Deep, slow breaths. Keep alert, stay aware, awake. Don't look like you're nodding off. Won't look good in front of the Commander, won't inspire any confidence in the rest of the pack. Everybody's on edge, waiting out here in the night, on the edge of this forest, stacks of bamboo thickening so much they look like a wall, the moonlight barely penetrating more than a few inches inside. The Commander's been pushing too hard, too nervous and scared herself, too obvious and unfocused. You glance across the clearing, watching her for a moment as she stands there, arms folded, hand on with the hilt of her sword. For the last half-hour she's done nothing but stare down the pathway into the forest.
The rabbits were supposed to be here an hour ago. Why are we still waiting? Where's the order to give up and withdraw? They're not coming. Hikaru and Akio have already sat down, lain their spears across their knees. It might look relaxed, but it's an illusion. Still lazy though. The Commander is too jittery to discipline them. Arata hovers near, too young to have the confidence to speak up, too old to be stupid enough to whine or complain. Wind cutting through your robes, can't help but shiver. Shift the spear in your grip, stop leaning on it. Going through the motions of battle in your head helps a little. Thrust, parry, stab, duck. Deep, slow breaths.
Moonlight is so harsh tonight.
The Commander turns on her heel without warning, an angry scowl on her face barely concealing the fear and worry beneath. It is just a mission away from the mountain doing this to her? Does she know something we don't? Hikaru and Akio look up at her as she passes, boredom on their faces, but she ignores them. "The rabbits are on their way." She announces. "Still two hundred meters down the pathway." Senses prick up at this. They're coming. Why delay when they asked for the meeting? Waiting until the Moon is brightest? Set up a trap? Keep a tight grip on that spear. "Isamu." She says, pointing at you. "Take Arata, hide just inside the edge of the bamboo, next to the mouth of the pathway. Cut off their escape if things go sour." "Why?" You frown. "Sour? I thought this was contact, not negotiation." Hikaru says, raising his eyebrows at the Commander. She grits her teeth. "Stand up." She orders. Hikaru and Akio take a minute to do so, Akio only getting up after he sees Hikaru shrugging and rising to his feet. Those two share too much time together. Only eyes for each other. "And you." The Commander takes a step towards you. "Don't questions my orders, just do it." Is it the power? The tone in her voice? Strong woman, good hips. Would bear strong sons. You nod in acceptance. "Yes Ma'am."
"Come on Arata. Time to hide." He scurries along after you as you squeeze between the bamboo stalks. The Commander stands in the clearing, Hikaru and Akio either side of her, looking like the perfect picture of a little night time diplomatic envoy.
Grip that spear.
They don't look like rabbits. "What's all that they're wearing?" Arata hisses in your ear. You clamp a hand over his mouth. Unshaved stubble rasps against your palm. Three of them. We outnumber them by two but they don't know that. Right height for rabbits. Black plates on chest and back, black clothing underneath, legs and arms more skin-tight black. Helmets with long sides, protecting the neck. Rabbit ears tucked away? Black visors, no faces to be seen.
The Commander's brow is sweating, even in the cold. She holds her sword's hilt tightly as the three rabbits file into the clearing and stand before her. This isn't right. They would send someone else, not just three soldiers. The tall one, or the doctor. The Commander opens her mouth to speak, but one of the rabbits holds up a hand. The motion is too slow, too chunky. "Inubashiri?" It asks, pointing at the Commander. The voice isn't right, like metal speaking instead of flesh, all the words are wrong, toneless. "Yes." The Commander replies. "I am Inubashiri Momizi. Lord Tenma extends his greetings to Eientei." Her voice is calmer now, procedure and protocol taking over. The rabbits glance at each other. They should be replying, but instead one of them holds something up, a black oblong, curves and angles.
A thunder-crack splits the night open. The Commander crumples to her knees, bloody holes in her chest and stomach. The machine in the rabbit's hand spits metal again and Akio's head snaps back, blood arching through the air, caught by the moonlight in a perfect freeze-frame as you blink in surprise. Hikaru screams with anger and tries to thrust his spear at the nearest of the three rabbits, but he is too slow. Holes open in his legs and he falls heavily into the dirt. The rabbit with the machine steps over Akio's body and makes a hole in Hikaru's head to silence the old Tengu's roars of pain and defiance. The battle is over before it began. Arata shakes with fear beside you.
The rabbits look at each other in silence. Moonlight glints off their visors.
Vengeance. Not the red mist of rage but a cold feeling deep down in the belly. Spreads through the limbs and tingles on the palm of your hand, slick with sweat against the haft of the spear. Little chance of getting out of here alive. No point in trying? Five Tengu lives, three lost pointlessly, two to sell dearly. Three rabbits. Hide here? Reporting back would be pointless, the Mountain will know what happened, they'll send a crow when we don't come home. Hikaru and Akio both have head wounds, they're dead, nothing to save there. The Commander is curled up in a ball on the floor, no head wound. Too much blood. The Moon shows its reflected face in the pooling crimson around her. It's soaked through her clothes.
The rabbits snap out of their stillness with mechanical precision. The middle one places its weapon back inside the armour it wears, under the breast plate. Lack of caution, that can be exploited. Have to be fast, before it draws the weapon again. Arata brings his mouth up to your ear, voice softer than the rustle of a mouse. "We need to get out of here." He says. Too frightened, no resolve. "We can't." You lie. "The only way out is through them, over the bodies of the rest of the pack." His mouth twitches but he says nothing. "Do exactly as I say and we might survive." Another lie. Arata nods once.
One of the rabbits, the one with the weapon, maybe the leader, steps over the Commander's body, heavy boots sticky with blood. Too heavy for rabbits. All of it, the helmets, the gloved hands. Too heavy. "Do we take her?" Another asks. The voice again, all wrong. You grip your spear harder. "No." The leader replies. "Mutilate the bodies." What? "Cut off the heads and take them with us. Outrage is easier than hostages. Tenma is too proud." The two other rabbits nod in acknowledgement. One of them slides a short knife from a sheath on its leg, blade tinted black. Your stomach turns as it crouches next to Hikaru's body, cutting into the neck, pulling and tearing away at the flesh. Close your eyes for a second, ignore it. The warrior does not anger, anger obstructs perfection. Only through perfection can victory be assured. If you emerge now the leader will see you.
Whisper the plan into Arata's ear. Wait.
Dripping blood from the stump of a neck, the rabbit finally lifts Hikaru's head from his shoulders, hands it to the leader and then crouches next to the Commander. Your spear hisses through the air, thrown with all the strength of the Mountain. It shatters the leader's face-plate, blood mixing with the cloud of glass fragments that falls to the floor around the body. Arata screams an incoherent battle-cry, uncertain with fear, and launches himself at the unarmed rabbit. Even as you leap into the clearing you can see the rabbit grabbing the head of Arata's spear and breaking the point off with its bare hands. The rabbit with the knife pauses at the Commander's neck. Slower than the other one and the leader. It stabs at you, fumbling under its breastplate with its other hand. Another weapon.
Let the knife slip into your hand, between the bones of your palm. It matters not, pain matters not. Blood makes the rabbit's grip slick and it surrenders the knife to the wound in your hand. Other hand, fingers under its visor. Slam the head into your knee. Sharp, wooden crack of a breaking neck.
"Isamu! Help!" Arata's panicky cry. The last rabbit brings another weapon of metal-spitting death to bear. Arata knocked the rabbit too far away, gave it too much time to draw the hellish thing.
[ ] Risk yourself for him. [ ] The survivors matter not. Only the dead.
How would we save him? Throw ourselves in front of the bullets? Then rabbit with the gun would just shoot him and our death would be for nothing. The only way I see this ending in victory is if we both rush the rabbit, and hope only one of us gets shot.
Probably something more along the lines of chucking the knife stuck in our hand to wound it, causing it to drop its weapon or otherwise throw its aim off. It would then probably flee. The other choice is to let it kill Arata, using the time to instead close the distance.
>>74462 >would it be safe to say that Eientei could be considered a major enemy?
Not necessarily, we don't actually know that these are rabbits since they've got those helmets on. It could be another group trying to sabotage relations between the Tengu and Eientei. Hell, they could belong to the same faction as the clockwork assassin dude Ebolanon ran into back in ADP1.
>>74473 It might be related to the Buddhist Tenma goddesses but I think that's more a coincidence than anything.
>>Tenma may be written with the characters for "heavens; sky; imperial" (ten) and "true; reality" (ma). Tenma is also the Japanese vocabulary word for 'demon; evil spirit', and 'post horse'. - BabyNamesWorld
This ignores another interesting possibility: "Lord Tenma" being a full title or synonymous to saying "daitengu."
The rabbit's weapons are too fast. The warrior does not feel compassion, emotion clouds the senses, causes poor decisions. Take the opening, ensure victory and vengeance.
Arata screams, almost loud enough to drown out the thumping crack of the weapon. Your uninjured hand finds the haft of your spear, still buried in the leader's face. Projectiles punch through Arata's torso, breaking ribs and pulping flesh, shredding the bamboo behind him, blood splatters mixing with the dirt. The rabbit keeps the weapon chattering for too long. Panic and fear, letting go to emotion and lack of clarity. Stumble with the force of the spear-throw, hard enough to shatter rock. Goes through the side of the rabbit's helmet, pinning the skull to the ground. Twitch, twitch. The projectiles go wide. Arata crumples.
The blade in the palm of you hand comes free with a sucking sound. Tear off your sleeve, wrap the wound, stop the bleeding. Don't think about the blood, don't think about the pain. The battle is over, less than a minute, focus is leaving, shakes and shivers and shock descending. Hikaru's severed head lies on its side, eyes staring off into some place only he can see. Arata isn't even twitching, lungs and heart reduced to a crimson paste.
Don't sit down. Don't close your eyes. Retrieve your spear, foot braced on the rabbit's head. Comes out slick with gore and brain fragments. At least they bleed red. Burial? Nothing to dig with.
The Commander's eyes meet yours. Wipe open.
"... Momizi?" "Uh." She makes a weak sound deep down in her throat. Focus. "Commander." Crouch down next to her. Can't see how bad the wounds are. "Can you speak?" She coughs, blood dribbling from her mouth, swallowing and gasping, deep breaths of a surfacing swimmer. "Yeah." "We need to get you bound up, stop the blood loss." You say, trying to make her look at you. Focus. "This is going to hurt." She opens her mouth wide with a scream as you turn her over onto her back. Fabric pushed into the wounds. Rabbit had a combat knife, black blade slices through Momizi's robes, exposing the holes in her flesh. Two in stomach, one in the ribs. Soak up the blood with her torn clothes. Another scream from the pressure of your hands. She scrambles for something, hand grasping. Your spear. Bites down on the wood of the haft, eyes screwed shut, panting with the pain. Bindings, Akio doesn't need his robes anymore. Distasteful but unimportant. Lift and wrap, lift and wrap. Hurts your wounded hand. Focus. Two holes in her back, third one is missing. Projectile still inside? "Isamu." Momizi mumbles as you tie off the bindings, already watching them soak through with blood. "Yes, Commander?" "Only you?" She coughs blood. "Yes ... just me." She nods, then passes out. Pulse is enough, breathing steady. Wolves are harder to kill than crows. Old martial lines. Lots of blood loss though.
Wind cuts through your clothes. Moonlight is so harsh, silvering the pools of blood.
[ ] You can do nothing more. Wait for a scout crow. [ ] Go, now. This forest isn't safe.
[x] Go, now. This forest isn't safe. Enemy territory. And we should not depend on the support that we are still unsure of when to come. Plus, walking closer to the base is more chance for the scout crow to find us.
Can't pick her up like this, projectiles might have grazed her spine. Too much pressure. Can't do anything alone, have to wait until morning. Until the Mountain sends a crow to look for you. Bleeding casualties have to be kept warm. Hikaru doesn't need his clothes anymore either. Messy job, avoid the neck stump. Ignore the bile in your throat. Wrap around the Commander's shoulders. Arata's-
Too torn up, don't think about it.
What about the rabbits? Two speared in the head and the third with a broken neck, clothing should be intact. Nearest one has the snapped neck. Crouch down, roll it onto it's back. Sightless visor stares up at you, reflecting the full moon. Helmet won't come off. No chin strap. Little mechanisms, loud clicks in the silence of the forest. Jarring impact sends dull pain through your wounded hand. Fingers underneath the visor, tight fit. Rabbit head flops to the ground. Wrong angle, vertebrae all mashed. Rabbits aren't too well-built. Eyes wide and staring, hair unwashed, dull brown straw. Small features, stupid useless ears. Ignore it. Feel for the fastenings of the armour plates. Unclasp, remove. Pouch for the weapon. Put to the side for now. Knife, cut the cloth off the rabbit's body, one clean piece. Pause, glance at the chest, back up at the face. A male. Rare.
More wrapping for Momizi. Next two corpses. Same routine. All males. Small, compact frames. Shattered face of the leader, pulped brains of the other. Ignore, follow procedure. Keep the Commander warm. Line the corpses up. Hikaru's head next to his body, on a bed of bamboo leaves. Keep the bile inside. Akio next to him. Arata is hardest. Close his eyes with the palm of your hand. Lump in your throat. "I'm sorry." You mutter into the night. Stupid.
Momizi like a bundle of rags, wrapped with bloodstains. Pulse still good. Take her water pouch away. Fluid thins what blood is left, don't let her drink even if she begs. Still unconscious. Rabbits in a heap. Breastplates and weapons. Dark metal and strange mechanisms.
It's cold. Focus is leaving again. Deep breaths.
[ ] Examine the gear the rabbits were carrying. [ ] Give in to sleep. It'll help keep the Commander warm.
So they are rabbits. I’m still not sure this was Eientei for a number of reasons.
It is clear the actions of these rabbits were intended to provoke Tengu hostility towards Eientei, and nothing more. Had Eientei been preparing for a conflict with the Tengu, they would have taken an officer like Momizi in for interrogation. Instead, they attempted to kill and mutilate her along with the others. It is also clear that they did not mistake her for someone of lower ranking. We know they knew who she was, as they specifically called her by name when they first met.
Furthermore, I would call into question the ability and motive of Eientei to quickly fabricate the equipment we’ve seen these soldiers use. I do not deny that Eirin possesses the knowledge of how these things work, and if given enough time she likely would be able to produce them. However, Eientei is a hospital, converting it to a machine shop would not be an easy task. And even if she did want an army, why would she equip them such? Rabbits do not seem like type to be easily trained, and they already know how to use magic rather well. Even if she did want to bring technology into it, she seems more like the type to use chemical warfare like mustard gas, or whatever other horrible things her mind could conjure, rather than simple bullets. Though I suppose this nuance could be explained by them having brought a small armory with them when they fled the moon, or perhaps somehow getting their hands on some outsider gear.
But, even if we assume that to be the case, I can still think of no reason Eientei would want war in the first place. Based on what Ran told Ebolanon in ADP1, Eientei seems to have gone isolationist, cutting itself off from the rest of Gensokyo. Understandable, everything’s gone to hell and they want to stay out of the way. Provoking a damn war seems like poor way to remain isolated. Even if they somehow got it in their heads that the Tengu had to die, the best first move would be a surprise attack. Perhaps even a plague, Eirin would certainly be able to create something like that. This provocation seems a foolish move, and she is no fool.
So who are these rabbits working for? Well, there’s only one other group that uses Rabbits, and they’ve got all the technology and motivation to try and pull this off. Lunarians. We know they want Kaguya back, they’d certainly want Eirin back for her genius, and IN only happened because they wanted Reisen back. The Lunarians see Gensokyo in chaos, and they see an opportunity to get their people back. All they have to do is give them that little extra push and they’ll be running back to the Lunar Capital just to survive (or in Kaguya’s case, avoid lifetimes of torture).
>>74296 >>Moonlight is so harsh tonight. >>Waiting until the Moon is brightest? >>caught by the moonlight >>Moonlight glints off their visors. >>74431 >>The Moon shows its reflected face in the pooling crimson around her. >>Moonlight is so harsh, silvering the pools of blood. >>74623 >>Sightless visor stares up at you, reflecting the full moon.
Don't sleep. Don't stop. Don't close your eyes. Keep watch, stay alert, wait for the morning. Sit down, straight-backed, spear across your lap. Deep breathing, focus. The Commander to one side of you, strange weapons on the other. After-action reports will tear through this stuff but what about you? The need to understand burns brightly.
The rabbits' armour-plating is strange to lift, bulky but too light. Same material as the helmets. Didn't stop your spear. Plates for the front and back, protection of vital-organs. Nothing for the rest of them, too exposed at the sides. A placebo? Weapons are more interesting. Too alien. Black metal, ridged. A long block underneath. A trigger just in front of it, like a crossbow. A hole at the end. Hold it like this? Don't test it. Too loud, too risky. Insignia! The moonlight is strong enough to see, if you hold the weapon up. You frown. Can't make out the words. Unfamiliar letters. Not Japanese. Sound them out, lips struggling, language devoid of sense.
"Made in Germany."
Meaningless. Stack the weapons. The Mountain will want to see them.
Dawn is slow to come, weak fingers of light filtering through the stacks of bamboo. Doing math in your head and running through battle techniques can only keep you awake long enough, even the darkest of mornings is welcome. Illumination of the carnage does you no good. Sunlight chasing the moon away and making the coagulated blood sparkle with dew. Check Momizi's pulse. Slower. The sky is empty, not a bird in sight. Breathe, walk, chew your rations. A cloud passes, your shoes are sticky with blood.
Three crows land at Momizi's feet. One of them looks up at you. "She's got a stomach wound. Rabbits." You point at the corpses. "With those." The weapons. The first crow takes off into the blue again, frantic. The other two twist, trick of the light removing them from your sight until two Tengu scouts are standing in front of you. "Isamu." "Sergeant Yasu." Quick Salute. Old friend. She can see you're tired. She nods at you. "I don't know what happened here but we got fucked over didn't we?" "Yes Ma'am." The other scout is taking Momizi's pulse. Little puff of relief. "Just you and her?" Yasu asks. Nod. Don't think about it. "The Commander took two ... projectiles to the gut and another to the chest. She needs to get home, now." You say. "We can't get anybody through." Yasu says. "The forest is crawling with rabbits." Glances at the bodies, the pile of strange weapons. "But not with equipment like that." Frown. "Can you walk?" She asks. "I'm fine." You lie. "We can take Commander Inubashiri by air but not carrying you as well. We'll be back for our dead but not right away. Okay to make it on foot?" Yasu asks. Hand on your shoulder. Old friend. It's a question, not an order.
[ ] You're too tired, ask Yasu to send another crow back for you. [ ] Head out of the forest on foot.
"I've been on watch all night Sergeant." You say. Admit it, ask for help. "I'm exhausted ... and pretty shaken up. I don't think I should be ground-pounding back to the Mountain alone." Yasu nods briskly. "Right. Sit tight and I'll have someone over to pick you up asap." She digs around in her robes and pulls our her water pouch and a bag of ration-bread. "Eat. You'll thank me later." Soft hands pressing food into yours, sleep depravation making all the sensations tighter, more acute. "Thank you Yasu ... Sergeant." You mumble, taking a deep breath. Extended combat high finally ending. Want to sleep for a week.
Yasu and the other scout sling Momizi between them on a roll of cloth. Air-stretcher. Blood blossoms on the underside as they rise into the sky. Fly fast. Sit down amidst the bodies again. Uncork the water-skin, unwrap the bread. Close your eyes, try not to think. In a couple of hours you can lie down and sleep. The Commander is going to be fine. Rest. Not yet. Rub your eyes, crows won't be back for a while.
"Isamu!" Up in the sky, framed against the blue. "Heard you needed picking up!" Jurou waves down at you, then stops and stares at the slaughter. His lips keep moving, but too quiet now, shocked by the aftermath of battle. So many unseasoned Tengu. No wars left to fight, except this one. "What happened out here?" He calls down, hovering to the tree-line. "I'll tell you on the way, I just want to get home now. Okay?" He nods, gulping and blinking his eyes a couple of times. "Sure, sure thing." He murmurs.
Followed by the crack of a weapon, and a fountain of gore as his head explodes.
--- [Heather] ---
Sleep feels really good. Really really good. Total oblivion. Darkness and warmth. "Hey." Yup, that's right, nothing around here going to wake you up. Apart from that hand on your shoulder. "Come on, time to wake up." Nope, nothing bothering you at all. Breath in your ear might be worth noting though. "Heather, wake up. There's food for you." A little voice whispers. So tempting. Your belly does grumble a little at the sound of the word 'food'. "Mmm." You stir in your bed, then open your eyes with a start, realisation dawning. Mayohiga feels warm and bright. The room is filled with gentle morning sunlight, everything glows orange, including her face above you. "Renko. You're up." "Good morning to you too." She smiles. "I-I, sorry! Morning!" You sit up, bunching the bedcovers around your knees. "You're injured, Renko! You should be in bed!"
Renko cocks her head at you, silent. "W-what?!" You nearly yell. "You going to order me into bed with you?" She nearly manages to keep a straight face. "Renko!" You blush. She giggles, gleefully poking you in the side.
[ ] Alright then! Order her into bed! Argh! [ ] She mentioned food. Hunger trumps lust, you're hungry.
Okay so I have a little marker up there for when we switch protagonists, look out for it because there's more than just Isamu and Heather (yes, she has a name now). And don't worry, you haven't heard the last from our unfortunate Tengu, not by a long shot.
>>74725 It’s not so much that I dislike her as a character, as much I don’t like her as the main character. She’s got a personality that makes her rather reliant on others, so it’s not like she can be a big influence on things when they’re calm. She just goes with the flow unless forced into a decision, and when we do vote for her to take the initiative in a situation it comes off as almost out of character. Her abilities aren’t good for much in dangerous situations either, it usually seems to come down to something like: [ ] Make a distraction, lose consciousness [ ] Cry. She’s the helpless MacGuffin girl with mysterious gap powers, it’s just odd to see things written from that perspective.
Though, based on other people posts, I’m a bit in the minority here, so it probably doesn’t matter. Plus, it’s been awhile since I read ADP, so my memory of the character might be a bit distorted.
>stutter. That’s a bit grating too. Though, I’ll admit it’s mostly justified given her mental state.
>>74732 These things were pretty much the reason that ADP needed a lot of work before I could write it again. Hopefully they've been addressed and the new, improved Heather won't be as crippling to base a story around.
>>74746 There was a single stutter in all that dialogue. It will be used sparingly, because it is very annoying.
And for what it's worth, I actually liked "Heather", unlike the other protagonists, she was flawed and far off from some ideal persona. What made her interesting was how she'd ultimately deal with all of this. I hope the adjustments don't take that away, or turn her into some mary sue.
"S-stop!" You swat Renko's hand away, embarrassed. You can't deal with this so early in the morning, gah! The rumble of your stomach outweighs the temptations of the flesh. Even if Renko's only wearing that shirt. Nothing else at all. Bare legs curled underneath her. "Renko!" You all but throw your bed-sheets at her. "You're practically naked!" She giggles again and rolls onto the floor, fighting to free herself from the sheets. "I know, isn't it fun?" She winks at you as you blush and stagger out of bed. Thankfully you're wearing more than her, but you need to change out of these pyjamas. Sweat and-
"Renko." You say, suddenly wiping at your face in surprise. "Hm?" She sits up amidst the bedcovers. "I slept." You say in shock. "Ah!" "I slept! I'm not bleeding!" "No nightmares? Nothing?" You frown. Something swims at the edge of your consciousness. The horrors of the night, locked away behind the wall of sleep. A little twist of movement and a rising wave of nausea. You stop before it continues, taking a few deep breaths, forcing it back down. "I'm ... I'm okay." You say, putting out a hand to steady yourself on Renko, already at your side. "Sure?" You nod. "Yeah. And ... I don't know, there's something in there I just ... can't quite remember it." You swallow, trying to get rid of the feeling of bile in your throat. "You want to lie down? Should I get Ran?" You shake your head. Dammit, you're not a complete invalid. Stop treating me like it! "Food, please."
You eat like a famine victim. Why are you so hungry? Renko lies back on a cushion, her own breakfast long forgotten. The light in the sitting room slowly turns from orange to yellow, the sun rising above the tree-line and bathing everything in morning radiance. You turn for a moment, closing your eyes and cocking your head, letting yourself just absorb the warmth. That feels good. "Hm." Renko makes a little noise. "What is it?" She just looks at you, expression unreadable. "W-what?" You stutter, nervous. "That's what Yuuka does in the sunlight." Renko says, voice cold. You turn back to your food, face turning red. Before you can angrily chomp down another mouthful, Renko is already putting her arms around your shoulders. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that." Her voice is low and soft next to your ear. You don't reply. How can you reply! How can she taunt you like that!" You can feel a lump building in your throat. "Look." Renko starts, rubbing your shoulders. "I just don't-" "You don't trust my judgement. I know." You hiss, feeling hurt already. "If you would just tell us-" "No." You say. "It's between me and Yuuka. I won't ... I w-won't betray her trust. She won't hurt either of us anymore." "But I don't know that." Renko says, sighing.
Just stop it! Stop asking me! This is so confusing. Dammit Renko!
[X] Keep control. [x] But be firm about it. She can't keep second-guessing your decisions.
No use losing our temper, she's just trying to help. Yuka is an unstoppable beast btw, the situation warrants more caution than anything else. Also, we can't grow a backbone overnight, but I'm all for a stronger Heather.
"Renko." You say, trying to keep the anger bottled up, not letting the frustration surface. "You have to trust my judgement." You swallow. Do you trust your own judgement? She's filling your mind with doubt. At least Ran listened to you. "I know that." Renko says. "But-" "N-no!" You say again, almost shouting, feeling the lump in your throat growing bigger. "She won't hurt us. I know that. I k-know it." Renko takes her hands away from your shoulders, slumping back. "Heather, she's not safe." Don't get so condescending with me! "I know she's not s-safe." Keep calm. Close your eyes. Deep breaths. "That's why it's b-better to have her with us than chasing me around." "It's not worth the risk." Renko says, sighing. "She's a killing machine." You glance over your shoulder, meeting Renko's eyes. "So are you." You mutter.
Renko stares at you for a moment, dumb-founded. Then her face scrunches up a little, colour rising to her cheeks. "And I'm on your side." She says, voice shaking. "What about her?" "So is she ... s-sorry." You say, unable to raise your voice. You shouldn't have said that to Renko, you feel so small now. You offended her. She's- "Then tell me why!" Renko says, spreading her hands "What did she say to you that changed your mind so much?" "I-I can't tell you, it's-" "Yeah yeah, between you and her." Renko says, huffing and getting to her feet. She picks up the discarded plates on the table and stomps off to the kitchen. At the doorway, as you feel your face turning red again, Renko stops, suddenly deflating, glances back, expression somewhat softer again. "Heather ... you don't have to explain this stuff to me." She says, frowning at the floor. "Not strictly, you don't have to. But I'd prefer it if you did." She takes a deep breath. "But okay. Whatever." She shrugs. "Yuuka is on our side. I'll ... take that on board, but I don't like it."
Alone with your own thoughts and the clink of plates from the kitchen as Renko does the washing up. You shouldn't have talked to her like that. You feel terrible. If only you didn't have to- Noise and voices in the corridor filter through the walls. Satori and her bodyguards ... pets ... whatever, went home yesterday. Who is it now? You tense up for a moment before recognising Ran's voice. "Just through here, I'll get you something to drink." "Please Miss Ran! There's-" "I insist, come through." The door swishes open and Ran steps into the room, followed by a gaggle of three little people. Not children, but actual little people. You stare for a moment. Midgets? They've got wide faces and large, milky eyes. Even stranger they all have wispy blue hair and seem to be wearing patchwork green and blue overalls, stained with various oils and chemicals. One of them is actually holding a spanner. "Ah! Morning Heather!" Ran seems surprised to see you. "Oh, these are some of the Kappa from inside Gensokyo." She gestures to the three tiny people behind her, who all peer at you, obviously cautious. Not surprising, considering their size. "This is Heather, she's staying with me in Mayohiga at the moment. Don't worry, she's a human, she won't try to eat you."
The smallest one, a female with a massive backpack that rattles when she moves, speaks up urgently "Miss Ran we don't have t-" "Nonsense, get yourselves settled. I know how to treat guests." Ran gestures at the table. "Please." "But-" "I'll be back shortly." Ran says, hurrying into the kitchen.
The three Kappa eye the room nervously, all avoiding looking at you. One of the males whispers into the ear of the female, who frowns and bites her lower lip in worry.
[ ] Awkward! Don't say anything. Wait for Renko or Ran. [ ] "Um ... Hello."
>>74839 That's because you (the reader) never heard her say it. The last thread cut off at the point of taking Yuuka back indoors. She told Heather something that evening, which you will know in good time.
"Um ... Hello." You smile awkwardly and try a little wave at the three kappa. They all suddenly stop moving and stare at you. That's a little creepy. The two males slowly edge behind the female. "Hey! Guys!" The female one complains, turning red and glaring at them. "S-Sorry! I didn't mean to startle you!" You say, feeling terrible already. They're like nervous children, maybe you shouldn't have said anything. The female kappa screws her eyes shut and bunches up her fists, taking a few faltering steps towards you, then stops and peeks at you through one eye. You stare back at her, not sure if you should be amused or worried. Suddenly she lets out a sigh, relaxing and extending a hand for you to shake. "Hi! I'm Nitori!" She says, beaming at you. Her hand is sort of damp, but warm. So small as well. Up close Nitori looks roughly the same size as Satori did, but somehow more carefully defined. Proportions are about right for human, just scaled down.
"Hello Nitori." You try to smile back. "I'm Heather ... but uh, Ran already said that." "That's okay, people like introducing themselves. This is Dugyu and Ruedi," she gestures behind her at the two nervous male kappa. "But they don't say much." You nod as she speaks, the words flowing in a torrent now she's started. "We don't get out much these days, it's too dangerous!" She frowns. "So humans are a bit scary. You know what they did to the Tengu? It was pretty messy. Anyway, you're the girl we pulled in the other day, right?" "Uh ... yeah. Me and Renko." "I don't know why you're so important, and I won't ask." She winks "But did you bring anything in from outside?" She waits for a moment, holding her tongue between her teeth. The two male kappa behind her perk up at her words. "Sorry? Stuff from outside? W-well, my clothes-" "No, I mean like machines! You outsiders carry so much around and I'd be happy to pay you for it!" She grins. It's quite disarming, and a little endearing as well. You sort of wish you did have something to give her. "S-sorry I d-don't-" "Never mind!" Nitori grins again, then frowns. "Here, Ran doesn't want to listen to us, could you make her shut up when she comes back in?" "Make her s-shut up? I ... uh-" "Great!" Nitori finally flops down at the table, gesturing to the two other kappa. They hover behind her, shuffling their feet.
"Another outsider! Right?" Nitori bounds to her feet a moment later as Renko emerges from the kitchen. "Uh ..." Renko looks on, unsure what to say, as Nitori chatters away about paying exorbitant amounts for 'explody boxes' and 'shiny picture circles'. Renko looks over at you, raising an eyebrow. You shrug, almost laughing.
"Here, tea for all." Ran carries a tray from the kitchen. Nitori breaks off from harassing Renko. "Miss Ran we-" "Please Nitori." Ran says, smiling serenely. "But-" "I insist."
[ ] Say it, say it, say it, say it! "Shut up!" [ ] Just stay quiet.
If she explodes, then it's because she's been trying to shoulder everything by herself. She's taken on Yukari's responsibilities without also taking on her indirect methods and tendency to delegate. We need to get her to see Heather and Renko not as further responsibility, but as help.