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177427 No. 177427
[-j-] Find Marisa. You need to tell her.

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There's no question as to where you need to go next. There's only one person here you can trust to any significant degree. As she holds your life in her hands, you need to share anyways. If you try to do something that she doesn't understand ahead of time…

Well, you're not going to let your thoughts go down that route. You immediately start heading down the hall, making your way back to the room you woke up in. There is nothing else that stops you from finding it, and Wriggle fortunately does not appear anywhere nearby. The hallucinations, or whatever they were before, have stopped.

The door squeaks loudly as you open it, but you do not hear any reaction as you pause in spite of yourself. You do your best to step in, dodging a few books that are spilled on the floor near the entrance to her abode. Once inside the room, you find Marisa pouring over a book as she always continues to mix a few ingredients on her desk. Powder spills everywhere as she just misses the mortar, and she barely notices as it lights on fire when it hits the table.

Whether she noticed you when you first opened the door or not, she looks up at you as she reads. "Hey there, Lucas. What's going…" She trails off and frowns. "Something's wrong. You look like you've just seen a ghost. What gives, Mr. Changeling?"

"I just ran into a girl I've never met before, but she claimed she had met me. Nothing too major." Sighing, you look down at all of her work. "You know that your desk is burning?"

"Aww, that's nothing too bad. Nothing I can't take care of." Nonchalantly, she slaps the portions of the bench that is alight without even looking. "Didn't even hurt." She winces a little bit before looking at her hand. "Much, at least."

"Good to see that you still have a rather high pain tolerance…"

Marisa just shrugs it off. "Have to. You know, comes with the line of work, yadda yadda." She shakes her head before pointedly looking up at you. "So, go ahead and talk. Who did you run across? I doubt it was our illustrious leader, was it?"

Unbidden, a snort passes your lips. "Nobody so laminating, I'll tell you." You sigh again and begin to line out what you were told. "This little girl that called herself Felia came up to me and told me that the witching hour is near, and that I have until dawn."

Marisa shuts her eyes for a few seconds. "…One second." Without waiting for you to respond, she turns toward her desk and nearly slams down her head on the top of it. "Dammit. Of all times…" She does it two more times before you can react and run over to stop her. "For once, could that girl just keep her mouth shut…"

"Whoah now! Hold on a second, Marisa." You try to grab onto her shoulder to prevent her from pasting her head on the wood once more. "There's no need to be injuring yourself. You do that enough on your own when you're trying to do your job, right?" Marisa attempts to give you a glare, but her lips twitch a bit at the bad joke. "Now, what's so bothersome that it drives you to self-proscribe?"

The witch groans before grabbing her hat. "Because overtime she opens her mouth and starts acting mysterious, something bad happens." Marisa grumbles and slumps down in her chair. "Not that I dislike the girl herself, but she never leaves her rooms except when she has little tidbits like that to share."

Sensing the conversation upcoming, you sit back on the bed nearby and look at her. "So, what is up with that girl? She said more than that, but who is she in the first place?"

"Well, she's supposedly just a little girl. But her two sisters were pilots in the JASDF. Hotshot pilots and all that, although the one is a little flighty… If you catch my drift." Marisa snorts and spins about, pulling her hat down on her head. "The other's fine, but neither of them really fit in. A bit like Harmon… I'm glad you've not run across them yet, actually. Probably frighten them. They haven't seen a man in ages. They might have forgotten what facial hair looks like."

Bemused, you can't help but to reach up and stroke your chin. Sadly, it's still smooth. "But I don't—"

"Just lightening the mood here. Can't a girl make a joke at a guy's expense?" Marisa snickers a bit before she clears her throat. "Anywho… They were both flygirls, but the littlest one was a little too good when they stuck her in a simulator. She didn't seem much smarter than average, and she was actually worse at taking g's than the others…"

"…She's twelve. Wouldn't that be obvious?"

"It should have been." Marisa shrugs again. "Who knows. Her sisters probably wanted her to follow in their footsteps. But apparently they figured out that the girl could be prescient when she wants to. And that attracted the attention of some people that they had no clue how to deal with. The same people who put a price on my head." She seems unable to help herself as she sticks her chest out in pride. "Which only seems to be going up, by the by."

You try to resist the urge to roll your eyes. You fail. "So help me…"

Marisa smiles a bit. "Well, you have to appreciate the little things." She deflates on her own as she mumbles under her breath. "I just wish that the girl could sing and summon a giant monster to help us fight instead of creepily announce the future of the world."

That line of conversation is most certainly a dead end. "…Ignoring that, who would that be? And why would they be after her?"

"The Techies. You know, the guys trying to wipe out magic, essentially? Hates our guts? Found us when we picked you up."

"You'll have to remind me. I'm not exactly very caught up on your 'lingo'. But I remember Rika talking about them, yes. They're not people I'd want to get on the wrong side of, from the sound of it."

It's Marisa's turn to roll her eyes as she gives you the look. "You have them on your wrong side by existing as it is. But you're hard to take down. The paradox doesn't have an affect on you." Marisa sighs once more. "Anyways… It was fortunate that word leaked out before the grand conspiracy of nutty Technocrats came in and took her away."

"…How would you have even gotten word of it?"

"Rikako. She had a program mining data, and the oldest sister posted something on the net."

"…What net?" Frowning, you tilt your head as you try to figure out what she means. "I'm not sure what you mean, unless it's simply a culture difference…"

"Huh." Marisa chuckles to herself. "I'll have to remove a few years from my estimate then." Without clarifying, she changes the subject back to the girls. "Which is how they got here. They've mostly been moping around for the most part, as they didn't tell their family why they dropped off the grid."

It's as good of a quick explanation that you'd get, at least from Marisa. "So, if they hate it so much, why would they try to take someone who is obviously magical?"

Marisa shrugs herself as she folds her arms over her chest. "Well, the easiest answers are they wanted to eliminate her, or they wanted to control her. Heck, I'm sure that if we hadn't busted in, they would have transitioned her to some nice cushy outfit where she was taken care of, as long as she made sure that the good scientists studied her power so that they could replicate it and make more little girls like her." Snorting, she throws her hands up in the air and gesticulates far more than necessary. "More like they would have tried to make some way to control her."

"So, they don't mind trying to use something that is… intrinsically magical?" Frowning, you scratch your chin with your left hand as you try to connect dots together. "That does not sound like the actions of crusaders."

"Not at all. Their objective is, in the end, about control. A nice homogenous little world where everything lines up in neat little columns about what should and shouldn't happen. Anyone who disagrees is summarily banished from reality." Marisa shakes her head and grins. "One of these days I'll do something that's worth that bounty… And maybe I'll wake some people up at the same time."

Silence takes over for a few minutes as you wait to make sure that she's done. "Do you feel better now?"

"A little. Wanted to get that off my chest." Marisa grins and pounds her chest to pointedly indicate what she meant before leaning forward. "Now that it's out of the way, I need to double check. What exactly did she say?"

You think back and give your best recitation. "The witching hour draws close. You will have until dawn." Pausing, you think of the other thing she told you. "Respite can be found underground, as the stagnant light drives no foul creature into shadows."

"Nice and cryptic. She's no oracle, but at least she's staying in the spirit of things." Sighing, Marisa looks down at the ground. "It's after midnight now. And there is going to be something that happens later on. So, worst case scenario, Akyuu decides to try and kill you and we all die in the volcano as it erupts."

"…Could be worse." Snorting quietly, you shake your head. "She's as forgiving as a bull and hotheaded with plenty to spare. I don't think she's that shortsighted, though."

"Let's hope that's the case." She pointedly moves on to the next line as she thinks out loud. "Stagnant light, that's the key… We're underground, so why would she tell you that now?"

"It's not for now. It's for later, then." You take the thought of listening to a fortuneteller in stride as you contemplate what it would mean. "Although, to be honest… I'm not sure what it would mean. The light is pretty stale down here…"

By now, the witch has started to ignore you. Instead, she stares at the ceiling as her eyes trace invisible patterns. "…Stagnant… Crap." She looks down before staring at the table. "I've been working on the wrong project. Sorry, Lucas, but you'll have to deal with having Margaret in your head for a teensy while longer."

"So, mind telling me what it is?" Maris doesn't respond, and you can only watch as she dances about to the table. She stares at the mortar for a bit before setting it to the side and clearing the rest of the books off the table with a sweep of her arms. "A little more clarification would be appreciated."

Snorting, the witch grabs a few vials and inspects the contents within. "Take the stick out of your rear, Lucas. There’re a lot of places that are stagnant, so that alone doesn't say anything. She said it to you, though. And there's only one place it should mean." At that, she sends you a look. "Looks like you'll be heading back to Gensokyo sooner than we thought."

"Goody." Grumbling, you stand up. "So, you need me to help you get it started? And should I tell the others?"

Marisa shakes her head. "You don't have to. Go take care of what you need to. Leave Akyuu and the others to me. I'll just need to get this started… And I'll have to pack just in case it's bad enough."

The mess in here would certainly take days to pack up, if not weeks. "How do you plan on getting that done? You can't exactly travel light with this."

"Well, I have a carpetbag from an old mage I used to know. Nice girl before she went full marauding." She shrugs it off as she begins mixing vials, and you stare, curious to see if they begin to explode.

"Ever going to tell me what that means? Akyuu had mentioned something about it."

"Maybe later, when we're not in a hurry. You should go take care of your business before dawn comes."

[ ] What do.
-[ ] See someone in particular (and why)
-[ ] Inquire about the glamour.
-[ ] Make sure she doesn't need any help.
-[ ] Ask about Reimu.
-[ ] Was there anything else to share?

No. 177428
Part One: >>166200
Part Two: >>167739
Part Three: >>173878
No. 177431
[X] What do.
-See if you can help Rikako. Now or never.

Guess we'll never get to see about seeing Mystia's ghost at this rate. Unless we end up back at the borough. I'm sure her spirit has some tie to that place as well.
No. 177443
[x]What to do.
-[x]Inquire about the glamour.

Y'know, because there's just something to be said about, I dunno, looking normal.
No. 177444
[X]What to do.
-[X] Inquire about the glamour.

Learning how to blend in might be a helpful for future contingencies. I am going to throw out a wild guess that the Technocrats are going to mount a surprise raid on this base, and we're going to be mixed up with Marisa and the others for a lot longer than expected.

I guess we'll learn more about Felia's sisters later, since they appear to have been discharged from the JSDF at some point and joined up with this organization. Since they were aircraft pilots, I would guess that they are also technology-savvy, although they aren't exactly the best in military-style combat, unless they're used in a aerial-support role (Air Force standards are generally far more lax than Army physical and weapon training requirements).
No. 177446
-[x] Inquire about the glamour.
[x] See if you can use it to make yourself look human.
[x] Go see Rika
[x] Warn her about what's coming and see if there's anything you can do for her or her sister. Be careful though.

I think it's important we learn to utilize our glamour. If we can take on different appearances, it opens up so many possibilities, especially with our music box.
Afterwards we can go see Rika. She's the other person who we have a firm connection to and we need to warn her. I'm not opposed to trying to help her sister, but we need to be very careful. We want to be at full strength when dawn comes. No matter what happens, we can't help anyone if we get hurt or knocked out, and the last thing we want is Maggie to be in control when dawn comes. On the other hand if we are attacked by the techies, or anyone really, Rikako will be vulnerable.
Ultimately I want to be ready for anything, so if anyone else has ideas, now would be a good time. We don't now for sure what's going to happen, but most of the people here are good people and I don't want to see them hurt, especially the kids and normal humans who can't defend themselves as well.
No. 177450
>>177431

Changing vote.

-[x] Inquire about the glamour.
[x] See if you can use it to make yourself look human.
[x] Go see Rika
[x] Warn her about what's coming and see if there's anything you can do for her or her sister. Be careful though.
No. 177479
>>177444
Modifying my vote:
[X]What to do.
-[X] Inquire about the glamour.
[x] Go see Akyuu
[x] Warn her about what's coming and see if there's anything you can do for her. Be careful though.

Think about what we were discussing in the last few Lucas scenes. We want the other members to accept Lucas as a friend, and this might very well be our only opportunity to alter their perception of him. Obviously, we have a working relationship with Rika, but Harmon and Akyuu are still deeply suspicious of Lucas. If we are truly serious about 'gaining their trust', then we should warn them about the impending event instead of playing favorites with those who have already shown us their support. I'm personally impartial about warning Akyuu or Harmon, but Akyuu apparently calls the shots here, and trying to show that we genuinely care about the group's well-being may do wonders to her attitude towards us.

Or we could just warn Rika, and hope this decision doesn't screw us over when we have to pass a trust check with Akyuu.

There are too many possibilities that can happen in the next few scenes, and my main concern is that favoring our friends over our 'acquaintances' can mess up our chances for the 'best ending'. I can already foresee the gut-wrenching deaths ahead of us, but there is far too little information we can use to prevent what will happen next.
No. 177480
Sometimes I swear these long waiting periods are meant for us to slowly start doubting our decisions.
No. 177482
>>177480
Curses, foiled again.

More like I was going to update yesterday, but I got sidetracked before I could get started. Will be coming out today sometime, though. It will give you a little bit more time to focus on the what-ifs, at least.
No. 177483
[-k-] Inquire about the glamour.
-[-k-] See if you can use it to make yourself look human.
-[-k-] Go see Rika.
-[-k-] Warn her about what's coming and see if there's anything you can do for her or her sister. Be careful, though.

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"About my business… There's something that I needed to ask you before I did anything." Marisa glances at you as you lead in to your question, and she pauses to make sure she doesn't spill something all over the countertop. "I need to know if you can tell me anything about the glamour. How it works, how I could possibly use it… Anything at all." You shrug and raise one hand to make your point. "I may have gotten this far with claws and this mutilated throat, but I would rather not depend on it. Besides, I don't want to look like this all the time, even if I have gotten used to it."

Marisa nods and sets the vials down before looking at you. "I don't know how to create the glamour… I just know enough to dispel weak portions. You were leaving a trail when I chased you. Whatever you were doing, you seemed to be subconsciously leaving it behind." Her grin widens as she tries to restrain a laugh. "If I had to take a guess, you were trying to stay hidden, weren't you?"

It is good to see that her normal humor remains in spite of everything. "You could say something like that. A large winged person would cause quite a disturbance, wouldn't it?"

"Typically. Although I know that a few Changelings that have two cents to rub together hang out in places it wouldn't be so disturbing." Marisa snorts before looking down. "They didn't have enough sense to try and hide the moment I called them out. Their loss, I suppose."

"Good to know." You shake your head, not wanting to know anymore of that at the moment. "But is there something you can tell about the magic? I know you were able to find me pretty easily, and it wasn't because I had grown a bit since then."

"…It's an easy trail to follow if you know where to look." Marisa shrugs once more and continues to stare at her feet, gently tapping the one to the other. "It's energy more primal and terrifying than any that I know. Think of a low hum, a power that lurks deep in your senses. You can sniff it, or see it, or even taste it if thick enough. It warps reality with an ease that makes me envious, I'll admit. It's not something that you simply think about. There's no enchanting, there is no mixing of ingredients. It's a power that you simply must do." Sighing, she finally looks up. "At the least, you do not have to fear for your own existence simply by using it."

"Would my voice be something in that regard?" You reach up with your wooden hand and gently feel your throat, and your finger circles around the box that you know is placed underneath the skin. "Or is that something completely different? It was something that Margatroid artificially placed in me. I don't know if I would have been able to create such a horrible sound if I didn't have it."

The witch just shakes her head. "That, I wouldn't know. Perhaps she targeted you and gave you the power while you were still willfully resisting the Youkai that stole you? I cannot say. I've never met the girl. I've only met her counterpart."

"You know, I'd like to hear your description of her. I did get some from Rika, but I would like to hear it from another source."

"I didn't spend as much time with her. Just go talk to Rika. She'd be able to tell you better than I could."

"You told me that the last time, didn't you?" A chill goes down your spine as you think on what she just told you. "That sounds awfully familiar. Did you tell her something like that?"

"Perhaps." Marisa can't help but to smirk before she turns back. "Anyway, there are other things that you need to take care of. The glamour itself isn't a facade to hide behind. It is just a pure power that can make the impossible seem possible." Although she had just moved to go back to work, her hand stills and the witch glances back at you. "Just do not go too far with it. The glamour is just as much of a beast as that voice inside your head."

"How did you know…"

She shrugs. "You're bestial, and you still have some semblance of sanity, although I'm not the witch you want judging that." Soft chimes of laughter ring in the room for a few seconds before Marisa collects herself. "Besides, you did tell Rika. I was listening to your story."

Even though you dearly want to ask how she could have listened, you just shake your head and close your mouth. That answer probably won't be forthcoming, especially considering this girl's love of theatrics on top of her joking manners. "Right. Well, I'll take it in mind. And I'm not going to be doing anything big. …Just tell me if you need anything. I'm sure I won't be hard to find."

"No, you won't!" One last grin is all you receive before she turns back to the desk and begins to work on her current project. Considering that you need to get going, you turn and leave the room, heading back through the hall.

"I probably should tell the others as well. Marisa is going to be cooped up in that room, and I don't know how long it will be until she gets out." It doesn't exactly take long for you to decide which of the other residents of this facility you will see next.

Once you decide, you head town to the end of the hall, making your way to the staircase that you've not used since Akyuu rather thoroughly demolished you. You barely pay attention to your path as you look down at your hands, and you can't help but to be curious as to whether you can make any visible changes. "I can use my voice, and Margaret somehow makes the glamour work completely. But how can I use it myself?"

Curiously, you think of this magic, whatever it might be, expanding over your hands and concealing them inside a sheathe of energy. No matter how clearly you picture it happening, nothing does happen. You do not feel the creeping of energy, nor do you see your claws shrinking and becoming short and fat once more. There is no change at all.

You continue to try and will this hidden power that lurks inside you to the fore, but nothing does work. "I don't even feel this thing that Marisa was talking about. I guess she has been searching for Changelings for a lot longer than I've been one. Still, I'd hope that I could at least recognize it…" Sighing, you eventually give up and head towards the staircase. "I should have asked her to check the hallway. Maybe she could have seen if Wriggle was here."

The thought stays with you as you make your way to the lower floors, and you are glad that the facility is so sparse. You'd rather not be interrupted halfway to your destination by an irate child or a prophetic one. The only ones that you can talk to one on one seem to be the adults. "When did that thought alone become strange? Bah. I just hope she's down here…"

Once you are passed the ironwork of multiple doors and that spiral staircase, you make your way onto the floor of the large chamber. You take a few moments to gawk at the size of it now that you are inside and not looking down from the hallway up and to your right, and it is as impressive and odd as you remembered. "I'm just curious how she got all this material down here. Wouldn't somebody notice it all appearing? Or did they just dig in the ground and start forging their own equipment?"

Considering that no one is there to answer your question, you instead continue to stare before heading on. After a few minutes of searching, you take to wing and fly over the lines of vehicles, all the while making sure you're out of sight of the observation room that extends over the floor. You don't want Harmon to catch sight of you and think you're up to something inappropriate.

Once in the air, it doesn't take long to find Rika. The pig-tailed girl has pulled a cot from somewhere and is facedown in her pillow as she snores. Both of her arms are hanging off as she gently snores. For all purposes, she is dead to the world. As you set down, you quietly walk up to her, taking care not to disturb her yet. You'd hate to wake her right now. You could go see about doing something about Rikako first, at least.

Even as you think of it, you shake the thought out of your head. "She wouldn't want me to do that when she isn't awake…" Once you decide what you're going to do, you walk forward and reach to poke her in the side. You take care to use the hand that does not have sharp claws on it.

Rika takes a few pokes to finally stir her from her slumber, although it takes a while still for her to finally wake from her rest. She stretches and yawns as she sits up, and her two pigtails are frayed with hairs sticking out in every direction. Eventually, she looks up and notices who had bothered to interrupt her sleep. "Lukie? I thought you sent me to get sleep…"

It takes a little bit of effort to not roll your eyes at the moniker that the girl is determined to give you. Even so, you do smile down while not saying anything about it. "I did. But something has come up." The smile fades as you speak, and you heave a sigh as you relate all that you were told before.

Rika manages to take it all in before she starts nervously muttering under her breath. "Oh dear, is it going to be something bad? We've never been attacked here… I know that Marisa had some trouble with Technocrats before, as well as some of the others, but they've never done anything major. Is it some sort of Youkai that's going to try and invade? Or is the volcano going to erupt?" Rika sighs and shakes her head as she pauses in the middle of her excited speech. "Couldn't be it. The lower side has been proofed for that, but the top could be sealed in, I suppose…"

"Whoah now, Rika. We don't know what's going to happen. I don't know if it even applies to you. I just know that I'll have until dawn."

"I suppose…" She frowns and looks back at the door. "Still I need to think for the worst… What were the plans we made, sister? I can't go through with them if you're…. You're…"

"Rika. Calm down." You put a hand on the girl's shoulder as she begins to shake back and forth noticeably, and it seems to help keep the girl's emotions from fraying as much as her hair. "That's why I told you now, so there wouldn't be any panicking later on…"

She sniffs a bit before jumping up and away from you. "Right! I just need to… Need to take charge. I'll have to take care of her…" She looks over at the far wall and her shoulders slump down. "I just don't know what I can do for her. She's so far gone as it is… There's nothing I can."

"I was going to try something… I just don't know what." You walk over and look her in the eyes, making sure she doesn't look away. "She just hates magic and thinks it's an abomination right? And some Youkai did it to her?"

The girl nods automatically, looking like a doe trapped in headlights. "Ryuunosukian kappa Youkai, yes. It amused them…"

"Well, I'll see what I can do. But if I can't help her without getting myself knocked out, I'll just have to tie her back up."

"…Just make sure she gets in her jacket if you can't. If I have to move her somewhere else, it'd be best if she weren’t halfway out of it like last time. She's so smart, even through all the drugs that we've put her on."

"I'll do my best, Rika." Smiling at her, you squeeze her shoulder once more and head to the wall she's been staring at, knowing where to go even though you've never been there before.

[ ] Treat it clinically. She's a patient, and she needs to talk it out and realize what's happened. Then the problem may reveal itself.
[ ] Treat it bluntly. Get in her face and try to force whatever has been changed to reveal itself, although claws won't be the answer.
[ ] Treat it cooly. Never waiver, and never leave her with any doubt. Do not hide or make it excuses, and be honest with everything no matter if it hurts. The change will become apparent.
[ ] Just go in, strap her in and sedate her. You don't want to risk anything happening.
No. 177486
[X] Treat it cooly. Never waiver, and never leave her with any doubt. Do not hide it or make excuses, and be honest with everything no matter if it hurts. The change will become apparent.


I don't think sedating her and strapping her down will help when she wakes up, unable to move with a "youkai" towering over her.
Nor do I think treating her like a patient will help. That didn't work too well for someone like Hannibal Lecter and while she may not be a sociopath, she is mentally twisted (although through no fault of her own) and dangerously intelligent.
That leaves the two direct approaches, bluntness and, as I'd like to think of it, a more "scientific" approach.
Treat it like an outside puzzle. Lay out the facts, analyze them, figure it out. The kind of thing she would have liked to do, had she been sane.
She still has the mind of a scientist in there, underneath all the mental corruption. Let's see if we can reach it and get her to start helping herself.
No. 177488
[X] Treat it coolly. Never waver, and never leave her with any doubt. Do not hide it or make excuses, and be honest with everything no matter if it hurts. The change will become apparent.

Also, if we have a free moment...
[x] Try again with the glamour.
-[x] But instead of consciously trying to look human, try to remember the past, before all this crap happened.
That's how Lucas got his voice to sound normal, and we can safely assume that's made by the glamour, so...
No. 177490
[X] Treat it cooly. Never waiver, and never leave her with any doubt. Do not hide it or make excuses, and be honest with everything no matter if it hurts. The change will become apparent.
No. 177491
[x] Treat it cooly. Never waiver, and never leave her with any doubt. Do not hide or make it excuses, and be honest with everything no matter if it hurts. The change will become apparent.
[x] Be blunt, but also be understanding, use reason.
Also, if we have a free moment...
[x] Try again with the glamour.
[x] Think about yourself now, your memories and what you look like, that is you. Then remember your past and what you looked like before, different sensations and memories of your life before Gensokyo. Those memories are also you, bring them to the front of your mind.

I think a more cold, scientific approach is the correct choice. I think Rika's sister will respond to this better. I added the second part because if we can get through to her we have to then be ready to respond and help her if we break through her denial. We were both captured and transformed. We have similar experiences that hopeful we can use to help build her back up. I have a feeling this will be a test of Lucas's intelligence, reason, and communication skills.

I agree with >>177488 that memories may be the key to utilizing our glamour, after all the whole reason Margaret can manifest herself is that right now her memories are a part of us. I expanded that part of the vote for a couple of reasons. For one, we've been warned about being careful not to allow ourselves to fall too far into the glamour. I think this is why Margaret appeared when she did. Also, one of Lucas's greatest strengths has been his self awareness and ability to accept each part of himself. I think it's important to continue to do so in order to keep ourselves grounded.
No. 177582
The only thing I can think of to add is that Rikako is probably not going to believe Lucas without evidence. This might even be a way of coping with what was done to her. We could show her that Lucas can fly on wings that have no business supporting him. The big thing could be the song. It's not just magical, it's aggressively unnatural. It would even affect her differently from Rika. Probably not a good option, but at least it's there.
No. 177620
[-l-] Treat it cooly. Never waiver, and never leave her with any doubt. Do not hide or make it excuses, and be honest with everything no matter if it hurts. The change will become apparent.
[-l-] Try again with the glamour.
-[-l-] Use your memories, as you had before.

------------

While you are hurried, you force yourself to slow down as you walk through the metal monstrosities. There is nothing to be gained by hurrying up and rushing to Rikako. You don't know what she is like. You've only heard what others have said about her. Even if you have the funny feeling that you've met her before, you can't take it for granted. You need to approach it calmly, preventing the both of you from getting excited.

You'll have to act like Margatroid and keep both Rikako and you under control.

In that vein, you force yourself to slow down and you take deep breaths. Whatever weariness is in your bones has to be ignored for now. The beast in the back of your mind has to be ignored as well, for better or for worse. Instinct may serve you well, but it will not serve the maddened scientist.

Eventually you realize you are muttering to yourself. Every lifting tidbit you are thinking leaves your mouth as you vocally try to remind yourself of what you need to do. It's somewhat surprising how seriously that you're taking this. You don't know this person at all… You know her sister, though. And after what has happened on the other side, you'd hate to have her loose someone that is much more dear to her heart.

It still doesn't help when you're trying to figure out how to hide these wings of yours, along with all your other inhuman portions. If she reacts poorly to magic, you can well imagine how she'll react to someone with large claws for fingers, at least on one of your hands.

Your earlier attempt to hide yourself with a glamour was decidedly unsuccessful. Some thoughts come to mind as you consider if you're doing this the wrong way. Perhaps, instead, you should treat it the same way you did when Margatroid invaded your mind and ended up leaving that small piece of herself in there. You had to think of your past that time to recover your voice, and your mind. The voice took effort then, but now it is natural.

Your focus is divided between thoughts on how to help Rikako and how to hide yourself. One moment you are trying to remember how you looked, how short and dull your fingers were, and the lack of feathers of any type, while the next you are debating how to approach a mentally ill patient of a sort. You desire a way that she could be treated, while also wish to know a way that you can regain your ears, even if it is only through an illusion.

As much as you desire, nothing happens. No swirly of energy cloaks you, just as it hadn't earlier. Maybe your efforts have been fruitless… Or you simply haven't learned the method to the madness. Still, you can't stand out here all night. You've something to do. Hesitation grips you for a few more seconds before you grab the handle and turn it, bracing yourself for any hostile reaction that is sure to follow.

Inside of the door, you find a room that is stark white, with nary a blemish on the tiles that line the floor. A woman lies strapped on a table, her straitjacket tightly wrapped over her skeletal frame. The jacket itself is latched to the table. Her head is shorn of hair; the woman looks like a baby as she lies there. The only piece of furniture that can be seen is a small rolling cart that is next to the door, positioned as if you had just rolled it inside. The walls are just as pale, with the only spot of color being a window that shows rolling green hills outside. A tree at the top of the farthest hill sways gently in the wind, its leaves shaking in the soft breeze.

"…What in the world? How can there be a window underground?" That is one of the oddest things you've yet seen in this hideout. You can't help but to shake your head at how blatantly magical it is. "That can't be helping things… Wait. They aren't that dumb, and I've yet to see anything so obviously magical. There's no other window like this in the facility either. If I was underground, and had to be, I'd like to see scenery from outside. Unless there is a reason that I'm missing, perhaps for security, they'd want to have as many windows as possible…"

A pit forms in the bottom of your stomach as you look down at your hands, and you discover to your amazement that they are soft and pink. You pull up the long white sleeve you are suddenly wearing, and you see and feel pale skin and flesh instead of wood and brass. Checking your ears, you feel fine hair just covering the pliable cartilage of your ears.

It doesn't take much to discover that you are down to four limbs, instead of six.

You barely manage to keep from laughing out loud, although you can't keep the grin off your face as you keep checking yourself. "I never thought I'd miss my ears this much… Or my hands, for that matter." It is fortunate that no one is there to witness what you are doing, or they would think that you've gone insane. After another minute, though, you manage to calm down enough to remember what you are supposed to be doing. You're here for a reason, after all. And that white jacket you're suddenly wearing seems to be a part of it.

"I guess I'm controlling this subconsciously, after all. Or perhaps it'd be better to say that I triggered it. Can't exactly tell…" Cautiously, you step into the room and shut the door behind you. There is a lock on the door, but it would take a key to bolt it shut and you're not sure it'd be a good idea to, in the end.

Before you even dare to get close to the girl, you check on the cart that has spawned inside the room. On the upper tray are a fair few gruesome instruments that make you pale. To your eyes, they look more like torture devices than anything else; all they are designed to do is to drill and pull and bleed. "…Actually, I hope it isn't my subconscious. If it were, I wouldn't want to know why I'm generating this. Bah, I can't think on it now. I need to finish this."

Once done, you glance back at the door, only to find that it has vanished from sight. A chill runs down your spine as you turn away. As twisted as a few parts are, you hope that it's not due to any other influences. There is nothing in this sanitarium to signify otherwise… But you know better to assume that all is well.

You push all that from your mind and walk towards the table in the center of the room. Hands clasped behind your back, you look over the girl as she breathes softly. Your footfalls are quiet, and no matter how close you get you never wake up the woman. Rikako is dead to the world.

Whatever realm she is alive in, it must be a peaceful one.

"Time to wake up." You've waited long enough to begin. While tempted to lean down and poke her, you need to keep yourself contained. If Rikako thinks you're a Youkai that was toying with her, you'd rather not think of what her reaction would be. Whatever you say, it seems enough to wake her up, and her eyes are bleary as she blinks them open.

They do not remain that way for long. Her eyes widen as she looks back and forth, taking in every inch of the scenery. "Where am I? This is not where I went to sleep. This is no dream. Lucid, perhaps, but if it were, I wouldn't remain in this jacket for long." Rikako's head swivels towards you. "What is this facility? Where am I? Am I not located in that dungeon underground any longer?"

"You are someplace safe, Rikako." You cross your arms and look down at her, not wavering a bit. "Calm down. There is little to be discussed if you do not remain in control of your facilities."

"You're not answering the question, so the answer is no." Rika looks at the window, and her frown deepens. "What is this that you've placed on the wall? That is nothing natural there."

"Why is it not natural? There is nothing implicitly wrong with a window."

"Perhaps I should have stated that it is not possible. Considering that we are underground, a window should not be able to exist unless we are above ground level and located in the side of a mountain or a cliff face."

You simply paste a smile on your face and nod at her. "Very true. And I will not bother you with semantics, as we are certainly underground."

"Then that is not possible…" Her eyes widen more and she starts tugging at her jacket, struggling to get out. "I must… Get rid of it. That doesn't exist. A hallucination, abomination, annoyance. That's all that it is. Let met out of this!"

A frown crosses your face as you watch the woman froth as she pulls at her restraints. "Rikako, calm down like I said. You're acting irrationally."

She snaps her head towards you once more and yanks at her straps. "How is this irrational? The very thing that I aim to eliminate is irrational! It flouts the very laws that weave this reality together into a semblance of order!"

"I would have to say that is very shortsighted. Just because something exists and is irritating or harmful doesn't necessary mean that it exists without purpose. You should know that."

"Well, prove it then." She glares at you from inside her restraints. Rikako glances toward the window once more, but she shanks her head away as if she cannot stand to even gaze at it. "Show me something that would prove it."

"You know that would be impossible, Rikako. You're asking me to prove something that is your opinion. And no matter what proof I could give you, you would find some way to dismiss it." You shake your head sadly as you look down at her. "After all, you've already set your mind to one thing. Or perhaps it would be better to say that your mind has been set for you. It's diametrically opposed to logical thought, as you will twist any argument I make into one that support you and only you."

"Are you trying to insult my intelligence? I am perfectly capable of rational thought. I just fail to see the need to debate on a subject matter where the answer is patently obvious."

"Then you have been blinded by your own lack of curiosity. Tell me, what is it that you have against magic? What is the deepest urge within you that makes you scream out in anguish whenever it is so much as mentioned? Your disgust is quite apparent."

Colorful words you may be preaching, but the content may be bothering her more than the somewhat loquacious delivery. "I do not hate it simply because it exists. It is a horrible creation that serves only to help the foolish delude themselves. It seems to propagate where the damned and the changed befoul this planet, and serves to be driven back just as they should be as well."

From the sound of it, you can almost imagine her cursing at undead creatures. After everything that you've seen, you wouldn't even bat an eyelash if that turned out to be true. "So you believe magic is bad because it is used by some creature that is intrinsically evil, at least to human perceptions. Isn't it incorrect to make such an assertion based on subjective feelings?"

"It isn't just that. I was party to it before I awoke to the reality. It simply is not real, no matter whatever I did before. There were so many that I killed simply by the virtue of my abilities. They needn't have died had it not existed."

"Now you're starting to contradict yourself. If it does not exist, how could you have killed people with it?" There will be time later to ask her and Rika about that. "You can't have it both ways. I'm not that learned on my fallacies, but I don't have to be to realize how contrary you are being."

"But… It isn't real. Can't be real. It's something horrible, something unethical. I had it… It is in me… Is it still in me? I have to get it out! Get it out!" Rikako starts yanking at her restraints once more, but this time she even starts snapping at them. Her hands squirm under her jacket as she fiddles with the sleeves, trying to find some purchase to detach the straps. You are nearly certain that she'd have no success in doing as such.

However, somehow, one thread begins to snake out of the sleeve, just as it inches towards the latch. Rikako can't make the latch pull up, but it does shift a bit as the thread snakes out of the thick weave. "I don't know how you managed to do that, but you need to calm down. The magic won't leap out and kill you. You'll end up killing yourself if you try to remove it."

"Doesn't matter. Wrong, incomprehensible reprehensible! It has to come out! I can't have it foul me, hurt me, hurt sister!" She looks up at you with wide, pleading eyes, and she continues to implore you to let her out. "Don't let it hurt me, or hurt anyone. Must get it out, I have to get it out!"

"I can't let you out, Rikako. You'll be safe there, as long as you stay restrained. I just need to figure out how to heal you…" Finally, you move from your place at her side and move around to her head. "Or at least change what was done. Was your mind altered by some method?"

"What are you going to do? You're going to harm me, aren't you? I know that cart. Is it the screws? Going to go into the head not the magic in the gut the brains in my skull. Going to drill and pry and mummify, I can tell! I can tell can tell can tell you will!"

"So that cart is here before? Or is there something else that torments you?" Frowning, you glance around the empty white room. There's nothing there in the room with you, as far as you can tell. The white walls reflect light, but you cannot see your reflection on them should you peer in.

However, as you glance about, you notice the cart is gone. If your earlier guess was correct, it would simply be due to your desire to have it removed. However, if there is another in here… "There's no time. I don't know how Margatroid did it, but if there is something that I can do in your mind as she did with mine…" At that, you raise your hands and put them near her head.

"Do not do that." You snap your head up and look to the source of the new voice, but there is nothing there. "That is not your toy to touch and alter. Attempting to modify it is forbidden."

[ ] Talk.
[ ] Tear.
[ ] Shout.

Choose carefully.
No. 177627
Well that's fantastic.

[x]Shout

As much as I don't want to just try something once and give up on it, I feel like just trying to talk will give her time to hurt herself as she tries to fight back too strongly to an invasion that might not even be coming. At the same time, treating this coolie as seemed to work remarkably well.

Tearing sounds like the beast, which sounds like a terrible idea to let loose. We might shred her psyche or we might suddenly just decide we are hungry because we've aggressively buried a part of us that's been kept in check by consistently acknowledging it. Still, the beast is the more natural part of us that should be able to interfere with glamours, so trusting it for a minute might be the best idea.

Shouting sounds like it may break away from our glamour, but it could also be a frantic and desperate doctor trying to get through to a patient. It might get her attention again, startle her into submission for a second, or perhaps it will fire up the voice-box which has been helpful in the past.

They all feel like bad choices though, so whatever is the least bad is probably our best bet. Trying to leave not being an option seems to indicate she will self lobotomize if we are slow.
No. 177632
[x] Talk, but be ready to shout if anything starts happening.

Huh-freaking-zah, we've got our arms back! And our ears...
No. 177640
[x] talk
if needed
[x] Shout
[x]Be prepared to protect her from outside forces.

I think we need to break through her denial and force her to accept that despite what happened to her she is still herself. We need her to understand like we did, that just because she's been changed, it doesn't mean she's not still herself. After all she still cares deeply about her sister and that bond could be the strength she needs to look inside herself. Considering our own experiences, if anyone can help her embrace herself, while still staying sane, it's us. I don't know if we can, but for both her and Rika's sake, we need to try. At the same time our elemental powers have always been the most controlled and using them if needed seems the best route.
I added the last part because I think it may be more then just memories haunting Rikako. The last line about toy to modify makes me think there may just be a kappa in the shadows. After all, I don't remember anything about them killing the one who kidnapped her, and even if they did, we all know that doesn't mean they're dead. If there is a youkai here, we need to be ready to protect her and ourselves. Another reason the shout might be effective is because if there is a youkai here, it could force it to show itself, allowing us to confront it and probably bring help. I would think they have wards or something on the base, though we can't count on that for sure. Either way if there is a youkai here, we need to do whatever we can to protect her.
No. 177642
[X] Shout.

I'm worried about this becoming another Mystia. What if something truly bad is happening? What if Rikako damages herself simply because we didn't stop her? Or worse, what if it's not Rikako that's doing this? Wouldn't it be better to act, and risk hurting her in a controled way over letting something else do it for us in an uncontroled way? Ripping and tearing could have saved Mystia, but I don't think it would help here. Maybe if we shout, we might save her from herself or worse.
No. 177643
[X] Shout.

Been awhile since I last voted, your stories tend to be pretty intense for casual voting Luminous.

I was going to hold off, but like >>177642 said, I don't want to chance this turning into another Mystia. Last time we choose talk over action it got someone killed, hopefully that was meant to be a learning experience.
No. 177644
>>177640

Changing my vote here to

[x] Shout

I agree with >>177642
I'm generally an advocate of being careful, but sometimes you have to act, and if there is an outside force here we need to confront it if we ever want to help Rikako. Besides if we always listened to what we were told, we'd still be Wiggle's pet.
No. 177650
[X] Shout

>>177642
I'm worried about people being overly paranoid because of burnt once, twice shy.
What am I saying? Lucas simply wasn't paranoid enough last time.

And a wrong decision is always better than no decision. Nothing ruins everything like inactivity.
No. 177653
>>177650
Although, to be fair, that was a case of REALLY stupid voting (though I personally wasn't around here at the time). There, the threat should've been unbelievably obvious.
Even if it was disguised as a cute little dolly...
No. 177656
[X] Shout.

>>177653
Well, it was more like 'since we're already home free, let's try to give this doll another chance', despite a warning from the first voter who pointed out that childlike =/= reasonable.

The main problem was that there wasn't much discussion among the voters, who also dismissed the warnings of their predecessors, so basically, we're doing a better job than them by actually considering potential outcomes, rather than jumping onto bandwagons assuming that we'll be given a favorable outcome.

To be fair, they didn't know the writer would kill off Mystia just like that... But then again, they should've known that the entire story revolves around earning your happy ending, and that underestimating any potential threat is just asking for a heart-breaking result.

I wouldn't be surprised if some of those voters were among those who voted to 'play' with Alice. The sheer naivety of the previous story's voters is mind boggling.
No. 177661
>>177656
Honestly, it also didn't help that I hadn't done anything that blatant. During that whole last sequence, I had a death set on pretty much every choice. That last one and they'd have been home clear. It killed me to go through with that. Aya, Elly, and Yuuka were dead or worse, but that had happened before. Nobody was emotionally invested with them. It was the opposite for Mystia. I hope I won't have to do so again.

This was a similar choice as well. And perhaps you should really define what that happy ending that you want is. I'll see if I can update tonight. May or may not have the time.
No. 177663
You're tempted, at least for a few seconds, to directly address her and talk her down. You know that it is no good. Rikako here is going mad, and you're not dealing with this creature, whatever it might be. Removing your hands, you ball them up and turn around to look at the creature.

White walls are all that you can see. "Remove yourself, now. This one has already been claimed, Youkai. If you wish to make yourself an enemy, it will be known to my creator, who is far superior than you." Your claws dig into the palm of your hand as you continue to search for the origin of the sound.

There's no creature you can see. The fetch, if that is what it is, remains hidden in the walls. Now isn't the time to dig them out. "I'm sorry to hear that. Although, I'm not here to talk. Just͏ ͡g͠et͘ ou̡t of̷ he͡r mi͝n̷d b́ef͏orȩ Ì h͝av̧e ̵t̀o̷ ̀hu͜r͢t͟ yo̧u."

The walls shimmer as you speak. That one window on the far wall begins to change. The wind picks up and the blue sky within begins to darken. "I have some powers, Youkai. Begone from that which is claimed. You are not to take your own plaything to toy with! I am to destroy this one before you are allowed to do that?"

"Ţh̴e͜ń it͟'̢s͟ a̷ goǫd̵ ͞t̕hi̡ng ͢I͝'̧m̸ n҉o͠t͘ g̕oing͜ t̛o h͢ol̡d́ ͠bac̕k̶,̴ r҉i̴ght̢?" You grin a bit as your wings flap a bit. You are getting more anxious by the second, but this thing must not be strong enough to fight back. Is it even truly a fetch? "Y̵òu͡ ͘c͜la̛im ͝t̷hi͡s wóman͡ as̸ ͜y͠o͟u̢r҉s, bųt she̸ i͡s not́. E͢v̷en ͡a̧f̴t͏ȩr al͜l͜ ̵th͝is t̶i̕me͞, ̴şh̷e f̷i̕g͏ḩt́s̛ ͜with̕in̶. It is̵ onl̀y͠ b҉y͟ th̀e madn̷es͢s̛ ̶t́ha͞t c͡ǫr͟ru̴pte͟d her͘ ̴t͢hat ͘s̸h͏e ̛f̛alls̨ ̧ţo͏ ̸i̛n͘s͏a̢n̡i̛ty͡. Y̢o̶u̶ ͢w͠i͝l̴l n̛ev̧er ҉hav̶e̕ her. ͜ ͞I w̕on't ̶ĺet y̴ou ̴have͡ ̀an͟othe̛r͟.͢"

"You have never been harmed by my creator, but she will know now to right you for this." Curiously enough, the voice never wavered as it tried to talk back at you, but it grew softer with every brown word that you spake. "She knows, and will come for you."

"I'̧l̷l̕ ̨àd͞d̸ it̀ ̨to ͜m̶y̨ l̶i͡s͝ţ.̸" The walls continue to waver, and you think you see the faint stone that lies beyond them. "Bu̶t͢ ̶I ͟do͝n'̛t͞ ͞rea̛l̡ly͟ ca̷re̢. I'm stil̛l b̕r̡eat͝hi̸nģ, s̡o͟ y̸oų ̧aŗȩ no͞t͟ ͜go҉iǹg t͡o̶ ̕ha̵r̕m̧ ̴h̷e͞ŗ!̴"

In the window on the wall, a storm is brewing. The tree in the distance is being blown over as the wind whips up and begins plucking leave from limps that snap at its ferocity. Even as the sky darkens, you notice a small figure appearing on the wall. It is small, but it grows larger and larger as it runs towards the window. It ignores the damage done to the room.

"Do̶n't̴ y͢ou ̕dar͢e͟!" Your wings spread fully as you head over towards the window, placing yourself between yourself and the creature running inside. "I w̨ill̶ ̧n̡o͜t ̵l̷et̸ ̧you ̛throu͜g͟h̕!́ Ev̀en i̴f̛ t̸h̡is ͢i̷s ̛no͏t t́he̛ ҉pa͡th ̴i͏ns͠ide҉, y̕o͜u ̨wil̴l ̶not̷ ma̷ke i͠t ҉p͞ąs͠t ͢ḿe! I̸͏ ̵̧͡w̛͡͠į́ļ̸l ͜d̛͠e̢s̨̛͏tŕo̶͢y͠ ỳo̴u͞,͞ ͘͠͠a̸҉͞n̨͡d͟ I̷ w͘il̵l̕ ̵̸͢t̸̀͘ak̕͠e w̕͢h̕á̕t̷͜͞eve͢͡r̢͡ r͜em̶̨̢a͜͏͠i̴n͜s̨͢ a̴͏͜n̨d҉ ̷͏͞s͡h͡o͘͡v͝͠e̷̛ ̵̶͢it͟͠ ̨down̡͜ ̢̡́th̡e҉̡ ̶̡t͠h̵ro̷a̴̡͠t̵ ̨o̶f whaţe̷v̶̛̕e̡̛͞r͏ ̧͟Y̛͞͏o̷͞u̡ka̸̕͢i y̷̷ơ͜͞u̧͘ ̴̢͘c̛͞àĺ͝l̀͏̵ ́͠y̴̨͢o̵u̧r̡͝͝ ̡͟m̢̧͘a̛s͞ter̷̛!̡͢͞ T͉̟͉͛̐͐̑ͣhͨ̍̒͊̈̄ͦͨ҉̡̣̦̥͈͍̫̳͡ͅỉ̷̴̯̤̯͕͉̹͖̺̣̊̈͗͠s̷͈̰̫̳ͭ̽ͬ ̶̺͓͚͎̪͔̯̠ͥ̇̈́h̄ͯͮ̉̈́̓̑͏̥u̷̶̥͍͇̯͉͙͈̣͊ͭ̉̍̿̓̍̒m̴̶̟͔̊a̶̖̲̦͚͚̖̱ͮn̢̩̱ͦ͛̏̀ ̵͚͇͈̔ͫͬͪ̀i̻̲̓̂̈̋̊ͤ̿̓̂s̗̙͎̥̫̻̪̝̘̋̅̅̍ͪ̑̍ͫ͟ ̵̬͚̙̳͇̖̫́͗̐͜͝n̷̪̭̼ͦ͆ͪ̇̽ͩ͐́̚̚͡o͓̺͉̜̖͇͐̃ͧͤ͆̓̕͞ṫ̝̰̘͇̜͍̇ͭ̆̂ͬͧ͡ ̗͉͐ͮ̐̅̂ͬ̽̆y̠̒ͥ̿̌͝ọ͈̹̩͔̤͕͚̻͛ͬ̽͒ͨ̆ͬ̋ͥu̘͔̝̤̗̞͆r̗̖̳̜̜̳̮͈ͥͭͧͦͧ̋̚s̼̪ͭ̑!̶̡̲̖͕͖͙̈͌͑̋̄
"

All of your talk slowly gives away as you let loose a guttural roar, sending it spinning through your music box and screeching out of your mouth. The walls continue to crack and peel away, revealing the rough and familiar surface underneath. The glamour shimmers softly as it begins to fall apart in front of your eyes.

In the window, you see the creature running towards you yet. Even so, the form is struggling to even stand, as the sheer force of the winds has long uprooted the tree in the background. The only thing you can see to tell who or what it is would be the shock of red hair on its head. Before it gets any closer, though, the window itself cracks and shatters, falling into a million pieces as it scatters into the air before you.

Through all of this, Rikako shivers on the table, her head whipping back and forth as she tries to block out your unholy screech. The song itself is proving effective, though, and the room you entered is peeling away to reveal that which had been hidden before. You soon find yourself facing the ghostly outline of a bench that is scattered with small little tools and instruments, many of which have the unmistakable tint of red embedded on their tips.

Eventually, however, the glamour seems to shine for a second before vanishing before your very eyes. You are left standing in the room as you slowly wind down your box, letting out a few more tinkling notes before shaking your head. "T̶hat şe̶e̕me̢d͡ ͟to̷… Ahem. That seemed to have worked, at least. Did it get rid of her insanity, though?"

You turn around, ignoring the resurgence of your inhuman body parts. You could try to remove them, but by the time you figured that out, you could discover if Rikako has reacted at all.

The woman is lying on the table and breathing harshly as you walk towards her. Somehow, she has managed to force her arms out of her jacket, although you soon manage to spot the rips she has torn through the straightjacket. Her hands are visibly bleeding from her nails, and the few motions that she makes are ginger.

"Rikako? Can you hear me?" You glance at the door, which is still closed shut. Nobody is attempting to open it from the other side. "Just wake up. Do you still feel the same way? Or was I able to drive that thing out?" She doesn't respond for a few seconds, and you lean closer to see if she responds. The moment your face is over hers, Rikako's eyes snap open.

The very next moment, you are thrown into the nearby wall.

Pain wracks your skull as your vision flares white, and you cannot see anything for a short eternity. Your ear holes manage to pick up the sound of latches being undone, and you raise your head to try and look at the woman.

You can see the outline of a woman floating up in the air, righting herself as she gently descends to the ground. Rikako looks at you for a few seconds before extending her hand to the table. Metal scrapes against wood, and a few scraps begin to float into the air and towards her.

The splitting headache doesn't dull your instincts, and you make your way back to your feet as quickly as possible. The hurried ascent does serve to trigger vertigo, and you waver back and forth as you try to see exactly what is happening.

The various bits of metal and scraps float in the air before they begin deforming themselves. With just the twitch of Rikako's pinky, wire bends and metal flattens and the pieces begin to automatically attach and assemble. In just a few seconds, the shroud on the object glows and it floats into her hand. Without waiting another moment, she places her finger on the trigger and points it square at you.
No. 177665
A moment later, the haphazardly constructed pistol rises and fires at the lock, incinerating it with a burst of light. "I was wondering how you would react. It seems that I owe you my thanks, Youkai."

You let out a sigh of relief and put a hand on your head. "Thank goodness. I was honestly concerned that you were going to shoot me right there."

"I considered it. But you actually looked afraid for a moment. There still are some human emotions left within there. …Then again, you did drive it out for a reason, after all." Rikako smiles a bit before looking at her particular instrument of destruction. "I apologize for being crude, but I needed to make sure."

"Figures. At least you're quite a bit more reasonable than others…" Your vision finally begins to settle down, and you notice something particularly odd. That smile is a bit too wide to be wholesome. "…Wait a second… Did you just try to scare me witless just to yank my chain?"

"I have not idea. And I'm quite sure that's not how that phrase goes." Rikako palms her weapon as she heads to the door. "I do need to get going, though. I seem to have taken the piss while you were busy messing around in my head. I believe that I'll need to clean myself and make sure that my sister is ok. And in that order, if she doesn't want to smell."

"Sure, sure. I don't want to smell it either." You grumble a bit as you stare around. "You're going to leave me here to explain where you've gone? Akyuu will probably think that I've eaten you, or something similar."

"I'm quite sure that she will. But there is too much to do. Whatever schedule I was on before is quite behind, and there are many things that need to be done. I am afraid that you will have to do all of the explaining yourself."

"Just wait a second. At least tell your sister. She is quite worried about you." You cross your arms and look at the woman. To your own consternation, you notice you have to look up to look her in the eye. "Don't leave her hanging."

The woman shoots you a glare and shakes her head. "I'd rather her not see me in this state. I'm rank and bald, not to mention a few other things."

"You did say you owed me. And this is your sister. Besides, am I going to have to frogmarch you out there?"

Rikako rolls her eyes a bit but nods. "Well, I suppose I won't have to worry about having my dignity anymore. …Heh. I should just listen to myself. Maybe I should just take this stick out of my own rear. Come on, then, Youkai."

"I'm not…" You can't help but to watch her walk off before slumping your arms and sighing. "Well, it could be worse. She recovered more quickly than I thought she would…"

------------

Gonna be the stop tonight. I'll post some more, along with choices, tomorrow. Didn't want to leave you on the cliffhanger (I'm only so cruel). Feel free to go ahead and write-in before I provide choices though.
No. 177686
Actually, decided on choices. You still have some hours before dawn, so decide what you will do. I'm opening up the sandbox for you to pick anything. Try to help Marisa/get potions, help Rika fix stuff/prepare, assist Rikako, try and get on Harmon's good side, attempt to find Felia, talk to Rinnosuke, search for Mystia, schmooze with Akyuu and get on her good side; whatever you want to do. If you manage to misjudge and be in a bad position, I'll leave it at that, so choose wisely how to spend the next few hours.

So, in effect:

[ ] What does Lucas do?
&
[ ] Lucas PoV
[ ] Marisa PoV

And have a Mystia. I've a folder full yet, and I miss her as much as you all.
No. 177687
I hate open-ended questions, so I'm gonna hold off on voting this time.

>>177686
Part of me wants to believe you, but... Another part of me wants to call bullshit.
No. 177690
>>177687
On Mystia? Why would I not miss her? She wasn't my favorite of the birds, but she was the one that needed the escape the most. She was the one that had been browbeat, the one that was injured on Lucas's behalf. She wasn't mystifying or confusing, and hid less than the others from Lucas. She was also the closest thing to a normal person in that realm; she was his companion to escape. She survived long enough that I thought, just maybe, they could get to the end and at least have the good ending. They could manage to escape and they could sit down, rest, and just be. There'd be no more running, and nothing after them... At least for a little bit. There could be a happy ending.

After multiple votes, during which each one would trigger a death flag if it was picked, we looked like we were in the home stretch. Tokiko was the one that was picked to die in that sequence. It was an acceptable loss, although I hated the thought of having to kill her off. Imagine my joy at having her survive so long (her being brought back notwithstanding, as I had that one safety net remaining), and we near the end of the story. There is one choice left and you would get off scot-free. Lucas would manage to protect Mystia.

Sadly, that was not to be the case. I had to watch as the votes tallied up the wrong way, and I nearly went back and took pity. They knew not what they did. But there had to be consequences. I hated myself for writing that, and killing off the one character who deserved it the least. (Including Okuu, but not the dolls) And this is after I had planned for the rest of the story, the bare whispers of this story, for Mystia and Amsterdam along with Tokiko if she managed to survive.

So, please stop with that particular insinuation. I do not enjoy taking a knife to a good character's throat and removing her head thusly from her body. I was not happy at all that a character I had built up and written for so long managed to leave. It's the nature of the CYOA, but it was merely a breakdown in judgement. A gauntlet of important choices is capped by one last death flag that should be simple enough to discern. Yet, it was not, and everything was lost in an instant.

After all, this choice was one that was just as similar (although the choice was more difficult). One choice would have lobotomized Rikako. The next would have rendered her powerless (and she would be killed soon enough afterwards). One would save her mind. And, if for some reason you decided it wasn't worth it and voted to leave her be, a chain of events would have taken place where she would be in a position to kill her own sister, so mad she would be driven (and so twisted the doctrines forced into her ears).

I don't want that to happen. I want the happy ending to occur. I wanted to have sappy story of sparrows and kestrels be the end result, but as someone already pointed out, you have to earn it. Instead, instead of Mystia ending up waiting for our main character, a changeling who has fulfilled her deal has taken the night sparrow's place. I hope you have considered some of the ramifications of this, as I certainly have. Don't make me do something that I'd rather not.

After all, you've missed some flags already since Lucas woke up.
No. 177692
[X]Marisa PoV
-[X] Warn Akyuu of the massage from Felia.

While I would love to look for Mystia, that seems ultimately pointless; we aren't in a place tied to her, and we have better things to be doing as of right now.
No. 177693
>>177690

You know, I had been wondering if we shouldn't have been taking more of an advantage of the current situation of being surrounded by people and lore. Unless I've missed something we can still read those one books and I don't think there has been an attempt to search out a library of some kind.
No. 177695
Well with those words of god.

[x] Search for Mystia
Fuck yeah, lets drag our happy ending kicking and screaming into the light.

Besides she has our shirt.
+
[x] Marisa Pov
No. 177696
>>177690
I stared at the wall of text rushing towards me, accepting the words as they bashed me to bits.

But in all seriousness, sorry for that (apology spoilered because it's long). I've been known to carry a joke too far... And I'm the one who made up the whole Luminous=Rumia bit...

Now, let's actually make this post worth something...
[X]Marisa PoV
-[X] Warn Akyuu of the massage from Felia.
We haven't seen her POV for quite a while.
No. 177701
>>177690
The real problem is you tell us not to provoke you, but when someone does you go and answer a lot of my unasked questions and give us solid information. If there's one thing your stories have taught me, it's information is precious. In all seriousness though, the fact everyone, for the most part, seems to be taking these votes seriously shows how much you've made us care about what happens to these characters. It's one of the things that drew me to it in the first place. The fact you take the time to not only use our votes, but you seem to integrate our discussions, shows you care. You don't make it easy, but then considering the situation, you probably shouldn't.

[x] Make sure Rikako and Rika are alright.
[x] Warn Akyuu and Harmon
-[x] Be careful

I'm also tempted to search out Rinnosuke and ask about our glamour. I added in Harmon because I worry about his sister. I'm staying away from the POV vote because I'm just not sure which would be best. I almost didn't vote at all. I think we should stay away from Mystia's ghost, assuming that was serious, because from our conversation with Reimu about projecting images and obsession, I think madness may lie in that direction. Even though I know we all miss her.
No. 177704
Would it be possible to learn German by getting it in a deal with Rika or someone? Being able to communicate more easily with Tokiko might make things easier when we link up with her.
No. 177715
>>177701
I suppose you are correct. I haven't really considered it, but I do try to work in little hints here and there. Perhaps I'm being too generous; then again, I can't remember any occasion where said advice was able to change the voting.

And I have noticed that it is more serious this time around, of which I am most appreciative. I think it has also helped that I slowed down updates, so you now have more than 24 hours to decide something. Then again, it also allows the voters to overanalyze, so that's a double-edged sword itself.

Hopefully I'll never have to reset the thread to [-0-] again, though.

>>177696
No worries in the end. The point was made, and I did see where you were coming from. I could have worded it a bit better myself. Also, the Rumia thing only irked me as I am assuredly not a Hungry Youkai. I'd rather not try to steal another's mantle.

I'll call the thread later tonight, and it will either be up late or tomorrow. Unless I get stuck on this 1632/Touhou crossover idea. Cardinal Richelieu vs Remilia Scarlet amuses me for some reason.
No. 177716
>>177715
I always took the hints as a reward for the fact we are taking this seriously. Also it's not always about the current vote, sometimes it helps with future situations. A lot of the times it's just interest on my part. Either, as in this case, you let us know what would have happened if we had picked the other options, something I was really curious about, or you give us insight about the previous story, which as someone who didn't know about this site until the second thread of this story, is enlightening.
I also hope you never have to reset the thread to [-0-] because that means we've completely fucked up.
No. 177721
>>177716

The previous story is still there, you realize. You could go back and read it if you search for Luminous in the author bar. In fact, let me do it for you. Just in case you don't know of this function.

http://www.touhou-project.com/storylist.php?title=&author=Luminous&board%5B%5D=0&status%5B%5D=any
No. 177724
>>177721
Huh. Hadn't looked up before, but When Borders Meet Their End isn't under that grouping. Eh. I'll need to get on the ball on that one. I've figured out how I want to work going straight to Stage 3 there, instead of 1 or 2. I had to change my mental approach to get it to work though.

Anywho, telling Akyuu about the message it is. I'll assume (so help me Margatroid) that you didn't mean massage, as I do not recall that occurring. If it were, Ilia would be the one more likely to give one.
No. 177725
>>177721
I am aware and I read it before I started reading this one. That doesn't mean all the events and mysteries got answered in the story itself or the QA session afterwards. Thanks for the thought though.
No. 177726
[-n-] Marisa PoV
-[-n-] Warn Akyuu of her message from Felia.
-[-n-] Then Harmon
-[-n-] Make sure the sisters are all right.

------------

"I'm not going to even bother about it. There are too many things I have to do, and trying to get a straight response from her is the last thing that I need to do." Parsing her logic is too much work for you to bother with right now. It is easier to just excuse it as her still being addled from finally regaining her mind. Who wouldn't be after the amount of torture that she was put through?

Still, you follow her out as she carefully walks out into the large room. At the very least, you can follow them back until she gets to Rika. You'll not intrude on the reunion, but it wouldn't take any effort. Actually, it would take more effort to avoid her on the way back through the shop.

It allows you time to figure out what you need to be doing next. There's hardly any time for you to wait around. You need to head up and tell the boss of this place first thing. It still is surreal telling a little girl these things, but not as much as you expected. Knowing that she was perfectly capable of beating you thoroughly goes a long way to tempering your reaction. Aside from her, though, you will need to keep an eye out for Harmon. You do want to stay on his good side, and you are concerned about his sister. Layla wouldn't be able to defend herself from anything, and he wouldn't be able to do much himself.

For her part, Rikako continues to mutter under her breath as she looks around. The room this far back is even more of a mess than the rest of the garage, and she doesn't seem happy. It also is not helped when she comes across an errant bolt lying about under a plate that is not securely fashioned. Her responses are not apoplectic, but they are extremely close to it.

Rika is still where you left her, although she is still quite focused on her work. Her face is pale with worry, and her hands are shaking as she toys with a screwdriver. The screw itself falls out of its hole, but she barely notices and keeps attempting to screw it in. Once she realizes what she has done, she reaches down and tries to repeat her work.

However agitated she is, she does look up when she hears footsteps. You don't think you'll ever forget the look on her face as she looks at Rikako. There was fear at first, but the sheer joy that crossed it when she was addressed by name caused her to leap out of her seat and latch onto her sweaty, smelly sister.

It may not have been the smartest thing to do, but Rika didn't seem to care. Having finished your current duty, you slip between the iron giants and head towards the staircase. You keep an eye out for those that you seek the entire time; the more that you can warn, the better.

------------

"Dammit dammit dammit!" With a loud, frustrated cry, Marisa tosses the most recent concoction that she has brewed to the side, and the inert powder within scatters across the table. "Why can't these tomes be easier to read? If I could simply understand these books…" She groans again before slamming her head against the table. "I don't want to just banish them there. If I could open a portal and get everyone through, and to the same spot… But I can't figure out how to get there."

She snorts again and reaches for her hat, retrieving a set of spectacles. "I guess I need to try again. I mean; it's not like I have any choice. I never bothered to learn Sumerian. Better stuff to do…" Marisa grumbles and pulls out another book from the pile before reading it with the spindly glasses. "Not like it'll do me much good. These things are so inaccurate… Bah. I'm not sure if it's asking for salt or silt, much less a hundred other things."

For all of her complaints, she keeps on working, attempting to find something of use. However, for all the talk about circles of salt and runes, she can't find something to take her to that realm in particular. "About wish I could find some sort of Babylonian. Sumerian. Persian; I don't care. Bah. Always too many forms and functions. If I could simply brute force my way through this…" Marisa snorts as she takes the wired glass off of her face. "Well, I'd end up dying, in that regard. Although, I'd think that a giant laser beam is a worse paradox compared to a rift to that realm."

Done with her current attempts to construct a bridge to that realm, she chucks the book into the pile. "And I have to get all of these things somewhere where they won't be found. I probably can fit them in my hat, but I don't want them all falling out every time that I put them on…" Marisa groans and closes her eyes. "Just when I was getting comfortable. Sure, that little midget hates my guts, but I'm used to that. I suppose I should have thought over the offer a bit more when Reimu asked… Well, I can't do anything about it. And now I need to pull up stakes."

"It wouldn't be so simple as to be a false alarm, could it?" The witch's eyes cut towards the door. "A false alarm would be welcoming, although it'd be the last thing that'd happen. Why else would she start spouting off predictions? I'll just have to expect the worse. Those augmented lunkheads are a pain to fight…" Marisa stands up and stretches a bit, popping her back as she cracks her neck. "Gonna kill me one of these days if the Paradox doesn't get me first. Now that'd be a way to go…"

While unable to keep herself from laughing at her dark humor, Marisa heads over and searches for a large bag. "At least I figured out enough to work with space. Can't help that my mind isn't that twisted that I could visit with the angels dancing on the head of a pin. That'd be a sight to see, though. I wonder if they'd mind a witch to join in with them?" Snickering once more, Marisa finally pulls out a large bag and sets it down. "I suppose that's why they dislike me, even a little. Never could stay focused on one tradition. Never was great at any of them… Why am I even bothering to commiserate, though?"

The witch spends quite a while as she slips the unnecessary books into the bag. She uses the time she has to try and think of another way to work on a way out, but she can only draw a blank. "It's not going to work that easily. It never does. 'Swy I actually have to work at everything to even be as half as good as Reimu…" Marisa stares at a book on the philosophy of the martial arts and their relation to the supernatural as her mind drifts off. "What was she arguing about earlier? Heard her walking by. Didn't sound like she was talking with Akyuu, though."

It takes half an hour for her to finish stacking all of the books in the bag. There is no way they should actually be able to fit in there, but that is one law of physics that Marisa learned to defy long ago. "I'll get Lucas to carry all these. He doesn't have anything else. Although, that is if, and only if, Rika doesn't recruit him for something. She's way too enthusiastic for her own good." Marisa lets out a chuckle before tying off the bag and stacking all of her books on alchemy and correspondence on the desk. "Still, I'm not going to succeed in the portal for now. I need to stretch my legs…"

There's one thing to do before she heads out, though. If there's going to be any trouble, Marisa has to change to full witch. After all, what kind of witch walks around in blue jeans and an unzipped sweater? The kind that prefers not to wear bloomers. Still, necessities are that, and Marisa changes out and sticks her hat on her head just as she slides that mini-hakkero into her pocket.

As she does, she hears a loud squeal echo throughout the halls. "Wow… I think that would have deafened a dog if we had any at all here. But I know that voice… Rika. Did he manage to actually do something…?" Marisa smiles a bit. "If he did, that'll be more help than he'd imagine." She stops in her tracks and wheels about before fetching that tablet. "But if Rikako's back, I'm not going to even risk it. I'll just keep this on me."

Once done, she heads back out and takes a nice stroll through the hall as she ponders what to do next.

[ ] Find Kaguya. She has to teleport to the moon in some manner. Perhaps it would be in a similar method that Marisa needs?
[ ] Find Rinnosuke. He came from the other side, and he was quite knowledgeable, considering whom he served. Maybe he knows a way.
[ ] Stop on this for now, and work on ways to get Margaret out. Marisa can risk providence and good fortune later on.

------------

Friendly advice: You don't want to find the Babylonian.
No. 177728
[X] Find Rinnosuke. He came from the other side, and he was quite knowledgeable, considering whom he served. Maybe he knows a way.

Rinnosuke sounds like our best bet, going by the given logic.
No. 177729
[X] Find Rinnosuke. He came from the other side, and he was quite knowledgeable, considering whom he served. Maybe he knows a way.


Going to the moon isn't the same thing as going there, so I think our best bet is Rinnosuke.
No. 177730
[X] Stop on this for now, and work on ways to get Margaret out. Marisa can risk providence and good fortune later on.

As much as Lucas's companions need help, effectively bringing a helpless little girl into Gensokyo sounds like a terrible idea.
No. 177731
[x] Find Rinnosuke. He came from the other side, and he was quite knowledgeable, considering whom he served. Maybe he knows a way.
However! I'm wondering, if Marisa can't find him, if then maybe she could try to work on the Maggie project?
No. 177737
[X] Find Rinnosuke. He came from the other side, and he was quite knowledgeable, considering whom he served. Maybe he knows a way.

As much as I'd like to keep working on helping Maggie, I worry about what's coming. There's too many possible lives at risk.
No. 177753
[X] Find Rinnosuke. He came from the other side, and he was quite knowledgeable, considering whom he served. Maybe he knows a way.

Margaret's predicament is too complicated to be solved in just a few hours, so we ought to focus on problems we can solve readily within a few minutes.

Bumping for author progress.
No. 177787
[-o-] Find Rinnosuke. He came from the other side, and he was quite knowledgeable, considering whom he served. Maybe he knows a way.

------------

Lunarians may have to deal with the Changelings and their Youkai a lot more than Marisa, but the girl soon decided that it would be best to approach the troubled man. Even if Reimu killed his original master, Kourin might just know how he managed to traverse the realms and land here.

"The only problem is finding the man…" Grumbling just a bit, she heads for the elevator, as it is doubtful that he'll be on the first level. "Probably is in his room again and reading through that dictionary. At least Reimu managed to snatch that phonebook away from him before he memorized anything pass the first dozen pages… I'm just glad that he wouldn't be able to bind anyone just on the name." The thought of him managing to learn them all is unsettling enough. Almost as unsettling as him knowing the name of whatever he sees.

The search on the lower floor is cursory. Marisa darts into everyone while trying to find the Changeling. He is not in his room, however. The rooms that are nearby are all vacant themselves, save for the few at the end that were cordoned off for those that were still asleep. "Where is he? I doubt he went downstairs to the bay, and the other rooms down there are either storage or the Prismriver's…" Humming quietly, Marisa strokes her chin before walking back the way she came.

Quickly, she checks out in the grand staircase. She spots no one in the vast chamber. Now somewhat annoyed, she makes her way up the stairs and to the first floor once more, stepping high and fast to make her way up the steep staircase.

"Of course no one is in the halls… Everyone can just hide away in their rooms and work and make me come find them." There's nothing for her to do but to eel looking. The storage chambers at the end of the side passages have no one in them, and Reimu's door is locked along with Akyuu's. "Well, if he's not in the kitchen, he's either downstairs, or hidden in one of the corners at the end of the hallways. …Or he's left. Which would mean Reimu had to let him leave…"

Whatever thoughts may have begun to formulate in her mind cease as she finally finds the eagle-eyed man eating from a bowl in the very back of the kitchen. Marisa curses under her breath for having missed him in a room so close to her own, but she marches in and shuts the door behind her with a smile on her face. "Hey, Kourin! I was hoping that you could help me with somethin'…"

"What is it A-" Marisa shoots him a look, and Kourin returns it with a somewhat rueful smile. "Marisa. You seem rather peeved. What did I do to earn this ire?"

"I'm not peeved, I'm…" Marisa sighs and slumps down in her chair. "Listen. I need you to tell me how to get back to Gensokyo." The man immediately snaps to attention, becoming quite still as Marisa speaks. "My books that I've been using don't have anything specific for entry into that realm. I didn't know if you remember how your former master was able to cross back and forth between the realms."

"…Why do you want to go?" His eyes shift sideways, staring just at the wall for just a moment, but they soon lock onto Marisa's. "There must be a reason. Don't bother trying to dress it up, Marisa. I know how you like to pry information out of me."

"Relax, Kourin. There's a reason that I'm asking you instead of needling you." Marisa crosses her arms and looks down at him. She takes a breath before realizing what it looks like. "Alright, here, honest. I have a reason for my question. I need to find a way back there as part of the deal I made with that Changeling. I need to send him back to Gensokyo as part of the bargain."

Kourin actually relaxes a bit as Marisa sits down instead of looming over him, but his stare doesn't become any less intense. "I know of your deal, Marisa. However, have you stopped trying to take Margaret Spaans out of his mind? That was a higher priority, the last I had heard."

"Things have changed. We might be in a lot of trouble come morning… Or so our resident soothsayer said. If it's who I think it'll be, we'd have no chance in a straight up battle. This will be our escape route."

"That isn't a wise decision. You know what lurks on the other side. There is no indication of where in that realm you would end up. If you were particularly unlucky, you would find yourself facing one, or more, of the Youkai that you have forced back into that realm. You would be in danger of losing yourself."

Marisa grumbles and bangs her fist into the table. "I'm in danger of that everyday, Kourin. If I go too far, I could easily have myself wiped from existence. I can handle those things, at least. If I can contain myself enough so I don't die…"

A sigh passes his lips, as he can't help but to shake his head. "Someday that pride is going to be the end of you. If that doesn't kill you, you will end up going crazy. You intentionally defy the reality that exists in this realm. How easy would it be for you to take the next step and try to destroy that reality?"

"Kourin…" The man shakes his head once more, but he doesn't say anything else as Marisa thinks of how best to respond. I don't need you to remind me of that. Akyuu does it plenty enough as it is. At this rate, all I'll hear from people are those very same warnings. It gets a bit tiring."

"So what? It is the truth, and it is better for you to hear it repeatedly. After all, you know what your deal with the Youkai looks like." Kourin sighs and looks down. "And don't bother to tell yourself that he is merely a Changeling anymore."

"That's what I think of him. I'll call him that until I witness something that changes my mind."

"I doubt you'll have to wait long then…" Finally, Kourin looks down and away from Marisa. "After all, I was scrutinized heavily enough, and tree was a good reason for Reimu bringing me back. It is easy enough for me to understand why Lucas and Margaret are here. It is not so easy for the others, who see the Youkai as masquerading or mad. Perhaps both."

"I actually think that most of the others don't think of him like that… Although, now I’m just equivocating. Dammit, Kourin…" Marisa begins to tap her knuckles on her table as she watches the opposite. "Don't count yourself as separate either, Kourin. The only reason that you don't bother the others so much is because you don't go up to them and state their full name, along with what other details that you happen to be intrigued by. Besides, we're getting away from the reason I came here. I need to know."

The man stares at the table for a second before snorting. "There is a reason your name was written in bold strokes. You've not a trace of elegance in those bones, although it would be terrible if that happened to be the case." Kourin sighs and looks back up at her. "But we are dallying a bit, are we not? Sadly, I cannot help you. I do not know of the ways that you could manage to move back and forth between the worlds. It was something that my old master made a point of. We were not allowed to know the portals and gates that linked the worlds."

Marisa grumbles a bit and looks at the ground. "I figured you'd say something to that regard."

"It isn't something you could do. That method would be beyond you. After all, you cannot bend the realities as if they are second nature. I don't know of any other method that you could emulate. Besides, I would not be going with you, even if you could manage to figure out a way into Gensokyo."

"Kourin, this is a last-case deal. If we're lucky enough, we won't have to leave at all. We'll have to relocate. If this hideout has been found…"

"I don't care. I would rather die here, while I still can." Kourin looks back into Marisa's eyes, and it is obvious to both that he is not joking. "I will never be rid of this curse that has been grafted into my mind. And I know how valuable that makes me to others. If anyone with fewer scruples than Reimu managed to bind me, who knows what terror that could end up allowing.

"What makes you so certain that you would…" Marisa grumbles under her breath. "Stupid question. Still, I'm not sure how else that you could manage to escape, if we had to. Unless we could fight our way out of the front, we would have to escape through the tunnels…"

"I do not care about that. If I cannot escape, just do not let me be captured. I doubt I could provide you with much help, otherwise."

"At least you can do as much as Harmon does." Marisa shakes her head and stands up. "Great. Now I need to find Kaguya and hope that she knows how to get there. It'll be tough getting information out of her instead of empty replies."

Snorting, Kourin looks back down at his bowl. "You don't say. I wish you the best of luck, although one of the others may have something. After all, you're not the only one with tomes in this hideout, even though you do have the largest collection."

"Hopefully I'll keep it. I'll need help carting it off." Marisa heads towards the door." Thanks Kourin. Sorry that I had to be so direct with you."

"It is no problem. At least you are honest when you are. It's when you star trying to be best friends that I truly begin to worry." Laughing once more, Kourin goes back to his dinner as Marisa walks out and into the upper hallway.

[ ] Seek out whom?
No. 177789
[X] Kaguya.

Best place to start is the other vote! Besides, we're keeping Begi from updating now!
No. 177791
[X] Akyuu

Kaguya has her own agenda, and although she's collaborating with the organization, the Lunarian may be unwilling to reveal anything about what her kind knows about Gensokyo. Then again, if she feels that it wouldn't be to her disadvantage, Kaguya would probably provide Marisa with some assistance, but it's a tossup from what we know. Additionally, we have no idea if the Lunarian even has a collection of resources we can use as an intermediary between the Lunarians and the organization, so that's another thing to consider.

Out of all of the other inhabitants of the hideout, Akyuu is most likely the one with another collection of tomes in the hideout. She does possess a considerable collection of records about the organization, and it can't hurt to see those books, especially since Marisa has always wanted to see that collection of her's...

I may be incorrect in my assumption, but the other's appear unlikely to possess books about Gensokyo since books were not mentioned whatsoever in the other threads. It's possible that Reimu has some tomes, but Rika doesn't have any particular need for books, unless we're talking about schematics or diagrams. Harmon might have something, but it's unlikely given his fear of unnatural things.

tldr: Akyuu is our best choice, even though Lucas is already on his way to see her.
No. 177792
[X] Akyuu
No. 177793
[X] Akyuu.

>>177791
I agree with this reasoning.
No. 177806
[x] Akyuu

Seems like a good idea for Marisa.

Also, has anyone heard of the Twitch stream where they're playing Pokemon using the comments as button presses?

...Aren't you glad we can agree better than them?

No. 177816
>>177806
Never heard of that before. sounds interesting, but considering the comments I've seen on Twitch streams... Although, that means someone should do a Touhoumon stream. That would be hilarious, I believe. Although I would be voting to use Merlin the entire time

Anywho. With this route, we'll be going a bit old school. Shorter updates for the immediate future, and only a little time to vote. Fair warning, as I'm writing now.
No. 177817
[-p-] Akyuu

------------

"Well, I best check inside her room. She should be in there." Marisa heads back down the hall as she starts to wonder how she'll take the news. After all, there hasn't even been time for her to tell Akyuu about Lucas and Felia's warning. There's quite a lot to explain to her. "I'll just have to hope she's in a listening mood. Maybe she's busy drawing. That's usually what she does when the door is locked."

With that in mind, Marisa heads down the hallway and up to the door to Akyuu's room. Marisa can see the tracks above and below the door that Akyuu had carved a few lifetimes ago. "I still don't see why she is so insistent on this door. I guess I'm just used to hinges anymore…" Marisa leans forward and knocks not wanting to annoy Akyuu by simply picking the lock. Even if the lock is on the other side, Marisa always can find a way to get in. There is a reason there is a lock on the door, after all.

Not that she had ever picked it, of course.

However, no little girl comes up to unlock the door. Somewhat curious, Marisa leans forward and presses her ear against the thin paper veneer. She hears a few mutterings, but the sound is curiously hushed. "…I haven't put any spells on this. Either somebody else did, or…" Marisa frowns a bit as she tries to understand the mutterings inside.

Another voice responds, though, and the two people inside begin shouting as the volume rises. Before Marisa has a chance to understand, something grabs the back of her neck and she is pulled to the side.

Marisa falls into a roll, tucking herself down as she reaches into her pocket and pulls out her hakerro. She comes up to her knees after tumbling to the stone, facing down the hall. Even as she brings her focus to bear, she realizes that there is no one there. "What the…" Frowning, Marisa glances around. "Who is here—"

Splinters of wood scatter through the hall as a body is hurled through Akyuu's precious door. Marisa spins back around as she stands back up, and she manages to spot the telltale feathers that accompany the sawdust in the air. "Great… Why is he up here?"

From inside the room, Akyuu leaps out and plants herself right in front of Lucas. "Now, what was that about Rikako? What powers did you do to her? Answer me!" However, Akyuu hardly gives him the chance to respond as she runs up and tries to slam her hands into his throat.

This time, he expects the move, and he flaps his wings to assist him as he dives to the side. "If you would just listen instead of breaking out into a rage! Will you just stand there and listen to me talk?"

"If I do, you might do the exact same thing to me. I will not take that chance." Marisa just watches for a second as Akyuu prepares to leap after Lucas.

Before she can, the witch finally speaks up. "Wait a second, Akyuu! Let him speak! I don’t know what's happened at all!" Marisa had thought that something else had happened, compared to what Akyuu is implying.

Akyuu scowls at Marisa, but she doe remain in her place and does not advance on the Changeling. Youkai. Whatever the heck he is. "It used that voice on Rikako. I do not know what else could be done to drive her further into the madness, but I will not let it happen again. If you control him, restrain him now."

[ ] Order Lucas to stay still.
[ ] Order Lucas to do what Akyuu says.
[ ] Order Lucas to not do anything.
[ ] Order Lucas to use the voice.
[ ] Blast Lucas.
[ ] Blast Akyuu.
[ ] Blast down the hall.
No. 177818
Be careful with your words here, if you vote for a verbal command; Telling him to do nothing could potentially stop his heart, depending on how thorough the commands are. I know that Youkai are very forced to listen, but to what extent.

[X] Tell Lucus to not use the power of his voice. That should get her to calm down some.
No. 177819
>>177817
This will require careful wording, because we don't want to use unnecessary blanket orders, and Lucas hates it when we order him anyway. Best to keep as light a touch as we possibly can while still doing enough that Akyuu will have enough reason to cool off and listen.

[X] Order Lucus to not use the power of his voice on Akyuu or us until this is all sorted out. That should get her to calm down some.

>>177818
I don't want to use that blanket order, because it'll stand indefinitely and Lucas might need all his powers available to defend himself or others from a legitimate threat. Any command that we give should be focused so that it forces/restricts only those actions which we want, and preferably auto-expires after our immediate objective is complete.
No. 177820
>>177818

Amending.

[X] Tell Lucus to not use the power of his voice, but specify that he can still speak normally. That should get her to calm down some.
No. 177821
>>177819

You have a point... Buuut I'm getting tired of amending my vote.
No. 177822
Time to pull some vote Frankenstein crap!
[X] Tell Lucas to not use the power of his voice (or attack at all, for that matter) until this is sorted out, but specify that he can still speak normally. That should get her to calm down some.

Also, Akyuu, I know you're paranoid about anyone from the 'other side,' but you are being a real bitch about it!
No. 177823
>>177820

Amending again...

[X] Tell Lucas to not use the power of his voice (or attack at all, for that matter) until this is sorted out, but specify that he can still speak normally. That should get her to calm down some.
No. 177824
[X] Tell Lucas to not use the power of his voice (or attack at all, for that matter) until this is sorted out, but specify that he can still speak normally. That should get her to calm down some.

I'm tempted to tell Lucas to use the voice. Something just feels off about Akyuu. I know we don't know her, and I get she's justified in being paranoid, but even with all that, she feels off. Especially when you take into account her reaction to us versus all the other heavy hitters in this group.
No. 177825
[-q-] Tell Lucas to not use the power of his voice (or attack at all, for that matter) until this is sorted out, but specify that he can speak normally. That should get her to calm down some.

------------

Marisa can't help but to grumble as she rubs her forehead with one hand. "Akyuu… Bah, fine. Lucas, do not use that power in your voice for now, at least until we've sorted out what has happened. Don't attack Akyuu until that is done, either." Marisa grimaces as she cuts her eyes toward Lucas. "I don't particularly care for this, but she isn't going to calm down unless I do this. You can talk all you want, though."

For his part, the feathered man returns the glance, looking annoyed enough. The skin near his eye glistens a bit; the shiner will get worse before he can heal. At least the door did not shatter badly enough to cover his body in cuts. "…" Lucas opens his mouth to try and speak, but nothing comes out of his mouth. His eyes widen in surprise for just a moment before he grumbles and scratches at his throat with his left hand.

"…Well, that obviously didn't work." Marisa groans out loud as her frustration is bared more and more. "Akyuu, this isn't the time for this. I need to find out what has happened downstairs. If he went down to help Rikako, you don't need to treat him like this."

"Do I care about that? We can head down afterwards after we have restrained or banished him." Akyuu marches forward again, this time calmer. "At least you do have it under control for now. Although, that doesn't matter. It will think of some way to evade us. You didn't forbid it from running."

"Does it look like he is?" Just as Marisa was worried about, Akyuu starts running forward towards Lucas once more." As she does, his right arm falls strangely limp. "Wait a second, Akyuu! Tell me what he told you that is making you so… Dammit!" Grasping at straws, Marisa tries to lunge at Akyuu and grab her before she manages to get past her and near Lucas.

The smaller girl easily slides under Marisa's outstretched arms and takes off towards Lucas. The larger man holds up his left arm to try and defend himself from her attacks, although if she continues to try and penetrate his defenses, both know that she will end up succeeding.

Marisa's first reaction is to bring her hakerro to bare and blast both of them, but she resists her initial urges and continues to shout. "Wait a moment… Akyuu, just stop for now! You haven't even told me what he said!"

"All that he spoke of was using his powers, and that was enough for me!" Akyuu punctuates her response by falling to the floor, sweeping Lucas's legs clear off of the ground. He beats his wings and instead remains aloft, but he doesn't stay up for long before he falls to the ground once more, only a few feet from where he first stood. He continues to mouth towards both Akyuu and Marisa, but no sound comes out of his throat still.

Whatever Marisa may shout at her, it has no effect on Akyuu's actions, so set she is to her plan. The ferocity at which she is attacking him is a little surprising, as she isn't usually quite this violent. That alone is something Marisa may need to figure out after this is settled. For now, though, she needs to find a way to break up this fight, which would involve either Lucas or Akyuu being sufficiently restrained.

[ ] Blast Akyuu.
[ ] Blast Lucas.
[ ] Blast them both.
[ ] Use some other power (specify)
[ ] Order Lucas to freeze.
[ ] Order Lucas to restrain Akyuu.
[ ] Order Lucas to attack Akyuu.
[ ] Obligatory write-in option.
No. 177826
...Fuck.
Well, based on my observations, looks like we've gotta do what Marisa does best, and...

[x]Blast them both.
-[x]Keep it mild, though. Just enough to get them to stop.

...Forgot that 'voice' bit at a crucial moment... Damn stomach flu draining my mind.
No. 177830
[X] Blast them both.
[X] When they wake up again, Lucas will explain "everything", and will not leave until Marisa says so.
(I have explained a bit more in my post, to keep the vote short.)


The only one that really needs blasting is Akyuu, but if we blast only her, she'll take is as Marisa being "on Lucas' side" (which she technically is, just not in the way Akyuu would think).

So I say we knock them both out. Then we wake them up under some more controlled circumstance, and ask him to cooperate in order to show Akyuu that he is no threat. We probably have to put on some kind of show of power for her to prove that he is fully "under control".
Something like Ordering him to take no hostile actions or leave Akyuu's office (which I assume is where we'll have a civil discussion) until until Marisa agrees that he has explained truthfully, and in full, what he did to Rikako, why, what happened when he did, and what the end results were.
We can't tell him to explain "everything", because that is too vague.
We also shouldn't Order him to explain, because that's way too controlling, even if Akyuu would probably prefer that. The condition that he cannot leave or take hostile actions means he is not directly compelled to do anything, but he also has no choice but to explain the situation.
I think it's a decent compromise between respecting Lucas' wishes to not be Compelled (when not absolutely necessary at least) and Akyuu's demands for control.

At first I just wrote "until he has explained blah blah blah...", but Akyuu wouldn't like the loophole of letting him decide where the line goes for when he has explained everything, and then I thought that we don't want Akyuu to be the one to decide when he can leave. So he will be here until Marisa says that he has explained enough.
If Akyuu doesn't like Marisa being in charge of this "interrogation", the she can just suck it. Marisa is the one who brought him here, so she will be the one to take responsibility for what he does here.
No. 177833
Do we really want Maggie in control for when shit goes down? Because that's what knocking him out likely will do.
No. 177834
>>177833
I don't know. So far she's only come out when he has slept normally (as far as I can remember), so knocking him out with violence may not make her appear.
Also, we could just knock them on their asses and threaten them with further blasting unless they discuss this civilly.
No. 177835
>>177834
OBJECTION!
In all seriousness, though, when Reimu knocked Lucas out, that made Maggie show up. With a throbbing headache, no less. So obviously, it's any kind of unconsciousness that does it.
No. 177836
[X] Blast them both.
[X] When they wake up again, Lucas will explain "everything", and will not leave until Marisa says so.

Marisa has no idea whether or not Akyuu is right about Rikako, which means coming down decisively on Lucas' side would be a blind show of faith in the Changeling. Obviously, Akyuu won't stop until Lucas is down and out for good. As >>177830 pointed out, Lucas is Marisa's responsibility, and she should do everything within her power to protect her comrades and charge from turning on each other.

However, there are some things I would like to point out. Marisa will inevitably injure herself by using any form of magic, while we don't even know how deadly the blast will be to Lucas and Akyuu respectively. Additionally, Akyuu has clearly labeled Lucas a major threat to the safety of the organization, and will not change her mind even if she learns that Lucas helped save Rikako from her torment. Trying to get on Akyuu's good side was a mistake, but it was a necessary one which shows how she thinks about Lucas. If we allowed her to continue to hide her fear of Lucas, who knows what she would do when we're all in a pinch.

Blasting both of them may come back to bite us in the ass, but I am of the opinion that attempting to resolve this dispute with anything less than decisive force would also be a major mistake. We cannot let Akyuu continue trying to eliminate Lucas, nor should we act on the 'assumption' Lucas had done the right thing with Rikako. What we know for certain is that leaving both parties capable of harming each other can lead to tragedy, and that is one thing we shouldn't allow when this story's practically just getting started.
No. 177838
[x]Blast them both.
-[x]Keep it mild, though. Just enough to get them to stop.
[x] Restrain Akyuu and order Lucas stay where he is unless attacked.

The only issue with knocking them both out, is we're on a timeline. We need Akyuu to stop and think, we have Felia's warning to worry about. Also if Lucas has done something to Rikako, she needs to go find out what. Still tempted to have Lucas use his voice on her, after all the song he knows right now only affects youkai...
In retrospect, we probably should have warned Reimu instead.
No. 177839
>>177838
Also tempted to yell at Akyuu "Stop acting like a beast and act like a human."
No. 177848
[x]Blast them both.
-[x]Keep it mild, though. Just enough to get them to stop.
[x] Restrain Akyuu and order Lucas stay where he is unless attacked.
No. 177849
Alrighty then. Calling for not knocking them out. Writing now. Probably going to be interrupted by Duke and UNC, but it'll be up tonight.
No. 177850
[-r-] Blast them both.
-[-r-] Keep it mild, though. Just enough to get them to stop.

------------

"Alright, now that is enough!" Marisa grits her teeth as she raises her hand up, and the hakerro sparks a bit as she focuses on the two that are fighting each other. "Akyuu, stop that right now, or I will make sure that you both go down!"

The small girl continues to lash out, trying to strike the larger man with her palms. Lucas continues to back out of her reach, using that to escape the quick strikes. "Marisa, don't even think about it!"

"…Already have. Well, I always did wonder who would wonder in a fight between the two of us." Marisa mutters the last bit under her breath as she concentrates her mind. Fire burns in her palm and inside the hakerro, and the flames ignite the ingredients in the small reactor. For just a second, reality twists and Marisa redefines it according to what she knows is true. Instead of smoke and stench, light coalesces in her fingertips and releases it toward the two in front of her.

The laser is wide enough that it scrapes along the ground and the ceiling of the hall. Marisa can barely see either of them before it impacts the two. Not even a second after the she fires, she feels the first twinge in her sinuses and the telltale dribble of blood down her nostrils.

Even if she cannot see any of them, Marisa can hear two bodies slump to the ground. Satisfied with that, she lets go of her momentary grip, and the light vanishes nearly immediately. The rock floor and ceiling are shiny where the laser smashed into its folds, but the two lying on that floor are not as heavily damaged by the impact.

Lucas groans as he rubs his head, ignoring the fires that have sprouted on his back from the sawdust that still coated his feathers. He tries to open his mouth and say something, but he just shakes his head and stays silent.

For her part, Akyuu managed to come through just as well as the tougher Changeling. "What… Marisa? You actually went… I can't believe that you did that!"

"Of course I would do that. There's something you need to know, and whatever happened with Rikako won't matter if we don't get this through your head." At that, Marisa pockets her still-warm hakerro and look down at the young girl. "So, will you listen to me, or will you listen?"

"You're making a mistake, Marisa." The young child climbs to her feet and looks at Lucas. "You might want to tell it that its back is on fire. Even I could trust it, it's not going into my room and burning all that I have collected over the years."

"Sure. Lucas, your back is on fire." Marisa rolls her eyes as Lucas looks over his shoulder and finally notices the small embers. Without waiting a moment, he twists his left arm around in a motion that a human couldn't make and stamps them out. "…Now that was just a little bit creepy."

Akyuu begins to walk off towards the room, but Marisa stops her. "We can do this right here. That way your hundreds of drawings won't even be threatened by him." The young girl with her unnatural hair turns about, looking just as cross as before. Turning back around, Marisa looks down at Lucas and fixes him with her own glare. "Now, what was it that happened down there with Rikako?"

"…First, I should point out that she is better. Well, I suppose she is better. She was veering off a bit into mad scientist territory when I was done, but she seems sane enough to recognize what I am and nearly shoot me with a weapon that she produced out of the random bits that were laying about her room."

A chuckle slips Marisa's lips as Lucas tells his story. "I thought I had heard Rika yelling earlier, but she sounded happy when she did. I don't see any holes in your chest, so did she miss on purpose?" Taking a chance, Marisa glances down at Akyuu. She sees no change in those steely eyes. "And what did you have to do in order that required you using that voice of yours?"

Lucas sighs and looks down. "Technically, I can't speak in a normal manner anymore, as you should tell." He looks up at Marisa and shoots her a glare that causes her to rub her head guiltily. "But there was a remnant left in there. I doubt it was a Fetch, truly, but something was left behind. And I just tore it to shreds."

"Did you now? Or did you tear her mind at the same time?"

"…If she is awake and walking around, how could I have done that as well?" Lucas finally climbs to his feet and looks down at the young child. "That paranoia is misplaced, isn't it? There are other things to worry about that may be coming here in a few hours, and you're more concerned about one potential threat that is right here and controlled by one of your own?"

"Marisa doesn't always make the right decisions. While she has been effective, she is reckless. I believe my own judgment more than hers!"

"Ok. Enough."

[ ] Write-in.

I figured that you all might want your own input into the reason you suck speech coming up. Pardon me for the brevity.
No. 177851
[x]You are behaving like child, allowing your emotions to guide you like a beast. I understand your wariness, but if he has cured Rikako he's done us a service, our numbers are few enough as it is. I'm not saying you have to trust him, but your constant paranoia is clouding your judgment and influencing your actions. We need you to be at your best, especially if things are about to get as bad as I think they are."
[x] Tell her about the Felia's prophecy.

I think this provides a good balance between telling her off and getting to the point. As much as I'd love to argue with her for hours we don't really have the time. I understand her caution, but her actions because of it have been questionable. Always lashing out is often not the best way to deal with a situation, especially when dealing with youkai. If Reimu is really acting leader while Akyuu is a child as we were told earlier, we may be seeing the reason why.
My only issue with it is it sounds more like something Lucas would say, just couldn't think of a good way to put it in Marisa's voice.
I'd also like to defend Lucas more, but I don't think she's in the mood to listen right not, and she'd probably just brush Marisa off as a fool anyways.
No. 177852
I have a few scattered ideas for this bashfest.

[x] I'll add on to what >>177839 said before - "Stop acting like a beast, and act like a human! How can you say your judgment is better than mine, when you've let your judgment become prejudice?"

Also, for a stinger, how 'bout something like
[x] "Everything changes... Except for you, Akyuu. You aren't changing, even though your body has. ...You're not needed anymore."

Holy shit, we actually get to pull one of these!
No. 177853
>>177852
No. 177854
>>177853 here... Also the author of >>177852. Accidentally posted too early because enter key, and I don't know how to delete it.

What I wanted to say is, these are really rough ideas, so any polishing is welcomed. I've already got one for that ending: "...As long as you keep acting like this, you're not really needed."
No. 177855
>>177854
If you use a password on your posts, click the checkbox on the post you want to delete, go to the bottom right, type the password in and hit delete. If there is no password, don't type it in.
No. 177856
[x]You are behaving like child, allowing your emotions to guide you like a beast. I understand your wariness, but if he has cured Rikako he's done us a service, our numbers are few enough as it is. I'm not saying you have to trust him, but your constant paranoia is clouding your judgment and influencing your actions. We need you to be at your best, especially if things are about to get as bad as I think they are."
[x] Tell her about the Felia's prophecy.
No. 177860
>>177856

Judging by your post, you must be new to THP. I'd like to point out that putting your email address in the Email field is unnecessary and, indeed discouraged because all it does is paint a target on you for spambots and jerks.

Look at the top right of the site. You should see a link labeled "Home". Click on it and you'll be at the sites front page. There are four tabs to switch between. Read both FAQ and Rules.

Once you've done that, go to this thread >>/gensokyo/6052

Please read it entirely, including the seemingly irrelevant comments below. There are some important facts mentioned among the clutter that aren't really mentioned elsewhere.

Finally, this is the news and general information thread >>/gensokyo/1351

This one isn't as important as the others, but please read it if you can spare the time.

Once you've read all that, you should pretty much know everything you need to know. If you still have any questions, feel free to come back and ask us.

Welcome to THP. I hope you enjoy your stay.
No. 177861
Telling Akyuu she's not needed anymore probably isn't good. The whole point of going to warn her was that she's one of the only people who can help with whatever's coming. She seems more set in her ways, seen-some-shit to me.
No. 177862
>>177861
Yeah, it was late at night, I was giddy because we got to pull one of these... I started to regret that part this morning. And judging from the other votes, it's not gonna be put in.
Although I do think she needs to be a bit more flexible. That part stands.
No. 177865
[x]You are behaving like child, allowing your emotions to guide you like a beast. I understand your wariness, but if he has cured Rikako he's done us a service, our numbers are few enough as it is. I'm not saying you have to trust him, but your constant paranoia is clouding your judgment and influencing your actions. We need you to be at your best, especially if things are about to get as bad as I think they are."
[x] Tell her about Felia's prophecy.

Seems like the best bet to take.
No. 177867
I'm glad to see that you didn't pick an option you'd regret.
No. 177868
I knew that telling her she wasn't needed anymore was a terrible idea... Never expected to that degree, though.
No. 177869
>>177868
Well, if you told someone who has poor emotional control that they're not needed, and say it bluntly, what might their reaction be?
No. 177870
>>177869
And my late-night ramblings get chopped up once again. Looks like it was for the best this time!
It's only fair, seeing as it was a reference to begin with...
No. 177871
>>177870
Just being honest. When I saw the option come up last night, I had to start drawing up situations. And I do like the Tri Stars, even if you've only met one.

What was the reference of? I knew it sounded familiar.
No. 177873
>>177871
I'll post a video link for it. The part I was referencing starts at about 2:20.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqgoeZl4N9g
Obviously, I did some 'repurposing,' but...

I need to quit making up crazy theories about this story between updates, because that's what really made me throw that in there.
No. 177874
>>177873
Heh. Wasn't what I thought it was, but it makes sense. Although I would happily argue it out if it didn't detract from the story or the update I'm working on.

You're free to post your theories; I can't help but to be curious. I probably won't confirm/deny anything. Just weigh that with the possibility you may give me ideas.
No. 177875
[-s-] You are behaving like a child, allowing emotions to guide you like a beast. I understand your wariness, but if he has cured Rikako he's done us a service. Our numbers are few enough as it is. I'm not saying you have to trust him, but your constant paranoia is clouding your judgement and influencing your actions. We need you to be your best; especially if things are about to get as bad as I think they are.
[-s-] Tell her about Felia's prophecy.

------------

"You need to start acting your station, Akyuu." Marisa puts her hands on her hips and looms over the girl. "I am tired of you continuing and acting like this. You are behaving like the child that you seem to be. Should I start treating you that way? How else should I respond? I'm trying to talk to you as an equal, but you ignore everything that I say."

For her part, Akyuu seems to be dumbstruck for the first few moments. The jovial girl that stands above her has never turned her anger on her in that manner. "I have not done such a thing."

"Yes you have. You continue to act like that, no matter what I may say. You just rant and rave and demand others to do things to appease you. It's just a temper tantrum. You just know how to fight." Marisa shakes her head and snaps her fingers. A burst of light appears in her hand, even though she is not trying to create anything. "I am doing my best to simply get along, but you won't allow us to! Why do you think we've avoided you all this time and let you lurk in your bedroom? You're acting like the beast that you claim Lucas is!"

"I have not at all, Marisa!" Akyuu glares back at the witch. "I am just attacking everything that could be a threat! I have died so many times when I didn't do such a thing. You are the one mad enough to bring one of that kind in here as if it were another human."

"I know the risks, Akyuu. But that's all you have done. Hell, you do the same to me." Grumbling, Marisa stamps her foot as she tries to drive home the point. "You may not care about him so much, but I have not earned that much disrespect. Yes, I get it that I have not been around as long as you. I do not have all the wisdom that comes with the years you have lived. But I have done my job well. I've gone out and taken care of everything you have sent me after."

Marisa throws her hands up in the air as she continues to talk. A little worryingly, the light appears again. "Hell, Reimu agrees with me. She may get the more dangerous jobs, but she is better. But every time I much as do something that you do not approve of, you threaten me. You imply that you might have to take steps to control me, since I might turn into a Marauder and start destroying everything."

"That isn't going to happen. I'm still young, and I'm still learning. I'm learning everything I can, which is why I'm improving so much faster than you ever did. At this rate, I might be able to study enough to bring back one of the old traditions if I ever find me a place to settle down. So just listen. Stop attacking, stop disbelieving, and act like the adult you are supposed to be. Not the child whose body you are inhabiting."

Silence rings out for a few seconds, and Akyuu continues to look up and stare. "You are dangerous, Marisa. You don't know your limits. You do not follow a set path. I fear that if you continue as you currently are, you'll end up burning out like a blazing comet. There is so little discipline in your methods."

"Are there in yours, Akyuu?" The girl remains silent, and Marisa presses onward. "I haven't seen discipline. Lashing out at your allies isn't what I would deem as disciplined. Although maybe things are different from back then." Marisa continues gesticulating for a few seconds before she shoves her hands in her pockets before taking a few deep breaths to calm down. "But put that aside. I do understand why you are wary of him. But if he is honest about what he said about Rikako, then he's done us the biggest favor that we've had in a long time. There are too few of us as it is."

"But I cannot trust something that either turns out mad or deceitful. Without fail, they all end up that way in the end."

Marisa's hands continue to worm around in her pockets. "Then don't trust him. I won't ask you to do that. Just trust me to take care of the problem if it becomes that bad." Akyuu continues to stare up at Marisa, causing her to sigh once more. "Listen. All that paranoia is making you mess up. Your judgment is clouded. The thing is, Akyuu: we need you. More than you know. Things are about to get as bad as I thought they were."

Her ears perk up as you say that, and Akyuu's eyes narrow. "Why would they get as bad?"

"It's the reason I came up here." Lucas finally clears his throat, which makes both Marisa and Akyuu turn to look. "Felia told me that something was going to happen at dawn, or something to that regard. That's why I went down to try and help Rikako, while there was still time. I managed to help fix her, as best as I can tell. I hardly know what she was like before, after all."

"…I'm going to have to ascertain that is true, first." Akyuu looks down as she hums to herself. "If it is what I fear… The others will need to be informed. There will be little that they can do, though."

"I was already going to tell Harmon after I told you." Lucas shoots her another look before looking towards the door. "I should be going down there now. I'm sure he'll greet me just the same as before…" Lucas looks down at the floor before muttering under his breath. "I just don't want anything to happen to Layla. She doesn't deserve anything that could happen."

Marisa just nods and looks down at Akyuu. "She doesn't. And we really need to try and contact Merlin and the others. They haven't reported in for a while."

The girl sighs and rubs her temples. "Fine, fine, but I am going down there first. And if he lied, and made your big speech a waste of time, I'm going to beat him up. Then I'll come and find you."

"Whatever makes you sleep better at night, Akyuu." Marisa shakes her head. "Listen, there was a reason that I came here, anyway. I wanted to know if you had any knowledge on how to cross over to Gensokyo. Some way that can be targeted, and at least isn't random."

Akyuu's head snaps back around and locks on Marisa's eyes. "Why would you need such knowledge? Do you intend to cross over?"

"I intend to fulfill my end of the bargain. And I would probably have to follow in order to make sure he keeps his end of it."

Once more, Akyuu remains silent. This time, though, she slumps her shoulders down. The fight has slowly been drained out of her for most of the conversation. "I do not have such a spell. If I did, you would not be able to cast it, most likely. In the end, I considered taking the fight to their world, but those that are Changed still linger in ours after all of this time."

"I thought as much. But you should get ready then… We'll have to make sure everyone knows." Akyuu nods and turns away to walk off. "Akyuu, wait."

"What?" Pausing mid-stride, Akyuu turns around.

"If we have to, we could use it as an escape. At least those of us who hunt. If not… There has to be a way to get the others out."

"I know my hideout better than you would ever. I will handle any preparations. At least, according to Felia, I will have plenty to take my frustrations out on." With that, Akyuu finally leaves Marisa be, heading into her room for a moment.

Still grumbling, Marisa looks up at Lucas. "Alright. You go on and tell Harmon. This time, just tell him about what Felia said first." Marisa raises an eyebrow as the man nervously rubs the back of his head. "That way he might listen instead of shooting you."

"That's if he doesn't cry for help. Although…" He tilts his head and looks down at Marisa, looking a bit worried. "Is there anything that I can do to help?"

The witch just shakes her head. "Leave that one to me. I'll figure out something. If I have to, I could try and modify a banishment spell…" Marisa leaves it unsaid that she would probably have to brute force that sort of spell, and any result wouldn't be good. "Just get going. And try not to get knocked out. I don't know how Margaret would do if something horrible did occur."

"Agreed." Lucas nods and heads off, heading back down the stairs. Akyuu finally steps out of her room and follows after him, pointedly staying as quiet as she can as she follows after him. Marisa gives her a look as she leaves, and she just nods and keeps following down the stairs.

[ ] Go check with Kaguya for any help.
[ ] Go check with Reimu while you're near.
[ ] Ransack Akyuu's room. It's not like she locked the door.
[ ] Go check on Rika/Rikako.
[ ] Write-in
No. 177876
[x]Go check with Reimu while we're near.

>>177874
Admittedly, most of it isn't so much 'theory' as 'what would I do if I was a bystander here?' Apparently, I'd use Deus ex Machina bullshit to save Margaret before the end of the last story...

Oh, and a WMG that Akyuu is actually a Youkai, and takes this hostile attitude to try and erase her past. Or to do what she thinks Lucas wants to do - sabotage the group.

Zipping my lips now for the sake of not horribly dooming us all.
No. 177877
I'm so tempted to ransack Akyuu's room, but after that long speech we gave about trusting us...
Besides, considering how paranoid she is, her room is probably covered in wards and traps.

[x] Go check with Reimu while you're near.

It's either this or Kaguya, and since Reimu is near by we might as well check with her first.
No. 177886
[X] Check with Kaguya.

I have a lingering suspicion that we're going absolutely nowhere by asking all of the regulars in the base, since they have no reason whatsoever to know a clearly dangerous method or grimoire that would enable us to go from this world to Gensokyo. At this point, we have a better chance of learning something from Kaguya, even though Marisa knows little about the Lunarian and constantly dismisses her statements and queries.

Although I believe Reimu is very much a competent leader in the organization... I doubt she knows anything that would allow us to go between here and Gensokyo. Reimu has little reason to do so, and asking her would be essentially a waste of time, although we could give her a warning, which Akyuu and Lucas may or may not give her.

I would insist that we go to Kaguya for various reasons, the most important being that since Kaguya is serving as the sole Lunarian liaison to the organization, she has to be competent enough to know some things about what we want to understand. They wouldn't send an 'incompetent' who lacks any sort of sensitive technical knowledge, especially one who apparently is higher up on the Lunarian hierarchy than Yorihime and Torihime, who appear to be important members in the Lunarian military.

However, there is a more pertinent reason we should visit Kaguya that borders on the edge of meta gaming in this situation.

Remember when something rather disturbing happened to Lucas? When he was being haunted by the spirit or hallucination of a certain youkai that we believe is dead? We only told one person about it... but not Marisa.

If we had remembered to take this important step in >>177427 , which the writer intentionally omitted for reasons, Marisa would be able to address this by referring the matter to Kaguya, who explicitly explains in >>173360 that anything which sounds like the hallucination Lucas experienced should be addressed to her, without hesitation.

Yeah.

As it stands, the next best thing we can talk to Kaguya about is Lucas' strange state of being one with another, completely normal human, and how he reverts to her whenever he's knocked out cold. The Lunarian knows next to nothing about Lucas, but I'm willing to bet our hopes that she knows more about what is going on than Reimu, who doesn't have any of this specialist knowledge. >>177791 may have pointed out that Kaguya may be unwilling to share some secrets that the Lunarians have, but I doubt she'll withhold pertinent information about Lucas' state since information about the enemy and treatment for Changelings should not be classified as TOP SECRET, MUST NOT SHARE TO ALLIES

tl;dr: Although Reimu is 'nearby' and more familiar to us, Kaguya has been assigned as the base's liaison for a reason, and everybody we've interacted with thus far collectively know next to nothing compared to what a Lunarian like Kaguya could know. Hence, Kaguya is most certainly our best hope for gaining some important knowledge.
No. 177894
>>177886
I had completely forgotten about that conversation. You're right, Kaguya probably is our best bet for information on getting to Gensokyo as well as information about Lucas. We also might want to bring up our little light display and the invisible force that pulled us from the door before Akyuu sent Lucas through it.
I still think it might be a good idea to stop by Reimu's room first since we're already near by. If for no other reason then to give her warning about what's coming. Probably best if all the heavy hitters are preparing for the worst.
No. 177897
[X] Go check with Reimu while you're near, followed by Kaguya if there is nothing she can do to help.

The best of both worlds!
No. 177898
>>177897

Not that I wouldn't want to vote for this myself, but I believe we are beginning to run out of time, unless the writer chooses to reveal the general amount of time we have left.
No. 177899
Not sure if we have the time to ask both of them. Sooo.

[x] Go ask Kaguya.
No. 177900
[x]Go check with Reimu while we're near.
No. 177901
Probably don't have time for both,

[x] Go ask Kaguya.
No. 177907
Well, 3 for Reimu, 3 for Kaguya, and 1 for Kaguya and then Reimu. That one shall be our tiebreaker then. We'll go to Reimu, and then Kaguya.
No. 177910
>>177907
Could we at least try to make the visit with Reimu short if she can't help us out?

...It seems like everyone in this story loves to get chatty with each other (as if I wasn't guilty of that in my own writing) and it feels like that's contributing to the current time-crunch.
No. 177913
>>177910
Keep any visit short and to the point, ignoring the concerns about Lucas's hallucinations that only Reimu knows about before visiting the Lunarian? Well, I haven't started writing yet; still considering how to proceed.
No. 177915
>>177913

I'd like to point out I think not doing anything about hallucinations that could literally bite us in the ass at the worst time is a terrible sounding idea, then again, I didn't vote this round so I cant really have an opinion.
No. 177919
I think we should just run with the vote the way it was called.
I understand where >>177910 is coming from, but honestly, even though we haven't gotten the information we were looking for, I think each of these stops we've made have been important.
Ultimately, I think fully exploring the Reimu and Kaguya choice will give us good information. It's just that it'll be different information. Maybe by going to Reimu first we'll miss out on Kaguya, but as Luminous points out in >>177913 we'll still get important information. Besides maybe we'll run out of time, but maybe we have time to do both. We seem to be making a lot of assumptions about our time frame.
No. 177953
[-t-] Go check with Reimu while you're near, followed by Kaguya.

------------

"Right. Reimu now." Marisa turns on her heel and marches the short distance to the de facto leader's room. She automatically reaches out for the door and turns the handle, only to find that it is locked. "Should have figured that one out. Let's see…" Reaching down, Marisa angles her fingernails to the keyhole. Curiously, there is a barrier of some sort preventing her intrusion. No purchase is to be found to tear it away. "I figured you'd put up a seal to keep me out… Hrm. But I'm not in a mood to tick her off. Already did a good enough job with Akyuu."

Without much of an option, Marisa reaches up and raps her knuckles on the door sharply, not yet wanting to beat it with her fist. "Reimu! Come on now, ya need to get out of there! There's something I need to be telling you." The door is silent, and does not respond to her. No one inside the room does either. "Come on, Reimu, this isn't the time! I need to tell you something, and check if I can borrow as well!"

The former shrine maiden does not answer again, and Marisa glances away. She should be heading out to find Kaguya, but leaving empty-handed wouldn't be favorable, either. Especially since she doesn't know if Reimu is aware of the situation. "Reimu, if you don't come out, I'm gonna blast the door open!" One last time, the witch reaches up and prepares to knock on the odor, this time dispensing with the pleasantries and balling her fist up to strike.

As she drops the hammer, the door cracks open and bleary eyes peer out. Marisa's fist rushes to her face, but a field flares with a bare burst of light and knocks it back. "What the…"

"What is it, Marisa?" Reimu continues to glare as she remains where she is, never opening the door any further. "I was busy doing something, and I can't let you come in here."

"…Haven't seen you do any sort of rite in forever. What are ya doing in there? I'd like to take a peek…" Natural curiosity takes over for a second as Marisa peers over her shoulder. The only thing she can spot is the bare wall behind Reimu. After a few seconds, and continued exposure to her withering gaze, Marisa comes back to her senses. "Right. Sorry about that. Listen, I need to tell you about something Felia told Lucas."

"That thing about dawn? He was right outside my door when that happened." Reimu rolls her eyes, but her expression grows a bit lighter all the same. "I am taking steps, but we'll see what happens."

"It was here? What was Lucas doing here…" Frowning, Marisa looks down for a second. "Never mind. Listen, I need to know if you have any method of crossing over to Gensokyo that is not a banishment spell of some sorts. Teleportation, translocation, anything in particular that could be directed would be appreciated."

Hard eyes meet worried eyes, yet Reimu says nothing for a few moments. "I do not know of any way that you could use, Marisa."

"Wait, have you been…"

"I have, but I can float through that Hedge. You can't replicate that at all." Reimu looks back in her room for a second. "Almost…"

"…What are you working on?" Marisa tilts her head to the side, curious once more.

"Nothing that will be ready in time. But your little pet not-Changeling was here because he had been chased in here by some hallucinations, or so he claimed. His old master, of sorts, was out to get him."

The witch can only gape for a second as she stares at Reimu before quickly coming to her senses. "Right. I should have figured that something might have followed. If that Youkai were dead, though… what would it have latched on to? His person? His spirit? Something else?"

"I'm busy, Marisa. I don't have time to answer that."

"Wait! Something pulled me over earlier." Reimu attempts to close the door on Marisa, but she stops as she looks on, exasperated. "Listen. Something pulled me away from Akyuu's door before she vacated Lucas through it. If there is already a small remainder…"

"That may be the case, but you need to ask him or someone else. I will get to you later, when we're not at risk of being slaughtered. You know what may be coming." At that, Reimu shuts the door, and Marisa can hear the bolts that latch into place moments afterwards.

"Yeah… I do." Grumbling, Marisa just spins on her feet and heads down the hallway. "I should have figured that no one would be able to tell me how to do that. There are a few left… Bah. Wish that the other Prismrivers were here. They would know, odds on. Or at least they'd know how to jury-rig a spell better than I do." Snorting out loud, Marisa shoves her hands into her pocket, grabbing her hakerro in the one as she brushes her hand over paper.

If there is one thing that can be said for the halls of the complex, it is that they are not twisting and meandering. Marisa manages to hurry down towards the current abode that the lunarian resides. Her feet slap on the ground as every step comes quickly after the next.

"Come on now, please be here. I don't think we'll have time to run around for much more." Once there, Marisa reaches for the door, preparing to sling it open. Without even placing a single finger on the metal, the door slides open, revealing the bare room inside.

"Am I… Too late?" Marisa's frown deepens as she steps inside of the room and looks about. She remembers the trinkets that used to line the simple wooden shelves against a few rich tapestries, but there is nothing now. Even all the alien medical equipment was gone. "I suppose so. She would have figured that something was up before any of us. I'll bet she was one of the first to know."

"Thereabouts. But I am not gone yet." Marisa spins about, her skirt flaring up as she turns to look at the lunarian. "I am well aware of what is happening, and you know that I can't be found by them if it is they."

Grumbling a bit, the witch nods and crosses her arms. "I know that. After all, I know they would love to get some leverage against the Moon."

"The Five Way War will not be ended if I was to be taken, but it certainly would not help our efforts in it. It would certainly lead to a rescue attempt. I will not allow things to reach that far, though." Kaguya smiles a bit as she leans forward, nearly unnoticeably. "I doubt that is the reason you were seeking me out, however. You would not be so harried or flustered if you were."

"Well, I suppose you got me there." With a sigh, Marisa unfolds her arms and shoves them in her pockets again. "Listen, I know that this is starting a bit like a broken record… At least to me." Marisa chuckles awkwardly as she continues to explain. "Do you know how we can get to Gensokyo? If you do, would you have to create the path, or would I be able to do it?"

The extraterrestrial is silent for a few seconds as she stands, expressionless. "…Toyohime would be the one able to do as you ask. However, I cannot do such a thing. It is something else that bridges that gap between the realms. It is not an eternity that I can manipulate. I am sure you knew that, though?"

"I figured that much. …And if you had any resources, you would already have removed them."

"Correct."

"…Dammit." Marisa wrings her hands in her pockets as she stares at the floor. "I need to figure that out. I've wasted so much time… I can't do anything useful, apparently." Her hands brush against the paper once more. "If I only had a book to tell me…"

The girl pauses and blinks as she looks down at her pocket. "…What the…" Frowning, she clasps onto the paper and pulls out a slim volume. "Alright, now this has veered from the confusing to the downright disturbing."

"So it seems." A glower mars the otherwise perfect face of the lunarian as she stares askance at the tome in the hands of the magician. "When did you procure that?"

"I have no idea." Marisa's expression mirrors Kaguya's as she looks down. "…There have been other things going on here, Kaguya. I've been tugged by something that is not here. Lucas has had a hallucination of his old master. And combined with this…"

"That much is obvious. Something is lurking here. Has it latched onto you, though?" The distaste in her eyes fades a little bit as she studies the book. "He could be as well, and you exterminate your other targets quite thoroughly. It is possible that one that was banished made its way back out here… But we would have noticed it earlier." She nods to herself before the air stills and Marisa's hair settles down. "I don't want to risk it for now. It will be an eternity until you draw breath again. Do not worry that you can't breathe."

Nodding, Marisa tries to speak, and curiously finds herself able to. "Huh. Then how am I able to speak?" Kaguya arches an eyebrow, which is her cue that this isn't the time. "Fine. Do you know who or what this is?"

"No, I do not. Although what it might be has its reasons. You said it pulled you out of the way?"

"It did. If it hadn't, I'd probably have a mouthful of splinters."

"That's always a lovely injury to treat." Kaguya smiles pleasantly for a moment before continuing. "However, I believe that you should be worried, if it desires to preserve you. If the same entity places that book in your pocket, there is little else it can mean."

"…On top of all other things." Marisa gnashes her teeth for a second as she stares at the curious, if dangerous object. "Great. I need to just burn this thing and destroy it before it entraps me."

"I will leave that to you, then." Kaguya nods to herself. "I do not have time to go searching for that which hides here. If it is as sneaky as I expect, we may not be able to drive it out. Just remain wary." The woman looks at Marisa's eyes for a few seconds. "Magic already taints you, after all. Your very existence threatens reality. You will need to be ready for any dagger in the back, or worse, a rope."

"Right. I'll do that." Marisa continues to stare at it, wishing that she could see what resides within its folds without opening it up. However, a few seconds later, she looks up. "Yes?"

"I was going to offer a favor. You, among the others, have a great deal that you need gone. Would you desire me to claim it and place it somewhere safely at home?"

[ ] Sure. Take my stuff.
[ ] Go ahead and take everything that isn't needed.
[ ] We'll handle enough, and we'll destroy the rest.
&
[ ] Open
[ ] Don't
[ ] Write-in.

BUKKETS
No. 177962
[X] Go ahead and take everything that isn't needed.
[X] Open

I suppose she can take some of the stuff with her if she's offering, no point letting it go to waste.
Really not sure on the book option though...
No. 177964
What I don't understand is why we have the option to write in the book. You'd think that'd go in as a sub option to open, but its still a rather random thing to do to a book of no origin.
No. 177965
[X] Go ahead and take everything that isn't needed.
-[X]Ask how Kaguya will give it back.
[X]Hold onto it. If possible, find Lucas and inform him about the book.

Since Marisa trusts Kaguya, I believe she can allow the Lunarian to store it for her while we deal with the impending incident. That said, I think Marisa should emphasize that she's only allowing Kaguya to do this on the mutual understanding that the latter will give it back when Marisa requests.

Additionally, opening it now may actually be the best opportunity, since Kaguya will be there to contain the situation as best as she can. However, holding off on opening it until we meet with Lucas may also prove to be a prudent decision, since this is almost certainly connected to him in some way. Reading the book later when we have no other option isn't very palatable though, so this is a now-or-later decision which could drastically impact who lives, dies, or gets driven insane in the course of the story.

It all comes down to this: Should we open it now and hope Kaguya will provide additional assistance, or let it wait and hope Lucas and the others will be able to deal with it and possibly risk becoming a Maurader or be driven mad by its contents. I advocate waiting, since opening it appears to be a can of worms that won't have a positive bearing on the story.

What if Marisa gets manipulated by the entity and ends up turning on Lucas or ordering him to do something neither Marisa nor anybody else wants?
No. 177966
[X] Open

No opinion on the other vote. Doing it with Kaguya around sounds safe enough.
No. 177970
I'm not so sure the consequences of opening the book will be something Kaguya can help with. It sounds like whatever is offering help in exchange for a favor to be imposed later.
No. 177974
Mmmk.

Called.
No. 177975
>>177970

Too late for thinking it over, I guess. It was quite obvious that the book was a sort of red herring, something that's just begging Marisa to open it so it could do something that we would all regret. Maybe we could've found a more 'favorable' solution by allowing Lucas and the others to deal with it, but our path is set in stone now.
No. 177976
>>177974

What does it say about the internet's influence upon me that the first thing I notice in this picture is that she isn't wearing underwear?
No. 177977
>>177976

The final thing I noticed was that her panties were by the tip of her wing!
No. 177978
>>177974
Of all the times to hang back... My "shit's goin' down, and we're knee-deep in it" sensors are blaring at me right about now.
No. 177979
[-u-] Go ahead and take everything that isn't needed.
[-u-] Open

------------

"That sounds fine with me. If you can, go ahead and take all you need to. Just remember that I'll be coming for it all once we're done."

At that, Kaguya nods. "That is perfectly acceptable to me. I don't have any designs on your Earthly knowledge, after all. I have the feeling that you would ask more of me than to liquidate your possessions."

It takes a few seconds for Marisa to consider the prospect before she nods. "That would be for the best, I think. After all, I don't want all of our material to be destroyed, especially Akyuu's. Her records go back centuries. If we were to ever need them again…"

"Truly. And you do seem to have an odd fascination for tweaking her nose, do you not?"

"…Now isn't the time, Kaguya." Marisa rolls her eyes at the small smile that barely crosses the lunatic's face before looking down at the book. "That would be the best. I'm going to have to ask you how you remove all of this stuff sometime. I can only expand space to a certain degree. Might be able to pick up some tricks from you."

Kaguya doesn't respond, but Marisa pays her no heed for now. The witch stays engrossed with the cover of the book in her hands as she tries to discern what it is that she will do with it and its contents. There is too much now to decide now to continue on with the quips.

Cautiously, she traces the edges of it. "I can't feel anything odd about it. There isn't a magic that I know of lurking under these pages… Although I could certainly be wrong. I've been quite wrong before." Marisa sighs as the debate continues to wage in her mind. "Kaguya, I think I'm going to go ahead and open it up. Just make sure that nothing happens."

Once again, the Lunatic offers no response, and Marisa raises her head up. "Kaguya? Are you still…" She isn't. No one is in front of Marisa. Quickly she glances about, attempting to catch sight of the robed woman, but no one is in that empty room save for herself. "Dammit. I just had to tell her to get everything… What do I do now?"

Marisa closes her eyes and racks her head for an answer. "This thing is dangerous enough, whatever it is. It was put here for a reason… Something wants me to open it." She lets out a heaving sigh before she sits down on the ground. "And if it's the same thing that pulled me out of the way earlier, it's trying to keep me alive for a purpose. And I need to figure out what that purpose is. …To do that, we'll need to survive so I can come back later."

With that thought in mind, she reaches down and opens the book. The cover easily gives way, revealing blank pages within. "…Serious? Is this just some diary stuck in my pocket?" Marisa shakes her head and keeps flipping the pages over and over, trying to find some content within. "It can't be that simple…"

After flipping a few hundred pages more than a book that size should have, Marisa notices a black dot in the middle of the paper. It begins to spread out across the white confines of the page before spreading up and away from it. Marisa tries to pull her face away from it, but she finds herself stuck, unable to move as ink slithers out and up, creating alien shapes that she can't understand. Eventually that confusion is the only thing she knows.

It will be dawn by the time she regains her facilities.

------------

"Reimu, where is Marisa? I haven't seen her ever since Akyuu decided that she'd beat me up for the second time." You take a moment to glance down the hallways, more than a little worried. "I know where everyone else is. We need her up here if she can't make that path."

"Either she's busy trying to make one, or she's purloining everyone's possessions for herself. Stop worrying for now; we'll take care of the others. Marisa isn't an idiot. She won't get herself killed that easy." Even though she is flippant, Reimu take the same glimpse as she contemplates what to do. "…Tolia, are your sisters and the Prismrivers all set downstairs, along with Kourin?"

Beside both of them, a girl wearing spectacles nods quickly. She maintains one hand on the grip of her gun as it rests in her holster. "We've done as best as we can to place them where no one else can get to them. If they do manage to get past all of you, there's only one place they can come from. I just hope we will have enough firepower to take them down."

"I hope you do as well. We can't guarantee that, though. It really depends on what Marks they send, or if it's something else." Reimu's ears perk up a bit before she shakes her heads. "Go ahead and get down there. We'll stay up here. Do you want to keep Akyuu down there with you?"

"That shouldn't be necessary…" Tolia shakes her head firmly. "I know why she wants to be near Kourin in case everything goes horribly. I do not wish her to be near my sister if things do happen." The woman becomes quiet for a few seconds as her eyes shine. "I know what they plan to do with my sister now. We've worked hard to prevent that from happening. I don't want her to be taken of us just because we accidentally exposed her…"

Reimu manages a smile and pats the woman on the shoulder. "Don't worry about it too much now. Just get down there and do your job. We'll do ours." The woman nods once again, before snapping about and hurrying down the stairs. Once she has descended and exited out the bottom of the column, Reimu sighs. "They won't have a chance if any pass by intact. We should collapse this tower… Although we may collapse the rest of the hideout at the same time."

"I'm hardly qualified to say anything of the support, but we'll go with that. Just make sure this door is locked as best we can once we're done." You flap your wings just a bit, avoiding the iron that lurks nearby. "We need to get going, though. Have you heard from Rikako and Rika?"

"Not recently. I imagine Rikako has been rebuilding everything that has been falling apart. Rika did cannibalize a lot of the parts down there for her own purposes." Snorting, Reimu shakes her head. "Alright, let's get going. Let's see what's going on down here…" With that, the maiden walks into the hallway as you follow close behind.

You notice that Akyuu is leaning up against the all near the corner as she stares down at the entrance. "Reimu, are the others away? They could come at any second."

Nodding, she turns to the side and grips her stick tighter. "That they are. We'll do our best. Akyuu, go ahead and watch over the main entrance. We'll spread out a bit just in case they decide to intrude somewhere else."

"Why should I be the one covering it? I'm needed in plenty of other places."

"Because you are the most fragile one, and I doubt they would do something too obvious." Shaking her head, Reimu turns to the side. "I'll head down this way. Just keep your eyes out for anything, and warn us if you find out." With that, the girl marches down the hall as her eyes dart to the side. For her part, Akyuu merely grumbles and heads to the entrance, leaving you standing at the junction and against the elevator.

“Great. At least we’re all working together well. Now I just need to hope we’re all wrong.”

[ ] Follow Akyuu.
[ ] Follow Reimu.
[ ] Go the opposite path.
[ ] Look for Marisa.

------------

>>177976
>>177977
Huh. That's the oldest picture I've posted (as it was in the first batch I downloaded for NSTAFT) and I never noticed that. Welp.

I'm just surprised no one has asked the biggest question. Who.
No. 178001
>>177979

[x] Follow Reimu

I worry about what is going on with Marisa, but worst case scenario is she is unconscious in the base without us being able to wake here. I put the likelihood of our being able to defend that somewhere around jack and all. That said, I kinda hope the rest of the readers disagree with me and vote for going after Marisa, this is a nasty situation.

As for the who, its pretty damn clear who.

Aya right? This is totally an attempt by Aya to revive as she once was. Alternatively, if I'm not dumb, Mystia.
No. 178006
[x] Follow Reimu.

Actually, I think it could be Yuuka pulling the strings here.
Now, hear me out. Sure, she may be stuck in a vine in a burrow somewhere, but that doesn't mean her influence can't be spread. Perhaps, just perhaps, she's the Big Bad of this whole story!

No. 178007
>>178006
You are so delusionally paranoid that I can only call it that you've gone full Luminous.
Clearly you are right. It was Yuuka all along!
No. 178008
>>178007
You haven't seen the half of it.
I've got this detailed theory as to why she'd be the Big Bad. Basically, it involves all of the other Youkai we've seen having once been human, until she turned them. She had Wriggle seal her in that vine to draw suspicion away from herself. After all, we don't have any information that truly says otherwise, just assumptions. And what's the rule about assumptions?
All aboard the SS WMG!
No. 178011
[x] Look for Marisa.

I may regret it and it may be a a bit meta, but I'm worried about Marisa. Also spreading out to keep watch isn't a bad idea. Don't want to get too far away though and we need to be cautious. Otherwise following Reimu is good.
No. 178014
[X] Go the opposite path.

Akyuu and Reimu are both competent fighters, and it's dubious that Lucas can contribute anything to the defense on their sections. That said, I believe going back is the most promising option, given that we were told to trust Marisa even though she's out cold and that something nasty might happen to us if we search for her... or I could just be flat out wrong and our failure to help her will be something we're all going to regret.
No. 178021
>It will be dawn by the time she regains her facilities.

[x] Look for Marisa.

Opening the book was a silly mistake. Whoops. Let's try and do some damage control; I don't wan't Marisa to die because she was stuck in a trance until it was too late for her to do anything.
No. 178022
[X] Look for Marisa.

Yeah, I'm worried.
No. 178025
>>178014

When were we told something nasty would happen to us?
No. 178039
>>178025

In response to your question, I concede the point that Luminous never specifically told us that anything nasty would happen to us at this point.

However, before you go thinking that I'm a fool for jumping to conclusions, I present this quote by an anon (presumably Luminous) who wrote the prequel:

>>>/forest/26719
"Why would I need sharks when there is a nasty undertow prepared to pull your vessel over the shoals, breaking the keel before you realize what is happening?"

We can never be certain that our interests in the story are safe. It has already been established that we have an entity with unknown intentions haunting us (the undertow), and it is not entirely out of the question for Luminous to decide that he wants to throw a wrench (the sharks) in our hopes to 'fix' what we have messed up.

The one thing that makes this story quite different from the other CYOAs here is that our actions could lead to dramatically negative repercussions that we were given little to no direct warning of. To give an example as to why I have a level of paranoia that would be unheard of in any other recent/contemporary story, in the Touhoumon: Luck 10 & 0 story, one of the writers specifically stated that the cave scene in which the MC, Nebosa, encounters a slime Kogasa, the writer intended to have made the voters' decision to flee the area backfire horrifically since they would return and be rewarded with a terrific bad end which almost rivals one of Luminous' in my opinion. In the end, he was simply talked out of the decision by a co-writer. It's very clear that had Luminous written a segment like that, he would've gone straight ahead and implement that bad end route and we as readers would accept it without hesitation.

Luminous never told us something unfortunate could happen because he's simply waiting for us to dig our own grave. This story is a tragedy, one that toys with our hopes and exploits them in order to crush us and make us realize how futile are actions were. Think about the decision to read the book or hold onto it; some of us thought reading it immediately would help to further our cause, but instead, the harshness of this reality set in and now Marisa has been afflicted by an unknown malady. In a less recent, but equally relevant example, the voters had Lucas point out Wriggle's emotional weaknesses in the previous story with a seemingly brilliant write-in, and got bad ended for their trouble when Wriggle immediately put Lucas in his place. The only thing we can do is try to realize what exactly we are doing in each step, and avoid being forced to sleep in the bed we could be making.

tl;dr: The basis of this story's events is often set upon subverting our actions and have us understand the cruelty of this story. We may hope that our current struggle will lead us the 'good end', but the realities of this story and the writer are conspiring against us, just waiting for us to make a mistake so that we can realize how much we've screwed up.
No. 178045
>>178039
Heh. I hadn't read that one, although it does sound like something I'd do. Such as when Chibi Nitoris were enslaved to steal shirikodamas on an industrial scale in Gray Version. I'll keep it in mind.

As for undertow, you're sorely wrong about that. That's another shark. What invisible hands have you been unable to see, and plots acting independent of those you've met?

Was going to call, but I'll let it go a little while longer.
No. 178047
>>178045
have you updated that recently, by the way? I liked it.
No. 178048
>>178047
No, I have not. Stopped for a while, for general shift of focus... and I felt as if the MC was too much of a Sue. Have started rereading some stuff. Shouldn't expect anything until this scene is over and WBMTE gets chugging again.
No. 178051
>>178039
This is true, but at some point doesn't that give us more room to act. We've seen from both the Mystia choice and the Rikako choice, that inaction is not always the best choice. We've also seen our decisions to act cost us.
Ultimately we have to make the best decisions we can, but seconding guessing ourselves can cause just as many problems.
I'm not saying we should be careless or not paranoid, but at some point you have to do something. We may not be heroes, but we're also not helpless victims.
No. 178054
[X] Follow Reimu

I was going to stay out of this this time, buuut I was made to think by the posts, and I suppose I'll just throw my lot in with Reimu. Marisa can take care of herself. Heck, I have the theory that the book is teaching her something in the hope of manipulating events, so I think that just leaving her to waking back up would be for the best.
No. 178055
Changing my vote from >>178014 to [X] Follow Reimu, since it's clear that [X] Look for Marisa will win by deault at this rate. The next vote will be the deciding one.

>>178051

All we can do is develop inferences from the story and create a sensible course of action from that. However, I was specifically responding to the person second-guessing me about how I was sure something nasty could happen in our decision to search for Marisa. There's a difference between warning others that our current path will probably lead us into danger and questioning the notion that tragedy is always just around the corner in this story.

I'm going to leave several ideas for the other people to consider.

Why was Marisa the one who received that book? How come she's not going to 'regain her facilities until dawn'? Who's to say that we aren't being manipulated into looking for Marisa? What if Marisa has already served her purpose, and now Lucas is supposed to come to the bait and be captured by the perpetrator? What if the book was planted by Sakuya for her own purposes?

Could it be that Felia's vision and Marisa's disappearance are interconnected? What if Lucas is also a primary target of the raid, in addition to Felia and Rinnosuke? Does our actions determine the manner in which we are forced from the base? Who needs to be protected, the changelings or the humans? Since Reimu didn't give us any instructions, does that mean we need to follow her until something comes up or should we act independently? Where did Harmon and Layla go? Why did Felia say she's going to die earlier than her sisters? Is Harmon really going to die in a week?

Why did Kaguya disappear so suddenly? Is she really taking everything that isn't nailed down and essential to Marisa? Why couldn't she have waited for Marisa to finish talking? Does anybody aside from Marisa know what the Lunarian is doing?

Who is the 'master' stalking Rikako? Could the act of targeting Marisa be part of the female youkai's plan to get back at Lucas? Is this 'master' Sakuya? The 'change' Flandre was speaking of... is it related to Lucas and the others?

At this point, we're going to look for Marisa, which is an easily predictable course of action. After considering what Luminous said, I highly suggest that we reconsider our votes. We are probably about to walk right into an ambush without any support, since everybody else is busy preparing for the 'assault', and it just so happens that Marisa is isolated from the area of operation. As Luminous has stated, we are currently being manipulated, and all facts considered, I seriously think that Sakuya is coming for us, one way or the other.

I could be completely wrong about Sakuya, and in reality, Koishi, Wriggle, or some random youkai is the one behind this. My point still stands that we're being played like a piano, and the decision to search for Marisa happens to be exactly what the entity following Marisa wants.
No. 178165
[-v-] Follow Reimu.

------------

Although sorely tempted to go back and try to find the blonde witch, you know that she can take care of herself easily enough. She must be away for a reason, although knowing her, she'll show up blazing with magic soon enough.

However, you don't know where that you need to go right now. Considering that Reimu didn't bother to say if you should cover any area in particular, you dash after her, catching up as soon as you can. The girl glances back over her shoulders and gives you a curious look. "You're coming with me? I don't need you to watch my back."

"Well, considering the choice is either Akyuu or you, I'll go with the one who doesn't hate my guts." You can't help the grin that crosses your face as you say that, but it slips off soon enough as you consider everything else. "I would go and find Marisa, but I've not the slightest clue where she is. At least I can do some good while I'm up here."

"If you insist… Really, though, I can take care of myself…" However, a thought comes to mind and she starts digging in the folds of her outfit. "Although, you did rather want something earlier, didn't you?"

The favor you asked for earlier comes back to mind. You had half forgotten in all the excitement recently. "It wasn't that big a deal. If you aren't capable, or don't wish to, there's nothing you had to do for me. I'll manage on my own."

"Now who's being the recalcitrant one?" Reimu snorts once more as she finally grabs what she was looking for and pulls a long thin shaft from some unseen pocket inside her outfit. "This should do you well, if you use it for your intended purpose. One shot, so only use it if you have to."

You blink as you stare at the thin wooden stick before you notice what is on its tip. "How did you manage to get an arrow on you and forget about it being there?"

Reimu just shrugs her shoulders and offers it to you. "The same way I always have my gohei with me. Something like that is even more of a distraction unless you know how to pack it." Gritting her teeth, she continues to hold the arrow and waits for you to take it. "Go ahead and take it. I'm hardly about to use this thing on you, after all. I'm not as shortsighted as Akyuu is right now."

"Sorry. Alright, thanks…" At that you reach out to pluck it from her hands, but you can feel the warmth even as your wooden hand brushes near it. "Won't it harm me if I am carrying it? Or is it something you're unable to fix, since I'm no longer human?"

"It's an arrow that will break demons, much less Youkai or other supernatural creatures. You will be fortunate if you have that small of a reaction. However, I did intend it for you as I blessed it." Seeing that you're still reluctant to take it from her, she steps for. "Just wait a second. I know where you can place it." At that, Reimu places the feathers on the arrow against your palm.

While tempted to pull away from her, you instead watch as she forces the arrow down into the palm of your hand. You watched the wooden form disappear into your palm with some emotion halfway between bemusement and amazement. "How in the world were you able to do it?"

"I certainly need a way to keep many of my own possessions on me." Reimu steps back and looks into your eyes for half a moment before backing away. "Now, we will need to spread out. Go and check the other branches. I'll make sure nothing happens—"

White fills your vision as an explosion rocks the earthen tunnels you are standing in, and it's all you can do to keep yourself from being tossed over by the pressure wave into the rather hard wall to your side. "What is it now? Are they here?"

"I'd say so!" Reimu had less trouble than you did and is already dashing towards the source of the explosion. "My instincts were right, then! They'd not be so foolish as to come through the front entrance. Now, let us see who we face tonight!"

"This morning, you mean?"

"Technicality." Reimu does shut up, though, as the fog begins to clear. Vague shapes appear in the smoke produced by the explosion. Before you can see what they are, though, they shift and you hear a whining sound. This is enough to cause Reimu's eyes to shoot open and she barks at you. "Start moving unless you want to be riddled!"

The next moment she is gone, sprinting towards the side of the chamber as the whine erupts into torrents of fire. You may not be familiar with the weapons, but you know what a bullet sounds like. "Dammit. I don't know how badly these things can injure me!"

"Then don't try and take the shots. You're not the boss of this place. Dodge as much as you can and take them out before they can track you!" The murderous deluge pours on as she slides to the ground. A few of the bullets graze you as the apparent men on the other end of the hall manage to zero in on your location. That is enough persuasion for you to take flight and squeeze along the top of the hall.

Curiously, it takes a bit longer for them to react to your change than Reimu's. You silently question the reason why as you launch yourself forward, overtaking Reimu before tackling one of the enemies to the ground.

At least, you try to tackle the target. It feels as if you are running into a wall, one that you manage to tip over a few seconds after impact. The things that are shooting at you seem to be humans, and rather plain ones at that. The one that you tackled appears to be a bored tax accountant by demeanor. His eyes flash red for a moment as he identifies his target through the sight that covers his eyes, and you know then that something is wrong.

The second later you realize how prescient an observation that is, as his arm currently has a chain gun sticking out of it.

Whatever it is, the mechanical creature blurs into motion and strikes with a hand, grabbing you and tossing you clear of him. With clockwork precision, it rises to its feet and rights itself without any difficulty. It immediately brings its weapons into bear and attempts to gut you with a series of rapid-fire munitions. You're hardly injured by his toss and you are already righting yourself by the time it manages to bring the weapon to bear.

You cannot do anything to it from here, so you close once again, this time avoiding the obvious tackle. You leap over the automaton as it begins to fire, and you wince as bullets tear the skin on your leg. The wounds are not enough to stop you from attacking, however, as you easily vault over him and try and tear down his back with the claws that you have.

Flesh peels away as if it was nothing but air, and your fingers meet resistance as you score the metallic surface. Before you can dig deeper, the arms rotate around and grab at you in another attempt to pluck you from its form and cast you aside.

This time you don't resist as it throws you away, as you beat your wings and right yourself moments afterwards. You use the same tactic as last time, and rush forward, expecting to dodge the moment it tries to fire.

When you leap to the right and try to skirt about the robot, it attacks with its hands instead of its weapons. Metallic claws emerge from under the skin of the creature and swipe at you, leaving you to howl in pain as blood drips down your cheek. "Dammit now. That's it, then. You're no Wriggle, and if we're going to play this way…"

The machine doesn't notice your posturing, as it tries to strike again. You return the earlier favor and grab its arm with your hand and begin twisting. After a few moments it finally begins to give way, and you realize that you are stronger than the machine.

The aberration, whatever it is, also realizes this and tries to fire its weapons towards you. Your best answer to that is to grapple the other arm and force it down, keeping your flesh and blood out of the firing line. Seconds tick by, and the creature continues to try and force you back with brute force.

It doesn't work forever, and it tries to feint backwards and force you to over extend yourself. It works for a second, as you begin stumbling forward, but your wooden hand is latched on tight and brings you back around, swinging with abandon. This time you find purchase in the creature’s neck. A metal that you cannot describe begins to curl at your touch, and you force your way into its innards.

Once more it attempts to jerk you off, but this time you are not leaving. Your body shivers as electricity arcs about your fingertips, and you ignore the reaction of your feathers as you feel them prickling against your scalp.

The mechanical abomination attempts to pry you off, but before you even have the chance you pull something vital and the machine falls over, leaving you battered and bloodied. Standing over its metal corpse, you huff a bit and ruffle your wings. "That's one down. I suppose my claw-fu was just better."

"Now isn't the time for dumb one-liners! Have you been hanging around Marisa that long?" Reimu's snap forces you back to reality, and you jerk your head up to see where she is. The slight woman is standing over three of the hybrid machines, all of which have been taken to with a sledgehammer by their looks. Somehow, Reimu herself has managed to avoid being hit even once. "There will be plenty more following them. I imagine Akyuu is dealing with a few."

"How can you take those down so quickly? It was tough enough taking down these… things. What do you even call them?"

"They're just marks for me. Intelligent machines with real brains inside of them." She toes one of them before turning back to the entrance. "I'm sure others spread out. They're searching. Let's go now."

"Is there a better way to take them down? I got knocked plenty of times." Looking down, you examine all of the shots that drew blood on the meat of your legs. "That happens a few more times and I'll be down for the count."

"You might want to revise your plan of attack. Just think of something they either can't counter, or just simply be better." The former maiden can't help but grin a bit as she marches down the hall. "Now come on. The most exciting time of the day has finally come."

"I thought you said—"

"I'm a professional. Leave it at that." Having said enough, Reimu hurries down the hall, her stick at her side and ready to strike at anyone in reach.

[ ] Continue to rip as you did before.
[ ] Use your voice and see if it affects the attackers.
[ ] Write-in option

------------

Gonna let you all decide how to proceed here. Next one will be up quicker than this one. As long as BUKKETS keeps winning, though, they'll be coming quickly.
No. 178168
>>178165

Full conversion cyborgs.

JOOOOOOOOOY
No. 178176
[X] See if your voice can affect them, and if so, how.
[X] Be prepared for HUGE GUTS! anyway, in case the voice doesn't have a big enough effect, or not the kind of effect we want.
No. 178177
[X] See if your voice can affect them, and if so, how.
[X] Be prepared for HUGE GUTS! anyway, in case the voice doesn't have a big enough effect, or not the kind of effect we want.

Was gonna stay out of this one, but might as well go with the amusing vote.
No. 178201
[x] Use your voice and see if it affects the attackers.
[x] Remember that they're metal and your voice is elemental in nature. See if you can use this to effect them
[x]Be prepared to rip into them if it doesn't work.

Considering they're machines, I think we might be able to utilize it to attack the core of their being, like we do youkai. Not sure we can, but Luminous did mention earlier that we might be able to utilize our voice in different ways, learn new songs if you will. Also makes me curious if we could infuse the bestial desire to rip and tear into our voice. Not sure if any of this will work, or even what effect it would have if it did, but even if it does we need to be careful to not get overwhelmed.
No. 178203
Planning to write tonight. I'll call it when I get back this evening.
No. 178204
[x] Use your voice and see if it affects the attackers.
[x] Remember that they're metal and your voice is elemental in nature. See if you can use this to your advantage.
[x]Be prepared to rip into them if it doesn't work.

If we're gonna change up our tactics, this is all we've got. Because I doubt that arrow has any effect on friggin' mechs.
No. 178205
[x] Use your voice and see if it affects the attackers.
[x] Remember that they're metal and your voice is elemental in nature. See if you can use this to affect them.
[x]Be prepared to rip into them if it doesn't work.

>>178204
We could try to jam the arrow into one of the machines, attempting to break it using sheer physical force, but it might not be the best way to use our only anti-demon weapon.
No. 178206
At least trying our voice sounds like a good idea, but we should definitely let Reimu know we're going to. That's just good teamwork. Heck, she might already know if it won't work and save us some trouble.
No. 178207
>>178205
I agree about the arrow. Reimu said we can only use it once. It would be a shame to use such a powerful weapon when we didn't need to. I'd much rather save it for when we're in Gensokyo and have to face youkai. It's a gift she didn't have to make for us. It doesn't feel like something we should use lightly.

It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to give her a quick heads up about using our voice though, even if I don't think it affects humans the same way. We don't want to distract her during a battle though and we'll want to make it quick.
No. 178217
I'm back. Interesting turn, although you leave me a lot of wriggle room.

>>178206
Perhaps a good idea, but two is not a consensus, and it's not even in the votes.
No. 178224
>>178217
The worst part is, knowing you, it could very well happen.

[sarcasm]Welp, it's been a good run, guys.[/sarcasm]
No. 178226
>>178217

Well shit...As the person who agreed with him, I knew I should have gone back and added it into my write in. That will teach me not to adjust better, hopefully this doesn't hurt our situation too badly.

Also I don't think any of us would be surprised if she did show up. I hope she doesn't but, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
No. 178229
[-w-] Use your voice and see if it affects the attackers.
[-w-] Remember that they're metal and your voice is elemental in nature. See if you can use this to affect them.
[-w-] Be prepared to rip into them if it doesn't work.

------------

Without any hesitation, you follow after her. You cannot see any of the other invaders at the moment, but as you run under the hole they blew open in the ceiling, you can hear them marching around the base farther ahead.

Reimu is right in that you have to think of something else, but you only have one weapon besides your claws. Your voice may have some sort of effect on them. "Don't know how good that'd do, though. If these are machines through and through, they can turn off their audio receptors or whatever the things are called…" You grumble a bit as you keep following the maiden. "Watched too much science fiction… Although, is it really?"

Thoughts on old television shows will have to wait, though, as you are busy trying some way you can manipulate or harm the creatures with your voice. How is what you are different than they? "If Margatroid did the same to me as the others… and made me part like a doll…"

A machine turns the corner that Reimu is skirting around, and manages to earn itself a face-full of stick in return for its efforts. Reimu easily slips the unwieldy shots and attacks of the automaton and hammers it repeatedly, doing far more damage with her weapon of choice than should be physically possible. After a few strikes, it falls down to the floor, disabled and unable to move, although you can still see its eyes following you.

You don't bother watching her fight much longer, though, as you bend down and rip off as much of the wiring as possible. Once this thing is dead and on the ground, you leap up and continue after her.

At the least, you try to do that until another one emerges from a broken down door. You can see on the other side that it is one of the larger supply rooms that are scattered about the hallway. Curiously, it seems a bit bare. The next moment you are dodging the rounds from the arm of the robot as it attempts to spray you. Now is hardly the time for idle observation.

In a rather severe tactical blunder, it follows you out into the hall and continues to fire at you. In the doorway you would have been safe and able to fire at you no matter which angle you attacked. Tempted to try out your voice now, you instead go with the tried and true method of ripping out its internal components.

This time, you try and dodge to its left, and your right. It can only track you so far, and you get nicked in your feathers as you fly counterclockwise and grab its back. Without waiting a bit, you clamp down and force your hand in once more, wanting to become so secured that it's unable to cast you off as the other did.

Cuts grace your shoulder as the hybrid extends its own claws and strikes as far as it can. It can only attack for so long, though, as you manage to rip out very carefully wrapped wires, disabling a number of its limbs. The rest are soon rendered offline before the whole contraption falls to the ground, lifeless. "I'm lucky we're in these tunnels. If either of those even had a chance to hit me…"

With that taken care of, you listen for the sound of battle and fly forward, flapping your wings and trying to get as much speed to catch up. The plan from earlier comes to mind once more as you consider just what you've incorporated into yourself, and what these creations are. No matter how fancy they are, they are just puppets of a kind. Maybe you can try and communicate ether, or bend them to your will. It can't hurt to try, especially if you can't harm them with the normal terrible bellow.

Once you round another bend, you find Reimu fighting four of the machines at once, weaving and bobbing as she avoids the melee strikes. One of the machines is farther from the others and attempts to fire her, but the girl just can't be hit. Bullets seem to bend around her body considering the uncanny manner that she can avoid any attack.

This time, you go ahead with your other plan. Gears grind and metal squeals against metal as you prepare to unleash your tirade. The robots seem to be aware for you, but are focused on the greater threat. Reimu spots you as you prepare to shout, and her eyes widen as she shouts something you can't hear. Your voice turns brown, and everything else is drowned out.

Instead of speaking out loud, you let͢ ͘loo҉se͢ ̷a͝n͟ u̵͡n̛ḿ̧i̷͏̴t̶͝i͏͏͢g҉a̛te̡̡d͜͟ s̒͗̀͛̈̀h̶̛͑̽ͫͥȓ̨ͬ̽̃͜i̒͑́͢e̸̽ͬ͟k̵̾̿̉̓ͪͧ́͟͜ as you try to pry the automatons' attention away from the girl. Ug̴l͞y, n͠͏̟̝̟̜̯͎͎́ͅa̢̭͖̲͉͕̘̣̦͜s͔͜͠t̸̶͓͕͚̼̠̳̹̰͉͠y̧҉̼̣̦͈͈͔̳͟ n͊̑͆͆̾̀ȍ́̒ͪ̃̌ͩ́̀t̑̐͛ͯ͆̽ẽ̍͒̐̈̿ͪs̶̡̑̾͒̂̾ͦ̑̓̾ fͫ̏a̋̆l͗ͫ͐̍ͨ͛l̶̊̈́̽ͩͤ ̧fͫr̢̃̈̋̊ǒm̊ ̴̏̃ͮͦyͥo͗ͪ͡u̵̎r̒̆ͯ̓̐̊͜ ͐̈́m͊ͭͣͭ̕o͋ͭ͒ͬ̒̋u͢tͮ̉ͮ͊͏h̆ and spr͜e̢a̴d̸ across the room too f̸̂̋͗̔̇͘҉̞̳͍̜̭a͍̯̲̲̞̝ͨ͐ͥ̇̅̒̓s̷̖̬̗̿̾̀ͯ̏͛͋tͨ̾̍͆̉͋͛͘͏̯̗̙̣͓̲̹͇ for your e͈̣y͜e͏͓̪̰̺̫̘s̳̥ ͉̤̻̤t̯̀o̺̼̺ͅ ͟t͕̼̣̖͕͙̱r̛͈a͎c͞k̼̟̪̦͖ͅ. Whether you are hallucinating or not, they throw themselves at every nook and every cranny — a͠n̽͑̊̄҉̻͔̲͕̥d̶͔̖̻ ̰͙̫̃̊ͩͯ̌e̻̙̹̭͕̖̮ͬ͂͗̋̂̀v͎̝͔̀͒̂̚e̡̅ͧ̆r̜̩͉ͫ͛͐̒́̕y̶̜̥̽̐̀ͬ͊ ̈́̆͋͊͝ͅp̭̙͌ȅ̴r͚̠̜͇͇͠s̼̻̭̰̻̱̫͊ͨͦ̐ó̗̜͎̻̲͑̄̔͘n͎͚̺͍̲ͥͨ̃ͮ̒ͥ — within the blink of an eye.

Reimu immediately falls victim and collapses to the ground with an unholy scream to rival yours.

Your thoughts race to comprehend, but as they do, the mechanical beings unload into the supine woman. Her stomach becomes a bloody mess as the rounds tear into her. Without waiting to understand, you race forward and attack the one that shot her, attempting to part its head from the rest of its body. It takes some digging, but in your temporary rage, you manage to extract its electrical cables and its vital essence of lightning just as the others.

The others see how you react, though, and they turn their weapons on you now that Reimu has been rendered harmless. You can't dodge all of their shots, so you don't even try. Instead, you run straight at them as you switch tactics. Gears shift again, but this time you talk to them in a softer voice, one you last used with Amsterdam.

There is steel underneath the velvet, though, and this time the automatons stumble in place. It's faint, but you can hear the odd metal within them shift at your command. It isn't enough to stymie them, especially as most of the notes seem to do nothing.

It's enough for you to fly into melee range. For machines, your enemies seem to be horrible shots, as they missed you at point blank range. You don't care to question the how, as you are too busy removing the eyes of the attackers, along with every other part of it. Their attacks are frantic, and they do mange to score a few hits with their own melee weapons, but you are locked in a fury right now and tear limb from metallic limb. Two easily go down, and you focus on the last one who is holding you at point-blank range.

Curiously enough, there is fear in its eyes, or at least you believe there is. Maybe it's just how the robot treats an unknown reaction that it didn't expect. Whatever flash of heart vanishes as it spins up the weapon and you leap forward. Before either of you make contact with the other, air whistles and three tiny fountains of blood spurt out of the top of its head.

Slowly, the hybrid being begins to topple. A card appears out of nowhere and drives itself into its jaw. In a flash of red light and a pale visage of yin and yang, the world itself screams and rips apart as the machine is sucked into a plane separate from this one.

With the last threat removed, you turn back and look at Reimu. Somehow, despite the wounds leaking out of her gut, she manages to stand on her feet. While one hand tries to keep her innards inside her body, the other holds a set of needles and one more card in her hand. Breath is long and heavy, but she is not struggling to stay alive.

The shrine maiden meets your eyes, and for the entire world they seem to be just like any other humans. She knows that you know. For a few seconds everything is quiet as you catch your breath and decide what to do. Her lifeblood slowly drips onto the floor below, but Reimu keeps all the pain off her face as she waits for you to react.

[ ] ____________
No. 178230
[x]...Um. Perhaps you should get that checked out?

I'd imagine Lucas is just about as confused as I am after that heated encounter.
Also, she knows that we know what? Are we to guess that she's a Changeling herself?
...Or what if she's the god of her shrine, incarnated? Would certainly explain the demon-killing arrow...
...Or maybe I'm talking crazy talk. It is after 11:30 at night as I type this...
No. 178231
Why did anyone think testing our voice in potential friendly fire like this was a remotely not retarded idea?
No. 178232
>>178231
sameguy coming back, sleep deprived and I missed a couple lines of text, good job guys with the idea to use the voice.
No. 178233
>>178231

Be that is it may, did you, or anyone else for that matter, vote against it? We can point fingers all we like, but that changes nothing.

Our voice is most effective on Youkai. Well, other than elementals. With a reaction like that...

[X] "...You aren't human, are you?"
No. 178234
>>178233

>>178230 here, changing my vote to this.
This totally confirms one of my crazy theories!
No. 178235
[x] "I'm so sorry...I didn't think..you aren't human, are you?"
[x] "Is there anything I can do to help?"
[x] "Do the others know?"

Well...shit. There's no reason to get angry at each other. >>178233 is right we brought this on ourselves and there were no votes for not using our voice after all. This isn't a good situation, but hopefully some good can come of it. We did learn that our voice can affect the elements, machines.
This is also a chance, as long as she's not going to die on us or attack us to learn more about Reimu, who I've felt was on of the most interesting characters so far. She's a character I like and I want her to trust us.
I modified the vote because I felt it was a little abrupt and I think Lucas would be more remorseful and worried about her health, considering how fairly she's treated him.
No. 178236
[x] "I'm so sorry... I didn't think..you aren't human, are you?"
[x] "Is there anything I can do to help?"
[x] "Do the others know?"


Welp, we fucked up. We just have to admit that and try to fix things instead of pointing fingers.
No. 178237
[X] "I'm so sorry...I didn't think..you aren't human, are you?"
[X] "Is there anything I can do to help?"
[X] "Do the others know?"

That sounds reasonable. Still, non-human Reimu? Interesting.
No. 178238
[x] "I'm so sorry...I didn't think..you aren't human, are you?"
[x] "Is there anything I can do to help?"
[x] "Do the others know?"

We had virtually no way to know beforehand that Reimu would be affected by our voice. Everybody was simply assuming that Reimu was an overly competent human, which is a logical presumption given that she is often characterized as powerful in virtually all forms of fanon due to the nature of her upbringing. Nobody ever suggested that she could be of youkai origin simply because Reimu hid it well enough and because of this canon/fanon generalization we all have.

There were signs, of course, but we didn't notice them whatsoever. When we asked Reimu about her shrine, she simply mentioned that her home and family were destroyed. But how could she have survived? In fact, it was even stated by Lucas that "she's hiding something" directly afterwards in >>177346 , but we didn't think it was important enough to consider at the time.

Most of us are dismayed by the consequences of our thoughtless usage of our anti-youkai voice, and I agree with the sentiment that our act of friendly fire is reprehensible. However, I stand by the fact that we simply did not have any reason to expect that Reimu of all people is someone of Youkai nature. Of course, this will serve to complicate our situation both in the short-term and long-term, since Reimu is injured and one of the entities that the organization strives to eliminate. We should certainly apologize for our actions, but we need to keep in mind that Reimu has been hiding this secret not just from us, but from virtually everybody else in the organization. Given time, it is likely that she would have been inevitably attacked by an anti-youkai weapon. It's just that we were the ones who used a device like that on her.
No. 178240
[x] "I'm so sorry...I didn't think..you aren't human, are you?"
[x] "Is there anything I can do to help?"
[x] "Do the others know?"

For some reason, I keep hearing this in Will Smith's voice. But yeah, I thought our box affected anything not entirely natural/clean. So random police officers are okay, but I thought we had already shown our voice to be harmful to most people on the base.
No. 178243
Altogether, an interesting supposition that everyone has arrived at. It is the simplest answer to divine, I'll agree.

I believe I'll call it here.
No. 178247
>>178243
Somehow, I feel that your choice of the word 'divine' was intended as a punny hint.
Ergo, my other crazy theory was correct instead!
No. 178250
>>178238

This is also assuming she's a youkai or changeling. I agree it seems likely, but, she could also be something we don't know about, some sort of divine being perhaps. Also keep in mind, yes she's been hiding things from us, but she also is under no obligation to tell us. Also just because we didn't have reason to suspect does not mean we are free of responsibility.
Of course, the more important matter is her injuries. I could care less what she is, she's always treated us fairly.
No. 178258
[-x-] "I'm so sorry… I didn't think… You aren't human, are you?"
[-x-] "Is there anything I can do to help?"
[-x-] "Do the others know?"

------------

"Sorry… I'm so sorry." You drop your hands and bend down a bit, looking at her wound. "I didn't think it would do that to you. I hardly thought…" Without anything else to say, you look back up at her, more confused than anything else. "You're… You aren't human, are you?"

Reimu returns your look with a rather blank look of her own as she slowly relaxes, lowering her weapons as well. "…I am. Not that I should be. B-by all rights, I should be dead, just as m-many times before."

"…What do you mean then? If you're not a Youkai or a Changeling… How could my voice affect you so badly? Are you something else? Does the voice affect all the magic deep in your stomach?"

"…Not quite." The girl coughs a bit before cracking a little grin. "If I were… were so lucky. No, There's nothing of the sort. You could… could possibly… affect me, but to take me down to the… the ground." Blood flies out of her mouth as she coughs once more and bends over, clutching her stomach.

You immediately leap forward and press your own hands against the wound. "Stop talking now. You need to rest yourself. I'll find some way to heal the wound. Or at least I can stop the blood from flowing…" Without waiting any longer, you fumble with your shirt as you try to remove it single-handedly.

"Don't bother." The maiden snaps at your hand as you begin to tear the fabric. "Don't even bother with it. I've been through far worse. Much, much worse. Hell, the night my life ended… Well, I'm not going to bother saying."

"That doesn't matter. You're bleeding, and you might bleed out. Even if you weren't, there is still too much exposed to even rest for a moment." A worry flashes in your mind and you glance over your shoulder, back down the hall. "And one of the others could come. Those automatons… or one of the others. I doubt they know."

"I've tried to hide it. I've succeeded. I've had little choice. Besides, I won't die. She won't let me die. There is too much that I have to finish, and there's too much that I still owe."

Your head snaps back as your claws curl into a fist. "She?"

"Yes. My master."

"…How?"

"My family was dead… My god was dead. Even if I knew it was a daemon… A youkai… I didn't know better." Reimu looks down at her wound for just a moment before nodding. With that, she brushes off her stomach and straightens up. "I have not lied to you at all… Just… I am bound by as many threads as you were. Possibly more."

Even as stretches to her full height, you are caught staring at her wound that has now vanished, leaving only pale skin behind. "Wait a second… Why would another Youkai want you… How did that just heal?"

"It is not my time to die. And there is too much invested here for me to simply leave. Until they are all safe, I cannot leave."

"That still doesn't ask the how. I can heal, but it takes me an entire night to regenerate a gaping wound like that."

Reimu sighs and shakes her head. "Do you imagine yourself to be powerful or strong? If you do, put those thoughts to your side. A relatively weak and opportunistic Youkai found you. There are others that are far more terrible and awesome than the one you were enslaved to." Her expression falls a bit and she looks at you in the eye. On the corner of each, you think you can find a shimmer glistening on wet droplets. "I wish you had not spoken to me earlier. She… finds you interesting as well. I'm sorry to say that we will meet again once this is done."

"Reimu… What did you do?"

An explosion rocks the base once more, and Reimu's mouth thins as she looks down the hall. "There isn't any time to waste. We have to hurry to help the others."

"Tell me, Reimu! I need to know. Someone needs to know. If there is any way at all that I can help…"

"Then run. Take yourself away from here and into a place that my master cannot reach as easily." With that said, she reaches into her sleeve and pulls out a familiar stick far longer than what should fit. "We will hold off the enemy long enough for the sleepers and the invaluable changelings to escape. Once they are gone… Take as many as you can across the hedge. Don't look back."

You find that you've clenched your teeth as you consider the thought. "And what about you? Are we to leave you here behind? I can't do that."

The girl gives you one last hard look, although her eyes still shine. "Yes, you. I'm tainted enough by her… Cursed with a portion of her powers. The only reason I'm not Changed is because it would be too easy to discover me otherwise. Just follow me, and we will take out as many as we can. Ignore me if I go down."

"I… Reimu. I really…"

"Promise me, or don't promise me. But I've got to go kill them." Clenching her eyes and hiding her dark orbs, the maiden turns around and marches to the door. "You shouldn't trust me, but if we don't do anything the others will die. That's all there is to it."

"You don't have to tell me otherwise. Let's just go." For one last time you look down at the tattered remains of her outfit, and where she is wounded, before following on her heels. For a moment, you glance down at your arm, where she hid that arrow. You think about asking her how she managed to force that down inside, but you decide not to. You know enough as it is.

Once the two of you turn the corner, you find yourselves staring down a horde of the creatures as they climb down the shaft. Their are easily two score of them, with most establishing a perimeter while some work on the elevator door. You try to step softly and not alert them, but their heads rise in unison and focus on you. A second later their cannons start spinning, and you duck down behind the stone corner.

"I don't think this is going to work, Reimu. I can't get close to them!"

"Just don't freak out, then." She smiles a bit more, although is it out of relief or out of some dark humor in her mind? "I hope I do not see you again."

"…I want to help, Reimu. How can I do that if we never meet?"

"…Optimistic fool." The girl sniffs, and the floor vanishes from underneath you. You do your best not to let out another bloodcurdling scream as you start to fall, although you don't go far at all before landing on top of the rearmost automaton. Somehow you've ended up in the rear of their formation.

You don't even think as you tear into the nearest one, taking it by surprise with your underground aerial assault. The others that established the perimeter turn to face you, but the front few have a series of needles file out and skewer them in the eyeballs. The mechanical abominations do not even scream at the intense pain that would down any human and instead attempt to fire on both you and Reimu as she assaults.

A few seconds after your attack begins, a tiny form flings herself into combat. Akyuu does her best to take down the others alongside you. She strikes with fists and palms of lightning, but the blunt force barely dents the machines. She does much better picking on the scraps of the ones you have dismantled.

After a minute, during which more have descended and begun assaulting, the small girl cries out in frustration. "These things have changed in the past two hundred years. When did they get so… so difficult to disable?"

"Don't ask me. I wouldn't even know where to start!" You have to duck and fly out of the way to avoid a short burst that is leveled towards you. Akyuu has an advantage with her small size, as she can bob and weave out of the line of fire easily. "Where are all these coming from? I thought that Reimu…"

"I can't hear her! I don't know where she went!" That isn't good news. She hardly could have bailed… Would she? She could have been lying…

No matter whether the maiden was lying or not, you're still having to deal with far too many machines. You're running out of room to even avoid, especially with the multiple corpses lying destitute on the floor. The machines that are encroaching are slowly encircling you, nicking you with every shot they can. You are bleeding in too many places to shrug off the pain. The dull ache is slowing you down, forcing you to fight more and more defensively.

A bell rings softly in the din of battle, and you can't bother to spend the effort to look at its source. The elevator nearby starts to slide open, and the machines pause for just a second to peer at it. The guns fall silent, leaving you the chance to get one breath in.

Before you take your next one, booming cannon fire tears a hole in the air itself.

A blur shoots out of the elevator and flies across the ceiling, propelled by two small rockets on its back. It begins to rain down fire on the crowd of machines, knocking them to the ground. At the same time, a large mechanical thud shakes the floor as a metallic foot rises up and smashes the nearest machine to the floor. Piloting the large, cramped machine is none other than the twin-tailed tank girl herself.

"…What the heck? When did she ever…" You're not even going to ask as you turn your attention to the automatons in the blind spot of the walking tank. You do your best to rip off the metal plates underneath the skin of the creatures, and Akyuu helpfully reaches in and rips out their insides. Idly, you notice that her hands are a bloody ruin. Her body can't be used to this level of combat.

However great your efforts have been to defend the tunnels, the two sisters soon overshadow them. The blur darting through the tunnels is soon revealed to be Rikako flying around with a jetpack. As a first, you notice the magic she has under her command, as bullets of pure energy seem to form out of nowhere and smack into all sides of the robots. They do not seem to be that effective, curiously enough, as one automaton that was slammed by dozens continues to fire at her.

Her mechanical creations are far more deadly, though, and she is quite apt at finding the holes that her magical bombardment creates. Rika is not nearly as elegant, or as skilled, as her steam-powered behemoth is just laying down a torrent of rounds into any machine she can target. By themselves, the two of them manage to lay waste to those machines that remained.

Eventually, the guns fall silent, and Rikako lands next to you. Rika's tank lumbers about and focuses on the tunnel beneath the hole, but no more creations come out for now. "That was a rather timely assist… Thanks for the save."

"You're welcome. Reimu told us that we needed to come and help." Rikako nods to herself and tilts her head. "I am… concerned how many that have been sent. It's unusually for them to send this many machines only for use as cannon fodder."

"I agree." Akyuu clears her throat and looks towards the ceiling. "They truly desire what we have. We need to evacuate the others as soon as we can. What is their status?"

Rikako cringes a bit before she spits out the answer. "Layla is gone. Harmon doesn't know who it was. All he saw was a grinning blonde woman in a straw hat grabbing her and stealing her away. …He tried to shoot the kidnapper, but it was too late."

The news hits you like a ten-pound hammer. How could she have been taken? Did someone get by? "Was there any others that made it downstairs? Some sort of spy we couldn't see?"

"I don't know. But why would they take Layla?" Rikako shakes her head. "I had to sedate Harmon, but he and the rest are loaded in. We've done as much as we can, although we'll need time to actually make a getaway."

"We won't have much more. Where they send dozens, they'll send hundreds. Valuable the troops may be, but in the end, they are disposable." Akyuu shakes her head and looks around. "Where is Reimu anyways? Didn't she follow you up?"

The scientist has no answer. The ground above you rumbles again, and everyone ambles about a bit idly, waiting to for someone to suggest what happens next. And all this time, you've yet to hear about Marisa.

[ ] Send Rikako downstairs to evacuate them.
[ ] Send Rika downstairs to evacuate them.
[ ] Keep everyone upstairs and guard the hole for now.
[ ] Try to seal it up.
[ ] Send everyone downstairs and go look for Marisa.
[ ] Write-in Option to Order the Troops as the Reader sees Fit.
No. 178261
So, Reimu is bound to Yukari, fan-fucking-tastic.
Suwako just kidnapped Layla, fan-fucking-tastic.

So, now we have the attention of a Youkai far and above more powerful than anything we can deal with, which is likely inhibiting any recovery of Suika, while keeping Reimu from being an untainted shrine maiden when the next primary interaction would be fucking Sanae.

What's next? Suwako takes her pointers from a combination of a certain body horror frog species and a little movie called Alien?

Welp, I think its about time we went damage control.

[] Send everyone downstairs and go look for Marisa.

I assume this means we are evacuating everyone ahead of us as we personally are looking for Marisa?
No. 178278
[X] Send everyone downstairs and go look for Marisa.

Damage control. MAXIMUM DAMAGE CONTROL. (Or we just end up getting killed ourselves.)


In hindsight, Reimu being bound to Yukari isn't actually that surprising.
No. 178312
[X] Ask Rikako to go downstairs and evacuate the others. Confirm that the Prismrivers will be sufficient to protect the evacuation.
-[X]Go look for Marisa with Rika and Akyuu.
--[X] Warn the others that Reimu is not able to join them because she's bound to one of them. Tell them about her advice.
---[X]Ask Akyuu if there's an alternative exit out of the underground.

I agree with the notion that we need to find Marisa, but the way we're doing this 'damage control' is probably going to end horribly in some manner. Sending off the others and searching for Marisa may appear to be the 'right' thing, but Reimu just told us to do the opposite in order to realize the best outcome. If she's actually telling the truth, which I believe she was, then our current decision to 'go solo' is actually a decision that could only lead to tragedy.

>Once they are gone… Take as many as you can across the hedge. Don't look back.

I'm assuming that 'they' are the sleepers and the invaluable changelings, e.g. Felia, Layla, and Kourin. Somebody needs to evacuate them, and I believe that since Rikako appears to be the only other 'invaluable changeling' in the base (the first one being Kourin), she needs to be the one to take the others away from here.

Additionally, Reimu implied that if we intend to avoid being ensnared by her master's plots, we need to bring as many of the base's personnel with us when we cross into Gensokyo. Right now, we're going to be all alone when we venture off into the depths of the facility looking for Marisa, but Akyuu and Rika will probably serve an invaluable role in the following events if we have them come with Lucas. I'm assuming that when we find Marisa, we'll end up in Gensokyo in short order, so we should have three girls, Marisa, Akyuu, and Rika, by our side when we cross over. This will naturally fulfill Reimu's suggestion that we bring over 'as many as we can'.

As for Reimu... They have the right to know. Somebody whom they had looked up to for so long is actually aligned with one of the enemy, and if they still believe she's one of them, it could backfire given time. Reimu does not want them to know, but she could be ordered to eliminate them by her master (Possibly Yukari) and without being forewarned, the others could suffer for our negligence. If she was so certain that the best course of action was to escape to Gensokyo, the place which Lucas had barely escaped with his sanity and one that both of them know is a nightmarish place for mortals and Changelings alike... There's probably a good reason why she told us that.

It's heavily implied that if we try to be the hero here, nothing good will come out of it. This 'plan' is clearly flawed, and relies on the assumption that Reimu's telling us the truth, but it's all we have to go on.

If any of you still have doubts (I would be surprised if you didn't), allow me to reference a certain familiar post that will give you something to think about.

>>166200
No. 178313
>>178312

But the prismrivers are missing, aren't they?
No. 178318
>>178313

I'm aware that they're 'missing' in the same manner by which Harmon wasn't mentioned for several scenes until now. Unless there's something in the text that heavily implies or states outright that they are AWOL, I see no reason to assume that they're just 'missing'. Please correct me if I'm mistaken, but I stand by the fact that because Rika and Rikako have not informed us that the Prismrivers have not abandoned their post despite being relatively near their post (Layla should have been kept nearby Kourin and Felia, whom the sisters were protecting) that the Prismrivers are still protecting the others.

tl;dr: There isn't any evidence to suggest the Prismrivers are missing. Try something else that's flawed in the post.
No. 178339
Fuck I don't know what to do. Too many people giving too many opinions making me more paranoid than usual.

Now I know how the Twitch Plays Pokémon protagonists feel.
No. 178342
[x] Send Rika downstairs to evacuate the others.
[x] Ask if they'll need more protection or help to evacuate everyone, if so send Rikako.
[x] Go with Akyuu and maybe Rikako to find Marisa.
[x[ Find Marisa quickly and try to meet back at the evacuation site.

Not sure what to do about Reimu. I don't mind explaining the situation, but not sure how Akyuu would react right now and not sure we have time to get her to believe us. I'm not one hundred percent sure what to do. I'm not sure if Rikako counts as one of the changelings. Also is she needed to perform the evacuation. I'd like to just send Rika, because even though I like her, I'm not sure if I want to take her to Gensokyo. Not because I don't trust her, but she's just a human, the others have magic to defend themselves. I'm also not sure she'll be enough to keep everyone safe. As to Reimu's advice, she's so vague that it makes me hesitate. I trust her in this case, because I think she cares about the people here, but understanding what she means is difficult.
Also tempted the wait here, because I have a feeling Marissa will show up. I think we won't be forced to go to the other side till we reunite with her, but I can't be sure of this, thus the middle ground.
I just don't feel confident with my vote though.
No. 178343
>>178342

[x] Send Rikako downstairs to evacuate them.
[x] Keep everyone else upstairs and guard the hole for now.


I just wanted to present an alternative option. The first post is my vote, but consider it switched to this if people like it better.
Consider this an alternative, have faith in Marisa option. I just have the feeling we're over thinking this and I think it might be a bad idea to split up.
Either way I think we need to get the people downstairs evacuated as quickly as possible. This option allows us to take action, while keeping it simple, thus, hopefully ruffling as few feathers as possible. It also allows us to talk about Reimu if need be and get imput from Akyuu. I didn't put it in the vote, but we may want to ask Akyuu what Reimu would mean by "sleepers and important changelings".
No. 178369
Going to go ahead and call for [ ] Indecision, then.

>>178261
You know, there are other blonde-haired women with straw hats that have closer relations to those that are in the base than a random mad frog goddess.
No. 178372
Probably Kana Anaberal, then. She's even a poltergeist, so yanking Marisa around would be no trouble.
No. 178373
>>178369
If that's the case, then I have three words for us.
We. Are. Fucked.
No. 178376
>>178373
If you happened to be one of the other voters, I sympathize with your sentiment, even if we chose opposing write-ins. If not...

>>178369

Considering that we're all suggesting multiple plans without really establishing a clear majority, I guess this is the inevitable result. After all, if only 4 people are willing to vote in the first place on two contradictory options, that surely means that everybody else who might be reading this story is fine with what happens next.

I'm being serious here; 7 different plans, with almost half of them having established reasons why they should be chosen, were offered for the readers of the story. The fact that only four people voted this time when seven had voted in the previous write-in shows that there isn't any want for interested readers. With the compelling arguments given this time for the two (technically 3, if you count >>178343) choices/write-ins available to us, it's understandable that the other readers would be hesitant to commit to any given choice. This hesitancy might prove to be our undoing, but worry not, fellow readers, for if you feel as disgusted by this outcome as I do, than we can appeal to the writer to give us more time to vote at the cost of 'a few' letters from the z decision (I'm taking this from the rules of the previous story).

If we're willing to let this slide by, then let's just hope this doesn't bite us in the ass as painfully as I dread. Then again, we're probably screwed because of this.
No. 178386
>>178376
It really is a bit late. I always try and be a bit more stringent with these scenes. Battle scenes just have less time to dither. Besides, for quite a while, I have been planning what happens next. It is lamentable, but it was set in stone long ago. Affection, or lack there of, must come into play.
No. 178387
[ ] Indecision

------------

Since none of the others are coming up with any ideas, you try and venture a few of your own. "Listen, we have to go and do something. If they're coming up now, we probably should get as many of the others away as soon as possible. And we need to find Marisa."

"She is still missing?" Rika looks down at you through the screen on her armored walking machine. "I thought she would have turned up by now. Something's not right, Lukie. We need to go and find her, now, before we get out of here!"

"No we don't. The others are more valuable. We can save all of them." Akyuu huffs and looks up at the youngest person present by actual age. "For all her faults, Marisa is reasonably capable. She'll be fine, no matter where she ended up."

"What if she gets captured and we don't come to save her? We can't let that happen!"

"First, we need to get the others away. We need someone to drive the tank, and the rest of us can go search for the witch while we're busy looking."

Rikako arcs an eyebrow before she begins to fiddle with her jetpack. "Not getting proper fuel mixture… it's only exceeding proper conversion ratio by one point…" Eventually, she looks back at you. "Never mind me. But if we do as you suggest, who will prevent the others from being attacked? The bay downstairs isn't easily accessible, but when others are willing to burrow and plant explosives in a volcano to access our current residence, it won't take long for them to get inside."

"Can't any of the others do the job?" You look between Rikako and Akyuu, searching for some answers. "Harmon's out, but what about Felia's sisters?"

"You saw how difficult of a time I had against those marks. Do you expect those two to have anymore success, even if they are armed with assault rifles?" Akyuu scoffs and shakes her head. "That won't work. Tolia and Ilia are at best a thirty second delaying action, while Kourin, Felia, and Layla were the ones we were trying to protect. We evidently failed in the last one already…"

During all this conversation, Rika continues to look around, keeping a watch to make sure that nothing is coming. "How did something else get in here?"

"We don't know, but they've not taken anyone else. If they could slip in that easily, they would have stolen away others first. Whoever it is has a secondary agenda." Rikako finally reconnects one of the hoses she was examining. "Harold is dead, and the three elder sisters are…"

Rika answers her sister's quizzing glance. "They have been on a mission, but they've been gone for so long…"

"I hope they recognize the base is compromised, or we'll be looking at three more lost to them." Akyuu rubs her forehead. "Where could Reimu have gone, though? Would she have already gone ahead to keep them from coming, or are they merely consolidating their assets before launching another assault?"

"No idea." This time, you decide to step up. "Ok, since we all can't go, you go downstairs, Rika, while the rest of us—"

"No, I won't!" The girl crosses her arms and looks down at you for once. "I'm not gonna go run and hide again. I can help now, and I don't want to let y— everyone get hurt!"

You try your best to ignore the rid on the tip of the girl's ears. "Rika, listen, you're the one that always is best at driving the things. We might need Rikako's help up here."

"And you don't need mine? I can help just as much as she can!"

Rikako just shoots Rika a look. "Calm down, Rika. Now is not the time for this. I know our emotions may be running high…"

"I don't know when he decided he was the one in charge, anyways." Akyuu squares her feet and shoots you a dirty look. "Since when did you start barking out the orders around here? Marisa doesn't get to tell everyone else what they're going to do, so why do you?"

"Since when does it matter? You're not offering ideas, so I think that I should go ahead and do it!" You bite your tongue as you focus on the smaller girl. "Listen, I want to save them, but we need to do something for the others. I'm just making a suggestion…"

"And I say that we should all just leave. If the others can't take care of themselves, it's their fault! We knew what was coming, so if they couldn't prepare or somehow got into trouble, we need to worry about those that remain."

Rika stops puffing her face at you to stare down at Akyuu. "You're suggesting that we leave them behind? I'm not going to leave Marisa behind? I'm not going to do that! Not for any of them."

"That's why you never do anything, you little girl! You are too naïve to realize just what it means to risk everything. We must save what we can, and not throw everything away just because you feel you have to save someone. It's their own fault. Besides, Marisa probably can take care of herself, and Reimu will finish up and meet up soon."

"Guys…" What all you witnessed, and what all Reimu spoke of, comes to your mind again as you dither about whether you tell them. "About her… I don't think she is gonna…"

Akyuu spins around in place and looks up at you. "Going to what? Did you do something to her when she was down in one of the tunnels? Probably stabbed her in the back, I imagine."

Considering you did do something like that, you can't avoid wincing at the accusation. "If you would just actually try to trust me, you would know that I would never do such a thing."

Rikako clears her throat and tries to interject a calm voice between the rising bellows coming from the small girl. "He did manage to go out of his way and destroy that which was in my head. He could have injured me easily, but he managed not to. Shouldn't that earn him a little?"

"You owe him a favor. I expect you to treat him fondly." Akyuu reaches up pokes a finger in your stomach. "Although, ever since he has arrived, he has been snooping about in too many places and he has tried to intercede in the business of everyone here. He tries to usurp control. Just a Youkai that wants to take over us for its own gain."

"Really, I wouldn't…"

A body slumps down and lands on the ground in the center of the hole, and you look away for a second. The continued accusations Akyuu makes distract you enough that you're not paying attention to your surroundings. In the nick of time, you manage to hear Rika cry out a warning. "Lucas, watch out!" In a split second, you look up and see that another former has silently landed and already has its arm out to fire. Great beams of light lance out and scatter about the hall, filling it with a brilliance that belies its harmlessness.
No. 178388
The streaks fly quickly, but fortunately it's not enough. You automatically reach forward and grab Akyuu by the arms, since she was facing the wrong way and can't see what was happening. You do your best to spin her around and protect her with your body, but the light slips past you and you hear her shout out in pain as you finally tuck her against you and hunch over. The beams of light sting and cause your skin and feathers to burn, but none of the injuries seem to bad.

Once it's done, you lean back and look down at Akyuu, searching for her wound. Oddly enough, she seems to be looking up, breathing heavily but not too harshly. A hand covers her heart, but when she pulls it away and holds it up, you see the viscous fluid spurt out of, splattering your chest with her vital essence. "…So short… Was it all… all for…"

"Wait a second, you're not…" Before either of you can finish, her eyes roll up and she falls limp in your arms. The bloody ruin continues to pour forth even if light shines through where her heart should rest. Cradling the girl's limp body, you glance upwards at the sisters, hoping they managed to come through better.

Rika's machine is battered but operational, and Rikako seems to have taken cover behind it. Once you confirm that they are alive, you look down at Akyuu's body, not knowing what to do. Her breath has stilled even as what little blood remains in her body continues to rise out and onto you.
No. 178389
You're taking too much time to respond, and you know it. Slowly, you rise back to your full height and look back down the hallway. You hear Rikako curse out loud in a wavering voice the moment you spot the body clothed in red and white lying next to the intruder. Standing over her is another machine, you believe, but this one is different.

It's certainly not a practical design, like the others were, as that much hair could easily become a liability, but the weapon seem more advanced than you can imagine. Other than the metal sticking out of its arm and two metal pieces where its ears might be, to all the world it looks like a woman with long red hair.

For five seconds, you hold your breath as you stare down the machine. The hall becomes eerily quiet as everyone's breath stills, and even the joints of the walking tank stop groaning. The automaton stares back with an expressionless face as it looks from Rikako, to Rika, and then to you. Its eyes fall to the body in your arms, and time stands still and a shiver runs down your spine.

The machine sees the body coated in a bloody veneer, and it smiles.

[ ] What do you do?

------------

You have 24 hours.
No. 178390
[x] Quickly set down Akyuu's body or if the others anyone is by you pass it off.
[x] Tell the sisters to evacuate the others
[x] Rip into the machine.

Well shit.
No. 178391
OK, I'm not gonna vote until later, but let me say this now.
I've got a distinct feeling that this is the 'figure in the window' from when we saved Rikako.

>>178390
And if I'm right on that, then the 'rip and tear' plan probably ain't gonna work.
No. 178392
>>178391

I don't see much option beyond trying to hold this thing off and letting the others escape.
No. 178394
[x] Quickly set down Akyuu's body or if the others anyone is by you pass it off.
[x] Tell the sisters to evacuate the others
[x] Rip into the machine.

Whatever we're doing, we had best do it quickly; Begi only gave us 24 hours, and we need a consensus. This isn't a bad vote, even if we could do better, so I'm going with it.
No. 178400
[X] Quickly set down Akyuu's body or if the others anyone is by you pass it off.
[X] Tell the sisters to evacuate the others
[X] Rip into the machine.

Having sisters evacuate others is good, but something tells me this battle will be painful. Maybe we should stall her and try to escape later? Shame we have no idea what she's capable of.
No. 178414
[X] Quickly set down Akyuu's body or if the others anyone is by you pass it off.
[X] Tell the sisters to evacuate the others
[X] Rip into the machine.

I have this to say: Even if Akyuu was a suspicious little *rabble, rabble*... She didn't deserve this.
No. 178418
>>178414
No, she didn't.

In the end, I knew Akyuu was going to die in this post. Ever since >>177053, the deal was sealed. There was a plot line that you could actually have become friendly (ish it is Akyuu) with her, but in the end, that was avoided, and she remained neutral at best, and hostile and suspicious. It's a pity, as only one dimension ended up being showed.

That was your problem in this case. With Akyuu with low affection, she would never let you take the reigns even at this point unless she agrees with you. (She agrees with you on that point only because of the situation. Rika's, on the other hand, was raised too high too quickly. Akyuu was right in those regards. Consider that the greatest influence on her is Marisa. If Rikako's ability to use magic was eliminated, it would be here after she died after suffering otherwise avoidable injuries in the battle. And, of course, Marisa's addition to the active battle would have changed a few things at this stage. She would have been less effective against the earlier foes.

I could have waited longer to call the vote, but after 18 hours, I felt that votes were simply going to be slow in coming. Would things had been different if you had achieved consensus? At the very least, Akyuu's death would have been more noble, as she would have seen the shot coming. Needless to say, though, even the result could have been avoided, much less the circumstances.
No. 178419
>>178418
It really doesn't help that everyone was all, "Hey, let's have Lucas act like he's freakin' high! It'll be hilarious!"
And all I can say is, don't blame me, I voted to see if the person wanted anything. Though I doubt that was the right choice, it was something else.
No. 178422
[X] Quickly set down Akyuu's body or if the others anyone is by you pass it off.
[X] Tell the sisters to evacuate the others
[X] Rip into the machine.

Not that coming up with a different plan would make a difference by this point.

>>178419

I can't say I was specifically on board with you in terms of the response, assuming that you're >>176920, but we basically had the same sentiments since we both didn't want to respond in a sardonic manner and had wanted to talk with the unknown newcomer on a civil level. However, we were basically shot down when our fellow anons decided a passive-aggressive response laced with sarcasm would be far more agreeable to the newcomer than an attempt to talk to her on a civil level.

What seemed to be an amusing choice was actually a death flag on the level of Alice's request for Lucas to play with her in the previous story. The annoying thing that makes this fiasco far more frustrating is the simple fact that we keep on underestimating the gravity of our situation. I'm not saying that I'm faultless; my response still had a decent amount of sarcasm. However, it was of a different kind that signified Lucas was willing to talk on a civil level if both parties were willing to get off their high horses and talk face to face to each other. As it stands, I have a terrible feeling that because we've clearly shown that we haven't learned much from the previous run that we're going to make more avoidable 'mistakes' that will lead to tragedies at least as great as this one.

I do recognize that the other readers have made several 'acceptable' decisions, one of which led to Rikako's favorable recovery, but in terms of the events leading to Rika's death, I can say that we collectively deserve it. Anyways, let's hope we keep the death toll from rising past 3 this time. Characters are dying because of us. But we shouldn't keep this from causing us to make additional poor decisions.
No. 178424
>>178422
...You mean Akyuu, right?
Hopefully it doesn't happen to Rika too...
No. 178425
>>178419
>>178422

Chill out you all. There's no reason to start throwing around blame. Luminous does not exactly make things easy. We've made mistakes and we've had successes. Shit happens. I'd love to be able to save everyone, but that's not the way it goes sometimes. It doesn't mean we shouldn't try, but we're not perfect. For the most part everyone seems to be taking this story more seriously. We still haven't tried to seek out a bad end.
Besides, unless I'm missing a post. Rika's not dead yet.
No. 178426
>>178425
>>178424

Sorry, I meant Akyuu, not Rika. I'm still very much hoping for a favorable resolution of this dilemma, and since we 'have' been trying to make a better effort, I also believe that there's still a little hope.
No. 178427
Eh, I don't mind Akyuu dying at all. If everyone unwilling to listen to Lucas dies off, we'll hopefully be able to get more done.

Mostly I regret that she was so obstinate as to make it more likely that others die with her.
No. 178428
>>178427
Dude, those 'people unwilling to listen to Lucas' could very well have the skills necessary to save everyone's ass in a tough situation.

...Her obstinance was a hindrance, I'll give you that. But you knew that already, right?
Plus, that's really not a good enough reason to not care about someone dying.
No. 178430
>>178427

If I understand things correctly, the fact that she was so obstinate was caused by our own actions. Our affection level was low, and so she didn't trust us. Had we taken the steps needed to keep it up, perhaps she wouldn't have been quite as harsh, or quite as unwilling to listen. In fact, wasn't the whole cause of her death due to her not being willing to listen to us? So if she was willing to listen, perhaps that would have been the path in which she would have lived. As such, we can only blame ourselves for her being like that.
No. 178433
>>178428
They could, but they could equally have the personalities to get everyone killed in a tough situation. Like this one, for example, where we are fortunate enough that Akyuu seems to have only gotten herself killed instead of all of us... though that has yet to be confirmed, since things aren't fully resolved.

>>178430
No, the fact that she was so obstinate was the starting state of affairs. We didn't cause it; she is responsible for her own beliefs, prejudices, and actions. Those got her killed, and while it would have been great if we could reduce them, they were in no way our creation or responsibility. Steps were taken to be friendly and peaceful toward all inhabitants of the base and avoid antagonizing them; that's all that can reasonably be expected of anyone. Claiming that someone bears responsibility for failing to be enough of a diplomat and saint to charm their vitriolic detractors into cooperation is absurd.

That's a mostly in character perspective, of course. From a wholly out of character perspective only the GM and players have any agency, so the blame for all events boils down to a weighted split between them. But that's getting too abstract for my tastes.
No. 178434
Am I seriously supposed to feel guilty that she's dead? This xenophobe who got herself killed by starting yet another tirade of insults and accusations against us in the middle of an attack?

Yes, I understand that on a meta level this could have been prevented if we had attempted to patch things up with her. But really, why is the onus on us to prove our trustworthiness to a racist who has physically attacked us on at least two occasions?
No. 178435
>>178434
I agree with this.

I feel no personal guilt over Akyuu's death.
Sure it's bad that she died, both because she didn't deserve it and she could have helped more, but we tried to avoid antagonizing her at every turn. We always tried to reason with her, as did others, but she never let go of her racist paranoia.

We are bound to Marisa and as such are literally incapable of going against her wishes, and Akyuu still thought that we were plotting to seize control of and overthrow her little "no youkai allowed" clubhouse.
That she didn't trust us is understandable, but she could at least have trusted her subordinates.
Even Reimu had accepted us by the time the attack came. That just leaves Akyuu and Harmon basically, and at least he has an excuse being "just" a regular human, so he probably (secretly) fears just about everyone here. Lucas just happens to be okay to antagonize openly.

Sure, the "they're feathers" vote could have gone better (and honestly I don't remember what I voted for, if I did at all. But even if I voted for "they're feathers", I never imagined it to be sarcasm, more like a joke to break the ice. Blame lack of tone over the internet), but even so we usually tried to meet her halfway, and she never reciprocated in kind.

Her paranoia and racism, her death, her responsibility.
Don't try to say that "we killed her" just because we didn't bend over to prove to her that we can be a changeling without being a baby-eating monster.
No. 178437
Fair enough. If you wish to be disingenuous about what Lucas is, (i.e., not of the human race) I can hardly affect your opinions. This side of Akyuu is never intended to be sympathetic. It's not like she has been doing this for centuries. It's never been the case that she has run across other sympathetic changelings. And it's not possible that in the other 9 of her past lives she's never tried to help one, is it? Over half a millennium of death and loss could never leave scars on the soul. There is no indignity in growing up time and time again, striving to reestablish herself and deal with being treated like a child. Of course, she is ignorant of the fact that she is a child and it affects her thoughts; the hormones change her mind, and even she is sometimes slave to the body.

Motivations aren't what matters in the end, is it? Time and experience is not what breeds familiarity, it is well-intentioned words from a stranger. One should always trust the magical voice of a magical creature. Facetious comments when alone are less meaningful than conciliatory words when among others. No one is out to get them, in the end. After all, who would want to kill or enslave them?

Youkai are always good save for when they're bad. They're only capable of blatant evil. They do not like to subvert and steal and lie. They do not manipulate and strive for lesser goals. There is no way that one can be changed and warped. After all, Changelings are just humans with funny-colored hair and feathers. They could never discover ways to subvert orders given by those that bind them. They never would find themselves becoming obsessed or desperate, driven towards a goal and losing sight of all those around them.

What do I know? Akyuu is merely a little bitch on the surface, so that's all there is to her. Just as how Reimu is an overly competent former shrine maiden and Marisa is a perpetually light-hearted laser-shooting witch. What is only skin-deep and readily apparent is all that is valuable. These characters, in the end, don't have their own motivations and dreams and desires. They're merely vehicles for Lucas to accomplish his goals.

So don't worry. It's not as if Akyuu's death will change anything down the line. Youkai aren't the only ones that can lie.
No. 178438
>>178437

You're not being clever or subtle. If you want to call us unempathetic assholes, just do it. I'm sorry we weren't ready to bend over backwards making excuses for Akyuu's behaviour.
No. 178439
>>178438
I do realize I'm not being either by virtue of making that post in the first place. If I wanted to be subtle, I wouldn't have had a small little rant such as that. Cleverness would imply brevity and not heavy-handed examples. I rather disliked seeing a few of those fallacious arguments to begin with.
No. 178440
>>178439
Fine, just answer this question then. If Akyuu really has that much reason to distrust us, if she has had so many bad experiences regarding changelings, spent entire lifetimes being broken and becoming jaded, then why would anything we could possibly have done or said have made any difference about how she felt or acted towards us?

The way you paint it, there's no way she would have ever listened to us no matter what we did, let alone in such a short amount of time. If she has such a good excuse for her attitude as you say she does, it would actually be rather unbelievable if any of our choices would have magically made her more receptive to us after everything she's experienced.
No. 178441
On one hand, we have a group of 'insensitive' readers who believe that "It's all Akyuu's fault she got herself killed. If she simply changed her attitude to a youkai who hasn't done anything harmful yet, we could've worked together and prevented her death." On the other, the writer himself appears to be among those who are saying "We should've done more to have her open up to us. She may have been an asshole, but she has her reasons for being one. It's our fault that we didn't manage to get her to trust us." The main vibe I'm receiving from the former group is that being racist made Akyuu a wholly unsympathetic character, while the latter is trying to argue that we should be morally disgusted with ourselves since she was still a person with her own, human opinions about Lucas.

As both factions have pointed out, it all technically doesn't matter, since Akyuu got what she 'deserved' from refusing to trust Lucas. Some of us wanted to see what else was in Akyuu besides the paranoid, antagonistic child we kept on seeing in her, but the decision was made long ago in a choice all of us failed to think about in a serious conversational perspective.

That being said, I have several things to comment on in terms of storyline events. What would have happened if we simply asked Akyuu for orders? Since she was the de jure leader of the organization in terms of seniority, I think that she might've been able to come up with a plan of sorts. It's just that we were given the impression that Lucas was the person who should give orders, which was a flawed assumption in hindsight. Next, I would like to point out that while some people are quite passionate about their opinions on whether or not Akyuu deserved to get offed like this, we're overlooking the fact that with the way things were going, there was simply no way she would have survived beyond this point. The writer basically intended for Akyuu to die this entire time since we needed to make several specific choices in order to 'save' her. In the end, we're left with one less person to carry out the suggestion that Reimu gave to us. We'll see soon whether or not our failure to save Akyuu will impact the plot in a way we won't like.
No. 178442
>>178437
Really?
So you're basically saying that while there was no direct evidence to support Akyuu's paranoia, and instead all signs actually pointing to the contrary, that Lucas honestly wanted to help... Akyuu was still right all along anyway, because "youkai are always chaotic evil"?

I, for one, never said that "abloo bloo bloo, Akyuu was just a bitch, good riddance" or that Lucas should even be given the same chance as everyone else.
I can't even honestly say that I disliked, or even disagreed with her. Of course she has to look out for her organization, but there comes a point when you no longer have any excuse and are just ignoring what's right in front of you and Akyuu was toeing that line.

All I'm saying is that we tried.
We tried to make nice. We helped people when we could, stayed out of their way when we couldn't.
We weathered her abuse without ever lashing out at her or anyone else.
She physically assaulted us and the only thing we did was to raise our arms to protect ourselves.

We fucking tried.
That alone is infinitely more than she did and that's why, as much as I regret it coming to this, her death is still not on my conscience at least.


>What do I know? Akyuu is merely a little bitch on the surface, so that's all there is to her.
You're honestly acting like a baby.

As >>178438 said: Just man up and call us inconsiderate assholes, if that's what you want.
No. 178443
>>178441
>"akyuu got what she deserved"

...Since when did any of us ever say that? As far as I can see looking back at the posts, most everyone's sentiments seems to be that they regretted her death.
No. 178444
>>178443
"Getting what you deserve" has a certain negative ring to it, but she did, in fact, get what she deserved. Or what was coming to her. Or what her Karma brought. Causality. Or however you want to phrase it.

She was paranoid to the end, and her paranoia blinded her to the real enemy.
Even though her paranoia was justified, that doesn't mean that it wasn't the main reason for the end result.
No. 178448
>>178440
You're correct that it is difficult. The choice on feathers, alone, would not have helped you. It would have instead opened up another dialogue tree that was focused on her.

Basically, it boils down to worth. Akyuu is jaded, angry, and beset by childlike emotional stability. However, she does still have that mind and experiences, so she can make the hard decisions if she manages to calm herself down and start thinking. When things continuously go wrong, it's hard for her to do just that.

After all, Kourin has worth, so even if she doesn't like him there, she deals with it as his value outweighs the danger. Felia has worth, so she deals with her two sisters as effective dead weights and took them in. Merlin, Lunasa, Lyrica, and Harold had worth, so she deals with their eccentricities and Harmon's constant fear. Marisa is useful, if volatile, so Akyuu stands her. Remember that she did lecture her on using her abilities too openly. Rikako was seen as such an asset, that she went out of her way to get her, but took Rika along with. Akyuu disliked Rika, but dealt with it as Rikako was so valuable. And when Rikako became a hinderence, she did not cast the two out. They remained, if only to keep everyone else happy, but also because she does retain some of her honor.

Lucas hadn't proven his worth yet. She knew he had value, certainly, but she was already upset for having a dangerous animal being brought into her home without her permission. Things merely went downhill from there. If taken, the dialogue tree would have devolved into "Why should I keep you here?" Of course, taking this tree would preclude Lucas from taking the other options. Would he still manage to heal Rikako? Would he still have the early notice, or would he only find out right before it happened? I even had a plan for if the decision was made to seek out Mystia. That certainly would preclude anything else from happening. What if you had done this and left the base right before the assault?

Conversely, if the readers decided to remain as Lucas after fixing Rikako, they could have gone up and personally reported to Akyuu. If tread carefully, Lucas could have proven his worth then. Instead, by misspeaking in the default route, they end up in the second fight. Words matter just as much as actions, and how you speak will have quite the impact. After all, she doesn't have time to learn from your actions, but she has enough to learn of words.

In the end, she never would have trusted you, nothing even close. Insistent cries of innocence do nothing to help his case. Engage the shrewder part of her mind and not the emotional heart. Use logic to convince her of what is true, and how you can be useful to her mission. Of course, you'll have to tread carefully and not cajole too much. She'll think that you're attempting to take advantage of her and trick her as others have before. Having Marisa, or Reimu (who she respects a lot, ironically), present would also help your case. Earning her trust would have been a hard long term goal. But you simply needed grudging recognition of your right to exist. That could have been gained.
No. 178449
Seriously, everyone is really going to get up in arms about this. You all are using some pretty harsh language about someone who just died in front of Lucas, and probably could have done a lot to help us. Did we like her, no, and we didn't have a lot of reason to. Did she have her reasons for being the way she was, more then likely. Don't forget that just because we didn't get along with her, it doesn't mean that the people we like didn't care about her. She is their leader after all, and I didn't really see any of them speaking out against her, other then possibly her current maturity level.
We tend to get wrapped up in our own problems and forget this is a pretty harsh world, and we are more then just a changeling.
Are we to blame for her death, I wouldn't go that far. I missed the feathers vote, but I took it as more of a lighthearted joke then a sarcastic remark. In the context of the situation we were in it might not have been the best choice, but we had no way to know it would lead to this.
I don't mourn her, I didn't know her, but I mourn for those characters that will. Even if you don't feel anything about her death, you should mourn the missed opportunity to learn more about this world, the story, and Akyuu herself. From what Luminous is saying, even if he's being a bit harsh, is that we've lost an entire chunk of the story.

Well at least if people are this willing to fight about this, it means they care about the story...
No. 178450
>>178448

So all of this was doomed not to be... because of a joke we made about our feathers?
No. 178451
>>178450

I feel that our decision to let Lucas go on auto-pilot while he went to talk to Akyuu also contributed. I don't think anybody was really thinking at the time, seeing that they were more interested in seeing the world from Marisa's PoV rather than considering the fact we were trusting Luminous to make the decisions for us in terms of gaining Akyuu's trust...

The feather conversation was the beginning of the death flag route. The nail in the coffin was when Lucas went to Akyuu and blundered in the report, since Luminous went out of his way to reward us for thinking that nothing terrible could happen if we let Lucas do his thing with Akyuu.
No. 178452
>>178450
If you want to get down to it, I told myself on that vote that as long as they make the right vote, they'll be fine. But if they choose this vote, Akyuu won't likely make it. I thought it was the easy vote to stay serious on. I supposed wrong, in the end. And I stick with my plans, no matter if I dislike them.

I was a bit too harsh, though. Sorry about that. Just wanted to make my point clear, but I was too aggressive.
No. 178453
>>178451

Oh enough, stop pretending that all of our mistakes were easy to forsee and prevent. Luminous went out of his way to make a difficult story. I'm not blaming him for that, I like the challenge.

But I really wish that then we do make mistakes that people, including Luminous, would stop making thinly veiled jabs at our intelligence. That's the main issue here, I think. Not just that bad things happened in the story, but that we're being insulted for it and being told to feel like monsters.
No. 178454
>>178453

Point taken. As long as we collectively keep plodding through and learn the lessons we have acquired at a cost, then it becomes completely unnecessary for anybody in the peanut gallery to criticize our prior decisions since that does little to advance our cause.

With that said, I apologize for the thinly veiled insults I've been making throughout this time. In the end, this is one of the more enjoyable Touhou CYOAs that make readers want to discuss, plan, and argue about each step the story should take. Insinuating that others are blind for not making decisions that are clear in hindsight is certainly making the environment of this story far more toxic than it should be. To this end, I still insist that every decision we make from this point on is carefully thought over, so that when something unfortunate occurs, people are less inclined to turn around and start blaming one another because our decisions were based on calculated risks that we must accept when made.
No. 178455
>>178454

Alright, I agree that this conversation has gotten rather nasty. Thank you for apologising. let's calm down and focus on the matter at hand.

So, are we going with the votes that have already been cast, or does anyone have any other suggestions?
No. 178456
>>178455
Allow me to chime in and defend the vote, since I came up with it originally. The first part is because I didn't want to just throw Akyuu's body to the ground, but we need to be quick.
I chose to send the sisters because I think it's important to get the people down below evacuated as quickly as we can. I want Rika to go because I don't want her to get got in the crossfire and she's more fragile then we are. I want Rikako because with her magic she can help serve as a last line of defense if we fail or have to retreat.
I went with rip instead of shout, because I'm not sure if it'll affect Rikako or not. I decided to error on the side of caution and wait until she's out of the danger area. I also figure if they're downstairs, even if we can't win, we can hopefully lead our enemy away.

I'm open to other suggestions or modifications though.
No. 178457
>>178455
We only had 24 hours for the vote, 24 hours that have passed already. The vote, as far as I'm aware, has been called.
The only reason there are so many posts recently is because everyone's arguing about Akyuu's death.
Like >>178449 said, if people are arguing this much, it means that peeople give a crap about the characters, even the less-than-friendly ones. And that's a good thing...?
No. 178459
>>178457

Oh, that's right.

Well now I feel like an idiot for wasting everyone's time. Sorry...
No. 178460
>>178452
So basically we're playing Zork here. A choice made several posts ago with no connection to the situation we find ourselves in at the moment screwed us over because we couldn't see into the future.

I don't mind the story being dangerous and challenging, but the fact that what seemed like a small joke during a casual conversation lead to "routelock, BAD END" is a bit much.

There was no way for us to know who was behind us at the point of voting, there was no way to know how that person would react. There was no way for us to know that one of the options would lead to a death flag.
I like the story itself, but I really dislike that. There is no logical connection between cause and effect here, we're stumbling completely blind and are "punished" for something we had no chance of knowing about in the first place.


Well, whatever. This argument won't be leading any further anyway. Let's just move on.

I'm okay with the current vote to send everyone else off to evacuate while Lucas tries to incapacitate or at least hold off this new thread.
No. 178461
If you want to go ahead and edit the vote, you can go ahead. I was being rude earlier, so if there's anything you want to change in light of the conversation, you can go on ahead.
No. 178462
>>178461

Oh. In that case, I want to add something to the vote.

[x] Quickly set down Akyuu's body or if the others anyone is by you pass it off.
[x] Tell the sisters to evacuate the others
[x] Rip into the machine.
[x] If you last long enough for the others to get out of earshot, start using your voice.

If they're not there, they should be safe from our voice.

We might need a back-up plan if they don't listen to us, though.

[x] If they refuse to leave, just try and wrestle with the thing's weapon so that it can't take aim at anyone else and they can try and get behind it. Don't use your voice.
No. 178463
>>178462

>>178422 Changing my vote to this. It allows us to bring more into the fight, while compensating for risks that could still occur even with Akyuu's death.
No. 178464
>>178462

>>178414 here, amending my vote with the additions.
No. 178465
Those changes are fine with me. No update tonight though. The season just ended, and I'm going to commiserate for a while.
No. 178466
>>178390

I'm cool with the additions made by >>178462
No. 178733
Sorry for the wait. Needed to calm down a bit myself, as I was being stupid with my remarks. Again, I am sorry for that.

Everything aside, I will be posting tonight. In the meantime, I have a question to toss out: What would you name an American and Russian lunar territory? (Both located along the Sea of Tranquility)
No. 178739
>>178733

Without the context of the names, I don't think we'd be able to give you a proper response. However, if they are both independent regions with a military presence in them, I would like to imagine that they are 'occupied territories', or special development zones for the American territory at the very least. If the American territories also include facilities for interrogating prisoners and conducting top secret experiments, they would even qualify to be called 'black sites' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_site).

As for the Russian territories, it would directly depend on whether or not they're linked to the American territories. If not, then you can potentially use a Russian geographical landmark and derive a name from there. Unlike the Americans, any Russian organization involved in the lunar territories would be inclined to simply designate the territory with an additional term to clarify what would its purpose be.

Again, these are only suggestions based on the limited information I have. I'm glad that you've finally gotten back to writing, and I hope that these details might prove helpful in your attempt at naming lunar territories.
No. 178740
>>178739
I can give a little more detail. The lunar invasion was a success in this timeline, as the lunarians were already strapped for resources. (Apollo 13 never happened, to say the least). They would certainly be occupied territories, and both of the Earthling gains would be relatively near each other, mostly likely separated by a neutral, militarized border. (Either that or they'd be on opposite sides of the lunar sea) Considering the state of Luna, though, they would essentially be walled cities.

I'm actually lost on names for American bases. I imagine that theirs would be built at or near the location of the original lunar landing. Both locations would be top secret sites, but also would be full-fledged military bases (and they'd have naval support as well. You enter the Lunar capital by following the seas, and after so long, knowledge has gotten out). Both regions also have a small, yet profitable, mining operation. As for the Russian one, I'd have termed it Gagaringrad or Leonovgrad, but I'm unsure about that. I doubt that the names of a base would change due to the fall of the Soviet Union, so that shouldn't be a factor.

Then again, there are plenty of other butterflies that haven't been considered yet. The public doesn't know about the bases, but there has always been talk about annexing the moon and making it the fifty-third state. And Russia seems to have money disappearing constantly into a hole no one can trace. Just trying to flesh out the world.
No. 178741
[-z-] Quickly set down Akyuu's body or if the others anyone is by you pass it off.
[-z-] Tell the sisters to evacuate the others.
[-z-] Rip into the machine.
[-z-] If you last long enough for the others to get out of earshot, start using your voice.
[-z-] If they refuse to leave, just try and wrestle with the thing's weapon so that it can't take aim at anyone else and they can try and get behind it. Don't use your voice.

------------

"Alright, we have to move!" You grab Akyuu's body and look towards the others. "You two need to get out of here now! I'll do what I can to hold it off."

Rika doesn't seem to hear you, as her eyes are locked on Akyuu's unmoving form. She seems to be frozen in place as she attempts to comprehend what just happened. Beside the girl and her machine, Rikako recovers as quickly as she does. "You're not going to survive against an R model VIVIT. We need to get out of here as soon as possible."

"Which is why I'm going to distract her!" You look back and see that she is preparing to fire the weapon. "Down, now!" This time you don't bother to take the chance and you tackle Rikako to the side, hoping that Rika is fortunate enough to not be hit by the shot. The stream of light lances down and just manages to graze the tips of your feathers, and you are fortunate enough to not be more severely injured.

"I'm not asking again, Rikako. I don't need you or your sister dead. Get out of here now. I'll be fine. Just take the others and go!" At that you drop the body and leave it lying upon Rikako before dashing towards the redheaded target. All of this bickering cost Akyuu her life. You need to try and prevent any of the others from succumbing to the same fate.

The robot has the protocol to switch her primary target to you. There's no time to count small blessings as you attempt to dodge the beams of light that she shoots at you. Curiously enough, they are much slower than the bullets that the others were tossing out, but they leave noticeable depressions and scalded remains on the rock walls of the base.

You do your best to dodge all of the shots before sliding down and attempting to sweep the robot's legs on the more. She just looks down and smiles. Your claws meet air, and the robot flips out of the way before you can even get close. Her cannon levels and she sprays your immediate vicinity once more.

Invectives silently slip past your lips as you roll around, trying to claw your way back to your feet before you are shot again. In the process you roll over the dead body that slumped and fell down the hole before the robot appeared. It takes you one glance to recognize the red and white the girl is wearing. "…Dammit." There's still no time to even think about things as you once again fling yourself to the side and try to avoid the brilliant fire from the automaton.

"Such activity is pointless. I hope you are aware of this." The robot's smile still lingers on her lips, but the mirth doesn't carry over well with her glass eyes. "There are more than I. We are all disposable. An army awaits you, should you manage to disable me as you have the others."

"…Really? I don't have time for—" You throw yourself to the side as you avoid another volley of shots and try to catch your breath at the same time. "Right, that's it. No talking." Clamping your mouth shut, you spread your wings wide and do your best to fly straight at her while avoiding the cannon.

Where the other machines were inefficient, this one is competent. The robot easily manages to train a bull’s-eye and fires, and it's only the speed of the projectiles, or lack thereof, that allows you to avoid the majority. A few beams of light manage to glance off of your sides and score your skin. Your clothes are starting to look as tattered as you feel.

During all of this, the robot still keeps her eyes locked on you. "You are not one of our targets. Merely incidental. No one will miss you, you are aware. There will be none that search and wonder where you have gone. I don't need to make you disappear. I just need to delete the ghosts that remain in the human system."

A few cutting remarks come to mind, but you remain quiet and keep circling her, looking for an opening. As you run and dodge all that you can, you check and see if the girls have disappeared. To your eternal dismay, Rika seems to have remained, and the twin jets of Rikako's pack burn in the distance as she heads toward the staircase.

It isn't clear if she saw you checking on her or if you simply moved out of the way and presented and opening, but she begins to fire once more, flinging large shells downrange and into the side of the robot. Unlike the others, this one is not obliterated, but is instead staggered. After the first few shots, her skin appears oddly bruised, but the hybrid thing is still intact.

That's enough of an opening for you. Calling on your base instincts, you lash out once more at the machine, latching onto its arms and forcing the cannon away from yourself or Rika. Pistons push back against flesh and wood, and you are forced to yield far too easily. Claws flash as you try to bury your hands into the automaton's vulnerable innards just like the others, but its exoskeleton is too strong for you to find easy purchase. Instead, you have to push and rip for every inch.

There's not enough time to get a good grip. You almost consider biting the machine, but you shove that thought down back into the depths of your mind. You're not that type of creature. You're not beast. You can be better than that, so still you fight and try to beat the machine. Instead of simply allowing you to have your way, its arm rotates at the shoulder far enough for her to reach your wing, and she slings you over and away from her.

Bone cracks, and you yell out loud as your left wing is snapped in half from the sheer force of the grip. You can't react fast enough to catch yourself, and you end up sprawled out on the ground next to Reimu's body.

Rika does not take it well, and you can almost hear her angry scream through inches of metal as she starts firing again the moment that you are clear. This time, though, she does not let up after a short burst, and her finger remains on the trigger as she empties every round she can into the creature. Once again it is knocked back, and the fire is enough to knock it into the ground and into the pile of rubble.

Just for good measure, a few larger rounds are fired into the rubble, and the explosions shake the hallway. A few pieces of rock and dirt end up bouncing off of your scalp, but the muted stings are nothing compared to the sheer agony that you felt when your wing was broken. You have to take a few deep breaths before you can even manage to get back onto your hands and knees, and every unconscious twitch of your wing manages to send even more pain surging through your body.

"…Get her out." You are not so distracted to be deaf to a voice being whispered a few feet from you. You snap your head up and look toward its source, and see Reimu looking at you. By all rights, she should be dead, as her spine is snapped in two and her body is folded upon itself like a book. "Get… her out. Please."

"…How…" Gulping, you just nod as you glance back up at the rubble. The robot still has not risen. "Alright. I trust you. Just tell me why."

"I don't want her to see me…" She grimaces as she tries to force her body back down into a merely implausible position. "And if I have to call her here… I don't want her to be around."

[ ] Tell Rika to go and look for Marisa. You'll cover her.
[ ] Run off with Rika to find her. Leave Reimu until she recovers.
[ ] Ignore Reimu and fight on until she has recovered. Her pride isn't worth that.
[ ] Write-in Option
No. 178757
Hmm.. I torn between option 1 and 2.
Only thing I can say right away is that 3 is right out because this is not a matter of "pride", it's about Reimu technically being a bigger security risk than Lucas.

I'll think about it some more and see if anyone has any good ideas before voting.
No. 178761
I'd prefer to go and find Marisa together with Rika. But I think she'd refuse to leave, again. If we end up voting to try it anyway, we'll need a back up vote in case she refuses.

On the other hand, if Reimu ends up fighting alone, she's probably going to have to summon her master. Which we will probably want to avoid.
No. 178816
[X] Run off with Rika to find her. Leave Reimu until she recovers.

Rika will probably refuse to listen to us if Lucas tries to order her around and blatantly endanger himself in her eyes. Since Rikako and the others are basically out of the picture, we need to concentrate on finding Marisa and making our next moves from there. Sure, Reimu may be forced to call on her master if she's all alone, but she may be forced to do so anyways despite our best efforts. The Technocracy has more resources to throw at us than we can destroy at this point, so all we can do is run and try to make a new plan as we go.
No. 178818
>>178816

I suppose so.

[X] Run off with Rika to find her. Leave Reimu until she recovers.

If she wants to keep fighting it, though, I've no clue how to stop her.
No. 178819
[x] Run off with Rika to find her. Leave Reimu to recover.

If I could be sure she would listen, I'd send just Rika, but I think the only way she'll leave is if we go with her. I hate leaving Reimu by herself though.
No. 178826
>>178819
Going with this vote, and not just because Rika wouldn't let us stick around solo.
We've only got so much stamina to go around, and we don't know how long we can last against this opponent.
No. 178839
[X] Run off with Rika to find her. Leave Reimu until she recovers.
No. 178844
Well, I'm going to be working on Borders tonight, so an update will probably come tomorrow. I'll just remind everyone that a z-vote is available now, and I'm still working a bit on worldly changes. Most stemming from the repercussions of lunar occupation and the linguistic decisions that would result in Japanese people commonly speaking English.
No. 178848
>>178844
Could Japan have been occupied much longer by the US in this timeline, like in Fallout Gensokyo?
No. 178852
>>178848
Already figured that part out. Going with an altered Meiji Restoration, which could be influenced by the greater prevalence and threat of youkai and other supernatural creatures. (I do believe that the heads of states among others would be aware of this) As such, to bring Japan inline with western standards and compete with them directly, he changes the national language to English and switches the national language to Christianity. (the latter nearly happened, as many advisors had converted. Instead, they made Shinto the state religion and created the God-Emperor)

Butterflies will be fun, though. Germany sundered, 2nd Polish Republic borders, independent Silesia, Japanese Sakhalin and Kurils. That's just what I have on the top of my head. The Raj would end up different than before. (More/different independent princely states?) Britain and the US more antagonistic (not much, but occupation of former German Samoa that was sold to the US to pay for war support at start of WW1 equivalent) I'm just thinking of a few other things, but be happy to toss out some ideas or tell me if it's ridiculous. I do have some ideas in mind and some set in stone.

But, yes, update tomorrow. Just some idle thoughts on what is otherwise superfluous backstory. (This really won't have much of an affect. I just find this sort of world building interesting)
No. 178872
[-a+1-] Run off with Rika to find her. Leave Reimu until she recovers.

------------

Nothing more needs to be said. That machine is probably still active, and you don't want to say anything that could even possibly be overheard. Instead, you just nod to her and kneel halfway down, patting her once on her shoulder. Aside from the singular gesture, you do nothing else as you stand back up and head back towards Rika. You force yourself to run even though you are favoring your broken wing the entire time.

The girl looks a little confused as you hobble up to her as quickly as you can manage. She peeks back down the range at the target, but it still has not emerged from the rubble. "Lucas, what are you doing up? You're injured. Stop moving, I'll take care of her. She should be too injured to keep fighting! We can take her down!"

"She won't be. The robot seemed too… too carefree. She didn't believe she could be hurt. And if she did, there would be more coming." At that, you wince and grit your teeth. You've become too used to making small adjustments with your wings, and with every twitch you feel the pain. "But come on, we need to get out of here. We have to find Marisa and leave."

"But we can get her! And what's to stop her from coming after us? You're injured, can you even walk?" She blinks and starts fiddling with her hatch. "Just give me a second. I can come and help you…" She grabs onto the top hatch and unseals it, pushing it up into the air before trying to climb out.

Groaning, you force yourself to jump up and onto the tank before slamming the top down shut. You ignore the burning on your hand and just look through her viewport. "We need to go, Rika. Now. Reimu will take care of her. Let's just go before something worse happens." You hear a click as you continue to stare her down, hoping that the message gets across.

Rika leans back in her seat, her eyes widened still as the grave once again. It's just then you realize that your teeth are bared and you just snapped your teeth at her. "R-right… Sorry. I'll go." She begins to turn the machine around, but she pauses about halfway through. "Wait. Where is—"

Light explodes from the side of her vehicle, and a few more lasers slam into it as well. The machine nearly stumbles over on its side, but with its wide and clunky feet, it manages to stay upright. The panel that was blasted fares poorly, though, and it is glowing red and molten. At least, the parts that weren't vaporized outright are melting. Rika yells in surprise, and you just shout at her in response. "Go! Move it! We need to get out of here, now." The girl just screams a bit more and tries to get away from the metal. "Move it! N̛͡o͢͢w͏͞!"

The girl finally responds to your please and slams the controls forward, and the machine ambles off at a brisk pace. You don't even notice your slip of tongue, as you're too busy looking back and seeing if you need to cover your girl. The robot is infringing too much upon you, and you want to do something about it.

The mechanical demon is staring down at you once more, and the smirk is gone for once. She seems to be coolly watching Rika flee for a few seconds, and is standing stock-still with her smoking cannon extended straight out. Her eyes shift to you and she smiles, and you know in an instant she's going to fire.

Even as your muscles bend and metal groans and shrieks against metal, you know that nothing you can do will stop the first few shots. A white flash blinds your eyes before your lips can part, and the next thing you know you're seeing hateful symbols expanding towards you. A primal fear begins to rise in your gut at the sight of the thing, and you're torn between running and bellowing at it.

Your saner mind prevails and you turn away from it and run after Rika. A saner mind would realize that something horrible might be happening scant feet from you, but in your current injured state you're more concerned about how far you can run before you have to turn and fight. You hardly even notice what is happening as you run after the girl.

Still, there is something that you need to do. You have to find Marisa. She will hopefully have the best way out of here. If not… Well, you hope there will either be a tunnel you can get out, or you'll have to carve your own way out. Whether your claws would rend rock or robot remains to be seen. Your vision is a blur as you overtake the walking tank and bust down door after door.

Curiously enough, you barely even feel the pain right now. Every breath that you manage to take is heavy and quick, and you can't quite get enough air in your lungs to keep up with your exertions. Your wing is starting to feel numb, along with your shoulder. The multitude of cuts and bruises you have taken are so many that you can't even feel them anymore.

During your search, you feel the very earth rattle and shake, and in the corner of your mind you hope the volcano isn't set off. You haven't seen Rikako or Akyuu's body this whole time, so you have to assume that they managed to flee without much more trouble. There's no time to go and look for the elder sister, so you put it out of mind and ignore the brilliant light that is shining from the main arterial corridor. It is so bright, brighter than the sun at its most brilliant. And you dare not look at its source.

It takes a few minutes, but with one last heave you splinter the last door on this side passage, and you find someone standing in the middle of the room. A familiar blonde with a witch's hat is knelt down and facing away from you. You see one of her fingers tracing a line into the ground, and golden sparks trail behind it, leaving a deep yellow glow in the field.

"All in the name of… What is Marisa doing?" Rika has been following you this whole time, however long it has been. She hasn't said a word since, and her voice is timid. All the confidence from earlier seems to have vanished. "Lucas… What's wrong with her? What has she…"

Disbelief is a sentiment that you easily share with her. The entire room seems to be glowing with lunatic runic symbols of pure gold. Even though they are alien to your eyes, at the same time you can't help but to recognize them. The longer you stare, the more you seem them rise from their places on the walls and on the floor and the ceiling and her hair and her skin and see what lies beneath.

"…Damnation. Marisa!" Your vision snaps back to normal, and you run up towards Marisa, intent on breaking her out of whatever is going on here. The pain is immediately apparent, but you give it no heed as you reach out and grab her arm. "Marisa, look at me! Snap out of this!"

The girl doesn't move, but she doesn't resist as you restrain her arms. Instead of waiting for her to turn, you spin her around and look her in the eyes. Or at least you think they are. Instead you see solid gold light in her sockets as rivers of blood pour out of her eyes and nose. "…No… Marisa! Snap out of it! Wake up, now! What happened here?"

You are sure that Rika is freaking out at the sight of her friend being injured so badly, but you can't even think about that right now. Instead, you shake the girl, shout in her face… Anything to make her break out of her trance. Nothing seems to work. Just as you about to give up on this and spin your gears and drum, the girl speaks softly. "Do you want to go?"

[ ] Yes.
[ ] No.
No. 178874
That's a really vague question and she could be referring to a couple of things, but she more than likely means going to gensokyo. Leaving right this second would mean abandoning people who need help urgently.

[x] No.
No. 178875
>>178874

I agree that what Marisa proposed was extremely vague, but I would like to point out that we aren't exactly in any position to help the others either. In fact, if Reimu is correct, we'll soon have her master bearing down on us soon. When that happens, there will be little chance that we can even help the others in that circumstance.

We're clearly walking straight into the web of a youkai's ploy. However, I personally feel that Reimu was telling the truth, and that we should let Marisa take us where she will in order to go 'across the hedge'. To do otherwise will inevitably expose ourselves to Reimu's master, and I doubt we'd be in a position to help the others when that happens.
No. 178888
Even though I believe that Lucas must go to Gensokyo regardless of what will hapen, I must give my honest opinion in the following vote.

[X] No.

Who in their right minds would want to return to the place where he was enslaved and experienced traumatic memories in the form of mind-wrenching horrors and deaths of his closest friends? I know that this isn't exactly what Marisa is talking about, but it's true.

Of course, this decision will probably result in undesirable consequences such as Reimu's master catching up to us or getting somebody else killed by our actions, but I can barely see anything which indicates that one decision or the other is the right choice to take. Maybe later when we get screwed over by this decision will we look back and think 'we should've taken the other path', but I will stand by this vote because it is the truest one to our feelings.
No. 178892
[X] Yes.

First of all, why did you guys seek out a way out if you don't want a way out? That seems pretty backwards. Secondly, Yukari is coming. We do not want to be here when she gets here. I can smell the bad end from here! There comes a time when a man is unable to save everyone. This feels like one of those times. We have to drop what we are doing and go. If that means leaving behind Rikako and Akyuu's corpse, so be it. Rikako is the only one of true import being left behind from a combat perspective, so we won't exactly be hugely crippled by this happening. Layla is already MIA so we aren't abandoning the cute little girl to her fate. The only negative I see is that they will get Felia, and that Rika will lose her sister. Heck, who knows, maybe Yukari will decimate the enemy, and everyone will still be safe. Or maybe she'll ensnare them in her plot. Who knows. We may get everyone killed if we try to save everyone. Or maybe this is the only chance we will have to cross over, which may also be our doom if we say no.
No. 178894
[X] No.

Tough choice, with quite a few things to consider, but I'll go with No.
Lucas does want to return to Gensokyo to help his remaining friends, but doing so right now will likely doom Rika and Marisa. In my opinion, it's best to evacuate them right now, while Reimu is busy fighting.
No. 178895
>>178894

...I think that the question is intended to bring Rika and Marisa with him. After all, Marisa was preparing an escape route for all of them, right?
No. 178896
>>178895
Marisa's not exactly herself right now, so whether her spell transports Lucas, everyone around, or does something else entirely is anyone's guess.
No. 178898
>>178888
Changing my vote to [X]Ask Rika if she's willing to follow you to the bitter end. This may be the last opportunity for her to back out.
[X]If she refuses, try to make arrangements for her to escape, but remind her that the base is practically occupied by the enemy. If she insists, let her go her own separate way.
-[X]Yes.

>>178892
I am fully aware that 'yes' may lead to our doom. However, saying 'no' right now could very well result in a more favorable outcome, since we already know that we're being manipulated by yet another youkai. Before we take any further action though, we ought to consider what Rika feels about all this, since we've been quite preoccupied with what Lucas should do. After all, she's another person who probably has very mixed feelings about being dragged into magical rituals of very suspicious origin. That being said, we need to confirm that she's willing to follow through with whatever Marisa's doing. To do otherwise would be quite a low action to one of the other few people who has been willing to exhibit trust towards us.
No. 178902
Votes at 2 for no, 1 for yes unconditionally, and 1 for yes conditionally. We'll need a tiebreaker either way. No writing tonight, though, so there is time left.
No. 178903
Well, here we are, potentially having another 'can't decide' vote happen at the worst possible time. Are we really going to just ignore Reimu's advice? Just what were you all expecting to happen when you got here? Don't you think that stalling this might be bad for Marisa's health? She's currently bleeding from the eyes to keep this up! I can't imagine how much more injured she will be if we stall. We need to go now, before Yukari comes. Your unwillingness to leave will be our undoing at this rate.
No. 178904
>>178903
[x] No.

[X]Ask Rika if she's willing to follow you to the bitter end. This may be the last opportunity for her to back out.
[X]If she refuses, try to make arrangements for her to escape, but remind her that the base is practically occupied by the enemy. If she insists, let her go her own separate way.
-[X]Yes.
No. 178905
[X]Ask Rika if she's willing to follow you to the bitter end. This may be the last opportunity for her to back out.
[X]If she refuses, try to make arrangements for her to escape, but remind her that the base is practically occupied by the enemy. If she insists, let her go her own separate way.
-[X]Yes.
No. 178906
[X]Ask Rika if she's willing to follow you to the bitter end. This may be the last opportunity for her to back out.
[X]If she refuses, try to make arrangements for her to escape, but remind her that the base is practically occupied by the enemy. If she insists, let her go her own separate way.
-[X]Yes.
No. 178907
>>178903

Yes, yes. We're all horrible monsters who aren't taking this seriously enough. How dare we spend time discussing how we should respond to such a vague question. Obviously we don't give a rats ass.
No. 178922
>>178907

Thank you for realizing this for me~
No. 178924
That's an unusually odd explosion of similar votes at the end, but with one of the nays rescinding their original vote, there's little case for anything else. Calling it.

>>178922
Whoever this is, stop it right now. We just got through one shitstorm. There's no need to start up another with petty insults.

On a better note, I'll leave you an image to digest.
No. 178932
>>178930