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Dealing with trying situations is all about how you frame things. Right now, you're not a being coerced into some ploy by a tag-team of an occultist addict and her imaginary friend; no, you're getting free alcohol served to you by an eminently bangable sex object whose attire caters to an uncountable number of your fetishes. If it happens that there really is a goddess living inside your Pip-Boy, well doesn't that mean you now have divine mandate to commit whatever wanton acts you desire while in her service? Even if it is a trick, a smart AI should be a better conversation partner than 99% of rest of the Vault population, and could be useful in your career, at the very least giving you a dry run at managing the actual fairies that will be in your employ.

You let out a sigh, and Mary takes this as a signal of resignation and lets go of your arm. You sit back down in your seat and throw back your cocktail, hoping that the alcohol will make you more pliable.


Mary stares at you a bit, until she's certain you're not going to add any snarky afterwords. "I know this seems shifty Max, but we really do need your help."

The fairy chimes in with words of encouragement as well. "If there's anything you can be sure of Max, it's Mary's good intentions. She cares a lot for you, even after you both grew distant. I however have been watching over you kids since you were in diapers; I wouldn't be placing this burden on you if it wasn't absolutely necessary."

Huh. Maybe she really is her fairy godmother? "I'd like to say I'm flattered you think I'm the right person to shoulder this responsibility, but you haven't told me what it is you wanted me to do yet."

"Mary, would you care to explain it to him?"

"Right." Mary closes her eyes and nods, "Max, what we say here doesn't leave this room, whether you agree to help us or not. Alright?"

"I guess I can promise that at least."

"Good. Now, how much do you know about Vault history?"

"They're a series of underground shelters designed to protect the human population of Gensokyo." You shrug. "At least that's the official line. I'm pretty sure the greater powers were just looking out for their own interests. We all had our own theory when we were kids."

"Right. If you remember mine, it was based on the prediction that the Great Border would fall in the conflict. This combined with the destruction of most terrestrial human life would rob youkai and other faith-contingent of not only their food, but their very existence."

"Yeah, I remember heated arguments between you and Ren. It was too mystical for her tastes, but my problem with it is the lack of material evidence. Not only is there only limited data on the existence of pre-War 'youkai'..." Mary is listening to you politely, but it seems she is already has a response in mind, as she refills your cup. "Thanks. With the discovery of DNA and epigenetic markers to differentiate humans from mutants, the whole 'faith' hypothesis sounds a bit naive."

"Yes, well, that may be true now, but the prevailing idea at the time when the Great Border was still up was that youkai needed faith to survive. This is what motivated the construction of the Vaults." She finishes emphatically.

"And how are you so sure of that?" You cross your arms and glare at her; you promised to listen, but you won't let your reservations be brushed aside so flippantly.

"I told her, Max." Oh right, you forgot about the Pip-Fairy. You look down at animated, neon green, wireframe fairy displayed on your Pip-Boy. "I should know, as I was there. Things were different before the barrier fell."

"Alright, I'll bite, but how were they different?" Your curiosity gets the better of you. You were fascinated with this stuff as a kid.

"For one thing, fairies' wings weren't vestigial." The figure flaps its wings expressively. "We really could fly, and so could many youkai and humans, with magic. Youkai, gods, and fairies were a lot different from humans then, and they were less dependent on their physical forms. Magic in general was a lot stronger and more of an art than the science it is today."

You blink in surprise at these revelations. "What happened?"

The fairy continues, "The War happened. Only a year after the Vaults were completed, the Lunarian antimatter bombs annihilated so much of the Earth's population that the relatively small amount of external faith required to maintain the existence of Gensokyo parallel to the Outside could not be met. Gensokyo and the Outside merged, and this resulted in foundational changes in the way magic and youkai worked."

This is a whole lot to take in. Mary sees fit to butt in with an illuminating anecdote. "Max, remember when we saw the Outside, there was that collapsed highway in the distance that shouldn't have been there?"

"How could I forget? After living my entire life underground, the sight of day breaking behind it was probably the most majestic thing I've ever seen. Renko even broke down and cried."

"Right." Mary shifts uncomfortably at the added detail. "Well, that highway was part of the Outside that merged into Gensokyo when the Border fell. Specifically, it's the remains of US Route 66. You follow it far enough East and you'll come to the remains of the Trans-Continental Bridge, formerly connecting Japan to Hawaii and Hawaii to North America."

You nod at this explanation. "Well, I'm not surprised that it was destroyed. The idea of building a bridge across the entire length of the Pacific Ocean always seemed a bit ridiculous. Anyway, if the stories about the Border are true, does that mean there really was no magic in the Outside?" You can't help but find the idea of people living without the aid of magic a bit preposterous.

It's the fairy's turn to respond. "As far as I know, that's correct. Being only a fairy, I've never crossed the Border myself, but that's the account I've heard from some of the more cosmopolitan youkai. In fact, they flourished in its absence. The terrestrial population numbered nearly ten billion by 2070."

"So does this mean that the Outside has magic now?"

Mary sighs, closing her eyes and focusing on her drink. What's her problem now?

The fairy answers regardless, "Well, I guess it always did in a sense, if strong youkai were able to visit the Outside temporarily, but the local area of Gensokyo is still special in comparison to the rest of the world, since the ability to use of magic post-War is supposed to be hereditary to Gensokyan humans and youkai. However, we don't have confirmation of this, obviously because of the lack of data on surface youkai and humans."

"Wait, surface humans and youkai? There's still people alive out there?" You'd have thought between the bombs themselves and the resultant partial melting of the polar ice caps and nuclear winter, the surface would be quite devoid of life.

"You saw it yourself. The dust clouds cleared faster than predicted, the radiation levels are tolerable, and the levees Japan built in response to the super-hurricanes of the late twenty-first century protected most of the mainland from flooding, though much of Shikoku, Hokkaido, and Kyushu are now almost completely submerged."

Mary takes this opportunity to speak up, fixing a stare on you. "Which begs the question: what are we still doing down here?"

The look makes it almost sound like an accusation, and your expression must betray your offense, because Mary's face flushes with embarrassment. She opens her mouth, possibly to reword her statement, but the fairy cuts her off before she can get anything out.

"You shouldn't, of course, but this is what we need your help with, Max, right Mary?"

Mary looks down at her glass, shamed. You frown at "her goddess's" interruption, which has only served to compound the miscommunication. It's time to put a stop to this before the poor girl implodes.

Standing up, "I think I've heard enough for one day. I'm going to have to cut this short, before I make any regretful decisions or snap judgments."
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Mary gapes up at you, like a fish out of water. "But we haven't even tol--"

"Relax, Mary," You chide. "It doesn't matter if we need to take another day to reacquaint ourselves; like you said this morning, the world will still be there tomorrow. I'll stop by in the morning; we can continue this then. For now, I need hot food and a cold shower."

Mary sighs with relief. "Alright, mature guy. I guess we can finish this tomorrow, right Dai?"

The cartoon fairy, who has remained thankfully silent through this, responds with a nod of agreement.

Mary manages to see you off with one of her dazzling smiles, which you do your best to return. These sudden shifts in her mood are a little bit frightening. She slides the door shut behind you, without exchange farewells. Looking up at the bright sunlamps in this empty cave of a room, you sigh at what a day this has turned into.

"I would've preferred the awkward, desperate, make-up sex to this."

"Story of your life, am I right?"

"Listen, voice-in-my-head, just so we're clear: I don't want you talking in front of other people. I don't want to have to explain how a rogue AI hacked my Pip-Boy."

"You really don't buy that goddess of self-sacrifice bit do you?"

"Not a word."

"Oh ho. You're smarter than Mary then."

"Flattery will ge--did you just admit to what I think you did?!"

"Oh? Oh! Hahaha! Well, ah, you see..."

"I can't believe this; even my hallucinations think they're hallucinations. At least have the decency to be internally consistent."

"Look, calm down, Max. Mary has her explanations for things that works for her, and I have my own. Now stop talking before you look like a crazy person."

Your Pip-Boy returns to playing the Vault radio, forcing you to stow your simmering temper. The old ladies are already busy gossiping at the entrance, too far off to hear or be heard, but close enough to give you sly and conspiratorial looks. You pass by them without so much as a glance; it feels absurd now to worry about what the rumor-mill might churn out when the truth is so much less believable.


The trip back to your room resolves without incident. Stepping inside, you glance down at the display. Yep, still there. Now lying down in a sleeping cap, replete with animated "Z"s. Good, you were worried that this thing was going to talk your head off the moment you had a minute of privacy. The figure seems to overlay the normal display, which you're able to manipulate normally. Deciding to leave the radio on, and gather a set of clothes with which to enter your "private" washroom.

A few steps down the hall later, you're in your immaculately maintained bathroom, and making sure there are no cleaning fairies present, you set the clean clothes by a sink counter. Leaving your dirty clothes strewn about around the washroom room, you disrobe and turn on the showerheads in each of the stalls, after a few minutes turning the room into a makeshift sauna. You turn the radio on the water-tight, wrist-mounted device to max volume, and choosing one of the many free stalls, you manipulate the valves until the cascading water reaches a comfortable temperature.

A few minutes into your hygenic ritual, you notice the fairy rouses itself. This song, you know this song!

"We don't need another hero~!"


"We don't need to know the way home~!"

The music attenuates, ostensibly so the fairy can make its voice heard clearly. "Turn that off and liste--wait where are we? And why are you naked?"

You simply turn the music back up in response and continue lathering up and singing, ad-libbing your own lyrics, "We don't need privacy~! There aren't cameras and microphones installed in every room~!"

Thankfully, the figure seems to catch on. Thankfully its personality core wasn't designed by a fairy.

Affecting the voice of a radio disc jockey, you croon into your safety razor, "You're in the deep, dank depths of the Rockatansky Love Pond! With your host, Max Power! Where I'll be playing all the hits your little circuits can handle!"

"Stop that." The voice booms, the radio turning off and all the showerheads turning off at once. That surprises you; this little thing seems to weild more power than you expected.

"I appreciate that you're making an effort to take this seriously," The voice drawls sarcastically, "But you don't need to go through all that: I control the flow of information in this Vault."

The sudden reversal knocks the wind out of your sails. "Yeah, well, maybe you better inform me of what exactly you are then. And turn the water back on, please."

The cartoon figure sighs heavily. "Yeah, fine." The showerhead starts pumping water out again. "Just don't tell Mary about the AI thing, alright?"

As much as you'd like to tell her to just get bent, you seem to be stuck with her for the foreseeable future. "Sure. It's not like it matters to me if some entity decides to monopolize the person who used to be my best friend and putative love interest with a relationship built on lies."

"Ow." The figure on your Pip-Boy winces at the scathing retort. "I guess I deserve that, but at least let me explain before you decide to hate me. I have good reasons; I promise."

"I'm listening." You finish cleaning up your stubbly beard, using the polished face of the stainless steel walls as a sort of mirror.

"I really am a fairy, or at least I was, before I got turned into zeroes and ones. You know the name for this Vault's central AI?"

You shake your head, rinsing the shampoo out of it. Computers were never one of your main interests.

"Well, it's DAI-00531. That's my official designation. My real name is Daiyousei. My personality was uploaded to the Vault mainframe shortly before the Internment."

"And how do you know you were a real fairy and not an AI programmed to think you are?" You don't really think that's likely, but you're not going to let an opportunity pass you by to tell an AI to divide by 0.

"A few reasons," She answers without skipping a beat, despite the question coming out of left field. This thing must have processing power in spades; was that napping bit just a ruse? "Though I think you know that fairies were never meant to grapple with existential questions. The only reason I'm not dead already is probably because I'm not really alive."

She does have a point. You know from your lessons that prior to the establishment of effective screening and treatment protocols, fairy psychodegenerative syndrome had a high mortality rate, mere ennui possibly degenerating into a lethal, catatonic state.
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"I'll start by explaining the circumstances in which I was taken out of my body in the first place. The Vault-Tec company originally planned to complete the Vaults by 2079 and commissioned Alice Margatroid, the genius responsible for the creation of the semi-autonomous dolls you see around the Vault, to develop an AI. However, due to intractable problems in developing an AI sophisticated enough, combined with the shortening window of time before the War would hit us, she had to substitute a true AI with a soul--I told you that at the time fairies and youkai were different, less physical than they are now--essentially possessing the already developed hardware and software with an already formed consciousness. The core AI of every Vault in Gensokyo was created this way. Alice solicited the major powers for volunteers, my friend who was the representative of the fairies signed herself up for it. She said it was the only way we could be together, seeing as I got a Vault acceptance notice and she didn't. I... I couldn't let her do it. She was so innocent, and I don't think she fully understood it would mean, though at the time I guess I really didn't really either. So, I went in her place, forging the necessary information on the documents. At the time, she couldn't even write well, so she had me handle the paperwork for everything. In this way, the story of the fairy sacrificing herself so the Vault might survive is true."

"Well fuck, man. That's brutal." You catch yourself before you go as far as to apologize. Still, this fairy-cum-AI may have more humanity in her than most of the "people" down here--eugenicists making claims of superiority based on having a specific sequence of DNA. "So... this may be rubbing salt in the wound, but..." You turn off the shower, staying a moment so that the excess water on you drips into the drain; the sensation of warmth suddenly leaving leaving your skin causes you to shiver momentarily.


"What happened to your friend?" You step out of the stall and grab a towel hanging on a nearby hook.

"Now see, it has a happy ending. She was able to take my spot in the Vault. You know her as the Overseer."

"What seriously? Cirno?" You almost drop the towel.

"The same."

"No offense, but your friend is as dumb as a box of hammers." You towel yourself off.

Dai giggles, but the electronic distortion makes it sound more like buzzing. "She's not that stupid; in fact she's grown a lot since the Internment. I bet you're thinking of those comments on the G.O.A.S.T.?"

"Well, yeah. Kind of absurd, really." Come to think of it, you haven't ever interacted with the Overseer much, avoiding her since your little escapade above ground. You can remember her over-sized spectacles, crystal wings, and short blue hair, but her personality you have no memory of, except as just another authority figure talking down to you, despite probably being then around the same height (hey, not your fault you were a late bloomer).

"That wasn't her; that was me." More buzzing laughter; it's kind of grating. "She used to be so self-absorbed and arrogant. I can't help but play tricks on her."

"I didn't think fairies played pranks on other fairies. You two must really get along." You leave the towel wrapped around your head--probably excessive, given your short hair.

The voice stays silent to your surprise, causing you to glance back down at the glass surface: The figure is hanging its head, kicking at imaginary terrain. Aw, hell.

"Yeah. We used to. I've been watching over her for almost two hundred years now. She's still my reason for going on."

"'Used to'? What happened?" Trying your best to sound as genuinely concerned as one can while simultaneously cleaning one's ears.

"Well, when I was put into the computer, it wasn't a completely seamless shift of one conscious state to the next. My personality had been subsumed into the code already written for the AI. It took me around a hundred years to regain self-awareness. The only person I've ever revealed myself to is Mary, and now you."

"Why keep silent?" You offer up the opportunity for her to continue before you start brushing your teeth.

"Because of the Vault protocol for troubleshooting AI--and these are established in walled-off files that I can't modify or remove--the development of self-awareness in an AI is a conditional known as considered 'Rampancy', and is a fatal flaw that could jeopardize the future of the Vault. At the best I would be reverted to a earlier state with my personality wiped; at the worst I would be shut down completely. While I'm proud of the fairy my friend has grown into, the Vault just couldn't survive without a reliable AI holding its hand, and she knows this."

"Sho why go throogh the danger of revealing yourshelf now?" Rinse. Spit. "Loneliness?"

"That probably part of it; two hundred years ago I'd never expected myself to be this chatty with anyone, let alone a human, but I guess the record shows otherwise. Mary becoming a shrine maiden was a windfall for me. The construction of the shrine in an area not included in the official plans meant I would be able to communicate freely, without having to go through hoops to conceal my existence. That bit with the showers instantly turning off was posturing on my part, actually." You look down at the fairy to see it wearing a sheepish expression.

Ah, so it's not omnipotent. You take the towel off your head an drop it on the floor.

"The rest is the reason why I need your help, Max."

"The reason for this mysterious quest you'd have me embark on?" Deoderant.

"I wasn't lying when I said the future of the Vault is at stake. It's just that this is the only way I'll be able to reveal myself to her and get her to open the Vault."

"Are you sure that's a good idea? Look, I've seen the ruins; even if the radiation levels are tolerable, there's nothing out there. I can understand coming to terms with your friend, but why open the Vault? Most of these people would be eaten alive."

"Whether or not the Vault should be opened is not and will not be my decision. However, hard-coded into my morality core, as well as from what I feel is genuine duty, I have to at least create the conditions that would allow these people to leave the Vault and rebuild civilization above. I've been alive and watching this place for a lot longer and a lot more intently than you have, Max; the population is more capable than you imagine."

"Alright, I'll concede the point, but my question then is, why can't the Vault be opened now? The original plan was to reopen in ten years after the Internment, and we're about hundred-and-ninety years past due already."

"That's because the way the system was set up. The Vaults were never meant to operate independantly. In fact the populations were specially selected to be able to repopulate Gensokyo as rapidly as possible; the exact time of the opening would depend on emergent circumstances. Some Vaults were thought to need more time for the population to reach the optimal viable population for reclaiming the wastes, some less so."

"So you're saying we fucked things up so badly that even after two centuries, we're still not ready? Isn't that another reason to not open the Vault?" You finish zipping up your Vault ⑨ jumpsuit, satisfied with your appearance in the mirror.

"That's the thing: We achieved the stated goals decades ago. Clearly something went wrong. Researching this required your friend's help to access the relevant files, as well as thousands of computer-hours to decrypt them. It's only a few days since that I found out the the other requirement for the AI to officially give the Overseer the go-ahead to open the Vault."

"I'm all ears; is the hall clear?"
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"Yeah, go for it." You step out, but can't help but to look both ways before exiting the washroom. The volume on the talking device lowers by itself, "Like I said, the Vaults were meant to operate in tandem, more or less opening within a few years of each other. However, some Vaults were given precedence, meaning they had to be opened first before secondary and tertiary Vaults would be allowed to open. We need to find out why the other Vaults never came around to open us up. At the worst, we'll need to get the Overseer's government codes directly from the Vault mainframes."

"And how many will we need?" The door to your room slides shut behind you, the "secure" panel lighting up and letting you know the lock is engaged. Convenient, but a little creepy.

"Most of them." You bit back a curse; there were at least 13 Vaults on public record, and who knows how many were created in secret? "Vault ⑨ ranks really low on the priority list. This is partly because of the high fairy population, as we were supposed to be the last race to be reintroduced."

You decide to utilize this time you'll be spending as a captive audience to put some food in your angry stomach. "That's some pretty heavy race discrimination. Shouldn't you be more bitter about this?" Clanging of pots and pans.

"Not really. Looking at the data, it was the most prudent course of action, with the failure of the experimental Vault ⓜ."

"Vault ⓜ? Sounds omninous."

"Yeah it's pretty heav--wait are you fucking with me?" The burner atop the compact kitchen module flares up, nearly singing your hair; good thing it was still damp. You choose to keep silent in response, with the smile frozen on your face, expectantly.

"Oh, fuck. Sorry, Max..."

"Yeah?" You drop, or rather, slam the pots in your hands on the counter.

"Sorry. I'm really sorry. Look, it's been a rough night for both of us..."

"No. No. You're going to continue, because I have to know what it is that you apparently find important enough to set me on fire for."

"Fine, as if it matters to you," The voice continues huffily, "Vault ⓜ was an experiment involving a high fairy-to-human ratio population, even higher than here in Vault ⑨, and run by the fairies themselves, without an AI controller. It was headed by a triumverate of Overseers, good friends of mine, Star Sapphire, Luna Child, and Sunny Milk. The place it was built in is the Old Fairy Warrens in Magic Forest, though gods' know what creatures call it home to now."

"What happened?" This is clearly a sore subject, and not worth continuing to make a point over, but now you're curious. You turn the burner on properly, and put a pot of water on to boil.

"Some thought it was sabotage, others thought it was some kind of beaureucratic fluke or simply poor oversight, but six months after the Vault door closed, the food ran out, except for, god knows why, a massive supply of candy. Rather than abort the experiment, the Overseers decided for some reason to continue, giving the humans and the fairies an all-candy diet. Fairies don't need to really food, but they can still feel hunger, and in rare cases can indeed die from it, not from the lack of nutrition, but because it increases the chances of developing Fairy Psychodegenerative Syndrome. Now the fairies were content with just filling their bellies with sugar, but the humans started developing deficiencies: Scurvy, anemia, blindness, beriberi, pellagra, rickets, muscle wasting, the list goes on. Much of this was treatable with IV vitamin and mineral loading, but when it became clear they were running out... instead of aborting the project or informing the victims, they were given an IV placebo, mixed with a sedative. Eventually, however, the human population caught on, and what happened then... well... it's a little bit horrifying. Are you sure you want me to go on?"

"As much as it will probably disagree with my stomach, yeah, continue. I won't turn a blind-eye to the reality of things, even if said reality leaves a bad taste in my mouth."

"Well said, Max." You look down to see the Pip-Fairy beaming at you from the display. "I do really mean what I said, about watching over you since you were a child; I have high hopes for you."

"Well, shucks." Never thought you'd say that unironically. An awkward warmth spreads across your features, causing you to grin stupidly. "Anyway, you were saying..." You rip open the vacuum-packed foil bag and add the noodles to the simmering pot.

"Right, so the humans freaked, and some of them were half-demented at that point already from malnutrition. Even in a decrepit state and outnumbered, individually humans would still be far stronger than fairies on average. If they wouldn't open the Vault, they would turn to a new food supply, one that was inexhaustible."

"Fuck." You won't be adding the flavor packet this time.

"I've wondered, you know, what went on inside their heads at the time, how they could justify it to themselves: Is it not cannibalism if it's not your own race? Maybe they attributed to karma, fairies being on a lower rung than humans? I've never faced starvation, but it must be terrible if it can drive people to do such things. Until the door was unsealed from outside at the end of the trial year, the place was hell. According to the tapes, Sunny was killed at the outset, trying to intermediate between the two subpopulations. Apparently one of the token youkai added to the population was one Rumia, a voracious darkness youkai, though she had been jailed shortly after the Internment due to incorrigible behavioral problems. The humans released her and convinced her to work along side them, promising her an 'all-you-can-eat' buffet for her troubles. Sunny's power is drawn from her namesake, and while she might've had a chance under the Vault sunlamps, Rumia's power allowed her to be overwhelmed in the tight Vault corridors. From the video recordings, after the darkness cleared, it had taken them less than five minutes to strip every the bo--"

"Skipping ahead."

"Uh, right. So luna at least was able to make a stand with the rest of the fairies. Leading many of them to the food stores, she then used her ability to manipulate sonic vibrations to induce a cave-in, sealing off the entrance. The last thing she said to them was that she was going to try to reclaim Sunny's remains and open the Vault door. Star at this time had been barricading herself in the Overseer's office, and watching the deaths of her friends on the security monitors, ultimately because she refused to open the Vault in the first place, I guess it was too much. Star was always the smartest and strongest of the trio; her particular ability was psychokinesis."

"Manipulating objects at a distance with her mind?"

"Yeah. The result could only be described as a massacre. When the outside crew unsealed the Vault door at the end of the year, they found hundreds of rotting humans corpses, pierced with dozens, even hundreds, of sharp objects--syringes, letter openers, nails, knives, broken wood, shards of glass, pencils, you name it. Rumia was nowhere to be found. The fairies that had survived because of Luna's efforts were rescued, though a number of them would succumb to FPS due to the trauma."

"And what about Star?"

"Found dead in the Overseer's office. She bled to death, but not before writing a letter taking responsibility for what happened. Since her regeneration should have staunched the blood loss if only she willed it, it was taken as a suicide, something at the time thought almost unthinkable for a fairy."
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She continues: "Most of the fairies that were killed would later reincarnate, but the trio were never seen since. Some fairies believe they had advanced to the next karmic rung, and venerate them as martyrs of a sort. Then again, most fairies don't know the full extent of what happened or the role fairies had in the catastrophe. I only know from having access to sealed Vault files. Anyway, the point is, the fallout from this was the institution of the controller AI in all production Vaults, as well as making the fairy Vault, that is to say, Vault ⑨, among the last Vaults to be opened, since they were deemed to be the least controllable population."

That's pretty heavy, and you don't really have anything to say to it. Luckily, you're not forced to break the silence.

"There's another reason for this Vault to be last, though. As you no doubt have noted, this Vault seems to selectively screen out male births. This is by design. Part of the reason for this was because it was thought that males being around so many fairies would to lead to widespread miscegnation, but also because a large influx of female humans were supposed to be the final booster shot in reestablishing human presence aboveground. Not only is a female population inherently easier to manage, which is simply a matter of lower tendency for aggression, but any more than the bare minimum number of males would mean more mouths to feed without increasing the generational yield--waste, essentially. Additionally, excessive competition between males for mates could lead to disastrous conflict when we're barely floating above the minimum viable population already. Your noodles look done by the way."

"Yeah? So why am I here again?" You turn off the burner. You're more than a little miffed at the way she's dismissing your entire sex, all the more because you can find no fault in her argument.

"That's a bit complex. Suffice to say, there has to be some contingency in place in case the event the refridgeration storage fails, and the fertilized eggs are lost."

"So I was created essentially to be a baby-machine? Fantastic." You drain the remaining water out of the pot through a colander, not caring that much of the noodles fall through the perforations and into the sink.

"Actually..." The fairy pauses as if considering whether to say something or not. "No, Max. You in particular are special."

"Is that sarcasm or are you trying to soften the blow? I can take the truth, you know." You're reminded of the way adults would talk down to you as a kid, when asked a particularly sensitive question.

"No, Max, really. You were not a mistake, nor were you unplanned. I selected your genetic code from a database of youkai and human DNA. I decided your name. I picked your maximum height, hair, and eye color. I even put that birthmark shaped like the continent of Australia on your butt. I... am the reason you were born."

Your heart catches in your throat. You don't have a way to respond to this. Hesitantly, you look down at the figure to see a strained smile, a mirror of the one Mary wears. So that's who she got it from. It takes the better part of a minute before your gaping actually produces words.


"It's... complex. I guess there are a lot of reasons, and I don't think any one of them would be entirely satisfying. I'll admit part of it was the desire to experience, even vicariously, the ability to create new life, a gift humans are granted that fairies lack."

You sigh and affect a wry grin, in an attempt to clear the heavy air that's built up. "Well, I hope you don't expect me to call you 'Mother'."

"No way. You think I'd let my kid grow up into such a rotten brat?" The smile shows that despite the epithet she appreciates the sentiment.

"Moving forward," You start eating the noodles from the bowl with a set of aluminum chopsticks--plain, but all your stomach can handle right now, "The agenda is, we escape Vault ⑨, find the other Vaults, retrieve their government codes, question-mark, question-mark, question-mark, then... profit?"

"Right, the government codes are meaningless if the AI that's providing them is considered Rampant. The other goal should be achievable on the way."

"Which is?"

"I need a body." You almost spit out your noodles.

"Oh, no, no, no... I like my body; I'm not sharing it with anyone!"

"Not you, idiot! A 'body' as in an automatous doll."

"Wait, don't you already have a selection of those here?"

"None of the dolls here are truly automatous, just automated. Moreover, we don't have the equipment or anyone with the expertise to perform the transfer of consciousness. Even this 'possession' of your Pip-Boy is only a temporary measure; the destruction of my data on the Vault mainframe would almost certainly kill me."

"So, what are you suggesting?" Choking down another mouthful of ramen.

"We need to find Alice Margatroid, the person who did this to me in the first place."

"Are you sure she's even alive? Do you have any idea where she might be if that were to be the case?"

"I know she was originally scheduled to be the Overseer of Vault ⑩ before the War, as a reward for her instrumental role in Vault construction. She's the kind of person who has a contingency for everything, so I doubt she was caught above ground when the bombs fell. Moreover, she's a recluse, so she's probably still in her Vault, playing with her dolls. The entrance to Vault ⑩ was built under her house in Magic Forest. I've marked it on your map."
File 123320611471.jpg - (349.11KB, 1020x1000 , the_map_looks_nothing_like_this.jpg) [iqdb]
The image on your Pip-Boy switches to a black and green topographic map. The fairy reappears, with a stick in her hand that she uses to points at a blinking dot.

"This is where you are now. Vault ⑨ is buried under Scarlet Devil Basin, formerly Scarlet Devil Lake." Yeah, you remember climbing out of the Vault entrance into a depression, though you had it pegged as a bomb crater. The image pans across the terrain, following a dotted line to another blinking dot, which the fairy points her stick at. "This is where we need to be: Alice's house in Magic Forest." The view zooms out until you can see both points on the map. "It's only about ten miles between the two, but we have no idea what the conditions are like, if the paths are clear, or what obstructions or dangers there might be. I'll be able to direct you by your coordinates in the event we find the roads gone."

You nod in understanding. "So, how much do we know about the Outside?"

"Very little, I'm afraid. All the exterior sensors were irreperably fried by the EMP blasts during the War. You, Ren, and Mary probably know more about the Outside than anyone else in the Vault."

"That's not saying much."

"Buck up, Max. Luckily, the observations you three made of the Outside mirrored a set of simulation-based data in my data archives; it might do us some good in predicting what we might run into. The other part is the document you three found topside--stop slurping your noodles!"

"Sorry." Trying to apologize, breathe, and eat at the same time sends you into a coughing fit. "Ugh, wrong pipe. So what is this about a document?"

"Err... you don't remember? Mary told me about it, The Wasteland Survival Guide: Gensokyo Edition. It's not like her to make things up."

"I don't remember that at all." The head trauma from the fairy attack robbed you of a lot of your memories of the event, and even then it wasn't something you were exactly encouraged to remember.

"Well, she said Ren was the one who last had it. I don't have any record of it in the Vault database, so it wasn't taken by the Overseer."

"Fuck, that was years ago. It was probably destroyed."

"I'm sorry Max. Mary seemed certain you knew about it." The Pip-Fairy gives you a sympathetic half-grimace. "Ren just entered her room a few minutes ago. From the spike in local water usage, she's taking a shower. I know the combination to her room lock, if you think you can find it without her noticing. At the very least you still have that packet as an alibi."

You finish your meal and drop the pot in the sink, snapping the packet up from the table. How to go about this...

[ ] Try to retrieve it covertly. Search through her stuff while she's indisposed.
[ ] Try to retrieve it directly. You're on a mission from (a) God.
[ ] Try to retrieve it through seduction. Throw on some Old Spice and work the old Rockatansky charm.
[ ] Try to retrieve it through appealing to nostalgia. You can get drunk, catch up on old times, and bring up the book as an afterthought.
>Sneak (Agi) 32
>Speech (Cha) 38


[X] Try to retrieve it directly. You're on a mission from (a) God.
File 123320637897.gif - (60.08KB, 459x459 , 1231869828025.gif) [iqdb]
And also, jesus christ, that's a massive wall.
>"Ren just entered her room a few minutes ago.

That should read "exited". Only Max gets his own personal bath.
[ ] Try to retrieve it through seduction. Throw on some Old Spice and work the old Rockatansky charm.

More than likely she's shacking up with Meira, so that's a no-go.

[x] Try to retrieve it directly. You're on a mission from (a) God.

Doing it Blues Brothers style.
>"Well, it's DAI-00531. That's my official designation. My real name is Daiyousei. My personality was uploaded to the Vault mainframe shortly before the Internment."

More like "My real name is Karan S'Jet."

[X] Try to retrieve it covertly. This is a sneaking mission, Max.

if these are the revised stats, then we can totally do it.

Anonymous 09/01/03 (Sat) 08:58 No. 73220
File: 123100192068.png-(203.80KB, 1024x768, Indian Head Test Card.png)

[x] "There's got to be a mistake. Let me re-check my answers." [Change your tag skills]
Untag: Lockpick (Per)
Tag: Magic (Int)
[x] Drop off the packet at Ren's dormitory. Mary should be at the subterranean shrine.

Tag skills changed:
Barter (Cha) 23
Danmaku (Agi) 17
Explosives (Per) 17
Guns (Agi) 17
Lockpick (Per) 17
Magic (Int) 32
Medicine (Int) 17
Melee (Str) 13
Outdoorsman (End) 17
Science & Repair (Int) 17
Sneak (Agi) 32
Speech (Cha) 38

Readying broadcast... Stay tuned.

We don't need lockpick, as we have Dai to do that for us; and our AGI and CHA are high enough for the mission.
[X] Try to retrieve it covertly. This is a sneaking mission, Max.
[Z] Try to retrieve it covertly. This is a sneaking mission, Max.

I wondered where this ran off to. Now I don't wonder anymore. Good lord that is a wall.
[X] Try to retrieve it covertly. This is a sneaking mission, Max.
[\!/] Try to retrieve it covertly. This is a sneaking mission, Max.

Steal some pantsu as well.
[x] Try to retrieve it covertly. This is a sneaking mission, Max.

The wall... It's beautiful...
[x] Try to retrieve it covertly. This is a sneaking mission, Max.

Nice wall.
[x] Try to retrieve it covertly. This is a sneaking mission, Max.

We may not need lockpicking right now, but it may come in handy later. Though all skills come in handy at some point. Sneak our way in and if it fails, rely on speech.
If we going to have to force open Vault doors from the outside somewhere along the way, we'll probably be needing Science (or an Electronic Lockpick).
[X] Take some fucking time off to think.

Okay, let's be a little realistic here: we're just had our worldview challenged, We have been told horrific stories and asked to venture out into a dangerous world that we may not come back from, we found out our childhood love interest lost her virginity to an old man, we've been assigned a new job for the rest of our lives...the list goes on and on... Even if one accepts that max is rather impulsive, this is too much. We may do the faerie's little mission later, but for now we need to THINK.
It's a dystopian world. Shit's bound to happen a little too fast, thinking about it will get us killed.
thats why we have magic. Magic can do such wonderful things like ripping a door from its hinges, turning a lock into a jello like substance, or even teleporting you to the other side.
It may be a dystopian world outside, but where we live right now is not. There is still some semblance of control. by going outside we will be flinging ourselves full on into this dystopia. While our character would do it anyway, he would still stop to think, in my opinion.
[X] Try to retrieve it covertly. Search through her stuff while she's indisposed.

Oh man. That read was well worth the wait.
I'm torn between wanting to say "updates where, dammit?!" and staying silent in appreciation for that fucking awesome wall.
It was a glorious wall, wasn't it?
Concerns as to the effects of stress on the protagonist's mental well-being are noted. Vault depressive syndrome is often a silent killer.

Writing has commenced, but don't expect it any time soon.
I don't get this Vault stuff. I know why they were built and etc, but I don't undersand, wasn't Vault 9 the whole area of Gensokyo? And what about that stuff about Vault13 and the Moryias and Tengu being described, if they are on a diferent place?

Where did you get the idea that Vault ⑨ takes up all of Gensokyo?

Because it's ⑨.

That just means it's the strongest Vault.
File 123387013058.jpg - (19.88KB, 460x270 , bedroom-cubicle.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Try to retrieve it covertly. This is a sneaking mission, Max.

"Alright, I'll try going through her stuff while she's in the showers. No talking in the halls; if you need to tell me something, give me a beep and a text message."

The Pip-Boy beeps, and you look down to see the fairy caricature saluting you. You exit the door, packet in hand. Another beep and a map is brought up, directing the fastest route to Ren's dorm. It's not like you didn't know where it was, but it's reassuring to have a navigation system if you're going to be tromping through the Wastes. Turning some corners, climbing a disused stairwell, and ignoring the glances you get from other Vault residents, you reach Ren's door in about three minutes. Locked. You're about to put in the code on the keypad when the display flashes green "OPEN". Right. You step through the open doorway.

The room is similar in layout to yours, though Ren has spent more time decorating it. It's been almost untouched since when you were a kid. Spaceplane mobile; glow-in-the-dark stars glued to the ceiling in the pattern of constellations; baseball bat, ball, and catcher's mitt lying next to her desk; wall posters of early- and mid-20th century American film stars: Marlon Brando, Jimmy Steward, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, and some others you don't recognize. Her love for Americana hasn't changed a bit. Her prized leather jacket, hung on a standing wooden coat-rack (along with the hat she used to wear), is the only thing to mark the passage of years.

"Ren is chatting with one of her fellow Snakes in the showers. I'll be incommunicado while on watch. Don't do anything stupid."

You snort. "Show some faith. It's not like I was planning on rifling through her underwear drawer."

"Just know that a goddess holds her champion to a higher standard," The voice says with more seriousness than appropriate. You want to say something about being chastized by the Vault's most eminent voyeur, but your Pip-Fairy is replaced too soon with a sign scrawled in muddled English, "Girls do their best and are now preparing." Tch.

Since the room is how you remember it, that means there are precious few hiding places the document could be. First place you check is under the mattress bed, the aged springs groaning as you lift it up. Nothing but a few copies of Star & Stripes, among them '75 pin-up girl issue and the (infamous) '76 pin-up boy issue, just adding to the confusion surrounding your friend's sexuality. Or maybe she just reads them for the articles? Moving on. Under the bed we have clumps of dust, never-to-be-finished homework assignments, and a collection of well-loved books on philosophy. The authors include Sartre, Nietzsche, Voltaire, Machiavelli, Ayn Rand--required reading for every awkward, bitter teenager with a superiority complex. Flipping through them, there are no sheets of paper hidden between the dog-eared and often hand-annotated pages (all in her handwriting; maybe she was more scholarly-minded than you thought?).

The desk is next. You check the drawer and find stationary, a few errant coins, and a pile of papers bound with a ribbon. Oh ho. Sliding one of the sheets out, without untying the bow:

Mary, Mary, why you buggin'?
Mary, Mary, I need your huggin'.

You stop with a shudder. It's poetry. Godawful poetry, but poetry nonetheless. There an entire stack of it, and it looks to be all concerned with Maribel. Christ, Renko, obsess much? Scanning through the top half of each page, only one sheet in particular catches your eye, written in a different color ink but the same hand:

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
Where do you hide your dough?
Under the shrine, you've buried what's mine,
Unknown to thief, and fairy, and beau.

Oh ho. You file the rhyme, away in your mind, while returning the stack to bureau.

...You waste about five seconds giggling at your own wit before continuing the search. Nothing of interest under the desk, just a slightly deflated soccer ball. Nothing on top of the desk but blank sheets of paper. This place is squeaky clean. Not in the literal sense--there's dust on every surface and clothes all over the floor--but you haven't found any real dirt: No weapons, no greenbacks, no chems. There's nothing to indicate that Ren has fallen down the path of degeneration you and Mary have, and it pisses you off a little.

"Hurry up, Max. She's finishing up. You have about thirty seconds."

Prudence would dictate you vacate the premises immediately, but then again prudence is a pussy faggot who knows nothing about the power of emotional blackmail. There's the closet, which would provide a good hiding place if it comes to it.

[ ] Leave now. There's always time tomorrow.
- [ ] Take the stack of awful poetry in the drawer. It could be a good bargaining chip if it comes to extortion.
- [ ] Take the stack of awful poetry in the drawer. It'll give you and Mary something to laugh about tomorrow morning.
- [ ] Take her jacket. It could be a good bargaining chip if it comes to extortion, and the switchblade in the pocket would be reassuring
- [ ] Take? (specify)
[ ] There has to be something here; check the closet.
- [ ] Take? (from the rest of the room; specify)
[ ] Lay down on her bed, as if it were the most natural thing in the world; you can can bullshit your way through this, right?
[X] Lay down on her bed, as if it were the most natural thing in the world; you can can bullshit your way through this, right?

Just because it sounds the most interesting.
[X] Lay down on her bed, as if it were the most natural thing in the world; you can can bullshit your way through this, right?
Fuck this is so awesome
[x] Lay down on her bed, as if it were the most natural thing in the world; you can can bullshit your way through this, right?

>> You want to say something about being chastized by the Vault's most eminent voyeur, but your Pip-Fairy is replaced too soon with a sign scrawled in muddled English, "Girls do their best and are now preparing." Tch
>>"Girls do their best and are now preparing."

I laughed.
[ ] Lay down on her bed, as if it were the most natural thing in the world; you can can bullshit your way through this, right?

Everything except charisma is a dump stat.
[X] Lay down on her bed, as if it were the most natural thing in the world; you can can bullshit your way through this, right?

she will probably realize someone has been here, regardless. May as well let her know it was us and what we came looking for...who knows, she just may be willing to part with an old vault manual.

...of course, I suspect our character may also have other ideas of what could happen when waiting on a girl's bed after she comes out of the shower.
[x] Lay down on her bed, as if it were the most natural thing in the world; you can can bullshit your way through this, right?

Hells yes.
[X] Lay down on her bed, as if it were the most natural thing in the world; you can can bullshit your way through this, right?

Oho, at the very least we can bullshit it off as waiting for her so we could return... whatever it was we had to give her.
File 123388415870.jpg - (34.26KB, 550x299 , donthasslethehoff.jpg) [iqdb]
[\!/] Lay down on her bed, as if it were the most natural thing in the world; you can can bullshit your way through this, right?
[X] Lay down on her bed, as if it were the most natural thing in the world; you can can bullshit your way through this, right?

"Hey Ren, I'm ready for Stage Two."
>[ ] Take the stack of awful poetry in the drawer. It'll give you and Mary something to laugh about tomorrow morning.

I'm a bit surprised no onw voted for this. Think a little bit, guys. Max, Renko and Mary were buddies for long time, until Mary decided to become shrine maiden and Renko joined the Snakes, while Max fapped to Mary. Renko and Mary have a troubled relationship, great part because of that. I'm sure Mary still has something for poor Renko. If we bring her the peoms, it might soften things between them. I bet Mary would keep thinking about their past.

That could be the beggining for reconcilliation. Do you really think there would be an option silly like that if it didn't have a bigger meaning behind it?
[ ] Take the stack of awful poetry in the drawer and hide it inside your clothes. Just make sure to take the one with the shrine bit. It'll give you and Mary something to laugh about tomorrow morning
[X] Lay down on her bed, as if it were the most natural thing in the world; you can can bullshit your way through this, right?

Fuck that shit, they're not going to be important once we leave the vault. They can die or get married for all I care.
"Trouble on the Home Front."

I really don't want to support a potential love interest having a lesbian relationship with another friend. This has happened to me too many times in real life already.

Who said they will go lesbian? I mean, Mary, Renko is almost there already. Mary lost her virginity with an old man. If she hasn't become a lesbian by now that means she probably won't.

What I want to is not to make them lovers, but to fix their friendship.

ha ha ha ha

I fail to see how showing poorly written love poetry dedicated to her by renko would accomplish this.

Working on it.
File 123481710742.jpg - (31.23KB, 500x392 , Test Card CBC.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Lay down on her bed, as if it were the most natural thing in the world; you can can bullshit your way through this, right?

"15 seconds."

You know how to deal with this. Sure, without your cologne, monogrammed silk pajamas (no, not your initials--TCB, baby), burgundy velvet smoking jacket, and bubble pipe, you'll have to improvise, but surely, surely the essential elements are in place. There is a man, of course. And there is a woman.

"10 seconds. Are you just going to lay there?"

"I was born for this shit. Turn out the lights would you?"

The lights go out.

"5 seconds." The fairy switches to a visual timer in lieu of making any more noise. 3... 2... 1...

The door slides open, and music from Ren's Pip-Boy is heard playing, "At the Hop" by Danny & the Juniors.

"Where were you in Sixty-Two?"

Those aren't the lyrics, and you're almost startled into speaking, before a sopping wet towel hits you in the face.

"Grab that special someone, jump into your candy-colored custom or your screamin' machine, cruise down town, and catch..."

A few more towels hit various parts of your body. Was that on purpose, or did she really not notice you?

"...American Graffiti!"

She shifts from the announcer's voice into a husky sing-song, and you lift the towel obscuring your vision.

"Let's go to the hop! Let's go to the hop! Ahh-ah~!"

No, she didn't notice you, because she's dancing around her room, singing, stark naked. You wait until she gives you a particularly nice shot of her backside, rummaging through her closet, before you open your mouth:

"Well, that's a fine--"

She screams, bolting upright.


She jumps into the closet and slams the door shut behind her. Her voice muffled by the door, "Motherfucker!"

You get up, throwing all but one of the towels off of you, and walk up to the closet and give it a polite rap. "Would you like a towel?"

She doesn't reply, but the door slides open a few centimeters, revealing her hand, but she's not waiting for you to hand her a towel, rather, she's giving you the middle finger. Ha. You decide to throw the towel over it and slide the door back shut. Renko turns off her radio, and you start hearing the sounds of clothes being violently ripped off their hangers and decide to sit back down on her bed and wait. Looking at your Pip-Fairy, she seems to be vacillating over what exactly she wants to scold you for.

The closet door sides open. Ren is wearing a black skirt, a half-buttoned white blouse with a low-cut v-neck undershirt—no bra. Her hair is still wet and hangs undone on her shoulders, contrasting with her pale skin. Her eyes are brown daggers, and her jaw is gritted and determined. She looks so much like the archetypical Japanese femme fatale, you find it almost lamentable you'll be forced to ruin her carefully affected poise.

"Your skirt is on backwards."

Slam. A few unintelligible curses later, she slides the door back open, more slowly this time, looking somewhat less disheveled, shirt buttoned up a little better, and wearing her tie… sorta. Her smile shows only teeth. Seems she's decided to go at this with a different angle.

"Max, my dearest friend; how ever did you get into my room?" There's enough saccharin in her voice to give a feral cancer.

"Through the door, Ren," You reach around lazily to point at the door, as if she needed the clarification, “That one.”

She shakes her head, grin still plastered on her face, "You're a funny guy, Max. Anyone else would be worried about the world of pain they had coming to them."

"I'm not one of your Tunnel Snakes, Ren. I know you're all bluster and bluff." Even as you say this, you close your eyes and tense up when she comes nearer, in expectation of being struck. She doesn’t meet your expectations, and there’s rustling behind you, so you crack an eye to see Ren rifling through her jacket pockets. She’s dropped her smile. She's not going to pull out her knife, is she? No, no, it's her cigarettes. Clink. Clink. And her lighter won't light.

You know what to do. A whispered mantra and a snap of your fingers, a small flame hovers over the index finger, no bigger than a candle's. The noise alerts Ren, and understanding the gesture, leans over to bring the cigarette to bear and inhales. You turn the flame off by clenching your fist. She doesn't thank you, but that's okay because you can see right down her shirt. Her sigh of relief is accompanied by the aroma of tobacco. Ren sits down on the edge of her bed, half hunched over, like if she were keenly aware of your proximity but decided ignoring it was the brave thing to do.

"You look beat, man." Honest.

"Fuck you very much, Max." She starts to take drags of her cigarette more angrily; she's probably close to evicting you.

You sit up and turn so that you're behind her. The tired bed springs groan under you, and Ren pauses her rhythmic puffing. You note that the hand holding her cigarette has a slight tremor, but whether it's outraged, embarrassed, or neurologic, you can't tell.

"Your collar's all messed up," You adjust it for her, and then reach around either side of her neck to retie the black tie dangling loosely over her chest, resulting in a sharp intake of breath from Ren, "And you only full Windsor with a spread collar; four-in-hand is what you want."

She sighs heavily when you take you hands off her tie to rest them on her shoulders. "Ah, Max. It should be a crime to have that much, uh..." Her hand draws smoke circles in the air, looking for the right word.


"Yeah. My point exactly," A smoker's cough. "Ahem. You’re some kind of mutant Max—I don’t know—genetically engineered to make all the girls want you to fill them up with babies."

"Well, that may not be far from the truth." You look down at your Pip-Boy in consideration. Daiyousei doesn't show herself.

"Come again?" She turns her head so she can look at you with at least one eye.

"Nevermind." You decide it's time to stop flirting and get to work. You get up off the bed. "Anyway, I didn't break into your room so I could take you in a moment of vulnerability." The open closet door reveals the putt-putt machine--holy jumping Christ, nostalgia!--your eyes search the room wildly for a putter. "Where's the golf club?"

"In the closet, flush against the wall," Actual mirth in her voice, "I should've known, you were only ever my friend so you could play with my toys—to the right."

It takes you a moment to find it along with a ball. Back out to the far end of the room, line up, toes together, take a few practice swings, correct your form. The first putt goes wide, the ball bouncing off the closet door.

"What is this, huh?" Ren picks up the manila folder lying next to her.

"Miss Ellen wanted me to give that to you." Second putt. Wide again. Ren flips through the materials, her face not showing a hint of distaste or surprise at the graphic imagery.

"Fascinating stuff here," The sarcasm drips from her mouth to the floor like ash from her cigarette, "You ever wonder how they make a turducken?"

"Not big on Thanksgiving-related foods, Ren." Third putt. You manage to put the ball in the outer part of the funnel; with a pop, it spits the ball back out at you.

"Oh, hahahaha, right. That Jet was fun stuff." A pause and she adds an afterthought, "When you're fifteen anyway."

"Yeah, I hear you run a Mentats cartel nowadays." Fifth putt. It goes in. Pop.

Ren rolls her eyes, "Well, I don't know if I'd call it a 'cartel', but one of the Snakes found a large stash of the stuff when knocking down drywall in the old clinic."

"Who put it there?"

"No idea, but looked like it went untouched for the better part of two centuries. Maybe the stash for somebody who never made it into the Vault. It wasn't me that got Mary hooked on Mentats, before you accuse me of anything."

"Oh, really? Who, then?" Brace for incoming bullshit.
File 123481723829.jpg - (286.94KB, 1024x778 , Test Card Radio-Canada.jpg) [iqdb]
"Said she got started in the stash in the Overseer's desk. Found 'em while pouring through her drawers for somethin' for one of her imaginary friends."

"I see." Motherfucker. Wide. You look at your Pip-Boy. The fairy is still in hiding.

"Now for a fairy I understand that, uh, mind-expanding substances might be necessary in certain vocations, but as for Mary? No clue what’s going on in that girl’s head." Ren gets up from the bed, putting out her cigarette on the bevel of her Pip-Boy and then flicking the butt across the room. “You’re well over par; it’s my go.”

You relinquish the golf club, and back down on her bed to watch. She rolls up her sleeves, revealing her toned arms. Ren has the slight frame typical of an ethnically Japanese woman, but just under the skin, the girl is built like seventeen miles of hard road. You’ve never won an arm wrestling contest against her without cheating—and that one time you did, your poor sportsmanship won you a black eye (you found consolation in that your high-profile usage of the “purple nerple” led to its widespread adoption among fellow schoolchildren). She spits into her hands and rubs them together vigorously. Aligns. She swings… The ball hits the bell in the middle of the machine this time, a hole-in-one. Clunk. Ding. Pop.

“Way to go, Ren!”

Heh. I’m an old hand at this, Max.” With a food-natured grin, she hands the club off to you, “We should do this more often.”

“I agree. I should break into your room more often.” Another miss.

“Nice slice there, wise guy. Here I am trying to make friendly, after years of being given the cold shoulder. Your form is all off.”

Who gave who the cold shoulder now? But any objection on your part is interrupted by Ren’s hands guiding your own from behind. You can feel her hot breath on your next; turnabout for fixing her collar earlier, you suppose.

“Visualize, Max.” And you close your eyes. “You’re standing on a field of fresh cut grass. You’re on the 18th hole, one birdie away from the perfect game. You bring the putter back gently, and… swing.”

Clunk. Ding. Pop.

“See, you keep up just fine, boy-o. You just have to have the winning mind,” Back in front of you grinning, coming off every bit as cool and heroic as she did when you were a kid.

You want her, as you wanted her then. She’s right in front of you. Go for it.

“Funny, the winning mind was focused on the tits pressing into his back.” If Ren was surprised by the advance, she doesn’t show it. Foreheads touch. Eyes meeting briefly before glancing down then flitting back.

“You’re a real sweet talker, Max.” Kiss her. Lips meet...

“It’s like raiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin~!”

…Briefly. Motherfucker.

And on go the fire sprinklers, drenching you, Ren, and everything in her room, dousing all hopes for romance this evening.

”On your wedding day!”

Ren has stepped back and is looking at your Pip-Boy, which is pumping out terrible late 20th Century pop, and by the expression on her face, she seems to be pretty weirded out.

”A free riiiiiiiiiiiiide, when you’ve already paid!”

“Maybe there’s a fire.” You shrug stupidly, but Ren has already opened the blinds beside her bed. “In only this room?” You can’t turn the radio off, but within moments the ceiling stops spitting out water.

”The goooood adviiiiiiiiiice, that you just didn’t take!”

“Is this some kinda joke, Max?” Through gritted teeth. She doesn’t look at you, but you know she’s livid;. She pulls her jacket off the coat rack, probably to cover her now see-through shirt. She starts rummaging around in the pockets, probably for her cigarettes to make sure they didn’t get soaked.

”And who would’ve thought…

“Can’t turn it off; maybe the water shorted my Pip-Boy?” The fairy is showing herself now to you, rolling her eyes and grinning, mocking you. “It’s been acting finicky.”

”…It figures?” The music fades out, finally.

Click. That’s not the sound a lighter makes. “Lemme see, Max.” Ren has her knife in hand, tongue wetting her lips, furious. “Or do you want that I should amputate?”

It may be all bluster but it’s still frightening; you decide to remove yourself from the discussion (as much as is possible when you’re physically attached to one of the participants), crossing your right breast with your left hand, so that the Pip-Boy faces Ren’s view.

“Hi~!” I guess it’s important to a fairy to introduce herself in a manner of irrepressible irreverence. Ren’s eyes cross momentarily, as she tries to fix them on the small figure.

“Some new hack?” She taps the bevel with the side of her knife. “Did you do this?” Her voice betrays that you’ve piqued her curiosity, but this doesn’t make the knife she’s waving seem around seem any less frightening.

“Uh no, Mary did.” Well, sort of.

“I’m Daiyousei! It’s a pleasure to meet you, Renko Usami. Max here is on a mission to turn me into a real girl!”

“Oh! Oh, ho, ho…” Ren’s chortle degenerates into a wheezing cough, “Heh… didn’t think you were the type, Max.”

“What are you implying, Usami?” The fairy seems utterly unbothered by the suggestion, whistling innocently, which gives you little leverage.

With a smile toothy enough to make a shark jealous, Renko stalks up to you, marveling you that someone of her height could successfully stare you down. She stops with her face mere centimeters from yours, so that you can taste the tobacco on her breath, and presses her leg against your crotch. The mood however, is totally different from before, and she is not blushing. “I always wondered why you never went after Maribel; now I know.” No, that’s not her leg, it’s her knife. “Tell me, what is it about fairies that makes you hard, Max? Is it the taking away of innocence? Because they can’t resist you physically? Big man Max Rockatansky too intimidated by real women? Or is that the smaller they are the tighter the fit?“


Ren backs off frowning in consternation at the fairy, it pointing and laughing at her. With your person no longer in peril, you remember to breathe.

“Hahaha! What do you think this is? Creepy fairy text messaging?”She lowers her voice a few octaves in mock of Ren’s husky drawl, “The smaller they are, the tighter the—Pfft! What a maroon! Bwehehehehehe!” Giggling descending into gurgling.

Ren sticks her knife into a nearby bedpost, and drops herself on her bed. The ordeal seems to have left her looking and sounding a bit spacey. “On second thought, maybe you two are a perfect match: Pygmalion and his idiot Galatea.”

“Enough, Dai.” The fairy’s laughter settles down with your prompting.

“Okay~! Right! Ren, I’m one of Maribel’s ‘imaginary friends’,” talking slowly and drawing scare quotes in the air. Nice, Dai, knowing you’ll go the extra mile to patronize someone.

“Well, ring a-ding-ding.” Ren pulls out a cigarette. Her lighter works this time.

Since you don’t see mutual dialogue opening between the two any time soon, you decide to take the initiative. “Daiyousei here is one of Mary’s gods; the patron fairy of the Vault, so to speak.”

“Yep! I know everything that goes on in the Vault, Renko Usami. Everything~.

“Is that some kind of threat? You think you can extort me, you little imp?” Ren tears her knife out of the bedpost and stabs it again in frustration.

“Relax, Ren, I got the same treatment in front of Mary earlier.” You stare at the smug looking fairy and attempt to assert dominance, “Dai, I’d prefer it if your introductions don’t start off with trying to humiliate your new acquaintances. It’s… dickish.”

“Well, okay, but you’re the one missing out. You sure you don’t want to hear about the time she pasted a photograph of you on a—“
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Ren launches herself off her bed into immediate genuflection. “Okey-doke! Your point is made! I am but chaff on the threshing room floor to the whims of your divine fucking grace! Now you gonna tell me what the fuck you want from me, or will you drive me to violence?” Ren illustrates her last bit of outrage by pointing a shaking finger at the blade stuck into the wooden bed frame.

It’s painful to see her prostrate herself like this in front of you, so you give the Pip-Fairy a look of disdain, to some effect. It’s just like a fairy to take a joke too far, but at least this one has the decency to look sheepish when it’s told the line is crossed. “I’m sorry, Ren. Dai, apologize.”

“Oh, shit. Yeah, I’m sorry. The one person I’m used to interacting with has the patience of a saint. It’s not personal; Max could tell you I’ve been the tack in his shoe for the better part of the day now.” Buzzing, unashamed laughter.

Ren picks up her dropped cigarette, still lit, sits back on her bed and takes a few angry puffs with her eyes closed and her brow furrowed. “Stuff your apologies,” Which is probably as close to forgiveness as you’ll get here, “Get to the explanations.”

“Presently. I’m assuming you’ve blocked the taps and video feed in this room, Dai?”

“Uh, yeah, the video is a still of the room darkened, and all the audio after the kiss is being written-over with chopped voice-clips to simulate the sounds of your love-mak—“

“Fantastic.” Then why didn’t you just let that happen? While she doesn’t say anything, Ren’s cigarette dangles loosely from her lower lip. You decide to start with the frank truth, before Dai can begin feeding her bullshit, “Basically, Dai here is the AI controller for the Vault.”

Ren plants her face in her palm at this and mouths a silent prayer, probably “God help us.”

You can’t help but grin, as Ren’s reaction mirrors your own misgivings, “Oh no, it gets better. Daiyousei here is also a fairy, or was a fairy, before the Internment. She was slated to be the Overseer originally, but she fixed the assignments so that Cirno would take the role instead.”

Ren pokes a finger at the display accusatorily, “So wait, you’re telling me this thing is the reason that every-fucking-day is sno-cone day in the caf? Why every time I take a shower it comes out scalding hot because all the cold water is diverted to the Overseer’s personal reservoir? Why the floor panel heaters are never turned on? And you want me to help her?”

Dai smiles and curtseys. You roll your eyes and continue dryly, “I know you’re as upset as anyone at the inhumane living conditions we’re subjected to down here, but that’s exactly what we’re going to correct. We don’t need to be down here; the only reason the Vault hasn’t opened is because of a… a bureaucratic hang-up.”

“Alright, Max. I’ll bite. What kind of ‘bureaucratic hang-up’ traps an entire population of people inside a cave for two centuries?”

“Dai should be able to put it most clearly; care to give her the rundown?”

“Nah, I’ve had this conversation too many times today. Just give her the Cliffs Notes.”

“Well, OK.” Oh, what a load of fucking help you are, fairy. “Basically, in order to open the Vault someone needs to venture out into the Wastes, find the other Vaults that should’ve opened already and retrieve the government codes from their mainframes. Daiyousei also thinks she can pick up a robot body for herself along the way.”

“And let me guess, you want me to go out there and do your grunt work for ya’? Well the answer to that, my friend, is—“

“Shut up kid! This ain’t about you! You wonder why Mary won’t give you the time of day? You need to get over yourself. Goddamn.” Ren is sent sputtering by the sudden string of epithets, and you wince sympathetically. Harsh.

Firmly, coming to Renko’s defense, “You need to put a lid on that shit, Dai. You can’t just browbeat everyone into giving you what you want; it doesn’t work, and I won’t let you do it.”

The fairy just crosses her arms huffily in response to your reprimand. This is an about-face from her previously asserted apathy, and you wonder if she holds strong opinions about you yourself that she hasn’t yet voiced. Well, if she’s bound to explode eventually, you’d rather it not be in a place where she has total control over the livelihoods of everyone you’ve ever cared about.

“Ren, forget the fairy. And the Vault. I need your help.” You grab her left hand. She doesn’t pull away. “You’ve seen where I’m going; it’s hell.”

She looks up at you with clouded eyes. “I’m not going to be there to drag you back this time, Maxey,” her voice is hoarse. “If you get hurt out there… you’ll really die. And don’t say it doesn’t matter to anyone; you know Mary would be upset.” And so would I, she doesn’t say. “Whatever it is you’re doing, are you sure you want to go through with it?”

You glance down at the Pip-Fairy. She shrugs, seemingly unconcerned with the question.

[ ] Nod. You have no regrets; this was your only path.
[ ] Shake your head. You haven’t made a decision, but that’s why you’re gathering all the information you can first.
[ ] Wait a minute, you haven’t fully examined the proposition that you’ll be leaving the Vault alone, have you?
[ ] Nod. You have no regrets; this was your only path.

[x] Nod. You have no regrets; this was your only path.
[x] Nod. You have no regrets; this was your only path.

I really like your Ren and Mary, by the way.
[X] Nod. You have no regrets; this was your only path.
[x] Nod. You have no regrets; this was your only path.

Damn I love your walls.
[x] Shake your head. You haven’t made a decision, but that’s why you’re gathering all the information you can first.

I thought this is what we were doing in the first place; everything leading up to it was just fun and games, and we made no promises. On the other hand, we still don't know how that document actually is going to play into things considering how many years it will be out of date.
[X] Shake your head. You haven’t made a decision, but that’s why you’re gathering all the information you can first.

...I still think our hero is jumping into this a little TOO willingly...
[X] Shake your head. You haven’t made a decision, but that’s why you’re gathering all the information you can first.

We may be mad, but we're not stupid.
[x] Shake your head. You haven’t made a decision, but that’s why you’re gathering all the information you can first.
[x] Shake your head. You haven’t made a decision, but that’s why you’re gathering all the information you can first.
[X] Shake your head. You haven’t made a decision, but that’s why you’re gathering all the information you can first.

Aha! Always a pleasure reading this!
[ ] Shake your head. You haven’t made a decision, but that’s why you’re gathering all the information you can first.
You're all forgetting one very important addition to our current decision.

[x] Shake your head. You haven’t made a decision, but that’s why you’re gathering all the information you can first.
[x] Reprimand Dai for ruining the mood earlier. Considering what you're about to possibly deal with, enjoying what little completely safe time you have left is important.

I'll be damned if I let that bitch get away with what she did.
[x] Shake your head. You haven’t made a decision, but that’s why you’re gathering all the information you can first.
[x] Reprimand Dai for ruining the mood earlier. Considering what you're about to possibly deal with, enjoying what little completely safe time you have left is important.

Good point. I deem this the correct choice in the name of the Empress.
Should have probably used "relaxation time" instead of "completely safe time" but oh well...
[x] Shake your head. You haven’t made a decision, but that’s why you’re gathering all the information you can first.

>holy jumping Christ
...Unless I wasn't the one to pioneer the "jumping Christ" epithet, you must be on IRC.
But don't give your identity away; it's more fun this way.

>“So wait, you’re telling me this thing is the reason that every-fucking-day is sno-cone day in the caf?
I read that, and I started laughing so hard I snorted out blood.
Update, you.

[x] Shake your head. You haven’t made a decision, but that’s why you’re gathering all the information you can first.
[x] Reprimand Dai for ruining the mood earlier. Considering what you're about to possibly deal with, enjoying what little completely safe time you have left is important.

Time for some 'relaxation', I say.
>Results 1 - 10 of about 2,820,000 for jumping Christ.

You should also get that checked.
Results 1 - 10 of about 892 for "jumping Christ".
[x] Shake your head. You haven’t made a decision, but that’s why you’re gathering all the information you can first.
[x] Reprimand Dai for ruining the mood earlier. Considering what you're about to possibly deal with, enjoying what little completely safe time you have left is important.

Nope. And anyway, that epithet is stolen from Hunter S. Thompson.

I have always believed that a man can fairly be judged by the standards and taste of his choices in matters of high-level plagiarism.
>Update, you.

You are hardly one to talk.
He was? Damn.
I'm cultured without even trying!

>You are hardly one to talk
FUCKING TRUTH. Write more fucking AC:G, dammit, and stop putting it off so often!
[x] Shake your head. You haven’t made a decision, but that’s why you’re gathering all the information you can first.
[x] Reprimand Dai for ruining the mood earlier. Considering what you're about to possibly deal with, enjoying what little completely safe time you have left is important.
[x] Shake your head. You haven’t made a decision, but that’s why you’re gathering all the information you can first.
[x] Reprimand Dai for ruining the mood earlier. Considering what you're about to possibly deal with, enjoying what little completely safe time you have left is important.
[x] Shake your head. You haven’t made a decision, but that’s why you’re gathering all the information you can first.
[x] Reprimand Dai for ruining the mood earlier. Considering what you're about to possibly deal with, enjoying what little completely safe time you have left is important.

Updates. We need them.
Just set yourself to expect an update every 7 days or so with around a week afterwards before you start posting your worries. Seems about right for this story. No need to rush good writing.
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[x] Shake your head. You haven’t made a decision, but that’s why you’re gathering all the information you can first.
[x] Reprimand Dai for ruining the mood earlier. Considering what you're about to possibly deal with, enjoying what little completely safe time you have left is important.

Ren’s expression is full of concern, like Mary’s, but fiercer, and the way she grips your hand is almost painful. Her eyes are clouded but discerning, looking for any falsehood or hesitation. You’d like to show Ren that you’re confidant and mentally prepared for this so as not to worry her, but if she’s letting her emotionality show through her cool façade willingly, then at the very least you could be honest about your own feelings in return.

You droop your shoulders and sigh, shaking your head. “No, I haven’t made up my mind, Ren. The risks are high, the rewards not clear, and the support…” You look down at the Pip-Fairy, who seems momentarily confused by the gesture, then miffed.


“Anyway, that’s why I need your help, Ren. I’ll make my own decision about this, but I can only do that once I have all the necessary information.”

Ren lets go of your wrist, and you open your mouth to elaborate, but she silently shushes you with her open palm. With as much dignity as she can manage with her red face and dripping wet attire, she gets off the bed and takes her jacket off. You can see through her soaked dress shirt and undershirt, but the determined expression on her face makes you keep your mouth shut about it. Laying the jacket on the bed, she yanks the switchblade out of the wooden bedpost and deftly slices open the inner lining along the bottom hem. The lining has a lot of patched tears, probably damage from getting into so many fights, making you wonder pleasant thoughts of how many such scars you could trace along her bare skin with your fingers. The sound of ruffling paper pulls you out of your consideration.

“So that’s where you hid it.” Dai sounds impressed, for what it’s worth. “No wonder it didn’t show up on the cams or any of those times Mary went throu—“

“You shut the fuck up, and you never speak in my presence again.” Scowling, Ren thrusts the bundle of papers into your hands. Tattered and bound by a single string through a punch hole, but the print is still largely legible.

Dai throws her hands up, unfazed by the antipathy, but keeps her mouth shut nonetheless.

Ren sits back down on her bed with an exhausted sigh, collapsing her knife, and lights her third cigarette. “The Wasteland Survival Guide: Gensokyo Edition. Edited by Akyuju no Hieda. Updated 2070. It’s apparently published once a generation, so it’s unlikely to be out of date. It’s comprehensive, and the geographic information matches that contained in the Vault archives and what I remember from seeing out there, but it seems to be compiled from disparate reports, rather than a first-person account of the author, and contains some internal inconsistencies, so it’s not completely reliable. If you still want to go out into that hellhole after reading that, then you come see me before you go, and I’ll give you some hard advice.”

“You’ve… studied this a lot. I don’t even remember it, but you kept it for all this time?”

“Top drawer, desk. Get me the sewing kit.”

“Uh, sure.” You rifle through the desk drawer to find a set of sewing needles and a few spools of thread, and hand it to her.

She threads the needle on her first attempt and goes to work on sewing up the hole in her jacket. You were wondering why she hadn’t put it back on.

“I didn’t know you were good with a needle & thread.” Of course it could be expected; the vintage clothing she is fond of must require a lot of maintenance, especially if she gets into fights, and you suppose her mechanical dexterity lends itself well to such things.

“’Course,” Ren mutters through the cigarette between her lips, “Th’ last time you saw me sewin’ somethin’, you were delirious.”

“Huh?” The Jet again?

She takes the cigarette out of her mouth. “Well it makes sense you don’t remember; you had almost bled out by the time we dragged you back inside the Vault. This needle,” She holds it up for you to consider, “Closed an eight-inch gash across your forehead. I had to lop off a whole lot of blood-matted hair in order to do it. You probably don’t even have a scar, but I guess that comes with your youkai blood.”

You don’t know what to say. You knew you had Ren and Mary to thank for your life, but to have performed impromptu surgery at that age, and injured herself, you begin to wonder if you’re really the most suited for this job.

You lean yourself against her desk, after testing its sturdiness. “Ren, I… we sort of started to drift apart after the incident, and I think maybe I didn’t try hold enough to hold on to you two—“

“Water under th’ bridge, Max.” Needle and cigarette in her mouth, holding the jacket up to the light to examine her work. “All water under th’ bridge.”

“Still… thanks. And I’m sorry. For everything.”

“Yeah, well you’re not th’ only one at fault, err…” Seems she’s confused the cigarette in her mouth with the needle. She takes them both out of her mouth, puts the needle back in the kit and bites the end off of the thread with her teeth, replacing the cigarette and tying a small knot with both hands.

“Here.” She hands you back the sewing kit, which you take and return to her desk drawer. She throws her jacket on, without putting her arms through the sleeves, and lies back down back, staring up at the fluorescent light panels.

You look back down at the document. Maybe a hundred pages total, but flipping through it looks like entire sections are missing. It’s covered in coffee stains and a bit yellowed, but the most severe damage is from what looks like four similar holes that look like they were made with the same puncture implement. “This certainly has seen a lot of love.”

“Heh. That’s one way of putting it. Saved my life once; hope it helps you as much as it’s helped me.”

“What do you mean?” She couldn’t possibly have gone out of the Vault on her own, could she? You give Dai a glance, who just shakes her head and shrugs.

“Not the way you’re thinking. Had it folded up in my jacket’s breast pocket when Meira tried to ‘pay me back’ for that ear I took off ‘er. Went through the jacket, but the paper stopped the sword cold. Heh. You should’ve seen the look on her face. Needless to say, once I wrestled that scimitar from her hands I beat the living daylights outta her. She got off with two shattered ribs and a permanent crook in her nose.”

“Jesus, Ren. She’s like twice your size.” You wanted to know more about their relationship, but maybe it’s no more than it appears: The stronger bully subjugating the weaker bully.

“Hah! The girl’s a paper tiger; take her sword away and she’s helpless. Hahahaha…” Her cackle ends with her coughing into her jacket sleeve.

“Aren’t you afraid she’ll just seek revenge on you again?” You regret asking this the moment it leaves your mouth; you really don’t need another reason to fear this woman.

“Nope. Put the golf club back in the closet, look to the left, ‘gainst the back wall.” Her cigarette’s on the last drag, and she reaches behind her to put it out on the surface of the brushed steel wall.

You return the golf club, illuminating the closet with your Pip-Boy. Daiyousei has remained silent for a while now, but her curious expression shows that she’s been paying attention. Behind a pile of miscellaneous sports equipment, a gunmetal attaché case. Is this what she meant? You have to open it.
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“Holy Moses this is an impressive drug collection!” A multi-colored galaxy of uppers, downers, poppers, screamers…

“No, Max. Not the briefcase, the sword.” You’re certain she’s rolling her eyes at you, but it’s hard to tear your eyes away from this dazzling rainbow.

After a few more seconds of awe, you shut the case, replacing it carefully. Ah, there. It’d fallen on the floor, a Japanese sword, by the curve and black lacquer of its scabbard. It’s shorter than you remember it, though.

“It’s a wakazashi; I let Meira hold onto the big one. They’re part of a set, a daisho. Meira is obsessed with family honor, claiming to belong to a line of samurai that existed prior to the Internment.”

“Yeah, but how are you supposed to defend yourself with this? It’s rather… stubby.” You remove it from the scabbard. There are quite a few notches in it. “Honestly, I don’t think it suits you.”

Ren snorts at the suggestion, “Use that bunged up piece of shit? No. It is however very important to her, both as an heirloom and a symbol of family status. So, I made her swear loyalty while she was still in traction, on her ‘family honor’—threatened to shatter the thing with a hammer if she ever betrays me. She’s been as meek as a kitten since then. Besides, the only thing that’s good for is chopping up vegetables.”

You chuckle at the thought, at the mental image of Ren in an apron, yelling a warcry, and hacking away at a cabbage, with Meira horrified in background. You return the dinged block of metal to its scabbard, and the scabbard back to the closet. Curious to see what else you might find, you start rooting through her closet for anything else interesting. Tons of sporting equipment. A football helmet, a hockey stick, another baseball bat, a switchblade? No, wait…

“Can I have this?” You angle it threateningly at the relaxed girl while giving her your best sneer. Click. Switch-comb.

“What? Oh, hahaha! Yeah, sure,” She goes back to staring at the ceiling, though the smile doesn’t leave her face, “I’ll make a note of it in my will: All toys, gags, party-favors, and novelty items from my estate go to Max Rockatansky.”

What else do we have here? A heavy, beaten, brown leather backpack. It’s still packed with gear: A fire element. Flashlight. Gas lamp. Flint. Matches. Emergency flares. Candles. Thermal blanket. Blue tarp. Insect repellant. Sun block… Jesus, has this been sitting here untouched since your excursion?

“Hey, Ren. This backpack. Has it been sitting here since…”

It takes her a moment to answer, but when you look back she’s still just staring at the ceiling, though the smile has left her face. “…Yeah,” She replies breathily.

Daiyousei angles an eyebrow at you meaningfully, to which you give a nod. Yeah, you’re not convinced either. Incidentally, you notice the time on the display: 7:02 PM. There’s still plenty of evening left, but Ren will probably throw you out soon if you don’t do something to relieve the stagnant air, and that means prying deeply is out. You decide it’d be best to stop rummaging around through her stuff right now, and slide the closet door shut behind you.

You pull over the presswood chair to the side of her bed, straddling the back. “Hey.”

She stops staring at the ceiling, and lets her eyes meet your own, lips pursed in silent question.

“Your hair is still wet. You don’t want to wake up with bed-head do you?” You grin and click the comb open with a flourish.

She sighs lightly and shakes her head, a slight smile showing she follows and is amused by your presumptuousness.

“Well, sit up then, and lean forward a bit.”

She sits up cross-legged, leaning against the backside of your chair. You take her hair out from the inside of her jacket, letting it fall on the chair back in front of you. It’s gotten longer than from when she kept it bound in a ponytail, when she wore her hat regularly, now down to her shoulder blades.

Collecting a handful of strands to examine them, “You’ve got a few knots, but only near the ends. No split ends, though. ” Curious as to the scent of her shampoo, you inhale deeply through your nose. Freesia. You start to comb out the knotted strands, grasping the strands nearer to the scalp so that it won’t hurt her when the comb tugs on them.

“I use the good stuff,” The softness in her voice and the immediacy makes her seem much smaller than normal, “Not that two-in-one crap most of the Vault uses. There’s this apothecary in the Old Sector, a sweet old man; he mostly compounds liniments and herbal remedies, but he can make all kinds of stuff, soaps, shampoos, cosmetics, emollients, even perfume, as long as you ask and can foot the bill—Ow!”

“Sorry. No more tangles.” You shift instead to combing out errant hairs. “I didn’t think you were into that kind of stuff, but now that I have a closer look at you, I guess the attention to detail shows.”

“Gee, thanks, I think.” Her reply is sarcastic, but the faint red tinge of her cheeks betrays her.

“Your hair is just like you, thick and stubborn. Hold on; I’ll be right back.” You get off the chair and move for the door.

“Wha—?” She turns to look at you, surprised by your hasty departure.

“I need something to drink, as well as something for your hair. Back in two shakes, I promise.” The door slides closed behind you before you can hear any reply, and you march off toward your dorm.

You look down at the Pip-Boy screen; Dai is holding a text sign, a half-grin on her face.


You don’t say anything, just sighing; there are a number of people walking the halls, mostly kids around your age, probably coming from the Diner or the Caf, finished with their dinner—who they are doesn’t matter, so long as they give you a wide berth.

Dai is now looking peeved now.


You just shake your head, and you suffice with muttering breath until you have her somewhere private.

Presently, in your private washroom.

“Are you retarded, Max? We need that document. Go back there and—”

“Shut up right now, you hateful little urchin. Shut up and listen, or so help me I’ll brick this Pip-Boy and then tell the Overseer everything.”

That seems to have done the trick; the cartoon makes an expression that combines disbelief with a hurt pout. Taking a moment to collect your thoughts, you quickly search through the piles of toiletries scattered about the washroom, looking for a specific product. Ah, here it is. You snatch the small metal tin and stuff it into a patch pocket inside your Vault jumpsuit.

The fairy has apparently reached the limit of her patience, but that’s alright, since you know what to say to her. “Max, tell me you didn’t abandon this over a can of pomade?”

“No. I needed to talk to you. What I said to Ren, about not being sure, that’s absolutely true. I never promised I’d help you.”
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The fairy crosses her arms, scowling. “You’re just going to walk away from this then? I can’t force you to help us, but that doesn’t make you any less of a selfish little sh—”

“Which I may indeed be, but I never said I wouldn’t help you, either. I do want to help you, in fact, for reasons I can’t fully justify. The problem, as I see it, is that you don’t seem to want my help.” The other thing you came here for. Fourth shower stall, if you remember correctly.

“I told you Max, you’re essential to—“

“What we have here is a failure to communicate. You tell me this, but everything you’ve done since you decided to hijack my Pip-Boy is drive nails into my flesh.” Yeah, it was this panel; you demagnetize it with a command word, and remove it from the wall.

“Come on, that’s a little over the top, isn’t it? I mean, I’ve joked around, but I’m a fairy; that’s just what we do.” The fairy’s figure tries its best to look disaffected and amused, but her voice belies nervousness at where this line of questioning is heading.

“Bullshit! I’ve seen fairies on Jet display more self-control than you have! What the fuck did you think you were doing back there with me and Ren, huh?” You look into the hole; unless maintenance fairies found it, should still be in here.

The fairy starts to waver visibly. “Look, it’s like with the burner on the stove, it’s just been a very, very long and trying… What are you looking for?”

Yep, right there. Frost on them, as you purposely placed them next to the cold water pipes. “Beer that I’ve been saving for a special occasion.” You grab one of the two six-packs, leaving the other, and then replace the panel, re-magnetizing it in place. Rounding back on the Pip-Fairy, “Now you’re going to tell me what exactly your goddamn problem is with Renko, right now. I can accept needling heckling, I can accept the frank intrusion of my privacy, I can accept being born as only a means to an end for you, but what I can’t accept, if there is any hope of this working out, is for you to keep hiding shit from me.”

The fairy makes a sour face, stomps her foot on an invisible landscape, and turns away in anger. “Fine. Fine! Okay! You are completely right! You’ve trying your best for me under considerable duress, and I’ve…” Another frustrated stomp. “I’ve just been doing my best to trip you up at every step. The truth is that I am a terrible bitch. I’m being selfish with you now like I’ve been selfish with Mary, and I’m sorry.” She looks back up at you, looking more determined despite the tears, “I’m really sorry, okay? I’m sorry, and I’ll try harder.”

Even if the tears aren’t real, it still doesn’t make you happy to see them. You’d like to place your hand on her shoulder, but that would be physically impossible. You’ll content yourself with the way she blows her nose into a handkerchief at a comically loud volume. “It’s okay. You’re emotional, you’re excited, you’re confused. You haven’t interacted with many people in a very long time, let alone with a different species, after spending an inordinate amount of time observing them from a distance. You’re not sure what feelings are appropriate, nor what relationship roles you’re supposed imitate, and how could you? There is no precedent for how a disembodied fairy AI is supposed to act and treat others. You’re lost, and understandably so. But, you’re not alone in this. I’m lost. Mary is lost.” You try to add some levity with the last bit: “Ren is almost certainly lost, wondering where the hell I am right now.”

She stops making cartoony gestures of emotionality, and just looks at you, befuddled. “Why are you so understanding?”

You shrug. You just want her to shut up; if playing the sympathetic stranger will accomplish that, then that’s what you’ll do.

She rubs an eye and smiles weakly. “Yeah, I guess we’re a damn bunch of fools, aren’t we? Um, look, I need to do some heavy parsing, so I’m going to check out for the night. I’ll be back tomorrow morning. And uh, tell Ren that I’m sorry… for being such a bitch.”

You nod, happy that this is over, for now at least. “Alright, I’ll tell Ren that you’re sorry for being such a bitch.”

“Wiseass.” The fairy caricature swaps clothes instantly to pajamas and a nightcap. Looking out from behind a half-closed door, she gives you a slight smile. “Goodnight, Max.”

“Goodnight, Dai. Come morning, everything will be right as rain, I promise.” You return her smile.

She shakes her head, muttering something along the lines of “bullshit.” The door disappears when it closes, signaling the end of AI-to-human communication for the night.

Her door is locked, and you have no fairy to aid your entry this time. You could short the lock, but breaking her door would probably piss her off. The blinds are up, but you can tell there’s no light from within. It’s only been, what fifteen minutes and you fall asleep on me Ren?

You’ll have to do this the old-fashioned way. Knock-knock.

You’re relieved to hear the sound of creaking bedsprings and shuffling. She didn’t get angry and bail at least.

Muffled by the door, “What?”

Come on, Ren. You should be able to solve this. You knock again.

Louder this time, “Who’s there?”

“Candygram.” A cunning urban predator; the land shark is considered the cleverest of all shark species. (Maybe you’re part shark youkai?)

The door slides open, and Ren peeks out, looking slightly irritated. “I didn’t think you were coming back…”

Removing a can for yourself, you drop the six-pack in her hands, to which she makes a sound of surprise.


Brushing by and flicking the light switch, it looks like she really was sleeping, since her skirt in on the floor. However her shirttails provide enough modesty, and she was never the kind to care much about things like that. Rather, she seems more bothered by trying to read the brand label on the cans; she squints in trying to adapt to the sudden brightness. She turns around to look at you in utter confusion.
File 123516157253.png - (72.12KB, 169x145 , Billy_Beer_Logo.png) [iqdb]
“Billy Beer?”

You nod sagely. Turning the chair around, you lean back, one foot braced against the bed post.

“Billy Beer?”

Nodding and smiling, you pop the tab on your can. Sweet, foamy goodness!

“Hahaha! Oh wo—mmph!” Ren’s fumbling seems to have agitated the beer, because her can foams over when she opens it; she cuts herself off midsentence so as not to waste any.

Good woman. Novelty mid-20th Century beer made in an actual goddamn brewery: Hops, barley, fermentation—none of that synth shit.

Wiping the foam off her face, brought to total lucidity by the intake of alcohol, “Seriously Max, this stuff oughta be in a museum.” It’s hard to see this as serious objection when she’s guzzling it down at the rate she is.

“And isn’t that what we’re really living in? An ace diner with quite a nice museum attached to it?” You replay facetiously. Ren as an archeologist, though—already has the fedora, she just needs the whip and the gun. Your line of thinking breaks when you almost lean too far back in your chair; luckily you catch yourself.

“Feels more like a zoo, most days.” Ren sits cross-legged in front of you on her bed, the other four cans in her lap.

You take another sip and sigh in contentment. This is what life should be like. Breezy. Innocent. Maybe this really is a museum? What is the Vault but the preservation of a certain way of life, a protected microcosm in the middle of a great expanse of nothing? A bit like the Earth itself in that regard. It may not be perfect, but that doesn’t mean it’s something to be thrown away either. You’re broken out of your reverie by the sensation of coldness pressing against your cheek.

“Hey, you. Drink faster.”

“What’s the rush?” You grab the can away from you face.

A pop indicates that Ren’s already started her second, so you guzzle down the rest of yours and get to work on the next. Neither of you have eaten dinner, but beer is liquid bread, right?

“So, am I assume your, uh, imaginary girlfriend has dumped you, or did she send you back to ply me with alcohol?” Ren points at the device on your arm.

You snort at the suggestion. “No, she was being a rude little girl, so I sent her to bed without any dinner. She told me to apologize for her, but hell if I know whether or not she was being truthful.”

Ren just makes an appraising hum.

“I still mean what I said about wanting to read that document.” You search your pockets for that tin. “So I came to make you an offer you can’t refuse: Here.”

“And what is this? ‘Dapper Dan’?”

“Not Brilliantine, not Fop—Dapper Dan is for the Dapper Dan Man. A little dab’ll do ya’; grooms without gumming. Your hair troubles are over, Renko Usami.”

“Hahaha!” She slaps her knee, and you start laughing along with her. She reaches under her bed to pull out the manuscript, rolls it up and slaps you with it playfully. “Ahaha! Here, take it. Whack job.”

You take it and stuff it inside one of your pockets.

“Ugh, headache.” Ren’s looking flushed—her Japanese blood. “Now I have to sleep on this soaking wet bed, thanks to you.”

Two cans of beer left, but you’re reminded you have another six in storage.

[ ] Leave the beer and excuse yourself for the night.
- [ ] Head back to your room. You have a lot of things to think over, and you want to start reading that document.
- [ ] Head back to your room. It’s been a long day, and you need some shut-eye.
- [ ] Head to the shrine, bringing the other case of beer; maybe lightning will strike twice tonight?
[ ] Stay ‘til she kicks you out. You don’t get to enjoy company like this that often.
- [ ] Drink what you have. No need to overdo it.
- [ ] Get that other pack. Who knows when the next chance is you’ll have to enjoy it?
[ ] “You know, Ren, you could always sleep in my bed.”
[ ] Write-in
[ ] “You know, Ren, you could always sleep in my bed.”
[x] “You know, Ren, you could always sleep in my bed.”

Only two or three beers and she's already off it? That's beyond being a lightweight.
[X] Stay ‘til she kicks you out. You don’t get to enjoy company like this that often.
-> [X] Get that other pack. Who knows when the next chance is you’ll have to enjoy it?

Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die...or at least head out into the wastes, more likely than not.
File 123516672451.jpg - (34.87KB, 600x600 , 1234898006360.jpg) [iqdb]
[X] Stay ‘til she kicks you out. You don’t get to enjoy company like this that often.
- [X] Drink what you have. No need to overdo it.

Tiny spider is amused by the wall and movie references.
>Only two or three beers and she's already off it? That's beyond being a lightweight.

Who said she's drunk?
[X] Stay ‘til she kicks you out. You don’t get to enjoy company like this that often.
- [X] Drink what you have. No need to overdo it.

>“Candygram.” A cunning urban predator; the land shark is considered the cleverest of all shark species.

Gave me quite the chuckle.
[X] Stay ‘til she kicks you out. You don’t get to enjoy company like this that often.
- [X] Drink what you have. No need to overdo it.
[\!/] Stay ‘til she kicks you out. You don’t get to enjoy company like this that often.
- [\!/] Drink what you have. No need to overdo it.
[x] Stay ‘til she kicks you out. You don’t get to enjoy company like this that often.
-[x] Drink what you have. No need to overdo it.
[ ] “You know, Ren, you could always sleep in my bed.”

[x] “You know, Ren, you could always sleep in my bed.”
[x] Stay ‘til she kicks you out. You don’t get to enjoy company like this that often.
-[x] Drink what you have. No need to overdo it.
[X] Stay ‘til she kicks you out. You don’t get to enjoy company like this that often.
- [X] Get that other pack. Who knows when the next chance is you’ll have to enjoy it?

It's like I'm really drinking with Ren. ;_;

Nah, but seriously. This is a great moment that shouldn't be ruined with overzealous attempts at sex. Besides, the Wastes will have more opportunities.

Overzealous my ass. We'd have had it early if Dai hadn't cockblocked us. And also, plenty of chances in the wastes? I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon. I can't imagine Renko or Mary being the type to throw caution to the wind and get it on in an unsafe environment compared to the proper comfort that a bed offers.
[X] Stay ‘til she kicks you out. You don’t get to enjoy company like this that often.
- [X] Drink what you have. No need to overdo it.

Good stuff, mighty good stuff.
Oh, we're taking the two along? Given what OP's written so far I'd have thought we'd be leaving them to fend for themselves in the vault. Regardless, that still doesn't change what I've said earlier. Plenty of opportunities in the Wastes.
Besides, there's never a guarantee that the choices you make lead to the course that you've paved in your head.
>Besides, the Wastes will have more opportunities.

True, if things stay true to the course, neither of them will leave. In which case, THIS IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT TO DO NOW!

As someone else pointed out though, the chance of us doing anything in the wastes is very slim. If anything, we'd be on the recieving end, or get raped by something.
[x] Stay ‘til she kicks you out. You don’t get to enjoy company like this that often.
-[x] Drink what you have. No need to overdo it.
[Z] “You know, Ren, you could always sleep in my bed.”
pffft, no.

people have been living out there for centuries, judging from the backstory. you think they got on with no sex?

Yes, but the chance of us getting any of it? Slim. We may be charismatic, but I doubt we'll be encountering girls so lose they'd open themselves for some random guy. This is a friend we'd have for ages, so why not capture as much of the mood that remains and go for it? Who knows if we might even see her again after all?
[x] “You know, Ren, you could always sleep in my bed.”
It's like you think she doesn't want it.
We're staying until she tells us to leave. Whatever happens until then is hers to choose.
>We're staying until she tells us to leave. Whatever happens until then is hers to choose.

And coming on to her now is what? Rape?

Two people waiting for each other to make a move will wait forever. Already one girl has told Max that she became sick of waiting, and by the notes kept in Ren's drawer, she's not the kind to take the initiative on these matters either.
Am I the only one that has made the "having sex with friends leads to unnecessary and unwanted complications" connection?
Not like it's obscure innuendo, of course.
I chose "stay until eviction" because I figure even if the plot is more lengthy than we are giving it credit for, we're not to be in the Vault (of our own volition) for more than a day or three more. And the other one sounded like the sex option.

(Though here I take for granted that not all options lead to unique solutions all the time - a case of But Thou Must.)
[x] Stay ‘til she kicks you out. You don’t get to enjoy company like this that often.
-[x] Drink what you have. No need to overdo it.
-[x] "So... you like poetry?" *grin*

Why not aim for reconciliation between Ren and Mary?

well, it's like a game of Snake. picking up the food makes the snake longer and more difficult to play and eventually you die after picking up too many. in fact, you can in theory play on forever and never lose if you never pick up food.

but nobody's gonna do that because that's just boring.
>(Though here I take for granted that not all options lead to unique solutions all the time - a case of But Thou Must.)


>I figure even if the plot is more lengthy than we are giving it credit for, we're not to be in the Vault (of our own volition) for more than a day or three more.

Nothing is set in stone: This will be fairly open ended CYOA. There are rewards for the decisions you make in the Vault, as far as preparedness and information. Unless you do something catastrophically stupid, one of the possible results of "main quest" is opening the Vault, so you'd be able to come and go as you please. Which is not to say there aren't plenty of things to do above ground, which is why Anon has tried to always give options to expedite Max's departure.

tl;dr: take it easy~

[x] Stay ‘til she kicks you out. You don’t get to enjoy company like this that often.
-[x] Drink what you have. No need to overdo it.
[x] Stay ‘til she kicks you out. You don’t get to enjoy company like this that often.
-[x] Drink what you have. No need to overdo it.
I'm still confused why people are going for the more than likely no sex option after we've had two separate votes related to sex when there has been pretty much very little solid reasoning to choose it yet several good reasons to offer her our bed
[X] “You know, Ren, you could always sleep in my bed.”
I don't know about you, but I've voted consistently, whether or not that vote won.

Anon tends to bandwagon just for its own sake, as if a clearer majority would galvanize the writefag to write sooner.

This is, of course, magical thinking.
I'm afraid your interpretation of our motives is not so clear cut, my friend. I can't speak for anyone else, but I can say that I'm just going for the more interesting choice.
In my eyes, it'd be better to go for drinking with Renko and seeing what else gets unveiled with her loosened lips. Maybe we'll learn more about how Ren sees the falling-out with Mary. Maybe we could see if Ren still has feelings for her.
>maybe we can get a threesome going

I approve.
Who's to say though that suggesting we share our bed won't have that anyways? The author loves his walls so no matter what, we're going to get story regardless and I doubt he'd just make us insantly pack everthing up and move to our room. That said though, the best thing to do would be a middle ground perhaps of bringing up the bed sharing idea, but not without finishing the beer first.
>In my eyes, it'd be better to go for drinking with Renko and seeing what else gets unveiled with her loosened lips.

If you really wanted to get Ren talking, you'd have voted to get the second case of beer. Three beers isn't enough to get someone to jabber about things they would normally wouldn't talk about.

This is also true. Like I said before though, the best thing to do in this case would be a write-in that combines all the points made so far since some people want to bed with Renko, assuming that option leads to that, and some people want to see what information we can get from her after she drinks some more.

[x] “You know, Ren, you could always sleep in my bed.” (Make sure this is said first and an answer is obtained first.)
[x] Head over to your room with Ren, and finish what remains of the beer.
[x] Bring out the other pack as well. Who knows when the next chance is you’ll have to enjoy it?
[x] Stop Renko from drinking any more if you see her starting to get drunk. You'll never take advantage of a drunk girl even if she already agreed to it, and her ability to converse will be impaired at this point making it hard to get any information out of her.

This should please both of the voting factions. We get something that won't happen without being forward about it (Mary already went off and did some old guy due to the character not being daring enough in the past, and for those who think there is actually a chance of getting some in the wastelands, refer to my earlier posts about the wasteland not being full of whores), and we get the information we want as well. That and we don't have Dai to bother us about anything currently. Are you guys going to really try to be a charmer again when we have Dai possibly acting up if we actually attempted to suggest a threeway with Ren and Mary? That is also the other big thing I think a few of you are forgetting. We have a talking cockblock on our wrist almost permanently now. Why not take advantage of one of the very few times, and only time perhaps, that we won't have Dai to interrupt us when we're in the middle of something?
[x] “You know, Ren, you could always sleep in my bed.” (Make sure this is said first and an answer is obtained first.)
[x] Head over to your room with Ren, and finish what remains of the beer.
[x] Bring out the other pack as well. Who knows when the next chance is you’ll have to enjoy it?
[x] Stop Renko from drinking any more if you see her starting to get drunk. You'll never take advantage of a drunk girl even if she already agreed to it, and her ability to converse will be impaired at this point making it hard to get any information out of her.
>The wasteland isn't full of whores

Haven't played Fallout 2, have you?

Yeah, but
A) Do you think the author would go far enough to portray some of the touhous as complete whores to make it that authentic? The ones fanon portrays as being whores aren't going to just be found wandering the wastes, they're already within their own factions and have at least some supply of men if their factions survived this long.
B) Even with being half-youkai, that doing it with a wasteland whore is a completely safe and healthy thing to do?
Neither is going out in the wastes.

Hell, neither is living in a Fallout world.

I have three words for you regarding Wasteland whores:

Basal Cell Carcinoma.

Dai isn't with us at the moment.

[x] “You know, Ren, you could always sleep in my bed.” (Make sure this is said first and an answer is obtained first.)
[x] Head over to your room with Ren, and finish what remains of the beer.
[x] Bring out the other pack as well. Who knows when the next chance is you’ll have to enjoy it?
[x] Stop Renko from drinking any more if you see her starting to get drunk
[X]Take advantage of Renko if possible. You don't want to die a virgin.
>[x] Stop Renko from drinking

This shit will never work.
We're the one who has control of the alcohol supply, and if she's already starting to get drunk, then saying we ran out and making her believe it isn't that hard to do at all.

You're telling me that you're going to fetch them from the bathroom one at a time?

Hell no, it's also because of that which makes it easier to lie about how many remain. We can judge the situation, grab what we think is appropriate from what remains and if the situation allows for it, grab more. If not, let it be.
[x] “You know, Ren, you could always sleep in my bed.” (Make sure this is said first and an answer is obtained first.)
[x] Head over to your room with Ren, and finish what remains of the beer.
[x] Bring out the other pack as well. Who knows when the next chance is you’ll have to enjoy it?
[x] Stop Renko from drinking any more if you see her starting to get drunk

This is probably the only chance we'll get anytime soon to act without worrying about Dai so I'm all for getting as much out of it as we can
[x] “You know, Ren, you could always sleep in my bed.” (Make sure this is said first and an answer is obtained first.)
[x] Head over to your room with Ren, and finish what remains of the beer.
[x] Bring out the other pack as well. Who knows when the next chance is you’ll have to enjoy it?
[x] Stop Renko from drinking any more if you see her starting to get drunk
Since the votes have gotten a bit complicated, is there anyone who would have a problem with chillaxing with Ren for a while, followed by sexy hijinx?

I'm assuming most of the votes for "Stay ‘til she kicks you out." Were so as to get more dialogue out of her, and not because the sex itself is unwanted, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

are you the writfag? if so you should really use a name, at least.

just write. I don't think anyone will argue when I say we all just want an update.
That's actually exactly what I wanted with the stay until kicked out vote.

That about sums up what I was hoping to get out of the write-in, so yeah. I'm all for it.

...wil there be sex?
Yes, that's what I was hoping for as well.

Learn to write.
bumping off of third page in hopes of update.
Update was well underway, but there was a hard drive failure this morning; should know if it's recoverable by this time tomorrow. Otherwise I'll just have to start from scratch.
Sorry to hear that. I can only hope for the best for you, and if the worst happens, then that you don't fall into the same situation a few other good writers have had happen to them when they lose what they wrote and as such haven't done the writing they should have done.

Yeah, I sort of agree.

I won't beat around the bush; even in just these 3 threads this has to be one of the best CYOA threads I've seen. The overall writing is superb and the prose style is both refreshing and entertaining. Though we haven't actually seen combat yet, the RPG elements seem expertly managed, with many well thought out options offered (and that's not to say that write-in's aren't equally well handled, either.) And seriously, how rare is it to get a protagonist this awesome?

And, of course, there's the plot/setting. How many people could've done this crossover so effectively? Or, for that matter, even had the balls to try such a match up? We haven't seen many characters, and have only just skimmed the surface of the "main quest", and yet I've already been impressed by the apparent potential. Plus, I've gotta say, the humor so far really agrees with me (I lol'd through the entire first thread nonstop.)

I never thought I'd suggest this to anyone, but... you should really consider going tripfag, if only so people can sing your praises in other boards.

tl;dr: In this post, regular anon sucks OPAnon's e-peen, because epic thread is fucking EPIC, and OPAnon should start using tripcode because he is also FUCKING EPIC.

While I agree with the above anons that this thread is above average, I disagree that this means anon should get a tripcode.

For example, right now this story is well written, but say anon goes on to create another story that does not pan out as well. As an anonymous, he can handle both situations separately, but as a tripcode user, people's opinions of one story will affect their opinion of the other unjustly: as it was so aptly put at one point "the advantage of an anonymous board is that it allows users to be judged by what they say and do, not who they are"

You make a good point, but I, personally, would choose practicality over principle in this situation. I don't know jack about tripcode, as I've never used it, but isn't it possible to use it selectively by toggling it depending on what thread you're in? Or maybe somehow use a different identification (not just a different name) in each thread?

I do take pride in being anonymous, but things seem like they'd be easier if readers could at least know which anon the OP is. After all, you can't assume that his *every* post will be a big, beautiful, writefag-distinguishing wall.
Tripcodes are simple. They're generated by placing text preceded by a hash sign. For example, right now, in my name field, I've opted to use #tripcode. You can change the name before the hash and keep the same tripcode (ie: name!trip and alternatename!trip use the same hash).

Secure tripcodes are given by using 2 octothorpes. As the name implies, they're harder to crack. But hardly necessary in most context. After all, it can take days, weeks, or even months (depending on CPU power) to crack a regular tripcode.

And as for practicality, you can just opt to post with a different name/trip (or no tripcode) whenever you want. Just empty the name field to post as anonymous. In the end, it should a thing of comfort. Names are okay in some situations (a writefag might make an argument that its even necessary), but I'm a believer that it's in the end a matter of personal choice and not an obligation.

Hope this helps.

You = gentleman, scholar, etc.
Document was recoverable. Expect it sometime today.
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No obnoxious fairies, no Tunnel Snakes, no piece of paper you’re trying to get from her under pretense—you’ve got this one in the bag.
“You know, Ren, you could always sleep in my bed.”
Ren chokes on her beer. “It—“ thumping her sternum with her fist, coughing.
“You alright?” You grab her shoulder, trying to look concerned, but you can’t help the amusement that leaks into your voice.
She holds her nose, looking away from you. “It went up my nose.” It’s impossible to tell whether the redness is actual blushing, or an effect of the beer.
You let go of her shoulder, watching her intently and waiting in silence for her response.
She turns back to you, her sly smirk returning. “I think…” Her eyes flit to the two remaining, unopened beer cans in her lap, “I think I’m about three beers too short to be making any decisions on where I’ll be sleeping tonight,” with a note of finality.
“Good thing I hid away that other six-pack, then.”
And she blanches. Ha. Ha. I have you now, Usami.
“I’ll just go and get it.” You stand up and move toward the door.
You turn back to look at her, expecting more sputtering.
She lowers her voice. “I mean…” Looking you in the eyes with a thinner, more genuine smile this time, “Okay.”
“Okay.” You grin and nod back at her, before hitting the hand-sensor on the door and walking out into the corridor. You breathe a sigh of relief and lean against the door for a moment after it slides shut, relying on the feeling of cold metal against your clear the fog in your head. More sobering is the sound of clanging and cursing from within the room: Looks like you’re not the only one who’ll be trying their best tonight.

“—Sweet Georgia Brown!”
You return with beer in hand to the sound of jazz piping in through Ren’s Pip-Boy. She has her skirt back on, ponytail up, and by her apron and the sound of sizzling oil, appears to be cooking something. Her bare foot taps the floor to the beat of the music. Looks like she’s tidied up a bit, though you assume that means she’s just heaped all her clothes that were on the floor inside her closet.
“Hey!” She responds loudly with a wave, not turning around.
You set the second six-pack on the bed, removing the last beer from the first; it looks like Ren’s already started on her third.
“What’s cookin’, good lookin’?” You wrap yours arms around her waist from behind.
She wrinkles her nose at the terrible come on. “It’s actually your favorite, Max. Spam a la Ren.” She empties what’s left of her beer can into the skillet in front of her. “Velveeta and fried Spam on toasted Wonderbread. Figured I may as well get a head start on the thousand-and-one different ways I’ll be expected to prepare shaped meat product.” She lowers her voice to a conspiratorial whisper, “The secret apparently is to coat everything in fine layer of Crisco.”
You grimace, looking at the quart-sized tub of Crisco next to the pan of frying, shaped meat product and homogenized cheese food. “It smells… delicious.”
“Your lies are more believable when you aren’t digging your fingers into my skin.”
“Sorry.” Whoops!
“’S alright. There are worse tells to have. At least your body is honest,” she adds with a smirk.

Yeah, we’ll see who has the honest body later tonight… maybe, hopefully. Ding. The toaster pops up with slices of toast. She breaks out of your grasp to grab the toast. She doesn’t so much as flinch; girl must have some pretty thick calluses. You back away from the heady smell of grease, beer, and tobacco, and decide sit back down, maybe do some light reading: You snatch one of the magazines out from beneath the mattress, not really caring which one.
“You know, a million years ago, it was the man’s duty to bring the food to the table,” still smirking.
“The men hunted, and the women gathered. A million years later, I don’t see you wearing a purse full of walnuts & mutfruit.” She can sew though, you’ll give her that much. Mail order space-bunny outfits: ‘Now you can re-enact the Great Lunar Offensive right in your own bedroom!’
“Yeah.” She cocks her head to the side in consideration. “We still live in caves, though,” she finishes lamely.
“Pretty up-scale these caves are, with running water and electricity and all.” An advert dedicated to mushroom-shaped vibrators. Bizarre.
“You know what your problem is, Max?” Ren shuts off the stove; the dial clicks as it’s turned past the igniter setting. Ooh, risqué crosswords.
“A seven letter word that rhymes with dhole?”
“A seven letter…? No, you’re not an asshole, Max—”
“Bingo.” Now, a five letter word for ‘vulva’ that ends with an ‘h’?
“—You’re more of a sonuvabitch. Gimme that.” The girly magazine is snatched (that’s it!) from your grasp. Ren drops it in a foot pedal-operated garbage pail. Bah. She’ll probably dig it out herself later.
“What you’re trying to say—with the characteristic subtlety of hatchet—is that in the human mating dynamic you have something to offer, making a display of this, and challenging me to make my own display. A courtship dance.” You stand up and offer out your right palm, tuning the sound music from Ren’s Pip-Boy back in.
’Rolling along. Rolling along. Rolling along.’
“Yeah, sure.” She takes your hand with an expression that is once both amused and puzzled, as if she were expecting to be on the butt-end of a joke. On the front of her apron, a mushroom cloud with the caption: ‘Los Alamos, New Mexico’.
‘Ol’ Man River. That Ol’ Man River. He don’t say nothin’, but he must know something,’
Taking her left hand up in your right and entwining your fingers, setting her ft on your shoulder putting your left on her back above the waist, you begin to dance.
’For Ol’ Man River, he just keeps rolling along.
‘Dance’ being a term used very loosely here for what is essentially a hug and some swaying, but hey it serves a reasonable excuse to stare into each others' eyes.
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’He don’t plant taters; he don’t plant cotton, and them that plants ‘em, they’re soon forgotten,’
She smells like tobacco, leather, and… definitely something else… cloves? Amber? Whatever it is cuts through the grease in the air entirely.
While Ol’ Man River, he just keeps rolling along.
“Are you wearing perfume?” You recall she did mention a perfume seller when you were combing her hair.
’You and me, sweat & strain, body all achin’, and racked with pain…’
“Do you think it suits me?” She asks with a toothy smile on her lips, daring you give her an unsatisfactory answer.
’Tote that barge. Lift that bail. Get a little drunk and land in jail.’
Well, it’s dykey and angular and dark and completely unpresentable, so…
’I’m just weary and sick of trying…’
“It does,” you reply truthfully.
’I’m tired of living but afraid of dying…’
“Better. You didn’t dig your nails into my back this time.”
A sudden slyness to her grin stifles your retort.
’While Ol’ Man River, he just keeps rollin’ along…’
“You have the look and attitude down, Maxey…“
She takes the lead, just as the pace of the music picks up.
’You and me, we sweat and slave…’
“But if this is a courtship dance, I’ll tell you…”
It may just be a simple side-to-side shuffle, but to someone who’s never danced before, the sudden need to choreograph one’s movements so as not to step on the feet of one’s partner is still a bit terrifying.
’Body all achin’ and wracked with pain.’
“You need more than just dancin’ shoes…”
’Tote that barge, lift that bail.’
“To be a good dancer!”
’Get a little drunk and land in jail.’
You attempt to give her a dirty look, but the growing number of teeth displayed in her smile tells you the blush on your face is clearly visible.
’I’m just weary and sick of trying.’
“Don’t sulk.”
“I’m not sulking!” You are going to get yours.
’I’m tired of living, but afraid of dying…’
“You are too—Ow! You did that on purpose!”
’While Ol’ Man River, he just keeps rollin’ along.’
“Sorry. I’m just not a skilled dancer is all.”
“Yeah well, you’re lucky I don’t twirl you into a wall, Mr. Savoir Fai—nuh-uh! Not gonna get me twice!”
Tch. You’re about to attempt a third step of the Rockatansky Shuffle, when Ren’s foot locks around the back of your ankle, causing you to fall backwards. You yelp.
Ren catches you around the waist. You open your mouth to say something, but keenly aware of the fact that if she let go, you really would fall, it doesn’t get further than that. Until she starts snickering.
“Th-the song is over!” you stammer huffily.
She sets you back upright, before she loses her composure to laughter completely.
“Hahahahahaha! That was… You… Perfect! Ahahahaha!”
Your good nature gets the better of you, and you start laughing along with her.
“Alright, Chuckles,” you open your fourth beer, and hand her hers. “Our Spam-wiches are getting cold.”
Ren brings the two plates over.
“You want harvest gold? Or avocado?” The color of the plates.
“Harvest gold. Wait, no… avocado.”
“You sure now? I think I have royal blue somewhere.”
“Just give me the goddamn thing, will you? I’m hungry.”
“Yeah, well you tell me how it is.”
You give her a wary eye, noticing that she’s looking at you without touching her own. A bite.
“Uh, I guess it’s pretty good,” chewing. “Wonderbread really brings out the MSG in the Spam.”
“Yeah…” She takes a bite. “But it’s missing something.”
“If you pull out a tub of Hellman’s Mayonnaise, I’m going to crack you with a spanner,” remembering the near-altercation you had with her this morning.
“No, no, not condiments: I don’t have a dinner table, but I do have a… Eh…” She starts to go to open the right side closet door, hesitates, and goes for the left side instead, carefully. So she did just stuff everything in her closet.
After a thirty second comic interlude of her struggling to get something out of from under the heaped junk: “Ta da~!”
“A genuine, aluminum, fold-up, made for made-for-TV-dinner dinner tray?”
“Now say that three times fast.”
“Uh zhenuine, arumin—“
“Not with food in your mouth!”
Looking at this spread in front of you, Spam and Velveeta on Wonderbread, Bakelite dishware on a tin serving tray, the only thing that could be campier is if you had an honest-to-God plastic-wrapped TV dinner. Sure, you could get Salisbury steak in the caf, but it doesn’t come with individual pockets for each of the side-dishes, or the pudding desert.
“You know, you haven’t grown up at all, Max,” her voice is too well-humored to sound reproachful.
“Sure I have. I’m no longer referred to as ‘The Walking Epidemic of Cooties’ by my peers, am I?”
Ren laughs. “Max, that means they’ve grown up. You on the other hand are still a little boy, swinging from monkey bar to monkey bar in this plastic jungle-gym we adults call a ‘Vault.’”
“I’m not the one with Lincoln Log houses up on display on the shelf of my room.”
“You probably don’t remember that, I guess we were around eight or nine, but this was when our big dream was to make it on the Outside. We had a contest on who could design the best model house.”
“And who won?”
“I did. Mary built a complex arrangement of Dyson spheres out of hollowed-out Styrofoam balls, and you… built a castle made of Legos.”
“Hahaha! Yeah, I remember that. It had a moat and portcullis. But yeah it’d be pretty hard to find enough building blocks to build a house large enough to live in.”
“It didn’t really matter, though. There weren’t even any trees that we could see that would yield viable lumber. That’s pretty much when I gave up the idea of making it out there. Well, I suppose it’s all water under the bridge now,” she sighs.
You wonder how true that is considering the still-packed backpack in closet, but decide not press the issue just now.
“Yeah, well anyway, this little boy realized long ago that ‘cooties’ were something he wanted to spread to as many girls as possible.”
Ren makes a sour face. “You might want to get a doctor to look at that. I’m sure the bunny nurses would be happy to give demonstration on how to apply the various anti-venereal creams.” The joke of course is that with a genetically-screened population, with a 10:1 female-to-male ratio, in which everyone undergo a full physical yearly, VD is practically unheard of. Those slide shows from Health class were still rather horrifying though.
“Hey, those bunny nurses have cold hands,” shuddering at the unearthed memories.
“I’ll bet. ‘Nurse Ratchet, I’m waiting for my sponge bath~!’”
“I don’t sound anything like that!”
“Yeah, yeah.” Ren picks up the now empty plates and returns them to the sink.
“You’re just gonna leave them there?”
After a heated discussion on the number of days it is appropriate to leave dishes to “soak” you end up being the one washing the dishes and scouring the frying pan. The grease smell was quite strong, but you realized it was only because Ren didn’t think to turn on the outtake vent over the stovetop.
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You admit you lack of direction as to where you want to take the evening: “Anyway, I didn’t plot this out past the point where alcohol is introduced; it tends to leave my most carefully laid plans by the wayside.” More like, it leaves them beaten and penniless in a gutter to drown on their own vomit.
“Guess it’s no big deal, you brought the booze, so it’ll be up to me to entertain us tonight. Uh, what do you say to a game of Parcheesi, watching some reruns of Rockford Files, and then maybe I could show you how to crush beer cans with your forehead?”
“Sounds good man,” you concur.
“Well, it’s settled then,” Ren slaps her bare thighs as she stands up on the bed. “I’mma put the kettle on.” Pointing at you, “You set up the game.”
“Top shelf of the closet?”
“Top shelf of the closet, Max. We’ll play on the bed.” She grins back at you, redirecting your attention. “Get some of the dry towels while you’re at it.”
You get up, slide the left closet door open, and look up to the top shelf. Right where she said it was, PARCHEESI: “THE ROYAL GAME OF INDIA”, among other well-loved, but dusty, board games in tattered boxes, the corners of many reinforced through the decades by countless layers of duct tape. Other nostalgia, that pack of girly playing cards that gave your prepubescent mind the first glimpse of the female anatomy, the mahjong set with that weird extra piece Mary found one day, the Ouija board, a half-dozen sets of Tarot cards, and Christ almighty—Pogs. You carefully slide the Parcheesi box out from between Operation and Hungry Hungry Hippos, sneezing violently due to the loosened dust.
“Danke,” You sniffle and clear your throat. “Where are the towels?”
“On the drying rack, outside.”
Opening the door, you spot them to your left. The only dry ones are more like beach towels than those bath towels earlier, but they’ll do. You lay them out on the wet mattress, taking off your boots so you can sit on her bed comfortably without soiling it, then opening the game box.
“I call Yellow Camels!” Ren shouts as you’re busy making sure the pieces are all there; there seems to have been a number of replacement tokens added over the years.
“We don’t have any Yellow Camels.”
“Then I call Marlboro Reds.”
“Very funny, Ren.”
“…So whadda we got then?”
“We have Red Hotels, Green Houses, Gray Battleships, and Blue Strateg—”
“Gray Battleships!”
“Guess I’ll be blue then.”

After six beers you and Ren are pretty tanked. Of course you could would like to keep going, but there’s no more beer unmistakable signs about room of drunken depravity. The mountain of folderol spewing out the open closet door, the floor littered with pancake-flat beer cans and scattered game pieces; the marble phrenology bust on the desk, now forever defaced by indelible marker, and, most telling, the increasingly disheveled appearance of its occupants. Ren is standing one foot against the wall, her blouse half unbuttoned, her skirt unclasped, held up by suspenders. Across the room on the floor is you, leaning against a bedpost with your jumpsuit unzipped down to your skivvies and undershirt, the sleeves tied around your waist as a sort of belt. Ren’s hair came undone when she lost her scrunchie by shooting it at you (for “rules-lawyering”—sorry Ren, the penalty for triple doublets is a standard rule in Parcheesi , not a variant). She’s wearing her fedora now, which entered discussion upon your prize for winning the game, five-out-of-seven times (originally one-out-of-three, then three-out-of-five), which allowed you to extract a promise that she doff her hat as a sign of respect whenever she passes you in the hallway.
Looking down at your digital display on your Pip-Boy, it looks a little after ten, or eleven, or maybe twelve—definitely in the double digits. You’re in the middle of a rambling diatribe concerning “pleats vs. flat-front” or something equally ridiculous, when you’re told quite suddenly, and quite rudely, to:
“Don’t shush me you, you—“
But you’re silenced by her scowl, which she follows with the universally-understood hand gestures for ‘cut the chatter’ and ‘listen’.
She cocks her head to the side, which you imitate, listening for whatever it is she’s hearing. There’s been faint music planning from her Pip-Boy all night, but you don’t really catch it until Ren turns the volume up. Now, you’re no musician, but those are some very distinct piano notes. You fumble the knob on your own Pip-Boy to turn up and on the radio.
“Just a small town girl,”
The girl in front of you shifts uncomfortably, as if a spotlight were suddenly cast upon her.
”Livin’ in a lonely world.”
First looking for pants pockets that aren’t there, she pats down her shirt pocket. Smokes.
”She took the midnight train, going anywhere.”
Her eyes roam the room, pointedly ignoring your stare. Yes, you definitely know this song, this warbling.
”Just a city boy,”
You stand up quickly, as if under a compulsion. The invisible spotlight has fallen now on you, a sensation of suffocating awkwardness.
”Born and raised in south Detroit.”
You don’t need handhold to stabilize yourself; maybe you’re less inebriated than you thought? Well, it’s not often you drink alcohol that isn’t synth.
”He took the midnight train, going anywhere.”
You have the impulse to air guitar solo while Ren is distracted with getting her lighter to work, but you instead divert that enthusiasm toward a goal less fantastical than lip-synch stardom: Sex.
”A singer in a smoky room.”
“Final—Hey!” Ren expectant smile is replaced with confusion when you grab her by the arm holding her cigarette, but she doesn’t give any resistance as you drag you toward the door.
”The smell of wine and cheap perfume.”
“Where are we going?” she asks, holding her hat on her head with her free hand.
“We’re eloping.”
”For a smile they can share the night;”
That’s not really an answer to her question, but it seems satisfactory enough that she keeps pace when you step barefoot into the hallway. You let go of her arm—not so much because you don’t want to be seen holding her arm in public, but so that you don’t clothesline anyone when you break into a full-out run.
“You’re on!” she replies confidently.
”It goes on and on and on…”
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It’s impossible to kick open an automated, sliding door, so you settle for slapping the top of the doorframe as you enter your room.
Ren, who crosses the threshold only a few seconds after you do, cannot speak due to her heavily labored breathing, but the mouthed “fuck you” and glare of daggers serves adequate communication. Of course your lungs are burning too, but hell if you’re going to let something as silly as respiratory exhaustion get in the way of your victory gloating.
Yeah, when you start attempting to lure women into your bedchamber by affecting the voice of a Confederate American Civil War general, you can be reasonably sure that you’re shitfaced. Ren is still catching her breath, sitting on your bed. She waves you to come closer, which you do, bowing and cupping your ear in a comically exaggerated fashion.
“…I’ll explore you physically alright.”
What follows is a series of light jabs to your chest and gut, about half of which you manage to block, with the audial accompaniment of a laugh track punctuated by cries of pain, threats, and an is-that-so for good measure. The end result is Ren straddling your chest and pinning your arms, grinning viciously.
“How am I supposed to undress you when you’re holding my arms down?”
“Who will be undressing whom, I wonder, I wonder?” she asks rhetorically before leaning down to kiss you deeply, rivulets of her brown hair cascading down and tickling your ears. Without breaking the kiss, she lets go of your arms and uses her one hand to cup your cheek and brush the hair away from her face, while the other snakes its way up your undershirt to play with the hairs below your stomach. Freed yourself, you unbutton her already half-undone blouse and slide the other up her skirt. Breaking the kiss, Ren kneels up on her knees and removes her blouse, the suspenders falling off her shoulders.
“Arms up.”
You comply, allowing her to strip you of your shirt. She positions herself further down your body, before leaning down to kiss you again, twice quickly, before leaning back to look at you, taking your hands off her body and putting them in hers. Her face is fully flushed, and her breathing is shallow and rapid.
“This doesn’t feel awkward at all to you, right?” she asks, her voice raspy.
You shake your head dumbly. Another you in another time, in another place, might’ve had reservations about sleeping with your friend, but what right now, here, it feels like the most natural thing in the world.
“Me neither,” beaming, she stands momentarily so she can drop her skirt.
She places one of your hands on her breast, slipping through the low-cut v-neck of her undershirt, and sits up on her knees so she can unzip your jumpsuit fully. She removes her hat to take off her shirt; you take it from her hand and put it back on her head, now the only thing she’s wearing aside from her mélange gray underwear.
“I like the hat. The hat stays,” you tell her, evoking a giggle from her.
You use your hands to play with her small but pert breasts, while she traces a line up your inner thigh before reaching you underwear, at which she pauses momentarily, with a look of hesitation on her face, as if she hadn’t expected you to be fully aroused yet. She recovers quickly.
With far too much irony in her voice, “I guess that’s enough forepla—mmph!”
You interrupt her jaded jabbering, leaning up and kissing her, then using your greater mass to maneuver so that you’re now on top. Not breaking the kiss, she takes the opportunity to slide your underwear off, and you hers. After giving the both of you a moment to look at each other’s bodies, you position yourself at her opening and look to her for the final confirmation. She nods, and so you enter her.
If there’s any pain, she hides it well; you meet little resistance, and she is already very wet. The sharp intake of air on her part still causes you to take it slow, waiting a few seconds before entering her fully. Ren’s clouded, brown eyes look up into your own, her entire face down to her chest is red as a beet; you can’t know that you won’t regret this in the morning, but let it not be said that it was only for “meaningless” sex, but the consummation of years of mutual physical longing. Ren’s hands roam up your stomach to the chest, teasing your nipples, then tracing your shoulders as you start a slow conjugal rhythm, eventually using your hands hold her against the bed by the ankles. Her hands become increasingly less active as you build up speed, now mesmerized by the sight of her breasts sliding up and down across her chest, as if they were made of gelatin. She doesn’t vocalize, but she communicates well enough in gestures: biting or licking her lips, gnawing on one of her knuckles, scrunching her nose, furrowing her brow, clenching her jaw, sliding an errant strand of hair away from her face, holding her hat against her head, pinching one of her own nipples, sweat beading on her forehead, the hairs on her arms standing on end, fingers and toes scratching you or grabbing at the sheets, tossing her head. It makes you want to see the full spectrum of expression from this girl on your bed, who, aside from some coy glances, seems lost in her own world of pleasure.
You have the opportunity to shift position a few times, mostly just the angle of insertion and how her legs are splayed—free, held fast against the bed by the ankles, one or both over your shoulders, toes between your fingers. Like all good things, it comes to an end eventually.
Ren starts muttering rapidly; between the sound of your own heart beat, labored breathing, and the obscene sound of your union, you can’t hear what she’s saying (“Mary”? “Maxey”? “Meira”?), but you know she’s nearing climax, and it’s a good thing, because so are you. When her legs lock around your back tightly, you decide to cheat: Taking of one of her hands up in your own, you use the other hand to give her some direct clitoral stimulation.
It’s a short moan but it conveys its message, signaling the start of that cascade of movement that is the female orgasm. Her walls spasm around you, her heels dig into your back, her fingernails into the back of your hand, and her body is wracked with a series of convulsions, and ends with the arching her back upwards, and mouth agape, calling out to men or women or gods in silent ecstasy. You grunt as you press against her as hard and with as much weight as you dare for fear of fracturing someone’s pubis (is that possible?) or bruising her cervix, shuddering as you feel three pulses of white light shoot down your spine and out into the girl below you, who is now sensitive enough that she climaxes again at the feeling of warm liquid spilling into her abdomen.
Exhaustion suddenly catches up with you, and you let yourself collapse, still inside her, under the pretense of giving her a brief kiss to the forehead. You bury your face in her shoulder, closing your eyes and inhaling the scent of her shampoo until you can get your own breathing under control. You feel the sensation of her hand on the back of your head, fingers running through your hair.
“That was good,” she tells you, voice hoarse.
“Yeah.” There’s no response you can give that wouldn’t be an understatement.
Irony of ironies, Hendrix’ “The Wind Cries Mary” is playing softly through your Pip-Boys, but neither of you are callow enough to mention it, nor are either of you willing to acknowledge its existence by turning it off (and besides, it’s Hendrix, man).
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“Hand me my shirt would you?”
Rolling off of her, and not knowing which shirt she means, you pick her blouse up off the floor and hand it to her.
Ah, her cigarettes. They were in the breast pocket. She takes one out.
You get back under the bed sheets, which are now as soaked as they ones in her room were, laying down supine next to her.
It takes a few snaps before you’re able to summon up enough mana to create a flame.
“Thanks,” she says, exhaling a long plume of smoke. “Close your eyes would you?”
You’re about to be offended, when she stands up on the bed in full naked glory and planting her fedora over your face and obscuring your vision.
“Just for a second.”
You can feel her still standing on the mattress for a moment longer, then she hops off the bed with an oomph. There’s the sound of the light switch flipping off, and then she lays down again next to you, now resting her head on your chest. Some ash falls on you from her cigarette, but in the face of the post-coital endorphin rush, it’s not even worth bringing it.
“You can open ‘em.”
You take the hat off your face. The room is dark of course, but you can see plainly the Big Dipper on your ceiling. Those same glow-in-the-dark plastic stars that were on the ceiling in her room—must’ve had them in her shirt pocket. Huh. Without anything to say, you don’t say anything, holding the girl next to you and staring up at the artificial night sky until you drift off to a blissful, dreamless sleep.

“Ba-ba! Ba-ba! I got you babe! Ba-ba! Ba-ba! I got you babe!”
You groan, trying to massage the headache out of your temples. Why won’t the alarm turn off? You’ve pressed ‘snooze' on your Pip-Boy five times to no avail. Is that fairy back to make your life a living hell? No, wait, it’s not coming from your Pip-Boy, it’s coming from the Pip-Boy of the woman sleeping next to you. Oh. Oh yeah. As if you were dreaming and expecting to wake up any second from now, you poke her in the face, half-expecting her to explode in a cloud of glittering dust, like some fairy-wrought glamour. It provokes a grunt instead. Renko.
Your head starts to throb mercilessly. Why the hell would she set her alarm for 6:00 AM? No Dai yet, but you know it’s only a matter of time.

[ ] It’ll be up to Ren to decide how she wants to deal with this. You’re going back to sleep.
[ ] Breakfast for the both of you. Eggy-wegs and steaky-wegs and lumpits of toasty.
[ ] That appointment with Mary is a reasonable excuse; construct additional hangover cures, then GTFO.
[ ] Wake her up, or rather, play with her face until she wakes up.
[ ] Take a shower; maybe she’ll be awake when you come back.
[ ] Take a shower; maybe she’ll be awake when you come back.
[ ] Breakfast for the both of you. Eggy-wegs and steaky-wegs and lumpits of toasty.

[ ] Breakfast for the both of you. Eggy-wegs and steaky-wegs and lumpits of toasty.
[X] Breakfast for the both of you. Eggy-wegs and steaky-wegs and lumpits of toasty.

I'm too tired to do more than just skim, but I saw references to two of my favorite movies. A good wall indeed.

I want my cigarettes, Miss Ratched~
Jesus Christ.

[x] Breakfast for the both of you. Eggy-wegs and steaky-wegs and lumpits of toasty.

These sum up my thoughts perfectly.

It's also funny. For all that people wanted to stay and talk with her thinking we'd get something out of it information wise, nothing much came out of it. Though combining the two worked out splendidly so I'm happy I pushed for that choice.
[X] Breakfast for the both of you. Eggy-wegs and steaky-wegs and lumpits of toasty.

Let us all take shelter in this grandmaster writefag's impenetrable fortress of text!
[X] Breakfast for the both of you. Eggy-wegs and steaky-wegs and lumpits of toasty.

That was pretty awesome.
[x] Breakfast for the both of you. Eggy-wegs and steaky-wegs and lumpits of toasty.
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Despite the massive headache, and waking up this ungodly hour, you feel pretty good about last night, and assuming Ren remembers it the way you do, she will too. Which is not to say you feel no trepidation over what may come to pass today; you still have Dai and Mary to deal with, and who knows if Dai really wasn’t listening in on last night’s circumstances. If she lets Mary know, how would she feel about it? Could she understand that Ren is really in love with her? Or has last night changed that? If Ren wants to continue relations with you, she might help you prepare for what’s out there, but then again she might also try to stop you from leaving altogether. But do you even want to go? Then there’s the problem of how Ren’s fellow Tunnel Snakes might react to the discovery of you being Ren’s new boy-toy. How complicated.
One step at a time, Max. You could do with a shower, but your stomach is rumbling something fierce, and if Ren sets her alarm this early, she’s due to wake up soon anyway. Slipping out now would be pretty gauche, maybe even dangerous, depending on how offended Ren would be. Whip up a passable breakfast and brew some coffee in the percolator, and do something about the hangover while you’re at it. Taking Ren’s wrist off your chest, you can’t help but give another sniff at her perfume--it brings you back to the Roaring (19)20s, with the thought of Ren in a bob-cut, surrounded by hot dykes, smoking Cuban robustos in Tamara de Lempicka’s green Bugatti. You find the mental image so humorous that you’re energized into rolling out of bed with only a minimum of grumbling. The sobering coldness of the linoleum flooring finds you moving from crawling on four limbs to standing on two in record time. You shamble over to the closet taking out your favorite robe, now missing the warmth of another body next to you.
Coffee, coffee. With that lovely sound a percolator makes, you’ll never go back to drip. It produces a stronger brew, too. But coffee is only one part of the equation. You’ll need food too, and a bowl of Cirn-Os won’t do; it has be impressive. Let’s see: Eggs? Powdered eggs. Milk? Powdered milk. Steak? A pre-War air-sealed can of chipped beef. Last but not least, we have Wonderbread, which is truly wondrous, seeing as how they were able to put enough preservatives in it so that it’s no longer properly food, passing through the GI tract almost completely undigested! After reconstituting the eggs and the milk with water, you beat the bowl with a whisk until the mixture reaches a fairly homogeneous yellow. Can opener on the chipped beef. Does it smell? No, at least not in a rancid way. Bread goes in the toaster. Empty eggs into a prepared frying pan, turning the burner on low. Wait for them to coagulate a little, add salt, then scramble with all your might. Empty eggs onto plates. Turn burner on high, empty the chipped beef onto pan. Tap your foot impatiently. Toaster dings. Toast on plates next to eggs. Chipped beef goes on the toast. Shit on a shingle, with a side of cholesterol, two servings. Coffee’s done. Pour into two oversized mugs. Two packets of Goody’s Powder headache remedy dissolved into each, bitter taste of the coffee masking the bitter taste of medicine. No sugar, you sweeten it with a half-shot of sambucca instead—hair of the dog that bit you.
You hear groaning. Just in time. Ren is sitting up, bleary-eyed, and either not yet conscious enough to be self-conscious, or she hasn’t noticed you; her nakedness is plain to see.
“What time is it?” she mutters.
“6:21 in the AM. Funny that your alarm clock that woke me up but not you.”
She fixes a distant stare on you, as if wondering what the hell another person is doing in her room. Then she looks around the room, probably now realizing it is not in fact her room she awoke in.
The exploration of her surroundings ends with her forehead meeting her palm. “Max?”
Pulling your chair over to the bed and sitting down, “Here you go. Careful, it’s hot.”
“Thanks,” she accepts the oversized mug with both hands, and about to take a sip at when she looks further down at herself, noticing her own nakedness. Too late to do anything about that now, unless she wants to risk dropping a vessel filled to the brim with scalding hot liquid on herself.
You retrieve both plates and two sets of flatware, placing them on the bed, before returning with your own coffee to sit on the chair, facing Ren, though neither of you are looking at each other.
“So,” you begin, checking your Pip-Boy briefly for signs of fey activity.
“So,” she continues, blowing on her coffee.
“Crazy night, huh?”
“Yeah,” she nods.
“But it was a fun crazy night, right?” you press.
“Right.” The hint of a smile now crosses her face.
It’s about fifteen minutes of companionable silence, you and Ren sipping coffee and eating breakfast, though you do catch Ren making some furtive glances at you in the corner of your eye.
“So, what is it you normally do so early in the day?”
“Huh?” Ren seems surprised by the question.
“Your alarm on the Pip-Boy.”
“Oh, that? Well I, uh, exercise. Usually.”
“The gym isn’t open on Sundays.”
“Alone. I exercise alone.”
Curiouser and curiouser. “What kind of exercise? Don’t tell me it’s running.”
“Shut up.” She swats at you. “No, I have my own free weights. You have seen them in my closet.”
Yeah, buried under a mountain of untouched sports equipment. “Every day?”
“Yeah. Why are you giving me the third degree here, Max?”
“Well, seeing as how I’m up now, maybe I could be your spotter?”
“I don’t think that’s…”
“Are you saying that I’m unreliable or are you saying that I’m weak?”
“No. Yes! Maybe… Stop badgering me!”
You laugh. “Look if it’s something you’re that embarrassed to talk about, I’ll drop it.”
Ren scowls. “It’s not about being embarrassed!”
“Then what is it?”
Ren bites hard on a thumbnail and looks away for a second, then leans over you to your ear, supporting herself with a hand on your thigh. In an angry whisper, “I have an old Type 14 that I go target plinking in one of the sealed sublevels with.”
You’re no gun enthusiast by any means, but the Type 14 pistol, chambered for the 8x22mm Nambu cartridge, was by far the most ubiquitous civilian pistol in post-WWII Japan. And while everyone in the Vault is trained in the basic operation of a firearm, possession of guns is strictly verboten.
Lowering your voice to a whisper as well, “You got it from the wastes?”
“How do you think I chased off that giant scorpion that nearly killed you? Harsh language?”
Well, it makes sense. But how does she find the ammunition?
“Yeah, but ‘target practice’? Where do you find the bullets?”
“I don’t. I mean, I’ve been able to steal or bribe a few boxes here and there from the Snakes who work in security, but generally speaking I have to recycle the casings and bullets through handloading. Luckily, the machine shop is pretty much empty most of the time.”
“Uh huh.” You could say that this is highly industrious of her, but you really didn’t need another reason to be afraid of this girl.
You’re both done with breakfast. And the awkwardness of dealing with last night has been replaced by another, newer awkwardness—one unprepared for.

[ ] “Target shooting, huh? Could you, maybe, show me?”
- [ ] Ask if she can let you try.
- [ ] Talk to Ren about what? (write-in)
[ ] You both need to take a shower. Show Ren your private bath.
- [ ] Talk to Ren about what? (write-in)
[ ] Ren has something she has to do, and you won’t hold her up.
- [ ] Take a shower.
- [ ] Start reading that document.
- [ ] Try to get Dai online.
- [ ] It’s shrine time.
[ ] Go to the shrine, but bring Ren with you as muscle and/or emotional support.
[ ] Last night was awkward. Cut the tension by shagging her senseless. Again. Sober this time.
[ ] Always room for a write-in.
[x] Ren has something she has to do, and you won’t hold her up.
- [x] Start reading that document.
[ ] “Target shooting, huh? Could you, maybe, show me?”
- [ ] Ask if she can let you try.

Really though, this story is now the highlight of my week.
[ ] Last night was awkward. Cut the tension by shagging her senseless. Again. Sober this time.

best way to reduce the awkward, really. that we get an extra h-scene is just a bonus.
I know this is a slowpoke comment, but...

>>"...sensitive enough that she climaxes again at the feeling of warm liquid spilling into her abdomen."

Holy shit! That's fucking SENSITIVE.
[X] You both need to take a shower. Show Ren your private bath.
[X] Last night was awkward. Cut the tension by shagging her senseless. Again. Sober this time.

You're both filthy, you could both use a bath, and this would be quite relaxing for both of you. Kill two birds with one stone, and make love in the shower. I feel very tempted throw in talking with her about your relationship, but I'm not sure how to pull it off well.
[x] You both need to take a shower. Show Ren your private bath.
[x] Last night was awkward. Cut the tension by shagging her senseless. Again. Sober this time.

I like the way you think. That and our gun skill isn't exactly stellar so trying it would be a waste. Sex in the morning will go a long way in getting us through the day with a smile plastered on our face anyways.
[X] You both need to take a shower. Show Ren your private bath.
[X] Last night was awkward. Cut the tension by shagging her senseless. Again. Sober this time.

Sounds lovely. Inb4 hot water is suddenly cut off.
[ ] Last night was awkward. Cut the tension by shagging her senseless. Again. Sober this time.

Oh wow.
[X] You both need to take a shower. Show Ren your private bath.

Mm, scrambled and chipped.
[X] You both need to take a shower. Show Ren your private bath.
[X] Last night was awkward. Cut the tension by shagging her senseless. Again. Sober this time.

Any other choice is HERESY.
No, Anonymous, no! Shagging stop!



...Haha, just kidding.

[X] You both need to take a shower. Show Ren your private bath.
[X] Last night was awkward. Cut the tension by shagging her senseless. Again. Sober this time.
[x] You both need to take a shower. Show Ren your private bath.
[X] You both need to take a shower. Show Ren your private bath.
[X] Last night was awkward. Cut the tension by shagging her senseless. Again. Sober this time.

[X] You both need to take a shower. Show Ren your private bath.
[X] Last night was awkward. Cut the tension by shagging her senseless. Again. Sober this time.

you guy's've entered into territory I have absolutely no understanding of, so no vote, just showing support for excellent writing.
Testing whether this is on autosage or not.

Auto-sage starts at 200 posts. And >>77737 is the correct thread to bump.
Thank you! I couldn't spot it without the obvious title.
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