaku. Before the Border collapse, I was... well, I don't like to toot my own horn, but I was goddamn invincible. A lot like Hakurei." The stars in her eyes twinkle out, "Except she had actual magic behind that danmaku, and I had nothing but a wind fan and centuries of sin, so now she's the governor of Japan and I'm a junkie, outcast freelancer that even the other outcasts won't associate no friends no family no property thirteen hundred years old and nothing to show for it useless useless..." You're tempted to go pat her on the back (wings make it difficult, but at least she's without the jet pack now) to console the tengu hunkered over on the ground, picking at the ground. But she shoots right back up on her own, giving you, and Renko sitting on her stool, a start. "But you! You!" She jabs at you with her finger, before coming closer to put the side of your head between her hands. She's taller than you (albeit with those shoes), and from that grip as she's shaking your head like a wrapped gift box, she's quite a bit stronger too. Renko has already armed herself. At this range, a single shot from her Nambu with drop this lunatic, even on Psycho. But she draws the Mateba to make absolutely sure. None of this phases the Crow: Who knows she sees in that world. The hands trail down to the lapels of the leather jacket, "Max!" Sucking air between her teeth, maybe like she's about to free-dive, "Remember:" whispering first, "You're my #1 Man." Then a terrible cackling, "YAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAYAYAYA!" She shakes you about. "You! You are my meal ticket! I do not only have photos in the field, I exclusive interviews with more scheduled, along with photo publication rights! I have a non-compete on publications related to future Vault-related endeavors! I have a personal inventory of all of your equipment, and have licensing fees for all Vault ⑨ tech as well as...” She's done shaking you around. “...and for the film rights? Well, ah, I'll stop there! Geeheeheehee!” That is actual froth. Truly a monster. You sigh, straighten your collar, and pick up your hat that she knocked to the ground. “Is that why you're acting like you're on cloud ⑨?” “Yes! And it's not just you I'm thankful for, Rockatanskitty,” She turns to Renko. “There's Ren-Ren.” “Aya, if you touch me, you enter a world of pain.” “...And I'm very, very grateful to: Maribel-yell-yell!” "You want to thank me, then please never laugh like the again." She's on the floor, lightly dozing. As usual. "Mar, what is all this contract business? Renko. “Hmm?” Lightly dosing. “You know... you shouldn't bet your soul on a baseball game. And... you shouldn't make bets with crow tengu in the first place. tengu? More like 'ten-jew',” she mopes. “Tewi warned us about shysters like you.”
[ (⚖) Mary failed her Barter check! ] [ (♿) You are under the effects of a magical contract! ]
Aya and Tewi seem a lot alike in more than one manner. Their jobs are the most important part of their lives, they both have addictions, they're both schemers, and they're both good with explosives & vehicles. The primary difference you can see is that Tewi wouldn't enjoy the fame Aya yearns for. “Ayayaya!” Aya stands above the prone shrine maiden, who can certainly look up her skirt. Neither seems to care. “Didn't they teach you in your prayer books that leading miko astray is a tengu's job?” “First of all, we don't have prayer books in Shinto. Second, there's no 'they' because I'm self-taught. Third, you still don't have a job yet, certainly not one harassing me. Fourth, frying youkai ass is my job, but you are as of yet uncooked. So shut up.” It seems she can get on even Mary's nerves. “Yeah, well, I sent you all information regarding the document using ELECTROMAGNETIC WAVES!” The waves of energy you felt just now probably wasn't the crude transponder on her Pip-Boy.
[ (✉) “Aya's Contract” electronic mail added to Notes.]
“I didn't sign shit.” Ren gets up from her stool. She will probably not tolerate loss here. “As Maribelly-yelly tells it, she took over executive function Vault ⑨ during a coup, and would ultimately have been given emergency powers anyway. I don't know how it is specifically in your Vault, but in all the Vaults I know, all powers are granted to the Overseer, the AI, and the Shrine Maiden, nominally the representative of the Vault deity. All other power is delegated by these three, except Maribel didn't delegate anything! And she took over the Overseer's position and apparently is acting in cooperation with the AI. So! She owns your souls, your lives, and all your property!” Renko's and your anger is directed toward Maribel now. Maribel who can't seem to get up on her own, nor stop that seditious giggling. Dai interrupts your plans for revenge: “Miss Shameimaru, Mary is mistaken. The Overseer has reclaimed her position in Maribelle's absence, and has created bulwarks against this happening again. Furthermore, the Vault AI definitely does not consent to signing over Vault property pursuant to the Vault Legal Code nine-dash-one-dash-two-two.” Good show Dai! The numbers are fake and the state of security in the Vault is less than encouraging, but a good show nonetheless.
[ (♿) You are under the effects of a magical contract! ]
“The hell?” It didn't work. “I don't feel anything.” Ren says, ignorant of the sensation of most magic. “Shameimaru, what's to stop me from putting a big hole in little your head?”
Because the only result would be Ren nursing the mother of all danmaku headaches. “It breaks the contract,” Mary. “Any malicious act or other attempt to obviate a mage's contract is punished.” “By what?” Ren is getting increasingly incredulous. Makes sense that a person who solves most of their problems with a knife or a gun has poor legal skills. You however are familiar with this particular kind of instrument. “By what's left of the Border,” Maribel pauses to gesture for Aya to help her up. She obliges. “Thank you. It's called a 'mage's contract' but it can also be signed by cleric and peasant alike, although the latter would have trouble drawing it up,” “You can even sign over other people.” Aya. “Little fairy, you're right that Vault property is controlled by the AI and that Vault operations and citizens are under the control of the Overseer, but: 1) They're out here now. Hugely different place. No longer in the Vault. No longer in the same dimension, bounded field, topology, whatever. It's definitely a different jurisdiction. 2) Since Vault ⑨ was due to open, you might say they're no longer Vault citizens, or at least no longer under the rightful control of the Overseer. 3) You can have the property. There's no dispute with your AI and material operations. 4) You can have them to fulfill your grand mission, or get shot, or whatever you came out here to do. 5) Finally! The Shrine Maiden signed the contract. As their religious leader, the state of her chattels' spiritual health are hers. If she says 'dig that hole' and she's working within the limitations placed by her gods, then they better dig that hole lest their little impiety sink their ship in the Sanzu The three of you can give your bodies and your belongings to Vault ⑨, but your souls belongs to me. Because your shrine maiden signed a contract pursuant to such.” Leaning against the counter, arms crossed, and smirking, she probably thinks she looks so cool. But your hands are tied.
[ (⚖) Daiyousei failed her Barter check! ]
Renko's aren't. You'd need high-strength nylon rope to tie those. “So what the fuck prevents me from putting a bullet in her head?” She also doesn't give two shits about the fate of her soul either. Mary intervenes by getting between the shooter and the target. “No, no. Renko, stop. She's just trying to lead you down tengu-dou.” Aya is unphased, one eye open, regarding her. “I don't even know what the fuck she just did!” “Ren,” you inform, “A mage's contract is like any legal document, except instead it operates on a rather complex utilization of magical law rather than under the jurisdiction of mundane or heavenly courts. The contract creates a bounded field that can be as large as Gensokyo itself.” More exactly, it utilizes existing ones, thought if the terms did not satisfy certain conditions partial to the the Hakurei Border, as degenerate as it is, the field would be operated under the power of either of the mages, and their combined skill would determine the complexity, size, and potency of the effects of the field. Furthermore, it would need to be fed a regular supply of magical energy. This constant power drain is in part why magicians build their houses over natural nodes of power. The ones under Alice's house have dried up, though the high level of magical background radiation in Gensokyo has prevented the magicks from failing completely. “Generally, it'd be easiest to put constraints on the application of force, since this is what the Great Border did best. This one in particular would probably return any intended harm on the part of one of the parties.” “Yep! It's nothing big. Just makes it very unprofitable for you to lock me inside a safe and drop me to the bottom of Lake Suwa, having had a lot of trouble with that kind of thing in the past. Speaking of safe, I don't know how long you guys want to stick around; that bang could have startled some ferals out of their sleep, and it ain't long until they'd come out anyway.” “I don't know how much longer we want to stay.” It looks like you're going to have to ask Mary what the actual terms of the agreement were for later. “Hard-sell much, Shameimaru?” “I get a lot of restraining orders.” Renko grunts, no longer as concerned. Probably because no one else seems to be. “If they're truly nocturnal, in this location on this date, dusk falls at precisely 6:50 PM. Past that point most animals cannot distinguish color and the those that rely on it, humans and other mammals, this dramatically reduces the effective distance of their sight. Assuming feral physiology are like fairies with a shifted day–night cycle, we won't see them before dusk at the very least.” Renko bites at her nail, a bad habit picked up from having a cigarette in her mouth at all times. She's probably started rationing herself in expectation of a long haul. "Tonight is a waning crescent. We won't have much moonlight, either."
“She's close about their hunting hours. Or at least how it used to be. Ever since the Yamato came to town, they're too scared to go out until the shelling is done, so your window is slightly larger than you think.” “Apart from being less likely to see them in the dark, are these fairies really going to be so much of problem?” Renko asks, yawning. “They'll actually be glowing like irradiated fireflies, but you should consider jetting before then anyway. One feral is nothing. Three ferals is a concern. Very quickly you're surrounded by an entire clan and a greater fairy gestures for you to engage it in single combat, and that's no treat.” “Greater fairy?” Ren asks. “Yeah. Human-ish sized, tough skin, improvised but effective armor, clubs, even a plank of presswood with a nail through it—I shit you not! I have the picture, somewhere in this satchel...“ While she's rifling through the bag, stacks of photographs spill out of it. Some bound by rubber bands. Others fall out of their envelopes. From what you can see, low angles, close ups, exposed flesh, she may be less a photojournalist and more a paparazzi or a voyeur. “I know I had it! Come on...“ The baseball starts bouncing away and the cylinder rolls toward your foot. It reads 'MK3A2 OFFENSIVE'. There's something offensive about this alright. “Aya!” Yeah, eye contact! But lower your voice so you don't sound unreasonable, “You know Aya, I believe you. However, it doesn't really matter, because we'll probably be meeting those mutant fairies in person in a bit.” “If you're that set on it, I'm not going to stop you: You're on a mission from God! Well, a god. Hey, could you kick that grenade over?” “...No.” “Ah-ya. Make me do all the work.” You step away from your stool so she doesn't invade your personal space when she does pick it up. “No matter how prepared you are, the critters are still dangerous. Don't care how good a caper on the paper you are; I'm not going to be eaten by a feral horde. Those greater fairies aren't to trifle with. Those scars and tattoos mean that they haven't died in a while. That means something.” That's actually somewhat insightful. “That bring another question to mind, Aya,” Renko. “Why are you still here?” “I told you. I'm investigative. I investigate. You want me to investigate off in the distance I can do that, but with only photographs things can be taken out of context. You probably don't want that.” “Yeah? What if we start firing on you?” “I can be discreet. I have a flash suppressor.” Pause. “It was a joke! Flash suppressor can mean a muzzle flash suppressor or a camera flash—you know, never mind, it's not that funny. You can't fire on me, since that's part of the contract. Now if you actually do coax Margatroid out of Vault ⑩, and I get an interview? Not only is your fame certain, so is mine, and I don't need to follow you around looking for news. Two things that the Wastes haven't seen in two-hundred years? I'm definitely getting my job back. But hey if that doesn't work out, I guess I could take you to the Mountain. You won't see the inside of the Citadel, but GNR is free & neutral territory. Sure I could probably only fly one of you, but...” Then fade to gibbering. You're starting to be able to tune her out, it seems. At least you got a temporary escape route for your troubles. “How are we doing on your end, Renko.” “I'll be able to show you in a second here.”
“Why didn't you try yours, Ren?” As far as you know, it should be all the same to the 'database'; none of you weren't born yet when the Vaults were sealed. “Hey, this is your bake sale, Max.” That's... an odd metaphor. “Our bake sale,” re-emphasizes the Pip-Fairy. That reminds you: “Dai, maybe your name be found in this database—“ “Shut up for a second guys, it's not done.”
Ｐｅｔｉｔｉｏｎｅｒ Ｖａｕｌｔ ＩＤ？ ［＃＃＃－(＃）－＃＃＃］
So it isn't. “Maybe if we just give it a valid ID hash, it'll give us the necessary credentials. Max, what's your Vault ID? I don't even remember mine.” “My ID number? 150-⑨-1195.” She can know what time of day it is without taking in any environmental cues, and yet she can't remember a single number that has been displayed on her Pip-Boy since she was 10 years old? “I'll just change the Vault identifier, then.”
You notice that the keyboard is kind of weird. The ones you're used to don't have a separate island for enclosed alphanumerics. Then again, you're not particularly good at data entry, nor are you some kind of cyber-sleuth or science nerd, like Renko is/was. Most of the locked doors in your youth responded well enough to shorting the electromagnetic locks; here such an attempt would be disastrous, so the idea of frying the computer in a fit of insanity only just barely enters your mind.
Ren whistles. “That's a long time!” Aya comments too loudly, apparently having wandered over to gawk. “Uh, how should we feel about this, Dai?” “It doesn't say exactly that it was or wasn't opened, but according to what we heard in the radio and what is in the Wasteland Survival Guide, the Vault was indeed open at some point, or at the very least there were survivors that fared better than those demon sisters.” Dai continues, “There is an active radio connection, though I can't triangulate the other broadcasting signal—” “Border traversal,” interrupts Mary. “Right. The signal is indeed probably coming from the Vault ⑩ demiplane. Miss Usami, could you press and hold SysRq, ⑩, and the Any key.” “Uh, sure, little fairy thing.” Renko has to strain her fingers to hit all three, but she does it, and there is a series of beeps from the terminal. “Some kind of back door?” The screen blanks out for a few seconds as the beeps continue. Then... ｡｡｡｡｡｡ ｡｡｡｡｡｡｡｡｡｡｡ ＲＯＢＣＯ ＩＮＤＵＳＴＲＩＥＳ® ＴＥＲＭＬＩＮＫ ＰＲＯＴＯＣＯＬ
“Well, that was easy.” “Next you'll need to gain privil—“ “You gave me root access.” Ren interrupts her with a wave of her hand. “I can do the grunt work on my own.” “Suit yourself,” Dai doesn't sound really sure, but Renko looks like she's into it, so you'll let her do as she likes. For a while.
＞ＳＥＴ ＵＳＥＲ ＭＡＲＧＡＴＲＩＯＤ＿ＡＬＩＣＥ
｡｡｡ Ｐａｓｓｗｏｒｄ ｒｅｑｕｉｒｅｄ： ＞＿
“Alright, something was mentioned in those audio logs. 'Sisters'?”
“Okay!” “Now what, Ren?” She swivels around on the stool. “Now I go through the files & executables and try to send Miss Shut-in Overseer a message. Now will you guys please back off? Especially Aya.” “Wait,” you are suspicious. “What have you been doing this whole time?” Ren rudely rolls her eyes and swivels back toward the computer, and speaks only after she starts typing again on the terminal, “I put my mind to use ripping and cleaning up the data in Yuki & Mai's Pip-Boys, making it into something useful: It's all on this cartridge here.” She hands you a holotape.
[ (✇) Margatroid Holotape added to inventory! ]
You take it. ”What is it?” “Found it in Mai's Pip-Boy, but it sounded like she only got half-way through writing the thing on to it.” “Why? Did she expire before she was done?” “What? No, writing as in writing the data. She definitely recorded the whole thing, found the rest a little garbled on the Pip-Boy. Cleaned it up and appended it to what was on the tape. As to the 'why', I don't know. It's a medium-size model, 1 terabyte, and that's more than enough to hold the data even in the sloppiest of encodings. Maybe she decided against it, or was unsatisfied with the recording?” “So,” you flip the the thing around in your hands, sort of uncomfortable to be carrying around a dead man's VHS. 'Last Will & Testament' is written in terrible hand with an indelible marker. “Um... what do...?” “You do with it? Don't give me that blank look, that cute Mary look, my heart can only take so much. You take Tape A, put it in your Slot B, and if you end up needing it, turn Knob C counterclockwise for a second, and it'll pop back out. This way, you can choose whether or not to let her know. I wouldn't give it to her, but that's just, like, my opinion.”
Boredom drives you to do dangerous things. Reckless things. Things like listening to absurdly self-involved yet glib politicians slash religious leaders.
“...Let us now talk of the great transformation when Gensokyo was first revealed to the rest of the world, as well as the great opportunities and challenges that came for our nation as a result. Since the rapid industrialization and commercialization of our Bordered Land in the early part of the 21st century, we have been changing the world with our power. Power as I refer to it may be divided into two categories: Magic, which can be subdivided into several disciplines like doll magic or elemental magic, and Science, which can likewise be categorized into various academic and applied fields. Magic is the fireballs and the ice storms, yin-yang orbs and persuasion needles, automatous dolls and shikigami, youkai and devas, demons and gods, danmaku and seals and boundaries. Science is depleted uranium and tungsten, smart bombs and cruise missiles, white phosphorus and TNT, crude oil and electricity, Vertibirds and variable aerospace fighters, mainframes and AI, bullets and plasma and laser beams and weapons of all kind. Our ancestors began in Magic, with simple animism and fertility kami, tens of thousands of years ago. Then three or four thousand years ago, at the dawn of what many ivory tower academics and pre-War career intellectuals defined as 'civilization', Science became dominant, with the more immediate benefits it provided, irrigating field and forging better tools. For the last century before the War, Magic had been playing catch-up with Science, which gave us the factories and residency complexes and the other destroyed infrastructure in our seemingly dead world, a necropolis testament to the lures of chems and holovision dinners. Two hundred years later, Science is a shadow of its former glory. The specialization it demanded and the complexity it entailed finds few living persons to understand or operate or rebuild. “But within this dry husk, the seeds of Magic had been already planted deeply, deeply underground, and they have since grown an extensive, interconnecting root system. Soon now the buds will come to bloom. Magic, once a statistical marginalization or mere artifact of bias and observational interference, has become universal and readily reproducible, so natural and simple a child can learn to use it. Out of our analytical understanding that we had once pointed toward Science, our command on Magic is still growing. Though set back by the collapse of the Great Border, understanding proceeds. Strongly. Inexorably. Magic will give us the power to create and reclaim the void left by the Science that grew to eat itself, using only our faith as the source of energy and our imagination as the source of material, rather than being some complex application of mechanical advantage. Our Science will not disappear, but Magic will allow us to without a critical need of either in any essential piece of our infrastructure. Magic can be greener, faster, more flexible, and less wasteful than than Science. Objects that once had to be manufactured can be thought into existence. Magic could supply us with our essential needs with far less damage to our environment, this fact can be understood just by looking a the scarred earth outside your window. A less-than-lethal but still effective tool of Magic is danmaku: A great equalizer in its heyday. Danmaku 'wars' played out against rolling his of greenery, bluer skies, whiter clouds. That, if our project is realized, will stretch across the Wastes, reclaiming our surviving populations that now barely eke out a living against a backdrop with a palette consisting only of rusty browns and grays. The unfortunate fairies and volatile metahumans will also be included here, though it will be some time until we can be of benefit to them. This is not to say humanity is free from vice; 'bad apples' like raiders and cutthroats are more a danger to the average Wastelander than ferals or even the most organized anti-human forces.”
“What I am telling you, my fellow Americans, is that Magic can fix the problems, bring beauty to warfare, bring faith to the disenfranchised, bring rehabilitation to the degenerate. I am not saying that Magic will necessarily do all these good things, but I am saying it can. If we work hard enough. To reap the fruits of Magic, not only do we need to understand it, but we must also fulfill the political and economic conditions that will bring the repopulation and reclamation needed to sustain it. We have need for a great moral imperative, a new Manifest Destiny, to justify the expansion of our project over ignorant peoples and societies that may first come to fear us. We have need of consensus in the public forum on multiple levels: Consensus on the state level, which I, your governor Reimu Hakurei, and my deputy Ran Yakumo, as well as any number of competent planners & support staff, are working hard, very hard to reestablish. We need consensus on the national level, the proper function which—despite all odds—has survived the War in the Enclave. Finally we need consensus on the world level, the countries of Earth, organized in a new, freedom-lead United Nations that the United States shall spearhead, to fix the broken borders of our planet, eventually coming to encompass—yes, it may seem distasteful now, but for our continued survival and expansion is absolutely necessary—Earth's satellite, the Moon. Vast deficits and inequalities created by one of the most notorious products of Science, the over-reliance on fossil fuels, must be filled by magical energy production. In order to achieve unity the world-over, we must start locally. The unique capacities of our people and the depth of our history finds us close to being consolidated into the 15th Commonwealth of the United States, as has been communicated to us by the government on the mainland, comprising a putative union with the state of Hawaii and various other unincorporated territories of Oceania. So you see, though the Transcontinental Bridge may appear to be in sorry repair, the bridge across cultures remains immutable and unmolested. “Neither Science alone nor Magic alone is powerful enough to bring peace and democracy to all societies, but Science and Magic working in synergy just might, and toward this end the Enclave endeavors forevermore. I will admit that Magic, like Science, has its dark sides. Diving into 'black' Magic that is only capable of killing or destruction cannot advance any society in the long run. Esoteric Magic that relies not on the understanding of those using it but the ignorance of those it is used against becomes impotent by education and merely by witnessing its use. Cultism with power granted by a false god or a delusional faith is particularly dangerous; we must likewise be wary any organization that creates zealots, no matter how benevolent and lofty their end aims appear to be. In history Science and Magic have been equal in their potential for ruination: If Science brought us the atom bomb and antimatter, then Magic brought false security, both for us in the Border and for them, the Lunarians, in their Veil. Beside this greater capacity for war, whether it be delusional or justified, Magic brings other dangers if we are too reckless in its pursuit. Bitter lessons we learned in the Vault project that deficiencies in faith could be lethal, resulting in the complete loss of intelligent, socialized fairy populations in the Vaults successfully opened. So we must not use magic frivolously or solely toward the end of creating some transformation, as the mistakes may be irreversible. That is the ultimate danger: The power to change the very nature of our humanity. This is why we have chosen the seat of our actions here, in Gensokyo, because this is where the greatest changes may be effected by Magic, where the greatest changes were made by it to begin with. It is our duty to ensure the changes to come will be for the betterment of us and all mankind. “Grand as they seem to you now, these are our designs in their essence Gensokyo. Perhaps more than overcoming any one hurdle or avoiding particular pitfalls, the charge for you, the great masses in the seat of our still greater state, is to have faith. The Reconstruction has already begun, but progress is made like moss covers stone on the riverside. Very slowly. “For WVOA Voice of America, I am your governor, Reimu Hakurei. Thanks for listening.”
Well, that didn't help at all. You are under just as much pressure to seek out unfriendly persons and electrocute them. Except now you want to do it in the name of America. “What a crock of shit! Any of you know a good word for a 'depressed mood'?” “'Despair'. 15th Commonwealth? What the hell happened to 14?” “Canadia?” Mary suggests. “Either that or Mexico,” Renko, “As to why they'd promote a territory straight to Commonwealth status before states like us and the Philippines, that's anyone's guess.” Speaking of destructive boredom, you probably don't really have to worry about Mary following the other miko into demagoguery, since she's using the laser to carve swear words into a support beam. The crow is still here of course. She's the one pacing and listening intently to the radio, word-searching and writing things down on a clipboard she pilfered from underneath the counter. Ren is still dicking around with the terminal. It's getting pretty dark out. Hope those fairies aren't looking to move back in just yet.
Man, I just managed to catch up and, suddenly, more updates! You're a monster. SO not complaining.
Although I'm a bit confused as of why did she signed a deal with a Tengu of all things. Is she drunk? Stupid? Or an amazing secret genius? Considering that she sunk her banter check, I'm guessing she just had bad luck as a side dish to her usual worse judgement. Finally, let me add one word sentences to show both surprise, happiness and anxiety: Enclave! Fuck yeah! silver tongue bastards are my cup of tea! Marathon! Fuck yes! Nightmarish vault under the control of Durandal? Let's hope so not!
Aya changes the channel for the nth time: “Sometimes I forget why I bother to run news at all anymore, then I hear that whack-job talking on the air. If I'm borderline crazy, then she is God damn certifiable. Cautioning against 'zealots' when she still wears those tacky priestess raiments. No offensive to the young lady in the hakama—she wears it better. Suits her. It very loudly states 'occupying force' and at the same time encourages you to drink more Nuka-Cola. Speaking of miko, what do you call a shrine maiden who's just started her career?” “'Broke.'” Mary probably isn't paying very much attention. “Hey! That actually works! The one on the radio though, black hair and ethnically Japanese features just do not coordinate well with monotone anti-flash white. The only reason Hakurei wasn't tried for war crimes is that the UN ceased to function as a coherent entity after the First Battle for Tranquility ended with 'we spooked the fuck out of those Moony bastards' and Earth's great powers decided that squabbling, brinkmanship, and imperialism were all more interesting than keeping an eye on the rabbits we burned inside their houses. I need to hear 'dawn to' used in a sentence.” “'Alice's Restaurant: Open dawn to dusk.'” It's approaching dusk. “Did we really do that?” You ask. “No, 'dusk' which is also 'twilight' but that doesn't fit. When a Lunarian dome violently depressurizes the positive local pressure is so great that not only are you thrown into the inky abyss, the air turns incandescent first. Which is not true combustion. In an actual firestorm, the internal pressure is negative, constantly sucking things in to feed a monstrous oxygen deficit. Tenshi actually did a really interesting piece on the pressure gradients inside a nuclear fireball. I'm going with 'night'. Give me need a fancy plural for 'boy'.” “'Lads.' As in, 'Fancy Lads snack cakes.' Now if you're not going to leave will you at least sit down? I don't even see you from here, but somehow you're still making me nervous.” You can sympathize with Renko, but the woman is a useful repository of information, even if she is wearing a trench into the tile with her red geta. “And while I'm on the subject of my migraine: Mary! Stop using the laser to burn your name into the roof-bearing partitions!” “Too late. I stopped. I'm so hungry,” Mary whines. “I want some Fancy Lads!” “Sorry Mary. I can magic water, but I can't magic a hamburger.” “Can you magic me a drink?” That smile could lead empires to ruin. Too bad she's asking for the impossible.
[ (⌬) Mary is suffering from alcohol withdrawal! (-1 CHA, -1 AGI) ]
“No. Can you 'divine power' me some sustenance?” You're still a little bit full on Rad Away, but it'd be nice to know that she can do it in an emergency. “I can damn well try!” Well, she's already got her stick pointed at you. With the other hand making gestures as part of some sort of incantation. Brace for impact. “臨, 兵, 闘, 者, 皆, 陣, 列, 在, 前!”
[ (۩) Mary prayed with her whole heart! ]
Whoa... This is kind of... nice.
[ (۩) Max's HP/MP are restored! ]
“Hey! I think it's doing something...”
[ But you're still hungry. ]
“No. Didn't work. Thanks for trying, though.” Mary groans and drops to the floor, which she can do protected by her odd clothing from glass & grime. As if to underscore this fact, she promptly begins rolling around. “And Ren, don't complain—I put your name on there too!” A date and three lines of (laser) chicken scratch:
２２７７ 八雲 真衣莉紅苺 蓮子 マックス
The middle is Renko, yours is the rough transliteration in kana on the bottom, which by process of elimination Mary's name is that sentence at the top. 'Maribel' isn't Japanese. Where the hell did she derive those kanji from? Or maybe it's simple graffiti? 'For a good time call Allison Wonderland'? “What does the top one say?” “2277.” When you attempt to read her expression to gauge how much of an idiot she is, she's grinning. A different kind of idiot. One that makes fun of you. Now that the situation classification has changed from 'tedious' to 'intolerable': “Ren! I'm going to start conjuring demons if you don't hurry this shit up.” “And then I will start banishing demons!” Mary adds, “Forming a vicious cycle of demon conjuring & banishing which will end up leaving us both magically exhausted and sticky!” That sounds pretty hot. Actually. “Yeah, well, my patience is wearing out too.” She is committing virtual breaking & entering in your name, so even if you don't understand exactly what she's doing, you still have the right to annoyingly stare over her shoulder. Cowboy Renko at her computer.
Ｌｉｓｔｅｎｉｎｇ ｏｎ ｐｏｒｔ ⑩ ｂｙ ＲＦ－ｂｏｒｄｅｒ ｔｒａｎｓｍｉｓｓｉｏｎ｡｡｡
[ (⚛) Renko passed her Science & Repair check! ]
“Finito! That's it. Aside from the break-in showing up on the logs, I've left rather obvious messages all over the place, including the Overseer's electronic day-planner. That it's even been turned back on should be enough to alert her. If we don't hear from her in like an hour, I'll replace the energy cell and stick it in a cabinet. We can come back tomorrow, and see if she attempts contact or is even paying any attention at all.” “Crackerjack, Ren,” Mary calls up from the floor. “But do you know if she's even alive in there?” “There are access logs for her in the Vault mainframe. Daily production by food processors. Statistical data of the inhabitants. Automated maintenance reports. Use load on the Vault water chips. It clear that somebody is alive in there, using her access ID, even if it's not her.” “And how is she going to contact us?” You ask.
“You've seen the Overseer's Pip-Boy, haven't you? She should have a data entry pad, the same as in Vault ⑩. But if she actually wants to communicate, rather than simply revert the data vandalism, she'll contact us on CB radio channel ⑩ which I asked for in the messages.” “Can she do that?” Mary still on the floor. “How do you think we heard those audio logs? It's a hell of a lot less power efficient than editing text files, so we'll get at most a few seconds before the cell cuts out again, but it'll be enough for a 'yea' or 'nay'. That's just our side; with an entire Vault powering transmission, there's no limit to the length of broadcast on her end.” “What's another word for a 'Western paradise'?” "楽園," Mary answers. “No good. Needs to be in English. Western.” “Wonderland. As in, 'It is a wonder land arable enough to farm still exists.'” Renko feeds, clutching at her stomach. Yeah, you all really must get on that food matter pretty soon. “What the hell kind of article are you writing?” “Article?” “Yeah. The one you apparently want us to write for you.” “Good gravy what are you talking about?” “If it's not a story, what are you jotting down?” “When you come down on Psycho, you really want to have something to immerse yourself in. I do the crossword.”
[ (⌬) Aya is suffering from Psycho withdrawal! (-- PER, -1 END) ]
Ren mutters something mean and lights another cigarette. That explains why she's been relatively muted the last, say, fifteen minutes. “You're a hell of a lot more bearable on the rebound, Miss Shameimaru,” you state bluntly. To be honest you surprised by how well she carries herself with her addictions, unlike Mary blubbering without her alcohol, or Ren getting catty without her cigarettes. Also surprised that somewhere there are people printing newspapers on actual paper. That stuff doesn't exactly grow on trees. Well, not in Vault ⑨, Every little plank of presswood is reused and repurposed. Renko's bark hunting might have actually been a good idea from an economic standpoint. Makes you wonder what the terms were of the agreement Mary saw fit to wager over a game of rounders. She's pretty business savvy herself, and a hell of a lot more charismatic, but perhaps not as canny. Mary didn't seem very disappointed, so could be to the effect of 'no shooting me while I broker your holofilm deal'. It's probably nothing to worry about—there's ways of escaping any contract. The crow provided an example in her own words: Vault ⑨ is 'a different jurisdiction'. “Yeah, well, this is around the time I like to shoot. Relieves stress. Part of why I'm hanging around while you kids are enjoying your snipe hunt.” “Oh. Could you do a portraiture?”
“I mean bullets, not film. Usually, I settle for hunting ferals in the dark, since raiders tend to make a lot less light at night.” “Is it really that fun for you, Shameimaru? I heard you this morning, calling the other tengu racist, but you're a bigot yourself!” “Dai!” “Uh, I still don't know how you keep hearing my conversations with such clarity, little fairy god-whoever.” She snaps back into her own Pip-Boy, mistakenly (but not unreasonably) thinking Dai has coopted her mic. “...But ferals are not fairies. And if you do come up here in person, make sure for the good of you and all your other kin that you never mistake the two, because if you do, others in the Wastes will too. And then they'll start shooting.” “You can't use semantics to justify murder.” Dai is seething. That's fine with you. Comeuppance for all that shit before. “Look, think back to the early days, when the idea of 'Gensokyo' was first coming into being as a place where the Eight Million Kami resided in only the most basal of physical forms. I'm not really sure how individual fairies retain their memories and personalities after they reincarnate so many times, but I got a funny feeling you don't know too much about it either. When did you come into being? And what were you doing back then?” It takes a moment. And then the moment passes. Aya takes this as an implicit victory: “I bet you a bottle cap on every syllable that you couldn't tell me, no matter how much you thought on it. Just like all the other fairies. I know a lot of fairy stories, but not one of them begins with a beginning. In Gensokyo's heyday, fairy social evolution was proceeding at a frightening pace, and it was my job as a journalist to feed the, uh, imaginations of the people—“ “You were a fearmonger?” “If you want to sugarcoat it, sure. So in the process of doling out Gensokyo's daily dose of terror, I took statements from a lot of your kind, the big names, like Cirno, Sunny Milk, Luna Child, Star Sapphire, the Lily sisters, as well as various lesser-knowns. Some gave me names, some were just nameless fairies, identified solely for the labor they were being exploited for. One trend I identified is that the mass, elaborateness of their wings, strength, control over innate magic, and, most importantly, intelligence—when all these factors were pooled, they appeared to be a function of the length of time that they could remember existing as a single coherent entity, though which of the individual traits are expressed varied greatly.” Aya's use of smart words piques Ren's attention but she stays as yet silent. “Memory was certainly more highly related to these values than the earnest 're-education' & 're-culturing' the humans put them through. Another trend is that, while not significantly related to total turnover, or current lifespan, the average time between reincarnations, that is to say, the inverse rate of turnover indeed significantly correlated to the length of time they could remember. I think that's how it goes. Don't quote me. Hatate's better on the statistics part of it. The results are legit, though.”
“How big was the sample size?” Renko, joining in with unnecessary technical jargon, “You said 'significant' but your study might have been underpowered.” “Over 9,000 participants. It was a mail-in.” By the crow's expression, she believes her case is ironclad. “But that excludes those who didn't live in houses,” Dai, calmer now than before. “The fact that we got many more responses than the number of households would speak against that. My point is, little fairy, that for most creatures in this world, as a rule, how long you survive depends on how smart you are. Capacity for learning is one thing, but most creatures can't pass on the fruits of that intelligence to a later generation, at least not in any appreciable manner. Fairies don't have this constraint.” “Fairies can't breed, that's im—“ “That's not what I mean,” Aya waves Ren off, “Not only do they pass on intelligence, they pass on their personality, to a next generation of themselves.” Deep. “So why haven't fairies all turned into a race of hyperintelligent supermen?” You ask aloud. “Their intelligence remained intact in the Vault, but they didn't get any smarter. Dai could tell you more about that than me." ｢ＦＵＣＫ ＹＯＵ｡｣ You can read her response on the Pip-Boy screen. Hahaha. A return to better times. "I don't know," Aya is deep in thought and if she noticed Daiyousei's textual aside, she didn't think anything of it. "I've been wondering about that since I learned your fairies survived. In the rest of the Vaults, fairies got stuck with labor. Skilled labor, but just labor nonetheless. In how many jobs in your Vault are fairies encouraged to form free ideas and innovative solutions to problems?" Dai is pointedly mute. You know the number is around zero. That's not as bad as it sounds, because it's the same for everyone else in the Vault. OK, maybe it's worse. "In the rest of the Vaults we don't know what would have happened because within the first five years they almost all died of VDS. And reincarnated in the Wastes. And consequently died many, many more times.” “VDS?” You ask. “'Vault Depression Syndrome', Maxey," your medical officer informs. "Equivalent to 'Fairy Psychodegenerative Syndrome' but broader in scope. For humans in Vault ⑨ it's just called 'depression' and is not commonly fatal.” “Figures the Fairy Vault would have a different name for it. Am I to guess you have a treatment that you want to share with the rest of the Wastes?” She drops the newspaper to get out her spiral notepad again, and ignores Mary's whine when it hits her in the face. “If it's more specific than 'convert their heathen souls to the light of God' it might prove highly important in shaping human–fairy–youkai relations in the coming decades.” Ren gives you a look, but you really see no reason not to tell her. “Sure. It's actually very simple. We gave them what being underground took away. Topsoil under the feet, natural—rather than distilled—water, the smell of flowers, and most importantly UV-emitting sunlamps.” 'The smell of flowers' is actually something the eggheads cooked up. It's a perfume they produce it in large amounts, then aerosolize and inject into the ventilation system. It's more subtle than it sounds. Bergamot & wormwood. Vanilla & hemlock. Life & death, maybe. You saw them mixing it in those large, heated vats on one youthful, unlawful excursion to the lower levels. “Clever! And intuitive! Reminds me of the way I treated my own claustrophobia in Vault ⑫. This will go a long way toward improving our understanding of VDS or FPS or whichever acronym you prefer!"
[ (☯) You have gained +100 Karma! ]
She puts the notepad away in a vest pocket. "... Uh, so, back to my story, in the old days, you know, normally as soon as a human saw a fairy they got popped. But things started changing,” “Mmm.... spell card rules?” Mary, on the floor, probably paying attention to every other word. “No. They teach you that in your Vault textbooks? The 'Spell Card Rules' thing was a total racket. It was created to reinforce the increasingly symbolic separation between man and youkai, for those one's who were capable of following these new rules, and in order to legitimatize violence against those who did not. Those who couldn't because they were too dumb or weren't involved enough in human culture to hear about it, they just got clobbered, and because they were expected to use these rules, they could not rely on their fellow youkai for proper revenge. If they survived. Shinki, who Hakurei fought just before the introduction of the system, was not among these lucky ones.” The Governor killed Alice's mom? That might be important. “What started changing was not just the different laws of combat, it was different laws of interaction. Your Overseer, Cirno did things that turned a lot of villager's heads. Fairies were capable of holding conversations, making simple tools, started wearing clothes of their own accord... it started as simple mimicry, but eventually they were developing complex tastes similar to that of a growing human.” You don't see how statistics explain profound changes in intelligence and personality, certainly not that self-evolution bullshit she was talking about before. “So explain why they all turned feral, again? In words any boy from a Vault could understand?" “Uh, err... OK!" Aya likes an active audience. "My theory is that for a fairy, the individual average lifespan of a fairy, meaning how long they usually go before another reincarnation, is connected directly to their 'humanness'. Now if that hypothesis is true, then reincarnating outside the Vaults in an extremely hostile environment where death might come in seconds, or instantaneously if it happened when the bombs were hitting?" "The failure of the Border greatly weakened their most intuitive tools for survival," Ren theorizing. "No invisibility. Poor magic. Worries about disease, hunger, and radiation where there might before have been none." "A general social failure in the other survivors. Especially the other humans," Dai, probably remembering Vault ⓜ. "A bogged down Heavenly Court," Mary mumbles from the floor. "...Add it all together, and I think you have a pretty air-tight case for explaining why ferals became feral. Any culture they acquired would have been flattened by cycle after monstrous, repeating cycle.” “'Humanity'? You're a tengu, Shameimaru.” Renko isn't taking offense at any actual inconsistency, rather she's just bored at waiting on the static green image of the terminal in front of her. You've migrated to the stool next to her. Aya is the only one still walking around. “You hippie Vault kids are all the same: You don't believe in the essential decency of the white man's culture.” She is joking. Probably. "Forgive Renko's incredulity, Aya. Now you said 'almost all'. According to your broadcasts, there were no fairy survivors from the other Vaults.”
“Not all of them, but almost all. A number take refuge in the Citadel,” Aya counts off on her fingers. “There's a fairy who does custodial work in the GNR building. Scarlet has a few fairy maids, but they only work inside the manse. There's been rumors of an 'intelligent' fairy in the Forest that serves as some kind of leader, and other rumors that the Enclave is fielding suicide squads to augment their dopes in power armor. There's none in the Village. The existence of intelligent fairies in the Wastes are something of an open secret, an anomaly, and it'll stay that way, because the first thing someone does when they see a fairy is take a shot. You see? It's just like back then. Bang! Forced to reincarnate. No chance to learn. The ones already intelligent will reincarnate with a greater fear of being seen out in the Wastes, and the ones who aren't just reincarnate as the same poor, sad, savage sons of bitches. It's a terrible state of affairs, really.” “Then why in God's name are you hunting them?” Dai's voice has begun to scramble with emotion, “Killing them will only make the problem worse!” “Who said anything about killing them?” Aya reaches down her shirt and comes back with handgun that looks vaguely like a Nambu with a really long barrel. “A different kind of hunting!” She checks the magazine, probably just to look cool. Shoulder holster explains the sports bra. “Nitori, my kappa friend, cooked it up for me. It uses the casing & powder from a .22.” She removes from the magazine a small... needle? “Tranquilizer dart.” She hands it to Renko, who is very, very interested. “Tiny little thing. But the Wildnil on the needle? It'll put down an goddamn elephant. Don't get stuck, it'll kill you in seconds.” Renko hands it back with a laudable amount of control. “I'm not worried, I got the antidote.” In a locked box. You know the combination, but she doesn't know you know. “Why use a drug so potent it's deadly?” “Because if it wasn't, I'd probably end up addicted to it.” “...” “Ah-ya, that was a joke! Truth is I tried diluting it, but the little guys just don't stay put.” “Yeah, I saw Yue 'sedating' the Overseer,” remembering the Overseer accusing you of high treason. “It really looked like she was trying to put her into a coma.” “Is that why she carries around hella-strong opium candy?” Mary's sleepy words rise very slowly from the floor. “Um,” she did only met with the doctor briefly, and you said you wouldn't narc. “I don't think that's it exactly, Mary. Aya, why use a purpose-made gun and not your 'Operator'? Seems redundant.” “The Operator is a .45—higher caliber, more propellant, more pressure, bigger bang, more likely to scare off other targets. Suppressors aren't perfect. Swapping the accessories and re-zeroing the sights is a pain, and in case I get blindsided in the dark by something that is actually dangerous, which happens more than I'd like, changing the tranqs for live rounds would cost precious few more seconds than just drawing another gun. It's not like I use two at a time. No offense to the girl in the spurs & poncho, but I'm no gunslinger. To me they're just tools to be used for a purpose. Not a way of life.” “Of course, you're a reporter. That's why you have cameras attached to your guns.” “This doohickey on the bottom isn't a camera, Rock. It's a laser sight. Puts a beam right—“ “Do not point that thing at me!” So she points it at Mary, who is laying on the ground. Like a slug. Oblivious. Oh! Like one of those green laser pens. The ones you can see. Shaky, though. “Wouldn't the shot be blurry if shot like that?” “I told you, it's not a cam—“ “I know. I meant if you were holding a camera...”
“Oh?” She turns the laser off, sticks the whole thing back inside her shirt, presumably turning the safety on before doing so, and hides her hands behind her back. “It's a slight tremor. From bad nerves.” She adds muttering, “Fixed by high speed film & diazepam. It actually give the shot a very artistic quality. More 'real' I think.” Renko snorts. Daisy-pam? Is that like lazy-pam? “Anyway, the dot works best in the dark, whereas a camera doesn't work at all. Without a flash. I guess a flash could stun them, in theory. But then you lose the element of surprise. And your own night vision. Even if you did order the eel at Myschi's.” “If you're not taking their picture, I guess you hunt ferals for target practice?” And what does eel have to do with anything? “Uh, no. If I wanted to do that, I'd use real bullets.” Aya invades your personal space to cup her hands and shout into the mic on your Pip-Boy. “I'm joking, little fairy!” Dai doesn't reply. “Um, I'm sure she heard you,” pushing her back, trying to prevent her and Dai from having a conversation a hand's distance away from your person. “From the display in the kitchen, you seem quite skilled with danmaku. Why use tranquilizer darts and not danmaku? I imagine the darts are very expensive to manufacture.” “Yes, but I retrieve them after use—" "Like I do with the casings," Ren interrupts. "Yeah, I noticed that when searching the, uh, 'scene'. Anyway, Vault ⑫ went into a big scare when we found most of our magic abilities were gone, so instead of relying on as yet unproven danmaku, Main Force Patrol—“ “Began using tranquilizer darts to subdue people,” you finish for her. “You're going to find people much more amenable to testing a knock-out drug with a proven antidote than to test how much painful danmaku they can withstand until their brain shuts down,” Renko comments. "Pleasure unto stupor, on the other hand? Sign me up." Instead of 'suicide by cop' you'd have 'overdose by cop'. Still... “But it doesn't explain why you don't use it on ferals. Are they immune to danmaku? Fairies in Vault ⑨ aren't. Security uses laser rifles on danmaku; I stole that one,” you jerk your thumb toward its resting place at the frame from of the (once) swinging double door. “No, danmaku works fine. Ferals are more hardy than humans for their size, but not in an absolute sense. You can knock them unconscious with a blast of danmaku bullets or lasers, and they'll be down for the count. Works better than tranquilizers. But there's a few troubles: First is that even if they stay down longer, it still takes a few danmaku bullets or laser bursts for that to happen. This means drain on either your own stores or on energy cells, which gets exhausting in the former case or expensive in the latter..." The first case is certainly true. Even with a grimoire specialized for the application of internally produced energy, most people barely have enough capacity to knock out or kill another living person. Skill in Magic or Danmaku in particular can make this more efficient (depending on whether you're trying to stun or kill, respectively), but only in the sense of boxer knowing where to place a blow. The end results is still usually a slug fest. "...The other problem with danmaku is why I put a silencer on this thing. Laser rifles or pistols with a danmaku setting are convenient and increase your options if you're no good with danmaku, per se. They're also relatively silent. However, they will product a large amount of light when they fire. It's also hard to take a feral down with lasers without them screaming a whole lot."
"Not enough stopping power." Renko, speaking from personal experience. "Besides lasers, danmaku itself is inherently bright and noisy, no matter what you try to do about it. Something to do with the laws of the greater magicks that created it: The 'purpose' of danmaku is conflict resolution, not assassination or game hunting. Your human hunters didn't spray the forests or the streams with danmaku, then just scoop up all the stunned fish and game; they used arrows and fishhooks. So, I use darts. The tranquilizer immobilizes temporarily, then I tag them.” “With what?” She reaches into her satchel and pulls out, not a bomb, but a large keyring. The heavy duty karabiners sport bar coded labels. “These.” She flicks the ring. It jingles. “Another thing Nitori helped with. They're earring clamps; when they close again, they won't reopen without an Allen key. Ferals can use simple tools, like rocks and simple weapons, but not to this extent.” “That sounds really painful.” Renko reaches up to her ear, wincing sympathetically. Like you, Ren never got her ears pierced. You can't imagine getting shot with a dart then waking up with a bloody clamp on your ear. Probably better than losing your liver to a kitchen knife, though. What a frightening goddamn urban legend that was. “No, it's actually totally painless. The tranquilizer is an opioid—has a long, painkilling afterglow.” OK, maybe you can kinda imagine in this case. “...And the prong is covered in anesthetic. It's important that it doesn't irritate them so much that they try to rip them off. Broadcasts a radio signal. Nitori modded my Pip-Boy. Check it out.” Not the only way her Pip-Boy has been modified. There's that spectrophonometer. SPECTROPHOTOMETER. Yeah, that. Which you're still looking up when you get home. Anyway, baseball grenades, guns on her cameras, special knock-out bullets. She's like the product of an Asian James Bond and a demented Ida M. Tarbell. This 'Nitori' kappa must be her 'Q'. Mary is still enrapt with the floor tiles, possibly trying to will a hidden cache of alcohol beneath them. Renko is busy trying to not show too much interest in this, though she is very much interested. Aya fiddles with the knobs and other doodads on her arm device. Then an image. It's a lot like the satellite map on your Pip-Boy. Some of those ripply elevation lines. Three dots, probably marking signals from your Pip-Boys. Nothing else. “Uh, let me zoom out.” Blip. Blip. Blip. Blip. Now more like the motion tracker you used to hunt down ants in the Vault yesterday. God, that feels like months ago. “What's all the blips?” Mary. “There's... a dozen maybe?” “It's all the fairies I've tagged in within five hundred yards. Zoom out. Again.” Blipblipblipblipblipblipblipblipblipblip. Than it stops blipping. Because it's all blip. “It's covered in them. How many is that?” “453.” Aya jingles a ring on the chain. “This'll be for lucky #454. By the low incidence of finding tags or tag wounds on ferals I bring down, there's at least ten times that many left out there, across the entirety of Dead Magic Forest.” “And how big is that?” You again. “700-plus acres. Not much smaller than Central Park.” She drops the chain back in the bag so she can draw in the air with her fingers. “Cut in a nice, neat, one square mile block. Zoned so that the surrounding resources could be exploited with as little fuss as possible.” “You've seen New York City?” Ren becomes interested. “Ay-ya... you think I've been cooped up this burg all my life? Nuh-uh, this bird's got wings! Clipped as they are.” “So why are you tagging them?” You attempt to bring the conversation back on its track. “Are you monitoring the size of the population?” Before Ren can start relaying the history of a place she's never ever been to. “Uh, Nitori's doing the monitoring. Population size is constant; they resurrect almost as soon as they die. Not on the spot like before the War, but it's soon enough to keep the numbers within range within any given mile or so of territory. That's why they haven't been cleared out ages ago. They seem to congregate here, density is higher than in most areas. Don't know why. The Fairy Warrens were bulldozed before the War and—“ “All the magic is gone,” you surmise, assuming there was magic here to begin with. “Yeah. We don't call 'Dead Magic Forest' because it sounds spooky.” Daiyousei speaks up: “Miss Shameimaru, you—I apologize for what I said. I am their radio handler, but I am not their representative, nor the representative of Vault ⑨. Please remember that when you write your story,” “Okay, little fairy goddess thing. Apology accepted.” You get the feeling an apology wasn't necessary. Insults seem to roll off the woman, possibly because she has experience dealing with a lot of criticism. Or possibly because she doesn't hear them.
“Hello!” Renko bolts upright on her stool. “Got something guys!” Mary was dozing on the floor, but is slowly roused with the nudging of Aya. “Come on, Maribel-yell, look like your train's come in. Up and atom!” You stand up from the stool and step over to read the holoterminal over Renko's shoulder.
“That's channel ⑩!” She yells back at you, “Turn up your radio! If piggy-backing on the terminal transmitter, so you'll only get a few seconds of transmission time!” You do as Renko asks and increase the speaker volume, already tuned to that frequency. At first, all you hear is static. Then like someone yelling very far away. “...I don't really know if you are who you say you are...” The radio voice is a woman's, and while definitely hushed due to what must be interference, it hides none of the speaker's candor. You're surprised given that she was referred to in the journal entries as something of an ice queen. “...but I really can only fit two of you...!” “What?” Ren is upset with this new hiccup in the plan. Mary just looks sleepy and confused, but at least she's vertical now. “Sweet jumping jackrabbits, you actually did it! I want to kiss you! Can I kiss you?” The sour look doesn't do it, and Renko has to physically push her away. “Oye. No love in this world.” Aya starts fiddling with the knobs on her Pip-Boy, “It was channel ⑩, right?” “Aya you dare touch the transmit button on your radio, and you'll be kissing the fender of Tewi's cab.” You attempt to radio your doubts over the Pip-Boy in a single word: ”Why?” ”...well, between my space and your time, I am afraid we are quite limited...!” That doesn't sound shady at all. Of course, you need to find out how to even get in: “How?” “...there is only way in and out of Vault ⑩! The two of you have to crawl into the gas oven in the kitchen! Assuming it's even still there...!” “That is extremely disturbing.” You know what she is talking about, it's the thing you clambered over to get in. “I guess it's the only thing that could be expected to survive a bomb?” “I knew it had to be in some kind of claustrophobic area!” Vaunted reporter's instincts. “Tricksty. Very tricksty. Always reminded me of a mouse, though Nazrin is much more fun at parties.” “...did you get that...?” “Yeah.” Another monosyllabic reply, but now it's time to get less conservative, “How much time?” “...I can keep the door open for only five minutes, safely! But a third person would be liable to get cut in half...!” From now or from the time she opens the door? “I can feel it! The overlapping borders just got a whole lot more violent,” Mary is now alert and looking giddy. “Like two seismic plates rubbing together makes an earthquake! It wasn't nearly this strong coming out of the Overseer's escape tunnel.” “Dai, you have anything to say about this?” You ask. “The specifications of each Vault power plant was unique, same as with the AI controllers. Obviously this wasn't a problem for Vault ⑨, but if Vault ⑩ is smaller, it stands to reason its capacity to transport across borders would be lower. This would be especially so if there's just one person to maintain it; we have plenty of dolls and automated systems in Vault ⑨, but you'd be surprised how much human, and fairy, oversight is needed. As for how this power is even supplied by a book, I have no idea.” Well, you know you need to get in, since Dai is in your Pip-Boy. As a plus, it'd be nice to wash this radiation off. Toward that end...
The grimoire in its rubber belt on the table by the window. Laser rifle, by the door. Holotape is in the Pip-Boy. As to the energy cells, the one in the rifle is fully charged but you'll probably need more if it comes down to a fight. In addition, if the Vault power plant is indeed failing, you might need to use them to power devices. Mary holds the Princess' Smile but is wasteful and should be relying on her magic, in any case. However, she might be able to hawk them out in the Wastes for caps. “...you have four minutes...!" “Where are the energy cells? Ren, your saddlebag or the knapsack—no wait." It will depend on whether you bring Ren or Mary with you. Ren can't bargain for shit. “She was known for abusing chems, you know? I did a story on her for that! Any chance you could let me be the one to come wit—" “Absolutely not!” “Are you sure, because I think I actually have more pull than you think I do, did I mention that I've spoken with her on a number of occa—“ “Aya, if you go in that oven, Ren is cutting the connection. Then I'm turning it on." “Shit. WelI, I guess I can cart the other one off to the Village or GNR or Scarlet or a crevice or wherever, even though it's not good for the fuel economy.” “Thank you. If there's any Psycho in there, I'll steal it for you.” Both Mary and Renko are moving to pick up the party's belongings, Mary the duffel bag, Renko the attaché case. Then they both get to the bag filled with the camping equipment. “Let go, Usami!” They're both tugging at it, and while Mary fails in the strength department, she makes up for it in perseverance. “No. You're going with Max. It's too dangerous for you out here.” Ugh. Idiot. “Excuse me? I think I can take care of myself better than you! It's far safer for me to set up wards than for you to shoot everything that moves!” “You wouldn't want to stay here, you'd go with Ay—actually, Mary I really must insist you accompany him.” “Max don't you think I can take care of myself?” ”...three minutes...!” “Hurrying,” you bark into the radio. Huh. Well you definitely have to go, since Dai needs a body and is inside your Pip-Boy.
[ ] The plan remains the same. You and anyone who can help, even including... – [ ] Mary. She understands border topology the best out of any of you, and her holy powers would be especially useful if Vault ⑩ really is filled with demons. Besides, Mary can't be trusted not to accumulate an immense bar tab, reveal herself on stage, or descend into a depressed, alcoholic jag if left alone. Renko is capable of extorting caps, even if it's sale by gunpoint. As far as salvage, she's an excellent navigator and more likely to hunt down places where Wastelanders haven't picked through, she's also best trained to repair what she can find. And if the worst happens, Ren is perfectly capable of becoming the most renowned butcher in the Gensokyo Wasteland, Aya would be useless inside, because she'll put all her energy toward finding chems; in the Wastes she seems to have a good track record for not dying, and seems doubly capable against ferals. Hopefully she can help fly Ren to a safe haven. – [ ] Ren. Tough as nails, multilingual, knows her way around computers & robotic dolls, and is capable of virtuoso-like feats of ingenuity. Besides, Ren can't be trusted to not screw the pooch in a gamble, provoke bar patrons into knife fights, and otherwise cause undue ruckus & mayhem. Mary is more skilled at finding good bargains for things the party needs, and selling what the party doesn't, even if she has to con someone into doing it. As far as salvage, Mary is better at identifying salable items, and unlocking strongboxes. And if the worst happens, Mary is most likely out of the three of you to regain access to Vault ⑨. Aya would be useless inside, because she'll put all her energy toward finding chems; in the Wastes she seems to have a good track record for not dying, and seems doubly capable against ferals. Hopefully she can help fly Mary to a safe haven. – [ ] Just Dai. If this thing only can let two people in, then logically it can only let two people out! If this Alice woman isn't lying. Which she might be, considering all the Vaults you've seen so far are pretty big. Besides, Ren will look out for any actual dangers to Mary, and Mary will defuse any arguments Ren gets into. In the Wastes, Aya seems to have a good track record for not dying, and seems doubly capable against ferals. Hopefully she can guide them to a safe haven on foot. Novgorod? If it gets lost in transit, then that might not be so bad either. – [ ] Actually, Aya is the safest choice. Though her ability to get anything other than teeth-grinding out of the inhabitants is doubtful, she's not on as strict a schedule and can be left inside if things get dicey, and in all honesty, she was probably going to follow you in anyway. Besides, Ren will look out for any actual dangers to Mary, and Mary will defuse any arguments Ren gets into. They both could use some practical experience of life in the Wastes. – [ ] Screw the rules, you have boundaries! Mary can extend this window of opportunity and prevent premature closure of the border that seals Vault ⑩. (Maybe.) If you get lost, you can summon a demon and ask him! (In theory.) And even if the border is 'jammed' any third or fourth person is still liable to get cut in half, or get trapped, or there's some other problem, she can just stick a cosmic penny in it, right! (She has American coinage.)
And if Mary/Renko/Aya is left in the forest, what should they do while you meet with this Alice figure (if applicable)? [ ] They should stay at the terminal and wait for instructions or any other communication. If night falls, they should sleep in the upstairs bedroom, barricade themselves in, set traps, and any other reinforcements that could be make this place defensible. There are yukkuri out there. [ ] They should set up a base camp in the forest, get a fire going, and prepare for your triumphant return. It's a little high profile, but after eradicating the resident ferals and with Tewi's disposal of the squatting mutants, this place will be safe for a while. [ ] The most convenient and sound location would be Myschi's Bar & Grill. You have no money, but Ren could wash dishes or beat people up and take their caps, while Mary could probably earn 'donations' in more imaginative ways, and regardless they're likely to acquire useful knowledge of the Wastes there. [ ] The storm drain near the power station. A little out of the way, but that place could survive another nuclear holocaust, and you can be dead certain no one would think to look there, since the place hadn't been touched for two centuries. Second is that it has its own radio equipment, so you might be able to communicate across-borders, like you can with this terminal. (Maybe.) [ ] It's not as convenient, but as Tewi runs regular circuits run twice daily, there's no better place for a human than to go to human village. Not only was it your intended destination the first time you stepped outside the Vault, but as they are apparently growing regular crops, some kind of civilization has been reestablished itself. [ ] They should take advantage of Aya's offer. The conversation you heard on the radio indicated that the political milieu of the Wastes are complex with potentially dangerous implications to your Vault's survival and your mission. Maybe Aya or the 10% Nation has its own interests at heart, but they almost certainly more agreeable than Scarlet's mercenaries, and the Village is an unknown variable at this point. [ ] They should exercise their own judgment. They're not children anymore, and with the Wastes being as they are, you all should be ready to at any point go it alone. [ ] Wherever Aya think they should they should go. She's got the jet-pack. She's got the connections. She's got a mountain fortress (if she hasn't been already banished). She knows where to go, either to give them the grand tour of the Gensokyo Wasteland, or to keep them inside where it's safer and there is sanitation.
[ ] On second thought, maybe Dai's body can wait. When you get a little more ammo, magic, and information of the circumstances surrounding this Vault and the Alice girl. If the other Vaults rely on the same technology to open the Vault 'door', then maybe you'll even find a way to forcibly kick this one's door in. Besides, this isn't even the only place that it's possible for Dai to get a body. (Maybe?) – [ ] You missed Tewi's first circuit, but the cab comes around again before nightfall, right? – [ ] Camp out. It's time to learn how to pitch a tent! – [ ] Back to Mystia's Bar & Grill. You didn't lean on Lorelei hard enough in regards to her price gouging, and Sousha is just a big wuss. – [ ] Other. (Write-in)
“The EX-class, created following the Interplanetary Ballistic Missile Treaty, has been a milestone project for Earth and all its peoples. Never before have we been able to so rapidly and completely proliferate weapons of mass destruction across international borders, irrespective of the type of government, internal economic system, race, or now even the species of their peoples. The reason for this is that we've finally built a weapon so large and destructive that it could not possibly be used against other nations on Earth. Rather now than being brought into schism by new weapons technology, the IPBM will unify all nations on the globe. In addition to the tens of thousands we've already retrofitted into our aging ICBM launch silos, we will be sending over a thousand independently-functioning, modular IPBM launch platforms to the moon, giving Tranquility Base a strategic, rather than just a tactical, nuclear option. If all goes well we may be able to send independently functioning units to Mars, and even far off satellites like Io. Gentlemen, if we do not first perish, ballistic missiles of an intergalactic kind cannot be very far off.” Nitori Kawashiro, Nakajima–Rockwell Aerospace, 2064 annual meeting of stockholders
Dream Crusher Requirement: Special Benefit: You are particularly good at smashing the aspirations of wide-eyed children and wannabe heroes, if not dissuading your foes from attacking, then making them much less hopeful their efforts will do anything. When attacking, enemies have only 50% of their normal chance of scoring a critical hit on you.
(⌚) 6:12 PM JST
Vault-Boy says: 'Keep moving and don't look back. Someone, or something, might be gaining on you.'
WOW..... That was the longest update I've ever seen..... Please don't disappear again for another 2 months ;-; Anyway.... [x] The plan remains the same. You and anyone who can help, even including... – [x] Just Dai. [x] The most convenient and sound location would be Myschi's Bar & Grill. Lets not get screwed after we leave there. More risky, considering our level, but since we know that a lot of people left the Vault, we might have to only deal with pu-nevermind, but still it might not turn into a bloodbath. Plus having Dai in a body will make her more useful. Mysti's place because it would be a pain if we have to escape early and Tewi already left.
[x] The plan remains the same. You and anyone who can help, even including... – [x] Just Dai. [x] The storm drain near the power station.
Mary, Renko, and possibly Aya should be completely safe at that drain, and depending on if the border radio thing works, will even be able to provide advice and prospective on our jaunt through Vault 10. On the other hand, this whole deal sounds incredibly suspicious. I'm loath to have Max enter alone, but if Alice is being truthful, and we can only have two people enter/exit, we have to enter alone, lest we lose a member in the vault.
Before I vote, I'd like to see some discussion about the choices. This would be the point I'd make an extra save data.
In regards on who to bring, the writefag handed us good rationalizations for each option. Going solo seems appealing if Max could somehow get in contact with the outside (mostly counting on Renko). Besides, neither of them seem to be volunteering to go anyway. If I were feeling lucky though, I'd say ladies first with Renko and Mary, with Max going in third (HAIL MARY). My biggest concern is how to deal with Aya. Were she to go with us, she would have to bring up the rear. Would not want her having some PTSD flashback and freezing up with our limited window. We aren't sure how much this magic contract can affect the party, so taking Aya with us or leaving her with someone weighs heavily on my mind. She may throw a fit if the entire party tried to leave her behind. On the other hand, she is the only one besides Max who is ready to jump in that oven. If she did freeze up or hold us back, would we really leave her behind? That is some major bad karma right there.
I'd like to keep the low profile thing going until we get out hands on a newer copy of the Wastelands Survival Guide. On that note, either holing up here or the storm drain seem like good choices. The main concern is how long the supplies can last. Camping in the woods sounds a bit ridiculous. Staying at Myschi's will probably mean food and safety at the cost of an empty wallet. Not that bad. Not enough is known about the human village IMO. Aya's offer is tempting because looking out for us is in the interest of her story... it looks good if you deal with the fact that Aya gets to run the show.
>>122284 We already shot down Aya, and she demurred pretty quickly, so I'm not sure why you are worrying about that. As for the contract, while we currently don't know the details, I would assume there wouldn't be any negative effects from losing proximity to Aya. Considering Max hasn't mentioned anything such as that, and he is perfectly okay with separating from her, I'm going to go with that. Besides, you can always vote to read the details about it in the Notes section, or whatever. On going solo. We possibly have a way of communicating with the outside, if we vote for the storm drainage option. Leaving Renko outside would be the surest way to get outside communications, as she is handy with the computers, and should be able to rig up a radio. Of course, that is merely a possibility.
Bringing Renko in would be useful for the robotic dolls we are bound to encounter as well as perhaps messing around with the vault systems to change the window. If it could be changed at all. Though bringing Renko would also probably mean that we couldn't communicate with the others from the storm drain which is most likely the safest spot for them. It's a bit worrying to send Max in alone, tempting as it is, in case Alice is intentionally limiting their numbers for some malicious reason. I'll think a bit more and see what others have to say before voting.
[X] The plan remains the same. You and anyone who can help, even including... – [X] Mary. She understands border topology the best out of any of you, and her holy powers would be especially useful if Vault ⑩ really is filled with demons. Besides, Mary can't be trusted not to accumulate an immense bar tab, reveal herself on stage, or descend into a depressed, alcoholic jag if left alone. Renko is capable of extorting caps, even if it's sale by gunpoint. As far as salvage, she's an excellent navigator and more likely to hunt down places where Wastelanders haven't picked through, she's also best trained to repair what she can find. And if the worst happens, Ren is perfectly capable of becoming the most renowned butcher in the Gensokyo Wasteland, Aya would be useless inside, because she'll put all her energy toward finding chems; in the Wastes she seems to have a good track record for not dying, and seems doubly capable against ferals. Hopefully she can help fly Ren to a safe haven.
And if Mary/Renko/Aya is left in the forest, what should they do while you meet with this Alice figure (if applicable)? [X] The storm drain near the power station. A little out of the way, but that place could survive another nuclear holocaust, and you can be dead certain no one would think to look there, since the place hadn't been touched for two centuries. Second is that it has its own radio equipment, so you might be able to communicate across-borders, like you can with this terminal. (Maybe.) [X] However, they could exercise their own judgment if they want. They're not children anymore.
> I'd like to see some discussion about the choices. Sure thing. I'm against your idea of having everyone wait because stalling never seems to work well IMO. It's already too dangerous for the group that will stay outside to simply wait: or hole up somewhere at half-capacity. We have to minimize that time. The best way to do so is to get inside the vault, wait for the PLOT TWIST, survive, somehow, get a body for Ooki and high tail the fuck outta there.
Regarding who should go, I'd vote for either Mary and Dai or just Dai. Why? Well, Ren is much more self-sufficient and has less personal traumas than a drug-addict, alcoholic miko of nothing with delusions of grandeur. But I have to wonder if she can handle Aya on her own... If she ends up babysitting Maribel as well, I think both of them can keep and eye over the tengu better (Han handles herself better near Renko) Still, they could just fight, separate and get picked one by one by Raiders so... I dunno. Max and Maribel seems like a good idea due to her affinity with the enemies inside, but Renko could get butthurt and complicate the fuck outta things once (if) we get out. And let's not forget about the 'entry/exit for 2 people only'! Whoever is inside the vault (probably just Alice, but let me and my paranoia be) may end up being hostile and looking for a way out with a fairy that hasn't had a body for decades and one of the most powerful magicians in the wasteland looking to burn our ass doesn't exactly seem like a best-case scenario.
Anyway, I wonder if we could get a look at her grimoire?
To my dearest, favoritest writefag (Yes, Fallout Anon, that's you):
Please, please, please, please, PLEASE take what people have been saying about the degradation in proofreading/formatting and dialogue confusion to heart. I still love the hell out of this story, but it is seriously beginning to hurt your performance.
1) As for the sentence confusion, you could start by not relying so heavily on sentences built like:
<Spoken statement> <Name of person speaking said statement, and the action they are doing at that moment> <rest of statement (if applicable)>
Those are fine to throw in between actual "Person X says, 'blah'" sentences and other regular-ish syntax styles, but you're using those very heavily, and it really does ake it a bit confusing to follow.
2) As for the proofreading/formatting errors issue, I'd suggest getting on IRC and finding someone to proof for you. ...Now, I hardly think you'll take that option, what with the wanting to preserve anonymity and so on, so I can understand you avoiding that option.
There is, however, another alternative (and the most ideal option would be to combine the two) that I seriously suggest you take, regardless. While not as effective at catching grammatical errors, it will let you catch formatting errors more easily:
-Find an old thread in /i/ or /blue/, since nobody ever goes there. -Post your update (or as much of it as will fit into one post) in it. --Double-check that you have saged this test post before clicking "Reply". --Triple-check that you have entered a short, easy-to-remember password in there so that you can delete it/them once you're done. This is even more important than saging it. -Click Reply, and read over your post carefully and thoroughly, so that you can check it for errors and missing/mistyped/un-deleted words and other stuff.
Your story is still awesome, and I want nothing more than to keep seeing more of it. Don't take this as harsh criticism or anything, but instead like caring advice from a big fan. Or intense admirer. If I knew anything more than your birthday, I'd upgrade myself to "stalker".
...Oh, there was one other thing: A few posts in this recent goddamn deluge that you have delivered to us had what seem like broken Unicode characters; 4 numbers/letters in a little box:
>>121974 >[ (☕) Max is suffering from meat withdrawal! (no effect) ]
>>121982 >>[ (☕) Mary's hunger is relieved! (+6 HP) ] >>[ (⚜) Mary failed her Outdoorsman check! ]
>>121984 >[ (☔) Daiyousei has acquired a Quest Perk: 'Dream Crusher'! ]
>>122133 >[ (⨳) Max felt sick to his stomach! Max cannot run! ]
>>122339 >I thought this was some Fallout 3 reference or something else I didn't get until about the second or third time I saw it. Heh. At any rate, I'm glad someone got the joke, as bad as it was. On an unrelated note, the unicode thing is a problem on your end. I can see them just fine. My 2 cents about the format thing: I don't really care. I just want the updates to have more descriptions and references about where they are and what they are doing while spouting off those wonderful conversations (no sarcasm, no joke, I really think they're the best thing this story has) and having substantial and realistic character development (again, I'm not being sarcastic)
>>122339 >proofreading advice Signed. Also, if you're highly paranoid, you can use the KusabaX sandbox boards for this, which run on the same software as THP.
>Unicode characters They're definitely all valid Unicode; you can check by pasting them into Unihan to get their hex values, then googling U+????. For instance, the one next to the 'meat withdrawal' warning is U+2615, 'HOT BEVERAGE'. No, I'm not sure who you have to blow to get characters added to Unicode, either. That said, I can't see them properly either, so I'm guessing it is a font problem. Fallout Writefag, maybe you could post the Unicode font you use on your server for us?
>...But you just voted to leave them both alone with Aya. I meant as opposed to 'leaving them together with Aya'. Leave Mary alone with Aya and she might sell her immortal soul for a highball, leave Ren alone with Aya and somebody might actually get shot; I don't know what'll happen with both of them together, but I don't think it'll be as bad as either of those outcomes.
[X] The plan remains the same. You and anyone who can help, even including... [X] Just Dai. [X] The storm drain near the power station.
Leaving Mary alone with Aya would probably result in her picking up another drug habit, selling our souls again, or something else completely terrible. That storm drain was shut for centuries, so hopefully it'll last one more night.
So why not take Mary with us and have Renko and Aya fly away to safety? Well, the voice said that only two people could go through, but I'm not sure she was just referring to two bodies. Remember that this is some kind of unholy gateway between dimensions and souls are a sort of tangible thing here. With 3 souls someone might come out brain-damaged. Soul-damaged. Whatever. And even if she was just referring to mass, it's still a problem for the reason addressed in the default Dai choice up there. If we need to make a quick escape after getting her a body it would mean leaving someone behind.
[x] The plan remains the same. You and anyone who can help, even including... – [x] Just Dai. [x] The storm drain near the power station.
I'm not sure what font you guys are running but the symbols are all fine on my end.
As for the vote, as much as it is going to suck going in alone, if only two can exit, we'll need to do it so Dai can escape with us. In the end though, I doubt anything we run into will be truly dangerous. After all, we're male and anything we encounter will more than likely be female.
>>125811 What's worse than a bad game? An incredible game that's broken on release. IT TAUNTS ME, SITTING IN MY STEAM TRAY. "PLAY ME!" IT SAYS, WAITING FOR ME TO GIVE IN. FINALLY, I CAN TAKE NO MORE, AND VENTURE FORTH INTO THE WASTES. I KICK ASS, TAKE NAMES, AND RUN FACE-FIRST INTO A BLUE SCREEN. I HARD REBOOT, ONLY TO FIND THAT AUTOSAVE IS BROKEN. THUS I LOSE ANOTHER HOUR INTO THE VOID, AND NEW VEGAS HOWLS WITH CRUEL LAUGHTER, KNOWING THAT I CANNOT ESCAPE, AND MUST RETURN TO THIS TORMENT. I guess what I'm trying to say is it could use a patch.
>>125897 I have deeply enjoyed reading the various threads of this story, but I have a question regarding the Fallout part.
1.I remember you saying somewhere that Fallout Gensokyo's timeline diverged from the OTL Fallout timeline in 2011 due to the Lunarians revealing themselves in Europe, but a number of things don't seem to add up. For instance Renko, when she talks about power plants and such, mentions things like submarines having ICBMs, but considering how in the Fallout world, by which I include both OTL Fallout and Fallout Gensokyo, the miniaturization of electronics and such wasn't as advanced as in our world, how would they have been able to fit ICBMs on subs? In Fallout the miniaturization of computers and electronics really didn't occur. Look at the computers that fill up a room, or the personal computers that are bulky due to using mixed vacuum tube/transistor tech. Even the screens are bulky using small CRTs (cathode ray tubes)instead of LCDs (liquid crystal display). Along with that there's no GUI as we'd know it. Yes in Fallout they were able to miniaturize electronics enough for androids and such, but I'm pretty sure if we were able to build androids with real-world electronics that they'd be more efficient and smaller due to more advanced electronics and actual microprocessor technology. Was the reason why in Fallout Gensokyo that ICBMs had been developed enough to fit on subs due to the revealing of the Lunarians, which scared everyone and accelerated tech development? I know in OTL Fallout the nuclear powers were starting to convert their stockpiles to ballistic missiles at the time of the Great War.
2. Also Renko mentions the "Soviet cold war", but in the Fallout world wasn't China the big, scary Red Menace with the Soviet Union being much friendlier with the US? In Fallout 1 for instance, one of the pre-made player characters is a granddaughter of a Soviet diplomat from the Soviet consulate who was able to get a place in Vault 13. Look at Liberty Prime for instance, all his statements about Communism are directed against China, so wouldn't that cold war be a "Chinese cold war" instead of a "Soviet cold war"? The entire Great War, and much of the Communist scares and such, was between China and the United States, so I'm surprised there was a "Soviet cold war", when the Soviets were friendlier compared to real-life?
3. Considering how Gensokyo was a big reason why Japan grew to such prominence during the Lunarian cold war, how much of its influence spread through the United States? For example Alice was on the Board of Directors of Robco Industries, and as such built all the autonomous and worker dolls with a mixture of magic and AI tech. Does that mean all of the United States used such things like AI dolls and such for robots, or was it only Gensokyo and Japan that used the AI dolls for robots, while the rest of the United States used robots like "Mr. Handy" as robots?
4. While we know Fallout Gensokyo diverges from OTL Fallout in 2011, did the aesthetics of technology still remain similar? By "aesthetics" I mean things like technology and social mores looking like 1950s/1960s America Atomic Age-style. For instance in Fallout while we do see plastics it's mostly for the military, with things like syringes being made of glass and metal and reusable, while buildings and cars having a 1950s style and look. To give an example the Chryslus Motors Highwayman is described as having a "full analog system, 800 + Horsepower, 0 to 60 in less than a second, a sizable trunk and spacious interior". Despite having an advanced fuel cell, its style is similar to 1950s American cars.
5. Considering one of the arcs in the story said something with Max and "Road Warrior" will we get to see a Chryslus Highwayman being driven by Max?
6. Will we see anything from Fallout New Vegas in the story, since you're playing that game right now?
7. Are the 10%s (Ten-Percenters) the equivalent of the Brotherhood of Steel in Gensokyo? We know the Enclave faction is with Reimu. Does the Brotherhood of Steel exist back on the continental US?
8. While we know about how Gensokyo's doing, what is the rest of the United States in Fallout Gensokyo like? Is it just like it is in the Fallout games except with more magic knowledge, or is it much different?
I ask these questions because because I deeply enjoy this story, but I'm a little confused on some details. All of my information comes from the Fallout wiki, which might not be the most reliable source. I haven't played any of the Fallout games, so my only real information is from that wiki. You probably know more
>I remember you saying somewhere that Fallout Gensokyo's timeline diverged from the OTL Fallout timeline in 2011 Assuming this is true, then "an alternate history version of the official Fallout universe" is exactly what this story is.
>>129826 dunno, voting anyways [X] The plan remains the same. You and anyone who can help, even including... – [X] Mary. She understands border topology the best out of any of you, and her holy powers would be especially useful if Vault ⑩ really is filled with demons. Besides, Mary can't be trusted not to accumulate an immense bar tab, reveal herself on stage, or descend into a depressed, alcoholic jag if left alone. Renko is capable of extorting caps, even if it's sale by gunpoint. As far as salvage, she's an excellent navigator and more likely to hunt down places where Wastelanders haven't picked through, she's also best trained to repair what she can find. And if the worst happens, Ren is perfectly capable of becoming the most renowned butcher in the Gensokyo Wasteland, Aya would be useless inside, because she'll put all her energy toward finding chems; in the Wastes she seems to have a good track record for not dying, and seems doubly capable against ferals. Hopefully she can help fly Ren to a safe haven.
And if Mary/Renko/Aya is left in the forest, what should they do while you meet with this Alice figure (if applicable)? [X] The storm drain near the power station. A little out of the way, but that place could survive another nuclear holocaust, and you can be dead certain no one would think to look there, since the place hadn't been touched for two centuries. Second is that it has its own radio equipment, so you might be able to communicate across-borders, like you can with this terminal. (Maybe.) [X] However, they could exercise their own judgment if they want. They're not children anymore.
Eh since I was the one who wrote >>125986, then I should vote as well.
[X] The plan remains the same. You and anyone who can help, even including... – [X] Mary. She understands border topology the best out of any of you, and her holy powers would be especially useful if Vault ⑩ really is filled with demons. Besides, Mary can't be trusted not to accumulate an immense bar tab, reveal herself on stage, or descend into a depressed, alcoholic jag if left alone. Renko is capable of extorting caps, even if it's sale by gunpoint. As far as salvage, she's an excellent navigator and more likely to hunt down places where Wastelanders haven't picked through, she's also best trained to repair what she can find. And if the worst happens, Ren is perfectly capable of becoming the most renowned butcher in the Gensokyo Wasteland, Aya would be useless inside, because she'll put all her energy toward finding chems; in the Wastes she seems to have a good track record for not dying, and seems doubly capable against ferals. Hopefully she can help fly Ren to a safe haven.
And if Mary/Renko/Aya is left in the forest, what should they do while you meet with this Alice figure (if applicable)? [X] They should stay at the terminal and wait for instructions or any other communication. If night falls, they should sleep in the upstairs bedroom, barricade themselves in, set traps, and any other reinforcements that could be make this place defensible. There are yukkuri out there.
I've been reading this story for the last few days now and it is really good. But I have a small question, back when we were reading the grimoire for the second time Max couldn't focus/understand it he started to eat some of the pages. Why did he do that? Was he frustrated at the book or was he doing the eat-pages-of-magical-text-to-absorb-its-power thing?
It goes something like: Decide to move the documents to the solid state drive for ease of access and because you thought it would be safer. Computer suddenly goes into continuous boot cycling. Corrupted boot sector. Repair fails. Reformat drive to reinstall windows. Install OpenOffice again. Can't find documents on old platter drive and external. Realize you moved them to the now absent system partiton. Computer starts boot cycling again. Apoplexy.
>>131918 >I don't suppose there's anything we can do to help and ensure that you retain your enthusiasm and desire for writing?
If you're writing a story, keep writing it, because Anon is reading it.
If you're not writing, keep voting for stories, but ask yourself why not. Having really never before written fiction as recreation, let alone a CYOA or piece of fanfiction, there was no way of knowing whether it could be done without trying.
>moving data to keep it safe >doesn't keep multiple copies just in case
I thought it was common sense to backup your shit by now. I blew about $300 on backup drives just to keep my 10 years worth of images/downloaded anime/porn safe. This happens so fucking often yet no one prepares for it, you could probably fit everything for this story on a $5 flash drive too.
I know people are going to rip me a new asshole for bumping this, but I think 3 months of silence warrants someone asking:
Are you going to continue this? Sorry if you already answered elsewhere, but I couldn't find anything. I honestly find it kind of odd that no one said anything up to this point considering what an enjoyable story this is/was.
"This is 88.1 FM WSDM Scarlet Devil Radio, covering the best classical music of the baroque through contemporary periods, and as always I am the ghostest hostess with the mostest, Kana Anaberal. Unfortunately, I come bearing bad news. You see, this is the end of everything~! Well, ha, not really. The show is just over. Not permanently. The next time slot is reserved for some kind of boring infotainment. But if you can stay awake, you'll be able to catch me later tonigh—”
“Did you switch the feed, 'Koto? Ah, you did? Oh! Well, hello and welcome to 'Masterpiece Theater'. I am your hostess Remilia Scarlet, hoping to prescribe the balm of tranquility for these tumultuous times. This program seeks to educate those Wastelanders who have the will to educate themselves regarding pre-War culture but are without the resources to do so, and additionally to offer entertainment of a more life-affirming nature than you would otherwise find in the Wastes. We will read excerpts of first editions, all selected from the hermetically sealed confines of the Voile archives. Our chief librarian is currently 'out sick', so I've had to hand-pick one for us. It's Leo Tolstoy. Russian literature—that's heavy stuff! Now, uh, where did I put my notes? “Hum. “Could have sworn I... “Oh, well then. “You know, I think we'll go for a short story first. The analysis will have to be done on the fly. “This title to this one is How Much Land Does a Man Need?, which seems fairly straightforward, and, in Russian of course, it opens with some character introductions. “Hmph. “This is awful lot more narrative than I expected for a essay on economics. Couldn't old Lyvochka have put a table in here somewhere? In fact, the uncertainty over whether the amount of my holdings are up to snuff is starting to feel very unsettling. That's how you gauge the importance of a work, by how much it affects you for good or worse, or so that is how I prefer to think about it. “Oh, merde. 'Koto. cut the feed, find Sakuya, and warm up the motorized carriage. We haven't surveyed the property in decades, and we'll need to get a firm idea on its current acreage if I'm to get any sleep this week. No, no, I want you to stop the broadcast first, daft robot. “Ugh, I'll just pull the plug myself. Now warm the Studebaker, not Sakuya. I swear this robot is as useful as a chocolate kettl—”
”And we're back~! Well, that took less time than expected. I suppose Lady Scarlet shouldn't leave her important belongings lying around where a neutral party might misplace them. Misplaced, specifically, into the hands of an enslaved, malevolent devil. Now if only she can figure out where she misplaced that librarian. This is 88.1 FM, Scarlet Devil Radio. Currently playing Mozart's 'Violin Concerto #3 in G in Allegro.' It might interest the listener to note that he wrote this at the earnest age of 19, among other violin concertos, to signify his coming of age. How many of can claim to have their feet as firmly planted in adulthood? Most seem to still be playing laser tag between the dunes and debris.”
[ (✍) 'Grog-Nappped the Librarian' added to Quests. ]
I'm alive. Despite ill health and not being able to recover the lost data, I've been actually working on this recently. 9000 words so far. Probably 3/4 done. Vault description and characterization for Alice, mostly.
And I'll get someone to proofread it this time, even if I have to use IRC.
Thank god. This story suddenly stopping had depressed me so. Truth be told, after this had apparently died, I started coming here less and less. Hard to bring yourself to read new stories when you know you're going to get your heart broken again.
You guys know he's been posting in other stories, whether it's been just voting or discussion, and the topic of him reviving the story has been brought up multiple times, and he's confirmed that he's actually been working on an update almost every single time. Just sayin'.
Not to say I'm not extremely overjoyedfapping happy because he posted a status update in his own thread with a mini update.