I don’t want to set the world on fire; I just want to start a flame in your heart.
War. War never changes. At the dawn of civilization, when our ancestors finally discovered themselves alone in this world, without predator or rival, they became faced with a quandary. For what now would they do with what that which had ensured their survival in the wild, the ability to fashion weapons from their environment, as natural for them to use as the owl its talons and the wolf its fangs? So, with no other target, they would turn their spears on each other. At all stages of history, we can define progress of humanity not in the development of the sciences, medicine, arts, or culture, but by the ever increasing capacity to kill. Though the will to survive was itself not lost, mankind would develop ever an ever growing lexicon of terms that could be used to separate themselves from the other humans more deserving of death—tribe, nation, class, race, creed. In the year 2077, in the ultimate culmination of arbitrary justifications for violent conflict, the humans of Earth, and the Lunarians, a label given to humans of her moon, Luna, would declare war on each other over a single flag, planted unassumingly over a century earlier. It is not agreed upon by Wasteland scholars who struck first, but what is known is that that retaliation on either side was total. Thus the Earth and her moon, after a momentary flash of light, were plunged into an era of unparalleled darkness.
But it was not, as some had predicted, the end of the world. Instead, the apocalypse was simply the prologue to another bloody chapter of history. Man had succeeded in destroying himself, yes, but there were yet other forces in this world ready to take up the reins of violence. Whether they were a product of mutation after bombs fells, whether they had been bioengineered tools of war—super-soldiers created to resist the deleterious effects of battlefield radiation—or whether they had always existed and were just now no longer content to hang on the fringes of man’s consciousness, the theories are as numerous as the forms they would take, and these meta-humans, known in the present day Gensokyo Wasteland as youkai, were all too willing to fill the gap left by humanity’s destruction. Regeneration, the ability to go without food or water indefinitely, monstrous strength, and even more wondrous powers, flight and seeming magic—like their mundane predecessors these beings would quickly learn to bend their abilities towards any who opposed them, including each other. And so… war, war never changes.
Even though a portion of humanity was to escape the terrible destructive power of the bombs themselves, the widespread extinction of terrestrial life and the poisoning of the air and water had serious ramifications for even the most sheltered of communities. Early in the year 2076 C.E., in preparation for the worst, the powers of the cloistered micronation of Gensokyo, located coterminously with what was then known as the State of Japan (a provisional member to the United States of America), decided to commission the Vault-Tec company (a wholly owned subsidiary of Yakumo Industries) to build a series of underground shelters designed to safeguard its small population. Ten years after their internment, the “Vaults” were due to reopen, but when their inhabitants emerged they had only the hell of the wastes to greet them.
All, except those in Vault ⑨. For on the fateful day when fire rained from the sky, the giant steel door of Vault ⑨ slid closed and never reopened... for over two hundred years. It was here you were born, and it is here you will die, because in Vault ⑨, no one ever enters, and no one ever leaves.
Canvassing for interest in a Fallout CYOA. Things seem slow enough here to put this here, but if anyone feels strongly about it, Anon can move it to /other/. This would be a story written by Anonymous, so if the author gets hit by a bus, or if another Anon merely feels the updates are coming too slow, any other Anonymous might take the reins at any time (and if they decide to take up the challenge, Godspeed them). Anon has some of the character creation & introduction written out already, but hesitates to write more since votes tend to diverge from one’s expectations. If you are interested in a post-apocalyptic CYOA but haven’t played the game, I suggest you buy (or pirate) it for yourself as an early Christmas present, or at the very least check out the Fallout Wikia:
>>71945 >Also, fuck you if you decide to make the ending a happy one.
Anon subscribes to the theory that there is no victory in war, only varying degrees of defeat, and to not properly cover the scope of atrocity inherent in its practice... Well now, that would be downright irresponsible of him, wouldn't it?
Shadow Over Gensokyo in /others/ sets the bar for GRIMDARK in my book. Just throw in some kitschy 50s swank, and we're good to go, right?
You’re up looking at a woman seated at a massive podium. Noise is coming somewhere to your right, outside your field vision. You cannot see much of the woman (whether this is because you’re too short or she’s too short, you cannot tell), just her face, her coordinating white & navy outfit, and the ceremonial crown atop her head. Hunched over whatever it is that she’s reading with such intensity, you see enough to note that her short green hair frames her face nicely, that her reading glasses make her blue eyes look larger than they really are, and that her crown must be glued on to not fall off at that angle. The podium is marked by the seal embossed on it, that of a blindfolded woman holding a set of scales. You recognize the symbol’s meaning immediately: You must be in a courtroom of some kind, though most of your vision is occupied by the woman and the podium, everything else is a blinding white void.
Tak-tak-tak-tak-tak-tak. The rhythmic noise continues unabated.
Her lips mouth wordlessly along with her eyes as they pour over the unseen words before her. She hasn’t yet noticed you it seems, which is just as well because you don’t have much to say, not remembering anything before the last paragraph or so of your interior monologue. If you could do anything (and it seems you cannot, critically lacking both a physical body and the capacity for locomotion) it would probably be to adjust the crown perched so-precipitously above her forehead.
Tak-tak-tak-tak-tak, ching! A pause… and anew. Tak-tak-tak-tak.
It takes a few cycles of the tapping and the ringing before the woman’s mouth stops moving and her eyes flick toward you. For a moment. Long enough to acknowledge your presence, but not long enough to acknowledge your presence as deserving of her attention.
“Komachi.” The voice of the woman in front of you, louder than her stature would suggest.
Tak-tak-tak—. The noise stops suddenly. A red blob enters your peripheral vision.
“Boss?” A female voice. The blob.
The woman in front of you doesn’t answer the blob immediately, just eyes it and points an odd-looking gavel at you—vaguely the shape of a geometric deltoid, emblazoned with the letters “U.S.A.” in a garish red, white, and blue.
“What is this?”
A pause. Incredulity, “Come on Boss, you know what that is; it’s a soul.” The blob continues dismissively, “Fresh from the wastes this morning. I’ve got the paperwork all done and everything.”
There is a ripping sound, and a slightly crumpled piece of paper is shoved in the podium woman’s face, the blob apparently having sprouted an arm, crossing more clearly into you range of vision. With a glare the woman slowly takes the paper from the blob. She adjusts her glasses, scans the paper quickly, glances at you again, and places it on the podium. She makes an attempt to flatten the wrinkles out with the side of her hand, resulting in a black smear across her right palm. Fresh ink. She considers the stained hand momentarily, almost reaches for her gavel with the same hand before stopping this apparently reflexive movement, and finally satisfies herself with only closing her eyes in consternation.
“Boss?” More meekly this time.
“How many times must I tell you? Finish the paperwork before you bring the soul before me.” The podium woman is clearly irate. “How long has it been here?”
“Well… I said ‘this morning’… and it’s five o’clock now, so…” The blob trails off.
The woman massages her temples with her unstained hand. “Komachi, what happens when you leave a soul aware and unattended for too long?” To her credit the blob seems to be able to quickly recite the answer from memory.
“Shinigami Code, § 110, ¶ 1: A soul deceased and yet unjudged shall only be presented before the Court once its karmic transcripts have been processed and reviewed by a duly authorized officer of the Court.”
“And the next paragraph?” The podium lady impatiently raps the stick against the wood of the podium, before wincing and dropping it in realization. Now the gavel is red, white, and black.
“A soul left unattended before the Court or in transit runs the risk of gaining a precocious awareness that may adversely affect the viability of its next reincarnation. This is a violation of the soul’s right to due process.”
“Right, and we’ll make sure you understand what implications this has for you and your position later. For now, you’re going to run a triplicate of this opinion on the Nemo case over to the central office.”
Grumbling. Shuffling of papers. The blob disappears once again from your field of vision, and the woman in front of you (finally) turns her attention to you with a civil smile. “Now then, since I’m fairly certain you’ve been aware enough to hear and comprehend what I’ve been saying for at least a few hours now, I will first express my sincerest apologies for the gross miscarriage of justice you have just witnessed in my courtroom. I am Sikieiki Yamaxanadu, district judge for the greater Gensokyo area. Due to the incompetence of my aide, rather than process the judgment of your soul as I would normally, I am forced to use my discretionary power as judge to expedite your reincarnation, so as to minimize further damage to your karmic record.” The words flow so fluidly off her tongue, you have to wonder how often she is forced to recite them. “With that said, let’s have a look at your record.” The judge assumes a more neutral expression, readjusts her reading glasses once more, and looks down at her podium for far longer than it should take to read a single one-sided sheet of paper. Muttering something to herself, she flips the sheet over and finding it blank she glances around her workplace, before looking back at you with some alarm, and begins to turn her left for aid.
“Komachi, does this say—oh, bother.” She stops when she notices that the red blob has not yet returned. It takes a moment for her to regain her smile, this one more strained. She picks up what looks like a hand mirror (it seems the ink on her hand has dried), and holds it at an angle toward you that obscures her face entirely. After a moment she puts the mirror down. “Good enough,” more to herself than to you. Seemingly satisfied, she regains her authoritative air. “Well this is a bit of non-standard procedure, but the important thing is that I am able to judge confidently that you are not yet deserving of hell or heaven and will be bound for reincarnation for at least a dozen more standard cycles. Since I can tell you are at the very least an honest soul, we’re going to speed this along by filling in the details by direct inquiry. You cannot talk, however I will be able to read your response with my mirror. Do you understand?”
She glances at her mirror. “Good. Now I am going to ask you just a few questions that will determine the particulars of your reincarnation. By now you should have regained enough memory of your past life that you can answer truthfully.”
As you note the way her eyes bore into you, you feel what may be your first emotion, anxiety. Despite your current incapacity to express any of the physical gestures that might give away a lie, you cannot help but feel that deliberate falsehood may be dangerous here.
“My first question: What is your race? As far as I can tell from your record, your current karmic rung would determine that you be reincarnated as human, half-youkai, or fairy.”
[ ] Human [ ] Half-youkai [ ] Fairy [ ] <Lie> Other (specify)
Well, let's just get this underway and see what happens. Trial and error, change, this is rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.
Glance at the mirror, back at you, and then back to the mirror again. For a moment you almost expect her to repeat herself or ask for more information, but she finally nods and jots down your response on her piece of paper. “Ah, sorry. Even if they’ve been growing in number since the bombs fell, transitionals are always a bit of a jolt.” She continues writing as she dives into the lecture, “There is just much too little precedent on the proper procedures for my liking, and since youkai and humans are technically on different rungs, it can become a complex matter. Some of the older judges refuse to reincarnate someone as half-youkai or even reject the notion that they exist at all.” Muttering and barely audible, “…doddering old fossils.”
She raises her voice again, as if to refocus your attention, “Well anyway, I won’t bore you with the details, just keep in mind that you are technically on the same rung as other humans, but it is my duty as maintainer of karmic order to warn you that you may find yourself slipping ‘backwards’ into becoming youkai within the next few cycles, or even within your next reincarnation. Don’t worry yourself too much if that happens; there are many paths to Enlightenment, and reincarnation is but one. Just keep doing good deeds, and I’m sure everything will be fine.”
More jotting down in pencil, before her blue eyes pierce you again.
“Second question, what is your sex? Male, female, or… other?”
[ ] Male [ ] Female [ ] Other (specify: neuter, intersex, transgender, etc.)
First to five wins on the station where the 30s survived. G-N-R. Y-O-U. K-A-I.
She takes a look at the mirror for a second. “Hmph.” A small, wry smirk as she erases a mark already made and jots down the correction.
What was that about? Looking back on you, she doesn’t have to check her mirror to answer your question. “Despite my repeated, unanswered interrogatives to the central office for explanation, for reasons I’ve never quite been understood, there is a dearth of male souls allotted to Gensokyo.” She focuses back on the sheet in front of her to, pencil in one hand, shaking her finger at you with the other in an almost comical gesture of chastisement. “Don’t get any ideas, young one. Most of the unattached females aren’t looking for mates, and those who are are just as likely to eat you afterwards.
Hand-waving, "Besides, most everybody is gay in Gensokyo.”
Her bespectacled eyes fall on you, serious once again.
“Third question. Choose a name for yourself.”
Wordlessly expressed confusion.
The judge sighs and launches into another lecture, “No, don’t ask me how this works when you haven't been born yet; suffice it to say that names in Gensokyo are important things, and more robust across reincarnations that you might expect.” Waving her gavel in one hand like a wand. “Barring bureaucratic hang-ups like this one of course. Anyway, I need a name for you, and this smudge here isn’t enough to process your file.”
You don’t remember what your name is off-hand, but from the way she asked, it seems she’s more concerned with procedure at the moment than the veracity of the report.
[ ] <Lie> “Smudge.” [ ] <Lie> Other (specify) [ ] You cannot remember; ask her to pick one for you. [ ] Refuse to answer on principle. You’re an anonymous spirit and proud of it.
Vault-Boy's motivational quote of the day: "A little inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of explanation."
[\!/] You cannot remember; make one up on the spot: Akoes
>there is a dearth of male souls allotted to Gensokyo.” > “Don’t get any ideas, young one. Most of the unattached females aren’t looking for mates, and those who are are just as likely to eat you afterwards. >"Besides, most everybody is gay in Gensokyo.”
You hear that? That is the sound of my heart breaking
She looks at the mirror, before closing her eyes and shaking her head emotively. God damn, how does that thing stay on her head?
“That won’t do. I could just give you a name, but the information is supposed to come from the soul. Or at least… something from which I can derive the answer from…” She trails off, eyes still closed, tapping her pencil against her forehead in consternation, probably from being forced to jump yet another meaningless bureaucratic hurdle.
Suddenly, she opens her eyes in realization. “Oh! We can work this. I can’t just give you a list of names, but I can give you a list of attributes from which a name can be derived; if I get a reaction on the mirror, that should be enough.”
Turning from you to the mirror, she begins to list the descriptors. “Stop me if anything registers. Let's see, are you…”
[ ] <Lie> Never mind, you remember, it was... (specify). [ ] “Named after your mother or father?” [ ] “Named after a hero of the Great War?” [ ] "Named after the titular character of a classic post-apocalyptic film?" [ ] “A free man, sibling of your sibling, etc.?” [ ] "…Nothing yet?" [ ] “…Or maybe you just like hearing the sound of my voice?” Pleasant smile.
MySQL errors all around us, my /th/! We must have the fortitude to weather this darkness, ere we to ever see the light of day.
The woman smirks and marks something down. "A judicious choice." She sure sounds pleased with you, or, more probably, with herself.
She puts her pencil down and yawns tiredly. "Oh, excuse me. I can't really do anything more to speed this along until my lazy, lazy assistant gets back. I imagine this must be dreadfully boring for you, not being able to move or talk at all."
Apologetically she continues, though without her looking back in the mirror you cannot tell if she heard you. "Well, I do have one thing you might be interested in." She looks back to the mirror this time holding it in your direction, but at an angle that doesn't block out her face. "Let's see what you'll look like when you're all grown up..."
What she sees in the mirror seems to at first confuse and then captivate her. The work-weary creases in her brow seem to melt off, and her smirk grows in a stupid grin. Her eyes flick back to you, and she is forced stifles her chuckle. The mask of her business smile returns, though her lips still move along with some fragment of thought deemed too outrageous to be put to voice. What is so amusing? Why isn't she showing you? You want to see it.
More to herself than to you, "Well, names, names can be powerful things after all." Still ignoring you, she tilts and turns her head to look at the mirror from various angles. She removes her glasses. Puts them back on. Shifts her hat. Fiddles with the fringe on her hair. Wider smile. Goddamn, first she laughs at your body, now she is checking herself out the mirror, the mirror used to read people's souls? Isn't that some kind of violation of the judicial code? You're sure if that blob woman were back she'd be able to recite the relevant section verbatim.
Your mind is wrapped up in thinking about all the injustice and iniquity of things when a cough brings you back to attention. She places the mirror down and launches into a monologue with her full authoritative airs: "You know, sometimes it falls within my purview as a judge to take a soul aside and... educate it, to guide it on its karmic journey. It's not all crime & punishment, you know; rehabilitation is an important function of the Heavenly Courts, and in fact, I find that many of my fellows lack the proper enthusiasm for correction, using their time-saving judicial tools to see everything in the black-and-white terms that they find easy to understand. Summary judgments, with minimal explanation to the soul as to what it did wrong or how it could go about improving its karmic record, but I will tell you that in my courtroom, I do things in a less impersonal manner, one which I feel is more conducive to the ultimate salvation of the souls we..."
Why does this woman think a captive audience is an excuse to talk her head off? It's not like you have nothing better to do; other people are out there building their careers, raising a family, piling up a good income... you, you haven't even been born yet. She wasn't kidding when she said you'll be bound for a dozen more "standard cycles": at this rate you won't reach Enlightenment until proton decay sets in.
Goddamn, is she still talking?
"...is why I take the time to lecture souls every so often, especially those bound for big things in their next cycle."
Whoa, back up. When did she take her glasses off? When did she let her hair down and loosen her collar? And when did she move from sitting behind the podium to sitting on it?
"Incidentally, when I said 'most everybody was gay in Gensokyo' I didn't say 'everybody'."
"So, if you're a good soul maybe, you might just be rewarded. And if you're a naughty soul, you might find yourself being punished." She slaps her gavel on her palm for emphasis. Her smile is genuine. This woman really loves her job.
The mood however is interrupted by the wooden pole that enter from the right of your periphery, which presses against side of the podium with just enough force to cause the judge to fall off with a yelp, but not so much that the podium doesn't right itself.
"Boss? Picking up men on the job?" It's the blob woman. Very amused.
"I don't know what you're talking about Komachi." Though embarassed, her tone makes it clear she will brook no word to the contrary. The red-faced judge quickly fixes herself and dons her glasses, before standing and seating herself back behind the podium, all with nary a glance at you. "I'm done with this one. This court is adjourned." She strikes her gavel on the podium. "Next case."
And with that your vision fades to white.
That's it for the prologue. Just look at you now! You have a race, a gender, a name... everything you need to survive in the Wastes, right? Well, maybe you could use a trait or two:
What's in a Name Requirement: Chose a name. Maybe your namesake is someone famous, or maybe you just have a catchy nickname? Regardless of the reason, you accrue both positive and negative karma at twice the normal rate, due to increased word-of-mouth of your deeds.
Animal Magnetism Requirement: Youkai or half-youkai You register more highly on animal's senses, and typically provoke a more exaggerated response to your presence. Skittish animals will flee, feral domesticates will be more submissive, gregarious animals will be more tolerant of your presence, and predators... will think you taste better.
The introductory chapter will soon start with actual interaction with other characters, and will feature a modified version of the infamous G.O.A.T. (a few questions that will determine the character's skills & abilities in the most scientific and objective manner possible), followed by the timeskip and plot hook that will actually see you leaving the Vault (or not, if you so desire).
I will have a faction profile for you in the interim, straight out of the Wasteland Survival Guide: Gensokyo Edition, written by the nineteenth Child of Miare, Hieda no Ajukyu, in the manner of PMiSS (with all the "reliability" that entails). A copy will be available to the character before leaving the Vault, so you don't have to be concerned with it being OOC knowledge for too long.
I will see you again, my fellow boardsmen! But for now, we must have, as in all things, patience. Yea, we shall teach our enemy yet to beware the fury of the patient man.
>Her eyes flick back to you, and she is forced stifles her chuckle. The mask of her business smile returns, though her lips still move along with some fragment of thought deemed too outrageous to be put to voice. What is so amusing? Why isn't she showing you? You want to see it.
Faction Profile: 10% Nation of Gods and Earths (usually just The Nation or 10%ers)
Location: Fortified Citadel at the summit of Youkai Mountain; Also maintains garrisons at Moriya Shrine & Mountain Lake and GNR Plaza.
Origins: The 10%ers are an important group of Wasteland survivors originating from the Mountain Vaults. The three Mountain Vaults were originally designed to safeguard separately the kappa, tengu, and human populations, who after the War were meant to work in concert to rapidly reestablish civilization on the Mountain. What happened was something else. It is known that while the kappa and tengu Vaults (Vault ⑪ and Vault ⑫ respectively) opened their doors following the War, the humans of Vault ⑬ did not, and are widely believed to have perished during the Post-War Internment. It’s theorized that this was due to a catastrophic failure of their fission generator, given the massive amounts of radiation being vented near the entrance. Of course nobody knows for certain, as this radiation makes close inspection of the entrance all but impossible. Believing this to be divine providence, the tengu and kappa Vault survivors (along with only a handful of humans, notably the Moriya Shrine Maiden) decided to abandon the idea of reestablishing pre-War human society, and became the insular, militant organization we know today. The origin of the name is obscure, but a common folk etymology states that it’s because their appearances deviate from that of normal humans by “about 10%”.
Beliefs: The core tenets of the 10% Nation are that meta-humans are the successors of humanity, that mutation is a necessary and beneficial evolution, and that pre-War technology and knowledge is something to be preserved and improved upon, but protected from misuse. Despite their high level of technological development, they are heavily immersed in the trappings of Old Japan. They have a spiritual leader in the Moriya Shrine Maiden, who serves the two chief deities of the Mountain, Kanako Yasaka, and Suwako Moriya.
Organization: The Nation is divided into a racial caste system, with the tengu making up the Militant Order, the kappa the Scholarly Order, and the shrine maiden, chief and minor gods, and their fairy attendants make up the Religious Order. The caste system is not absolutely rigid; exceptional humans or Wasteland youkai are sometimes invited to join, and there is some degree of cross-caste mobility. The most seen 10%ers are the members of the Militant Order, whose land-based souhei wear the 10%er Power Armor and air-based yamabushi wear the 10%er Flight Armor. The souhei are mostly composed of wolf tengu, while the yamabushi are mostly crow tengu. The absolute leader of the Militant Order is their Soujoubou, Lord Tenma. The Scholarly Order is composed mostly of kappa scientists and engineers (though a few human members are noted), and tend to go unarmored and wear more utilitarian clothing than the ceremonial robes of the Militants. They maintain the weapons and equipment of the Militant Order, and are also charged with the development of technology and the preserving of pre-War knowledge. The Scholarly Order is a technocracy, with precedent given to the most inventive and productive Scholars, with Sage Asakura (notably a non-kappa) as the current de facto leader. The Religious Order is lead by the Moriya Shrine Maiden, acting as agent of her gods. She is protected by an elite honor guard of yamabushi under her personal command, and served by her fairy attendants. Aside from worship, the Religious Order purifies the food and drinking water of the Nation, consecrates their weapons, and provides medical care.
Important personalities: - Shrine Maiden Sanae Kotiya (full title: “Human of the Wind Deified”). Runs the Moriya Shrine facility. Although ostensibly human, she is known to have lived since before the war, making her over two-hundred years old, despite maintaining the appearance of teenage girl, likely the result of being a quasi-deity herself. She was one of the few human survivors of pre-War Youkai Mountain, the chance result of mistakenly being assigned to live with the tengu population in Vault ⑫, instead of with the other humans in Vault ⑬. The failure of Vault ⑬ took a heavy toll on her, as did the breaking away of the Sedevacantist sect, which removed the human presence on the Mountain almost entirely (and was considered by her to be a personal betrayal). She serves her goddesses Lady Yasaka and Lady Moriya equally, as well as representing the interests of the other minor gods of the Mountain. - Revered Lady Kanako Yasaka (full title: “Avatar of Mountains and Lakes”). One of the two chief goddesses of the Nation pantheon, her domain includes the rain and sky. She is considered patron of the sky-based yamabushi and hence is worshiped heavily by this caste. - Revered Lady Suwako Moriya (full title: “Epitome of Native Gods”). One of the two chief goddesses of the Nation pantheon, her domain includes the earth and mountains. She is considered patron of the mountain-based souhei and hence is worshiped heavily by this caste. - Lady Scrivener Minoriko Aki (full title: “Symbol of Abundance and Plenty”). A minor harvest deity and younger sister to Shizuha. Although most of the post-War landscape is blasted and incapable of sustaining vegetation, she found a niche for herself in the Citadel’s hydroponics lab, aiding the kappa in growing crops. Although a god, she is a member of the Scholarly Order, and not the Religious Order. - Lady Scrivener Shizuha Aki (full title: “Goddess of Turning Leaves”). A minor harvest deity and older sister to Minoriko. Like her sister, she is a member of the Scholarly Order. She is committed to the development of genetically modified plant species that are capable of flourishing in the Wasteland. Less personable than her younger sister; she is usually absorbed in her research. - Sage Rikako Asakura. A pre-War human scientist turned youkai scientist (it is theorized that this occurred through a process analogous to the way human magicians turn into youkai magicians with time). She was the Overseer of Vault ⑪ during the 10-year Internment, and though not a kappa, she maintains a prestigious position in the Scholarly Order and kappa society due to her relentless pursuit of scientific knowledge. - Scribe Nitori Kawashiro. A kappa scientist who was instrumental in the development of numerous Nation technologies, including the reverse engineered Stealth-Boy optical camouflage. However, since she is known to be clumsy and because her experiments often met disastrous results, she has only limited prestige in kappa society. Like Sanae, she was devastated by the failure of Vault ⑬ and, as one of the chief engineers in its construction, has come to blame herself for the disaster. Whether out of shame or some sense of voyeurism, she has taken to wearing her optical camouflage in public, and is often heard and not seen. - O-souhei Sayo Inuhashi. White wolf tengu. Captain of the prestigious Tengu Mountain Patrol, which was a fixture of Youkai Mountain even before the War, and filled the position after its former captain, O-souhei Howlin' Mad Momizi Inubashiri, left the Nation in disgust to found GNR. He is unusually friendly to outsiders, but not so much as to go against the ways of his people. - Soujoubou Lord Tenma. Ancient tengu chieftain and undisputed head of the Militant Order. A recluse with a tendency to delegate duties to his advisers, few facts are known on him, but he is widely revered by the tengu as extremely wise and powerful, and said to be exceptionally well-versed in the “old ways” (i.e., magic).
Equipment & Battle: - Energy Weapons: Rules of engagement dictate that threats be engaged at range with energy weapons set to danmaku. Only when life is in imminent danger are the weapons to be set to higher levels. 10%ers on youkai extermination missions, however, are authorized to use lethal force, and do so with relish. The Laser Pistol, Laser Rifle, and Gatling Laser are all widely employed by the Nation. - Conventional Weapons: Most conventional weapons are seen as obsolete and inflexible by the Militant Order, though reclaimed and refurbished weapons are commonly found among the kappa population. Nonetheless, a stockpile of conventional arms of all types is housed within the Citadel and catalogued for posterity. - Explosives: The Nation has a large stockpile of pre-War Frag Grenades and Frag Mines, but their general use is discouraged, as their stopping power against youkai is suboptimal, and their relative selectivity for killing animal and human life is seen as unconscionable. Less-than-lethal Pulse Grenades and Pulse Mines are favored for use against animal and human threats. A more recent development is the Amulet Grenade, a development off pre-War chaff grenades that uses paper amulets in place of reflective foil. Field testing suggests high efficacy against various forms of beast youkai and feral fairies, while posing minimal danger to human and animal life. Their Scholars are also currently working on the development of a Spell Card Mine, said to be capable of pacifying both human and youkai targets. They are known to also be in the possession of pre-War nuclear armament, though these assets are securely guarded. - Melee Weapons: The most commonly used melee weapons are the Historied Scimitar, the Historied Yari, and the Historied Naginata. Though they have difficulty penetrating modern combat armor, they are nevertheless very useful against unarmored youkai. More technologically advanced melee weapons such as the Chensaw and the Pile Bunker pneumatic polearm are also occasionally found, and have their adherents. - Power Armor: The 10%er are by far the most conspicuous users of Power Armor in the Wasteland. They are pre-War models modified by kappa scientists during the Internment to fit the abhuman characteristics of their wearers. Flight Armor is novel post-War invention, made by stripping down and rebuilding standard Power Armor to be lighter and then adding rockets, whose thrust is directed by the movement of the user’s wings. When properly trained in its use, flight speed and maneuverability is improved significantly past one’s normal limits. On the Wastes, Nation Power Armor can be readily distinguished from pre-War Power Armor, with its black-and-white color scheme rather than the pre-War olive drab.
Militant Order, Souhei - Always wear the 10%er Power Armor and usually the 10%er Power Helmet. - Standard-issue ranged weapon is the Laser Rifle; squad-sized contingents may carry a Gatling Laser. - Alternatively, some prefer the one-handed Laser Pistol, along with the 10%er Ablative Shield. - Standard-issue melee weapons are the one-handed Historied Scimitar and two-handed Historied Yari; occasionally one will encounter a souhei carrying the intimidating Chensaw. - A monk’s habit is traditionally worn over their armor.
Militant Order, Yamabushi - Always wear the 10%er Flight Armor and usually the 10%er Flight Helmet. - Standard-issue ranged weapon is the lighter Laser Pistol; they also occasionally drop grenades and mines on their targets. - Dedicated melee weapon users are sometimes found, in which case they prefer diving attacks with their Pile Bunkers. - A monk’s habit (of slightly different design to the one the souhei wear) is traditionally worn over their armor. - Unsubstantiated rumors persist of “tengu ninja” hit squads—yamabushi equipped with Stealth-Boy technology.
Scribes - Scribes wear the less restricting 10%er Recon Armor under their robes when venturing out into the Wastes, though when inside the confines of the Citadel they tend to go without armor entirely, preferring more comfortable jumpsuits, overalls, or coveralls. - Scribes are issued a Laser Pistol as a personal sidearm, and are all trained in their use; however, a rite of passage for kappa is the reconstruction of a firearm from salvaged parts, so they often carry customized and well-maintained conventional small arms, ranging from .38 Special snubnose revolvers to fully-automatic carbines and submachine guns.
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“I can’t believe it! We’re really outside! Holy shit!” A childish voice, not your own, full of wonder and unused to vulgarity. “Hush, Ren! What if there’s a… mutant bug or something out here?” Not yours either, female. She sounds more disgusted than scared by the prospect. It’s that dream again. You can’t know how old you are, but judging by the childish profiles scaling the rocks in front of you, you must be around eleven or twelve. “Don’t worry!” The dark-haired girl with the oversize black pre-War hat looks back at the other with a wide smile, which you can make out even through meager green light her Pip-Boy provides. “Whatever happens, I’ll protect you.” That earnestness and honestly is something only a child is capable of, and without waiting for a reply, returns to her task, and scrambles over the next boulder. The blonde girl giggles to herself, claps the caked dust and dirt off of her hands and, then turns to you. “I’m not sure I’m the one who would need protecting. Come on.” She offers you a hand in a slightly patronizing way, since you’re lagging behind, but you can’t bring yourself to say that it’s because you packed too many supplies in your duffel, in full expectation that either of them would forget their own. You reach the summit of the crags shortly. Is staring up at the night sky intently. “I was afraid the stars would be harder to see now because of the soot the bombs kicked up into the stratosphere, but the lack of light pollution more than compensates.” She looks down at jabs her finger at some spot on the map she’s holding. “It’s just like the old sky charts in the Vault records. We should be able to see Human Village due East of this outcropping.” She points in the direction. You can’t see the horizon from the darkness, but the once inky backdrop is turning lighter; it should be dawn soon.
“War! Good God y’all! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, say it again!”
Pre-War music from the Vault PA system pumps in from the Pip-Boy on the nightstand next to your bed. You don’t need to look at its face to tell what time it is; you set it to go off automatically to give you a window just long enough to get to class on time. You move quickly. Sure you slept in your jumpsuit, and your hair is probably a mess, but what matters is that you won’t be late. After all, today is an important day, one that determines your future in this coffin paradise: Today you take the G.O.A.S.T.
Strapping your Pip-Boy on your left arm and turning off the radio, you don your work boots at the door of your single room apartment, and hesitate for a moment as you cross the threshold. You’ve spent eighteen lonely years in this room. Your mother died in childbirth, and like most other children born in this nearly all female Vault, you had no father, your mother conceiving through in vitro fertilization. With the normal method against the rules due to the requirement for genetic counseling, you’ve never felt lucky to be male surrounded by women. Indeed, you’ve always felt somewhat expendable in the eyes of the Vault, which of course suits you just fine; no video cameras watching you sleep, no bugs in the wall recording your spoken thoughts.
No time for a bowl of Cirn-Os, you have to move fast. You book it through the corridor, nearly tripping on a maintenance fairy on the way to the classroom. You can hear the sounds of a scuffle to your left. Probably Renko Usami and her “Tunnel Snakes” starting trouble again. You’ll be late if you check it out, but to be honest the teacher is pretty forgiving if you have an excuse.
[ ] It’s none of your business; you want to get this exam over with. [ ] Someone might be in trouble. Investigate.
The original joke was that organization name is a play off the real-life radical black nationalist/religious movement: The Five-Percent Nation of Gods and Earths, who just called themselves the "5%ers". You can check Wikipedia for more information, but is it is similar to the Fallout Brotherhood in that their beliefs are a very syncretic and artificial hodgepodge, and shares its history of factionalism. The racial element lends itself to youkai mountain, and I was originally going to carry it further with the GNR DJ being "Howlin' Mad" Momizi X, but maybe I'm just amused by the concept of her wearing a doo rag.
Yeah, it’s them alright. You can already hear Renko and her cronies’ trademark snickering from around the corner; visual confirmation is unnecessary. From the sound of it, they’re harassing Maribel again. “Mary, Mary, quite contrary. Why do you always want to do it the hard way? We used to be friends.” The melodrama in her voice makes you wince internally. Renko’s acting is as bad as that phony 20th century Brooklyn accent she and her fellow Snakes affect. “Don’t be so familiar with me, Usami. I’ve come a long way from the Sealing Club; you haven’t.” Arguable only half-true: Moving sideways is still moving. “You’ll never earn yourself a husband by being so uppity, Mary. Even that Maxey boy is going to drop you like a sack of potatoes some day.” Raucous laughter from the other Snakes, and you know why. Despite having been pegged since childhood by the old timers as the only bride of her generation (i.e., yours), four years ago Maribel made it very clear to everyone that she was going to be the next Shrine Maiden of Vault ⑨, a position that had been vacant since before you were born. Since then, the ability to make and keep friends began to escape her, and those she was once close to were left by the wayside. Renko was crushed by the falling out, and you surmise that the “Tunnel Snakes” was her way of coping with the loss. You are less bitter about it, or maybe you are bitter and your bitterness is just too pervasive to tell apart from genuine apathy. Whichever. “Even if we are old friends Mary, I can’t allow you to renege on your agreements. After all, we wouldn’t want anyone to find out the next Shrine Maiden had developed a Mentats addiction—why the sanctity of her office could become tarnished!” This surprises you, but only slightly; memorizing all those archaic mantras and incantations must be hell. You find it sadder that you’ve become this distant from her in only a few years. “Now you better make with the greenbacks, Mary. Meira here has an itchy sword hand.” Renko referring of course to her bruiser. Meira is even taller than you (seriously, if it weren’t for the fact that everyone born here was genetically screened, you’d think she were a mutant) and carries a wicked sharp sword. “Stupid girl. We want our due, and we’ll take it by force if we have to.” A different voice. Throaty, but definitely female. A snort. “I won’t be intimidated by the threat of you siccing your ape on me, Renko.” “I am no one’s ‘monkey’!” A click. Metal on metal. “You always know the right buttons to press, Mary!” Well, Renko sounds excited about the prospect of a fight; you are more ambivalent. However, class should be starting any minute now, and while Mary is exempt, you know Renko is due to take the G.O.A.S.T. with you, and there’s the chance your involvement could just escalate matters.
There’s that maintenance fairy you almost tripped on before at an open access panel; too involved with fixing some wiring to notice the world around her. There’s an oversized spanner atop the toolbox next to her.
[ ] Grab the spanner; hold it threateningly. [ ] Grab the spanner; hide it up the sleeve of your jumpsuit. [ ] Don’t grab the spanner.
[ ] Keep listening. Maybe Mary can handle this herself. [ ] Mary’s an addict, and saving her here isn’t going to fix her problem; walk on. [ ] Reveal yourself and break up the fight using force. [ ] Reveal yourself and try to reason with Renko; if you pay off the debt, there’s no problem, right? [ ] Reveal yourself and advise Mary to give the Snakes the money. A debt is a debt. [ ] Reveal yourself and advise Mary to give the Snakes the money, but demand a cut for yourself; otherwise, your loose lips might spoil everything.
[x] Grab the spanner; hide it up the sleeve of your jumpsuit. [x] Reveal yourself and wait...for now. [x] This is Mary's problem. She can talk her way out if it better than we can, but we'll be damned if we're going to let them hurt or intimidate her.
[x] Grab the spanner; hide it up the sleeve of your jumpsuit. [x] No quorum.
You have to do something. Why? Well, at the very least, because Miss Ellen would just delay the test because of Ren's absence. You don't know if it'll come to blows, but the feel of wrench in your hands is still encouraging. Now just to slide it up the sleeve handle-first and step out: Cool as a cucumber.
Renko and the Snakes are immediately recognizable with their black leather jackets. Only three Snakes beside Meira and Renko. Good. Not because it might come to violence, but because the less people there is for Renko to save face in front of, the easier it will be to make her back down. Mary is in her ridiculous red, white, and blue Shrine Maiden costume. Detached sleeves. Exposed midriff. Gohei ending in a tuft of reflective blue and red streamers. It's like fifteenth century Japanese religion meets twentieth century American sexuality and nationalism. You'd like to respect her sense of dedication and self-efficacy, but it's hard to ignore the fact that for all the trappings of tradition, she pretty much is a glorified cheerleader.
Renko's the first to notice you, and when she does the vicious smile melts off her face, which is somewhat satisfying. That's right, Ren: Another confrontation where saving face matters more to you than it does to your opponent. You have no reputation to uphold, and being the only male in your generation is more than a little intimidating to some of the Snakes. Renko doesn't have much for leverage aside from the memories she might dredge up, but few of those could hurt you in the eyes of her fellow Snakes more than they'd hurt her. At the very least, if it doesn't come to fisticuffs, it'll be amusing to watch her slither her way out of this.
To her credit Renko manages to mask her anxiety quickly and reasserts herself with a sneer. She raises her hand into the air and snaps her fingers to call the others to attention, which mostly works, except for the singularly focused Meira, whom she has to practically shove and point at you to get her to notice. Mary breathes a sigh of relief when Meira's hand drops the blade back in its scabbard.
"Well, well, well... if it isn't the Vault knight himself? Come to save your bride-to-be from a lifetime of religious chastity? Or maybe you were just headed to class and lost your way?" Snickering from her crew.
That she hasn't made for the switchblade in her jacket pocket yet is a sign that she hasn't noticed the tool up your sleeve. Or, at the least, that she doesn't want this to escalate.
[x] Some variation of: "As much as I'd like to save Mary from the dangers of chastity, I came here for you, Ren. Class. Exam. Let's go. Last thing I need is Miss Ellen delaying the damn thing."
"As much as I'd like to save Mary from the dangers of chastity, I came here for you, Ren. Class. Exam. Let's go."
You can tell by the way she wets her lips that she's vacillating. You'll need a finisher.
"Last thing I need is Miss Ellen delaying the damn thing. You know how she is with her memory."
Ren cringes visibly at the mention of Miss Ellen, mouthing some epithet silently, likely a sign that she forgot who was assigned our exam proctor. Miss Ellen is probably the only authority figure that Renko's ever dealt with that has any hold on her. The reason for which is simple, to Renko probably maddeningly so: It is impossible to draw Miss Ellen into a confrontation. Despite her perennially youthful appearance, the woman just doesn't have the memory. She's perfectly able to recall the factual knowledge and construct the grade rubrics that are required for her job, but the ability to develop a disposition to categories less broad than "student" is simply beyond her. Little kids love her; they don't notice that they're being treated in the same pleasant and compassionate manner everyone else is, but for most everyone else, Miss Ellen is looked on with varying degrees of pity and aversion (which she seems blissfully ignorant of). For a rebel without a cause like Renko, to be addressed but not recognized, probably knocks the wind right out of her.
Rumor has it, the source of her apparent immortality, despite her perfect human DNA, was the reason she was assigned to be interned in Vault ⑨, but the research into this was ultimately a dead end: People aren't interested in living forever if that also means their brains turn to mush.
But you digress too much. Renko should have had enough time to recompose herself and think of a way to get out of this without facing the jeers of her friends. Sweeten the deal with a joke, maybe?
"'Sides, Ren. You know if a guy picks a chick over his buddies, something's gotta be wrong." Hey, if you do somehow manage to fail the G.O.A.S.T., you could always strike out on your own like Mary did: Max Rockatansky, Vault bullshit artist.
"Hahahaha! Is this kid the ballsiest or what?" Amusement. She withdraws a pack of cigarettes from her leather jacket, smacks it against her hand to pack down the tobacco, withdraws and lights up a cigarette.
Meira sees a weakness, "Boss, you gonna let him talk wise to you like that?" The other Snakes look agitated by the prospect of mutiny.
"Meira." Ren takes a drag. "Stuff it." She deftly stuffs the lit cigarette between the lips of her subordinate, whose surprise results in a sharp intake of breath, the end result being a coughing and sputtering Meira. The laughter of the other Snakes confirms that they buy Renko's performance.
"Alright fellas," The gang leader snaps her fingers, "Cheese it. I'm gotta take this test; I'll meet you in the dinner in two shakes."
"What about the junkie, boss?" One of the miscellaneous Snakes stabs a thumb at Mary; it appears Meira hasn't quite yet recovered.
"Eh." Renko shrugs, "Doesn't matter. A junkie always comes back to the source. She'll pay eventually. They all do." At this the Snakes run off with Meira in tow, and Renko doesn't so much as glance at Mary as she brushes by you, but you can see the effect that this small condemnation has on the girl. Mary hangs her head, red-faced in some combination of shame, embarrassment, and antipathy.
"Listen, Mary, I--"
She shushes your lips with two shaking fingers, looks up at you with a smile lined with pain and compassion, and whispers, "You have enough on your plate to deal with right now. Go take your test; the world will still be here when you get back."
Wow. Mary really has changed, and not like Renko or you did: Mary actually grew up. Before your mind can adequately recover from this, a call at your back surprises you, and caught between two separate demands for your attention, your unconscious mind turns you toward the stimulus most readily understood: "Come on, Maxine! How long you gonna stand there floggin' your log?" Renko is tapping her foot irritably. When you turn back around, Mary has already begun to beat a retreat at a brisk pace.
[ ] "Keep your skirt on!" Time to take the G.O.A.S.T. [ ] "I got something to take care of." Forget the test; follow Mary.
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You get inside the classroom to see Renko already in the process of getting “chewed out” by your exam proctor. Everyone else is in their seats, ignoring the exchange between Ren and Miss Ellen. They’ve seen it and its variations so many times that they probably could mouth along with the words. “That is no way to start a new semester, Miss Usami! Perhaps a session of banging erasers outside after school would put you on the right track?” She notices your entrance with a start, causing her to deviate from the standard dialogue. “Oh, Miss Usami and Mister Rocka… Maximilian?” Miss Ellen could never remember how to pronounce your last name, no matter how many times you corrected her, nor would she remember that your name is not in fact short for “Maximilian” (in fourth grade you brought in a copy of your birth certificate to show-and-tell as proof). “Ah well, you two were just dawdling weren’t you?” The implication she is making is both obvious and predictable; the lens of eternal return recognizes only the cliché. She smiles to herself, probably satisfied with playing “matchmaker”. “Yes Missus Ellen.” Renko replies obediently. It would be meaningless to correct her, and the other students know enough to discount most of what she says. “You don’t want to be late for the test do you?” “No Missus Ellen.” “Well take your seats then, both of you.” You don’t need to say a word. Renko quickly finds her seat; yours is on the other side of the room. “Welcome, welcome! Class of 2077!” A few groans are heard at the slip, which she fails to notice. “Today you take the G.O.A.S.T. which will decide your vocation for the remainder of your residence here in Vault ⑨. You will all have twenty minutes to complete the ten main questions and the secondary battery. Do not worry too much; there are no right or wrong answers. I will be distributing the paper test along with your No. 2 pencils now. No talking once you receive your packet!” Miss Ellen places the sheet and pencil on your desk. It already has your name on it. Once she finishes handing the test out, she returns to her desk, sets a kitchen timer. Her cat “Sokrates” jumps from the desk into her lap and she pulls out a familiar dime novel; she must have reread it a thousand times over the years. You look around to see everyone immersed in their test, Renko chewing on the eraser of her pencil. Time to get to work.
G.O.A.S.T. (Generalized Occupation and Auxiliary S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Test)
Question 1. You are approached by a frenzied kappa scientist who yells "I'm going to put this anomalous material into your anti-mass spectrometer while disengaging the safety limiters!" How do you reply?
A. "But doctor, what about the chances that would result in a resonance cascade scenario?" B. “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.” C. Say nothing, but grab your trusty gohei and hit the scientist over the head with it. She’s obviously been possessed by some kind of evil spirit. D. Pretend to go along with the dangerous experiment, but swap the anomalous material with an ordinary geode when the scientist isn't looking.
Question 2. While working as an intern in the clinic, a patient with her foot encased in a block of ice stumbles through the door, claiming she was attacked by an irate ice fairy. The attending physician has stepped out for a while. What do you do?
A. When in doubt, amputate. B. Call out for one of the rabbit nurses. C. Use a FlanBé-brand Dragon Torch™ to melt the ice. D. Tell the patient she should chill; wait for the ice to melt on its own and record the reperfusion rate with a contrast MRI.
Question 3. You discover a fairy lost in the lower levels of the vault. It's frightened and hungry, but also appears to be in possession of stolen property. What do you do?
A. Ruffle the fairy’s hair and tell it everything is going to be okay. B. Challenge the fairy to a danmaku duel with the stolen property as the prize. C. Take the item back by force, and leave the wretched thing there to suffer. Fairies aren’t people. D. Lead the fairy to safety, then turn it over to the Overseer.
[x] D. Lead the fairy to safety, then turn it over to the Overseer.
Question 4. Congratulations! The Vault has been opened, and you have been specially selected to lead an expedition of Vault residents topside! However, during the trip your party’s wagon is blocked by a river. The river is two-and-a-half (2.5) feet deep at the deepest, and while there is no bridge, there is a ferrywoman willing to ferry your wagon across for a substantial fee. How do you proceed?
A. Pay the ferrywoman, but try to haggle with her on the fee. B. Use a Chensaw™ to fell nearby trees and build a bridge. C. Caulk the wagon with Wonderglue™ and float it across. D. It’s shallow enough; attempt to ford the river.
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[x] D. It’s shallow enough; attempt to ford the river.
Question 5. A member of the local nobility invites you over to her dormitory for tea and conversation, but you’re surprised when she hands you a laser pistol and asks you to assassinate her troublesome, immortal neighbor as a personal favor. How do you proceed?
A. Obey the lady’s request and kill her neighbor with the pistol. Laser is not difficult. B. Obey the lady’s request and kill her neighbor, but you’ll want her hand in marriage in return. C. Take the pistol, but don’t follow through. Report this suspicious woman to the Overseer at once. D. Refuse. Tell the lady that she is making an impossible request.
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[x] D. Refuse. Tell the lady that she is making an impossible request.
Question 6. Old Man Genjii has locked himself in his terrarium again, and you’ve been ordered to get him out. How do you proceed?
A. Ask him if he’ll come out for a bowl of Ran’s Choice™ reconstituted pet food. B. Use your government-issue TM 31-210 Improvised Munition Handbook to fashion together an improvised explosive device (IED). Use it to blow the door open. C. Enter the lab and jimmy open the experimental weapons locker, snatch the Yakumo Industries Handheld Portal Device, and make your own door. Now you’re thinking with boundaries.™ D. Break a blade off in the lock and walk away; “Bert the Turtle” can duck and go-fuck-himself.
[x] C. Enter the lab and jimmy open the experimental weapons locker, snatch the Yakumo Industries Handheld Portal Device, and make your own door. Now you’re thinking with boundaries.™
Question 7. Oh no! You’ve been bitten by an irradiated were-cow, and now a fluffy tail has grown out your backside. What is the best course of treatment?
A. You have that 10mm auto in your desk drawer; there’s few problems a lead aspirin can’t solve. B. Heroic doses of Yagokoro-brand anti-mutagen agent. C. Donations. Maybe the gods will spare you from turning into a youkai if you give your life savings to the Shrine Maiden. D. Nothing; just hide your mutation from your fellows. Tail feel so good!