Me cluttering up the board again. I'll spare the usual writer commentary and get right into things. Hopefully this'll prove to be interesting.
Morning. A day like any other. The sun beams into your eyes, it's rays warming your face. In this cold weather, such a sensation is more than welcome. Perhaps your reluctance to awaken is due in part to the cold. It's made you sluggish, though you don't really pay it much mind. Walking up slowly like this is good every once and a while, isn't it. Though you feel like you're forgetting something.. That's right! You had something you wanted to do today, didn't you? What was it again?
[ ] It's too cold, go back to sleep. [ ] Nothing comes to mind. Wander around inside. [ ] Nothing comes to mind. Wader around outside. [ ] Clean up the place. It's starting to look awful. [ ] Go look for something to eat. [ ] How do things look outside? [ ] Weren't you working on something? [ ] Work as usual.
Yes, you were working on something, weren't you? Certainly, choosing to remain here for a while longer proved to be more than beneficial for your studies.
Reluctantly, you awaken. Why does it have to be so cold? Did that brat turn off the A/C again? Your nightshirt does little to combat the frigid air. The floor isn't much better, either. It's cold metallic surface sends a chill through your body as your bare feet come into contact with it. Still, you can't afford to be lazing about when your so close to a breakthrough!
Really, who would've thought you'd be right? If this works, you'd have turned everything mankind knows about physics on it's head! The science community will have a shit-fit when you give them the data you've collected!
But you can't think in this cold! Maybe a shower ought to help. Yeah, that sounds great right about now. A hot shower..
Shuffling across the cold, bare floor does little to help your already freezing cold body, though you're soon saved from it's icy clutches by an ingenious feat of engineering. Heated air pumps into the room with the push of a button, though..
You didn't set the temperature the night before, didn't you? You must've gotten a little overzealous with your research the night before and had forgotten to turn the heat on. You curse your own forgetfulness as you head off for the showers.
The water comes out cold at first, but you wait it out. Steam begins to form after a few seconds, and you hop in. You're right again, this is the best idea you've had all day! The hot water soaks your body, warming your freezing nerves and really just providing for an all-around pleasant sensation. You can afford to take your time washing up before you get to work.
Or so you'd thought. A knock at the door breaks your concentration. Really, she's never up this early!
[ ] Answer it. [ ] Ignore it. [ ] Tell her to go away. [ ] Ask her to join you.
>The term air conditioning refers to the cooling and dehumidification of indoor air for thermal comfort. In a broader sense, the term can refer to any form of cooling, heating, ventilation or disinfection that modifies the condition of air.
Maybe she's stressing out over something? It's not normal for her to be up so early, and it's even stranger that she'd have so much as a sliver of common courtesy.
"What is it?" You call out to her with the expectation your voice will carry through the door. "You can come in, you know."
A second later, you hear the door slide open. The familiar shape of your esteemed colleague and assistant steps into the room, grinning from ear to ear.
"Heya, boss." She waves passively, giggling as she heads for the next stall over. "You're awfully naked today." Is her mind as blonde as the hair on her head, or is she just trying to get a rise out of you?
"And you're short as always." You reply with an equally half-witted observation, bringing the playing field down to her level. "A 'good morning' every once and a while wouldn't hurt, you know."
You follow her movements, watching as she turns on the water. Though being just shy of five feet tall, only the top of her pigtailed head is visible over the plastic barrier separating you and her. Even if she is only three years younger, her height--or lack thereof--is almost unnatural.
"Well, good morning, princess!" Her squealing laughter irks you almost as much as that stupid accent she put on. You'd like nothing more than to reach over and pop her one.
"Ha, ha." You limit yourself to a simple, sardonic reply. At least, you now know she's as giddy and annoying as usual. But, as you stop to think, didn't she have something she should've been doing? "By the way, Chiyuri.. Have you finished filing those reports I gave you?"
"Geh!" Her posture straightens, a clear indication of her guilt. She didn't do it, did she?
[ ] Reach over and slap her. That was important! [ ] Let it go. She'll get around to it eventually. [ ] Offer her some motivation. She won't do it otherwise. [ ] Just leave. You're done bathing.
Come to think of it, she never seems to do any real work without some sort of motivation. You should have expected this outcome from the start..
You sigh, allowing your frustration to subside before speaking. "Hard work is well rewarded, Chiyuri."
"Oh?" She turns her head slightly, just enough for you to see the grin on her face.
Now what? You've certainly caught her full attention, but.. isn't there something your forgetting? You can't think clearly so soon after waking up, but you're sure it's important.
"You're coming on to me~"
A wave of sudden realization passes over you. You remember now, that Chiyuri's 'like that', and that she's developed a bit of a thing for you.
You feel like a fool for inviting her in here, you've always tried to avoid a situation like this in the past. She planned this all out, didn't she? She knew you were at your weakest just after waking up, and you fell for it! Hook, line, and sinker!
"Wha-No!" Calm down, Yumemi, calm down! You'll put yourself right where she wants you if you can't think straight! Why'd you have to go and shoot your mouth off like that?
"Are you blushing?" That grin.. God, that grin! You just want to reach over and strangle her!
"You planned this all out, didn't you?" Even if she is a scheming bitch, you're still her superior! You can't allow yourself to be overcome by weakness a moment further.
"Hehe~ Yeah~" She scratches the back of her head absent-mindedly, still refusing to wipe that smile off her face. It's nothing to be proud of, you little brat!
[ ] Give in to impulse. Reach over and strangle her. [ ] Now's your chance to leave. Get out before she thinks of something else. [ ] Try to talk your way out of it. You're still the boss. [ ] Think of a witty comeback. (Insert: Statement and further action)
When was the last time this runt got a thorough disciplining? She's way out of line! If it wasn't for this barrier between the stalls, you'd have ripped her a new one already!
You can just barely get a good grip on the top of her head as you reach over into the next stall, and even that puts a good bit of strain on your muscles. Oh, the things you'd give just to be a few inches taller right now! The effect is less than satisfying..
"What's with the hand?" She asks. At least that smile's gone-
No, wait, there it is again! Dammit!
"You wanna wash my hair? 'zzat it?" Everything you do seems like a joke to her! Her hair is all wet, and it's tough to hold a firm grip. Finally, you manage to get a desirable reaction out of her when you tug at her pigtails. "Uh, hey, that kinda hurts.."
"Sure, I'll wash your hair.." You've got her! She can't get away now! You're practically climbing up the wall now, but before you slip down again you manage to thrust your other arm forward, landing a solid blow to the top of the girl's head. The sound it produces is satisfyingly hollow. "With your own blood!"
"Owwie!" And then she's gone. You've lost sight of her. She's probably just crouching in her stall, nursing the new lump on her head. You really got her good this time! Now that she's out of commission, you'd best get going.
As you step out of the shower, you take a quick look behind you to try and confirm your presumption. Sure enough, she's crouched down holding her head like you'd thought. She might be there for a while. As you quickly towel off and head into the next room over, you call back to her.
"And let that be a lesson to you!"
You don't wait for a reply, but something slams into the door as you close it. Hmm, she's still energetic enough to fight back.. She's more resilient than you thought.
[ ] Get dressed, wear the usual. [ ] Get dressed, wear something casual. [ ] Don't get dressed, walk around in a towel. [ ] You're worried about Chiyuri, go back.
But you feel worried, for some reason. Normally you'd just ignore it, but.. What if you hit her too hard? What was it that hit the door? She isn't seriously hurt, is she? You feel obligated to go back in and check.
The door opens silently, with no obnoxious squeaking or creak. She shouldn't hear you come in. On the floor in front of you lays a bar of soap which wasn't there before. That must've been what hit the door just now. Good thing you spotted it, too, or else you'd have stepped on it.
You yell, startled by the suddenness of everything. Where is she?! To the left? No, she's not in the stalls. She's not on the other side of the door, either, so she must be..
"Scared ya, huh?" Right in front of you, of course. She's so small you didn't even see her! "What happened, lose your panties?"
"No." You sigh. She's the same as usual, but what sort of predicament have you gotten yourself into this time? She saw you come in, so she must suspect something! Her expression betrays nothing, leaving you a little more than confused. "I thought I dropped something." In a sense, you did, so it's not necessarily lying.
"Soo..." She pushes past you, tossing a wet towel over a bench in the room and sitting down naked beside it. "About that reward.." She smiles, crossing her legs expectantly. The implications of her words hold many probabilities, though you figure she's just coming onto you.
You just ignore her, watching her watching you with that steadily smiling face of hers as you ready yourself. You're used to her staring at you like that, even if it is a bit awkward. Just pay it no mind, pretend like she's not even there.
"Do the work first, and then we'll talk." You finally decide to offer a reply, laughing to yourself as she scrunches up her face and groans in response. At least now she won't ask you anything else for a while.
You turn your back to her. Probably not the best idea given the situation, but you've got to get dressed. You figure on the usual red dress. No sense changing styles in mid-stream. You dress quickly, all the while with Chiyuri ogling at your half-naked body from the other side of the room.
[ ] Tell her to stop staring. It's embarrassing! [ ] Tell her to get dressed. She's still stark naked. [ ] Just leave. She'll get dressed faster without anything to stare at. [ ] Make fun of her body. She looks like a child!
What, are you on display or something? If it were anybody else, you'd probably take it as a compliment. But Chiyuri's Chiyuri, and you know exactly why she's doing it. She's not doing it to make you feel uncomfortable, nor is she jealous of your good looks. Well, she doesn't seem to be jealous, at least. You expect she behaves like this because she likes you, though hardly in a normal sort of way.
Though the undeniable fact that she's still naked stands to the forefront of your mind. Sure, you could show off or make fun of her, but that's hardly professional.
"Are you just going to sit there like a fool?" Your sudden question, combined with the slight grin you allow to creep into your expression seems to catch her off guard. "Get dressed, will you?"
"Uh, err, haha-" Can't even form a complete sentence, can she? What sort of lewd imaginary world was she just in? You really wish she'd keep you out of her fantasies.
You watch patiently as she slowly makes her way over to her designated locker, opens it, and starts dragging out her clothes. Why she chooses a sailor uniform, you have no idea. You're about done preparing yourself for the day, so you might as well return some of the stares she was firing off at you a minute ago.
Really, all you think of when you see her like this is a small child. Well, one with an I.Q. off the scales and has a predilection towards women, but a child nonetheless. It's hard to believe she's only three years younger than you..
"See something you like, boss?"
You were staring, weren't you? You hadn't even noticed.. That jeering tone of hers irks you to no end, but you're done in here and that's a question you'd rather not answer one way or the other. The grinning girl before you could easily warp your response to mean anything she wants it to. Why not use that brain for something useful for once, you brat?!
The door is only a few steps away, and you're out through it in a hurry. You make a point to not acknowledge Chiyuri's presence as you walk past her.
[ ] Time to work! [ ] Walk around for a bit. [ ] Check on the specimens. [ ] Inventory the armory.
Now that you don't have to worry about her, you're free to go about at your leisure. Sure, you could get right to work, but there's a lot of other things that come to mind as well. In the end, you head off for the armory.
It's really been an awful while since you've been back there, though, and finding your way there proves to be a bit difficult. Damn, why do the hallways have to all look the same?! You're growing weary of these bare metal walls.
Wait, wasn't it to the left back that way? Yes, that has to be it! It's ridiculous, getting lost in your own ship, but you figure it can't really be helped. It doesn't belong to you, after all. Rather, it was loaned to you by some nameless investor back at the academy who expressed interest in your work. You're still a little surprised at the size of these things, and even more so that somebody would simply give one away to some professor with a few crackpot theories on magic. They must expect to gain something out of it, though you're just glad that not everybody thinks you a fool.
But why arm the ship with such powerful weapons? Your supporter must've been military, considering the volume of firepower concentrated in this room. Sure, you could understand a few firearms for protection, but ballistic missiles? A positron cannon? A tank? What could you, an average civilian, possibly need those for? The worst you've encountered are a few magic users, and none of them proved to be so dangerous as to merit such destructive power.
Oh, hey, there's the door! You'd almost walked right past it. A small red button to the side starts the magnetic lift, and the door rolls off to the side, revealing the large and dim hangar beyond.
Now, where to start? There's guns, guns, and more guns. You're not really the type to find an interest in such things, but somebody needs to make sure they're not mysteriously disappearing! God, this'll take hours! At this rate, you'll never get any work done! But you've already committed to it, and you'll be glad when it's all done. Now, where'd you leave that scanner?
It sits on a long metal table off to the side with the rest of the tools, right where you had it last time. It's small enough to fit in your hand, but it's capable of holding vast amounts of data. With this, the job will be easier. You may even finish by lunchtime! Speaking of which, what time is it? You'd been feeling so weird this morning you'd forgotten to check.
Your wristwatch tells you 11:02. It looks like lunchtime is no longer a reachable goal, but maybe you'll manage to finish by dinner. Did you oversleep? You're sure you didn't take too long in the showers, even with Chiyuri playing around like that.
You groan, already anticipating the pain you'll feel in your shoulders after a day's work. You can feel it already, and you've hardly even begun. Your mind must just be playing tricks on you, you'll soon forget about it after getting started. The gun rack in the corner looks like a good warm-up!
14:12, and you're just about finished. All that's left to do are the nav systems on the mobile weapons platform. At least you'll be able to sit down for this one. You walk back to the center of the room, where the vehicle rests. At first glance, it looks like old technology. It's the first--and only--vehicle you've seen outside of a museum with a fusion drive system. It's certainly built for reliability, though. No moving parts to speak of inside the engine, and it's enormous wheels and suspension seem built for anything short of a head-on nuclear strike.
It's systems are simple enough. Four auto-targeting plasma turrets over each of its wheels, and a single-barreled main cannon set above it in a tank-lke configuration. It seems like overkill for something you use to drive around to buy groceries from the local town market, but the inhabitants don't seem to really understand quite what it is.
Climbing in it is easy. A hatch placed to the rear of the vehicle offers plenty of room, enough for four people to fit in simultaneously. The inside is fairly spacious, considering it was designed for troop transport. You run a quick test of the machine's operational status. The machine in your hand flickers with textual data scrolling faster than your eyes can follow. Wireless data transfer certainly is a marvel! You sit back and relax, allowing the device to run it's diagnostics.
The device beeps once, signaling to you that everything checks out. Satisfied with a job well done, you remove yourself from the vehicle's driver seat and make a quick run-through of the newly acquired data. Abbreviated, of course, so you don't overwhelm your mind with long strings of numerical data.
You see only one missile is missing, but you remember giving it to one of the local magicians. Unarmed and disabled of course, but it's positioning beacon makes it easily recoverable once it runs dry of fuel. You probably shouldn't honor any more of Chiyuri's "publications", else you may be forced to give up something more dangerous.
Now then, you should probably..
[ ] Get to work already! [ ] Work can wait. You're starving! [ ] Mess around with a few of the machines here. [ ] Go outside, get some fresh air.
You should probably get back to your work. You're starting to feel an uncomfortable emptiness in the pit of your stomach, but you've put it off for far too long already. Your hunger can certainly wait a few more hours, but maybe you should grab something along the way.
Oh, right, the mess hall is on the other side of the ship. Well, scratch that idea, you'll have to see if you've got anything left in your desk when you get to the lab.
The walk is short and unpleasant. All you can seem to focus on is that miserable feeling of hunger. You'll be glad when you have something to take your mind off of it. The corridor veers off to the left, ending abruptly shortly thereafter. This is your lab, located somewhere below the armored bridge. It's probably the safest place in the entire ship, or you'd at least like to think so.
A quick push of a button, and the door slides open. As the lights turn on automatically, the faint smell of incense and burning wax wafts out of the room. You remember the scent from a past experiment that ended in failure like all the others. You should probably clear all that occult stuff out one of these days. It was a false lead, and now only serves to make your office look more like a haunted house.
Even so, you feel strangely comfortable here. With everything piled up in front of you, you're somehow able to forget your hunger and begin your work. You sort through a few papers, scanning the contents and tossing away the ones you don't need. Your wastebasket grows full with each passing minute. Eventually, you settle on something you'd nearly forgotten. It's an older document, something you'd written back when you were still a student. It really brings back memories.
What strikes you as the most interesting, though, is how close you'd come to solving the mystery of magical energy. "Science magic" you'd called it, though for such a mysterious sounding name, the physics and technology that went into developing it were far simpler. In the end, it offered no real-world applications and ultimately lead to a dead-end regarding your studies.
You curse under your breath as you toss the papers back onto the desk. Sitting here looking at them will get you absolutely nowhere! You must be in some sort of slump. Even after witnessing it in action, nothing comes to mind. You've been through the data several times already and come up with nothing. There's no way in Hell you'll ever be able to duplicate something like that! The ability to use magic seems almost born into the people that inhabit this world, and as an outsider you'll never even begin to understand it!
[ ] Think harder. You're sure there's something you're missing! [ ] Go get some food. You can't think on an empty stomach. [ ] Clean up the office. There's gotta be something in here you can use! [ ] Just give up. There's no way!
You have to think! You can't simply give up this far into the game, you've already committed yourself! If you want to have the slightest hope of redeeming yourself and your good name, you have to think!
The occult was a dead lead, so why not try from the other end? Surely you'll find some sort of explanation in the realm of the Gods! The shrine maiden called it "divine power", so why not start there? You search the room, looking for anything you have that may offer insight. Alas, you've memorized every book in this room from cover to cover, and none of them are of any use! Why is it all so useless?! Why can't you--
No, no. Getting frustrated won't solve anything. You need to take yourself away from all of this for a while. You need something to calm your nerves. You're not going to get anywhere if you try to force it. Discoveries most often come when you least expect them. You need a stiff drink. Yeah, that sounds about perfect for these kinds of times. Legal restrictions be damned!
You remember picking up some stuff from one of the local breweries in this world. Kept it locked away in the bottom drawer, you did.
Drank it all, too. As you hold the empty bottle in your hands, you get the inkling that it's laughing at you. Laughing, like the rest of the academy did when you made the proposition that magic wasn't just a figment of children's imaginations. You only wish it could be as easy to throw away those memories as it is this bottle.
"Damn.." This day went sour far too quickly, and you're starting to feel cramped just sitting here. You'd like nothing better than to get outside for a bit, and even Chiyuri's company would be appreciated right about now.
A dull thump comes from the door. "Speak of the devil.." It could only be her, considering it's just the two of you here. You call out, allowing her to enter. The door slides open. Chiyuri stands just to the other side. She looks worried..
"I heard some noises.. Everything alright?" She asks, her tone unusually timid. You find that meek smile of hers equally strange. It's not like her to worry about you.
"Was I really that loud?" You look to the bottle you'd thrown earlier. It lays scattered in pieces in the corner of the room. You'll have to clean that up, eventually..
"Uh, no. I was, err.." She trails off, her eyes veering away. Suspicious..
"Coming to bother me?" Her eyes widen, lit up like a sky full of fireworks. An uneasy sort of laughter erupts from her unsteady, smiling mouth. Bingo.
[ ] It's fine, she can stay. [ ] Tell her to fuck off. [ ] Ask her for a drink. [ ] Is there someplace she'd like to go? [ ] Write-in.
"No, err.. Not at all!" She stammers, still trying to hide the now undeniable fact. Well, at least she knows well enough when to stop. "I wasn't-"
"It's fine." You reply half-heatedly. You've already spent your frustration elsewhere. You can't summon up the anger to tell her off. All you can focus on is that busted bottle laying in the corner. God, how you could use a drink! Wait, maybe..
"I'll forgive you.." You let her feel relieved, watching her sigh as her posture relaxes. Then, you go in for the kill. "On one condition." You summon up the will to make it sound forceful.
"Err, what's that?" Her response comes with her usual inquisitive fervor, making it seem as if she's actually happy to fulfill your request.
"I need a drink, something with alcohol." With her brain, the implied meaning of your words should be enough to get the point across.
"Uh, boss? I hate to say it, but.." Now what? You hope it's not what you think it is, that she doesn't have anything.
"I'm a minor, ya know.."
That's it? Now you're positive she's got something hidden somewhere! You've got to push harder, else she won't bring it out!
"That never stopped me before.." You can't even lift your head from your desk to say it, and all that comes out is a muffled groan of a sentence. Hardly the effect you'd hoped for, but she seems to react well to it.
"Good point." She holds up a finger in some wait-just-a-minute sort of gesture, assures you she'll be right back, and rushes back out the door. Again, you're all alone, and far too tired to get anything else done. Your stomach offers a small word of protest, reminding you that you've eaten nothing all day. You don't feel like moving. All you want to do is sit here and rest.
Moments later, Chiyuri bursts back in through the door, a bottle and something else in her hands. She's been gone for almost ten minutes! What kept her so long?
She slams something down in front of you. The shrill bang and vibrations caused by it only serve to aggravate a headache you're only just realizing you have. Is she doing it on purpose?
"So I thought ya looked hungry, so I made a a little something!" She beams with an unrivaled cheer, quite the opposite of your current state of mind. But what prompted her to.."
[ ] It's not drugged, is it? [ ] Don't think, just eat. [ ] Grab for the drink. [ ] Try to be civil about it.
It's not important. You're entirely focused on your own hunger, and the more you think about it, the worse the feeling gets. The sandwich in front of you looks awfully tasty, and you're not about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
You polish it off in a matter of seconds, and once you start feeling better you go for the drink she's holding. She practically hands it to you, hardly something you'd expect from somebody so selfish as her.
"Hey, slow it down will ya?!" She groans, taking a step closer. "If you choke and die, then what?"
"I won't choke and die, Chiyuri." She thinks up some of the strangest things, sometimes. You heft the bottle's weight in your hands. The liquid is unusually dark, unlike what you're accustomed to. What is it, you wonder? You pop the lid off and take a whiff of what's inside.
It's sweet, overpoweringly so. Certainly of an alcohol content you're sure had been banned ages ago. Where did she get this? You look to her, unsure of what exactly you want to say.
"I got a ton of it back home." She smiles, cheerfully as usual. "Gramps used to make the stuff, and.." She trails off, looking off into the room. "Well, don't tell anybody, but I'm pretty sure he still does."
"Consider us even, then." You reply, smiling yourself. "Thanks for the sandwich."
"You betcha!" You notice something else has caught her attention in the room. She's been here before, so what could possibly be-
"Got another chair around here?" Her eyes slowly turn themselves back in your direction. Oh, right. You should've noticed it from the start.
"In the corner." You're sure you had one. You guide her with your finger to the proper location, and watch silently as she pulls a fold-out chair out from behind one of the bookcases. You're not used to having guests in your office, so it's really all you have to spare.
She makes her way back to your desk, careful not to knock anything over. You're not too concerned about the things in here, but her thoughtfulness is appreciated. She sets the chair up next to yours, rather than at her previous position on the other side of the desk. Figures she'd want to be closer to you..
She takes her seat, and you find that the distance isn't as cramped or uncomfortable as you'd expected. You find a couple of glasses in the lower left-hand drawer, and hand one to her. She accepts it with haste, almost pulling it from your grip.
[ ] Have a drink. [ ] Don't have a drink. [ ] Fuck it, get trashed! [ ] This chair...
You can hardly contain yourself. You know it's probably a bad idea, but it's been a while since you last let loose. Your watch reads 17:11, just about mid-afternoon. Well, at least it's a good time to start, and not some odd hour like you'd thought it was. Time really has flown by since you stepped out of that greasy hangar..
You pour Chiyuri a drink first so as to be courteous. She offered the bottle after all, and even if you plan to drink the better half of it, fair's fair. You fill your own second, almost to the brim. Chiyuri eyes you with suspicion as if she wants to say something, but drops her gaze a moment later. You take a quick sip..
God, it burns! What is this poison?! You've never had anything so strong in your life! Now you can see what Chiyuri meant by choking and dying. The feeling subsides after a second or two, leaving a mild warm sensation in the back of your throat. Only then do you notice Chiyuri's grin.
"Too much for ya, eh?" She jabs you lightly with an elbow, drinking her own as if it were water. "Don't bite off more'n you can chew, boss."
Is.. she challenging you? You're sure of it! She couldn't possibly mean anything else! Of course, you can't let it go so easily! You won't--can't--forgive her talking down to you like this!
You stare into the glass in your hands, dreading what you're about to do. Actions speak louder than words, and in this case it's doubly so. You raise the glass carefully to your lips, trying not to breathe in any of the vapors coming off the top of it. God, you're a fool!
No, no, you can't do it! But she's staring right at you! You're not about to lose to this brat, not at something as simple as this! You take a moment to prepare yourself mentally as you slowly tip the glass backwards, allowing more of the liquid to pass through your lips.
The burning is unbearable! One, two, three gulps and all it does is get worse! The only thing keeping you from giving up now is your own willpower. Fuck Chiyuri, this is all you! You brought this upon yourself and now you're going to face the consequences like you properly should! But this time, the feeling doesn't subside. You almost drop the glass on the floor, coughing and wheezing, trying anything you can to get the burning to just go away!
"Du-don't.. *cough* und'r-underestimate me *cough* kuh-kid!" It hurts to talk, but you can't just say nothing after what you just pulled! You've got to be more dramatic about it! If it keeps up, you'll drink her into the ground if you have to!
"You alright boss?" A hand on your back. You don't want to be bothered to think of anything more. Is she trying to sound comforting? Because it's annoying!
You really did it this time, though. Did you drink the whole thing yourself? You can't remember, or don't want to remember. All you know is the burning started to lessen after the first hour.
"'m fine.." It's so embarrassing, you can't even talk right! Are you drunk? Surely that has to be it. "l'mme be.." You try to wave her off of you..
The next moment, you're lying flat on the floor. Why's the room spinning? You're starting to feel dizzy.. Just close your eyes and it'll all go away.. Just close your eyes, and..
"C'mon, let's get ya back to your room." Is she trying to help you up? It's not being very helpful. She's not being very helpful.
[ ] The stupid brat! She's really getting on your nerves! [ ] You're not drunk! You'll stand on your own! [ ] You can handle yourself just fine! [ ] Drink, ground.. Hah! You get it now!
You can't help but find it funny that you're the one on the floor right now, especially after that little quip you'd made earlier. Sure, you won in the end, but it still feels like you've lost.
And the room won't. stop. spinning!
"Ehehehehe~" You let out a lazy giggle, though you're unaware of what exactly you're laughing at. Chiyuri looks awfully worried, so maybe that's what did it. That face is really unlike her.
"What's so funny?" She asks dryly as she continues her attempts to help you up.
"Yer act'n all weird t'day, Chi-ch-ch.." You can't seem to get her name out right. Why does it have to be so hard to pronounce?! You end up substituting it with, "Ya little brat!"
"Right back at ya, boss." She doesn't so much as look annoyed. She really is behaving strangely, this unfettered kindness coming from her isn't normal at all!
Oh, hey, you're standing now! No, wait, you're falling over again. Chiyuri tries to stop you, but you only end up landing on her. Did she plan this out, too? Her expression tells you otherwise, and she tries to push you back up. But what is that strange sensation you're getting?
No, wait, scratch that. She really did plan this all out! Sure, she looks like she's trying to help, but then you notice her hands positioned firmly over your breasts, and..
"Hey!" Without the wherewithal to feel embarrassed, you simply brush her hands aside. Though you'd forgotten that was your only support, and you just fall right back down. You take a second to prop yourself back up. "Watch where yer touchin'!"
"Sorry.." She seems honest enough, but you've been through this before! "I'm really only trying to help!" Her defense is weak to begin with, and then you hear her mutter under her breath, "The fact it felt good is beside the point.."
"I herd that!" You can't even muster up the ability to speak properly, let alone stand. Still, you won't rely on her for help, especially not after that!
[ ] She's gone too far this time! [ ] Did she think she could get away with it?! [ ] You won't let her off the hook so easy! [ ] What the hell was she thinking?!
Did she actually think she could've gotten away with it? Like she actually expected you to not notice it? It's disgusting, but your mind is wholly consumed by the act of trying to stay standing. Damn, you really let your guard down!
"I'm sorry, boss! I really didn't mean to-" She takes a step forward, you stagger back.
"Don'cha fuckin' touch me!" You don't want her even near you! You won't give her the chance to do it again! The fact that she got away with it once is repulsive enough!
"B-but I.." She stammers, taking another step forward, and another, until you're hanging on the edge of the desk which has been your sole support up to this point.
"Jus-just get out!!" You yell, the sound loud enough in this small room to make your own ears ring.
The sound of your voice is followed by a pervasive silence. She says nothing, standing still just ahead of you. Her features look pained, and after what she did, you fell it's justly deserved.
Pensive seconds pass, and the next thing you notice is the door slamming behind her. She did exactly as you'd said, for once. Now where's the chair? You don't even want to go back to your own room tonight, not that you have the ability to begin with..
You yawn, trying to forget the past few minutes, and the events that occurred between them. It really started off so well, too. Maybe, Chiyuri really didn't intend to grab you like that. Maybe all she truly wanted to do was help you, and you'd just overreacted? Should you apologize?
Forget it. Nothing good is going to come out of making yourself feel guilty. Even so, you were a little hard on her. Then again, you're drunk. What else would--could you do? Sitting in this chair seems to make your mind work a little better. It's comfortable, and seems to relax you slightly. Eventually, you find yourself drifting off to sleep..
"Wha--?" You're jolted awake all of a sudden. What time is it.."
A siren? Is that it?
Yes, it's definitely a siren.
That's the master alarm!! What the Hell is going on?
[ ] Check the bridge. [ ] Check the engine room. [ ] Check the crew quarters. [ ] Check the main lab.
What set it off? Is there something wrong wit the probability drive? If you go to the bridge, you should be able to find out from the ship's log exactly what caused it. Rather than scouring the whole ship for an answer, you should go straight to the source! But this could be serious! You don't have time for a leisurely wake-up, and with even less time to praise yourself for such an ingenious idea, you're out the door in seconds.
From your office, the way to the bridge is clearly marked. An idiot could find it, provided they have eyes and a basic knowledge of the English language. You simply follow the red arrows marked 'BRIDGE' on the walls, saving your brain the stress of having to remember the proper route.
The siren continues to blare over the loudspeaker, creating a nasty ringing in your ears. It's so loud that even covering them won't alleviate the pain! Thankfully, you're a fast runner, with a high stamina to boot. You're already at the door, and you haven't even broken a sweat!
Chiyuri's already inside, working on one of the consoles. You call out to her, but she doesn't respond. "Shut it off!" You cry, but to no avail. She can't hear you over this noise! God, it's driving you mad! Can't you even have a moment's rest for once?!
The alarm halts, and the noise dissipates in an instant, leaving only the deafening ringing in your ears. Chiyuri looks to the ceiling, and then over to the door where you stand.
"Heya!" She smiles cheerfully as she greets you. Doesn't she remember what happened earlier, or how angry you were? Is her brain malfunctioning?! She doesn't seem to pay it any mind at all, and that only serves to further your confusion. You're certain it all happened, so why is she..
Never mind, it's not important right now. You've bigger things to worry about. First and foremost is to make sure the ship doesn't suddenly explode and take half the galaxy with it. "What's going on? Why did the alarm go off?"
"I'm lookin' into it." She turns back to the monitor as she enters a few more commands. By the looks of things, you have a little time before the mess is sorted out, so why don't you...
[ ] Have a look around. Make sure the ship is in good order. [ ] Talk to Chiyuri. You're worried about her. [ ] Talk to Chiyuri. Find out what happened. [ ] Check the security system. You might find something.
Of course, the security system! If the alarm was caused by an outside source, it should be caught on tape! Again, you congratulate yourself for another genius idea and move to the proper console.
It's tucked away in the room, almost hidden from view by a large display. You take a seat at the computer, the seating as uncomfortably utilitarian as you remember. A few quick keystrokes, and you're able to determine the exact time the alarm sounded. 01:42, it says. Is it really that late? You have no reason to doubt it, but the new-found knowledge makes you feel suddenly very, very tired. You should be asleep right now!
Putting yourself aside for a further moment, you quickly scan data taken at that time from the various surveillance systems around the ship. The lab, engine room, crew quarters, weapons bay.. They're all clear, with nothing unusual to note. Most importantly, the probability drive appears to be functioning normally. And you don't have a way to check the outside of the ship without actually going there yourself. It's absolutely inexcusable, even if you are only here for a short time. You only have yourself to blame. No sense laying that on Chiyuri, as well.
"Anything?" You ask, regrettably finding nothing yourself. You hope and pray she's had more luck..
"Uhh, says here something about a space-time anomaly." She taps the screen, her expression shows disbelief. Did the instruments read wrong?
"What kind?" You try to probe her for more information as you get up to move behind her. As you lean down to hover over her shoulder, you indeed see a mention of something to that extent listed in the ship's log, but there's nothing recorded on the instrument logs.. How could the ship's computer--with absolutely no sensory equipment whatsoever--detect something like that, while a machine specifically built for that purpose did not?
"You're guess is as good as mine, boss." She finally replies, still trying to locate some source to the problem. This isn't going to be as easy as you thought..
"Maybe it's an error?" You ask, directing the question more towards yourself than to Chiyuri. If it is an error, that would make the most sense. Then, you have to face the fact that there's less than a trillion-to-one chance that such an error could possibly occur, and the though crumbles under the weight. It couldn't possibly be an error! The sheer probability of such a thing to happen is--
That's it! It has to be!
[ ] There's something wrong with the probability drive! [ ] Somebody's messing with the probability drive system! [ ] You didn't think of it before! The probability drive is switched on! [ ] You need to turn the probability drive off, now!
You need to get down to the engine room! Standing around here waiting for answers is taking up too much time! If there's something seriously wrong with it..
You don't even want to think about that possibility! "Wait here!" You call to Chiyuri as you dash out of the room. Your mind can only focus on one thing--the probability drive, and the dreadful possibility that it could be breaking down. You couldn't possibly imagine the horrors it would create if it were to break, and the fact that it's provided power is the life-blood of this ship makes it all the more imperative that you fix it--or shut it down.
The fact that you're still here, able to feel your own shortness of breath, is proof enough that such is not the case. Not yet. You take solace in your current continued existence, and hope to God that it lasts beyond today. You're own two legs continue to propel you towards the engine bay, and what lies beyond that door could determine your future as a scientist, and as a normal human being. "Please let it be okay!"
A pair of heavy, steel blast doors bar your movement further. A usual precaution, nothing out of the ordinary. Beside the clean, yellow and black-painted seam cleanly distinguishing the doors as two parts lies a console, embedded in the metal and covered by a locked metal enclosure.
You have the key on a chain around your neck, and you take care of the lock with ease. Now, if only you could remember the pass code.. You enter the first four-digit number into the system.
It's good, a light above the number keypad goes green as the first lock releases. Now for the second.. What was it? What was it?! God, can't you remember?! At a time like this, and all you can do is draw up blanks?! You have to remember!!
The number lingers in the back of your mind, where it's faintly recognizable but just beyond your capacity to reach. If you can just get that first digit!
"One.." You're sure it was the number one! Something so simple shouldn't impede your progress so much! As you type in the digit, muscle memory takes over. Your hand types in the remaining three almost autonomously.
The second light goes green, and the door produces a slight hiss as the air around you rushes through the cracks. The huge metal slabs labor to roll open, the light from the outside casting a shadowed silhouette of yourself into the room beyond.
The clean, white, spherical room that houses the probability drive, and it's peripherals is dimly lit as usual. The lights should kick on in a second..
The fluorescent lights sputter and flicker to life, revealing all. The room is undamaged, and you can hear the faint humming of the active drive system. A tubular, metallic shaft extends from ceiling to floor; the drive itself. Before it stands a woman, dressed almost entirely in red. Golden hair flows in waves down over her shoulders, and her halcyon, same-colored eyes slowly turn themselves to you.
"Greetings, seer of dreams." She smiles.
[ ] "...What?" [ ] "Who the hell are you?" [ ] "What are you doing on my ship?" [ ] "You're not supposed to be in here." [ ] "You shouldn't touch that." [ ] Write-in.
So she's the cause of all of this? Who is she, how did she get here, why hasn't she been torn apart by the drive's magnetic field, what did she mean by "seer of dreams"? You find yourself suddenly plagued with questions, but only a few of them are truly worth asking.
"Who the hell are you?" You demand to know. You don't recognize her, though you're sure you'd remember her face had you met before. Her features are smooth, elegant you could say. Her beauty is stunning, almost otherworldly.
"What you seek lies not in this world." She replies, her voice smooth as silk.
"What the hell are you doing on my ship?!" You demand, this time more strongly. She's not listening to your questions, is she?!
She performs an elaborate bow. "Your audience has been requested, and should you feel obliged to seek us out, you shall be well rewarded in turn."
"Wha..?" Requested by who?! Her message is cryptic, and you can't seem to quite grasp her meaning. She takes a step backwards, closer to the drive core. That's dangerous! If she touches it, she'll--
"Get away from there!!" You rush forward on impulse, you've got to stop her! A wall of air stops you cold in your tracks. The gravity field won't allow you to advance! Another step back, and she falls into the machine. You wince, expecting the worst.
But it never comes. You open your eyes, finding no blood, no scent of charred flesh, and no shredded body of the woman who stood there a second prior. It's as if she just faded into the machine..
"What was that...?" You mumble to yourself. It's baffling, and you could obsess over her words for hours. "An audience.." You find yourself thinking more and more, until you reach the unavoidable dead end in your train of thought.
In the end, who requested you is the most important point to you. She didn't specify a name, but from her words you get the feeling you won't find the person in this world. With an infinite number of possibilities in front of you, you begin to run a check on the machine.
Minutes later, you're satisfied to find that there's nothing wrong with it. You return to the bridge in silence, pondering the words of the woman who may not have existed at all.
[ ] Keep walking back to the bridge. [ ] You're tired, go to your room instead.
Your feet carry you onward, while your mind is far too focused on other things. You're tired, but you can't go to sleep. At least, not yet.
Another door opens automatically in front of you, and you find yourself back where you started--the bridge. Chiyuri is nowhere to be found. You breathe a heavy sigh, certain that she's gone back to her room to sleep. It's late, and the problem seems to have been solved. You wonder if the woman appeared on the security monitors..
Nothing. You search each recording from the time the alarm sounded to now. You see yourself and her in the probability drive core during the events that just transpired, but there's no sign of her intrusion. She appeared just as she had disappeared. It's all too strange..
Still, a part of you would like to catch her and study her. How exactly she could teleport like that could only be explained by magic! She may have known more about you than you'd be comfortable with. Her mention of "what you seek" could only mean your investigation of magic, and maybe the "reward" could be somehow related. If that's the case, you should try to seek her out, and whoever else wants to meet you.
But that's something you'll have to save for later. It's hardly past 2 in the morning, and you're exhausted.. Thinking any more about it makes your head throb and ache, and working in this state is becoming far too difficult for you. You leave the bridge behind and begin the walk back to your room.
It feels great to be back in your own bed! This time, you've remembered to set the thermostat, so you shouldn't have to wake up to a frigid room like today.. Your clothes lay strewn across the room, a result of your desire for sleep. It's an unusual feeling, but the lack of your usual nightgown isn't exactly unpleasant. You feel naked without it, and the lights are still on, but you're too tired to care..
[ ] Write-in dream sequence.
Note: Same format as GiG, for those who've read it. For those who haven't, choose a number between 1 and 1000, and pick a subject for a dream sequence. The winning vote (with the number closest to one I've chosen) will generally be written regardless of content, so long as the write-in is somewhat story-related.
Your own room. You're sure that's where you are right now, but it just doesn't feel like it. Sure, you recognize the scenery, but the smell--the feel--it's all wrong!
"Hehe~" A familiar voice, and an even more familiar laugh.. You recognize it as Chiyuri, but as you sit up, you can't seem to find her anywhere in the room. Are you hearing things?
"Chiyuri?" You call out, "Where are you?" Then, you feel something stirring beside you.
"Down here." Her head pops out from under the covers. Why is she in your bed?!
"What are you doing?" You ask, trying your hardest to keep your voice at a commanding tone. The harsh, demanding sound of your own voice contradicts your own state of mind, and you feel like all the blood in your body has moved to your face. It's embarrassing, having her see you like this!
But you can't help but feel that there's something wrong with you. The sensation of her body lying next to you isn't exactly unpleasant.. The way her hands gently brush against your thighs, the exotic scent of her hair.. you've never known this side of her. She's always been the little brat you can't get rid of, and not somebody you could hold a serious relationship with. It's all happening so fast!
"Nothing." She giggles, wrapping her arms slowly around your neck. The weight of her body as she pulls herself closer forces you to lay back down. "Yumi's blushing~"
Deny it as you want, you're completely aware of it. You are blushing. You've never been this close to another woman before, and as strange and awkward as it feels, you're enjoying it.
"I knew you'd come around eventually." She smiles, leaning her head in close. You don't try to fight it. You're not entirely sure of the reason, but you just want her close like this. Her body is light, and though you could easily push her off, you don't. Instead, your hands begin to feel around almost involuntarily, searching for her under the covers. You find her feet first, and draw a line with your hands up her body across curves you never thought she had. Save for a pair of panties, she's naked just like you.
"Mmmmm.." You moan, pleasured by the sensation of her hands squeezing your breasts. It hurt and enraged you before, so why does it feel so good now? You don't bother to question it. Your hands find her small butt, her hips are thin enough that you can almost wrap your hands around them. She seems so frail with such a body, but she's being so vigorous.
"That does it!" She yells, breaking the mood. "C'mere, you!" She smiles widely, throwing her arms around your shoulders once again. Her head drops in closer to yours. You can feel her breath, hear her quiet moans as you squeeze and massage her body, and feel the light pressure of her lips against hers.. You want her to continue, you want more!
"Chiyuri!" You yell, forcing yourself up to embrace her fully.
But she's not there. You're in your room, alone, and 100% awake. You take a quick look around, now certain that you'd just witnessed the strangest dream you've ever had in your entire life. It's simply amazing how a dream can warp one's sense of self. You don't feel that way at all!
"Aaagh!" You scratch at your head, as if trying to claw the thought from your mind. You're a normal, ordinary, straight girl and no stupid dream is going to tell you otherwise!
Your watch reads 10:32, still morning. You've overslept a bit, but considering the fiasco last night, it wasn't unforeseeable. Even more important is the room's temperature; it's not freezing this morning, and you're able to get out of bed without hesitation.
Wait, where is your nightshirt? Did you lose it?
No, wait, you never wore one to bed last night. How could you forget? You were in such a hurry, you'd--
"Ahh!" What is this mess?! Your clothes are everywhere! You curse yourself silently as you begin to gather them together. The pile is thrown into a wash chute, and without any worries you head off mostly naked to the showers just down the hall.
Chiyuri's already there, a surprising coincidence. Or is it?
You can clearly see her through the semi-transparent glass door. She's just standing around, scrubbing away at herself, and completely oblivious to your even having walked in. You decide to take this chance to undress, or finish undressing considering your current attire. Of the four open stalls, with Chiyuri occupying the fifth left-most one, you choose the second one down from her. Close enough for conversation, but not too close for comfort.
As you open the shower door, her head jolts up. From where you stand, you can only see the top of her head over the barrier walls, but you're certain she knows you're there.
"Good morning, Chiyuri." You say with a groan as you flick the water on. Moments later, you add with a grin, "You're looking awful naked today."
"'Morning boss. Didn't hear ya come in." She laughs, you expect she's amused by your use of that same stupid line she blurted out yesterday. "Sleep well?"
"Ahh, err.." The vision of that dream forces it's way into your mind. The sensation of her warm bare skin, the feel of her kiss.. The scalding hot water.. Wait, that wasn't-- "Ahh!" You scream, just realizing you'd rested your arm on the hot water knob. Really, what's wrong with you today? You just can't stop thinking about it!
"You okay?" Chiyuri's voice inquires to your left.
"Water's too hot.." You reply, reaching to adjust it back down a bit more.
"If you say so." She seems suspicious, though this really isn't too far from your usual behavior.. "So how's about a break in the usual routine today, eh?" She asks, her voice suddenly full of the usual spunk.
"How about it?" You're not exactly sure what she has in mind, but it shouldn't hurt to ask. "What do you have in mind?"
"Pff-What?!" You sputter. You weren't expecting her to say something like that! And here you are still worried about that dream, where you should be more worried about the real one! "Have you lost your mind?!"
"Hehe~" She giggles, loudly and obviously so you can hear it. "I'm just playin' around." You can practically feel the grin on her face. "But really, why don't we go outside today?"
[ ] Sure, sounds like fun. [ ] No, you have work to do.
"Hmmm.." You take a second to think about it. Sure, you'd like to, but is it possible she has some ulterior motives? Well, you'll just have to deal with things as they come. No use sitting around indoors if you can't get any work done. "Sure, why not." You finally reply, figuring a change from the usual daily grind would be beneficial.
"Hooray!" She yells, throwing her hands up in the air and running out of the stall. She seems entirely too excited, and you can't help but stare as she runs into the next room, nearly slipping along the way. You feel no different, watching her like this. That dream must not have muddled your thoughts so much as you'd expected. The earlier burst of hot water served to awaken you fully, and you feel absolutely normal.
You look forward to a day out, though you've no idea what you'll do with the time. Should you go to town, or should you not? What about work? Should you do a bit of research while you're out, or keep it a strictly personal occasion? You'll figure it out eventually, but for now you concentrate on washing yourself. You don't want to waste a minute longer in here! You hurry to finish and follow Chiyuri into the next room.
She's already left, and you dress yourself in peace. Again, it's the usual red skirt and white blouse. You decide to do away with the vest and tie today, since this isn't a planned business venture. You wonder is Chiyuri's dressed town, too?
Moving to the next order of business, your hair is still a mess. There's a mirror in here, so you take the time to pretty yourself up a bit. You normally wouldn't bother with such things, and you feel a little awkward staring at yourself like this, but you work quickly to finish.
A quick once-over to make sure you didn't miss anything, and you head out the door, satisfied with yourself. Chiyuri's waiting in the hall, everything the same as usual. You're only slightly disappointed.
"Ready to go?" She asks with a smile. She doesn't waste any time, does she?
"Yep, you?" You reciprocate the question, silently trying to judge for yourself who exactly is more excited to get out of this ship. It's been quite some time since you've left it for purposes other than work..
"As I'll ever be!" She grabs your hand, egging you onward down the hall. "C'mon, let's go!"
[ ] Let her lead you around. [ ] Go sight-seeing (Specify location). [ ] Head to the village.
"Alright, alright!" You simply can't fight her eagerness. "Don't pull on my arm."
"Well hurry it up then!" She demands, though willing to comply with your own. She releases her grip on your wrist, and without so much as a look back in your direction, she storms off down the hall.
But.. The hangar is the other way.. Wait, she doesn't plan on walking the whole way, does she?
"Chiyuri!" You call out while she's still able to hear you. It's got to be ten miles to the village! You're not about to walk that far on a whim! "We're taking the car!" But even though you call it a 'car', it's more of an armored tank than anything.
"Eh?" She turns back all of a sudden, her foolishly giddy mood shining through to her expression. What's with that stupid-looking smile? "The car?" She rushes back over to you faster than she'd walked away. "We're driving?"
"I'm driving." You correct her. "You're still too young to drive." You notice as you speak, that pleasant mood of hers begins to fade. Did she honestly think you'd let her drive that five-ton mammoth?
"I am too old enough!" She stamps her foot, adding emphasis to her already childish rebuttal.
"So you are. But you're still not driving." You won't deny it. She's recently turned 16, though she's been out here with you since then, and hasn't returned to acquire a proper license. Sure, she might have some experience, but not with a tank! "I'm willing to make a compromise, though." You add, before she can retaliate or complain. Now she's the one holding everything up! "Let's go."
"..Fine." You notice her mumbling something to herself, but you pay it no mind. It's probably some sort of personal insult regarding the color of your hair or eyes again.. She follows you the rest of the way to the hangar in silence, destroying any last shred of the jovial mood she'd built up prior.
Once inside the hangar, she seems to brighten up again. She stands by the car door, patiently waiting for you to unlock it. You step inside first, taking the pilot's seat. A quick reconfigure of the ship's modular seating makes it seem more like a passenger vehicle, and once satisfied with the arrangements, you reach over to let her in.
"Really, of all the things they put in this thing.." She slams the passenger-side door shut, smiling as she talks quietly. "Why didn't they think to put in some power locks?"
"It's a tank Chiyuri. Tanks don't have power locks." You reply dryly, though she does bring up a good point. It does seem to be missing a lot of basic electronic devices like that. "Now then, where would you like to go?"
"You heard me." You don't feel like repeating yourself, especially since you know she heard you the first time. "You choose." A quick push of a button, and the platform on which the vehicle sits begins to lower. From the cracks, daylight pours into the room, and it's only a moment until the vehicle is lowered to the ground.
"Hmm.." Chiyuri ponders her option as the engine roars to life. The sound is sudden, deafening, and your immediate knee-jerk reaction is to switch it to silent mode. With the push of a button, the sound dies down. Startled, you uncover your ears as the visuals flicker to life.
"God.." You sigh, feeling your anxiousness subside as you do.
"Gets me every time too." Chiyuri seems to have noticed your discomfort, and not surprisingly, shares it. "So yeah, I dunno. How's about we go to the village like usual? The folks there are fun enough."
[ ] "Alright, sounds fair enough." [ ] "Can't you think of anything else?" [ ] "On second thought, I'll choose." [ ] "Just don't get in trouble this time."
"Again?" She always wants to go to the village.. "I'd have been fine with somewhere quieter. You know, just the two.. of.." You know that look of hers.. Best silence yourself before you say something you'll regret. "What?"
"'Just the two of' what now?" She snickers, mocking you. "You were saying something?"
"The village is fine." You reply, now absolutely sure that sharing any more of that thought would only serve to snare you right in her clutches. "We're going to the village."
Before she can reply, you set the vehicle in drive and floor it. The sudden jump is enough to send her flying back into her seat, and the vehicle slides off the ramp and onto the dirt ahead. The ramp retracts automatically as it recognizes that the vehicle is no longer on it.
"Waaaah!!" She yells, holding her hat firmly to her head despite the vehicle being completely enclosed. "Oh jeez, I'm gonna die! I'm gonna die!!" God, she's really overreacting! You stop the vehicle just long enough for her to gather her nerves.
"Oh, come on. It's not all that bad!" You give her a light slap on the shoulder, just enough pressure to make her notice it.
"Oh jeez!" She stammers, "I forgot how bad you suck at driving! Oh shit, I'm gonna die!"
"I am not that bad of a driver!" You're a fine driver! She's just overreacting, but maybe you should slow it down a bit anyway. Maybe all the bumps of driving off-road are getting to her..
"Tree!" She yells, covering her head with one arm in terror and pointing to the visuals with the other. "TREE!!"
"I see it, I see it.." You dodge it easily, despite having the knowledge that this vehicle could easily plow it over. You're still thankful for the path through the forest. It doesn't take you the whole way to the village, but you're able to cover most of the distance by way of it. Chiyuri eventually settles down, though you can't help but notice her one hand firmly gripping the door frame.
The pathway ends in a small clearing about a half-mile from the village. Normally, you'd bring a few backpacks when you come up to shop around, but today is a free day, so you'd left the packs back on the ship. As soon as you shut it off, Chiyuri flops out through the passenger side door and just lays in the grass for a good minute or two.
"Stand up, will you!?" You demand, still getting the feeling that she's overreacting. "You're still alive, aren't you?"
"And I thank my lucky stars for it.." You hear her mumble, still face-down in the grass. "Thank you, God, for letting me live to see another day! Thank you!"
"Stand up already! It's unhealthy." You just want her up because it looks bad. You lock the vehicle and head over to her side. Oh, she's actually sitting up now. "What are you-"
"Shhh.." She whispers, holding a finger to her lips with a grim look in her eye as she slowly lowers her body back down to the earth.
[ ] "...What?" [ ] "Stand up already." [ ] "Enough playing around." [ ] "See something interesting?"
"See something interesting?" You ask. Jeez, what the hell is she doing? It's almost as bad as her screaming in the car!
"Shhh.. Can you see it?" She asks, pointing behind where you stand. You probably shouldn't, but you turn around to face whatever it could be she sees. You hear her mutter something to herself. You're beginning to get the feeling that there's something very wrong with the situation..
"I don't see anything." You strain your eyes, looking past the clearing and into the forest beyond. "What am I looking for?" Nothing, save for a few small birds in the treetops, catches your attention.
"Strawberries.." She mutters, the grass rustling behind you.
"Wha-?" You don't see any--
Wait, she's not--
"I didn't think you the type, boss." She groans with a sort of disappointment, stretching her arm up to rest a hand on your shoulder. "Really, print panties, at your age? Damn shame.." She wags a finger in your face. "Nice ass, though. Firm, supple, yet sqeezable." A grin. "You know, I still can't figure out why you're still single."
"..." Hit her! Hit her! HIT HER! Every bone in your body, every nerve impulse, they all tell you the same thing. Hit her, kick her, strangle her, do anything so long as it hurts her! Why you don't reach out and kill her is beyond even you, for you have every reason in the world to do it! Maybe you're just stunned by the suddenness of it all. You didn't expect her to say anything like that!
"Boss?" She seems nervous, as if she'd expected you to hit her! Why would she want you to hit her? Is she a masochist, too? As if her rampant lesbian tendencies weren't bad enough! "Aren't ya gonna.."
"No. No, I won't." You reply, almost unwillingly. Forget touching her, you just want her gone! It's hardly even been five minutes! You've barely even walked past the car! What a day this is turning out to be!
Normally, you'd just whack her and pay it no further mind. But this, this took it just one step too far! Sure, she was looking up your skirt. Normally you'd think nothing of it, she does it all the time. But her words--what she said makes you feel.. Disgusted. It was personal.
[ ] Hit her. Try to ignore it. [ ] Leave her. You'll go on alone. [ ] She wants to know? Tell her. [ ] Make her feel jealous.
You sigh, hoping to simply breathe out these feelings of anger you hold inside. It doesn't subside, something still lingers in the back on your mind. She wanted to know why you were still single..
"It's not like I want to be.." Your mouth moves, though you barely even register it. Your mind is clouded. You find yourself thinking about your past life at the academe, your hopes and your dreams, the people you thought were your friends, how it all collapsed during that one moment when you proposed that theory. You've tried not to remember, but with Chiyuri's words it's all come bubbling back up to the surface.
"You know, I wanted a relationship, once. Back when I was just like anybody else.." You continue, heeding neither Chiyuri's disconcerting stares, nor even your own will to silence yourself. "It's funny, how quickly people change."
"Boss, I.." She tries to interrupt, though she can't even get the words out. She looks so worried, so confused, so much like yourself.
"One moment I'm just some average girl, and the next, everyone thinks I'm insane!" More bad memories, more faces you'd like to forget. Desperation drives you, and you turn to Chiyuri for support. "You don't think I'm insane, do you?"
She stares back at you unprepared, surprised. She didn't expect you to go off like this, but you can't blame her. You hadn't expected yourself to act in such an unsightly manner, either. You just can't seem to stop yourself.
"Yeah," She smiles, unsure of herself. "I do."
"See?!" You yell, throwing your arms out in a fit of emotion. Even her.. You wish she'd lied, to tell you what you wanted to hear. It hurts.. Damn her honesty! Damn it to Hell! "Even you think that way!" How can you stay strong when the only person you know in this world doesn't believe you?! "I'm not crazy!"
"Of course you're not." She tries to reassure you. "You're not crazy at all." A smile. She tries to make it seem honest, but her own unease shows through it. "You just worry too much."
Where does she get off?! She's trying to sound cool, trying to be better than you!! All while making that phony smile! "I worry too much?" You scoff at the idea! "My reputation.." No, more than that, "My life is at stake, here!" You find yourself growing more and more upset as time wears on. "Don't you tell my I 'worry too much'!"
"Boss, that's not what I--"
"I know what you meant!" You hiss, "I don't have time for this! I have work to do!" You need to get away from all this, before you simply break down where you stand. An excuse is fine, you want out of here!
Before you realize it, you find yourself seated back in the car, alone. You have the engine on, all ready to drive back. The feelings of hurt and anger won't subside.
[ ] Let it out. You can't keep it buried forever. [ ] Calm down, get out of the car. [ ] Go back to the ship alone. [ ] Hide it. You need to stay strong.
Hate, rage, anger, sadness, despair. The feeling just keep growing and growing with each passing minute. Dwelling on it makes you feel just that much worse, but you don't have the capacity to stop yourself. All those emotions just keep building up, and eventually, they just boil over.
You don't try to fight it. Scream, yell, and cry as you like, you take solace in the fact that nobody can hear you in here. When you feel like hitting something, you beat the controls. If you want to scream, you scream. There's nobody but you to stop you, and you just simply let it all flow out in one moment of catharsis.
It takes a while until you're able to gather your wits about you. Your eyes sting and your throat hurts, and a reflection in the view-screen reveals your miserable state. You look terrible, but you feel so much better that it hardly bothers you. Your eyes are red, your hair is a mess, and the dash has a crack in it that wasn't there before, but for some reason you just don't care. You just want to get back outside for some fresh air.
But to do that would mean to face Chiyuri, something you're not quite yet ready to do. In turn, you end up sitting for a few more minutes in the car with the doors closed. You don't want her to see you like this.. God, you're sobbing like a baby.
But you'll have to do it eventually. You can't just leave her out there! Even if you are in this miserable sort of state, you can't help but feel worried about her. Minutes pass, and the redness in your eyes still won't go away. You don't want to keep her out there by herself any longer, and before you can think up another reason to stay here, you kick the door open.
For the second time today, you set foot on the damp, grass-covered earth. You take a deep breath, and let the air back out all at once. The cool air feels good, refreshing.
"Thirty-seven minutes." You hear Chiyuri's voice coming from the top of the vehicle. You turn around, finding her sitting atop it, straddling the gun barrel of the main cannon between her legs. "You've been in there for thirty seven minutes."
You don't know what to say. You watch, speechless, as she hops off the cannon and climbs down to the ground in front of you.
"All I did was look up your skirt. Damn, you're one sensitive broad!" She grins, widely and playfully as usual.
"Wha-" Can't she take a hint? Doesn't she know when to stop?! Just when you started to feel better, she lights the second fuse! Well that does it! For all you care she can stay out here and--
"Relax boss!" The smile drops from her face as her hand grazes your cheek. The sudden warmth on your face surprises you, pulling you back from another pit of anger. "Just tryin' to lighten the mood."
"You're not doing a very good job.." You welcome the contact. It's proof to you that she truly and honestly cares about you. Right now, she's the only one you have who can give you that.
"Yeah, I figured that." She smiles, not her usual grin but something more sincere--the same smile she tried to make before, now clearer and free of doubt. "I won't say I know what you're goin' though, or that I'll believe any of those crackpot theories 'a yours, but I'm always there if ya need me."
"Thanks.." There she goes, trying to be the cool one again. "..But no thanks. Something tells me you're not the kind of person whose shoulder I can cry on." You smile, rubbing the palm of your hand into the top of her head.
"Hehe~" She giggles, closing an eye as her blonde hair begins to come loose. She swats your hand away lightly, returning to her usual boisterous state. "Well, how's about a partner in bed, then? All that workin' with the ship's machines 's made me good with my hands."
"Tempting.." You smile and laugh. "Not on your life, kid." You wonder, maybe she's better at this than you thought. You're back in high spirits, feeling like you're able to forget the last few moments of your life. Her previous failure must've been a ruse, considering the mood has very much been lightened.
"Damn. You're one tough egg to crack." She wags a finger at you. "One 'a these days boss. One 'a these days I'll make ya mine!" Her hand drops back to her side, and she turns back to face the vehicle. "So you still wanna head back? We got the whole day ahead of us."
[ ] Go to the village as planned. [ ] Go back to the ship. [ ] Stay here and talk. [ ] Do something else.
"We certainly do." You reply, choosing to ignore the rest of her sentence. "We've already come out this far, and I'd hate to spoil it."
"So.." Chiyuri furrows her brow. You don't know if she's confused, or if it's just one of her idiosyncratic behaviors. "The village then?"
"Of course." You smile.
Since you're not heading back, you'll have to secure the vehicle again. You double-check to make sure all the doors are locked, and that nobody can get inside through the emergency hatch on the top. Of course, you doubt anybody would be able to start it once inside, but it doesn't hurt to be thorough. Chiyuri, on the other hand, holds none of the same cares you do. She waits patiently, but you can already tell she's bubbling with excitement. Once you're satisfied, it's time to head off!
The walk is just as you last remember it. At the end of the clearing, you find a small dirt path. Too narrow for the tank, but just wide enough for a single-file line of people. It twists and winds through the forest over a relatively flat terrain. The walk is easy, and as the trees begin to disperse the path widens to form a flat dirt road, and you start to see more signs of human activity. It's mostly rice fields, but they do count as 'human activity'.
Several of the farm workers are already outside, working on whatever. You've never actually spoken with any of them, though they tend to steer clear of you for some reason. You expect it's the way you're dressed, considering that most of them wear something like what you'd find in historical illustrations. The whole village seems a little backwards, as if you'd stepped through a time warp a couple thousand years into the past.
Further down the road, you pass by a few houses made of mostly wood. What you find most noticeable are the antiquated thatched roofs that seem to dominate much of the houses' designs. Further still, and the scenery changes yet again. The houses appear more modern with cleaner styling, and the road splits into two. You take the left path as usual, knowing that it'll lead you into the village. You've no idea where the other takes you.
The streets appear quieter today, though it comes as no real surprise. Over the months you've spent working were, you've learned that the village has a sort of schedule for market days which relies on the phases of the moon. Today, of course, is not one of the scheduled market days, so you'll likely see no street vendors open for business.
You only pass by the first house, and you hear the unmistakable shrill screeching of a whistle. Of course, it's gotta be directed at you. Turning around, you come face-to-face with the only person in this village you actually speak to on a fairly regular basis, though you're still not quite sure who she is..
A woman, nearly as tall as yourself, with dark, reddish-hued hair stands before you. Why she stops you every time like this, you haven't the slightest. She refers to herself as a police officer, but seems to be a member of the local nobility. All you truly do know is that she happened aboard your ship one day, and you sent her packing in a hurry. She seems to have had it in for you ever since.
"You there!" She barks, pointing something reminiscent of a sword in your direction. The edge is dull, though, more like a nightstick. "Don't move!"
"Situation's reversed, boss." Chiyuri smirks, raising her hands as if to indicate surrender. "Uhh, what did she say again?"
"'I'm not moving', wasn't it?" You find yourself smiling as well. Surely, that was the same line this woman used when Chiyuri held her up in the ship's loading bay.
[ ] Ask what she wants. [ ] Ask her to leave you alone. [ ] Ask her for a duel. [ ] Ask about the village.
But contrary to your words, you are moving. Away, and rather quickly at that. If it's at all possible, you'd like to avoid speaking with her. After all, you know exactly what's going to happen. She'll tell you to get out of town, and then you'll ask why. She'll tell you something about creatures called youkai and claim that you're one of them, and you'll have to explain to her that you're just a normal human. She won't buy it, and you'll have wasted a good ten minutes of precious time trying to back up your claim.
So, rather than face the hassle, you grab Chiyuri and run into the nearest alley. Strangely enough, she doesn't follow.
"Boss, what're you doing?!" Chiyuri wrenches free from your grip, her face a mess of confusion.
"Running away." You reply, a simple explanation ought to do well enough for her. "I don't want to get caught up in that."
"Heh," She grins, looking back to the main road you just stepped off of. She seems to understand exactly what's running through your mind. "I can see yer point, but.." She arduously raises her arm, pointing back to the entrance to the alley. Your eyes follow her arm in that direction, half expecting what you're about to see.
Oh, great. There she is again! The strange woman who calls herself Kotohime stands just outside the alley. You'd move to hide, but you're sure she's already spotted you. You'd also expect her to come after you, but she's just standing there, arms crossed, and staring straight down the alley. It's like she's waiting for you to come back out!
This town seems like it was set up as part of some bad action movie. The houses on either side tower over you, blocking out sunlight to much of the alley, and a third house blocks the other side. The alley is a dead end, and the only way out is being guarded by that woman. Well that's just great..
"Ugh.." You groan, trying to formulate in your head a way out of this. "What are we gonna do.."
"Ya know," Chiyuri thumbs at the woman. "You could just try to talk to it."
'It', she says. Like this woman is some kind of inanimate object in that blonde head of Chiyuri's. The mental image you get of a scare-crow mock-up of the woman standing in her place forces a giggle out of you. In any case, she's got a point. You'd rather not spend all day down some garbage-filled alley. It's hardly a suitable place for someone like yourself.
"Guess we should go back and say 'hi'.." You sigh and shrug, begrudgingly accepting your fate. You trudge forward, kicking something vaguely reminiscent of an aluminum can from your path. You get a strange feeling that there's something strange about it, but you simply shrug off the thought.
"You there!" The woman calls out again, ignoring the fact that you'd blown her off only a matter of minutes prior. "State your business!"
[ ] You're just here for sightseeing. [ ] You're just passing through. [ ] You have business to attend to. [ ] Let Chiyuri do the talking.
[x] Let Chiyuri do the talking. [x] This can. This can. This can. This can. This can. This can. This can. This can. This can. This can. This can. This can. This can. This can. This can. This can. This can. This can. This can. This can!