"So that guy in the mushroom, do you know where he landed?" You ask. She nods, "I think he dropped somewhere in the forest by the human village, why?" "I think I know who he is." "It was you, we all know that by now." Youmu answers before anybody has time to think. "I believe we should concentrate further on the dragon. I'd rather we didn't spend too much time playing around." "What's the rush?" Aya leans around you to face Youmu. "I've my duties as gardener to attend to. I've already been gone a week, and I can't afford to be out much longer." You turn to face her. "First I've heard of it. I didn't think you had any problem with it." "I don't, although I'd not expected we'd have to wait around for a sleeping dragon. I believe we should determine the season in which it will make it's appearance and wait for it." Marisa interrupts the conversation. "Err, hey, I don't think that's a good idea." "Why not?" Youmu turns her attention to the other end of the table. "If it wakes up on it's own, it'll be hungry. You know what your master's like when she's hungry, right?" "I do. What of it? I don't see how this is related." Youmu crosses her arms, impatiently. "Dragons don't bother with social graces like patience and manners. It'll eat whatever living beings it sees until it's satisfied, and then return to sleep. Yukari probably wants you to find it before that happens." "So we've no choice but to find where it's hiding? How do we do that?" "Simple. Well, mostly simple. You've gotta find out first the direction it was headed. It's straight-forward from there. If it flew through the Border, it's probably gone to some other world." Marisa pulls a book off the floor and opens it on the table. "We heard it went off towards the lake. It should be fairly straight-forward from there." You lean forward, trying to read what's inside the book. "The lake, eh? There's a lot of youkai living around there, so one of 'em's gotta know where it is. Just don't get eaten while you're asking!" She laughs to herself as she flips through the book's pages. "Ah, right here. Says you should look for caves or places you can hide something big. They don't burrow into the ground like moles, so you should look for any large hole in the ground. It could be hiding in the lake, too, if it has gills." "So is there anything else you can tell us?" You look towards Marisa. "Not really. Don't wake it up if you find it." She scratches her forehead. "Well there is this one woman... Ehh, I don't really know her. Heard she can talk to dragons and whatnot. She's always flying around over the clouds, so I doubt you'll see her." She stands up, "Well, that's about it. Feel free to have a look around. I've got stuff to do. Just don't take anything, 'kay?" She waves to the three of you and walks out the door, leaving you inside her house. "Friendly kid, huh?" You shrug. "Let's have a look at that book, shall we?" Youmu walks over to the book on the table. "Hmm... Three eggs, one tablespoon sugar.. Hey! This is a cookbook!" You laughs as Youmu's expression turns to anger. "Come on, we're leaving." Youmu storms out of the house. You turn to Aya, who's been silent most of the time. "So does that mean she was lying?" Aya shrugs, "Who knows. She does know quite a bit about magical beasts, though. Maybe we should try the library later?" "Sounds like a safe bet." You walk through the door with Aya close behind. You notice Youmu's already started down the path. You run to catch up with her. "I can't believe that girl! She tricked us!" "Maybe. I think we should find a more credible source before we go digging for dragons." You shake your head. "Like I said, why not try the library?" Aya jumps back onto your pack as you follow Youmu back into the forest. Youmu ignores Aya's advice and continues to storm down the path. Further down, you stumble onto another house. This one's smaller than Marisa's, and appears to be better maintained. Youmu stops in front of it, looking down the path. "We should keep going. There's nothing of use here." "Why'd you stop, then? I don' think it'll hurt to check it out." You look around the house. It's made entirely out of wood, with a single door and window on the front side. "If you think it may be useful, I suppose we could. I tend to get impatient around that witch girl." Her expression softens, hints of her frustration continue to show. You think to yourself. Maybe Youmu's more put off by the mess in the house than Marisa herself..
You turn to Youmu. "Who lives here?" "Nobody important. At least we don't need to worry about being attacked." "So we can just walk up and knock?" Aya jumps back down and heads for the door as she speaks. "Guess I'll follow her lead." You walk behind Aya as she heads for the front door. Youmu reluctantly follows behind you. Aya knocks on the door. You hear movement coming from the house and the door opens. A young woman sticks her blonde head through the crack. "Yes, what can I do for- Geh!" Her face turns sour. "What is it this time, Tengu?" Aya stands there, smiling. You lean over to her. "You've really built up a reputation here, haven't you?" She laughs uneasily. The girl turns her attention to you and Youmu. "You two are welcome to come in." She glares back at Aya. "You can stay out here and rot." She opens the door as you and Youmu walk through. You hand the face paint off to Aya before the girl slams the door in her face. She turns to face the two of you. "You came at a good time. I've one guest already, and tea will be ready momentarily." She motions to a small table in the corner of the room. "Please, have a seat." You sit next to Youmu, and the girl disappears into another room. You can hear her talking to somebody. You ignore it for now and look around. The house looks absolutely normal. Across the room is a small bookshelf, a fireplace is built into the wall next to you, and the wooden floor has been covered by a large rug. You look through the window. Outside, you can see Aya applying the face paint. She doesn't seem to notice you. You watch as she puts the kit away and flies onto the roof. "Looks like she'll get in anyway." You mumble to yourself, looking at the small fireplace. You can hear her trying to force her way into the chimney. Soot drops into the fireplace from above. The girl walks back into the room. "It'll be a little while longer." She sits across from you. "Tell me, what brings you out this far into the forest?" "I'm investigating the appearance of a dragon." You feel like you've been through this earlier. "Know anything?" "A dragon? No, I'm afraid not. I've a friend who might know a little bit. She lives just down the path." She points in the direction you came. "We've met." You hold a hand to your face. "She was reading to us about a dragon's lifestyle from a cookbook." "A cookbook, you say?" She smiles, covering her mouth with one hand. She seems to be thinking about something. "Indeed. It was a waste of time." Youmu adds, impatiently. Suddenly, a puff of black smoke erupts from the chimney, spillign ashes out into the room. The three of you stand in unison and step back. You can hear Aya coughing and laughing from behind the plume of smoke. The girl's expression turns to anger. "Ahh! My clean house! What have you done!" I should've killed you when I saw you!" She runs into the smoke and pulls a dazed and blackened Aya from the chimney by her shirt. "That's it! You're dead!" The girl holds a hand up, and a ball of glowing white light appears in her palm. She holds Aya's collar in the other hand. Aya, pulled to her knees by the rage-filled girl, smiles uneasily. "Hey, hey! Aren't you going a little too far?" "Just DIE!" The enraged girl drags Aya to the front door and tosses her back outside, throwing the ball of light after her. You turn to Youmu, confused. She's standing there, laughing and pointing at the scene. You rush to the door, worried about Aya. Looking out, you see a small charred area on the path, and a smoking yet otherwise unhurt Aya lays sprawled out comically in the middle of it. The girl turns around, slamming the door again. Her expression instantly turns to a delighted smile as if nothing happened. "Is black tea okay with you?"
"Uhh, yes, black tea's fine." You look out the window to see Aya dusting herself off. "Alright, I'll be back momentarily." The girl walks back into the other room while you stare out the window. You watch Aya as she stands up and sits by the door, waiting for you and Youmu to leave. "We probably shouldn't stay too long." You turn to Youmu, who's only just beginning to suppress her laughter. She becomes serious as soon as you address her. "Yes, you're right. I'd rather not stay if she doesn't know anything." You sit back down in the now ash-covered seat, dusting it off as best you can. You hear the door to the other room open. The woman from earlier walks out. Her eyes widen as she turns to face you. "You again? Are you following me, by any change?" She walks over to the table, smiling. She doesn't seem to pay any mind to the mess around her. "Coincidence, I'd say. We're trying to gather information about some dragon that flew in a little over a week ago." You face the woman as she dusts off another chair and sits down. "A dragon, you say?" She looks around the room. "More importantly, what is this mess?" "An unwanted guest did it, mother." The blonde-haired girl walks out of the other room, carrying four small cups on a plate. "I'm afraid I had to be a bit forceful." The woman at the table laughs. "I heard it all. Really, you should try to be more welcoming." The girl sets the plate on the ash-covered table, taking a seat next to the woman in red. "No way. I'll never forgive her!" "Now, now. We've other guests. Let's try to be polite, shall we?" She turns to face you. "Now that I think of it, we're not properly introduced, now are we?" You wonder if everyone's going to introduce themselves like this. "My name is Shinki. This fine young woman over here is my daughter, Alice." Alice bows in her seat. "How do you do." You nod, "I'm Snake, this is Youmu. The depressed Tengu waiting outside is Aya." You point to Aya, who's staring in through the window malevolently at Alice. "Snake, you say?" Alice says, taking a cup from the table and bringing it to her lips. "Certainly not your real name, is it?" "It's not, but it's the one I'm using during my mission." "You said something about a dragon, did you not?" Shinki turns to face you. "I've seen the one you mentioned. Quite a large specimen, if I may say." Youmu's expression brightens. "Finally, a real lead! Where'd it land? Where can we find it?" "Let's not rush into things." She takes a sip from her cup. "A dragon that size won't be hard to find, if you know where to look. I'm familiar with the creatures, so I may be able to help you." "Familiar, you say?" Youmu looks at her quizzically. "A dragon hasn't appeared in Gensokyo for centuries." "In this world, no." She smiles. "They're commonplace in the Demon Realm right now. I wouldn't be surprised if the one you're after came from that world." Youmu becomes even more confused. "Demon realm? But that place has been..." "Sealed off? Yes, it has." Shinki places her now empty cup on the table. "I don't believe we've met before, so if you'll allow me to explain.." "Please, do." Youmu responds, curious. "To make it as simple as possible, I created that world, and everything in it. As such, I'm able to pass freely between worlds." Youmu's jaw drops in awe, you can feel your own mouth widen, too. "I suppose you could say I'm the God of the Demon Realm, although the dragons are a fairly recent addition. Even with my power, I'm unable to create something as powerful as a dragon."
"God of the Demon Realm?" You turn your head to the side. "When I trained for Special Operations, they told me I'd eventually stare the devil in the eyes. This wasn't quite how I'd imagined it." Shinki laughs, "I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm the 'devil'. Although the world I created is full of demons of all kinds, it exists as a completely separate world from Hell. The locals decided on their own to name the cities and structures after buildings from the human's depiction of Hell, and even to call themselves demons." "So it's really not like hell at all?" You ask. "Who in their right mind would create a world in that image? With all the fire and lava as depicted in religious texts, it'd be too hot for anything other than fire elementals. No, my Demon Realm is completely unlike anything that resembles Hell." She reaches into her pockets, pulling out a few pictures and handing them to you. "This is what my world looks like." Investigating the pictures, the scenery appears to be that of an average cityscape. Stone buildings and cobblestone paved roads. It looks to you like something from the early 1930's. A large domed structure dominates the horizon in the middle. "Looks normal enough to me." You pass it to Youmu. "Isn't it? It's a little old fashioned, but it's a quiet place. Well, mostly quiet." Alice adds to the conversation. "Every so often an angry youkai or red-white priestess will come into the world and cause trouble." "That was years ago, Alice. You shouldn't hold on to stuff like that." Shinki waves a hand at her, gesturing for her to settle down. "Anyways, we should probably help them with their problems rather than bother them with our own. About that dragon you mentioned earlier." Youmu leans over the table, returning the picture as she speaks. "Do you know something about it?" "Plenty. I'd expect it would be hiding in the lake." "The lake? Why there?" You scratch the stubble growing from your chin. "It was a lake dragon, of course." She smiles, speaking as if everyone would know about it. Youmu sits back down into the chair. "So what would a lake dragon be doing flying around? Shouldn't it swim or something?" Shinki shakes a finger at Youmu. "It's still a dragon. Dragons all look like lizards with wings, even if their natural element may differ. What has me concerned is..." "What's that?" You drop the hand on your face to your side. "The dragon won't cause trouble while it's sleeping, but..." She pauses for a second. "There was something else that happened not too much later. I could guess just by looking that you're an outsider, so you're probably related to it. Another large object flew over the skies not long after the village was evacuated." "What was it?" Youmu leans forward again, eager to hear more. "A device from the outside world. A large metal bird, or so it appeared. It flew in through this side of the border, and headed towards the mountain." You recognize it immediately as an airplane. You worry it could be the same one you jumped from. You stand up, rushing to find answers. "What happened to it? Where did it land?" "I figured you knew about it. What I found strange wasn't necessarily the fact that it appeared, but the fact that it just as soon disappeared. It flew over the mountain and out the other side of the Border." You continue to question her. "Was it trailing smoke? Did it drop anything? Could you read what was on the side of it?" "No, I can assure you it appeared to be unhurt. I don't believe it left anything behind, and if flew past too quickly for me to examine it thoroughly." "Wait, wait." Youmu stands, as well. "If something like that flew through this world, than I'm certain others would know about it. The Gods on the mountain didn't mention anything of the sort. Do you know why this is?" "I do." She motions for the two of you to sit down. You obey as he continues. "It was flying above the clouds. At the time I was speaking with the dragon's envoy inquiring about the past day's events when it flew directly over us." She laughs. "It was incredibly surprising." "So if it didn't do anything other than pass through, why would this be concerning?" Youmu finishes her tea, placing the cup on the table. "If it wasn't Yukari's doing..." She begins. Your concentration is broken by a crackling in your ear. *Didn't do it, I know nothing about it.* You interrupt Shinki, placing a hand over your ear. "She says she didn't have anything to do with it." Shinki's expression turns to surprise. "Oh. I suppose that settles it, then. I'd like to inquire about your sudden knowledge of that later, but I digress. I believe that this event could signal the weakening of the Hakurei Border."
>>41993 The description, tailflash, body ID, engine type, engine placement, size, and color of the plane can tell you what bomber, from what era, what type, and what year.
Say, it could be the Enola Gay, or a B-52H, or even a Tupolev, assuming it was a bomber. Hell, it could be a passenger plane from the description there. Fact is, it could be anything that can be described as large, so i'm trying to see if I can get more info on the plane.
>>41980 I was confused as to what was going on, until I realized there were references to "the girl" and "the woman". This helped a little, and made me realize there were 2 people being talked about, but then I couldn't figure out who it could be. And then I saw "the woman in red", and suddenly, BRICKS. (and then her name was mentioned specifically a few lines down, which were out of sight when I had that revelation.) I think you're the first writefag to include Shinki, Snake?. Excellent work!
[X] Ask if there was possibly anyone who could describe it, and it's tailflash or body ID
The dragon's emissary definitely saw it. We probably have to meet the dragon to find her.
>Shinki's expression turns to surprise. "Oh. I suppose that settles it, then. I'd like to inquire about your sudden knowledge of that later, but I digress. I believe that this event could signal the weakening of the Hakurei Border."
[X] Ask what that would mean.
[X] Ask Yukari if she concurs with this assessment.
[X] Tell Shinki that we're communicating with Yukari through a device in our ear, and ask if she has anything she wants to say to her specifically.
[X] Ask Yukari if she has new orders for us, or if we are to proceed as planned.
>>41994 I really don't think it's the Enola Gay, since: 1) EG returned from its mission successfully. 2) This can't even be a "lol, parallel universe" sort of deal where we didn't nuke Japan, seeing as how it was made very clear earlier that the Allies won World War II. That in turn would mean the nukes were dropped successfully by the EG.
Anyone considered it might be something from the Bermuda Triangle?
"Sounds serious. What does it mean?" You ask. "Truthfully, I've never seen a barrier of that size weaken to the point where it collapses." She shrugs, "I couldn't honestly say that I know." "Could it's destruction destroy Gensokyo?" Youmu asks, her tone seems too lighthearted considering her question. "It might. It's also possible that our world could just blink back into existence in the outside world." "That might be troublesome." Alice interjects. "A land mass of this size that's been shut out from that world for so long suddenly returning could be catastrophic." "I never said it will happen. It's merely a possibility." Shinki wags a finger in Alice's face. "Rather than concerning ourselves with what-ifs, it would be prudent to notify those who can do something about it." She looks back over to you. "About what I said earlier?" You point to your ear. "I've got something in my ear that lets me communicate with Yukari remotely." "It would seem that it also allows her to listen in on our conversations, and judging by our current situation..." *Uh oh.* You hear Yukari's voice in your ear. "Huh?" You look around the room. Shinki stands up as she speaks, walks over to the front door, and waves Aya inside. "Hey, thanks!" Aya floats over to the table. "It's hot out there." "Don't let her in, mother!" Alice stands up, frustrated. "It's fine. It's fine. We may need all the help we can get." "Help? What's going on? Hey, Snake! What's happening?" Aya suddenly looks very confused. "I'll explain later. First and foremost, we've an unwelcome guest." Shinki looks around the room, searching for something. "Damn right we do!" Alice glares at Aya, who smiles apologetically in return. Shinki walks over to a bookcase against the far wall and picks up a small object, immediately tossing it at the wall behind you. "Ow!" The wall cries out in pain as the rock hits it. "Huh?" You turn around and look in the direction the rock hit. Aya floats up beside you, following your line of sight. In the corner where the walls meet the ceiling, you see a small black spot much darker than the soot and ash surrounding it. Aya reaches up to poke it. Before her finger touches it, the spot widens into a hole large enough for a person's head to fit through. "Oh, great." Alice moans, putting a hand to her face as she shakes her head. "Alright, you caught me, now why don't we all j-" Yukari's head comes forward out of the gap, and her eye moves straight into Aya's outstretched finger. Yukari cries out in pain as the rest of her falls out of the gap onto the floor. She rolls around on the floor screaming for a minute or two while clutching her injured eye before standing up, instantly regaining her composure. She tries to speak, but you can't hear her over the laughter of everyone behind you. She brushes herself off and waits as everyone calms down and retakes their seats. "So I heard you saw an airplane?" She asks, as if what just transpired had never occurred. You hear Aya stifle a laugh behind you. "I did. I also don't appreciate eavesdroppers." Shinki sits still with her arms crossed. Yukari opens another, smaller gap by the table and sits on it in place of a chair. "Aww, it's just a little fun!" She smiles. "Yeah, about that plane, what did it look like?" You're still eager to identify it. Shinki looks up at you, "Hmm, to be honest, I can't really explain it. I'd recognize it if I saw one. It was mostly silver, with a star drawn across the back of it." It's too vague. The star tells you it could be American or Soviet, but that's only if it's from your time and assuming it's military-owned. If only you knew what model it was. "Hey, hey, don't ignore me you guys. I'm trying to help!" Yukari forcefully ends your conversation. "Well then, what can you do?" Shinki raises an eyebrow. "Honestly, I'm no good with making borders, but I can investigate it's weak points and strengthen it temporarily until Reimu finishes with her work underground. That is, if it's weakened at all. Things fly in all the time without my help, but something the size of a plane is worth looking in to." She turns to you, "You keep up the good work. I'll need you to keep working towards that dragon."
I don't see another answers so I give a try. [x]If I am a traveler from past then, could it be possible that humans from the "present" on the outside secretly found out about The Border and attempted to weaken it and go inside ?
[X]"By the way Yukari, what is Reimu doing underground? I don't recall you telling me about it."
"By the way Yukari, what is Reimu doing underground? I don't recall you telling me about it." "Huh?" Yukari looks at you funny. "I've mentioned it several times now, haven't I?" "I don't think so.." "She's out exterminating youkai as usual." Yukari lays her head on the table. "Really, it's not something that suits a lay-about like her, but I guess everyone's gotta have their own way of killing time." She yawns. "Speaking of which, I'm tired, so goodbye." Without another word, she falls into the gap that she'd been sitting on, disappearing from sight. Shinki and Alice stare silently at the slowly shrinking black space. "Alice, dear?" Shinki says quietly without turning her attention from the gap. "Run and get me a shovel, will you?" "Yes mother." Alice stands up and walks into the other room. Seconds later, she returns with a small fireplace shovel and hands it to Shinki. "That'll do nicely." Shinki stands and begins shoveling the ash on the floor into the gap. You watch as she continues shoveling for several minutes, dumping the waste into the slowly narrowing gap until the house floor is nearly clean. Without a word, she sets the shovel aside and returns to her seat next to Alice. "What was that all about?" Aya asks her. "Nothing, nothing." Shinki laughs, waving her hand as if waving away the memory of the event. "We should probably get back to discussing that dragon of yours. Is there anything else you might want to know?" "Yeah. If it's under the lake, how do we get there?" You ask. Diving to the bottom of a deep lake without breathing apparatus is not your style. "I know of a place, although you'll be unable to find it on your own. It's very well hidden." She smiles. "Yuka would know where to find it." "Yuka?" Youmu asks, eyes wide. "You mean, Kazami Yuka?" "I know of no other." Shinki smiles, innocently. "About that, we're probably not going to get her help." Aya leans over your head, standing behind you. "Oh?" Shinki's expression turns to curiosity. "Why do you say that?" "We happened upon her house by the path to Muenzuka earlier. She attacked us and Snake shot her." "Did you now?" Shinki smiles again. "She was lying, you know." "Lying? About what?" Youmu leans forward. "Certainly, we defeated her. I saw it with my own eyes." "What you saw was merely an act." Shinki's smile fades. "I doubt we'd be having this conversation had she used her full power." Aya leans further over you. "That's possible. She didn't do that flower thing of hers even once, and she'd only pinned us down. But why'd she fake a loss for no reason?" "I've never been able to understand that woman. Furthermore, that shack on the path is not her house. It used to serve as a toll booth for the Chuuu road before the downsizing of the Hell in Gensokyo. It's not a home to the living." "So she was lying on all counts." You lean forward under Aya's weight pushing down on your head. "Now I'm even more confused. She lies about the house and then she lets us kill her. I don't get it at all." "Perhaps it was a test?" Youmu turns to face you. "She may have been testing our strength." "It's possible." Shinki shrugs, "She's not the type to lose on purpose without a good reason, after all. Maybe we owe her a visit." You, Aya, and Youmu all shake your heads 'no' in unison.
Considering how Snake shook his head with the rest of the group, him suddenly having a complete reversal of opinions is gonna get some looks and thoughts like "Are you serious? After what happened back there you actually want to go back and ask for her help?"
"So it's a 'no' then?" Shinki looks somewhat disappointed. You sigh, aggravated. "Well, I don't like it, but it seems to be our only choice. Is there a way to convince her to help?" "Honestly, I don't know. She's unpredictable at best. I'm not sure if you'll be able to convince her without a fight." Shinki sighs as well. "If it's a fight she wants, then I can handle it!" Aya raises a clenched fist. Unconvinced, Shinki continues. "I'm not too sure. I've fought her one-on-one once before, and her strength is astounding." Youmu pulls herself into the conversation. "If you fought her, than who won?" "She did." Shinki sighs again, her face slightly pained with the memory. You try to change the subject. "So if we can't beat her, our only hope is to try to reason with her?" You're not sure you like the idea, though. She didn't seem very reasonable. "Possibly. Although with just the three of you, I'm not sure you'll manage." "So what then? You going with us?" You ask, not sure what answer to expect. "I suppose that's an idea. I know her well enough that I may be able to convince her to help, and I'm very interested in the dragon." "Why the dragon?" Youmu asks. "It's a lake dragon." Shinki smiles. "Ever eaten one? They're delicious." "In the end it's always food with you, mother." Alice groans, smiling wryly. "Don't complain! There'll be enough for everyone." Youmu thinks for a second. "If that's true, then I'm sure my Master would be most pleased after waiting for my return so long." "Defeating a dragon won't be easy, though." Shinki turns serious again. "So how hard is it?" You ask, just for the sake of asking. "I'd say it's strength is several thousand times that of Yuka's or my own. I've never personally defeated one myself, so I can't give a decent estimate." "Yeah, sounds impossible. Maybe we should give up on that." You shake your head. "No, Snake. We're going to do it." Youmu grabs your shoulder, a glimmer in her eye. "For Miss Yuyu, I'd gladly give my own life to grant her the chance to do something of this magnitude!" Aya leans over, looking Youmu in the eye. "Don't you just have your priorities mixed up just a bit, there?" "I agree." Alice concurs, not bothering to look up. "Throwing your own life away for something so trivial is..." She pauses as Shinki whispers something in her ear. Seconds later, her face turns bright red. "I-I-I woudn't d-dream of it, mother! W-What are you saying?!" She stands up and runs out of the room. Shinki smiles. "Aww, she can be so shy sometimes." She turns and yells after Alice, "You should be more honest with yourself!" You turn back to Youmu, who still has her hand on your shoulder. "Alright, if you're going to be that serious over it, I guess I'm a little curious too. We can't half-ass it, though." "Of course. I don't intend on dying the rest of the way any time soon." She releases her grip on your shoulder. "Besides, a dragon would make for a superb test of one's skill, don't you agree?" "Actually, I think Yuka alone would be more than enough." Shinki turns back around and faces you, speaking in a more commanding tone than previously. "In any case, I'll be looking for the dragon. If you wish to tag along, I won't stop you." "Uhh, okay, I guess." You shrug. "So when do we leave?" "Right now." She stands up. "I'll go get my things." She follows Alice through the same door out of the room. Youmu and Aya both stare at you.
[x] "Well, that's another thing to check off my list." Speak into Aya's ear, whispering. "What'd you do or write to piss off Alice enough to want to kill you or at least try to maim you? And for that matter, what about Keine?"
Hey instead of taking this roundabout route where we have to find & fight a well-overpowered Yuka to find out how we can find & fight an extremely-overpowered lake dragon, we get Nitori to lend us her Metal Gear RAY and just charge right into that fucking lake?
One of Snake's youkai powers: Special Sign "Broken Arrow"
Also, if he's special ops, he probably knows about the T12 or the Grand Slam, so he can imagine that, in a rocket propelled form. Or just a V1/V2 rocket.
Hey, looking up WWII wepon reveals that the US had a 240mm Howitzer since '43, so if Snake doesn't know naval guns, he can fall back on that. But yeah, British 18in guns and Japanese 18.1in guns are the biggest in WWII.
Enjoying myself a Komachi moment. I'm still here and plan to continue it soon, but I'm just so lazy right now. I was just about to get back to work, honest! I'll have one up by tomorrow once I piece my ideas together.
Your eyes follow Shinki as she walks out of the room, shutting the door behind her. Without averting your eyes, you speak softly to yourself. "Can't say I like this idea. There's too much that could go wrong." "Well then, do you have a better idea?" Youmu says calmly. "Not really, but I do have a few questions." You turn to Aya, "So, what exactly did you write about all these people to make them so mad at you?" She grins, "This and that. Mostly stuff about their personal relationships. Like that figurine girl that ran away just now? Yeah, she's in love with the witch we met earlier and doesn't want anyone to know, so I wrote about it!" "Oh?" Youmu cocks an eyebrow at Aya, "It seems to me that she has every right to be upset." "Yeah, yeah. It's not like it was ever a big secret! Everyone already knew, but people like that just bug me." "People like..." You ask, unsure of what answer to expect. "People who hide their feelings but still expect the other person to respond to them." "That's the reason? I could've sworn it was something else like-" Aya cuts you off, "Like her liking another woman or something? It's not really all that rare around here. Not enough strong men like you around to keep all the women in line, you know?" She slaps you on the back, hard. "Isn't that right, Youmu?" Youmu's head jolts up in surprise, she fumbles for words. "Eh? Ah.. Um.. Yes, well.. I do agree that he's one-of-a-kind, but.." She straightens her posture and coughs into her hand. "In any case, I'm not sure that Shinki's plan is the wisest approach. First of all, we're not even truly sure the dragon is in the lake. For mere speculation, she's certainly putting us into harm's way." Aya's expression turns to a scowl, most likely disappointed in Youmu's subject change. "What were you guys talking about before I came in?" You fill her in on what she missed, how Shinki believes there's something wrong with the Border and how Yukari says she's going to do something about it. "Okay, I get it. Nothing to do with the dragon, then." Youmu leans forward in her chair. "Probably. I don't know what effect a dragon's power would have on the Border, but it would be best to keep in in mind." "She's right. If the dragon's the cause of it, then we've a whole other problem on our hands." Youmu's insight never seems to fail you. "But first, I think we should come up with some alternative approach to finding out what's under the lake." "Indeed." Youmu crosses her arms and nods. "So hey, what about Nitori's Metal Gear?" Aya floats out of her chair, hovering an inch or two over the backrest. "Couldn't we use that? With something like that, we'd kill the dragon in one hit!" She pantomimes a boxer, throwing punches into the air. Youmu sits with her arms crosses, looking at Aya with one open eye. "Do you know how to pilot it?" With Youmu's question, Aya's charisma deflates. She slowly falls back into her chair. "I expected not. To be quite honest, I'm not even sure Nitori herself knows how to work it." Youmu continues. "What about you, Snake? Any other ideas?"
You shrug. "I got nothing. Why not give the Metal Gear a shot? I have some basic training that might be helpful." "It's worth a shot. If you think you can use it, I'll be willing to take you there." Aya flutters her wings for emphasis. "Yes, perhaps we may be able to meet up with Shinki at the lake once you convince Nitori to lend it to you." Youmu says. "We should inform her at once." "Inform who?" You hear the door open. Alice walks into the room silently and sits back in her chair. "We thought of something that might help us. With it, we may not need to concern ourselves with Yuka." Youmu informs Alice about the Metal Gear. "Hmm? Well, I'd best go get mother, then." Alice stands up again, and walks back into the other room. Several minutes later, Shinki walks into the room. She's carrying a small bag under her arm, and her hair's now tied up in a single pigtail which hangs loosely down the side of her head. "So you have a better idea? Let's hear it." She says, calmly. You begin, "Well, there was this giant machine I saw a while back that I thought might be helpful. The girl who invented it calls the device 'Metal Gear' and it's about two and a half stories tall." Youmu continues, "The girl who made it is a Kappa. Their technology is well-known for being waterproof, and if it holds true for the Metal Gear, RAY, then we could use it to search the lake." Shinki smiles. "So basically, you want to cut meeting Yuka from the plan? Very well, if you can manage to get it, I'll meet you by the edge of the lake." Her smiling expression changes slightly, and you can feel a threatening aura emanating from around her. "A pity though, I really did want to meet her once more." "Where by the lake?" Aya asks. The atmosphere around Shinki dissipates as she answers. "There's two islands in the middle of the lake. I'll be on the smaller one without the vampires. You'll know when you see it." Youmu stands up as Shinki finishes. "Very well. In that case, I shall accompany you. I've some business matters to attend to at the mansion." She points to you. "Snake. You go with Aya to pick up RAY. I will meet you there." You would move to protest, but the look in Youmu's eyes is familiar, similar to that cold gaze she wore when you kissed Yuyuko. You doubt she'd back down. "Alright. I guess it's settled, then. We'll meet you in-" Aya stomps a foot on the table from her place in midair, abruptly silencing you. "Later this evening!" She grins haughtily as she points at you. "Now it's my turn, Snake! I'll learn you not to underestimate the fastest in Gensokyo!" She laughs as she turns back to Youmu. "We'll leave and be back before nightfall, I promise you." Youmu nods before following Shinki outside. Shinki waves at the two of you, smiling until she's out of sight. Aya grabs you by the collar and drags you outside. You look around to find the others vanished. They must've flown away. You look up to see them floating over the trees further down the path. You feel a slight pressure around your shoulders. "Hold on tight." Aya whispers into your ear. "That's my line, if you know what I mean." You grin. "Yeah, yeah. Save it." She laughs again. "I'll have you crying to mommy before the night's over." The two of you say in unison, "If you know what I mean." She lifts you off the ground and shoots up into the sky at an alarming speed. If you were still completely human, your brain probably would have melted. "Should I close my eyes?" You yell over the sound of wind rushing past your ears. She stops, suddenly. The change in gravity forces your guts into all forms of protest. "Heh? Are you scared?" Her condescending tone of voice bothers you, but not nearly as much as the rocky mountain shooting towards you at an improbable speed. Looks like she didn't wait for your response. Within seconds, she reaches the airspace over the tree line at the base of the mountain, and drops down at an alarming rate, and after a minute of searching for it, sets you down in front of the cave.
Shinki turns on her heel to the unsuspecting Youmu. "YOUMU!" She yells, extending her finger towards the half-ghost, "GATTAI DA!" Youmu, confused replies meekly, "Gat-tai?" "We won't know unless we try!" Shinki yells, grabbing Youmu by the head and forcing it towards her Ahoge. Youmu lets out a scream of fear and confusion as her head is drawn ever closer to the knife-like hair. With all her might, Shinki lets out a yell that pierces the heavens as she splits her ahoge in two. With her free hand, she grabs Youmu's ghost half, and with another yell, forces her split ahoge through it's ethereal body. With a grin showing complete victory, she turns to you. "See that?! Now we've got two heads like you!" She extends her index finger in your direction. "Now we're the same as you! You damn beast!" Aya looks on in confusion and disappointment as you respond, "What a foolish woman." She laughs as a white glow emanates from her head. "Exactly!" The glow becomes brighter with each passing second. "Without foolishness, an ahoge is as nothing! Now you will see my true power!" The glow becomes unbearable to watch. Any normal man would be blinded by now. You avert your gaze as the form of the combined Youmu and Shinki is enveloped in a cloud of smoke. You hear a series of explosions, and a voice comes from the glowing cloud. "We did it, miss Shinki!" Youmu sounds surprised. "Yeah, we did." Shinki's voice carries with it her utmost confidence and satisfaction. The glow dissipates as the smoke begins to clear. You can barely make out the shape of a single being, neither Youmu nor Shinki in appearance. "Well, boy! What do you think if my final form?" You're too shocked to respond. Although concealed by the smoke, you realize you're facing the single greatest entity in Gensokyo. A being more powerful than a thousand dragons. You drop to your knees in awe. A voice comes from the billowing cloud. A voice that's neither Shinki nor Youmu. "Are you afraid, boy? Your instincts serve you well. I am that which is Shinki and Youmu, yet I am neither. You may call me..."
>Youmu stands up as Shinki finishes. "Very well. In that case, I shall accompany you. I've some business matters to attend to at the mansion." She points to you. "Snake. You go with Aya to pick up RAY. I will meet you there." >You would move to protest, but the look in Youmu's eyes is familiar, similar to that cold gaze she wore when you kissed Yuyuko. You doubt she'd back down.
Looks like Youmu knows something; she probably is suspicious of Shinki backstabbing us and is trying to protect us. I wouldn't be surprised if she dies, ends up as a half-ghost Cyborg Ninja.
[x] Light a cigar by using the Nitori gun and imagining a flamethrower.
Just in case Nitori is out and has left laser traps.
[x] Enter the caves; light your path by using the Nitori rifle and imagining a flare gun.
In b4 the Metal Gear RAY is hijacked by Nazi Liquid.
>>44533 >[x] Enter the caves; light your path by using the Nitori rifle and imagining a flare gun. So, light up some small cave passages with an extremely bright explosive light which is designed to be as bright and noticeable to anyone around for MILES. Yet another genius move.
You stand where she set you, gathering your thoughts and running through in your mind what just took place. Aya sets down next to you, smiling as if expecting some sort of praise. "Hey, what was that just now?" You ask. "Heh, you're surprised?" She laughs to herself. "That was my true power!" She slaps her hand against her bicep, clenching her other hand into a fist and flexing the muscle. You turn back to face the cave. "Impressive. Now I see why you were so confident." "I know, right?" She walks ahead of you. "We still gotta get that robot, so let's not waste any time. Let's go." She grabs your wrist and pulls you after her into the cave. You follow Aya into the blackness. Before, you couldn't see an inch in front of your face, but you can clearly remember your surroundings. They're so clear in your head you can see everything as if it were bright as day. No, wait. That's no memory. You really CAN see everything clear as day, including the blinded Aya stumbling and feeling around beside you. "Hey, slow down! I can't-" She yelps as she trips over a rock. "Ow! Hey, slow down!" You stop and place an arm around her shoulders. "Hey! Who's that!" She grabs your hand. "Snake? That you?" "Yeah. It's me." You carefully walk her towards the elevator. "Wait, how do you-" "I guess I can see in the dark." You walk her onto the platform and press the button to lower yourself into Nitori's lab. The ride down is longer than you remember. You set down your pack, and walk Aya over to it and sit her down. "So," You begin, "got any ideas on how to get this thing from her?" She shrugs, her eyes following the sound of your voice. "Uhh, not really. We're pretty good friends and she's showed it to me before, but I don't exactly know what she wants to do with it. She seems pretty protective of the thing, in either case." A moment of silence passes as the two of you think. You begin to speak, but the elevator reaches the bottom and creaks to a halt. You lift Aya up to her feet and grab your pack, slinging it over your back in a single quick movement. You lead Aya into the lab. It's dark, unlike the last time you were here. Several gadgets are strewn across the floor, and if you hadn't visited the lab previously to see it's usual state of cleanliness, you could have sworn somebody had broken into the place. You walk over to the corner of the room where the giant machine's held in place. Upon seeing it, you've noticed a few changes have been made, namely it's now bright blue finish, and a set of yellow restraints holding it in place. You walk over to the giant's feet, releasing Aya's hand as you run your fingers across it's cold metallic surface. You notice a small ladder leads upwards to a small platform on-level with RAY's back. You climb it quickly, and search the organic-looking machine's back and head for a hatch. Finding nothing, you look back down over the platform to find Aya. She's hovering right above where you left her, probably mumbling something to herself. You try to stand up, yet find yourself unable to do so. Some invisible force holds you in place. "What the-" "Thought you could get away with it, huh?" You immediately recognize Nitori's overly-enthusiastic voice. "Nitori?" "Indeed, it is I." You're slowly pushed onto the ground by a force to your back. "So, you're still after the Metal Gear, aren't you, Snake?" "Huh? What're you-" "Silence!" Something hits the back of your head. Lightly, yet with enough force to knock you off-guard. "I'm afraid it won't go your way, this time. Metal Gear will not be destroyed by you, and I will be the one to- Pfff-HAHAHAHA!~" She breaks into a fit of hysterical laughter. The force holding you down releases you, and you quickly pull yourself to your feet. "Nitori? What the hell-" You can't seem to find her, although you can clearly hear laughter behind you. "Hahaha! Hey, sorry! I just couldn't help myself." You turn to face the voice, and find Nitori slowly materializing out of thin air. She holds up a small bit of machinery. "Stealth camo. You remember, right?" "Yeah, but what the hell was all that for?" "It's not important. Anyways, let's get some light in here!" She pulls off a set of small goggles and claps her hands a few times. The lights slowly flicker on. "So yeah, I could probably guess why you're back." Aya flies up onto the platform and lands beside you. "Ah, you were here, Nitori?" Nitori's smile grows wider as she sees the Tengu. "Aya! How nice of you to visit!" She grabs Aya's hand and vigorously shakes it. "So what brings you all the way down here?" Nitori releases Aya's hand, and she shakes it as if it went numb. Aya points a finger at you. "I'm with him." Nitori's eyes widen. "You're *with* him?" She emphasizes 'with' unnecessarily. "So you're here for my blessings, then? Very well, I'll attend the wedding. If you're curious, I've got a couple of inventions that could-" Aya stops her, "No, that's okay." She sighs. "Look, we're here on business right now. It's about a dragon." "Yeah, yeah, the dragon. Heard all about it from this poor bastard." Nitori motions to you, laughing loudly. "Hey, no offense buddy." You try to hide your frustration. "None taken. Actually, we'd like to borrow this thing here." You kick the platform, motioning to the beast-like machine below you. Nitori's smile vanishes in an instant. "You want RAY? What for?" Her tone of voice catches you off-guard. Compared to her carefree and playful attitude earlier, she now reminds you more of an angry Youmu. Aya waves a hand at her, as if trying to cool her head. "Hey, hey. It's no big deal. We'll bring it back in one piece." Nitori narrows here eyes. "Even though it's a request from Aya, I won't just give it away like that. I'll lend you any weapons in this room, but Ray is something you can't have." A look of disappointment crosses Aya's face. Nitori responds before she can say anything. "I know what you're going to say, but no means no. You of all people know how many years of work I put into this. Without the outside world's technology, I had to re-invent every bit of technology in it myself." She turns to face the head of the Metal Gear. "The paint's not even dry yet. I've only just finished it!"
"If that's the case, a little fresh air might do it some good. That paint will dry faster if it's taken out for a spin. Machines are meant to be used." Your attempt to convince her may fall of deaf ears, but it's worth a shot. She continues to stare at the machine, like a child about to lose it's favorite toy. "You may be right, but I can't just simply give it up like that." Aya pats her on the shoulder. "I know how you feel, but we really need your help right now. Besides, what good is it if you just let it sit down here?" Nitori turns to face Aya. "I suppose you're not going to just give up, are you?" Aya smiles and nods. Nitori turns back to face you, her smile reappearing on her face. "Alright, I suppose there's no stopping you guys. If you want it so bad, I'll let you use it." Aya turns to face you. "Hooray!" She holds an arm up in a gesture of victory. "However!" Nitori continues. "I'll be watching you from the cockpit. If it gets too dangerous, I'll activate the override and bring it right back. I don't want it all scratched up, after all." "Fair enough." "So how d'ya work it?" Aya turns to face the machine. "Simple. It interfaces with your nervous system. It's as easy as lifting a finger." Nitori smiles. "I built it tough, after all. I'll give you a quick run-through of it's capabilities once you're inside. Hands-on is the best way to learn it." She grabs you by the arm and pulls you over to the platform behind it's head. "In any case, for Metal Gear it's gotta be Snake." "Agreed." Aya says, helping you to remove your pack. "I'd prefer it that way. I'm no good with machines." Nitori frowns. "I know. If I put you in it, the first thing you'd do is break it." She presses a small hidden button on the back of it's neck which releases a small plate of it's armor. "Pay attention, I'm only going to do this once." She inserts a hand into the space and pulls the armor plate to the side, revealing a small lever below. As she pulls it, you hear a slight hiss of gas, and a hatch slides open, revealing the cramped cockpit below. "So how do you close it once you're inside?" Aya asks in your stead. "It's automatic. I made it hard to open and easy to close on purpose like that. Don't want anybody stealing my masterpiece." Nitori pushes you from behind. "In you go!" You climb into the machine feet-first, slowly pushing yourself into the cramped space. Your head clears the hatch, and Nitori slams it closed behind you. You hear the same hiss of gas as you did earlier, and you feel pressure against your inner ears. You take a quick look around. There's a small instrument panel over your head, well within arm's reach. Two more panels lay to either side of you, next to what looks like armrests. In front of you is a small box, and to your feet is blackness. In fact, everything behind the small flat box is black. You hear a crackling sound from the small box, and Nitori's face appears inside it. "Can you hear me?" "Huh? Yeah, but, what is this?" "What is what?" She tilts her head in confusion. "This talking box?" "It's a simple LCD television, and a small one at that. It can be used to communicate with me and the others." "Ell-See-Dee?" You have no idea what she just said, but you clearly understand the communications part. "Yeah. Err, don't worry about it. Just think of it as a video radio." Her face fads into a visual diagram of the cockpit. "I'm sure you recognize this by now." "Yeah, it's where I'm sitting." You look around again for confirmation. Nitori continues. "It is. First thing's first. Look down by your legs. Do you see the split?" You obey, looking down. You notice the cockpit's seat splits into two about where your legs meet your hips. "I see it." "Good. Now, position your legs on the platform and look above you." You obey, moving your legs onto the seat. Two small metal restraints move across your ankles and hold your legs in place. You push your back flush against the seat. You look to the panel above you. "Done." "You should see a large red button." You look and see it to your left, protected by a yellow and black plastic and metal cover. It tempts you to press it. You reach a hand out to do so. Nitori continues, her tone of voice stern. "DON'T EVER press that unless you're in immediate danger. That's the eject button." You pull your hand back, placing it on the armrest. "You should recognize the other instruments up there." You do. You see clearly labeled gauges to the right of the button. You recognize an altimeter, altitude indicator, external pressure gauge, speedometer, directional compass, and several fuel and engine gauges you don't quite recognize. "Hey, what's this one here? To the far right?" You point to the last gauge on the right of the panel, next to a temperature sensor. "That's the control rod meter. It measures the stability of RAY's reactor." "Huh?" She might as well be speaking in tongues.
"Oh, right. You don't know about nuclear power." You hear her snap her fingers as she speaks. "To make it simple, if it goes into the red, get the hell away from it as fast as possible." "Makes sense to me. Why, does it explode?" "Yes, very much so." "Understood. What's next?" "Next is the power-on cycle. Most of it is automatic, so you don't need to worry about troubleshooting or improvising when something goes wrong. First step is to get your legs in place and sit up straight, but I imagine you're already past that, so now look to your left, by the armrest." "Yeah, there's a small set of controls there. What's it all do?" "The series of black switches activates the reactor. Turn them on one-by-one starting from the rightmost one." You start flipping the switches. As you turn on the first one, a deep humming comes from below you. As you press the others, the hum slowly becomes a high-pitched whine, and eventually dissipates completely. "Good, now press the green button." You press it, and wait for further instructions. "There'll be a... slight pinch." She says, jokingly. As she speaks, an apparatus shoots out from either side of the seat and forces itself onto your shoulders and hips. You feel a series of small needles force their way under your skin, and you cry out in a mix of pain and surprise. "Ack! What the hell?!" "Hehe~ Yeah, I got that idea from an anime, but it works extremely well." "A what? What kind of sick bastard-" You stop yourself. "Err, never mind. What's next?" "Now you need to turn on the visuals." Her face re-appears on the monitor. She smiles. "How do I do that? My arms are stuck?" "Try sitting forward." She leans into the screen. You lean forward, and find that you're hardly restrained at all. The silver apparatus against your arms offers no resistance as you sit forward. "Okay, so where's the restraints in this thing?" "In due time. There's another series of switches by your other arm. Same deal, one at a time from the right." You flip the switches, and as each one is turned on a block of the blackness in front of you turns to a view of the lab. "Right, the seat belts are on either side of you, and there's a helmet above your head." You find both, and put them on. The helmet looks like a heavy pilot's helmet, although it's connected to the machine by a heavy black cable, and the five-point harness is easy to attach. It looks like it comes off with the flip of a lever on the locking mechanism. "Lookin' good there, chief." Nitori presses a button to her side, and your view of the lab begins to rise. "Now let's get you outside!" Minutes pass, as you're slowly raised up a long shaft through the depths of the mountain. Eventually, you reach the end, and a set of enormous doors ahead of you swing open to reveal the surface of Gensokyo before you. The sun it high in the sky, it's barely past noon. "Let's start with some basic movements. There's a blue switch next to the eject button. Press it. That'll release the safety lock and allow you to move freely. Be prepared though, it'll be unlike anything you've ever experienced before." You locate and quickly press the button. Your vision darkens for a split second as a black visor shoots down from your helmet and covers your face. The view of the landscape changes to that of RAY's, and a projection onto the visor hides the cockpit from your view. "So now you're seeing what RAY sees. Now, wait for me to finish before beginning. Try to move your arm, but at the same time, don't actually move it. Your thoughts will carry over to RAY and will move it's arm instead. You'll get used to it after a while. Ready? Go!" You follow her instructions, and think of moving your left arm forward. You watch as the mottled blue fin-arm of RAY fires forward instead. You decide to go one step further, and think of opening your hand. The end of RAY's arm breaks into three distinct claws, each one opposing the other in a pyramid shape. Moving your fingers you test it's dexterity. The clawed hand opens and closes with your will. "Hey, this is pretty cool!" Then you think of something else. "Where's Aya?" "Right here!" She flies into your field of view and completely covers it. "I know you can see me now!" "That's all I can see! Move back a bit!" Unconsciously, your imagine reaching for her and grabbing her from your face. RAY obeys the command, and pulls her back by your backpack she's now wearing. "Hey! What're you-" She struggles. "Lemme go!"
>>44733 Ray was designed to fight alongside Marines and defeat the cheap Rex knockoffs that were being developed around the world. Additionally, the one that fought Rex was a mass produced version made to fight alongside other MP-Rays and protect Arsenal Gear/ Outer Haven. MP-Rays had thinner armor compared to the prototype made by the marines. In comparison, Rex was practically impervious to damage except for an Achilles Heel that Otacon put in because he thought every giant robot should have one.
You instinctively drop her as she yells at you. "Uhh, sorry, didn't mean to do that." You're still trying to get used to the face that you've basically become a giant robot. She flies back towards you. "Don't sweat it." He turns around, waving for you to follow her. "Here, this way." Nitori continues to instruct you through the screen, although you can no longer see it. "For now, follow Aya. Walking is fairly easy compated to moving the arms. If you think about moving in a direction, it'll move in that direction." You concentrate on Aya, and the machine slowly moves forward. With each one of it's paces, you can feel it's movement in the pit of your stomach. RAY lumbers forward as Aya leads you out into the forest. You're now a little taller than the trees ahead of you, and you can follow Aya as she flies above them. You walk into the forest and almost immediately get stuck against a tree. "Uhh, whoops." You rub your head in embarrassment, and RAY follows suit. "Looks like that paint job might need a bit of a touch up." Nitori laughs. "Figure of speech, guy. It's brand new, but the paint's been dry for days. As for the tree, just push it to the side." You grab the tree and push it out of your way. You can feel some resistance in your own body, even though you're not touching anything. You bend the tree to the side, and step over it as you continue to follow Aya. "So why did I feel that just now?" You ask. "You're nervous system is directly connected to RAY. You'll feel much of what the sensors outside pick up. I've dampened it a bit, so it won't hurt bad if you love an arm or something." "'Too bad' you say?" You say, following Aya into a small clearing. "How bad is 'not too bad'?" "Ehh, It'll hurt like hell." She laughs, "So don't you dare lose an arm on my Metal Gear!" "Sure thing." You'd rather not find out for yourself exactly how bad it hurts. Bringing RAY back in one piece is starting to sound like the best option. Aya stops in the field, and begins to ascend quickly. "Now, if you concentrate on flexing your back muscles..." You try it, and an indicator appears in your vision. "Huh?" "You'll activate it's anti-gravity and thrusters. Try thinking of walking into the sky." You imagine walking upwards, and sure enough RAY begins to hover off the ground. As a test, you try flexing your back muscles again, and you watch as RAY returns to the ground, landing with a loud metallic thud. "Whoa." You're impressed. You test the system several more times, and you soon figure out how to make it fly. You shoot up into the sky after Aya. "Say, you're pretty good at this." Nitori sounds impressed. "I never did get the flight to work quite right in testing. I had to get Sanae to run the test for me." "Sanae?" You remember the young woman from the mountain shrine. "Yeah. She's the only human I know aside from Reimu who can fly unassisted." You hear her cough into the microphone. "Anyways, now it's time to test out the weaponry, if you're comfortable with it." "Guns are my specialty." You smirk. "Indeed. To start, it's main armaments consist of a large beam cannon mounted on the head, a missile pod on it's back, and several guns which are similar to the danmaku rifle you've been lugging around these past few days. We'll start with those." "Alright. How do the weapons work? Are they powered by imagination, too?" "No, actually. You have buttons to press to make them work. If you'll flip up the HUD visor with your hand, I can explain." You lift the visor, and return to the semi-familiar scenery of the cockpit. Nitori's grinning face covers the monitor. "Aya, if you'll return to the ground, we may begin." "Sure thing!" You can hear Aya's voice coming form inside the cockpit. You look around, trying to find her. "She's not in there. I gave her some communications equipment so she'll be able to speak with you in the field." The view of the cockpit from earlier takes over the screen and highlights a small box around your seat back. "There's a console behind your seat. Pull it out." You reach behind you, swinging a metal box forward around the seat until it locks into place just in front of your left hand. "Ah, you're left-handed?" "Yeah, I am. How'd you know?" "That box swings in either direction." Her face appears back on the screen. "In any case, make not of the buttons on the face of the box." You note the locations of several red and very dangerous-looking buttons on the black box. Each one is labeled. You press the one marked 'RIGHT ARM'. Looking into the space ahead of you, you watch as RAY's right hand changes into a weapon of sorts. "Right, if you'll pull the visor back down, we may begin." You pull the visor down, and experiment with several hand-movements until you see the gun activate. "That's the one, if you form your hand into the shape of a gun and pull your thumb back as if it were the hammer being pulled back, you arm the weapon. To fire it, you stick out your index finger, point it at a target, and bring your thumb back down." You try it, concentrating as you did when firing your imagination gun. You think of the shape of a Flak-88 shell as you point your arm towards the foot of a far-away mountain and bring your thumb forward into the space between your middle finger and palm. You hear a deafening bang as the weapon fires. As you'd imagined, 88 shells fly from the barrel. Not one, but several in a circular pattern. The weapon fires two more bursts in quick succession, each in a circular pattern of 88 shells. "Whoa!" You're amazed. This weapon is more powerful than you'd imagined. "Careful there, buddy. We don't want to piss off the locals." You hear some rustling in the background. "Hey, what're you-! Get out!" You hear Nitori yelling as she tries to chase off some unknown aggressor on her end. A loud noise abruptly silences her. "Nitori?" You flip up the visor and disarm the weapon. "You there?" The screen's still on and working, but the person looking into the cockpit isn't Nitori, but an unfamiliar face. She brushes a lock of blonde hair from her face. "Hello? Anyone in there?" She taps the screen.
You stare at the unfamiliar girl's face, unsure of whether she can see you or not. She continues to poke the screen. "Who are you, and what did you do with my flight instructor?" You speak calmly, yet with force. "Huh?" She looks confused and turns her attention to the side of the screen. "Oh, right. That'll work." She fumbles with an off-screen panel of switches. "Hey, you there?" "Who are you, and what did you do with my flight instructor?" You repeat yourself, adding "Depending on your answer I may be forced to blast you into dust." This machine's starting to put you on the greatest power trip of your life. "Nuh-uh, you don't wanna do that." She wags a finger at you through the screen. You're still not sure if she can see you. "We have something that belongs to you." 'We'? "So what would that be?" You look through RAY's view screen. Aya's sitting calmly atop the hand cannon as you hover in place hundreds of feet in the air. "Oh, so you CAN hear me!" She giggles malevolently. "You must be Snake." "I am, and I've been able to hear you since you crashed the party. Where's Nitori?" "She's a little *tied up* at the moment, if you know what I mean." She pantomimes tying a rope in a not. "And you'll de exactly as I say if you want to see your precious half-ghost again." "Youmu?! What have you done with Youmu!" You can feel fear and anger well up inside you. "Calm down guy, she's fine." She pauses for a second, adding, "For now." Things are going way too fast. You collect your thoughts before responding. So it seems Youmu's been kidnapped, and by an unknown enemy no less. By the way she's talking, there must be more than one of them. Unless the whole thing is a bluff. You'd best find out what she wants, in any case. "Alright, so what do you want?" You sigh. You don't know what kind of monster could've possibly subdued Youmu, but it seems you may have no choice but to find out. "You. Or rather, your presence has been requested by my superior." She pulls a sheet of scrap paper from a pocket in her white shirt. "Hmm.." She tosses it aside. "So yeah. We'll meet at the bottom of the Hakurei shrine's steps. Be there by dawn tomorrow or the girl gets it." She grins, dragging a finger across her throat. "That's it?" It's surprisingly simple. "That's it." She waves at you. "Well then, see ya!" She disappears from the screen, and you hear another loud noise and a scream in the background. "You hear all that, Aya?" "Uhh, hear what?" She looks into the view screen. "And why are you just sitting here?" You flip down the visor, and explain Youmu's situation as you concentrate on the small screen. You watch and wait as Nitori collects herself in the background. "WHAT?!" Aya yells. "Youmu got kidnapped?!" She pulls out a small pad of paper and begins scribbling on it. She seems indifferent to Youmu's ordeal, and places more value on the possibility of a story. You facepalm, and RAY follows suit. Nitori regains her seat at the console and brushes herself off. "Geh! That kid's got no manners!" After a second or two of complaining, she instantly regains her composure. "Right, so where were we?" You think for a second. During the ordeal, you had time to examine the weapon's console. The missiles fire with the push of a button, but you cant figure out the head cannon. "How does the head gun work?" You ask. "Simple." She holds up a finger. "Stick out your tongue and blow a raspberry at whatever you want to kill!" You facepalm. The whole idea is ridiculous. "Did you program it that way on purpose?" "Yup!" She smiles, "Pretty cool, huh?" "Err, yeah, sure." You follow her instructions and stick out your tongue. A targeting reticle appears in the center of your visor, and you can hear a mechanical buzzing as the head changes form.
"For now, just point it straight down." Nitori's voice comes through your helmet. "It's really powerful, after all." You follow her instructions, and turn the head to face downward. You target the open patch of grass below, and fire the weapon. A beam of blue light covers the center of your vision as it passes in front of the sensor array and fires straight into the ground. You feel a shock wave hit your craft, and the ground explodes below you. "Good! Now that's all of the basics." You flip up the visor to regain your view of the cockpit. As you lift it, you hear the head return to it's original form. Nitori continues, "One more thing. This craft has equipped on-board a very powerful radar and sonar system. It's inactive now, so let's turn it on. Press the white switch on the screen I'm talking to you through." You comply, and a black and green display appears. The words 'POWERED BY NITROTECH" appear on screen. "Nitrotech?" You repeat the name. "Yeah, I read about software designers in the outside world, so I made my own. Pretty nifty, huh?" "Yeah.. So how does it work?" The screen is blank, save for a small green dot in the center of the screen, and a green line beginning at the dot and sweeping around in a circular pattern. "Just wait. Aya, if you'll move around a bit, please." "SAH, YES SAH!" Aya replies, loudly. A second, white dot appears on the screen as the green line sweeps past it. "See that white dot?" Nitori explains, "That's Aya. As she's currently registered as neither friend nor foe, the indicator remains white. This system will register anything from missile locks to the smallest of Danmaku. Aya, now try firing a single shot at Snake. Nothing powerful, but enough to hit RAY." You hear a dull thump through the armor above you, and the white dot turns red. "Now that she's fired at you, it automatically lists her as an enemy. Red dots indicate foes, and green dots are friendlies. Try touching the red dot." You do, and as soon as your finger lands on it, it becomes green. "You're able to manually change between friend and foe. Touch it again, and she'll be listed as an enemy. This is useful if you activate the autocannons located under each arm. They won't deploy unless an enemy is present, and you can toggle it with the white button on the weapon's console." "Is that everything?" "Mostly. I've built in a small display linked to the radar system, so it'll display in real-time on your visor. Don't use it unless you're up against a lot of enemies, or if you can't see them through the view screen. It's meant to be used in emergencies, so use discretion." "Understood." You remember Youmu. "I've got some business to tend to with that girl from earlier." "Yeah, I know." You shut the radar off as Nitori speaks. Her grinning face returns to the screen. "I'll be keeping tabs on you from in here, so get going!" You flip the visor back down, and spin around to view your surroundings. Other than lots of trees, you don't see anything that could lead you to the shrine. "Hey Aya, what way's the shrine." She flies back into your field of vision. "This way." She waves for you to follow, and darts off ahead of you. You activate the thrusters, and speed up to catch her. The sun's still up, so you've plenty of time before morning. Finding a place to rest is all that's on your mind right now. In time, you reach the shrine. You're hovering over the building, and have a clear view of everything below. You touch down on the edge of the bare ground to the side of the main building. You struggle to release yourself from the machine. You remove the helmet and press the blue button. The devices on your shoulders and legs pull back painlessly, and return to their original positions behind the seat. The five-point harness comes off easy, and you grab the hatch. With one movement, you unlock the hatch, and force it open. Fresh air rushes into the cockpit, and you pull yourself out, closing and locking the door behind you. Aya sits on the head of RAY, and you lean over to get a clear view of the shrine. The grounds look to be cleanly swept.
You feel like you forgot something. Who was that girl earlier? You'd expect Aya wasn't able to see the conversation you had with her, so asking her might be a bit of a stretch. You decide to ask Nitori. You open the cockpit and stick your head inside. You bring the communications box closer your head, and press a small button labeled 'SEND' on the front. It comes to life, and a view of the lab shows on the screen. "Hey, Nitori, you there?" You hear some rustling, and wait to see if she responds. After a minute or so, her head comes into view. "Yeah, what is it?" She seems upset. "You know, there's an easier way to talk to me than this." "Is there?" You don't remember her explaining anything. You see her speak into a small wristwatch-shaped device. The speaker in your ear projects her voice. *Something like this.* "You can do that, too?" You thought Yukari was the only one. The screen shuts off automatically as she presses a switch. You close the cockpit as she talks. *I built this, after all. I can access everything I make like this.* She pauses for a second. *Even cameras.* You might want to warn Aya about that later. "So I had a question. Who was that girl earlier?" *Dunno. She just ran into my lab like that, shot me with some strange gun, and then tied me up.* "Sounds like you had a rough time." *If I see her again, I'll giver her such a pinch!* She's already making jokes about it. "Okay, okay. That was all I had to ask." *Really? Nothing else about RAY?* "I'll cross that bridge when I get there. I don't know enough about it to ask any useful questions." You climb down RAY's back and onto the ground. Aya follows behind you *Right, bye then!* You hear a click as the machine in your ear shuts off. You turn to Aya. "Hey, who made that camera of yours?" She looks at you, confused. "Nitori did. Why do you ask?" "She just told me she can access it from her lab. I get the strange feeling she can see the pictures you take." She goes silent, blushing profusely. You're at a loss for why, until you remember the large stack of pictures in your bag. Most of them are of other people you've met, but there's one or two mixed in of you and her at the mountain shrine. You can feel yourself blushing as well. "Err, let's go." You grab her hand and lead her over to the shrine's offering box. The grounds look well swept, but the box appears to be collecting dust. You remember it's polished and waxed appearance from your last visit. You walk around back, and knock on the front door. "Hello! Anybody home?" You wait, knocking a second time as you start getting impatient. The door swings open, but you don't see anybody standing behind it. Looking down, you see a familiar face. It's that drunkard horned girl you seem to keep meeting. "'Sup." She nods once before turning around and heading inside. Her dress seems different. Compared to the torn white shirt and purple skirt she seems to usually wear, she's now dressed in the same manner as Reimu. The dress fits loosely on her. You pull off your boots and follow her inside. You walk into a familiar room. The same room you woke up in after losing it and passing out. The fact that you've skipped 60-ish years of history doesn't weigh down on you as hard as before, although the technology has you completely confused. You notice a cardboard box over in the corner. The same one, right where you left it. "Hey Aya, you've gotta try this!" You pull her over to the box, and drop it over her head. "Hey what're you-" She protests. You stop her before she can finish. "Whaddaya think?" "What do I think? There's a box on my head!" She yells at you, a mix of surprise and confusion. "No, no, how does it make you feel?" "Huh? Well, I guess... Now that you mention it." "It's calming, isn't it?" "Yeah, I guess it is." She lifts the box up on her head, her eyes barely showing under the lip of the it. "But I can think of something else even better." "Huh?" You have several ideas what she means, but you're not sure exactly which one she's implying. "This shrine," "Yeah?" "It has a small hot spring in the back." "I know, and?" What is she getting at? "And Reimu's out, so we can have it all to ourselves!" She jumps in the air several times, throwing the box from her head. She throws herself at you, arms open and smiling. You catch her as she falls into you. "Sounds good to me." "Heeh~? So what are you planning on doing with *my* bath? Something lewd, I could guess." You turn around to face the familiar voice coming from behind you. Mima stands in the doorway. Literally, stands. The first thing you notice on her is the presence of a pair of normal human legs. She's even got a pair of matching blue pants. "Long time, no see. Huh, Snake?" She walks into the room, a sly grin on her face. "Makin' nice with the locals, too I see." You laugh, uneasily. "And what's that hunk o' junk out there?" She points over her shoulder with her thumb. "This is a no parking zone, ya know." "Sorry, I didn't see the sign." She laughs, "You've got balls, kid. Completely different from when I first met ya!" Aya looks at her, curiously. Mima notices Aya's stares, and leans over, leveling her eyes with Aya's "Oh? Wanna hear more?" Aya nods, silently. "Alright! We'll talk over dinner!" She leans back, leveling her gaze with yours. "Nobody here can cook, so what're ya gonna do about it?" You remain silent. You can't cook, either. The traditions and foods of this world are something new to you. Mima waits for your response.
"I dunno, why not have Yukari go get us something? I'll give her a call." "You rang?" Yukari's voice comes from somewhere in the room. Mima facepalms as a gap opens between the two of you. Yukari tosses in a few boxes before pulling herself through the gap. Nobody seems too pleased to see her, not even the other girl that slips through behind her. "It's not nice to have a party and leave me out~" She sing-songs as she sits on the gap. You're still curious to find out how she can sit on something that shouldn't exist. "Someone say party?" The horned girl steps into the room. Her mannerisms tell you she's completely drunk. "I like parties!" You stand there, dumbfounded. You're waiting for more people to suddenly appear out of nowhere. Aya whispers into your ear. "This is what happens when somebody uses the 'P' word." "I'll remember that, thanks." You sit down on the floor. Mima and Aya follow suit, while the three interlopers stand around talking about nonsense you couldn't even begin to understand. "Damn, and here I was hoping to spend a quiet evening by myself." Mima curses under her breath. "Ehehehe, sorry about that." Aya apologizes in your stead. Mima waves it off, "It's fine. 'Least this way I get free drinks." She turns around to the trio behind her. "Hey, Yukari! If yer gonna party here, at least get some decent drinks!" Without responding, Yukari opens another hole in space, and shoves her hands into it. She begins pulling out several large glass bottles, most of which are either brown or white. She simply tosses them on the floor as she continues to converse with the horned girl. "That's better." Aya says, picking one of the bottles from the ground as it rolls beside her. "Hey, this doesn't look half bad!" "At least she has good taste, huh?" Mima laughs, grabbing two random bottles and tossing one at you. You instinctively catch it and try to read the label. No good, it's all in some strange asian characters. You curse your inability to read it, but open it anyway. It smells like alcohol. Aya grabs your wrist before you can take a drink from it. "Non, non, my dear boy!" She shakes a finger at you. "We'll have none of this head start nonsense in a drinking contest!" "Heh, deciding such things for yourself." Mima laughs. "Alright, you're on! First one to finish the bottle wins!" Aya and Mima cheer themselves on for a second or two without bothering to ask you if you're willing to join. Honestly, you'd rather be out searching for Youmu, but the allure of the intoxicating substance is too great. You've been through a whole hell of a lot of weird things since your last drink, and you absolutely need another. Youmu will be safe until morning. That girl assured you of that much. "Eh, fuck it." You half-heartedly mutter to yourself before drawing yourself into the game. "So what's my prize if I win?" Aya grins at you, a malevolent look in her eye. "Such confidence! You won't win, Snake. You know that." She snickers. Mima moves in closer, forming a triangle between the three of you. "Alright, I got it!" She holds up a hand. "Why not have the winner decide the loser's punishment?" "A punishment game?" You grin, baring your teeth. You remember playing such games as a child, and you never lost once. "Alright you're on. Let me warn you, I've never lost one before and I don't plan on starting today." "Shut up and drink, Snake." Aya lets go of your wrist and slaps you on the back. "On the count of three!" Mima starts, "One!" Aya continues, "Two!" You sound off, "Three!" In unison, the three of you lift the open bottles to your mouths, and Aya and Mima tip theirs upside down. Beginners, both of them! You angle yours up more slowly, allowing time for air to work it's way into the bottle as it drains. You've done this with your fellow soldiers too many times to count, only this time the bottle's bigger. The first drop of the unknown alcoholic drink touches your tongue. It's weak. Like water compared to the heavy German beer and Russian vodka that was constantly supplied to you by your NCO. You finish off the bottle quickly, with only a passing glance at the other two on occasion. You finish off the contents and slam it down in front of you, taking a heavy breath as you do. The others aren't even halfway done. "Give it up, I've won!" You gloat as they stare at you from the corners of their eyes. Although their own pride won't allow them to be defeated so easily. They continue to chug away as you reach for a second bottle. The two of them finish at almost the same time, following suit and slamming the empty bottles down in front of them. "A-Amazing!" Aya looks genuinely stunned. "A complete defeat." Mima's face holds the same expression. You cross your arms, smugly. "Now then, my prize!" You try to think of something.